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Gone Horribly Wrong
aka: Horribly Wrong
"This is a bad experiment! We are bad people!! WHY DID WE USHER FORTH THE GREEN APOCALYPSE!?"

Stock Phrase used whenever that nasty old "science" inevitably messes up royally.

The basic setup is simple: You have an outpost, a laboratory, a factory, or other facility dedicated to the research and production of technological marvels, staffed with flighty scientists and ambitious people pursuing a goal with the aims of profit, peace, or other potential applications. Oh. Did we mention that the research is into cheating death? Or that the forest that those free market capitalists are clear-cutting just happens to be rumored to have an ancient Indian Burial Ground somewhere within it?

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Well, let's see here.

In their quest to advance human understanding, make a profit, help humanity, design a doomsday device, or otherwise undertake a high risk, high payoff enterprise, these people will have something Go Horribly Wrong!

The variations are limitless. Perhaps the non-polluting energy source actually taps into the delicately balanced forces locked in a Cosmic Keystone or drains the planet's Life Energy. Or the hunger-killing super-wheat is actually a super-weed that destroys all ecosystems. And that's for purely peaceful things. Weapons of any sort will have things go horribly wrong on a cataclysmic scale. The "completely loyal" robot workforce has a programming flaw that makes them revolt. Maybe the Super Soldier program inherently causes insanity, mutation, or plain old megalomania.

These researchers will observe lax safety standards, laxer morals, and be prone to test things out on themselves or unwilling visitors. The Corrupt Corporate Executive will callously and maliciously disregard all warnings, even for basic safety and good PR.

Expect these people to send out a Distress Call or chronicle the debacle in an Apocalyptic Log, be visited by a group whose car broke down, or have things go wrong when the stockholders/government oversight committee comes to view their achievement.

This is comparable to a Freak Lab Accident, except at the beginning of a story. Heck, a lot of Speculative Fiction serves no purpose but to have something Go Horribly Wrong.

See also Came Back Wrong for when an attempt at bringing someone Back from the Dead Goes Horribly Wrong. For when the experiment would be successful but is deliberately sabotaged, see Spanner in the Works. In more cynical works, this may leave the character thinking "What Have I Done?". When Gone Horribly Wrong results in a project or product being scrapped immediately after its debut, it's a Disastrous Demonstration.

Of course, it can always get worse.

Compare with Gone Horribly Right, where the project in question does whatever thing/task it was intended to do, often with flying colors, but, does it in a way that is really, really, really, really fear-inducingly horrible enough to make its creators want to stuff it into a can and bury it, anyhow. An Epic Fail is Gone Horribly Wrong played for comedy.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Daitarn3 and Neo Human Casshern. Creating cyborgs who are superior in every way to normal humans? There is absolutely no way this is going to backfire.
  • Elfen Lied. Keeping that diclonius called Lucy seemed so easy, but as it turns out, it wasn't. "From Bad to Worse" is a mild way of putting the series.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist. Try to bring back mommy dearest to life? I don't think so.
    • Scientists create an immortal army that hates you because you put their souls in terrifying, freakish bodies and now they hurt all the time? Yeah, shooting them is a good idea. That will kill them for sure. Let's do that.
  • Franken Fran: Fran really just wants to help people, but she seldom thinks through the non-biological consequences of her operations.
  • Naruto.
    • Everything Itachi has planned since the beginning concerning his younger brother. After killing his entire clan, he couldn't kill Sasuke. Itachi's goal was to make his little brother be seen as a hero to Konoha, going as far as to die by his brother's own hands. Madara told Sasuke all of this and now... well, you know how it all turned out.
    • This problem was temporarily fixed by the revived Hokages. Unfortunately Sasuke took another message out of their story: the world must be united by a common enemy, so he will be that enemy.
    • The Sage of Six Paths shared his chakra with the people of the world so that it would act as a bond between them, fostering understanding and peace. Instead they created ninjutsu and used chakra to fight one another. This is why Madara views the society created by the Sage's ninshu as a "failed world" and believes that a more direct approach is needed.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the Second Impact (a cataclysmic event which changed the world forever) is strongly implied to have been caused by an experiment on a huge god-like being Gone Horribly Wrong. This begs the question of what kind of result did they think they would get. "I'll just stick this thingy into the huge god-like being that we don't under..."(Recording irreparably damaged from this point on)
  • Apparently getting used in experiments too much in Ginga Densetsu Weed caused Kaibutsu to be the monster he had become when we first see him.

     Comic Books 
  • Responsible for quite a few supervillian origins. For example:
  • Norman Osborn creates a compound that grants super-strength and healing powers. And turns him into the insane Green Goblin.
  • The New Mexico experiments with Gamma Radiation went very wrong for Dr Bruce Banner.
  • Doctor Finitevus' first use of his Chaos Siphon suit turned him into a Mad Scientist and bleached his fur.
    • Thrash The Devil had been told echidnas were evil for turning the race of Tasmanian Devils into dog-like Devil Dogs for ages. He, then, goes and banishes what's left of the echidna race in another dimension out of pure spite.
  • Empowered's superteam was looking for an easy win for the PR, so they try to bring down the obscure villain Willy Pete. It doesn't go well at all.
  • Daredevil's attempt to reform the Hand as its new leader in the Shadowland storyline failed horribly after the Hand's true leader, the demon known as The Beast, possessed him.
  • A real life example of this is the origin of the "Fatal Attractions" storyline in X-Men, wherein Wolverine has his adamantium stripped from his body. During a writer's meeting, Peter David suggested the concept... as a joke, parodying the extremes the franchise had gone to. To his horror, the other writers kept spinning it and created one of the most infamous X-Men stories of all time.
  • In DC's Flashpoint event, Barry Allen's attempt to recreate the Freak Lab Accident that made him The Flash goes horribly wrong and burns all of his skin off.
  • In the Marvel Universe, there have been attempts to recreate Project Rebirth for decades ever since Dr. Erksine was killed just after enhancing Steve Rogers into Captain America. Unfortunately, they have all backfired, most often creating supervillain maniacs and monsters like the 1950s Captain America and Nuke.
  • Morbius tried to counter his fatal blood disease but the experiment instead turned him into a living vampire.

    Fan Fic 
  • The Nightmare Virus from the Tamers Forever Series is much more sadistic and power-hungry than its programmer ever intended it to be.
  • In Glorious Shotgun Princess, Cerberus continues its trend, with characters joking about it on several occasions. In particular, Liara half-expected their project to resurrect Shepard to end in their usual "experiment killed all the scientists and took over the base" fashion. The fic is also known for giving rise to the famed "Cerberus Taco Cart Theorem" which states that most (if not all) projects that Cerberus undertakes will kill all the scientists and take over the base.
  • The failed formula in Plasma's Folly, which causes the subject's skeleton to transform at a faster race than the rest of his or her body. After Kelvin lost his first test subject to this, he was forced to abduct future victims instead of seeking volunteers.
  • The Conversion Bureau is a fanfic that went horribly wrong. The author of the original fanfic, Blaze, has gone on the record to state that the fic was solely written as Wish Fulfillment and as an explanation on his hypothesis on why Equestria had no humans. Instead, thanks to ham-handed writing, he attracted a sizable hatedom, some crazy authors with stories based on their own views set in his universe and a permanent reputation as an absolute misanthrope.
  • Naruto: Shinobi Insitute of Performance Analysis mixes this with Gone Horribly Right in the case of Itachi using Tsukiyomi (a genjutsu he barely understood) on Sasuke. The result? A homicidal sociopath that kills enemies and prisoners at every opportunity and brutally murdered at least one classmate before he graduated.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha fanfic Toward the World's End gives us this combined with Too Dumb to Live. The TSAB detect a huge anomaly in the void. What do they find? An artificial universe that appears to be doing something to other universes. What do they do? Shoot at it with ALL WEAPONS!. The thing creates shields out of nothing, and then fires back with some weapon that the TSAB can't even idenitfy. They manage to stop it obliterating Mid-Childia, but the radition that spills over destroys life and creates apocalyptic conditions on millions of planets in a ton of other universes. Including the one that Nanoha, Yuuno and OC Protagonist Arthur are on... Earth. If that wasn't bad enough, the radiation also unleashes Eldritch Abominations that are ONLY capable of destruction. Nice going, TSAB.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Gamma and the Civil Defense Tower are this. Both projects were hijacked by Wily and nearly doomed the world.
  • In Flash Fog, Caligo Manufacturing of Cloudsdale developed a new industrial cloud formula - one that is much more resilient and almost impossible to disperse compared to normal clouds. It works so well, the tanks can't hold it and the whole mixture becomes a fog bank. The whole story circles around how plain hard it is to eliminate the fog by conventional means.

    Film 
  • The film Alien: Resurrection had scientists clone Ripley in hopes of creating a Xenomorph for potential military applications. Things go horribly wrong when the cloning gave the aliens more grey matter than the scientists, allowing them to escape and wreak havoc.
  • The Terminator series. Because it's SUCH a good idea to make computers smarter than you then hand them military control. How come the only one smart enough to keep the Terminators from learning too much is Skynet?
  • The reason they have to drill into The Core: secret government experiments with a giant earthquake-causing weapon has somehow ruined the Earth's EM field by causing the core to slow down and eventually stop.
  • Crack In The World: Scientists try to tap magma from the Earth's core by detonating a nuclear bomb deep underground. This turns out to be a very bad idea indeed. Considering the fact that you can tap magma from the Earth's core at one of the hundreds of active volcanoes all over the surface of the world, they probably deserved to have it go horribly wrong.
  • The Dark Crystal is set 1,000 years after the urSkeks, a hyper-advanced species, made the ill-advised and arrogant (if somewhat noble) decision to try and eliminate their darker natures; a decision that literally caused a near-apocalypse-level event. This single choice wrought, in it's 1000-year aftermath, the eventual near-extinction of one race, the decimation of a second, and the creation of beings of pure evil that ruled over the planet for an entire millennium.
  • In Deep Blue Sea, scientists try to cure Alzheimers by harvesting the brain matter of super-smart genetically modifed sharks. What went horribly wrong? Well for one thing, experimenting with really aggressive sharks, underwater, on a platform in the middle of the ocean, with no way of easy escape might not be the best idea ever ... A shark fucking ate Samuel L. Jackson, for one thing.
  • The movie Event Horizon is about an attempt at FTL travel Gone Horribly Wrong. Really, REALLY horribly wrong.
  • The Fly. Teleportation experiment is upset by a literal fly in the ointment. And then it happens again. Twice. And then David Cronenberg gets hold of the idea and does it twice as well and ten times as ugly.
  • Jurassic Park. (And every other movie based on a Michael Crichton story, for that matter.)
    • Except The Great Train Robbery.
  • Omni Consumer Products "improved" police robots went Horribly Wrong in both RoboCop (1987) and RoboCop 2.
    • Murphy succeeded, but only because he's a special case. As shown by failed cases in the second film, most cyborgs don't handle their new existence well. Of course, using a drug-addicted criminal as a cyborg-policeman is probably not the best idea.
  • The big reveal of Serenity involves an experimental chemical named Pax. Given the name's meaning, you can guess what it was supposed to do, and for the most part, its problem was that it worked too well. But on a small segment of the population... You know the Reavers? Yeah, this is where they came from.
  • In Son of Godzilla, an experiment trying to control weather plans to start by freezing the tropical island it's happening on. Well, radio interference prevents the detonation of a specific device at the right time, resulting in a massive heat wave, tropical storms, and the already rather large (ten feet long or so) praying mantises living on the island growing to Kaiju proportions.
  • Species: They try to grow an alien child. Then they try to dispose of it when the experiment is shut down. Not happening.
  • Total Recall (1990) (1990): a routine implantation of false memories at Rekall goes haywire.
  • The Film of the Book Time Machine's The End of the World as We Know It is triggered when humanity starts excavating more living space into the moon with nuclear weapons. When the hero uses the titular machine to go forward a few years, he finds himself in a dystopia and the fragments of the moon in the sky are getting bigger and bigger...
  • The MST3K episode It Conquered the World where SCIENCE almost lets a giant Venusian pickle take over the world. Too bad that the chief head science guy "learned almost too late that man is a feeling creature? and, because of it, the greatest in the universe..." This episode also spawned its own Meme and possible alternative title for this trope in "He tampered in God's domain..."
    • Incorrect, that episode was Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster wherein Bela Lugosi attempts to create a "rice of pipples" by turning people into atomic supermen. It doesn't end well for him at all.
  • In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Flint Lockwood creates a device that makes it rain food. At first, everything is fine, but through constant overwork, the machine develops a mind of its own, and starts sending down bigger and bigger food, threatening to destroy the world.
  • Battlefield Earth. Beyond the obvious reference, how else can you describe the plot from the Psychlo perspective? You have a planet completely under your thumb, and one greedy mid-manager does an experiment on a subjugated race, which ultimately results in it gaining the knowledge and power to wipe out your home world and all of the occupying forces.
    • And the reason he bothers is he's so desperate to go back home that he's willing to do anything to get the money to buy his way out of the trouble he caused himself, making this trope also apply to the government official who exiled him to Earth in the first place.
  • In the 2008 The Incredible Hulk film, the army's experiments with Gamma radiation gives birth to the Hulk, and Thunderbolt Ross and Emil Blonsky's experiments with the super-soldier serum leads to Blonsky becoming the Abomination.
  • In X-Men: First Class, Hank's serum to allow him to change his feet to normal ends up transforming him into Beast. Doubles as Foregone Conclusion.

    Literature 
  • The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. No one knows for sure where such weird plants came from. But they produce high-quality oil and that's what matters, Just Think of the Potential! Of course, the oil's even better if their deadly stings are left intact, but simple safety measures are enough, right? And yes, that meteorite shower is... strange, but all the more reason that we cannot miss such an opportunity! Let's all go and look! Right?.. It's only natural... Wait, we just became hapless food for plants?
    • Trouble With Lichen averts this by having the chief scientist and the researcher who semi-stole the discovery anticipating the problems before they start.
  • Michael Crichton made his living writing novels about science that Goes Horribly Wrong.
    • With the exception of Next, where Science does reasonably fine, except for a few cases of rapidly aging a couple of drug addicts that it managed to cure anyway (there were 5, at most). It's greed that goes horribly, horribly wrong.
      • Also The Great Train Robbery, which is basically a Victorian caper story.
  • Downplayed and parodied in Mikhail Bulgakov's short story, "Heart of a Dog". The protagonist, Professor Preobrazhensky, experiments in the area of transplantation of animal organs to humans and vice versa, with the purpose of rejuvenation. His final experiment is transplanting a human's pituitary gland to the brain of a stray dog, which is adopted by him at the start of the story. The reader expects that the experiment will lead to the creation of a violent and homicidial mutant, but it's not true, the experiment's results are completely safe to humanity: just a short and hair-covered homunculus, who is almost as intelligent as a human. What's the catch? Well, the pituitary belonged to a persistent criminal and alcoholic, and the resulting hybrid personified the worst qualities of both humans and dogs - a heavy-drinking, lazy, violent thug, who is also pathologically cruel and sadistic to stray animals, especially to cats, due to his dog origins. He also sexually harasses Preobrazhensky's female servants and steals money from him. At the end, Sharikov (that's the homunculus's surname, which is taken from the dog's nickname "Sharik") becomes so annoying and cruel, Preobrazensky's assistant Dr. Bormental strangles Sharikov almost to death, then they remove the pituitary gland from his brain, and he becomes the dog again.
  • Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters by Gerry Davis and Kit Pedler. Look, we really need to do something with all that plastic junk anyway. Look how many things are made of plastics. So why couldn't microbiologists conduct some experiments privately? After all, little buggers eat only freakin' plastic, so even if some strain could go loose it's still completely safe, right? At worst, they'll eat... Oh. By the way, if low-oxygen organics decay, what can we get as a result?
  • In The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov aliens help humanity build the source of clean unlimited power which will, unfortunately, blow up the sun.
  • Striking Steel by Lukins. Defend your planet with a replicating anti-personnel complex! This metal hive's mini-rockets shred anything its radar sees moving: small arms, aircraft or shuttle, can even incapacitate armored vehicles. Then little robots collect the scraps and grow thousands of new complexes — no extra burden for your war-torn industry. They have proper communication and Friend-or-Foe, so you can keep them away from your troops and objects, but it's very secure, don't fear they will be hacked, in this you're ahead of the enemy. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?? Accumulation of their tolerable limits with copying, for once. Especially in the radio resonators of Friend-or-Foe and control. Three generations, and you're in Death World. And the time for Wi-Fi hacking is just too limited when all this Reverse Shrapnel rips your antennae.
  • A rare example of sociology going horribly wrong is Joe Haldeman's The Forever War. Instead of conscripting all the stupid people into the army, The Government conscripts all the smart and fit people for military service. Needless to say, things go horribly wrong on Earth soon afterwards.
  • One of the recent books in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, "Crosscurrent", involved an old Imperial experiment to create Force-sensitive clones by combining the DNA of various Jedi and Sith. Suffice to say that the result involved gratuitous amounts of human sacrifice and cannibalism.
    • Pretty much any attempt to clone Force-sensitives end up with insane Force-powered clones. It's speculated in universe that this is due to the Force itself rejecting or being confused by these strange beings.
    • Well before Galaxy of Fear, two scientists were performing experiments on the nature of life on Kiva, since the Kivans had offered to host them. Gog knew that the latest experiment would backfire and create a World-Wrecking Wave that destroyed all life on Kiva, but he convinced the other that it was safe. The other - Mammon Hoole - was utterly horrified by the result and blamed himself. So to Mammon it was this trope, to Gog it went exactly as he'd been hoping.
  • The First Contact on Rakhat in The Sparrow. About half the book is flashbacks to the events that led up to the mission; the other half is the "present day," when the damaged remains of the crew come back to tell the story.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Wings of Fire, the Night Stalkers were supposed to only go into Libya to destroy some missiles. Then Paul dies in the process of stopping the missiles and Wendy goes missing fending off a Libyan retaliation.
    • In Executive Intent, a Kill Sat is used in an attempt to destroy a bunch of terrorists and the missiles they hijacked. It misses and kills many civilians. Things get worse from there.
  • In Carpe Jugulum, the vampires try to get Acquired Poison Immunity to various vampire weaknesses by constant exposure to them, included a wide variety of holy symbols. Unfortunately, when their will breaks, they start seeing holy symbols everywhere.
  • In John Brunner's book The Dramaturges of Yan, a race of lonely aliens decided to convert their planet into a spaceship, using the rotary force of the planet's moon. Guess what: It shattered When they get a chance, they try again. It gets worse: This time the planet is destroyed.
  • Distant Rainbow by the Strugatski Brothers: Rainbow is the name of a lush planet which is used for experiments with teleportation. But one day the experiments create the Deadly Wave, which begins to consume all organics on the planet from poles onwards, dooming it.
  • In Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series one man's plan to seal away the Dark One ends up causing every man who uses magic to go horribly insane and rot while still alive. This continues indefinitely into the future as well... until the Dragon Reborn, our protagonist, restores the magic to its prior purity.
    • An even more extreme example in the same series happens before this, when all the trouble began when the greatest magic users in history discover a new and amazing source of power, without realizing that they are tapping into the Dark One's prison, thus unleashing Sealed Evilina Can and destroying civilization.
  • In Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space universe, while the origin of Greenfly is never explicitly revealed, it's strongly implied to have originated as some ancient race's (or distant future humans'... don't ask) terraforming device of sorts (as the artificial planetoids it transforms all planetary matter into are technically habitable).
  • The Rising and City Of The Dead: let's just run this particle accelerator and...oops, looks like we found the Sealed Evil in a Can that will wipe out our species with a Zombie Apocalypse. Joy.
  • In the children's book Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer and P.D. Eastman, a boy is instructed to feed his goldfish only a certain amount of food, and no more. But the goldfish still looks hungry, so he gives him a little more, and then the fish starts growing and growing.
  • In Coda, the music started as ways to calm people after the war, as medications were in rare supply. Then the people in power got hold of it...
  • In The Stand, the U.S. Army should have expected that trying to design a killer virus as a biological weapon would probably go wrong. But, they didn't, and it escaped...

    Live Action TV 
  • In Smallville, let's just say that literally every last one of Lex Luthor's experiments have Gone Horribly Wrong.
    • Truth: A truth serum that almost gets Chloe killed. Twice.
    • Onyx: Messing with lasers and green kryptonite leads to the creation of black kryptonite, which splits Lex into good and evil Lexes.
    • Power: A suit of sorts that bestows Physical Godhood is stolen by Lana.
  • Doctor Who has naturally dabbled in this, with a key example being the classic Third Doctor story Inferno. A scientist team attempts to drill through the Earth's crust to access an energy pocket to be used for fuel, but the pocket happens to come with nasty side-effects; namely a toxic slime that reduces humans to primitive ape-men and a colossal volcanic explosion that will roast the entire planet. The episode mostly takes place in an parallel universe, so we get to see the Earth (well, a fascist-controlled version of it, but Earth nonetheless) get destroyed in real-time with loving detail. Thankfully the Doctor was able to stop it before the cataclysm came to pass in his world.
  • This trope is used in a light, funny way in the episode of The Big Bang Theory entitled "The Vengeance Formulation." To get back at Kripke for humiliating him on NPR, Sheldon devises a scheme. He concocts a solution with the help of Leonard and Raj that has the ability to slowly expand and get all foamy, and puts some in the ceiling tiles of Kripke's office. However, the plan goes horribly wrong when Kripke enters his office accompanied by the president of the university and the board of directors. The foam breaks through the ceiling and drenches all of them. It goes From Bad to Worse when a pre-made video of Sheldon gloating evilly comes on Kripke's monitor, so the bigwigs now all know that he did it. He also names Leonard and Raj as accomplices.
  • The Incredible Hulk TV show.
    "Doctor David Banner: physician, scientist; searching for a way to tap into the hidden strengths that all humans have. Then an accidental overdose of gamma radiation alters his body chemistry."
  • LOST: the DHARMA Initiative has gone horribly wrong at least once, with "the incident" that necessitated pushing the button every 108 minutes. (The demise of most DHARMA members may count, too, after we find out the whole story.)
  • The X-Files is proof positive that you should not let scientists anywhere near a laboratory without very strict supervision by a non-governmental agency.
  • Many of the funniest moments of Whose Line Is It Anyway? happen when a game goes terribly wrong. Such as Wayne's H-O-R-W-A-R-D song, Ryan breaking the light on Drew's desk with his head, and the legendary "Quacking Elephants" sound effect game.
    • Or Ryan Stiles eating an entire tin of Altoids mints as a joke after a sketch ended. (Colin Mochrie had given him a quick kiss as part of the prior sketch.) It didn't take long for him to realize what a really bad idea it was.
  • In the Dollhouse episode "Omega" has Alpha's plan to turn Echo into another Alpha by causing her to undergo a composite event Go Horribly Wrong]]... for Alpha. Since the bulk of Echo's imprints were good guys, Composite!Echo is a moral person, and turns against Alpha. From the perspective of everyone else, the experiment Went Horribly Right.
    • Actually, it's made pretty clear that it's not the whole "bulk of the imprints" thing - it's who they were originally. Alpha was originally a serial-killer-in-training so he of course was evil, whereas Echo was (mainly) a good person back then so she was good. In the future, Alpha's good imprints have eventually turned him into a good person and he's scared of turning back to who he originally was.
    • Epitaph One is a bonus episode set in a future where everything has gone horribly horribly wrong.
  • Pretty much all science on Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the possible exception of Warren's robots. Whether it's mutant steroid fish men, demonic Frankensteinian cyborgs, the animated dead looking for a girlfriend, or just the plan to collect the school library info on a database, if it's on the Hellmouth it will work and then start killing people.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has several:

    Puppet Shows 
  • On an episode of The Funday Pawpet Show, Simba is dared to eat an entire pack of the new Listermint breath strips when they were first introduced. Not a pretty sight.

    Music 
  • Barrett's Privateers: The singer's character is convinced by the lure of easy fortune to join a privateer ship whose condition is somewhat less than perfect even before departure. Three months of deterioration are described in awful detail and only then do they engage their first target, which turns out to be armed far more heavily than they are. It all ends horribly badly, with only one mutilated survivor.
  • Sting's Something the Boy Said. At the end of the song, all the characters who started out so blithely and fearlessly are dead except for the singer and even he is too terrified to look behind him as he leaves the scene of the disaster, in case he sees his own corpse.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Happens all the time in Genius The Transgression. The number one cause is letting one of the Muggles touch your machinery. As these wonders don't really work on actual science, which gets imposed when this happens, this tends to drive them haywire instantly in many, many fun ways.
  • Each Lineage in Promethean: The Created started with one human trying to raise the dead for whatever reason - companionship, curiosity, slavery - and getting bitten hard in the ass by this trope. Prometheans themselves can fall prey to this trope, as they need to produce another Promethean in order to complete their Pilgrimage — and if they screw it up, they spawn a number of Pandorans that will turn on them and try to eat them alive.
  • Happens every now and then in the backstory of Warhammer 40,000. Not infrequently, the result is the Imperium destroying the planet where it has gone wrong.
    • Someone asked along the line why, 40,000 years in the future, the Imperium seems to not have any robots at all, at most an automated defense array or like that. Because, tens of thousands of years in "the past", they DID have robots all over the galaxy.. Until they decided they didn't want to be slaves any more and started a war that almost decimated the human race. Thus started a ban that, millenia later, has been incorporated as sacred law into the tech-worshiping religion of the Mechanicum. That's basically the best case scenario when something goes wrong here.
  • Happens all the time in Ravenloft, where Things Man Was Not Meant to Know seem to be a required course in any university science program.
  • Any given mission in Paranoia will inevitably go horribly wrong, as will all the experimental gadgets. In fact in Alpha Complex getting a new pair of boots can go horribly wrong. This is as it should be, as the universe runs on unleaded high-octane Rule of Funny.
  • Everything wrong with the universe in Mage: The Awakening is a result of someone lighting some blue touch paper he shouldn't have, and breaking the universe as a result. The False Awakening is a good example - it resulted from an impatient mage's attempt to force her Sleeper boyfriend to Awaken, and exists as a contagious form of twisted ascension that drives its bearers to destroy themselves and large chunks of the scenery. It can be cured by a true Awakening, but if these were easy to induce, there wouldn't be False Awakenings...
  • Pretty much the entire point of Fiasco.
  • How Florida got drowned in Trinity, as recounted in "America Offline": a young Aberrant (a superhuman) with power over the oceans was concerned about climate change in Florida, her home state, and attempted to stabilize the Gulf Stream. Unanticipated resonance resulted in massive ocean waves that killed millions of people, including the Aberrant herself.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Natalia and Noelia summoned the Steelswarm to fight the Fabled, but that backfired as Natalia lost her life.
    • Happened again when Avance tried to revive Emilia using the power of Photomirror/Soulmirror. The ritual turned Avance into the monstrous Levianima.
  • Rocket Age The Planet Killer Rocket for the Ancient Martians. The mutated slug controlling Dr Ritterbach would count as another.

     Theme Parks 
  • This is the plot of a lot of the thrill rides at Disney Theme Parks. It started with Star Tours, which opened in 1987. Before that, the "plot" was to just explore the place. When Star Tours opened, almost every ride afterwards followed the same concept.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock had an Objectivist Utopia go horribly wrong. Basically, the resident Psycho Serum caused everyone go insane, then President Evil had a civil war with The Mafia. Not to mention the hideous tumours and deformation on the infected , zombie little children draining blood from 'angels' (read: corpses) while accompanied by massive armoured brutes fused into their diving suits. If this wasn't more than enough, by the sequel we have a SENTIENT FETUS in a tank, a sub-Christian Communist cult (responsible for the above, and headed up by an exceptionally unpleasant example of the 'Splicers', a creature whose infected muscle tissue grows over it's clothes. Body Horror taken to the nth degree.
  • If you're going to make an MMORPG set in a Comic Book universe, you're probably contractually obligated to lampshade this at least once. City of Villains brings us the surprisingly Genre Savvy Vernon von Grun, a card-carrying Mad Scientist who not only expects things to go wrong, he looks forward to it:
    This is terrible! Nothing bad is happening! We did everything perfectly, but something has gone wrong! My plans are all off-track. Mad science isn't supposed to go wrong like this! But the true test of a mad scientist is how much worse you can make things go wrong.
    • His "colleague" Doc Buzzsaw appears to be not so savvy:
      Oh, what has science wrought? I sought only to turn a man into a metal-encased juggernaut of destruction powered by the unknown properties of a mysterious living crystal. How could this have all gone wrong?
  • Halo: Keeping samples of the unstoppable parisitic lifeform you just wiped out all sentient life in the galaxy in an attempt to starve for study? Fine, if you lock them away in a secure installation. It's not your fault that thousands of years later, a bunch of Cargo Cult religious fanatics decided that it would be a good idea to around, carefully ignoring your pointed warning.
  • Chrono Trigger has everything start going bad with Lucca's teleporter experiment. In hindsight, though, that was probably preordained.
  • In Dead Space, pretty much anything EarthGov does with the Markers goes horribly wrong in the form of Necromorph outbreaks. They want to study the Markers due to the fact that the Markers seem to produce enormous amounts of energy, and humanity is in a bit of a resource crisis at the moment. They are aware of the risks of people going insane, scribbling on the walls, killing each other and causing Necromorph outbreaks, and they take precautions against such, but they inevitably fail...
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: The backstory of the Zone: A group of Soviet scientists set out to cure mankind of violence, grief and greed by manipulating a psionic field around the Earth. Their experiment backfires and damages the psi field to a point where it breaches the physical plane and begins horribly warping the area around Chernobyl.
    • And if that wasn't bad enough It is heavily implied that the damage they caused is irrevocable, and the breach will continue to grow until the entire Earth is consumed by the Zone]
  • The plot of the Doom games has experiments in teleportation going Horribly Wrong, unleashing a plague of demons upon the surface of Mars. The Marines are called in to deal with the threat, and are wiped out except for one survivor who has to kill his way through the forces of Hell. And then, things get worse.
  • The Peak 15 facility on Noveria in Mass Effect was build to hold the queen of an insect species that once almost destroyed the whole galaxy and develop a method to directly control her brood. Not only did the part about controlling the brood didn't work out, the "holding the queen" part didn't work either. When asked a week later in the midst of a hideous disaster what Peak 15 was built for, the captain of the security guards doesn't seem too surprised:
    Captain Ventralis: Labs like these exist to do stupid crap that gets people killed.
    • It all seemed harmless... The Overlord experiment was anything but. Particularly for poor David Archer, the guy at the centre of the experiment.
    • This happens all the time with Cerberus. A majority of their projects (almost all of which are massively amoral and unethical) tend to backfire horribly upon them. In the Citadel DLC of the third game, Joker lampshades how frequently this happens, with Shepard being an example.
      • This is known as the "Cerberus Taco Cart" theorem in the fandom (based on this Three Panel Soul page), the basis being any project attempted by Cerberus will result in it going rogue and killing all of their guys, usually taking over their base in the process. For a full list of failed projects, see the Cerberus section on this page.
    • The Leviathans created the Catalyst in an attempt to find a solution to the danger that organic life will inevitably create synthetic life, which will then destroy its creators. The Catalyst created the Reapers as a response.
  • In F.E.A.R., saying that things have Gone Horribly Wrong is a massive understatement. Harlan Wade, who's actions throughout the game's backstory very nearly propel him right past the Moral Event Horizon, should've known that having his psychic Batshit Insane daughter impregnated and stealing her children away from her to engineer them into supersoldiers wouldn't end well. And it doesn't, once Alma gets free.
  • Say it with me now: Final Fantasy VII. Contains both the "power source draining the planet's Life Energy" and "borked Super Soldier program" varieties.
    • And the whole "Let's make a materia that can destroy the entire world! Who'd misuse that?" turns out to be a subversion. While it seems insane, it turned out to be the best way to stop Jenova.
    • Final Fantasy VI also has the Super Soldier variety. Hey, two out of three non-Omnicidal Maniac Generals ain't so bad!
      • Leo wasn't part of the experiment. That gives it a 50% Omnicidal Maniac output.
      • And they learned how to do it right after they tried it on Kefka, anyway.
  • Wild ARMs 3 features the Council of Seven and their Yggdrasil system, which sought to produce nanomachine colonies to modulate the amount of nutrients and resources of their planet, Filgaia, to rejuvenate it, so it could restore the amount of life it once had on it. And guess what? The project worked. Right up until the scientists realized that Yggdrasil was sucking the planet dry of absolutely every life resource it possibly had.
  • In the Geneforge world, experiments go wrong so often that laboratories, workshops, and schools are designed with the expectation that this will happen sooner or later. Some are built on uninhabited island, some are built underground, and some just rely on thick doors to seal the place off.
    • Which makes the Shapers the most Genre Savvy and sensible group on this page, since they know what they do is dangerous and try to control the experiments and consequences as much as possible. Almost all the strife and catastrophes in the series come from intentional misuse of Shaping.
    • And some of those Shapers used their Genre Savvy to contribute to making things worse. The Geneforge itself is a history of things gone horribly right, from Trakov to the latest Ur-monsters. Even the rebels most interested in applying its powers admit that its as terrible as it is successful.
  • Half-Life. A routine... whatever-it-was-they-were-trying-to-do procedure, but "Unforeseen Consequences" happen.
    • Half-Life 2: Episode Two reveals that actually everything went Just as Planned. Though we still have no idea what the GMan intended by goading the Combine to invade Earth and suffer a massive slave uprising 10 years later.
    • FROHMAN!
    • In the same universe, GLaDOS can be considered an experiment Gone Horribly Wrong.
      • Or an experiment gone right. Look — there's no evidence GLaDOS failed as a de-icing system, and she is arguably alive.
  • In Quake IV every mission seem to do this first your drop ship get shot down nearly killing you,then the EMP bomb plan fails, then you get turned into a Stroog, then you get shot into battle in a flying coffin (drop pod)which crashes. Basically then entire game is a series of plans gone wrong that somehow works out in the end.
  • In TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, Jacob Crow's attempts at eternal life result in zombies and the Timesplitters.
  • Transarctica's backstory for the new Ice Age is "Operation Blind", a plan to cool global warming by kicking up dust with nuclear weapons at the poles.
  • System Shock: Let's just say that SHODAN wasn't designed to do what she did.
    • SHODAN was messed with before things got worse, though.
  • Outpost Two: Eden's terraforming microbe was intended to break apart organic molecules and release oxygen to make New Terra into an earth-like planet in a single generation. Organic molecules like the ones in our bodies. Needless to say, it gets loose and starts eating everything on the planet.
  • In Prototype, there were two virus-based experiments. One, Blacklight, was a case of Gone Horribly Right. The other, Redlight, which Blacklight was based upon, was more of a Gone Horribly Wrong. Among other things, instant Zombie Apocalypse as soon as the latter gets released. This is why you don't try to create ridiculously powerful bioweapons without off-switches, folks.
  • In Trauma Team, Albert Sartre's research into the Rosalia virus ultimately ended in an entire university becoming infected and dying, him going insane and murdering Rosalia before similarly succumbing, and ultimately a massive part of the US population becoming infected with the virus.
  • In Freelancer, it is implied that the massive Negative Space Wedgie nebula in the Texas system was caused by an incident at a jumpgate research laboratory. The details are unclear, but it can't have been pretty.
  • In Gauntlet: Legends and its re-release Dark Legacy, Garm attempts to summon the Demon King Skorne and use his power to usurp his older brother, Sumner, as the ruler of the Eight Realms. To do this, he requires the thirteen Runestones, but after a long time searching, Garm only manages to find twelve. Growing impatient, he goes ahead with the ritual anyways without the thirteenth Runestone, and manages to summon Skorne from the Underworld. Lacking the final Runestone, though, Skorne breaks free from Garm's control and crushes him to death, then proceeds to lay waste to the Realms.
    • Subverted in the true ending of Dark Legacy when Garm absorbs power from Skorne's remains to begin his own campaign to conquer the Realms.
  • In the Fallout series, most of the underground Vaults seemingly designed to spare the population were in fact huge-scale social experiments designed to test their residents in order to determine their suitability and effectiveness in the event of the populace escaping the war on starships. As the player character, you can locate and explore several of these vaults... most of which are abandoned, in ruins, littered with skeletal corpses and containing plenty of evidence to suggest that these experiments went very very badly wrong. Considering that the nature of most of these experiments took the form of sadistic and largely pointless psychological torture, this is not entirely surprising. And then there's the ones that had Gone Horribly Right instead...
  • Star Control 2 has several examples: first, the Slylandro Probes. The Slylandro meant to program the Probes to go out and make contact with other alien species, and in the meantime, self-replicate using nearby raw materials. They accidentally set the priority for "self-replicate" above "make contact", unfortunately, meaning that the Probes see everything as raw materials to be used in self-replicating (the Slylandro are horrified when they learn of this). The other example is the Mycon, a race of sentient fungi engineered by the Precursors as a terraforming system... that, due to several millenia of being left to its own devices with no input, now terraforms in reverse, seeking out fertile, beautiful planets and turning them into hellish firestorms in which to make more Mycon.
  • The Xel'Naga of Starcraft made the Protoss and the Zerg to make the next generation of Xel'Naga. The Protoss attacked them after they realized that the Protoss were diverging from the plan due to them revealing themselves, while the Zerg killed and ate them due to sabotage from a third party known as The Dark Voice.
  • Portal 2 halfway through the game introduces the origins of GLaDOS and how she became the overhead of Aperture Science. Cave Johnson had his secretary, Caroline, be uploaded to a computer should he die before he could be uploaded. Caroline didn't want this at all, but she was forced against her will and essentially became immortal and stuck running the facility forever as GLaDOS. She then proceeded to kill all the scientists that tried to control her and make test chambers full of death traps.
  • This is the plot-triggering event of X: Beyond the Frontier. Your character is a test pilot of a prototype jumpdrive-equipped starship, Earth's first attempt at Faster-Than-Light Travel in nearly eight centuries. During the jump test, the jumpdrive goes haywire and locks onto the method used by the previous attempt, in other words the X-Universe jumpgate network. As the drive charges, you can hear the scientists yelling everything up to and including "Abort the jump test!" Then WHAM! Suddenly you're on the other side of the galaxy with most of your ship's systems shorted out, and to add insult to injury, within a few minutes, you're a few thousand credits in debt to the local Proud Merchant Race for making your ship able to fly again.
  • Concentration Room begins when a group of kids visiting their parents at a drug research facility are exposed to a botched batch of Truth Serum.
  • Halo 4 's Spartan Ops lampshades this, with two missions in Episode 5 set one after the other titled 'Nothing Can Go Wrong' and 'Everything Has Gone Wrong'.
  • There's a sizeable one in the backstory of Hatoful Boyfriend. When humanity was devastated by a new flu strain and the population dropped by seventy percent in two years, scientists unleashed a virus to annihilate the birds that spread the flu. This killed many birds, but it uplifted the survivors, who promptly started to fight humanity. The end result is that the world is run by birds and humans are a tiny minority living in caves, and there are still agitators on both sides.
  • The portal that warps the Legions of Hell into Avencast: Rise of the Mage was opened by an experiment in dimensional travel. Subverted in that this was exactly the result intended by Meganteolis as a way to get back to the Kyranian relics and enslave Morgath.
  • Pokémon villains usually run into this at some stage, though the crowner has to be in Platinum, wherein Cyrus's plans managed to piss off this universe's equivalent of Satan, who stopped the world-remaking process, dragged Cyrus into a twisted dimension, and almost flat-out destroyed the planet instead of remaking it.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • Lots of Whateley Universe examples, but how about the Russian program to create a nanotechnology Super Soldier? The best iteration had one functional survivor... who melted into goo a year later.
    • Or how about the bioengineering mad scientist who was found on a personal military submarine... or, rather, the people searching that submarine found around a dozen or two protozoan monstrosities, and no trace of the crew.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series
    Shadi: But then something go horribly wrong.
  • Lampshaded in MSF High Forum, as Michelle quotes it word for word. "If I'm in hand-to-hand combat, things have gone horribly wrong."
  • In Episode 666 of Bowser's Kingdom, Geno believes that the Zombie Apocalypse occurred because of the Parasol Corporation's attempts to create an unbreakable umbrella.
  • Agent Fix from the Protectors of the Plot Continuum originated in a story where he was part of a Super Soldier program where the participants had their minds wiped in an attempt to ensure their loyalty to the corrupt and evil government. Unfortunately, there was one side-effect to the drugs... it didn't wipe residual emotions, meaning that when a bunch of super soldiers similar to Wolverine woke up with no memories but surrounded by people they hated, the result was a massacre.
  • Starwalker: The star step drive has the unfortunate consequence of destroying stars and, by implication, entire systems.
  • The Onion: What Kind Of Powdered Chocolate Drink Mix Have We Unleashed Upon The World?

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time has Princess Bubblegum and her Frankenstein's Idiot, Lemongrab. She created him in her laboratory as the heir to the throne, in case something happened to her. Well... he didn't turn out as planned. Instead of a proper, reasonable heir, she ended up with a screaming, brain-damaged, mentally challenged, borderline autistic sourpuss with a pathological obsession with sending people to the dungeon. She stuck him in a castle outside of the kingdom, but he came back when she was transformed into a child, as she was "too young" to rule the kingdom. He ended up screaming at everybody and sending all of the candy people to the dungeon for one million years. All of this because something went wrong with that life serum...
    • Goliad is an even worse example. A candy sphinx created by Princess Bubblegum with her own DNA to lead the kingdom as an undying ruler to succeed her upon her death, she easily becomes corrupted due to following Finn and Jake's inept teachings in ruling. Without the timely intervention of the Princess's more successful experiment, Stormo (created from Finn's heroic DNA), she could have easily destroyed the entire kingdom with her psychic powers.
  • Beast Wars, Scorponok hits Optimus Primal with a cyberbee designed to turn him into a coward. Unfortunately, Scorponok is an incompetent scientist and instead turns Optimus into a crazed berserker who, by the end of the episode, tears through the Pred base with ease.
    • Rampage was an attempt to replicate the immortal spark of Starscream. While that part was successful, Rampage was also driven completely nuts. And almost unstoppable. He broke out, and brutalized, massacred, and ate his way through several Cybertronian colonies before he was finally stopped.
    • An inversion when the Predacons infect Rhinox with a virus intended to make him into a Predacon (basically, it removed any inhibitions and gave him tons of ambition). Optimus, a good friend of Rhinox, immediately relizes what will happen and simply sits back to watch the fireworks. In a matter of days, Rhinox uses his genius-level intelligence and newfound ambition to subvert the Predacons from within and is an inch away from getting rid of Megatron. Luckily (for the Predacons), the Maximals find him and turn him back.
  • The underlying premise of the 90's cartoon Exo Squad was that, in an effort to terraform Mars and Venus, humanity genetically engineered a race called "Neo-sapiens" that were bigger, stronger, and more durable in pretty much every conceivable way... and used them as slave labor. Nope, can't see any way that could go wrong.
    • Luckily, they're sterile. And can collapse into a pile of mush. Yay, science.
  • The Nanites in Generator Rex were created to improve life on Earth and the human condition. Then something happened at the primary Nanite research facility that released a batch of Nanites with incomplete programming, infecting every living thing on Earth. Now every living thing on Earth, from people to bunny rabbits, has a chance of spontaneously mutating into a horrible monster at any moment with little, if any, warning.
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "The Invisible Monster". Dr. Isaiah Norman's experiment gets away from him and creates a mass of energy that exists only to feed on other energy - including living things.
  • ReBoot: Wellman Matrix was just trying to find other systems and create a doorway to them through his experimental stargate. Unfortunately the targeting scanners locked onto Killobyte in the Super Computer and transported him to the stargate and overloaded it. This triggered a massive explosion that obliterated Mainframe's twin city and spawned Megabyte and Hexadecimal in the process.
  • Dr. Weird from the openers of the first two seasons of Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
  • In The Tick, a scientist tries to genetically engineer the perfect Non-Ironic Clown. The only surviving hatchling (yes the clowns hatched from eggs) became the monstrous hulking superpowered Proto-Clown who quickly goes on a city wrecking rampage. He does manage to fulfill his intended purpose at the same time: his rubber nose's squeaking immediately makes people laugh. Unfortunately, the Proto-Clown hates it when people laugh at him. His city wrecking rampage was triggered by his creator laughing at him, and the attempted Cooldown Hug fails when his nose squeaks and everyone laughs.
  • Invader Zim episode "Big Bad Rubber Piggy" has Zim try to use a time machine to erase Dib from existence. Because the time portal will only allow rubber piggies, Zim uses them to put past Dib in painful situations. Eventually, Dib becomes so physically malformed that Professor Membrane gives him an exoskeleton that grants him the power of "Ten THOUSAND LITTLE BOYS!!" The result is a super-strong and weaponized Dib rampaging through Zim's base, and each piggy sent in from there just makes Dib stronger.
  • Ernest Le Vampire: Simple household tasks would end this way, useually in "vacuum cleaning leads to the house burning down" kind of way, or a "picking up a can leads to the house collapsing" kind of way. Fortunately every episode was a nightmare
Flying DutchmanThis Index Is CursedGone Horribly Right
Gone Horribly RightMake My Index Live!Mr. Seahorse
Going to Be One of Those DaysStock PhrasesGonna Need More X
Gone Horribly RightIndex FailureHand Wave
Gone Horribly RightAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Grey and Gray Morality
Gone Horribly RightSpeculative Fiction TropesGovernment Drug Enforcement

alternative title(s): Go Horribly Wrong; Goes Horribly Wrong; Horribly Wrong
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