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From Bad To Worse / Film

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  • At the beginning of 99 River Street, Ernie is having merely a generic crummy day due to his wife's berating and his longing for his boxing days. Then he sees Pauline kissing Victor. Then Linda and the theater guys play their prank on him. Then he punches the theater guys out of anger, incurring assault charges. Then he finds Pauline's body dumped in the back of his cab.
  • Alatriste (the movie, not the books) is two hours of "The lead character has really hit bottom now. Wait, there's more?"
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  • Aliens involves things steadily getting worse. But a particular standout is when having already had most of the squad killed and their dropship destroyed, Bishop discovers that the entire facility is about to suffer a nuclear explosion. And then the Corrupt Corporate Executive decides to stab them in the backs. And then the power goes off...
  • The German movie Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel). It starts off with the main character (a respected professor) falling for nightclub singer Marlene Dietrich. He gets fired from his job because he spends the night with his new girlfriend and comes in late for work and joins her group who travel from place to place performing, where he quickly ends up spending what little money he has saved up. They can't make enough money so he's pressured into becoming a clown; part of his act involving him having eggs pulled from his ear and then crowing like a rooster. Eventually, the group decides that they should go back to his home town and make him perform there. He does, to an audience of his old colleagues and students who came specifically to laugh at him. His wife, who he did all this for, cheats on him during his act and he attacks her, while repeatedly crowing like a rooster. After he fails to kill her, he goes to his old desk at the school where it is implied he kills himself. It doesn't sound so bad written out but watching it is just painful and horribly depressing.
  • Brazil:
    • Mrs. Terrain's declining health — "there's been a little complication with my complication".
    • The movie itself. Any time things improve is a Hope Spot whose sole purpose is to make the protagonist fall from that much higher.
  • The Butterfly Effect takes this trope and runs away with it. The main character is responsible for the worsening situation, by his attempts to make things better. The message of the film, more or less, is "Make your peace with 'imperfect,' because trying to make everything perfect will screw it up unbelievably." There's an alternate ending that seems to suggest a message of "The mere presence of certain people just messes everything up."
  • The Cat in the Hat has this: first, the the beetle that is the key to the box gets attached to a dog, which runs away, then, the attempts to ensure the crate stays closed fail, leading to the house being transformed into an Eldritch Location. And then when the house is transformed back, the strain wrecks the actual house...
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  • Roman Polanski's Chinatown. When we say that Jake Gittes, the protagonist of the movie, does not know what he is dealing with, we mean every word.
  • The short film The Dance Of Jim Beam lives off this trope. The main character's day starts off bad and gets worse- by the end of it, he's lost several fingers, a substantial amount of money and his wife.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • "From Bad to Worse" is a fairly good summary of the second half of The Dark Knight. The Joker and all the gangsters are in custody, the city is safe, Gordon is alive and the new commissioner...then it's revealed that The Joker's gang took Harvey and Rachel and strapped them to bombs. Batman goes after Rachel and the police after Harvey, but Joker switched the addresses, so Batman saves Harvey, with serious injuries, while the police are too late for Rachel. Meanwhile, one of the Joker's men has been fitted with a bomb that destroys the police station, allowing everyone else, including the Joker, to escape. Then Batman's Secret Identity is compromised until the Joker puts out a general hit on the blackmailer with the consideration of blowing up Gotham General...which he does, right after giving Harvey a Breaking Speech that turns him into the Ax-Crazy villain we know and love and sends him on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Then he threatens the whole city, with an implied threat to destroy the bridges and tunnels out - naturally, him being the Joker, this is just a ruse to get everyone on the ferries for a "social experiment." Only then does the film present a glimmer of hope.
    • The Dark Knight Rises also fits From Bad To Worse; Bane breaks Batman's back, takes over Gotham, turns it into an anarchist/communist shithole, La Résistance are captured and sentenced, and all along Bane wants to blow the city sky high. It finishes on an Earn Your Happy Ending.
  • Deepwater Horizon: First the negative pressure test has a pressure reading into the red, then the same test on the bleed pipe leads to a blockage in that pipe that gives a 0 psi reading in the control shack, but leads to a pressure buildup in the pipe that then comes gushing up in a fountain that reaches to the top of the derrick. This causes fumes to get into the air intakes, leading to the engines to overclock to the point that they jam, and then explode, catching all that free oil on fire.
  • The Descent. A group goes caving, there's a cave in, it turns out that the group leader lied and took them to an unknown cave without telling anybody where they were going, one of them breaks her leg... Oh, and there are cave beasties trying to eat them, the main character is losing her mind, and they still haven't found another way out.
  • The whole plot of District 9 is a series of things going From Bad to Worse on both overall and individual scales:
    • A horde of aliens strands to Earth after their superiors die of an epidemic. They have no way to return home and are starving. Then humans relocate them to the surface and establish contact of a sort but then quickly get disillusioned about them and leave them to the mercy of a greedy and unscrupulous corporation. Ensures 20 years of neglect and oppression, 20 years of living in unbelievable slums, starving and dealing with cannibalistic criminals and cruel mercenaries. And then aliens are finally moved...into a regular concentration camp.
    • The pen-pusher desk-jockey pin-stripper Hero Wikus "Spineless" Van Der Merwe resided more or less happily in his cubicle in the bowels of the Omnicidal United MNU, when he is yanked out of there and entrusted with evicting a horde of extra-strong irascible aliens from their slums into the said concentration camp and is accompanied by a Colonel Badass who despises him and treats him like crap. Then he accidentally gets sprayed with an alien substance which slowly, seemingly painfully and oh so gruesomely mutates him into an alien. Then the Corrupt Corporate Executive decides to dissect him alive so they could study the mutation process and gain access to the alien DNA-based weaponry. Then he escapes but has nowhere to go since MNU spread lies about him being a terrorist and having sex with aliens and his wife denounced him. So he rushes to find the alien who created the substance, finds him, together they obtain the substance needed for the cure. Then Wikus learns that the alien was forced to change plans and will only be able to cure him in three years. then panic-stricken Wikus knocks the alien down, hijacks his shuttle and makes a desperate rush to the mothership but gets shot down and is forced to fight a whole platoon of mercenaries while wearing alien power armor.Ok, the rest perhaps classifies as "It got worse but hell more awesome" but still worse.
  • The events of Dr. Strangelove. The human reliability tests failed to catch the paranoid General Ripper, who launches a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. If that wasn't bad enough, it's later revealed that the Soviets installed the Doomsday Machine, which is set to go off and sterilize the entire Earth if Ripper's attack succeeds on Soviet soil. To makes things worse, the machine is also set to go off if anybody tries to disable it. They eventually succeed in either recalling the planes or shooting them down, but the plane piloted by the Leper Colony crew is still airborne and has no way of receiving the signal after a missile has damaged their radio, and they're now traveling below Soviet radar. In a last-ditch effort, President Muffley gives them the location of the Leper Colony's primary and secondary targets and tells the Soviet Premier to focus all of his air force on those two areas. Unfortunately, the fuel tank was also damaged in the missile attack, leaving the Leper Colony unable to reach their two targets and opts them to drop a nuke on an entirely different target, causing the Doomsday Machine to activate and cause the end of the world. In short, anything that could go wrong in the prevention of the end of the world does.
  • Erin Brockovich begins with Erin being turned down at a job interview. Disappointed, she walks back to her car to find a parking ticket. She accidentally drops her sunglasses and breaks a nail trying to pick them up. Then she drives off, and a Jaguar crashes into her car at high speed. She loses the personal injury lawsuit but does turn her life around after that.
  • If you've never seen Falling Down, watch it. This movie is quite possibly the best example of this trope. It paints the picture of just how much one man can take before he has a complete mental breakdown and crosses the Moral Event Horizon. The main character even lampshades this when he calls his wife after killing the surplus store owner.
    Bill Foster: I've passed the point of no return. Do you know what that is, Beth? That's the point in a journey where it's longer to go back to the beginning. It's like when those astronauts got in trouble. I don't know, somebody messed up, and they had to get them back to Earth. But they had passed the point of no return. They were on the other side of the moon and were out of contact for like hours. Everybody waited to see if a bunch of dead guys in a can would pop out the other side. Well, that's me. I'm on the other side of the moon now and everybody is going to have to wait until I pop out.
  • Frostbite - as the third act begins the heroes not only have to deal with a crazy Nazi-vampire haunting the polar night, they have to deal with the uncontrollable horde of teen vampires emerging.
  • Gojira. Boats mysteriously sinking? That's bad. Explosions causing it? Worse. People dying of radiation sickness? Much worse. A radioactive dinosaur bent on wiping out all of humanity and destroying Tokyo in the process? Oh, Crap!.
    • One of the sequels, GMK, has this as well. Godzilla has returned and is driven by the souls of those who died in WWII and want revenge on Japan. Not too bad so far. And then Godzilla brutally kills the three gods (Baragon, Mothra, and Ghidorah) that were awakened to kill him. Oh, wait...One of the human protagonists just blew Godzilla up. YAY! Godzilla has been defe-What do you mean Godzilla's dismembered heart is still beating at the bottom of the ocean!?
    • Godzilla VS King Ghidorah. Ok, a bunch of people from the future want to go back in time and erase Godzilla from existing? Doesn't seem too bad so fa-Wait, what do you mean they just left behind three cute creatures that will mutate into a three-headed dragon? That doesn't seem so ba-Wait, what do you mean said three-headed dragon is under their control and they're using it to destroy Tokyo and prevent it from becoming a superpower. Well, it can't get any worse, right? What do you mean Godzilla's back and he's bigger and more powerful than ever before!?!
    • Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. First Godzilla Junior seemingly vanishes, then it's revealed that Godzilla is dying of "Nuclear Overload" and will essentially go into a meltdown, and it's revealed that the Oxygen Destroyer (the very device which killed the original Godzilla) has spawned something much eviler than Godzilla.
      • At least there's a Hope Spot where Junior and Godzilla reunited and- Oh, wait, Destoroyah just brutally killed Junior and is now tormenting the mourning Godzilla. Oh, and Godzilla's grief has caused him to go into a meltdown.
  • Gravity is essentially an astronaut getting into progressively worse situations. Space debris destroys her ship, her oxygen is running low, her companion sacrifices himself, a fire starts on the space station she enters, the escape pod is out of fuel, the other space station is already in freefall, the reentry capsule gets damaged and when it lands on sea starts to flood...
  • At the end of The Guardian, Jake is attempting to rescue the crew of a small ship and only has the captain left, who's pinned by machinery in the hold. He manages to get him loose, but soon after high waves roll the ship, killing the captain and trapping Jake in the hold which begins filling with water.
  • House of 1000 Corpses is just one "bad to worse" moment after the other. To sum it up: The good guys do not win.
  • Hunger - as the film is about prisoners dying on hunger strike, this is essentially the entire plot. When a film starts out with characters smearing their own feces on the walls and being beaten by prison officers whilst naked and goes downhill from there, you know things are pretty grim.
  • The 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a very big "It's getting better! A happy ending in sight!— Hah! Fooled you!" It got way, way worse...
  • Jurassic Park is built on this trope, with a dose of Gone Horribly Right. The tour goes downhill rapidly when Dennis Nedry sabotages the containment systems, allowing dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus rex to escape and start killing people. Nedry himself, the only one who knows exactly how to fix everything, gets eaten by one of the dinos he released. And then the raptors escape...
  • Kick-Ass does this at a few different points. Most notably when the mobsters first kidnap Kick-Ass and Big Daddy... then pummel them half to death... then make preparations for burning the two of them alive on a live camera feed.
  • The Life of OharuJesus Christ. Your boyfriend is executed? That's bad. Exiled from the imperial household? Bad. Sold as a glorified Sex Slave to a lord? Bad. Left to work as a high-class hooker after being separated from your son? Bad. Get married, only for your husband to be murdered? Pretty bad. Left to work as a low-class hooker? Pretty darn bad. Left as a homeless beggar when you're too old and unattractive for hooking? Wow, that is super bad.
  • Little Shop of Horrors The original ending: As Audrey enters the shop near the end, she gets attacked by Audrey II. Seymour, however, arrives just in time pulls her out. Cue Sad Reprise as she dies in his arms and he has to feed her to the plant anyway. Then he goes berserk and attacks Audrey II and ends up getting himself killed and eaten also. Then a canny businessman comes in and takes clippings of the plant and plans to sell them every home in every town, causing the alien plants to take over the world!
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:
    • The Fellowship is at one point bracing themselves for an attack by a large horde of orcs. Boromir peers out the door and (after narrowly dodging two arrows) utters the line "They have a cave troll."
    • And after fighting off said orcs + troll, another example occurs shortly after that. Hearing more orcs on the way, the Fellowship flees, but eventually they end up completely surrounded by another, much larger horde. The two sides square off against one another, and just as it looks like they're about to fight...a loud roar is heard in the distance and the entire horde of orcs flees in terror. From a Balrog.
  • LoveHKFilm uses the phrase "IT ALL GOES TO HELL" to describe things in an HK movie taking a sudden and dramatic turn for the worse.
  • Martyrs, another one that starts out pretty unpleasant already, but just keeps topping itself.
  • A filmography example. Lars von Trier has described his film Melancholia as the first of his films to have a sad ending. Previous Lars films had such happy endings as — A town being slaughtered after systematically torturing a woman and A man killing his wife after she is driven crazy by grief, among others. Reassuring.
  • The Mist. The final ten or so minutes. David Drayton survives the horrors of a past few days, escapes with his son and three other people, sees his wife killed by spiders from hell, only to get stuck in the mist in the middle of nowhere, without fuel and with a gun. Then they all decide to kill themselves, so David kills them all, including his 10-year-old son, only to discover that the gun only had four bullets, leaving only him still alive. He THEN discovers 1.5 minutes later that the mist is beginning to clear and the army is successfully battling the creatures from the mist. Three things make this scene particularly depressing — the army caravan was headed in the same direction they were so they had been driving away from help the entire time, he sees the woman with kids whom he refused to help in the beginning of the movie and the Dead Can Dance song "The Host of Seraphim" is playing during the whole scene.
  • Any time the Mystery Team follows a lead.
  • No Country for Old Men: It's bad enough that Llewelyn Moss, the protagonist of the story, gets caught in the motel and is shot to death. And then that rotten scum Chigurh hunts down the protagonist's widow and kills her too. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, Chigurh, after killing Mrs. Moss, successfully evades the area with the cash in hand and disappears, but not before breaking his arm in a car wreck. Last, but sheriff vaguely reminisces on his attempt to bring the villain to justice and admits defeat.
  • Stanley Kubrick film Paths of Glory. When soldiers in WWI refuse to continue with an impossible attack, their superiors decide to make an example of them. The commanding general orders an artillery strike upon his own men. It gets even worse: when the men fail from achieving their goal, the General orders three men to be picked to be summarily executed by firing squad. Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) attempts to save his own men. It gets even worse: the men are shot, even though Dax successfully defends them in the justice. Instead, the general is sacked. The worst of all: the film is based on real-life events.
  • In the film Precious, the titular character grows up poor, abused, and raped by her father which results in two children, one of which suffers from down syndrome. After the father dies of AIDS everyone involved finds out they too are infected. Then Precious finds out her mother hates her because she believes Precious stole 'her man'. Roll credits. Suffice to say it starts out bad, got worse... then worser.
    • It's more of a Bittersweet Ending if anything. While Precious escaped the hell her parents put her through and her education kept improving, getting infected with HIV puts a damper on her victory. And yet, even HIV hasn't kept her spirits down entirely. In some sense, things get better for her.
  • The Purge: Everything started out normally for the Sandins. Then a stranger on the run ends up in their home. Finally, the psychopathic gang chasing after the stranger decides to invade their home...
  • The Re-Animator franchise is made of this trope. Just when you think it can't possibly get any worse, it does, and then keeps going off into the sunset. It doesn't help that Dr. West has the unfortunate habit of reanimating people who are either crazier than him, hold a severe grudge against him, or both.
  • Requiem for a Dream is 90 minutes of "bad to worse" put through a pain distillery until it's pure enough to make BSG step back and say "...whoa."
  • Darryl Revok's backstory.
  • Schindler's List is a steady descent to hell for the Jews in Poland, even when some of them say that things cannot get any worse, they do.
    • Given the story's setting and subject matter, this isn't surprising at all — the Holocaust, in general, was a long series of things getting very, very worse for the Jews during World War II, along with everyone else that the Nazi regime considered undesirable or inferior.
  • The Australian Made-for-TV Movie Scorched can be described as "and then things got worse".
  • A Serious Man has a snowballing string of problems mounting on Larry Gopnik, the main character. Lawyers for divorce, lawyers for property claims, lawyers for his brother in law, a colleague who's cheating on his wife, blackmail. Just as Larry starts to see a little bit of light, after accepting a bribe for much-needed money. The doctor calls with news about x-rays. And his son might be about to get sucked up by a tornado. It's unclear what is going to happen in the minutes after the movie ends, which is probably the point.
  • The Shawshank Redemption's plot is full of this. First, Andy Dufresne is wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife. He gets gang-raped by a group of perverts. He tries to fight back at first but is outnumbered and overpowered. After he finds a way out of that torture, it gets worse when a new inmate reveals information that could prove his innocence. The warden has the young inmate killed off to keep his silence and to keep Andy under his control. Then he forces Andy to do two straight months in solitary confinement to break his spirit. Fortunately, Andy wins in the end.
  • In The Simpsons Movie, when Homer gets into the dome over Springfield and unwittingly thwarts everyone's attempts to escape before the city is destroyed by a bomb, he laments that he can't do anything right. He kicks the bomb over, causing the countdown to be halved from 8:23 to 4:11.
  • Sleeping Dogs starts as the Prime Minister of New Zealand is coming home from the Middle East, having been unable to restore oil supplies. The waterfront workers go on strike as shipping stalls, then it grows into a general strike. Soldiers sent in to take over at the waterfront clash with pro-union protesters. A member of the government has thugs fire on the soldiers, giving them an excuse to institute a police state. Then it erupts into open civil war...
  • Star Trek: Nemesis has the Enterprise under attack by a battleship commanded by the new Praetor of the Romulan Empire, one which is more heavily armed and shielded and can fire while cloaked. As it becomes clear how much the Enterprise is outmatched, two more Romulan warbirds decloak. After Riker points out how much worse things are now, the commander of one of the warbirds hails the Enterprise...and offers Picard her assistance.
  • Star Wars:
    • A New Hope: Bad enough that the heroes find themselves trapped in the detention area with stormtroopers crowding through the only exit and have to resort to throwing themselves into the garbage compactor, but then a horrible sewer monster starts swimming around them.
    Leia: Well it could be worse.
    *unsettling noise*
    Han: It's worse.
    • Return of the Jedi: The rebels have launched their attack on the half-finished and defenseless Death Star...except the Deflector Shields are still up. Not only that, but the Imperial Navy is lying in wait, pinning down the rebel fleet and keeping them from a Hyperspeed Escape. How can this get worse?
    Palpatine: Now witness the firepower of this fully-armed and operational battle station! Fire at will, Commander!
    (The Death Star fires, and a rebel ship goes boom.)
    Lando: That blast came from the Death Star! That thing's operational!
  • Ice-T's character goes through this in Surviving the Game. It's bad enough he lost his family and became homeless from his depression. But then he gets tricked into becoming human game for a bunch of wealthy murderers.
  • This is the last third of Thirteen Days. After a Hope Spot in which it seems Nikita Khrushchev is extending an olive branch, another message arrives before morning with a much more hard-line tone and sends the situation spiraling down again. Then one of their U-2s is shot down over Cuba, and then they find the nuclear missiles stationed there have become operational and the only option left to them is to invade Cuba.
  • Trading Places does this to Winthorpe. After being used to a luxurious lifestyle his whole life, he is framed for embezzlement and loses all of his money and friends. Later, after committing several crimes at a banquet, he is out on the street wearing a filthy Santa costume. Then a dog whizzes on him. Then the sky whizzes on him (i.e. it starts raining). He tries to commit suicide, but his gun jams... then fires accidentally when he throws it away, breaking a window and scaring (just scaring, hopefully) a poor cat.
    • The kicker really comes when he learns that his bosses put him through the ordeal for a bet! The money they bet with? One dollar!
  • The Wind That Shakes The Barley: Set in Ireland, 1920. The British are committing atrocities against the Irish. The Resistance is fighting back. Yeah...

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