- Banned in China: The game itself wasn't banned in the UK, but they had to change the cover art due to it being illegal to publicly depict smoking in the country. As a result, Duke's cigar was deleted, and his expression changed to a vaguely annoyed look.
- Creator Killer: The game killed 3D Realms and destroyed George Broussard's reputation without even being made... or more accurately, by not being made. And just to twist the knife, after 3D Realms imploded, the game was handed to Gearbox Software by Take-Two Interactive, who only needed one year to finish where Broussard and his team had left off after twelve years in and out of development. According to Word of God, the game was already finished; Broussard's perfectionism and the Take-Two lawsuit were the primary factors that kept it from coming out anywhere close to on-time.
- Development Hell: To put it in perspective, everything on this list took less time to make than this. It's finally over. Among other things, the complete development of nuclear weapons was shorter! It's also Hilarious in Hindsight considering Half-Life 2: Episode Three, which has since overshadowed DNF as the most infamous case of vaporware in the industry by virtue of Duke actually coming out.
- Executive Meddling: George Broussard was infamous at 3D Realms for being a heavy-handed perfectionist. Wanting to keep his beloved Duke as perfect and up-to-date as possible, he went on a decade-long self-appointed quest to apply everything he found interesting into the game, to the point of buying the licenses for entire game engines to force his employees to work around them. The constant delays (which got so bad that circa 2003 the developer changed the release date to "When It's Done") drove publisher and parent company Take-Two Interactive nuts, and they had to resort to threatening lawsuits to get Broussard's team to speed up, following through with the threats in 2007. 3D Realms was dissolved in 2009 and development rights were passed on by Take-Two to Gearbox Software the following year in hopes that the game would actually get out the door. The 14-year long mess nuked Broussard's career.
- Fan Nickname: Duke Nukem For Never. After its release however it started to be referred to by its acronym "DNF" due to matching up perfectly with the racing acronym for "Did Not Finish".
- Fanwork Ban: To some extent. 2K Games' policy of forbidding the inclusion of modding tools made modding difficult.
- Follow the Leader: The biggest criticism of the game (arguably except the sexism) is its similarities to other modern shooters.
- Franchise Killer: Going through one of the most infamous examples of Development Hell in entertainment history more or less put a handicap on the game right away when it finally was given the green light to stores, and the flaws that came out in spite of the "Perfectionist" attempts led to not much being said about Duke after the game was wrapped and Gearbox moved on.
- Genre-Killer: The game came out in 2011, where it bombed spectacularly. A look at mainstream AAA games from 2012 onward suggests a period in which Ms. Fanservice characters and Fanservice in general rapidly became a Discredited Trope, at least amongst Western-developed games in the AAA bracket. Ironically, other than a short strip club level and the Holsom twins (who only interact with you for a couple of minutes), Duke Nukem Forever actually had relatively little of either, though Duke's hedonistic reputation preceded him quite a bit.
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: BEHOLD!◊ The Duke Nukem Forever Balls of Steel Edition! Comes with a bust of Duke himself, an artbook with art through the ages, a limited edition comic book, and other such novelties! All for the heart attack-causingly low price of $99.99! If you live in the US and are near a Gamestop or have access to Amazon, that is. No actual Balls of Steel included, though.
- Network to the Rescue: Gearbox bought the game to publish (allegedly, with funds embezzled from production of another game, Aliens: Colonial Marines).Randy: Duke can never die, man.
- No Export for You: Zig-Zagging Trope: the Russian version of the game is a separate Steam entity. Meaning: it is locked out of Steam's usual language-selection options, as well as any patches and DLC, because the localization company and 2K Games cannot agree on whose responsibility it is to adapt them for the locked-down Russian-only release. All the appropriate access and unlock codes are provided, but they are simply not compatible with the Russian version.
- Promoted Fanboy: Randy Pitchford, who worked on Duke Nukem 3D as a junior developer, states he was (and is) Duke Nukem's biggest fan, and made sure that 3D Realms' game wouldn't die.
- Real Song Theme Tune: Duke returns to kick some alien ass to the tune of "Invaders Must Die". Another trailer features "Battleflag" from Lo Fidelity Allstars. Ultimately, they make a new remix of the classic Grabbag theme from Duke Nukem 3D.
- Relationship Voice Actor: The Holsom twins are voiced in the Japanese dub by Eri Kitamura and Yuko Goto, aka Alleyne and Menace and Sayaka Miki and Junko Kaname. Miso and Chastity are voiced by Izumi Kitta and Sora Tokui, aka Cordelia and Nero and Applejack and Rainbow Dash in Japanese.
- Schedule Slip: A decade-long example due to Development Hell and Vaporware; it was "coming soon" for 14 years before finally being released in June 2011 (after suffering one last one month delay, a fact the developers readily lampshaded). It took transferring property of the game from 3D Realms to Gearbox to make it happen.
- Talking to Himself: Near the beginning of the game Duke gets into a brief argument with an obnoxious tourist sitting on his throne. The obnoxious tourist is also played by Jon St. John, apparently. It seems the guy has a pretty impressive vocal range.
- Troubled Production: Instead of ruining a single man's career, the issues demolished DNF's development staff. The fourteen-year Development Hell that ensued was due to switching engines, 3D Realms founder George Broussard publicly insulting DNF's publisher, tons of changes beyond engine switches that would necessitate restarting the entire project, and more. DNF is truly spectacular, in that its production was so troubled that the staff had nothing worth publicly showing aside from a couple of screenshots. In the end, Gearbox Software took over production, and suddenly revealed the game would come out. Gearbox took the code and levels that 3D Realms had "finished" — which were largely conceptual and unrelated — and, in one year, completed the project that 3D Realms couldn't in fourteen.
- Un-Canceled: After 14 years in Development Hell, the game was finally released. Always bet on Duke!
- Unintentional Period Piece: Due to Development Hell causing the game to be delayed continually since its inception 13 years prior to its release, it has the unintended disadvantage of playing as though certain parts were only added in a certain year when they were the latest trend in gaming. The gameplay borders on Genre Roulette as it tries to mimic late-90s cornball camp shooters where you can interact with everything, early-2000s dark sci-fi shooters with frequent turret defense or hold-the-line segments and vehicle sections where you have to get out at regular intervals, and late-2000s grim realistic shooters where nearly every NPC on your side dies practically in sequence - Zero Punctuation noted that "you could practically cut it in half and see the entire fourteen years of shooter evolution it's tried to keep up with, like the rings in a tree stump" - the humor is outdated by several years, the references to previous installments are years (and even decades) out of date, and as a whole the game is much slower-paced than 2010-era FPS's. In addition, several of the "topical references" include Expies of the Olsen Twins (last relevant in 2004), an out-of-date Take That! directed at Halo (height of the Master Chief's popularity was in 2007; note as well this immediate precedes a close replication of a Halo level), a quickly-killed character named after Leeroy Jenkins (a resilient joke, to be sure, but one from 2005), several one-liners lifted from a "Ventrilo Harassment" video (another thing most popular around 2007), one vehicle section including a massive car that runs out of gas after a five-minute drive (the brand most heavily associated with that sort of vehicle closed in 2009), and a near-exact replication of the infamous Christian Bale rant from the set of Terminator Salvation (already fading by late 2009). Because of this effect, the mechanics that were added more recently (Duke having a regenerating "Ego" bar instead of health, running out of breath after sprinting short distances, only being able to carry two weapons with maybe four full mags for each at once and invisible walls around absolutely every object) stick out like a sore thumb instead of "making the game to today's players". This also pretty clearly dates it to before the halfway point of the decade, prior to games like 2014's Wolfenstein: The New Order or 2016's reboot of Doom, both of which deliberately eschewed several of these "modern" mechanics and were largely praised for it.
- What Could Have Been:
- Forever started as a sidescrolling platform game based on the engine of Alien Rampage and the sprites of Duke Nukem 3D. Said project was scrapped, and the title was used for the sequel to Duke Nukem 3D. An unrelated sidescrolling shooter titled Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project, based on the Prism3D engine, was released in 2002.
- Start with the fact that the game we got only ever got finished because many of the levels were shortened, merged, or just cut out and work from there.
- Many of the characters, weapons and setpieces seen in the early trailers were not used for the final version. An Action Girl Distaff Counterpart of Duke (Bombshell) and a character named "The Prospector" were both absent from the final game (and were likely cut long before Gearbox got their hands on the game). Bombshell has since gotten two games.
- There were also plans to introduce a mirror universe "NegaDuke".
- Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw of Zero Punctuation was asked to write the script at one point. Most of the development team absolutely loved his output, but George Broussard was more skeptical and kept asking "Would Duke really do/say this?", and eventually it was turned down. According to Yahtzee it portrayed Duke as an ironic character and made fun of everyone around him, as he believed it would be the best way to reintroduce Duke Nukem to a modern audience. It got scrapped in favor of "Duke played straight in a silly world" that we see now. Yahtzee was given a chance to revise the script to go with this tone, but he declined because that didn't make any sense to him.
Trivia / Duke Nukem Forever