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Creator Killer

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It would be a while before he could recover from that last one.

Mario: Mike Myers was once a very funny man.
Fafa: And if you watch The Love Guru, you'll actually see his career flushin' down the toilet.
Mario: I... I... I can't watch this.
Glove and Boots, "Nine Movies That Make Men Cry"

A Creator Killer is a rather unpredictable phenomenon when one or more works flop badly enough to take down or badly damage the publishers, the reputation of creative talents behind it, or both. Though there are usually many factors needed to cause the death of a publisher or a creator, some high-profile flops are linked (rightfully or not) to the death of the organization working on it. They will Never Live It Down.

Compare Genre-Killer and Franchise Killer. Not to be confused with Author Existence Failure (though they can overlap if the work's performance is so bad that the creator is Driven to Suicide or otherwise dies shortly after), Rage Against the Author or The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You, where the creator can be literally killed by his or her work. See Star-Derailing Role when it happens to the performers. See Old Shame for an old work which a creator turns against later (or refuses to let see the light of day), but which by itself probably won't destroy their credibility. See Tough Act to Follow when one's career was not killed by a flop but the inability to follow-up a massive success. A Role-Ending Misdemeanor is when this trope is caused by personal scandal rather than a failed work. Contrast Breakthrough Hit (when the work makes the creator a big name) and Career Resurrection and Win Back the Crowd (when the work makes the creator a big name again after a Creator Killer). For understandable reasons, many of these overlap with Troubled Production. If it literally, and directly, kills them, then it's probably an example of Fatal Method Acting.


Note: While a good number of these entries have either been Vindicated by History or are a Cult Classic, they still count as Creator Killers because of the damage they did at the time of their release.

Not to be confused with Fallen Creator, where a once-respected creator is permanently disgraced due to a string of flops or personal misbehaviors. A creator/business that went defunct after one or two serious flops/mistakes could still leave a lasting legacy and be fondly remembered in hindsight.

Do not confuse with A.I. Is a Crapshoot or for when an author wants to kill their own work. Has nothing to do with killing God, nor does it have anything to do with the creator dying for a different reason. Also has nothing to do with the God Killer awakening from Puzzle & Dragons.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Animation studio Arms Corporation, best known for their work on Elfen Lied among others, was already suffering financial troubles with the declining popularity of fanservice anime. But after the commercial underperformance of Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid and the Stillborn Franchise of the Valkyrie Drive series, Arms was reduced to mostly support staff work before filing for bankruptcy in 2020.
  • Bee Train hadn't done any work since 2012 after its last work, Hyouge Mono, suffered Troubled Production and Creator Backlash from the mangaka. There's no official statement yet but it appears to have been quietly shut down as a result of several factors, including the founder Koichi Mashimo's apparent retirement from the industry in the same year and a shortage of major hit productions since Bee Train's split with Production I.G in 2007. Many of the studio's old staff seem to have moved over to the recently independent C-Station.
  • Animation subcontractor drop shut its doors in late 2018 between the failure of an original anime, Lights of the Clione, rising production costs, and their inability to acquire more contracts for other outside productions.
  • As an in-universe example: in Shirobako, director Seiichi Kinoshita of the fictitious series Exodus is thrilled to have any work at all after the complete and abject failure of his last show, an adaptation that went over-budget, devolved into a fanservice-y mess, and enraged the parent manga's fanbase by completely botching its story, to the point where he got absolutely no work for years on end. Naturally, he's still a bit traumatized by the memories of it and suffers constant fears of Exodus turning into the second coming of that debacle.
  • Samurai Flamenco and Gangsta. were both very popular in the West. Domestically, the former sold poorly, and the latter sold middling enough, but not enough to get Manglobe out of the hole before the studio's shutdown in 2015.
  • Pretty Cure producer Hiroaki Shibata was Kicked Upstairs to Toei's Super Sentai division around the time Go! Princess Pretty Cure was approaching its halfway point, so that he wouldn't repeat the costly mistakes he had made with Doki Doki Pretty Cure and HappinessCharge Pretty Cure! and risk turning GoPri into a Franchise Killer.Explanation  It's been suggested that the camel's back broke when HaCha suffered its second-half slump after initially being hailed as a welcome improvement from DokiDoki. Even worse, HaCha was the second straight season to suffer such a fate, and Toei apparently didn't want to take any more chances with Shibata after his mismanagement resulted in two consecutive seasons becoming train wrecks.
  • Crimson Wolf was this to Streamline Pictures. It was so bad not even Fred Patten, an animation historian and Streamline's longest-serving employee, had anything nice to say about it in his chronicle of the company on his blog, and yet they had to license it in order to get a more attractive title founder Carl Macek wanted. Good luck trying to convince any hardcore fan of the company that Crimson Wolf had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the distributor problems that kicked in a few months after its release in April 1995 and ultimately finished off the company in 1997 (not helping matters was that the distributor in question, Orion Pictures, was dealing with its own crippling issues). As for Macek, he continued his career as an ADR director, actor, producer and scriptwriter before his fatal heart attack in 2010.
  • Fractale was conceived as a way for its director, Yutaka "Yamakan" Yamamoto, to make Kyoto Animation regret firing him, with all the resources put into it that you'd expect with a goal like that. He was so sure of its success that he said he'd step down if it did poorly. The end result was said to be good, if not great, by most people who watched it to the end, but not many people did. Yamakan probably would have had to step down even if he hadn't explicitly staked his career on it doing well. It also garnered some of the worst ratings for the noitaminA animation block. Although the 2011 Sendai Earthquake didn't help matters, the show's ratings prior to the earthquake were noticeably behind the average ratings for all other series in the block. The main problem was the competition; Fractale was billed as the "moe-killer" series by the director himself, and as if to prove this it was released at the same time as a cutesy-looking Magical Girl show. Unfortunately for Fractale that show was Puella Magi Madoka Magica, which was not only the anime for the Winter 2011 season, but also one of the most popular anime of the entire decade.

    Comic Books 
  • The infamous crossover Deathmate is often accused of killing Valiant Comics. The other side, Image Comics, did recover from it.
  • After the infamous Clone Saga, it was decided that the Spider-Man titles were to be canceled and relaunched with new "number ones" alongside a miniseries written and drawn by John Byrne that would retell Spider-Man's origin. This reboot was notable in that one writer - Howard Mackie - would be looking after both titles. The reboot was heavily promoted and garnered much anticipation among fans and critics, with Mackie claiming that they would "fix" the books and make things "fun" again. But things soured after the reboot where Mackie had Spider-Man face off against lackluster villains, engage in weird plots like facing off against vampires, supernatural villains, an alien-infested senator who was set up as the Big Bad of his arc, and - most notably - "killed" Mary Jane Watson. Fan and critical reaction was sour, and soon Mackie's plans were outright scuttled - he was replaced on one of the books by Paul Jenkins and was given just enough time to wrap up his run and bring back Mary Jane before he was pulled from the title and replaced by J. Michael Straczynski. Mackie's career never recovered from the debacle. In the decade since then, Mackie rarely worked in comics with his last work being a six-issue mini-series that was to serve as a "reinterpretation" of what was to actually have happened in the initial Clone Saga alongside Tom Defalco.
  • Chuck Austen is, apart from maybe his earlier works, one of the most hated writers in comics, owing mostly to poor characterization and story-telling, along with his attitude towards any criticisms. But it wasn't until his Superman run that his career as a writer really died. After he was kicked out of Marvel by irritated fans, DC hired Austen to write Superman but he was fired shortly afterward and blacklisted from comics after his short run had a Superman-Lana Lang-Lois Lane love triangle based on Austen's hatred of Lois Lane, and he warped her into what he thought she was: an abusive shrew that only married Clark because of his closeness to Superman. That he openly insulted the decades-old beloved character to the media didn't help. It is believed that he tried to make Lois divorce Clark, so that he could be with Lana once more, but was fortunately fired before he did irreversible damage. He hasn't done anything worth mentioning since.
  • X-Men Forever destroyed Chris Claremont's once-legendary career in comics.
  • While Jeph Loeb's stories have always had detractors, Ultimatum is the series that truly hurt his career, due to all kinds of research failure, in addition to gratuitous violence and tons of death. While he sort of recovered with the decent Captain America: Fallen Son and Nova, the fact that he ruined the Ultimate line means he doesn't get much work writing comics anymore. Loeb is still in charge of the television and animation division of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however, where he has had much better success.
  • Karl Bollers is most famous for his run on Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics). Unfortunately, it wasn't well received and is pretty much the reason why he hasn't done much else. Likewise with Ken Penders, who eventually sued Archie for the rights to his characters, causing a reboot of the comics (and likely causing the license to move to IDW not long after). He was utterly blacklisted in the industry for this stunt, drew the ire of fans who thought what he did was utterly petty, and hasn't written anything major since. He has tried to do his own comic based on the characters he “acquired”, but it’s considered a laughing stock in the comics and Sonic fandoms alike, and still hasn’t been released in any capacity.
  • Ardian Syaf was an up-and-coming artist who was chosen as one of three rotating artists for Marvel's X-Men: Gold. However, he was hit with massive controversy when X-Men: Gold #1 was released and it was revealed he snuck in various references to political and religious topics, which could actually be translated as Anti-Christian and Anti-Jewish. Both fans and other creators got angry over this, and Syaf himself proclaimed that his career was over. Marvel fired him the next day.
  • The controversial Lost Girls miniseries may not have damaged Alan Moore's career too badly, but it did bring an end to the career of his collaborator (and now wife) Melinda Gebbie. It didn't help that she relocated to England, where several of her works (including Lost Girls) were deemed obscene.
  • Get Kraven brought an abrupt end to Ron Zimmerman's career as a comic-book writer, failing so badly that Marvel canceled it before its final issue was released. He's since gone back to writing and producing for TV.

  • Announced way back in 1964, RCA's SelectaVision video system was intended to be the "next big thing" after color television, but intra-corporate rivalries and mismanagement after David Sarnoff stepped down and was replaced by his son, Robert, in 1965, stalled progress on it for over a decade. It took not one, not two, but three false starts note , and had to survive numerous attempts by upper management at killing the project as interest waxed and waned, as well as a compromise deal with RCA's management, dealers and Panasonic in 1976 that saw the SelectaVision name applied to the first VHS VCR marketed in the US note , and a soft reboot in 1977 after it was discovered that JVC had poached the disc system and had started recruiting for its version (which eventually became VHD). (RCA also deliberately avoided magnetic tape until they were basically forced to, since they believed it would never be cheap enough for home use.) All of this meant it was delayed until spring of 1981 — well into the VCR era, and long after Philips' and MCA's competing LaserDisc system was introduced. While the format did have some advantages at the timenote , and a factory-fresh disc with a good needle compared quite favorably with LaserDisc, the format had massive durability issues; video quality on repeated plays was plagued with skipping and dropouts, degrading into an unwatchable mess after only a few hundred plays (RCA rated the discs at around 500 plays). More importantly, it didn't offer the recording capability of VHS/Beta; while the discs were cheap to buy, people were still far more interested at the time in recording things they could see for free on TV and watching them later, and video rental was still several years away — and unlike VHS or Beta, SelectaVision was a purchase-only format controlled entirely by RCA, meaning that some content was simply not available. After all of the delays and the massive amount of R&D put into it, RCA needed SelectaVision to be a hit, but the format failed to take off, resulting in RCA finally killing the project in 1984, and its subsequent acquisition and breakup by its former parent General Electric. Technology Connections produced a 5-part series about the format's infamously Troubled Production that starts here, and Techmoan also covered the format here.
  • During the '80s and '90s, The Sharper Image was a modestly popular electronics company specializing in appliances such as jogging watches. However, the company had its "big break" during the Turn of the Millennium, when they created an air purifier called the Ionic Breeze. The purifier became a huge success, thanks to its compact size and the fact that it didn't require frequent filter changes. However, what was believed to be the product that would make them into a household name instead turned out to be what killed them. In 2003, Consumer Reports published a negative review of the Ionic Breeze, saying that it essentially didn't work as advertised. This resulted in The Sharper Image suing them for unfair testing practices — a suit that was thrown out of court when they were to unable to actually demonstrate that CR's claims were in any way incorrect, damning the Ionic Breeze and vindicating CR's review. The Ionic Breeze's fate was sealed in 2005, when CR published an article declaring it a potential health hazard thanks to the large amounts of ozone it had produced, causing sales to plummet. The Sharper Image quickly dissolved, eventually filing Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2008. Today, the company exists strictly as a minor subsidiary of several larger corporations.
  • Like The Sharper Image, LJN's "breakthrough" product ended up being their death knell instead. After impressive licensing deals that brought toys based off properties such as ThunderCats (1985) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, LJN used their newfound fame to create a line of water guns called "Entertech". The toys were revolutionary on the fact that they could fire water like an automatic firearm, and even have its water supply come from detachable magazines. Add that to their almost completely realistic look to a real firearm, and it seemed that the brand would turn LJN into a major toy competitor to Hasbro and Mattel. That dream was never realized, however, as on the peak of Entertech's popularity, it became the center of massive media attention after several high-profile incidents of children playing with the water guns getting shot and killed by police officers who were unable to distinguish the toys with the real thing. Even more shocking were that the toy guns had been commonly used in robberies at banks and retailers. As a result of the controversy surrounding Entertech, LJN's then-parent company MCA sold the toy manufacturer in 1990 to Acclaim. Acclaim then shut down LJN's toy division in 1990 to focus more on its video game division (see the "Video Games" section for more).
  • In 2010, tech company Fusion Garage released their own PC tablet called the JooJoo, meant to compete with the new iPad. They had originally started this project with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington but eventually broke off and did the tablet themselves, incurring a lawsuit from Arrington in the process. When the tablet hit store shelves, its ungainly size and weight compared to the coming iPad, along with battery-life issues and poor lag, ended up making the tablet a failure and unplugged Fusion Garage's business within two years, owing creditors $40 million.
  • The Sinclair brand of affordable consumer electronics, most famous for the ZX Spectrum, was felled as an independent entity by the combined failures of the Sinclair C5, an early attempt at an electric vehicle that underperformed against an ordinary bicycle; and the TV80, an expensive-to-build attempt at a portable television with an incredibly narrow viewing angle and a specialised CRT that would soon be obsoleted by LCD technology. Without the NEB to save them (as when the Sinclair Black Watch flopped just as miserably), Sinclair Research was forced to sell the Sinclair brand and the computer products that bore it to their rival Amstrad just to stay afloat. The company is still around today but exists primarily as a means through which founder Clive Sinclair markets his inventions.
  • Most American manufacturers of analog synthesizers that were around in The '70s shut down because they couldn't keep up with the technological advancement of The '80s. Moog died trying to keep up: The six-voice flagship polysynth Memorymoog came too late (the target audience already had Jupiters, Oberheims etc.), it was quite unreliable at first, even adding MIDI didn't save it, and Moog failed to earn back the money it cost to develop it (also because they were dumb enough to discontinue the Minimoog in 1981). The Memorymoog required a third-party upgrade to become somewhat reliable. Oberheim and Sequential Circuits were pretty much killed off by digital synths that suddenly came from Japan. At least E-mu was in the right place at the right time with the Emulator, the first halfway affordable sampler for those musicians and producers who couldn't afford Fairlights, and introduced their first Proteus ROMpler the same year as the Korg M1.
    ARP Instruments, on the other hand, succumbed to the consequences of trying to be ahead of everyone else and explore a new market at the same time by offering a synthesizer for guitarists. In 1974, the development of a monstrous polyphonic multi-section synthesizer named Centaur VI commenced. It bound all of ARP's engineers and ate up pretty much the company's entire budget for a whole of two years during which ARP was unable to come up with anything new. At the end, they had two prototypes of a synth that would have been way too expensive even if mass-produced. Not only that, it would have been the first guitar synth, but the pickup failed to separate the signals from the six strings cleanly. Two years of development for nothing. Mind you, ARP was so far ahead of its time that they could have had a normal polysynth with patch memory ready for production in 1976, even before the Yamaha CS-80. ARP never fully recovered from this, also due to a few more bad decisions. By the end of the decade, they started developing a normal polysynth named Chroma to keep up with the likes of the CS-80 and the Prophet-5, but in 1981, when they were done, they didn't have any money anymore to build it and ceased their operations. The Chroma was eventually produced under the Rhodes flag.

    Films — Combination of creators/companies 
  • Heaven's Gate destroyed the career of Michael Cimino (the director of The Deer Hunter), contributed to the collapse of the United Artists studio and its sale to MGM, and ended the "New Hollywood" post-studio-system era in which director/auteurs were were given complete creative control over their projects. Thus, it not only destroyed the careers of the people who created it but ended an era that produced many of the best films in history. Cimino's directing career didn't immediately end after that, but all of his post-Heaven's Gate outings were commercial failures. He had a chance of recovery, however, as not long after Heaven's Gate Cimino was offered a chance to direct Footloose of all films, under the condition that he won't exceed the budget and schedule by a single day or dollar. However, his primadonna behavior started again during pre-production, and when weeks before the shooting was scheduled to begin, he demanded to delay it until he rewrites the script and to get $250,000 for it; Paramount quickly replaced him. Cimino's final film was 1996's Sunchaser; its failure to get a wide theatrical release due to poor test screenings made him stop working on any more projects, as he died twenty years later.
  • Disney's notorious 1985 Box Office Bomb, The Black Cauldron, took a few studio heads down with it:
    • The failure to get the film out in any reasonable amount of time helped bring down Ron Miller's regime at Disney, and its financial failure ensured that he would never work in Hollywood again. He did have success in the wine industry in later years.
    • Co-directors Ted Berman and Richard Rich and producer Joe Hale were also fired from Disney in the wake of the film's release; Berman and Hale never worked in animation again.
    • Rich's next studio, Rich Animation Studios, got hit with this twice. After their first feature film The Swan Princess flopped (though it spawned a small Direct to Video franchise), the animation studio disappeared from cinema for a few years and then tried their hand at feature film again with The King and I animated adaptation in 1999. The critical and commercial failure of that film (which came complete with a "no animated versions of our works" mandate from The King And I copyright holder Rodgers & Hammerstein Estates) caused the company to be acquired by Crest Animation Studios. The newly-formed RichCrest Animation Studios then released their animated adaptation of The Trumpet of the Swan, which failed to secure a wide release and was also a critical and commercial disappointment. Not until 2010 did the company (as Crest Animation Studios) return to cinemas with Alpha and Omega, which despite negative reviews was a commercial success and today is a Cult Classic among young animation fans, and also ended up spawning a line of DTV sequels.
    • Inverted with Jeffrey Katzenberg, who ended up becoming more influential within Disney (especially with DreamWorks) as a result of this film's failure; he was able to utilize his "I told you this would flop" position on the movie over the older executives who had believed in it, painting their tastes as out of touch with what current moviegoers wanted to see.
    • It was very nearly the death of Disney itself. Thankfully, its spectacular and humiliating failure, as well as the growing amount of competition, convinced them to finally get their act together and make better movies.
  • The failure of Titan A.E. brought down Don Bluth's career, shut down Fox Animation Studios, and helped end the post-Golden Age era known as The Renaissance Age of Animation where the animation medium re-surged in both popularity and quality thanks to increasing challenges by filmmakers and artists against the Animation Age Ghetto that had dominated the medium for decades. Thus, not only did it bring down the career of a celebrated animator, but also helped end an era that brought out some of the greatest animated media in history. A handful of other 2D animated film flops from Bluth's rivals at Disney and DreamWorks Animation piled on to Titan A.E. and ended cinematic 2D animation until the end of the 2000's with the releases of The Princess and the Frog and Winnie-the-Pooh, and even then, the only 2D films released in theaters after those films have been The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water in 2015, My Little Pony: The Movie in 2017, and Teen Titans Go! To the Movies in 2018.
  • Cutthroat Island, one of the biggest box office flops of all time, was the final straw for Carolco Pictures, which went bankrupt a month prior to the film's release due to its lavish overspending on other projects. It also destroyed Renny Harlin's respectability as a director, and the careers of pretty much everyone else involved (only the film's composer John Debney and distributor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer came out relatively unscathed. It also killed off the pirate movie genre until Pirates of the Caribbean came along, and even now there are no successful pirate movies outside of that franchise.
  • The failure of Raise the Titanic! is often credited with bringing down the film career of Lew Grade, at the time one of the most respected television producers in the United Kingdom, and perhaps the world. Grade quipped that "It would have been cheaper to Lower The Atlantic." It also disgusted the original book's author, Clive Cussler, so much that he refused to sell film rights to his books for 25 years. The subsequent failure of The Legend of the Lone Ranger in 1981 (a failure perhaps ensured by the producers suing the original Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore, and forcing him to relinquish his mask) might have been the last straw for ITC Entertainment, the company Grade founded. Grade lost control of ITC in 1982 (though he returned under PolyGram management and remained there until his death in 1998), and the only thing keeping the company profitable for the final years of its existence was its library of previous accomplishments. If that wasn't enough, Jim Henson cut ties with ITC after they attempted tampering with The Dark Crystal to the point where he bought the film's rights from them (Universal still handled theatrical distribution, though), and in 1984 he bought every Muppet project ITC co-produced note  back from them.
  • The critical and commercial flop of Strange Magic was enough justification on Disney's part to give Touchstone Pictures the ax as the studio severed ties with DreamWorks later that year; that studio went to mend fences with Universal Pictures (which they had dumped for Disney years earlier, after the studio was spun off from Paramount) and shift distribution of DW movies to them. The company bowed down with the release of The Light Between Oceans, which was also a Box Office Bomb that was released in September.note  Additionally, the failure also marked the end for George Lucas' mainstream ventures apart from a single scene in Solo and a possible Stock Scream that debuted in The Rise of Skywalker, and wound up becoming the only project from Lucasfilm Animation that was not part of the Star Wars franchise.
  • Film producer Dino De Laurentiis' career never fully recovered after opening his own studio in the early/mid-1980s, which he then proceeded to run into the ground within less than five years. The films De Laurentiis produced at his studio were not box office hits (even Blue Velvet and the first Hannibal Lecter movie, Manhunter, ended up as Acclaimed Flops). Ironically, it didn't end up living long enough to see one of its projects, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, become a hit. His second company had a mixed track record, with films like Army of Darkness doing well enough to make back their budget, but not much after that. Although De Laurentiis kept producing until his death in 2010, he never had any success outside of the Hannibal movies (he apparently regretted selling the film rights to The Silence of the Lambs)—and adding insult to injury, the last theatrically-released film he produced, the 2007 film adaptation of the book Hannibal Rising, was a critical and financial flop that ended that franchise (not helped by the fact that the only reason both the book and the film existed was because De Laurentiis wanted to make a prequel Hannibal film). To show how desperate his studio was for a hit, in 1987 De Laurentiis teamed up with Glad to release the gimmicky comedy Million Dollar Mystery. Since the movie centered on trying to recover $4 million, they had a contest where if one of the audience members could accurately guess the whereabouts of a hidden million dollars based on clues sprinkled in and on specially marked Glad-Lock bags, he or she would get that amount of money!note  The film was a million dollar misery at the box-office, thus it not only poured salt on De Laurentiis' studio's wound, but it also marked the end for veteran director Richard Fletcher. His late wife and the company bearing his name tried to revive the Hannibal Lecter franchise with the cult 2013 TV series, which despite critical acclaim, a rapid cult fanbase, and catapulting Mads Mikkelsen to stardom, received low ratings and was cancelled, thus ensuring an ignominious end to the De Larentiis legacy.
  • In what was possibly the most egregious vanity project of the independent scene, mortgagee Daniel Sadek conceived Redline as a starring vehicle for his girlfriend Nadia Björlin and his valuable cars. Along with producing and co-writing this flick, Sadek sunk in $55 million for the production and distribution both through his own companies, Quick Loan Funding (which was a subprime mortgage service) and Chicago Pictures respectably. While critics couldn't tear it to shreds in advance, that embargo didn't stop Redline from bombing hard at the box office. The disaster was so great, it not only spelled death for Chicago Pictures and fry Quick Loan, but it also took a huge financial toll on Sadek himself. He ended up bankrupt with the dubious distinction of being "Predator Zero in the subprime-mortgage game".
  • Animator Richard Williams' career as well as his eponymous studio were both destroyed following his removal from his long awaited film, The Thief and the Cobbler, which bombed with critics and audiences alike following several major re-edits from the producers, which also led to him disowning the film for 20 years afterwards. Other than the release of two new films in 2010 and 2015 respectively, he largely focused on writing animation tutorials and teaching aspiring animators around the world before dying of kidney cancer in 2019.

    Films — Home video companies/divisions 
  • Allied Artists Video thought it would be a good idea to release The Babe Ruth Story early in their run. After all, they were releasing dozens of other titles simultaneously, so What Could Possibly Go Wrong? They even placed as the film's blurb a rare positive review for the film, claiming it to be "a sports-action winner featuring the king of swat". Imagine the consumers' shock, then, when what they got was a cheap-ass B-movie cash-in on the Sultan of Swat made to capitalize on his death in 1948. One bad apple, it turns out, does spoil the whole damn bunch, and this painted a big red target on the back of Allied Artists Video when new owner Lorimar decided to put unprofitable assets on the chopping block in 1980.
  • Simitar Entertainment, a media company that specialized in special interest VHS tapes covering a wide range of genres and compilation albums (as well as the first independent company to release DVDs), met an untimely demise in 1999 when Titan Sports, owner of the WWF, filed a lawsuit against them for infringing copyright from WWF: The Music, Volume Three (which was, as the title suggests, a music album). Simitar lost the case and wound up bankrupt by the end of the year. Afterward, they were forced to sell their assets to Brentwood Communications, which was later bought by Navarre Corporation.

  • While Gloria Tesch's works were never well-received, her family self-published three Maradonia Saga books between 2008 and 2010, and they had planned to make more sequels — the last published book ended on a cliffhanger. Then they started focusing on The Film of the Book, which languished in Development Hell for a while and was finally released in 2016. It was so expensive to make that it got the Tesches evicted from their house, and they likely recouped extremely little of the money — if anything at all — as the film was only ever shown in one theater, which they had rented out. The film features a "Will Return" Caption, but it seemingly didn't even get a DVD release, let alone a sequel. Its failure seems to mark the end of the Maradonia series, which tainted her reputation to the point where she has evidently given up on itnote  and is trying to distance herself from it. She released her next book, The Secret of Moon Lake, under the name Sofia Nova and described it as her debut novel, effectively disowning Maradonia.
  • While it's now regarded as one of the great American novels, in its time Moby-Dick was a bomb that killed Herman Melville's career, selling only 3,200 copies in his life. A major part of the problem was that the British version omitted the epilogue that revealed that Ishmael survived (closing the perceived Plot Hole of how the first-person narrator lived to tell his tale), and so the British critics rejected it — and in 1851, American critics were expected to echo the opinions of their British counterparts if they wanted to be considered sophisticated. All of his subsequent books were failures, and by 1876 all were out of print.
  • Fantasy author J. Robert King was once the most prolific author for the Magic: The Gathering book line, writing no fewer than ten books between 1997 and 2003 including series prequel The Thran, Time Streams, all three books of the climatic Invasion Cycle, and a smattering of anthology books. Then came the Onslaught Cycle, which started off decently with Onslaught but showed some cracks even early on (recurring Villain Decay, a succession of Original Characters) which continued through Legions. The real Creator Killer for King, however, was Scourge. Even if Scourge hadn't been plagued by a pair of Comedic Relief Characters liked by seemingly no one but King, he made the critical mistake of resurrecting penultimate series Big Bad Yawgmoth, a move that apparently wasn't vetted by everybody at Wizards of the Coast. King never wrote another novel for the universe again, and come the later Time Spiral Cycle Yawgmoth's resurrection was retconned into having been a hallucination.
  • A rather sad example with the notoriously-awful The Eye of Argon, which was published when its author Jim Theis was seventeen. It is indeed as bad as its reputation claims, laden with spelling errors, Purple Prose, cliches, and Narm... which makes a lot more sense when you remember that the author was seventeen and had never really written anything before. It was originally published for a small 'zine, but then someone got ahold of it who found it to be So Bad, It's Good, which eventually led to it being published and circulated on a fairly large scale—without Theis' knowledge, and without paying him anything. The story became infamous in fantasy and literary circles, and making fun of it is still a popular pastime at conventions and the like, but Theis revealed in an interview a couple decades later that the whole debacle had really hurt him, as he mostly just wanted to forget the whole thing ever happened, and led to him deciding to swear off writing. He died in 2002, The Eye of Argon being his only published work.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Longtime producer Allan Carr was a major presence in the film industry during the '70s and '80s. His biggest success was the film adaptation of Grease. In 1988, Carr was given complete creative control of the 1989 Academy Awards telecast - which meant that he promised "the most beautiful Academy Awards of all time" and replicate his successes in Broadway musicals with a production number involving Snow White and Rob Lowe performing a duet of "Proud Mary". But the attempt didn't work as well and the resulting show was cringe-inducing to watch. The Academy also used Snow White without Disney's permission and they were sued for copyright infringement. This opening show is in the book What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History. As for Carr, he continued to work as a theatre producer before dying of liver cancer in 1999.
  • Game Show creator and producer Chuck Barris was riding high in The '70s with a stable of bawdy and tacky game shows: The Newlywed Game, The Dating Game, Treasure Hunt, and The Gong Show, the last of which he also hosted. But in 1979, he created 3's a Crowd, a lurid show that asked questions of a male contestant, then of his wife and secretary, to see which of the two knew him better. The show drew outrage from Moral Guardians and the fallout resulted in its cancellation along with Newlywed, Dating, and Gong (Treasure Hunt had left the air in 1977; Crowd is in What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History). A Barris-produced revival of the 1960s game show Camouflage replaced Crowd at midseason, and was also canceled. For the next decade, Barris generally only mounted either syndicated revivals of Newlywed, Dating, and Gong, or shows that didn't make it past the pilot stage. (Notably, there was Bamboozle in 1986, which got hit by a lawsuit from Mark Goodson over its resemblance to To Tell the Truth and got it canned after the pilot stage.) Sony Pictures Television eventually acquired the rights to his catalog while Barris moved to New York before dying of natural causes in 2017.
  • In 1994, Arsenio Hall booked Louis Farrakhan, from the Nation of Islam, for an interview. The backlash it got, coupled with the already-slipping ratings (due to CBS re-entering the late night game with Letterman; many CBS affiliates had picked up Arsenio in lieu of The Pat Sajak Show and CBS' other meager late-night offerings), killed Hall's career momentum. A revival of The Arsenio Hall Show in 2013 was a complete failure that was cancelled after its first season.
  • Inhumans served as the end for not one, but two creators:
    • Scott Buck started out as a writer for shows such as Six Feet Under and Dexter before being promoted to showrunner for the latter. His tenure in that role wasn't well-regarded, but that didn't stop Marvel from putting him in charge of Iron Fist (2017) some years later. However, his career as showrunner didn't truly tank until Inhumans, which destroyed any chance he still had of being trusted in the role.
    • Marvel Television was originally a sister subsidiary to Marvel Studios, but after Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter's Executive Meddling became too much for Kevin Feige, Disney would do some corporate restructuring that allowed Marvel Studios to work independently of Marvel Entertainment. However, Marvel Television remained a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, and the rift between the two led to the various television series having less and less connection to the movies. Following the failure of Inhumans, combined with the various successes from Marvel Studios (two of which note  Perlmutter, reportedly due to racist and misogynistic attitudes, was notoriously opposed to), Disney did some more corporate restructuring in late 2019, leading to Marvel Television becoming absorbed into Marvel Studios. The only pre-Feige Marvel Television production to end on its own terms was Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and even then, the fifth (and antepenultimate) season ended with a Series Fauxnale since Inhumans put it in danger of being cancelled.
  • The controversial final season of Game of Thrones affected the reputation of showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Prior to the final season's release, they had been given a series order for controversial drama Confederate and an unnamed series of Star Wars films. After the negative reception to the final season of Game of Thrones (although it also has won dozens of Emmy Awards, including Oustanding Drama Series, and many nominations at other awards), Confederate was cancelled and they abandoned Star Wars in favor of a contract with Netflix. At the moment they are making an adaptation of The Three-Body Problem on Netflix, but only time will tell if they will be able to regain the trust of critics and fans with this project.
  • Jean François Nebell's company Litteris Production was in trouble after Sett på maken, an attempt to make a Norwegian Spitting Image, was so harshly received that it became a One-Episode Wonder. Its next release Sommerfugl was also very poorly received, suffered from low ratings, and was caught up in a scandal due to the poor working conditions on set. Together these two flops caused the company to go bankrupt.
  • The controversial series finale of How I Met Your Mother damaged Craig Thomas' and Carter Bays' reputation which many viewers vowed to never watch any of their works ever again. It could explain why many people lost interest on the planned spin-off How I Met Your Dad which never got picked by CBS and other networks. It doesn’t help that when the script of the pilot was leaked online, it's very similar to the pilot episode of How I Met Your Mother. After the show ended, both Thomas and Bays haven't been doing much asides from having a bunch of forgotten TV movies in their filmographies.


  • At the end of its fifth season, Saturday Night Live aired what was clearly intended as its final episode. NBC, however, refused to let their cash cow die, replacing the cast and writers entirely, and hiring the show's talent coordinator Jean Doumanian to replace Lorne Michaels as executive producer (snubbing Al Franken after network head Fred Silverman took personal offense to Franken's "Limo for the Lame-O" piece and Harry Shearer, who didn't like how Lorne Michaels was running SNL and wanted to add more experienced comic actorsnote ). While Doumanian did have a knack for getting good musical guests and treating the talent right, she was out of her depth for running a comedy show.
    • Though Doumanian claims that she was sabotaged because the mostly male higher-ups at NBC did not feel comfortable having a woman run the show, the TV special Lost and Found: SNL in the 1980s places the blame of the show's horrid sixth season on Doumanian because of her incompetence and inexperience. She passed up a lot of potentially funny cast membersnote , tried to make the sketches more dramatic, had no idea how to make the humor edgy (and when she did try, it ended up being dour, flat, and obvious in an intelligence-insulting way), brought on cast members who weren't seasoned in comedy at allnote , and did nothing to improve the show's quality when the reviews tore her season apart and began to praise ABC's Fridays as the new sharp, satirical sketch show (until ABC screwed the show over).
    • After Charles Rocket's "f-word" debacle on the Charlene Tilton-hosted episode, Doumanian was fired (along with most of her cast, except for cast members Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, Denny Dillon, Gail Matthius - though Dillon and Matthius would be fired later - and writer Brian Doyle-Murray). The season lives on as one of the lowest points in the show's peak-and-valley history (seasons 11note  and 20note  are the only other seasons that have spelled doom for SNLnote , but those seasons have been Vindicated by History, as most modern viewers will claim that the Weekend Update segments, done by Dennis Miller and Norm MacDonald respectively, are Actually Pretty Funny). It earned an (dis)honorable mention in What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History and was one of the last straws for NBC regarding Silverman, who was fired for nearly killing the network shortly afterward.
    • Doumanian resurfaced in The '90s as the producer of a number of critically acclaimed and moderately successful Woody Allen films. Two of them (Bullets Over Broadway and Mighty Aphrodite) even won Best Supporting Actress Oscars. Then her momentum ended in 2000 when she suddenly backed out of a movie, leaving Allen stranded, eventually resulting in both of them filing lawsuits against each other.
    • The denouement of that season may have literally killed Charles Rocket. Before that season he was seen as an up-and-comer whose "Rocket Report" newscast segments made him seem like a natural successor to Chevy Chase. But after the series and his dismissal, he got only supporting roles in films like Dumb and Dumber and failed TV pilots. It was enough to pay the bills, but he never became the big star he could have been, and in 2005 he was found dead in a field near his home with his throat cut, apparently a suicide.
  • Supertrain: The final destruction of NBC was barely averted with the flop of a series the struggling network was resting its future upon. This hour-long comedy-drama series was essentially a clone of The Love Boat (trips, all-star guest casts, intertwining storylines with one a comedy, one more serious and a romantic story; etc.), except it was set aboard a train. Fans tuned in the first week and found unfunny situations and a series that all-around paled in comparison to the vastly superior Love Boat, and a hasty attempt to rework the series failed. Supertrain often finds its way onto "biggest TV flops of all time" lists. Adding to the problem was the highly-expensive model train at one point jumped the tracks and crashed on the studio floor, requiring another equally expensive replacement to be built. This earned a spot on What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History, and got boss Fred Silverman, who was struggling right out of the gate, in real trouble.
  • Cliffhangers: Another series that NBC truly and earnestly believed in, so much so that it nearly canceled several legitimate hits – most notably Little House on the Prairie – to put on a poorly written and produced program featuring three serial cliffhanger dramas. Each drama was 20-minutes long and ended with a cliffhanger, but only one of them reached its proper conclusion before NBC gave up.
  • The 1980 Summer Olympics: By default, thanks to President Jimmy Carter's announcement that the United States would be boycotting the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow due to the Soviets' invasion of Afghanistan the previous year. The boycott cost NBC millions in desperately needed advertising revenue ... and it, along with the failure of Supertrain, would nearly undo the United States' oldest television network and ended Silverman's career with the firm.
  • Another factor in Silverman's departure from NBC was The David Letterman Show. This was his attempt to usher comedy in a daytime environment dominated by soap operas, game shows, sitcom reruns and syndicated talk fare hosted by Phil Donahue and Merv Griffin. It didn't go over well as the piss-poor ratings proved that daytime television was not yet ready for that sort of thing. Still, Silverman pressed on with it, cutting its run time from 90 minutes to 60 after a few weeks before it was mercifully canned after four months on the air. Silverman originally axed three modestly performing game shows to make room: Chain Reaction (which ironically recycled a music cue from the above-mentioned Supertrain as its theme), High Rollers, and The Hollywood Squares (Wheel of Fortune narrowly avoided this fate as well; it escaped cancellation twice during this span and Another World had its run time cut back to make room for the spin-off soap Texas). All things considered, Silverman openly hated game shows, feeling that they were a waste of time and not as entertaining as scripted programming. Never mind that game shows are generally cheaper to produce than scripted programming and might have helped NBC while Silverman nearly ran the network dry (case in point, Squares still pulled in successful ratings at the time of its cancellation). Averted for Letterman himself, who would move onto a successful career in late-night television in 1982.
  • The Jay Leno Show was an attempt by NBC to keep Jay Leno, who had recently retired as the host of The Tonight Show, with the company, as well as air a cheaper alternative to the expensive scripted dramas that, at the height of the Reality TV boom in the 2000s, were seen as aging, overpriced relics. Uniquely, it was the first show on a major US TV network to air in Prime Time five nights a week since ABC ran marathons of its megahit Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in 1999 — and in hindsight, perhaps they should have remembered how ABC's oversaturation of Millionaire killed the hype surrounding it, because The Jay Leno Show, taking up a third of NBC's prime time schedule, turned out to be a massive bomb that signaled the nadir of the network's 2000s Dork Age. Even worse, once The Jay Leno Show started circling the drain, NBC moved it to a more natural timeslot at 11:35, where The Tonight Show was still airing under Leno's replacement Conan O'Brien — and O'Brien was not happy that his show was being bumped back. The resulting "Late Night War" between Leno and O'Brien caused the latter to quit NBC and bring his tenure hosting The Tonight Show to a premature end, though fortunately, he would soon bounce back with a new show on TBS. Behind the scenes, heads rolled at NBC after the Jay Leno Show fiasco. CEO Jeff Zucker was fired by Comcast (NBC's new corporate owner) in the aftermath of the Late Night War, and numerous other executives, including Marc Graboff and network chairman Jeff Gaspin, also left under their own volition. Leno returned to The Tonight Show in the aftermath of O'Brien's departure, but it was a Pyrrhic Victory, as audiences who sympathized with O'Brien tuned in to TBS to watch his new show instead. Leno's return to The Tonight Show, by contrast, left both him and NBC with a lot of ill will from viewers, and for the first time in fifteen years, The Tonight Show slipped to second place in the ratings behind ABC's late-night news program Nightline. He would be let go in 2014 to be replaced by Jimmy Fallon, and would largely retire from television outside of guest appearances on other late-night shows, though he still works as a stand-up comedian.


  • Eldorado was a memetically disastrous attempt by The BBC to create an American-style "decadent rich people" Soap Opera set in a community of ex-pats in southern Spain. It destroyed the careers of Julia Smith and Tony Holland, who had previously had a huge success with Eastenders, a much more traditional British-style kitchen-sink soap, to the point that Smith announced her retirement immediately on its cancellation. It also did non-lethal but permanent damage to the career of Verity Lambert.

Yahoo! Screen

  • Yahoo! attempted to get into the streaming content game by creating Yahoo! Screen, a proprietary content provider. It made headlines by picking up Community after its cancellation by NBC and also developed original content like Other Space and Sin City Saints. None of these shows brought in desired audience numbers, however, because Yahoo! didn't do much advertising beyond its own properties and people who did try to watch were frustrated by the buggy proprietary media player that didn't work on some platforms. In the end, Yahoo! Screen posted a loss of $42 million and was shut down after one year.

  • Some players believe that Flipper Football — an attempt to realistically portray soccer in a pinball game — was the straw that broke the back of Capcom Pinball. Other observers, though, believe the division was already on such shaky ground with Capcom management that nothing could've saved it.
  • Many pinball enthusiasts argue that ex-Williams designer John Popadiuk — renowned for games such as Tales of the Arabian Nights and World Cup Soccer — crashed and burned along with his independent company, Zidware. He made ambitious plans to release several highly-expensive pinball machines for collectors: Magic Girl, Retro Atomic Zombie Adventureland, and Alice in Wonderland. However, Popadiuk revealed that, despite the millions of pre-order money he received, he had run out of money and couldn't continue the projects any further. Since then, Popadiuk's reputation has snowballed, and many fans (mainly those who are on the notorious Pinside Forums) refer to him as "Jflop" or "Jpoop" and are pursuing legal action against him.
  • After Kevin Kulek — the leader of the boutique pinball manufacturer Skit- B Pinball — confessed that he really had no license from Fox to produce a series of highly-anticipated Predator games, backlash erupted, and he quickly became a persona non grata among pinball fans, companies and unfortunate pre-orderers of the game. Since then, customers have been fighting to sue Kulek en masse, and the company itself has adopted such names like "Shit-B".
  • Unofficial gossip is that pinball artist Python Anghelo's career ended with the unfinished "Zingy Bingy" project. According to secondhand sources, "Zingy Bingy" was a pornographic-themed pinball game; players would use penis-shaped flippers to shoot the pinball into vagina-shaped saucers, while breast bumpers knocked the ball around.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The infamous "Fingerpoke Of Doom" event during a 1999 episode of WCW Monday Nitro is often cited as the beginning of the end for WCW,note  but the event that truly sent the promotion to the point of no return was when all WCW programming was canceled by order of parent company Turner Broadcasting's then-chairman-and-CEO Jamie Kellner, who was seeking to sell the promotion off after Turner's parent, Time Warner, merged with AOL and wanted to rid the conglomerate of assets costing them millions. Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation, WCW's rivals, bought the promotion's remaining assets and programming library for $3 million (bear in mind that WCW was worth over $500 million at one time) just so that AOL Time Warner can desperately rid their portfolio of professional wrestling. An extreme example of an entire company being Screwed by the Network.
  • ECW's show on TNN was supposed to be the thing that would take the company out of "cult following" status and into mainstream success. Instead, the financial and logistical pressures of producing the weekly program, as well as the network's forcing the promotion to tone down the blood-and-guts style that made them famous, and then failing to promote or back them in any way (even going so far as to negotiate to bring the WWF to the network while ECW was still airing), ended up killing the promotion. By the end, ECW was in open Writer Revolt, trying desperately to get their show canceled so they could shop it around to other networks before the money ran out. It didn't work, and like WCW their assets were sold off to rival WWE (who had just changed their name from WWF following a trademark lawsuit from the World Wide Fund for Nature) two years after they declared bankruptcy. WWE briefly revived the ECW name for a show on Syfy in 2006, then permanently retired the name in 2010.

    Tabletop Games 
  • While not a creator, distributor Upper Deck Entertainment got hit hard during the latter part of the GX era of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG due to their own Executive Meddling; a series of unpopular reshuffling of set cards (including the dismantling of two highly anticipated structure decks to release their new cards as difficult-to-get Secret Rares in the main sets), creation of poorly-received TCG-only cards, and ultimately the publishing of fake cards for third-party distribution ultimately forced Konami to pull their contract with UDE and wrangle the game away from them through a legal shitstorm. Even more damning, this incident has apparently caused Blizzard to pull their contract with UDE for the distribution of the World of Warcraft TCG, going so far as to make an entirely new branch specifically for distributing it themselves. No word yet on how this will impact UDE's baseball and hockey card sales, but it's likely that that's going to be the only thing that'll save them from bankruptcy. To make things even more troubling, there's a corporate family civil war brewing as a direct result of the aforementioned Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG scandal.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Gav Thorpe is largely blamed for the weaknesses of the 4th-5th edition Chaos Space Marine codex for Warhammer 40,000 by taking the "less is more" approach a bit too far. His biggest offense was the removal of numerous unit options and items that were in previous Chaos Marine books, which largely homogenized what was once a diverse and varied army and prevented players from being able to run themed lists based off the current Chaos Legions. Fan response to the Chaos Marine codex was so negative that Thorpe was removed as a codex writer and transferred to GW's novel writing division. Even then Thorpe has not released any GW-related content at all.
    • The Grey Knights codex didn't quite kill Matt Ward's career, despite the hopes of large chunks of 4chan, but it led to Ward receiving vastly greater oversight while writing the Necron codex, and since the release of the sixth edition in 2012, his sole publishing credit has been for Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Meaning it may not have stopped him writing, but despite the prevalence of rumors putting him in charge of any army whose author hasn't already been confirmed, he doesn't seem to be writing 40K anymore. Warhammer Fantasy Battles fans remember Ward rather differently, as he was sent to 40k from WFB after writing the Chaos Demons codex for 7th edition... which was so incredibly broken that it forced the immediate development and release of an entirely new edition of the game in response.
    • Robin Cruddace was widely praised for his handling of the 5th edition Imperial Guard book, which saw a once joke-level army being turned into one of the strongest forces on the tabletop until he got his hands on the Tyranids... and promptly got labeled as a treadhead. It's widely considered by the fandom that Cruddace excels at balancing vehicle-based armies, but when given the Tyranids, the only army in the entire game to not use vehicles in any way or form, his only reaction was to make them bland and passable while ensuring that any real threats to vehicles in the codex were eliminated (the sole exception being the Hive Guards) by raising their prices or reducing their effectiveness. Combined with Matt Ward's "accomplishments" above, this has resulted in GW instead not naming any specific writer on any of their codexes since the 6th edition release of the Tyranids due to the internet backlash that ensues. Remember that Games Workshop is a firm that doesn't read internet feedback, which should give you an idea of how serious this is.
    • Tom Kirby, a former CEO of the company during the 5th-late 7th edition era of 40k and the last two editions of Warhammer Fantasy and the onset of Age of Sigmar, was right up there with Ward and Cruddace in terms of hatred. He infamously declared that he did not care about competitive balance and that Warhammer was suppose to be a casual game, which many took to meaning he simply did not care about rules-writing at all. It didn't help that this was the era where the rules balance took a nose dive (including the infamous "build your army as you like" unbound approach), actually following through with a bunch of legal lawsuits, price hikes, and near-draconian "laws" on the sales of their own miniatures (to this day GW is still the only manufacturer that actually ban third-party retailers from advertising their own products online). How bad did it get? The fallout from this managed to cause GW to suffer a 5% annual loss for several years in a row. It got so bad that he eventually had to step down as CEO, with Kevin Rountree replacing him. Coincidentally this change also marked a moment where very well received products (discount sets, the return of specialist games, and the re-introduction of a lot of fan favorites and the online community) came out, so it's unclear whether Rountree managed to undo much of Kirby's mistakes, or if Kirby had implemented them but was ousted before they came to light.
  • TSR, original owner and publisher of Dungeons & Dragons, was already doing poorly in the early 90s from a variety of factors, and suddenly found themselves steamrolled by the success of newcomer Wizards of the Coast and their game Magic: The Gathering. A self-serving focus on the Buck Rogers franchise (to which the CEO's family owned rights), flopped attempts to get in on the "collectible gaming" market with products like Dragon Dice, as well as a massive loss on a pile of unsold novels hit TSR with a trifecta of Creator Killers, forcing them to sell off to upstart rival Wizards.
  • Pretty much all of Decipher's card games came to end after the release of the final set of the Mega Man card game, which featured a deck so overpowered that it brought the company down with it.
  • White Wolf was purchased by Paradox Interactive in 2015, but continued to operate on its own, writing and publishing its own books, until 2018. That was when it published the 5th edition Camarilla sourcebook for Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition, where the Real Life persecution and genocide of Chechnya's LGBTQ+ population was used as set-dressing for, and held secondary to, a vampire conspiracy, and the real-life Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov (referred to as "Sultan Ramzan") was portrayed as the leader of this conspiracy, turning Chechnya into a vampire haven. The book was deemed so offensive, by both LGBTQ+ people and the government of Chechnya, that it caused an international incident, and only compounded controversies from earlier 5th edition materials that were criticized for what was seen as catering to people with alt-right leanings. It led Paradox to announce, among other things, that it would integrate White Wolf into itself with new leadership, ending White Wolf as an independent company.

  • While Cirque du Soleil's Dralion (1999) was critically well-received, it flopped badly in its original North American tour and did extensive financial damage to the company, ensuring that director Guy Caron would never get a directing job with any theater company for a long time. It took two years for Cirque to scare up enough money to put Varekai into production. Dralion eventually became a Long Runner, but only because Varekai pulled in record-breaking numbers when it launched. David Shriner's career also tanked when fresh off the heels of the hit Kooza, he wrote and directed the highly-hyped Banana Shpeel — which was intended as Cirque's first permanent show in New York City. The show was a critical and commercial disaster, annoyed audiences to no end, and caused Cirque's reputation as a whole to nosedive. This show and other weaker Cirque efforts produced over 2008-10 (Criss Angel BeLIEve, ZAIA, and Viva Elvis) were revamped and/or closed down, the next few tours (TOTEM, Michael Jackson THEIMMORTAL World Tour, and Amaluna) pulled in breathtaking numbers, and the company remains prolific.
  • Irving Caesar, veteran Broadway songwriter and comedy writer, never wrote for the stage again after his self-produced "revusical" My Dear Public, which closed out of town in 1942, restarted production the next year, finally reached New York and bombed. At least he lived more than long enough to witness the triumphant 1971 revival of No, No, Nanette, whose hit songs he wrote lyrics for.
  • Kelly (1965) became notorious as the first Broadway musical since 1930 to close on its opening night. Its failure brought an end to the career of composer Mark "Moose" Charlap, whose career after Peter Pan had been a series of flops.
  • Robert Bolt began his career with several successes: Flowering Cherry, The Tiger and the Horse and especially A Man for All Seasons were all major critical and commercial hits. His next play, Gentle Jack, was a notorious flop which convinced Bolt to focus on screenwriting. While he wrote two modestly successful plays afterward (The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew and Vivat! Vivat Regina!) and proved a successful screenwriter with flicks like Lawrence of Arabia, nothing Bolt wrote for the stage matched his earlier plays in popularity or (arguably) quality.
  • The 1967 Broadway musical How Now, Dow Jones, "based on an idea by Carolyn Leigh," ensured that no further musicals with Leigh as lyricist would ever reach Broadway, though her earlier lyrics for Peter Pan and Little Me were highly regarded. (How Now, Dow Jones did pick up a bunch of Tony nominations, but 1967 was an unusually bad year.)
  • Chicago-based theater company Redmoon, well-known in the area for putting on Mind Screwy shows produced in-house by them, shuttered in late 2015 after losing a ton of money on their Halloween shows two years in a row. The 2014 show, in particular, was a humiliation for them, as it centered around an enormous, spectacular fire display... and it just happened to be raining that particular Halloween, leading to the display fizzling in both the literal and figurative sense.
  • Antonio Salieri's operatic career, already in decline following his departure from Austria's imperial music department in 1792 following the death of Emperor Joseph II (to the point where he had only two real contemporary successes since), was finished off in 1804 by a melodramatic Singspiel set in colonial Virginia titled Die Neger, which flopped right off the bat and, along with the changing politics in Europe at the time, convinced him he no longer had the drive to continue to write operas.

    Web Comics 
  • Andrew Dobson, also known as Tom Preston, has always been a highly controversial artist for a large number of reasons, but for the most part of his career, had a significant fanbase along with a significant hatedom. Many times, he dealt with this by mocking his critics within his work. However, this did not work out for the better when he released the comic strip named BINGO, where he went into further detail about things that his haters loved to bring up. The reason this backfired horribly at him was that he brought up things that the vast majority of his fanbase was never aware of, leading to them going outside of DeviantArt for answers or to have the many critics, trolls and detractors provide the info for them. This eventually kickstarted a series of events that made Dobson lose a massive chunk of his fanbase, have dozens of parodies made against him to this day, lose a great amount of respect amongst his peers and being seen in a light comparable to that of Christine Weston Chandler according to many people. As a result, he departed from his DeviantArt site (though not deactivating it) and moving on to other stuff in 2015, though his hatedom still continues to this day.

    Web Original 
  • New media company Gawker Media, in its current state, was brought down in 2016 after getting into a disastrous tangle with Hulk Hogan and Silicon Valley tech guru Peter Thiel. After Gawker gained and posted clips of a sex tape featuring Hogan and refused to take them down, the wrestler sued the company for damages caused by the release of the clips, which included getting scrubbed from the WWE's records. Thiel, who had long despised Gawker for outing him as gay, eagerly supported Hogan's lawsuit, using his vast financial resources to pay for Hogan's legal team. Instead of trying to defend the clips as newsworthy, Gawker's legal defense was quite flippant, believing that their breach of Hogan's privacy was protected under the First Amendment. Instead, they were successfully sued for more money than they were worth (and even more than Hogan was originally asking for), resulting in the company filing for bankruptcy three weeks later. Gawker's founder, Nick Denton, later filed for bankruptcy himself after a judge ruled that Hogan could start seizing their assets after it was found that Denton lied about their stock value. The company's bankruptcy culminated in its sale to Univision, ending its era of independence, and while Univision announced that the other sites under the former Gawker Media umbrella (Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku, and Lifehacker) would survive, the company's former flagship, itself, would be shut down as a functioning news organization. As of this writing, it exists solely as an archive, its fate up in the air.
  • Blind Ferret Entertainment worked on the first season of Ctrl+Alt+Del, which proved to be a total bomb. Since then, the only thing they have made was a pilot for an Animated Adaptation of Least I Could Do.
  • A discussion of this trope in the music world can be seen in Todd in the Shadows' series Trainwreckords, which discusses albums that, for whatever reason (from poor quality to an unpopular change in sound to a Troubled Production), destroyed the careers of the musicians who made them. Several albums listed on the Music page have links to Todd's videos on them.
  • From Cracked: "6 Hit Songs That Destroyed the Bands They Made Famous."

    Western Animation 
  • While Pinky Dinky Doo was a success, it was cancelled in 2010 and Jumbo Pictures has gone dormant since. They made a block for Sprout called Musical Mornings with Coo in 2007, but that ended up failing due to low ratings. note 
  • Fleischer Studios (of Betty Boop and Popeye fame) was for a time one of the most popular animation studios in the U.S. and Disney's biggest competitor throughout the 1930s, but their attempts to follow Disney into the feature animated film market with Gulliver's Travels and Mr. Bug Goes to Town in the late 1930s/early 1940s (coupled with a move to Miami from New York around the same time) drove the studio into serious debt. After a fairly public spat between brothers Max and Dave Fleischer ended up sending the studio into disarray, their distributor Paramount responded by purchasing the studio in 1942 and firing the brothers, reorganizing and renaming it Famous Studios. Although they had some success with Casper the Friendly Ghost and the Superman Theatrical Cartoons in the 1940s, Paramount could never recreate the pre-Gulliver's Travels level of success that the studio had in the 1930s, and it was ultimately shut down in 1967 after Paramount themselves were purchased by Gulf+Western.
  • If the abrupt cancellation of Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon", coupled with him being infamously very hard to work with, wasn't enough to prevent John Kricfalusi from being able to sell another show (not that it's stopped him from trying) and thus have him solely work on smaller projects (such as a Couch Gag for The Simpsons in which the family is shown in John K.'s bizarre style, as well as artwork for Miley Cyrus' 2013-14 Bangerz tour), then the accusations of him grooming teenage girls in the 1990s that appeared in late March 2018 (followed by harassment claims by several women who had worked on APC) effectively sealed his fate. After that, there was the issue of Cans Without Labels and its very, very Troubled Production. It was funded on Kickstarter in mid-2012 with an estimated release of February 2013, but that time quickly passed...and continue to pass with radio silence. It was later announced to be finished in 2017, but backers wouldn't be able to get it until May 2019. As for the film itself? Widely panned as mediocre at best with ugly animation, being poorly-paced, and a general amatuerish dumpster fire that sunk his career back into the ground, presumably where it'll stay this time due to the lack of lifelines he has remaining. To underscore how far he has fallen from grace, the 2020 announcement of a The Ren & Stimpy Show reboot made a point of stating that Kricfalusi would have no involvement with it or receive any profits from it.
  • Relatedly, the one-two-three punch of Adult Party Cartoon, Gary the Rat, and Stripperella resulted in Spike TV giving up on any semblance of an animation block less than a year into its existence. (Stripperella was brought down mainly due to a lawsuit filed against a stripper who claimed that Stan Lee stole the show's idea from her; unlike the other two shows, it was fairly well-received by critics and fans and became enough of a Cult Classic to warrant a DVD release.)
  • The failure of Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain and, to a lesser extent, Histeria! and Road Rovers ended the Steven Spielberg presents series of cartoons and also caused many of the writers and producers (like Tom Ruegger, Sherri Stoner, and Paul Rugg) to not get any work for at least a few years, with Rugg later focusing exclusively on voice acting.
  • Though John A. Davis and Keith Alcorn's DNA Productions (who produced Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and its subsequent television series as well as Olive, the Other Reindeer) did suffer from The Ant Bully becoming a box office disappointment, it was actually a lawsuit filed by Steve Oedekerk's O Entertainment/Omation Animation Studios (who co-produced Jimmy Neutron with them) that was the direct cause of the company's closure. After finishing the successful animated series Back at the Barnyard, Omation's next animated series was the Jimmy Neutron spin-off Planet Sheen, which got extremely negative reviews from critics and fans who called it nonsensical, stupid, and very loosely connected to its parent show. As such, it only lasted for one season with a total of 26 episodes. Since its cancellation, Omation and its parent company have remained dormant.
  • Nickelodeon's derailment of the company's flagship Rugrats series due to a contractual dispute with Klasky-Csupo, and the box office flop of Rugrats Go Wild!, pushed many K-C employees out of work, and from 2006 up until 2012, nothing was heard from the company, as Gabor Csupo wanted to pursue other projects. While the company is up and running again, they're a shell of what they used to be.
  • Canadian animation studio Cinar went out of business in 2004 after a financial scandal and a plagiarism lawsuit (Robinson Sucroe). The company later resurfaced as Cookie Jar Entertainment and killed themselves again with the massive hatedoms towards Caillou and Johnny Test. Once Test finished its run in 2013, Cookie Jar was absorbed into DHX Media, with only Arthur escaping from DHX's clutch.
  • Bruce W. Smith's Jambalaya Studio company hasn't produced another animated series since the failure of Da Boom Crew. After The Proud Family completed its run with a Big Damn Movie, the company seems to have gone defunct.
  • Wolf Tracer Studios only made two movies-Rapsittie Street Kids: Believe in Santa and Wolf Tracer's Dinosaur Island. However, despite coming first, Rapsittie Street Kids Believe In Santa pretty much killed any chance of the studio producing another major project. When it was in production, the special was planned to have a sequel and a soundtrack with songs by Whitney Houston. It also attracted a high-profile voice cast, including Mark Hamill, Nancy Cartwright, Jodi Benson, and Paige O'Hara, and got the privilege on airing on The WB network. However, after receiving dismal ratings and being criticized for its animation quality and story, the sequel was never produced and the soundtrack was never made. The special has never re-aired on television after 2002 and hasn't been released on home video; resulting in the special being impossible to find for the next 13 years. The next —and final— project did not have any major release, with a returning Mark Hamill being the only high profile actor the studio was able to obtain.
  • ABS-CBN Animation's first TV series, The Nutshack, proved to be their last as the show's failure with critics and audiences caused them to shift focus towards licensing anime titles for Myx TV. The same goes for the cast and crew, as none of them have done anything noteworthy following its cancellation, with the exception of co-creator Jesse Hernandez and theme composer NUMP. In fact, a few of them ended up quitting the TV industry to pursue other careers.
  • Despite The Real Ghostbusters' success, ABC felt the need to hire a child psychologists group called Q5 to help oversee the production of the second ABC season. (The syndicated season did not have such requirements.) It was during this time when the writers realized the group had absolutely no evidence to back their research as their changes for the show were either hypocritical, nonsensical, or seen as downright insulting by crew members. Needless to say, the ratings dropped afterward and Q5 was reportedly never hired again by any studio. See Phelous's review here for more information about the topic.
  • The critical and commercial failure of Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil led to the quiet demise of Maurice Kanbar's production company, Kanbar Entertainment, as they have not attempted another project since. Kanbar himself has since stuck to his normal careers as an entrepreneur and inventor.
  • This happened in two different ways for World Events Productions following the disappointment of Voltron: The Third Dimension.
    • The studio's only other projects since Third Dimension's failure were two In Name Only credits for Voltron Force and Legendary Defender; as WEP licensed the franchise to Classic Media in 2010 before they were bought out and re-branded by Dreamworks Animation prior to the Latter's debut. WEP's website, while still running as of this article's posting, hasn't been updated since 2012 due to Dreamworks shifting focus towards the Voltron website.
    • WEP co-founder and Voltron creator Peter Keefe's only other noteworthy creative position after Third Dimension was for the TV special Nine Dog Christmas in 2003. He spent the rest of his life as an adviser and licensing consultant for numerous media companies like Toon Farm Animation and Zen Entertainment before his death from throat cancer in 2010; which occurred while he was attempting a comeback with a proposed animated series based on the ancient Oriental Zodiac called "Z-Force".
  • Sinbad Jr. and his Magic Belt destroyed Sam Singer's animation studio, Trans-Artist Productions, before the show even premiered. American International Pictures' TV division was reportedly unhappy with the show's poor quality under Singer's direction during pre-production with the quality behind Singer's previous shows doing nothing to comfort them and, in a last ditch effort to salvage it, booted Trans-Artist from the series and handed development over to a small, up-and-coming studio who turned the show into a hit. Singer would try his hand in animation one last time as the animation director behind the 1975 adaptation of Tubby the Tuba; which he was fired from during production for butting heads with the producer too many times.
  • The one-two punch of the cancellations of Gary and Mike and The PJs in 2001 (with the former having premiered earlier that year) sent Will Vinton Studios, once renowned for its various stop-motion and "Claymation" projects, into a tailspin. The company behind the California Raisins ended up collapsing and selling its assets, and its remains were eventually reformed as Laika LLC in 2005. Vinton tried his hand at another company, Will Vinton's Freewill Studios, around the same time, but despite having a number of projects in the can the company went nowhere, and Vinton retired to Portland, Oregon in 2008, where he lived until his death on October 4, 2018.
  • Despite lasting for two seasons with positive reception, Skysurfer Strike Force wasn't the success that Ruby-Spears needed to keep themselves afloat from the financial problems stemming from their departure from Taft Broadcasting in 1991.note  Ruby Spears would end up closing their doors in 1996 shortly after Skysurfer's cancellation.
  • The critical and ratings failure of Sit Down, Shut Up and the cancellation of The Spectacular Spider Man ended up being the final two blows to Sony Pictures Television's animation division, Adelaide Productions, as they wouldn't produce anything afterwards beyond the final two seasons of The Boondocks and became dormant after that. Further signifying its death was the announcement of Sony Pictures Animation's plans to enter the television market with their mature-oriented Alternative division, with one of the projects in its slate being a Boondocks reboot. Notably, Hotel Transylvania: The Series only ended up with Sony as a distributor with Nelvana producing the animation instead.

  • Regal Cinemas was forced into bankruptcy by its FunScape arcade unit, which lasted only three years in seven theatres before closing too late to prevent Regal from making a trip to the bankruptcy courts. Only after combining its assets with those of United Artists Theatres and Edwards Theatres would Regal rebound and become one of the Big Four cinema chains as Regal Entertainment Group.

Food and Drink Companies

  • Ample Hills Creamery, a fast-growing New York-based ice cream company seeking to keep up with demand, opened a 15,000-square-foot factory in the middle of Brooklyn in 2018. That factory turned out to be a massive boondoggle that doomed the company, culminating in its bankruptcy in 2020 and its founders having to sell their stake in order for it to stay afloat.


  • From its founding in 1924 through The '40s, The American Mercury was one of the US' premier literary magazines and conservative outlets. Unfortunately, in 1952 it was sold to Russell Maguire, owner of the Auto-Ordnance Company (makers of the famed Thompson submachine gun) — and a virulent anti-Semite. He spent The '50s steering the Mercury away from the upper-class conservatism of H. L. Mencken and, as National Review publisher William A. Rusher put it, "toward the fever swamp of anti-Semitism" and the pro-fascist far-right, including hiring future American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell as a writer. This destroyed the Mercury's reputation and saw it spiral into collapse; by The '60s, when ownership fell to a revolving door of neo-fascist groups, it was a quarterly publication with a circulation of only seven thousand people. While it kept limping along until 1981, Maguire's editorial shift ended its status as a mainstream publication long before then.


  • The Danish publisher Westermann produced a deluxe two-volume set of Vore gamle tropekolonier (Our old tropical colonies), a historical work on Danish colonial history, in 1952-53. The edition was absolutely top-notch quality for its time, but unfortunately, it was so expensive that sales were extremely disappointing, ultimately causing the publisher to go under.
  • The British publisher Dorling Kindersley became massively successful in the nineties with their distinctive style of heavily-illustrated but genuinely informative popular non-fiction works. Unfortunately, in 1999 they massively over-estimated the demand for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Universe Compendium works. Thousands of unsold books were returned by major bookstores and clogged discount remainder outlets for months, and while the company still operates to this day, they were taken over by Pearson shortly after the fiasco.

Retail Companies

  • Can an entire company be killed off by a commercial? If so, Just for Feet certainly fits the bill. In 1999, the fast-growing shoe retailer produced an ad for the Super Bowl, which depicted hunters driving a Humvee in the African desert...who turned out to be targeting a barefoot Kenyan runner. The hunters give the runner a cup of drugged water and then put a pair of shoes on his feet while he's unconscious. It made their name more noticed, alright; the company was massively criticized for the ad's racist undertones, and its failure put a giant fork in the road for their future. The next year, the company filed for bankruptcy before subsequently collapsing.

Sound Systems

  • Hook caused the downfall of Cinema Digital Sound during post-production. Steven Spielberg was initially enthusiastic about the system, but a series of failures on the test reels encoded for him caused him to change his mind, and hearing such a prominent voice in the industry disown CDS prompted everyone else to stay away in droves, ultimately dooming the first ever digital sound system before the second one, Dolby Stereo Digital, even made it to the big screen.


  • The switch to a new layout is genuinely agreed to be what killed [adult swim]'s forums in November 2016. It was derided as being a much worse clone of Reddit that also caused over twelve years' worth of content to fall by the wayside. Users and curious visitors left the site in droves, and the switch caused its shutdown in less than a year. Some people think that this was an intentional move to destroy the forums, since it had long been regarded as a cesspool of Internet hatred, with angry anime fans going after people who liked [as]' live-action programming, and home to a bunch of trolls in general. They changed the layout into something awful so the diehard users would leave, and eventually, there would be nobody left to care about it.


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