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Often given as the public reason that a person involved with a show leaves the project.

Usage: "Joe Smith left the cast of Murder on Cliche Street this season over Creative Differences with the production team."

When they actually mean it, it refers to irreconcilably different artistic visions for the show. For actors, it often means, "I'm not getting paid enough to put up with this." For writers and other members of the creative team, it usually means, "I've had it with the producers, the executives, and Standards & Practices telling me what I can and can't write." For musicians, it often means "I can't stand the assholes in my band". In most cases, it's just a euphemism for, "I got in a big fight with the producer." Likely anytime some one mentions "scheduling conflicts", it usually means there's been a conflict between the director and producers or studio. Then the director quits or is fired.

Leads easily to more cynical uses: when John Rhys-Davies left the cast of Sliders just as the show had been retooled away from Speculative Fiction and toward "rip off whatever movie is popular this week", he cited Creative Differences with the writers as the reason. Most observers concluded, "He was creative; they weren't."

Examples of Creative Differences include:

Anime and Manga

  • Director Hideaki Anno left two-thirds of the way through the anime adaptation of His & Her Circumstances due to creative differences with the mangaka, Masami Tsuda. She basically loathed how the anime was made way too comedic and weird for her taste (plus the manga would later take a much darker road) and insisted on Anno to be fired. Anno's assistant Kazuya Tsurumaki completed the series, since back then he was into a Romantic Comedy-like style that was a bit more to Tsuda's liking.
  • Yoshiyuki Tomino and Mamoru Nagano famously clashed in both their best known collaborations, Zeta Gundam and Heavy Metal L-Gaim. Tomino, who was heavily depressed at the time, tended to create a bleak, sombre works filled with angst and suffering, while Nagano, while not without an occasional Grimdark moment of his own, nevertheless wished for less dark storytelling and, being infamously possessive of his works, a bigger creative control. Things were hot enough that Nagano ended up starting his own L-Gaim, and Tomino apparently made him one of the prototypes for the main Zeta villain, Paptimus Scirocco.
  • This is one of the reasons why it took seventeen years for a second Fruits Basket anime to be greenlighted; the creator Natsuki Takaya—who due to a hand injury was able to have direct involvement with the anime—and the director Akitaro Daichi basically drove each other nuts. During production, Takaya gained a reputation for being a control freak. For one, she demanded that big-name seiyuu be cast for her characters, something Daichi normally avoids. She also had issues with the animation director and character designer, since they based themselves on her old artwork rather than her then more recent one. As a result, the Studio Deen people said they wouldn't let any director except Daichi handle the series, and Daichi stated very clearly he wouldn't work with Takaya again. So the 2019-2021 anime was produced by TMS and directed by Yoshihide Ibata instead, with Takaya as an executive producer.
  • It's been rumored for years that one of the reasons why Yu Yu Hakusho as a whole ended up rather abruptly is that Yoshihiro Togashi, on top of having a terrible health AND quite the creator's block that made it hard to keep up, was displeased with the changes that the anime director Noriyuki Abe made to the story in the TV series.
  • According to an interview, Noriaki "Tite" Kubo was NOT happy with the changes made to the Bleach anime (also directed by Noriyuki Abe). Kubo says that at some point the differences between manga and anime caused him "stomach aches", so later he pretty much demanded to be sent the scripts so he could correct them. He also refused to be credited as producer in the fourth movie, since several of his contributions were ignored so he felt that he wasn't contributing enough.


  • John Wagner and Alan Grant had a bit of a falling out in the late 80s over the direction in which to take Judge Dredd; Wagner wanted to humanize Dredd more, while Grant wanted to Flanderize him into being more of a dark Parody of strict authority figures. As the strip's original creator, Wagner won out, and so Grant left, but as a consolation was made the sole writer Strontium Dog.


  • This is believed to be one of the MANY reasons why Bizzy Bone of the rap group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony wanted to stay away from the group for awhile, as his solo music was going into a completely different direction.
    • After the post 2010 implosion of the group, many think that Krayzie Bone is now having creative differences with the group and vice versa.
  • Ryan Ross and Jon Walker as of July 2009 left Panic! at the Disco to form their own band, The Young Veins (whose sound is completely different from their previous band; compare Panic's latest song New Perspective with TYV's Change ), for this stated reason. This led to many fans casting blame on them for not trying hard enough to work out the differences with fellow band mates Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith.
  • Why Cee-Lo left Goodie Mob to eventually form Gnarls Barkley. Goodie Mob had eschewed the social-consciousness of their first two albums in favor of a more crunk style with World Party, which Cee-Lo hated. Judging from his solo albums and work with Danger Mouse, it's very similar to the Sliders case. He was creative; they weren't.
  • Inverted with the Beautiful South who, according to leader Paul Heaton, split due to 'musical similarities'.
  • The Beatles all seemed to develop different musical styles by the mid-60's (The White Album was seen by many fans as being "four solo albums in one" rather than a true band album), and they began to feel a bit of this. Especially George, whose growing songwriting skills weren't fully acknowledged by the Lennon/McCartney pair...
    • But the creative differences were at their worst with Lennon and McCartney themselves. John wanted to make more "Revolution #9" type songs and more experimental work, more True Art, regardless of what the public might think. Paul didn't want John's work of this nature to have his name on it unless he was an active participant. John had grown tired of Paul's Signature Style. And everyone was tired of Paul in Control Freak mode.
    • The movie Let It Be is essentially what happens when someone has a film camera and films a band suffering from Creative Differences—lots of bitter, snide passive aggressive sniping. There's one famous scene with Paul McCartney and George Harrison having a bitter fight over a chord.
    • Doug, in the first episode of the Disney season, had its Beatles homage the Beets break up for the same reasons; the press conference consisted of all four members facing away from each other (and the microphone) saying "I'm not gonna tell them, YOU tell them!" before one of them finally takes the mic and says "We're breaking up the band."
  • The Adventures of Duane and BrandO experienced this trope at one point. It turned from a permanent breakup in to a 6 month hiatus, with the band members claiming that the breakup was over a stolen ice cream sandwich and keeping their respective new projects open for when they needed to do solo work.
  • This was said to be the reason why Dave Navarro was fired from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
  • On April 9, 1962, prior to a Carnegie Hall performance of Brahms' Piano Concerto in D minor with Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic and Glenn Gould as the soloist, Bernstein uttered an unusual disclaimer that he would conduct the piece according to Gould's unorthodox conception, one quite incompatible with his own. Though he allowed due respect for Gould's artistry despite their creative disagreement, his introductory speech became somewhat notorious.
  • Nodded to by Disney sitcom Even Stevens. When asked about the creative differences that led to the breaking up of the band with friend Twitty, Louis explains, "I'm creative, and he's different."
  • There were lots of other factors, but part of the reason for At The Drive-In breaking up was a legitimate case of this - Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez wanted to go in a more progressive direction, while the rest of the band wanted to focus on melodic rock. This is pretty obvious if you compare the two groups they splintered off into, The Mars Volta and Sparta.
  • Supertramp lost Roger Hodgson to this.
  • There was always some tension between multi-instrumentalist John Cale and front-man Lou Reed during their days in The Velvet Underground, but matters came to a head in the summer of 1968 when deciding what to do after the sonic assault of White Light/White Heat. The final result was Reed threatening to dissolve the group unless Cale was sacked, which Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker reluctantly complied.
  • Though only Greg Ginn knows for certain why he chose to break up Black Flag, Henry Rollins is certain that the break-up was because of this: Black Flag kept changing musical direction to the point of confusing fans, and Rollins suggested to Ginn that they release similar-sounding albums consecutively to stabilize their direction. Ginn, who up to that point had been unchallenged in determining the band's direction, was taken aback, assholishly retaliated by burying Rollins' vocals in the mix of their last album In My Head, and Black Flag broke up soon thereafter.
  • This was the reason that Moonshake effectively split into two bands after one full album and an extended play, Dave Callahan and Mig Moreland continuing as Moonshake while Margaret Fiedler and John Frenett formed Laika. Many fans consider Laika the "true" continuation of the band and discount the two later albums under the Moonshake name.

Film and Live Action TV

  • After his experience with Firefly, Joss Whedon refused to work with Fox for years because of this. He only relented with Dollhouse because star Eliza Dushku had a 3-series deal with the network; Dushku brought Whedon in.
  • The aforementioned Sliders example.
    • And it's not the only case or even the first, as creator/showrunner Tracy Tormé left the show shortly before John Rhys-Davies did (and for pretty much the same reasons).
  • Forest Whitaker left the live action Fat Albert film due to artistic differences with Bill Cosby.
  • Jack Nicholson and director Milos Forman had a falling out over Jack's character's motivation during pre-production on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, leading to Jack and Milos speaking through the cinematographer and Jack not contributing anything to the film's DVD special features. The cinematographer in question, Bill Butler, was himself a replacement for Haskell Wexler who had quit the movie due to - you guessed it - "creative differences."
  • An inversion of the typical "actor/writer leaves because he's pissed with the producers" setup of this trope was Growing Pains, where it was the producers who quit after Kirk Cameron became a born-again Christian and started forcing his values onto the production, pissing off just about the entire cast and crew in the process.
    • It's worth noting that the producers tried to get rid of Kirk first, but ABC executives told them basically, "It's not your faces on the cover of 'Tiger Beat'." So they left.
  • A notable play on this phrase came when Harry Shearer left Saturday Night Live in 1984. When a reporter mentioned to Shearer that this trope was the show's stated reason for his departure, he quipped, "Yeah, I was creative, and they were different."
  • Conan O'Brien left the The Tonight Show in the beginning of 2010, after only six months of hosting it, due to his refusal to let NBC move the show a half hour later in their schedule in order to give the fledgling Jay Leno Show a boost in ratings, claiming that it would ultimately be detrimental to The Tonight Show.
    • At the end of the day, Conan left because Leno had the better contract. Leno's primetime show was tanking in the ratings to the point that local affiliates, worried about flagging viewership for the 10/11-o'clock news due to the unpopular Leno lead-in, threatened to drop it themselves. NBC was forced into a situation where somebody had to go. Breaking Conan's contract cost NBC $45 million, but breaking Leno's would have cost $100 million, so NBC presented Conan with an unacceptable situation to convince him to accept a buyout. A month later, Conan was gone and Leno was back on The Tonight Show.
  • The Warriors is known for Fox (Thomas Waites) leaving before the end of filming. Suffice to say they dropped him... Very painfully
  • Power Rangers writer Judd Lynn eventually quit because he disliked Executive Producer Jonathon Tzachor's preference to directly copy-paste plots from the original Super Sentai seasons (as he best demonstrates in Power Rangers Wild Force and Power Rangers Samurai).
  • For several years, Carroll O'Connor refused to work with CBS after they denied him the chance to shoot a series finale for the All in The Family-spinoff Archie Bunker's Place. He would eventually return to work with them on the In the Heat of the Night television series five years later.
  • This is the reason Ronald D. Moore left Voyager and effectively Star Trek itself after more than a decade of writing for three different series. He apparently couldn't abide the controlling nature of how the show was written.
  • Jack Klugman didn't care for Glen A. Larson's approach on Quincy, eventually telling NBC that either Larson left or he would. The network chose Klugman (the show lasted a lot longer without Larson than with, effectively vindicating Klugman... soapboxing and all).

Professional Wrestling

  • An occasional occurrence in Professional Wrestling, sometimes with mixed results.
    • More common in wrestling is the phrase "left to pursue future endeavors".
      • There's also "Confronting their personal demons" which usually translates as "too drunk/stoned to work".

Web Comics

  • A source of contention between some fans (and ex-fans) of Megatokyo is the "creative differences" that led to the break-up between the artist (and current writer) Fred Gallagher and former writer Rodney Caston, ultimately resulting in the comic's turn from straight comedy to dramedy. It is telling that the last comic Rodney wrote before Fred took over pretty much predicted exactly how the comic under Fred would be... kinda like a Dating Sim.

Video Games

  • Toby Gard, creator of Tomb Raider, had left the franchise by Tomb Raider II due to being pressured by the higher ups in making Lara Croft to appeal more to the male demographic. Gard didn't like the idea of having Lara's character being over sexualized.
    • Ironically, he later went on to create Galleon, a game which featured two sexy lead females instead of one...
  • Master of Orion III suffered something of a civil war on the creative team between the lead designer and the art director. The lead designer, Alan Emrich, wanted to more or less continue in the tradition of MoO II, adding more features such as religion, governmental corruption and the exploration of black holes, and of course new races and new racial abilities, but not fundamentally breaking away from the 4X Space Opera mold that had made II so successful. The art director, Rantz Hoseley, was having none of that, though: he wanted to have a more realistic simulation of a complex galactic empire, one that you couldn't run yourself and had to automate, and he also hated the humanoid aliens of the series (comparing them to People in Rubber Suits). Hoseley won the internal fight, and Emrich was forced out, leading to Master Of Orion III.
  • One of the main reasons along with poor sales as to why Clover Studios left Capcom and became Platinum Games at Sega.

Western Animation