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Pandering to the Base

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"If it's an idea you would have thought of anyway, fine. It's okay for a manga artist to adapt like that. But if you go around absorbing everything your fans give you, you end up with gibberish, like this. Listen, fan mail is something to encourage you, not something to steal ideas from. If you start using all these suggestions, then your work won't be Muto Ashirogi's anymore. It'll be something your fans created... understand?"
Miura deconstructs this idea, Bakuman。

One of the oddities of creating art is the nebulous relationship between the fans of the media and the creators of that media. In theory, the creators, producers, and distributors are the ones calling the shots; they decide what's happening in the work, and the fans follow as they will. But that's a bit naive; it's the fans who keep the ratings up, the sales high, and the money flowing in. And if you displease the fans, they can just go elsewhere and take their money with them. The existence of things like Fanon Discontinuity, Audience-Alienating Era, Author's Saving Throw, and Fanon means that any property successful enough to cultivate a group of intensely devoted fans is going to be at least partially concerned with satisfying their wishes; to some degree, you have to give the people what they want.

So, just give the fans exactly what they want, and everything will work out. Right?

Wrong. Generally speaking, the more intensely devoted fans in a fandom are usually outnumbered by the casual fans. But the more devoted a fan becomes, the more active (and louder) they become in the fandom. So while a few million casual fans might enjoy an episode of a show without ever making that fact widely known, a handful of devoted and occasionally unhinged fans are screaming about how the show is Ruined FOREVER, which can be seen and heard by everyone... including the people making the show. The creators may then start pandering to these voices exclusively, believing them to be the voice of everyone watching (which these fans will often claim to be) — but "everyone" in this case may in fact consist only of a handful of people, and what this minority wants and what the less-noisy fans want can differ drastically.

This presents a major problem. The property can end up becoming a private club, accessible only to a select few. Excluding the casual fans means they'll simply drift away to find something else to spend their time on, and raising the entry bar too high means you run the risk of locking out new fans who may have been interested in the property, but now find it too difficult to access. While the vocal minority might now be satisfied (and you can't even count on that), they rarely translate to enough ratings and/or sales to justify the property's continued existence — and to make matters worse, even this hardcore minority that you catered to may begin to drift away for numerous reasons (changing tastes, burnout, lessened interest, etc). This results in diminishing returns, ending in eventual cancellation if unchecked.

Furthermore, the overall quality of the property can begin to suffer if you just listen to the vocal minority; just because someone is intensely committed to a particular work of fiction doesn't necessarily mean they know what makes good fiction work. The hardcore fans are generally fascinated by the backstory, mythos, trivia, and continuity which can build up around a franchise, but this doesn't necessarily make riveting entertainment to anyone less interested in all of this stuff. And if you somehow get the story's continuity tangled up or make any mistakes in your established lore, this makes things worse; not only have you lost the interest of the people who don't care about this stuff, you've annoyed the people who do, and it's now guaranteed they won't be shy about saying so.

In many cases, pandering to the base rarely succeeds in making anyone happy, not even the fans it's supposed to win over. This is because what most devoted fans ultimately want is the same as the casual ones: interesting and engaging stories, not just constant pandering. There's a certain kind of irony here: by trying to give the fans what they say they want, you fail to give them what they actually want.

A wise producer understands a simple rule that helps them avoid all of this; generally speaking, you've got the hardcore minority regardless — they'll usually keep following the story, even if they're dragged in kicking and screaming. You need to win over the undecided. A good producer understands that for every one fan who writes a frothing invective on the Internet or a rabid email, there's probably ten fans who are perfectly content with what's happening.

On the flip side, tropes are not bad; pandering to the base can and indeed in many cases does work out just fine, and can Win Back the Crowd in the best of cases. Sometimes giving the fans what they want is the same as giving the wider audience what they want as well. And while they can at times be annoying, the fans are still part of your audience, and if you're deliberately pissing them off, you're still pissing off a potentially significant segment of your own audience, who will desert you if you go too far; make them angry enough, and they may become so loud that they scare away more casual fans or potential new fans. Furthermore, relying on the approval of the silent majority over the noisy fans presents its own pitfalls — in particular, you might not actually have that approval. The fan criticism you're receiving may have a point.

Compare Vocal Minority, which usually is the bases being pandered to. Sometimes the base in question is the Lowest Common Denominator. Fan Myopia is a reverse of this, where a part of the hardcore audience vastly overestimates how universal its opinion is. Can result in The Chris Carter Effect, Better on DVD, Continuity Lock-Out, Continuity Porn. Compare/contrast Running the Asylum, which is sometimes the writers pandering to the fans, and sometimes pandering to themselves. Can also result in fans screaming Ruined FOREVER as well as an Unpleasable Fanbase. When the pandering actually does work, it's And the Fandom Rejoiced.

This phenomenon is sometimes called "fanservice", but don't confuse this with our definition of said trope (although the two can often be related, depending on what exactly the fanbase being pandered to is demanding).

Tropes this often involves (but are not necessarily this themselves):

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • The "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" ads for Apple can be seen as an inverse case of this. The ads seem to exist to reassure prospective Apple newbies that they're cool rather than providing a reason why knowledgeable Mac users (those interested in more than making fan videos on YouTube, and someone likely to use Photoshop) would want to stay. Not with much success - many people (across the OS divide) see the Mac guy as a stuck-up poseur and the PC guy as, well, John Hodgman.
    • The UK ones are probably worse; they star Mitchell and Webb, and the Mac and PC guys are just close enough to Jeremy and Mark that PC Guy looks like a Romantic Runner-Up and Mac Guy like a Jerkass. Charlie Brooker pointed this out in a column about how much he hates Macs.
    • There is also a small division of grammar vigilantes who berate Apple for claiming that Macs are not Personal Computers. Especially after Apple switched from IBM-Freescale PowerPC to Intel x86.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The KeyAni trio of animes (Kanon, Air and CLANNAD) are notable for barely having any sexual fanservice in the Harem genre, where the Accidental Pervert is the default for a lead. They find other ways to please a loyal fanbase for obsessive fans. One shot in the Clannad anime has the camera pan up while fading to white, finishing with simply the title of the show.
  • Discussed, in-universe, in Bakuman。, and deconstructed. When Mashiro and Takagi, collectively "Muto Ashirogi," are desperate to keep their first series going, and so incorporate fan suggestions into their manga. Miura, for all his flaws, immediately notices something's up, and gives the two a lecture, pointing out that the fans sending mail don't necessarily represent what the majority of the readership wantsnote  and that the fans ultimately want to see what they come up with.
    Miura: If it's an idea you would have thought of anyway, fine. It's okay for a manga artist to adapt like that. But if you go around absorbing everything your fans give you, you end up with gibberish, like this. Listen, fan mail is something to encourage you, not something to steal ideas from. If you start using all these suggestions, then your work won't be Muto Ashirogi's anymore. It'll be something your fans created... understand?
  • Carnival Phantasm seems to have been made exclusively for fans of Tsukihime and Fate/stay night, being little more than a Slice of Life comedy consisting of the cast of the previously mentioned visual novels.
  • The staff behind Code Geass has intimated that fan response incited them into expanding the role of one character as the series progressed.
    • This is a stellar example of non-sexual fanservice. Most fans have been wanting to do this to Suzaku for quite a while now.
  • Many fans of Danganronpa 3 have accused Side:Hope of being this, with the entire cast of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair coming Back from the Dead, Kirigiri surviving and Naegi becoming Headmaster of Hopes Peak Academy with the implication that he and Kirigiri ended up together. Whatever this is a good idea or not is up to debate.
  • The live-action Death Note movies have a very common Fandom-Specific Plot, wherein L defeats Kira.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Hiro Mashima has gone on record saying that, because he had no particular road map laid out for the manga, the response from fans had a huge influence on the way the story and character relationships unfolded, giving characters such as Levy and Mavis more focus based on popularity.
    • The Ship Tease between Natsu and Lucy was something Mashima had absolutely no interest in at the start and was mainly as a response when fans started taking the idea more seriously than he did.
  • Gundam:
    • The entire relation between Gundam fans of the original time-line (Universal Century) and the Alternate Timelines is entirely shaped by the very different expectations of each side as well as Vocal Minority. Disentangling what each group really wants and trying to appeal to both sides is for many what is ruining the original appeal of the series. The fact the UC and Alternate Timelines appeal to different tastes with the same success hasn't helped matters.
    • Fans often claim that Kira Yamato was thrust back into the spotlight (from episode 39 onwards) of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny (taking the spotlight from Shinn Asuka, the de facto main character of Destiny), was because, in Japan, Kira was, and still is, one of the most popular characters in the SEED universe, and perhaps, the Gundam franchise. However, according to Word of God the character was always planned to take a big role before the show started.
    • In the Mobile Suit Gundam Wing novel sequel Frozen Teardrop, the Identical Students of Trowa and Quatre spend a lot of time together. This could possibly be the author (also the head writer of the anime) granting a concession to the Yaoi Fangirls, since Trowa/Quatre was one of if not the most popular yaoi pairing amongst that fandom. It's not a complete concession, though; Quatre's successor is his identical sister.
    • Gundam Build Fighters and Gundam Build Fighters Try are for all intents and purposes this in addition to being so blatantly Merchandise-Driven even for a Gundam show. And it works spectacularly to the point of saving the franchise from being killed off.
  • Kenjiro Hata seems to have a good handle on this trope. When Athena was introduced in Hayate the Combat Butler, the fandom exploded with praise for how the story had changed for the serious and the better character introduction. Since her arcs ended, and Athena faded back into the background, the fandom has returned to the less vocal minority, and Hata has made note how he's happy the story has returned to its normal functioning many times.
  • Love Live!: Maki/Nico was one of the most popular Fan Preferred Couples despite being Ships That Pass in the Night for the entire first season, as they rarely interacted and didn't have many in-story reasons to. The second season took note of how much the fans loved them together and ramped up the Ship Tease, although there was zero explanation for why two characters that barely acknowledged each other's existence before were suddenly all over each other.
    • This happens again in Love Live! Sunshine!! with Yoshiko/Riko, who start receiving a lot of Ship Tease in the show's 2nd season (even having an entire episode focused on them) despite the 1st season heavily hinting at Riko/Chika and Yoshiko/Hanamaru. This was presumably done because Yoshiko/Riko was a popular pair before the anime aired, as well as the fact that their respective voice actresses got along very well.
  • Lucky Star had its pandering in the form of Konata and Kagami getting more screentime than the other two mains because a large group of fanboys enjoyed the incidental yuri fodder. They won but fans of other characters lost out.
  • Naruto: In retrospect, the movie Road to Ninja was this for the Naruto/Sakura shippers, as it was a Non-Serial Movie that contains Ship Tease upon Ship Tease involving those characters. The movie started its production around the same time as Sakura's infamous false love confession to Naruto, and was released at the time when their Ship Tease had pretty much stopped in the manganote , and in hindsight, it was very likely an early apology from the studio for the impending Ship Sinking of the Naruto/Sakura pairing, which would officially come in the canonical movie that came after it and the manga's epilogue. Ironically, a lot of Naruto/Sakura shippers later accused both the author and Studio Pierrot of pandering instead to the followers of the Fan-Preferred Couple, Naruto/Hinata, by making it Canon. However, the author, Masashi Kishimoto, stated in this 2017 Jump Festa interview that he already decided that Naruto/Hinata would be the main Official Couple since the early stages of the manga, but he "did throw in some nuggets" specifically to troll the Naruto/Sakura shippers.
  • 4Kids Entertainment added additional Ship Tease in Pokémon: The Series between Ash and Misty in order to appeal to newfound shippers who were reading more into subtext than the writers actually intended. It got to the point where they even created an original Image Song about shipping the two, though just as many moments were removed as were added.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion shows the audience of the original series many things they wanted to see, including: focusing on Madoka and Homura relationship up to an open declaration of love, heavy Les Yay between Sayaka and Kyoko, showing Charlotte the Witch's human form and giving her an owner-pet like relationship with Mami, making Hitomi briefly into an antagonist, and having Kyubey's evil plan being loudly defeated, and throughout showing all five girls attending school with no tears in sight, albeit under ambiguous circumstances.
  • In the eyes of some fans, Saint Seiya Omega was hit hard with this during its second season. The Clothstones and sleeker Cloth designs, which a lot of people complained about, were swapped out for the old Cloth Boxes and bulkier Cloth designs, and a good chunk of the main cast, like Souma and Yuna, was severely shafted in favor of the Gold and Legendary Saints.
  • This entry at MangaCast discusses the increase of Ho Yay moments in stories published in Shonen Jump. Although the author is a yaoi fangirl (or "fujoshi") herself, she's not entirely pleased with the rate of fanservice:
    'When Jump started to give bits and pieces of fanfare for fujoshis, it became fun in the beginning. It felt great to be reassured of your fandom. Of course, those moves were little and those who don't know probably wouldn't notice it, but we fujoshis do and we treasured it like our first love letter. [...But] the magazine became over-saturated with fujoshi overtones and it's no longer fun. [...] the fujoshi Moe and maybe even regular moe diluted the core of their stories. Perseverance. Victory. Friendship. Although a few titles still keep these values, most have been written simply to whet the fantasies of the readers. In the end, you find yourself wondering, "Why did I even read this story to begin with?"'
  • Like Shonen Jump, Light Novels and other manga publishers suffer from a similar issue. Whereas Shonen Jump was pandering more and more to fujoshi, light novels went the opposite approach and aimed for fanservice and Moe. As more hentai artists do the artwork for the novels, authors have to accommodate to their style which has difficulty in drawing men, and so use the visual novel-style approach to their storylines (read: lots and lots of cute girls and a token guy). A chief shounen editor expresses his mind.
    'We’ve got a lot of followers who are looking to become mangaka, and there’s something I noticed about their works – I’d like to write a bit about what we’ve noticed. It’s about art – there seem to be few people who can draw cool-looking men. Especially their faces. People who can draw a man who looks cool to other men, with a sense of sex appeal. Are there no rookies about who can do that…Looking at recent contributions, everyone can draw cute girls. But however you look at it, they put no effort into men. I suspect those who can draw cool men will command the next era in manga (though this is an exaggeration). Keep trying!'
  • In Valvrave the Liberator, the five most popular characters survived even though one appeared to be the target of karmic backlash.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions is a new Yu-Gi-Oh movie set after the series' end with heavy focus on Seto Kaiba, the series' first Breakout Character, and uses common fandom plots like a new villain with ties to established characters attacking post-series, Yugi and Kaiba dueling, someone trying to bring back Atem, Yami Bakura being involved in even more tragedy in Bakura's life, and Atem acting as a Big Good to his friends who comes back at the last second to help Yugi. The English dub followed suit, going so far as to bring back as many of the original voice actors as possible, reuse music from the original Yu-Gi-Oh! dub, and have Kaiba be so hammy and over the top that he seemed to be channeling the version from the Abridged Series, including a line about firing God.
  • Lord El-Melloi II Case Files aims itself at hardcore Nasuverse fans and doesn't even attempt to hide it. For starters, the series revolves around an Ensemble Dark Horse from Fate/Zero, meaning reading of that and Fate/stay night is required just to understand the plot. On top of that, throughout the story, Alternate Universe versions of characters from other Fate spinoffs have prominent roles.
  • X-Men: Misfits is mostly romance with a little action thrown in at the end, in an obvious attempt to sway the interest of young teenage girls.

    Comic Books 
  • A recurring problem in comic books for the past few decades.
    • The big comic-book universes are shackled by Continuity Porn, their obsession with trivia, and the need of their fans for everything in a particular verse to be internally consistent and logical (despite the fact that by this point this is next to impossible to achieve). This results in periodic reboots (which are almost impenetrable if you're a casual fan and don't care), where the writers have to retool everything in order to assure the most hardcore fans that no, it all really does make sense; as well as individual series having their plots derailed by massive, universe-spanning crossovers.
    • To an extent Marvel managed this with their Ultimates remake. It simplifies plots of the original comics, for good or for bad, but if you come to it without preconceptions, it actually reads pretty well, at least till you get to Ultimatum.
    • Marvel has been accused of Pandering to Themselves with One More Day and subsequent storylines, which flew in the face of widespread complaints from the fanbase. Even people who disliked the Parker/Watson marriage resented the manner in which it was broken up.
    • DC followed suit with their Earth-One series of graphic novels. Part of the rationale of The New 52 reboot was to simplify continuity. Then again, part of the rationale for every reboot is to simplify continuity.
    • Both Marvel and DC have been accused of pandering to a political Vocal Minority since the Turn of the Millennium, with the exact politics of said Vocal Minority varying from accuser to accuser. While comics always included political elements, the advent of the 1999 website Women in Refrigerators ushered in a wave of attacks on both Marvel and DC writers for their supposedly sexist writing, which was countered by a wave of new writers being hired by the Big Two, including the webmaster of Women in Refrigerators herself. How this went is YMMV. Some argue that it got too 'political' and cite Secret Empire (a Crisis Crossover in which Captain America is retconned by a living Cosmic Cube into a HYDRA sleeper agent) as an example, and characters like America Chavez - originally a Carol Danvers-inspired Latina superheroine into a lesbian Dimensional Traveler from an alternate universe called the 'Utopian Parallel'. Others argue that Marvel has always done political comics (see about 85% of X-Men issues) and that diversifying and fleshing out characters has made them more interesting and less repetitive. Let's just say that the reception of this new age of comics has led to quite the Broken Base and leave it at that.
  • This reaction to the official DC Comics novel Inheritance takes a similar attitude to Ho Yay in Western comics:
    Believe me, there was LOUD, LOUD SQUAWKING. I've reached the phase wherein I'm too embarrassed to continue, and too curious to stop. It's too rich to be subtextual porn; it's too laden with innuendo to be textual and serious.
    It's unbelievable, luxuriously, lustily GAY. Bad-fanfic kind of gay. The "OMG, what are you DOING?!" kinda gay. The shrieking and the "How did they even PUBLISH this!?" kind. [...] Oh, God, if it weren't so raw in its obviousness, I'd be in slash nirvana.
  • In a positive example of this, James Roberts, writer of The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, wrote the character of Nautica into the story solely because he knew the fans wanted there to be a female Lost Light crewmember. The character was immensely popular with both fans and critical reviewers and greatly helped to placate fans who grumbled about the lack of female characters in IDW's Transformers continuity. It helps that she was actually given plot relevance rather than simply being thrown in for the sake of it.
  • One amusing example of this in recent years, at least for fans who got into the X-Men in their heyday during the The '90s, has been Marvel's resorting to Nostalgia Bait to woo long-time readers back to the books. This started more or less after the Inhumans vs. X-Men story, when reader fatigue was at an all-time high. Taking cues from the widely praised (if unfortunately not widely read) book X-Men '92, the writers started bringing back characters from the time period in question who'd long since been abandoned to Comic-Book Limbo, ranging from the awesome (X-Man!) to the headscratchy (Ahab, a villain who wasn't exactly popular even during the 90's yet inexplicably got brought back to be the Big Bad of Extermination (2018)). How effective this strategy was in luring disaffected X-readers back to the books isn't clear, but it certainly made sure there were plenty of spare background mutants on hand to immigrate to Krakoa in X-Men (2019).
  • DC had Barbara Gordon de-aged and given a Relationship Upgrade with Dick Grayson (effectively dissolving his relationship with Starfire) solely to please the fans of Batman: The Animated Series.

    Fan Works 
  • Being a heavily reviewed fic, You Got HaruhiRolled! acquired a fanbase of its very own. The writer, superstarultra, is in contact with some of his most loyal reviewers via private messaging, and has freely taken their suggestions, creating a whole Fanon. Over time, some of his reviewers have expressed a preference for his interpretation of the Anti-SOS Brigade, and though they have never become a Spotlight-Stealing Squad (which is probably a good thing) superstarultra did write a whole chapter filled with nods to this Fanon which only exists in private messages.
  • Ultra Fast Pony references this in the episode "The Best Episode Ever", where Twilight organizes a play because she misunderstands what the UFP fandom wants.
    Fluttershy: So why do we have to do this?
    Twilight: Well, according to the fans of the show, we need to have more "smoking hot thespian action". [...] As long as we give the fans everything we think that they want, I'm sure this will be the best episode ever.
  • The writer of Forged Destiny has admitted to doing this a few times, most notably with the plotline of Book 7 being heavily truncated due to an off-putting Slow-Paced Beginning. He also admits that this has not always been the best for the story.
  • This generally sums up the main complaint about Nobody Dies, with the Pandering being cited as a fundamental reason for where things went wrong. The "Asuka vs the World" arc is generally considered the point where the fic's problems started becoming a glaring issue.
  • Sonic and Tails R does multiple continuity nods that are pointless to the narrative, because that's what the viewership wanted, incluiding repeating lines in the original games for seemingly no reason other than a Call-Back.
    Shadow: It all start with this...a gem containing the ultimate power.

    Films — Animation 
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters: If you have not seen everything show-related, you will be lost. The movie states this up-front; during the opening "Things not to do in the theater" musical number, one of the lines is "If you don't understand it, you shouldn't be here!"
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
    • The film features a ton of this in the form of background ponies appearing as humans (namely Derpy Hooves) as well as a few nods such as the Cutie Mark Crusaders dancing to their theme song as well as the great and powerful TRIIIIXIIIEE (needing some peanut butter crackers). The more idealistic fans see it as a successful attempt to Win Back the Crowd from the Audience-Alienating Premise and enjoyed it. The less accepting fans, however, see their appearances as blatant pandering and an attempt to cover up what was perceived as bad writing and Canon Defilement. Not so much pandering to the base as the Periphery Demographic, but they would be far more receptive to something like this than the franchise's traditional base anyway, who would just see it as a fun commercialnote .
    • The movie's sequel, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks ups the appeal, with inclusion of other fan-favorite background characters without any speaking lines, including Octavia (who has actually does have one line), Lyra and Bon-Bon (with a dash of the fandom's Ship Tease), Bulk Biceps and Maud Pie. It also has much more Trixie (who plays a secondary antagonist in the film), and much more Derpy (having her own band where she plays the saw).
  • Since Wish (2023) was the Disney Animated Canon film earmarked to serve as the centennial Milestone Celebration for the Walt Disney Company as a whole, there was a lot of this going on, which many critics argued was to the film's detriment.
    • Even before the closing credits featured images of characters from most of the previous Canon films there were tons of other Easter Egg references, often obvious ones, to them, such as Asha's friends The Teens being visual and personality analogues to The Seven Dwarfs, one woman with a strong resemblance to Wendy Darling whose wish is to fly, Asha herself wearing a cloak and bow near-identical to The Fairy Godmother, and Valentino the goat describing an imagined Zootopia - all in service of a purported backstory for the Wishing Star that appeared in Pinocchio and The Princess and the Frog, and perhaps more recognizably the company's Vanity Plate. This ended up confusing some audience members since it isn't clear if it actually takes place in the same universe as any or all of these other films (keeping in mind there are many reasons they cannot all share a universe), and even engendered controversy regarding the ending in which Asha does become her world's Fairy Godmother, as some interpreted it to mean she is the same one as Cinderella's...despite Asha not being white. Other viewers (particularly professional critics) said the references were just distracting and served to point up how uninteresting the story and characters of this film were by comparison, because...
    • They are deliberately a Cliché Storm of "typical" Disney animated feature tropes: A Plucky Girl heroine with a Disappeared Dad and an Award Bait "I Want" Song in a European Fairy Tale-inspired kingdom who goes on The Hero's Journey, Talking Animals (one of whom serves as her Sidekick), a nonhuman Cute Mute sidekick, an Evil Is Hammy villain wielding Sickly Green Glow magic and a Villain Song, a Setting Introduction Song, Crowd Songs, a big emphasis on wishes/dreams coming true, etc. Between this and all the Easter eggs, for many viewers it played more like a parody of Disney films but without any deconstruction or spoofing of said tropes, or a Mockbuster. A few tropes worked against the story: If the people of Rosas are missing a vital part of themselves by giving up their wishes, why is their Setting Introduction Song so happy? Why do they need a Fairy Godmother when they're going to actualize their own desires? And then there were Disney fans who were upset at the tropes not included, such as a romance for the leading lady because what's a "classic" Disney fairy tale (re: pre-Frozen) without a romance?
    • King Magnifico was explicitly promoted as a "classic" villain in the vein of Maleficent or Scar - charismatic, completely irredeemable, complete with a Villain Song - after a decade or so of Disney antagonists either being initially benign characters revealed as Evil All Along in the third act, or not actually wicked but misguided and easily redeemed. Unfortunately, the filmmakers fumbled the character by still giving him a sympathetic backstory, a wife he loves, and an understandable if questionable motivation for not granting or at least returning the captured wishes...and not even having him do anything truly wicked until after Asha somehow calls Star down to Earth, whereupon he's a case of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. A lot of viewers ended up feeling sorry for him and his fate when they were not supposed to, or at least feeling that the filmmakers wasted a potentially fascinating antagonist just so there could be a "classic" villain again.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Scooby-Doo (2002) live-action movie is an example of this. This includes such fan-made theories as the allusion to drugs, Fred and Daphne as lovers, Velma being teased as a lesbian, and Scrappy-Doo being made into the main villain.
  • Kevin Smith admits that he made Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back purely for his fans who wanted a Jay and Silent Bob movie with tons of references to his other films, as well as a lot of swearing, crude jokes, and Fanservice.
    • This happened all over again with Jay and Silent Bob Reboot which is not a reboot but a direct sequel, featuring returning characters and plot elements, cameos, and more commentary on now-modern geek movie movie trends (such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Ben Affleck as Batman). A huge part of the plot even involves Jay meeting the daughter of himself and his love interest from the first film.
  • The film version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! changed a lot from the original book (and that's putting it politely), but it also incorporated both of the songs from the well-known animated version. Because, you know, it just wouldn't be the Grinch without that theme song, right?
  • Similarly, the 2005 film The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) included a lengthy and completely superfluous second intro involving the title book flying through space to the tune of "Journey of the Sorceror", a sequence copied from the BBC miniseries.
  • Hatchet II was intended to be the same as the original Hatchet, but more, for the sake of fans. It was also littered with in-jokes and one Continuity Nod after another. Reception was mixed.
  • The works of Tyler Perry aren't known for being critical darlings (and even has his share of black critics), but despite that he still has a very loyal and dedicated fanbase. Enough so to the point that Perry is actually the highest-paid man in Hollywood.
  • Peter Jackson has been accused of doing this with The Hobbit, by introducing characters from The Lord of the Rings, such as Frodo, Galadriel, and Saruman, who didn't have any part to play in the original novel (which was written well before The Lord of the Rings) but who were made immensely popular and well-known to movie-goers thanks to the movies. He also made three movies out of one book much shorter than any one volume of LOTR, introduced some subplots very loosely based on material from the LOTR appendices, and inserted several Continuity Nods or Mythology Gags to the LOTR movies to such a degree that several critics have called him out on the Fanservice and Padding, and likened the experience to the bad sort of Fanfiction.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Some people accused Iron Man 2 of setting up the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe more than its own, due to the greater presence of Call Forwards like Captain America's shield, a clip from The Incredible Hulk, Tony being evaluated for the Avengers, Black Widow's introduction, Nick Fury's return, and Thor's hammer being found. However, Nick Fury doesn't appear until more than an hour in and even then his purpose is more to get Tony off of his ass and work than to convince him to join the Avengers. He even tells Tony how annoyed he is that Tony has become his problem to deal with when S.H.I.E.L.D. has more on its plate to handle. Pandering also seems to be parodied when Coulson discovers an incomplete Captain America shield. Tony asks for it excitedly... and uses it to prop up his machine.
    • Due to Loki's popularity skyrocketing after the release of The Avengers, the script for Thor: The Dark World was rewritten to give him more focus, at the expense of Malekith and the Dark Elves.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
  • Star Wars:
    • Episode VII: The Force Awakens does this with its heavier emphasis on practical effects, and closer look and feel to the Original Trilogy. Ironically, the special effects reel revealed that the film actually didn't use fewer special effects than the Prequel Trilogy, and shot-for-shot actually contains more CGI than The Phantom Menace does. The difference mostly just comes from smarter use and ten+ years of technology making CGI rendering less of a problem. So in this case, it's more of just telling the base what they want to hear than actually pandering to them.
    • One criticism leveled at Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker: Not only does it bring back the original trilogy's Big Bad and declare that he's been behind everything all along, but it also makes him Rey's grandfather, undoing the previous movie's decision to make her The Unchosen One. Many critics have noted that it undoes/downplays several other elements of The Last Jedi that upset what they call a Vocal Minority of the fanbase, e.g. Rose Tico is Demoted to Extra and the core new characters are together for most of the story whereas they were split into groups in the previous film. Other critics (who, of course, call fans of the hotly Contested Sequel the Vocal Minority), claim that it doesn't go far enough in undoing the sweeping changes TLJ brought to the series in the name of "subverting expectations"note . What is interesting about this is that both sides of the Star Wars Broken Base see The Rise of Skywalker as an example of this, but which demographic they see it as pandering to varies depending on which side of the TLJ debate they're on. A rare few other reviewers, meeting in the middle, say that the film tries its hardest to pander to both groups, which predictably satisfied neither.
  • The DC Extended Universe has been attempting to do this ever since its first entry's mixed-to-negative critical and audience reception:
    • With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros. tried their damnedest to give hardcore superhero fans everything they wanted to see on the big screen, even if it didn't always make sense for many of those things to be in the same movie. The film finally delivered on the Batman/Superman crossover that fans had wanted to see for years, but also stuck in numerous subplots that many considered unnecessary, intended to set up a future Justice League movie, as well as bringing in cameos from other DC superheroes, and loosely adapting both The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman (two classic stories that had little or nothing to do with each other, and really didn't fit in a film that took place before the formation of the Justice League). The result was overlong (the extended cut in particular nears three hours!), and was widely panned as a disjointed, thinly plotted mess that cared more about satisfying loyal fans than about trying to tell a good story.
    • After the backlash against Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for being too grim and the extremely positive fan reaction to Suicide Squad (2016)'s much more fun-looking trailers, WB reshot parts of Suicide Squad to be more like the trailers. Unfortunately, this caused the film to have a distractingly uneven tone and inconsistent editing and be panned in reviews too.
    • After all of the above happened, WB repeatedly and emphatically promised that Justice League (2017) would have a more light-hearted tone, humor, and a brighter color palette than Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad. When a personal tragedy forced director Zack Snyder to step down, they hired Joss Whedon, who had directed the much-loved The Avengers (2012), to wrap up production and do reshoots to add his usual brands of banter and humor. They also had the film cut down to only 2 hours in length, most likely as a response to complaints about Batman V Superman feeling overly long and bloated, and had a soundtrack by Danny Elfman added (which brought nostalgia-driven themes to the film such as those of Superman: The Movie and Batman (1989)). The general reaction to all of this attempted "course correction" was decidedly mixed if not negative, and its only lasting impact was ironically a fan campaign to get the film as Snyder envisioned and made it (and that campaign succeeded) with the originally planned Junkie XL soundtrack.
    • Zack Snyder's Justice League: Snyder knew this film had high chances of being his final DC Comics-based creation, so he arranged for this cinematic universe's Batman to interact with this universe's Joker in the Bad Future scene, something that wasn't given a chance to happen before due to both Jared Leto and Ben Affleck parting ways with DC Films. It was primarily intended as a gift to the fans who fought for the film to be released, and given the positive reception to that encounter, it wasn't a bad thing to do.
  • Deadpool (2016) and Logan at 20th Century Fox both demonstrate why this isn't always a bad thing. Both of them were largely made to satisfy the Vocal Minority of hardcore Marvel Comics fans who had been clamoring for R-rated Deadpool and Wolverine movies for years, arguing that only an "R" rating could do either character justice. In fact, they probably wouldn't have been made if not for the fan demand, since an R-rated superhero film is a bit of a marketing headache by its very nature. But against all odds, both movies turned out to be huge critical and commercial successes. General audiences loved their first taste of Deadpool's twisted humor and found the Bloodier and Gorier Logan to be a refreshing change of pace from the Bloodless Carnage of earlier X-Men films (with the Darker and Edgier approach also leading to an emotional and widely praised story). Sometimes, it seems, listening to hardcore fans can be a good way to tap into the most appealing aspects of a long-running series.
  • Spider-Man 3 suffered from a lot of problems, but this is generally cited as a major cause of them. According to most accounts, producer Avi Arad strongly pressured Sam Raimi into adding the fan-favorite character Venom to the movie to make longtime Spider-Man fans happy—even though the script already featured Flint Marko (the Sandman) as the big new villain, and the previous film ended with a clear Sequel Hook setting up Harry Osborn taking up the mantle of the Green Goblin. This infamously resulted in the movie having three different supervillains, all with their own unrelated backstories and motivations. The story barely held together under all that weight, and it was widely panned as an incoherent mess. It didn't exactly help that Venom was badly at odds with the general tone and aesthetic of the rest of the series; as a Todd McFarlane character from the "grim and gritty" late 1980s, he stuck out like a sore thumb in a trilogy that drew most of its inspiration from the more colorful and lighthearted John Romita era of the late 1960s.
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife features numerous Call Backs and Continuity Nods to the original film and its sequel, from small details like Egon Spengler's love of sweets to more blatant ones like the presence of Gozer at the film's primary villain. To those still on the fence about the franchise after Ghostbusters (2016) caused a stir, it won them over. To casual viewers, it was met with more of a mixed reaction.
  • Bumblebee proved to be a rare, positive example of this. The film features very G-1 inspired designs for its robots, more homages to the 1984 animated series, and eschews many of the elements (i.e. heavy action sequences and explosions, product placement, and Male Gaze) Michael Bay's previous films were known for. It wound up being a Win Back the Crowd moment for those who had given up on the franchise, as the film became the best reviewed of all the movies, even the 1986 original that's still held in high regard.
  • The opening sequence to Top Gun: Maverick is a case of this done incredibly well. It's an updated version of the first film's iconic opening using the exact same score and pacing, but featuring modern military hardware and filmmaking techniques.

  • Star Wars:
    • Many books, in both Legends and the current continuity, like to repeat famous lines from the movies as shout outs, unfortunately to the point where it's getting a little hard to believe. Sure there must be someone in that universe who doesn't "have a bad feeling about this".
    • Almost every ship in the expanded universe and Legends - prequels, sequels, comics, video games, everything - seems to be based on the ones from the original trilogy. More accurately, the most iconic ones; the X-Wing, TIE series, Star Destroyers, and the Death Star, even unto the Old Republic era, which takes place 4,000 years before A New Hope. Speaking of which, the Sith have been going after/building giant superweapons for at least that long; you'd think they'd have caught on by now. Most stories also like to include an Artoo & Threepio-like pair of robots, or at least one of the two, or some kind of riff on the buddy-bot theme.
    • Many works have some sort of Darth Vader Expy. A tall, imposing Sith in a mask, dark clothes, and cape. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the player can effectively become one. Not to mention Darth Malgus, who is motivated by the death of the woman he loved and forced to wear a respirator due to battle injuries. Arcann is an even stronger example.
  • The way Artemis/Holly is becoming more and more canon in Artemis Fowl. They've now kissed and had Artemis' alternate personality, Orion, tell Holly that Artemis thinks of her constantly and is very passionate about her. And Orion spends the entire book mooning over Holly, which he claims he picked up from the real Artemis. Though he does have a very limited social group. They've been the Fan-Preferred Couple since the very first book.
  • Kaspar's Box, from the Three Kings series by Jack Chalker. Best known for his physical transformation fetish (and having the strongest fans with similar tastes), there's a purely gratuitous physical transformation which has absolutely nothing to do with the plot, hasn't anything to do with the universe the story appears in, happens offscreen, literally comes out of nowhere, doesn't have any real repercussions, and the effect never happens again. For all intents and purposes, it looks like it was simply thrown in to appease his biggest fans.
  • And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer, a book continuing the Hitchhiker's Guide series, is littered with references to the books Douglas Adams wrote. It is a fun book with some interesting ideas, but it could be convincingly argued that it contained far more call-backs than were sensible for no other reason than to cater to fans who simply have to see the phrase "Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster" on every other page.
  • "The Foundation of S.F. Success": (Conversational Troping) This poem gives various bits of advice on how to write the sort of Science Fiction that sells well. While written in 1954, the advice is still as good as it ever was.

  • The titles of three releases by the Japanese pop group Perfume include the phrase "fan service", namely the CD single Fan Service (sweet), the concert DVD Fan Service (bitter) and the box set Fan Service Prima Box. The last is perhaps a genuine example of fanservice since it comprises three discontinued CD-singles from earlier in their career, which fans wanting to complete their collection would otherwise have to look for on the secondhand market. A review of Prima Box in the Japan Times refers to Perfume's 'coy, knowing references to otaku (obsessive fan) culture'.
  • The Song Study version of Devo's album, Something for Everybody. Fans participated in an online survey to determine which songs would end up on the album. On the other hand, it is quite clear that the whole Song Study campaign was meant to poke fun at the entertainment industry's extensive uses of focus groups and online surveys, and Devo simultaneously released a "88% focus group approved" version of Something for Everybody that contained all the songs that were cut from the Song Study version.
  • Taylor Swift has been accused of this by some fans after her second album, which, in stark contrast to her first album (which, for the most part, was startlingly mature and dark, but well-liked by listeners of all ages), is more decidedly geared towards teenagers. Let it not be ignored that the small majority of her first album's sales were from the teenage crowd.
  • Nerd Rock duo Paul and Storm explicitly admit to this in their concerts, particularly during The Captain's Wife's Lament (a song that, did they not continually interrupt themselves, would last somewhere on the light side of 90 seconds, but often takes ten minutes or more to get through).
  • Similarly to Devo's album, but unironically, Jethro Tull did their own "song study" when selecting the tracks for their 1987 comeback album, Crest Of A Knave. Justified as they had wanted to avoid the backlash they suffered through when releasing their previous album in 1984, the synth-heavynote , very uncharacteristic Under Wraps album. The album became a moderate hit and even won a (controversial at the time, but for unrelated reasons) Grammy award.
  • Frank Zappa: Zappa is an odd example of this trope. On one hand he simply did what he liked, telling the audience literally to get fucked if they hated what he did on stage or in his work. A huge chunk of his lyrics are inside jokes, incomprehensible to anyone but him and his band members. Yet on the other hand he did put in a lot of inside jokes and clues (conceptual continuity) that only his hardcore fans would recognize and cheer about.
  • Neil Young's refusal to do this is what made his record company sue him for producing experimental electronic music "that didn't sound like Neil Young"; it's also why many older fans tend to respond to each new release with an apprehensive "oh, dear God, what's he done now?"
  • Two of Queen's most recognizable hits, "We Will Rock You" and "We are the Champions", exist because Brian May and Freddie Mercury realized in the mid-late 1970s that fans were singing along with their songs, so they decided to create deliberate Audience Participation Songs designed to pander to this desire. (May talks about the songs' creation here.) The end result was the creation of two of the most well known Crowd Songs in recent decades that are now ubiquitous at every sports event ever.
  • Somewhat downplayed by Anthrax, who similarly to examples above polled their fans to determine which songs they should re-record for their The Greatest of Two Evils Greatest Hits Album. When small but dedicated minority managed to score an unusually high amount of votes for "Lone Justice", it was included in the a hidden track. And they placed it after the final track and the reversed version of "Lone Justice".

  • The expression "pandering (or, less judgmentally, 'playing') to the base" originated in U.S. politics, where the primary system requires candidates to win the approval of their party's rank-and-file before formulating a broader appeal in the general election. Essentially, if a candidate wants to be elected, they have to persuade the party faithful to vote for them before targeting the wider majority. Of course, this can and has meant that the party may nominate someone who speaks to their specific views but lacks mainstream electability. Another feature of how Congressional districts are distributed is that by this point almost every district in the country is safe for either a Republican or Democrat candidate. Combined with the primary system, this means that it is quite common for the district to elect a candidate who not only is extreme by national standards but can be an extremist even by the standards of the state. What often happens in Presidential elections, especially for the party currently out of government, is that the chosen candidate must pander to the far wing of the party during the primaries, but then move back to a more middle of the road position for the actual Presidential race.
    • While primary elections play this trope straight, general elections more or less invert the trope. Since 75-80% of American voters vote the same way in every election no matter what, the general election becomes about courting the remaining 20-25%, known as "swing voters." While swing voters make up a much smaller subset than the parties' respective bases, they are an unquestionably more important one. As the expression goes, "40% of voters always vote Republican, 40% always vote Democrat, and the other 20% always decide the election."
    • Third-party candidates completely avert the trope. They usually run on platforms that state that the two major parties both suck, and that they are actually the sensible alternative to both mainstream candidates. The structure of the American electoral system makes it almost impossible for third-party candidates to win, but they can certainly impact election results—usually by taking votes away from the party that they are ideologically the most similar to, thereby handing the election to the other party.
  • Political parties are frequently accused of this (and usually are guilty), especially during elections which pit members of the same party against each other. (Known in the United States as "primary elections," as distinct from "general elections" which feature all candidates.) Politicians who aspire to higher office often engage in this as well, in order to please the base ahead of a "primary election."
    • In some democracies, candidates are nominated by and from a narrower group of professional party "members," rather than ordinary voters. Depending on how strict the party's formal membership rules are, and how small the membership is, this can result in nominations being dictated by an even more ideologically extreme, or simply eccentric faction of the public. This can actually present something of a paradox for small parties: the party knows on some level it needs to broaden their appeal, yet because the party membership is tiny and dominated by "true believers," it's hard for them to put forth more moderate or mainstream candidates.
  • The German CSU (Christian Social Union, a conservative party) is notorious for doing this. They only exist in Bavaria but caucus together with the CDU (Christian Democrat Union, maybe slightly less conservative) on the federal level. One of the things it is most known for is viciously attacking "Berlin" - even while they are in government. You see, Bavaria has a strong current of people who don't think too highly of the "Prussians" in the rest of Germany and many of them vote CSU...

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Professional Wrestling writer Vince Russo is infamous for catering exclusively to the hardcore Internet "Smart Marks" (who know that wrestling is fake but enjoy it as an art form). His biggest mistake was that he would often try to swerve these fans with confusing Worked Shoot angles. This is a problem for two reasons. First, the casual fans (90% of the fanbase) didn't know enough about the background of these swerves and were just confused by what was going on. Second, the smart marks (by nature of being smart marks) weren't fooled. What's more, he would often load these angles with obscure references that only the most hardcore fan would know of. What is truly bizarre is that Russo caters to the fans' knowledge of tabloid-like stories of backstage shenanigans, but does not cater to what they want most (long, well-wrestled matches with minimal interference and shenanigans). Russo has some very strange beliefs about who his audience is.
  • Ring of Honor, at its outset, was more or less defined by catering to the hardcore wrestling fanbase. The result is a generally entertaining product, but not without a little elitist snobbery. Note that hardcore in this case means "purist fan" instead of hardcore wrestling.
  • WWE has been doing this lately with NXT. The commentary team of Josh Mathews and Michael Cole full with their commentary with Continuity Nods, talk about the indies, wrestling dirtsheets and blogs and even Ascended Meme. Even the pros and rookies do it from time to time.
  • Speaking of NXT, Season 3 rookie Diva A.J. Lee's gimmick is basically pandering to the nerd audience.
  • CM Punk's "The Reason You Suck" Speech that led to his (kayfabe) suspension was one big pander to the Smarks and everything they hate about WWE, as Punk listed wrestlers that had supposedly been held back and criticized higher-ups like John Lauranitis. It becomes funnier if one wonders just how many Smarks believed Punk was truly being defiant when, in reality, none of what he said would have made it on the air without WWE approval.
  • One could argue that WWE's "New Era" is nothing but pandering to the smark base. After mass online backlash against Wrestlemania 32, WWE immediately (literally starting with the Raw after Mania) began calling up several people from NXT - many of which had been signed out of the indie circuits - and pushing them while cutting out sketch promos, promoting matches more on wrestling than story, and hyping things like the revived Cruiserweights. The most blatant case may have been Summerslam 2016, where the WWE title match pitted babyface vs babyface in Dean Ambrose against Dolph Ziggler while the first-ever Universal Title match pitted smark favorite Seth Rollins against indie darling Finn Balor (with Balor winning the belt just three weeks after being called up). It hasn't really worked: Summerslam was considered one of the weakest PPVs of the year, ratings for Raw remain tepid (while Smackdown, which has emphasized storylines more, has seen its ratings rise since late 2016), and, with almost no huge story arcs having been built, there seems to be even less fan enthusiasm for Wrestlemania 33.

  • The Torchwood: The Lost Files audio drama "The House of the Dead" is one long grovel to the fans who were outraged that Jack never told Ianto he loved him in those exact words during the televised serial Children of Earth.

  • At the time of the 2004 lockout, the National Hockey League had trouble getting new fans to appreciate the game because offense had declined in the league thanks to the neutral zone trap. The NHL tried to deal with it, but because it created a Broken Base among hardcore fans this proved difficult. (Fans of defensive teams, (and those teams themselves), vocally complained that defense was being taken out of the game, fans of more offensive minded teams, (and again, the teams themselves), complained it slowed the game down. All teams employed it to some degree, but some used it as their primary strategy.) After the lockout, the NHL passed new rules to thwart the neutral zone trap, mainly because they were forced to be more fan-friendly.
    • The NHL is a great example of Pandering to the Base. Demographically, the sport is overwhelmingly white. Many fans have complained about the league trying to make new fans through rule changes and expansion/relocation to non-traditional markets, which has also paid off in a way.
  • By contrast, Major League Baseball has begun pandering to the more casual fans in the last few decades or so, particularly with the designated hitter in 1973 and interleague play in 1997. There are still traditionalists out there who despise both.
  • For years, many college basketball fans and experts wanted a rule in the game where teams in the foul bonus could choose to just inbound the ball after being fouled rather than shoot free throws, thus preventing the end of games from turning into drawn-out free throw shooting contests. The NCAA finally instituted the rule in 1999 - and then repealed it two months later when it appeared coaches were having trouble deciding what to do in that situation.
  • The National Football League changed its overtime rules in 2010 to encourage teams to try for touchdowns because many fans didn't like the old rules. To explain the new rules: What had previously been flat sudden death overtime (game ends on the next score) was changed so the overtime won't immediately end if the team possessing the ball first scores a field goal; the other team will get the chance to score and then the game will end when either squad takes the lead.
    • Only for this to happen yet again a few years later, after the 2021-2022 AFC Championship Game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs ended in a mild bit of controversy. Due to both defenses being gassed, Bills' Quarterback Josh Allen and Chiefs' QB Patrick Mahomes were utterly unstoppable in the Fourth Quarter, to the point that Mahomes was able to orchestrate a 13 SECOND DRIVE to land the Chiefs in Field Goal position to land the game tying kick to send the game into Overtime, leading to one of the most exciting games of the year. However, because the Defenses had nothing left it was all but academic that the winner of the Coin Toss going into OT would march down the field to score the winning Touchdown, which was done by the Chiefs. Fans were upset that Josh Allen, who was also in God Mode, didn't get his own chance to answer. After the playoffs concluded a new rule was put in place almost immediately afterwards in which, during the playoffs only, both teams are guaranteed a possession in Overtime and it only becomes Sudden Death if the game is still tied after both possessions.
  • ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball program has been accused of pandering to certain teams' fans. What was once a Sunday night tradition to see two different teams slowly became the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, and Cardinals show, in an attempt to pander to said fans.
  • Any time you see a team hires one of their former players as a coach, general manager, or other high ranking position and said player doesn't have the experience to get the job otherwise you know this trope is in full effect. Sometimes it works, far more often than not it doesn't. Occasionally happens with active players, where someone will be kept around because they sell tickets even though the team would be better off with someone else occupying that roster spot. If you hear the words "hometown discount" when talking about their contract it's probably this.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mark Rosewater's columns about creating Magic: The Gathering on Magic: The have used the defiance of this argument to justify such things as bad cards, skill-testers, overly simple Core Sets, and its focus on recent-duration formats. While Wizards of the Coast appreciates its devoted fanbase, it needs to ensure that newer players have a clear path into learning the game without being inundated with complexities early on.
  • Similarly, Upper Deck Entertainment and Konami have been doing this with the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, specifically demanding that older and more rabid fans not bash on the younger demographic or the anime-based cards that they make for them. The problem is that the anime-based cards that they make are almost always underpowered, and prime targets for bashing.
  • One of the great balancing acts of the modern era is on display whenever Games Workshop begins working on a new army codex. Pandering to the base is a great temptation, especially when there's two different bases to pander to. Take the Eldar Wraithlord for example. As it is now, it's a monster in both shooting and close combat and greatly feared when it's taken in numbers. When they release a new Eldar codex, they have three roads they could go: they could pander to their Eldar players and make it more powerful; they could pander to the Wraithlord detractors and nerf it something awful; or they could potentially anger BOTH sides and leave it relatively unchanged. Meanwhile, Space Marines are given far more attention than any other faction, and Commissars feature heavily in the books, despite being fairly minor in the actual game/overall plot.
  • White Wolf's Old World of Darkness setting had a specific form of this - every 'splatbook' (or expansion pack) they released inevitably raised the power level, awareness or general coolness of the group being discussed; they'd be depicted as being better than (or at least putting one over on) every other faction. Until the next one, where the next group would top that. Some fans said they felt sorry for the one that had to go first, since the second was better, etc. putting the first faction at the bottom of the heap. It was a form of serial base-pandering, with different bases inside the White Wolf fandom. This is averted with the New World of Darkness, where each 'splatbook' simply fleshes out and expands on the splat, as well as having discussions on both its strength and merits and its flaws and weaknesses. No splat is ever portrayed as inherently "superior" to any other.
  • Greg Costikyan (one of the authors of Paranoia) has written an essay about "grognard capture", "grognard" being a term for Napoleon's old guard, and the full term used by hardcore wargame players to refer to products that seek to capture the market of the hardest of the hardcore. It's worth mentioning that in the article Costikyan is somewhat dismissive of Nintendo's strategy of blatantly seeking the non-gamer market for the DS while positioning the PSP as the "hardcore" platform, something that, if nothing else, did indeed make tons of cash for the company.

  • Shakespeare did it. Macbeth was first performed in front of an audience including King James I, and popular Fanon at the time was that James was descended from main character Banquo. Shakespeare reversed Banquo's role into a benevolent character to appeal to James. There's also some speculation that several scenes of the Three Witches were added later because they were found to be popular; they may even have been taken wholesale from Thomas Middleton's The Witch.
  • Love Never Dies, a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, changes the personalities of several characters from the original (in particular, Raoul) just to please Christine/Erik shippers.

  • In its later days, BIONICLE's side stories and expanded universe practically ran on this, by having certain story elements, names of animals and upcoming characters depend on fan polls (mainly members of BZPower). It didn't help that many fans had a blasé attitude on that site, which meant that more critical fans tended to get overshadowed. After author Greg Farshtey was denied further access to the site due to LEGO's policies, this trend continued on the official LEGO Message Board (this time mostly without polls), then on the TTV fan forums, retroactively adding details to canon and defining character appearances over a decade after the franchise had ended. This has also lead to lots of fan controversy, until Greg was laid off from LEGO in 2022, nullifying further fan canonization efforts.
  • The BIONICLE reboot offered little nods and visual references, such as curious easter eggs featuring the Mask of Time hidden in the scenery to keep older fans interested. Later, they added overt references to concepts from Generation 1, like the Three Virtues and the Toa of Light. However, this was a failed attempt at pandering to fans, as these teases and hints would lead nowhere, which ended up souring the more hardcore fans who expected deeper worldbuilding. The reboot was basically a marketing misstep that couldn't decide between appealing to old fans or new buyers, and ended up letting down both. As they got the order of the Three Virtues wrong (Duty, Unity and Destiny instead of Unity, Duty and Destiny), fans quickly labeled these pandering attempts a "DUD".
  • Due to the massive Periphery Demographic of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Hasbro produced quite a few pony-related toys that are quite obviously geared towards the adult fanbase. The most notable of these are toy versions of Ensemble Dark Horse characters like Derpy Hooves, Lyra, Trixie, Vinyl Scratch, Nightmare Moon, and Queen Chrysalis, who almost certainly wouldn't have gotten toys if not for the fanbase. The large Funko figures are a particular example, being released in waves of two figures (up until wave 8, which added Discord as a third figure), with the top six background poniesnote  all getting figures released before Applejack and Rarity got theirs to complete the Mane 6.

    Video Games 
  • Nintendo:
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was intentionally designed by Nintendo to evoke the same mood and atmosphere of Ocarina of Time. Ocarina is the highest-rated game of the franchise, so when Twilight Princess was released, it was heaped with praise from both critics and fans alike as being a return to form for the series after two more experimental games. So much that, infamously, a less-than-positive review from Gamespot coined the 8.8 phenomenon of giving seemingly-low scores to otherwise acclaimed games.
  • Pokémon is infamous for how much it tries to appeal to fans of the original games, with it sometimes being well-received and other times coming across as hamfisted:
    • In Pokémon Gold and Silver the games overly relied on existing Kanto Pokémon for things like Gym Leader rosters and standard roles like regional bug (namely Caterpie and Weedle being much more common than the local Ledyba & Spinarak), and Johto Pokémon such as Houndour inexplicably only being found in the Kanto postgame.
    • HeartGold and SoulSilver. The game is rife with cameos from characters across all generations and references to other games in the series. Perhaps the most prominent of these is the return of Pokémon following the Player, which hadn't been seen since Pokémon Yellow, a purely cosmetic function that has no effect on gameplay whatsoever, and it's glorious.
    • Pokémon X and Y set a new record, with extensive pandering to Gen 1 fans. The Kanto starters are given away, the Gen 1 games get a 2-hour anime special, and Charizard gets two Mega Evolutions while the other 2 Kanto starters get one each. And speaking of Mega Evolutions, it was officially stated that popular Pokémon are most likely to be the ones who get them, even if other Pokémon need them more. The actual new Pokémon introduced in the generation make up only 15% of the total Kalos Pokédex. Mewtwo also got two Mega Evolutions, despite being powerful enough as is, and the fact that it getting Mega Evolution makes no sense considering the origins of Mega Evolution. They promoted Mewtwo and used its popularity, to the point that they ignored their own plot to do so. And about that Kalos Pokédex - not only do the new Pokémon take up a tiny percentage of the 'dex, it would still be the smallest amount of new Pokémon to date (with only 72, where all other regions had at least 100). And the final nail in the coffin is that Pidgey is guaranteed to be the first wild Pokémon you encounter. The 6th Gen was also the first to put the most emphasis on Competitive Battling instead of the actual campaign. Mechanics such as Super Training, Wonder Trade, easier breeding (Smeargle, a mon with the ability to copy any move in the game with its Sketch ability, is found on the same route as the Day-Care Center), and quicker leveling up were all made available to the player extremely early. Almost every major addition or change to the game was done so to cater to the competitive battling crowd.
    • Also the trope behind the revival of both the anime's original theme song and the "Gotta catch 'em all!" slogan not seen since Generation II.
    • Zigzagged with the Hoenn remakes. The Ensemble Dark Horse Giant Space Flea from Nowhere Latias and Latios got Mega Evolutions - and you can fly on them. In exchange, more underpowered Pokemon like Beedrill, Glalie, and Pidgeot also got Mega Evolutions. The post-game Battle Resort also contains even more pandering to competitive battlers than even X and Y did, offering not only a secondary Day Care on an easy egg hatching route, but having Non Player Characters that Break the Fourth Wall to talk about the Pokemon World Championships and telling the player that sometimes, in order to win, they'll have to abandon their favourites and only use strong Pokemon. (An Ironic Echo of Karen's infamous line from Gold and Silver).
    • In Pokémon Sun and Moon, despite taking place in an expy of Hawaii on the opposite side of the world from it, the cast simply will not shut up about Kanto. The Player Character is a Kanto immigrant, Kukui, Wicke, Hau's father, Lillie, Lusamine, and Gladion all visited Kanto at one point with Kukui constantly sharing anecdotes about how great it is, and the new Alolan forms and signature Z-moves are all exclusive to Kanto Pokémon. In addition, the promotional website for the games stated that Oricorio's Sensu form reminded Kanto tourists of home when Johto was the region that actually had geishas!
    • Another reason Pokémon Sword and Shield is such a Contested Sequel is that it suffered almost as badly as X & Y did from this. In spite of the game's limited roster, Galar somehow managed to fit in a significant portion of Kanto Pokémon with the Champion's ace being a Charizard while Pokémon that actually fit the British theme like Stoutland were excluded (prior to the DLC). Not to mention that of the 32 Gigantamax forms in the game (counting DLC), 12 belong to Kanto Pokémon and 19 belong to Galar Pokémon, meaning that out of all the previous generations of Pokémon, only two do not hail from Kanto, these being Gen V's Garbodor and Gen VII's Melmetal. And even Melmetal debuted in Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, making it techinically a Kanto Pokémon!
  • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2) is one of the earliest examples of the trope. Nintendo created a sequel to Super Mario Bros. that was a Mission-Pack Sequel designed for players who mastered the first game and its subtitle was dubbed "For Super Players". Nintendo of America feared that the game was more of the same as the first game, too difficult for American players and would tarnish sales after the first Mario game sold so well. And they were right; Lost Levels has enemy placement and traps designed to catch players off guard very frequently, and many levels require a deep understanding of SMB physics to complete, including exploitation of glitches. Among other things, the game introduced the Poison Mushroom, warp pipes that send the player backwards in the level progression and Bloopers that fly. To top it off, the final set of worlds can only be unlocked by beating the game eight times in a rowa fact which the game gives no real indication of. Western players would eventually get the game in Super Mario All-Stars with slightly reduced difficulty, but still bone-crushingly hard overall and players would also get the original version of the game on the Wii's Virtual Console.
  • After the middling reception to Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, AlphaDream went back to the games that got the best reception and remade them for the 3DS: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. It didn't work out too well, with the latter game being a devastating flop and one of the worst-selling Mario games of all time contributing to the company folding later in 2019.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • A lot of fans accused Intelligent Systems of pandering to the yaoi fangirls in the tenth game: The Ike/Soren base conversation is very sappy and more full of Ho Yay than their supports in the previous game, and they have a paired ending. The perception is that this is at the expense of the Ship Tease Ike had with women in the previous game, though some of that was added by the localization, and said localization seemed to have toned down the Ho Yay in the ninth game.
    • Awakening was an example of this trope working well. With what looked like the last game in the series, Intelligent Systems threw together a "greatest hits" collection of every gameplay idea people liked about previous games, and it sold so well it saved the franchise. Story-wise, it appealed directly to the Japanese base, with heavy plot references and nostalgic callbacks to the original Fire Emblem titles that weren't very popular outside of the home islands.
    • The second set of DLC for Fire Emblem: Awakening was this, adding a Beach Episode and Hot Springs Episode where the 2 guys and girls from each generation voted most popular by Japanese fans got fanservice artwork, a set of brutally hard challenge maps aimed at those who bashed the main story chapters for being too simplistic and easy, and a set of DLC exploring the Bad Future and the Ensemble Dark Horse 2nd generation characters.
    • Fire Emblem Fates tries to content the fans of Awakening and the fans of the previous games with two campaigns, one where you can grind freely like Awakening and one with more limited resources like earlier titles, resulting in One Game for the Price of Two. The story tries to merge the dark tragedy and cutthroat politics of early titles with the often-breezier tone and character shipping from later ones, including some mechanics that the story can't easily justify. The results of trying to pander to every part of a Broken Base were ultimately financially lucrative, but at the price of absolutely fragmenting the fans, and as if acknowledging this delicate balancing act couldn't go on forever, Fire Emblem: Three Houses (for better or worse) has a much firmer core identity.
  • Splatoon 2:
    • The game's Hero Mode is dedicated almost entirely to pandering to Marienote  fans—she's your Mission Control who gets a ton of character development throughout the story, which is kicked off when she sets out to look for her missing cousin. Of course, this came at the expense of Callie, who is kidnapped right off the bat and, for a very long time, was almost completely absent from the game even after being rescued. This in turn led to more pandering, this time to Callie's largely dissatisfied fanbase, once it was revealed that the 3.0 update would add her to the Octo Canyon hub after completing the game. Splatoon 3 would also later feature both Callie and Marie in the story mode, with Callie in particular being the one who follows you around in the overworld.
    • Marina's presence in the game as one of the stage announcers is almost certainly due to the massive popularity of the Octolings in the original game.
  • Splatoon 3
    • Lockers are quite obviously supposed to be the interior design mechanic for players who wanted customizable apartments since the first game.
    • The Inkopolis DLC caters to Splatoon 1 loreheads, who were curious about what happened to Inkopolis Plaza and its residents during the seven-ish years since that game released. After the DLC's announcement hype died down, everyone else was left scratching their heads, wondering what justifies the $5 price tagnote  for an alternate hub, which — while cool — is one of the less-essential parts of the game, especially given that Inkopolis Plaza is far smaller than Splatsville and so doesn't work as well as a place to explore or chill out after a battle.
    • From the beginning, the Side Order DLC was quite open about pandering to fans of Off the Hook, who lamented how Out of Focus they were in the base game (the only thing saving them from being outright Demoted to Extra at first was the promise that they would return eventually). When the DLC released, it brought with it an enormous amount of Pearlina Ship Tease, with their dialogue and behavior doing everything short of explicitly denoting them as a couple, indicating Nintendo was perfectly aware what many of Off the Hook's fans wanted out of the campaign. Shiver/Frye is hinted at too, for good measure.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII and all of its compilations. After the original game gained its massive popularity, new additions were added on to the story to "expand" its content, or "explain" points in the story that were generally the most confusing or significant. In actuality, these add-ons were created to help cater to the needs of the many fans of the game; indulging popular characters such as Cloud Strife, Vincent Valentine, and Sephiroth; and increasing (and complicating) the already large and solid storyline with new plotlines and characters. At this point, Final Fantasy VII is practically a new franchise itself.
    • The producers of Advent Children admitted in an interview that the reason Cloud acts like a conflicted, pensive loner instead of the strong and confident leader he had become at the end of Final Fantasy VII was because that was the way he had been depicted in most doujinshi.
    • Crisis Core is, in fact, prefaced with the new symbol created for Final Fantasy VII, called the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. Considering the series is famous for love-it-then-leave-it tactics in regards to the various games, the fact that Final Fantasy VII has not one, not two, but fully six games featuring the same characters shows a dramatic shift in the management of the series.
    • The Final Fantasy VII compilation was a way of pandering to the base through the intellectual property, but it also gave Square Enix developers a chance to try their hand at different genres while still creating popular titles.
  • The Kingdom Hearts series, which a lot of the staff of Final Fantasy VII work on, has also seen a rise in this; the most blatant being the very existence of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, which stars the members of Organization XIII. The pandering went as far back as the Final Mix edition of the original Kingdom Hearts, which threw in a Sora and Riku flashback scene right at the very end of the game that seemed designed solely to cater to the Yaoi Fangirls of the base.
  • In sequels, this can result in the difficulty approaching, and even going past, Nintendo Hard, as each sequel is designed to challenge players who completed (all of) the previous game(s). The Guitar Hero franchise sank into this, with certain note and chord arrangements clearly mixed for challenge instead of logical chord placement on the higher difficulties. This gets worse (or better, if you're one of the hardcore players) with each installment. In fact, Guitar Hero 4's guitar is generally easier than 3's due to these complaints.
  • In the years that followed the release of Deus Ex: Invisible War, the team leads admitted that some of their base-breaking design decisions were influenced by complaints from vocal fans of the original Deus Ex over problems that, in retrospect, weren't actually problems.
  • Devil May Cry. A chief complaint of the second game from Western audiences was that it lacked the first game's challenge, even the infamous Dante Must Die mode providing little difficulty. The version of the third game released in the West went too far in the other direction, with each difficulty spiked up to be the equivalent of the Japanese version's next-higher setting. "Normal" was the Japanese "Hard," "Hard" was the Japanese "Very Hard," and "Dante Must Die" was just plain ridiculous. The fourth game, as well as the third game's special edition, were toned down.
  • Fighting and destroying 343 Guilty Spark in Halo 3 could be considered more fanservice than boss battle.
  • The entirety of the Super Smash Bros. series, particularly after they introduced the trophies in Melee, allowing them to pay homage to games and characters who aren't playable.
    • The series have been criticized by some western gamers for doing this too much in the direction of Japanese fans at the expense of the rest of the world, as many playable characters reflect Japanese popularity rather than global fame. The inclusion of Marth and Roy in Smash Bros. Melee, for instance, provoked some head-scratching, given it predated the release of any Fire Emblem game in America. The constant inclusion of Jigglypuff, likewise, though now seen by westerners as a sort of weird-but-fun franchise tradition, has its roots in pandering to Japanese audiences, where Jigs has long been one of the most popular Pokémon.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate does this for the series' own fanbase, starting off with the return of every single character that's been in the series before (including several that were cut from prior games), continuing with several often-requested changes (such as a Battlefield form and stage hazard toggle for every stage in the game, Ganondorf finally using his sword in more than one move, and the general game flow being reworked to be faster a la the ever-popular Melee), and then climaxing with the reveal of Ridley as a playable character (a very popular choice who many thought wouldn't get in, owing to his size). Further character reveals, including King K. Rool and Dark Samus have only done this even more, and that's not getting into the DLC reveals (in particular, Banjo and Kazooie, Steve, and Sora).
  • The additional battle against Algus/Argath in the PSP version of Final Fantasy Tactics. Since he's a Hate Sink and massive Jerkass, one may think killing him once is not enough. Square Enix did it again in Final Fantasy XIV with a Tactics-themed storyline that brings Argath back once more, so you can fight him and his new Lucavi Demon form.
  • Some critics have argued that the maturity and decline stages of the MMOG life cycle have more to do with this than the actual age of the game. The logic is that at some point developers cave to the demands of the loudest fans—usually more high-end content and boosts to their favorite playstyle—and so the raised barrier of entry makes the game far less appealing to new players. This can also manifest as a new race or class almost nobody wanted save those who had plain run out of things to do. Designs incorporating many wings, belts, zippers, or draconian pants are common. The launch of the Kamael in Lineage II caused a heavy exodus towards private servers, for instance.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III features a segment in which the player is thrown into a dream version of World War II. A new Call of Duty game set in World War II was what many fans had been wanting for a while so that mission should have been giving fans at least some of the thing they want but considering that the developers didn't even bother to add period-accurate weapons and instead everyone just uses mid-21st century weapons, it made the segment feel like a middle-finger to those who wanted a World War II game. A good example of this trope not working as intended.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Cataclysm gave what a contingent of fans had long wanted: letting players fly in Azeroth, new race/class combinations (with controversial lore used to justify Tauren paladins), playable Goblins for the Horde (a much-loved race that had until then been kept out of the Horde/Alliance factions), playable Worgen for the Alliance (which retconned their somewhat vague origin from alien beings to lycanthropes).
    • Mists of Pandaria turned Garrosh into a full villain, likely influenced by his vast hatedom, and ended with what many of his more vocal haters had asked for since Cataclysm, raising Vol'jin to Warchief. The use of Pandaria itself, a borderline joke from Warcraft III, as the basis for an entire expansion, helped to appeal to Warcraft's large Chinese fanbase.
    • Legion brought back Illidan Stormrage, who had died as essentially the final boss of Burning Crusade. He was retconned from a psychotic, egocentric tyrant with delusions of grandeur into a dark anti-hero who is nonetheless Azeroth's only hope against the Burning Legion. His sizeable fandom had been wishing for something like this, disappointed at how he was killed off.
    • Battle for Azeroth returned to the franchise's oldest roots, bringing back some from RTS-style gameplay and focusing again on the Alliance vs Horde instead of a common enemy (often referred to as "putting the "War" back in "Warcraft"). It started off with a battle in which the Alliance takes back Lordaeron, appealing to Alliance diehards, and while this did not please the Forsaken fanbase (given that they've long argued against this very storyline), they were definitely still drawn in by the opportunity to fight against the former.
  • We ♥ Katamari, the first sequel to the wildly popular Katamari Damacy, is literally all about this: The whole game is essentially one big thank-you to the game's fans, and the plot itself deals with the King of All Cosmos becoming wildly popular for his Prince's katamaris and receiving an onslaught of requests for new katamaris to roll up from the fans.
    • Despite a few alterations throughout its lifespan, the Katamari series defines its base as content with the material from the first game, only wanting to take it to different home and portable consoles. The base has also been pandered to greatly by the Katamari Forever soundtrack, which features remixes and re-imaginings of old Katamari tunes, often re-done by previous Katamari artists that composed different tunes in the series. This pandering is in no way a bad thing, as the soundtrack was amazing, as if the previous soundtracks were now Growing the Beard.
  • Team Fortress 2's class updates seem to be one long string of Valve weaponizing memes. They also managed to make "Your mom" jokes with style.
  • Backyard Sports. They try to attract only young sports fans now.
  • Left 4 Dead 2 has a DLC campaign called The Passing, which brings together the old survivors from the first game and the new survivors together. This is definitely nothing more than appealing to the fans who been wanting to see the two survivor groups together ever since Left 4 Dead 2 was made.
    • That has more to do with the fact that said fans don't like the Wild Mass Guessing Downer Ending theories that have been floating around.
    • Done again for The Sacrifice campaign and comic to explain to fans how exactly Bill dies and how the survivors from Left 4 Dead went down south.
    • Valve also ported over every single campaign from Left 4 Dead 1 into Left 4 Dead 2 as a throw to fans that have been porting the maps over themselves (with varying results) so the fans can play Left 4 Dead 1's maps with elements used in Left 4 Dead 2. Of course, this off players who bought Left 4 Dead 1 already.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The entire point of Sonic the Hedgehog 4, which features a return to the classic gameplay while retaining some modern elements. The mixture didn't go over so well, leading to a bona fide classic game in Sonic Mania that did.
    • Sonic Team has done this when it comes to Sonic's rival Shadow. When he proved to be popular, his apparent death in Sonic Adventure 2 was retconned to him surviving with amnesia, and much of the plot focus was put on him in Sonic Heroes. He even got a game centered entirely on him intended to resolve his plot arc. This made him a Base-Breaking Character, dividing him between fans who are still happy with him being around and fans who consider him a Spotlight-Stealing Squad.
    • Shadow the Hedgehog was stated to be a second form of this by the developers. The swearing, use of guns, the motorcycle seen heavily in promotions, and premise of fighting aliens to save the world were specific elements that were included because they were trying to cater to Western audiences. This backfired greatly and caused both critics and fans to heavily pan the game for drifting away from the things that made Sonic games good in the first place.
    • In Sonic Generations, Classic Sonic doesn't speak. This was not a design choice for the originals, as it was mostly due to technical limitations, and he does speak in a couple of games. It seems to have become a staple if the Sonic Mania Adventures shorts are any indication. He is also noticeably more cutesy in Generations compared to his Mascot with Attitude roots, likely due to his Modern counterpart filling the role still.
    • Sonic Forces's inclusion of the Avatar is this to the many, many Original Characters that fans have made. It also features Classic Sonic returning (again) but received heavy criticism for awkward physics (an issue not present in Generations) and a lack of relevancy to the game's otherwise more serious plot.
  • Street Fighter:
    • The announcement of Street Fighter IV was the result of fans and competitive players constantly bugging Capcom for it every chance they got.
    • Street Fighter V seems to be doing to almost to a fault, with the initial release squarely aimed at competitive players with many features deemed as being for casuals delayed for at least a month.
  • When Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was first shown at E3 2010, many long time fans were disappointed at how different the game seemed to be from Marvel vs. Capcom 2. After that, each and every successive demo build of the game featured changes that brought the game closer to its predecessor. The final result, a game that feels like a natural evolution of the previous game (while still showing some influences from Tatsunoko vs. Capcom). The only reason the game doesn't seem to be as unbalanced as the previous one is that this time, they seem to be making every character a Game-Breaker.
  • Super Robot Wars has a lot of this (like any crossover, of course), including giving the player the ability to save heroes that originally died on their shows or recruiting villains that weren't all that evil. Inversely, they also let players kill villains that didn't get directly killed by the heroes or worse, got away scot-free.
  • DICE, makers of the Battlefield series, have been doing this heavily with Battlefield 3 and Bad Company 2, feeding the flames of their stalwarts' huge Fandom Rivalry with Modern Warfare. In addition, their marketing for the original Bad Company pandered to people who disliked popular games in other genres entirely.
  • Episode 5 of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People begins with an arcade machine breaking down and emitting ominous smoke. When Strong Sad says that the fan is broken and needs to be serviced, Strong Bad replies, "Where are we going to find fan service around here?" At that moment, fan-favorite Trogdor busts out of the broken machine.
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2 brought back Jun Kazama due to fan demand, despite the fact that the game was based on the characters who had appeared in the 4th, 5th and 6th games (in none of which she appeared). It can be justified as the game is non-canon, and she had appeared in some of Jin's endings. Similarly, Kunimitsu, another fan-fave missing since Tekken 2, was included in the game's console port as free DLC alongside several other "missing" characters like Michelle, Alex, P. Jack, and Ogre.
  • The "Citadel" DLC for Mass Effect 3 is one giant opportunity for Mass Effect fans to put aside the series of Player Punches that comprise the plot of 3 and reunite for one last grand hurrah with all their previous squadmates, with touching Callbacks and Continuity Nods galore. Unfortunately, it's a party that Mordin, Thane and Legion aren't allowed to attend.
  • The Gundam Vs Series, especially since Extreme Vs. has become a serial case of this trope. An incredible amount of fanservice abounds, whether it's the mobile suits themselves, the works covered and referenced, the soundtrack and voice-over work or even the quirks lifted directly from the shows. And yet despite or perhaps because of all that, it manages to work exceptionally well.
  • In the Star Wars games, the iconic opening crawl, music, and Idiosyncratic Wipes are things that fans have come to expect, nay, demand. Additionally, everything that was said about Star Wars media in the "Literature" section also applies here.
  • A former employee of Irem's arcade division blame this phenomenon as one of the reasons behind the company's downfall in this video. Basically: Instead of using "regular" players for location-testing, Irem had their arcade games tested by fans of the company's previous games and hardcore fans of arcade gaming in general, who were much more skilled than the average player. These way above-average gamers made the games look "too easy" during testing so Irem adjusted the difficulty accordingly, but in tuning the game around the top 1%, Irem made the games too difficult to appeal to the average arcade-goer.
  • Mystic Messenger's "Another Story" route was basically this from Cheritz, fulfilling the longtime fan demand for a V romance route and also making Unknown romantically obsessed with the player character. A lot of fans were ecstatic about this but some other fans had more negative responses to it, saying that V's core trait of being unconditionally devoted to Rika was derailed and his character Strangled by the Red String with the player character just to please vocal V fans.
    • The later addition of an Unknown/Ray route to Another Story also qualifies for this trope as, like with V, the original story gave no indication that Unknown/Ray was ever intended to be a love interest and even made it very clear that his brother Seven was the only person remotely capable of helping him overcome his severe trauma and mental illness. But many fans still wanted to romance him, so Cheritz gave them their wish.
  • Encouraged in-universe in POWER, where keeping your politician's positions close to your state's preferred positions will help you win elections. This can lead to odd situations like a Democrat, a Republican, a libertarian, and a Nazi running for the same seat with everyone having the same positions.
  • The Metroid games are generally more popular in the West than in Japan, so Metroid: Other M was designed to appeal more to the Japanese fanbase by having Samus being more stoic, repressed, and being very submissive to Adam, who used to be her commanding officer. Samus being stoic and quiet is a trait in Japanese media that is usually seen as badass. The attempt to appeal to Japanese audiences did not work. The game overall received mixed to lukewarm reception in Japan while everyone else critically panned the game while also disliking the changes to Samus's characterization.
  • Grand Theft Auto V's main focus on the player characters pulling off elaborate heists was Rockstar's response to fans' overwhelming praise towards the Grand Theft Auto IV mission "Three Leaf Clover", which centered around a bank robbery turned into a massive shootout in the vein of Heat.
  • The marketing strategy of unlicensed gacha games based on big-name franchises involves attempting to pander to those that know said franchise by the star characters and more often than not employ Nostalgia Filter to bring in mind certain characters and/or game mechanics as they were known for in the past. For more specific examples:
    • The formerly infamous Pocket All-Star Smash Brothers markets itself as "Reproduction Classics".
    • An unlicensed Pokémon gacha will more often than not market the Pikachu or Charmander line in various ways, from having them as starters to being rare Mons (or at least having a unique variant) on par with legendaries/mythicals. Mewtwo is often the highest tier and/or the Big Bad in the single-player campaign. One may also market the one-on-one battle mechanic itself, usually having descriptions that basically says "like the classics."
    • Any unlicensed Digimon gacha will shove Digimon Adventure to the front regardless of its V-Pet origins, an easy way to rope in the mainstream that knows the franchise from the anime more. Even if it has other Digimon from later years or even obscure ones, Agumon and pals come first.
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Most of the track selections in the Booster Course Pass, barring those from 64, Super Circuit, 7, and Tour, are tailor-made to pander to fans of Mario Kart Wii. Not only does Wii have the most retro courses in the Booster Course Pass at a grand total of 8, but many of the retro courses from other games are ones that also happened to be retro courses in Wii itself, including SNES Mario Circuit 3, DS Peach Gardens, GCN Waluigi Stadium, and GCN DK Mountain.
  • StepManiaX, a Creator-Driven Successor to In the Groove and, like ITG, featuring gameplay similar to DanceDanceRevolution, features a lot of songs added in post-launch updates that are clearly aimed at longtime DDR fans, either being Dancemania licenses well-known for their inclusion in DDR ("So Deep"), remasters/remakes thereof ("Music & Police", which is almost exactly like "Rhythm & Police (K.O.G. G3 Mix)") or by artists known for older DDR songs ("MAX428" by NAOKI).

    Web Animation 
  • Occasionally discussed in Terrible Writing Advice. JP says that pandering allows authors to put a blame to fans when pandering is not effective. After all, that's what the fans wanted.
  • One of Yahtzee's videos included a note to any potential writers that fans will never appreciate them and you'll be happier the moment you excise the grating sound of their pleading from your memory. Then he suggests buying The Merch. This memorable clip also ran for a few months at the end of every video as part of an actual ad for said merch (replacing a more generic one).

  • Questionable Content was ostensibly about a milquetoast 20-something white guy with a crush on his room-mate, but very quickly evolved into a comic centred upon the numerous quirky odd female hipster characters that replicate various aspects of the fanbase of the comic.
    • Marigold is a cute-but-curvy girl with low self-esteem (despite — or because of? — her large breasts) and a major fan of World of Warcraft and popular anime series. She probably represents the fans better than anyone else in the cast.
    • Claire, a transgender character to appeal to the ever-growing number of LGBT readers of the comic.

    Western Animation 
  • Transformers: Animated:
    • While Beast Wars was directly connected to the original Transformers series, Animated just overdoses on the Mythology Gags and use of characters from the original show to pander to the older Transformers fans. You don't have to be familiar with the original versions of these characters to understand and enjoy even the most Fanwank-heavy scenes and episodes. It's just a bonus, if you are familiar, to see things that hearken back to your favorite past series.
    • Also, it's the first place to have characters originating from the Beast Wars era, namely Blackarachnia, Waspinator, Strika (Beast Machines), and Spittor. There's also a couple of Unicron Trilogy references (Bulkhead and Lugnut) and cameos (Red Alert as a medic rather than security guard, Safeguard, and Hot Shot), and it also has some G1 era characters that were exclusive to Japanese fiction (the concept of the Headmaster, Grandus, Dai Atlas).
    • It also owes big chunks of the premise to the 2007 movie, such as the Allspark (previously a Transformers version of the afterlife, a term now replaced by "The Well of All Sparks") and Megatron's original form.
    • Also worth noting is the process through which many of these character's appearances are decided: the writers plan out the story beforehand and ask the lead character designer (who is a longtime fan of many different ''Transformers'' series) what character would be good to use in a role they already have.
    • Within Beast Wars itself, the continuity ties increased rapidly at the end of the 2nd season. A fan from a newsgroup was actually recruited as a consultant for it.
    • Transformers: Cyberverse works in the same vein as Transformers Animated, featuring fan favorite characters from across the franchise and pulling in as many undeveloped or obscure concepts (shadowplay, Quintessons, Titans, etc.) as possible.
  • Wolverine and the X-Men: In both the title and giving him the most screentime.
  • Adventure Time started as a silly action cartoon but as time passed the show gathered many shippers, the creators realized that and made romance one of the focuses. They started making episodes whose only focus is Ship Teasing, Finn and Flame Princess' drama, Jake's and Lady Rainicorn family, Princess Bubblegum and Marceline, especially the Fionna and Ice King fanfic book episodes that only exist to pander these fans, season 5 is full of this. All this teasing is great for the shippers but the older fans and kids not interested in romance lose.
  • The co-creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender referred to their chibi-short tribute to the show's Shipping phenomenon as "fanservice". With its obvious detachment from the main storyline and nicely animated comedic anime effects (all subsequent to the mid-season downcast ending of the finale), the short was almost unanimously well-received by both shippers and non-shippers alike. There was also an in-universe play near the show's end parodying the show itself.
  • Due to popular demand during Seasons 8-12, Family Guy's former resident Creator's Pet Brian had been getting his just desserts and resident Designated Monkey Meg had been thrown a bone ("Dial Meg For Murder"). The writers have also decreased the Overly Long Cutaway Gags in favor of less derailed episode plots and lampshaded/deconstructed the character changes.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "The Last Roundup," there's a largely filler scene in which a perennial Ensemble Dark Horse background character with the Fan Nickname Derpy Hooves is actually canonically revealed to have that name, and gets several lines. This caused some trouble as her clumsiness, name, and Simpleton Voice was misinterpreted as being mentally handicapped, and so the scene was rewritten with her name removed and voice changed. This came under extreme fire from the fanbase, and so she was eventually brought back as somewhere in the middle, with them focusing on how she is a Kindhearted Simpleton who is clumsy but apparently good at what she does, and even given something of a backstory via Meaningful Background Events, and while the show's creators maintain her name is Derpy they were careful to leave it out of the credits "for copyright reasons."
    • Season 4 is running with this trope after the massive fiasco that the finale of season 3 brought up with Twilight's promotion to Princess of Equestria. In the second part of the premiere, she's shown to be unable to fight off a couple of plant buds that spew knockout gas on her own, and from the third episode to the eighth, she only uses her wings twice in circumstances where it's easy to ignore, and her status isn't brought up to so much as ask for a taxi in a long line in Manehattan — not that any of the ponies even acknowledges her as a royal. The developers seem to be going to great lengths to deliberately avert self-insert tropes that the fandom has associated with alicorns.
    • The 100th episode, which is titled "Slice of Life". Involves the main characters being busy dealing with a monster—the fact that the monster is part panda may be some kind of a Stealth Pun—while the episode itself focuses on characters that are considered very popular Ensemble Darkhorses in the fanbase, which includes characters like Derpy, Doctor Whooves, Vinyl Scratch, Octavia, and others. Furthermore, it canonizes several elements of Fanon, such as Steven Magnet's name, Vinyl and Octavia living together in Ponyville, and Derpy being a mailpony. It also includes Lyra and Bon-Bon, who are often shipped together in the fandom; the episode explains them as simply being best friends... however, it also had them bicker Like an Old Married Couple in a subtle reference to how often they're shipped.
    • Speaking of Lyra and Bon Bon, the final season completely jammed on the accelerator for all the shippers and had them not only propose, but actually marry in the Series Finale.
  • After the very controversial reception obtained by Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien for being different than the original series and Darker and Edgier, the writers went for this trope when working on Ben 10: Omniverse: the tone got Denser and Wackier, references to the original series were made to the point of Continuity Porn, most villains and characters who were important in AF and UA (like Kevin, Gwen or Ben's girlfriend Julie) got either Put on a Bus or Demoted to Extra, and flashback segments and episodes taking place in the original series era were included. Other than reversing the position of the fandom (many of the sequels fans hate it and many of the original series fans adore it), it didn't exactly change the situation.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) has been featuring an overload of references to the previous cartoons, films, and comics to keep older fans interested, especially when it comes to the 1987 series. This includes several characters from it or nods to the characters' 1987 versions (such as Splinter being the human Hamato Yoshi again or Baxter being mutated into a fly), several plot homages to the 1987 series, and even a cameo appearance from the 1987 turtles at the end of one episode, with their original voice actors no less.
  • The Simpsons, Futurama and South Park are all examples of shows that have become increasingly self-referential after a few seasons, with only their own fans able to get most of these references.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • The show has an automobile company that was founded by the descendant of the fan-favorite Cabbage Merchant from the earlier series. As the owner is arrested and dragged away in one episode, he even yells "No! Not my Cabbage Corp!" much like his predecessor's "My cabbages!" whenever his cart was destroyed. They're even voiced by the same actor.
    • One of the most common criticisms of the earlier seasons is that they focus too much on a Love Dodecahedron at the expense of the much more interesting Myth Arc. After the first series spawned a notoriously large Shipping fanbase, the creators anticipated the same response for Korra and planned an elaborate romantic storyline to sate those fans. Unfortunately, it came off as a Romantic Plot Tumor to many.
    • In the Grand Finale, Korra and Asami become the Official Couple, which led to some of the fanbase accusing the creators of making it up at the last minute, with it coming off as pandering. The creators denied this, insisting that the whole thing had been planned for quite some time, and they do want to explore the relationship in the comics. Their reasoning seems questionable because neither Korra or Asami had any behaviour that would indicate they were falling for one another; with a lot of the romance in the show coming from the Korra/Asami/Mako Love Triangle, and the closest to any kind of hint to their relationship was in Season 3, and many assumed it was just a Ship Tease and not much else. The creators also admitted that the cameos from Tahno and a number of other minor characters in the last episode's wedding were shameless pandering.
      "There is the inevitable reaction, “Mike and Bryan just caved in to the fans.” Well, which fans? There were plenty of Makorra shippers out there, so if we had gone back on our decision and gotten those characters back together, would that have meant we caved in to those fans instead?"
  • Due to the controversy that "You're Getting Old" had caused, Seasons 15 (B) and 16 of South Park had been making references to earlier episodes, reappearances from old characters, deconstructed character changes and dialled down the topical humor.
  • It's very unlikely almost anyone in the target demographic of Arthur notices Maria, the popular, rabbit background character from Arthur's school. Despite this she has a Lower-Deck Episode named "Maria Speaks" all about her. It obviously panders to the Periphery Demographic.
  • Luna Loud from The Loud House is a character with a lot same-sex fan shipping, artwork, and fanfiction, comes the episode 'L is for Love' where is revealed that she has a crush on a girl named Sam, thus revealing she's bisexual. A lot of fans were pleased with this development.
  • Season 2 of Ready Jet Go! is this big time. Resident Ensemble Darkhorses Mitchell, Lillian, and Dr. Skelley get more screentime, Mindy finally turning five and going to space, and loads of references to previous episodes. It's gotten to the point where you have to watch season 1 just to understand season 2. It also helps that the season had started production in August of 2016 and wrapped up sometime in late 2017, and by then the show had already garnered a fanbase.
  • Kaeloo:
    • When season 2 aired, fans often voiced their discontent with episodes where Pretty was actually nice instead of being a complete jerkass, and said they liked seeing episodes with her as the antagonist. The writers apparently found out about this, so in Season 3, they made her an even bigger jerk than she already was.
    • Season 3 also contains other things that the fans said they enjoyed, like Kaeloo/Mr. Cat shipping, Pretty/Stumpy shipping, Ursula finally making an appearance, character development, more episodes with Olaf in them, and Stumpy getting more Throw the Dog a Bone moments.
    • Season 4 has a heavy focus on Kaeloo and Mr. Cat's romantic relationship, which is the most popular ship in the fandom.
  • Intentionally averted with Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, with Jhonen Vasquez wanting to avoid exploiting fan nostalgia. As such, the film uses a Lighter and Softer art style compared to the original show, downplays a lot of the iconic imagery, and lacks several fan-favorite characters in favor of a smaller standalone story focusing on Zim and the Membrane family.

  • According to this blog post, LiveJournal did this constantly, which prevented the site from becoming mainstream.
  • Jeff Dunham has been becoming this, as his shows have become more rooted in shock humor and stereotypes (with increased emphasis on Breakout Character Achmed) in order to appeal more to the conservative Southern crowd (Dunham is a Texas native).
  • Peter Kay gets accused of this by some other stand-ups. Richard Herring said his act consisted mostly of "remembering things that happened in the 1970s".
  • Debian is currently planned to pander to the Vocal Minority that hates GNOME 3 by switching from GNOME to Xfce as the default desktop environment for Debian 8 "Jessie".
  • Is the reason why NickRewind exists. During the tail end of the Turn of the Millennium and going through The New '10s, 90s nostalgia was reaching an all-time high, especially among "Generation Y" babies born in the late 80s and early 90s (i.e. the people who spent most of their childhoods in The '90s). Since Nickelodeon was seen as a major victim of Network Decay during this time, there were lots of petitions and requests for Nick to bring back their 90s era programming in some form, much like what Cartoon Network did by introducing Boomerang. At long last, the 90s kids got what they wished for, and the block (then known as The '90s Are All That) premiered on Nickelodeon's "for teens and older audiences" channel TeenNick in 2011 as a late-night block that brought with it shows like the titular All That, Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, and many more. This block is also notable for finally re-airing the infamous "lost movie" CryBaby Lane (during Halloween no less) for the first time since it was banned more than 10 years prior.
  • Fascism (particularly Benito Mussolini's brand of it) has been described as an ideology that was whatever the public wanted it to be, as long as it was set to marching music.
  • This article argues that one of the reasons that 50% of Canadians still supported the direction that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government in 2015 (despite a terrible picture of employment) was because he gave his supporters what they wanted, (for instance, being tough on terrorists, lower taxes and cuts to social spending) at the expense of the rest of the Canadian population. (Pandering to the base is practiced by all democratically elected governments, it is how they win votes.)
  • According to Simon and Martina of Eat Your Kimchi, base pandering is one of the big weaknesses of K-drama. The directors would change the relationships of the characters, based on what they see the fans demand. This would lead to 180 turns where characters that hated each other, would become lovers the next episode without any logical setup.
  • This video by Midnight's Edge argues that the phenomenon of recent blockbuster movies that feature China in some way, include Chinese characters and/or involve Chinese companies in their production, obeys the growth of the PRC's market as a sizable source of revenue for Hollywood.
  • These two articles about Jeff Goldblum's popularity in The New '10s both argue that his friendliness with fans, amused delight at their stranger tributes to him, and eager willingness to be just as eccentric as the characters he plays — if not more so — whenever he appears in public is a positive example of this.

    In Universe 
  • South Park: In "Quest for Ratings", this happens with the boys' revamped news show. They mention adding panda bears and hot girls for the sake of appealing to kindergartners and 6th graders, even if they aren't relevant to their stories.

Alternative Title(s): Pandering To The Fanbase