This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.

Creator Killer
The rise, the slump, and the killersnote .
"Killed his career? Son, I hope it put a stake in its heart, sawed its head off and filled its mouth with garlic."
Chris Sims on Jean-Christophe "Pitof" Comar, director of Catwoman (2004)

A Creator Killer is a rather unpredictable phenomenon when one or more works flop badly enough to take down or badly damage the publishers, the reputation of creative talents behind it, or both. Though there are usually many factors needed to cause the death of a publisher or a creator, some high-profile flops are linked (rightfully or not) to the death of the organization working on it. They will Never Live It Down.

Compare with Genre-Killer and Franchise Killer. Not to be confused with Author Existence Failure (though they can overlap if the work's performance is so bad that the creator is Driven to Suicide or otherwise dies shortly after), Rage Against the Author or The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You, where the creator can be literally killed by his or her work. See Star-Derailing Role when it happens to the performers. See Old Shame for an old work which a creator turns against later (or refuses to let see the light of day), but which by itself probably won't destroy their credibility. See Tough Act to Follow when one's career was not killed by a flop but the inability to follow-up a massive success. Contrast Breakthrough Hit (when the work makes the creator a big name) and Career Resurrection and Win Back the Crowd (when the work makes the creator a big name again after a Creator Killer). For understandable reasons many of these overlap with Troubled Production.

Note: While a good number of these entries have either been Vindicated by History or are a Cult Classic, they still count as Creator Killers because of the damage they did at the time of their release.

Not to be confused with Fallen Creator, where a once-respected creator is permanently disgraced due to a string of flops or personal misbehaviors. A creator/business that went defunct after one or two serious flops/mistakes could still leave a lasting legacy and be fondly remembered in hindsight.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ultimate Girls was the last anime ever produced by Masters of Entertainment, a Pony Canyon label. The show suffered from massive overuse of phallic imagery and innuendo, clichéd plots, and was considered worse than one of its previous titles, CosPrayers (itself an easy go-to joke for low-quality anime), by those brave enough to sit through it all.
  • Fractale was conceived as a way for its director, Yamakan, to make Kyoto Animation regret firing him, with all the resources put into it that you'd expect with a goal like that. He was so sure of its success that he said he'd step down if it did poorly. The end result was said to be good, if not great, by most people who watched it to the end. All five or so of them. Yamakan probably would have had to step down even if he hadn't explicitly staked his career on it doing well.
    • The main problem was the competition; Fractale was billed as the "moe-killer" series by the director himself, and as if to prove this it was released at the same time as a cutesy-looking Magical Girl show. Unfortunately for Fractale that show was Puella Magi Madoka Magica, which proved to be the anime for the Winter 2011 season.
    • It also garnered some of the worst ratings for the noitaminA animation block. Although the 2011 Sendai Earthquake didn't help matters, the show's ratings prior to the earthquake were noticeably behind the average ratings for all other series in the block.
  • Pretty Cure producer Hiroaki Shibata was Kicked Upstairs to Toei's Super Sentai division around the time Go! Princess Pretty Cure was approaching its halfway point, so that he wouldn't repeat the costly mistakes he had made with Doki Doki Pretty Cure and Happiness Charge Pretty Cure and risk turning GoPri into a Franchise Killer.Explanation  It's been suggested that the camel's back broke when HaCha suffered its second-half slump after initially being hailed as a welcome improvement from DokiDoki. Even worse, HaCha was the second straight season to suffer such a fate, and Toei apparently didn't want to take any more chances with Shibata after his mismanagement resulted in two consecutive seasons becoming train wrecks.
  • As an in-universe example: in Shirobako, the director of the fictitious series Exodus is thrilled to have any work at all after the complete and abject failure of his last show, an adaptation that went over-budget, devolved into a fanservicey mess, and enraged the parent manga's fanbase by completely botching its story, to the point where he got absolutely no work for years on end. Naturally, he's still a bit traumatized by the memories of it, and suffers constant fears of Exodus turning into the second coming of that debacle.
  • Blood-C is CLAMP's first and (probably last) original anime work after the low BD/DVD sales and the mixed-to-negative reception of the show. A movie, Blood-C: The Last Dark, tried to undo some of the damage, but was still weighed down with the same flaws as the TV series and bombed at the Japanese box office (though its BD sales were still moderately good). This led CLAMP to move their studio to Kyoto and return to some of their previous manga works (xxxHolic and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle) and putting some of their newer ones (Drug & Drop and Gate7) on hold.
  • Subverted with Kyoto Animation, after the whole Endless Eight fiasco, many fans raged against KyoAni, and sales took a far tumble from the Cash Cow Franchise it once was. However, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya and K-On! managed to turn around the fortunes, and prevented the death of the studio. (Not that the movie stopped Endless Eight from being a Franchise Killer though, despite the success of The Movie.)

    Comic Books 
  • The infamous crossover Deathmate is often accused of killing Valiant Comics. The other side, Image Comics, did recover from it.
  • After the infamous Clone Saga, it was decided that the Spider-Man titles were to be cancelled and relaunched with new "number ones" alongside a miniseries written and drawn by John Byrne that would retell Spider-Man's origin. This reboot was notable in that one writer - Howard Mackie - would be looking after both titles. The reboot was heavily promoted with garnered much anticipation amongst fans and critics, with Mackie claiming that they would "fix" the books and make things "fun" again. But things soured after the reboot where Mackie had Spider-Man face off against lackluster villains, engage in weird plots like facing off against vampires, supernatural villains, an alien-infested senator who was set up as the Big Bad of his arc, and - most notably - "killed" Mary Jane Watson. Fan and critical reaction was sour, and soon Mackie's plans were outright scuttled - he was replaced on one of the books by Paul Jenkins, and was given just enough time to wrap up his run and bring back Mary Jane before he was pulled from the title and replaced by J. Michael Straczynski. Mackie's career never recovered from the debacle. In the decade since then, Mackie rarely worked in comics with his last work being a six-issue mini-series that was to serve as a "reinterpretation" of what was to actually have happened in the initial Clone Saga alongside Tom Defalco.
    • The Clone Saga itself also nearly killed Marvel Comics as a whole, making it another example. There were many organizational problems with Marvel at the time, which was one reason the Clone Saga ran overlong and ended up being such a badly-regarded story. While the series itself sold very well at the time, the damage to the corporate culture was long-lasting and can still be felt today. These are partially documented in the web series Life of Reilly.
  • Chuck Austen is, for all intents and purposes, one of the most hated writers in comics, owing mostly to his poor characterization and story-telling, along with his attitude towards any criticisms. But it wasn't until his Superman run that his career as a writer really died. After he was kicked out of Marvel for screwing up a lot of books, DC hired Austen to write Superman, where he was fired shortly afterwards and blacklisted from comics after his short run had a Superman-Lana-Lois love triangle based on Austen's hatred of Lois Lane and made very unflattering comments about the decades old beloved character to the media. He hasn't done anything worth mentioning since.
  • X-Men Forever destroyed Chris Claremont's once-legendary career in comics.
  • While Jeph Loeb's stories have always had problems, Ultimatum is the series that truly hurt his career, due to all kinds of research failure, in addition to gratuitous violence and tons of death. While he sort of recovered with the decent Captain America: Fallen Son and Nova, the fact that he ruined the Ultimate line means he doesn't get much work writing comics anymore. Loeb is still in charge of the television and animation division of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however, where he has had much better success.

  • RCA's SelectaVision video system was intended to be a major competitor to VHS and Betamax. While the format did have some advantages (at the time, SelectaVision movies were significantly cheaper to buy than movies on videocassette or LaserDisc), it couldn't match LaserDisc for quality or offer the recording capability of VHS/Beta. The format failed to take off, resulting in RCA writing off the entire investment in the project, and its subsequent breakup and acquisition by General Electric.
  • During the '80s and '90s, The Sharper Image was a modestly popular electronics company specializing in appliances such as jogging watches. However, the company had its "big break" during the Turn of the Millennium, when they created an air purifier called the Ionic Breeze. The purifier became a huge success, thanks to its compact size and the fact that it didn't require frequent filter changes. However, what was believed to be the product that would make them into a household name instead turned out to be what killed them. In 2003, Consumer Reports published a negative review of the Ionic Breeze, saying that it essentially didn't work as advertised. This resulted in The Sharper Image suing them for unfair testing practices — a suit that was thrown out of court when they were to unable to actually demonstrate that CR's claims were in any way incorrect, damning the Ionic Breeze and vindicating CR's review. The Ionic Breeze's fate was sealed in 2005, when CR published an article declaring it a potential health hazard thanks to the large amounts of ozone it produced, causing sales to plummet. The Sharper Image quickly dissolved, eventually filing Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2008. Today, the company exists strictly as a minor subsidiary of several larger corporations.
  • Like The Sharper Image, LJN's "breakthrough" product ended up being their death knell instead. After impressive licensing deals that brought toys based off properties such as ThunderCats (1985) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, LJN used their new found fame to create a line of water guns called "Entertech". The toys were revolutionary on the fact that they could fire water like an automatic firearm, and even have its water supply come from detachable magazines. Add that to their almost completely-realistic look to a real firearm, and it seemed that the brand would turn LJN into a major toy competitor to Hasbro and Mattel. That dream was never realized, however, as on the peak of Entertech's popularity, it became the center of massive media attention after several high-profile incidents of children playing with the water guns getting shot and killed by police officers who were unable to distinguish the toys with the real thing. Even more shocking were that the toy guns had been commonly used in robberies at banks and retailers. As a result of the controversy surrounding Entertech, LJN's then-parent company MCA sold the toy manufacturer in 1990 to Acclaim. Acclaim then shut down LJN's toy division in 1990 to focus more on its video game division (see the "Video Games" section for more).

    Film - combination of creators/companies 
  • Heaven's Gate destroyed the career of Michael Cimino (the director of The Deer Hunter), contributed to the collapse of the United Artists studio, and ended the "New Hollywood" post-studio-system era in which director/auteurs were given carte blanche to do pretty much whatever they wanted. Thus, it not only destroyed the careers of the people who created it, but ended an era that produced many of the best films in history.
  • The failure of Titan A.E. brought down Don Bluth's career, shut down Fox Animation Studios, and helped end the post-Golden Age era known as The Renaissance Age of Animation where the animation medium re-surged in popularity thanks to increasing challenges by animators against the Animation Age Ghetto. Thus, not only did it bring down the career of a celebrated animator, but also helped end an era that brought out some of the greatest animated media in history. A handful of other 2D animated film flops from Bluth's rivals at Disney and DreamWorks Animation piled on to Titan A.E. and ended cinematic 2D animation until the end of the 2000's, and even then, no plans for another traditionally animated film are in the pipeline.
  • Cutthroat Island, one of the biggest box office flops of all time, was the final straw for Carolco Pictures, which went bankrupt a month prior to the film's release due to its lavish overspending on other projects. It also destroyed Geena Davis' career, her then-husband Renny Harlin's respectability as a director, and the careers of pretty much everyone else involved (only the film's composer and the studio that distributed it came out relatively unscathed; co-writer Robert King later had a hit with The Good Wife on TV). The flop of this film (as well as that of The Long Kiss Goodnight, also starring Davis and directed by Harlin) is widely credited with destroying their marriage, as Harlin had pushed for Davis, then known for comedic roles, to headline the two action-heavy blockbusters. It also killed off the pirate movie genre until Pirates of the Caribbean came along, and even now there are no successful pirate movies outside of that franchise.
  • The failure of Raise the Titanic! is often credited with bringing down the film career of Lew Grade, at the time one of the most respected television producers in the United Kingdom, and perhaps the world. Grade quipped that "It would have been cheaper to Lower The Atlantic." It also disgusted the original book's author, Clive Cussler, so much that he refused to sell film rights to his books for 25 years.
    • The subsequent failure of The Legend of the Lone Ranger in 1981 (a failure perhaps ensured by the producers suing the original Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore, and forcing him to relinquish his mask) might have been the last straw for ITC Entertainment, the company Grade founded. Grade lost control of ITC in 1982 (though he returned under PolyGram management and remained there until his death in 1998), and the only thing keeping the company profitable for the final years of its existence was its library of previous accomplishments.
  • The massive critical failure of Old Dogs looks to have taken down the career of director Walt Becker, as Disney went on to cancel his next project (a project with Robin Williams titled Wedding Banned) and he has done very little since (outside of being one of the producers of Zookeeper). The film also managed to be a factor in Disney getting out of films made with adult audiences in mind; as a further consequence, it also effectively ended the Touchstone label except to distribute DreamWorks projects, foreign films, and films the company doesn't really care about (the last in-house productions released by Touchstone were You Again and Step Up 3D, both released in 2010).
    • The critical and commercial flop of Strange Magic was enough justification on Disney's part to give Touchstone Pictures the ax as the studio served ties with DreamWorks later that year; the distribution rights were handed back to Universal Pictures in August 2016. 2016's The Light Between Oceans will likely be the label's last release. The failure might also mark the end for George Lucas' mainstream ventures as he has no projects lined up for the foreseeable future.
  • Film producer Dino De Laurentiis' career never fully recovered after opening his own studio in the early/mid 1980s, which he then proceeded to run into the ground within less than five years. The films De Laurentiis produced at his studio were not box office hits (even Blue Velvet and the first Hannibal Lecter movie, Manhunter, ended up as Acclaimed Flops). Ironically, it didn't end up living long enough to see one of its projects, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, become a hit. Although Dino kept producing until his death in 2010, he never had any success outside of the Hannibal movies (he apparently regretted selling the film rights to The Silence of the Lambs).
    • To show how desperate his studio was for a hit, in 1987 De Laurentiis teamed up with Glad to release the gimmicky comedy Million Dollar Mystery. Since the movie centered on trying to recover $4 million, they had a contest where if one of the audience members could accurately guess the whereabouts of a hidden million dollars based on clues sprinkled in and on specially marked Glad-Lock bags, he or she would get that amount of money!note  The film was a million dollar misery at the box-office, thus it not only poured salt on De Laurentiis' studio's wound, but it also marked the end for veteran director Richard Fleischer.

    Film - Home video companies/divisions 
  • Intervision Video, one of the two pioneers of the British home video market (the other being VCL), looked to be heading for glory when they made a deal with United Artists to distribute 20 UA films on Betamax, VHS, and Video 2000 for rental in the fall of 1980. Then, in December 1981, Warner Bros. entered an "exclusive, long-term agreement" to distribute 500 UA films on Betamax, VHS, and Video 2000 (about twice as big as Magnetic Video's home video deal with UA for 250 of its films on the other side of the pond)... including Intervision's 20. Either Warner was oblivious to the earlier deal, or they knew about it and decided it would be in their best interests to respect that deal. Either way, more people ended up renting Warner's UA tapes than Intervision's UA tapes, and Intervision faded into obscurity quickly, eventually closing up shop in the mid-'80s.
  • Media Home Entertainment, one of the four "mini-majors" in the home video industry covering a large library of VHS releases in many diverse genres (alongside sublabels Hi-Tops Video releasing childrens' titles and Fox Hills Video releasing more special interest oriented videos), collapsed in 1990 when Gerald Ronson, the leader of its parent company Heron Communications, was convicted of securities fraud due to his role in the Guinness share trading fraud in the UK, eventually closing shop in 1993. Most assets of Media Home Entertainment were transferred to 20th Century Fox.
  • Simitar Entertainment, a media company that specialized in special interest VHS tapes covering a wide range of genres and compilation albums (as well as the first independent company to release DVDs), met an untimely demise in 1999 when Titan Sports, owner of the WWF, filed a lawsuit against them for infringing copyright from WWF: The Music, Volume Three (which was, as the title suggests, a music album). Simitar lost the case and wound up bankrupt by the end of the year. Afterwards, they were forced to sell their assets to Brentwood Communications, which was later bought by Navarre Corporation.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Allan Carr, the producer and party-giver whose biggest hit was the movie adaptation of Grease, was tapped to produce the 1989 Academy Awards telecast. He promised "the most beautiful Academy Awards of all time"; he delivered a show that opened with a production number "highlighted" by Snow White and Rob Lowe performing a duet of "Proud Mary". Reviews were horrible, he was accused of disgracing Hollywood's good name (and, by Disney, of copyright infringement), and he never got another producing job in Hollywood again. This opening show is in the book What Were They Thinking The 100 Dumbest Events In Television History.
  • Game Show creator and producer Chuck Barris was riding high in The '70s with The Newlywed Game, The Dating Game, Treasure Hunt, and The Gong Show, the last of which he also hosted. But in 1979, he started the show 3's a Crowd, a lurid show that asked questions of a male contestant, then of his wife and secretary, to see which of the two knew him better. The show drew outrage from Moral Guardians and the fallout caused it to go off the air along with Newlywed, Dating, and Gong (Treasure Hunt had left the air in 1977; Crowd is in What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History). A Barris-produced revival of the 1960s game show Camouflage replaced Crowd at midseason, and went on to be a dud. For the next decade, Barris generally only mounted either syndicated revivals of Newlywed, Dating, and Gong, or shows that didn't make it past the pilot stage. (Notably, there was Bamboozled in 1986, which got hit by a lawsuit from Mark Goodson over its resemblance to To Tell the Truth and got it canned after the pilot stage.) He moved to France at the end of the decade and Sony acquired the rights to his catalog.


  • At the end of its fifth season, Saturday Night Live aired what was clearly intended as its final episode. NBC, however, refused to let their cash cow die, replacing the cast and writers entirely, and hiring the show's talent coordinator Jean Doumanian to replace Lorne Michaels as executive producer (snubbing Al Franken after network head Fred Silverman took personal offense to Franken's "Limo for the Lame-O" piece and Harry Shearer, who didn't like how Lorne Michaels was running SNL and wanted to do it his way with more experienced comic actorsnote ). While Doumanian did have a knack for getting good musical guests and treating the talent right, she was out of her depth for running a comedy show. Though Doumanian claims that she was sabotaged because the mostly male higher-ups at NBC did not feel comfortable having a woman run the show, the TV special Lost and Found: SNL in the 1980s places the blame of the show's horrid sixth season squarely on Jean Doumanian's head because of her incompetence and inexperience. She passed up a lot of potentially funny cast members (Jim Carrey, John Goodman, Paul Reubens, and Robert Townsend being just a few examples — and Eddie Murphy barely made it on. If not for writer Neil Levy, he too would have been rejected), tried to make the sketches more dramatic, had no idea how to make the humor edgy (and when she did try, it ended up being dour, flat, and obvious in an intelligence-insulting way), brought on cast members who weren't seasoned in comedy at all note , and did nothing to improve the show's quality when the reviews tore her season apart and began to praise ABC's Fridays as the new sharp, satirical sketch show (until ABC screwed the show over). After Charles Rocket's "f-word" debacle on the Charlene Tilton episode, Doumanian was fired (along with most of her cast, except for cast members Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, Denny Dillon, Gail Matthius - though Dillon and Matthius would be fired later - and writer Brian Doyle-Murray). The season lives on as one of SNL's lowest points in the show's peak-and-valley history (seasons 11note  and 20note  are the only other seasons that have spelled doom for SNLnote , but those seasons have been Vindicated by History, as most modern viewers will claim that the Weekend Update segments, done by Dennis Miller and Norm MacDonald respectively, are Actually Pretty Funny; Doumanian's season earned an (dis)honorable mention in What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History and was one of the last straws for NBC regarding Silverman, who was fired for nearly killing the network shortly afterward).
    • Doumanian did resurface in The '90s as the producer of a number of critically acclaimed and moderately successful Woody Allen films. Two of them (Bullets Over Broadway and Mighty Aphrodite) even won Best Supporting Actress Oscars. Then she screwed that up too, when, in 2000, she suddenly backed out of a movie, leaving Woody stranded, eventually resulting in both of them filing lawsuits against each other.
    • The denouement of that season may have literally killed Charles Rocket. Before that season he was seen as an up-and-comer whose "Rocket Report" newscast segments made him seem like a natural successor to Chevy Chase. But after the series and his dismissal, he got only supporting roles in films like Dumb and Dumber and failed TV pilots. It was enough to pay the bills, but he never became the big star he could have been, and in 2005 he was found dead in a field near his home with his throat cut, apparently a suicide.
  • Supertrain: The final destruction of NBC was barely averted with the flop of a series the struggling network was resting its future upon. This hour-long comedy-drama series was essentially a clone of The Love Boat (trips, all-star guest casts, intertwining storylines with one a comedy, one more serious and a romantic story; etc.), except it was set aboard a train. Fans tuned in the first week and found unfunny situations and a series that all-around paled in comparison to the vastly superior Love Boat, and a hasty attempt to rework the series failed. Supertrain often finds its way onto "biggest TV flops of all time" lists. Adding to the problem was the highly-expensive model train at one point jumped the tracks and crashed on the studio floor, requiring another equally expensive replacement to be built. This earned a spot on What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History, and got boss Fred Silverman, who was struggling right out of the gate, to really wind up in trouble.
  • Cliffhangers: Another series that NBC truly and earnestly believed in, so much so that it nearly canceled several legitimate hits most notably Little House on the Prairie to put on a poorly written and produced program featuring three serial cliffhanger dramas. Each drama was 20-minutes long and ended with a cliffhanger, but only one of them reached its proper conclusion before NBC gave up.
  • The 1980 Summer Olympics: By default, thanks to President Carter's announcement that the United States would be boycotting the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow due to the Soviets' invasion of Afghanistan the previous year. The boycott cost NBC millions in desperately needed advertising revenue ... and it, along with the failure of Supertrain, would nearly undo the United States' oldest television network and ended Silverman's career with the firm.


  • Eldorado was a memetically disastrous attempt by The BBC to create an American-style "decadent rich people" Soap Opera set in a community of ex-pats in southern Spain. It destroyed the careers of Julia Smith and Tony Holland, who had previously had a huge success with Eastenders, a much more traditional British-style kitchen-sink soap, to the point that Smith announced her retirement immediately on its cancellation. It also did non-lethal but permanent damage to the career of Verity Lambert.

Yahoo! Screen

  • Yahoo! attempted to get into the streaming content game by creating Yahoo! Screen, a proprietary content provider. It made headlines by picking up Community after its cancellation by NBC and also developed original content like Other Space and Sin City Saints. None of these shows brought in desired audience numbers, however, because Yahoo! didn't do much advertising beyond its own properties and people who did try to watch were frustrated by the buggy proprietary media player that didn't work on some platforms. In the end, Yahoo! Screen posted a loss of 42 million dollars and was shut down after one year.

  • Some players believe that Flipper Football — an attempt to realistically portray soccer in a pinball game — was the straw that broke the back of Capcom Pinball. Other observers, though, believe the division was already on such shaky ground with Capcom management that nothing could've saved it.
  • Unofficial gossip is that pinball artist Python Anghelo's career ended with the unfinished "Zingy Bingy" project. According to secondhand sources, "Zingy Bingy" was a pornographic-themed pinball game; players would use penis-shaped flippers to shoot the pinball into vagina-shaped saucers, while breast bumpers knocked the ball around.
  • Subverted in the case of Williams Electronics, who exited arcade gaming after releasing the first two games in their new "Pinball 2000" platform (Revenge from Mars and Star Wars Episode I). While many blamed the games for being a Creator Killer, the truth was that the games did moderately well, but simply fell short of being blockbusters. In actuality, Williams' shareholders had been planning to switch to the more lucrative field of casino gambling for some time, and used the "Pinball 2000" titles as an excuse to do so.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The infamous "Fingerpoke Of Doom" event during a 1999 episode of WCW Monday Nitro is often cited as the beginning of the end for WCWnote , but the event that truly sent the promotion to the point of no return was when all WCW programming was canceled by order of parent company Turner Broadcasting's then-chairman-and-CEO Jamie Kellner, who was seeking to sell the promotion off after Turner's parent, Time Warner, merged with AOL and wanted to rid the conglomerate of assets costing them millions. Vince McMahon, the head of WCW's rival World Wrestling Federation, bought the promotion's remaining assets and programming library for $3 million (bear in mind that WCW was worth over $500 million at one time) just so that AOL Time Warner can desperately rid their portfolio of professional wrestling. An extreme example of an entire company being Screwed by the Network.
  • ECW's show on TNN was supposed to be the thing that would take the company out of "cult following" status and into mainstream success. Instead, the financial and logistical pressures of producing the weekly program, as well as the network's forcing the promotion to tone down the blood-and-guts style that made them famous, and then failing to promote or back them in any way (even going so far as to negotiate to bring the WWF to the network while ECW was still airing), ended up killing the promotion. By the end, ECW was in open Writer Revolt, trying desperately to get their show canceled so they could shop it around to other networks before the money ran out. It didn't work, and like WCW their assets were sold off to rival WWE (who had just changed their name from WWF following a trademark lawsuit from the World Wide Fund for Nature) two years after they declared bankruptcy. WWE briefly revived the ECW name for a show on Sci Fi Channel (later Syfy) in 2006, then permanently retired the name in 2010.

    Tabletop Games 
  • While not a creator, distributor Upper Deck Entertainment got hit hard during the latter part of the GX era of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG due to their own Executive Meddling; a series of unpopular reshuffling of set cards (including the dismantling of two highly anticipated structure decks to release their new cards as difficult-to-get Secret Rares in the main sets), creation of poorly-received TCG-only cards, and ultimately the publishing of fake cards for third-party distribution ultimately forced Konami to pull their contract with UDE and wrangle the game away from them through a legal shitstorm. Even more damning, this incident has apparently caused Blizzard to pull their contract with UDE for the distribution of the World of Warcraft TCG, going so far as to make an entirely new branch specifically for distributing it themselves. No word yet on how this will impact UDE's baseball and hockey card sales, but it's likely that that's going to be the only thing that'll save them from bankruptcy. To make things even more troubling, there's a corporate family civil war brewing as a direct result of the aforementioned Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG scandal.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Gav Thorpe is largely blamed for the weaknesses of the 4th-5th edition Chaos Space Marine codex for Warhammer 40,000 by taking the "less is more" approach a bit too far. His biggest offense was the removal of numerous unit options and items that were in previous Chaos Marine books, which largely homogenized what was once a diverse and varied army and prevented players from being able to run themed lists based off the current Chaos Legions. Fan response to the Chaos Marine codex was so negative that Thorpe was removed as a codex writer and transferred to GW's novel writing division. Even then Thorpe has not released any GW-related content at all.
    • The Grey Knights codex didn't quite kill Matt Ward's career, despite the hopes of large chunks of 4chan, but it led to Ward receiving vastly greater oversight while writing the Necron codex, and since the release of sixth edition in 2012, his sole publishing credit has been for Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Meaning it may not have stopped him writing, but despite the prevalence of rumours putting him in charge of any army whose author hasn't already been confirmed, he doesn't seem to be writing 40K any more.
      • Warhammer Fantasy Battles fans remember Ward rather differently, as he was sent to 40k from WFB after writing the Chaos Demons codex for 7th edition... which was so incredibly broken that it forced the immediate development and release of an entirely new edition of the game in response.
    • Robin Cruddace was widely praised for his handling of the 5th edition Imperial Guard book, which saw a once joke-level army being turned into one of the strongest forces on the tabletop, until he got his hands on the Tyranids... and promptly got labeled as a treadhead. It's widely considered by the fandom that Cruddace excels at balancing vehicle-based armies, but when given the Tyranids, the only army in the entire game to not use vehicles in any way or form, his only reaction was to make them bland and passable while ensuring that any real threats to vehicles in the codex were eliminated (the sole exception being the Hive Guards) by raising their prices or reducing their effectiveness. Combined with Matt Ward's "accomplishments" above, this has resulted in GW instead not naming any specific writer on any of their codexes since the 6th edition release of the Tyranids due to the internet backlash that ensues. Remember that Games Workshop is a firm that doesn't read internet feedback, which should give you an idea of how serious this is.
  • TSR, original owner and publisher of Dungeons & Dragons, was already doing poorly in the early 90s from a variety of factors, and suddenly found themselves steamrolled by the success of newcomer Wizards of the Coast and their game Magic: The Gathering. A self-serving focus on the Buck Rogers franchise (to which the CEO's family owned rights), flopped attempts to get in on the "collectible gaming" market with products like Dragon Dice, as well as a massive loss on a pile of unsold novels hit TSR with a trifecta of Creator Killers, forcing them to sell off to upstart rival Wizards.
  • Pretty much all of Decipher's card games came to end after the release of the final set of the Mega Man card game, which featured a deck so overpowered that it brought the company down with it.

  • While Cirque du Soleil's Dralion (1999) was critically well-received, it flopped badly in its original North American tour and did extensive financial damage to the company, ensuring that director Guy Caron would never get a directing job with any theater company for a long time. It took two years for Cirque to scare up enough money to put Varekai into production. Dralion still runs, but only because Varekai pulled in record-breaking numbers when it launched.
    • David Shriner's career also tanked when, fresh off the heels of the hit Kooza, he wrote and directed the highly-hyped Banana Shpeel — which was intended as Cirque's first permanent show in New York City. The show was a critical and commercial disaster, annoyed audiences to no end, and caused Cirque's reputation as a whole to nosedive. Thankfully, this show and other weaker Cirque efforts produced over 2008-10 (Criss Angel BeLIEve, ZAIA, and Viva Elvis) were revamped and/or closed down, the next few tours (TOTEM, Michael Jackson THEIMMORTAL World Tour, and Amaluna) pulled in breathtaking numbers, and the company has continued to churn out productions like butter.
  • Irving Caesar, veteran Broadway songwriter and comedy writer, never wrote for the stage again after his self-produced "revusical" My Dear Public, which closed out of town in 1942, restarted production the next year, finally reached New York and bombed. At least he lived more than long enough to witness the triumphant 1971 revival of No, No, Nanette, whose hit songs he wrote lyrics for.
  • Kelly (1965) became notorious as the first Broadway musical since 1930 to close on its opening night. Its failure brought an end to the career of composer Mark "Moose" Charlap, whose career after Peter Pan had been a series of flops.
  • Robert Bolt began his career with several successes: Flowering Cherry, The Tiger and the Horse and especially A Man for All Seasons were all major critical and commercial hits. His next play, Gentle Jack, was a notorious flop which convinced Bolt to focus on screenwriting. While he wrote two modestly successful plays afterward (The Thwarting Of Baron Bolligrew and Vivat! Vivat Regina!) and proved a successful screenwriter with flicks like Lawrence of Arabia, nothing Bolt wrote for the stage matched his earlier plays in popularity or (arguably) quality.
  • The 1967 Broadway musical How Now, Dow Jones, "based on an idea by Carolyn Leigh," ensured that no further musicals with Leigh as lyricist would ever reach Broadway, though her earlier lyrics for Peter Pan and Little Me were highly regarded. (How Now, Dow Jones did pick up a bunch of Tony nominations, but 1967 was an unusually bad year.)
  • Chicago-based theater company Redmoon, well known in the area for putting on Mind Screwy shows produced in-house by them, shuttered in late 2015 after losing a ton of money on their Halloween shows two years in a row. The 2014 show in particular was a humiliation for them, as it centered around an enormous, spectacular fire display... and it just happened to be raining that particular Halloween, leading to the display fizzling in both the literal and figurative sense.

    Western Animation 
  • Fleischer Studios (of Betty Boop and Popeye fame) was for a time one of the most popular animation studios in the U.S. and Disney's biggest competitor throughout the 1930s, but its attempts to follow Disney into the feature animated film market with Gulliver's Travels and Mr. Bug Goes to Town in the late 1930s/early 1940s (coupled with a move to Miami from New York around the same time) drove the studio into serious debt. After a fairly public spat between brothers Max and Dave Fleischer ended up sending the studio into disarray, their distributor Paramount responded by purchasing the studio in 1942 and firing the brothers, reorganizing and renaming it Famous Studios. Although they had some success with Casper the Friendly Ghost and the Superman Theatrical Cartoons in the 1940s, Paramount could never recreate the pre-Gulliver's Travels level of success that the studio had in the 1930s, and it was ultimately shut down in 1967 after Paramount itself was purchased by Gulf+Western.
  • After the abrupt cancellation of the Ren & Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon, it is unlikely John Kricfalusi will be able to sell another show (not that it's stopped him from trying). Several of his smaller animation projects have enjoyed fairly high-profile success, such as a Couch Gag for The Simpsons in which the family is shown in John K.'s bizarre style, as well as artwork for Miley Cyrus' 2013-14 Bangerz tour.
    • Relatedly, the one-two-three punch of Adult Party Cartoon, Gary the Rat, and Stripperella resulted in Spike TV giving up on any semblance of an animation block less than a year into its existence. (Stripperella was brought down mainly due to a lawsuit filed against a stripper who claimed that Stan Lee stole the show's idea from her; unlike the other two shows, it was fairly well-received by critics and fans, and became enough of a Cult Classic to warrant a DVD release.)
  • The Boston Bomb Scare, when some Boston police thought that guerilla marketing LEDs for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie were bombs, led to then-current Cartoon Network head Jim Samples being forced to step down. Observers have pointed at this incident as arguably the cause of the Network Decay of Cartoon Network and another entry into the Permanent Red Link Club, considering that his replacement Stuart Snyder was the main champion of the increase of live-action sitcoms and reality shows on the channel. It is worth noting that Cartoon Network has since been trying to Win Back the Crowd by phasing out the live-action shows on Cartoon Network (the kids' show side of it, anyway; the [adult swim] side still has live-action shows) and bringing back reruns of their classic cartoons (Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry shorts as well as Cartoon Cartoon shorts on Cartoon Planet); namely due to fan protests and the failure of CN Real and similar live-action shows the channel has since tried to introduce onto the network every now and then.
  • The universal panning and box office failure (not to mention its failure to get a theatrical release in the US) of Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back proved to be the death knell of animation studio Vanguard Animation. They had several projects in the pipeline at the time of closure.
  • Rich Animation Studios got hit with this twice. After their first feature film The Swan Princess flopped, the animation studio disappeared from cinema for a few years and then tried their hand at feature film again with The King and I animated adaptation. The critical and commercial failure of that film (which came complete with a "no animated versions of our works" mandate from The King And I copyright holder Rodgers & Hammerstein estates) caused the company to be acquired by Crest Animation Studios. The newly-formed RichCrest Animation Studios then released their animated adaptation of The Trumpet of the Swan, which failed to secure a wide release and was also a critical and commercial disappointment. Not until 2010 did the company (as Crest Animation Studios) return to cinemas with Alpha and Omega, which despite negative reviews was a commercial success and today is a Cult Classic among young animation fans.
  • The failure of Astro Boy at the box office resulted in Imagi Animation Studios going dormant, including the production of a Science Ninja Team Gatchaman film in the works, as well as an Astro Boy sequel.
  • The failure of Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain and, to a lesser extent, Histeria! and Road Rovers ended the Steven Spielberg presents series of cartoons and also caused many of the writers and producers (like Tom Ruegger, Sherri Stoner, and Paul Rugg) to not get any work for at least a few years.
  • Semi-example with Warner Bros. Animation. Though the animation division itself is still around today, the box-office failure of Looney Tunes: Back in Action led to WBA's feature film department, Warner Bros. Feature Animation, being shut down. Though admittedly, Back In Action was more of a final straw than anything else-the majority of WBA's feature films were critical and commercial flops, and the ones that did find some sort of success only managed to achieve it in one field (Space Jam at the box office; The Iron Giant and Batman: Mask of the Phantasmnote  with the critics). It has since been succeeded by Warner Animation Group who released their first film —The LEGO Movie— in 2014 to smashing critical and commercial praise.
  • Though John A. Davis and Keith Alcorn's DNA Productions (who produced Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and its subsequent television series as well as Olive the Other Reindeer) did suffer from The Ant Bully becoming a box office disappointment, it was actually a lawsuit filed by Steve Oedekerk's O Entertainment (who co-produced Jimmy Neutron with them) that was the direct cause of the company's closure.
  • Nickelodeon's derailment of the company's flagship Rugrats series due to a contractual dispute with Klasky-Csupo, pushed many K-C employees out of work and up until 2012, nothing was heard from the company, as Gabor Csupo wanted to pursue other projects.
  • Penguins of Madagascar was instrumental in ending DreamWorks Animation's reign as an independent, pioneering animation studio after more than a decade. It took several job losses over the next two years to get to that point:
    • When DreamWorks anticipated it would lose $49 million from the film due to the film's poor domestic box office intake, Pacific Data Images, who helped produce this film and the studio's famed Shrek series, was shut down as part of a restructuring of the company.
    • It also ended the long run of chief creative officer Bill Damaschke, who had been with the studio since 1995, and the short run of COO and longtime Disney executive Mark Zoradi, who had been with DWA since earlier that summer (Zoradi would take over the Cinemark theater chain months later), as part of the restructuring.
    • And finally, it was the beginning of the end for founder and CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg himself, with his ambitions against Disney finally getting the better of him. His studio's next two films were financial successes, but not on high enough of a level to please shareholders. This, combined with increasing pressure from said shareholders, eventually led to Katzenberg agreeing to sell the studio to NBCUniversal after just thirteen days of talks (after scrapping a plan to take the company private with PAG Asia Capital) and divest his involvement with DWA on a heavy basis.
  • The Jambalaya Studio company hasn't produced another animated series since the failure of Da Boom Crew. After The Proud Family completed its run with a Big Damn Movie, the company seems to have gone defunct.
  • Wolf Tracer Studios only made two movies-The Rapsittie Street Kids Believe In Santa and Wolf Tracer's Dinosaur Island (a live-action film). However, despite coming first, The Rapsittie Street Kids Believe In Santa pretty much killed any chance of the studio producing another major project. When it was in production, the special was planned to have a sequel and a soundtrack with songs by Whitney Houston. It also attracted a high profile voice cast, including Mark Hamill, Nancy Cartwright, Jodi Benson, and Paige O'Hara, and got the privilege on airing on The WB network. However, after receiving dismal ratings and being criticized for its animation quality and story, the sequel was never produced and the soundtrack was never made. The special has never re-aired on television after 2002 and hasn't been released on home video; resulting in the special being impossible to find for the next 13 years. The next —and final— project did not have any major release, with a returning Mark Hamill being the only high profile actor the studio was able to obtain.


  • The Danish publisher Westermann produced a deluxe two-volume set of Vore gamle tropekolonier (Our old tropical colonies), a historical work on Danish colonial history, in 1952-53. The edition was absolutely top-notch quality, but unfortunately it was so expensive that sales were extremely disappointing, ultimately causing the publisher to go under.
  • The British publisher Dorling Kindersley became massively successful in the nineties with their distinctive style of heavily-illustrated but genuinely informative popular non-fiction works. Unfortunately, in 1999 they massively over-estimated the demand for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Universe Compendium works. Thousands of unsold books were returned by major bookstores and clogged discount remainder outlets for months, and the company was taken over by Pearson.

  • The DC-10 turned out to be this for McDonnell Douglas; sadly, it was actually meant as an effort to recover the company that made commercial aerial transport a reality. Douglas Inc. seriously struggled in the 1960s, mostly because of ill-considered and failed investments in the space program; the DC-10, produced after a merger with McDonnell, was meant to establish the company as a strong player in the booming market of widebody jets. While a good aircraft in its own right, with a solid safety record, it suffered from several high-profile crashes that seriously blemished its image; the main derailment being the 1974 crash in France. It was caused by a faulty design of the cargo door, which blew open, causing an Explosive Decompression and loss of control; however, it turned out that McDonnell Douglas knew about the problem beforehand, but failed to resolve the situation effectively, partly due to fear of losing customers if the flaw would be revealed. The company never really recovered from the THY981 crash; while the DC-10 sales were good (386 civil+60 military units), they were still too small to pull the company out of the financial troubles that hit McDonnell Douglas after the crash and resulting lawsuits, and the DC-10's successor, the MD-11, while once again a good, reliable aircraft, suffered from resulting underdevelopment and its sales were so-so (it did not help that the MD-11 was a trijet in the era of twinjets). Finally, McDonnell Douglas merged with its archrival Boeing in 1997.
  • Similarly, the L-1011 Tristar turned out to be one for Lockheed as a manufacturer of civilian aircraft. While producing iconic propeller airliners like the Constellation, Lockheed had missed out on the early jet age completely and wanted to break into the emerging widebody market. Like the DC-10, the L-1011 was a reliable tri-engine jet. While it didn't suffer the safety problems the DC-10 had, the engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce went bankrupt and had to be bailed out by the British government, which seriously hampered production. When the L-1011 production run ended in the early '80s, Lockheed left passenger aircraft entirely, focusing on defense and the space program instead, eventually merging with Martin Marietta to form Lockheed Martin.
  • The Lockerbie bombing was one of the final nails in Pan Am's coffin. The airline, still reeling from deregulation, finally shut down in late 1991.
    • It was a nice case of being Hoist by His Own Petard. In June 1985, an Air India 747 was blown up over the Atlantic by a bomb hidden in a radio in one of the bags; one of safety recommendations made afterwards was that no bag was allowed onboard an airliner without its owner also being onboard (the bag that blew up the Air India jet was checked in in Canada, but its owner never boarded the flight); after a short time, Pan Am decided to relax the security procedures to save on time. As a result, a time bomb hidden in a stereo was loaded onto an aircraft without its owner being accounted for and hours later exploded over Lockerbie. The resulting lawsuits were the final nails in the already struggling Pan Am's coffin.

  • In addition to the actual 1,500+ casualties of the sinking of the Titanic, the ship's inadequate safety measures and desire to get it into New York ahead of its scheduled arrival date, the latter of which helped lead it right into the iceberg, firmly killed the career of Bruce Ismay, the boss of the ship's maker and carrier, White Star. He was onboard the ship for its maiden and only voyage, and was one of the few men to disembark on a lifeboat (the richest man on the ship, John Jacob Astor, and the captain, Edward Smith, both stayed behind onboard with several other notables and were among the lives lost). Ismay was unsurprisingly forced to resign from White Star after reaching dry land, and the line itself saw a fatal blowback to its legacy both popularly and financially, cementing it behind Arch-Enemy Cunard Lines. The sinking of the Brittanic in WWI and then the Great Depression finished the job on White Star the Titanic's famous sinking started, sending them into a merger with Cunard, and what is left of White Star now exists as part of the Carnival Cruise Corporation, who now owns Cunard (and who would ironically get ensnared by another maritime disaster when one of their other ships, the Costa Concordia, sunk with casualties, months before the Titanic's 100th anniversary).

  • The "trial of the century" of O.J. Simpson and his acquittal of murder claimed the legal careers of prosecutors Marcia Clark and Chris Darden, who were quickly fired for losing a case the D.A.'s office said was essentially an open-and-shut case. Legal missteps, allowing the case to move from Santa Monica to downtown L.A., and not presenting all the evidence they had got them ripped apart by other lawyers and ended any ideas of the two being able to go anywhere in law. They eventually became legal corespondents on T.V (Simpson was convicted of a different felony in 2007 and sentenced to 33 years in prison in due time).

Video Duplication
  • The financial troubles underwent by The Rank Group caused the company to divest itself of anything not related to gaming; as a consequence, Deluxe Media Services, up until 2005 one of the premiere video duplication service providers, was forced to exit that business, shutting down its plants in Wayne, MI, and North Little Rock, AR, and selling a third in Pleasant Prairie, WI, to Sonopress, which effectively became its Spiritual Successor.

Retail Companies
  • Can an entire company be killed off by a commercial? If so, Just for Feet certainly fits the bill. In 1999, the fast-growing shoe retailer produced an ad for the Super Bowl, which depicted "hunters" in a Humvee in the desert...who turn out to be targeting a barefoot Kenyan runner. The hunters give the runner a cup of drugged water and then put on him a pair of shoes while he's unconscious. It made their name more noticed, alright...but for all the wrong reasons. The company was massively criticized for the ad's utterly racist undertones, and its failure put a giant fork in the road. The company filed for bankruptcy the next year before subsequently collapsing.