Critical Dissonance

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‘Well, I liked it.’

“This is just how the film industry works nowadays; critics give bad opinions, the public usually has a differing opinion, and all is well in the world of Hollywood since the studios made their millions anyway.”

Critical Dissonance is polar opposition of public to critical opinion. Critics might love a certain work while general audiences shun it, or vice versa.

Critics may look down on a popular work on principle, denouncing it as Lowest Common Denominator garbage that’s all flash and no substance. Conversely, the public may see a work beloved by the critics as boring, angsty and pretentious drivel engineered solely to win awards from equally boring, angsty and pretentious Academy members.

Sometimes later opinions can match, and then we have Vindicated by History (or Deader Than Disco, as the case may be), but not always.

Some media are less affected by this than others. Since comedy relies on what an individual finds funny, this is the genre of movie most likely to spur on Critical Dissonance. One critic may find a movie hilarious while another finds it tacky. Switch out comedy for the horror genre and you get the same polarizing results. Art — all kinds, not just abstract — is notoriously subject to this. And architects get hit with it all the time.

In general, this trope has historically been uncommon with video games, partly due to the far greater reliance on reviews among gamers, and partly because the technical side (gameplay, graphics, etc.) tends to carry more weight with games than with books or TV. Additionally, good gameplay (at least in terms of, say, lacking glitches) is much more black-and-white than a good story, writing, or acting. However, video-game journalism is infamous for its frightening degree of corruption, to the point where reviewers who don’t sufficiently praise games that buy enough advertising space on their stomping grounds tend to get fired pretty quickly. When Critical Dissonance does occur with games, it is more often than not because gamers thought that the critics had been overly kind (like the Four Point Scale), or had even been paid upfront by the publishers as part of an advertising and/or first-look article special.

Niche media may particularly suffer this because some or all of the critics assigned to review it aren’t members of its target demographic, or don’t even have a basic knowledge of the genre. To look at it another way, if the business model involves an audience who will actively seek it out, those people will be predisposed to enjoy it, whereas critics who see it out of professional necessity will not have that selection bias.

Telltale signs of Critical Dissonance include disagreement between a work’s revenue and its reviews, simultaneous nominations for both ‘best X’ and ‘worst Y’ awards (bonus points if X=Y), and angry comments on those review sites that have them.

That the main differences between the average audience viewer and the average critic are vocabulary, sometimes ego, and employment in the field of journalism is what makes the large contrast between viewpoints either fascinating or predictable, depending on your degree of cynicism.

See also Critical Backlash, Critic-Proof, Bias Steamroller, It's Popular, Now It Sucks, Opinion Myopia, 8.8 and Oscar Bait. Could overlap with Pop-Culture Isolation and Acclaimed Flop. Contrast with Cult Classic where a work tends to have neither critical acclaim nor general popularity, but is enjoyed by a few die-hard fans. Possibly the cause of Mainstream Obscurity.

Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Black Bird is one of the bestselling shoujo manga in years, yet most mainstream anime/manga reviewers have given it lukewarm to negative reviews (with some even being openly disgusted by it).
  • Hot Gimmick has received mixed/poor reviews. Despite this, it has sold well as it had a twelve-volume run. In some circles, however, saying you’re a fan of Hot Gimmick will get you very dirty looks.
  • Naruto: Among casual manga/anime fans and the general public, it’s a merchandising juggernaut with a massive and rabid fanbase. On the critical side of things, it’s generally treated as a fairly average Shounen at best, and in more serious circles, saying ‘I like Naruto’ is synonymous with ‘I am a twelve-year-old boy who has never watched anything else in his life.’
  • Pokémon:
    • The movies have all been critically panned in the U.S. However, they are generally considered good with both audiences and fan of Pokémon although some are considered better than others.
    • The anime series is often criticized for its Strictly Formula nature, as well as refusing to age the characters with each passing year. Yet, despite the decline in popularity it experienced in the Johto arc; it still maintains high ratings in both Japan and the U.S., and has a large and devoted fanbase.
  • All incarnations of Yu-Gi-Oh! have been huge financial successes and run for years, but many people outside the demographic consider them to be little more than Snark Bait.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has been almost unanimously positively reviewed by professional anime/manga critics, yet it's a very divisive series within the world of anime fandom.
  • Sailor Moon is a pretty popular series within the world of manga/anime fandom, mostly due to the Nostalgia Filter. If you asked a real critic what they thought about it, they'd likely call it nothing more than formulaic Magical Girl fare.

    Art 
  • Scottish painter Jack Vettriano’s work is criticized as softcore porn. Vettriano makes more money of prints of his paintings than selling the works himself. They are popular in coffee shops and Italian restaurants. Scottish sculptor David Mach has called this attitude to Vettriano’s paintings “art world snobbery”.
  • The works of the late Thomas Kinkade, “Painter of Light,”note  are so enormously successful that his distributor claims that his works can be found in one American home in twenty. Art critics lambast his Sugar Bowl themes and subjects while dishing out backhanded praise for his marketing savvy.
  • Twentieth-century Dutch illustrator Anton Pieck is very popular for painting and drawing romantic scenes of 19th-century life and fairy tales, which have been printed on countless calendars, postcards and other merchandising. But, you guessed it, average art critics regard it as petty kitsch.
  • Margaret Keane’s paintings of vulnerable angels and waifs with enormous doe-like eyes are widely reproduced and appear in a lot of households. You’ll never see her work being exhibited in a serious museum, though. In Sleeper, by intellectual darling Woody Allen, it is even joked that in the future Keane will be considered one of the greatest artists in history.
  • Hummel figurines are collectors’ items for many people who see them as adorable little statues. Among people who fancy actual art, these statues are dismissed as nauseatingly bad taste.
  • Garden gnomes are things you will never see in the gardens of people who claim to have artistic taste. All other people in the world just see it as nice.
  • The art work of Jeff Koons has tried to bridge the gap between art and kitsch, by making statues of everyday kitsch objects and exposing them in a museum. This polarized many art critics who feel it is either a postmodern subversion of kitsch, while others say it’s just the same thing.

    Comic Books 
  • Avengers Arena and its sequel Avengers Undercover. Professional reviewers loved them and praised their social satire and Anyone Can Die tone. Readers were divided at best on the former and almost entirely despised the latter, which ended up getting axed at only ten issues.
  • Daniel Way’s run on Deadpool was disliked by most professional critics and derided as dreck aimed at the Lowest Common Denominator, but managed to sell very well and is currently one of the longest runs anyone has had on the character. Over time, however, this trope seems to be subverted; fans have started to agree more with critics and now Way’s run is widely considered Deadpool’s absolute worst, its success believed to have been caused by the big publicity Deadpool had gotten in a then-recent movie.
  • Gail Simone’s The Movement was critically beloved, but readers couldn’t have cared less about it, leading to it being Cut Short just as its plot was kicking into high gear. Nowadays, it’s more or less forgotten outside of the tiny, niche fanbase it formed during its brief run.
  • The comics of Moebius are praised as high art among comic-book aficionados, yet average comic-strip readers don’t understand them.
  • Krazy Kat is widely praised as one of the best comic strips of the 20th century, yet average readers find it way too eccentric and don’t get what all the fuss is about.
  • Pogo has always been more popular with fans of good satire than regular comic fans, who would find it too pretentious.
  • Jommeke: In Flanders it’s among the most popular, best-known and top-selling comic strips, widely read among children and remembered fondly by many adults who grew up with them. Yet serious readers have always looked down upon them because it is extremely bland, formulaic, naïve and conventional. Only in the final years leading to his death did creator Jef Nys finally get some kind of serious attention and praise for his work, though the taboo still remains.
  • Underground Comics: Hugely influential on the graphic arts and fellow comic-strip artists, loved by some hippies, but apart from that most of the general audience have always looked down upon them as pure pornography or sick, twisted, female-unfriendly filth.
  • Corto Maltese is praised as one of the most important and impressive comic strips of the 20th century, yet the general public has usually not even heard of it.
  • Gary Panter is one of the most influential comic artists to have emerged since the late 1970s, but his comics don’t sell at all among regular comic book fans.
  • Many comic strips based on the popularity of a TV/movie franchise will be dismissed as utter money-grabbing garbage for children. It doesn’t help that many companies just give the job to a few amateurs and tell them to stick as closely to the general plot or spirit of the original, while they know that it will sell well regardless of its quality or lack thereof.
    • Many Disney comics are usually seen as pure children’s entertainment despite tight quality control of the company. The only one to get some praise by critics and audience alike is Carl Barks, whose Donald Duck adaptations not only expanded the universe, but also enriched it with clever satire, engaging storylines, memorable characters and well-told moral life lessons.
    • Urbanus: In its early run it was a cult among the general audience in Flanders, mostly because of the fame of the comedian on which it was based, but critics absolutely despised its art which may go down as some of the ugliest art in a comic book ever this side of Pitch. As time changed and the art style got better critics started to like it as well, especially because the comedian has a good grasp of what the author is doing, but is still dismissed by hipsters. Seeing as they are Acceptable Targets it’s very understandable.
    • FC De Kampioenen: This comic strip is based on the popularity of the Flemish sitcom of the same name and the last comic strip launched in Flanders to still sell in enormous quantities. It has even survived the original sitcom which has now been cancelled in 2011. Despite being a huge bestseller critics, who consider the creator’s other works to be much better, loathe it.

    Literature 
  • Dan Brown’s books tend to get this, but none as much as The Da Vinci Code. Absolutely despised by critics, but some of the most successful books out there. That being said, a study found that, in the UK, The Da Vinci Code is the book most frequently donated to charity shops. The public certainly bought many copies of it; that’s not to say they enjoyed it.
  • Barbara Cartland was at one point among the most widely read authors in the world. Yet she only wrote romance novels that literary critics dismissed as shallow and formulaic.
  • The Clique, at least when the books first came out. Critics hated them, but they were bestsellers and beloved by their demographic. By now, however, that demographic has grown up, realized all the Fridge Horror and Dude, Not Funny! moments in the series, and now they’re nigh-universally despised.
  • Discworld for a while — at the time when Terry Pratchett was being claimed as "the most shoplifted author in Britain", most critics seemed mildly baffled by him. Eventually it went meta; by the 2000s the majority of reviews were hailing him as a genius, while claiming that all other critics were blinded by genre snobbery.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey sold remarkably well, but generally anyone who majored in literature or English, or who is involved in the actual world of BDSM, will despise it.
  • The Left Behind series of Christian apocalyptic fiction fits into this, as the critical response to the books tended to accuse them of starring dull, unlikable characters and having an Idiot Plot only made possible by an ostensibly Like Reality Unless Noted Earth populated with Flat Earth Atheists.note  However, it sold amazingly well, constantly enjoying New York Times bestseller status, and is regarded as one of the best pieces of explicitly “Christian” fiction.
  • Les Misérables is listed under theatre, but the novel was also received very negatively when first published: described as “infantile” and “tasteless and inept.” However it was a commercial success, and is now considered a classic of French literature.
  • The Mike Hammer books by Mickey Spillane were hated by critics back in the day, and to a degree they still are. On the other hand, in 1980 Spillane was responsible for seven of the top 15 bestselling books in America, and his books have been adapted into successful movies, TV shows and radio dramas. Spillane himself mocked this trope, stating that he didn’t care what critics thought so much as what his fans thought.
    “Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar … If the public likes you, you’re good.”
  • Karl May’s novels have always been bestsellers, but mostly among young boys who like adventure stories set in The Wild West. It’s not considered worthy of the name literature among other people.
  • A fan of the cult-classic book (and movie) Mommie Dearest would probably be shocked to find how much critics hated it, as well as other stars of The Golden Age of Hollywood who actually had known Joan Crawford and her adopted children and wrote in their own autobiographies how off-base the book was. Faye Dunaway said she wished she hadn’t acted in that movie after it hurt her career.
  • The Twilight Saga gets a mention here too. Extremely successful (in its target market, at least), but far more people will avoid it like the plague. What’s funny is that Twilight’s original target demographic has by now outgrown the books themselves.
  • Zig Zagged Trope with Stephen King who consistently gets good sales and good reviews, but with a significant number of literary elites considering him sub-literate Gorn. This attitude peaked when King won the National Book Award Medal for Distinguished Contribution with Harold Bloom declaring the award (and American literature itself) Ruined Forever.

    Music 
  • Anastacia, a singer who has worldwide acclaim from the music-buying publicexcept in her home country, America. American critics love her, though.
    • One explanation is that her style of music doesn’t fit the format of American radio stations. She’s considered too soulful for A/C stations, and not urban enough for urban radio stations, and not poppish enough for top 40, and not rockish enough for rock stations … Pop-Culture Isolation due to Genre Roulette. Essentially she’s in a self-made musical purgatory.
  • The alternative rap group Arrested Development’s second album was dismissed by critics but a lot of fans think it’s an overlooked masterpiece due to Hype Backlash. Fans (especially overseas fans) felt that America let an outstanding group fall through the cracks.
  • The Beatles: Nowadays the band is popular with the general public, the alternative music crowd, and the critics, but this hasn’t always been the case. Before Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band many music fans saw the group as nothing more than primitive pop music without any artistic depth. While Rubber Soul and Revolver already showed signs of more favorable interest of serious music fans Sgt. Pepper convinced everybody that they were far better and more artistically interesting than regular pop acts.
  • The Bee Gees, both within and apart from their disco period, were one of the most successful acts of The '70s, but were constantly slammed by critics, especially after they fell out of style. They gained more respect towards the end of their career, even getting into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
  • Behemoth’s album The Satanist may be their most critically acclaimed album to date, but the fans consider it one of their worst albums.
  • Billy Joel may be the Trope Codifier. Throughout his career he has received mostly unfavorable or mediocre reviews from several critics. Try telling that to the fans who bought all of his multiple Gold and Platinum records.
  • “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus was one of the most hated songs of all time in any genre, but the album was one of the top-selling of all time (not to mention one of the very few country-pop crossovers between the end of the Urban Cowboy era and Shania Twain’s breakthrough in 1995). Adding insult to injury was the fact that the song was a Cover Version, and a Black Sheep Hit that didn’t well represent Cyrus’ style or body of work. And much of his success was in the country charts; “ABH” was his only true pop crossover hit.
  • The B-52s have an adoring and devoted fanbase who rarely have much to criticise about them. Critics on the other hand frequently give their albums middling reviews and overuse words like ‘kitsch’ and ‘campy’ that indicate they don’t really like the band. Rolling Stone’s praising of their debut album in their top 500 did help turn things around somewhat.
  • Black Eyed Peas are frequently panned by critics and a frequent target of parody and satire (especially their song "My Humps"). That doesn’t seem to affect either the buying public (they spent an unprecedented 26 straight weeks holding the number one and two top charting singles in mid-2009) or Grammy voters (six wins out of 16 nominations).
    • Weirdly, before Elephunk, their situation was actually reversed. For their first two albums, they were known as a critically acclaimed Alternative Hip Hop trio that sold very few albums. Then came Fergie … bringing Unfortunate Implications.
    • Nonetheless, the Hype Backlash from their terrible Super Bowl performance effectively destroyed their popularity and ended their career; in a period of six months, they went from being one of the biggest bands in America to having to fight off rumors that they are breaking up.
  • Black Veil Brides receive far, far more respect from critics than their frequent derision will lead you to believe. Most serious music fans (especially metal fans) view their music as a mediocre and uninspired Guilty Pleasure at best and an abomination to music at worst. That being said, their albums receive good reviews (save for their debut, which even the critics didn’t like that much), they have a large fandom worldwide, and are one of the biggest new bands in the metal scene as well as the most popular band in the Hair Metal revival movement.
  • Blake Shelton: Some country music fans feel that the quality of his music went downhill since at least his 2010 album Hillbilly Bone. His first three albums had traditional-leaning country that won him critical acclaim but produced hit-and-miss results on the charts; Pure BS and Startin’ Fires were an awkwardly mediocre transitory period; and Hillbilly Bone onward has found him taking on a more ‘modern’ sound that has rendered him a golden boy on the airplay charts (including a white-hot streak of fifteen straight number-one hits), but at the cost of critical derision for his more generic style.
  • Brad Paisley. His albums still get high praise from critics, even those who starkly avoid the Four Point Scale (such as Slant and Allmusic). However, a glance at any country music forum will find that many think he has been extremely complacent and lacking the creativity of his earlier albums — main criticisms include severe Vocal Decay, failed attempts at humor, cliché ballads and unremarkable guitar work. This may be finally catching up to him, as his late-2011 single “Camouflage” was widely panned and is his first chart entry in 12 years to miss the top 10. He listened to the criticism, as his 2013 album Wheelhouse found him ditching long-time producer Frank Rogers in favor of self-production, leading to a highly varied sound that critics are split between calling great and adventurous, or overstuffed and pretentious. But those on either side agree that the LL Cool J duet “Accidental Racist” was a huge misstep.
  • Bring Me The Horizon has gotten considerable praise from critics and metal musicians alike. Even Rob Halford has praised them. However, the mere mention of their name is enough to be considered Snark Bait to metal fans.
  • Captain Beefheart: Praised as a genius and an innovator by critics and artists, but seen as an obscure noisemaker to most other people. He is extraordinarily influential to many Alternative Rock artists, despite still being unpopular with regular music fans.
  • Cher Lloyd’s debut single, “Swagger Jagger.” Nobody’s quite sure what it means, the song was critically panned, but shot straight to number one upon release.
  • Weirdly, Childish Gambino has gone through both types of this. At the beginning of his career, critics generally liked him while the musical community considered him a joke rapper for people who didn’t really take hip-hop seriously. He was even considered by some to be “hip hop for white people” (despite himself being black). Now it’s the reverse — because the Internet was the subject of huge excitement following its release, but was received with a shrug by critics.
  • Downplayed: Deadmau5’s *album title goes here* got even two stars by some reviews. It is one of his best-selling albums.
  • Alternative rap group Digable Planets Sophomore album Blowout Comb received massive praise and was considered far beyond their debut. But the album more or less bombed when released. Some music critics believe that the Afrocentric militant tone of the second album made it less accessible and off-putting to white listeners, which was believed to be their primary listeners of their first album.
  • Dirty Vegas’ sophomore album, One, was outright slammed by critics. It became however greatly popular amongst the fans, and spawned some of their better known hits barring “Days Go By” (that comes from their self-titled debut album), such as “Human Love” and “Walk into the Sun.” Hell, one song from this album, “A Million Ways,” appears in Project Gotham Racing 3. Their first post-breakup album, Electric Love, received an overall enthusiastic reception in the other hand.
  • A lot of Eazy-E’s solo work (sans EP It’s on 187um Killa, and debut album Eazy-Duz-It) is hated by critics and is usually criticized for being cartoonishly violent, especially the 51/50 album. But the fans consider 51/50 genuinely good.
  • Indie rock band Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians’ first two albums were extensively praised by critics. Nonetheless, they never became more than a one-hit wonder with their 1988 single “What I Am.”
    • A couple of years after they faded into obscurity, frontwoman Brickell married Paul Simon.
  • The Faceless got hit with this hard with Autotheism. Critics tended to enjoy it and saw it as a bold step forward for the band, while fans saw it as a bunch of pretentious nonsense with a really stupid concept and uninspired music that largely just ripped off Keene’s influences. Given that the band has started to shy away from playing more than a few songs off of it live, it would seem that the message has reached Keene as well.
  • Dionne Farris’ debut album, Wild Seed—Wild Flower, received rave reviews but measly sales, and produced her only hit, “I Know.”
  • Within Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham has always (justifiably, because of his skill and innovation) been something of a critics’ darling but never has had any really big-selling solo albums, whereas Stevie Nicks, particularly in the 1980s, regularly took a pasting from rock critics while amassing a huge fan following as a solo artist. (Over the past decade or so, though, critics have taken a more positive view of Nicks; this may partly be due to the number of new-generation artists who cite her as a favorite or an influence.)
  • Grand Funk Railroad could effectively be described as the Nickelback (see below) of the ’70s. The gulf between critics and listeners was so vast, it’s even mentioned in the opening paragraph of their Wikipedia page. As explained in this article, much of both the critics’ unbridled hate for GFR and the public’s love of them had to do with how they were playing simple, energetic, populist roots-rock with straightforward lyrics in an era where rock bands with elaborate instrumentation and multilayered lyrical themes (i.e. the sort of music that ‘down home’ rock fans tend to loathe) were critical darlings. Ironically, however, their very last album, Good Singin Good Playin (1976), was done in collaboration with none other than Frank Zappa (see below). note 
  • HURT is a modern rock band that critics generally love, and their Vol. II album is considered one of the very best albums of rock period by critics and fans. They have a devoted fanbase and sell well enough to keep making music, but they are widely obscure to the general public, so much so that they aren't known well even amongst the Internet.
  • While adored by fans, Imagine DragonsNight Visions and Smoke + Mirrors were critically lukewarm.
  • Janet Jackson’s Damita Jo album: Fans think it could have done well, while critics bashed it post-Super Bowl controversy.
  • Janelle Monáe gets rave reviews from critics but the general public knows nothing about her. Her albums have all mostly been Hitless Hit Albums.
  • Jewel, even during her heyday in the mid- to late ’90s, generally garnered lukewarm reviews from professional critics, with many deeming her music naïve and overly simple. Yet that didn’t stop her debut album Pieces of You from reaching Diamond certification in the U.S. (and, later, being listed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the “Definitive 200”). Her 1998 album Spirit also went on to achieve Triple Platinum status, despite an equally unenthusiastic critical reaction, and is seen as a defining pop album of the late ’90s.
  • Although Johann Sebastian Bach was esteemed as a performer, his music was considered, in its day, to be old-fashioned and not of much interest, with Bach’s sons Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Johann Christian Bach being much more highly regarded as composers. Today, J.S. Bach is considered one of the greatest (if not the greatest) composer of all time, and while his sons’ music is still played it’s definitely not considered to be in the same league.
  • Unsurprisingly, The Jonas Brothers. Boyband first, ‘legitimate musicians’ second to critics, while their fanbase (even non-teenyboppers) love them. (Notable exception being their New Sound Album Lines, Vines and Trying Times, but even the critics hated that one.)
  • Justin Bieber has had some favorable reviews by critics and has a large fanbase, but to say he’s unpopular on the Internet in general is a massive understatement. In fact, his Hatedom tried actively to destroy his career (as opposed to simply ignoring him) — hence the "free pass" that One Direction got for potentially being the savior the people needed from him. By 2013, even the mainstream media was against him after he Took a Level in Jerkass. While he regained his popularity by 2015, his reputation on the internet was still as abysmal as ever.
  • Kendrick Lamar’s breakthrough album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, got rave reviews from critics, and while it was a hit, it was still far from the smashes that the likes of Lil Wayne and Drake had. He ultimately escaped this with his next album To Pimp a Butterfly, which firmly established him as a top-tier act (plus it got even better reviews than its predecessor).
  • Kidz Bop is very popular with, well, kids, but critical opinion of the franchise has been pretty negative — and that's not even going into how badly casual music fans think of them.
  • King’s X are regularly named as one of the best rock groups of the ’90s and have a very strong fanbase of seemingly just a few hundred people.
  • For both Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, their first few albums were critically panned originally (though in both cases most critics retroactively praised their early stuff).
    • This is actually true of many of the acts made popular in the 1970s. The albums and concerts of Queen, Journey, Paul McCartney and Wings, Elton John (at least after he wore outrageous costumes), and a lot of the Arena Rock and Progressive Rock supergroups had poor (or only grudgingly favorable) reviews, but sold millions, while critical darlings such as The Velvet Underground were largely ignored by the record-buying public. This may have connections to professional jealousy, changes in style, burnout, hang-ups with keeping up with the next big thing (punk, bar bands, synth-pop, new wave, indie rock) or perhaps it needed to be Vindicated by History. Granted, some records may have simply been substandard, but often the bad reviews came regardless of the quality of their work. The phenomenon was lampshaded in a 1971 Rolling Stone column by Lester Bangs:
      “Three or four years ago, rock reviewing was less problematic than it is today. For one thing, you knew what to write about. The Byrds, the Animals, the Dead, the Airplane, and Beach Boys were fit subjects for comment; Gerry and the Pacemakers, Dave Clark and Freddie and the Dreamers were not. The Beatles, the Stones, and Dylan were the first inductees to rock’s (as opposed to rock and roll’s) pantheon; after that, everyone bowed in the direction of San Francisco and underground British groups until the appearance of Led Zeppelin.

      “Zeppelin forced a revival of the distinction between popularity and quality. As long as the bands most admired aesthetically were also the bands most successful commercially (Cream, for instance) the distinction was irrelevant. But Zeppelin’s enormous commercial success, in spite of critical opposition, revealed the deep division in what was once thought to be a homogeneous audience.

      “That division has now evolved into a clearly defined mass taste and a clearly defined elitist taste. Critics may write pages and pages about elitist favorite Captain Beefheart, but it was sons of Grand Funk — namely Black Sabbath — who were the first new band in months to sell out the Fillmore East in advance […] Critics write paeans to Van Morrison and New Morning, but these days it is Stephen Stills who sells the records — in far greater quantity (on a per album basis) than Dylan and Morrison.”
  • The Levellers’ album Hello Pig was regarded by many critics to be the band’s breakthrough that was going to catapult them to the mainstream, deviating from their formula. Of course, the fans hated it.
  • Limp Bizkit were absolutely hated by critics for a long time, but their albums all sold like gangbusters, even their most negatively reviewed album Results May Vary managed to go platinum. Though once the band released their comeback album Golden Cobra both fans and critics alike seemed to enjoy it.
  • Linkin Park’s Minutes to Midnight, with a new sound resembling generic alt- and arena rock rather than nu-metal, got generally positive reviews (including a rare four stars from Rolling Stone) but was trashed by the band's fanbase.
  • Swedish electro-soul group Little Dragon are critical darlings, but their record sales are very stagnant.
  • Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear album. It later became Vindicated by History.
  • Megadeth’s 1997 album Cryptic Writings was praised by critics, with some even calling it the band’s best album since Rust in Peace. Many fans thought that the band had taken in too many poppy influences. The 2004 Remaster restores a lot of metal elements and the album has been reappraised by many since.
  • The Metallica album St. Anger actually got pretty decent reviews from critics upon release, but you wouldn’t know it from the insane amount of criticism it got from fans. Enough that the band themselves have removed the album almost entirely from their live set list (despite this, they considered the album necessary, because working around the Creator Breakdown kept them together). Granted, the initial backlash was directed mostly at the band itself (who had mined its reputation with an overhaul that popularized them but irritated the original fans and a lawsuit on Napster) and it seems to have subsided a bit, but not nearly enough for it to be Vindicated by History.
    • St. Anger’s slim chance of ever becoming Vindicated by History has been pretty well-confirmed. Quite a few publications (both metal-focused and mainstream) ran ten-year retrospectives of the album to see if it may have been a misunderstood masterpiece. Sure enough, the overall consensus was that, in spite of the well-documented Creator Breakdown that led to it turning out the way it did, the album did not improve with age.
  • In probably the most extreme case, Michael Bolton managed to sell 50 million records worldwide despite being savaged by critics. Strangely, he still sells despite even the public’s backlash against him.
  • Michael Jackson’s first post-Thriller album, Bad, was acclaimed by critics and sold extremely well, but by the time Rolling Stone’s Readers’ Poll for 1988 was taken, there was enough of an audience backlash against Jackson that he swept the ‘Worst’ categories. Its reputation with both camps has improved with time. By comparison 1991’s Dangerous was generally liked by both critics and general audiences. From HIStory: Past, Present And Future, Book I onward both groups, at least in the U.S., gave up on him (his decision to center so much of HIStory around his highly alienating legal issues/personal life was, in hindsight, misguided); the best he could get from the former was So Okay, It's Average notices, and only his diehard fanbase kept him selling until his death. Even his death hasn’t been able to boost the reputation of his post-Dangerous work as yet.
  • Like Anastacia and King’s X, Mother’s Finest was a heavily critically acclaimed funk-rock band of the mid- to late ’70s. Because their music was either insufficiently rock or insufficiently funk/soul/R&B, however, they never really broke out.
  • Muse’s The 2nd Law is a strange example. While getting generally positive reviews from critics, the album was a Base Breaker among its fans: many criticized the album’s new sound, particularly criticizing the experimentation with dubstep and love ballads, even placing the album among their worst albums of 2012; but at the same time, their supporting concert tour became their highest-selling tour to date.
  • Nickelback are the kings of this trope in modern rock music, and a strange example of it going both ways. On one hand, admitting that you are a Nickelback fan on the Internet will get you told that you have no taste in music and are a part of what’s killing rock and roll — a poll by Rolling Stone named them the second worst band of the ’90s, behind only Creed. On the other, every single album they made between Silver Side Up in 2001 and Dark Horse in 2008 went multi-platinum, so somebody out there is buying their music. You’d expect this Love It or Hate It reaction to extend to the critics … but they generally call Nickelback So Okay, It's Average, formulaic but inoffensive. This review of their album No Fixed Address argues that much of Nickelback’s hatedom came not from their music (which was hardly the worst to come out of the Post-Grunge wave), but from their omnipresence on terrestrial radio during that time making their mediocrity that much more unbearable.
  • Nine Inch Nails’ album The Fragile was rated very high by critics (it was Rolling Stone’s album of the year when it came out), but didn’t sell all that well — it went to number one in October 1999, but then proceeded to have the largest decline in the Billboard chart’s history. Considering the band’s later success, Vindicated by History comes into play.
    • The decline from number one should have been expected, since the rabid fans had waited five years for a new album and were going to buy anything Trent put out on Day One, but the album failed to produce a hit single for the casual fans to grab onto (“Starfuckers, Inc.” came closest). And while it wasn’t a bad album, most of those songs were pretty rare to hear live after the Fragility tour, with only “The Wretched” and its instrumental lead-in, “The Frail,” becoming live staples.
  • One Direction have generally gotten mediocre reviews for all of their albums, and general audiences show little interest in their work. That didn’t stop them from becoming an enormously successful teen phenomenon and remaining nowhere near as reviled as Justin Bieber (in fact, they miraculously dodged a Periphery Hatedom that chose to continue hating on Bieber. They still have one, but they instead choose to ignore them than actively work against them like they do to Bieber).
  • Opeth’s 2011 album Heritage got very positive reviews from critics, averaging a 72 on Metacritic. However, at the very least half the fanbase doesn’t like it at all, mainly because they are afraid the band won’t make another album in their Signature Style, as frontman Mikael Akerfeldt said he was “bored with metal”.
  • Believe it or not The Pharcyde’s debut and sophomore album got lukewarm to mixed reviews from critics. But high critical acclaim from hip-hop fans. They would later become Vindicated by History.
  • Queen suffered from negative press in the 1970s and 1980s, even though they were hugely successful (especially in the UK) and are now considered to be one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Indeed, upon being inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in 2001, their drummer, Roger Taylor, cheekily said of the honour, “It means actually more than all the Grammys we never got.”
  • Queen Latifah’s Black Reign album. Mixed reviews from critics but most hip-hoppers and hip hop publications see it as a classic Hip-Hop album that produced one of the most iconic rap songs “U.N.I.T.Y.” Some even say the song “Just Another Day.”
  • Raphael Saadiq’s solo albums have had consistent critical acclaim but was never able to cross over fully for some reason. Interestingly enough his old band, Tony! Toni! Toné!, was pretty huge in the early to mid-’90s.
  • The output of Rascal Flatts after switching to producer Dann Huff (namely the albums Me and My Gang, Still Feels Good, and Unstoppable) was generally considered mediocre to dreadful by most music critics. Main points of criticism included bombastic production, overwrought vocals, and bland lyrics. However, their streaks of Top Five country hits and multi-platinum sales were unharmed, and their first single with Huff (“What Hurts the Most”) was their most successful crossover. The group generally won back critical acclaim by returning to a less bombastic, more substantial sound after they moved to Big Machine Records following the closure of their previous label, Lyric Street. Starting with 2014’s Rewind, they finally ditched Huff entirely.
  • While the average person knows and respects Lou Reed, it’s usually more for Transformer and the Live Album Rock ’N’ Roll Animal, not his later, more experimental stuff. Nevertheless most rock critics praise him as one of the most important innovators in his field.
  • The Residents are praised for making a New Sound Album every year, but if an ordinary music fan would listen to their records he wants to clear the room in about two minutes.
  • During the same time frame of the aforementioned Amel, and Res there was Rhian Benson. Another critical darling that was ignored by the public and mainstream radio.
  • “MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris has often been called the worst song ever by critics, but was a commercial success in 1968 and has been hailed by the public as a classic. It’s not hard to see why; the music and Harris’ beautiful singing voice more than makes up for any silly lyrics it may have.
  • Rush have rarely or never gotten good reviews, particularly in the ’70s, but their album sales have almost always been strong, and they have a hardcore, devoted following (and plenty of respect from musicians’ publications for their virtuoso playing), and a status as national heroes in their homeland … and, finally, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! After years of being ignored (something fans didn’t take lightly).
  • Sepultura’s sixth album Roots received almost unanimously positive reviews, and proved to be one of the most influential albums in the early-2000s Nu Metal scene. Fans of the band, however, consider it to be their Jumping the Shark moment and don’t like it as much.
  • Death Metal band Six Feet Under has been well-liked by critics since their formation, even earning critical acclaim for their album Undead, released in 2012. However, many death metal fans absolutely despise them. Most of the criticism comes from their simplistic music and Chris Barnes’ weakened vocals, but the Travis Ryan incident has led many people to believe the rumors that Barnes is an asshole. However, some haters tend to enjoy their two latest albums, the aforementioned Undead and Unborn.
  • Sonic Youth have been praised by rock critics and fans of Alternative Rock for being innovative. Many expected them to break to the mainstream when Nirvana became huge in 1991, but to this day they never left the underground or struck a chord with the general public.
  • Stone Temple Pilots, throughout The '90s, was pummelled by music critics, with the main criticism being that they were little more than a third-rate knockoff of Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. Yet negative press didn’t stop them from becoming one of the most popular and influential rock bands of the ’90s.
    • A perfect example of how dissonant fan and critical reaction to the band was: they were simultaneously voted “Best New Band” by Rolling Stone readers and “Worst New Band” by the same magazine’s critics in January 1994.
  • Supertramp: One of the best-selling bands of the 1970s, but lambasted by critics.
  • Most of Terence Trent D’arby’s later music.
  • 311’s 1997 album Transistor wasn’t received very well by critics, but it’s generally beloved by fans.
  • Tori Amos’ 1996 album Boys for Pele was bashed by critics when it was released. Nevertheless, it’s a fan favorite that is considered to be among her best work.
    • The album has found itself Vindicated by History, as by the late 2000s many music critics and experts have also come to acknowledge it as being one of the best from its genre and time period. It has been theorized that the album’s poor response at the time was due to its sound being such a dramatic departure from Amos’ first two albums.
    • Kate Bush’s 1982 album The Dreaming suffered this too.
  • Some of Tupac Shakur’s posthumous releases are this. Critics dismiss them as cheap cash-ins. But some of the earlier ones are seen as genuinely good albums, specifically R U Still Down? (Remember Me), and Still I Rise.
  • 65daysofstatic’s We Were Exploding Anyway was perhaps their most critically well-reviewed album. Yet on user-driven sites such as Rate Your Music, it is one of their lowest-rated albums.
  • Was (Not Was): To the critics, an imaginative experimental funk outfit bolstered by tight playing and high-quality production. To the mainstream public, a bunch of goofballs who did an annoying song about dinosaurs.
  • Of course, we can’t forget the treatment the album Pinkerton by Weezer originally got. Critics reacted so negatively to an album widely considered Weezer’s most personal that lead singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo had a legitimate Creator Breakdown, calling himself a “shitty songwriter” and saying it was a “hideous record […] a hugely painful mistake that […] just won’t go away”. Needless to say, the fans considered it (and still do) Weezer’s best album to date, and a masterpiece on the part of Cuomo. Luckily, all these years later, Cuomo as well as the critics have changed their tune and tend to agree. It might be the Trope Maker for Vindicated by History, as the album currently has a solid 100 rating on Metacritic.
  • Kanye West has gotten generally positive to universal critical acclaim for all of his albums, and most of the time that was reflected with the public. Although his fourth album, 808s & Heartbreak, was a Base Breaker for its electropop sound and heavily autotuned vocals, it still debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200 and produced two hit singles. His next album was better received by the public as a whole, but his sixth album, Yeezus, is a prime example. Kanye’s second New Sound Album is very experimental, with a variety of influences like Industrial Metal, Electro, and Noise music. It was released to widespread critical acclaim and topped many critics' year-end lists, but, despite debuting at number one, it had the lowest debut sales for any of Kanye’s albums and is the only one not to sell at least one million copies (the album having very little promotion also didn’t help). Many older fans were indifferent or put off by the album’s non-traditional sound, and the public majority seemed tired of Kanye’s antics. Only one song, “Bound 2,” received decent airplay, helped by the fact that it sounds like his earlier work.
  • Yes: Critics have always hated this band, but the general listeners bought their records by the score.
  • Frank Zappa is widely praised by critics for being one of the most important composers of all time, having an original, authentic sound that changes many styles and being far more complex and experimental than most rock songs. His political activism and satirical songwriting have also been praised. Yet he has never been popular with the general audience and still is nothing more than a cult artist.
  • John Zorn: Similarly to Zappa Zorn is a critic’s darling for his Genre Roulette style, but literally obscure to the general public.
  • Boys bands!and girl groups will often be gigantic bestsellers among young females, but will not receive any good press from critics, even female ones.
  • Many Canadian acts, largely due to record companies mishandling or poorly marketing critically acclaimed groups or artists:
    • If you were to judge The Rheostatics (a now-defunct Canadian rock group) solely by the opinions you find of them online, you would think they’re one of the most important Canadian bands of the past century, and more critically acclaimed than even most current Canadian artists (to the point that two of their albums, Melville and Whale Music, are consistently ranked as one of the top ten Canadian albums of all time). In actuality, they only one minor hit (“Claire” in 1994) and never sold that many records commercially, even at their peak in the ’90s.
    • Poor, poor Fefe Dobson. All of her albums have been critically acclaimed, but still tanked. One critic from NOW magazine blamed this on the fact that the industry didn’t know how to market a black rocker chick from Scarborough, Ontario.
    • Esthero was an indie queen who received tons of critical accolades for her three studio albums, as well as her collaborations with various artists (including Will.i.am on the “Yes We Can” track from 2008 and co-writing songs for Kanye West’s 808’s and Heartbreak and Timbaland’s Shock Value II), but all her solo work has failed to generate sales, and she’s still mostly unknown in Canada and the States.
  • There are a number of Classic Rock-era albums that earned high marks from critics, and often appear on ‘greatest ever’ lists, but have gone mostly unnoticed by the public, including Love’s Forever Changes, the Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle, and the Pretty Things’ Parachute (which was Rolling Stone’s album of the year for 1970).
  • Classical Music and Jazz tend to be more praised by critics, intellectuals and the like for being beautiful works of artistic expression. To most plain folks it’s just a nice tune to play in the background, but not too long before they put on a pop music record again. The fact that many people still call these compositions ‘songs’ despite the fact that many are instrumentals also shows the gap in appreciation.
  • Country Music is a weird example of this, with the dissonance being within the general public. Outside of the American Midwest and South, country music isn’t very popular. In fact, New York City has no country music radio stations at all. In the Northeast, liking country music (other than alternative groups, crossover pop artists, or legends) is seen as akin to liking NASCAR, and will get you called a hillbilly or redneck (or racist). It doesn’t help that the majority of people who listen to country music only listen to country music, thus limiting interaction with fans of other genres (other than maybe classic rock). However, simply based on numbers country music could be considered the most popular genre of music in America. And within the genre itself …
  • The crops of country hitmakers in The New Tens are usually rock-influenced acts (often known as “bro-country”) like Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, and Florida Georgia Line, who are all criticized for their heavy rock influence, overreliance on party jams, and Bryan’s preference of sex appeal over musical integrity. Despite heavy criticism, their albums and singles are among the bestselling in the genre.
    • Other acts are criticized for singing way too many songs about being a country boy. Doesn’t stop them from constantly hitting the Top 10.
  • Music critic J. Eric Smith decided to see which albums get more praise from critics than copies sold.
  • In the late 1970s and early 1980s, most music critics dismissed the entire Heavy Metal genre as being loud, stupid, monotone and offensive. Mainstream publications like Rolling Stone ignored metal entirely. But within a few years Heavy Metal would become one of the biggest music genres on the planet, with metal bands selling millions of albums and filling arenas. And it’s still this way for the most part.
  • Almost every VH-1 You Oughta Know and MTV BUZZ artist counts. Critics gush over these artists (usually for good reasons), but the general public seems to be indifferent.
    • Bumblebeez: Critics said they were gonna be huge and be the Australian version of the Neptunes.
    • Leela James, and almost every other Neo-Soul artist. D’Angelo, Alicia Keys, and Maxwell are the only ones that ever had huge success, and only Alicia has been able to maintain it (although, to be fair, Alicia tweaked her sound on her last two CDs, less soul and more generic power pop ballads). It also probably had something to do with the evolution of the term “neo-soul” itself. In the ’90s, it was Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a new wave of artists who approached their music with the same philosophy as classic soul musicians. But as these artists found mainstream success around the turn of the millennium, “neo-soul” came to be applied to any black singer who appealed to people over 25. Because of this, many fans who took the term to heart failed to see what the big deal was and gave up on the genre altogether.
    • Hip-Hop act Little Brother, possibly derailed by The Powers That Be, depending on whom you ask. It didn’t really help that the group went on hiatus around the time they were getting hyped.
    • Ditto for rap group Dead Prez had huge buzz leading up to their debut album. When the album dropped critics ate it up, but the public mostly ignored it.
    • Critics claimed that the unassuming neo-psychedelic act The Mooney Suzuki were supposed to be the band that changed Alternative Rock in the 2000s. Then The Strokes and The White Stripes happened. Critics later turned their backs on the group, as their last two albums were received poorly, despite the fact that the title track from their third album (Alive & Amplified) finally became the minor hit that had long eluded them.
    • Indie rockers The Brian Jonestown Massacre are loved by critics but seem to intentionally sabotage themselves every time another wave of hype and potential commercial breakthrough comes their way.
    • Many music critics were expecting big things from indie band The Lemonheads, who were supposed to be the next Nirvana, or at least the New Important Alternative Band of the ’90s. The band never found a breakthrough single and just sort of disintegrated.
    • Most of MTV’s Buzz artists didn’t pan out. With a few notable exceptions (Garbage, Foo Fighters, Beck), the bands featured became cult favorites at best and One-Hit Wonder flameouts at worst (anyone remember Jimmie’s Chicken Shack?).
      • Many of BET’s Next artists didn’t pan out either — so much so they don’t even attempt to break buzzworthy artists anymore. In fact they ignore them and stick to the more accessible artists.
    • Enigmatic R&B singer Res is a solid example of this trope, critically acclaimed but her career just fizzled out.
    • And before Res there was Davina (remember her!?).
    • Nikka Costa: critics were saying she would be huge … well.
    • Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. They had no hits, but Grace herself has been an Advertised Extra on two Kenny Chesney songs.
    • Before Res but after Davina there was also Amel Larrieux. A critical darling who got rave reviews but was shunned by both the public and music networks.
  • Seventies progressive rock as a genre has never really gotten much respect from mainstream rock critics, who consider it insufferably pretentious, yet bands like Yes, Jethro Tull and Emerson, Lake & Palmer were hugely popular and still have devoted followings.
  • Exotica, Bubblegum Pop, novelty music, easy listening music, Space Rock, Muzak are still seen as the lowest of the lowest music, but did get a bit more serious interest in the 1990s.
    • Many band leaders and musicians who sold millions by merely covering popular music and playing it in easy listening arrangements have never received any artistic recognition: Lawrence Welk, Liberace, Mitch Miller, James Last, Herb Alpert, Leroy Anderson, Bert Kaempfert, Mantovani, Richard Claydermann, Ray Conniff, André Rieu, Helmut Zacharias, Hugo Montenegro, Pat Boone …
  • Music videos. For many young people they are the major reason to like and buy a song, album or a certain artist. But most critics seldom discuss or hail the merits of these videos whom they dismiss as cheap publicity tools that distract attention away from the actual music by focusing more on cool dance moves, fashions, hairstyles, special effects and storylines. Sometimes inverted, such as is the case with the music video for Thriller, which gets critical acclaim for its horror allusions, but which sometimes gets dismissed by the general public for being Nightmare Fuel.
  • Classical crossover tenor Andrea Bocelli is far more popular with the music consuming public than with critics, who are prone to insist that he simply doesn't have a particularly good voice.
  • Enya got her first three albums released to massive critical acclaim, then critics got cold, with the other albums getting mixed reviews. Of course, being that she's known worldwide and the first name that pops into people's heads when they think of celtic/relaxing music, every album she's ever released has been a massive success among the listeners.

    Pinball 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • There can often be a huge dissonance between what the wrestling Smart Mark fans and critics are praising and what the fans are cheering for in the arenas. Some examples:
    • John Cena is despised by smarks, so his matches tend to get voted down - or at least they did during the PG era when his Hatedom was at its strongest. Since Cena was dropped down to the midcard in early 2015, most critics rate his matches fairly enough and find him to be a solid wrestler and smarks have warmed up to him a bit since he gained a Replacement Scrappy in Roman Reigns.
    • Too Cool were especially loathed by critics during the Attitude Era, but got great reactions. Fans who aren't Smart Marks tend to remember them as a good tag team with a fun gimmick.
    • Santino Marella was pretty over in his time, but critics never rated his matches very high and smarks consider him a joke.
    • Paige gets good reactions from fans in the arenas but is an extreme Base Breaker with critics and internet fans.
    • Kelly Kelly was insanely over in the PG Era, and even Diva Dirt writers warmed up to her. Anyone outside the Diva-fan demographic utterly hated her.
    • Natalya Neidhart is one of the favourites on Diva Dirt but smarks tend to be indifferent to her. Likewise with Alicia Fox.
    • The Bella Twins, especially Nikki, have a very vocal smark Hatedom. However, critics began praising them for their improvement by the end of 2015 and they get decent reactions from most casual viewers.
    • Kevin Nash is one of the most hated wrestlers among critics and internet fans, but was insanely over in the late 90s and nearly always gets good reactions when he appears on TV these days.
    • Hulk Hogan is the most unpopular wrestler on the internet, but always gets a standing ovation in arenas.

    Theater 
  • One review of Romeo and Juliet’s premiere described it as “a mawkish melodrama which, god willing, will see no second performance.”
  • Les Misérables, which has been running nonstop for twenty-five-plus years in London and played to over 60 million people worldwide, was derided when it first opened, being accused of being glum and mawkish. The 2012 movie adaptation received a similar reception but was a box-office smash to the point that USA Today did a feature story about the dissonance.
  • Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was seen as little more than a glorified theme park show when it opened on Broadway in 1994 (Entertainment Weekly: “It belongs On Ice, not on Broadway”), but managed a decade-plus run and tons of professional and amateur productions. Since then many other grandiose family-friendly musicals have come down the pike — all adapted from well-known stories, and many outright Screen to Stage Adaptations as Beauty was. Most see only a few raves among seas of notices that are So Okay, It's Average at best and Beauty-level pans at worst (only The Lion King and Matilda are truly embraced by critics) but some soldier on to win the hearts of audiences anyway: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, A Christmas Story, and Mary Poppins are all success stories. Part of this dissonance owes to the fact that while critics and many ‘serious’ musical-theatre fans prefer more sophisticated fare like Stephen Sondheim shows, The Book of Mormon or Next To Normal, those shows aren’t exactly suitable for families.
  • Mamma Mia! — this fluffy Jukebox Musical is a symbol of the Lowest Common Denominator to hardcore musical-theatre lovers, and its 2008 movie adaptation didn’t wow film critics, but it’s sort of the Lighter and Softer Les Miserables when one looks at its global popularity.
  • The Phantom of the Opera received a lot of pans in its initial stagings in London, New York, and Toronto, but to say it rode those reviews out is an understatement — it’s been running nonstop for more than two decades in the first two cities alone.
  • We Will Rock You was panned when it opened in London, but word of mouth kept it alive, turning it into a sellout show that ran for over a decade and launched several sister productions elsewhere.
  • Wicked fared poorly in reviews from critics when it initially opened. The show became wildly popular and beloved among theatregoers. Subsequent productions elsewhere have received similar lukewarm critical responses, but the New York production is currently the eleventh-longest-running show in Broadway history (having celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2013) and the foreign and touring productions have seen comparable success.

    Video Games 
  • Alpha Protocol was absolutely savaged by reviewers who claimed it to have a broken combat and stealth system as well as a seemingly endless supply of Game Breaking Bugs … but players loved it, quickly elevating it to Cult Classic levels.
  • The Army of Two series is one of the few video games to achieve commercial success while still getting mixed/poor reviews.
  • Asura's Wrath seems to be having quite a bit of this. It’s had relatively mixed reviews, but the game is adored by the many regular non-reviewers who have played it, especially fans of anime. Here’s an example from GameTrailers.
  • Batman: Arkham Origins received mildly positive responses from most critics, but mixed reactions among gamers.
  • Battlezone was loved by critics when it was released in 1998, gaining scores above 80% in gaming magazines and winning several innovation awards. It flopped in the market though, supposedly because consumers didn’t know what to make of the Real-Time Strategy/Tank Simulation/First-Person Shooter genre mix. The sequel received mixed reviews courtesy of its cutting-edge graphics killing performance and a plethora of bugs at release, but it likewise became a Cult Classic, enjoying a large Game Mod and competitive multiplayer scene.
  • According to some of the analysts from GameTrailers, they believe the BioShock franchise is heading this way, calling it a critical darling with middling sales.
  • The 'god game' Black & White might just be the king of this trope video game-wise. It was released to unanimous critical acclaim in 2001, earning nines and tens across the board and being immediately declared one of the greatest games of all time by many publications. The general public, on the other hand, was less enthusiastic about the final game, with many complaining about its slow pace, unforgiving gameplay, and numerous game-breaking bugs (plus, good luck getting the game to run on anything more recent than Windows ME). The backlash was, in fact, so great that many critics later reconsidered their initial assessments of the game. It was number one on GameSpy’s “25 Most Overrated Games of All Time” list and now seen as little more than a footnote in video game history. Part of the reaction was also Hype Backlash to Peter Molyneux, who had (as he often does) promised a lot more for the game than it actually ended up being.
  • Blade Kitten was loathed by critics, but its player base has been much kinder.
  • Cel Damage received fives and sixes from critics, and its Metacritic ratings are 67 (GCN) and 65 (Xbox). None of this has stopped it from becoming a huge Cult Classic, or from getting an HD rerelease for all current Sony systems.
  • Chrono Cross has a fairly minor but notable version of this. Audience: very popular (was a Greatest Hits game) but incredibly divisive among Chrono Trigger fans. Critics: unanimous praise (is one of a handful of games to get a perfect 10 from GameSpot, for instance).
  • Civilization V received good reviews from the gaming press, but a quick look at the Amazon, Metacritic and GameSpot reviews shows that this is in full effect here.
  • Code of Princess recieved mixed to positive reviews from critics, but sold surprisingly well in North America. Ironically, the game performed so-so in its native Japan. The producer, Yasuo Nakajima, said he would like to do a sequel for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One because of the game’s success in North America.
  • The Dead Island games has gotten lukewarm to completely negative reviews. Many game players think it’s completely awesome. Strangely enough, a lot of game reviewers would give the game praise while still giving average to terrible scores — saying they understand why people like it, but also saying it’s still not a good game (particularly Rev3Games).
  • Deadly Premonition played with this. While fans gave it good reviews (the Metacritic user score is 8.3 at the time of writing), critics were all over the place, with the lowest score being a 2 and the highest being a 10. The game ended up winning awards for being so critically polarizing.
  • In a similar situation, Dead Space 3 has been, for the most part, well-received by critics. In terms of fan reception, however, the reaction has been very mixed. While some considered it a well-made action game, others felt that it lacked the horror the other two games had.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War got decent ratings from reviewers. Fans were less kind.
  • Dm C Devil May Cry was a textbook case of this trope both before and after the game was even released. Critics praised it, giving the game scores mostly around eights and nines. The user response, though, especially from fans of the original Devil May Cry games, was more negative overall, bashing on how the writing is immature, the characters are unlikeable, the gameplay is watered down and easy, etc. As of this writing, the averages for critic scores and user scores on Metacritic are 86 and 44 respectively. Also, it was a top game in January sale charts, but only because there were no other major releases at that time, selling only roughly 600,000 out of expected 2 million (now 1.2 million after revising the sales projections) as of this writing, with global sales dropping sharply after the first week.
    • Vergil DLC: Critics bash it for going back to the stone age of earlier DMC games, while the gamers admit that even if it is not good as the previous games, it is a step in the right direction.
  • Donkey Kong Barrel Blast, a racing game with controversial drumstick-like controls. Players generally consider it mediocre or good. Professional critics generally consider it mediocre or bad.
  • Driver 2 was disliked and considered inferior to the original by most critics, but the majority of the Driver fandom loved it and many consider it to be the best Driver game released.
  • Dynasty Warriors and its spinoffs are practically ‘Critical Dissonance: The Game Series’, particularly in its later installments: critics pan the games for the fact that the gameplay has remained the same throughout all entries while fans love it for its simple, chaotic action, as well as the sheer Catharsis Factor.
  • An unexpected downplayed example is in the third (outside Japan) instalment of the Warriors Orochi crossover which, while still suffering the same criticisms the last games did, many critics actually praised it for its Gotta Catch 'Em All approach to obtaining the characters and its more complex story. And of course the long-time fans liked it even more.
  • Way Forward has invoked this a few times:
    • The PS2 adaptation of Spy vs. Spy has a critic score of 38 on Metacritic. Ironically, this time around it were the critics who got disappointed with the fact that a lot of the stuff that made the original comic-book series so great was not kept into the PS2 adaptation (keep in mind that the critics that reviewed it were indeed fans of the comic book). This did however not stop it from having a user score of 71% and people regarding it as one of the hidden gems on the PS2. It seems that the game is suddenly very playable once you get over the fact that it’s unfaithful to its source material.
    • DuckTales Remastered: While quite a few reviewers have found the game’s archaic mechanics (minimal save points, NES difficulty gameplay, and overall lack of innovation) grating, this hasn’t stopped fans from gushing over it. Video reviews are extremely positive about the game and viewer ratings tend to be much, much higher than critic ratings.
    • Double Dragon Neon: Most gamers seem to love this game and have a ton of fun playing it, especially co-op, but a few critics, notably IGN, hate this game, citing clunky gameplay, and sometimes not enjoying the ’80s-style Genre Throwback elements. Most can agree the soundtrack is great though.
  • EarthBound: Criticism from test audiences and the bizarre marketing slogan of “This Game Stinks” made it quite a hated game by critics. After a brief bit of Vindicated by History, it is now regarded as one of the best comedy games of all time, as well as an above-average RPG. For a while it seemed that it would never see a rerelease, but its cult status got it released for the Wii U’s Virtual Console.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy II: One of the only English reviews of the game was positive due to the story. Everyone else hates the gameplay with a passion.
    • Final Fantasy V: Fans mainly call it mediocre for having a much lighter tone than IV and VI, critics like the non-serious tone and class system. Doesn’t help that it was localized ages after II and III, so it had no nostalgia factor to protect it from comparison with the PS1 games.
    • Final Fantasy VII: Critics love this game, fans are a Broken Base ranging from ‘one of the best of the series/all time’ to ‘not all that great’ to even calling it ‘the worst thing ever to happen to RPGs!!!’
    • Final Fantasy VIII: Most critics lauded the game upon release, while fan reaction to its gameplay and story/characters was very polarized.
    • Final Fantasy X: At release, it was critically acclaimed, but widely despised by the fandom. It did, however, become Vindicated by History over time.
    • Final Fantasy XIII: While reviews were mostly positive, it received major backlash from the fanbase because of its linearity. Despite that, it had enough of a fanbase to get a direct sequel.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2: Western critics gave it throwaway ‘average’ scores to ‘punish’ Square Enix for XIII being what it was and also for the debacle surrounding Final Fantasy XIV; certain fans found it to be a significant improvement.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon actually got hit with this so badly that some fans were convinced it received bad reviews, sold poorly and was the reason the next game didn’t get localized. All completely untrue, it actually got a respectable Metacritic average of 81 and sold reasonably well (a more likely reason for New Mystery of the Emblem’s non-localization is that it had the misfortune to be released when the DS was all but dead in the West, and any serious localization would be seen as a gamble Nintendo wasn’t willing to take). Fans weren’t nearly as kind, mostly due to suffering a major case of Seinfeld Is Unfunny, and the controversial side quest requirements.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening is by far the most critically-acclaimed game in the series and one of the most critically-acclaimed games on the 3DS. Within the Fire Emblem fandom it's a major case of Love It or Hate It, with the "hate it" crowd being extremely vocal. Common criticisms include more one-dimensional characters than previous games, a poorly-paced story that tries to stuff every cliche from past games into one plot, badly-balanced mechanics and difficulty, basic map design with overly-simplified objectives, widely fluctuating quality in support conversations due to there being so many. Playing the (previously well-recieved) marriage system of Geneology of the Holy War in a more Dating Sim style has been extremely contentious among fans and it's best to leave it at that.
    • Fire Emblem Fates, if you looked at social media that is, was an even bigger Macekre than the original English dub of Nausicaa Of The Valley Ofthe Wind, with calls to boycott the game. This did not stop it from a rather warm critical reception (Even the controversial review of Conquest was still positive) or from being the best selling entry of its series in the west.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's World is probably the biggest and sharpest example of this. Many reviews are negative yet managed to get 87% on Steam. The reviews are so negative that Scott decides to improve the game and re-release it FOR FREE.
  • Gone Home received high praise from critics regarding the story and gameplay mechanics, while gamer response has been a Broken Base in regards to the quality of both.
  • Gotcha Force: Critics were mixed about this game, but mostly had lower reviews for it. On the other hand, its score is a solid 2.1 points higher among users on GameSpot. It’s still got something of a cult following, due to the insane level of Replay Value, comically bad dialogue, and lots of borgs to choose from.
  • Homefront got a fairly middling reception from critics, due to a combination of It's Short, so It Sucks and not breaking out of the bounds of the ‘military FPS’ formula. Hasn’t stopped it from selling over a million units.
  • Hogs of War was not looked kindly upon by critics, but it remains a Cult Classic amongst gamers for its great humour, excellent voice acting, awesome music and overall being a great party game. As such, its fanbase is small, but fiercely devoted.
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia: This game caters heavily towards otaku who love other Nippon Ichi games. Almost everyone outside of that group (including reviewers) hated it. There’s a whopping 34-point difference between its professional and user reviews on Metacritic. All but two reviewers didn’t give it a positive review. All but one user didn’t give it a negative review, outside of the way healing worked.
  • Another such game is Jaws Unleashed, which sold over 250,000 copies on the Xbox alone despite having a Game Rankings score of 54%. GameSpot later gave the game the “Worst Game Everyone Played of 2006” award accompanied by a video where Alex Navarro expresses his outrage at this game having outsold Psychonauts five times.
  • Jet Set Radio, despite having gotten excellent reviews for its original release, got very mediocre reviews for the HD rerelease, citing its ‘dated’ gameplay and graphics, and horrible camera angles (however, the HD version lets you adjust the camera with the mouse or right analog stick, which adds to much better camera control than in the original version). Sega fans, on the other hand, loved it and thanked Sega for bringing back one of their favorite games from them.
  • Kirby Air Ride is in a similar situation to Gotcha Force, with a lot of critics panning it for the one-button mechanics and the lack of depth while it received much higher user scores due to the major multiplayer focus and City Trial.
  • Left 4 Dead 2 is praised by critics for adding new elements to the game and having maps better than the ones from the original game. Fan opinion is very mixed because it has a zombie outbreak taking place in the daylight, melee weapons, and characters that aren’t as memorable as the original survivors.
  • The Legend of Dragoon received mediocre scores across the board. Players, on the other hand loved the game.
  • The Legend of Spyro trilogy. Critics tended to give them mediocre to outright bad reviews, with a few exceptions (like the Polished Port of the second game available on the Game Boy Advance). However, they managed to get fans (though not necessarily classic Spyro fans), and even spawned their own unique fanbase.
    • Speaking of which, the next Spyro reboot, Skylanders. Positive reviews from critics, and as made evident by impressive sales, a huge hit with the kids; but the reboot is out-and-out loathed by fans of the previous entries of the franchise.
  • Lost Odyssey received middling reviews from Western critics for being a Cliché Storm of the JRPG genre. Its fans thought it was more Troperrific.
  • Lost Planet 2 got mixed reviews from critics but the public seems to think more highly of it.
  • Madden NFL ’13 and NHL ’13 have been praised by many critics for their new features and heavily revamped gameplay. The response to both games among fans, however, has been far more polarizing (as the Amazon.com review pages for both games demonstrates).
  • The Mario Party series is usually met with scorn from critics who constantly cite how the series’ graphics are dated and that the series never seems to add anything new. Fans, on the other hand, like the collection of mini-games to play and the gimmicks used on every board. Mario Party 9 had both camps do a complete turnaround where the critics gave the game some praise for actually trying something different while the fans blasted the game for trying something different.
  • Mass Effect 3 has the average player review on Metacritic being 22% and the average critic review being 95%. This can be traced to the unsatisfactory endings (which were so polarizing that BioWare launched another version with an epilogue), a possible raid by 4chan’s /v/, and some hate for Dragon Age II that seeped into hate for ME3. Also worth noting is that the PC version, which requires use of EA’s extremely unpopular Origin service and caused some people installation problems, has a much lower player review score than the console versions. Many people were up in arms about the day-one DLC, ‘forced’ multiplayer (before the Extended Cut, it wasn’t possible to get enough EMS to unlock all endings from single-player alone).
  • Really common within the Metal Gear franchise. On Metacritic and other sites Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty ranks as the best Metal Gear game but several fans dislike it for Raiden coming out of left field, its convoluted story, Raiden having no real point to the story, overuse of cut scenes, and Raiden not nearly being as Badass 'or' interesting as Snake. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater stands as the most popular game in the franchise by fans and creator Hideo Kojima himself but sites rank it lower due to a lack of a 3D camera (for its original release anyway). Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots took a bigger spot but fans tend to dislike it due to its excessively long cutscenes and everything explained by nanomachines. Another case happens with the spinoff sequel Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance which is reflected in Metacritic and GameRankings whose user review score is considerably higher than the ones from the critics, despite Raiden being the main character like in MGS2 but has been Rescued from the Scrappy Heap.
  • Mega Man Battle Network 4 was one of the very few titles in the whole franchise to reach more than a million sales, possibly because it was the first dual version release. However, it is generally acknowledged by the fandom as the worst game in the BN series (though some consider it at least better than the first game because it’s not an Obvious Beta like the latter).
  • Metroid: Other M: Seemed to get mixed, but generally favorable reviews from critics. Fans, on the other hand, were much more divisive.
    • In contrast, Metroid: Fusion received very good reviews from critics (and is considered one of the best games on the GBA). However, many fans rank it much lower due to its linearity and contrast with the series theme exploration.
  • Mortal Kombat 3. Critics find it to be one of the highest points of the MK series, while fans feel that it was the game that caused the series to go downhill for over a decade until Mortal Kombat 9 came out.
  • New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS received a 96% from The Official Nintendo Magazine, but its relatively easy gameplay has made it unpopular with many fans of the Mario games, with many people agreeing that New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the superior game. This is likely due to the Wii version being the first 2D platforming Mario game to have simultaneous multiplayer, as well as being significantly more difficult, and hilarious to watch when four players are playing simultaneously.
  • NieR: Initially panned by critics for subpar graphics and too many fetch quests, loved by users for the deep, engaging story and killer soundtrack. Doubles somewhat as Vindicated by History.
  • Operation Darkness has a Metacritic critic score of 46 and a user score of 7.1. Professional critics cited problems such as poor camera control, dull graphics, and a lack of in-game tutorial while fans enjoy it for its unique gameplay elements and positively absurd storyline.
  • Pathologic is a bit of a special example, due to it being a really bizarre game. Some reviews (even positive ones) don’t even call it a game. Many critics disliked Pathologic and warned against playing it, saying that it wasn’t fun at all and was far too bleak. Most fans of the game completely agree with this, but love the game’s plot and atmosphere nonetheless.
  • PAYDAY 2 was widely praised by critics for vastly improving mechanics from the first game and adding many new elements to make the game feel new and stand out. Fans, however, blast the game for RNG loot drops, level grinding, and the large amount of DLC being released.
  • Resident Evil 6 is a weird example as it not only split the fans but the critics as well. At best you could possibly make the argument that the fans had mixed opinions but still leaned positive, but the critical reception was all over the place. It seems that the people who enjoyed it the most were those who preferred the more action-heavy RE games (4 and 5) over the earlier survival horror ones.
  • Shenmue got excellent reviews but suffered from poor sales.
  • Silent Hill 4: The Room holds an average score of 76 on Metacritic. Most fans of the series are far less kind, citing multiple frustrating gameplay elements and having to go through each area of the game twice.
  • SimCity (2013 release), much like DMC and Dead Space 3, is also suffering the same exact thing, as evidenced by its poor user reviews on Metacritic. Much of this can be attributed to the critics reviewing it in a controlled environment where the network connectivity served to give some minor enhancements to gameplay. However, when released there was a connectivity fiasco which almost completely broke the game. In EA's rush to fix the issue, many features had to be disabled or dialed down, resulting in the players getting a much worse game experience after they buy it than the reviewers had before it came out.
  • There is an increasing disconnect between fans of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and professional reviewers, from both directions. It does not help that Sonic fans tend to be abnormally rabid in defense of their icon of devotion. It has gotten to the point that many fans of the series outright dismiss reviews from certain outfits due to this dissonance, considering the reviewer/site untrustworthy due to the critic’s past mistakes. For instance:
    • Sonic Chronicles received relatively decent reviews but was not well-liked by fans, mainly due to a mostly forgettable story, and gameplay.
    • Both episodes of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 received this treatment, though fans were much kinder to Part 2.
    • This can even happen when fans and critics agree on a game’s merits (or lack thereof). Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) was universally reviled, but fans were angry because they considered the official critical scores (averaging around 6.5) insufficiently low. It is more divisive now, randing from 'terrible', to 'not that bad', to even 'actually suprisingly good.'
    • Sonic Unleashed had the dissonance happen from the opposite direction. The game received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics (IGN rated it worse than Sonic ’06), but fans — while admitting it was nowhere near perfect — thought it was a huge step in the right direction for the series. Though nobody much liked the Werehog.
    • The Colors era games have been praised as a return to form for the series. Fans, however, are Love It or Hate It, and the hate side is surprisingly vocal. Criticisms include watered-down gameplay, its immature humor-focused story, sappy art direction, sappy ''music'', and being easy (This is far from universal, so don't take it as fact).
    • The Adventure era games are also polarizing, despite praise. Criticisms include Polygon Ceiling, boring characters, boring story, and dated voice acting. Some people have even compared it to 06.
    • Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal got this treatment in contrast to Rise of Lyric which is universally reviled by fans and critics alike (many calling it worse than Sonic ’06!). Most critics despise it as much as they despise Rise of Lyric while fans give it a So Okay, It's Average, the general consensus being that while it has its share of faults, it is a step up from Rise of Lyric due to it being free of technical glitches and at least attempting to feel like a true Sonic game.
  • Similarity, the 2010 Splatterhouse remake was mostly panned by critics whose complaints ranged from a wonky camera to an overreliance on gore. Player feedback, however, was generally much more positive.
  • Star Control 3 was a critics' darling when it was released, reviewers praising its simulation aspects and story, as well as treating the now-infamous puppets and CG effects as quite high-tech for their time. Fans, however, have not been so kind to it, calling it an affront to the series' original creators, who similarly don't treat it as canon in any way, and it's clear that its special effects have not aged well in the slightest.
  • Street Fighter X Tekken. It received eights and nines from mainstream review sites, but faced serious backlash from the fighting game community for a number of reasons (mostly due to the gem system, the Pandora mechanic, the immense watering-down of the Tekken characters, and the various shady business practices involved in its development). It doesn’t help that the game was put out at a time when Capcom’s reputation was being tarnished game after game, with SF X: TK being the breaking point for many. It was also pulled from most official competitions not long after release and is generally considered the weakest entry in the Capcom crossover series.
  • Watch_Dogs has received critical acclaim. However, on Metacritic and Steam, the game hasn’t been received very well, citing the dated graphics (which look nothing like what was shown on the trailers), screwy physics, horrible driving mechanics, bland narrative, and the ‘innovative’ hacking mechanic being nothing more than ‘walk up to a terminal and press X to hack.’ The fact that the PC port requires UPlay regardless of where it’s purchased, and will not run on setups that don’t have N Vidia hardware, also doesn’t help.
  • ZombiU got positive reviews from critics and the public, but wasn’t a huge seller and consequently the game is far from making any profit for its developer Ubisoft. The leading theory is that gamers have become accustomed to zombie games being akin to Resident Evil-style action shooters, and were turned off by ZombiU’s slower pacing and greater emphasis on horror.
  • Many acclaimed and best-selling sequels might earn this, going mostly by the Metacritic review/audience comparison. Being too different (or too similar) and having technical problems — particularly regarding online play — can lead to a flood of negative comments.
  • Diablo III has an average critic review of 87%, while the playbase ranks it as 35%. Through this is due to requirement of being online at all times, the subsequent server problems from overloading (the “Error 37” message even earned Memetic Mutation status), the controversial Auction Houses, severe lag spikes as well as many Game Breaking and server-crashing bugs that came with launch. Luckily most of these bugs were fixed in the first few days, but it was too little, too late in the eyes of many gamers.
    • This seems to have changed with the release of patch 2.0 and the first expansion, Reaper of Souls. While critic scores seem about the same, general consensus among fans seems to be that it is a welcome improvement.
  • Many games from Platinum Games:
    • Madworld’s spinoff, Max Anarchy (aka Anarchy Reigns) was considered average by critics. General gamers, on the other hand, while not enjoying it as much as Madworld, enjoyed it a lot more than the critics did.
    • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was loved by critics, but general gamers, while not considering it a bad game by any means, usually consider it to be Platinum’s weakest effort (that is, until TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan was released, which is so far unanimously considered by both critics and gamers to be their worst game by far), as well as one of the weaker efforts in the Metal Gear series.
    • The Wonderful 101 has been received far better by general gamers than critics. Critics liked it, but found it way too hard and overwhelming, whereas general gamers love it because it’s hard, and doesn’t hold your hand like most modern games do. Most gamers have even went so far as to saying that it ranks with Bayonetta 2 as the best game on the Wii U. However, despite all of this praise, it did not sell very well retail-wise, with the price being cut in half mere months after release, as Nintendo released it the same week as Grand Theft Auto V, and because they gave it lots of Internet advertising but no television advertising whatsoever (outside of Japan, anyway), and all of its Internet advertising has been pushing people to buy it on the Nintendo eShop rather than at retail.
    • The Legend of Korra. Its dissonance is the exact opposite of how the TV show started. Most critics despise it with mixed to negative reviews all around. Fans, on the other hand, are generally more forgiving with the general consensus being that while the game is one of Platinum's weakest games, it is, at the least, considered a decent try.
    • Star Fox Zero. Thanks to controls with a high-end learning curve, the game wasn't too well-received from critics, but gamers that took the time to learn it loved the game and praise it highly.
  • Metro 2033 got a rather flat reaction from critics. Players, on the other hand, apart from those who complained that it wasn’t Fallout 3 or S.T.A.L.K.E.R., fell in love with it, driving sales of the game into the millions. And then Metro: Last Light came around and managed to surpass those sales within its first week … while garnering critical acclaim. The release of Metro 2033 Redux vindicated the first game, as it too has garnered critical acclaim.
  • While Sony’s PlayStation Move has been more critically acclaimed, it hasn’t captured the public imagination as much as the Wiimote and the Kinect has. Some have even argued that the real problem is marketing. Sony barely marketed the Move while Microsoft poured millions into marketing the Kinect. Even today, Sony still treats the Move as an afterthought (which makes the fact that it’s sold nine million units very surprising) while Microsoft has even developed alternate uses for the Kinect (such as use in science classes and medical colleges).
  • Roguelikes in general tend to get the shaft from professional reviewers. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, Shiren the Wanderer and Izuna all received incredibly vitriolic reviews from critics, but to the userbase, they’re some of the best games on the DS.
  • The majority of the games made by SUDA51:
    • Killer7 got very mixed reviews and suffered from poor sales, but the very few gamers that played it quite enjoyed it, and agreed that it was one of the best action games on the GameCube and PS2.
    • Shadows of the Damned was critically acclaimed, getting eights and nines across the board. Suda fans usually consider this to be his worst game, due to it missing the trademark bizarreness and craziness of his other works, for being too slow-paced, and for being a third-person shooter rather than a hack-and-slash.
    • Lollipop Chainsaw got a mixed to average reception from Western critics. Gamers and Japanese critics, on the other hand, found the game to be very good, and a much-needed return-to-form, but found it to be too short. It became SUDA51’s top-selling game of all time, selling 700,000 copies a mere two months after release. In addition, view counts for most YouTube videos of it usually range from 300,000 to four million, and there are far more cosplayers of the Lollipop Chainsaw characters than there are cosplayers of characters from other Suda games.
    • Killer is Dead got mixed reviews from critics. Half of them trashed its combat for not being like Devil May Cry or Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and criticized the story for being all over the place. Also, the game’s Gigolo Mode has caused controversy among professional critics as well. A lot of them calling it ‘perverted’ and some saying the game would kill Suda’s career. Fan reaction was a lot more positive towards the gameplay, and some feeling it’s a good spiritual successor to Killer 7 themes, and No More Heroes play style. As for gigolo mode, most fans did not find it offensive (in fact, many found the controversy overblown), but they didn’t think it was all that special either, feeling the mode was boring and the least interesting part of the game. The only thing gamers, fans, and critics can agree on is that the game is short. Also a case of Values Dissonance, as the game has received higher ratings in Japan, some of which is because of the controversy.
  • StarCraft II received unanimously positive reviews from critics, but reaction from fans and the e-sports community was more mixed. Criticisms focused on whether the game was superior to the original, perceived balance issues, and accusations that the storyline was clichéd and predictable.
  • The Nintendo Wii, as well as many of its games. The dissonance goes both ways. This can likely be explained (in a few cases) by the critic falling outside the target demographic.
  • Numerous games in the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series (specifically Underground 2) are loved by fans yet the critics’ scores imply they are average. The only ones people can agree on are Shred and Ride, which of course hardly anyone could get to work.
  • Guns Of Icarus Online got a Metacritic score of 64, but a user score of 8.8. Part of this dissonance is because the reviewers played a pre-release version of the game that was still somewhat buggy and rated it down for said bugs, despite being told that it was a pre-release version and, thus, not fully finished. Some reviewers also blamed bad experiences on the gameplay, when the real cause was their crewmates.
  • Evolve got reviews ranging from good to great, but it was thrashed by audiences. Though they acknowledged the game was fun enough, they found the game’s pricing model ($60 starting, day-one DLC adding $130 more) to be a ridiculously bad one for a multiplayer-only game, with many opining that the $190 ‘complete’ game was comparable to those a tenth of its asking price.
  • Super Back To The Future Part 2 is hailed as the video-game adaptation of Back to the Future that is so good that it should have gotten a release outside of Japan. Plenty of people who played it gave it decent reviews on gamefaqs. Many people might not know, however, that the only contemporaneous video-game critic of the time (a French critic) who reviewed it, gave it a 40%.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon recieved very lukewarm reviews by critics, who disliked the repetitive gameplay and felt that the roguelike style was unsuited for Pokemon. Players disagreed, and there's a common consensus among the Pokemon fanbase that the games have the best soundtracks and stories of the entire franchise. Even more amusingly, Gates to Infinity, the third installment which was generally disdained by players, received slightly better reviews than its predecessors.

    Web Originals 
  • Lots of the stuff reviewed on The Bad Webcomics Wiki is this.
  • Internet Reviewers, like The Nostalgia Critic, try their best to avert this. If they don't do their research on movies that are based on TV shows, comics, or any other media the work is based on before reviewing them, they get torn apart by the viewers. He later discussed this very trope in When Are Critics Wrong?
  • The Cinema Snob was made as a response to this trope. Brad Jones created his snob-persona to MST Exploitation Films because he felt it was weird that film critics panned those films for lacking qualities they weren’t supposed to have.
  • Bob Chipman addressed this trope in his reviews of The Eagle and Knight and Day. He feels that the reason for the disconnect between critics and the ‘average’ moviegoer is because critics watch and pick apart hundreds of movies per year as part of their job and have learned how to spot every trope and plot twist from a mile away, making them much more receptive to original, offbeat movies that go against their expectations. Meanwhile, people who don’t see more than one movie a week (i.e. most non-critics) can better appreciate films that are cliched but well-made on the technical side, and find arthouse films that challenge "traditional" genre boundaries to be off-putting.
  • Chipman returned to the subject after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice came out to negative reviews but massive box-office, discussing how the idea of critics being out-of-touch with what the people want is a perennial concept that is as old as creative expression itself. He notes that, sometimes, time can vindicate the masses, using the Fast & the Furious films as an example; while critics previously dismissed them as dumb car chase flicks, they're now generally praised as one of the most progressive franchises in Hollywood and damn good action movies on top of it. In the case of superhero films, however, he feels that the idea of Critical Dissonance applying to the genre as a whole is mostly a fanboy myth, noting that critics' and fans' opinions have tended to line up more often than not — critics have long been friendly to superhero movies that were actually good (like Superman: The Movie, The Dark Knight, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Deadpool), while the ones they tend to dislike (such as Batman & Robin, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Green Lantern, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2) were generally hated by fans and moviegoers as well.
  • A recurring theme in House To Astonish is comics that are praised to the skies, but nobody actually reads, and which are therefore doomed to be cancelled after six issues, no matter how good they might be. However, rather than suggest there's a dichotomy between what comics critics like and what the public like, Al and Paul reckon that comics readers have been trained to believe that anything outside the norm (which is what critics tend to like) isn't worth picking up because it won't affect the DC/Marvel Meta Plot and will probably be cancelled after six issues anyway.
  • Discussed in this article by Shamus Young on The Escapist, which asks why critics are so frequently enamored of ‘art games’ like The Stanley Parable and Gone Home that are usually Cult Classics at best and Love It or Hate It at worst. Much like Bob Chipman above, he argues that merely being a professional critic changes a person’s outlook on, and taste in, games or movies away from that of their audience. While mainstream moviegoers or gamers won’t complain about an overused trope or cliché if it’s done well, critics will roll their eyes at the mere sight of it.
  • The Zagat’s Guides are a series of books rating numerous venues (restaurants, shops, etc.) in over 70 cities. Following the alphabetical index, places are grouped into categories, one of which is ‘Critic-Proof’ — places that consistently do good business despite mediocre food/service/merchandise. Even when the patrons themselves attest to the mediocrity.

    Western Animation 
  • Almost Naked Animals really hasn’t gone over well with fans (ratings from TV.com and IMDb have hovered in the 2.0 to 3.0 range), but the few mainstream reviewers who did pay any attention to the show found it decent. It was also nominated for a Gemini Award, sold lots of merchandise, and been green-lit for a third season — things that do not usually happen to shows ranking that low with viewers.
  • Breadwinners, despite being popular with its target audience and being greenlit for a second season, has almost universally been panned by YouTube critics and adult viewers.
  • Sanjay and Craig is another example of being popular with children, but hated by critics and adults.
  • Hanna-Barbera has a library running on this trope. On critical pieces they are the leaders of The Dark Age of Animation. Most classic animation critics only like the original Tom and Jerry cartoons (1940–58) and feel that as soon as the studio made the move to TV animation their work became awful. These people must be flustered year after year when Warner Bros. throws so many bones to home video releases and promoting them than the more critically hailed parts of the library. No critics in existence have anything nice to say about Scooby-Doo either, but there's a reason it's existed in some way, shape or form for over 40 years.
  • Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain is typically seen as an unneeded retool of a series that was already doing fine, not to mention the entire concept was simply lit by Executive Meddling, to the point that it went unmentioned when the original Pinky and the Brain series was released on DVD. Critics loved it, though, and it won several awards (including an Emmy) during its really short run.
  • The G3 My Little Pony specials are not well-liked by the general public, but several specials score around six or seven on IMDb.
  • The animated pilot The Groovenians was panned by both audiences and reviewers, yet was nominated for an Annie Award.
  • Drawn Together was despised by critics (to the point where the show made an episode about it after Entertainment Weekly gave the show an F), yet it managed to gain a cult following during its relatively short run.
  • The first half of season 1 of BoJack Horseman had a critical response that could be summed up as So Okay, It's Average. It’s currently rated by Metacritic users at an 8.3. It’s subverted as critics eventually came around once the show grew the beard, with Season 2 earning a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Duckman received great reviews from TV critics, intellectuals and people who liked its satirical bite. But the general public didn’t catch on to it and after three seasons it was cancelled.
  • Family Guy: Extraordinarily popular with regular viewers, and some critics, but other critics feel it’s very lowbrow, formulaic and just rips off other franchises under the moniker ‘parody’ while much of it just feels more like ‘plagiarism’, especially in the later seasons.
  • Brickleberry was disparaged as a wannabe Family Guy clone, yet the Internet Movie Database gives the show a 6.2 score, meaning it’s So Okay, It's Average.
  • Teen Titans Go! is hated by purists of the original series who feel this show is an insult to the original and a Replacement Scrappy for Young Justice. However, critics have given it mixed to positive reviews and it is Cartoon Network's highest rated show.
  • The Legend of Korra has been well-recieved by critics with positive reviews all around. Fans, on the other hand, have more mixed reception. This changed starting with season 3, when the series won back the crowd after its polarizing second season; now it's just as loved by fans as it is with critics.
  • Season 6 of Adventure Time received praise for its newfound cosmic, Contemplate Our Navels nature, citing it as an example of the show's growing maturation. However, Season 6 is considered to be Love It or Hate It by fans for the same reasons. Many were put off by the show's newfound philosophizing and considered the new direction pretentious, ridiculous and Anti-climactic, complete with the stereotype that after Pen stepped down, the writing was taken over by Hipsters with too much Protection from Editors.

    Other 
  • Nearly all design enthusiasts loathe the fonts Comic Sans and Papyrus, yet lots of ordinary people love them. They even turn up on signs for local businesses, and provide Painting the Medium moments for Sans and Papyrus in Undertale.
  • Mosin-Nagant rifles. You’d be hard-pressed to find a professional reviewer who would have much nice to say about them while complaining about the sights, the straight bolt handle, the action, and the rimmed cartridge. People who shoot Mosins, however, tend to say that all the flaws found within the rifles are what give them character. Both sides can agree on two things though: Mosin-Nagant rifles have literally more than a century of history in them (designed before the turn of the 20th century, and some still in service to this very day!), and they are absolutely indestructible.
  • Pornography and Erotica. Sought out and bought by many adults and a very popular genre. But the eternal It's Not Porn, It's Art discussion proves that many of these works are still seen as nothing more but cheap arousal and gratification. Even people who frequently check it out will not attribute any artistic quality, depth or longevity to it. Some classic erotic novels (Kama Sutra, Lady Chatterley's Lover), erotic paintings, photographs and graphic art (Félicien Rops, Thomas Rowlandson, Tom of Finland), erotic comics (Milo Manara) and a few films (In the Realm of the Senses) have received critical praise, but aren’t seen as exactly ‘titillating’ — crossing with Values Dissonance, a work that was shocking and explicit when it came out is now considered tame in the light of a culture when sexual imagery is much more the norm.

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