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Writer Revolt

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"Anyone who can't make money off of Sports Night should get out of the money-making business."

Writers and directors get a lot of demands made of them. Not only is there Executive Meddling but once a show develops an audience, the fans will probably have their own ideas of what they want to see.

And sometimes the writer gets sick of it.

Writer Revolt happens when the writer gets sick of the demands being made of them and subverts them. They might start their attack by torpedoing ships. But go too far and fans will stop supporting a show that attacks them, and that's the end of the writers' jobs. And sometimes this is what they wanted all along.

Not to be confused with show writers actually going on strike. Compare Biting-the-Hand Humor, Take That, Audience!, Artist Disillusionment, and Wag the Director. May lead to Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • It's a commonly held fan belief that The End of Evangelion was a subversion of the ending fans wanted for the series, as Hideaki Anno's middle finger towards both the fanbase and those who were dissatisfied with the show's original ending. While this may be true in regards to the ''tone'' of the ending, it seems likely that the events themselves unfolded according to the scenario — err, that is to say, as intended by the writers.
  • The Gundam franchise has a long and storied history with this trope.
    • Yoshiyuki Tomino, the creator of the original Mobile Suit Gundam and its sequels, has a habit of doing this. The original Gundam was supposed to be a toy ad for an older elementary-school demographic. He turned it into, basically, "Ur-BSG with a more coherent plot". Let's not even discuss what he did with Space Runaway Ideon, although he was more directly responsible for that series; its Downer Ending is still pretty much a giant middle finger to his bosses.
    • Tomino also plotted a director revolt against Sunrise and Bandai with his Victory Gundam, making it his single darkest Gundam show. As a part of his rebellion against the two said companies' merchandise interest at the expense of several plot elements in his Gundam series, he even created a motorcycle-like Zanscare battleship as an irony whilst the main stage of the show was meant to be Earth. The high character death rate along with Katejina Loos' sudden Face–Heel Turn also have things to do with Tomino's rage.
    • On a less severe note, Tomino has also admitted that the frequently ridiculous names for both Mobile Suits and human characters were a result of him seeing just how stupid he could make the names and still get them approved.
    • When G Gundam was originally created, Bandai wanted the plot to be a simple story about super robots fighting each other in a worldwide competition. Instead, Yasuhiro Imagawa created a series where the tournament was simply a backdrop for Domon to meet allies and fight his enemies, while the real plot was that several nations tried to gain control of the Devil Gundam, a super-powerful robot capable of dominating the world. This also led to some of the most memorably ridiculous designs in mecha history, such as a windmill gundam.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing director Masashi Ikeda said in an Animerica interview that, while not wholly against it, he hadn't intended any romance between the characters because there were more important things going on. The primary writing staff, however, seems to ship Heero / Relena very heavily, especially in the numerous manga spinoffs like Battlefield of Pacifists and Blind Target. Frozen Teardrop even ends with them engaged and planning to start a family.
  • When the first installment of the Galaxy Angel video games was delayed for a long time, BROCCOLI was fenced in with nowhere to go but Adaptation Decay for the still-scheduled anime. They decided to throw the whole thing out and turn the Galaxy Angel anime into a Gag Series that had nothing to do with the plot of the games and sometimes contradicted it.
  • This might have happened at the end of the Cell saga in Dragon Ball Z. Akira Toriyama wanted Cell's second form to play a large role in the story, but his editor thought the design was ugly and told Toriyama to hurry up and have Cell change into his final form. Toriyama complied, and second-form Cell didn't get to do much besides act as a punching bag for a powered-up Vegeta before transforming again. Then, during the final battle of the saga, Cell reverted to his second form, and it was in this form that he made his largest impact on the story: killing the main character Goku by self-destructing.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi's gradual Genre Shift from Harem Series to Shonen Fighting Series is a direct result of Writer Revolt in action — Ken Akamatsu wanted to create an action manga, but the execs wanted him to do another harem series like his widely successful Love Hina. When the execs decided to try to take away all the rights to the work, including the copyright itself, Akamatsu opted to Torch the Franchise and Run, ending the series abruptly with a Distant Finale, dealing with the Big Bad offscreen, Ship Sinking the four most popular pairings for the main character, and basically making any kind of continuation near-impossible. It still got a successor in the form of UQ Holder!, though.
  • Pokémon: The Original Series: James' voice actor Eric Stuart was angry that 4Kids wouldn't be paying voice actors for commercials anymore, so he hid a back-masked message in episode 130, where James yells backward: "Leo Burnett and 4Kids are the devil!"
  • Early in Ajin's run, the initial writer quit and the artist took over the story. This led to a 180 turn in Kei, the lead character's, personality. Initially he was a pretty moral guy in a world of a lot of complete bastards and would try to avoid hurting people with his powers whenever he could. But after the artist took over, he became a sociopath who only really cared about his own survival over everything else. Fortunately, it didn't feel like an overly gratuitous change as there were elements in the original writer's story that lent themselves to the change, such as Kei's sister disliking and distrusting Kei even though he planned to become a doctor to cure her illness. That got used with her disliking him because despite him being kind and affable on the surface, she could see through it and see that he was really becoming a doctor for his own benefit, not hers.
  • The writers behind Magical Princess Minky Momo, frustrated with the toy company backing the show canceling it due to poor toy sales, had Minky Momo get run over by a toy truck and die.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers (Jason Aaron) featured an extremely Gonk, refrigerator-shaped, rage-driven She-Hulk that more resembled her cousin than herself. As Jen had recently come off of an extremely brutal Audience-Alienating Era where that exact thing happened and was resolved, this was panned by basically everyone, especially other Marvel writers. Her appearances in Jessica Jones, Marvel Comics #1000, and her own one-shot all flat-out ignored Aaron's interpretation, while Gwenpool Strikes Back featured "Fem-Hulk" with an unsubtle complaint about being forced to depict her as such. In her appearance in Immortal Hulk, the title character points out how they're not so different these days as a Break Them by Talking moment. In Empyre, she acquires a hammer whose special amber, in combination with new meditation techniques learned from the Cotati survivors, allows her to shift into a much more feminine form, if still not her original muscular incarnation, that she says has all the strength of her "Fem-Hulk" form, but far greater intelligence and control. (Though this was revealed to be a Cotati wearing her skin, though it regretted pulling that one off in its final moments.) In the Immortal She-Hulk one shot, it reveals she's STILL in trauma over the Grey She-Hulk ordeal, and also dealing with the fact she may in fact be immortal, though Al Ewing showed her as far more in control of herself despite the Hulk-speak than Jason Aaron has done.
  • Peter David's original run on the Hulk comic, from 1987 to 1998, ended when Marvel demanded he bring back the Savage Hulk. He was replaced by Joe Casey, who made changes, but put in as little of the Savage Hulk as he could (mostly just making him mute), and was on record as saying he respected David's run. Casey was never meant to last long on the title and was for the most part a fill-in writer until John Byrne could relaunch the title, which might've been why he decided to revolt like he did.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • Mark Millar made a big success with Ultimate X-Men. Marvel proposed he write a spin-off comic, Ultimate Wolverine, but Millar wanted to make the Ultimate The Avengers instead. On the other hand, Kurt Busiek, the writer of the Avengers at the time, did not want that to happen, as he feared that the regular Avengers would be left under the shadow of this new comic book. As the Ultimate universe was turning into a Cash-Cow Franchise, so badly needed by Marvel to get rid of the risk of bankruptcy, they allowed Millar to work with the Avengers. And yet, the new team got a different name, as Busiek requested, and was named "The Ultimates". Still, it was not enough for him, who resigned from writing the Avengers as a result.
    • Parodied in a two-issue crossover in Ultimate Spider-Man where Jean Grey inadvertently swaps Peter's consciousness with Wolverine. Not only did both issues show Brian Michael Bendis apologizing for the storyline and berating the man who came up with it when Jean shows up and fixes it, Cyclops says that the whole thing seems ridiculous and unbelievable. Then Brian Michael Bendis outright states "Even I couldn't stretch this over more than two issues."
  • Joe Quesada, (then) head editor at Marvel Comics, stated that the short-lived but critically-adored series Nextwave was not in continuity. Unfortunately for him, every writer since has written related stories, plot summaries, or character histories as though it were. Particularly funny as Warren Ellis (the original writer) wrote the series on the assumption that it was out of continuity as well and said as much in interviews. (Quesada has been opposed by everyone who has ever worked for Marvel at some point, though he does tend to listen to all parties and thus why Marvel is more creatively diverse these days than it ever used to be, though the price — a lack of consistent continuity — is hefty.) Mighty Avengers (2013) eventually established Nextwave's canon status; the characters in question did form a team by that name, and the entire comic took place in an offbeat alternate universe that the Beyond Corporation of the core universe sent them to.
  • James Robinson's final issue of JLA drew attention from websites such as Bleedingcool for taking some very blatant shots at DC's then-upcoming New 52 reboot. The issue contains jabs at Batwing for getting his own title ahead of a number of DC's existing black superheroes, as well as a not-so-subtle dig at fans who criticized Robinson's run.
  • When Marvel fired Joey Cavalieri as editor of the Marvel 2099 line as a cost-cutting exercise, most of the writers quit in protest. The line limped on for a while before collapsing, and Marvel wrapped things up by getting Len Kaminski to write a one-shot, 2099: Manifest Destiny. Kaminski was the writer of Ghost Rider 2099, and the opening narration makes it quite clear whose side he's on:
    This world had itself a god once. Not a perfect one, there's not a one of 'em are, but this 'un was kind and honest, and knew more'n most about creatin'.
    Things were goin' pretty well for longer than they usually do, until the soulless credheads crawled in from the outer darks an' took over hereabouts. They drove our god and his loyal minions into the outer darks, and ain't nothing gone right since.
  • In the 1980s, there was a period where Marvel Comics decided that they would not have gays in comics and Northstar of Alpha Flight could not be gay, even though strong hints in that matter had already been dropped. note  Writer Bill Mantlo responded with a storyline revealing he was part fairy (technically, half Asgardian elf)note . Which is all the more hilarious when you consider that X-Men is all about equality for both different races and gay people.
  • Steve Gerber, creator of Howard the Duck, was writing two crossovers at the same time: one with Spider-Man and Howard for Marvel Comics and one with The Savage Dragon and Destroyer Duck for Image Comics. He got the idea of having the two parties meeting briefly in the shadows of a warehouse. Then he saw that Howard was scheduled to make appearances in some of Marvel's other comics, so he had the Savage Dragon / Destroyer Duck side of the meeting changed in that Howard gets himself cloned by a villain. In the confusion, one of the clones left the warehouse with Spidey (as seen in the Spider-Man side of the story, under the pretense that no cloning incident ever happened), while the real Howard is rescued by Savage Dragon and Destroyer Duck. The real Howard adopts the identity of "Leonard the Duck" (with his girlfriend Beverly Switzler likewise becoming "Rhonda Martini") and makes appearances in Image Comics and Vertigo Comics thereafter.
  • J. Michael Straczynski objected strongly to the content of One More Day, but was contractually obligated to write it and include the results Joe Quesada wanted (namely, the dissolution of Peter Parker and Mary Jane's marriage via Deal with the Devil). So, he threw in Aunt May saying that it was her time to go, and Peter should just let it happen; a little girl who appears to Peter and drops anvil-sized questions about what will happen if she never is; visions of his life without Mary-Jane, all of which are rather lacking; and the little girl showing back up after the deal is made, revealing that she was Mary-Jane's unborn daughter who will now never be and saying, in essence, "Wow, you really fucked this one up, didn't you?". She also called out Peter on being a constant Wangst machine and hinted that he had a belief that True Art Is Angsty. He also has Mephisto proclaim that a "small part of their souls will remember what you have lost", thus somehow implying whatever Peter and MJ become on the surface is just an extension of Mephisto's spell and that the real Peter and MJ are locked away, waiting for release.
    • A happy ending to the OMD/BND mess was lampshaded in MJ's speech about how "nothing could destroy the relationship", indicating that her deal with Mephisto is to ensure she can somehow remain close to him and break both pacts one day with an ace up her sleeve, as well as the wedding scene depicted in the Mary Jane TPB reprint of Parallel Lives (the annual containing the retconned wedding was not included in this TPB), indicating that a new version of the wedding will one day unfold with the pacts broken. A few months prior to OMD, during his conversation with an angel, Peter is told he and MJ will overcome everything and still have kids.
      • Said conversation with an angel or God, which happened in Sensational Spider-Man, could also be a take that at the upcoming storyline. Fittingly enough the annual for the same series, which came out soon before One More Day, was all about Peter and MJ's relationship.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Brian Michael Bendis set out to completely derail the BND era just as it was beginning by having Peter unmask in front of his secret Avengers teammates right after Marvel had taken great pains to hide Peter's identity again. A strong fan of Peter and MJ's marriage, Bendis went on to imply Jessica Drew remembered that he was married, with Peter denying it. How Jessica is aware isn't made clear.
    • A Deadpool/Spider-Man crossover that occurred shortly after established that thanks to his fourth wall awareness, Deadpool remembers the events of OMD. It also establishes that even he thinks it's stupid and that he uses it as an insult towards Spider-Man.
    "At least I don't have to make a Deal with the Devil to keep my supporting cast!"
    • When Tom DeFalco and Howard Mackie's 2009 Clone Saga redux was released as a trade paperback, it bore the title "The REAL Clone Saga". The redux, rather than try to amend the '90s Clone Saga so that it fits into the drastically altered BND timeline, simply tells a much happier, upbeat version of events where every character that was killed over the course of the saga SURVIVES. The story ending with Peter and MJ becoming proud parents is seen as another big "F You" to the 616 continuity.
    • Most of the Spider-Man writing team and editorial team behind The Clone Saga bailed in frustration because of the various mandates being handed down by the merchandise department and the editorial department constantly changing the story on them. One of them, Dan Jurgens, quit Sensational Spider-Man when the mandate came down that Ben would be revealed as the clone and Peter as the real one, feeling cheated that he wasn't writing the "real" Spider-Man.
  • When Dan Slott had May 'Mayday' Parker's family killed off in the Spider-Verse event, he swiftly began making Mayday more vengeful and bitter as she and her fellow Spiders faced a losing battle, going on to call the others assembled from across the multiverse "fakes" when her baby brother is abducted by the Inheritors, and that her dad was the "real one". This drew significant ire from fans and Ron Frenz in particular, who declared Slott was "no Roger Stern" and went on to point out damning continuity errors in Slott's take on Mayday. When the time came for the original creative team to tackle Mayday in a team-up book, Tom D and Frenz wasted no time at all in deliberately "adjusting" to Slott's writing style and not-so-subtly implying this Mayday was an alternative version as opposed to the one they worked on from 1998-2010. This has continued on into Mayday's backup stories during Secret Wars (2015), with Frenz even more incensed at the ending to Spider-Verse, where she takes up Peter's old costume and declares that she's Spider-Woman and that she's over it. Instead, everyone's still calling her "Spider-Girl", and she hasn't gotten over Peter's death. Finally, Marvel threw in the towel and gave in to fan demand, reviving Mayday's father in ''Spider-Gedddon', Mayday returned to her 2006-2010 appearance and reclaimed her Spider-Girl codename.
  • Geoff Johns pulled a very polite one when editor Dan Didio forced him to eliminate his two favorite characters, Superboy and Kid Flash, from the Teen Titans. Superboy was killed off for legal reasonsnote , while Kid Flash was aged up and became the new Flash (and was later killed off due to poor fan reaction). Johns continued to write the title, but the quality went downhill, and most of the stories seemed to be a meta-commentary on how much the book was missing. He wound up leaving after about a year of stories, and the title has never been the same. Interviews upon his departure made it clear that he would have still been on the title if the characters were still around. When fan reaction proved him right, Johns was commissioned to write the miniseries that brought both the characters back to life.
    • Also, killing Superboy was actually the lesser of two evils. Didio originally wanted to kill off Nightwing, the original Robin and one of DC's oldest and most prominent characters, in Infinite Crisis. Johns pulled off a literal writer revolt and refused to write that, substituting Superboy so that a BigThree legacy would still die and that DC would at least be able to kill two birds with one stone.
  • Robert Crumb, in response to the Ralph Bakshi animated feature adaptation of his character Fritz the Cat, killed Fritz off in one of his subsequent comics. That didn't stop producer Steve Krantz from making a sequel, The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat. This also led to a weird in-joke in Bakshi's Wizards: "They've killed Fritz!"
  • Near the end of his tenure on Fantastic Four in The '80s, Steve Englehart was shown the door for allegedly not being enough like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but the higher-ups gave him a few months to wrap things up. He wrote a story called "Dreamquest" under the alias of John Harkness, which had the FF captured by Aron, a member of the same alien race as Uatu the Watcher, and replaced with brain-washed, "action figure" duplicates that a curious Aron uses to recreate the early Lee/Kirby stories ("you want Lee and Kirby? I'll give you EXACTLY Lee and Kirby!"), regardless of the consequences to the modern Marvel Universe (such as torpedoing a nearly-completed Heel–Face Turn by the Mole Man, whom the fake FF attack without provocation, causing him to swear vengeance). Meanwhile, the stasis-imprisoned real FF have dreams that function as ultra-condensed versions of the stories that Englehart would have written; the highlight was a war between Doctor Doom and an impostor who believed he was Doom, in which both assembled teams of supervillains to fight on their sides. Once the real FF are freed, and Aron and his fakes vanquished, Franklin Richards goes to find "Harkness" to help fix the FF's now bad public image.
    Franklin: "Mr. Harkness, you're the writer on the FF comic book these days, and it would be nice if you could write a comic to let everyone know my daddy's really a good guy—and this was all a mistake."
    Englehart/Harkness: "I'll try. But it might take a better man than me to straighten out this mess."
    • Fortunately, the follow-up writer was Walt Simonson. Whether or not he's a better man than Englehart is up to you, but he was certainly a great creator in his own right.
    • In 2003, Mark Waid had reinvigorated the title with fans calling it the best run in years. They were thus shocked when it was announced Waid had been fired. It turned out Waid had refused to go along with then-Marvel publisher Bill Jemas' plan to have the FF lose their money, move to the suburbs and transform the book from sci-fi superheroics to a wacky dramedy. The fan backlash was so huge that Marvel quickly hired Waid back and the controversy may have played a part in Jemas himself leaving the company just a few months later.
    • At least one version of the team's creation revealed the entire idea was a revolt on Stan Lee's part as well. Supposedly, Lee was pressured by his publisher to Follow the Leader and write stories within popular genres at the time. Fed up with not writing stories that he wanted, Lee decided to quit the comic scene with a book that would be the Justice League of America clone that the publisher wanted (a competing superhero team book) but would be filled to the brim with Author Appeal. Cue the Marvel Universe.
  • Randy Studdard (the Nintendo Power employee who created Captain Nintendo - later reworked as Captain N: The Game Master) took this to the unlikely extreme of subtle Disproportionate Retribution. His boss wanted numerous changes, and though he negotiated down to just "turn the guy's girlfriend into a stronger character," he was inordinately offended by the idea of this re-write ("Saving fair damsels, is what heroes do. Especially saving the girlfriend!! But, no. Let’s just put this premise on the respirator in the ICU before it’s born..."), and retaliated by renaming the girlfriend "Tara Bates" - as he explained: "Tara was the home of Scarlett O’Hara (whom I consider the bitchiest character of all time) and Bates was the last name of Norman Bates of ran the Bates Motel in Psycho and he was, well, psycho."
  • Many of the Bat-family (or related) writers weren't thrilled to have their book derailed to deal with the storyline Death of the Family. Adam Glass (Suicide Squad) really didn't like doing it (and had to because of Harley Quinn), so he ended up re-writing some of the early events of the story to show that Harley was doing this unwillingly then jumped back into his storyline as if the tie-ins didn't occur. J.H. Williams (Batwoman) and Grant Morrison (Batman Inc.) outright refused to derail their storylines for this and, thus, had no part in it. Williams would revolt again, with even more fury, when DC pulled the major dick move of denying Batwoman and Maggie Sawyer their marriage, even though the two had been in a relationship for a good long while. Williams and the rest of Batwoman's creative team were so disgusted that they straight up quit, sending the comic into chaos as DC scrambled for a new creative team.
  • Following the event story Wrath of the First Lantern, Joshua Hale Fialkov was pinged to write both the Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns books, but would later leave the books due to "editorial not letting him tell the stories he wanted". It's still unclear if that included a rumor that Fialkov would've been mandated to kill off John Stewart (a major GL player and one of DC's most famous black characters; and that Fialkov resigned in protest of this), but currently the hero is safe, as the main Lantern in GLC under main Green Lantern writer Robert Venditti & Van Jensen. Red Lanterns (with Guy Gardner) eventually was assigned to Charles Soule.
    • As a nod to the massive controversy surrounding the leaked news of Stewart's supposedly-planned death, Venditti and Jensen's first issue opened with John triumphantly screaming "Sorry, I'm not dying today!" while taking down a group of bloodthirsty Durlans.
    • Similarly, the next writer of Action Comics following Grant Morrison's run, Andy Diggle, was given a large amount of publicity and buildup, but wound up leaving the book after only a few issues were written and leaving Scott Lobdell as the writer of both Action and sister title Superman. Both incidents have reignited scrutiny at DC for their editorial policies, especially after it was reported that the company would relax their numerous mandates at a major convention held in Memphis just a few weeks earlier to the announcements.
  • Tyroc, of the Legion of Super-Heroes, was added by Executive Meddling from editor Murray Boltinoff. The writers had been wanting to do a black character for years, but Boltinoff blocked any attempt to even show black people in crowd shots. Tyroc was introduced to explain this, claiming that all the black people in the DCU at the time were racial separatists living on an island that disappeared regularly. Mike Grell hated Tyroc's entire concept and deliberately gave him the dumbest design and power he could imagine (he can warp reality by screaming) before writing him out. Several artists have also stated that Tyroc's scream-based reality-bending powers with effects that were tied to specific screams were difficult to properly visualize, so they avoided drawing him whenever they could get away with it.
  • According to Louise Simonson, in the early 90s DC's Superman writers wanted to have Superman marry Lois Lane, which publisher Jeanette Khan vetoed because they weren't married in Lois & Clark. And then...
    We were a little disgruntled, and then as she closed the door, Jerry Ordway said what he always says, which was "Let's just kill him." And instead of laughing it off this time, we said "Yeah... Yeah! Let's just kill him!"
  • Similarly, Peter David, frustrated that an issue of X-Factor had been hijacked by a Bat Family Crossover, jokingly suggested for a story that Magneto could take the adamantium out of Wolverine. The end result was the storyline Fatal Attractions (Marvel Comics).
  • Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Unite: Archie, wanting to prove how serious they were with the event, instructed writer Ian Flynn to kill off at least one major character. Ian's response? Kill off Team Dark (Shadow the Hedgehog, Rouge the Bat, and E-123 Omega), a group of characters he knew wouldn't stay dead for long. He was right.
  • Black Panther: Black Panther's first ongoing was set in the isolationist African kingdom of Wakanda, and so naturally had a cast that was nearly entirely black. Editorial told writer Don McGregor to include more white characters. His response was to pit T'Challa against The Klan.
  • During the short-lived 2006 run of The Thing, Dan Slott wanted to have the Thing propose to Alicia Masters. The editors gave him the okay to do it, on the condition that the marriage has to be held in the main Fantastic Four series, which was being written by J. Michael Straczynski at the time. Slott's response is to simply not have the Thing propose at all. In fact, he waited twelve years until he became the writer of the main comic's Marvel: A Fresh Start relaunch to finally let the proposal happen.
  • The creation of Oracle was due to this. When Alan Moore was given the go-ahead to have Barbara Gordon crippled in The Killing Joke not long after the character decided to retire from heroics, this pissed off editor Kim Yale, as Barbara's paralysis was an afterthought to the story. This led John Ostrander, writer of Suicide Squad and Yale's husband, to reinvent her at Yale's request.
  • Grant Morrison writing Superman and the Authority was due to this - they had learned that Dan DiDio wanted to make Superman a far-right authoritarian figure and they approached Dan in wanting to mitigate the damage that could have happened. Thankfully, DiDio was tossed out soon after.

    Films — Animated 
  • Matt Stone reported that when making South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, every time the MPAA asked to cut something, they would re-submit the film with a replacement "ten times worse and five times as long". And they got away with some nasty stuff: for instance, the original subtitle was 'All Hell Breaks Loose', changed to the hidden penis joke. Also, this - though the horse was replaced with coprophilia in the movie.
  • When Disney executives changed the title of Basil of Baker Street to The Great Mouse Detective, the animation crew played a little joke by sending a memo in the name of president Peter Schneider announcing that all of Disney's animated classics will be retitled. This joke resulted in eggs on their faces when Jeffrey Katzenberg received the memo and thought Schneider was being serious, which led to Katzenberg ripping into Schneider, who then ripped into the animators. And then a stray copy wound up in the hands of the L.A. Times... and the fake titles ended up inspiring a category on Jeopardy!.
  • Craig McCracken intentionally made The Powerpuff Girls Movie Darker and Edgier than the show because he was unhappy with the way Cartoon Network had been marketing the series as purely a girl's show when it was really for all ages. He later regretted this, later admitting that movie ended up being too dark and serious to fit in alongside the series' usual loopy comedy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • During the making of Fight Club, the executives felt that Marla's line after she has sex with Tyler ("I want to have your abortion") was too offensive, and asked director David Fincher to change it. Fincher changed it to "I haven't been fucked like that since grade school" and refused to change it back. (Marla's portrayer, Helena Bonham Carter, is British and didn't know that "grade school" was the American equivalent of "primary school". She was, uh, "unhappy" when she found out what the line meant.) Also, the movie contains a great deal of product placement, nearly all of which is smashed, blown up, or otherwise vandalized over the course of the movie.
  • James Cameron performed a "Director Revolt" against Fox during the making of Avatar. Fox was concerned with the amount of "tree-hugging elements" present in the film and asked Cameron to tone down or eliminate them. Cameron responded by ramping them up.
  • "Producer Revolt" in action: Charlton Heston suggested that in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, his character would trigger the Doomsday bomb at the end of the movie to prevent the franchise from continuing. Fox president Dick Zanuck was reluctant in accepting... until the board of executives, fed up with Zanuck after years of costly bombs such as Doctor Dolittle and Hello, Dolly!, gave him the pink slip. Knowing that he was on the way out, he said "go ahead, use the bomb" (the series still continued, with prequels).
  • Small Soldiers has a rare in-universe example: early on, Larry Benson and Irwin Wayfair, two remaining toy designers of a recently acquired company present their ideas for a new toy line, one being the standard toy soldier-type (the Commando Elite), and the other being edutainment friendly, peaceful monsters (the Gorgonites). Their boss, Gil Mars, demands the two lines be combined, with the Gorgonites re-purposed as the Commando Elite's enemies, which they are... but Irwin kept the original background and characterization for the Gorgonites, effectively switching the hero and villain roles from what Mars intended even as the advertising insists otherwise.
  • In Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!, the director was specifically told he was not allowed to kill Jack Nicholson's character, the President. He responded to this demand by casting Nicholson in another role, casino boss Art Land, and both end up dying very ugly deaths (Art Land is squashed by a giant globe in his office when it's destroyed, and the President is impaled on a fake Martian arm.)
  • Sam Raimi was forced by Sony to include Venom, who he views as a Creator's Pest, in Spider-Man 3, taking a role originally meant to be played by Vulture. In retaliation, Raimi cast someone as different from comics Venom as possible in the role, and wrote him in an...unflattering manner.

  • Both Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Ian Fleming got fed up with writing about their most famous fictional characters, and attempted to kill them off - both were, of course, brought back by popular demand.
    • Doyle had Holmes go over the Reichenbach Falls with Moriarty. But because of the Disney Death manner of the fall, with no witnesses (Watson had been called away by a trick of Moriarty's), showing signs of a struggle but no bodies, Holmes was able to appear in Watson's living room several years later, having roamed the world under various aliases in the meantime.
    • Fleming was getting disenchanted with the Bond series, describing it as being very difficult to write about him. At the end of From Russia, with Love, Bond is poisoned, falling to the floor with the last lines but not quite dead yet. Since Fleming wasn't 100% sure he wanted to stop writing Bond, he left himself that out.
  • An editor told Bernard Cornwell (a writer of historical war fiction) to change a scene where an ensign died. He resented being told how to write, so he changed it... to be more depressing. And in a number of the books since, Cornwell has had an ensign killed off in worse and worse ways. For reference: this is Bernard Cornwell we're talking about. He's only one step away from Yoshiyuki Tomino: instead of killing off every named character and the entire universe, he'll simply kill the majority of the named characters and a lot of unnamed ones.
  • Older Than Radio: Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, was pressured to hook up Laurie and Jo by both fans and her editor. After divulging her disappointment in her fans to her journals since she felt that they were missing the point (she had actually intended for Jo to remain unmarried but happy and professionally successful), Alcott created the character Professor Fritz Bhaer as Jo's Big Brother Mentor and later love interest and hooked Laurie up with Jo's younger sister Amy, just to piss off the fans. ("I won't marry Jo to Laurie to please anybody"). Shipping has always been Serious Business, even without the Internet.
  • Isaac Asimov was told by Harold Gold, the editor of Galaxy Science Fiction, to include a woman in his novelette "The Martian Way." He therefore gave one of his male characters an insufferable, shrewish wife.
  • R.A. Salvatore tried and failed one of these in 1997, attempting to end his Legend of Drizzt series and write other stuff. He didn't have the copyright, so his publishers solicited a Drizzt manuscript from another author. Salvatore backed down, and as of this writing he's still writing Drizzt books even as they decline in quality.
  • Star Trek:
    • Writers doing Star Trek tie in novels had numerous rules they had to follow in the late eighties and early nineties. One of these is that regardless of how many books they write, they may not have their own continuing characters. Diane Duane, among other authors, carefully ignored this rule when writing her series of Trek novels and created her own supporting cast among the crew of the Enterprise, including Ensign Naraht (the first Horta in Starfleet) and K’t’lk/K’s’t’lk, an alien physicist resembling a glass spider.
    • In the last decade or so, starting with the Deep Space Nine relaunch, which continued the stories of the characters from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine from the finale, this restriction has lessened, especially following the new continuity movies making the 'prime' universe effectively a closed book in the eyes of those producing the new movies. There are now several ongoing series focused on mostly or entirely original characters. Most of the revolt against the publishers was focused against one man in particular - Richard Arnold, who vetted all novel proposals for the studio and demanded a strict lack of inter-novel continuity. Once he was let go, the restrictions went with him.
  • Due to the often draconian rules placed on the writers of the Ravenloft novels, and after getting asked for one revision one too many times, P.N Elrod wrote in a character named Tew Yssup (Wet Pussy) in I, Strahd: The War Against Azalin. Most readers thought it was childish.
  • H. P. Lovecraft was once asked to write a story as a ghostwriter for Zealia Bishop. He got an outline of what Zealia wanted. "There is an Indian mound near here, which is haunted by a headless ghost. Sometimes it is a woman". Lovecraft hated it because it sounded like a generic ghost story, but the outline was vague enough that he could apply a lot of license to it. What he ended up writing was The Mound, a story about an explorer discovering and living with an ancient race of subterranean immortals who worship Cthulhu.
  • Both played straight and averted by L. Frank Baum, creator of the Wizard of Oz-verse; he intended to end it after 1, 3, or 4-5 books, depending on which account you trust (Baum stated various numbers). He tried several times to end it and had to Retcon several times to write new books. Every time he tried to end the series or plant none-too-subtle hints in his books that he would like to stop now, please, he was swayed by the countless letters that would pour in from children, begging for just one more book. He continued writing on Oz right up to his death for fear of disappointing the children.
  • During the writing of So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, which was very different from the previous The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy novels, Douglas Adams found people kept saying "You should put a Zaphod bit in there" and he thought "But I don't want a Zaphod bit there." This eventually led to him adding the sarcastic suggestion in the text that anyone who didn't want to read the book he was writing could skip to the end, "which is a good bit, and has Marvin in it".
  • Back in the day, Invisible Monsters was refused by several publishers due to being "too disturbing". How did author Chuck Palahniuk respond to that? He wrote a even more disturbing novel: Fight Club. Ironically, that one was accepted.
  • The "Captain Nintendo" short story that later inspired Captain N: The Game Master was subject to some intense interference from the chief editor of Nintendo Power, including asking to make the girlfriend an Action Girl instead of a Damsel in Distress. The author conceded, but added a Take That! in said girlfriend:
    I also changed her name. To Tara Bates. Tara was the home of Scarlett O'Hara (whom I consider the bitchiest character of all time) and Bates was the last name of Norman Bates of ran the Bates Motel in Psycho and he was, well, psycho. Waay psycho. It was my own little act of defiance. Where did the inspiration for this name change come from? Hmmm. Now, let me think.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ugly Betty had a mild case of this during the final season after being cancelled but allowed a series finale; giving the writers pretty much a free card to do as they pleased, including giving the main gay characters bed and kiss scenes (One of them was even a kiss scene between teen boys, and no, not a couple of 30-year-olds playing teen boys, actual teen boys; and that quickly led to a rushed coming-out story).
  • Kings is a modern retelling of the story of King David. The executives, in hopes of hiding this, made a strict rule that the phrase "King David" never be spoken. In the last episode of season 1, David is referred to by Rev. Samuelson as "David Shepherd, son of Jesse, son of Judah." Not even "King David" could rival that phrase in obviousness.
  • Executives asked J. Michael Straczynski to include a "hot-shot pilot" character in Babylon 5. JMS did so, and as soon as the executive meddling evaporated, mercilessly killed him off and never looked back.
  • J. Michael Straczynski did it again in Crusade, a show notoriously killed by Executive Meddling. In one specific instance, he was asked to write in more sex. He did. One of the characters was revealed to be a total pervert, fascinated by sex between alien races. In one episode a clip is shown of a Pak'Ma'Ra engaged in doggy-style sex with a Drazi, something that is completely impossible, especially in the manner described, due to the actual locations of the reproductive organs presented as though in the same place as humans. They are not. The clip is even plot-relevant: it is used to distract some guards.
  • Heroes was originally required to include Nissan's latest model of car in a plot-relevant capacity each season. In season one, the Product Placement is played fairly straight, with Hiro and Ando's trusty Versa practically having more screen time than every other vehicle put together. However, season 2's hapless Rogue got only two or three shots in the premiere before being stolen from Claire Bennet in the second episode and appears later on as the vehicle of choice for smuggling illegal immigrants across the U.S. border. Meanwhile, Claire's father harped on the theft as a way to "compensate" for Claire's irresponsibility.
  • iCarly:
    • It's likely that “iGo Nuclear” is the result of being forced by Executive Meddling to create an episode with a Green Aesop. See the Broken Aesop entry to see how it turned out.
    • Rumors and theories persist that the episode "iKiss" was only written due to Executive Meddling, based on a few pieces of evidence including Dan include the skewering of Teen genre tropes with the "Kelly Cooper" skit, then doing the biggest one of all, the First Kiss.
  • Chris Morris, fed up with Michael Grade's frequent Executive Meddling with Brass Eye, inserted a NSFW subliminal message into the final episode. The DVD release has all the cuts reinstated but the subliminal, having served its purpose, is gone.
    • Namely, "Grade Is A Cunt".
  • In a scene in Moonlighting, David and Maddie were in a car, breaking the Fourth Wall with a discussion of how they couldn't get together because the drama would go out of the show, it would start to suck, they would lose viewers and be canceled before they knew it. This didn't stop it from happening, though.
  • Happy Days:
    • In the first season of Happy Days, the executives didn't want the Fonz wearing a leather jacket since they thought it made him look like a thug. Garry Marshall convinced them to allow him to wear it only when he was riding his motorcycle since it would then be a legitimate piece of safety equipment. Marshall then told the show's writers to never have a scene where Fonzie wasn't on his motorcycle, just having gotten off his motorcycle, or just about to get on his motorcycle.
    • One episode had a recurring police officer character hold such an idea. Richie and his pals vehemently try to disabuse the man of this notion. When that didn't work, they revealed their trump: they got the entire town to take up the fashion. Cue the entire main cast in leather jackets.
  • Arrested Development was frequently pushed around by Meddling Executives, which the writers usually expressed through dialog with the protagonists' customers.
    • During the first season, the network demanded a more formulaic episode, in which Michael would teach a lesson to his son, George Michael. The writers obeyed... but they called the episode "Pier Pressure", included a subplot about Michael's father teaching his children trivial lessons by traumatizing them thanks to a one-armed man and fake blood, made Michael's lesson a Stock Aesop (Drugs Are Bad), which they subverted by making his son buy pot for someone who needs it medically and ended the plot with people coming to load up the family yacht with boxes, the police coming with sirens blaring, and the one-armed man shouting "And that's why you never teach your son a lesson!".
    • Near the end of shooting of the second season, the network cut the episode order from 22 to 18 episodes. In an amazing coincidence in a later episode, Michael complains a client cut their building order from 22 to 18 houses, stating that would ruin his carefully created building plans.
    • Also, towards the end of the final season, the Bluths' plan for success depended on becoming more likable and relatable, echoing many complaints from the network.
    • One late third season episode crams as many standard gimmicks as possible: 3D shots (gratuitous and add nothing to the plot), shocking revelations (not really), special guest stars (who were those guys?) and Tonight, Someone Dies (a random extra chokes on a chicken bone, spoiled 5 minutes in the episode by the narrator.)
  • Veronica Mars producer Rob Thomas threatened to kill off Sheriff Lamb if his fans didn't stop asking to make him "nicer" and "shirtless more often." He went through with it. Brutally.
  • The writers of Battlestar Galactica tell a story where they were told to include more "happy moments", like "a party". They wrote in a party sequence that abruptly ended with an accidental explosion with several casualties. They say execs never meddled again.
  • Firefly:
    • Joss Whedon was asked by Fox to include some actual aliens in Firefly. His response was to have a seedy carny hawk "alien body parts" on display, which were, of course, fake.
    • There's also the character of Inara, who was included after Fox asked Whedon to include a "space hooker" in the cast. Inara's character was made to be a Companion, basically a high-class, educated woman who acts as a cross between a courtesan and a geisha. Several times throughout the show, Mal refers to her as being a whore, to which she is never happy.
  • The ongoing storyline of Aaron Sorkin's Sports Night has the Show Within a Show teetering on the edge of cancellation, suffering through Executive Meddling and finally its network up for sale. After several episodes wondering who would buy the network and if they would keep the show on the air, a mysterious billionaire comes out of the woodwork and buys the network, declaring, "Anyone who can't make money off Sports Night doesn't deserve to be in the business of making money." In an episode that turned out to be the series finale. The series itself won critical acclaim, but struggled in ratings and only lasted two seasons on ABC.
  • 30 Rock:
    • After NBC's executives wouldn't let Tina Fey cast her longtime friend and collaborator Rachel Dratch as Jenna on 30 Rock, Fey decided to have Dratch perform many miscellaneous roles throughout the first season, often without significantly changing her appearance between characters.
    • In-universe, Liz and her writers were told to add Product Placement to the Show Within The Show. They responded by writing a self-referential sketch about product placement. 30 Rock itself seemed to have an extremely blatant product placement for the McDonald's McFlurry, but the writers claim they just really like the product.
    • The second episode features a literal example: the writers pelt Liz with things for some reason or other.
  • NewsRadio was the king of this. The writers were told to add a Will They or Won't They? plot, so they did. The answer was "yes", in episode two. Later they were told to add a funeral plot as part of a "Three Weddings And A Funeral" cross-series gimmick, so they did an entire episode about the death of a beloved office rat.
  • David Simon got fed up with people demanding that Marlo Stanfield on The Wire be thrown in jail, so the series ends with him being arrested, then let go due to the police's illegal wiretap forming a key part of their evidence. However, he did throw the fans a bone: even though Marlo ends up a free man, he's stuck in his own personal Hell, completely forgotten by the city's other drug dealers and forbidden from any further drug activity himself, and it's implied he'll go out every night picking fights with street toughs until one of them kills him.
  • Whenever The BBC brass have tried to change the format of the popular current affairs show Newsnight, its fearsome presenter Jeremy Paxman (who enjoyed Ultimate Job Security due to his popularity and name-power) would always have one of these. The most famous example was when their editor tried to replace financial news with a weather report ("it's April, what do you expect" was Paxman's "effort" as a weatherman) which Paxman sunk by being sarcastic and condescending when forced to read it, but perhaps the best example was when they tried to set up "Oh My Newsnight" when viewers could submit their own video and get on the show. Paxman was not amused:
    In the meantime, it's all available on the website, along with the editor's pathetic pleas for you to send us some bits of home movies and the like, so we can become the BBC's version of Animals Do the Funniest Things. Goodnight.
  • At one point, the network wanted Sally on 3rd Rock from the Sun to have an attractive, more conventional boyfriend. The writers gave her one... for one episode.
  • When NBC decided they wanted to seem more eco-friendly, they had a "green week" where all the shows had to have an environmental bent. Most of them complied, but some didn't quite comply as hard as the network wanted.
    • 30 Rock is all about NBC behind the scenes, and its "green episode" has Jack create Greenzo, an eco-themed superhero. Jack makes it clear that he has no interest in the environment and is just trying to promote NBC's real-life parent company GE and their line of "environmentally friendly" products. The actor playing Greenzo, meanwhile, gets hopelessly Lost in Character and starts pushing for greener and much less business-friendly actions.
    • In My Name Is Earl, Earl's prison warden forces him to shoehorn a green message into their "scared straight" program, even though it's out of place and would heavily derail the message of their skit.
    • Las Vegas mostly capitulated, but it did have a suggestion that the whole hotel turn "green", which the owner brutally shuts down while pontificating what that would do to the workers' lives.
    • In Chuck, the unscrupulous assistant manager institutes a recycling policy to make store patrons think they were a better company without actually doing anything. Later in the episode, a college kid is leading a tree-planting initiative:
      Student: Plant a Stanford tree! They're a renewable resource for your children's future.
      John Casey: Oh, so, you want to save the environment, huh? Take a shower, hippie!
    • In Scrubs, the Janitor's newfound passion for promoting environmental awareness is taken to uncomfortable extremes, before permanently waning by the end of the episode.
    • The Office introduced Recyclops, an eco-crusader who helpfully suggests ways to recycle and reuse items. Unfortunately, Recyclops (played by an increasingly deranged Dwight) grows more dangerous and militant each year, until finally, he renounces Earth Day and swears vengeance against humanity for some unspecified misdeed, and proceeds to exact his punishment by releasing copious amounts of aerosol spray.
    • Parks and Recreation figured out how to satisfy NBC — have a green trailer without an actual "green" episode. The trailer shows the characters outside in the woods and seems to be in line with "green week", but the episode itself was about the characters going on a hunting trip with no environmental message whatsoever (if there was any message at all, it was about gun safety).
    • Community (in an episode appropriately entitled "Environmental Science") put the entirety of its "green week" content into a single joke, with no plot relevance, which made up the entire trailer — Dean Pelton tries to change the school's name from "Greendale" to "Envirodale" and prints 5,000 flyers promoting the new name. When someone points out to him that the original name already contained the word "green", he changes the name back and prints another 5,000 flyers with the old name.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • Much hay had been made about the fact that the 24th century didn't seem to have openly gay people, and Whoopi Goldberg protested the fact that the script of the episode "The Offspring" had her explain the concept of love to a new lifeform by saying, "When a man and a woman are in love..." She managed to get it changed to "two people"; as it was part of a holographic presentation. However, neither line appears in the final episode, according to transcripts.
    • This trope led to the creation of an Ascended Extra. In the episode "Unnatural Selection", there was supposed to have been a character named Rina, whose unnatural beauty would cause a few comedic pratfalls. She would ultimately be the one to solve the problem of the day with La Forge, having Picard praise her for her ingenuity. Showrunner Maurice Hurley apparently was not fond of such a blatant Creator's Pet and rewrote the script to completely erase her. In her place for solving the problem of the day was Colm Meaney's character, who was just referred to as "Transporter Chief" at the time, and was given the surname "O'Brien". Thus began the long history of one of Starfleet's most normal (and ambiguously ranked) members.
    • "The Bonding", which has as its central point a 12-year-old boy dealing with the loss of his mother, was initially rejected by Gene Roddenberry because "people in the 24th century don't grieve". After Roddenberry had become less directly involved in the show, it was repitched as "people in the 24th century don't grieve ... and that is really unhealthy".
      • This issue was touched on again in a later episode, "The Loss", in which Troi was counselling a young widow who claimed to be taking exactly the approach Roddenberry claimed 24th-century people took — accepting death as a part of life and moving on. Troi helped her to realize that, in fact, she was merely suppressing her grief, and that if she didn't face her feelings and mourn her husband properly it would destroy her.
  • The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. The show was infamous for being, in effect, a flame war between the eponymous hosts and the network.
  • The State:
    • A minor case occurred when MTV executives tried to make them change a reference to Bob Dylan in a sketch because no one in the audience would know who he was. Thus, as an in-joke, the name "Bob Dylan" kept getting slipped into dialogue, though usually not in reference to the singer.
    • Executives demanded a character with a Catchphrase, so the troupe created "Louie, the guy who comes in and says his catchphrase over and over again". His first sketch involves a group of people repeatedly prompting him to shout his catchphrase "I wanna dip my balls in it!" by presenting him new substances to want to dip his (golf) balls into. Louie himself becomes overwhelmed by the repetitive nature of his catchphrase, but his audience assures him that it's totally hysterical each and every time he says it. The sheer silliness of the character ironically inspired the cast to bring him back several times.
  • In the Criminal Minds episode when JJ is promoted, listen very closely to the dialogue. AJ Cook was let go from the show for purely financial reasons, a decision that the cast and crew obviously reviled, and the subplot is about how her promotion is being forced by "people above their pay grade" (the network). She really lays into them in her closing monologue in place of the usual ending quote.
  • As part of the Executive Meddling that affected the 1970-71 TV series The Young Lawyers, the more hot-button and racially-mixed elements were toned down. One particular change is best explained by Harlan Ellison (who wrote an episode of the series, and wasn't pleased with the finished result):
    ... a pure WASP attorney will be introduced to ease the identity crisis for the scuttlefish. (Steve Kandel, one of the more lunatic scriveners in Clown Town, when assigned the chore of writing the script that introduces the new characters, despising the idea, named him Christian White. It went through three drafts before anyone got hip to Steve's sword in the spleen.) (He was renamed Chris Blake.)
  • In a weird example of an in-fiction type being applied to a real episode, Mad Men has an episode with a B-plot centering around 1960s lawyer show The Defenders and their controversial episode about abortion. Harry Crane's friend at CBS explains the writers wanted to get it made, but the executives balked at the subject matter. So they instead do a trash script about cannibalism, the network rejects it on its face, there's not enough time to write a new script, but they do have this one waiting in the wings...
  • This happened on the first US version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? if you can consider the improv performers to be "writers". When Drew asked the audience to suggest a sitcom title, someone said "Bill Cosby and Hitler." The director stepped in and forced them to change it. The cast spends the rest of the episode throwing in as many references to Hitler as possible. This tends to happen any time the director stops or says they cannot perform a theme due to censorship or controversy reasons; the cast usually spends the rest of the episode making fun of the director in subtle ways and throwing in light references to the censored activity.
  • SCTV's "Great White North" sketches were added to comply with a Canadian government directive that all CBC shows include at least some "Canadian" content. Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas complied... by playing the two most cartoonishly stereotypical Canadians they could possibly create. The pair became the most successful element of the show, sparking a hit single and a Spin-Off movie, Strange Brew.
  • Castle has an in-universe example, where the titular character (a mystery novelist) begins the series having violently killed off his long-running character. It is hinted that, along with boredom, he did so to annoy his ex-wife and publisher, and had been growing tired of Storm for some time by that point already. Immediately lampshaded by several characters, and an ongoing joke six seasons later.
  • Doctor Who:
  • Kamen Rider Hibiki wasn't supposed to be a Kamen Rider show, since it was based on a completely unrelated Shotaro Ishinomori manga, Ongeki Hibiki. The sponsors forced the writers (including Ishinomori's son) to turn it into a Kamen Rider show for brand recognition. The writing staff wasn't happy about this and subverted the living hell out of Kamen Rider tropes and traditions at every opportunitynote . About two-thirds of the way through the series, the executives responded by firing the writers and replacing them with a team more willing to do their bidding...which ended up killing the show, since the original version's focus on character development was tossed out the window in favor of cookie-cutter toy shilling.
  • Supernatural: Series creator Eric Kripke has posthumously claimed this as the reason behind Bela Talbot being so unlikable. The character was forced on to the show by Meddling Executives who wanted a Belligerent Sexual Tension Love Interest for Dean. But Kripke had no interest in the character, so rather than try to make the best of it, he deliberately made her as obnoxious as he could so that fans would hate her and he'd have a reason to kill her off.
  • Top Gear (UK):
    • This actually helped get Jeremy Clarkson fired from Top Gear (UK). After his "fracas" with a producernote , Clarkson returned to work fully believing that everyone could simply forget about the incident and move on. The entire staff, however, apparently refused to let bygones be bygones and demanded that Clarkson report himself to the BBC for review. He was suspended, the season they were working on was Cut Short and a few weeks later Clarkson was fired by the BBC.
    • Followed up quickly by a revolt from the other side, with fellow hosts James May and Richard Hammond refusing to continue on the show without Clarkson, and producer Andy Wilman resigning immediately afterwards. The four jumped ship to Amazon to create The Grand Tour, while the BBC put together a new season without them that was not well received.
  • Part-way through the only season of American Gothic (1995), Executive Meddling forced the writers to write out the mild-mannered Dr. Matt Crower and replace him with Dr. Billy Peele, a more conventional macho "rebellious" hero. In the final episodes of the show, Peele ended up the butt of a particularly cruel plot twist directed straight at his manly sexiness, in which what appeared to be him achieving a cliche Sex–Face Turn on Lucas's girlfriend Selena turned out to be the set-up for Selena trying to kill Lucas for entirely selfish reasons and framing Billy for it.
  • Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention were asked to mime for an early television appearance performing "Son Of Suzy Creamcheese" from Absolutely Free- instead of lip-syncing the lyrics, Zappa spent the entire song mouthing "you're a motherfucker" over and over again.

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic:
    • "Weird Al" Yankovic's record label once insisted that he include a parody of the then-hot new single, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" for his Dare To Be Stupid album. Al himself didn't want to and responded to the pressure by intentionally making the parody, "Girls Just Want to Have Lunch", as lame as possible. Weird Al fans widely consider it his worst song by a wide margin, which is quite the achievement for Al.
    • In the same album, they wanted him to do a straight cover of a song (as in, not a parody). So he covered the theme to George of the Jungle.
    • "Christmas at Ground Zero" was born because the executives wanted Weird Al to write and record a Christmas song, although he doesn't celebrate it. The subject matter proved so radioactive that it was actually banned from the radio.
  • Kevin DuBrow, lead singer of Quiet Riot, was less than thrilled about doing a cover of "Cum on Feel the Noize" (originally released by Slade), so he decided to make his singing voice as grating as possible. He stated that he, as well as the rest of the band, failed to make it bad, nailing it instead. The song became a hit and the album was the first #1 metal album (only to be displaced by MJ's Thriller).
  • Just prior to their live performance of "Light My Fire" on the The Ed Sullivan Show, The Doors were told to change the line "Girl, we couldn't get much higher" due to its alleged drug reference. The band agreed, and performed it accordingly in rehearsal, only for Jim Morrison to sing the original line live on the air. And Morrison reportedly blew off the network executives who tried to take him to task for it after the show. The version of the story that says Morrison did this deliberately to spite the executives was popularized by the Oliver Stone film: other accounts of the story hold that Morrison was simply very nervous going onstage, and forgot to change the line. The actual video footage seems to suggest this as well since Morrison wasn't even facing the camera when he sang the line as he was in the movie. Pretty much all accounts do agree that Morrison's response to being told The Doors would never play Ed Sullivan again was "Who cares... we already played Sullivan!"
  • Another live version gone awry for this: MTV forbade Nirvana from playing the song they wanted at the VMA, "Rape Me". The result? They played the opening of "Rape Me" before moving onto "Lithium". When Nirvana played Top of the Pops, they were dismayed to learn that it was policy on the show that the musicians only sing live vocals over prerecorded music. In protest, and as a joke, Kurt sang an octave lower than usual, in a parody of Morrissey, and the band barely pretended to play their instruments, Kurt hovering his hands over the strings, if he touched the guitar at all, Krist swinging his bass about and Dave flailing wildly on the drums. The result is still legendary.
  • Metallica was asked by the EMA to avoid swearing. Thus instead of playing "King Nothing", they went for two covers, "Last Caress" (rape and child-killing) and "So What?" (for starters, a full-on Cluster F-Bomb).
  • British singer Lulu's late 1960s show is best remembered for another instance of this. The Jimi Hendrix Experience got two minutes into "Hey Joe" before Jimi stopped "this rubbish" and announced they were dedicating the song they really wanted to do—a cover of "Sunshine of Your Love"—to Cream, who had just broken up. Hendrix was told he would never be on the BBC again after he finished the song, which suited him just fine as he'd felt "ridiculous" going on the show to begin with.
  • That story inspired Elvis Costello and the Attractions when they were the musical guest on Saturday Night Live in 1977, a replacement for the Sex Pistols, who had trouble getting visas because of their criminal records, whereas Costello and his band were already in North America touring. Costello had wanted to do "Radio Radio" on the show, but Columbia wanted him to perform "Less than Zero", as it was already known as one of his songs and would help him and the band sell records. They decided to "pull a Hendrix on the Lulu show" and stopped "Less than Zero" after two bars, told the audience there was no reason for them to play it, and then went into "Radio Radio". In the booth the directors panicked, fearing the song would have foul language they couldn't stop. The show has been much nicer about this than the BBC was to Hendrix—he's been on since then, they did a sketch mocking it, and then Costello himself interrupted the Beastie Boys on the 25th anniversary special so they could all do the song together.
  • Sara Bareilles was apparently told to make her love songs more commercial. So she wrote "Bottle It Up", essentially about how pissed off she is about being told what to write.
    There'll be girls across the nation who'll eat this up
    Babe, I know it's your soul, but could you bottle it up...?
    • This is more or less the story of her career. Her first hit single, "Love Song," was a giant Take That! at meddling executives trying to tell her what to write.
  • Chely Wright's record company apparently disliked the gloominess of one of her recent albums, and requested that she write "something positive and hopeful". And so she did.
    Well I hope... that you're miserable
    And I'm positive... that I hate your guts
    And it makes me happy to know I'll never
    Have to see your face again
  • "Pork and Beans" by Weezer is three minutes of Rivers Cuomo saying he won't give in to the complaints of their label Geffen Records, who asked them to write more commercial material.
  • Pink Floyd:
  • Janelle Monáe's verse on the Tightrope remix with B.O.B. and Lupe Fiasco points out the people who kept saying that she needs to change her appearance to appeal to the masses.
    Album just dropped and I've been on the cover covers
    Black and white tux, ain't no need for no other colors
    T-t-t-talking 'bout "W-w-why don't she change her clothes?"
    Well, they ain't seem to mind the last three times I posed in Vogue...
  • Lupe Fiasco made sure that at least part of "The Show Goes On" was dedicated to slamming his record label, which tried to turn him into a flash-in-the-pan pop-rapper.
  • The Sex Pistols' manager Malcolm McLaren wanted them to write a song called "Submission", obviously expecting an Obligatory Bondage Song... They mocked the idea by making it a song about a submarine ("I'm on a submarine mission for you, baby"). Although it still had an awful lot of double-entendre lines about "going down"...
  • The Dead Kennedys played Pull My Strings at Bay Area Music Awards when they were asked to play "California Uber Alles" to give the event some "New Wave credibility". Despite the song becoming popular among fans, they never performed it again.
  • Dream Theater did this on the song "Just Let me Breathe" off of their record-company-assisted album Falling into Infinity. The whole song is one big Take That!.
  • Mike Oldfield:
    • He was, before switching record labels, constantly hounded by Virgin Records to produce a sequel to the hit album Tubular Bells. His response was Amarok, an hour-long mostly instrumental series of ever-changing themes, not one bit of which could effectively be aired as a single. To top it off, 42 minutes in, there is a message in Morse code that reads 'FUCK OFF RB' (Richard Branson being the founder and head of Virgin at the time). Immediately after switching to Warner, he proceeded to produce and release Tubular Bells II.
    • The story of the "Piltdown Man"/"Caveman" segment of Tubular Bells is thus: at a very high-pressure point in production, Branson pressed Oldfield for some vocals so he could promote a single, prompting an offended Oldfield to storm out of Branson's office angrily promising the vocals he was demanding. Back at the Manor, he proceeded to down half a bottle of Irish whiskey and demand to be brought to the recording booth, where he spent ten minutes screaming and growling incoherent gibberish into a microphone.
  • At the start of the 20th century, Richard Strauss had severely pissed off various publishing houses with his successful campaigns to improve the position of composers with respect to publishing and performing rights. Being under contract to deliver a set of his famous Lieder to the Berlin publisher Bote & Bock, he wrote the Krämerspiegel op. 66 - acid and outright libellous satires against various companies under paper-thin aliases, full of puns and self-quotations. He was promptly sued for breach of contract and instead wrote the Lieder op. 67 - which were the most recondite, technically challenging, and innovative he had ever done, and so deliberately hard to sell. No publisher deigned to produce the original set until forty years later.
  • Billy Joel's hit "Piano Man" was edited down by his record company from 5:38 to 3:05 for commercial reasons for the single, which infuriated Billy. He wrote "The Entertainer" on his next album Streetlife Serenade in protest.
    It was a beautiful song,
    But it ran too long,
    If you wanna make a hit,
    You just gotta make it fit,
    So they cut it down to 3:05.
  • Lou Reed supposedly recorded Metal Machine Music, a double album of industrial screeching, in the hope that his record label would drop him.
  • Korn was asked to do a marketable radio single by the label... so they wrote "Y'All Want A Single" which includes 89 f-words.
  • The Living Tombstone once said that "Die in a Fire" was going to be his last Five Nights at Freddy's song. Then Five Nights at Freddy's 4 came out, and naturally everyone demanded he make a song for it. It's not hard to read (at least the first verse of) the result, "I Got No Time" as him complaining about the endless stream of requests.
  • Given Beatallica was Screwed by the Lawyers (who forced them to record Abbey Load with The Beatles lyrics instead of their mashups with Metallica), every time they perform the vetoed versions there is a snarky Take That! ("you're not about to hear 'While My Guitar Deathly Creeps'...).
  • Depending on who you ask, Journey did this with the infamous "Separate Ways" music video. Steve Perry was on record as hating the whole idea of music videos, dismissing bands popularized by them as "fashion music," and sticking to performance videos when asked to provide them for airplay. The label said "do one or else," and they strove to make a Stylistic Suck Cliché Storm of a video...but the song turned out to be one of their best hits.
  • David Byrne's 1992 album Uh-Oh was one of the last compact discs to be packaged in a "longbox", a cardboard sleeve much taller than the disc itself — the format was initially conceived so that music stores could file CDs and records in the same bins, and was also considered a theft deterrent, but was eventually phased out as it was considered needlessly expensive to produce and environmentally wasteful. While some artists refused to let their albums be packaged this way altogether, Byrne just had the following sticker affixed to the longbox of his album:
    (This box, that is). The American record business insists on it though. If you agree that it's wasteful, let your store management know how you feel.
  • Bob Dylan claims that Self Portrait and Nashville Skylines, his early 1970s records that veer drastically from his 1960s "rebel-poet voice of the youth" image (the former being an album mostly of cheesy covers, the latter being smooth country and western), were one of these. Apparently, he'd gotten long fed up with everything demanding that he be the rebellious voice of an entire generation (and all the hangers-on and Yes-Man that it came with) and just decided to mess with everyone instead.
  • Fall Out Boy has a history of having incredibly long song titles on their albums. When their record label asked them to write songs with shorter titles, they instead refused & simply disemvowelled the title of one, producing "Thnks fr th Mmrs" from this experiment.
  • Once Pete Townshend discovered his managers hid over a million dollars of his royalties in a bank account he never knew, the next The Who album was filled with complaints ("Music Must Change", "New Song", "No Road Romance", "Sister Disco").
  • During Nine Inch Nails' time with their original label TVT Records, Trent Reznor often had to fight Executive Meddling; TVT was initially not pleased to hear their debut album Pretty Hate Machine (one executive calling it "an abortion"), only to demand that Trent record a follow-up in the same style after Machine became a success. In addition, they refused to release Trent from his contract when he tried to leave the label. This resulted in the secretly-recorded EP Broken, which had Trent comparing his experience with them to slavery and telling TVT founder Steve Gottlieb to eat his heart out at the beginning of "Physical". Even the liner notes contain sentences like "no thanks: you know who you fucking are" and "the slave thinks he has been released from bondage only to find a stronger set of chains". Years later, Machine's 2010 remastered release say "fuck you" to TVT — which has been defunct since 2008.
  • Uncle Tupelo were frustrated with their label for withholding royalties from their first two albums, and also felt they were being pressured to change their Alternative Country style in order to compete with Grunge — they made their third album, March 16-20 1992, an entirely acoustic folk album in part because it was the furthest thing from grunge that they could do.
  • According to Rick Rubin, when Queen asked him to put together a remix of "We Will Rock You" for the 1991 Hollywood Records reissue of News of the World, he was hesitant because he didn't like the idea of remixing what he felt was "a perfect record." Consequently, he decided to make it as ridiculous as possible to convey the message that classic songs shouldn't be remixed to begin with. He even billed the result as being "ruined by" him to drive the point home.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • For a time, products based on the Shmoos (an all-purpose food species) from Li'l Abner were the biggest fad in America. The fad came to a rather abrupt halt due to Writer Revolt — Al Capp, sick of how the Shmoo fad overshadowed everything else in the strip, debuted the "Shmooicide Squad", a group that proceeded to render the Shmoos extinct (save one).
  • Tom Batiuk, artist of Funky Winkerbean, killed off John Darling, star of the spin-off strip of the same name (in the penultimate strip, to boot), because he wanted to end the strip, didn't want to re-integrate him into FW, and didn't want his syndicate to use the character elsewhere, without his input.
  • Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, frequently had rows with his editor about the subject of merchandising. Several strips had paraphrases of the editor's arguments as punchlines, such as Calvin's dad telling him he sees everything in black and white or has no perspective, leading to the boy imagining a literal case of the ailments. He got his point across.
  • Manfred Schmidt, author of German comic Nick Knatterton, always held the opinion that comics were a lower art form. After about nine years of drawing the strip, he was so fed up with it, he couldn't make his fingers draw the pictures anymore — or so he said.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In ECW's waning days, the promotion's rocky relationship with TNN pushed them into full-on revolt as part of a desperate bid to get their show cancelled so they could shop it to other networks before the promotion completely ran out of money. The most obvious facet of the revolt was Cyrus, an executive from "the network", who was out to take away everything that made ECW special and make it into good, wholesome, family-friendly, WCW-style sports entertainment. Many of Cyrus's appearances came laced with digs at TNN's other programs, such as Rock 'n Bowl. Sadly, this gambit didn't work, as TNN kept the show on long past the point of no return.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In prior editions of Warhammer 40,000, many players, when confronted with the unbelievable racism, psychosis, corruption, fascism, and hopelessness of the Imperium, tended to latch onto the Eldar as "good guys" despite the setting being Evil Versus Evil (as while the Eldar are incredibly arrogant Space Elves, they aren't actively trying to destroy other races, it's just that they are manipulative bastards who see no problem with directing an entire orc WAAGH to an Imperial system if it saves a couple of Eldar). The developers took steps to undermine this, and indeed explicitly stated in one of their releases that they were attempting to correct what they saw as a misconception. The same has happened to the Tau over time, although to a lesser extent. It's especially ironic because the Tau were conceived as a fundamentally decent race by their developers — in their own words, "a likable, if a bit naive, addition to the universe."
    • After the first codex, another developer said that people who thought Tau were good were missing the underlying message of their actions: join us, or be blown out of the sky (though, to be fair, most of the other factions don't even offer the "Join Us" option). The second codex had such decencies as suicide bombers, combat drugs, mentions of orbital bombardment on races that didn't accept the Greater Good, and subtle hints about how the Vespid are effectively enslaved by the Tau interface helmets.
      • Or maybe they aren't. That's the thing about the Tau: everyone else's evil is all-too-obvious and apparent, but none of the Tau's is. One such evil is the "Join Us" option, which is basically slavery.
      • It isn't helped that most of the examples of Tau crimes are given by the Imperium where they aren't exactly honest about what their enemies are like.
      • Of course after all this, 5th edition became Lighter and Softer, because fans started seeing all the GRIMDARK as one big joke.
  • Early in its history, the design team of Warhammer was asked by Games Workshop owner Bryan Ansell to make up a unique species "to be as distinctive of Warhammer as the Broo are of Runequest", a race that could be used in marketing. The design team created the Fimir, a bunch of hideous, swamp-dwelling, reptilian, cyclopean monsters that reproduced by raping abducted young women, a deliberate hodgepodge of the most despicable and lamest traits possible. They largely disappeared when the next edition (4th) was released, relegated to brief allusions in the fluff.
    • There's also the story behind the infamously hideous miniature that Nagash ended up stuck with for around two decades before they finally replaced it with something relatively fitting for the guy who invented Necromancy and has been a threat to the entire setting for millennia. The sculptor wanted to have more of a desiccated corpse look, while a skeletal look was being demanded from above. In an attempt to force them to accept a resculpt with a non-skeletal face, he made Nagash's skull as stupid-looking as he could. Unfortunately, they decided to go with that sculpt instead of demand he redo it.
    • The idea behind the "Storm of Chaos" event was that Chaos was invading the world, wrecking havoc and ruin all over the place, in battles that players could play out and send the results of to Games Workshop, and those results would influence the narrative. What actually happened was that the Chaos factions horribly lost almost every single battle, being stopped at the first village in the mortal nations for several real-life weeks. So the writers of the events decided that Chaos had won anyway and would continue their invasion, and this kept happening until it reached its narrative conclusion (Chaos almost destroyed everything and was barely defeated)
  • While creating the Mirage set for Magic: The Gathering, the designers were ordered not to name anybody after an anagram, because the editors didn't like it. Their response was to name a main character Mangara. They also created Telim'tor, which is an anagram of Mr. Toilet.
  • For Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, they created "iconic" characters for each class to be part of the art for the books. One of them, Regdar the fighter, was born from Executive Meddling, forced to be a generic human white male fighter (they'd already come up with a male dwarf fighter as the iconic character for that class). The artists had their revenge by making something horrible happen to him in almost every single picture Regdar appeared in. The tradition even continued into the 4th Edition corebooks.
    • During the 3.5 Edition, Wizards of the Coast decided to release a supplement called Savage Species, giving rules for using monsters as Player Characters. This was accomplished by giving those monsters a stat called Level Adjustment which was added to their Hit Dice to determine what level of "normal" PC they were equivalent to. The writers they assigned to the book, however, absolutely hated the idea of PC monsters, and thus sabotaged the rules by setting the Level Adjustments way too high, ensuring that monster characters created with the book's rules would be horribly underpowered. The result was one of the most-disliked books of the 3.5E era.
  • Spelljammer exists because the development team was told "Make a space D&D game because science fiction is popular." They decided to make it cool instead of just a cash grab. The fact that it only got one edition was because this upset the CEO at the time.


    Theme Parks 
  • A bit more subtle: Walt Disney World has recently appeared to be using a policy that fans have described best as, "Oh, the older ride is not as popular as the new rides? Tear it down and build something new!" Evidently, many Imagineers are as upset about this as the fans are, and you can often spot Shout Outs to the rides' original iterations hidden in the newer rides. To wit:
    • There is a painting of Mr. Toad passing the deed to his property to Owl in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which replaced Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. You can also spot a memorial for the older ride in the pet cemetery outside the exit of The Haunted Mansion.
    • The logo on the Gravity Wheel and cash registers in MISSION: Space is that of the ride it replaced: Horizons. There are also several references to the much older "Mission to Mars" ride and even a connection to the movie it inspired in 2000 (via Gary Sinise as the host of the preshow video). Several Horizons references would be inserted into Space Mountain's post-show when that ride was renovated in 2009.
    • By far, no ride suffered more than Journey into Imagination at Epcot — when it was revamped at the end of The '90s, it was penny-pinched and Christmas Rushed (to coincide with a park anniversary and the forthcoming Millennium Celebration), and went over so poorly that Imagineers were allowed another crack at it. Version 3 thus promoted Ensemble Dark Horse Figment to protagonist, included the original theme song (with some new verses), and brought in as many remnants of and references to the original version as possible. Pay attention to the show Figment is watching in his upside-down house, the various forms he takes in the finale, and the office belonging to a fellow named Dean Finder. As well, the plot of this version — a series of tests in sensory labs to "capture" the imagination getting playfully sabotaged by Figment — is effectively the 2.0 version being invaded by 1.0, a situation portrayed as a wonderful thing.
    • The "Under New Management!" refurbishment of Disney World's The Enchanted Tiki Room that opened in 1998 seemed to have been written by people who really weren't all that enthusiastic about updating the show. It featured Iago and Zazu buying out the Tiki Room (seriously); after watching a few seconds of the old show, Iago comes down and angrily decries the tiki birds for being "boring" and demands changes to the show in order to make it more "hip", much to the ire of Zazu who thinks the show is fine and warns Iago against messing with it. Eventually the tiki gods themselves get tired of Iago and banish him, putting on a show their own way. "Under New Management!" was closed in 2011 after the Iago animatronic fittingly caught fire during a refurbishment, and the show was returned to its pre-1998 state later that year.
    • In Disneyland's Winnie the Pooh ride, which replaced Country Bear Jamboree, as soon as you go into the Honey Room, if you look up, you can see the talking mounted animal heads.
  • At Universal Studios, The Simpsons Ride replaced Back to the Future: The Ride. Not everyone liked the change of guard. Therefore, the queue movie has one sequence showing Doc Brown trying but failing to save his facilities — thanks to Professor Frink travelling back in time to help but instead doing exactly the opposite — and eventually selling the property's deed to Krusty, who hires him on for the Krustyland theme park once he gets a haircut. Later, the Jaws ride was demoted to expand The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The resulting Diagon Alley wound up with hidden references to Jaws, such as a shark jawbone in a store and Shrunken Heads that sing "Show Me The Way To Go Home". And a previous case is how a few King Kongs are hidden in Revenge of the Mummy because the ride stands where Kongfrontation was.

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy II, the programmer who coded the Ultima spell accidentally made the legendary ancient spell nigh-useless. The developers wanted him to fix the bug, but he wanted to attribute its uselessness in-universe to an aversion of Older Is Better, and this made it into the final game because he ciphered the game’s code to prevent anyone from fixing it. This was fixed in the remakes, however.
  • Rumor has it that when the time came for Shigeru Miyamoto to start developing a sequel to Super Mario World, the higher-ups at Nintendo, enamored by the pre-rendered 3D visuals in Donkey Kong Country, demanded that the new Super Mario Bros. game also use pre-rendered 3D graphics. Miyamoto, who was strongly opposed to the idea, instead went for a cutesy, crayon-drawn look in an act of rebellion against his executives, which made them see the error of their ways, and the game was eventually developed and released as Yoshi's Island. The game still used pre-rendered models in the introduction and ending, though, and a pre-rendered Mario game that Miyamoto wasn't directly involved with was eventually released.
  • Wario was introduced in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins to symbolize the development team's distaste for having to work on a game based on someone else's characters. Ironically, Wario became rather popular and got his own spin-off games.
  • The Mega Man X series. In the early stages of the series' development, Capcom thought that the new Mega Man's design was a complete overhaul from the original. Keiji Inafune, the "father" of the series, was forced to make a second X with a design that would be more familiar to fans of Mega Man. Inafune didn't discard the original design, however, and made him into a supporting character instead. What happens next? Inafune made it so that his X would figure more into the storyline than the second X. Moreover, in an irony of what Capcom envisioned, he also became more popular with the fanbase than the "second" X himself! Any fan should know this story by now (that first X became Zero, for people who haven't caught on yet.)
  • Metal Gear:
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Hideo Kojima was told to make a sequel that finished the overarching plot, returning the series to Solid Snake, and explaining the identity of The Patriots. In the game, Snake's old and dying, the other characters are also old and dying, the identity of The Patriots turns out to be a massive Anti-Climax, and the plot is routinely stopped to have Does This Remind You of Anything? chats about how Hideo Kojima doesn't want to make another game and knows he shouldn't. Like having Naomi discuss how 'the game has to end' while images of the Metal Gear series's title screens flash subliminally. Or having them chased by a wheeled LAV named 'MGS', with lots of shouting about how they have to "shake off that MGS". Or Otacon commenting about how the next-gen version of Shadow Moses is indication that it's "not so bad getting old" (i.e. the old games should just be allowed to be what they are). And telling Snake at the end that he will always remember "what you were" (i.e. what you were back before Kojima was forced to throw out his artistic integrity). It's kind of a depressing game. Also, originally, Kojima wanted to end the game with Snake and Otacon turning in to authorities only to be executed for being terrorists. His staff flat out refused to work on the game if it was to end that way.
    • Metal Gear Survive is an installment of the series made after the horrible Troubled Production of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Kojima's sacking from Konami, and was generally mocked as an Only the Creator Does It Right Franchise Zombie as soon as it was announced. However, a clipboard shown at the beginning of the game has a hidden acrostic message: Marlin and Gibbon (Metal Gear) are listed as K.I.A., the rest of the soldiers' code initials read KJP FOREVER, with the name of the Player Character as the space, and the final two entries are "Bastard Yota" and "Cunning Yuji", who are listed as AWOL insulting the game's director and producer and accusing them of abandoning their duty. (It should be observed that the Japanese loan word "cunning"/kanningu has a much harsher connotation than in English, meaning "cheater".) An early story mission explains that since the higher-ups disappeared, the unit has been at a total loose end, apart from a single engineer who is doing his best to hold everything together but is powerless to do so - a situation so specific that it is easy to speculate it is a developer cry for help.
  • "Two years ago my boss comes into my office. He says "'M&Ms did really well. We need you to do a game based on Skittles.' So I said "you can fire me now, and make the next year and a half much easier on me, or you can, like, not make me do this.' That night, I went to a bar called Pravda and I got drunk, because I was like 'this is it, this is the end of my career.'" But the alcohol also made this game producer eventually decide that she could do the Skittles game... in the most self-parodying way possible. Thus came Darkened Skye.
  • ZUN's attitude toward Touhou Project fandom ping-pongs between affection and enmity. He usually expresses this by making smart-ass remarks in instruction manuals and interviews and, more recently, by darkly subverting the Moe characteristics attributed to the characters by fanon.
  • An extremely obscure pachinko game for the Famicom has five percent of the entire ROM file dedicated to an angry rant by one of the programmers, that, among other things, calls his boss an idiot, complains about Executive Meddling regarding the sounds used, calls the company hiring their team retards for allowing such behavior, includes instructions for hackers on how to disable said changes, and sells a ROM with a phone number to call for interested parties. The full thing is available here.
  • Though the series is well-loved for its charm and humor, the third game in the Deponia series had a notoriously base-breaking ending that angered and confused fans of the series to the point that demands for a sequel that fixed it were made. In March 2016 these demands were answered with a sequel, Deponia Doomsday, that can be best described as one big fuck you to anyone who disliked the ending of the last game to the point that time travel is brought into the series just to make the point that the main character Rufus cannot escape his fate set up in the last one no matter what he does to change it.
  • In Super Robot Wars 4 thanks to an artist's mistake, a unit from The Five Star Stories was accidentally used where a similar-looking machine from Heavy Metal L-Gaim should have been. There were rumors that when creator Mamoru Nagano learned of this, he blew up at the thought that any of his beloved units would fall at the hands of units created by other artists and vowed never to let Banpresto use the series in any other SRW installments. Later translations of the interview that claimed that revealed that he was just upset Banpresto never paid the licensing fee for it. Either way, it'll be a while before we ever try to see that series in any installments since he's refusing to let it be used because of that snafu while he's still living.
  • When Undertale was ported to PlayStation, Sony's policy to add achievements to every game forced Toby Fox to comply - even though he actively disliked the idea, given the nature of the game. Therefore, he deliberately made mocking achievements, awarded for stuff like: anticlimatic actions (picking up 1, 2, 3, and 4 items); reaching specific areas (that you have to go through anyway); or donating various amounts of money to a newly added Dog Shrine (which is completely useless and extremely tedious). The Nintendo Switch port obliterates the Dog Shrine but otherwise adds actual new content with the Mad Mew Mew.
  • A minor example in Spec Ops: The Line. The game begins with Delta in the middle of a helicopter chase, before flashing back two days earlier. Writer Walt Williams was very opposed to starting with an action-packed setpiece, feeling it spoke down to players and implied that they wouldn't be interested without explosions. At first, he thought the game started more slowly and only learned of the change in script while recording voice lines. Out of spite, he promptly wrote in Walker's line, "Wait, this isn't right! We've done this already!" when the game catches up with the chase to imply that Delta died in the helicopter crash and the game is Walker reliving events in either purgatory or a Dying Dream. As he put in his memoir Significant Zero:
    This was my story, and I'd burn it all down before I let anyone take it away.
  • Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion has a varied monster roster, many of which are Shout-Outs to other horror games. Since the game was out while the Five Nights at Freddy's series was taking off, the creators of Spooky's were constantly asked to add a monster based on the Five Nights franchise. They retaliated to the demands by making the Five Nights-inspired monster a goofy-looking Joke Character that does pathetic damage, chases the player slowly, and has a tame game over screen.
  • Like the Undertale example above, the developers of Don't Starve made the trophies of the PlayStation port(s) incredibly easy; one for unlocking each character (most of whom unlock just by playing the game normally), one for building the "Accomploshrine", and one for using the shrine 100 times.
  • LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 has no X-Men or Fantastic Four related characters in it all (barring one or two who squeak past due to their obscurity), due to those two franchises not being included in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the time the game was made, despite their being in the previous game, and quite prominently. By and large, 2 is pretty quiet about this... except for one side-quest where a woman hosting a cooking show on Asgard tries selling some merchandising, only to admit that due to complex copyright laws, they can only tell viewers about it, because it's sold by their rivals.
    Asgardian: Is all Midgard law this complex?
    Hostess: Nope, just copyright law.
  • The obscure Famicom Adventure Game Erika to Satoru no Yume Bouken has a very well-hidden Easter Eggnote . Activating it reveals a lengthy series of messages by a programmer identifying as "Hidemushi", most of which is a profane rant against his coworkers for their unprofessional behavior, identifying them by name and blasting them for being chronically late for work, getting drunk, and being unproductive sex addicts.
  • During testing for Fuga: Melodies of Steel, Hiroshi Matsuyama would sacrifice Boron each and every time, angering the game's director Yoann (who considers Boron to be his favorite character), so he made Boron Purposely Overpowered just to mess with him.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Batman Beyond was created due to the higher-ups asking the guys who were making Batman: The Animated Series to make a show about Batman in High School (a surprisingly recurring idea, all things considered). The result was them Bothering by the Book that they asked to make a show about Batman and not, specifically, Bruce Wayne, creating a show with a Legacy Character being mentored by Bruce that owed more to things like Ghost in the Shell (1995) and Spider-Man 2099 than any sort of high-school setting, and was much darker by leaps and bounds than the unknowing executives were thinking when they made that suggestion. Ultimately, fans found the premise much easier to swallow (and more interesting) with a new Batman under the cowl, and the show remains a fan-favorite.
  • In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Bruce Timm demanded that Harley Quinn be killed off, but Paul Dini didn't want to do it. They compromised by having her fall to Uncertain Doom where they Never Found the Body, and then in the ending, Dini slipped in "Nana Harley" bailing Dee-Dee out of jail. Fortunately, Timm was laughing too hard to demand it be cut.
  • Here's a typical action from Paul Dini on anything in the DC Animated Universe. Make a scene that gets rejected. Then take it and make it even more of whatever got it rejected. They never noticed.
  • Most of the staff of The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat openly hated the made-for-TV Felix the Cat cartoons made by Joe Oriolo in the late 50s/early 60s for its childish tone and banal writing, and wanted the show to exclusively follow the roots of the original silent cartoons and abandon the characters and tone of the TV cartoons. Don Oriolo, Joe's son and then-owner of Felix the Cat, insisted that they at least include certain elements from it like the Magic Bag so that the show would have some kind of tie to his dad's work. By the time the second season started production, Phil Roman and Don Oriolo decided to take the series into a direction more in vogue with the Joe Oriolo Felix cartoons, with much more linear plotting and less surreal humor, as well as bringing back some of the Oriolo era characters like Poindexter, Master Cylinder and The Professor. This was a move that did NOT sit well with the staff—In response, "Attack of the Robot Rat" had the writers shoot back by making it a very mean-spirited parody of the Joe Oriolo Felix cartoons. "Phoney Felix" can also be seen as a Stealth Parody of the retool of Season 2, with Felix having his show hijacked by an imbecilic imposter who imitates some of the traits of Oriolo Felix, such as saying his "Righty-O!" catchphrase, singing the TV show theme song and using a (shoddy knockoff) of the magic bag of tricks. "The Fuzzy Bunny Show" also takes a shot at Don Oriolo himself for the retool, whose in-universe cartoon counterpart (named Donald) replaces Felix's show (which in-universe is already renamed "The Not-So-Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat") with the unbearably cloying Fuzzy Bunny show and is congratulated by a network exec for it.
  • The writers at Gargoyles were once required to have the main cast using a helicopter, as they would make a toy out of it. It felt quite out of place in a series focusing on Winged Humanoids who can fly, and then they didn't even release the toy. It was pointedly never mentioned a second time in the show. When required to put in a motorcycle, they had it blow up after being used for five minutes.
  • The Executive Meddling done to Pinky and the Brain (such as adding Elmyra to the show) pissed off writer Peter Hastings so much that he left Warner Bros. to create Disney's One Saturday Morning. Before he did that, though, he made fun of Jamie Kellner's orders in his last script, "You'll Never Eat Food Pellets in This Town Again", in which Brain dreams that he and Pinky are sitcom stars whose popularity is sabotaged when various unfitting changes are made to their show. (As you can guess, Kellner did not take the advice this episode was telling him). Then there's the (in)famous episode "Pinky and The Brain... and Larry", in which writers Gordon Bressack and Charles M. Howell IV responded to demands to throw a new character into the mix by creating Larry, who is shoe-horned awkwardly into the Expository Theme Tune and adds absolutely nothing to the plot (a trait that the Brain identifies as the reason behind their failure in tonight's Take Over the World scheme). Alas, the execs didn't get the hint (see above about the addition of Elmyra). The final show of revolt came in the Pinky, Elmyra, and the Brain theme tune:
    So Pinky and the Brain/Share a new domain/It's what the network wants/Why bother to complain?
  • Invader Zim:
    • One episode ended with Iggins, an obnoxious one-shot character, getting crushed in an elevator accident. When that earned an Executive Veto, the writers tacked on an additional ending after a "The End" screen where said character burst out from the elevator wreckage and flew towards the camera in a superhero pose with a matching backdrop and "IGGINS!!" displayed underneath. Unlike many examples on this page, this was noticed by the network and did rather anger them.
    • The episode "Mysterious Mysteries" seems to be a Take That! to both Nickelodeon and possibly the viewers — the characters go on the Show Within a Show Mysterious Mysteries and tell "Rashomon"-Style story about how Dib got Zim on tape, ending with a completely ridiculous story from GIR involving a giant squirrel who "eats Dib's greasy head" and flies into space to "fight all the bad guys." The host declares all of them crazy, but his producer tells him that it's popular and so he should take the show in that direction. The host, notably, seems to be cracking himself...
    • In the episode "Zim Eats Waffles", Zim is shown experimenting on a boy named Nick who must constantly smile and be happy... not to mention he also has the orange splatter symbol on his shirt.
    • One throwaway gag features Dib accidentally offending "Pig-Boy", who becomes so distraught he runs away crying and jumps out the classroom window. The original bit had Pig-Boy falling to the ground with an inexplicable explosion, but Nickelodeon made the writers change it due to Pig-Boy's implied death by suicide. Instead, Vasquez responded to them by saying, more or less, "no, he doesn't die! In fact, he's so full of life that he flies away!", resulting in Pig-Boy jumping out the window and taking off like a superhero, never to be seen again.
  • The DVD Commentary on the Futurama episode "Time Keeps On Slipping" said that the execs kept bugging them to "raise the stakes!" on the plots, so they had the Harlem Globetrotters come to Earth to challenge them to a game for no reason. What do they have to lose? "NOTHING! There is nothing at stake and no threat, beyond the shame of defeat!" Interestingly enough, they did raise the stakes: It was the first episode in the series where the universe was in danger of ending (Farnsworth's plan to win the harmless match led to a harmful collapse of time and space).
  • Looney Tunes executive Eddie Selzer was generally a bore who knew nothing about comedy (he once yelled at the animators for laughing while making storyboards demanding to know what the hell laughter had to do with making cartoons) and would make idiotic decisions like telling Friz Freleng not to make a cartoon starring Tweety and the recently created Sylvester. After Freleng threatened to quit over being told how to make cartoons, Selzer relented with the result being an iconic duo. He also told Bob Mckimson not to make any more Tasmanian Devil cartoons because he thought the character was too grotesque; he only changed his mind after he found out Taz was popular. He did do some good — since the directors all hated him, it gave them something to fight against like when Chuck Jones made Bully for Bugs because Selzer had told him that bullfighting wasn't funny, and Jones wanted to prove him wrong. The legend is that there wasn't even any logic going on — Selzer merely barged into the office and burst out, completely at random, that bullfights weren't funny and there were to be no bullfighting shorts to be had at his animation studio. Figuring that if Selzer was against bullfighting, then there had to be something in it, they started thinking about a bullfighting short. The story was that Selzer had actually seen one while on vacation, but he failed to tell HIS animators why he declared bullfighting unfunny.
  • Kim Possible:
    • Rufus was created when Disney said that the show needed a pet, so the creators picked a naked mole rat. He ended up being much cuter than he had any right to be, since this is what naked mole rats look like in real life. In spite of this, Rufus wound up being quite popular with fans. It also ensured that Disney Channel would have to use the word "naked" on a family-friendly cartoon series on a regular basis.
    • When Disney Channel brought the show back, one of the stipulations was that the writers would have to make one episode teaching kids to eat healthy. The writers decided to make "Grande Size Me" a vicious parody of just about every educational cartoon and afterschool special ever, ending with the message: "Eating healthy will stop you from turning into a rampaging monster." (And even then, Ron, who delivers the And Knowing Is Half the Battle section, gets the moral wrong and tells us not to fall into vats of mutagenic chemicals.) Of course, some fans didn't get it, and declared their hatred for the episode.
  • South Park has a tradition of doing this, mostly to spite censorship attempts:
    • The show's channel, Comedy Central, forbade showing Muhammad in "Cartoon Wars Part II"... and the reply was adding George W. Bush, Carson Kressley, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, and Jesus defecating on each other and the United States flag. When they refused to let the Prophet appear again in "Imaginationland", a coke-snorting Buddha appeared.
    • The 200 two-parter was heavily censored by Comedy Central because they received terrorist threats for featuring Muhammad. This resulted in Kyle's speech at the end being completely bleeped out despite not mentioning Muhammad at all and instead was about how threats that inspire intimidation or fear always work. Trey & Matt stated that they would return to their normal uncensored ways by the next episode. Said episode featured a handicapped kid getting raped by a shark, as well as other handicapped children that look and talk like Looney Tunes characters, all taking place in a summer camp named "Tardicaca". Before that, "201" took a potshot at the Muhammad taboo by including scenes of Buddha snorting cocaine and Jesus looking at pornography, both of which went completely uncensored.
    • There's a Magic: The Gathering plug the creators were forced to do early in the show's history. When it came time to deliver the tagline, "It's not just a game," the duty rested upon Kenny, who instead says (in his usual heavily muffled voice), "That sounds fucking gay."
    • For an example not related to censorship, Parker and Stone originally planned to have Kenny die and stay dead in season 5, and for Butters to take his place as the new Butt-Monkey. Comedy Central said otherwise, leading the duo to retaliate by severely reducing Kenny's role in the next few seasons, although he regained more prominence later on.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force had a few of these directed at television Moral Guardians and Standards and Practices in particular, such as the "Dickesode" with a counter in the corner keeping track of how many times dick is said (it was a lot) and "G-Wiz", an extended Take That! aimed at content dilution made more awesome with George Lowe giving an extended lesson on how making comedy family-friendly eventually makes for neutered television that pleases nobody.
  • Mainframe Entertainment, the creators of ReBoot and Shadow Raiders were notoriously strangled by ABC's department of Broadcast Standards and Practices, especially during the first two seasons of ReBoot. Their response? Not only push everything they could so far to the limit they were teetering over the edge but make "BS&P" a go-to line for some goofy, cartoonish stand-in. (For instance, when a giant rocket launcher instead fires a huge inflatable life raft, the raft bears a stamp saying "Approved by BS&P".) Similarly, a Moral Guardian appears as a judge for the auditions in the episode Talent Night, a definitive Take That! as she objects to nearly every single act that appears on increasingly flimsy grounds. Who's the one act she likes? A No Celebrities Were Harmed version of the Village People who sing "Living With BS&P" to the tune of YMCA, featuring the line "It's fun to play, in a non-violent way!"
    • Once free of BS&P's insufferable censoring, what do they do? A dark and edgy zombie-themed episode parodying Evil Dead.
  • Supposedly this is why Ralph Bakshi's short-lived Spicy City cartoon was canceled. The network wanted to replace his writing staff with professional screenwriters from Los Angeles, but Bakshi refused to comply.
  • Adventure Time seems to have done this to some degree with the gender-flipped "Fionna and Cake" cast, who became insanely popular among the fandom before ever appearing in an episode. When they finally appeared in a Bizarro Episode, a Twist Ending revealed that the whole thing was a story written by the Ice King. Word of God even admits this was a last-minute change.
    Ice King: So, what did you think of the fanfiction I wrote about you guys?
  • Before the eighth season of The Simpsons, Fox executives suggested adding a younger character to the show to keep it fresh and relevant. The writers were more amused than disgusted by the suggestion, knowing that such a move is often seen as admitting the show is entering its twilight years, and wrote "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show", in which not only is the titular character added to I&S, triggering a fan revolt, the Simpsons themselves are graced with the addition of "Roy" to the family. Pointedly, this episode was the one with which the show broke The Flintstones' record for most episodes of a prime-time animated series. It was a huge hit and they never heard any suggestions from Fox about adding another character again.
    • The Fox network originally requested the producers to make four Clip Show episodes a season, the reason being that they cost half of a usual episode's production costs but syndication rights could be sold at full price. This was eventually negotiated down to just one, and for "Another Simpsons Clip Show" the writer was credited under the pseudonym "Penny Wise" - the implication being that Fox were "Pound Foolish". For the following season's clip show, "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular", the director actually was credited as "Pound Foolish".
  • Sometimes, this can lead down a path nobody expected, as in the case of Waspinator. At the start of Beast Wars, the writers hated Waspinator, feeling that his odd speech pattern was a pain in the ass to deal with and took up too much screen time. But Hasbro wanted Waspinator in the show due to merchandise, so the writers decided that if Waspinator had to show up, he'd show up in pieces, and had him violently removed from the episode whenever he appeared. The fandom noticed this pattern... and thought it was hilarious. Because of this, the writers wound up increasing Waspinator's screen time rather than decreasing it, and even convinced Hasbro not to kill him off because the fans were so fond of him.
  • Infamously done with the Tiny Toon Adventures Three Shorts episode "Elephant Issues". What was supposed to be a Very Special Episode about television addiction, racism, and the dangers of under-aged drinking ended up as a Stealth Parody, opening with a monologue by Gogo Dodo unsubtly saying the upcoming show is about to make "a fruitless attempt to win another Emmy". As for the shorts themselves, "Why Dizzy Can't Read" ended with a shot of kids so engrossed with reading that they've stopped watching Tiny Toons, "C.L.I.D.E. and Prejudice" revolves around Montana Max bullying a new student for being a robot, and "One Beer" had Buster outright breaking the 4th wall and mentioning for the sake of the story, they would be acting out of character, and it ended with the characters leaving the studio after they "died", hoping the audience understood the moral and that their next episode would actually be funny. The episode was created in protest to the higher-ups wanting the showrunners to shoehorn morals into their episodes. The morals of "watch TV responsibly", "treat minorities well", and "alcohol is bad" were poorly implemented on purpose just so the executives would ask them to never try implementing morals in the show again, and it worked.
  • As Transformers: Animated was preparing to enter a fourth season, Hasbro wanted the writers to tie in closer to the movies, resulting in several changes, not the least of which was having Ironhide and Jazz join the main cast, along with repainting the Autobots to be a bit closer to their film colors. One of these changes was to give Optimus Prime his flames, listed in the cartoon as being "Eternal Flames", and the staff wasn't particularly fond of them. Thus, Prime was to comment how he thought the flames looked dumb, but the show was cancelled before this could occur. However, it was delivered at a live-script reading of the proposed Season 4 outline.
  • An extreme example happened at Ruby-Spears Enterprises in the 1980s — as Buzz Dixon recounted it, a thick-headed business affairs staffer stated that all the staff writers were there not to be creative, but to execute Joe Spears' ideas. Within minutes the writers were calling their agents and the studio lost a ton of their staff writers, which didn't bode well for the company afterwards. (Joe Spears had no idea this business affairs staffer had said any of this; when he and Ken Ruby became aware, they invited the idiot to lunch while changing the locks and emptying their office of their belongings; once that was done, they told them they were fired.)

    Real Life 
  • During World War II, Nazi Germany occupied The Channel Islands off the British coast. They also printed their own stamps during this time. After the war, the British printer was accused of collaboration, but he defended himself by showing that those stamps bore four little A's in the corners — standing for "Ad Avernum Atrox Adolf!" (Latin for "Go to hell, atrocious Adolf!")
  • Bishop Hans Brask managed to survive the Stockholm Bloodbath because he could prove that when he signed an unpopular parliament decision, he hid a note in his seal saying "To this, I am forced and compelled." To this day, "brasklapp" ("Brask's note") is the common Swedish word for "hedging your bets."
  • There's been some of this in Olympic Games opening ceremonies:
    • In 2012, London's ceremony had a segment celebrating the NHS, the country's universal healthcare system, against objections from the conservative government. Director Danny Boyle says he had to threaten to resign before he was allowed to keep the segment in.
    • In 2014, a year after Russia passed a law banning "homosexual propaganda" (for the sake of the children!), the Sochi opening ceremony paid tribute to some of history's most famous gay Russians (Tchaikovsky, Nijinsky, Diaghilev) and had a live performance from t.A.T.u., a female duo notorious for their early Faux Yay gimmick.
  • During the Brazilian military dictatorship, journalists would respond to censorship by adding out-of-place things. Newspapers had a tendency to print cake recipes over cut content, while magazine Veja put paintings of demons and angels.