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Creator Killer
The rise, the slump, and the killersnote .

"A near-consensus pick as the worst movie ever made, Gigli improbably serves as the bookend of [Martin] Brest's directing career."
Dirk Knemeyer, "The Curious Career of Martin Brest"

A rather unpredictable phenomenon, this is 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. 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 after a Creator Killer).

A good number of these entries have been Vindicated by Cable.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Ironically, Yu-Gi-Oh!, the biggest cash cow of 4Kids Entertainment, eventually became this to them; in early 2011, TV Tokyo and Nippon Ad Systems (NAS) yanked the license and sued them over a publishing deal they made with FUNimation years earlier, driving 4Kids into bankruptcy within daysnote . 4Kids scored a major victory at the end of the year when the courts ruled that TV Tokyo and NAS conducted themselves improperly in their attempt to yank the license, and the parties reached a settlement a short time later (involving paying 4Kids several million dollars), but the damage had been done. Not long afterwards, they sold all of their remaining licenses to Saban, with Konami obtaining the Yu-Gi-Oh rights.
  • Ultimate Girls was the last anime ever produced by Master of Entertainment, a Pony Canyon label. The show had massive overuse of phallic imagery and innuendo, clichéd plots, and was considered worse than Cos Prayers by those brave enough to sit through it all. Coincidentally, Cos Prayers was also produced by Master of Entertainment, so it too likely contributed to the studio's downfall.
  • 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 Creator/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.
  • While Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny was financially successful, the negative fan reaction dealt a huge blow to the career of director Mitsuo Fukuda, who hasn't headlined any projects since its end, other than the "HD Remasters" of both SEED and Destiny. It also ruined the goodwill between Sunrise and many of the seiyuus involved with the project, including Soichiro Hoshi (Kira Yamato) and Kenichi Suzumura (Shinn Asuka).
    • The SEED movie is currently in Development Hell due to head writer Chiaki Morosawa recovering after her hysterectomy treatment, as revealed in her 2008 interview with Animage magazine.
  • The arrest of Crimson Star Media's somewhat egotistic founder (and only employee), Corey Maddox, for attending an anime convention despite being legally prohibited from coming in contact with minors, seems to have rendered the company stillborn even if their only explicitly announced title, Looking Up at the Half-Moon, does end up getting released (and the others involved with the title are working as hard as they can to make it possible). Apparently there were licensing problems too, and it looks at this point that the show will need to be rescued by another company for seeing a release.

    Comic Books 
  • The infamous crossover Death Mate 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 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 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. He hasn't done anything worth mentioning since.
  • X-Men Forever destroyed Chris Claremont's once-legendary career in comics.

    Film 

Individual creators

  • Jennifer Lynch, daughter of David Lynch, got hired as writer/director of Boxing Helena based largely on who her father was. The film was such a disaster that it took Lynch 15 years to get another directing job, and her career to date has been little more than a few scattered TV directing gigs.
  • Mel Brooks enjoyed a long string of successful films until Spaceballs, which received a tepid critical reception though managed to be Vindicated by Cable. Following that, Life Stinks became the death knell for Brooks as a leading man and started a string of unsuccessful films, ultimately leading to him retiring from feature films. He found better success on Broadway with his musical version of The Producers, which won eleven Tonies. (And, of course, the musical version was made - or, rather, remade - into a feature film in 2005, but Brooks himself didn't direct it.)
  • The Postman basically ended Kevin Costner's run as being star, director, and producer of his own films. He's had steady work as an actor in plenty of movies since then, but he has yet to recover his "A-list" star power. Waterworld didn't help him either, though at least that was a financial success.
  • Alex Cox, best known for Repo Man, had his feature career destroyed by the avant-garde film Walker. Since then, he's spent his life barely scraping together funds to make direct-to-DVD films.
  • Batman & Robin did this to Joel Schumacher, who is completely blamed for killing the franchise until Christopher Nolan revived it. Before then, Schumacher was known for his role in directing The Lost Boys, St. Elmo's Fire, and Falling Down. He sort of recovered in the aftermath, with military drama Tigerland picking up some surprise indie cred, Phone Booth becoming a sleeper hit and The Phantom of the Opera adaptation a financial success, but otherwise his career afterwards has been forgettable.
    • The film also torpedoed the careers of virtually all of its actors save George Clooney (and possibly Chris O'Donnell, whose general absence from the screen is more attributable to being a full-time dad than anything), most notably putting Uma Thurman's on life support until Doctor Tarantino turned up and performed surgery with a katana.
  • M. Night Shyamalan films have been steadily declining in critical acclaim since The Village, but The Last Airbender appears to be the point where Shyamalan's name became permanently soiled to the point where even his name, when attached to any film, automatically marks said film as box office poison. The horror movie Devil flopped even though he was only the producer. He was merely a director-for-hire on After Earth, and marketing actively limited mention of his name, but it did not escape the Shyamalan curse.
  • Fred Dekker (director of the cult classics Night of the Creeps and The Monster Squad) was brought on by Orion Pictures to write the screenplay for and direct RoboCop 3. Given the negative critical and box office reaction to the film, it's not exactly surprising that he hasn't directed anything since then. Aside from a gig as a consulting producer on Star Trek: Enterprise (itself nearly a Franchise Killer, and that was way back in 2002), he hasn't helmed anything for the last twenty years. Better yet, it was delayed for two years as Orion went bankrupt (although it wasn't the sole reason).
  • Ralph Bakshi has had brushes with this. He pioneered adult animation with Fritz the Cat (the first, and so far, only X-rated animated featurenote ) and Heavy Traffic. Then people threw a fit over his satire Coonskin (mostly due to bad marketing and people claiming it was racist and completely missing the point of the movie). Another movie he was making at the time, Hey Good Lookin, got pushed back over this controversy. Luckily, he bounced back with his fantasy films, like Wizards, his version of The Lord of the Rings and Fire and Ice, and later went on to work on TV shows like Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures (which was John Kricfalusi's first job before The Ren & Stimpy Show) and the TV version of The Butter Battle Book... And then he did Cool World, which suffered from heavy Executive Meddling note . The poor commercial response to this one resulted in 20th Century Fox pulling funding from a Wizards sequel. He made a TV movie, Cool And The Crazy afterwards, and another TV series, Spicy Citynote , which he left when faced with more Executive Meddling. He tried to make another movie, The Last Days Of Coney Island, but it was stuck in Development Hell until a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013. Time will tell if he's able to Win Back The Crowd with that one.
  • Critically speaking, Daddy Day Camp convinced Fred Savage and pretty much everyone else that his behind-the-camera techniques on television didn't belong in film. (Although it could be worse—Savage's career as a TV director hasn't missed a beat.)
  • Poseidon has pretty much ended Wolfgang Petersen's career as a director, despite a high quality track record before it (such as Das Boot, In the Line of Fire, Air Force One and The Perfect Storm). Despite having since been connected to other projects since then (mostly lesser quality, outside of an adaptation of Ender’s Game), those projects seem to get squashed during pre-production.
  • Actor Charles Laughton was never given a chance to direct a second film after the failure of The Night of the Hunter. A damn shame too, because the film has since been recognized as a classic.
  • Martin Brest directed four massively popular and/or critically acclaimed films in a row (Beverly Hills Cop, Midnight Run, Scent of a Woman, Meet Joe Black) from 1984 to 1998 before directing Gigli in 2003. The studio interference and test screenings were so bad that he promptly retired.
  • Acclaimed comedy screenwriter David Zucker had his career take a screeching halt with An American Carol, a political satire film that was criticized for its lame jokes and failed at the box office. He tried to make a comeback with Scary Movie 5, but it ended up being a critical bomb instead.
  • Music video director Joseph Kahn, once expected to emerge as the next Michael Bay, wouldn't make another feature film for seven years after the flop of the 2004 action movie Torque (and for good measure, his 2011 teen slasher parody Detention features a strong Take That to Torque). Intended as a Spiritual Successor to The Fast and the Furious (only on motorcycles!) and produced by the same guy, Neal H. Moritz, the film was shelved for a year before release and was universally trashed by the time it was released. The careers of its stars (apart from Ice Cube) were also derailed by the film.
  • Burn Hollywood Burn: An Alan Smithee Film (1998) managed to kill three careers:
    • Joe Eszterhas was, in the early '90s, the most powerful screenwriter in Hollywood. He received record amounts of money for his screenplays, which included hits such as Flashdance and Basic Instinct. His career took a hit with the ill-advised Showgirls, but that received a significant cult and ironic following. In 1998, however, Eszterhas wrote, produced, and acted in Burn Hollywood Burn, which was such an unmitigated disaster and complete flop that it all but ensured he would never sell a script to Hollywood ever again. Since then, his only output worth mentioning is the 2006 Hungarian film called Children of Glory. Of course, that's not to say he hasn't tried writing another Hollywood script; he wrote one about Judas Maccabeus that went into turnaround, to say the least.
    • The film also killed the career of respected director Arthur Hiller, who was known for making Love Story and being one of the hardest-working directors in the industry (to the point that he had at least one project being released every single year until 1997). Just before Burn was released, Hiller had his name removed from the credits, which resulted in the unintended irony of "Alan Smithee" (the alias used for an anonymous director) directing a film that starred a character named Alan Smithee. Hiller's career was left in shambles. The only thing he's directed since then was the film Pucked (starring Jon Bon Jovi), which ended up being rebranded under the National Lampoon banner and released Direct-to-Video.
    • And it even managed to kill the career of Alan Smithee! The "Alan Smithee" pseudonym for embarrassed/discontented directors had been in use for over 30 years, but the publicity given to the name by this film caused the DGA to retire the pseudonym in 2000.
  • The man behind the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band film was Robert Stigwood, owner of RSO Records, producer of smash hits Saturday Night Fever and Grease, and long-time manager of The Bee Gees. The absolute failure of this film was the beginning of the end of the Bee Gees' relationship with Stigwood (who felt they were dragged into his ego project), and was the first step in the shocking plummet of Stigwood's movie career - his movies post-Pepper included Times Square, Staying Alive, and Grease 2. Then he gave up.
    • This almost killed the Bee Gees' career as well - though the end of the disco era was what did them in.
  • Jared Hess was expected to be one of the next great comedic directors after having box office hits in Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre. Then he released Gentlemen Broncos, a movie that was such a disaster with critics (it was one of the ten worst reviewed films of 2009) that it did not receive a national release. The film grossed just $110,000, about 1% of its budget. Hess would later helm a loose Animated Adaptation of Napoleon Dynamite, but it got cancelled after only one season.
  • The failure of Ishtar killed Elaine May's directing career, though she's still done well as a writer for such films as The Birdcage and Primary Colors.
  • Writer/director Kerry Conran started and ended his career with Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He had been set to follow it up by directing the film adaptation of John Carter of Mars, but apparently got fired within hours of the opening weekend numbers for Sky Captain coming in. If only he had thrown an F word into the Sky Captain film somewhere...
  • The critical panning and the commercial disappointment of The Grudge 2 killed any chance of director Takashi Shimizu ever directing another American film and lost any popularity he had with audiences in his native Japan. It massively stalled the career of its lead, Amber Tamblyn, who took about three years before getting another semi-major rolenote .
  • Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel (who co-created Max Headroom and whose only other feature film directing gig was the 1988 remake of the thriller D.O.A.) haven't directed a feature film since the 1993 critical and box office disaster that was the film adaptation of Super Mario Bros. The film in general had a very Troubled Production with numerous rewrites, running behind schedule, and budget restraints.
  • The near-franchise killing performance of Star Trek: Nemesis pretty much ended the directing career of Stuart Baird, who infamously wasn't at all familiar with Star Trek: The Next Generation going in (a point The AV Club did not miss when they covered his DVD Commentary for their "Commentary Tracks Of The Damned" feature). Baird actually got the directing job in large part due to the editing work he did for Paramount's Mission Impossible II and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
  • Unlike many other action stars, Steven Seagal had an anomalous career of appearing in hits right from the start (compared to Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, who had several bad films under his belt before he starred as Terminator). Following the success of Under Siege, his ego got the better of him and he demanded that Warner Bros. finance his pet project On Deadly Ground, an environmental action pic in which he was the star and director. Its critical and financial failure ended his directorial career, and his acting career took a tremendous hit with it. Since then, his films made less and less money until he had a brief resurrection with Exit Wounds. An attempt to followup on that success with Half Past Dead effectively killed his career as an A-list leading man.
  • Can't Stop the Music destroyed the Village People in general and Bruce Jenner's movie career, and was the first and last feature directed by Nancy Walker. This can only partially be blamed on the poor timing of its release (disco had just become So Last Season by the time this film was released); if Ed Wood had made a disco musical, it would not have been THIS bad. The person most responsible, though, producer Allan Carr, went on to inflict Grease 2, Where The Boys Are '84 and Cloak & Dagger on the world and singlehandedly destroyed the Grease franchise in the process, though (see below) it all caught up with him eventually.
  • While none of Jonathan Frakes's cinematic directorial efforts quite matched the success he experienced with his debut on Star Trek: First Contact, his film directing career was well and truly torpedoed by the critical and commercial flop that was the live-action Thunderbirds movie. Since then, he's had to return to television directing.
  • Though John Carter still has a decent (if not as good as earlier hoped) chance of getting a sequel, at least two heads have already rolled as a direct result of its disappointing box office performance:
    • Disney Studios leader Rich Ross was fired just weeks after Disney predicted they'd lose $200 million on the project (considering the budget, though, the actual losses amount to just less than $100 million at this point).
    • The film's box office also led to head of marketing MT Carney (who had never worked in film before Disney hired her in 2010) to resign, since she was partially responsible for the film's infamously bad ad campaign.
  • Deadline, a British comics magazine, sunk in quite a bit of money and interest into the production of a film based on their most popular strip, Tank Girl. The film was released in April 1995 and flopped hard. Deadline's sales suffered as a result and released its last issue in August. The failure of the movie also killed off the Tank Girl comic until co-creator Alan Martin revived it for a clutch of mini-series that began in 2007 (the other creator, artist Jamie Hewlett, was busy with his other project at the time).
  • Warren Beatty has not had his name on the credits of any film, in any capacity, since the 2001 disaster Town & Country, which took three years and $90 million (over four times its original budget) to finish. That was not a big-budget sci-fi or historical epic film, mind you, but a romantic comedy.
  • Howard the Duck, in addition to costing several Universal executives their jobs and getting disowned by George Lucas (as well as being an Old Shame on the part of just about everyone involved), was a blow to husband-and-wife writing team Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz's career; he hasn't directed and she hasn't produced a movie since, and their only joint writing credit after that was another Lucasfilm failure (The Radioland Murders).
  • Gene Wilder blames his fall from fame on Haunted Honeymoon, a horror-comedy he co-wrote, directed, and starred in along with his wife, Gilda Radner (in her final film role before dying of ovarian cancer). The film was a disaster to both critics and audiences alike, with much of the complaining going toward co-star Dom Deluise being a Drag Queen and earning a Golden Raspberry Award for it. Wilder never fully recovered from the flop of this film, and went on to star in See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Funny About Love, and Another You, the latter two of which proved to be the last straw. A comeback attempt on television titled Something Wilder lasted only one season; the last time audiences from anywhere saw him was in two episodes of Will and Grace. He is currently trying his hand at writing novels.
  • Dennis Hopper was a rising star during the 1960s, but the massive success of Easy Rider in 1969 (which he co-wrote, directed, and starred in) catapulted him onto the A-list and left him carte blanche to pursue his choice of projects. With his newfound freedom, he wrote, directed and starred in a bizarre, nearly incomprehensible film-within-a-film called The Last Movie. It was such a critical and commercial disaster that Hopper couldn't even get another acting job in Hollywood until 1979, when Francis Ford Coppola offered him what would turn out to be a career-reviving role in Apocalypse Now. Meanwhile it completely killed his writing and directing careers; 1988's Colors was the only significant movie that he directed after that, and he never wrote another screenplay.
  • The disappointing reception of Blues Brothers 2000 effectively put an end to the directing career of John Landis. Years earlier, Landis barely averted this in the 1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie after actor Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed in a helicopter stunt gone horribly wrong in his segment, leading to massive lawsuits which were eventually settled out of court.
  • The massive box office failure of the multimillion dollar historical epic The Fall of the Roman Empire effectively killed the career of Madrid-based Hollywood film producer Samuel Bronston, who could not match the success of his masterpiece, El Cid. He ultimately filed for bankruptcy and his lavish studio folded thereafter. It also might have cost a 28-year Paramount executive his job.
  • It's a Wonderful Life, a box-office flop in its first release, managed to diminish the career of director Frank Capra. He was best known for his underdog stories about the little guy vs. rich politicians; those movies were popular in the Great Depression, but when Life debuted, it was considered too sentimental and old-hat. He ended up selling his independent production company, Liberty Films, to major-player Paramount, an irony considering the themes of his films. Naturally, it's been Vindicated by History.
    • Speaking of Capra, in 1973, Columbia Pictures backed a lavish, star-studded remake of the filmmaker's classic Lost Horizon. It was a Sound of Music-esque musical, made at a time when movie musicals like these were out of style. Naturally, it flopped hard.note  A-list producer Ross Hunter never made another feature film (he spent the rest of his career in television).
  • Roberto Benigni's life has been pretty ugly since the 40-million-euro failure that was his 2003 live-action Pinocchio. A decade before, he barely averted this from the start, playing the illegitimate son of Inspector Clouseau in the ruthlessly savaged megabomb Son of the Pink Panther.
  • Mariano Peralta made many films before 2007's Snuff 102, but none after, the controversy surrounding it having apparently killed his career. That the controversy caused every last distributor to balk at the very thought of distributing the film obviously didn't help matters.
  • Though cinematographer Adam Greenberg (ASC), who photographed several films for The Cannon Group, as well as The Big Red One, Iron Eagle, La Bamba, Three Men And A Baby (and its sequel), Ghost, Sister Act, North, Inspector Gadget, and several Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicles, announced his retirement after finishing Snakes on a Plane, its underperformance at the box office managed to make for a very eerie coincidence.
  • Nick Palumbo hasn't been able to get anything off the ground since 2004's Murder Set Pieces.
  • Though his career had begun to decline after the success of Victor/Victoria, Blake Edwards pretty much retired from filmmaking after Son of The Pink Panther obtained a poor reception both critically and commercially, retreating to stage work.
  • Marilyn Manson just can't catch a break, with his Holy Wood film never getting made due to publisher problems, followed by the book not getting released (at least the album did), but what has put the brakes on his filmmaking hopes was Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carrol, a psychological horror movie based on Alice in Wonderland and the life of Lewis Carrol, with writer-director Manson as the lead role and his, at the time, girlfriend (now, his ex for a while), Evan Rachel-Wood, as Alice. The trailer was leaked and ruled too violent. It's extremely not safe for work, but less for the violence, which is limited, and more for the sex.
  • Dana Carvey's career was never really going great distances before he made The Master of Disguise, but afterwards it pretty much went straight down the crapper at Warp 9. It was six years before he did anything again, eight years before another film role (reprising a Saturday Night Live joke), and nine to do another feature film - and even that was a cameo appearance in an Adam Sandler movie.
  • Michael Sarne's big career as a film director began and ended with the disastrous Myra Breckinridge.
  • The film version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was such a bad experience for director Stephen Norrington that after its release he announced he would never direct another film. To date, he hasn't. Even worse, Sean Connery became disenchanted with the moviemaking process as a result and retired.
  • Michael Keaton's career effectively ended with Jack Frost (1998). Less than a decade before he'd been one of the most famous movie stars in the world thanks to Batman and its sequel, but Jack Frost was just so bizarre and off-putting (especially for a family film) that it failed to click, and Keaton would not be seen in any major live-action roles until 2014's RoboCop reboot.
  • Actor Michael Beck was in his late twenties when he was cast in his first big role as Swan, the Noble Savage protagonist of the 1979 urban crime drama The Warriors. A year later, having just turned 30, Beck was seen opposite Olivia Newton-John in the box-office bomb Xanadu - which, like Can't Stop the Music, jumped on the disco bandwagon a little too late. As Beck himself put it, "The Warriors opened a lot of doors in film for me, which Xanadu then closed."
  • Despite its later acclaim, Citizen Kane effectively killed the director's, Orson Welles, standing in Hollywood. Prior to the film, Welles was a young hotshot director on the rise. He was given full creative control over Kane, but due to the controversial subject matter (being a mock biography of media mogul William Hearst) Hearst made sure to crush the film. The film failed at the box office, and Welles' subsequent studio films all suffered heavy Executive Meddling thanks to Kane killing his credibility. His next film, The Magnificent Ambersons, went unreleased on DVD for many years due to the heavy butchering it received, and composer Bernard Herrmann also suffered the consequences of Hearst's campaign: he actually went so far as to try to get his credit removed because the studio had dared to edit his score as roughly as they did the film itself. As for Welles himself, The Magnificent Ambersons was the straw that broke the camel's back, and he quit RKO after finishing that picture. At least he didn't have it as bad with the other studios, both in Hollywood and abroad...
  • Robert Fuest had a very promising career following the Dr. Phibes films and The Final Programme. Then he did The Devil's Rain, which was such a critical misfire it took a huge blow on Fuest. It was nothing but TV projects after that for most of the 1980's. Okay, he did one more movie, the soft-core porn Aphrodite, but that was it.
  • While his first animated film The Fox and the Hound was a modest success, it was the massive failure of The Black Cauldron (as well as early development problems on his next film The Great Mouse Detective) that prematurely ended Richard Rich's career as a director at Disney.
    • After leaving Disney, Rich had some success independently with The Swan Princess franchise in the 1990s (despite the first film being a massive box office bomb), but the failure of The King and I pretty much ensured that he'd never direct another big-budget feature length animated film again.
  • Paul Rudnick had a promising film career as a writer with hits like Addams Family Values and In And Out. However, the critical and commercial flop that was The Stepford Wives remake ensured he would never write another movie again as he hasn't written one since.
  • Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg never worked on a movie that had good reviews but movies like Scary Movie, Date Movie, Epic Movie and Meet The Spartans did well enough to keep them working in Hollywood despite scathing reviews from both critics and audiences. But then the backlash towards their work caused Disaster Movie to flop. Their next effort, Vampires Suck, didn't completely flop but was a box office disappointment. It seems the latter has been the movie that killed their career as their next two movies, The Starving Games and Best Night Ever only received a limited theatrical release.
  • Before Loser, Amy Heckerling directed hit movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Look Who's Talking and Clueless. After the movie, it took her seven years to do another movie and that one (I Can Never Be Your Woman) went direct-to-DVD while the other one (Vamps) recieved a limited release. In-between those movies, she's done mostly TV work.
  • Brazilian director José Padilha, who's career sparked following The Elite Squad, may end up getting hit with this trope after the high-profile box office flop that was the the 2014 Continuity Reboot of RoboCop. Although it was rescued from being a bigger disaster thanks to overseas gross, it instantly flopped domestically as it received a mere $21.5 million on its opening weekend, failing to defeat The Lego Movie for the top spot. It further slumped the following weekend with a nearly 55% loss of gross the following weekend, making it certain that the film will probably never recoup its budget nationwide. Things certainly didn't seem to help matters when Padilha complained over the Executive Meddling with the film before shooting started, referring to the complications as "hell".
  • After Gremlins, it seemed like Joe Dante was going to have a promising career in Hollywood. But after his other movies underperformed at the box office and he clashed with studios like Warner Brothers and Universal over many of his films, his career as a mainstream film director was finally killed by the flop that was Looney Tunes: Back in Action. After that movie, he's done mostly TV work with only The Hole as an exception, a movie that only received a limited release.
  • Unlike Thunderbirds director Jonathan Frakes (mentioned above), the movie's primary writer William Osborne hasn't had another credit to this day (it can't have helped that Fat Slags, which he also penned, came out the same year).
  • The critical failure of The Vintner's Luck basically ended Niki Caro's directing career, as she has had trouble trying to get anything produced since (despite having had two acclaimed films, Whale Rider and North Country, before).
  • The back-to-back failures of Rollerball and Basic promptly ended the successful career of John McTiernan, where after that, he went to prison for his connection to the Anthony Pellicano case.
  • After the commercial disappointment of Dreamcatcher, Lawrence Kasdan didn't direct another movie for nine years until he made Darling Companion, which got terrible reviews and was a box office loser.
  • The critical and commercial disappointments of both Mercury Rising and Domestic Disturbance, prompted director Harold Becker to retire from the film industry.
  • David Atkins tried to make his directorial debut with the movie Novocaine. When the movie flopped, he's had trouble finding work, with his only job since then being an internet series he made called The Horrible Terrible Misadventures Of David Atkins.
  • Mike Myers used to be popular. But after a few disappointments like Shrek the Third and The Cat in the Hat, he tried to Win Back The Crowd with a wacky grossout comedy in the vein of the earlier Austin Powers and Wayne's World. The written-produced-and-starred-in result, The Love Guru, grossed 40 million worldwide against a 60 million budget and won a trio of Razzies. Since then, his filmography has consisted of a single scene in Inglourious Basterds, the underperforming Shrek Forever After, and two documentaries.
  • James Wong hasn't directed any movies since Dragonball Evolution. Instead, he's been relegated to TV work. It probably didn't help that the movie was despised by critics, fans, and moviegoers or that the creator of Dragon Ball himself hated it.
  • Sergio Leone was once renowned for his works in the spaghetti western genre, with his most notable achievement being the Dollars Trilogy starring Clint Eastwood. Unfortunately, his later works ended up becoming the victim of excessive Executive Meddling, with the editors removing sequences deemed to be too controversial or insensitive, and the quality of his works began to deteriorate as a result. The final straw of this was Once Upon a Time in America, which was stripped down to 139 minutes from its original 246 minute-long cut and ended up receiving initially trashing reviews and abysmal box office receipts. According to writer Christopher Frayling, the film's failure left Leone devastated and disillusioned by the persistent intervention from studio executives in America that he never directed or wrote another movie again. He had several projects laid out as possible comebacks, but things really didn't go so well for Leone in the end.
  • Even David Lean suffered from this. His rural Irish epic Ryan's Daughter was a critical disaster, and he wouldn't direct another major film until 1984's A Passage to India (which was his final film).
  • Alan Parker has not directed a major film following the critical bashing of his 2003 legal drama The Life Of David Gale.
  • Acclaimed controversial filmmaker Samuel Fuller never directed or wrote another major motion picture following the Executive Meddling and absolute flop of White Dog, an anti-racism film where a white dog attacks and mauls innocent African-American people (Long story short: Paramount never gave the movie a wide release over fears of a massive uproar from civil rights groups). Following its wide release on DVD by The Criterion Collection, many critics and audiences denounced Paramount's decision to suppress its release.
  • Darren Lynn Bousman's career rose quickly with the first three Saw sequels and Repo! The Genetic Opera, which immediately made him a popular horror director with many future projects to choose from. Then he made 11-11-11, which was a critical and commercial flop. Since then, Bousman has been reduced to directing films exclusively for the straight-to-DVD market.
  • Oliver Hirschbiegel seems to be heading this way. After the highly acclaimed Downfall, his next work was The Invasion, a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where he was kicked off during production after a poor rough cut and replaced with James McTeigue to finish the film. His next major project, a biopic of Princess Diana, was so lambasted by the British press that it forewent a theatrical release in America and was quietly released straight-to-DVD.
    • And even his rise was a stroke of luck. He tried to pull out of Downfall to do another film but was forced to stay on for contractual reasons. The film he almost did? Blade: Trinity, which ended that franchise.
  • Tom Dey, who directed a pair of decent box office performers in Shanghai Noon and Failure To Launch, had his career destroyed by the flop that was Marmaduke in 2010. He has not directed since.
  • As a cinematographer, Gordon Willis's credits include Klute, The Godfather (all three movies) and numerous Woody Allen movies in the '70s and '80s. His directorial career began and ended with 1980's Windows, a five-Razzie nominee which he admitted was a mistake - and given it's a movie about a lesbian (Elizabeth Ashley) who hires a man to rape the woman she fancies (Talia Shire) thereby putting her off men so she can swoop in... well, yeah.
  • Donald Petrie has made a number of films that mostly weren't very well received critically but did well to okay at the box office. Then he released two flops, Welcome To Mooseport and Just My Luck, in a row and the following movies he's made have all been independent films.
  • Stephen Herek's career died after Man Of The House flopped. After that movie, he's been relegated to Direct-to-DVD and TV movies.

Film studios/production companies

  • Although it was considered the dominant force in the European motion picture industry, it is believed that a string of box office failures (including The Big Lebowski and Barney's Great Adventure), prompted PolyGram to leave the film industry, selling off their film division (and eventually themselves) to Seagram. Unfortunately they couldn't have decided that at a worse time: one of their final films was Notting Hill, an international smash that would've reversed their fortunes if they hadn't already shut down before it was released. Additionally, The Big Lebowski, which had only barely made back its budget upon original release, quickly picked up a cult following upon home video release and eventually grossed nearly triple what it originally made theatrically — a windfall that PolyGram would miss out on.
  • During the late 1980s and early 1990s, what could be considered a curse befell the "mini-majors," film studios that were not bigger than the majors (Columbia, Fox, Warner Bros.), but tried their hand at the risky gamble of movies. Cannon, Carolco, Orion, and Vestron (all listed below) were victims. Some could say that they did not have close partnerships with the majors; companies such as Castle Rock and Morgan Creek managed that synergy and they still exist. Another problem was that it seemed as though the studios could not survive without being taken over by a conglomerate (Columbia had recently been bought by Sony and Panasonic bought MCA, then-Universal's parent company). In addition, other indies such as Miramax and New Line survived through serving niche audiences; both ended up being bought out by conglomerates.
  • Battlefield Earth was such a terrible film that Franchise Pictures lost huge amounts of money. However, the final nail in the coffin was when Franchise was hit by a lawsuit from investors who accused the company of deliberately inflating the film's budget to pad their coffers. Franchise Pictures lost the lawsuit and declared bankruptcy. John Travolta's reputation got a bad rap due to this movie, but he later bounced back. Battlefield Earth also killed moviegoers' chances of taking any L. Ron Hubbard or Scientology film seriously.
  • Although the magazine was suffering from slumping sales by the late 1980s, it has been argued that the film Vegas Vacation was this to what remained of the original National Lampoon magazine. After reaching high marks with film adaptations such as Animal House and the first film in the Vacation series, the magazine's humor started dying off and so did the humor of their film adaptations by 1986, when the magazine ended up getting issued six times a year instead of every month. Once Vegas Vacation was released, it was widely mauled by critics and fans of the Vacation series, mostly for its bland, aging humor, poor writing and its lack of punchlines, and was especially noted for featuring no involvement from John Hughes, who wrote the screenplay for the first three movies and produced the third one. It's been said that National Lampoon disliked the film so much that they demanded that their label not be placed in it. While the film itself was a moderate box office success, it became the lowest-grossing film of the Vacation series and wasn't enough to convince J2 Communications, owner of the magazine since 1991, to continue the once-treasured publication that defined American humor when it first started in 1970. Its final issue was published in November 1998.
  • Some have suggested that Can't Stop the Music (see above) ended up killing music label EMI's film studio, but Honky Tonk Freeway, released just a year later, was in reality the bigger perpetrator. The film's scathing reviews from critics for its stereotyping of American culture, combined with revelations that the film was financed by executive producer Roy Tucker through tax dodging schemes with assistance from a banking cartel (which prompted EMI to sell the film rights to investors to clean their hands of the matter), led to audiences staying away from the movie in theaters and was taken out of the screens after only a week. The film flopped instantly as a result and EMI Films spent its final five years producing or financing a string of moderately to poorly successful films, before EMI sold the studio to businessman Alan Bond (who would end up becoming the target of press controversy for scandals that same decade), who in turn sold the assets to The Cannon Group.
  • 20th Century Fox's genre film label Fox Atomic never really took off in its first two years of existence, but the failure of Miss March, which was preceded by a long string of massive flops, proved to be the straw that finally broke the camel's back, as the label's later projects were sent to other Fox labels after its failure. Plans for a remake of Revenge of the Nerds were also canned as a result, though part of that was also due to script disagreements and crude subject matter.
  • The British film company Goldcrest never really recovered from the one-two punch of 1985's Revolution (a massively expensive movie about the American Revolution with the singular casting of Al Pacino and Nastassja Kinski - which may explain why it was 15 years until there was another one) and 1986's Absolute Beginners (a hugely expensive musical set in the 1950s which derailed star Eddie O'Connell's career (his IMDb page is very skimpy after the film, and he has nothing after 2003), and served as a speed bump for Patsy Kensit's). See the book My Indecision Is Final for the whole sordid story.
  • Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within killed Square Pictures and nearly killed the merger between Squaresoft and Enix (the companies did eventually merge into Square Enix in 2003), and pressured Hironobu Sakaguchi, the guy who came up with the idea for Final Fantasy(probably saving Square Soft from shutting down entirely back in the 1980s) into resigning from the companynote , since the film was his 100-million-dollar-losing project. To put this into perspective, this was during the Turn of the Millennium, a time when Squaresoft was one of the most successful and dominant video game companies. Despite the success of Final Fantasy X and the Kingdom Hearts series, Square has yet to completely reverse the backslide it suffered from the failure of Spirits Within. Whereas at the turn of the century Square was seen as the single greatest RPG maker in the entire industry of gaming, now they're facing stiff competition from emerging Western developers like Bioware, and their position of complete dominance brought about by groundbreaking games such as Final Fantasy VII has long since faded.
  • Francis Ford Coppola's One From the Heart is often compared to Heaven's Gate as a great financial disaster. A small art film that went seriously overbudget, it led to the demise of Coppola's revolutionary and state-of-the-art Zoetrope Studios, which he put up for auction not long after the film lost money. Coppola's career didn't take a major hit as Heaven's Gate director Michael Cimino did, but he ended up spending the next two decades directing more commercial fare and less artistic ones to pay off the massive debt this film had caused.
  • A subversion: Alan Ladd, Jr. was perhaps one of the top, if not the top, Hollywood executives during his tenure at 20th Century Fox, having overseen the production of Star Wars and Aliennote , but after the latter was released he left the studio to start his own company, and while it did produce some blockbuster hits, like Blade Runner, Police Academy, and Chariots of Fire for Warner Bros., he could not really survive on his own and ended up producing three high-profile flops in 1983-1984, The Right Stuff, Twice Upon a Time, and Once Upon a Time in America (such a shame too, since these films have since been recognized as classics). After these flops Ladd shuttered his studio and was left unheard of for a while, before going to MGM and bouncing back to the top. After his tenure with that company, he re-established his studio and again went alone, with moderate to high success. He's pretty much stayed there since then.
  • In 1985, ABC Motion Pictures produced a feel-good Coming of Age film called SpaceCamp, where a group of kids were launched into space on the Space Shuttle. Before its summer 1986 release, the Challenger disaster happened. They released it anyway, and it bombed horribly, making only half its budget back at the box office. The studio that released Cabaret, Silkwood and made-for-TV juggernaut The Day After, would never release another film again, unless it was a movie-of-the-week.
    • It might not have been SpaceCamp that killed ABC Motion Pictures, though it was the last straw. Much of their output flopped at the box office and proved that television networks were inept at backing feature films; CBS and NBC also learned that the hard way. But unlike NBC - which got the message after the likes of Code Name: Emerald and Satisfaction in the 1980s - CBS (which tried it in the late '60s-early '70s with Cinema Center Films and in the '80s with CBS Theatrical Films) is having another go with CBS Films. And so far, it looks like it may beat the Network Film Production Curse (or NFPC for short) this time around.
      • Or not. CBS Films seems to be quietly on its last legs with no new productions in development and a few films still on the shelf (including a pair of films that were supposed to be released in 2012). CBS had hopes for Last Vegas and Inside Llewyn Davis to turn the label's fortunes around but neither was a big enough hit to do so.
  • The embezzlement of company funds by the company's owner (followed by his arrest and several lawsuits) killed both Capitol Films and THINKFilm in 2008 after having been involved with a number of successful indie films earlier in the decade. This collapse was so great that their entire library has rarely seen the light of day since (and some films that were in production during the fallout will never be released because of the lawsuits).
  • Though there may have been a few other factors (such as the departure of Harvey Weinstein, and Rich Ross and Bob Iger wanting to cut Disney's film slate), Disney selling Miramax Films to a holding company, Filmyard Holdings effectively signaled the end of that company, as Filmyard was only interested in the library and nothing more. Weinstein wanted to buy the name so the label could keep going but Disney (more than likely still angry about his departure) refused. Since then, it's been essentially a library management company, licensing its content on various platforms, instead of making its own slate of films.
  • The failure of the "John Wayne as Genghis Khan" epic The Conqueror is often said to have precipitated the demise of one of Hollywood's major studios, RKO, at the time owned by Howard Hughes who obviously didn't know what he was doing. It was later sold to a tire company (!), made a few films in the 1980s, and now solely exists to sanction remakes of its films. Because the movie was also filmed near an above-ground nuclear test site (with Hughes even reportedly shipping back some of the sand from the filming area for studio shoots), some believe it to have been a literal career killer, responsible for the cancer deaths of a number of people involved in the shoot, Wayne included.
  • The Terminator franchise has had bad luck with this lately; all four of them had the involvement of production companies (Hemdale, Carolco, C2, and The Halcyon Company) that are currently either dead or dormant, and only Hemdale was lucky enough to hang around at the time its film's sequel was made. The Halcyon Company, however, had the worst luck after its film, as a lawsuit related to the film drove it into bankruptcy and, ultimately, dormancy.
  • Vestron Pictures had had a huge success in 1987 courtesy of Dirty Dancing, a film they had originally planned to release in theatres for only a weekend, and then send straight to home video, since they had originally been in the video distribution business long before entering film production. Unfortunately, they followed it up with a series of flops, most of them B-Movies, and these flops, coupled with the fact that many of their former clients were now forming their own home video divisions and thus no longer needed their services, caused Vestron's parent company, Vestron, Inc., to go bankrupt in 1990.
  • The failure of The Golden Compass in the US, along with other films released in 2007, led Time Warner to absorb New Line Cinema into Warner Bros. proper in 2008. Today, New Line exists as a division of Warner Bros. Pictures, mainly releasing films based on their properties. What's worse is that they could have avoided it all by not selling off the foreign distribution rights, which contributed to 80% of the film's earnings.
    • The 2008 merger of Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema also managed to take down both of its arthouse labels, Warner Independent Pictures and Picturehouse, with it as Warner Bros. had planned for the latter to serve as its label for smaller films (instead, New Line became a label for sequels to previous New Line films with the occasional B-movie while Warner Bros. got the lion's share of the productions). Before then, the formation of Picturehouse (a joint venture between New Line and HBO) managed to kill off Fine Line Features as New Line decided that having two art labels was excessive. Fortunenly for Picturehouse, founder Bob Berney bought the label from Warner Bros. and revived it as an independent studio in January 2013.
  • The critical and box office disaster of the 1979 disaster movie Meteor led to the rapid downfall of American International Pictures (AIP). Their new owners, Filmways, folded them over merely a year later after a few more forgettable movies (Mad Max being the lone exception). Of course, Filmways themselves got hit by box office duds and financial issues and the only way they escaped bankruptcy was by selling some of their assets. They were then bought by Orion Pictures in 1982 and everything was good, until...
  • Executives at Orion Pictures declared bankruptcy in 1991, blaming their destruction on UHF, the wacky comedy starring "Weird Al" Yankovic which they considered the fork in the road for the studio. The film tested so well that they pit it against a murderer's row of blockbuster franchises, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Licence to Kill, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Ghostbusters 2, Lethal Weapon 2 and Batman. The loss of money (as well as the loss of critical favor which they had been building throughout the 80s) seemed to mentally break the studio's already-disheveled management: aside from Dances with Wolves and The Silence of the Lambs, the entirety of Orion's post-UHF releases were one poorly-thought-out disaster after another.
  • Caravan Pictures was intended to be a specialty division for Disney when it was formed by famous Hollywood producers Roger Birnbaum and Joe Roth in 1992. The label's first movies (The Three Musketeers, Angels in the Outfield, and A Low Down Dirty Shame to name a few) were moderate to large box offices successes, but when Roth left the studio to become chairman of Walt Disney Pictures, a string of huge box office bombs followed and the few films that did turn up a large profit (While You Were Sleeping, G. I. Jane, and Six Days Seven Nights) was not enough to convince Disney to repair the label's critically damaged reputation. This led to Birnbaum, who was placed in the boss's seat following Roth's departure, leaving the studio to form his own company, Spyglass Entertainment, in 1998. Disney shut down Caravan in 1999 following the release of the commercially successful but critically thrashed Inspector Gadget Live-Action Adaptation (it's a Logo Joke, yes, but it may or may not be significant that at the end of the film, the guy walking down the road in their logo sprouts a propeller and flies off, never to be seen again). What remained of Caravan was absorbed into Birnbaum's then-new Spyglass Entertainment.
  • The box office failure Live-Action Adaptation of Peter Pan, blamed on competition with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, did this to Universal's parent Vivendi Universal, who was already saddled with massive debt before the film was released. It wasn't until after the film's release that the debt load from the film's failure ensured that conglomerate Vivendi would be unable to pay off the debt without sacrificing profits. Just a year later, Vivendi sold 80% of its stake of Universal Studios to General Electric, the then-parent company of NBC, forming the partnership that became NBCUniversal.
  • The failure of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace most likely ruined the attempt by Cannon Group (who didn't give special priority to the sequel, as they were already overstretched with other productions at the time) to become a legitimate film studio. Not too surprisingly, Cannon closed up shop by the dawn of the 1990s.
  • 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 none of WBA's feature films never success with the critics and the box office-Space Jam, while a box office success, is very much a Love It or Hate It film; while The Iron Giant, despite garnering critical praise, tanked at the box office, largely because Warner Bros. didn't make much of an effort to market the film (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm also suffered from being an Acclaimed Flop, but it was made before WBFA was established and was originally going to ship straight-to-video before being bumped by Warner Bros. to a theatrical release). It has since been succeeded by Warner Animation Group who released their first film —The Lego Movie— in 2014 to critical acclaim and box-office success.

A combination of creators/companies

  • Heaven's Gate destroyed the career of Michael Cimino (the director of The Deer Hunter), contributed to the collapse of its studio, United Artists, 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.
    • Cimino's directing career didn't immediately end after that, but he never recovered, as all of his post-Heaven's Gate outings were commercial failures. Not long after Heaven's Gate Cimino was offered a chance to direct (of all things) Footloose, but when his prima donna behavior started again during pre-production, Paramount quickly booted him. After Sunchaser failed to get a wide theatrical release due to poor test screenings, it was curtains for Cimino.
    • Considering that Transamerica was already getting weary of filmmaking by that point, it's been speculated that they deliberately TARFU'd the film in the editing room as a convenient excuse to get UA off their hands. The film has since seen a massive reassessment and, in 2012, a revival, at which it was said that film history would've been different if the producers hadn't tried to TARFU the picture and that its failure had been caused by "one of the greatest injustices in cinematic history".
  • The failure of Titan A.E. brought down both Don Bluth's career and Fox Animation Studios, and contributed to the end of The Renaissance Age of Animation. Before that, Rock-A-Doodle sank Bluth's original studio.
  • 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 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. Aside from the successes of On Golden Pond and Sophie's Choice, the only thing keeping ITC profitable for the final years of its existence was its library of previous accomplishments.
  • The critical and box office 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 (at least until Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Two, which judging by the trailers for Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World looks to be Darker and Edgier than the earlier films at the very least); as a further consequence, it also effectively ended the Touchstone label except to distribute DreamWorks projects and foreign films (the last in-house productions released by Touchstone were You Again and Step Up 3D, both released in 2010).
  • 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).

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 Corporation 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.
  • The home video division of the personal multimedia empire operated by Michael Nesmith (formerly of The Monkees), Pacific Arts, was killed by its deal with PBS, which was abruptly terminated on Columbus Day, 1993. What became known as the "Columbus Day Massacre" led to the legal eagles flying in from both sides before a settlement was reached in 1999. As for the Pacific Arts Corporation itself, it's still around.
  • 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.

    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.

NBC

  • 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 did resurface in The Nineties 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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.

    Music 

Bands/groups

  • Arrested Development's sophomore album, despite being highly regarded, pretty much arrested the development of the group's mainstream career (at least in America).
  • Digable Planets was an up-and-coming jazz-rap group who were well on their way to stardom thanks to cross-genre appeal of their single "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" and debut album Reachin'. Then their second album, Blowout Comb, bombed despite critical acclaim. The band disbanded soon after. Most people believe the reason why Blowout Comb failed was due to it being more socio-political and Afrocentric.
  • A Tribe Called Quest broke up after the polarizing The Love Movement, although this had more to do with members Phife Dawg and Q-Tip being unable to get along with each other. Phife's health issues led to the group reuniting to pay for his medical expenses, and there's been talk of a new album.
  • Dexys Midnight Runners followed up their international hit album Too-Rye-Ay with Don't Stand Me Down, an expansive experimental soul album, which was acclaimed by critics...but didn't sit too well with their fans, who wanted another "Come On Eileen". An actual single from the album wasn't released until several months after the album was, and the single chosen — "This Is What She's Like" — was twelve minutes long. The band was gone soon afterwards.
  • Morbid Angel had been one of the most popular and acclaimed death metal acts around for most of their career, but they hit a decidedly low point with Heretic, which was derided for its awful production, poor songwriting, and large amounts of filler. After that, the band more or less fell off the radar for a long while aside from the release of a new song. Then Illud Divinum Insanus hit almost eight years later and with no small amount of hype (it had been built up as some sort of grand, genre-busting experiment that would change death metal). Not only was it not the album that fans had been waiting for, but it was fucking awful. The straight death metal songs were by far the best songs on the album, and even those were far, far below their standards. The other tracks, however, ranged from Lamb Of God-esque post-thrash all the way to incredibly bad 90s-sounding industrial buttrock that sounded like it came from Rob Zombie's trash can, and Dave Vincent's severely degraded voice and horrendously bad lyrics only made things worse. Even Pete Sandoval, who didn't play on the album or have much to do with its writing (he was undergoing back surgery and was being filled in for by Tim Yeung), absolutely savaged it. To say that the metal community was pissed would be an understatement. To say it was their St. Anger would be even more of an understatement; if anything, that album went over better than I. While the band still has an okay live reputation, it's pretty safe to say that I was a colossal shark-jump and more or less completely destroyed their reputation and the metal community's respect for them.
  • Happened to post-hardcore band Hum in 1998. After they scored some unexpected success with You'd Prefer An Astronaut in 1995, the band spent waited nearly 3 years before they released their followup, Downward Is Heavenward. The album was a commercial failure in comparison to it's predecessor, and the band's label, RCA, lost a great deal of money trying to promote it. Partially because of the album's inability to reach an audience, the band broke up shortly afterward. However, over the years the album has come to be recognized as not only Hum's masterpiece, but as one of the best albums of the 90s
  • Some victims of the Sophomore Slump manage to recover with a third album, others fall apart after the failure of album number two:
    • Second Coming by The Stone Roses, which had been delayed by Executive Meddling, a productivity-halting lawsuit trying to stop them from moving to Geffen, and general band procrastination (moving to Wales to record did not help). The album was finally released in 1994, over five years after their debut album. The album completely failed to live up to its hype and despite lead single "Love Spreads" becoming a genuine hit, the album received middling reviews and disappeared from the charts quickly. So were the band: they split up two years later, after a series of badly-reviewed live appearances and hiring Replacement Scrappies after their guitarist and drummer left.
    • The Knack followed up their hit album Get the Knack and #1 hit single "My Sharona" with ...But the Little Girls Understand. The album was a complete dud commercially and critically, and despite releasing a couple more albums before they broke up, those releases never troubled the pop charts and were released with almost no fanfare.
  • Sepultura was one of the biggest names in metal during the early/mid-90's. Unfortunately, the departure of lead singer Max Cavalera and a string of poorly-to-averagely received studio albums with new singer Derrick Greene essentially drove the band into a musical wasteland, forgotten or neglected by all but a few loyal and dedicated fans.
  • The Dixie Chicks, one of the most popular pop-country acts of the early-2000's, were effectively destroyed after lead singer Natalie Maines made some anti-George W. Bush remarks during a London concert in 2003 (predictably, conservative Bush supporters made up a significant portion of the band's audience). When the group returned with Taking the Long Way, the album and its singles were practically ignored by country radio even though it was critically acclaimed and an across-the-board smash on the general Billboard album and singles charts. The single "Not Ready to Make Nice" made it to number 36 on the country chart, but made into the Top 5 of the pop charts, went Platinum and received the Record of the Year Grammy.
  • Milli Vanilli, in a strange way, actually averted this. The event that killed the duo (literally, in the case of Rob Pilatus) was the revelation that they didn't actually sing their own music on the album, so technically, they weren't the "creators" to begin with. While pop singers not writing their own songs is commonplace, they're still expected to actually, y'know, be singers. Role Ending Misdemeanor doesn't even begin to describe the aftermath — they had their Grammy for Best New Artist revoked, and they faced a couple dozen lawsuits from enraged fans demanding refunds.
  • The Jacksons made out quite well financially from their troubled Victory tour. But, to the unpleasant surprise of everyone but him, Michael announced after the last show that the brothers would never tour together again. They and their father had been planning to do another leg of shows in Europe. But Michael was right.
    • Chuck Sullivan, son of New England Patriots' owner Billy, had pledged the Patriots and their stadium as collateral to finance the tour. He was replaced by Don King midway through when it became abundantly clear to everyone save himself that he was completely over his head trying to do this. The losses he took nearly drove the Patriots bankrupt, and forced him and his father to sell the team they had started almost 30 years earlier.
  • Todd in the Shadows has said that the critical mauling of The Black Eyed Peas' album The Beginning, along with their poorly-received Super Bowl performance and the failure of their video game The Black Eyed Peas Experience, badly damaged their career and led to them going on hiatus in 2011. Since then, will.i.am has had success as a solo artist, but there has been little talk of a reunion or a new album.
  • Ever wonder who killed the Electric Light Orchestra? You can pin the blame on the clumsy and rather inept mixing crew for the television broadcast version of their Wembley concert in 1978. Due to the crew's gross mishandling of the mixing duties, the band got falsely accused of lip-synching during the concert. This had always been a problem for the band, but after that one broadcast, the false accusations only intensified. It eventually became too much for the band, to the point where the only thing that sustained the group up to the mid-'80s was their contract with CBS; the group had already disbanded in 1983, but they were contractually obliged to do one more album. The worst part? The show was taped in stereo, and a future stereo release wasn't even considered, even though stereo wouldn't be a feature for home video until the '80s. So basically, ELO was killed not only by its set design (they wouldn't have needed the backing tapes that were upmixed by the mixing crew in the first place if it weren't for the technical difficulties caused by their elaborate stage set), but by an emerging television sound system.
  • The Wanted. While their only major controversy was an insult hurled at Christina Aguilera, their career suffered simply by the presence of One Direction. Hot on the heels of their respective smash hits "Glad You Came" and "What Makes You Beautiful," the media portrayed the two boy bands as equal rivals trying to break through into the United States — but once One Direction broke a longstanding attendance record on NBC's Today show and debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, things didn't look so bright for The Wanted anymore. Their album debuted at #7 and sold 15,000 copies less than 1D's album sold in its seventh week. The group would never return to the Hot 100's top 40 again, and after a minor radio hit with "Chasing the Sun", they never had a single receive even minor levels of airplay. As for 1D, they would achieve a level of success not seen by a boy band since *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys — and exceeding many of their accomplishments — while The Wanted's career would continue to sink to the bottom of the ocean. Eventually, they got dropped from their label and were forced to break up only a month later.
  • Time will tell if Sugarland will suffer from this or not. Their 2010 album The Incredible Machine was extremely divisive to both fans and critics, and only one of its singles ("Stuck Like Glue") was a hit. In August 2011, only about a month after the album's last single became their lowest-peaking to date, the duo was subject to a series of lawsuits after a stage collapse during one of their concerts at the Indiana State Fair which killed seven concertgoers. Sugarland has released nothing since the collapse, although both members (Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush) released solo singles in the last quarter of 2013.
  • The Hawthorne Muchachos were ascending the ranks of Drum Corps International when they were disqualified for marching an overage member just prior to the 1975 DCI Championship Finals. The corps never made it back to Finals and folded three years later.

Female artists (solo)

  • Saturday Night Live is known as the show that has been able to make many unknown musicians into overnight superstars... but it's also known as the show where many other artists have derailed their careers just as rapidly.
    • Ashlee Simpson was expected to be the next Avril Lavigne, following in the footsteps of her big sister Jessica to become a major pop star. Her first album, Autobiography, went triple platinum. Then came her disastrous performance on Saturday Night Live in October 2004, where she was caught lip-syncing when her band started playing the wrong song, followed by an embarrassing "hoe-down" when she realized what was happening. Following an equally disastrous half-time performance at the Orange Bowl a few months later, Ashlee's music career was all but over. Her following album, 2005's I Am Me, sold far less than Autobiography and didn't even reach the platinum mark, and she wouldn't release another album for five years. She's had a bit more success as an actress, playing Violet Foster on the short-lived Melrose Place Sequel Series and Roxie Hart in Broadway and West End performances of Chicago.
    • Sinead O'Connor's performance in October 1992, in which she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II while saying "Fight the real enemy!" in reaction to the then-recent sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church, caused a massive outcry among Catholics (even Madonna, no stranger to controversy herself, thought she went beyond the pale) that greatly sapped her career momentum in the '90s. After the 1994 album Universal Mother, which was a sales disappointment, she wouldn't release another album of new material for six years. The worst part of it? ''Her "j'accuse" method was just under two decades ahead of its time.
    • Lana Del Rey's performances on the season 37 episode hosted by Daniel Radcliffe (of "Video Games" and "Blue Jeans") were expected to kill her career, but turned out to be a subversion. Many viewers were puzzled and put off by her languid musical performance and her labored singing. She seemed to mumble most of the words, was constantly out of breath, and at times it almost sounded like she didn't even know the words to her own songs. Some even theorized that the whole thing was Kristen Wiig trolling the audience with yet another wacky character, a parody of indie pop singers. The fact that Lana was already under fire for allegedly lying about her upbringing didn't help matters. Needless to say, Lana was mercilessly criticized for the performance, to the point that she was branded the worst musical guest SNL has had in recent memory. But weirdly enough, it didn't hurt her album's opening week sales in America like many thought it would. On the next live episode (hosted by Channing Tatum with musical guest Bon Iver), Kristen Wiig actually did appear as Lana Del Rey on Weekend Update to address her horrid musical performance and call out the criticisms against her (and admit that, yes, as a singer, she is stiff, distant, and weird).
  • In 2002, Jennifer Lopez released the single "Jenny from the Block" at the height of the tabloid storm surrounding her romance with Ben Affleck. The song and its accompanying video (which co-starred Affleck) attempted to reinforce her street cred as a working-class Puerto Rican girl made good, but they backfired, instead painting a picture of Lopez as an out-of-touch celebrity who had forgotten her roots and sold out. "Jenny from the block" became the defining image of Lopez, often in mockery. Although the song itself was a hit, reaching #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100, her next few albums were sales disappointments, and she largely faded from the limelight until her Career Resurrection in the early 2010s.
  • Janet Jackson, despite spending nearly twenty years as one of the biggest pop/R&B stars in the world, saw her career destroyed overnight not by a poor album or performance, but rather, by a single infamous mishap. Her Wardrobe Malfunction at the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show in 2004 saw her banned from the Grammy awards that year, and caused a massive public backlash and an FCC-led crusade against perceived immorality in the media. The aftermath of "Nipplegate" colored the reception of her album Damita Jo, which was released the following month; despite a generally positive critical reception and sales of over three million, it only reached #2 on the Billboard charts, breaking a streak of #1 albums that stretched back to Control in 1986, and its singles were blacklisted from radio and MTV. Janet released only two more albums, 20 Y.O. in 2006 and Discipline in 2008, both of which were similar disappointments; she then left her record label dissatisfied over a perceived lack of promotion for Discipline, and most of her work since has been as an actress.

Male artists (solo)

  • Peter Frampton's follow-up to his highly popular live album Frampton Comes Alive! was I'm In You, a low-key experimental funk album. Despite the title track managing to become his biggest hit (#2 on the US pop charts), the album confounded his teenybopper fans, and the combination of the album's failure and his role in the film. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (also the Creator Killer for its producer, as listed above) the next year completely obliterated his career. To add insult to injury, Frank Zappa spoofed the album with the song, I Have Been In You.
  • Despite only finishing as runner-up in The X Factor UK 2005, Andy Abraham initially had a very promising career, and his first two albums enjoyed strong sales. Unfortunately, his future was destroyed virtually overnight by his disastrous failure and last-place finish in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. Aside from the single release of his Eurovision song (which flopped so badly it didn't even get into the charts), Abraham hasn't released a single album since.
  • Ironically, despite "Rock Me Tonite" being Billy Squier's biggest hit single, the video killed his career. Kenny Ortega stepped in to direct it two weeks before it was due for a World Premiere Video on MTV; Billy was too much of a nice guy to junk an already troubled video in that time frame. Within days of people seeing the footage of him arising from satin sheets and prancing around in a pink tank top, people drew the only obvious conclusion, and he stopped selling out shows. He fired his manager and didn't release another album for two years.
  • As explained here by Todd in the Shadows, soul singer Billy Paul's career took a massive blow after his debut single "Mr. and Mrs. Jones" was followed up by "Am I Black Enough For You?". Nearly everybody on the label, including Paul himself, thought that "Black Enough" was a terrible choice for a single, and that its black nationalist themes and message would alienate mainstream white listeners and paint a picture of Paul as a Malcolm Xerox, but the head of the label loved the song and released it as his second single anyway. Sure enough, while "Black Enough" became a minor cult hit among black nationalists, Paul became remembered as a One-Hit Wonder afterwards.
  • 50 Cent's third album Curtis, particularly the media storm he built around it, ruined his career and image virtually overnight. His debut album Get Rich Or Die Tryin' is widely considered to be a Glam Rap classic, and is one of the best-selling rap albums of all time, but his sophomore album The Massacre received a very polarized reaction from both critics and fans. With people questioning his staying power, Fifty, in an attempt to build hype around Curtis, boastfully announced to the public that if Kanye West's album Graduation sold more copies than Curtis during their first week of release (both albums were deliberately released on the same day), he would officially retire from rapping. This drew the ire of many fans, who began to perceive him as an arrogant prick on top of being a mediocre talent. The fact that Fifty went back on his word when Graduation did indeed sell far more copies than Curtis was the finishing blow. His fourth album, Before I Self Destruct, was both a critical and commercial failure, and a fifth album, Street King Immortal, has been stuck in Development Hell. While Get Rich Or Die Tryin' still has many fans, Fifty himself is now seen as a joke by the rap community.
  • During the late '00s and early '10s, Justin Bieber was the biggest teen idol in the world. While he'd had his fair share of controversies, the Beliebers always stayed by his side, and it seemed like Bieber was going to mount a successful transition into an adult. Unfortunately for the Canadian teen heartthrob, a hot new boy band from the United Kingdom was starting to gain an American following. At first, it didn't seem like 1D were much of a threat — but then, once their album dropped, their popularity skyrocketed. The first signs of downfall for Bieber was when his 2012 album Believe, while still a commercial success and producing several hit singles, proved to be not as big as his prior albums had been, and more importantly underperformed 1D's Up All Night. Furthermore, he would subsequently get creamed in a series of awards ceremonies by his new rivals, ultimately leading to 1D's "Most Share-Worthy Video" victory over the Biebs. Between the rise of 1D and a litany of controversial statements and immature behavior over the course of 2013 (such as a tasteless remark about Anne Frank, a profanity-filled tirade against a paparazzo, and appearing at a show three hours late), Bieber's fanbase turned against him. The finishing blows were his 2013 album Journals, which sold so poorly that iTunes withheld the sales figures, and a concert movie in December 2013 that made only $2 million, while the British boy band's successes continued to soar. Now, Bieber is better known as a tabloid punchline than as a singer.

Producers/composers

  • The relative failure of the Ike and Tina Turner single "River Deep, Mountain High" brought producer Phil Spector's career to a standstill and was a major factor in driving him into seclusion, along with his Love It or Hate It production of Let It Be.
    • Ironically it was actually a huge success in Europe, not that this brought him much comfort.
  • At the premiere of Lily in 1977, the audience turned out in droves within just 20 minutes. Leon Kirchner never wrote another opera thereafter, although his musical career continued.
  • It wasn't so much a failure as it was long, but William Tell prevented Gioachino Rossini from composing a fortieth opera altogether.
    • Speaking of Rossini, Constantino Dall'Argine composed a Barber of Seville that failed miserably at its premiere in Bologna in 1868 — two days before Rossini's death — and destroyed his career as a composer.

Record labels

  • The pioneering New Wave label Factory Records was taken down by Yes Please!, the disastrous 1992 album by Happy Mondays which went several times overbudget and has its artists spending more time doing crack (which they decided was more addicting than heroin, an addiction which they had relocated to Barbados to kick — there was no heroin on the island, but plenty of crack) than recording any material (the first demos sent to the company didn't even have vocals since the artists forgot to write any). The failure of the album also took down Happy Mondays, who wouldn't record another album until 2007.
    • New Order's delay in following up Technique has also been cited as contributing to Factory's demise.
  • Master P and his record label No Limit's popularity declined due to a lawsuit and split from production company Beats By the Pound. These events forced the bulk of their catalog to cease production, forcing them to attempt to restart their empire from scratch.

    Pinball 
  • 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.

    Sports 

Teams

  • The Louisville Stars were taken down by the permabanning of four players in 1877 for gambling. As the St. Louis Brown Stockings had just signed two of those players, they too fell in the aftermath of the second scandal in Major League Baseball history.
  • The "death penalty" is the harshest punishment that the NCAA can inflict on a college athletics team, banning a school from competing in a sport for at least one year. As the name suggests, not only does this literally kill the team for the period of time the ban is in effect, but it is often left gutted afterwards, forced into a long rebuilding period. It is because of this harshness that the NCAA has only handed it down five times in its history:
    • The University of Kentucky was banned from competing in the 1952-53 season after it was revealed that three players on the school's basketball team had been gambling on games during the '48-49 season. Further investigation revealed that ten basketball players had received "impermissible financial aid" (i.e. they were being paid under the table), and that a number of them were ineligible to play. The NCAA went so far as to extend the death penalty to the school's entire athletics department, not just the basketball team, finding that university officials had willfully ignored what was happening and that the problems were much greater than one team.
    • The University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) basketball team was found guilty of more than 125 violations in 1973, most of them revolving around various perks given to players, including money, gas cards, clothing, being allowed to borrow coaches' and boosters' cars, and in the most egregious case, forging one player's high school transcript. Not only were the Ragin' Cajuns banned from the 1973-74 and '74-75 seasons, but their '72 and '73 tournament appearances were scrubbed from the books and the school was stripped of NCAA voting privileges for four years; some recommended kicking USL out of the NCAA altogether, but this didn't happen.
    • In 1986, the Southern Methodist University football team was hit with what remains known as the harshest punishment ever inflicted by the NCAA. The team had already been put on three-year probation in 1985 for recruiting violations, the seventh time this had happened (and the fifth time since 1974), and the following year, it was discovered that the team was still paying players through a slush fund set up by a booster. The NCAA canceled the Mustangs' 1987 season and all of its 1988 home gamesnote , banned it from bowl games and television until 1989, forced it to cut its assistant coaching staff from nine people to five, barred it from off-campus recruiting until 1988, and cut 55 scholarship positions from SMU over the next four years. The Mustangs' once-storied football program took over twenty years to recover, and the entire Southwest Conference (a former powerhouse that had already been tarnished by other scandals) was left devastated by the collapse of one of its biggest teams, eventually folding in 1996.

      The crippling effects the death penalty had on both SMU and the Southwest Conference are the reason why the NCAA has since become very reluctant to hand out such stiff punishments. To this day, the rampant infractions committed by SMU football are considered the baseline for what is deserving of the death penalty. It is for this reason why the NCAA didn't issue the death penalty to Baylor University's men's basketball team in 2005, despite violations just as bad as SMU football, as they felt that Baylor, unlike SMU, had at least taken action to crack down on it.
    • In 2003, Morehouse College's soccer team was banned from play until 2006 when they were caught having signed two Nigerian-born players who were clearly ineligible to play, given that they had played professionally for a minor-league team in the past and had obvious red flags in their applications. On top of that, the two also played in games for Morehouse before they were actually enrolled. Morehouse actually canceled the soccer team's season itself after it found out (and has since stuck to intramural play), but the NCAA extended the school's self-imposed death penalty by two years due to how serious the infractions were.
    • The MacMurray College tennis program was shut down for the 2005-06 and '06-07 seasons, with a ban on postseason play running through 2009, after a part-time coach and his father arranged for $126,000 worth of grants for ten players from foreign countries. MacMurray is a Division III school, which are not allowed to grant athletic scholarships; the fact that the head of the athletic department outright criticized that rule during the hearings on the matter was a factor in why the NCAA cracked down so hard. The MacMurray tennis program has remained shut down since.

Coaches

  • The Tennessee Volunteers football team has had a history of them recently:
    • Johnny Majors was bought out after losing to Arkansas, Alabama, and South Carolina in three straight games in October 1992. He actually resigned before the Vols were to play in that year's bowl game, though he did complete the regular season.
    • Phillip Fulmer survived one losing season in 2005, but another trio of consecutive losses late in 2008, capped off by a homecoming loss against Wyoming, proved to be too much for him, and he stepped down as head coach that year, but not before winning the last game of the season, the 2008 Battle of the Barrel, against Kentucky.
    • Derek Dooley was fired after three seasons, each a losing season, as head coach, the last straw being a Curb-Stomp Battle at the hands of their rivals at Vanderbilt, 18-41. Unlike the above two coaches, Dooley didn't even make it to the end of the regular season. It didn't help that the loss against Vandy was another homecoming game.
  • George Seifert, winner of five combined Super Bowls as a coach for the San Francisco 49ers note , went to Carolina in 1999 after the Panthers fired Dom Capers. While he did go 8-8 and 7-9 in his first two years, it was 2001 that did him in. That year, the Panthers went 1-15, losing 15 straight. He has not been in a head coaching position since. To add insult to injury, that 2001 season may keep Seifert out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  • Show-cause penalties are to NCAA coaches as death penalties are to NCAA teams; however, this is handed down more often. Many who have been hit with a show-cause penalty haven't had a coaching job since; the few exceptions are Todd Bozeman (currently the head coach for the Morgan State Bears, and one of only two DI men's basketball head coaches to receive another NCAA head coaching job afterwards), Kelvin Sampson (now an NBA assistant coach, initially for the Milwaukee Bucks and currently the Houston Rockets), Rob Senderoff (who remained at Kent State throughout the show-cause and is the only person to become a head coach during his show-cause penalty), Bruce Pearl (currently the head coach for the Auburn Tigers), Brad Greenberg (who went international as an assistant coach for the Venezuela national team), and Chip Kelly (who is the current head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles). On a side note, Sampson and another former NCAA basketball coach under a show-cause penalty, Dave Bliss, competed against each other in the Oklahoma Alumni Legends Game which was held on August 27, 2011. The game was decided via sudden death overtime.

Players

  • Bobby Unser's racing career came to an end shortly after the controversial Indy 500 where he was temporarily stripped of his win over an incident involving a caution flag. His retirement has been blamed on the negative commercial impact that followed the incident.

    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.

    Theater 
  • 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.

    Video Games 

Activision

  • After a steady string of hits with its Project Gotham Racing series, the disappointing sales figures of blur and then their attempt at a James Bond game, Blood Stone: 007, killed Bizarre Creations outright. Dissing Mario Kart in the former's TV commercial certainly didn't help matters.
  • The Interactive Fiction producer Infocom attempted to branch out into new fields with its relational database program Cornerstone. (Indeed, the whole original plan was to just use the games as a stepping-stone to more profitable business software.) Although Cornerstone received good reviews, it was an expensive flop, and helped lead to Infocom being sold to Activision, whose mismanagement quickly finished running the company into the ground.
  • Prototype 2 sold below expectations against both its rival inFamous 2 and its own predecessor, leading to the eventual shutdown of Radical Entertainment.
  • 007 Legends was critically panned and sold poorly eventually leading the last 007 game developer for Activision, Eurocom, to collapse out of game development entirely after 25 years. Due to the failure of 007 Legends, Activision has pulled it and older 007 games from various online stores (including their own and Steam) sparking rumors Activision may no longer have the 007 game license.
  • Troika Games was already showing signs of trouble even before the release of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. The game used the new-and-powerful-at-the-time Source Engine, but were contractually obligated to withhold the game's release until Half-Life 2 was released. Once the game was finally released, it quickly became apparent that the game was positively riddled with Game Breaking Bugs (leading one to wonder why Troika didn't use the delay time to bug fix), leading to the players having to make patches to fix things. As should be expected, the final sales total for Bloodlines was lukewarm at best, forcing Troika to file for bankruptcy in early 2005.
  • Their milking of the Guitar Hero brand almost brought Neversoft under. At first, it was with the Tony Hawk games, which had one release per year since the 1999 original all the way to Proving Ground (which came out in 2007); but then, Activision found a new Cash Cow Franchise and handed it to Neversoft, with whom they would proceed to pretty much milk the cow dry. The oversaturation of the music game market, coupled with the lukewarm reception to GH Van Halen and Warriors of Rock (which was better received by comparison, but not a runaway hit like the first entries of the series) ended up costing them more money than they bargained for, resulting in losses for Activision, several Neversoft employees being laid off and Guitar Hero dying as a franchise. To make matters worse, Budcat Creations (which converted the series' games to Playstation 2) went under at about the same time, and the only thing Neversoft's done since then was the Alien Invasion game mode for Call of Duty: Ghosts.

Capcom

  • The near-simultaneous combination of so-so sales for Ōkami and the complete bomb of God Hand led Capcom to close Clover Studios shortly after their release.
  • Capcom Production Studio 8, the American studio behind the Maximo titles, was disbanded after the flop of Final Fight: Streetwise.

Disney

  • Disney has had a rather bad history of video game companies shutting down under their watch:
    • Executive Meddling forced the closure of Black Rock Studios despite the positive reception of Split Second.
    • Junction Point Studio, developer of Epic Mickey and Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, closed due to the commercial failure of the latter. Warren Spector had previously said a third Epic Mickey would be doubtful, especially given Disney's shift in its gaming sector strategy from console to mobile games.
    • Just months after acquiring LucasArts in its multi-million dollar deal with Lucasfilm, Disney disintegrated that company as well, and all of LucasArts' works in progress were immediately cancelled. It probably didn't help that the company's last release before being shut down was the horribly received Kinect Star Wars. Unfortunately, this also meant that the highly-anticipated Star Wars 1313 was given the axe as well.

Electronic Arts

  • Ultima IX basically destroyed Origin Systems. Electronic Arts dropped all support for it during production and still demanded they release the extremely buggy version on time, then they cancelled all of Origin's future projects when the game bombed, eventually causing Richard Garriott to leave the company. EA shut down Origin in 2004.
  • The modest reception given to Command & Conquer: Renegade resulted in the termination of Westwood Studios, and the rest of the C&C series going to EA's Los Angeles office; the last C&C game developed by any member of the original Westwood team was Command & Conquer: Generals.
    • The Los Angeles office (renamed Danger Close Studios and assigned with developing games for the Medal of Honor revival series) was itself shut down after the flop of Medal of Honor: Warfighter.
  • Victory Games was set up by EA in 2010 to handle production of the C&C reboot (originally the sequel to Generals). A year after its formation, the studio rebranded itself as Bioware Victory, but changed it back a year later. The development of C&C caused intensely-negative reaction when it was revealed that the game would use a free-to-play model, and wouldn't feature a single-player storyline, instead focusing on an economy-based multiplayer experience. EA President Frank Gibeau ended up apologizing to fans for the whole debacle, and things seemed to be progressing. However, a year later, the project was cancelled and the studio was closed, with its marketing manager writing in an open letter that the intensely-negative feedback over the alpha version convinced them that they weren't making something that people wanted to play.
  • Acclaimed Need for Speed and Skate developer EA Black Box was shut down in 2013 after Need for Speed: The Run underwhelmed critics and players alike. Black Box made the well-liked early 2000s installments of the Need for Speed series (Hot Pursuit 2 PS2, the Underground series, and Most Wanted in particular) but after Need for Speed Carbon they've slowly been slipping into mediocrity. Skate was left an Orphaned Series‎ while Need for Speed was handed to Ghost Games (which itself is the result of Criterion Games and EA Gothenburg merging.)
  • While The Saboteur was the last game of Pandemic Studios, it was the abysmal Development Hell for the eventually cancelled The Dark Knight tie-in game that pushed EA to shut down the studio.
  • The Def Jam Series of fighting games started with two surprise hits, but Def Jam Icon failed to match either game's success, leading to the demise of EA's Chicago studio.

Sega

  • The Sega Dreamcast Killer App Shenmue, while well received, was so much of a Sunk Cost Fallacy that it served as a significant contributor to Sega leaving the hardware business. The game's development cost so much that every Dreamcast owner would have had to buy the game twice in order to recoup the budget (which is reported to be around $47-$70 million dollars in total - at the time it was released, it could have been the most expensive game ever made). The commercial failure of this game, plus the existing debt that Sega had piled up from their slew of failed hardware in The Nineties, led to the end of Sega consoles, with the Sega Dreamcast becoming the last Sega home console. What was left of the old Sega survived as an independent third-party developer for a while, before Sammy Corporation hammered the final nail into its coffin by acquiring and subsequently "retooling" the company.
    • Yu Suzuki also did not escape Shenmue's aftermath unscathed. The man who created several of Sega's most iconic arcade franchises (OutRun, Virtua Fighter, et al.) quietly slid into obscurity afterward. He originally envisioned Shenmue as a fifteen-part series; ambitious if not wildly unsustainable!
  • Comix Zone and Kid Chameleon developer Sega Technical Institute disbanded after the cancellation of the Troubled Production that was Sonic X-treme.
  • The negative reception to Golden Axe: Beast Rider and the Iron Man movie tie-in games were the main cause of death for Sega Studios San Francisco.

THQ

  • While Paradigm Entertainment's Stuntman: Ignition was by no means a flop (the game was one of THQ's top-selling titles during in 4Q 2007), THQ's financial losses due to it not meeting their sales forecast prompted them to shut the studio down without warning.
  • Despite Homefront selling over a million units in one week, Kaos Studios was shuttered in 2011 due to the high cost of running a studio in New York. The mixed reviews of the game and subsequent drop in THQ stock may also have been contributing factors. Though on the plus side, Crytek now owns the IP and is developing a sequel via its UK division.
  • THQ's own fall into bankruptcy started with the uDraw GameTablet accessory, which was developed for the Nintendo Wii and released in 2010 to modest success, leading to an "HD" version of it being brought to the Playstation 3 and XBox 360 a year later. These versions were poorly received and abysmal sales caused their net income to drastically take a nosedive. There were other reasons as well, including the Ultimate Fighting Championship video game rights being sold to Electronic Arts and the underperformance of Darksiders II, which sold only 1.4 million copies and failed to turn a profit for THQ.

Other Companies

  • Daikatana didn't make anyone John Romero's bitch as he wanted to; it made Romero its own bitch and took his fame and career down with it.
    • Some would say it also made Ion Storm its bitch, but the RTS Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3 is perhaps the bigger culprit. Not only was it a huge flop on its own, but the internal squabbling its development caused at Ion Storm was partially responsible for turning Daikatana into what it is, mostly thanks to how Ion Storm wanted to get Dominion out of the door as soon as possible so they could have some more cash for Daikatana.
    • That said, after Daikatana, Romero floundered for awhile before coming back with a social games company that has seen moderate success and a much more older, wiser, and mature Romero.
  • Another former id Software employee, American McGee (who started out as a level designer for Doom and Quake and had his first big post-id hit with American McGee's Alice), took a big hit from the failure that was Bad Day LA. While his career has yet to return to the highs of Doom, Quake and Alice (his plans for an adaptation of the Land of Oz never really took off), he was able to release a sequel to his first Alice game, and like Romero, formed his own social games company.
  • The twin flops of BMX XXX and Turok Evolution killed Acclaim in 2004. The former in particular not only garnered a lot of negative controversy due to its attempt at using sexual content to sell copies, but it angered Dave Mirra enough to sue them because he didn't want his name associated with it (it was originally an installment in the Dave Mirra BMX series, and Acclaim continued using his name on advertisements even after he asked them not to). The company was briefly revived a two years later on a smaller scale and In Name Only, eventually getting bought out by Playdom in May 2010. This transaction sealed the fate of the new Acclaim, for Playdom was then bought out by Disney in July 2010; as one could ascertain from the pattern in the Disney video game section above, the Mouse House immediately proceeded to close Acclaim — but this time, the Acclaim name would become dead forever.
  • Duke Nukem Forever killed 3D Realms and destroyed George Broussard's reputation without even being made... or more accurately, by not being made. And just to twist the knife, after 3D Realms imploded, the game was handed to Gearbox Software by 2K Games, who finished it in one year (Broussard and 3D Realms worked on it for twelve). According to Word of God, the game was already pretty much finished, and Broussard's perfectionism and the Take-Two lawsuit kept it from coming out. Gearbox just basically put the finishing touches.
  • Haze and Lair were two high-profile PlayStation 3 flops which bankrupted their respective developers, Free Radical and Factor 5. Free Radical managed to hold off a more permanent demise by selling themselves to Crytek and becoming Crytek UK, but Factor 5 wasn't as lucky (the CEO liquidated all of the studio's assets and officially closed up shop in January 2011).
  • The failure of Fury, an MMORPG designed by Australian company Auran nearly brought down the entire company, and it forced them out of game development. They are now an extremely limited train simulator developer.
  • Famously in the UK (thanks to coverage from The BBC), in 1983 the development of the "mega-games" Psyclapse and Bandersnatch brought down Imagine Software, one of the biggest and most successful software companies of the day. It was compounded by how the company was spending silly money on advertising, bad investments and badly-thought-out attempts to outwit their rivals by buying up all available duplicating capacity.
    • Former employee Bruce Everiss, upon becoming an Orwellian Editor, would rather make you think piracy killed Imagine instead of incompetence (in spite of having acknowledged the true causes of its downfall himself in 1984). Trying to hide from your shames?
  • The hugely expensive but poorly received Shadowrun Xbox 360 game took out FASA Interactive in a matter of months, dashing hopes for a much-anticipated Mechwarrior sequelnote . Supposedly Microsoft sold the rights back to one of the founders for a ridiculously low price just to wash their hands of the matter.
    • Said rumour turned out to be true and MechWarrior Online was born. However, unexpectedly, it's coming out in a year where no less than four other mech games are to be launched, at least one of which is a free-to-play MMO as well...
  • The Virtual Boy did this to Gunpei Yokoi, whose failure resulted into him being Kicked Upstairs and resigning from Nintendo before his death.
    • Taken literally in a 2003 GameSpy article listing the 25 dumbest moments in gaming history - when they mention the Virtual Boy, at least one of the writers is of the impression that had it not flopped, Yokoi would have still been alive by the time the article was posted.
    "So, the Virtual Boy is not only a misbegotten mess of a game machine, it's a vicious and diabolical little thing that helped rob the world of the creator of Metroid and Kid Icarus. I mean, Jaguar sucked, but at least it didn't kill people."
  • Poor sales of both the Terminator Salvation tie-in game and Bionic Commando 2009 led to Square Enix doing what can only be described as death-by-trolling on GRIN's Final Fantasy XII spin-off project Fortress, killing the entire company.
  • After the abysmal flop of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, Eidos made it so Core Design couldn't do any more Tomb Raider games. Core would struggle with a few mediocre handheld games before being sold off to Rebellion and rebranded as "Rebellion Derby", and then were promptly taken down after the release of the critically-savaged Rogue Warrior.
  • The piss-poor Empire Earth 3 led to not only the death of the franchise, but also Mad Doc Studios.
  • Losses from the critically-panned All Points Bulletin killed Crackdown developer Realtime Worlds. They sank a lot of money in the long development phase but in the end, they had to release the game in hope to recoup the losses. Unfortunately, it was still in a messy state and rather accelerated their downfall — the servers were shut down less than ten weeks after the launch, a sad new record for an MMO.
    • Although its original incarnation died a quick death, APB was successfully revived as a free-to-play title, with the rights being picked up by GamersFirst and the game rebranded as "APB Reloaded". To put RTW's downfall in perspective: the initial incarnation of the game cost $120 million to develop, but GamersFirst was able to secure the rights to the property for a mere $2 million, allowing them to easily make Reloaded profitable.
  • Tomba! and its sequel Tomba 2: The Evil Swine Return performed well enough to develop a cult following, but they sold so poorly that their developer, Whoopee Camp, never made another game.
  • Atari struggled for years in the wake of The Great Video Game Crash of 1983, having released no less than three disastrous game systems in a row with the 5200, the 7800, and the handheld Lynx, but it was the Atari Jaguar that finally did them in. The combination of an incredibly difficult-to-develop-for architecture, shoddy build quality, an archaic controller design, and the inertia enjoyed by Nintendo and Sega doomed the Jaguar to ultimate failure, and it turned out to be the straw that finally broke Atari's back. You may still see the Atari name today, but that's just for marketing purposes — Atari Corporation died with the Jaguar, and the name was bought by French publisher Infogrames as part of a push into the worldwide market.
    • The new Atari's US branch have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in hopes of separating from their French parent in a revival attempt to be its own company again. Should it succeed, Atari plans to seek investments to grow in mobile and digital gaming markets in not just licensing Atari properties, but developing them as well.
  • The failure of Tabula Rasa pretty much ended the video game career of Richard Garriott, or, at the very least, robbed him of the "Lord British" mystique. On the other hand, the $28 million he received in his lawsuit from NC Soft, the profits he made from City of Heroes, and the fact that Tabula Rasa allowed him to take a flight to the Space Station probably takes the sting out of it.
  • The Amiga CD32 was planned for American release by Commodore, but a patent dispute got in the way, and the company eventually filed for bankruptcy several months later, in part due to the lost (by law) sales.
  • Hellgate: London pretty much ended the career of Bill Roper as a front line creator/big name. He's still doing quite well as an executive.
  • Despite winning critical acclaim and millions of sales, L.A. Noire killed developer Team Bondi. The excruciatingly long development (publisher Rockstar Games eventually had to bring in their other studios to help finish it), coupled with employees furious about borderline-sweatshop working conditions and not being named in the credits, soured their relationship with Rockstar and killed any chance of them finding another publisher. Shortly there after, the studio itself imploded due to various reactions to Brendan McNamara's behavior over the development cycle. He was the studio head/co-founder and, if even some of the reports are to be believed, the epitome of Executive Meddling and Small Name, Big Ego.
  • Kingdoms Of Amalur Reckoning was a modest hit for 38 Studios and Big Huge Games, selling just over 1 million copies since its release in February 2012, but financial troubles meant they had to ship three million copies in order to cover development and loan costs. As a result, 38 and BHG laid off their entire staff a few months after the game's release, effectively dissolving both companies and killing a planned Amalur-based MMORPG (codenamed Copernicus) in its cradle.
  • Advent Rising killed GlyphX Games, the game-making subsidiary of the graphic designer studio GlyphX Inc. Also an example of Stillborn Franchise.
  • Silicon Knights was once renowned for its work on the Gamecube cult classic Eternal Darkness and the GC remake of Metal Gear Solid. However, once CEO Denis Dyack broke from Nintendo during the development of his other pet project, Too Human, his ego got the better of him, and Too Human and X-Men: Destiny suffered heavily as a result. These incidents, along with a comprehensive loss in a dispute with Epic Games over SK's misuse of Unreal Engine 3 techreason  ruined the studio and Dyack's reputation, as evidenced by a unsuccessful 2013 bid to secure funding for a Spiritual Sequel to Eternal Darkness from crowdfunding services such as Kickstarter.
  • As a general rule, violent video games were this back in the '80s, particularly for smaller developers. Such games as Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre were either hidden under the counters, or video game stores decided to outright refuse to sell them altogether. Add to that the presumed and understandable wariness of advertisers about carrying ads for such games, and that was the story of Wizard Video's stillborn video game division.
  • nStigate Games (formerly Nihilistic Software) saw its future in big-time console and handheld game development come to an end after two weak 2012 PlayStation Vita releases in Resistance: Burning Skies and Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified (in a telling move, the company announced the name change and their intention to abandon consoles for mobile gaming less than one month before Declassified's release, when the negative reviews started pouring in).
  • The original Rare, following its sale to Microsoft, had suffered a loss of critical favor they built in the 90s, compounded by poor sales of their Xbox games in comparison to their Nintendo games and veteran employees leaving the company to greener pastures. But Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts was inarguably the final straw for what remained of the company. Despite gaining a positive reception from reviewers, the game polarized fans with its Unexpected Gameplay Change from a platformer based on collecting items to a platformer based on building and using vehicles, and sold poorly as a result. As a result, all of Rare's franchises that had sequels in development (Banjo, Conker, Killer Instinct, and Kameo being a few examples) saw them cancelled by Microsoft. The company has since been restructured to exclusively making Kinect Sports games and has started seeing its franchises farmed out to other developers, with hardly anyone that was a member of the staff in its heyday still working at the company.
  • The final demise of X-Nauts (not to be confused with the villains of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door), the successor company to the bankrupt Psikyo, can be blamed on the failure of Sengoku Cannon: Sengoku Ace Episode III, their last game not counting strip mahjong.
  • Cinemaware Corporation went bankrupt when the Full Motion Video remake of It Came From The Desert for the TurboGrafx-CD went way over budget. While NEC's stake in the company helped ensure that the game was released, it would be many years before Cinemaware would be revived as an essentially new company.
  • Months after NieR was released to underwhelming reception, its developer Cavia closed and was absorbed into AQ Interactivenote .
  • Cing, developer of adventure games such as Trace Memory and Hotel Dusk: Room 215 for the DS, declared bankrupcy less than a year after the commercial failure of their Wii game Little Kings Story, which was intended to be their big breakthrough on consoles.
  • Indie Built, known for the Tex Murphy detective game series and the Amped snowboarding games, became one of the first casualties of the seventh console generation, shutting its doors in April 2006, a few months after Amped 3 severely underperformed.
  • Blue Omega Entertainment, a small film company from Maryland, was dismantled just one month after Damnation (their only video game release) flopped with critics.
  • The Bureau: XCOM Declassified was a Troubled Production from the very start, and had little chance of breaking out from the shadow of the well-received XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Its relative failure is blamed for the shuttering of 2K Games' Marin County studio.
  • While the Aliens Colonial Marines debacle did a lot of damage to TimeGate Studios' reputation, it was actually the loss of a bankruptcy dispute with Section 8 publisher SouthPeak Games that ultimately did them in.
  • Terminal Reality, a developer best known for Nocturne, the first two BloodRayne games, and Ghostbusters: The Video Game, closed its doors in December 2013 with its last game being the critically panned The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct.
  • State of Emergency 2 killed both of its developers - VIS Entertainment went bankrupt in the middle of production, and DC Studios, the company that stepped in to complete the game in the wake of VIS' closure, was shut down as a direct result of the game's resulting flop at retail.
  • Tranji Studios only had one title to its name—the Tenchu-like Red Ninja End Of Honor, which flopped both critically and commercially. Tranji disappeared not too long afterward.
  • Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror was the last game released by Micro Power. The expense of developing a game bigger than any of Micro Power's previous titles across four platforms (including the never-finished ZX Spectrum version), combined with the costs of licensing Doctor Who and producing the special memory cartridge required by the BBC Micro version surely contributed to the company's demise.

    Western Animation 
  • After the failure 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), as well as obvious that the previous owners of The Ren & Stimpy Show (who sequestered the franchise from Kricfalusi for making it too vulgar for Nickelodeon) knew how to do it better than Kricfalusi ever did. 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.
    • The combined failures 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 their existence.
  • The Boston Bomb Scare, when some Boston police thought that guerilla marketing LEDs for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie were bombs, led 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 have 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.
  • The failure of Astro Boy at the box office resulted in the shutdown of Imagi Animation Studios, including the production of a Gatchaman film in the works, as well as an Astro Boy sequel.

    Other 
Cars

The car industry has been littered with awful vehicles that either sunk the companies that made them, or came very close to doing so.

From the "Big Four" American automakers:
  • General Motors:
    • Cadillac: The luxury make has since seen its reputation as Standard of the World restored, but in the early 1980s, a series of marketing and production moves nearly permanently ruined its reputation:
      • The 1982 Cimarron, a car based off the identical Chevrolet Cavalier (and J-car stablemates at Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac) meant to cash in on the growing compact-entry level luxury car class. While not a bad car in and of itself, and certainly well appointed, the car's four-cylinder engine, high base price ($12,000, when a loaded Chevrolet Cavalier topped off at over $10,000), humble origins and underwhelming performance when compared to cars in its class badly damaged Cadillac's reputation.
      • The V8-6-4 engine, a variable displacement engine that aimed to shut off cylinders as they were unneeded in highway cruising. The engine was very novel and space age when introduced in 1981, but the technology didn't exist in the early 1980s to make it a reliable enough engine ... and it also kept many buyers away from the brand for years.
    • Chevrolet: While generally immune to the trend, there have been aversions and failures:
      • The 1980 Corvette, particularly those sold in California. Due to toughening emissions standards and to respond to the aftershocks of the 1979 fuel crisis (where gasoline approached (gasp!) an unheard of $2 per gallon in some placesnote , a detuned 305-cid V-8 engine of a mere 180 horsepower was the only model offered. (Cars sold elsewhere had the more powerful 190-horse or optional 230-horse engine.) That, the fact that only automatic transmissions were available on the California cars and other quirks (notably, the 85-mph speedometer) turned off purists ... despite the car's continued success.
      • The 1991 Caprice. The end of the traditional full-sized rear-wheel drive car was due to styling that was poorly received (although it should be noted that the 1992 Ford Crown Victoria was well praised despite very similar styling), but moreso due to the growing market share held by sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks, which by the early 1990s were no longer seen as utilitarian vehicles but, with the right options, trim and other choices, could also serve as both a utility and family vehicle.
    • Oldsmobile:
      • The 1988 Cutlass Supreme, based off GM's front-wheel-drive W-platform. While praised by critics and is generally seen as a good car in its own right, it was a sales disaster that tanked Oldsmobile's market share. In an attempt to draw in younger buyers, the car was marketed as a sporty coupe for the "next generation". its small size and sporty nature made it unappealing to the traditional Oldsmobile buyer, while younger buyers were put off by its high price, the perception of Oldsmobile as an "old person's car" and generally didn't find it appealing, being that it was designed for middle-aged buyers. In addition, it being marketed as a performance car, even coming with a high-performance "International" model, caused it to compete with comparable models from Pontiac (long GM's "performance" brand) and Chevrolet (which had a series of sporty "import fighters" like the Beretta). General Motors was effectively competing with itself by courting the same buyer with three different brands, one of which had long been aimed at precisely the opposite buyer for decades. Needless to say, sales of the W-body Cutlass was less than half of the outgoing model, which was the bestselling car in America well throughout The Eighties. The W-body Cutlass Supreme can be considered "The car that killed Oldsmobile".
      • The "The New Generation of Olds" campaign used to launch the 1988 Cutlass, which included the line "This Is Not Your Father's Oldsmobile" and the children of celebrities pitching the car, was a disaster, driving away its core audience (the conservative, middle-aged to older buyer) while failing to bring younger buyers into the brand's fold, whom found the cars unappealing and unaffordable. The W-body Cutlass model sold far less cars than expected, and by the early 1990s, sales of the Oldsmobile brand as a whole were only a tiny fraction of the blockbuster sales the brand saw before the launch of the campaign. Almost overnight, Oldsmobile had lost its place in the market, and the resultant loss of volume and market share caused major financial losses for parent company General Motors. GM quickly slammed Oldsmobile's marketing in reverse to win back displaced buyers during The Nineties to little success; In 2000, GM announced the brand's dissolution. Today, the campaign is regularly taught by business schools as a spectacular failure in brand management.
        Today, the W-body Cutlass Supremes are undesired and practically valueless (with the convertible model being an exception), while the older, larger, rear-wheel-drive models, seen as "proper" Oldsmobiles, are appreciating in value and are considered classics.
    • Pontiac:
      • The Aztek was indirectly responsible for the Pontiac brand being shuttered by General Motors in 2010. While those who actually bought it gave it some of the highest satisfaction scores in its class, its... distinctive appearance meant that it frequently topped lists of the ugliest vehicles ever made, and was commonly nicknamed the "Asstek". It is generally seen as the "point of no return" where Pontiac lost its credibility as a performance vehicle brand (which had already been slipping since The Eighties) and became a parody of itself. While Pontiac would try to Win Back The Crowd with proper performance vehicles such as the GTO and G8 (which were badge-engineered Australian imports), it was too little, too late.

        The Aztek has, however, been somewhat Vindicated by History thanks to the TV series Breaking Bad. Similar to how Back to the Future turned the DeLorean from a Butt Monkey flop into one of the most iconic cars of its era, Breaking Bad has ignited a new wave of interest and enthusiasm for the Aztek due to the public's new association of it with the show's anti-hero protagonist, Walter White. Furthermore, it was ahead of its time in several ways, serving as an early example of the compact "crossover utility vehicle" that, less than ten years later, would largely usurp the mammoth SUVs that dominated the market during the years when the Aztek was in production.
      • On top of the Aztek, Pontiac also had the problem of having one of the worst dealership networks in the country towards the end of its life. Pontiac dealers were notorious for poor service and pushy sales tactics, to the point where it's been argued that the reason why the aforementioned GTO and G8 flopped in spite of rave reviews was because car buyers didn't want to deal with Pontiac dealerships.
    • Saturn:
      • The ION, which was critically panned and much less popular that the Saturn S-series economy cars that it replaced, is considered to be mainly responsible for the Saturn brand's dissolution in 2010 as well. While subsequent, more "upmarket" vehicles such as the Saturn Aura would be praised, they made the brand redundant and an easy causality during GM's bankruptcy restructuring.
  • Chrysler Corporation: The No. 3 automaker has had its series of major failures, and while the company was able to stay afloat in some cases, in one case an entire marque was done away with:
    • The 1976 Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare had tremendous reliability and recall problems when first introduced — including notorious rustproofing problems — so much to the point that the costs Chrysler faced servicing the vehicles under warranty were a major factor in its near stint with bankruptcy during the late 1970s/early 1980s.
    • The third-generation Chrysler Sebring turned Chrysler into a joke during the late 2000s and all but destroyed the company's reputation, of which it is still trying to recover. While marketed as a luxury sedan with the most loaded models costing close to $40,000, odd styling (One reviewer called the Sebring "an art-deco mess") and how the Sebring's performance, ride, and build and material quality were below that of vehicles that cost half as much made it a universally panned bust. When Chrysler went asking for a government bailout during 2008, many commentators and opponents brought up the Sebring to dispute Chrysler's claims that the global financial crisis was the source of the company's cash crunch. While most of Chrysler's product lineup at the time was uncompetitive, the Sebring was the most prominent due to how spectacularly underwhelming it was considering its price, and given that Chrysler had the far superior full-size 300 in its lineup right next to it. The Sebring is almost universally considered to be one of the worst cars made in recent memory, and even Chrysler enthusiasts will admit that it is a terrible car (though there exists a vocal minority that defends it).

      Chrysler's new owners at Fiat gave the fourth-generation Sebring performance, styling, handling, comfort, and build and material quality upgrades that addressed many of its shortcomings, lowered its price and renamed it the Chrysler 200. While still not a world beater, the 200 is a reasonably decent car that is much more popular and held in much higher regard than the Sebring and is helping to rebuild the brand image the Sebring destroyed. The Sebring/200 thus hold the interesting distinction of the same car both playing this trope straight and subverting it.
  • Ford Motor Co.: was luckier than most when it came to its failed cars, but several brands weren't immune to the Creator Killer phenomenon:
    • Believe it or not, the Model T almost became this for the Ford Motor Company. As the Model T aged and GM and Chrysler introduced more modern, stylish, innovative, and luxurious vehicles, Henry Ford and the company's management refused to break away from the company's original mission of building cheap, utilitarian vehicles, costing Ford a lot of market share. in 1927, Ford would eventually cave and replace the Model T with the Model A, a much more modern, powerful, stylish and luxurious vehicle that was on par with the competitors that were ravaging the Model T. It would go on to become a best seller and turn around the company's fortunes.
    • While Ford was able recover from the Edsel, it was the car itself that became synonymous with failure in the auto industry. Unconventional styling (although Pontiac did have horse-collar grilles on its 1960s models) and quite simply a car that was introduced at the wrong time spelled this car's fate.
  • American Motors (and its precursors): The smallest of the Big Four, American Motors was formed by a merger of smaller automakers trying to stay in business against Ford, GM, and Chrysler. It worked for a time, but by The Eighties the company had fallen apart, with its pieces absorbed by Chrysler.
    • The 1953-54 Hudson Jet was the car that was responsible for American Motors' creation in the first place. While a good car, the compact cost so much to develop, and sold so poorly as a result of its high price, that Hudson was forced to merge with Nash and form American Motors in order to stave off bankruptcy. The Hudson nameplate disappeared three years later.
    • The 1975 Pacer was the point at which American Motors' fate was sealed. Its subpar fuel economy for a compact car, its... unconventional styling, and a Troubled Production that saw GM canceling the rotary engine project that was to power the car (it had to be hastily redesigned to fit the older, longer AMC Straight-6) all overshadowed its various innovations and doomed it at the marketplace. It's a classic now, but a Cult Classic, remembered as a symbol of '70s kitsch.

For other automakers:
  • The Rootes Group, a major British car maker, came unstuck with the Hillman Imp. It single-handedly led to the company's takeover by Chrysler and subsequent long-term decline.
  • The DeLorean Car Company. See Real Life section of The Alleged Car for more information.
  • Mitsubishi Australia had been struggling in the Australian car market for years, and pinned its last-ditch hopes on the 380 model introduced in 2005. Instead, sales fell short of expectations, and Mitsubishi ended up closing down all of its Australian factories for good.
  • At its height, luxury brand Packard was more prestigious than Cadillac, but entered a period of slow decline in the 1950s. The 1957-58 "Packardbakers," thinly-disguised Studebakers which came nowhere close to meeting established Packard standards, killed the nameplate off for good.
  • The edgy, polarizing styling of the 1937 "Spirit of Motion" sedan—more commonly referred to as the "Sharknose"—led to devastating financial losses which caused the Graham-Paige Motors Corporation to, as they say, "jump the shark."

Wrestling
  • The infamous "Fingerpoke Of Doom" is often cited as the beginning of the end for WCW. If it wasn't this, then David Arquette's ill-fated world title run did it for sure.

Electronics
  • 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.

Cameras
  • It is unknown what caused Panavision's downward spiral and possible coming demise, but at least three events can be considered responsible:
    • Their Toronto office in the '90s charged for rentals in US dollars when just one of those was worth 40 cents more in Canadian money. What was supposed to be an attempt to service American productions ended up driving the locals to local competitors.
    • The arrival of Ronald Perelman as their owner. Under him, shares dropped like hot potatoes, and when he took it private, blank went its financial record to many eyes. Only in 2010 was Perelman ousted.
    • George Lucas had a very hard time with their first attempt at a digital camera, a collaboration with Sony, for Attack of the Clones and ended up using a purely Sony camera for his next effort, Revenge of the Sith. It doesn't help that Panavision's next digital camera, the Genesis, is also one of its last to date, though they're trying to rebound with a new digital 70mm camera.

Clothing
  • In a 2006 interview, Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries said that they don't allow "fat" and "uncool" people to work in A&F stores and wear their clothes, in which L is the highest size they make. When the comments resurfaced in May 2013, that statement pretty much turned the brand's name to mud overnight.

Publishers
  • 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.

Home Appliances
  • 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.


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