Once in a while, some works leave a big mark in the mind of audiences. The {{reviews|AreTheGospel}} [[FourPointScale won't give it a grade under 9/10]], those who saw/read/played it almost unanimously love it, everywhere the work is acclaimed for its originality, unique artistic touch, [[SugarWiki/AwesomeMusic beautiful soundtrack]] and so forth. Everything is perfect except… few people actually buy it. Despite its huge critical success, the work is snubbed in the stores or cinemas and only avoids fading away from public view entirely by virtue of its acclaim.

Maybe it was [[AudienceAlienatingPremise too original, too unique, or too controversial]] to appeal to a large base (and maybe [[DoingItForTheArt deliberately so]]), or maybe it [[Main/InvisibleAdvertising lacked the advertisement]] that big and long-installed licenses or blockbusters get. Or just got a very clumsy marketing campaign. It can also be a consequence of TheFireflyEffect for a series. But as a result of its glowing reputation, it will usually be sought out like a treasure several years later by many people who overlooked it at the time, and be all the more difficult to find in shops.

Note this is not about works that you personally liked but didn't get much attention. It's about those that were ''generally'' acclaimed and positively left their mark on the media, despite poor sales when they came out.

They are often {{Cult Classic}}s, but a CultClassic isn't necessarily successful critically and can keep a very limited fanbase.

Compare VindicatedByHistory when the quality of the work is only generally acknowledged many years after it came out. Also see SugarWiki/NeedsMoreLove. CriticalDissonance is for when the opinions of critics and viewers don't match. Contrast CriticProof, where the work is commercially successful despite negative critical reception.

Also contrast SleeperHit, a work that no-one was expecting much from but ends up being a commercial success despite unfavorable odds.
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''{{Manga/Nichijou}}'' sold '''very''' poorly in Japan (it is Kyoto Animation's lowest selling anime), but received great reviews from critics and got a warm, loving fanbase when it hit America and Europe, even in spite of it not having an official release there (due to the closure of Creator/BandaiEntertainment).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films - Animated]]
* The DisneyAnimatedCanon has a number of examples.
** ''Disney/{{Pinocchio}}'', ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}'', ''Disney/AliceInWonderland'' and ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'' are all highly acclaimed classic movies which failed disastrously at the box office upon their original release (but earning far more in later years), although partly due to overblown budgets (Sleeping Beauty nearly bankrupted the studio) as much as audience disinterest.
** ''Disney/TreasurePlanet'' is another film that had mostly positive reviews from critics, yet it became a major flop at the box office, and merchandise is scarce. Since its release in 2002, however, it has been partially VindicatedByCable.
** While not exactly a "flop", Disney's sequel to ''TheManyAdventuresOfWinnieThePooh'', simply titled ''Disney/WinnieThePooh'' (2011) is a strange case of this trope in the Canon. Released to thunderous acclaim (including a 90% RottenTomatoes score, which is the highest score for any Disney Canon movie since 1994), it only did a meager $33 million at the box office - at a $30 million budget. In other words, although it made its budget back, many in the entertainment media didn't think that was enough. This was most likely a result of the dubious decision to release the movie simultaneously with ''[[Film/HarryPotter Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II]]''.
** ''Disney/TheEmperorsNewGroove'' got very positive reviews but performed at a subpar level at the box office, generally because of Disney's poor marketing efforts.
* ''WesternAnimation/TeachersPet'' (the film) from 2004. Despite poor marketing, critics loved it.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH'' suffered from poor marketing and competition with ''Film/ETTheExtraTerrestrial'', but was widely acclaimed for its vibrant animation and moving storyline.
* ''WesternAnimation/CatsDontDance''. Critics loved it, and it even won an Annie Award for Best Animated Film of 1997, but box office numbers were very poor. This is because Warner Bros. acquired Turner after production was completed, and chose to give it no promotion outside of toys from Subway and a few children's storybooks, and gave it a very small release too. The movie would later go on to being VindicatedByHistory, thanks to the movie airing on Cartoon Network several times during the early 2000s.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheIronGiant'' was a financial disaster due to a horrible marketing campaign on Creator/WarnerBros' part. However, it picked up new life on DVD, and has become well-known and respected, in part due to Creator/CartoonNetwork [[VindicatedByCable running 24 hour blocks of it every Thanksgiving.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheRoadToElDorado'' is remembered gained acclaim from a lot of viewers, but it failed to turn a profit.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Frankenweenie}}'' has been acclaimed by critics and was a strong contender to win Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, but opened to a disappointing $11 million despite the positive reception and a huge marketing campaign. The financial disappointment owes to several factors: an AudienceAlienatingPremise, the fact that [[WhatDoYouMeanItsForKids it's not nearly as kid-friendly]] [[MisaimedMarketing as its marketing suggested]], and the fact that it opened only '''a week''' after the more accessible {{Dueling Movie|s}} ''WesternAnimation/HotelTransylvania''.
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanMaskOfThePhantasm'' was critically acclaimed, with critics and moviegoers citing the film's musical score, mature writing, and animation as being exceptionally strong. However, due to the decision to make it a theatrical release being rather last-minute, it didn't get much promotion and turned out to be a box-office bomb. It was much more profitable in home video releases later on, and is still highly regarded, with some fans still considering it the best Batman movie.
* ''WesternAnimation/FantasticMrFox'' scored a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and did even better with what the site describes as "Top Critics," earning only a single negative review (overall 98%.) 84% of viewers on the site also said that they liked it, but the film only banked $20.9 million in box office. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that though the film was targeted as a PG children's film, [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotForKids much of the humor and storylines were more adult]] and perhaps also the film's unusual visual style and introspective nature.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films - Live Action]]
* It's become a measurable trend that Oscar nominees are grossing less and less. Part of this is because the general public has come to perceive Oscar nominees as being only artistic fare without much wider appeal. Also, now that there are nine or ten nominees for Best Picture each year (previously it was only five), you'll frequently find nominees that only sold two or three million worth of tickets.
* No one was yet calling it the greatest movie of all time, but ''Film/CitizenKane'' opened to glowing reviews and a disastrous box office. It didn't win "Best Picture" that year, but it was nominated for it and it did win for "Best Screenplay". A lot of its early misfortune is probably due to William Randolph Hearst's ExecutiveMeddling.
* Franchise/TheMonkees' film ''Film/{{Head}}'' was the last thing anyone expected from the group: a surreal, deliberately plotless satire of their journey through the ShowBusiness meat grinder. It failed at the box office, but got a lot of good reviews, and today it's fondly remembered as an UnintentionalPeriodPiece of the psychedelic era.
* Any Creator/RoaldDahl adaptation. ''Film/WillyWonkaAndTheChocolateFactory'', ''Film/TheWitches'', ''Film/JamesAndTheGiantPeach'' and ''WesternAnimation/FantasticMrFox'' were all flops but were received very well (though ''Willy Wonka'' recouped its low budget and was VindicatedByCable). However, the remake of ''Film/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory'' was a success due to good marketing.
* ''TuckerTheManAndHisDream'' failed to recoup its production costs and prompted director Francis Ford Coppola to take time off from the Hollywood system. However, critics credit the film for renewing interest in Preston Tucker's cars.
* ''Film/TheShawshankRedemption'' did very poorly in the box office but nonetheless received glowing reviews. The Academy also recognized it and led to its {{vindicat|edByCable}}ion as everyone wanted to know what was that film with quite a few Oscar nominations. It's also the highest-rated movie on Website/{{IMDB}} with a score of 9.3.
* ''Film/EdWood'' is one of Creator/TimBurton's most acclaimed films, even giving one of his stars an Oscar...and is the director's only box office failure with a mere $5.8 million domestically.
* ''Film/WesCravensNewNightmare'' is considered one of the best ''Franchise/ANightmareOnElmStreet'' installments. It's also the lowest grossing of them all (though it recouped its budget twice).
* The Creator/AlfonsoCuaron version of ''Literature/ALittlePrincess'' got critical raves in May 1995. But, as Roger Ebert admitted in his review, kids were hyped up for flashier SummerBlockbuster fare like ''Film/BatmanForever'' and ''Film/MightyMorphinPowerRangersTheMovie''. ''Film/{{Casper}}'' and Disney's ''Disney/{{Pocahontas}}'' were getting a lot of hype too, and with the GirlShowGhetto working against it on top of all that, the movie died at the box office. Warner Bros. was encouraged by the positive responses from those who saw the film, to the point that they brought it back to theaters later that summer (look at the poster at its [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Little_Princess_(1995_film) Wikipedia page]]) in hopes that families would respond to the raves, but that proved completely futile. This was partially because ''Film/{{Babe}}'', another hit with critics, had become a SleeperHit with those families by that point.
* ''Film/AlmostFamous'' was one of the best reviewed films of 2000 (Creator/RogerEbert called it the best film of 2000) and even today is considered a benchmark of making films about rock music. Financially, the film barely made half its $60 million budget (even after foreign totals, it still failed to break even), due to a [[SexSells misleading print campaign]] that put Kate Hudson's supporting character front and center and possibly due to handing director Cameron Crowe such a large budget for a niche-appealed premise.
* ''Film/DonnieDarko'' was well-received, but did poorly in cinemas. This was in part due to it receiving a limited theatrical run owing to its subject matter ([[TooSoon it came out almost immediately after 9/11]]).
* Creator/MikeJudge's ''Film/{{Idiocracy}}'' was well-reviewed by critics and is widely considered a clever comedy (although Americans of a certain stripe consider it ''very'' SeriousBusiness), but due to [[InvisibleAdvertising poor marketing]], it did badly box office-wise. Limiting initial release to only 7 cities and capping out at 130 theaters didn't help.
* ''Film/{{Rogue}}'', starring a then-unknown Sam Worthington, was said by the few critics that saw it to be surprisingly good for a movie about [[AttackOfThe50FootWhatever a giant crocodile]] and a fine horror/adventure flick in its own right. Poor advertising and a severely scaled back theatrical release caused it to bomb.
* ''Film/TheAssassinationOfJesseJamesByTheCowardRobertFord'' was a critical success and made nearly every Film of the Year list of that year, topping several, and was particularly praised for its lead performances, music and cinematography. It flopped and made a measly $15m, about half of its budget, and only received nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Cinematography, winning neither. It very likely failed due to its somewhat slow pace and running time (the titular event occurs about two hours into the movie, [[EndingFatigue but the movie continues for another half hour]]), and possibly due to its AudienceAlienatingPremise--the {{deconstruction}} of popular HollywoodHistory by [[ShownTheirWork accurately]] portraying the titular AntiHero as a cold, violent, AxCrazy sociopath rather than a brave and daring RobinHood-type.
* ''Film/TheHurtLocker'' was one of the most acclaimed movies of the year... and before the Oscar victory brought it back to theatres, its total gross was $12.6 million, less than its $15 million budget (it ended with $17 million domestically and $49 million worldwide, still the lowest-grossing Best Picture of all-time).
* ''Film/ScottPilgrimVsTheWorld'' received near-universal acclaim for its unique approach; Internet buzz prior to its release predicted a blockbuster and a summer comedy champion. The film tanked next to the guy-centric ''Film/TheExpendables'' and the girl-centric ''Film/EatPrayLove'', mainly due to the films target demographic being rather limited in comparison to the other two films.
* ''Film/TheTreeOfLife'' failed to make its budget back (grossing just $12 million domestically on a $32 million budget) but won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and won much acclaim from critics (even becoming a top awards contender).
* ''Film/{{Hugo}}'' won five of the eleven Academy Awards for which it was nominated, tying it with Best Picture winner ''Film/TheArtist'' for the most of any 2011 movie. And its $185,770,160 gross would also have made it a net commercial success -- had its budget not clocked in at ''$170 million'' (not counting marketing!).
* ''Film/{{Warrior}}'', Gavin O'Connor's ambitious sports drama, followed on the heels of similarly-themed ''Film/TheFighter'' and got strong critical reviews, especially for the lead performances. This strong point was also its undoing: the stars (Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton) were still niche supporting/character actors who had not yet headlined many flicks of their own and were only gradually building a bigger reputation. The film was dropped in a September release by Lionsgate, and lost money.
* ''Film/{{Dredd}}'' has been critically praised but failed commercially, losing its place in the top 10 within just two weeks and not recouping its modest $45 million budget. [[CultClassic However, it has gained a rabidly devoted fanbase who are campaigning for a sequel]].
* ''Film/TheMaster'' was the kind of film that had the makings of an awards hit: hot-button topic as its premise, strong cast of leads (led by Creator/JoaquinPhoenix and Creator/PhilipSeymourHoffman) and a director with a strong track record in Creator/PaulThomasAnderson. But despite strong reviews and having the publicity that most films could wish to have, The Weinstein Company saw different and basically left it for dead in September (despite having had the biggest opening weekend per-theatre average ever for an R-rated film) in order to push other OscarBait titles ''Film/SilverLiningsPlaybook''. The final result failed to make its budget back and proved to be another casualty in making arthouse fare in Hollywood.
* ''Film/PacificRim'' in the US. It opened to great reviews, but only came in #3 at the box-office in its opening weekend, experiencing the indignity of losing to the far worse-received ''Grown-Ups 2''. It experienced a 57% drop in its second weekend as well. It has proven to be a CultClassic and a success worldwide.
* ''{{Film/Bandslam}}'' has an 80% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes but made only a little over 12 million at the box office. Its budget was 20 million.
* ''Film/AllIsLost'' had serious awards buzz, a powerful lead performance by Robert Redford, an acclaimed soundtrack and a 93% "Fresh" on Website/RottenTomatoes. But it failed to make back its modest $8.5 Million budget largely due to [[InvisibleAdvertising almost non-existent advertising,]] a release topping out at 400+ theaters, and distributor Lionsgate pushing most of their resources into ''Film/TheHungerGamesCatchingFire''.
* ''Film/MuppetsMostWanted'' received very strong reviews, but unfortunately, it is not expected to reach far beyond $50 million domestically for a number of reasons:
** It opened next to the CriticProof ''Literature/{{Divergent}}'' (which got a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes vs. a 79% for ''Muppets''). Despite coming off of the back of a series of young-adult flops such as ''Beautiful Creatures'' and ''Vampire Academy'', the series' popularity was exploding, and people were expecting a mini-''Hunger Games'' phenomenon. ''Divergent'' pretty much put the teenage girl demographic out of bounds for Kermit and friends. And, not unlike ''Happy Feet 2'' suffering in the wake of ''Breaking Dawn Part 1'', ''Muppets'' got crushed. Divergent's opening week made $55 million, more than what the Muppets made ''in their entire theatrical run.''
** The film was released after a string of similarly acclaimed family films in Disney's own ''Disney/{{Frozen}}'' followed by ''WesternAnimation/TheLEGOMovie'' and March rival ''WesternAnimation/MrPeabodyAndSherman'', meaning its target audience was somewhat exhausted by the time it was released (not to mention ''Peabody'' was still taking audiences away from ''Muppets''). The release of two blockbusters in ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'' (also produced under the Disney family) and ''Film/{{Noah}}'' in the two weeks following didn't help either.
** Much of its plot involves Kermit as an inmate in [[TooSoon a Russian gulag, hitting too close to the 2014 Ukraine and Crimea crisis]] of which the movie was released in the middle of, as [[http://jimhillmedia.com/editor_in_chief1/b/jim_hill/archive/2014/03/23/should-disney-have-made-quot-the-cheapest-muppet-movie-ever-made-quot-instead-of-quot-muppets-most-wanted-quot.aspx#comments commentators]] at Disney-insider site [=JimHillMedia.com=] pointed out.
** Over-relying on social media ViralMarketing aimed squarely at [[PeripheryDemographic hardcore grown-up Muppet fans]], as Muppet fansite [=ToughPigs.com=] [[http://www.toughpigs.com/muppets-less-wanted/ argued]] with the hard fact that ''Mr. Peabody & Sherman'' opted for traditional in-real-life advertising instead (a turf on which the Muppets were [[InvisibleAdvertising pratically absent]]), consequently losing to ''Most Wanted'' on the social media popularity battlegrounds (especially the amount of {{Facebook}} likes) but emerging the clear victor in the March family film box office duel.
* ''Film/EdgeOfTomorrow'' opened to positive reviews, but only made $28 million in its opening weekend against a $180 million budget, losing out to the film adaptation of ''Literature/TheFaultInOurStars'', (which like ''Divergent'', took away a powerful demographic from ''Edge'') which was significantly cheaper to make. (though like with ''Pacific Rim'' it's mostly a domestic affair: ''Edge of Tomorrow'' it opened in the United States one week after most markets, [[GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff having already surpassed the $100 million mark overseas).]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* ''Literature/TheGreatGatsby'' was a failure when it was originally published in TheRoaringTwenties. [[SchoolStudyMedia It is now a work studied in most American high school and college lit classes]].
* ''Literature/TheCuckoosCalling'' was this at first. Upon release, it got critical praise, but only sold a few copies. When the author's [[Creator/JKRowling real identity]] was revealed, however, it received a lot more attention.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action Television]]
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' was loved by viewers, but got cancelled after eleven episodes due to [[ExecutiveMeddling FOX screwing with it]]. A letter campaign led to a [[TheMovie movie]] sequel, ''Film/{{Serenity}}'', which was just as acclaimed...and bombed just as much due to incoherent advertising. After that though, the series got a long healthy life of spin-offs and DVD releases.
* The miniseries ''[[MartinLutherKingJr King]]'' was nominated for nine Emmy awards and won much acclaim for its star Paul Winfield but was a ratings disaster when first aired (the first part finishing in dead last in the weekly ratings).
* The Fox show ''Series/TwentyFour'' started this way at first, possibly because it came on so soon after 9/11 and no one really wanted to see a show like that on the wake of a real terrorist attack. However, word of mouth eventually made it a popular series.
* ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'' consistently garnered just enough audience to keep it afloat, but barely managed to raise itself above the bottom of the ratings ladder for three straight seasons. It was a critical darling from the word "Go", and its core fanbase is rabid. The ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' episode "With Friends Like Steve's" lampshaded this when Francine compares Steve's boredom with Stan to America's reaction to ''Arrested Development'': it's not bad, but it failed because it wasn't universally loved like ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''.
* ''Series/TheWire'' was virtually ignored on its first broadcast. It's a freaking miracle it got up to five seasons.
* ''Series/FreaksAndGeeks'' only lasted one season. It was beloved by those who saw it from the beginning. TV critics were so engaged with it they often ranked it highly in their "best of the 00s" lists, with only 12 of its 18 episodes airing in that decade.
* ''The Tick'' (both the [[WesternAnimation/TheTick Saturday morning cartoon]] and the live-action [[Series/TheTick series]] that aired in the early 2000s).
* ''Series/PoliceSquad'': The fact that it flopped was attributed to the fact that it couldn't be watched casually. [[ViewersAreGoldfish Viewers had to pay active attention to catch the jokes]].
* ''Series/{{Awake}}'' suffered truly abysmal ratings, even for NBC, but was endlessly praised by TV critics, and unlike earlier shows with similar ratings in its time slot, aired its entire season.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' was almost cancelled after the end of the second season, actually was cancelled after the third, and didn't gain massive popularity until it was syndicated. The first Star Trek convention was in 1972, three years after its cancellation.
* ''Series/MySoCalledLife'' was critically acclaimed and is remembered for poignantly capturing the zeitgeist of teenagers in TheNineties, but didn't last past a season.
* ''Series/ThirtyRock'' had a much, much lower viewership than its vast stockpile of Emmys would predict. It got to the point where Creator/TinaFey began to take a perverse pleasure in her failure at the ratings game. She once noted with particular glee at how the premier on the show in Germany generated an unprecedented 0.0 (fewer than 1000 viewers in the entire country) rating.
** Also a subversion, as unlike most shows suffering from this trope, ''30 Rock'' was buoyed enough by its praise to stay on the air for a healthy 7 seasons. And the only reason that it ended was because Tina Fey thought it had run its course. It probably helps that by this time, in the post-''Friends'' era, [[NetworkDecay NBC didn't have that many highly-rated shows left to fill its place]]. By the end of its run, ''30 Rock'' was performing no worse than most of NBC's shows.
* HBO's ''Series/{{Enlightened}}'' earned ''terrible'' ratings, averaging less than half a million viewers for each of its respective seasons. Despite this, its second season was universally praised as one of the greatest pieces of television in 2013 (with the AV Club even naming it the best show of the year, over the final season of ''Series/BreakingBad'').
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* Music/NickDrake had people who heard his albums at the time loving them, but he sold a fairly small amount of original copies because of his hatred of live performances and doing promotion, plus a lack of singles. His popularity has exploded in recent years thanks to word of mouth on the internet, and original vinyl copies continue to appreciate in value even though there are numerous reissues now which preserve the original mastering and sound quality.
* Music/ElvisCostello's ''Imperial Bedroom'' is considered one of his best, but all of its singles flopped.
* See also HitlessHitAlbum for examples of albums that caught on despite producing no hit singles.
* The Roots ''are'' this trope. Except for their 1993 debut and 2004's "The Tipping Point", just about every one of their albums has garnered rave reviews from both critics and fans (not to mention numerous Grammy nominations). And yet, thus far, the only album they've released that has achieved Platinum certification is 1999's "Things Fall Apart.", and even that took nearly ''fourteen years'' after release to reach that platitude. Meanwhile, except for 2002's "Phrenology", none of their other albums have even reached Gold certification yet.
* Singer/songwriter Nicole Atkins. Her 2007 debut "Neptune City" was heavily acclaimed by music critics, with some even predicting she would become the "next big thing" in pop. But [[ExecutiveMeddling an unexpected delay in the album's release]] along with its resulting underpromotion by her then-label Columbia Records quickly [[ScrewedByTheNetwork doomed]] the album to low sales (it didn't even chart on the Billboard 200) and an almost complete neglect by End Of Year lists despite how well reviewed it was. The following years were equally unkind to Atkins: her backing band "The Black Sea" left her in 2009. She released two more studio albums that were well received by critics but performed poorly sales-wise. And in 2012, her home city of Neptune, New Jersey was hit by Hurricane Sandy.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
* ''Theatre/TheGoldenApple'' was well-reviewed when it was first produced in 1954, and in retrospective histories is often hailed as an refreshingly original work of musical theatre. The original production closed in a few months and the show has only been infrequently produced since.
* The original 1957 production of Music/LeonardBernstein's ''Literature/{{Candide}}'' closed after running for a mere 73 performances on Broadway. The cast album it produced sold much better.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/SleepingDogs'' was met with lukewarm sales taking a year to reach one million only after the game was heavily discounted, but was hit among critics. Most who hadn't played it saw it as ''Franchise/GrandTheftAuto'' set in Hong Kong but the game is more ''Grand Theft ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity'', ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreed'' and ''InfernalAffairs'' rolled into one. The game focuses more on martial arts rather than gunplay and features light free-running through the city. However sales weren't so bad for Creator/SquareEnix to rule out a potential sequel.
* ''VideoGame/EarthBound''. It didn't catch on when it came out in America, but the cult following grew greatly since. Most dedicated fans have played the game on emulators, since official copies are both rare and [[CrackIsCheaper expensive]], and the game was never re-released outside of Japan until 2013, when it was announced that it's coming to the [=WiiU=] Virtual Console. The huge number of downloads led to avert the flop status.
* ''VideoGame/BeyondGoodAndEvil'' was met with glowing reviews, some even comparing it to ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'', and earned relatively high marks all around. It didn't do so well. It got to the point where free copies of the game were being packaged with cheese. [[http://www.destructoid.com/oh-canada-beyond-good-evil-is-a-cheese-pack-in-122277.phtml Yes, really.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{ICO}}'' and ''VideoGame/ShadowOfTheColossus''. Good thing they got an UpdatedRerelease, because the {{P|layStation2}}S2 originals are now pretty much unobtainable ([[CrackIsCheaper not at a reasonable price anyway]]).
* Various games made by Clover Studios / Creator/PlatinumGames:
** ''VideoGame/GodHand'', the earliest listed of their titles here.
** ''VideoGame/{{Okami}}'' sold so badly that it led to the dissolution of Clover Studio ([[Creator/PlatinumGames though not for long]]), and yet the game is considered one of the best the PS2 has offered. So much that it later got [[VideoGame/{{Okamiden}} a sequel, sort of]] by another studio on the NintendoDS and remade for the Wii, as well as being put on the {{P|layStation3}}S3
** ''VideoGame/{{Vanquish}}''. Critics loved it, but the game itself slipped right under the radar. [[ScrewedByTheNetwork The game sneaked onto store shelves without any promotion or fanfare]], so hardly anyone knew about it until it was released for PSN's games on demand in 2013.
** ''VideoGame/TheWonderful101'' also had this problem: Reviews were generally positive, but it sold poorly in Japan and even worse in the rest of the world. [[ScrewedByTheNetwork Nintendo published the game, but did almost no publicity for it]].
* Several of Tim Schafer's games. ''VideoGame/{{Psychonauts}}'' was critically loved, but very few people got it.
** ''VideoGame/BrutalLegend'' got great reviews but poor sales. The MisaimedMarketing also didn't help.
** ''VideoGame/GrimFandango'' was extremely well-received critically, even managing to win several Game Of The Year awards, despite having some pretty stiff competition - 1998 also had ''VideoGame/{{Xenogears}}'', ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'', ''VideoGame/HalfLife'' and ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime''. However, the game [[CriticalDissonance didn't sell well]], becoming the first LucasArts game to lose money, and marking the company's shift out of the genre.
* ''VideoGame/KyaDarkLineage'' got some pretty good reviews, but for most people not that many knew about it. For those who got it, it's a shame it's widely unknown. Doesn't help either that it ended on a cliffhanger.
* ''VideoGame/{{Klonoa}}'' for PlayStation received glowing reviews from critics, but bombed at retail for being mistaken as kiddy. The game would go on to become a cult classic, fetching over $60 on eBay at its peak. Same went for its EvenBetterSequel ''Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil''. History repeated itself with the Wii remake, which Namco hoped would sell greatly and regain interest in the franchise, especially since most Wii owners like cutesy games, but the remake sold poorly too, and the planned ''Klonoa 2'' Wii remake was cancelled.
* ''VideoGame/JetSetRadio'', a [[GenreBusting platform-rollerblading-graffiti]] game for the Dreamcast, was extremely well-received and won several awards but didn't sell well even among games for the unsuccessful platform.
* ''VideoGame/SuikodenII'', the EvenBetterSequel to the first Suikoden, was also a bomb, but certainly not for lack of quality; it is considered by many who have played it to be one of the finest examples of the RPG ever. Rather, it came at the worst possible time: the week before one of gaming history's most anticipated sequels, ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'', not to mention the SegaDreamcast launch. Speaking of the former, ''Final Fantasy VII'' had stylistically redefined the genre with its big-budget, cinematic 3d visuals just two years earlier, and ''Suikoden II'', which stuck to the isometric 2d of its predecessor, looked extremely outdated by comparison, as practically every other major RPG was following the charge lead by the new generation of Final Fantasy. The game did become a CultClassic within the next couple of years, and would fetch massive sums on eBay. To this day, there has not been a rerelease, save for a [[NoExportForYou Japan-only]] PSP re-release of I and II.
* ''VideoGame/ValkyrieProfile'' was also an initial stateside flop, having to do with a late era PlayStation release, meager marketing push from Enix, and just being too unique for its own good. It did gain a following, and similar to ''Suikoden II'' above, become valuable on the aftermarket, but thankfully it received a port on the {{P|layStationPortable}}SP and two follow-ups.
* ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment'' made very little money, despite being named game of the year by multiple review organizations.
* ''VideoGame/JadeEmpire'' sold far less than ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'' and any of Creator/BioWare's later original [=IPs=], despite some heavy praise from reviews.
* ''VideoGame/{{Shantae}}'' sold poorly and its sequel sold modestly, but both received very favorable reviews.
* ''VideoGame/TheNeverhood'', an adventure game animated entirely in claymation, was released around the time adventure games were going out of style.
* ''VideoGame/ConkersBadFurDay'', due to limited advertising and late arrival to the Nintendo 64, didn't sell as well as hoped. But it gained critical acclaim and a cult following among fans regardless.
* ''VideoGame/LittleKingsStory'' received critical acclaim, many reviewers considering it to be on the same level of quality as some of Nintendo's first party titles, yet nearly no one brought it. The kiddy presentation didn't help despite the game actually being quite dark in places. The developers seem to have realized this, because the sequel for Vita (which can be purchased on PSN) uses a typical RPG/anime artstyle.
* ''VideoGame/{{BattleZone|1998}}'' (the 1998 FPS/RTS version) was loved by videogame magazine critics, but failed to make an impression in the marketplace. The sequel, ''Battlezone II: Combat Commander'', likewise failed to sell, though it was received less warmly partly because its SceneryPorn was the cause of [[ObviousBeta poor performance]] and partly because the gameplay was slowed down in favor of more [[GenreShift RTS elements]].
* ''Cornerstone'', Creator/{{Infocom}}'s attempt to enter the business-software market, generally got good reviews, but sold very poorly, in part because of a general economic-downturn at the time of release.
* The ''VideoGame/PanzerDragoon'' series, especially its RPG one, ''Panzer Dragoon Saga''. Being released on the doomed-from-creation Saturn (which has proven nigh-impossible to emulate) sent it straight into obscurity.
** Same goes for ''VideoGame/BurningRangers'', another Saturn exclusive. It was released when the console was nearing its end (in America and Europe). While it was a success in Japan, it was a commercial failure in other countries. American or European copies usually go for $75-100 on eBay, while Japanese copies can be found for about $15-30.
* ''VideoGame/KingdomOfParadise'', despite gorgeous graphics and relatively high ratings by critics, faced underwhelming sales. It remains a hidden gem in the world of gaming.
* ''VideoGame/SteelBattalion'' was a game which was produced with skepticism and launched with little advertising. Simply put, the controller used made the game economically unviable due to the 200$ price tag plus the fact the game was made for Japan but released on an American console (the Xbox). However, the game was groundbreaking in terms of its simulation abilities, and easily well ahead of its time. So much so that a cult following still apparently maintains the multiplayer expansion even after Microsoft ended Xbox Live.
** Ultimately, the game basically broke even when it came to the market, with the producer having said the game was [[DoingItForTheArt made more as a statement]] for what could be done in the gaming industry that other industries couldn't do.
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendaryStarfy'' in America. It got very good reviews and has a dedicated following, but sold poorly. In Japan, it sold better, but not as well as the other 4 Starfy games, which [[NoExportForYou are Japan-exclusive]].
* ''VideoGame/TotalAnnihilationKingdoms'' is considered as one of the best RTS games next to its predecessor TotalAnnihilation, even though it didn't sell much.
* ''Videogame/SpecOpsTheLine'' was universally praised for its writing, but sold poorly due to advertisements [[NeverTrustATrailer portraying it as a generic modern warfare third person shooter.]] They were trying to invoke an IntendedAudienceReaction, since the game is a DeconstructorFleet, but word-of-mouth just didn't kick in as strong as they wanted. It didn't help that the message of the game is "stop playing", [[GoneHorriblyRight which fans sometimes mention when talking about the game]].
* ''{{VideoGame/Gladius}}'' was universally praised at release; it was even called the best Xbox game nobody played.
* ''VideoGame/{{Shenmue}}''. While the first one sold okay, the sequel didn't. This is mainly because Creator/{{Sega}} released it as an Xbox exclusive outside of Japan and Europe, since video game developers ended production on Dreamcast games in America at this time. Most Xbox owners only cared about shooters and sports games, and ''Shenmue 2'' was neither of those, thus the sequel suffered from horrible sales, and it ended on an unresolved cliffhanger that was never resolved due to Yu Suzuki leaving Sega, and Sega not having enough of a budget to make a third game due to losing so much money on both games.
* ''VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes'' was adored by critics, but lacked in sales. It sold 40,000 in Japan, and 208,000 in America. Preceding ''VideoGame/{{Madworld}}'', it was an M-rated Wii exclusive, and came under fire from MoralGuardians. Despite lackluster sales, it ended up getting a sizeable cult following and a [[VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes2DesperateStruggle sequel]], and was later ported to the [=PS3=] in hopes that it would sell much better on there (though it didn't).
* ''VideoGame/EliteBeatAgents'': Praised by critics for its tight, challenging, and unique gameplay and amazing atmosphere, it even won [=GameSpot=]'s NintendoDS Game of the Year award in 2006, beating out front-runners like ''VideoGame/NewSuperMarioBros'', but was panned commercially because it was perhaps just [[WidgetSeries a little too weird]] for most gamers' tastes (not to mention that said atmosphere let to a ''very'' jarring case of SurpriseDifficulty). This has, unfortunately, effectively quashed any hopes of an official sequel ever being released in the West.
* ''VideoGame/{{Perimeter}}''. While the game had pretty good reviews, it flopped spectacularly... and yet for some reason both an ExpansionPack and a sequel were created.
* Due to very poor marketing ''VideoGame/ColdFear'' was largely unheard of by gamers, and most who did hear about it were very quick to dismiss it as a rip off of ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil4''. However, those who actually play it ''love it'', and many say its as good or better then RE4
* Subverted by ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidPeaceWalker''. While it was one of the biggest ''Franchise/MetalGear'' games and received glowing reviews, it didn't sell so well due to the fact that it was a PSP exclusive. Once it appeared on the HD collection for the Xbox 360 and {{P|layStation3}}S3, it sold much better.
* ''VideoGame/MoonBaseCommander'' received fairly positive reviews, but flopped terribly upon its release and won IGN's "Best Game No-One Played" award in 2002. It has somewhat of a small following, if not simply for the fact that it was made by Creator/HumongousEntertainment.
* ''VideoGame/PaperMario'' was not a good seller when it came out, despite abundant marketing and a lot of good reviews. This is because it was released on the Nintendo 64's last days, when people were hyped about the Gamecube and games like ''Super Smash Bros. Melee'' were just around the corner. ''Paper Mario'' was also blasted by Mario fans for [[TheyChangedItNowItSucks not being]] ''VideoGame/SuperMarioRPG''. It had become VindicatedByHistory several years later, and until the Nintendo [=eShop=] re-released it digitally, copies of ''Paper Mario'' remained at their original selling price of US$50 or higher.
* ''VideoGame/FreeSpace 2'', to the point where it was a GenreKiller -- because if a game that well-received still couldn't sell the genre, what could?
* ''VideoGame/RaymanOrigins'' and its sequel ''VideoGame/RaymanLegends'' were universally praised but didn't sell very well, probably due to the fact that ExecutiveMeddling dictated that they be released around the same time as ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'' and ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV'' respectively.
* ''VideoGame/{{Madworld}}'' was loved by critics, but had terrible sales. The fact that it was a violent, M-rated game exclusive to Wii, and the fact that it came hugely under fire from MoralGuardians and Christians were huge causes for its demise.
* ''VideoGame/TheLastExpress'' received high praise for its writing, character development, and intricate-yet-flexible storyline, but the game only sold 100,000 copies, 1 million short of breaking even. This was mostly due to Brøderbund [[InvisibleAdvertising not marketing the game AT ALL]], part of which was probably because Brøderbund's entire marketing staff had [[EpicFail quit a month before the game's release]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* The ''[[Creator/BobChipman Big Picture]]'' episode [[http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/the-big-picture/3281-The-Numbers "The Numbers"]] is about this trope, and how it leads to studios making [[StrictlyFormula safe, formulaic movies]] pandering to the LowestCommonDenominator. Specifically, it describes how Creator/{{Universal}} experiencing a number of these, particularly ''Film/ScottPilgrimVsTheWorld'' (which suffered the added indignity of getting squashed at the box office by ''Film/TheExpendables'', a film that Bob hated), caused them to fling Creator/GuillermoDelToro's adaptation of ''Literature/AtTheMountainsOfMadness'' into DevelopmentHell and commission more sequels to ''Film/TheFastAndTheFurious'', one of their few bright spots at the time.
-->"When great movies fail at the box office, other movies will suffer because of it."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/SymBionicTitan'' was beloved by critics and fans on the internet, but lasted only 20 episodes.
* ''WesternAnimation/InvaderZim'' gained a massive and loyal fanbase for weirdness and BlackComedy such as hadn't been seen on Nickelodeon since ''WesternAnimation/TheRenAndStimpyShow''. But ratings didn't justify the (very expensive) cost of the animation and it was axed after three seasons.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Robotomy}}'' was loved by fans but the production costs were too much for Creator/CartoonNetwork.
* Creator/CartoonNetwork's WesternAnimation/DCNation block. The set-up of two anchor shows interspersed with various shorts and mini-specials about [=DC=] was highly praised for its immersion and uniqueness, but only one of the four featured shows received any promotion, with the other three all axed because, despite strong fanbases and good writing, their merchandising didn't turn a profit (or, in the case of ''WesternAnimation/GreenLanternTheAnimatedSeries'', exist at all).
* Despite having a large adult fanbase, ''WesternAnimation/AvengersEarthsMightiestHeroes'' did not sell enough merchandise or appeal to the target demographic enough to warrant more than two seasons.
[[/folder]]
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