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Took the Bad Film Seriously

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"Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them."

Despite their best wishes, every performer who is not John Cazale will end up acting in at least one bad movie in their career.note  Some are wise enough to notice this going in, and decide to have fun while getting paid for it (lucky bastards). Not this guy though. They act with sincerity and conviction for an overproduced, over-hyped, and shoddily-written movie.


The reasons for this vary: they may have extreme professionalism in every role they take to keep their reputation, they could be desperate to prove something (either a young actor who's still new or someone Playing Against Type desperate to show they're able to play multiple parts), there was Executive Meddling afterwards that hurt the film, or they honestly couldn't tell from ground level that the movie wasn't True Art but a glorified B-Movie.

The net effect is very Narmlike, with audiences becoming amused that this guy is putting so much effort into a flat role for a dud movie. This makes the actor/character stand out and seem out of place: they aren't like the other bad actors on set with their dull detachment, but they aren't hamming it up either. They may even seem to be overacting by comparison because they're the only ones really acting. If enough of the cast do it, the movie itself may become So Bad, It's Good as it crosses the threshold from bad to surreal with actors giving Oscar grade performances for a throwaway summer Action Movie. On the other hand, this trope can very occasionally make the movie worth watching solely for the actor's performance, if it is good enough. He or she might even rescue the film from being So Bad, It's Horrible.


This is the cousin of Ham and Cheese, which features a Large Ham in a bad movie. This trope, by contrast, has a serious performance in a bad movie.


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  • The corny Heineken tie-in commercials created for Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace have this in spades. The making-of video for Royale's commercial shows everyone involved in the production treating it like a serious mini-movie, with production crew talking about injecting "high drama and wit", and Steven Gaghan (the director of Syriana) being hired to direct the clip. It seems a bit much in light of the corny subject material, which has...Vesper knock out a goofy-looking waiter and bring a Heineken to Bond's room. The Quantum commercial is even worse - the actors and crew are taking a commercial about a grocery store clerk who daydreams he's a spy absolutely serious, and lead actress Olga Kurylenko discusses at length how this commercial is so important for women. Notably, for the release of Skyfall, Heineken did away with the making-of completely and dropped the pretenses about the corny material.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Takehito Koyasu and the rest of the Weiß Kreuz cast, likely because Koyasu created it as a way for himself and his cool voice actor friends to show off. This accounts for a good bit of the charm of the series.
  • The Transformers wiki suggests Garry Chalk and David Kaye as Optimus Prime and Megatron in Transformers Energon. Brad Swaile puts on a similar performance as Kicker Jones; and he later cited it as a key factor in disowning the role after he was cast as Light Yagami in Death Note, which made him a mainstream success.
  • Macross Delta: The effects of Executive Meddling really show on the second half of Delta, but that doesn’t stop the cast from giving it their all. Special mention goes to Asami Seto, whose interrupted Love Confession in episode 20 was filled with genuine emotion and sincerity.
  • One Piece: The cast of the 4Kids dub is generally not considered especially talented, from yelling a lot (Luffy, Usopp), to adding strange accents that don't fit (Robin, Sanji), to generally poor performances. However, Marc Diraison's performance as Zoro (or Zolo) is arguably considered the best out of all of them as he has a lot more range of emotion in his performance without overdoing it in spite of the cheesy script he was given. Some people even prefer him over Christopher Sabat, Zoro's voice actor in the much better received Funimation dub.
  • Almost all of the cast in the 4Kids' dub of Sonic X put a good amount of emotion into their lines. Especially Lisa Ortiz as Amy Rose, despite not having much to do aside from being a Tsundere. Even then, when she was pissed, there was a lot of energy, and in rare moments like when she finally sees Sonic again after waiting three years in the finale of season 2, her crying love confession sounds genuinely sweet.
    • Likewise, Mike Pollock as Dr. Eggman is usually considered the best 4Kids castings for Sonic X. When the Sonic characters were officially recast again back in 2010, fans were pleased to know that Pollock was the only actor from the 4Kids cast that retained his role.
  • Out of the four Yu-Gi-Oh! dubs that were localized by 4Kids, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's had the absolute least amount of effort put into it. But the cast for the dub pulled a very great performance, especially Bella Hudson as Aki, whose performance was more emotional than her Japanese voice by Ayumi Kinoshita.
  • In yet another example, the DiC Entertainment dub of Sailor Moon is generally regarded as corny at best with a lot of Totally Radical dialogue and censorship, but it's clear that behind the slavish working hours and terrible scripts, the cast was at least trying with the material they had to work with. Especially Terri Hawkes, who restored a lot of Usagi's heroism and conviction Tracey Moore lacked. In an unexpected way, Stephanie Beard also managed to do a great job as Chibi-Usa of all characters after the cast turnover Cloverway took over dubbing the S and Super S seasons. Especially compared with Tracey Hoyt who played her as whiny and abrasive, Beard's voice work as Chibi-Usa was legitimately cute, had some nice range on her spotlight episodes which was especially good as Super S mostly revolved around her, and has many fans who still consider her the definitive voice even after the respected re-dub brought in Moe powerhouse Sandy Fox.
  • Magical Warfare: One of this anime's saving graces is that the voice actors do their best to bring their characters to life, even if the story doesn't actually go anywhere.
  • Blood-C: The entire cast, particularly Nana Mizuki, really did their best in their performance despite the mediocre reception of the show. At least, Mizuki's songs for the show did sell well.

    Films — Animation 
  • Out of all the cast members, Charlie Sheen, surprisingly enough, is the only one who comes off as trying to take Foodfight! seriously (though the movie is supposed to be a comedy, even the non-comic characters ham it up).
  • A singing variation in All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 — the songs are all twee uninspired kids' fluff, and this includes villain Red's "It Feels So Good To Be Bad." But it's still the best song in the movie, thanks to George Hearn's magnificent performance.
  • Quest for Camelot:
    • As Garret, Cary Elwes gives the best performance in the film.
    • Gary Oldman as Ruber, who manages to rise above the material he's given and makes an otherwise cliched villain entertaining to watch.
    • The singers hired to dub the songs (the film was changed to a musical very late in production). Andrea Corr, singing for Kayley, sings the hell out of "On My Father's Wings" - elevating it far above a generic '90s "I Want" Song. Céline Dion sings for Lady Juliana and her song "The Prayer" became a Breakaway Pop Hit.
  • It's quite surprising that The Littlest Light on the Christmas Tree has passable voice acting (and singing in the musical numbers, with Little Light having the best singing voice in the film) for a flawed Christmas special.
  • The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea is considered one of the most divisive Direct to Video sequels of the Disney Animated Canon. It addresses a few issues present in the first film, but its flaws unfortunately outweigh them. However, even detractors are willing to admit that Tara Strong easily gave the best performance as Melody, thanks to putting a lot of charm and enthusiasm into the character.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Peter Cushing described The Blood Beast Terror (a movie about a were-moth who drinks blood) as the worst film he'd ever appeared in, but he went the Consummate Professional route and gave it his all anyway. This is a consistent trend across Cushing's filmography: even the bad movies are at least worth seeing for Cushing's performances.
  • According to Nathan Shumate's review of Chatterbox: "Everyone involved gave their all to make a film that they must have thought was wonderful, witty, daring, provocative, and all those other good adjectives. They put the finishing touches on, stepped back, and suddenly realized:
    "We just made an entire movie about a talking vagina."
  • A review of Deep Blue Sea said the film works because everyone isn't taking it seriously, making it quite fun. The exception is Saffron Burrows, who "behaves as it was an art film" (and unlike most of the examples here, gives a bad performance).
  • Sean Connery in Zardoz. The poor guy is trying his best, though he's clearly embarrassed by the costume. It's been said he did the movie to avoid being Typecast as James Bond. So it's possible he wasn't even considering the role itself so much as what it wasn't. It's also been said that at the time Connery was actually having trouble getting work because the historic paycheck he cashed for Diamonds Are Forever made him too expensive for most filmmakers to want to hire him, so director John Boorman was actually able to get Connery on the cheap for what was a very low-budget film. In fact, the budget was so low that Connery sacrificed most of the comforts an actor of his standing was supposed to get, such as having his own driver, in favor of just rooming with Boorman and hitching a ride to work with Boorman on the condition that they split the cost of gas.
  • Drive Angry: The most enjoyable character is probably the Accountant, played by a very hammy William Fichtner, though it seems that just about everyone took the film seriously apart from Nicolas Cage.
  • Dragonball Evolution:
    • James Marsters didn't appear to take his role of Piccolo too seriously in practice; however, he did give several long-winded speeches on the character's motivations, referencing William Shakespeare in one of them and treating the role as a Composite Character of Piccolo and Kami (who were technically the same being anyway). Still, he gives a downright subtle and restrained performance compared to most everyone else in the film.
      Marsters: He used to be a force of good, but he was imprisoned, making him very angry, and then he escapes... The cool thing is anybody who's seen Dragon Ball knows that Lord Piccolo transforms into THE Piccolo, and that is a whole other ball of wax; heroic wouldn't be the wrong term, but it's a long journey.
    • Perhaps a better fit for this trope is Justin Chatwin as Goku. Holding back other considerations of how his character's motivation is changed from Anime to Film, his performance of Goku as an insecure teen is pretty good, even adding some character development as he becomes self-confident to the point of gaining Heroic Willpower. It's also been said that he studied the original manga AND the manga's inspiration, Journey to the West, in preparation.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
  • Eragon is widely considered a bad adaptation of its source material and a generally poor film overall, but while John Malkovich and Robert Carlyle seemed to accept this and just went completely over-the-top in their villanous roles, some of the other actors were clearly putting in much more effort:
    • Ed Speleers as the title character is obviously trying to make a good impression in his first major acting role, but his stilted delivery combined with a poor script makes for some unintentionally comical moments.
    • Jeremy Irons, who is no stranger to hammy acting, gives a genuinely convincing and, by his standards, surprisingly restrained performance as Brom, despite the scriptwriters' best efforts to the contrary. Since he seems to have taken Ed Speleers under his wing, this was likely a deliberate attempt not to overshadow his younger co-star, but sadly, all he really accomplishes is making everyone else look even worse in comparison.
  • Flash Gordon:
    • Timothy Dalton, especially considering the film also starred BRIAN BLESSED. Dalton's performance actually does work to the benefit of the film, though, since it's not so much a bad movie as a very silly one. According to Dalton himself, he did this intentionally on advice from Max von Sydow.
    • Max von Sydow gives a fairly restrained and subtle performance as Ming the Merciless, a character you'd expect the actor to chew the scenery for, and it works extremely well. Or perhaps Von Sydow just succeeds in the rare art of playing a character over the top (you can hear the sheer enjoyment of what he is doing whenever he speaks) WITHOUT having to pick bits of the scenery out of his teeth.
  • Anything Ed Wood's ever done. Glen or Glenda, especially, to the point where some audiences even find it unironically kinda good (if very weird). Bela Lugosi, in Wood's Bride of the Monster, despite being, well, an Ed Wood film, plays his role with utter conviction, particularly Dr. Vornoff's lamentation, "Home? I have no home!"
  • Everyone in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale takes it seriously, even the hammy villain. You have to wonder if the all-star cast noticed that their director was Uwe Boll. Regardless, everyone makes a fine effort... we even get to see John Rhys-Davies as a wizard! And Matthew Lillard trying to be a menacing corrupt royal.
  • Roger Ebert noted that in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Pete Postlethwaite was the only cast member who seemed "convinced that he is on an island with dinosaurs, and not merely in a special-effects movie about them." Unsurprisingly, his character is the most memorable. After working with Postlethwaite, Steven Spielberg called him "the best actor in the world".
  • Several of the cast members in Showgirls take their roles seriously, which contributed greatly to its cheesy reputation in the intervening years.
    • Gina Gershon comes close to salvaging the film. She's clearly trying her hardest to be emotionally sincere during the hospital scene at the end and gives the closest thing the film has to a Tear Jerker.
    • Elizabeth Berkley could be said to have taken Showgirls too seriously. This is why she received the majority of the backlash from it. At least everyone else gave the impression that they were trying to distance themselves from it.
    • Kyle MacLachlan was rumored to have stormed out of a screening because he was told by Paul Verhoeven that they were making a serious art film and not... well, Showgirls. MacLachlan himself claims no such event took place.
    • If you watch the "Making Of" featurette included in the DVD, it seems like EVERYONE involved the film took it way too seriously. It's downright surreal, hearing people go on about "complex emotional bonds" and making serious attempts at character interpretation for a movie that turned out to be... Showgirls. Meanwhile, Robert Davi is camping it up for all he's worth as the sleazy owner of the Alligator Club, clearly aware that the material couldn't rise beyond its narrow aspirations.
  • Speaking of Kyle MacLachlan, this seems to be true of most of the cast of Dune (1984), which featured convincing performances from him, Patrick Stewart, Max von Sydow, Dean Stockwell, and a few others. It's rather telling that in spite of the film's failure, Stockwell's career was revitalized by it and McLachlan, who had never appeared in a movie before, was not instantly banished from Hollywood forever, making enough of an impression that he would star in several later projects for the director. This is a big part of why the movie's cult fandom enjoy Dune for the things it gets right, and not for the things it gets wrong. On the other hand, there's Sting's performance.
  • If anybody's watched the documentary Best Worst Movie, then they know that Claudio Fragasso of Troll 2 infamy takes his film VERY seriously.
  • John Carradine in practically anything. The man made a career out of this trope, in fact.
  • Everyone not named "Michael Clarke Duncan" in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.
  • Sienna Guillory tried her damnedest as the role of Jill Valentine in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, even going so far as watching game footage to get her movements right. This hits further when you listen to the movie commentary; Milla Jovovich (Alice) and Oded Fehr (Carlos Olivera) were cracking jokes and being good-spirited throughout, while Guillory was deadpan serious the entire time (admittedly, she recorded her commentary separately, but it aptly demonstrates their differences in attitude toward the film).
  • Roger Ebert's review suggests Guy Pearce in The Time Machine
  • For the Fantastic Four (2005), Michael Chiklis wanted to give the most authentic in-person portrayal of The Thing regardless of the film's quality. As such, he insisted on wearing cumbersome make-up and costume instead of just simply voicing a CGI character for the same pay and less effort. Needless to say, even the most vocal haters of the Fantastic Four movies applauded Chiklis for his dedication.
  • Everyone in X-Men Origins: Wolverine did this, with Ryan Reynolds and Danny Huston being possible exceptions.
    • Reynolds was busy proving that just because you aren't taking the film seriously doesn't mean you can't have a blast taking your character as seriously as he merits.
    • Michael Fassbender's Magneto stands out for being as good as ever in Dark Phoenix when just about every other major actor involved seemed to have realized that their subseries peaked two films ago. Sophie Turner is also doing her best in the lead role but unfortunately falls well short of the threshold.
    • The music video for Deadpool 2's Award-Bait Song, "Ashes", features an in-universe example, where Deadpool tells Céline Dion that her performance was too good for what is supposed to be a raunchy superhero flick and that she needs to dial it back from an eleven to five, five and a half tops.
  • In the opinion of Richard Roeper and A.O. Scott, Denzel Washington in Déjà Vu.
  • Due to its extremely dysfunctional production and many competing explanations for what went wrong, we may never know exactly why Peter Sellers underplayed the role of Evelyn Tremble in James Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967), but his work (while funny) certainly clashes with that of the hammy stars brought in to make up for his being fired from it. The Life and Death of Peter Sellers suggests he underplayed it deliberately so he could be taken seriously.
    • Later Sellers top-lined the 1979 comic version of The Prisoner of Zenda. According to biographer Alexander Walker, it was upon reading the completed script that Sellers desperately tried to get out of it, but couldn't because his only-recently revived career and his plans to finally make his dream project could not withstand the legal morass it would result in. In the finished film, he does a fine (though not hilarious) job with the roles of hero Syd and goofier Prince Rudolf, again in contrast to some hammier supporting actors, but there's an air of defeat hanging about him throughout; one can tell he knew he couldn't save the movie no matter what he did on- or off-screen. (He got to do that dream project next, and thankfully, it worked out much better for everyone involved.)
  • Despite what you might think, Lea Thompson does not consider her performance in Howard the Duck to be an Old Shame. Watching the movie, you can tell Thompson was actually giving the role her all, without even the vaguest hints that she was aware of just how ridiculous the whole undertaking was.
  • Laurence Luckinbill (Sybok) is unique among the Star Trek V: The Final Frontier cast in that he's seemingly the only one doing his darnedest to do an earnest acting job. Well, DeForest Kelley, an old-school character actor, carries on as he always did (the scene about deciding to end his dying father's pain is considered a high point for McCoy's character as a whole), and William Shatner also takes it seriously, in his own way. Most of the rest of the cast are clearly enjoying their Ham and Cheese, with the notable exception of Leonard Nimoy, whose groans you can see and eyerolls you can hear.
    • On that note, Tom Hardy in Star Trek: Nemesis - which goes a long way to making up for some of the film's flaws. He may be playing a villain who's a fifth-rate Khan knockoff at best and a Generic Doomsday Villain at worst, but you can really see the guy who'd go on to star in much better movies in there.
  • Hounddog has the following critical consensus (by and large): Dakota Fanning's acting - excellent. Other children's acting - very good. Adult acting - good (from most) to average. The script, directing, editing, and post-production - horrible.
  • Skin Walkers (2007) a now all but forgotten werewolf film notable for only two things. 1) The Gun-Toting Werewolf Granny. 2) The entire cast and crew play the extremely silly plot and spout off the absolutely atrocious lines dead-set-seriously. In the entire film, there's only one intentional joke, but it's nowhere near as funny as the hilarious stuff played absolutely straight elsewhere. (Even the Gun-Toting Werewolf Granny is meant to be taken seriously!)
  • Street Fighter suffered from this...though oddly enough, it wasn't because of the actors (especially Raúl Juliá, who made Ham and Cheese a gourmet delicacy with his portrayal of General M. Bison); it was because of the director, Stephen E. De Souza, who directed it as a super-serious action movie instead of the campy Movie Of The Game it was supposed to be. This is in fact, what made Mortal Kombat successful where Street Fighter failed.
    • To be fair, De Souza suffered from extreme Executive Meddling with the film. Orson Welles would not have turned in a good product in those conditions.
    • Also, funnily enough, Raul Julia also counts, in his own way. Yes, he's practically consuming pieces of the set on film with how hard he's going in on the ham, but it's also clear that he thinks this is the best approach for the character (and let's face it, even in the games M. Bison is a total ham). He took the role because his kids dearly wanted to see him do it while he was still well, and by god you can tell he's doing his absolute best to give a performance that will entertain and delight them. He also did research and based his performance on the mannerisms of real-world dictators, so the man really did his homework for this role.
  • Starship Troopers: It is not necessarily a bad movie, but most of the main cast doesn't seem to realize that it is actually a parodic take on military jingoism. In fact, Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown seem to be the only people who know what kind of movie they're in. Neil Patrick Harris might also have realized. This probably helped a lot in making the movie such a very successful Stealth Parody that pretty much everyone at the time thought to be just a bad attempt at an ultra-patriotic action movie.
  • Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey in Edison don't phone in their performances. As a result, any scenes featuring them (and lacking Justin Timberlake and Dylan McDermott) are much more suspenseful than the rest of the film.
  • Hilary Swank:
  • Wild Things isn't necessarily a bad movie. While the film seems to be trying to be a Stealth Parody of the erotic thriller genre, the cast doesn't seem to agree on how seriously to take the script. As a result, many see it as unintentionally hilarious.
  • From a review of the terrible low-budget Mockbuster Nazis in the Centre of the Earth:
    "The star of the movie is Christopher K. Johnson's Dr. Mengele. It's as if he's in some other far more sophisticated, far better film (perhaps with Sir Ian McKellen?) and his scenes have been cut and pasted into this Asylum movie. It's like watching a person who is taking this seriously and has actively made the decision that he's going to pretend he's in Marathon Man no matter how horrible the movie is turning out. This is a professional. This is some Patrick Stewart shit going on right there."
  • According to Mel Brooks' commentary on Blazing Saddles, this occurred with Frankie Laine when he recorded the title song. He simply didn't realize the film he was singing for was a parody, and Mel didn't have the heart to tell him after he recorded this gem.
  • Daniel Day-Lewis in Nine. The film was considered by many to be a catastrophe, but the man, who's a notorious method actor, delved into his character just as much as he has in any other character he's ever played. Many critics wondered if it would hurt his mostly unblemished career at all. He's seconded by Marion Cotillard, who director Rob Marshall viewed as the real star of the film. Her powerful, emotional performance of the Movie Bonus Song "Take It All" nearly redeemed the film for some.
  • The Last Airbender:
    • According to this review by Charlie Jane Anders, Shaun Toub plays General Iroh this way in The Last Airbender.
    • Dev Patel also plays Zuko seriously for the most part, though he does indulge in a slice or two of ham occasionally.
    • Asif Mandvi as Zhao as well, since the few hammy bits are frankly part of the Smug Snake he was playing.
  • Director Rob Bowman knew that Reign of Fire was essentially a B-movie but he and most of the people involved in the production decided to play it straight. Only Matthew McConaughey really cut loose in his performance, but his character was supposed to be legitimately deranged.
  • Morgan Freeman's sheer presence and awesomeness is the only interesting thing in the otherwise entirely unremarkable Along Came a Spider.
  • Jackson Rathbone is actually an awesome actor.
    • His role as a split-personality unsub in the Criminal Minds episode "Conflicted" put this beyond doubt. Unfortunately, he got the role of Jasper in Twilight.
    • The Last Airbender, when he played Sokka as Jasper with a boomerang, was worse in this regard.
  • Peter Fonda provides a heart-wrenching dramatic performance as the character Burnett Stone in the Thomas the Tank Engine movie, Thomas and the Magic Railroad. His seriousness is actually justified, as the original script gave his character a lot more story and the character had all the reason to be as depressed as Fonda portrayed him to be. According to these production notes, Fonda compared his character to Ulee, a character he previously played in the adult drama Ulees Gold. Peter saw Burnett as a man who lost touch with the world after enduring the revenge of P.T. Boomer, a cut character. Due to major cuts demanded by an uninformed test audience, Burnett’s serious performance ended up seeming out of place in the final film.
  • In addition to Rathbone, the Twilight series is full of examples of this trope.
    • Dakota Fanning gives the best performance of anyone in the whole Twilight series. Kristen Stewart, who is critically acclaimed in anything that's not Twilight, tries for a serious performance as well. Her interviews indicate as much, but ultimately she just makes Bella come off as wooden. Much like Tina Louise below, Stewart also seems to the cast member most resentful of her Twilight fame.
    • Billy Burke consistently gives an emotionally honest performance in the role of Bella's concerned father Charlie. If Fanning's performance isn't the best in the series, then Burke's is without a doubt.
    • Nikki Reed hardly gets much screen time in the films. But when she does, she manages to deliver shockingly good performances. Her scene in Eclipse where she tells Bella about her life, or in Breaking Dawn when the Cullens discover Bella's pregnant.
    Rosalie: Say it — Baby! It's just a little baby!
    • When Anna Kendrick appeared in Up in the Air, one review said, "Some of you may know her from Twilight, but you know what, that's not her fault."
    • Michael Sheen as Aro is one of the most convincing portrayals of a human-eating monster in the series. His giddiness and Ham and Cheese performance are completely in character and give off the feel of a serial killer.
  • Armand Assante in Judge Dredd. He looks like he's actually about to cry when he gets to the "That's your family! I'm your family! I'm the only family you ever HAD!" Careers are built on less sincere performances. Especially notable since he actually manages to combine it with its supposed foil Ham and Cheese — that line comes almost right after ("LAAAAWWWW!") and then sounds like he's about to start crying seconds later.
  • Everyone in Battlefield Earth plays it straight. Even the Psychlos, who come from a World of Ham, seem to be taking their ham very seriously. Only Forest Whitaker seems to be having fun with his role, and he stated that the only reason he did the role was Money, Dear Boy, and even later came to regret that.
  • Michael Goughnote  was literally the only actor in Batman & Robin who wasn't given (only) horrid one-liners for dialogue or forced to act like a ham-crazed clown. Consequently, his scenes end up being the closest thing to sincerity that the film has.
  • The Expendables is essentially a knowingly-cheesy pastiche of every action film made in the '80s, to the point of exaggerated gunfights, ridiculous contrivances, and Ham and Cheese acting by all the main cast...except Mickey Rourke, who seemed to think he was in a totally different film and gave a nuanced performance as an ex-member of the team who waxes poetic about their past missions. He also gives the best speech in the film (about how he felt dead inside after doing that job for so long). It's totally at odds with the subject matter, but his performance works brilliantly.
    • The same goes for Mel Gibson and Antonio Banderas in The Expendables 3. While most of the new additions to the cast are clearly aware what the franchise was going for (a traditional passing-the-torch tale), Gibson has an odd look of defeat about him - caused by media backlash over the intervening years - and plays everything either ultra-serious or in full-on Riggs mode, while Banderas oscillates from Ham and Cheese to the most sincere and serious moment the film has when he tells Barney (Sylvester Stallone) about the reasons why he couldn't work with a team for a long time.
  • Christopher Reeve had to have known that the Superman film franchise was on its last legs when he signed up (with stipulations) for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. To note, Reeve would only take the film if several conditions were met, one of them being a strict anti-nuclear message. While other members of the cast understand how bad the script is (Gene Hackman was there for a check and Jon Cryer was camping it up), Reeve gives it his all and delivers the only emotionally honest performance in the film, which is especially evident in the scenes where he prepares to sell the Kent family farm and the sequence where he delivers a stirring speech to the United Nations. It's enough to make the viewer wish that the film wasn't screwed over with (among other things) the most ridiculous villain ever seen in a comic book film, Nuclear Man.
    • Superman III wasn't exactly a brilliant film either, with villains who were arguably even lamer than Nuclear Man (or even Hackman's Lex), but damn it all Reeve gave a valiant effort in that one too, as did his one time leading lady (and future Ma Kent of Smallville) Annette O'Toole. Even Richard Pryor's goofy antagonist has sincere moments when he isn't being put through slapstick paces (his explaining to his employer that Krypton was destroyed, for instance); in fact, the character could have been even goofier but Pryor, a longtime fan of the superhero, objected.
    • From the same franchise and era, Helen Slater actually gave a very likable performance as the title character in Supergirl — sadly, her sincerity got lost in a story that made no damn sense.
    • From the same producers and era, with the exception of John Lithgow as B.Z. (who is a case of Evil Is Hammy as this film's equivalent to Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor, which works in context), Santa Claus: The Movie has a wholly sincere cast working to put over a near-Epic Movie about a character whose nature, associates, and setting don't exactly cry out for the gravitas of a Superman spectacular, with a story that gets sillier as it goes along. David Huddleston as Santa Claus is the most obvious example of this working, but Dudley Moore's endearing performance as Patch the elf is a lot less hammy/indulgent than one would expect from a comic actor who was the biggest name in the cast back in the day, and Burgess Meredith is a One-Scene Wonder as the dignified Ancient Elf.
  • In The Seeker, the only actor who seems to be taking it at all seriously is Alexander Ludwig, who plays the protagonist, Will. He's so earnest and such an awful actor that it's hilarious when it's not cringeworthy. Going by Vikings, he seems to have gotten better, much like Ed Speleers.
  • In the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker series of film comedies, this is done on purpose. If it weren't, the "stories" (such as they are) simply wouldn't be as funny.
  • John Williams is known to have taken several bad or even very polarizing films seriously, improving them as a result.
  • Joan Crawford started to act like this towards the end of her career. After What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Crawford starred in a string of B-horror films that included Strait Jacket (playing a psycho ex-wife), Berserk (as a circus ring-mistress accused of murder), TV anthology shows and her final film Trog, which had Crawford playing a researcher who discovers a man (running around in a ratty ape suit) that's supposed to be the missing link between man and ape — reportedly, she only did this final film as a favor to a director friend. However, she still acts as though she's doing Mildred Pierce or The Women, and indeed, eyewitnesses remember her promoting Trog as a piece exploring humanity towards nature. She would later admit how awful her horror films were.
    • In the same vein, Faye Dunaway's performance as Crawford in the adaptation of Mommie Dearest. She genuinely believed the script and film would be hard-hitting, provocative, and would win an Academy Award. Unfortunately, most of the unintentional humor is mined from her overwrought, ridiculously serious performance that borders on campiness — the rest of the cast seemed to be in on the joke and hammed up their performances. The production studio turned its back on Dunaway and starting promoting the film in daily papers as a comedy once word got out about her performance.
  • Honor Blackman in the original Jason and the Argonauts promptly steals the show in a movie that has stop motion skeletons fighting Greek soldiers and mermen holding clashing rocks apart, mainly because she's the only one with well-written lines that don't sound forced or hammed up in the delivery.
  • Similar case with the original Clash of the Titans; you feel like you're watching a different movie when you see the scenes with the deities on Olympus. Not surprising given they're played by Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith.
  • Non-actor example: Alan Menken is a celebrated living accolade of Disney, having done the music for over half the movies of Renaissance era, so many people consider the songs and music of Home on the Range to be the only saving grace of the film. In a behind-the-scenes interview, he talks about how 9/11 happened during the film's production, and the song, "Will the Sun Ever Shine Again?" was meant to aid the embalmed and go out to the people who suffered.
  • Kirsten Storms in Zenon: Girl of the Twenty-First Century and sequels. For that matter, most of the actors; the films wouldn't have worked if the actors had betrayed even a hint of irony or self-awareness. (Though Phillip Rhys going for Ham and Cheese didn't hurt.)
  • Paul Giamatti in Lady in the Water. Despite the film's general badness, Giamatti is good enough to make his climactic monologue a legitimately emotional moment.
  • Many people, fans, critics, and regular movie-watchers alike, agree that the only saving grace that the A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) remake has is Jackie Earle Haley's awesome portrayal as Freddy Krueger. While the movie has a lazily-written story and dull characters and overall is just seen as a cheap attempt of the company to get some extra cash, Haley does his hardest to make his Freddy as menacing, dark, no-nonsense, and evil as he can. This gives us an extremely horrifying and monstrous Freddy (even in spite of the awful CGI burn makeup he was under) that perhaps even surpasses Robert Englund's Freddy in the question of sheer evilness (not in acting though), and so is the only thing that makes the movie tolerable to watch.
  • For that matter, Robert Englund himself. Even when the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise was sinking into the depths of sequelitis, Englund always seemed to be giving it his all as Freddy, no matter how ridiculous the writing and kills got.
  • Peter Cushing has said of his Hammer Horror career that, no matter how cheesy the script was, he would treat it with as much dignity as he would Hamlet.
  • Another classic example is Vincent Price; maybe "serious" isn't the right word for many of his performances, but the man usually gave it his hammy all, no matter the calibre of the movie.
  • Late composer Elmer Bernstein made a living during his later years by scoring comedies. By suggestion of Animal House director John Landis, the comedy would be much more effective if the music sounded dead-serious. For example, the theme for the ZAZ parody Airplane! features a main theme that sounds as if it belonged to an actual thriller (a key component of the movie's humor is playing all sorts of ridiculous gags with a completely straight face, so the soundtrack works perfectly).
  • Catherine Tate in her almost cameo appearance in the Jack Black film Gulliver's Travels (2010). She gets very little to work with as the Queen, but she does her best to make it funny. Compare with Billy Connolly, who's practically sleepwalking through the movie.
  • TRON: Legacy isn't bad but it is a film Starring Special Effects with less of a story and acting emphasis. However, Olivia Wilde gives a rather touching Skilled, but Naïve portrayal of her character Quorra, who could have easily ended up just another Satellite Love Interest. Additionally, Jeff Bridges puts quite a lot of work into making CLU a menacing and interesting villain since the script doesn't give him much help, and he's believably weary but likable as Kevin Flynn. Finally, Bruce Boxleitner doesn't get to replay Alan for long, but he does quite a good job in his brief scenes.
    • Michael Sheen, by contrast, somehow manages to play a man who's playing a Large Ham in-universe, but lets hints leak through. Especially when he's trying to negotiate with Clu and Clu gives him precisely nothing. No reaction, no words, he just stares. You can see his manic grin become more strained, his pitch gets just a little more desperate...
  • Most everyone in Race to Witch Mountain but especially Ciarán Hinds, who is trying hard to hold it together as the evil federal agent after the children.
  • Some people consider The Matrix (particularly the second and third installments) to be a glitzy B-movie (not to mention a geek's biggest fantasy — you can do anything as long as you have the Internet). Hugo Weaving seems to be one of the few people who recognizes this, as he injects a large amount of development for an ostensibly one-note character in Agent Smith, with a large side of Ham and Cheese.
    • In the same vein, Keanu Reeves never succumbs to the ridiculousness of the plot, even as the twists get more and more ridiculous, and other characters start cracking jokes (some in the script, some improvised). He somehow manages to pull off intensity and pathos in the scene where (while blind) he talks to a literal Deus ex Machina (it's even called such in the script) who uses the face of a baby to convey anger.
      • Gloria Foster as The Oracle doesn't do much but spew exposition, but she does it incandescently.
  • Anna Nicole Smith attempted this trope in To the Limit (her first "serious" film), but she was such a bad actress here that her Faux Action Girl secret agent character edges closer to Ham and Cheese. Actually, every actor in this movie is giving an inappropriately dead earnest performance in a T&A-and-violence-glutted B-grade action thriller that is woefully short of the winking irony that might have made it a pretty good film, but only Anna Nicole is inept enough to make her character truly funny (although slightly tragic when you think about it, since Smith really did aspire to be a worthy actress and even wanted to play her childhood hero, Marilyn Monroe). "Best" line? It's an angry "I don't have to explain myself to yew!" (Yes, pronounced exactly that way, in Anna's lazy Texas hick accent, even though her character is supposed to be a sophisticated woman of the world.)
  • The Rock turned down an opportunity to guest host Monday Night Raw because he was too busy promoting one of his films. The film in question? The Tooth Fairy. Although with good marketing, even bad films can make money — which means more roles — so this may be more taking 'making nice for the studio/people that employ you' seriously, than taking the film seriously.
  • The Return of Godzilla is another example where it's not a bad film, but not the kind most actors would go to the mat for. When the film was getting ready to be Americanized as Godzilla 1985, Raymond Burr was brought back to reprise his role from the Americanization of the first Godzilla film. He was told that they were trying to add a lighter tone to the dark, gothic film and that the writers had given him lots of funny lines. He turned them down cold, saying he took Godzilla's Japanese nuclear subtext very seriously, as it was portrayed in both the original and this film, and that he would only perform in a serious role. He likewise refused to help with any of the Dr. Pepper product placement in the film, and in the final product gives a deep, thoughtful performance.
  • The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra deliberately evokes this as part of the Affectionate Parody. According to the commentary, the cast was given imaginary backstories for the "actors" portraying their characters. Andrew Parks played the role of Kro-Bar the alien as if it was literally the greatest role the actor ever had, and thus took it much more seriously than anyone else. Parks's performance, therefore, is a parody of the self-important, hammy style of acting you might see in an Ed Wood movie when it thinks it's making a really insightful point.
  • According to The Room's script supervisor (and possible ghost director) Sandy Schklair, everyone knew full well what kind of movie they were making. Well, everyone except Tommy Wiseau.
    • And Dan Janjigian as Chris-R, a role he took as a favor to his roommate (Mike Holmes, who plays Mike in the movie). Janjigian, who wasn't even a professional actor (the only one in the cast who wasn't) went as far as to read up on Uta Hagen and Stanislavsky (the latter one of the codifiers of Method Acting) and kept character even off camera (in The Disaster Artist, Greg Sestero attributes this to Dan simply "not being the kind of guy to phone anything in"). His performance ended up the most believable in the film.
    • Also, Claudette's actress, Carolyn Minnott. It was mentioned in The Disaster Artist that she wanted an acting role so badly that she gave the movie her all, and she even managed to nail a scene after going to the hospital for heat stroke. Despite Claudette being wildly unpopular (even by the standards of this movie's characters), the effort Minnott put in can still be appreciated.
  • The consensus about the 2011 Adam Sandler vehicle Jack and Jill is that Al Pacino actually had a good performance in what was otherwise a trainwreck of a movie. In an interview, Pacino admitted to having a habit of taking roles in films that he know will be terrible to see if he can make them mediocre.
  • In the Left Behind movies, both Kirk Cameron and Brad Johnson take it seriously in different ways. Johnson takes his role seriously, despite the generally atrocious script, and does his best to make the most of it. Cameron takes the message seriously, since he subscribes to the same theology as the series' authors, and generally looks like he's about break character and rattle out something about calling now to pick up your free information pack. (Gordon Currie, meanwhile, gulps down Ham and Cheese and goes back for seconds as The Antichrist.)
  • This is a pretty common issue with the movies that WWE Films makes. The WWE Superstars that end up performing in them will frequently be taking them very seriously (since they're aware that wrestlers have a short shelf life and are often trying to prove themselves in case they decide to explore acting after retiring). The actual actors, however, realize they shouldn't expect much from films made by a professional wrestling company, and decide to merely have fun. Take The Marine, where you have John Cena taking it dead seriously, compared to Robert Patrick, who is picking the scenery out of his teeth.
  • Liam Neeson in Battleship gives a very noble performance as a naval captain, yet he doesn't seem to be aware that he's a naval captain fighting off an alien invasion in a movie based on a board game. Contrast with Rihanna, who's clearly having fun with her role; and Taylor Kitsch trying to hold his own.
  • Liam Neeson again in A Million Ways to Die in the West. Compared to the rest of the cast, he takes his role so seriously that it almost feels like he wandered in from the set of a much better film.
  • In An American Werewolf in Paris, we have Julie Delpy as the lupine love interest. This review by James Berardinelli adds that her too-good-for-such-a-shlocky-movie performance "isn't necessarily a good thing, since it prevents us from relaxing and enjoying An American Werewolf in Paris as a completely mindless, campy entertainment experience." Delpy's later interviews would reveal that she gave such a good performance despite taking on the film purely for the cash, and disliking the experience so much that she avoided doing any other commercial Hollywood movies.
  • The Celebrity Voice Actor cast of the Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio (2002), perhaps owing to the fact that it was a Hong Kong Dub that may have been Christmas Rushed (it opened in North America less than 3 months after the Italian release), has the whole spectrum of approaches to voice acting in a curious movie — a faction of large hams (led up by Breckin Meyer as the title character, who has the excuse of dubbing Benigni himself), a faction of actors who just can't get their tongues and emotions around the alternately floral and flat dialogue (led up by Glenn Close as the Fairy), and a faction of actors who can and fall under this trope instead (led up by, as it happens, two members of Monty PythonJohn Cleese as the Talking Cricket and Eric Idle as Medoro).
  • Transformers:
    • As bad as Michael Bay's films can be, there's no denying Peter Cullen brings his A-game as Optimus Prime. As his most famous one, Cullen is very devoted to the character and puts the most effort into his dialogue.
    • Leonard Nimoy's performance as Sentinel Prime manages to make him one of the most complex characters in any of the films. Nimoy manages to give a great performance as both the wise mentor of Optimus, as well as the true villain of the story.
    • Anthony Hopkins handles his character in Transformers: The Last Knight with as much professionalism as he can manage, which is impressive as his main role in the plot is to be Mr. Exposition for the film's remarkably dumb worldbuilding.
    • In the same vein of John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith, Steve Jablonsky does a great job at composing the music for the films, no matter how bad they are.
  • There is an absolutely terrible Canadian made-for-TV movie called To Catch a Yeti. The only bright spot in the entire film is that they cast Meat Loaf as the villain, Big Jake, and he's incredibly serious about his performance. Many viewers walk away from the film wishing that the movie had focused on Big Jake instead, as Meat Loaf imbues the character with a palpable sense of menace.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Man 3 isn't as much a bad movie as it is a very divisive one, but it is a case where the technical achievements of the film overwhelmed the story. Regardless, most of the cast does a good job with the material they were given. Tobey Maguire continues to play Peter Parker with an earnest performance with an occasional side of Ham and Cheese when he plays the Symbiote-poisoned Peter. James Franco probably gives his best performance as Harry Osborn throughout the trilogy in this movie, and Thomas Haden Church was phenomenal as Sandman, lending a surprising amount of pathos to the role. Kirsten Dunst also does her best as Mary Jane Watson, even as the script calls for MJ to cheat on Peter with Harry. Only Topher Grace and J. K. Simmons really take advantage of the story's cheesiness, as they have way too much fun for the most part, and even that is downplayed for the latter, as while Mr. Simmons's primary motivation is money, he will give his all on whatever role he takes.
    • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is frequently perceived as a step down compared to its predecessor, with an overly convoluted plot, and over-the-top villains, but both Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy give the same conviction to their characters that they did in the previous film. Many called their scenes the best part of the film, but subsequently lost any hope for a third film being good due to this film killing off Gwen Stacy. The franchise was rebooted shortly after, and a significant amount of fans were calling for TASM 2 to be retconned so Garfield and Stone could return (instead their characters were recast.)
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was thrashed by critics, but their actors were praised for playing their characters with genuine sincerity. Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot, having previously raised eyebrows for being cast as Batman and Wonder Woman, delivered great performances, and even Henry Cavill got some recognition for his portrayal of Superman, even if he got less dialogue than the other characters. This goes back to Man of Steel, where it was commonly observed by Superman fans that Cavill, especially offstage, seemed to be a near-perfect live-action Superman, with an easy grace and a genuine charm and kindness belied by a slightly aloof attitude, but hobbled by the film's narrative and tone giving him very little to work with.
  • Suicide Squad (2016) was blasted by critics for its pacing and embarrassing performance by Jared Leto as The Joker. However, they all praised Viola Davis's scary charisma as Amanda Waller (which is enough to make the Intro Dump first 25 minutes compelling), Will Smith's portrayal of Deadshot (who is warm enough to make his hitman character charming despite his sexist dialogue), and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn (who was very funny, had No Stunt Double including for the sequence where she had to run across the ceiling in stiletto heels, and acted well enough that her over-the-top Nightmare Fetishist Mad Hatter character was convincing). The movie's portrayal of Harley even made her into a Breakout Character or even an Escapist Character, far more popular than anything else about the movie. Some praise was also reserved for Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, who has an actual character arc and provides a subdued performance that conveys how it's a tragic one.
  • Ocean's Twelve: While not exactly a bad film, it's seen as not being quite as good as its predecessor or successor, in large part because everyone involved has admitted they just wanted to get paid to party at George Clooney's villa. Everyone, that is, except one: Brad Pitt said he thought it was funny that Catherine Zeta-Jones "thought we were making a movie." Her performance stands out in the film, although that's not necessarily a good thing.
  • Everyone in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad is well aware they're in a fantasy film Starring Special Effects and play their roles with copious Dull Surprise and Parent Service. Except for Tom Baker as Koura, who goes out of his way to play his generic evil wizard as a Shakespearean Tragic Hero with an inner world, going along with the Fridge Horror (that the character is probably a teenager who merely appears older due to his Cast from Lifespan magic powers) and going against the script in places to make his character come across as noble and fascinating rather than the Card-Carrying Villain he was written as. He's a strong enough character that when he finally accomplishes his evil plan at the end and has to be killed, it's actually upsetting because of how sympathetic he was. He even ramps up the sexuality to upstage all of the pretty people without shirts that he's cast against, moaning magic prayers orgasmically and smoulderingly. Since it was this role that the producers of The BBC saw him in to check he could act before casting him in that role he defined, it is probably for the best.
  • While almost every other cast member in Little Fockers not called Owen Wilson or Dustin Hoffman phones it in, Jessica Alba gives the role of a perky pharmaceutical rep character her all and basically comes off as the only person on screen who actually seems to have motivations other than dollar signs.
  • Kate Winslet in A Kid in King Arthur's Court, as one of the two princesses and the Black Knight.
    The Nostalgia Critic: Don't try to class up this movie, lady, it's not worth it.
  • Follow Me, Boys! combines all the corniness of early '60s Disney and Boy Scout media for over 2 hours. Nevertheless, Lillian Gish, silent film legend who once froze her hand and face for the art, puts her all into playing Hetty Seibert, the town's forgetful but still sharp-witted chairwoman. She commands the film in her final scene where she tearfully remembers her sons lost in World War I, a scene that comes right after a subplot about the army trying to slaughter the Scout troop.
  • Masters of the Universe, a film that, while cheesy and with a plot far removed from the rest of the franchise, had a stellar cast that put the effort into it, helping to make the film tolerable as well — Frank Langella's Skeletor is downright EVIL compared to his cartoon version, and the others — Dolph Lundgren, Billy Barty, Robert Duncan MacNeil, Courteney Cox — also deliver good performances.
  • Self Less features a rather convincing performance from Matthew Goode, making his stereotypical Mad Scientist into a genuine Jerkass Woobie. Natalie Martinez, Victor Garber, and Ryan Reynolds are also clearly trying to take the Cliché Storm seriously and salvage it. Martinez and Garber come close, but Reynolds does not. Ben Kingsley also turns in a powerful performance in the film's first quarter or so, after which he unfortunately gets turned into Ryan Reynolds.
  • Joy was panned when it came out, being instantly recognised as a tacky piece of Oscar Bait with a cliche script and fountain of Narm. Yet Jennifer Lawrence manages to make the Mary Sue of a lead character somewhat watchable, and she actually got an Oscar nomination for her role — the only award the film got nominated for.
  • Jerry Goldsmith said he tended to write music for the best possible version of the movie rather than the movie he was actually scoring. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who feels he failed more than he succeeded (The Swarm comes to mind).
  • Ferdinand Marian, star of the notorious Nazi propaganda film Jud Süß, tried very hard to make the titular villain a sympathetic, layered Anti-Villain rather than a simple anti-Semitic caricature. Some glimmers of this peak through, as an early scene where Süß reacts sorrowfully to another character's anti-Semitism. Overall though, Marian's worthy acting is smothered by the movie's hatefulness. It's perhaps the most tragic instance of this trope: Marian felt so guilty about his performance that he committed suicide several years later.
  • The Spanish flick "Ocho apellidos catalanes" (which got a US release as The Spanish Affair 2) is, at best, an unremarkably mediocre romcom that tried too hard to cash in on its prequel's success, and critics gave it mixed ratings. However, it's clear that Clara Lagos, who plays one of the main characters, is dead serious about her performance, and manages to convey a wide range of emotions. It's a little jarring when you consider it's a comedy, and every other actor on set was clearly having fun while filming.
  • Most performances in High School Musical range from poor to OK, with a few cartoony Ham and Cheese characters. But Zac Efron plays Troy with a real sincerity, ending up being one of the key things that lifts the film above the mediocre direct-to-TV Disney Channel fare it was intended to be.
  • Beastly is mostly a forgettable Paranormal Romance designed to replicate the success of Twilight. Vanessa Hudgens however delivers such an honest and heartfelt performance as Lindy.
  • Aubrey Peeples is a talented actress and singer. Unfortunately the movie she got to show this off in was Jem and the Holograms — a gigantic critical and commercial disaster. Her acting was praised as the only redeeming thing about the film. To a lesser extent, Juliette Lewis as the Corrupt Corporate Executive.
  • Eric Roberts in all his questionable movies since 2000, as summed up by The Cinema Snob:
    Wanna see Eric Roberts in a Christopher Nolan film? You can! A David DeCouteau film? You can! Or how about a PT Anderson movie? Absolutely! A Human Centipede film? Totally... all within a few years of each other! And one thing they all have in common is that Eric Roberts, despite the movie's lack of ambition, doesn't sleepwalk through it!
  • Doom is most charitably considered a mediocre Cliché Storm video game adaptation movie, but one thing reviewers all noticed was how good Dwayne Johnson is as the leading man. Despite a howlingly dumb script where the central twist is him becoming a crazy zombie with bad makeup stuck on his face, he injects a lot of humanity into it, showing cracks in the mask while still being likeable, and making the descent into madness convincing. This was early enough in Johnson's career that he was still being credited as "The Rock", so was probably the role that showed studios how strong an actor he actually was.
    • Another video game adaptation with Johnson, Rampage has him and Naomie Harris as the standouts of a cast that is taking too seriously what is basically a giant monster movie (the exceptions being the Ham and Cheese of Jeffrey Dean Morgan and the two actors playing the human antagonist).
  • Even though her character doesn't actually do much in the film, Lesleh Donaldson still puts her best effort into her role as the Final Girl in the 1980 slasher flick Funeral Home. She was, in fact, nominated a Genie Awardnote  for her performance.
  • Halloween: Resurrection is almost unanimously regarded as the worst film in the Halloween series by a long shot for the utter hash it makes of the franchise and its treatment of various characters... but even its most vocal critics will stop short of criticizing Brad Loree's performance as Michael Myers, often considered to be the sole good thing in the film. To this day, some fans still hope that he gets a second chance to play the character in a much better Halloween film.
  • Of the four Friday the 13th films in which Kane Hodder donned the mask of Jason Voorhees, only one of them, The New Blood, is considered to be any good (even with the massive edits imposed by the MPAA), with the rest (Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes to Hell, and Jason X) making up the series' Dork Age. Fans still consider him to be the definitive Jason, and easily the best actor to play the iconic slasher villain.
  • Death Note (2017) was generally trashed by critics and audiences alike, but the one thing everyone agreed was well-done was Willem Dafoe's performance as Ryuk.
  • Bite, for the most part, is a rather unremarkable Body Horror flick noteworthy mainly for two things: 1) Reportedly causing several audience members unprepared for its gruesome content to flee the theatre in disgust. 2) The entire cast somehow managing to remain professional about the whole thing despite the hokey script and the rather silly dialogue they're made to recite, with varying degrees of success. This is most prominent in the case of female leads Elma Begovic and Annette Wozniak, with the former making a genuine effort to portray her character Casey as a Tragic Monster rather than a simple archetype and the latter making a similarly genuine effort to portray her character Jill as someone earnestly trying to help her friend deal with her situation despite their past differences as she watches her disintegrate, which makes the later revelation that she set her up all the more shocking.
  • Poor Mike Myers in The Cat in the Hat. Stuck in a terrible, Uncanny Valley costume and given a crappy script that totally disrespected the work of Dr. Seuss, Myers nevertheless tried his best to make the movie watchable. Sadly, it doesn't help.
  • Dead Silence is riddled with plot holes, dull acting, and bad special effects, and it prompted a Creator Backlash to boot. The only aspect of the film about which everyone seems to agree is that Judith Roberts' performance as Mary Shaw manages to sell the otherwise hard to buy "evil ventriloquist" character. The flashback scene in which she performs some actual ventriloquy is considered by some to be more unnerving than her scenes as a ghost.
  • Green Lantern is generally seen as a disappointment that, while not terrible, is a big waste of a story that should've made for an awesome movie. However, even the film's biggest detractors heaped praise on Mark Strong for his fantastic performance as Sinestro. And while many considered Ryan Reynolds a poor fit for the role of Hal Jordan, it's generally agreed that the blame can be laid on the casting directors rather than Reynolds himself, who made a sincere effort and does a fairly good job.
  • Maleficent is recognized as a very fan-fiction-type story, applying Draco in Leather Pants blatantly to one of Disney's most evil villains. But Angelina Jolie — a huge fan of Maleficent — worked so hard on her role, adopting a flawless English accent and giving an honest performance. Ditto for Elle Fanning as Aurora — whose performance was praised as one of the high points of the movie.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • The Hobbit Trilogy is at best controversial, and the White Council/Necromancer plotline is considered one of its most pointless parts (and that's saying quite a lot). But nobody told that to Christopher Lee, who leapt at the opportunity to be a good guy, and did his level best in one of his last roles to instill the pre-corruption Saruman with a genuine heroism and determination while maintaining his pride and regality. It may be only a handful of lines and scenes that could be cut three times over and lose nothing, but watching the extras shows the passion he put into every frame of them.
    • Evangeline Lilly herself hated Tauriel's incredibly tacked-on love triangle subplot, but she still clearly tried her best with it. Considering it features lines like "Why does it hurt so much?", she comes pretty close to selling it.
  • Howling II: Stirba: Werewolf Bitch: The acting of Christopher Lee in the second film is so serious and dramatic in comparison with the general stupidity of the film that it is incredibly narmy.
  • Star Wars:
    • The prequels aren't so much bad films as they are very divisive ones, but very few people would call the performances in them more than mediocre, with most of the actors either struggling with poor dialogue and direction (Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman), phoning it in (Samuel L. Jackson and Liam Neeson), or having the time of their lives (Ian McDiarmid and to a lesser extent Christopher Lee). Then there's Ewan McGregor, who comes out as a pretty dang convincing portrait of a young Obi-Wan and manages to sell almost every line he's given (which, considering one of those lines was "Only a Sith deals in absolutes", says a lot for his professionalism); his grief-stricken rant at the end of Revenge of the Sith is genuinely heartbreaking. When an Obi-Wan television series on Disney+ starring McGregor was announced, fan reception was roundly positive.
    • Ian McDiarmid's Palpatine also deserves some note; much like Raul Julia as M. Bison, he's not so much chewing the scenery as devouring it, but it's also quite evident that he considers this to be exactly the right way to play Palpatine. He also dials it back whenever he's Chancellor Palpatine, rather than Darth Sidious, and ends up being pretty convincing at that persona too, coming across as amiable and charming but still shrewd and occasionally creepy. ("Did you ever hear The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise?") It's not until after he outs himself as Darth Sidious and faces Mace Windu in battle that he pulls out a butcher shop's worth of ham. Even people who dislike the prequels as a whole tend to consider him to be one of the biggest bright spots, if only because he stands out so wonderfully in a world where everyone else is stoic, stiff, and miserable.
    • The Rise of Skywalker was mostly lambasted by critics and the fanbase for its nonsensical plotting, thematic shallowness, and wasted development and characters. Nonetheless, it's generally held that Adam Driver delivered a very strong showing, managing to keep a sense of intrigue and gravitas about Kylo even as his arc spiraled into incoherence. His Heel–Face Turn is a particular moment: it's a Recycled Script moment that was clearly filmed and planned at the last minute, driven by a plot point that most audiences found confusing, and he's given almost no dialogue to work with, but he manages to mostly sell it through expressiveness alone.
    • Daisy Ridley in the same film is clearly doing her best to make Rey's character work. Even as the film transforms her into an inexplicable Invincible Hero and lays on increasingly silly retcons, Ridley still keeps up her down-to-earth and self-doubting nature—notably, there were points in production where Ridley didn't know what she was supposed to be reacting to, since the final plot twist had yet to be put in place.
  • Van Helsing:
    • Richard Roxburgh is fed some of the worst lines you can imagine while playing Dracula, and he absolutely sells them.
    • Elena Anaya went to a lot of effort to study bats and incorporate some of their movements into her character. Her charisma and delightful craziness helped make Aleera into one of the favorite characters of the movie.
  • Jupiter Ascending:
    • Mila Kunis is doing her best to make Jupiter - a Pin Ball Protagonist and Wish Fulfillment character - feel like a believable person. One scene where she discovers the liquid she's holding is harvested from humans has a shockingly genuine reaction from her.
    • Channing Tatum likewise imbues his character with a sincerity that makes him feel less like a Draco in Leather Pants brought to life. A ridiculous exchange where Jupiter responds to Caine comparing himself to a dog with "I love dogs, I've always loved dogs" is almost redeemed with the tragic bitterness with which he says his lines.
    • Eddie Redmayne very obviously had fun with his character, given the fact it’s one of the few times he’s played a non-Adorkable character. Many reviews said that his performance as the Ham and Cheese villain Balem was the best part of the film.
  • Wired is harshly criticized for its reductive and inaccurate portrayal of John Belushi, ignoring his comedic talents and famously generous personality in favor of portraying him as a depraved drug addict, its heavyhanded attitude towards his addictions, its moments of tasteless and inappropriate comedy and the poor casting of important supporting players like Dan Aykroyd who was so insulted by its portrayal of his friend he refused to work with people involved in the project. However, many people, including Brad Jones, have given considerable praise to Michael Chiklis, saying that he nails Belushi's manic energy and comedic skill. Many have lamented that he didn't have a better film to work with.
  • In-universe, Tugg Speedman and Kirk Lazarus are very clearly trying their best with the film in Tropic Thunder, despite the disastrous production and none-too-great script. Lazarus does the better job of the two; similar to Daniel Day-Lewis, he insists on inhabiting his character fully "'til I'm doing a DVD commentary," but Speedman's career is in dire straits and he therefore gives it his all. Speedman also put a lot of work into the commercial and critical bomb Simple Jack, and is still fairly proud of his performance - in fact, Lazarus claims he did too good of a job in that film, and ended up an uncomfortably realistic portrayal of a mentally-disabled person when he should have shot for the more crowd-pleasing Inspirationally Disabled.
    • Kevin Sandusky is another one (though a very different take), as while Speedman and Lazarus seem to mostly be hamming it up, he's the one who actually read the whole script and even attended boot camp. He's pretty much the only actor to be playing his role fairly straight.
  • Richard Burton, on many of the lesser films that marked his later career (Cleopatra, Boom!, Exorcist II: The Heretic) somehow managed to combine this with Ham and Cheese; he was obviously taking his role terribly seriously and yet comes off as overacting all on his own rather than in comparison to the rest of the cast.
  • Following in the footsteps of Star Trek's extensive listing on this page, Galaxy Quest has Sir Alexander Dane, a Classically Trained Extra who played the token Rubber-Forehead Alien. He had nothing but disdain for the role of Doctor Lazarus and the show as a whole, but still seems to have treated it with the professionalism of a Shakespearian actor, and continually chastises his fellow actors over the course of the film for not having taken their jobs seriously.
    • Tommy, who played a Wesley Crusher-esque Tagalong Kid, seems to have been even more passionate with his role, coming up with a consistent method for "piloting" the ship (that is, to say, messing with the control pad). He was so good at it across the series that the Thermians were able to turn it into a functional set of controls—despite, you know, being the Tagalong Kid in a cheesy sci-fi show. This was based on actual accounts by many Trek actors whose job was to deliver their Mandatory Line and mess with a fake control pad, developing directions and "languages" for something the majority of viewers would never notice.
  • Wagons East, a twelfth-rate Blazing Saddles knockoff with a rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, also boasts a surprisingly solid performance by John Candy, who manages to salvage the utterly dreadful material he's handed in the handful of scenes he's in (Candy died during filming). Unfortunately, his presence only serves to make the film's attempts to stretch that handful of scenes through lavish Fake Shemping all the more ghoulish.
  • Universal Soldier: The Return: Michael Jai White as the primary villain SETH gives a genuinely earnest performance without going overboard (along with Van Damme, but he has Dull Surprise in literally everything he's ever done). By contrast, professional wrestler Bill Goldberg, who plays the secondary villain, is Chewing the Scenery the entire time.note 
  • Poppy Drayton in The Little Mermaid (2018). Even the reviewers that trashed the film have nothing but praise for her charming emotional performance as Elizabeth. More importantly, she demonstrated a beautiful singing voice. In fact the "When This Story Ends" sequence is starting to become more popular than the movie itself.
  • Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom was an inversion. Actress Hélène Surgère said that the mood on the set was actually rather jovial. The presence of teenagers, many of whom had never acted before, resulted in a lighthearted production process, including cast members playing practical jokes on each other. She added that the film was truly made in the editing room and that the filmmakers didn't realize how grim the film really was until it was completed.
  • While most critics have bashed Hellboy (2019) as a whole, even those who disliked it have admitted that it's not because of David Harbour, who does his damnedest to save the movie from itself despite the immense pressure of having to follow up Ron Perlman's beloved performance.
  • Pam Grier invoked this regarding her Girls Behind Bars films:
    "They were my sounding board, where I really learned filmmaking. I was working for Roger Corman...and making $500 a day. I was green; I was hungry. These were my first roles so I made them as close to Shakespeare as possible. That's how I approached it and it got me work. The characters stood out. I got recognized."
  • This is a big part of what makes Night of the Lepus so godawful and hilarious. It’s a grim, serious horror movie about giant killer bunnies, but the cast, including people like DeForest Kelley and Janet Leigh, treat it all with absolute conviction, like they’re talking about nuclear weapons and not the Killer Rabbit Of Caerbannog. This extends to the rest of the film crew; the movie is an adaptation of The Year Of The Angry Rabbit, a parody novel by Russell Braddon, but the studio played it completely seriously, apparently not understanding that it was supposed to be a comedic satire.
  • The Mummy (2017) was destroyed by both critics and audiences, being seen as a prime example of how to not set up a cinematic universe and is viewed as one of the worst films of The New '10s. However, two actors in the film are generally seen as having actually tried to give good performances in it—namely, Tom Cruise in the lead role (who is more just given nothing to really work with, despite Cruise having meddled a fair bit with the story) and Sofia Boutella as Princess Amaneht (a.k.a. the titular Mummy), who despite being terribly written, still manages to steal every scene she's in. It made the decision to kill Boutella's character off and give Cruise the mummy powers (presumably for a Sequel Hook) all the more baffling.
  • The live-action Scooby-Doo movie is more along the lines of being extremely divisive rather than straight-up bad, due to the mixed feelings regarding the questionable characterization of the Mystery Inc. gang, crude jokes, and making fun of many of the franchise's beloved elements. The 2004 sequel is more closer to the cartoon but still garnered mixed reception from fans (while also receiving worse reception from critics). However, even detractors of both films will still argue that Matthew Lillard did an amazing job playing Shaggy, being able to perfectly capture his appearance, personality, and even his voice. So much that, when Shaggy's original voice actor, Casey Kasem, retired, Lillard was chosen as his official replacement.
  • Cats was widely viewed as a flaming train wreck of a film, ruining a classic musical with nightmarishly bad special effects that embodied the Uncanny Valley, bizarre writing and directing, and ludicrous amounts of Fetish Retardant. Despite all of this, the All-Star Cast — including people like Judi Dench and Ian McKellen — is clearly giving their all, acting their hearts out as if it's the greatest role of their lives. Jason Derulo infamously took it so seriously that he hurled venom at critics who gave the movie negative reviews, ranting that it was one of the greatest pieces of art ever made. General agreement is that it all does nothing but make the movie even more embarrassing and hilarious than it would've been otherwise.
  • The Man with the Golden Gun boasts campy plotting, absurd setpieces, and some pretty noxious gender politics even by James Bond standards. But Christopher Lee, making yet another showing on this page, plays the absolute hell out of the film's villain Scaramanga, showing off so much style and charisma that he entirely sells the character as The Most Dangerous Man Alive and steals every scene he's in. It says quite a lot of Lee's performance that while the film itself is considered one of the worst Bond films, its title character tends to be regarded as one of the franchise's best villains.
  • Olivia Hussey in her autobiography talks about starring in the Ozploitation film Turkey Shoot - and when she met with the cast and crew, she saw the lead actor Steve Railsback had left "meticulous notes" all over the script and after the director talked about how he hoped it would become a Cult Classic she began to wonder if she'd received the same script.
    "We found Steve, who had started work the week before, suspended six feet above the ground, locked inside a cage and wearing an ill-fitting yellow jumpsuit. He looked concerned. The first thing he said to me was 'You knew all along what kind of movie this was going to be Olivia, didn't you?' I burst out laughing."
  • The entire cast of the musical remake of Lost Horizon put so much effort into their song and dance training, not realising that the finished product would be a fountain of Narm and go down as one of the most enjoyably bad movies ever made.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey has Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, who not only have some seriously compelling screen chemistry, but do absolutely everything they can with what they're given and, particularly in the first film, manage to elevate the material beyond expectations. Unfortunately, the departure of competent director Sam Taylor-Johnson makes this far less feasible for the sequels. There is also Marcia Gay Harden, who, as is usual with everything she does, makes every scene she is in automatically better.
  • Last Christmas is an example of a film that is undeniably corny being saved from being downright bad because the actors took it seriously. Is big twist easy to figure out? Yes. Is it goofy? Sometimes. Is it overly-sentimental and cheesy? Unashamedly so. But no one among its All-Star Cast is phoning it in, and all play their characters completely sincerely and earnestly, so the film is mostly viewed as "nice, feel-good holiday entertainment" at best, and "Narm Charm" at worst. The scene where the aforementioned Reveal happens, and Kate finds out Tom has been Dead All Along is a prime example of this. Everyone and their mother guessed this twist — from the marketing alone! — and given the context of the story, it should've been ridiculous. But many people have admitted to getting teary-eyed during that scene, because when Emilia Clarke decides you are going to cry, you are damn well going to cry!
  • The Phantom of the Opera (2004) is generally seen as a clumsy adaptation at best, and the performances (particularly the hilariously miscast leads) are a big part of that. But one actor who tends to escape these accusations is Patrick Wilson's Raoul, who is both a decent singer and a suitably charismatic figure to counterbalance (if not even exceed) the Phantom. This one sticks out particularly because Raoul is normally one of the least popular characters, being seen as a generic "dashing leading man" who frequently veers into flat-out unlikable, making the idea of a genuinely well-liked and charismatic Raoul even more of a shocker.
  • Alan Silvestri is another composer known for making great music no matter how good or bad the movie he's working on is. His work on Mac and Me is so incredible to listen to that it caused Crow T. Robot to exclaim "I wanna see the movie this guy thought he was composing for!".
  • Black Christmas (2019) was quickly destroyed by critics and audiences alike for its laughably bad and anvilicious writing, more akin to a college lecture than a horror movie. In a cast full of unlikable and insufferable protagonists, Imogen Poots puts in a lot of effort and makes Riley come across as an actual person.
  • Most critics lambasted Run Hide Fight as a tasteless Exploitation Film cashing in on the school shootings of the 2010s, but even the most negative reviews stopped short of criticizing the cast, with many singling out lead actress Isabel May for making the heroine Zoe a convincing Action Girl. David Ehrlich of Indiewire, who otherwise gave the film one of its most scathing reviews, said that she was worthy of better roles and a better agent.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Friends:
    • In-universe, Gary Oldman's character, the one that was in Joey's overbudget (and nonexistent budget) World War I epic.
    • Also in-universe, Jeff Goldblum plays an award-winning actor who takes a strange amount of pride in some obnoxious cellphone commercials he appeared in.
      Leonard Hayes: Are you making fun of me? Because I am not a sell-out! I didn't do that for the money - I believe in those phones! I almost lost a cousin because of bad wireless service!
    • Additionally, in a first season episode, Joey was supposed to play Al Pacino's butt but was fired for acting too much.
    • There's also the episode where Joey was going to work in a film with the basic "driver meets a hitchhiker, gives her a ride, she disappears, then he's told that she was Dead All Along" as its whole plot, which he insists will be his big break.
      Chandler: It doesn't even sound like a real movie!
  • Robert Reed of The Brady Bunch did this as long as he could, before finally snapping and firing off an angry memo to producer Sherwood Schwartz when the show finally became too silly for him.
    • Reed refused to appear in the final episode of the fifth season and wound up being fired because everyone else involved was simply tired of dealing with him. The series' cancellation a few months later meant that they never had to find a replacement.
  • The entire cast of Robin Hood in the third season, bless them. What had been a silly, campy show for its first two seasons (and which somehow managed to pull it off, thanks to the dignity of the actors) was now asking to be taken deadly seriously...whilst still including ridiculous scenarios such as a lion so old that it couldn't even walk in a straight line and Robin hang-gliding from the castle parapets. In fact, Allan-a-Dale's WTF reaction to the hang-gliding is clearly the moment when the actor decided he was quitting.
  • In the DVD Commentary for the Farscape episode "Jeremiah Crichton" (subtitled "When Bad Things Happen to Good Shows"), the four people commenting (two actors and two producers(?)) generally agree that too many people involved took an ultimately goofy episode too seriously, which contributed to its epic badness.
  • The Star Wars Holiday Special: Bea Arthur and Art Carney. They may not have belonged in a Star Wars related work but they were the only ones turning in nuanced and engaging performances (Arthur more so than Carney as Carney was expected to do schtick to fill long stretches of the special.) That was probably because Bea Arthur had no clue she was doing the Holiday Special. Several times afterward, she said she had no clue she was doing anything related to Star Wars, and just thought she was singing to people with funny looking heads. She probably just did what any professional would do, give it her best effort, and didn't realize it would become what it was.
  • Tina Louise, who played Ginger, on Gilligan's Island. Not by the standards of any other show, mind you, but she's still downright kosher compared to her castmates. This may be part of the reason that she became so resentful of it in her later years.
  • Francia Raisa on The Secret Life of the American Teenager especially after her character Adrian loses her baby. Her more dramatic scenes are quite jarring compared to everything else on the show.
  • Patrick Stewart personifies this trope so completely that it's been called his greatest strength as an actor: he can deliver bad dialogue with utter conviction. Sometimes this allows him to elevate the material above what it could have been otherwise, but not always. Said to be one of the main reasons he was asked to voice Deputy Director Bullock, was that Seth MacFarlane could put any string of words together in front of Stewart and he would read them with straight conviction. Probably the same reason he narrated Ted.
  • Even during the weakest seasons and episodes of 24, Kiefer Sutherland was constantly praised for delivering great performances and making Jack Bauer a sympathetic, well-rounded character (no mean feat, considering that Jack is a Memetic Badass Torture Technician).
    Ken Tucker: [reviewing the series finale] Lead actors in good TV dramas have to pace themselves, knowing that a season has a shape and that it’s a smart idea to avoid keeping the same tone or intensity hour after hour. But the very nature of 24 didn’t give Sutherland that artistic option... [he] probably portrayed intensity with more shades and variations than any TV actor. He rarely went overboard; he never succumbed to melodrama. The plots around him may have, but not Jack.
    • Similar comments were directed at Cherry Jones for her consistently brilliant performance as President Allison Taylor during seasons 7 and 8. This is unsurprising when you learn that Ms Jones is more or less considered the Meryl Streep of the American Broadwaynote  stage.
  • Lorne Greene in Galactica 1980. As one of the few members of the main cast that came back at all, and the only one who agreed to still BE in the main cast, armed with a genial new Santa beard, he tries hard to convince the audience they're still watching the same show, but...
  • Neil Hamilton really didn't have much fun portraying Commissioner Gordon on the 1966-1968 Batman (1966) TV series, primarily because of this trope. He believed that the pseudo-serious performances actually were supposed to be serious, and he would get angry when other cast members were caught snickering at the inanity of the dialogue between takes, believing they were being disrespectful. Even so, Adam West has admitted that Hamilton was one of the most accomplished actors on that show.
  • Lecy Goranson's too-serious Becky Conner in Roseanne. It was okay at first when the sitcom was a good show that slightly resembled the real world, she seemed more and more out of place when the show became super cheesy and kitsch during its final moments, leaving Lecy to be the only real thing left in the show.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Tomb of the Cybermen", despite its Nightmare Fuel visual setpieces and Gothic Horror vibe, has a nonsensical Idiot Plot, leaves Jamie and Victoria standing around with nothing to do for most of the plot, and is incredibly racist even by 1967 standards, and the under-rehearsed cast veers between Large Ham and Dull Surprise. It's also the episode where Matt Smith fell head-over-heels in love with Patrick Troughton's masterful performance and called up Steven Moffat to gush about how brilliant it was, insisting on using that version of the character as the basis of his own take on it. The scene where the Doctor gives a speech to Victoria about how 'no-one else in the universe can do what we're doing' is performed beautifully by him despite being a last-minute Padding scene added when the episode underran and is one of the Second Doctor's best scenes because of it.
    • Even Patrick Troughton doesn't bother putting in much of an effort in atrocious, fascist nonsense "The Dominators" (the second least-popular Troughton story), but Ronald Allen as Navigator Rago, in a giant foam collar and eyeliner, plays his part with such Creepy Monotone conviction he almost saves it.
    • In "The Space Pirates" — a story voted the least popular Troughton story in the 2014 DWM poll, a story rushed out during a period of Troubled Production when the show was almost canceled, and a story where the Doctor is mostly playing Pinball Protagonist and has very little screentime while various more dynamic guest characters carry the plot — Troughton's performance of the scene where he realizes he's made a mistake and has trapped himself and his companions on board a fragment of space debris with rapidly depleting oxygen and hundreds of miles of open space between it and the TARDIS is absolutely heartwrenching, and a rare example of the Second Doctor ever being completely serious.
    • "The Ark in Space". Faced with glaringly bright sets, a new Doctor who, while good, hadn't quite found his feet in the role yet, a very plastic alien and a Body Horror Virus made out of packaging material, Kenton Moore as Noah plays his role so passionately and convincingly that he turns a cliffhanger of him taking his hand out of his pocket to reveal it's wrapped in green bubble wrap from Narm to the sofa-chewing Nightmare Fuel of a man enduring a slow and excruciating transformation into a creeping wasp monster. Tom Baker's performance of a Patrick Stewart Speech in the first episode is also very strong and does a lot to show what the then-new Doctor can do.
    • "The Power of Kroll", a story with lots of Special Effect Failure written by a burned-out writer who hated working on it so much that he ended his association with the show for six years afterward, casts Philip Madoc in a minor role as the character Fenner. Madoc thought he was getting cast as the Big Bad Thawn, which would have suited him better, and was so outraged with his minor role that he also ended his association with the show. Not that this stops him giving his all — he has clearly decided he's going to do the best damn thing in the story despite what boring part they put him in, and plays him with a charisma and repressed, seething anger that's bizarre to see coming from a generic Doctor Who Mook Lieutenant Bit Character.
    • Even though "Meglos" is usually considered a boring fluff piece with tone problems due to a Genre Shift mid-development, Tom Baker actually does some of the best acting of his whole tenure in it, and in a season often criticised for Baker's lack of enthusiasm to boot. This is probably because he has something interesting to do — he has to play the Doctor, the Doctor's Criminal Doppelgänger Evil Twin, and each one pretending to be the other — so Baker had more room to show off range and subtlety than he usually got. (The fact that he'd spent the last few seasons mugging for the sake of it makes this even more striking.) In the review book About Time, Tat Wood observes that Baker "is having fun finding ways of suggesting he's a mad cactus". Jacqueline Hill, who played the companion Barbara Wright back in the First Doctor days, also returns here playing a completely unrelated character and imbues her with infinitely more dignity and interiority than the script gave her.
    • One of the more common opinions about the TV movie in the fandom is that, while the movie is generally cheesy and nonsensical, Paul McGann gives a charming and believable performance as the Eighth Doctor which is about the only thing worth watching in it. Sylvester McCoy also delivers a likable and moving performance despite being in a film that, according to him, shouldn't even have had him in it. His last scene before he regenerates, as he is on the operating table trying to tell the medics he's an alien and they're killing him, shows some of his best acting, from an actor who before this was largely known for vaudeville.
    • The Monks Trilogy three-parter midway through Series 10 of the revival started well with "Extremis" before succumbing to first Idiot Plot in "The Pyramid at the End of the World" and then a brutal case of both They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot and Third Act Stupidity in "The Lie of the Land". But praise was virtually unanimous for Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Pearl Mackie (Bill), Michelle Gomez (Missy), and Matt Lucas (Nardole) for wringing real thrills, chills, laughs, and heartache from the half-baked scripts. The standoff between a desperate Bill and the Doctor, who has become a coldheartedly pragmatic Propaganda Machine for the aliens who have enslaved her kind, on a prison ship in "Lie of the Land" is a brilliant showcase for their actors even as it ends with the reveal that the Doctor is faking his villainy — and a regeneration — to test her, after she passes by shooting him with a gun that was really full of blanks.
  • In Comrades of Summer, the first Soviet Olympic baseball team play an exhibition game against the world-champion New York Yankees. Russia had no tradition of baseball, and their team was made up of athletes drafted from other sports (hockey, track, tennis, swimming, and so on); they had only one "real" baseball player, and he learned the game playing little league while living in the US with his ambassador father. Going into the game against the Yankees, everyone but the Russians knew that the game was going to be a crushing defeat for the Russians. Except no one told the Russians, who went in and played their hearts out. As a result, while the Yankees still won the game, they held the world champion New York Yankees to only a one-run lead.
  • It would seem that every version of Star Trek has somebody who does this.
    • Star Trek's DeForest Kelley was well-known for giving every single episode his all, even if he and everyone else on set knew it was a turkey. Best shown in "Spock's Brain", where he's displaying profound conviction even though nobody else in the series was able to see a script where space bimbos steal, well, Spock's brain and react without sniggering.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation greatly benefitted from Patrick Stewart, especially in the early years, with his well-known talent for delivering even bad dialogue with utter conviction.
    • Variation in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: instead of an actor, it was the director, Alexander Siddig, who did this in the notoriously bad "Profit and Lace", viewing an admittedly bad farce as instead a dramatic piece. As a result, even the bits that could have worked ended up not working.
    • Star Trek: Voyager isn't so much a bad series as it is a very polarizing one, but it is a case where the technical achievements of the show overwhelmed the story. That didn't stop Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway) from throwing every bit of talent she had into the stories, even as she grew increasingly frustrated about Janeway's inconsistent characterization. Most of the other cast members did this too, putting in great performances even in the show's weakest episodes — see, for instance, Robert Duncan McNeill acting the crap out of his scenes in the legendarily terrible "Threshold" (the effects/makeup team also provided a non-acting example in that episode, creating genuinely great makeup for the sequences where Paris is slowly turning into a lizard after traveling at infinite speed. Seriously). The major exception is Robert Beltran, who, by his own admission, loathed the series and his role, and was on "not giving a shit" mode in almost every episode.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise:
      • Dominic Keating put a lot of effort into fleshing out the character of Malcolm Reed, viewing him as a lonely man who disproportionately magnifies the few emotional connections he's able to make, only to spend most of the first two seasons as "that stuffy British guy who gets Worfed all the time".
      • Jolene Blalock was a self-described Trekkie and studied Leonard Nimoy's performances as Spock and learned Vulcan to play T'Pol, even though as Ms. Fanservice was stuffed into a ridiculous catsuit and often put into situations where she was stripped of it.
  • Many reviews of the short-lived GSN game show How Much Is Enough?, which was literally 30 minutes of contestants hitting buttons to stop a money clock, noted that the show's only saving grace was Corbin Bernsen's charismatic hosting.
  • By their own admission, neither Robert Vaughn nor David McCallum had much emotional investment in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. towards the end of its run... and it shows. Fortunately, not everyone who appeared during the final season shared this approach — witness guest star Leslie Nielsen in the two-part Series Finale "The Seven Wonders Of The World Affair" as a renegade general involved in a plan to use a docility gas on the world's population and take over. Thanks to his committed turn, you actually feel sympathy for him when he gets trapped in the gas-emitting device and goes from a power-hungry military man to a quiet individual who won't do anything, including come out of the device, unless someone tells him to do it.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Even though a large section of the fandom were very unhappy about the Adaptational Villainy of Stannis Baratheon, Stephen Dillane is widely considered one of the best actors. The scene where he burns his daughter Shireen, even if not in the books and one of the most controversial moments in the show, is brilliant to watch because of Stephen's acting. Even though the next episode has him getting killed in an incredibly ignominious fashion that has many of his fans practically foaming at the mouth his acting sells the scenes and makes him Unintentionally Sympathetic despite the writer's intentions.
    • You felt really bad for Alexander Siddig on how his character, Prince Doran Martell was used in the widely despised Dorne arc in Season 5 and 6 as his acting and lines are one of the good things compared to the Sand Snakes' awful acting and the Idiot Plot surrounding this storyline.
    • General reception of Talisa Maegyr was that the character wasn't written that well, but Oona Chaplin did a very good job with what she was given. And Talisa's shocking death managed to move even her many haters.
    • Ellaria was originally a fan favorite when she showed up and became The Scrappy only because of the atrociously written arc she was put through in Season 5. Still, if Indira Varma doesn't try her hardest.
    • The last half of Season 8 took very little time to be labeled the worst part of the series's run, for its contrived plotting, baffling developments, and character assassination. But Emilia Clarke largely repeated Stephen Dillane's feat, managing to sell Daenerys' utter grief and shock at the multiple Diabolus ex Machina thrust upon her and making her twist far more sympathetic than was probably intended. Especially impressive, considering she had to deliver a lot of her dialogue and pivotal scenes while sitting on a lime-green lump that'd be turned into a dragon in post.
    • Even Pilou Asbæk was apparently disappointed by Euron's Adaptational Personality Change and Adaptational Wimp status, going from a terrifying mage-pirate to an annoying Jack Sparrow knockoff with decidedly inconsistent motivations and wildly varying skill levels. Nonetheless, he still put enough effort into the performance to end up rewriting Euron's final moments to be more in-character.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • The only thing that saves Rumpelstiltskin is Robert Carlyle's performance. Despite the inexplicable Face–Heel Revolving Door, Carlyle makes the character so wonderfully evil (and yet Woobie-ish at the same time) that he comes close to salvaging it.
    • Season 5 was noted to be a huge case of Seasonal Rot, with the only thing keeping the show together being Lana Parrilla's charisma as Regina.
    • Earlier Season 2 entered a massive Kudzu Plot that was made watchable by Barbara Hershey's performance making Cora a Magnificent Bitch. When they killed her off, the rest of the season flopped.
  • Downton Abbey suffered Seasonal Rot from the third season onwards — with characters changing motivations, plots becoming ridiculously melodramatic and Character Development becoming non-existent. Yet the cast continued to shine with whatever they were given — the likes of Maggie Smith and Joanne Froggatt being nominated for several awards (and Smith winning many of them).
  • It's pretty obvious that Tracy Spiridakos is trying hard - perhaps a bit too hard - to inject some sort of life into her character on Revolution, but the writing makes her out to be a whiny, incompetent Jerkass with a penchant for getting captured and starting brawls.
  • Happens In-Universe in Garth Marenghis Darkplace: the cast of the titular Show Within a Show are mostly non-actors doing a terrible job, either sleepwalking through their lines or hamming it up. The guy playing the Temp, however, is an actual actor who's clearly doing what he can with the stilted material he's been given. Naturally, all he accomplishes is showing just how awful the other actors are, especially the arrogant head writer/star, who quickly kills him off.
  • The actors involved in Inhumans created an entire sign language for Anson Mount's mute character. In any show other than the dramatic nadir of the MCU, this would be impressive; as it stands, it's just kinda sad.
    • Many people have also praised Iwan Rheon's performance as Maximus, saying he was a fantastic choice for the role and did the best he could with what he had. Many have said that, due to his performance and the way his characters was written, the show would have been considerably better if it had focused on Maximus and made him the hero and made the Inhuman Royal Family the villains.
  • In Search of... was widely criticized in its day for many of the same reasons that Ancient Aliens is today, engaging in copious amounts of absurd conjecture and holding up any and all random explanations as equally valid, legitimate answers. Nevertheless, Leonard Nimoy, never one to half-ass anything, takes his role as the host very seriously and delivers a completely serious and compelling narration that never gives way no matter how bizarre or implausible the things he's describing get, making the series a joy to watch in spite of its abundant flaws.
  • Merlin (2008):
    • Depending on the Writer the show's writing ranged from tolerable to downright atrocious (Status Quo Is God, Idiot Plots everywhere, negative continuity). But it's agreed that the show managed to endure precisely from the effort of the actors involved. Arthur and Gwen's terribly written 'romance' was in fact pulled off by the talents of Bradley James and Angel Coulby.
    • Emilia Fox's unbridled charisma as Morgause made her the favorite villain on the show, even if her plots in Season 3 became increasingly convoluted. Doubly impressive considering she was several months pregnant at the time.
  • Schitt's Creek: In-Universe, Moira Rose is cast as Dr. Beatrice Mandrake in The Crows Have Eyes III: The Crowening and takes it very seriously, even going so far as to rewrite her dialogue and making up a middle name for her character. Rather than ridicule her for it, the show portrays this as an admirable trait since Moira is aware that this is likely the best she can do as an actress so she intends to do it well.
  • Even at The Vampire Diaries' lowest points, Nina Dobrev received a great deal of praise for her complex, multi-layered portrayal of Elena and her various doppelgangers.
  • Mr Selfridge suffered from soap-opera-ish writing, ham-handed plotlines, and sometimes quite frankly inane dialogue... which didn't keep the immensely talented cast from giving the show absolutely everything they had anyway, with the likes of Jeremy Piven, Katherine Kelly, Amanda Abbington, Aisling Loftus, Gregory Fitoussi, Frances O'Connor, Kara Tointon, Samuel West, and Amy Beth Hayes somehow elevating mediocre-at-best writing into truly touching and dramatic performances.
  • I Shouldn't Be Alive is a series of survival stories compiled from the testimony of the survivors - coupled with "Dramatic re-enactments" of lookalike actors. Most series with "Dramatic Re-enactments" are not known for the quality of their acting - often coming off as unintentionally hilarious or melodramatic. However, this series in particular manages to shine out when the actors give genuinely shocking, heart-wrenching, or depressing performances. What's extra impressive is the fact that these aren't professional actors - they were literally cast because they look like the survivors (and the deceased).
  • A documentary based upon the French Revolution featured some of these "Dramatic re-enactments", but the actress who played Madame Du Barry manages to give a very chilling performance of her trying to escape and screaming.
  • Saturday Night Live: In one sketch during the 2019 episode with Emma Stone as host, she played an actress who does this with her bit part on a gay porn shoot. Her "role" is simply being the wife who's cheated on by her husband with her godson, appearing only briefly twice (to leave, then come back and catch them together). However, she goes all out trying to connect with her character, imagining her entire backstory and is moved to tears at the end (though the director doesn't care at all, her fellow actors are impressed).

  • Soul music great James Carr sang the Narmy lyrics of "A Man Needs a Woman" with the same sincerity and conviction as his other songs. The lyrics go from "Just like a vampire needs blood/Like a dead dog need them bugs" to the utterly hilarious "I need a little love/Like the soldier needs a gun/Like a hamburger needs a bun".
  • Songs in the Sonic the Hedgehog series are known to have cheesy lyrics, but Johnny Gioeli from Crush 40 sure knows how to take the cheesiest of lyrics and make them sound sincere and epic.
  • Nina Gordon (of Veruca Salt fame) had trouble producing what was intended to be her second solo album in 2005, and in lieu of that, she started performing Narm-filled cover versions of songs that were outside her genre while at a Los Angeles nightclub. One of these, a cover of N.W.A.'s "Straight Outta Compton" is performed as a "coffeehouse" version that's just as serious and melodic as her previous works, with lines like "My AK-47 is a tool, don't make me act like a motherfucking fool" played entirely straight.
  • Richard Harris manages to sing the ridiculous lyrics of MacArthur Park with sincere passion and conviction. The result is one of the most infamous Narm performances in music. Many fans of it today adore it as Narm Charm.
    • One documentary says that Harris picked the song especially because Jimmy Webb told him it was ridiculous, implying that Harris sang it all that way knowing how narmish it would be but loving every minute of it.
    • Waylon Jennings did a Country Music Cover Version a year later and similarly treats the lyrics seriously, but goes the opposite direction of Harris and sings it with a tone of subdued anguish over lost love. It helps that he skips the overly-florid first verse and starts with the more reflective and evocative second verse.
  • Before she went into acting Sissy Spacek tried a music career, and in 1969 was talked into recording a song meant to cash in on the John and Yoko Two Virgins controversy, called "John, You Went Too Far This Time", credited under the name Rainbo. The song itself is pretty hokey, with lots of lyrical and musical references to The Beatles (mostly Paul songs, ironically). But her impassioned vocal and the elaborate arrangement make it oddly compelling.
  • Reportedly Leiber and Stoller wrote "Jailhouse Rock" as deliberately silly, tongue-in-cheek narrative goof in terms of lyrics. Elvis Presley, however, took it and performed it as straightforward rock and roll, missed all the deliberate humor and innuendo in the lyrics, and gave the soloist an intro cry so intense the take nearly broke down.
  • Watch the 'Making Of' video for the infamously bad Coming Out Of Their Shells concert tour. Assuming it's not meant as a joke, it's almost disturbing to watch grown men and women talk about a cheaply made kids' musical with terrible costumes as if it's the second coming of the Beatles.
  • Just about any film composer you can name has this in their job description.
  • For the Live Aid concert in 1985, most artists went into it out of touring shape and saw it as more about expressing solidarity with the cause than putting on a good performance. Queen, fresh off of a world tour, put on what has been described as "The Greatest Twenty Minutes in Rock."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Professional Wrestling gimmicks are so known for this that fans have to suspend their disbelief. During the decline of WCW, many found it difficult because the writing was so bad (covered in the book The Death Of WCW).
  • Chris Jericho stated in his interview on The Broken Skull Sessions that this is what he aims for. No matter what kind of match he's booked in- a 30-second squash or a twenty-plus minute epic- Jericho's aim is to always be memorable.
  • Dolph Ziggler is known for this. No matter how cheesy an angle or low on the card he is, he manages to put out believable promos
  • Edge, whether it was a ridiculous feud with Kane where he pelted Paul Bearer with dodgeballs or arguing with a laptop, put everything into each feud he had.
  • Diva Dirt noted that though the 2010 'feud' between LayCool and Kelly Kelly was moronic in concept - Michelle and Layla making fun of Kelly for smelling bad and calling her 'smelly Kelly' - the three women put as much effort into it as they could. After Kelly's title match against Layla - her first Women's title shot in fact - they remarked: "she came out of it looking like a top Diva."
  • Emma's gimmick was thought of as a joke when she debuted. She was a bad dancer who thought she was good. Fans embraced the idea and the dance suddenly got over, which was helped due to Emma's genuine talent as a wrestler.
  • While working as The Shark of the Dungeon of Doom in WCW in 1996, John Tenta sat for a 24-hour process to have his LSU Tigers tattoo turned into a shark. Not long after that, he stopped doing the gimmick.
  • Sid Vicious, so, so much.
    • During Ric Flair's "A Flair For The Gold" on WCW Clash of the Champions 24, August 8, 1993, Sting, Davey Boy Smith and Dustin Rhodes were there to introduce the fourth man for their team against The Masters of the Powerbomb (Big Van Vader and Sid Vicious) and Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray) in War Games at WCW Fall Brawl 93 on September 19th. Sting announced that their partner would be The Shockmaster. Some pyrotechnics went off, and The Shockmaster started to walk through a wall, and tripped and fell on the floor. His helmet came off, revealing himself to be Fred "Tugboat"/"Typhoon" Ottman. While everyone else was laughing, Sid still acted scared.
    • On the November 15, 1999 WCW Monday Nitro, Kevin Nash was imitating Sid in the ring. Sid came out and cut a promo which included him saying, "You are half the man that I am, and I have half the brain that you do." Despite Sid's history of botching his promos, this one was not his fault, as professional moron Vince Russo actually wrote it that way and Sid took it and did the best job he could with something that was completely moronic.
  • At Extreme Rules 2014, Hornswoggle teamed up with jobber stable 3MB to take on El Torito (a mini wrestler in a bull costume) and Los Matadores on the preshow in a "WeeLC Match" where the ring announcer, referee and even the commentators (Micro Cole, Jerry Smaller and JBElf) were played by little people. Despite this uninspiring idea, the performers involved decided to put their heads together to come up with the best WeeLC match they could. What should have been a lame, farcical waste of everyone's time actually turned out to be a genuinely entertaining comedy match with some really good ring work from the two mini wrestlers and the supporting players bumping like mad to get it over (including Hornswoggle smacking Heath Slater in the stomach with a steel chair and sending him backwards off the ring through two tables, and a horrific spot where El Torito and Los Matadores gave Jinder a Doomsday Device off the ring apron through two tables and two ladders!). The crowd even gave them a "This is awesome!" chant after Hornswoggle gave El Torito an elbow off the ring through the mini-announcers' table. When 3MB and Hornswoggle reunited to rewatch the match in 2018 they were genuinely proud of what they'd accomplished with such a stupid concept.

  • As many prospects or fringe players often don't get much playing time except in "garbage minutes" (i.e., after a game is so lopsided the result is beyond doubt), they will often put in a top effort even when the rest of the team has checked out. For instance, it is not uncommon to see a backup goaltender in hockey play exceptionally well after the starter has been pulled and the game has become a blowout. Of course, it's a Justified Trope in this case, as a good showing after the starter's been pulled may result in a new starter being chosen.
  • The captains of bad teams tend to do this, especially if they're also the leading scorer. A few historical examples:
    • Barry Sanders, of American Football's hapless 1990s Detroit Lions, was the workhorse and only good thing on a team that roundly sucked. He managed to be one of football's top running backs despite being on a team considered lucky to ever post a winning season, let alone get a playoff berth. He eventually grew so frustrated that he quit football instead of persisting in this exercise in futility.
    • Walter Johnson, star pitcher for Baseball's Washington Senators from 1907 to 1927, was widely recognized as one of the great pitchers of his era, with a then-thundering 91-mph fastball that struck out large numbers of the greatest batters in the American League. However, Johnson, being a pitcher, couldn't be in every game, and even when he was, the Senators sometimes failed to produce enough runs to win. His Senators only ever went to the World Series twice: in 1924, when they won, and 1925, when they lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Otherwise, being a Senators fan was better known as "an exercise in futility" for his entire tenure.
    • Also from baseball, the late 1990s-early 2000s San Francisco Giants could never...quite...get...enough...wins to make it all the way—despite Barry Bonds' massive exertions. As one Bay Area sportswriter put it, Bonds was one of several "compensations" for never having a World Series (along with Bonds' father Bobby and godfather Willie Mays)...until the Giants won in 2010, three years after Bonds retired.
    • Mike Trout is one of the definitive modern cases of this. Those fond of the Game of Nerds have noted Trout's Wins-Above-Replacement to be among the best of his generation, despite him being on a team that has failed to win a playoff game even once during his lengthy tenure with them and frequently posts losing seasons.
  • December 23, 1982: the top-ranked team in college basketball, the University of Virginia Cavaliers, had just played in a tournament in Japan and on the way back home scheduled a game in Hawaii against the Silverswords of Chaminade University (which had a total enrollment of around 800 at the time). The game was supposed to be an easy win for Virginia after spending the day hanging out on the beach. Chaminade was supposed to be in awe of their guests and happy to just have the chance to be on the same court as national Player of The Year Ralph Sampson. But Chaminade had suffered their first loss of the season a few days before, to a team with a losing record, and they were looking for redemption. They came into the game intensely focused, and won 77-72 in what is usually considered the biggest upset in the history of American college basketball.

  • Shakespearean experts like Harold Bloom believe that The Merchant of Venice was a case of this for William Shakespeare. It was only made as a commission from someone else and Shakespeare isn't known to have held any real anti-Semitic beliefs. Yet he still put the same level of effort into it as any of his other plays, doing things like giving the stereotypical Jewish villain a sympathetic backstory. Bloom has noted how this regretfully gave pantomime anti-Semitic caricature a longer life in popular imagination than it really should have had. It's hard to combat stereotypes when they are given depth and good writing by one of the most beloved scribes in history.

    Video Games 
  • The Fight: Lights Out is a near-launch PlayStation Move fighting game that had a very negative reception, mostly due to bad controls, lousy hit detection, and boring gameplay. The highlight of the game is the tutorial which features an FMV of Danny Trejo doing his best "tough-as-nails" act as your trainer. However, he also does this incredibly intense performance while clutching the rather silly-looking Move controllers, and at one point equally intensely warns the player to not move his feet because otherwise, the game breaks. It's so ridiculous it becomes awesome.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic Adventure: The English dub is infamous for its poor acting and narmtastic, poorly translated dialogue, compounded by the weird character animations in cutscenes. Despite this, Knuckles' actor gave many self-reflective monologues on his purpose guarding the Master Emerald. Likewise, while a bit stiff along with the general cast, Tikal's shtick as a mysterious, otherworldly maiden works, most memorably when she's explaining the famous "the servers are the seven Chaos" speech to Tails, and her horror at the end of Sonic's story when her tribe was decimated by Chaos and the shrine's in ruins.
    • Sonic Adventure 2 is remembered fondly for its admittedly somewhat rushed and badly-edited cutscenes, but they work in spite of their problems based off of Rouge and Shadow's good lines, managing to sell the former as a classy, intelligent spy and the latter having many sad, occasionally profound moments. While much of Shadow's later developments are seen as melodramatic and his reputation tanked later on, David Humphrey is considered the first and best portrayal of the character that found a comfortable spot between his angstiness, mysteriousness, and coolness, injecting a playfulness and genuine melancholy that won the character his fans in the first place.
    • Lacey Chabert in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) gave the most emotion to her character in the game. Her performance doesn't stop her storyline from coming across as a Romantic Plot Tumor, and despite how infamously cringeworthy her kiss was with Sonic, her speech imploring him to wake up is surprisingly moving if you can look past the visuals.
  • Joseph Kucan's performance as Kane in Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight was on the same level as his performances in the previous games. Too bad the same thing cannot be said about the game itself.
  • While many people will cite Johnny Yong Bosch's best roles as being Adachi or Narukami, Ichigo Kurosaki, Lelouch, or even Guy (within the Tales Series fandom), it's pretty obvious that he was really really taking the role of Emil Castigner, Ratatosk, and Aster seriously in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. This was a game intended to be a Gaiden Game that failed to get most of its English voice actors back due to more-limited production values and a reduced budget for localisation, resulting in some obvious oddities when characters speak with a different voice, or perhaps even sounding like they're just reading off a script. Even to the end, when Emil no longer sounds as wimpy and no longer goes Large Ham in combat, Bosch gives both of his characters distinctly different voice sounds.
  • The quality of Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) is contentious at best, and the game’s story mode is considered an abysmal Cliché Storm. Yet the voice actors all turn in fantastic performances, managing to make even the weakest dialogue sound halfway decent. Matthew Mercer, in particular, was praised for stealing the show with his performance as Luke Skywalker.
  • Hunt Down the Freeman:
    • One of the more tragic things about the game is how, despite the actual character being abysmally written, Mick Lauer is clearly giving his damnedest in his performance as Sgt. Mitchell, and is valiantly struggling throughout the game's nonsensical plot to add any humanity he can scrounge up to such a thoroughly unlikable character.
    • Additionally, ignoring the infamous "Black Messah" misstep, the G-Man's voice actor "Rick" easily gives the best performance in the entire game, with it being very easy at some points to forget that it actually isn't Mike Shapiro voicing him.
    • Paul Humphrey (the game's main music composer) made some surprisingly memorable music for the game and even tried to give a Mitchell a fittingly melancholic Leitmotif.
  • Postal III is pretty much universally considered the low point of the series, to the point that even the owners of the property regularly issue it Take Thats, and one particularly onerous decision was the recasting of the Postal Dude (which, to be fair, wasn't the fault of the developers). Despite this, most people will admit that Cory Cruise, the replacement voice actor, clearly did the best with the material he was given, and often wish he was in a better game.
  • YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG's main character, Alex, is a thoroughly unlikable jerkass of a character, in a game that is generally seen as very poor quality. However, despite all of this, Chris Niosi gives it everything he has, delivering all the lines with total conviction, and it shows - his voiceacting is almost universally seen as one of the high points of the game.
  • Jurassic Park: Trespasser is widely considered one of the worst video games of all time, with a severe Troubled Production and overly-ambitious physics system rendering it nigh-unplayable without extensive moddding. But there's one point where the game truly shines; the haunting, beautifully-written, and remarkably well-acted narration by the incomparable Richard Attenborough, reprising his role as John Hammond from the films. Many who have played the game consider said narration to be so good it actually justifies playing through the whole buggy mess, and lament that it didn't have a better game to be in.


    Web Original 
  • Ultra Fast Pony: Happens In-Universe in "Stranger than Fan Fiction". The show's usual writers are indisposed, so everyone else just uses a fan's script for the episode. It turns out to be a Self-Insert Fic riddled with mistakes. Most of the cast break character to comment on the script or just phone in their performance. However, Blue Twilight and Spike stay in-character the whole episode, and they're the only ones to really sell their roles (as the villain and the hero's sidekick, respectively).
  • Strong Bad's "Dangeresque" action movies from Homestar Runner have two In-Universe serviceable performances amongst all the horrible actors: The King of Town as Perducci in "Dangeresque 1: Dangeresque, Too?" and Marzipan as Sultry Buttons in "Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective". Strong Bad and Homestar try to do this as the titular Dangeresques, but they're really bad at it.
  • In the Cheat Commandos cartoon "The Next-Epi-Snowed!", writer A. Chimendez is shown to take his job as a writer of an incredibly dumb Merchandise-Driven cartoon with complete professionalism and regards the character of Gunhaver as a great military leader. The conflict arises because of the guy who plays Gunhaver phoning it in so hard that he gets bored and asks if he can start voicing the rhyming guy instead.
  • The Transformers: Combiner Wars: It seems to be a tradition for the actors who portray Optimus and Megatron to give it their all no matter the quality of the series, as Jon Bailey and Jason Marnocha are clearly doing their best and doing quite well.

    Western Animation 
  • The My Little Pony 'n Friends cartoon was a largely serviceable adventure show that was made to sell toys like most other '80s cartoons.
    • The voice work was often passable, but Sarah Partridge, the voice of the pony Wind Whistler had some especially nice moments in her focus episodes and occasional banter. Amusingly as The Spock, her character displayed the least obvious emotion, but it made her sarcasm and sense of humor a joy to watch. It's also ironic that in a show full of grating singing, her actress was a professional jazz singer and never got a song.
    • There's also Betina Bush, who played the farmgirl Megan. While she was barely 12 at the time, she easily spoke the most as the lead character who popped up in most stories and had a lot of enthusiasm and pep that probably made viewers actually like her compared with most Token Human characters in merch-driven series.
  • Toon Makers’ Sailor Moon, the infamous North American live-action adaptation of Sailor Moon often incorrectly called Saban Moon, was the handiwork of Toon Makers Incorporated. As noted by its presenter in the private showing, and as can be seen even through the distorted perspective of the camera that captured it all, the people doing the computer graphics special effects really do seem to have given it their best effort. (See especially Sailor Moon's live-action-to-animation transition near the end.) Added to that, many of the monsters seen are actually based on the Monster of the Week villains from the original series. The writers evidently just didn't care and went with a horrific Totally Radical approach to the show and especially its opening theme. Much to the company's regret and everyone else's relief, as noted, the adaptation was scrapped in favor of just dubbing the original show. The video of it however, continues to circulate on the Internet, much to the amusement of everyone who sees just how bad it was.
  • In-universe, in The Simpsons episode "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show", Homer gets a job voice-acting the character of Poochie, a designed-by-committee and Totally Radical character who speaks entirely in dated catchphrases and immediately gets a withering critical response. Despite this, Homer does his best with the material and capturing the feel of the character, and even petitions the executives for ways to improve the character rather than killing him off. It doesn't work. Lisa even reassures him when he gets sad about the response, pointing out that it wasn't that Homer did a bad job; he just had nothing at all to work with.
  • Though not a bad show, especially by the standards of its time and genre, The Transformers isn't a show that most people would go to the hilt for. Despite this, Peter Cullen puts some real work into the role of Optimus Prime, claiming to have based Prime's voice off his older brother (who was a war veteran), and giving the Autobot leader a constant sense of inner sadness and gravitas even while playing basketball or fighting big game hunters.
  • DuckTales (2017) features an In-Universe version regarding a Darker and Edgier reboot movie of Darkwing Duck. The lead actor (who was a big fan of the original show when he was a child) openly admits to having a low opinion of the project but wants to give the best performance possible to inspire a new generation the same way the original inspired him.
  • Loonatics Unleashed is a rather polarizing show, but one of the few things that are seen as good is the voice acting. All the main voice actors (Charlie Schlatter, Jessica DiCicco, Jason Marsden, Rob Paulsen, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Candi Milo) give their A-game despite their characters not being anything too special.


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