A work of literature, film or television -- just getting started, purely original (if there is such a thing), unaffiliated with any previous book, movie or TV show -- has little hope of standing out among the established goldmines of franchises. Critics mock it. The public isn't expecting it. It gets even worse if [[TroubledProduction things go awry on its production]]. Then, when released, it pulls a megaprofit stunt and becomes an instant classic. Usually accompanied by HypeBacklash, but has less chance of becoming DeaderThanDisco. Contrast with VindicatedByHistory, where a work initially fails but then gradually builds a very high reputation.

Subtrope of SleeperHit; in this case, the work must be actively derided before release, not just ignored. Compare ItWillNeverCatchOn. See also MagnumOpusDissonance when it's the creator who doesn't expect the work to succeed.
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Masayuki Ozaki, the executive producer of ''Anime/TigerAndBunny'', stated that just about ''no one'' expected the series to be successful (namely because of the belief that nobody would want to watch a {{superhero}} anime with a middle-aged single father as its primary protagonist), much less become the instant CashCowFranchise it is now.
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' was basically a last ditch attempt by StudioGainax to stay afloat, and was not expected to turn out extremely well. An UrbanLegend even claims that investors were hoping for a SpringtimeForHitler situation.
* Before the English release of ''{{SHUFFLE}}!'', anime based on {{eroge}} with the porn [[BleachedUnderpants removed from the adaptation]] were not commonly licensed, with rumours flying around that MoralGuardians would throw a fit if they ended up on store shelves. When Creator/{{FUNimation}} licensed the series, nearly every blog and forum was raising its collective eyebrows and wondering why the distributor obviously hated making money. The first volume of ''SHUFFLE!'' came out and sold ''tons'' of copies, and [=FUNi=] decided to give the final volume a special edition art box release (which had been common a few years earlier, but in the wake of Creator/{{Geneon}}'s fall, not so much) if the second volume sold as well. It did. Now you can't walk into a video store without tripping over eroge adaptations, whether or not they actually have a plot.
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'' was the very definition of TroubledProduction thanks to this trope. Director/co-creator Goro Taniguchi asked for a 50-episode series, but Creator/BandaiEntertainment only gave him 25, for reasons that remain unclear[[note]]Some say they felt Taniguchi was "untested", others say it's because he's a perfectionist and somewhat hard to work with -- or because previous works of his like {{Planetes}} and GunXSword had not done too well in the Japanese market[[/note]]. Even then, the staff had limited resources and had to piggy-back off of other Bandai shows in production at the time. When the show took off and became the Next Big Thing, Bandai was quick to embrace it, though unlike YoshiyukiTomino and ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'', Taniguchi and fellow co-creator Ichiro Okouchi were smart enough to hold onto the rights.
* The first ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'' manuscript was sent to Shueisha to publish in Weekly Shonen Jump, who said it was good, but not good enough for Jump, and rejected it. The author then sent it to rival Kodansha, who published it in their monthly Bessatsu Shounen Magazine. Considering what trope page this is, it goes without saying it became a SleeperHit, growing in popularity to surpass famous long runners like Bleach.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* WaltDisney is the all-time master of this trope.
** Nobody but Walt expected ''SteamboatWillie'', a cartoon with synchronized sound, to get any attention.
** Nobody but Walt expected ''Flowers and Trees'', a cartoon in full color, to get people flocking to it. The short film was originally black & white; Walt had it completely redone despite the financial risk involved.
** Animation was considered a medium inferior to live action and destined to remain seven-minute-long curtain raisers to feature films... until ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'', which was labeled "Disney's Folly" by film industry insiders but at its premiere proved an amazing picture, and the worldwide highest-grossing until ''GoneWithTheWind''. Since then it has become the subject of much strife for being the comparison point for all other animated features (Walt himself fell victim to that).
** After Walt's immense box-office wipeout (''Disney/{{Pinocchio}}'', ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}'' and ''Disney/{{Bambi}}'') and the further financial strains of UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo to his studio, returning to full-length animation was an insane gamble; on top of that, branching out into non-cartoon movies and a theme park was (in the eyes of critics in the late 40s) absolutely impossible for Walt to do. ''Disney/{{Cinderella}}'', ''TreasureIsland'' and Disneyland were all a big success.
** ''Film/TheShaggyDog'', Disney's first attempt at making live-action comedies, was not considered a good idea, but this film, ''TheAbsentMindedProfessor'' and others of its kind cleared the Disney Studio of financial debt by 1961.
** It wasn't until the unconditional faith in ''Film/MaryPoppins'' that it was acknowledged how Walt could do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Hiccups and all, his empire still stands.
** Though "fail" is probably too strong a term, many inside Disney thought that ''{{Pocahontas}}'' was to be the studio's mid-nineties mega-hit, with ''Disney/TheLionKing'' being a relatively minor project. The latter ended up performing much better critically and commercially, and, to some, is considered the peak of the Disney Renaissance.
** In 2002, Disney, specifically CEO Michael Eisner, found itself doubting {{Pixar}} could keep the big hits coming in 2002 with ''WesternAnimation/FindingNemo''. When that became Pixar's biggest hit yet, Eisner found himself in an impossible position trying to renew Disney's contract with the studio with SteveJobs, who personally loathed Eisner, in a position to demand all but a blank check lest Pixar go with any of Disney's competitors eager to hookup with it.
* Critics were very hostile to ''Film/KingKong''. "A 50-foot gorilla attacking New York City? And on top of that, falling in love with a human woman instead of eating her? Nobody's ever gonna pay to see THAT!" Take a guess at how wrong they were. It's one of the earliest examples of CriticalDissonance in cinema.
* ''ThePhiladelphiaStory'' was released at a time when Katherine Hepburn was considered "box office poison". The film became a resounding success and subsequently restored Hepburn's reputation.
* The Bengali coming-of-age film ''PatherPanchali'' had little hope of being recognized as more than a renegade/experimental Indian product. Upon release it quickly made heaps of money everywhere it was shown and through this Satyajit Ray introduced the world to the possibilities of low-budget filmmaking.
* Creator/UnitedArtists did not have much faith in ''Film/DrNo'', giving only $1 million to the producers and releasing it in the Midwest before the big American markets. It went on to launch the still-thriving Film/JamesBond film franchise.
* Creator/WarnerBros wasn't expecting ''Film/BonnieAndClyde'' to work at all, but it was a megahit and helped [[NewHollywood change the way filmmakers would depict violence]] in future works.
* A fictional example occurs in ''Film/TheProducers'': a sneaky Broadway showman and his accountant/henchman put on a play called "SpringtimeForHitler" specifically BECAUSE it will flop, allowing to keep the excess money they raised but didn't need. [[HilarityEnsues Then they got a little surpise]]. (ironically, the original 1968 film flopped.)
* Creator/{{Paramount}} had no expectations in ''Film/TheGodfather'', despite being based on a best seller. Creator/FrancisFordCoppola was hired only for his Italian origins, the studio gave him limited funds and complained about every decision of his. It became the highest-grossing movie ever upon release, and is frequently in "best of all time" lists.
* ''Film/BlazingSaddles'' was a quirky {{Blaxploitation}} comedy set in the Wild West. [[ExecutiveMeddling Warner Brothers almost didn't release it at all]] because they figured [[AudienceAlienatingPremise it just wouldn't sell]]. But it did.
* ''Film/{{Jaws}}'' was initially picked up as a script treatment by {{Universal}} Pictures, [[TroubledProduction but ran into problems almost immediately]]. A rookie director who only had one other feature film -- that bombed in theatres -- to his name was chosen to direct the film. An actor who believed he was now box-office poison because of his prior work signed up as one of the main characters. Filming ran over-budget and overtime, with executives denying funding for key reshoots (which then had to be paid out of pocket). There were accusations that the practical effects were cheap and laughable, [[SerendipityWritesThePlot forcing the filmmaker to improvise]] by keeping it off-screen for most of the run-time. Yet, contrary to Creator/StevenSpielberg and Richard Dreyfus' beliefs, ''Jaws'' became the first film to see wide-release distribution, became one of the highest-grossing films of all time and ushered in a new wave in American film-making.
* It's hard to believe now, but TwentiethCenturyFox had very little faith in ''Franchise/StarWars: Film/ANewHope'' making much money. They put it out as sort of a "last hurrah" to hold off bankruptcy, and tasked Creator/AlanDeanFoster with writing ''Splinter of the Mind's Eye'', a sequel novel written for the sole purpose of facilitating a quick low-budget movie adaptation. Then the box-office returns started coming in...
** Both Creator/UnitedArtists and {{Universal}} had passed on the film before it even got to Fox.
** Fox had to bully theaters into showing ''Star Wars'', as theaters simply wouldn't touch it and Fox had to make some money back on what they assumed would be a financial fiasco. Fox threatened to withhold the drama film ''The Other Side of Midnight'', which had been tipped to be a hit that Summer, unless the theater agreed to screen ''Star Wars'' for a couple weeks. ''The Other Side of Midnight'' made its budget back, but it was steamrolled at the box office by ''Star Wars''.
** Fox gave George Lucas exclusive rights on TheMerch related to Star Wars in exchange for paying him less. They figured the movie would bomb and no one would make, never mind buy the merchandise as a result. [[JustSoStory And that's why no publisher ever gives exclusive merchandising rights to the creator anymore.]]
* ''AnimalHouse'' was the ambitious foray of the ''NationalLampoon'' magazine into silver-screen entertainment. Universal execs politely allowed the filmmakers to go wild in their own special way, quietly hoping ''Animal House'' wouldn't damage the company's checkbooks. Donald Sutherland famously chose several thousand dollars in payment over a percentage of the box-office gross, expecting the film wouldn't sell. However, ''Animal House'' 's charmingly dark and hard-hitting observations on college life, as well as its undeniably quirky brand of vulgar humor, was so refreshing to moviegoers in the late 70s that the film recouped its $2 million budget 50 times over. Donald Sutherland, as you might imagine, was not pleased.
* ''{{Airplane}}'' was the first shot at a mainstream movie by the people who made ''KentuckyFriedMovie''. With its [[HurricaneOfPuns obsession with]] puns and its throwing of conventional plotline out the window, many believed it had box-office disaster written all over it. It became one of the highest-grossing films of 1980.
* ''Film/ETTheExtraTerrestrial'' was going to be just a forgettable kids' movie about a lost alien, until preview audiences got a grip on its true magnificence and spread the word. It soon out-grossed ''Franchise/StarWars'' and became the top worldwide moneymaker until ''Franchise/JurassicPark''.
** M&M-Mars certainly thought it would be forgettable. Hershey, on the other hand, gave it a chance. Thus, the film put Reese's Pieces on the candy map.
* ''RomancingTheStone''. TwentiethCenturyFox was so certain that it would fail, they fired Creator/RobertZemeckis from directing ''{{Cocoon}}''. This turned out to be a benefit: Zemeckis and his friend Bob Gale then had the freedom to pursue their pet project ''Film/BackToTheFuture'', and in the meantime ''Romancing the Stone'' was the surprise box-office smash of the summer of '84.
* ''Film/BackToTheFuture'' was rejected by every major studio when first pitched in 1980, as the Lorraine/Marty subplot wasn't risque enough to match other teen comedies at the time (or, in the case of Disney, was TOO risque). This caused some embarrassment for a number of Hollywood execs when five years later, Zemeckis and Gale made ''Future'' under Amblin (with distribution by Universal) and it became the highest-grossing picture of 1985.
** Plus, an exec at Universal ''hated'' the name ''Back to the Future'' because he felt that any movie with the word "future" in the title was box office poison. It took the intervention of Steven Spielberg for Zemeckis and Gale to keep the original title.
* Orion Pictures had little faith in ''{{Hoosiers}}'', a film that ended up almost as successful as ''{{Platoon}}'', the other big Orion release of 1986.
* According to Creator/SpikeLee, if he can make hit movies, ANYONE can make hit movies. ''DoTheRightThing'' came out of nowhere in 1989, exceeding every low expectation set upon it and holding its own against a crapload of high-profile summer blockbusters.
* ''HomeAlone'' is the ultimate example: anticipated as another John Hughes concept gone awry, its cartoony slapstick combined with an unexpectedly heartwarming story won audiences over and it became the top-moneymaking comedy of all time (keeping the title until ''NightAtTheMuseum'').
* ''{{Clerks}}'', Creator/KevinSmith's shoestring-budget debut, simply popped out of nowhere and made a heaping wad of cash.
* Creator/JamesCameron's ''{{Film/Titanic}}'' ran overbudget, gathered plenty of naysayers and became the first film in history to make $1 billion worldwide.
** James Cameron's ''Film/{{Avatar}}'' [[HistoryRepeats ran overbudget, gathered plenty of naysayers and became the first film in history to make]] ''[[UpToEleven $2 billion]]'' [[HistoryRepeats worldwide]].
* ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'' started off as [[RuleOfThree the second of three Disney park ride adaptations]], the other two being ''Film/TheCountryBears'' and ''Film/TheHauntedMansion''. A franchise for ''Pirates'' was in no way anticipated by Michael Eisner and his fellow execs. The original film, ''Curse of the Black Pearl'', quickly took off and paved the way for a different trilogy, one whose cinematic epicness has ultimately rivaled ''Film/TheLordOfTheRings''. [[TrilogyCreep A fourth film]] was released in 2011, and apparently is the first of another trilogy.
* The premise of ''Film/NapoleonDynamite'' sounded a bit stupid before its premiere. It became a indie sensation and "Vote for Pedro" became a catchphrase at the time of the film's release.
* ''RockyBalboa'' was not only expected to fail at the box office but was also the butt of many jokes by comedians and film fans due to star/writer/director SylvesterStallone's age (he was 59 at the time of the film's release) and lack of box office success in the early part of the 2000's. Then the film was released, had positive reception from critics and audiences, managed to be a profit-making hit for the studio and gave Stallone a CareerResurrection.
* A first-time director decides to shoot his own horror movie in his own house, and goes so far as to remodel his own home to use as the setting, and hire two unknown actors to play the lead characters. The film was shot in 7 days, and was eventually submitted to the [=ScreamFest=] Horror Film Festival, where an executive from MiramaxFilms saw it and approached the director to rework it for Sundance (he rejected it). Creator/{{Dreamworks}} Pictures saw potential in the film, but they didn't know what to do with it, and decided to hold a test screening (which they thought initially bombed after people started walking out). The film was then delayed for several ''years'' while shakeups and management changes occurred at Dreamworks. In addition, this came during the time when the ''{{Saw}}'' franchise debuted to considerable commercial success. The film, ''ParanormalActivity'', was eventually shunted out the door as a test for viral film promotion, and was expected to flop against the then-released ''Saw VI''. However, the $15,000 film was a smash hit with audience, and eventually grossed ''$189 million'' in total, leading to two sequels, while ''Saw VI'''s disappointing box-office performance arguably [[FranchiseKiller killed the series]] (there was only one more ''Saw'' movie afterwards).
* ''Film/IronMan'': B-list comic book character? [[Creator/RobertDowneyJr Washed-up actor who had problems with drug abuse]] in the lead role? [[Creator/JonFavreau Director]] whose [[{{Film/Zathura}} last film]] hadn't been so much of a success? In hindsight, [[Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse it was Marvel's greatest decision they ever made]].
** According to associate producer Jeremy Latcham, various writers passed on the film during both pre-production and requests for rewrites. All regretted once ''Iron Man'' was released.
** Before ''Film/{{Thor}}'' was released, a lot of critics and bloggers thought it wouldn't do well because the title character wasn't as much of a household name as {{Franchise/Superman}}, {{Franchise/Batman}}, Franchise/SpiderMan, or the {{ComicBook/X-Men}}; it involved a lot of super-shiny costumes and set pieces; and it was directed by [[KennethBranagh someone primarily known for Shakespearean adaptations]] who hadn't directed a big action movie before. And then it made $181 million in the U.S. and well over $300 million worldwide, was pretty well-received critically, and gained an active and devoted {{fandom}}.
** The Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse and ''Film/TheAvengers'' as a whole. Having an ensemble cast of several superheroes? But it worked far better than even thought possible. Also, ever since the nineties it was declared over and over by fans that a movie about a Super-Team consisting of superheroes each big enough to have his own solo movie, thus requiring a lead-star-capable actor for each role, would never be more than a fanboy's daydream.
* When ''Film/DirtyDancing'' was screened for Aaron Russo, a producer at Vestron Pictures, his reaction to the film was "Burn the negative and collect the insurance." ''Dirty Dancing'' would become one of the highest-grossing films of the year.
* Before ''Film/{{Big}}'' was released in June 1988, there'd already been three OvernightAgeUp comedies [[FollowTheLeader made between 1987 and 1988]]: ''Like Father, Like Son'', ''18 Again!'' and ''Vice Versa'' (not to mention the Italian film ''Da grande'', which was this film's direct inspiration), so many expected this film to tank and be forgotten. Instead, ''Big'' became the highest-grossing and most highly-praised film of the bunch.
* ''Film/RoboCop1987'' was expected to be a relatively low-budget B-movie [[ItWillNeverCatchOn that wouldn't do very well at the box office]] and even the director, Creator/PaulVerhoeven, turned it down at first and had to be convinced by his wife to take on the project. Instead it became one of the biggest films of the year and a scifi classic, and launched his career in Hollywood (previously he had only directed arthouse films in the Netherlands, and the last movie he had made, ''Flesh+Blood'', was a huge flop).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Anthony Burgess wrote his first novel, ''Literature/AClockworkOrange'', as a form of therapy in an emotionally turbulent period in his life. He figured that once published it would be quickly forgotten, and he would turn his attentions to his next book. ''Clockwork Orange'' propelled Burgess to international fame instead.
* First editions ''Discworld/TheColourOfMagic'', the first Discworld novel, are quite rare because no one really thought it would sell and the publishing run was therefore rather low.
* ''Literature/HarryPotter''. Literary critics pigeonholed the first book as lame 1990s juvenile fantasy, destined to be forgotten. The series became some of the best-selling books in history.
* The original novel of ''Literature/{{MASH}}'' was rejected by over a dozen publishers, which was a record for the agency selling it. It eventually spawned a movie, numerous sequel novels and a tv series that ran for eleven years (and whose final episode was the highest rated show ever broadcast at that time).
* ''Literature/AnimalFarm'' was turned down by a publisher who told Orwell in the rejection slip, "It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA." (Yeah, right...)
* In case you need proof that most publishers thought StephenKing's ''Literature/{{Carrie}}'' would fail, King has saved all the rejection letters he got while trying to sell it. One of them said, "We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell."
* Nathaniel Hawthorne did not expect ''TheScarletLetter'' to be popular. It was.
* Beatrix Potter at first had absolutely ''no'' luck finding an editor who liked ''Literature/TheTaleOfPeterRabbit''. Eventually, she used her family's wealth to publish it privately, and after some moderate success on this limited distribution, an editor was conviced that it would sell and, well, it certainly did.
* As hard as it is to believe, one publisher rejected ''Literature/AnneFrankTheDiaryOfAYoungGirl'', claiming in the rejection slip, "The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above 'curiosity' level." (The name of this publisher has been lost, and more than likely, he kept quiet about it.)
* Creator/AstridLindgren was rejected by one publisher, ''Bonniers''. But she finally was accepted by another publisher, ''Rabén & Sjögren'', and she would (mostly) remain faithful to them for the rest of her career. And it was a good career too, as she became one of Sweden's most-loved writers of children's literature.
* Creator/SimonaAhrnstedt was determined to bring RomanceNovel to the Swedish literary scene. But it wasn't easy for her to find a publisher for her debut novel, ''Literature/{{Overenskommelser}}'', and critics continued to ignore her. While she maybe isn't a household name, she's got a steady fanbase, has published two more novels and has proved that there is a market for Swedish Romance.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action Television]]
* ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' was considered a filler for dead airspace that was only created to replace old reruns of Johnny Carson's ''The Tonight Show'' and only appealed to stoners and insomniacs. 38 years later, and the show (despite its ups and downs in quality, three threats of cancellation, and its constant changes in cast and crew members) has become a New York institution, is the longest-running sketch show in America, and has accrued a vast wealth of memorable characters and moments (both funny and serious).
* ''Series/TwentyFour'' initially began its existence as a romantic comedy-drama about the planning of a wedding over the course of a single day -- before being reworked by producers Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran into a action-thriller about a government agent trying to rescue his family during a Presidential primary election in Los Angeles. The series wasn't expected to last a full season. FOX executives ordered 13 episodes and aired it with virtually no promotion whatsoever (and in a Tuesday timeslot, which was uncharacteristic for an action show). It was only due to lead actor Kiefer Sutherland winning a Golden Globe Award for his work on the first ten episodes that made executives order an additional 11 scripts to fill out the season. However, the series become much more critically-lauded, was a smash hit on DVD (so much so that it increased viewership of the second season by a full 25%) and eventually led to a franchise that lasted eight seasons (and a TV movie), with tie-in materials and a proposed feature film continuation, in addition to a sequel mini-series confirmed to be on the way.
* ''TheWire'' was initially rejected by {{HBO}}, who weren't even sure that they wanted a police procedural in their programming lineup - they had to be convinced by creator David Simon (who had previously collaborated with them on 2000's ''The Corner'') to produce a pilot episode. The resulting season didn't fare so great in the ratings, and the series was on the verge of cancellation - until critics started promoting the show as one of the best new series in years. The show subsequently survived multiple attempts at cancellation, lasted five seasons, and has been regarded as one of the best dramatic series produced from the 21st century.
* When the Sci-Fi Channel first aired the ''Series/BattlestarGalacticaReimagined'' miniseries, fans of the original absolutely tore it to shreds, insulting the GenderFlip of Starbuck, the DarkerAndEdgier tone and more. Others were turned off by the name and the association to what was perceived as a hokey 70's sci-fi series. Better yet, the first season of the show was broadcast in the U.K. months before it aired on American television, and fans continued to tear into it - then, the show started to receive massive critical acclaim from critics across the world, and when the show debuted on Sci-Fi, it garnered some of the highest ratings for any sci-fi show ''in history''. It lasted four seasons and two tie-in films, and resulted in two spinoffs (''{{Caprica}}'' and the upcoming ''Blood And Chrome'').
* In late 2003 / early 2004, Lloyd Braun and a few other ABC executives were fired because they had greenlighted a strange project called ''Series/{{Lost}}''. What is ''Lost'', anyway? A rehash of ''Series/GilligansIsland'' with a dramatic angle? And the enormous budget that somehow got approved for this thing ... worst blunder ever! Yet despite the lack of faith from top brass, ''Lost'' became an overnight sensation and producer Creator/JJAbrams became a household name.
* ABC started garnering a few tentpole series from midseason replacements, which in general are held for midseason because they're not considered good enough for the fall schedule.. The first midseason replacement to become a hit was ''Series/GreysAnatomy''. The second was ''Series/{{Castle}}''. The third, though not as big as the other two, was ''Series/BodyOfProof''.
* The U.S. adaptation of ''Series/{{The Office|US}}'' was heavily criticized by both media pundits (for being an adaptation of a [[Series/TheOfficeUK cult British series]] that lasted a grand total of [[BritishBrevity 12 episodes and a Christmas special]]) and its original creator, Ricky Gervais (who feared that viewers would hesitate watching an American reworking of a British show -- i.e. the American ''{{Coupling}}''). Although the show had a six-episode season, ratings fell sharply in between the premiere and season finale (due to NBC shuffling its timeslot around), and it was in danger of being cancelled (in addition to scathing reviews from major U.S. publications). However, the show quickly found a footing by differentiating itself in tone and content from the British series, and went on to become NBC's highest-rated comedy.
** Four years later, the exact same thing would happen with ''Series/ParksAndRecreation'', right down to the six-episode first season, the critics dismissing it as a pale clone of ''The Office'' (the U.S. version this time), and the show becoming successful when it developed its own identity.
* The Disney TV movie ''HighSchoolMusical''. Nobody, absolutely nobody, saw its mega-popularity coming.
* In fall 2006, Creator/{{NBC}} premiered two primetime shows that took place behind the scenes of a [[SaturdayNightLive sketch comedy show that airs live every week]]: ''Studio60OnTheSunsetStrip'' and ''[[Series/ThirtyRock 30 Rock]]''. It was widely expected that ''Series/ThirtyRock'' wouldn't last past the first fifteen minutes of episode one while ''Studio60OnTheSunsetStrip'' would go on to success and acclaim. A year later, ''Studio 60'' was the one dead in the water and ''30 Rock'' had picked up the Emmy for Best Comedy. Two more years later, ''30 Rock'' had three Emmys for Best Comedy and ''Studio 60'' is yet another forgotten show that will live on in the minds of die-hard Aaron Sorkin fans.
* AMC was never considered in the same league as HBO, with original shows not being up their alley ... until the double-whammy of period drama ''Series/MadMen'' and dark comedy/drama ''Series/BreakingBad''.
* ''Series/{{Glee}}'', a somewhat weird show (even for FOX) about Midwestern high-school misfits partaking in song-and-dance competitions, was never expected to climb high enough in viewership to make an impact, let alone end up a top TV franchise. But it did, due in large part to razor-sharp plotlines (at least in the first season), impeccable musical direction, and the one-of-a-kind acting chops of Matthew Morrison, LeaMichele, ChrisColfer and Jane Lynch.
* Before it launched, the ITV2 series ''TheOnlyWayIsEssex'' was pretty much universally derided as a pointless knock-off of a more serious but otherwise similar series on ChannelFour called ''Seven Days''. Not only did TOWIE become an unexpected hit, but who even remembers ''Seven Days'' now?
* For the Friday night new shows on fall 1993, Fox decided to put a Western with big names up front, and some sci-fi show starring two unknowns afterwards to get the residual audience from its predecessor. The former is ''TheAdventuresOfBriscoCountyJr'', which only lasted one season. The latter is ''Series/TheXFiles'', which was highly influential, acclaimed, and popular during its nine seasons.
* In 1975, when Phil Redmond was touting the idea for ''GrangeHill'' around most of the UK's television companies, no one was prepared to believe that schoolchildren would want to watch a realistic drama series about children at school. Finally taken up by the BBC in 1976 and launched in 1978, the series ran for 30 years, racking up 601 episodes.
* ''Gardeners' World'' has been running since 1968, has its own magazine, and is practically an institution in its own right. But when it was first proposed, commissioners at the BBC didn't believe there would be an audience for a programme about gardening, and were even more sceptical that anyone would be able to find enough material to keep it running. [[labelnote:*]]This was in spite of the fact that ''Gardeners' Question Time'' had been running on the radio since 1947.[[/labelnote]]
* In the fall of 1994, ''Series/{{ER}}'' and ''Series/ChicagoHope'' premiered on NBC and CBS, respectively, in the identical Thursday at 10pm time slot (and both set in the same city). While not exactly expecting ''ER'' to fail, many critics deemed ''Chicago Hope'' the better show and assumed that it would win the ratings battle. Instead, ''ER'' trounced ''Hope'' so thoroughly that within weeks the latter show moved to another time slot and was off the air in six seasons (perfectly respectable, but nothing compared to ''ER'''s 15).
* The fifth episode of ''Series/TheSopranos'', "College", was initially met with extreme resistance from HBO executives because it showed Tony committing his first on-screen murder, and they felt that the audience would never be able to feel sympathy for the show's protagonist if he remorselessly killed an FBI informant [[KarmaHoudini without consequences]]. Being early in its run, ''The Sopranos'' had yet to become the critical powerhouse that it would eventually be, and the network still worried about its ability to sustain an audience. In the end, though, not only did "College" end up winning a Primetime Emmy for "Outstanding Writing", it was eventually ranked by ''Time'' magazine as the greatest episode of the series, and it was ranked the second greatest television episode of all time by ''TV Guide''. To this day, fans frequently cite it as the show's GrowingTheBeard moment.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' was [[GallowsHumor so named]] because Squaresoft thought it would close its doors after shipping the game. Today, SquareEnix enjoys strong sales and a fan base best described as both rabid and numerous. The series is a massive commercial success, though it does not always receive critical praise. Most of the early games are considered classics, even by those who do not like the JRPG genre. Square needed ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyI'' to be a '''major''' success in order for the company to remain open, so this is an example of a company scale AndYouThoughtItWouldFail.
* Though he in the end did not interfere with the decision, then-president of {{Creator/Sega}} of Japan Hayao Nakayama thought then-president of Sega of America Tom Kalinske's decision to bundle the company's KillerApp ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog1'' with the SegaGenesis for the for the upcoming 1991 holiday season, despite being released only a few months ago, was an awful idea. Sega of America's gamble paid off with the Sega Genesis outselling the competing {{Creator/Nintendo}}'s ''[[Main/SuperNintendoEntertainmentSystem SNES]]'' almost two to one during the holiday season and caused Sega's marketshare in the 16-bit console to skyrocket up to 65% in January the following year, dethroning Nintendo as the console leader for the first time since December 1985 and establishing Sega as a serious contender against Nintendo in the Main/ConsoleWars.
* Before its release, Nintendo and RetroStudios made so many controversial choices with ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime'' that no one, not even levelheaded fans and critics, were kind to it. First off, Nintendo letting Retro, an unproven American studio, develop the game rather than doing it themselves. Second, making it in 3D which many expected but was still a controversial choice especially given how many franchises started to crumble with that jump the gen before it. Finally, making it first-person was thought to be the final nail in the coffin for the game having any hopes of being good and feeling like ''VideoGame/{{Metroid}}''. When it came out, not only did everyone feel like it was a true ''Metroid'' game, it and its two sequels are generally considered to be among the greatest games of all time.
** The success of the Metroid Prime trilogy put Retro Studio's name on the map. ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountryReturns'' and ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountryTropicalFreeze'' were also developed by Retro Studios and both games were met with high praises from fans and critics alike. ''Mario Kart 7'' was also co-developed (at the last minute) by Retro Studios.
* Combining Square and Disney's ability to pull this off, when people first heard about ''KingdomHearts'', a game where a Square character travels with Donald and Goofy, most people thought it was going to be a quirky kids game and that's it. Instead it was a huge success and became Square's second biggest series (right under ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'').
* The NintendoWii and NintendoDS were both thought to be failures with terrible gimmicks by most critics and fans before release. The Wii went on to become the company's best-selling system since the NES and outsold its competitors by a far margin. The DS went on to become the top-selling handheld dedicated game system of all time. [[http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/thread.php?id=109863 This comic illustrates the point quite nicely.]] It also says something that [[http://www.gamespot.com/news/april-fools-analyst-revolution-will-take-lead-in-2010-6146958 this April Fools' joke was more accurate than every serious prediction around that time.]]
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'' introduced a radical ArtShift to a new cel-shaded style that was met with massive backlash on reveal; the FanNickname "Celda" was used derogatorily. This is especially due to prior promotional renders of the new ''Zelda'' game showing an update of the fairly realistic style used in the {{Nintendo 64}} games. Upon release, it was hailed as one of the {{Gamecube}}'s most popular releases and no less than three games followed it that starred Toon Link, as the protagonist of this style is known in ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros Brawl''.
* ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'', Game Freak's cashcow game franchise to end cashcow franchises, was practically declared a failure and a loss by Nintendo of Japan on their part, and they never paid it much mind. You can guess just how very wrong they were. In fact, ''Pokémon'' was put on the Game Boy out of desperation more than anything else--no one but Satoshi Tajiri, the creator, was interested in releasing something for the then-aging, then-forgotten Game Boy. Tajiri simply wanted to see his game available to the public. The franchise not only saved the Game Boy, it saved Nintendo (its resources were seriously strained trying to finish ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'', in addition to [=PlayStation=] releases steamrolling anything Nintendo had released at the time), and through the [[Anime/{{Pokemon}} anime adaptation]], helped popularize anime in the west. It also helps that Pokemon was one of the franchises that eventually helped the DS and the 3DS dominate the handheld share - because it's a franchise that relies on the handheld, and that Nintendo handhelds can always rely on.
* Nintendo initially planned on ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros'' being simply a little low-budget novelty to be released only in Japan. Then they implemented characters from other series and imported i overseas, and became a major success.
* Sony didn't bother to publish ''DemonsSouls'' themselves as a first-party PS3 title in the west because they thought it wouldn't sell well. ''DemonsSouls'' wasn't just published by Sony's Japanese division; the game was co-developed by SCE Japan Studio. Luckily, publishers like {{Creator/Atlus}} and Creator/NamcoBandai picked up the title and the rest was history. ''DemonsSouls'' ended up as big SleeperHit in 2009. Much to Sony's surprise, went on to receive positive reviews from both gamers and the press. For a lightly-marketed game, it sold more than 150,000 units in its first month alone. Sony to this day regrets not publishing ''DemonsSouls'' themselves in the west and lost out on a potential first-party KillerApp.
* ''Franchise/SpyroTheDragon'' fans and critics alike thought ''VideoGame/{{Skylanders}}'' would be a bomb. Instead it has become a CashCowFranchise that probably surpasses even the actual ''Spyro'' games, with over 700 million dollars in sales and several titles.
* The ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' series' creator, Shu Takumi got told his idea of a lawyer main character would fall flat on its face. Judging from the number of sequels, additional media, and fan bases, it's sort of obvious that Takumi had the last laugh.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* A Christmas movie for television using stop-motion puppets was a strange concept on the part of Creator/{{NBC}} and RankinBass, the studio they hired to make ''RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer''. Instead of being completely ignored, however, ''Rudolph'' proved to be a huge hit.
* ''ACharlieBrownChristmas'' was considered almost radioactive by Creator/{{CBS}}. To them, an animated special with actual children doing the voices, a jazz soundtrack, and a Bible recitation seemed a ludicrous recipe for TV disaster. Instead, it became the ''greatest'' ChristmasSpecial of them all.
* Very few people expected ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' to make a successful transition from skits on ''The Tracey Ullman Show'' to half-hour show of its own. Even Matt Groening was having doubts on its first season, and was threatening to have it canceled since he was having issues with the animation. Despite that, ''TheSimpsons'' remains the longest-running sitcom in America, a universal favorite (it's been dubbed and subtitled in a lot of languages), a CashCowFranchise, and, like ''SaturdayNightLive'', a show that has a glut of memorable moments and quirky characters.
** When Matt Groening first met up with the animators to work on the first short for the ''The Tracey Ullman Show'', they reckoned that it would take around two weeks to complete... and that they would get about three weeks of work out of the entire project before it was shelved.
* ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'', so very much; it was expected to fail so hard due to the [[TheyChangedItNowItSucks massive amount of changes]] to the ''{{Transformers}}'' formula, the FanDumb cry of "[[MemeticMutation Trukk not Munky!]]" is burned into all Transfans' minds. Turns out, the quality of the show probably saved the franchise from dying out, and became the standard for what all future western-made ''Transformers'' would be based on.
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' of all things, started out miserably when Matt Stone and Trey Parker's tiny cult hit joke-animated short "The Spirit Of Christmas" got picked up for a pilot. The first episode "Cartman Gets An Anal Probe" was completed and submitted. It was pounded into the ground by test audiences who were baffled by the (intentionally) terrible animation, the juxtaposition of cute characters spewing heavily censored vulgarities in steady streams, and the overall bizarre nature of the plot. It was deemed a complete and utter failure and ComedyCentral was very unconvinced that ''South Park'' had any future, but still encouraged Matt & Trey to create a few more episodes such as "Weight Gain 4000". These too, did not impress the network, and many people thought the show was directionless. With much hesitancy and uncertainty they aired the shows. While mainstream critics even were very slow to warm up to the show, they eventually did, and it became a more impressive hit than ComedyCentral expected. However, major problems and waning fan interest after only Season 2 (a season Matt & Trey have gone on to say was their absolute worst season) they figured that South Park was all but finished. During Season 3, they produced ''WesternAnimation/SouthParkBiggerLongerAndUncut'', while being faced with immense ExecutiveMeddling from both Creator/{{Paramount}} and the MPAA, they figured the movie would flop miserably and would be their triumphant last hurrah. Instead it was critically acclaimed and a box office success and brought more attention to the show. Cut to today, where ''South Park'' has 17 successful seasons so far.
* Long-time fans and of the Creator/CraigMcCracken-Creator/GenndyTartakovsky group, as well as television critics, initially believed ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' as the end of an era for them, as this was the first time this group produced a show based on a MerchandiseDriven franchise. On top of that, this was to be a pillar show on the fledgling network Creator/TheHub, a channel (partially) owned by a toy company. Creator/LaurenFaust received harsh words from every corner about selling out and her supposed lack of artistic integrity, to where she also believed the show would flop and this would be her CreatorKiller. Despite of this vitriol, or perhaps because of it, the show wound up having a PeripheryDemographic nobody expected and allowed The Hub to be a real contender for the likes of Creator/CartoonNetwork and Creator/{{Nickelodeon}}.
[[/folder]]

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