Audience-Alienating Premise

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Cracked explains a textbook example.

"I simply don't care a damn what happens in Nebraska, no matter who writes about it."
A now-forgotten critic on the book O Pioneers!

Some shows never stood a chance. Not necessarily because they're bad, but because the very concept scared people away. This is the Audience Alienating Premise. An idea that could be cool and could even make a fantastic show, book, movie, video game or comic, and may very well have, but which instead dooms the work from the very start due to the mere concept being a difficult sell. Sadly, due to how it "sounds", many people won't try it out.

This can play out in the inherent struggles with trying to get people excited with niche genres (horror films with Squick and Nausea Fuel), foreign material that doesn't translate well (comedies with puns based on the native language), genres that were killed off some time ago (blaxploitation can only exist today in parody), adaptations of an existing property with a built in stigma (Peter Pan is for kids because of the Disney movie), trying to appeal to too many demographics at the same time (making only that part of the film intelligible to its target audience) or the execution itself takes things in an unexpected direction.

Note that this is not a judgement call on the work itself. Marketing itself can be entirely at fault, trying to sell it as something more generic when it has plenty of other qualities to offer. Sometimes attempts to mimic styles popular from other cultures comes off as too different for audiences to understand and appreciate, even though it is a fine example of that genre in its own right. In many cases an oddball work is shunned on release only to become a Cult Classic, often being either Vindicated by Video or Vindicated by Cable. Simply having an off-sounding premise doesn't immediately qualify for this trope, as sometimes a movie inspired by 1930's pulp space adventures or psychedelic rock with horror themes ends up being wildly successful anyway. Compare that to It Will Never Catch On.

Oscar Bait films in general tend to have this problem. Which would you rather see, a fun superhero action flick or yet another depressing period drama about The Holocaust?

A Sadist Show or Black Comedy is also this trope by definition, as a lot of people do not appreciate cruelty or certain other themes being played for laughs. A Grossout Show also falls under this, obviously. The Establishing Series Moment can naturally deter an audience as well as it can grab one.

Compare Germans Love David Hasselhoff when a work winds up much more popular in another country due to differences in tastes and Values Resonance. When the alienated audience is in another country, it's Americans Hate Tingle. This is usually attributable to Values Dissonance. Public Medium Ignorance is works which suffer from a strong tendency to be audience alienating.

Could also overlap with Necessary Weasel, and Anthropic Principle. A Genre Buster, unless it's exceptionally well-done, will often meet this fate, simply because there just isn't enough of any one genre in it for genre-lovers. Contrast Dancing Bear, where the oddness of the premise attracts interest rather than discouraging it. Also, in many ways the opposite of Multiple Demographic Appeal; in fact, an Audience Alienating Premise is sometimes the result of trying to cater to different kinds of audience and failing to attract any.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan. Bear with us here: an angel comes back in time to repeatedly and brutally murder (and promptly reanimate) a junior high student, in order to stop him from creating a 'pedophile's world' where all females are immortal by not aging past 12 years old. And it's a COMEDY!
  • Elfen Lied at least attempts to pose thought-provoking questions about nature vs. nurture and unethical science (albeit rather hamhandedly). To anyone walking in, however, it's just a gory series about little girls being tortured. You're lucky if they don't think of you as a sadistic pedophile. Although tempting, using this series to demonstrate that anime is not always for children is just as likely to backfire as anything else, since people will simply jump to the other extreme.
  • Keijo!!!!!!!! suffered this, particularly in the west. The setting is a world where a sport called Keijo is really popular, the sports premise: girls in a pool fight to stay on floating platforms called "lands" while pushing those of the opposing team, but they can't use their arms or legs to push them away, so they must use their boobs and asses. Yes, the sport is entirely based around girls smashing their boobs and asses against each other while wearing bathing suits. The sheer idea of such a Fanservice driven plot and the ridiculousness of the premise of the sport put off possible readers.
  • Koi Kaze is an angsty romance about a 27-year-old man who, while on the rebound from breaking up with his girlfriend, finds himself attracted to a 15-year-old girl he met on the subway. Then, at the end of the first episode, when he and she are about to bid each other farewell and go their separate ways, they suddenly discover that she's that long-forgotten sister of his who's coming to live with him in order to cut down on the commute time to her new high school. The next twelve episodes concern how they deal with the growing temptations of a mutual attraction between them. While it's since been considered an excellent examination of how this sort of situation might play out realistically, people who might otherwise appreciate a story about a forbidden romance generally aren't too fond of Brother-Sister Incest, considering that it's forbidden for some awfully good reasons. Meanwhile, the kind of readers who think of incest as Fetish Fuel mostly can't appreciate Koi Kaze either, since it really is a romance and not a Hentai; there's not even any real Fanservice, and what little sex there is all takes place off screen.
  • Kore Wa Koi No Hanashi has its love story revolve around an author and a schoolgirl... with a 21 year age difference between the two. Even with the pace of their potential relationship being very, very slow and nothing heading into a raunchy area, the idea alone can make people avoid reading it, in fear of being labeled a pedophile since it begins with the girl being only 10 years old.
  • Lyrical Nanoha. A Magical Girl series aimed specifically at young adult males. While this unique approach may work in Japan, it's a different matter in the west. Most adult male anime fans in the U.S. would take one good look at the cutesy imagery on Nanoha's DVD and run for cover. Magical girl fans, on the other hand, take one look at the fanservice of nine-year-olds (which even much of the Nanoha fanbase dislikes) and wonder why the creators weren't given a cease-and-desist order. As it stands, the licensors have passed on bringing anymore of Nanoha to American shores… and it looks like it'll stay that way for the foreseeable future. Maybe if they used a different type of cover, it'd be more acceptable considering Nanoha is less "Magical Girl series" and more "Action-packed mecha series disguised as a cute Magical Girl series".
  • Maria†Holic. The series is about a sadistic double-faced crossdresser who torments and abuses a perverted lesbian teenager at an all girls school. And it's never really clear which one of the two we're supposed to side with. It hasn't fared well with many people, especially in the U.S. and other countries. It's been praised for some of its comedy writing, but pretty much nothing else, and the English translation of the manga flopped and was discontinued after a few volumes.
  • The Negima! franchise gives us Negiho: Mahora Little Girls, in which Negi is a young man and the girls are five years old. Although the Fanservice (or maybe Fan Disservice in this case) was definitely toned down, according to The Other Wiki, reviewers still considered the series to be creepy and questioned whether a preschool comedy adventure could appeal to fans of the original series. This manga was cancelled after one volume.
  • While Neon Genesis Evangelion has a sizable fanbase, its identity as a dark deconstruction of Super Robot Genre can potentially drive one type of audience or another off. Those who want a typical Super Robot show will be driven off by the show's unrelenting darkness and focus on character drama (or rather the absurd amounts of Dysfunction Junction). Those who want character drama may not like the fact that said character drama depends greatly on demolishing Super Robot tropes. A third camp consists of individuals who come to see the show because it defined a certain approach to Mecha Anime. However, even this group may be indifferent to Evangelion's approach given how other more modern series like Bokurano and Puella Magi Madoka Magica copied much of its deconstructive approach, causing the show falling into Seinfeld Is Unfunny territory.
  • Spice and Wolf. It's about late medieval/renaissance commerce (with grounding in economics). You try getting people to watch it. The way they did try to sell it was emphasizing the initial nakedness of the female lead, which had the side effect of making it look (to anime fans) like a Magical Girlfriend series ala To Love-Ru, which it isn't.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica exploited this trope by starting off disguised as a mostly normal-looking cutesy Magical Girl show, causing many people to stop watching it in disgust before the real, much darker premise took shape. But, of course, once everyone learned what the show was actually about, the trope got played straight, since some of the people who actually like cutesy magical-girl shows didn't have any interest in watching a Darker and Edgier version.
  • Wandering Son portrays puberty and LGBT issues — especially transgender ones — quite seriously. This puts off many people since it's outside of their comfort zone or they're so used to comedies about the subject. And people who want to read a transgender story might be turned off by the fact that one of the kids is revealed to not be trans near the end.
  • Takako Shimura (the creator of the above Wandering Son) has a history of this apparently. A lot of Girls Love fans will complain Aoi Hana is "too boring". It's more of a manga about a lesbian than a lesbian romance series.
  • Princess Tutu is about a duck who turns into a girl who turns into a Magical Girl Ballerina Princess. At least it managed a strong female fanbase early, but the title alone gave it trouble establishing a Periphery Demographic. The reaction to the premise and title gave rise to a common saying in anime fandoms: "You have to use physical force to make your friends watch Princess Tutu, but once they watch it, they love it." The series has since gained a ton of praise by critics once they experience it, but its still a hard sell to get people to watch it at all at first.
  • Sankarea is about a boy with an unhealthy zombie fixation, and a suicidal girl who tests his experimental reanimation serum, dies, comes back as a zombie, and becomes his girlfriend. Yep.
  • Mysterious Girlfriend X is the story of a high school boy who becomes addicted to the new transfer student's saliva. As in, he licks it off her desk in the first episode. Interested yet?
  • Sometimes is the case in attempting to localize works from Japan to America, where cuteness and sexualization are aligned much more in the former than in the latter. For example, Bottle Fairy, which is aggressively cute, but also panders to the Moe crowd in such a way that makes western viewers uncomfortable. In fact, the sudden moe boom in the later 2000's and The New Tens are frequently cited as the cause for anime falling out of public interest and entering what many consider to be a Dork Age for nearly a decade.
  • Houou Gakuen Misoragumi: A girl is sent to an all-boy school by her mother in an attempt to prevent her from becoming a lesbian and not giving her any grandkids. The story is on the mother's side. And did we mention that nearly everyone in the school abuses her and treats her like shit? Cure Your Gays (but just lesbians, Ho Yay is portrayed in-story as perfectly fine and even hot) played totally straight… written by a woman. The American publisher put one volume out before pulling it in the face of massive protests.
  • Kotoura-san. It's an adaptation of a yonkoma Romantic Comedy where the guy is a pervert and the girl is a Broken Bird telepath with Abusive Parents. This put people off to begin with. Strangely inverted when the series actually aired, though; the opening of the first episode, with a backstory montage of how the female lead lost her hope halting and crashing headlong into funny antics courtesy of the male lead, actually drew a lot of people to watch.
  • The Pet Girl of Sakurasou: A boy meets genius girl with an Ambiguous Disorder and No Social Skills. Despite getting surprisingly positive reviews, many refuse to watch it due to how incredibly misogynistic (and to some, ableist) the premise sounds at first glance, especially since some summaries describe her relationship as being his "pet". In reality he and a few of the other characters are essentially her care takers.
  • Haou Airen is a bloody, graphic series about a girl kidnapped by a Hong Kong gang leader to be his Sex Slave and who becomes horribly broken. It's also a smutty shoujo romance. Viz Media reportedly dropped its license of it for this very reason.
    • Most of Mayu Shinjo's works are this. It's the main reason only a small chunk of her works have ever been translated and/or licensed.
  • Transformers Kiss Players. On the surface, it appears to be a Transformers series where the Transformers are powered by kisses of little girls, but further inspection reveals imagery that borders on Hentai and teenage girls that look a fraction of their age. While this is not the first time many Western fans have been confused by the fiction the Japanese side produces, this is the first time where they have been so disgusted by them that they outright refused to take a look. Japanese fans, meanwhile, were deeply embarrassed by it and feared it would irreversibly color Western perceptions of Japanese Transformers media. Even the entry on TFWiki.net seems disgusted by the premise.
  • This is probably why Mitsudomoe flopped so miserably, at least in Japan (in the US it's a borderline Cult Classic). The crude, childish nature of the show put off otaku, while the otaku-targeted advertising and merchandise scared off most other potential audiences (and made some believe it was a lolicon show).
  • Hanamaru Kindergarten. The toddler-aged main characters turned off adult viewers, while the use of mature humor and themes made it unsuitable for kids. The target audience seems to be "otaku who want to experience early childhood nostalgia" which isn't a big demographic at all.
  • This happens to Samurai Flamenco where a lot of viewers thought the show is like Kick-Ass meets Kamen Rider due to the first six episodes of a vigilante trying to be a hero and beating up thugs. Then, episode 7 onwards came with the introduction of villains and monsters straight out from the Tokusatsu and Super Sentai shows. Viewers who are unfamiliar with these genres started to drop the show and those who are still watching it are Tokusatsu fans and those who want to watch it just for fun.
  • Rika is a manga about a middle school boy, Kazuya, who shares a bedroom in his family's small Tokyo apartment, with his younger sister, the titular Rika. Normal so far. Then we find out that Kazuya masturbates while his sister is changing, without her knowledge. Then we learn that Rika has romantic feelings for her brother, which they eventually confess to one another. It makes the Kissing Cousins plot that comes up later seem tame by comparison.
  • Kodomo No Kodomo is an obscure manga about a young girl who loses her virginity and gets pregnant… while she's still in elementary school. That alone should tell you why it's obscure. (The father happens to be another elementary schooler, but that does virtually nothing to lessen the squick.) It's been criticized by those who actually have read it for portraying a disturbing and horrifying situation as something whimsical and innocent… and even if you could stomach that premise and try to read it, the eyestrainingly-horrible art style would put you off anyway. It also somehow got adapted to film. Said film is also unsurprisingly obscure.
  • Most of Kazuo Koike's works are this:
  • Upotte is a Slice of Life manga/show about an academy anthropomorphized guns. Anime viewers who like moe will be put off by the guns, and gun fans will most likely be put off by the moe. The Fanservice and sexualization of the female cast doesn't help matters, either. Only those who can appreciate — or tolerate — all three elements will be able to watch/read this show/manga.
  • The manga Saikin Imouto No Yousu Ga Chotto Okashiinda Ga is about a girl who gets forced by a bi-sexual Cute Ghost Girl to wear a chastity belt and fill a "Feeling Gauge" attached to it regularly, mainly by doing things that are embarrassing and involve her step brother, so a staircase in heaven can appear and allow the ghost girl to finally move on. Oh, should she refuse, she dies. And it's all played for pure Fanservice. And when it aired it was blasted for the sheer amount of Dude, Not Funny!.
  • This may have been part of the reason why Heat Guy J never achieved much widespread popularity. It looks like a straightforward sci-fi buddy cop-style action series, as opposed to the serious drama it actually is. As a result, many people wrote it off as just another buddy-cop action show, and those who watched it because they liked straightforward action shows came away underwhelmed.
  • The manga Lotte no Omocha is a story about a strapping young man who is tricked by elves into moving to another world, specifically so a 10-year-old succubus can have sex with him for the rest of his life. Trying to talk about it generally goes like this: "It's a story about a man becoming a surrogate father—" "Wait. Isn't that the one with the ten-year-old succubus?" "Yeah, but—" "Ten-year-old. Succubus."
  • Kodomo no Jikan is about a pre-pubescent girl who falls in love with her teacher, and acts overtly sexual to get his attention, which you wouldn't expect to do well in the US. It didn't get a chance to — it was canceled when the licensing company learned how bookstores and distributors would react: by canceling orders. In much of the Western world, owning something like this could theoretically get you thrown in jail. The US release was also slated to have the audience-alienating title of "Nymphet", which was requested by the author since Seven Seas couldn't use the original [translated] title of "A Child's Time". The series also deals very bluntly with touchy subjects such as incest/Wife Husbandry, sexual development in children, and hitting puberty abnormally early, which probably alienated readers even further.
    • A kickstarter was later founded and completed to bring the whole series to America regardless of what happened the last time. One wonders how well this would go...
  • kiss×sis is an over-the-top harem comedy that goes as far as it can possibly go without actually being considered porn. The premise — boy's twin stepsisters have obsessive crushes on him — alienates a lot of people, but that's the least offensive by a fair margin. Blatant fanservice, shameless playing to the fetishes, Toilet Humour presented as hot... going into too much detail would be a bad idea, so we'll just leave it at that.
  • Sugar Sugar Rune is a little girls Magical Girl show that also has a surprisingly dark plot and tries to raise questions about semi-serious topics such as love and femininity (with mixed results). It also suffers badly from Most Writers Are Adults, which can be off-putting for a lot of people. Possibly because of this it never really became popular outside Japan and faded into obscurity there after it ended.
  • No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! is a Mood Whiplash-filled comedy about a severely anti-social and messed-up girl who tries to become popular but usually fails horribly at everything she does. While slightly more popular in the US, the anime flopped in Japan.
  • Haiyore! Nyarko-san, which has the delightfully insane premise of Cthulhu Mythos meets Unwanted Harem. Viewers who aren't Lovecraft fans won't get all the references worked into the story, while viewers who are may be put off by the fact that those references are really the only connection to Lovecraft's work — or worse, as some fans have been outright offended by the show's Lighter and Softer and claim it makes Lovecraft spin in his grave.
  • Ro-Kyu-Bu! is a basketball series with well-written friendship drama but also with Moe designs taken Up to Eleven and lots of Cos Play Fanservice and lolicon subtext. Fans of either probably wouldn't care much for the respective other. Because of this trope no company seems willing to release it in the US. The second season takes it a step up in that the female lead who is in sixth grade has feelings for the male lead who is in late highschool and from what is depicted it is not the kind of innocent crush one would expect either.
  • Soul Eater Not!. Fans of the original Soul Eater disliked the Genre Shift to school Slice of Life, while fans of that genre probably will be turned off by the connection to an action-horror-comedy.
  • Teacher's Pet is an obscure manga about a teacher who gets horrifically sexually abused by one of her students. And it's a smutty josei. Sound fun?
  • The reason Assassination Classroom took so long to receive an official English localization was because the localizers assumed that it was not going to fly high in America and other countries with histories of student rampage (like the Columbine massacre) — even if it is a lighthearted comedy about a space alien — because the plot does revolve around training a classroom to kill their teacher with guns and grenades. Once it did get released, however, this trope was happily averted, and the series has been a fixture on the New York Times manga bestseller list ever since.
  • The manga Shiritsu Hakanai Gakuen, note  is about an unremarkable Elaborate University High and its students daily life. The Dancing Bear of the series is that at the start, panties are outlawed by the newly-elected Cloudcuckoolander Student Council President.
  • Manga and magazines adhering to the Otokonoko Genre generally have short runs because of this trope: a Wholesome Crossdresser or two is always a main character and the stories are filled with cutesy Ho Yay yet are aimed at a straight male audience. It rarely works out. On the other hand, people that like Boys Love are often turned off by the fact the stories are often fanservice filled comedies with little substance, or the fact the protagonists are "too feminine", to the point that the stories usually regard them as female.
  • Many viewers who watched the first episode of Black Bullet got turned off with Enju (a 10 year old loli) hitting on Rentaro (a 16-year-old teenage boy) with the notion of a grimdark Lolicon action series. Of course there's more to it than that, but that is one hell of a barrier.
  • This is the most likely reason why One Piece has such difficulty reaching western audiences. Western shonen anime fans tend towards anime because it's not like western media. One Piece, however, looks substantially more western and makes liberal use of Tex Avery-style Cartoon Physics, especially in its over-the-top promotional artwork. Because One Piece looks so much like western animation, this turns a lot of western shonen anime fans off of the series before even trying it. And that's not even mentioning the number of episodes. The concept of One Piece also isn't typically Japanese—pirates. Many fans of shonen anime read and watch manga and anime because they like Japanese cultural concepts like ninjas or samurais.
    • The other majorly cited reason why One Piece had issues reaching western audiences is because of its first attempt doing so, the infamous 4Kids Entertainment dub. One Piece, despite having a seemingly childish premise, still has some very adult-oriented aspects (at least to the west; Japan doesn't put as much stock into child censorship, making this a case of Values Dissonance). 4Kids got rights to One Piece as part of a deal to get Shaman King, and were horrified at what they had acquired and the fact that they were contractually obligated to dub it and broadcast it. End result: the dub was Bowdlerised so badly that it quickly lost any steam it had in the west and turned off any potential fans for several years. Only now, almost a decade afterwards with 4Kids long dead and Funimation in possession of distribution rights, is the damage being reversed.
    • It should be noted though that some Seinen anime series like Cowboy Bebop and The Big O are very popular in the West despite (or because of) having adult-orientated aspects and western animation styles. Had the One Piece been aired unbowlderized and aimed at older audiences and fans of western animation, it might have been more successful. If anything, One Piece has been gaining more popularity in the west ever since it was released unedited by Funimation and aired on the revived late-night Toonami alongside the aforementioned Cowboy Bebop and The Big O.
  • Oreimo is basically known as the incest anime, even though a lot of it is more Incest Subtext then canonical. This premise has weirded out and turned off many. Especially after it turns out that the siblings really do go for each other in the ending. Sure, it's right there in the title, but still...
  • The Familiar of Zero is an unusual case in that it has developed into this. The initial premise of the series — Ordinary High-School Student gets summoned to a magical world by an inept Cute Witch to be her familiar — is a little quirky, but hardly unsettling. However, as the series developed, it did so in directions that soured many of the initial fans and made an accurate summary of the premise far more distasteful. The Ordinary High-School Student is now a super-perverted Jerk Ass, the Cute Witch is a type-A Tsundere of almost psychotic proportions, and did we mention that being a familiar entails strongly implied enchantments that compel the familiar to remain at his mistress's side and obey her no matter how badly she abuses him and which actively brainwash him into refusing to take chances to go back to his own world?
  • Lots of people only know Love Hina as "Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: the manga and anime". Keitaro gets horribly abused by every female he encounters, every second scene ends with Keitaro getting hit by one of the girls, either unfairly or for no reason, sometimes forcing him into seeing flesh just so they can abuse him...
  • Yuki Yuna Is a Hero's premise is not the issue, instead how it's presented. A lot of (mostly Western) feminists noticed the Handicapped Badass Tougo but got turned off by the fanservice (especially since they're middle schoolers).
  • Simoun. Try explaining to someone why they should watch a series set in a Constructed World where everyone is born female but magically chooses their permanent gender before adulthood if they aren't both a Speculative Fiction fan and a Yuri Fan. Then try getting them to continue watching after they realize that instead of lighthearted girl-girl fanservice, the series is a dramatic exploration of faith, religion, war trauma, growing up, and difficult life choices. Is it any wonder that this anime barely made it out of the country of origin?
  • Himegoto is wacky ecchi comedy about a feminine boy... who is bullied, sexually harassed, and forced to crossdress by three unlikable student council members. Now you know the first reason why the anime bombed (the second being the truly shoddy quality, making some people suspect it was actively sabotaged).
  • Grave of the Fireflies: Do you really want to watch children suffer unbearably from the horrors of war? Or have the movie shame you and your (Gen X/Y) generation into guilt-driven submission for the suffering of your parents/grandparents during WWII, which even the director stated which was the point? When this movie first came out, it was put on a double bill with My Neighbor Totoro... because the distributor thought Totoro needed help attracting an audience. One can only wonder if anyone got fired for that one.
  • Midori No Makibao—an anime about horseracing, specifically a horse that resembles a hippo going into the world of horseracing to help his owners buy back his mother. It wouldn't be too bad if the anime wasn't being made for an audience of toddlers.
  • Kiss My Ass is about a high school boy who suffers from... hemorrhoids. While it is use for gags, the mangaka researched the subject and as a result, it found a Periphery Demographic with older people, many of whom also suffer from hemorrhoids.
  • Himegoto - Juukyuusai no Seifuku (unrelated to Himegoto above) is about a Tomboy college girl named Yuki who fantasizes about being dominated while wearing her old high school uniform, a classmate who is trying to cling to her youth by dressing in her own high school uniform and dating older men, another classmate who likes to cross-dress but is seeing multiple women, and a childhood friend that is suddenly becoming a lot more interested in Yuki. It sounds like smut. It's really about a group of young adults trying to work out a complicated part of their lives, as well as their relationships with one another.
  • Related issue: A Centaur's Life unfortunately decides to make its first chapter about the titular centaur's worries about whether or not her private parts look like a cow's because she's a centaur. This results in her friends comparing vaginas. This probably should have been later in the manga if it has to be in it at all, because some people stop reading it because of it.
  • Hatsukoi Monster is about a relationship between a highschool girl and an immature ten-year-old who looks like he's around seventeen. You can guess why so many people are turned off by the premise alone.
  • Mon Seul is a very obscure drama manga about a "mature" ten year old in a sexual relationship with one of her older brother's friends. Nearly every review this manga has questions why the hell anyone would want to write about something like this.
  • Digimon in America suffered not because of a bad premise per se, but because its premise was too similar to a certain other work that arrived first there. Potential audiences that did not realize Mons are part of genre and not something unique and invented by Pokémon assumed it was ripping Pokémon off. Another possible factor is that Digimon is darker and more mature in both story and Mon design than Pokémon, alienating younger children that were attracted to the softer Pokémon.
    • History repeated itself with Yo Kai Watch, at least in the West. While it didn't get this as bad as Digimon did, a lot of people were calling it "the next Pokemon" before it released. That's not the only reason, though; Yokai are a pretty Japanese concept, and not a lot of Westerners would "get it", so to speak, at first. Then, even if you know about yokai and are a Japanese cultural enthusiast-therefore looking forward to seeing something like this-they localize the show and games in many of the typical fashions (like Dub Name Change). It's still got a pretty good Western fanbase going for it, though it's admittedly nowhere near as big as in Japan.
  • The first sentence for the Those Who Hunt Elves page says it all: "It's a show about three random people who strip elves naked. It's not a porno, honestly." Even sharing the rationale for why they are doing this still makes it sounds like an excuse plot for a porno, which will turn away anyone who is not looking for a porno.
  • A Bride's Story is a rather historically accurate 19th century Period Piece full of Scenery Porn. It's also about a woman being married to a twelve-year old boy. It isn't played for fansservice or laughs, and is instead a part of the Deliberate Values Dissonance (plus they have a mostly Courtly Love), but it unnerves some.
  • Wedding Peach is about three girls who dream about getting married and becoming cute housewives. They are also Love Angels with wedding motifs who fight demons with The Power of Love. This manga was written at a time when Japan was getting interested in Western-style weddings and is more of a Magical Girl gimmick than anything else but the premise does not sit well with western audiences due to different societal expectations of women.
  • A cursory glance at Oyasumi Punpun make it seem like a cute slice-of-life story about some cartoon bird doodle and a cute little girl. However it is an actually an extremely dark Coming-of-Age Story and character drama, which isn’t afraid to show the characters’ depravity and pettiness. It’s won itself critical acclaim and a devoted following for those reasons, but even fans admit the story is so bleak that it can be hard to stomach for many people. An interview with Inio Asano, the author, stated that volume sales had a noticeable decline every time something really upsetting and dark happened.
  • Air: Do you really want to watch Misuzu die a slow, painful, and tragic death?
  • Cited as the reason Case Closed failed in North America, especially among mainstream audiences. Its premise about a teenager trapped in a little boy's body solving murder mysteries was considered too dark for children and too childish and ridiculous for older audiences. Made even worse by having hundreds of episodes.

    Comic Books 
  • Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld: A Magical Girl maxiseries created during early 80's? It didn't stand a chance, so DC killed the series by making the main character evil and blowing up her homeworld. Of course, if they had the foresight to allow the property to live until the 90s, they could have had a hot product on their hands. Relaunched in 2012 as the lead feature of Sword of Sorcery, written by Christy Marx, the woman behind Jem. The comic again failed to find an audience, and was cancelled with Issue #8 in early 2013.
    • While the relaunch had some potential going for it, it also ran into a number of the same roadblocks - for a comic that was being promoted with kid-friendly shorts on Cartoon Network's DC Nation, it went for more of a "Game of Thrones with magical gem powers" vibe and featured an attempted gang rape in its first issue.
    • Amethyst had a sort of crossover in the second series. Cue very surprised looks from readers wondering why a character from a "comic for little girls" was doing in the pages of Dr. Fate. (Turns out Amy is a Lord of Order. Yes, you read that right.)
  • Power Pack (the original 1980s comic): Kid superheroes, except that instead of featuring wacky antics and dumb adult villains, the theme was played totally straight. In other words, the story took itself seriously and was meant to be seen as such (not only was its own series pretty deep at times, but the kids were even featured in the X-Men's Mutant Massacre crossover, which was every bit as dark as it sounds), but many people wrote it off because it was about kids. Kids who wanted to see wacky antics probably ended up disappointed. Most other people dismissed it out of hand, because they assumed a story about children would just be wacky and stupid. It's probably no coincidence that most of the letters to the editor came from adults, and the occasional 12-year-old, who were surprised at the quality of the storytelling.
    • A similar issue plagued the first arc of the Terry Moore-led reboot of Runaways. The extremely cartoonish art by Humberto Ramos suggested that it was aimed at younger teens, which repelled longtime fans, but the not-so-kid-friendly storyline - involving Karolina being accused of complicity in the destruction of Majesdane, and ending with Xavin impersonating her and handing themselves over to her accusers - probably didn't bring in too many younger readers, and may have been a factor in the series' cancellation a little over a year later.
  • Yeah! by Peter Bagge and Gilbert Hernandez is a girls' comic about three girls in a rock band who are trying to make it big but can only get fans in outer space. It was intended to resemble the girls' comics of the sixties, and it is to comic books what a disco album by Iron Maiden would be to the world of music: It doesn't contain any of the stuff that their fans like, and it belongs to a genre that nobody's been interested in for decades. It was cancelled after nine poorly-selling issues, and the fact that it's a fun comic with good writing and nice artwork didn't really make a difference.
  • Avengers Arena: Taking C-List but cult favorite teenage heroes (including members of Runaways and Avengers Academy) and putting them in a The Hunger Games/Battle Royale scenario (but with no indication of social commentary or satire), so as to prop up Smug Snake gimmick villain Arcade as a legitimate threat (twenty years too late), by having a lot of teenagers die. The amount of vitriol it generated before its release is rather amazing. Sequel by the same writers, Avengers Undercover had surviving kids infiltrating Masters of Evil with premise that one of them will turn evil. It generated less vitrol but sold so bad it was cancelled after 10 issues (when story was planned for at least 12). Looks like people didn't want to see any teenage superhero, especially a member of the Runaways or Academy, turn evil at all.
  • Chick Tracts are meant to appeal to people other than evangelical protestants. However, the target audience is automatically alienated by the central messages (promoting religious fundamentalism, decrying the "evil" of the Catholic Church, comparing people who think Evolution is a sound theory to Nazis, etc.), while people who would agree with them don't bother reading them because the tracts are not meant for them.
  • Barbara Slate's Angel Love series folded after eight issues and a special. Its cute cartoonish artwork and style of writing clashed with the subjects it was dealing with: drug use, abortion, critical illnesses, and incest.
  • Archie Meets the Punisher, obviously. Readers of one tend not to be readers of the other. Archie vs. Predator faired much better.
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog similarly crossed over with Image Comics in a Sonic Super Special issue, due to then-series writer Ken Penders' brief involvement with Image and professional friendship with Jim Valentino. The sight of Sonic and the Freedom Fighters fighting a dimension-hopping baddie with such Image characters as Shadowhawk and Savage Dragon (Spawn only showing up in two shamelessly deceptive panels) would've been hard enough to swallow, but when the crux of the plot revolves around a team of X-Men ripoffs called the Lost Onesnote  and would crash-and-burn after one issue, audiences were left confused and unsatisfied as Penders' Creator's Pet Knuckles would render the whole thing moot with Chaos powers in the end anyways.
    • Penders also penned an earlier special which was packaged as Sonic Live!. Its lead story is a cringe-worthy piece where Sonic meets up with two real world childrennote  and fight alternate Robotniks while learning he's a fictional character created by a random staff artist on behalf of a couple of white SEGA executives. Or in other words, it was an Indecisive Parody of Last Action Hero with Sonic and guest-stars the writer's family.
  • Attempts to combine highbrow literature with hardcore porn comics tend to fall under this trope. Audiences generally approach each genre with entirely different expectations and purposes in mind. Two examples are Gilbert Hernandez's Birdland, a satire of Wilhelm Reich's disputed orgone energy theory, and Alan Moore's and Melinda Gebbie's Lost Girls, featuring Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, and Wendy from Peter Pan.
  • There was an X-Men miniseries called The First X-Men that turned a lot of people, especially those who don't like Wolverine, off by attempting to retcon that he, and not Professor Xavier, was the first person to found a mutant superhero team (and even worse, that the Professor was a self-hating mutant during that time). Critics generally found it an utterly bizarre vanity project for writer Neal Adams, while fans felt it was a (bad) attempt to cash in on the last two X-Men films by combining their premises together, and it's never been mentioned since. The irony is that Adams has stated at signings that he hated working on it, as it was heavily subject to Editorial Mandates and Vetos.
  • The second and third volume of Secret Avengers ended up as something like this. The premise is that SHIELD forms its own team of Avengers, but to keep them from revealing their secrets, they undergo a mindwipe after their missions, which was off-putting due to the grey morality of such a tactic and apparent attempts to amp the feel of the MCU with the promotional material, but found a small audience thanks to the fact it explored this concept and the moral implications, quirky humour, using underused-though-well liked characters War Machine, Quake, Mockingbird, and Taskmaster, and just general good writing, but ended after 16 issues so the writer could move onto Avengers World. The third volume, however, dropped the above mentioned characters, with the art and tone shifting to what seemed to be instead amping the feel of the Hawkeye ongoing, with a less-focused looking story, resulted in many fans dropping it. The new volume is facing cancellation as a result.
  • One More Day: To sum it up: Marvel's 'Most Responsible Hero' loses his very aged mother-figure, and discovers that he can't fix it. Instead of coping with the loss, he gets his beloved wife to agree to delete their entire marriage (complete with unborn child), via an under-examined deal with the most deceitful and evil Reality Warper he can find.
  • Batman: Fortunate Son is a story about the Dark Knight taking on the evils of Rock & Roll. The comic was released in The '90s, long after such an idea became downright laughable.
  • This may have been part of the reason Gail Simone's The Movement didn't last very long despite good reviews. A comic series about a group of morally dodgy protagonists becoming vigilantes, who are also completely new characters and thus don't have previously built audience love to carry them. It can also feel politicized at times which is a frequent turn-off for comic readers. Simone herself has commented that, in hindsight, the book was a very difficult concept to sell and was lucky to get as far as it did.
  • Jonathan Hickman's run on New Avengers has struggled with this; since Grey and Gray Morality and heroes being forced to do dodgy things is a major theme, it's developed a reputation of being about how morally bankrupt the protagonists can be. Only so many people can enjoy seeing beloved heroes like Black Panther and Mr. Fantastic acting like supervillains. The book is selling fairly well right now, but mainly because it's the cornerstone of the highly-publicized Secret Wars (2015) crossover.
    • A big part of the problem is that other groups aside from the protagonists are depicted as coming up with solutions to the story's big conflict that don't involve doing horribly amoral things. This has created an awkward situation where people like Doctor Doom are seen by fans as doing a better job at being heroes than the actual heroes.
  • Any case of a superhero becoming a Legacy Character has the potential to be this. Essentially, the writer is asking the reader to forget about the hero they've followed and become attached to and instead read about some new guy who may only be tangentially related to the original hero. If the writer can't do enough to make the readers care about the new character quickly, people will turn away because they see no reason to follow the story if the protagonist they cared about is gone. Examples of Affirmative Action Legacy have this even worse, as they are frequently interpreted as the writer screwing over a hero people love just so they can show off how progressive they are.
    • Branching off from the first point, practically every superhero has become a "Legacy" character by this point, and this can lead to instances of characters with already-beloved or appreciated gimmicks being shoehorned into another identity for the name recognition and sales. This can also have the effect of "reducing" other roles or making them arbitrarily subordinate to the "Legacy" of another. For example, Falcon abandoning his old identity to become the new Captain America.
  • Dan Jurgens Teen Titans series from 1996 which replaced all of the cast members from New Teen Titans with new characters and inexplicably turned The Atom into a teenager.
  • This was the downfall of Robert Kirkman's The Irredeemable Ant Man. The idea behind the story was to have the protagonist start out as a cowardly jerk and evolve into a real hero over time. Unfortunately, Marvel's advertising and the comic itself put extremely heavy emphasis on how much of a jerk the new Ant-Man was while not mentioning his Hidden Heart of Gold, to the point that its tagline was "the world's most unlikable superhero". Non-fans of Ant Man were driven away by the this, while Ant Man fans left out of disgust at the thought of such a douche taking over the title. Evangeline Lilly read the series as research for the Ant-Man movie, and ended up publicly dismissing it as "crap".
  • The 2015 Batman Beyond comic. It stars an adult Tim Drake (who took over after a time-traveling Terry McGinnis was killed) as a Fish Out of Temporal Water in a post-apocalyptic world where Gotham is the only remnant of human civilization. It's not clear who the comic is aimed at, as it has little in common with any previous iteration of Batman Beyond, and the Tim Drake featured is very different from his prior characterizations.

    Fan Fiction 

    Films 
  • The Deer Hunter is a particularly infamous case. It is a three-hour long film about three prisoners of war being tortured and forced to play Russian Roulette by the Viet Cong army, released only three years after The Vietnam War. After a poor test screening, the producers arranged a private screening for academy members so that it could be released with an Oscar nomination to make moviegoers more confident in seeing it. Film buffs largely consider that the event that gave birth to the concept of Oscar Bait, and the start of the disconnect between films highly grossing and successful with the general audience, and films likely to be nominated for Academy Awards.
  • Will Ferrell's Funny Or Die website has an article about "7 Movies That Are All About Kiddie Sex" featuring 7 of these. Though the criticism of them is presented humorously, that title's not one of the jokes.
  • Almost every movie set during the Iraq War has been a box office bomb, including The Kingdom, Green Zone, In the Valley of Elah, and most notably, Best Picture Winner The Hurt Locker. The war itself is so politically charged (the most controversial case since The Vietnam War) that any depiction of it risks alienating large chunks of the audience based on its perceived politics and it's too current to work as escapism. An alternative explanation is that the problem is with films perceived as critical of the military, or as depicting typical soldiers as victims and/or war criminals. Act of Valor, for example, made money, and that started life as a Navy SEAL recruitment film. Zero Dark Thirty, by the same team of The Hurt Locker, also recouped its budget given it dealt with the hunt everyone wanted to be solved. (Zero Dark Thirty also shows how Afghanistan gets better audiences than Iraq, along with Lone Survivor and American Sniper.)
  • Pictured atop this page is a doctored poster for Hugo, which was rife with things to alienate audiences despite the name of Martin Scorsese attached.
  • Alegría, the dramatic film inspired by the Cirque du Soleil show, is a fable that entwines the story of a street mime and a circus singer falling in Love at First Sight with that of unwanted children being forced to tend and sell flowers for a cruel taskmaster. Aside from the obvious (namely, Everyone Hates Mimes), it's too dark and mature thematically for children — the story kicks off with the mime and his child friend both literally wanting to die, a supporting character is a lovelorn old alcoholic, etc. But how many teens or adults want to watch a movie about whimsical circus people helping to realize A World Half Full? The film only made it to theaters in Canada and a few European countries.
  • This is key to why Newsies bombed in 1992: A drama about a 1899 newsboys' strike — and it's a musical! Disney had seen so much success with animated musicals at the turn of the decade that they saw potential in this live-action one; Jeffrey Katzenberg compared it to Oliver! But there hadn't been a blockbuster, live-action movie musical since 1978's Grease that didn't clearly take place in a fantastical context (i.e., the Muppet films). To some viewers, a dramatic, realistic musical ended up coming off as unrelatable, especially when lighter fare like Beethoven and Ferngully was on offer that particular spring. Moreover, they were likely turned off by the cast lacking in (then-)name performers (if, again, they weren't turned off by the fact that it was a musical), and for some, its setting didn't have obvious appeal. There is a happy ending here — while it was a Box Office Bomb, it did well in the video aftermarket and became a Cult Classic, to the point that it received a successful Screen-to-Stage Adaptation in 2011.
  • Funny Games (either version) presents itself as a Gorn film that deconstructs the genre and makes the viewer question why they watch gorn films to start with. The problem here is that gorn fans don't appreciate being told they're sick bastards by the films they're watching (and it isn't explicit enough for gore fans to get a thrill out of anyway), and non-fans aren't going to watch it in the first place. This was freely acknowledged by director Michael Haneke, who once observed: "If you walked out of the film, you didn't need to see it."
  • The Human Centipede: As an experiment, three people are sewn to one another as part of a single digestive tract. The "sequel" was even worse - a deluded fan of the first movie kidnaps one of the actresses and eleven other random people and literally staples them together in about the crudest way possible. The third film's premise blows the first two films out of the water. It has a deranged prison warden become inspired by the Human Centipede films to solve budget problems and create the ultimate punishment and deterrent for crime by constructing the prison's inmates into a centipede made of 500 people.
  • Lawn Dogs. A 10-year-old girl and a 21-year-old man become close friends. It's rated R. Their relationship is mostly platonic, but there are strong hints that the girl has feelings for the man. Not many people want to watch a movie about this, though those that have tended to consider the film to be excellent.
  • Milk Money: A lighthearted comedy about three young boys trying to see a prostitute naked. Then it gets even crazier when the prostitute is introduced to the father of one of the boys as a potential love interest.
  • Precious, a film about a 16-year-old illiterate obese girl having the baby resulting from her rape by her father. The baby has Down's Syndrome, a second incest-rape baby is on the way, her mother is also sexually abusive, and at the end she finds out her father is dead. From HIV. Which she also has. And she's only sixteen (though fortunately for her, she gets a few hopeful moments by the end: she can read and write, her kids are HIV-negative, and she's finally escaped her parents). Interestingly, this one escaped the stigma: while these elements are typically Hollywood poison, they're extremely popular with Lit Fic. Being The Film of the Book of the critically acclaimed Push, it had the buzz of a hot literary property, plus the support of superstars like Tyler Perry and Oprah. Precious made $62 million and earned two Oscars for Best Supporting Actress (Mo'Nique as Precious' mother Mary) and Best Adapted Screenplay.
    • Parodies in 30 Rock with the fictional Tracy Jordan vehicle Hard to Watch.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World failed to find an audience due to combining too many niches together: comic books, indie rock, and video games from the 80s. Its audience would have to be a particular breed of geek that appreciates all three. Michael Cera also was not a big enough draw on his own and was in the midst of a Hype Backlash from audiences feeling he played the same character too often, something the Scott Pilgrim marketing did little to dispel (keeping the most Cera-esque bits but leaving out Scott's more jerkass-ery personality). Throw in some weak marketing (the main poster for the film was just Scott rocking his guitar, with a vague tagline of "An epic of epic epicness", leaving the uninitiated with zero clue about the movie) and an overreaching budget ($60m for a film with a narrow niche helmed by a filmmaker with a devoted but small American following) and the movie was dead on arrival, despite very good reviews from critics and audiences who did seek it out. The movie did better on home video, though.
  • Tideland is about a 10-year-old girl who spends several weeks in an abandoned house with her father's bloating corpse. To pass the time, she has increasingly bizarre daydreams about her Barbie heads and befriends a mentally handicapped man, with whom she practices kissing. The DVD automatically plays an introduction by director Terry Gilliam, who admits that the viewer might very well hate the film.
  • A Serbian Film. A down-on-his-luck porn star is promised a large amount of money to appear in a high-concept "art film." The movie turns out to be a snuff film, and he is forced to participate in a series of increasingly shocking, violent, and horrific sex acts, capped off with newborn porn!
  • Rock: It's Your Decision was a fundamentalist Christian propaganda film about the evils of Rock and Roll music. The film came out in the 1980's, when the whole "rock music is evil" thing wasn't taken seriously anymore. To say it didn't appeal to many people is like saying that Hurricane Katrina was stronger than the average storm. A 1989 documentary, ''Hell's Bells: The Dangers of Rock and Roll," suffered from the same problem.
  • Vulgar, a film financed by Kevin Smith and written and directed by his friend Bryan Johnson, recounted the story of a kind, but struggling, children's party clown who is viciously raped by a father and his brain-dead sons. And it's a comedy!
  • Dick, a comedy set in the 1970's about two teenage girls who develop a crush on Richard Nixon and end up becoming major figures in the Watergate scandal. Teens weren't interested in a comedy based around 1970's nostalgia while adults weren't interested in the revisionist history concept (the film also depicts Woodward and Bernstein as a pair of morons) so the film died a quick death at the box office. However, it has become a cult classic over the years.
  • Trash Humpers: Grainy, camcorder footage of a trio of crazed elderly people that kill people, mutilate baby dolls, and copulate with garbage. Director Harmony Korine claims to have invoked this with the opening scene, dropping the pretensions of other art films so that anyone prone to walking out early would do so and the rest knew exactly what they're in for. Basically, all of Korine's work can be deemed as this (except, perhaps, Spring Breakers).
  • Freddy Got Fingered, which starred absurdist comedian Tom Green, was almost universally denounced, disparaged, and ridiculed. Although mainstream TV ads for the movie looked harmless enough, the film itself followed the misadventures of an apparently mentally retarded man who made it his life's mission to be as bizarre and offensive as possible (licking an open wound, wearing a bloody deer carcass as clothing, etc.). Roger Ebert at least paid this movie the compliment of reminding him of the classic surrealist film Un Chien Andalou - but then, moviegoers in 1929 hated that, too.
    "This cannot be Dada! It's too normal to be Dada! It's too shit to be anything else!"
    —-'''Oancitizen
  • Shakes the Clown didn't do too well in theaters, even though most people would say it isn't that bad. But it just couldn't find its niche. On one hand, it's about birthday party clowns who never take off their makeup even when not working, so despite its R-rated raunchy humor, the premise was too ridiculous for adults. On the other hand, the clowns drink heavily, sleep around (sometimes contracting venereal diseases), snort cocaine, and commit numerous acts of violence, including hate crimes against mimes - so it was too dark for kids. The result was a film that wasn't very funny and worth seeing only for novelty value (i.e., "the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown films").
  • Any artistic merit Cloud Atlas had was completely overshadowed by the allegations of Yellowface, as well as the boycotts and outrage from the Asian-American community. The movie died a quick death at the box office, and became the latest Post-Matrix failure for the Wachowski sisters. Though it seemed to do well in the home video market, seeing how it debuted at #1 in its first week of release.
  • Paint Your Wagon: It's a western starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. But it's also a musical in which they share a bride! No wonder Homer and Bart were shocked when they watched a parodic version of it in The Simpsons episode "All Singing, All Dancing".
  • The Strange Thing About The Johnsons is about a young man who rapes his father for years on end, until the latter kills himself. It's drawn controversy, not only because of the subject matter, but also because the entire cast is African-American. Some people say this adds to the story while others accuse the director of racism.
  • The title of The Princess Bride used to be this for guys. It sounds very much like a girly romance story, so many young boys — like the one in the movie — thought it to be a "kissing book", so to speak, and were put off by it. At this point, the movie's reputation is enough that most people look past the title.
  • This was one reason Frankenweenie was a box office disappointment. A black and white stop-motion animated feature focused around death and reanimation is a hard sell for today's families, especially when it's topped off by a violent climax. Disney didn't help matters by refusing to move its release date to distance it from the more accessible Hotel Transylvania and the equally-dark-and-quirky-but-released-first ParaNorman; when the former became a Sleeper Hit that exceeded industry expectations and had strong weekly holds, and the latter got the earliest wave of critical buzz, that pretty much burned off demand for another Halloween film for 2012.
  • Fun Size, an even bigger box-office disappointment released at the same time as Frankenweenie, is a Nickelodeon movie that looks like it's aiming for the tween girl demographic like the many kidcoms from the Nick Channel (starting with it starring Victoria Justice) yet it's rated PG-13. The movie's too crude for young kids (the trailers alone highlight this) and the find-the-missing-little-brother plot is too childish for the tweens.
  • The makers of Philadelphia deliberately countered this problem by hiring A-list actor Tom Hanks to play the lead out of fears that the 1993 audience would be turned off by the premise, which is about a gay man who has HIV.
  • A key reason, though not the only one, the Jerry Lewis film The Day the Clown Cried will never be released. A movie about a German clown (Lewis) who entertains doomed children at a concentration camp isn't going to fly over well. With anyone. Lewis himself keeps his own copy locked up and refuses to mention it when asked.
  • Errol Morris's debut documentary embodies this trope — Gates of Heaven is about a family-run pet cemetery faced with closure and the challenge of finding new resting places for its inhabitants. It's a sweet, gentle film, but it's not surprising to learn that Werner Herzog's infamous shoe-eating venture was the result of a bet he lost with Morris over whether it could get released at all!
  • Sex Lives of the Potato Men, an obscure British film devoted to the sexual exploits of a group of potato delivery men. This would have been bad enough, but the main characters were made to look as grotesque as possible. A raunchy comedy about hideous people having sex? No thank you. It should come as little surprise that this film actually provoked public debate over whether the British film industry was in severe decline. It didn't help that one millions pounds (around one and a half million dollars) of funding from the film came from the UK's National Lottery - this was not the kind of "good cause" most normal people would expect lottery funding to be awarded to.
  • The 1930's movie Child Bride, whose subject matter should be obvious. Infamously, it was passed up by Mystery Science Theater 3000 for exactly this reason.
  • Speed Racer is an odd case. When people heard that the Wachowskis were behind the movie, they expected the movie to be a gritty and serious Matrix-style re-imagining of the classic anime. What they got was...a fairly faithful and straightforward adaptation, full of Camp and retro aesthetics.
  • The film Caligula is extremely notorious in part because of this. It tried to be simultaneously a dramatic historical epic and a low-brow sexploitation film, and failed at both. The drama was too ludicrous for the mainstream, and even if it wasn't, they would have still been turned away by the depraved sexual acts. Meanwhile, the porno crowd didn't find the drama appealing, and the exploitation stuff wasn't titillating enough for them.
  • The Postman: It was, um, difficult for the marketing to explain the movie's premise. Apparently, it involves a man rebuilding America After the End by... delivering the mail? While this actually makes a lot of sense, it takes few longer moments to comprehend the idea, thus rendering it almost unmarketable.
  • As mentioned in the description, An American Crime. It's a film about the real-life torture murder of an innocent teenage girl at the hands of her foster mother and various children. Does that sound like a movie you'd want to watch?
  • One of the main reasons Sucker Punch was such a divisive movie is that depending on who you ask, it's either a Deconstruction of Fanservice-laden narratives in movies, video games, and anime, or a glorification of it that gleefully indulges in mindless violence and Fanservice. The Indecisive Parody aspect came back to bite it in the ass; most mainstream audiences (especially women) were turned off because of how sexist it looked, while most nerds avoided it because it was allegedly a Take That aimed at them. As a result, it was a complete flop, barely recouping its budget.
  • Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders. As MST3K put it, it's too scary to be a decent kids movie and too childish to be a decent horror movie.
  • Hanzo the Razor is a trilogy of films about a samurai detective/metsuke solving various corruptions in Edo Japan. The series mixes this relatively interesting premise with blaxploitation inspired music and editing, but the problem is that Hanzo himself is a Designated Hero who is just as repugnant as the murderers and thieves he encounters along the way, due to raping women to get the information he needs. The worst part, they enjoy it by the end usually.
  • Night of the Lepus: The movie's biggest failing is that rabbits, even Giant Killer Bunny Rabbits, are simply not scary. It's telling that the trailers go out of their way to not show any rabbits, which raises the question: if you realize your monsters aren't scary, why would you still make a movie about them?
  • The 1981 epic Lion of the Desert, starring Anthony Quinn. It is a powerful anti-colonialist film, but it is set in a conflict not many know about (1920s Libya), with a hero not very famous outside of his country and enemies that aren't often seen as "scary" enough in cinema. The death blow comes with the fact that it was commissioned and financed by Muammar Gaddafi, making potential viewers avoid the film for considering it propaganda. Too bad, because according to most critics it is actually good.
  • The Benedict Cumberbatch film The Fifth Estate was a thriller about hacker/activist Julian Assange, who is still considered a controversial figure by many Americans. Add to it that the Misaimed Marketing made it look like the movie was trying to rewrite history and turn Assange into some sort of kick-ass action hero, and it's no wonder it turned out to be a Box Office Bomb.
    • It didn't help that the film was based on a book written by a former associate of Assange who has since become one of his most hated rivals. That assured that even those who vehemently support Assange would refuse to go see it, on the assumption that the film would make him look bad.
  • The Killing Of John Lennon is pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin - a film about how some asshole set out to kill John Lennon. Technique-wise, it's not a bad film, and contrary to what some critics claim, it doesn't make Lennon's assassin look any more sympathetic - if anything, he looks worse, because the film portrays him as a bigot, a bully, and a shitty husband. Considering that many fans of Lennon want the assassin to fade into obscurity and actively try not to even mention the assassin by name, why would they want to watch a film about him?
  • Radio Flyer was a Box Office Bomb for one main reason, the totally ridiculous and off-putting premise. Basically two kids have a stepfather who is abusive to one of them, but the kids cover it up because their mother loves him. So instead of telling the authorities about the abuse, the abused kid decides to build a machine and fly away. Needless to say, the Family-Unfriendly Aesop (about how it's better to run away from your problems than actually tell someone) did NOT sit well with most people, especially the critics that savaged the film, arguing that it sent the wrong message to kids who actually are in an abusive situation. The movie appealed to almost no one, as the subject matter was too depressing for kids, and it was too laughable and unrealistic for adults.
  • Towelhead can certainly qualify. It’s a coming-of-age story about a 13-year old Lebanese-American girl who's stated to be well developed for her age (justifying the Dawson Casting along with legal reasons) coming to terms with her sexuality as she lives with her unsupportive father in Texas after being kicked out of her mother’s house during the early nineties and is raped by her neighbor and beaten by her father because of it. Plus, it’s called Towelhead. Can you just tell that this got only a limited release?
  • This was the main reason that Spike Jonze's film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are turned out to be an Acclaimed Flop, barely breaking even at the box office. Understandably, not everyone was wowed by the premise "The director of Adaptation. and Being John Malkovich tries to turn a beloved children's book into a depressing, darkly humorous fable about growing up...for adults." Lots of parents didn't want to take their children to see it, thinking that it was too adult; lots of teenagers and adults just didn't want to see it, thinking that it was for children.
  • The Purge holds a simple premise: What would happen if for one night of the year all throughout the United States, all crime was legal? The problem then lies in that the film doesn't takes time showcasing how this is supposed to turn America into a utopia beyond the regular science-fiction dystopia Kill the Poor proposal and a Hand Wave explanation about how Humans Are the Real Monsters and The Purge provides a Catharsis Factor, thus killing the suspension of disbelief for more business-savvy (and/or cynical) moviegoers note . The movie wastes its premise in using this only as the background for a standard home-invasion thriller. The sequel is considered to be surprisingly improved by showing a wider scope of The Purge. Not helping either film is the massive focus the ads put on Type 2 Eagleland, to the point of playing "America the Beautiful" - this layer of ham-fisted "satire" made the film even less palatable, in the sense it was showing the audience things they'd heard a hundred times before. These problems were all addressed in the sequel, which wound up with both a better box-office return and better reviews.
  • Even before it was pulled from release (and was later released anyways through YouTube), Sony considered the Seth Rogen / James Franco movie The Interview to be this. As it turns out, a film that advocates or appears to advocate the assassination of a world leader is pretty radioactive even when that leader is an acknowledged despot. Leaked documents show that various foreign countries outright refused to distribute or even show the movie, and that the Sony executives felt that the level of Gorn and Black Comedy would completely alienate most American audiences anyway. While they did praise Rogen's performance, the general consensus from just about everyone at the company seemed to be "How the hell did this get made?!"
  • An in-universe example that somehow crossed into real life: The Producers has a shady theater producer picking the most Audience Alienating Premise possible to ensure a play fails and allows him to keep the overcharged budget. Said premise is a musical about Hitler, written by a fugitive Nazi. It does work for a while, with the opening musical number appalling the theater audience... until the second act introduces a hilarious beatnik Führer which captivates the patrons and makes them yearn for more. After Mel Brooks finished the movie, the studio got cold feet on releasing it (it helps not only it deals with Nazis and shady businessmen, but the latter are Jews), and box office and critical reception was unimpressive. Still it earned Brooks' script an Academy Award, and the movie was Vindicated by History to the point it resulted in a successful Broadway adaptation.
  • In Universe example in You've Got M@il. When someone suggests Frank write a book he suggests "something relevant for today, like the Luddite movement in 19th century England."
  • Variant: the U.S. version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a box office and critical hit, but it would have fared better if it hadn't been released on Christmas Day. It even advertised itself as "The feel-bad movie of Christmas!" While it was the biggest opener in its weekend, it's clear people preferred the safer Mission: Impossible and Sherlock Holmes films than an R-rated thriller with much rape and murder.
  • Little Boy is at an attempting heart-warming Christian story about the power of faith which is Period Piece which is set against the backdrop of the World War II. As if that's not enough to set this into Glurge territory, the title alone should give you a hint of how it ends. The dropping of the Atomic Bomb is actually depicted as a miracle brought about the titular character's faith.
  • El Arca is an animated retelling of the story of Noah's ark. Christians who would have been interested in the film for its Biblical story were turned off by its blasphemy and raunchiness, the aforementioned sexual themes made the movie unsuitable for children when its art style seemed geared for them, and everyone except for a few members of the Furry Fandom were repulsed by a few heavily sexualised animal characters. The movie seemed to have no idea who its audience were supposed to be and consequently it failed and sank into obscurity.
  • Nearly every film targeted at very young children, such as Follow That Bird or Barney's Great Adventure, has been a box office failure, mostly because parents questioned why they would pay $20 (or more) for something they could get for free on TV at home, and other teenage (or older) moviegoers considered themselves too old for the depicted property. That latter statement could also explain why The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, which was based on a much more obscure property, did worse than the other two previous films in the box office.
  • Food Fight is basically an extended homage to Casablanca starring advertising mascots and featuring loads of Toilet Humour and sex jokes... and it's aimed towards children. Many critics note that the film seems to have no idea who it's trying to appeal to.
  • Pod People: Because the movie is attempting to play (half-assedly) to the child demographic, they obviously can't show any gory or creative sorts of deaths. No gore means the movie can't appeal to fans of the Kill 'em All Horror genre. At the same time, because people do still drop like flies throughout the film's runtime, it's far too dark for kids.
  • The Mexican animated film Un Gallo Con Muchos Huevos seems at first glance to be just an average film that'd be reasonably respectable in its home country. Its wide US release, however, is mind-boggling. Here we have a CGI film starring talking animals that resembles a kid pic but got a PG-13 rating for its US release, likely due to cultural differences in that Mexican humor is a bit more relaxed with standards than US humor. On top of that, the film is not being dubbed for its American release, it will be Spanish with English subtitles. How likely is it anyone will want to see a kiddie-looking PG-13 animated flick in Spanish? (and yet it cracked the weekend top 10, playing in less than 400 theaters...)
  • Fantastic Four (2015) was dark and serious reimagining of a whimsical light-hearted superhero team full of Body Horror and largely devoid of action. Naturally this has scared off fans of both the source material and comic book adaptations. Fans of the classic Fantastic Four disliked the grounded premise that excised the more fantastical and bizarre elements of the comics. People who enjoyed the gritty Ultimate Fantastic Four, which the film was supposedly based on, were unhappy that the film would not be a faithful adaptation. Not helping matters was director Josh Trank's disdain for the classic comics and mismanagement that eroded excitement from the movie-going public. The final product was considered by critics to be a bad movie regardless of its fidelity to the source material, discouraging non-fans in the general audience from seeing it. To top it all off, several fans wanted it to fail, in the hopes that Fox would sell or give the rights to the team back to Marvel Studios for inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Any wonder why it was a commercial flop?
  • Stonewall, a 2015 Been There, Shaped History account of the Stonewall Riots that kicked off the modern gay rights movement, succeeded in pleasing absolutely nobody. Half the potential audience was turned off because the film focused on a White Male Lead rather than various lesbians, transgender people, and people of color. Filmmaker Roland Emmerich claimed this was to appeal to straight white audiences, but that backfired too. The film predictably flopped in the box office.
  • With a title like "Dear White People" you know a movie is going to be controversial. Racism is a pretty touchy topic and the heavily politicized feel turned off many viewers, especially white viewers. Word of God insists the film isn't meant to be taken seriously and is more about personal identity, but the title and trailer doesn't really give that impression to the casual white viewer. As a result, the film didn't do outstandingly in the box office and has more or less been forgotten after release.
  • The holy trinity of "cute animal movies that turn out to be horribly non-kid friendly":
    • Felidae is a film noir with blood, murder, sex, and a cult. Starring cats (real ones, not Funny Animals). Its look made many people think it was a Disney-type movie, but the actual content is not kid-friendly, thus it scared away adult audiences while not attracting kid audiences. The film has since gained a cult status online, however.
    • Watership Down is a movie about rabbits! Kid-friendly, right?! Well, the film has quite a few scenes faithful to the original novel, such as rabbits being gassed in their burrows during a human land-settlement, a dog violently attacking and killing rabbits, rabbits getting killed by natural predators, and rabbits getting, albeit non-lethally, shot. The film didn't attract adults due to being about rabbits, thus dismissed as "kiddy", while kids were scared away by the climactic battle between Hazel's warren and the Efrafan rabbits.
    • Sister film The Plague Dogs deals with the touchy topic of animal testing and has the same bleak, dark tone and art style but with cartoon talking dogs.
  • There's a reason United Passions is one of the biggest Box Office Bombs in cinematic history, grossing all of $900 in its opening weekend.note  Regardless of recent news, an "inspirational drama" about the wealthy sports executives who started the FIFA World Cup was always going to have a pretty damn hard time attracting viewers. But when that movie hit theaters the week after the 2015 FIFA corruption scandal, well...
  • Jem and the Holograms: Somewhere at Universal Pictures, somebody thought it would be a good idea to take a cult '80s cartoon with a devoted fanbase, and reboot it with so many drastic changes and cliches. The fanbase were alienated and it didn't attract new fans. The result was one of the worst opening weekends for a movie playing in at least 2,400 theaters, even on a mere $5 million budget.
  • On the opposite extreme, there's Josie and the Pussycats, which updates the classic 70s cartoon into an adult-oriented Self-Parody / Satire on the music industry. While previous adult-oriented self parodies of Hanna-Barbera shows were successful, those were mostly [adult swim] shows based on their more obscure properties (Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Sealab 2021, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law) where they could find cult audiences. This being a better-known name on a more mainstream venue, moviegoers were expecting something they could take their kids to, only to be disappointed when the ratings said otherwise. Thus, the movie bombed, the Home Video release was heavily edited down, and the then-upcoming Scooby-Doo movie was reworked into a more Family Friendly flick.
  • These days The Shawshank Redemption is considered one of the greatest films ever made, but its original box office reception was lukewarm due to this; it's based on one of Stephen King's least famous stories and it's a gritty, realistic prison drama from a creator who's more known for fantasy and horror stories. It didn't appeal to the horror fans that generally enjoyed King's works, but its obscurity kept it from appealing to the overall mainstream.
  • North is supposedly an uplifting tale about a boy who travels around the world to find better parents. Unfortunately, this was cancelled out with a parade of blatant racist stereotypes; furthermore, while it's a kids' movie with adult jokes here and there, the "child-friendly" scenes are too childish for adults while the "adult jokes" are too raunchy for kids. In short, no member of the target audience is pleased.
  • Swiss Army Man is a movie about a man stranded on an island who discovers Daniel Radcliffe washing up on shore as a farting, talking corpse he nicknames Manny. This premise seems to have already drawn ire from moviegoers who dislike Black Comedy and Vulgar Humor.
  • The straight-to-DVD 2015 romantic comedy, Accidental Love, used to be David O. Russell's failed project Nailed which is about a waitress (played by Jessica Biel) who got a nail stuck in her head and then, went to appeal a congressman (played by Jake Glyllenhaal) to pass the health care bill. This was even made when O. Russell was still notorious for his troublesome on-set behavior at that time and anyone who had seen the film noticed that it looked very outdated. Now we know why O.Russell disowned it and used the Alan Smithee approach.
  • Wes Craven's New Nightmare was a self-aware supernatural slasher deconstruction that pre-dated Scream by two years, and was released during a time when the horror genre was considered dead. It proved to be a little too ahead of its time, and had difficulty making money at the box office. The film did get good reviews though, but even today, while Scream enjoys a reputation as a landmark horror film, New Nightmare has to settle for a smaller cult following. Wes Craven even directed both films.

    Food 
  • Natural Harvest - A Collection of Semen-Based Recipes
  • Anything that involves deliberately cultivating rot or mould to produce the taste, from blue cheese to the traditional Icelandic hakarl (rotten shark) to the Japanese natto (fermented soybeans), tends to generate this reaction from some. Even beer, another product of fermentation, is an acquired taste for some people.
  • For Westerners, eating insects.
  • Combining both mould and insects, casu marzu, an Italian cheese partially digested by live insect larvae.
  • Foods based on offal squick out a lot of people, though they're perfectly happy to eat hot dogs and other sausages. The classic example is haggis - notorious for being the heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep, boiled in its own stomach (to quote the Earthworm Jim cartoon); what many people don't know is that the first three ingredients are minced first, making the whole thing more like eating a giant bratwurst.
  • It's less common nowadays, but for a long time many people were put off of sushi because it's "raw fish".note 
  • Foie gras is made from specially-prepared duck or goose liver. Liver alone is off-putting to many, but preparing foie gras requires force-feeding the bird until its liver bloats up to 10 times its normal size, something that can make it even more off-putting. It's not surprising that foie gras is controversial.
  • In many cultures, meat derived from certain animals are subject to taboo. The reasons are greatly varied: some examples include pork due to pigs being "unclean" (their dietary habits are considered off-putting), beef due to cows being considered too "holy", and horses, dogs and guinea pigs due to being considered too intelligent or too cute to be eaten. Taken even further in some cultures were there are taboos against eating meat period.
  • For more complete lists, see Stock Yuck and Masochist's Meal.

    Literature 
  • Alfie's Home is a children's storybook about a kid who, due to his parents constantly arguing, latches onto the sexual abuse from his uncle as his only source of affection. That alone is a hard sell, but it could have found a niche helping kids who deal with sexual abuse in Real Life... that is until it brings up the possibility of Alfie becoming gay from all this (something based on a long discredited psychological theory), and treats it as a problem that must be taken care of by a few words with a counselor. You can probably imagine why the book was lambasted by everyone who has read it.
  • The Bum Trilogy (and its Animated Adaptation, The Day My Butt Went Psycho) is about people's butts coming to life and hopping off their bodies, and the protagonist's efforts to maintain peace between man and butt. While the idea might have a lot of intrigue, the fact that it's about butts ensures that potential readers will brush it off as something for little kids into Toilet Humour, unless they're that curious about the Fridge Logicnote .
  • Thomas Dixon's “Ku Klux Klan” trilogy, consisting of “The Leopard's Spots” (1902), “The Clansman” (1905) (which was adapted into “The Birth of a Nation” in 1915), and “The Traitor: A Story of the Fall of the Invisible Empire” (1907). If the informal name of the trilogy isn't already a red flag, the protagonists of the series are Reconstruction-era Klansman members!
  • A Brother's Price is about a world where only about 10% of the population is male, and this leads to polygamy. Already a rather odd premise, not to mention the fact that polygamy is a rather controversial idea in the west. Worse yet, the cover and advertising was apparently designed to appeal to a mainstream romance audience, who likely won't like the book at all as it's more of a thriller.
  • Lolita is a prime example of this, to the extent that it's mostly known in the general public as "that novel about pædophila". Fortunately, its status as a modern classic prevents it from becoming too neglected, but most people unaware of why it's considered so great are likely to pass it up due to the premise.
  • Stephen King withheld Pet Sematary from publication for several years because he felt the subject matter made the book unpublishable.
  • The Turner Diaries is about a group of white supremacist terrorists... who are the heroes of the story. Needless to say, this book has absolutely no fans outside of its very narrow target audience.
    • Hunter, by the same author, also qualifies. It's a book where the hero is a serial killer who targets Jews and racial minorities.
  • We can add the Northwest Front series to that same pile. Once again, it's white nationalist literature where we're supposed to root for racist militants.
  • Awoken (written by Lindsay Ellis and Elisa Hansen, among others) is a parody of the Teen Paranormal Romance genre, specifically "Twilight meets the Cthulhu Mythos". When asked if it was an audience alienating premise, they responded with "That's the joke."
  • The Clique is an Indecisive Parody told from the point-of-view of a middle school-aged Alpha Bitch and her Girl Posse (two character types that are nearly universally despised) but does very little to make them likable or sympathetic. And even readers who would want to read something like that are very likely going to be put off by all the Squick (namely the very sexualized depictions of preteen girlsnote ).
    • The author tried to add some Deconstruction elements later on in the series but for many it was too little too late.
    • This trope is possibly why The Film of the Book was Direct-to-Video — the creators were probably aware that a film with this kind of plot would bomb if released in theaters.
  • The article's opening quote refers to one of the seminal canon works of Willa Cather, one of the most prominent female authors of the first half of the 20th century (one of her others, My Antonia was in fact published in 1901). Indeed, she frequently wrote about Nebraska - one of the least densely-populated and featured of the United States. Cather's most famous work, The Professor's House was in fact partially written in response to this trope (and consequently is more like a Dark Fic or Deconstruction compared to her earlier works - and most notably, takes place along the shores of the Great Lakes with flashbacks to Arizona).
  • Warrior Cats is about cute, fluffy cats that are involved in bloody battles, have a complex religious and social structure, have a tendency to die horribly, and have illegitimate offspring all over the place. Younger kids see cats, and then see continuity and leave. Older kids are put off by the Cute Kitten thing and may be embarrassed to start the series in the first place. The books do have an audience, but because of this trope the authors have yet to be able to get The Film of the Book made.
  • River Heights was a spin-off of The Nancy Drew Files series (itself a spinoff of the original books), receiving a Poorly Disguised Pilot in that series. The series itself had very little mention of Nancy herself, instead focusing on a neighbor of hers named Nikki, and was instead a high school drama series not unlike Sweet Valley High. Fans of Nancy weren't interested in teen drama (and if they were, were likely already reading other series, like the aforementioned Sweet Valley High), fans of drama likely thought it was straight mystery (because of the tie-with Nancy Drew), and the series faded away after about 16 books. Not learning their lesson, they tried this again with Nancy Drew on Campus, another spinoff that sent Nancy away to college and, yet again, pushed aside the mysteries in favor of more young adult drama. Again, the series died off after 25 books (while this sounds impressive, realize that Nancy Drew books are ridiculously Long Runners, with the original series lasting to 175, while the Files spinoff lasted to 124, and even less successful series such as Girl Detective survived all the way to 47.)
  • Twisted is a book about sentient rollercoasters... that kill and eat people. The idea of the main characters being amusement park rides seems too childish for adults, but the gore and edginess of the content makes it inappropriate for children.
  • Save The Pearls: Revealing Eden is a novel about a dystopian future where whites are enslaved and oppressed by evil black people. And did we mention that Blackface plays a huge role in the story?
  • How NOT to Write a Novel calls this trope "The Voice in the Wilderness" and illustrates it with an intentionally offensive sample novel passage which portrays Auschwitz commanders, guards and doctors as selfless souls trying to save the inmates from dying of typhus, only for the Allies to "demonize" their efforts. The authors then explain that writing a novel with a "universally detested" viewpoint is a bad idea regardless of whether you genuinely believe it or simply figure that shock for shock's sake will sell.
  • This is the most likely reason why the first Monster High book series flopped. It had too much mature themes and fanservice for young readers but older ones would most likely be turned off by a novel series based on a little girls' toy line. And fans of the franchise disliked that it was pretty much In-Name-Only.
  • Bumped is a young adult novel about a dystopian future where a virus has made everyone over the age of 18 infertile and reliant on teenage girls as surrogate mothers. People were squicked out by the Teen Pregnancy, while readers who do want to read about it criticized the book for exploiting a serious problem in society for shock value.
  • Forgive Me Leonard Peacock is about a teenager going about his day as he plans to murder his former best friend who sexually abused him and then kill himself. He decides instead to take a picture of his ex-friend masturbating and is talked out of killing himself by one of his teachers
  • In the annual Lyttle Lytton Contest, a contest which challenges contestants to write the worst opening line of a novel they can think of, a special prize is awarded every year to the entry which suggests the kind of novel the judge would least like to read.
  • The premise of Growing Around is not one that holds up well to Fridge Horror. It takes place In a World... with Swapped Roles taken to the extreme: kids have all authority, and grown-ups must abide by their rules. Despite this, people age and develop as they do in Real Life. While the author is aware of this criticism, he makes it clear that he doesn't want to pen a Darker and Edgier Deconstruction a la Lord of the Flies, nor does he want to bog down the story to explain how such a world could work, and simply implores potential readers to accept the story at face value.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Heil Honey, I'm Home!: A 1990 British sitcom starring caricatures of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun who live in matrimonial bliss until they become neighbors to a Jewish couple. It was probably supposed to be a Deconstructive Parody of 1950s Sitcom tropes, but if so it ended up being a Stealth Parody as well. The fact that you could have replaced Adolf with a generic "bumbling Nazi" caricature as the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist and the show still wouldn't have been all that funny didn't help.
  • Lone Star was supposed to be the big headlining show of the 2010-11 season for the Fox network, but the premise turned off audiences so badly it was canceled after only two episodes were aired. Unlike shows like Leverage or Hustle, the conman protagonist was not stealing just from Jerkasses but was also cheating nice, hard-working people. The Heel–Face Turn that was supposed to set him up on the road to redemption (and audience sympathy) turned out to be just a way for him to marry two different women and maintain a double life. When the audience finds no redeeming qualities in the main character and wants him thrown in jail as soon as possible, the premise just doesn't work.
  • As a general rule, network audiences tend to hate shows with morally-gray protagonists. Heist-themed shows like Thieves and Smith totally bombed, and Hannibal has poor viewership largely because the Misaimed Marketing makes it look like it has a serial killer Villain Protagonist (when in reality, Hannibal is the antagonist of the series).
  • On a similar base as the above point, network television shows where all the characters are Jerkasses that aren't comedies hit rock-bottom ratings because viewers don't see much reason to invest their time on following horrible people who will remain Karma Houdinis for a long time. While cable television's threshold is lower and they are willing to invest in giving their shows top-notch quality (for example Game of Thrones), it is necessary to point out that while said shows can go on to be highly-acclaimed, they are also big Base Breakers because of the above-mentioned reason (too many horrible people=Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy).
  • A good example is The John Larroquette Show, in which Larroquette played John Hemingway, an acerbic recovering alcoholic. The first season was insightful, provoking, filled with race baiting humor, and a bartender was implied to be Satan. Thanks to Executive Meddling, the show was made Lighter and Softer, alienating those faithful viewers who did watch the show.
  • Profit featured a Villain Protagonist before other shows dabbled with the concept. It didn't last a single season.
  • Not nearly as severe as other examples, but some viewers find themselves put off by the fact that Friday Night Lights is "about football". It kind of is, but interest in football isn't (necessarily) a requirement to enjoy the show at all, any more than an interest in ghosts is required to enjoy Ghostbusters. It's just a good and interesting small-town/family drama.
    • And the flipside was that NBC also targeted football fans, promoting it heavily during Sunday Night Football telecasts, only that those fans found too little football and passed, and everyone else who passed on it thought "too much football."
    • That the football in question is the American variety didn't help it overseas; in Britain, ITV4 only aired the first season (although Sky Atlantic did eventually... well... pick up the ball).
    • There's a sizable number of football fans who'd rather not see the game deconstructed or radically criticized. There's a sizable number of football detractors who resent the central role it plays in many American communities, and finds the mere depiction of this role a fundamentally irritating reminder. That eliminates an awfully large chunk of the potential audience.
  • ABC's Lucky 7, a drama (that was advertised as being mostly) about the downsides of winning the lottery, was cancelled after only two episodes in 2013. In hindsight, it probably wasn't a good idea to air a show about how suddenly coming into a lot of money is a bad thing during an economic downturn.
  • Even the most pro-capitalist viewers have reported difficulties with the show Hou$e Of Lie$. It's about taking money from rich business owners... and giving it to rich management consultants instead. This wouldn't be so bad if the consultants in question didn't Kick the Dog every episode, or act in some hypocritical fashion that makes it difficult to take the characters seriously.
  • This was why the show Cop Rock failed. It's a crime drama... and a musical! Though with the success of shows like Glee, one wonders if it was just a bit ahead of its time.
  • The drama/musical Viva Laughlin (the U.S. adaptation of the BBC series Viva Blackpool) got horrid reviews and was canned after only two episodes, even with a singing, dancing Hugh Jackman. After the crashing and burning of Smash, it would seem that musical TV series simply don't work; TV movie musicals like High School Musical seem to fare better.
    • Musicals, in general, are a bit of a hard sell (High School Musical being an outlier). Glee survived by playing into the camp appeal and because sales of the music make up for its underperforming ratings.
      • Glee also did well because, like its suspiciously similar predecessor, Fame, the context of the series allowed for its characters to break into song and dance because, duh, the characters were singers and dancers and most musical numbers were thus presented in the context of putting on a show. This is not the same as a bunch of cops suddenly deciding to sing for no reason.
      • And all the songs are "real songs," which is to say, covers of classic or contemporary hits the audience already knows and loves.
  • Possibly one of the reasons that Dollhouse didn't do particularly well (or gain quite the cult following of other Whedon shows). The concept of people repeatedly having their mind wiped and personalities implanted to act as prostitutes, assassins (and more) isn't exactly a comfortable idea, even if the show criticizes it, not to mention how hard it is to get attached to characters who literally have a completely different personality from week to week. More to the point, the show is uneven in its criticism. For the first season, the Dollhouse seems to function just fine, except for one evil escapee and a Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist who only makes progress when he gets help from the Dollhouse itself. Then there are episodes where the ongoing plot is absent, or nearly absent, which could imply that some of the Dollhouses' work is just fine.
  • The TV series based on Birds of Prey tried to appeal to both comic book fans and the Dawson's Creek crowd. This failed because the comic geeks were turned off by the unnecessary drama and pointless changes, and the teenyboppers were confused by obscure comic book references they didn't understand. Funnily enough, though, Arrow is a massive hit, and uses essentially the same premise (CW drama mixed with DC Comics), just 10 years later. That Arrow had the fortune of launching in the wake of the massive success of The Dark Knight Saga probably helped. The relatively unknown character having been introduced to viewers through Smallville didn't hurt either.
  • Freaks and Geeks was never going to last in network television. The period setting, mixed with the hour-long length (most American sitcoms clock in at under 30 minutes) and subdued, quirky humor, completely turned off most viewers. It didn't help that the show had the bad timing to air before '80s nostalgia really got into gear later in The Oughts. Plus, beginning the series at the very start of the '80s meant that the setting was culturally still very much The '70s, which might have also been confusing to viewers.
  • Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills was a show that focused heavily on harshly criticizing the Tokusatsu genre and showing how the creators thought one of those shows should be done. Fans of the genre were turned off by its vindictiveness, and people who didn't like it didn't even bother to watch it.
  • The racially-mixed cast on Star Trek: The Original Series was one in the South. Some TV stations in the region refused to carry it outright.
  • Sesame Street faced a similar challenge in Southern markets, but protests from Moral Guardians ended up subverting the trope.
  • Blood Ties, the TV adaptation of Tanya Huff's Blood Books, had all the pieces there: a good premise, a convincing love triangle, and good actors (Tanya Huff apparently saw the lead actress on a different series years earlier saying she'd make a perfect Vicki) with good chemistry. There was one big problem, though: the Canadian series got picked up in the US by Lifetime. The dark, supernatural premise alienated fans of Lifetime's normal dramatic romance fare, and Girl Show Ghetto kept male fans of sci-fi and fantasy from giving the show a fair shake (believing it was typical Lifetime dreck.) It's telling that Lost Girl, another Canadian series with an ass-kicking female lead with a Perky Goth sidekick and a supernatural being as a potential love interest premiered on Syfy and fared infinitely better.
  • The short-lived series The Nine. It was advertised and marketed as a crime thriller but was actually more of an emotional drama. Thus people that wanted a crime thriller were turned off by the melodrama and viewers that would have liked the melodrama were alienated by the crime-focused advertising.
  • Carnivŕle qualifies: despite having a highly original and engaging plot, the premise of "supernatural battle set in the Depression-era dustbowl", and the thick layer of religious and mystical symbolism all over the show, made it hard for a lot of people to get interested in.
  • This was likely a major reason for Arrested Development becoming an Acclaimed Flop during its original run (though it was Vindicated by History, and eventually Un-Canceled by Netflix). It's a show about a dysfunctional family of egotistical, back-stabbing out-of-touch yuppies, where the only completely sympathetic character is the Butt Monkey Only Sane Man protagonist, with the rest of the main cast being either likeable but flawed (his wimpy, incestuous son, Man Child younger brother, homoerotic thespian-wannabe brother-in-law, and rebellious teenage niece) or complete Jerkasses (his Small Name, Big Ego older brother, Spoiled Brat liberal twin sister, and abusive parents, one of whom is a wanted criminal), and roughly a quarter of the jokes involve Incest Subtext. Its rather dense plot—far more complicated than one would naturally expect of a sitcom—likely didn't help. This was lampshaded by Michael Bluth in Season 3: "Maybe we aren't as likable as we think we are."
    • The stock market, finances, and other similar topics play a large role in the series, things which not a whole lot of people are familiar with.
  • Ultraman Leo was a Deconstruction of tokusatsu before audiences were used to such storiesnote . The premise practically tears apart the Invincible Hero trope, and the MAC members seem to interact and react with the world around them far more realistically than other Science Patrols. As well as all that, Leo himself relied much more on fists and kicks, which was jarring in a franchise far more used to heroes who used flashy, dazzling energy rays. All this led to the show falling into the single-digits, the worst rating in the franchise history.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: In hindsight it's almost a miracle that this show ever got made and managed to find an audience. Why would anyone want to watch a comedy show where half of the time the sketches go nowhere and punch lines are almost non-existent? In every episode confusing things happen at random and without any sense of context or continuity. Sometimes the show appears to end, but still goes on for several minutes. Other times it seems as if another show is playing. There's a lot of male crossdressing and homosexual innuendo (back in the 1960s and 1970s far more audience alienating than nowadays). Many intellectual references are made, often to very obscure stuff that would make an encyclopaedia come in handy. And several scenes are intercut with amateuristic cut-and-paste cartoons that border between the macabre and the grotesque. Indeed, the general public didn't know what to think of it. Most of the time the studio audience hardly snickers. Even the BBC tried to axe and boycott the show several times, even going so far to think of erasing all seasons in 1975. And how do you export this bizarre series to foreign countries? Apart from the sheer bizarreness mentioned earlier, a lot of jokes refer to things only British people would get (and only those who remember the late '60s and early '70s at that). But, despite all odds, a cult following came about and the show caught on outside the UK as well. Still, for many years they polarized a majority of the audience and the Pythons were amazed that several decades later public opinion has changed so drastically that suddenly they have became the darling boys of comedy. Though, arguably, most of their fanbase is comprised of people only familiar with their more accessible films, especially Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
  • Community had an Audience Alienating Execution, as their ratings got steadily worse (with the biggest drop off occurring after The Pilot), it's probably because that the premise (Fraudulent Jerkass Lawyer has to go back to school, meets wacky misfits and learns the value of friendship) is prime Sitcom material, but the actual implementation of that premise (extensive esoteric shout outs, Continuity Lock-Out to the extreme, weird one-shot genre parody episodes such as  and a perverse interest in insulting NBC) killed its chances at being a major hit instead of a Cult Classic.
  • BBC's soap opera Triangle: a Ferry operating in the gloom of the North Sea was hardly the most glamorous of locations. Famously the first episode featured Kate O'Mara sunbathing topless on an obviously freezing deck. Clichéd relationships, stilted dialogue and production problems related to being on a real-life ferry cemented the show's mockable reputation.
  • A few of the more unpopular Doctor Who stories/eras have this as their main flaw:
    • One of the things fans tend to appreciate about the show is that it's much darker and more cerebral than most children's shows, but at the end of the day it's still a children's show. Usually, the show negotiates this by using the Doctor as a funny Ideal Hero Escapist Character that the children can feel safe alongside no matter what, so any regime trying to reinvent him as a morally-deficient figure tends to get a lot of pushback for making the show too grim and unlike Doctor Who.
      • The Sixth Doctor era gets a lot of flak because of this - children don't want to watch a Doctor who runs around abusing his companion, and grownups have places other than children's shows to explore that sort of thing, where the dark subtext can be properly explored. Six was supposed to become more likable and heroic with time, but his Character Development, combined with the unusually grim nature of his storylines, didn't happen fast enough to avoid turning off much of the show's audience — and dooming the series' original run.
      • When the concept of a less-likeable-than-his-predecessor Doctor was broached again with Twelve, it was handled more carefully and ultimately averted this trope. In his first season his pragmatism and lack of social skills are often called out by others — especially his companion — and even by himself, making him more self-aware and thus sympathetic. He also gets lots of eccentrically funny moments from the start. Moreover, once he gets past his identity crisis he becomes more relaxed and amiable in his second season, though there's still a definite dark streak. He may not be as popular with mainstream audiences as Ten or Eleven, but his tenure looks to last as long as Eleven's.
      • This is a major issue with the Expanded Universe novels of The '90s, which turned the more-manipulative Seventh Doctor into a Knight Templar and had much more adult content in general (which filtered into the later Eighth Doctor novels). It was created by and for the adult fanbase and was successful at the time, but because it left kids (and adults who didn't want Darker and Edgier) out in the cold, it is rarely revisited/republished now because it just doesn't feel like old or new Doctor Who.
    • Aversion: Much internal pushback about the Pertwee-era no-time travel Retool was based around fears it would be this - after all, who'd want a new setting where you can't travel in space and time in a space-time travel show? While the arc/era is still considered divisive and much of the production team resented it, it ended up being a hugely successful era that saw very good ratings.
    • Season 15, which is usually thought of as Tom Baker's weakest season, struggles with this somewhat. Executive Meddling had ordered the new producer to take out all the horror elements, so they were stuck making Doctor Who without Nightmare Fuel. The writers agreed Doctor Who can also be funny, and reworked the material to focus more on comedy... and then the executives told them to cut down on the comedy, too. This might have been okay had they been able to come up with some Visual Effects of Awesome, but at that time the huge "stagflation" recession of the 1970s hit and the BBC slashed their budget, leading to them running out of money midseason and resorting to production values that would have been laughable ten years ago. So the show couldn't scare you, make you laugh, or look interesting - all that was really left was the unusually good main team of the Doctor, Leela and K-9, who are almost enough to save it.
    • "Love and Monsters" is a decent story and a very personal one, and critics loved it. But most Doctor Who fans loathe it because it's an Out-of-Genre Experience to what Who has ever done before or since - a Lower-Deck Episode episode barely featuring the Doctor or the companion, and an allegory about obnoxious fans who don't know how to have a good time watching a show with their friends, with some really Campy Black Comedy, a controversial comedian in a fat suit, a love story between two peculiar-looking nerds and a quirky directorial style influenced by vlogging. The more cerebral sphere of fandom loves it, but the people who were just there for the Doctor having adventures got neither of those things.
    • "Let's Kill Hitler" was described by its own writer as being 'the regeneration rom-com guest starring Hitler that no-one asked for'. People who wanted Nazis got them used as jokey, borderline offensive window dressing, with Hitler literally shoved into a cupboard and forgotten about. People who didn't want Nazis and just cared about the characters had to contend with a plot that ignored all of the traumatic events that had happened to these characters in the last story. Old-school fans who just want space monsters got a romcom about the Doctor and his future wife, a concept which itself is alienating to that group, while non-fan casual viewers immediately had to contend with the convoluted plotting and Continuity Lockout, and the fans invested in the romance were turned off by the constant sexist Mars-and-Venus Gender Contrast jokes and the fact that the story is mostly about one of the characters being insane and trying to murder the other - Played for Laughs! But viewed as a kind of Trolling Creator primal scream, it's pretty entertaining.
  • Of Kings and Prophets is a retelling of the Books of Samuel by way of Game of Thrones; before it aired, its creators bragged about it being Hotter and Sexier and Bloodier and Gorier. The thing is, people interested in a religious show generally don't like that, and secular viewers probably weren't interested in a Biblical adaptation, despite promises of political drama. Add enough Values Dissonance and Grey and Gray Morality to make God and His followers seem like Villain Protagonists and it's no wonder this show got canceled two episodes in.
  • Each week in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, John Oliver discusses in depth some underexamined issue facing American society, and while they're occasionally very interesting on the face of it (for example, the piece deconstructing the claims people make in praise of Donald Trump), just as often the issue is...not exactly exciting. In fact he's lampshaded this effect multiple times - for example, in the second episode when he realises they're about to do a piece on something as depressing as the death penalty, he promises the audience will get to see some really cute animals at the end if the stick around, and then there's this quote made as he announced the subject for the show the week after the very popular Donald Trump piece:
    That's right, we are talking tonight about special taxation districts. So, hello, people watching for the first time because of the Trump piece. And also, I presume: "Goodbye, goodbye!"
  • Cao Cao 2013 is a Chinese produced drama about the warlord Cao Cao, specifically tailored to show a human Cao Cao rather than the always in control warlord he is normally depicted as. However, Cao Cao is the main villain of the epic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the vast majority of its adaptions (spanning almost 2000 years), and the idea that you could make a drama showing him as being human was so alien to Chinese audiences that the series was actually released in Japan and South Korea first (as they were more accepting of the idea of a heroic Cao Cao). The fact that the traditional hero of the Romance Liu Bei is depicted as an opportunist (at best) also doesn't help.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, built around unlikeable protagonists.
  • Musikantenstadl was a long-running German show presenting volkstuemliche Musik, "folksy music" (often falsely called "Volksmusik", i.e. "folk music"). It was quite popular with older audiences; eventually, however, executives decided to aim for a younger audience (never mind that the producers were public broadcasters and therefore supposed or at least expected to take niches into account as well), and Musikantenstadl was Retooled into the Younger and Hipper Stadlshow. It was a spectacular flop – after all, young people are generally not interested in folksy music to begin with, so virtually all the retool accomplished was alienating the existing viewership. Nevertheless, it was decided to keep the Stadlshow concept, except that the program is now limited to new year specials, with only a single regular episode having been produced.

    Music 
  • Gustav Mahler's Kindertotenlieder. That's right, "Songs on the Death of Children". Mahler based those songs on a series of over 400 poems written by Friedrich Rückert who wrote them as a way to cope with his grief after two of his children died. These poems were never intended for publication.
  • Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring: A dissonant, loud and threatening avant-garde ballet about the ritual sacrifice of a young virgin in prehistoric times to hail a new Spring? Sounds lovely! In fact, during the premiere performance the audience rioted.
  • Kiss's Music from "The Elder". One of the hardest rock bands in the world at the time attempting a Progressive Rock Concept Album? It just wouldn't fly. Even the band themselves consider it an Old Shame and have rarely ever performed any of the songs live.
  • Progressive Rock in general. While the genre is widespread, incorporating many different styles such as folk, metal, and classical music, most people only know it as "20-minute-long keyboard solos", despite there being many songs which only go on for about five minutes, and having music that incorporates absolutely nothing other that guitar, bass, drums and voice.
  • The word 'goth' or 'gothic' when attached to music can have this effect on people who would otherwise like the music. It implies stereotypical gothic fashion and whiney lyrics over the sense of the more prog-like melody and atmosphere in the music.
  • Diane Diamond, in her book Be Careful Who You Love, suspects that Michael Jackson's 38-minute Short Film / Concept Video Ghosts was buried by Sony in North America because of its premise. Jackson plays the mysterious "Maestro", who is suspected of being up to no good when it's revealed that he's been secretly inviting a small town's kids to his spooky mansion for ghost stories. The Maestro is denounced as a freak by an evil, bigoted white Mayor (Jackson in a Fat Suit), so he summons up a troupe of ghouls to turn the tables on him and his mob. It's a blatant allegory for the child molestation accusations leveled against Jackson in 1993, so as Nathan Rabin jokes in his My Year of Flops review, it's challenging the audience with the question "Why must we judge people just because they're eccentric, look weird, or like to sleep in the same bed as pre-pubescent boys they aren't related to?" Sony did get the clip wide distribution overseas, as the scandal hadn't done quite so much damage to Jackson's reputation there, and it eventually found wide North American exposure at the Turn of the Millennium... and then he was accused of molestation again. Now even Jackson's estate seems to be embarrassed by it; it isn't included in full in the DVD set Michael Jackson's Vision.
  • Fleetwood Mac decided to follow up the massive success of Rumours with Tusk, an expensive double album with bizarre, offputting artwork and bizarre, offputting songs by Lindsey Buckingham. It sold well, going double platinum, but did nowhere near as well as Rumours did. It's been Vindicated by History as a classic of experimental pop, but it stands as one of the best arguments against cocaine use.
  • This might be why metal band iwrestledabearonce haven't been able to get really big in the music world yet. They look like a bunch of scene kids and get marketed to that scene despite rejecting the label. Their sound is based out of Avant-Garde Metal with a bizarre hodgepodge of every type of metal and non metal styles out there. In short, they are too "weird" for scene kids while metalheads reject them for their image.
  • Double albums in general. In the minds of a lot of listeners, "double album" is synonymous with "self-indulgent mess".
  • Whatever the merits of U2's Songs of Innocence, a lot of people were creeped out by the way Apple automatically downloaded it to their libraries. Apple had to release a tool to remove the album.
  • Frank Zappa: A man who changes styles and genres in every composition or song he writes. Just as you're starting to enjoy a melody he may suddenly cut it off and replace it by something bizarre and offsetting. Regular poppy songs are intercut with avantgarde classical music, doowop chants, long and complex jazzy jams, bizarre quotes and conversations and sometimes silly noises. If you are someone who likes listening to all kinds of music you're going to have to stomach that this musician will also use his melodies to provide scathing social commentary, pointed Satire, bawdy and offensive sex jokes, inside jokes only he and his fellow musicians will get and sometimes plain stupid sing-a-longs about dangerous kitchens, poodles, sex dolls and Smelly Feet. As a record producer once said: No commercial potential. Indeed Zappa has always remained in the marginal corners of the musical scene, but still managed to build up a fanatical cult following.
  • The Wanted bombed in the United States because they were being pushed as a boy band. Unfortunately, their members were all in their early 20's at the time they started to release music there, so they proved to be unable to build up the teenage girl fanbase that helps boy bands succeed. The boy band image also alienated adult listeners, who were also growing tired of the electro-pop sound dominating the airwaves at the time.
  • Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed is a double LP set with nothing but continuous droning of guitar feedback and screeching noises. How anybody on Earth could've thought this wouldn't end in commercial disaster is a sheer mystery?
  • John Lennon and Yoko Ono's first three albums are all experimental recordings. Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins (1968) is basically John and Yoko experimenting with noise and feedback while Yoko wails. Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With The Lions (1969) has more of the same, though luckily only one LP side worth of that. The second side is Yoko and John singing newspaper articles, a recording of the heartbeat monitor of their unborn baby (who died in miscarriage), two minutes or pure silence and Yoko playing around with a radio. Wedding Album (1969) has John and Yoko saying their names for one entire LP side, while side 2 is a couple of songs, press interviews and background noise in their hotel room during their Bed-In peace project. Needless to say, it's not difficult to see why these albums are not often mentioned when people lament Lennon's genius as a songwriter!
  • Songs of the Humpback Whale was the first album with nothing but sounds of singing whales. At the time humans had always thought whales were mute, but this record proved otherwise. It was first released as an free record with an issue of National Geographic Magazine, because nobody thought anyone would buy it. Unexpectedly there was such a high demand for it that it was released as a full album and became an international bestseller. It was instrumental in showing people that these creatures' singing abilities were a hidden talent and cemented the image of the whale as a Gentle Giant in people's heads. The entire "Save The Whales" movement was inspired by this record and eventually the entire album was deemed so important that the National Recording Registry selected it for preservation.
  • Kenji Sawada's concept album Onnatachiyo. A concept album based on the Tale Of Genji from a singer mostly known for his anthemic live performances, with lyrics outright written in haiku freestyle, and complex instrumentation with Julie's backing band EXOTICS buried under layers of synthesizers from Yellow Magic Orchestra's Hideaki Matsutake. The album had virtually no live tour attached to it, and is probably the most polarizing album of Sawada's 80s albums.
  • "And We Run" by Within Temptation is a song that combines gothic/symphonic metal with rap. The two genres don't mix much (if at all) so many people were turned off; however, people that have heard the song typically have a positive reception.
  • Big Grams, consisting of rapper Big Boi and indietronica band Phantogram, wasn't able reach anything further than a niche audience. The combination of Southern Rap and glitchy-shoegaze-electropop was too odd to fit on either the urban or alternative formats. The ones that did listen to it, generally liked it however.
  • Panic! at the Disco's 2007 album Pretty.Odd! turned out to be this for the band's fanbase at the time. A throwback to 1960s bands, particularly The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, from a band continued to be emo pop, and which ultimately resulted in half the band departing to form a new band.

    Opera 
  • The Golden Ticket is a musically-sophisticated opera full of Genius Bonus musical in-jokes for buffs...but it's also an adaptation of a popular children's novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Critic James L. Paulk's review of the Atlanta Opera's staging for ArtsAtl.com was fairly positive, but pointed out that adults who love opera would likely find the source material too kiddy for their tastes, while kids wouldn't appreciate the jokes referencing adult operas and styles in the score and find proceedings too slow-going. (That much of the book's snarkier humor is absent doesn't help.) The result, according to Paulk, was a show that didn't sell a lot of tickets and had many families leaving at intermission — which is to say, kids didn't want to stick around for the actual tour of the factory! He also thought the show was too long for said kids at 2 and 1/2 hours with intermission. Compare this to the success of the 2013 stage musical adaptation of the novel, which has a similar runtime but not the same problem with kids getting bored...

    Pinball 
  • Bally's Spectrum was an attempt to combine the action of Pinball with the puzzle game Mastermind. Unfortunately, cerebral logic puzzles and arcade games are two great tastes that don't necessarily taste great together — of the 994 machines produced, fewer than five hundred were sold, and the others were scrapped or salvaged.
  • Pat Lawlor's Safe Cracker rewarded good players with Real Life tokens, which could be collected, used to play "Assault on the Vault", or (possibly) be redeemed for drinks and prizes. Players didn't care for any of the options and the idea never caught on.
  • Golden Logres tried to combine realistic pinball action with the mission-oriented structure of a Role-Playing Game. While die-hard players loved the challenge, it alienated everyone else who just wanted straightforward arcade action.
  • James Bond 007 was a time-based pinball game; the player starts off with 50 seconds, and can keep playing so long as he has time remaining, which he gets by making key shots. Unfortunately, novices couldn't build up enough time to enjoy the game, while experts found it easily exploitable for long games. The backlash was so bad that most operators tried to return the tables to Gottlieb as a result.
  • Orbitor 1 is a pinball game built on a transparent warped plexi-bowl, which causes the ball to loop and spiral as it travels along the table. Unfortunately, the sparse layout, simple rules, and sheer difficulty of aiming shots on an uneven surface quickly turns off most players.
  • Baby Pac-Man was an attempt to blend video games and pinball; a fan of one was unlikely to be a fan of the other. Those who happen to enjoy both had a hard time getting past the absurd difficulty and changes to the typical Pac-Man formula, such as starting with no Power Pellets and the Ghost AI being far more aggressive. It doesn't help that you have to be good at both Pac-Man and pinball in order to do well.
  • While The Twilight Zone is not a failure by any means and is a Cult Classic nowadays, it could not recapture the lightning in a bottle Bally achieved with The Addams Family prior because of its confusing layout and incredibly complicated rules. Those who could figure it all out had a blast. To everybody else, The Twilight Zone just didn't make any sense.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • While Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling started with the fairly tame premise of pro wrestlers competing against various martial artists and athletes from other sports, the "anything goes" nature of the bouts quickly saw an escalation to blood letting, burning, electrocution and worse. Those who watched FMW in its glory years will tell you it offered so many different match types that it was possible to still enjoy it while ignoring the more Garbage heavy matches and indeed, some did. On the flip side, when Kodo Fuyuki tried to introduce a safer style to FMW he called "sports entertainment", that was an audience alienating premise to the FMW faithful who had learned to like the occasional blood bath and those who stuck around ended up leaving too when they learned "sports entertainment" translated to less variety even among the normal matches. The concepts associated with "sports entertainment" would later be more successfully implemented by All Japan Pro Wrestling during its "Puroresu Love" rebuilding period and Fighting Opera HUSTLE.
  • A wrestling promotion with Vince Russo as booker that expects you to pay ten dollars a week, where the first thirty minutes of the first show featured nothing but talking. Wrestling fans wanting to torture themselves could see pretty much the same thing for free. But then more people started to notice, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, and Low Ki and declared the X Division to be a new landmark of pro wrestling! All the same, financial success wouldn't come to TNA until a while after Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle were signed.
  • The biggest point of contention regarding the transition from Yoshimoto Women's Pro Wrestling Jd' to JD Star was the "Athtress" program, which involved the promotion trying to get the wrestlers acting deals and to that end scouting trainees who had the looks of models for its dojo. A good deal of fans and workers alike were not amused by the idea of using the sport as a stepping stone to pop stardom and JD ended up losing as many fans in the transition as it gained. World Wonder Ring STARDOM found more success signing already famous model Yuzuki Aikawa and having veteran joshi Nanae Takahashi subjugate her to a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in her first match to garner audience sympathy.
  • The Syfy revival of ECW (aired on basic cable from 2006 to 2010) ended up being this, for various reasons. To begin with, the show was only an hour long, which left very little time to develop storylines amidst matches that could go on for as long as ten minutes or more. The original hardcore fanbase that had watched the pay-per-views religiously during the late '90s hated the fact that the promotion had been stripped of everything that had made the original ECW unique; worse, many of the biggest Extremists of that era were either taken off television or moved to the Raw and SmackDown rosters. And as if all that weren't bad enough, ECW was almost from the start treated as a second-class (and by the end of its run, even third-class) promotion, being used as a testing ground for new talent or a place where older wrestlers (William Regal, for example) went in the twilight of their in-ring careers - and by 2010, the promotion wasn't even fairly represented in the Royal Rumble Match! The result was a form of sports-entertainment that pleased no one, its only strong point being that it essentially introduced CM Punk to the world.

    Tabletop Games 
  • FATAL's premise is "What if, instead of playing in a sanitized Dungeons & Dragons-style fantasy world, you had one with all the negative traits of Ancient Rome and The Dung Ages and more casual references to rape than you can shake a stick at rolled into one?" Even if FATAL had been a masterwork of mechanical genius (which it isn't), with a premise like that, it wouldn't have made it big anyway. One of the most well-known memes about the "game" is "Roll for anal circumference!"note , an infamous thematic element are suits of magical armor that turn your character into offensive racial stereotypes and are named after racial slurs, and the sample adventure mentions a character called Cuntrina. The audience for this game seems to be racist, misogynistic young males who enjoy polynomials and scatological humor.
  • There is a half-finished RPG called Racial Holy War. The title alone probably satisfies any sane person's curiosity, but the premise is that in the future, folks without a lot of melanin are oppressed by racial stereotypes of those with a lot of melanin who have taken over the world at the behest of Jewish masters. The game seems aimed at Dungeons & Dragons playing Klansmen who were upset racial minorities weren't in the Monster Manual. Even the elements that are there are so badly designed that some people suspect it's a Stealth Parody.
  • Wraith: The Oblivion was part of the Old World of Darkness and falls into this trope. While the World of Darkness - as the name implies - is a Crapsack World, most of the games shot into A World Half Full and let you Earn Your Happy Ending. Even then, there was definitely some Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy in the setting and its metaplot, which was the slow wind-down to extinction. Wraith took all that darkness and doubled-down. Your character is already dead, is in the underworld harrowed by his own destructive impulses - which are trying to destroy him forever - and everything he has in the underworld is made from the souls of those too weak to stand. Many an Eldritch Abomination commands hordes of hungry, tormented spirits, and a restful afterlife looks to be little more than a happy fiction. The other wraiths live in a society that is a caricature of oppression in ancient Rome. The landscape and characters look like something H.G. Giger would paint if he were aiming for self-parody via BDSM. A few games of this, and even Warhammer sounds bright and cheery.
    • Charnel Houses of Europe stands out among these by being about wraiths spawned from the Holocaust.
    • Wraith also had a mechanic wherein every ghost had a "shadow" that turned up periodically to try to corrupt and undermine them, and each player character's shadow was played by another character's player. So not only was every player required to effectively play two characters (their PC and another PC's shadow) but the game had a built-in mechanic requiring players to screw each other over. The intent was to create deep, psychological roleplaying where the players got to flex their drama muscles as much as the GM; the effect was that most people saw it as a game that could only end in hurt feelings and recriminations.
  • Changeling: The Dreaming is another World of Darkness game that often got painted with this brush as well, and for the opposite reason - it came across as too bright, especially when the second edition outright told players that the Dreaming was supposed to be a bright contrast to the rest of the World of Darkness (illustrations like the "bear with balloons" certainly didn't help, making it seem almost childlike). And then those who were looking for a brighter game than, say, Vampire or Werewolf dug deeper, only to find that the whole game was about fighting against the death of imagination, a fight most changelings inevitably lost. Those who were looking for something along the lines of the rest of the World of Darkness found something covered in glitter; those who wanted something cheerier found the glitter flaked off easily.
  • Kindred of the East, while not quite as bad off as Wraith or Changeling, suffered some of this as well, as it required Westerners to have a decent understanding of Asian mysticism and religions. It never came close to the popularity of Vampire: The Masquerade and its many spin-offs.
    • To make the matters worse, if you do have even cursory understanding of Asian mysticism, then you start seeing major research failure of the authors.
  • Exalted, another White Wolf RPG, puts a mechanically deep combat system in a world of harsh politics, where a normal soldier can win a fight and die of gangrene, and where longterm change is as dependent on good bureaucracy as on the fist of immortal god-killing warriors, strongly inspired by and often tearing apart classical mythological heroes of the past. In the Second Edition, this happened to be behind a game best-known for playable characters waving surfboard-sized swords and throwing around blasts of energy like Dragon Ball Z, a part of the setting the mechanics theoretically supported but few GMs or players could, and even much of the writing staff focused on the Sutra-like Sidereal charms or the More Metal Than Thou effects found in the Green Sun Prince arsenal.
  • Yet another White Wolf RPG example, this time from the Chronicles of Darkness, is Promethean: The Created. Devoted to playing as golems ala Frankenstein's Monster with the goal of Become a Real Boy, Promethean suffers from a combination of fluff that is brilliantly written but very heavy on the Wangst, due to its emphasis on the Created's nature as In-Universe Hate Sinks and Walking Wastelands, an end-goal that many players find counter-intuitivenote , punishing mechanics that can easily make the game unfun, a susceptibility to Railroading, and just a general playstyle that demands a high level of maturity and good communication on the parts of both player and storyteller, due to the very intimate focus of the game. Much like Wraith before it, Promethean has earned a reputation amongst NWoD fans as "the greatest game that nobody plays". This has led directly to the authors trying to tone the game down in its second edition to hopefully make it more accessible.
  • And another game from the Chronicles of Darkness to suffer this is Beast: The Primordial. It's a hard enough sell to begin with, as it's unashamedly a game dedicated to playing as Villain Protagonists, but add in the fact that Beasts map onto the Abuser archetype all too well, the lack of "lightening" optionsnote , moral objections to the canonical "Beasts justify their feeding with the excuse of teaching humanity Wisdom Through Fear" angle, and perceived Unfortunate Implications about how Beasts "tie-in" to various real-world minorities, and Beast has become the most reviled gameline in the entirety of the Chronicles of Darkness.
  • Star Fleet Battles does this through sheer complexity. The premise is to make a game which captures the full in-universe depth of running the starships from Star Trek in combat. Many people take one look at the Door Stopper manual and opt out. A second, minor point of alienation is that the game has its own 'verse, which is likely to annoy some purists who would be more willing to invest in learning the game if it was "really Trek." However, the game has been around since 1979, so it has found sufficient fans to be a Long Runner.
  • Ironclaw is a good game. It has a fun, broad, and deep setting that allows for different kinds of game, it has a good gameplay system that strikes a decent balance between depth and usability, it offers the player lots of freedom in terms of what kind of character to build, and the rulebooks even have good production values for their price. Unfortunately, despite its quality, it will almost certainly never gain recognition as anything but a niche title because of the decision to replace all of the standard tabletop RPG Five Races Plus Hybrids with Funny Animals. Just imagine telling your group you're thinking about running campaign of "the furry game!"
  • GURPS marketing campaign is a chronic, self-inducted nightmare anytime the game system is released in a new market. The system by its own intention and design is universal, thus can be used as players choose. So selling basic books and supplements to mechanics is easy, going as far as ads comparing the expansions with new set of LEGO by their compatibility. More so as they are solid and with standarised and transparent rules for just about anything players can imagine. But selling settings for the game? Forget it. While there are tons of predefined settings, worlds and even whole universes made for GURPS, people are usually too preoccupied with "Generic" in the name of the game or with the idea of creating their own setting using "Universal" mechanics. Given that about 80-85% of all books released for GURPS are different, original and often very complex settings and their expansions, the struggle is real. Let's use the slogan "build your own game-world" and in the same time try to sell such worlds. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
The sheer number of settings make any large-scale marketing campaign impossible. Typical tabletop RPG have their own set of mechanics and own single setting, so it's very easy to focus or find a target group. In the case of GURPS, there are all shades and flavours of fantasy, sci-fi, realistic, cinematic, comedy, gritty and light-hearted settings you can imagine, or even those you never dreamed about. Thus while the game as a whole can satisfy any player, you just can't run ads for all the settings or go bankrupt trying.
  • Black Crusade was the first ever attempt to create a Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying game where the assumption was that the players would not be members of the Imperium. Unfortunately, it features three very alienating aspects. Firstly, extremely grimdark content matter — though some efforts were made to present a more neutral "no worse than the Imperium" viewpoint, the basic gist of the game is that you are committing all manner of atrocities, often against innocent civilians, for the sake of personal benefit. Secondly, the handling of both human and Space Marine party members boils down to making it that Chaos Marines are veritable gods of slaughter but almost useless at anything that doesn't involve that, whilst Heretics get to be inferior in combat but the "skill monkeys" of the group. Thirdly, and most damningly, actual in-rulebook support for inter-party conflict and struggling. All in all, a game only really viable for those groups mature enough and skilled enough to handle the backstabbing and infighting without disrupting the game, paired with very pigeonholing rule-structure and extreme gameplay fluff.
  • Bleak World is a very fun and simple horror/action/adventure RPG. However, it crammed too much into one area to ever appeal to a single audience. Essentially Lovecraftian Eldritch Abominations are threatening to destroy the Earth and an alien race of Magical Girls is the only thing stopping them from consuming us all... and that's about 5% of the plot, the rest is made up of vampire politics (complete with Twilight jokes/homages that also happily joke about millenials), werewolf politics, witches coming back to life and serving warring gods, Little Green Men invading Earth, twisted experiments Gone Horribly Wrong trying to become real humans again, Ghosts trying not to die again, mummies serving different gods from the ones the Princesses are fighting and the Witches are worshiping, a race of Giants and goblins trying to get back home, and finally the remnants of humanity just trying to survive all of that. Good luck trying to find a GM to fit all of that into a game.
  • Redakai was a trading card game doomed by it's own gimmick. The cards are actually translucent pieces of plastic, with paint on certain parts. By putting cards on top of one another, the new card inherits attributes of the ones under it, and attacks take the form of battle damage that reduces the victim's health bar. However, this also means that you needed a special board to prevent your opponent from seeing what you have. Combine this with the 'basic' game giving you no control over what happens, and you have a game that hit the bargain bin after just a couple of stes.

    Theater 
  • Stephen Sondheim shows are notorious for these. This is why, for all their acclaim, only a few of his musicals (Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, etc.) are well-known to the general public.
    • Follies: Two married couples who met in the glory days of Ziegfeld-style stage revues confront each other over their regrets for the past and unhappy present-day lives.
    • Pacific Overtures: Japan opening itself up to the encroaching Western world in the 19th century, with staging inspired by Kabuki theater (an all-male cast, etc.).
    • Sunday in the Park with George: Act One — Painter Georges Seurat chooses art over love. Act Two — His descendant in The '80s comes to grips with the struggle to create great art in a world full of critics.
    • Assassins: The men and women who assassinated, or tried to assassinate, American presidents.
    • Passion: In the 19th century, a young soldier has a Stalker with a Crush — a mentally unbalanced, homely, terminally ill woman who adores him. Notable for having the shortest-ever run of a Broadway show that won the Best Musical Tony Award, with 280 performances — less than a year's worth.
  • Imagine This was a 2008 West End musical set in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942, depicting a Jewish theater troupe that learns, during a Show Within a Show about the Biblical siege of Masada, that the ghetto's residents are being tricked into going to certain doom in the concentration camps. At the end, most of the troupe is murdered for trying to warn the audience. Not hard to see why this would-be inspiring musical didn't last two months (counting the preview period); both the main story and the Show Within a Show have downer endings, and the basic conceit of a Holocaust-set musical is a questionable one.
  • This might be one reason Andrew Lloyd Webber's Stephen Ward failed — it's a musical about the Profumo Affair, a political scandal with little relevance to those who weren't adults living in the U.K. in The '60s. That Lloyd Webber decided to open this dramatic, adult musical just in time for Christmas 2013 (when theatre audiences tend to gravitate towards lighthearted and/or fun-for-the-whole-family fare) couldn't have helped.
  • The 2014 West End musical comedy I Can't Sing! got some good notices, but when it closed in less than three months (again, counting a preview period), British theatre newspaper The Stage wasn't the only one to point out that the show had a shaky premise when it came to audience appeal — it was an officially-sanctioned parody of The X Factor, complete with backing from Simon Cowell himself. The audience who watched The X Factor on TV wasn't interested in paying West End ticket prices for a parody of something they could watch at home, while regular theatergoers were turned off by the self-promoting, lowbrow concept. To make matters much worse, the overconfident producers gave it a huge physical production and staged it in one of the largest theatres in town (the Palladium), so whatever good word-of-mouth there was from those who did see it wasn't nearly enough to fill the theatre and justify the day-to-day running expenses.
  • Side Show is a musical drama based on the lives of Violet and Daisy Hilton, conjoined twins who became 1930s vaudeville stars and are best remembered today (if at all) for their appearance in the film Freaks. The original 1997 Broadway staging was a flop, but the show has an intense enough fanbase that it received a revival in 2014...which had an even shorter run. Ads for both versions tried to get around the premise by not directly stating it, but that didn't help. To quote a New York Times article on the revival's closure:
    "We’d tell clients that the show was about conjoined twins, Siamese twins, and it just created horrible images in people’s heads," Scott Mallalieu, the president of GreatWhiteWay.com, a theater ticketing agency, said. "The only clients who bought tickets had seen the original Side Show on Broadway and loved it. Everyone else was turned off."
  • Goosebumps was adapted as a screenplay titled Screams in the Night; mere months after its premiere it was put on indefinite hiatus and never reaired. In addition to rather poor writing, the fact that Goosebumps appealed to young fans of horror and not adults who appreciate theatre didn't help it gain an audience.
  • Hamilton is something of real-life subversion. Michelle Obama admits that, after she and her husband invited Lin-Manuel Miranda to perform at the White House poetry slam and he told them he planned to perform a piece about Alexander Hamilton, they were...less than excited. And sure enough, when the performance did happen, the audience breaks out into bemused laughter as he explains that he will perform a hip-hop piece about Alexander Hamilton, as he felt embodied hip-hop. Even while singing the song itself, the audience starts laughing once he gets to the part where he solemnly repeats Hamilton's name. However, as proof that Tropes Are Not Bad, the musical has become enormously successful anyway - Michelle Obama later stated that it was the best work of art she'd seen in any form, ever, and the show is widely considered to be a very famous case of Better Than It Sounds.
  • Spring Awakening:
    • The original, containing a lot of teen angst, a masturbation scene, underage sex, gay kisses, incest, suicide, and advertised "real onstage nudity", had a lot going against it. Ended up nominated for 11 Tony Awards and won 8.
    • The revival, which incorporated American Sign Language, censored nothing from the original, and had cast members with varying hearing abilities, turned off some hearing audience members who didn't want to see a "deaf musical", assuming it'd be incomprehensible. Result: Nominated for three Tonys and got a national tour.

    Toys 
  • LEGO:
    • It is generally believed that this was a major reason behind the failure of LEGO's Robo Riders theme. Their previous attempt at buildable, collectible action figures, Slizers, was a big hit for its creative setting (robots in different elemental settings) and for the uniqueness of the models. However, whereas the Slizers were identifiable characters with posable limbs, Robo Riders were essentially goofy-looking alien motorbikes with weird weaponry attached. They came with no rider figures, nor did they have seats — instead, the wheels were the riders, with printed decals on the sides of the wheels representing the otherwise unbuildable characters. And they launched these wheels like projectiles, meaning that every shot reduced the bikes to a nonfunctional mess with one wheel at the end. The concept was too esoteric for kids who wanted more Slizers sets, and the line failed.
      Learning from this mistake, LEGO began working together more closely with creative agencies and storytellers for their next line, BIONICLE, and turned what was originally conceptualized as a story of robot tribesmen beating each others' heads off into a more serious Science Fantasy epic that resonated well with its audience, and became one of their most popular series. Ironically, BIONICLE itself became an example in its later years because kids couldn't keep up with its over-thought continuity, and after nine and a half years, LEGO had to cancel it. The later reboot was significantly simplified.
    • Galidor's tie-in LEGO line: a bunch of overpriced gimmicky action figures with swappable body parts and virtually no compatibility with other LEGO sets. May have been more successful as a regular toy line made by another company, but LEGO lovers hated the enormous, useless pieces and other buyers didn't know where to put these weird, expensive toys (the LEGO logos, which may have given them confidence about the product's quality, were hidden on the boxes).
    • Around the same time as Galidor, LEGO attempted to reach out to kids who didn't like building toys. The result was the Jack Stone line, LEGO sets with (again) big, specialized pieces and very little in the way of construction. Too "juniorized" (and still LEGO) for bigger kids, not exciting enough for smaller children, and unacceptable for adults. However, this building style was kept for a few years, strictly promoted towards a younger crowd, before being abandoned.
  • Novi Stars was a doll line aimed at little girls where all the characters were Ugly Cute alien and robot girls. It barely lasted two years. And their fairly cheap make sadly turned away most toy collectors interested.
  • Back in 1965, Hasbro once made a doll called Little Miss No Name, in an attempt to tug at little girls' heart strings by offering them a toy modeled after a sad homeless girl. Unfortunately, this toy proved to be unsuccessful not only because of her depressing backstory of being lonely and wanting a good home, but also because she looked rather creepy due to her large eyes and soulless frown.
  • Transformers Action Masters were, simply and infamously put, Transformers toys that didn't transformnote . Instead, they came with gadgets, nonhuman partners, and even larger vehicles which turned into weapons, making for a more convention toy-line along the lines of G.I. Joe or M.A.S.K.. Not only did this screw over what made Transformers unique and memorable, but the end result was too surreal to be taken seriously on its own; not only was Bumblebee (who becomes a small car) the same size as Devastator (Who is combined from six robots who become construction vehicles), but Optimus Prime and Wheeljack ended up driving a Big Badass Rig and a Cool Car, when they're famous for turning into those vehicles (which begs the question of whether the Transformers shrunk down or their vehicles were absurdly huge).

    Video Games 
  • JFK: Reloaded: A simulation game where you fire the fateful shot that kills John F. Kennedy, scoring you based on how well you were able to recreate the actual assassination. It's actually pretty educational, and developed with the noble goal of disproving the Conspiracy Theories surrounding the shooting, but the fact that it's a game whose entire point is shooting a President turns an awful lot of people off (and then there's the potential to send the scenario completely Off the Rails...)
  • The Unholy War is a great game which combined fast paced combat with very slow paced turn-based strategy, not targeting any of those two genres' audiences. Action-oriented gamers are scared by the "slow and meticulous" chess-like gameplay while the strategy-oriented gamers are scared by the "quick and dumb" action gameplay.
  • American hate groups have put out a few video games, the most infamous of which is Zog's Nightmare. The games mirror those groups' views, which should be enough to explain why they fit this trope.
    • This also applies pretty well to several satirical Flash games that PETA has released. One of the most recent (and well known) was Pokémon Black and Blue, a Pokémon... parody, for lack of a better word... that focused on animal cruelty. Those who agreed with PETA wouldn't bother playing it, and basically everyone else was very much turned off by the concept. To say that Pokémon fans in particular were deeply offended would be a gross understatement. While Nintendo with earlier parodies took this with stride, making PSA's needing to inform that, for example, Mario isn't wearing the skin of a tanuki, but donning a tanuki-based costume, the Pokémon one was the final straw. They threatened legal action against PETA if they didn't take it down and stop.
  • Criminal Girls is an above-average dungeon crawler with excellent characterization, but good luck getting anyone to see beyond the Squicky premise about beating and torturing teenage girls into subservience.
  • Death Smiles, a side scrolling Shoot 'em Up by CAVE, got a lot of flak for the Gothic Lolita artwork of the game. Most is nice, tasteful and beautiful, but too many instances of pre-teen girls getting sensual with each other (including a bubble bath scene) has gotten the game an ill reputation among fans, mainly Americans. Most Shump fans will warn potential players to ignore the artwork for the intricate gameplay for a reason.
  • Something similar happens with Otomedius, which is a Gradius parody game which exchanges the spaceships with scantily-clad females showing off their bosom.
  • On the other side of the coin, there is Cho Aniki, a Shoot 'em Up with muscular guys in speedos.
    • Although not really a male counterpart for the fanservice-ey games listed here, seeing as how anybody would be hard-pressed to find the imagery arousing rather than bizarre and humorous
  • Super Columbine Massacre RPG, a freeware RPG Maker game where you play as the two Columbine shooters who go on their infamous murderous rampage. The second half of the game involves the duo going to Hell fighting enemies from Doom and becoming minions of Satan (the South Park version).
  • Spec Ops: The Line looked like a typical war shooter while telling a tale of madness, despair, and horror. The kind of "games are art" player who might appreciate the Whole Plot Reference to Heart of Darkness would be put off because it looks so much like a modern military shooter. Fans of military shooters found a game that came from an obscure low-budget franchise that continued to be low-budget (indeed, this is what the game was marketed and previewed as) with dated Take Cover gameplay that didn't compare to the already existing juggernauts in the modern military shooter and were given a You Bastard experience that accused them of being violent sadists and told them what they already knew (hey, kids! war and violence are bad!). The game's real audience turned out to be those who weren't fans of modern military shooters or violent video games, though many of them also passed on the game due it looking like every other modern military game from the advertising.
    • The game's lead writer, Walt Williams, acknowledged that the nature of the game made it practically impossible to effectively market, considering that part of the force of the game's narrative comes from it initially resembling a typical military shooter only to pull the rug out from under the player: revealing that the game is a Genre Deconstruction significantly dilutes the impact. For this reason Williams anticipated that the game would not prove to be a massive commercial success but would end up as a Cult Classic.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was an ahead-of-its-time postmodernist deconstruction of the recycled tropes of fiction and the escapist nature of video games, married to a stirring examination of the themes of life, love, and building a better future... as the sequel to a popular, story-heavy but relatively-straightforward stealth-action game. The creators predicted this trope, so said premise was deliberately hidden by the marketing lead-up, to ensure that people who otherwise wouldn't be interested in the game would still buy and play it. Unfortunately, subverted expectations can be even more alienating than just an off-kilter premise. Nowadays, it gets more respect than it used to, but at the time it was the very definition of a Contested Sequel.
  • Stretch Panic is about a girl who uses a possessed scarf to fight her demon-possessed sisters. She must exorcise the demons, which require points that you must obtain by pinching and stretching women with comically over-sized breasts.
  • Ar tonelico has an interesting and highly detailed magic system, a fascinating After the End world full of Magitek where humanity is on the brink of extinction and the planet is so scarred it's trying to commit suicide, and some of the most beautiful music to be found in JRPGs. It's also better known for its main gameplay feature of guarding and exploring the psyches of emotionally vulnerable, magic-using young women who get dressed in increasingly fanservicey costumes or, as of the third game, progressively strip off more and more clothes over the course of a fight to draw on more power. The first game felt a little like the fanservice was thrown in to draw attention, but after that they kept pushing for more.
  • The Clown Prince Rises is a freeware game recreating the Aurora shootings. To make a video game about such a horrific tragedy (and put you in the shoes of the one who instigated it) won't exactly endear you to the audience.
  • Rapelay is, quite literally, a rape simulator. Even with the success of rape-heavy visual novels this fails, since the gameplay amounts to "Hold down mouse button, watch bar fill". People not into rape scenarios reject the game on sight; people into them are bored by the stale mechanics.
  • A similar problem plagued Can't Escape the Heroine, a video game involving a man trying to fight off women who want to rape him. People not into rape will get turned off immediately, while those into it will be disappointed by the fact that the goal is to avoid rape.
  • A Corny Voyage is a mod for Half-Life 2. The gameplay is a zero G racer where the player pilots a piece of undigested sweetcorn through a person's intestines to reach the anus. Seriously.
  • Boogerman is a platformer about an Eccentric Millionaire who fights enemies with farts, belches, and boogers. Not exactly a game you'd want to play if you've eaten recently or just don't find Toilet Humour funny at all.
  • Lose/Lose is a space shooter in which killing enemies results in random files in your Home folder being permanently deleted. The premise alone is more than enough to scare people away from even downloading it. Unsurprisingly, it's classified as malware by several antiviruses.
  • This might be what prevents the BlazBlue series from gaining wider recognition. Originally envisioned as an RPG, it was eventually changed into a fighting game during development. As such, it's far more story heavy than just about any other fighting series. The cutscenes are often pretty long, to the point that the game can feel more like a Visual Novel with a few gameplay segments than a proper fighting game. Not only that, but the plot is incredibly complex, involving time loops, clones, mystical essence and conspiracies aplenty. To make things even more inaccessible, a lot of key information about the story is found only in various light novels and audio dramas, none of which have been officially translated, and many of which haven't been unofficially translated either. Players who care only about the matches may not have any problems, but players who don't want to completely forsake the plot might find it a daunting task to understand just what the heck's going on. An illustrative comparison can be made to another Arc System Works game, Persona 4: Arena, which in many ways is a Spiritual Successor, but is far more popular; unlike BlazBlue, the game is a spin-off from an already massively-popular roleplaying game notorious for its long cutscenes and complicated plot, and so both elements can be applied to the game without fear of chasing off players, since the people most likely to pick it up have already demonstrated they're willing to tolerate such.
    • The gameplay aspects aren't much better. One of the game's major selling points is that every character has a different mechanic based around one of the buttons; for example, Arakune can summon insects, while Carl uses the same button to control his puppet. This means that every character plays uniquely, unlike some games that bog down in clone characters. Unfortunately, many gamers look at this and think, "So nothing I learn playing one character will transfer to any others?" The massive learning curve implied by the concept is a turn-off to a lot of people. Even those players who can get past the concept may be disappointed to realize that, aside from that one button, many of the characters play almost exactly like the cast of Guilty Gear (most notoriously Ragna and Jin, who are respectively near-copies of Sol and Ky).
  • Wall Street Kid for the NES. Yeah, a stock market simulator is not exactly a concept with mass appeal, especially when it's being sold on the same eight bit console as Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. Add some very, very boring aesthetics on top of that (the game is literally about 90% just white text on a black background) and you've got a game which was kind of doomed to fail from the start.
  • Sengoku Rance: It's a text heavy Eastern RPG series where the protagonist is a Heroic Comedic Sociopath serial rapist. It has an interesting relationship with Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil while playing with all other Sexual Harassment and Rape Tropes, mostly for comedy.
  • Lester The Unlikely. It's the story of a Hollywood Nerd and his journey to discover his inner strength and self-confidence, which later manifests as outer strength and the ability to kick ass. Most people never figure this out, because you spend the first half of the game playing as a Hollywood Nerd who is deathly afraid of turtles and is highly vulnerable to fall damage.
  • Custer's Revenge is a pornographic game for the Atari 2600, a system with extreme graphical limitations, about General Custer raping a Native American woman tied to what is either a pole or a cactus. There is no getting past the blocky low-resolution graphics (in a porn game) and gameplay that's primitive and repetitive even by early 1980s standards, even before you start on how horrendously racist and sexist the premise is (even though it's fairly tame in-game, because of the aforementioned bad graphics). And it was the most expensive Atari 2600 game, retailing a few pennies shy of $50! Despite being unfit for gamers, masturbators, consumers and anyone with tasteful social politics, it ended up selling well entirely due to its Bile Fascination.
  • Papers, Please has a very engaging story about working border control for an oppressive communist government and having to make difficult moral choices about certain people trying to make it into the country. Most of the gameplay, however, can be summed up as basically a paperwork simulator revolving around stamping passports. If it wasn't for all the positive press it was getting, it could've easily dropped right under the radar.
  • One of the major complaints leveled against Divekick. The mechanics are extremely simple to the point of using only two buttons, suggesting a fighting game for fighting game newbies, but the game also contains a plethora of references to the Fighting Game Community that few outside of it would get, and is more of a parody of fighting games than anything else. Despite this, it still managed to be fairly popular amongst the FGC anyway despite (or even because of) how simple the mechanics are.
  • Hatred, a video game about a misanthrope going on a killing spree without any hint of irony or satire, caused massive amounts of controversy, even before the game was pulled from Steam. But even that was nothing to what followed when Gabe Newell himself put the game back up and apologized for the pulling in the first place, which only lead to more debates over free speech and censorship, and bad taste for real life shootings which were still fresh in the public's minds and the ones which followed. Even those who were into the scenario of this game, or just looked past the controversy, eventually tuned out due to the rather average gameplay and ham-fisted attempts to be edgy.
  • Viva Pińata while it had minimal success, and an animated series. The problem was that it failed towards both age demographics. Most teens and adults were turned off as it looked too kiddy, while many kids were turned off because the micromanagement was too complicated.
  • Although Mortal Kombat is among the biggest fighting game franchises, the series' heavy emphasis on gory violence and finishers could well turn off many people. There is a reason why the series gained attention in the news when it first debuted.
  • Senran Kagura is a Beat 'em Up/Hack and Slash series about rival ninja schools with a story that is both light-hearted and dark. It is also a series filled with busty females, Clothing Damage is really common and fanservice is not something it is trying to hide, causing people to turn away from it.
  • Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City is a platformer in which Michael Jordan has to rescue the Chicago Bulls from a mad scientist. Despite being a well-made game, it gets a bad reputation from the premise alone and is often unfavorably compared to Shaq Fu. It doesn't help that both games were released by Electronic Arts in late 1994.
  • Akatsuki Blitzkampf is a sort-of pioneer among doujin fighting games thanks to the oldschool-like charm of its game mechanics, the Darker and Edgier graphics and the dystopia-like setting. But The Protagonist, Akatsuki, is an officer of this world's equivalent of the Imperial Japanese Navy from World War II ( and so is the Big Bad Murakumo), while many antagonists in both the original, its remakes and the sequel are straight-up Those Wacky Nazis by other names. It's really not needed to explain how... awkward these details can be for some gamers.
  • Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl. Take a franchise that's beloved by fans for the ability to create your own completely customizable party, and then take that entire aspect out, and you see the problem with Etrian Odyssey Untold. Sure, you could still create your own party in Classic Mode, but then you lost out on all the new content, including the Gunner and Highlander classes and the second dungeon.
  • Subverted by Kantai Collection. As a game where you command anthropomorphized WW2 Axis warships to do battle against thinly-veiled stand-ins for the Allies and the battles of the Pacific War, while there are portions of the American and Asian audience that disdain it, it is also surprisingly popular in China, which is the last place any student of history would expect it to have a favourable reception.
  • Harvest Moon is a series where you're a farmer. To many people this just sounds boring, though the life simulation and Dating Sim elements are the main draw to many fans. On the opposite people who really enjoy farming might not enjoy the fluffy, unrealistic nature compared to other farm simulation games.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds has run into this problem due to the game's origins as a former My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fangame that got Screwed by the Lawyers and then got re-imagined as an original IP. A few fans of My Little Pony have been turned off by the fact that the characters they know and love are no longer part of the game, while some potential players might be turned off by its connection to My Little Pony. Also, there's the problem of the game having cute animal characters, but instead of offering a simplified Fighting Game experience for newcomers to the genre, the creators have decided to go for a full-fledged 2D fighter, which is known for being one of the most complex genres for newcomers. This means that, in theory, the game can only fully appeal to people who are fans of My Little Pony, Lauren Faust (she helped design the characters and story), or cute animals, don't mind the fact that the ponies were removed from the game, and are also hardcore Fighting Game players.
  • That Dragon, Cancer has garnered rave reviews in the tech press and on Steam, but it's about watching your child die of cancer. Does that sound like fun to you?
  • The flagship franchises of Team Ninja, Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden, get this sometimes. The former because of its extremely heavy amounts of Fanservice (causing it to be mistaken for a softcore porn series by some and not be taken as seriously in the fighting game crowd as other franchises) and the latter for being so ludicrously difficult (to the point of scaring off casual audiences). Team Ninja seems aware of this to some degree and have made fun of it a few times.
  • Street Fighter V: Capcom was worried about this during broadcasts of their Capcom Pro Tour tournaments. As such, they started placing bans on their sexier DLC costumes at tournaments. This move served to immediately divide fans, with some deriding Capcom for censorship and others stating that such a ban basically proves Capcom knows how ridiculous the Stripperiffic costumes look.
    • The gameplay itself is this trope. It is the most simplified Street Fighter since Street Fighter 2. The idea was that the simplified gameplay would bring in new players, while a stripping-down of singleplayer content and a stronger focus on online and competitive play would bolster the hardcore fanbase. The result was that the casual audience complained that there was not enough singleplayer content, while the hardcore audience complained that the game was too dumbed-down and boring. The idea was that the game would sell 2 million copies in it's first month, 8 months after release it still hasnt reached 2 million.
  • Drakengard is set in an extremely crapsack dark fantasy setting, with its main character being a sadistic mass murderer, and his companions being his haughty misanthropic dragon, a baby-eating cannibal elf woman, and the most sympathetic character being a blind priest who is implied to be a pedophile. When asked about why the game was the way it was, director and writer Taro Yoko said that he felt it was important to stand out from the likes of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, since there was no point in competing with them. He was proven right as the game,despite falling into Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy for most people, did win a small but dedicated cult following precisely because it was different from other games, and the series has continued on since.
  • Akiba's Trip is a wacky game set in Tokyo's famous Otaku-centric district Akihabara and it's very authentic compared to the real thing... until you realize that the gameplay is about fighting a gang of artificial vampires by tearing their clothes off (in some cases including underwear) to expose them to sunlight.
  • My Sims. It's like The Sims, but for younger players (and Asia, since the game was supposedly made to appeal to Asian markets). It has a Moe-tastic art style, LEGO-esque furniture assembling, and quite a few lovable characters, but they took out certain aspects of The Sims that fans loved (like killing Sims). Not to mention the fact that PeanutButterGamer hated pretty much every series entry. Surprisingly, it has a devoted fanbase, mostly due to the aforementioned lovable characters and because it started getting Surprisingly Improved Sequels immediately, starting with MySims Kingdom.
  • Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. requires its audience to be fans of (or at least have an interest in) four different topics: turn-based strategy games, the art and motifs of American comics books, classic literature (some of it decidedly obscure, in the case of Califia), and steampunk. Rare was it to find anyone who shared more than two of those interests.
  • Screencheat is a multiplayer competitive FPS where everybody is invisible and so players must watch other people's screens to locate the opponent, parodying the Forgotten Trope of 90s-style split-screen multiplayer. This unorthodox gameplay style is a parody of a dated style of gameplay that is unappealing to most people used to competitive, network-based modern shooters, and completely incomprehensible to those who don't remember the 90s.
  • Many Art Games. Games of this style tend to have much lower production values than mainstream commercial games, less of an emphasis on gameplay and intelligibility, and only word-of-mouth marketing. Those who are just there to play games will pass them over for more accessible gameplay-focused titles, and non-gamers who would otherwise be interested in the art aspects lack the medium literacy to enjoy games at all. The only audience for these sorts of games ends up being the sort of artsy, intellectualising video game obsessive who writes analysis blogs, leading to Hype Backlash problems when gameplay-focused gamers see positive reviews of games only interesting for their aesthetic content.
  • TIS-100, Shenzhen IO, the Kerbal Space Program Game Mod kOS, and similar programming-a-virtual-machine games have extremely limited appeal. People who can't program can't play them, people who can program find them dumbed-down, and people who are trying to learn programming get to spend hours fiddling around with a language that does not exist and is too simple to do anything with, instead of learning anything useful.

    Visual Novels 

    Webcomics 
  • Homestuck is so notorious for the trope, that fans of the comic trying and inevitably failing to get their peers interested in reading it has become a meme unto itselfnote . This is mostly due to the sheer size of the project (8127 pages in total when it finally finished, which vary in length from single images to Wall of Text chat logs to interactive Flash games); the complexity of the plot making it impossible to explain to the uninitiated; and the video game-centric nature of it. Additionally, in order fully get all the jokes, it is almost a prerequisite that you read the three comics that came before it: Problem Sleuth, which is a monumental read in and of itself, Bard Quest, an unfinished experiment, and Jailbreak, the first, and as a consequence the least polished of all the creator's work. And on top of all this, in order to reach the parts anyone talks about, you have to read through a good 1500 pages of buildup; even the fanbase jokes about how slow and boring the first two chapters are.
  • Dinosaur Comics is a dadaistic comic whose art is literally the same six panels in the same positions for each comic; only the dialogue changes from comic to comic. It does have a tiny yet dedicated fanbase, though.
  • Billy the Heretic is white power propaganda. That alone is enough to scare away most potential readers.
  • Kit N Kay Boodle is graphic furry porn... written with children's book-esque dialogue and drawn with a cutesy, adorable art style that looks like something out of Care Bears. Most furries are going to be put off by its childishness, while any kid who reads it will most likely get scarred for life.
  • Pastel Defender Heliotrope combines cutesy anime-esque art and plot points with an insanely complicated and confusing storyline, lots of continuity references to its similarly confusing precursor Unicorn Jelly, and Author Tracts highly characteristic of its creator.
  • US Angel Corps, a Gorn comic by notorious artist David Cheung, is about an all-girl black-ops group who repeatedly and messily die. And get raped. Usually in that order. The subject matter is enough to drive off 95% of readers, while the majority of guro fans find its objectification of women and fetishism of their suffering (there's a lot of emphasis on the girls crying and begging for their lives) to be too much even for them to tolerate. Outside of the tiny percentage of hardcore Cheung fans, nobody likes this series.
  • Satan And Me is about a girl who accidentally summons Satan. He's then forced to live with her because she refuses to release him on the basis that keeping him captive prevents him from going around causing trouble. Slice of Life hijinks and occasional drama ensue. That alone isn't an alienating premise (unless you're not into demons), but the specific method she unwittingly uses is - She summoned him by menstruating onto a pad that the manufacturers accidentally printed an insignia on. Ironically, the series came about in the first place specifically because some Tumblr users were musing that it'd be a funny idea for a webcomic. The trope's also lampshaded by the username of the Tumblr blog that hosts it - "thisiskindagross".
  • Jack, by David Hopkins, is a Furry Webcomic which has a fairly cartoonish art style, but is also an extremely dark story about the afterlife starring the (furry) Grim Reaper and contains a lot of graphic sex and violence. Many people are turned off by either or both cutesy, furry art style and dark, religious commentary that tries to take itself dead seriously.
  • Mountain Time is a surrealist stick-figure comic with inane "plots" that are often resolved in equally inane ways. It makes frequent references to literature, B movies, and obscure music. That, combined with the rough artwork and hand-lettering, is enough to prevent most readers from noticing that it's actually pretty funny.
  • In general, Gunnerkrigg Court is a perfectly reasonable and non-alienating comic, but the premises for some of the individual chapters are amusingly bizarre or boring sounding, leading to The Rant often lampshading this by jokingly thanking the reader for having bothered to read them:
    "Thank you for reading this chapter about girls getting haircuts."

    Web Original 
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a terrific movie that turns classic villain and hero tropes on their ear. It won a lot of awards, and it would have won one more if there was an award for Worst Name For A Movie Ever. Many potential fans refused to see the film purely because of the title; it's not exactly unreasonable to expect something called a "Sing Along Blog" to be awful.
  • Brows Held High: A Web Video series where the host reviews arthouse movies. You know: those difficult pretentious and boring movies that most people don't watch or care about, but will still dismiss as stupid.
  • CinemaSins follows the efforts of an inattentive nitpicker in listing everything he found "wrong" in movies both famous and infamous. Some people find this series funner than others.

    Western Animation 
  • The Critic could be this trope's codifier for the medium. It revolves around a Straw Critic — a fat, bald, acerbic, whiny loser — but portrays him sympathetically as often as not, particularly regarding his struggle against his boss's and popular culture's Anti-Intellectualism. The second season is Lighter and Softer; Jay gets a romantic interest with a Cousin Oliver attached. To the show's credit, it maintains its high level of humor and benefits from the more varied character dynamics the new arrivals allow. But even at the time, fans of the show knew it was Too Good to Last; on ABC in Season 1 it didn't fit in with any of the network's "wacky family" comedies, and when it made its Channel Hop for Fox in Season 2 it would be Screwed by the Network.
  • Assy McGee is about a Cowboy Cop named Assy McGee, who is literally a talking ass. Unsurprisingly it's one of the few shows [adult swim] treats as an Old Shame.
  • Fox's Peter Pan & the Pirates was a cartoon with some great writing and storytelling, that was surprisingly gothic and occasionally scary at times. Why didn't it do well? Well, it's about Peter Pan, and yet it takes itself dead seriously and has more mature storytelling than you'd expect given the source material. Hence, little kids who might be drawn in by Peter Pan got scared away, and older kids who'd enjoy the story took one look at who it's about and decided it was kiddy. Note that the original novel was very dark in its way, as well (at the end, Tinkerbell is dead, and Peter is too childlike to remember, or care, who she was, for example). But, thanks to Disneyfication, anything that returns to the spirit of the original alienates everyone.
  • Similarly, there's Sam & Max: Freelance Police. The show's main humor was incredibly fast-paced dialogue to the point that adults can get lost, and unlike Animaniacs, there wasn't much in the way of Slapstick to balance it out — the main duo were able to laugh off whatever Amusing Injuries they were subject to as if it barely happened. On top of that, it aired at a time when the Animation Age Ghetto was only just starting to be broken, so most grown-ups wouldn't have expected much from what was to them another duo of Funny Animals. Since the preexisting Sam & Max franchise was a Cult Classic, any veteran fans interested wouldn't be enough to sustain the show for more than a season.
  • While Beast Machines was certainly a successful series overall, it is a bit of an oddball in the history of Transformers cartoons and suffered A LOT of hate from fans of Beast Wars. This is probably in no small part thanks to the unusual themes and morals explored — predominantly nature vs. technology. It also had a notably dark overall tone despite being aimed at children.
    • A major part of this hate was the fact that the show decided to twist up continuity so that Cybertron, the metal home of the Transformers, had apparently originally been an organic planet. This displeased a lot of fans.
  • Allen Gregory. The show is about a homeschooled 7-year-old played by Jonah Hill, who is forced to attend elementary school when his gay parents hit hard times, and thus has little idea on how to act as a kid. That could have worked very well... if not the fact that 'both the title character and his father were unrepentant Jerkasses, especially to the daughter character (who was an unfunny and rather darkly played Meg ripoff). The fact that one of the parents wasn't actually gay but rather gave in to a gay relationship because the other wouldn't leave him alone despite several restraining orders angered quite a few people in the gay community because of what it implied didn't help matters either. It also contained a recurring subplot about Gregory attempting to date his principal, who is in her 70s, and his infatuation was protrayed far too sexually to be considered a Precocious Crush. The show reeked of Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy, was met with poor reviews, and canceled after just 7 episodes due to poor ratings.
  • The European series Popetown was set in the Vatican, and featured an impish Pope who came off as a Spoiled Brat, as well as corrupt cardinals; much of the humor is rather sexual, scatological, or just plain stupid. Despite initial interest from viewers, the ensuing religious controversy over how offensive it was to Catholics kept it off the air long enough for any real interest to dry up.
  • Wanting to get in on the popularity of gritty action cartoons from Japan, Warner Bros. came up with Loonatics Unleashed which re-invented Looney Tunes characters as intimidating crimefighters in a dark cyberpunkish setting. Unfortunately people who would've been interested in the Looney Tunes were turned off by the dark-looking setting and action emphasis, and people who wanted to see anthropomorphic superhero action were put on their guard by the fact that the characters were based on Funny Animal cartoons famous for zany slapstick. Due to a backlash the premise was changed into a much more standardized superhero cartoon that received mixed reviews at best. Further attempts were made to fix the show in the second season by lightening things even further and reintroducing nearly all the other classic characters, but despite that and angling even more obviously for another season, the show was cancelled after that season ran its course.
  • To a lesser extent, this might also be the reason The Looney Tunes Show never became the smash hit the channel was hoping for. Sitcom fans were turned off by the Funny Animal cast and Looney Tunes fans probably didn't care for the show's very different humor style and personalities for the 'Tunes. Not helping was the common criticism that the show wasn't sure of which of the two it wanted to appeal to or even the age of its target audience.
  • Pelswick was unable to gain much of an audience due to taking too many risks at once. It had a paraplegic protagonist, which is a pretty big risk by itself, unfortunately, especially since it made the bold choice to have it not define his entire character. Then it was set in a Fantastic Comedy (the protagonist receives advice from a guardian angel only he can see), and some of the people who liked the reality aspect found the fantasy aspect confusing to the point they couldn't enjoy it, as well as having an unconventional art style which some people find off-putting in and of itself. For good measure, the show employed mature humor about political correctness and then aimed the series at kids, complete with a far-from-subtle Aesop structure that older people were turned off by. All of this resulted in being cancelled after 26 episodes and not released on DVD with a handful of fans (Funimation wanting to focus more on My Dad the Rock Star certainly didn't help matters).
  • This is the reason My Little Pony Tales flopped. Fans of the usually fantasy-themed My Little Pony franchise found the slice-of-life elements dull and cliché, while most slice-of-life fans couldn't get beyond the fact that the cast is all brightly-coloured talking ponies. It's still a controversial topic in the MLP fandom decades later.
  • The High School A.U. concept of Equestria Girls had the bronies foaming at the mouth before it was even confirmed, and when it was you could hear the angry mob and pitchforks in the distance. People have warmed up a fair amount to it now, but there's still a very vocal area of the fanbase that hates its very premise. Part of the reason why it wasn't (and still is to an extent) well liked was that fans felt like the direction the Spin-Off took sort of spits in the face of Lauren Faust's (Who had left the show's production after season 2) original vision for the show.
    • Even a minor cameo from a previously film-only character in a regular episode caused quite a stir, in part because the writers had to pretty much promise to keep the movie self-contained. And then a sequel was announced...
  • Almost Naked Animals. The entire cast is animals who have all their fur shaved off, and wear only underwear, for no specific reason. And they all work at an island cabana. And the art style is very ugly, to say the least, and NOT in an Ugly Cute kind of way.
  • The premise of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is potentially debilitating. Namely, for all the heroes' wisdom and derring-do, they are all suckers fooled by Palpatine who is Playing Both Sides to weaken them in order to finally seize power in Revenge of the Sith. It's also likely to be a turn-off to Star Wars fans both casual and hardcore who disliked the prequels, since it's only natural to expect it to offer more of the stuff they didn't like there. This was in many ways true — the show featured Ashoka Tano, a Kid-Appeal Character, used Jar Jar Binks (already one himself) for several comedic stories, Padme for many political-themed ones, featured all of the same characters in prominent roles, featured the child version of Boba Fett several times, and, naturally, featured the clone army extensively.
  • This is what doomed The Goode Family from the start. King of the Hill works because the deeply conservative regions of the United States are well known in other areas of the continent (and probably the world), and those living in those regions were more flattered than anything to have a well-written sitcom set in the area. The Goode Family, on the other hand, is set in the strongly liberal Bay Area, whose culture is much more obscure and whose people felt insulted. As such, the humor and satire in The Goode Family was incomprehensible and the setting too surreal for most viewers, the only people whom it'd really appeal to being those familiar with the area and either dissatisfied with living there or can take a joke at their expense. It was yanked off the air as soon as its first season finished.
  • SheZow is an Australian/Canadian cartoon about a twelve-year-old Wholesome Crossdresser superhero. While the series became a minor Cult Classic, this trope is believed to be the reason it never got a second season and faded into semi-obscurity after a very short run.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man. Take Spider-Man, a character popular for being the first teenage superhero to learn how to be a hero of his own, without any mentor (well, not alive anyway) with his own unique Rogues Gallery... and have him be part of a team of teenage heroes and working for SHIELD with Nick Fury as The Mentor, while making him fight mostly completely different villains than those he usually faces. On top of that, the show is very much Denser and Wackier, featured a heavy emphasis on cutaway gags, making it something of a kid-friendly version of Family Guy, already a show heavily criticized for the same. The show still managed to get success, but it also developed a major Hatedom, and even after it improved over the course of three seasons, many fans still refused to give it a chance just because of the premise.
  • Beware the Batman can be very off-putting for fans due to the show's unusual decision to not use any villains from Batman's iconic Rogues Gallery (instead using lesser-known or outright obscure villains), especially for those who find said gallery to be part of why Batman is so memorable to begin with. It did manage to get some fans and eventually brought some more classic villains, but that wasn't enough to save the show from cancellation before a second season.
  • While Codename: Kids Next Door was a successful show, a lot of people find it hard to get into because of the fairly ridiculous premise and how seriously it's handled. In it, vegetables, chores, discipline, and other such things that kids stereotypically hate are legitimately evil things powered by a conspiracy of Child Haters, with the eponymous organization supporting the idea that Naughty Is Good. The odd art-style and Continuity Lock-Out also plays into this.
  • Mr. Pickles is about Satan taking in the form of a dog and living with a family modeled after the "ideal families from The Fifties" and going around brutally killing people and having sex with various animals. And it's a COMEDY!
  • Ren and Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon is extremely notorious in part because of this. It tried to simultaneously be a drama and a shock comedy that takes every single vulgar, offensive and tasteless joke Up to Eleven, and failed at both. The drama was too ludicrous and forced for the mainstream, and even if it wasn't, they would have still been turned away by the depravity and overall grossness. Meanwhile, the comedy crowd didn't find any of the jokes funny. Unsurprisingly, this led to its extremely short run.
  • Stressed Eric is an animated show about an easily-stressed man who is constantly dragged down by everything and everyone with absolutely no Pet the Dog moments in sight, and every episode ends with his temple strangling him to death. Needless to say, it's a pretty divisive series.
  • Teen Titans Go! is this to many fans of the comic, the previous animated series, and those of Young Justice. It's a Denser and Wackier comedy like the above-mentioned Ultimate Spider-Man, has an unappealing Super-Deformed art-style, and is helmed by two people who nonchalantly admitted that they never even saw the original show. Early reviews had a consensus of "Not the best, but enjoyable if taken as its own thing", but since then, it's gotten flak for taking beloved teenage heroes with fleshed out personalities and turning them into Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists, at best, and downright sociopathic villains, at worst, making the "take it as its own thing" mentality harder to maintain for most.
  • As with Equestria Girls mentioned above, Mega Man (2017)'s High School A.U. premise in lieu of a more faithful adaptation had Mega Man fans fuming the moment it was revealed. Not helping things was that this premise came from the equally divisive Dreamwave comic.
  • The South Park episode "Pip" was a parodic Whole Plot Reference to Great Expectations that starred Pip, an ancillary British stereotype Butt Monkey, with no other South Park characters making an appearance. Fans of the show weren't likely to have read the book, and even if they did, they wouldn't be excited that it focuses exclusively on one of the less memorable characters. Fans of the book probably wouldn't think highly of a cartoon famous for its raunchiness doing its take on it (Although the episode does stick faithfully to the book... at least until the third act).

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AudienceAlienatingPremise