Follow TV Tropes


Stopped Caring

Go To
The hopelessness hits an Everquest pusher.

"Who cares about throwing a ball or having a kid?
It'll get you nowhere in life,
Not like getting anywhere matters.
Although, I guess it does if you care,
Which I don't."

A character, having faced an indifferent world for so long, finally gives up all pretense of trying. They do the bare minimum to try to get the job done, and make no effort of initiative elsewhere. They know that whatever they try isn't going to work, so it's just easier to be jaded and cynical (and right) than to be constantly disappointed by plans that never work.

Depressing as that sounds, this trope is almost always played for comedy. This is because the trope is a popular part of Deadpan Snarker mentality. One of the benefits of not caring is that there's nothing stopping you from making cynical, ironic and humorous quips about the world around you. Granted, said character won't be much fun to be around since he makes these jokes at the expense of nearly everyone else, but again, he doesn't care, and it's not like anyone's going to have the guts to actually do something about it since his irritation doesn't go past his passive-aggressive sarcasm.

But sometimes, they stopped caring because it hurt too much.

This should not be confused with a related concept, Professional Slacker, which is when a character makes an aggressive effort to do as little work as possible.

When used seriously, the character has probably crossed the Despair Event Horizon, overlap with Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!, or become Too Broken to Break. Compare Giving Up on Logic, Then Let Me Be Evil, Jaded Professional, The Fatalist, and The Power of Apathy. When one's descent into cynicism is triggered by a particular event (rather than a gradual grind over time), see Cynicism Catalyst. If a new character appears and the process starts all over again, see Logical Latecomer. If a work does this to its audience, it's Too Bleak, Stopped Caring. When this happens to a creator of a work, see Creator's Apathy.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Cross Ange: The titular protagonist develops this attitude by the fourth episode. Case in point, when Emma asks Ange how she can walk around the base nearly-naked due to Clothing Damage, Ange responds that she doesn't get embarrassed if a bug sees her naked. This is sign that she doesn't intend to treat either Mana-users or Normas as human beings. It's only reinforced by the hostile treatment the people from her former home nation, and given how much she's been lied to and the cruelty her former people are capable of, it's no surprise.
  • Played for Drama in Devilman (and by extension, DEVILMAN crybaby): near the end of the series, Akira's friend Miki is murdered by a lynch mob, he forsakes his efforts to protect humanity to get revenge against Ryo, whose machinations led to Miki's death. This is especially poignant in Crybaby, when Akira flat out states that he has no tears left to cry. This also becomes a Foregone Conclusion: his empathy was the biggest source of his strength, without which he ultimately dies by Ryo's hands.
  • Played for Drama with Leo from PandoraHearts. After Elliot's death (of which he blames himself), he pulls a FaceĖHeel Turn in order to perform his duties as Glen, but he even admits to himself that he hates everything and that "in the end... nothing mattered anymore."
  • Played for Drama with Hishigi from Samurai Deeper Kyo. He knows he's dying and that there's no chance of correcting the inherent genetic defect that is killing the Mibu clan. Even as he continues to fight for his one remaining friend, he expresses the fact that he has grown tired and uncaring of the cause he's fighting for.

    Comic Books 
  • Possibly the "rich hottie" in Local #8. He's rich, gorgeous, and considerate, but Megan ends up deciding it "just isn't right" and leaves his bed giving the It's Not You, It's Me line, to which he replies "it never is". Megan sees this as proving that he's secretly a jerk, but alternatively, the poor guy has been through this routine so many times that he's completely indifferent to what she thinks of him now since he knows she's not coming back. It's the easiest explanation for why his doorman "knows the drill". How many Jerkass Casanovas have a doorman who's used to calling a cab for women to go home in the middle of the night?
  • Loki's God(dess) of Stories incarnation claimed that their genuine Screw Destiny happened because they did this. Meaning: Falling because of mistreatment or parental favouritism? Trying to show it off to all? etc. These all only mean anything if you give two shits about what they think! And they don't anymore. (They still care about the people, who dare to be their friends... but anybody else, especially Asgard? Nope.)
  • In Dark Nights: Death Metal: The Secret Origin Superboy Prime claims that, after being in a lot of Crisis Crossovers where villains have tried to "Remake the entire Multiverse in their vision" and having no idea of what is happening anymore, he stops caring. The fact that, barring Superman and Wonder Woman, none of the heroes or villains that are trying to save the Multiverse trust him doesn't make things better for him. Nor does how he realizes some of the people he personally killed are there, meaning they got rebooted and his efforts did not matter.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Dilbert, this is an inevitable effect of working for the company with its useless, sadistic, or outright criminal administration; its Pointy Haired Bosses; and its soul-numbing office environment. They call it the numbing, and Professional Slacker Wally is its endpoint. Dilbert himself has managed to escape this fate (except when Rule of Funny says otherwise) by learning to game the system to his own advantage.
  • In Doonesbury, this is what's happened to Walden's President King. Frustrated with the (ultimately successful) attempts of students to segregate themselves in the early 1990s, he's since become completely indifferent to his job, allowing Walden to languish into a low-tier party school where students don't even make a pretense of planning for their futures. At one memorable commencement address, he even stated this outright to the students, asking who would ditch his degree right now if he could become a writer for Family Guy. All of the students promptly raised their hands, except for one who was scared of the killer bees that live in California.
  • Marla of Retail has long since learned to roll with the punches from her customers and her higher-ups. Even after being promoted to store manager, she still maintains a thick level of snark, even going so far as to openly berate customers who annoy her, and make fun of her boss to his face. She also happens to be the only person capable of keeping her store running, so her Vetinari Job Security does her attitude no favors.

    Fan Works 
  • Amelia (TanaNari): Shaman takes this attitude about religion while talking to Rosary, who belongs to an ardently Christian Haven. Mainly because he sees no point in trying to debate her, as Rosary is a Know-Nothing Know-It-All who refuses to consider any viewpoints that conflict with her own.
  • Winston Payne in Dirty Sympathy has a pretty good idea about what's going on, but knows that with the personalities he deals with, he shouldn't even bother trying to get involved.
  • In endure this tragedy that we like to call home, as much as he despises the Danganronpa series, Gonta has long since given up on the idea of bringing the insanely popular franchise to an end. In fact, he finds himself watching the newer seasons simply as a way of passing the time.
  • Feralnette AU: Marinette gives up on trying to stay friends with her classmates and maintain her cheerful persona, as she decides to focus primarily on her duties as Ladybug and the new Guardian of the Miracle Box. To this end, she trades her fashionable style for oversized hoodies and unkempt hair, stops fighting against Lila's lies, and no longer goes out of her way to help all her estranged friends as their "everyday Ladybug".
  • A Game of Masques opens this way: Yami has completely given up on being happy or invested in anything, going through everything in a detached state.
  • Tired, Cyril in The Good Hunter expresses this sentiment at the beginning of the story, noting that there is no point of trying to change anything even if he is technically capable of doing so. The plot tries its hardest to make him ditch this mentality.
  • How Far Do These Roots Go Down?: After realizing that her gift has led to her being blamed for being the Bearer of Bad News, Isabella decides that there's no point in trying to please Alma and everyone else, embracing her role as the Black Sheep of the Madrigals.
  • Considering the nature of The Infinite Loops, this has happened to more than a few people, who realize that with time constantly resetting, nothing they do will matter in the long run. This is known as Sakura Syndrome, named after Sakura Haruno, the first person confirmed to suffer from it. This mentality is actually very dangerous, as it can cause loops to crash, possibly damaging them further.
  • The Karma of Lies: After realizing that Adrien truly does not care about how Lila is hurting her and their friends/classmates, and that her classmates are a bunch of Entitled Bastards who took her for granted, Marinette gives up on trying to help them. This sticks even after they change their tune... mostly because Adrien only changes his mind after Lila successfully cons HIM, and both he and her former friends expect her to forgive them and help fix everything without so much as an apology for their betrayal.
  • In The Night Unfurls, the last page of Kyril's journal has the owner declaring that he's "honestly just too tired to care anymore" as dawn was coming in Yharnam, showing how thoroughly battered he is during the Night of the Hunt.
  • Raise: Jaune hits this point in Chapter 14, realizing that it's utterly impossible for him to use his abilities to help everyone, no matter how much he pushes himself. What's more, he realizes that he's surrounded by Entitled Bastards who only care about his powers, and that he'll never be able to please everyone; they'll always come up with more things to criticize.
  • Two Letters:
    • Back when she was still Ladybug, Marinette fought valiantly to save the Place des Vosges from being razed for one of Mayor Bourgeois' environmentally unsound vanity projects. After being worn down to the point that she decided to retire, however, she no longer seems to care about such things. In fact, she seems almost amused when she tells Luka that the Place des Vosges is being replaced with a monument to the new Ladybug.
    • On a larger scale, Marinette grew tired and resentful over spending so much time fighting to protect Paris for very little recognition. The citizens seemed to be taking her protection completely for granted, expecting her to keep magically fixing everything with Miraculous Cure. This ultimately resulted in her decision to quit, confessing to Luka via letter how she no longer cared about being everyone's Ideal Heroine.
    • In the end, this story deconstructs the Fandom-Specific Plot of Marinette becoming this by revealing that Marinette not only "stopped giving a damn", she full-on snapped.
  • Unsatisfied - Numb reveals that an emotion-suppressing drug has been developed, and that people are using it to avoid any chance of being akumatized. Marinette starts using it herself, enabling her to become the Ideal Heroine Tikki desired... at the cost of no longer caring about her friends, about Lila's manipulations, her hobbies, or anything else that used to matter to her. For all intents and purposes, she becomes an Emotionless Girl who prioritizes the fight against Hawkmoth over all else.
  • After trying and failing to get Bakugou to become a better person for over a decade and being nearly bullied to suicide for it, Izuku finally gave up in The Vigilante Boss and His Failed Retirement Plan. Izuku realizes that Bakugou is never going to be willing to change and they're both toxic influences on each other. When Izuku and Bakugou reunite at Yuuei, Izuku maintains his distance and refuses to react to Bakugou's baiting. While Izuku still cares for Bakugou on some level, Izuku stopped caring about helping him.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Feeding Frenzy: Carl's primary characterization is his total apathy. When he asks Jesse what his "big dark secret is," Jesse seems like he's actually about to come out with it, but Carl says, "Actually, I don't care," and walks away. Even when Carl is helping the protagonists fight the monster invasion, he's frequently seen shirking his duties so he can dance with pretty ladies or drink a beer.
  • Gone with the Wind: Rhett Butler, having had enough of Scarlett O'Hara's pursuit of love, decides to leave Atlanta for parts unknown, to which this famous exchange occurs:
    Scarlett: Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?
    Rhett: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
  • Joker (2019) is all about a troubled, but generally well-meaning nobody turning into the monstrous supervillain the world would come to fear. Part of his journey to villainy entails him losing virtually everything he has left in his life to believe in, and after getting a taste for blood, he learns to accept that life has no meaning but the chaos he creates does, and becomes damn near unstoppable from it.
  • Maleficent: Diaval tells Maleficent that he doesn't even care anymore when she again threatens to turn him into some ugly animal. Subverted in that he does not actually give up on trying to make her see reason.
  • This happens to several soldiers by the end of Platoon.
  • The Shawshank Redemption: During his first two onscreen parole hearings, Red assures the workers that he has definitely been rehabilitated by his time in prison. His parole is rejected both times. The third hearing following Andy's escape from Shawshank, Red has been so beaten down by his 40 years in prison that he admits to the parole hearers that he thinks that the entire concept of rehabilitation is a sham, and while he does genuinely regret the crime he committed to earn his sentence, he's now too old to care whether they release him or not.Ironically, this admission convinces them to grant him parole.
    Red: So you go on and stamp your forms, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don't give a shit.

  • A Christmas Carol: While most people think of Scrooge as a guy who hates Christmas, he has a greater problem with his fellow man. Scrooge has become old, bitter, and miserly as a result of past tragedies, the worst of which happened around Christmas. As a result, Scrooge no longer cares about the poor and those worse off than him. But as everybody knows, he eventually learns differently.
  • Isaac Asimov's "Flies": Polen has become so jaded by his ability to see subconscious emotions that he tends to isolate himself from other people and withdraw from contact with living creatures.
  • Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor: After the villain tries to break Luke Skywalker with an involved And I Must Scream session (very much Played for Drama), Luke becomes nihilistic, depressive, incapable of believing all those high ideals he'd had... but he goes and consciously acts exactly like he would have before this happened, in hopes of Becoming the Mask.
  • Warrior Cats: Bluestar does this in the later part of the first series, convinced that her Clan is full of traitors and that StarClan is at war with her Clan.
  • The Witch of Knightcharm: A rookie witch at an evil Wizarding School, LaTasha Abayo, indicates that while she was initially excited to learn that magic was real and that she could learn it, she was so horrified and disgusted by the inhumane lessons and the cavalier disregard for human life that she no longer cares about excelling at the school. Even though she's strong enough to compete in the dangerous challenges to improve her class rank and thus garner more privileges, she says she just wants to keep her head down and survive until graduation.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Greg can't go to Emory business school, because he has to take care of his sick dad, so he decides to go to extension school instead. However, he slacks off and when he gets a bad grade, he claims it's because of this trope and he simply doesn't care anymore. He could, but he doesn't. He is then promptly called out on this.note 
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor stops caring about the universe and retires after the Ponds' death until Clara snaps him out of it.
  • Forever: Adam claims that this is an inevitable result of living for thousands of years.
  • Phil Miller in The Last Man on Earth is reduced to this at the start of the series, thinking he is the eponymous individual. Then some other survivors start turning up, and he acquires a whole new set of problems.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: Due to the death of her mother, Raelle initially has a death wish. She enters basic training not caring about herself or anyone else. Later subverted however. She gains a lover and friends among her fellow cadets, whom she's very caring toward (albeit in a subdued, quiet way).
  • Supergirl (2015): J'onn J'onzz, a shapeshifter, gets called in to pretend to be a sick Kara when Lena comes to visit while the real Kara is off being Supergirl. He puts zero effort into it, referring to James, one of Kara's closest friends, as "Mr. Olsen", making no attempt to follow Kara's cheerful mannerisms, or really even pay attention to what Lena is saying. Lena doesn't notice anything is wrong.
    J'onn: (with Kara's face, but his own voice) The indignity...

  • Neru's connected songs "Whatever whatever whatever" and "Let's Drop Dead" have two friends, I and Yaya, talk about how they wanted to do a lot with their lives, but social pressure and a bleak outlook caused them to stop and live their lives as unashamed "pieces of trash". It's not clear if "Let's Drop Dead" is before or after the former song, but they made an effort there (represented by them exercising) before completely giving up.


  • The Adventure Zone: Balance: Taako, over the course of The Stolen Century, stops caring as a result of seeing The Hunger engulf or at least nearly destroy every world they land on.
    Taako: Everyone I've ever met, aside from the six of you, were just dust. Just talking dust, okay? So I started worrying a lot more about me because what was the fucking point?
    • He has another, even darker moment of this during Story and Song, when his memories are restored and he realizes he's lost Lup and been betrayed by Lucretia.
      Taako: I appreciate what youíre trying to do. And Iím on board for whatever the plan is. But understand this: I have nothing, and I donít give a shit. The world is ending, and I. Don't. Care.

  • In Jasper in Deadland, Jasper has absolutely no reaction when everyone in his life yells at him and treats him like a burden - he just sits still and waits for the yelling to stop.
  • A Raisin in the Sun: Beneatha wants to be a doctor, after an incident where she saw her friend crack his face open when they were kids, and the doctors helped him make a complete recovery. Her dad is supposed to put away money for her to go to med school, but he gives it all to his friend who ends up stealing it. At that point, Beneatha totally gives up on the idea and realizes that she was being an idealistic, naive child. She goes into a downwards spiral and becomes a Straw Nihilist.
    Beneatha: Don't you see there isn't any real progress, Asagai, there is only one large circle that we march in, around and around, each of us with our own little picture in front of us— our own little mirage that we think is the future.

    Video Games 
  • Can happen in Dwarf Fortress. If a dorf suffers enough trauma, they'll get "doesn't really care about anything anymore" permanently added to their profile. And they really don't — unpleasant events will be far less bothersome, and good events will be far less enjoyable. A common Video Game Cruelty Potential in older versions (when dorfs were much more prone to Ax Craziness from bad thoughts) was to do this deliberately.
  • Not displayed, but expected, by Preston Garvey in Fallout 4. If the player character chooses to help him and his charges escape a raider siege, Preston offers them money even though none was requested. If the PC responds that they "didn't do it for the money," he's shocked and apologetic, explaining that since the Minutemen had dwindled, he'd gotten used to everyone he met only being in it for themselves.
  • Kingdom Hearts III: Ansem, Seeker of Darkness thought at some point that he could defy his seemingly inevitable destiny as Master Xenahort's sacrifice. After realizing this was an impossibility, he simply gave up. By the man's own admission, he found himself not caring at all about the betrayal of the remaining members of the original Organization XIII, knew he stood no chance against Sora and co, and finally "nothing else seemed to matter anymore".
  • Many of the characters in Machinarium just chill and don't do much in their crapsack world, though they do help you out if you help them. For example the robot prison inmate, who helps you in exchange for a cigarette, but then doesn't even care to escape when the cell is unlocked.
  • In Mass Effect, the warlike krogan race suffer from this collectively. They used to have a very high birthrate, which was necessary on their home planet because of frequent death at the hands of predators, and later each other. The Council races discovered and uplifted them, using the krogan to defeat their rachni enemies, but once they'd been removed from the conditions which limited their numbers the krogan grew too strong and attempted to conquer everything. The salarians responded by creating the genophage, a bioweapon that would alter the DNA of every krogan and drastically reduce their birthrate by causing most pregnancies to result in stillbirth. The turians, taking a different view than the salarians who only wanted it as a deterrent, unleashed it on the krogan. The salarians had carefully calculated the effect to stop the explosive multiplying of the krogan while still allowing enough births for the species to survive. However, the continuance of the krogan's natural proclivity for violence despite them no longer having the birthrate to compensate has frustrated most efforts to keep their population from declining. As a result, many krogan are fatalistic about their impending extinction, and thus, only live for violence and short-sighted, selfish goals.
    • Your krogan squadmate from the first game, Wrex, suffered from his own version of this. In the past, he tried to get the krogan to focus on breeding for a short time, only to be betrayed by his father. Jaded by the realization that the krogan would rather die fighting than work to save their species, he turned his back on his species and, like many other krogan, became a mercenary serving no one but himself. If he survives the events of the game, he'll change his mind.
  • During the ending of Mega Man Zero, the Cyber Elf spirit of X admits that he fell victim of this long before the events of the series.
    "Since you disappeared I've been fighting this war alone against an uncountable number of Mavericks for nearly a hundred years... Battle after battle... So painful and so sad... But the hardest part was when I discovered that I no longer cared about fighting enemies..."
  • Undertale: Sans found out the whole world can reset at any time, which has basically driven him to become incredibly lazy and not really care what's going on. That is unless you do the Genocide Run in which case you become such an evil threat he can't possibly not care any longer and decides to give you a bad time... by laying the most brutally hard boss fight on you the entire game has to offer.

    Visual Novels 
  • Area X has Elcia and Belph.
    • Elcia stopped caring after spending her childhood growing up on the streets.
    • Belph lost faith in his family when he found out they had turned the planet into a barren wasteland, and stopped caring when he realized he had to become one of them.

    Web Comics 
  • In Girl Genius, the captain of the airship which Madwa and Ariadne are basically hijacking 'for pay' has basically given up, and just doesn't care anymore. After all, it's that or throw himself off the ship in desperate madness, and really, what's the point?

    Western Animation 
  • Trevor Belmont lost everything at the tender age of twelve in Castlevania (2017). His family home was burned to the ground, he was excommunicated from the church, and all of his family is dead. Trevor today is a jaded vagrant who only seeks to find his next meal and his next drink. He's been living such a cold and lonely life that he just got used to it, to the point that he doesn't even realize his own depression until Sypha points it out to him.
    Trevor: Am I really sad?
    Sypha: All the time. You don't even notice it now. It's just how you are.
  • After getting his scythe stolen over and over again throughout the series, Grim in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy actually says this verbatim when Sperg steals Grim's scythe in the episode "The Secret Snake Club vs. P.E." (Played for Laughs, of course.)
    Sperg: Gimme that! [steals Grim's scythe]
    Grim: I stopped caring like five episodes ago.
  • Invader Zim: A problem the writers had with Dib near the end of the show's run was that he wasn't responding to any of the abuses he'd suffer, thus ruining the central conflict of the premise. This is most evident in "Zim Eats Waffles" wherein after having been humiliated in front of his teammates at the Swollen Eyeball and having his room destroyed by robots, Dib screams only briefly, then simply mumbles "whatever...", and goes to bed.
  • In one Robot Chicken sketch, a spurned member of G.I. Joe decides to join Cobra after being mocked and stuck with the codename "Fumbles". Then Cobra Commander gives him a bad one as well (though at least he wasn't being malicious about it), which the man is resigned to.
    Cobra Commander: My those are some fancy trousers. I shall call you Trouser Snake!
    Calvin/Fumbles/Trouser Snake: Heh. I don't even care anymore.
  • The Dragon Prince: When Sun Elf Karim approached Sol Regem, he revealed to him that humans had come to Xadia and asked the old dragon to become the dragon king again. Sol Regem pointed out his blind and crippled state and admitted that he had lost hope long before he lost his sight and asked him to leave. Notably, in the previous season, it was stated that Sol Regem was known as a symbol of hatred, obsessively guarded the border and would not let even one human enter or leave Xadia alive. Now, Sol Regem is in a cave alone, and hearing about humans in Xadia, he refuses to act; itís clear that during the time skip, he has lost the will to even act on his hatred and now does not care about the humans and wants to be left alone in his despair.
  • The Simpsons has a couple of examples:
    • "In Marge We Trust" reveals that Reverend Lovejoy started out as an eager young minister willing to help his parishioners, but was worn down by Ned Flanders' ceaseless inquiries. "Finally, I just stopped caring. Luckily, by then, it was The '80s and no one noticed."
    • In "Lisa's Sax", Bart was really enthusiastic about school until he met a kindergarten teacher who was openly hostile towards him. After that, Bart stopped caring about trying to be good in school.
    • "The Seemingly Never-Ending Story" revealed that Mrs. Krabappel was a dedicated teacher until she met Bart. However, "Diary Queen" later revealed that, despite the trouble she went through as his teacher, she never lost hope in his inner goodness.

    Real Life 
  • This is the basis of Nietszche's "last man", an individual who is disillusioned with life and the world, and is content with mediocrity, taking no risks, seeking only comfort and security.
  • When the Visigoth king Alaric I sacked Rome for the third time in August 410, the citizenry of the severely weakened and demoralized city offered no real resistance. (Historians disagree on whether the famous opening of the Salarian Gate by Roman slaves, to let in Alaric's army, was the city's ultimate expression of this trope, or whether it was a plot in which Visigoth soldiers infiltrated Rome by going undercover as slaves.)
  • This is how the Three Kingdoms effectively ended.
    • The state of Shu had been in decline for some time due to rampant corruption within the court and the general Jiang Wei's repeated and futile attacks on the much larger state of Wei. When Wei launched a full scale invasion in 263, the soldiers on the frontlines did their duty, but when a crack Wei force managed to make their way to the capital city of Chengdu (after defeating a desperate last stand by what few defenders were available), the city surrendered without much of a fight.
    • The fate of the third kingdom Wu was even more pathetic, as the people and the soldiers had become so disillusioned by all the political turmoil followed by the tyrannical rule of their emperor Sun Hao that when Wu was invaded, most soldiers simply threw down their arms and surrendered without a fight, and the common people helpfully pointed out the quickest routes to use for advancing large groups of soldiers.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): I Dont Even Care


Sol Regem's Lament

The once majestic Dragon makes it clear he will be of no help to the exiled Sunfire Elf royal.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / HowTheMightyHaveFallen

Media sources: