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  • The Sokal affair was a watershed moment in academia when physics professor Alan Sokal got a whole bunch of gibberish published in a real academic journal. Sokal, alarmed at the academic world's increasing and unquestioning acceptance of postmodernism, wrote a paper littered with fashionable postmodernist buzzwords — and nothing else of substance — hoping to prove his point by getting it rejected in peer review. But the journal, Social Text, didn't reject it. Not only was it published, it was praised and circulated through several other academic journals. This in spite of the fact that, among other things, it argued that gravity was a social construct. Sokal eventually had to admit it was a hoax.
  • Taking a page from Sokal, James A. Lindsay, Peter Boghossian, and Helen Pluckrose decided to try their own experiment by making up twenty completely bogus academic papers. Like Sokal, they set out to make them as ridiculous as possible, loaded with buzzwords, politically fashionable language, and an ideological bent. By the time they admitted the hoax, only six were rejected. Four had been published, three had been accepted for publication, seven were still under review. One of the published papers had won special recognition in its field. Another one was Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf with a bunch of liberal buzzwords added.

  • In 1924, as a way of mocking an art exhibition jury for rejecting his wife's paintings, Paul Jordan-Smith submitted an intentionally bad painting under the false name "Pavel Jerdanowitch", claiming that it represented a new art school called "disumbrationism". The painting ended up being very well received by critics, and he went on to paint several more before revealing that the entire thing was a hoax.
  • The Dada movement of the 1920s was a potshot at man's unquestioning admiration of anything labeled "art". Dadaists such as Marcel Duchamp used things like urinals, postcards of the Mona Lisa with a mustache painted on it, and objects intended to be destroyed, offensive and otherwise without any major artistic qualities. Most surviving Dada works are considered genuine art, if only as a commentary on the definition of art.
  • Back in 1937, while Nazi Germany was promoting art glorifying Nazi ideology, they also decided to stage a show of "proper" German art alongside another of "degenerate art", to allow people to be properly disgusted by the supposedly perverse, anti-religious, "Jewish-Bolshevist" modern art. The exhibition of "degenerate" art attracted over two million visitors, almost four times as many as the Nazi-approved art, making it one of the largest modern art shows of the 20th century.

    Board Games 
  • This sort of thing happened to a player at the World Scrabble Championship Tournament. The first letters he drew only needed one extra letter added to make an 8-letter word. In Scrabble, using all seven tiles in a player's rack at once awards the player an additional fifty points. There was no seven-letter word that could be played using the letters on his rack, so if he wanted the 50-point bonus, he needed to play his 8-letter word. Unfortunately, he had the first move. So, he decided to give up his turn by playing a word which he believed was not real, getting his opponent to challenge it off the board so that he could use all his letters on his next turn. Unfortunately, his "non-word" was actually a real word, so it stayed on the board and he lost his chance at getting fifty extra points.note 

    Card Games 
  • In one of his Poker books, Dan Harrington briefly talks about the practice of tournament poker players selling "pieces" of themselves (essentially, letting people buy or trade for a percentage of their winnings). He recounts the story of someone who accidentally sold more than 100% of himself in a tournament, meaning that any winnings would cost him money out of pocket, and the most profitable course of action would be to let himself be eliminated without winning anything. He won first place.

  • The 2018 Netflix comedy special Nanette was the product of Tasmanian stand-up comedian Hannah Gadsby, who got briefly famous thanks to a comedy routine which was basically a full, hour-long set about quitting comedy, crammed full of deconstructions of comedy itself, details of her own history with trauma and internalized prejudice, and an explanation of why she's quitting — she can't stand to make herself and other minorities the butt of jokes anymore. In her words, it was meant to divide audiences and get her removed from the Australian festival circuit.

    Comic Books 
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was originally created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman as a joke — specifically, a parody of Frank Miller's Daredevil. They self-published it, not knowing that it would end up becoming one of America's biggest Cash Cow Franchises.
  • According to this podcast, the Iron Dominion arc of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) was a joke pitch from Ian Flynn, one that was inserted among his actual pitches for the comic's two-hundredth issue to make the rest look better. The Iron Dominion arc was the one that got approved, leaving Flynn having to scramble to write it in a way that made it work.
  • At the dawn of The Silver Age of Comic Books, DC Comics was having a blast with its successes, which led to competitors trying to catch up with imitations. One particular writer was forced by his publisher to follow in Justice League of America's footsteps and create a team book to compete. However, the writer was fed up with being forced to write along with what was popular at the time and decided he had enough of the business. At the encouragement of his wife, he plotted to create a team book like his publisher wanted, but instead of what was conventional at the time, he'd fill the book with all kinds of Author Appeal. Believing that nobody would want to read what he'd like to read, the writer expected for the book to be a major flop so he can bail out of the comics industry and pursue screenwriting for Hollywood. That writer was Stan Lee, and the book was The Fantastic Four — and that's how we got the Marvel Universe.
  • Venom's iconic More Teeth than the Osmond Family and Overly-Long Tongue design was because of Erik Larson. As the artist of Amazing Spider-Man at the time, he was not fond of Venom at all and, to pass the time, he drew him with more teeth than he had and a long, slobbering tongue. Somehow, it caught on with the fandom and it has been an iconic look for him.

    Comic Strips 
  • Bloom County creator Berke Breathed attempted to troll his audience by introducing an anti-Garfield, the most unappealing cat character he could devise. This character was Bill the Cat — who unexpectedly proved very popular with the comic's fanbase and soon within the fictional world as well.
  • This is how Zippy the Pinhead was syndicated. Alan Priaulx, the comics editor for King Features at the time, called Bill Griffith, who has been drawing the strip for the San Francisco Chronicle, and offered him a syndication contract. Being an underground cartoonist, Griffith was wary of having his strip distributed by a mainstream company, so he made a list of 20 demands, figuring they wouldn't go for it. To his shock, Priaulx said yes to all. Griffith later found out why Priaulx was so accommodating when he quit his job at King Features a few months later: he was unhappy with his job at King and wanted to leave, but he wanted to leave with a bang. Zippy was picked up as a "ticking time bomb" for the syndicate. This trope also applies to Priaulx, as the strip is still running in newspapers to this day, the "bomb" not exploding.

    Eastern Animation 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 1955 somebody got the idea to adapt a popular episode of a TV anthology series to film. Burt Lancaster and his business partner decided to fund it, figuring the low-budget picture wouldn't make any money (who would pay to see a film they could watch for free on TV?) and they could use the expenses as a tax write-off. Compounding this plan was their casting of some fat, ugly guy best known for playing villains as the romantic lead. The film? Marty, which became a huge box office smash and ended up winning four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor, along with the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Cracked's 5 Classic Movies Made by People Who Wanted Them to Fail describes its production as having "literally started out as the plot of The Producers."
  • Battlefield Earth was the subject of a $121.7 million lawsuit, possibly in an attempt to pull one of these.
  • As relayed by Ahmed Ahmed, an Arab-American actor and stand-up comedian in one of his routines in the mid '90s, he went in to read for a stereotypical Arab terrorist role in Executive Decision. Since his stand-up comedy career was starting to flourish, and because he considered the role an offensive stereotype, he decided he'd go in and treat the audition as a complete joke, completely mocking the role and the producers. Ahmed proceeded to read the part as the most crazed, screaming ethnically offensive Large Ham stereotype he could manage. The casting director loved it and promptly offered him the part. He was going to turn it down but then saw just how much he was going to be paid for a few weeks' work.
  • Robert Pattinson has been very vocal about his outright hatred for the Twilight series and the characters, particularly his own character Edward Cullen. In interviews he's said that he portrays Edward as a pathetic, socially maladjusted loser, just the way he imagines a 100-plus-year-old virgin would be. Unfortunately for him, this only seems to have encouraged the crazy fangirls.
  • Elizabeth Taylor, who was uninterested in playing the main character in Cleopatra, said she would do it only if she were paid a million dollars, an obscene sum for the early 1960s. But they said yes, and the rest is history. Only problem was that the film's Troubled Production led to it being one of the biggest Box Office Bombs of all time.
  • Dennis Miller didn't want to do Bordello of Blood despite producer Joel Silver's insistence that he do so so he demanded a salary of a million dollars. Silver did exactly that, taking the bulk of the money from the movie's special effects budget, which also contributed to its Troubled Production and poor reception.
  • Jaye Davidson similarly decided to retire from acting after his starring role in The Crying Game, but the producers of Stargate just kept pestering him to take the role of Ra. So to get them to go away, he demanded the most outlandish salary he could think of for the role ($1 million)... and they said yes.
  • Animal House featured a scene where a college student has sex with an underage girl. Originally, the director wanted the girl to be 16 (in-story — the actress playing her was 19 at the time), but was concerned that the censors would object due to the depiction of statutory rape. They decided to change her age to 13, figuring the censors would reject it and they could come back with 16 as a "compromise". To their shock, the censors allowed the scene with no objections.
  • Director Robert Altman couldn't come up with lyrics "stupid enough" for M*A*S*H's theme song "Suicide Is Painless", so he gave the job to his 14-year-old son Michael, who wrote the song in five minutes. Instead of "stupid" lyrics, the song turned out to be tremendously moving. The royalties from an instrumental version of the song being used as the theme music for the later TV show meant that Michael made a lot more money off the movie than his father did.
  • Gorilla, Interrupted: After the film's one-week deadline for principle photography expired, there were still many alien scenes that needed to be filmed. Director Mike Stoklasa was so dispirited and embarrassed by the way the film was shaping up that he put zero effort into the remaining scenes, deliberately making them as stupid and fake as he could. But the film is a comedy, and the scenes' Stylistic Suck is widely seen as the funniest part of the film.

  • According to legend, this is how we got potato chips. Some guy at a restaurant kept sending his potatoes back, complaining they were too thick, too soft, and not salty enough. So the cook, George Crum, got frustrated and sliced them super thin, fried them to a crisp, and poured on the salt. The customer loved it, and a new snack food was born.
  • This is reportedly the origin of hot fried chicken or more popularly known as Nashville hot chicken. It is generally accepted that the originator of hot chicken is the family of Andre Prince Jeffries, owner of Prince's Hot Chicken Shack. Although impossible to verify, Jeffries says the development of hot chicken was an accident. Her great-uncle Thornton was purportedly a womanizer, and after a particularly late night out, his girlfriend at the time cooked him a fried chicken breakfast with extra pepper as revenge. Instead, Thornton decided he liked it so much that by the mid-1930s, he and his brothers had created their own recipe and opened the BBQ Chicken Shack café. What began as breakfast revenge is now considered to be a staple food for late-night diners.

  • Ernest Hemingway wanted to break out of his contract with Horace Liverwright for a better deal with a new publisher, so he wrote The Torrents of Spring as a mocking parody of the style used by Liverwright's favorite author.
  • Naked Came The Stranger, a book that was written back in 1969 by an astounding 24 journalists under the pseudonym Penelope Ashe, was meant as a Take That! to what was considered vulgar and popular at the time in literary culture. The book sold well and did even better once the head writer revealed that it was merely meant as a hoax.
  • Chuck Palahniuk wrote Fight Club when his novel Invisible Monsters was rejected by his publishers for being too disturbing. He intended to make Fight Club even more disturbing to give them something they would at least remember. The publishers liked it, and it was published.
  • Once upon a time, an unsuccessful author of High Fantasy novels was told by the teacher of his writing class that, seeing as he liked Anita Blake and Buffy the Vampire Slayer so much, he should write a novel like those using the teacher's method of novel creation.
    Jim Butcher: When I finally got tired of arguing with her and decided to write a novel as if I was some kind of formulaic, genre-writing drone, just to prove to her how awful it would be, I wrote the first book of The Dresden Files.
  • In the Inheritance Cycle, ever since the first book, both fans and anti-fans latched onto the villain Murtagh, seeing him as cooler, more sympathetic, and more moral than the main character. Time and again, the author tried to write him as an unlikable prick. Unfortunately, his turn to evil due to terrible circumstances beyond his control (he is literally forced to be evil) makes him The Woobie and gives him more of a character arc than the main character. After the fourth book where Murtagh makes a Heel–Face Turn, Paolini appears to have capitulated somewhat.
  • According to crime novelist Val McDermid, the author of Wire in the Blood, this is basically what happened when she wrote her children's picture book My Granny is a Pirate. For a while there was a trend of celebrities writing children's books, and McDermid's publisher wanted her to write one too, and refused to listen when she said that this was a particular skill she didn't possess, so she sent her a poem she had made up for her son when he was younger.
    McDermid: But eventually, she just kept going on and on and on, and the only way I thought to shut her up, was to send her something. [...] So I had written this, well, I had made up really, I hadn't even written it down to begin with, this poem about my granny being a pirate. You know: "My granny is a pirate! She sailed the seven seas. She's captured many pirate ships, but was always home for tea." And I sent this off to my publisher thinking; at least she'll shut up and leave me alone now, but no. No no no. She called me and said, "Darling, we love it! We want to publish it, darling!" And I'm like, Oh, for Christ's sake...
  • Ern Malley is a fictional poet created by conservative Australian writers James McAuley and Harold Stewart as a reaction to what they felt was the poor state of modernist poetry in the 1940s. They wrote sixteen deliberately bad poems under the pseudonym, which they then submitted to the popular modernist magazine Angry Penguins in an attempt to embarrass its founder Max Harris. Naturally, Harris fell for the hoax and devoted the next issue to Malley. When the con was revealed, he was humiliated and subsequently fined for publishing the poems on the grounds that they were obscene, and his magazine ceased publishing in 1946. While the hoax proved to be a major setback for the cause of Australian modernist literature, it was not long before the Ern Malley poems became celebrated as a successful example of surrealist poetry in their own right in spite of their well-known status as a forgery.
  • The book Real Men Don't Eat Quiche was written by Bruce Feirstein to satirize views on masculinity in America, however it became popular with men using it as an unironic guide on "how to be a man" completely missing the satire altogether. "Quiche-eater" has even entered the lexicon for an unmasculine man and in A View to a Kill, James Bond is shown cooking quiche as a subtle Take That! to this view, bringing it full circle.

    Live-Action TV 
  • SCTV's Bob and Doug McKenzie were created as a Take That! to CBC; after the program moved to the network, CBC requested that they add two minutes of "distinctively Canadian content" as Padding since it was running shorter due to having fewer commercials. The show's staff felt that the request was ridiculous; in particular, performers Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas jokingly suggested that they should just put up a map of Canada and act as stereotypically Canadian as possible. Moranis and Thomas ended up doing exactly that, and wound up creating the most popular characters in the show's history, as Canadians loved the mocking stereotype of themselves.
  • During the first season of WKRP in Cincinnati, CBS wanted more broad, kid-friendly comedy in the show. Producer Hugh Wilson wrote "Fish Story" as a Take That! to the executives, a broad farce with silly costumes (Herb in the WKRP "carp" costume fighting the WPIG pig), pratfalls, and contrived explanations. Wilson hated the episode, and wrote it under a pseudonym as the last episode in CBS's initial 13-episode order. It got great ratings, and has always been one of the fans' favorite episodes.
  • This was what happened behind the scenes of the original Battlestar Galactica. ABC only greenlit it because they were hoping it would flop — they figured so many people were playing Follow the Leader after the success of Star Wars that people were going to sour on sci-fi sometime soon. They had the numbers to back it up — no sci-fi series since Star Trek had lasted longer than one season. They figured they could air Galactica as a loss-leader for their cheap sitcoms, which the audience would demand after they got bored with the sci-fi. But Galactica proved to be a huge hit, leaving ABC with a show that was too popular to cancel — but too expensive to continue producing. They resorted to screwing the show over, hoping to drive down viewership without losing face with an up-front cancellation. And the stunt didn't help ABC's sitcoms at all; none of that season's new series were hits, and last season's big hit Mork & Mindy bled ratings thanks to a bad Retool.
  • Star Trek:
    • William Windom, who played Commodore Matt Decker in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Doomsday Machine", thought the entire episode was just silly and decided to ham it up, treating it as if he was in some cartoon. This ended up making his character very memorable due to the captain's unhinged state, and today it's said that this was one of his most memorable roles.
    • Avery Brooks, who played Captain Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, supposedly didn't want the part originally, but was talked into it by his wife, who was a Star Trek fan. Consequently, he came across in his audition as grumpy and not entirely wanting to be there — which was exactly how the producers envisaged his character. The show managed to find its place as a Darker and Edgier look at the universe at the time and drew viewers for that alternate perspective. It ran for seven seasons, and despite wanting to leave the show, Brooks stuck it out because he wanted to teach his son a lesson about honoring one's commitments.
    • Robert Beltran, who played Chakotay in Star Trek: Voyager, got so fed up with how his character was depicted and the quality of the show as a whole that he demanded an extraordinarily large pay raise in order to stay on the cast, hoping that his bosses would ditch him rather than pay such a huge amount. They simply forked over the money. Voyager managed to find its legs and ran for seven seasons as well. Even though Chakotay never became a fan favorite and Beltran never really enjoyed playing him, he would reprise the role years later in Star Trek: Prodigy.
  • Power Rangers:
    • When Jason Narvy tried out for the role of Skull in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, he was tired of the entertainment industry, and proceeded to act as obnoxious as possible during the audition so he'd be sure to bomb it. Seeing as how Skull was one of Those Two Guys and a total bully in-universe, this ended up getting Narvy the part.
    • Barbara Goodson was stunned when despite her performance having been well received in the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers pilot, she had to reaudition for the part of Rita Repulsa. Feeling humiliated and frustrated at the producers' comments that she didn't sound "angry enough", she decided to screech at them as loudly and angrily as she could, fully knowing she would fail the audition. And thus Rita's iconic voice was born.
    • After the disappointment of Power Rangers Turbo (which suffered for trying to adapt the footage from parody Sentai Gekisou Sentai Carranger into a serious storyline), the budget was severely cut and the show was entering its intended final season. The footage from Denji Sentai Megaranger turned out to be technology-based. Judd Lynn decided to move forward with a Power Rangers series based on a space story. Not only did the resulting series, Power Rangers in Space save the franchise, it turned out to be the Growing the Beard moment for the series and the standard for future Power Rangers seasons.
    • The bulk of Disney's ownership of the show is this. Disney acquired the rights in their purchase of Fox Family and related assets. They weren't interested all that much in Power Rangers, so they intended to end the series with the expiration of Saban's original deal with Toei after Power Rangers Wild Force (even titling the finale "The End of Power Rangers", meant as just that). Then, two former Power Rangers writers and producers then elsewhere at Disney talked them into moving production to New Zealand for tax benefits, and the show continued to be a success... until Disney's apathy towards the show became more apparent. After Power Rangers Jungle Fury, Disney tried to end the series again, but Bandai convinced them to do another season because of toy sales often outperforming the show itself in that time. The Sentai footage was from another parody Sentai, Engine Sentai Go-onger. Executive producer Eddie Guzelian (replaced midstream by Lynn due to Executive Meddling) adapted it into a serious storyline, which is what they tried to do with Turbo, only this time it worked. The resulting series, Power Rangers RPM, is incredibly well-regarded for its story, and could have been the most successful series since In Space. Most ABC affiliates, including Disney-owned stations and stations in nearly all major markets, ended up screwing the show over to a graveyard early-morning slot or not airing it at all, which finally ended the series, save for the 2010 re-version of MMPR. Then, Saban bought the rights to the franchise again, moved airing to Nickelodeon, and Power Rangers returned to being a top-rated TV show and best-selling toyline.
  • The cast of The State was pressured to write more catchphrase-driven comedy like Saturday Night Live, so they wrote a Take That! sketch starring "Louie, the Guy Who Says His Catchphrase Over and Over Again." In it, Louie repeats his catchphrase, "I wanna dip my balls in it!" over and over again to a crowd who find it hilarious every single time, while the Only Sane Man criticizes the concept. The skit was pretty popular and the character made at least one reappearance.
  • The success of The Waltons was a complete accident; it was a show that would've fallen victim to the "rural purge" had it been broadcast any earlier. CBS put it in the Friday Night Death Slot in a deliberate attempt to sabotage it. Needless to say, it backfired spectacularly, and it became one of the network's biggest hits of the '70s instead.
  • For The Gong Show, producer Chuck Barris regularly brought in acts that were overly sexually suggestive on purpose to act as Censor Decoys. On at least one occasion, one of these acts actually made it to air.
  • In 1993, when Cologne-based station Viva TV prepared for launch, local musician Stefan Raab paid them a visit intending to produce jingles for them, but somehow found himself at a casting for presenters. He didn't want the job, so he completely misbehaved, only to end up with his own comedy show. This did give his music some nice exposure, but his shows eventually became so successful that he presumably became too tired to record more than just the occasional, infrequent single. Even after retiring from TV in 2015, he hasn't recorded any new music since 1997 (though he did mastermind Germany's Eurovision 2010 victory).
  • Dean Martin had no intention of doing a weekly variety show, so he asked NBC for an enormous salary and insisted that his contract include clauses that allowed him to skip rehearsals and refuse to do retakes, among other outrageous demands. NBC agreed to every single demand, and Dean felt honor-bound to do it. The show ended up running for 9 years, followed by the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast specials that ran for an additional 10 years. True to his word, however, Dean refused to rehearse or shoot retakes and was usually in his car and well on his way home before shooting even wrapped for the day.
  • When Dwayne McDuffie created the Tommy Westphall Universe Hypothesis in 2002, he did so as a joke, meant as a Deconstructive Parody of how seriously fans of comic books take continuity by applying that same Serious Business attitude towards crossovers and Shout Outs to the world of television. The idea that "thanks to St. Elsewhere's Gainax Ending, vast swathes of modern television exist purely in the mind of an autistic boy" was meant to be a wholly unsupportable and ridiculous conclusion... one that was, indeed, taken seriously by some people, who have expanded on McDuffie's hypothesis to link (as of this writing) 419 shows back to little Tommy Westphall.
  • Joss Whedon has joked that he fully expected Dollhouse to get cancelled after one season, and that Fox only renewed the series for a second season to spite him.
  • The Father Ted episode about Ireland trying to get out of hosting the Eurovision Song Contest was based on a real life example. RTÉ allegedly selected an inferior song for the 1994 contest so they wouldn't have to face the daunting (and financially crippling) task of hosting a third consecutive contest. Not only did "Rock 'n' Roll Kids" win, it became the highest-scoring song in Eurovision history up to that point.
  • After the sixth series of Red Dwarf in 1993, co-writer Rob Grant departed the show, leaving his writing partner Doug Naylor to continue the series by himself. Despite pressure from the BBC, Naylor was reluctant to carry on solo, and he asked his agent to put in a deliberately ridiculous budget request for the seventh series which the BBC would reject. His agent ended up putting in a request for a "sensibly ridiculous" budget — i.e. one so large he thought the BBC would definitely still reject it, but not so obviously unrealistic that the BBC would realise they were deliberately trying to get it turned down. The BBC agreed to fund it.
  • In 1993, Noel's House Party introduced the character Mr. Blobby, a deliberately ridiculous parody of children's TV characters who only speaks in the repeated phrase "blobby blobby blobby!", for their "Gotcha" segments. He was intended to particularly embarrass the celebrities and arguably mock them for not realising that such a moronic character would never get his own show. He then became massively popular with children and he became a serious children's show character, and even got his own merchandise.
  • Vladislav Ivanov aka Lelush is a Russian model who served as a translator for the Chinese singing talent show Produce Camp 2021. After the producers of the show noticed his good looks he was signed up as a contestant. Lelush quickly regretted the decision, finding the weekly training sessions and isolation to be grueling, but couldn't leave the show without breaking his contract. So he deliberately performed badly in hopes of being voted off the show. But instead, fans found his grumpy, defeatist attitude to be endearing and managed to vote him to stay until the final episode.

  • Neil Young was in the midst of a creative dispute with his label Geffen Records, due to his 1982 experimental techno-rock album Trans, which had flopped. Young recorded and had intended to release the straight country album Old Ways next, but it was rejected by Geffen, who requested Young to release a rock album instead. Not one to take such executive meddling in stride, Young recorded Everybody's Rockin', an intentionally silly rockabilly album in hopes to anger Geffen enough to get out of his contract. The result was a lawsuit and counter lawsuit from both parties.
  • Marvin Gaye was coerced by his record label to record a "Disco Song". Gaye, not a fan of the Disco Genre by any stretch, went to do an intentionally bad song (singing in falsetto lampooning The Bee Gees), hoping it would fail and his label would leave him alone. Got To Give It Up ended up being one of his biggest hits.
  • The quintessential example is Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, a double album consisting exclusively of layered feedback from multiple instruments. It became a minor success, selling over 100,000 copies, singlehandedly invented the Noise genre of music (which is particularly popular in Germany and Japan) and strongly influenced Industrial music. Most people assumed that Reed made it as a big middle finger to the record company, but Reed has denied this, saying that he was completely serious at the time, but was also on a lot of drugs.
  • The Beach Boys' Party, an album of covers thrown together quickly, was born from Capitol Records' demand to have a new album in time for Christmas — and their planned album Pet Sounds wasn't going to make it thanks to Brian Wilson's perfectionism. The last song on the album, a cover of Fred Fasset's "Barbara Ann", became a surprise hit, charting at #2, although not initially released as a single, while the album itself hit the top 10 at #6.
  • The Beatles wrote the song "Helter Skelter" in the hopes of making a really manic, distorted, unpleasantly noisy song. The song however received substantial praise, and is considered an example of an early template for heavy metal, punk rock and grunge.
  • Lampshaded with Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album, which was originally released with the tagline "Now a Major Lawsuit". The album actually was produced to finish out a contract, and listening to it, it's clear that the Pythons didn't put much effort into it. Over half the album is songs and brief spoken word pieces by Eric Idle, and the rest is new recordings of old material that the Pythons had written for other projects. But because it's Monty Python, it's still hilarious.
  • Mike Oldfield's Amarok album includes "fuck you rb" in Morse code, targeted at Virgin's boss Richard Branson. Since Virgin had been pressing him to produce more tracks that could be released as singles, Amarok was deliberately constructed as a solid 60 minutes that is impossible to cut into a single. Many consider it his best album. Oldfield's page has an entire section of Take That! examples dedicated to showing all the different ways Amarok is a big middle finger to Branson.
  • Love and Rockets (post-punk/synth-rock band consisting of former Bauhaus members) did one of these with their side project "The Bubblemen" — a single release consisting of "The Bubblemen Are Coming", "Bubblemen Rap", and "Bees", and featuring the band dressed in bee costumes — as a "blowing off steam" variation of this trope. The project quickly became a cult hit, and they often performed as the Bubblemen as part of their regular concerts.
  • In the late '60s, Van Morrison recorded an entire album of deliberately unreleaseably awful songs ("The Big Royalty Check", "Ringworm", "Here Comes Dumb George") in order to get out of his contract with Bang Records. This ended up backfiring on him in the early '90s, when the cash-strapped rights-holders began licensing them out... on "Greatest Hits" compilations, no less.
  • Sara Bareilles was forced by her record company to write a love song for her album Little Voice. So, Writer Revolt kicked in with "Love Song", which specifically goes "I'm not gonna write you a love song". Ironically, it was her first hit. Same story with her second hit "King of Anything"... so which party gets to say "I told you so"?
  • British extreme metallers Cradle of Filth were sick of their then-current label Cacophonous Records, yet were pigeonholed into making a new release before they could leave the label. The result was the EP Vempire (or Dark Faarytales in Phallustein), which many fans of the band consider to be their best release.
  • The power chords to REO Speedwagon's "Keep On Loving You" were a reaction by guitarist Gary Richrath to singer Kevin Cronin's song, which Gary thought was sappy and uncharacteristic of the hard-rock group. The combination became an early example of the '80s Power Ballad, and their first number one single. Today, they are almost only remembered for this and two other Power Ballads, "Can't Fight This Feeling" and "Take It on the Run".
  • Todd Rundgren's The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect is one of these. He intentionally wrote "Bang The Drum All Day" to be as stupid as possible, and it's quite possibly his most recognizable hit.
  • The Residents originally intended their album Duck Stab! to prove that even if they released an album of songs that actually followed traditional song structure, still no one would buy it. It became one of their most popular.
  • The Turtles, a surf band turned folk-rock band from The '60s who had cheery bubblegum hits like "Happy Together" and "She'd Rather Be With Me", was having problems with their label, White Whale, who wanted them to keep churning out more commercial product while the band wanted to move into more progressive music. So they wrote the most deliberately banal pop song they could, "Elenore". It obviously was not taken as such, and became a Top Ten hit.
  • Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash was "joking around" with a riff. He hated it. Axl Rose loved it. Over objections within the band, the track was recorded for their album-in-progress. The result was "Sweet Child O'Mine", a song Slash reportedly "really fucking hated to play" during their gigs. Slash had to spend a month recording that riff in the studio to get it just right for the album.
  • Steam's "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye", intended as a throwaway B side, instead a #1 hit. In fact, the overly-long chorus repetition at the end was specifically intended to be annoying. The plan was to encourage disc jockeys to only play the A side. The plan didn't work.
  • "Barely Breathing" by Duncan Sheik was similar, intended to be a filler song to bring the album up to proper length; it became his only hit (unless you count the music he did for "Spring Awakening").
  • This was what happened to Carl Douglas' "Kung Fu Fighting". After spending over two hours on A-side song "I Want to Give You My Everything", he recorded "Kung Fu Fighting" with the last ten minutes of studio time for the B-side track, in only two takes. It ended up becoming a #1 hit, and nothing else he ever released even came close to replicating its success.
  • German Krautrock band Neu!'s budget ran out during the recording of their second album after completing one side of an album. Short of material, they included the previously released single sides "Super" and "Neuschnee", and decided to fill the rest of the second side with sped-up and slowed-down versions of those two songs. In the process, they pretty much invented the remix.
  • Mudhoney were asked to contribute a fast, driving song for a scene of the film With Honors wherein one of the characters runs through the snow. They offered up an instrumental they'd already written and recorded, but the studio insisted on a song with words. So the band added minimal throwaway lyrics to their instrumental, called the result "Run Shithead Run", and sent back both this version and the original, figuring the studio would either reject them outright or just use the instrumental after all. The version of the song with lyrics still ended up in the movie and its soundtrack album. The band did note that they were never asked to contribute music to a major motion picture again.
  • In 1976, amateur musician John Trubee, then a teenager, found an ad in a tabloid for a song poem companynote . He submitted a deliberately offensive, nonsensical poem titled "Peace and Love", hoping he'd get a humorous (and rather offended) rejection letter.note  He did not. 80 dollars and a quick change to the lyrics later, a comically godawful, upbeat country march was set loose upon the world, where it would later gain a marked cult infamy.
  • Kurt Cobain wanted to make Nirvana's third album, In Utero, a noisy punk album in an attempt to get rid of the mainstream audience and massive fanbase they'd picked up with Nevermind. It still shot to number one on the Billboard charts.
  • The metal band GWAR got its start this way. Originally, the members were in a different band called Death Piggy, but in a few concerts, they tried a publicity stunt in which they posed as a Fake Band dressing up in Conan-esque barbarian costumes (borrowed from a film they were making at the time) and running around screaming obscenities in the idea that after the audience was subjected to this, Death Piggy's arrival would come as a relief. To their surprise, many fans would stay for GWAR and leave when Death Piggy made their entrance, so they decided to play as GWAR full-time.
  • During the height of Psychedelia, The Hollies (particularly Graham Nash) tried hard to develop a more elaborate, "serious" sound. The results, namely the single "King Midas in Reverse", were met with commercial indifference, prompting the label to demand something more marketable. In response, the band recorded the deliberately cheesy bubblegum song "Jennifer Eccles". It was a Top Ten hit, much to Nash's dismay.
  • As a joke, The Four Seasons recorded a version of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" with intentionally silly, self-parodic falsetto vocals, which they never intended to actually release. Their record company liked it enough to release it as a single anyway: Even though it was released under the name The Wonder Who? for contractual reasons, it reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and sold a million copies.
  • Dylan, he has often claimed that his much-reviled Self Portrait album from 1970 was intended as one of these.
  • Anal Cunt attempted to make the worst music ever with music so abrasive it's difficult to tell what notes are even being played. They coupled this with lyrics that were frequently misogynistic, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, or otherwise offensive. Their singer, the late Seth Putnam, even admitted sending copies of their albums to reviewers who they knew would dislike it solely so they could get negative reviews. They wound up being admired by people who saw through the Stealth Parody and are one of the most influential bands of the grindcore genre. They even attempted making an album that even their fans wouldn't like, Picnic of Love. The album is the opposite of their usual output, featuring acoustic songs with Seth Putnam wailing in an obnoxiously high-pitched falsetto about respecting women. Many fans consider it their funniest and even critics gave it much more favorable reviews than their usual output.
  • Quiet Riot were asked to do a cover of the Slade song "Cum on Feel the Noize" as a demo for their record company. Kevin Dubrow hated the song, refused to do more than one take, and put zero effort into it (there's an audible sound error at one point — he demanded the band keep playing because he didn't want to have to start over). The song made their entire careers.
  • Similarly, Sammy Davis Jr.'s version of "The Candy Man" was his biggest hit, spending three weeks at #1. This is in spite of his recording it in one syrupy, sanctimonious, and condescending take, and then grumbling about how the song would "take his career down the toilet". Seeing as he was probably still bitter over being passed up for the role of Bill the candy store owner in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, it really could have.
  • According to designer Steve Joule, this is how Black Sabbath's Born Again cover art came to be: Joule was known for designing Ozzy Osbourne's album covers, and was asked by Sabbath's management to submit some rough designs for the band's next album. Fearing he might lose his main gig if he worked with Ozzy's former band, he decided to throw together some intentionally silly, hideous artwork in the hopes of getting rejected (but still collecting a fee for submitting his ideas). One of these designs was a stock photo of a crying baby crudely altered to look like a demon, which of course actually ended up being on the cover — Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Black Sabbath manager Don Arden reportedly approved of the design. On the other hand, then-vocalist Ian Gillan didn't see the artwork until it was already in stores, and was famously quoted (in a 1984 Kerrang! interview) as saying “I looked at the cover and puked!”
  • Johnny Cash was one of a number of established artists who found the transition to the 80s difficult. Cash blamed it on poor promotion by his record company and recorded the intentionally awful "Chicken in Black" in attempt to get out of his contract. It actually worked, but it also became his biggest hit in some time.
  • Australian pop singer Marty Rhone thought he was going to die in Vietnam and recorded "So You Want to Be a Pop Singer" as a Take That! to the music industry. The song, which references then Countdown host Molly Meldrum, Russell Morris's hit "The Real Thing" and Elvis Presley, is pretty tame by today's standards and didn't come across as particularly scathing in 1970 either. It failed to chart, but it didn't sink Rhone's career either.
  • As an experiment, "The Most Unwanted Song" was created by polling 500 different people and determining which musical elements they disliked the most. These elements (which included children's choirs, advertising jingles, cowboy music, opera singers, rap, accordions, and bagpipes) were all combined into a 22-minute song. Not surprisingly, it's hilarious.
  • Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis, comprising brothers Vegard and Bård Ylvisåker, made "The Fox", an intentionally nonsensical little ditty destined to go viral. They had done a favor for production team Stargate, and in return asked that Stargate produce "The Fox" to promote the new season of Ylvis' TV talk show I kveld med YLVIS, the joke being that they had a chance at finally becoming pop stars but they did a nonsensical song that was destined to flop instead. Contrary to what they predicted, the song very quickly caught on and ended up being immensely successful on the charts instead of staying the joke Ylvis had originally created. The fact that another foreign novelty, "Gangnam Style", was still fresh in many peoples' minds probably helped too.
    "The whole humor is that we didn't succeed and had lots of obstacles. The obstacles generated the comedy. Then suddenly we're on this trip to America, the place people want to go, and there's no obstacles. Every doorway is open... and there's no comedy."
  • Australian Post-Punk band The Birthday Party wrote their single, "Release the Bats", as an over-the-top joke. It became their best known song.
  • With the New York Dolls, vocalist David Johansen didn't achieve any commercial success, as his band was mostly a cult favorite as a forerunner of both American punk and glam rock. It was only when he launched his lounge singer alter-ego Buster Poindexter in 1987 that he became a commercial success, with "Hot Hot Hot" nearly cracking Billboard's Top 40. Johansen is now back with the Dolls, having long grown his hair back and ditched the suits he used to wear as his Poindexter alter-ego. In an interview, Johansen referred to "Hot Hot Hot" as "the bane of my existence", suggesting that he never intended for the song to become so popular.
  • Famously, the "crunch" sounds in Radiohead's "Creep" were an attempt to sabotage the song. The band left it in, and in part because of the crunches (which made an otherwise mellow song sound much harder, creating a dissonance that synergized well with the subject matter (intense personal self-loathing)), it became their first hit.
  • Sir Mix-A-Lot recorded "Baby Got Back" as an intended parody of the then-popular Miami Bass genre, not expecting it to chart. Twelve weeks after debuting on the Hot 100, it went to #1, going on to become the second-biggest hit of 1992 and one of the 90s' most iconic songs.
  • The early rock and roll song "Little Darlin'" by the Diamonds was originally meant to be a parody of rock and roll. It's regarded as a classic.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Albuquerque", which clocks in at 11 minutes, was written to frustrate listeners by being a long, meandering story that didn't go anywhere, ending with a Brick Joke about how the narrator hates sauerkraut. It became a fan favorite.
  • Nick Lowe wrote "Bay City Rollers, We Love You" to be as bad as possible in the hopes that his label would drop him. Instead, it turned out to be so catchy that it was released worldwide. It flopped everywhere except Japan.
  • Michael Sembello was asked to provide a song for Flashdance. Not liking any of the results, and frustrated by the lack of progress, he recorded the musical equivalent of a tasteless joke by making up a song celebrating the antics of a Slasher Film maniac carving up victims. His wife accidentally sent it to the film producers. Sembello got a call, saying the producers loved the song. Understandably, a lyric change was needed. It ended up a Number One hit.
  • Feeling pressure to deliver a hit, Throwing Muses wrote "Dizzy" in an effort to show how stupid it is to consciously try to write one. "We hated it even while we were recording it", Kristin Hersh said. "We expected them to get the point and they didn't at all, they loved it."
  • When The Church were recording "Under The Milky Way Tonight", vocalist/bassist Steve Kilbey waited until everyone else left the studio and added a backwards bagpipe sample to an instrumental section of the song as a joke. The producer and the band loved it and it was left in the final mix of the song, which became a Signature Song for the group.
  • Gus Lobban, one-third of indie pop trio Kero Kero Bonito, participated in a remix contest in 2014 for Tiga and Audion's house track "Let's Go Dancing", but submitted a messy joke entry filled with clunky, offbeat MIDI instrumentals, and under the name "kane west" (no relation to Kanye West). Surprisingly, he was among its selected winners (the contest holders interpreting his track as "free-jazz"), and after receiving additional positive (and somewhat ironic) reception from fans, Lobban decided to keep up Kane West as a side project, releasing similarly jokey MIDI material through PC Music.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Pastafarianism (a.k.a. the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster), originally an in-joke among agnostics regarding the "man in the sky" interpretation of religion, wound up going memetic enough that it has a following equal to a practiced religion and has legally recognized priests.
  • Several decades before Pastafarianism, Discordianism, an intentionally absurdist faux-religious tract achieved such a large cult following that it persists to this day.

  • "Springtime for Hitler" cannot be mentioned without the man himself, who ascended to power in Germany in 1933 in much this way. He was appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg, who had the real power and was trying to promote Hitler to a position where he couldn't do any harm. However, Hitler knew the loopholes and was able to attain "emergency powers" following an arson attack on the German parliament building, which eventually led him to become the monstrous dictator we know him as today. After Hindenburg's death in 1934, he combined the powers of President and Chancellor and declared himself Führer of Germany.
  • When John F. Kennedy became the Democratic Party's nominee for President of the United States in 1960, there was growing concern that his more progressive values and agenda would lead to a low turnout from Democrats in southern states during the election. To pacify said southern Democrats, he took on Lyndon Johnson as his running mate and eventual Vice President, as he was a Democrat from Texas, and would help retain that demographic of voters, while being in a position that wouldn't affect JFK's progressive agenda. However, when Johnson became President after JFK was assassinated in 1963, he ended up pursuing an even more progressive agenda than JFK had, which eventually resulted in many of said southern Democrats to jump ship to the Republican Party.
  • In 1970, Earl Brydges, majority leader of the New York State Senate (and thus one of the three most powerful politicians in the state), wanted to head off attempts to legalize abortion in the state. Some were before the legislature, but he decided to supersede them all by writing his own bill, even more liberal than any introduced by more liberal legislators, with the idea that it would be too liberal to pass and thus he could put off the reformers by pointing to the failed bill. However, it passed, and after a tense moment when an upstate assemblyman changed his vote after they had been counted, allowing the governor's veto to be overriden, New York became the first U.S. state to legalize abortion, three years before Roe v. Wade.
  • Many joke political parties and candidates end up doing this as they become more popular:
    • The Monster Raving Loony Party, having for decades contested elections in which they stood no chance, stood for the Bootle by-election in 1990, and placed higher than the SDP candidate. Screaming Lord Sutch was so disturbed by this result that he effectively killed the SDP off. History repeated at the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election in 2019, when the Monster Raving Loonies managed to win more votes than UKIP.
    • The Polish Beer-Lovers' Party managed to win sixteen seats in the Polish Parliament. The result forced them to drop their joke image and become a serious group, the Polish Economic Program — a failure at failing if ever there was one.
    • Possibly the most successful political example of this trope is Jón Gnarr, who ran for mayor of Iceland's capital city Reykjavík in 2010 as head of the satirical "Best Party"note . Iceland had just gone through a major financial crisis, and Jón mostly created the party to satirize establishment politics. To everyone's surprise (including his own), he and his party won the election, and he suddenly found himself mayor of a coalition government — even after he famously vowed not to enter into a coalition with any politician who had not seen his favourite TV show, The Wire. (Well, they could learn something about politics if Iceland was anything like Baltimore.)
    • In 2002, in the first mayoral election in the town of Hartlepool in north-east England, Stuart Drummond, better known locally as H'Angus the Monkey, the mascot of the local football team, stood as a joke. In character, as the monkey. He did no real campaigning, he didn't turn up to any hustings or debates, and his only policy was to provide free bananas for schoolchildren. To his astonishment, he won. Once he'd actually become mayor, however, he started taking it seriously, abandoned the monkey persona, and did good enough job to serve three full terms before the town voted to abolish directly-elected mayors. And he did succeed in giving local schoolchildren fresh fruit, albeit not specifically bananas as they were too expensive. He even became a finalist for the World Mayor prize while he was in office.
    • A city in Ecuador was holing a mayoral election with two equally unlikeable candidates. Seeing a marketing opportunity, a foot deodorant company decided to put up signs telling people to vote for a can of their foot powder instead of the candidates. The voters elected the can of foot powder.
    • In 1983, restaurant owner, Pungeon Master, and notorious troll Ivar Haglund, already nicknamed the "mayor" of the Seattle waterfront, put his name in the hat for Port Commissioner, a job he actually didn't want; it was merely an extended practical joke on his part. Unfortunately, he got elected. Even more unfortunately, he died of a heart attack the first day he was supposed to clock in for the new job.
  • The 2001 UK Conservative Party leadership election was the first in which the candidates would be narrowed to two, who would participate in a separate runoff among all the party's members. Kenneth Clarke figured he could win the first stage of the vote but was worried about facing Michael Portillo, who was much better known and had just returned to Parliament. He did some calculations and got some of his supporters to vote for Iain Duncan Smith as a spoiler candidate, and it worked — he faced off against Duncan Smith in the runoff. Only problem being that the ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher didn't like either Clarke or Portillo (they weren't conservative enough for her) and was delighted that Duncan Smith was an option, so she publicly endorsed him. That caused his popularity to skyrocket and led him to the party leadership.note 
  • Everything about the Brexit referendum of 2016 — by which the UK formally voted to leave The European Union — seems to have been a plot of this kind Gone Horribly Right:
    • Prime Minister David Cameron called for the referendum despite not supporting Brexit himself. He was on the outs with the more conservative elements of his party, particularly after he legalised same-sex marriage, and he worried that the rival UK Independence Party — with more or less an all-Brexit platform — would siphon votes from the Conservatives and cost them their majority. He promised a Brexit referendum before the 2015 general election thinking he wouldn't win a majority and have to form a coalition with the pro-Europe Liberal Democrats (as had happened in 2010). But the Conservatives did win their majority, and he couldn't back down from his word. Cameron was still so confident that Brexit wouldn't pass that he basically staked his position on it, and when it did pass, he resigned almost immediately.
    • One of the big early Brexit supporters was Boris Johnson, who was cynically believed to be feigning his support to try and win the harder right wing of the party and wrest the leadership from Cameron. Much like Cameron, he also suspected the referendum would fail — however, his popularity among the electorate was credited with swinging the referendum in favour of Brexit. It's telling that after Cameron resigned, Johnson didn't even contest the subsequent leadership battle. (It is speculated however that the real reason Johnson didn't stand was due to another prominent Brexiter Michael Gove backstabbing him and trying to become Leader himself.) And that didn't work either, as Cameron's successor Theresa May made such a hash of the negotiations with the EU that she was forced to resign, and Johnson was tapped to be PM — and was thus in charge of negotiating a course of action he didn't even really want.
    • Brexit was also part of how outsider candidate Jeremy Corbyn gained the Labour leadership in 2015 — Conservatives who were afraid of losing their majority lobbied hard for Corbyn, even encouraging readers to join the Labour Party (it cost just £3) to vote in the leadership election for Corbyn. The idea was that Corbyn was hard-left and so unpalatable to the electorate that people would vote in the Tories just to avoid him. Once the referendum came down, Theresa May called a snap election in 2017 hoping to take advantage of the distaste for Corbyn and pick up an electoral mandate to make Brexit happen. It backfired on her, as the Conservatives did lose their majoritynote . The Tories lucked out in 2019, once the popular (or at least more popular then Jeremy Corbyn) Boris Johnson was the PM and they battered Labour in their worst defeat since Margaret Thatcher, due to the Tories running a very successful smear campaign against Corbyn and many people in the country just wanting Brexit to be completed at any cost.
  • The Affordable Care Act, popularly known as "Obamacare" after the President who introduced it, has seen a lot of attempts to curb or sabotage it go this way. While Republicans have an incredible distaste for the government spending money on things, it turns out that American health care is so expensive, tedious, and scam-riddled that even Republicans who need medical care (of whom there are many) came around on Obamacare. At one point, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner tried to demonstrate what a shitshow Obamacare was by making a show of trying to enroll through the website — only to be fully approved in 45 minutes. Every attempt by the Republicans to scuttle Obamacare — which ramped up significantly once Donald Trump became president — was thwarted by the program's growing popularity.
  • In November 2011, the Australian Labor Party managed to get Liberal Party member Peter Slipper appointed as the Speaker of the House of Representatives because doing so would effectively neutralise Slipper and increase Labor's "wafer-thin" majority in the House. The Party's motives turned out to be the least of their problems with Slipper, who was forced to take a leave of absence in April 2012 when he was investigated from misuse of cabcharge vouchers, before eventually resigning as Speaker in October over sexual harassment allegations by James Ashby, a member of his staff. His Deputy Speaker who eventually succeeded him was Anna Burke, a Labor member.
  • In 2012, Republican lawmaker Mitch McConnell introduced a bill that would allow the president to raise the debt ceiling. It was intended as a bluff to prove that Democrats were so split on the issue that they would vote against it. Instead, the Democrats agreed enough to it for a straight up or down vote, which forced McConnell to filibuster his own bill.
  • Part of the reason why the 2016 United States Presidential election was so attention-grabbing and memorable was because it contained two examples of this trope:
    • According to author Michael Wolf's insider view, Donald Trump's 2016 presidential victory is this trope writ large. Trump only ran for president to bolster his brand and springboard new business opportunities; he and his campaign team were expecting to narrowly lose to Hillary Clinton. Instead, his surprise upset derailed their hopes, with Trump himself "looking like he'd seen a ghost" when the results were announced. This left the country with a highly unprepared presidential transition team.
    • It's known in hindsight that this trope applies to Bernie Sanders' 2016 Presidential run. Since Hillary Clinton spent years working the backrooms to ensure she wouldn't run into another poison pill that would again foil her White House ambitions, Sanders feared that she would utilize her easy victory in the election to pursue neoliberal policies that would completely sell out the party's progressive wing. Thus, Sanders sought to organize a primary challenger on Hillary's left to protect their interests. However, he couldn't find a candidate as everyone he approached feared that running against her would be career suicide. Left with no other choice, Sanders made himself the candidate.note  However, Sanders would up amassing a massive following among economically disillusioned young people and inadvertently tapped into a seething backlash among the party's base against the idea of Hillary Clinton being shoved down their throats as an "inevitable" candidate they have no chance of stopping. Hillary's cakewalk to the nomination wound up being a bruising battle that lasted into the summer, with both campaigns going to the convention, though it was more-or-less mathematically impossible for Sanders to win by then.note  Sanders would up emerging from the campaign as one of the most famous and popular politicians in the country, the undisputed leader of the Democratic Party's progressive wing and having a left a unquestionable footprint in popular culture. Insiders of his campaign believe that if he had been actually running to win from the beginning, he may have been America's 45th President. Now of course this trope doesn't apply to when he ran again in 2020, because he was running to win from the very beginning that time.
  • This may have been how women were included as a protected class in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the legislation famous for protecting the civil rights of American blacks. Democrat Howard W. Smith, who opposed the already controversial bill, added the provisions protecting women, thinking the whole package would be so overwhelming that it wouldn't pass — but it did. While historians are divided on whether Smith was actually ambivalent toward women's rights, they agree that he opposed the bill and wanted it to fail.
  • In 1887, a group of men against women in politics put Susanna Salter's name in the ballot list for Argonia in Kansas, for humiliation purposes. However, despite not even knowing she was a candidate until the ballot day, several defections and supports in her favor ended up securing her a large majority, hence making her the very first woman to be elected as mayor in the United States.
  • In some elections it is possible to not only vote for a party list, but also for individidual candidates on that list, in effect re-arranging the order of candidates on the list. This system is known as panachage, because Everything Sounds Sexier in French. In some elections, the last place on the list (having no realistic chance of winning a seat, but still prominent on the ballot as most humans pay attention to the first and last elements of a list more than those in the middle) is deliberately filled with someone known and beloved by the (local) public but not necessarily a "career politician". In the Netherlands this practice is known as "Lijstduwer" ("list pusher" in analogy to the Lead Candidate beig the "Lijsttrekker" or "list-puller" - in essence Dutch party lists operate in a push-pull configuration). While in the Netherlands the "job" of the Lijstduwer is to attract votes to their party (votes for individual candidates on a party list still count toward the vote total of that party in many systems with Panachage), it is generally understood that they are not supposed to actually take office if elected. However, there Ain't No Rule saying they can't. And in many local elections in Germany where people have been brow-beat by fellow party members to run on the last spot of their party list, they suddenly find themselves elected due to being well-known and beloved locally (and thus receiving votes from friends or acquaintances who otherwise vote straight-ticket of an opposing party) and feel duty-bound to actually serve. A six year term in many cases. Oops.

    Print Media 
  • In his book Antifragility, Nassim Taleb recalls a colleague from his Wall Street days, a trader who disliked his firm and decided to get himself fired from it by making big, high-risk bets. Some of them, however, paid off... and since the risk had been high they paid off big. He wound up getting a huge bonus out of it.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan was supposed to be the ultimate Heel when he joined the nWo. Unfortunately, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, the originators of what became the nWo, were obsessed with seeming "cool", so WCW cranked out a ton of nWo merchandise that fans seemingly snapped up without a second thought. Thanks to Executive Meddling, they became enmeshed in the company's inner workings, to the point that Nash got to be made head booker and use his newfound powers to kill Goldberg's huge undefeated streak and beat him for the WCW World Heavyweight Title. This led to the Finger Poke of Doom and the demise of the company two years later. So they failed at what they set out to do, found success, but ultimately planted the seeds of their ultimate demise.
  • The WWF decided to pull a practical joke on Fit Finlay by making him the women's trainer, without doing their homework and realizing he had been running a wrestling school for years and that he had taken a few women through it, nationally renowned Macaela Mercedes among them. The end result was the most success the women's division had had since Alundra Blayze. WWE still found a way to nearly kill the division and stuck Finlay on TV, grooming him to become a jobber, but fans invested too much in him for their tastes. So they stuck him with a little bastard to make him less popular. This made the little bastard popularnote . Eventually WWE just made Finlay a jobber in spite of his popularity and then removed him from the active roster, claiming he was too old. Finlay would then leave WWE to wrestle on the independent circuit and returned about a year later as a full-time road agent.
  • IWA Puerto Rico introduced Sensational Carlitos in 2005 as a parody of Carlos Colon, founder of rival promotion CSP/WWC and of his son Carlito Caribbean Cool, was an illiterate, barefoot Rummage Sale Reject of a cabana boy who thought of himself as a patriotic Boricua. Fans didn't laugh at him; they loved him, putting IWA PR in the awkward position of having to push a knockoff presented to make their competition look bad. But at least they made money. WWC itself was only too happy to sign and push Carlitos after IWA PR folded.
  • There is a belief that WWE's writers and John Cena are attempting to have him pull a Face–Heel Turn by making his opponents (except The Nexus) look good, but the female and younger male members of the WWE Universe just kept eating this up and cheering for Cena even more, preventing this from happening.note 
  • Nothing CM Punk could do, be it his holier-than-thou attitude or attempt to flee the company with the WWE Championship, would keep half the WWE crowd from cheering for him. The feud between Randy Orton and Christian was between two guys who will always get huge pop no matter how heelish they act (Christian being the nominal heel), but for CM Punk — he was in his hometown of Chicago on the night he won the world title. And he was also feuding with Triple H, who was actually loathed by WWE fans outside of Kayfabe. If you can't recognize Draco in Leather Pants (fans in the post-territorial era tend to cheer for wrestlers they think are good before booing wrestlers for being assholes) and don't consider how to counteract it if you're dead set on fighting it, it will always lead to this.
  • Beth Phoenix and Natalya turned heel and supposedly formed an alliance to stop WWE from being taken over by "the Barbie doll Divas". They still got more pops than Divas Champion Kelly Kelly. What makes the last scenario all the more absurd is that Beth was friends with Kelly literally one day before Kelly won the championship. Her abrupt heel turn only came about because Kelly's scheduled feuding partner, Kharma, had to take a year off from wrestling after becoming pregnant.
  • Damien Sandow was given a stupid gimmick where he would impersonate other people, including Vince McMahon, culminating in him becoming The Miz's stunt double. You can imagine how perplexed the suits at WWE were when "Damien Mizdow" ended up more over than the man he was impersonating.
  • Mick Foley repeatedly came up with ideas with the purpose of them being stupid but which turned out brilliant and succeeded despite Mick's best efforts. These include the Dude Love entrance video, the debut of "Mr. Socko" and the "Rock, This Is Your Life" segment from the September 27, 1999 Raw, which drew a whopping 8.4 quarter hour rating.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Spitting Image made "The Chicken Song" as a Take That! to catchy summer pop tunes, only to have the song reach #1.
    From the shores of Spain
    To the coast of southern France
    No matter where you hide
    You just can't escape this dance

  • When Humphrey Lyttelton originally auditioned for the Radio 4 panel game I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, he was apparently in a bad mood and really didn't want the part, so he spent the entire show being irritable and sarcastic. Everyone else loved this, and so he ended up hosting it from 1972 up until his death in 2008. Apparently he was the only thing people liked about the first show, and Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden felt they'd done so badly that they turned to each other afterwards and said, "Never again." When it was picked up and became the BBC mainstay that it is, they made this a good-luck ritual.


  • In draft systems for professional sports, teams choose players in reverse order of their record. The team with the worst record gets the first choice, then the second-worst team picks, then the third-worst, and so on up to the champions (who have to pick last). The idea is to allow struggling teams a way to restock with new talent and compete for the title again. The problem is that this encourages teams that are clearly not going to be contending for a title to lose on purpose in order to get better draft positions. The process is known as "tanking", named for a metaphor in which the sports league is a big tank full of water; a team that's losing on purpose is trying to sink to the bottom of the proverbial tank. Some leagues use a "draft lottery" system which determines the first few picks in random order so that tanking is discouraged, and that might lead to the Springtime for Hitler trope in full effect. A team deliberately tries to fail in order to get the first pick in the lottery, only to have that pick go to someone else, rendering their efforts at tanking All for Nothing.
    • Basketball:
      • The NBA first implemented the draft lottery in 1985. The previous year, the Houston Rockets were accused of tanking hard to win the first overall pick in a very deep draft (they got Hakeem Olajuwon, who helped them win two titles in 1994 and 1995, but the third-overall was a guy you might have heard of named Michael Jordan). And then, in 1985, the NBA was accused of rigging the lottery in favor of the New York Knicks, allowing them to draft Patrick Ewing.
      • 2013-14 was a very weird year for NBA tanking, as even a quarter of the way into the season, only two teams in the Eastern Conference (Miami and Indiana) had a winning record — the rest were trying to tank. This led to the oddity of the Toronto Raptors, who had been trying to tank earlier in the season, giving up on losing, getting to the playoffs (with a winning record), and taking the much more experienced Brooklyn Nets down to the wire before losing Game 7 by a single point. ...Win?
    • American Football: The NFL season is only 17 games and has no draft lottery. As such, a bad team winning one game can have disastrous consequences at a franchise-changing pick. And even a team that expected to be good might have their season turn irreversibly sour after only a handful of games. Tanking is thus particularly rampant and obvious in football:
      • In 1968, the Philadelphia Eagles started 0-11 and had their sights set on USC's Heisman-winning running back O. J. Simpsonnote  — except that they surprisingly won their next two games, with no hope of actually making the playoffs, giving the Buffalo Bills the opportunity to finish with a worse record and snap up Simpson. To add insult to injury, the pissed-off Philadelphia fans packed the stadium for the Eagles' final game (which they lost) and took their frustration out by pelting snowballs at Santa Clausnote , an event which is brought up to this day when describing Philadelphia sports fans. To add more insult to injury, the Eagles' 2-12 record tied them with the Atlanta Falcons, necessitating a coin flip for the second overall pick — which the Falcons won. To add even more insult to injury, the Eagles' pick, Leroy Keyes, was a draft bust — and right after them at #4, the Pittsburgh Steelers picked "Mean" Joe Greene, a cornerstone of their defense who would help them win four Super Bowls in the 1970s.
      • Teams that have decided to tank have been known to trade away important players in a bid to lose games. The weirdest version of this came in 2019, when the Miami Dolphins traded away basically everyone of note (including safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who promptly turned his new team the Pittsburgh Steelers into one of the league's best defenses) and ate up $66 million in dead cap space (i.e. spent on players not on the roster), only to be out-sucked by the Cincinnati Bengals, who weren't even tanking — they just sucked.note  A variant happened in 2011, when the Indianapolis Colts' star quarterback Peyton Manning missed the entire season with a neck injury which observers suspected may have been exaggerated to give the Colts a chance to draft Manning's successor in Andrew Luck. In both cases, their draft chances were nearly jeopardized by their replacement-level quarterbacks actually playing pretty well, effectively auditioning for a job elsewhere the following season.
      • Tanking teams can have such a dire reputation that highly touted draft picks may refuse to play for them. In 1983, John Elway was drafted by the Baltimore Colts but refused to play for them — he was traded to the Denver Broncos, where he made it to five Super Bowls and won two of them. In 2004, Eli Manning refused to play for the San Diego Chargers and was traded to the New York Giants, where he won two Super Bowls. And in 1986, Bo Jackson (he of Game-Breaker status in Tecmo Bowl) attributed his refusal to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers partly because of thisnote  — he re-entered the NFL's supplemental draft in 1987 and was picked by the Los Angeles Raiders.
    • In Baseball, the biggest failed tank came from the 2008 Seattle Mariners, who had their eye on top pitching prospect Steven Strasburg. With two games left, the Mariners had the worst record in the league, one loss more than the Washington Nationals. But the Mariners won both of their last two games thanks to the usually uber-terrible Yuniesky Betancourt having the best two games of his career, and the Nationals finished last and picked Strasburg — who helped them win the World Series (considered a nearly impossible prospect for that franchise) in 2019.
    • The NHL uses a draft lottery system, but it doesn't prevent tanking very well. 2015 was probably the weirdest year, in which the bottom two teams — the Phoenix Coyotes and the Buffalo Sabres — both tried to tank to pick up once-in-a-generation phenom Connor McDavid, leading to a game between the two teams in Buffalo where the fans actively cheered against their team. The Coyotes won in overtime, and the Buffalo fans roared as if their own team had scored. Neither team got McDavid, as the Edmonton Oilers won that year's draft lottery.note 
  • This happens in Olympics in Sailing, owing to the scoring system used, as with Ben Ainslie taking Gold in the 2000 Sydney Games. Ainslie led going into the final race knowing that if Brazil's Robert Scheidt finished 22nd or lower, he would win gold. Ainslie thus tacked and tacked upon Scheidt's wind to stall his rival and subsequently push him down the fleet. Ainslie finished 37th, but Scheidt was 22nd, giving Ainslie the gold. Scheidt failed to realize that he needed to accumulate points on his own.
  • This happened in the last round-robin group match of the 1998 Tiger Cup soccer tournament was between Thailand and Indonesia. Regardless of the outcome of the game, both were already guaranteed to advance to the semi-finals, but whichever team won that game would face Vietnam while the loser would face Singapore. Both Thailand and Indonesia thought Singapore would be the easier opponent. This led to both teams playing to lose, culminating in Thailand deliberately kicking the ball into their own goal while Indonesia tried to stop them. Ironically, they'd both proceed to lose in the semi-finals, while Singapore would go on to win the whole tournament.
  • In the 2012 Summer Olympics, the badminton rounds were changed from a knockout format to a round-robin one, meaning that the winner was more often decided based on who won bigger against the worst team in the group. This meant that it served the teams just fine to lose the first game. Cue an Epic Fail match between the Chinese and South Korean teams trying to one-up each other in hilariously poor serves with the Chinese ultimately proving to be better at losing. And then both teams got disqualified for basically making every other badminton player hide their faces in shame, so everybody lost in the end.
  • Algerian sprinter Taoufik Makhloufi was ejected from the 2012 Olympics for not trying in his 800m event (Algeria failed to withdraw him on time, forcing him to compete), instead choosing to save his energy for the 1500m event. Makhloufi was reinstated in time to win gold. An outcry of a Double Standard followed, as a French sprinter did the same exact thing as Makhloufi but faced zero consequences.
  • In baseball leagues without designated hitters, it's accepted that a pitcher might just take a strikeout without even attempting to hit, out of fear that actually trying to swing at the ball might result in an injury. This was the case on August 14, 2011, when Giants reliever Santiago Casilla came to the plate for his first career at-bat in eight seasons. He stood as far from the plate as he could, with the bat down. This threw off Marlins pitcher Jose Ceda so badly that he failed to throw a single strike and walked Casilla on four pitches. In other words, a batter who deliberately tried to strike out was awarded first base without doing anything.
  • Donald Crowhurst entered the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, which gave a a £5000 prize to whoever was the fastest to sail around the world solo without stopping in order to drum up publicity for his failing business. Crowhurst had to mortgage his home and said business as collateral for sponsorship with the condition that if Crowhurst didn't finish, he would lose everything. When the race started, Crowhurst realized his boat was not ready for the rigors of sailing around the world, so Crowhurst started dithering around the Atlantic while reporting fake positions on his journey. Crowhurst knew that he would be exposed if his logbook was scrutinized, so he planned to come in last place. With nearly every other competitor dropping out, Crowhurst's last hope was to finish behind the only other remaining contestant, Nigel Tetley. Unfortunately for Crowhurst, Tetley drove himself too hard to "catch up" and capsized his boat, meaning Crowhurst was going to get the speed record prize by default, wherein his logs would be examined and he would lose everything he owned. Facing utter financial ruin, Crowhurst killed himself by jumping over his boat.
  • This is how Formula One racer Kimi Räikkönen nearly bankrupted Lotus' racing team. For the 2012 and 2013 seasons, they signed him with a bonus of €50,000 per point he scored, thinking that, having just come out of a two-year retirement from Formula One to compete in rallying, he would be rusty and would wind up near the middle of the pack. Instead, "the Iceman" proved that he was still one of the best race car drivers of his generation, winning €19.5 million off the points bonus alone over the course of his two years with Lotus to the point that the team was struggling to pay the bills, and reacted with dread when he showed up to race in the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after initially seeming like he wouldn't. Lotus breathed a sigh of relief when Räikkönen left their team in 2014 to return to Ferrari. To this day, Lotus still owes him money.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Gary Morley, former sculptor for Games Workshop, is responsible for the infamous original Nagash model from Warhammer. A suit had rejected his original (much better) head sculpt, so Gary created the "Bobo the Evil Skeleton" head in the belief that the cartoonish job would get rejected and he could go with the one closer to the artwork. It was approved.
  • Princess: The Hopeful began as a parody, with the author reasoning that no-one could take a game about Magical Girls in the Crapsack World that is the Chronicles of Darkness seriously. The fans thought it had serious potential and after expansion and a few Cerebus Retcons it became one of the most popular and acclaimed fan gamelines.

  • The Marx Brothers were originally struggling as a primarily musical act before an appearance in Texas, where the audience left the theatre during a performance to go watch a mule. This outraged the team, and they began breaking from their script to abuse the audience with pointed jokes. Instead of getting angry, the audience ate it up, and the family realized that their real talent lay in comedy.

    Video Games 
  • Ian Bogost created Cow Clicker as a satire of social games like Farmville. The idea was to distill the games down to core mechanics to expose how ridiculous they are. However, not only did Cow Clicker actually became popular (with some people even paying real life money to click their cows more often), but it ended up spawning an entire genre of similar games.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty could have been titled "You want me to make a sequel even though I don't want to? Here you go. It's about how much the player sucks. I hope that teaches you a lesson" if that weren't so cumbersome. Supposedly, Hideo Kojima has kept this up for the entire franchise, repeatedly trying to sabotage his own games so that he never has to make another one. The fact that he's up to the fifth numbered Metal Gear Solid game (plus a handful of side games), after vowing that the first, second, and third Metal Gear Solid game would be the last Metal Gear game he would ever direct, should indicate roughly how successful this had been. Unfortunately, there had been alleged death threats involved each time he tries to quit. The aforementioned fourth Metal Gear Solid game, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, was filled with "there, happy now?" moments, like Doing In the Wizard of Vamp's unexplained powers in a deliberately unsatisfying way. It got to the point where Kojima wanted to have Snake and Otacon brought in for terrorism charges and executed at the end of Metal Gear Solid 4. His staff refused to work with him until he changed the ending. The way he finally succeeded was not on happy terms — right as the fifth game was finishing up development, he just up and left Konami, fed up with their unfair treatment of employees.
  • Divekick was meant as a spoof to poke fun at the Fighting Game genre and the EVO pro-gaming scene. Instead of being a complicated fighting game with many buttons and combos, the game simply has two commands: Dive and Kick. The game became a huge hit in the EVO scene, because of its simple yet hard-to-master concept — creating many competitive matches. As a result, the creator of the game, in 2013, started heavily promoting it for release on the PlayStation Network and the PC, and it became a main tournament feature at the EVO Championships.
  • This is apparently the story behind the ZX Spectrum version of SQIJ!, widely regarded as one of the worst Spectrum games of all time. The author, Jason Creighton, signed a contract with the publisher to make the game, but later got into an argument and wanted to cancel the contract. He couldn't, so he decided to make use of one of the clauses, and deliberately create the worst game imaginable so that it would get rejected. It was accepted for publication, despite being literally impossible to play due to a Game-Breaking Bug and technically illegal to own and distribute due to containing an unencrypted copy of the Laser BASIC programming tool.
  • Because Naughty Dog was sick of Crash Bandicoot for a myriad of reasons, they tried to Torch the Franchise and Run in Crash Team Racing by making the antagonist an alien. They believed people wouldn't take the game seriously and would turn their backs on the game, but instead, it's fondly remembered as one of the best PlayStation games, and the alien in question, Nitros Oxide, became a pretty popular character.
    Jason Ruben: We actually tried to kill Crash. In CTR, we said "What won't anybody believe?" Because this was our last game. "Let's put aliens in. We'll bring in an alien, no one will like Crash after that 'cause there's an alien. This'll be the end, we've jumped the shark, the alien came into CTR." Everybody loved it!
  • Did you know that Microsoft's game console family was almost never called "Xbox"? That's because Microsoft's marketing team disliked the name (which is derived from the DirectX Application Programming Interface), and left it among the suggested names at focus testing to show its unpopularity. Instead, the focus groups loved the name, leading to it being selected.
  • By the account of one of the designers of the Nokia N-Gage, he was so sick of Executive Meddling that he decided to submit a joke design based on the infamous Shock Site Goatse. It not only passed, but became the N-Gage's finalized design.

    Web Animation 
  • The cast of Red vs. Blue originally didn't want Becca Frasier to voice Sister, so they sabotaged her audition in an attempt to discourage her by giving her increasingly more and more vulgar lines to see how far she could go before she refused to say them. To their surprise, Becca had no limits at all, and she ended up getting the part.
  • This video theorizes this is what happened with Cat Face and The Annoying Orange. Both started out as darkly comedic satires of saccharine kids shows and loud and obnoxious tween comedy, respectfully. Then the audience for both series ended up consisting of mostly children who unironically liked said content, and they ended up transforming into the very thing they were mocking.


    Web Original 
  • 4chan's /v/ board attempted to ensure that Reddit wouldn't again blatantly copy their memes by intentionally modifying the Rustled Jimmies meme. It was changed into "le monkey face", a Take That! against Reddit as a terribly unfunny joke. Reddit, however, accepted "le monkey face" as a meme, mostly because it was ironic. This also led to intentionally modifying memes to resemble vectors for rage comics becoming a meme of its own on 4chan, one of them being altered versions of Trollface.
  • The Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris (in which Islamist terrorists attacked a satirical magazine that had printed cartoons of The Prophet Muhammad) led to the proliferation of the Twitter hashtag "#jesuischarlie" ("I am Charlie") in support of the magazine. It grew to be so mawkish and "slacktivistic" that a Twitter user, taking advantage of the death of a police dog in a raid on a terrorist safehouse in Paris, started the hashtag "#jesuischien" ("I am dog") to mock the phenomenon. It was then taken up by many Twitter users who thought that it was sincere.
  • In 2014, a writer for Cracked attempted to create the "Worst Online Dating Profile Ever" on dating website OKCupid. It included such nuggets as claiming her occupation was "partying lol my parents think I'm in law school so they pay all my bills lmao!", "I convinced my ex I was pregnant and he still pays me child support, lolol", and a typical Friday night of hers was "knocking the cups out of homeless people's hands, it's so funny". But the profile picture was one of an attractive friend of the writer. The profile was still deluged with messages from hundreds of men, many of whom still begged for a date after she responded with complete nonsense or repeated insults.
  • Some TV Tropes forum games revolve around coming up with humorously bad ideas for additions to the site. Sometimes, these ideas aren't as bad as originally thought:

    Web Videos 
  • The Cinema Snob and Phelous teamed up to review Troll 4, a movie that doesn't exist. During the review they put in a lot of cameos from other Channel Awesome contributors, something known to piss off the fandom, including JewWario's sole line being leaping out of an elevator and declaring "CAMEO!" The creators were surprised when people actually enjoyed the video. This ended up having long-reaching effects, since it broke the back of the Vocal Minority in the fandom who hated crossovers by revealing how small it actually was.
  • TotalBiscuit made an Angrish and exaggerated rage filled WTF Is... video for I Wanna Be the Guy: Gaiden both to make fun of similar videos and to see if his fanbase would recognize it as stupid and dislike it. It became one of his highest rated videos.
  • The Runaway Guys:
    • The LP of Mario Party 4, in Episode 2 of Goomba's Greedy Gala: Chuggaaconroy and ProtonJon are neck and neck for first place, with one star each and Chugga just ahead of Jon by four coins, while the AI player is right in front of the Boo house with enough coins to steal a star from one of them. Aware that the AI will only choose to steal from whoever is officially in first place, they both try to lose as much money as possible before the AI's turn. Chugga loses eight coins by playing the lottery and losing, then landing on a red space, putting Jon ahead of him. Jon goes to the roulette, bribes the Goomba manning the wheel twenty coins to change the outcome... and wins all those coins back, cementing his "lead" and the AI stealing his star.
      Chugga: Even when you are incredibly lucky, you still have shit luck.
    • In Boo's Haunted Bash (Part 2): Chugga, Jon, and the AI are in front of a star. Chugga knows he can't get it, but Jon might be able to before the AI. So during the next mini-game (which is a coin-collecting game), Chugga, who is teamed up with Jon, tries to get Jon away from as many coins as possible. This fails miserably as they not only get enough coins for the star, they actually end up getting more coins than Tim and the AI!
  • The Two Best Friends Play feature Shitty Games Done Slow is pretty much what it sounds like — an Affectionate Parody of Awesome Games Done Quick that focuses on not-so-awesome games and plays them not-so-quickly. But the very first game in the feature was MindJack, and they accidentally beat both their predicted time and the only existing record they could find. They concluded that this was because the game was so unpopular that there was just no competition to speedrun it.
  • All over the place in Twitch Plays Pokémon:
    • In the original Twitch Plays Pokémon Red, the Voices went right up against the Elite Four without grinding (they tried doing it in the Burned Mansion, but it was time-consuming and too dangerous) — they'd keep losing, but they'd gain a lot of XP in the process. In one such run, they got all the way to Lance's last Pokémon, but their Mons were all so banged up that they figured they didn't have a chance — so they sent out their underleveled Venomoth "ATV" against Lance's powerful Dragonite in an attempt to get wiped out quickly. But Pokemon Red's programming meant that Dragonite would spam whichever move had a type advantage over Venomoth — which, in this case, was Agility, a status-enhancing move that does no damage. This allowed Venomoth to beat Dragonite through Death by a Thousand Cuts and win the fight. Then they got shit-stomped by Blue — but when they returned, things were far different.
    • Twitch Plays Pokémon Red Anniversary was a challenge run where they had to catch all 151 Pokémon. To get money for Poké Balls, they went up against the Elite Four to grind for money, then planned to lose to teleport them back to the entrance with some of the earnings. Instead, they beat the Elite Four and ended up back in Pallet Town.
  • When LoadingReadyRun first moved to YouTube, they did a disconnected bunch of fake viral-bait videos completely unlike their usual sketch comedy as a joke tied into their sitcom series. Then one of them, Nunchuck Jousting, happened to go into rotation as one of those random Internet clips late-night shows run sometimes. The result is that more people have seen this deliberately lowbrow nut-shot gag than everything else they've done put together.
  • Youtuber Let's Game It Out, fond of Videogame Cruelty Potential, decided to run his company into the ground when playing Smartphone Tycoon. He created unergonomic, underpowered, overpriced, ugly phones that were produced in the greatest numbers the game would allow, while working with only the cheapest employees possible, and made every succeeding model identical to the last. Unfortunately, it turned out that the game was so poorly programmed that the phones still sold out regardless; in only a few years, he owned a Mega-Corp worth 993 quadrillion dollars. Variations on "won the game despite deliberately playing as wrong as possible" happen in his videos so often that a lot of his fans suspect the main reason creators keep sending him early access codes is for bug testing.

    Western Animation 
  • When Max and Dave Fleischer were approached by Paramount to produce Superman Theatrical Cartoons, they tried scaring the company off by suggesting that they needed an enormous $100,000 budget for each film, four times what Walt Disney spent on his films. To their shock, Paramount compromised at $50,000 and the Fleischers were committed to the biggest-budget animated Short Film series in Hollywood history.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: Craig McCracken supposedly wrote the "City of Clipsville" episode, which featured one "skit" with the Girls as teenagers dating the Rowdyruff Boys, because he didn't like how overused the plot was becoming in fanfics and wanted to show how absurd it was. The episode actually became one of the most popular in the show's run.
  • Chuck Jones created the Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner cartoons as a way of mocking and satirizing overly-formulaic "chase" cartoons, such as Tom and Jerry. They wound up being some of his most popular cartoons.
  • Aaron McGruder created Uncle Ruckus, an original character, for The Boondocks animated series. He was a Boomerang Bigot meant to be the most hated character on the show. Instead, he became one of the most popular, for all the wrong reasons (and occasionally for the right ones too).
  • Even fans of Clone High who know that the episode "Litter Kills: Literally" is meant to be a harsh satire on shows that introduce a new character just to kill them off for the sake of cheap drama have said that it plays JFK's brokenness so straight that it goes from the show's typical parody of the Very Special Episode to an actual VSE about grief.
  • When approached by the producers of The Simpsons to guest-animate a Couch Gag, John Kricfalusi wasn't entirely enthusiastic, having been a vocal detractor of the show since its earliest days, and his first instinct was to tell them to go jump off a cliff. However, he was intrigued enough by the creative possibilities of doing a couch gag to tell the producers that he'd make one for them, but only on condition that he would have total creative control, that he would produce it himself with a hand-picked selection of animators, and that the producers could not alter one frame of what he sent them. His past experiences with Executive Meddling led him to believe that they'd probably turn him down right away, so he naturally ended up surprised when they actually agreed to his conditions.

  • "Lord" Timothy Dexter (1747-1806) was an eccentric American businessman who owed his success to the fact that people kept giving him deliberately bad advice for business ventures in order to embarrass and financially ruin him, only to be frustrated when he actually followed their advice and made huge profits through sheer dumb luck. For example, he actually sold coal to Newcastle (a coal mining town) at a profit because there just happened to be a miner's strike when he arrived.
  • The City of Pasadena was founded in part by a bankroller who wanted to capitalize on medical tourism, which was popular at the time, and short-sell the land, believing it to be a fad vacation spot. Then the railroad came and it is now one of the biggest cities in California.
  • The Girl Scout detailed in this article wrote a brutally honest and negative review of her organization's cookies. ("The toffee-tastic is a bleak, flavorless, gluten-free wasteland. I'm telling you, it's as flavorless as dirt.") The result? Her sales have skyrocketed, nearly hitting the group's record.
  • Shorting a stock can become an example of this, if the buyer is unlucky. Here's how it works: someone borrows shares of stock from someone else with interest, sells the stock at a high price, and then hopes the stock price goes down so they can buy the stocks back cheap, ultimately making a profit. However, if the price of the shorted stocks goes up, it forces the person who shorted the stock to buy it back at a loss. In short, you lost money because the stock you wanted to fail ended up succeeding.
    • A notorious example occurred in January 2021, when GameStop was one of the most shorted stocks, particularly by hedge funds who were certain of the chain's collapse. This was noticed by a number of Reddit users (specifically the subreddit r/wallstreetbets), who started buying up GameStop's stock en masse, forcing the value of the company's stock through the roof. Because the hedge funds had to buy back massive amounts of stocks all at a loss, this effectively cost the hedge funds billions of dollars, benefitted GameStop in the process (to the ire of those who betted on GameStop failing), and got those who bought the stock just to sell it later a massive amount of money.
  • Superstar Limo at Disney California Adventure was originally planned as a high-speed dark ride involving the guests (as movie stars) boarding a limousine and fleeing through Hollywood from mobs of nosy paparazzi. Unfortunately, Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a similar incident during production, forcing them to revamp the ride. Pressed for time and money, Disney's Imagineers decided to hack the ride apart to remove anything even slightly resembling Di's death in favor of slowly trudging through a procession of cheap sight gags and glorified cardboard cutouts (as that was the only thing the budget would allow) in the hopes that when they pitched it to then-CEO Michael Eisner, he would just end up scrapping the ride. Unfortunately for them, he loved the idea, and greenlit what ended up being one of the most universally hated attractions at any Disney park before closing only a year later.