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.
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.
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).
Happened also to four ETA members while they were driving a would-be car bomb in 2000. In a twofer example, Otegi's tearful speech at their funeral where he described them as "four Basque patriots" probably was the straw that broke the camel's back and led to the passing of a new law of political parties that illegalized his pro-ETA formation, Batasuna in 2003. As ETA was financed in no small part by Batasuna (who in turn, and as every other party with parliamentary representation, received most of its money from the Spanish government and tax payers themselves), this badly hurt the group's finances and capacity to operate, leading straight to its announced "cessation of armed activity" in 2011.
In 2016, a man apparently attempted to perform a suicide bombing on a jet leaving from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. The resulting explosion blew a hole in the fuselage and sucked the bomber out to his death. Only the bomber. He was the only fatality of the attack.
In a case of this combined with Nice Job Fixing It, Villain, Al-Qaeda actually did this with September 11th. This was because of their earlier (and now mostly forgotten) attack on February 26th, 1993, when terrorists set off a fertilizer bomb in the parking garage of the WTC, intending to collapse the North Tower into the South (Towers 1 and 2, respectively). Fortunately, the truck containing the bomb was not close enough to the building's foundation, and not only failed to collapse, but only 6 people were killed. The evacuation of both of the towers, however, was greatly criticized for being uncoordinated, floor wardens were untrained, and the entire thing took much too long. As a result, the Trade Center's entire evacuation plan was analyzed and revamped, security personnel and floor wardens were retrained, and safety drills became much more common and in-depth. This heightened state of readiness had not fully fallen off eight years later, and when the planes crashed into the towers, the vast majority of people below the impact sites (approximately 90%, according to The Other Wiki) were able to evacuate safely. Without the enhanced security and constantly-practiced new evacuation procedures, far more people would have died.
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).
While Marie did die of radiation poisoning, the leading factor in this was almost certainly her work with X-ray machines during WWI. X-rays are far worse than Gamma rays, and back in the day their were almost no safe guards with X-ray equipment. This makes it a rather sad case of this trope, those X-rays probably saved the lives of thousands of soldiers but killed all the nurses (like Curie) operating them.
Radiologists continued to die of cancer at an obscenely high rate well into the 1950s, when better protection was introduced.
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. One of the contributing factors to their overthrow? The very harshness of their legal system meant that, from a relative standpoint, criminals (or even those merely accused of crimes) had nothing more to lose from launching all-out rebellions to overthrow the system than the state was already trying to deprive them of for their (relatively minor and/or alleged) crimes.
The infamous Pope Alexander VI, a.k.a. Rodrigo Borgia, 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.
And others claim that he died of syphilis instead, which he could have never caught, obviously, if he had been celibate as the job position demanded.
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, not even in history books.
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 was imprisoned and executed by the very system he helped create. The same 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 military 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, his poor grasp of science would often result in shutting down technological breakthroughs that were ahead of their time (since they didn't have obvious immediate applications, they were obviously decadent, capitalist wastes) 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, ahead of the Germans and other allies, which Stalin quickly suppressed or forced the abandonment of when they had even the most minor of drawbacks. A charge of "sabotage" was a popular one to make when the first design of a new technology failed to work. Many sectors of Russian science were similarly brow-beaten backwards and would take decades to catch up.
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.
Koritza was at least the third time it happened to them: during their 1896 invasion of Ethiopia, the rifles and munitions the Ethiopians used to annihilate their expeditionary force had not only been sold to them by the Italians themselves, but they were the latest model (so recent that the expeditionary force didn't have it yet) and they had forced Ethiopia to buy them (the Ethiopians, after discovering they had been scammed into becoming a protectorate, started buying guns from Britain to prepare their counterattack, and the Italians, not realizing why they were buying guns, forced them to buy the weapons from them); the Lybian uprising against Italian colonization managed to push the invaders back to the coast (but not to defeat them) in part thanks to the rifles, machine guns and field guns (plus large amounts of munitions and the money to buy more) captured when the Italians fucked up and were defeated at Gasr bu Hadi in 1915.
A similar case occurred with the US military, with the Bat Bomb, conceived by a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt. The idea was for the bats to be dropped on Japanese industrial hubs around dawn with timed incendiary bombs strapped to them - thus, when they fled for shelter, they'd find their way to the eaves of the targets and get blown up. During initial testing, though, the strength of the winds blew the bats off-target from the mock-up village, instead settling in the eaves of the barracks.
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!"
He accidentally shot himself because his gun was in the waistband of his sweatpants, a style of carrying that only an idiot would do with a style of clothing that only an idiot would wear to a nightclub.
The gun only went off because he was carrying it with a round in the chamber (again, idiot).
Carrying a weapon with a round chambered does not, of itself, make one an idiot. This is quite common practice for folks who routinely carry weapons *legally* (police, carry-license holders, etc.). If the gun fired, it was only because the trigger was manipulated, which means he had his finger on it (so, idiot).
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 Hospitals in New York are required to report gunshot wounds; because the hospital did not do this because Plaxico was famous, and were found out because he was so famous, this makes an example for them too.
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 nigh-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, 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."
Most accounts of Phalaris depict him as a very cruel tyrant (except for an image makeover mostly confined to the 2nd century that upgraded him to Knight Templar), and some say he was the final victim of the bull himself after an uprising. According to this interpretation, the above admonition of disgust was feigned and the real reason he had Perilaus put in the bull was to make sure it was genuinely inescapable, since if anyone could get out of a torture implement, its creator could.
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.
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.
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 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings set an NHL record for wins in a season (62). They absolutely shellacked the Montreal Canadiens 11-1 in a game on Dec 2, 1995 at Montreal Forum. The goalie who let in 9 of those 11 goals on 16 shots? Future Hall of Famer Patrick Roy. Roy was in the middle of a nasty feud with his own head coach Mario Tremblay. Roy was having a bad night, and many (including Roy) believe that Tremblay intentionally kept Roy in goal in order to embarrass him long after it was apparent that he needed to be benched. Roy refused to continue to play for the Canadiens, and was suspended, and traded four days later to the Colorado Avalanche. Who was waiting for the Red Wings in that year's Western Conference Finals? To make matters worse, Roy's strong goaltending in that series is heavily cited as a major reason that the Avalanche defeated the Red Wings in six games, and went on to sweep the Florida Panthers in the Finals to win the Stanley Cup. Further insult to injury, if Roy had not been traded, then the only possible way that the Red Wings would have faced him in the playoffs is if the Canadiens had made it to the Stanley Cup Finals (which, while they were a solid team at the time, was far from a guarantee). Even further insult to injury, the Red Wings were staring down a 41-year Stanley Cup drought that they hoped to end in their record-breaking season. But don't feel too bad for them, they've won four Stanley Cups since then (to include avenging the 1996 playoff heartbreak with the Avalanche), and have remained as perennial playoff contenders.
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. The lawyer in this case, one Jack Kirby, would later have one of Nintendo's biggest characters named after him for the extra layer of irony (taking a choke order and making Nintendo more popular).
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.
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.
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. Anderson presented a basketball cap and fishing knife to the police as evidence of the assault. When witnesses recognized Anderson as the one who bought the items, his scheme completely collapsed.
Similarly, rumor has it that is was a female executioner who flipped the switch on serial killer Ted Bundy, who killed 36 women.
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.
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.
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.
Similarly, Nicolae allowed the hit US TV show Dallas to be aired in his country in the 1980s, believing the show's theme of greed and corruption would disgust his people and let them see the evils of capitalism. Instead, the people loved the show and its main character J.R. Ewing, which made them question why they couldn't have the same nice things they saw people having on Dallas, which started Nicolae's downfall. The show had such a deep effect on the nation that when J.R.'s actor Larry Hagman visited Romania in the 1990s, the people thanked him as their hero who inspired them to overthrow their dictator.
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.
The Chinese philosopher, Han Fei Zi, 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 Zi himself.
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. By the time 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 four years out of its 25+-year-long anti-colonial/civil war, whose direct armed intervention in Cambodia was responsible for putting the Khmer Rouge in power to begin with, and had tons of war material and hardened veterans just lying around.
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 only 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 included 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 ComedyRunning 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 those wrong people (besides the Colombians) included the U.S. Government.note While he could fend them off and maybe raise the cost of combating him so high that the USG might call the hunt off, he could never directly threaten them.
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.
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. Thankfully, the police that were used to solve the clues weren't as dumb and, when they could only solve 19 of the 20, opted to just bulldoze down the house.
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 South's extreme dependency on the cotton and slave trades was another trait that bit them in the ass. The Confederacy was so obsessed with keeping their cotton and slaves that they didn't really bother developing other industries thus hinging their entire economy on two trades, one of which was becoming increasingly frowned upon by the rest of the world. Not only that, but the Confederacy dedicated so much land to growing cotton that they forgot something more immediately important; growing food to actually feed all their citizens and soldiers. Soon they were almost entirely dependent on outside sources for food and supplies. And once the Union hit upon the idea of burning what little resources the South had, they were basically doomed.
Just to add insult to injury, several vital Union victories were brought about by slaves fleeing to the north to get citizenship in exchange for selling the secrets their former masters had stupidly blabbed about in front of the help.
Even without any slaves helping the Union, this trope crippled the Confederacy. Since they realized that slave revolts and uprisings, either of their own accord or fomented by Union operatives, could be a real problem on the home front. So, for every 20 slaves, one man was exempt from conscription to keep the slaves in line. This exemption kept a third of the potential Confederate Army out of service.
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 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 methods 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. note This becomes even funnier when you realize that the Chrysler plant in Toledo that produces their Jeep line used to be owned by American Motors Corporation, whose CEO was George Romney, Mitt's father. 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.
Similarly, during the second presidential debate, Romney accused Obama of not calling the Benghazi terrorist attack an "act of terror" immediately after it happened, in an attempt to discredit him. But Obama calmly said "Please proceed, Governor.", allowing Romney to conclude his accusation, who was summarily fact-checked by debate moderator Candy Crowley, who informed him that Obama did call it an "act of terror".
John McCain, Romney's predecessor as Republican presidential nominee in 2008, is considered by many analysts to have shot his campaign in the foot with his selection of vice president. McCain, a moderate conservative, picked Alaskan governor Sarah Palin, who was much younger, much less experienced, and much further to the right than himself, in hopes of broadening his demographic appeal, but unfortunately for him, he also happened to be the oldest major party nominee in recent memory. As such, many Americans realized this meant there was only one heart attack or stroke between Palin and the White House, and elected Barack Obama instead.
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 all 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%.
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, as UK courts are traditionally quite lenient when it comes to dealing with women pressured into committing crimes by their partners. Instead, she pleaded not guilty via the archaic "marital 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 (in a nutshell, half of the jury at that trial thought she was guilty, while the other half wanted her acquitted on religious grounds, despite neither Pryce nor her lawyers ever claiming that as a defence), 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. Adding insult to injury, all that her attempt to pull the "marital coercion" card achieved was getting it abolished as a legal defence, as it was found to be incompatible with current equality and human rights laws.
And the story didn't end there. Constance Briscoe, a neighbour of Vicky Pryce, and a pioneering black British female barrister, had played a major role in helping Pryce get the story out in the first place, in part because she saw Huhne's ruin as a proxy revenge on her own ex-partner. During Huhne and Pryce's trial, police noticed how Briscoe's account of her involvement didn't tally with what she had earlier told them, not to mention things she had said to newspapers. This resulted in her being arrested herself, and charged with perverting the course of justice in Huhne and Pryce's trial for perverting the course of justice. She was convicted, expelled from the legal profession, and received a sentence that was twice as long as Huhne's.
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 planes that were forced to ditch guns entirely for heat-seeking AAMs), 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.
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 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. He asked the police if they could trace a floppy disk to a specific person, the police said that they couldn't, and he believed them. Of course, the police could and did trace it. BTK was outraged that a police officer lied to him like that.
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. Things were already bad concerning the Sega CD as SoJ refused to do anything with it for SoA until the thing was released. Later on, SoA released the Sega 32X despite the fact that the Saturn was around the corner (the way of thinking was that the 32X would be a cheaper alternative for the Saturn) only to decide to abruptly cancel support for it, angering fans.
During E3 '95, Sega attempted to beat 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.
Making it worse, 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. It also caught retailers off-guard, they were also expecting the console to launch months later, and in their haste to get some into the market, Sega neglected to give any to some of their biggest retail partners like Walmart or KB Toys, the latter of which retaliated by dropping all Sega products from their inventory.
The poor advertising handling. While Japan had the amazing Segata Sanshiro, America... had no idea what it was selling.
NiGHTS into Dreams... was supposed 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 draconian rules against third-party companies and non-3D games raged on here, leaving many games, including one that was supposed to have been a launch title (and, for that matter, just about anything that would be worth playing on the system), 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.
Speaking of the PlayStation, it was originally a joint effort between Nintendo and Sony to make a CD add-on for the SNES. The story goes that Nintendo re-examined their contract and decided it wasn't such a great deal for themnote in particular, there was a clause giving Sony access to characters and the like from Nintendo's games, ostensibly to make games for the CD addon with them but apparently giving them leeway to use Nintendo characters on other consoles and made a new deal with Sony's competitor, Philips. Sony then decided to try a partnership with Sega of America to release their console, which seemed to be going much better up until they went to Sega of Japan with the details - who immediately nixed the deal just to dick over Sega of America. Unimpressed, Sony decided to press on and make the console themselves with what they learned, starting a line that has been cutting into Nintendo's revenue ever since and has been credited in part for Sega's withdrawal from making consoles by killing the Dreamcast just with the hype its second iteration generated.
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 was 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 thrivenote This example is even better when one considers Airbus was created as a consortium of European aviation companies in order to compete with US ones such as Boeing.
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 decisively defeat 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 pretext 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.
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 Gunpowder does not ignite without a spark, but in this case a spark from the fire set it off.
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 were 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 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, 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 deficiencies 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 flew 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.
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.
Jerry Sandusky demanded that his adopted son Matthew attend his child molestation trial in a show of solidarity with the family. Only to have hearing the victims testimony trigger Matthew's repressed memories of the abuse HE had suffered at Sandusky' s hands and their bravery in coming forward give him the strength to break from Sandusky's manipulative hold over him. Whereas he had once been prepared to testify as a character witness on Sandusky' s behalf (and basically perjury himself as he had before the grand jury, where he claimed that Sandusky had not abused him), he was now willing to testify that he'd been a victim as well. Not that Sandusky's goose wasn't already cooked—the testimony of the other victims was far too similar and compelling to leave room for doubt—but Matthew's plan to refute Sandusky's claims of innocence effectively derailed whatever defense had been planned and sealed his fate.
Additionally, Aaron Fisher, the first victim to come forward, admits that he might have never spoken up had Sandusky not begun stalking him in an attempt to either force him to continue the "relationship" (Fisher had finally become fed up with the abuse and begun avoiding him) or to intimidate him into keeping his mouth shut. As well, the boy's mother might not have wised up had she not become alarmed by Sandusky' s behavior.
In 1971; Richard Nixon ordered tape recorders installed in the White House for the purpose of future historians being able to accurately document Nixon's Presidency. Two years later, White House aide Alexander Butterfield revealed the recorder's existence during the Ervin Committee hearings investigating Watergate; leading to Nixon attempting to prevent the tapes from being released. Needless to say, the history that was made helped force Nixon's resignation.
Relatedly, the infamous Saturday Night Massacre in October 1973. The initial Watergate prosecutor, Archibald Cox, demanded to listen to said tapes. Nixon offered Cox the "compromise" of having a notoriously deaf senator listen to the tapes and write transcripts which would be publicly released, a notion which Cox immediately rejected. Angered by this, Nixon demanded that his Attorney General Elliot Richardson remove Cox from the case, and forced Richardson and his deputy to resign when they refused to do so, before managing to get Richardson's third-in-command, Robert Bork, to fire Cox. This came back to bite Nixon in two different ways; firstly it made it even more blatantly obvious that Nixon was trying to hide something, and secondly Bork, instead of replacing Cox with a Nixon sycophant, had the case taken over by Leon Jaworski, a political neutral who had supported Nixon in his elections, but also had close ties with Lyndon Johnson and several other Democrats. Jaworski carried on where Cox left off, and eventually saw the case through to its conclusion and Nixon's resignation.
Similarly, there are a number of conservative-backed laws in the US that attempt to diminish the "separation of Church and State" (which can be a decidedly murky concept in its execution) by permitting all religions to display religious icons on State grounds or disseminate religious articles in schools. The idea is that Protestant Christianity, being the dominant religion in the US, will gain a stronger foothold - in Florida, this has led to the Satanic Temple to both disseminate their own coloring books on school property, as well as sue for the right to put up a Christmas display on Capitol grounds, as other religious groups are permitted to do.
General José Sanjurjo, leader of the 1936 coup that would devolve into the Spanish Civil War, died in a plane crash three days in, while trying to take off from his exile in Estoril, Portugal and fly to Burgos. The tiny DeHavilland Puss Moth, which Sanjurjo had chosen to fly in rather than wait for a bigger DeHavilland Dragon Rapide that had just arrived in Lisbon, crashed shortly after taking off because of the excessive weight of Sanjurjo's large trunk, that contained the uniforms and medals that he intended to wear during his victorious entry in Madrid. The cherry on top of the cake? The aistrip was at Boca do Inferno ("Hell's Mouth" in Portuguese), and the plane went up in flames, but only Sanjurjo died. The pilot escaped with only minor burns.
In WWII during the fire bombings of pretty much all of Japan's major cities, it wasn't too uncommon for the fire bombs (which were incredibly small) to somehow get sucked up and strike the bombers releasing them. Since the B-29 bomber was heavily armored, this usually wasn't a problem. There are however a few horror stories about them cracking open the cockpit.
Many pre-Prohibition Era gangsters and crime families were undone by the very codes of honor that they proudly touted for generations. When the things that went against the boss's morals (drugs, bootlegging, etc.) started to become popular commodities in the underworld, what was once a point of pride became a drain on profits. A drain that less scrupulousunderlings were more than willing to exploit in order to stage a coup and take over the business for themselves.
At some point prior to August 2014, the Broadway Hotel in the UK beach town of Blackpool adopted a policy that anyone who gave a negative review of the hotel on TripAdvisor or any other major website would be fined £100 for damaging the hotel's reputation. A couple were understandably angry that said fine was immediately charged to their credit card, and went to the press; the story quickly made the national news and did far more damage to the hotel's reputation than any online review could ever hope to achieve.
While in prison in 1835, French thief Victor Avril made a deal with police, telling them that his one time accomplice Pierre Lacenaire was the author of an unrelated, unsolved double murder during a botched robbery. To Avril's probable horror, Lacenaire never denied his involvement and instead made a more detailed confession that implicated both himself and Avril (Avril held the first victim while Lacenaire stabbed him, then Avril finished him with a hatchet). This resulted in both men being executed.
Adolf 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. Even worse: all the soldiers and high military officials who guarded the camps and exterminated the prisoners could have been used to defend the front against the Allied invasions! More specifically, Hitler ticked off the people of Ukraine and a number of other Slavic nations who had initially 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.
Nazi Germany was a veritable poster boy of this trope. Just a few Nazi blunders include:
The exiles/emigrations of Jewish-German scientists. Less than 3 months after taking power in 1933, the Nazis enacted the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, which placed adherence to Nazi ideology and "racial purity" above academic standards in the country's educational system. 14% of Germany's academics were forced out of their posts, and up to 50% of their nuclear physicists left the country. When Max Planck warned Hitler that forcing Jewish scientists to leave the country would cripple Germany's scientific endeavors, Hitler only responded with an anti-Semetic rant insisting that Germany would be made stronger as a result. Contrary to Hitler's claims, a number of these scientists would go on to help the United States to build the Atomic Bomb, including Enrico Ferminote (who was not Jewish himself, but left Fascist Italy in 1938 because the newly enforced Italian Racial Laws would have affected his Jewish wife), James Franck, Maria Goeppert-Mayer, John von Neumann, Edward Teller, Victor Weisskopf, and Eugene Wigner.
Operation Barbarossa. The largest invasion in human history, this operation featured four million Axis soldiers attempting to conquer the Soviet Union. It was also, not coincidentally, the operation with the greatest casualties in human history. Just like Napoleon, Hitler found out the hard way that Russia is very large, and it gets very, very cold. Before this operation began, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union had a non-aggression pact, and the Third Reich's only opposing power in Europe was Britain. After launching this unprovoked surprise attack, however, Germany was suddenly fighting a two-front war against powers with greater numbers of soldiers and natural resources.
Declaring war against the United States. On December 7, 1941, Germany was already engaged in a two-front war against Britain and the Soviet Union when Japan launched a surprise attack against the United States. The United States subsequently declared war against Japan. Germany was allied with Axis powers Japan and Italy through the Tripartite Pact, which specified that the signatories were obliged to come to the defense of the others if attacked. Since Japan had attacked the United States, Germany was under no obligation to declare war against the United States. Nevertheless, that is precisely what Hitler did. This put Nazi Germany in the unenviable position of simultaneously being at war against three major powers.
In a rather more humorous example, it's been discovered that Germany lost the war partly because Hitler liked to play pranks on people. In 1937 (during the Spanish Civil War), he and Goebbels had decided to play a friendly trick on Ernst Hanfstaengl, a high-ranking Nazi, in order to get back at him for rude comments he'd made about German soldiers. This involved tricking Ernst into thinking he would be parachuted into Republican-controlled territory to serve as a spy for General Franco's Nationalists – effectively a suicide mission. Unfortunately for Hitler, when Ernst was given the orders for the fake mission he understandably freaked out and fled for his life, escaping to Switzerland and eventually providing important information on the Nazi leadership (including insights on the psychology of Hitler himself) to the Allies during World War II.
Reinhard Heydrich, Himmler's right hand man, was known as "Hitler's hangman" and "the Butcher of Prague". He was so confident that he had quelled the Czech resistance movement that he was known for driving around Prague without an armed guard. Cue a pair of Czechoslovak assassins who proceeded to ambush him on the road and demonstrate exactly why this was a bad idea (reportedly, even Hitler privately cursed Heydrich as being Too Dumb to Live). For extra petard-hoisting points, Heydrich could have easily survived if he had escaped when the first assassin's gun jammed. But rather than driving off, Heydrich opted to stop the car and get out to fight back, only to find that his own gun wasn't loaded. This gave the second assassin the opportunity to chuck a bomb at his car, severely injuring Heydrich. And after all this, what was it that actually killed him? A severe septic infection, introduced into his bloodstream by the horsehair seat cushions of his own car.
Not to be outdone, the Japanese were almost as bad at this trope as their Nazi allies. For example:
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a huge mistake. It essentially brought the United States into the war against all of the axis powers for negligible gain. While the results seemed to be devastating, the battleships they destroyed were all obsolete "Dreadnought" type designs. None of the United States's more advanced "fast battleships" were even present at the attack, much less the more important aircraft carriers. speaking of which...
The Japanese military as a whole utterly failed the comprehend the role of aircraft carriers in naval combat, despite being the first nation to demonstrate the power of aircraft in naval war. While japan did boast an exceptional carrier force, it never received the attention that Japan's battleships did. For example they decided to build super battleships instead of super carriers and modernized battleships far more frequently than they did aircraft carriers. This proved fatal at midway when a lack of recommended aerial detection radar and survivability upgrades cost Japan 60% of its large carriers in a single battle.
The Japanese navy had next to no provisions to preserve the lives of its crewmen and airmen. This tactic allowed them to build more combat efficient warships and planes without the need to fuss over things like parachutes or life rafts. This thinking gave them an early edge during the pacific war... then turned out to be very very crippling later on. While Japan had no shortage of lives to throw at the war, it had a very severe shortage of capability to properly "train" those lives. Once losses started adding up they could never bring the force back to its full strength.
Music example: In a way, the efforts of "faceless" music acts in The '70s such as Pink Floyd or Supertramp were effective in subverting the celebrity aspect in groups in favor of a group identity, and was good at allowing band members their privacy and anonymity. By the same token, as such bands split up or various members took on solo careers, the unrecognizability of the band members' names and faces had meant it was difficult for all but the very attentive fans of a group to place a face with a name, or associate a band member's name with the group they played in/wrote and sang for and carry their audiences (and any new fans) along with them, leading to slow sales for solo albums and/or low concert ticket sales for solo shows. This was much of the catalyst behind, for example guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour reactivating Pink Floyd in 1986 after his 1984 About Face album and promotional tour couldn't fully establish him as a solo star under his own name.
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was indicted for illegally withdrawing funds in intentionally small enough amounts to not require the bank to put an alert to the Feds in order to pay off a blackmailer threatening to expose accusations of sexual abuse when he acted as a teacher and high school football coach. Some of the provisions used to catch Hastert were established by the controversial PATRIOT Act, which Hastert himself oversaw passing into law when he was House Speaker.
During a Premier League match against Chelsea in January 2016, Ramiro Funes Mori scored in the 90th minute to put Everton 3-2 ahead, and promptly leapt into the crowd to celebrate. As well as earning him a yellow card for excessive celebration, this caused a delay that prompted the referee to extend the already-announced seven minutes of added time. Chelsea then proceeded to equalize in the 98th minute of the match with a goal that was clearly offside, robbing Everton of two points that they surely would have earned had Funes Mori not celebrated so enthusiastically.
Caligula was undone by his own bloodlust and cruelty. Specifically, he refused to curb his urges when it came to his Praetorian Guard, abusing and insulting them constantly before ultimately raping their wives. With that the Guard got fed up with him and murdered him and his whole family. For added irony, he was killed through a Death By A Thousand Cuts, his own favorite method of executing people.
Anita Bryant used her reputation as a singer to spearhead an anti-gay group called, "Save Our Children." While she did manage to repeal pro-gay legislation, the costs were a little high: she lost her Florida Orange juice contract due to the boycott it sponsored, she lost many of her fans, not even Ronald Reagan endorsed her, and her movement eventually fizzled out. But what killed her career was divorcing her husband, a big no-no in conservative Americans, which drove many support groups away from her.
Six Flags New Orleans was at the wrong place at the wrong time. The amusement park was situated in eastern New Orleans, away from the more profitable tourist attractions and in a spot where there was more poverty and crime, thus making it one of the least profitable of Six Flags' troupe. It's location was also low lying, thus when Hurricane Katrina blew in, the broken levies allowed the water to rush into the park, flooding it with fresh and seawater, ravaging the entire park save for one ride. The park was a complete loss and, ten years later, no one has bothered to pick up the pieces.
Many terrorist groups have been beaten into extinction or otherwise shells of their former selves because they chose to engage in terrorism. In theory, terrorist commit these atrocities to shock their enemies into giving up. In reality the cruelty of these attacks tends to renew their enemies drive to exterminate them and turns public opinion away from their cause.
This seems to be happening to OPEC right now. Up until the 2010s, OPEC was the leading producer of oil in the world and, in the mid naughts, sent prices skyrocketing to $3-4 USD a gallon on average. However, things changed when the US kicked up the "shale revolution", which allowed the US to produce oil at a greater rate and bring prices down, tapping $2 at its highest. To attempt to browbeat this revolution into submission, OPEC decided to not cut back production of its oil in order to force the US to stop producing its oil and flood the world with too much oil, in essence, trying to play a game of "chicken". So far, the only thing this is doing is harming its own weaker members as they can't weather such low oil prices and the countries that benefit from shaleing won't and don't need to back down.
In June 1985, an Air India 747 was blown up over the Atlantic by a bomb hidden in a radio in one of the bags; one of safety recommendations made afterwards was that no bag was allowed onboard an airliner without its owner also being onboard (the bag that blew up the Air India jet was checked in in Canada, but its owner never boarded the flight); after a short time, Pan Am decided to relax the security procedures to save on time. As a result, in December 1988 a time bomb hidden in a stereo was loaded onto an aircraft without its owner being accounted for and hours later exploded over Lockerbie. The resulting lawsuits were the final nails in the already struggling Pan Am's coffin and in December 1991, it was bye-bye to the once-famous airline.
Nancy Lanza, mother of the perpetrator of the Sandy Hook massacre Adam Lanza, was a gun enthusiast who collected firearms. Adam killed Nancy with one of her own guns, making her his first victim.
On Penn & Teller: Fool Us where the premise is good magicians of all varieties attempt to fool the Old Masters with their tricks, and winning nets the magician some time on Penn and Teller's live show in Vegas. In episode 11 of season 2, a mentalist named Paul Vigil preforms an astounding version of guessing what numbers three random people, Penn, a guy in the audience, and Teller will pick and have the guess-card pinned to the back of his coat, where he couldn't reach it. He finishes with Penn being the one to take the card off and reading it to show no tricks. Penn and Teller are amazed and impressed, and only know how this trick ended up being done because they read Paul Vigil's books on magic tricks.
Vester Flanagan II wanted his shooting deaths of WDBJ reporters Alison Parker and Adam Ward to be seen on live television. However, by doing so, his killing of Adam, the cameraman, ended up leading to the camera revealing enough of his body during his fall that both the shocked colleagues and the rest of the Internet could see who did it and allowed WDBJ to tell police who the culprit just might be (as they recognized the face).
Tim Langdell was a notorious Patent Troll who often sue game companies for games that had the name "Edge" in them due to owning the trademark of the name "Edge". Not making things better was his bad behavior where he demanded game companies either pay up royalties for using the name "Edge" or have them claim their games were inspired by his old games and a Consummate Liar like claiming the gaming magazine Edge was his creation and making fake evidence to support his claims the game companies he sued were copying his old games. His tactics finally backfired when he tried to sue the makers of Mirror's Edge, Electronic Arts. Unlike the other game companies that Tim sued who gave in to him, Electronic Arts didn't and fought back with a Counter-sue and demanded his trademark for "Edge" to be revoked. Tim not only lose the case, his trademark for "Edge" revoked, thus ending his Patent Troll days but he also lose his membership in the International Game Developers Association no thanks to the bad publicity he was getting.
In 2012, Gawker Media obtained and posted a clip from a sex tape that featured one Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan. Because of the publicity it gained, it hurt Terry badly emotionally and financially as it caused WWE to essentially scrub him from their records over things said in the tape. When sued over this and demanded that they take the clip down, Gawker refused to do so, citing Freedom of Press, claiming that the video was newsworthy and thus they had a right to have it up for those to see. However, instead of proving that the tape was "newsworthy", Gawker acted pretty much flippant over it, as if they were expecting the First Amendment to protect them in the end. In the end, it didn't - the jury sided with Terry and awarded him $115 million in damages, which turned out to be $30 million more than Gawker is worth. Despite trying to get a new trial started, Gawker ultimately filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with Ziff-Davis seeking to buy their assets but not their debt. An even more telling outcome of this is the fact that this could also change how media handles such works and the privacy of others, especially with the likes of sex tapes and the like.
A Batman Gambit gone wrong helped Barry Goldwater secure the Republican nomination in 1964. Pennsylvania Senator William Scranton decided to mount a last-ditch establishment bid when it looked like his conservative Arizona colleague would win the nomination and lead it to a rout at Lyndon Johnson's hands in the November general election. His plan was to persuade delegates at the convention in San Francisco to change their votes to him, based on polls he had had done that showed lots of Republicans prepared to vote for Johnson if Goldwater was the Republican nominee. So ... henote or possibly an overzealous staffer wrote a confrontational open letter to Goldwater about his positions and temperament, and had it printed up and placed on every delegate's chair. His hope was that Goldwater would respond to it in such a way that would prove Scranton's point and make the delegates nervous enough to support him instead. But not only did not that work, it may even have cost Scranton much of the little support he already had, and Goldwater went on to indeed get creamed in November.
Late in the 2016 Republican primaries for the party's US presidential nomination, Texas senator Ted Cruz was trying to best Donald Trump, a political outsider who was the surprise frontrunner. After Trump won a huge majority in his home state of New York, and then all the so-called Acela primaries elsewhere in the Northeast, by outright majorities, Cruz realized he could no longer catch Trump in the pledged-delegate count and would have to keep it close in the hope that he could deny Trump enough delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot, then pick up the ones who would be released from their obligation to vote for Trump on the second ballot and instead vote for Cruz. So ... he announced that he and John Kasich, the distant third-place candidate, had made a nonaggression pact of sorts in which they divided up the remaining primaries in the hope of denying Trump delegates. But that deal was exactly the sort of back-room politics that Trump had been winning voters running against, and many of them who might not otherwise have voted for Trump did so as a protest. Trump triumphed in the Indiana primaries by another majority, and Cruz quit the race.
And then when conservatives who never supported Trump cast about for a possible third candidate to support, they were stymied in getting one on the ballot in all 50 states because the deadline for getting a third-party candidate on the ballot in Texas was the week after the Indiana primary. This was part of a "sore-loser law" in that state passed by Republicans themselves to make it harder for the Libertarian Party to run viable candidates.
For years in the late 20th century, American conservatives had been sowing fear, particularly among Generation X, that Social Security would run out of money before they were able to retire and collect, in order to build support for privatizing the program or at least significantly reforming it. When George W. Bush got reelected as president in 2004, they figured the moment had finally arrived and began talking about reform, including so-called "personal accounts". But their doom-and-gloom propaganda had worked too well ... the voters they had targeted it at in their 30s and 40s either had taken steps on their own to provide for retirement, or thought the program was beyond saving, so they didn't care too much.
In 1970, Earl Brydges, majority leader of the New York State Senatenote and thus one of the three most powerful politicians in the state wanted to head off attempts to legalize abortion in the state. Some were before the legislature, but he decided to supersede them all by writing his own bill, even more liberal than any introduced by more liberal legislators, with the idea that it would be too liberal to pass and thus he could put off the reformers by pointing to the failed bill. However, it passed, and after a tense moment when an upstate assemblyman changed his vote after they had been counted, allowing the governor's veto to be overriden, New York became the first U.S. state to legalize abortion, three years before Roe v. Wade.
The 1988 sex scandal involving Jimmy Swaggart traced its beginnings two years earlier when the Baton Rouge-based televangelist accused another Louisiana minister ordained in the Assemblies of God denomination; Metarie-basednote just outside of New Orleans Marvin Gorman, of having numerous affairs with women he was counseling; resulting in the Assemblies stripping Gorman of his ministerial credentials after Gorman admitted to one illicit sexual encounter. At some point in late 1986 or early 1987; Gorman had learned of rumors that Swaggart (who in addition to the run-in with Gorman had also blasted PTL founder Jim Bakker on his sexual and financial dealings) was frequenting prostitutes. After photos were taken of Swaggart in the hotel room of one prostitute by Gorman's relatives; Gorman attempted to blackmail Swaggart by threatening to release the pictures unless Swaggart apologized publicly and worked on getting him reinstated in their denomination. Finally, in February 1988 Gorman decided he wasn't waiting any longer, calling the denominational officials and showing the pictures; setting the stage for the events that climaxed in Swaggart's now-famous "I have sinned" speech.