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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 him, and subverts them. They might start their attack by sinking 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 Take That and Wag the Director. May lead to Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things.

Examples of Writer Revolt include:



Anime and Manga


Comic Books

  • 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 Peter 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.
  • There is 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 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 Bendis outright states "I couldn't even 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.)
    • It's probably safe to say that Nexwave is canon only in Broad Strokes; the characters in question did form a team by that name and they had adventures at least vaguely approximating what we read. But much of the truly over-the-top and/or silly parts are unlikely to get a reference in canon.
  • 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. Writer Bill Mantlo responded with a storyline revealing he was part fairy. 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.
    • Geez, what's with Spider-Man and clones, anyway?
  • 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?". 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 Paralel 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.
  • Brian Bendis set out to complete 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, but it could be down to hearing it from any character with the ability to peer over the fourth wall.
    • When TomDeFalco 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 drasticly 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.
  • Geoff Johns pulled a very polite Writer Revolt 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 reasons[1], 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.
  • 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 Eighties, 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 Crazy Awesome creator in his own right.
  • 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 making the strip, he couldn't make his fingers draw the pictures anymore - so he said.
  • 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 As told here, 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." Sheesh, dude.


Film

  • 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. 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.
    • Fun fact: Helena Bonham Carter (the actress who played Marla) 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.
  • 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. Your Mileage May Vary on whether you think this was a good idea or not.


Literature

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Little Women: Louisa May Alcott 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.
  • Writers doing Star Trek tie in novels have numerous rules they must follow, laid down by CBS Studios and the publisher. 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 Star Fleet) and K’t’lk/K’s’t’lk, an alien physicist resembling a glass spider.
  • 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 a explorer discovering and living with an ancient race of subterranean immortals who worship Cthulhu.


Live Action TV

  • 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 then killed the character off after one season. Although, in death, he did get to move an important plot point forward.
    • He 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.
  • It seems that Heroes is 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 Bennett 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 continues to harp on the theft as a way to "compensate" for Claire's irresponsibility.
    • Indeed, Nissan's omnipresence in the series is snarked on mercilessly in the episode commentaries by writer and actor alike.

 Sendhil Ramamurthy: Look, I'm drinking Nissan coffee!

    • They've also turned it into a Running Gag to have an advertisement for the Nissan Versa in every Graphic Novel, though later issues now advertise the Nissan Cube.
    • The Heroes webseries Heroes: Destiny in parody served the main purpose of promoting the Samsung Instinct. In one episode of the main series, the writers make fun of the product placement. Hiro and Ando are trying to crash a woman's wedding in India. Ando asks how Hiro plans to stop it. Hiro responds, "Instinct." And then says, "Let me get out my phone," and takes a picture of someone, while the phone is in the center of the frame.
  • 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 at the top of the page 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.
  • 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 one off police officer character hold such an idea. Richie and his pals vehemently try to disabuse the man of such a 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 the rebooted 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.
  • 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. Although we all know how that turned out.
  • The on-going 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.
  • In-universe example: On Thirty Rock, 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.
  • News Radio 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 the Complete Monster 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.
  • 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.
  • The Supernatural episode "The Monster At The End Of This Book" has a scene in it that is a direct Take That at Wincesters.
  • 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.
    • In Thirty Rock Jack created an eco-themed superhero, Greenzo, and made clear that he had no interest in the environment, and was only doing so to promote NBC's real-life parent company GE and their line of "environmentally friendly" products. The actor playing Greenzo then went crazy, thinking he actually was Greenzo, and began pushing for much less business-friendly actions.
    • In My Name Is Earl, Earl's prison warden forced him to shoehorn a green message into their scared straight program, although it's out of place and would heavily derail the message of their skit.
    • Las Vegas did a reasonable job of catering, but they still had the owner of the hotel brutally shut down turning the whole hotel green, but discussing what impact doing so to the full extent would have on the lives of the workers.
    • In Chuck, the unscrupulous assistant manager instituted 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 new-found 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 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.
    • During "green week", Parks and Recreation aired an episode about the characters going on a hunting trip. There was absolutely no environmental message and hunting wasn't really even portrayed negatively. The network responded by using misleading advertising to portray the episode being in line with "green week" (basically the ads all showed scenes of the characters in the woods without explaining what they were doing).
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation had another little bit of revolt. 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 one episode had her explain the concept of love to a new lifeform by saying, "When a man and a women are in love..." She managed to get it changed to "two people"; as it was part of a holographic presentation.
    • Neither line appears in the final episode, according to transcripts.
  • The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. The show was infamous for being, in effect, a flame war between the eponymous hosts and the network.
  • A minor case occurred in The State: MTV executives wouldn't let them use a sketch about Bob Dylan 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.
  • In the Criminal Minds episode when JJ Jarreau 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.
    • Considering how the writers, the cast and the entire fanbase hated what the network executives did, there is a general consensus that the Take That against them was entirely justified [2] (and one of the few times when a Writer Revolt has been fully supported by more than just fanbase splinter groups).
    • Fortunately there is a happy ending to all this as A.J. is indeed returning for the 2011-2012 season. The main reason she was let go was so the execs would have money to do that spin-off, but it got cancelled after only 13 episodes with their funds now freed up, CBS soon rehired Cook, perhaps knowing that there would be a good chance of a sharp drop in ratings if they didn't bring her back.
  • 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:

  ...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.)[3]


Music

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's record label once insisted that he include a parody of the then hot new single, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" for his Dare To Be Stupid album. Al himself didn't want to and responded to the pressure by intentionally making "Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch" as lame as possible. (Weird Al fans widely consider it his worst song by a wide margin.)
    • 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.
  • 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 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: another version of the story holds that Morrison was simply very nervous going onstage, and forgot to change the line.
  • 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". Awkward Hilarity Ensued.
  • 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...?

 We're just knocked out

We heard about the sell-out

You've got to get an album out;

you owe it to the people.

We're so happy we can hardly count!

  • Janelle Monae'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...

  • Speaking of Lupe Fiasco, he 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").
  • 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 was, before switching record labels, constantly hounded by Virgin Media 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 which reads 'FUCK OFF RB' (Richard Branston being the head of Virgin at the time). Immediately after switching to Warner, he proceeded to produce and release Tubular Bells 2.


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 paraphrasements 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.


Tabletop Games

  • In prior editions of Warhammer 40000, 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. 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 arent 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.
  • 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 the main character Mangara.
    • They also created Telim'tor, which is an anagram of Mr. Toilet.
  • For Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition, they created "iconic" characters for each class to be part of the art for the books. One of them, Redgar the fighter, was born from Executive Meddling, forced to be a generic white male fighter. The artists has their revenge by making something horrible happen to him in almost every single picture Redgar was in.


Video Games

  • 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 Mario game also use pre-rendered 3D graphics. Miyamoto, who 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 Yoshis Island.
    • The game still used pre-rendered models in the introduction and ending, though.
    • And we did ultimately get a pre-rendered graphic Mario game on the SNES... but it wasn't any less controversial because it was an RPG.
  • Arguable in the case on 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 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 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 tank called an '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 in his artistic integrity). It's kind of a depressing game.
    • There was actually a double one on Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots. 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.
  • Darkened Skye may be this, depending on how charitable you'd like to be towards Mars, Inc. in their commissioning of the game, and whether or not you'd be willing to eat candy that's just been floating there, in the same spot, for years, waiting for you to come pick it up.


Webcomics

 "I almost made Davan the dad to spite some hate mail I received -- then I realized that's just as stupid as the hate mail."


Western Animation

  • Here's a typical action from Paul Dini on anything in the DCAU. Make a scene that gets rejected. Then take it and make it even more of whatever got it rejected. They never noticed.
  • 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, 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).
      • They finally learned when they released the addition of Elmyra and suffered the incurring wrath of angry fans, who already hated her from Tiny Toon Adventures.
      • Their insistence on Elmyra -- even making a Poorly-Disguised Pilot for her own show as a special earlier on -- is particularly bewildering, as her entire gimmick is that she's an intolerably obnoxious idiot who drives away or kills anything that stays around her for more than five minutes.
  • One episode of Invader Zim 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.
    • Vasquez was forbidden to use characters from any of his previous work but he pretty openly used characters from Squee in Zim's class, not to mention Ms. Bitters...
      • Johnny has a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo in the Halloween episode, and Filler Bunny is pretty prominently seen at the start of one episode (the organ one?)
    • One episode was supposed to have GIR covered in blood (for some unknown reason) but the network nixed it. As a result, the animators purposefully hid frames of "Bloody GIR" in several episodes.
    • The episode "Mysterious Mysteries" seems to be a Take That to both Nick 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...
  • 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 anymore 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.
  • Craig McCracken intentionally made The Powerpuff Girls Movie Darker and Edgier than the show because he was unhappy with the way Cartoon Network was marketing the show. They were promoting it as a show for girls, when he meant it to be for everybody -- girls, boys, and grownups.
    • He later regretted this. He stated in an interview that he considers it a miscalculation -- the movie was too dark and serious to fit in alongside the series' usual loopy comedy.
    • Though, when he originally started developing the franchise, he definitely intended it to be Darker and Edgier than its final incarnation ended up. When he started it, for example, its working title was "The Whoopass Girls".
  • When Disney brought back Kim Possible, one of the stipulations was that the writers would have to make one episode teaching kids to eat healthy. The writers decided to make it 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.
    • Also, this is how Rufus was created. 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.
  • American Dragon Jake Long was almost nothing but this.
  • South Park has had it in two ways: with Comedy Central (on "Cartoon Wars Part II" they forbade showing Muhammad... and the reply was adding George W. Bush, Carson Kressley, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Jesus Christ defecating on each other and the American flag; then when they refused to let the Prophet appear again in "Imaginationland", a coke-snorting Buddha appeared) and the MPAA in The Movie (Matt Stone reported that every time they were asked to cut something, they would re-submit the film with a replacement "ten times worse and five times as long"; also, this - though the horse was replaced with coprophilia in the movie).
  • 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.


Real Life

  • 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.
    • By far, no ride has suffered more than "Journey Into Imagination". The designers of the latest version knew this too and included the original theme song with new lyrics and as many remnants from 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.
    • 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 heads.
  • During World War Two, Nazi Germany occupied the British Channel Islands. They also printed their own stamps during this time. After the war, the British printer was accused for 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!") Here's the story.

Notes

  1. because of the (still) ongoing legal dispute between DC and the Siegel/Shuster estates over the copyright to Superman was, at the time, tilting towards DC losing the rights to Superboy. DC reacted, naturally enough, by killing Superboy off (and having recurring antagonist Superboy-Prime change his name to Superman-Prime). Superboy's resurrection came when the courts made it clear that it was only "young Clark" Superboy who the estates might have a claim on, and other characters using the name belonged to DC. In a nice touch, the villain in the miniseries that Superboy and Kid Flash returned in? Superboy-Prime, going back to his original name
  2. and cathartic
  3. He was renamed Chris Blake.
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