Follow TV Tropes


Playing With / Failure Is the Only Option

Go To

Basic Trope: No matter what one does, one cannot achieve one's ultimate goal.

  • Straight: Bob is the owner of a small bakery. He wants his bakery to be the best around but success eludes him.
  • Exaggerated: In spite of all his efforts, Bob's bakery is just too pitiful for words, so nobody bothers to come.
  • Downplayed: Bob is okay with the way his business is going, but he's slightly disappointed because it doesn't live up to his highest expectations.
  • Justified:
    • Bob isn't a very good baker at all, despite his desire to have a great bakery.
    • Alternatively, although Bob's a very good baker, his little bakery is overshadowed by a large chain bakery not far away.
  • Inverted:
    • Bob almost immediately succeeds at running a successful bakery.
    • Springtime for Hitler: Bob was trying to make an awful bakery, but it ends up successful anyway.
  • Subverted: It seems like Bob is going to give up on his dream...then a local newspaper writes up his cakes, which causes a huge influx of business. He eventually succeeds.
  • Double Subverted: However, the new popularity of his cakes causes the customers to have the opinion that It's Popular, Now It Sucks!, so he ends up right where he started.
  • Parodied: Bob has no idea how to bake, run a business, or even how to work a cash register. He still wants to have the best bakery in the world.
  • Advertisement:
  • Zig Zagged: A successful marketing campaign causes an influx of new customers, who in turn decides that his bakery is popular, so it now must suck. But this doesn't stop him from still getting new customers in the door.
  • Averted: Bob's goal is vague enough to where he can succeed at it.
  • Enforced: "If Bob achieves his goal of having the world's best bakery, this series as we know it would end! We can't have that!"
  • Lampshaded:
    • "Why is it that every time I try to get the word out, I fail somehow?"
    • "Man, I can't do anything right."
  • Invoked: Bob is a great baker; however, he has very little business sense.
  • Exploited: Bob manages to find a way to use his bad luck to destroy other people's businesses.
  • Defied: Bob plans all the facets of running a bakery as soon as he starts up.
  • Discussed:
  • Conversed: "Oops! Bob's trying to succeed again in this episode."
  • Implied: Bob announces he wants to start the world's best bakery. In his next appearance, someone asks him about his bakery. He tells them to shut up.
  • Deconstructed:
    • Bob never achieves his goal of having the best bakery around. The inevitable failure takes its toll on him, causing him to develop into a bitter, unhappy shell of a man.
    • Alternatively, Bob quits.
  • Reconstructed: Bob revisits his goals and resets his parameters. He decides that it's OK as long as he has a good bakery, even if it's not the best, which makes him much happier and takes undue stress off of him.
  • Played For Laughs: Bob is a complete Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist and all of his failures wind up with him on the receiving end of the Amusing Injuries stick.
  • Played For Drama: Bob's failures make him wind up deeper and deeper in debt and before long he loses his home.
  • Played for Confusion: Alice pregnant with Charlie's child. She wants her child to be born healthy, but it neither dies nor even gets born at all.

You'll never be able to get back to Failure Is the Only Option.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: