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Gone Horribly Wrong

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"This is a bad experiment! We are bad people!! WHY DID WE USHER FORTH THE GREEN APOCALYPSE!?"

Stock Phrase used whenever that nasty old "science" inevitably messes up royally.

The basic setup is simple: You have an outpost, a laboratory, a factory, or other facility dedicated to the research and production of technological marvels, staffed with flighty scientists and ambitious persons pursuing a goal with the aims of profit, peace, or other potential applications. Oh. And did we mention that the research is on cheating death? Or that the forest that those free market capitalists are clear-cutting just happens to be rumored to have an ancient Indian Burial Ground somewhere within it?


What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Well, let's see here.

In the course of their reasonable, maybe even noble quest to advance scientific knowledge, make a profit, help humanity, design a doomsday device, or otherwise undertake a high risk/high reward venture, something will have gone horribly wrong.

The variations are endless. Perhaps the non-polluting energy source actually taps into the delicately balanced forces locked in a Cosmic Keystone or drains the planet's Life Energy. Or the hunger-killing super-wheat is actually a super-weed that destroys all ecosystems. And that's for purely peaceful things. Weapons of any sort will have things go horribly wrong on a cataclysmic scale. The "completely loyal" robot workforce has a programming flaw that makes them revolt. Maybe the Supersoldier program inherently causes insanity, mutation, or plain old megalomania.


These researchers will observe lax safety standards, laxer morals, and be prone to test things out on themselves or unwilling visitors. The Corrupt Corporate Executive will callously and maliciously disregard all warnings, even for basic safety and good PR.

Expect these people to send out a Distress Call or chronicle the debacle in an Apocalyptic Log, be visited by a group whose car broke down, or have things go wrong when the stockholders/government oversight committee comes to view their achievement.

This is comparable to a Freak Lab Accident, except at the beginning of a story. Heck, a lot of Speculative Fiction serves no purpose but to have something Go Horribly Wrong.

See also Came Back Wrong for when an attempt at bringing someone Back from the Dead Goes Horribly Wrong. For when the experiment would be successful but is deliberately sabotaged, see Spanner in the Works. In more cynical works, this may leave the character thinking "What Have I Done?". When Gone Horribly Wrong results in a project or product being scrapped immediately after its debut, it's a Disastrous Demonstration.


Of course, it can always get worse.

Compare with Gone Horribly Right, where the project in question does whatever thing/task it was intended to do, often with flying colors, but, does it in a way that is really, really, really, really fear-inducingly horrible enough to make its creators want to stuff it into a can and bury it, anyhow. An Epic Fail is this being Played for Laughs.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Claymore there are women who are half human and half demonic. They hunt monsters that eat human guts. However, they may lose control of their powers and turn into huge, man-eating monsters called Awakened Beings. In the first generation of the organization that creates these warriors, many warriors were male. However, men can not control these powers very well, so almost all of them have awakened quickly.
  • Digimon Tamers: Takato orders his Digimon to Digivolve to the Mega Level... and the result is a Mega whose mere existence threatens both the Digital and Real Worlds. Oh, and whose name is literally Megidramon. As in, Megiddo, the battle of the Apocalypse!
  • Daitarn3 and Neo Human Casshern. Creating cyborgs who are superior in every way to normal humans? There is absolutely no way this is going to backfire.
  • Elfen Lied. Keeping that Diclonius called Lucy seemed so easy, but as it turns out, it wasn't. "From Bad to Worse" is a mild way of putting the series.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist. Try to bring back mommy dearest to life? I don't think so.
    • Scientists create an immortal army that hates you because you put their souls in terrifying, freakish bodies and now they hurt all the time? Yeah, shooting them is a good idea. That will kill them for sure. Let's do that.
  • Franken Fran: Fran really just wants to help people, but she seldom thinks through the non-biological consequences of her operations.
  • Judge: All Hiro wants to do is have a chance to confess his feelings to his brother's girlfriend, so he tells a little lie to his brother. This leads to his brother Atsuya being run over by a truck.
  • Naruto:
    • Everything Itachi has planned since the beginning concerning his younger brother. After killing his entire clan, he couldn't kill Sasuke. Itachi's goal was to make his little brother be seen as a hero to Konoha, going as far as to die by his brother's own hands. Tobi told Sasuke all of this and now... well, you know how it all turned out.
    • This problem was temporarily fixed by the revived Hokages. Unfortunately Sasuke took another message out of their story: the world must be united by a common enemy, so he will be that enemy.
    • The Sage of Six Paths shared his chakra with the people of the world so that it would act as a bond between them, fostering understanding and peace. Instead they created ninjutsu and used chakra to fight one another. This is why Madara views the society created by the Sage's ninshu as a "failed world" and believes that a more direct approach is needed.
    • Jiraiya loosens Naruto's seal in order to test the extent of Naruto's control over the Kyuubi's chakra. His action results in the destruction of the village they're in and a Bijuu-dama to his chest.
    • Danzo is a more long-term example, as a fair amount of the tragedies that happened in the story can be ultimately traced back to his underhanded actions, in his obsession to "protect" Konoha, arguably creating more enemies and threats that didn't exist in the first place. Just about everything he did backfired horribly for the village, but of course, it didn't matter to him.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the Second Impact (a cataclysmic event which changed the world forever) is strongly implied to have been caused by an experiment on a huge god-like being Gone Horribly Wrong. This begs the question of what kind of result did they think they would get. "I'll just stick this thingy into the huge god-like being that we don't under..."(Recording irreparably damaged from this point on)
  • Apparently getting used in experiments too much in Ginga Densetsu Weed caused Kaibutsu to be the monster he had become when we first see him.
  • Pokémon: Jirachi: Wish Maker: Butler spends the bulk of the film trying to capture Jirachi and use his power to resurrect a Groudon fossil in order to get revenge on Team Magma for expelling him from the organization. He ultimately succeeds in using Jirachi to do so, but instead of an actual Groudon, he ends up with a Made of Evil Eldritch Abomination that only resembles Groudon. He's rightfully horrified by the result, and helps Ash and co. destroy the monster after it absorbs his Love Interest, Diane.
  • Macross 7 reveals the Protoculture experiment that went so horribly wrong it indirectly lead to the destruction of their entire species. They attempted to power their living superweapons with energy from an Alternate Universe with no physical matter in it. Problem was, the energy they siphoned from that universe turned out to be intelligent, and immediately took control of the superweapons. Termed the Protodeviln, they started a galactic war that, ultimately, the Protoculture did not survive.
  • In the Kaguya-sama: Love Is War spin-off series "We Want to Talk About Kaguya'', Karen tries to help Maki break out of her Cannot Spit It Out phase and confess to Tsubasa. Unfortunately, her attempts to do so lead to him dating Kashiwagi instead.
  • In My Hero Academia, Nana Shimura gave up her son for adoption after her husband was killed by All For One as a means to protect him. Unfortunately, despite her good intentions, this caused her son to become resentful and hate her for it. And when she died, he came to believe that heroes have to abandon their families in order to continue their duties. This would lead to him physically abusing his own son, Tenko Shimura, otherwise known as the Big Bad Shigaraki and resulting in a chain of events where Shigaraki would kill his family and All For One finding and taking him in.

    Comic Books 
  • Responsible for quite a few supervillain origins. For example: Norman Osborn creates a compound that grants super-strength and healing powers. And turns him into the insane Green Goblin.
  • Incredible Hulk: The New Mexico experiments with Gamma Radiation went very wrong for Dr. Bruce Banner.
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Doctor Finitevus' first use of his Chaos Siphon suit turned him into a Mad Scientist and bleached his fur.
    • Thrash The Devil had been told echidnas were evil for turning the race of Tasmanian Devils into dog-like Devil Dogs for ages. He then goes and banishes what's left of the echidna race to another dimension out of pure spite.
  • Empowered's superteam was looking for an easy win for the PR, so they try to bring down the obscure villain Willy Pete. It doesn't go well at all.
  • Daredevil's attempt to reform the Hand as its new leader in the Shadowland storyline failed horribly after the Hand's true leader, the demon known as The Beast, possessed him.
  • A real life example of this is the origin of the X-Men storyline "Fatal Attractions", wherein Wolverine has his adamantium stripped from his body. During a writer's meeting, Peter David suggested the concept... as a joke, parodying the extremes the franchise had gone to. To his horror, the other writers kept spinning it and created one of the most infamous X-Men stories of all time.
  • In DC's Flashpoint event, Barry Allen's attempt to recreate the Freak Lab Accident that made him The Flash goes horribly wrong and burns all of his skin off.
  • In the Marvel Universe, there have been attempts to recreate Project Rebirth for decades ever since Dr. Erksine was killed just after enhancing Steve Rogers into Captain America. Unfortunately, they have all backfired, most often creating supervillain maniacs and monsters like the 1950s Captain America and Nuke.
  • Morbius tried to counter his fatal blood disease but the experiment instead turned him into a living vampire.
  • Superman and Green Lantern villain Cyborg Superman (Hank Henshaw) has two (in a meta sense) in his origin story. His backstory is modeled after that of the Fantastic Four, which already involves a trip into space going Horribly Wrong. If that wasn't bad enough, the expied origin story goes more horribly wrong when, instead of developing useful powers, two of Henshaw's teammates die horribly as a result of their mutations and his wife commits suicide, either because of what she's become or from seeing what's happened to her husband. Henshaw himself winds up as a disembodied soul inhabiting technology, goes insane, and spends most of his time trying to die.
  • Spider-Man: During the Six Arms Saga, Peter, having had enough of being Spider-Man, creates a potion intended to strip him of his spider-powers for good. Rather than nullifying his powers, the potion increases them, causing him to sprout four extra arms.
  • In Robin Strader Pharmaceuticals develops a drug designed to give the user super-strength. It of course ends up being a Psycho Serum that turns the users homicidal in addition to giving them strength and slowly and horrifically breaks down their bodies killing them.
  • The Ultimates: The Hulk's physical abilities are all what Banner designed them to be, but something went wrong, causing the Hulk to be the bestial Id-driven monstrosity it is; Banner designed the Hulk to be as smart as it is strong.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm has more or less every attempt to reconstruct the Super Soldier Serum. While some attempts, such as the Russian Infinity Formula (which stabilised Zola's enhancements of Bucky) worked out well enough, many of the others rather the gamut from 'violation of every ethical standard possible', such as Camp Cathcart (testing serum variants on black servicemen), to 'nigh-apocalyptic scenario that required the Green Lantern, someone with the power of a Physical God, to shut down' such as Project Pegasus (an attempt by SHIELD to master Magic Enhancement). And then there's the somewhat ominous remarks Peter Wisdom has made about the British Supersoldier project, based in Porton Down, itself a Real Life bio-weapons facility with a reputation for questionable ethics and human experimentation...
  • The Nightmare Virus from the Tamers Forever Series is much more sadistic and power-hungry than its programmer ever intended it to be.
  • In Glorious Shotgun Princess, Cerberus continues its trend, with characters joking about it on several occasions. In particular, Liara half-expected their project to resurrect Shepard to end in their usual "experiment killed all the scientists and took over the base" fashion. The fic is also known for giving rise to the famed "Cerberus Taco Cart Theorem" which states that most (if not all) projects that Cerberus undertakes will kill all the scientists and take over the base.
  • In The Parselmouth of Gryffindor, to make sure whether Hufflepuff's Cup contains a part of Voldemort's soul, Hermione makes it "wear" the Sorting Hat to see if he detects a mind in there. He does — but the soul-shard proceeds to possess the poor Hat.
  • The Conversion Bureau is a fanfic that went horribly wrong. The author of the original fanfic, Blaze, has gone on the record to state that the fic was solely written as Wish Fulfillment and as an explanation on his hypothesis on why Equestria had no humans. Instead, thanks to ham-handed writing, he attracted a sizable hatedom, some crazy authors with stories based on their own views set in his universe and a permanent reputation as an absolute misanthrope.
  • Naruto: Shinobi Insitute of Performance Analysis mixes this with Gone Horribly Right in the case of Itachi using Tsukiyomi (a genjutsu he barely understood) on Sasuke. The result? A homicidal sociopath that kills enemies and prisoners at every opportunity and brutally murdered at least one classmate before he graduated.
  • Lyrical Nanoha fanfic Toward the World's End gives us this combined with Too Dumb to Live. The TSAB detect a huge anomaly in the void. What do they find? An artificial universe that appears to be doing something to other universes. What do they do? Shoot at it with ALL WEAPONS!. The thing creates shields out of nothing, and then fires back with some weapon that the TSAB can't even idenitfy. They manage to stop it obliterating Mid-Childia, but the radiation that spills over destroys life and creates apocalyptic conditions on millions of planets in a ton of other universes. Including the one that Nanoha, Yuuno and OC Protagonist Arthur are on... Earth. If that wasn't bad enough, the radiation also unleashes Eldritch Abominations that are ONLY capable of destruction. Nice going, TSAB.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Gamma and the Civil Defense Tower are this. Both projects were hijacked by Wily and nearly doomed the world.
  • In Flash Fog, Caligo Manufacturing of Cloudsdale developed a new industrial cloud formula - one that is much more resilient and almost impossible to disperse compared to normal clouds. It works so well, the tanks can't hold it and the whole mixture becomes a fog bank. The whole story circles around how plain hard it is to eliminate the fog by conventional means.
  • A Voice in the Wilderness presents an Origin Story for the Borg Collective of this sort. Preserver scientists on a planet in the Delta Quadrant were attempting to create nanomachines for medical purposes, but the nanites somehow merged with an Artificial Intelligence that spread through the planet's Alternet, becoming the first Borg Queen, One of One. The present-day Queen happened later, after the surviving Preservers managed to capture and imprison One of One's central processor.
  • The entire premise of Lords Among The Ashes. It is decided that the best way to display the skills of the Huntsman Academies' leaders for the Vytal Festival is to place them inside a simulation for ten days so that they can rule over a kingdom of their own for ten weeks. Cinder's virus then interacts in an unexpected manner with the SDC's simulation software, causing the time dilation to change from x7 to x365.
  • Fallout: Equestria: The Stables parallel the Vaults from Fallout. Unlike the Vaults, however, the Stables were intended to save everypony. While each of them was host to a social experiment, they were not needlessly cruel, and the Overmares were given strict orders to shut the experiment down if there was a serious threat to the inhabitants. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough, and by the time the story starts nearly every Stable is a tomb. Some fell to simple accidents, some to side effects of the experiments. Stable 29, in particular, was controlled by an emotionless computer, and when the water talisman was damaged started killing off inhabitants to keep the Stable at a sustainable population level. At first they just looked like accidents, and by the time anyone realized the truth, the pony with the knowledge to override the computer was dead.
  • In Daughter of Fire and Steel, Terrax, aka Doomsday, was originally designed to be the perfect Kryptonian warrior; unbeatable in battle. The experiment appeared successful at first, but then he started mutating and went on a rampage resulting in the death of many people, including his creator, Zor-El.
  • Fairy Tail: Sealing Gone Wrong, the Sealing Spell used by Igneel to rest within Natsu while regaining his magic malfunctions, causing Igneel to wake up in control of Natsu's childish body, with implications that Natsu is in Igneel's body trapped inside his own.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Flint Lockwood creates a device that makes it rain food. At first, everything is fine, but through constant overwork, the machine develops a mind of its own, and starts sending down bigger and bigger food, threatening to destroy the world.
  • In Batman: Under the Red Hood, Ra's Al-Ghul hires The Joker to distract Batman while he goes off to set up one of his usual plans to eradicate most of mankind. He didn't expect the clown to go and murder Robin. It gets even worse when he uses the Lazarus Pit to resurrect him, turning him into a man filled with a lot of pent up rage.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien: Resurrection had scientists clone Ripley in hopes of creating a Xenomorph for potential military applications. Things go horribly wrong when the cloning gave the aliens more grey matter than the scientists, allowing them to escape and wreak havoc.
  • The Terminator series. Because it's SUCH a good idea to make computers smarter than you then hand them military control. How come the only one smart enough to keep the Terminators from learning too much is Skynet? And yet Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles reveals the existence of machines who have decided to fight Skynet on their own.
  • The reason they have to drill into The Core: secret government experiments with a giant earthquake-causing weapon has somehow ruined the Earth's EM field by causing the core to slow down and eventually stop.
  • Crack In The World: Scientists try to tap magma from the Earth's core by detonating a nuclear bomb deep underground. This turns out to be a very bad idea indeed. Considering the fact that you can tap magma from the Earth's core at one of the hundreds of active volcanoes all over the surface of the world, they probably deserved to have it go horribly wrong.
  • The Dark Crystal is set 1,000 years after the urSkeks, a hyper-advanced species, made the ill-advised and arrogant (if somewhat noble) decision to try and eliminate their darker natures; a decision that literally caused a near-apocalypse-level event. This single choice wrought, in its 1000-year aftermath, the fracturing and increasing corruption of the Crystal (and by extension the entire landscape), the eventual near-extinction of one race, the decimation of a second, and the creation of beings of pure evil that ruled over the planet for an entire millennium who certainly didn't improve things. Oops?
  • In Deep Blue Sea, scientists try to cure Alzheimers by harvesting the brain matter of super-smart genetically modified sharks. What went horribly wrong? Well for one thing, experimenting with really aggressive sharks, underwater, on a platform in the middle of the ocean, with no way of easy escape might not be the best idea ever ... A shark fucking ate Samuel L. Jackson, for one thing.
  • Event Horizon is about a brain-twistingly successful attempt at Faster-Than-Light Travel... that then promptly Went Horribly Wrong. Really, REALLY horribly wrong.
  • The Fly. Teleportation experiment is upset by a literal fly in the ointment. And then it happens again. Twice. And then David Cronenberg gets hold of the idea and does it twice as well and ten times as ugly.
  • Jurassic Park. A zoo which houses dinosaurs? What could possibly go wrong here?
  • Nearly every other movie based on a Michael Crichton story follow this trope, with the exception being The Great Train Robbery.
  • Omni Consumer Products "improved" police robots went Horribly Wrong in both RoboCop (1987) and RoboCop 2.
    • Murphy succeeded, but only because he's a special case. As shown by failed cases in the second film, most cyborgs don't handle their new existence well. Of course, using a drug-addicted criminal as a cyborg-policeman is probably not the best idea.
  • The big reveal of Serenity involves an experimental chemical named Pax. Given the name's meaning, you can guess what it was supposed to do, and for the most part, its problem was that it worked too well. But on a small segment of the population... You know the Reavers? Yeah, this is where they came from.
  • In Son of Godzilla, an experiment trying to control weather plans to start by freezing the tropical island it's happening on. Well, radio interference prevents the detonation of a specific device at the right time, resulting in a massive heat wave, tropical storms, and the already rather large (ten feet long or so) praying mantises living on the island growing to Kaiju proportions.
  • Species: They try to grow an alien child. Then they try to dispose of it when the experiment is shut down. Not happening.
  • Total Recall (1990): a routine implantation of false memories at Rekall goes haywire.
  • The Time Machine's The End of the World as We Know It is triggered when humanity starts excavating more living space into the moon with nuclear weapons. When the hero uses the titular machine to go forward a few years, he finds himself in a dystopia and the fragments of the moon in the sky are getting bigger and bigger...
  • Battlefield Earth. Beyond the obvious reference, how else can you describe the plot from the Psychlo perspective? You have a planet completely under your thumb, and one greedy mid-manager does an experiment on a subjugated race, which ultimately results in it gaining the knowledge and power to wipe out your home world and all of the occupying forces.
    • And the reason he bothers is he's so desperate to go back home that he's willing to do anything to get the money to buy his way out of the trouble he caused himself, making this trope also apply to the government official who exiled him to Earth in the first place.
  • In the 2008 The Incredible Hulk film, the army's experiments with Gamma radiation gives birth to the Hulk, and Thunderbolt Ross and Emil Blonsky's experiments with the super-soldier serum leads to Blonsky becoming the Abomination.
  • X-Men: First Class
  • The premise of Mean Creek is that a group of kids devise a plan to get revenge on an overweight, troubled bully named George on a boating trip, effectively humiliating him in the process. However, George ends up being accidentally pushed off of a boat and into the lake below. He is unable to swim and drowns.
  • In Pixels, humans send into space videos of them playing then-popular computer games as a message of peace. The aliens who receive it believe it to be a declaration of war to be fought with those games.
  • Das Experiment is based on the Stanford Prison Experiment, but goes further. Within just a few days the guards are terrorizing and humiliating the prisoners to keep order, right up to abusing their position of power to commit murder and rape. The head scientist was even aware how quickly the experiment was escalating, he just chose to ignore it For Science!.
  • In Simon Braun's The Greatest Movies You'll Never See, Jerry Lewis' The Day the Clown Cried is described this way. Put in simple terms, Lewis had told the producer who offered him the project that he wasn't the right person for it, and then he made the movie and proved it.

  • The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. No one knows for sure where such weird plants came from. But they produce high-quality oil and that's what matters, Just Think of the Potential! Of course, the oil's even better if their deadly stings are left intact, but simple safety measures are enough, right? And yes, that meteorite shower is... strange, but all the more reason that we cannot miss such an opportunity! Let's all go and look! Right?.. It's only natural... Wait, we just became hapless food for plants?
  • John Wyndham's Trouble With Lichen averts this by having the chief scientist and the researcher who semi-stole the discovery anticipating the problems before they start.
  • In The City and the Stars, by Arthur C. Clarke, the hyperadvanced galactic civilization of the far future sets out to create a fully disembodied intellect so as to create a being that may comprehend the universe without the defining bias of physical form, which it hopes will be its crowning achievement in a galaxy it no longer feels challenged by. They succeed, but the first attempt creates the Mad Mind, which is vast and powerful, but, alas, as the name suggests, quite insane. The galactic civilization eventually wins the subsequent war to contain the Mad Mind, but at the cost of widespread galactic-scale devastation, with most of the Milky Way's stars blown up or prematurely aged by the conflict's end.
    • Even though tired beyond measure by this ordeal, the galactic civilization tries again and this time succeeds, creating Vanamonde, a similar intellect that is sane and friendly. It is suggested that Vanamonde's ultimate destiny is to battle the Mad Mind, at the end of time when the prison containing it fails.
  • Michael Crichton made his living writing novels about science that Goes Horribly Wrong.
    • With the exception of Next, where Science does reasonably fine, except for a few cases of rapidly aging a couple of drug addicts that it managed to cure anyway (there were 5, at most). It's greed that goes horribly, horribly wrong.
      • Also The Great Train Robbery, which is basically a Victorian caper story.
  • Downplayed and parodied in Mikhail Bulgakov's short story, "Heart of a Dog". The protagonist, Professor Preobrazhensky, experiments in the area of transplantation of animal organs to humans and vice versa, with the purpose of rejuvenation. His final experiment is transplanting a human's pituitary gland to the brain of a stray dog, which is adopted by him at the start of the story. The reader expects that the experiment will lead to the creation of a violent and homicidal mutant, but it's not true, the experiment's results are completely safe to humanity: just a short and hair-covered homunculus, who is almost as intelligent as a human. What's the catch? Well, the pituitary belonged to a persistent criminal and alcoholic, and the resulting hybrid personified the worst qualities of both humans and dogs - a heavy-drinking, lazy, violent thug, who is also pathologically cruel and sadistic to stray animals, especially to cats, due to his dog origins. He also sexually harasses Preobrazhensky's female servants and steals money from him. At the end, Sharikov (that's the homunculus's surname, which is taken from the dog's nickname "Sharik") becomes so annoying and cruel, Preobrazensky's assistant Dr. Bormental strangles Sharikov almost to death, then they remove the pituitary gland from his brain, and he becomes the dog again.
  • Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters by Gerry Davis and Kit Pedler. Look, we really need to do something with all that plastic junk anyway. Look how many things are made of plastics. So why couldn't microbiologists conduct some experiments privately? After all, little buggers eat only freakin' plastic, so even if some strain could go loose it's still completely safe, right? At worst, they'll eat... Oh. By the way, if low-oxygen organics decay, what can we get as a result?
  • In The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov aliens help humanity build the source of clean unlimited power which will, unfortunately, blow up the sun.
  • Striking Steel by Lukins. Defend your planet with a replicating anti-personnel complex! This metal hive's mini-rockets shred anything its radar sees moving: small arms, aircraft or shuttle, can even incapacitate armored vehicles. Then little robots collect the scraps and grow thousands of new complexes — no extra burden for your war-torn industry. They have proper communication and Friend-or-Foe, so you can keep them away from your troops and objects, but it's very secure, don't fear they will be hacked, in this you're ahead of the enemy. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Accumulation of their tolerable limits with copying, for once. Especially in the radio resonators of Friend-or-Foe and control. Three generations, and you're in Death World. And the time for Wi-Fi hacking is just too limited when all this Reverse Shrapnel rips your antennae.
  • A rare example of sociology going horribly wrong is Joe Haldeman's The Forever War. Instead of conscripting all the stupid people into the army, The Government conscripts all the smart and fit people for military service. Needless to say, things go horribly wrong on Earth soon afterwards.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Crosscurrent, involved an old Imperial experiment to create Force-sensitive clones by combining the DNA of various Jedi and Sith. Suffice to say that the result involved gratuitous amounts of human sacrifice and cannibalism.
    • Pretty much any attempt to clone Force-sensitives end up with insane Force-powered clones. It's speculated in universe that this is due to the Force itself rejecting or being confused by these strange beings.
    • Well before Galaxy of Fear, two scientists were performing experiments on the nature of life on Kiva, since the Kivans had offered to host them. Gog knew that the latest experiment would backfire and create a World-Wrecking Wave that destroyed all life on Kiva, but he convinced the other that it was safe. The other - Mammon Hoole - was utterly horrified by the result and blamed himself. So to Mammon it was this trope, to Gog it went exactly as he'd been hoping.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: In A Feast for Crows, Cersei's plot with Lady Falyse Stokeworth to have Bronn die in a hunting accident ends with a beaten and bloodied Lady Stokeworth showing up at the Red Keep in the middle of the night alone and demanding to be let in to see Cersei immediately. When she doesnote , she tells the queen that instead of arranging the accident, her husband insisted on facing Bronn in single combat instead, which he lost, whereupon Bronn took over the castle and gained the loyalty of her husband's men almost instantly.
  • The First Contact on Rakhat in The Sparrow. About half the book is flashbacks to the events that led up to the mission; the other half is the "present day," when the damaged remains of the crew come back to tell the story.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Wings of Fire, the Night Stalkers were supposed to only go into Libya to destroy some missiles. Then Paul dies in the process of stopping the missiles and Wendy goes missing fending off a Libyan retaliation.
    • In Executive Intent, a Kill Sat is used in an attempt to destroy a bunch of terrorists and the missiles they hijacked. It misses and kills many civilians. Things get worse from there.
  • In Carpe Jugulum, the vampires try to get Acquired Poison Immunity to various vampire weaknesses by constant exposure to them, included a wide variety of holy symbols. Unfortunately, when their will breaks, they start seeing holy symbols everywhere.
  • In John Brunner's book The Dramaturges of Yan, a race of lonely aliens decided to convert their planet into a spaceship, using the rotary force of the planet's moon. Guess what: It shattered When they get a chance, they try again. It gets worse: This time the planet is destroyed.
  • Distant Rainbow by the Strugatski Brothers: Rainbow is the name of a lush planet which is used for experiments with teleportation. But one day the experiments create the Deadly Wave, which begins to consume all organics on the planet from poles onwards, dooming it.
  • In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series one man's plan to seal away the Dark One ends up causing every man who uses magic to go horribly insane and rot while still alive. This continues indefinitely into the future as well... until the Dragon Reborn, our protagonist, restores the magic to its prior purity.
    • An even more extreme example in the same series happens before this, when all the trouble began when the greatest magic users in history discover a new and amazing source of power, without realizing that they are tapping into the Dark One's prison, thus unleashing Sealed Evil in a Can and destroying civilization.
  • In Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space universe, while the origin of Greenfly is never explicitly revealed, it's strongly implied to have originated as some ancient race's (or distant future humans'... don't ask) terraforming device of sorts (as the artificial planetoids it transforms all planetary matter into are technically habitable).
  • The Rising and City Of The Dead: let's just run this particle accelerator and...oops, looks like we found the Sealed Evil in a Can that will wipe out our species with a Zombie Apocalypse. Joy.
  • In the children's book Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer and P.D. Eastman, a boy is instructed to feed his goldfish only a certain amount of food, and no more. But the goldfish still looks hungry, so he gives him a little more, and then the fish starts growing and growing.
  • In Coda, the music started as ways to calm people after the war, as medications were in rare supply. Then the people in power got hold of it...
  • In The Stand, the U.S. Army should have expected that trying to design a killer virus as a biological weapon would probably go wrong. But, they didn't, and it escaped...
  • In Animal Farm, the theory of Animalism compared to what it became in practise. This, of course, parallels Communism perfectly.
  • Wild Cards: The Wild Card virus was invented by psychic aliens in order to give themselves superpowers and an advantage over rival houses. They decided to test it on humans (due to the strange coincidence of humans and Takisans being physiologically near-identical). After it was released, it was discovered that ninety percent of victims "drew the Black Queen" (mutating so horrifically they died in minutes), nine percent "drew the joker" (mutating but surviving), and one percent "drew the ace" (remaining physically unchanged but gaining superpowers). This made the virus absolutely worthless as a method of improving themselves, as a one percent success rate is too low for even the most amoral person to use on their own people. It also made it worthless as a weapon, since one percent success is too high to use on your enemies.
  • In The Mortal Instruments there is Jonathan Morgenstern. Valentin wanted to create a nephilim, who is also partially a demon, to create a whole new kind of shadowhunters. And although Jonahthan was much stronger, faster, and more resilient than the other nephilim, he had been corrupted to evil by the demonic blood.
  • Given a heartwarming twist in the short story The Battle of Newhaven by Rob Davidoff and Miranda Gavrin. One of the factions of an interstellar war developed a computer virus intended to allow the guidance protocols of the enemy's missiles to rapidly self-modify their programming in hopes that this will make them miss, and decide that detonating their warheads would be a net loss. The missile salvo it's used on achieves sapience instead, and negotiates a ceasefire between the two human space nations.
  • The Arts of Dark and Light: The Savondir state wizards' experiment in controlling a red dragon with a partially reverse-engineered elvish spell, ultimately aiming to create their own flying corps to match and surpass that of the elves. Rather than controlling the dragon, however, the spell enrages it instead, and it kills a large number of wizards and partially destroys their central Academy.
  • Ice-9, from Kurt Vonnegut in Player Piano. The Marines want a chemical that turns water into a solid at room temperature so they can cross swamps and rivers. Unfortunately, it converts all water it touches- everywhere on Earth. .

    Live-Action TV 
  • This trope is used in a light, funny way in the episode of The Big Bang Theory entitled "The Vengeance Formulation". To get back at Kripke for humiliating him on NPR, Sheldon devises a scheme. He concocts a solution with the help of Leonard and Raj that has the ability to slowly expand and get all foamy, and puts some in the ceiling tiles of Kripke's office. However, the plan goes horribly wrong when Kripke enters his office accompanied by the president of the university and the board of directors. The foam breaks through the ceiling and drenches all of them. It goes From Bad to Worse when a pre-made video of Sheldon gloating evilly comes on Kripke's monitor, so the bigwigs now all know that he did it. He also names Leonard and Raj as accomplices.
  • Pretty much all science on Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the possible exception of Warren's robots. Whether it's mutant steroid fish men, demonic Frankensteinian cyborgs, the animated dead looking for a girlfriend, or just the plan to collect the school library info on a database, if it's on the Hellmouth it will work and then start killing people.
  • Doctor Who has naturally dabbled in this:
    • "Inferno": A scientist team attempts to drill through the Earth's crust to access an energy pocket to be used for fuel, but the pocket happens to come with nasty side-effects; namely a toxic slime that reduces humans to primitive ape-men and a colossal volcanic explosion that will roast the entire planet. The story mostly takes place in a parallel universe, so we get to see the Earth (well, a fascist-controlled version of it, but Earth nonetheless) get destroyed in real-time with loving detail. Thankfully the Doctor was able to stop it before the cataclysm came to pass in his world.
    • "The Lazarus Experiment" has an interesting example that may also qualify as Gone Horribly Right: When Professor Richard Lazarus tests a rejuvenation machine that works by reprogramming DNA and commanding it to rejuvenate, he achieves his goal of becoming younger, but accidentally activates some dormant "junk" DNA, turning him into a life-draining monster. However, Lazarus isn't bothered by the change, considering it necessary to be able to possess the extended lifespan he wants.
  • In the Dollhouse episode "Omega" has Alpha's plan to turn Echo into another Alpha by causing her to undergo a composite event go horribly wrong... for Alpha. Since the bulk of Echo's imprints were good guys, Composite!Echo is a moral person, and turns against Alpha. From the perspective of everyone else, the experiment went horribly right.
    • Actually, it's made pretty clear that it's not the whole "bulk of the imprints" thing - it's who they were originally. Alpha was originally a serial-killer-in-training so he of course was evil, whereas Echo was (mainly) a good person back then so she was good. In the future, Alpha's good imprints have eventually turned him into a good person and he's scared of turning back to who he originally was.
    • "Epitaph One" is a bonus episode set in a future where everything has gone horribly horribly wrong.
  • Game of Thrones: Tywin's first lesson to Tommen about being king is wisdom, specifically the wisdom to know when someone else knows more than you do. This is a not-so-subtle attempt by Tywin to set himself up as the power behind the throne. However, Tywin dies not long after, so the indecisive Tommen is left with people who only want to manipulate him for their own gain including Margaery, making him an even bigger Puppet King than his brother. As a result of the machinations of the High Sparrow and his Stupid Evil mother, King's Landing is well on its way to becoming a theocracy, with Tommen having been easily conned into enabling it because no one has taught him to stand up for himself. Cersei ended up flipping the entire table on this gambit gone wrong by simply detonating the entire Sept with everyone in it, making it a non-issue. Granted, it also made Tommen a non-issue, which may count on its own.
  • The entire premise of The Goes Wrong Show. Every "play" is ruined from the start from botched lines to missed cues, sets falling apart, props failing to work and so much more with the actors having to handle it all.
  • The Incredible Hulk (1977):
    "Doctor David Banner: physician, scientist; searching for a way to tap into the hidden strengths that all humans have. Then an accidental overdose of gamma radiation alters his body chemistry."
  • Kamen Rider Build has Japan uncovering an artifact on Mars that they aptly named Pandora's Box. Much like the mythical box, one person opening it led to numerous problems, such as the people who were at the box at the time of opening having their personalities getting warped, a large wall erecting that split Japan into three, and a strange gas that, when inhaled by a person, can turn them into monsters.
  • Lost: The DHARMA Initiative has gone horribly wrong at least once, with "the incident" that necessitated pushing the button every 108 minutes. (The demise of most DHARMA members may count, too, after we find out the whole story.)
  • In Smallville, let's just say that literally every last one of Lex Luthor's experiments have Gone Horribly Wrong.
    • "Truth": A truth serum that almost gets Chloe killed. Twice.
    • "Onyx": Messing with lasers and green kryptonite leads to the creation of black kryptonite, which splits Lex into good and evil Lexes.
    • "Power": A suit of sorts that bestows Physical Godhood is stolen by Lana.
  • This seems to be humanity's hat in Space: Above and Beyond. Create a race of androids to be slaves? Congratulations, you get a Robot War. Create a race of Gattaca Babies to fight the androids and get, at best, Teeth-Clenched Teamwork. You could be forgiven for thinking humanity is the villain faction in this show.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series has the episode "The City on the Edge of Forever", where in an alternate timeline, the survival of Edith Keeler led to an influential peace movement which later delayed US entry into WWII, resulting in Adolf Hitler winning the war and the Space Age never happening. Everyone else in the galaxy is presumably screwed, too, as there is now no Jonathan Archer to stop the Sphere Builders.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation examples include "Half a Life" (they attempt to revitalise a star, and instead it goes supernova) and "New Ground" (they test a "soliton wave", which will allow ships a warp without a need for a warp drive, but it destroys the test ship and threatens to destroy the target planet as well).
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has the "Jack Pack", a group of augmented humans who possess intelligence far greater than the average human. Unfortunately, their augmentations caused various degrees of severe psychological side-effects: one member is a fast-talking short-tempered sociopath, one is an adult with the mentality of a five-year-old child, one is sexually uninhibited, and one possesses a mind that processes information faster than she's able to take it in, leaving her practically catatonic from the imbalance. Only the last of the four is correctable (by speeding up her visual and auditory inputs to match her processing speed), and that requires a massive experimental procedure.
  • Many of the funniest moments of Whose Line Is It Anyway? happen when a game goes terribly wrong. Such as Wayne's H-O-R-W-A-R-D song, Ryan breaking the light on Drew's desk with his head, and the legendary "Quacking Elephants" sound effect game. Or Ryan Stiles eating an entire tin of Altoids mints as a joke after a sketch ended. (Colin Mochrie had given him a quick kiss as part of the prior sketch.) It didn't take long for him to realize what a really bad idea it was.
  • The X-Files is proof positive that you should not let scientists anywhere near a laboratory without very strict supervision by a non-governmental agency.

  • "Barrett's Privateers" by Stan Rogers: The singer's character is convinced by the lure of easy fortune to join a privateer ship whose condition is somewhat less than perfect even before departure. Three months of deterioration are described in awful detail and only then do they engage their first target, which turns out to be armed far more heavily than they are. It all ends horribly, with only a single crippled survivor.
  • Sting's "Something the Boy Said". At the end of the song, all the characters who started out so blithely and fearlessly are dead except for the singer and even he is too terrified to look behind him as he leaves the scene of the disaster, in case he sees his own corpse.
  • The US Army paratroopers' song "Blood on the Risers". The young paratrooper readies for his first jump and does everything right except for checking his static line (the line attached to the airplane itself which releases the main parachute automatically). Normally a reserve parachute is used should the main parachute fail. The trooper falls in a bad position, deploys his reserve parachute in panic, gets tangled, and bounces. "To bounce" is skydivers' lingo, meaning "to land at unsurvivable speed". The rest is best left to the reader's imagination. "Risers" are the four straps which connect the parachute lines to the harness.
  • 10cc's song "Blackmail" is about a man capturing photos of a woman in an illicit relationship, threatening to tell the world and her husband all about it. The woman gets put in Playboy and, partly because her husband isn't as bothered as he probably should be, the blackmail attempt ends up making her a movie star.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, the Garbage Wrestling promotion, the wrestling promotion that has destroyed its own wrestling rings with explosives, finally came to a gimmick match to dangerous to finish in the May 6th, 1992 No Rope Barbed Wire Fire Death match featuring Atsushi Onita and Tarzan Tarzan Goto vs. The Sheik and Sabu. The wrestlers bolted from the ring as the ring itself started melting and the 60 year old Sheik was rushed to the hospital for third degree burns(but not before trying to see the match to the end from outside of the ring, berating Sabu for throwing water on him and preventing Sheik from throwing a fireball at the fleeing Onita and Goto). Such was this match's infamy that a disqualification was later declared in WWC when a fireball was thrown in one of Sabu's barbed wire matches.

    Puppet Shows 
  • On an episode of The Funday Pawpet Show, Simba is dared to eat an entire pack of the new Listermint breath strips when they were first introduced. Not a pretty sight.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Happens all the time in Genius: The Transgression. The number one cause is letting one of the Muggles touch your machinery. As these wonders don't really work on actual science, which gets imposed when this happens, this tends to drive them haywire instantly in many, many fun ways.
  • Each Lineage in Promethean: The Created started with one human trying to raise the dead for whatever reason - companionship, curiosity, slavery - and getting bitten hard in the ass by this trope. Prometheans themselves can fall prey to this trope, as they need to produce another Promethean in order to complete their Pilgrimage — and if they screw it up, they spawn a number of Pandorans that will turn on them and try to eat them alive.
  • Happens every now and then in the backstory of Warhammer 40,000. Not infrequently, the result is the Imperium destroying the planet where it has gone wrong.
    • Someone asked along the line why, 40,000 years in the future, the Imperium seems to not have any robots at all, at most an automated defense array or like that. Because, tens of thousands of years in "the past", they DID have robots all over the galaxy...until they decided they didn't want to be slaves any more and started a war that almost annihilated the human race and all but destroyed humanity's entire technological base. Thus started a ban that, millennia later, has been incorporated as sacred law into the tech-worshiping religion of the Mechanicum. That's basically the best case scenario when something goes wrong here.
  • Happens all the time in Ravenloft, where These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know seem to be a required course in any university science program.
  • Any given mission in Paranoia will inevitably go horribly wrong, as will all the experimental gadgets. In fact in Alpha Complex getting a new pair of boots can go horribly wrong. This is as it should be, as the universe runs on unleaded high-octane Rule of Funny.
  • Everything wrong with the universe in Mage: The Awakening is a result of someone lighting some blue touch paper he shouldn't have, and breaking the universe as a result. The False Awakening is a good example - it resulted from an impatient mage's attempt to force her Sleeper boyfriend to Awaken, and exists as a contagious form of twisted ascension that drives its bearers to destroy themselves and large chunks of the scenery. It can be cured by a true Awakening, but if these were easy to induce, there wouldn't be False Awakenings...
  • Pretty much the entire point of Fiasco.
  • How Florida got drowned in Trinity, as recounted in "America Offline": a young Aberrant (a superhuman) with power over the oceans was concerned about climate change in Florida, her home state, and attempted to stabilize the Gulf Stream. Unanticipated resonance resulted in massive ocean waves that killed millions of people, including the Aberrant herself.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Natalia and Noelia summoned the Steelswarm to fight the Fabled, but that backfired as Natalia lost her life.
    • Happened again when Avance tried to revive Emilia using the power of Photomirror/Soulmirror. The ritual turned Avance into the monstrous Levianima.
  • Rocket Age: The Planet Killer Rocket for the Ancient Martians. The mutated slug controlling Dr Ritterbach would count as another.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Implied to have been the cause of the Dwemer disappearing in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. The Dwemer were losing the war against the Chimer so they tried to tamper with the Heart of Lorkhan (the heart of a god) to grant their entire race divine powers and immortality. But the spell backfired and caused the entire race to break down to their base elements instead, causing the entire Dwemer people to seemingly vanish suddenly in mid-air. Or it could be the spell worked. Whatever the case, Vivec cannot sense the Dwemer in any plane of existence he knows of.
  • BioShock had an Objectivist Utopia under the sea go horribly wrong. Basically, the visionary behind it betrayed his own ideals and became a President Evil who went to war with The Mafia and eventually the whole city turned into One Nation Under Copyright. That, and a Psycho Serum that granted people superpowers caused everyone to go insane and develop a bad case of the Body Horror.
  • If you're going to make an MMORPG set in a Comic Books universe, you're probably contractually obligated to lampshade this at least once. City of Villains brings us Vernon von Grun, a card-carrying Mad Scientist who not only expects things to go wrong, he looks forward to it:
    This is terrible! Nothing bad is happening! We did everything perfectly, but something has gone wrong! My plans are all off-track. Mad science isn't supposed to go wrong like this! But the true test of a mad scientist is how much worse you can make things go wrong.
    • His "colleague" Doc Buzzsaw appears to be not so savvy:
      Oh, what has science wrought? I sought only to turn a man into a metal-encased juggernaut of destruction powered by the unknown properties of a mysterious living crystal. How could this have all gone wrong?
  • Halo: Keeping samples of the unstoppable parasitic lifeform you just wiped out all sentient life in the galaxy in an attempt to starve for study? Fine, if you lock them away in a secure installation. It's not your fault that thousands of years later, a bunch of Cargo Cult religious fanatics decided that it would be a good idea to rummage around the place, carefully ignoring your very indicative warning(s).
  • Chrono Trigger has everything start going bad with Lucca's teleporter experiment. In hindsight, though, that was probably preordained.
  • In Dead Space, pretty much anything EarthGov does with the Markers goes horribly wrong in the form of Necromorph outbreaks. They want to study the Markers due to the fact that the Markers seem to produce enormous amounts of energy, and humanity is in a bit of a resource crisis at the moment. They are aware of the risks of people going insane, scribbling on the walls, killing each other and causing Necromorph outbreaks, and they take precautions against such, but they inevitably fail...
  • STALKER: The backstory of the Zone: A group of Soviet scientists set out to cure mankind of violence, grief and greed by manipulating a psionic field around the Earth. Their experiment backfires and damages the psi field to a point where it breaches the physical plane and begins horribly warping the area around Chernobyl. And if that wasn't bad enough, it is heavily implied that the damage they caused is irrevocable, and the breach will continue to grow until the entire Earth is consumed by the Zone.
  • The plot of the Doom games has experiments in teleportation going horribly wrong due to the teleportation technology tapping into Hell itself, allowing the demons access to our dimension in the process and unleashing a plague of Hellspawn upon the moons of Mars. The Marines are called in to deal with the threat, and are wiped out except for one survivor who has to kill his way through the forces of Hell. And then, things get worse.
  • The Peak 15 facility on Noveria in Mass Effect was build to hold the queen of an insect species that once almost destroyed the whole galaxy and develop a method to directly control her brood. Not only did the part about controlling the brood didn't work out, the "holding the queen" part didn't work either. When asked a week later in the midst of a hideous disaster what Peak 15 was built for, the captain of the security guards doesn't seem too surprised:
    Captain Ventralis: Labs like these exist to do stupid crap that gets people killed.
    • It all seemed harmless... The Overlord experiment was anything but. Particularly for poor David Archer, the guy at the centre of the experiment.
    • This happens all the time with Cerberus. Most of their projects (almost all of which are massively amoral and unethical) tend to backfire horribly upon them. In the Citadel DLC of the third game, Joker lampshades how frequently this happens, with Shepard being an example.
      • This is known as the "Cerberus Taco Cart" theorem in the fandom (based on this Three Panel Soul page): any Cerberus project will eventually go rogue and kill all of their guys, usually taking over their base in the process. For a full list of failed projects, see the Cerberus section on this page.
    • Tali's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2: Tali had been sending deactivated geth parts to her father, Rael'Zorah, as part of an experiment with the intent of trying to figure out a way to control them. Unfortunately, when the geth parts were reconstructed into complete geth bodies and brought online, the geth proceeded to kill everyone onboard the ship where the experiment was conducted, including Rael.
    • The Leviathans created the Catalyst in an attempt to find a solution to the danger that organic life will inevitably create synthetic life, which will then destroy its creators. The Catalyst created the Reapers as a response.
  • In F.E.A.R., saying that things have Gone Horribly Wrong is a massive understatement. Harlan Wade, whose actions throughout the game's backstory very nearly propel him right past the Moral Event Horizon, should've known that having his psychic and batshit insane daughter impregnated and stealing her children away from her to engineer them into Super Soldiers wouldn't end well. And it doesn't, once Alma gets free.
  • Say it with me now: Final Fantasy VII. Contains both the "power source draining the planet's Life Energy" and "borked Supersoldier program" varieties.
    • And the whole "Let's make a materia that can destroy the entire world! Who'd misuse that?" turns out to be a subversion. While it seems insane, it turned out to be the best way to stop Jenova.
    • Final Fantasy VI also has the Supersoldier variety. Hey, two out of three non-Omnicidal Maniac Generals ain't so bad!
      • Leo wasn't part of the experiment. That gives it a 50% Omnicidal Maniac output.
      • And they learned how to do it right after they tried it on Kefka, anyway.
  • Wild ARMs 3 features the Council of Seven and their Yggdrasil system, which sought to produce nanomachine colonies to modulate the amount of nutrients and resources of their planet, Filgaia, to rejuvenate it, so it could restore the amount of life it once had on it. And guess what? The project worked. Right up until the scientists realized that Yggdrasil was sucking the planet dry of absolutely every life resource it possibly had.
  • In the Geneforge world, experiments go wrong so often that laboratories, workshops, and schools are designed with the expectation that this will happen sooner or later. Some are built on uninhabited islands, some are built underground, and some just rely on thick doors to seal the place off.
    • Which makes the Shapers the most sensible group on this page, since they know what they do is dangerous and try to control the experiments and consequences as much as possible. Almost all the strife and catastrophes in the series come from intentional misuse of Shaping.
    • And some of those Shapers contribute to making things worse. The Geneforge has a history of causing things to go horribly right, from Trajkov to the rise of the Ur-Drakons. Even the rebels most interested in applying its powers admit that it is as terrible as it is successful.
  • Half-Life:
    • Half-Life. A routine... whatever-it-was-they-were-trying-to-do procedure, but "Unforeseen Consequences" happen.
    • Half-Life 2: Episode Two reveals that actually everything went All According to Plan. Though we still have no idea what the GMan intended by goading the Combine to invade Earth and suffer a massive slave uprising 10 years later.
    • In the same universe, Portal's GLaDOS can be considered an experiment Gone Horribly Wrong. Or an experiment gone right. Look — there's no evidence GLaDOS failed as a de-icing system, and she is arguably alive.
  • In Quake IV every mission seem to do this first your drop ship get shot down nearly killing you,then the EMP bomb plan fails, then you get turned into a Strogg, then you get shot into battle in a flying coffin (drop pod) which crashes. Basically then entire game is a series of plans gone wrong that somehow works out in the end.
  • In TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, Jacob Crow's attempts at eternal life result in zombies and the Timesplitters.
  • Transarctica's backstory for the new Ice Age is "Operation Blind", a plan to cool global warming by kicking up dust with nuclear weapons at the poles.
  • System Shock: Let's just say that SHODAN wasn't designed to do what she did. SHODAN was messed with before things got worse, though.
  • Outpost 2: Eden's terraforming microbe was intended to break apart organic molecules and release oxygen to make New Terra into an earth-like planet in a single generation. Organic molecules like the ones in our bodies. Needless to say, it gets loose and starts eating everything on the planet.
  • In [PROTOTYPE], there were two virus-based experiments. One, Blacklight, was a case of Gone Horribly Right. The other, Redlight, which Blacklight was based upon, was more of a Gone Horribly Wrong. Among other things, instant Zombie Apocalypse as soon as the latter gets released. This is why you don't try to create ridiculously powerful bioweapons without off-switches, folks.
  • In Trauma Team, Albert Sartre's research into the Rosalia virus ultimately ended in an entire university becoming infected and dying, him going insane and murdering Rosalia before similarly succumbing, and ultimately a massive part of the US population becoming infected with the virus.
  • In Freelancer, it is implied that the massive Negative Space Wedgie nebula in the Texas system was caused by an incident at a jumpgate research laboratory. The details are unclear, but it can't have been pretty.
  • In Gauntlet: Legends and its re-release Dark Legacy, Garm attempts to summon the Demon King Skorne and use his power to usurp his older brother, Sumner, as the ruler of the Eight Realms. To do this, he requires the thirteen Runestones, but after a long time searching, Garm only manages to find twelve. Growing impatient, he goes ahead with the ritual anyways without the thirteenth Runestone, and manages to summon Skorne from the Underworld. Lacking the final Runestone, though, Skorne breaks free from Garm's control and crushes him to death, then proceeds to lay waste to the Realms.
    • Subverted in the true ending of Dark Legacy when Garm absorbs power from Skorne's remains to begin his own campaign to conquer the Realms.
  • In the Fallout series, most of the underground Vaults seemingly designed to spare the population were in fact huge-scale social experiments designed to test their residents in order to determine their suitability and effectiveness in the event of the populace escaping the war on starships. As the player character, you can locate and explore several of these vaults... most of which are abandoned, in ruins, littered with skeletal corpses and containing plenty of evidence to suggest that these experiments went very very badly wrong. Considering that the nature of most of these experiments took the form of sadistic and largely pointless psychological torture, this is not entirely surprising. And then there's the ones that had Gone Horribly Right instead...
  • Star Control II has several examples: first, the Slylandro Probes. The Slylandro meant to program the Probes to go out and make contact with other alien species, and in the meantime, self-replicate using nearby raw materials. They accidentally set the priority for "self-replicate" above "make contact", unfortunately, meaning that the Probes see everything as raw materials to be used in self-replicating (the Slylandro are horrified when they learn of this). The other example is the Mycon, a race of sentient fungi engineered by the Precursors as a terraforming system... that, due to several millenia of being left to its own devices with no input, now terraforms in reverse, seeking out fertile, beautiful planets and turning them into hellish firestorms in which to make more Mycon.
  • The Xel'Naga of Starcraft made the Protoss and the Zerg to make the next generation of Xel'Naga. The Protoss attacked them after they realized that the Protoss were diverging from the plan due to them revealing themselves, while the Zerg killed and ate them due to sabotage from a third party known as The Dark Voice.
  • Portal 2 halfway through the game introduces the origins of GLaDOS and how she became the overhead of Aperture Science. Cave Johnson had his secretary, Caroline, be uploaded to a computer should he die before he could be uploaded. Caroline didn't want this at all, but she was forced against her will and essentially became immortal and stuck running the facility forever as GLaDOS. She then proceeded to kill all the scientists that tried to control her and make test chambers full of death traps.
  • X-Universe:
    • This is the plot-triggering event of X: Beyond the Frontier. Your character is a test pilot of a prototype jumpdrive-equipped starship, Earth's first attempt at Faster-Than-Light Travel in nearly eight centuries. During the jump test, the jumpdrive goes haywire and locks onto the method used by the previous attempt, in other words the X-Universe jumpgate network. As the drive charges, you can hear the scientists yelling everything up to and including "Abort the jump test!" Then WHAM! Suddenly you're on the other side of the galaxy with most of your ship's systems shorted out, and to add insult to injury, within a few minutes, you're a few thousand credits in debt to the local Proud Merchant Race for making your ship able to fly again.
    • According to the backstory of the X-Universe, this is how the Xenon came into existence. Originally, the Terraformer fleets were doing their jobs perfectly well and weren't a danger to anyone, then humanity gave them a software patch which turned out to be bugged (or possibly sabotaged), and they immediately turned rogue and hostile, becoming the most dangerous force in the known universe. For added irony, the software patch that caused all this was meant to destroy the Terraformers; humanity had realized just how bad things would be if the Terraformers ever went out of control, and wanted to get rid of them before that could happen.
  • Concentration Room begins when a group of kids visiting their parents at a drug research facility are exposed to a botched batch of Truth Serum.
  • Halo 4's Spartan Ops lampshades this, with two missions in Episode 5 set one after the other titled 'Nothing Can Go Wrong' and 'Everything Has Gone Wrong'.
  • There's a sizeable one in the backstory of Hatoful Boyfriend. When humanity was devastated by a new flu strain and the population dropped by seventy percent in two years, scientists unleashed a virus to annihilate the birds that spread the flu. This killed many birds, but it uplifted the survivors, who promptly started to fight humanity. The end result is that the world is run by birds and humans are a tiny minority living in caves, and there are still agitators on both sides.
  • The portal that warps The Legions of Hell into Avencast: Rise of the Mage was opened by an experiment in dimensional travel. Subverted in that this was exactly the result intended by Meganteolis as a way to get back to the Kyranian relics and enslave Morgath.
  • Pokémon villains usually run into this at some stage, though the crowner has to be in Platinum, wherein Cyrus's plans managed to piss off this universe's equivalent of Satan, who stopped the world-remaking process, dragged Cyrus into a twisted dimension, and almost flat-out destroyed the planet instead of remaking it.
    • Sun and Moon have their own version, in which it turns out that fusing with an Eldritch Abomination called Nihil Ego has serious consequences for a person's mental and physical health. Lusamine has to go to Kanto to try to get the remains of the neurotoxin it left behind out of her!
  • In Fate/stay night the Heaven's Feel Ritual was created to produce wonders of magic for use by the three founding families. Due to the fact that it could only grant one wish every sixty years and required seven magi to power it, the collaborative effort of the families turned into the Holy Grail War where nobody got a wish. And this repeated for the next two centuries.
    • The corruption of the Grail also resulted from this when the Einzbern subverted the safety system of the Grail in a failed attempt to summon a god. This resulted the Grail being changed to grant wishes only in the most destructive manner possible while also creating a god of evil.
    • And then, it turned out a group of American mages copied the ritual imperfectly during the Third Holy Grail War and tried to implement it into early 21st century America. Since the original ritual was so complex and magnificent, lots of stuff just fell into the cracks, allowing for the summoning of homicidal Eldritch Abominations as Servants, the complete loss of the Saber template, and the start of two entirely different, simultaneous, Holy Grail Wars.
  • In Dark Souls, the first thing the Lords tried upon learning that the First Flame, the source of their power, was dying was to create a new Flame. The Witch of Izalith, the most learned in the ways of magic fires, attempted to do so. Well... she was successful in creating a new Flame, alright, but rather than a source of power and safety, it became known as the Flame of Chaos, corrupting anything it touched and giving birth to horrific demons. In Dark Souls 2, the creation of the Flame of Chaos is said to have been "the greatest sin ever committed", such that the Witch of Izalith's reincarnation willingly imprisoned and tortured herself for life in penance, despite not even having committed said sin in her own lifetime.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's 4: Oh, hey, let's prank my little brother who is totally scared of these animatronics by shoving his head inside Fredbear's mouth— Oh, shit, it just bit off part of\crushed his head.
  • On the path to Undertale's Golden Ending, you investigate the "True Lab", and the experiment with fallen-down monsters to attempt to preserve their SOULs after death by injecting them with Determination extracted from captured human SOULs. The monsters ended up actually getting back up, and looked to be good as new — technically a failure, but a happy outcome nonetheless. Then they all started melting, and their bodies fused together into the terrifying Amalgamates. The experimenter's notes also mention the disappearance of one early and apparently unresponsive test subject, known to the player as Flowey.
  • From Warframe, everything the Orokin Empire build ended up backfiring on them. This includes things they created to fix their previous messes. Let's see, in chronological order of project crashing down on them, how much of a staggering display of Genre Blindness they exhibited:
    • The Sentient. Meant to colonize another star system, ended up Turned Against Their Masters.
    • They created the Infestation to fight against the Sentient. Unsurprisingly, they lost control.
    • The Grineer genetically engineered Slave Race, which so far has been working pretty well, ended up being conscripted to fight both Sentients and Infested, and were generally treated like dirt. It unsurprisingly ended up in a mutiny since now they were the ones with the guns.
    • And the last nail in their coffin, the Tenno, child soldiers in Power Armor, who ended up turning against the Orokin by the Lotus, though they were also treated like dirt, bringing down the Orokin Empire for good.
  • With Path of Exile's Fall of Oriath expansion, this roughly explains the nature of The Beast. Created by Sin to stifle the Gods from terrorizing humanity, it was created without any ambition which was great for resisting their temptations until humans came along and provided that missing piece and then used it as a weapon to terrorize each other.
  • At the end of Bayonetta 2's prologue, the titular protagonist summons a massive demon to pull off a Climax attack against a boss angel, much like how most boss fights end in the first game. Unfortunately, about a second after the demon retreats into the portal it came from, it then pops back out and turns against Bayonetta and Jeanne, knocking the latter's soul out of her body and dragging said soul to Hell and turns into the actual endboss of the prologue. Afterwards, Bayonetta spends much of the game journeying to Infero in order to rescue Jeanne's soul.
  • In Dead Rising it's revealed that an American company conducted a number of experiments near Santa Cabeza to develop a cow that could produce more meat to meet the demand of American consumers. Unfortunately the end results were that a number of wasps that carried the pheromone meant for the cows escaped the enclosures, infected a number of locals, and it led to a Zombie Apocalypse in Santa Cabeza. Deemed a colossal failure, the U.S. government helped the company cover the whole thing up. Later, during the game's story line, the Zombie Apocalypse that befell Willamette, Colorado was because Carlito Keyes, a survivor of Santa Cabeza, managed to bring some wasps into the U.S. as payback for his homeland.
  • In Mogeko Castle the Mogekos create Moge-ko with the intention of creating the perfect little girl, presumably to rape, but they messed up the recipe, and ended up creating a cute girl who not only rapes the Mogekos, but also torture them and eating their corpses.

  • The Good Witch: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? when you give magic powers to a trans girl who's bullied by apparently everyone in town? Her turning into a psychopath in a "magical girl inheritance" trope gone awry.
  • Pretty much anytime Riff begins playing around with Time Travel or dimensional portals in Sluggy Freelance, things go horribly wrong fast.
  • Many of the spells Anne performs in The Wotch (There's a whole arc titled "Consequences".) Cassie too, even the most innocent situations seem to have these problems.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Damien was created as an attempt to cheat a vague prophecy by fulfilling it in controlled circumstances — presumably, no survivors.
    • "Every properly trained wizard has heard of Abraham, the idiot apprentice who recklessly enchanted a massive diamond instead of selling it to pay someone more skilled to fix his cursed noble friend."
  • Happens about as often as one would expect in Girl Genius, given its mad science setting. Sometimes inverted, as some Mad Scientists will have their plan to take over the world go horrible wrong, resulting in them becoming happy well-adjusted individuals that are content to be lab assistants.
  • The Order of the Stick: Turning Xykon into a lich went very too well, but it was also partially done to give Redcloak some leverage on Xykon. That part of the plan... didn't work. At all well.
  • Homestuck: Jade gave John four Infinity Plus One Swords attached to an Infinity Plus One Bunny for his birthday. She didn't count on it falling into the hands of Jack Noir, giving him the firepower to become The Starscream and promptly tear their Sburb session to shreds. And that's just the beginning of what led to their game session becoming unwinnable.
  • In Luminary Children, people tried to improve humanity by undoing mistakes in history with time travel. It went terribly wrong.
  • In Stand Still, Stay Silent, attempts to find a cure or vaccine to the Rash have been this, with humanity only finding products that cause quite unpleasant side effects and even the solution found Just Before the End killing people despite curing the disease, and making them into murderous ghosts without the people using it noticing due to the lack of mages at the time.

    Web Original 
  • Lots of Whateley Universe examples, but how about the Russian program to create a nanotechnology Supersoldier? The best iteration had one functional survivor... who melted into goo a year later.
    • Or how about the bioengineering mad scientist who was found on a personal military submarine... or, rather, the people searching that submarine found around a dozen or two protozoan monstrosities, and no trace of the crew.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: This is what happens when the main characters try to fix things. Also, the backstory is portrayed as this.
    Shadi: But then something go horribly wrong.
  • Lampshaded in MSF High Forum, as Michelle quotes it word for word. "If I'm in hand-to-hand combat, things have gone horribly wrong."
  • In Episode 666 of Bowser's Kingdom, Geno believes that the Zombie Apocalypse occurred because of the Parasol Corporation's attempts to create an unbreakable umbrella.
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, the Emperor considers the Imperium in its current state this trope writ large. He believes that Malcador's Marines Errant turning into the Inquisition are also this. He's pretty much right.
  • Starwalker: The star step drive has the unfortunate consequence of destroying stars and, by implication, entire systems.
  • The Onion: What Kind Of Powdered Chocolate Drink Mix Have We Unleashed Upon The World?
  • Uno: The Movie is a Let's Play by Achievement Hunter with the idea of using the points system so that they would play to 500 points. It took nearly three hours to finish.
  • In the sequel series to Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72, an attempted American invasion of Cuba ends up a complete fiasco thanks to President Donald Rumsfeld's insistence on hiring Private Military Contractors. Highlights include Special Forces remaining behind because their transports aren't insured by the Pentagon, a missile from an F-16 dropping like a lead weight and then locking onto the plane that fired it, body armor so worthless that soldiers just discard it in the middle of battle, a rifle that jams worse than the Vietnam-era M16, you name it. The situation is so bad that Soviet leader Nikolai Ryzhkov initially believes the intelligence reports to be propaganda by the KGB until it's confirmed by President Mitterand.
  • The group's decision to kill Zombie Pigmen in an effort to get more Wither Skeletons to spawn in PBG Hardcore Minecraft #2 ends up backfiring horribly, resulting in the deaths of two of the remaining three players, with Barry only surviving due to a conveniently-timed crash.
  • RWBY: During the Faunus Wars, the humans were doing well enough and had vastly superior numbers — until the Battle of Fort Castle. That battle was led by the inexperienced General Lagune, who decided to use his superior numbers to attack the Faunus at night and achieve a decisive victory. However, he didn't realise that most Faunus can see perfectly at night. He did achieve a decisive victory — for the Faunus. He was captured and is now remembered in history classes as an aesop about the consequences of lack of knowledge and research.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time has Princess Bubblegum and her Frankenstein's Idiot, Lemongrab. She created him in her laboratory as the heir to the throne, in case something happened to her. Well... he didn't turn out as planned. Instead of a proper, reasonable heir, she ended up with a screaming, brain-damaged, mentally challenged sourpuss with a pathological obsession with sending people to the dungeon. She stuck him in a castle outside of the kingdom, but he came back when she was transformed into a child, as she was "too young" to rule the kingdom. He ended up screaming at everybody and sending all of the candy people to the dungeon for one million years. All of this because something went wrong with that life serum...
    • Goliad is an even worse example. A candy sphinx created by Princess Bubblegum with her own DNA to lead the kingdom as an undying ruler to succeed her upon her death, she easily becomes corrupted due to following Finn and Jake's inept teachings in ruling. Without the timely intervention of the Princess's more successful experiment, Stormo (created from Finn's heroic DNA), she could have easily destroyed the entire kingdom with her psychic powers.
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: Dr. Robotnik planned for his Co-Dragons, Scratch and Grounder, to be hyper-competent Super Soldiers who could easily defeat Sonic. Instead, he got the exact opposite: two Lethally Stupid clowns who Sonic regularly outsmarts and runs circles around.
  • American Dad! has "Project Daycare," an experiment mentioned in "Haylias" that had CIA agents put their children to undergo severe training and brainwashing to turn them into powerful sleeper agents that will be activated by a phrase only used by the parent; however, should the child remain activated for more than seven days, they'll immediately turn against their handler/parent and kill him. Unfortunately, Stan, who had subjected Hayley to this, was Locked Out of the Loop in regards to this and assumed that the project was discontinued simply because the children lost their free will permanently after seven days; he only finds out the truth after missing the deadline.
  • Dr. Weird from the openers of the first two seasons of Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
  • Beast Wars, Scorponok hits Optimus Primal with a cyberbee designed to turn him into a coward. Unfortunately, Scorponok is an incompetent scientist and instead turns Optimus into a crazed berserker who, by the end of the episode, tears through the Pred base with ease.
    • Rampage was an attempt to replicate the immortal spark of Starscream. While that part was successful, Rampage was also driven completely nuts. And almost unstoppable. He broke out, and brutalized, massacred, and ate his way through several Cybertronian colonies before he was finally stopped.
    • An inversion when the Predacons infect Rhinox with a virus intended to make him into a Predacon (basically, it removed any inhibitions and gave him tons of ambition). Optimus, a good friend of Rhinox, immediately realizes what will happen and simply sits back to watch the fireworks. In a matter of days, Rhinox uses his genius-level intelligence and newfound ambition to subvert the Predacons from within and is an inch away from getting rid of Megatron. Luckily (for the Predacons), the Maximals find him and turn him back.
  • Beavis And Butthead: In one episode, a student creates a computer program to try and raiee his intelligence by 20%. It backfires when Beavis trips and accidentally unplugs the computer's extension cords midway through the experiment, causing the boy's intelligence to drop down to a level where he thinks the capital of France is Jupiter and 1 + 1 = 37.
  • Ernest Le Vampire: Simple household tasks would end this way, usually in "vacuum cleaning leads to the house burning down" kind of way, or a "picking up a can leads to the house collapsing" kind of way. Fortunately every episode was a nightmare.
  • The underlying premise of the 90's cartoon Exo Squad was that, in an effort to terraform Mars and Venus, humanity genetically engineered a race called "Neo-sapiens" that were bigger, stronger, and more durable in pretty much every conceivable way... and used them as slave labor. Nope, can't see any way that could go wrong. Luckily, they're sterile. And can collapse into a pile of mush. Yay, science.
  • The Nanites in Generator Rex were created to improve life on Earth and the human condition. Then something happened at the primary Nanite research facility that released a batch of Nanites with incomplete programming, infecting every living thing on Earth. Now every living thing on Earth, from people to bunny rabbits, has a chance of spontaneously mutating into a horrible monster at any moment with little, if any, warning.
  • Invader Zim episode "Big Bad Rubber Piggy" has Zim try to use a time machine to erase Dib from existence. Because the time portal will only allow rubber piggies, Zim uses them to put past Dib in painful situations. Eventually, Dib becomes so physically malformed that Professor Membrane gives him an exoskeleton that grants him the power of "Ten THOUSAND LITTLE BOYS!!" The result is a super-strong and weaponized Dib rampaging through Zim's base, and each piggy sent in from there just makes Dib stronger.
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "The Invisible Monster". Dr. Isaiah Norman's experiment gets away from him and creates a mass of energy that exists only to feed on other energy - including living things.
  • ReBoot: Wellman Matrix was just trying to find other systems and create a doorway to them through his experimental stargate. Unfortunately the targeting scanners locked onto Killobyte in the Super Computer and transported him to the stargate and overloaded it. This triggered a massive explosion that obliterated Mainframe's twin city and spawned Megabyte and Hexadecimal in the process.
  • Steven Universe:
    • When (post Sanity Slippage) Jasper is getting her butt kicked by Smoky Quartz she attempts to get stronger by Fusing with a Corrupted Gem. Unfortunately, it turns out that The Corruption is contagious...
    • As it turns out, the entirety of the Crystal Gem Rebellion was this. Pink Diamond, hoping to save Earth and its inhabitants from the inevitable destruction of Gem colonization, invented the persona of "Rose Quartz" and started a revolt against her own rule. Rather than accept the Rebellion as cause to abandon Earth, however, Pink's fellow Diamonds effectively told her to suck it up and take charge. Pink interpreted their words to mean that without her, the colonization would end, and faked her death at the hands of Rose Quartz (or rather, Pearl taking the form of Rose Quartz). Unfortunately, she drastically underestimated how much the Diamonds cared for one of their own: Blue, Yellow and White withdrew all Homeworld forces from Earth, but they also unleashed a Fantastic Nuke that inflicted a Fate Worse than Death on every remaining gem as retribution... Which itself is also an example: The Diamonds had no idea what the attack would do, and assumed that it would simply destroy the gems on Earth, but Pink wasn't there when it happened, so the effects were much different.
  • In The Tick, a scientist tries to genetically engineer the perfect Non-Ironic Clown. The only surviving hatchling (yes the clowns hatched from eggs) became the monstrous hulking superpowered Proto-Clown who quickly goes on a city wrecking rampage. He does manage to fulfill his intended purpose at the same time: his rubber nose's squeaking immediately makes people laugh. Unfortunately, the Proto-Clown hates it when people laugh at him. His city wrecking rampage was triggered by his creator laughing at him, and the attempted Cooldown Hug fails when his nose squeaks and everyone laughs.
  • In Transformers: Prime, Megatron views the revival of the Predacons as this when the powerful dragon Predacon he initially viewed as a success reveals that he is sapient and can transform like any other Cybertronian. Megatron is especially disturbed when the Predacon names himself "Predaking" and asks that Megatron give him command over all of the other soon to be revived Predacons. Megatron wanted an army of mindless Attack Animals, not another potential Starscream (who unlike Starscream himself is fully capable of kicking Megatron's ass) with his own army. Megatron decides the risks are too great and has the project scrapped.
  • Wallace & Gromit: In "The Wrong Trousers", the titular trousers (a set of robotic legs) were bought so Wallace could walk Gromit with zero effort. However they are used by their new lodger and through some convoluted circumstances, to hijack Wallace and have him rob a museum of a diamond.
    Wallace: They're the wrong trousers Gromit! And they've gone wrong!
  • We Bare Bears plays this for laughs. Ice Bear's tinkering with robots has gotten his brother chased up a tree by a homicidal Roomba, and later resulted in a robot bear rampaging through San Francisco.

Alternative Title(s): Go Horribly Wrong, Goes Horribly Wrong, Went Horribly Wrong


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