"There's a difference between a failure and a fiasco. A failure is simply the non-presence of success. Any fool can accomplish failure. But a
fiasco, a fiasco is a disaster of mythic proportions. A fiasco is a folk tale told to others that makes other people feel more alive because it didn't happen to them."
Epic Fail: when normal, run-of-the-mill failure just isn't enough.
This is about something that should be fairly straightforward and typical for a character but then goes horribly, HORRIBLY wrong
in a manner probably thought impossible. It's when a character seems to be facing a pass or fail situation, a do or die type of test, and then fate hands them a third option
: fail in a manner so bizarre it's impressive. We're not talking, "Supervillain decides to shoot a random minion
but misses." We're talking, "Supervillain decides to shoot a random minion, but misses — and the bullet ricochets off two walls, smashes the instrument panel on his Doomsday Machine and ends up inches from the minion's head, weakening a structural support
and causing the base to come crashing down. And the minion is the only survivor
." A failure so ludicrously, unexpectedly awesome that, despite its status as a failure, it manages also to be admirable for its uniqueness and irreproducibility.
At its best the trope can give the viewer a much needed jolt out of a sense of boredom, it can produce a laugh out of something you wouldn't think could, it can inspire a temporary sense of fate or dramatic justice. At its worst, it can become a Deus ex Machina
, rescuing the writers from the fortress of logic they have enclosed themselves within with a Hand Wave
Often used against those who are Tempting Fate
, and sometimes as a demonstration of how monumentally screwed
you are in a Final Boss Preview
. When epic failures come in forms that shouldn't be possible, they can be examples of Beyond the Impossible
. Often this trope comes with an Incendiary Exponent
, possibly because of the Rule of Cool
. Disaster Dominoes
are a common part of such epic failures.
Compare Critical Failure
(a game mechanic meant to represent the normal ever-present danger in any action), From Bad to Worse
, For Want of a Nail
. This trope is the norm for Stupid Crooks
. If the Fail is so Epic that reality itself breaks trying to process it, then you've managed to make a Reality Breaking Paradox
. Contrast Flawless Victory
Not to be confused with Epic Flail
, though you can certainly commit Epic Fail with an Epic Flail if you're not careful.
If you're looking for the trope that used to have this name
, it's now Offscreen Moment of Awesome