Follow TV Tropes


The Power of Apathy

Go To

"If everyone in the entire world got together and 'not cared' hard enough, it would fix the multiverse!"
Linkara, Crossover review of Warrior #4

Sometimes dispassion is the best motivator.

In fiction, like enthusiasm, the lack of enthusiasm can be harnessed as a weapon. It takes more than just turning around and trying to pretend your problems don't exist. You have to mean it. Feel your lack of investment in the conflicts around you and declare to yourself and the world "I DON'T GIVE A RAT'S ASS!"


The Power of Apathy is usually done under cynicism. Just as the form of media the trope manifests in is meant to represent an absurd deconstruction of the monomyth or the genre that it inhabits, The Power of Apathy is meant to be a twisted parody of The Power of Love, The Power of Hate, The Power of Friendship and whatever power you can get out of all of the other emotions.

Common applications of The Power of Apathy are usually done in circumstances too immense for a character to realistically overcome. Perhaps the protagonist is facing against The Horde spanning infinite legions, or a giant, indestructible Kaiju parent who just won't let me hang out with my cool new friends cause he is, like, a total b-word! What is the solution? Just Ignore It. And not just ignore it; get on with your life and find something better to do. The armies and the monsters will get frustrated getting your attention and either go home disappointed or the apathy will physically hurt them as a Literal Metaphor. Because of this, The Power of Apathy is a power usually Played for Laughsnote . The times it is not is usually to counter those empowered by Clap Your Hands If You Believe. Compare Sheathe Your Sword, which involves winning by deliberate inaction rather than apathy per se, and Safety in Indifference for characters who are deliberately (and usually unsuccessfully) trying to invoke the trope. They may sing an Ode to Apathy while doing it.



    open/close all folders 

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • The evil wizard Ommadon from The Flight of Dragons tries to frighten and cow The Hero by expanding himself to giant size, with multiple hydra-like heads. The Hero however, is a man of science, who refuses to believe in Ommadon's magics. Instead, The Hero cites principles of physics and biology that refute Ommadon's powers. By remaining The Stoic throughout the contest, The Hero sees the Villain expend himself entirely in fruitless bluster and theatrics.
  • Rise of the Guardians: Pitch Black finds that the town's children refuse to be cowering and fearful of his powers, those powers diminish to the point where he becomes the most afraid. The children's combined disbelief reduces Pitch to insubstantial and ineffectual, his worst scenario. As a result, his nightmare mooks, who can smell fear, turn on him.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • Aliens (Steve Perry Trilogy): Wilks has this. Near the end of Nightmare Asylum, he recalls a psychiatrist telling him about Doc Holliday, and how he survived against deadlier gunslingers despite subpar skills because, with his tuberculosis diagnosis, he honestly didn't care if he lived or died in any given moment. Wilks embraces "Doc Holliday Syndrome," believing he's been living on borrowed time ever since Rim. Nothing the Aliens can do to him frightens him, since it should have happened to him a decade ago, just like the rest of his platoon. And if he's beyond caring what the Xenomorphs can do to him, he certainly has zero fucks to give about anything a human being could threaten him with, no matter how much rank, status, money, or power they can claim.

  • "I Forgot That You Existed" by Taylor Swift is about how for a long time, she was mad at a former friend and upset about everything they did but is now at a place where indifference is all she feels, and it's peaceful and nice.

  • The Magnus Archives: This turns out to be a pretty effective way to escape the Entities, which makes sense. Given that the Entities are literal manifestations of fear, it follows that not giving a crap weakens them of their power.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: The planet Aphexis is populated by people who simply do not care- Chaos forces have repeatedly conquered the place only to find that the inhabitants don't give a rat's ass about the vast displays of cruelty their captors put them through.

    Web Videos 
  • At the end of the Warrior #4 Linkara/Spoony Crossover review, Spoon and Linkara realize that the time and effort they took bashing the titular comic is what was causing the multiverse to collapse and that they must stop caring about it in order to prevent the apocalypse. They reach out to the audience and plead with them to announce that "these comics suck and I don't even care anymore." The spacial rift diminishes and the multiverse is saved, but Spoony, Linkara, and Insano end up turning into Grey Lanterns, the Guardians of Not Giving a Crap, complete with everything becoming black and white. This soon goes away when Insano asks if they want to watch TNA Impact.
  • In the Ninja the Mission Force episode "Bruce - A Dragon Story", the knights manage to defeat the Troll by ignoring it, the troll crying out "pay attention to me" as it dies from lack of attention. Later, the hero of the episode manages to defeat Number 34 through apathy, even proclaiming "I don't care" as he stabs it.
  • In the Jreg series "Centricide", the Centrists all seem to have this ability in different flavors, all of them capable of making other ideologies less extreme. With Political Nihilist's nihilism beams and Apepolitical's brute force, they both were able to turn AnCom (the Anthropomorphic personification of Libertarian Left-Wing Extremism) into Post-Left, while the Anti-Radical nearly turned Libertarian and AnCap (Anarcho-Capitalism) into Neo-Liberals with his knife.
  • In RWBY, this is the threat of Apathy Grimm. They're not particularly strong, fast, or ferocious (though they are pretty tough), and just casually meander over to their targets. They don't need to be fast or strong, because their very presence drains people of their will to survive. Get enough Apathy together, and even the most powerful of Huntsmen will just stand there and allow themselves to be killed.

    Western Animation 
  • Lumpy Space Prince in the Adventure Time episode "The Prince Who Wanted Everything" defeats his monster parents through the power of apathy, screaming "I DON'T CARE" at them through a microphone, reducing them to a lifeless pile of lumps.
  • In the Futurama episode "I Second that Emotion", Bender is implanted with an empathy chip tuned to Leela's emotions. When Bender has to save Nibbler from a monster, he can't because Leela is too emotionally distraught. So Bender has to teach her to not care about Nibbler... for the sake of saving Nibbler.
    Bender: Listen to me, Leela. I'm an expert at not caring. The secret is to stop giving a rat's ass about anyone else and start thinking of the things that you want, that you deserve, that the world owes you.
    Leela: Well, I could use a new tank top.
    Bender: Bigger! Bigger!
    Leela: A fashionable tank top, and fashionable boots... encrusted with jewels.
    Bender: Don't stop now! You need pants to go with that outfit!
    Leela: Yeah! And I could afford it all if I didn't have to feed that stupid Nibbler!
    Bender: Bender is back! I'll save you, Nibbler!
  • One episode of Wander over Yonder has the Main Characters confront a monster called the Troll, who feeds off of negativity. He constantly insults and taunts Prince Cashmere's goat army, and he gets bigger and stronger every time he gets a rise out of them. How do the heroes defeat him? By ignoring him. Once they stop reacting to the Troll's jeers, the Troll loses his power and shrinks into nothing.
  • In the The Simpsons episode "Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores" segment from "Treehouse of Horror VI", giant billboard mascots come to life and rampage through Springfield, and the only way to make them inanimate again is by not paying any attention to them.
  • Played for laughs in an episode of Kim Possible. Ron and Monique get paired up for a group assignment, and Ron makes it clear that he expects her to do all the work. Monique tries to refuse, but Ron weaponises this trope against her.
    Ron: "Monique, I think that we both know that you'll do the work."
    Monique: "What do you mean?"
    Ron: "Four words. Grade Point Average. Hey, you care. I don't."
    Monique: "You..." (*stomps off fuming*)
    Ron: "Check and mate."


Video Example(s):


The Grey Lanterns

Spoony, Linkara and Dr. Insano manage to successfully save the multiverse by convincing the audience that Warrior #4 is irrelevant and have now become Grey Lanterns, the Guardians of Not-Giving-A-Crap. It makes more sense in context.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / ThePowerOfApathy

Media sources: