Disaster Dominoes

"So it was the mosquito
who annoyed the iguana,
who frightened the python,
who scared the rabbit,
who startled the crow,
who alarmed the monkey,
who killed the owlet,
and now Mother Owl won't wake the sun
so that the day can come."

Basically, instead of a single mess-up, the character manages to chain a lot of them into a bigger one. Slipping on the Banana Peel while holding a two-by-four, hitting someone behind him holding a lit cigarette who lands in a pool of gasoline... etc. Usually ends with the site of said mess-up being completely destroyed (and/or Stuff Blowing Up). When working backward from effect to cause, you usually have this trope when at some point you get to ask "Yes, but why was there a green motorcycle balanced on the balcony railing in the first place?"

To some extent, it's a For Want of a Nail setup when Played for Laughs. Cute Clumsy Girls/Guys, as well as young or especially ignorant characters who are Just Trying to Help, are especially prone to this phenomenon.

If someone sets off (or claims to have set off) Disaster Domino(e)s on purpose, it may be Exactly What I Aimed At.

If the end result is someone's death, it can double as a Necro Non Sequitur.

Note that in Real Life, most catastrophic disasters are caused by a combination of different failures, which ultimately manage to defeat normal safety measures (making this somewhat Truth in Television), though the various factors are usually only realized... post-mortem.

Note that Motorcycle Dominoes and Bookshelf Dominoes are not strictly related, as those involve literally knocking objects over in a domino-like fashion, the devastation of which is pretty much limited to the objects themselves.

Compare Rube Goldberg Device and Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts, where the chain of events is set up intentionally, and Humiliation Conga, where the chain of events lead into even bigger humiliation.

Often caused by a Sneeze of Doom. A specialty of the Lethal Klutz. Very commonly seen as part of an Epic Failure. Can be particularly problematic during a Damage Control scenario, where the escalating damage makes it even more difficult to contain the situation.

Not to be confused with Chain Reaction Destruction.


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  • A whole series of TV ads for Dutch insurance Centraal Beheer use this trope as well, ending in the phrase "Even Apeldoorn bellen" ("I should call Apeldoorn" — the place where Centraal Beheer is headquartered.)
  • A brand of disinfectant and detergent produced in Britain, named Dettol, features a prime example of Disaster Dominoes in this video. A giggling baby throws her cup at a blender, which throws its contents over the worktop. The spray from the blender hits a group of hanging pans, which fall off and take a shelf down with it. The cans on the shelf roll along the worktop as they fall, pushing a prepared chicken in a roasting tin right underneath a bag of flour, which falls on the edge of the tin and throws the chicken across the room.
  • A GE medical technology ad involved a guy, distracted by a pretty girl, running into a guy on a bicycle and then stumbles into a vegetable stall which collapses over onto something else, et cetera, et cetera... Eventually, the camera cuts away from the mayhem to show this huge dust cloud over the city. Then it cuts away to the doctor's office, where the guy that caused the mess is being treated for multiple broken bones; his doctor walks in... and it turns out to be the pretty girl! The rest of the merchants in the bazaar are also in the waiting room. See it here.
  • In one of The Discovery Channel's "Know More Than You Should" ads, a woman witnesses a squirrel run out into the street. She remarks to a coworker, "Great, now there'll be cats everywhere." Her coworker gives her a funny look, but as she predicted, a car swerves to avoid the squirrel, a truck swerves to avoid the car and tips over. Said truck was a tank-truck full of milk, and as milk pours out onto the street, hundreds of cats arrive to lap it up.
  • This ad campaign from DirecTV, where buying other cable services leads to people:
  • This Smokey Bear ad.
  • Played for Laughs in a Toshiba commercial, where a man is buying a laptop and is told he can get it that day if he doesn't want an impact-protected hard drive. He considers the ramifications of not getting said drive, and immediately imagines a series of events that culminates in a Zombie Apocalypse. He requests the protected drive.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Played straight in Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru with the main character Hotori Arashiyama being able to pull off clumsy combos.
  • Played seriously in a rapidly-escalating disaster in Macross Frontier episode 20. A few Vajra hatch within Island 1 and attend Ranka's concert. Ranka finds Alto and Sheryl together on the roof and misunderstands, unwittingly sending her pain out to the Vajra, who become hostile and start attacking.
  • Done in Nichijou, where an attempt to make a donation turns a shrine into ruins within seconds.
  • In the fifth Fairy Tail OVA, Ichiya and Natsu trip in the local pool and Natsu slams into Erza. Erza sends him flying, and he crashes into Gray and Lyon, sending them down the lover's slide, then breaks down a heart-shaped ornament. Things escalate until the entire pool is laid to ruins.

    Comic Books 
  • Played straight in Watchmen, when Jon's transformation into Dr. Manhattan is triggered by his date dropping her wristwatch at a carnival. Or, taken even further back, the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima could be the first domino. The news report on the bomb prompted his father, a watchmaker who had been training his son to follow in his footsteps, to instead push his son into a career in nuclear physics. Which results in Jon meeting said girlfriend at his first job after getting his PhD and in him volunteering to fix her watch when it is broken using the skills his father taught him as a young man.
  • A rather less amusing example was Humpty Dumpty in Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, whose attempts to take things apart and put them back together, with increasingly disastrous results, culminated in a rain of collapsing novelty signs on the Gotham skyline.
  • DC villain Major Disaster had this as an actual power after a deal with the demon Neron in the Underworld Unleashed event. In Flash #125, he throws a sandwich into the street, causing a dog to chase it, the dog's owner spills her bag of apples, a bicyclist falls off his bike from hitting the apples, the bike hits a man on the other side of the street and scatters the papers he's carrying, and the papers fly into the windshield of a bus, which swerves and kills the bus passenger who has been annoying Disaster for hours.
  • X-Factor: Layla Miller seems to be able to set these up, although it's more a case of her being aware of what's going to happen.
  • Etrigan: Jason Blood's demonic aspect allows him to see these in some cases. An example from Swamp Thing:
    "At 5:32 this evening you will be impaled by a swordfish. There is nothing to be done. It is written. Selena has already decided not to buy the lawn furniture."
  • Supergirl:
    • Kara Zor-El's post-Crisis introduction in Superman/Batman (and adapted into Superman/Batman: Apocalypse) involved crashing the Batboat, having a dock worker come onto her, her breaking his fingers, one of his co-workers get smacked when he tried to defend to the man, Kara disrupting traffic, having the GCPD fire at her, and accidentally trashing a blimp.
    • In Supergirl Cosmic Adventures In The Eight Grade, Linda dozes off during Science Class, gets caught and sentenced to write lines on a blackboard. She breaks the blackboard and the wall, and looks for tools to fix it. She falls out a box storing a collection of minerals -including a chunk of Kryptonite-, which scatter everywhere. Linda steps back, trips over and starts an overhead projector. The light projector combined with the Kryptonite radiation creates a Linda's duplicate. Or so Linda believes. She’s wrong.

    Fan Works 
  • Like the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic example below, Getting Back on Your Hooves has one when Trixie causes an accident in Carousel Boutique after seeing her sister's name on a dress. Rarity hangs a humorous lampshade on it by talking about how Sweetie Belle has made bigger messes than Trixie, and how she really needs to stop setting up her shop in such a way that one little thing toppling over somehow sets off a chain reaction that wrecks the entire room.
  • This trope is weaponized in the (very slow to update) Worm fanfic It Gets Worse. The main character gets an independently-acting power that sets up these for anyone who intends to hurt her, ranging from simple slips to barely-dodging falling anvils. One such event results in an entire group of Supervillains getting KO'd by blue ice!

    Films — Animation 
  • Hercules: Young Herc goes to the market, and he ends up crashing into a stone pillar, causing the rest to topple over likewise.
  • Chicken Little's title hero sets off a few of these. Twice when he tries to sound the town alarm, and again when an attempt to stand up to Foxey ends with him thrown into a window and smacking the fire alarm.
  • The title character in Dumbo has to jump on top of a pyramid of elephants. He trips on his ears, which causes him to knock over the pyramid, which in turn topples the entire circus tent. They could probably have spotted the problem during rehearsal... if only they had any.
  • Toy Story: Woody tries to knock Buzz down the back of a dresser with a remote control car. The car causes a bulletin board to fall off and hit a globe, which rolls into a lamp, which then swings and knocks Buzz out the window, setting in motion the second part of the film.
  • How to Train Your Dragon has Hiccup, who in the first scene does succeed in shooting a Night Fury (although nobody believes him, but then stumbles and causes a chain reaction that allows all the captured Dragons to escape and injures several Vikings.
  • The Prince of Egypt: Moses horsing about causes a set of disaster dominoes that ultimately causes the Sphinx to lose its nose.
  • The Thief and the Cobbler goes overboard with this. Starting at 2:50 here (and continuing into the whole of part 10), the last 15 minutes of the film are essentially one big game of Disaster Dominoes, causing the destruction of the Big Bad's death machine and his entire army due to Tack's Tack.
  • A scene of this nature from Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers is initiated when Goofy bumps Mickey and causes him to drop shoe polish into the bucket of water Goofy was using to mop. Amazingly this leads to Pete's bathtub to fall through several floors. Later, a sequence where Goofy runs through a window from a high tower not only causes a chain reaction of painful events, but also proves to be a solution when Goofy gets the idea to use the perfectly duplicatable sequence to his advantage.
  • Happens in Flushed Away when Toad is showing Roddy around his shrine dedicated to British royalty. Roddy backs into a statue, knocking it over but just managing to stop it crashing on the ground. However, the impact from this leads to a domino effect with many of the other artifacts in the room ending up being broken.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks: Sunset Shimmer tackling Rainbow Dash to stop her from showing pony ears (long story) results in them bumping into Twilight, who lose her balance and grab Rarity's keytar by reflex, dragging her down in turn and making her involuntarily kick Applejack's guitar, which flies over and lands neck-first into one of Pinkie's drums. Then the lights come back, startling Fluttershy into fleeing.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Maybe the best moment of The City of Lost Children. It starts with a seagull pooping and ends with a big ship sinking.
  • Rat Race:
    • People are racing toward New Mexico to get a lot of money. The rival family decides to steal a Nazi car. The car's lighter burns his middle finger so he accidentally shows it to a biker. She calls her friends to attack the car. The father gets black lipstick smeared on his lip in the shape of a Hitler mustache. He burns his tongue, rendering his speech into incomprehensible German-sounding gibberish. This whole mess crashes into a reunion of World War II veterans. And while trying to explain what happened to him, he continues to be Flipping the Bird while showing the burnt finger is again. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Also happens to the contestant who dresses as a bus driver for a tour of Lucy-lookalikes. He asks one to put out her cigarette, which gets caught in another Lucy's hair, which ignites... and it just goes downhill from there.
  • King Ralph: When the title character is at a royal banquet with the King, Queen, and Princess of Finland, he tries to cut into a roasted miniature chicken, but the pressure from the knife causes the chicken to shoot off Ralph's plate, knocking over his drinking glass. The chicken and glass set off a chain reaction that topples all the other glasses from one end of the very long table to the other.
  • The whole of the Blues Brothers can be seen as a long, long sequence of these, especially after the mall chase. The number of policemen just keeps growing...
  • In Jabberwocky, the main character manages to destroy a knight-in-armour repair shop by moving a bowl of rivets.
  • The usual setup for oh so many slapstick routines in The Marx Brothers and The Three Stooges era. Someone gets slapped in the face, they attempt to retaliate, the other person ducks resulting in someone else getting slapped who then smacks right back, knocking someone into the waiter who spills a tray of soup on someone who jumps up, pulling the tablecloth off ... next thing you know it's a full-on pie fight.
  • In Beerfest, singing the wrong drinking song at first seems to work out (BOOBS!), but it's too much for one old German fellow's heart. His stumbling around eventually leads to the entire festival tent falling down.
  • The Pathfinder's Moment of Awesome that sets up the climax in Ink.
  • Several of the freak accidents in the Final Destination franchise start out this way. A truly epic example is Mrs. Lewton's death in the first one, which starts with her making tea and ends with her house exploding. Examples in later additions to the series delve into the patently absurd.
  • The character Fackler in the Police Academy franchise often unwittingly sets these off.
  • In The Birds a crowd in a cafe sees a gull swoop and knock down a gas station attendant. He drops the pump nozzle and a stream of gasoline flows down the street, puddling under a salesman leaning on his car while lighting a cigar. The crowd tries to warn him, but he drops the match and he and his car go up in flames. The crowd watches in horror as the flame travels up the stream of gas to the gas station, which erupts. In all this chaos the fire draws in a huge flock of gulls, who attack the already panicking throngs.
  • Played for Drama with the ablation cascade that sets up the events of Gravity.
  • In Godzilla (2014), a crashing helicopter takes out no less than three passenger jets.
  • The fireworks scene from Yogi Bear.
  • A Bridge Too Far offers a film-length example, showing how a combination of errors by Allied commanders caused the failure of Operation Market-Garden in WWII.

  • A few Urban Legends are about this:
    • There's always the bricklayer story, which inspired this song, and an episode of MythBusters.
    • Also the story of how the dog died He died from eating all that horse meat after your barn caught on fire due to the candles from your mother's funeral after she died of a heart attack after catching your wife cheating with the farm hand and the death of a family of four The mom died after slipping on the stairs that were wet because she left the bathtub running which drowned the children; the husband died after trying to open the door which became electrified due to the water soaking the floor.
    • And then there's the piece of sheet metal that came loose, decapitating a biker, and the motorcycle rides past the driver's window with the headless corpse on it, giving the driver a fatal heart attack, causing his truck to plow right into a bus stop full of people.

  • Anything written by Michael Crichton. The plot of a typical Crichton novel starts with a bad decision, which is then compounded by additional people making bad decisions and/or minor technological glitches that just happen to be the worst possible thing that could happen.
  • Played straight in Bernard Werber's "The Thanatonauts", in which the angels use a rat to engineer a series of events, eventually leading to a plane crashing into the main characters' apartment building, killing them all.
  • Done with a series of mummified relics in Nation. The main characters flee the cloud of noxious dust that is quickly filling the cave, stopping halfway because there's a gap in the mummies and they think the chain will stop... until a flying rib manages to score a perfect hit.
  • The Hunt for Red October introduces a Soviet submarine, with an overworked technician failing to notice that one gauge is a bit too high. Ten pages later, a sphere of molten metal has destroyed the sub. Worse than that: he noticed the gauge was a bit too high, but he was prevented from fixing it by the urgency of their mission. The book then goes into detail about how, to save money, the Soviet Navy used steel instead of titanium for a small "flapper" valve which, when subjected to the hot radioactive water of the nuclear power plant cooling system, warped ever so slightly, causing small "waves" in the cooling pipe water. These waves grew larger and larger over time until eventually the system, not designed to deal with the pressure variation, sprung a leak. This then results in the reactor going critical, melting down, and every single person on the submarine dying from either drowning or asphyxiation. Because of a ten-cent savings in metal costs. As if that's not bad enough, the US then uses the sunken submarine to steal the Soviet Navy's highly advanced and extremely expensive new missile submarine. So really, because of a ten-cent savings in metal costs, the Soviet Navy loses the Red October.
  • The Belgariad:
    • Lelldorin's escape from Arendia starts with him getting into a fight with his cousin and ends with him instigating a minor war and having a price on his head. All because he fell for a Mimbrate girl and was forced to elope. On the plus side, he did get the girl. This is implied to happen rather frequently in Arendia, always ending in war. Garion notes that this is tragically typical of Lelldorin.
    • In The Malloreon it's played very seriously when Garion learns he nearly caused a global environmental catastrophe after creating one little thunderstorm for special effects triggered off a series of natural disasters around the globe that were acting and reacting with each other trigger more and more that was eventually going to culminate in a full-blown globally-affecting ice age. It's only then that he learns not to tamper with the weather.
  • In David Eddings' The Sapphire Rose, Disaster Dominoes is taken to hilarious and literal levels when Talen decides on a good way to deal with undead soldiers who guard a single flagstone: push one onto the flagstone of another. It gets messy.
  • The Dr. Seuss book Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo! starts with a sneezing bug and ends with the people rescued from a sinking boat getting tangled up with a circus parade. All done in a humorous manner.
  • The children's book The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash. Jimmy took his boa constrictor along during a class trip to the farm and the snake ate the farmer's wife's washing, then crawled into the hen-house, which frightened the hens, which caused one to lay an egg, which broke on a student's head and lead to an all-out egg fight amongst the students, which then resulted in them using up all the eggs and running to use the pigs' corn instead, which then caused the pigs to raid the bus to eat the kids' lunches, which distracted the farmer who crashed his tractor into a hay bale and pushed it on top of a cow, which quite understandably burst into tears. Amusingly enough, the story is told Back to Front.
  • Chronicles of the Kencyrath: This is Jamethiel's superpower.
  • The West African folk tale "Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears" (which the page quote is from) tells the tail of Mosquito, who tells a lie to an iguana and sets off a chain of events that results in one of Mother Owl's children being killed, and thus she refused to wake the sun so the day would come until she knew who was responsible.
  • Similarly, there's the Western "The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly", which couples this with Serial Escalation (she ate a spider to catch the fly, a mouse to catch the spider, etc.), until finally dying from eating a horse.
  • This story from the British naval communications magazine. The captain of an aircraft carrier sailing into Hong Kong harbor orders a midshipman to "let go" of a signal flag. The first officer overhears and "let's go" the starboard anchor. Through a comedy of errors, this inexorably leads to the loss of multiple ships, aircraft, seabirds, and the goodwill of the city of Hong Kong.
  • In the Revelation Space Series, the Glitter Belt, a vast ring of thousands of space stations over the planet Yellowstone is hit by the Melding Plague, a technological Grey Goo virus that corrupts higher technology. The Plague initially only destroyed a few space stations, but the destruction of the stations spawned more debris which took out further stations, creating even more debris which took out more stations, recursively, creating Kessler Syndrome (see Real Life). When the Glitter Belt is shown ~10 years later in Chasm City, it has been reduced to a few dozen aging enclaves in the so-called "Rust Belt", with the lower orbits clogged with debris that the Banshees use as cover.
  • The Ten Plagues of Egypt are what happens when God decides to have a go with this trope. After He turns the Nile river into blood, frogs and flies swarm in abundance, disease runs rampant, the weather takes a turn for the worst, livestock rapidly die off and grain stores become contaminated, and thousands drop dead more or less overnight.
  • In Worm, this is the Simurgh's most dangerous method of attacking humanity. As a Precog so powerful that she is effectively omniscient, and being the only telepath in the setting, she uses her powers to influence people that she knows will be in critical positions some time in the future, at which point they abruptly go insane and begin sabotaging whatever efforts to save humanity they are involved in. This is made even worse by the fact that she's a city-destroying monstrosity who broadcasts a psychic scream across geographic distances whenever she attacks, creating potentially hundreds of thousands of sleeper agents. People caught on after the first few attacks and began implementing countermeasures, but it's suggested that many of these countermeasures play directly into her hands.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Joan of Arcadia had one at the end of the first season episode "Jump".
  • In the CSI episode "Loco Motives", an ordinary man begins by dropping a bowl of Jell-O and ends up accidentally killing his wife and neighbor and is caught when he gets stuck in quick-set concrete trying to bury his wife's body. After his crime, his pocket is picked and he loses a bet with Brass (and confesses) when his neighbor's daughter accidentally identifies him as he is being released.
  • An interesting variation from an episode of The X-Files: a man unconsciously caused improbable chains of events to happen around him. However, the results were always good for him — for example, knocking out the mobsters who were after his wife and freeing him from the closet they'd locked him in. He couldn't control this ability, and usually didn't even begin the specific chain of events. However, his good fortune meant that in order to balance the cosmic scales almost anyone around him was just as likely to suffer from something horrible happening to them as a direct consequence.
  • Happens to Basil Fawlty in every episode of Fawlty Towers.
  • Subverted in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when Carlton says they're falling into "the domino effect", and foresees a chain of events that will end with (paraphrasing) "Dad getting fired and all of us having to work at Domino's to make a living".
  • Red Dwarf:
    • The accident which caused the deaths of 99.9% of the crew of was described in the novels as happening this way.
    • The way Lister accidentally causes the death of Cassandra (a computer that predicts future) is a hilarious example of this trope.
  • Used frequently on Seinfeld. In one episode George accidentally got his coworker fired and then got his position. Kramer promised a little kid a Yankees baseball player would catch a fly ball in his hat, Elaine ruined her friendship with her cousin, several New-Yorkers missed their wake-up calls, and Seinfeld broke up with the aforementioned cousin due to her bad cooking. The trigger event was Jerry eating a grapefruit.
  • German comedian Vicco von Bülow, better known as Loriot, did a classic sketch that starts with him trying to straighten a picture hanging askew and ends in the destruction of every item of furniture in the room.
  • In a sketch on Monty Python's Flying Circus, a man is waiting in a room for someone, and a piece of furniture inexplicably falls apart. By the end, a butler, a maid, the man he's waiting for, and a policeman are all dead, and then the house inexplicably collapses, and he's left standing in the middle of the rubble, saying, "Sorry!"
  • Father Ted attempts to bang out a minor dent in a new car with a hammer. After a cut, all four windows are now smashed and bits of metal are hanging off it. Dougal comments that he almost had it for a while there.
  • Kamen Rider Den-O's Ryotaro Nogami has this sort of thing happen to him on a regular basis. His very first appearance in the series has him stuck on his bike at the top of a tree; a flashback shows that he lost control of the bike just as a sign fell over, launching him skyward. When someone comes by with a ladder to help, he replies that he's used to this sort of thing.
  • This happens in one sketch on the One-Episode Wonder sketch show Out of the Trees written by Douglas Adams and Graham Chapman. A young couple pick a flower from a peony shrub, and this sets in motion a chain of events that ends with the world blowing up.
  • Although a pretty frequent occurrence on Frasier, one notable example involves Niles preparing for a date. It begins with Niles noticing a tiny crease in his trousers. It ends with Niles unconscious without pants and Frasier's apartment on fire.
  • Fringe:
    • In episode "The Plateau", a man puts a pen on a mailbox. Another man eating nearby leans over to examine the pen as it falls a few moments later. A bike messenger swerves to avoid him, and crashes into a fruit stand. Meanwhile, a woman walks out of a florist's shop next to the incident. A hobo tries to grab some of the fallen fruit and gets in an argument with the vendor, which distracts a bus driver coming down the street. He does not see the woman as she steps out into the street and collides with her, killing her instantly. The man who left the pen in the first place? He planned all of it.
    • Another such chain is narrowly subverted only because Olivia does something very stupid and thus actually avoids the final danger that would have killed her. This Olivia is from an alternate universe and does not know all the proper safety protocols.
  • In the Corner Gas episode "Telescope Trouble," Hank borrows Wanda's TV. As he's walking down the porch steps with it, he bumps into her birdbath and breaks it. This causes the TV to fly out of his arms... right through the window of Wanda's car. And this cycle only repeats itself. Hank decides to get Wanda a new birdbath. He leaves it outside the gas station, where Wanda promptly bumps into it while trying to carry her large telescope. The birdbath breaks and the telescope flies through Brent's car window. Birdbaths can cause widespread destruction if you're not careful!
  • Sister Sister: Lisa causes one of these to happen when she picks an apple at the supermarket at the end of one episode. The apples roll and cause some shoppers to trip, and one employee on a ladder is forced to cling to a banner during the disaster that ensues.
  • In Alphas, Marcus is able to deliberately engineer these situations, thanks to his ability to intuitively understand how everything around him will act and react. He throws a single quarter and causes a four-car pileup in the opening scene, and that's just for starters.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond: The season 6 episode 'Tissues'. Ray complains that his wife won't allow him to make household decisions, like the style of kitchen curtains to buy, and she gives him more freedom. His decisions are all critized by the family: the garden hose is too short, the tissues he buys are oily, etc. Later, he is alone in the kitchen and distracted by a phone call, when every decision he made contributes to the chaos. the oily tissues catch fire, which spreads quickly because of a flammable bug spray he purchased. Ray scrambles for his hose, which doesn't reach the kitchen. Finally, Debra stops the domino rally by grabbing a fire extinguisher she purchased and putting out the flames.
  • Every second or third episode of Casualty is based around this idea. In the first episode of 2012 for example, a dog escapes from a back garden, this leads to a major traffic accident taking out 5 or 6 cars, which leads to one man being delayed in stopping a suicide attempt, in trying to save the suicide victim and dealing with the traffic caused by an accident, a gas main is accidentally destroyed causing an explosion which rips apart a housing estate. This in turn causes some nearby chemical drums to burst, creating a huge cloud of Hydrogen chloride, which ends up getting into the drain system causing part of the town to be evacuated. We end up seeing several hundred people affected by various burns. Oh and all this happens on the same morning that the A&E department first reopens after a major fire so all the equipment is new and most of it untested. And this is just one episode.
  • In the fourth season of Castle, it's the entire plot of a Double Episode where a CIA mathematician found a small, almost insignificant action that will trigger World War III. After the Detectives manage to prevent the thing that starts it (the assassination of a child), Castle asks Beckett if she thinks the Disaster Dominoes was real. She concludes that they saved a child, and that's good enough.
  • In the second season Ever Decreasing Circles episode "Housework", Schedule Fanatic Martin concocts an ambitious plan to give his house a complete spring clean from top to bottom while his wife is in hospital recovering from surgery. He meticulously schedules both the cleaning and his usual Sunday "to do" list of planning the neighbourhood's group social activities, but his lack of housework experience means things soon go wrong: He overloads the washing machine, and when he hears it jolting across the kitchen floor, he takes his eyes off a carpet shampooer for just long enough for it to swamp the entire hallway with foam. As he tries feebly to clean up the foam with a dustpan and brush, he stops paying attention to the absurdly large amount of rice he is boiling for his lunch, which soon covers half the top of the cooker. His attempts to vacuum up the rice lead to the vacuum cleaner breaking, and when he tries putting the remaining rice down the kitchen sink, it quickly becomes clogged. Finally, his nerves completely frayed thanks to both the housework chaos and a neighbour who won't stop calling him with questions about forthcoming social activities, he throws a porkchop into a plastic tub and puts it in the oven to cook for dinner; the melting plastic soon fills the entire kitchen with smoke, and the oven is ruined.
  • Community: In The Darkest Timeline in "Remedial Chaos Theory", Troy hurriedly leaves the apartment for the pizza delivery — he dislodges the rolling boulder from the "Raiders" set model which lands on the floor — Annie trips on it and falls into the coffee table, smashing Pierce's bottle of overproof rum — Pierce jumps up from the game table and Annie's purse hits the floor — a gun inside it fires, shooting Pierce in the thigh and hitting an artery — as the others frantically try to stop the bleeding Britta steps out of the bathroom, and as she gapes in alarm the marijuana cigarette she's smoking falls and ignites the rum. Eventually, one is dead, one is driven mad from guilt, one lapses into chronic drunkenness, one's larynx is destroyed, one loses an arm in the fire, one thinks they should invade the Prime Timeline, and one dyes a strand of her hair blue.
  • Air Crash Investigation: It's basically one long sequence of these. For example, Crash of the Century (the story of the Tenerife disaster of 1977; see Real Life section for details) has the dominoes from lack of ground radar, an overloaded airport, bad communication, foggy weather and a captain too eager to take off.
  • Frank Spencer (Michael Crawford) of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em is one of British television's great Walking Disaster Areas, and had a flair for setting off disaster dominoes. Perhaps the crowning example is the 1973 episode "Have a Break, Take a Husband", in which he starts by tearing a hole in the cheap linoleum of the hotel room in which he and his wife Betty are staying for their second honeymoon. By the end of the episode, through a combination of his own ineptitude and the room's shoddy construction, he has torn a floor mat in half, broken several drawers apart, broken the door off the wardrobe, smashed a hole through the floor in the middle of the room, convinced a nervous fellow guest that his dead grandfather is trying to contact him, put two more holes in the floor under the bed, ripped the washbasin from the wall, and demolished the hotel bar.
  • On the episode "Arrhythmia" of Almost Human, a former police DRN unit riding with Kennex and Dorian jumps out of Kennex's car to arrest a man he thinks is a fugitive. This results in an SUV rolling forward down a hill and smashing into a parked car which hits a fire hydrant which is blown into the air and hits a police drone which is damaged and thrown out of control, ricocheting off a building and smashing into a police android who is stopped nearby writing a ticket and carrying him through the door of a third vehicle. Kennex and Dorian watch the entire thing unable to say anything.
  • The Doctor in the House franchise featured numerous examples over the years, but perhaps the most noteworthy happens in the climax of "Honeymoon Special" from Doctor in Charge. Drs. Stuart-Clark and Collier put Dr. Bingham's leg in plaster as a prank before he leaves on his honeymoon, and Dr. Waring is forced to drive Bingham and his wife to their honeymoon hotel in a hired car and then stay the night; when the prank is revealed, he forces Collier to come to the hotel with a set of plaster cutters. Collier nearly misses the turn for the hotel, and reverses his car into a ditch as he tries to correct his mistake. As he forgets the plaster cutters in the car, the other doctors try to pull it out with Bingham driving the hired car, but his plastered foot gets stuck on the accelerator, dragging both cars on a wild ride down country roads and stopping on a level crossing — just as the barriers lower for an oncoming train. A mad scramble ensues to get the cars off the crossing in time, but then the still plaster-encased Bingham gets his foot stuck under the rails... fortunately, the train is going in the other direction and he is unharmed. (Collier's car gets front-ended by the other car, however, and his leg really does get broken in the impact.)
  • Happens multiple times in The Worst Year of My Life, Again, as Alex seems to have a talent for causing this kind of event. In the final episode, a pair of bathers hit Parker in the face and get flung away, causing a chain of events that knocks multiple people into the pool.
  • Breaking Bad: the Twist Ending of season 2 goes something like this: protagonist Walter White dislikes his partner Jesse's girlfriend, Jane Margolis, who has gotten him addicted to heroin; Jane blackmails Walter with the threat of revealing his drug dealing to his family and the police; Walter visits Jesse's flat to try to make amends, and finds both of them asleep; while trying to wake Jesse, Walter accidentally rolls Jane over onto her back, whereupon she starts choking on her own vomit; Walter deliberately fails to intervene, allowing her to die; Jane's father Don is distraught and takes some time off work; he returns to his job as an air traffic controller several weeks later; he becomes distracted at work due to his grief over Jane's death, as a result of which he accidentally issues incorrect directions to two planes, resulting in a mid-air collision which kills 167 people. Viewers are generally in agreement that Walter's actions indirectly led to the plane crash, but opinions are sharply divided on whether it's appropriate to actually blame him for the crash (which the show appears to).
  • Doctor Who: The favorite technique of the Eighth Doctor across every medium he's portrayed in, who's stories put him somewhere on a sliding scale between this trope and the Rube Goldberg device in direct contrast to the Fourth Doctor who was more of a Spanner in the Works and the Seventh, who was portrayed as The Chessmaster.
    • "Vampire Science" for example has him inciting a faction war between moderate and extremist vampires while investigating a murder, facing a showdown where death is certain, and then killing off all the vampires without lifting a finger and saving the only sympathetic figure whilst his companion wonders if he just got everything he wanted accidentally or if it was an intricate plan.
    • "Seasons of Fear" has him undermining an invincible roman for thousands of years while he slowly goes insane from having the Doctor show up at his every moment of triumph to stop him until at the end, he is accidentally thrown back in time and his younger self is horrified and the entire story is rendered moot, the disaster dominoes coming from this being the distortion in time that allows beings made up of the erased possibilities and distortions of the timeline to invade the normal timeline and eventually breaks the universe that started with the first story in the series. Oops.
    • In "Night of the Doctor", this trait came back to bite him when ignoring the universal war throughout time and space in the background that he caused by visiting a planet accidentally 7 lives ago ends up indirectly killing him and leaving him distraught, depressed and alone.
  • One sketch by Dave Allen has a priest accidentally knock over a pew, which knocks over the next one, and so on. By the end, the interior of his church has collapsed.
  • Lucifer. The angel Uriel has the ability to see all possible futures. At the start of one episode he's shown rearranging the position of a skateboard slightly. A mother trips on the skateboard, goes to yell at her son about it, causing their dog to run out of the house, causing a car to swerve and impact the car driven by Detective Chloe Decker.

  • In a general example, as a live band, there are four situations that qualify as Disaster Dominoes for a live band — in that they produce a cascading series of failures and are nigh-impossible to stop without stopping the song and either starting over (a huge faux pas that calls your professionalism into question, and is almost only forgivable in the case of massive technical problems or danger to life/health) or picking up where things went so pear-shaped it had to stop.
    • The first: the drummer is off rhythm. Unless the bassist or rhythm guitarist realize what's going on and try to get the drummer back into the groove or give up on him or her entirely and try to up their volume to cover it, both will proceed to go off rhythm as well, leaving the lead and singer to try to keep up to something entirely different than what they've rehearsed, and usually very badly failing at it.
    • The second: an intro solo (usually guitar or bass) is very badly botched. Unless the singer is relying on a cue other than a point in that solo or a note on teleprompter or notes, he or she will come in at the wrong place and either singing too fast or too slow to avoid dead air. The guitarist(s) will then usually try to start compensating for the singer and getting the song back on track, only making the problem worse when they and the bass speed up to an already out of breath singer and go out of tempo with the drums. An experienced drummer might stop the cascade of failure by keeping his original rhythm, though this itself will make the song sound awful until they reach a break. An inexperienced one will go faster himself.
    • The third: The soundboard guy sucks, and therefore everyone's playing does. This is often the one that is an exception to starting over being seen as unprofessional, and has occasionally led to bands walking out on the show or demanding no live adjustments (e.g. demanding the soundboard guy set to their/their tour manager's specs and leave it alone)
    • The fourth: a major technical failure or someone's out sick, specifically for the drummer, the lead guitarist, or the singer. A band can play without bass (though it will sound worse) or without a rhythm guitar (there's many bands that don't have one to begin with), but the drums or lead guitar or vocals not being there will often lead to everything related to the performance collapsing, unless it's a very experienced band that can rework their music on the fly to work as drumless or instrumental.
  • In Joe Diffe's Third Rock from the Sun a man in Smokey's Bar sees a beautiful woman walk into the bar and calls up his wife to tell her he is working late (so he can make time with the lady in question). The wife calls up her sister and asks her to come over to comfort her, which gives her boyfriend time to go out and get a beer from a nearby store. He leaves the keys in his car, allowing some teenagers to take a joyride in his car. The teenagers end up in the path of a semi truck, which crashes into them, goes across a bank parking lot, and hits a nearby clocktower. The clocktower falls over and takes out a power line, making the entire town go dark. A waitress calls the police in panic, claiming aliens are landing, and the police call the mayor, waking him up, because they can't find the sheriff. The mayor tells the police to use their heads - if he isn't in his car, he's probably hiding from his wife down at Smokey's Bar. So he is going to have to work late after all.
  • "The Wreck of the Crash of the Easthill Mining Disaster" by Brooke Lundeville. But did she have to bring in the puppies?
  • And from Flanders and Swann, we have "The Gasman Cometh".
  • Green Day s Walking Contradiction music video
  • Sabotage by Daybroke. A broken off guitar knob hits some unstable makeshift table, things start to fall, roll and hit other things. Resulting in a global catastrophe.
  • The French song "Tout va très bien, Madame la Marquise" has the Marquise calling home. Every member of staff tells her everything's just fine, except for a minor detail, starting with the death of her favorite horse who died in the stable, which burned down after the castle caught fire, caused by the candles falling over after the Marquis shot himself on learning he was bankrupt. But other than that, everything's fine madam!

    Tabletop Games 
  • A staple of Paranoia, especially in the adventure Send In The Clones... where the Gamemaster is given instructions on how to make this happen even if the PCs are specifically guarding against it and still make them think it's their own fault.
  • Mousetrap! I guarantee! It's the craziest trap you'll ever see!
  • Most players of Dungeons & Dragons will claim that any session (or encounter) which killed at least two characters invoked this trope.


    Video Games 
  • Your inevitable fate in Dwarf Fortress.
    • Dwarves can be aggravated through grief or dissatisfaction to a point of murderous, crazy rage. The thing is, one dwarf rampaging around smashing property and killing friends, pets and spouses will often upset other dwarves enough to go nuts too. Players refer to this situation as a "tantrum spiral". Cases often follow a pattern like:
      Dwarves A B and C are unhappy, but not enough so for madness.
      Dwarf A doesn't get enough sleep and goes over the edge into madness, in the process cutting Dwarf B's wife in half.
      Dwarf B finds out his wife is dead, pushing his grief over the edge too. He promptly goes and smashes a statue Dwarf C really likes.
      Dwarf C finds out about the statue and... well you see where this is going.
    • See the saga of Boatmurdered, an epic tale of mismanagement and bloody death which ends with legendary former leaders beating dwarves to death while on fire and the inferno causes the entire fortress to devolve into a massive flaming brawl while the flaming corpse of a monarch butterfly wedges open the front gates and keeps the Doomsday Device from being activated. For many players this is the biggest appeal of the game.
  • In the game, Eric the Unready, the titular protagonist manages to set off one of these during a banquet, burning down the entire building.
  • The climactic scene of the text adventure, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, features Trent (or Tiffany) deploying the Anti-Leather Goddesses Attack Machine, which works in this way.
  • Spectacular failures in Left 4 Dead can often be traced back to a single event, most likely a Boomer vomiting on all four survivors at once. On harder difficulties the AI director seems to play up the smallest mistakes into really, really big and tragic messes. One stray bullet hitting a car, alerting the horde, and wouldn't you know it, a Boomer spawns 15 seconds later, which is almost impossible to avoid since the players are already getting swarmed. Inevitably, one or two will be dead, the remainder near death, and no medpacks to be found... wait, what's that rumbling noise?
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Leeroy Jenkins Video. Everything that happens after Leeroy Jenkins runs in qualifies - though The Plan in the first place would have ended up the same way, due to the protection spell the paladins were supposed to cast neutralizing their own mages.
    • Some raid bosses such as Archimonde and Anub'Rekhan are based around this; something bad happens whenever a character dies, which may end up killing another, then another two, then... And in a more literal "dominoes" sense, there are a few raid bosses, such as Kel'thuzad in Naxxramas, who have attacks that can "jump" from player to player. One player makes the wrong move at the wrong time and everyone can quickly end up dead from the chain reaction.
    • The Lich King. Dear god, the Lich King. One of his attacks called Defile targets a player to create a black puddle at his feet. Every tick of damage it does, it grows a bit larger in radius. If a player gets caught as it grows, it keeps growing. If another player who had cleared the danger radius stopped just short of the edge, it gets caught again, taking more damage, growing it a bit more. All it takes is two players doing this two step forward cha-cha a couple of times, and the puddle soon covers the ENTIRE playfield, wiping out the raid.
    • His Valkyrs are pretty awful too. They will pick three random players and drag them to the edge to drop them over, and they cannot do anything until the other players kill the valkyr (preferably BEFORE being over the edge). If one or more players get dropped, there will be FEWER players for the NEXT wave of valkyrs, who will more easily throw more off the edge, and so on, until the wipe is inevitable. Oh yeah, and defile STILL gets cast through all of this.
  • Any with any strategy game where morale is a major issue, XCOM is a good example. One of your soldier dies, causing another to panic and drop his gun, leading to him dying as well, which causes a third guy to snap and start firing wildly, killing two of his allies, and next thing you know, your entire squad is wiped out without even engaging the enemy. Enemies with Psionics don't even need to raise their guns — a handful of Panic Attacks later, the squad that was assigned to fight them will end up killing itself for them through berserked firing of HE rounds and panicked dropping of primed explosives.
  • Fallout:
    • Can be a frequent occurrence in the series. A stray bullet can graze an innocent bystander who then returns fire, he misses and grazes another bystander. It's sometimes an option to avoid conflict by letting a town kill itself.
    • In Fallout 3 alone, the abandoned cars are nuclear powered, explode if damaged, and there may be strings of them on the ruined roads, ready to set each other off.
    • One trap in Fallout 3 uses a row of boxes set up like dominoes to start a chain reaction. Battering ram hits domino boxes, last domino triggers pitching machine which knocks fire extinguisher into bear trap, setting off grenades and gas explosions that will kill the player if they're in the wrong place.
    • Antagonize a member of a faction (by petty theft, trespassing, pickpocketing) in Fallout: New Vegas, turning them hostile, kill them in self-defense, causing infamy to be gained and other nearby members to attack you, until your reputation hits bottom and they are permanently shot at on sight. Even if you are only "shunned" by the NCR or Legion, they will send hit squads after you, and killing these will completely destroy your standing with them.
    • In the Nellis generator facility, the ants explode when killed with certain weapons. If set off next to one of the stored howitzer shells, they may cause a chain reaction of detonations that blows you and your companions to smithereens.
  • This is similarly a common strategy in Doom; get one enemy to shoot another, often by strafing/streaking through, and next thing you know, they're fighting each other.
  • The goal of many levels in The Incredible Machine is to place the last missing domino for this to happen.
  • Many of the deaths in Scorched Earth and other tank games can cause a cascading ladder of death from a single kill.
  • This is extremely common when playing a strategy game on the hardest difficulty or when the game is always just that hard. To succeed you need to spread your resources very thin indeed, and with multiple aspects of your defense or offense relying on the proper functioning of other aspects, all it takes is one bad decision or unlucky RNG result and your entire army falls apart. For example, you're playing a that one mission where you start with one dysfunctional base and your enemy has several fully-powered bases opposing you. You have -just- enough supply or power to keep your base running and your army full and can't spare any money at all to get more supply/power, as you're massing for an attack to take out one of the bases before you get overwhelmed. While your defensive line kills a hundred small, fast units, a single one gets through to melee range. Your artillery kills that unit plus all of your units that were in nearby with Splash Damage. The next wave runs through the hole in your defenses, kills your artillery and blows up a power plant/farm/overlord, and then you can't rebuild those lost defenders quite fast enough, and before you know it your whole base is on fire and your army crushed. Every strategy gamer who flirts with masochistic difficulty has experienced this many times.
  • This can occur in Skyrim. In Markarth, the Dragonborn gets involved in a conspiracy that climaxes with a prison riot and the Forsworn carving a bloody path across the city, killing an important nobleman in the process. And depending on the order in which the player completed the quests and visited cities, all started with a drinking contest with a stranger in a tavern across the continent, and the game itself is in on the joke and encourages you to play that way to get that result.
  • In Dota 2, a lot of things can go wrong. The game is very, very unforgiving and the players are punished severly by the mechanics themselves, but with the help of smart play from the enemy a small fault can result in an even bigger disadvantage for the team who made a mistake.
  • Every event that takes place in the second Knights of the Old Republic game is sparked by the Exile's return to known space. The Sith come out of hiding to capture her, destroying Peragus in the process, the restoration efforts on Telos depends on the fuel from Peragus, and all other planets devastated by the Jedi Civil War depend on Telos to set the example that it can be done. If Telos fails, then the Republic will have bankrupted itself in the attempt with no result and will collapse. The ripple effect of the consequences of even a small act, in fact, is one of the themes of the game.
  • LEGO Star Wars. Vader gets a medal this time as he's won the sequel to Star Wars. An entire legion of Stormtroopers are lined up on the steps, so Vader gives on of them a hearty slap on the back, sending the lego figures toppling like dominoes.
  • When Crowe comes back in Saisei-hen, the first thing that happens is that he gets a debt of a few thousand dollars because of a highway accident which then turned into a million dollars worth of debt. By the end of the game, he's not even close to paying off those debts.
  • Due to the physics involved in Worms, a single shot can result in a chain reaction of explosions from mines, oil barrels, crates being torched by the aforementioned items, dying worms self-destructing, and so on. This can contain equal amounts of awesome, fail, and hilarity, as any veteran Worms player will attest to. Quite often entire island formations and reduced into gutted, swiss-cheese-like shells of their original forms during the process. For extra points, sometimes this involves the worm who pulled the trigger getting caught up in the carnage that ensues.
  • Kessler Syndrome (see Real Life) appears in Endless Space as one of the most potent negative anomalies that can affect a planet. Many planets are host to the remains of long dead civilizations, and Kessler Syndrome is the result of a space-faring civilization dying back without taking their satellites with them, causing derelict satellites to smash into each other, generating debris which smashes into more satellite ad infinitum, turning the low and high orbits into rings of lethal debris, making space travel dangerous and expensive.
  • Yuuki Terumi of BlazBlue fame is a good example of why manipulating affairs across space and time for a singular desirable objective is best left to absolute professionals, and he doesn't count. Everything was going well up until he sent a certain subordinate to a certain Hierarchical City for a certain mission. Said mission throws Makoto to a parallel world where her best bud Noel was obliterated in Ibukido, and Makoto got to see how things worked out, up to and including Tsubaki's desperation to be at Jin's side despite taking the seat Noel was moved into, and before Terumi could eliminate her, Rachel gets her out of there and helps her get back to her own world. After that, said subordinate started doing her own thing, but while he sought to mitigate her actions, he succeeded in the short term. Only not as thoroughly as he wanted: Rachel used her encounter with Makoto to rethink her interactions with Ragna, guiding him towards a solution that worked for both of them; Makoto lifting Noel's spirits left enough of the girl behind for Ragna to save; Makoto's encounter of Jin which Terumi (as Hazama) interrupted failed to mindrape Jin, leaving him to reawaken to the power of order undeterred; Makoto saved Tsubaki from a messy end at Carl's hands, which left plenty of her behind once Mind Eater came into play; and she delivered Kagura's data pack to Kokonoe uninterrupted, with Lambda covering her and Tager's tracks when Relius came calling. Come Chronophantasma, however, she's at it again: in addition to all the previous damage, Makoto's plan to save Tsubaki blinded Izanami to Noel's movements and vulnerability, allowing her and Kagura to catch up to Ragna while Kagura himself later fetched Makoto; said plan also blinded Izanami to Jin's encounter with Hakumen, whereupon he got information relevant to Tsubaki; Kagura got enough of a glimpse of Tsubaki's mental degeneration to engineer a trap to capture her and dispel Mind Eater, with Makoto, Noel and Jin conducting the dirty work in that order; and with Izanami's Takamagahara-enhanced gaze fixated upon the spectacle that preluded the trap, Rachel, Jubei and Trinity could carry out their plan to draw Terumi into the real world unhindered. Long story short, what Terumi thought was a brilliant scheme to wrap up a potential loose end only empowered the target to start a colossal chain reaction that ended up with Relius dispirited and Terumi himself dead. While Terumi self-observed to avoid the worst-case scenario, only Amaterasu knows if there's another trail of falling dominoes in the background waiting to crush him for good.

    Visual Novels 
  • Little Busters!: Haruka's imagined scenario of how cleaning could kill you involves this. First, she trips over while mopping. Then she bumps into a locker. The shock of this makes the club room collapse. This causes an earthquake. As the room happened to be the pivotal point of earth, the earth's crust starts moving and Japan sinks into the ocean, which causes the continents to drift apart. This makes the poles shift. As a result, all of mankind is wiped out. And that's why Haruka absolutely cannot clean! Except that Riki then points out that none of that could ever actually happen, which Haruka thinks is boring.
  • Zero Time Dilemma: It is eventually, slowly revealed that everything that went wrong in the entire Zero Escape series can be traced back to Mira killing Eric's mother, who was walking on a different path...all because of a snail.
  • Ace Attorney Investigations 2 reveals that the IS-7 Incident is one stretching the entire series. Someone cheats to win a contest, ultimately leading to a fatality. Then, as a result, Gregory Edgeworth spoils Manfred von Karma's perfect record and is shot, leading his son Miles to become a prosecutor and eventually be framed by the vengeful other party. The same case caused Misty Fey to be disgraced and go into exile, leading her daughter Mia to become a defense attorney and get murdered, motivating her protege Phoenix, who has to eventually deal with the murder of Misty herself by her jealous sister and the ghost of a woman Mia put away for murder earlier, all in order to pin the blame on Phoenix's assistant Maya, Mia's little sister. And that's not even counting the many, many collateral deaths along the way...
    • It happens again for the second trilogy, as revealed in Spirit of Justice. Ga'ran sets fire to her sister's home, which kills Jove Justice, Apollo's biological father. As a result, Thalassa searches for Apollo to no avail, goes back to Troupe Gramarye, and marries Zak, eventually giving birth to Trucy. She is caught in an accident as a result, which makes her lose her memories and gets sent to Borginia, where she eventually becomes Lamiroir, meets Klavier Gavin, gives him a guitar which Daryan Crescend uses to smuggle a Borginian Cocoon, which leads to the murder of Romein Le Touse. Meanwhile, as a result of Thalassa's disappearance, Magnifi uses this to blackmail Zak and Valant, which eventually culminates in his asking one of them to shoot him. Zak is framed for his death, which leads to him choosing Phoenix over Kristoph, and causes his murder as well as the murder of Drew Misham and murder attempt of Vera Misham, as well as Phoenix losing his badge, which is one event that starts the Dark Age of the Law. Meanwhile, Dhurke Sahdmadhi has taken in the infant Apollo and raised him, inspiring him to become a lawyer, then sent him back to America, where he meets Clay Terran. Eventually, Apollo grows up to become a lawyer under Kristoph Gavin. It's really amazing how one small crime can have such far reaching circumstances.

    Web Animation 
  • Parodied in the notorious flash cartoon The Demented Cartoon Movie, in which tiny accidents cause massive cascades of toppling city buildings, ultimately winding up with the earth falling into the sun.
  • In The TV Show a sequence of events that starts with a man in a ski mask holding up a video game store ends with what appears to be a city in ruins. And it was awesome.
  • Happens in an episode of the Knights of the Dinner Table Flash cartoon when the GM, B.A., starts implementing his new chart of randomly-determined consequences for critical failures. A single roll of natural 1 on an attack leads to major injury for the whole party.
  • There is an animation called Safety @ Work that reminds us the importance of workplace safety. One man fails to wear his hard hat, and, well...
  • This fan video to the song You're the One That I Want. A couple enters a carnival funhouse which is already falling apart. Their obliviousness to surroundings and disregard for safety accelerate the process. By the end the carnival and a nearby building are destroyed and many visitors suffer Amusing Injuries.
  • The appropriately named "Smoke Kills" has a fit of anger from a nobody trying to quit smoking resulting in global nuclear war.

    Web Comics 
  • Teh Gladiators features Vallant, master of the Pinball Projectile, the epitome of Accidental Aiming Skills. When he gets to Booty Bay and is asked to "commemorate" the launch of a new ship, well... see for yourself.
  • In the backstory of Drowtales, the collapse of a project known as the Skyhole caused a chain of these.
    • It effectively destroyed a great Clan, leaving a power gap that was eventually filled by the Jaal'darya.
    • The area around the collapse was rendered next to uninhabitable thanks to the dust and debris.
    • The collapse trapped many Sarghress troops on the surface and cut them off from the rest of Chel.
    • Taking advantage of this, Diva'ratrika had the Sharen led by Sarv'swati attack the weakened Sarghress.
    • This led directly to the battle where Sarv'swati fought Quain'tana and made her barren which has huge effects on the main story.
    • The Sarghress survived thanks to their cavalry making a forced march from the surface and coming to the rescue to their clanmates and Ill'haress just in time.
    • The collapse and its after effects ruined the good will that had been building among the clans, setting the stage for the distrust and indifference that would later show itself in the Nidraa'chal War.
    • The collapse also took many of Chel's most creative and progressive thinkers with it, and set back the colonization effort for many years.
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl has an incentive arc named after this, wherein every bad turn the characters could have made is taken.
  • The raccoon in Dubious Company has a tendency to cause these by scaring Elly with a glomp.
  • During the Hivebent arc of Homestuck, Equius makes an e%ample of a robot. It starts here, and goes from there for several pages.

    Web Original 
  • It's not uncommon for something to go completely wrong that causes a lot of explosions in Achievement Hunter's Lets Play Grand Theft Auto Series and, nine times out of ten, it's usually Gavin's fault.
  • This fanmade sketch animation from Touhou starts out with Remilia throwing her Gungnir into the distance, triggering a chain of events that eventually wrecks, in order: Reimu's shrine; the Moriya shrine; the Human Village; and finally Byakuren's shrine, with some collateral casualties like Eirin's Clinic and Yuuka's garden; before Byakuren herself throws Hisoutensoku's arm back at the Scarlet Devil Mansion, right in Remilia's face.

    Western Animation 
  • Mocked in a Robot Chicken skit that's a Crossover between Final Destination and Archie. In a mirror of Mrs. Lewton's aforementioned death scene, Mrs. Grundy is killed after an overly elaborate series of gags practically ripped from the Mouse Trap board game (eventually) results in a somehow previously-unnoticed car suspended above her head dropping on her.
  • In the What A Cartoon! Show short "Larry and Steve", Larry's car gets cut in half, and the one with Steve in it crashes first through a house, then through a barn full of chickens, and when Steve sees the car headed towards a big pile of explosives lying (in)conveniently in the middle of the road, he briefly stops screaming to say, "Waaait a minute, isn't this a bit contrived?"
  • Happened once to Blossom in The Powerpuff Girls. The weird thing is that she could fly away when she tripped the first time, but noooo... she was carrying the Idiot Ball that day.
  • Played seriously in an episode of The Batman, where the simple theft of a watch escalates into a tumult of destruction that lands the thief in prison for fifteen years.
  • A set of disaster dominoes creates the Clock King in Batman: The Animated Series. Fugate fears he'll be ruined if he loses his legal hearing. When he breaks his schedule and dares to relax, he gets hit by a ball some children were playing with, a Dramatic Wind blows up the papers he needs for his hearing, and a playful dog accidentally gets him to fall into a park fountain. While he's physically unscathed by it all, he still ends up late to court and loses.
    • This is the entire plot of Harley's Holiday in a nutshell. Having been released from Arkham as rehabilitised, Harley goes to a clothes shop to get some new threads. Unfortunately, being used to doing things the criminal way, although she pays for her new dress, she does so by whipping out enough cash for it, leaving it on the counter, and then taking off with the dress... which still has an anti-theft security tag attached. Naturally, it sets off an alarm at the door and Harley panics. A security guard approaches, intending to just remove the clip after having been told by the cashier what's happening, but Harley thinks he's refusing to accept that she paid and taking the dress back. She attacks him, runs off into the changing room, and redons her Villainous Harlequin costume. In her attempt to flee the shop, she accidentally kidnaps Veronica Vreeland. This gets her on the list of Harvey Bullock. She goes to see a mobster for help, but when he wants to ransom off Veronica, she picks a fight. Then Veronica's Papa Wolf Four-Star Badass father shows up, in a tank, and starts blasting her in the middle of the street. If Batman hadn't spent the whole day chasing her to try and stop things, she could have gotten killed.
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy: This is how Ed manages to destroy the Eds' cardboard city in "Urban Ed".
    Ed: Dominoes! Let's do it again!
  • The Venture Bros.: The Monarch needs to create a diversion at the Venture yard sale (so he can sneak inside and use the bathroom). The place is full of super-scientists and archvillains, so one well-placed flying projectile starts a fight that becomes an all-out riot in seconds.
  • Played with in a Time Travel-"Groundhog Day" Loop episode of Jacob Two-Two. Jacob broke his brother's priceless record and every attempt to save it makes the situation worse. He puts it down to keep it from falling out of its case and his brother sits on it, he doesn't put it down and it falls out, rolls away and his brother trips on a skateboard and suffers a broken arm, he warns his brother about the skateboard and gets him in a full body cast instead, one more reset and their entire house ends up completely demolished. And the record ends up broken in all cases.
  • The stories of Pat and Mat have a tendency to go this way, usually as a result of causing disasters of ever-increasing magnitude to cover up their tracks. They often start from a minor everyday annoyance, like a stain on the wall
  • Happens in Happy Tree Friends regularly. Someone will get hurt, the others will panic, leading to more severe, fatal mistakes being made, which leads to more panic, leading to...
    • For example, in the school play episode "Class Act", Nutty, who is obsessed with candy and will eat anything remotely resembling it, bites a chunk out of Sniffles, who was dressed like a massive sugar cane, who runs off screaming and somehow manages to get Giggles face sliced off. The sliced off face manages to fly off and hit The Mole, who is controlling the spotlight, which he fumbles and directs straight into Lifty and Shiftys eyes, who were holding Flaky upside down and who, blinded, drop her, which causes her to get skinned falling down a chimney, before getting deposited on the stage floor with her muscles exposed. All this finally triggers a panic, leading to one of the characters dropping a candle and creating a fire while Cuddles blocks the escape route with his costume, leading to him being pushed out of it in a cylindrical shape. Most of the characters get out safely, but are all killed when the school explodes at the end.
  • Seen in a few episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "Winter Wrap-Up", Twilight Sparkle's attempt to use magic to help clear the snow from the farmlands literally snowballs out of control.
    • At the start of "Stare Master", Sweetie Belle's attempt to help Rarity by retrieving some ribbon leads to this, creating a huge mess in Rarity's shop.
    • The climax of "The Best Night Ever". Applejack makes a fancy layer cake to impress the upper-class ponies at the Grand Galloping Gala, and carts it into the ballroom. Pinkie, who's trying to liven things up, does a stage dive onto the dessert cart, sending the cake flying towards Rarity and Prince Blueblood. Blueblood hides behind Rarity, who decides that getting Covered in Gunge is the last straw and chews Blueblood out for being so self-centered all night, splattering cake on him in the process. Blueblood backs into a pedestal, causing a statue to fall towards the partygoers. Rainbow Dash decides this is her chance to save the day and impress the Wonderbolts, and manages to catch the statue, only to end up knocking over a row of columns. Just when Princess Celestia and Twilight Sparkle stumble upon the tableau produced and Twilight thinks things can't possibly get any worse, an angry Fluttershy chases a horde of panicked animals into the ballroom, causing complete pandemonium.
  • Dexter's Laboratory had this happen to an ice cream man: Dexter paid him for a very expensive ice cream with a heavy jar of pennies, which he dropped when trying to put it in the safe, leading to him being unable to account with the daily income, causing him to lose his job, his car, his apartment, and his girlfriend, and live under a bridge. Plus he chipped a tooth. It's his Disproportionate Retribution to Dexter as he refuses to stop to give ice cream to him.
  • Fillmore!: the ruination of the train convention in "Next Stop: Armageddon".
  • The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol : The Smurf of Christmas Present shows that, if Grouchy doesn't show up to do his part at decorating the Christmas tree, Clumsy will volunteer, leading into this.
  • The Rainbow Magic has this happen to the villains in the movie's prologue. The goblins crash into Jack Frost several times, ruining his dramatic entrance and eventually getting themselves trapped in their own net.
  • A staple of Milo Murphy's Law. The first episode, in particular, revolves around a single, continuous, episode-long chain of one disaster causing another.
  • The Wild Thornberrys had this as a plot regarding the food chain. She saw a starving Lynch using a cactus needle which was ineffective, so she gave it a regular threading needle to help it eat its weight. She believed she was doing the right thing to help it eat. However, other birds came flocking to her for threading needles as well. She gave them all threading needles, and then set off a bigger calamity. It's not until the Wham Line she realizes that if Lynchs eat all the larvae, there are no flies to feed the next animal up in line, then there's nothing for them to be preyed on, and so the food chain falls apart.
  • In Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas, when George and the Man with the Yellow Hat are selecting a Christmas tree, George climbing atop one of the trees causes the whole yard to collapse. The assistant at the yard quickly realizes that wasn't the correct way to set it up.
  • Kaeloo: Invoked by Stumpy when he tries to put himself in danger on the first season finale. He throws a pebble and says that with his luck, anything is dangerous. Sure enough, the pebble sets off a chain reaction resulting in a boulder almost falling on Stumpy's head.
    • Happens again in Episode 92, where Quack Quack drops a yogurt container which rolls into a tree, causing an apple to fall... this continues for about half the episode before it eventually launches a barrage of sharp weapons at Kaeloo, Stumpy and Mr. Cat, almost killing them.

    Real Life 
  • In real-life engineering, this is called an "error chain", "failure chain", or "disaster chain". One of the key considerations in design of high-importance safety systems (such as those in nuclear reactors) is breaking the chain.
    • The Chernobyl disaster is the sort of thing that happens when you don't break the chain.
    • Seemingly the Bhopal disaster was the result of this, too. So was Apollo 13. It could even be said that the Love Canal disaster was a long winded version of this.
    • This happens even in their studies. Sure, it can happen in regular mathematics as well, but when you take up engineering and move to modelling actual events and objects, that's when you can clearly see how a tiny mistake near the start will chain into others and create something 100% detached from reality by the time you've finished. What's technically just one small mistake can completely wreck your entire answer, which does a good job of making the lesson stick.
  • The Titanic. Any one of about twenty things happens a tiny bit differently and 1,500 people don't die. Let's recap the more memorable ingredients of the recipe that takes 1,500 lives:
    • The pre-voyage hype. The largest ship in the world, the pinnacle of technology and luxury, White Star Line's crown jewel. Oh, and any four compartments can be completely filled with water and it won't sink. Even better, the ship has a double-bottom hull. But this second layer of hull didn't extend up the sides.
    • The ship set out into the Atlantic with enough lifeboats for about half the people on the ship at the time, due to some outrageously obsolete law that no one ever bothered to fix, and while the Titanic technically had more than required, it still wasn't enough. The designer intentionally meant for the ship to carry forty-six boats, but the Powers That Be hacked down that number to twenty, and they still felt that it was more than necessary because it was more than the legally required number of sixteen boats. And two of those boats, the collapsibles, were stowed on the roof of the officer's quarters, a completely and utterly ridiculous place to stow them, as getting them to the davits from there was all but impossible. "It's not like we're gonna need them or anything!"
      • Funny thing about those lifeboats: there wouldn't have been enough time to launch them all. The first proposal was for 64 boats. More people might have survived the disaster thanks to boats floating off the deck (obviously these wouldn't be tied down) but the Titanic barely had time to launch the twenty it had. Then again, they were delayed in actually getting boats launched.
    • Then there was the intrepid Captain Smith, a seasoned veteran who never blundered due to indecisiveness (i.e. had long since forgotten when caution is needed and thought he could handle anything). BTW, this was going to be his last voyage before retiring (you can't make this stuff up, folks).
    • There was coal fire in one of the front coal bunkers. They couldn't just put water on it because it would contaminate the coal supply. So instead they used a combination of smothering and removing the coal from that part of the bunker. Trouble is, that constant heat weakened the metal on one of the bulkheads. They don't put it out until two days before the sinking.
    • Four days out. A few ice reports came in. Smith was like "No problem here. just change the course ever so slightly southward, and we can continue charging ahead full speed without having to see if the correction was enough or any such foolishness. What, slow down and wait until light so we can see if we're in danger? Even if we're not, at worst we've lost a few hours?"
    • Uh oh, turns out the correction wasn't enough; the Titanic got several warnings that it was headed right for a big ice field. The radio operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride were like "Hey, I am outsourced, I work for the Marconi Company, I'm not part of the crew. Bug off." Yes, he failed to inform the bridge of an unbelievably hazardous condition that threatened the lives of everyone aboard ship because HE DIDN'T GET PAID TO DO THAT AND IT WAS NOT HIS RESPONSIBILITY.
    • The day of the disaster, there was a scheduled lifeboat drill. Nuked, on the excuse that it was too cold.
    • Titanic was triple screwed - one centerline propeller connected to a steam turbine and the two wing propellers connected to reciprocating engines. Triple screwing is usually considered the poorest arrangement for propulsion - its only advantage is making the stern more streamlined. Triple shafts combine all the worst problems of a single propeller layout and a twin shaft system. About the only advantage of the triple shaft layout is that it eliminates the vulnerability of the single shaft layout to mechanical damage or accident. The design hydrodynamics is such that the effects of the centerline screw actual degrade the efficiency of the wing propellers.
    • So sure enough, the lookouts did see that the ship was headed right toward a massive wall of ice. At the speed it was going, the ship was hard to turn on a dime. What makes it worse is that the first mate put the ship in reverse. This isn't a car, though. This was a 66,000 ton passenger ship. The churning water actually messed up the proportionally small rudder's ability to turn even more than the speeding. Furthermore, while the two wing props were run by reciprocating engines, the middle one, the one that's right in front of the rudder, was connected to a turbine, and did not in reverse. Congratulations William Murdoch: You have made a near miss into a solid hit. Epic Fail.
      • This wouldn't have been a problem had the iceberg been spotted earlier, but Frederick Fleet, the lookout, didn't have his binoculars with him, as they went missing at some point during one of the initial port calls. On top of that, the sea was calm, meaning that Fleet had to rely on moonlight (which was rather difficult as the new moon wasn't even up) rather than waves to notice a giant block of ice in the ship's path. Ironically, had he not seen it at all and they just rammed the thing, the sinking could have been prevented or at least, the sinking could've been prolonged long enough for help to arrive.
      • Whether a head-on collision would have been better is actually disputed. A 50-thousand ton ship hitting an iceberg of comparable weight at 21 knots head-on is not something that could simply be shrugged off. Some argue that not only would have the collision immediately killed a significant amount of people, the ship could have actually sunk even faster as a result (because the iceberg would have probably destroyed the ship's keel, rather than its side.)
    • Remember that double-bottom hull? That's only of any help if the ship runs aground. The sides of the ship were still just an inch of steel, made of plates essentially stapled together. And the rivets—said "staples"—were weaker in this area. Not because of budget cuts, but because there was a machine used to drive these rivets in, but it couldn't work properly in areas with a lot of curved metal to navigate: such as the extreme forward and aft ends of the ship. Therefore, they had to use rivets with more slag (a glass-like substance that in trace amounts strengthens steel, but in higher ones weakens it) to make it easier to be hammered in by hand. And that bulkhead next to the coal fire? It's believed that the steel was so weakened that the water pressure actually burst it later on in the sinking, accelerating the flooding.
    • Five compartments flooded. Four, the ship can be salvaged; five, forget it, it's toast. The flooding water will go over the top of each bulkhead of the compartment as it goes down, like in an ice tray.
      • This occurred because most of the Titanic's supposedly watertight compartment bulkheads did NOT extend all the way to the first continuous watertight deck like they were supposed to. The gap at the top allowed water from a flooding compartment to slop into adjacent compartments. While watertight compartments with properly designed bulkheads probably wouldn't have prevented the Titanic from sinking, it has been speculated that truly watertight bulkheads would have slowed the rate of sinking significantly and could have enabled the ship to remain afloat long enough for help to arrive.
      • In fact, the compartments made the ship sink faster. As the forward compartments flooded, they weighed down the bow much faster, causing the tail to rise out of the water and the ship to eventually break in half from the strain. Also the ship had pumps....in the rear, which wasn't getting any water. If the water had flooded the ship evenly, it would have taken much longer to sink (as much as ten hours).
      • Said pumps had hoses which were used to surpisingly great effect. One compartment was actually pumped dry before the entire bulkhead collapsed, rendering this small victory moot. The hoses, unfortunately, meant that quite a few manual watertight doors were opened or reopened to allow their passage, making the bulkheads resemble Swiss cheese.
    • There was one ship close enough to lend assistance (the Californian), but her radio operator had already gone to bed. (Thereafter, radios were required to be manned around the clock). The Titanic fired off flares, but there was no reaction from the Californian. Other radio operators were within range, but most had also gone to bed.
      • Oh, and the reason one of the aforementioned radio operators had gone to bed? He was annoyed with having to relay so many messages from the Titanic passengers. Get a bunch of Upper Class Twits together on an exciting new ship and you're suddenly getting a whole bunch of Twitter-esque chatter clogging up the radio frequencies. At least one radio operator finally said "Screw it, I'm calling it a day," and wasn't awake to receive the one important message of the bunch.
    • And just in case this whole apocalyptic mess wasn't nearly hellish enough yet, despite the ship having enough lifeboats to save the lives of about half of the people on board, they didn't even save that many, due to numerous lifeboats being launched at well below capacity due to confusion among the crew. Poor Communication Kills indeed.
    • Remember that Lifeboat Drill that got canned? Yeah, none of the crew were familiar with the new davits put on the ship because of it, causing a few close calls in the unloading process. These boys had to learn on the fly, costing time and potentially lives.
    • A few more people died due to a smaller, lesser-known boatyard hearing about the disaster that was the Titanic. One of their ships sank because it was carrying too many lifeboats.
    • None of these screwups would've mattered if the iceberg hadn't been in that exact spot, at that exact time. Even a few minutes' difference in the movement of either ship or iceberg — movement, which thousands of fine shifts in current, wind, and surface chop dictated, never mind human intervention — and they'd have missed each other completely. The good news is that if the disaster hadn't happened, then regulations for ship safety wouldn't have been updated and we'd probably still have ships with too few life boats and radio transmissions wouldn't be manned around the clock. So because of this disaster, we have updated rules and regulations for ship travel and safety.
      • If it wasn't that particular iceberg, the Titanic would've likely just run into another. A survivor's account mentions that, prior to the collision, when he looked out the porthole of his cabin (which was down on one of the lower decks), he would sometimes see stars in the night sky being blocked out by something, then reappearing. This phenomenon has been occasionally witnessed with icebergs at night (the ice temporarily blocks out light from stars, at least until they've passed/been passed). The conclusion here is that, even before the collision, the Titanic was already deep in the ice field, and it was probably inevitable that she'd have a head-on/glancing encounter with an iceberg.
  • Defied with the sinking of the sister ship to the Titanic, the Britannic. That was not the result of hitting an iceberg, but instead from hitting a sea mine. Thanks to safety improvements done to the Britannic in construction as a result of lessons learned from the Titanic, no Disaster Dominoes happened to cause this sinking, but they did help to increase the number of survivors for three reasons: one, the weather was about 70 degrees, there were more lifeboats available, and help got there quicker, especially so since the sinking only took an hour. Most of the 30 fatalities in the Britannic tragedy were the result of the first two lifeboats being lowered while the propellers were still turning, causing the boats to be sucked into the propeller blades, ripping them and their occupants to pieces.
  • A more recent maritime example would be the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia. The whole mess could be considered a masterpiece of Disaster Dominoes:
    • It all started when the ship's head waiter, who was a native of Isola del Giglio, asked Captain Francesco Schettino to do a "sail-past" near the island and salute the residents. Schettino deviated from the ship's computer-programmed route, claiming that he was familiar with the local reef and could navigate through it.
    • Captain Schettino was apparently so confident in his abilities that he switched off the alarm on the ship's navigational computer...
    • ...Although according to his first officer, Schettino had left his reading glasses in his cabin and repeatedly asked the first officer to check the radar for him.
    • Schettino had also called for several of the ship's dancers to come and perform for him. He was so busy showing off that the ship quickly hit the reef and capsized.
  • The Tenerife airport disaster, the worst aerial disaster ever, happened when two Boeing 747s collided on a foggy runway at Los Rodeos Airport in Tenerife, killing 583 people. Likewise, if just one of twenty or so causes had been otherwise, nothing would have happened.
    • First, the Los Rodeos airport itself was a spare. There had been a terrorist bombing at Gran Canaria airport, so traffic was diverted to Los Rodeos. Both accident aircraft were originally intended to land at Gran Canaria, but instead got diverted to Los Rodeos.
    • Los Rodeos airport is located in a caldera, and that particular day was awfully foggy (as has been known to happen at Los Rodeos), reducing visibility.
    • Los Rodeos airport has only one runway, while Gran Canaria has two. All air traffic, both landings and take-offs, happened on that single runway.
      • Los Rodeos airport was awfully crowded and busy that day. The airport was (due to rerouting from the bombing) forced to accommodate a great number of large aircraft, resulting in disruption of the normal use of taxiways. Due to the warm weather, the passengers disembarked for the terminal. Two children registered on the Pan Am plane had decided to goof off and were unaccounted for, delaying the plane receiving permission to taxi while stewards looked for the missing kids.
      • Due to the large number of diverted aircraft, Los Rodeos' main taxiway was used as an aircraft parking lot. All departing aircraft were therefore forced to taxi the length of the runway, then do a 180 degree backtaxi turn to get into takeoff position.
    • Both the KLM and Pan Am jets were heading to Gran Canaria. The Pan Am jet was ready to go, but the KLM jet was ahead of it, and was being refueled. The Pan Am had touched down 45 minutes after the KLM, which is why they were positioned this way. The KLM jet eventually taxied to the end of the runway, to wait for the start the take-off run, while the Pan Am jet taxied on the runway behind it.
      • The refueling took 35 minutes, allowing the fog to settle in. It also added forty tonnes of weight to the KLM jet, meaning that the KLM would need more runway space to take off.
      • Even worse, the refueling was completely unnecessary because the KLM jet already had more than enough fuel to fly to Las Palmas. It's also unclear what prompted the KLM pilot to decide he had to refuel after waiting for 2 hours. If he had refueled earlier, or not refueled at all, the accident would not have happened.
    • The Pan Am jet was directed to head on connection to taxiway 3, which was on a 148 degree angle to the runway. The 148 degree turn was very difficult to perform on a fully laden Boeing 747, and the American crew instead decided to head to connection taxiway 4, which was only on a 45 degree angle to the runway.
    • The Los Rodeos flight control gave the KLM plane the IFR departure clearance, which is permission to fly to the destination. It is not a permission for take-off, though; the Dutch crew misinterpreted the clearance as permission for take-off.
    • There was a language confusion of Dutch, Spanish and English. The tower international communication was in Spanish and the KLM cockpit crew used Dutch for internal communication. The KLM crew spoke with heavy Dutch accents, making it impossible for the Spanish tower crew to understand them. The Pan Am crew spoke American English. The tower used non-standard phrases on communicating with the planes. There is a reason why no matter what airport you go to in the world, no matter what pilot you meet, they all are trained to speak English as the universal language of communication.
      • The KLM crew asked for permission for take-off. The tower denied it, but used a very heavy Spanish accent, which the KLM crew misinterpreted as permission.
      • At the same time the Pan Am captain spoke on the same radio channel as the KLM captain, causing a heterodyne (a loud buzzing noise). Had he used any other radio channel, there would have not been any confusion.
      • The Pan Am jet had overtaken the connection taxiway 3 in the fog and was on its way to taxiway 4. Had it turned on taxiway 3 as instructed, it would have gotten out of harm's way.
      • The confusion meant the tower interpreted that the Pan Am jet had finished taxiing and turned and that the runway was clear. Had the Pan Am captain connected the tower on another channel, the tower could have commanded the KLM jet to stay put.
    • Some evidence suggests the controllers may have also been distracted, as sounds on the cockpit voice recorders from the KLM and the Pan Am suggested that when the crash was unfolding, the Spanish control tower crew may have been listening to a football match on the radio, blatantly violating the work regulations.
      • And the football match on the radio was so loud that the game was audible on radio communications with both the KLM and Pan Am.
    • Los Rodeos airport did not have ground radar, and because of the dense fog, the tower did not have the faintest idea where the 747s actually were.
    • The KLM captain was impatient as the flight had been late for several hours. He decided to go, disregarding the tower. The Dutch legal limit on continuous working time had already been exceeded.
      • And disregarding also the KLM executive officer's advice. The XO didn't dare to oppose the captain as the captain Jacob Veldhuyzen van Zanten was the most senior KLM captain, and also the chief of the company flight security.
      • Captain Veldhuyzen van Zanten had acted as a simulator trainer for young pilots for some time, and just returned back as 747 captain. He had not yet recovered his flight routine on the 747.
    • When the KLM captain revved the engines and started the take-off run, the Pan Am jet had already reached the taxiway 4 and made the turn to the taxiway. Had there been 15 seconds more time, the Pan Am would have gotten out of the way with room to spare.
      • And had the KLM jet not refuelled, it would have already reached the take-off speed 300 feet earlier, thus clearing neatly over the Pan Am jet.
      • Even then, the extra fuel contributed to the size of the fireball when the KLM impacted the runway surface. With the original amount of the fuel, the fireball would have been much smaller and it is possible that there could have been survivors.
  • The Linate Airport disaster in Milan, Italy on October 8, 2001 happened when a taking off Scandinavian Airlines System McDonnell-Douglas MD-87 collided in thick fog with a Cessna business jet on the runway, killing 118 people (all 110 on the MD-87, all four on the Cessna, and four people in a hangar that the MD-87 slammed into). It is practically a smaller-scale version of the Tenerife Airport disaster for these reasons:
    • Both accidents happened in thick fog, at airports where there was no functioning ground radar system for tower controllers to monitor aircraft.
    • Like the Pan Am plane, the Cessna ended up on the runway in the path of an aircraft that was taking off. But unlike the Pan Am, the Cessna was way off course. According to this diagram, when it left the apron, it was to turn left and take the north taxiway, R5, to get to the main taxiway. This would get the Cessna to the taxiway without having to cross the runway. Instead, the plane turned south and took taxiway R6, which meant it crossed onto the runway, right in the path of the departing MD-87. The MD-87, Linate's analogy for the KLM plane, was not at fault because it was doing everything it was supposed to up until the moment of collision.
    • Further contributing to the problem was that the taxiway signage did not meet ICAO requirements, so once the Cessna was on the wrong taxiway, there was no way it could identify its position.
    • Neither pilot on the Cessna was certified for landings in visibility conditions shorter than 1,804 feet, but had landed at the airport anyway a few minutes before the disaster.
  • This video. To sum up:
    1. Forklift guy hits a shelf.
    2. Shelf falls down. (Shouldn't they be more stable than that? Yes, they should.)
    3. On its way down, shelf hits other shelf.
    4. Other shelf falls down.
    5. Everyone is unhappy.
  • The series of events leading to the outbreak of World War I is not unlike this trope, combined with a few hefty doses of War for Fun and Profit and Home by Christmas. It all boils down to two countries wanting to go to war with each other and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand as the trigger. Then, as treaties are suddenly called into account, a two-country war engulfs two continents.
    • To compound it all, it could have ended for Christmas had Italy not decided to stay neutral instead of invading France as it was supposed to (as the French didn't have enough reserves, that invasion from the south would have either found itself unopposed or distracted enough troops for the Germans to take Paris). Problem was, the alliance had always been unpopular in Italy due the Wars of Italian Independence and the Italian government was in decent relationship with both Britain (that had given diplomatic support and helped covering Garibaldi's legendary Expedition of the Thousand during the unification of Italy) and France (that had actually fought on Italy's side during the Second War for Italian Independence), and the chief of staff Alberto Pollio, the one important guy who simphatized with Austria-Hungary and would have had the ability and the will to raise a stink and have Italy respect the treaty and do that invasion, had an heart attack and died four days after the Archduke. Thus when Germany called upon Italy to do their part the government and the new chief of staff Luigi Cadorna (a well known Austria-Hungary hater) replied to sod-off because the Triple Alliance was a defensive alliance and Austria-Hungary had declared war first, and the rest is history.
      • That said, it can easily be extrapolated how effective the Italians would have been fighting through the French Alps: Italian offensives into the decidedly-easier (but still disastrously difficult) Trentino region against an Austrian army that had been crippled by the 1914-15 Russian offensive into Galicia and was still struggling against Serbia still foundered. Moreover, French forces on the Italian border played absolutely no role in stopping the German onslaught at the Marne. It verges on insanity to postulate that an Italian involvement with the Central Powers (one the Germans themselves did not plan on, knowing the extreme unpopularity of the Italian-Austrian alliance and the complete reliance of Italy on British imports) would have been enough to turn the tide in the West "by Christmas."
    • Of course, World War I was the first of a long line of Disaster Dominos that shaped the modern world.
  • The 2010 saga of Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. To hit the highlights:
    • The blowout causes an explosion and fire on the rig which cannot be put out before the rig sinks;
    • The blowout preventer, specifically meant to stop this sort of thing from causing the well to release oil uncontrollably, fails because of a dead battery;
    • Everyone suddenly realizes they have no freaking idea how to deal with a blowout in over a mile of water, nor do they know what the released oil will do at that depth;
    • The plan for dealing with a spill is ridiculously out of date, to the point where one of the experts supposed to be called in to assist has been dead for 4 years...before the plan was filed;
    • To make matters worse, the plan turns out to have originally been written to deal with arctic oil spills, and never adjusted for the different conditions in the Gulf of Mexico. It has more to say about how to protect walruses from the leakage than sea turtles.
    • And just to put the icing on the cake, it appears that the well suffering the blowout would have been one of the most productive in the Gulf of Mexico, meaning that the volume of oil escaping is freaking huge.
    • Last, oil is a very valuable resource. All that oil is completely wasted and the reservoir is unlikely to be tapped again in the near future.
    • A more recent revelation is that Halliburton supplied concrete to BP, as well as some simulations regarding the effectiveness of each design choice, and subsequently deleted both for fear of litigation in the wake of the explosion. They're currently slated to plead guilty to one count of "Computer Fraud" for having employees delete the aforementioned computer models, for which they'll pay a fine... to the tune of $200,000, the maximum fine available for that particular crime. Unsurprisingly, there's been some backlash.
  • Although this "disaster" did not have the potential to cause loss of life, it was Serious Business for many people—namely, college sports fans. The very existence of the Big 12 Conference—and maybe the Big East—was in jeopardy in the early 2010s.
    • The Big Ten announced in late '09/early '10 that it was looking into the possibility of expansion and that it was considering teams like Nebraska, Missouri, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Notre Dame to add to its eleven teams. (Yes, the Big Ten has eleven teams.)
    • The Pac-10 also expresses its interest in expanding from 10 to maybe 16.
    • Talk of expansion dies down somewhat for a few months, but there are a few rumors that pop up that eventually get denied. These rumors cause the conferences to become even more antsy.
    • The antsyness increases when Missouri is rumored to be seriously interested in the Big Ten, which gets some of the other Big 12 schools thinking they have to hurry and beat Missouri to the punch.
    • On June 10, 2010, the first domino falls when Colorado decides to leave the Big 12 for the Pac-10. Later on, it is announced that Boise State is leaving the Western Athletic Conference for the Mountain West Conference.
    • The following day, the second domino falls when Nebraska decides to leave the Big 12 in favor of the Big Ten. Interestingly, the Big 12 is down to ten teams while the Big Ten has 12 teams.
    • In addition, the Pac-10 has sent invitations to five more Big 12 schools: Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.
    • Texas's board of regents is expected to meet on June 15th in order to decide which conference to choose. If it leaves the Big 12, the other four invitees are likely to leave. A&M is considering the SEC as well, but at least part of that is because they don't want to look like they're following the leader. In any case, the Big 12 would be down to 5 members and would no longer be a viable conference. The Mountain West Conference appears ready to accept 4 of those 5: Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Missouri—but not Baylor.
    • If the Big Ten tries to poach Notre Dame, Syracuse, and/or Rutgers in addition, the Big East would become dangerously unstable and could collapse as well, leaving more teams ripe for the picking by eastern conferences. The ACC and SEC could both look into expanding.
    • The potential result could be an NCAA ruled by 5 superconferences: the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, MWC, and Pac-16.
    • Some things have come to pass as of the 2013 season - the Big East will be no more insofar as the Catholic 7 (the Catholic, chiefly-basketball schools in the Big East) all decided to leave and take the Big East name with them. The remaining teams will be rebranded as the American Athletic Conference. The Big Ten has ended up poaching one of the Big East teams (Rutgers) and picked up another from the ACC (Maryland). The Big 12 still lives as one of the top 5 conferences.
  • Speaking of conference re-alignments, NCAA Division I men's ice hockey was hit with a similar chain of events in the early 2010s. Due to its regional nature, college hockey is typically played in special hockey-specific conferences, such as the CCHA, Hockey East, ECAC, and the WCHA, instead of the major multi-sport conferences (i.e. ACC, Big Ten, SEC, etc.)—in fact, many schools that field Division I hockey teams are actually in lower divisions (II and III) for major sports such as football and basketball. But, it was a major conference's entry into this brave new world that broke the ice for everyone else:
    • In 2010, Big Ten member Penn State announced that its men's hockey team would move from Division I in the American Collegiate Hockey Association's Division I (an alternative sanctioning body primarily populated by schools with lower budgets) to NCAA Division I as an independent beginning in the 2012-13 season. But then, the Big Ten Conference realized that they now had enough teams (six, specifically) to earn an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament if they were to officially recognize hockey. With that in mind, the Big Ten voted to do just that, beginning in the 2013-14 season. The domino had been toppled:
    • Five Big Ten schools were dragged out of their hockey conferences to begin Big Ten play for 2013-14: Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Three were CCHA members, and the rest were in the WCHA.
    • With both conferences losing their most prominent members to the Big Ten, a new conference known as the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) was formed by five WCHA members and one CCHA member (Miami University, Ohio) with aspirations to be as dominant as the Big Ten Divided By Two. Meanwhile, all hell broke loose for the rest of the CCHA; since they only had five teams left, the WCHA courted a number of CCHA teams (along with independent Alabama–Huntsville) to join, Western Michigan got invited to the NCHC, and Notre Dame got invited to Hockey East. Needless to say, the 2012-13 season was the CCHA's last.
  • The Donner Party.
  • The 1998 Belgian Grand Prix resulted in this: with typical wet weather at the location, conditions were slippery, causing David Coulthard to lose control of his car in the first lap. He crashed into the wall and ricocheted right into traffic, causing a thirteen car, many of them caused simply by being too close to the initial one. Miraculously, there were only a couple injuries, and most of the drivers could take the restart, one missing due to injuries, three because there was no car for them to start with.
    • Indy Car had a similar incident with much worse results in the final race of the 2011 season. James Hinchcliffe was clipped by Wade Cunningham, who then hit JR Hildebrand, who launched into the air. More cars ended up crashing into each other trying to avoid the initial crash. In the end, fifteen cars were involved in the incident, leaving three (JR Hildebrand, Pippa Mann, and Will Power) with serious injuries, and Dan Wheldon, that year's upset Indy 500 champion, died as a result of blunt force trauma, likely from hitting a pole on the catch fence. The race was cancelled upon Wheldon's death, and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway was dropped from the next year's season, primarily because some people blamed the incident on them trying to field a 34 car grid on a one and a half mile oval track that was built for a 43 car field of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars.
    • Speaking of NASCAR, if there's a crash, Disaster Dominoes are roughly thirty-three percent chance of happening, depending on where in the pack the crash begins. Thirteen- and fifteen-car wrecks are simply a fact of life in NASCAR, especially at the two restrictor plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega), where wrecks in excess of twenty-five plus cars are a fact of life.
  • In 2010, a Tunisian set himself on fire as a protest. Later, two governments fell, two others decided to leave, and thousands died. Oh, and it led to a full-blown civil war in one of the regional powers.
    • It leads to weakening of world powers' influence in that region and the strengthening of religious fundamentalism. Which may count as disaster or blessing, depending on the person being asked about the matter.
      • An that leads to emergence of terrorist group ISIS, which is becoming a more serious threat than the Taliban.
  • The March 2011 disaster in Japan could be disaster dominoes WITHIN disaster dominoes. First you have the most powerful earthquake in the country's history, which triggers a huge tsunami, which damages the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and then things at the plant get progressively worse and worse and worse!
    • And the number of deaths directly due to the Fukushima disaster? Zero. Pretty good engineering there. The amount of radiation that was released will likely spike the cancer and other illness rates for years to come, with no direct link to the disaster provable. It's nowhere near the scope of Chernobyl, but, like all nuclear accidents, it's proper to say that not only can we not yet say that the dominoes have stopped, but indeed we may never even know if they'll ever stop or even how many were knocked down.
  • Similar to the Arab Spring, in 2013 Brazil had protests on abusive public transportation prices. The first went somewhat calm, then things got real once the one in the biggest city ends up receiving police brutality to get suppressed, even hitting some reporters trying to cover the chaos. It even got its catchy name, "Vinegar revolts" (as some of the protesters were carrying vinegar, supposedly because it helps contain tear gas bombs).
  • The main element in most disasters that are investigated in the National Geographic Channel series Seconds From Disaster and Air Crash Investigation. This includes the Tenerife disaster.
    • Seconds From Disaster essentially namechecks this trope in it's intro: "Disasters don't just happen. They're a chain of critical events..."
  • The current economic woe is an excellent example of disaster dominoes. It begins with a typical bankers' scheme, which fails and drags the economy with it, which force the governments to bail said bankers, in which taxpayer's money is spent for the bailing, the governments then punish the taxpayers with austerity (a strong candidate for Darwin Awards, this paradigm), which then makes said taxpayers unable to right the course of the economy because no business can be done...
    • Which then joins another set of dominoes in the form of: climate chaos, which causes crop failure, which causes food riot, which causes social destabilization... Real Life is sometimes more exciting than fiction.
    • Brazil in turn had climate chaos, leading to a heat wave, a massive drought (the rain couldn't reach the hot area - which concentrates most of the population!), and energetic shortcomings (hydroelectricity is the major provider) concurrent to their economic woes in 2014-5.
  • Aeroflot Flight 593, in which the dominoes began to fall as a result of a single stupid act.
    • The Captain decides to let his two children into the cockpit. While his daughter sits at the controls, he messes with the Autopilot to give the impression that she's controlling the plane, deviating from the official flight plan. He then puts the autopilot back to normal, and everything is fine again.
    • Next, it's the turn of his son, Eldar. Eldar states that the 'steering wheel' (the yoke) isn't moving easily. This is because the autopilot is in control. He continues to yank the yoke until it suddenly moves smoothly. He has disconnected the autopilot from the ailerons, and now he is in control. A minor with no flight experience whatsoever is now 'controlling' a hulking Airbus A300.
    • The plane begins to bank to the right. Eldar is the first to notice this, the crew are distracted by a conversation. As the plane banks, it turns 180 degrees, appearing to enter a holding pattern, when in fact it's starting to roll over. The crew are confused by this, allowing the situation to worsen.
    • Had Eldar let go of the controls, the Autopilot would have re-engaged and corrected the increasing bank angle. However, he doesn't let go. The plane rolls to a 45 degree angle. Unable to maintain altitude, the plane stalls. Unable to cope, the autopilot goes blank and is forced to power down and restart.
    • A secondary automatic system puts the plane into a dive, standard procedure for dealing with a stall, since the increased airflow over the wing will generate lift.
    • The plane falls from the sky; G-Forces prevent the crew from initially reaching the controls. Finally, Eldar lets go of the yoke, but only because his father is now at the controls. In these conditions the Autopilot disconnects anyway, since this is a situation it can't correct.
    • After struggling with the plane for a minute, it's levelling out. The crew could have let go of the controls now and the autopilot would have worked, but they didn't. Instead, the co-pilot overcorrects the plane, pitching the nose up and inducing another stall. The plane corkscrews and falls out of the sky. Despite the crew recovering from this dive, their altitude is too low, and the plane slams into the ground, killing everyone on board instantly.
  • The Battle Of Midway in World War II should have been a simple milk run for the Japanese, but they managed to snatch a glorious defeat in the threatening jaws of victory, losing four aircraft carriers and a heavy cruiser. Had just one of the steps gone otherwise, the books would have described this as a brilliant Japanese victory instead of American.
    • First, the Japanese attempted a far too complicated and complex operation, assuming the Americans would react by the schoolbook. Evidently they had forgotten to remember that the von Moltke maxim states that "no battle plan has ever survived five minutes of enemy contact."
    • The Japanese were unaware that the American codebreakers had cracked the supposedly "unbreakable" IJN cryptographic code.
    • The Japanese staff wargamed the battle — and when the American player "sank" half the Japanese carriers and managed to win, he was overruled by the umpire and his demonstration of the risk was ignored.
    • The Japanese reacted to the American bait (message of Midway water distillation plant failure) by sending the message "The target has shortage of water". So now the Americans had intelligence that confirmed where the Japanese attack was going to happen, and the U.S. Navy decided to ambush the Japanese there.
    • Admiral Yamamoto assumed that the USS Yorktown had been either sunk at Coral Sea, or been too seriously damaged to go to sea for a long time. Instead she was repaired at Pearl Harbor in just a span of 48 hours.
      • That's a whole saga all by itself; the hasty repairs and a solid dive bombing led the Japanese to assume they'd sunk this carrier at Midway due to the visible extent of the damage (gutting the interior of the only recently repaired Yorktown) only to have to sink her again during salvage operations after the battle.
    • The Japanese failed to neutralize the Midway air detachment on their first strike, requiring another.
    • The reconnaissance plane of heavy cruiser Tone was half an hour late on take-off, leaving its sector unsearched for half an hour. Unfortunately, the Americans were just in that sector.
    • Half of the Japanese bombers had been armed with torpedoes and armour piercing bombs in case of American shipping being sighted. When the carrier pilots reported that another strike on Midway was needed, Admiral Nagumo decided to change their bomb loads to fragmentation bombs to be used against ground targets. That change operation took 45 minutes.
    • When the reconnaissance report of that particular plane reached Admiral Nagumo, he decided to change the armament back to anti-shipping. Which meant the Japanese carriers were full of unstacked, loose ordnance for another 45 minutes.
    • The American torpedo bombers had maintained the bearing while the dive bombers and fighters had diverted off the course, meaning the torpedo bombers were unprotected. They drew the Japanese combat air patrol off to slaughter them at will, forcing the carriers to rely only on the defence of their anti-aircraft gunnery.
    • The fighters and dive bombers found the Japanese ships by accident. They arrived at the direction where the anti-aircraft gunners thought they would not come.
      • The wholesale slaughter of the American torpedo bombers had diverted the concentration of the anti-aircraft gunners from watching above to watching the one-sided air battle at low altitude.
      • The dive bombers were able to attack the Japanese carriers almost undefended, with their flight decks full of refuelled planes and the hangar decks full of unstacked ordnance and fuel lines full of aviation gasoline. They attacked at exactly the moment when the Japanese carriers were at their most vulnerable.
    • The heavy cruisers Mogami and Mikuma collided next night, resulting in loss of Mikuma. At that point Admiral Yamamoto decided to terminate the Midway operation, instead of committing his battleships into action.
      • Yamamoto was not aware that USS Hornet had lost her whole air wing (it had landed on Midway because of navigation error and fuel shortage) and USS Yorktown had been sunk. He assumed that the USN had all its carriers still intact. In reality only USS Enterprise was at that moment functional.
      • A battle is lost when either of the commanders sees it is lost. Yamamoto lost his nerve and called it quits at the point where the battle could still have been won.
    • Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi, one of the most talented officers in the IJN, committed suicide by going down with Hiryu, refusing to be rescued. Stubbornness deprived the IJN one of its most able junior flag officers.
  • The Kursk sinking.
    • The welds of the torpedo weren't checked because it was a "dummy" torpedo, with no warhead.
    • The torpedo tube door, which would have contained the blast, hadn't been sealed properly, a common issue at the time.
    • The bulkhead, which would also have contained the blast, didn't because it had been pierced by a ventilation shaft.
    • Said ventilation shaft led almost directly to the control room in section 2, thus the blast immediately incapacitated the only people on the ship who could do anything.
    • The emergency buoy which would have given the submarine's exact location and told everyone the issue was big had been disabled, due to fears that it would trigger accidentally and give the submarine's position away to non-Russians.
    • No one was willing to risk being disciplined to investigate.
    • The Russian government refused all offers of help.
  • On September 1, 2001, a series of abnormal circumstances caused nearly all of Canada's major television networks to have new homes in Vancouver (Western Canada's largest metropolitan area) in one of the most complex series of mass affiliation swaps ever since the New World/Fox debacle. Said circumstances were the culmination of years of hostility between CTV's Vancouver affiliate CHAN-TV (otherwise known as BCTV), the most-watched station in Vancouver, and Toronto's CTV station, the flagship CFTO, and a mission to consolidate Canada's most prominent commercial network. CHAN's owners felt that CTV's management had shown favouritism towards CFTO, arguing that they had too much influence over CTV programming; CHAN really wanted to do a national newscast for CTV, but a newscast for its sister stations had to do for now. Meanwhile, CFTO's owner, Baton Broadcasting, plotted a national expansion by attempting to take over CTV itself.
    • At the time, CTV was structured as a cooperative, but to prevent a single owner from trying to take over the network, bylaws specified each unique owner only got one voting share, and buying other affiliates would just trigger the redistribution of shares among the remaining owners. Baton began to go on a buying spree in the late-1970's, purchasing CTV affiliates left and right, but it didn't give Baton any further control. During the cooperative era, CTV left some time slots open for local programming. In 1991, Baton created a systemnote  across its Ontario CTV affiliates, Ontario Network Television (ONT), to fill in these gaps. While it may have been Baton's first attempt to subvert the establishment, Baton argued that ONT was intended to be its answer to Global's CIIInote . While Baton's ultimate goal was to eventually gain control of the CTV brand, an advisor suggested that Baton have its own brand ready just in case its gambit fell through.
    • In 1993, facing declining revenue due to growing competition from Global and independents, CTV restructured into a corporation with shares owned by its station owners, and reduced the amount of programming it provided to only 42.5 hours per-week. Like clockwork, Baton launched the Baton Broadcast System (BBS) in 1994 to fill in the larger gaps; its programming was carried by Baton's CTV affiliates, as well as a handful of co-owned independents and CBC affiliates. Baton aggressively promoted BBS as the primary branding of all of its affiliates, and began to compete against CTV for rights to new U.S. imports. In 1997, Baton triggered an option to acquire the remainder of CTV, and the remaining stakeholders surrendered. Following the purchase, the BBS brand was replaced on-air by CTV, and Baton even changed its name to CTV Inc. the following year.
    • However, due to lingering quirks with the legacy affiliation contracts, CTV was now treated as one network for the price of two: the BBS programs were still technically separate from the standard affiliation agreement, which only covered 40 hours of programming per-week, even though there was no longer on-air distinction between them. Right after reaching a deal with CHAN and Vancouver Island sister CHEK to air the programs, Baton stole the BBS affiliation back and put the programs on their new station CIVT (VTV), which led to an awkward situation where CTV was split de facto across BCTV and VTV. Then, Baton began playing Executive Meddling by switching popular programs between the network lineup and BBS to screw with CHAN. It was no secret that CHAN was going to lose CTV to CIVT once its affiliation agreement expired, but then the dominoes fell:
      • In 2000, Canwest (owners of Global) bought CHAN and CHEK's parent company Western International Communications (Global was already affiliated with three of WIC's other stations). They planned to switch CHAN and its sister stations in Kelowna, Calgary, and Edmonton to Global, and make CHEK an affiliate of a new network — CH — which would consist of WIC stations that were not already carrying or switching to Global (the network itself was named after CHEK's sister station in Hamilton, CHCH).
      • Canwest sold its existing Global station CKVU to CHUM, who planned to re-launch it as a local version of Toronto's Citytv. As it took time for the acquisition to be approved, the station was to temporarily drop Global and become an independent until Citytv Vancouver's official launch in July 2002.
      • Finally, as expected, CIVT was to become the sole CTV O&O for British Columbia. Conveniently, all of these changes were set to occur on the same day: September 1, 2001. As if this weren't chaotic enough, the Fraser Valley also got the new religious station CHNU just 14 days later, and CHUM launched a new Vancouver Island station (CIVI) for its The New XX network a month later. Oh, and about that national newscast CHAN wanted to do? September 3, 2001 saw the premiere of the CHAN-produced Global National with Kevin Newman.
    • So what did everyone gain and lose from the shuffle? CTV lost access to BCTV's extensive network of over-the-air transmitters, having to rely on cable to get coverage outside of metro Vancouver (this point soon became moot due to the widespread adoption of cable and satellite TV in Canada). As part of the re-launch, CTV poached some of BCTV's talent, and branded itself as "BC CTV" ostensibly to confuse the BCTV faithful (CHAN branded its news programming as BCTV News on Global to maintain name recognition, before becoming just "Global BC" in 2006 as part of a network-wide rebranding). Said name was short lived; just a few years later, CTV's O&Os dropped their regional brands and began referring to themselves as simply "CTV" on-air.
      • CHAN continued to have the most popular newscasts in Vancouver, CIVT overtook CKVU as the second-place newscast in Vancouver (clearly, Vancouver did not like CityPulse), and Global's new home helped the network as a whole put a dent in CTV's dominance at the turn of the new century (however, CTV would end up spending a lot more on programming to catch up, especially after it was acquired by Bell Canada and the Globe and Mail). Citytv began evolving into a national brand (CHUM later bought Craig Media and its A-Channel chain, re-branding them as Citytv and moving the A-Channel name to its The New XX stations), Seattle independent station KVOS (a former CBS station turned independent which syndicated a large amount of CHUM-produced programming from Citytv at the time) lost its prime slot on many local cable systems, and Canwest now had a second network ... until it went bankrupt (CHEK and CHCH were bought out by its staff and Channel Zero respectively, and both run as independent stations. Some of its remaining stations either shut down, or defected to Global or Citytv).
      • By 2011, there was only one programming oddity remaining as a result of this chaos; unlike the rest of the country, where it aired on CTV, The Oprah Winfrey Show still aired on CHAN instead of CIVT. This was a side-effect of how the rights to the show were distributed in Canada, which, unusually, was licensed to the individual stations, rather than with CTV itself (for syndicated imports in Canada, usually the network owner itself acquires rights to the show, and treats it as a network program and sometimes puts alternate airings on its cable networks too), meaning that CHAN still held local rights to the show, even with the change in affiliation/ownership. CIVT most recently replaced Oprah with The Ellen Degeneres Show (which normally aired on A-Channel/CTV Two); Ellen would replace Oprah on a nationwide basis following its series finale.
  • Oh, the New World/Fox debacle of 1994? That was "fun". New World Communications (who you may know as producers of B-movies in the 70's and 80's, owner of Marvel Comics, and producers of The Wonder Years) had a decent slate of stations in major markets (most of which were previously owned by Storer Commmunications before they sold out to a junk bond king, George Gillett, and ended up with NW), and were about to expand further by purchasing stations from Argyle (previously Times-Mirror) and Citicasters (previously Taft Broadcasting, owners of Hanna-Barbera, Worldvision and a chain of theme parks which later ended up with Paramount, and are now owned by Cedar Fair). Most were affiliated with CBS, but some (especially the Argyle/Citicasters stations) were affiliated with ABC and NBC too. Fox had recently acquired rights to the NFL, specifically, the NFC—which, at the time, was the most prestigious of the two NFL conferences. Coinciding with this move, Fox looked to boost its image and prominence by getting established, VHF stations to become affiliates (at the time, most of its affiliates were on UHF channels, which were often Com Mons with no real legacy and hilariously high channel numbers), especially in NFC markets, for obvious reasons (only four NFC teams had Fox affiliates on the VHF band).
    • Right after finalizing the NFL deal, Fox announced that it would purchase a stake in New World, and that it would switch most of its stations to Fox. Some New World stations, particularly from the Argyle/Citicasters deal, were being sold off and/or held in trust because of FCC ownership limits at the time which forbade duopolies or a single company owning more than 12 stations, but also because some were in AFC markets. Citicasters would eventually sell WGHP-8 (Piedmont Triadnote ) and WBRC-6 (Birmingham) directly to Fox instead, and NBC bought up WVTM-13 (Birmingham) and KNSD-39 (San Diego). Then, in a joint venture, Fox gained minority control of four more soon-to-be Fox stations owned by Burnham Broadcasting (including those in Green Bay, Mobile, Hawaii, New Orleans) through the short-lived joint venture SF Broadcasting. NBC-instigated drama involving illegal foreign ownership ensued, and these stations were eventually sold to Barry Diller's Silver King Communications just nine months laternote ) but they've still operated as Fox affiliates to this day. Fox also bought an ABC affiliate in Memphis, WHBQ, from Communications Corporation of America under the presumption that the proposed Memphis Hound Dogs expansion team would come to fruition (that station was one of the stations previously owned by the infamous RKO General, which had engaged in a variety of illegal business practices and was forced to sell all its' stations, read about it all here).
    • A bunch of stations switched to Fox, and everyone lived happily ever after, right? Wrong. This is where things get complicated: in most markets, the affiliations just swapped between the two affected stations (in Kansas City, NBC would simply move from WDAF-TV to former Fox affiliate KSHB-TV). But in other markets, things were even more complicated due to a number of factors, including the need to find stations willing to accept displaced affiliations, as well as collateral damage from business deals by broadcasters to protect their relationships with networks or compensate for affiliation losses, and the growth of the new UPN and TheWB networks. Needless to say, things started spiraling out of control:
    • In Birmingham, Alabama, WTTO lost its Fox affiliation to former ABC station WBRC; however, this afforded ABC the option of finding a new affiliate since its existing contract with WBRC (long Birmingham's top-rated station) did not expire until September 1996, about a year after New World's sale of the station to Fox was announced. ABC offered its affiliation to soon-to-be independent station WTTO (which was losing its Fox affiliation to WBRC), but its owner Sinclair Broadcast Group did not want to air any of the network's programming other than that aired during primetime or produce local newsnote  — both were considered turn-offs for ABC. WTTO would ultimately join the newly-formed The WB instead.
      • CBS affiliate WBMG 42 was next on the list, and ABC even offered to buy the station outright. Instead, it decided to renew its CBS affiliation. ABC would have been better off without WBMG, given that this station was infamous for having a weak signal that could only be picked up in Birmingham proper — as if The Rural Purge hadn't affected them enough already. Making problems more complicated for that station, WNAL (a one-time satellite of WTTO) in nearby Gadsden, dumped Fox to join CBS; however, it never bothered to start a news department, and just simulcast WBMG's.
      • But because of this, the neighboring markets of Tuscaloosa and Anniston also had CBS affiliates: WCFT-TV (channel 33) and WJSU-TV (channel 40). WCFT's owner, Albritton Communications, decided to take the affiliation, and merge the station with WJSU to create an "extended coverage duopoly". Only one problem: although Nielsen could count the two stations as one for ratings purposes, it would not count viewership in Birmingham because they were considered to be out-of-market stations. So Albritton bought a low-power outlet in Birmingham (W58CK, renamed WBMA-LP), and made it so that WBMA was technically the main station and ABC affiliate, and WJSU and WCFT were acting as rebroadcasters of it, despite the branding "ABC 33/40" suggesting otherwise. Nielsen saw the logic, and would eventually merge Tuscaloosa and Anniston into the overall Birmingham market in 1998.
      • WBMG (now the sole CBS station in the region, after WNAL was bought by Paxson Communications and turned into a Pax TV owned-and-operated station in 1999) would be sold in 1997 to Media General (they would eventually sell the station to New Vision Television, only to get it back in 2014 when MG merged with LIN Media, the company that had recently acquired New Vision), which significantly upgraded its facilities and rechristened it WIAT, hoping to distance itself from its Dork Age. The general manager hired by Media General even went as far as to shut down the struggling news department for several months during 1998, only to relaunch it that September, with a format that proved more successful.
    • Meanwhile, in Detroit, the E. W. Scripps Company was talked into switching its ABC affiliates in Cleveland and Detroit (WEWS 5 and WXYZ-TV 7note ) to CBS to replace WJW and WJBK, which both were set to become Fox affiliates. ABC bought stations in nearby Toledo and Flint (WTVG and WJRT-TV, the former switching from NBC) from SJL Broadcast Group as a backup, just in case it lost WXYZ. Scripps ultimately agreed to keep ABC on the stations, under the condition that it also affiliate with four Scripps-owned stations in Baltimore (NBC affiliate WMAR-TV, long an also-ran in the market), Cincinnati (CBS affiliate WCPO-TV), Phoenix (former Fox affiliate KNXV-TV) and Tampa Bay (former Fox affiliate WFTS).
      • And with that, CBS ran out of options in Detroit: everyone elsenote  passed, and by virtue of its Paramount ownership, former Fox station WKBD was to join UPN instead. In an act of desperation, CBS bought WGPR — a relatively obscure independent owned by the Freemasons (and the first ever U.S. television station owned by African-Americans) on channel 62. That, plus opposition to the deal and the poor performance of the network at the time, afflicted the station now known as WWJ-TV (named after a sister news/talk radio station, which by contrast, is a lot more well-known and respected), "Detroit's 62 CBS", with extremely bad karma.
    • CBS was faced with a similar dilemma in Milwaukee, where the network quickly affiliated with the equally obscure independent station WDJT on very short notice: unlike in Birmingham, where ABC had at least until September 1996 to resolve its affiliation problems, WDJT started its affiliation only seven days after it was negotiated, which meant that the entire station felt very slapdash until Weigel Broadcasting (better known for its Chicago indepndent WCIU) finally worked out all the bugs and gave it a full news department a year into the affiliation.
    • Thought we were done? No. As a result of a deal with Gaylord-owned independent station KTVT 11 in Dallas (where KDFW had flipped to Fox), CBS also had to affiliate with fellow indie KSTW in Seattle; this resulted in KIRO 7, the network's longtime affiliate, which had just been sold by Bonneville International (the broadcasting division of the Mormon church) to the Providence Journal Company, affiliating with UPN. Eventually, because Belo bought ProJo and already owned KING, they engineered a multi-trade between Tribune Broadcasting, Meredith Corporation, Cox Broadcasting, Belo, and Paramount; Meredith acquired KCPQ 13 from Kelly Broadcasting, then swapped it to Tribune for WGNX 46 in Atlanta (which has been struggling to this day as a CBS affiliate ever since WAGA left for Fox, and is now named WGCL); meanwhile, Belo gave KIRO to Paramount in exchange for KMOV in St. Louis, the largest non-UPN station Paramount had inherited from Viacom; Cox (which had bought KSTW the previous month from Gaylord) would swap KSTW and $70 million to Paramount for KIRO. Hence, UPN joined KSTW and KIRO rejoined CBS.
    • But wait, there's more! Westinghouse got mad that Scripps backstabbed them in Baltimore to steal its 47-year ABC affiliation away from WJZ-TV, which had been one of the network's top affiliates. As a result, Westinghouse decided to enter into a group affiliation deal of its own with CBS; the company promised to run the full CBS schedule without preemptions on all its affiliates (Westinghouse was known for pre-empting network programs for its own syndicated programming, and switched WJZ-TV, KYW-TV in Philadelphia, and WBZ-TV in Boston to CBS.
      • CBS already owned WCAU in Philadelphia, ceded the affiliation to KYW, and planned to sell the station to NBC. But due to the possibility of having to make massive tax payments, CBS decided to organize a trade with NBC for its Denver and Salt Lake City stations, which also switched to CBS. Controlling interest in the two stations were given to Westinghouse, in exchange for CBS getting a minority stake in KYW. In turn, Denver's KMGH switched to ABC, and KUSA switched to NBC; while KUTV in Salt Lake swapped affiliations with KSL-TV and became a CBS station. Whoops. To compensate for the loss, NBC and CBS also switched signals in Miami: NBC O&O WTVJ moved to channel 6, and CBS O&O WCIX 6 moved to 4, and was renamed WFOR. All of these changes were timed to occur on September 10, 1995. Then KMGH's owner at the time McGraw-Hill (its stations are now owned by Scripps) decided to, for the benefit of all but one of its sister stations, do a group affiliation deal with ABC, which forced KERO (CBS) in Bakersfield to switch with KBAK (ABC).
      • Then Westinghouse bought CBS for $5.4 billion, making all of its stations CBS O&O's. One begin to wonders whether this was Westinghouse's intent all along. Eventually, Fox also bought out the rest of New World, making all of its stations Fox O&O's.
    • In the end, at least 60 stations were otherwise involved in the chaos one way or another—if this isn't further proof the National Football League is Serious Business, we don't know what is. With these moves, Fox ascended to its throne as the 4th major network, CBS (who had a bad reputation under Laurence Tisch, lost the NFL, and was part of a disastrous Major League Baseball contract) got the short end of a tree's worth of sticks, and NBC thrived because it wasn't affected as badly by the affiliation shifts. However, CBS has since recovered from Fox's bruises: it re-gained the NFL by picking up rights to the AFC, who had recently turned the tables in the NFL landscape over the NFC), and upon the turn of the century, new hits such as CSI, Survivor, and most recently The Big Bang Theory and NCIS helped CBS re-gain the title of top network, especially among younger viewers. ABC just seemed to have kinda stood there, given it was perhaps the least-effected network in all of this.
      • To this day, WWJ-TV is still CBS's weakest O&O, and even with several attempts to re-brand the station (including "CBS Detroit" and "WWJ TV", before settling on just "CBS 62" to standardize itself with its peers), it is still treated as the company's black sheep, and it barely airs any local programming beyond mandated public affairs shows (since joining CBS, the station has dabbled in local news a few times, but never to the same extent as its rivals, nor for that long at a timenote ). Though, this is also beneficial from a financial standpoint, as the station can maintain a presumably high profit margin that any attempt at a full news operation would eat into quickly. For reasons unknown, given that WXYZ didn't end up switching, ABC actually held on to WJRT and WTVG until 2011, when they were sold back to SJL. A few years later, SJL sold them again to Gray Television, a larger group that runs stations in mid-to-small markets.
    • So those New World stations: where are they now?
      • Only seven of them are still owned by Fox to this date: most of them (particularly in the relatively smaller/AFC markets) were sold to Local TV LLC (previously the TV station division of The New York Times Company) in 2008 (which itself got bought by its BFF Tribune in 2013). Local TV would trade WBRC to Alabama's media powerhouse Raycom for Richmond's CBS station WTVR. Fox tried to sell WHBQ to them too (given that the Memphis NFL team ended up being a Zonk), but Local TV couldn't buy it since they already owned CBS affiliate WREG.
      • In 2006, Media General would buy NBC's mid-market O&Os, including WVTM, requiring them to sell WIAT to New Vision (which was later acquired by LIN) because that would be an illegal duopoly, and WVTM was not in the ratings basement. Karma bit Media General right after they sold it; New Vision also made significant investments in WIAT, anchored by the extremely heavy viewership it receives during CBS's SEC football games (especially those involving Alabama and/or Auburn). In early 2015, Media General and LIN merged, meaning they had to sell one of those two stations again. This time, they shed WVTM to Hearst Television. Additionally, LIN sold WLUK to Sinclair so it could retain Media General's WBAY (although WLUK is the home of most Packers games, WBAY has historically had better overall ratings performance). When Nexstar bought MG, WBAY was divested to Gray in favor of keeping its existing CBS affiliate WFRV.
      • Somehow Fox actually kept WHBQ until 2014, when Fox organized a deal with Cox Media Group to trade its prized San Francisco Fox affiliate KTVU (home of the 49ers, and the largest Fox affiliate that wasn't an O&O) and sister independent KICU for WFXT in Boston (a large-market station, but in an AFC market — meaning that it only airs the odd Patriots game if it gets passed to Fox under the NFL's new "cross-flexing" rules, or they make it to the Super Bowl in a year Fox holds the rights) and WHBQ. Fox also pursued KIRO in Seattle to displace Tribune's KCPQ (home of the Seahawks), and later threatened to pull KCPQ's affiliation in January 2015 — the company had reached a deal to purchase a station, KBCB, in nearby Bellingham as a "strategic option". Instead, Fox reached a reverse compensation deal to maintain its affiliation through at least 2018, and said Bellingham station (whose purchase by Fox was more a failed negotiation tactic, since KCPQ didn't bow to the offer, not to mention that Fox would have wound up with an O&O that ironically doesn't produce much of a signal into parts of Seattle proper) returned to its prior status as spectrum auction bait.
      • In 2013, Sinclair announced its intention to buy Albritton. As Loophole Abuse to dodge the FCC's Obvious Rule Patch and crackdown regarding joint sales agreements (Sinclair already owns WTTO, as mentioned, and MyNetworkTV station WABM, and was originally planning on selling WABM to one of its, ahem, "friends", so it could take WBMA's satellites; low-power stations are not subject to ownership limits), Sinclair surrendered WCFT and WJSU to the minority broadcaster Howard Stirk Holdings (they're "friends" with Sinclair in a few other markets, but they've pledged to run it on their own this time), and moved WBMA's simulcast to subchannels of WABM and WDBB (a translator of WTTO, now part of The CW, owned by Cunningham). WCFT became WSES and now affiliated with Heroes & Icons (originally affiliating with Heartland until October 2015). WJSU became WGWW and also airs H&I, but continues to simulcast WBMA on its second digital subchannel. WBMA still calls itself "ABC 33/40", as "ABC 17.2/40.2/58/68.2" would have probably been a little much.
    • Throughout the whole mess, Fox Kids, then at the height of its' popularity, got screwed over — the block was seen as toxic by most of the switched affiliates, especially the weekday portion, since most of the stations wanted a better lead-in for their newly expanded local newscasts. This resulted in the block being relegated to UPN, WB or independent stations in many markets; the only real exception was in St. Louis, where the ex-ABC station, KTVI-2, was forced to pick up the block; they had tried to put it on local religious independent station KNLC, but thanks to their reverend owner deciding to replace ad breaks with editorials from him on things like abortion, plus a crappy signal (even on cable) and an inability to cope with one of the nation's largest Fox Kids Clubs, this didn't work, and KTVI had to pick it up. This was one of the reasons they sold the block to Disney, not to mention all the problems they had with Fox Family.
  • Very literal examples happen in Tour de France when somebody at the front of the main peleton falls over, resulting in nearly everyone behind him doing the same.
  • Ablation cascade / Kessler effect is a theoretical space disaster. It is speculated that if the mass of objects wandering in low Earth orbit reaches a high enough density, a collision would eventually trigger a chain reaction creating debris which would itself hit and destroy other objects, producing even more debris. It would eventually make space exploration and satellite use impossible for several generations, as the debris would be very slow to reenter Earth atmosphere and shred anything that tried to get past it.
    • See the Gravity entry (in Films) for a realistic portrayal of such an event in fiction.
  • This series of disasters during a chemistry experiment.
  • The Chernobyl disaster:
    • When the plant was built, the process was a bit rushed, and proper materials weren't all available. (For example, using bitumen in the roof.)
    • A safety test was scheduled, and it concerned a flaw in the timing of a backup generator.
    • That safety test was postponed. Instead of waiting for the next day-shift (who were more experienced and prepared), they did the test using the (less experienced and prepared) night shift, thinking "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?".
    • A power failure cropped up, and when they fixed it, the reactor was putting out minimal power.
    • To fix this, many control rods were removed. Meanwhile, deep in the reactor, a hotspot formed that the sensors didn't detect until it was too late.
    • When they finally did notice things getting out of hand, they turned on more pumps, seriously altering the normal coolant flow. Superiors gave orders to continue the test as planned, even though conditions by now were very different.
    • They decided to plunge the control rods into the reactor. Not only were there not enough of the rods, but they were also tipped with graphite, which actually caused a surge in power. (This is why more up-to-date reactors use water or other more stable materials as moderators, instead of graphite.)
    • The result was that pressure built up, causing two explosions, one that blew the (extremely heavy) cover of the reactor right off.
    • The graphite moderators caught fire, sending more radiation into the atmosphere.
  • The Gimli Glider event, which was a relatively contrived coincidence of misunderstandings between several people, poor design of several key systems, Unit Confusion and technical problems, that led to a Boeing 767 running dry. Very fortuitously the captain was an experienced glider pilot, which most probably saved the lives of everybody. (Indeed, in later attempts to recreate the flight in simulators, no other pilot was able to land the plane safely.)
  • The events that led up to the February 3, 2015 collision of a Metro North Railroad commuter train on the Harlem Line with a stopped SUV in Valhalla, New York that killed the driver of the SUV and five passengers on the train:
  • The Fox River Grove grade crossing collision, where a Metra train hit a school bus stopped at a red light on Algonquin Road and Northwest Highway and killed seven students, was the result of a sequence of events that could have been prevented:
    • At the crossing where the accident happened, the tracks of the UP Northwest Line run parallel to the Northwest Highway. Prior to the 1990s, the highway was a two lane road and there was about 60 feet of space between the tracks and the highway. When the highway was widened to four lanes, the distance between the tracks and highway was reduced to 30 feet so as not to impede business development north of the highway. The Illinois Department of Transportation also erected a modernized traffic signal to ensure traffic cleared the crossing in front of an approaching train.
    • The gates at the crossing on Algonquin Road only activated 20 seconds before the train arrived. However, the traffic light clearing the rail intersection only allowed cars to clear 18 seconds after the crossing signals activated, giving vehicles only 2 to 6 seconds to clear the tracks.
    • The accident happened in the early morning when the sun wasn't yet fully up.
    • There was a substitute bus driver driving the bus. She wasn't familiar with the route and failed to judge the distance between the light and the crossing, such that the last three feet of the bus were hanging over the tracks. While the students on the bus did realize the danger that was about to unfold and began screaming for the driver to move forward, this may have only further caused the accident by distracting the driver, since she was no longer watching the traffic light (which the NTSB determined turned green six seconds before the train hit), and trying to attend to what she presumed was some crisis within the bus.
  • In 2014, the wife of controversial NBA team owner and notable bigot Donald Sterling sued a woman that was considered to be his mistress, requesting back a duplex and several cars. The mistress replied by leaking a racist discussion with Sterling. All hell broke loose for Sterling's Los Angeles Clippers, leading the NBA to ban Sterling and strip him of the franchise - consequently purchased by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (though the money went to the wife that started it all). Then the owner of the Atlanta Hawks sees this racism-induced outbreak and decides to leave the team due to an equally insensitive e-mail he kept hidden for years.
  • NASCAR driver J.D. McDuffie's fatal crash was caused by a series of failures, mechanical and otherwise. First he touched wheels with Jimmy Means and broke his tie rod, causing him to not be able to steer his car. After that, the whole front wheel assembly came off, which resulted in another series of failures that left him with no brakes, meaning he couldn't steer or slow down. The corner he was going into had no gravel trap to slow the car, so he went headlong into the wall at over 150 MPH, hitting hard enough launch the car over five feet straight in the air and causing a fatal basilar skull fracture.
  • Apollo 13. It started with the ship's oxygen tanks being dropped during transfer from another service module. The vent tube used to drain the oxygen after testing was damaged. Normally, it wasn't a big deal, since they could just burn off the oxygen and it wouldn't be needed after the tanks were refilled and in space. But, someone failed to realize that an upgraded electrical system had been installed, and did not change the thermostat that normally shut down the tanks if they overheated. As a result, the increased charge going through the thermostat fused it shut and it could not shut off the tanks as they heated. This resulted in the insulation of the wires melting and leaving them exposed. Only the supercooled oxygen in the tanks kept the whole thing from blowing up on the pad. The problem was that by the time the explosion occured, enough oxygen had been used to expose the wires and allow a spark. Fortunately, no lives were lost that time.
  • And then there was the time when, at the height of WW2, a U.S Navy Destroyer almost killed their own President through sheer incompetence:
    • In November of 1943, the U.S.S William D. Porter is one of a number of ships escorting the battleship U.S.S Iowa, carrying Franklin D. Roosevelt to a conference in Mers-el-Kebir in French North Africa that would see the major leaders of the Allied powers meeting for the first time in the war. The Willie Dee begins its escort mission in U-Boat infested seas by severely damaging another Navy vessel with its anchor as it leaves its berth.
    • A number of mishaps and screw ups occurs during the journey. This includes having a depth charge roll off the deck and detonate, making the rest of the group believe that they are under submarine attack until the William D. Porter told them otherwise. They also lost a crew member when he fell overboard due to a rogue wave. These mistakes and mishaps see the Porter's captain, Wilfred Walter draw the ire of the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest J. King. Walter vowed to improve the ship and crew's performance.
    • On the 14th, the Iowa offers to show the President and his aides how the Iowa would defend itself against an air raid. They begin releasing weather balloons to fire at with the battleship's air defense guns. The William D. Porter was trailing behind some 6,000 yards behind. When some of the balloons begin to drift their way and into the range of their own air defense weaponry, Captain Walter—eager to show the capability of his crew in the eyes of the Chief of Naval Operations and the President in the face of all these screw ups—orders the crew to engage the balloons with their own guns. In addition, Walter orders a drill to practice firing torpedoes at another ship.
    • During this drill, the Porter's torpedo crews decide to engage the largest ship in the fleet, because it would be the easiest to target. In this case, the Iowa. The drill proceeds as normal, until the order to fire the third torpedo tube fires an actual, live torpedo. A live torpedo which is now racing towards the POTUS. They have less than two minutes before it strikes the ship, and the Iowa has no idea of the danger.
    • Walter immediately orders the Porter to send out a message to the Iowa that there is a torpedo in the water and it is coming for them. However, the fleet is under a strict radio silence order to reduce the threat of a U-Boat attack. In light of this, Walter sent a signalman to the deck to alert the Iowa using a signal deck light. But the signalman was young and inexperienced. In a panic, he first signals to the Iowa that a torpedo is in the water, but that it is going away from the Iowa. He then sends a second message, mistakenly telling the Iowa that the Porter is going reverse at full speed. All the while, the torpedo is still racing towards the Iowa.
    • The Porter finally decides to break radio silence and informs the Iowa that a torpedo is racing for them, and that they need to break right to avoid it. But by the time they send out the report to the Iowa, it's already in visual range of the Iowa's crew. The Iowa lists so hard to the right that the President, still on the deck, has to be held onto by one of his bodyguards to keep his wheelchair from rolling off the deck, and the torpedo gets so close that a second guard pulled out his pistol, ready to fire at it. Thankfully, the torpedo just misses the Iowa and explodes in the ship's wake.
    • In the aftermath, the Porter finds itself under the Iowa's guns, under suspicion of attempting a genuine attempt on the President's life for the rest of the trip, despite assurances from the Porter that it was all an accident. Sent to a naval base in Bermuda, the Porter was met by U.S Marines and the entire crew was put under arrest. Only one crew member was prosecuted and convicted of a crime, which was almost immediately pardoned by Roosevelt, but the stain of the incident would follow the Porter for the rest of its career. It was commonly met in port with the cry of “Don't shoot, we're Republicans!” It continued on to serve throughout the war, at one point seeing a drunken crew member fire a 5 inch gun at port and almost blow up a party at the base commander's home and finally sank during the Battle of Okinawa, when a Japanese kamikaze's crashed plane exploded underneath the Porter with enough force to literally blow it out of the water.
  • The Operation Valkyrie fiasco may be a consequence of, as a series of mistakes were made, their combination turned the plot into a failure, and it has been speculated that the plot would have succeeded to kill Hitler if a single one of those errors didn't happen:
    • The assassination was supposed to use two bombs. Stauffenberg only had enough time to activate a single one (he suffered from severe disabilities, including a missing hand), then get rid of the unactivated bomb instead of letting it inside its briefcase with the live one (the explosion of the first bomb would have detonated the second one);
    • The meeting has been unexpectedly moved to a wooden cabin instead of the usual concrete building where it was supposed to happen (the concrete walls would have reflected the explosion, making it much more destructive);
    • And then, when the briefcase with the bomb was left near Hitler, someone moved it, putting an obstacle (the table's leg) between Hitler and the bomb.
  • In a variant of this trope, the 2014 NFL playoffs were a chain of heartbreaks in the NFC side. Wild Card round: Lions are leading the Cowboys as the third quarter finishes, only for a reversed call to turn the tides and a close 24-20 defeat. Divisional Playoffs: the Cowboys lose 26-20 to the Packers because an overturned catch screws their comeback chances. Divisional Finals: the Packers lose to the Seahawks on overtime. Super Bowl: the Seahawks lead for most the game, and then the Patriots get the lead with 2:02 remaining (and Seattle's pain was worse due to a blown game call in the last play).
  • npm is the package manager for Node, a popular framework for developing Javascript-based web applications. The developer of several highly-used packages had also created one called "kik", a module for assisting in the creation of projects. One day, the owners of an unrelated messaging app also known as Kik sent a complaint to npm's operators, arguing that the kik package was infringing its trademarks. In compliance, "kik" was taken down and Kik was given rights to use the package name. However, in retaliation, the developer of "kik" took down all of their other modules from npm, including "left-pad", a module containing a mere 11 lines of code to implement a function that pads out string values. Of course, despite some developers questioning why such a basic thing needed to be implemented as an entire package, this package was widely used by many major Node projects and applications, and briefly broke them because they were unable to download their dependencies through npm.
  • The San Bernardino train disaster was fine example of this. If one of several things had gone differently, it's possible that six people would not have died:
    • First, someone didn't write the weight of the cargo that the train was hauling down on the form, and since the cargo, trona, which is heavier than coal, was loaded to a point well below where coal would be loaded visually (but to the maximum weight capacity of the hopper cars), the station clerk went with a visual inspection and estimated that the cargo was 40% lighter than it actually was.
    • As a result, the engineer, working off the wrong figures, underestimated the number of engines he would need, meaning he would not have sufficient braking power for going down the Cajon Pass.
    • Complicating matters was the fact that one engine at the front and one at the back did not have their dynamic brakes working, further reducing brake power.
    • On the way down the pass, when they realized the train was now a runaway, they pulled the emergency brakes, which turned on all the mechanical brakes on the train, but, for whatever reason turned off the dynamic brakes, which kept the train from slowing much.
    • The train hit a curve at the bottom of the pass, which had a speed limit of forty miles an hour, at over 100, causing it to fly off the tracks and hit several houses, killing four.
    • It gets better though, when cleaning up the trona that had spilled, some heavy equipment damaged a fuel pipeline running nearby, and that burst. The company responsible for the pipeline did not react to the sudden drop in pressure, and the emergency valves meant to stop flow in cases like this did not trigger. This resulted in a massive fire that killed two more people.

Ouch. Bad day all around.