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We Have Become Complacent

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"Asgard grows stale and weak, while the other realms simply grow. Without change, one may as well be dead."

Sometimes directly pointed out by a war veteran or someone with a lot of experience in life, this trope is about some society growing complacent with peace and reluctant to think anything bad can happen. Little do they know that The Empire over there is gearing up for the war that will slaughter thousands, if not millions, of civilians. Sometimes done anviliciously, sometimes it's just part of the plot. Don't be surprised if the society heavily frowns upon violence, even in self-defense.

The Wide-Eyed Idealist and/or Pacifism Backfire trope applied to entire civilizations. Expect the heroes to try to stop the evil plan, either by alerting the populace or by fighting behind the scenes. If they fail, expect their country to be a Soiled City on a Hill, Day of the Jackboot, or an Easily Conquered World. If there is an epilogue, expect And Man Grew Proud. Compare Pacifism Backfire.

This is also frequently a motivation of villains who want to keep their people "strong" and "pure" - they are often The Social Darwinist.

Avoiding this is one of the main points of Japanese Spirit as well as Living Is More than Surviving.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Attack on Titan:
    • Most of humanity got comfortable after a hundred years of peace and were completely unprepared for the first titan attack. Eren even chewed out Hannes and the Garrison troops for drinking on duty since they thought titans wouldn't be able to breach the wall. Afterwards, the Garrison was somewhat more capable of dealing with titans. The only group that didn't slack off during this period was the Survey Corps and that made them the most experienced and prepared to deal with titans. It's later revealed this lack of technological advances is intentional, and the Secret Police have been assassinating or kidnapping people that develop technology the government considers a threat.
    • The nation of Marley gets an extremely rude awakening after 4 years of war, having reached the point where modern technology is beginning to render Titans obsolete. After naval artillery blows the Armored Titan to pieces, several military officers discuss the need to begin focusing on development of conventional weapons after nearly a century of neglecting them in favor of using Titans.
  • Bleach: In the Thousand Year Blood War arc, the ancient war between Shinigami and Quincies flares up again. It's revealed that Uryuu Ishida's arrival in Soul Society two years previously had made Mayuri realise a future Quincy assault would occur - and succeed - but Yamamoto dismissed his warning as paranoia, so did nothing to prepare for it. When Yhwach and Yamamoto confront each other, Yhwach reinforces Mayuri's accusation, observing that the Shinigami's genocide of the Quincies two centuries previously created peace for the first time - and as a result, they became complacent and soft, making it easy for the Quincies to commit a retaliatory genocide before the Shinigami could muster any kind of meaningful defence. As a result of the Shinigami oversight, the only Shinigami within the Gotei 13 who has any meaningful knowledge of Quincies is Mayuri.
  • Death Note: After defeating L, Light spends the next several years comfortably dispensing his brand of justice without any intellectual opposition, feeding his god complex to the point he becomes reckless and prideful enough to believe he'll never lose. This likely factored into why Near and Mello were able to bring about his downfall.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Vegeta mocks Cui, Dodoria, and Zarbon for becoming complacent since they had Frieza to protect them, while he became stronger fighting on the front lines. This turns out to be very true for Cui and Dodoria, who were completely outmatched against Vegeta and died screaming for Frieza to help them. Zarbon, however, was a different story and was able to dominate Vegeta in their first fight thanks to his transformation. Even after Vegeta surpasses him, he still puts up a decent fight.
    • All the heroes, except for Vegeta and Goku, become this in the Buu Saga. After Cell's defeat, the Earth went seven years of peace without incident. Then Babidi came with his most powerful minion being only as strong as last season's main villain. Still, he was able to effectively kill Piccolo and Krillin and fought Gohan to a draw because he actually got weaker from not training. Vegeta also sold his soul for power, making Goku the only person able to stop him. Things got worse when Buu was awakened, who is many times stronger than any previous villain catching the entire cast, except Goku, flatfooted. They spent most of the saga frantically trying to get strong enough just to challenge Buu.
    • From the Cell Saga onwards, Goku finds himself exasperated with his friends and loved ones for their tendency to do this, especially since they constantly depend on him to save the day when one day, he will die permanently and when that day comes, no one will be able to counter the next big threat to Earth unless they stop being so dependent on him. This leads to him trying to pass the torch to first Gohan, then Goten and Trunks, but sadly, they end up being too lazy to keep training, adding to his annoyance.
    • This trope becomes a recurring problem for Gohan after the Cell Saga, as he lacks the drive to actively train when there's no immediate threat:
      • By the time of the Buu Saga, he's neglected training for seven years. He struggles against Dabura, a fighter he could easily have defeated had he kept in shape, and is no match for Majin Buu, who beats him so brutally that his loved ones and friends believe him dead. He makes up for it after the Old Kai unlocks all of his hidden power.
      • He falls into it again in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' and its subsequent Dragon Ball Super adaptation, where he's slacked off to the extent that he's lost his Ultimate power-up and can barely maintain the basic Super Saiyan state. This bites him in the ass big-time when Frieza nearly kills him with a single punch in the movie, kills Piccolo in the Super adaptation, and blows up the Earth in both versions. Realizing how far he's fallen and that he can't depend on his father forever, Gohan asks Piccolo to retrain him after his revival.
      • To a lesser extent in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero: Gohan is still training, but a combination of previous factors including the new one of limited amounts of free time hamper this. Part of the reason the plot happens is Gohan's struggle to balance his career, training, and family isn't going that well, and Pan and Piccolo plan a fake kidnapping that will deal with all those things at once.
    • Krillin also hits this in Dragon Ball Super. Having retired from fighting after the Cell Saga, he's become so weak that, when working as a police officer, he has difficulty capturing ordinary criminals and ends up being injured by an ordinary bullet. When Android 18 ridicules him for it, stating that the weakling he's become is not the man she fell in love with, Krillin goes along with Goku to retrain himself.
    • Future Trunks also did this in Super. After defeating the Androids, Cell, Babidi, and Dabura, he relaxed and thought that Super Saiyan 2 was the peak of his power. This causes him to be no match for Goku Black when he shows up to wipe out humanity. When he sees how strong Goku and Vegeta have become, Trunks initially plans to relax and let them handle Black, but Vegeta scolds him for this, saying he should always strive to surpass his limits no matter the situation. Trunks takes this to heart and resolves to constantly train.
  • Gundam:
    • Occasionally floated in various series when someone points out that warfare leads to a huge uptick in R&D.
    • In the movie Mobile Suit Gundam F91 and Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, the Earth Federation has become stagnant. Mobile suits from the Second Neo-Zeon War are still in use and they're not prepared for the new threats post Zeon. By Victory, the civilian forces have more advanced suits than the EFSF.
    • Master Asia of Mobile Fighter G Gundam is disgusted with the Gundam Fight, where nations fight a kind of Combat by Champion to determine who rules for four years. He sees it as a worthless game that doesn't even do a good job of replacing warfare because it still takes place on Earth, which is routinely torn to pieces by the fighting.
    • ∀ Gundam's Big Bad, Gym Ghingnham, is motivated by this. He firmly believes that Humans Are Warriors and must fight in order to keep from stagnating, so he tries to reignite the horrific warfare of the Black History.
    • Colonel Cumpa of Gundam: Reconguista in G is completely unimpressed with Capital troops holding huge festivals on the weekend, thinking them unprepared and unworthy for potential threats (like all the various spacenoid factions wanting to come back, for which he is an agent). The anti-technology strictures are also a point of contention among the Earth factions, who are in a tug of war between wanting to advance and avoiding a repeat of the devastating Lensman Arms Races of the past.
  • Happens repeatedly in Legend of the Galactic Heroes, both in the backstory and the series proper:
    • At first there was the United Earth Government, born 90 years after the apocaliptic Thirteen Days War. At first the government worked, rebuilding Earth's infrastructure and ushering a golden age of explorations and colonization, but by the 26th century it was decadent, tyrannical over the colonies and in the hands of a corrupt military (notable the 2527 Military Expenditure Hearings: the wastes of the Space Force had been exposed to everyone, and the budget was increased), and in the 27th century the colonials finally started fighting back and, with their Black Fleet, shattered the Space Force and the United Earth Government itself;
    • After about a century the fall of the UEG, humanity reunited under the Galactic Federation, whose first two centuries were called the Golden Age of Humanity, after which the Federation people just stopped caring. The government became overly decadent, crime skyrocketed, and the wiser men started expecting a repeat of the fall of the UEG. It didn't happen. Instead Rudolph von Goldenbaum, an officer of the Galactic Federation Armada, entered politics and managed to get elected as both prime minister (chief executive) and president of the parliament (chief of the legislature), and reformed the Federation into the Galactic Empire with himself as the emperor;
    • While cruel, the rule of Rudolph the Great succeeded into bringing back justice and a decent level of life to humanity with the help of capable men he made into the High Nobles. His successors and the newer generations of High Nobles, however, started caring only of becoming richer and pleasuring themselves, suppressing with military strength those who protested and had not escaped to create the Free Planets Alliance. By the time the Empire and the Alliance finally meet, the Empire decides to conquer what they consider a rebel alliance... And at Dagon their fleet is on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle from an opponent outnumbered two-to-one and using inferior technology, thus starting the Long War;
    • After Dagon the situation is effectively a stalemate for 28 years, with the Alliance population skyrocketing thanks to refugees from the Empire and their military having expanded after the triumph in the first major battle. Thus when the new emperor Kornelias I offers them a negotiated entry in the Empire they laugh at his emissaries three times, even when the last group warns them that a refusal to start negotiations would mean facing the full power of a properly prepared Imperial Fleet. The Alliance dares the Empire to try, expecting another victory... And instead the Imperial Fleet, that Kornelias had prepared to deal with the Alliance after studying the initial expedition and taking care of learning from the errors, bulldozes through the Alliance Starfleet, and is only halted when Kornelias receives news of a palace coup and has to turn back and put it down. The trope here is at work for both sides, as the Empire still had to properly transition to war economy and, after the failure of the expedition, doesn't have the means to launch another before the Alliance recovers;
    • Another 28 years later, the Imperial Fleet is confident in their victory and launches another offensive. The Battle of Shandarua is such a devastating defeat that, almost a century later, the Imperial Fleet is still ashamed.
    • About a century after the start of the war, the Alliance is at its peak, and, under the lead of Bruce Ashbey and the fellow members of the Year 730 Mafia, the Free Planets Star Fleet inflicts such a one-sided defeat to the Imperial Fleet they could just march all the way to Odin and impose peace. Sadly, Ashbey died in that battle and without his lead, the Year 730 Mafia disbanded due to infighting, and about 40 years later, when the series proper is set, not only the Empire has rebuilt its military (with a number of competent admirals in command) and placed the unconquerable space fortress of Iserlohn on the only invasion path (with Reinhard von Lohengramm, who has Rudolph the Great's ambition but a more human character, quickly climbing through the ranks to take over and reform the Empire), but most Star Fleet admirals are sadly incompetent (with some of the few competent officers remaining itching to start a coup and forcibly reform the Alliance) and politicians treating their position as means to make money. At least Star Fleet admirals and the smarter politicians are realizing they're getting screwed;
    • Finally, during the series proper, the politically inconvenient military genius Yang Wen-Li is sent in the suicide mission of conquering Iserlohn with an understrength fleet put together from recruits and the survivors of a recent military disaster, and succeeds with zero losses. At which point the Alliance launches an ill-prepared invasion of Imperial space with most of the fleet. Reinhard crushes the fleet and cripples the Alliance military, and then uses his success as a stepping stone on his take-over of the Empire.
  • My Hero Academia: Society had become so accustomed to heroes always succeeding, specifically All Might, that regular people have no sense of agency or need to help anyone who needs it, always believing that a hero will come and fix the problem for them. When the slightest thing goes wrong, the public freaks out and immediately begins losing trust in the UA staff for something that wasn't fully their fault, simply because they have forgotten that heroes are only human, too. Tomura Shigaraki invokes this when he holds Midoriya hostage for a brief moment, stating that if he wanted, he could kill over 40 to 50 people before a hero finally arrived to stop him, and his ultimate plan is to expose to the people of the world just how flawed their blind belief in the hero system is; that their sense of safety is an illusion, and anytime, anywhere, a villain or disaster could kill you at a moment's notice just because you weren't expecting it.
  • In Overlord (2012), the Re-Estize Kingdom was founded by the Slane Theocracy long ago in the hopes that it would be a place where new heroes of humanity would appear. The Theocracy believed that the strong natural defenses of the kingdom would make it a safe haven for humanity's future heroes to grow. Unfortunately, this very security led to the Kingdom becoming complacent. The Kingdom's nobility squandered their time and effort on petty political power struggles since they believed the Kingdom would never fall. The Kingdom is in such a bad state that the neighboring expansionist Baharuth Empire hasn't even bothered to go all out to conquer it, and instead engages it in annual "wars" intended to gradually sap the Kingdom's strength so that they can effortlessly conquer it later. The Kingdom does have a few strong champions in it — the Adamantite-ranked Adventurer teams Blue Rose and Red Drop and Warrior Captain Gazef Stronoff — but even they pale in comparison to the Slane Theocracy's own elite operatives. The Slane Theocracy thus considers the Kingdom a failure.
  • Peter Grill and the Philosopher's Time: Long ago, the dwarves and humans made an alliance to help defend the dwarf lands from monsters called semimoles, which have hides so tough they can only be harmed by weapons made of Orichalcum. Semimoles haven't been seen in a century, so everyone assumes they are extinct. Everyone started relaxing and forgot how to forge orichalcum, except for the studious Mithlim. When a semimole shows up, Peter is the only one strong enough to fight it with an orichalcum weapon provided by Mithlim. Peter then lectures everyone on relaxing and tells them to shape up and relearn how to forge orichalcum.
  • Shounen Hollywood: The President makes the boys realize this come the end of the second season. After establishing themselves as idols, they largely just went through the motions instead of striving for greater ambitions or improving themselves for their performances. This is why he tells them that at the rate they're all going, they'll still be small-time singers and fall into obscurity. This is also the reason that he and Shima decide to test them in the last couple of episodes.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: The Jura-Tempest Federation realizes this after the Farmus Kingdom massacres hundreds of innocent civilians as part of a larger plot to create a Pretext for War while its ruler Rimuru is away. Rimuru blames himself for the mess since one of his first orders to his people, back when it was just a goblin tribe that Rimuru decided to help with no plans to become the powerful country they would become, was to not harm humans, not taking into account the idea that humans would be evil enough to attack them unprovoked, and because he feels that he spent too much time away from Tempest trying to reconnect with his roots as a reincarnated human that he wasn't able to arrive back in time. Rimuru's subordinates, on the other hand, blame themselves for becoming too reliant on Rimuru coming to save them and cite various failings in their duties that could have prevented the incident from happening in the first place (such as screening foreigners or monitoring the roads for suspicious activity). The incident causes Tempest to reconsider its stance towards human countries going forward, with the consideration that Farmus probably won't be the only country or force that might try to antagonize Tempest.

    Comic Books 
  • Dreamkeepers has it so that using your powers is grounds for exile. This is due to in part of the Nightmares, the reason for their powers in the first place, hiding for a long time and having double agents in the government.
  • One of Alan Moore's Tharg's Future Shocks for 2000 AD is about a legion of soldiers sent into space by their home planet's emperor after all their enemies there have been defeated. Their mission is to travel through space in a straight line and destroy everything in their path until they reach the end of the universe. After over a billion years, the soldiers find a planet up ahead that once had the reputation of a great empire but has since become "soft and flabby." They decide to lay waste to it and later discover that it was their own home world because the universe is curved and circular.
  • In Asterix album "Obelix and Co.", Julius Caesar scolds his former generals:
    Caesar: See what your all gold, your villas, your orgies have made of you! You're decadent! You, a think tank? All you care about is tanking up!
    Senator: (waking up) Hmph? Lunchtime?
  • The backstory to the Silver Surfer involves this trope: his home planet Zenn-la used to have a space program, but the people dismantled it and went home to go Crystal Spires and Togas, meaning all of them would have been wiped out by Galactus if Norrin Radd hadn't saved them by sacrificing himself to become the Surfer. They had developed what they thought was the ultimate weapon that could defend them from any threat. When they tried using it on Galactus, the planet devourer didn't even notice.
  • Superman:
    • In many modern stories like Last Son, this is General Zod's major complaint before Krypton's destruction. Notably, he's usually shown to be right: either their lack of military bites them in the tail when Brainiac or some other enemy comes, or their lack of a space program bites them when the planet explodes, or both in succession.
    • In Reign of Cyborg Supermen, Cameron Chase points out that Kryptonians became almost extinct because they thought nothing could destroy them, so they refused to listen to the signs that their planet disagreed.
      Cameron Chase: Kryptonians thought themselves superior. Invincible behind their philosophy and technology. When their planet said otherwise, they didn't work together. They turned on each other.
    • In Must There Be a Superman?, the Man of Steel decides to adopt a less intrusive approach to heroism after finding out that people have become so reliant on him that they will not even try to stand up for their rights, since they expect him to swoop in and solve all their problems.
    • Let My People Grow!: Superman feels incredibly upset when his ray enlarges the Kandorians but destroys their city. However, Van-Zee tells him it is not such a big loss at all. They grew accustomed to be under his care and had become more like pets that people. Maybe now they will need to rebuild their city and their civilization without depending on him, they will get their sense of initiative back.
      Van-Zee: These past years inside that bottle, we haven't been people— We've been pets! You tended to us, protected us, loved us— and gradually we lost our sense of initiative! Perhaps now we can begin to find it again!
      Superman: W-what do you mean?
      High Councilor: Look around you, Kal-El— A primitive wilderness, waiting to be tamed, to be conquered—! And if we cannot accomplish that, then perhaps we never deserved to be released from our bottle in the first place!
    • The Legion of Super-Heroes story The Great Darkness Saga features the Zeroxian. They're powerful, peaceful, and enlightened wizards, so naively confident in their ability to safeguard their world from any violence and evil than they didn't take the Legion's warnings about the Master of Darkness seriously until they dropped the protective shields surrounding their safe haven-island and saw their planet was being ravaged by the Master's power.
    • The Dominator War: According to the Dominator's head scientist, the Dominators became weak because of long years of peace, and the baseless notion that the human heroes would remain out of their borders only because one paper told so.
      Dominator: In the years following our retreat from Earth, we grew insular and withdrawn. [...] A few centuries later, this status quo was formalized in the Nameless Treaty. We called it that because the human term "non-aggression pact" had no equivalent in our tongue. Alas, in time it did enter our Lexicon. We had grown soft, believing an empty human promise actually protected our sovereign borders.
  • In Double Duck, Head-H hints this is the reason for the Agency being disbanded and replaced by the far less expensive (and competent) Direction, as a government committee had seen them as far too expensive after Axel Alpha and rogue Time Cop T32 captured the leaders of the 21st century Organization, the Division, and other criminal organizations. Sure enough, at that very time the new crime syndicate Actinia is rising to threaten the world.
  • In Annihilators, Brandy Clark feels that the Galadorian Spaceknights have become soft and stagnant ever since their ancient enemies, the Dire Wraiths, were imprisoned in Limbo. To counteract this decline and restore the Spaceknights' sense of purpose, she helps Doctor Dredd in his scheme to release the Dire Wraiths from their imprisonment.

    Fan Works 
  • Britannia in The Black Emperor has become so used to having a technological advantage against anyone they fight that they almost completely flounder when the Black Knights field units that are only slightly worse than Gloucesters, the best Knightmares currently available to Britannia and only used by the best of the best.
  • The Bridge:
    • Princess Celestia worked to keep Equestria free from war and crime during her 1000 year reign. Now the citizens are unprepared for attacks from villains and evil Kaiju. She knows of her mistake and feels guilty about it.
    • Roughly 370 years ago, the Xilian Empire felt secure after conquering several planets and stopped focusing on their military, leaving their homeworld vulnerable when Grand King Ghidorah attacked it.
  • Mentioned in The Chains of Youth. The Ino-Shika-Cho combination has been used by the three clans for over ten generations and is famous worldwide for how effective it is. As a result of it's fame, almost every village has developed counters for it. The last time it was used, the current generations fathers nearly died, resulting in the combination being retired before Ino, Shikamaru, and Choji were born.
  • In Codex Equus, this is one of the common problems that plague seemingly "utopian" and "benevolent" societies and civilizations.
    • Temnobog, the Bogolenya Deer god of Evil, is disgusted by societies that become overly Good, since the absence of Evil will cause its inhabitants to forget why they're Good and think that they can do whatever they want because they're Good, unwittingly becoming the very Evil that they defeated in the first place. He even believes that Queen Dazzleglow's attempts to break the Cycle would result in a complacent Equus, except no, she also believes in Constructive Evil and wants people to break the Cycle so everyone would be able to fight the... thing that's lurking in the Cosmic Void. On the other hand, Temnobog also opposes societies that have become overly Evil, and will not hesitate to let the Four Terrors, his surviving divine children, raze and burn such societies to the ground as punishment for their extreme Evil.
    • Temnoist followers are also against societies promoting the absence of Evil/Good, as they believe that Good cannot exist in the absence of Evil and vice-versa, and the consequences of such a thing will be worse, than if Good and Evil existed together. So while they are feared and reviled as agents of Evil, Temnoists believe that by promoting Evil, they help good people become strong enough to oppose Evil, thus in turn allowing the Cycle of Good and Evil to continue.
    • Dr. Toxikon sees the Dragonflights as complacent, arrogant, and stagnant because they have become so confident in their own power that they refuse to learn new things and/or cooperate with other races. A prime example would be Dragon Lord Brutus, who emphasizes his people's focus on brute strength rather than intelligence and skill - he lost rather quickly. The reason why Toxikon praised Ember so highly is that she is one of few Dragons who averted this trope, yet he also became frustrated that no one else is willing, or don't want to listen to Ember's progressive ways.
  • Cross Ange: Futatsu Sekai no Border:
    • Sylvia and the survivors have realizations of how utterly defenseless they were against a true armed assault on their lands. Even now, her group's military strength, despite welcoming Norma into the mix, is subpar compared to the more radical Norma left behind.
    • A stretch due the short period of time, but the Norma living in Aura lived a period of peace away from the fighting. History Repeats.
  • Dead or Alive 4: The Devil Factor: Vergil accuses Dante of getting soft because after defeating so many major demons, Dante got to relax by only fighting minor demons and criminals, while Vergil continued to fight for his life in Hell and got stronger. However, Dante proves him wrong by still being an even match for him.
  • Fates Collide:
    • Nero claims other kingdoms like Vale are weak because their mountain ranges shield them from major Grimm attacks, while Apocrypha is an open plain which means they have to fight them more often.
    • When Gilgamesh visits Vale, he comments on how lax the security is compared to Apocrypha's.
    • Vlad III declares Pyrrha Nikos to be this, as she had started to become overconfident due to being the strongest student in Beacon Academy and doesn't train to her fullest potential, and she hasn't tried to truly master her Semblance. He makes it his pet project to correct this and fully unlock her potential. He succeeds. Pyrrha unlocks new levels of power and new applications of her Semblance but declares her eyes are opened and she has no limits. She will constantly train so that she will remain undefeated.
  • Harmony Theory: Eight hundred years ago, Nightmare Umbra attacked Equestria and then left, believing that the ponies would unite and train against her. That way, after several generations, they would serve as a Worthy Opponent to her when she came back to finish the job. When she returns, she is sorely disappointed to find they did not do this and instead wasted all their time on petty civil wars and political intrigue. Only heroes like Rainbow Dash and Star Fall can fight her, while she can easily kill a squad of regular soldiers without blinking.
    Nightmare Umbra: Eight Hundred Years Have I Waited, Marshalling My Power. Eight Hundred Years Have I Given You To Do The Same. When I Emerged From My Silence I Expected To See Armies Arrayed Against Me! Heroes And Sages Aiding Great Leaders In Battle Against The Only Foe That Will Ever Matter For You. A Worthy Challenge To My Dominion. What Have I Found? The Petty Rulers Of A Broken World, Sitting In Pretty Rows Celebrating The Union Of A Blushing Filly And A Pampered Fop Who You Expect To Be Your Sovereign. Are You Such Fools That You Thought Me Gone Forever? Were You Not Informed Of My Return? Did You Not See The Signs?
  • I Am Going To Save And/Or Destroy Equestria!: In a message Starswirl the Bearded left before he died, he accuses ponykind of this. And he's absolutely right.
    Starswirl: Celestia and I had a falling out recently, over reasons I have sworn to reveal to no other soul. However, those events taught me something, something that Equestria seems to have failed to realize. Celestia and Luna, as great and powerful as they may be, are still ponies. They laugh, they cry, they hate, and... they love, the same as all of us, and those emotions can impact their decisions. They are great, but they are not perfect, and I fear that one day, Equestria may pay the price for one of their mistakes.
    And yet, we have grown too reliant upon the two of them. Before the two alicorns took the throne, the vocation of wizard, or warrior, or scout, was a common one. Great ponies went on adventures into wild and dangerous territory, winning glory and returning with new knowledge and opening new trade routes to other places, and having such reckless and daring heroes helped make Equestria a safer place. Now, however, we have grown complacent: Adventurers are the exception, not the rule. We rely on the princesses to handle everything that this world can throw at us, and they easily throw into Tartarus every monster that might threaten ponykind. This has made us safe, yet it has also made us soft. Progress is slowing to a crawl. In my youth, new spells were invented every year, but my own most recent contribution, a spell concerning the creation of pottery, is the only new enchantment to be created in fifty years, and another is unlikely to appear for a long, long time. Our magic is less a weapon of war or a tool of survival, and more a bauble to entertain children. Our current generation of soldiers is comprised of peacekeepers, not warriors, and have more experience breaking up fights than they do in fighting battles. I say this now, and I say it with certainty: Without the alicorns, Equestria would quickly fall into ruin.
  • In Mass Effect: Human Revolution, Jondum Bau has the realization that the Citadel has gotten too used to having its own way when Noveria's immigration authorities refuse to accept his Spectrehood as a free pass to get in.
  • Professor Vector warns of this in Harry Potter and the Golden Needle, citing how wizards have stagnated while muggles thrive. According to her, floo powder was invented 150 years ago and is still considered a "modern" invention, despite no improvements since its development because wizards as a whole have a doctrine of "If it ain't broke don't fix it". Vector also cites several areas where muggles have far surpassed wizards, such as communication and exploration.
  • In Elsewhere, but not Elsewhen, a very bitter Hermione gives Augusta Longbottom, Lucius Malfoy, and Voldemort a succinct presentation on how muggles have changed since the establishment of the Statute of Secrecy, pointing out the idiocy of the Wizarding World's stagnation and the risks they're exposing themselves to by tickling the sleeping dragon:
    Hermione: While the wizarding world sat on its laurels for dealing with Grindlewald, the muggle one plowed ahead, ever-changing and ever-growing. While the wizarding world saw lamps that conjured gas as the end-all and be-all for lighting, the muggle one invented lights bright enough to turn night into day. And while the wizarding world was content to ride a broom through the air, the muggle one reached for the stars. Muggles don't see limitations, they see challenges. They don't see the impossible, they just see what hasn't been done yet. And right now, they are a sleeping dragon. If you awaken it, we will all die.
    • Remarkably, this cements Voldemort's intention to change the direction the Wizarding World's headed towards, starting with letting go of his strongest prejudices, arranging for Wizarding money to begin creeping into Muggle investments, and even arranging for lethal incidents for his most fanatical followers.
  • Disillusion, by Hermione Granger takes the form of a thesis submitted by an alternate Hermione detailing how in that universe, Harry, furious at the Ministry for their callousness in their treatment of Neville, basically destroyed their entire way of life by trickling down technology and magic to the Wizarding World and the muggle population, respectively. She quotes other thesists sharing the viewpoint, remarking on how fast both worlds took to the opportunities Harry offered, showing the potential was there - it was just that nobody dared take the first step.
  • In Mythos Effect, it's discussed how the Turian military, even if it's the largest and best-prepared in Citadel Space, is doing pretty poorly against the humans. Their strategies (which every Turian admiral is expected to memorize and implement at every opportunity) were created centuries before for use against Batarian pirates and peacekeeping missions, not the kind of total war being fought. There's little to no wiggle room for the Outside-Context Problem of arcanotech. The last time a conflict even remotely as bad as the war against Earth happened (the Krogan Rebellions), the Turians had the Asari bankrolling them and the Salarians slipping them intel. At the time the fic's set, both of their counterparts have washed their collective hands of the Turians' choice of declaring war, leaving them only to drag the Volus and other lesser client states for help, none of whom are happy to see their money and manpower wasted in a pointless war that could have been easily avoided had the Turian patrols not jumped the gun.
  • In Being Meiling: Tengu of (Mis)Fortune's background, the tengu at one point achieved a moderate level of civilization and proceeded to casually sit back and exult in their glories as the world passed them by, content to ignore other races and smother any trace of their own bloodstained legacy. Aya Shameimaru, once their greatest warrior and intelligence operative, was exiled and ostracized to the point of becoming a buffoonish pervert from the sheer loneliness for the crime of keeping records of massacres instigated by the tengu. Even the oni, their ancient enemies and overlords, managed to develop the Underground into a functional, cosmopolite city, and fully acknowledge and start making amends for their terrible past, contrasting with the stagnant tengu attempts to keep to themselves and sanitize both their history and their society into perfect stasis.
  • Raised by Jägers: Subverted. After Agatha subtly hints that his clanks (combat robots) are painfully obsolete, Tarsus Beetle becomes driven to prove he can keep up with the younger clank designers.
  • In Flashback (MHA), Eri says word for word that this is why the Bad Future happened. Because humanity decided to focus on creating support gear for Quirks instead of technology to conquer the stars, they were easily subdued by the Alien Invasion.
  • There Was Once an Avenger From Krypton:
    • As part of the All-Powerful Bystander behavior the Ancient One got up to, she let many of the bridges her predecessors built lapse since her work and power alone was enough to stave off most supernatural threats to Earth. Now that she's dead, and with all the upheaval lately with things like the Titan insurrection and the Chitauri invasion, the powers that be can sense that Earth is vulnerable. This is part of why Strange is focusing on gathering young heroes who are familiar with supernatural threats, like Danny Phantom.
    • During Vilgax's attack on Arcadia, Coulson notes that S.H.I.E.L.D. has failed to keep up with the nature of threats in a world where superpowered individuals and alien invasions are becoming increasingly common.
    • This is also a major issue with the Nova Empire. Long ago, they had access to the Nova Force and were an unstoppable army of peace keepers. After they managed to establish themselves, they retired their use of the Nova Force and settled down. Now with the threats to the galaxy becoming more apparent, they're relearning how to harness the Nova Force, but they still have a ways to go in that regard.
  • Justice: In the Nazi-dominated timeline created by Vandal Savage, after seeing just how powerful the Straw Hats are when not holding back, and how they can actually work together effectively unlike most supervillains, Green Lantern (even nearly dropping the trope name) realizes that the Justice League needs to step up their game, and stop relying on whatever coordination they throw together mid-fight.
  • Transposition F: Vegeta believes that Remnant's development of weaponry and usage of Dust, alongside secret protection from the Seasonal Maidens, has left them unable to even conceptualize the idea of developing Ki and its various techniques, creating a "standard" that nobody has bothered to update or change.
  • Dimensional Gate Screwover: The Demon Lord of the Monster Girl Encyclopedia realizes this — after taking the throne and implementing her plan, she had not only convinced the prior Hero to join her cause, but her powers let her convert any human to managed to get close, and managed to defeat the Chief God when she personally came down to stop her. The Demon Lord thought victory was assured... but then the Big Bad of the story mercilessly halts those plans, not only by matching her and her husband in combat, but then outright almost killing them when he launches an invasion.
  • Paradoxus: Bloom thinks this about Alfea’s lowered standards and training. They are considerably worse than they were in her time as a student and Bloom, as the weathered veteran she is, correctly fears Alfea's fairies won't stand a chance when peacetime inevitably ends. Really, those gals are far more preoccupied with the "Miss Magix" beauty pageant than learning to control their powers. This is also true for Cloud Tower and Red Fountain, courtesy of the rotten and self-serving Council of Rocalucce that has opened the door to the Burning Legion and helped its current mistress. Which eventually leads to an interdimensional war.

    Films — Animated 
  • Twilight of the Cockroaches. A society of cockroaches, flourishing under the passive acceptance of a depressed bachelor, is completely unprepared when he begins dating a Neat Freak...
  • In Robin Hood (1973), Robin Hood and the citizens of Nottingham think they are able to outwit childish, cowardly Prince John and the Sheriff but the heroes overestimate their incompetence. It comes to head when Prince John loses it after hearing the "Phony King of England" which was created as a form of rebellion from the citizens and taxes all of Nottingham to the last drop and arrests anyone, including children, who cannot pay it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Mike Judge's film Idiocracy is a cautionary tale against this, prophesying that pop culture, consumerism, and hedonism will lead to a Crapsack World of sheer incompetence. Slightly zig-zagged, in that despite all the incompetence, when the President figures out how much smarter than him the hero is, he immediately wants to put the smartest guy in charge - he's not bright, but he's not evil.
  • Pretty much the point of Richard Harris' final speech in Cromwell.
  • A big theme in The Dark Knight Rises is how decadent and complacent Gotham City has become in the eight years of peace that resulted from the Dent Act. The police are unprepared when a new supervillain emerges, and the social shift brought about by this complacency makes the people of Gotham easy pickings for Bane's manipulations. Bane even sums it up to Batman in their first fight:
    Bane: Peace has cost you your strength. Victory has defeated you.
  • In Skyfall, when asked by a government committee if MI6 is relevant to the modern world, M responds that there should be an even greater focus on espionage to battle increasingly decentralized modern threats.
  • In Star Trek Into Darkness, Harrison claims the Federation has become an easy target, despite the peace and safety they pretend to have.
    Harrison: You think your world is safe? It is an illusion. A comforting lie told to protect you.
    • This is the motivation of Section 31, as well.
  • Pacific Rim:
    • By the year 2020, the Jaegers in the original film have racked up such impressive record of killing Kaiju that most pilots treated it as simply another chance to increase their kill score. The public saw the Kaiju as means to entertainment, such as making toy lines and television gags. Cue the Mass "Oh, Crap!" when people begun to realize that the Kaiju are adapting to fighting Jaegers by targeting the pilots and its power sources. A mere five years later, the Jaeger program is on the verge of a shutdown because Jaegers are being destroyed faster than they could be built.
    • Pacific Rim: Uprising is set 10 years after the Kaiju were defeated in the first movie. Many people assumed that the Kaiju were gone for good and started relaxing. Fortunately, not everybody did this, allowing them to put up a meaningful defense when the Kaiju came back.
  • Done subtly with the Las Vegas attack scene from Godzilla (2014). The female M.U.T.O. has escaped from Yucca Mountain and is rampaging through the Entertainment Capital of the World on its way to meet its mate on the West Coast. We get a shot of the inside of a busy and dangerously unaware casino where the people are so preoccupied with the slot machines that they all ignore the news report on the interspersed televisions warning about the monster. When the M.U.T.O.'s EMP suddenly knocks out the power in the building, everyone's reaction is a mass groan of annoyance, then an abrupt switch to screaming panic when the M.U.T.O. crashes through the roof.
  • Star Wars:
    • The fate of the Jedi Council over the course of the prequel trilogy. As it's been a thousand years since the Sith were a visible threat, the Council are convinced they've been wiped out for good. Not only are the Sith very much alive, one of them is running the Republic right under their noses.
    • In Attack of the Clones, the Jedi Order's surest sign of its blindness to the growing threat of Palpatine's scheme is when Obi-Wan is looking for info on the planet Kamino and there is none to be found. The Chief Librarian, Jocasta Nu, is so sure of the archives' comprehensiveness that she automatically dismisses the planet's existence without considering any other possibility of why there is no record. It finally takes one of Yoda's child students to suggest the obvious: that the Archives' records were tampered with (by one of their own who went rogue, no less) to hide Kamino's existence. When The Order's Chief Librarian is that stubbornly unwilling to acknowledge such a realistic possibility within the terms of her own calling, it's no wonder that Palpatine is able to crush the Jedi.
    • Yoda comes to this realization himself during his duel with Palpatine in the novelization of Revenge of the Sith. He is forced to admit to himself that the Order's inflexibility and refusal to change over the last millennium and think outside the box ultimately allowed the Sith to triumph over them, truths which he confesses to Luke Skywalker decades later.
    • The Expanded Universe reveals this had happened to The Republic as a whole: after the apparent destruction of the Sith at the end of the New Sith Wars, the Republic, needing the funds for reconstruction on a galaxy-wide scale, disbanded its military while pressuring the Jedi to do the same and divided its assets between a reduced Judicial Force and various local planetary security forces, trusting the local sectors to maintain their forces. While the system worked at first, corruption in the Senate and at the local level and the relative poverty of the Outer Rim meant that sectors in the latter area often couldn't afford to maintain their security forces and started becoming pirate havens that the Judicials couldn't be bothered to police, allowing the Trade Federation to step in with its own (very effective) private security forces in exchange for effectively owning whatever sector turned to them. To make matters worse, after the rise of Darth Revan during the Old Republic era laws were passed outlawing the Sith religion that were heavily enforced during the New Sith Wars, but at some point they were repealed, making it even harder for the Jedi to deal with Palpatine.
    • In a nice twist, this happened to The Empire: while it rose from the ashes of the Republic and inherited its battle-hardened military, Palpatine allowed corruption to steep it much deeper than the Republic and employed the idea of suppressing crime and dissent by the threat of military power (a valid concept born out of the realization the galaxy is simply too large to be policed through power alone, but brought to the excess), thus giving people motivation to rebel while reducing its expanding military's ability to fight a determinated enemy by equipping it with awe-inspiring but less effective designs. Thus when the Rebel Alliance (that uses a mix of Boring Yet Practical machines from the Clone Wars and state-of-the-art ones alongside militarized civilian ships) scores an unexpected major victory by destroying the Death Star, the Empire finds itself on the backfoot and unable to mount a proper counterattack against the growing Rebellion.
    • The Force Awakens: The New Republic became complacent before even solidifying the peace and later repeated the same error as the Old Republic (though not to the same excess, as they still maintain a centralized navy and funds local security forces so they maintain proper training and equipment), and The Remnant rebuilt as the First Order since the Republic didn't bother keeping tabs on them. The most Leia can get is a shoestring budget to finance a resistance.
  • The Godfather: The Corleone family has been the unchallenged head of the New York families for a decade. As a result, they were caught off guard when the Mob War breaks out when Sollozzo attempts to kill Vito.

  • J. R. R. Tolkien's The Fall of Gondolin: In several versions, after moving to their secret valley to hide themselves from Morgoth, the Gondolin Elves become so enamored with their city after several centuries of peace that they stop paying attention to the outside world and watching over the Encircling Mountains, thus ensuring that Morgoth's troops find Gondolin, cross the mountains before being spotted, and reach the city's walls unopposed.
  • The Ur-Example is from Herodotus's Histories, written in the fifth century BCE. King Croesus note  asked Solon whether he was not the happiest man on Earth. Solon answered "Count no man happy until he is dead", and cautioned that fate could change for him. He pooh-poohed this idea... until after he had his empire utterly destroyed by Cyrus the Great. Of course, there are a few differences between this and the modern trope: He was the one who went to war, after asking the Oracle of Delphi for the result of this, and being told that it would result in the fall of a great empire if he did. The great empire that fell? His own.
  • Known Space: This is part of the premise of the Man/Kzin Wars. Humans have used a combination of social programming and chemical cocktails to remove humanity's collective balls. We get them back, though.
  • Saki's "When William Came".
  • Mentioned several times about the United States and Britain in The Winds of War/War and Remembrance.
  • A theme in Curse of the Wolfgirl is that the leaders of the werewolf clans have become complacent about the idea of Scotland being a fortress against werewolf hunters. Naturally the big set-piece battle of the book is in Edinburgh.
  • In Spirit Fox by Mickey Zucker Reichert and Jennifer Wingert, the nations of a continent make peace after a war, going so far as disbanding their armies and having the priests announce that their respective gods have combined into a new pantheon and declared a new era of peace and prosperity, and that henceforth military preparations are unnecessary and an evil in the sight of the gods. Twenty years later, when nearly everybody's become comfortable, an invasion force shows up from the next continent over. After that, things happen just as the trope description says.
  • Society in Codex Alera had become complacent due to dependence on furycrafting. The power a person possessed determined their place in that society, with the most powerful becoming the High Lords while the least powerful had no place in the citizenry. Naturally the people without strong furycraft would develop strong minds that could enhance society, but because they didn't have strong furycraft they were always ignored. The people with strong furycraft were content with where society was and had no drive to enhance it, which promoted stagnation. Tavi recognized this problem and convinced Alera to reassign furycrafting to anyone based on merit, giving strong furycrafting to those with strong minds to use it productively.
    • It also applied to the army. The Legions had fought and destroyed a number of hostile races over the centuries, but because of all those victories, it was entirely possible that you could go through a tour of duty in the Legions without fighting a single major engagement if you weren't serving on the Shieldwall because the other regions no longer bordered any enemies. This costs them dearly in the initial battles against the Vord.
  • In the Honor Harrington series this is the job of the Solarian League. Over 80% of human space is dominated by the League, with slow outward growth giving new systems entry via the Office of Frontier Security. No fleet battles fought for 300 years, with no real wars fought since the League was founded. They boast ten thousand superdreadnaughts. The Solarian League is the Biggest, Most Powerful Star Nation Man ever saw. But the political mechanisms running the league are ineffective. The politicians have no real power because the founders didn't want a real central government (think something like the US under the Articles of Confederation mixed with the EU and older Polish laws). The Bureaucracy has the real power, but even that is still pretty limited. The power is conserved mainly within families, subverting the democracy and merit requirements for politics. Any member system can veto actions of the elected government, so the Bureaucracy endeavors to make nothing real come up for votes. Because they are big and impossible no one minds this, despite this meaning their Navy is split in two, with the light elements mostly part of Frontier Fleet whose job is to suppress pirates and those who'd rather not join the Solarian League, and the rest in the corrupt Battle Fleet whose positions are on patronage. So bad is it, that sending out any report challenging any assumption the fleet runs on is career death. Of those 10,000 SDs, only 2,000 are in service, 8,000 are mothballed (and some sold off piece by piece) and nearly all are several hundred years old and only periodically updated. A few are made each year mostly as politics and keeping the skills around. In their first real fight, they lose dozens of SDs to light fleet elements due to incompetent commanders and their intended victims having been continuously upgrading their hardware for over twenty years. Oh, Crap!.
    • Baron High Ridge and Edward Janacek started pushing the Manticoran Navy down this path between Oscar Saint-Just's death and the restarting of the Manticore-Haven War, despite Honor and Earl White Haven's best efforts to the contrary.
  • Dark Piper by Andre Norton:
    "So be it—" That was Lugard once more, but he sounded very tired. "'And when Yamar lifted up his voice, they did not listen. And when he cried aloud, they put their hands to their ears, laughing. And when he showed them the cloud upon the mountains, they said it was afar and would come not nigh. And when a sword glinted in the hills and he pointed to it, they said it was but the dancing of a brook in the sun.'"
    The Cry of Yamar! How long had it been since anyone had quoted that in my hearing? Why should anyone on Beltane? Yamar was a prophet of soldiers; his saga was one learned by recruits to point the difference between civilian and fighting man.
  • Humans on Earth in Dan Simmons's Illium. It's taken to the extreme by the fact that they're not even in charge, but rather being baby-sat by a bunch of robots, so that they don't have to know how to do anything. By the end, they're having to learn how to fight again.
  • According to the Muqaddimah, a 14th-century Arabic text by historian Ibn Khaldun, this is an important factor in civilizations' decline. The theory is something like this: Early generations of a city have a strong sense of community and an ability to defend themselves because they're not far removed from dwelling outside a city. The later generations become complacent, relying on the city instead of each other, and either don't see a threat coming or can't deal with it. Changes in the rulership of Islamic Spain, in which a decadent dynasty of Umayyads was replaced by a group of religiously zealous desert dwellers from North Africa, were almost certainly an influence on Ibn Khaldun's theory.
  • In Harry Potter, Harry has trouble convincing the Wizarding World that Voldemort has returned because the Wizarding World really doesn't want to believe it. They spend a great deal of time and effort smearing Harry and Dumbledore, time and effort they could have spent preparing for the Death Eaters. By the time the Ministry finally can't deny the reality of Voldemort's return any longer, it's far too late.
    • It's lampshaded by Fred and George in Half-Blood Prince when they tell Harry a good amount of their sales come from the Ministry buying in mass what were supposed to be joke hats with protective spells, but were being used for protection as a number of their Auruors had no idea how to cast protective charms.
  • In Vladimir Vasilyev's Wolfish Nature duology, the Alternate History dog-humans are masters of genetic engineering. In distant past, they have managed to breed out the so-called "wolf gene", which allowed one to kill without remorse. Now, killings are so rare that cops aren't prepared to deal with murderers (who are deranged psychopaths). Anyone who kills is likely to go insane, and nations, no longer able to wage wars, have taken the spy game up a notch. Special agents are the only ones trained to kill, and even then extensive psychological therapy is necessary after the fact. Then the world finds out about an isolated enclave of unmodified "wolves". The wolves reveal that they were abducted by an alien empire prior to the Bio-Correction (the removal of the wolf gene) to be used as mercenaries in interstellar wars and have returned after the end of their tour of duty to find a world of pussies, totally unprepared if Earth happens to become the target of an alien race. The ending reveals that the Bio-Correction was the cover story for a massive PR campaign to convince people they're incapable of killing, making it a case of Clap Your Hands If You Believe.
  • This brought about the fall of Kontovar in The War Gods. The Council of Ottavar took so much faith in the ability of the Emperor's crown to detect dark magic that they never bothered devising any alternative methods to do so. Unfortunately, over time, the Emperors decided that the side effects of using that particular crown (mind-reading) meant that it should only be used on certain ceremonial occasions. When the dark wizards figured this out, they were able to gather and plan so long as they closed up shop shortly before said ceremonial occasions. This allowed them to grow strong enough that they were eventually able to steal the crown, at which point they could operate freely.
  • In Space Cadet (Heinlein), Matt has a conversation with Lieutenant Thurlow, who complains that civilians seem to be unaware of just how unusual sustained peace is and how fragile it is because the Patrol has been keeping the peace for a century. Everyone else seems to think peace is now the natural order of things and that the Patrol is just a waste of taxpayer money.
  • At the start of The Godfather, the Corleones have been the undisputed head of the New York Mafia for ten years. As a result of not having faced any real challenges to their power in ten years (Or any challenges period for five, thanks to WWII), they end up being caught totally off guard when a rival family actually does challenge their primacy.
  • In The Marvellous Land of Snergs, the King's army is ill-suited to find and rescue two kidnapped children because the realm had been peaceable and secure for a long while.
  • Star Wars: The High Republic: The galaxy is in an unprecedented era of peace, push farther into the Outer Rim and building great works to unite and improve the lives of all. Then a group of pirates cause a disaster that threatens an entire star system, and from there declare war on the entire Republic. It's repeatedly stated that the only reason the Nihil are any threat whatsoever is because the Republic has greatly reduced their military might. That being said, the issues that often come with this trope ("We were stupid to dedicate money to civilian projects rather than prepare for war") are defied. The books have the clear message that yes, the Republic is unprepared for this level of aggression, but it's not their fault that the Nihil are a bunch of anarchist assholes who hate the Republic for trampling on their freedoms to raid and pillage the Outer Rim.
  • In Watchers of the Throne, Tieron opines that the nobles of Terra have gotten so used to hearing about wars and conflicts in distant, unseen parts of the galaxy, they learned to tune it out as background noise. As a result, they are caught completely unprepared when war comes to their doorstep.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andromeda starts with a Nietzschean rebellion with a fleet of 10,000 warships attacking the Commonwealth. While the High Guard fleet numbers ten times that much, those ships are spread out all over the three galaxies that are part of the Commonwealth. Additionally, the Commonwealth hasn't had a real war in over a millennium. In fact, Hunt not using Nova Bombs to obliterate the entire Nietzschean fleet is seen as further proof that the Commonwealth softens people. By the time the final big battle of the rebellion takes place, the Commonwealth is down to about 100 warships.
    • There's also the fact that Hunt had a Nietzschean on his own ship serving as his second in command, attempting to take over his ship in a mutiny. With the Nietzscheans being a part of the Commonwealth and serving on many of their ships, it is highly unlikely that such incidents were isolated to a single ship.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Commander Adama believed this of the Colonials, forty years after the Cylon War. And he didn't just mean in terms of military strength and readiness to fight: he meant morally, as the Colonies had forgotten the reasons behind the war and their responsibilities to the Cylons. You know how this ends.
  • The episodes "Setup" and "Countdown" on Castle involve a terror plot to unleash a dirty bomb in the middle of New York City. However, when Castle and Beckett start following the trail of clues from the murder that originally turned them onto the plot, they discover the whole scheme isn't the act of foreign radicals but homegrown terrorists trying to create the illusion it was perpetrated by outsiders. The real terrorists are disenfranchised military veterans who believe that America gives no regard to those who sacrifice themselves abroad while life continues on like normal at home. Angry that neither the citizens nor government care anymore about the issues that originally mobilized them, the terror cell plots to detonate a bomb while planting individuals with the ethnic background that people would "expect" to find at the site of such an incident in order to spur a new wave of sentiment akin to the period following September 11th.
  • In the original series Doctor Who episode "The Invasion Of Time,'' the Time Lords take their indestructible force field so much for granted that they really have no other defenses (or at least none that are up to fighting Sontarans.) Naturally, the force field gets breached.
  • Dominion: David Whele feels this way about Vega, saying that the city is so well defended that its people have become soft and begun to forget what a threat the angels pose to their existence. To the point that he has a captured angel brought into the Jubilee to be slaughtered, just to remind people of the danger... and when this results in a rampage and angelic attack on the city, he still sees things as a win, since people now remember the true nature of the situation they're in.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Galadriel argues with Elrond about abandoning her quest to hunt down Sauron, and she tells him Elves becoming so content and blind to a possible return of Sauron might cost them dearly in the future.
  • The Power (2023): rbandox, an online anti-feminist, says men have grown weak due to quality of life improving, with women taking their "rightful" power away increasingly, and says it caused them evolving the skein. He calls on men to "retake" their power by any means necessary, and has a significant following.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation was a good example of this. In the words of sfdebris, the Federation had grown arrogant in its beliefs; exploration was their main goal and they believed that they were prepared for anything. Then Q appeared and put them in their place, introducing them to the Borg in "Q Who", forcing Picard to acknowledge that they're not ready for everything that's out there. Picard even tells Guinan at the end of the episode that the Federation may have needed "a kick in our complacency". Then a little over a year later the Borg proceeded to wipe out a 40-ship fleet with a single vessel.
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sisko points out that in the Federation, you can look out your window and see paradise, but that it's easy to be a saint in paradise. Having lived so long in "paradise", the Federation can no longer properly identify with the Maquis, individuals who have lived for years in a demilitarized zone under constant threat of a potential Cardassian invasion and with minimal support from the Federation. The people in Starfleet Command think of the Maquis as being no different than normal Federation citizens, while the Maquis hold the Federation and Starfleet in contempt, with one member of the group saying that the Federation is worse than the Borg.
  • Ultraman Decker begins seven years after the events of [1], and no kaiju attacks have happened since. GUTS-Select has disbanded and their arsenal has been automated, but TPU teacher Taiji Murahoshi worries that something might happen again and they might need to be bailed out by another Ultraman. Sure enough, the Spheres soon arrive to start an Alien Invasion, quickly disabling the automated defenses and sealing off the planet from the rest of the Solar System despite getting help from the new titular hero. Cue Downer Beginning.
  • In The Walking Dead, the people of Alexandria seem to believe that their walls will always protect them from the outside world, be it from walkers or other humans. Rick and his group are shocked by how blase they are, immediately trying to find ways to train Alexandrians, fortify the walls, and scout surrounding areas for threats. This complacency leads to the Wolves' successful attack and a herd of walkers breaking through the walls.

  • Midnight Oil has this as a recurring theme. In particular, "Power and the Passion" on the apathy of their fellow citizens, and "Beds are Burning" on long-ignored Aboriginal human rights.
  • System of a Down's songs revolve around this theme while exposing issues such as government oppression, environmentalism, and war. Some examples from their second album Toxicity include "Forest" and "ATWA", about the destruction of the environment and our blind eye toward it; "Prison System" and "Needles", both of which straddle the desperation to get drugs with the reality of the occlusive prison system; and "Toxicity" and "Psycho", which discuss Attention Deficit Disorder and how medication ruins youth, in their mind.
    • Their 2005 albums Mezmerize/Hypnotize have the song "Sad Statue", which is about how we may be unwilling to accept that we are the final generation of civilization as we know it, in the wake of our own decadence.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The territorial system had made many promoters well off. The rise of the National Wrestling Alliance had made even those who weren't even particularly good businessmen millionaires. Then the availability of cable television and a price drop in VHS tapes dealt two blows to business, allowing easier viewing to events outside of a given territory. Promoters generally drug their feet on adapting to the changing market. Vince McMahon Jr. took advantage of this weakness by publicly exposing kayfabe in an attempt to reduce his operating costs and set out to conquer the territories. The promoters, for their part, were more concerned with protecting the millions they already had rather than protecting the business that let them earn that money, not trusting each other enough to truly organize against McMahon.
  • Through boxing's rise from a sport of questionable legitimacy to a national phenomenon, pro wrestling promoters actively fought to stay relevant, especially in the USA. As the sport of mixed martial arts began to establish itself in the US, promoters largely ignored it. In other regions, MMA and pro wrestling had more interconnected developments, resulting the latter's audience not being so heavily siphoned off. The Inoki Genome Federation, which became the largest MMA promotion in Japan, continued to happily showcase pro wrestling matches in between MMA bouts.
  • The general consensus is that this is the main problem with the WWE. With the closure of WCW, they've had a monopoly on mainstream wrestling in the US, their only viable competition being a struggling promotion in Florida that's currently on the verge of going out of business, and a string of indy shows that have neither their resources nor even a fraction of their name recognition, along with control over the most famous and popular talent in North America. This put them under the impression that they can do whatever the hell they want since casual wrestling fans have nowhere else to go, hardcore fans will stick by no matter how bad it is and smarks will stick around to mock and ridicule them for it. In recent years, however, this mentality has caused problems, most notably a steady decline in ratings after RAW went three hours, over-exposing fans to the mediocre writing they've been churning out for years, along with putting the same guys over and over again, turning off many people from watching. WWE seems to have noticed this problem and started relying on part-time performers. While that worked for a little while, it fostered a growing resentment among fans on how many of their favorite stars who they want to get over losing TV time to make way for these part-timers. It all came to a head at the 2014 Royal Rumble, where a returning Batista, ring rust and all, won the whole thing while fan favorite Daniel Bryan wasn't even in the damn match, consequently getting Dave booed out of the building. Coupled with the fact that the only guy the fans would've accepted as an acceptable substitute for winning it, CM Punk, lost thanks to someone who was already eliminated and then legit quit the company the day afterwards, and you had the fans borderline rioting to put Bryan in the main event of WrestleMania that year. The trend has continued several times since then, with the decline reaching new lows not seen since 1997 (when RAW was getting trounced by Nitro), putting the WWE into panic mode.

  • In The Bible, this happens to Israel over and over again. At first they would strictly adhere to God's instructions and laws but over time would fall more and more into decadence and idol worship so God would send one of the neighboring empires to defeat Israel and take them into slavery. The Israelites would then turn back to God, beg forgiveness, and ask for his help and so God would deliver them from their troubles. They'd then adhere to God's laws but would go back to idol worshiping and so God would send another empire to deal with them get the picture. It happens so often that the Book of Judges is nothing but stories of this.

    Video Games 
  • Endemic to Muslim dynasties in Crusader Kings 2. To model the volatile changes that took place in the middle-east and to prevent the Muslims from becoming a Game-Breaker all Muslim dynasties suffer from the 'decadence' mechanic. Decadence steadily increases as your dynasty's number does and reduces your tax income and your soldiers' morale as long as you're not expanding through holy wars and just sitting still having more and more children. At a high enough decadence, your realm will be invaded by a massive revolt of an up-and-coming new dynasty gunning to replace you, which will also release most of your vassals.
  • Destiny: The Darkness believes this of everyone else. Its antipathy towards the Traveler is rooted in the belief that the civilizations it uplifts, guided to a golden age of peace and prosperity, are in reality suffering a living death, stagnant and pampered, left unprepared to face the harsh reality that the universe is a dog-eat-dog world in which only the strong are allowed to survive. It therefore takes satisfaction in bringing reality to their doorstep and seeing every civilization made complacent by the Traveler destroyed, viewing each one as a cancer to be cut from the universe to restore the natural order. Never mind that such civilizations are sometimes exceedingly well defended thanks to their new technology and that the Darkness is a Sentient Cosmic Force with an unfair advantage. Humanity, incidentally, was the latest species to receive such a treatment.
  • Played for laughs in Destroy All Humans! 2 when Orthopox laments that their firepower isn't as overwhelming as they need because after they were done conquering the Furons began putting funding in trivial things such as poverty, education and health-care.
  • Following the centuries that have passed between the Fourth Blight and the Fifth in Dragon Age: Origins, most people of Thedas have forgotten the dangers posed by the Darkspawn. As a result, the public support of the Grey Wardens has deteriorated and the new Blight catches almost everyone with their pants down. In a subversion, however, the Fifth Blight is ended by the Player Character's efforts within a year after it began, before it even has a chance to affect more than one nation, going down as the shortest one on record. Whether this will lead to even more complacency regarding Darkspawn remains to be seen.
  • Dragon Quest: The stated reason why the Alefgard's soldiers were defeated so easily by the Dragonlord is that the long years of peace since the defeat of Zoma had made the people weak.
  • In Far Cry 5, the Project at Eden's Gate cult ("peggies" for short) often cite this as a reason to join them. They offer a back-to-the-land refuge from the modern world, which they see as making humanity weak and stupid. Jacob Seed, the Big Bad's older brother and militia leader, is particularly insistent on this.
  • The Endwalker expansion of Final Fantasy XIV reveals an ancient civilization grew complacent, which aided in their demise. The Ancients, which is what the current day Asicans are, held a peaceful life for eons and never got to experience any kind of major troubles. After Meteion began to sing her Song of Oblivion, the world suffered from meteor strikes, water drying up, the lands cracking open, and monsters attacking everyone. Rather than trying to find a way to stop the event, the Ancients decided to sacrifice 75% of their population to create Zodiark, a godly being that could stop and reverse the apocalypse so that everything could go back to how things were. They eventually planned to perform a third sacrifice of the new lives that were born after the apocalypse to revive their sacrificed loved ones. Venat, who tried and failed to convince her people to fight on and not run away from the problem, took matters into her own hands by becoming a godly being herself and sundered Zodiark and the world into fourteen pieces (thirteen reflections and the main world) so that Zodiark's power couldn't be misused any further and gave people the chance to overcome their weakened state so that they can eventually stand up to Meteion.
  • The Galaxy Angel gameverse has this in the second game. The Transbaal Empire rose from the ashes of the Eden civilization, which collapsed after the Chrono Quake six centuries ago, but Noah suggests that the period of peace made the Empire forget about the threat posed by the Valfask (a race of galactic conquerors who play The Long Game), and at one point she says to the protagonists "Just because there is no war, it doesn't mean you shouldn't sharpen your blade".
  • This is pointed out at least three times in Knights of the Old Republic 1 & 2.
    • This is also what Darth Malgus tells the viewer as he narrates the Deceived trailer for The Old Republic. Given how absolutely unprepared the Republic and Jedi were for the Sith Empire's reemergence and assault on Coruscant, he seems to have a decent point.
    • And yet, despite everything that happened to them, the Jedi and Republic get themselves back in shape within a generation, kick Sith ass all over the Galaxy, and reclaim a lot of their lost glory. It gets to the point where the Sith, suffering from inherent problems in their own society, are barely hanging on to power by the time Rise of the Hutt Cartel starts.
  • League of Legends: Volibear believed his people had become soft and complacent in their years of peace and was scolded by his tribe's elders for saying they should return to their war-like roots. But after he receives a vision in which his complacent race is slaughtered by Lissandra and her horrors, he goes back to the tribe, slaughters the village elders, becomes the leader, and begins to whip his race back into shape.
  • Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver: Believing himself invincible, Dumah was caught unawares by a human assault, his clan decimated and Dumah himself speared to his throne and left Only Mostly Dead for centuries.
  • This is a major element of the Mass Effect saga. It's plainly shown that Citadel Space's economy is ridiculously powerful, and could make a mighty war armada and pull off unprecedented weaponized research if it was turned towards that purpose.note  But as it has been 1,500 years since the last galactic war (every conflict since then being minor stuff like counter-insurgency, pirate suppression, or squashing the occasional rogue state), Citadel Space is borderline demilitarized compared to how strong it could be. The Citadel races desperately want to believe everything's still going fine - the Rachni are a memory, the Krogan are irrelevant, the Geth have been defeated... and they refuse point-blank to acknowledge the return of the Reapers. Only the humans, energetic newcomers to the galactic scene, are prepared to acknowledge the existence and terrible threat of the Reapers... And that only lasts until the sequel, when humanity's increased influence on galactic affairs has led to them becoming just as complacent as the others.
    Kaidan: I can't blame them, though. They've had over a thousand years of peace. Who'd want to believe that's over?
    • Matriarch Aethyta tried to convince the Asari to take a more active and militant stance in the galaxy, as opposed to their largely pacifist approach. She eventually gave up on reform after her proposal to construct new Mass Relays was mocked.note 
      • The Asari example goes even deeper when it's revealed they possessed a fully functional Prothean beacon. Rather than making full use of it to better their race and the galaxy, they used it only to keep a slight technological lead on the other races. The complacency is made even clearer since this is learned only after the Reapers have invaded Thessia despite the Asari having plenty of time to reveal it before that point.
  • A common in-universe criticism of the citizens of Neo Arcadia in the Mega Man Zero series. After countless years of Maverick-related disasters ravaging the planet, humans are finally living in peace with all their needs attended to, but at the expense of reploids being oppressed as second-class citizens, branded as Maverick and disposed of whenever they pose a threat to the status quo as humans are fed a steady stream of propaganda and kept ignorant of what's really going on. Once Dr. Weil takes the reigns, Neo Arcadia becomes even more oppressive to the point that not even humans are safe, prompting a caravan of humans to try and flee to Area Zero, the other last habitable place on Earth, and after the city's destruction and Weil's death, humans and reploids are finally able to broker peace without one oppressing the other.
  • This is a major theme of Persona 5, wherein the Japanese population has grown complacent and uncaring of the world around them. People who are seen as "deviants" are ostracized, while the general public is only concerned with keeping order. This is illustrated by the Prison of Regression in the depths of Mementos, where the public's collective subconscius has locked itself into a massive prison, preferring to stay safe under tyranny than to make choices for themselves. Conversations with the prisoners show their disillusionment with life, and their belief that nothing they do can cause things to change.
  • In Star Trek Online, this is the reason why the Klingon B'Vat wants to initiate a Forever War between the Klingon Empire and the Federation - he believes the Empire will grow stagnate without a proper foe to fight and what better foe than the one they usually butted heads with for decades prior?

  • Alpha in Akaelae comments that due to the council whittling away the space navy, he can't do anything to help Celina escape. Not that it stops Celina returning on her own. Expect there to be further repercussions in the future as well.
  • The First Dalek Empire has a serious issue with this (increased dependency on computers and genetic engineering to make the race more subservient to the will of the Golden Emperor), to the degree their top Military Maverick is willing and able to defect and ultimately steal away two complete armies by sheer force of charisma and brute intellect to create his own Empire to challenge the stagnation of the First - the Second Empire of the Daleks...
  • In Girl Genius Dr Tarsus Beetle, Tyrant of Beetleburg is universally acknowledged as the greatest clank engineer of his generation. Unfortunately, he failed to take into account that later generations would use his designs as the starting point for their own work. Thus, when he tried using them to rebel against Klaus, he was trying to fight state-of-the-art clanks with models that were thirty years out of date, and the obsolete models quickly lost.
  • In Tim Eldred's authorized Star Blazers webcomic, Earth's enemy-turned-ally Desslok has been actively defending us from outside threats for years. He tells Wildstar that he's ambivalent about the arrangement, not because he bears Earth any lingering ill will at this point, but because he believes it's unhealthy for a society to have no challengers to face.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force Go, the Cathurians says they have become 'domesticated' due to peace when faced by the Mantidons. Chiro and the Hyperforce reteach them to be warriors.
  • In an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), The Turtles easily defeat several Foot Ninja which caused them to get swelled heads. Splinter scolds the turtles for their overconfidence and forces them to switch weapons to teach them a lesson.
    • Splinter and the turtles are hit with this in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Master Splinter believed that the clan did not face any serious threats, believing that Baron Draxum died after their first encounter and that the Foot Clan disbanded ages ago. As a result, he fell out of training and didn't seriously train his sons. This came back to bite them in a big way when both reemerged years later.
  • In the second season premiere of The Dreamstone, "The Nightmare Stone", the heroes are celebrating their victory over Zordrak last season finale, despite the Dream Maker's worries he might have recovered. Sure enough, while everyone is partying, Zordrak returns to Viltheed with a new trinket and re-recruits his army, leading to a successful invasion from his nightmare-bringing Argorribles on the Land of Dreams.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "To Change a Changeling", this is Pharynx's issue with the state of the Changelings after the defeat of Queen Chrysalis. During her reign, while certainly harsh and evil, every changeling was a proper soldier that could make themselves a danger to an average pony at any time. But now under his brother Thorax's more benevolent and peaceful rule, changelings no longer want to fight and are too out of practice when they need to (Pharynx himself being the only exception). As such, he's angry at the fact he seems to be the only one who cares about their security anymore and that everyone else is seemingly too cowardly to help him fight off the maulwurf that's coming to their hive.
  • A major theme in Transformers: Animated is how the Autobots have become complacent and stiflingly bureaucratic after their victory over the Decepticons in the Great Offscreen War, leaving them ill-prepared for the major comeback Megatron begins setting up once he gets back in the game. Ultra Magnus - to his credit - is smart enough to realize this once he receives sufficient proof of it from Optimus and his team on Earth and begins taking action to get the Autobots back into fighting shape... only to promptly be assassinated by a Decepticon spy that had been embedded into their intelligence agency for decades thanks to their complacency, allowing Sentinel Prime to take command and drive things downhill fast.