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Audience-Alienating Premise

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"Your average parent isn't likely to take their brood to a kids' movie billed as 'from the director of Raging Bull', while your average Scorsese fan probably isn't going to get much pleasure from seeing Sacha Baron Cohen crash into a cake."

"I simply don't care a damn what happens in Nebraska, no matter who writes about it."
A now-forgotten critic on the book O Pioneers!

Some shows never stood a chance. Not necessarily because they're bad, but because the very concept scared people away. This is the Audience Alienating Premise. An idea that could be cool and could even make a fantastic show, book, movie, video game or comic, and may very well have, but which instead dooms the work from the very start due to the mere concept being a difficult sell. Sadly, due to how it "sounds", many people won't try it out.

This can play out in the inherent struggles with trying to get people excited with niche genres (horror films with Squick and Nausea Fuel), foreign material that doesn't translate well (comedies with puns based on the native language), genres that were killed off some time ago (blaxploitation can only exist today in parody), adaptations of an existing property with a built in stigma (Peter Pan is for kids because of the Disney movie), trying to appeal to too many demographics at the same time (making only that part of the film intelligible to its target audience), or the execution itself takes things in an unexpected direction.


Note that this is not a judgement call on the work itself. Marketing itself can be entirely at fault, trying to sell it as something more generic when it has plenty of other qualities to offer. Sometimes attempts to mimic styles popular from other cultures comes off as too different for audiences to understand and appreciate, even though it is a fine example of that genre in its own right. In many cases an oddball work is shunned on release only to become a Cult Classic, often being either Vindicated by Video or Vindicated by Cable. Simply having an off-sounding premise doesn't immediately qualify for this trope, as sometimes a movie inspired by 1930s pulp space adventures or psychedelic rock with horror themes ends up being wildly successful anyway. Compare that to It Will Never Catch On.

Associated tropes and genres include:


  • Exploitation Film — Excessive violence and/or sexual content can be very off-putting.
  • Sadist Show — It can be difficult to enjoy a work where people constantly get screwed over.
  • Gross-Out ShowToilet Humour isn't to everyone's tastes.
  • Black Comedy — Not everyone likes jokes about death and other things that most people are disturbed or horrified by.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy — A work is unlikely to attract an audience if the story is too bleak and depressing and/or the main characters are unsympathetic.
  • Oscar Bait — "I don't want to watch the superhero movie, I want to watch yet another movie about The Holocaust!" is quite A Rare Sentence to be said without sarcasm.
  • Anything excessively Darker and Edgier or Lighter and Softer than, or otherwise inconsistent with, the source material (particularly if said adaptation is In Name Only.)
  • Anything revolving entirely around graphic violence — For a lot of people, it's not thrilling, just gross and disturbing.
  • Crossovers between incompatible works.
  • Crack Fic — Fan fiction that alienates potential audiences by having a premise that's too weird and ridiculous to take seriously.
  • Anything ideologically sensitive (racist, sexist, antisemitic, etc.) — see Unfortunate Implications and Values Dissonance.
  • Villain Protagonist — If the main character of a work is intended to be the bad guy, it's unlikely the audience will root for them.
  • Genre-Busting — You cannot rely on fans of a certain genre being at your beck and call if your work doesn't fit any one of them.
  • Anything revolving entirely around Fanservice.
  • Widget Series — When a work is incomprehensible to people outside its country of origin (and sometimes even within).
  • Deconstructions, parodies, and sub genres of genres that an audience isn't familiar with or haven't been prominent in the medium of work. How many people would really go to see a movie that parodies Steam Punk?
  • Author Tract — People who disagree with the views being presented won't be interested in the work (especially if the story is just an excuse to go "my side is good, the other is bad"), while people who agree won't need to have their minds changed and may find the work boring.

Compare Germans Love David Hasselhoff when a work winds up much more popular in another country due to differences in tastes and Values Resonance. When the alienated audience is in another country, it's Americans Hate Tingle. This is usually attributable to Values Dissonance. Public Medium Ignorance is for works which suffer from a strong tendency to be audience alienating.

Could also overlap with Necessary Weasel, and Anthropic Principle. Contrast Dancing Bear, where the oddness of the premise attracts interest rather than discouraging it. Also, in many ways the opposite of Multiple Demographic Appeal; in fact, an Audience-Alienating Premise is sometimes the result of trying to cater to different kinds of audience and failing to attract any. Compare Intentionally Awkward Title.

Note: Do not add this trope until a work has been released. It only counts if it actually fails to meet expectations, not if people merely anticipate that it will fail. And just because one person finds a work's premise unappealing doesn't necessarily mean that everyone shares that viewpoint.


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    Comic Books 
  • Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld:
    • A Magical Girl maxiseries created during early '80s? It didn't stand a chance, so DC Comics killed the series by making the main character evil and blowing up her homeworld. Of course, if they had the foresight to allow the property to live until the '90s, they could have had a hot product on their hands.
    • Relaunched in 2012 as the lead feature of Sword Of Sorcery, written by Christy Marx, the woman behind Jem. The comic again failed to find an audience, and was cancelled with Issue #8 in early 2013. While the relaunch had some potential going for it, it also ran into a number of the same roadblocks — for a comic that was being promoted with kid-friendly shorts on Cartoon Network's DC Nation, it went for more of a "Game of Thrones with magical gem powers" vibe and featured an attempted gang rape in its first issue.
    • Amethyst had a sort of crossover in the second series. Cue very surprised looks from readers wondering why a character from a "comic for little girls" was doing in the pages of Dr. Fate. (Turns out Amy is a Lord of Order. Yes, you read that right.)
  • Power Pack (the original 1980s comic): Kid heroes, except that instead of featuring wacky antics and dumb adult villains, the theme was played totally straight. In other words, the story took itself seriously and was meant to be seen as such (not only was its own series pretty deep at times, but the kids were even featured in the X-Men's Mutant Massacre crossover, which was every bit as dark as it sounds), but many people wrote it off because it was about kids. Kids who wanted to see wacky antics probably ended up disappointed. Most other people dismissed it out of hand, because they assumed a story about children would just be wacky and stupid. It's probably no coincidence that most of the letters to the editor came from adults, and the occasional 12-year-old, who were surprised at the quality of the storytelling.
  • A similar issue plagued the first arc of the Terry Moore-led reboot of Runaways. The extremely cartoonish art by Humberto Ramos suggested that it was aimed at younger teens, which repelled longtime fans, but the not-so-kid-friendly storyline — involving Karolina being accused of complicity in the destruction of Majesdane, and ending with Xavin impersonating her and handing themselves over to her accusers — probably didn't bring in too many younger readers, and may have been a factor in the series' cancellation a little over a year later.
  • Yeah! by Peter Bagge and Gilbert Hernandez is a girls' comic about three girls in a rock band who are trying to make it big but can only get fans in outer space. It was intended to resemble the girls' comics of the sixties, and it is to comic books what a disco album by Iron Maiden would be to the world of music: It doesn't contain any of the stuff that their fans like, and it belongs to a genre that nobody's been interested in for decades. It was cancelled after nine poorly-selling issues, and the fact that it's a fun comic with good writing and nice artwork didn't really make a difference.
  • Avengers Arena: Taking C-List but cult favorite teenage heroes (including members of Runaways and Avengers Academy) and putting them in a The Hunger Games/Battle Royale scenario (but with no indication of social commentary or satire), so as to prop up Smug Snake gimmick villain Arcade as a legitimate threat (twenty years too late), by having a lot of teenagers die. The amount of vitriol it generated before its release is rather amazing. Sequel by the same writers, Avengers Undercover had surviving kids infiltrating Masters of Evil with premise that one of them will turn evil. It generated less vitriol but sold so bad it was cancelled after 10 issues (when story was planned for at least 12). Looks like people didn't want to see any teenage superhero, especially a member of the Runaways or Academy, turn evil at all.
  • Chick Tracts are meant to appeal to people other than evangelical Protestants. However, the target audience is automatically alienated by the central messages (promoting religious fundamentalism, decrying the "evil" of the Catholic Church, comparing people who think Evolution is a sound theory to Nazis, etc.), while people who would agree with them don't bother reading them because the tracts are not meant for them.
  • Barbara Slate's Angel Love series folded after eight issues and a special. Its cute cartoonish artwork and style of writing clashed with the subjects it was dealing with: drug use, abortion, critical illnesses, and incest.
  • Archie Meets the Punisher, obviously. Readers of one tend not to be readers of the other. Archie vs. Predator fared much better.
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Archie Comic's Sonic the Hedgehog similarly crossed over with Image Comics in a Sonic Super Special issue, due to then-series writer Ken Penders' brief involvement with Image and professional friendship with Jim Valentino. The sight of Sonic and the Freedom Fighters fighting a dimension-hopping baddie with such Image characters as Shadowhawk and Savage Dragon (Spawn only showing up in two shamelessly deceptive panels) would've been hard enough to swallow, but when the crux of the plot revolves around a team of X-Men ripoffs called the Lost Onesnote  and would crash-and-burn after one issue, audiences were left confused and unsatisfied as Penders' Creator's Pet Knuckles would render the whole thing moot with Chaos powers in the end anyways.
    • Penders also penned an earlier special which was packaged as Sonic Live!. Its lead story is a cringe-worthy piece where Sonic meets up with two real-world childrennote  and fight alternate Robotniks while learning he's a fictional character created by a random staff artist on behalf of a couple of white SEGA executives. Or in other words, it was an Indecisive Parody of Last Action Hero with Sonic and guest-stars the writer's family.
    • The comic as a whole hit this after the Newbie Boom Sonic Adventure and Sonic X caused. The series is one big artifact from when Sonic was low on canon material to go off of. Even when it tried to add game elements in the 2000s, the comic was still extremely different from game canon. Its many plot and characterization differences, along with its dozens of Canon Foreigner characters, are why the series has such a mixed reception amongst fans who got into the series after the Dreamcast era. In contrast, its Truer to the Text IDW Spiritual Successor was better received amongst its detractors.
  • Attempts to combine highbrow literature with hardcore porn comics tend to fall under this trope. Audiences generally approach each genre with entirely different expectations and purposes in mind. Two examples are Gilbert Hernandez's Birdland, a satire of Wilhelm Reich's disputed orgone energy theory, and Alan Moore's and Melinda Gebbie's Lost Girls, featuring Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Wendy from Peter Pan.
  • There was an X-Men miniseries called The First X-Men that turned a lot of people, especially those who don't like Wolverine, off by attempting to retcon that he, and not Professor Xavier, was the first person to found a mutant superhero team (and even worse, that the Professor was a self-hating mutant during that time). Critics generally found it an utterly bizarre vanity project for writer Neal Adams, while fans felt it was a (bad) attempt to cash in on the last two X-Men films by combining their premises together, and it's never been mentioned since. The irony is that Adams has stated at signings that he hated working on it, as it was heavily subject to Editorial Mandates and Vetos.
  • The second and third volume of Secret Avengers ended up as something like this. The premise is that SHIELD forms its own team of Avengers, but to keep them from revealing their secrets, they undergo a mindwipe after their missions, which was off-putting due to the grey morality of such a tactic and apparent attempts to amp the feel of the MCU with the promotional material, but found a small audience thanks to the fact it explored this concept and the moral implications, quirky humour, using underused-though-well liked characters War Machine, Quake, Mockingbird, and Taskmaster, and just general good writing, but ended after 16 issues so the writer could move onto Avengers World. The third volume, however, dropped the above mentioned characters, with the art and tone shifting to what seemed to be instead amping the feel of the Hawkeye ongoing, with a less-focused looking story, resulted in many fans dropping it. The new volume is facing cancellation as a result.
  • One More Day: To sum it up: Marvel's "Most Responsible Hero" loses his very aged mother-figure, and discovers that he can't fix it. Instead of coping with the loss, he gets his beloved wife to agree to delete their entire marriage (complete with unborn child), via an under-examined deal with the most deceitful and evil Reality Warper he can find.
  • Batman: Fortunate Son is a story about the Dark Knight taking on the evils of Rock & Roll. The comic was released in The '90s, long after such an idea became downright laughable.
  • This may have been part of the reason Gail Simone's The Movement didn't last very long despite good reviews. A comic series about a group of morally dodgy protagonists becoming vigilantes, who are also completely new characters and thus don't have previously built audience love to carry them. It can also feel politicized at times which is a frequent turn-off for comic readers. Simone herself has commented that, in hindsight, the book was a very difficult concept to sell and was lucky to get as far as it did.
  • Jonathan Hickman's run on New Avengers has struggled with this; since Grey and Gray Morality and heroes being forced to do dodgy things is a major theme, it's developed a reputation of being about how morally bankrupt the protagonists can be. Only so many people can enjoy seeing beloved heroes like Black Panther and Mr. Fantastic acting like supervillains. The book is selling fairly well right now, but mainly because it's the cornerstone of the highly-publicized Secret Wars (2015) crossover. A big part of the problem is that other groups aside from the protagonists are depicted as coming up with solutions to the story's big conflict that don't involve doing horribly amoral things. This has created an awkward situation where people like Doctor Doom are seen by fans as doing a better job at being heroes than the actual heroes.
  • Any case of a superhero becoming a Legacy Character has the potential to be this. Essentially, the writer is asking the reader to forget about the hero they've followed and become attached to and instead read about some new guy who may only be tangentially related to the original hero. If the writer can't do enough to make the readers care about the new character quickly, people will turn away because they see no reason to follow the story if the protagonist they cared about is gone. Examples of Affirmative Action Legacy have this even worse, as they are frequently interpreted as the writer screwing over a hero people love just so they can show off how progressive they are.
  • Branching off from the first point, practically every superhero has become a "Legacy" character by this point, and this can lead to instances of characters with already-beloved or appreciated gimmicks being shoehorned into another identity for the name recognition and sales. This can also have the effect of "reducing" other roles or making them arbitrarily subordinate to the "Legacy" of another. For example, Falcon abandoning his old identity to become the new Captain America.
  • Dan Jurgens' Teen Titans series from 1996 which replaced all of the cast members from New Teen Titans with new characters and inexplicably turned The Atom into a teenager.
  • This was the downfall of Robert Kirkman's The Irredeemable Ant-Man. The idea behind the story was to have the protagonist start out as a cowardly jerk and evolve into a real hero over time. Unfortunately, Marvel's advertising and the comic itself put extremely heavy emphasis on how much of a jerk the new Ant-Man was while not mentioning his Hidden Heart of Gold, to the point that its tagline was "the world's most unlikable superhero". Non-fans of Ant-Man were driven away by this, while Ant-Man fans left out of disgust at the thought of such a douche taking over the title. Evangeline Lilly read the series as research for the Ant-Man movie, and ended up publicly dismissing it as "crap".
  • The 2015 Batman Beyond comic. It stars an adult Tim Drake (who took over after a time-traveling Terry McGinnis was killed) as a Fish out of Temporal Water in a post-apocalyptic world where Gotham is the only remnant of human civilization. It's not clear who the comic is aimed at, as it has little in common with any previous iteration of Batman Beyond, and the Tim Drake featured is very different from his prior characterizations.
  • Wacky Raceland, the Darker and Edgier reimagining of Hanna-Barbera's Wacky Races. Take a classic light-hearted cartoon about racers with their distinctive motifs running through different rallies around America and turn it into a Mad Max-inspired post-apocalyptic setting where every type of calamity happened and littered with mutants and eldritch abominations. Despite the title trying to ride on Rule of Cool, the concept was never going to be easy to sell and predictably the comic went under after just six issues. Indeed, all of the Hanna-Barbera Beyond books can fall into this. The Flintstones and The Jetsons go from sitcoms to modern-day social satires (with Flintstones written by someone who hates Flintstones), Scooby Apocalypse is a darker take on the Scooby-Doo mythos with wild redesigns, and then there's the weird crossovers like The Banana Splits meeting the Suicide Squad. The only book that seems to have gotten universal critical acclaim is Future Quest.
  • Fury (Max) was part of the Marvel MAX line and featured a Darker and Edgier and Bloodier and Gorier story of Fury looking at his last days as an agent of a post-Cold War era S.H.I.E.L.D. that presented Fury as a Blood Knight. Most notably, the detractors of this included Fury co-creator Stan Lee and actor George Clooney, who was in talks to play Fury in a movie when the series was released and dropped out precisely because of it, both expressing disgust at certain scenes, including Fury disemboweling Big Bad Rudi Gagarin and strangling him with his own intestines.
  • As the title may indicate The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe has the Punisher indiscriminately murder every superhuman in the Marvel universe. It's unlikely that many people would want to see Frank Castle slaughter their favorite superheroes, and even if you agree with writer Garth Ennis' bias against superheroes, you're likely going to see the Punisher as Unintentionally Unsympathetic for killing heroes who had nothing to do with his family's death.
  • Creator Brian K. Vaughan has quite candidly admitted that this trope was a major fear of his when he was first writing Saga as it's an original, non-superhero, anti-war Planetary Romance Science Fantasy — but one that is absolutely for adults — featuring a non-white married couple as the leads, gory violence, and an abundance of graphic space alien sex. Not to mention how Fiona Staples' bright, colorful stylized artwork (the same she uses for Archie Comics (2015)!) seems to fit better with a series much brighter and happier than it actually is. Ultimately, however, the trope was triumphantly averted, when Saga garnered massive critical acclaim and became one of the best-selling ongoing series of the modern era.
  • Trouble was universally condemned upon release. Among the reasons as such include being advertised as a romance comic despite not really being one, but the biggest one being its ties to the Spider-Man franchise: namely being about the adventures of teenaged versions of Peter Parker's parents, Uncle Ben, and Aunt May and the attempt to retcon that May was really Peter's birth mother. It was so reviled that it's not canon to either the classic or Ultimate Marvel universes.

    Fan Works 

  • When they were first invented in the mid-20th century, bikinis were not at all popular, and were even banned or discouraged in various countries. The reasons should be obvious: A female swimsuit that amounts to little more than undergarments, invented by a man. Being used to more modest traditional two-pieces, most women were not keen on walking around nearly naked in such contexts where it was mostly unheard of at the time.

    Films — Animation 
  • Yellow Submarine apparently didn't do too well when it first came out; it was aimed at adults, but it was animated. It fared better later when it was discovered that it was a good movie for children (seeing as there was nothing inappropriate about the movie) and after it became more acceptable for adults to watch cartoons.
  • This was one reason Frankenweenie was a box office disappointment. A black and white stop-motion animated feature focused around death and reanimation is a hard sell for today's families, especially when it's topped off by a violent climax. Disney didn't help matters by refusing to move its release date to distance it from the more accessible Hotel Transylvania and the equally-dark-and-quirky-but-released-first ParaNorman; when the former became a Sleeper Hit that exceeded industry expectations and had strong weekly holds, and the latter got the earliest wave of critical buzz, that pretty much burned off demand for another Halloween film for 2012.
  • El Arca is an animated retelling of the story of Noah's Ark. Christians who would have been interested in the film for its Biblical story were turned off by its blasphemy and raunchiness, the aforementioned sexual themes made the movie unsuitable for children when its art style seemed geared for them, and everyone except for a few members of the Furry Fandom were repulsed by a few heavily sexualised animal characters. The movie seemed to have no idea who its audience were supposed to be and consequently it failed and sank into obscurity.
  • Foodfight! is basically an extended homage to Casablanca starring advertising mascots and featuring loads of Toilet Humour and sex jokes... and it's aimed at children. Many critics note that the film seems to have no idea whom it's trying to appeal to. And that's not even going into the horrendous animation that practically makes the film look eye-gouging.
  • The Mexican animated film Un Gallo Con Mucho Huevos (A Rooster With Many Eggs) seems at first glance to be just an average film that'd be reasonably respectable in its home country. Its wide US release, however, is mind-boggling. Here we have a CGI film starring talking animals that resembles a kid pic but got a PG-13 rating for its US release, likely due to cultural differences in that Mexican humor is a bit more relaxed with standards than US humor. On top of that, the film is not being dubbed for its American release, it will be Spanish with English subtitles. How likely is it anyone will want to see a kiddie-looking PG-13 animated flick in Spanish? (and yet it cracked the weekend top 10, playing in less than 400 theaters...)
  • The holy trinity of "cute animal movies that turn out to be horribly non-kid friendly":
    • Felidae is a film noir with blood, murder, sex, and a cult. Starring cats (real ones, not Funny Animals). Its look made many people think it was a Disney-type movie, but the actual content is not kid-friendly, thus it scared away adult audiences while not attracting kid audiences. The film has since gained a cult status online, however.
    • Watership Down is a movie about rabbits! Kid-friendly, right?! Well, the film has quite a few scenes faithful to the original novel, such as rabbits being gassed in their burrows during a human land-settlement, a dog violently attacking and killing rabbits, rabbits getting killed by natural predators, and rabbits getting, albeit non-lethally, shot. The film didn't attract adults due to being about rabbits, thus dismissed as "kiddy", while kids were scared away by the climactic battle between Hazel's warren and the Efrafan rabbits. The film ''is'' for kids, but its reputation means that few watch it.
    • Sister film The Plague Dogs deals with the touchy topic of animal testing and has the same bleak, dark tone and art style but with cartoon talking dogs.
  • Before it was released, Sausage Party was largely seen as a case of trying too hard to defy one stigma that it ends up falling into another. It proudly boasts its status as the first "adult, no-kiddie R-rated CGI-animated feature film", and is loaded with crude humor, profanity, blatant adult jokes, inappropriate visual puns, offensive stereotypes... and is about Anthropomorphic Food. Not being family-friendly doesn't mean that you are mature, many said. Many questioned why the movie was even green-lit, let alone made, in the first place. If Disney ever made a film like this, it's doubtful they would release it even under their Touchstone Pictures banner. Sony Pictures is producing the film, to the annoyance of many animation fans who are critical of Sony's track record in animation (although Sony Pictures Animation had no involvement in this film whatsoever). A lot of the backlash seems to also stem from the belief that the studio learned nothing from the above and the subsequent studio hack and they decided to go ahead and green-light a film that would put the offensive stereotypes in The Interview to shame. Ultimately, the movie managed to subvert expectations upon release, and turned out to be a critical and commercial success.
  • The Emoji Movie:
    • The mere thought of having an entire feature-length film about emojis didn't tick with many. Doesn't make matters better since this was the replacement for an animated feature of Popeye from Genndy Tartakovsky and an animated film of Medusa from Lauren Faust (where most of the criticism for this movie is coming from showing signs of Executive Meddling). As for the movie itself...well, as this review puts it:
    "With its bright colors and cute characters, The Emoji Movie clearly was made, presumably by adults, for young kids, even though it's about technology in a way that a person has to be at least an older child or a pre-teen in order to appreciate. It's a movie that's too bland for adults, too cutesy and juvenile for teens and pre-teens, and too confusing for kids. In other words, it's a movie for no one, except all of the companies that signed on to have their mobile applications and games blatantly promoted without a lick of shame on the part of the filmmakers."
    • Once the movie was actually released, people were even more put off by its content once the bad word of mouth had begun to spread. Not only does it play almost every trope that usually lands works in the Animation Age Ghetto dead straight and seemed to have been written by people that didn't know the first thing about the subject matter, but many also found some unbelievably disturbing implications with how the world the emoji characters live in works. Essentially, each emoji is only able to express the emotion they were designed to convey, and the main character's ability to express as many emotions as the average human is portrayed as being similar to a rare genetic mutation. The leaders of the emoji city try to have him executed when he can't conform to the emotion he was meant to convey, making the emoji society unintentionally come off as a eugenicist dictatorship. There's also the fact that despite being aimed toward younger audiences, the movie constantly carries a sense of contempt toward younger people, especially with regards to technology, essentially shoving a middle finger in the face of the intended audience.
  • Double example: Titanic: The Legend Goes On and The Legend of the Titanic. One takes a hundred-plus-year-ago tragedy, and just throws in a bunch of wacky hijinx to comprise everything prior to what actually happened. The other takes the same event (though for the most part, treats things much more seriously), and turns it into an anti-whaling aesop, to say nothing about its fictional aversion of what happened in real life.
  • The Star, being an animated retelling of the birth of Christ, is a hard enough sell in mainstream cinema, but it's also a comedy where the events are told from the animals' perspective. The fact that distributor Sony has had a rather poor track record with creating true crowd-pleasers doesn't help either.
  • Kevin Koch, an assistant animator on The Road to El Dorado cited this trope as part of the reason for the film's lack of success:
    For me there were two major problems with The Road to El Dorado. First, it was a period piece set in South America — I thought at the time that that combination would be box office poison. There are certain settings and time periods that I don’t think modern audiences are interested in, even if the film is fantastic.

  • Natural Harvest - A Collection of Semen-Based Recipes
  • Anything that involves deliberately cultivating rot or mould to produce the taste, from blue cheese to the traditional Icelandic hakarl (rotten shark) to the Japanese natto (fermented soybeans), tends to generate this reaction from some. Even beer, another product of fermentation, is an acquired taste for some people. Of special note is huitlacoche, a delicacy in Mexico consisting of corn infected with a parasitic fungus. The fungus proliferates in the corn kernels, swelling them up to massive proportions and turning them bluish. Few people outside of Mexico are willing to eat these things, even after a campaign to call them "corn mushrooms" to make them sound more palatable (and they are harmless to humans even when raw), and huitlacoche is restricted or outright banned from import into most countries due to most people seeing it as a blight rather than something to eat. Their fears are justified, however, because farmers who just want to sell normal corn, and the consumers who just want to eat normal corn, will not appreciate this highly contagious fungus infecting these plants.
  • For Westerners, eating insects.
  • Combining both mould and insects, casu marzu, an Italian cheese partially digested by live insect larvae.
  • Foods based on offal squick out a lot of people, though they're perfectly happy to eat hot dogs and other sausages. The classic example is haggis - notorious for being the heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep, boiled in its own stomach (to quote the Earthworm Jim cartoon); what many people don't know is that the first three ingredients are minced first (every description seems to go with "cut up" instead, wrongly implying that this offal is served in unappetizingly large chunks), making the whole thing more like eating a giant bratwurst. Other examples are the Mexican menudo, a soup made of hominy and beef tripe, and and chitterlings (pig intestines), a staple of African American people in the South.
  • It's less common nowadays, but for a long time many people were put off of sushi because it's "raw fish". This stems from a fundamental misunderstanding when it comes to defining the word "sushi", which only refers the sticky, vinegar-seasoned rice that goes into various rolls and nigiri; not all types of sushi contain raw fish ("sashimi"). It's perfectly possible to have a great sushi dinner with nothing but vegetarian and/or fully-cooked rolls or nigiri like egg omelette, roasted eel or shrimp.
  • Foie gras is made from specially-prepared duck or goose liver. Liver alone is off-putting to many, but preparing foie gras requires force-feeding the bird until its liver bloats up to 10 times its normal size, something that can make it even more off-putting. It's not surprising that foie gras is controversial.
  • In many cultures, meat derived from certain animals are subject to taboo. The reasons are greatly varied: some examples include pork due to pigs being "unclean" (their dietary habits are considered off-putting), beef due to cows being considered too "holy", and horses, dogs and guinea pigs due to being considered too intelligent or too cute to be eaten. Taken even further in some cultures where there are taboos against eating meat period.
  • There is a whole psychological phenomenon known as "food neophobia," which collectively is about people's hesitation to try foods they aren't familiar with. Most people have this to one extent or another (a widely-seen example is the aforementioned westerners' aversion to eating insects), and it stems from a natural instinct to avoid putting potentially poisonous or otherwise dangerous things in one's mouth.
  • Fugu, a blowfish in which certain organs contain a deadly poison. Chefs are understandably only allowed to prepare it for customers after a three year training course to make sure they can accurately remove all the dangerous parts, and still there are occasional deaths from improper preparation. It's a delicacy in Japan, but hasn't caught on anywhere else for obvious reasons.
  • For more complete lists, see Stock "Yuck!" and Masochist's Meal.

  • Alfie's Home is a children's storybook about a kid who, due to his parents constantly arguing, latches onto the sexual abuse from his uncle as his only source of affection. That alone is a hard sell, but it could have found a niche helping kids who deal with sexual abuse in Real Life... that is until it brings up the possibility of Alfie becoming gay from all this (something based on a long discredited psychological theory), and treats it as a problem that must be taken care of by a few words with a counselor. You can probably imagine why the book was lambasted by everyone who has read it.
  • The Bum Trilogy (and its Animated Adaptation, The Day My Butt Went Psycho!) is about people's butts coming to life and hopping off their bodies, and the protagonist's efforts to maintain peace between man and butt. While the idea might have a lot of intrigue, the fact that it's about butts ensures that potential readers will brush it off as something for little kids into Toilet Humour, unless they're that curious about the Fridge Logicnote .
  • Thomas Dixon's “Ku Klux Klan” trilogy, consisting of “The Leopard's Spots” (1902), “The Clansman” (1905) (which was adapted into “The Birth of a Nation” in 1915), and “The Traitor: A Story of the Fall of the Invisible Empire” (1907). If the informal name of the trilogy isn't already a red flag, the protagonists of the series are Reconstruction-era Klansman members!
  • A Brother's Price is about a world where only about 10% of the population is male, and this leads to polygamy. Already a rather odd premise, not to mention the fact that polygamy is a rather controversial idea in the west. Worse yet, the cover and advertising was apparently designed to appeal to a mainstream romance audience, who likely won't like the book at all as it's more of a thriller.
  • Lolita is a prime example of this, to the extent that it's mostly known in the general public as "that novel about pædophila". Fortunately, its status as a modern classic prevents it from becoming too neglected, but most people unaware of why it's considered so great are likely to pass it up due to the premise. Though just as many readers came to it for prurient interest based on its unfounded reputation. It's likely for this reason that the film adaptations play up Lolita as a Fille Fatale Bratty Teenage Daughter, while playing down Humbert's role as a self-centred abusive sexual predator.
  • Stephen King withheld Pet Sematary from publication for several years because he felt the subject matter made the book unpublishable.
  • William Luther Pierce is a massive white supremacist, and his books reflect that. Good luck finding anyone who isn't also a white supremacist who won't be turned off from his books by that fact.
    • The Turner Diaries is about a group of white supremacist terrorists... who are the heroes of the story. Needless to say, this book has absolutely no fans outside of its very narrow target audience.
    • Hunter is a book where the hero is a serial killer who targets Jews and racial minorities.
  • The Northwest Front series is white nationalist literature where we're supposed to root for racist militants.
  • Awoken (written by Lindsay Ellis and Elisa Hansen, among others) is a parody of the Teen Paranormal Romance genre, specifically "Twilight meets the Cthulhu Mythos". When asked if it was an audience alienating premise, they responded with "That's the joke."
  • The Clique is an Indecisive Parody told from the point-of-view of a middle school-aged Alpha Bitch and her Girl Posse (two character types that are nearly universally despised) but does very little to make them likable or sympathetic. And even readers who would want to read something like that are very likely going to be put off by all the Squick (namely the very sexualized depictions of preteen girlsnote ). The author tried to add some Deconstruction elements later on in the series but for many it was too little too late. This trope is possibly why The Film of the Book was Direct-to-Video — the creators were probably aware that a film with this kind of plot would bomb if released in theaters.
  • The article's opening quote refers to one of the seminal canon works of Willa Cather, one of the most prominent female authors of the first half of the 20th century (one of her others, My Antonia was published in 1901). Indeed, she frequently wrote about Nebraska - one of the least densely-populated and featured of the United States. Cather's most famous work, The Professor's House was partially written in response to this trope (and consequently is more like a Dark Fic or Deconstruction compared to her earlier works - and most notably, takes place along the shores of the Great Lakes with flashbacks to Arizona).
  • The Deptford Mice trilogy features anthropomorphic mice in a struggle against a God of Evil and his bloodthirsty rat minions. Violent deaths abound, including decapitation and flaying alive. The cute animal characters would put off older kids, but the stories are Nightmare Fuel for the younger ones. This is likely why these books have yet to see a film adaptation. Who would you market it to?
  • Warrior Cats is about cute, fluffy cats that are involved in bloody battles, have a complex religious and social structure, have a tendency to die horribly, and have illegitimate offspring all over the place. Younger kids see cats, and then see continuity and leave. Older kids are put off by the Cute Kitten thing and may be embarrassed to start the series in the first place. The books do have an audience, and it'll be interesting to see how The Film of the Book is marketed.
  • River Heights was a spin-off of The Nancy Drew Files series (itself a spinoff of the original books), receiving a Poorly Disguised Pilot in that series. The series itself had very little mention of Nancy herself, instead focusing on a neighbor of hers named Nikki, and was instead a high school drama series not unlike Sweet Valley High. Fans of Nancy weren't interested in teen drama (and if they were, were likely already reading other series, like the aforementioned Sweet Valley High), fans of drama likely thought it was straight mystery (because of the tie-with Nancy Drew), and the series faded away after about 16 books. Not learning their lesson, they tried this again with Nancy Drew on Campus, another spinoff that sent Nancy away to college and, yet again, pushed aside the mysteries in favor of more young adult drama. Again, the series died off after 25 books (while this sounds impressive, realize that Nancy Drew books are ridiculously Long-Runners, with the original series lasting to 175, while the Files spinoff lasted to 124, and even less successful series such as Girl Detective survived all the way to 47.)
  • Twisted is a book about sentient rollercoasters... that kill and eat people. The idea of the main characters being amusement park rides seems too childish for adults, but the gore and edginess of the content makes it inappropriate for children.
  • Save The Pearls: Revealing Eden is a novel about a dystopian future where whites are enslaved and oppressed by evil black people. And did we mention that Blackface plays a huge role in the story?
  • How Not To Write A Novel calls this trope "The Voice in the Wilderness" and illustrates it with an intentionally offensive sample novel passage which portrays Auschwitz commanders, guards and doctors as selfless souls trying to save the inmates from dying of typhus, only for the Allies to "demonize" their efforts. The authors then explain that writing a novel with a "universally detested" viewpoint is a bad idea regardless of whether you genuinely believe it or simply figure that shock for shock's sake will sell.
  • This is the most likely reason why the first Monster High book series flopped. It had too many mature themes and fanservice for young readers but older ones would most likely be turned off by a novel series based on a little girls' toy line. And fans of the franchise disliked that it was pretty much In Name Only.
  • Bumped is a young adult novel about a dystopian future where a virus has made everyone over the age of 18 infertile and reliant on teenage girls as surrogate mothers. People were squicked out by the Teen Pregnancy, while readers who do want to read about it criticized the book for exploiting a serious problem in society for shock value.
  • Forgive Me Leonard Peacock is about a teenager going about his day as he plans to murder his former best friend who sexually abused him and then kill himself. He decides instead to take a picture of his ex-friend masturbating and is talked out of killing himself by one of his teachers
  • In the annual Lyttle Lytton Contest, a contest which challenges contestants to write the worst opening line of a novel they can think of, a special prize is awarded every year to the entry which suggests the kind of novel the judge would least like to read.
  • The premise of Growing Around is not one that holds up well to Fridge Horror. It takes place In a World... with Swapped Roles taken to the extreme: kids have all authority, and grown-ups must abide by their rules. Despite this, people age and develop as they do in Real Life. While the author is aware of this problem readers have, he makes it clear that he doesn't want to pen the Darker and Edgier Lord of the Flies-style Deconstruction that everyone's minds head towards, nor does he want to bog down the story to explain how such a world could work, and simply implores potential readers to take the story for what it is at face value.
  • The BattleTech novel Far Country. Standard Battle Tech stories revolve around Realpolitic stories of different human star empires fighting each other, with no focus on Space Opera themes like exploration or first contact with alien species. Far Country had several different groups get stranded on an alien planet with no way home having to deal with the bird-like alien natives. People who liked Battle Tech were turned off by the utter lack of a Battle Tech related plot, while fans of space opera style science fiction were turned off by the tie-in to the franchise.
  • This is most likely the reason why the Tailchaser's Song adaptation is stuck in Development Hell. It's an adventure novel full of rich lore and violence. It's also about talking cats. Unlike its Spiritual Successor, Warrior Cats, Tailchaser's Song is aimed at older fantasy fans. It's more in the vein of Watership Down with its heavy emphasis on mythology, culture, and Conlang. Kids are unlikely to be interested in a novel whose character page is four pages long and that has its own glossary at the back, cat fans are turned off by the mature tone, and fantasy fans don't want to read about cats. This leaves it for that small niche of xenofiction fans.
  • Victoria by military theorist William S. Lind is a book where a bunch of Rated M for Manly Right Wing Militia Fanatics completely crush the forces of liberalism, leftism, multiculturalism, political correctness and progress to establish a new, pure America where everyone is a good, proud, red-blooded Christian, or else. It's... not for everyone, and it tends to be enjoyed more for being So Bad, It's Good.
  • The Grimoire of the Necronomicon by Donald Tyson is a book that claims to be the foundation of an occult religion based off Cthulhu Mythos beings... barely. Most Cthulhu Mythos fans don't even believe in their existence, and would unlikely to be amused by Tyson's take, where instead of Earth being an Insignificant Blue Planet it's the main focus of the Great Old One's plans. Said Great Old Ones are In Name Only and instead of being Eldritch Abominations beyond human comprehension they've been shoehorned into becoming deities based off the seven classical planets. Actual occultists are turned off by the fact that the actual Ritual Magic is extremely prosaic and simplified, effectively consisting of a few invocations around a highly minimalist "temple" of some rocks and lines. It's a book seemingly aimed at those who know about neither the Cthulhu Mythos nor occultism.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Heil Honey I'm Home!: A 1990 British sitcom starring caricatures of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun who live in matrimonial bliss until they become neighbors to a Jewish couple. It was probably supposed to be a Deconstructive Parody of 1950s Sitcom tropes, but if so it ended up being a Stealth Parody as well. The fact that you could have replaced Adolf with a generic "bumbling Nazi" caricature as the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist and the show still wouldn't have been all that funny didn't help.
  • The similarly-titled Hi Honey, I'm Home! was a forgotten 90s sitcom that was a Deconstructive Parody of 1950s sitcom tropes, set in a universe where sitcom characters are real and the main character, Mike, lives next door to his favorite (fictional) 50s sitcom family. All is well and good... except this was a Nickelodeon production (even though the first season aired on ABC, on the TGIF block) and was instead for kids. The problem is a lot of the jokes rely on the viewer's knowledge of classic television and its tropes. The show even had a cameo from a classic sitcom character every episode, which is great if you're a television nerd, but for a kid in the 90s you didn’t get it. The show was very inconsistent with its theme as well. In one episode the mother, Honey, learns about sex, and another episode deals with sexism, while at the same time there's an episode about Mike trying to get a girl to a dance. This makes the show very confusing on who they want this to appeal to. Plus it can be argued that the main character of the show is Honey, when being a Kid Com, Mike should have been the true lead. All in all the show was a major flop, limping around for two seasons, which is a shame because its concept was very interesting.
  • Lone Star was supposed to be the big headlining show of the 2010-11 season for the Fox network, but the premise turned off audiences so badly it was canceled after only two episodes were aired. Unlike shows like Leverage or Hustle, the conman protagonist was not stealing just from Jerkasses but was also cheating nice, hard-working people. The Heel–Face Turn that was supposed to set him up on the road to redemption (and audience sympathy) turned out to be just a way for him to marry two different women and maintain a double life. When the audience finds no redeeming qualities in the main character and wants him thrown in jail as soon as possible, the premise just doesn't work.
  • As a general rule, network audiences tend to hate shows with morally-gray protagonists. Heist-themed shows like Thieves and Smith totally bombed, and Hannibal has poor viewership largely because the Misaimed Marketing makes it look like it has a serial killer Villain Protagonist (when in reality, Hannibal is the antagonist of the series).
  • A good example is The John Larroquette Show, in which Larroquette played John Hemingway, an acerbic recovering alcoholic. The first season was insightful, provoking, filled with race baiting humor, and a bartender was implied to be Satan. Thanks to Executive Meddling, the show was made Lighter and Softer, alienating those faithful viewers who did watch the show.note 
  • Profit featured a Villain Protagonist before other shows dabbled with the concept. It didn't last a single season.
  • Not nearly as severe as other examples, but some viewers find themselves put off by the fact that Friday Night Lights is "about football". It kind of is, but interest in football isn't necessarily a requirement to enjoy the show at all, any more than an interest in ghosts is required to enjoy Ghostbusters. It's just a good and interesting small-town/family drama.
    • And the flipside was that NBC also targeted football fans, promoting it heavily during Sunday Night Football telecasts, only that those fans found too little football and passed, and everyone else who passed on it thought "too much football."
    • That the football in question is the American variety didn't help it overseas; in Britain, ITV4 only aired the first season (although Sky Atlantic did eventually... well... pick up the ball).
    • There's a sizable number of football fans who'd rather not see the game deconstructed or radically criticized. There's a sizable number of football detractors who resent the central role it plays in many American communities, and finds the mere depiction of this role a fundamentally irritating reminder. That eliminates an awfully large chunk of the potential audience.
  • ABC's Lucky 7, a drama (that was advertised as being mostly) about the downsides of winning the lottery, was cancelled after only two episodes in 2013. In hindsight, it probably wasn't a good idea to air a show about how suddenly coming into a lot of money is a bad thing during an economic downturn.
  • Even the most pro-capitalist viewers have reported difficulties with the show Hou$e Of Lie$. It's about taking money from rich business owners... and giving it to rich management consultants instead. This wouldn't be so bad if the consultants in question didn't Kick the Dog every episode, or act in some hypocritical fashion that makes it difficult to take the characters seriously.
  • This was why the show Cop Rock failed. It's a crime drama... and a musical! Though with the later success of shows like Glee, one wonders if it was just a bit ahead of its time.
  • The drama/musical Viva Laughlin (the U.S. adaptation of The BBC series Viva Blackpool) got horrid reviews and was canned after only two episodes, even with a singing, dancing Hugh Jackman. After the crashing and burning of Smash, it would seem that musical TV series simply don't work; TV movie musicals like High School Musical seem to fare better.
    • Musicals, in general, are a bit of a hard sell (High School Musical being an outlier). Glee survived through a number of factors: 1) it plays into the camp appeal, 2) sales of the music make up for its underperforming ratings, 3) all the songs are "real songs" (i.e. covers of classic or contemporary hits the audience already knows and loves), and 4) like its suspiciously similar predecessor, Fame, the context of the series allowed for its characters to break into song and dance because, duh, the characters were singers and dancers and most musical numbers were thus presented in the context of putting on a show. This is not the same as a bunch of cops suddenly deciding to sing for no reason.
  • Possibly one of the reasons that Dollhouse didn't do particularly well (or gain quite the cult following of other Whedon shows). The concept of people repeatedly having their mind wiped and personalities implanted to act as prostitutes, assassins (and more) isn't exactly a comfortable idea, even if the show criticizes it, not to mention how hard it is to get attached to characters who literally have a completely different personality from week to week. More to the point, the show is uneven in its criticism. For the first season, the Dollhouse seems to function just fine, except for one evil escapee and a Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist who only makes progress when he gets help from the Dollhouse itself. Then there are episodes where the ongoing plot is absent, or nearly absent, which could imply that some of the Dollhouses' work is just fine.
  • The TV series based on Birds of Prey tried to appeal to both comic book fans and the Dawson's Creek crowd. This failed because the comic geeks were turned off by the unnecessary drama and pointless changes, and the teenyboppers were confused by obscure comic book references they didn't understand. Funnily enough, though, Arrow is a massive hit, and uses essentially the same premise (CW drama mixed with DC Comics), just 10 years later. That Arrow had the fortune of launching in the wake of the massive success of The Dark Knight Saga probably helped. The relatively unknown character having been introduced to viewers through Smallville didn't hurt either.
  • Freaks and Geeks was never going to last in network television. The period setting, mixed with the hour-long length (most American sitcoms clock in at under 30 minutes) and subdued, quirky humor, completely turned off most viewers. It didn't help that the show had the bad timing to air before '80s nostalgia really got into gear later in The Oughts. Plus, beginning the series at the very start of the '80s meant that the setting was culturally still very much The '70s, which might have also been confusing to viewers.
  • Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills was a show that focused heavily on harshly criticizing the Tokusatsu genre and showing how the creators thought one of those shows should be done. Fans of the genre were turned off by its vindictiveness, and people who didn't like it didn't even bother to watch it.
  • The racially-mixed cast on Star Trek: The Original Series was one in the South. Some TV stations in the region refused to carry it outright.
  • Sesame Street faced a similar challenge in Southern markets, but protests from Moral Guardians ended up subverting the trope.
  • Blood Ties, the TV adaptation of Tanya Huff's Blood Books, had all the pieces there: a good premise, a convincing love triangle, and good actors (Tanya Huff apparently saw the lead actress on a different series years earlier saying she'd make a perfect Vicki) with good chemistry. There was one big problem, though: the Canadian series got picked up in the US by Lifetime. The dark, supernatural premise alienated fans of Lifetime's normal dramatic romance fare, and Girl-Show Ghetto kept male fans of sci-fi and fantasy from giving the show a fair shake (believing it was typical Lifetime dreck.) It's telling that Lost Girl, another Canadian series with an ass-kicking female lead with a Perky Goth sidekick and a supernatural being as a potential love interest premiered on Syfy and fared infinitely better.
  • The short-lived series The Nine. It was advertised and marketed as a crime thriller but was actually more of an emotional drama. Thus people that wanted a crime thriller were turned off by the melodrama and viewers that would have liked the melodrama were alienated by the crime-focused advertising.
  • Carnivàle qualifies: despite having a highly original and engaging plot, the premise of "supernatural battle set in the Depression-era dustbowl", and the thick layer of religious and mystical symbolism all over the show, made it hard for a lot of people to get interested in. It didn't help that the series mythological background (based on both real-world myths as well as components created for the show) wasn't laid out well and the hints were obscure leaving viewers who didn't have an encyclopedia on hand clueless to many aspects. It's been described as a less accessible Twin Peaks for a reason.
  • This was likely a major reason for Arrested Development becoming an Acclaimed Flop during its original run (though it was Vindicated by History, and eventually Un-Canceled by Netflix). It's a show about a dysfunctional family of egotistical, back-stabbing out-of-touch yuppies, where the only character who’s anywhere near being upright is the Butt-Monkey Only Sane Man protagonist, with the rest of the main cast consisting of otherwise ordinary people who are driven mad by the family’s chaos (his wimpy, incestuous son and rebellious teenage niece), highly eccentric and socially awkward weirdos (his Manchild younger brother and homoerotic thespian-wannabe brother-in-law), self-centered and lazy jerks (his Small Name, Big Ego older brother and Spoiled Brat liberal twin sister), or cold-hearted and corrupt misers (his abusive parents, one of whom is a wanted criminal), and roughly a quarter of the jokes involve Incest Subtext. Its rather dense plot—far more complicated than one would naturally expect of a sitcom—likely didn't help. This was lampshaded by Michael Bluth in Season 3: "Maybe we aren't as likable as we think we are."
    • The stock market, finances, and other similar topics play a large role in the series, things which not a whole lot of people are familiar with.
  • Ultraman Leo was a Deconstruction of tokusatsu before audiences were used to such storiesnote . The premise practically tears apart the Invincible Hero trope, and the MAC members seem to interact and react with the world around them far more realistically than other Science Patrols. As well as all that, Leo himself relied much more on fists and kicks, which was jarring in a franchise far more used to heroes who used flashy, dazzling energy rays. All this led to the show falling into the single-digits, the worst rating in the franchise history.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: In hindsight it's almost a miracle that this show ever got made and managed to find an audience. Why would anyone want to watch a comedy show where half of the time the sketches go nowhere and punch lines are almost non-existent? In every episode confusing things happen at random and without any sense of context or continuity. Sometimes the show appears to end, but still goes on for several minutes. Other times it seems as if another show is playing. There's a lot of male crossdressing and homosexual innuendo (back in the 1960s and 1970s far more audience alienating than nowadays). Many intellectual references are made, often to very obscure stuff that would make an encyclopaedia come in handy. And several scenes are intercut with amateuristic cut-and-paste cartoons that border between the macabre and the grotesque. Indeed, the general public didn't know what to think of it. Most of the time the studio audience hardly snickers. Even the BBC tried to axe and boycott the show several times, even going so far to think of erasing all seasons in 1975. And how do you export this bizarre series to foreign countries? Apart from the sheer bizarreness mentioned earlier, a lot of jokes refer to things only British people would get (and only those who remember the late '60s and early '70s at that). But, despite all odds, a cult following came about and the show caught on outside the UK as well. Still, for many years they polarized a majority of the audience and the Pythons were amazed that several decades later public opinion has changed so drastically that suddenly they have became the darling boys of comedy. Though, arguably, most of their fanbase is composed of people only familiar with their more accessible films, especially Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The cast was fully aware of this, as well. In an interview, John Cleese said he was in makeup with Michael Palin and said "Do you realize this could be the first comedy in the history of British television where no one laughs?" Palin reportedly responded "I was just thinking the same thing."
  • Community had an Audience Alienating Execution, as their ratings got steadily worse (with the biggest drop off occurring after the Pilot); it's probably because that the premise (Fraudulent Jerkass Lawyer has to go back to school, meets wacky misfits and learns the value of friendship) is prime Sitcom material, but the actual implementation of that premise (extensive esoteric shout outs, Continuity Lock-Out to the extreme, weird one-shot genre parody episodes such as  and a perverse interest in insulting NBC) killed its chances at being a major hit instead of a Cult Classic.
  • BBC's soap opera Triangle: a ferry operating in the gloom of the North Sea was hardly the most glamorous of locations. Famously the first episode featured Kate O'Mara sunbathing topless on an obviously freezing deck. Clichéd relationships, stilted dialogue and production problems related to being on a real-life ferry cemented the show's mockable reputation.
  • A few of the more unpopular Doctor Who stories/eras have this as their main flaw:
    • One of the things fans tend to appreciate about the show is that it's much darker and more cerebral than most children's shows, but at the end of the day it should still be child-friendly. Usually, the show negotiates this by using the Doctor as a funny Ideal Hero Escapist Character that the children can feel safe alongside no matter what, so any regime trying to reinvent them as a morally-deficient figure tends to get a lot of pushback for making the show too grim and unlike Doctor Who.
      • The Sixth Doctor era gets a lot of flak because of this — children don't want to watch a Doctor who runs around abusing his companion, and grownups have other places to explore that sort of thing, where the dark subtext can be properly explored. Six was supposed to become more likable and heroic with time, but his Character Development, combined with the unusually grim nature of his storylines, didn't happen fast enough to avoid turning off much of the show's audience — and dooming the series' original run.
      • The Twelfth Doctor era is a double subversion, helped by the fact that the revival had a better sense of how to explore darker content. In his first season Twelve's pragmatism and lack of social skills are often called out by others, especially his companion Clara, and even by himself as he questions his capacity for goodness. He is self-aware, learns from his mistakes, and comes to a positive understanding of himself in his first Story Arc — and gets lots of eccentrically funny moments from the start. Unfortunately Peter Capaldi was a much older actor than Matt Smith and looked it, so a substantial chunk of the fandom gave up on the show after he was announced as Smith's successor solely on that basis (any effect on the ratings appears to have been virtually indistinguishable from the standard variance between series). A good chunk of the viewing audience, meanwhile, wasn't ready for a Doctor whose arc revolved around Defrosting Ice King Character Development alongside a companion who evolved into less of a Morality Chain due to having/developing similar personality traits, and ratings dropped after his first series. Even though he became Lighter and Softer in his two subsequent series (especially his last which brought in sunnier companions), a change usually pegged to the reception to Series 8 although it was also a logical progression for him, the audience didn't returnnote . But Capaldi ended his run as one of the most highly-regarded Doctors by critics and he has a loyal, cult fanbase — thus, the double subversion.
      • This is a major issue with the Expanded Universe novels of The '90s, which turned the more-manipulative Seventh Doctor into a Knight Templar and had much more adult content in general, which filtered into the later Eighth Doctor novels. It was created by and for the adult fanbase and was successful at the time, but because it left kids (and adults who didn't want Darker and Edgier) out in the cold, it is rarely revisited/republished now in part because it just doesn't feel like old or new Doctor Who.
    • Aversion: Much internal pushback about the Pertwee-era no-time travel Retool was based around fears it would be this — after all, who'd want a new setting where you can't travel in space and time in a space-time travel show? While the arc/era is still considered divisive and much of the production team resented it, it ended up being a hugely successful era that saw very good ratings.
    • Season 15, which is usually thought of as Tom Baker's weakest season, struggles with this somewhat. Executive Meddling had ordered the new producer to take out all the horror elements, so they were stuck making Doctor Who without Nightmare Fuel. The writers agreed Doctor Who can also be funny, and reworked the material to focus more on comedy... and then the executives told them to cut down on the comedy, too. This might have been okay had they been able to come up with some Visual Effects of Awesome, but at that time the huge "stagflation" recession of the 1970s hit and the BBC slashed their budget, leading to them running out of money midseason and resorting to production values that would have been laughable ten years ago. So the show couldn't scare you, make you laugh, or look interesting — all that was really left was the unusually good main team of the Doctor, Leela and K-9, who are almost enough to save it.
    • "Love & Monsters" is a decent story and a very personal one, and critics loved it. But most Doctor Who fans loathe it because it's an Out-of-Genre Experience to what Who has ever done before or since - a Lower-Deck Episode episode barely featuring the Doctor or the companion, and an allegory about obnoxious fans who don't know how to have a good time watching a show with their friends, with some really Campy Black Comedy, a controversial comedian in a fat suit, a love story between two peculiar-looking nerds and a quirky directorial style influenced by vlogging. The more cerebral sphere of fandom loves it, but the people who were just there for the Doctor having adventures got neither of those things.
    • "Let's Kill Hitler" was described by its own writer as being 'the regeneration rom-com guest starring Hitler that no-one asked for'. People who wanted Nazis got them used as jokey, borderline offensive window dressing, with Hitler literally shoved into a cupboard and forgotten about. People who didn't want Nazis and just cared about the characters had to contend with a plot that ignored all of the traumatic events that had happened to these characters in the last story. Old-school fans who just want space monsters got a romcom about the Doctor and his future wife, a concept which itself is alienating to that group, while non-fan casual viewers immediately had to contend with the convoluted plotting and Continuity Lockout, and the fans invested in the romance were turned off by the constant sexist Mars-and-Venus Gender Contrast jokes and the fact that the story is mostly about one of the characters being insane and trying to murder the other - Played for Laughs! But viewed as a kind of Trolling Creator primal scream, it's pretty entertaining.
  • Of Kings and Prophets is a retelling of the Books of Samuel by way of Game of Thrones; before it aired, its creators bragged about it being Hotter and Sexier and Bloodier and Gorier. The thing is, people interested in a religious show generally don't like that, and secular viewers probably weren't interested in a Biblical adaptation, despite promises of political drama. Add enough Values Dissonance and Grey and Gray Morality to make God and His followers seem like Villain Protagonists and it's no wonder this show got canceled two episodes in.
  • Each week in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, John Oliver discusses in depth some underexamined issue facing American society, and while they're occasionally very interesting on the face of it (for example, the piece deconstructing the claims people make in praise of Donald Trump; a review of season 2 says Last Week Tonight is "Probably the only show that can explore 'tax-exempt municipal bonds' and rack up 5 million YouTube views."), just as often the issue is... not exactly exciting. He's lampshaded this effect multiple times - for example, in the second episode when he realises they're about to do a piece on something as depressing as the death penalty, he promises the audience will get to see some really cute animals at the end if they stick around, and then there's this quote made as he announced the subject for the show the week after the very popular Donald Trump piece:
    That's right, we are talking tonight about special taxation districts. So, hello, people watching for the first time because of the Trump piece. And also, I presume: "Goodbye, goodbye!"
  • Cao Cao 2013 is a Chinese produced drama about the warlord Cao Cao, specifically tailored to show a human Cao Cao rather than the always in control warlord he is normally depicted as. However, Cao Cao is the main villain of the epic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the vast majority of its adaptations (spanning almost 2000 years), and the idea that you could make a drama showing him as being human was so alien to Chinese audiences that the series was actually released in Japan and South Korea first (as they were more accepting of the idea of a heroic Cao Cao). The fact that the traditional hero of the Romance Liu Bei is depicted as an opportunist (at best) also doesn't help.
  • Musikantenstadl was a long-running German show presenting volkstuemliche Musik, "folksy music" (often falsely called "Volksmusik", i.e. "folk music"). It was quite popular with older audiences; eventually, however, executives decided to aim for a younger audience (never mind that the producers were public broadcasters and therefore supposed or at least expected to take niches into account as well), and Musikantenstadl was Retooled into the Younger and Hipper Stadlshow. It was a spectacular flop; after all, young people are generally not interested in folksy music to begin with, so virtually all the retool accomplished was alienating the existing viewership. Nevertheless, it was decided to keep the Stadlshow concept, except that the program is now limited to new year specials, with only a single regular episode having been produced.
  • I Hate My Teenage Daughter: It didn't have the cynical and crude humor of shows like Married... with Children or Two and a Half Men as the title may suggest, making it unattractive for those audiences, and at the same time the premise behind it wasn't attractive for audiences preferring the family-friendly humor of shows like Full House or The Middle. Moral Guardians hated it because they saw it as contrary to traditional family values and the more edgy viewers didn't care for the normally Anvilicious Aesops that the show drops in every single episode. The show suffered from extremely low ratings and was canceled after one season.
  • Work It was a cross-dressing comedy about two St. Louis guys forced to dress as women in order to get jobs as pharmaceutical sales representatives, as said company only hires women. While that concept might have worked in The '70s, it had no chance in 2012, and was quickly cancelled after two episodes.
  • RoboCop: The Series, much like RoboCop 3, was part of an attempt to turn the up-until-3 very hard "R"-rated franchise into a franchise for children. Naturally, fans didn't take well to it and it only lasted one season.
  • While Animal Planet Heroes has won several awards throughout its multiple incarnations, good luck trying to ask non-fans to give it a watch. Pet and animal lovers that Animal Planet caters to would have to watch innocent pets with third-degree cases of Body Horror, along with potentially dying, courtesy from the moral bottom of mankind, with a fair chance that said animal abuser will get off scot-free, leaving that demographic emotionally-burning out quicker than a pre-Edison light bulb. Meanwhile, True Crime fans can get bored of watching what could be considered to be the same cases over and over again, just moved to a new city and with different animals.
  • Girlboss was a Netflix series about a snarky young hipster who starts her own company after being fired from her job. The problem is, one of the main plot points was that the protagonist was extremely smug, rude and generally unlikable, which made it very hard to root for her. And if that wasn't enough, the real person the show was based on got herself mired in serious legal trouble over her mistreatment of her employees shortly before it was released. It ended up being cancelled after just one season, an extreme rarity on Netflix which is famous for their lenient standards on renewal.
  • Feed The Beast was created by AMC as a "quirky crime drama" in the vein of their previous work Breaking Bad (adapted from a Swedish drama called Bankenrot ("Broke") ), this time focusing on the increasingly-digging-themselves-deeper-in-crime misadventures of a duo consisting of a cook who had just got out of prison (and was an obvious pastiche of "rock star" cooks like Anthony Bourdain), his best friend (a widowed, alcoholic, single-parent wine connoisseur with a son that was still struck silent from seeing his mom get hit by a car in front of him) as they tried to create the Bronx high-class restaurant dreamed by their deceased friend and wife (although in reality more of a swindle to buy time and obtain money by the cook to pay the mob boss that he used to work for, the mob boss accepting this because he's obsessed with cooking), and the cast of people surrounding them (an obsessive cop that wants to take down the mob boss, the aforementioned mob boos and kid, the wine connoisseur's Racist Grandpa of a father that wishes to get closer to the family, the somewhat-less-but-almost-there Amoral Attorney that got the cook out of prison (and he knocked up))... if you made it through that list, you can guess why the critics completely demolished the show (although they praised the acting of the entire cast, especially David Schwimmer's leading role): the "cooking drama" part of the show was unfulfilling (quoting shows like the failed adaptation of Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" as an example of why such things don't work), the constant attempts at Food Porn were deemed laughable, the "crime drama" part of the show clashed with the kitchen drama part to the point that it felt like two entirely different shows, the location didn't worked for them, and to make things worse the characters were such a collection of miserable people facing constant setbacks that it was a slog to watch. The show burned its single season (ending on a Cliffhanger) and then was removed.
  • Better Call Saul is a quite surprising aversion. First of all, a spin-off from one of the most highly acclaimed shows in recent memory is a huge risk. Then we find out that it's going to be a prequel about Saul, a minor, comic relief character who's fun in small doses, but his abrasive personality and total lack of morals make him hard to buy as a lead. Then, they add in Mike Ehrmantraut, another character from "Breaking Bad" who's also popular but always seemed too gruff and terse to hang a whole plot on, and effectively make him into a second protagonist. And, if that's not enough, being a prequel, we know exactly what's going to happen to these characters, making it almost impossible to build real tension. And yet, somehow, the series turned into a big success, both critically and with audiences.
  • HBO's Confederate suffered a major backlash from the moment it was announced based on the premise alone: it's set in an Alternate History where the South won the Civil War and became its own country, where slavery still exists in the present day. Even with absolutely nothing known about the characters or storylines, many were horrified that a show sure to include tons of uncomfortable racism was being released at a time when race relations in America were the most contentious they'd been in decades. Adding more fuel to the fire is that the show is David Benioff and D.B. Weiss' follow-up to Game of Thrones, which became increasingly mired in controversies over racist and sexist material over its run. For their part, Benioff and Weiss were quick to state that they knew full well they'd get this reaction, and they could only hope people would actually check out at least the first episode before making up their minds about it. HBO eventually moved it off the active production slate, though they're still keeping it on the backburner for now.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a musical deconstruction of romcom cliches, in which the protagonist suffers from serious emotional issues and constant self-sabotage, and every move toward a happy ending is derailed by running headlong into reality. The intersection between people who like comic musicals and those who like dark humor and cynical character studies is probably pretty small. Nonetheless, the combination of consistently glowing reviews, multiple awards, and strong network support has kept it on the air, despite generally dismal ratings.
  • The Defenders (2017) is liked for the whole basic premise of teaming up Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones (2015), Luke Cage (2016) and Danny Rand to fight an enemy. However, the execution of the villains, the mystical organization known as the Hand, was not as well received, with many reviewers believing that the mystical nature of the Hand doesn't work well with Netflix Marvel heroes whose standalone shows have primarily consisted of fighting grounded and street-level criminals. Perhaps notably, The Punisher (2017), which followed The Defenders, was much more acclaimed for using a very grounded-in-reality plot with no overt superpowers, while the second season of Luke Cage and third season of Daredevil returned to using the well-received main antagonists from their first seasons (Mariah Dillard and Shades for Luke Cage, and Wilson Fisk for Daredevil).
  • Santa Clarita Diet: This is a sitcom about a family where the mother becomes a zombie and starts to eat people. The show has been praised for being hilarious even at its darkest moments, but it has more gore than your average horror movie, with very graphic deaths, Bloody Horror and Body Horror both being Played for Laughs, which turned off several viewers who couldn't handle the very dark comedy of the show.
  • Wicked City tried to ride the Breaking Bad train by focusing on a Villain Protagonist and the woman he slowly drags into joining him. Unfortunately, what it missed is anything to make its main character Kent at all engaging or sympathetic so that people would be willing to follow his story in spite of his evil actions. It was pulled after three episodes, with the creators putting up a further five that hastily wrapped up the story (sort of, as Kent ends up a Karma Houdini so it feels like there was even less point to watching the thing) online. Then it lost any possibility of becoming a Cult Classic when Kent's actor Ed Westwick was accused of rape by several women in the early days of the Me Too movement, making his character's actions hit way too close to home for anyone to be comfortable watching it.
  • The Netflix series Insatiable is a Heathers-esque Black Comedy about an overweight girl who gets thin after having her jaw wired shut and takes revenge on all the people who bullied her over her weight. The release of the trailer resulted in a petition to stop the show's release for apparently just being a non-stop barrage of fat-shaming jokes. The company defended it by saying those jokes weren't meant to be agreed with as the villains were making them and we're meant to sympathize with their target, but the protestors responded that there's still an uncomfortable message in how she's only able to be happy after being forced to lose weight. While the reviews for the show upon its release were highly negative, it ended up renewed for a second season, though how well that does will determine whether this is a subversion of the trope or not.
  • The 1983 British music program Minipops was built on a simple premise: People like kids, and people like pop music, therefore people will like kids dressing up like pop stars and singing their songs. The trouble was that pop music is often a sexually suggestive medium. As it turned out, an adult wearing high heels, makeup, and a revealing outfit to sing about making love was one thing, but a preteen doing the same thing garnered a different reaction. The later, similar Kidz Bop in comparison tries hard to avoid this reaction by cleaning up a lot of their songs, and still attracts a lot of criticism. Minipops did it straight, and only lasted a single series. A more successful take on the Minipops formula lies in Kids Incorporated, which, like Kidz Bop, also Bowdlerised their covered songs when they needed to, and that series lasted a whopping eight seasons.
  • House of Cards (US) was already teetering on the edge with its asking the audience to stay invested in an especially vile Villain Protagonist who remains a near-total Karma Houdini for years, but it slipped into this completely with the revelation that lead star Kevin Spacey was an especially prolific sexual predator, with some of the character's crimes even bearing an unsettling resemblance to his real ones. The show received one more season with Spacey written out, but it's pretty much understood by everyone that the only people who will ever watch said final season are the ones who'd already seen the rest of the show by the time the news broke, as asking anyone to now sit through five seasons of this guy doing evil acts, getting away with it, and even gloating directly to the audience all the while, just to get to a single season without him, is one of the most impossible sells ever.
  • This is the reason Roundhouse isn't as popular as other 90's Nickelodeon shows. It's one part teen sitcom and one part Sketch Comedy, on a mainly barebones set with an ensemble cast of 12-15 actors telling a story using cardboard props (ironically, it was the most expensive of Nick's shows at the time as a lot of said cardboard props were mostly for one scene/joke). Add to that all the radar-dodging, parental bonuses and surprisingly awesome music, and few people knew what to make of it. It somehow managed to last four seasons. While many other Nickelodeon shows from the 1990's (including fellow SNICK stablemates Clarissa Explains It All, The Ren & Stimpy Show and Are You Afraid of the Dark?) remain hugely popular in The New '10s, Roundhouse has to settle for Cult Classic status.
  • Heathers had a core of an interesting idea in exploring how teen dynamics have changed in the 30 years since the film, and how a similar story might look in the new setting. Unfortunately, the trailer was a massive turnoff as it gave the impression the crew went so far with this idea that they turned the show into a neo-conservative fantasy about a beleaguered attractive, straight white girl who wreaks righteous fatal justice on her overweight, non-white, and LGBT oppressors, without a shred of irony to be seen. When multiple school shootings in 2018 made it seem even more out of touch, Paramount Network initially pulled the show altogether. It finally aired in October 2018 over the course of a week and re-edited its final two episodes into one by way of dropping some of the more upsetting content, and its advertising decided to run with No Such Thing as Bad Publicity, but it didn't work and it received lousy ratings at the end.

  • Gustav Mahler's Kindertotenlieder. That's right, "Songs on the Death of Children". Mahler based those songs on a series of over 400 poems written by Friedrich Rückert who wrote them as a way to cope with his grief after two of his children died. These poems were never intended for publication.
  • Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring: A dissonant, loud and threatening avant-garde ballet about the ritual sacrifice of a young virgin in prehistoric times to hail a new Spring? Sounds lovely! In fact, during the premiere performance the audience rioted.
  • Kiss's Music from "The Elder". One of the hardest rock bands in the world at the time attempting a Progressive Rock Concept Album? It just wouldn't fly. Even the band themselves consider it an Old Shame and have rarely ever performed any of the songs live.
  • Progressive Rock in general. While the genre is widespread, incorporating many different styles such as folk, metal, and classical music, most people only know it as "20-minute-long keyboard solos", despite there being many songs which only go on for about five minutes, and having music that incorporates absolutely nothing other than guitar, bass, drums and vocals.
  • The word 'goth' or 'gothic' when attached to music can have this effect on people who would otherwise like the music. It implies stereotypical gothic fashion and whiney lyrics over the sense of the more prog-like melody and Post-Punk atmosphere in the music.
  • Diane Diamond, in her book Be Careful Who You Love, suspects that Michael Jackson's 38-minute Short Film/Concept Video Ghosts was buried by Sony in North America because of its premise. Jackson plays the mysterious "Maestro", who is suspected of being up to no good when it's revealed that he's been secretly inviting a small town's kids to his spooky mansion for ghost stories. The Maestro is denounced as a freak by an evil, bigoted white Mayor (Jackson in a Fat Suit), so he summons up a troupe of ghouls to turn the tables on him and his mob. It's a blatant allegory for the child molestation accusations leveled against Jackson in 1993. Sony did get the clip wide distribution overseas, as the scandal hadn't done quite so much damage to Jackson's reputation there, and it eventually found wide North American exposure at the Turn of the Millennium. It should be noted though that "Ghosts" always was well-liked by his fanbase, who did not believe in the allegations in the first place (and yes, he did always have American fans too).
  • Fleetwood Mac decided to follow up the massive success of Rumours with Tusk, an expensive double album with bizarre, offputting artwork and bizarre, offputting songs by Lindsey Buckingham. It sold well, going double platinum, but did nowhere near as well as Rumours did. It's been Vindicated by History as a classic of experimental pop, but it stands as one of the best arguments against cocaine use.
  • This might be why metal band iwrestledabearonce haven't been able to get really big in the music world yet. They look like a bunch of scene kids and get marketed to that scene despite rejecting the label. Their sound is based out of Avant-Garde Metal with a bizarre hodgepodge of every type of metal and non metal styles out there. In short, they are too "weird" for scene kids while metalheads reject them for their image.
  • Double albums in general. In the minds of a lot of listeners, "double album" is synonymous with "self-indulgent mess".
  • Whatever the merits of U2's Songs of Innocence, a lot of people were creeped out by the way Apple automatically downloaded it to their libraries. Apple had to release a tool to remove the album for those who didn't want it.
  • Frank Zappa: A man who changes styles and genres in every composition or song he writes. Just as you're starting to enjoy a melody he may suddenly cut it off and replace it by something bizarre and offsetting. Regular poppy songs are intercut with avantgarde classical music, doowop chants, long and complex jazzy jams, bizarre quotes and conversations and sometimes silly noises. If you are someone who likes listening to all kinds of music you're going to have to stomach that this musician will also use his melodies to provide scathing social commentary, pointed Satire, bawdy and offensive sex jokes, inside jokes only he and his fellow musicians will get and sometimes plain stupid sing-a-longs about dangerous kitchens, poodles, sex dolls and Smelly Feet. As a record producer once said: No commercial potential. Indeed Zappa has always remained in the marginal corners of the musical scene, but still managed to build up a fanatical cult following.
  • The Wanted bombed in the United States because they were being pushed as a boy band. Unfortunately, their members were all in their early 20's at the time they started to release music there, so they proved to be unable to build up the teenage girl fanbase that helps boy bands succeed. The boy band image also alienated adult listeners, who were also growing tired of the electropop sound dominating the airwaves at the time.
  • Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed is a double LP set with nothing but continuous droning of guitar feedback and screeching noises. How anybody on Earth could've thought this wouldn't end in commercial disaster is a sheer mystery?
  • John Lennon and Yoko Ono's first three albums are all experimental recordings. Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins (1968) is basically John and Yoko experimenting with noise and feedback while Yoko wails. Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions (1969) has more of the same, though luckily only one LP side worth of that. The second side is Yoko and John singing newspaper articles, a recording of the heartbeat monitor of their unborn baby (who died in miscarriage), two minutes or pure silence and Yoko playing around with a radio. Wedding Album (1969) has John and Yoko saying their names for one entire LP side, while side 2 is a couple of songs, press interviews and background noise in their hotel room during their Bed-In peace project. Needless to say, it's not difficult to see why these albums are not often mentioned when people lament Lennon's genius as a songwriter!
  • Songs of the Humpback Whale was the first album with nothing but sounds of singing whales. At the time humans had always thought whales were mute, but this record proved otherwise. It was first released as a free record with an issue of National Geographic Magazine, because nobody thought anyone would buy it. Unexpectedly there was such a high demand for it that it was released as a full album and became an international bestseller. It was instrumental in showing people that these creatures' singing abilities were a hidden talent and cemented the image of the whale as a Gentle Giant in people's heads. The entire "Save The Whales" movement was inspired by this record and eventually the entire album was deemed so important that the National Recording Registry selected it for preservation.
  • Kenji Sawada's concept album Onnatachiyo. A concept album based on The Tale of Genji from a singer mostly known for his anthemic live performances, with lyrics outright written in haiku freestyle, and complex instrumentation with Julie's backing band EXOTICS buried under layers of synthesizers from Yellow Magic Orchestra's Hideaki Matsutake. The album had virtually no live tour attached to it, and is probably the most polarizing album of Sawada's 80s albums.
  • "And We Run" by Within Temptation is a song that combines gothic/symphonic metal with rap. The two genres don't mix much (if at all) so many people were turned off; however, people that have heard the song typically have a positive reaction.
  • Big Grams, consisting of rapper Big Boi and indietronica band Phantogram, wasn't able reach anything further than a niche audience. The combination of Southern Rap and shoegazey glitch-pop was too odd to fit on either the urban or alternative formats. The ones that did listen to it, generally liked it however.
  • Panic! at the Disco's 2007 album Pretty. Odd. turned out to be this for the band's fanbase at the time. An emo-pop band doing a throwback to 1960s baroque pop and psychedelic pop (particularly The Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)? It just didn't fly with their fans. It ultimately resulted in half the band departing to form a new band.
  • One More Light by Linkin Park is the most hated album in their library because of the very premise. The band, known for mixing rock, hip-hop with flavorings of electronica together while having a unique identity, while also featuring a Vocal Tag Team, making an album that almost completely abandons both rock and hip-hop (save for few disparate elements) and cranks up the electronica to create a pop album meant to be enjoyed by tween and teen girls who listen to artists like The Chainsmokers. Safe to say, this didn't win points with anyone. When all the songs were revealed, with barely audible guitar, only one song featuring the Chester/Mike combo (which was hampered by two other rappers being there), near-invisible instrumentation that wasn't synthetic, listeners were scratching their heads wondering exactly how this was supposed to be welcomed by their longtime loyal fans. Yet the band expects them to do just that, and flat-out insulted them for "not moving on from Hybrid Theory". It didn't help that Chester Bennington sadly killed himself just a few months after One More Light came out. While many fans have been kinder to the album in light of that, most people might be uncomfortable with listening to what's essentially a suicide note.
  • This is cited by many as the reason for the era of Bubblegum Music lasting barely two years. The basic premise of bubblegum was that it was music to sell to children who 'couldn't listen to The Beatles any more because they didn't understand the drug references', but the low curation of the genre (with songs written by bored twenty-somethings) combined with the arty pop style of the late 60s meant that the lyrics were often too dark, sexual and lysergic for parents to allow their kids to listen to it, while the grownups were happy listening to real psychrock instead of the watered down version. Numerous bubblegum acts used their fame to gain full creative control of their output and put out bizarre albums no-one wanted, often with psychedelic/experimental (The Monkees) or apocalyptic Christian themes (The Osmonds and The Cowsills) that served as Nightmare Fuel for the target audience of eleven-year-olds. Serious music nerds who might have been interested in the Outsider Music elements wouldn't be caught dead listening to something so uncool as a manufactured band to sell records to children. You couldn't even crush on a lot of bubblegum artists, since many were session musicians if not literal cartoon characters. Even now, people arguing for the genre's artistic legitimacy mostly cite its influence on future genres like Disco and Power Pop, rather than as something you can actually listen to and enjoy on its own merit, even if you are under 12.
  • Jimi Hendrix is famously celebrated as one of the greatest guitar players of all time, but this wasn't always the case. Back when he was starting out, Jimi's guitar playing in the States was seen as too wild and unfocused for many bands he tried to join, and the few bands he did join, part ways with him shortly afterwards. It wasn't until he traveled to Europe that his guitar playing was embraced and he formed The Experience. He then returned to the States with the hit song "Hey Joe" and the rest is history. His once unfocused guitar playing has since been used as a blueprint for many Rock guitar players that would come long after his unfortunate untimely death.
  • Exclusively for German-speaking countries, Melanie C collaborated with Rosenstolz to produce "Let There Be Love", a Translated Cover Version of "Liebe ist alles", and got disappointed that all the people who had purchased the original track less than a decade earlier wouldn't buy the same song with the same instrumentation again in English.
  • The glam metal band Vinnie Vincent Invasion never really took off because of this trope, according to drummer Bobby Rock in his autobiography. The band had the commercial pomp of late period glam bands like Def Leppard and Poison, but Vinnie Vincent's guitar playing was often too experimental(he derived just as much from jazz and blues in his playing as typical shred metal) for the type of crowd that music attracted back then; most of the songs Vinnie Vincent played were fast paced, but were usually over 5 minutes long and not arena rock friendly.

  • In 1988, the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company launched Premier, a smokeless cigarette that heated tobacco rather than burning it, allowing smokers to enjoy the taste of tobacco without that harmful secondhand smoke and messy ash. What few of the existing audience of smokers who were willing to give Premier a shot were not pleased by Premier's taste and the complicated instructions required to light it, while the potential new audience of non-smokers who were already put off by tobacco products still refused to give them a shot. By the following year, Premier was snuffed out.

  • Pinball itself can be this: The prevalence of the Pinball Gag has caused the public perception of pinball to be basically banging a ball wildly and aimlessly with the flippers until the machine won't let you do that anymore, with little else to it. In other words, there isn't much public interest in pinball under the idea of, "What can a pinball game do that video games and mobile games can't do better?" It was not until 2012, with Jersey Jack Pinball's release of The Wizard of Oz, which has a huge monitor, that the perception has started to shift. It's a very slow one, however, due to the relative scarcity of pinball machines in public compared to arcade video games and redemption machines, and with these monitor-based ones being very expensive, they'll remain rare for the foreseeable future.
  • Bally's Spectrum was an attempt to combine the action of Pinball with the puzzle game Mastermind. Unfortunately, cerebral logic puzzles and arcade games are two great tastes that don't necessarily taste great together — of the 994 machines produced, fewer than five hundred were sold, and the others were scrapped or salvaged.
  • Pat Lawlor's Safe Cracker rewarded good players with Real Life tokens, which could be collected, used to play "Assault on the Vault", or (possibly) be redeemed for drinks and prizes. Players didn't care for any of the options and the idea never caught on.
  • Golden Logres tried to combine realistic pinball action with the mission-oriented structure of a Role-Playing Game. While die-hard players loved the challenge, it alienated everyone else who just wanted straightforward arcade action.
  • James Bond 007 was a time-based pinball game; the player starts off with 50 seconds, and can keep playing so long as he has time remaining, which he gets by making key shots. Unfortunately, novices couldn't build up enough time to enjoy the game, while experts found it easily exploitable for long games. The backlash was so bad that most operators tried to return the tables to Gottlieb as a result.
  • Orbitor 1 is a pinball game built on a transparent warped plexi-bowl, which causes the ball to loop and spiral as it travels along the table. Unfortunately, the sparse layout, simple rules, and sheer difficulty of aiming shots on an uneven surface quickly turns off most players.
  • Baby Pac-Man was an attempt to blend video games and pinball; a fan of one was unlikely to be a fan of the other. Those who happen to enjoy both had a hard time getting past the absurd difficulty and changes to the typical Pac-Man formula, such as starting with no Power Pellets and the Ghost AI being far more aggressive. It doesn't help that you have to be good at both Pac-Man and pinball in order to do well.
  • While The Twilight Zone is not a failure by any means and is a Cult Classic nowadays, it could not recapture the lightning in a bottle Bally achieved with The Addams Family prior because of its confusing layout and incredibly complicated rules. Those who could figure it all out had a blast. To everybody else, The Twilight Zone just didn't make any sense.
  • In the late 00's, Stern attempted to market pinball machines to China. Unfortunately for them, they didn't check in advance what would appeal to their potential new audience and began with Big Buck Hunter Pro and NBA—while basketball is pretty popular in China, both of these machines are based on thoroughly American franchises largely unfamiliar to Chinese audiences. Pinball is also not a concept that's widely understood in China the way it is in western countries, rendering it incomprehensible to any curious onlookers.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • While Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling started with the fairly tame premise of pro wrestlers competing against various martial artists and athletes from other sports, the "anything goes" nature of the bouts quickly saw an escalation to blood letting, burning, electrocution and worse. Those who watched FMW in its glory years will tell you it offered so many different match types that it was possible to still enjoy it while ignoring the more Garbage heavy matches and indeed, some did. On the flip side, when Kodo Fuyuki tried to introduce a safer style to FMW he called "sports entertainment", that was an audience alienating premise to the FMW faithful who had learned to like the occasional blood bath and those who stuck around ended up leaving too when they learned "sports entertainment" translated to less variety even among the normal matches. The concepts associated with "sports entertainment" would later be more successfully implemented by All Japan Pro Wrestling during its "Puroresu Love" rebuilding period and Fighting Opera HUSTLE. HUSTLE was a bit of a cash sink that could only survive under Nobuhiko Takada, but it at least had favorite wrestlers of many fans and Bile Fascination going for it.
  • A wrestling promotion with Vince Russo as booker that expects you to pay ten dollars a week, where the first thirty minutes of the first show featured nothing but talking. Wrestling fans wanting to torture themselves could see pretty much the same thing for free. But then more people started to notice, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, and Low Ki and declared the X Division to be a new landmark of pro wrestling! All the same, financial success wouldn't come to TNA until a while after Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle were signed.
  • The biggest point of contention regarding the transition from Yoshimoto Women's Pro Wrestling Jd' to JD Star was the "Athtress" program, which involved the promotion trying to get the wrestlers acting deals and to that end scouting trainees who had the looks of models for its dojo. A good deal of fans and workers alike were not amused by the idea of using the sport as a stepping stone to pop stardom and JD ended up losing as many fans in the transition as it gained. World Wonder Ring STARDOM found more success signing already famous model Yuzuki Aikawa and having veteran joshi Nanae Takahashi subjugate her to a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in her first match to garner audience sympathy.
  • The Syfy revival of ECW (aired on basic cable from 2006 to 2010) ended up being this, for various reasons. To begin with, the show was only an hour long, which left very little time to develop storylines amidst matches that could go on for as long as ten minutes or more. The original hardcore fanbase that had watched the pay-per-views religiously during the late '90s hated the fact that the promotion had been stripped of everything that had made the original ECW unique; worse, many of the biggest Extremists of that era were either taken off television or moved to the Raw and SmackDown rosters. And as if all that weren't bad enough, ECW was almost from the start treated as a second-class (and by the end of its run, even third-class) promotion, being used as a testing ground for new talent or a place where older wrestlers (William Regal, for example) went in the twilight of their in-ring careers - and by 2010, the promotion wasn't even fairly represented in the Royal Rumble Match! The result was a form of sports-entertainment that pleased no one, its only strong point being that it essentially introduced CM Punk to the world.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Little Muppet Monsters. As Scott Shaw! (who storyboarded the series) put it "The concept of this second half-hour was neither simple nor particularly well-developed." Basically, three new kid Muppet monsters live in the basement of the Muppets' home and create their own TV station which broadcasts Muppet-based cartoons, but only to the familiar Muppet characters living above them. Yeah. When a failure to produce the animated segments in time resulted in the show being replaced after three episodes by a second episode of Muppet Babies (the show was scheduled to follow Muppet Babies to create an hour-long slot called "Muppets, Babies and Monsters"), ratings shot up, and everyone involved said "Well, let's do that, then." LMM's blending of animation and Muppets would be handled much better in Dog City (adapted from a special aired on The Jim Henson Hour), which lasted a good 31 episodes on Fox Kids.

    Tabletop Games 
  • FATAL's premise is "What if, instead of playing in a sanitized Dungeons & Dragons-style fantasy world, you had one with all the negative traits of Ancient Rome and The Dung Ages and more casual references to rape than you can shake a stick at rolled into one?" Even if FATAL had been a masterwork of mechanical genius (which it isn'tnote ), with a premise like that, it wouldn't have made it big anyway. One of the most well-known memes about the "game" is "Roll for anal circumference!"note , an infamous thematic element are suits of magical armor that turn your character into offensive racial stereotypes and are named after racial slursnote , and the sample adventure mentions a character called Cuntrina. The audience for this game seems to be racist, misogynistic young males who enjoy polynomials and scatological humor.
  • There is a half-finished RPG called Racial Holy War. The title alone probably satisfies any sane person's curiosity, but the premise is that in the future, folks without a lot of melanin are oppressed by racial stereotypes of those with a lot of melanin who have taken over the world at the behest of Jewish masters. The game seems aimed at Dungeons & Dragons playing Klansmen who were upset racial minorities weren't in the Monster Manual. Even the elements that are there are so badly designed that some people suspect it's a Stealth Parody. (It really is not, it was written by a Priest in all seriousness.)
  • Star Fleet Battles does this through sheer complexity. The premise is to make a game which captures the full in-universe depth of running the starships from Star Trek in combat. Many people take one look at the Door Stopper manual and opt out. A second, minor point of alienation is that the game has its own 'verse, which is likely to annoy some purists who would be more willing to invest in learning the game if it was "really Trek." However, the game has been around since 1979, so it has found sufficient fans to be a Long Runner.
  • Ironclaw is a good game. It has a fun, broad, and deep setting that allows for different kinds of game, it has a good gameplay system that strikes a decent balance between depth and usability, it offers the player lots of freedom in terms of what kind of character to build, and the rulebooks even have good production values for their price. Unfortunately, despite its quality, it will almost certainly never gain recognition as anything but a niche title because of the decision to replace all of the standard tabletop RPG Five Races Plus Hybrids with Funny Animals. Just imagine telling your group you're thinking about running a campaign of "the furry game!"
  • GURPS marketing campaign is a chronic, self-inducted nightmare anytime the game system is released in a new market. The system by its own intention and design is universal, thus can be used as players choose. So selling basic books and supplements to mechanics is easy, going as far as ads comparing the expansions with new sets of LEGO by their compatibility. More so as they are solid and with standardised and transparent rules for just about anything players can imagine. But selling settings for the game? Forget it. While there are tons of predefined settings, worlds and even whole universes made for GURPS, people are usually too preoccupied with "Generic" in the name of the game or with the idea of creating their own setting using "Universal" mechanics. Given that about 80-85% of all books released for GURPS are different, original and often very complex settings and their expansions, the struggle is real. Let's use the slogan "build your own game-world" and at the same time try to sell such worlds. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

    The sheer number of settings make any large-scale marketing campaign impossible. Typical tabletop RPGs have their own set of mechanics and own single setting, so it's very easy to focus or find a target group. In the case of GURPS, there are all shades and flavors of fantasy, sci-fi, realistic, cinematic, comedy, gritty and light-hearted settings you can imagine, or even those you never dreamed about. Thus while the game as a whole can satisfy any player, you just can't run ads for all the settings or you'll go bankrupt trying.
  • Black Crusade was the first ever attempt to create a Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying game where the assumption was that the players would not be members of the Imperium. Unfortunately, it features three very alienating aspects. Firstly, extremely grimdark content matter — though some efforts were made to present a more neutral "no worse than the Imperium" viewpoint, the basic gist of the game is that you are committing all manner of atrocities, often against innocent civilians, for the sake of personal benefit. Secondly, the handling of both human and Space Marine party members boils down to making it that Chaos Marines are veritable gods of slaughter but almost useless at anything that doesn't involve that, whilst Heretics get to be inferior in combat but the "skill monkeys" of the group. Thirdly, and most damningly, actual in-rulebook support for inter-party conflict and struggling. All in all, a game only really viable for those groups mature enough and skilled enough to handle the backstabbing and infighting without disrupting the game, paired with very pigeonholing rule-structure and extreme gameplay fluff.
  • Bleak World is a very fun and simple horror/action/adventure RPG. However, it crammed too much into one area to ever appeal to a single audience. Essentially Lovecraftian Eldritch Abominations are threatening to destroy the Earth and an alien race of Magical Girls is the only thing stopping them from consuming us all... and that's about 5% of the plot, the rest is made up of vampire politics (complete with Twilight jokes/homages that also happily joke about millenials), werewolf politics, witches coming back to life and serving warring gods, Little Green Men invading Earth, twisted experiments Gone Horribly Wrong trying to become real humans again, Ghosts trying not to die again, mummies serving different gods from the ones the Princesses are fighting and the Witches are worshiping, a race of Giants and goblins trying to get back home, and finally the remnants of humanity just trying to survive all of that. Good luck trying to find a GM to fit all of that into a game.
  • Redakai was a trading card game doomed by its own gimmick. The cards are translucent with paint on certain parts, so that players had to stack cards and combine their attributes, and attacks take the form of battle damage that reduces the victim's health bar. Not a bad idea on paper, but this also means that you needed a special board to prevent your opponent from seeing what you have. Combine this with the "basic" game giving you no control over what happens, and you have a game that hit the bargain bin after just a couple of months. The Animated Adaptation being a critical and commercial flop as well also hurt it in this regard.
  • Given that White Wolf prides itself on trying to be the Darker and Edgier and/or "realistic" game company, it should be little wonder that over the years, some of its game lines have proven... less than successfully received, a trait that Onyx Path Publishing has only continued.
    • Wraith: The Oblivion:
      • Perhaps the most infamous example of this from the Old World of Darkness. While the World of Darkness — as the name implies — is a Crapsack World, most of the games shoot into A World Half Full and let you Earn Your Happy Ending. Even then, there's definitely some Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy in the setting and its metaplot, which was the slow wind-down to initial extinction. Wraith takes all that darkness and doubled-down. Your character is already dead, is in the underworld harrowed by his own destructive impulses — which are trying to destroy him forever — and everything he has in the underworld is made from the souls of those too weak to stand. Many an Eldritch Abomination commands hordes of hungry, tormented spirits, and a restful afterlife looks to be little more than a happy fiction. The other wraiths live in a society that is a caricature of oppression in ancient Rome. The landscape and characters look like something H.G. Giger would paint if he were aiming for self-parody via BDSM. A few games of this, and even Warhammer sounds bright and cheery.
      • Charnel Houses of Europe stands out among these by being about wraiths spawned from the Holocaust.
      • Wraith also has a mechanic wherein every ghost had a "shadow" that turned up periodically to try to corrupt and undermine them, and each player character's shadow was played by another character's player. So not only was every player required to effectively play two characters (their PC and another PC's shadow) but the game had a built-in mechanic requiring players to screw each other over. The intent was to create deep, psychological roleplaying where the players got to flex their drama muscles as much as the GM; the effect was that most people saw it as a game that could only end in hurt feelings and recriminations.
    • Changeling: The Dreaming is another World of Darkness game that often got painted with this brush as well, and for the opposite reason to Wraith — it came across as too bright, especially when the second edition outright told players that the Dreaming was supposed to be a bright contrast to the rest of the World of Darkness (illustrations like the "bear with balloons" certainly didn't help, making it seem almost childlike). And then those who were looking for a brighter game than, say, Vampire or Werewolf dug deeper, only to find that the whole game was about fighting against the death of imagination, a fight most changelings inevitably lost. Those who were looking for something along the lines of the rest of the World of Darkness found something covered in glitter; those who wanted something cheerier found the glitter flaked off easily.
    • Kindred of the East, while not quite as bad off as Wraith or Changeling, suffered some of this as well, as it required Westerners to have a decent understanding of Asian mysticism and religions. It never came close to the popularity of Vampire: The Masquerade and its many spin-offs due to this, which admittedly wasn't helped by the fact it came out in a time when actually getting the aforementioned research wasn't easy. To make the matters worse, if you do have even cursory understanding of Asian mysticism, then you start seeing major research failure from the authors.
    • Exalted puts a mechanically deep combat system in a world of harsh politics, where a normal soldier can win a fight and die of gangrene, and where longterm change is as dependent on good bureaucracy as on the fist of immortal god-killing warriors, strongly inspired by and often tearing apart classical mythological heroes of the past. In the Second Edition, this happened to be behind a game best-known for playable characters waving surfboard-sized swords and throwing around blasts of energy like Dragon Ball Z, a part of the setting the mechanics theoretically supported but few GMs or players could, and even much of the writing staff focused on the Sutra-like Sidereal charms or the More Metal Than Thou effects found in the Green Sun Prince arsenal.
    • One of the earliest examples of this trope from the Chronicles of Darkness is Promethean: The Created. Devoted to playing as golems à la Frankenstein's Monster with the goal of Become a Real Boy, Promethean suffers from a combination of fluff that is brilliantly written but very heavy on the Wangst, due to its emphasis on the Created's nature as In-Universe Hate Sinks and Walking Wastelands, an end-goal that many players find counter-intuitivenote , punishing mechanics that can easily make the game unfun, a susceptibility to Railroading, and just a general playstyle that demands a high level of maturity and good communication on the parts of both player and storyteller, due to the very intimate focus of the game. Much like Wraith before it, Promethean has earned a reputation amongst NWoD fans as "the greatest game that nobody plays". This has led directly to the authors trying to tone the game down in its second edition to hopefully make it more accessible.
    • Another game from the Chronicles of Darkness to suffer this is Beast: The Primordial. It's a hard enough sell to begin with, as it's unashamedly a game dedicated to playing as Villain Protagonists, but add in the fact that Beasts map onto the Abuser archetype all too well, the lack of "lightening" optionsnote , moral objections to the canonical "Beasts justify their feeding with the excuse of teaching humanity Wisdom Through Fear" angle, and perceived Unfortunate Implications about how Beasts "tie-in" to various real-world minorities, and Beast has become the most reviled gameline in the entirety of the Chronicles of Darkness.
  • One of the reasons why the otherwise decent Luck & Logic didn't really get off the ground is because matches can take forever. Average time for a round is 45 minutes. Combine that with tourney-style play, and you'll have most of the players already exhausted after the second match. For the record, most of the popular CCGs like Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Pokemon can finish a match in 10 to 25 minutes. That's approximately half the duration. Pop open any Starter/Trial Deck and open the rules side of the pack-in playmat. At first glance, the sheer rules density is intimidating enough to scare off card gamers looking for a simple, go-to game. However, the rules are actually quite intuitive once you learn them.
  • Warriors Adventure Game, the licensed RPG adaptation of Warrior Cats (listed above under Literature due to its own issues on this front), was an attempt by the publisher to get tabletop RPG fans interested in the book series. The book series is targeted at girls ages 9-12, while tabletop RPG players are generally much older and tend to be male, so there already wasn't much demographic overlap. The game is too complicated for a kid who's never played a tabletop RPG before, but too simplistic for an audience that's experienced with RPGs. The pre-written adventures were included in books 19-24 of the series, which make no sense unless you've read books 1-18, so if you've just picked them up for the adventures you're not going to get into the book series from them. Essentially, nobody who reads the series is going to be interested in the game, and nobody who plays RPGs is going to pick up the game to begin with, never mind start reading the series because of it. Predictably enough, the game lasted under three years before getting canned - although you can still find the rules on the website, and current printings of books 19-24 continue to have the adventures in the back, nothing new will be published.

  • The Golden Ticket is a musically-sophisticated opera full of Genius Bonus musical in-jokes for buffs... but it's also an adaptation of a popular children's novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Critic James L. Paulk's review of the Atlanta Opera's staging for was fairly positive, but pointed out that adults who love opera would likely find the source material too kiddy for their tastes, while kids wouldn't appreciate the jokes referencing adult operas and styles in the score and find proceedings too slow-going. (That much of the book's snarkier humor is absent doesn't help.) The result, according to Paulk, was a show that didn't sell a lot of tickets and had many families leaving at intermission — which is to say, kids didn't want to stick around for the actual tour of the factory! He also thought the show was too long for said kids at 2 and 1/2 hours with intermission. Compare this to the success of the 2013 stage musical adaptation of the novel, which lasted 3 1/2 years on the West End with a similar runtime.
  • Stephen Sondheim shows are notorious for these. This is why, for all their acclaim, only a few of his musicals (Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, etc.) are well-known to the general public.
    • Follies: Two married couples who met in the glory days of Ziegfeld-style stage revues confront each other over their regrets for the past and unhappy present-day lives.
    • Pacific Overtures: Japan opening itself up to the encroaching Western world in the 19th century, with staging inspired by Kabuki theater (an all-male cast, etc.).
    • Sunday in the Park with George: Act One — Painter Georges Seurat chooses art over love. Act Two — His descendant in The '80s comes to grips with the struggle to create great art in a world full of critics.
    • Assassins: The men and women who assassinated, or tried to assassinate, American presidents.
    • Passion: In the 19th century, a young soldier has a Stalker with a Crush — a mentally unbalanced, homely, terminally ill woman who adores him. Notable for having the shortest-ever run of a Broadway show that won the Best Musical Tony Award, with 280 performances — less than a year's worth.
    • Merrily We Roll Along has a workable central premise in the tragic story of three friends who all lose their youthful optimism over the course of two decades and end up with every artistic spark crushed out, but was doomed with its setup of telling the story in reverse order. The first audiences were horribly confused and walked out in droves, and there were quite a few rewrites to try to make it more understandable over the course of more than a decade before he finally gave up.
  • Imagine This was a 2008 West End musical set in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 depicting a Jewish theater troupe that learns, during their Show Within a Show about the siege of Masada, that the ghetto's residents are being tricked into going to certain doom in the concentration camps. At the end, most of the troupe is murdered for trying to warn the audience. Not hard to see why this would-be inspiring musical didn't last two months (counting the preview period); both the main story and the Show Within a Show have downer endings, and the basic conceit of a Holocaust-set musical is a questionable one.
  • This might be one reason Andrew Lloyd Webber's Stephen Ward failed — it's a musical about the Profumo Affair, a political scandal with little relevance to those who weren't adults living in the U.K. in The '60s. That Lloyd Webber decided to open this dramatic, adult musical just in time for Christmas 2013 (when theatre audiences tend to gravitate towards lighthearted and/or fun-for-the-whole-family fare) couldn't have helped.
  • The 2014 West End musical comedy I Can't Sing! got some good notices, but when it closed in less than three months (again, counting a preview period), British theatre newspaper The Stage wasn't the only one to point out that the show had a shaky premise when it came to audience appeal — it was an officially-sanctioned parody of The X Factor, complete with backing from Simon Cowell himself. The audience who watched The X Factor on TV wasn't interested in paying West End ticket prices for a parody of something they could watch at home, while regular theatergoers were turned off by the self-promoting, lowbrow concept. To make matters much worse, the overconfident producers gave it a huge physical production and staged it in one of the largest theatres in town (the Palladium), so whatever good word-of-mouth there was from those who did see it wasn't nearly enough to fill the theatre and justify the day-to-day running expenses.
  • Side Show is a musical drama based on the lives of Violet and Daisy Hilton, Conjoined Twins who became 1930s vaudeville stars and are best remembered today (if at all) for their appearance in the film Freaks. The original 1997 Broadway staging was a flop, but the show has an intense enough fanbase that it received a revival in 2014... which had an even shorter run. Ads for both versions tried to get around the premise by not directly stating it, but that didn't help. To quote a New York Times article on the revival's closure:
    "We'd tell clients that the show was about conjoined twins, Siamese twins, and it just created horrible images in people's heads," Scott Mallalieu, the president of, a theater ticketing agency, said. "The only clients who bought tickets had seen the original Side Show on Broadway and loved it. Everyone else was turned off."
  • Goosebumps was adapted as a screenplay titled Screams in the Night; mere months after its premiere it was put on indefinite hiatus and never re-aired. In addition to rather poor writing, the fact that Goosebumps appealed to young fans of horror and not adults who appreciate theatre didn't help it gain an audience.
  • Hamilton is something of a real-life subversion. Michelle Obama admits that, after she and her husband invited Lin-Manuel Miranda to perform at the White House poetry slam and he told them he planned to perform a piece about Alexander Hamilton, they were... less than excited. And sure enough, when the performance did happen, the audience breaks out into bemused laughter as he explains that he will perform a hip-hop piece about Alexander Hamilton, as he felt embodied hip-hop. Even while singing the song itself, the audience starts laughing once he gets to the part where he solemnly repeats Hamilton's name. However, as proof that Tropes Are Not Bad, the musical has become enormously successful anyway — Michelle Obama later stated that it was the best work of art she'd seen in any form, ever, and the show is widely considered to be a very famous case of Better Than It Sounds.
  • Spring Awakening:
    • The original, containing a lot of teen angst, a masturbation scene, underage sex, gay kisses, incest, suicide, and advertised "real onstage nudity", had a lot going against it. Ended up nominated for 11 Tony Awards and won 8.
    • The revival, which incorporated American Sign Language, censored nothing from the original, and had cast members with varying hearing abilities, turned off some hearing audience members who didn't want to see a "deaf musical", assuming it'd be incomprehensible. Result: Nominated for three Tonys and got a national tour.
  • The Testament Of Mary was based on a novel about the Virgin Mary, set after Jesus' death. We are assured that Mary was not a virgin when Jesus was born, he did not come back from the dead, and all of his followers are morons for thinking he was some kind of messiah. At one point Mary also pulls out a knife and threatens to murder some of those followers in their sleep. It was nominated for three Tony Awards, and critics expressed confusion when it ended its run early, having only played for about five months. Apparently viewers who might have been interested in a religious story didn't like the implication that their holy figure would have wanted to stab them to death.
  • The musical adaptation of Heathers sticks to its original premise of two teenagers start killing students and framing them as suicides in an upper class white high school, starting with the local Alpha Bitch. It's full of Black Comedy, Mood Whiplash, and frequently Crosses the Line Twice, both playing the deaths of rich kids for laughs yet taking the act of suicide very seriously. Being based on an even darker source film that gathered a modest cult following, it didn't even make it to Broadway before major productions lost steam. It still attracted a very loyal following of adult fans of the original and teenagers that liked the snarky humor.
  • The notorious 1988 musical adaptation of Carrie was brought down most of all by how the story simply wasn't suited to the format, a downer tale of high school bullying that ends in mass slaughter with only a single character left alive for a limp final note. This especially affected the central set-piece of Carrie destroying the prom; the pig's blood prank that sets it off was done by Billy simply pouring a bucket of raspberry jam onto her head, followed by the actors all writhing around and desperately trying to give the impression of a level of destruction that is not possible to stage in live theater. The show was also noted for doing a terrible job of establishing Carrie's telekinetic powers for anyone not familiar with the novel or film, with her only breaking a light bulb in the opening scene before the act break of her slamming every window shut and shoving her mother in the closet. Even an attempt to revamp the show in 2012 with a greatly revised script and several song changes didn't get much of anywhere, though it was at least seen as a better use of the story's potential, and got the creators willing to license it out unlike the original version.
  • Urinetown. A dark musical comedy about drought, corporate corruption, bloody revolution and mandatory public urinals? It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea.

  • LEGO:
    • It is generally believed that this was a major reason behind the failure of LEGO's Robo Riders theme. Their previous attempt at buildable, collectible action figures, Slizers, was a big hit for its creative setting (robots in different elemental settings) and for the uniqueness of the models. However, whereas the Slizers were identifiable characters with posable limbs, Robo Riders were essentially goofy-looking alien motorbikes with weird weaponry attached. They came with no rider figures, nor did they have seats — instead, the wheels were the riders, with printed decals on the sides of the wheels representing the otherwise unbuildable characters. And they launched these wheels like projectiles, meaning that every shot reduced the bikes to a nonfunctional mess with one wheel at the end. The concept was too esoteric for kids who wanted more Slizers sets, and the line failed.
    • Learning from this mistake, LEGO began working together more closely with creative agencies and storytellers for their next line, BIONICLE, and turned what was originally conceptualized as a story of robot tribesmen beating each others' heads off into a more serious Science Fantasy epic that resonated well with its audience, and became one of their most popular series. Ironically, BIONICLE itself became an example in its later years because kids couldn't keep up with its over-thought continuity, and after nine and a half years, LEGO had to cancel it.
    • The later Bionicle reboot was significantly simplified, some would say too much. Apart from the original team of Toa and the basic Cain and Abel Light vs. Dark concept, very little of the first generation was re-adapted into the new story-line, and what took its place was largely considered underwhelming. The line ultimately disappointed veteran fans and failed to interest new ones, and was thus canceled after two years of a proposed three year grace period.
    • Galidor's tie-in LEGO line: a bunch of overpriced gimmicky action figures with swappable body parts and virtually no compatibility with other LEGO sets. May have been more successful as a regular toy line made by another company, but LEGO lovers hated the enormous, useless pieces and other buyers didn't know where to put these weird, expensive toys (the LEGO logos, which may have given them confidence about the product's quality, were hidden on the boxes).
    • Around the same time as Galidor, LEGO attempted to reach out to kids who didn't like building toys. The result was the Jack Stone line, LEGO sets with (again) big, specialized pieces and very little in the way of construction. Too "juniorized" (and still LEGO) for bigger kids, not exciting enough for smaller children, and unacceptable for adults. However, this building style was kept for a few years, strictly promoted towards a younger crowd, before being abandoned.
  • Novi Stars was a doll line aimed at little girls where all the characters were Ugly Cute alien and robot girls. It barely lasted two years. And their fairly cheap make sadly turned away most toy collectors interested.
  • Back in 1965, Hasbro once made a doll called Little Miss No Name, in an attempt to tug at little girls' heartstrings by offering them a toy modeled after a sad homeless girl. Unfortunately, this toy proved to be unsuccessful not only because of her depressing backstory of being lonely and wanting a good home, but also because she looked rather creepy due to her large eyes and soulless frown.
  • As the Transformers: Generation 1 franchise began to wane in popularity, Hasbro attempted several gimmicks to keep the line fresh, many of which failed to connect with the audience:
    • Transformers Pretenders tried to take the "Robots in disguise" aspect even further with the inclusion of Pretender Shells that could disguise the figures as organic beings. In theory, this line could be two toys in one, but the two sides failed to synergize properly; the shells, with their garish appearance and limited articulation, seemed more at home in Masters of the Universe as opposed to the older-skewed Transformers, and the robot often had to sacrifice in design to accommodate the shells.
    • Transformers Action Masters were, simply and infamously put, Transformers toys that didn't transformnote . Instead, they came with gadgets, nonhuman partners, and even larger vehicles which turned into weapons, making for a more conventional toy-line along the lines of G.I. Joe or M.A.S.K.. Not only did this screw over what made Transformers unique and memorable, but the end result was too surreal to be taken seriously on its own; not only was Bumblebee (who becomes a small car) the same size as Devastator (Who is combined from six robots who become construction vehicles), but Optimus Prime and Wheeljack ended up driving a Big Badass Rig and a Cool Car, when they're famous for turning into those vehicles (which begs the question of whether the Transformers shrunk down or their vehicles were absurdly huge).
  • My Little Pony: This is why G2 sold so poorly. It retooled the characters into looking more like horses than cute little ponies. The next retool returned them to their original look.

    Video Games 
  • JFK: Reloaded: A simulation game where you fire the fateful shot that kills John F. Kennedy, scoring based on how well you were able to recreate the actual assassination. It's actually pretty educational, and developed with the noble goal of disproving the Conspiracy Theories surrounding the shooting, but the fact that it's a game whose entire point is shooting a President turns an awful lot of people off (and then there's the potential to send the scenario completely Off the Rails...)
  • The Unholy War is a great game which combined fast paced combat with very slow paced turn-based strategy, not targeting any of those two genres' audiences. Action-oriented gamers are scared by the "slow and meticulous" chess-like gameplay while the strategy-oriented gamers are scared by the "quick and dumb" action gameplay.
  • White supremacist record label Resistance Records has made a number of first-person shooters (Ethnic Cleansing, White Law, and Zog's Nightmare) where you play as a Nazi or Klansman and go around shooting various racial minorities. This should already convince most people to not play them.
  • In a similar vein, KZ Manager is a resource management game where the resources are prisoners in a concentration camp. The game requires you to force your prisoners to work so you can earn money to buy poison gas with, and then use said poison gas to execute enough prisoners to keep your public opinion up. Yeah.
  • PETA's satirical Flash games, which take famous characters and turns them into evil animal-hating villains. One of the most infamous was Pokémon Black and Blue, a Pokémon... parody, for lack of a better word... that focused on animal cruelty. Those who agreed with PETA didn't need to have their mind changed by the game, and basically everyone else was very much turned off by the concept. While Nintendo took earlier parodies with stride, making PSA's needing to inform that, for example, Mario isn't wearing the skin of a tanuki, but donning a tanuki-based costume, the Pokémon one was the final straw. They threatened legal action against PETA if they didn't take it down and stop.
  • Criminal Girls and its sequel Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors are above-average dungeon crawlers with excellent characterization, but good luck getting anyone to see beyond the Squicky premise about beating and torturing teenage girls into subservience.
  • Death Smiles, a side scrolling Shoot 'em Up by CAVE, got a lot of flak for the Gothic Lolita artwork of the game. Most is nice, tasteful and beautiful, but too many instances of pre-teen girls getting sensual with each other (including a bubble bath scene) has gotten the game an ill reputation among fans, mainly Americans. Most Shump fans will warn potential players to ignore the artwork for the intricate gameplay for a reason.
  • Something similar happens with Otomedius, which is a Gradius parody game which exchanges the spaceships with scantily-clad females showing off their bosom.
  • On the other side of the coin, there is Cho Aniki, a Shoot 'em Up with muscular guys in speedos.
  • Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, a freeware RPG Maker game where you play as the two Columbine shooters who go on their infamous murderous rampage. The second half of the game involves the duo going to Hell fighting enemies from Doom and becoming minions of Satan (the South Park version).
  • Spec Ops: The Line looked like a typical war shooter while telling a tale of madness, despair, and horror. The kind of player who might appreciate the Whole Plot Reference to Heart of Darkness would be put off because it looks so much like a modern military shooter, while fans of military shooters weren't likely to be interested in its message or impressed by its gameplay. The game's real audience turned out to be those who weren't fans of modern military shooters or violent video games, though many of them also passed on the game due it looking like every other modern military game from the advertising.
    • The game's lead writer, Walt Williams, acknowledged that the nature of the game made it practically impossible to effectively market, considering that part of the force of the game's narrative comes from it initially resembling a typical military shooter only to pull the rug out from under the player: revealing that the game is a Genre Deconstruction significantly dilutes the impact. For this reason Williams anticipated that the game would not prove to be a massive commercial success but would end up as a Cult Classic.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was an ahead-of-its-time postmodernist deconstruction of the recycled tropes of fiction and the escapist nature of video games, married to a stirring examination of the themes of life, love, and building a better future... as the sequel to a popular, story-heavy but relatively-straightforward stealth-action game. The creators predicted this trope, so said premise was deliberately hidden by the marketing lead-up, to ensure that people who otherwise wouldn't be interested in the game would still buy and play it. Unfortunately, subverted expectations can be even more alienating than just an off-kilter premise. Nowadays, it gets more respect than it used to, but at the time it was the very definition of a Contested Sequel.
  • Stretch Panic is about a girl who uses a possessed scarf to fight her demon-possessed sisters. She must exorcise the demons, which require points that you must obtain by pinching and stretching women with comically over-sized breasts.
  • EXA_PICO has an interesting and highly detailed magic system, a fascinating After the End world full of Magitek where humanity is on the brink of extinction and the planet is so scarred it's trying to commit suicide, and some of the most beautiful music to be found in JRPGs. It's also better known for its main gameplay feature of guarding and exploring the psyches of emotionally vulnerable, magic-using young women who get dressed in increasingly fanservicey costumes or, as of the third game, progressively strip off more and more clothes over the course of a fight to draw on more power. The first game felt a little like the fanservice was thrown in to draw attention, but after that they kept pushing for more.
  • The Clown Prince Rises is a freeware game recreating the Aurora shootings. To make a video game about such a horrific tragedy (and put you in the shoes of the one who instigated it) won't exactly endear you to the audience.
  • Rapelay is, quite literally, a rape simulator. Even with the success of rape-heavy visual novels this fails, since the gameplay amounts to "Hold down mouse button, watch bar fill". People not into rape scenarios reject the game on sight; people into them are bored by the stale mechanics.
  • A similar problem plagued Can't Escape the Heroine, a video game involving a man trying to fight off women who want to rape him. People not into rape will get turned off immediately, while those into it will be disappointed by the fact that the goal is to avoid rape.
  • A Corny Voyage is a mod for Half-Life 2. The gameplay is a zero G racer where the player pilots a piece of undigested sweetcorn through a person's intestines to reach the anus. Seriously.
  • Lose/Lose is a space shooter in which killing enemies results in random files in your Home folder being permanently deleted. The premise alone is more than enough to scare people away from even downloading it. Unsurprisingly, it's classified as malware by several antiviruses.
  • This might be what prevents the BlazBlue series from gaining wider recognition. Originally envisioned as an RPG, it was eventually changed into a fighting game during development. As such, it's far more story heavy than just about any other fighting series. The cutscenes are often pretty long, to the point that the game can feel more like a Visual Novel with a few gameplay segments than a proper fighting game. Not only that, but the plot is incredibly complex, involving time loops, clones, mystical essence and conspiracies aplenty. To make things even more inaccessible, a lot of key information about the story is found only in various light novels and audio dramas, none of which have been officially translated, and many of which haven't been unofficially translated either. Players who care only about the matches may not have any problems, but players who don't want to completely forsake the plot might find it a daunting task to understand just what the heck's going on. An illustrative comparison can be made to another Arc System Works game, Persona 4: Arena, which in many ways is a Spiritual Successor, but is far more popular; unlike BlazBlue, the game is a spin-off from an already massively-popular roleplaying game notorious for its long cutscenes and complicated plot, and so both elements can be applied to the game without fear of chasing off players, since the people most likely to pick it up have already demonstrated they're willing to tolerate such.
    • The gameplay aspects aren't much better. One of the game's major selling points is that every character has a different mechanic based around one of the buttons; for example, Arakune can summon insects, while Carl uses the same button to control his puppet. This means that every character plays uniquely, unlike some games that bog down in clone characters. Unfortunately, many gamers look at this and think, "So nothing I learn playing one character will transfer to any others?" The massive learning curve implied by the concept is a turn-off to a lot of people. Even those players who can get past the concept may be disappointed to realize that, aside from that one button, many of the characters play almost exactly like the cast of Guilty Gear (most notoriously Ragna and Jin, who are respectively near-copies of Sol and Ky).
  • Wall Street Kid for the NES. Yeah, a stock market simulator is not exactly a concept with mass appeal, especially when it's being sold on the same eight bit console as Super Mario Bros. and The Legend Of Zelda. Add some very, very boring aesthetics on top of that (the game is literally about 90% just white text on a black background) and you've got a game which was kind of doomed to fail from the start.
  • The Rance series of adult RPG's. Most people who have played the games say that the gameplay is very good and the series has an astonishingly complex storyline considering the premise, but the fact that the main character is a Heroic Comedic Sociopath serial rapist turns a lot of people off, especially since Rance forcing girls into sex is often played for comedy, while other characters raping women is instead portrayed as wrong and terrible. (Yes, this blatant Moral Myopia is brought up in the games, though never really excused.)
  • Lester the Unlikely. It's the story of a Hollywood Nerd and his journey to discover his inner strength and self-confidence, which later manifests as outer strength and the ability to kick ass. Most people never figure this out, because you spend the first half of the game playing as a Hollywood Nerd who is deathly afraid of turtles and is highly vulnerable to fall damage.
  • Any of the games developed by "Mystique" (later re-branded as "Playaround") can apply. The company made pornographic video games for the Atari 2600, a system with extremely limited graphics, a recipe for Fetish Retardant.
    • The weirdest premise would have to be Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em; where you play as two naked girls trying to catch ejaculation in their mouths from a man masturbating on a rooftop. Even worse is the gender-swapped version called Philly Flasher where you control two men catching breast milk from a witch who isn't even a a Hot Witch, but rather a Wicked Witch who appears to be elderly and unattractive due to her white hair, Sinister Schnoz, and Thin Chin of Sin. Really makes you wonder what types of people they were trying to appeal to.
      AVGN: This game really disturbs me. But I don't get it! Is this supposed to be erotic? I don't know about you, but I'm not AT ALL turned on by some old wrinkly shitty witch titties. That's fuckin' nasty, man!
    • Custer's Revenge is their most infamous game. It's about General Custer raping a Native American woman tied to what is either a pole or a cactus. There is no getting past the blocky low-resolution graphics (in a porn game) and gameplay that's primitive and repetitive even by early 1980s standards, even before you start on how horrendously racist and sexist the premise is (even though it's fairly tame in-game, because of the aforementioned bad graphics). And it was the most expensive Atari 2600 game, retailing a few pennies shy of $50! Despite being unfit for gamers, masturbators, consumers and anyone with tasteful social politics, it ended up selling well entirely due to its Bile Fascination.
  • Papers, Please has a very engaging story about working border control for an oppressive communist government and having to make difficult moral choices about certain people trying to make it into the country. Most of the gameplay, however, can be summed up as basically a paperwork simulator revolving around stamping passports. If it wasn't for all the positive press it was getting, it could've easily dropped right under the radar.
  • One of the major complaints leveled against Divekick. The mechanics are extremely simple to the point of using only two buttons, suggesting a fighting game for fighting game newbies, but the game also contains a plethora of references to the Fighting Game Community that few outside of it would get, and is more of a parody of fighting games than anything else. Despite this, it still managed to be fairly popular amongst the FGC anyway despite (or even because of) how simple the mechanics are.
  • Hatred, a video game about a misanthrope going on a killing spree without any hint of irony or satire, caused massive amounts of controversy, even before the game was pulled from Steam. But even that was nothing to what followed when Gabe Newell himself put the game back up and apologized for the pulling in the first place, which only lead to more debates over free speech and censorship, and bad taste for real life shootings which were still fresh in the public's minds and the ones which followed. Even those who were into the scenario of this game, or just looked past the controversy, eventually tuned out due to the rather average gameplay and ham-fisted attempts to be edgy.
  • Viva Piñata. While it had moderate success and even an animated series, the problem was that it failed towards both age demographics. Most teens and adults were turned off as it looked too kiddy, while many kids were turned off because the micromanagement was too complicated.
  • This was a big reason why Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts tanked in sales. Many old time fans were either furious or simply turned off by the fact that they were getting a new Banjo-Kazooie game after years of waiting, only for the art style and platforming of the original games to be completely thrown out for a borderline In Name Only vehicle based follow up. On top of that, the game's nostalgic factor and unorthodox gameplay had no appeal to a newer audience, especially since the audience in question was now part of the largely adult aimed Xbox 360 crowd instead of the more family oriented Nintendo crowd the original games aimed for, guaranteeing the game would flop in sales, thus killing the Banjo-Kazooie franchise stone dead while also taking the original Rare studio down with it.
  • Senran Kagura is a Beat 'em Up/Hack and Slash series about rival ninja schools with a story that is both light-hearted and dark. It is also a series filled with busty females, Clothing Damage is really common and fanservice is not something it is trying to hide, causing people to turn away from it.
  • Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City is a platformer in which Michael Jordan has to rescue the Chicago Bulls from a mad scientist. Despite being a well-made game, it gets a bad reputation from the premise alone and is often unfavorably compared to Shaq Fu. It doesn't help that both games were released by the same developer in the same year (late 1994).
  • Speaking of Shaq Fu, it was basically doomed from the moment someone decided it would be a hella smart idea to try and float a fighting game on the star power of a professional athlete. Fans of fighting games walked past it because it focused on Shaquille O'Neal throwing punches at martial arts champions in "the Second World", fans of sports games passed it up because it didn't focus on Shaquille O'Neal throwing down dunks in the court, and fans of both genres simply weren't interested in such a mediocre game playing the unbelievably ludicrous concept of Shaq using mystical basketball arts to fight martial arts champions in a parallel world completely straight.
  • Girl's RPG Cinderellife is a game by Level-5 aimed at young girls... About working at a Hostess Club. It's rated 15+, but the game uses simple language with furigana so young kids who don't know kanji yet could play. The game has been criticized for romanticizing the not-so-glamorous life of a hostess towards young, impressionable girls. Unsurprisingly, the game was a flop.
  • Akatsuki Blitzkampf is a sort-of pioneer among doujin fighting games thanks to the oldschool-like charm of its game mechanics, the Darker and Edgier graphics and the dystopia-like setting. But the protagonist, Akatsuki, is an officer of this world's equivalent of the Imperial Japanese Navy from World War II ( and so is the Big Bad Murakumo), while many antagonists in both the original, its remakes and the sequel are straight-up Those Wacky Nazis by other names. It's really not needed to explain how... awkward these details can be for some gamers.
  • Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl. Take a franchise that's beloved by fans for the ability to create your own completely customizable party, and then take that entire aspect out, and you see the problem with Etrian Odyssey Untold. Sure, you could still create your own party in Classic Mode, but then you lost out on all the new content, including the Gunner and Highlander classes and the second dungeon.
  • Subverted by Kantai Collection. As a game where you command anthropomorphized WW2 Axis warships to do battle against thinly-veiled stand-ins for the Allies and the battles of the Pacific War, while there are portions of the American and Asian audience that disdain it, it is also surprisingly popular in China, which is the last place any student of history would expect it to have a favourable reception.
  • Harvest Moon is a series where you're a farmer. To many people this just sounds boring, though the life simulation and Dating Sim elements are the main draw to many fans. On the opposite people who really enjoy farming might not enjoy the fluffy, unrealistic nature compared to other farm simulation games.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds:
    • The game's origins as a former My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fangame that got Screwed by the Lawyers and then got re-imagined as an original IP has probably turned off more than a few potential fans. Fans of My Little Pony have been turned off by the fact that the characters they know and love are no longer part of the game, while some potential players might be turned off by its connection to My Little Pony. In other words, it's not pony enough for MLP fans, but too pony for non-fans.
    • There's the problem of the game having cute animal characters, which would appeal to a more casual crowd, but instead of offering a simplified Fighting Game experience for newcomers to the genre, the creators have decided to go for a full-fledged 2D fighter, which is known for being one of the most complex genres for newcomers.
  • That Dragon, Cancer has garnered rave reviews in the tech press and on Steam, but it's about watching your child die of cancer. Does that sound like fun to you?
  • The flagship franchises of Team Ninja, Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden, get this sometimes. The former because of its extremely heavy amounts of Fanservice (causing it to be mistaken for a softcore porn series by some and not be taken as seriously in the Fighting Game Community as other franchises) and the latter for being so ludicrously difficult (to the point of scaring off casual audiences). Team Ninja seems aware of this to some degree and have made fun of it a few times.
  • Tecmo's Deception series has nowhere near the recognition or mainstream appeal of Dead or Alive, and a look at the premise makes it easy to guess why: You play as a dyed-in-the-wool Villain Protagonist, in service to the Satan, who tortures and kills numerous victims that enter your lair. Some of them are brigands and bandits, but the vast majority of those you kill are good, sympathetic characters, and the games take great pains to hammer home the latter part by averting What Measure Is a Mook?, showing the lives that you're gleefully and creatively snuffing out as belonging to actual people, with names, personalities, and backstories of their own.
  • Street Fighter III, the long-awaited sequel to the Earth-shatteringly successful Street Fighter II, ended up greatly underperforming. Several huge reasons are usually given for its failure:
    • Most famously, Capcom opted to replace almost the entire cast from the previous games with a new roster of fighters, with Ryu and Ken being the lone holdovers. They were likely trying to replicate the near-complete cast changeover from Street Fighter I to II and hoping for similar success, without realizing how different the circumstances were. The first Street Fighter was a cult hit, meaning nobody really cared when most of its characters were left out of the sequel. Street Fighter II on the other hand had proven to be a global sensation, with the new fighters becoming household names overnight and subsequently appearing in the Street Fighter Alpha prequel series, as well as the various movie and TV adaptations. This meant audiences were far more attached to these characters than the ones from the original game, and their absence in Street Fighter III incited far more backlash than expected.
    • The game was released in 1997, right as American arcades were dying and when 3D fighting games like Virtua Fighter and Tekken were becoming extremely popular. Despite Street Fighter III having cutting edge, beautifully animated hand-drawn sprites for the time, many casual gamers dismissed it as looking cheap or outdated.
    • The game was far more complex and strategic than Street Fighter II or any of the Alpha games, turning off new players. It later found success among tournament players and the Fighting Game Community, but to this day, it still has a reputation for being very unfriendly to newbies or casual gamers.
    • The game was developed for Capcom's brand new CPS-3 arcade cabinet. This allowed for far more detailed, fluid sprites than in the CPS-2 fighting games like the Alpha series, but consequently made III far more expensive for arcade operators. This, coupled with the declining popularity of 2D fighting games and arcades in general, meant that many operators passed on ordering the game. The advanced graphics also meant that III couldn't be ported to most of the then-current home consoles without sacrificing features or animations, as had happened with X-Men vs. Street Fighter the previous year. It didn't get a home release until two years later, and even then, only for Sega's Dreamcast system. While the Alpha games and Street Fighter EX had sold well on home consoles, Capcom couldn't repeat that same success when III was only available on the Dreamcast, a system that had never been as successful as the PlayStation. III eventually saw a PS2 release in 2004, seven years later.
    • In the end, Capcom released a third Alpha game the following year, which brought back even more of the characters from Street Fighter II (namely Cammy, Balrog, Vega and E. Honda) in an effort to Win Back the Crowd. While the CPS-2 hardware meant that the graphics in Alpha 3 didn't look as good as the ones in III, it also made the game much cheaper for arcade owners and allowed it to be released for the PlayStation, where it sold a million copies. The CPS-3 ended up dead in the water, and Capcom's future 2D fighting games like the Marvel vs. Capcom and SNK vs. Capcom series wound up either utilizing the CPS-2 or different system boards like Sega's NAOMI hardware. Those games also made sure to mostly feature Capcom characters from Street Fighter II and the Alpha trilogy in order to avoid alienating fans in the same way they'd done with III.
  • Street Fighter V is the most simplified entry in the Street Fighter series since Street Fighter II, the idea being that the simplified game-play would bring in new players, while a stripping-down of single player content and a stronger focus on online and competitive play would bolster the hardcore fan-base. The result was that the casual audience complained that there was not enough single player content, while the hardcore audience complained that the game was too dumbed-down and boring. Capcom expected the game to sell 2 million copies in its first month, a mark it had failed to reach 8 months after its release.
    • Capcom was worried about this during broadcasts of their Capcom Pro Tour tournaments. As such, they started placing bans on their sexier DLC costumes at tournaments. This move served to immediately divide fans, with some deriding Capcom for censorship and others stating that such a ban basically proves Capcom knows how ridiculous the Stripperiffic costumes look.
  • Drakengard is set in an extremely crapsack dark fantasy setting, with its main character being a sadistic mass murderer, and his companions being his haughty misanthropic dragon, a baby-eating cannibal elf woman, and the most sympathetic character being a blind priest who is implied to be a pedophile. And then there's the gameplay. Monotonous and repetitive combat on the ground, with enemies with too much HP for that style of play, and in the sky, the controls for the dragon are quite possibly the worst. When you actually want to play this for the story but the controls are so flighty (no pun intended) in flight and the gameplay is so boring on the ground, it makes things even harder to stay invested. When asked about why the game was the way it was, director and writer Taro Yoko said that he felt it was important to stand out from the likes of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, since there was no point in competing with them. He was proven right as the game, despite falling into Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy for most people, did win a small but dedicated cult following precisely because it was different from other games, and the series has continued on since.
    • Drakengard 3 is, at face value, a prequel of the first game that doesn't directly tie-in with the first game's events due to an emphasis on multiple timelines, with the protagonist being a revered goddess-turned-traitor and a genocidal sex-maniac bent on killing her divine sisters in order to steal their powers for herself while killing their helpless followers who are unable to stop her.
  • Akiba's Trip is a wacky game set in Tokyo's famous Otaku-centric district Akihabara and it's very authentic compared to the real thing... until you realize that the gameplay is about fighting a gang of artificial vampires by tearing their clothes off (in some cases including underwear) to expose them to sunlight. It even seems the development team has even picked up on Western reactions to the game since the sequel Akiba's Beat is a complete revamp gameplay wise with almost none of the stripping involved. However, it's unknown if just being associated with such a controversial game will redeem the franchise in the eyes of Western gamers.
  • MySims. It's like The Sims, but for younger players (and Asia, since the game was supposedly made to appeal to Asian markets). It has a Moe-tastic art style, LEGO-esque furniture assembling, and quite a few lovable characters, but they took out certain aspects of The Sims that fans loved (like killing Sims). Surprisingly, it has a devoted fanbase, mostly due to the aforementioned lovable characters and because it started getting Surprisingly Improved Sequels immediately, starting with MySims Kingdom.
  • Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. requires its audience to be fans of (or at least have an interest in) four different topics: Turn-Based Strategy games, the art and motifs of American comic books, classic literature (some of it decidedly obscure, in the case of Califia), and steampunk. Rare was it to find anyone who shared more than two of those interests.
  • Screencheat is a multiplayer competitive FPS where everybody is invisible and so players must watch other people's screens to locate the opponent, parodying the Forgotten Trope of 90s-style split-screen multiplayer. This unorthodox gameplay style is a parody of a dated style of gameplay that is unappealing to most people used to competitive, network-based modern shooters, and completely incomprehensible to those who don't remember The '90s.
  • TIS-100, ShenzhenIO, the Kerbal Space Program Game Mod kOS, and similar programming-a-virtual-machine games have extremely limited appeal. People who can't program can't play them, people who can program find them dumbed-down, and people who are trying to learn programming get to spend hours fiddling around with a language that does not exist and is too simple to do anything with, instead of learning anything useful.
  • Yandere Simulator takes place in a Dating Sim inspired setting, where you play as a teenage girl who stalks someone at her school, and systematically removes rivals for her crush's affection using methods ranging from matchmaking, to manipulation, to good old fashioned murder. It doesn't help that one of the game's mechanics involves taking Panty Shot photos to win favors with the game's Knowledge Broker. In a controversial move, Twitch has it listed as a blacklisted game, most probably because of the aforementioned premise.
  • Absolute Despair Girls is quite a departure from the other games in the Danganronpa series. Instead of another Visual Novel surrounding murder investigations, it's a Third-Person Shooter set in the outside world during the Tragedy. The game's story revolves around the children of Towa City rising up and slaughtering all the adults to establish a children's paradise. Even with the series' pink blood aesthetic, ADG is ridiculously violent and very dark. Add to that a whole host of Black Comedy and sexual jokes, the infamous "motivation" mini-game, the theme of Abusive Parents, a lot of Continuity Lockout and late arrival spoilers, and it's not hard to see how many might be turned off from the game. Although people who have played it often enjoy the story, where Komaru Naegi and Toko Fukawa both undergo a lot of Character Development.
  • Love Live! School Idol Festival. Rhythm Games are known for being one of the few modern game genres in which Scoring Points is a core draw of the game for many players, and scoring has historically been based strictly on one's performance within the chart. School Idol Festival is one of the first games to change this by having the cards you draw from mobage pulls — which can be earned with in-game rewards or by Bribing Your Way to Victory — and equip influence your score, with cards generally getting more powerful the rarer they are. Many beginners with experience with other rhythm games play the first song available, "Bokura no Love Kimi to no LIFE" on Easy, get a perfect run on it (or at least close to it), and are shocked to discover that they only got a C for their efforts due to their weak starter cards and no perfect-performance recognition whatsoever note . The game is still well-loved by fans of Love Live! despite this; many players generally focus more on collecting cards, which are well-known for their Costume Porn, and unlocking the characters' Side Stories.
  • Dragon's Dogma was hindered by the perception that it was a Skyrim knockoff looking to cash in on the latter's popularity. Even though one could tell about an hour in that the only things it had in common with Skyrim was an open world and the presence of dragons.
  • In Tyranny, you start out playing as a minion of an extremely successful Evil Overlord, Kyros, in a Crapsack World. The advertising emphasized what a brutal world it was, and how much evil the Player Character could get up to in Kyros' name, which left people expecting a lot of Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy. The truth is more complicated: the player can be a Noble Demon or even pull a Heel–Face Turn instead, and even Kyros has their reasons for what they do. Still, a lot of people are leery about playing a dark, non-comedic game with a Villain Protagonist by default.
  • Doki Doki Majo Shinpan! is about a witch hunt that involves molesting teenage girls and rummaging through their belongings. While this game beat even The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass in pre-order sales, there is a reason why it was only ever released in Japan and China. It is so disturbing that NGamer denied it any ratings whatsoever.
  • The Virtual Boy. How would you like to have a completely red-and-black light show right up to your eyes? One need not wonder why that thing failed so spectacularly that Nintendo wants nothing to do with it. note 
  • Succeeding just behind Nintendo and Sega with the TurboGrafx-16, NEC put out another system called the PC-FX to specialize in the same type of 2D games that the TG-16, SNES, and Genesis specialized in, during a time when 3D was becoming the way of the future. Granted, the PlayStation and Sega Saturn also featured an abundance of 2D games, but those were in balance with their 3D libraries.
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid: Other M: The Metroid franchise is traditionally much more beloved in Western countries than in its home country of Japan for several reasons. One major one is that the tastes of Japanese and Western audiences generally trend toward opposite ends of the Sliding Scale of Linearity vs. Openness, with Japan often preferring tight, linear narratives, something a Metroidvania game by-design can't really give its players. So part of Other M's goal was to appeal specifically to Japanese audiences. Putting a heavy emphasis on story and character in a series that traditionally leaves those elements mostly understated is going to alienate many of its fans by default, both in Japan and out, let alone the fact that many of the writing decisions in those regards were seen as being questionably written, and through Values Dissonance, seen as outright misogynist by many Western players. The result is that Other M didn't sell noticeably better in Japan than previous Metroid installments and outright flopped everywhere else.
    • Following Other M, Metroid Prime: Federation Force was a squad-based multiplayer shooter... when Metroid is known for the exact opposite, isolating the player in a world where Everything Is Trying to Kill You with a focus on exploration. Plus being multiplayer meant that you couldn't play as series protagonist Samus Aran; instead A Space Marine Is You. The game also went through an Art Shift, replacing realistically proportioned hard sci-fi characters with Super-Deformed designs. Even with all that, it could have been an interesting spinoff (for example, The Legend of Zelda had also dabbled in multiplayer with its Four Swords games), except for the fact that the Metroid fanbase was on edge at the time; the series only gets sporadic releases to begin with, and Other M had sparked an Internet Backdraft so fans really weren't in the mood for anything experimental. The game became a commercial failure.
  • The Kiseki/Trails series can be a hard sell for new players. An Eastern RPG series spanning several installments that unlike most popular franchises take place in the same world with a single, interconnected and dense continuity. The games are famous for their very, very meticulous World Building and loads and loads and loads of NPC characters with in-depth subplots and backstories. Every character has a name, personality, and relationship with other characters, and the history itself with in-universe short stories and newspapers can easily bombard the player who just wants a save the world plot. Ignoring all that, Slow-Paced Beginning pretty much defines the stories in every game since the series takes the time to give the cast plenty to talk about, letting them establish their personalities gradually. While there's the expected dramatic storytelling and high stakes, the games want you to firmly understand the where and why of the situation and get attached to the characters first. The admittedly generic brand of The Legend of Heroes can turn away players in of itself, not to mention having scripts that rival the longer visual novels in length. The series has a rabid western fanbase that eagerly take in the series' lore and developing Myth Arc, but it's an acquired taste.
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is one of the strangest subversions of this phenomena. Despite being very-well received by critics and players for its surprising depth, fun gameplay, pretty good humor, the very premise in of itself turned a few people off for various reasons. It's a Bizarro Episode involving an Eldritch Abomination that inexplicably fuses the two worlds of Super Mario Bros. and Raving Rabbids together, Mario & Friends have to team up with their Rabbid counterparts in a strategy shooter/RPG campaign, a gaming genre that neither franchise is exactly famous for. That, combined with the very existence of the base-breaking Rabbids themselves, resulted in Kingdom Battle being referred to in some circles as "a good crossover game that nobody asked for."
  • Monster Hunter is much less popular in the West than Japan, and this trope has its part to play in that.
    • Monster Hunter games are known for their complex virtual ecologies and the detail they put into the lives and patterns of its monsters, and the fact that you're supposed to go out and kill them leaves a bad taste in many player's mouths. Many people would rather just observe them, especially those monsters who don't normally fight back and only attack if you provoke them.
    • The games are very heavy on grinding for Rare Random Drops to get better weapons and armor, which is another point of criticism from Western players. How does fighting the same monster a few dozen times alongside a crew of questionably-cooperative players sound to you?
  • The Quiet Man is a melee-combat focused game whose premise is that the protagonist's deafness is represented by having gameplay and most of the cutscenes be completely silent (and the cutscenes aren't subtitled). Even if the game had been more competently-made in other respects, several reviews and social reactions started with openly wondering why anyone thought this was a good hook.
  • Where The Water Tastes Like Wine is exceptionally difficult to market, to put it kindly. Watching one of its trailers, it looks like some sort of student art film project, and your only clue as to what the gameplay is like is that you need to "gather stories"; it's up to you to dive in blind and find out what that entails. The gameplay, such as it is, is wandering around the United States, finding events to witness and people to meet, learning the backstory of sixteen people in particular. It's a very slow burn of a plot, and how much you get out of it is determined by how willing you are to invest in its characters while not being turned off by the main gameplay conceit of "a skeleton walking across a map."
  • This is often cited why Yo-Kai Watch is a Cash Cow Franchise in Japan but is less successful elsewhere. The series appeals to Japanese kids because its premise is very Japanese-aimed. The idea is that, even in your everyday mundane Japanese town, mysterious youkai can exist all around you. It appeals to Japanese kids because the series' world is so similar to their own and because they already know about yokai. However, even a Thinly Veiled Dub Country Change can't lessen the Japanese influence of Yokai Watch, and most kids outside of Japan have never heard of "yokai", so the interest isn't there. Being "too Japanese" is also a reason why most yokai-heavy series are left in Japan.
  • Licensed Games have a poor reputation, but it's hard to think of a worse choice of adaption than the 2009 First-Person Shooter Tunnel Rats: 1968. The existing property, in this case, was 1968 Tunnel Rats, a film that had opened the year before and, despite decent reviews, made less than $36,000 on a budget of $8 million. The film's director was Uwe Boll, a man infamous for making terrible video game movies and challenging his critics to boxing matches. So, based on a movie no one saw, by a highly unpopular director, with gameplay of crawling through interchangeable tunnels disarming booby traps and cutting the ears off of dead Viet Cong. Reviews were extremely negative, a planned XBOX 360 port never happened, and Replay Studios went bankrupt a couple months later.

    Visual Novels 
  • Hatoful Boyfriend is a dating game where the potential mates are pigeons. (It's based off a pun that doesn't translate into English.) By the way, the main character is a human girl. And the pigeons are represented by photographs of actual pigeons. Not a lot of people seem to realize that it was meant as a joke.
  • Diabolik Lovers is about a girl who is abused by sadistic vampire brothers. And all of it is played for fanservice. Even people who enjoy that kind of thing reportedly found it uncomfortable. It's considered one of the reasons why the anime adaptation bombed.
  • Monster Girl Quest: Lose and the Girls Rape You. It's a deep and engaging story deconstructing half the tropes in existence and parodying the rest, involving a race war that goes back to the dawn of the world... but that doesn't change the fact that the battle mechanic is the hero fighting off the monster girls who are trying to rape him. It proved popular enough for a sequel, Monster Girl Quest: Paradox, which has much more developed gameplay and a story that's even broader in scope, but still with the same premise (though there is a higher proportion of combat that isn't about rape).
  • Katawa Shoujo is this on two levels: It's an eroge featuring various disabled characters, and it's by a group of folks on 4chan of all places. Despite this (or because of it), it has become a Gateway Series for the Visual Novel genre.
  • Arithmetic's Bidding for Love is infamous for its main premise. The main character is sold to a rich man through an auction and he exercises his right to do whatever he wants to the heroine, including having sex with her that she doesn't fully consent to. It only gets worse when it's later revealed that her company set her up to be sold and they erased her existence from the company. Not to mention her eventually falling in love with the man who initially forced himself onto her. If this wasn't a romance game, it could work as an episode for a crime drama.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club! has almost exactly the same problem as Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Aside from a vague Content Warning being one of the few clues that things aren't what they seem, the game is an ordinary, lighthearted visual novel with a cute cast of colorful, quirky girls. People not into such games will probably stop playing in disgust early on before later events really ratchet up the horror, while people who are may not have any sort of interest in the horror story it eventually turns out to be. Similar to Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Sayori's suicide instantly became the game's signature meme in spite of later, darker turns.
  • With Dies Irae, the mere fact that this novel has Nazis as its villains, as well as someone as infamous as Reinhard Heydrich as its main Big Bad, who is given quite a bit of character, can be enough of a turnoff to some people. Adding to this is the fact that the novel constantly wants to focus on the present and the characters themselves, so the crimes of the Third Reich are rarely brought up.
  • While not quote as alienating as its Spiritual Predecessor Katawa Shoujo, the in-development Missing Stars has a fair sum of this. It's about an eighteen year old who had an accident that left him traumatized and with psychosomatic issues with one of his legs. His parents send him to a Boarding School that specializes in mental health problems. Some people are either unnerved by the idea of a dating sim themed around mental illness or they don't think the visual novel can pull it off well.

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck is so notorious for its Continuity Lockout, that fans of the comic trying and inevitably failing to get their peers interested in reading it has become a meme unto itselfnote . This is mostly due to the sheer size of the project (8127 pages in total when it finally finished, which vary in length from single images to Wall of Text chat logs to interactive Adobe Flash games); the complexity of the plot making it impossible to explain to the uninitiated; and the video game-centric nature of it. Additionally, in order fully get all the jokes, it is almost a prerequisite that you read the three comics that came before it: Problem Sleuth, which is a monumental read in and of itself, Bard Quest, an unfinished experiment, and Jailbreak, the first, and as a consequence the least polished of all the creator's work. And on top of all this, in order to reach the parts anyone talks about, you have to read through a good 1500 pages of buildup; even the fanbase jokes about how slow and boring the first two chapters are.
  • Dinosaur Comics is a dadaistic comic whose art is literally the same six panels in the same positions for each comic; only the dialogue changes from comic to comic. It does have a tiny yet dedicated fanbase, though, and its writing has been praised enough that creator Ryan North got a gig with Marvel Comics..
  • Billy the Heretic is white power propaganda. That alone is enough to scare away most potential readers.
  • Kit N Kay Boodle is graphic furry porn... written with children's book-esque dialogue and drawn with a cutesy, adorable art style that looks like something out of Care Bears. Most furries are going to be put off by its childishness, while any kid who reads it will most likely get scarred for life.
  • Pastel Defender Heliotrope combines cutesy anime-esque art and plot points with an insanely complicated and confusing storyline, lots of continuity references to its similarly confusing precursor Unicorn Jelly, and Author Tracts highly characteristic of its creator.
  • US Angel Corps, a Gorn comic by notorious artist David Cheung, is about an all-girl black-ops group who repeatedly and messily die. And get raped. Usually in that order. The subject matter is enough to drive off 95% of readers, while the majority of guro fans find its objectification of women and fetishism of their suffering (there's a lot of emphasis on the girls crying and begging for their lives) to be too much even for them to tolerate. Outside of the tiny percentage of hardcore Cheung fans, nobody likes this series.
  • Satan and Me is about a girl who accidentally summons Satan. He's then forced to live with her because she refuses to release him on the basis that keeping him captive prevents him from going around causing trouble. Slice of Life hijinks and occasional drama ensue. That alone isn't an alienating premise (unless you're not into demons), but the specific method she unwittingly uses is — she summoned him by menstruating onto a pad that the manufacturers accidentally printed an insignia on. Ironically, the series came about in the first place specifically because some Tumblr users were musing that it'd be a funny idea for a webcomic. The trope's also lampshaded by the username of the Tumblr blog that hosts it — "thisiskindagross".
  • Jack, by David Hopkins, is a Furry Webcomic which has a fairly cartoonish art style, but is also an extremely dark story about the afterlife starring the (furry) Grim Reaper and contains a lot of graphic sex and violence. Many people are turned off by either or both cutesy, furry art style and dark, religious commentary that tries to take itself dead seriously.
  • Mountain Time is a surrealist stick-figure comic with inane "plots" that are often resolved in equally inane ways. It makes frequent references to literature, B movies, and obscure music. That, combined with the rough artwork and hand-lettering, is enough to prevent most readers from noticing that it's actually pretty funny.
  • In general, Gunnerkrigg Court is a perfectly reasonable and non-alienating comic, but the premises for some of the individual chapters are amusingly bizarre or boring sounding, leading to The Rant often lampshading this by jokingly thanking the reader for having bothered to read them:
    "Thank you for reading this chapter about girls getting haircuts."
  • Vegan Artbook pushes fundamentalist veganism and does little else. Its only real fans are vegans as nutty as its creator.
  • Penny Arcade has an In-Universe example, in the form of iChoke-U, a glove that strangles you when you beat Gabe in SoulCalibur online.
  • Suicide for Hire, as the title would imply, is a comic about a service wherein suicidal people can pay to be murdered.

    Web Animation 

    Web Videos 
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a terrific movie that turns classic villain and hero tropes on their ear. It won a lot of awards, and it would have won one more if there was an award for "Worst Name for a Movie Ever". Many potential fans refused to see the film purely because of the title; it's not exactly unreasonable to expect something called a "Sing-Along Blog" to be awful.
  • Brows Held High: A Video Review Show where the host reviews arthouse movies. You know: those difficult pretentious and boring movies that most people don't watch or care about, but will still dismiss as stupid.
  • CinemaSins follows the efforts of an inattentive nitpicker in listing everything he found "wrong" in movies both famous and infamous. Some people find this series funnier than others.
  • While Digibro could easily qualify with being best-known for his videos dissecting anime down to the most picayune details, he also made a video once about averting this with his views on why the premise is one of the least important criteria for evaluating a show, where he talks about good shows that have weak premises and bad shows with intriguing premises.
  • Discussed on Projector. Mathew notes in his review of How I Live Now that it's about a not-very-likable character trying to get back to someone who is their cousin/lover. He also notes that it flopped in his native UK, probably because of this.

    Western Animation 
  • Big Mouth is a show about characters going through puberty, not being the least coy about exploring sexuality and its development. The concept alone has made it severely polarizing, several people accusing it of being child pornography. Likewise, its artstyle has been deemed visually unappealing (presumably done on purpose to avoid arousing ephebophiles), which didn't help smooth things over. Post-release, however, critics have been generally favorable, though the two former points still make it a very contentious work.
  • The Critic could be this trope's codifier for the medium. It revolves around a Straw Critica fat, bald, acerbic, whiny loser — but portrays him sympathetically as often as not, particularly regarding his struggle against his boss's and popular culture's Anti-Intellectualism. The second season is Lighter and Softer; Jay gets a romantic interest with a Cousin Oliver attached. To the show's credit, it maintains its high level of humor and benefits from the more varied character dynamics the new arrivals allow. But even at the time, fans of the show knew it was Too Good to Last; on ABC in Season 1 it didn't fit in with any of the network's "wacky family" comedies, and when it made its Channel Hop for Fox in Season 2 it would be Screwed by the Network.
  • Assy McGee is about a Cowboy Cop named Assy McGee, who is literally a talking ass. Unsurprisingly it's one of the few shows [adult swim] treats as an Old Shame.
  • Fox's Peter Pan & the Pirates was a cartoon with some great writing and storytelling, that was surprisingly gothic and occasionally scary at times. Why didn't it do well? Well, it's about Peter Pan, and yet it takes itself dead seriously and has more mature storytelling than you'd expect given the source material. Hence, little kids who might be drawn in by Peter Pan got scared away, and older kids who'd enjoy the story took one look at who it's about and decided it was kiddy. Note that the original novel was very dark in its way, as well (at the end, Tinkerbell is dead, and Peter is too childlike to remember, or care, who she was, for example). But, thanks to Disneyfication, anything that returns to the spirit of the original alienates everyone.
  • Similarly, there's Sam & Max: Freelance Police. The show's main humor was incredibly fast-paced dialogue to the point that adults can get lost, and unlike Animaniacs, there wasn't much in the way of Slapstick to balance it out — the main duo were able to laugh off whatever Amusing Injuries they were subject to as if it barely happened. On top of that, it aired at a time when the Animation Age Ghetto was only just starting to be broken, so most grown-ups wouldn't have expected much from what was to them another duo of Funny Animals. Since the preexisting Sam & Max franchise was a Cult Classic, any veteran fans interested wouldn't be enough to sustain the show for more than a season.
  • Transformers:
  • Allen Gregory. The show is about a homeschooled 7-year-old played by Jonah Hill, who is forced to attend elementary school when his gay parents hit hard times, and thus has little idea on how to act as a kid. That could have worked very well... if not for the fact that both the title character and his father were unrepentant Jerkasses, especially to the daughter character (who was an unfunny and rather darkly played Meg ripoff). Not helping matters was the fact that one of the parents wasn't actually gay but rather gave in to a gay relationship because the other wouldn't leave him alone despite several restraining orders — this aspect already angered quite a few people in the gay community thanks to the Unfortunate Implications raised. It also contained a recurring subplot about Gregory attempting to date his principal, who is in her 70s, and his infatuation was portrayed far too sexually to be considered a Precocious Crush. The show reeked of Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy, was met with poor reviews, and canceled after just 7 episodes due to poor ratings.
  • The European series Popetown was set in the Vatican, and featured an impish take on The Pope who came off as a Spoiled Brat, as well as corrupt cardinals; much of the humor is rather sexual, scatological, or just plain stupid. Despite initial interest from viewers, the ensuing religious controversy over how offensive it was to Catholics kept it off the air long enough for any real interest to dry up.
  • Wanting to get in on the popularity of gritty action cartoons from Japan, Warner Bros. came up with Loonatics Unleashed which re-invented Looney Tunes characters as intimidating crimefighters in a dark cyberpunkish setting. Unfortunately people who would've been interested in the Looney Tunes were turned off by the dark-looking setting and action emphasis, and people who wanted to see anthropomorphic superhero action were put on their guard by the fact that the characters were based on Funny Animal cartoons famous for zany slapstick. Due to a backlash the premise was changed into a much more standardized superhero cartoon that received mixed reviews at best. Further attempts were made to fix the show in the second season by lightening things even further and reintroducing nearly all the other classic characters, but despite that and angling even more obviously for another season, the show was cancelled after that season ran its course.
  • To a lesser extent, this might also be the reason The Looney Tunes Show never became the smash hit the channel was hoping for. Sitcom fans were turned off by the Funny Animal cast and Looney Tunes fans probably didn't care for the show's very different humor style and personalities for the 'Tunes. Not helping was the common criticism that the show wasn't sure of which of the two it wanted to appeal to or even the age of its target audience.
  • Pelswick was unable to gain much of an audience due to taking too many risks at once. It had a paraplegic protagonist, which is a pretty big risk by itself, unfortunately, especially since it made the bold choice to have it not define his entire character. Then it was set in a Fantastic Comedy (the protagonist receives advice from a Guardian Angel only he can see), and some of the people who liked the reality aspect found the fantasy aspect confusing to the point they couldn't enjoy it, as well as having an unconventional art style which some people find off-putting in and of itself. For good measure, the show employed mature humor about political correctness and then aimed the series at kids, complete with a far-from-subtle Aesop structure that older people were turned off by. All of this resulted in being cancelled after 26 episodes and not released on DVD with a handful of fans (Funimation wanting to focus more on My Dad the Rock Star certainly didn't help matters).
  • Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain was a unneeded retooling of the already-popular series, Pinky and the Brain, where the duo are forced to live with the least popular character from Tiny Toon Adventures. Two episodes from Pinky and the Brain were made to show that changing the show was a bad move, but the higher ups didn't get the memo. It was clear that the staff hated working on the show as they put "It's what the network wants, why bother to complain? The Earth remains their goal, some things they can't control." in the show's lyrics. The show only lasted 13 episodes.
  • This is the reason My Little Pony Tales flopped. Fans of the usually fantasy-themed My Little Pony franchise found the slice-of-life elements dull and cliché, while most Slice of Life fans couldn't get beyond the fact that the cast is all brightly-colored talking ponies. It's still a controversial topic in the MLP fandom decades later. As for the franchise in general, the central premise of brightly colored magical talking ponies is a significant barrier to mainstream acceptance.
  • Almost Naked Animals. The entire cast is animals who have all their fur shaved off, and wear only underwear, for no specific reason. And they all work at an island cabana. And the art style is very ugly, to say the least, and NOT in an Ugly Cute kind of way.
  • This is what doomed The Goode Family from the start. It's a Spiritual Antithesis to King of the Hill, a show that works because the deeply conservative regions of the United States are well known in other areas of the continent (and probably the world), and those living in those regions are more flattered than anything to have a well-written sitcom set in the area. The Goode Family, on the other hand, is set in the strongly liberal Bay Area, whose culture is much more obscure and whose people felt insulted. As such, the humor and satire in The Goode Family was incomprehensible and the setting too surreal for most viewers, the only people whom it'd really appeal to being those familiar with the area and who either are dissatisfied with living there or can take a joke at their expense. It was yanked off the air as soon as its first season finished. Being put in a Friday Night Death Slot didn't help either.
  • SheZow is an Australian/Canadian cartoon about a twelve-year-old Wholesome Crossdresser superhero. While the series became a minor Cult Classic, this trope is believed to be the reason it never got a second season and faded into semi-obscurity after a very short run.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man. Take Spider-Man, a character popular for being the first teenage superhero to learn how to be a hero of his own, without any mentor (well, not alive anyway) with his own unique Rogues Gallery... and have him be part of a team of teenage heroes and working for SHIELD with Nick Fury as The Mentor, while making him fight mostly completely different villains than those he usually faces. On top of that, the show is very much Denser and Wackier, featured a heavy emphasis on cutaway gags, making it something of a kid-friendly version of Family Guy, already a show heavily criticized for the same. The show still managed to get success, but it also developed a major Hatedom, and even after it improved over the course of three seasons, many fans still refused to give it a chance just because of the premise. Also, fans who were hoping to see an adaptation of the Ultimate Spider-Man comic books were disappointed to find that this was an In Name Only adaptation.
  • Beware the Batman can be very off-putting for fans due to the show's unusual decision to not use any villains from Batman's iconic Rogues Gallery (instead using lesser-known or outright obscure villains), especially for those who find said gallery to be part of why Batman is so memorable to begin with. It did manage to get some fans and eventually brought some more classic villains, but that wasn't enough to save the show from cancellation before a second season.
  • While Codename: Kids Next Door was a successful show, a lot of people find it hard to get into because of the fairly ridiculous premise and how seriously it's handled. In it, vegetables, chores, discipline, and other such things that kids stereotypically hate are legitimately evil things powered by a conspiracy of Child Haters, with the eponymous organization supporting the idea that Naughty Is Good. The odd art-style and Continuity Lock-Out also plays into this. It's worth noting this was a case of genre change. The earliest episodes were self aware of this and played the kids as Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists.
  • Mr. Pickles is about Satan taking in the form of a dog and living with a family modeled after the "ideal families from The '50s" and going around brutally killing people and having sex with various animals. And it's a COMEDY!
  • Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon" is extremely notorious in part because of this. It tried to simultaneously be a drama and a shock comedy that takes every single vulgar, offensive and tasteless joke Up to Eleven, and failed at both. The drama was too ludicrous and forced for the mainstream, and even if it wasn't, they would have still been turned away by the depravity and overall grossness. Meanwhile, the comedy crowd didn't find any of the jokes funny. Unsurprisingly, this led to its extremely short run. An episode-specific example is by far the most well-known and polarising one, the episode "Ren Seeks Help". For those unfamiliar: Ren engages in multiple, highly graphic acts of animal cruelty which are all Played for Laughs. Watch at your discretion.