• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

"You people out there give us something more than just record sales
You give us something to hate
And we hate you

You brainless mutants"
Dethklok, "Fansong"

Creative jobs—acting, writing, making music or films, etc—are often seen by their fans as some kind of Utopian ideal; you're creating art, using your imagination, and are apparently freed from the nine-to-five wage slave grind. Writers, actors, voice actors and artists seem to have an edge over the rest of us; they're doing something they enjoy, something really creative, something that makes people happy. How could you not enjoy a job like that?

Oh, it's possible. Fact is, creative jobs remain just that: jobs. And while they can be fun and interesting, like any job—people wouldn't be paid to do them otherwise—they can also be draining; factor in deadlines, editing, Executive Meddling, rejection letters, failed auditions, tedious PR drives and, of course, the dreaded Fan Dumb, and it's apparent that there are things that can make what may have been a dream job seem more like a nightmare. Whilst many artists cope admirably with all of this, others can suffer and become quite disillusioned.

Sometimes this can result in an Artist Disillusionment Farewell, where the character publicly ends his career - often with a heavy dose of Take That, Audience!.

Sometimes, however, it's only temporary—the artist might simply be having a bad day. Sometimes they might just be a bit shaken by their circumstances and surroundings; whilst some thrive in the limelight, others—particularly more behind-the-scenes figures such as writers and directors—may find being faced with crowds of fans and interviewers unsettling and nerve-wracking, which can make their mood sharper than it otherwise would be. In either case, meet them when they're in a better mood or in more comfortable circumstances, they're fine.

True Artist Disillusionment is when the artist just isn't having any fun at all any more and is making no secret of that fact. They've given up being a Slave to PR, and as such are rude and dismissive in public appearances and interviews, snap the head off fans who manage to fray their one remaining nerve, and generally come across as a grouchy, impatient jackass. Their work may even begin to suffer. They just don't care anymore. And this lack of caring tends to express itself through insults towards their audience and fans.

Over-familiarity can play a part; some artists have been doing their job for decades, which is easily long enough for boredom to kick in. They might be sick of all the Executive Meddling they have to face, or have achieved Protection From Editors to such a degree that anyone daring to raise a word of criticism is going to rub them up the wrong way. And sometimes the artist is just naturally a bit grouchy, intolerant and impatient, or is a Small Name, Big Ego type. All of which is going to make an unpleasant experience for the poor sap who happens to get on the wrong side of their temper.

It's not all one-way, however; unfortunately, the artist's fans can play a not-insignificant role in their idol's disillusionment. There's a reason some of them are called 'Fan Dumb', after all—too many obnoxious or arrogant fans can turn the artist off their fan-base entirely, fairly or not. Where the artist sees their creativity as just a job, the fan may see it as a holy way of life, which can create tension if the artist isn't treating the property as seriously as the fan would like. The fan may believe that their devotion to the product means that they have part or even full ownership over it, and if they have no hesitation upon bluntly expressing their views about it to the artist, this is going to grate even if the artist doesn't have Protection From Editors; the artist is the one who has to make the thing, after all. A Broken or Unpleasable Fanbase can also have this effect, since no matter what the artist does they're still going to have to listen to someone whine about it.

In either case, Artist Disillusionment and Fan Disillusionment may have a circular relationship; the fan might suffer disillusionment after their idol was cruel or dismissive towards them, but the artist might have only been that way because they'd been disillusioned from having to deal with fifty obnoxious examples of Fan Dumb before them and had run out of patience.

As a coping strategy, some artists adopt Alter Ego Acting to counter possible Artist Disillusionment. Others simply don't bother with public appearances and disappear from public scrutiny. May lead to Creator Breakdown or Creator Backlash.

Artist Disillusionment is against fans. Creator Backlash is against works.

Examples of Artist Disillusionment include:

Anime and Manga

  • In the American Manga Drama Con, famous fictional artist Lida Zeff has shades of this. When talking to a hopeful with dreams of becoming a manga artist, Lida lists all the difficulties of being an artist: finances, inconsistent job flow, criticism, self-doubt, and the difficulties of the business end of things. Nonetheless, she still seems to find enjoyment in her job even with the disillusionment
  • In Bakuman。, Kazuya Hiramaru, an overworked businessman, picked up a copy of Weekly Shonen Jump on the way to work, decided he could draw manga for a living, and quit his job that day. He's now so overworked that he often does not sleep, drinks himself silly, and the only thing keeping him drawing is the fact that his editor knows a lot of pretty girls and promises to introduce him to them if he does well.


  • In the graphic novels about Johanna and Helena, Helena becomes a successful stand up comedian, but really hates it. The worst part is that her inane babble is considered deep and true art and all that kind of bullshit. The emperor is indeed naked, but in this case the emperor and the child is the same person. (Actually, the authors doesn't portray her shows as bad. Them being "inane babble" is her own opinion.) Eventually she publicly denounce it all, pretty much claiming that the word must be a Crapsack World after all since people obviously actually like a show such as hers.
  • In one issue of Riskhospitalet, a news anchorman is saying all kinds of nasty things during a show broadcast in real time. As his finish his speech with mooning the camera, his staff receives a phone fcall from the hospital - explaining that they mixed up the lab results and that the anchorman is in fact not dying.
  • Spider Jerusalem, of Transmetropolitan, has something of a hate/loathe/disgust/contempt/pity complex regarding his fans. They read his journalism (which is good enough to be art, by any means) and find his exploits entertaining, and occasionally they listen to him if he shouts loud enough. On the other hand, they don't care enough, they don't get the message, and generally let him down. The volume New Scum ends with him chucking grenades off a roof because, despite his column, the public finally followed his advice and booted out the Beast, but elected a president Jerusalem found even more loathsome.


  • In Groundhog Day, the protagonist really despises his fanbase, but normally keeps it off camera. As he's stuck in a Groundhog Day Loop he sometimes starts to bitch publicly as a way of venting his frustration. Luckily for him, the timeloop didn't end on any of those particular days.
  • The film Galaxy Quest is all about this phenomenon, and about the disillusionment and sense of lost opportunity that can result when an actor has to spend a large chunk of his/her life trapped by the popularity of a single role. The Shakespearean-trained Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman) seemed to suffer the most out of all the title show's cast members, since he had given up a respectable stage career to play a Rubber Forehead Alien. Of course, the experience is revitalized for all of them and the illusion restored by the end of the movie.
  • Billy Mack from Love Actually is a former big-name rock star who's fallen on hard times, and he just has stopped giving a damn and completely snaps when his newest desperate attempt to climb back to the top is an album full of song covers with slightly altered lyrics to make them Christmas-themed. At every public appearance he gleefully lambastes the album while still asking people to buy it, just so the number one Christmas album won't be a cookie cutter boy band. It works.
  • Mike Connor in The Philadelphia Story is a poet whose poetry book netted him something in the range of $700, and so puts on a front as Jerk with a Heart of Gold, working as a tabloid reporter to pay the bills. Upper class Tracy Lord, whom he's spying on, offers to sponsor his artistic endeavors only to have him shoot it down as old-fashioned and unwanted charity.
  • The documentary Teenage Paparazzo discusses this concept. A main point of the film is that celebrities in Los Angeles are just doing a job like everyone else, but face constant harassment from fans and paparazzi - so much so that they've become disillusioned and insular from the majority of society. Several examples of celebrities (including Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan) who've gone down a self-destructive path due to the pressures of fame and a demanding legion of photographers trying to get their photograph are shown to prove this point.



  • The "fame sucks" song has a long-standing place in rock and roll. One example is "Across The Sea" by Weezer, which details Rivers Cuomo's dissatisfaction about the music business while singing about a fan letter from Japan.
  • Barenaked Ladies go into this in "Testing 1, 2, 3".
    • They cover it again in "Running Out of Ink" which is all about a songwriter in the midst of a break-down.
  • Counting Crows practically made their entire second album, Recovering The Satellites, about this, although "Have You Seen Me Lately" and "Monkey" particularly stand out. Ironic, perhaps, when you think about how their first hit, "Mr. Jones," is about how much they want to become famous. Across a Wire, a live album which the group put out at about the same time as Recovering, contained an acoustic, much more somber version of Mr. Jones, about how wanting to be a star is "about as fucked up as you can be".
  • The Beatles famously dealt with this - they stopped touring in 1966 due to several factors, most of which can be traced to disillusionment with touring (due to issues from protests about the famous "Bigger Than Jesus" comment to being unable to hear themselves play at venues).
    • George Harrison in particular suffered a serious case of this when it came to the Beatles, having publicly acknowledged on numerous occasions that the allure had worn well off for him by about 1965 or thereabouts. The fact that John Lennon and Paul McCartney were for the most part rather dismissive of his own songwriting efforts and tended to treat him as the baby of the group because he was the youngest didn't help matters much.
  • Pink Floyd suffered from two major bouts of this. The first affected Syd Barrett, who found himself increasingly uneasy with their growing exposure, audience sizes and TV appearances, and didn't want the group to become any more famous. None of the others agreed with this, their rising fame was impossible to halt, and Syd sought greater and greater refuge in drugs, leading to his downward spiral into paranoia and insanity. (This was later commemorated in the album Wish You Were Here.) Roger Waters also suffered from the vast audiences and changed audience composition brought by their mainstream success following The Dark Side of the Moon. While their old psychedelic fans tended to be quiet during the numbers and appreciative at the end of them, the new mainstream fans, though very appreciative, were also very loud and rowdy, and usually spent the whole set calling for "Money". This culminated the infamous incident during the Animals tour where Roger spat on a particularly loud and rowdy fan (and the fan loved it). This lead to the jokey suggestion that they needed a wall between him and the audience... which led to The Wall.
  • ABBA wrote two songs about this, "I'm A Marionette" and the live-only "Get on the Carousel". Both songs are from an unfinished musical called "The Girl with the Golden Hair", a story more than loosely based on Agnetha's life, and how she went from being an enthusiastic young singer excited to begin her career ("Thank You For The Music" and "I Wonder") to being an exploited media-puppet trapped in a cycle of terror and despair ("I'm A Marionette" and "Get on the Carousel"). Some lines of "Super Trouper" also address the disillusionment and isolation experienced by everyone in the band.
  • Varg Vikernes has a lot to say about modern Black Metal fandom and the new BM bands too... and nothing nice.
  • As the '70s progressed, 10cc became increasingly disillusioned with everything about international touring. The 1978 album Bloody Tourists is most certainly not intended as a Take That against holidaymakers, and the Hipgnosis sleeve image, of a man on a beach with a map plastered over his face, was commissioned to "Sum up in one image how we feel on tour."
  • When the Carpenters first began performing, Karen Carpenter, who had been drumming since school, took charge of the drum kit but also sang. As her amazing voice made its mark on the growing audiences, she came under increasing pressure from managers and promoters to stop hiding behind her drums, glam up and become the lead singer and frontwoman - none of which she wanted to do, and all of which made her uneasy. When her hand was eventually forced, the resulting stress, and the various stage fright coping methods she tried, all contributed to her mental and physical health issues and, ultimately, her untimely death.
  • Satirist Tom Lehrer grew to hate touring so much he retired to academia after releasing only a handful of records. Ongoing political events only further decreased his desire to perform again. (Although he did rack up a little Sesame Street Cred.)

Video Games

  • Quite a lot of veteran MUGEN content creators/converters aren't too attached to the engine itself and its community either.
  • There are those who have theorized that this may have been the case with Hideo Kojima toward the Metal Gear Solid series after having received death threats. Considering how the fourth game turned out this is entirely possible and people have written quite alot about it.

Web Comic

Web Original

  • Occurs in Commentary! The Musical, halfway between parody and Take That Us: Joss Whedon's song, Heart (Broken) is a meditation on postmodernism and fan interaction so depressing it makes everyone else flee the room. Also has a killer refrain.
  • Many of the more well known people in the YouTube Poop community suffer from this, and have outright given up on a poop "series" or pooping in general just to spite the fans who ruined the fun for them.
    • The reason why Walrus Guy retired from pooping is because he feared that was what he was becoming best known for, rather than flash animation where his real passion was.
  • Tucker Max has been suffering from quite a bit of this, having run into a combination of having his target audience outgrow him, and finding his current audience childish and stupid.
  • According to the Channel Awesome Wiki, Bennett the Sage retired his "Masterpiece Fanfic Theatre" series because it "wasn't enjoyable for him anymore and he didn't want to spend the energy editting and producing it. "

Western Animation

  • The band Dethklok from Metalocalypse qualify. While they love their music, they dislike working on new albums, hate their fans with a passion (as best seen in the song "Fansong" for the members of their fanclub who showed up for fan appreciation day). They also dislike other people who work in the music industry with them (Nathan sighing at another "douchebag industry party" at the launch of their new album).
  • On The Simpsons, Bart imagines life as a rock star performing a hit song called "My Fans are Stupid Pigs". The audience loves it.
    • He also dealt with artist disillusionment when hired on to the Krusty the Clown show as a one-line wonder, complaining about the hollowness of his catchphrase.

Real Life

  • Craig Charles (Lister in Red Dwarf) has expressed his exasperation at spending "half (his) adult life at Red Dwarf conventions" on the DVD documentaries of the series. Given that Red Dwarf has been on the go since 1988...that's a lot of conventions.
  • Star Trek
    • Robert Beltran, the actor who played Commander Chakotay on Star Trek: Voyager. Midway through the show's run, Beltran started giving interviews to Trek fansites critiquing the rabid fanbase, the ridiculous Techno Babble and the weak writing. Reportedly, Paramount shut him up during the final season by giving him an out-of-nowhere relationship with Jeri Ryan's character, Seven of Nine. There have been stories of fans actually breaking into tears at conventions after listening to his rants, and he's never shown any indication of changing his stance over the years (an online promo shot in 2008 for a play Beltran was starring in at a Los Angeles theatre had him passive-aggressively mocking his fans and telling them to support him by buying tickets). Surprisingly, the producers never fired Beltran during the show's run - when he demanded an enormous raise in a deliberate bid to get fired, they simply handed over the cash.
    • For many years, the cast of Star Trek: The Original Series showed signs of this, as they were angered over the constant pressure from fans and executives who only saw them as the characters they played on the show. This came to the forefront in the 1980's for several of them, including William Shatner's notable anti-Trek rant on an episode of Saturday Night Live, and Leonard Nimoy's famous tell-all book "I Am Not Spock" (where he categorically stated that there was much more to his life than a character he played for three seasons and a handful of movies). Notably, the 80's book Trek Memories went into detail about the crew's hatred of their fame and fanbase, but eventually, they all came around and acknowledged their characters again.
    • A notable aversion was James "Montgomery Scott" Doohan, who absolutely loved the convention circuit and went out of his way to accommodate fans. On numerous occasions he has told a story about a fan who came to a convention, only to tell him that she intended to commit suicide afterwards. Doohan pulled a Sheherezade and told her that he expected to see her at the next convention, and the next, and the next, and it apparently worked.
    • Gene Roddenberry himself reportedly did not want to be involved with Star Trek: The Next Generation because of all the stress involved with the original series.
    • Be careful about mentioning Star Trek: The Next Generation to Patrick Stewart though. He's apparently heard enough about it that he now takes a rather dim view of fans gushing about his Picard. He's defended the show itself on several occasions though, so his disillusionment is purely with overzealous fans.
  • The "Hollywood Diva" archetype is a strange example. They're expected to be nasty to the press and condescending to their fans - in fact, most of them retain their following due to their negative attitude, not in spite of it. After all, when did E! ever do a special on "The Top 100 Genuinely Nice Actresses in Hollywood"? Actually, that doesn't sound like a bad idea...
  • Noted science fiction author Harlan Ellison has developed something of a notorious reputation for being somewhat... crabby, due to a combination of a willingness to speak his mind and an unwillingness to tolerate fools gladly, (and a willingness of fans and other writers to prank him [dead link] for this) which has led to some interesting confrontations both with fans and professionals alike. Ellison insists, however, that this element of his personality has been exaggerated, and that he is not nearly as mean-spirited and unpleasant as the stories about him would have you believe. On the other hand, he's called people he didn't like, "n****rs with attitude." Though maybe he's just a N.W.A. fan.
    • When Michael Krahulik and Jerry Holkins were guests of honor at an event with Ellison, Ellison mocked Krahulik (Gabe) in front of the entire crowd merely for not having gone to college. Holkins (Tycho) summed it up like this:

Let's be clear here: We're talking about a person that a couple of total assholes find rude.

      • Mike got him back with this line.

"While I've got you here, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the Star Wars stuff you wrote."

  • It's debatable as to whether or not he still loves the work he's done over his decades-long career, but Frank Oz, the Muppeteer from Jim Henson's show and long-time comedy partner, never does any public appearances except for a few every several years, insists that fans see him as just another guy who happened to get lucky instead of a dazzling super-star, and publicly bashed Disney's revival after reading the script and tuned down the offer to work on it. When he is in a public event, he is very gracious to fans, thankfully.
  • In the 19th century, Russian playwright Nikolai Gogol wrote a often cited letter about how he was disappointed by the way the actors played the characters in "the Government Inspector" (also called "The Inspector General"), completely misinterpreting his intentions and failing to give them proper depth. He was generally quite prone to such breakdowns, though.
  • Bonus Stage creator Matt Wilson ended the cartoon one 'season' earlier than he originally intended, citing at first his desire to make money from his animations, then changing his mind and saying that he just got sick of making video-game references and the cartoon's trademark self-deprecatory humor. After pitching some ideas for a new series of his, Wilson seems to have cut off connection with the internet, and what he's up to now is anyone's guess. (Mostly criticizing webcomics on The Awful Forums.)
  • Arthur Conan Doyle eventually became sick and tired of writing Sherlock Holmes stories, to the point where he eventually killed the character off in The Adventure of the Final Problem. Fans were horrified and outraged, but Dr. Doyle was initially unmoved. He had a change of heart, however, when magazine editors began offering him absurd amounts of money and when his mother asked him to restart writing about him. It seems that Dr. Doyle simply needed some time to recharge his creative batteries, as post-revival adventures like The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans, The Adventure of the Dancing Men and The Adventure of the Devil's Foot are all excellent stories that rival or even exceed some of the early works.
    • In a prologue to the final set of stories, Dr. Doyle mentioned how adult men who came up to him and said that his Holmes stories were some of their favorite stories as children didn't get the response from him that they'd anticipated. On the other hand, he also noted that writing Holmes stories hadn't prevented him from flexing his literary muscle in other areas. Even if the general public only associated him with his Holmes stories, The Lost World and Professor Challenger would both develop their own followings, and his non-fiction historical writing won him great praise in high society and even led him to be knighted by his king.
      • If those adult men addressed him as "Dr. Doyle" (instead of "Dr. Conan Doyle" or perhaps after 1902, "Sir Arthur") they would have found him particularly grumpy.
  • Tracey Torme, the creator of Sliders, had to deal with a whole ton of Executive Meddling, and according to the fan site Earth, he hated what the show turned into. Go to the pages about the double episode "Exodus", and read the part about what he thought of it, you'll see.
  • Dominic Fera is rather sick of The Lazer Collection overshadowing the rest of his Youtube videos, as well as fans of the videos nagging him to hurry up on the next one.
  • Hideaki Anno was reputed to be so sick and tired of the Misaimed Fandom of Neon Genesis Evangelion as well as the death threats his fans sent him after the Gainax Ending of the series that he created a film that more or less replaced the last two episodes as the true ending. Without giving anything away, it was EXACTLY OPPOSITE of fans of the series wanted and, in some cases, expected. The clincher? The truth is this was the original ending before Executive Meddling, and with the exception of one or two scenes the work was not intended as a Take That against the fans. He did show the death threats sent to him on screen after the movie was over, and a certain scene of Fan Disservice is interpreted to target some of the fans. Never has a bigger "Fuck you." been given to an overly rabid fanbase.
  • Bob Budiansky, the first writer of the Marvel Transformers comic book who did a lot to develop the franchise, is a variant. He doesn't actually dislike Transformers fans, but he is rather bemused by the fact that they obsess over something that to him was just another creative job.
  • The cast of the second season of the 80's War of the Worlds series were subject to this. When the second season premiered, viewers were reportedly incensed that the entire framework of the series had changed (including the deaths of main characters and the changing of several plot-related elements) that they decided to make their displeasure known with hateful letters written to the cast and crew. Their biggest targets were actor Denis Forest and actress Catherine Disher (who played the leaders of the Morthrai on the show). Disher was so angered by the derogatory and negative letters she received (both during and after the show) that, to this day, she won't talk about it at fan conventions.
  • Noah Antwiler of The Spoony Experiment had enough Fan Dumb and outright Trolling in his fanbase that not only has he called out his fans numerous times, but has had his colleagues from become incredibly jumpy about doing cross-overs with him for fear of the sheer rain of hellish trolling they'll come under fire for.
  • This was a major factor why Dave Chappelle pulled the plug on his eponymous show, as he'd grown sick of all the people who would walk up to him saying lines like "I'm Rick James, bitch!" (once, while he was with his wife and children!), also believing they missed the point of his show's sketches. In one live concert, Dave chewed his fans out:

Chappelle: You know why my show is good? Because the network officials say you're not smart enough to get what I'm doing, and every day I fight for you. I tell them how smart you are. Turns out I was wrong. You people are stupid.

  • The late John Hughes once told someone that he left the Hollywood scene out of fear that it would have a negative impact on his kids. Plus, he felt that the film industry overworked his friend John Candy to the point that it killed the actor.
  • Follow Jhonen Vasquez on Twitter for a while and it becomes abundantly clear that his fans really irritate him.
  • Any artist who supposedly loves their job but wraps release after release after release after a certain point in ridiculous Development Hell (For no real reason). It sends mixed messages and always brings the need for Career Resurrection which may in turn tarnish their legacy. Sometimes abet this isn't always the case and sometimes artists do genuinely need a long break after working so hard for so long (5 years minimum)/had a kid or two (Britney Spears) and needs to focus on that/focus on their significant other instead of their budding career/become anonymous so that the pressures off (Amy Lee of Evanescence)...but more often then not they're jaded and disillusioned with their job and just don't feel the buzz anymore for art.