Anachronisms are funny. As are "prophecies" uttered by people who are in a position to lose a great deal of influence, money or credibility if they are wrong.
The best thing about Alternate Universes is that they have things we can't possibly imagine being true. Why can't the reverse also fit?
Oftentimes, be it a medieval setting or anything else where things we know about have no business existing, something abundantly familiar to our modern audience is put forth as a hypothetical. The punchline is that no one thinks it could possibly be popular, allowing us to laugh at how wrong people's predictions of the future really are, and pat ourselves on the back for being so clear-eyed.
Compare Call Forward and Who Would Want to Watch Us?, which refers to the show itself, and Historical In Jokes that re-interpret the past in terms of the show. Contrast I Want My Jetpack, where our present makes a wrong prediction about the future. Note that this is also Truth in Television, as many things/people that are now legendary were considered potential failures: neither Elvis Presley nor the Beatles got good reviews when they were obscure, and many people couldn't see any use for a home computer. The polar opposite is This Is Going To Be Huge.
This trope does not cover cases where a person simply doesn't like something that later turns out to be popular. Nearly every book in print today was rejected by several other publishers, and every famous actor has been rudely dismissed from an audition at least once. This is not necessarily short-sightedness; perhaps the actor simply wasn't right for that role, or hadn't yet matured into the person we know and love today. This trope comes into play when the rejection (or begrudging acceptance) is accompanied by a blanket statement that proves to be spectacularly wrong.
People reinventing things that did catch on didn't know It's Been Done. Not to be confused with Hilarious in Hindsight, but examples of this trope are very often that as well. Contrast Cassandra Truth, where no one believes the dissenting voices who say that some new famous or trendy product, idea or phenomenon is wrong. See also And You Thought It Would Fail.
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Renault invoked this trope in one famous ad; each time they introduce a new car, somebody says "ca ne marchera jamais" (it will never catch on) but all cars of this ad were commercially successful.
The NFL did a series of commercials for several years lampooning wild predictions made by fans and pundits.
A series of radio ads for a local towing company on Vancouver Island plays with reenactments of how a call would have played out a century ago between a customer and the company. In one, the customer says, "I tell you, these trains will be running long after they stop using these new fandangled automobiles!" The trains stopped running on Vancouver Island several years ago.
Hohenheim: Haven't you studied Einstein's theories? Ed: No-one believes him.
Which at the time that episode took place in was mostly Truth in Television. Certainly some believed him by then, but relativity was still controversial enough to be passed over by the Nobel committee.
In the Shin Chan episode "Concerto in the Key of Butt Minor", Shin's father remarks that DVD was a passing fancy upon getting a videotaped invitation to Ai's piano recital. Erm, no.
One Piece has the seven warlords remark that they don't consider Blackbeard a threat; since he has no reputation and will never be respected as a pirate.
Bakuman。: Fukuda claims that Crow will never be a hit manga while working as Eiji Nizuma's assistant; claiming it will get canceled after introductory three chapters. Over the course of the first season and the first arc of the manga, dozens of chapters are ordered and an anime is commissioned; leaving Fukuda bewildered at the success of Crow.
The "caveman" segments of Archie Comics often bring up futuristic technology. Jughead once drew pictures of a telephone and a car; the girls scoffed at his nonsensical pictures. They would also have characters use modern words and slang in spoken sentences, and then have other characters inquire just what those words meant.
Caveman Reggie:(after an accident) Look what he did! He rubbed all the greasy kid stuff out of my hair! Caveman Jughead: What's a greasy? Caveman Archie: What's a kid?
In "August", the Emperor Augustus says "That will not last" about the names of the months July and August, named after himself and Julius Caesar. note Considering what happened to other (admittedly later) emperors' attempts to change the names (Nero and Domitian come to mind), this would not have been an unusual sentiment.
In "Men of Good Fortune", Hob Gadling comments that there'll "never be a real demand" for printing. The same issue also has an elderly 15th century man complaining that chimneys are a bad idea, and it was much healthier when houses were full of smoke.
Hob Gadling did, however, correctly predict that the Bowdlerized versions of Shakespeare's plays wouldn't have any lasting popularity.
Watchmen has the editor of The New Frontiersman react to a possible run for the presidency by Ronald Reagan (Robert Redford in the film) by saying, "This is still America, goddammit! Who wants a cowboy actor in the White House?" In the film, he leaves off the actor part and just says "cowboy".
B.C. used this one all the time. In an early strip, one of the girls is getting B.C. to try on a new outfit she's designed; he comes out wearing a three-piece suit and says "It'll never sell." An early running gag is that the wheel will never catch on.
In All-Star Western, Dr Amadeus Arkham is rather taken aback by Nighthawk and Cinnamon, masked vigilantes who stalk the night in New Orleans. He's glad there'll never be any call for that sort of thing in Gotham City.
Way before an apple fell on Sir Isaac Newton, another one fell on Pitheco. He tried (and failed) to pitch the idea. Of course, Isaac Newton probably didn't go around dropping apples at people's heads.
Sir Roger of Lockbramble in Prince Valiant has devoted a large part of his castle gardens to growing an exotic herb called tea. Valiant and Gawaine can't imagine the English people drinking it.
In League of Extraordinary Gentlemen side-story Nemo: Heart of Ice, inventors Frank Reade and Jack Wright are very dismissive of their colleague James Swyfte's most notable invention, an electric rifle, and scoff at his claim that one day some variation of it will be used by police officers all over the world. When we actually see him use it, it's clear that Swyfte's rifle is a precursor to the modern taser, which obviously is used by police officers all over the world today.
As it happens, James Swyfte is based on Tom Swift; in real life, the taser was not only inspired by, but named after Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle.
Yu Gi Oh The Abridged Series has a reference to Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds, having Tristan say that "In the future, card games will be played on motorbikes." when asked why he's riding one. Yugi comments that it had to be the dumbest thing he's ever said and scoffs at the idea. Then it cuts to a picture of the promotional poster to drive the point home.
It became Hilarious in Hindsight when, during the debut panel for the 5Ds dub, the voice of Yusei was revealed to be Frank Frankson (Tristan's VA from episode 11 on).
Possibly the only interesting item had been a job request from a set of personifications in the east. It hadn't exactly been easy, but they had been told to come back when they could come up with a better name. In his [Hades'] opinion, a name like "the Seven Deadly Sins" was never gonna sell.
Both the film and comic of Astérix in Britain have Asterix introduce tea to Britannia. However, the film ends with Getafix declaring it will never catch on.
Films — Live-Action
Evelyn one scene has a bartender trying to adjust a TV antenna to watch a TV interview with Desmond. After fiddling with it for the longest time with no luck in improving the picture, he gives up muttering how TV will never catch on.
In Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin are hanging around the Hollywoodland sign talking about the new sound movies, or "talkies", which Chaplin believes will never catch on. This was Truth in Television for Charlie Chaplin. As a physical comedian, he was one of the great resisters of talkies. His Tramp movies had international appeal, which would be severely reduced by adding an English soundtrack. Chaplin continued to make silent (or near-silent) movies long after the rest of Hollywood went for sound, producing the final Tramp movie - Modern Times - in 1936.
The Passion Of The Christ has a scene of Jesus building a dinner table at a modern height, to be used in conjunction with an upright chair, in contrast to the Roman habit of reclining beside low tables. Mary doesn't think it'll catch on. This is actually anachronistic, as standard tables have been around for thousands of years, while the Roman style of reclining was only a recent invention at the time.
In Titanic, Rose's fiancé isn't impressed with a painting by a then-obscure Picasso, and doesn't think he'll become famous.
There was a hilarious example in the recent film Molière involving the capitalist son of an idle aristocrat. He comments on how production of a good would be more efficient in Spain than in France as you can pay the workers less there. This leads his father to remark sarcastically something like, "The next thing you know you'll be talking about moving production to China."
"John Wayne? That's a terrible name for a cowboy!"
"Hey Chon, you're lucky I didn't invest in that ridiculous 'auto-mobile' idea. Yeah, that's gonna make a lot of money."
In the second example, he is also claiming that zeppelins are going to be huge after investing a substantial amoung of gold into it (interestingly, Zeppelin did not begin construction of his first airship until 1899, and the movie takes place in 1887).
In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, while hanging around Hamlet's castle, one of the title characters independently discovers Newton's principle of reaction, observes that objects of different weights fall at the same speed, invents a rudimentary steam engine and even constructs a paper model of a biplane with little propellers. Outrageous fortune, however, attends and ruins all his attempts to display these discoveries to others.
In the first movie, Marty meets the future Mayor of Hill Valley, Goldie Wilson, working in a diner. When Marty says that Wilson is going to be Mayor, Wilson's boss just scoffs, "A colored Mayor. That'll be the day."
This troper believes it's either timely commentary or a hell of a coincidence that Harold Washington became Chicago's first African-American mayor two years before this movie's release.
And related to it, when Marty goes by the name "Clint Eastwood" in 1885 Hill Valley, Bufford Tannen replies, "What kind of stupid name is that?"
And, of course, Doc's hilarious tirade after Marty informs him who the president of the U.S. will be in 1985. ("Ronald Reagan! The actor? Then who's vice-president, Jerry Lewis?")
And the Doc's surprise at finding out that all the best cars and electronics are made in Japan.
In an early draft of the script, the Doc refuses to invest in the Xerox company, wondering aloud, "How are they going to sell a product if you can't even pronounce the name?"
Again when the men in the bar scoff at Doc Brown's predictions that people will run for fun in the future.
Director: It's sports. Ron: Around the clock? Sports all the time? Director: That's the concept of the news... Ron: That's never gonna work. That's ridiculous. That's like a 24-hour cooking network or an all-music channel. Ridiculous, that's really dumb. Seriously, this thing is going to be a financial and cultural disaster. SportsCenter, think about that. That's just dumb.
In the film of Stephen King's Riding the Bullet, set in what seems to be the late sixties, two characters remark that the rock gods of the time will never grow old and will be around forever — they simply can't, they're rock gods. Sure enough, they cite Jimi Hendrix as an example.
In Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Judge Doom reveals that the goal of his master plan is to own land that will be used by the city in a massive construction project called a freeway. Eddie Valiant is rather skeptical of all this.
Judge Doom: Eight lanes of shimmering cement, from here to Pasadena. Smooth, safe, fast. Traffic jams will be a thing of the past. Eddie Valiant: So that's why you killed Acme and Maroon? For this freeway? I don't get it. Judge Doom: Of course not. You lack vision, but I see a place where people get on and off the freeway. On and off, off and on, all day, all night. Soon, where Toon Town once stood will be a string of gas stations, inexpensive motels, restaurants that serve rapidly prepared food, tire salons, automobile dealerships, and wonderful, wonderful billboards as far as the eye can see! My God, it'll be beautiful!
Eddie's comment after The Reveal about Doom's character:
Eddie Valiant: That lame-brained freeway idea could only be cooked up by a Toon.
Depending on interpretation this could be another case of artistic license. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? takes place in 1947. The freeway from Hollywood to Pasadena was constructed in 1940. It could be argued that since we're dealing with an alternate reality where Toons and Toon Town exist, the existence of Toon Town prevented the construction in 1940.
In the satirical comedy Bullshot, the 1930s hero scoffs at the idea that the future world economy will be based on oil, or that England could ever be run by a woman (despite England having already had several queen-regnants, when the monarch was actually a position of power).
At the beginning of Singin' in the Rain, everyone at a party among movie people scoffs when shown a demonstration of "talking pictures" and predicts that Warner Bros.' new talkie will flop. Of course, when it becomes a huge success, all the other studios quickly install their own sound equipment.
Goodbye Lenin features one of these in a deleted scene. The movie takes place in 1989, but one character, an amateur filmmaker, is wearing what seems to be a Matrix t-shirt, with the green data pattern from those movies (1999-2003). In the deleted scene we find out why: it turns out he has a friend, also a filmmaker, who was telling him about his idea for a movie where humans are kept in an artificial reality by robots. He remarks that he likes his friend's design sense but thinks his movie idea is ridiculous and doomed to fail.
This is used a bit in The Wedding Singer, which was filmed in the late 1990s, but set in the 1980s. One example combines this with Analogy Backfire. The protagonist's lecherous friend talks about how he modeled himself after John Travolta, and he's been a growing failure at keeping up the image as he's aged, just as "[Travolta's show] got cancelled!" John Travolta, of course, famously ended up having a big comeback with Pulp Fiction.
Boss Tweed in Gangsof New York mocks the short sleeves worn by a Chinese card dealer to show he's got no cards up his sleeves, saying "Let's pray that never becomes the fashion."
A Credits Gag in Night at the Museum 2 shows a World War II serviceman reverse-engineering Larry Daley's lost cellphone, interrupted by his mother calling his name: "JOEY MOTOROLA!!" However, this is a historical inaccuracy. Motorola has been around since 1928, with one of their first commercial products being car radios. Starting in 1940, they picked up quite a few defense contracts, culminating in the production of the AM SCR-536 hand-held radio - which was vital to Allied communication during World War II.
Jimmy Fallon's character in Almost Famous: "If you think Mick Jagger will still be out there trying to be a rock star at age fifty, then you are sadly, sadly mistaken."
Julie And Julia had several examples, probably based on real life anecdotes:
The head of the Cordon Bleu Institute tells Julia Child that she is a terrible cook.
Paul Child consoles his wife upon the rejection of Mastering the Art of French Cooking: "You could have a television show!" This cheers her up, but she laughs at the idea.
Babes In Arms begins with a vaudevillian being warned that vaudeville might soon be eclipsed by the motion picture. He, of course, laughs off this warning.
The character of Virge in Memphis Belle (set in 1943) is obsessed with hamburgers and will tell anyone who will listen (and everyone else as well) about his idea of starting a chain of hamburger restaurants, all with the same architecture, producing burgers to the same specifications. Most people simply laugh and tell him that no-one wants to eat the same food everywhere they go. However, White Castle dates back to the 1920s.
The board members in The Hudsucker Proxy think Norville Barnes' Hula Hoop invention is utterly worthless, but go ahead with mass production of the item for the sake of a massive stock scam. They are subsequently ruined when the product is a hit.
In Goodbye Mr Chips, one of the masters is reading a novel and replies to another who asks about the author: "It's his first. He'll never come to anything. He's too fantastic." The novel is The Time Machine and the author is H. G. Wells.
Among Caractacus Potts' not-quite-working inventions in his lab in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are a vacuum cleaner and a TV antenna.
Going by the style of the car, and the steamship and so on, the film is set in the mid 1920s to early 1930s. Vacuum cleaners were available at least since the 1880s (although ones that were small enough to carry around, as opposed to parking them in the street on a cart, weren't available until the early 1920s), and the earliest television sets went on sale in 1928.
A deleted scene in Sherlock Holmes has Lestrade express exasperation and incredulity when Holmes suggests that he employ a photographer to record a crime scene.
In the Czech film Císařův pekař - Pekařův císař, Emperor Rudolf sees Edward Kelly smoke tobacco (a novelty from the New World) and says that it will never catch on. Other items that get dismissed in a similar manner include the kaleidoscope and peanuts.
Played with in The Buddy Holly Story when Buddy calls 3D movies a flash-in-the-pan. He is perfectly correct... for the first (50s) 3D craze. The movie was released in the late 70s, during the second period of mainstream 3D popularity (which had been a bit too long to call flash-in-the-pan).
In the 2006 French film The Tiger Brigades (set in 1912), one of the detectives demonstrates a new invention by a friend of his: handcuffs! His boss ridicules the idea when he's easily able to pick the lock (a problem faced by some modern handcuffs too).
The 2009 Japanese film Fish Story has this with the eponymous track. It's a catchy punk piece with Word Salad Lyrics, but in 1975 it just wasn't mainstream enough. The band knows that it won't sell, but they decide to record it anyway.
Like the Singin' in the Rain example above, silent film star George Valentin in The Artist insists that sound motion pictures are just a fad. This attitude all but destroys his film career.
In Super 8, this is the sheriff's reaction to the Walkman cassette tape player that the gas station attendant is listening to.
Played for drama in Boogie Nights, when Jack Horner refuses to convert to from shooting his movies on film to VHS because he believes that he's Doing It for the Art. Unfortunately, the industry he's working in is the pornographic industry, which makes it abundantly clear that it cares very little for the art...
In The Queen, Queen Elizabeth refuses to fly the palace flag at half-mast in homage to the recently deceased Princess Diana, to much controversy. Her husband, Prince Philip, concurs, saying the furor surrounding the Royal Family will just "blow over" by the end of the week. But then...
Similar to the Boogie Nights example above, Jackie Treehorn in The Big Lebowski expresses disdain for the fact that porn migrating to video; he can't afford to invest in things like story. However, he goes on to say that he would be willing to try something electronic. The Dude responds like so: "I still jerk off manually."
The 2013 CBC movie Jack, about Canadianpolitician Jack Layton, shows numerous people throughout Jack's career underestimating how much of an impact he or his ideas could make.
In the sci-fi novel The Cross-Time Engineer, one character tells a bartender that women in bunny outfits (à la Playboybunnies) will help business. Also something of a subversion, in that the bartender takes his advice, but eventually has trouble finding new employees when the girls keep running off to get married.
In one scene in Witches Abroad, the witches discuss whether they could fly people about on a "really big broom" in a manner reminiscent of commercial airline travel, alluding to the names of several Roundworld airlines in the process. Naturally, they decide it'd never catch on.
Mad Scientist Leonard of Quirm has developed sticky notes, espresso (or "very fast coffee", as he calls it), and the bicycle, among other things, but is never quite sure if the devices he invents will catch on. Leonard of Quirm tends to do this most often with his weaponry designs. He will often devise a weapon capable of annihilating whole armies or destroying mountains, but is naive enough to believe that no one would build or use such a destructive weapon.
He seems to be learning, however; in Jingo he designs an underwater war machine then reconsiders and destroys the design... but only after Nobby Nobbs has spent nearly the entire book pointing out to him the ways it could be used in war.
Leonard also invents an encryption machine (at Vetinari's request) which he calls something long and convoluted.note Engine for the Neutralizing of Information by the Generation of Miasmic Alphabets The initials of its name work out to Enigma, a real-world encryption engine used by the Germans in WW 2. Leonard's inventions are brilliant, but the names never catch on. In the same vein, he calls the previously mentioned underwater war machine affectionately the boat, in lieu of calling it the Going-Under-The-Water-Safely Device. He points out, that he came up with the convoluted name after considering that the boat is submersed in a marine environment.
Rincewind in The Last Continent: "What kind of idiot puts beer in tins?" Also the practice of hanging corks from a hatbrim to keep flies off. People he meets disbelieve that this could work, because surely someone would have thought of it by now.
Done in Good Omens with Agnes Nutter, a precognitive witch. She is considered mad for her belief in such bizarre health ideas like washing up and jogging.
On the other hand, Agnes also does predict some things that really DID never catch on. (Doe Notte Buy Betamacks.)
Believe it or not, this goes all the way back to Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities; first when Darnay gets yelled at for suggesting that George Washington will become better known than George III, and again, played for irony, when Monsieur the Marquis remarks that the line of Kings Louis of France will continue for eternity — and he says this during the reign of Louis XVI, of course.
In another example, also Older Than Radio, Edgar Allan Poe used this in his 1845 story "The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade". It is written as an epilogue to the Arabian Nights, in which Scheherazade makes the mistake of putting modern (for Poe's time) inventions in one of her stories, causing the disbelieving sultan to have her executed.
Marc Acito's novel How I Paid for College, which takes place in the 1980's, has a few of these, but the one that stands out is one character claiming that "Madonna's a flash in the pan. She'll never last."
In the Marcus Didius Falco series, Falco, a Hardboiled Detective in Ancient Rome, writes a play, The Spook Who Spoke, whose plot is remarkably similar to Hamlet. The actor he describes it to instantly rejects the idea, as ghosts don't speak in plays. On another occasion Falco encounters a Gaulish cook, which he finds ridiculous, as that country will never be famous for good food.
Two examples in Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle: Enoch Root's friend thinks tea is too esoteric for the English to ever warm up to, and Eliza mocks Jack's butchering of thaler into dollar.
In The Night Angel Trilogy, King Logan says he wants to write a book about words. Not with words, about them. Telling what they mean. A Dictionary. Kylar doesn't buy it.
I'm Going To Invent The Dictionary is practically a trope of it's own. It is proposed by a printer called Tedren in Kristin Cashore's Bitterblue, a character in the short story 'I hate Dragons' by Brandon Sanderson proposes writing a book of words as an alternative to his current job as dragon-bait and the best known example is from Blackadder as mentioned below in Live Action TV.
In Jericho Moon, set shortly after the Trojan War, a Canaanite prince excuses his never having learned Greek, because nothing worth reading ever has been, or likely will be, written in that language. Also, a caravan drover is considered crazy for insisting that his camels are "the ass of the future": everyone knows that those over-sized, smelly, bad-tempered beasts can't be domesticated.
The Wheel of Time does this once or twice, since it's hinted that it takes place in a past/future Earth. The funniest comes in The Great Hunt (not direct quotes, but close enough.
Thom Merrilin: They say they don't need my stories! Some fool out there is pretending to BE Gaidal Cain! (continued rant on how ridiculous the idea of theater is)
In Mary Renault's The Praise Singer, Historical Domain CharacterOnomakritos gets caught forging prophecies. A few are described. The one about a lightning-flash from Macedon which would burn the Great King's throne is obvious nonsense, but the one about Atlantis rising in the west and aspiring to rule the moon, sending up heroes in flying chariots, is crazier still. *
The book mentions one other prophecy, bud since it's taken from Herodotus's account of the whole business, it's much less interesting.
Gerald Kersh's Comrade Death. The main character, tractor salesman turned Arms Dealer, is laughed at by his first client and friends because the idea of a weapon salesmen is ridiculous at the start of the 20th century.
In the final Time Scout novel, one unpleasant downtimer goes on a misogynist rant when he encounters a female uptime reporter. He particularly laments that women are taking mens' jobs, usurping respectable professions like the secretary, polluting the office with their wanton ways.
In the first Dragonology book, Dr. Drake comments that he thinks the designs the Wright Brothers are experimenting with are impractical and unlikely to ever work. Considering that he's an expert on DRAGONS, there may be some overlap with Arbitrary Skepticism.
The SPQR Series novel The Sacrilege is full of references to people finding the idea of Julius Caesar holding serious political power in Rome hilariously ridiculous, with one instance of the entire Roman Senate, including the protagonist, literally rolling on the floor laughing at the very idea.
In Resurrectionist, Mad Doctor Colonel Hyde makes several remarkably correct predictions about the future of medicine, forseeing such things as organ transplants.
In the Doctor Who episode "Vincent and the Doctor" it is shown that no-one in Vincent Van Gogh's time likes his paintings. At the end of the episode the Doctor takes him to the future to show him that his art is among the most loved art of all time. This one is mostly Truth in Television, though perhaps not quite to the extent the show played the trope.
Don't forget: Oh, Tricky Dicky, they are never going to forget you" (To Richard Nixon early in his presidency, referencing, among other things, Watergate)
Each installment of the Saturday Night Live Steve Martin sketch, "Theodorick of Yorik, Medieval (Barber|Judge|Dentist|etc)" ends with the title character stepping forward to make an optimistic speech about how, in the future, perhaps their backward systems will be replaced by ones based on rigorous scientific method rather than barbarism. Then, he dismisses the whole thing with, "Naah."
The docudrama Pirates of Silicon Valley is chock full of these moments as everything we take for granted about personal computing is scoffed at by the executives of major computer and office equipment firms. (Things like desktop PCs, the Graphic User Interface, the mouse, etc.) In fact, Xerox PARC (the Palo Alto Research Center) is infamous for the sheer number of innovations they came up with that were discarded or dismissed by management, only to become huge successes later. "I just made a program that plays blackjack." "Why would anybody want that?"
Eddie Izzard has a bit with an inventor in caveman times saying he's going to be famous, his invention (which involves twiddling sticks together until sparks and warmth happen) will change the world, and they won't have to eat salads all the time. But his wife says It Will Never Catch On. "Jeff Fire, you are not gonna be famous!" ("Oh yes I am, Sheila, and do you know what I'm gonna call it? I'm gonna call it: Jeff.")
In Life On Mars, most of Sam's suggestions about what the future will hold are bluntly shot down by his 1973 colleagues as being ludicrous; of course, Sam knows exactly what the score is, because he's from the future. One of Gene Hunt's memorable responses to Sam's hints:
Gene Hunt: There will never be a woman Prime Minister as long as I have a hole in my arse.
Margaret Thatcher MP: I don't think there will be a woman Prime Minister in my lifetime.
Another time, Sam suggests installing a TV in a pub so people can watch the upcoming horse race.
Nelson: What's that? Sam: It's a television. Nelson: ... In a pub?
And it's not always comedy.
Sam: You know nothing about football! I used to go to football with my dad. United and City fans used to walk to the match together. Our next door neighbour, he had a City flag up in his window. Kids used to play together in the street — red and blue. But then people like you came along and you took it away from us. Peter Bond: A good punch up's all part of the game! It's about pride. Pride in your team. Being the best! Sam: No it isn't! This is how it starts, and then it escalates. It gets on the telly and in the press, and then other fans from other clubs start trying to out do each other. And then it becomes about hate! And then it's nothing to do with football any more! It's about gangs and scumbags like you roaming the country seeing who can cause the most trouble. And then we overreact, and we have to put up perimeter fences and we treat the fans like animals! Forty, fifty thousand people herded into pens! And then how long before something happens, eh? How long before something terrible happens and we are dragging bodies out?
Chris: It's proper ambulance-chaser telly. It'll never last. Gene: Of course it won't... it's for students with greasy hair and the clinically insane. Chris: And my Auntie Irene. Mind you, she is insane.
In one episode of the American version, Sam tries to talk down a jumper who lost all of his money investing in "portable telephones." Ray is absolutely baffled by the concept — "Who wants to carry around a phone?"
Late in the first season of LOST, a flashback has Christian saying, "That's why the Sox will never win the Series." Of course, a month after Christian's death, they had done just that. Later on, when Ben and the Others have Jack captured, they use a clip of the Red Sox's World Series victory to prove to Jack that they had contact with the outside world (he had previously scoffed at their claim for this reason).
Played With in a sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look sketch, with the joke being that the inventions won't catch on because they're peripherals for things as yet not invented - a wooden computer mouse, a windscreen wiper ("the device for wiping clean a screen that, in as yet obscure circumstances, would shield one from the wind"), a can-opener ("the device for extracting food that has somehow become encased in metal"), anti-viral software (a long scroll of ones and zeroes, which he no longer remembers the purpose of), and a Sky Digi-Box.
This was a major Running Gag on the short lived show Do Over. The protagonist is a 34 year old man who is reliving his high school years. About Once an Episode, his mom would present an invention of hers that was almost exactly like something that's popular today. His dad would then claim that it would never catch on for a reason that sounds idiotic to a modern audience.
And when he tells his dad to invest his money in computers, his dad instead invests in Beta VCRs, saying computers are just a fad and beta machines are the wave of the future.
Played with on M*A*S*H, set in the Korean War but produced in 1972—83. Despite Klinger's urgings, Dr Winchester refuses to invest in commercial production of both the Hula Hoop and the Frisbee.
In an episode of The Wild Wild West, the two heroes, trapped at the bottom of a dry well, toss rocks into the well's bucket to lower it and escape. Artemus Gordon suggests that this might be the basis for an enjoyable game: "bucketball!" Jim West vetoes the idea.
And in "The Night of the Big Blackmail", Gordon speculates that entertainment using the newfangled kinetoscope could be profitable. West scoffs.
One episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, in which the witches are particularly long-lived, has an investment bond mature. She'd bought the bond for a really low price initially because nobody thought hygiene would catch on.
In a flashback episode of The Nanny, Fran scolds her mother for making up stupid ideas like "frozen yogurt". Another flashback had Sheffield scoffing at the notion of a Broadway play about singing cats; this became a Running Gag as people would constantly bring up how he had passed on Cats and he would continue to voice his bewilderment over its success.
In another, while Max and C.C. are developing a T.V. show, C.C. at the end pitches another idea for another show, and the producer (played by Hal Linden) says that it sucks. She basically described Barney Miller.
Cats wasn't the only play Max rejected. He also rejected Hair and Tommy.
In an episode of That '70s Show, Red and Kelso are fixing the Atari Pong game:
Red: Congratulations, son! You have seen the future! Kelso: Yeah, yeah, you're so right, Red! Home computers! That is the future! Red: No, no, no. Not computers! Soldering! The future is soldering! Computers...
It looks like Red will add another to his list of disappointments and broken dreams.
In an episode of The Middleman, a cryogenically frozen-in-1969 previous Middleman (Kevin Sorbo, for the record) cracks a joke about "Beam us up, Scotty." He then apologizes for the obscure reference, "Cancelled TV show, you've probably never heard of it."
Used in the second Black Adder series episode "Potato". Of the eponymous tuber:
Blackadder: People are smoking them, building houses out of them... they'll be eating them next!
In another episode of Blackadder the Third, Samuel Johnson meets with Prince George, eager to hear his opinion on his book — the dictionary. George finds the idea of a book without a plot absolutely ridiculous, and doesn't see the point of the thing anyway.
In an episode of the short-lived Western Police ProceduralPeacemakers, two men who struck it rich decide to invest in the latest invention of a fellow called Thomas Crapper: the flush toilet. The town sheriff is visibly skeptical of this.
Note: like The Other Wiki article lists, Crapper did not, in fact, invent the flush toilet. He did, however, tweak the design into the sort of float valve thingy that was used in flush toilets up until lo-flo became the rule.
Murdoch Mysteries is full of these in one form or another, but one in particular is from the episode "Still Waters", where Murdoch tastes coffee for the first time. Revolted, he demands, "Who would drink this when they could have tea?" Who indeed.
Generally, the examples involve Detective Murdoch using some newly invented device or technique that is, in the show's time, unknown in Canada, and Inspector Brackenreid expressing the skepticism. (Bracenreid usually ends up begrudgingly acknowledging the successes of said devices and techniques though.)
Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield did a sketch for 2009 BBC Comic Relief spoofing Dragons Den (another BBC show where entrepreneurs try to persuade a panel of investors to back their business idea) by doing an early Victorian era version with the hopefuls (played by the original show's businessmen) pitching ideas like flush toilets and toothbrushes. Inevitably the "Dragons" dismiss the ideas as nonsense, with one character saying that he wishes for a "big metal bird" to fly around in, but that isn't going to happen either.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. A serious example occurs in "Far Beyond the Stars", when Captain Sisko starts to hallucinate that he's a science-fiction writer in the 1950's. He submits an excellent story about a space station called Deep Space Nine, but his editor tells him to drop the idea of a Negro captain as it's "too unrealistic".
Everybody Hates Chris has one where Greg's dream of owning a store that sells nothing but coffee is squashed by the Guidance Councilor.
"What's next? A store that sells nothing but staples? Or a store that sells everything for 99 cents?"
Another episode has Chris' uncle who is always trying some get rich quick scheme selling tapes from his car, and nobody wants to buy them. The tapes are of Beastie Boys, Run DMC, Public Enemy and a few big 90s rappers.
Chris's brother tells Doc about sushi being brought to America and suggests that they should start selling some in the store. Doc laughs at the idea. Chris narrates that Doc later went broke.
In yet another episode, a lady describes her boyfriend as a film director who will never be a household name. The director's name? Spike Lee.
In ANOTHER episode, Julius declines on investing in the George Foreman grill.
"This guy is bad. This is his first and last movie."
In the French show Kaamelott, set in Arthurian times...
A Burgundian translator says it about languages: "Originally, I wanted to learn Modern Greek, but there was no place left. All that was available was Burgundian and English. English! But that's even less common..."
In another episode, when Merlin tries out "modern medecine" instead of magical healing, King Arthur tells him it will never catch on. (Though that's understandable, considering the best Merlin could come up with was throwing salt in an open wound...)
The short-lived show Thanks has the younger girl who's entire purpose was to predict future discoveries and/or habits, such as the presence of bacteria (and the need for sterilization) or "no smoking sections"
In 227, the old lady once mentioned she knew a man from Kentucky who wanted to open a restaurant after leaving the military, to which she said, "Who would buy fried chicken from a white man?!"
"The Colonel" also appeared in an episode of Little House on the Prairie as a southern gentleman who arrives in Walnut Grove pitching an idea for a restaurant that serves only one type of food. Mrs. Oleson promptly dismisses him, quite pleased with herself for having the good sense not to get involved with such a ridiculous notion.
Siroc in Young Blades discusses the possible invention of cleaning detergents and adding milk to coffee, only for his fellow Musketeers to go... well, you know.
The Arabian Nights miniseries has Aladdin's wish for a flying machine dismissed by the genie:
"A flying machine? So we can fly around the world? We can order drinks and someone can serve us peanuts? A flying machine! Maybe you should stick with the money."
In the All in the Family flashback episode "Mike and Gloria's Wedding" (set in 1970) Archie tells to Mike: "Nixon make a trip to Red China? Never in a million years, buddy!"
An episode of WKRP in Cincinnati has a brief flashback-like scene that takes place back in the 1950s, where a young Les Nesman says of the VW Beetle, "It's just a fad, like television."
In The Apple in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Iolaus invents the idea of surfing, to which Hercules replies "Do you really think this is going to catch on and become popular?" Then at the end they see a bunch of kids trying to stand on wooden boards in water. Iolaus looks at Herc and sarcastically tells him that it'll never be popular.
In a live-action TV adaptation of The Scarlet Pimpernel, the Pimpernel (played by Richard E. Grant) is an avid cricket player. He delivers a bomb to a hard to reach area in the modern traditional overarm manner. A companion suggests he should try that in his cricket games as a variant to the traditional underarm bowling. He says it'll never catch on. Either method of delivery was perfectly acceptable (although underarm was phased out in the late 19th century) until the 1980s, when underarm bowling was banned.
Played with in the same episode, when Percy hires a young unknown painter, Joseph Turner, to paint a landscape of his house and the surrounding gardens. Percy's friends are skeptical by the finished product, but Percy himself loves it and assures Turner that he's going to go places. This is Truth in Television; landscapes were relatively uncommon and it was in a large part Turner's work which elevated their status.
What gives the episode extra points is that there was really a time when people though that jai alai was the next big thing, and for a while it was - in Florida. Its popularity peaked in the 70s before it bombed in the 80s. The "Patxi" referenced in the same episode is also a real jai alai star, Patxi Churruca.
Mad Men plays this straight a lot, too, especially in its first season. Don Draper knows someone stole his research report because, "It's not like there's a magical machine out there that copies things." Sterling Cooper gets a Xerox machine next season.
Roger Sterling says of psychiatry in the second episode (1960) that it's "just this year's candy-pink stove." By the opening of Season 6 (December 1967), he's seeing a shrink.
Happens in an episode of It Ain't Half Hot Mum. The two officiers are discussing what they plan to do after the war. One is planning to invest in television, while the other has a plan for a building with a lot of washing machines where people can come to do their washing (he plans to call it a 'laundrodrome'). Each has this reaction to the other's idea.
Inverted in The Big Bang Theory during a flashback to when Sheldon and Leonard first became roommates. Sheldon has "Friday night is Firefly night" as part of the "roommate agreement". When Leonard wonders if they really need to do this, he points out that they may as well settle it now, it's obviously going to be on for years.
In the same episode, Sheldon chides Raj for getting an iPod, saying "You're going to be sorry once Microsoft come out with their mp3-player."
Leo: Maybe one day we'll all wear clocks. Round our necks, in pockets, on our wrists!
Cosimo: The things you think of, Leo! Santa Maria!
In the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys spinoff Young Hercules, Cora starts serving a new foreign drink that she describes as heated beans strained through water (in other words, coffee). Hercules is rather put off by that unflattering description and is further unsettled when he notices that Cora is incredibly jittery from drinking so much of it.
In an episode of Yes Dear, Jimmy tries to pitch a movie idea to Greg's boss, only for him to shut it down. The crestfallen Jimmy decides to forget about making movies, but Greg tells him to pitch the idea to another studio. Apparently, his boss thought Spider-Man would never make it.
In early seasons of the American version of The Office, Michael and Dwight, and some members of Corporate, treat internet sales as a passing fad. Ryan himself comments on how Dunder Mifflin's executives are unwilling to adapt to a changing marketplace.
In a 1989 flashback in Psych, Henry pulls a rare quadruple one: When Shawn asks if he can get a home computer, Henry replies it's "another passing fad, like rap music, Madonna and L.A. Law."
Doubles as a Take That Me, as Corbin Bernsen was the star of LA Law.
Married... with Children: Al didn't believe Japanese cars would catch on. Or that someday TVs would come with something to allow people to change channels without walking to the TV every time.
In Brazilian comedy show "Sai de Baixo", there was one episode where it was revealed Vanderlei "Vavá" Mathias gave up investing in computers because he didn't believe they'd catch on. His sister believes this to be the reason they caught on.
The whole point of the Cavemen sketches on Youre Skitting Me. Krunk makes consistent attempts to civilise his fellow cavemen, with ideas of modern technology from paper, to soap, to social networking, but his attempt are always futile as another caveman always ends up rejecting his ideas.
After a young Lucky Luciano is arrested in Boardwalk Empire, a cop tries to doctor him saying that delinquents like him never amount to a thing nor are remembered.
Ellery Queen: When Flannigan's TV show is cancelled in "The Adventure of the Hard-Hearted Huckster", one of the execs suggests that they instead do a Variety Show with Ed Sullivan as the host. Flannigan scoffs at the notion.
"Ed Sullivan? That stone-faced zombie won't last two weeks!"
In the pilot of Happy Days, Potsie expresses disbelief that Alaska will become a state.
In an NCIS episode's flashbacks to 1991, a young Vance's suggestion that the U.S. will be heavily engaged in the Middle East in the future is dismissed by a veteran agent, who insists that's old news and the Cold War with Russia will soon be starting up again.
George Gershwin's They All Laughed is almost exclusively this trope. Among the concepts ridiculed by the mysterious "they": Christopher Columbus claiming the world was round, Thomas Edison's recordings, the Wright Brothers' airplane, Marconi's wireless, the creation of Rockefeller Center, Eli Whitney's cotton gin, Robert Fulton's steamboat, the Hershey bar, and the Model T Ford. Needless to say, the singer's relationship, to which he compared the above, was a similar success.
Mind you, everyone already knew the world was round by 1492. The reason Columbus was laughed at was because he thought the world was far smaller than it is.
In one episode of Dinosaurs, after traumatizing the Baby with a scary story, Robbie is forced to pacify him with candy. However, the Sinclair household is out, so they go to a neighbor's;
Old Dinosaur: What is this... a trick? Robbie: No, it's a treat, for the baby.
The old dinosaur then rants on the absurdity of the two going to his house on October 31st, begging for candy, and slams the door on their faces. Robbie then wonders if they should have worn costumes...
Robbie also once dropped a candy bar into a jar of peanut butter and after pondering the result for a moment dismissed it as idiotic.
An episode of the Public Radio International magazine show This American Life involved the reminiscences of a man "with a negative ability to identify trends". At various points in his life, he had: watched a Detroit nightclub performance by a pre-record-deal Madonna and assumed she would never make it big because she couldn't sing worth crap, reviewed and rejected a manuscript submitted to a publishing house entitled Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus because it was trite and misogynistic, and turned down a job with a Japanese company that was working on a major precursor to the public Internet because only losers would talk to people through a computer terminal.
The BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play The Tobacco Merchant's Lawyer, set in 1780, has the lawyer deeply sceptical of a fortune teller who predicts the housing bubble, that Glasgow will be razed and replaced by tall tenement blocks so the poor may have water closets, and that one day everyone will have a box-shaped recepticle in the drawing room that shows plays and the town-cryer. Also, when his company's ships are supposedly lost to piracy, his only consolation is the thought that "the dread Pirates of the Caribbean may presently be enjoying a degree of infamy, but in the centuries to come their exploits will be forgotten as surely as a shipwreck at the bottom of the ocean".
In the French play (and later movie) Les Palmes de M. Schutz, the title character tells in substance that they should give up on this "radioactivity" thing, as it will lead them nowhere... to Pierre and Marie Curie.
In The Musical of The Wedding Singer, Glen is told of a coffee shop from Seattle, and retorts that "no one will ever pay three dollars for a cup of coffee," then turns around and buys stock in New Coke.
In the Gershwin musical Crazy for You, the residents of Dead Rock, Nevada are skeptical of a suggestion of building a casino. "Who would come to Nevada to gamble?"
In the Kaufman and Hart play Merrily We Roll Along, Cyrus Winthrop, inventor of cellopaper, has by 1934 become a millionaire and is busy investing his profits in art. In 1922, when his name was Simon Weintraub, he wastes his time pitching his invention to a couple in the paper and twine business, who tell him the public won't buy it, "like that radio thing over there." There is also a scene where a producer says that he's turned down the melodrama Broadway because he expects "the play won't get a nickel."
Wealthy Businessman: You fool, that'll never work!
Walt Disney: Hey, look, I built Me Land, and it worked!
Wealthy Businessman: Good, now build more of them.
In Assassins Creed II, Antonio talks to Ezio about a drink that he brought back from Turkey called "caffe". Ezio tries it, says that he should consider adding milk or sugar. Antonio scoffs and says it's an acquired taste.
In World of Warcraft, one of the silly jokes for gnomes: "I had an idea for a device that you could put small pieces of bread in to cook, but in the end I really didn't think there'd be much of a market for it."
In Mafia 2, in one of the missions you can overhear one guard talking about how he bought a television set and the other guard demeaning television as "just a fad"
In one of her radio calls in Metal Gear Solid 3 Para-Medic pitches the idea that the future will have "movies where you control the characters yourself." She also mentioned an early VCR and the potential for "records with movie film etched onto them instead of music" — Snake is astonished at all these concepts, but doesn't consider any of them realistic.
Funnily enough, critics of the Metal Gear series often derisively compare the games to movies due to their unusually long cutscenes — Para-Medic thus also predicted one of the more common complaints about the game she's in right now.
Another radio conversation in the game has Snake and resident weapons expert Sigint speculating the potential success of a walking, nuclear-equipped battle machine... specifically, the eponymous Metal Gear, whose designer Snake just met in conversation. Sigint thinks it's just about the stupidest thing he's ever heard, and hopes the designer was joking.
Snake also scoffs at the idea of human cloning after Para-Medic tells him about Invasion of the Body Snatchers; every other Metal Gear Solid game features clones of Snake as major characters.
And another: Before the events of the game, Snake had no idea smoking was unhealthy.
When calling Sigint about the XM16E1 rifle, Snake seems to think the addition of three-round burst fire to the gun is a rather stupid idea. The M16 series shook off its Vietnam War-era infamy with the A2 version, which had three-round burst in place of full-auto.
In The Witcher, while Kalkstein is considered crazy by many people (and he might very well be), he has a theory (among others) that is the basic idea of the atom.
Destroy All Humans: Path of The Furon has main character Crypto considering starting a high-stakes poker tournament filmed for television a few decades before it actually happened: his companion Pox dismisses the idea, outright saying that televised no-limit Texas Hold 'Em will 'never catch on'.
Done again in the very same game, in which Pox and Crypto discuss the future possibilities of video games. Crypto pitches ideas for the very successful franchises of Mario, Sonic, and Halo. Pox quickly throws each pitch to the waste bin, and thus pitches the idea for movie-based video games, many of which are considered horrible.
In the first game, one thought from a German Scientist can be:
Scientist: I'm working on something called the Internet, but I'm worried it'll never catch on.
And in the second game, Crypto gives one after a conversation with Dr. Orlov:
Dr. Orlov: You are having excellent hand-eye coordination. You should trying computer game I am being developing. Crypto: Games? On a computer? You're wastin' your time doc, it'll never catch on.
In Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, judging by the gossip, Larzuk the barbarian smith appears to be on the verge of discovering (and using against Baal's hordes) hot-air balloons and powder weapons, but all the other village inhabitants consider these ideas silly or even slightly insane.
Nihlathak even suspects him of dark magic because he was the only one in town not to catch some generic illness. The real reason? He washed his hands before meals. Given Nihlathak winds up being evil and using spells from the Necromancer's tree when you fight him...
Suikoden features a brilliant inventor adding an engine to a boat. Flik's response? "A machine that runs on oil? Sounds ridiculous."
In Runescape, in the Meeting History quest, you go back in time, and talk to a boy/man named Jack. He mentions that some druids have started calling themselves "wizards" and are constantly locked away in their studies, figuring out new uses for runes. He laughs, and tells the player that they've also started wearing robes and pointy hats.
Jack: It will never catch on. It's a stupid look.
In the Bio Shock 2 Minerva's Den DLC, you can find an Asteroids-esque game called Spitfire, created by Rapture Central Computing's engineers. Next to it is an Audio Diary where the lead designer claims their boss called it "a waste of time" (a rather odd sentiment considering Rapture's ultra capitalistic and entrepreneurial society).
The L.A. Noire DLC "The Consul's Car" has Cole and his partner discuss how the Navy is making 3D movies. His partner insists it will never catch on, but in a twist on this trope, Cole thinks it will, pointing out that people said the same thing about talking pictures and color.
In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, when Mario signs up to fight in the Glitz Pit, Grubba, the manager, decides that 'Mario' is a terrible name for a fighter, and gives him the stage name of 'The Great Gonzales'.
In the alternate Europe of Girl Genius, where Zeppelins from Another World are king, everyone thinks that heavier-than-air flight is a silly idea, and Gil's experimental aircraft is referred to derisively as a "falling machine".
In his Top 10 Worst Songs of 2012, Todd in the Shadows puts "Scream and Shout" by Will.i.am and Brittney Spears at #5. He says that he would do a full review on it, but feels that the song will be long gone from the pop charts by the time he gets the chance. After two more months of the song continuing to stay in the top 10 of the pop charts, he caves in and does a full review, poking fun at himself for his hilariously wrong prediction.
He also indicates in his Top 10 Songs of 2011 that, back in 2009, he chalked up Adele as a flash-in-the-pan retro soul jazz singer who we'd never hear from again after her debut album. Cut back to the present, and her second album, 21, has become one of the biggest selling albums in recent memory and she's the biggest artist in the world.
Todd: See, this is why my friends call me Nostradamus
In Code Monkeys, which takes place in the Atari era, Mr. Larrity shoots down ideas for games that have become big in real-life (like God Of War and Doom), pitched by young versions of their creators. Also, Dave thinks home computers will never be successful.
Not only does he think home computers will never be successful, he thinks video games will be a sure investment, which was technically correct in the long run... except that the series is set in the years just before The Great Video Game Crash of 1983.
Also in Code Monkeys: Dave sells his movie ticket to ET to a young M. Night Shyamalan so he can go to the strip club. Dave blows the kid's mind when he says: "Do you think this is a good idea for a movie? A guy doesn't know he's a ghost until the very end."
Subverted when one of the programmers creates an 8-bit version of Halo that would have launched the Space Marine genre. Larrity admits it could have been one of the best-selling games of all time, but won't publish it because it was created by a woman and he's a first-class misogynist.
In Jimmy Neutron, Jimmy's dad reveals that he could have invested in the local Burger Fool years ago but declined. Jimmy, scheming to be rich, time travels and convinces him to. It turns out he'd actually refused so he could buy Judy an engagement ring.
In a Gummi Bears episode, Sunni competes in a fashion contest on Folly Day, a costume holiday where she wears a variant of 1980s Cyndi Lauper costume. The audience and even the MC laugh derisively at the sight of a girl apparently dressed as a Gummi Bear in a ridiculous costume and all Sunni can do is protest "Someday, everyone will be wearing this!"
Used extensively in the syndicated series of Hercules. For example, during a crossover with Aladdin, which has Pain and Panic traveling to Agrabah and wearing their clothing:
Panic: What do they call these again? Pain: Ermmm... "pants." Panic: I like! No drafts! Pain: Eh, it'll never catch on.
Professor Frink, in a flashback, states that computers in the future will only be owned by the five richest kings in the world and will be the size of a baseball stadium. (In-joke to a quote attributed to Thomas J. Watson of IBM, "I think there is a world market for about five computers.")
In an episode where Smithers is taking a leave of absence to star in a musical based on the Malibu Stacy doll, Mr. Burns thinks it's ridiculous, "A musical about a doll? Why not one about the common cat? Or the King of Siam?" This isn't a flashback; Burns is just that out-of-touch.
In "That 90s Show", a young Comic Book Guy is heard declaring, "and that is why Lord of the Rings can never be filmed!"
Spoofed in an episode where, during Homer's youth (in a sequence parodying Stand by Me), Carl asks if the others have heard about this "Internet" thing...only to reveal he's talking about the inner "net" lining they're starting to put in swim trunks.
During Super Bowl III, Abe Simpson says "If people don't support this thing, it might not make it."
In the 1991 episode "Bart Gets Hit By A Car", the devil tells Bart "you're not due (in hell) until the next time the Yankees win the World Series." That would be 1996. And they've won it four other times since then.
This was brought up in The Critic (in a scene which is a parody of The Graduate):
Franklin Sherman: Son, I've got one word for you: Snapple. Jay Sherman: Oh, Dad, you and your made-up words.
This is used twice in the Looney Tunes short What's Up, Doc? First, when Bugs is considering plays to appear he, he flings aside Life with Father saying, "Eh, this will never be a hit"; Life with Father went on to become (and still is) longest-running non-musical play on Broadway, ever. Later, he is sitting in a park with a number of out-of-work caricatures of some of Hollywood's biggest variety stars, Al Jolson, Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, and Bing Crosby — of whom Elmer says to Bugs, "They'll never amount to anything."
The kid protagonist utters the line when some island tribespeople try and teach him to surf.
It's also uttered by the father in response to an early TV set in a "World of Tomorrow" exhibit.
The Venture Brothers: In one episode's flashback, Dr. Venture was listening about one of his dorm-mates talking about going into robotics after seeing a new film, Blade Runner. Dr. Venture then tells him that there is no future in robotics, and that he might as well major in Betamax.
In one episode of Tale Spin, a kooky scientist tells the main cast about this idea he had for "radio with pictures: TELEVISION!" The main cast, of course, laughs him off.
Rebecca: "What an odd little man."
Baloo: "Yeah! And what a dumb idea."
The trope is lampshaded by the iris out of the episode being a classic television test pattern.
On Arthur, Muffy tries her hand at fashion design. Her chauffeur Bailey, off-hand, comes up with the idea of multicolored plastic shoes with holes in the top. Muffy says it's too ridiculous to work.
In an episode of The New Batman Adventures, Killer Croc reveals a newspaper with Bruce Timm's picture on the front, along with the headline "B.T. Quotes: DVD the Next 8-Track." That's a swing and a BIG miss there.
In the TV Christmas Episode of Ice Age, Manny assures Sid that Christmas trees will never catch on, instead using Christmas rocks.
Pinky and the Brain: There was one episode set at the time television was being recently invented. Brain didn't believe it would ever replace the radios.
Also, in a Star Wars parody, during one of those "Are you pondering what I'm pondering?" moments, Pinky pondered about a series about two lab mice trying to take over the world and wondered who'd watch that.
In an episode set during the silent film era Brain, after an attempt to take over the world using movies, stand in front of the projector and laments "There's no way a mouse will ever have an impact on the silver screen". A man clearly meant to beWalt Disney sees Brain's silhouette on screen and sketches it down.
Garfield and Friends: In one episode where a Wild West tale was being told, a Wild West counterpart of Garfield said Television would never catch on.
In a case of Leaning on the Fourth Wall in one episode of Darkwing Duck, Darkwing writes a screenplay about his career as a superhero, but his editor hates it. As he leaves the guy's office, he says to a character named Running Gag, "Come on Running Gag, let's take this to Disney... Maybe they'll make a cartoon out of it or something..."
Truth in Television
Humanity seems made to come up with statements like these, there's really just too manyto list.
Jeremy Clarkson is quite good at this. Comments include "What is the point of these new iPod things?" and "Gordon Brown will never be Prime Minister" among others.
This is Jeremy Clarkson you're talking about, keep that in mind.
In his 2007 DVD, he reviewed the then-brand new Audi R8. He mentioned that, whilst it was built on the Lamborghini Gallardo platform, it would never have its V10 engine, and even it did, it would be pointless as people would chose the Lambo anyway. Fast forward 2 years and...
Clarkson has recognised this tendency himself, often lambasting cars that go on to be some of the best-selling of all time or recommending those that sink without trace. At one point he advised his readers to do the opposite of whatever he told them.
Lord Kelvin was quite good as well. He believed heavier-than-air flight was impossible and X-rays were probably a hoax. (He changed his mind about the second one after he saw the evidence.) In addition, Kelvin insisted that radio had no future in 1897 (he preferred to send messages by pony) and that it would take human beings two hundred years to land on the moon. Horrible Histories put it best in a section summarising this kind of phenomenon, noting in the section about the predicted short lifespan of talking pictures that "Lord Kelvin was dead by then, so he was not able to tell us that talking films were impossible anyway."
Kelvin's refusal to accept new ideas is shown in the 2004 movie adaptation of Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, where he outright claims that science has reached its peak in his time, and any new discoveries are hoaxes.
This is one of Lord Kelvin's actual claims, at least with regards to physics.
When Robert Goddard pitched the idea that rockets could be used to fly through space, the editor of The New York Times (note: not a rocket scientist) thought the whole concept was patently ridiculous. After all, there's no air in space, so what's the rocket engine supposed to push against?
And on a similar note, Wilbur Wright remarked in 1906, "I do not believe it [the airplane] will supplant surface transportation. I believe it will always be limited to special purposes. It will be a factor in war. It may have a future as a carrier of mail." While it could be argued that the majority of transportation is still surface-based, it does seem that Mr. Wright was a little overly dismissive of his and his brother's accomplishment.
Their father, a preacher, once declared in a sermon that man would never fly, even using the old saying, "If man were meant to fly, God would have given him wings."
Gustave Eiffel designed his famous tower for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair but was turned down by the people in charge on the basis that it was ugly and expensive and didn't fit with the rest of the city. He submitted then the idea to the responsibles of the 1889 Paris World Fair and was accepted... with the condition that it would be dismantled after the fair was over. During the construction the project was heavily criticized by the French press and the famous writers Guy de Maupassant and Alexandre Dumas fils, together with composer Charles Gounod, wrote a public protest letter where they described the tower as "useless and monstrous", "shame of Paris" and "an unfunny skeleton". Novelist Joris-Karl Huysmans said that it was "a suppository full of holes". To top it, the fair was a public failure... yet the tower became popular among the Parisians and as a result it was saved from destruction.
Eiffel made a pretty penny, too: The fair's organizers let him have the revenue from visitors riding the elevators, figuring no one would want to climb the ugly thing.
Guy de Maupassant was known to eat in the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower daily, and when asked why he replied that it was the only place in Paris where he could eat without having to look at the edifice. (Well, it was also a pretty decent restaurant, but that goes without saying for anywhere de Maupassant would eat.)
It's still not popular with Parisians; what saved it from destruction was the invention of wireless radio. A giant iron tower in the middle of Paris makes an excellent broadcast antenna. (This is why it gives you a free Broadcast Tower in every city when you build it in Civilization IV.)
The expensive and extensive Haussmann renovations of Paris were panned by all sorts of critics for a long time during and after the fact. Of course, some of what was being criticized was exactly what the renovations set out to do, such as making the city easier to control... France had had too many regime changes in recent memory, and Napoleon III was doing his darnedest not to butterfinger it yet again (N.B.: he did anyway, but in the urban planning dimension of the problem, it turns out he had the right idea). Today, its results define much of what tourists admire Paris for, such as the boulevards and parks.
To elaborate, the wide beautiful boulevards were designed to be hard to barricade and easy to move artillery on. It didn't work out; irate Parisians can barricade anything.
What was a correct observation. Wells was referring to the concept of poor masses living at the bottom of the city, with high society inhabiting tops of skyscrapers. In XXI century cities still expand into suburbia, not rise with its area roughly constant.
"Come on, Stan, people hate spiders. They're creepy. And everybody knows that teenagers are sidekicks, not superheroes. This Spider-Man idea just won't sell." — Martin Goodman, founder of Marvel Comics (paraphrased by Stan Lee), 1962
Speaking of Spider-Man, when Johnny Romita Sr. replaced Steve Ditko on penciling in 1966, he thought he'd only be working on the book for about six months, because he thought superheroes had overstayed their welcome. He has been involved with Marvel Comics' Earth 616 in general, and Spidey in particular, on some level ever since.
In 1933, two teenage comic book artists tried to pitch a character they had created. It took them six years to find a publisher who would take it. Every publisher they went to told them the character looked ridiculous and would never catch on. That character? Superman.
Originally, publishers at Marvel didn't think Storm of the X-Men would be popular because she had white hair and they thought people would think she would look like an old woman. Guess who is one of the most recognizable female superhero, as well as most recognizable black superhero, in the industry?
Today, Linux has been ported to more platforms than any other kernel, and Linux-based operating system dominate nearly every area besides embedded devices and desktop computers.
As mentioned in thisCracked article, Xerox is infamous for this in the computer industry. While they pioneered the personal computer long before Apple and IBM, their sales strategy was flawed and ultimately backfired. As a result, several of the technologies developed at their research facility PARC - the graphical user interface, the mouse, networking, e-mail, laser printing and other equally important pillars for today's computer industry - were dismissed and abandoned so other companies could build a billion dollar empire around those technologies. Why? Because the East Coast-based management of Xerox Corporation weren't interested in anything that had no direct application to photocopying. You may bang your head against the wall now (they sure did).
Attributed to Ken Olson, the founder of Digital Equipment Corporation: "There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home."
Media critic Neil Postman, writing from the mid-eighties to the early nineties, believed that there was a fundamental shift afoot in the dominant medium of the day from print to television. When a little thing called the internet came along, he dismissed it as a passing craze.
"I went to see Professor Douglas Hartree, who had built the first differential analyzers in England and had more experience in using these very specialized computers than anyone else. He told me that, in his opinion, all the calculations that would ever be needed in this country could be done on the three digital computers which were then being built — one in Cambridge, one in Teddington, and one in Manchester. No one else, he said, would ever need machines of their own, or would be able to afford to buy them." That conversation happened circa 1951 and was published in 1970.
Browsing the Web, according to Swedish communication minister Ines Uusmann during The Nineties, who claimed that people would not have time to browse aimlessly. During her mandate, Sweden became world-leading in internet usage.
Mind you, by the time iDevices really took over the world they'd picked up wireless and way, way more space than a nomad.
Thomas Edison said the phonograph was "a mere toy, it has no commercial value." But he also admitted it was one of his personal favorite inventions.
During the HD-DVD vs Blu Ray the writers at cracked.com said "HD-DVD format will win this format war handily. congratulations HD-DVD!"— but it was a comedic article, basing its choice on what format had the least stupid name.
Many other prognosticators gave HD-DVD the win much more seriously. Ironically, their analyses were generally based on pretty sound analogy between HD-DVD/VHS and Blu-Ray/Betamax (Betamax and Blu-Ray were both Sony's babies, offering higher quality at greater expense than the competition). It just goes to show futurism is hard.
"TV will never be a serious competitor for radio because people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn't time for it." from the New York Times, 1939. Perfectly logical, but completely wrong.
The television was deemed an "idiot's" machine when it was released by most people, and that it was a crap idea. People mocked it with one of the most quoted phrases being: "The television is a radio with pictures. Why even bother? In another 5 years, no one will even remember the television." Guess what became the most popular electronic just 20 years later?
The phone, of all things, was mocked by most people when the idea was presented back in the day.
Texting. There was a time when people thought, "Why would I want to spend more time typing a message to a friend when I can just talk directly?"
E-readers. Most people thought that paper books would still be the preferred method of reading when the Sony E-reader, Amazon Kindle, and later the Barnes and Noble Nook were released, respectively; and Borders was so insistent the technology had no market that they refused to release one as these units began to sell. To date, millions of E-readers and E-books have been sold from Sony, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, and Borders filed for bankruptcy in late 2011.
David Sarnoff wanted people to invest in radio in the 1920′s. Their response?
“No imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?“
US President William McKinley died when he was shot at the Pan-American Exposition. Surgeons refused to use the newfangled x-ray machine exhibited there to find the bullet (they didn't know the long term effects), and had to operate with only reflected sun-light for visibility due to the inability to use candles (as their anesthetic was flammable), despite electric lights being everywhere at the fair.
A lot of people mocked the iPad for being a bigger iPod and considering it's release when smartphones were taking off and tablets never really got off the ground (Microsoft started the trend back in the early 2000s)...
Disney had to fight to get Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs produced. Both his brother and business partner Roy Disney and his wife Lillian attempted to talk him out of it, telling him that "nobody wants to watch a movie about dwarves." And the Hollywood movie industry referred to the film derisively as "Disney's Folly" while it was in production.
There were plenty of reasons to scoff: At the time, dwarfs were mostly associated with carnival freakshows, the only other feature-length animated film ever made (a German production) had been a tremendous flop, and Snow White was monstrously expensive - the film's cost overran the expected budget by 400% and production incurred debts that were, at the time, higher than the total value of Disney's studio.
After Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, two films started being produced at Walt Disney Feature Animation. Most of the A-list animators went to Pocahontas, believing it would be a critical/box office/award sweeping hit like Beast was... instead this status ended up happening to the other movie, The Lion King, while Pocahontas had a mixed reception.
Another Disney miss: 3D animation in general, up to and including firing people. Said people went on to found Pixar (funded by Steve Jobs), and the rest is history.
Film - Live Action
Before making Citizen Kane, Orson Welles wanted to make a movie out of The Smiler With the Knife, a comedic thriller. The studio turned him down flat, because the actress he had chosen for the lead was thought to be a B-actress with no comedic talent. The actress's name? Lucille Ball.
Michael Eisner, CEO of The Walt Disney Company at the time, remarked in response to an early preview of Johnny Depp's portrayal of (Captain) Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, "He's ruining the movie!". Depp was nominated for an Oscar for that role. Eisner had several moments like this, and that's the primary reason he's no longer the CEO.
In a way Depp did ruin what the movie was supposed to be - a story of Will Turner and Elisabeth Swan. Depp hijacked the movie... And the rest is amazing history.
"No Civil War movie ever made a nickel!" — Louis B. Mayer to David O. Selznick on Gone with the Wind.
Gary Cooper also turned down the lead role in the film, allowing Clark Gable to have it: "I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face, and not Gary Cooper."
The fact that Birth Of A Nation, a civil war film that debuted 20 years earlier, was the first 'blockbuster' in History makes Mayer's belief particularly strange.
While the Lumière brothers are often credited with being the first filmakers, they themselves claimed "the cinema is an invention without any future". The Horrible Histories spinoff The Knowledge parodied this with a drawing of the Lumières looking at a shop window advertising their "New! Sliced bread!" and saying It Will Never Catch On.
H. M. Warner (who owned Warner Brothers) once said, "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
Indeed, in the late 1920's many who worked in show business thought that sound film was nothing but a fad and would never work. Silent movie acting was a finely crafted artform by that point, and the inclusion of sound meant that everyone basically had to start over from scratch.
Not quite everyone, as e. g. in Germany it was quite common for stage actors also to appear in films from the start, which was why the change to talkies did not end as many careers there.
Keep in mind, however, that Warner Bros. released what's considered the first sound-film hit. In fact, Warner's full comment was, "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk? The music—that's the big plus about this."
Harrison Ford also had an agent who bluntly told him that he'd never make it as an actor. Ford promptly fired the agent and got a new one.
George Lucas had this really stupid idea for a space movie, which most studios passed on, and the executives at 20th Century Fox were this close to pulling the plug to avoid losing money.
Steven Spielberg claims that when Lucas showed an early version of Star Wars to a roomful of friends, Spielberg himself was the only one who thought it had any potential. In fact, Lucas was so convinced that Star Wars would bomb at the box office he made a wager with Spielberg that if Spielberg's film Close Encounters of the Third Kind grossed more at the box office, Lucas would receive 2.5 percent of the film's box office gross, and vice versa for Spielberg if Star Wars grossed more. To this day, Spielberg is still receiving a new cheque every year.
Spielberg could relate: his own film, Jaws, faced a similar battle against the execs. Incidentally, both films were what helped jump-start the Blockbuster Age Of Hollywood.
Doubly amusing about this is that 20th Century Fox had their hopes set on a cheesy B-movie they produced titled Damnation Alley which had a larger budget and better marketing. Today, Star Wars is one of the most well-known movies in the world and only people who want to see Hannibal, Stringfellow Hawke and Rorshach in the same movie have an interest in Damnation Alley.
Due to theater owners' reluctance to screen Star Wars at the time, 20th Century Fox threatened to withhold screening rights to the movie The Other Side of Midnight based on the best-selling novel by Sidney Sheldon. Ultimately, The Other Side of Midnight made only a tenth of what Star Wars made from 1977 to 1979. And to think that The Other Side of Midnight was full of sex and nudity...
Another twist: Fox gave Lucas the merchandising rights to his movie because, well, the rights to making odd posters and tie-in books weren't worth much. This movie became the reason you can get everything from action figures to promotional toothbrushes now, an industry that can bring in more money for a production than the film itself.
In an interview, Mark Hamill shared an anecdote about sitting in a movie theater and watching a preview for the first Star Wars film. After the thunderous John Williams score died down and the announcer told viewers, "Coming soon...," a heckler in the audience shouted back, "Yeah, to late night television in about a month!" Heh, don't bet on it!
Want another twist? Originally, Sissy Spacek was cast in Princess Leia's role, while Carrie Fisher was cast in the lead in Carrie (a role that Spacek would have preferred to have). However, Fisher objected to a nude scene, so they swapped roles. Not that Carrie was a bad film... But in hindsight, Spacek may well have given up the role of a lifetime.
Early plans for The Movie of the BookTwilight were not accurate to the book, it was far more action-y because it was believed that a film so heavily geared toward girls wouldn't be successful. They ended up sticking to a script more faithful to the book, and considering how much money they've made from that (not to mention the merchandise, you can find anything from clothing to bedsets to band-aids with the characters' faces on them) they probably don't regret that decision.
Back in the 1950s, critics in Japan panned a certain monster movie, claiming that it would never be popular. Now that film is regarded as one of the all-time greats of Japanese cinema, and twenty-seven sequels, two cartoons, an American adaption (with another soon to come), an assortment of toy lines, and multiple comic book series later, you've got not only the longest-running film series in history, but one of the biggest franchises ever.
A talent agent early in his career said of Fred Astaire, "Can't sing, can't act, slightly bald - can dance a little." Astaire had that talent agent's report framed and put over the fireplace in his mansion.
Subversion: The head of MGM showed M to his writers and directors and asked why the hell they weren't making movies like that... but also admitted that, if somebody had pitched M to him, he would've turned it down.
Back to the Future was passed on by practically all the major studios for not having raunchy enough humor note This was the era that brought films like Animal House and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, while Disney passed it on for being too raunchy by their standards note because of the subplot where the young version of Marty's mother is attracted to him. It was only after the box office success of Romancing the Stone when Amblin Entertainment started expressing hope in Robert Zemeckis' and Bob Gale's science fiction comedy...which would later become the highest-grossing movie of its year.
One executive in particular was quoted by the film's producers as saying "Time travel movies don't work. They just don't work."
As Dennis Hopper's wife was driving him to the airport, where he would fly to Louisiana and shoot Easy Rider, she said the film would bomb and he'd become a mockery. (he replied by asking for divorce... and when settling the terms, she only didn't ask half his winnings from Easy Rider because Hopper was so drugged and paranoid those days that she thought he'd kill her).
In a 2001-era TV special dedicated to the first Harry Potter movie, host Katie Couric tells us that "While Daniel's reportedly making close to three hundred thousand dollars for the first movie, it's been speculated that he'll rake in close to fifteen million dollars, if the sequels are successful." By the end of the series, Radcliffe was making more money than that per film.
According to Word Of God, all throughout the development of Halloween 1978 they were told the movie would never catch on; that it was "disgusting," "not scary," and it was "pretentious to assume it would do well." It ended up becoming the most successful independent film of all time.
In his autobiography, Jackie Chan says that the first director he worked under discouraged him from doing action comedies and actively blocked the release of the first couple of films that Jackie made. Considering Jackie is now one of the biggest movie stars ever, and that director is dead, I think we know who was right.
In one of his interviews, Arnold Schwarzenegger had told the audience that when he first voiced his desire to be a Hollywood actor people told him he would not catch on because of his hard-to-spell-read-and-pronounce-last-name, and because of his Austrian accent. On his first feature film Hercules in New York he was credited as "Arnold Strong" and his lines were dubbed over. But once he got the chance, he got to define the action star stereotype, people had begun to expect buffed up men to have Austrian accents, and his name has become anything but forgettable - so unforgettable that people voted for him to be the Governator of California!
After the film Manhunter flopped at the box office, producer/distributer Dino De Laurentiis sold the rights to make the sequel for a small price, fearing a similar outcome. After said sequel actually came out, he spent much more money buying the rights back for the rest of the franchise.
This has happened with various revolutions in filmmaking - firstly with audio, then colour, then special effects, and most recently 3D.
They weren't the only ones that passed up a good deal. When the script called for the use of M&Ms, Mars flat out rejected the use of their candy-coated chocolates, stating that they did not want their product to be associated with what they perceived was a grotesque creature. Hershey offered their newer product, Reese's Pieces, in place of M&Ms. The end result- a 65% profit increase after their candies were prominently featured in a movie which even today is universally acclaimed.
United Artists executives were not keen on casting a little-known actor for the boxing movie he wrote, but the producers insisted on it. The studio ultimately agreed to make Rocky with him (after reducing its budget), because they had Martin Scorsese's New York, New York in production, and they were so confident in that movie they assumed they could write off the losses from this risky undertaking easily. Quoted one former vice president: "Rocky wound up paying for whatever losses we had on New York, New York."
Land and Water Transportation
General Motors executives once derided the Toyota Prius, thinking that the hybrid tech was too expensive to be profitable at the asking price Toyota set (about $20,000 to start), that it was too small for American tastes, and that the price of gas at the time (about $2 a gallon) was so low as to make any fuel savings moot. Fast forward to 2011: gas is $4 a gallon, Toyota sold 1 million plus Prii over three generations, and GM's hyped product launch of the year happens to be what they hope will be a a Prius-killer... If it's not too expensive to be profitable at their asking price of over $30,000.
A highly subsidized electric car market and a highly unfree (heard of OPEC?) and highly taxed world petroleum market might have something to do with that.
The man who invented traffic laws (William Phelps Eno) amusingly never drove a car himself. He assumed the automobile to just be a passing fad.
Volkswagen got a lot of this after the war from Ford, the Rootes Group, and a bunch of other companies from France, Britain and the USA. Sir William Rootes himself reckoned that it would fail in just two years. The Rootes Group was sold to Chrysler in 1967, and then to Peugeot in 1978.
Ernest Seton-Thompson's autobiography states that his father wanted to become an engineer for railroad construction. However:
My grandfather's reply was simple and final: "All nothing but nonsense. The railways are a mere fad, and will soon be done away with. Yes, within three years; and then we shall be entirely back to the horses and coaches again."
Then again, the style of books that it was a part of ("Sexy vampire dudes seducing Hollywood Homely women and getting away with it", nowadays called Vampire or Gothic Romance) had been on-and-off popular for about forty years, so it might have been the case of Twilight being published at just the right time.
The first Harry Potter book was turned down by three publishers who thought it was too long for children. Not only did the novels go on to become the best-selling book series of all time, but the first installment ended up being the SHORTEST one in the series.
'If you believe it is a work of genius, then you may lose a thousand pounds' - Stanley Ulwin, giving permission to publish a work that everyone in the publishing house feared would lose money. Even Stanley's son Rayner feared it would lose money - but he wanted to publish The Lord of the Rings anyway.
When Bob Stewart created The Price Is Right in 1956, comedian Dick Van Dyke was asked to try out as host. He passed on it, saying there was no entertainment value in watching four people guess how much things cost. The job went to Bill Cullen, and the original lasted nine years; the CBS version now in its 41st year.
A Disney casting director told Selena Gomez that she would never have her own show and that she "wasn't strong enough to be part of the Disney company".
An idea for a TV show was pitched to CBS, but a key executive hated it, saying it had no urban appeal. The first episode was sneaked onto the schedule while that exec was on vacation. He was angry when he came back to work and saw the show on the schedule, but he was helpless because that week's TV Guide had already been printed. That show became one of the biggest hits of its season.
Lewis Erlicht, President of ABC Entertainment, said in 1984 that TV comedy was "dead. Forever. Bury it." He also considered an educated, middle class, happy African-American family "unrealistic". As such, he rejected a stand-up comedian's pitch for a domestic sitcom. The show was eventually greenlit by his counterpart at NBC, Brandon Tartikoff, where it became a ratings giant (one of three shows ever to rank #1 in the Neilsen ratings for five consecutive seasons, scoring a major financial windfall in the process for NBC), as well as setting the bar for both African-American roles on television and intelligent family-friendly comedy. In fact, as a result of the show's mega popularity, many other NBC shows, a lot of them heretofore struggling to win viewership, became hugely popular in the Nielsen ratings as well. All of this gave NBC much needed revenue to avoid going bankrupt. ABC, for their part, saw many of their once mega-successful programs take a tremendous nosedive in the ratings, which in turn, led to a huge decline in revenue, causing the network to be bought out by a company only a tenth of their size, Capital Cities Communications. As a result of the missed opportunity for ABC caused by his poor judgment, Erlicht was abruptly and humiliatingly sacked and replaced by Brandon Stoddard, his second-in-command and the head of the network's in house production company, ABC Circle Films.
In 1963, the producers of Doctor Who planned to do a serial featuring a certain race of mechanical aliens, but were bitterly resisted by higher-ups (including the show's primary developer, Sydney Newman), who thought the show worked best as a purely historical-style drama and thought including "bug-eyed monsters" would cheapen and ruin the format. The Daleks went on to become one of the most popular and instantly-recognised things about the show.
Forty-odd years later, certain people in the UK TV industry were sceptical about relaunching Who. It wasn't like families watched television together these days. Even Jane Tranter, who commissioned the relaunch, thought at the time it was probably the riskiest thing she'd ever commissioned. Her gamble paid off beyond her wildest dreams.
NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff reluctantly allowed Michael J. Fox to be cast as Alex Keaton in Family Ties, telling the show's creator, Gary David Goldberg, that "you'll never see Fox's face on a lunchbox". After that show (and Back to the Future) became hits, Fox sent Tartikoff a lunchbox with his face on it and a note inside that read:
"To Brandon: This is for you to put your crow in. — Michael J. Fox"
Tartikoff kept Fox's lunchbox.
Patrick Stewart was so convinced that Star Trek: The Next Generation would fail that for the first six weeks of shooting he refused to unpack any of his suitcases.
This was the prevailing attitude towards Power Rangers, Haim Saban's idea for adapting action footage from Toei Animation's Super Sentai shows for American audiences. It took him years to convince a network to give it a chance. It wasn't much of one, the show (which used footage and costumes from the recently-ended So Okay, It's AverageKyoryu Sentai Zyuranger) was only set to run for one short season of forty episodes. But Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers proved to be a colossal hit, and FOX extended and renewed the show at the last minute (literally - they had to hurriedly alter the intended finale and it shows). Additional action footage was commissioned from Toei, with the handful of leftover monster fights being used to fill the gap until the first reels of this arrived. Power Rangers endures to this day, and has been Uncanceledmultiple times. As the original "Go GoPower Rangers" theme song says:
No one will ever take them down... the power lies on their si-i-i-i-i-iiiide!
Of course, that's only considering when the damn thing finally got on the air. There are sources that say Saban had been attempting to adapt Sentai all the way back to Bioman, eight years prior.
NBC said this when they were pitched an idea for a show about forensic scientists. They thought viewers would be intimidated by the science and not understand it enough. CBS picked it up and it and one of its spinoffs have both been the highest rated scripted show on TV at times.
Jerry Van Dyke was offered the lead in Gilligan's Island. He claimed it was the dumbest thing he ever read. He passed up this show for another sitcom called My Mother The Car. Remember that show?
When The Avalanches were making their Since I Left You album, the group initially thought that no one would care about it. They were wrong.
Georges Bizet's last opera, Carmen, was hated by the critics and struggled commercially when first released in 1875, with the theater giving away tickets in an effort to improve attendance. Today, it is one of the world's most performed operas, and an essential part of every opera performer's repertoire.
He actually gets this every few years in the form of people being surprised that Weird Al is "back." Perhaps because people associate him with specific eras and genres of music he has parodied (mostly the 1980s). By now, people have figured out that parody adapts.
He has been supposedly quoted as saying (Paraphrased) "I have been making albums consistently for several years, and each one is called 'Weird Al's comeback'. Comeback? I never went anywhere!"
When Weird Al's manager would call people and say he was Weird Al's manager, the typical response was "Oh, that's too bad." Three Grammies and six platinum albums later...
Many record labels in the early days of rock and roll objected to signing rock acts for two reasons: (1) they didn't see rock as being as civilized of music as classical music and big band music like Sinatra, and (2) they thought there was no chance of rock and roll ever being commercially successful on the levels of the aforementioned styles. Cutting forward to 2013, big band music is dead, and classic music, though still fairly popular in certain circles, isn't even 1% as commercially successful as rock.
John Lennon's Aunt Mimi told him as a teenager, "Guitar is a good hobby, John, but you'll never make a living of it." In 1964, a group of fans had that quote put on a plaque and sent it to her.
The Beatles were turned down by Decca, Pye, Columbia and HMV, and that was just among the recording companies. (Decca executive: "Guitars are on the way out.")
Dick Clark has confessed to having this reaction twice in regards to KISS. The first time was in the early Eighties when it was announced that they would be taking off their makeup, and the second time when it was announced they would be putting the makeup back on.
"Male vocal in the 1968 feeling—thin, piercing voice with no emotional appeal...dreary songs...one-key singer...pretentious material." — A panel review of a BBC audition in 1968 of Sir Elton John to promote his first single, "Lady Samantha", and curry favor for more BBC performances in the future.
During one interview, Jimi Hendrix, after praising the Beatles, had this to say about Pink Floyd: "I've heard they have beautiful lights but they don't sound like nothing."
When Wilco finished their fourth album, their label, Reprise Records, thought it would never sell. This led to an argument between the suits and the band (particularly Jeff Tweedy. The suits offered to sell Wilco the rights to the album for $55,000 (hefty, but not prohibitive) if they would leave the label; the suits eventually offered to hand the rights to them for free—basically saying, "we'll give you something if you'll just go away", at which point Wilco said, "Sure." The band hopped to Nonesuch Records shortly thereafter and released the album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Which is their best-received and most commercially successful album to date (it went gold, no small feat for a band like Wilco). Reprise was kicking itself for quite some time after that.
What does Margaret Thatcher have in common with Gene Hunt from Life On Mars? Answer: She also declared in 1973 that she didn't think a woman could become British PM during her lifetime.
In 1958, a high school student named Robert G. Heft designed a new variation of the United States flag that had 50 stars to account for the addition of Hawaii and Alaska as states. He received a B-minus as a grade, but made an agreement with his teacher that the grade would be upped to an A if it was accepted by Congress and made the official flag. Heft's design was selected from over 1,500 designs submitted, and his grade was adjusted.
After Arkansas governor Bill Clinton gave a long, boring prime time speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, pundits agreed that he ruined whatever tiny chance he might have of ever becoming president.
Unlike the vast majority of European intelligentsia of the time, the Spanish PM Count of Aranda predicted in 1783 that the newborn United States was not just going to last, but also become an expansionist, great power in the future, and that its very existence would estimulate the Spanish colonies to become independent nations of their own. As a preventive maneouver, Aranda advised King Charles III to divide the colonies between his sons and turn them into different kingdoms that would be tied in a web of alliances and look up to their Spanish counterpart as their superior, who would take the title of Emperor, with only the islands retained under direct Spanish leadership - 80 years before the first British dominions. The King responded that Aranda was exaggerating and that this kind of reforms was not needed. A century later, Spain only controlled the insular parts of its American empire, and soon after lost them to the United States.
Reportedly, after jobbing out"Stunning" Steve Austin to "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan in record time, WCW vice president Eric Bischoff had a phone conversation with Austin, who suggested a change in his character from Jerk Jock to no-nonsense Nineties Anti-Hero. Bischoff told Austin, "Steve, we can have you run around in your little black tights and your little black boots, but that just wouldn't be marketable," and then fired Austin. After a brief stint in ECW, Austin went on to the WWF, where he ran around in his little black tights and his little black boots — and became one of the two biggest wrestling superstars in the world (the other being The Rock).
Well, Austin did add a little black vest to the look...
As well as a shaved head and a goatee. Back in his WCW days Austin had flowing blond hair and a clean-shaven look.
WCW managed to do this a lot. While head booker, Ric Flair once asked the staff "Does anyone really see Mick Foley as the world champion?" and when no one defended Foley, Flair decided to keep him in mid-card status before Foley departed for ECW and the the WWE where he became a highly popular three-time world champion.
Speaking of Foley, he thought this way of The Rock back when he was Rocky Maivia. To quote his book, Have a Nice Day!:
"The next day, one of the guys asked for my impression of Rocky. 'Hey, he's a nice guy,' I said, 'but he just doesn't have it. The office should really cut their losses and get rid of the guy'. I had no idea I was talking about the future 'People's and Corporate Champion.'"
Bischoff made a huge error in thinking Foley wouldn't catch on as champion in the WWF. In order to ruin the WWF's ratings, Bischoff had the results of WWF matches announced to those listening in to WCW before the WWF matches were aired. He did this when Foley was to win the title. Over half a million people switched to WWF to watch Mick win the belt. This ended the 80+ week period of WCW's domination of the WWF in television ratings.
Bischoff also took Jim Ross off of commentary because Ross was fat and Southern and wouldn't appeal to mainstream America. J.R. then left for the WWE where he's become the Howard Cosell of pro wrestling. Jim Ross is now immortalized in the WWE Hall of Fame.
You could probably fill this page with a dozen examples involving Bischoff, ranging from letting future legends go to making terrible decisions on matches. But to save space, we'll just add Chris Jericho to the list of easily recognizable faces old Eric let get away. The scary part? He doesn't see Jericho as a headliner. And that's as of 2010, well after Jericho established himself as one of the most popular names in the history of the WWE (see below).
WCW also dropped the ball with one guy named Mark Callaway. Name doesn't ring a bell? Well, you might know him better as The Undertaker, one of the most famous wrestlers in WWE history, almost universally considered the best big man wrestler of the past 20 years, and whose winning streak at Wrestlemania is one of the highest draws in any wrestling event ever.
Eric Bischoff (We weren't kidding about the dozen examples bit), along with Hulk Hogan and Goldberg, felt that a Squash Match between WCW World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg and WCW World Television Champion Chris Jericho would not have been a draw. The same Chris Jericho who would later unify the aforementioned WCW World Heavyweight Championship with the WWF Championship to become the very first WWF Undisputed Champion, but not before winning them off of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock.
Worth noting is Jericho and Goldberg had a successful feud in the WWE in 2003 with no gold involved. Goldberg got over enough to be put in consideration for the world title.
It's at this point you realize that WCW wasn't the best at evaluating its talent and let a lot a future stars go-stars that would later go to the WWF, get over, win championships, and become the stars they knew they were. Vince had a habit of taking such supposed "Vanilla Midgets", and letting them do their thing back in the Attitude Era, and the prominent examples are above, including the likes of Eddie Guerrero and Stone Cold Steve Austin. These jumps to the WWF by these talents were mainly due to a lot of politicking by the likes of Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan, who didn't want to lose the spotlight. Eventually this trope lead to the fall of WCW, and the wrestling business was never the same.
Sure, Jim Henson hit it big with Sesame Street, but success with more adult fare? Let's take a look. Many on Saturday Night Live looked down on his work. Granted, those segments are criticized by even die-hard fans, but his puppetry work in general was also generally derided as "not ready for primetime." And what about that skit show starring a frog, pig, bear and... whatever? Oh right, almost everyone took a pass when it was being shopped around. And a later movie based on those very same characters? Few thought it would work — let alone be a smash hit and lead to a successful, continuing series.
In the 1984 NBA Draft, Sam Bowie was drafted by the Portland Trailblazers, ahead of some guy named Michael Jordan. (Hakeem Olajuwon was the No. 1 draft pick).
Joe Montana and Tom Brady would become one of the most successful quarterbacks of their respective generations in the NFL, with them winning seven Super Bowls between them (Montana winning four of them, and Brady winning three of them), despite only being drafted in the third (82nd overall, 1979) and sixth (199th overall, 2000) rounds, respectively.
"Poor build. Very skinny and narrow. Ended the '99 season weighing 195 pounds and still looks like a rail at 211. Looks a little frail and lacks great physical stature and strength. Can get pushed down more easily than you'd like. Lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush. Lacks a really strong arm. Can't drive the ball down the field and does not throw a really tight spiral. System-type player who can get exposed if he must ad-lib and do things on his own." — Tom Brady's scouting report for the 2000 NFL Draft
A Quarterback by the name of Brett Favre was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 1991 as a backup QB. 33rd overall pick, so in the second round. But Coach Jerry Glanville did not approve of him. Favre threw 5 passes for the Falcons, two interceptions (one for a Touchdown) and not one of the 5 a completion. The following year (1992), he was traded to Green Bay and went on to be the Ironman of football and break virtually every passing record in the books. And also become the winningest QB in the history of the NFL.
Before 2008, it was common knowledge that the Spanish national football team would never get pass the quarter-finals, let alone win a tournament. Two consecutive Euros and one World Cup later, and they begin to look like the Boring Invincible Hero instead.
"Possesses minimal football knowledge and lacks motivation." - early scouting report on NFL coach Vince Lombardi.
After it flopped in Japan, many analysts doubted the viability of Bakugan succeeding in America. It became a huge hit getting new episodes before Japan did and even won an award for the best toy of 2009.
Gary Gygax pitched the first iteration of Dungeons & Dragons to various publishers of traditional board- and wargames. He was always turned down with some variation of "Why would anyone want to play a game that has no winner?"
When Romeo and Julietpremiered, one reviewer described it as "a mawkish melodrama which, God willing, will see no second performance."
Famed video game designer Eugene Jarvis had this happen to him with his very first game, Defender. When the game made its debut at the 1980 AMOA expo, almost nobody thought that the game would do well, due to its complex control scheme. Instead, they thought that the maze game Rally X would be huge. Nowadays, nobody remembers Rally X outside of an occasional appearance on a Namco Museum compilation, while Defender sold 50,000 arcade cabinets and is fondly remembered.
Those same expo attendees also dismissed Pac-Man as too repetitive, too and again cited Rally X as the best game at the show. Makes you wonder what they saw in Rally X...
The introduction of the Nintendo Wii motion-sensing controller invited lots of derisive skepticism from gamers at the time. Years later, both Sony and Microsoft created new peripherals that allow for motion controlled gaming on their consoles and the Wii is the best selling home console of its generation.
When the NES was first proposed it was laughed at due to the video game crash of 1983 and that the system wasn't 'complicated enough' so they had to package it with R.O.B. the robot just to get a test launch for it! Two guesses which part of the package single handedly revived the home video game console industry and the first one doesn't count.
When the Nintendo DS was first revealed, everyone thought that the company's two-screened oddity would never work and that Sony's PSP would push Nintendo out of the portable market. Guess which caught on better?
Nintendo has built its entire console business on this trope. Remember the first time you saw the N64 controller with the analog stick on that awkward middle branch? Nintendo put it there because their industry experts predicted it never be used by third-party game makers, and so they left the directional pad at the "regular" left hand place.
Rumble packs? At the time, Nintendo made it an optional removable peripheral because they were worried players would find vibrating controllers too heavy and uncomfortable. This is now a such a staple of console controllers, gamers often don't even realise the functionality is there anymore.
At the release of the PlayStation 3, Sony decided to release a new controller without the rumble pack, claiming it was outdated. Cue much protest, and a new release with the pack, but not until after Sony attempted to deny the popularity of the pack.
Sega's CEO hoped Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games would sell 4 million (for both versions of the first game). The gaming press laughed at him. So far, the first game has sold over 12 million copies for both versions.
When Satoru Iwata first joined video-game developer HALLaboratories, his parents were furious. He is now the president of Nintendo, the most successful video game company in the world.
Super Smash Bros was not expected to do very well. To the surprise of the game companies, it was a huge hit. As a result, a LOT more effort was put into the sequel, offering many more stages, characters, and features.
The Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game console, used cartridges, but not in the way that we're used to them today; instead of having the game itself on the cartridge, it just rearranges the circuitry in the console to vary the game. Near the end of the Odyssey's run, its inventor, Ralph Baer, suggested that Magnavox should manufacture "active" cartridges with additional circuitry to vary the gameplay and create more elaborate games. His superiors dismissed the idea as "not worth the effort."
One Italian gaming magazine wrote◊ something among the lines of "From what I've seen the game doesn't seem too bad, but I'm ready to bet this Half Life will be forgotten in a heartbeat".
COMPUTE!'s Guide to Adventure Games, from 1984, includes an article that speculates about how adventure games might possibly look in the future. Apparently, the games played by "your grandchildren" will be simply Interactive Fiction, except with better writing, a more intelligent parser and, who knows, maybe voice-controlled! The idea that they might be mostly visual is dismissed, since it would take too much memory to record that many full-motion video cutscenes for every possible action.
The Xbox, full stop: The press, people like Hiroshi Yamauchi (Nintendo's then CEO) and almost everybody in the Western world thought that designing a console will never be a job ever again for anyone who is not Nintendo, Sega, SNK or anyone outside Japan, after the colossal flop the Atari Jaguar was. Now Microsoft is designing its third iteration of the console right now, after the success of the previous two generations.
That being said, the Xbox's success was much more limited outside of North America (in general, their competitors, Sony and Nintendo, outsold them), making Microsoft's endeavors a case-by-case basis. This holds most true in Japan, where both the original and the 360 never found their foothold (or even a niche, for that matter) and were effectively dead in the water in the face of their opposition (to the point that the 360 was eventually pulled from shelves, with only certain retailers selling it as a novelty item). Only time will tell if their next-gen successor will prove that the third time really is the charm.
Eddie Selzer, the second producer for Looney Tunes, was notorious for this. He made a claim that a certain romantic French skunk wasn't funny, only to accept the Oscar for the Pepé Le Pew short, For Scent-imental Reasons. He claimed that bullfights weren't funny either, causing Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese to create what ended up becoming one of Bugs Bunny's more memorable cartoons, Bully For Bugs. He also felt that the Tasmanian Devil was too obnoxious of a character and ordered no more cartoons made featuring him. It wasn't until studio boss Jack Warner asked him to make more that he complied. Taz later got his own cartoon series.
When the cast of a now-classic newspaper comic first received a cartoon, they did so with actual children's voices, no Laugh Track, and even a reading of The Bible incorporated into the middle. CBS executives saw the special, and told the producers that while they already had a slot reserved for weeks, they would probably never air any cartoons of that comic again. Surprisingly, nearly 50% of American TV viewers tuned in to the special, it would later win a Peabody, and several other Peanuts cartoons would air for decades.
In the late 90s, a cartoonist went to the Nickelodeon executives with a cartoon idea. The executives thought it was an absurd idea and thought it would never become popular. After having the pilot episode pitched, the executives stepped out of the room because they were exhausted from laughing. They picked it up and it became extremely popular during its second and third seasons, having spawned tons of merchandise. What was the cartoon? SpongeBob SquarePants.
After Darwin's paper on Natural Selection — the precursor to On the Origin of Species — was first made public before the Linnean Society on July 1, 1858, Thomas Bell later remarked in the annual presidential report presented in May 1859 that "The year which has passed has not, indeed, been marked by any of those striking discoveries which at once revolutionize, so to speak, the department of science on which they bear."
According to legend, a young economics student named Fred Smith submitted an essay proposing a business that gave fast, efficient overnight delivery service. Smith's professor gave him a C grade, stating that Smith would only have gotten an A if the business he proposed was actually feasible. Smith later went on to found the Federal Express courier company.
Subverted, in the sense that while this story is more or less true, Fred only got a low grade because he wrote a very bad paper, not that he had a bad idea. In fact, the teacher liked his idea. The article on Snopes explains it best,
"I don't really remember what grade I got. I probably didn't get a good one though, because it wasn't a very well thought out paper." - Fred Smith on his college paper.
"The energy produced by the atom is a very poor kind of thing." — Ernest Rutherford, who did later discover that he was somewhat in error.
JEM Rubber Co offered the idea of the whoopee cushion to S.S. Adams Co., but was rejected, with Adams claiming it was "too vulgar" and would never sell. Instead, the Johnson Smith Company accepted the offer and sold them to great success. Adams went on to copy them with the Razzberry Cushions.