[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/epicfail_1563.png]]
[[caption-width-right:300:H-how did you even ''manage'' that?]]
->''"There's a difference between a failure and a fiasco. A failure is simply the non-presence of success. Any fool can accomplish failure. But a ''fiasco'', a fiasco is a disaster of mythic proportions. A fiasco is a folk tale told to others that makes other people feel more alive because ''[[{{Schadenfreude}} it didn't happen to them]]''."''
--> -- Opening narration of ''{{Elizabethtown}}''

When a normal, run-of-the-mill failure just isn't enough.

This is about something that should be fairly straightforward and typical for a character but then [[GoneHorriblyWrong goes horribly, HORRIBLY wrong]] in a manner probably thought impossible. It's when a character seems to be facing a pass or fail situation, a do or die type of test, and then fate hands them a [[TakeAThirdOption third option]]: fail in a manner so bizarre it's impressive. We're not talking, "[[BadBoss Supervillain decides to shoot a random minion]] but misses." We're talking, "Supervillain decides to shoot a random minion, but misses -- and the bullet ricochets off two walls, smashes the instrument panel on his Doomsday Machine and ends up inches from the minion's head, [[DisasterDominoes weakening a structural support]] and causing the base to come crashing down. And [[{{Irony}} the minion is the only survivor]]." A failure so ludicrously, unexpectedly awesome that, despite its status as a failure, it manages also to be admirable for its uniqueness and irreproducibility.

At its best the trope can give the viewer a much needed jolt out of a sense of boredom, it can produce a laugh out of something you wouldn't think could, it can inspire a temporary sense of fate or dramatic justice. At its worst, it can become a DeusExMachina, rescuing the writers from the fortress of logic they have enclosed themselves within with a HandWave of "luck".

Often used against those who are TemptingFate, and sometimes as a demonstration of how monumentally ''screwed'' you are in a FinalBossPreview. When epic failures come in forms that shouldn't be possible, they can be examples of BeyondTheImpossible. Often this trope comes with an IncendiaryExponent, possibly because of the RuleOfCool. DisasterDominoes are a common part of such epic failures.

Compare CriticalFailure (a game mechanic meant to represent the normal ever-present danger in any action), FromBadToWorse, ForWantOfANail. This trope is the norm for StupidCrooks. If the Fail is so Epic that reality itself breaks trying to process it, then you've managed to make a RealityBreakingParadox. Contrast FlawlessVictory.

Not to be confused with EpicFlail, [[WhatTheFuAreYouDoing though you can certainly commit Epic Fail with an Epic Flail if you're not careful.]]

If you're looking for the trope that [[TropeTransplant used to have this name]], it's now OffscreenMomentOfAwesome.

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!!Administrivia/InUniverseExamplesOnly

[[index]]
* EpicFail/AnimeAndManga
* EpicFail/ComicBooks
* EpicFail/{{Fanfiction}}
* EpicFail/{{Film}}
* EpicFail/LetsPlay
* EpicFail/{{Literature}}
* EpicFail/LiveActionTV
* EpicFail/NewspaperComics
* EpicFail/ProfessionalWrestling
* EpicFail/RolePlay
* EpicFail/TabletopGames
* EpicFail/VideoGames
* EpicFail/WebComics
* EpicFail/WebOriginal
* EpicFail/WesternAnimation
[[/index]]

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