->''"If I had a penny for every time someone said making a Marvel movie with a talking raccoon was dumb and that ''Guardians'' was going to bomb, I'd probably have just about the amount of money ''Guardians'' has made so far."''
-->-- '''Creator/JamesGunn''' on the expectations for ''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy''

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

Subtrope of SleeperHit; in this case, the work must be actively derided before release, not just ignored. Compare ItWillNeverCatchOn. See also MagnumOpusDissonance when it's the creator who doesn't expect the work to succeed. It can also be combined with HypeBacklash and HollywoodHypeMachine, if the contrast between expectations and popularity is too great, and some of the audience turns to the initial fears as still meaningful.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Masayuki Ozaki, the executive producer of ''Anime/TigerAndBunny'', stated that just about ''no one'' expected the series to be successful (namely because of the belief that nobody would want to watch a {{superhero}} anime with a middle-aged single father as its primary protagonist), much less become the instant CashCowFranchise it is now.
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' was basically a last ditch attempt by Creator/StudioGainax to stay afloat, and was not expected to turn out extremely well. An UrbanLegend even claims that investors were hoping for a SpringtimeForHitler situation.
* Before the English release of ''VisualNovel/{{Shuffle}}'', anime based on {{eroge}} with the porn [[BleachedUnderpants removed from the adaptation]] were not commonly licensed, with rumours flying around that MoralGuardians would throw a fit if they ended up on store shelves. When Creator/{{FUNimation}} licensed the series, nearly every blog and forum was raising its collective eyebrows and wondering why the distributor obviously hated making money. The first volume of ''SHUFFLE!'' came out and sold ''tons'' of copies, and [=FUNi=] decided to give the final volume a special edition art box release (which had been common a few years earlier, but in the wake of Creator/{{Geneon}}'s fall, not so much) if the second volume sold as well. It did. Now you can't walk into a video store without tripping over eroge adaptations, whether or not they actually have a plot.
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'' was the very definition of TroubledProduction thanks to this trope. Director/co-creator Goro Taniguchi asked for a 50-episode series, but [[Creator/BandaiNamcoEntertainment Bandai Namco]] only gave him 25, for reasons that remain unclear[[note]]Some say they felt Taniguchi was "untested", others say it's because he's a perfectionist and somewhat hard to work with -- or because previous works of his like ''Manga/{{Planetes}}'' and ''Anime/GunXSword'' had not done too well in the Japanese market[[/note]]. Even then, the staff had limited resources and had to piggy-back off of other Bandai shows in production at the time. When the show took off and became the Next Big Thing, Bandai was quick to embrace it, though unlike Creator/YoshiyukiTomino and ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'', Taniguchi and fellow co-creator Ichiro Okouchi were smart enough to hold onto the rights.
* The first ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'' manuscript was sent to Shueisha to publish in Weekly Shonen Jump, who said it was good, but not good enough for Jump, and rejected it. The author then sent it to rival Kodansha, who published it in their monthly Bessatsu Shounen Magazine. Considering what trope page this is, it goes without saying it became a SleeperHit, growing in popularity to surpass famous long-runners like ''Franchise/{{Bleach}}''.
* Ask any voice actor of any anime that was successful in the US. None of them expected the shows they were working on to be anything more than weird little projects with quick paychecks. This goes all the way back to ''Anime/SpeedRacer'', later ''Anime/{{Robotech}}'', and continued with ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'', ''Anime/TenchiMuyo'', ''Manga/SailorMoon'', ''Anime/DragonBallZ'', ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'', ''Anime/CowboyBebop'', and others. The ''Pokemon'' voice actors didn't expect to work more than 26 episodes, let alone hundreds, for their show to be parodied on ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' and ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', and continue to have a lasting fanbase twenty years later.
* ''Anime/YuriOnIce'': Before its first episode was released, there was not much hype for the anime, especially since there were other two anime adaptations (which also have a CastFullOfPrettyBoys) airing on the same season. The anime not only outdid the other two, it also became an internet juggernaut, constantly trending on Twitter and Tumblr (in the latter network, the anime has steadily kept first place on the trending tags every Wednesday and Thursday, even on the day of the 2016 US Elections, ''and'' [[DemandOverload crashed Tumblr when the final episode came out]]). The anime even attracted the attention of professional ice skaters, and has a large LGBTFanbase, besides the average sports anime fan. The fact that it went to groundbreaking lengths by [[spoiler:making the two male leads an OfficialCouple, portraying a healthy normalized same-sex interracial couple]], besides the diversity of nationality and race of the rest of the cast, a first in mainstream and sports anime, helped the show go neck-to-neck with other extremely popular series like ''Manga/OnePunchMan'' and ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'' and surpass all other sports anime that aired in 2016.
* While he never outright stated it would fail, Eiichiro Oda never dreamed that ''Manga/OnePiece'' would [[CashCowFranchise become the smash hit]] it did, planning on ending the series after five years. [[LongRunner As of now]], he was off by thirteen.
* Prior to it's release, people unfamiliar with ''Manga/MissKobayashisDragonMaid'' were angry at [=KyoAni=] because they were under the impression that it was generic fanservice and moe. Those who had read the manga merely laughed as everyone else quickly changed their tune when it came out.
* ''LightNovel/TheIrregularAtMagicHighSchool'' was this for its Dengeki Bungo publishing house. While this novel was quite popular on the Internet, none of the publishers wanted to license it, since the settings for InvincibleHero with his ideal BigBrotherWorship sister, which are a step away from BrotherSisterIncest, would obviously have very poor sales. Even the editor who gave him green light, said that this work "completely contradicts all those rules, which must correspond to a good light novel." Nevertheless, he decided to take a risk, and in the end this novel became the second title for the popularity and sales of volumes in the publishing house.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* IDW's ''ComicBook/JemAndTheHolograms'' is an unusual concept. It takes a [[WesternAnimation/{{Jem}} thirty years dead series]] and modernizes it. That in itself is risky however prior to release people were bickering about everything from [[YouDontLookLikeYou the designs]] to [[AdaptationalSexuality Kimber being lesbian]]. It's also an extremely feminine comic and those tend to [[GirlShowGhetto be niche]]. The series became a hit.
* Franchise/ArchieComics has a specific reputation of being squeaky clean and cutesy, though it's not too true. So when there was news there was gonna be an Archie's comic set in a ZombieApocalypse people laughed. Archie fans were skeptical about the DarkerAndEdgier take and others thought it was [[FollowTheLeader just another zombie story]] riding off ''Series/TheWalkingDead'''s back. The first issue sold out twice in a row and is recognized as one of the best horror comics of the early 2010s. There are talks of a LiveActionAdaptation and the series made Archie experiment with other series like ''ComicBook/ArchieVsPredator'' and ''ComicBook/ChillingAdventuresOfSabrina''.
* ''Comicbook/MsMarvel2014'' had a lot of factors working against it. AffirmativeActionLegacy characters tend to be very divisive as a general rule, and while some catch on, many end up being [[LegacyImplosion done away with so the original can return]]. The creative team wasn't exactly A-list. While a fan favorite, the previous Comicbook/MsMarvel had something of a spotty sales history. [[GirlShowGhetto Many books starring female heroes still have a tough time finding an audience]], as do books starring [[MinorityShowGhetto minority leads]] (the new Ms. Marvel is [[TwoferTokenMinority both]]). Despite this, the book became a sales success, and Ms. Marvel has become one of Marvel's most successful new characters in years, to the point that she is often marketed alongside Marvel's flagship characters who feature in the MCU, even though she has no such counterpart yet. Even the author, G. Willow Wilson, said she thought the book would only make it to 7 issues before being cancelled.
* If you would believe it, Franchise/SpiderMan of all things got this treatment. At the time Stan Lee went to publish it, teens were usually portrayed as sidekicks (i.e. Robin, Bucky) and weren't seen as solo heroes. An exec even commented on the concept because people have arachnophobia and would be turned off by the character. Marvel even put Spidey's debut story in a title that was about to have its last issue. However, Spider-Man beat the odds and became Marvel's flagship hero as well as one of the most well known superheroes of all time next to the likes of Batman and Superman (even teamed up with both of them at one point).
* In the 15th anniversary edition of ''ComicBook/ArkhamAsylumASeriousHouseOnSeriousEarth'', writer Creator/GrantMorrison notes that most of the people who looked at an earlier script thought his attempt at symbolism and psychological horror would fail. His response 15 years later was [[WhosLaughingNow "Who's laughing now, asshole?"]]

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* Creator/{{Herge}} started with ''ComicBook/{{Tintin}}'' in 1929, at a time when Europe had no tradition in creating comic strips with text balloons. The comic strip was some filler material in ''Le Petit Vingtième'', the youth section of newspaper ''Le Vingtième''. After he had finished the first story the redaction proposed a publicity stunt in which an actor playing Tintin would arrive on the Brussels station, just like Tintin did at the end of ''Tintin in the Land of the Soviets''. Hergé agreed, though he was sure that nobody would be around to witness it. To his surprise the place was full with people! In an interview he said: "From that moment on, I realized ''Tintin'' was on its way up!" And it did. By the end of Hergé's life ''Tintin'' had become and still is the most succesful European comic strip in the world, about as widespread and popular as any of the Creator/WaltDisney comic strips!

* Creator/WaltDisney is the all-time master of this trope.
** Nobody but Walt expected ''WesternAnimation/SteamboatWillie'', a cartoon with synchronized sound, to get any attention.
** Nobody but Walt expected ''WesternAnimation/FlowersAndTrees'', a cartoon in full color, to get people flocking to it. The short film was originally black & white; Walt had it completely redone despite the financial risk involved.
** Animation was considered a medium inferior to live action and destined to remain seven-minute-long curtain raisers to feature films... until ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'', which was labeled "Disney's Folly" by film industry insiders but at its premiere proved an amazing picture, and the worldwide highest-grossing sound film until ''Film/GoneWithTheWind''. Since then it has become the subject of much strife for being the comparison point for all other animated features (Walt himself fell victim to that).
** After the box-office wipeout of ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}'' and the further financial strains of UsefulNotes/WorldWarII on his studio, returning to full-length animation was a gamble; on the other hand, branching out into non-cartoon movies and even ''documentaries'' (!) was (in the eyes of critics in the late 40s) absolutely impossible for Walt. ''Disney/{{Cinderella}}'', ''Film/{{Treasure Island|1950}}'' and ''The Living Desert'' (1953) proved the naysayers wrong, again.
** ''Film/TheShaggyDog'', Disney's first attempt at making live-action comedies, was not considered a good idea, but this film, ''Film/TheAbsentMindedProfessor'' and others of its kind cleared the Disney Studio of financial debt by 1961.
** It wasn't until the unconditional faith in ''Film/MaryPoppins'' that it was acknowledged how Walt could do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Hiccups and all, his empire still stands.
** In a case that extended to within Disney, two projects started concurrently, ''Disney/{{Pocahontas}}'' and ''King of the Jungle'', something about lions in Africa. Most of the animators picked the former feeling it would be the high-profile movie, leading the latter to have only newcomers or people with an interest in animating animals. Even the writing staff felt insecure about the project during non-stop rewrites. The resulting film, ''Disney/TheLionKing'', is the highest-grossing traditional animation ever and widely regarded as a high point of the Disney Renaissance.
** In 2002, Disney, specifically CEO Michael Eisner, found itself doubting {{Creator/Pixar}} could keep the big hits coming in 2002 with ''WesternAnimation/FindingNemo''. When that became Pixar's biggest hit yet, Eisner found himself in an impossible position trying to renew Disney's contract with the studio with Creator/SteveJobs, who personally loathed Eisner, in a position to demand all but a blank check lest Pixar go with any of Disney's competitors eager to hookup with it.
** Eisner himself had two notable cases: once the budget to ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'' ballooned out of proportion, he tried to close production, but Jeffrey Katzenberg talked him out of it (two examples below show director Robert Zemeckis is a lightning rod for this trope); then in 2002 he considered doing the same with...
** ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanTheCurseOfTheBlackPearl'' was expected to be a flop by many entertainment writers. The film was conceived by Disney as [[RuleOfThree the second of three Disney park ride adaptations]], along with ''Film/TheCountryBears'' and ''Film/TheHauntedMansion'', at the time considered a bizarre concept to base a film upon. The pirate subgenre had also seen numerous costly flops, with ''Cutthroat Island'' being one of the biggest money losers ever. The film took off at the box office, buoyed by positive reviews and word of mouth and ended up becoming one of the highest grossing films of summer 2003. The second film, ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanDeadMansChest'', was an even bigger hit, setting the North American opening weekend record and was the highest grossing film of 2006. [[Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean Three more sequels followed]].
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Sing}}'': Not too many people expected this film to succeed, with many claiming that it was a stale copy of ''Disney/{{Zootopia}}'' with a very cliché, unoriginal plot about a singing competition. Despite all this, the movie managed to earn nearly $200 million in under two weeks, was the second leading film during Christmas weekend at the box office, and has gotten mixed to positive reviews by both critics and fans alike. The film was nominated for the Best Animated Feature Golden Globe in 2017.
* Critics were very hostile to ''Film/KingKong1933''. "A 50-foot gorilla attacking New York City? And on top of that, falling in love with a human woman instead of eating her? Nobody's ever gonna pay to see THAT!" Take a guess at how wrong they were. It's one of the earliest examples of CriticalDissonance in cinema.
* ''Film/ThePhiladelphiaStory'' was released at a time when Creator/KatharineHepburn was considered "box office poison". The film became a resounding success and subsequently [[CareerResurrection restored Hepburn's reputation]].
* The Bengali coming-of-age film ''Literature/PatherPanchali'' had little hope of being recognized as more than a renegade/experimental Indian product. Upon release it quickly made heaps of money everywhere it was shown and through this Satyajit Ray introduced the world to the possibilities of low-budget filmmaking.
* Creator/UnitedArtists did not have much faith in ''Film/DrNo'', giving only $1 million to the producers and releasing it in the Midwest before the big American markets. It went on to launch the still-thriving Film/JamesBond film franchise.
* Creator/WarnerBros wasn't expecting ''Film/BonnieAndClyde'' to work at all, but it was a megahit and helped [[UsefulNotes/NewHollywood change the way filmmakers would depict violence]] in future works.
* A fictional example occurs in ''Film/TheProducers'': a sneaky Broadway showman and his accountant/henchman put on a play called "SpringtimeForHitler" specifically BECAUSE it will flop, allowing them to keep the excess money they raised but didn't need. [[HilarityEnsues Then they got a little surprise]]. (Ironically, the original 1968 film flopped.)
* Creator/{{Paramount}} had no expectations in ''Film/TheGodfather'', despite being based on a best seller. Creator/FrancisFordCoppola was hired only for his Italian origins, the studio gave him limited funds and complained about every decision of his. It became the highest-grossing movie ever upon release, and is frequently in "best of all time" lists.
* ''Film/BlazingSaddles'' was a quirky {{Blaxploitation}} comedy set in the Wild West. [[ExecutiveMeddling Warner Brothers almost didn't release it at all]] because they figured [[AudienceAlienatingPremise it just wouldn't sell]]. But it did.
* ''Film/{{Jaws}}'' was initially picked up as a script treatment by Creator/{{Universal}} Pictures, [[TroubledProduction but ran into problems almost immediately]]. A rookie director who only had [[Film/TheSugarlandExpress one other feature film]] -- that bombed in theatres -- to his name was chosen to direct the film. An actor who believed he was now box-office poison because of his prior work signed up as one of the main characters. Filming ran over-budget and overtime, with executives denying funding for key reshoots (which then had to be paid out of pocket). There were accusations that the practical effects were cheap and laughable, [[SerendipityWritesThePlot forcing the filmmaker to improvise]] by keeping it off-screen for most of the run-time. Yet, contrary to Creator/StevenSpielberg and Creator/RichardDreyfuss' beliefs, ''Jaws'' became the first film to see wide-release distribution, became one of the highest-grossing films of all time and ushered in a new wave in American film-making.
* It's hard to believe now, but Creator/TwentiethCenturyFox had very little faith in ''Franchise/StarWars: Film/ANewHope'' making much money.[[note]]Both Creator/UnitedArtists and Creator/{{Universal}} had passed on the film before it even got to Fox.[[/note]] They put it out as sort of a "last hurrah" to hold off bankruptcy, and tasked Creator/AlanDeanFoster with writing ''Literature/SplinterOfTheMindsEye'', a sequel novel written for the sole purpose of facilitating a quick low-budget movie adaptation. Fox had to bully theaters into showing ''Star Wars'', as theaters simply wouldn't touch it and Fox had to make some money back on what they assumed would be a financial fiasco. Fox threatened to withhold the period drama ''The Other Side of Midnight'', which had been tipped to be a hit that summer, unless the theater agreed to screen ''Star Wars'' for a couple weeks. ''The Other Side of Midnight'' made its budget back, but it was steamrolled at the box office by ''Star Wars''. Fox had given George Lucas exclusive rights on TheMerch related to Star Wars in exchange for paying him less. They figured the movie would bomb and no one would make, never mind buy the merchandise as a result. [[JustSoStory And that's why no publisher ever gives exclusive merchandising rights to the creator anymore.]]
* ''Film/AnimalHouse'' was the ambitious foray of the ''Franchise/NationalLampoon'' magazine into silver-screen entertainment. Universal execs politely allowed the filmmakers to go wild in their own special way, quietly hoping ''Animal House'' wouldn't damage the company's checkbooks. Creator/DonaldSutherland famously chose several thousand dollars in payment over a percentage of the box-office gross, expecting the film wouldn't sell. However, ''Animal House'' 's charmingly dark and hard-hitting observations on college life, as well as its undeniably quirky brand of vulgar humor, was so refreshing to moviegoers in the late 70s that the film recouped its $2 million budget 50 times over. Donald Sutherland, as you might imagine, was not pleased.
* ''Film/{{Airplane}}'' was the first shot at a mainstream movie by the people who made ''Film/TheKentuckyFriedMovie''. With its [[HurricaneOfPuns obsession with]] puns and its throwing of conventional plotline out the window, many believed it had box-office disaster written all over it. It became one of the highest-grossing films of 1980.
* ''Film/ETTheExtraTerrestrial'' was going to be just a forgettable kids' movie about a lost alien, until preview audiences got a grip on its true magnificence and spread the word. It soon out-grossed ''Franchise/StarWars'' and became the top worldwide moneymaker until ''Franchise/JurassicPark''. M&M-Mars certainly thought it would be forgettable. Hershey, on the other hand, gave it a chance. Thus, the film put Reese's Pieces on the candy map.
* ''Film/RomancingTheStone''. Creator/TwentiethCenturyFox was so certain that it would fail, they fired Creator/RobertZemeckis from directing ''Film/{{Cocoon}}''. This turned out to be a benefit: Zemeckis and his friend Bob Gale then had the freedom to pursue their pet project ''Film/BackToTheFuture'', and in the meantime ''Romancing the Stone'' was the surprise box-office smash of the summer of '84.
* ''Film/BackToTheFuture'' was rejected by every major studio when first pitched in 1980, as the Lorraine/Marty subplot wasn't risque enough to match other teen comedies at the time (or, in the case of Disney, was TOO risque). This caused some embarrassment for a number of Hollywood execs when five years later, Zemeckis and Gale made ''Future'' under Amblin (with distribution by Universal) and it became the highest-grossing picture of 1985. Plus, an exec at Universal ''hated'' the name ''Back to the Future'' because he felt that any movie with the word "future" in the title was box office poison. It took the intervention of Steven Spielberg for Zemeckis and Gale to keep the original title.
* Orion Pictures had little faith in ''Film/{{Hoosiers}}'', a film that ended up almost as successful as ''Film/{{Platoon}}'', the other big Orion release of 1986.
* According to Creator/SpikeLee, if he can make hit movies, ANYONE can make hit movies. ''Film/DoTheRightThing'' came out of nowhere in 1989, exceeding every low expectation set upon it and holding its own against a crapload of high-profile summer blockbusters.
* ''Film/HomeAlone'' is the ultimate example: anticipated as another John Hughes concept gone awry, its cartoony slapstick combined with an unexpectedly heartwarming story won audiences over and it became the top-moneymaking comedy of all time (keeping the title until ''Film/NightAtTheMuseum'').
* ''Film/{{Clerks}}'', Creator/KevinSmith's shoestring-budget debut, simply popped out of nowhere and made a heaping wad of cash.
* Creator/JamesCameron's ''Film/{{Titanic 1997}}'' ran overbudget, gathered plenty of naysayers and became the first film in history to make $1 billion worldwide.
* James Cameron's ''Film/{{Avatar}}'' [[HistoryRepeats ran overbudget, gathered plenty of naysayers and became the first film in history to make]] ''[[UpToEleven $2 billion]]'' [[HistoryRepeats worldwide]].
* The premise of ''Film/NapoleonDynamite'' sounded a bit stupid before its premiere. It became a indie sensation and "Vote for Pedro" became a catchphrase at the time of the film's release. It became a cultural phenomenon in Idaho and even got a unanimous vote of the Idaho legislature in its favor.
* ''Franchise/{{Rocky}}'':
** ''Film/RockyBalboa'' was not only expected to fail at the box office but was also the butt of many jokes by comedians and film fans due to star/writer/director Creator/SylvesterStallone's age (he was 59 at the time of the film's release) and lack of box office success in the early part of the 2000's. Then the film was released, had positive reception from critics and audiences, managed to be a profit-making hit for the studio and gave Stallone a CareerResurrection.
** Fans thought that the seventh follow-up, ''Film/{{Creed}}'', was completely unnecessary because the previous entry wrapped everything up nicely. In addition, audiences and Stallone himself hated [[Film/RockyV the last film]] that had Rocky as a mentor, so how could a second attempt at that work? ''Creed'' managed to gain even more critical acclaim than ''Rocky Balboa'', turned in a respectable profit, and brought Stallone both a Golden Globe win and an Oscar nomination for his supporting role.
* A first-time director decides to shoot his own horror movie in his own house, and goes so far as to remodel his own home to use as the setting, and hire two unknown actors to play the lead characters. The film was shot in 7 days, and was eventually submitted to the [=ScreamFest=] Horror Film Festival, where an executive from Creator/MiramaxFilms saw it and approached the director to rework it for Sundance (he rejected it). Creator/{{Dreamworks}} Pictures saw potential in the film, but they didn't know what to do with it, and decided to hold a test screening (which they thought initially bombed after people started walking out). The film was then delayed for several ''years'' while shakeups and management changes occurred at Dreamworks. In addition, this came during the time when the ''Franchise/{{Saw}}'' franchise debuted to considerable commercial success. The film, ''Film/ParanormalActivity'', was eventually shunted out the door as a test for viral film promotion, and was expected to flop against the then-released ''Film/SawVI''. However, the $15,000 film was a smash hit with audience, and eventually grossed ''$189 million'' in total, leading to two sequels, while ''Saw VI'''s disappointing box-office performance [[FranchiseKiller killed the series]] (there was only [[Film/Saw3D one more]] ''Saw'' movie afterwards).
* The ''Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse'' had an uphill climb to prove itself in its early days. For starters, Marvel had signed away the rights to their most well-known properties and was now trying to produce their own films with characters largely considered "B-List". Moreover, at time, movies based on Marvel properties were a mixed bag, ranging from the well-received (''Film/XMenFilmSeries''[[note]]minus ''The Last Stand'' and ''Origins: Wolverine''[[/note]] and the ''Film/SpiderManTrilogy''[[note]]minus the third movie[[/note]]) to the utter flops (''Film/{{Daredevil}}'' and ''Film/FantasticFour2005''). On top of that, the idea of doing a SharedUniverse was considered extremely risky, as earlier superhero films, despite the odd MythologyGag and in-joke, had heroes existing in the world as the only beings of their kind, be it Batman, Superman, or even Sam Raimi's ''Spider-Man Trilogy'' and the ''X-Men Film Series''. Yet the risk paid off, as the MCU is now one of the biggest blockbuster franchises of all time and marked a GenreTurningPoint for superhero movies in general. Specific movies include:
** ''Film/IronMan1'': B-list comic book character who Marvel fans were soured on thanks to a [[ComicBook/CivilWar then-recent controversial story arc]]? [[Creator/RobertDowneyJr Washed-up actor who had problems with drug abuse]] in the lead role? [[Creator/JonFavreau Director]] whose [[{{Film/Zathura}} last film]] hadn't been so much of a success? In hindsight, it was the greatest decision Marvel ever made, as the movie helped boost the character's popularity with the mainstream, gave Robert Downey Jr. a massive CareerResurrection, and convinced Marvel that even their less popular heroes could indeed become box office draws.
** Before ''Film/{{Thor}}'' was released, a lot of critics and bloggers thought it wouldn't do well because the title character wasn't as much of a household name as Franchise/{{Superman}}, Franchise/{{Batman}}, Franchise/SpiderMan, or the Franchise/XMen, involved a lot of super-shiny costumes and set pieces, and it was directed by [[Creator/KennethBranagh someone primarily known for Shakespearean adaptations]] who hadn't directed a big action movie before. And then it made $181 million in the U.S. and well over $400 million worldwide, was pretty well-received critically, and gained an active and devoted {{fandom}}.
** ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger'': A movie centered on a CaptainPatriotic character embodying a country with a polarizing reputation ([[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgment to put it simply]]) and whose [[Film/CaptainAmerica1990 last movie adaptation was a laughable bomb]], being played by [[Creator/ChrisEvans an actor]] whose [[Film/FantasticFour2005 last foray as a Marvel superhero]] was less than well-received (even though his performance was seen as one of the film's highlights)? Yet it worked out better than anyone could've expected.
** ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}''. Having an ensemble cast of several superheroes? But it worked far better than even thought possible. Also, ever since the nineties it was declared over and over by fans that a movie about a Super-Team consisting of superheroes each big enough to have his own solo movie, thus requiring a lead-star-capable actor for each role, would never be more than a fanboy's daydream.
** ''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy'' was considered a risky venture, being an obscure comic property featuring a gun-toting raccoon and an animated tree amongst its lineup. [[http://www.sunsetrising.net/2014/05/09/why-guardians-of-the-galaxy-will-spell-marvels-doom/ Predictions]] of [[http://io9.com/why-guardians-of-the-galaxy-could-be-marvels-first-fl-1516575377 failure]] [[http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/02/26/guardians-of-the-galaxy-will-be-a-flop-for-marvel.aspx abounded]], despite the film being handled by the one who brought the world two ''Film/ScoobyDoo'' films (along with [[Film/TromeoAndJuliet weird]] [[Film/{{Slither}} horror]]). Its $94 million opening weekend take exceeded projections and expectations, and its worldwide earnings exceeded its production cost after less than a week. The quote atop this page just says everything.
** ''Film/AntMan'' was expected to be a flop, not only because of being an obscure character (even as a LegacyCharacter) [[WhatKindOfLamePowerIsHeartAnyway infamous for having "lame" powers]] as well as an infamous NeverLiveItDown moment and a notoriously well-publicized TroubledProduction. However, while it wasn't as successful as ''Guardians of the Galaxy'', it still proved its chops, beating ''WesternAnimation/{{Minions}}''' second week during its first week and staying at the top in its second.
** ''Film/BlackPanther'' faced a lot of doubters simply due to the belief that general audiences wouldn't want to see a movie with [[MinorityShowGhetto a black superhero]], never mind an all-black cast. The film quickly obliterated that idea and rapidly began knocking down box-office records ''across the world'', including the first film since ''Film/{{Avatar}}'' to remain #1 at the box office for five consecutive weekends, third-highest domestic box office ever (beating ''Film/{{Titanic 1997}}''), tenth highest-grossing film ever, and highest grossing solo superhero movie ever.
* ''Film/MissionImpossibleGhostProtocol'': ''Mission: Impossible III'' had performed below expectations at the box office, as well as Tom Cruise's last few films, and many prognosticators were surprised the studio had approved a fourth film. Box office analysts [[http://www.boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=3083&p=.htm thought it was a bad move]] for Paramount to schedule the film for Christmas weekend, already crowded with other releases, and a season that wasn't known for being fertile ground for action films. Strong word of mouth, with many calling it the best film of the series, propelled it to strong box office, becoming one of the highest-grossing films of the year and easily leading Christmas weekend.
* When ''Film/DirtyDancing'' was screened for Aaron Russo, a producer at Vestron Pictures, his reaction to the film was "Burn the negative and collect the insurance." ''Dirty Dancing'' would become one of the highest-grossing films of the year.
* Before ''Film/{{Big}}'' was released in June 1988, there'd already been three OvernightAgeUp comedies [[FollowTheLeader made between 1987 and 1988]]: ''Like Father, Like Son'', ''18 Again!'' and ''Vice Versa'' (plus the Italian film ''Da grande'', which was this film's direct inspiration), so many expected this film to tank and be forgotten. Instead, ''Big'' became the highest-grossing and most highly-praised film of the bunch.
* ''Film/RoboCop1987'' was expected to be a relatively low-budget B-movie [[ItWillNeverCatchOn that wouldn't do very well at the box office]] and even the director, Creator/PaulVerhoeven, turned it down at first and had to be convinced by his wife to take on the project. Instead it became one of the biggest films of the year and a scifi classic, and launched his career in Hollywood (previously he had only directed arthouse films in the Netherlands, and the last movie he had made, ''Flesh+Blood'', was a huge flop).
* ''Film/PlanetOfTheApes1968'': Pierre Boulle, author of ''[[Literature/PlanetOfTheApes La Planete des Singes]]'', considered it to be one of his lesser works and that any film based off it had no potential for screen success. Fox even only greenlit the original to compensate [[TroubledProduction the hell producer Arthur P. Jacobs faced with]] ''Film/DoctorDolittle''. Yet it was a great hit, considered a sci-fi classic and [[Franchise/PlanetOfTheApes kick-started a franchise]].
* ''Film/RiseOfThePlanetOfTheApes'' was widely mocked before release as appearing to be an ill attempt to revive what was a dead franchise, especially after [[Film/PlanetOfTheApes2001 a bomb of a remake ten years before]]. Then it came out and, to everyone's surprise, turned out to be a critical success, with a groundbreaking performance by Creator/AndySerkis, as well as a commercial success, bringing hope back to the series. The sequel, ''Film/DawnOfThePlanetOfTheApes'', was [[EvenBetterSequel even more successful]], and ended up being one of the most acclaimed movies of Summer 2014; several film critics even held it up as an example of the kind of film that other Summer blockbusters should strive to be. A trilogy closer, ''Film/WarForThePlanetOfTheApes'', was also highly acclaimed even if it didn't make as much money as ''Dawn''.
* Apparently, before Creator/BruceWillis was approached to play John [=McClane=] in ''Film/DieHard'', the job had already been turned down by Creator/ArnoldSchwarzenegger, Creator/SylvesterStallone, Creator/BurtReynolds, Creator/RichardGere, Creator/HarrisonFord and Creator/MelGibson, who didn't believe in the script, and John [=McTiernan=], who would later direct it, even turned down ''several'' offers. When his agent delivered the news to Willis, he immediately advised him ''not'' to do it, thinking he'd make a complete fool of himself. However, due to the payment being simply too good to turn down, Willis accepted to play [=McClane=], kicking off his career as one of Hollywood's most popular and well paid actors. Not to mention how the movie became influential in [[DieHardOnAnX formula]] and protagonist type of later movies. It is now virtually impossible to find a Best Action Movies list that does not contain it, more often than not, at the top of the pile, and even frequently is on Best Christmas Movies lists, which if you had told anyone before it came out they would have had you institutionalized.
* Early trailers for ''Film/{{Paddington}}'' focused on ToiletHumor and Paddington's UncannyValley look, and with Creator/ColinFirth dropping out many thought the film would flop. When it actually came out it got rave reviews from critics on both sides of the Atlantic for being not only a delightfully sincere family film but also staying very true to the spirit of the books. It was also a financial success, grossing over $259 million with a 55 million budget.
* Nobody really thought ''Film/StraightOuttaCompton'' would be a hit, thanks to the subject matter, the R-rating, and the lack of established actors outside of Creator/PaulGiamatti. The film not only won rave reviews, but is currently the highest grossing musical biopic of all time, even beating out ''Film/WalkTheLine''.
* ''Film/MadMaxFuryRoad'' was an R-rated summer blockbuster that was [[SequelGap a revival of a franchise that hadn't seen a movie in three decades]] and was regarded as an aged product restricted to TheEighties. It had also spent ages in DevelopmentHell and had a notoriously TroubledProduction that included losing Creator/MelGibson, plus tension between Creator/TomHardy and fellow star Creator/CharlizeTheron and director, Creator/GeorgeMiller. The fact that it was described as a film-long chase sequence did not raise hopes. On release, it became a box office success, a cultural sensation, and one of the most critically acclaimed films of 2015, praised for its incredible action and near peerless storytelling. The praise and enthusiasm from critics and the public lasted all the way to the end of the year, [[OutOfTheGhetto becoming surprisingly one of the biggest award season contenders]], eventually getting ten Oscar nominations including unheard of nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. It ended up winning six, nearly sweeping the technical categories -- even outclassing ''Film/TheForceAwakens''.
* ''Film/Deadpool2016'': Infamous {{Executive Meddl|ing}}er Tom Rothman (the same guy who previously mandated that [[Film/XMenOriginsWolverine Deadpool's mouth had to be sewn shut]]) was strongly opposed to the movie getting made up until he left Twentieth Century Fox out of fear that the movie wouldn't click with audiences. After he left the company, the movie was officially greenlit, and it recuperated its entire budget ''five times over'' in '''a single weekend'''. To add insult to injury toward Rothman, in that same opening weekend, the movie made more than [[Film/FantasticFour2015 the last superhero movie that Rothman greenlit]] did '''[[BoxOfficeBomb in its entire lifetime]]''', and [[MorePopularSpinoff overtook the main X-Men series in the process]].
* ''Film/WhatEverHappenedToBabyJane'' was expected to flop, particularly after the stories leaked to the press about the quarreling between stars Creator/BetteDavis and Creator/JoanCrawford, but the film turned out to be a critical and commercial hit, even earning an Oscar nomination for Davis.
* ''Film/WonderWoman'' had been in DevelopmentHell for years and because of the failure of ''Film/{{Catwoman}}'' and ''Film/{{Elektra}}'', many executive producers believed that [[GirlShowGhetto superheroine movies don't sell well]]. After the mixed-to-negative reception of the first three Franchise/DCExtendedUniverse movies (''Film/ManOfSteel'', ''Film/BatmanVSupermanDawnOfJustice'' and ''Film/SuicideSquad''), some people expected that ''Wonder Woman'' would follow the same. Fortunately, the film earned positive critical and audience reception, with plenty acclaiming it as one of the greatest superhero films ever made, and became the biggest-grossing female-led comic book superhero film ever, earning $200+ million worldwide in just its opening weekend and going on to earn over $800 million (and counting) worldwide, and becoming the highest grossing superhero origin movie ''ever'', beating movies now considered genre classics such as ''Superman'' (1978), ''Batman'' (1989) and ''Batman Begins'' and all the MCU origin films as of 2017.
* Almost nobody was counting on ''Film/JumanjiWelcomeToTheJungle'' to be even remotely successful, with a good number of people even predicting it would become a box-office bomb and ruin the credibility of many of its cast members. Reasons for this mentality included Sony's [[Film/Ghostbusters2016 last attempt at rebooting a classic comedy]] [[BrokenBase being one of the most divisive movies of the decade]], the concept of having the main characters be the in-game avatars of a group of high-schoolers in a video game baffling many and overall just the fact that Creator/RobinWilliams is such a beloved figure that many thought remaking the movie would be an insult to his memory. Upon release however, people wound up praising the cast, the comedy and how it acted as both a love letter to old-school video games and a surprisingly well done parody of them, while also being respectful of the original film without relying too much on the nostalgia of the original. Even more surprisingly, despite people thinking it would bomb at the box-office considering it would be released around the same time as ''Film/TheLastJedi'', it wound up [[SleeperHit doing the opposite]], even taking the #1 spot from ''The Last Jedi'' after three weeks of release and grossing over $900 million worldwide, making it the 5th highest grossing film of 2017. For a film many counted on crashing and burning at the box-office, to say this is quite the turnaround would be an understatement.
* ''Nobody'' expected wrestler [[Wrestling/TheRock Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson]]'s acting career to go anywhere. Despite a misstep or two early in his Hollywood days, The Rock of today is a bonafide movie star and consistent box office draw.

* Anthony Burgess wrote his first novel, ''Literature/AClockworkOrange'', as a form of therapy in an emotionally turbulent period in his life. He figured that once published it would be quickly forgotten, and he would turn his attentions to his next book. ''Clockwork Orange'' propelled Burgess to international fame instead.
* First editions of ''Discworld/TheColourOfMagic'', the first Discworld novel, are quite rare because no one really thought it would sell and the publishing run was therefore rather low.
* ''Literature/HarryPotter''. Publishers were afraid children wouldn't read such [[DoorStopper long books]]. Literary critics pigeonholed the first book as lame 1990's juvenile fantasy, destined to be forgotten. Not only did the series become some of the best-selling books in history, it also got film adaptations, and is still seeing some new merchandise and materials to this day.
** Even the publishing house that finally accepted Philosopher's Stone wasn't going to at first. They saw no market or promise in the book. The editor charged with reading the manuscript took the first chapter home, didn't want to read it, and gave it to his eight-year-old daughter...who read the entire chapter at breakneck speed and began ''immediately'' pestering her father non-stop for the rest of the book so she could find out more about "the little boy." The editor went back to work and told his bosses that they just might have something here...
** Even better, when Philosopher's Stone had it's first printing, JK Rowling sat for a story with the book critic for a small local paper. At the end of the interview, she gave the critic a signed copy of the book as a gift. On the way back to the office, the critic tossed the book in a trash bin, thinking it was worthless. To be clear, the critic ''threw away a signed, first edition printing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone...copies of which have sold for over eighty thousand dollars.''
* The original novel of ''Literature/{{MASH}}'' was rejected by over a dozen publishers, which was a record for the agency selling it. It eventually spawned a movie, numerous sequel novels and a tv series that ran for eleven years (and whose final episode was the highest rated show ever broadcast at that time).
* ''Literature/AnimalFarm'' was turned down by a publisher who told Creator/GeorgeOrwell in the rejection slip, "It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA." The slip in question was from The Dial Press of New York. To quote Creator/ChristopherHitchens in response: "And this, in the land of Disney..."
* In case you need proof that most publishers thought Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/{{Carrie}}'' would fail, King has saved all the rejection letters he got while trying to sell it. One of them said, "We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell."
* Nathaniel Hawthorne did not expect ''Literature/TheScarletLetter'' to be popular. It was.
* Creator/BeatrixPotter at first had absolutely ''no'' luck finding an editor who liked ''Literature/TheTaleOfPeterRabbit''. Eventually, she used her family's wealth to publish it privately, and after some moderate success on this limited distribution, an editor was conviced that it would sell and, well, it certainly did.
* As hard as it is to believe, one publisher rejected ''Literature/AnneFrankTheDiaryOfAYoungGirl'', claiming in the rejection slip, "The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above 'curiosity' level." (The name of this publisher has been lost, and more than likely, he kept quiet about it.)
* Creator/AstridLindgren was rejected by one publisher, ''Bonniers''. But she finally was accepted by another publisher, ''Rabén & Sjögren'', and she would (mostly) remain faithful to them for the rest of her career. And it was a good career too, as she became one of Sweden's most-loved writers of children's literature.
* Creator/SimonaAhrnstedt was determined to bring the RomanceNovel to the Swedish literary scene. But it wasn't easy for her to find a publisher for her debut novel, ''Literature/{{Overenskommelser}}'', and critics continued to ignore her. While she maybe isn't a household name, she's got a steady fanbase, she has published four more novels and has proved that there is a market for Swedish Romance.
* Ted Geisel - better known by his pen name, Creator/DrSeuss - tried ''twenty-seven times'', unsuccessfully, to sell his first children's book. You probably know it as ''And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street''. And he almost GaveUpTooSoon. He was so frustrated after the 27th time, he decided to go burn the manuscript, when by pure chance, he ran into an old friend... who had just happened to become a publisher.
* ''Literature/AConfederacyOfDunces'' was rejected as being pointless by multiple publishers. After the author committed suicide, his mother found a smeared copy of the manuscript, and tried to get publishers interested for the next ''11 years''. Finally, she browbeat an established author into reading it, and he was so impressed, he used his influence to get it published. The novel won a Pulitzer Prize the next year.
* Creator/JRRTolkien tried several times throughout his life to sell one version or another of what eventually became ''Literature/TheSilmarillion'', but gave up after many rejections, finally concluding that the work was best viewed as a personal hobby, inventing a setting in which to place his [[ConLang invented languages]] but of little interest to the greater public. Finally completed by his son Christopher and published posthumously, it never achieved the same heights as ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' (which incorporated a great deal of it into its backstory, making its status as a sequel to ''Literature/TheHobbit'' something of a DolledUpInstallment), but it turned out to be of great enough interest to Tolkien fans to enjoy the sort of popularity that would make many a lesser fantasy writer envious, and enough interest remained for Christopher Tolkien to publish his father's notes in a more complete form as first ''Literature/UnfinishedTales'' and then the multi-volume ''Literature/TheHistoryOfMiddleEarth'', and expand one of its story arcs to the novel-length ''Literature/TheChildrenOfHurin''.
* Because people tend to remember the movie ''Film/GoneWithTheWind'', it's easy for many to forget that Margaret Mitchell's book, which inspired it, was rejected over thirty times. It was an immediate besteller and is the ''second'' most read and bought book in the United States (the Bible is number one), and is the most successful novel in the [=US=].

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Creator/WaltDisney strikes again. At a time when the major studios were still fighting a desperate and doomed war against the new menace of TV, Walt embraced it; predictably, the established studios mocked. 35 years later, after becoming the first show to air on American TV's "Big 3" (ABC, NBC, CBS) ''and'' cable, the show that started as simply ''Disneyland'' finally left the air. See below for more about the show's namesake.
* ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' was considered a filler for dead airspace that was only created to replace old reruns of Johnny Carson's ''The Tonight Show'' and only appealed to stoners and insomniacs. Almost 40 years later, and the show (despite its ups and downs in quality, three threats of cancellation, and its constant changes in cast and crew members) has become a New York institution, is the longest-running sketch show in America, has old and new fans (some of which will forever argue over whether or not the show is still worth watching or if there's anything out there that can be a worthy replacement), beat 99% of the sketch shows that were put on the air to replace it[[note]]''Fridays'', ''SCTV'', ''The New Show'', ''Series/InLivingColor'', ''Saturday Night Special'', ''House of Buggin'', and ''{{Series/MADtv}}'', among others. These days, the only competition the show has are Adult Swim's anime line-up, the Internet, and Comedy Central's shows[[/note]], is more popular than ever in the viral video/Internet comedy era, and has accrued a vast wealth of memorable characters and moments (both funny and serious).
** Writers were worried that the audience would respond negatively to "Lazy Sunday". Instead, the audience loved the song, it became the most popular SNL skit in years, brought the show out of its DorkAge, and introduced the world to Music/TheLonelyIsland.
* ''Series/TwentyFour'' initially began its existence as a romantic comedy-drama about the planning of a wedding over the course of a single day -- before being reworked by producers Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran into an action-thriller about a government agent trying to rescue his family during a Presidential primary election in Los Angeles. The series wasn't expected to last a full season. FOX executives ordered 13 episodes and aired it with virtually no promotion whatsoever (and in a Tuesday timeslot, which was uncharacteristic for an action show). It was only due to lead actor Kiefer Sutherland winning a Golden Globe Award for his work on the first ten episodes that made executives order an additional 11 scripts to fill out the season. However, the series become much more critically-lauded, was a smash hit on DVD (so much so that it increased viewership of the second season by a full 25%) and eventually led to a franchise that lasted eight seasons (and a TV movie), with tie-in materials and a proposed feature film continuation, in addition to a sequel mini-series confirmed to be on the way.
* ''Series/TheWire'' was initially rejected by {{Creator/HBO}}, who weren't even sure that they wanted a police procedural in their programming lineup - they had to be convinced by Creator/DavidSimon (who had previously collaborated with them on 2000's ''The Corner'') to produce a pilot episode. The resulting season didn't fare so great in the ratings, and the series was on the verge of cancellation - until critics started promoting the show as one of the best new series in years. The show subsequently survived multiple attempts at cancellation, lasted five seasons, and has been regarded as one of the best dramatic series produced from the 21st century.
* When the Sci-Fi Channel first aired the ''Series/BattlestarGalactica2003'' pilot miniseries, fans of [[Series/BattlestarGalactica1978 the original]] absolutely tore it to shreds, [[TheyChangedItNowItSucks complaining about the changes to the characters]] ({{Gender Flip}}ping Starbuck and Boomer for starters), making [[RidiculouslyHumanRobot humanoid Cylons]], a stronger emphasis on political and religious themes, the DarkerAndEdgier tone and more, to the point it was popular to call the reimagined series ''Galactica InNameOnly''. Others were turned off by the name and the association to what was perceived as a hokey ''Star Wars'' rip-off from the 70's. Better yet, the first season of the show was broadcast in the U.K. months before it aired on American television, and fans continued to tear into it - then, the show started to receive massive critical acclaim from critics across the world, and when the show debuted on Sci-Fi, it garnered some of the highest ratings for any sci-fi show ''in history''. It lasted four seasons and two tie-in films, and resulted in two spin-offs (''Series/{{Caprica}}'' and ''Series/BattlestarGalacticaBloodAndChrome'').
* In late 2003/early 2004, Lloyd Braun and a few other ABC executives were fired because they had greenlighted a strange project called ''Series/{{Lost}}''. What is ''Lost'', anyway? A rehash of ''Series/GilligansIsland'' with a dramatic angle? And the enormous budget that somehow got approved for this thing... worst blunder ever! Yet despite the lack of faith from top brass, ''Lost'' became an overnight sensation and producer Creator/JJAbrams became a household name.
* ABC started garnering a few tentpole series from midseason replacements, which in general are held for midseason because they're not considered good enough for the fall schedule.. The first midseason replacement to become a hit was ''Series/GreysAnatomy''. The second was ''Series/{{Castle}}''. The third, though not as big as the other two, was ''Series/BodyOfProof''.
* The U.S. adaptation of ''Series/{{The Office|US}}'' was heavily criticized by both media pundits (for being an adaptation of a [[Series/TheOfficeUK cult British series]] that lasted a grand total of [[BritishBrevity 12 episodes and a Christmas special]]) and its original creator, Creator/RickyGervais (who feared that viewers would hesitate watching an American reworking of a British show -- i.e. the American ''Series/{{Coupling}}''). The show had a six-episode first season where ratings fell sharply in between the premiere and season finale (due to NBC shuffling its timeslot around), and was in danger of being cancelled (in addition to scathing reviews from major U.S. publications). However, the show quickly [[GrowingTheBeard found a footing]] by differentiating itself in tone and content and found a distinct identity from the British series, and went on to become NBC's highest-rated comedy with nine seasons.
* ''Series/ParksAndRecreation'' went through a similar trial. Originally conceived as a spin-off from the American ''Office'' by the same writers before being made into an independent entity, reception to its six-episode first season was lukewarm at best, with critics dismissing it as a pale clone of its parent show. However, ''Parks'' would go on to [[GrowingTheBeard Grow The Beard]] tremendously in its second season and found more of its own unique identity in the process. While it was mostly a QuietlyPerformingSisterShow in comparison to ''The Office'' (which got more attention and higher ratings), ''Parks'' went on for seven seasons, became a critical darling, and built up a loyal fanbase, with many considering it equal to, if not ''better'' than, its parent series.
* The Disney TV movie ''Film/HighSchoolMusical''. Nobody, absolutely nobody, saw its mega-popularity coming.
* In fall 2006, Creator/{{NBC}} premiered two primetime shows that took place behind the scenes of a [[Series/SaturdayNightLive sketch comedy show that airs live every week]]: ''Series/Studio60OnTheSunsetStrip'' and ''Series/ThirtyRock''. It was widely expected that ''30 Rock'' wouldn't last past the first fifteen minutes of episode one while ''Studio 60'' would go on to success and acclaim. A year later, ''Studio 60'' was the one dead in the water and ''30 Rock'' had picked up the Emmy for Best Comedy. Two more years later, ''30 Rock'' had three Emmys for Best Comedy and ''Studio 60'' is yet another forgotten short-running show that will live on in the minds of die-hard Aaron Sorkin fans.
* AMC was never considered in the same league as HBO, with original shows not being up their alley... until the double-whammy of period drama ''Series/MadMen'' and dark comedy/drama ''Series/BreakingBad''. And once the two shows were joined by sci-fi megahit ''Series/TheWalkingDead'', AMC became the most desirable network for drama on cable television. ''Breaking Bad'' was a particularly unexpected success for the network. When it was first greenlit, nobody thought that it would amount to anything. Even its creator, Vince Gilligan, didn't know if it would work. One executive described the idea of a high school chemistry teacher turning to dealing crystal meth, "the single worst idea for a television show [he'd] heard in [his] whole life". When it aired, despite getting mediocre ratings for most of its run, it was critically adored, with the acclaim increasing every single year. Finally, the last eight episodes of the series saw an ''astronomical'' increase in ratings in addition to almost universal acclaim, seeing the show go out in a blaze of glory both critically and commercially, with one of the most watched series finales in the history of cable television, firmly securing it a place in discussions of the best television dramas ever.
* ''Series/{{Glee}}'', a somewhat weird show (even for FOX) about Midwestern high-school misfits partaking in song-and-dance competitions, was never expected to climb high enough in viewership to make an impact, let alone end up a top TV franchise. But it did, due in large part to razor-sharp plotlines (at least in the first season), impeccable musical direction, and the one-of-a-kind acting chops of Matthew Morrison, Creator/LeaMichele, Creator/ChrisColfer and Jane Lynch.
* Before it launched, the ITV2 series ''Series/TheOnlyWayIsEssex'' was derided as a pointless knock-off of a more serious but otherwise similar series on Creator/Channel4 called ''Seven Days''. Not only did TOWIE become an unexpected hit, but who even remembers ''Seven Days'' now?
* For the Friday night new shows on fall 1993, Fox decided to put a Western with big names up front, and some sci-fi show starring two unknowns afterwards to get the residual audience from its predecessor. The former is ''Series/TheAdventuresOfBriscoCountyJr'', which only lasted one season. The latter is ''Series/TheXFiles'', which was highly influential, acclaimed, and popular during its nine seasons.
* In 1975, when Phil Redmond was touting the idea for ''Series/GrangeHill'' around most of the UK's television companies, no one was prepared to believe that schoolchildren would want to watch a realistic drama series about children at school. Finally taken up by the BBC in 1976 and launched in 1978, the series ran for 30 years, racking up 601 episodes.
* ''Gardeners' World'' has been running since 1968, has its own magazine, and is practically an institution in its own right. But when it was first proposed, commissioners at the BBC didn't believe there would be an audience for a programme about gardening, and were even more sceptical that anyone would be able to find enough material to keep it running. [[labelnote:*]]This was in spite of the fact that ''Gardeners' Question Time'' had been running on the radio since 1947.[[/labelnote]]
* In the fall of 1994, ''Series/{{ER}}'' and ''Series/ChicagoHope'' premiered on NBC and CBS, respectively, in the identical Thursday at 10pm time slot (and both set in the same city). While not exactly expecting ''ER'' to fail, many critics deemed ''Chicago Hope'' the better show and assumed that it would win the ratings battle. Instead, ''ER'' trounced ''Hope'' so thoroughly that within weeks the latter show moved to another time slot and was off the air in six seasons (perfectly respectable, but nothing compared to ''ER'''s fifteen).
* The fifth episode of ''Series/TheSopranos'', "College", was initially met with extreme resistance from HBO executives because it showed Tony committing his first on-screen murder, and they felt that the audience would never be able to feel sympathy for the show's protagonist if he remorselessly killed an FBI informant [[KarmaHoudini without consequences]]. Being early in its run, ''The Sopranos'' had yet to become the critical powerhouse that it would eventually be, and the network still worried about its ability to sustain an audience. HBO tried to convince David Chase to write an alternate version with Tony letting the informant live; Chase ultimately compromised by agreeing to [[AssholeVictim make him as unsympathetic as possible]]. In the end, though, not only did "College" end up winning a Primetime Emmy for "Outstanding Writing", it was eventually ranked the greatest episode of the series by ''Magazine/TimeMagazine'', and it was ranked the second greatest television episode '''of all time''' by ''Magazine/TVGuide'' [[note]] Only ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}''s "The Contest" beat it out for the #1 spot[[/note]]. To this day, fans frequently cite it as the show's GrowingTheBeard moment.
* ''Series/OrphanBlack'' was expected to bomb on BBC America because it wasn't British. Instead, it became the network's third breakout hit after ''Series/DoctorWho'' and ''Series/{{Sherlock}}'' and the biggest Canadian-exported show in ''years.'' It gave Creator/TatianaMaslany worldwide recognition after years of being only known in Canada, to the point that her snub for a Best Actress Emmy nomination in 2014 was seen as ''the'' biggest of the year.
* Creator/JMichaelStraczynski had tremendous trouble getting ''Series/BabylonFive'' on the air. He shopped the concept around to multiple networks but it was rejected by all of them for, essentially, being too different from Star Trek, which at that time was believed to have set an unbreakable standard for live-action tv science fiction. It was finally picked up by the teeny-tiny "network" Creator/PrimeTimeEntertainmentNetwork ("network" because it was essentially a syndication block operated by Chris-Craft the boat company and Creator/WarnerBros) and proved to be popular enough to keep the troubled "network" afloat single-handedly. Granted, the franchise was did not achieve the spectacular popularity of ''Star Wars'' or ''Star Trek'', but it left an indelible stamp on the scifi landscape even as just about every single critic predicted it would fail before its second season.
* Prior to release ''Series/{{Elementary}}'' received heavy criticism for being seen as an American ripoff of ''BBC Series/{{Sherlock}}''. Even ignoring that people were saying it was homophobic for genderswapping John Watson. When it aired it ended up becoming very successful with many even considering it better than other contemporary Sherlock adaptations. It doesn't have quite as large a fandom as ''BBC Sherlock'' though.
* ''Series/RedDwarf'' was continually rejected for what seemed to Grant Naylor to be bizarre reasons; one executive claimed you couldn't have a sitcom without French windows. When they pointed out you couldn't have French windows on a spaceship he said "Exactly. And that's why a sitcom on a spaceship doesn't work."
* Believe it or not, ''Franchise/PowerRangers'' was pitched to American executives for years as an adaptation of the ''Franchise/SuperSentai'' series already airing in Japan, but for years on end, Haim Saban could find nobody who would take it. Finally, the executive at Fox Kids gave it a chance. They already had plans to have it be a clean 40 episode show, and nobody would be the wiser. And then, well, [[CashCowFranchise it went Kaboom into the popular consciousness of the 90s]], and still manages to truck on today despite numerous ChannelHop, ExecutiveMeddling and TroubledProduction to the series's credit.
* ''Series/MrRobot'': No one expected anything from a show on the USA network (not known for high-quality original content) and starring Creator/ChristianSlater (a faded film star not known for his dramatic weight). Even the name didn't sound like something to take seriously. However, the show proved quite popular with critics and audiences alike.
* ''Series/{{Supergirl 2015}}'' played with this. The show had a large hill to climb, given the perceived lack of mainstream appeal for ''[[Comicbook/{{Supergirl}} the titular character]]'' thanks to the GirlShowGhetto. While it had to ChannelHop to the CW because the budget was too high, it's considered enough of a hit that this trope was fulfilled to some extent.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': Apart from being an adaptation of [[Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire a book series]] that, while a bestseller, was largely obscure to most of the mainstream, [[http://winteriscoming.net/2017/04/27/this-is-fun-a-sampling-of-bad-reviews-game-of-thrones-received-in-the-beginning-shell/ early reviews]] were not kind to the show's first few episodes due to the FantasyGhetto, expansive setting, and the LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters, and several critics decried that HBO (a channel whose previous original programming leaned towards gritty urban dramas and showbiz comedies) was heading straight into NetworkDecay. However, [=GoT=] would ultimately get the last laugh, as it would go on to gather a massive fanbase (as well as creating a NewbieBoom in readers for the original novels), earn nigh-universal critical acclaim, win several awards, and brought back interest in the DarkFantasy genre, [[FollowTheLeader along with inspiring other networks to make their own big-budget medieval fantasy shows]].
* ''Series/CobraKai'': When a series taking place 34 years after ''Film/TheKarateKid'' featuring Ralph Macchio and William Zabka reprising their roles as Daniel and Johnny was announced, it was dismissed by many as yet another unnecessary Hollywood revival of a long dead franchise with nostalgic value and that it would flop. The fact that it was premiering on Website/YouTube Red, a service which has struggled to gain traction against streaming giants Creator/{{Netflix}}, Creator/{{Hulu}}, and Amazon Prime also didn't help. When it premiered, critics praised it for being a well-written series that manages to balance the nostalgia from the films while also expanding on the film's concepts in the modern age and bring new energy and dynamic characters to the mix. Audiences agreed that it was a worthy new installment to the franchise and the first episode would up being [[https://www.cinemablend.com/television/2414891/how-the-karate-kid-tv-show-cobra-kai-did-in-the-ratings watched by 5.4 million viewers on its first day]]. The series was quickly renewed for a second season as a result.

[[folder:Puppet Shows]]
* Creator/JimHenson couldn't get any of the US networks to support a prime-time variety show featuring those puppets from ''Series/SesameStreet''. Lew Grade, of the UK-based ITC Entertainment, saw something no-one else did and agreed to produce the show and broadcast it on ITC's Creator/{{ITV}} station ATV. That was, of course, ''Series/TheMuppetShow''.

* In 1982, Creator/EpicRecords thought ''{{Music/Thriller}}'', Music/MichaelJackson's follow up to his 1979 smash ''Music/OffTheWall'', would flop, due to its GenreRoulette. One hundred million copies, seven top ten singles, and eight Grammy Awards later, Michael Jackson would cement his legacy as the "King of Pop".

* The concept of doing a hip hop themed musical about Alexander Hamilton sounded very stupid to many people, and Creator/JonStewart even mocked the premise in an episode of ''Series/TheDailyShow''. ''Hamilton'' star, Daveed Diggs, thought it was a terrible idea before signing up. Even [[Creator/LinManuelMiranda the guy who]] [[RenaissanceMan came up with the idea, wrote the music, book, and lyrics, and played the lead man]] thought it wouldn't do very well. Despite this, ''Theatre/{{Hamilton}}'' became a smash at the box office, and won near universal acclaim.
* ''Theatre/{{Oklahoma}}'' is apocryphally associated with reluctant backers' premature verdict of "no girls, no gags, no chance," referring to the musical's relative lack of {{Fanservice}} and broad clowning compared with the oversexed star-comic vehicles that proliferated on Broadway during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII (and flopped more often than not).
* ''Theatre/TheSpongeBobMusical'' was dismissed as nothing more then a cash grab by Nick. Instead critics found a surprisingly heartwarming and funny musical.

[[folder:Theme Parks]]
* [[Ride/DisneyThemeParks Disneyland]] was known as [[Creator/WaltDisney "Walt's Folly"]] in Hollywood while he was building it and 'Walt's Nightmare" in the press after a disastrous opening day. And that's all that needs to be said about that.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Though he in the end did not interfere with the decision, then-president of {{Creator/Sega}} of Japan Hayao Nakayama thought then-president of Sega of America Tom Kalinske's decision to bundle the company's KillerApp ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog1'' with the UsefulNotes/SegaGenesis for the for the upcoming 1991 holiday season, despite being released only a few months ago, was an awful idea. Sega of America's gamble paid off with the Sega Genesis outselling the competing {{Creator/Nintendo}}'s {{UsefulNotes/SNES}} almost two to one during the holiday season and caused Sega's marketshare in the 16-bit console to skyrocket up to 65% in January the following year, dethroning Nintendo as the console leader for the first time since December 1985 and establishing Sega as a serious contender against Nintendo in the UsefulNotes/ConsoleWars.
* Creator/{{Nintendo}} is very familiar with this trope.
** The UsefulNotes/NintendoEntertainmentSystem in North America. After [[UsefulNotes/TheGreatVideoGameCrashOf1983 the video game crash of 1983]], there was a period when people thought that video games were just a passing fad. For this reason, many thought the NES would be a failure. It went on to become one of the most successful gaming systems of all time and is considered to have single-handedly saved the video game market in what has become the industry's biggest region.
** ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'', Game Freak's CashCowFranchise to end Cash Cow Franchises, was practically declared a failure and a loss by Nintendo, and they never paid it much mind. You can guess just how very wrong they were. In fact, ''Pokémon'' was put on the Game Boy out of desperation more than anything else--no one but Satoshi Tajiri, the creator, was interested in releasing something for the then-aging, then-forgotten Game Boy. Tajiri simply wanted to see his game available to the public. The franchise not only saved the Game Boy, but also Nintendo (its resources were seriously strained trying to finish ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'', in addition to [=PlayStation=] releases steamrolling anything Nintendo had released at the time). The [[Anime/{{Pokemon}} anime adaptation]] also helped popularize anime in the West. Ever since its release, ''Pokemon'' has been the cornerstone of Nintendo's success in the portable market - because it's a franchise that relies on the handheld, Nintendo handhelds can always rely on it to help boost sales with every new release.
** Nintendo initially planned on the original ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros'' for UsefulNotes/Nintendo64 to be a little low-budget novelty to be released only in Japan. Its surprise success led to it quickly being released overseas, and now every new Nintendo console is expected to have some iteration of the franchise.
** ''Franchise/{{Metroid}}'':
*** Before its release, Nintendo and Creator/RetroStudios made so many controversial choices with ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime'' that no one, not even levelheaded fans and critics, were kind to it. First off, Nintendo letting Retro, an unproven American studio, develop the game rather than doing it themselves. Second, [[VideoGame3DLeap making it in 3D]] which many expected but was still a controversial choice - the PolygonCeiling was still looming over the industry like a vulture. Finally, making it first-person was thought to be the final nail in the coffin for the game having any hopes of being good and feeling like ''Franchise/{{Metroid}}''. When it came out, not only did everyone feel like it was a true ''Metroid'' game, it and its two sequels are generally considered to be among the greatest games in series, plus regular contenders in "top 100 games of all time" lists.
*** According to Yoshio Sakamoto, ''VideoGame/SuperMetroid'' was nearly canned not one, not two, but ''three times''. And its biggest detractor was its producer and series creator, Gunpei Yokoi. He often angrily asked the team "Are you trying to make a goddamn masterpiece?" ''Super Metroid'' is now regarded as [[SacredCow the pinnacle of the series]], if not the entire {{Metroidvania}} genre, with overwhelming praise for everything from the gameplay and level design to its atmosphere and [[ShowDontTell minimalist visual storytelling]], and has topped numerous lists of the best games of all time. Yokoi himself eventually came to see it as a reference of exactly what a good game should be. The main reason an N64 Metroid game was never made was primarily because [[ToughActToFollow no one had the confidence that they could make a worthy successor]].
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'' introduced a radical ArtShift to a new cel-shaded style that was met with massive backlash on reveal; the FanNickname "Celda" was used derogatorily. This is especially due to a prior showcase of the UsefulNotes/NintendoGameCube's hardware having footage of Link and Ganondorf fighting in an updated version of the relatively realistic style used in the UsefulNotes/{{Nintendo 64}} games. Plus, Nintendo's stigma of making games mostly for kids and families was beginning to hurt them, as their [[UsefulNotes/PS2 new]] [[UsefulNotes/{{Xbox}} competitors]] focused more on the teen and young adult demographic. However, upon release, it was became one of the system's most popular titles. ''The Wind Waker'' is now considered one of the best games in the franchise, and a number of future ''Legend of Zelda'' titles would go on to use the same art style.
** The UsefulNotes/NintendoDS and UsefulNotes/NintendoWii were both expected to be failures with terrible gimmicks by both critics and fans before release. The Nintendo DS was expected to be surpassed by the UsefulNotes/{{PSP}}, and many thought the Wii would force Nintendo to leave the console market like UsefulNotes/{{Sega}} did the previous generation. The former went on to become the top-selling handheld dedicated game system of all time. The latter went on to become the company's best-selling home console and outsold its competitors by a far margin as well.
** Considering that sales for the ''VideoGame/FireEmblem'' franchise had been on the decline for years, Creator/IntelligentSystems considered it a very real possibility that ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'' would be their last FE game ever. It went on to be the most successful game in the entire ''franchise'', both critically and financially, especially in West. This led to ''Fire Emblem'' becoming one of one of the big hitters of Intelligent Systems.
** While the game immediately gained attention from its first trailer at UsefulNotes/{{E3}} 2014, there was a lot of skepticism about the first ''VideoGame/{{Splatoon}}'''s chance of success. It was a new intellectual property during a period where established franchises were the status quo. It was LighterAndSofter than every other shooter on the market. Creator/{{Nintendo}} had rarely worked on games in the shooter genre prior to ''Splatoon'', and they had never made a game where the core focus was online play. As a Nintendo game, it was releasing solely on the severely under-performing UsefulNotes/WiiU, whose small audience likely didn't have any interest in the shooter genre. And despite being an online mutliplayer game, the developers staunchly refused to support voice chat. You'd be forgiven for thinking that it would be a niche title at best. [[SleeperHit But then it sold 1 million copies in a month]]. [[http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=169576814&postcount=92 Cue the wall of shame.]] Nintendo quickly labeled it as one of its most important franchises, with the even greater success of [[VideoGame/Splatoon2 its sequel]] two years later further cementing this status. And you want to take a guess where the franchise is most popular? ''Japan''.[[note]]The shooter genre, despite being popular in the West and neighboring countries like South Korea, is ''extremely'' [[AmericansHateTingle niche in Japan]]. The fact that a game in that genre not only sold well enough in the region for its developer to ''apologize for not shipping enough copies'', but also stay in the Top 5 on sales charts for three straight months is mindblowing.[[/note]]
** On paper, ''VideoGame/FireEmblemHeroes'' is a game with plenty of factors stacked against it. It's a [[AllegedlyFreeGame Gachapon]], a genre that is not held in high regard among Western players. It is published by a company whose previous mobile offerings have struggled to maintain long-term support and relevance, something vital for a Gachapon. The core gameplay's simplification of mainline ''Fire Emblem'' games doesn't satisfy hardcore fans, while the ''Fire Emblem'' brand isn't quite mainstream enough to pull in casual players. And yet in spite of all that, it is highly successful worldwide thanks to its careful application of RevenueEnhancingDevices making free-to-play or budget conscious players valid, while also providing a surprising level of depth when it comes to building your team. It also won over weary fans by being a celebration of the franchise as a whole.
** The concept of a ''[[Franchise/SuperMarioBros Mario]]'' and ''VideoGame/RavingRabbids'' crossover, which latter became ''VideoGame/MarioPlusRabbidsKingdomBattle'', was thought to be so stupid that initial leaks concerning the game were instantly disregarded. When it became clear that this game was legitimate, there was instant skepticism about how good this game could possibly be. Then the game's E3 reveal showcased well thought-out TurnBasedStrategy gameplay similar to the ''[[VideoGame/XCOMEnemyUnknown XCOM]]'' games and humour on par with the ''Mario'' [=RPGs=], putting most gripes to rest. The game received good reviews and is currently the best selling third-party game on the Switch.
** After the relative flop of the UsefulNotes/WiiU, people were skeptical about the UsefulNotes/NintendoSwitch's chances of success. While the concept was interesting, there were those that were doubtful there was a market for what was essentially a gaming tablet with TV Out. The reveal of the Joy-Con's HD Rumble function and ''VideoGame/OneTwoSwitch'' also had people wondering if Nintendo was just trying to recapture the Wii audience again with a bunch of gimmicks. But thanks to a [[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaBreathOfTheWild steady]] [[VideoGame/MarioKart8 stream]] [[VideoGame/{{ARMS}} of]] [[VideoGame/Splatoon2 first]]-[[VideoGame/SuperMarioOdyssey party]] [[VideoGame/XenobladeChronicles2 releases]] during its first year and the allure of being able to play various AAA and indie games both new and old on-the-go, the system went on to surpass the lifetime sales of the Wii U ''in its first year''.
* Combining Creator/{{Square|Enix}} and Creator/{{Disney}}'s ability to pull this off, when people first heard about ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'', a game where a Square character travels through the worlds of various Disney movies with Donald and Goofy, most people thought it was going to be a quirky kids game and that's it. Instead it was a huge success and became Square's second biggest series (right under ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'').
* [[VideoGame/MegaMan1 The first game]] in the ''Franchise/MegaMan'' franchise didn't do so well, but the devs still wanted to make a sequel. Creator/{{Capcom}} gave them permission to do so only if they did so in their spare time. Cue ''VideoGame/MegaMan2'', and the rest is history.
* Sony didn't bother to publish ''VideoGame/DemonsSouls'' themselves as a first-party [[UsefulNotes/PlayStation3 PS3]] title in the west because they thought it wouldn't sell well. ''Demon's Souls'' wasn't just published by Sony's Japanese division; the game was co-developed by SCE Japan Studio. Luckily, publishers like Creator/{{Atlus}} and Creator/BandaiNamcoEntertainment picked up the title, and the rest was history. ''Demon's Souls'' ended up as a big SleeperHit in 2009 and, much to Sony's surprise, received positive reviews from both gamers and the press. For a lightly-marketed game, it sold more than 150,000 units in its first month alone. Sony to this day regrets not publishing ''Demon's Souls'' themselves in the west and losing out on a potential first-party KillerApp.
* ''Franchise/SpyroTheDragon'' fans and critics alike thought ''VideoGame/{{Skylanders}}'' would be a bomb. Instead it's become a CashCowFranchise that has more than surpassed the original ''Spyro'' games, with over 700 million dollars in sales and several titles.
* The ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' series' creator, Shu Takumi got told his idea of a lawyer main character would fall flat on its face. Judging from the number of sequels, additional media, and fan bases, it's clear that Takumi had the last laugh.
* Very few journalists and gamers were initially optimistic about ''VideoGame/MiddleEarthShadowOfMordor'' beating TheProblemWithLicensedGames. For one thing, it was announced around the time that audiences were getting sick of ''Franchise/TheLordOfTheRings'', thanks to mixed response to ''Film/TheHobbit''. For another, early gameplay previews made it look suspiciously similar to ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed'' (complete with a Tolkien-flavored version of Eagle Sight), to the point that many gamers accused it of being an outright clone. Not to mention that the developer spent so much time hyping up the Enemy Hierarchy mechanic that it made gamers roll their eyes, sure that it couldn't possibly be as open-ended as it looked in the trailers. But in the end? Though it took some clear inspiration from other games, ''Shadow of Mordor'' was roundly praised for its engaging combat and original story, and the Hierarchy system was praised as one of its best ideas; Orcs really ''did'' remember past encounters, level up after fights, advance in rank, and even [[EnemyCivilWar challenge other Orcs in exploitable power struggles]].
* ''VideoGame/Doom2016'' had all the hallmarks of a bad reboot: a generic "guy with gun" cover, a disappointing multiplayer beta showing off the undoubted ''weakest'' portion of the game, no input from Carmack or Romero, Denuvo DRM on the PC, and no mod support. A [[NotScreenedForCritics lack of advance review copies from Bethesda]] seemed to suggest not even the publisher had any faith in what was by now all but a confirmed flop. Yet, its single-player campaign alone carried the title to win multiple "Game of the Year" awards.
* Reaction to ''VideoGame/WatchDogs2'' was mixed, largely due to memories of HypeBacklash from [[VideoGame/WatchDogs the first game]], and many thought that players would largely avoid the franchise's second outing. At first, that seemed to be the case, with sales being nowhere near that of the first game. But then word of mouth got out about how much of a SurprisinglyImprovedSequel it was, and the game managed to have good long-term sales that resulted in Creator/{{Ubisoft}} announcing that they were happy with the game's performance, even adding a SequelHook in a post-release patch.
* ''VideoGame/LifeIsStrange'' was a video game with a female protagonist, very little {{Fanservice}}, a focus on relationships, and only a minimum of gaming goes against the stereotypical views of video game requirements for success in every single way. Instead, it was a critical and financial success that turned out to be one of the sleeper hits of 2015.
* ''VideoGame/{{Hiveswap}}'' was attacked by two sides before release. On one side, you've got the people who despise [[Webcomic/{{Homestuck}} the source material]] and [[FanHater its fans]], and they just want the series to fade into irrelevance. On the other side of the spectrum, you have the cynical ''Homestuck'' fans who expected the game to be the next ''VideoGame/MightyNo9'' in that it would be an ambitious yet disappointing Website/{{Kickstarter}} game riddled with [[ScheduleSlip delays]] and TroubledProduction, and that it would further tarnish the webcomic's reputation. Once it released, it turned out to be an enjoyable text-based adventure game that both ''Homestuck'' fans and non-fans could enjoy.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''Podcast/RandomAssault'': The podcast had many naysayers back when it was starting out on the Games Radar forums, especially with people thinking of them as a PCN-Gen rip-off.
* The DVD commentary of WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic's ''Pixels'' review had Rob mocking anti-clipless people by saying the episode was the second highest viewed on the Website/YouTube page, and that all the other clipless reviews have done really well regarding hits too.
* [[CrazyAwesome This is one of]] [[{{WebVideo/Muselk}} Muselk]]'s main sources of humor. Strats like the [[{{VideoGame/Overwatch}} sexy Junkrat and surprise Bastion]] were admonished by his friends for being useless and foolish, but worked insanely well for quite a while until the fanbase caught on.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars''; it was expected to fail so hard due to the [[TheyChangedItNowItSucks massive amount of changes]] to the ''{{Transformers}}'' formula, the FanDumb cry of "[[MemeticMutation Trukk not Munky!]]" is burned into all Transfans' minds. Turns out, the quality of the show probably saved the franchise from dying out, and became the standard for what all future western-made ''Transformers'' would be based on.
* An [[WesternAnimation/Castlevania2017 animated series]] based on the ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' games seemed like it would be too niche to attract a sizable audience, if not suffer the [[VideoGameMoviesSuck usual reputation]] of game adaptations, nevermind that the idea had been shopped around and trapped in DevelopmentHell for a decade. To nearly everyone's surprise, the show turned about to be a notable success with that was faithful to the source material while adding its own twists, featuring violence and dark themes that not only wasn't watered down from the games, but also went further than any game had previously. The only major complaint was its short length, confirmed as a pilot for a longer story. Thankfully, its strong reception ensured it a second season a day after it went up, with it later confirmed that said season would be twice as long as the first one, answering the major complaint.
* ''WesternAnimation/ACharlieBrownChristmas'' was considered almost radioactive by Creator/{{CBS}}. To them, an animated special with actual children doing the voices, a jazz soundtrack, and a Bible recitation seemed a ludicrous recipe for TV disaster. Instead, it became the ''greatest'' ChristmasSpecial of them all.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' had a lot stacked against it. Aside from being the next incarnation of [[Franchise/MyLittlePony a franchise]] viewed as the embodiment of the kind of TastesLikeDiabetes stuff aimed at little girls that was ripe for all kinds of SnarkBait, long-time fans of the Creator/CraigMcCracken-Creator/GenndyTartakovsky group, as well as television critics, were skeptical it would be anything more than your standard, bland MerchandiseDriven cartoon, with some even pointing to it as being the herald to [[https://www.cartoonbrew.com/ideas-commentary/the-end-of-the-creator-driven-era-29614.html the end of the "creator-driven" era of TV animation]]. On top of that, this was to be a flagship show on the fledgling network Creator/TheHub, a channel co-owned by the toy company Hasbro. The show's creator Creator/LaurenFaust also received a lot of harsh words from every corner of the internet about selling out and her supposed lack of artistic integrity, to the point where she feared the show would flop and this would be her CreatorKiller. Despite this vitriol, or perhaps because of it, the show wound up succeeding with not only its target audience, but also breaking out of the GirlShowGhetto by gaining a large PeripheryDemographic nobody expected, not only boosting a dying toy franchise back into popularity, but also allowing The Hub (now known as Discovery Family) to be seen as a real contender for the likes of Creator/CartoonNetwork and Creator/{{Nickelodeon}}.
** This was the reaction to the spin-off ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyEquestriaGirls2013'', due it being a HighSchoolAU of Franchise/MyLittlePony... ''[[HumanityEnsues without]]'' the ponies. Things only seemed to get worse as pictures of the [[UncannyValley prototype dolls and stock art]] leaked, with more than one person crying that the parent show was RuinedForever and that it would be a FranchiseKiller. Instead, it became a big enough hit to warrant multiple sequels that each received [[GrowingTheBeard better reception than the last]], with the BigBad (and later HeroProtagonist) of the spinoff franchise becoming a fan favourite character.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'': The test screening for the first pilot was [[https://youtu.be/MKEfQGoviQQ?t=20m18s an absolute disaster]], with children complaining about the unusual character designs and one even going as far as to say that creator Craig [=McCracken=] should be fired. Craig went to work redesigning the characters with more traditional features, but then-president of Creator/CartoonNetwork and future Creator/AdultSwim founder Mike Lazzo reassured him that a negative reaction was better than a lukewarm reaction, and that they shouldn't change a thing. The kid that called for his termination would later serve as the inspiration for [[TakeThat the show's bully Mitch Mitchelson]].
* A Christmas television special using stop-motion puppets was a strange concept on the part of Creator/{{NBC}} and Creator/{{Rankin Bass|Productions}}, the studio they hired to make ''WesternAnimation/RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer''. Instead of being completely ignored, however, ''Rudolph'' proved to be a huge hit and a staple of the holiday season.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** When Creator/MattGroening was invited to pitch a series of animated shorts for ''Series/TheTraceyUllmanShow'', he got cold feet and made up a pitch on the spot about a sitcom family with the names of his parents and siblings rather than take a chance on allowing his ''ComicStrip/LifeInHell'' characters to be tied to a failure. When he first met up with the animators to work on the first short for the ''The Tracey Ullman Show'', they reckoned that it would take around two weeks to complete... and that they would get about three weeks of work out of the entire project before it was shelved. Then...
** Very few people expected ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' to make a successful transition from skits on ''Series/TheTraceyUllmanShow'' to half-hour show of its own. Even Matt Groening was having doubts on its first season, and was threatening to have it canceled since he was having issues with the animation. Despite that, ''The Simpsons'' remains the longest-running sitcom in America, a universal favorite (it's been dubbed and subtitled in a lot of languages), a CashCowFranchise, and a critical favorite, both adored by the general public and critics.
* ''WesternAnimation/SonicBoom'' had a massively long road ahead of it. Fans were already weary of the franchise due to the significant character design changes, especially to Sonic and Knuckles. Then, came the release of ''[[VideoGame/SonicBoom Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and Shattered Crystal]]'', both of which were critically and commercially panned. '''Especially''' ''Rise of Lyric'', due to it being an ObviousBeta. Then [[ComicBook/SonicBoom the comic series]] found itself cancelled just as [[ComicBook/SonicTheHedgehogMegaManWorldsUnite a crossover they were involved in was getting started]], the final issue being released after the crossover was completed. To many mainstream Sonic fans, the cartoon was the last piece that needed to fail before Sega could finally do away with this incarnation of the franchise and get back to "their" Sonic. Surprisingly, the series did well enough on Creator/CartoonNetwork, to gain a second season on sister channel Creator/{{Boomerang}}. The series is now considered by many to be the only redeemable part of the "Boom" experiment, next to the aforementioned cancelled comic, thanks to its surprisingly witty dialogue and character portrayals.
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' of all things, started out miserably when Creator/TreyParkerAndMattStone's tiny cult hit joke-animated short "The Spirit Of Christmas" got picked up for a pilot. The first episode "[[Recap/SouthParkS1E1CartmanGetsAnAnalProbe Cartman Gets An Anal Probe]]" was completed and submitted. It was pounded into the ground by test audiences who were baffled by the (intentionally) terrible animation, the juxtaposition of cute characters spewing heavily censored vulgarities in steady streams, and the overall bizarre nature of the plot. It was deemed a complete and utter failure and Creator/ComedyCentral was very unconvinced that ''South Park'' had any future, but still encouraged Matt & Trey to create a few more episodes such as "Weight Gain 4000". These too, did not impress the network, and many people thought the show was directionless. With much hesitancy and uncertainty they aired the shows. While mainstream critics even were very slow to warm up to the show, they eventually did, and it became a more impressive hit than Comedy Central expected. However, major problems and waning fan interest after only Season 2 (a season Matt & Trey have gone on to say was their absolute worst season) they figured that South Park was all but finished. During Season 3, they produced ''WesternAnimation/SouthParkBiggerLongerAndUncut'', while being faced with immense ExecutiveMeddling from both Creator/{{Paramount}} and the MPAA, they figured the movie would flop miserably and would be their triumphant last hurrah. Instead it was critically acclaimed and a box office success and brought more attention to the show. Cut to today, where ''South Park'''s renewed contracts with Comedy Central will take the series up to ''twenty-three'' complete seasons.
* Before ''WesternAnimation/{{Unikitty}}'' aired, many detractors expressed worry, especially considering it was advertised as being from people who worked on ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitansGo'' (in reality, just the same animation development team, though Aaron Horvath is a staff member), but it has proven to be good to many people and profitable for the network.