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Demand Overload

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On that day, millions of Diablo fans developed a fear of the number 37.
"Our servers are experiencing issues. Please come back later."

When the latest update to an online something-or-other is released, sometimes so many people crowd in to view it that the website crashes. That, ladies and gentlemen, is an example of a Demand Overload: an update or issue so awesome it's directly responsible for crashing the host website.

This trope also applies to other forms of media; for example, a product selling out so quickly it can't be kept on the shelves. The technical term for when demand hugely overwhelms supply is backordered.

A Demand Overload can happen due to a number of reasons. It may be due to popularity caused by positive word-of-mouth or a good marketing campaign. But, especially in the age of social media, another common way to cause one is when a famous personality gives a Colbert Bump to a site that cannot handle the sudden and large increase in traffic the new publicity brings with it. A popular website like Reddit posting a link to a smaller, relatively unknown site can also cause a similar effect, known as the Slashdot effect. With physical items, the problem can come from scalpers who buy up the product to resell at a markup, in addition to the regular demand from customers who actually want the product.note 

Contrast Acclaimed Flop. Depending on how you look at it, can be a subtrope of Gone Horribly Right.


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Crashed due to popularity

    Anime & Manga 
  • This used to happen more frequently on Twitter in its first several years because of Japan's big userbase; even now anime topics sometimes surge high there as trending tags.
  • During the 2013 airing of Castle in the Sky on NTV, Twitter crashed when fans tried to post the word "Balse!" at the same time it was said in the movie. Similarly, Twitter experienced high demand levels when NTV broadcast My Neighbor Totoro on August 14, 2020.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: When the first chapter of The JoJoLands was released, several scanlation websites and the JoJo Wiki crashed after being published.
  • The release of episodes 109, 110, and 130 of Dragon Ball Super crashed Crunchyroll's website. All three of these episodes, perhaps unsurprisingly, have Goku using Ultra Instinct and fighting Jiren.
  • This also happened to Crunchyroll when episode 87 of Black Clover was released.
  • Pretty Cure:
    • When the Toei Animation website for Star★Twinkle Pretty Cure opened up, the Toei Animation site for the series crashed from people trying to see the info about the new series.
    • The airing of the 11th episode of Healin' Good♡Pretty Cure, which features the Cures performing a new trio finisher, caused Twitter to crash during the scene said moment happened.
  • When the Grand Finale of Yuri!!! on Ice's first season came out, the servers for anime streaming sites, Tumblr, and Crunchyroll crashed.
  • The release of the trailer for the last season of Attack on Titan crashed Twitter for two hours. And then the actual premiere of the last season caused several sites that the show was being hosted on, including Crunchyroll, to crash.
  • The premiere of the Chainsaw Man anime crashed Crunchyroll.

    Films - Animated 
  • When the trailer for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run came out, YouTube went down for three minutes.
  • Turning Red: Some people who tried to watch the film on Disney+ on its release date were greeted with error messages as a result of too many people trying to watch it at once.

    Films - Live-Action 
  • Happened twice (as of this writing) with the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Ticket pre-sales for Avengers: Endgame caused multiple ticket sites to either crash or slow down. To give a perspective on this, the film was able to claim the highest box office pre-sales record in six hours.
    • Minutes after tickets for Spider-Man: No Way Home went on sale on "Spider-Monday" (November 29, 2021), multiple major movie chains and ticket distributors were completely overwhelmed, with queue lines lasting hours on a scale not seen since Avengers: Endgame. This is particularly impressive considering the fact that the COVID-19 Pandemic that took a huge toll on the film industry was still a very notable threat dampening overall box office sales, especially with the rise of the more contagious Omicron variant at the time.
  • After the announcement trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker went live, Twitter crashed for a few minutes.
    • The release of the first real trailer for the movie also caused several sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even AT&T's own cell service, to crash for a few minutes from too many people trying to watch it.
      • A similar "cell service went down" crash occurred when Shane Dawson posted a video apologizing for activities he had done in the past, but with AT&T's cell service.
  • A partial Twitter trailer example: The release of the first trailer for Jungle Cruise on March 10, 2020 along with people commemorating the 9th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, as the timing just so happened to be when it struck midnight on March 11th in Japan, caused the site to go down for 5 minutes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This happened to STV (the Scottish version of ITV, the United Kingdom's main commercial television network) when it failed to anticipate the demand for the livestream of a debate about the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence after ITV itself decided not to show it outside Scotland itself. The servers couldn't cope with the demand from English, Welsh and Northern Irish viewers who understandably wished to see a debate that could help decide whether Scotland leaves the United Kingdom. STV were heavily criticized for failing to anticipate the demand and criticism intensified after it was learned that both the BBC (the United Kingdom's public service broadcaster) and Sky (the United Kingdom's largest satellite/cable broadcaster) had offered to simulcast the debate so everyone else in the UK could see it only to be turned down by STV who wished to retain exclusive broadcast rights. Some wags suggested the failure of STV to manage the situation well was an harbinger of how Scotland would fare if it left the United Kingdom.
  • After Luke Cage (2016) went live on Netflix, there was so much demand for the series that the site crashed, Netflix responded with a few humorous, Luke Cage related tweets while they worked to get their servers back up and running.
  • Season 7 of Game of Thrones led to HBO Now failing for half the opener, and the Latin American arm of HBO Go (which is not simulcast, but an on demand service that would thus only get the episode after the broadcast was over!) also crashed.
  • Hulu crashed when the second episode of Live in Front of a Studio Audience and the second season of Killing Eve were added. It's justified for the former show creating so much demand, as the original broadcast was interrupted for breaking news, and fans of the shows featured in that special presumably wanted to watch it a second time without interruptions.
  • Disney+ crashed for 10 minutes on February 19, 2021, due to too many people trying to watch the seventh episode of WandaVision as well as The Muppet Show, which had been recently added to the service after years of Keep Circulating the Tapes. The same thing happened again during the premieres of WandaVision's eighth and ninth episodes.

  • Jean-Michel Jarre's 2004 double concert in Beijing was his first to be transmitted via Web stream. The Chinese TV company set up several servers for this purpose. Unfortunately, they underestimated the legions of Jarre fans around the world who wanted to watch the concerts...
  • Any news related to BTS tends to cause websites to crash due to the group's immense popularity and their huge overlap with social media users. For example, when concert tickets went on sale for their Love Yourself tour, the official website went down from too many fans trying to buy tickets. Another notable incident involved Twitter nearly crashing when the group appeared at the Billboard Music Awards. At one point they even tried to crash Twitter with this photo, which didn't happen at all.
    • This popularity is also mentioned in the segment of their Bring The Soul movie that uses "Anpanman" as background music. The person who took their picture mentions that Twitter has high demand because of people anticipating their appearance at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards, which is when said part of the film takes place.
  • The first two editions of Lollapalooza Brazil had people struggling to buy tickets once the sales begun given the website crashed repeatedly while they waited for their turn.
  • The ticket sales for Harry Styles' first tour in 2020 were so high in demand that it caused Ticketmaster and Facebook to go down, the latter of which happened because fans stormed to complain about the former.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • While most promotions had problems when Internet pay per view became the hot new thing, few had as many as Ring of Honor in 2012, where several pay per views froze, lost audio synch, slowed down or crashed because too many people were viewing them at once. After prompting Sinclair for more money (so they could settle the issue), Sinclair decided to shoot a show just prove it could now handle the traffic. Unfortunately, they decided to give away the show for free, which led to an even larger number of viewers and another crash.
  • Inverted with the unsubscribe feature of the WWE Network, which stopped working after the 2015 Royal Rumble because too many people were trying to unsubscribe from the network due to the event naming match angering people so much.
  • EVOLVE's website crashed when it announced Sami Zayn was returning to the promotion in October, with hype dying away when people learned he wasn't working in any capacity, he was just sitting in the audience. In fact, WWE only let him attend on the promise he would not show up on camera during the event.

    Video Games 
  • Diablo III had a disastrous launch on May 15, 2012. This was due to the game having an always-online requirement, even when playing single-player. As such, when people who purchased the game on day one tried to play it, most people couldn't do so because of the required internet connection and the servers being full of new players. The most common login error, Error 37, became a trending topic on Twitter, and it's still a meme within the Diablo fandom. This got an Author's Saving Throw when the Reaper of Souls DLC was launched in March 2014; the servers were upgraded en masse to the point that there were no login issues at all to avoid the same thing from happening again.
  • Browser game Flight Rising launched in 2013 expecting a small userbase, and was immediately flooded with thousands of new users upon the site being opened to the public. This proved to be far too much for the servers to bear, and the site would frequently crash during any high-traffic period following the site opening, particularly after content updates. It's for this reason that registration was closed soon after launch, with registration only opening a few times per year until it was finally opened permanently in 2018.
  • Katawa Shoujo's download server went down within seconds of release. Fortunately, the developers thought ahead and prepared torrent files.
  • The 2013 SimCity is best known for its server crash at release that prevented the game from being played. Although in this case it was because of poor server design. It's gone down in history as a massive failure of a publisher to anticipate user needs, rather than an unexpected rush on established bandwidth service. Like Diablo III, a constant connection to the server was a requirement, even in single-player. The backlash was exacerbated by the traditionally single-player only game moving to an always-online format.
  • When crowdsourcing opened for Star Citizen in October 2012, the custom-built website collapsed under the server load, costing Chris Roberts' project the early momentum. After they got the site working again a couple days later, they added a Kickstarter to make up for lost time.
  • Fanmade tributes to Super Smash Bros. are particularly prone to this, as the servers are usually managed out of pocket and are not built to handle a large amount of demand.
    • The Project M 3.0 update release kept suffering server crashes due to not only impatient fans, but large amounts of passionately casual Super Smash Bros. Brawl players attempting to purposely DDoS the release. Said server crashes interrupted and cancelled the upload multiple times. The initial download eventually had to be mirrored to file hosting site Mediafire so it could have a chance to be released at all until the initial hype relaxed enough to get the site stabilized.
    • Super Smash Flash 2 has suffered from this on numerous occasions on every major demo release stretching back to at least 0.7. The fact that it's prone to Schedule Slip anyway doesn't help.
  • The launch of World of Warcraft’s fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor, was plagued by unstable servers, latency issues and massive login queues. There were several causes for this, but the primary one was the huge numbers of people trying to log in at the same time and bottlenecking in the same zone. In the words of a Community Manager:
    We obviously expected an increase in logins, and prepared for well above what we were expecting. The actual amount is far above even that.
  • Xbox Live tends to experience horrific server load, and some years outright outages that last for days, around Christmas time, as millions of people find new consoles under their trees and connect them to the online service for the first time all at once.
  • Final Fantasy XIV when it was relaunched in 2.0 had suffered massive congestion from everyone trying to log in to play the game. The problem persisted for weeks and it got so bad that Square-Enix disabled the ability to buy a digital copy of the game and had to optimize the servers to handle the huge loads of players. Square apologized and gave everyone one free week of game time. While they managed to make the launch of the Heavensward expansion relatively painless, the launch of Stormblood nearly mirrored the chaotic shenanigans of 2.0's launch where players either lagged/disconnected or couldn't progress in the main story because a solo battle related to it couldn't be started due to the instanced servers being overwhelmed.
    • XIV also had a massive flood of players in mid-2021. Not only was there general hype for the upcoming Endwalker expansion, a large influx of World of Warcraft players and streamers flocked towards the game following both Shadowlands' controversial post-launch patch and the sexual harassment scandals being revealed at Activision-Blizzard around the same time that resulted in players boycotting the company's products in general. This also happened during their longest free login campaign yetnote . All this resulted in servers getting absolutely overloaded, with reports of wait times as long as 6-7 hours on a weekend. In response, Square-Enix had to once again stop selling digital copies of the game and turn on AFK-logout systems, along with an official statement apologizing for being unable to meet such a huge influx of demand.
    • And as many people predicted — including Square-Enix themselves, who were trying to buy new hardware but couldn't — server load was at its worst ever after Endwalker was released, with everyone having to wait hours to log in behind thousands of other players, only for most of them to crash mid-queue and lose progress. Queue congestion was so bad that Square-Enix not only had to suspend all sales and new account registrations, they also pulled advertisements for the game and gave everyone three whole weeks of subscription time to compensate.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • When the Ryu DLC for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U was released, the Nintendo eShop ended up crashing.
    • On Christmas Day, 2018, so many people tried to download Super Smash Bros. Ultimate at once that many reported having to wait up to 6 hours before the download finished.
    • Double subverted when people tried to download Joker: initially, the Nintendo servers weren't dying from everyone trying to get Joker all at the same time, but from server maintenance that was scheduled right as the update went live. But as soon server maintenance ended (10 pm EDT), the server outage issues came out in full force with only a handful of lucky people managing to download the update just as the scheduled maintenance came to an end.
    • The Nintendo Direct on March 26th, 2020, which revealed the addition of a character from ARMS (later revealed to be Min Min) to Smash Bros Ultimate, was watched by so many people that it wound up crashing YouTube.
    • The announcement of Steve/Alex on October 1st, 2020 caused such an intense reaction that it crashed Twitter for several minutes.
  • Pokémon GO was so stupendously high-demand that millions of players found themselves facing a server overload error message way more than they would actually play the game for the first day or two, even though the game was only available in select territories at launch (see the quote at the top of this page). The same happened when Niantic had the brilliant idea to release the game in 26 countries at once.
  • When Pokémon Bank initially launched in Japan on Christmas 2013 (itself not the best decision on Nintendo's part), Nintendo's 3DS eShop servers got completely crippled (to the point that the entire shop was down for four days) by the larger number of people creating Nintendo Network IDs, which in turn caused Bank to be temporarily pulled from the Japanese eShop, and its release in other regions to be delayed over a month.
  • Arcaea ended up being an unexpected hit at launch, causing the servers to undergo maintenance and thus preventing players from creating accounts or purchasing additional songs until the issue was fixed.
  • When Splatoon 2 was released on the Nintendo Switch's eShop, it became temporarily unavailable due to so many people trying to download it at once.
    • While the eShop itself remained stable thanks to a majority of players pre-ordering the expansion pack, the release of the game's Octo Expansion DLC caused Nintendo's distribution servers to slow to a crawl, resulting in even speedy connections taking hours to download the content.
  • This has happened to Fate/Grand Order a few times due to the timed nature of events and rerollers and account sellers trying to get the new Servants as quickly as possible, with the most infamous occurrence being the Halloween 2015 event as the timed battles for event currency, everyone trying to log on to play the event as fast as possible combined with the heavily hyped Tamamo gacha crashed the game within an hour. To prevent this, DelightWorks has been cracking down on rerollers and account sellers and post-the Fate/Zero crossover, the game's managed to avoid these problems, though during particularly popular or intense events the game can sometimes have intermittent connection issues as the now-gargantuan userbase DDoSes the servers and their ISP by fiat; Summer 2017 was a good example of this. This currently only applies to the Japanese version as the Chinese, Taiwanese, and American versions have all displayed a lot more stability, if only because they have fewer players on their servers and the Japanese version tends to be used as the "measuring-stick" for what precautions should be taken with the other ones.
  • After the music video for the instrumental version of the opening theme for Sakura Wars (2019) was uploaded on YouTube, fan demand caused the link to crash for a few minutes.
  • Famously, the first Pong machine set up in public stopped working a few days thereafter, due to being clogged with coins.
  • The sheer hype for Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord meant that when the game was finally released on Steam on 31 March 2020, Steam, already having demand problems due to COVID-19 making people stay at home and play more games, had its Shopping Cart crash due to the sheer amount of people trying to buy Bannerlord.
  • Ninjala's Open Beta ended up getting so much traffic on its first day that most people could barely even play without getting some kind of error message. It got so bad that GungHo had to take the servers down for emergency maintenance. Three times.
  • When the Epic Games Store offered Grand Theft Auto V for free for a week starting on May 14th, 2020, their website quickly crashed due to sheer demand. Additionally, the email verification sending servers crashed the following day, which caused many to be unable to even play it due to requiring a Rockstar Social Club account to do so, which in turn requires a verified email.
  • When it went free-to-play in July 2020, it became very difficult to find a match of Fantasy Strike, let alone play through one, without being disconnected due to the large number of new players. The issues were fixed two days later.
  • Shortly after Eiyuden Chronicle Hundred Heroes' crowdfunding campaign was launched on Kickstarter, it became so popular that the site suffered a 20-30 minute outage due to the sheer number of people pledging to the campaign at once.
  • Matchmaking for Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout had to be shut down for several hours so the servers could be improved after releasing on PlayStation 4. The devs apparently didn't foresee how big the impact having the game be one of the free PS Plus titles would be.
  • The release of the Geofront Fan Translation patch of The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero caused the website's server to completely implode under the stress.
  • Brawl Stars: On December 19, 2020 the game's servers went down for about three hours because the Brawliday gift of the day was the then-new epic brawler Edgar. The servers could have survived a little bit longer after Edgar's release if it weren't for the fact that him being free had already been revealed during Brawl Talk.
  • Friday Night Funkin': Week 7, featuring Newgrounds' mascot, Tankman, was initially released exclusively to the site; the influx of people from this was so large it crashed the site. After the site went back up, Friday Night Funkin's page was temporarily disabled for two days to make sure the servers would stay up due to people flocking into the same page.
  • On May 8th, 2021, the Geometry Dash servers went down for a few hours as a result of the game having its highest concurrent player count ever on Steam.
  • Hitman 3 had server issues at launch, due to IOI underestimating the demand, especially since many players were trying to carry over their progress from Hitman 2.
  • On August 9th, 2021, the original download link on the main website for Your Boyfriend was broken due to heavy traffic as the fanbase exploded.
  • On July 7th, 2022, the Steam servers went down for a couple hours after Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series was released as a result of high demand.
  • The Bay 12 Forums utterly collapsed once the Steam release for Dwarf Fortress came out, thanks to the ridiculous influx of new people and their posts. It took over two days for the forums to be available again.
  • In the first few days of the release of Love Live! School idol festival 2 MIRACLE LIVE!, fans reported that the app would commonly crash or not load due to demand from people who wanted to play the game.

    Web Comics 
  • The creators of Girl Genius did it to themselves, and it takes a bit of explaining. Basically, it started off as a print comic, and when the Foglios turned it into a webcomic, they had two different archives updating at the same time: the "101 archive" where they digitized the original print run, and the "advanced class archive", where they continued the story where the print run left off. In July 2007, the 101 archive caught up with the beginning of the advanced class archive. The volume of readers archive binging the advanced archive was enough to crash the comic's server.
  • Homestuck has "brought down the house" on several occasions, particularly with its Flash updates.
    • [S] Cascade, the finale of Act 5, is the definite record-holder so far. It was hosted on Newgrounds of all websites— and the traffic crashed the site in about three minutes. Someone proceeded to put the flash on Livestream so people could view it, but that site also crashed. People tried to post it on Tumblr, but that site crashed very quickly.
      @andrewhussie: well, that didn't work
    • There was plenty of concern among fans that [S] Collide and [S] Act 7, the series Grand Finale, would do this to an even greater extent. Hussie averted any problems by hosting the "flash animations" on YouTube, which is far more capable of handling that kind of load.
    • And even that wasn't the end of it, as the fandom managed to crash Google Drive streaming on the day of the Epilogues release in 2019.
  • The Order of the Stick's website used to slow to a halt whenever a new comic was posted, though this was mostly because of all the people hitting the forums.
  • The first page of Jeph Jacques' new comic killed the servers for both his original comic, Questionable Content, and the new one.
  • The last page of Pascalle Lepas' webcomic Zap! killed the servers for it.

    Western Animation 
  • The Owl House: When the second season premiere was added to Disney NOW, the service displayed error messages as a result of too many people trying to watch it.
  • Steven Universe is the king of this trope as far as animated shows go. Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr will usually crash when any major piece of news pertaining to the show is announced:
    • When new episodes of Steven Universe for the fourth Steven Bomb was announced, the site that revealed it was immediately overloaded by fans and its servers crashed. One of the show's former producers made a post leading to a different article so others can view the news.
    • On October 30th, 2017, when it was announced that Steven Universe would be coming back (on the CN App) on November 10th, Tumblr's servers crashed from too many excited fans.
    • It also happened when Steven Universe: The Movie was announced at the show's 2018 San Diego Comic-Con panel, with both Twitter and Tumblr experiencing temporary downtime as a result of fans posting their reactions to the news.

  • Ever wonder why power outages occur during heatwaves? These events are usually a result of too many people at once trying to use their air conditioners or other similar equipment during such hot weather. Therefore, the electric system crashes from not being able to keep up with such demand.

Crashed due to a Colbert Bump / the Slashdot effect

    Professional Wrestling 
  • After All Elite Wrestling gave the link to their Internet store during the Brodie Lee Tribute Show and showed the shirt they were selling as a fundraiser for Brodie's family, the webstore crashed from the influx of shoppers and ran slowly for the rest of the night. Fittingly, the shirt was the webstore's top seller, breaking the record recently set by Sting's new AEW shirt. The shirt was released within two days of the end of 2020; within those two days, it became the best-selling shirt of the entire year.

    Video Games 
  • Among Us had a massive surge of new players after being referenced in the Henry Stickmin Series, the amount of players joining caused the servers to reach its capacity, preventing players from joining or creating new games. Originally the creators decided to make a sequel to overcome this before deciding to stay with the original for better servers and new content.
  • Anything Notch tweets. Seriously, that man is a walking DDoS waiting to happen.

  • On some parts of Twitter it's called #neilwebfail, because it'll happen to any site Neil Gaiman says you should look at. Stephen Fry can have the same effect. Indeed, Stephen Fry said in an interview that he warns people when they ask him to push their website, as most such sites are unable to handle the traffic his mentioning would bring.
  • During the 2014 Oscars, Ellen DeGeneres took a picture with several other celebs and posted it on Twitter, while urging viewers to make it the most retweeted photo of all time. Sure enough, the pic was retweeted over 3 million times and within half an hour Twitter crashed.
  • At one point The Cynical Brit tweeted his Star Trek Online build from the STO Academy fansite. The website crashed under the load shortly afterward.
  • Multiple entrepreneurs who have appeared on Dragons' Den/Shark Tank have mentioned that demand for their product spiked after getting exposure on the show. A few unprepared or unlucky ones have had their website crash on them thanks to this.
  • Proving this isn't new on the internet, once Howard Stern surfed live in 1996 during his radio show, traffic spiked so much the site spent days off the air.
    • Coast to Coast AM had this effect as well in the early days of the Internet. As both Art Bell and a good number of his listeners were early adopters, any time a guest gave out his website, the demand overload would often cause the site to either slow down to a crawl or crash entirely. This continued until the mid-2000s, when most sites could handle the attention.

  • When Red plugged Aurora (2019) in this video the amount of internet traffic it generated was enough to crash the site.
  • It was not uncommon for any site linked to by Penny Arcade to go down due to the massive number of fans the comic has checking the link out. The site calling it "wanging the server".
    • Quote:
      Tycho: Putting up a link is actually considered a hostile act by some comics. The bandwidth drain our readership - well, you, I guess - can place on a site is almost indistinguishable (at first) from a Denial Of Service attack.
    • Back in the fall of 2010, before Minecraft became a huge pop culture juggernaut, Penny Arcade made a two-part strip about Gabe playing the game, and linked to the game's website in the news post. Thousands of readers proceeded to bombard the site. Even after traffic died down a bit, the authorization servers were completely nuked, so Notch declared it a free weekend just to avoid processing so many logins.

Physical copy ran out of stock

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (Boom! Studios) had its #25th issue released as the first part of the majorly hyped Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Shattered Grid storyline. Once it came out that the issue ended with the death of Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger, copies of this comic disappeared. This was followed by copies of its sister title Go Go Power Rangers #8 and the following issue of MMPR #26.
  • Venom #35/LGY #200 had such a demand that the printers literally ran out of paper. The title had to be pushed back a week.

  • Fan Conventions, particularly the larger ones, often outgrow their venues, resulting in having to move to larger venues to keep up with demand or limit how many attendees can be in the venue at any one time. San Diego Comic-Con has had this issue for decades, resulting in a cap on how many tickets can be sold, while Anime Expo started having to enforce building maximum occupancies in 2013. Both conventions use the largest possible venues in California (the San Diego Convention Center for SDCC and the Los Angeles Convention Center for AX).
  • Touhou Project's dedicated convention Reitaisai was started because Touhou circles were crowding out everyone else at Comiket.

    Food and Drinks 
  • When McDonald's had a one-day event in October 2017 where they gave away Szechuan Sauce at select locations to ride on Rick and Morty making it The Red Stapler, fans of the show visited participating locations, with many leaving empty-handed as McDonald's did not have enough sauce for the amount of people who turned up. This lead to fans protesting and, in a few cases, the police being called.
  • When a re-release of New Coke was announced on the Coca Cola website, fans of Stranger Things crashed the Coke webstore trying to pre-order the drink. Pre-orders were put on halt as a result, but they returned a few days later.
  • Popeye's chicken sandwich became an instant hit, to the point where it was common for stores to run out of chicken sandwiches before they close for the day. The demand was so serious that someone got fatally stabbed over it.
  • In January of 2022, a popcorn bucket of Figment from Journey into Imagination would be sold exclusively at Epcot. For a multitude of reasons ranging from product scalpers to clueless tourist mentality, the line to receive one of these on release day was over 7 hours long!
  • The opening of the MrBeast Burger Restaurant in America Dream mall caused many people to visit the mall, just to see Mr. Beast in person and buy a burger from it, with over 10,000 people waiting in the queue!

  • This happened twice to Nirvana. The first was when Nevermind became an unexpected success and sold out due to Geffen Records underestimating demand. Copies of Nirvana's albums also sold out after Kurt Cobain died.
  • Pink Floyd: Thanks to how hotly-anticipated it was after the massively-successful The Dark Side of the Moon, demand for Wish You Were Here was so high (attracting 250,000 preorders in the UK alone) that EMI could only fulfil around half of retailers' order requests. The album ultimately became Pink Floyd's fastest-selling release.
  • Woodstock was provisioned for less than 50,000, but they sold 100,000 tickets. Then 400,000 more people showed up. The promoters begged the locals to make sandwiches so the concertgoers wouldn't starve and the U.S. National Guard airlifted food in.

    Tabletop Games 
  • After the game Tsuro was featured on TableTop, demand was so high that the publisher exhausted all stock reserves.
    • The crowning example of the Tabletop Effect has to be the insane Cthulhu-meets-Scrabble game Unspeakable Words, which vanished entirely from every single retailer within a week of the episode's airing, except for ONE scalper on Amazon trying to charge $200+ for a $30 game. Thankfully a Kickstarter for a new deluxe edition should soon be remedying the issue... just short of two years after the episode hit.
  • The original edition of Dungeons & Dragons had a first run of 1,000 copies. It sold out within weeks.
  • Magic: The Gathering suffered from supply shortages with every base set up to and including Revised as well as with the first four expansions.
  • Beginning in the summer of 2020, Pokémon cards kept selling out at various retailers across the United States. It got to the point where when McDonald's ran a promotion with exclusive trading cards being offered for the 25th anniversary of the franchise, the cards sold out at most locations in a day.

  • In a time period before before Internet access was widespread, this famously happened in the U.K. when The BBC began a re-run of Thunderbirds in 1992 (the first time it had ever been simulcast nationally); demand for Tracy Island toys outstripped supply. Blue Peter helpfully gave instructions for building a home-made version, the video release of which ran out in minutes. Hell, forget the video, demand was such that there was a huge lead time in receiving a paper copy of the instructions from the BBC.
  • The type of toy popularity as seen in Jingle All the Way is based on toys like Cabbage Patch Kids and Tickle Me Elmo becoming the hot toy in demand. Toy companies seek reactions like this.
  • When Mobile Suit Gundam Wing first aired in the US on Cartoon Network, Bandai's supply of model kits for the show got exhausted.
  • Although sales for Frozen toys were initially at or below expectations, the word of mouth that gave it box office legs not seen in years also caused massive merchandise shortages, which didn't fully meet demand until over a year later. Official Cosplay Gear for Breakout Character Elsa were going for massive markups on the resale market.
  • Many kids got IOUs instead of Star Wars toys in the 1970s, because back then, movie toys were given small runs, and the company in question got completely overwhelmed.
  • This happened to Yo Kai Watch toys in Japan. For an entire year, fans had to queue in line to get a chance to enter a raffle to purchase the medals and watches.
  • On July 12, 2018, Build A Bear Workshops held a "Pay Your Age Day" event, meaning that people under 29 could only pay the amount of their age for a bear. Because it was such a great deal since Build A Bears usually cost a ton of money (basic bears range from $15-$25, but the sound chip and clothing can increase the cost to around $50), many families waited up to 10 hours in line to buy a bear. Because of the demand, some stores ran out of stuffing and invited customers to come back another day to stuff the bear, while others were not allowed into the line and were given coupons.
  • If something is going to be attractive enough to the Bronies, you'd better stock up enough of it.
    • At San Diego Comic Con, Hasbro always keeps selling exclusive goodies from several of their franchises. In 2012, that was a large brushable figurine of Derpy Hooves (albeit only named with a muffin), the first ever official product based on her. While all the other items remained on stock for days, Derpy sold out within less than 15 minutes.
    • Also in 2012, plushies were becoming all the rage, but official, mass-produced plushies weren't in sight yet, let alone in a decent quality. The only sources for pony plushies were creative fans. Two of them decided to make a number of plushies to sell at 2012 GalaCon in Stuttgart, Germany. The availability of plushies was announced in advance. Naturally, dozens of Bronies decided to not attend the opening ceremony and lined up outside the still closed door to the vendor room that was guarded by convention security (also because the room was so small that only six potential customers were allowed inside at a time) and waited for it to open. After the vendor room was officially opened, it took eleven minutes until the last plushie was sold.
  • This is the reason for Tamagotchi's early fall from grace in the 90's. Bandai initially only produced the toys in small amounts, not anticipating that they'd become a big fad overnight. Thankfully, they did manage to produce more... but only after the fad started to die out, thus leaving the company's finances rather dire. Ironically, it's a 2004 revival of the very same toy series that got them out of that financial slump.
  • This happened with Toy Story's original run of Buzz Lightyear action figures. When the original film was released, Thinkway made very few Buzz Lightyear toys due to the company believing that the film would flop. When the film proved to be a hit, all of the Buzz Lightyear toys produced quickly sold out, with it (allegedly) getting so extreme that Buzz Lightyear toys were being sold on the black market. Thankfully, this was short-lived, as Thinkway made many more Buzz Lightyear action figures in the second run of toys. This was referenced in Toy Story 2 with a line mentioning how "short-sighted retailers failed to meet demand" when the in-universe Buzz Lightyear action figures were first sold.
  • In the summer of 2021, much of the merchandise for Luca, specifically the film's artbook, several of the plushies, the Funko Pops, the Happy Meal toys and the Mattel-made action figures of the characters, sold out due to the film's surprise success.
  • In 1994, Burger King's toys for The Lion King (1994) sold out at various locations across the country due to the popularity of the movie they were based on.

    Video Games 
  • Nintendo has dealt with this more than once. They've gained a reputation as being notoriously conservative when it comes to sales estimates (especially right after they've had underperforming hardware like the Nintendo GameCube or the Wii U that they overproduced), so they'll end up underproducing initially and then ramp up production once they know for sure that the demand is there.
    • Nintendo Entertainment System-era cart shortages were frequent, particularly for hot new games, since a limited amount of copies could be pressed monthly, and the North American lifespan of the system had the misfortune of coinciding with a global chip shortage. There were actual news reports of parents driving out-of-state just to get copies of Super Mario Bros. 2 and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
    • When the Super Nintendo Entertainment System launched in Japan, demand was far higher than Nintendo anticipated, resulting in them only being able to fulfil 20% of stores' preorders (1.5 million units requested, 300,000 shipped); some retailers resorted to giving out systems through lotteries. Setting a standard for Nintendo, consumers accused them of engaging in artificial scarcity, claims that Nintendo denied, stating that they'd manufacture more systems to keep up with the demand.
    • The Wii was constantly sold out from its launch until late-2008, only to have yet another temporary shortage with the release of New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
    • Back in 2012, when Xenoblade Chronicles 1 finally saw its North American release, it was given an extremely limited run by GameStop prompting this to happen. However, because GameStop controlled the stock, this was intentional - since they started selling used copies (as well as "used" copies that were in fact brand new copies) for a $20+ markup.
    • amiibo figures. While big-name characters like Mario and Link are always be available, more niches ones are given limited production runs and quickly run out. Scalpers are a major problem, especially during the height of the figures' popularity in 2014 and 2015, which was exacerbated by a months-long port strike that held up shipments for some time, cutting into the supply even more. Demand finally stabilized about a year after launch, though a few characters remained rare for some time.
      • Crossing over into the "computer crash" category, the preorders for the April 2015 wave of figures brought down GameStop. Not just the website, but the entire system, including the cash registers.
      • 2017 saw a resurgence when The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was released, sending demand for Zelda amiibo through the roof - not just new ones released for the game, but ones that had been available for months or even years already.
      • Amiibo cards for Animal Crossing characters. Despite being NFC cards that require fewer resources to produce than figures, they are produced in such small batches that unless you order them within minutes of them being put in stock, they might as well not exist.
    • The NES Classic Edition was released in November 2016 and sold out worldwide in mere seconds on websites like Amazon and GameStop. The SNES Classic Edition suffered a similar fate the following year.
    • The original Splatoon proved so popular in Japan that physical copies completely sold out within the first two days of the game's release, prompting Nintendo to issue an apology about the situation, while reminding fans that they can also just buy it on the eShop.
    • The Nintendo Switch was this for its first year on the market in the West and continued to remain this in Japan for even longer, with Amazon Japan tending to run out of pre-orders in just 15 minutes and physical retailers regularly cleaned out of their stock within hours at most, even with lotteries.
    • The Super Smash Bros.-themed Nintendo GameCube controller and adapter released alongside Super Smash Bros. for Wii U sold out almost immediately after the game's release, and weren't restocked at all until they were re-released alongside Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, only to sell out almost immediately again. Somewhat subverted in that there are third-party alternatives available for both (albeit without Smash branding in the case of the former), as well as original Nintendo GameCube controllers being perfectly usable if you have them.
    • More the fault of CoroCoro Comic than Nintendo, but when the former put out download codes for exclusive Splatoon 2 gear based on Team Emperor from Hinodeya Sankichi's manga, issues quickly ran out of stock.
    • When Super Nintendo Entertainment System controllers were released for the Nintendo Switch, not only did Google crash due to people trying to find the link to buy them, but they also sold out pretty fast.
    • As a result of COVID-19 forcing people to stay at home in the early months of 2020, copies of Ring Fit Adventure saw a massive spike in sales, up to the point where it was sold out in multiple retail establishments. There were even people who hiked up the price for more than double the original price.
    • In early 2023, Nintendo did a surprise same-day digital release of Metroid Prime Remastered, with physical copies to hit stores a few weeks later. But despite the digital version being immediately available, many still wanted to purchase the physical version instead or even buy both, causing the amount of pre-orders to quickly eclipse the available stock that nearly every retailer in North America even had. In response to an article talking about scalpers selling their copies for over twice the MSRP, Nintendo of America would end up issuing a statement assuring costumers that they would ramp up production to meet the unexpectedly strong demand.
  • This article notes that Disney Infinity had this problem with its first installment, as numerous figures were extremely difficult to find in stores (Such as strong and/or popular characters like Violet Parr, Jack Skellington, and Apprentice Mickey). This lead to the company releasing a much higher number of figures for the second installment. Unfortunately, this backfired as they wound up making too many for people to buy, leading to a massive inventory write-up that ultimately played a factor into the series's cancellation.
  • Legend has it that Space Invaders was so popular when it came out that it caused, or threatened to cause, a shortage of 100-yen coins.
  • When Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors was released in Japan, it was a commercial failure, only selling about 40,000 copies. When the game was translated into English, similar sales figures were anticipated. Due to an unexpected case of Germans Love David Hasselhoff, retailers regularly ran out of stock and had to actively request additional copies.
  • The physical copies of Octopath Traveler sold out entirely in Japan during the game's launch weekend, and the restock a few weeks later sold out within three hours. Over in America, Amazon ended up backordered with a two-month wait, and a number of other stores ran out of their stock as well. During the game's first few months on the market, the creators even encouraged customers to consider getting the digital version instead in case they didn't feel like waiting for more physical copies to be made.
  • According to Electronic Gaming Monthly's October 1994 issue, only 3,000 copies of the UFO Kamen Yakisoban video game were made originally, as it was a lottery prize. Nissin received so many entries that it became a full retail release.
  • After Valve announced a VR-only Half-Life game after a lengthy Sequel Gap, namely Half-Life: Alyx, all VR headsets commercially available sold out in a matter of weeks, and were backordered to the point that purchasing one at random wasn't be feasible until months after the game was released.
  • StepManiaX stages, which are compatible with the game itself, as well as other 4-panel dance games like DanceDanceRevolution and In the Groove (another game worked on by Kyle Ward, one of the staff on the SMX team) and Pump It Up are known for their extremely high build quality, causing them to constantly be in demand. A few hundred are made per batch and they manage to sell out within seconds each time.
  • After the success of the 2020 version of Microsoft Flight Simulator, flight stick peripherals were often reported to be sold out in many stores.
  • During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the video game industry in general saw both a massive spike in sales due to many turning to gaming as a source of entertainment during the outbreak, as well as slowed hardware production as a result of several Chinese consumer electronic manufacturing plants shutting down to prevent spread. As a result, getting any console — be it the Nintendo Switch around the time Animal Crossing: New Horizons released early that year, the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S consoles that launched later that year, or even the latest generation of Nvidia and AMD GPUs at the time (those being the GeForce RTX 30 series and the Radeon RX 6000 series respectively) — proved to be an arduous task.
    • The Nintendo Switch is an interesting case of this as Nintendo moved their non-Japanese production to Vietnam to bypass the then ongoing US-China trade war the previous year, while keeping Japanese production in China. When China got hit hard, Japanese stock faltered even more quickly than other regions as Vietnam managed to hold their own during the pandemic.
    • It's been done in digital - Final Fantasy XIV had seen such a surge in popularity due to World of Warcraft enacting a number of controversial changes that they literally ran out of digital copies, mostly to prevent the existing game servers from having to deal with demand beyond what they could handle.
Other Items
  • The pen used by Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto to sign Finland's NATO application on May 17, 2022 sold out just hours after the signing.

In-Universe Examples

    Comic Books 
  • When Spider-Man publicly revealed his secret identity, the Internet broke down because too many people were trying to do a name search on "Peter Parker" simultaneously.

    Fan Fiction 
  • From An Entry with a Bang: Five minutes after the pirates' departure, the video of their jump was on YouTube. Less than an hour later, YouTube crashed due to the sheer number of users trying to access this one video on the website.
  • With This Ring: When visiting Karax, Paul takes advice from a native and announces his presence by using his ring to near-instantly create a social media profile. Shortly afterward, the server has crashed and he has to move to new hosting. Which also crashes. Understandable, since it's a planet that worships the green light, and his presence as an Orange Lantern is causing significant upheaval.

  • The Social Network establishes that the early incarnation of Facebook was a basic "Attractiveness Rating" web site piggybacking on Harvard servers, which was so unexpectedly popular it crashed the servers.
  • Toy Story 2 mentions that, when the Buzz Lightyear action figures originally came out, "short-sighted retailers" underestimated just how big the demand would be, and the initial run completely sold out in a few days. By the present, stores like Al's Toy Barn have caught up with demand by devoting an entire aisle to Buzz Lightyear. As mentioned under "physical item ran out of stock", this is also a reference to the real-life shortage of actual Buzz Lightyear figures, which even had searchers resorting to the black market.
  • Jingle All the Way is all about parents trying to get the hot new sold-out toy of the year. As noted above, it's based on the demand that existed for some real toys (including the real Buzz Lightyear toys).

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory: Penny starts a small business making hair barrettes called "Penny Blossoms." The guys set up a website for her and an order comes in for 1,000, rush overnight delivery. The guys help her out making them all night. Then, after they're done, they find that the original order has been doubled.
  • Clarkson's Farm: Jeremy Clarkson's fame as a motor journalist and TV presenter means that once he advertises the grand opening of his farm shop on Twitter, the one-shack storefront is downright swamped with customers on its opening day, to the point where it causes traffic jams throughout Chadlington (something Clarkson ultimately issued an apology for once the cameras were off).
  • In the penultimate episode (technically the Grand Finale) of Drake & Josh, Drake's song was set to be put into a Super Bowl commercial but due to a contract mistake was horribly altered electronically. Josh managed to switch the tapes that were going to be mixed into the commercial, and they were set to be sued for the illegal action. But the CEO said the original song was a massive hit, breaking their servers, and ended up firing the producer who tried to manipulate a hit song.
  • In Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, whenever Kimmy tries to enter the website selling her book The Legend of Greemulax it displays 'Error 503', which she mistakes for "It has 503 errors!" She only understands it's this trope when Xanthippe says the book is an enormous hit - she and just about everyone in her college has read it - and thus the page is constantly crashing due to excessive traffic.

    Urban Legends 

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • A Phineas and Ferb episode features a demand overload over an embarrassing videotape of Doofenshmirtz getting his face stuck in a toilet.