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Hoist By His Own Petard: Real L Ife

  • This is the whole point of the martial art of jujitsu. A practitioner uses moves in such a way that he can use the attacks of his opponent against him.
  • The term in question is still valid today; several movies and TV shows dealing with The War on Terror, such as The Kingdom or NCIS, have pointed out that bomb-makers often lose a finger or two to their own bombs, or worse.
    • More than one bomb maker has met his end while assembling a bomb, and more than one bomber has had the bomb go off before he could arrive at the target. At least a few have died from accidentally setting their bomb vests off while giving their buddies one last good bye hug. It's not a job that lends itself well to on-the-job training.
    • Some of the funniest cases reordered here.
      • Apparently, one frequent occurrence in Afghanistan is for the suicide bomber's device to detonate during the ritual group hug before going off on a mission.
    • Joke/urban legend: A terrorist once sent a mail bomb which had insufficient postage. It was returned to him, and he, forgetting what was in it, opened the envelope. (Does that count as a suicide bombing?)
      • From the same source: Two animal rights activists were protesting the cruelty of sending pigs to a slaughterhouse in Bonn, Germany, by freeing a captive herd. Suddenly all two thousand pigs stampeded through the gate they were opening, and trampled the hapless protesters to death.
    • A man in Mexico tried to bomb government offices and accidentally set off the bomb.
    • An Indonesian militant was trying to bomb a police station with a homemade bomb. But on his way in his bicycle it blew up before he got there.
    • An attempted suicide bomber in Moscow during a New Years celebration was killed when her own bomb (triggered by her cell phone) went off prematurely because the cell carrier wanted to congratulate all of their customers with a spammed text message (and the bomber was too stupid to keep the phone off until just before).
  • Marie Curie's major claims to fame are her study of radioactivity as well as discovering radium. The dangers of radiation exposure weren't understood at the time and she ultimately died of radiation poisoning. Then again, if it wasn't for her studies on radium and radioactivity, we might not have fully understood radiation poisoning as well as we do, which makes her a martyr for scientific knowledge.
    • Her husband Pierre as well. He didn't die of direct effects of radiation exposure (Marie died of leukemia, almost certainly caused by her extensive long-term exposure to all manner of radioactives), but he did have a rather famous burn on his chest (probably a radiation burn from the vial of radium he often carried in his shirt pocket), and was suffering symptoms that may have been radiation sickness when he stumbled in the street and was run over by a horse-drawn cart (radiation sickness can cause dizziness, confusion, and delirium).
  • Similar to the above, but rather more sinister, Dr. Sabin Arnold von Sochocky, who was one of the co-founders of the United States Radium Corporation - infamous for its callous treatment of employees adversely effected by the radiation from the radioactive paint they produced - eventually died of aplastic anemia, caused by his own exposure to radium.
  • Maximilien Robespierre, who was behind much of the Reign of Terror that followed The French Revolution, was ultimately himself executed by the guillotine which he so adored. Along with quite a few others. (Another irony is that several people who participated in Thermidor actually were against the guillotine, as it was too slow— and were more in favour of shooting their victims randomly with a cannon from a distance and throwing them into a mass grave to die.)
    • However, the rumor that Dr. Guillotin was executed on the device he had introduced (referenced in the Discworld example on the Literature subpage) is untrue.
    • It's also shown in at least one film that Louis XVI had a hand in designing the guillotine, which he was later put to death by.
    • The Regent of Scotland, James Douglas, introduced the Maiden, a sort of prototype guillotine, to Scotland in the 16th Century. Three guesses how he died...
  • Duke Shang Yang, author of The Book of Lord Shang and notorious in ancient China for his draconian punishments, met his end under a punishment that he himself formulated into Qin law when he was convicted of treason against King Huiwen of Qin (translation: Huiwen wanted revenge against Shang Yang for when the duke had the then-crown prince publicly humiliated as punishment for an offense committed). The punishment, which was reserved for law enforcers who broke the law themselves, called for not only the offender's execution, but that of his family as well. Ouch.
    • And it gets better: when he tried to hide out in a hotel in an attempt to escape the above fate, he was refused, as the strict laws he had enacted in Qin while in power made it illegal for a hotel owner to admit a guest without proper identification.
    • The Qin Dynasty did itself no favors in being so harsh—they only lasted 15 years.
  • The infamous Pope Alexander VI died in suspicious circumstances. While many historians attribute his death to a plague, a popular rumor claims that he accidentally drank poisoned wine intended for one of his political rivals.
  • Soviet dictator Josef Stalin had maintained his grip on power for more than three decades by terrifying everyone around him. One night in 1953, Stalin stayed up drinking with his goons until about 3 or 4 AM, at which time he went to bed. When Stalin didn't come out at his usual hour, people began to get concerned, but they left him alone since they were under strict orders not to disturb him and too terrified of his wrath to risk going in to check on him. By the time one of his cronies finally mustered enough nerve to see what was going on, it was 10 PM of the next day and Stalin was dying of a stroke. Stalin lay for almost a full day, helpless and alone. Had his stooges checked on him, they might have been able to get the doctors in on time, but as it was, Stalin's own brutal tactics kept his thugs from saving his sorry hide.
    • To add insult to injury, interior minister Lavrentiy Beria mocked Stalin after his apparent death. When Stalin showed signs of consciousness, Beria crouched down to kiss his hand, and when Stalin went unconscious again, Beria spat upon his body. Beria would later gloat that he killed Stalin with poison.
      • Stalin had also recently initiated (or was about to initiate) a purge of doctors.
      • This really applied to the USSR in general, and still does in communist countries (North Korea especially). As was remarked later "Oftentimes, the one who put someone in the gulag yesterday was sentenced to the gulag today."
      • Generally, just look at photos or video of who is around the Leader to find out who is "in favor." The best example is on the cover of a book Soviet Censorship. Let's just say those who fell out of 'favor' were never seen again.
      • Speaking of "falling out of favor", Nikolai Yezhov, the mastermind behind the Great Purges second only to Stalin himself was eventually arrested and through torture confessed to have been plotting against the Great Leader. In the end he ended up being imprisoned and executed by the very system he helped create. Exactly the same thing happened to his predecessor (Genrikh Yagoda) and his successor (Lavrentiy Beria).
    • Stalin's policy of cleansing the "worker's paradise" of intellectuals (i.e. people smarter than him) often backfired, as it meant the Soviet Union would end up with inferior technology thanks to all the smart people being sent to Siberia (or unmarked graves). Now imagine What Could Have Been if he would've had a little more foresight.
    • The same thing took place in the military. Stalin had so many of his top men purged that when he needed them, he had no one who was more than barely competent, and the Soviet Union came within a hair of being defeated by Nazi Germany.
      • Additionally, he would often shut down technological breakthroughs that were ahead of their time and wouldn't be discovered (or implemented) again for at least a decade. For example, his aircraft designers during World War II had many innovative ideas for jet fighters and bombers, which Stalin quickly suppressed, making the scientists work on designing cheap, fast-produced planes. Once the tide in the war had turned, he didn't feel the need to improve on what was already working.
      • The exact opposite being done by Germans, who managed to develop from scratch quick solutions of dubious reliability such as interleaving wheels on tanks, play with projects doomed from the start such as tanks too heavy to move anywhere and a giant cannon that could break anything, but hit nothing, and really produce expensive military innovations such as jet fighters and ballistic missiles without prerequisites that would make them efficient — during the war which they started already short on resources.
  • Another one from Soviet Russia during the war. The Russians strapped bombs to dogs as a living anti-tank mine. The dogs did just as they were trained, when released in battle, heading under Russian tanks they trained with.
    • One with the Italians. When the Greeks invaded the city of Koritza in 1940, they bombed the Italians with their own artillery they had abandoned on their retreat.
  • On one occasion, late in his life, Sir Robert Watson-Watt, considered by many to be the "inventor of radar," reportedly was pulled over in Canada for speeding by a radar-gun toting policeman. His remark was, "Had I known what you were going to do with it I would never have invented it!"
  • That Other Wiki has its own article on the subject.
  • NFL player Plaxico Burress served time for unlawfully carrying a gun at a nightclub. This case is special because:
    • It was only made public knowledge that he was carrying a gun because he accidentally shot himself.
    • He accidentally shot himself because his gun was in a style of clothing that only an idiot would wear to a nightclub.
    • The gun only went off because he had a round in the chamber.
    • The NYPD only found out about this because it was on the news, because he was so popular, and not because he'd gone to a hospital. note .
  • King James II of Scotland was a big supporter of the use of then-modern artillery in warfare. He was killed when one of his own cannons exploded.
    • His namesake James IV of Scotland was also a major patron of artillery and modern warfare and also had a sucky fate. He met his end when he invaded England with a huge but inexperienced army and got trapped on a hill where he couldn't depress the guns low enough to hit the English while they pounded him. Forced to personally lead a headlong Death or Glory Attack to get off the hill, he ran into a storm of cannon and longbow fire only to discover his pikes were neigh-ineffective against the armored English Billmen. He, most of his army, and a huge chunk of Scotland's nobility died in the attempt.
  • The Peacemaker Accident. USS Princeton was the first screw-propelled ship in the US navy hosted a large number of dignitaries and most of the cabinet. The opportunity was used to show off different cannons to the higher-ups. One of these was named the Peacemaker. Its explosion killed 7 including the Secretary of the Navy, Secretary of State, the Captain, and the Navy's head of the construction, equipment and repairs.
  • Enron's accounting fraud. A lot of the transactions used in the fraud created large amounts of extra debt, and a lot of the other transactions and investments lost value very quickly when the company was being investigated, significantly speeding up the bankruptcy.
  • A Greek brass worker named Perilaus invented the brazen bull, a particularly gruesome brand of execution. The victim would be placed inside a hollow brass statue of a bull, and a fire would be lit underneath. The screams of the victim were turned by the bull's inner workings into the roars of an angry bull. Perilaus presented it as a gift to Phalaris, a ruler of a local city-state. So disgusted was Phalaris with this invention that he ordered its creator to be its first victim.
    His words revolted me. I loathed the thought of such ingenious cruelty, and resolved to punish the artificer in kind. "If this is anything more than an empty boast, Perilaus," I said to him, "if your art can really produce this effect, get inside yourself, and pretend to roar; and we will see whether the pipes will make such music as you describe." He consented; and when he was inside I closed the aperture, and ordered a fire to be kindled. "Receive," I cried, "the due reward of your wondrous art: let the music-master be the first to play."
    — Phalaris I
  • On Christmas Eve of 2008, Bruce Jeffrey Pardo went to a party held by his relatives dressed in a Santa suit, opened fire on them and killed eight, and then set fire to the house with a homemade flamethrower. His original plan was to establish an alibi and flee the country; however, the homemade flamethrower burned part of the Santa suit into his flesh, sabotaging his plans and driving him to commit suicide.
  • On February 16, 2010, a man responsible for a string of terrifying holdups in Adelaide, South Australia was arrested due to the fact that not only were two of the stolen cars used for the robberies parked on his property, he had in his possession a SPAS-12 shotgun, which was clearly identifiable on the released CCTV footage of some of the robberies, and is very rare, not to mention illegal to own in Australia.
  • Thomas Midgley, Jr. is a double example: he invented leaded gasoline and CFCs, contributing to some of humankind's greatest screwups, then died when a machine he built to hoist him out of bed (he was stricken with Polio) malfunctioned and strangled him.
    • Talk about irony. Literally hoisted by one's own invention.
  • The 2009 Cincinnati Bengals played their final game of the regular season against the New York Jets. The Jets would only enter the playoffs if they won, but the Bengals already had their best position locked up and so rested their players and visibly did not play hard to win the game. The Jets won handily. The following week the Jets played Cincinnati again, and eliminated them from the playoffs.
  • The urban legend of the guy who was killed by his own fart gas. The MythBusters busted this one.
  • Drug suspect kills self with own shotgun booby trap.
  • In 1982, Universal Studios sued Nintendo of America on the grounds that their Donkey Kong arcade game was a rip-off of Universal's King Kong. However, Nintendo's lawyer Did Do The Research, and found out that Universal had previously won a lawsuit declaring King Kong was in the public domain. The judge ruled that Universal had acted in bad faith by threatening Nintendo's licensees, and Nintendo received $57,000 (plus damages and attorney's fees) as a result.
  • In 1927, Isadora Duncan, a dancer known for wearing long scarves, died from a broken neck when a large silk scarf draped around her neck became entangled around one of the vehicle's open-spoked wheels and rear axle.
    • Also in 1927: J.G. Parry-Thomas, a Welsh racing driver, was decapitated by his car's drive chain which, under stress, snapped and whipped into the cockpit. He was attempting to break his own land speed record which he had set the previous year. Despite being killed in the attempt, he succeeded in setting a new record of 171 mph (275 km/h).
  • 1928: Alexander Bogdanov, a Russian physician, died following one of his experiments, in which the blood of a student suffering from malaria and tuberculosis, L. I. Koldomasov, was given to him in a transfusion.
  • The Collyer brothers, extreme cases of compulsive hoarders, were found dead in their home in New York in 1947. The younger brother, Langley, died by falling victim to a booby trap he had set up, causing a mountain of objects, books, and newspapers to fall on him crushing him to death. His blind brother, Homer, who had depended on Langley for care, died of starvation some days later. Their bodies were recovered after massive efforts in removing many tons of debris from their home.
  • In 2004, when it looked like John Kerry might win the presidential election, the Democrats scrambled to change the rules so that an appointee of the (Republican) governor, Mitt Romney, wouldn't serve out the term. Six years later, under a Democratic governor, Ted Kennedy died too quickly for them to change the rules back, but it didn't really matter since the Democrats couldn't possibly lose a Massachusetts Senate election, right? Right? Right? Fortunately for them the Republicans couldn't hold onto that seat and lost it two years later.
  • Basketball player crushed by collapsing wall after grabbing hoop.
  • The owner of the Carrier Chipping Company was shredded by his own wood chipper.
  • Infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was responsible for the deaths of 17 young men, most of who were black. Two years into his prison term, he was brutally murdered by being impaled through the ass with a broomstick and having his head bashed in with an iron bar. His killer? An African-American man.
    • Also killed alongside Dahmer by the same man was inmate Jesse Anderson. His crime? Murdering his wife, then trying to pin the crime on two black men.
    • Similarly, rumor has it that is was a female executioner who flipped the switch on serial killer Ted Bundy, who killed 36 women.
  • An unlicensed pyrotechnician was decapitated by a firework when he looked down the tube after it failed to launch.
  • Happened in the Burmese general election of 1990; the regime officially said the election was multi-party(and it was), but they thought they were so popular their candidates would win easily. Results? National League for Democracy wins 392 seats (out of 492), making for a rather convincing win. However, the junta refused to recognize the results, and put NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest, making this more of a Subverted Trope.
  • In 1917 the British were having a problem with a particular German-laid minefield off the coast of Ireland. It seemed that however diligent the RN minesweepers were in their duties, ships were still being lost in this field. The Director of Naval Intelligence, Admiral Sir William Reginald Hall, deduced that the Germans were eavesdropping on the minesweepers' radio traffic, and were simply sending a U-boat out to re-lay the minefield when they heard the sweepers broadcast the 'field cleared' message. The British response? To leave the minefield intact and broadcast a false 'field cleared' signal. UC-44 sailed out to re-lay the field... and was sunk by the mines. The only survivor was her Commander, who was furious that the RN minesweepers had done such an inefficient job of clearing the field.
    • There are disagreements on this part, but the new theory is that UC-44 was blown up by her own prematurely armed mine — known issue even for specialized minelayers of this era — so it fits either way.
    • Most likely a myth. German naval mines were self-disarming and usually inert after a set amount of time. This made sense since British mine disposal was expected and minefields would have to be re-layed anyway. The Germans could however not depend on the minesweeper finding all mines, so the u-boats only moved in after the mines should have been inert and then layed new ones.
  • Jimi Heselden, owner of the Segway company, died after driving one of his own products off a cliff.
  • On Dec. 17, 1989, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu order his security forces to fire on anti-government protestors, but on Dec. 22, the Romanian army defected to the demonstrators, and on Christmas Day, he and his wife were executed by firing squad.
    • Even better, his wife Elena's Last Words were reportedly, "Can it be that the firing squad is still in use in Romania?"
    • It has also been argued that Ceauşescu's draconian attempts to increase the country's birth rates (Decreţei) in the late 1960s played a role in his downfall, as it created a generation of "unwanted" children who played a key role in the 1989 protests by the time they reached adulthood.
  • Numerous politicians have put out campaign commercials, or made speeches, attacking their opponents that have ended up hurting them far more. In one of the more notable cases in recent history, Meg Whitman, running for governor of California, made a speech about how California used to be such a better place back in the day, which was the reason she moved there, and she'd like California to be like it was then. Her opponent's campaign immediately put that portion of the speech in an advertisement, helpfully pointing out that Whitman's opponent, Jerry Brown, had been the governor during the time Whitman was pining for.
  • Unblack metal is this trope applied to a musical ideology. Basically, it takes the sound of Black Metal-a genre of music known for Satanism-and pairs it with Christian lyrics.
    • What's also rather funny is that since a lot of Metal has growling and screaming to the point of being unrecognizable to normal people, some people buy albums from these bands that do this genre without realizing what they're singing.
  • In 1964 US President Lyndon Johnson's administration started a bill that would end legal discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. A southern congressman, not liking the "race" part, added "ending legal discrimination on the basis of sex" hoping that people would decide not to vote for it due to this. As a result, several female members of the House took up the bill, and the bill was passed... protecting race, color, religion, national origin, and sex.
  • The Chinese philosopher, Han Fei Tzu, was imprisoned by the leader of the Chinese state of Chin due to a policy of imprisoning and/or killing scholars and intellectuals. Said policy was proposed by none other than Han Fei Tzu himself.
  • In April 2011, Lady Gaga, the infamous diva of odd clothing choices, tripped and nearly broke her nose while performing a concert in Atlanta. What did she trip on? An article of ridiculous clothing she had ripped off as a part of the show.
  • The Lapua Movement was a radical right, anti-communist political movement in Finland in the early 1930s. By pressuring the Finnish government through kidnappings and assaults, the Movement managed to pass several anti-communist laws, including the Protection of the Republic Act, nominally meant to ban "anti-government entities". After the Movement attempted to overthrow the government, the Lapua Movement was banned under the Protection of the Republic Act, the very legislation the Movement helped to legalise.
  • The Khmer Rouge turned Cambodia into a huge death camp from 1975 to 1979. When Vietnam got fed up with them, the Khmer Rogue had so devastated their own country that they were in no shape to resist. The war was over in two weeks. Oh, and what was one of the big things that caused Vietnam to say "enough is enough"? Cambodians fleeing into Vietnam to escape the Khmer Rouge. It should say something about how badly communism failed in Cambodia that the monarchy was restored by other communists.
    • The Khmer Rouge also made a special point of persecuting Vietnamese nationals. As in nationals of the country which was just 4 years out of its over 25 year anti-colonial/civil war, whose direct armed intervention in Cambodia was responsible for putting the Khmer Rouge in power to begin with, and had more war material and hardened veterans than God just lying around. Oops.
    • To put in perspective the sheer scale of disparity between the Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge's forces, shortly after this war, Vietnam was invaded by the People's Republic of China, one of the Khmer Rouge's sponsor states. China, having one of the largest armies in the world and sharing a land border with Vietnam, lasted a single month before withdrawing their forces from Vietnamese territory (the Vietnamese fought them off while their forces were still occupying Cambodia). Contributing factors to the outcome of the Sino-Vietnamese War include China's recent purges of their military leadership and industrial and economic reforms which crippled their ability to properly equip and support their army.
  • A motorcyclist died in an accident while protesting helmet laws by riding without a helmet. He would have survived had he been wearing one. Indeed, helmet and seatbelt protestors dying of preventable injuries is almost a Black Comedy Running Gag in law enforcement circles.
  • In the 2011 Women's World Cup Quarterfinal between Brazil and the USA, Brazil held a 2-1 in extra time. In the final minutes of extra time, one of the Brazilian women faked an injury to draw out the medical team and went off on a stretcher. Seconds after being carted off, she hopped off the stretcher and rejoined the game with no difficulty - drawing a yellow card for her flagrant diving. However, her stunt led the ref to award 3 minutes of injury stoppage time, and the USA scored the equalizing goal in the 2nd. The USA would then advance on penalty kicks.
  • Pablo Escobar, the kingpin of the notorious Medellín Cartel, kept attempting to kill those who opposed him politically. Ultimately, many of these hits led to his defeat because they angered the wrong people and led to a massive manhunt against him that ultimately led to his downfall.
    • And that wrong people (besides the Colombians) were the U.S. Government.note 
    • A lot of his fellow criminals ended up becoming his enemies as well, as they (including a rival cartel) banded together to form a group called Los Pepes (People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar) that fought back against Escobar by fighting as dirty as he did. It has never been conclusively established whether or not the Colombian and US governments were involved with Los Pepes, and if they were, it's not clear to what extent. However, what is clear is that they were invaluable in taking down Escobar.
  • Employee restraint clauses—also called restrictive covenants or covenants not to compete—are supposed to help defy this by preventing companies from creating their own competitors, at least for a time. Supposed to—courts don't like them that much and often declare them unenforceable.
  • In 1976, on the eve of the West Indies Cricket team's tour of England, English captain Tony Greig (an expatriate South African) commented, "If they're down, they (the West Indians) grovel, and I (...) intend to make them grovel." The comment incensed the West Indians, who proceeded to annihilate England in the series. West Indies captain Clive Lloyd commented:
    "The word 'grovel' is one guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of any black man. The fact they were used by a white South African made it even worse. We were angry and West Indians everywhere were angry. We resolved to show him and everyone else that the days for grovelling were over."
  • A Congressman who was campaigning against a cell phone ban while driving got into a fenderbender while conducting a radio interview on the subject on his cell phone.
  • The Comics Code Authority forbade any reference to drugs, even negative portrayals. When Stan Lee was asked by the US Government to do an anti-drug issue of Spider-Man, the CCA refused to approve it. Stan Lee just released it without CCA approval, and readers happily filled in that approval gap. Result: The CCA ended up looking clueless and eventually going out of business altogether in 2011, at which point the trademarks were turned over to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. See, kids? Censorship is bad.
  • Mark Zuckerberg's photos were revealed after a Facebook glitch appeared.
  • In 2002, a 79-year-old Belgian, who apparently hated his estranged family, rigged his house with 20 deadly booby traps, from tripwire shotguns to an exploding beer crate (set to detonate when a certain number of bottles were removed). Apparently, he was smart enough to realize that his memory was going to Hell in a hand-basket, so he wrote a list of 20 enigmatic clues to remind him where the traps were. Too bad the list didn't help at all, and he ended up being shot by one of his own traps.
  • It's possible that Charles Manson might have gotten away with his "Helter Skelter" murders (at least long enough to mastermind more) were it not for one of his drugged up cronies telling every detail of the crimes to two cell mates, who went and informed the police.
  • During the American Civil War, the South's attitudes about race being what they were, the Confederacy decided against freeing their slaves and raising troops of black soldiers. This refusal exacerbated the already considerable logistical advantages the North had, including the fact that the Union did raise black troops, and helped ensure their already likely defeat. Taking a level in Genre Savvy, the South would've started using black troops toward the end of the war had the North not won first.
  • The French puppet emperor of Mexico, Maximillian II, attempted to dissuade the Mexicans from rebelling against him by enacting a law that sentenced every rebel captured in battle to death by firing squad. When he himself was captured by the rebels in 1867, the same law was applied to him and he was executed by firing squad.
  • In 2011, a group called Million Mom March protested against an issue of Archie Comics' Life with Archie in which one of the characters, a gay man, married his partner. End result? The issue selling out in record time and copies being sold higher on eBay. When they caught wind of what Marvel Comics was doing in an issue of Astonishing X-Men, they did the same. Marvel's response? "Please, keep protesting."
  • In an inadvertent application of this trope, a drug dealer who ordered a hit on someone was instead offed by his own muscle when the intended victim used him as a Bulletproof Human Shield (more details on that page).
  • One of drug Queenpin, Griselda Blanco's, favorite method of killing her enemies was by having her hit men perform motorcycle drive-by shootings in Miami. How was she killed on September 4, 2012 in Colombia? By a motorcycle drive-by shooting after she left the butcher shop.
  • One of Apple's patents, the controversial "rubber band" patent that was used against Samsung in a billion-dollar coup in the Mobile Patent Wars, was invalidated by U.S. courts owing at least in part to an earlier patent by one of its own employees, interface designer Bas Ording. Bonus points because Ording also invented the "rubber band" technology.
  • In the final weeks of the 2012 US Presidential Election, it seemed as if Republican candidate Mitt Romney had enough momentum going to become the next President of the United States. This changed when Romney released a series of ads in Ohio claiming that General Motors and Chrysler were shipping Jeep production jobs overseas to China under current President Barack Obama as a result of the 2009 government auto bailout. The people of Ohio, who take their auto industry seriously, fact checked Mitt Romney's ads and found that they were in fact false. (The truth was that Chrysler was building a plant in China to produce cars specifically for sale in China, and that American production would not be affected by it.) When the Ohio newspapers and the heads of both GM and Chrysler came out denouncing the ads, it backfired on Romney and possibly cost him Ohio (and the election as a result). Truth be told, a lot of stuff Romney did throughout the 2012 campaign came back and bit him in the ass, including his infamous "47%" quote, where at a fundraiser he told a group of campaign donors that he didn't have an obligation to win over the percentage of people who'd vote for "the other guy", and in the first Presidential Debate, despite "winning" it, when he made a jab at the debate moderator Jim Lehrer by declaring that he was going to cut government funding to the station that Lehrer worked for, PBS.
  • Protestant preacher John Knox really didn't like Mary I of England. He was clever enough not to object to her reign on purely religious grounds, however, since there were plenty of people who weren't convinced that was a problem. Instead, he decided to pen the most misogynistic pamphlet he possibly could to make the case that a woman shouldn't rule over men. Then Elizabeth I took the throne. Oops. The Queen never did let him back into England.
  • How do you destroy your own debate television show? Simple, bring Jon Stewart in as a guest. That's the fate that befell CNN's Crossfire on October 15, 2004 - what started out as a piece for Jon to promote a book turned into a ten-minute attack on the Crossfire show itself. By the end, Jon had systematically destroyed Crossfire's own purpose, leading to the show being cancelled three months later.
  • The Kirchner governments of Argentina managed to torpedo shared sovereignty agreements over the Falkland Islands, pulling out of an agreement to share marine resources in order to try to score political points in Argentina and to try to block British claims to the islands at the UN. Then the British found oil, in areas that the Argentines would otherwise have had a claim to under the proposed British resource-sharing deal. Oops.
  • In 1961, a group of music publishers tried to sue MAD over a book called Sing Along With Mad, which featured 25 parody lyrics to popular songs. The judge ruled that Mad hadn't broken the law, since they had written the lyrics themselves and the lyrics in question weren't similar enough to the songs that were parodied. There were only two exceptions, so in other words the judge ruled that 23 of the 25 parody lyrics were perfectly legal. The music companies appealed the verdict, hoping to get a better deal from the Court of Appeals. They told the court that it just wasn't right to give Mad the rights to 23 of the 25 parody lyrics. The judge agreed, and gave Mad the rights to 25 of the 25 lyrics instead.
  • In World War I, there are many accounts of one side firing things like Mustard Gas at the enemy trenches, only for the wind to change and blow it over friendly lines.
  • In 2007, young mother Stacy Petersen mysteriously disappeared. Suspicion immediately fell on her husband Drew, who was known to be controlling and abusive and whom she had been planning to leave. Unfortunately, despite everyone's suspicions, there was no evidence of foul play. However, the incident made the cops take a second look at the death of Drew's previous wife Kathleen, initially ruled as a drowning, but now taking on a more ominous tone. An exhumation and second autopsy revealed that the woman had in fact been murdered. Drew Petersen was promptly arrested, tried, and convicted. Had it not been for Stacy's disappearance—the general assumption is that he killed her to silence her about what she knew—he would have continued to escape punishment for Kathleen's murder.
  • The year before the 2006 elections in Italy, Silvio Berlusconi's government changed the electoral laws so that whichever coalition of parties won the most votes would automatically win 54% of the seats in the lower chamber of Parliament. At the time, Berlusconi's Forza Italia party and its "House of Freedoms" alliance were much further ahead in the polls than Romano Prodi's alliance of left wing parties known as the Union, the system was clearly weighted in Berlusconi's favour. Then when election day came, the Union edged out House of Freedoms by just 0.1% of the vote, handing Prodi a victory. Then in 2013, the same system allowed the left-wing parties to defeat Berlusconi's alliance after they edged him out by 0.4%.
  • During the Cold War, when the USSR was attempting to annex Afghanistan, the United States funded the strongest local insurgent militias, including some backed by Al-Qaeda, to fight them off, and urged them to defend their way of life and religion against the oppression of the outside world. Fast forward a decade or two...
  • In a newspaper interview in 2011, British economist Vicky Pryce revealed that her former husband, Chris Huhne (who by that point was the UK government's Energy Secretary) had pressured someone into falsely admitting to a speeding offence that he had committed, which would have caused him to be banned from driving. This kicked off an ugly political scandal that led to Huhne resigning from the government, and he eventually plead guilty to the offence in court, fulfilling Pryce's self-confessed goal of destroying his political career as revenge for breaking up with her. However, the police were naturally interested in who had taken the rap for the speeding offence, and as it turned out, Pryce herself was the person who did that, leading to her being hauled up in front of court on the same charge (perverting the course of justice), and eventually being convicted.
    • On top of that, Pryce managed to hoist herself by her own petard in an entirely different way during the trial itself. Had she pleaded guilty to her crime but claimed pressure from Huhne as a mitigating factor, odds are she would have gotten away with a fine and a suspended prison sentence. Instead, she pleaded not guilty via the archaic "maritial coercion" defence, and during the trial she pretty much admitted to every aspect of the offence, but said that she just didn't deserve to be held responsible for her actions. After her first trial collapsed in bizarre circumstancesnote , the jury in a re-trial found her guilty after just a few hours, and she got the same eight-month sentence that Huhne did.
  • The F-105 Thunderchief, one of the early US-built supersonic fighters with air-to-air missiles. The seeker heads on these early heat seeker missiles were notorious for switching targets in flight (often from the enemy plane to the ground in Vietnam; especially troubling for those F-4 Phantoms that were forced to ditch guns entirely for heat-seeking AAM's), and had another inconvenient property: The top speed of the missile was slower than the top combat speed of the F-105. A number of inattentive pilots attempted to fire heat seekers at enemy aircraft while flying too fast, the missile falling behind and locking onto the engine of the plane that fired it. This was not always fatal, as the type of warheads used in heat seeking missiles are not particularly effective on larger aircraft.
  • The Anvilicious anti-drug cartoon Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue has never been re-aired on cable television since its only airing in 1989. Why? Well, there's the thing called "getting Jim Davis' permission to use Garfield in your cartoon." It's said that the producers of the cartoon got permission from the syndicate that publishes the comics, but never contacted Jim himself. Jim, in turn, was quite angry and threatened to sue the pants off of everyone if it was ever re-aired.
  • In 1994, Republican Governor of California Pete Wilson spearheaded an anti-illegal immigrant movement, the core of which was Proposition 187, which "established a state-run citizenship screening system and prohibited illegal aliens from using health care, public education, and other social services". Great, except for the perception of the fastly-growing Latino demographic that it was a racist attack against them. The result: Latinos flee into the Democrats' arms by the thousands. Jump ahead 18 years, and California's now one of the safest Democratic states in the Union. Nice going, Pete.
  • Capcom managed to pretty much kill the market for pirate Street Fighter II boards. They did this by taking the best features of the pirates and incorporating them into the next edition of the game. (So for instance, the infamous Rainbow Edition looks like a shoddily programmed copy of Hyper-Fighting).
  • In an example that merges with Executive Meddling and Nice Job Breaking It, Hero, Harmony Gold is the distributor for Super Dimension Fortress Macross products in the west, and in the 80s was raking it in thanks to the Westernized version known as Robotech. However, in attempting to ensure everyone purchases only product authorized by them, Harmony Gold attempted to file lawsuits blocking the distribution of any subsequent Macross product or anything remotely resembling it elsewhere in the West by anyone else, claiming they held the rights exclusively...only for it to be revealed in court that they didn't. Whoops. Yet they kept acting like they did. This, combined with their aggressive tendency to file lawsuits against popular franchises with the slightest whiff of derivative from Macross, including targeting fan-favorite franchises like Transformers, BattleTech, and most recently G.I. Joe, has also led to considerable drops in support and sales for the company, meaning their plan to control all profits of Macross-derived works in the West has ended up costing them those same profits (and a lot of goodwill from the fans).
  • In 1998, in Virginia, Paul Powell murdered Stacie Reed and raped and attempted to kill her sister Kristie because she dared dating a black man instead of him. He was convicted at trial of capital murder, but his death sentence was overturned by the Supreme Court of Virginia, which found that the evidence was legally insufficient to show he had raped or tried to rape Stacie; under Virginia law, a simple finding of murder without aggravating factors is not a capital crime. Thinking that he couldn't be sentenced to death, period, this genius sent a taunting letter providing the evidence--an admission he had tried to rape Stacie, among other things--needed to convict him again of capital murder to the prosecutor, literally signing his death warrant. Now consider this: if he hadn't sent this letter, he would be now serving a life sentence instead of dying on the chair.
    • In the same vein, Dennis Raeder aka BTK got caught because he taunted the police and was traced with the help of the floppy disk he used.
  • Sega's mishandling of the Sega Saturn in America is usually what is considered to be what led to the company's later bailing out of the console-making business. To wit:
    • Sega of Japan and Sega of America had no idea what one side was doing with the other. SoA released the Sega 32 X without realizing Japan was going to release the Saturn and when they did, they abruptly stopped support for the 32X, pissing off players.
    • During E3 '95, Sega attempted to outbeat neophyte Sony and its PlayStation by announcing that the Saturn would be released the very day it was being announced for $399. Sony's response? "$299." It didn't matter if gamers had to wait - it was a hundred dollars cheaper.
      • This also hurt Sega as there were very little games even ready to play as many companies were still pushing for the original street date a few months down the road.
    • The poor advertising handling. While Japan had the amazing Segata Sanshiro, America... had no idea what it was selling.
    • The Troubled Production and later cancellation of Sonic X-Treme lead to the Saturn not having a big Sonic title for the system as they were forced to fall back on a port of Sonic 3 D Blast and Sonic R.
    • Nights into Dreams was suppose to be the Playstation killer that proved the Saturn was the superior console, because the game used both the console's two 32-bit processors to offer true 3D graphics and gameplay. There was even the infamous commercial where they dropped a Playstation out of a window ('Fly Plaything, Fly! You're not ready'). However, the game itself got mostly negative reviews by critics who claimed while the game looked great, it played poorly and was hard to control. What's worst was that the game was successful in Japan, but not in America until after the Saturn died.
    • Bernie Stolar's draconic rules against 3rd Party Companies raged on here, leaving many games, including one that was supposed to have been a launch title, out to languish until the system's end.
      • By the time they brought out the Sega Dreamcast, the damage had been done and, two years later, Sega would give up the ghost.
  • The Spanish Empire hauled so much gold out of South America that the price of gold collapsed in Europe, impoverishing the empire.
  • In the early 70s, the golden rule of jets was that all long-distance flights (two hours or more, both over land and open water) must be flown on an aircraft that has more than two engines. This rule was challenged by Boeing, whose engineers were already working on an ultramodern widebody long-distance jet airliner that not only had only two engines, but also the cockpit crew of two, with advanced electronics performing the job of a flight engineer and a highly economic performance. The introduction of such hi-tech aircraft would essentially guarantee Boeing would curbstomp its rivals, so the company's bosses challenged the FAA to revise its rules and allow twinjets to fly long distances. Such rule, known as ETOPS (Extended Twin-engine Operations) was quickly introduced (first such flights were allowed over land; from mid-80s, also transoceanic flights were included) and so, the work on the new Boeing model commenced swiftly and in 1982, the first 767 was flown. However... years earlier, a newly-established company, trying to take advantage of the air travel boom of the late 60s, designed and launched a short- to medium-range twin-engined widebody jet aircraft, utilizing several techniques pioneered by the Concorde. It was initially a flop - short-distance air travel was popular, but not enough for a 300-person widebody jet to be profitable. The sales were below expectations, and the company was on its way to fold when the introduction of the ETOPS was announced and somebody in the company noticed that their aircraft actually could fly long-range routes. When the ETOPS was introduced, the Boeing engineers, still finishing their marvel, were shocked to find out that there is a long-range twin-engine hi-tech widebody jet airliner already in service - the Airbus A300. Unknowingly, aiming for an absolute domination on the market, Boeing saved his now-biggest rival from bankruptcy and helped it to thrive.
  • Craig Cobb is a white supremacist who hoped to turn his small hometown of Leith, North Dakota into a white supremacist community and drive out a local interracial couple. But when it was revealed that he had 14% sub-Saharan African DNA, his home was vandalized by the very same racists he invited to his town in the first place.
  • When "Greg_ValveOLS" decided it would be funny to pose as an employee of Valve and to fool "br0kenrabbit" into handing over his Steam Account password, br0kenrabbit immediately jacked Greg's account and locked him out... by using the exact same tactic. You can read the legendary conversation in its entirety here.
  • Two from Italy's colonial history:
    • During the war between Ras Mengesha Yohannes of Tigray and king Menelik of Shewa for the Ethiopian imperial throne, the latter received Italian help in modern weapons that allowed him to defeat his enemy and claim the throne, after which he signed an alliance treaty with Italy that granted him some economic help. Upon finding out the internationally-recognized Italian language version of the treaty made Ethiopia an Italian protectorate, emperor Menelik II used that money to buy more modern weapons from France and Italy itself before declaring war, using those very modern weapons to inflict a Curb-Stomp Battle to the Italians and win the war (and a new alliance treaty that was basically the Ethiopian-language version of the old treaty, plus some of Tigray given away to the Italians).
      • The pretest of the war? Italy invading and conquering Tigray, thus prompting Mengasha to finally submit to Menelik and give him effective control on Tigray, at least for some time.
      • Oh, and Mengasha submission to Menelik allowed the latter to strip him of his support base by giving most of Tigray (the part more loyal to Mengesha than to Menelik, of course) to the Italians. After this, the Italians would not dare to pick a fight with Ethiopia until 1930.
    • In 1914 the Senussi started a rebellion against the Italian occupation of Fezzan (south-west region of modern-day Libya). The only reason said rebellion managed to get momentum instead of being stomped out immediately by colonel Miani was bureaucrats denying him necessary supplies and even recalling him in Italy.
      • When the rebellion grew and started threatening the coastal region of Tripolitania (firmly in Italian hands), Miani was sent back to crush them, but, having been saddled with local conscripts, lost at Gasr Bu Hadi when these revolted against the Italians mid-battle. The rebellion could have still being defeated easily by the reinforcements being assembled at Tripoli and Misrata (intended to retake Fezzan) had Miani not grabbed the Idiot Ball and brought with him a large supply convoy with 5,000 reserve rifles, millions of rounds of ammunition, six machine guns, six sections of artillery with abundant ammunition, and even the fund of the column, that were captured by the rebels and gave them the firepower to occupy the whole of Libya aside for a few coastal cities (it would take until 1922 before the Italians were ready to fight back, and resistance would end only in 1932).
  • It's said that the Japanese-cultured-heavy Samurai Sentai Shinkenger was done as a Take That towards Disney for attempting to take over the Super Sentai franchise, as if daring Disney to try to make a Power Rangers series out of that. By that time, Disney had stopped making Power Rangers, Saban Brands had regained control and did so... but Shinkenger ended up being the only series not translated in South Korea exactly because of it - while they do show up in the translations for Kamen Rider Decade and Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, they're treated as teams whose adventures will probably be never told.
  • Lance Armstrong could have stayed retired as one of the greatest sports men of all time, regardless of the many allegations about doping. But then he made a comeback in 2009 and arrogantly rubbed his so-called dominance in his detractors faces. This resulted in a serious 4-year investigation exposing him as the PED cheat many claimed he was for the last decade-plus. He lost all of his titles and his reputation is forever ruined in the eyes of many of his fans and peers.
  • A literal example in the case of the Gunpowder Plot. When the other plotters heard that Guy Fawkes had been arrested, they fled London for the Midlands. While staying at a house in Staffordshire, they tried to dry out gunpowder in front of a fire. The results were predictable, badly injuring several of the conspirators.note 
  • Behold the hilarity of a 419 Scam gone terribly awry... for the scammer. He initially tries to scam a savvy individual and is immediately tricked into giving his intended victim $20 in the exact same way that 419 scammers themselves operate—the scammer is lured by the promise of a potential $500 profit and sends $20 for fees to his victim. The scammer's would-be victim sends the funds to a food bank to feed needy families and reports the 419 scammer to authorities. When the scammer attempts to get his money back by threatening to kill his would-be victim, the unimpressed target effortlessly reveals the scammer's location, right down to the exact name of the establishment he's in. A hilarious Oh Crap response ensues when the scammer thinks that he just ran afoul of a US government agent and gets nothing but a $20 loss and a short but lovely "The Reason You Suck" Speech for his efforts.
  • After being charged with the murder of state senate rival Tommy Burks, Byron "Low Tax" Looper tried to stave off the date of his trial for as long as possible by constantly firing his lawyers, before eventually deciding on a "dream team" of two highly-paid lawyers, one from California and one from Georgia. Before the trial, Looper got three members of his family to provide him an alibi for the time that Burks died, but when his lawyers tried to present them at the trial the judge pointed out that under Tennessee law, any alibis must be registered within a certain amount of time after the initial charge is made. Looper had been so busy firing and replacing his lawyers that the date came and went without anyone noticing, and the two he had with him in court were from out-of-state and so weren't familiar with that requirement. Between that and the prosecutor asking the obvious question of why they hadn't come forward sooner, the alibis were rejected and Looper was eventually convicted.
  • The GAME_JAM fiasco. It was supposed to be a reality show that would show off how indie game developers make games. However, the companies hosting the series was trying to turn it into a realty show series, with ridiculous events and prizes (all presented by Mountain Dew). The developers were already pegging their bullshit-o-meters with the ridiculous contracts, but what destroyed the series was when one man, Matt Lesham, approached a team of developers and asked if their team, which had a girl - one Adriel Wallick - on it, if they had an advantage because they had a pretty girl on their team, then tried to spur a competitive nature on the all-male teams by asking if they had an advantage over a team with a girl on it. Thanks to that, everyone walked off. It cost the companies making it, Polaris and Maker, $450,000 and the ire of Polaris' owner, Disney.
  • Even though the 36th Special Aviation Regiment of the Polish Air Force was considered to be the elite unit, responsible for handling the VIP flights of the country's top military and civilian officials, the members of the Regiment were for years complaining about an inadequate and outdated training, relaxed attitude towards safety procedures and various other shortcomings. Many complaints were sent directly to the Chief Commander of the Air Force, but he kept ignoring them - even after the 2008 crash that highlighted many deficiences in crew training and management. Two years later the very same Chief Commander perished in another crash, where inadequate crew training and safety procedures played a key role.
    • Another shot: the Georgian incident - in 2008 the captain of the presidential jet refused the President's order to change the route in-flight and land at Tbilisi military airport due to his serious concerns about the safety of the landing and his passengers. He was seriously reprimanded for disobeying the President of Poland and as a result, never flown with the President again. On 10 April 2010, the captain of the flight (who was a First Officer during the 2008 incident) was significantly less willing to disobey the President...
  • A router company called Mediabridge tried to sue someone for a libelous negative review posted on Amazon... who promptly proceeded to 86 Mediabridge for TOS violations.
  • This can happen when legislatures try to gerrymander electoral districts. The idea is to concentrate opposition voters in a few districts, so you win most of the districts by a small margin. The problem with this is that if something causes a general shift in favor of the opposition, it doesn't take much to eliminate that margin, resulting in a landslide against your party.
  • Hitler made a lot of mistakes during WWII. One that really came back to bite him was the Holocaust and other policies based on racism. For example, as much as a million of the victims were adult male citizens of Germany and her allies, who could have joined the Wehrmacht and contributed to Hitler's victories. More specifically, Hitler ticked off the people of Ukraine and a number of other Slavic nations who had actually swarmed to him when he effectively rescued them from the Soviets. Instead of utilizing them and their skills, he enacted racial laws and many of those who had supported the Nazi invasion ended up fighting against it. The same happened to the Japanese in the Pacific; at the same time they claimed they were present to liberate the native peoples of the Pacific, they made it clear that they considered themselves far better than the Indonesians, Vietnamese and others, which led to far greater resistance than they would have otherwise faced.
  • Back in 2006, DC Comics unveiled its new logo, the DC Spin, in time for Infinite Crisis. Around that time, they sued shoe manufacturer DC Shoes for copyright infringement as their logo uses the letters "DC" and a star. However, the courts found out that DC Comics never registered the logo and threw the case out. DC Shoes turned around and sued DC Comics for the same thing and won. DC Comics was forced to pay DC Shoes an undisclosed amount for every year they used the logo until they dumped it in 2011 for the DC Flip.

Western AnimationHoist by His Own Petard    

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