As Caesar's fleet approaches Britain in the opening of Asterix in Britain, a signalman gets mad at a very annoying seagull and starts waving his signal flags wildly trying to get rid of it. What follows is the accidental self-destruction of a large chunk of the fleet as well as a Facepalm from Caesar accompanied by an exasperated "I came, I saw, and I don't believe my eyes."
In A Boy Named Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown loses the spelling bee when he misspells "beagle", a word you'd think he'd be very familiar with. (Snoopy is a beagle.) Even worse, he does it on live TV. Even more worse, Charlie screams in frustration as soon as he spelled the word, meaning he knew the correct spelling and just plain screwed up.
The Flaming Death scene from A Bug's Life was such an epic fail for the circus bugs that P.T Flea fired them all. Inverted when it turns out that the audience loved the act for the comedy.
Moose #1: I can't believe you totaled a mammoth. Moose #2: That mountain came out of nowhere. It was in my blind spot.
In Cats Don't Dance, the animals set up an audition with studio head L.B. Mammoth that is sabotaged by the villainous Darla Dimple far beyond what should be probable or even possible. Flooding the stage? Well, maybe. Flooding the entire studio? Pretty far-fetched. But wait, there's more: accidentally dragging L.B. himself behind you on your anchor as your prop boat floats through the streets, crashing into buildings? Ouch. Accidentally getting him tied to the mast when the boat sinks? Epic Fail.
In It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!, Marcie is told by Peppermint Patty to cook some eggs for egg coloring. First, she cracks them on a griddle. Second, she smooshes some with a waffle maker. Third, she tries placing one in a toaster. Fourth, she cooks the remains of the eggs in an oven. And finally, Peppermint Patty tells her to boil them. But Marcie even messes that up, because she cracks the eggs into the water.
Peppermint Patty: Marcie, you've made egg SOUP!AAAAAAAUGH!!!!!!
At the end of the special, Peppermint Patty tells Marcie "We put salt on the eggs and eat them." Since Marcie has a salt shaker already in her pocket, she salts the egg and bites it. The only problem? She forgot to take the shell off.
Marcie: Tastes terrible, sir!
Peppermint Patty: (drops her own egg, does a facepalm and drops her head down to her knees)
The Lion King 1½: Trying to break Simba and Nala up, Timon throws a beehive at them... only for the hive to go ahead and the bees to stay right above his head. Why this happened... the world may never know.
Tangled: Rapunzel has a montage of epic fails trying to get Flynn Rider into a closet. It should be noted that he was unconscious, and it only ends when Rapunzel decides having the doors closed with his fingers poking out is close enough.
Though not as spectacular, the Thief's Wile E. Coyote-esque attempts at stealing the golden balls are crowned by some pretty epic fails too.
Toy Story 2: "Prepare to meet Mr. Angry Eyes!" quoth Mr. Potato Head as he rushes to the attack in Al's apartment. After switching his regular eyes... for an extra pair of shoes. So naturally he just runs into the furniture and looks like an idiot. Jessie's WTF facial expression makes it even better.
Fix-It Felix Jr.: WHY DO I FIX EVERYTHING I TOUCH?!
Film — Live-Action
This trope is used in Aliens to emphasize how drastically unprepared the Colonial Marines are against the xenomorphs. The unit is sent into a highly critical part of the Hadley's Hope colony (the atmosphere processor), after reviewing its schematics. They are knee-deep in the xenomorph hive when Ripley points out to them that the machinery can be pierced by conventional weaponry, which leads a frantic and inexperienced Gorman to tell the Marines to give up all their ammunition (except for flamethrowers) to one man, without explaining why. When the xenomorphs inevitably crawl out of the walls, said soldier is the first casualty, causing everything to descend into anarchy. Apone stands in one spot trying to hear Gorman's orders just before he's abducted by a xeno, the only soldiers who survive are the ones who kept spare magazines and/or backup weapons, Drake and Vasquez stage a tactical retreat by shooting wildly with smartguns (which causes the damage that would eventually overload and destroy the colony), and Gorman is knocked out by unsecured cargo in the APC during the escape. Given that Burke admits to Ripley that the real objective of the mission was to smuggle some eggs out inside infected Marines, the fact that the squad performed so poorly was probably intentional: the Weyland-Yutani Corp wouldn't want a group of competent soldiers sent in.
The 1978 disaster film Avalanchereally takes the cake in utter incompetence. When the titular avalanche hits, rescue crews race to the rescue. One truck dumps their equipment, causing an ambulance to stop and the driver hopping out in annoyance. This causes a police car to swerve, fishtail and hit a pedestrian and send him through a storefront window as the car itself goes through. Then, there's a group of rescuers completely missing catching a man falling from the destroyed remains of a ski lift (granted, he was probably dead from electrocution, but his fate was sealed when the rescuers missed). For a hat trick, some rescuers are able to rescue the leading male's mother and get her to an ambulance and heading towards a hospital. However, on the way down, the driver decides to go really fast, causing him to throw the ambulance into a ravine below and blowing up.
The 1989 film: Batman programs the computer in his Batwing to fire two machine guns and several missiles at The Joker. Every missile and bullet completely misses. Even more humiliating when the Joker causes the Batwing to crash to the street below with a single shot from his (admittedly very long) gun.
The novelization lessens the fail by having Joker dance and prance around, essentially dodging the bullets and rockets.
Batman Returns: The Penguin snatches up an instrument panel from the wreckage of the Batboat and tries to use it against Batman, assuming it's some kind of weapon. It turns out to actually be the device that overrides the frequency jam on the Penguin's radio signal to his pet penguins to launch their missiles at Gotham City, and as a result the penguins fire their missiles at his own hideout, completely destroying it.
In Big Game, Oskari threatens to shoot Morris - who's standing about four metres from him - with an arrow. The problem is, he can't properly draw a bow, and the arrow ends up landing exactly in the middle of the way between them with an embarrassed thump. To add to the insult, Morris looks like he's about to burst out laughing.
In Dog Day Afternoon, three men decide to rob a bank. They walk into the bank in broad daylight with no masks, no gloves, and no floorplan, without checking if their information is up to date. The mastermind Sonny Wortzik doesn't even think of blacking out the security cameras until the unmasked robbers have been inside for almost five minutes, and he's too short to reach them without jumping. One robber quits because he can't bring himself to pull a gun on someone. Then the remaining robbers make the tellers open the vault and find barely any money left to steal, because the latest shipment is already gone. All the while, the robbers use each others' real names, allowing the authorities to identify them easily—especially Sonny, who also announces that he is a Vietnam veteran and a former bank teller.
Then, while raiding the counters, Sonny decides to dispose of the traveler's check register by lighting it on fire. The thick smoke drifts through a vent and alerts everyone outside that something's going on in the bank. Before long, the robbers attract not only police and media attention but also a huge crowd of onlookers, ensuring that they are trapped inside a sweltering building with no means of escape, that their faces will be on national television, and that what began as a quick robbery is now a hostage situation with one robber too mentally unstable to handle the ensuing standoff. To say that the robbers Didn't Think This Throughis an understatement.
In the Fantastic Four movies, Ben mentions that Johnny "washed out of NASA for sneaking two Victoria's Secret wannabes into a flight simulator. They crashed it into a wall. A flight simulator."
In Gangster Squad, the squad's first operation as a unit devolves into equal parts slapstick and failure. They try to take down one of mobster Mickey Cohen's casinos by storming it at gunpoint, only to be met by a group of armed officers who assume they're robbers and try to arrest the group. On the squad's escape out of the casino, their car breaks down, and David and O'Mara get arrested after giving the car a running boost. The two men get beaten, arrested, and sent to jail, where Cohen sends men intending to pick them up and execute them. The squad arrives to save the two men, but Kennard's plan of tying a rope from his vehicle to the prison window bars fails (the bumper gets ripped off the car), Keeler's plan to cut the power results in chaos in the prison block, and the whole thing would have gone south if Wooters hadn't show up.
In the Garfield movie, there's a scene near the middle of the film where Garfield is upset over Odie. He proceeds to vent this frustration by smacking Odie's favorite ball. The ball knocks an object over, then that object knocks something else over, and this chain reaction continues until the entire wall-high shelf tips over and onto Garfield. When Jon comes back inside, he is not happy. Garfield lives, of course.
In the 2008 Get Smart movie, Maxwell Smart is given a tiny grappling hook launcher, and while using it to free himself, manages to hit everything except what he was aiming for, including a secret button that drops him out of an airliner. In flight. Made slightly more epic by the fact that the grappling hook launcher was part of a Swiss Army Knife. You know, the thing with a blade on it! For cutting!
The Gods Must Be Crazy is a collection of epic fails every ten minutes of the movie. Ay ay ay ay ay. What's worse, roughly half the wacky predicaments ensue simply because at the beginning of the movie, someone throws an empty Coca-Cola bottle from an airplane. Seriously. We never even learn the litterbug's name.
The entire US military does this in Godzilla (1998). First, they miss the skyscraper-sized dinosaur with rockets and heat-seeking missiles from close range and destroy more of the city than the lizard does. Somehow, the monster was able to hide in a city of eight million.
The Navy trying to attack Godzilla just as he rises outside of San Francisco Bay in Godzilla (2014). One of the ship rockets hit a supporting cable, prompting a soldier to tell them to stop firing due to civilians on the Golden Gate Bridge. They still keep firing at him, and a hole gets torn in the bridge in the chaos.
The attack on District 13 in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Instead of collapsing the entire complex, the Capitol only succeeds in damaging passages near the surface and possibly some surface-to-air emplacements. No casualties are reported.
In Idiocracy: In the opening scene, Carol tells us that her husband Trevor passed away while masturbating to produce sperm for artificial insemination. Given that his IQ is stated to be 137, this goes far beyond normal failing.
Harry: I mean, basically, you're robbing a man and you're only carrying blanks. Then you allow your gun to be taken from you, and you allow yourself to be shot in the eye with a blank, which I assume that the person has to get quite close to you then. Yeah really it's all your fault for being such a poof. So why don't you stop wingeing and cheer the fuck up?
First, they're captured by the Nazis and tied up together in chairs. When they're alone, Indy gives his father a lighter to burn through the ropes. First, he burns himself and drops the lighter. Then when he tries to pick it up, he ends up setting the floor on fire. Within minutes, the entire room is ablaze (except, ironically, the fireplace).
Then they try to escape from Germany on a zeppelin and are forced to steal a biplane when the zeppelin is rerouted. They come under attack by a pair of fighter planes and the senior Jones has to shoot them down with the biplane's guns. He succeeds in shooting down one plane: the one he and his son stole when he ends up blowing apart their own vertical stabilizer.
To be fair, he's not the only example in the film:
Indiana: We have to get to Marcus before the Nazis do. Henry: But you said he had a two day headstart. That he would blend in, disappear. Indiana: Are you kidding? You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum.
This trope is arguably part of Nux's character arc - he screws up virtually every task he's given in glorious fashion until he joins the heroes midway through the film. After being personally trusted with boarding and taking down the hijacked War Rig, and even given a personal blessing from Immortan Joe ("You will ride eternal, shiny and chrome!"), Nux (who holds Joe in very high regard and would like nothing more than to finally impress him) goes forth, boards the War Rig with Immortan's revolver... and gets his chain caught on a ladder, immediately falling off the Rig, bouncing off the side and dangling helplessly, losing his beloved idol's revolver to boot.
Immortan Joe: Agh! MEDIOCRE!
In the bog, Joe reluctantly sends the Ax-Crazy Bullet Farmer after the War Rig, only telling him "not to hurt the Wives". The Farmer takes this to mean that he can fire off his guns indiscriminately, nearly hitting everyone around the Rig (who have all exited to see what's happening), and is only stopped when Furiosa shoots out the light on his vehicle and blinds him. Instead of going back to lick his wounds, he gets his driver to continue heading towards them, screaming like a lunatic and blindly firing off SMG rounds at them. The only thing he gets for his trouble is Max killing him (offscreen) and taking his weapons, ammo and steering wheel, which all comes in very handy when the group decides to drive back towards the Citadel near the end.
In The Man with the Golden Gun, Hip and his nieces rescue James Bond from Hai Fat's dojo. The plan goes well, until Hip drives off without Bond, despite his nieces trying to tell him that the man they were sent to rescue has been left behind.
Tony: We're going to see if ten percent thrust capacity achieves lift. And three, two, one.... [Gets thrown up and backwards into a wall, before being doused by an inept Robot Buddy with a fire extinguisher]
Then after trying it again and ending up high in the air:
It also gives us footage of various foreign countries' (as well as Hammer Industries') hilariously botched attempts to replicate the Iron Man armor, which the artbook appropriately calls the Feebles. Turns out that without an actual set of the armor to reverse-engineer, trying to do this absolutely requires a Stark-level genius. Not too many of those around.
Tony Stark: Yeah, I'd say, uh, most countries? 5-10 years away... Hammer Industries? 20. Justin Hammer: I'd like to point out that that test pilot survived.
The Mk. 42 in Iron Man 3 falls apart at the slightest jolt. Of course, it's designed to be able to come apart and fly towards Tony and assemble around him, but it falls apart too well. An epic scene where Tony is facing off against the Big Bad, JARVIS informs him that Mk. 42 is on the way. Heroic music plays, as Tony uses a gesture to get the armor to assemble on him... and the armor trips and falls apart.
Tony Stark:[eyeroll] Whatever.
From Captain America: The First Avenger, S.H.I.E.L.D's major Critical Research Failure when Steve Rogers has been thawed in a fake 1940's hospital room. Everything else in there was fine (a woman even entering in a suitable getup) - except for the radio broadcasting a "live" baseball game, from 1941. Rogers was frozen in 1945, and he was AT that game. They didn't even bother to check whether the game was from after he went MIA.
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this trope is used to surprisingly serious effect. After WWII, SHIELD recruited a number of HYDRA scientists to do science and engineering for them. This in and of itself isn't a bad idea; it happened in real life, with the U.S. recruiting Nazi scientists like Wernher von Braun to work on their space program. The difference is, von Braun and his cohorts had mainly been Punch Clock Villains, cooperating with the Nazis out of fear and duress. But HYDRA was staffed by dyed-in-the-wool supervillains. Fast-forward to the present and Armin Zola has essentially converted SHIELD into a massive HYDRA operation working under deep cover. It's so bad that the heroes have to literally destroy SHIELD to save the world.
In Thor: Ragnarok, when Bruce Banner realizes he needs to turn back into the Hulk to fight Fenris, he tries to show off for Valkyrie (a friend of Hulk who's been confused by a sense of familiarity with Banner) by jumping out of their spaceship and transforming in mid-air. Instead he fails to transform and crashes into the Bifrost bridge while still human, which likely would've been fatal if he didn't finally transform a few seconds later.
In The Men Who Stare at Goats, Lyn crashes into a rock in the middle of the desert, the only such object for miles around. It was probably destiny.
The knights are crossing the bridge of death and must answer the bridge keeper's three questions, and if they fail any one, they will automatically fall off the bridge to their death. The first two questions always ask one's name and quest, but the third is always random, ranging from something impossibly easy like "what is your favorite color" to a nigh-difficult "what is the capital of Assyria?" Galahad lucks out and manages to get the "favorite color" question... and still manages to screw up his answer, leading to him plummeting to his death. About as justified as this trope can get, since he was just fluidly and unthinkingly repeating Lancelot's answers to the same questions and didn't realize that wouldn't work for favorite color until it was too late.
When the knights encounter the French castle, they try to conquer it somehow. One suggests a Trojan Horse ploy with a gigantic wooden rabbit. It fails because they missed the important part about being inside the rabbit when it's taken into the castle. The suggester doesn't reveal this part of the plan until after the rabbit is taken inside.
Mulholland Dr. has a scene where a hired killer kills his victim and then tries to fake suicide by putting his gun into the victim's hand. While trying to do so, he accidentally pulls the trigger and the bullet goes through the (fairly thin) wall into the neighboring flat, hitting a fat, ugly woman. He then goes into said flat and attacks the woman, who turns out to be stronger than he expected. He eventually overpowers her and tries to drag her into the flat where he killed the first guy in order to fake a suicide-with-murder scenario. While passing the floor, he is observed by a janitor who apparently doesn't speak English, but slowly follows him into the flat. Back there, the killer first kills the woman, then the janitor enters the room with his vacuum cleaner. He also shoots the janitor, but by accident, the vacuum cleaner is turned back on again. He then pulls the janitor into the room. Finally, he tries to turn off the vacuum cleaner... by shooting at it. The vacuum cleaner catches fire, which sets off the fire alarm.
In Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, Mike and Tom head down to the Satellite of Love's basement to stop Crow, who is attempting to tunnel through space. After stopping a hull breach, Crow admits to the two that despite weighing the odds, he decided to do so anyway. There's also Mike crashing the Satellite of Love into the Hubble Telescope. He attempts to pull it off and release it, only to watch in horror as it instantly drops out of orbit and explodes in a fiery ball.
Pretty much every single plan Jason conceives in Mystery Team. Most notable is when a speech on how a certain character won't shoot them gets him shot.
The Other Guys with the "Aim For The Bushes" scene. Two detectives are chasing some jewelry thieves to the roof of a 20-story building, and the thieves escape by zipline (which they, of course, cut after using). The detectives decide the best course of action would be to jump off the roof and land on the bushes... even though the pavement underneath doesn't even have bushes, or anything the duo can safely land on. Three guesses what happens next, and the first two don't count.
Paddington's trademark. No matter how simple and easy a task might be, trust Paddington to mess it up it in a spectacular fashion.
Near the end of the first Police Academy, Fackler causes a city-wide riot by tossing an apple over his shoulder. The apple hits a tough guy in the back of the head. He turns around to see another man eating apples out of a bag and throws him through the window of a bar. The guy thrown through the window somehow shoves the entire crowd towards the back and sends a pinball machine down the back alley. The pinball machine crashes into a setup outside a store and the manager hands a television to a customer while he tries to sort out the mess. The customer thinks they're giving away televisions for free and everybody tries getting one. A group of pool players think this is an actual riot and decide to take part. Yup, all because of an apple.
From Pulp Fiction, one of the guys at the apartment where Jules and Vincent go to retrieve Marsellus Wallace's briefcase ambushes them and shoots at the duo at very close range... and misses every shot. All three pause to stare in surprise. (Jules believes that this is a sign from God to change careers.)
In Repossessed, Ernest and Fanny Weller, two corrupt televangelists (parodies of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker), decide to televise a real exorcism and take phone donations. All is going well until Fanny demands a chance to sing on television. The money donated swiftly starts to go down.
In Snatch., there's pretty much anythingSol and Vinnie put their minds to. In their defining moment, they were hired to take a briefcase from a man who had been sent to place a bet at a bookmaker's. They were to rob the bookie's place as well, so it wouldn't look too suspicious to the guy with the briefcase when they stole the case from him. In the end, they'd get the cash from the bookie's, their employer would get the case. Unfortunately, their getaway driver, Tyrone, Drives Like Crazy and backed into the van their victim had used to get to the scene, knocking him out and trapping him inside it.
Later that night, they see someone carrying a case go inside, and without attempting to verify the target, Sol and Vinnie enter the bookie's, only to find that it's (obviously) the wrong person, and furthermore that the bookie's has no cash because all bets are off. Then the cashier lady turns out to be a Badass Bystander who deftly disarms Sol of his shotgun and trips the alarm. Then they attempt (and fail) to open the front door. Reasoning that it's a security door that locked when the alarm was pushed, they try to Shoot Out the Lock. The door turns out to be bulletproof, and Vince gets his leg grazed by the ricochet. They fall down in exhaustion and take off their ski masks, at which point they notice the security camera that's just caught them both unmasked. And then, to top it off, Tyrone shows up to get them... it turns out the reason they couldn't open the front door is because they tried to push the "pull" side of the door. The clincher is that the pair are completely unknown in that part of the underworld, and the camera fails to be of any use because the owner doesn't recognize them... but Tyrone is recognized. Epic Fail indeed.
One scene of Speed Zone has two of the Cannonball's entrants flying to the finish line in a commuter jet which is quickly hijacked. The hijacking is the Epic Fail in this case. First, the hijacker attempts to take over the plane before it takes off. Second, he fails to scare the passengers thoroughly since his announcement of their destination is met with requests for other places to be hijacked to. Third, the argument over a destination distracts him long enough for the crew to overpower him. Finally, the fight to subdue him distracts the crew long enough for the plane to roll out onto the highway and shear off its wings and tail by going under an overpass. Yeah, it's that kind of movie.
In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Kirk and his True Companions steal the Enterprise. The shiny new Excelsior, in hot pursuit, powers up its revolutionary transwarp drive... which promptly conks out due to Scotty sabotaging it beforehand, complete with sputtering engine noises, leaving Starfleet's "Great Experiment" adrift and having to be towed back to Spacedock.
Captain Picard is known to strictly adhere to Starfleet's Prime Directive. In fact, violating it is a bit of a Berserk Button for him. So when he, Data, and Worf have to visit a primitive, inhabited world in Star Trek: Nemesis, they do their best to avoid contact with the natives. Within ten minutes of landing, they find themselves in a high-speed gun battle with some locals, before giving them their first look at a spaceship while the away team makes its getaway. To make it even worse, eagle eyed natives might have noticed that the aliens who were shooting up the place were members of three different speciesnote Human, Klingon, and Soong-type Android—not only do the primitive people now know that they're not alone in the universe, they know that there's a whole community among the stars, and that it has better guns than they do.
Perhaps Picard was just going for Refuge in Audacity: "So you're telling me there were three aliens, all different species, and you had a shootout with them while dune buggy chasing until they ramped off a cliff into their spaceship?"
Done deliberately in Star Trek Into Darkness. Kirk, in violation of the Prime Directive, has elected to airdrop a cold fission device into the center of the volcano (ideally, using a shuttle), to save a pre-warp civilization – an act that constitutes interfering. Kirk and Bones beam onto the surface and begin a dangerous chase by stealing one of the tribe's sacred texts, nearly getting them killed multiple times over when the natives chase and hurl spears at them (and during which time Kirk phasers the animal they were going to ride away on). The cable lowering the fission device into the volcano snaps, and Spock has to go in after it and manually activate it. Kirk and the crew have inexplicably parked the Enterprise underwater near the tribe, and when they are forced to break water in order to transport Spock out, the natives get a nice long view of the advanced technology and begin to worship it as their god. This botched mission results in Kirk being demoted and Pike taking over command of the Enterprise for a time.
A New Hope: The destruction of Alderaan. What was meant to scare rebellious planets into submission to the Empire only angered the galaxy, and many planets either left the Empire, joined the Rebellion, or severed their support of the Empire. It doesn't help that the Death Star was a resource sink that the Empire subsequently lost with nearly all hands trying to take out one Rebel base, robbing them of an intimidation tool and most of its leadership. Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!!
From the same movie, thanks to the infamous The Dog Shot First edit, the bounty hunter Greedo misses Han by more than a foot from about three feet away.
In St. Vincent (2014), in an attempt to settle his debt with a Loan Shark, Vincent steals a bunch of drugs from a medical care facility. However, he grabbed a bunch of drugs out of the drawer indiscriminately, and the drug dealer he wishes to sell them to informs him that much of his haul is for conditions such as epilepsy and are not useful in getting high.
In Ted, during Ted's fight with John, John attempts to hit Ted with a floor lamp. He neglects to unplug it, so when he swings it around he hits himself and the light bulb shatters against his head.
Tin Cup: Roy could play it safe on the last hole of the U.S. Open, and tie the leader, forcing a playoff, but he goes for broke trying to score under par, and ends up in a water trap... he then repeats the same failed shot, over and over until he finally makes it with his last ball, scoring a 12. His love interest consoles him afterward by telling that in five years, no one will remember who won, but "everyone will remember your 12."
After Erik has just stopped a missile strike from the US Navy, Xavier tries to get Erik to call off his counterattack by saying that "they were Just Following Orders!" He said that to a Holocaust survivor. Magneto's face and quiet voice show everyone just how utterly Xavier has failed to convince him before he returns the missiles to sender.