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Epic Fail / Live-Action TV

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  • There are many infomercials where someone will try to perform a simple task without the advertised product and screw it up in a completely contrived way. So many, in fact, there's a trope about it.
  • A common situation comedy plot where Epic Fail is sure to arise involves one of the main characters announcing he is a chef and had distributed food he had prepared (often, it's a baked good, such as a pastry or filled roll) to a friend, and the friend – who invariably will be the owner of a bakery – is so impressed that he offers to buy the recipe. Things get hairy when there is a sudden huge order for the baked goods and a very short time frame in which to prepare them (e.g., 20,000 pop tarts in 24 hours) ... and only the main setting's home kitchen is available; of course, the main character will absent-mindedly accept. Naturally, this leads to many comic situations before the Epic Fail kicks in.
    • Truth in Television: This has happened a few times in the UK version of The Apprentice when teams have been given the task of creating and selling a product, and sold way beyond their production capacity.
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  • Trope mentioned by name in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., "A Wolf in the Hen House":
    Skye: Hold on are you saying that I am an alien?
    Coulson: It's a theory.
    Skye: No, a theory is what scientists use to prove things in nature. This is you telling me that I might be an alien. That is not something you just say like it's no big deal.
    Coulson: I was trying not to rattle you.
    Skye: Guess what? Epic fail!
  • The Amazing Race:
    • The worst team in the show's history is widely credited to be Dana & Adrian from Season 16 who were eliminated from the race without even completing a single task. While they were the third team to be eliminated without completing a leg, the other two were at legitimate elimination points, whereas Adrian was foiled by a wire walking challenge, something that's been completed by every other racer to ever attempt it on pretty much every other season, including an old, out of shape man with bad knees who could barely walk.
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    • Season 22 has Jessica and John. Having won the first leg and an Express Pass they could use that would allow them to skip a task of their choosing, John refused to use it in Leg 4 (despite Jessica saying they should) when they were falling behind in both the Detour and Roadblock and are the first team to get eliminated with the Express Pass still in hand.
    • During a slingshot challenge, contestants must hit a target with watermelons. One of them hits herself squarely in the face at full power. And then gets up and finishes the task.
    • In season 31, Bret and Chris, who had gotten to the detour first with a three hour lead over the last three teams on a later flight, spent two hours total doing a needle in a haystack challenge rather than the fairly simply memory challenge. They give the memory challenge a try once then go back to the needle in a haystack before ultimately going back to the memory challenge which once they actually try, they get quite easily. They leave the detour in last place and can't make up the time and get eliminated.
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  • In the Angel episode "Parting Gifts", Wesley shows he strapped a dagger to his thigh and boasts about being well prepared. During the big fight scene at the end, he is unable to unstrap it.
  • In one episode of Angie Tribeca, Geils goes all in during a high-stakes poker game. Turns out his hole cards are a three and the card with the instructions on it.
  • Many an Antiques Roadshow episode features a hopeful collector learning that her expensive early American furniture has halved in value because she (or a member of her family) had it refinished. But the all-time Epic Fail champion had to be the man who boasted about his fireplace andirons, which he claimed Liberace had once offered him $70,000 for. The man refused to sell, thinking they were worth far more. The Roadshow appraiser then had to inform the man that the andirons were fakes, and only worth a few hundred dollars.
  • The Apprentice:
    • In season two, the teams were tasked with shooting a recruitment commercial for the New York Police Department. One project leader, Andy (who'd committed a number of mistakes in previous weeks), went for an emotional commercial with police officers asking the viewers when was the last time they saved a life, made their families proud, etc. Elizabeth, the other project leader, went with a militaristic approach saying you don't have to enlist with the army to fight the war on terror. The advertising executive thought that Andy's commercial was the clear winner while Elizabeth's made America look like a police state. In the boardroom, Elizabeth continued to defend her decision right up until Trump fired her. It should be noted Elizabeth was the first contestant ever to be fired without the need for a second boardroom.
    • In the third season, the teams were tasked with producing a commercial for a body wash. Both of them did so poorly, Trump announced there was no winner that week and both teams were sent to the boardroom. If that's not bad enough, it happened again during one of the Celebrity seasons.
    • The third season consisted of fourteen normal episodes, then the interviews and final tasks. Net Worth won the task in episode five...and never won again. (For those not willing to do the math, that's a nine episode losing streak, the longest in the show's history and possibly in the history of reality television.)
    • In the fourth season, the teams were tasked with taking control of a Dick's Sporting Goods store and promoting a sport of their choice. One team chose golf and improved sales of golf equipment by over seventy percent. The other team chose baseball, but focused on a demonstration instead of sales. As a result, sales of baseball equipment at that store dropped by thirty-three percent. (That's an over one hundred percent difference.) Trump's response: bring back the four contestants most responsible for the loss and fire all of them.
    • In the tenth season (and the last regular season), the teams had to manage and present a fashion show for Rockport's men's and women's shoes. The men had to present the women's shoes and while the models were well-dressed and attractive, Wade's choice for the emcee, Gene, stuttered, stumbled over words, mispronounced words and even mixed up the name of a pair of shoes with the name of the model who was wearing them. This was largely because Wade didn't bother replacing Gene after Gene proved unprepared to rehearse! End result: Trump told the women they won, sent them out of the boardroom so he could lay into Wade and Gene, and fired both guys.
    • One task during the Celebrity All-Stars season involved promoting Melania Trump's new line of perfumes. During their presentations, Melania noticed that the promotional artwork from one team misspelled her name. Not only was that the reason they failed the task, they didn't even notice until it was pointed out to them in the boardroom.
    • The Martha Stewart edition had a task where the teams had to use a stage mounted on a truck to promote Tide-To-Go. One team looked through a props warehouse for inspiration. When absolutely nothing jumped out at them, they simply took to the stage dancing around and repeatedly chanting "It's time for Tide-To-Go!". The advertising exec who reviewed their performance said they might as well have stayed home. This was the first of two times Martha sent two contestants home. If that's not bad enough, one of the ideas they rejected was a boxing theme which the other team used very successfully.
  • Tobias from Arrested Development once had himself put in prison to research fear. He figures that the white supremacist White Power Bill would be a good case study and psychoanalyzes him. In the process, he accidentally convinces White Power Bill to commit suicide.
  • Attack of the Show! ends most episodes with an "Epic Fail" segment, showing a video usually from YouTube or, followed by hate hosts mocking the subject of the video.
    • The "Kitten Warrior" competition they did, it took Keven's kitten around 40 of the 60 given seconds to even leave the starting box.
    • They epic failed themselves when their attempt to skywrite the world's largest ASCII penis turned up utterly meaningless smoke scrawl across the sky to their complete dismay.
  • Auction Kings has had a few of these:
    • The Billy Beer was appraised as worthless. Didn't stop it from selling for over $100 though.
    • A seller brings in a stamp they claim is worth a million dollars. Cindy calls in an expert and is floored when she hears the stamp is really worth it... if it were real. Naturally, the stamp is a cheaper reproduction and the seller pulls it.
    • A Seller wants to sell a cart which he runs a business out of. It breaks being unloaded from the trailer, and no one can find a replacement wheel. The most expensive item of the auction is in the front yard, broken.
  • Taylor's attempt at a political seat on the first season of Benson.
    Governor Gatling: So, how did Taylor do?
    Marcie: He lost. He came in sixth.
    Benson: How did he come in sixth? There were only five candidates.
    Marcie: There was a large write-in for "none of the above".
    • It gets worse when they go to console him. He tells them his entire staff walked out after the results from one precinct came in and he didn't get any votes. His grandmother lives in that precinct.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • In one episode when Howard tries to use a simulator to teach Sheldon how to drive, Sheldon somehow manages to wind up on the second floor of the mall and crash into a pet store.
    • Leonard's attempt to mix his own rocket fuel ended up destroying the elevator in events that happened prior to the first episode. How badly was it destroyed? It took over twelve years to get it fixed.
    • In "The Bachelor Party Deterioration", we have the boys spectacularly failing to remove a nut from a hubcap while changing a tire. Somehow, their van caught on fire.
  • Big Time Rush: A few times, but the biggest has to be when the boys cook up a scheme to get Carlos a girlfriend. In order to impress the girl, they plan for James, disguised as a robber, to rob Logan's handbag, who is disguised as an old lady, then Carlos jumps in, saves the day and gives the girl flowers put out by Kendall. Only when Carlos jumps in, he punches Logan, gives James the flowers, and the girl the handbag.
  • In one episode of Blackadder, the Prince Regent spends an entire week trying to put on a pair of trousers.
  • Eddie and Richie from Bottom manage to get themselves trapped on top of Western Europe's tallest ferris wheel, in a conveniently deserted carnival (the wheel is scheduled for demolition the next morning), beat each other senseless, set fire to their carriage, break the cables holding it up, and when rescued by God, deny his existence, causing him to vanish in a Puff of Logic.
  • In the fictional news program Brass Eye, a report states that a pedophile was exiled to space to serve his life sentence in orbit. However, in their infinite wisdom, the authorities managed to send an 8-year-old boy with him by accident.
    Chris Morris: A spokesman said, "This is the one thing we didn't want to happen."
  • At the beginning of the third season of Buffy, the title character has gone AWOL leaving the remaining Scoobies doing their best to take down any vampires they can in her absence. When a newly risen vampire takes out Xander and Willow before they can stake it, only Oz is left standing to try and stop the monster before it can escape. He grabs the stake and attempts to throw it through the now-fleeing vampire's heart... and he's able to throw it for about a foot before it falls to the ground.
  • Cheers:
    • In a flashback to Diane's time at the institution she goes into between seasons 2 and 3, we see that she met Frasier when she got into a fight with another patient over cheating in a game of croquet. That's not the fail. The fail is that Diane is overpowered by the other patient, who is a little old lady.
    • Cliff's Jeopardy! loss. It all starts well enough - Cliff's command of inane trivia and statistics fall in his favour for once, allowing him to get all the way to $20,000 against two prestigious opponents. Right up until the last answer ("Archibald Leach, Bernard Schwartz, and Lucille LeSueur"). Cliff panics, and bets everything on the question being "who are three people who've never been in my kitchen", even when Alex Trebek tries to give him an out. This managed to be a fail so epic it actually became a real term on Jeopardy! when people started doing the same thing on the actual show.
    • The bar once bought a slot machine. Everyone has tremendous success playing it except for Rebecca who always loses. Feeling pity for her, Sam asks Carla to rig the machine so that it pays off no matter what. After she does, Sam asks Rebecca to play it one last time. So, she does and wins...her nickel back. Carla reasons that the machine had been paying off so much that it must have run out of money. Still, Rebecca views it as an improvement.
    • Another episode had Sam and Woody in a contest to see who could kiss Rebecca first. Woody tries to hypnotize her into doing what he says so he kiss her first. He not only fails to hypnotize her, but also hypnotizes himself.
  • Community:
    • In the episode "Modern Warfare", the college holds a paintball tournament where the winner is to receive a Blu-Ray DVD player as a prize, but it gets stolen. They later replace the DVD player with the prize of priority registration (meaning the winner gets first pick of classes the following semester). Everyone finds this so desirable, the campus turns into a post-apocalyptic war zone in less than an hour.
    • "Remedial Chaos Theory" has Jeff create six different timelines by rolling a die to see who goes to get a pizza from the delivery man. If he rolls a "1", Troy goes to get the pizzas and turns the simple act into disaster. The apartment catches fire, Pierce is killed, Annie goes insane, recovering alcoholic Shirley relapses, Jeff loses an arm, Troy loses his larynx, and Britta dyes a part of her hair blue. Fortunately, this is not the canon timeline.
  • On Corner Gas, Oscar made a salad... that then exploded.
    Hank: How do you blow up a salad?
    Oscar: Happens more than you'd think!
  • Deadliest Warrior:
    • In the episode "Musketeer vs Ming Warrior", the leader of the Mings lets out a war cry, only to get shot by a Musketeer.
    • In the "Medellin Cartel vs Somali Pirate" episode, a cartel member leaves his hideout and locks the door. A Somali Pirate with a RPG-7 rocket launcher notices him and aims the rocket. The cartel guy tries to open the door to get inside the building, but...he just locked it! The Pirate's rocket hits him directly.
    • In the "Ninja vs Spartan" episode, the ninja jumps out of a tree, in plain sight of the Spartan, in a last-ditch effort to... be impaled on the Spartan's spear, which the Spartan only had to extend. This may be more of an example of Too Dumb to Live than epic fail, though. Unless you're the Spartan, then the failure is pretty impressive for you.
  • Mike from Desperate Housewives had this to say about Susan's macaroni and cheese: "How did tastes like it's burned and undercooked." (Thus is technically possible if you apply extreme heat for a very short time. The outside is burned, while the inside remains uncooked. That only applies to baked mac 'n' cheese, though— it's truly an Epic Fail if you managed this with the instant boxed kind!)
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Christmas Invasion": While the Doctor is unconscious due to regeneration sickness, Rose tries to get the Sycorax to leave by giving them a speech that mainly consists of namedropping the various alien threats she's encountered over the course of the past season. The Sycorax's response? Laughter.
    • "The Runaway Bride": The Doctor releases Donna from the Racnoss Empress' webbing so she can swing down, and readies to catch her... only for her to crash a couple metres below him. Even the Empress looks stunned.
    • In 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor", the Tenth Doctor, the Eleventh Doctor, and the War Doctor are trapped in a cell. They come up with a brilliant plan to utilize The Slow Path, exploiting the fact that they're all one man at different points in time. The War Doctor scans the door with his screwdriver, then sets it calculating how to disintegrate it. Ten (who is a hundred years older) checks his screwdriver, and the calculation is still ongoing. Eleven (who is a few hundred years older still) checks his... and the calculation is complete! They're all congratulating themselves on their cleverness... until Clara opens the door from the other side. It wasn't even locked.
      Clara: Three of you, in one cell, and none of you thought to try the door?!
      War Doctor: It should have been locked...
    • Then there's the Twelfth Doctor's attempt at teaching some non-warrior Vikings how to use swords in "The Girl Who Died". One Viking hits another on his helmet with his sword, knocking the other Viking out. There's a bit of blood, which causes a third Viking to faint at the sight of it, knocking a torch onto some hay. This spooks a horse, which kicks open a gate... with the ultimate result of all this being the Viking village on fire and the Vikings desperately trying to put it out.
  • Referenced by name in one episode of Fact Or Faked Paranormal Files when the crew attempts to test the official statement that a supposed UFO caught on video was in fact several airborne Chinese lanterns. After successfully lighting the lantern they released it... only to have it go sideways instead of up because of the wind, barely miss one of the camera crew, light itself on fire and then plummet to the ground, forcing them to put it out with a fire extinguisher. This caused them to declare that one getting up that high would only be possible with absolutely no wind, something next to impossible in the area where the video was filmed.
  • Eurovision Song Contest: The dreaded Nul Points, when a country fails to score even a single vote, is this in the eyes of Eurovision fans. Under the current voting system scoring absolutely nothing means that the contestant has failed to impress both the viewing public and the national judging panels.
  • Mallory from Family Ties took a Philosophy course when she went to college and failed her first assignment. What makes this an Epic Fail is that the goal of the assignment was proving Skippy existed.
  • Father Ted:
  • Frasier:
    • One of the funniest moments in the history of the show is the first act of "Three Valentines", which consists of Niles managing to turn a minor adjustment of his pants while sitting on the couch waiting for his date to arrive into a six-minute-long, wordless catastrophe set to the diegetic score of a symphony orchestra that ends with the couch on fire, everything but the couch covered in fire extinguisher fluff, and Niles sprawled in the middle of the floor half-naked in a dead faint with the door wide open while Eddie the dog wolfs down his date's meal. While it may have been an Epic Fail for Niles, it was a Moment of Awesome for David Hyde Pierce.
    • Also, Daphne's attempt at throwing a dinner party in "Daphne Does Dinner". The Crane family, who are notorious for having all their parties end in disaster, proudly take the sheer massiveness of her failure as a rite of passage to her becoming "officially a Crane".
    • In "The Apparent Trap", Niles tries playing one of Freddie's videogames and somehow manages to die during the training level - by tripping and falling in the game.
    • In fact, the show thrives on this very trope. Anything that any of the main cast try to do will descend into hilariously over-the-top, convoluted pandemonium two-thirds of the time (the other third of the time it will end in a Moment of Awesome).
  • Friends:
    • Chandler wishes to quit a gym (which he has not been attending) as it keeps on siphoning money from his bank. After a 'warm-up' session with Chandler trying to instill his confidence, Chandler and Ross visit the gym, and when Chandler goes into the manager's office to talk, the gym boy chats Ross up, and calls Maria to make Ross reconsider. Ross instead ends up joining the gym with Chandler as a result. Also, when Chandler and Ross try to close their accounts to help them stop the money siphoning, the manager calls up his attractive secretary (Noticing a Pattern here?), which led them to rather make a joint account. In short, from prepping up Chandler to say No to the gym, they themselves not only ENDED up joining, but also made a joint account. Rachel notes the irony while smirking at the two.
  • Chief from Gimme a Break! is in good company with Niles Crane. (See above.) He tries to play a video game with his daughter Julie and loses a life just by pressing start.
  • On the Girl Meets World episode "Girl Meets Farkle's Choice", Riley rehearses the morning announcements so she doesn't mess up. However, as soon as the camera is on she delivers the announcements in almost-unintelligible gibberish. It's so bad that her best friend Maya (who is sitting next to her) cracks up hard every time.
  • The Golden Girls:
    • Dorothy mentions to Blanche about the weight loss through sex diet she and Stan went through, where anytime you went hungry you replace food with a sexual activity:
      Blanche: Did it work?
    • Blanche's attempt at Sitting Sexy on a Piano. Rue McClanahan declared it her favorite musical scene because of how badly it went.
  • Pretty much everything The Goodies do turns out like this.
    • When Bill and Tim are arguing Like an Old Married Couple in "Kitten Kong", Bill says: "What did we get last time you cooked supper, eh? A bowl of corn flakes! Yes, and they were burnt..."
  • The Good Life: "How do you miss a chicken at six inches?" "... he ducked."
  • In Good News Week, Sammy J and Randy are playing Strip Poker. When they show their hands, Sammy having 7 cards as oppose to the standard five, says he thinks he has a five of spades. When Randy tells him the difference between clubs and spades, he realizes Sammy never knew this despite them playing for three hours. Sammy thought they were interchangeable. Sammy tries to play a Queen, only for Randy to tell him he played a three of diamonds instead. Sammy defensively says that Queens wear diamonds.
    • Later in the skit, Sammy J refuses to gives money to the volunteer from the Wilderness Society until he takes off his possum costume. Sammy convinces him to play a few rounds of Strip Poker in order to get him out of the suit. Smash Cut to the volunteer worker still in costume and Sammy J completely naked, forcing Sammy to donate.
  • The Good Place:
    • The first season ends with Eleanor realizing they're actually in the Bad Place and Michael resetting everything while wiping their memories. What follows is a series of attempts to run the project again with some attempts failing hard enough to qualify for this trope:
      • One attempt fails when Eleanor figures out the secret during orientation, thus ensuring it only lasts a few hours at best.
      • Another attempt fails when Michael forgets to lock the door to his office while discussing his plans and Eleanor walks in to overhear them.
      • Another time, he's lamenting his failures to run the project to his liking, only for the camera to pan out and reveal Eleanor was sitting across from him the whole time.
        Michael: Whatever, this one doesn't even count.
      • Michael himself considers one attempt an especially epic fail when Jason figures out the secret.
        Michael: Oh, oh this one hurts.
      • The following episode reveals that one of the resets occurred by accident before he could do anything.
        Michael: Yeah, I sat on the reset button by mistake. It was a butt-reset.
    • The second season ends with the main characters facing a test to see if they belong in the Good Place. Of the four, Eleanor is the only one to succeed. While Jason and Tahani fail, they do not fail nearly as badly as Chidi. His test involves choosing between two hats to wear. He finally chooses one after eighty-two minutes and the judge explains that there was no "right" one. Granted, indecisiveness is Chidi's Fatal Flaw, but eighty-two minutes to choose a hat?
      Chidi: Did I at least choose the right one?
      Gen: There is no right one! They're hats!
  • The Great British Bake Off: The stroopwaffel technical challenge in series 8, where all of the contestants fail to get it right and the winner ends up being the least bad.
    • At least twice, bakers have accidentally used salt instead of sugar. Both times led to an inedible bake and a harsh judging from Paul and Mary.
  • Home Improvement:
    • Tim and Jill Taylor went to visit a marines base, and the soldiers offer to allow Jill to test drive one of the tanks due to her desire to be in one. Tim then cautions that trying to drive it is something else. Just then, Tim somehow manages to activate one of the Abrams' machine guns simply by touching it.
    • Pretty much describes everything Tim does on "Tool Time".
  • iCarly. In many episodes, something Spencer is doing catches fire, asplodes, and more. Often lampshaded when such happens. Notably, in one, he touches a bell on a desk. It burns, and puts it out with soda. It catches fire again!
  • The IT Crowd:
    • When Moss attempts to put out a burning soldering iron, the fire extinguisher catches fire.
    • One time Jen has to give a presentation on her work in the IT department. Roy and Moss set her up for a fail by giving her a black box with a little flashing light and pretending that it's the internet. Yes, the entire internet, responsible for all of modern communications and civilization, specially flown in by Stephen Hawking. The entire audience buys into it until her boss comes bursting through the wall in a fist fight with his transsexual girlfriend and smashes the little black box. A riot breaks out, people run for the doors, some start crying, some start fighting and some start to get busy in the middle of the lecture room floor.
    • The entire trip to the theatre. Their Goth co-worker Richmond warns them that nothing good can come of their trip, but by the time he's finished they've all left. All three main characters have their night completely ruined.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
    • When the gang are coming up with topics to talk to their dates about, Frank suggests they forget it and just go out and tell them their names. He gets his own name wrong.
      Frank: Hey ladies, I'm Frak. Shit!
    • One episode has Mac try to drag Charlie out of the bar. Mac somehow knocked himself out in the process.
      Charlie: Your Head of Security just chocked himself out.
  • In Justified, a lot of time is spent building up the idea that a man with a knife can kill a man with a holstered gun before the gunner can draw if the knife guy is within 30 feet. By the time of the climax, the knife guy is within about 30 feet of Raylin, and they both take their time to build up the tension. Then the knife guy charges, Raylin struggles to draw his gun fast enough...and the knife guy falls into a small pit that neither saw in the dark, and somehow manages to stab himself in the face, fatally.
  • On the fifth installment in the Kamen Rider Double spin-off Hidari Shotaro's Hardboiled Delusion Diaries, Shotaro tries to imagine what things would be like if he was a police officer and Terui was a detective. The Narumi Detective Agency seems much better with Terui in Shotaro's place. Then, Shotaro shows up, and it's revealed that he accidentally imagined himself as Santa-chan. In an attempt to save face, he tries to give everyone gifts, only to pull a gun out of his bag and use it to shoot the Bird Dopant, a Monster of the Week who, in this delusion, is a cop. Reminder: this is all supposed to be Shotaro's own delusion. He was such a half-boiled guy that even his own delusion backfires on himself.
  • Several of the restaurants featured on Kitchen Nightmares manage to take this trope to epic heights.
    • Not once but twice has Gordon found restaurants whose chefs find a way to burn nachos.
    • At La Para de Burianna, Gordon gives the chef a simple, easy, cannot-fail menu as a safety net. Cue the dinner service as the head chef cooks bad food, his assistant can't find the right materials and the manager is so flustered that he's carrying food trays to tables that don't have any diners sitting. Gordon can only give an epic Face Palm to it all.
    • In Casa Roma, it took an hour for Gordon to get his starter and then another half hour for his main course...and Gordon was the only person in the place. Later on, during the dinner service, they're only able to serve 3 out of 25 tables the entire night. No wonder Gordon demands the chef be fired on the spot.
    • The delusional owner/chef of Pantaleone's openly boasts he has "the best pizza in Denver." Gordon organizes a public taste test between his, pizza from a high-end place and a store-bought version. Pantaleone was dead last behind the store-bought version.
    • Leone's has Gordon deciding to have his own staff cook every item off the fifteen page menu. When the staff comes in, they find over a hundred dishes laid out...and then they can't even finish any of them and admit their food is crap.
    • At the Old Neighborhood, Gordon (and the camera) note how the shrimp is so bad even a buzzing fly won't go near it.
    • All of these examples pale in comparison to Amy's Baking Company, whose episode marks the only time in the US series that Gordon gives up before he even starts, as the owners prove to be so cartoonishly unhinged and thick-skulled that nothing he says or does can get through to them. It became the most memetic episode of the series and the only one to get its own trope page precisely because how ludicrously awful the restaurant and its proprietors are compared to those featured in the show before and after it.
  • In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Malcolm goes bowling. There are two scenarios in the episode, each presented as an Alternate Universe; Malcolm goes with his mom in one scenario, and goes with his dad in the other. It turns into an Epic Fail for Malcolm either way, but for different reasons.
    • In Mom's scenario, despite Malcolm repeatedly getting gutter balls, his mother continues to enthusiastically cheer him on and hopes that he'll get a strike. This eventually frustrates Malcolm so much that he grabs a ball, walks down the lane up to the pins, yells that he'll give her the strike she wants... and misses all of the pins, from a foot away. Cue the entire bowling alley laughing at Malcolm.
    • In Dad's scenario, Malcolm ends up bowling pretty well, but he eventually stops to go into the back room to make out with a girl. But just as he goes to kiss her, Malcolm gets stuck in a pin machine, culminating with Malcolm crashing through it onto the pins and getting hit with his dad's bowling ball. To make matters worse, Hal would have gotten a perfect 300 had Malcolm not broken the machine.
  • In one episode of Mama's Family, Naomi tried to become a stewardess. However, upon entering the simulator, Naomi got dizzy and lightheaded and went to the bathroom for some water...only to mistake the emergency exit for the washroom and fell out, becoming the first ever person to die on the simulator.
  • Married... with Children: This trope, in two words, more or less sums up most of the life of Al Bundy.
    • Particularly glorious examples of Epic Failures are chronicled in the episodes 976-SHOE and God's Shoes.
    • In one episode, jealous Kelly plans to get rid of a French exchange student by letting her cheat off her. The poor girl fails every single subject, including French.
    • Kelly just seems to get into these situations. In the string of episodes where the family wins a trip to England, Kelly gets lost in London and then learns that Al and Bud are scheduled to be killed in the small English village they're visiting. Kelly's attempts to get to the village only get her even more lost...and by "even more lost", one means not only wandering across half the world's continents, but time-travelling back to the Mesozoic Era. Since Kelly eventually does manage to find the village in time to save her father and brother (with no explanation given), these are definitely Achievements in Ignorance for her.
    • Then there was the episode in which a buff fitness guru tries to get the slovenly Bundys to lead healthful lives. Not only do the Bundys remain lazy, but they turn the instructor himself into a fat, chain-smoking couch potato!
    • Terry Rakolta led a boycott against the show. Some sponsors did cancel their commercials, but the fuss she raised also raised the show's ratings, simultaneously raising both the rates the show could charge for commercials, and bringing in new advertisers.
    • In one episode, Kelly has to do a book report for class about Robinson Crusoe. When she asks her brother for help, Bud cannot help himself sabotage her in the most spectacular way possible by describing Gilligan's Island instead. She buys the whole thing hook, line and sinker.
      Kelly: [comes back home infuriated] Bud? Me and the principal just had a three hour talk. A three hour talk.
  • Monk: Lampshaded in "Mr. Monk Is Underwater", where Monk discovers that a couple of years ago, the submarine he's on hit an undersea mountain. He's gobsmacked and can't believe that a Navy commander could possibly be that incompetent.
  • In an episode of Mr. Young, Adam attempts to knock over a bunch of bottles with a ball at a carnival. The first throw, he misses completely, but that's not the epic fail. The second time, he makes contact, but not enough to knock it over, but that's not the epic fail. The third time, he hits dead center, and the ball just ounces off without a single pin getting knocked over, but that's not the epic fail. No, the epic fail comes later, when the ride he's on malfunctions and he's sent flying off, and he crashes into the bottles at high speed, and still fails to knock a single one over.
  • The Muppet Show:
    • In the Edgar Bergin episode, Gonzo the Great wrestles a brick blindfolded...and loses.
    • In the Nancy Walker episode, Kermit is home sick, so Fozzie is in charge; he proceeds to nearly blow the theater up, then delays the next act until the audience leaves - almost - and then messes up the introductions in a way that somehow causes "At the Dance" and "Veterinarian's Hospital" to go on at the same time. And this is just before the first commercial break...
    • Professor Bunsen Honeydew has Epic Fails all the time, much to the regret of his hapless assistant Beaker. In one episode, his fireproof paper proved even more flammable than regular paper, but even worse, his invention of flammable water (used by Beaker when he tried to put it out) worked perfectly.
    • Possibly the most epic fail of all was the one where the cast turned the show into a Birthday Episode for Kermit. Not only was it not Kermit's birthday, it was about six months later. (Hard to get a date worse than that.)
  • One of the funniest outtakes for Mystery Science Theater 3000 involved one of those. Joel had to come on the set and say one word. That word being "waffles." While he's eating waffles. In an episode where every host segment is about waffles. The camera starts rolling:
    Joel: "...Pancakes. Oh, I blew it!"
  • While many Mythbusters experiments end in failure because the myth tested is, well, a myth, some fail in such a spectacular fashion that only "epic fail" is strong enough to describe the result:
    • One of the most memorable ones happened in the JATO rocket car supersize revisit, where every single test and planning step went perfectly well until the final run: when the car reached the ramp and the rocket was activated, it blew up sky high, shredding apart the car completely.
      Jamie: Well, let's reset.
      Adam: I think someone owes me 10,000 bucks.
    • The crew had their own epic fail when they tried to shoot some barrels of water with a cannon. They did this at a bomb range, so it's hard to believe they'd mess up too badly, but, well...not only did they completely miss the barrels, the cannonball bounced all the way out of the bomb range and into a residential area, where it smashed its way through a house, damaged the roof of a different house, and ended its rampage by smashing into a minivan. Seriously. They're just lucky the rogue ball was content with property damage, and didn't try for bodily damage.
  • Night Court:
    • In a similar vein to the Benson example, in "Once In Love With Harry", Dan Fielding lost an election to a dead man.
    • When the court upgraded their file system to a computer network, Mac had some trouble getting used to it. First, he tries to access the current case and pulls up a game of Pac-Man. He later tries to access another case and somehow hacks into LaGuardia's air traffic control. (This is hard enough to do intentionally.) It gets worse when he tries to back out of air traffic control and apparently ends up having a plane land in the city. (We see an airplane landing wheel pass the window in Harry's office.)
      • Gets a Call-Back in the episode where a documentary crew is filming the staff.
      Mac: Using this computer, I can access any case file just like this.
      (Pushes a button and brings up a game of Super Mario Bros.)
  • In the NUMB3RS episode featuring the hacker on the run from various criminal groups, the Israeli hacker/arms-dealer gets cornered by an FBI agent while said Israeli hacker's muscle is elsewhere. You see the hacker's eyes dart over to the glass window and you know he's gonna make a break for it— But you don't expect for the break to fail so spectacularly, as the hacker's body (appropriate for his specialty, and thus not made like a linebacker's) bounces off the window not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES. He's caught, obviously, no doubt wondering why the breakaway glass didn't breakaway, like in the movies.
  • The first attempt to form the Megazord from Power Rangers Samurai. The Rangers bring together their folding Zords...and stack them on top of each other like a totem pole. The Monster of the Week just stares at them for a while, unable to believe the sheer amount of fail before knocking the Zords over. (This also happened in the original Samurai Sentai Shinkenger.)
  • Psych once had Shawn and Gus investigate when the owner of their favorite food truck is murdered and they go undercover with a food truck of their own. The Epic Fail comes into play when they get their truck inspected by the health department. They somehow earn a "D" from the inspector who comments that he gives out so few of those, he had to have that one specially printed.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • The broken drive plate that killed the crew was Ret Conned into being a trivially easy thing to fix. Rimmer's failure killed the crew, sent Lister 3 million years into the future, and created enough ambient radiation in the sealed hold to allow a race of cat people to evolve from the descendants of a single cat without severe inbreeding problems.
    • Rimmer's astrophysics exam results are the stuff of legend. Shown onscreen is his failed attempt to write answers on his arms, only to smear them uselessly when rolling up his sleeves and stamping a huge handprint as his final answer. According to the novelization, he was gambling on the infinitesimal chance that his hand print would coalesce into all the correct answers. Another example mentioned by Lister was Rimmer writing I am a fish four hundred times before fainting
      • Even before smearing them he'd realized that he had no concept of what any of the notes meant. Dude couldn't understand a cheat sheet he wrote himself.
    • In Rimmer's backstory, he volunteered to work for the Samaritans, a helpline for the depressed and suicidal. Five people killed themselves after talking to him, including one who had the wrong number and only wanted the cricket scores.
    • When Lister attempts to outrank Rimmer by becoming a chef, he produces what appears to be a perfectly edible dessert. Shame he was going for roast beef.
  • Ripping Yarns, "The Curse of the Claw": Captain Merson and his men, most of whom are tribal, get lost on the very first day of their expedition. They mean to see if there is a river passage, linking the Ganges with the Brahmaputra River through Bhutan. They reach Kevin's cottage house in Maidenhead in the middle of the night. They were supposed to change at Woking, but some stupid ticket collector put them on a wrong platform. Three men are separated from the group already because they went on to Bristol.
  • Robot Wars Series 5 had the gut-bustingly funny elimination of Major Tom. In its fight with Kat 3, it had triggered a switch to open up The Pit, which the team intended to put Kat 3 in. However, when the button was pressed, Major Tom reversed right over the pit as it started to lower its floor, leaving it stuck in the hole and eliminated.
  • Season 8 of RuPaul's Drag Race featured a double elimination in the second episode. Neither of the bottom two contestants (Dax and Laila) delivered on a lip sync to "I Will Survive", a song Ru and the judges say is Drag 101.
  • Saturday Night Live:
    • One episode hosted by Melissa McCarthy had a sketch called "Just Desserts" which features a game show similar to Press Your Luck. The main difference is that instead of a Whammy, contestants receive a Pie in the Face. Somehow, everything that happens in round one gets McCarthy's character a pie in the face, including coming in last for that round.
    • Speaking of pastry, the 2019 episode hosted by Don Cheadle had a sketch involving a baking competition. Cheadle's cake was so bad, it came to life and begged to be destroyed.
  • A constant problem Alex Trebek has with the contestants on Celebrity Jeopardy is their many ways of failing the simplistic challenges. Best example when the Final Jeopardy was for the contestants to ask themselves a question then answer it, Catherine Zeta Jones asked herself what sound a doggy makes, and failed to answer it.
  • In-universe example, but just fortuitous in Real Life: Michael Richards was once reminiscing about how, on the set of Seinfeld, he performed an impromptu pratfall while walking through Jerry's door as part of his "Kramer" character. As Richards's feet flew out from under him, one of them went completely over his head, curled around the doorknob, and closed the door all by itself. Richards regretted that he would never be able to do that again.
  • Frank Spencer from Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em pretty much embodied this trope. He tried to fix a toilet in a hightech house (which he'd broken when he found using it to be trickier than one might expect) and ended up stuffing it full of various household goods (including, if memory serves, a plant), flooding the house's electrics, causing every piece of equipment to go crazy and basically resulting in it nearly killing the occupants.
  • Stargate Atlantis: The season 4 premier has the team using Puddle Jumpers to blast through an Asteroid Thicket. McKay compares the situation to Asteroids, and says he actually got a zero once. Due to the way the points worknote , this would require not only a phenomenal lack of skill but truly unbelievably bad luck.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • During the episode "Deadlocked", Harry Kim invents a new type of forcefield, specifically designed to contain a growing hull breach. He decides to be the one to implement his ingenious solution. Naturally, it utterly fails to work, leaving him right above the breach when it ruptures, sucking him into the cold, hard vacuum of space where he dies. All in all, classic Harry Kim move. Luckily, at the end of the episode, he ends up getting replaced by a Quantum Duplicate from the alternate Voyager.
    • Neelix got his turn in an early episode, nearly dooming the ship with cheese. Not the crew, the actual ship.
  • Storage Wars:
    • When Mark Balelo found an original NES, he got a little excited. "NES-001, guys. I want you to look at this very carefully. This is the first Nintendo DS built. The last one that sold with five games in the internet for $13,000." That was the model number, not the serial number. It was worth maybe ten bucks. The reason the "last one" sold for $13,000 was because one of those five games was a fully boxed, mint-condition cartridge of a game whose distribution numbered in the hundreds.
    • In another episode, Dave Hester finds a beat-up violin in storage which he immediately convinces himself is an original Stradivari worth millions. He brings it to a violin expert who values it at possibly 300-400 dollars at most, if Dave invested 100-200 dollars to restore it to good condition. Up to that point, Dave had blabbed to the camera nonstop about how he'd found the holy grail of storage scavenging and would be retiring any day now.
  • In The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Maddie once got London a job at a chicken restaurant. She fails every job Maddie gives her, and when Maddie assigns her to be the mascot and just stand around and cluck, she quacks instead.
  • Comedian Bob Einstein combined this trope with Informed Ability in the character of Super Dave Osborne. Super Dave is continually lauded as one of the world's most brilliant stuntmen, whose death-defying feats are "astronomically sensational". Of course, when the audience actually sees Super Dave perform a stunt, it inevitably backfires in an Epic Fail manner. Sometimes Super Dave doesn't even need to be performing a stunt, as more than one Epic Fail resulted from him simply trying to show off some new attraction at the Super Dave Compound.
    • If Super Dave ever plays a piano, expect a car or truck to come crashing out of nowhere and take them out both.
  • Survivor:
    • Survivor: Cook Islands: In the final episode, a tie at the penultimate Tribal Council led to the traditional tiebreaker: a fire-building challenge. Both Becky and Sundra were to build a small fire high enough to burn through a rope about three feet off the ground or so. Some contestants have trouble building fires (see Reality Show Genre Blindness), but in this instance, neither contestant could get their tinder to light using the flint-and-steel, despite throwing sparks nonstop for an hour. Jeff eventually stopped them and told them they were moving on to matches. Even with matches, they continued to fail at keeping a flame going long enough for their teepees to catch light for another half-hour. One of them ran out of matches. This was especially annoying because they made fire earlier in the season. And what made it even worse was that Becky and Sundra weren't seen as any particular threat to win compared to Yul and Ozzy, so essentially this challenge's only purpose was deciding who got third and who got fourth.
      Strong Bad: Hello, my name is piece of wood and I don't want to catch fire. Hello, my name is little match, and I don't want to make a fire! Hello, my name is fire, and I'm not comin' to your stupid party!
    • Partway through the challenge, the sound guys realize where this is going and change from dramatic music to comedic.
    • Russell Hantz came on for the third time. However this time he doesn't have the advantage of being unknown to his fellow players this time since the production staff practically shoved him down our throats during the previous two times he was on. You would expect that he would have wised up and realized that he's at a disadvantage due to being with people he doesn't know (like in Heroes vs. Villains) and that they know who he is and how he plays the game; so he wouldn't start playing the same game he was known for. Instead, he assembled his usual harem... started hunting for the idol without making sure people opposing him weren't watching first, then tried to get a tribe-mate to be a third wheel in the alliance, on flimsy promises. Result? The non-harem tribe members build their own counter-alliance, twice the size of his, and throw a challenge for the express purpose of tossing him. First one out of the Zapatera (no less on a re-vote)... second person eliminated in total in the season.
      • This Epic Fail is underscored by the fact that "Boston" Rob was placed in a similar situation in the other tribe and managed to play a masterful game where he ended up completely dominating the entire season and winning it all. And he was at the first two Tribal Councils.
    • Not to mention the infamous Ulong Tribe of Palau, who managed to lose every single immunity challenge and was down to just one member by the time the merge came. The term "Ulonging" has since been used for particularity poor tribe performances.
      • And Ulong gets replaced by the appropriately named Matsing Tribe of Philippines (US version, not the Philippines version). They lost every single reward/immunity challenge and the two remaining members were absorbed to the other two tribes in the 5th episode.
      • Cagayan: The Luzon tribe. Lost all but few challenges? Check. Problems that also involved destroying 95% of their food on purpose? Check. Dissolved after the 4th challenge? Check. Here is how bad they were, on the 4th Immunity challenge, the Appari tribe was trying to let Luzon win, and yet the Appari tribe won ACCIDENTALLY. In other words, the Luzon tribe lost to a tribe that was trying to lose the Immunity challenge.
    • Crystal Cox, the Olympic gold medalist from Gabon who utterly failed at anything even remotely athletic, culminating in her missing a slam dunk on a five-foot hoop when she's six-feet tall. This sums it up pretty nicely.
    • Jason Siska, of Micronesia infame, finds the fake idol Ozzy Lusth has planted. To clarify, it looks like a stick with a poorly drawn face. Jason falls for it hook, line and sinker, and gives it to his only ally Eliza to save her, which leads to a predictable reaction from Eliza.
      • That's not even the only extremely gullible thing Jason has done during the season. Check this to seethe recount on his entire time on Survivor.
    • Ozzy Lusth gets involved in another Epic Fail in Survivor: South Pacific, when he willingly sends himself to Redemption Island, and tries to act as though Cochran blindsided him. The performance is so cringeworthy none of the Upolus believe it even for a second, and Cochran decides to flip to regain his trust with them. In other words, Ozzy's acting was so bad it cost him his game!
    • From Survivor: Cagayan, we also get Garrett Adelstein. His tribe, the aforementioned Luzon, was going to Tribal Council, and everyone knew J'Tia was going home tonight - she was so confident, in fact, that she destroyed the tribe's rice. That's when Garrett has the idol and decides to do what he wants because he is safe tonight. He laid out the alliance, talked over everybody and forced them to be silent for the entire day. But the real kicker comes when, after relying entirely on the idol to not sink his game, Garrett forgets to bring it to Tribal Council and gets voted off.
  • Top Gear: It's not for nothing the motto of the challenges is "Ambitious but rubbish". Thanks to Jeremy Clarkson's devotion to Tim Taylor Technology, when he fails to achieve Epic Win, he winds up with Epic Fail.
    • One example: the Toyota amphibious truck, which crossed a two-mile stretch of water and then capsized next to the dock when he turned too quickly.
    • Another one: the Fiat "Giant" Panda stretch limo, which was too long to maneuver and passengers required a The Great Escape-style sliding-board contrivance just to get into the back seat. Yes, folks, Jezza built a two-door stretch limo. And then it broke in half...
    • In one episode they had a caravan holiday with Top Gear Dog. Turned out the dog got carsick.
    • You have to be impressed with a convertible people carrier that ended up causing a fire in a car wash.
      • Speaking of which, and regarding the amphibious vehicles, "None of us were seaworthy. Mine was still on fire."
    • In the literal drag race during the tractor challenge, he decided that the best weight to pull was...a 747 jet airliner. It led to his turbocharged tractor taking 20 seconds to go from 0 to 1.
    • "Meanwhile, James had managed to get lost. On an oval."
    • After they turned a combine harvester into a snowplow, they decided to test it in Norway. They destroy a house, burn through a road sign, run over a car, and may or may not have set a person on fire...
    • In the alpine truck challenge, each of them was given a cargo (a giant cake for James, a car for Hammond, and a hay stack with a heater for Jeremy) for them to bring from one side of the hilly course to the other. The results: the cake was toppled over, the car was GONE, and Jeremy's trailer was engulfed in flames.
    • When they tried to make their own RVs, the whole thing was the definition of this trope. Examples include
      • James May's design accidentally covering his fuel filler cap.
      • Richard Hammond setting fire to metal while cooking.
      • And Jeremy Clarkson's motorhome falling over - with him inside it at the time.
    • One episode invokes this for laughs. The crew were all comparing 3 mid-70's British sports cars and seeing how they stacked up against a respectably built German car of the same era and class in a series of performance test races. To nobody's surprise, the German car had worse performance than all three British cars. Next up, they had to test out the fuel economy of the cars, so they were set to drive to a destination about 30km away. They mention that just for comparability, the German car would go first as part of the test. The German car promptly explodes when the driver turned the ignition. Not surprised in the least, they decide to just go on without it.
      • Later, they test the cars in a car wash to see if there were any leaks. The three cars driven by the presenters have minor leaks at worst (Hammond's being the most noticeable). Then, a new comparison car driven by the Stig goes through... and emerges completely filled with water.
      • Played for laughs again when Jeremy demonstrates the ridiculous lengths one has to go to when trying to destroy a Porsche 911; during which he slams the car into a block wall (much harder than he intended to) and damages the wall more than the car. All told, the Porsche also survives shotgun blasts, an upright piano dropped from a crane, and being doused with acid.
    • The episode where they make their own electric car, Geoff/Hammerhead-Eagle i-Thrust, was a string of consecutive epic failure, from design to the testing stage, culminating in a track test that ended when a faulty diesel-electric system asphyxiated their green technology Stig. Amusingly, they technically accomplished their goal: to make a car that scored higher than a real electric car—in the Autocar review they cited on the show (yes, the magazine actually did review it), the Hammerhead-Eagle i-Thrust was given a score that was half a star better than the G-Wiz. (Yep, neither car scored more than 1 star.) Probably because the Top Gear car, unlike the G-Wiz, made no pretense that it was actually any good.
    • Jeremy drives the Reliant Robin. And flips it over and over and over again.
    • The show has had such a long and ridiculous string of these, that they made a two-part, two-hour long special dedicated solely to them: Top Gear: Top Fails.
    • Michael Schumacher's Played for Laughs lap in the Suzuki Lianna. He stalled off the line, ground gears after getting started, crashed into a camera tripod going round Chicago, when incredibly slow through the follow through went the wrong way around the tires, and got lost before the second-to-last turn.
    • When totaling up the score from the Tailgating Van Challenge:
      "Right, so I was minus a half... Uh, Richard, you were nine... and James, you were minus four million."
    • Jeremy's biathlon performance during the Winter Olympics special. While James used the standard biathlon .22 sniper rifle, Jezza decided that an MP5 on full auto would be better suited for the job. The first round on the range, he hits everything, except the targets, and the second round… well, let's just say that the Norwegian landscape had one less tree after the gunfire ceased.
      "The thing about Jeremy's shooting is that you're perfectly safe as long as you stand directly in front of the target."
    • Where do we even begin with their automotive art show? While creating art pieces for the show, Jeremy got hit in the groin with a paintball, Richard accidentally ruined his painting by knocking it into a pond, and James badly damaged his sculpture made from car parts. They later made another sculpture which involved cutting a car in half, only to find out the car was a rental. Jeremy then ruined another of their art pieces (a painted BMW) by driving to the show and getting into an accident. Richard went on the radio to promote the show, only to never bring it up. James recorded a tape for a walking tour, but his infamous poor sense of direction makes it completely unusable. On the other hand, one of the art pieces was a sketch done by a man completely from memory of an image he saw years before.
    • Is it possible to combine Epic Fail with Springtime for Hitler? If so, Jeremy did during the One Tank Challenge (where the hosts had to drive from Switzerland to Blackpool on one tank of gas). Jeremy regarded the challenge as stupid and deliberately set out to fail. He bought a car that was a notorious gas guzzler and drove as wastefully as he could with the intention of running out of gas near his house. When the challenge was over, not only did he actually reach Blackpool, but a subsequent analysis of his car discovered he still had enough gas for another hundred miles.
    • In the American version, we have Haley Joel Osment's attempt at a power lap. First, he stalls the car at the start. After he gets it restarted, he's unable to get it out of first gear and does most of the lap that way. Finally, he blows out the clutch on the last turn and the hosts have to push him across the finish line. And they still decide to log his time. It's almost five minutes and one host comments that the previous three guests' laps add up to his time.
  • In one episode of Up Pompeii, one of the actors, whilst proceeding off stage, managed to walk into some equipment, leading to a loud crash and some swearing. This was turned into an epic win by the main character, a slave called Lurcio (played by Frankie Howerd), who immediately said, "Blimey, worked in this house thirty years, and I never knew that way down to the cellar."
  • The West Wing:
    • Josh's hilariously craptastic attempt to brief the press when CJ has a root canal that renders her incomprehensible somehow ends with Josh telling the press to shut up and stop asking him questions, because the President has a Secret Plan to Fight Inflation. Bartlet, Toby, and especially CJ's reactions are priceless:
      Bartlet: Are you telling me that not only did you invent a secret plan to fight inflation, but now you don't support it?
      Toby: Have you fallen on your head? Have you fallen down and hit your head on something hard?
      CJ: What the heww happened in thewe? You compwetewy impwoded! You wewe vague, you wewe howstiwe, you wewe bewwigewent!
    • Also, in the pilot, Sam tries to bluff his way through telling a group of fourth grade students about the history of the White House. It doesn't work:
      Mallory: I'm sorry to be rude, but are you a moron?
      Sam: In this particular area, yes.
      Mallory: The 18th President was Ulysses S. Grant, and the Roosevelt Room was named for Theodore.
      Sam: Really?
      Mallory: There’s like a six-foot painting on the wall of Teddy Roosevelt.
      Sam: I should've put two and two together.
    • The Cold Open to season two's "The Leadership Breakfast". The office heating is broken so Josh and Sam decide to light a fire. It's only after they get it going and smoke starts pouring out of the fireplace that Sam notices a plaque saying the flue has been welded shut for decades. Before they can put it out the fire alarm goes off and Secret Service procedure requires that the President be woken up if that happens.
      President Bartlet: (having just got out of bed) What?!
      Charlie: Mr. President, you know how you told me not to wake you up unless the building was on fire?
  • Wide World of Sports has had its share of these over its run, of course. The iconic scene (for "the agony of defeat") was achieved on the Heini-Klopfer Hill in Oberstdorf, West Germany on March 7, 1970. Ski jumper Vinko Bogataj was on his third attempt when, midway through, the snow had gotten sufficiently heavy that he'd lost his balance in the attempt to stop his jump. Cue the rapid Looney Tunes-like slip and crash.
  • On Will & Grace, Jack takes part in a gay-themed spelling bee. None of the contestants are able to spell "maitre'd" including a contestant who is a maitre'd.
  • The second season of Wipeout had a contestant declare her love for one of the hosts, then run the qualifier. She slipped on the first corner, fell, and yelled "I'm done!"
  • In the first season of The Wire, one episode opens with Herc trying to move a desk into an office of the special detail. With him halfway through trying to wrestle the heavy desk through a narrow doorway, his partner Carver comes in and offers to help. Carver, not having seen that Herc is trying to move the desk into the office, goes around the other side, in the office, and begins pushing on it from there while Herc pushes on it from his side. Eventually more and more of the detail's detectives come in and attempt to help, always balancing out the amount of people on each side so that no matter how hard they strain and try, the desk isn't moving at all. All the while Detective Freeman just watches the struggle, barely able to keep his reaction to a wry smile. Eventually, the various detectives and their boss, Lieutenant Daniels, give up in frustration, convinced the desk has become wedged or caught on something, until the shoe finally drops. Enjoy watching it for yourself.
    Carver: Man, my ass is kicked.
    Herc: I could move it a bit when I was alone, it must have got wedged in the door somehow. ... Well, at this rate we're never gonna get it in. *Looks around, sees all the others doing facial expressions equivalent to a Face Palm or staring at him with barely restrained anger and frustration* What?
    McNulty: ... in?
    Carver: Unbelievable. Unbefuckinglievable.
  • In Wizards of Waverly Place some of Alex's screw-ups are actually pretty impressive, such as using the Wizard instant-mailing key to make the entire living room disappear.
  • Wonder Woman: In "Fausta, the Nazi Wonder Woman", Fausta Grables and Colonel Kesselman have captured Wonder Woman, taken her powers, kidnapped her to Germany, and have her strapped to a table for interrogation. They know about her magic lasso and even force her to answer questions under its power. Despite this - and perhaps pushed by the fantastical answers Wonder Woman truthfully gives - he wants to torture information out of her rather than use the magic lasso. Fausta insists on using the lasso. This so enrages Kesselman that he grabs the belt and lasso from Grables and throws it away...right into Wonder Woman's hand.
    Colonel Kesselman: And you with your supposed magic tricks! The golden lasso! The magic belt! Nonsense! [throws them both away]
    Wonder Woman: [catches the belt and lasso, then proceeds to snap the bonds of the interrogation table, wipe the floor with everyone in the room, rip the phone out of the wall, beat the stuffing out of a few more soldiers, steal a plane, and leave Germany]
  • In Yes, Minister, an off-screen politician is Kicked Upstairs because he fell asleep in Parliament while talking.


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