How The Producer of ‘Green Lantern’ Learned That Animation Focus Groups Are Nonsense

Green Lantern: The Animated Series showrunner Giancarlo Volpe drew a mini-comic about his first experience attending a focus group for his series. His story has a happy ending after he receives some hard-won wisdom from Bruce Timm.

Volpe elaborated on the focus grouping process on his Twitter account:

RELATED: John Kricfalusi’s description of the focus group testing for Ren & Stimpy has similarities to Volpe’s experience. He talks about it beginning at the 13-minute mark of the video.


  • mick

    A brief glance through time highlights how few notable events have leapt into life via the bean counter’s desk. Great works are not made by rote

    Visionaries, revolutionaries, passionate freaks and weirdoes are what we need.

    ‘Ok kids, press the button when you feel like buying something’
    ‘Mister, I wanna go to the toilet’
    ‘Ahhh jenkins make a note, kids like to pee… that may be an angle’
    ‘But I don’t wanna pee’
    ‘Hear that jenkins!?? get me some numbers’
    ‘How about number two sir?’
    ‘Jenkins, you’re fired… send in another Jenkins’
    ‘yes sir thank you sir’
    ‘Ahh Jenkins, I’m promoting you to Head of development’
    ‘But I’ve only been here a week sir’
    ‘Well you’ll have to do until we can find someone less qualified’

  • CM

    This is nothing new to show creators. It’s ridiculous that the moderators can spin test results to their biased opinions whether a show is entertaining or not. Thank God for the internet! Now all that silliness can by bypassed.

  • MaskedManAICN

    All I ever heard about focus groups is this, still networks waste money on them.
    As for the show itself, I thought the first season was really boring- but then I’m an adult and have high standards. The second season got very interesting when Aya turned bad. But the overall look and tone of the shows didn’t match up to Young Justice or Brave and Bold, so I’m not surprised it was cut short- Beware the Batman seems to be going the same way.

  • Matthew

    So that “Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie” episode of “The Simpsons” wasn’t that far off the mark? Or to put it more accurately, wasn’t off the mark at all?

    • Caty Ml

      Exactly. And really, I still don’t believe in the girls/boys thing. I know, obviously there will always be a girl who says “I love Ilana” and all the boss crap, but it has the same prejudice as the “kids were confused” (translation;”I’m very confused to how kids react so I have no idea what to express”). It’s not the same how they think at school as to how they think at home. Just a no-no.(oh and now I’m thinking about it,Lisa is who talks to Roger Meyers Jr).

      P.S: Bruce looks just like Commisioner gordon on his way to his tooth revision X) I’d feel the same way :S

    • Caty Ml

      What I COMPLETELY didn’t know is that you could ignore the doubters just like that. Def there’s still hope…

  • Mark Neeley

    I remember hearing an interview with Joe Murray where he talked about some anonymous successful show who’s pilot was viewed relatively negatively, but that there was one single gag that the focus grouping went crazy over, which led to it being greenlit. For whatever reason I have never stopped wondering what show it was.

  • Chicken McPhee

    Focus Groups are a great way for executive fatcats to further their lack of understanding of anything they put on air.

  • Mister Twister

    Good, now I have another thing to hate. Animation Industry is dying. Thanks, Amid. You made my day that more miserable.

    • mick

      lament not, it was ever thus. Blind folded fellas sticking pins in a board looking for patterns. If you want to despair remember that twitterings and facebook ‘likes’ have made the pins smaller and put the board on the ceiling

  • UsaMiKo

    I have to admit, this quells some of the fears I’d been having about kids today, but boy is bringing up some new ones. Something I had been asking myself for a while is this: Do kids just not like action shows anymore?
    A little while ago I was beginning to feel like the tv programing for cartoons was starting to become a little dull and I was having trouble finding anything good to watch, but luckily shows like Sym-Bionic Titan, Motorcity, Young Justice, and Green Lantern started to pop up and my faith was restored. They had great plots, great characterization, great action, and they even looked great as well. And then… cancelled. All of them. I couldn’t help but notice that all of these shows fell under the action genre in some way or another. It made begin to wonder if the kids of today just didn’t have the attention spans to enjoy something that complex. As I kid I throughly enjoyed shows like Teen Titans and Justice League so it made me very concerned that kids today couldn’t be bothered to become engaged in something like that.
    Then I looked up the reason as to WHY these shows were cancelled. Nearly ever time, it wasn’t because the show had bad ratings, it was because it had bad toy sales! This made my heart sink a bit but it did make me feel a little better.
    The fact that those shows had a small assemblage of high ratings from kids showed me that their is still an audience out their that wants a gripping well written show, they just need someone to give it to them. When we’ve got executives running around thinking the best way to impress kids is to shove bright colors in their eyes, this is easier said than done. But if their’s one thing this comic has shown me, it’s that there is a very small, but very existent glimmer of hope. And that is already a sign for change.

  • DarklingDragon

    I agree. The green lantern was a great show. It honestly one of the few shows that made me even bother watching television.

  • ShouldBeWorkin’

    As long as subjects know they’re being tested, I don’t know how focus testing could ever work. A waste of time.

  • http://www.jadderworks.com/ Josh DuJordan

    I don’t know what’s worse, this or the Nielsen ratings?

  • Size8

    there is hope

    http://guardianlv.com/2014/04/netflix-green-lantern-the-animated-series-a-chance-at-redemption/

    its also insightful as to why the cancellation…..merchandising

  • BenderIsGreat

    Green Lantern and Tron were two great series that died before their time. Shame.

  • BlueBoomPony

    I really thought the Internet and cheap computing/editing power was going to make the current Hollywood system obsolete. Shows what a futurist I am. (Kicks pebble)