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Critical Dissonance
"Well, I liked it."
"While on television, it's one of the great punching bags of Doctor Who: Underworld. A story that I could simply and cavalierly lay into for a myriad of faults and get absolutely no comments from anybody suggesting that I was being too hard on the story or being unfair. This is the one Tom Baker story to slot in the bottom ten on the Doctor Who Magazine Mighty 200 poll. Lawrence Miles declares it the worst story of the 1970s. It's crap. it's garbage. I kinda liked it."
Phil Sandifer on Doctor Who, "Underworld"

Critical Dissonance is polar opposition of public to critical opinion. For instance there's a music album the critics love, but the general public doesn't share their high praise for it, or vice versa where the critics hate it but the general public loves it.

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, 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. 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.

Some more 'official' ways to measure Critical Dissonance are either comparing a media's revenue to its reviews, or that somehow get nominated for both 'best' and 'worst' awards.

The fact that the main difference between the average audience viewer and the average critic consists of a better vocabulary, an idealized view of the importance of their own opinion, and employment in the area 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 die hards. Possibly the cause of Mainstream Obscurity.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Naruto. Among casual 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."
  • All incarnations of Yu-Gi-Oh! have been huge financial successes and run for years, but lots of people outside the demographic consider them to be little more than Snark Bait.
  • Black Bird is one of the bestselling shoujo manga in recent years yet most mainstream anime/manga reviewers have given it lukewarm to negative reviews (with some even being openly disgusted by it)

  • Abstract art by established artists in general. Might be a work of genius to critics, worth millions of dollars to collectors, but the general public goes, "What the hell is so special about a blank canvas/a black square on white ground/paint splattered at random?"
  • On the rare occasions public input is sought on architecture, it tends to favor classicism, stateliness, and pre-Bauhaus ornament. For generations, though, architecture criticism (and practice) has been a largely closed shop dedicated to either spare modernism or deconstructive, pomo building-block structures.
  • 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 "artworld snobbery".
  • The works of Thomas Kinkade, "Painter of Light," 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.

    Directors and Actors 
  • Adam Sandler's entire career is built on this trope, and it goes both ways. Only two of the movies that he was in that cracked 50% on Rotten Tomatoes made back their budgets (The Wedding Singer and Happy Gilmore), while every single one of his movies that came in under 50% was successful with audiences. 1998's The Waterboy, for instance, was panned by most critics but was one of the highest-grossing movies that year, while 2002's Punch Drunk Love ended up being his most critically acclaimed movie, but also his least financially successful one. There was a period of time in the early 2010s when everyone seemed to come into agreement about Sandler — both Jack and Jill and That's My Boy were slammed by critics and, significantly, failed to make back their budgets (at least in America). But then he headlined a hit animated film with Hotel Transylvania, and his return to live action with Grown Ups 2 became another big success for him, to critics' horror, restoring the status quo.
  • All of the films of the duo of Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg were panned by professional critics and Internet reviewers alike, and typically rank on lists of the worst comedies ever made, but (apart from Disaster Movie) they all made enough money to be profitable given their low budgets.
  • Johnny Depp's faced this of late with the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels (the original was critically acclaimed) and Alice in Wonderland. The films were pilloried by critics, despairing that he's squandering his gifts by sticking with such Large Ham, Spectacle-driven fare instead of the smaller, "serious" films he built his artistic reputation on. Nevertheless, audiences flocked to them; the second and fourth Pirates films and Alice pulled down grosses of over a billion dollars each worldwide. When The Lone Ranger, which was patterned after the Pirates films, became a Box Office Bomb, critics were effectively given free rein to beat up on Depp and his recent career choices — never mind that, beyond these "wacky" roles paying him well, he likes to play them. Given that Depp wasn't an A-lister until the first Pirates caused his popularity to skyrocket, there's an undercurrent of It's Popular, Now It Sucks to all this.
  • The entire career of Michael Bay is built upon this. The only film of his to get any respect from critics is The Rock.
  • Similarly, the films of Roland Emmerich.
  • As shown by the page image, the works of Tyler Perry get consistently negative reviews from critics, but fan response (more specifically the actual target demographic) is positive.
    • The underperformance of A Madea Christmas and The Single Moms Club may indicate that this is no longer the case.

    Films — Animated 
  • Audiences were mixed about Antz, but critics liked it.
  • Most critics either hated or didn't understand the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie, but it was well-received by fans, though some of them criticized it for its Pacing Problems.
  • Cars 2 was not well-received by critics (38% on Rotten Tomatoes) but audiences flocked to see it like they did with the first (although not to the same extent as previous Pixar movies).
    • Considering Pixar's track record to that point, people found it hard to believe that they had stumbled.
  • The Croods. Most critics found it to be So Okay, It's Average, but it more than held its own at the box office.
  • The Disney Animated Canon has a few examples, especially during its two "Dark Ages" (c. 1970 - 1988 and c. 2000 - 2008):
    • Robin Hood was critically reviled upon its release, and still doesn't warrant very positive reviews upon re-releases. Audiences, loved it, however, and still do.
    • The Black Cauldron: was apparently released on VHS because of fan protest. Yet, it has always had very lukewarm critical reception, and for the record, is barely remembered.
    • Oliver & Company: critics hated the animation, the characters, and cited the plot as a Cliché Storm. However the movie itself was a pretty big hit, grossing about $75 million on its initial release (which was almost as much as the total gross of Disney's previous three films combined).
    • Pocahontas was reviewed as "pretentious" and hated for being historically inaccurate. Despite this, it's still in league with Disney's most popular films of all time, the main character is still a Disney Princess and people still have great love for it.
    • Atlantis: The Lost Empire is the biggest Cult Classic in the Disney canon, despite being thrashed violently by critics.
    • Brother Bear seems to be fairly well-liked in the Disney fandom, yet it received only 38% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.
    • Chicken Little received generally negative reviews from critics, and many Disney fans, in retrospect, consider it one of the weakest films in the Disney Animated Canon. Despite this, the film made $135 million at the domestic box office (their biggest domestic hit since Lilo & Stitch) and $314 million worldwide (their biggest worldwide hit since Dinosaur).
  • Hotel Transylvania received generally mixed critical reception; it currently holds a Critics Score of 45% ("Rotten") on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences, however, view it quite differently; the audience score on the aforementioned Rotten Tomatoes is currently at 72% ("Fresh"), it set a box-office record for the largest September film opening ever (previously held by Sweet Home Alabama), was the highest-grossing film for Sony Pictures Animation up to that point (previously a record held by The Smurfs) and was an overall box-office success, taking in $358,375,603 in the worldwide box office against a modest budget of $85 million. A sequel is also due out in September 2015.
  • Legends Of Oz Dorothys Return was utterly reviled by critics, while audiences who did see it enjoyed it.
  • The Nut Job was very poorly received by critics (11% on Rotten Tomatoes), but it was successful at the box office (due in part to being released during a Dump Month) and has down-the-middle audience ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb.
  • Critics hated Planes, basically equating it to a shameless ripoff of Cars (despite being a spin-off, which means it's canonically part of the Cars franchise) meant to sell more toys. This didn't stop the film from making back its budget.
  • Pokémon: The First Movie did poorly with critics, but ended up being the highest grossing anime film released in the United States. While most audiences certainly didn't love it because of its inaccessibility to those unfamiliar with the series, it did fairly well with fans. Same goes for the other Pokémon movies.
  • The Mexican animated movie El Santos vs La Tetona Mendoza. While the movie itself got more or less good reviews by critics, on the other hand the Mexican audience didn't share the same opinion. And for a very good reason: The whole movie is a giant middle-finger against the Mexican culture.
  • Transformers: The Movie was trashed by critics for being a 90-minute film about toys, and was not a big hit due to the mass slaughter of beloved characters in favor of new ones. Yet, it's a fan favorite; even among fans who came into the franchise from newer adaptations.

    Films — Live-Action 
Movie critics in general tend to be biased against genre films (Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction). Of particular note in horror are the Friday the 13th and the Saw series: the first movies of each franchise received only mediocre reviews while the sequels have been dismissed nearly on principle, but both have gathered a devoted following among horror fans. There are exceptions to this, but the genres have to be toned down. For instance, critics are a little bit more accepting of Low Fantasy to High Fantasy, Psychological/Supernatural Thrillers to pure Horror, and Hard Sci-fi to Pulp Sci-Fi. To be fair, this also goes for the viewing public as well. Exemplified by The Last Exorcism below.

Summer blockbusters likewise tend to fare much better with the audience than the critics; one of the modern Trope Codifiers was Independence Day (which got mostly good reviews from critics but enthusiastic responses from viewers). The dissonance here arises from professional critics approaching the movies on a much different level, and with entirely different expectations, than the intended audience.

  • Here are ten examples of "Critics love, fanboys hate" (though mostly on Broken Base or Hype Backlash as all earned money in the box office). Unsurprisingly, 7 are sequels\prequels\reboots, while one is Genre Adultery (Robert Rodriguez going out from banditos and horror to Spy Kids), one is popularity-induced hatred (Titanic) and one for fans of the original work (The Departed).
  • Act of Valor was poorly received by the critics (29% on Rotten Tomatoes) but the audience as a whole (particularly support-our-troops Republicans) tend to love it (84% on the same website).
  • The live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks movies (The Squeakquel in particular) have received nothing but hate from most critics. That hasn't stopped the three films from being financially successful. The fact that The Squeakquel outsold The Princess and the Frog made Disney fans join the critics, and it got worse in 2011 when the third film (Chipwrecked), while not as high a grosser as the previous two entries, outperformed The Muppets, Hugo, Arthur Christmas, The Adventures of Tintin and We Bought a Zooall of which received significantly better reviews. That being said, most adult audiences hate this franchise as well.
  • The action film Billy Jack and its sequel, The Trial of Billy Jack, were viewed as jokes by critics in The Seventies, but they were so popular with audiences that Tom Laughlin, the star, director, and co-writer of the films, organized an essay contest in which fans wrote rebuttals to the terrible reviews that Trial received.
  • The Boondock Saints was trashed by critics as a "poor man's Tarantino", holding a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from professional critics... and a 92% from fans on the same site (as well as a 7.9 on IMDb), who have turned the film into a Cult Classic and a St. Patrick's Day tradition.
  • The Butterfly Effect got a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes but a 7.7/10.0 on IMDB. It was also a box office success.
  • Orson Welles' most famous movie, Citizen Kane, was received with critical acclaim and box office indifference (mostly caused by being backlashed by no one else but William Randolph Hearst himself).
  • Cloud Atlas received polarizing but mostly positive reviews (Roger Ebert gave it four out of four stars and called it one of the most ambitious films ever made) and was nominated for a number of awards. Audiences, however, roundly ignored the film, and it ended up becoming a Box Office Bomb.
  • Die Hard franchise:
    • Die Hard with a Vengeance was somewhat divisive to critics (though its reputation has improved since then), but was still the highest-grossing film of 1995 and well-received by fans.
    • Years later, A Good Day To Die Hard got terrible reviews and good box office - even if fans of the series hated it with a passion.
  • The film adaptation of Divergent received mixed reviews from critics, but was generally well-received by audiences and fans of the book. That same weekend, Muppets Most Wanted was released, which was very well-liked by critics, but with the hype surrounding Divergent mixed in with strong competition from Mr. Peabody & Sherman and The Lego Movie, the young-adult adaptation had a massive $55 million opening, while the Jim Henson franchise drew in a disappointing $17 million.
  • Death Wish 3 has a negative critical reception, but has a positive fan reception.
  • Doctor Zhivago received negative reviews at the time of its release, but audiences didn't care and it became one of the most popular movies of the 1960s. Ditto for director Creator/David Lean's next film, Ryan's Daughter, which got even worse reviews and middling box office returns, but was a smash hit in London.
  • Dredd has gotten highly favorable reviews, but more or less bombed.
  • Equilibrium has a 37% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but has a score of 7.6 out of 10 on IMDB.
  • Both 2000s Fantastic Four movies were disliked by the critics in general, but both were box office hits. However, unlike more acclaimed superhero movies such as The Dark Knight and The Avengers, audiences weren't particularly fond of it, either.
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra got bad reviews, several Razzie nominations and hate from audiences and $300 million worldwide. G.I. Joe: Retaliation got even worse reviews and performed even better with $370 million (though with less domestically) and with fans finding it a better G.I. Joe adaptation.
  • The original Godzilla, when it first premiered in Japan just nine years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was utterly hated by critics, who felt that it was exploiting the tragedy in the name of spectacle. It didn't help that, in March of the year it came out, a Japanese fishing boat was exposed to radiation from the nuclear test at Bikini Atoll, producing history's first victim of the hydrogen bomb.
  • Gothika made back more than triple its $40m budget despite being critically reviled.
  • The Great Gatsby got mixed reviews for its overblown style, but it did very well at the box office and is well-liked by many.
  • The Hangover Part II. Critics bashed it (for among other things, recycling the plot while adding gross-out factor), audiences loved it.
  • Hansel And Gretel Witch Hunters made back its $50 million budget at the box office worldwide despite less than stellar reviews from critics and negative reception from audiences.
  • Haywire was well-received by critics (80% on Rotten Tomatoes), who are usually familiar with Steven Soderbergh's films, but hated by audiences (a D- on Cinemascore) who expected more of a Hollywood-style action film (the film was even promoted as being like the director's Ocean's Eleven). The same thing happened with the director's Contagion, which had an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes but a C- on Cinemascore (but least was profitable with over $135 million worldwide, unlike Haywire, which barely recouped its budget).
  • The first part of Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Hobbit has received mostly positive but mixed reviews, even without considering the debate over the High Frame Rate version (it helps that it's often considered to be overlong and was a Tough Act to Follow to a really acclaimed trilogy). Nonetheless by the end of only its third weekend in release has already earned greater than half a billion dollars globally (and finished its BO run with over a billion, the second Tolkien movie to do so). While barely registering as "fresh" at 65% on Rotten Tomatoes among critics, audiences give it a much higher 80% Fresh.
  • The first Home Alone film got mixed reviews and the second was utterly panned, but both were box office successes, have become beloved Christmas fixtures and Kevin's scream face has become almost as much of a pop culture icon as the Munch painting that inspired it.
  • The Hurt Locker was widely acclaimed by critics, who applauded what they saw as a realistic war movie, but not so much by viewers. In fact, some former and current military personnel that have seen it, especially Iraq vets, felt that it was unrealistic to the point where it was almost insulting. It became the lowest grossing Best Picture Academy Award winner of all time — and some moviegoers have argued that the award should have gone to Inglourious Basterds or Avatar.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was acclaimed by most critics and has a 78% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet its score on IMDB is 6.4, and hardcore fans felt it was disappointing, especially due to its reviled Twist Ending.
  • Identity Thief was despised by critics, but that didn't stop it from becoming a box office juggernaut.
  • Oh boy, Juno. Highly acclaimed by critics, and made lots of money at the box office, but is one of the most despised movies on the internet. Just go to its IMDb page, you'll see that the entire first page of reviews considered the most helpful are all negative.
  • Justin Bieber's Never Say Never was a massive hit thanks to his fanbase, but reviews were so-so and general audiences could not care less. The sequel, Believe, bombed terribly due to the fact that most of his rabid tween followers have abandoned him.
  • Kick-Ass 2 was poorly received by critics and most filmgoers (as the dip in both review aggregators and the box office numbers shows). However, many of the fans of both the film and the comic loved it - 41 on Metacritic, 28% on Rotten Tomatoes... and a User Score of 78 and 69% .
  • Killing Them Softly re-teamed The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford's star Brad Pitt with its director Andrew Dominik. It opened to critical acclaim, hailed by many critics as one of the best crime dramas in years... and also received an "F" Cinemascore from moviegoers, one of only two movies that year (the other being The Devil Inside, which saw far more agreement between critics and moviegoers) to be dishonored in such a manner. Needless to say, it bombed in theaters and became Pitt's lowest-grossing wide release film in nearly two decades.
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was a critically Acclaimed Flop at the box office, but most people who did see it really enjoyed it. The film was later named Most Overlooked Movie Of The Year.
  • Kung Pow! Enter the Fist was received poorly by critics, but is a Cult Classic for its lowbrow comedy and So Bad, It's Good nature.
  • Critics gave The Last Castle 52% on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences were a lot more forgiving, giving it 75%.
  • Law Abiding Citizen earned $126 million worldwide and has a good IMDB score of 7.4 out of 10. Reviews were mostly scathing due to plot holes and excessive violence.
  • Let Me In got rave reviews from film critics, but did so-so at the box office. Some people believe that the low turnout was due to people who refused to go see it out of sheer bitter spite (or on simple principle) because it's an American remake of a foreign film. But what really killed Let Me In was distributor Relativity Media (who acquired the film from Starz due to buying the Overture distribution outlet from them) giving the film the Invisible Advertising treatment. There were few trailers or TV spots released and the film wasn't even listed on Relativity's website. Not helping the film was that the company chose to open it the same day as The Social Network (a film Relativity co-financed with Sony).
  • Magic Mike, despite being Best Known for the Fanservice (the movie is about male strippers), is actually liked more by critics than by the general public. Its Rotten Tomatoes critics score is 80%, meanwhile its audience score is 62% and on IMDb is 6.1/10 stars. This may be because a lot of the general public found the fanservice off-putting (especially since it's Female Gaze) and couldn't pay attention to the plot.
  • Among the movies in Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Rotten Tomatoes lists Iron Man 2 as the second least well-received (75%), yet it also became the third highest-grossing of those movies (behind Iron Man 1 and The Avengers). Inversely, Captain America: The First Avenger has the third-highest RT rating (behind those two as well), but also, the second-lowest box office gross (above only The Incredible Hulk), and the lowest IMDB score.
  • The indie western Meek's Cutoff is infamous for this: critics love it for its unorthodox, realist take on its genre, whereas average movie goers are left disappointed by its slow pacing and inconclusive ending.
  • Moonraker is widely thought of as one of the worst James Bond movies, if not the worst, but it was the highest grossing film in the franchise until GoldenEye was released.
    • Only if not adjusting for inflation, then the title still belonged to Thunderball, being in the top 10 highest grossing films of all time internationally. It took nearly 50 years for another Bond film to surpass it.
  • Mom's Night Out currently has 17% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the audience rating is 91%.
  • The original Night of the Living Dead if you believe that. Initial reaction by the critics was mixed to negative, while horror fans thought it was groundbreaking (but even some of them were shocked by it). A decade later it was Vindicated by History. Roger Ebert tried to explain the critical dissonance, saying "I don't think the audience really knew what hit them." His review mentions that he saw the movie at what was a typical location for horror movies of the time (read: monster movies with awful special effects) - a kiddie theater.
  • Noah received very good reviews from critics (a 77% on Rotten Tomatoes), but earned a much more lackluster response from the audience, in spite of it being a financial success (it made around 359 million worldwide on a 125 million dollar budget, but a very low 44% on RT and a 6.1 on IMDB). It's hard to tell if it's because of its controversial changes, its source material, or its own merits as a film.
  • The Notebook has considerable praise by the general public, but major reaction from critics was mixed. A good example of this is the IMDB rating (7.9 out of 10) compared to the Rotten Tomatoes rating (52%).
  • Now You See Me was rated "Rotten" at 50% on Rotten Tomatoes but the "regular" folks at Cinema Score rate it an A-.
  • October Baby received horrible reviews, making number three on the A.V. Club's worst movies of 2012 and earning a mere 22% on Rotten Tomatoes. Nevertheless, conservative Christian audiences ate it up, and the film looks set to become a Cult Classic.
  • One For The Money. A whopping 2% on Rotten Tomatoes and bombed at the box office, but fans of the book series the film was based on really enjoyed it and the film did considerably better once it reached DVD and Blu-ray.
  • The Other Woman received generally negative reviews from critics (23% on Rotten Tomatoes) but still did pretty good at the box office (making over $150 million worldwide against a $40 million budget) and was pretty well-received by audiences (67% on Rotten Tomatoes).
  • Out Cold was panned by reviewers giving it an 8% on Rotten Tomatoes. But the film immediately gained a small cult following, as it has an 85% user rating on that site.
  • Oz: The Great and Powerful received mixed reviews, but proved to be a box-office success.
  • Patch Adams was panned by critics and a lot of people hate it (including the man it's based on), but it was successful at the box office.
  • The Police Academy series was always critically panned. Some will try to tell you that only the first film was good, but even that received a critical drubbing (Roger Ebert rated the original no stars, something he almost never did). The series' reputation is so bad that any time it's referred to in other fiction, it's always intended as a Take That, never as an affectionate Shout-Out. And yet the original spawned six sequels, which doesn't happen to a series if absolutely nobody likes it.
  • All five live-action Resident Evil movies got negative reviews, but they were successful at the box office. For the most part, it seems people who enjoyed the games hated the movies for being Name Only Sequels, while people who were unfamiliar with the games could enjoy the film for what it is: an over-the-top cheesy action zombie thriller.
  • Safe Haven was ravaged by critics but it made back its budget at the box offices three times over.
  • Scary Movie 5 on Rotten Tomatoes has a critical rating of 5% and an audience rating of (brace yourselves) 79%. And still managed to open at #2 and finish with more than triple of its budget.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was a critically lauded movie that nobody initially cared about outside its cult following. But it sold big time on home video due to positive word-of-mouth and the slight success of the comic series it was based on.
  • Scrooged. Critics absolutely hated it when it came out — it holds an abysmal 33 rating on Metacritic — yet audiences loved it, and today it's regarded as a Christmas classic and one of Bill Murray's best movies.
  • Audiences reacted much more positively to The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty than critics did.
  • Seven Pounds was slammed by critics for its implausible plot as well as being grim and morose. It did well at the box office however, and currently holds an average score of 7.6 out of 10 on IMDB.
  • Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining was so poorly received that it was nominated for two Razzies (one for Shelley Duvall for Worst Actress, the other for Kubrick for Worst Director). In a talk with Kubrick, Steven Spielberg even admitted to Kubrick that he didn't like it (though the conversation and rewatches eventually led him to improve his opinion). While its stature has greatly improved since then, coming to be regarded as one of the great horror films of the era, Stephen King still regards it as one of the worst adaptations of his work, mainly due to the liberties that Kubrick took with his story.
  • The 2002 remake of Solaris received generally positive reviews from critics (66% on Rotten Tomatoes), but audiences hated it. It received an "F" grade from audiences polled by Cinemascore, the first film to ever get this "honor."
  • Audiences and critics alike had incredibly mixed feelings towards Space Jam, but it was a financial success, and both Siskel and Ebert, who happen to be critics themselves, liked it.
  • The 2009 Canadian sci-fi/horror film Splice was a critical hit due to being different than most horror films. Audiences, meanwhile, got turned off by it for the same reason.
  • Spring Breakers was well received by critics, with some calling it an instant Cult Classic. Audience opinions were more mixed.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness was a box office success and got great reviews... while also being hated by hardcore Trekkers, who went as far as choosing it as the worst Star Trek movie. It's Popular, Now It Sucks and They Copied It, So It Sucks are also at hand for impopularity.
  • The Star Wars prequel trilogy received far more respect from the critics than the mainstream opinion might have you believe: Attack of the Clones scored 67% on Rotten Tomatoes and Revenge of the Sith 80% on their original releases. (The Phantom Menace was Fresh too, but with the 3-D re-release, was pulled down to a Rotten 57%.)
  • Street Fighter: The Movie was very negatively received by critics, but that didn't stop it from earning lots of money during the holiday season of 1994.
  • Sucker Punch started to become a cult classic after barely making back its budget and being criticized by many reviewers.
  • Superman Returns received very strong reviews upon release, but not only it divided fans, but has seen increasing backlash from both viewers and critics since its release in 2006 — which continues to grow even more severe with the release of Man of Steel.
  • Taken: the public loved it, but critics were mostly mixed about it. The sequel even more as reviewers hated it, but did financially well as its predecessor despite being much less respected.
  • The Thing (1982) retroactively is this. It counts due to the fact that people like it now, but most mainstream critics haven't changed their negative opinions about it, unlike say Blade Runner.
  • Chris Farley and David Spade's movies together, Tommy Boy and Black Sheep, were both poorly received by critics (the former made Roger Ebert's "Most Hated Films" list, and Gene Siskel proudly said the latter was one of only two movies he'd ever walked out on in 26 years of reviewing), but they were well received by audiences.
  • Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life. Althought at the time of its premiere critics were divided (receiving both boos and standing ovations at Cannes), it went on to achieve a 85% at Rotten Tomatoes. Moviegoers hated it, and it has been known that certain cinemas have received complains of people asking for their money back. It's no help that the film may be either the most beautiful examination of life or the biggest example of how True Art Is Incomprehensible.
  • The Underworld movies all got mediocre-to-negative reviews from critics, but each one was a box office hit and audience reviews were much more favorable.
  • Critics have been mixed towards We're the Millers, with some outright hating the film, but the film has proven to be a financial success and scored better with audiences.
  • Wild Hogs has a whopping 14% average based on over 100 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite that, the audience score is 72%, and it returned over 4 times its budget in the box office.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand had the worst reviews but the best box office results out of the original X-Men trilogy.
  • It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns, every Stanley Kubrick film and Psycho weren't taken seriously by a good chunk of professional critics, despite being popular from the start. They have thankfully all been Vindicated by History.

    Film criticism 
There have been at least two points in history where critical dissonance got to such a point that it led to a paradigm shift within film criticism in general.
  • The first was in the late '60s and early '70s, when a new generation of young, snarky writers like Roger Ebert and Pauline Kael became the most popular new voices in film criticism. Kael in particular is worth noting because The New York Times went out and hired her as their lead critic due to her glowing review of Bonnie and Clyde, which their former lead critic Bosley Crowther had panned, in the pages of The New Yorker. Bonnie and Clyde, of course, went on to become a pop culture phenomenon and is now regarded as one of the foundational films of New Hollywood.
  • The second was in the late '90s and early '00s, when the internet emerged as a media tool and the likes of Harry Knowles et al. overturned the film critics that came of age during the New Hollywood era. One major online movie site, JoBlo's Movie Emporium, got its start specifically because of a group of guys who loved Armageddon and thought that the critics were wrong about it.

  • 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.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey is in the same boat, which is fitting considering it began life as a Twilight fanfic. It's 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.
  • The Mike Hammer books by Mickey Spillane were hated by critics back in the day, and to a great extent 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."
  • A fan of the cult-classic book (and movie) Mommie Dearest would probably be shocked to find how much critics hated it. Faye Dunaway said she wished she didn't act 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 there's a much larger number of people who will avoid it like the plague. What's funny is that Twilight 's original target demographic has by now outgrown the books themselves.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrested Development was hugely acclaimed, but due to the show being remarkably different from anything else on television at the time, almost no one watched it during its original three-season run. It has since become a cult classic and has been revived by Netflix for a fourth season. A feature film and fifth season are also apparently forthcoming. On the other hand, a lot of critics panned the fourth season.
  • Community received unanimously positive reviews from critics during its first three seasons and was widely regarded as one of, if not the best comedy on television. In return, it received extremely low ratings (it has been on the verge of cancellation since its first season) and has never won a major Emmy or Golden Globe award.
  • Undateable was thrashed by critics, but viewers who watched it fell in love with it. It has a critics' rating of 38% on Rotten Tomatoes while the audience rating is currently at 91%.
  • Chuck was a critical darling that earned rave reviews from critics, and was a perennial contender in many viewers' choice awards categories. Unfortunately, it received only a cult following and ratings dwindled throughout its five-season run in what many fans viewed as a bizarre combination of Saved By The Network and Screwed by the Network.
  • Dads received almost universally negative reviews from critics (15 on Metacritic), though audiences responded more positively (5.4 rating on IMDB).
  • Likewise, Joss Whedon's Firefly was critically lauded, but thanks to heavy doses of Executive Meddling and Screwed by the Network, wasn't able to find an audience until after its cancellation.
    • Then there's Serenity, with a strong 82% Fresh rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and near-universal acclaim from fans of the series (89% Fresh among audiences). Unfortunately, that failed to translate into box office success and the film failed to break even.
  • Full House and many other "T.G.I.F." family sitcoms had a large amount of this. Critics despised Full House, yet it was a ratings smash, and started off the Olsen Twins' career (which also had Critical Dissonance — Roger Ebert once stated that they had no talents any normal person could have).
  • The HBO series Girls is praised by critics, but is polarizing among most viewers. The show receives extensive coverage with lengthy reviews and feature articles on many TV review websites, such as AV Club, to the point where it is often referenced in reviews for other shows. Despite this, the highest rated episode got just upwards of 1 million viewers, which is less than even the lowest rated NBC show. It doesn't help that it comes on a channel that many Americans don't get.
  • Critics adore Happy Endings, although that hasn't translated into a ratings success. ABC started their own "Save the Show" campaign; that may or not be a good thing.
  • The fifth season episode of How I Met Your Mother, "The Rough Patch", exemplifies this on a single-episode scale. It was the culmination of the writers' attempts to break up Robin and Barney throughout the entire season after the entire fourth season had been spent getting them together. The episode was highly rated by critics for the exaggeration by Future!Ted's narration in the form of Barney's fat suit and Robin's haggard appearance. This had the effect of undoing over a season's worth of Character Development for Barney and broke up what is the Fan-Preferred Couple for a large portion of the fanbase because the writers wanted to prove that the relationship wouldn't work, despite the chemistry the two actors displayed.
  • I'll Fly Away was a MASSIVE critical darling but had terrible ratings. Most seem to blame it on the setting. It was set during the late 1950s and early 1960s... ''in the south'', so yeah. I'll Fly Away did however win two 1992 Emmy Awards (Eric Laneuville for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Directing in a Drama Series for the episode All God's Children, and for series creators Joshua Brand and John Falsey for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Miniseries or a Special), and 23 nominations in total. It won three Humanitas Prizes, two Golden Globe Awards, two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Drama Series, and a Peabody Award. However, the series was never a ratings blockbuster, and it was canceled by NBC in 1993, despite widespread protests by critics and viewer organizations.
    • After the program's cancellation, a two hour movie, I'll Fly Away: Then and Now, was produced, in order to resolve dangling storylines from Season 2, and provide the series with a true finale. The movie aired on October 11, 1993 on PBS.
  • The comedy Mrs. Brown's Boys has been slated by critics, who hate its bawdy humour, yet is very popular with the viewing public.
  • The final episode of LOST received mixed, but mostly positive reviews from critics, and various polls on fandom sites suggest most hardcore fans were at least satisfied with the conclusion. However, mainstream/casual audiences loathed the episode, and three years later, Lost's "confusing" ending has become a pop-cultural punchline. Mere mention of the show or its co-creators, J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof, in an internet article attracts hordes of hateful ex-fans in the comments section.
  • On a similar note, Saved by the Bell was mostly trashed by critics during its heyday yet went on to become one of the most popular kid shows of the early-90's. Now the show's success was largely because, until then, Saturday Morning television was dominated mostly by cartoons and other shows aimed at young children. And a good number of families didn't yet have Cable. Nonetheless, the series is fondly remembered by those who watched it in the early-90's, albeit mostly for its Narm Charm.
  • Single Ladies on VH-1 is generally critically reviled, but is generally well received by female audiences. It also has some appeal to male viewers thanks to the cast of Lisa Raye, Denise Vasi, Charity Shea, and formerly Stacy Dash.
  • Many popular sitcoms in the modern era apply. Two and a Half Men is so hated even Chuck Lorre admits it, yet it's one of the highest-rated shows in its era. According to Jim always got solid ratings despite its negative reviews from critics.
  • The Wire was hugely acclaimed and is now regarded as one of the greatest TV series of all time, but hardly anybody watched it when it aired, and it suffered from frequent award snubs. Some blamed this on the fact the cast was mostly black, and thus didn't have a broad enough appeal for white audiences.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street suffered similar problems but, unlike its Spiritual Successor, it managed to win a few notable awards and last a good seven seasons on the Network's faith alone.
  • Breaking Bad, which is usually mentioned in the same breath as The Wire for best show of all time, also suffered from this... at first. Then it came on Netflix and word of mouth spread like wildfire. It eventually ended with one of the most watched finales in cable television.
  • Any TV series created by Bryan Fuller or Judd Apatow. These shows have a tendency to be popular with critics, but get cancelled quickly due to low viewership, with some exceptions.
  • Early (pre-1965) television in general was often dismissed by critics as the entertainment equivalent of junk food, to the point where, in 1961, none other than the chairman of the FCC described it as a "vast wasteland".
  • Game Shows as a whole. Often regarded as tacky and frivolous at best, demeaning and intelligence-insulting at worst, the genre has nonetheless existed since television's infancy. Three of the most popular game shows — Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! (which usually gets a free pass for its usually more "intelligent" skewing base), and The Price Is Right — have been on for roughly 40 years apiece, so they in particular have resonated with viewing audiences in a way that few other TV shows have in any other genre.
  • Doctor Who is a very Long Runner and for a very long time (due to home video not being invented) there was simply no way to find out the quality of stories you had missed (due to not having been born when they aired) save for: 1) buying one of the heavily altered and variable in quality Target novelisations, or 2) buying a book written by someone who had seen the episode in question summarising what it was about and, more importantly, saying whether or not it was good. Both these methods led to serious distortions of truth in the fandom. A particular 1980s review tome - "Doctor Who: A Celebration" - contained reviews of all of the stories, in some case based on guesswork themselves (looking at the general quality of actors playing guest stars) which were taken as gospel by people who had never actually seen the stories, leading to "The Gunfighters"'s reputation as an absolute disaster and "The Celestial Toymaker"'s reputation as a classic - there is an anecdote about a woman who stood up at a Who-con to announce that the two aliens she definitely didn't want to see return were the Zarbi and the Gunfighters. Now that all the surviving footage is widely available thanks to the internet and DVDs, fans nowadays (such as Expanded Universe and new series writer Paul Cornell) tend to find that "The Gunfighters" is a self-referential and funny comedy episode and "The Celestial Toymaker" is slow-paced, badly-plotted, racist garbage - but "The Celestial Toymaker" had the benefit of a quality actor playing the villain and a quirky premise, while "The Gunfighters" had no-names and a very straightforward "the Doctor in the Wild West" premise. The book also panned comedy episodes simply because they were comedy and the author felt they had no place in a serious science fiction show, causing comedy episodes to fall out of fashion amongst the fanbase for a while, even though comedy episodes are extremely popular with the modern fandom and the highly popular revival series incorporates strong elements of sitcom.

  • 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 each one has 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 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 & Oracle, and the Pretty Things' Parachute (which was Rolling Stone's album of the year for 1970).
  • Country music is a weird example of this, with the dissonance being within the general public. Outside of the American Midwest and the 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, over reliance on party jams, and Bryan's preference of sex appeal over musical integrity. Despite heavy criticism, their albums are among the best selling 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, and offensive. Mainstream publications like Rolling Stone pretty much 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.
  • 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 who you ask.
      • It didn't really help either 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 flame-outs at worst (anyone remember Jimmie's Chicken Shack?).
      • A lot of BET's Next artists didn't pan out either. So much so they don't even attempt to break buzz worthy 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 was gonna be huge...well.
    • Some are already cynically predicting this for Grace Potter & The Nocturnals.
    • 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.
  • 70s 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.

  • Anastacia, a singer who has world wide acclaim from the music buying public... except in America where she's from. On the other hand American critics love her though.
    • One explanation is that her style of music doesn't fit the very format driven American radio stations. Essentially 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..Basically 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 felt it's an overlooked masterpiece due to Hype Backlash. Fans (especially overseas fans) felt that America let a outstanding group fall through the cracks.
  • The Bee Gees, both within and apart from their disco period, were one of the most successful acts of The Seventies, 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.
  • Queen was also a victim of negative press in the 1970's, 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."
  • "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 best-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 1 and 2 top charting singles in mid-2009) or Grammy voters (6 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... Which brought 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.
  • 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 eleven straight #1 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 Magazine 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 longtime producer Frank Rogers in favor of self-production, leading to a highly varied sound that critics are split between calling great and adventrous, 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.
  • 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 his trope. 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 he 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 2 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.
  • Dionne Farris: Wild Seed Wild Flower album. Rave reviews but only produced one hit called "I Know".
  • 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 feel that 51/50 was a genuinely good album.
  • 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 years after they faded into obscurity, frontwoman Brickell married Paul Simon.
  • Within Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham has always (justifiably, because of his skill and innovativeness) 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 of The Seventies. The gulf between critics and listeners was so vast that 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 Grand Funk 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 multi-layered lyrical themes (i.e. the sort of music that "down home" rock fans tend to loathe) were critical darlings.
  • 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 Dragons' debut album Night Visions was critically lukewarm.
  • 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.
  • 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 pretty much knows nothing about her. Her albums have all mostly been Hitless Hit Albums.
  • Jewel, even during her heyday in the mid/late-90's, generally garnered lukewarm reviews from professional critics, with many deeming her music naive and overly simple. Yet that didn't stop her debut album Pieces Of You from reaching Diamond certification in the U.S. (the album was also later 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-90's.
  • 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 category.
  • Unsurprisingly, The Jonas Brothers. Boyband first, 'legitimate musicians' second to critics, while their fanbase (even the ones that aren't 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.
  • 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).
  • The Levellers album Hello Pig was regarded by many critics to be the band's breakthrough that was going to catapult them mainstream. deviating from their formula. Of course, the fans hated it.
  • Limp Bizkit were absolutely hated by critics for a long time, but they're 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 alternative 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.
  • Little Dragon is basically critical darlings, but their record sales is pretty much stagnant.
  • Liz Phair's self-titled and unapologetically commercial fourth album turned her into a pińata for critics, who felt that she had sold out her indie roots by going in a radio-friendly pop-rock direction. Pitchfork Media went as far as to give the album a 0.0 out of 10, one of the few times that it has "awarded" such a score. Yet the album was decently received by fans and (more importantly) also gave Liz her first and only Top 40 single with "Why Can't I?". Clearly, "selling out" worked at the time. Flash forward to 2014, where she's largely a one hit wonder who alienated the indie crowd that made her famous.
  • 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, but this is typical of metal fans not being able to appreciate other genres. 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. However, 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 setlist (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 album after Thriller, Bad, was acclaimed by critics and sold extremely well, but by the time Rolling Stone magazine'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 Dangerous was well-liked by critics and general audiences (as opposed to die-hard fans), and from HIStory onward both camps largely abandoned him (the best he usually got from the former were So Okay, It's Average notices), at least in the U.S.
  • Like Anastacia and King's X, Mother's Finest was a heavily critically acclaimed funk rock band of the mid to late 70s. But because their music was either not rock enough or not funk/soul/R&B enough they never really broke out.
  • 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 say that Nickelback is So Okay, It's Average, formulaic but inoffensive.
  • Nine Inch Nails's 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 #1 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 #1 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.
  • Opeth's 2011 album Heritage got very positive reviews from critics, averaging a 72/100 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 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 solo albums has had consistent critical acclaim but was never able to fully cross over for some reason. Interestingly enough his old band Tony! Toni! Toné! was pretty huge in the early to mid 90's.
  • 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 5 country hits and multi-platinum sales were unharmed. 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.
  • 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 Seventies, 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 now they've been inducted 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 was 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 this year's Unborn.
  • Stone Temple Pilots, throughout The Nineties, was pummeled by music critics, with the main criticism being that they were little more than a third rate knock-off 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 90's.
    • 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.
  • 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's 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.
  • 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 1 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 1, it had the lowest debut sales for any of Kanye's albums and is the only one to not reach at least 1 million records sold (the album having very little promotion also didn't help). Many older fans were indifferent or put off by the album's nontraditional 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.

  • One review of Romeo and Juliet's premiere described it as "a mawkish melodrama which, God willing, will see no second performance."
  • This is fairly common in musical theatre. Les Misérables, which has been running nonstop for 25+ 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. See also:
    • 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 11th longest-running show in Broadway history (having celebrated its 10th 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 poor/mixed 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 (1998) was loved by critics when it was released, gaining scores above 80% in gaming magazines and winning several innovation awards. It flopped in the market though, supposedly becauase consumers didn't know what to make of the Realtime Stragegy/Tank Simulation/First-Person Shooter genre mix.
  • Beyond Good & Evil. If you compare its sales figures to its reviews, you'd be justified in the belief that its sales are entirely due to critics buying copies for everyone they know, and that's it.
  • According to some of the analysts from Game Trailers, 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 9's and 10's 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 #1 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.
  • Cel Damage received 5's and 6's 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 upcoming HD re-release 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 was given good reviews by the gaming press, but a quick look at the Amazon, Metacritic and GameSpot reviews shows that this trope is in full effect here.
  • Code of Princess recieved mixed to positive reviews from critics , but sold surprisingly well in the US. Ironically the game performed so-so in its native home Japan. The producer, Yasuo Nakajima, said he would like to do a sequel on PS 4 or Xbox One because of the game's success in the states.
  • The Dead Island games has gotten luke warm to completely negative reviews. But a lot of game players think it's completely awesome. Strangely enough a lot of video reviewers would give the game praise while still giving average to terrible scores. Basically saying they understand why people like it, but also saying it's still not a good game (particularly Rev3Games).
  • Deadly Premonition played with this trope. 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 recieved by critics. In terms of fan reception, however, the reaction has been very mixed. While some like it for being a well done action game, others felt that it lacked the horror the other two games had.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War was given decent ratings by reviewers. Fans however, weren't so kind.
  • DmC: 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 8s and 9s. 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, 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.
  • 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 spin-offs 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.
  • Way Forward has invoked this trope 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 (which isn't really clunky, just slower), and sometimes not enjoying the 80's style Genre Throwback elements. Most can agree the soundtrack is great though.
  • EarthBound: Criticism from test audiences and the brilliant 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 re-release, but thanks to its cult status, it was 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 either "one of the best of the series/all time" to "not all that great". With a small but very vocal group of people calling it "the worst thing to ever happen to RPG's!!!"
    • Final Fantasy VIII, in a rare move, actually managed to subvert this tendency: Critics lauded the game upon release (with Gamespot even calling it the best game yet in the series), while fan reaction was very polarized due to its cumbersome junction system, unlikeable main character, and bland setting. However, after all the hype and fanfare had died down, many of the critics who initially gave the game high marks reassessed their opinions and found themselves agreeing with the criticisms lobbied at the game by its detractors. It's now considered by both fans and critics to be one of the weaker entries in the Final Fantasy series (and certainly the weakest of the three PS1 Final Fantasies).
    • Final Fantasy X: Also a receiver of major Hype Backlash.
    • 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: 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 sidequest requirements.
  • Gone Home. According to Metacritic, right now, it has an average review score of 90 out of 100. And an average user score of 4.9 out of 10.
  • 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 re-release, 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 has a similar situation as 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 evidenced 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 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 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.
  • Really common within the Metal Gear franchise. In 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, its convoluted story, Raiden, overuse of cutscenes, and Raiden. 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 Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance which is reflected in Metacritic and Gamerankings whose user review score is considerably higher than the ones from the critics.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • NieR: Panned by critics for subpar graphics and too many fetch quests, loved by users for the deep, engaging story and killer soundtrack.
  • 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 in the slightest 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 actionized 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 (similar to Diablo III) 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 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.
    • Both episodes of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 received this treatmemt, 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 felt the official critic scores (averaging around 6.5) weren't low enough.
    • 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 no one was particularly fond of the Werehog.
  • Spec Ops: The Line got multiple praise for its impressive storytelling but didn't sell very well, no doubt thanks to its Audience-Alienating Premise.
  • Similarity, the 2010 Splatterhouse remake was mostly panned by critics whose complaints ranged from a wonky camera and an overreliance on gore. Player feedback, however, was generally much more positive.
  • Street Fighter X Tekken. It received 8s and 9s 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 from the critics. 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 on, and will not run on setups that don't have N Vidia hardware, also doesn't help.
  • Zombi U got positive reviews from critics and the public, but wasn't a huge seller and as consequence the game is far away from making any profit for its developer Ubisoft. Metacritic has a score of 75 from users, so the low sales might be due to the system's small user base.
  • A lot of 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 - particuarly 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.
  • Everything from Platinum Games:
    • Madworld was critically acclaimed by critics and general gamers alike for being a Black Comedy game for the Wii where you can kill enemies in a huge variety of ways, and was also praised for its artstyle and soundtrack. Unfortunately, sales were very low, due to the majority of the game's demographic not owning a Wii, or caring to buy one.
    • Infinite Space was loved by critics, and considered one of the best RPGs for the DS. Unfortunately, mainly due to the game being released in the summer it was released with a short print run. Although it had the highest sales of all games released during that summer, it still sold poorly and is therefore considered to be a rarity.
    • Bayonetta, great reception but lagging sales. Oddly enough, the PS3 version was the best-selling version, despite the X360 version being widely considered the superior version.
    • Vanquish got excellent reviews, but lackluster sales. You can blame Sega and their Invisible Advertising for that.
    • Madworld's spin-off, Max Anarchy (A.K.A. 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, 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's currently the best game on the Wii U (even better than The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, Pikmin 3, and Rayman Legends, and that's saying a lot), some even consider it game of the year. However, despite all of this praise, it has not been selling very well retail-wise, due to the fact that Nintendo released it the same week as Grand Theft Auto V, and due to the fact that 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.
  • 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 Move's praise is mere Hypocritical Fandom.
    • The real problem isn't Hypocritical Fandom (as the Move was agreed by critics to be better while the Kinect had a disastrous demo that launched the "I'm Han Solo" meme), but marketing. Sony barely marketed the Move while Microsoft poured millions into marketing the Kinect. Even today, Sony still treats the Move as an afterthrought (which makes the fact that it's sold 9 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.
    • Shadows Of The Damned was critically acclaimed, getting 8s and 9s 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 reaction 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 after the disappointing Shadows of the Damned, but found it to be too short. It became SUDA51's best-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 views to 4 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 game's combat for not being like Devil May Cry or Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and criticized the story for being all over the place. Not only that, but 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 compared to the US, some of which is because of the controversy.
  • The works of Tim Schafer suffer from this. The most obvious example is Psychonauts, which has received rave reviews and is one of the worst selling games of its gaming generation, likely due to the publisher giving it terrible advertising (although it is well-liked by those who actually bought it). Schafer's most successful game, Brutal Legend, underperformed too, but sold much more than Psychonauts.
  • 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 cliched 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.
  • Cory in the House for the DS. Its reviews on metacritic show a critic score of 35% (based on 2 critic reviews) and another of 96% (based on 170 user reviews). No critic gave it a positive review, only one user gave it a negative review. The reason is the moderate Memetic Mutation of the game on /v/. If one actually reads the reviews, one finds them to be mostly absurdly hyperbolic jokes.
    "This is quite possibly one of the greatest games of all time, it changed my life. When my grandmother was dying in the hospital from cancer I told her to play this game so that she could at least experience one last joy on this earth. Literally one day later she is well enough to leave the hospital and her cancer is now in remission. If this game hadn't existed my grandmother would be dead right now. Thank you based Cory."

    Web Originals 
  • A good percent of the stuff reviewed on The Bad Webcomics Wiki is this.
  • 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.
  • Film School Rejects' list of "10 Classic Movies That Critics Hated".
  • 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.
  • 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 cliche if it's done well, critics will roll their eyes at the mere sight of it.

    Western Animation 
  • Almost Naked Animals. The series really hasn't gone over well with fans (ratings from 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 was greenlit for a second season, was almost universally panned by YouTube critcs and older Nickelodeon fans alike.
  • 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 Emmy awards during its really short run.
  • The G3 My Little Pony specials are not well-liked by the general public, but several specials score around 6 or 7 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), yet it managed to gain a cult following during its relatively short run.
  • Bo Jack Horseman has 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.

  • 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.
  • While the pinball tables themed around The Addams Family and The Twilight Zone were excellent sellers and popular with all sorts of arcade-goers, Bally-Williams endured sales flop after flop (caused not only by the decline of arcades in the west but also by waning interest from arcade owners) and ultimately retired from pinball manufacturing in 1999. However, the top 10 list of modern pinball tables at the Internet Pinball Database, as voted by visitors, is dominated almost entirely of Bally-Williams creations from 1993 (when "The Addams Family" was released) and onwards, precisely during that sales slump the company ultimately did not recover from, the only exceptions being "The Addams Family" and "The Twilight Zone" themselves. By contrast, Stern, the only major manufacturer of pinball tables in the 21st century, enjoys decent sales and found a niche with private buyers, is largely loathed by these pinball enthusiasts. Even their most popular and most-liked tables such as "The Simpsons Pinball Party" and "The Lord of the Rings," gathers a Love It or Hate It reaction from them.

Critical BacklashAudience ReactionsCritic Proof
Tyler PerryImageSource/Live-Action FilmsThe Road Warrior

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