Protection From Editors

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
These guys exist for a good reason.

(This writer can't be blocked, targeted, dealt damage or enchanted by editorial criticism.)

The Executive Meddling we're most familiar with is the sort that ruins stories, characters, and entire franchises. So why, some may ask, does the job even exist? Put simply, because quite often they're actually right, it's just the negative effects of Executive Meddling that are always publicized. No creator is perfect, after all; sometimes they really do make unmarketable stories, Wall Bangers, and other mistakes on their own. Even the best need guidance.

When the creator is first starting out, the editors have the advantage in the artist-executive relationship. The creator's priority is just getting their stuff out there where people can see it, and in order to make that happen most people will acquiesce on the smaller details. The creator has no real leverage—if he objects too strenuously to executives meddling with his "vision", the executives have the option of shrugging their shoulders and moving on to one of the hundreds of other desperate artists looking for a break.

However, if the creator manages to pull off a hit, the dynamic changes. He eventually becomes marketable on star power alone. Whatever he produces is guaranteed to sell, regardless of quality, thanks to his established fanbase.

Not all creators actually appreciate the help they've received from the editors. As far as they're concerned, these short-sighted editors have been holding them back from true greatness. They might not actively think this, but getting a fanbase and thus lots of positive feedback gives some people a swelled head.

Due to editors not being willing or able to fight back against a brand-name star, the resulting new material from an old creator can end up being lower-quality. Sometimes very much lower, as the author's bad habits, Mary Sues, and Author Appeals come to the fore (sometimes to the horrified shock of the creator's fanbase), where before, such excesses would be quickly and ruthlessly excised. The creators get away with it because it'll sell anyway, and we don't want to risk pissing him off and having him bolt for another company.

One informal rule to see if this is the case is whether the author's name is the same size or bigger than the title on the front cover. If it is, you can safely bet the author falls under this trope. Publishing tends to be an industry of marginal profits (the book that sells has to pay for the ten that flop) so when you have an author who sells thousands or millions of copies on their name alone, why would you spend money editing their work?

Protection From Editors can also foster in some minds a feeling that they are also, by extension, given Protection From Critics as well, which results in great displeasure whenever any criticism is raised—even if that criticism is constructive, well-meant, and particularly if it is valid. Expect snide attacks on anyone who dares criticise them to follow.

Web Comics and other online media have a special risk of suffering from this. On the Internet, one can gather a fanbase with no editor whatsoever, and if you start listening to that fanbase praising you unconditionally, you're just asking for trouble.

A common pattern that occurs, especially with recent comic book adaptations is that the first film is either deemed great or at least decent considering the demands made by Executive Meddling. Because the first film was a success, the second movie is given more open range to experiment with. This either reveals that the executive meddling was what made the first movie good or it manages to top itself and be even better. If it reaches a third movie those involved may start to think they are invincible and shows why they needed someone to hinder them a little bit.

Contrast Executive Veto, Executive Meddling, Tough Act to Follow, Scapegoat Creator. Not entirely uncoincidentally, many creators with Protection From Editors are also Small Name Big Egos. Misblamed might result if the executive is blamed for what it actually the creator's fault. The trope's name is inspired by the TCG Magic: The Gathering, for a card ability that "protects" the card it appears on from something else in the game outlined by the ability itself. ("Protection From X", where "X" in this case is editors.)

Examples of Protection From Editors include:


Comic Books

  • Reginald Hudlin's current[when?] run on Black Panther has editors actively accommodating haphazard rewrites to make the character more "relevant" (Storm dropping out of the X-Men to marry him isn't even the worst of them).
  • Rob Liefeld started off as a fairly average artist on Hawk & Dove. Then he moved over to New Mutants and started getting popular; as his fame increased, his art became more and more stylized and less and less polished. Feet vanished, biceps bulged painfully as wrists and ankles shrank, and the entire work became more and more focused on guns, boobs, and muscles, to the detriment of everything else. Then other artists started copying him...
  • Frank Miller's All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder. A completely insane take on the character, which gave the world lines like "Are you retarded or something? Who the hell do you think I am? I'm the goddamn Batman." Keep in mind that it was originally supposed to be a return to the Silver Age Batman, and that Miller was responsible for the acclaimed Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns. On the other hand, there are arguments that it's intentionally So Bad It's Good. Arguably, much of his more recent[when?] work falls under this; consider Holy Terror, in which the main character (who was clearly intended to be the Dark Knight at first) fights Al-Qaeda. Really.
  • Grant Morrison in general. Especially since Dan Didio publicly stated he didn't understand most of Final Crisis, but trusted Morrison's word that it was fantastic.
    • Speaking of a major DC writer, Geoff Johns is also protected in such a way.
    • This is, again, not necessarily a bad thing. 52, regarded as one of the best comics in the last several years, was penned by both Morrison and Johns, plus two other well-known writers, Waid and Rucka. Between the four of them, they didn't need to bow to any editor. Although the end product was amazing, chief of DC, Dan Didio, was angry he got so little input on it, and made a new series that gave him total control. The result was Countdown.
  • A notable exception would by Gary Larson, of The Far Side fame. He's said more than once that the reason the comic kept going as long as it did was because of his editor rejecting especially tasteless cartoons.
    • Similarly, Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes commented in the introduction he wrote to the complete collection he was grateful to his editors. In his view, even when he thought a strip was funny, he would always read their criticisms of rejected material and learn from it.
  • The entire company of Image Comics is perhaps one of the quintessential examples of why Executive Meddling is not always a bad thing. Image Comics was founded in 1992 by a coalition of former Marvel comic creators, mostly so they could have greater financial and creative control over their work (Marvel's policy at the time was to merchandise the crap out of their characters while only paying artists freelance rates and modest royalties). Now in fairness, the success of Image did lead to a lot of changes in the structure of the comic industry, many of them for the better, and Image itself has changed a lot over the years. On the other hand, the early history of Image Comics in many ways practically personifies all the things modern comic fans despise about the Dark Age of Comics. The company's success only exacerbated the growing popularity of infamous Dark Age comic tropes like Darker and Edgier, the Dark Age of Supernames, and the Nineties Anti-Hero. Many of the more reviled icons of the Dark Age originate from or were associated with Image Comics. And all because someone thought it was a good idea to found a company based entirely on Protection From Editors.
  • Alan Moore as well. One past editor recalls that during one project in the 1980s, he decided to step back and involve himself as little as possible ("Who copy-edits Alan Moore, for God's sake?" according to That Other Wiki). Of course, that project was Watchmen, so maybe the trope isn't always bad.


  • During the "New Hollywood" of 1970s cinema, the star power of directors like Francis Ford Coppola (who became a star with The Godfather and Apocalypse Now), Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter), Martin Scorsese (Mean Streets, Taxi Driver), and Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider) all saw them follow up with flops, most being of the mega variety, due to studio execs leaving them alone in their creations—Coppola tanked with lavish romance-musical One From The Heart, Cimino with the disastrous Western epic Heaven's Gate, Scorsese with the dark musical New York, New York, and Dennis Hopper with the widely-derided The Last Movie. Some of these films were such grand disasters that they almost destroyed the careers of their creators (and, in the case of Heaven's Gate, bankrupted entire film studios), and led to a backlash that saw the executives firmly back in control by The Eighties.
  • Roberto Benigni. After the success of Life is Beautiful, he was given a massive budget to create his dream project: a version of Pinocchio starring the (lanky 50 year old) director as the eponymous puppet. It... didn't do so well.
  • George Lucas directed his most acclaimed films (e.g., American Graffiti and Star Wars) under the financial constraint typically imposed on B pictures to ensure profitability. Twenty-two years later, Lucas returned to direct without fear of meddling, and gave the world Jar-Jar Binks, lines about hating sand, and one of the most hated Big Nos in film history.
    • It's worth noting that Lucas' biggest successes tend to involve co-writers, screenwriters who completely rewrite his draft script, directors who deliberately depart from the script in ways that makes scenes more meaningful - and which were written at a time when he was regularly bouncing ideas off his personal friends (who happened to include some guy whose last name was Coppola, and another guy named Spielberg). The movies generally seen as his worst creative disasters are the ones where he retained full written and directorial control, didn't discuss the scripts with anyone before filming them, and which were apparently written at a time in his life when he spent far more time worrying about how the special effects would work than things like, oh, quality dialogue, characterization, or meaningful themes.
    • An oddity that some fans believe harmed the prequels is that Lucas gives the impression of trying to answer David Brin's infamous anti-Star Wars screed in the course of the production. Thus we have Amidala as an elected Queen in her teens, and other stupidities. (If the plot called for a pretty teenaged ruling queen, the rational option would have been to make Naboo a hereditary monarchy in the first place.)
    • Indeed, the Star Wars film widely regarded as the best (Empire Strikes Back) was the only Star Wars film that Lucas didn't have direct control over (Lucas was in California while it was being shot in England). He wanted Empire to be made in the same style as the first movie, with a focus on action over character. Irvin Kershner went the opposite route and focused on character and minimized the action. When Lucas complained to Gary Kurtz, the producer, he was told to fuck off, basically. When Return of the Jedi rolled around Lucas sacked both Kershner and Kurtz and hired a director and producer who were more obedient and more in-line with his style, resulting in a movie that's considered by many the worst of the originals. However, it's worth noting that Lucas wasn't in the wrong when he fired Kurtz. Kurtz let things get way out of hand and over budget and if the film was a flop Lucas would be millions of dollars in debt, financially crippling him for the rest of his life and ruining his future plans for the franchise.
    • To be fair, Return of the Jedi is two movies in one, the Vader/Papatine/Luke interaction and the final duel on Death Star II are excellent, subtle, scary, and complex, while the groundside scenes with the Ewoks are...well, enough about that.
  • Few examples are more blatant than the Matrix trilogy. The first film was well-crafted, fitting a ton of movie into two hours, and it became a runaway hit. Thus, when the Wachowskis returned to do the sequels, Warner wasn't about to tell them their business. Reloaded and Revolutions were still good but nowhere near as critically acclaimed as the first film, and one of the biggest reasons was that they screamed out for an editor.
  • Magical Mystery Tour was created entirely by The Beatles themselves, and was widely regarded to be their worst film (particularly at the time of its initial broadcast). At least the soundtrack album fared better.
  • Richard Kelly is an interesting example. Donnie Darko opened to mass critical acclaim and a cult following. His director's cut was remarkably LESS well received, many critics arguing the Executive Meddling in the first cut was essential to the quality. Then came Southland Tales, made with virtually no Executive Meddling whatsoever, which was quite polarizing but largely seen as an incomprehensible mess. His latest film The Box got mixed reviews and was also his most commercial film yet, so it's not clear what the future holds.


  • One of the strangest examples is Ernest Hemingway, who actually negotiated Protection From Editors in his contract with his publisher. Specifically, he had the contract state that no editor was allowed to change a word of his text without his approval. It's thought that the stipulation was meant specifically to prevent his editors from bowdlerizing his copy, since his very next novel contained the word "fuck". (It helped that Hemingway's drafts didn't actually need to be edited for grammar, syntax, or spelling.)
  • Robert Jordan, author of The Wheel of Time series. There's no shortage of genuine fans who wished he'd have stopped describing dresses, or people's idiosyncratic nervous gestures, or new characters that we'll forget anyway because they're not nearly as important as the dozens of others we're trying to keep track of, or any of the other blatant Padding. Well, now it's too late to save the slog through books 7 through 11; fortunately, Brandon Sanderson wrote a tight, efficient, exciting narrative for book 12, and presumably will do at least as well for books 13 and 14 (the finale).
    • It's been joked that Jordan could have finished the series in three books, but he was being paid by the word and opted to milk it; you skip every second and third paragraph, the joke goes, and not miss a thing.
  • Piers Anthony has certainly managed to achieve Protection from Editors. However, it's sometimes hard to tell just how much it actually matters, as other factors affecting his later books include Sequelitis and fans Running the Asylum.
    • One of his earlier books, But What of Earth?, received such tampering with the plot that after he had achieved Protection from Editors, he had the book re-published in its original form, with comments about the edits (but not the edits themselves, probably because actual evidence might contradict him) in footnotes.
  • Terry Goodkind, man. Terry Goodkind. From his own words: "When my first book was written there was more initial editing than there is today simply because it was the first book I'd ever written. Still, that editing consisted only of untangling sentences for clarity. The story itself was sound; it just needed housekeeping. My copy editor (the editor who edits for all the technical aspects) tells me that my manuscripts are now some of the cleanest she's ever seen."
  • L. Ron Hubbard was considered a reliable pulp author—you needed a story, he'd hack one out, and the editor could fix it. Then he founded a religion, had some success, and decided he'd go back to writing thirty years later. Robert Vaughn Young, former head of PR for the Church of Scientology, tells what it was like editing Mission Earth for publication. When you have millions of dollars and many thousands of followers with a literally religious zeal, it's hard to accept the need for editors or proofreaders.
  • This is the only way Miley Cyrus could have gotten away with publishing in her memoir the line "I clutched my grilled cheese sandwich like it was the hand of my best friend." Any good editor would have done away with that sentence.
    • Ditto for Kanye West: Despite declaring himself as a "proud non-reader" who doesn't see the value in books or schooling, has still managed to co-author a book full of personal witticisms, including gems such as "Get use [sic] to getting used!"
    • Before both of them there was Jewel, whose book of "poetry" contained numerous spelling and grammatical errors and sometimes even used the wrong words which lead to the entire passage making no goddamn sense.
  • Adolf Hitler. Even if someone had somehow never heard of World War 2 or the Holocaust, reading the interminably rambling, disjointed, borderline-unreadable Doorstopper Mein Kampf would be enough to make that person hate Hitler with a passion. A decent editor, while maybe not able to do much about the noxious ideas, might have at least made the book readable and coherent.
    • The unreadability probably worked to his advantage; many Germans bought the book to show that they were loyal to their country, but not many ever actually read it.
    • Actually the book was heavily edited "to make it less incoherent than the rambling first draft".
    • This was actually parodied in a Comedy Inc. sketch where Hitler (who is silent and scowling through the entire thing) and an associate are speaking with a couple of book publishers about Mein Kampf. Said publishers are concerned about the racism in the book and suggest either cutting it out or even releasing two versions, one "with the racism" and one "without the racism". The associate informs them that either alternative is unacceptable and the publishers reject the book. We then see Hitler writing down their names in a black notebook.
    • Adolf Hitler is probably the only example on this page who actively needed editing help during his day-to-day activities. If it weren't for the fact that he lucked out by having such brilliant military strategists such as Erwin Rommel (who was later implicated in Hitler's assassination plot) or Otto Skorzeny the Germans may very well have been stopped at the French border, and if it weren't for being surrounded by other brilliant, evil men like Himmler and Goebbels, he probably would've ended his first year as Fuhrer being laughed out of Berlin. Nearly every time when Hitler himself actually called the shots, the results were disastrous.
      • Actually, just as many of Hitler's sycophants have received much the same description by numerous historians when being compared, in contrast, to him...and Frederick Spotts, in his seminal work Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics, points out that not one of the other Nazi leaders ever grasped the power of presentation in the way that Hitler did. As such, the Nazi leadership was effective via its symbiotic (evil, but symbiotic) relationships between the Fuhrer and his chief lieutenants: he needed them to 'govern' (such as it was), but they needed him to inspire the masses on any level whatsoever. Without either side, the regime would have quickly collapsed. In summation: Hitler didn't need an iota of help on 'visionary' stage direction principles. As an author, he...rambled hatred; period, nothing else.
  • Anne McCaffrey won a Hugo Award for a story first published in Analog under legendary editor John W. Campbell. McCaffrey rather quickly succumbed to this trope.
  • Laurell K. Hamilton is an offender often compared to Anne Rice, probably because of her content. Her early books were largely about investigations and hunting down vampires, with Anita's love life as a side plot. Later books devolve into terribly written unerotic porn. With spelling errors that she refuses to have edited. "Arduer" indeed.
  • Barbara Cartland. While never anything less than fluff, her mid-career works described places very vividly even if the prose was a bit purple, and her heroines actually did things and could speak in complete sentences. Paragraphs were more than a single sentence. By the 90s... not so much.
  • Rumor is that part of John Norman's contract when he switched publishers to DAW was a no-edit clause.
  • Christopher Paolini, author of The Inheritance Cycle, is often accused of this by critics, but in reality he is an aversion. He has an editor who regularly edits his work extensively and cuts out significant sections of the books if they are deemed unimportant, with no adamant objection from him. According to Christopher himself, Brisingr was originally +300,000 words long, but editing brought it down to about 250,000 words. He even claimed that he found the editing of Brisingr an enjoyable experience.
    • Mind you, self-editing may not be that much better than a lack thereof, at least in the eyes of the Hatedom.
  • Jules Verne is probably one of the most glaring examples. As it turned out, Verne didn't really think much of humanity, and that bright and cheerful atmosphere and the belief in science that made his Voyages Extraordinaires series so popular in the world, were, in fact, mainly a product of pressure from members of his social circle, such as Nadar and his life-long friend and editor Pierre-Jules Hetzel. Hetzel, being Verne's publisher, was in position to pressure his friend the most, and outright rejected a couple of Verne's especially bleak early novels,[1] and heavily edited others. Verne, who was doubly not in position to argue,[2] complied, and thus the writing tandem was born. After Hetzel's death his successors weren't that insistive, and Verne's latest novels became increasingly dark and gloomy.
  • Robert A. Heinlein. In so many ways. His early works, especially his 'juveniles', were constrained by the mores of the time and the rules of the publishers, and RAH benefited from this immensely, it forced him to restrain some of his personal Author Appeal elements and write better stories. In later years, freed from editorial and cultural restraint, his books became both longer and longer, and more and more repetitive, circular musings on a few favorite fixations.
  • R.A. Salvatore is in an unusual state where he's both subject to this trope and strangled by the opposite. On the one hand, there's less and less oversight of the content and style of his Legend of Drizzt series, and quality has suffered grievously. On the other, his attempts to end the series were bluntly denied—he doesn't have the copyright, and his publishers solicited another writer to continue the series before he backed down. One can't help but wonder if the recent[when?] Wallbangers are deliberate attempts to wreck the series so he can move on. Or, "Drizzt has become more of an albatross for him."
    • This applies across the board, and both to novels and RPG sides of ex-TSR. The general level of editing (though there were really good exceptions) shifted from "apparently insane" to "mostly nonexistent". Series zombification happens with other authors as well. Ed Greenwood, obviously, is in a similar position (but he started side projects away from Hasbro). Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman also eventually fed up with Executive Meddling and bailed out. Weis now owns two RPG publishing houses.

Live Action TV

  • Chances are, Joss Whedon will have this for the rest of his life. Mainly because nobody wants to be the target of a letter writing campaign done by thousands of Whedon fans.
  • Gene Roddenberry's status grew over the years so that by the time he got to do Star Trek: The Next Generation he could give full vent to his utopianism free of Executive Meddling. Quite a lot of it ended up getting retconned after the show started Growing the Beard.
    • It's worth noting, though, that this doesn't extend to the movies. Even though The Motion Picture (which Roddenberry produced and co-wrote) was financially successful, his job on Wrath of Khan—and all subsequent films up to his death—was "executive consultant," which meant the movie makers were free of his meddling. Namely the fact that he incessantly pitched a bizarre story that involved the crew of the Enterprise travelling back in time to 1963 and either preventing or causing JFK's assassination; the producers' routine was to smile politely and completely ignore Roddenberry for the rest of the filming process.
    • Also worth mentioning: One of his handlers during his last years was Rick Berman. Yes, the same Rick Berman people curse for ruining the series.
      • Well he did, but to his credit it took him twice as long as Roddenberry to start his creative descent.
  • Cop Rock was one of the worst series in the history of television, but was allowed to run for a single season as its creator Steven Bochco had built respected content (like Hill Street Blues) in the past.


  • There is no way that songs like Revolution 9 could have been made by anyone other than The Beatles.
    • Technically, Frank Zappa's Freak Out had a few extended avant-garde passages two years earlier. Zappa talks about himself and Tom Wilson making the album and it's clear he slowly gained this protection and then some. It went from Wilson slipping him some money for lunch under the table (embarrassingly, Zappa didn't figure out what was going on until later) to loaning a couple grand to rent things for a percussion ensemble Zappa wrote.
    • The Beatles gained a first-hand lesson in why this trope isn't such a great thing when they founded Apple. The initial idea for Apple was that it would be a place where people would be able to gain funding for their pet projects without having to debase themselves before "The Man", thus enabling the flower of creativity to blossom in all its glory (it was The Sixties—there were lots of drugs), in a wide variety of fields—art, film, literature and, of course, music being among them. Of course, this ultimately translated to every random drug-soaked yahoo with a half-baked idea bombarding their mail room with completely worthless and unpublishable drivel when they weren't camping out in their offices sponging off them, thus leading them to the brink of financial ruin. They eventually came to their senses, shut down pretty much everything and turned Apple into a smaller operation which handled their management and finances. That said, the Apple Records label wasn't without its successes, both Beatles-related and new discoveries, but then the Beatles were pretty good musicians and pretty capable of identifying same.
    • In a more positive example, Sgt. Pepper could only have flown under the Beatles, too.
    • Another evidence that Protection From Editors might be a bad thing: the album Let It Be. Phil Spector added much orchestral overdubs and embellishments to the album, much to the dissatisfaction of Paul McCartney who favored a more minimalist production. Years later McCartney remixed and remastered Let It Be... Naked, which has the Spector production stripped down and is supposedly closer to the original artistic vision. However, many Beatles fans strongly prefer the original release, some in fact considered Spector's overproduction to be the saving grace of the album.
  • Guns N' Roses is the musical king of this trope. Appetite for Destruction and "Lies" sold so well and made Guns N' Roses so big, they were given a lot more control over the follow-up album. That transformed into two albums, the Use Your Illusion duo, which saw release four years after Appetite. Sales of that were enough to apparently let Geffen (their recording company) take as long as they wanted for the follow-up album. Seventeen years afterwards, we get Chinese Democracy. Those three albums are considered to be bloated and very dense, and the latter is essentially one long Author Tract railing against anyone and everyone that ever tried to stand in the way of the ginger-haired tyrant.
  • Prince became subject to this, after some unpleasant experiences at Warner Bros. As usual for this trope, his popularity went down a bit without oversight, and his later works were often described as self-indulgent.


  • Hunter S. Thompson was known for making a science out of turning in his articles behind deadline. They invariably came in soon enough to go to print, but far too late to be edited, meaning they had no choice but to either print them as written or find something else to fill that space with.
    • He intended his book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, to go unedited, which ended up in the toilet by the time it got published. Something like five times, if I recall correctly.
    • The late delivery of his articles may in fact have been completely intentional. Thompson abhorred the editing process and felt that everything he submitted should be presented in unedited, gritty style exactly as he originally wrote it.
    • The character of Spider Jerusalem from Transmetropolitan often submits his columns in a similar manner.

Professional Wrestling

  • Hulk Hogan was the biggest name in the WWE, but when he signed with WCW in 1994, he was granted creative control over his matches, basically making him a God Mode Sue.
  • Long-time Professional Wrestling writer Vince Russo rose to prominence as the architect of the WWF's Attitude Era, the time in the late '90s when wrestling was at the peak of popularity thanks to a Darker and Edgier style (mostly pioneered by ECW, but that's besides the point). However, most wrestling fans discounted the contributions of Vince and Shane McMahon in keeping Russo's raging ego, short attention span, and strange proclivities in check. Since leaving the WWF, he ran WCW into the ground, buried under a morass of dangling plot threads, ridiculous gimmicks, and Worked Shoots.
    • Don't forget there's a good reason they chant "Fire Russo" during the "Reverse Battle Royal Gauntlet Which Then Becomes a Scissors On a Pole Match - With Two People Left You Have to Then Put Up on a Rope From Atop A Ladder Then Fetch it Back Down and Shave the Head of the Loser" match. Or the "Electrified Six Sides of Steel" match.

Video Games

  • This is apparently the reason why Duke Nukem Forever failed. A combination of extreme ego, overly high standards and protection from publishers meant the creators were free to extend development of the game time and time again, to the point it's been in Development Hell for well over a decade, until 3D Realms lost all the money it made with Duke Nukem 3D and died.
    • To expand, George Broussard kept seeing all the new games coming out and wanted to incorporate every new graphical advance; requiring years of work to be scrapped and starting over, repeatedly. (one can only imagine his reaction when Crysis came out) Eventually, most of the team up and quit, and after twelve years they had to ask Take Two for money; and the suits finally said "No."
      • The irony is that this is a subversion: the creator was not trying to sell an unpolished product or refusing to see the faults of his creation: it was the nearly pathological perfectionism of Broussard who doomed the project.
  • Daikatana is probably the ultimate video game example. John Romero left Id Software with a brilliant reputation as the co-creator of Quake, Doom, Wolfenstein, etc., and his new company, Ion Storm, was given a pass to do whatever it wanted. Whatever it wanted included renting the entire top story of a Dallas skyscraper, letting John have his girlfriend (not a designer) be co-level designer, and drag out the production of the game for 3 1/2 years while constantly bragging about how it would be the most awesome thing ever released. Daikatana ended up...subpar, Ion closed down, and John Romero is now developing games for mobile phones.
  • This is common enough in software development that it has its own term: "the second-system effect". Basically, a sophomore project has a good chance of ending up in Development Hell since the developers don't have anyone looking over them; unnecessary features and mid-stream Re Tools get thrown in, and eventually it's up to someone with a better sense of organization to clean up the mess. This was first noticed way back in the mid-1960s, during the development of OS/360 at IBM. It's also one of the things that nearly killed Apple in the mid-1990s.


  • Really, almost any webcomic with issues could go here, as few of them have any sort of editing process in the first place. As the only requirements for a webcomic are 1) webspace and 2) the ability to create and upload image files, a creator essentially receives protection from editors by default rather than needing to meet some success requirement first. Out of those that do have some sort of pre-post review process, many are reviewed by friends and, ahem, devoted fans whose real job is to tell the creator how awesome it is and how they shouldn't change a thing. This reasoning is also why examples should not be placed here.
    • This is probably why some of the most beloved and consistent webcomics are made by at least a two-person team, or at least with someone else to bounce ideas off of. Remember, if your friend's starting a webcomic and you can't dissuade them, be Commander Contrarian!

Western Animation

  • When Ren and Stimpy was brought back as Adult Party Cartoon, John K. was mostly given this. (One episode was still yanked.) It became clear that wasn't a good thing, and the show was canned.
    • John K. has made it his life's purpose to actively deny, refute and sabotage any attempts by "non-cartoonists" to meddle in his work, which he naturally feels he is justified in claiming creative control over, due to his 30+ years as an animator. This would work, in theory, if he stuck to the purely technical aspects of the trade, where he obviously excels and is definitely worthy of note. Unfortunately, what he more than handily provides in technical and theoretical excellence, he lacks in actual comprehension of how to actually put it all together into a cohesive whole. This results in an overabundance of shock humor, choppy comic pacing (if ever any at all) and genuine problems in efficiency and design ethic. His notoriously antisocial personality doesn't attract him any friends, either.
    • After being fired for failure to deliver episodes on schedule, John K. called up many members of the production team to try to convince everyone to quit, ensuring the show would collapse without him. He wasn't promising to give them different jobs; he just wanted them to be unemployed with him. Voice actor Billy West was among those who liked having a job and would just as happily work under John K.'s replacement, and this has led to a fairly one-sided grudge against Billy West.
  1. These were later found in Verne's papers and published. One of them, Paris in the XX Century, was so dark that it would've make any Cyberpunk author proud.
  2. He didn't want to fight with his newfound friend and, besides, he was nearly broke at the time so he couldn't afford losing royalties