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See also And You Thought It Would Fail.

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    Aeronautics 
  • Lord Kelvin believed heavier-than-air flight was impossible and X-rays were probably a hoax. (He changed his mind about the second one after he saw the evidence.) In addition, Kelvin insisted that radio had no future in 1897 (he preferred to send messages by pony) and that it would take human beings two hundred years to land on the moon. Horrible Histories put it best in a section summarising this kind of phenomenon, noting in the section about the predicted short lifespan of talking pictures that "Lord Kelvin was dead by then, so he was not able to tell us that talking films were impossible anyway."

    Kelvin's refusal to accept new ideas is shown in the 2004 movie adaptation of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days, where he outright claims that science has reached its peak in his time, and any new discoveries are hoaxes. This is one of Lord Kelvin's actual claims, at least with regards to physics.
  • When Robert Goddard pitched the idea that rockets could be used to fly through space, the editor of The New York Times (note: not a rocket scientist) thought the whole concept was patently ridiculous. After all, there's no air in space, so what's the rocket engine supposed to push against? The New York Times later published a correction... in July of 1969.
  • While developing the first turbojet, Frank Whittle was told by the professor of Aeronautical Engineering at Cambridge:
    "Very interesting, Whittle my boy, but it will never work."
  • In 1938, aeronautics pioneer Theodor von Karman recommended against investment into turbojet technology when he was serving on an advisory board for the US Navy. To be fair, he merely thought the technology was not ready for practical use just yet, not "impossible." Within a year, a prototype jet airplane was flying in Germany.
  • "Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant, if not utterly impossible" – Simon Newcomb, 1902.
  • "Aero planes are interesting toys but of no military value" – French Marshal Ferdinand Foch, who would later have an aircraft carrier named after him.
    • This was debunked incredibly fast: later that year, the Italians started using airplanes for a scouting military mission (October 22) and, in what at the time had been pre-emptively declared as a war crime (but only from balloons), bombing (on November 1, an Italian pilot on a scouting mission embarked four bombs and dropped them on the enemy).
  • Averted by Wilbur Wright, who remarked in 1906, "I do not believe it [the airplane] will supplant surface transportation. I believe it will always be limited to special purposes. It will be a factor in war. It may have a future as a carrier of mail." While it seems dismissive of his invention, he was, in a sense, correct — while airplanes are very useful, due to the high cost of air travel they have not supplanted surface transportation outside of a few relatively narrow (if important) areas like long-distance passenger transportation (in which case they actually have supplanted surface transportation such as virtually all ocean liners it seemed they might do the same to trains, but then High Speed Rail came around) and mail/package delivery where it is cost-competitive. Shorter-distance transportation and long-distance heavy freight remain largely the province of surface vehicles (in particular, air travel never supplanted ships or rail for freight transportation over long distances, especially with the rise of the intermodal container).
    • On the other hand, the Wright Brothers' father, a preacher, once declared in a sermon that man would never fly, even using the old saying, "If man were meant to fly, God would have given him wings."
  • After the first flight of their new Boeing 247 in 1933, one engineer of Boeing said that there would never be a bigger plane built. The Boeing 247 is a twin-engined prop plane with room for only ten passengers. For added irony, even at the time there were already bigger planes, like the Soviet TB-3 heavy bomber.
  • When the newly-formed European consortium Airbus released a mid-range widebody airliner, the A300, the CEO of Boeing when asked about it, didn't even know what it was and then when it was described to him, snorted that "sounds like a typical government airliner. They'll build a couple dozen then go out of business." A few years later, Eastern Airlines placed an order for 23 of them. Then Pan Am. Then Japan Air. Then Indonesia. All traditional customers of Boeing at Seattle. By the time Boeing rushed the 757 into production in 1981 to try and compete, Airbus had orders for 300 planes and an option for 200 more. Fast forward to today, and Airbus is the second largest aircraft manufacturer and Boeing's bitterest commercial rival—and, for what it's worth, not in any substantial way owned by any government (about 25-30% is owned by European government-owned investment companies, but the vast majority of voting shares are held by private investors, and the government investment companies are not entirely under the thumb of their respective political leaderships). However both companies have rather good connections into the political sphere and get big government contracts regularly, to say the least.
  • When General Ernst Udet, one of the bigwigs of the new German Luftwaffe, saw the prototype BF 109 produced by Willy Messerschmitt, he contemptuously said, "that thing will never make a fighter." Not only did Udet change his opinion within months, but the BF 109 was also the only fighter Germany had in mass-production until halfway through World War II.
  • General Billy Mitchell both faced this trope and engaged in it himself in the early 20th century.
    • On one hand, he was highly prophetic with regards to the military value of airplanes, proclaiming that they would ultimately make the surface fleets of the time, particularly the grand dreadnought battleships that formed the core of any navy worth its salt, obsolete. He felt that America's air power should be organized into a separate Air Force, and faced bitter resistance from the military establishment, who believed that he was overstating the value of military aviation and that airplanes should be under the control of the Army and Navy.
    • On the other hand, he ridiculed spending money on aircraft carriers in the '20s and thought that the money should instead go to building land-based bombers. During World War II, the aircraft that best matched Mitchell's specifications, the B-17 Flying Fortress, was excellent at combating land-based targets but had a notoriously poor record when attacking ships (except for submarines). Carrier aviation was almost singlehandedly responsible for America's victory over the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Pacific, and contrary to Mitchell's predictions, they kept surface fleets very relevant indeed through the 20th century and into the 21st. Mitchell was correct in predicting that battleships would be rendered obsolete... but completely whiffed on the idea that a new type of ship would replace them.
    • Funnily enough, the bomber named after him – the B-25 Mitchell – was a medium, land-based bomber that disproved his theory: it proved to be a very capable anti-shipping/submarine aircraft, though it was ineffective against the capital ships Mitchell predicted such aircraft would be successful against.
  • Nearly no one in the early-mid '50s thought artificial satellites would be a big deal. While both the Soviet Union and the United States were focusing on making satellites for recon purposes, they thought that the technology wouldn't generate any interest outside of military applications. Even then, most military commanders thought that the funds used to develop orbital rockets would be better used to make more efficient ICBMs. The Vostok program in particular, whose goal was to put a man into orbit, was viewed as a pet project that no one would care about even if it was somehow successful. Indeed, Sputnik 1 was launched when it was simply to quiet concerns about the viability of machines to function in space, and throughout the world, its success was announced rather casually. As it turned out, October 4, 1957 ended up becoming one the biggest wham episodes in human history, and saw the entire world reacting with an immediate shock and awe that no other single scientific achievement had ever been able to produce, not even the atomic bomb or the ICBM. Even after this, both the USSR and the USA thought that military endeavors were the future of space out of the logical belief that "lightning couldn't strike twice", but after Yuri Gagarin and Vostok 1 generated just as much hype, suddenly both sides found themselves in a mad scramble to develop space that quickly overshadowed not only Recon satellites or ICBM production, but pretty much every single aspect of the Cold War. Today, most satellites are commercial or scientific in nature, and the military use of space never really moved past recon satellites (albeit partly due to treaties against the militarization of space).
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    Anime and Manga 
  • In 2010, Bang Zoom! Entertainment's CEO, Eric P. Sherman, made a very controversial statement stating that the studio will most likely will stop producing dubs for anime if the industry doesn't improve (as well as addressing the issue of piracy and fansubs), thus fans thought this will be the end of dubbing as we know it. 8 years later, Bang Zoom continues to dub anime for Aniplex USA, Viz Media, and even NIS America with the reissuing of Toradora! with an English dub. Although nowadays, Bang Zoom avoids All Star Casts, with few rare union dubs exceptions.
  • Steven Spielberg and George Lucas called AKIRA "unmarketable" in the United States. The manga and its film adaptation are now widely considered to be the greatest of all time by many, and even highly influential in Western media.
  • Before the anime of Konosuba aired, the editor of Sneaker Bunko that was in charge of publishing the original light novels told Natsume Akatsuki to make sure he was gonna have fond memories about it since there wasn't going to be a second season. Said editor fell victim to this trope again when said show did indeed get a 2nd season, in which he outright stated that this would be the last animation of the franchise. The editor himself tweeted about it.

    Architecture 
  • In general, a lot of buildings modern critics, tourists, and journalists hail as beautiful and impressive were panned at the time of their construction.
  • Gustave Eiffel designed his famous tower for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair but was turned down by the people in charge on the basis that it was ugly and expensive and didn't fit with the rest of the city. He submitted then the idea to those responsible for the '89 Paris World Fair and was accepted... with the condition that it would be dismantled after the fair was over. During the construction, the project was heavily criticized by the French press, and the famous writers Guy de Maupassant and Alexandre Dumas, fils, together with composer Charles Gounod, wrote a public protest letter where they described the tower as "useless and monstrous", "shame of Paris" and "an unfunny skeleton". Novelist Joris-Karl Huysmans said that it was "a suppository full of holes". To top it, the fair was a public failure... but it turns out that a giant iron tower in the middle of Paris makes an excellent broadcast antenna, so it was never destroyed. This is why it gives you a free Broadcast Tower in every city when you build it in Civilization IV.
    • One protest letter sent to Charles Alphand, the Minister of Works and Commissioner for the Exposition, wasn't very subtle:
    Excerpt: We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection… of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower… To bring our arguments home, imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all of our humiliated monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream. And for twenty years… we shall see stretching like a blot of ink the hateful shadow of the hateful column of bolted sheet metal.
    • Eiffel made a pretty penny, too: The fair's organizers let him have the revenue from visitors riding the elevators, figuring no one would want to climb the ugly thing.
    • Guy de Maupassant was known to eat in the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower daily, and when asked why he replied that it was the only place in Paris where he could eat without having to look at the edifice. note  It was also a pretty decent restaurant, but that goes without saying for anywhere de Maupassant would eat.
  • When Chicago hosted the next World Fair in 1893, Eiffel's tower was already an iconic masterpiece. To "out-Eiffel Eiffel" became the rallying cry of the fair's designers, feeling that unless they put up something equally iconic and new, Chicago's fair would never get out from under Paris' shadow. Architects and engineers proposed a multitude of towers, but the designers felt (rightly) that there was no way to make a more beautiful tower, and they shouldn't compete directly with Eiffel. The proposals became steadily more ridiculous (a giant log cabin, a zip line running to New York City). One young engineer had an idea, but everyone who looked at it called it flimsy, impossible to build, and so terrifying that no one would get on it. But he came back with detailed proofs that it would work, and time was running out, and nobody had come up with anything better... and so George Ferris got to build his big wheel.
  • The expensive and extensive Haussmann renovations of Paris were panned by all sorts of critics for a long time during and after the fact. Of course, some of what was being criticized was exactly what the renovations set out to do, such as making the city easier to control... France had had too many regime changes in recent memory, and Napoleon III was doing his darnedest not to butterfinger it yet again (N.B.: he did anyway, but in the urban planning dimension of the problem, it turns out he had the right idea). Today, its results define much of what tourists admire Paris for, such as the boulevards and parks.
    • To elaborate, the wide beautiful boulevards were designed to be hard to barricade and easy to move artillery on. It didn't work out; although they were in fact pretty easy to move artillery on (a bit too easy, as Germany demonstrated about a century after the renovations started), it turns out that irate Parisians can barricade anything.
  • Another famous example is the Berlin Cathedral opened in 1905, which was absolutely loathed during its lifetime.
  • The original World Trade Center was seen as a blight on the New York skyline when it went up in the late '60s and early '70s. Lewis Mumford referred to it as a pair of "glass-and-metal filing cabinets" built by people obsessed with "purposeless giantism and technological exhibitionism", and argued that its massive footprint had badly disrupted the cityscape, traffic flow, and waterfront of Lower Manhattan, an opinion shared by Jane Jacobs. This was to say nothing of the controversy over how its construction saw the demolition of most of the old Radio Row neighborhood to make room for it, or how it produced a glut of office space in a city that, in the '70s, was already facing serious problems filling the offices it already had. In the '70s, it was seen as a symbol of everything wrong with The Big Rotten Apple. Over time, however, its towering edifice grew on New Yorkers, to the point where, after the complex's destruction on 9/11, one of the most popular proposals to replace it was simply to rebuild the Twin Towers as they were before, to the point where history arguably repeated itself to an extent when people complained about the Freedom Tower that was built instead.
  • Guess what people thought about the Golden Gate Bridge during its planning and construction? Well, suffice it to say, there were about five thousand lawsuits against its construction.

    Comic Books 
  • "Come on, Stan, people hate spiders. They're creepy. And everybody knows that teenagers are sidekicks, not superheroes. This Spider-Man idea just won't sell." — Martin Goodman, founder of Marvel Comics (paraphrased by Stan Lee), 1962.
    • Speaking of Spider-Man, when Johnny Romita Sr. replaced Steve Ditko on penciling in 1966, he thought he'd only be working on the book for about six months because he thought superheroes had overstayed their welcome. He has been involved with Marvel Comics' Earth 616 in general, and Spidey in particular, on some level ever since.
  • In 1933, two teenage comic book artists tried to pitch a character they had created. It took them six years to find a publisher who would take it. Every publisher they went to told them the character looked ridiculous and would never catch on. That character? Superman.
  • Originally, publishers at Marvel didn't think Storm of the X-Men would be popular because she had white hair and they thought people would think she would look like an old woman. Guess who is one of the most recognizable female superheroes, as well as the most recognizable black superhero, in the industry?
  • During a 1993 stunt where Marvel introduced a new character in each of their annuals, Mark Gruenwald famously cited Squirrel Girl as an example of the type of character they were trying to avoid. Specifically, he argued that while Squirrel Girl was a fun and interesting character, she was likely never going to be used again. Pretty much all of the characters introduced in the annuals faded into Comic-Book Limbo (save for Genis-Vell, and even he ended up being killed off later), while Squirrel Girl has been appearing as a fan favorite for years. Her series, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, even made it on the New York Times best-seller list.
  • In the '80s, Tom Veitch, Cam Kennedy, and Archie Goodwin pitched a comic book sequel to Return of the Jedi called Dark Empire. Marvel was originally going to publish the series, but dropped it after those in charge came to the conclusion that nobody would still be interested in Star Wars after the original trilogy had already ended. Not only did Dark Empire prove to be a huge seller for Dark Horse Comics, but the Star Wars franchise as a whole is still extremely popular to this day.
  • When Roger Leloup left Hergé's studios to create Yoko Tsuno, Hergé said a female heroine going on science-fiction adventures isn't going to sell and offered him a place back if he needed a job. He never needed to. Yoko Tsuno became a hit and is still being sold to this day.

    Computers 
  • In general, its been historically easy to make this mistake given the limitations of early computers and the lack of other technologies to make certain items desirable. The computers of today represent millions of different innovations in hardware, software, content, and configuration.
  • Linux got this from its creator:
    • Today, Linux has been ported to more platforms than any other kernel, and Linux-based operating system dominates nearly every area besides embedded devices and desktop computers.
  • As mentioned in this Cracked article, Xerox is infamous for this in the computer industry. While they pioneered the personal computer long before Apple and IBM, their sales strategy was flawed and ultimately backfired. As a result, several of the technologies developed at their research facility PARC – the graphical user interface, the mouse, networking, e-mail, laser printing, object-oriented programming and other equally important pillars for today's computer industry – were dismissed and abandoned so other companies could build billion-dollar empires around those technologies. Why? Because the East Coast-based management of Xerox Corporation wasn't interested in anything that had no direct application to photocopying. You may bang your head against the wall now (they sure did).
  • Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, in 1977: "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home."note 
  • Media critic Neil Postman, writing from the mid-eighties to the early nineties, believed that there was a fundamental shift afoot in the dominant medium of the day from print to television. When a little thing called the internet came along, he dismissed it as a passing craze.
  • "Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic. Baloney." – Clifford Stoll in "Newsweek", 1995.note 
  • "I went to see Professor Douglas Hartree, who had built the first differential analyzers in England and had more experience in using these very specialized computers than anyone else. He told me that, in his opinion, all the calculations that would ever be needed in this country could be done on the three digital computers which were then being built — one in Cambridge, one in Teddington, and one in Manchester. No one else, he said, would ever need machines of their own, or would be able to afford to buy them." That conversation happened circa 1951 and was published in 1970.
  • Browsing the Web, according to Swedish communication minister Ines Uusmann during The '90s, who claimed that people would not have time to browse aimlessly. During her mandate, Sweden became world-leading in internet usage.
  • Bill Gates himself said in 1993, "The Internet? We are not interested in it." He would change his opinion slightly in his book The Road Ahead two years later, when he wrote, "Today's Internet is not the information highway I imagine, but you can think of it as the beginning of a highway."
  • Intel, the creator of the microprocessor, initially saw the only market for them controlling traffic lights. Even well into The '80s, with the success of the IBM Personal Computer, powered by its chips, Intel still thought it was a passing fad. To be fair, Intel primarily made memory chips back then.
    • When Apple was drawing up the initial plans for the iPhone, they first went to Intel to ask if they wanted to develop the processor for it. Intel passed, so Apple went with ARM instead, setting a massive trend for the mobile market in the process and contributing to ARM overtaking Intel's x86 as the most used CPU instruction set in the world.
  • The New York Times had Erik Sandberg-Diment, dismiss "windowing" (opening more than one program at a time) in 1984 and laptops in 1985. Sandberg-Diment went on to found one of the earliest magazines dedicated to personal computers later on, when technology caught up with laptops and "windowing".
  • In 1976, Atari founder Nolan Bushnell was approached by one of his employees who asked him for $50,000 dollars in exchange for one-third of the company he was starting. Bushnell turned him down. That employee was Steve Jobs and said company was Apple Computer, which would eventually become the biggest technology company in the world.

    Other Electronics 
  • Once Sony unveiled the Walkman, many thought it would be a failure for being a tape deck that didn't record or have loudspeakers. Akio Morita made a bet that he would resign if the product failed. Not only did it sell well, but portable music players have also become a mainstay.
  • A review of the iPod at launch: "No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame." The Creative NOMAD was discontinued in 2004. Granted, by the time iDevices really took over the world they'd picked up wireless and way, way more space than a NOMAD, but even in the mid-'00s the iPod, with help from Apple iTunes, was quickly becoming the standard for MP3 players.
  • Likewise, a lot of people mocked the iPad for being "just a bigger iPod". It didn't help that Microsoft had attempted to kickstart the tablet computer trend in the early '00s, and fell flat on their face. The iPad was so successful that it single-handedly created an entire market of tablet computers.note 
    • A great experiment is to read this Gizmodo article from 2010. It correctly predicted that the naysayers would be wrong... and the comments section is filled with people mocking the writer and claiming that he didn't know what he was talking about and that the iPad was the second coming of Pogs, if anything. More recent comments, in turn, have a field day by pointing out who really didn't know what they were talking about.
  • The iPhone (and by extension, all modern smartphones) also got its share of this at launch. Naysayers argued that its touchscreen was imprecise compared to physical keypads (especially when it came to typing), the battery life wasn't long enough, and that a cellphone with access to the full-fat Internet would choke mobile networks (which admittedly it did for a while). Most of these problems were either ironed out as time went on or were non-issues to begin with for most people and now the iPhone-paradigm is practically the norm in the cellphone industry rather than the exception.
    • A more microcostic example of this was iOS's lack of support for Adobe Flash due to an Executive Veto from Apple. Critics argued that this undercut Apple's claim that the iPhone and iPad supported the "full Internet". They argued that Android would win the Smartphone War hands down simply due to its willingness to support Flash. In response, Steve Jobs published an open letter outlining the problems with Flash, especially when it came to mobile devices; namely that it was too inflexible (due to being entirely proprietary and controlled by Adobe, unlike most other web standards) and power hungry. Sure enough, Adobe ran into exactly the same problems that Jobs had mentioned when they tried to implement Flash on Android, and eventually gave up on Flash on mobile completely after just a few years, vindicating Apple and Jobs in the process.
  • Thomas Edison said the phonograph was "a mere toy, it has no commercial value." But he also admitted it was one of his personal favorite inventions.
  • During the HD-DVD vs Blu Ray war, the writers at Cracked said "HD-DVD format will win this format war handily. congratulations HD-DVD!"— but it was a comedic article, basing its choice on what format had the least stupid name.
  • "TV will never be a serious competitor for radio because people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn't time for it." from the New York Times, 1939. Perfectly logical, but completely wrong.
    • The television was deemed an "idiot's" machine when it was released by most people, and that it was a crap idea. People mocked it with one of the most quoted phrases being: "The television is a radio with pictures. Why even bother? In another 5 years, no one will even remember the television." Guess what became the most popular electronic just 20 years later?
  • The phone, of all things, was mocked by most people when the idea was presented back in the day. Theodore Roosevelt Sr. (father of the president), of all people, is noted as having thought Alexander Graham Bell's telephone was an interesting toy but had no future.
    • Texting. There was a time when people thought, "Why would I want to spend more time typing a message to a friend when I can just talk directly?" These days, it'd be more like, "Why would I want to spend more time talking to a friend when I can just send a text?"
  • E-readers. Most people thought that paper books would still be the preferred method of reading when the Sony E-reader, Amazon Kindle, and later the Barnes and Noble Nook were released, respectively; and Borders was so insistent the technology had no market that they refused to release one as these units began to sell. To date, millions of E-readers and E-books have been sold from Sony, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, and Borders filed for bankruptcy in late 2011.
    • Borders actually did begin selling E-readers, just through a partnership with an outside company and by selling any available brand that wasn't Amazon or Barnes and Noble. And Barnes and Noble's Nook eventually tanked; it is still alive but produced by Samsung now. Borders' demise lies more in their one time CEO, Greg Josefowicz, deciding that this whole shopping by internet thing would never amount to anything and selling off the Borders.com website to Amazon. By the time Borders managed to regain control of their own website, it was already too late.
  • David Sarnoff wanted people to invest in radio in the 1920′s. Their response?
    “No imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?“
  • US President William McKinley died when he was shot at the Pan-American Exposition. Surgeons refused to use the newfangled x-ray machine exhibited there to find the bullet (they didn't know the long term effects), and had to operate with only reflected sunlight for visibility due to the inability to use candles (as their anesthetic was flammable), despite electric lights being everywhere at the fair.
  • An unidentified Boston newspaper said in 1865 "it is impossible to transmit the human voice over wires as may be done with dots and dashes of Morse code, and that, were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value."
  • In a 1994 report for the French Prime Minister, Edouard Balladur, Gérard Théry, Alain Bonnafé and Michel Guieysse concluded that the Internet is poorly suited for the provision of commercial services.
  • Videophones have proven to be a huge subversion of I Want My Jetpack. Not so long ago, they were placed alongside flying cars and robotic maids in the "things silly 1960s people predicted we'd have in the future" category. Now we have webcams, camera phones, and numerous other devices which are essentially videophones. They have also proven to not be the complete replacements for audio-only phones people thought they would be; for various reasons both technical (e.g. the much greater bandwidth required to do proper video) and cultural (e.g. the fact that nobody wants to be on videophone in their pajamas, while people regularly take audio-only phone calls in all kinds of odd situations, assuming that they don't simply text each other instead) they are generally reserved for situations where the video call was pre-planned.
  • In 1977, President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House as a way of encouraging energy conservation through the 1970s' energy crisis, prompting much ridicule. His successor Ronald Reagan had the panels removed during his presidency. But by the 2000s, oil prices reached record highs and given greater concern about climate change, alternative energy became more favorable. President George W. Bush installed a new set of solar panels on the White House in 2003, and President Barack Obama added more in 2013.
  • After the home video market emerged in the 1980s, Blockbuster Video was the video rental store, all but holding a monopoly on the market. In 2000, entrepreneur Reed Hastings came to them with a proposal, having recently created a service that mailed DVDs directly to people's homes, he offered to set up a partnership in which he handled such a service for Blockbuster, and was laughed out of the room. He started the service as Netflix and it became a huge hit. Blockbuster attempted to copy Netflix's business model by offering DVDs by mail and eliminating late fees, but it was too little, too late, and Netflix's brand identity was too strong to overcome. Blockbuster closed all but about 40 locations between the US and Australia in 2013 (all of which are now a shadow of their former selves), while Netflix would adapt to changing times by The New '10s by transitioning to video streaming, attracting the general public, rivaling the likes of HBO and AMC as amongst the most important players in original programming, and ultimately ended up as one of the most important entertainment industries of the decade.
  • Remember Motorola? It was once a giant in the telephone business and even led the way when cell phones took off. However, during the rise of digital receivers and transmitters, Motorola stuck to keeping everything analog, figuring there was no need to throw away the extensive and fully-functioning analog infrastructure already in place and that customers would not be interested in paying more simply to get a clearer signal. The result was that Motorola fizzled out as a company before smartphones even existed.
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    Fashion and Apparel 
  • During the mid-Victorian era, many fashionable men at the time would scoff off at the ditto suit, a kind of three-piece suit that has a matching fabric and color, which was considered informal and unsuitable for day wear. Men loved it for its economic design and many more eventually gave in.
  • In the spring of 1947, a rising couturier named Christian Dior launched his first line of clothing that was untypical and different from the silhouette used During the War. Some said that it was a waste of money and fabric due to wartime rationing, not to mention the corsetting, full skirt, and high heels made it uncomfortable to wear with. Women immediately adored it and Dior's silhouette lingered on during The '50s.
  • "Not one man I have spoken to likes a woman in mini skirts." – Coco Chanel, 1969. This coming from a fashion icon who revolutionized modern fashion. She also frowned upon women wearing trousers on everyday wear, because before closing and reopening her shop, pants for women were considered sportswear and negligee. This would bite her at the end of her life because these were essential articles to her suits.
    • Chanel herself had been ridiculed during her early career as her designs were considered plain at best and boring at worst by fashionistas at the time. By the end of World War I, all things bold, theatrical, and flashy, like couturier Paul Poiret's were thrown into the bin, and all eyes were now turned to Chanel, who, up to this day, is admired for her simplicity, sophistication, and innovation. A chance meeting with Poiret serves this statement:
    Poiret: To whom are you mourning, madame?
    Chanel: To you, monsieur.
    • Chanel had been ridiculed the second time when she reopened her fashion house in 1954. Competing against Christian Dior's ultra-feminine New Look silhouette, when her designs consisting of streamlined, knee-length, black-and-white tweed suits were presented in Paris, the critics ruthlessly panned it for being too plain and avant-garde. Not to mention that Parisians were not too fond of Chanel for "sleeping with the enemy." during World War II. Despite all of the criticism, British and American journalists loved the designs, and it became the silhouette for the rest of the 1950s and of the early 1960s.
  • Many people during the late 1910s-early 1920s had thought that the "bob" was merely passé before 1924 would end. By 1924, millions of young women had adopted the hairstyle in different variations, and it remained short for the rest of the decade, and the decade after that.

    Films — Animation 
  • Walt Disney was rejected by MGM CEO Louis B. Mayer because his concept of a big, talking mouse might scare pregnant women.
  • Disney had to fight to get Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs produced. Both his brother and business partner Roy Disney and his wife Lillian attempted to talk him out of it, telling him that "nobody wants to watch a movie about dwarfs." And the Hollywood movie industry referred to the film derisively as "Disney's Folly" while it was in production.
    • There were plenty of reasons to scoff: At the time, dwarfs were mostly associated with carnival freakshows, the only other feature-length animated film ever made (a German production) had been a tremendous flop, and Snow White was monstrously expensive – the film's cost overran the expected budget by 400% and production incurred debts that were, at the time, higher than the total value of Disney's studio.
  • After Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, two films started being produced at Walt Disney Feature Animation. Most of the A-list animators went to Pocahontas, believing it would be a critical/box office/award-sweeping hit like Beast was... instead this status ended up happening to the other movie, The Lion King, while Pocahontas had a mixed reception.
  • Another Disney miss: 3D animation in general, up to and including firing people. Said people went on to found Pixar (funded by Steve Jobs), and the rest is history.
  • When The LEGO Movie was first announced, people everywhere said it was the stupidest idea they'd ever heard. Guess what became the biggest surprise hit of the 1st quarter of 2014? It was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song for "Everything Is Awesome", despite a much-mocked snub for a Best Animated Feature nom.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Before making Citizen Kane, Orson Welles wanted to make a movie out of The Smiler With the Knife, a comedic thriller. The studio turned him down flat because the actress he had chosen for the lead was thought to be a B-actress with no comedic talent. The actress's name? Lucille Ball.
  • Michael Eisner, CEO of The Walt Disney Company at the time, remarked in response to an early preview of Johnny Depp's portrayal of (Captain) Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, "He's ruining the movie!". Depp was nominated for an Oscar for that role. Eisner had several moments like this, and that's the primary reason he's no longer the CEO.
    • In a way Depp did ruin what the movie was supposed to be – a story of Will Turner and Elisabeth Swan. Depp hijacked the movie... And the rest is amazing history.
  • "No Civil War movie ever made a nickel!" — Louis B. Mayer to David O. Selznick on Gone with the Wind.
    • Gary Cooper also turned down the lead role of Rhett Butler in the film, allowing Clark Gable to have it: "I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face, and not Gary Cooper."
    • The fact that The Birth of a Nation (1915), a civil war film that debuted 20 years earlier, was the first 'blockbuster' in History makes Mayer's belief particularly strange.
  • While the Lumière brothers are often credited with being the first filmmakers, they themselves claimed: "the cinema is an invention without any future". The Horrible Histories spinoff The Knowledge parodied this with a drawing of the Lumières looking at a shop window advertising their "New! Sliced bread!" and saying It Will Never Catch On.
  • H. M. Warner (who owned Warner Bros.) once said, "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
    • Indeed, in the late 1920s, many who worked in show business thought that sound film was nothing but a fad and would never work. Silent movie acting was a finely crafted artform by that point, and the inclusion of sound meant that everyone basically had to start over from scratch. Also, movie cameras were *noisy* – to simultaneously record sound, the camera had to be enclosed in a soundproofing box, which made panning and dolly shots impossible.
    • Keep in mind, however, that Warner Bros. released what's considered the first sound-film hit. In fact, Warner's full comment was, "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk? The music—that's the big plus about this."
  • You know that role in The Hangover that's played by Heather Graham? That role was supposed to go to Lindsay Lohan, but Lohan turned down the role because, apparently, she thought it would flop. Yeah, that was a bad idea.
  • Jack Nicholson in his first Oscar acceptance speech: "And last, but not least, my agent, who about ten years ago advised me that I had no business being an actor. Thank you."
  • George Lucas had this really stupid idea for a space movie, which most studios passed on, and the executives at 20th Century Fox were this close to pulling the plug to avoid losing money.
    • Steven Spielberg claims that when Lucas showed an early version of Star Wars to a roomful of friends, Spielberg himself was the only one who thought it had any potential. In fact, Lucas was so convinced that Star Wars would bomb at the box office he made a wager with Spielberg that if Spielberg's film Close Encounters of the Third Kind grossed more at the box office, Lucas would receive 2.5 percent of the film's box office gross, and vice versa for Spielberg if Star Wars grossed more. To this day, Spielberg is still receiving a new cheque every year.
      • Spielberg could relate: his own film, Jaws, faced a similar battle against the execs, this time regarding Spielberg's insistence on releasing the film nationwide (until 1978, the standard practice was to release films first in major cities). Incidentally, both films were what helped jump-start The Blockbuster Age of Hollywood.
      • Ironically, when Lucas showed a later cut to the Fox board of directors, the very people who gave him so many problems during production, they loved it.
    • Doubly amusing about this is that 20th Century Fox had their hopes set on a cheesy B-movie they produced titled Damnation Alley which had a larger budget and better marketing. Today, Star Wars is one of the most well-known movies in the world and only people who want to see Hannibal, Stringfellow Hawke and Rorshach in the same movie have an interest in Damnation Alley.
    • Due to theater owners' reluctance to screen Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope at the time, 20th Century Fox threatened to withhold screening rights to the highly-anticipated period drama The Other Side of Midnight, based on the best-selling novel by Sidney Sheldon. Ultimately, The Other Side of Midnight made only a tenth of what Star Wars made from 1977 to 1979. And to think that The Other Side of Midnight was full of sex and nudity...
    • Another twist: Fox gave Lucas the merchandising rights to his movie because, well, the rights to making odd posters and tie-in books weren't worth much. This movie became the reason you can get everything from action figures to promotional toothbrushes now, an industry that can bring in more money for production than the film itself (as well as why no other director got a similar merchandising deal ever again).
      • On top of that, Kenner was the only toy company that made a licensing agreement with Lucasfilm. Their product line for Star Wars was extremely limited until the film became a surprise hit. Because of that, they were completely off-guard to fulfill orders for Christmas and had to do an "empty box" campaign in which they mailed action figures from purchase vouchers.
    • In an interview, Mark Hamill shared an anecdote about sitting in a movie theater and watching a preview for the first Star Wars film. After the thunderous John Williams score died down and the announcer told viewers, "Coming soon...," a heckler in the audience shouted back, "Yeah, to late night television in about a month!" Heh, don't bet on it!
    • Even after the smash success of Star Wars, Irvin Kershner had doubts when Lucas asked him to direct the sequel, thinking it would only be known as "the second one."
    • At the time, it was so controversial that A New Hope didn't have opening credits. The Directors Guild of America let it slide in ANH because (A) they thought the movie would bomb, and (B) Lucas was keeping himself out of the credits (the Guild's main issue with no credits was the director would not be credited). It obviously didn't, but when Lucas did it again in The Empire Strikes Back, he got issued a hefty fine by the DGA, which he paid before leaving. Today, many filmmakers forgo opening titles and credits that now, it seems like the DGA overreacted.
  • Early plans for The Film of the Book Twilight were not accurate to the book, it was far more action-y because it was believed that a film so heavily geared toward girls wouldn't be successful. They ended up sticking to a script more faithful to the book, and considering how much money they've made from that (not to mention the merchandise, you can find anything from clothing to bedsets to band-aids with the characters' faces on them) they probably don't regret that decision.
  • Back in the 1950s, critics in Japan panned a certain monster movie, claiming that it would never be popular. Now that film is regarded as one of the all-time greats of Japanese cinema, and twenty-seven sequels, two cartoons, two American adaptations, an assortment of toy lines, and multiple comic book series later, you've got not only the longest-running film series in history, but one of the biggest franchises ever.
  • Harry Saltzman and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli were given a rather low budget for a little spy film starring an ex-bodybuilder, who nobody thought would be a hit...
    • When he became James Bond, George Lazenby had a seven-movie deal. His agent convinced him to stop after one since said agent believed that spy movies were becoming outdated (as a side-note, Lazenby fired his agent after a string of flops in various hippy movies that his agent believed were going to be the next big thing).
    • Similarly, DC Comics did not make a Bond comic because they did not know if the series would still be popular without Sean Connery.
  • A talent agent early in his career said of Fred Astaire, "Can't sing, can't act, slightly bald – can dance a little." Astaire had that talent agent's report framed and put over the fireplace in his mansion.
  • Subversion: The head of MGM showed M to his writers and directors and asked why the hell they weren't making movies like that... but also admitted that, if somebody had pitched M to him, he would've turned it down.
  • Back to the Future was passed on by practically all the major studios for not having raunchy enough humor note , while Disney passed it on for being too raunchy by their standards note . It was only after the box office success of Romancing the Stone that Amblin Entertainment started expressing hope in Robert Zemeckis' and Bob Gale's science fiction comedy...which would later become the highest-grossing movie of its year.
    • One executive, in particular, was quoted by the film's producers as saying "Time travel movies don't work. They just don't work."
  • As Dennis Hopper's wife was driving him to the airport, where he would fly to Louisiana and shoot Easy Rider, she said the film would bomb and he'd become a mockery. He replied by asking for divorce... and when settling the terms, she only didn't ask half his winnings from Easy Rider because Hopper was so drugged and paranoid those days that she thought he'd kill her.
  • In a 2001-era TV special dedicated to the first Harry Potter movie, host Katie Couric tells us that "While Daniel's reportedly making close to three hundred thousand dollars for the first movie, it's been speculated that he'll rake in close to fifteen million dollars, if the sequels are successful." According to IMDb, Radcliffe made $53 million for the final two Deathly Hallows films.
  • According to Word of God, all throughout the development of Halloween (1978) they were told the movie would never catch on; that it was "disgusting," "not scary," and it was "pretentious to assume it would do well." It ended up becoming the most successful independent film of all time.
  • In his autobiography, Jackie Chan says that the first director he worked under discouraged him from doing action comedies and actively blocked the release of the first couple of films that Jackie made.
  • In one of his interviews, Arnold Schwarzenegger had told the audience that when he first voiced his desire to be a Hollywood actor people told him he would not catch on because of his hard-to-spell-read-and-pronounce-last-name, and because of his Austrian accent. On his first feature film Hercules in New York he was credited as "Arnold Strong" and his lines were dubbed over. But once he got the chance, he got to define the action star stereotype, people had begun to expect buffed-up men to have Austrian accents, and his name has become anything but forgettable—so unforgettable that people voted for him to be the Governator of California!
    • Schwarzenegger himself fell into this trope. While filming Conan the Barbarian, an interviewer asked what his next project was. His response: "Some shit movie about robots."
  • After the film Manhunter flopped at the box office, producer/distributor Dino De Laurentiis sold the rights to make the sequel for a small price, fearing a similar outcome. After said sequel actually came out, he spent much more money buying the rights back for the rest of the franchise.
  • This has happened with various revolutions in filmmaking – firstly with audio, then color, then special effects, and most recently 3D.
  • Planet of the Apes got this repeatedly before Fox okayed the idea.
  • Columbia Pictures was furious when Steven Spielberg turned what they expected to be a Spiritual Sequel to Close Encounters of the Third Kind into "a wimpy Walt Disney movie" about a little boy that befriended an extraterrestrial. They sold the rights to MCA for $1M and retained only 5% of the film's net profits. That year, Columbia made more money with that 5% of the ET The Extraterrestrial box office than with all of their produced films put together.
    • They weren't the only ones that passed up a good deal. When the script called for the use of M&Ms, Mars flat out rejected the use of their candy-coated chocolates, stating that they did not want their product to be associated with what they perceived as a grotesque creature. Hershey offered their newer product, Reese's Pieces, in place of M&Ms. The end result: a 65% profit increase after their candies were prominently featured in a movie which even today is universally acclaimed.
  • United Artists executives were not keen on casting a little-known actor for the boxing movie he wrote, but the producers insisted on it. The studio ultimately agreed to make Rocky with him (after reducing its budget), because they had Martin Scorsese's New York, New York in production, and they were so confident in that movie they assumed they could write off the losses from this risky undertaking easily. Quoted one former vice president: "Rocky wound up paying for whatever losses we had on New York, New York."
  • As shown in The Disaster Artist, nearly every cast and crew member of The Room, aside from Tommy Wiseau, believed that the film would never see the light of day. This attitude eventually contributed to professionalism on the set falling apart as production dragged on. In addition, Tommy's on-set treatment of the cast and crew lead to two directors of photography quitting, bringing practically the entire crew with them on both occasions, which nearly ensured the film would never be finished. Greg Sestero thought that even if the film was completed, it'd be direct-to-video anyway. Tommy held eternal optimism that his film would be universally loved and a box office smash, discussed for years to come. If you are at all familiar with the film, you'd know that Tommy succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.
  • In an interview, Hugh Jackman mentioned that he sang "Stars" from Les Misérables for his audition as Gaston in the Beauty and the Beast musical. The person in the charge of the audition told him that he would never be in Les Mis. Then, Jackman was in the movie version of the musical (as Jean Valjean, not Javert which went to his best mate, Russell Crowe) and got an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
    • While on the subject of Hugh Jackman, many people thought he was a terrible choice to play Wolverine, and that the film itself was doomed to failure due to having a director not known for action movies, as well as massive amounts of backlash from the fans over the casting choices and lack of costumes. X-Men was such a surprise hit that not even Marvel bothered to do much to cash in on the film, leading to Bob Harras being fired from his position as Editor in Chief.
  • Michael Bay was working as an intern at Lucasfilm and thought Raiders of the Lost Ark would stink. He ate his words when he saw the final film, and watching it even inspired him to get into film-making.
  • Norma Jean Baker was told by a modeling agent to consider secretarial work rather than modeling or acting.
  • In January 2014, Forbes contributor John Furrier wrote an article claiming that the biggest flops of 2014 would be Godzilla, RoboCop, and Guardians of the Galaxy. The box office results thoroughly disagree with Mr. Furrier. (RoboCop being saved through worldwide grosses.)
    • A lot of people felt both Godzilla and Guardians of the Galaxy would be flops – Godzilla due to fears of it flopping as bad as Godzilla (1998) and Guardians of the Galaxy being a massive untested franchise (many critics felt that, if Guardians failed, it would utterly derail Marvel movies). The Continuity Reboot of Godzilla ended being a surprise critical and commercial success, and Guardians of the Galaxy ended up being the biggest domestic hit of the summer of 2014, setting a new August record at the box office.
  • Iron Man 2 writer Justin Theroux said he told Kevin Feige that he wasn't sure if The Avengers would work, as he didn't know if it was a good idea to team Iron Man up with a bunch of other comic book heroes.
  • For years, former Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter argued that there would be no money in a Black Panther movie, due to his racist belief that audiences would not be interested in a black superhero. When the Black Panther movie was finally made years later (after a restructuring of Marvel Studios gave Kevin Feige greater control and largely locked out Perlmutter), it ended up being the highest-grossing solo film of the entire MCU, as well as one of the most successful movies of all time.
    • Perlmutter had similar reservations about Captain Marvel, claiming that female leads in superhero movies were box-office poison. Once again, the box office success of the Captain Marvel movie suggests otherwise.
  • TRON pioneered the use of CGI, but was refused a nomination for Best Visual Effects by the Academy Awards because they believed the use of computers was "cheating". CGI has since become an integral part of visual effects.
  • 20th Century Fox, for the longest time, was unwilling to make a Deadpool movie because notorious micromanager Tom Rothman (who infamously mandated the In Name Only take on Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and whose last greenlit superhero movie for Fox was Fant4stic) felt the character wouldn't click with audiences. Ultimately, after Rothman left, and after test footage was leaked, the film was officially greenlit, and ultimately became a huge hit, making more money in its opening weekend alone than Fant4stic's entire theatrical run.
  • For Independence Day, Dean Devlin wanted to cast his high school friend Kevin Spacey as President Whitmore. However, Fox refused, thinking he didn't have the potential to be a big star. Spacey already won an Oscar for The Usual Suspects by the time Independence Day came out.
  • When Paul Rudd told his nine-year-old son that he was going to play Ant-Man, he was told: "I can't wait to see how stupid that will be." The film ended up being a surprise hit, doing fairly well with critics and doing better at the box office than Fantastic Four (2015), leading to the character being given more presence in future Marvel films (such as a well-received appearance in Captain America: Civil War the following year and a sequel in 2018).
  • Bruce Willis turned down the male lead in Ghost because he thought the film would flop. He freely admitted that wasn't the smartest move of his career. His then-wife Demi Moore had no such fears.
  • In his 1993 review of the film, Washington Post film critic Desson Howe recommended Groundhog Day but tempered his praise by stating that it would “never be designated a national film treasure by the Library of Congress”; in 2006 the movie was designated a national film treasure by the Library of Congress.
  • Dirty Dancing was hated by executives, producers, and test audiences. The studio expected a flop and made preparations to screen it for a single weekend before pulling out of theatres and releasing it on home video. Producer Aaron Russo suggested to "burn the negative, and collect the insurance" after watching it. What they got was a box office break both domestically and abroad, the first position in video rentals the next year, and even one Oscar win for best song. The reason for this discrepancy was that the movie was made with teenagers in mind, and the studio was right when they expected it to underperform with teenagers. What they did not see coming at all was that it was going to be a massive hit among adults, and especially among adult women.
  • When Universal Pictures was looking to reboot their Universal Horror franchise, they passed on Guillermo del Toro's pitch for a remake of Creature from the Black Lagoon. Del Toro eventually refined his pitch into a standalone movie called The Shape of Water, which went on to become not only a hit with critics and the box office, but won Best Picture at the 90th Academy Awards, whilst The Mummy (2017), intended by Universal to be the start of a much-ballyhooed Dark Universe, ended up as a Box Office Bomb that was the butt of many a joke about overhyped franchises.
  • When Universal Pictures first began developing a live-action adaptation of the popular Marvel Comics series Howard the Duck in the 1980s, artist Frank Brunner (who drew Howard the Duck at the time) tried to convince Universal that it would be a horrible idea to put a live actor in an anthropomorphic duck costume, since it would inevitably just look creepy. He tried to sell them on a different idea: rendering Howard in hand-drawn cel animation, but having him interact with live actors. Universal was convinced that it could never possibly work and that making a movie with both live actors and animated characters was effectively impossible. Then Who Framed Roger Rabbit came out — just two years after Howard the Duck. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was hailed as an innovative masterpiece for its blending of animation and live-action, while Howard the Duck was panned as a disastrous mess for (among other things) the main character's unintentionally creepy costume.
  • When James Cameron pitched his idea for The Terminator to his agent, which was inspired by a nightmare he had, he was told to not pursue it. He fired his agent and did it anyway.
  • Will Smith turned down the role of Neo for The Matrix because he believed it was too ambitious and wouldn't work. He later admitted that he actually would have messed it up.

    Land and Water Transportation 
  • Volkswagen got a lot of this after the war from Ford, the Rootes Group, and a bunch of other companies from France, Britain and the USA. Sir William Rootes himself reckoned that it would fail in just two years. The Rootes Group was sold to Chrysler in 1967, and then to Peugeot in 1978.
  • General Motors executives once derided the Toyota Prius, thinking that the hybrid tech was too expensive to be profitable at the asking price Toyota set (about $20,000 to start), that it was too small for American tastes, and that the price of gas at the time (about $2 a gallon) was so low as to make any fuel savings moot. Fast forward to 2011: gas is $4 a gallon, Toyota sold 1 million plus Prii—which are, in essence, the VW Beetles of their age—over three generations, and GM's hyped product launch of the year happens to be what they hope will be a a Prius-killer... If it's not too expensive to be profitable at their asking price of over $30,000.
    • A highly subsidized electric car market and a highly unfree (heard of OPEC?) and highly taxed world petroleum market might have something to do with that.
  • The man who invented traffic laws (William Phelps Eno) amusingly never drove a car himself. He assumed the automobile to just be a passing fad.
  • "You would make a ship sail against the winds and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I have no time for such nonsense!"Napoleon Bonaparte to Robert Fulton, on the subject of steamships.
    • He wasn't the only one who didn't think much of the steamboat. Until it ultimately proved successful, it was widely known as "Fulton's Folly." Admittedly, it didn't take terribly long for it to become successful: Fulton made working prototypes throughout the 1780s and 90s, had a successful demonstrator by 1810, and had people suing each other over the right to use his technology by 1820.
      • Napolean and others weren't completely wrong. Combine a heavy and inefficient boiler prone to exploding without warning with an unreliable engine, a fragile drive system (paddle wheels can be taken out with one cannon shot), a dangerous fuel (coal dust and wood shavings can also go ka-boom without warning), a difficult to use fuel (it had to be hand shoveled into the boilers and the ash had to be dumped overboard by hand), and a wooden hull. That's a floating disaster area just waiting to happen. They didn't dismiss it out of hand because steam engines were already being used to pump water out of mines. The steam engines of the time simply weren't useful for much else.
  • Ernest Seton-Thompson's autobiography states that his father wanted to become an engineer for railroad construction. However:
    My grandfather's reply was simple and final: "All nothing but nonsense. The railways are a mere fad, and will soon be done away with. Yes, within three years; and then we shall be entirely back to the horses and coaches again."
  • When plans for the Shinkansen were being drawn out in the late 1950s, even people within the Japanese National Railways were unsure whether this new train line practically built from scratchnote  would be successful. Given that this was around the time when Europe and America were ditching railways in favor of automobiles and airplanes, their doubt was somewhat understandable. Instead, it ushered in an era of global High Speed Rail expansion that seems to show no sign of slowing down as of the mid-2010s.
  • In the 1850s, French businessman Ferdinand de Lesseps had a dream: to build a canal from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez, vastly reducing shipping times from Europe to India (good for the British), Southeast Asia (good for the French, British, and Dutch), and East Asia (good for everybody). He got the necessary approvals from the Egyptian government, but when he tried to sell shares in the company building the canal in Britain and France, nobody would buy them...the public didn't think it would work. So he sweet-talked the Egyptian government into borrowing more than it could afford to fund the scheme (which, combined with unsustainable loans Egypt had taken to fund pointless and ruinous wars with Ethiopia, is why Egypt ended up part of The British Empire thirty years later). Suffice it to say, the Suez Canal was a great success, doing everything de Lesseps promised and more; it remains one of the major money earners for modern Egypt (which nationalized the Canal in 1956).
    • He had another dream, to build a canal connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic somewhere in Panama. His attempt in the 1880s failed miserably due to difficult geography, tropical diseases, and corruption. The idea was completely discredited until Americans tried it only a decade and a half later and completed the canal in 1914, albeit with a major design innovation (a system of locks—something the Americans, who had a history with running canals with locks over rugged terrain, quickly seized on. Digging all the way to the sea level, as de Lesseps tried, probably is impractical given the terrain involved).
  • The Aircraft Carrier is a complicated example. There were a lot of people in the USN who thought that aircraft carriers, even if they couldn't replace battleships, were more than worth the price tag. However the American navy wasn't the forerunner of carrier technology, Japan and Britain were. Japan even failed to comprehend that aircraft carriers were the next step in naval evolution even when their own carriers were tearing up the Pacific. As a consequence, their carriers didn't receive much-needed upgrades because that would mean funding had to be diverted from battleships. And then Midway happened.
  • Though the first submarine was deployed in the American Revolution, up until the 20th Century, it was seen as Awesome, but Impractical. They were typically much more dangerous to the men operating them than to any enemy. Then, in the opening weeks of World War I, the German submarine U-9 sank three British warships in less than an hour. Having a submarine with 24 men take down three cruisers and 1500 enemy sailors proved hard to resist, and the Germans quickly capitalized on their success. Ironically, Germany had been the last major naval power to build a submarine.
  • Amtrak was created under Richard Nixon as a "last hurrah" of passenger rail travel in the US, to be shut down a few years down the line at the most. As of 2016, it is still going strong, carrying almost double the amount of ridership it had in the 1970s and even going toe to toe with the airlines along the Northeast Corridor, where it has something approaching High Speed Rail.
  • In the 1960s one Richard Beeching – then head of British Rail – was of the opinion that railroads were a thing of the past and people would soon all travel by automobile or airplane instead of the 19th-century technology that is the railway. Hence he proposed severe cuts to the rail network to keep the losses at bay. Fast forward fifty years and not only is National Rail handling more passengers than all private railroads combined ever in the history of Britain, but there is also very serious talk of expanding the network and Building High Speed Rail lines due to capacity constraints on virtually all main lines. And many stations and lines closed by the "Beeching Axe" are being reopened.

    Literature 
  • Some believed that Twilight, with its Purple Prose and Family-Unfriendly Aesop, would never catch on. Then again, the style of books that it was a part of ("Sexy vampire dudes seducing Hollywood Homely women and getting away with it", nowadays called Vampire or Gothic Romance) had been on-and-off popular for about forty years, so it might have been the case of Twilight being published at just the right time.
  • The first Harry Potter book was turned down by three publishers who thought it was too long for children. Not only did the novels go on to become the best-selling book series of all time, but the first installment ended up being the SHORTEST one in the series.
  • "If you believe it is a work of genius, then you may lose a thousand pounds." — Stanley Unwin, giving permission to publish a work that everyone in the publishing house feared would lose money. Even Stanley's son Rayner feared it would lose money — but he wanted to publish The Lord of the Rings anyway.
  • Anne Frank thought her diary would never interest someone. It was also rejected by 15 publishers before Doubleday accepted it.
  • The Marquise of Sévigné wrote "Racine would pass like the coffee", expressing her belief both would not have success.
  • Frank Herbert's Dune was rejected 20 times before being published — by Chilton, of the DIY car service manuals fame.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: Daniel Handler thought the series was an awful idea, and when his editor said she liked it, he thought she was drunk.
  • Paris in the Twentieth Century. One of the reasons it was initially rejected for publication was that Jules Verne's predictions about the far-off future of 1960 were considered wildly implausible. He got a few things wrong, but the gist of the novel is either clearly correct (horseless carriages!) or correct if you're cynical (Corrupt Corporate Executives run the world!).
  • According to the intro in the book Freakonomics, the publishers of the book hated the name and wanted to change it, but the writers Steven and Stephen disagreed and insisted that the name stay. The book has since inspired a sequel, a blog, a radio show, and a consulting company. So successful was the book, that the publishing company begrudgingly let the sequel book be called "Super Freakonomics".
  • The Berenstain Bears almost didn't become a series. After their first book the Big Honey Hunt was completed in 1962, publishing editor, Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss), actually warned Stan and Jan Berenstain against doing any more books with the bears; he argued that the market was already saturated with too many bear characters like the Three Bears, Yogi Bear, Maurice Sendak's Little Bear, etc. The Berenstains initially agreed and came up with another book about a penguin titled Nothing Ever Happens At The South Pole. Ted changed his mind though when he learned that Honey Hunt was selling well according to his field agents and even had the initial print run raised. He asked the Berenstains for another bear book and the rest is history. The aforementioned penguin book was published around 2012, not long after Jan Berenstain's death.
  • Speaking of Dr. Seuss, he nearly didn't become an author. His first manuscript, originally titled A Story No One Can Beat, was shopped around to many publishers in 1936 and 1937. They all rejected Seuss, dismissing his manuscript because of its fantasy content, the lack of An Aesop, being written in verse and even because it might encourage children to lie to authority figures. Seuss was dejected and was planning to burn the manuscript when he ran into a friend, Mike McClintock, an editor at Vanguard Press. After meeting with McClintock and his superiors, Vanguard agreed to publish the book on the grounds that the title was changed. That book became And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, which launched the career of Seuss.
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    Live-action TV 
  • When Bob Stewart created The Price Is Right in 1956, comedian Dick Van Dyke was asked to try out as host. He passed on it, saying there was no entertainment value in watching four people guess how much things cost. The job went to Bill Cullen, and the original lasted nine years; the CBS version is now in its 45th year.
  • A Disney casting director told Selena Gomez that she would never have her own show and that she "wasn't strong enough to be part of the Disney company".
  • An idea for a TV show was pitched to CBS, but a key executive hated it, saying it had no urban appeal. The first episode was sneaked onto the schedule while that exec was on vacation. He was angry when he came back to work and saw the show on the schedule, but he was helpless to do anything about it because that week's TV Guide had already been printed. That show became one of the biggest hits of its season.
  • Lewis Erlicht, President of ABC Entertainment, said in 1984 that TV comedy was "dead. Forever. Bury it." He also considered an educated, middle class, happy African-American family "unrealistic". As such, he rejected a stand-up comedian's pitch for a domestic sitcom. The show was eventually greenlit by Brandon Tartikoff, president of NBC Entertainment, where it (The Cosby Show) became a ratings giant (one of three shows ever to rank #1 in the Neilsen ratings for five consecutive seasons), as well as setting the bar for both African-American roles on television and intelligent family-friendly comedy. In fact, as a result of the show's mega-popularity, many other NBC shows, a lot of them heretofore struggling to win viewership, became hugely popular in the Nielsen ratings as well. All of this gave NBC much needed revenue to avoid going bankrupt. ABC, for their part, saw many of their once mega-successful programs take a tremendous nosedive in the ratings, which in turn, led to a huge decline in revenue, causing the network to be bought out by a company only a tenth of their size, Capital Cities Communications. As a result of the missed opportunity for ABC caused by his poor judgment, Erlicht was abruptly and humiliatingly sacked and replaced by Brandon Stoddard, head of the network's in-house production company, ABC Circle Films.
  • In 1963, the producers of Doctor Who planned to do a serial featuring a certain race of mechanical aliens, but were bitterly resisted by higher-ups (including the show's primary developer, Sydney Newman), who thought the show worked best as a purely historical-style drama and thought including "bug-eyed monsters" would cheapen and ruin the format. The Daleks went on to become one of the most popular and instantly-recognized things about the show.
    • Forty-odd years later, certain people in the UK TV industry were skeptical about relaunching Who. It wasn't like families watched television together these days. Even Jane Tranter, who commissioned the relaunch, thought at the time it was probably the riskiest thing she'd ever commissioned. Her gamble paid off beyond her wildest dreams.
  • Brandon Tartikoff reluctantly allowed Michael J. Fox to be cast as Alex Keaton in Family Ties, telling the show's creator, Gary David Goldberg, that "you'll never see Fox's face on a lunchbox". After that show (and Back to the Future) became hits, Fox sent Tartikoff a lunchbox with his face on it, along with an inscription that read:
    “To Brandon: This is for you to put your crow in. Love and Kisses, Michael J. Fox.”
    • Tartikoff kept Fox's lunchbox.
  • In the late 1960s ABC considered extremely risky the very thought of a sitcom about a bigot and his hippie daughter and son-in-law in such turbulent times, even if it was based on a formula that had been proven in Britain. CBS had its' own doubts when it picked the show up, not guaranteeing that it would ever see the light of day. It did anyhow, and All in the Family became the #1 show on TV for five seasons.
  • Incredibly, this happened to Pat Sajak during his early days as host of Wheel of Fortune on NBC's daytime lineup, when he replaced Chuck Woolery when the latter left the show due to a salary dispute. Although Sajak was already employed by NBC as a meteorologist on their Los Angeles station, KNBC, then-NBC president and CEO Fred Silverman rejected his hiring for Wheel, claiming he was "too local." Wheel's creator, Merv Griffin, responded by imposing a moratorium on new episode tapings until Sajak was hired, but Silverman refused to budge. During the interim period between Sajak's recruitment and Woolery's final episode, however, Silverman (who, you might recall, was the center of the famous "Limo for the Lame-o" affair) was abruptly ousted at NBC for greenlighting one too many failures on the network's prime time lineup, as well as almost bankrupting the network by spending a ton of money to produce a whopping 150 hours of coverage for the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics, only to end up cancelling said programming after Jimmy Carter pulled the U.S. team out of the event in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. His replacement, Grant Tinker, approved Sajak as host, and Sajak managed to go on unharmed, and he and hostess Vanna White continue to host the show to this day. Amusingly, Tinker previously knew Griffin when he worked at NBC as a junior assistant during the mid-1960s, and, in fact, had previously persuaded Mort Werner, NBC's then senior vice president for programming and talent, to green light Griffin's other best-known creation, Jeopardy!.
  • Patrick Stewart was so convinced that Star Trek: The Next Generation would fail that for the first six weeks of shooting he refused to unpack any of his suitcases.
  • This was the prevailing attitude towards Power Rangers, Haim Saban's idea for adapting action footage from Toei's Super Sentai shows for American audiences. It took him years to convince a network to give it a chance. It wasn't much of one, the show (which used footage and costumes from the recently-ended So Okay, It's Average Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger) was only set to run for one short season of forty episodes. But Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers proved to be a colossal hit, and Fox Kids extended and renewed the show at the last minute (literally — they had to hurriedly alter the intended finale and it shows). Additional action footage was commissioned from Toei, with the handful of leftover monster fights being used to fill the gap until the first reels of this arrived. Power Rangers endures to this day, and has been Uncanceled multiple times. As the original "Go Go Power Rangers" theme song says:
    No one will ever take them down... the power lies on their si-i-i-i-i-iiiide!
    • Of course, that's only considering when the damn thing finally got on the air. Saban had been attempting to adapt Sentai all the way back to Bioman, seven years prior. And it was by sheer chance that it even did get picked up. After being impressed by Toei's take on Spider-Man, Stan Lee wanted to bring Super Sentai to America. Lee had a dubbed pilot of Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan made and tasked executive Margaret Loesch with pitching the show to networks (HBO, then young and desperate for programming, was a potential home). Despite having a previous reputation for such programs as Muppet Babies, she was laughed out of buildings. Eventually, she gave up and Marvel gave back the Super Sentai adaptation rights back to Toei. Seven years later and now an executive at the fledgling Fox Kids Network (where she and Lee had teamed up again to give another rejected idea of theirs, an animated series based on the Marvel comic X-Men, a shot), Loesch meets a children's producer named Haim Saban. He demoed a few shows to Loesch from his European studio that failed to impress. She asks if he has something that's "new". Saban leaves and a few minutes comes back with a demo tape; he asks her not to laugh at it. Loesch jumps on it and gives the green light to produce the show. Even then the plug was almost pulled on Power Rangers before it even aired, but Loesch told her doubters at Fox that she had a back up if the show failed. The Nostalgia Critic admits that he thought this about Power Rangers... then goes on to add "And that's why I'm not in the stock market."
  • NBC said this when they were pitched an idea for a show about forensic scientists. They thought viewers would be intimidated by the science and not understand it enough. CBS picked it up and CSI and one of its spinoffs have both been the highest rated scripted show on TV at times.
  • Jerry Van Dyke was offered the lead in Gilligan's Island. He claimed it was the dumbest thing he ever read. He passed up this show for another sitcom called My Mother the Car. Remember that show?
  • In this Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast reunion, Sarah Michelle Gellar talks about when she first got cast as Buffy for the Pilot. She mentions that her friends thought the show would never last because it was to be a midseason replacement, it was adapted from an unpopular movie, and was going to air on a channel not very popular at the time.
  • This is discussed on the Cosmos reboot with Neil deGrasse Tyson, where scientists came up with spot-on hypothoses long before they had the capability of actually confirming them. For example, Albert Wegener figured out continental drift to explain the similarity of fossils across continents and how neatly South America's east coast fits Africa's west, but in his lifetime it made him a laughingstock. It wasn't until long after his death that Marie Tharp confirmed it while mapping sonar images of the seafloor. Similarly, there are several ideas (like the scientific method) that have been repeatedly discovered in different times and places.
  • Other than creator Robert Small, everybody at MTV believed that MTV Unplugged would fail, with the main arguments being that nobody would want to see mellowed-out folk/acoustic renditions of their favorite rock or pop songs and that such music clashed with MTV's flamboyant/rebellious style. Small fought tooth and nail for MTV's higher-ups to give him the money to produce even one "unplugged" show, and even then, he was given very little to work with. Sure enough, Unplugged immediately became one of MTV's most popular music shows, with groups/musicians ranging from Nirvana to LL Cool J doing shows, and Unplugged Version even becoming part of common music vernacular.
  • While filming a sketch for Monty Python's Flying Circus in Folkstone Harbor, John Cleese became seasick and threw up repeatedly. During the ride back, Graham Chapman said he should eat something, and Cleese replied that he fancied some cheese. They came across a chemist's shop, which Cleese wondered about asking for cheese there, and this eventually evolved into a sketch about someone asking for cheese in a cheese shop which had no cheese whatsoever. However, Cleese initially did not think the sketch was funny while writing it, despite Chapman's insistence. When it was presented to the other Pythons, they were equally unimpressed...until Michael Palin laughed so hard he fell out of his chair.
  • According to Tom Riccio in ESPN's 2016 documentary, O.J.: Made in America, O.J. said that Keeping Up with the Kardashians "wouldn't last two weeks".
  • Child actor Rider Strong was so convinced that he would become a star working opposite Julie Andrews on her sitcom Julie, that when it was canceled after only six episodes, he became so pessimistic that he was convinced that his next series gig, a children's sitcom, wouldn't make it past the pilot phase. That show: Boy Meets World, which ran for seven seasons and made Strong famous for playing Shawn Hunter.
  • This article protests the idea of The Noddy Shop for being unfaithful to the original Noddy's Toyland Adventures show, and thought that it would fail in ratings because of competition from other shows. However, it went on for two seasons and became as popular as Sesame Street was on PBS Kids, only getting canned because of poor merchandise sales. note 
  • There were once two brothers who pitched a paranormal mystery show to several cable network, and every single one of them rejected it. The main reason? The execs thought it was impossible to have an adult, horror-themed show starring four kids as its lead characters, and it either had to focus on an adult detective character, or it had to be a children's series. Luckily, Netflix disagreed, and the show quickly became their biggest hit ever, currently having two hugely popular seasons with a third season in the works. Strange, huh?
  • Upon hearing a pitch on a high school chemistry teacher cooking meth after getting cancer, an executive called it "the single worst idea for a television show I've heard in my whole life". Six years later, Breaking Bad ended with one of the most watched series finales in cable television and recognition as one of the greatest dramas in television history.
  • Back in 2004, What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events In Television History lambasted the idea of AMC transitioning to making original series as it strayed far from its roots as a classic movie channel. One decade and a trio of smash hits later, guess who had the last laugh?

    Music 
  • Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter had a garage rock band named Darlin' with their friend Laurent Brancowitz. The band received a negative review by a critic from Melody Maker that their rock music was a "bunch of daft punk". The magazine was right and their rock band fizzled, but the two decided that "Daft Punk" was a good name for a house band. As for Brancowitz? Instead of becoming The Pete Best of this situation, he co-founded the highly popular indie rock band Phoenix.
  • When The Avalanches were making their Since I Left You album, the group initially thought that no one would care about it. They were wrong.
  • Georges Bizet's last opera, Carmen, was hated by the critics and struggled commercially when first released in 1875, with the theater giving away tickets in an effort to improve attendance. Today, it is one of the world's most performed operas and an essential part of every opera performer's repertoire.
  • A review of UHF ended with: ""Weird Al" Yankovic, your fifteen minutes are up." He gets this every few years in the form of people being surprised that Weird Al is "back." Perhaps because people associate him with specific eras and genres of music he has parodied (mostly the 1980s). By now, people have figured out that parody adapts. He has been supposedly quoted as saying (Paraphrased) "I have been making albums consistently for several years, and each one is called 'Weird Al's comeback'. Comeback? I never went anywhere!" Especially when he was getting started, because it was a novelty act, no one expected him to last. Capitol Records, in particular, had him pegged as a one-hit-wonder and refused to listen to any songs he made after "My Bologna", forcing him to leave Capitol Records for Scotti Bros, and at one of his first paying gigs, the audience began booing and throwing things at him as soon as they saw his accordion.
  • In 1954, Elvis Presley was auditioning for a musician called Eddie Bond. Bond said to him: "Stick to driving a truck, because you'll never make it as a singer." Elvis recorded his first hit a few months later.
  • Rock and roll music, in general, got this at first. Many record labels in the early days of rock and roll objected to signing rock acts for two reasons: (1) they didn't see rock as being as civilized of music as classical music and big band music like Sinatra, and (2) they thought there was no chance of rock and roll ever being commercially successful on the levels of the aforementioned styles. Cutting forward to 2013, big band music is dead, and classical music, though still fairly popular in certain circles, isn't even 1% as commercially successful as rock.
  • The Beatles got this a lot.
    • John Lennon's Aunt Mimi told him as a teenager, "Guitar is a good hobby, John, but you'll never make a living of it." In 1964, a group of fans had that quote put on a plaque and sent it to her.
    • The Beatles were turned down by Decca, Pye, Columbia, and HMV, and that was just among the recording companies. Decca executive Dick Rowe, in particular, claiming that "groups are out", especially four-person ones with guitars. It's been suggested that the executive who told them about guitars being on the way out was taking a polite out and that it just wasn't a very good audition. Records show that their setlist was mostly covers, which wasn't where they were strongest, and the few Lennon/McCartney originals weren't songs that featured on their later albums. Decca was embarrassed when The Beatles became successful, and immediately signed the next young rock band that came through their doors. Lucky for them that band was The Rolling Stones.
    • In The Jungle Book, Mowgli is met by four vultures obviously based off the Beatles (mop-top haircuts, Liverpool accents) but when they sing a song, it's not in the style of the band. They instead form a barbershop quartet. Disney himself decided to take that particular route over a rock song, saying that the Beatles' music had no staying power.
  • Dick Clark has confessed to having this reaction twice in regards to KISS. The first time was in the early Eighties when it was announced that they would be taking off their makeup, and the second time when it was announced they would be putting the makeup back on.
  • Rock journalist Judy Willis cheerfully admits she once said of David Bowie, "He's not going to go far, is he? He's just not star material."
  • When The Graduate first came out, Roger Ebert famously called the film's Simon & Garfunkel songs "instantly forgettable". He joked about it decades later.
  • "Male vocal in the 1968 feeling—thin, piercing voice with no emotional appeal...dreary songs...one-key singer...pretentious material." — A panel review of a BBC audition in 1968 of Sir Elton John to promote his first single, "Lady Samantha", and curry favor for more BBC performances in the future.
  • Once, a guitarist was told by his buddy Keith Moon that his idea for a band "would sink like a lead zeppelin." That guitarist, Jimmy Page, decided to name his band after that flippant remark. The rest is history
  • Kanye West struggled to find a record label for his album The College Dropout, due to being known as a producer first and foremost, with many doubting that he could actually rap. Of course, when the album was eventually signed on by Roc-a-fella records, it became a massive hit and Kanye eventually became one of the best selling artists of all time.
  • During one interview, Jimi Hendrix, after praising the Beatles, had this to say about Pink Floyd: "I've heard they have beautiful lights but they don't sound like nothing."
  • When Wilco finished their fourth album, their label, Reprise Records, thought it would never sell. This led to an argument between the suits and the band (particularly Jeff Tweedy. The suits offered to sell Wilco the rights to the album for $55,000 (hefty, but not prohibitive) if they would leave the label; the suits eventually offered to hand the rights to them for free—basically saying, "we'll give you something if you'll just go away", at which point Wilco said, "Sure." The band hopped to Nonesuch Records shortly thereafter and released the album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Which is their best-received and most commercially successful album to date (it went gold, no small feat for a band like Wilco). Reprise was kicking itself for quite sometime after that.
  • The reason Nick Lowe, who produced Pretenders' debut single, chose not to produce their debut album? He thought they "weren't going anywhere."
  • While Jacky Wu was impressed enough with Jay Chou's songwriting skills to scout him for songwriting, he didn't think Jay had the looks or singing skills to be a successful singer. Jay released his self-titled album in 2000 and would go on to dominate the Mandopop scene for over a decade after. The songs in said album also count, as they had been rejected by even big-name singers for being too weird and/or complicated to be usable, so he ended up using them for himself instead.
  • When Jethro Tull were first getting recognized (as a blues-rock band rather than a prog-rock band), their manager felt Ian Anderson should give up the flute and let then-guitarist Mick Abrams do all the singing. That manager didn't last too long (neither did Abrams, who left shortly after Tull's first album was released).
  • Simon Cowell once said that none of a bunch of prospective groups he was overseeing for The X Factor would be successful in "a million, billion years" and that no teenage girl would hang posters of them on her wall. This was the 2010 season of the show, and one of the groups he was talking about was a five-piece boy band called One Direction.
    • Years before, Cowell managed boy band 5ive. He tried to get Max Martin’s “…Baby One More Time” for his band, but Martin had already promised the song to an up-and-comer called Britney Spears. Cowell reacted: “You’re mad. No one can be successful with a name like that.” Also, later one of the bandmembers dissed on "Bye Bye Bye" and made them pass the song, which was such a success for *NSYNC that Cowell admitted it could be enough to make 5ive break across The Pond. In the end, Britney Spears and NSYNC (and by extension, their frontman Justin Timberlake) would become amongst the biggest stars in pop music history. As for 5ive? They had one hit in the United States, and quickly faded into obscurity after their breakup. They are now barely a footnote in British music history.
    • And before all that, Cowell rather famously refused to sign Take That, on the grounds that he didn't think the songs were good, and he didn't think frontman Gary Barlow had star quality (allegedly he said of Barlow, "fire the fat one and I'll sign them," but this has never been confirmed). They then went on to be the biggest British boy band of all time before One Direction came along. He changed his mind once he realized what a following they were getting, but by that point, they'd already been signed by another label. Apparently, Barlow didn't hold a grudge, however, as he agreed to serve as Cowell's replacement as head judge on The X Factor for a few seasons.
  • According to the liner notes of his first Greatest Hits Album, Alan Jackson thought that "Chattahoochee" was too dependent on a localized reference (the Chattahoochee River on the Alabama/Georgia border) to become a hit. His worries were for naught, as it was the biggest country song of 1993.
  • Duane Allen, lead singer of The Oak Ridge Boys, didn't think that their 1978 hit "I'll Be True to You" would work as a single because it was a slow song with a Downer Ending. It wound up being the band's very first #1 hit.
  • In 1983, musicians Hilel Slovak and Jack Irons were members of the band What Is This?, and had formed a goofy side-project band called Red Hot Chili Peppers on a lark with a few other local musicians. Neither thought the Peppers would become a serious endeavor...and then they got signed to EMI. The duo couldn't split time between the two bands, and they both thought that What Is This? would be the more commercially successful band, so they quit the Peppers to remain with it. Slovak would be back in 1985 and Irons in 1987. The two of them are now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as members of the Peppers. As for the more serious, commercial What Is This?, the most success that band ever got was one single that reached #62 on the Hot 100 and an appearance on American Bandstand shortly after Slovak left the band.
  • "Qué Será, Será". Doris Day initially was extremely reluctant to even record the song, calling it "forgettable children's song". It went on to win Oscar for the Best Original Song, ran second on US Billboard chart and first on UK Singles Chart and, ironically, ended up as a theme song for Doris' own The Doris Day Show. It is now #48 on AFI's 100 Years… 100 Songs list.
  • Lindsey Stirling washed out of the fifth season quarterfinals of America's Got Talent and was told by Piers Morgan that she wasn't talented enough to play the violin and dance simultaneously. Unbeknownst to Morgan, however, her performance caught the attention of cinematographer Devin Graham and the two started making music videos on YouTube. Stirling is now one of the most popular artists on the Internet and has three studio albums and multiple awards.
  • In 2003, a 13-year-old girl from just outside of Reading, PA spent her spring break in Nashville, TN trying to convince music producers to give her a chance to be a Country Music star. Every single one of them said that her planned target demographic, kids and teens, weren't listening to Country. That girl's name, you ask? Taylor Swift. For bonus points: Swift is credited with almost single-handedly bringing Country Music back to the mainstream and causing "Pop Music" to return to its origins as a blanket term used for music of any genre that achieves mainstream recognition and popularity.
  • In 1990, the hosts of KROQ's The Kevin and Bean Show made several episodes of a TV extension of their morning show, during which they introduce a brand new song called "Smells Like Teen Spirit." The two hosts then chuckle to themselves and state, "That is not a good name."
  • In the '80s at the height of Michael Jackson's solo success, he wasn't a fan of Hip-Hop and didn't incorporate its elements into his music like his sister had started doing, because he thought it would just be a passing fad. He did warm up to the genre in the '90s and especially the 2000s, but by then it was clearly an attempt to appeal to a younger audience.
  • In 2003 upon the release of Beyoncé's first solo album, Dangerously in Love, the New York Times described her as being "no Ashanti", claiming that she was much better with her Destiny's Child bandmates supporting her. Over a decade later and she is one of the best-selling artists of all time, with all of her solo albums debuting at the top of the charts. Ironically, Ashanti's career cooled off after her third album.
  • Felix Mendelssohn thought that the second part of his Festgesang cantata, celebrating Gutenberg and the invention of movable type, could become a popular song if someone wrote a different set of lyrics for it, but reportedly felt that "it will never do for sacred words". You know this piece: it's the melody of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing".
  • "Contrived." "Meandering and meaningless." "Continues to come off as wannabe Led Zeppelin." "A brazen hodgepodge." The band got these reviews in 1975? Queen. The song that they are referring to? "Bohemian Rhapsody."

    Politics 
  • Margaret Thatcher:
  • Richard Nixon. Two years after losing the 1960 presidential election to John F. Kennedy, Nixon ran for governor of California against incumbent Pat Brown but was defeated by a comfortable margin. The next morning, an exhausted Nixon gave his notorious "last press conference", lashing out against the media for discrediting his candidacy. Political pundits at the time claimed Nixon's political career was over and labeled him a sore loser. ABC even aired a documentary titled The Political Obituary of Richard Nixon a few days later. Six years later Nixon won the presidency, and in 1972 was re-elected carrying 49 out of 50 states. Though his second term didn't end well...
  • In 1958, a high school student named Robert G. Heft designed a new variation of the United States flag that had 50 stars to account for the addition of Hawaii and Alaska as states. He received a B-minus as a grade but made an agreement with his teacher that the grade would be upped to an A if it was accepted by Congress and made the official flag. Heft's design was selected from over 1,500 designs submitted, and his grade was adjusted.
  • Most American schoolkids learn about the first ten Amendments that make up the Bill of Rights, but less known is that there were two other amendments that were proposed – one of them was about prohibiting Congress from raising their own salaries until after an election. This did not get the required ratification of 3/4 of the states needed to make it a part of the constitution, but thanks to a 1939 Supreme Court ruling (Coleman v. Miller) it didn't die and could still become an amendment if enough states ratified it. Gregory Watson was an undergraduate studying at the University of Texas at Austin, who wrote a paper in 1982, a paper in which he got a "C" from his professor because she thought it was unrealistic. Ten years later, it's now the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution, over 200 years after it was first presented by Congress to the states for ratification, thanks in part to Watson's campaigning to have it ratified. When the professor (retired by then) heard of his successful efforts she submitted paperwork to have Watson's grade changed to an A.
    • The other forgotten amendment would set the size of the House of Representatives. By its own terms, it becomes meaningless after the U.S. population reaches ten million. There has been no campaign to revive it.
  • Arkansas governor Bill Clinton was considered a rising star in the Democratic Party in 1988 and was given a prime time speaking slot at the national convention. He gave a long, boring speech that even drew boos at one point – the Los Angeles Times referred to the speech as "nationally televised political suicide". After that, pundits agreed that he ruined whatever tiny chance he might have of ever becoming president. Four years later...
  • In January of 1989, Erich Honecker declared that the Berlin Wall would stand for a hundred more years. It fell that November.
    • In 1982, Brezhnev declared that "the unity of the Soviet Republics is stronger than ever". Within a decade the USSR had dissolved into independent states.note 
  • Unlike the vast majority of European intelligentsia of the time, the Spanish PM Count of Aranda predicted in 1783 that the newborn United States was not just going to last, but also become an expansionist, great power in the future, and that its very existence would stimulate the Spanish colonies to become independent nations of their own. As a preventive maneuver, Aranda advised King Charles III to divide the colonies between his sons and turn them into different kingdoms that would be tied in a web of alliances and look up to their Spanish counterpart as their superior, who would take the title of Emperor, with only the islands retained under direct Spanish leadership. The King responded that Aranda was exaggerating and that this kind of reforms was not needed. A century later, Spain only controlled the insular parts of its American empire, and soon after lost them to the United States.
    • Aranda's suggestion also presaged somewhat how the British Empire, and later, Commonwealth would operate: a system of independent states joined together through the British Monarchy (although the differences in details are quite substantial).
  • This 1924 New York Times article. In 1932 Blum and other French politicians thought Adolf Hitler would never have the chance to be in power after his recent electoral setbacks. In fairness to them, had the German conservatives not tried to use Hitler to prevent their own electoral collapse they'd have been right — by 1932 the Nazi party's support was waning and it was thought to be almost bankrupt (on the other hand, the decline was relative, as Nazis still held the largest parliamentary group even despite setbacks).
  • According to many historical accounts, Commodore Matthew C. Perry apparently didn't think very highly of his assignment from the US Navy in 1853 to help open diplomatic channels with a heavily isolated East Asian island chain that most Americans knew nothing about; like any good military man, he wanted a distinguished assignment that was likely to get him noticed by his superiors, and saw no reason to believe that his mission would ever be more than a historical footnote. Today, of course, we know that island chain as Japan, and we know that assignment as the Perry Expedition—the event that led directly to the Meiji Restoration and put Japan on the road to becoming one of the most important industrial superpowers of the 20th century.
  • The Labour Party leadership elections 2015 had four candidates: the center-left candidates Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper, the centrist candidate Liz Kendall, and the elderly, veteran, unapologetically socialist, anti-war and anti-nuclear campaigner and MP Jeremy Corbyn. Virtually everyone said that Corbyn had absolutely no chance, that his brand of politics had been dead since the 1980s and the membership wouldn't vote for anyone so utterly alien to mainstream UK politics. Such people promptly ate their words when Corbyn won handily with 59.5% of the vote. Not only that but in the snap elections of 2017 (which were predicted to be a Tory walk by the time they were called), Corbyn managed a better result for Labour than his two predecessors as leader and forced the Tories into a confidence and supply deal with the DUP.
  • When Donald Trump declared his candidacy for the 2016 US presidential election, almost everyone considered it a publicity stunt — mainly due to him not being a politician and his habit of making inflammatory public statements, which largely contributed to him ultimately deciding not to run in the 2012 election. He ended up being unexpectedly popular with a plurality of Republicans, building a supporter base among conservatives unsatisfied with the Republican party establishment; he was the frontrunner throughout the primary elections, and ultimately not only won the Republican nomination, but went on to upset the heavily-favored Hillary Clinton in the general election to become the 45th President of the United States, even though he lost the popular vote by almost three million votes.
  • Angela Merkel was seen as a non-entity and a political nobody when she was appointed as minister for women and youth (not families, which this ministry is usually in charge of, too but wasn't at the time) mostly to have a woman from the East in the first post-reunification cabinet. After the 1998 election loss of Kohl to Schröder, Merkel lost her job as minister of the environment and was seen by some as done for politically. However, a political donation scandal engulfed much of the West German leadership of her party and she could step in and sweep up (coincidentally at the same time the political career of Wolfgang Schäuble was considered over due to the scandal and he went on to serve as perhaps one of the most influential interior minister and later finance minister in post-war German history and took over as speaker of parliament after the 2017 elections) When she "lost" the spot of chancellor candidate in 2002 to Edmund Stoiber (and Stoiber promptly lost the election) people also were about to write her political obituary, but it was only in 2005 when with her at the helm, the CDU barely limped into first place, but Schröder gave a rambling, arrogant and disconnected from reality performance at a post-election press conference, costing him any credibility to lead a government, causing his party to enter into a grand coalition under Merkel's leadership. Merkel has governed since.
  • Shinzo Abe
    • After an embarrassing tenure rife with scandals as Prime Minister of Japan (which lasted a year until he came down with ulcerative colitis) that eventually led to their party's demise in the 2009 General Election, not even members within the Liberal Democratic Party thought he would win when he announced he would once again run for the party's leadership election, and many favored Shigeru Ishiba and Nobuteru Ishihara as the more likely party leader that will face the increasingly faltering Democrats come the next General Election. However, Abe managed to secure votes of several factions and came in second in the first vote, forcing the election into a run-off. He then managed to convince the party members who voted for Ishihara to vote for him, allowing him to become the first LDP leader to be voted back in after resignation.
    • Even after this, many political experts and pundits, who remembered how short his last tenure was, did not expect him to stick around as the PM for longnote . Nearly six years and several scandals later, the Abe administration is still going (relatively) strong, with him openly claiming that he's willing to stay the Prime Minister until 2021.
  • When Vladimir Putin became Boris Yeltsin's prime minister in 1999, hardly anyone knew who he was, and no one believed he would amount to anything (Yeltsin was going through primes at quite the rate at the time), aside from a statement by some guy from LDPR (the Russian party of trolls). Not so much with him finishing his second decade in power...

    Podcasts 
  • When Mike Duncan started The History of Rome in 2007, he thought it might be a hobby during his study days and he'd eventually get bored or nobody would listen to it and he'd abandon it. Ten years, two podcasts and a book deal later, he still shows no sign of abandoning Podcasting or Roman History

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Chris Jericho had one when he was working in Mexico. As he wrote in his Autobiography, he had a friend visit him in his hotel room with a kid "that looked to be 12 years old". When his friend started using colorful language, Jericho was worried about swearing in front of the kid, who then showed Jericho his ID, proving him to be 18. The youth went on to say that he was also getting into wrestling. Jericho thought that the kid had no future in the business and would be lucky to be working ring crew. That kid? Rey Mysterio Jr..
  • The sad part story of WCW. See, in 1989-1990, long before Bischoff got control of the company, there was this guy called "Mean" Mark Callous. Despite being everything a promoter could want in a wrestler at that time (a big man who could wrestle well), they never did anything meaningful with him. Mark, knowing how things would go if he stayed, asked for his release and jumped ship to the then-WWF. He was then repackaged, lasting with an unparalleled "streak" of decades of popularity, under another name — The Undertaker.
  • When CMLL received a jobber from International Wrestling in Quebec, they initially gave him the Vampiro gimmick as a joke. Little did they realize Vampiro would become popular enough to star in movies!
  • NWA World Superstars Wrestling, an attempt to make an "Americanized" version of New Japan Pro-Wrestling in 1993 naturally inspired this belief. WSW didn't catch on because it had to change its name due to confusion over the World Wrestling Federation, which had a television program called Superstars but Ring Warriors, as it would come to be known, got more viewers in Africa and Europe than both WCW and the WWF till founder Hiro Matsuda's death in 1999. Also, Ring Warriors would be the first wrestling company to stream matches online in 1997, a service people also thought would never catch on, however, Ring Warriors finally started to slowly gain a USA audience in 2011, when all major promotions streamed.
  • WCW had this attitude towards quite a few talents (As The Death of WCW put it, "You may be noticing a trend"), variously attributed to Eric Bischoff's lack of faith in people not named Kevin Nash or Hulk Hogan, and Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan's inability to let go of the spotlight. You could probably fill this page with a dozen examples involving Bischoff, ranging from letting future legends go – people who would later go to the WWF, become popular, win championships, and become the stars they knew they were, to poor match booking or promotional decisions (see Mick Foley, below). Eventually, this string of bad decisions led to the WCW's failure as a business, and buyout by its chief competitor, the WWF.
    • Reportedly, after jobbing out a "Stunning" to "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan in record time, WCW vice president Eric Bischoff had a phone conversation with the wrestler, who suggested a change in his character from Jerk Jock to no-nonsense '90s Anti-Hero. Bischoff told him: "[W]e can have you run around in your little black tights and your little black boots, but that just wouldn't be marketable," and then fired him. After a brief stint in ECW, that man went on to the WWF, where he met a manager who reluctantly listened to his character input, and ran around in his little black tights and his little black boots (and a little black vest, shaved his head, and grew a goatee) — and became one of the biggest wrestling superstars in the world: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
    • Bischoff took Jim Ross off of commentary because Ross was fat and Southern and wouldn't appeal to mainstream America. "J.R." then left for WWE. Jim Ross is now immortalized in the WWE Hall of Fame.
    • Add Chris Jericho to the list of easily recognizable faces Bischoff let get away. The scary part? He didn't see Jericho as a headliner... as of 2010, well after Jericho established himself as one of the most popular names in the history of the WWE.
      "Bischoff's right. I can't headline in TNA... cause I'm not in my 50s." – Jericho
    • Eric Bischoff (We weren't kidding about the dozen examples bit), along with Hulk Hogan and Goldberg, felt that a Squash Match between WCW World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg and WCW World Television Champion Chris Jericho would not have been a popular draw. The same Chris Jericho who would later win and unify the WCW World Heavyweight Championship with the WWF Championship to become the very first WWF Undisputed Champion, an even higher honor. One of those titles was won off of Steve Austin (see above).
    • Kevin Nash, while a booker in WCW dubbed many of the cruiserweights as "Vanilla Midgets," smaller wrestlers who could never hope to become popular main eventers and lacked any charisma. The WCW cruiserweight roster at the time included Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio Jr., the four of whom would go on to have a combined 12 reigns as world champion in the WCW or WWF/E. Others included Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko, who when leaving WCW for WWF with Guerrero and Benoit, formed the popular stable the Radicals.
    • With so much ammo to choose (or poach), Vince McMahon had a habit of taking so-called "Vanilla Midgets" and letting them do their thing back in the Attitude Era. It got to the point that by the end of WCW, practically the only main-eventer in WWE that wasn't a former WCW employee was The Rock... and that was only because he never worked for them.note 
  • Mick Foley thought this way of The Rock back when he was Rocky Maivia. To quote his book, Have a Nice Day!:
    "The next day, one of the guys asked for my impression of Rocky. 'Hey, he's a nice guy,' I said, 'but he just doesn't have it. The office should really cut their losses and get rid of the guy'. I had no idea I was talking about the future 'People's and Corporate Champion.'"
  • CM Punk briefly worked for CZW and TNA. They saw nothing in him. He then went on to be a five-time world champion and the longest reigning WWE Champion in the last twenty-five years.
  • So there was this young kid who really, really wanted to be a wrestler. He was well built but didn't have a distinct look. He was dedicated and hard-working, but a bit sloppy at times and tended to mix up moves. And he had, quote, "the charisma of a robot." That lead to his indie-league persona of "the Prototype", a cyborg-like concept, but after getting the bump up to the full WWF he just couldn't find a niche and nobody figured he'd be anything more than an overeager curtain-jerker. Then one Halloween episode he came out dressed as Vanilla Ice and started rap-dissing his opponent, being shockingly good at it. Thus began the career proper of the Doctor of Thuganomics, and for better or worse the John Cena train hasn't stopped chugging since.
  • Ring of Honor's own fanbase didn't want anything to do with Kevin Steen in 2005, nor were they particularly thrilled to see him come back, even with the backdrop of the hot CZW feud. By 2011, they couldn't cheer for Steen loud enough as he campaigned to destroy Ring Of Honor. The same could be said of Steen's Tag Team partner El Generico. What won the ROH fans over was putting them together as a tag team after they failed to impress as individuals and putting them against the Briscoe Brothers. The hardworking, hard-drinking chicken farmers from slower lower Delaware got to intimately verbalize everything the fans didn't like about the goofy French Canadians, who fans got into as they fired back.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Sure, Jim Henson hit it big with Sesame Street, but success with more adult fare? Let's take a look. Many on Saturday Night Live looked down on his work. Granted, those segments are criticized by even die-hard fans, but his puppetry work, in general, was also generally derided as "not ready for primetime." And what about that skit show starring a frog, pig, bear and... whatever? Oh right, almost everyone took a pass when it was being shopped around. And a later movie based on those very same characters? Few thought it would work — let alone be a smash hit and lead to a successful, continuing series.
  • According to TV producer John Lloyd, when trying to fill space on Not the Nine O'Clock News in 1979, he approached two artists known for producing sculpted caricatures of politicians for the newspapers and suggested that puppets in that style would be a good fit for satirical comedy. They weren't interested. A few years later, however, Fluck and Law would indeed work with Lloyd on Spitting Image.

    Sports 
  • In the 2010 World Series most analysts predicted the Texas Rangers would beat the San Francisco Giants, stating the Giants offense was too weak, only able to put only 2-3 runs up a game (with their superb pitching that's all they needed.) The Giants ended up beating The Rangers 4 games to 1. A ESPN state-by-state online poll showed that 49 states predicted that the Rangers would win. California, the Giants' home state, was the only one that had them in the majority to win.
    • History repeated itself in 2012 with most analysts favoring the Detroit Tigers over the Giants, stating specifically that the Giants would never be able to handle Tigers ace Justin Verlander. In the Series opener, Verlander lasted only four innings, giving up two home runs to Pablo Sandoval (who would hit a third that night as well), who isn't known as a big home run hitter. In fact, the Giants were dismissed pretty early on in the playoffs. They ended up facing elimination 6 times and went on to sweep the Tigers, 4 games to 0. (People who followed the Tigers closely were less surprised; Verlander had been showing signs of age and fatigue since August—to the point where most Tigers fans were more excited about games with Max Scherzer—and the Tigers bullpen was notoriously shallow.)
    • While a slight majority of analysts rooted for the Giants, most fans considered the Kansas City Royals would win (69 to 31 percent, sweeping all fifty states), as did betting houses (the Giants paid twice the amount of the Royals on Bet365 the day of Game 1). Although the predictions were based on baseball fundamentals (KC had been building up a solid team from its farm system for years), the opinions may have been skewed by the Royals' sudden appearance from nowhere and a sense that after decades of hovering at the bottom of the American League, it was "time" for the Royals to come back. However, fate would be on San Francisco's side once again, with the Giants narrowly defeating the Royals (3 to 2) in Game 7, becoming SF's third World Series in five years (and increasingly cementing the idea of the Giants as the Team of the '10s).
  • The Bay Area MLB teams are known for this: Oakland's legendary "Swinging A's" won the Series between 1972 and 1974. However, the NL teams (Reds in '72, Mets in '73 and Dodgers in '74) were the most favored in predictions (the Athletics were more noted for their internal tensions instead). However, Oakland trounced each of those teams to become one of baseball's biggest dynasties of The '70s.
  • They said he was too weak, too slow and that he would flounder in the NHL. The Great One was unfazed.
  • In the 1984 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers (who has the 2nd draft pick) drafted Kentucky center Sam Bowie ahead of some guy named Michael Jordan. (The Houston Rockets, who had the 1st draft pick, get a free pass: Hakeem Olajuwon was the No. 1 draft pick; although no Michael Jordan, Olajuwon was not a bad pick, especially for the Rockets—he led them to back-to-back championships the years Jordan was out of the NBA. Olajuwon eventually joined MJ in the Hall of Fame.)
    • Actually entirely justified from the Blazers' perspective. A less famous example from the year before justified the Bowie pick (in Portland's mind) because the Bulls had passed on the Blazers' 1st round pick: Clyde Drexler. (another then-future Hall of Famer who was already playing the same role on the court as Jordan would).
    • Unfortunately for Portland, they would make the same draft mistake again in 2007. They have the No. 1 draft pick, and they chose Greg Oden, who had been a star at Ohio State when healthy but had battled knee injuries all the way back to high school. Continued injuries to his knees and ankles derailed his career, while the Seattle SuperSonics, as they were still known at the timenote , drafted Kevin Durant with the number 2 pick.
    • The Bulls passed on Bill Cartwright (their starting center for the first three championship teams) in the 1980 draft before trading Charles Oakley to the Knicks for him.
    • And going back to Jordan, he was cut from his high school team in his sophomore year. One imagines that provided some motivation.
  • Joe Montana and Tom Brady would become one of the most successful quarterbacks of their respective generations in the National Football League, with them winning ten Super Bowls between them (Montana winning four of them, while Brady won six), despite only being drafted in the third (82nd overall, 1979) and sixth (199th overall, 2000) rounds, respectively.
    "Poor build. Very skinny and narrow. Ended the '99 season weighing 195 pounds and still looks like a rail at 211. Looks a little frail and lacks great physical stature and strength. Can get pushed down more easily than you'd like. Lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush. Lacks a really strong arm. Can't drive the ball down the field and does not throw a really tight spiral. System-type player who can get exposed if he must ad-lib and do things on his own." — Tom Brady's scouting report for the 2000 NFL Draft
  • The 1991 Atlanta Falcons drafted Brett Favre as a backup QB in the second round, 33rd overall, but coach Jerry Glanville did not approve of him. Favre only threw five passes for the Falcons, two interceptions (one for a touchdown) and not a single completion. The following year, he was traded to the Green Bay Packers and went on to be the Ironman of football, breaking nearly every passing record in the books, and retired as the winningest QB in the history of the NFL (later passed by Peyton Manning, who was in turn passed by Tom Brady).
  • Before 2008, it was common knowledge that the Spanish national football team would never get pass the quarter-finals, let alone win a tournament. Two consecutive Euros and one World Cup later, and they started looking like the Boring Invincible Hero instead, at least until 2014.
  • "Possesses minimal football knowledge and lacks motivation." – an early scouting report on NFL coach Vince Lombardi.
  • "Claudio Ranieri? Really?" Former Leicester City player Gary Lineker wasn't the only one skeptical of Ranieri's appointment as manager of his former team. Bookies also had him as the favorite to be the first manager of the 2015-16 Premier League season to be sacked. The relegation candidates ended up winning their maiden league title that season.
  • NASCAR:
    • While covering a televised practice session for the 2013 Sprint Showdown (the "last chance" race for drivers not already in the Sprint All-Star Race), Darrell Waltrip recalled the opening of the condominiums located by Turn 1 of Charlotte Motor Speedway, in 1984. After winning a race at the track in 1985, he had been offered his pick of any of the condo units for $75,000. His response was to say that no one would ever want to buy one because there was no interest in living at a racetrack. Within two years, the average price had jumped by $200,000; by 1991, a second condo suite had opened; and today, they go for upwards of a half-million dollars, with a lengthy waiting list to boot. Other tracks, including but not limited to Charlotte's sister tracks Atlanta and Texas, have installed their own condo suites.
    • During a practice session at Atlanta in August of 2014, Waltrip related the story of the time Rick Hendrick called him at the end of 1993 to ask him what he thought of Hendrick's new superstar, Jeff Gordon. Darrell bluntly told Rick that Jeff "would never make it" and referred to him as a "crash artist" because of how much equipment he had torn up in his rookie season on the circuit. That Atlanta race was the occasion of Gordon's 750th start in the Cup Series, in a Hall of Fame career that produced four championships, the fourth-best mark in series history, and 93 wins, 325 top fives and 477 top tens, all third-best in series history. Not to mention that all of Gordon's starts are consecutive from his debut at that same track in the 1992 season finale,note  which is the longest streak from the start of a career and would go on to become the longest streak of all time after surpassing Ricky Rudd's mark of 788 at the New Hampshire playoff race in 2015, ending with 797 at Homestead the same year, after which Gordon retired from racing full-time and joined Waltrip as an analyst for Fox Sports.
    • Gordon himself also ran into this later in his career, ironically with Hendrick being the reluctant party this time. In 2000, Gordon ran a race in what is now known as the Xfinity Series, NASCAR's junior league, at Michigan International Speedway, and found himself struggling with one driver in particular. This kid managed to pass Gordon on a late restart despite Gordon having by far a better car, surprising the more experienced driver. He went back to team owner Rick Hendrick and pushed him to sign the kid for the then-Winston Cup (now Monster Energy Cup) series; Hendrick was reluctant to field a fourth car, and after a few weeks of Gordon hounding him, finally offered Gordon a partnership to buy the fourth car himself, which Gordon gladly accepted. That kid's name was Jimmie Johnson, and he would go on to win over 80 races (placing him sixth on the all-time career wins lineup as of this writing) and become the second person to tie Richard Petty's record seven championship wins.
  • Formula One:
    • When Nigel Mansell left Lotus in 1984 after 4 years and no race wins. Peter Warr, the then-boss at the team, remarked to the press: "He'll never win a Grand Prix as long as I have a hole in my arse". Less than a year later, Mansell won his first Grand Prix, he then became one of the main championship contenders in 1986, 87 and 91 before finally taking the title in 1992. He held the record for the number of Grand Prix wins by a British driver for the next twenty years (before being de-throned by Lewis Hamilton) and is the only man ever to hold both the F1 title and the CART title at the same time.
    • The 1995 McLaren featured an unusual mid-wing on the engine cover, as well as a less-conventional shape on the rear of the cover itself, quickly becoming an object of ridicule within the paddock and the press who thought that it was pathetic how one of the great F1 teams would have to resort to such a gimmick. By the mid-2000s, it was unusual to see a team NOT running extra wings such as these on their cars. The wings were banned in 2009, yet by 2014 the rear of the engine covers on most cars bore a resemblance to that of the McLaren experiment.
    • Similarly, the 1997 Tyrrell was regarded as laughable within F1 circles. The car, as long-time fans may recall, ran an "X-Wing" configuration at several high-downforce circuits where 2 high supports with mini-wings on top were mounted on the sidepods. When the 1998 season came round with a massive amount of regulation changes, several teams struggled. Their response? X-Wings of their own! By the San Marino Grand Prix, Tyrrell, Prost, Jordan, Sauber and even FERRARI had used them. Eventually, someone at the FIA saw sense and banned them for "safety reasons" (a botched pitstop in San Marino supposedly the straw that broke the camels back) although it is generally accepted that they were simply banned for being ugly to look at.
  • At the 2011 national championships, an elite gymnast fell off the balance beam three times in one routine; experienced gymnastics reporter Lauren Hopkins described it as "watching a career die". The gymnast in question was Gabby Douglas, 2011 World team member, 2012 Olympic All-around champion and 2015 World All-around silver medalist.
  • Robert Kraft bought the New England Patriots in 1994 for $172 million, which was very expensive at the time for a historically awful team that saw itself try to move to two different cities under two previous owners (Victor Kiam and James Orthwein tried to move the Patriots to Jacksonville and St. Louis, respectively). Under Kraft's ownership, the Patriots became one of the most successful teams in the NFL, as they went to ten Super Bowls, winning six of them (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI, LIII), as well as having multiple ten or more winning seasons since 2003, a rare accomplishment in the league's era of free agency and the salary cap.
  • When German TV station Sat1 took over Super Bowl coverage, there were plenty of doubters saying they didn't have enough American Football experts on hand. Similarly were the skeptics when coverage was expanded to most of the Playoffs. When Ran NFL started few people gave it more than a year of life, what with having no recognizable faces besides Frank Buschmann (who isn't an American Football expert) and what with the "gimmicky" setup with a "netman" who above all has long hair and speaks in a Brandenburg dialect. As of 2017, numerous other stations wish any of their non-soccer sports coverage were even half as successful.
  • With the fourth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, New York Knicks fans were dismayed that the team drafted some guy from Europe that most people had never heard of and those in attendance made their feelings known by booing him. By his third season, Kristaps Porziņģis became the star of the team, one of the first players from that draft class selected to the All-Star Gamenote  and one of the NBA's most versatile players.
  • Sportscaster Michael Lombardi had zero faith in the hiring of first-time coach Doug Pederson. Comparing him to infamously bad basketball coach Roy Rubin and telling them it was a mistake. What did Pederson do? Oh, just take to Philly to the Super Bowl. Which they won. Against Tom Brady and the Patriots. In his second season.
  • Aaron Rodgers was the 25th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft (by the Packers), partly because he was seen as a "system quarterback" by various NFL scouts that came as a result of having Jeff Tedford coaching him at Cal; Tedford's quarterbacks at that point failed to perform well in the NFL. After replacing Brett Favre in the 2008 season, Rodgers would help the Packers win Super Bowl XLV in the 2010 season, as well as earning two NFL MVP awards.
  • Being a brand new expansion team filled with castoffs, no one expected the Vegas Golden Knights to do much in their inaugural season. Even team staff expected at least a 4-5 year span before they'd even entertain the thought of becoming a playoff team. What did Vegas do? Reach the Stanley Cup Finals. Despite losing in 5 games to Washington, they were the story of the hockey season.

    Tabletop Games 
  • After it flopped in Japan, many analysts doubted the viability of Bakugan succeeding in America. It became a huge hit getting new episodes before Japan did and even won an award for the best toy of 2009.
  • Gary Gygax pitched the first iteration of Dungeons & Dragons to various publishers of traditional board– and wargames. He was always turned down with some variation of "Why would anyone want to play a game that has no winner?"

    Theater 
  • Older Than Steam: When Romeo and Juliet premiered, supposedly one reviewer described it as "a mawkish melodrama which, God willing, will see no second performance."
  • Robert Greene, an Elizabethan playwright, wrote an autobiographical pamphlet, Greene's Groats-Worth of Wit, in which he decried all other playwrights of the age. He is now only remembered for the particular contempt he heaped on the "upstart crow" William Shakespeare.
  • As captured in the documentary Show Business: The Road to Broadway, Avenue Q was considered a risk by a lot of industry people on Broadway, who believed it to be a strange concept that had no chance of catching on and would probably close shortly after it opened. Then the play opened, and it became a critically acclaimed blockbuster with crossover appeal which ultimately won Best Musical at the 2004 Tonys.
    • For comparison, three other musicals opening that year were featured in that documentary. The first was Wicked which from the start was pegged to become a phenomenon, which it inevitably became. The other two? Caroline, or Change, the hotly anticipated new work from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, and Taboo, Boy George's autobiographical tribute to the New Romantic scene. Both wound up receiving the fate that some of the interviewees in the documentary had believed Avenue Q was going to get: Caroline, or Change, which was pegged to be the critical darling of the season, received middling reviews and closed after just 122 performances. Taboo, also tipped for success, premiered to scathing reviews and was chased off-Broadway after under 100 performances.
  • When Disney CEO Michael Eisner approached Disney Theatrical Group President Thomas Schumacher about adopting The Lion King into a Broadway musical, Schumacher thought it was "the stupidest idea he ever heard" and there was no way it would work. As of September 2014, the Broadway, West End, and all other productions have generated '$6.2 billion in revenue and several awards.
  • Agatha Christie herself believed that The Mousetrap would only last a few months. Six decades later...

    Theme Parks 
  • Back in its early days, Disney Theme Parks in general, when Walt was trying to get funding to build Disneyland. The critics couldn't have been more wrong. Demonstrated by Some Jerk with a Camera.
    Walt Disney: I want to build Me Land!
    Wealthy Businessman: You fool, that'll never work!
    Walt Disney: Hey, look, I built Me Land, and it worked!
    Wealthy Businessman: Good, now build more of them.
  • This was said a lot about the Futuroscope in France at the time of its beginning. It was even nicknamed "Monory's Madness" ("La Folie Monory", from the name of its main instigator, René Monory). But although it has known some difficult times, it is now more than 30 years old, and one of the most visited amusement parks in France (after Disneyland Paris, and along the Parc Asterix and Le Puy du Fou).

    Toys 
  • A (likely apocryphal) story says that Mego Corporation was the first company approached to make Star Wars toys, but it turned down the offer on the grounds that "there's no money in doing toys for every flash-in-the-pan sci-fi B-movie". Kenner took a chance on the Star Wars license instead, and history was made. History that doesn't include Mego, as they went bankrupt in 1982.

    Video Games 
  • This trope is so ingrained in Nintendo's entire history as a video game company that the phrase "Nintendo is doomed" is now impossible to take seriously, even though people keep spouting it at the start of nearly every generation.
    • When the NES was first brought to the U.S., it was laughed at due to the industry still recovering from The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 and the idea that the system wasn't 'complicated enough'. So they had to package it with R.O.B. the robot to basically pretend it wasn't a video game system, just to get a test launch for it! Two guesses which part of the package is now credited for single-handedly reviving the home video game console industry in North America and the first one doesn't count. Example article here: "Nintendo's Final Solution".
    • One magazine said that the Game Boy (which had a monochrome screen) "was an insult to the average consumer's intelligence" and "The Game Gear and Lynx (both of which had color screens) will make short work of it." But thanks to longer battery life on fewer batteries and games like Tetris, the Game Boy succeeded, and started Nintendo's handheld dominance that it still holds to this day.
    • Nintendo themselves fell victim to this when designing the Nintendo 64 controller. Nintendo predicted that the analog stick would never be used by third-party game makers, and so they left the directional pad at the "standard" left-hand position and placed the analog stick on a third branch in the middle. The analog stick went on to become the main input method for the vast majority of games on the console, with the d-pad almost universally ignored except as an occasional left-hand alternative to the four C-buttons. Nintendo's competitors quickly launched their own controllers with analog sticks, and every major console since then has included at least one analog stick on its controller.
    • Rumble packs? At the time, Nintendo made it an optional removable peripheral for the N64 because they were worried players would find vibrating controllers too heavy and uncomfortable. This became such a staple of console controllers that when Sony attempted to release the PlayStation 3 with a non-rumble controller, worried that rumble would interfere with its motion controls (and claiming rumble was outdated anyway), they quickly had to release a DualShock 3 controller with rumble functionality after fan backlash.
    • In 1996, Nintendo actually said this about a certain pair of "monster-collecting" games, even writing it off as a loss. This was due to the rather unremarkable initial sales, in a market where 80% of the sales are made in the first two weeks. Instead it kept selling steadily, and over twenty more main games, several Spin-Off video game series, a Long Runner anime series, multiple manga series, countless movies, and many other things later... Pokémon also suffered this from the general public. To adults and teens outside of the target demographic, it was seen as just another short-lived fad. This can be seen in numerous Phonýmon parodies from the late 1990s and early 2000s. While the fad days have long since passed, the series itself has never fallen off the radar. It continued to be a Cash Cow Franchise even after the fad died and is still one of the top gaming franchises over twenty years after it began.
    • When Metroid Prime was first announced, it was immediately set upon for turning the Metroid series, one-half of the trope namer for Metroidvania, into a First-Person Shooter, and for handing the series over to Retro Studios, a new and unknown Texas-based company whose planned non-Metroid projects had all been canceled. Many were quick to call it the death of Metroid just from screenshots alone. Cue its release, and it's now hailed as one of the best games of all time, and a very worthy addition to the franchise.
    • When Satoru Iwata first joined video-game developer HAL Laboratories, his parents were furious. He later became the president of Nintendo, leading the company through its profitable Wii and Nintendo DS era.
    • When the Nintendo DS was first revealed, everyone thought that the company's two-screened oddity would never work and that Sony's much more powerful PlayStation Portable would push Nintendo out of the dedicated gaming portable market. Even Nintendo themselves were worried that it wouldn't catch on and labeled it as the company's "third pillar" alongside the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo GameCube in case of failure. The PSP eventually sold a more than respectable 80 million... while the Nintendo DS sold over 150 million, becoming the second best-selling gaming system of all time.
    • The introduction of the Nintendo Wii motion-sensing controller invited lots of derisive skepticism from gamers at the time. Years later, both Sony and Microsoft created new peripherals that allow for motion-controlled gaming on their consoles, and the Wii is the best selling home console of its generation.
      • In 2006, Gamespot predicted that the Wii (then still known by its codename, the Nintendo Revolution) would win the Console Wars in the Seventh Generation, and more importantly, they predicted the exact reasons why it would win.note  The kicker is that they wrote the article as an April Fools' Day joke. The comments section, which is filled mostly with people writing after the Wii did, in fact, beat the PS3 and 360 in a landslide, is glorious. Furthermore, a mock forum conversation brought up near the end had a pro-Sony commenter saying "Zelda is like totally lame. Final Fantasy, now that's a series that can carry a console." Not only would The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, but a Wii launch title, end up being the Zelda series' biggest console-selling Killer App up to that point, the Final Fantasy series also ended up going through a Dork Age in the subsequent console generation that saw sales dip down.
    • Super Smash Bros. was not expected to do very well. After all, the original Smash in N64 was a mere side project for Masahiro Sakurai to work during weekends and it had virtually No Budget during development as a result. To the surprise of the company, it was a huge hit to the point that when the Nintendo Gamecube, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, and Nintendo Switch were unveiled, they all came with the explicit promise of a new entry in the fighting game series.
    • Splatoon was the first Nintendo franchise designed specifically with an online multiplayer mindset and got derided by the general public pre-release for being Lighter and Softer in comparison to other online shooters and for lacking voice chat functionality. The first game ended up being one of the best-selling games for the Wii U and a Killer App for the console in Japan.
    • The Nintendo Switch. The reveal of the Switch in 2016 was on the mixed side, especially following the Wii U's underperformance. Now, the Switch outsold the Wii U in the first year of Switch's release. Nintendo's stock also rose to its highest price in seven years, and the console has garnered plenty of support from third party developers that had largely sat out the Wii U era. Switch also quickly gained a reputation for being incredibly indie-friendly for a home console when compared to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. This, coupled with major game releases such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey has led many to conclude that Nintendo is the gaming world's winner of 2017 by a considerable margin.
  • Famed video game designer Eugene Jarvis had this happen to him with his very first game, Defender. When the game made its debut at the 1980 AMOA expo, almost nobody thought that the game would do well, due to its complex control scheme. Instead, they thought that the maze game Rally-X would be huge. Nowadays, nobody remembers Rally X outside of an occasional appearance on a Namco Museum compilation, while Defender sold 50,000 arcade cabinets and is fondly remembered.
    • Those same expo attendees also dismissed Pac-Man as too repetitive, and again cited Rally X as the best game at the show. Makes you wonder what they saw in Rally X...
  • Hideo Kojima was apparently told: "Hiding from your enemies? That's not a game!" Then, well...
  • Sega of Japan's CEO Hayao Nakayama was presented an idea by Sega of America that the company could jointly produce and market with a second party a videogame console that used optical discs, with the two companies splitting whatever losses were made by the system. Nakayama called it a stupid idea on the basis that the second party had no experience developing videogame-based software or hardware. The second party in question was Sony, who had formally worked with and was sidelined by Nintendo on what would have been a CD-based add-on for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (ironically, an idea inspired by the Sega CD). Sony ultimately continued the project by themselves, which debuted onto the videogame scene as the Sony PlayStation – a disc-based videogame console that dominated The Fifth Generation of Console Video Games. Both the PS1 and successor PS2 would also be successful enough to help drive Sega out of the console business.
  • Sega's CEO hoped Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games would sell 4 million (for both versions of the first game). The gaming press laughed at him. The first game sold over 12 million copies for both versions, which later games continuing to be million-sellers.
  • ScrewAttack believed Sonic Colors would be a Franchise Killer after the polarizing reception to Sonic the Hedgehog 4. They were wrong. And even gave it a very high score.
  • Final Fantasy I was thought to be this by its own creators – it was intended to be the swansong for the entire company. Thirty years (and counting), fourteen flagship titles, several dozen spinoffs, gaiden games and sequels, and two movies later? Well let's just say this Fantasy is far from Final.
  • The Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game console, used cartridges, but not in the way that we're used to them today; instead of having the game itself on the cartridge, it just rearranges the circuitry in the console to vary the game. Near the end of the Odyssey's run, its inventor, Ralph Baer, suggested that Magnavox should manufacture "active" cartridges with additional circuitry to vary the gameplay and create more elaborate games. His superiors dismissed the idea as "not worth the effort."
  • One Italian gaming magazine wrote something along the lines of "From what I've seen the game doesn't seem too bad, but I'm ready to bet this Half-Life will be forgotten in a heartbeat".
  • COMPUTE!'s Guide to Adventure Games, from 1984, includes a chapter that speculates about how adventure games might possibly look in the future. Apparently, the games played by "your grandchildren" will be simply Interactive Fiction, except with better writing, a more intelligent parser and, who knows, maybe voice-controlled! The idea that they might be mostly visual is dismissed since it would take too much memory to record that many full-motion video cutscenes for every possible action.
    • To be fair, the very same chapter does state near the end that "all these speculations about the future will undoubtedly be proved wrong in many details."
  • The Xbox, full stop: The press, people like Hiroshi Yamauchi (Nintendo's then CEO) and almost everybody in the Western world thought that designing a console will never be a job ever again for anyone outside Japan, after the colossal flop that the Atari Jaguar was six years prior. Now Microsoft is currently supporting the third iteration of the console, after the success of the previous two generations.note 
  • Shu Takumi, the creator of Ace Attorney (known as Gyakuten Saiban in Japan), among other series, apparently got this when he proposed the idea for the protagonist of his new detective-based, mystery-solving game being a lawyer. Fast forward over 15 years and the series has 6 main games, two spin-offs, a crossover, a cinema movie, musicals, manga, an anime, art books, and a hefty fan base both in and out of Japan.
  • On the "making of" featurette found on Mega Man Anniversary Collection, Keiji Inafune claims Capcom had zero faith in his game and told him it would never catch on. He then goes on to admit that if he had been in their place, he would have said the same thing.
  • Digital Illusions CE's Pinball Dreams was rejected by Bitmap Brothers (one of the biggest Amiga developers) publisher Renegade because they thought pinball games wouldn't sell. The game was published by 21st Century Entertainment and became one of the best sellers in the later period of the Amiga's popularity and was converted to several platforms of the time, such as DOS and the SNES.
  • Kingdom Hearts. Just about everyone made fun of the concept and believed that such a strange collaboration (between Square Enix and Disney) just wouldn't work... until they actually played the game. Fifteen years later, the series is currently one of Square's biggest franchises, with number ten coming.
  • In an interview with Game Informer, Infinity Ward, one of the developers of the Call of Duty series, admitted that the first Modern Warfare was deemed this by Activision in the middle of development, always being put down and told it wouldn't work because World War II shooters were still in style to a degree and that was what the franchise should stick to – in fact, what became Modern Warfare was the second game they wanted to do, and they had to agree to do another WWII-based Call of Duty beforehand in order to get development kits for the Xbox 360. Then the first Modern Warfare easily outsold all of its predecessors, spawned a lengthy trend of sequels, reinvigorated the genre as well as expanded the franchise's name to casual audiences, and caused a new wave of modern day military shooters.
    • It also created a sort of irony with the direct follow-up by Treyarch, World at War (made as a fallback in case Modern Warfare's shift to the present day didn't stick), being derided by critics as being just yet another World War II shooter as well as a reskin of Modern Warfare, and only even sold as well as it did primarily because of Nazi Zombies. This industry opinion turnover was so large that it happened in just one year.
    • Happened again in reverse four years later with Call of Duty: Black Ops II, this time Treyarch brought forth a wave of futuristic shooters from the 2025 sections, while Infinity Ward's Ghosts wasn't as well received for being seen as too similar to the Modern Warfare trilogy, and gave futuristic shooters their time in the market limelight (although according to everyone after Infinite Warfare's trailer, the series needs to go back to its roots, which is why everyone only bought Infinite Warfare for Modern Warfare Remastered).
  • No one, not even Kensuke Tanaka, the producer of Kantai Collection, thought the number of Admirals (players) would exceed 50,000 when the game was launched in April of 2013. In fact, he stated in several interviews that he had initially planned to launch a final event, with the enemy making an invasion and destroying everything, before folding the game on August 15thnote . The number of Admirals exceeded 3 million as of May 2015, and the popularity of this game has helped models of the ships the characters were based on to find a new market.
    • Within the fandom, admirals were not excited about the fact that one of the new ships that were to be added for the Fall Event in 2015 was the 2nd ship of the Katori-class training cruiser, Kashima, due to how Katori's stats were not that great compared to other cruisers, and that the bonus XP she gave during PvP exercises were not that great. She ended up becoming so popular that she got several limited character graphics since, and her Fan Nickname has become "Queen of Ariake" after she became the subject of so many doujinshis immediately after she was added in the game.
  • After the release of the first John Madden Football, EA's management was interested in developing a sequel, but they were told by market researchers and retailers that "you can't sequel sports games". Two decades later, Madden is one of the most successful video game series of all time, and annualized sports games are the rule rather than the exception.
  • DONTNOD Entertainment, the makers of Remember Me and Life Is Strange, had to fight to get female protagonists into both games, as publishers felt that male gamers wouldn't want to play as a woman. In the case of Life is Strange, they went with Square Enix as a publisher simply because they were the only studio that wasn't telling them to change Max Caulfield into a boy. While Remember Me got a fairly mixed reception, Dontnod's doggedness paid off handsomely with Life is Strange, which won acclaim as one of the best games of 2015, at least partly on the strength of its story.
  • When George Wood of Gaming in the Clinton Years reviewed GoldenEye (1997), he said at one point that he can't review the multiplayer because he only had one controller, then brushes it off by stating that "no one buys a game specifically for multiplayer options" (interestingly mirroring how the multiplayer itself was a last-minute addition thrown together in a couple of hours, and only remained in the game because anybody who'd want it gone didn't notice it until it was too late). GoldenEye ended up becoming one of the most successful console FPSes in the '90s primarily because of its multiplayer. And nowadays, damn near everyone who plays FPSes plays 'em for the multiplayer, to the point that it's a shock when something like Wolfenstein: The New Order comes out without multiplayer.
  • One of the last games released for the original PlayStation was a First-Person Shooter based on Alien: Resurrection, which featured an experimental control scheme. GameSpot's review, which ultimately gave the game a 4.7 out of 10, calls the game's control setup "its most terrifying element" – and then goes on to describe what any gamer will immediately recognize as the standard dual analog control scheme used by every single console FPS made since the turn of the millennium. For a double whammy, the review ends recommending that fans of FPSes or the Alien franchise wait for Aliens: Colonial Marines instead. That game's page can speak for itself.
  • When G4TV merged with Tech TV, it introduced a lot of fans of the latter to a show called "Arena", which was just some people playing multiplayer games against each other, with commentary. Some people felt that there was no future in watching someone else play video games. As far as anyone can tell, the Let's Play was invented a few years later, and now Pewdiepie's a zillionaire, Twitch streaming is huge, and eSports are so popular that some get broadcast on TV.
  • Once upon a time, a tired and discouraged developer decided to make one more game before ending his gaming career and went on Kickstarter to get it funded. It made a total of ZERO dollars. Not to mention, his previous games had gotten heavily panned. He still managed to get the game released and hoped for the best. The game in question? Five Nights at Freddy's.
  • Andrzej Sapkowski, the author of The Witcher book series, sold the rights to make video games based on his books to CD Projekt RED for a lump sum of less than $10,000, believing that the games wouldn't sell well enough to justify asking for royalties based on sales. In interviews given after the success of the game series, Sapkowski naturally expresses regret at this arrangement.
    Sapkowski: I was stupid enough to sell them rights to the whole bunch. They offered me a percentage of their profits. I said, ‘No, there will be no profit at all — give me all my money right now! The whole amount.’ It was stupid. I was stupid enough to leave everything in their hands because I didn’t believe in their success. But who could foresee their success? I couldn’t.
  • When the PC creativity game Barbie Fashion Designer was being set for release, the creators were met with skepticism at a girls-oriented computer game doing any well. When the producer was trying to sell it to major stores, an executive at Toys R Us reportedly told her, "Girls are never going to buy this". It ended up not only becoming a surprise commercial success at release, but it also ended up outselling both Quake AND Command & Conquer: Red Alert that year, and ended up influencing more publishers to look into a girls-targeted market of PC gaming.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Videos 
  • Achievement Hunter:
    • An example with their Tower of Pimps. Beginning as drunken buffoonery on the part of Gavin Free in episode 2 of Let's Play Minecraft, using loads of Ray's gold to build four gold blocks and place them outside a house. When it is torn down by the others, he declares that the Tower of Pimps was not a success. In later videos, this became the prize for winning competitions in their Let's Play Minecraft episodes, and even became an Ascended Meme in Minecraft itself.
    • In the "Halo 4: Terminus Achievement Guide", Gavin messes up his mic test and accidentally calls himself "Vav". Later, we get this as part of a Seinfeldian Conversation between Gavin and Ray:
      Gavin: Do people ever call you "X-Ray"?
      Ray: No. Under no context does anybody call me "X-Ray". Why would they call me "X-Ray"? Because Ray is my name?
      Gavin: New nickname!
      Ray: [laughs] Let's see if that sticks.
    • Less than a month later, not only did "X-Ray and Vav" become their official team name within Achievement Hunter, but they developed a complex backstory for the nicknames as the aliases of a duo of wannabe superheroes, which Rooster Teeth made into a cartoon two years later.

    Western Animation 
  • Eddie Selzer, the second producer for Looney Tunes, was notorious for this, to the point that the animators typically worked off the assumption he was never right about anything and did the opposite of what he suggested. He made a claim that a certain romantic French skunk wasn't funny, only to accept the Oscar for the Pepé Le Pew short, For Scent-imental Reasons. He claimed that bullfights weren't funny either, causing Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese to create what ended up becoming one of Bugs Bunny's more memorable cartoons, Bully for Bugs. He also felt that the Tasmanian Devil was too obnoxious of a character and ordered no more cartoons made featuring him. It wasn't until studio boss Jack Warner asked him to make more that he complied.
  • When the cast of a now-classic newspaper comic first received a cartoon, they did so with actual children's voices, no Laugh Track, and even a reading of The Bible incorporated into the middle. CBS executives saw the special and told the producers that while they already had a slot reserved for weeks, they would probably never air any cartoons of that comic again. Surprisingly, nearly 50% of American TV viewers tuned in to the special, it would later win a Peabody, and several other Peanuts cartoons would air for decades.
  • Two relatively unknown animators pitched their idea for a show to network after network for sixteen years, only for them to be told again and again that its premise was too complicated to work in children's television. Eventually, on a whim, Disney picked up the show for 26 episodes. The result? Well, let's just say that after an eight-year run, Phineas and Ferb did, indeed, do it all.
  • In 2009, Hasbro, impressed with their success in rebooting Transformers, gave a veteran female animator the challenge of giving another franchise of theirs the same treatment. Many people believed that it would be just another saccharine toy commercial, much like the franchise's previous incarnations. Despite this, The Hub aired the pilot episode on the channel's first broadcast date, October 10, 2010. What no one counted on, however, was a little site called 4chan discovering the episode, to discover that not only was it better than what had come before and was actually watchable, but also that they liked it. The resulting fandom spread across the Internet like wildfire, and nine seasons, one spin-off franchise, one theatrical movie, an ongoing comic book adaptation, and tons of merchandise (and millions of dollars) later, and it's the longest-running TV show in Hasbro's history, and a cultural touchstone of the 2010s. Who would have thought a show called My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic would become such a pop culture juggernaut?
    • Ironically, one of the key factors in the show's current popularity was one particular such complaint. The sensationalist nature of the article "The End of the Creator-Driven Era in TV Animation," which infamously claimed, "Watching names like Rob Renzetti and Lauren Faust pop up in the credits of a toy-based animated series like My Little Pony is an admission of defeat for the entire movement, a white flag-waving moment for the TV animation industry" (the possibility that the show might actually be good apparently having never crossed the author's mind), attracted the attention of 4chan's /co/ board. Many who would never have otherwise watched a show aimed at young girls were driven by their subsequent curiosity to do just that, and the discovery that the show not only wasn't bad but was, in fact, excellent, led to its spread across the board, the rest of 4chan, and soon the entire internet.
    • PvP produced this comic in 2002, noting that while many 1980s properties might be revived, My Little Pony would not be one of them. Cue the massive fandom for Friendship is Magic eight years later, who naturally dug the comic back up to laugh at.
  • In the late 90s, a cartoonist went to Nickelodeon executives with a cartoon idea. The executives thought it was an absurd idea and thought it would never become popular. After having the pilot episode pitched to them though, the executives stepped out of the room because they were exhausted from laughing. They picked it up and it became extremely popular during its second and third seasons, spawning tons of merchandise and displacing Rugrats as the channel's most successful property. What was this cartoon? SpongeBob SquarePants.
  • Lou Scheimer recounted through interviews that the major networks passed on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), skeptical of it being a success. When CBS, NBC, and ABC turned it down, he decided to have it air in the first-run syndication through various independent TV networks across the USA – a move unheard of at the time. When the show turned out to be a smash hit, Scheimer recalled that the major networks became angry and wouldn't speak to him.
  • Adventure Time's pilot was originally created for a shorts program meant to air on Nickelodeon. When it was decided to pitch the show for a potential series, the show was rejected for being too random, with the network demanding numerous changes for them to even consider greenlighting it. Creator Pen Ward refused and Nickelodeon eventually gave him the rights to the show back, at which point he pitched it to his new employer, Cartoon Network, who immediately ordered two seasons. Fast-forward a few years and Adventure Time is a Cash Cow Franchise credited not only as being the show to rescue the channel from its Network Decay, but also as the genesis for more creative and serialized storytelling in television Western Animation as a whole, winning countless awards. Swing and a miss, Nick.

    Other 
  • The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation, published in 1984 by Christopher Cerf and Victor Nevasky, is an entire book of quotations by experts being wrong, either through a lack of information or a lack of imagination. Lord Kelvin practically gets a section of his own.
  • After Darwin's paper on Natural Selection — the precursor to On the Origin of Species — was first made public before the Linnean Society on July 1, 1858, Thomas Bell later remarked in the annual presidential report presented in May 1859 that "The year which has passed has not, indeed, been marked by any of those striking discoveries which at once revolutionize, so to speak, the department of science on which they bear." And to some degree, he was right — scientists had long suspected that evolution was happening, and all kinds of mechanisms had been suggested before. Of course, natural selection went into a long recession not that long afterward, as it wasn't until the (re)discovery of Mendelian genetics that anyone could figure out how new traits could be passed down without being diluted out of existence.
  • According to legend, Fred Smith, later founder of FedEx, pitched his idea for a mailing company as a college assignment and failed it because the teacher found it "unrealistic" or "unworkable".
    "I don't really remember what grade I got. I probably didn't get a good one though, because it wasn't a very well thought out paper." — Fred Smith on his college paper.
  • In 1930, Robert Millikan, of the oil drop experiment fame, wrote in his book Science and the New Civilization that liberating energy from the disintegration of atoms was "from the one point of view a childish Utopian dream and from the other a foolish bugaboo." Fifteen years later, he was proven wrong in the most spectacular possible way.
  • JEM Rubber Co offered the idea of the whoopee cushion to S.S. Adams Co. but was rejected, with Adams claiming it was "too vulgar" and would never sell. Instead, the Johnson Smith Company accepted the offer and sold them to great success. Adams went on to copy them with the Razzberry Cushions.
  • There once was a young man who wasn't quite sure about which subject he should study. He was torn between music and physics. One professor he approached about this problem urged him to take music because in the field of physics "everything has already been discovered". Despite this, the young man decided to become a physicist. 45 years later, the not-so-young-anymore man — whose name was Max Planck — received a Nobel Prize. Today, he's known as one of the main people responsible for discovering quantum physics and has several institutes, a prize, and a physical constant named after him.
  • Wendy's founder Dave Thomas said in one interview that he had never expected Wendy's to have more than five locations at most. As of 2010, he was off by about 6,650.
  • Heinz Guderian mentioned few times in his different books that he had a hard time convincing higher-ups in German military about the concept of mobile warfare and wide use of tanks. Everyone rebuked him with lines close to "Tanks and trucks? Just a fad, cavalry is the only mobile force needed". And that was after World War I, the same war that proved just how much cavalry is useless in modern combat (the poor horses can never carry enough armor to avoid getting torn to shreds by modern weapons, and "mounted infantry" provide few advantages different from motorized or mechanized infantry). Now try to find a person who won't connect Blitzkrieg tactics with Nazi Germany.
    • Guderian's role in the development of the German tank arm is much exaggerated. While his book Achtung Panzer was indeed revolutionary, it was also his first publication on tank warfare, published only in 1937. During the early 1920s, other German military officers, such as Ernst Volckheim (who led the first experimental German tank unit into battle during World War I), were already formulating parameters of the future German tank arm and they were influential enough for the top brass to set up a secret test center in Russia where they could experiment on tank designs and tactics with the Soviets.
    • The actual innovation that Guderian proposed was using tanks as a separate unit while supported by infantry. Standard tank doctrine dating back to WWI was that tanks were to be widely dispersed to support infantry, envisioning them as helping infantry units to break through trenches. Many other military minds had advocated the same thing, but Guderian gets a lot of the credit for actually putting it into practice in Poland and especially in France where his tactics defeated a much larger army in a far shorter time period than anyone expected (with helpful assists from a panicked French government).
    • It is also debatable whether or not there was a concept of "Blitzkrieg" as an overall doctrine. Guderian's main contributions were tactical: the strategy of maneuver warfare was familiar to the German military, and it could be argued that this was merely a technological evolution of doctrines dating from the mid-19th century.
      • Blitzkrieg was born of necessity rather than previous innovation. Hitler demanded the successful invasion of Poland and France (something that Germany spent four years and millions of lives trying to do during WWI). To top it all off, the German industry was incapable at the time of supporting a total war, meaning if it wasn't done quickly, it wouldn't be done at all. Nobody expected such a crazy plan to work, yet it totally caught on.
  • In the eighteenth century, Thomas Malthus became one of the first people to raise concern about the danger of overpopulation. He predicted that the world would run out of food by 1890.
    • Although, to be fair, a modified version of Malthus' theory did gain some currency in the 20th century.
  • When Ronnie Barrett was attempting to develop the now-famous .50-caliber anti-material rifle that shares his name early in The '80s, he ran into this hurdle. After sketching what the weapon would look like, he approached multiple machine shops with his design. Almost everyone he visited told him that if such a weapon was in any way a good idea, someone smarter would have already designed it.
  • An Italian immigrant to the US once thought up an idea for a centralized commercial and residential telephone directory, "The Trader's Guide", but everyone shot him down – that is, except a Spanish telephone company, who replied him using an International Reply Coupon (IRC). Thus, he, after discovering that such IRCs were paid at the cost of postage in the country of origin and could be exchanged for stamps in the country of redemption, and that post-WWI inflation had devalued the US$ value of stamps in his country, Italy, so that he could make over 400% profit, he borrowed money and asked relatives in Italy to send him some IRCs. However, he ran into some red tape, so he asked his friends to invest some money in his idea. It would grow and grow so many times over that he became rich and didn't bother with IRCs anymore – he just repaid older investors with money from newer ones. This collapsed and the immigrant's name, Charles Ponzi, would become forever associated with similar schemes. Later, the Yellow Pages were introduced, taking influence from Ponzi's Trader's Guide.
  • In 1962, Lou Groen created the Filet-O-Fish, a fish burger with cheese for McDonald's, in response to Catholics not eating red meat on Fridays. However, company owner Ray Kroc thought the Filet-O-Fish would never sell and believed his own burger, the Hula Burger, a burger with grilled pineapple and cheese, would be a much bigger hit. Both men made a bet where they sold their burgers in two different locations to see who can sell the most, with the winner getting their burger added to the McDonald's menu. As you can guess, Groen won the bet. And to add insult to injury for Kroc, not only was the Filet-O-Fish a hit with Catholics but also with Muslims and Jews as well.
  • The Japanese Chindōgu is basically about making useless inventions, like duster slippers for a cat so that it can clean the floor while walking. A book on these came out in 1995... it included the selfie stick.
  • Paul Winchell, best known as the first voice of Tigger, was an inventor as well as an actor and in 1963 he attempted to patent the idea of disposable razors. At the time disposable razor blades were common, but the idea of a full razor that would be used only once and be thrown away was ridiculous so the patent was refused.
  • Sometime in the early 1990s, an American aspiring actor named Jason Geiger went to a talent agency for help with scoring his first role. An avid martial artist, Geiger hoped to put his skills to use in an action series with plenty of stunt work. His agent's first piece of advice to him was that he adopt a stage name since she thought "Jason" sounded too ordinary and whitebread for an action hero. The agent's advice seemed pretty ironic a few years later, when Geiger (professionally known as "Austin St. John" by then) actually did score his first major role—as Jason the Red Ranger on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
  • Cicero once outlined the various theories about how matter and the universe are structured, detailing evidence for and against each one... except for Democritus's atomic theory, which he felt was so obviously wrong he didn't need to bother disproving it.

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