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A rather unpredictable phenomenon, this is when one or more works flop badly enough to take down or badly damage the publishers, the reputation of creative talents behind it, or both. Though there are usually many factors needed to cause the death of a publisher or a creator, some high-profile flops are linked (rightfully or not) to the death of the organization working on it. They will Never Live It Down.

Compare with Genre Killer and Franchise Killer. Not to be confused with Author Existence Failure, Rage Against the Author or The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You, where the creator can be literally killed by his or her work. See Star-Derailing Role when it happens to the performers. See Old Shame for an old work which a creator refuses to let see the light of day, but which by itself probably won't destroy their credibility. Contrast Breakthrough Hit (when the work makes the creator a big name) and Win Back the Crowd (when the work makes the creator a big name after a Creator Killer).

A good number of these entries have been Vindicated by Cable.

Examples of Creator Killer include:

Anime and Manga

  • Fractale was conceived as a way for its director, Yamakan, to make Kyoto Animation regret firing him, with all the resources put into it you'd expect with a goal like that. He was so sure of its success that he said he'd step down if it did poorly. The end result was said to be good, if not great, by most people who watched it to the end. All five or so of them. Yamakan probably would have had to step down even if he hadn't explicitly staked his career on it doing well.
  • Ironically, Yu-Gi-Oh!, the biggest cash cow of 4Kids! Entertainment, almost became this to them; TV Tokyo and NAS yanked the license and sued them over a deal they made with FUNimation, driving 4Kids into bankruptcy within days, though 4Kids was able to subvert this trope and keep its license.

Comic Books

  • The infamous crossover Death Mate is often accused of killing Valiant Comics. (The other side, Image Comics, did recover from it.)
  • After the infamous Clone Saga, it was decided that the Spider-Man titles were to be cancelled and relaunched with new number ones alongside a miniseries written and drawn by John Byrne that would retell Spider-Man's origin. This reboot was notable in that one writer - Howard Mackie - would be looking after both titles. The reboot was heavily promoted with garnered much anticipation amongst fans and critics, with Mackie claiming that they would "fix" the books and make things "fun" again. But things soured after the reboot where Mackie had Spider-Man face off against lackluster villains, engage in weird plots like facing off against vampires, supernatural villains, an alien-infested senator who was set up as the Big Bad of his arc, and- most notably- "killed" Mary Jane Watson. Fan and critical reaction was sour, and soon Mackie's plans were outright scuttled - he was replaced on one of the books by Paul Jenkins, and was given just enough time to wrap up his run and bring back Mary Jane before he was pulled from the title and replaced by J. Michael Straczynski. Mackie's career never recovered from the debacle. In the decade since then, Mackie rarely worked in comics with his last work being a six-issue mini-series that was to serve as a "reinterpretation" of what was to actually have happened in the initial Clone Saga alongside Tom Defalco.
    • The Clone Saga itself also nearly killed Marvel as a whole, making it another example. There were many organizational problems with Marvel at the time, which were one reason The Clone Saga ran overlong and ended up being such a badly-regarded story, and while the series itself sold very well at the time the damage to the corporate culture was long-lasting and can still be felt today. These are partially documented in the web series Life of Reilly.
  • Chuck Austen is, for all intents and purposes, one of the most hated writers in comics, owning mostly to his poor characterization and story telling, along with his attitude towards any criticisms. But, it wasn't until his Superman run that his career as a writer really died. After being kicked out of Marvel for screwing up a lot of books, DC hired him to write Superman...and he was fired shortly afterwards and blacklisted from comics after his short run had a terribly written love triangle based on Austen's unfounded hatred of Lois Lane. He hasn't done anything worth mentioning since.


  • The failure of Titan A.E. brought down both Don Bluth's career and Fox Animation Studios.
  • Cutthroat Island, one of the biggest box office flops of all time, bankrupted the studio Carolco, as well as destroying Geena Davis' career and her then-husband Renny Harlin's respectability as a director. The flop of this film (as well as that of The Long Kiss Goodnight, also starring Davis and directed by Harlin) is widely credited with destroying their marriage, as Harlin had pushed for Davis, then known for comedic roles, to headline the two blockbusters. It also killed off the pirate movie genre until Pirates of the Caribbean came along.
  • Final Fantasy the Spirits Within killed Square Pictures and nearly killed the merger between Squaresoft and Enix,[1] and pressured the guy who came up with the idea for Final Fantasy—probably saving Square Soft from shutting down entirely back in the 1980s—into resigning from the company, since the film was his 100-million-dollar-losing project. To put this into perspective, this was during the Turn of the Millennium, a time when Squaresoft was one of the most successful and dominant video game companies.
  • Heavens Gate contributed to the collapse of its studio, United Artists. Even more infamously, it ended the "New Hollywood" post-studio-system era in which director/auteurs were given carte blanche to do pretty much whatever they wanted. Thus, not only did it kill a studio built by some of the first Hollywood stars, but ended an era that produced many of the best films in history.
    • It particularly wrecked the career of its director, Michael Cimino. In the late '70s, Cimino had won the Academy Award for directing The Deer Hunter, picking up his Auteur License in the process, and was then basically given a blank check to direct his Magnum Opus. Heaven's Gate was this opus, however, and Cimino is known to this day as "the guy who brought down Hollywood with his ego". He did manage to direct four more films after that, but they all bombed.
  • The Postman basically ended Kevin Costner's run as being star, director, and producer of his own films. He's had steady work as an actor in plenty of movies since then, but he has yet to recover his "A-list" star power. Waterworld didn't help him either, though at least that was a financial success.
  • Alex Cox, best known for Repo Man, had his feature career destroyed by the avant-garde film Walker. Since then, he's spent his life barely scraping together funds to make direct-to-DVD films.
  • The failure of Raise the Titanic is often credited with bringing down Lew Grade's film and TV companies - Grade quipped that "It would have been cheaper to Lower The Atlantic" - although they'd been in trouble for some time before that and stayed in business for a couple years after. The subsequent failure of The Legend Of The Lone Ranger in 1981 (a failure perhaps ensured by the producers suing the original Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore, and forcing him to relinquish his mask) might have been the last straw for ITC. It also disgusted the original book's author, Clive Cussler, so much that he refused to sell film rights to his books for 25 years.
  • Batman and Robin did this to Joel Schumacher, who is completely blamed for killing the franchise until the reboot. Before then, Schumacher was known for his role in directing The Lost Boys, St. Elmo's Fire, and Falling Down. He sort of recovered in the aftermath, with military drama Tigerland picking up some surprise indie cred and Phone Booth becoming a sleeper hit, but otherwise his career afterwards has been forgettable.
  • M. Night Shyamalan films have been steadily declining in critical acclaim since The Village (and, more specifically, the confusing as hell Sci Fi Channel documentary that accompanied it), but The Last Airbender appears to be the point where Shyamalan's name became permanently soiled to the point where even his name, when attached to any film, automatically marks said film as box office poison, as seen with the horror movie Devil. He didn't direct it, but simply being a producer and having the marketing imply that he had a part in any way was enough to cause laughter in the theaters when the trailers were first released.
  • Battlefield Earth was such a terrible film that Franchise Pictures lost huge amounts of money. However, the final nail in the coffin was when Franchise was hit by a lawsuit from investors who accused the company of deliberately inflating the film's budget to pad their coffers. Franchise Pictures lost the lawsuit and declared bankruptcy. John Travolta's reputation got a bad rap due to this movie, but he later bounced back. Battlefield Earth also killed moviegoers' chances of taking any L. Ron Hubbard or Scientology film seriously.
  • Fred Dekker (director of the cult classics Night of the Creeps and The Monster Squad) was brought on by Orion Pictures to write the screenplay for and direct RoboCop 3. Given the mixed reaction to the film, it's not exactly surprising that he hasn't directed anything since then. Aside from a gig as a consulting producer on Star Trek: Enterprise (itself nearly a Franchise Killer, and that was way back in 2001), he hasn't helmed anything for the last twenty years. Better yet, it was delayed for two years as its production company, Orion Pictures, went bankrupt (although it wasn't the sole reason).
  • Just barely avoided by Cleopatra, which nearly bankrupted Twentieth Century Fox with its bloated production. And again when, after The Sound of Music, they bankrolled several big-budget musicals (Doctor Dolittle, Star!, Hello, Dolly!) that failed to recoup their budgets. Yes, 20th Century Fox nearly went bankrupt twice in the '60s.
  • Frank Miller's bizarre The Spirit movie probably did more damage to his career than anything else. This movie has at least ensured that Miller will never be the sole director of a major motion picture ever again.
  • The failure of Superman IV most likely ruined the Cannon Group's (who didn't give special priority to the sequel, as they were already overstretched with other productions at the time) chances at becoming a legitimate film studio. Not too surprisingly, Cannon closed up shop by the dawn of the 1990s.
  • Ralph Bakshi has had brushes with this. He pioneered adult animation with Fritz the Cat and Heavy Traffic. Then people threw a shitfit over his satire Coonskin (mostly due to bad marketing and Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch). Another movie he was making at the time, Hey Good Lookin', got pushed back over this controversy. Luckily, he bounced back with his fantasy films, like Wizards and The Lord of the Rings, and later went on to work on TV shows like Mighty Mouse the New Adventures and the TV version of The Butter Battle Book. And then he did Cool World, which suffered from Executive Meddling. The poor commercial response to this one resulted in Twentieth Century Fox pulling funding from a Wizards sequel. He made a TV movie, Cool and the Crazy afterward, and another TV series, Spicy City, which he left when faced with more Executive Meddling. He tried to make another movie, The Last Days Of Coney Island, but it's stuck in Development Hell.
  • The failure of The Golden Compass in the US, along with other films released in 2007, led Time Warner to absorb New Line Cinema into Warner Bros, while also folding New Line's arthouse label Picturehouse. Today, New Line exists as a division of Warner Bros. Pictures, mainly releasing films based on their properties.
    • The saddest part? New Line could have avoided its fate had it held onto the rights to distribute The Golden Compass outside the US. Instead, they sold off the rights to foreign distributors in order to cover the film's budget, meaning that they had to rely on the highly religious US market to turn out in droves for a film that was whipping up controversy even before release due to its source material's anti-religious themes. As a result, they lost out on more than 80% of the film's $372 million global revenue. For Time Warner, this was the final straw that convinced them that the people in charge of New Line had no clue what they were doing.
  • Poseidon has pretty much ended Wolfgang Petersen's career as a director, despite a high quality track record before it (such as Das Boot, In the Line of Fire, Air Force One and The Perfect Storm). Despite having since been connected to other projects since then (mostly lesser quality, outside of an adaptation of Ender's Game), those projects seem to get squashed during pre-production.
  • Actor Charles Laughton was never given a chance to direct a second film after the failure of The Night of the Hunter. A damn shame too, because the film has since been recognized as a classic.
  • Martin Brest retired after Gigli. The studio interference and bad test screenings became too much for him.
  • Robert Zemeckis was a pioneer who had directed such classics as Forrest Gump, Back to The Future, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. His working with motion-capture led to him making The Polar Express... but as soon as Uncanny Valley set in with his works, the quality started going downhill. His studio's latest film, Mars Needs Moms, was such a box office failure that now the studio has been dismantled (and some sources hint that Disney expected the film to fail at the box office), with the planned Yellow Submarine remake now canceled, and the fate of the Roger Rabbit sequel left uncertain. Though his studio has folded, his directing career hasn't faded yet as he's got several projects on the table (even being offered the Superman project back in December 2010).
  • Music video director Joseph Kahn, once expected to emerge as the next Michael Bay, wouldn't make another feature film for seven years after the flop of the 2004 action movie Torque.[2] Intended as a Spiritual Successor to The Fast and the Furious (only on motorcycles!) and produced by the same guy, Neal H. Moritz, the film was shelved for a year before release and was universally trashed by the time it was released. The careers of its stars (apart from Ice Cube) were also derailed by the film.
  • Joe Eszterhas was, in the early '90s, the most powerful screenwriter in Hollywood - so much so that he received record amounts of money for his screenplays (including Flashdance and Basic Instinct, which was the highest amount of money paid for a single script at the time). The 1995 release of Showgirls put studio executives at odds with him, but it went on to become a Cult Classic (much in line with Eszterhas' view that the film was intended to be satire). What followed were a string of underperforming and failed scripts for films such as the David Caruso vehicle Jade and the Sharon Stone flick Sliver. Things briefly improved with the semi-autobiographical Telling Lies in America, which was well-reviewed and a modest hit on the indie circuit, but failed to get widely distributed. However, the 1998 film Burn Hollywood Burn: An Alan Smithee Film (which Eszterhas produced, wrote and starred in) was an unmitigated disaster and complete flop that all but ensured he would never sell a script to Hollywood ever again. Eszterhas ended up settling down to a quiet life as an author in Ohio - to date, his only screenwriting work of note has been on a 2006 Hungarian film called Children of Glory. He tried to come back with a Mel Gibson film based on the life of Judas Maccabeus, but Warner Bros. shut that project down, allegedly because the script that Eszterhas came up with wasn't powerful enough, but Eszterhas is accusing Gibson of sabotaging the film to make sure his career stays dead.
    • Burn, Hollywood, Burn also killed the career of respected director Arthur Hiller, who was known for making Love Story and being one of the hardest-working directors in the industry (to the point that he had at least one project being released every single year until 1997). Just before Burn was released, Hiller had his name removed from the credits - which resulted in the unintended Irony of "Alan Smithee" (the alias used for an anonymous director) directing a film that starred a character named Alan Smithee. The Writers Guild of America discontinued the use of the alias after the movie came out, and Hiller's career was in shambles. The only thing he's directed since then was the film Pucked (starring Jon Bon Jovi), which ended up being rebranded under the "National Lampoon" banner and released Direct to Video.
  • The British film company Goldcrest never really recovered from the one-two punch of 1985's Revolution (a massively expensive movie about the American Revolution with the ideal casting of Al Pacino and Nastassja Kinski)[3] and 1986's Absolute Beginners (a hugely expensive musical set in the 1950s which derailed star Eddie O'Connell's career (his IMDb page is very skimpy after the film, and he has nothing after 2003), and served as a speed bump for Patsy Kensit's). See the book My Indecision Is Final for the whole sordid story.
  • The man behind the Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band film was Robert Stigwood, owner of RSO Records, producer of smash hits Saturday Night Fever and Grease, and long-time manager of The Bee Gees. The absolute failure of this film was the beginning of the end of the Bee Gees' relationship with Stigwood (who felt they were dragged into his ego project), and was the first step in the shocking plummet of Stigwood's movie career - his movies post-Pepper included Times Square, Staying Alive, and Grease 2. Then he gave up.
  • Jared Hess was expected to be one of the next great comedic directors after having box office hits in Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre. Then he released Gentlemen Broncos, a movie that was such a disaster with critics (it was one of the ten worst reviewed films of 2009) and audiences (the film grossed just $110,000, a four-hundredth of Napoleon Dynamite's gross) that it irreparably destroyed Hess's career. He has not made a film since. He would later helm a loose Animated Adaptation of Napoleon Dynamite, but it got cancelled after only one season.
  • Executives at Orion Pictures blamed their destruction on UHF, the wacky comedy starring Weird Al Yankovic which they considered the fork in the road for the studio. They had ridiculously high hopes for it ... hopes so ridiculously high that they figured why not pit it against Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? The loss of money (as well as the loss of critical favor which they had been building throughout the 80s) seemed to mentally break the studio's already-disheveled management: aside from Dances with Wolves and The Silence of the Lambs, the entirety of Orion's post-UHF releases were one poorly-thought-out disaster after another. (They also sold the Cash Cow Franchise that could have saved them, the big-screen adaptation of The Addams Family, to Paramount prior to release.)
  • The failure of Ishtar killed Elaine May's directing career, though she's still done well as a writer for such films as The Birdcage and Primary Colors.
  • Writer/Director Kerry Conran started and ended his career with Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow. He had been set to follow it up by directing the film adaptation of John Carter of Mars, but apparently got fired within hours of the opening weekend numbers for Sky Captain coming in. If only he had thrown an F word into the Sky Captain film somewhere...
  • The critical panning and the commercial disappointment of The Grudge 2 killed any chance of director Takashi Shimizu ever directing another American film and lost any popularity he had with audiences in his native Japan. It massively stalled the career of its lead, Amber Tamblyn, who took about 3 years before getting another semi-major role (The Unusuals) and another 2 years before getting a recurring role on House MD which will probably start her career up again.
  • Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel (who co-created Max Headroom and whose only other feature film directing gig was the 1988 remake of the thriller D.O.A.) haven't directed a feature film since the 1993 critical and box office disaster that was the film adaptation of Super Mario Bros The film in general had a very Troubled Production with numerous rewrites, running behind schedule, and budget restraints.
  • Media Home Entertainment, one of the four "mini-majors" in the home video industry covering a large library of VHS releases in many diverse genres (alongside sublabel Hi-Tops Video releasing childrens' titles), collapsed in 1990 when Gerald Ronson, the leader of Media Home Entertainment parent company Heron Communications, was convicted of securities fraud due to his role in the Guinness share trading fraud in the UK, eventually closing shop in 1993.
  • Vestron Pictures had had a huge success in 1987 courtesy of Dirty Dancing, a film they had originally planned to release in theaters for only a weekend, and then send it straight to home video, since they had originally been in the video distribution business long before entering film production. Unfortunately, they followed it up with a series of flops, all of them B-Movies at a time when the public actually wanted more A Movies, and these flops, coupled with the fact that many of their former clients were now forming their own home video divisions and thus no longer needed their services, caused Vestron's parent company, Vestron, Inc., to go bankrupt in 1990.
  • The near franchise killing performance of Star Trek Nemesis pretty much ended the directing career of Stuart Baird, who infamously wasn't at all familiar with Star Trek the Next Generation going in (a point The Onion did not miss when they covered his DVD Commentary for their "Commentary Tracks Of The Damned" feature). Baird actually got the directing job in large part due to the editing work he did for Paramount's Mission Impossible II and Lara Croft Tomb Raider.
  • Surprisingly averted with Uwe Boll, despite the negative reception of any film he makes. He skirts this troupe only because no one expects anything from him, and so no one will tie enough money to him to call it a big enough failure to get him to stop.
    • In fact, for a while, some investors were tying money to him in anticipation of his films failing—so they could get generous tax writeoffs (for a time, German tax law allowed investors in German-owned films to write off their investments, including investing borrowed money and writing off loan-related fees, and only required them to pay taxes on any profits the film made; if the film lost money, they got a writeoff instead).
  • Unlike many other action stars, Steven Seagal had an anomalous career of appearing in hits right from the start (compared to Arnold, for example, who had several bad films under his belt before he starred as The Terminator). Following the success of Under Siege, his ego got the better of him and he demanded that Warner Bros finance his pet project On Deadly Ground, an environmental action pic in which he was the star and director. Its critical and financial failure ended his directorial career, and his acting career took a tremendous hit with it. Since then, his films steadily became worse until he had a brief resurrection with Exit Wounds. An attempt to followup on that success with Half Past Dead effectively killed his career and left him on direct-to-DVD films for the next decade.
  • Ever wonder why Bruce Jenner's only feature film was Cant Stop The Music? Blame it on poor timing of its release (disco had just become So Last Season by the time this film was released).
  • While none of Jonathan Frakes's cinematic directorial efforts quite matched the success he experienced with his debut on Star Trek: First Contact, his film directing career was well and truly torpedoed by the critical and commercial flop that was the live-action Thunderbirds movie. Since then, he's had to return to television directing.
  • While John Carter hasn't been proven a Stillborn Franchise yet, at least one head has already rolled as a direct result of the film's disappointing box office performance: Disney Studios leader Rich Ross was fired just weeks after Disney predicted they'd lose $200 million dollars on the project (considering the budget, though, the actual losses amount to just less than $100 million at this point).
    • The film's box office also led to head of marketing MT Carney (who had never worked in film before Disney hired her in 2010) to resign, since she was partially responsible for the film's infamously bad ad campaign.
  • Diablo Cody broke into Hollywood with the highly-acclaimed film Juno. Her follow-up, Jennifer's Body, did not garner as much praise - critics picked apart the poor performance by Megan Fox and, more damningly for the creator, began to question Cody's overreliance on Totally Radical dialogue (a problem numerous critics had with Juno). With the failure of Young Adult, it seems Diablo Cody's star has risen and fallen.
    • "Young Adult" failed? Even though it wasn't strong at the box office, it did make a profit and was highly acclaimed by the same critics that heaped scorn on "Jennifer's Body." And her directorial debut is still scheduled to be released in 2013.

Live-Action TV

  • Allan Carr, the producer and party-giver whose biggest hit was the movie adaptation of Grease, was tapped to produce the 1989 Academy Awards telecast. He promised "the most beautiful Academy Awards of all time"; he delivered a show that opened with a production number "highlighted" by Snow White and Rob Lowe performing a duet of "Proud Mary". Reviews were horrible, he was accused of disgracing Hollywood's good name (and, by Disney, copyright infringement), and he never lived this down.
  • At the end of its fifth season, Saturday Night Live aired what was clearly intended as its final episode. NBC, however, refused to let their Cash Cow Franchise die, replacing the cast and writers entirely, and hiring the show's talent coordinator Jean Doumanian to replace Lorne Michaels as executive producer (snubbing Al Franken, passed up after network head Fred Silverman took personal offense to Franken's "Limo for the Lame-O" piece). While Jean Doumanian did have a knack for getting good musical guests and treating the talent right, she was out of her depth for running a comedy show. She passed up a lot of potentially talented would-be cast members (Jim Carrey being one of them), misunderstood a lot of obvious punchlines, thought that Refuge in Vulgarity was what made the sketches funny (as opposed to Refuge in Audacity) — which became the show's downfall when Charles Rocket said, "I wanna know who the fuck did it" at the end of the Charlene Tilton episode, and focused more on humorless character pieces (some of which were intentionally not funny, like the one from the Karen Black/Cheap Trick episode in which Gilbert Gottfried played a stroke victim laid up in the hospital while everyone around him—except his true friend, Rachel [Denny Dillon] — mocked him). After the "f-word" debacle on the Charlene Tilton episode, Doumanian was fired (along with most of her cast, except for cast members Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, Denny Dillon, Gail Matthius [though Dillon and Matthius would be fired later], and writer Brian Doyle Murray) and lives on as one of the many dark spots in SNL's long history of success and failure.
    • Doumanian did resurface in the 1990's as the producer of a number of critically acclaimed and moderately successful Woody Allen films. Two of them (Bullets Over Broadway and Mighty Aphrodite) even won Best Supporting Actress Oscars. Then she screwed that up too, when, in 2000, she suddenly backed out of a movie, leaving Woody stranded, eventually resulting in both of them filing lawsuits against each other.
  • The highly controversial finale of How I Met Your Mother all but destroyed the reputations of series co-creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays. The backlash from fans was so great that it led to the proposed spin-off, How I Met Your Dad, to be cancelled before it got off the ground. Since then, Thomas and Bays have generally stuck to obscure media.


  • The annals of pop music history are strewn with the ruined careers of artists that couldn't follow up their debut, released critically acclaimed albums that killed their careers commercially, or just recorded plain lousy albums that ruined their career.
  • The relative failure of the Ike and Tina Turner single "River Deep, Mountain High" brought producer Phil Spector's career to a standstill and was a major factor in driving him into seclusion, along with his Love It or Hate It production of Let It Be.
    • Ironically it was actually a huge success in Europe, not that this brought him much comfort.
  • Arrested Development's sophomore album, despite being highly regarded, pretty much ended the group's mainstream career (at least in America).
  • Digable Planets was an up-and-coming jazz-rap group who were well on their way to stardom thanks to cross-genre appeal of their single "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" and debut album Reachin'. Then their second album, Blowout Comb, bombed despite critical acclaim. The band disbanded soon after. Most people believe the reason why Blowout Comb failed was due to it being more socio-political and Afrocentric.
  • A Tribe Called Quest broke up after the polarizing The Love Movement, although this had more to do with members Phife Dawg and Q-Tip being unable to get along with each other. Phife's health issues led to the group reuniting to pay for his medical expenses, and there's been talk of a new album.
  • Already hurting from the constant delays and disappointing sales of his Brass Knuckles album, Nelly's controversial "Tip Drill" video pretty much destroyed his bankability as a mainstream crossover rap artist. His followup would be his last huge album, but his career eventually became defined by the moment in the vid where he swipes a credit card through some girl's butt..
  • Peter Frampton's follow-up to his highly popular live album Frampton Comes Alive! was I'm In You, a low-key experimental funk album. Despite the title track managing to become his biggest hit (#2 on the US pop charts), the album confounded his teenybopper fans, and the combination of the album's failure and his role in the film Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band the next year completely obliterated his career. To add insult to injury, Frank Zappa spoofed the album with the song, I Have Been In You.
  • Dexys Midnight Runners followed up their international hit album Too-Rye-Ay with Don't Stand Me Down, an expansive experimental soul album, which was acclaimed by critics...but didn't sit too well with their fans, who wanted another "Come On Eileen". An actual single from the album wasn't released until several months after the album was, and the single chosen — "This Is What She's Like"—was twelve minutes long (which is hardly radio friendly). The band was gone soon afterwards.
  • Some victims of the Sophomore Slump manage to recover with a third album, others fall apart after the failure of album number two:
    • Second Coming by The Stone Roses, which had been delayed by Executive Meddling, a productivity-halting lawsuit trying to stop them from moving to Geffen, and general band procrastination (moving to Wales to record did not help). The album was finally released in 1994, over five years after their debut album. The album completely failed to live up to its hype and despite lead single "Love Spreads" becoming a genuine hit, the album received middling reviews and disappeared from the charts quickly. So were the band: they split up two years later, after a series of badly-reviewed live appearances and hiring Replacement Scrappies after their guitarist and drummer left.
    • The Knack followed up their hit album Get the Knack and #1 hit single "My Sharona" with ...But the Little Girls Understand. The album was a complete dud commercially and critically, and despite releasing a couple more albums before they broke up, those releases never troubled the pop charts and were released with almost no fanfare.
  • The pioneering New Wave label Factory Records was taken down by Yes Please!, the disastrous 1992 album by Happy Mondays which went several times overbudget and has its artists spending more time doing crack (which they decided was more addicting than heroin, an addiction which they had relocated to Barbados to kick—there was no heroin on the island, but plenty of crack) than recording any material (the first demos sent to the company didn't even have vocals since the artists forgot to write any). The failure of the album also took down Happy Mondays, who wouldn't record another album until 2007.
  • Despite only finishing as runner-up in The X Factor UK 2005, Andy Abraham initially had a very promising career, and his first two albums enjoyed strong sales. Unfortunately, his future was destroyed virtually overnight by his disastrous failure and last-place finish in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. Aside from the single release of his Eurovision song (which flopped so badly it didn't even get into the charts), Abraham hasn't released a single album since.

Tabletop Games

  • While not a creator, distributor Upper Deck Entertainment got hit hard during the latter part of the GX era of the Yu-Gi-Oh Card Game TCG due to their own Executive Meddling; a series of unpopular reshuffling of set cards (including the dismantling of two highly anticipated structure decks to release their new cards as difficult-to-get Secret Rares in the main sets), creation of poorly-received TCG-only cards, and ultimately the publishing of fake cards for third-party distribution ultimately forced Konami to pull their contract with UDE and wrangle the game away from them through a legal shitstorm. Even more damning, this incident has apparently caused Blizzard Entertainment to pull their contract with UDE for the distribution of the World of Warcraft TCG, going so far as to make an entirely new branch specifically for distributing it themselves. No word yet on how this will impact UDE's baseball and hockey card sales, but it's likely that that's going to be the only thing that'll save them from bankruptcy. To make things even more troubling, there's a corporate family civil war brewing as a direct result of the aforementioned Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG scandal.

Video Games

  • Daikatana didn't make anyone John Romero's bitch as he wanted to; it made Romero its own bitch and took his fame and career down with it.
    • Some would say it also made Ion Storm its bitch, but the RTS Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3 is perhaps the bigger culprit. Not only was it an huge flop on its own, but the internal squabbling its development caused at Ion Storm was partially responsible for turning Daikatana into what it is, mostly thanks to how Ion Storm wanted to get the game out of the door as soon as possible so they could have some more cash for Daikatana.
    • That said, after Daikatana, Romero floundered for awhile before coming back with a social games company that has seen moderate success and a much more older, wiser, and mature Romero. It doesn't hurt that he's also dating Brenda Braithwarthe, a prominent "serious games" creator and advocate.
  • As for some other Id Software employees, American McGee, who started out as a level designer for Doom and Quake, hit it off big-time with American McGee's Alice, followed it up with Scrapland... and then fell hard with Bad Day LA, a ham-handed attempt at political satire disguised as a videogame. Even after Grimm, McGee has never really recovered, and plans for American McGee's Oz never really took off. Fortunately, Alice: Madness Returns did eventually get released in 2011, so a comeback is likely.
  • The twin flops of BMX XXX and Turok Evolution killed Acclaim. The former in particular not only garnered a lot of negative controversy due to its attempt at using sexual content to sell copies, but it caused Dave Mirra to sue them because he didn't want his name associated with it (it was originally an installment in the Dave Mirra BMX series). Acclaim was later revived, albeit on a smaller scale and In Name Only.
  • Duke Nukem Forever 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 2K Games, who proceeded to do more towards actually completing the game in one year than Broussard and 3D Realms did in twelve. According to Word of God, the game was already pretty much finished. Perfectionism and the Take-Two lawsuit kept it from coming out. Gearbox just basically put the finishing touches.
    • And to further twist the knife, since Gearbox simply needed to get it out and not put any work into it, Gearbox basically spent a marginal amount of money for a game (meaning very quickly hitting a break even point) and IP with which they can now do whatever they want.
  • Haze and Lair were two high-profile PlayStation 3 flops which bankrupted their respective developers, Free Radical and Factor 5.
  • The failure of Fury, an MMORPG designed by Australian company Auran, nearly brought down the entire company, and it forced them out of game development. They are now an extremely limited train simulator developer.
  • Famously in the UK (thanks to coverage from The BBC), in 1983 the development of the "mega-games" Psyclapse and Bandersnatch brought down Imagine Software, one of the biggest and most successful software companies of the day. It was compounded by how the company was spending silly money on advertising, bad investments and badly-thought-out attempts to outwit their rivals by buying up all available duplicating capacity.
    • Former employee Bruce Everiss, upon becoming an Orwellian Editor, would rather make you think piracy killed Imagine instead of incompetence (in spite of having acknowledged the true causes of its downfall himself in 1984). Trying to hide from your shames?
  • The hugely expensive but poorly received Shadowrun Xbox 360 game took out FASA Interactive in a matter of months, dashing hopes for a much-anticipated Mechwarrior sequel.[4] Supposedly Microsoft sold the rights back to one of the founders for a ridiculously low price just to wash their hands of the matter.
    • Said rumour turned out to be true and Mechwarrior Online was born. However, unexpectedly, it's coming out in a year where no less than four other mech games are to be launched, at least one of which is a free to play MMO as well...
  • The Virtual Boy did this to Gunpei Yokoi, whose failure resulted into him being Kicked Upstairs and resigning from Nintendo before his death.
  • Poor sales of both the Terminator Salvation tie-in game and Bionic Commando 2009 led to Square Enix doing what can only be described as death-by-trolling on GRIN's Final Fantasy XII spin-off project Fortress, killing the entire company.
  • After the abysmal flop of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, Core Design couldn't do any more Tomb Raider games and struggled with a few mediocre handheld games before being sold off to Rebellion and rebranded as "Rebellion Derby". They were promptly taken down after the release of the critically-savaged Rogue Warrior.
  • The piss-poor Empire Earth 3 led to not only the death of the franchise, but also Mad Doc Studios.
  • Losses from critically-panned All Points Bulletin seem to have killed Crackdown developer Realtime Worlds. They sank a lot of money in the long development phase but in the end, they had to release the game in hope to recoup the losses. Unfortunately, it was still in a messy state and rather accelerated their downfall—the servers were shut down less than ten weeks after the launch, a sad new record for an MMO.
  • Tomba and its sequel Tomba 2: The Evil Swine Return performed well enough to develop a cult following, but they sold so poorly that their developer, Whoopee Camp, never made another game.
  • Atari struggled for years in the wake of The Great Video Game Crash of 1983, having released no less than three disastrous game systems in a row with the 5200, the 7800, and the handheld Lynx, but it was the Atari Jaguar that finally did them in. The combination of an incredibly difficult-to-develop-for architecture, shoddy build quality, an archaic controller design, and the inertia enjoyed by Nintendo and Sega doomed the Jaguar to ultimate failure, and it turned out to be the straw that finally broke Atari's back. You may still see the Atari name today, but that's just for marketing purposes—Atari Corporation died with the Jaguar, and the name was bought by French publisher Infogrames as part of a push into the worldwide market.
  • The failure of Tabula Rasa pretty much ended the video game career of Richard Garriott, or, at the very least, robbed him of the "Lord British" mystique. On the other hand, the $28 million dollars he received in his lawsuit from NC Soft, the profits he's still making from City of Heroes, and the fact that Tabula Rasa allowed him to take a flight to the Space Station probably takes the sting out of it.
  • After a steady string of hits with its Project Gotham Racing series, the disappointing sales figures of Blur killed Bizarre Creations outright.
  • Executive Meddling from Disney forced the closure of Black Rock Studios despite the positive reception of Split Second.
  • The Amiga CD32 was planned for American release by Commodore, but a patent dispute got in the way, and the company eventually filed for bankruptcy several months later, in part due to the lost (by law) sales.
  • Troika Games was already showing signs of trouble even before the release of Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines. The game used the new-and-powerful-at-the-time Source Engine, but were contractually obligated to withhold the game's release until Half-Life 2 was released. Once the game was finally released, it quickly became apparent that the game was positively riddled with Game Breaking Bugs,[5] leading to the players having to make patches to fix things. As should be expected, the final sales total for Bloodlines was lukewarm at best, forcing Troika to file for bankruptcy in early 2005.
  • Hellgate London pretty much ended the career of Bill Roper as a front line creator/big name. He's still doing quite well as an executive.
  • Despite winning critical acclaim and millions of sales, LA Noire killed developer Team Bondi. The excruciatingly long development (publisher Rockstar Games eventually had to bring in their other studios to help finish it), coupled with employees furious about borderline-sweatshop working conditions and not being named in the credits, soured their relationship with Rockstar and killed any chance of them finding another publisher. Shortly there after, the studio itself imploded due to various reactions to Brendan McNamara's behavior over the development cycle. He was the studio head/co-founder and, if even some of the reports are to be believed, the epitome of Executive Meddling and Small Name, Big Ego.
  • The Interactive Fiction producer Infocom attempted to branch out into new fields with its relational database program Cornerstone. (Indeed, the whole original plan was to just use the games as a stepping-stone to more profitable business software.) Although Cornerstone received good reviews, it was an expensive flop, and helped lead to Infocom being sold to Activision, whose mismanagement quickly finished running the company into the ground.
  • Despite Home Front selling over a million units in one week, Kaos Studios was shuttered in 2011 due to the high cost of running a studio in New York. The tepid reviews of the game and subsequent drop in THQ stock may also have been contributing factors.
  • Ultima IX basically destroyed Origin Systems. Electronic Arts dropped all support for it during production and still demanded they release the extremely buggy version on time, then they cancelled all of Origin's future projects when the game bombed, eventually causing Richard Garriott to leave the company. EA shut down Origin in 2004.
  • Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning was a modest hit for 38 Studios and Big Huge Games, selling just over 1 million copies since its release in February 2012, but financial troubles meant they had to reach 3M in sales[6] in order to cover development and loan costs. As a result, 38 and BHG laid off their entire staff, effectively dissolving both companies and leaving a planned Amalur-based MMORPG (tentatively titled Copernicus) in limbo.

Western Animation

  • The failure of Titan: AE brought down both Don Bluth's career and Fox Animation Studios.
  • After the failure of the Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon, it is unlikely John Kricfalusi will be able to sell another show... not that it's stopped him from trying.
    • Several of his smaller animation projects have enjoyed fairly high-profile success, such as a Couch Gag for The Simpsons in which the family is shown in John K.'s bizarre style.
      • What did put a stop to his career for good was his blog, where he would complain about his competition a decade after the fact, and then his infamous Kickstarter for Cans Without Labels, and THEN it was discovered he was an ebepophile and money launderer.
  • The Boston Bomb Scare; when some Boston police thought that guerilla marketing LEDs for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie were bombs, then-current Cartoon Network head Jim Samples was forced to step down. Observers have pointed at this incident as arguably the cause of the Network Decay of Cartoon Network, considering that his replacement Stuart Snyder was the main champion of the increase of live-action sitcoms and reality shows on the channel.
  • Ralph Bakshi has had brushes with this. He pioneered adult animation with Fritz the Cat and Heavy Traffic. Then people threw a shitfit over his satire Coonskin (mostly due to bad marketing and Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch). Another movie he was making at the time, Hey Good Lookin', got pushed back over this controversy. Luckily, he bounced back with his fantasy films, like Wizards and The Lord of the Rings, and later went on to work on TV shows like Mighty Mouse the New Adventures and the TV version of The Butter Battle Book. And then he did Cool World, which suffered from Executive Meddling. The poor commercial response to this one resulted in Twentieth Century Fox pulling funding from a Wizards sequel. He made a TV movie, Cool and the Crazy afterward, and another TV series, Spicy City, which he left when faced with more Executive Meddling. He tried to make another movie, The Last Days Of Coney Island, but it was stuck in Development Hell for well over a decade before being quietly released.

Real Life

  • RCA's SelectaVision video system was intended to be a major competitor to VHS and Betamax. Unfortunately for them, it failed to take off, resulting in RCA writing off the entire investment in the project, and its subsequent breakup and acquisition by General Electric.
    • Though the players sold poorly, the discs sold very well (they were priced lower than VHS, Betamax and Laser Disc) and it was a popular home format option for low-income families.
  • The car industry has been littered with these:
    • The Rootes Group, a major British car maker, came unstuck with the Hillman Imp. It single-handedly led to the company's takeover by Chrysler and subsequent long-term decline.
    • The DeLorean Car Company. See Real Life section of The Alleged Car for more information.
    • Mitsubishi Australia had been struggling in the Australian car market for years, and pinned its last-ditch hopes on the 380 model introduced in 2005. Instead, sales fell short of expectations, and Mitsubishi ended up closing down all of its Australian factories for good.
    • The Pontiac Aztek is considered to be indirectly responsible for the Pontiac brand being shuttered by General Motors in 2010; it is generally seen as the "point of no return" where Pontiac lost its credibility as a performance vehicle brand.
    • The Saturn ION, which was critically panned and much less popular that the Saturn S-series economy cars that it replaced, is considered to be mainly responsible for the Saturn brand's dissolution in 2010 as well.
    • The Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, a large, rear wheel drive luxury car, spent most of the 1970s and 1980s as both Oldsmobile's best selling car and one of the bestselling cars in the United States. In 1988, the Cutlass Supreme was redesigned to become a smaller sport coupe based off GM's front wheel drive W-platform with the hopes of it capturing a younger buyer demographic. While the 1988 Cutlass was praised by critics and is generally seen as a good car in its own right, the large "This Is Not Your Father's Oldsmobile" campaign used to launch it was a massive failure that drove away Oldsmobile's traditional customer base and destroyed the upper-class, "mature" brand equity that Oldsmobile had built for over 40 years, while failing to attract a younger customer base; the redesigned Cutlass Supreme sold in less then half the volume of the car it replaced and by the early 1990s, sales of the Oldsmobile brand as a whole were only a tiny fraction of the blockbuster sales the brand saw before the launch of the campaign. Almost overnight, Oldsmobile had lost its place in the market, with the resultant loss of volume and market share causing major financial losses for parent company General Motors. Oldsmobile quickly discontinued the campaign and tried to repair the damage by realigning itself with its previous customer base throughout The Nineties to little success, leading General Motors to announce the brand's phase out in 2000. Today, the "This Is Not Your Father's Oldsmobile" advertising campaign is commonly taught by business schools as an example of exceptional failure in marketing and brand management. Due to it being tied to the launch of the redesigned 1988 Cutlass Supreme, it is now regarded as the car that killed Oldsmobile.
      • The car itself still had a role in Cutlass Supreme and general Oldsmobile sales tanking after its launch. While the 1988 Cutlass Supreme was a good car, its small size and sporty nature made it unappealing to the traditional Oldsmobile buyer, while its high price made it hard for younger buyers to afford, on top of the fact that Oldsmobiles were regarded as an "old person car" hurt the car's appeal to them. On top of that, the fact that the redesigned Cutlass Supreme was being marketed as a performance car (it was even offered as a high performance "International" model) caused it to compete with comparable models from Pontiac (which was supposed to be GM's "sporty" brand and held a large share of the youthful, performance car market) and Chevrolet (which was in the midst of launching a series of sporty "import fighters" such as the Beretta, that cost considerably less); General Motors was basically competing with itself by having three of its brands courting the same buyer.
      • Fittingly, today the 1988 and newer front wheel drive Cutlass Supremes are undesired and practically valueless, while the older, rear wheel drive models are appreciating in value, which just goes to show that less people will want to buy a certain car if that car was responsible for killing the brand name that released it.
      • The fact that the large, luxurious, rear wheel drive pre-1988 Cutlass Supremes are considered "proper" Oldsmobiles by enthusiasts while the small, sporty post-1988s aren't also has a lot to do with it.
  1. the companies did eventually merge into Square Enix in 2003
  2. And for good measure, his new film, the teen slasher parody Detention, features a strong Take That to Torque.
  3. -which may explain why it was 15 years until we had another one-
  4. which got stonewalled by lawsuits
  5. You might be wondering, Why didn't Troika used the delay time to bug fix?
  6. according to Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee