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Fiction Business Savvy

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Oh yeah. It's the best part. It's crunchy, it's explosive, it's where the muffin breaks free of the pan and sort of (makes hand motions) does its own thing. I'll tell you. That's a million dollar idea right there. Just sell the tops.
Elaine Benes, Seinfeld, "Muffin Tops"

In a work of fiction, characters often come up with a great business idea that will make them rich or get that promotion. However, by using a bit of Fridge Logic, the audience may realize that this business idea is actually terrible. The idea may display a poor sense of fashion or design, or may just ignore customer psychology or economic realities.

The general dubiousness of the business idea is probably a result of the fact that if the idea was any good while still being original, then whoever came up with the idea would be a millionaire entrepreneur instead of a writer.note 


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  • In How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, one protagonist advertising professional thinks a great new slogan for the diamond industry group is "Go frost yourself." The boss in the meeting really likes it.
  • In the second Oh, God! movie, a great slogan to get the world's population to have more faith is "Think God." And write it on a bunch of signs.
  • At the end of Other People's Money the corporate raider played by Danny Devito does a mild Heel–Face Turn, by setting up a deal so that the almost defunct family corporation can use its obsolete copper cable factory to instead manufacture airbags thus saving the employees. Not sure there were any real-life analogous successful conversions in that industry during the 1980's/1990's.
  • In Big when Tom Hanks' character gets called up to the toy company's executive meeting, he impresses the boss by spearheading a new toy brainstorming session. He questions the appeal of a building transformer and instead suggests bug transformers. Another executive chimes in, "Transformers for girls!"
    • (In real life, there are indeed "building" Transformers and "bug" Transformers. The bug ones are quite a bit more popular.)
  • Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead has Christina Applegate's character help shape a fashion design company's new line of apparel. Even during the 1990's, the resulting outfits look ridiculous even when compared to real-life wacked-out fashion.
  • Subverted in Office Space. Smykowski's million-dollar idea is the "Jump-to-Conclusions Mat". A mat.. with different conclusions... you can jump to! He's immediately told it's the worst idea anyone's ever heard of. He eventually makes it anyway, though we never find out if it takes off.

     Live Action TV  
  • Repeatedly played straight and subverted in numerous Seinfeld episodes which have characters coming up with "ingenious" business ideas that include a beach fragrance, muffin tops, a coffee table book about coffee tables, a brassiere for men, a bladder system for oil tankers, restaurant relaunches, and more.
  • In one Gilmore Girls episode Rory and her Chilton frenemies work on a school project competition for the best business plan with a prototype. The group that wins is a car alarm for lockers. Rory's group doesn't do much better - bedazzled first-aid kits.
  • In the third season of Halt and Catch Fire, Donna's plan to create an IPO for Mutiny, a small videogame company that's struggling to turn itself into an online trading hub, is presented as a brilliant business move. Subverted at the end of the season, when a Time Skip reveals that the IPO was a disaster that ruined Donna's credibility as a software developer.
  • In The Exes Haskell comes up with the idea for a phone app for using people's toilets for money. It's called Pee-Harmony. Stewart's sister Nikki decides to invest in it after using it as a result of being caught short. Eventually it's sold for a huge amount of money.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Timeslides" the guaranteed money-making idea that Lister gives to his past self, originally devised by one of Rimmer's classmates, is to paint bubblewrap red and call it a "tension sheet".

     Visual Novels  
  • In the epilogue of Double Homework, Tamara opens a boutique where all the clothes are black. The sale of only black merchandise stopped being acceptable with cars a long time ago, let alone with clothes.
  • In Melody, Amy does very well for herself (and Melissa did too during her life) running a business refurbishing dresses.

     Western Animation  
  • Subverted in a The Simpsons episode when Homer designs a car for his brother's company. His brother trusts him as "the everyman." Homer designs it with a cornucopia of what he deems to be conveniences. When the car is unveiled to the public it resembles a freakish UFO on wheels, at an eye-watering sticker price of $82,000 (just over $152,000 in 2020 money). Needless to say, it was not a business success.
  • Also subverted in an episode of DuckTales (1987), where Huey, Dewey and Louie try to run Scrooge McDuck's business while he's under medical quarantine. While their first ideas succeed and earn the support of the board of directors, it isn't long before their off-the-wall decisions (including a car design similar to Homer's above) nearly run the company into the ground, and only a Reset Button provided by a dubious interpretation of child labor laws is able to set things straight.