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"If reincarnation is true, I hope I come back as George Lucas just to find out what it's like to be loved and hated in equally large amounts by exactly the same people."
—Youtube user kasolarUK

There you are, riding high on all your success. The critics adore you. Your fans worship you. The Hollywood Hype Machine has put maximum force behind your career. The money is coming in, and nobody dares speak ill of you. You made that work that inspired the hearts of millions. It seems like everything you touch turns to pure, brilliant art. Just the announcement of your name brings anticipation to whatever you're doing next. There's just nothing you could ever do wrong.

Then it happens. You do something wrong -- and it's very wrong. Your first flop.

Suddenly, things don't look so rosy. You just can't recover from that flop. Everything after this flop starts to define you instead, and you can't recapture or recreate the success of the works that made you famous in the first place. Your positive reviews shrink; your aura of invincibility is forever punctured. Your fanbase is fractured and shrinking. The Hype Machine pushing you forward has now moved on to others. In the most extreme cases, just hearing your name attached to a work, even one connected to those beloved pieces you created in the past, makes people cringe where they once cheered. You are now a Fallen Creator.

The life of an artist is full of ups and downs. Unfortunately, some creators, after achieving great commercial and critical success, lose their momentum; their prestige falls far below their previous stature.

Not everyone goes from the very top to the very bottom. Those old franchises still make a lot of money. There's usually just enough people willing to watch your new stuff that you can still be considered commercially successful, even if they're also treating it as Snark Bait. But the love is gone, and your flaws are now constantly on display. The acclaim and hyper-success has dropped, and a once solid and large fanbase is now far less likely to be happy with you.

The true defining trait of the Fallen Creator is the large drop in prestige, even after factoring out the usual Fan Dumb that chases creators wherever they go. It is not necessarily permanent; even if it is, there could still be a partial comeback. Artistic taste can be fickle.

This can sometimes be caused by a combination of Mis Blamed and hubris. The original good productions were a team effort, but one guy took all the credit and was recognized as the sole genius behind the work. When the team breaks up and the sole spotlight hog sets out on his own, people quickly realize he's nothing without his team when he suddenly gets a string of failures. See also Protection From Editors.

An artist developing a Small Name, Big Ego can also trigger this; no matter how talented the creator is, people are only going to tolerate a certain amount of ill-advised egocentric vanity projects and diva-ish tantrums before they start giving up. Same can happen to companies who have bad public relations for one reason or another.

Compare Never Live It Down, in which a creator is only identified with the worst thing they ever did; they may have done successful work before and since, but they never had the prestige and adoration that makes a Fallen Creator. Can also overlap with Deader Than Disco. Sort of the opposite of He Really Can Act, when someone despised proves they can do well.

Contrast Auteur License, Prima Donna Director, Scapegoat Creator. See also Career Resurrection for when the disgraced manage to get acclaimed again.

Note: Please, only give examples where it's clear that public opinion has pretty much turned against these people and they're not thought of as highly as before. This is not meant as a Take That against creators you don't like. If you yourself think a creator has declined, but the general public still thinks highly of him/her, then don't add them as an example.

Tropes used in Fallen Creator (Darth Wiki) include:

Anime and Manga

  • Aya Hirano made her debut in 2001 in the anime Tenshi no Shippo before gaining her first major role as Lumière in Kiddy Grade. After making several roles in Eyeshield 21, DeathNote and NANA, she delivered a one-two punch performance as the titular character of Haruhi Suzumiya and Konata Izumi in Lucky Star. Then she got a role in Dragonaut The Resonance, which was a flop with anime fans and reduced her to a drama queen and she has since been in role reprisals.
  • Soichiro Hoshi fell into this. He made his debut in 1993 as a minor role in Nintama Rantarou before making his leading role debut as Roddy Shuffle in Vifam and Kain Blueriver in LostUniverse. Since then, he made many roles in Saiyuki, s-CRY-ed, Gundam SEED, and among other animes. Then came Gundam SEED Destiny. Although Destiny wasn't a total flop, the way that the production staff treated his character and reputation the series has earned as a result definitely derailed his career and was stuck playing roles in fanservice anime ever since.
  • For several people, Tite Kubo is heading this way. While Bleach was originally well received for its quirky characters, awesome fights, and an insane plot twist in the Soul Society arc, for many, things went way downhill afterwards. A massive case of Arc Fatigue, many odd plot threads, and Aizen being turned into a Villain Sue have caused many people to start hating the series, and Kubo himself has been accused of trolling his fanbase.
  • Masashi Kishimoto as well, with Creator's Pet Sasuke Uchiha being such a Base Breaker and all the Wham Episodes and Mind Screws of recent chapters of Naruto. Much like Tite Kubo, fans are considering him a Trolling Creator for these reasons.
  • Masaki Kajishima was considered to be the father of the harem genre. He created Tenchi Muyo, a show that codified many tropes in the romantic comedy genre. OVAs 1 and 2 are considered his best work, and the other spinoffs done by other authors namely Tenchi Universe and Tenchi In Tokyo, were considered inferior by comparison. However, years later, he returned to create a Third OVA for Tenchi Muyo. How did people take that? The quality was considered so poor that many people decided to leave the fandom. Others who had praised his work before now condemned him at every turn and started preaching that they enjoyed the spinoffs more than the OVA series. Heck, even to this day (OVA 3 was released 5 years ago) it's hard to find a board that talks about OVA 3 without someone still railing at Kajishima and deriding new OVA 3 girl Noike for being a Mary Sue.
    • This seems to be mainly in the United States, due to the lack of supplemental material disclosing major parts of the OVA plotline, the OVA and television product being released relatively closely together in the US, and the resulting overexposure. In Japan, OVA 3 was successful, Kajishima has had two more series greenlit since its release (Isekai No Seikishi Monogatari and Sasami: Magical Girls Club), and is continuing the GXP storyline in print form with considerable success.
      • You know, it's important to note that the supplemental material explains nothing about the counteractor, or how Washu got her memories back after they were sealed, two things that were most important to the story. The things that the backstory did explain (namely the origins of the many secondary characters) weren't really important to understanding the plot, anyway. Criticism of OVA doesn't stem from a lack of information or 'overexposure' as you call it...this OVA is disliked on it's own merits. Not mention that it's been five years...anyone who wanted to find the supplementary information could by this stage, and the OVA is still mocked today. All There In The Manual really comes off as an excuse for some defenders to hide behind...all the backstory in the world can't compensate for the OVA's lack in quality. I can't speak for Japan and I'm sure few people on this wiki could. But terrible to medicore stories have gotten sequels before. And any information on the Japanese fanbase seems to be based on hearsy and the like. Western reception on Kajishima and OVA 3 by contrast, is very tangible and platable.
  • The husband and wife team of Mitsuo Fukuda and Chiaki Morosawa. Fukuda joined Sunrise in 1979 and did core planning and producing in the first 3 Brave Series shows before creating a trifecta of hits with the Future GPX Cyber Formula series, GEAR Fighter Dendoh and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, with his wife as the head writer. Gundam SEED was such a success, that it was enough to produce a sequel, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. During the show's production, Morosawa developed cancer and she was...rather late with the scripts. Despite Destiny also being a success in Japan, many fans were miffed with the show's Padding, the copious amount of Clip Show episodes, and the switching of the main characters. And let's not get into the hate get have been receiving from the Hate Dumb... A film, which is said to be a conclusion to the series, is currently stuck in Development Hell and only time will tell that said film will gain back the fans or not.
  • Yoshihiro Togashi is probably headed this way, with lots of Hiatuses in recent years, slowly Deteriorating artwork, and the unusually drawn out Chimera Ant arc of his current series Hunter X Hunter have turned off a lot of people as a result.

Comic Books

  • Frank Miller was an icon of comics in the 1980s, with his work on Daredevil and Batman, with The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One redefining the character in the eyes of the mass media. But during the 90s, Miller's creative owned work Sin City led to a massive change in his art style and his tone (already heavily inspired by Film Noir) became overt with an added helping dose of misogyny with the vast number of high profile Sin City stories that involved hookers or strippers. His later Batman work (The Dark Knight Strikes Again and All-Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder) were widely decried for bad writing, as Miller quickly tried to pass off his bad writing by claiming to be parodying his own earlier Dark Age inspiring Batman work.
    • It is very debatable whether Miller's writing has actually turned worse. Others would simply call it more self-satirizing going by his latest Batman run, and an (excited?) quote about his upcoming al-Qaeda story "being bound to offend just about anyone", but his mainstream appeal has never been greater, given his collaboration with highly efficient choreographic filmmaker Zack Snyder.
    • The result of his retooled "Batman Vs Al-Qaeda" book is out now... and even if one had never known that it began as a Batman story it's obvious Miller barely did anything to change the fact that the Fixer is Batman, the Cat-Burgler is Catwoman, and the policeman is Commisioner Gordon. Holy Terror can be described as a vehement anti-Muslim Author Tract-filled political cartoon, similar to the others which were created in the first frantic year after 9/11. Any doubts about his recent writing style (as of ASBAR) being self parody are dispelled as Miller's "patriotism" and xenophobia are presented completely seriously. The whole book is a message that Muslims need to be stopped as they could become terrorists at any point. Just when you thought Frank Miller couldn't sink any lower...
    • His reputation has been hurt even more by his vitriolic attack on the Occupy Wall Street movement whom he referred to as "Thieves, rapists and pond scum" and managed to fit even more attacks on Islam. Its as if Frankie boy has been reading comments about him online and thinking "How can I make myself even worse than They think I am?".
  • Artist Joe Madureira was once considered the golden boy of American comic artists. He had an acclaimed run on Uncanny X-Men, brought the Japanese manga style into mainstream American comics, and later went on to create Battle Chasers for Image Comics' Cliffhanger imprint. He never finished Battle Chasers, tried his hand at creating video games with catastrophic results (Darksiders is the only game he designed that didn't become vaporware or a total flop) and now works comics once in a blue moon to lukewarm critical reception (especially The Ultimates 3, hoooo boy). He's pretty much bundled with other early-mid 90's comic book artists that are now considered past their prime at best and industry jokes at worst.
  • Brian Michael Bendis was one a hotshot rising star in the comic industry. Then he took over Avengers and gave the team the "scorched earth" treatment in the infamous Avengers Disassembled story and replaced the roster with his pet characters, for stories that were widely reviled at worst and at best, showcased his failings as a writer (in this case, good on street-level solo books with normal type mob-themed bad guys but absolutely horrible on team books and super-villains). Once the face of the future, he's now considered the face of everything wrong with Marvel Comics.
  • Like Miller, Jeph Loeb came to fame off of his work on Batman; along with Tim Sales, he produced a series of Batman Halloween specials and the critically acclaimed The Long Halloween series. Unfortunately, when he took over as writing Superman (and later, the team-up book "Superman/Batman"), Loeb's writing began to slip as he began losing confidence in his ability to let his writing speak for itself. He began recruiting big name artists to draw his work (which led to massive delays in the case of his most recent Hulk run) and tailoring his scripts to match what his artists wanted to draw. Further complicating things was his son's death from cancer, which caused Loeb's writing to take a depressing tone (Ultimatium, Fallen Son, Ultimates 3) with death and grief as a major element of his writing.

    The exact moment when Loeb became a Fallen Creator isn't clear cut but here are the popular ones:
    • Superman V2 #166, which infamously attempted to retcon Post-Crisis version of Krypton back to the Silver Age version, was the first crack in the wall. Loeb (and Joe Kelly) promoted the issue and the retcon as their attempt to bring back the "real" Superman of the Silver Age, while avoiding being blacklisted like Mark Waid and Mark Millar when they attempted to outright restore the Silver Age Superman status quo. Jeph even outright stated that if he could get away with it, that he would bring back the infamous "Love Triangle" and abolish the Superman marriage, pissing off fans in the process.
    • Hush: Loeb scored success with The Long Halloween and Dark Victory, but his third attempt at a "run the gauntlet" Batman story flopped horribly as far as critical response went. Was it trading Tim Sales in for Jim Lee? The fact that Hush was a lame-ass villain people only cared for, for the single issue in which Clayface posed as Jason Todd, while in the "Hush" uniform? Or was it the fact that Loeb didn't seem to even try to write a good storyline, opting to instead coast off of the huge sales boost that his storyline would get by way of having Jim Lee draw Batman for the first time?

      Giving credence to Hush being the tipping point, most positive critical praise for Hush is usually limited to people gushing over Jim Lee's artwork. Talk about the actual story and you'll find that even people who liked the plot were turned off by how incredibly lame Hush's motivations were & that Hush as a character wouldn't be properly acknowleged as a "proper" Batman villain until Paul Dini got his hands on him. This story would be the point in which Loeb discovered that he could phone in his writing and have it sell huge numbers, so long as his subpar scripts were drawn by a big name artist who fans love.
    • Superman/Batman: Public Enemies: after building up Lex Luthor as the evil President and him successfully forcing the Daily Planet to fire Clark when Lois and Clark discovered proof of Lex's evil misuse of office, Loeb abandoned everything for a contrived storyline involving Lex trying to frame Superman for a meteor about to hit Earth and exposing Metallo as the murderer of Batman's parents.
    • His Wolverine arc had a "subrace" of mutants that evolved from wolves (which featured Sasquatch, for some reason, who got his powers from the native gods of the North), an immortal overlord of said race who went by the name of "Romulus," and revealed the reason Wolverine and Sabertooth were eternally at each other's throats was because there was a "genetic prophecy" about the eternal fight between a fair-haired wolf mutant and a dark-haired wolf mutant. Oh, and Wolverine killed Sabertooth with a magic sword.
    • Ultimates 3 and Ultimatium: wiping out a good chunk of the Ultimate Marvel Universe angered a lot of people, especially as Loeb pretty much didn't care one iota about what Bendis and other writers had been doing with the Ultimate Marvel characters. Loeb's run on Ultimates Flanderized the already Flanderized versions that Mark Millar had used in Ultimates 1 and Ultimates 2, making them barely one-dimensional.
    • The final straw would be his Hulk run, which came off the critically acclaimed Greg Pak run and pretty much dismantled all of the major work Pak had done to set up a new status quo for the Hulk and his standing in the Marvel Universe via Planet Hulk and World War Hulk. Adding to the mix was that Hulk revolved almost completely around Loeb's Villain Stu the Red Hulk and the never-ending mystery of who he was.
  • Chris Claremont suffers this, as much of his writing style (Talking Is a Free Action, overly-complex storylines that go on and on and on, and plots that routinely revolve around mind control and BDSM) haven't aged well at all since the 1980s. Granted, most of this is also due to the fact that Claremont's writing style has been aped and homaged upon by so many writers since his first run on the X-Men.
  • Artist Rob Liefeld revived the struggling New Mutants comic, which transferred into the top selling X-Force when Liefeld was given full creative control over the book in 1991. But royalty issues led to him abandoning the book after nearly a year and he went on to found Image Comics. There he launched the equally popular creator-owned series, Youngblood, and inspired a slew of copycats as artists began aping his insanely popular style.

    But it all quickly evaporated for Rob; the Hype Backlash against him began with several high profile cases of books he was drawing shipping late. He alienated his fellow Image colleagues and split from the company and formed Awesome Comics, which folded after a couple of years of publication. Also, it became clear that he didn't have many more ideas than what was done with New Mutants, and many of his characters were ripoffs of other characters or rehashes of his own, and his art work left something to be desired, to the point that "Liefeldian" has become a term comic fans use when artwork when it stinks to high heaven. Many of his popular characters are considered to have grown the beard once in other hands.

    He has since rejoined Image Comics and returned home to Marvel Comics, much to the disdain of fans of his characters such as Cable and Deadpool, who have thrived under other writers who fleshed them out and made them into popular characters in spite of being Liefeld creations. And even then, his further involvement with said characters is treated with revulsion from fans, who prefer the way post-Liefeld writers have handled his Marvel creations.
  • John Byrne was a famous artist whose work alongside Chris Claremont on the X-Men (see above) made it what it is today. When he left X-Men due to creative differences in 1981, he took over Fantastic Four as writer and artist, producing what is considered to be the second most definitive run on the book, second only to the original Stan Lee/Jack Kirby run. When he jumped ship to DC Comics, things started great, with his Continuity Reboot of Superman effectively modernizing the character and his supporting cast for a new generation of fans.

    Then it all kind of went downhill after that. After working on Superman for a little over two years, Byrne went back to Marvel Comics and later back to DC, where he began "improving" characters in ways that actually left them radioactive and damaged beyond all repair. He irreversibly destroyed the marriage of Vision and Scarlet Witch, with Vision and the couple's children suffering horrific Fates Worse Than Death. He stole Donna Troy from the pages of Green Lantern (where she was involved in an insanely popular romance with Kyle Raynor) and invalidated her entire existence, reducing her to being a "magic reflection brought to life" and not only mindwiped her, but forced her to live out thousands of horrific lives before being "rescued". And that's not getting into his Spider-Man and Doom Patrol work, his egomaniacal belief that only he knows how certain characters should be written, or his threat during his run on X-Men The Hidden Years to erase from canon Magneto's status as a Holocaust survivor just to spite former collaborator Chris Claremont!

    Having burnt his bridges at both of the Big Two comic companies, he's now reduced to doing license work at IDW, drawing Star Trek and Angel comics. His reputation has gotten so bad that his caricature was, until very recently, the poster image of this wiki's Small Name, Big Ego page; for a sampling of why, see his Wiki Quote entry.
  • Dave Sim, creator/artist/author of Cerebus, may well be the most clear-cut Fallen Creator in all of comics. Around the time the "Reads" story arc came out, Sim turned his attention to rambling, batshit-insane misogyny in his comics and in a series of Author Tract essays included as a "bonus" in issues of Cerebus. He shut himself off from friends, family, editors and pretty much everyone else, and on the off-chance that he's mentioned at all by anyone else in the industry today, it's usually with a cringe. Coincidentally, he also wrote an issue of Spawn guest-starring Cerebus in which the entire message was essentially that Spawn was the only comic book character ever whose creator didn't sell him out - except for Cerebus, of course.
  • Joe Casey was another rising star in the late '90s, with a popular run on Cable and a popular fan choice for taking over as writer of the main X-Men books. But just as Casey was about to begin the much anticipated "Cable Vs Apocalypse" storyline that Marvel had been building towards since 1996, Casey was forced to quit the book after Bob Harras, to the horror of X-Men fans everywhere, gave the book to Rob Liefeld to draw and effectively told Casey that Liefeld would be the de facto "writer" and that his job would be to simply produce dialogue/plots for Rob's drawings.

    Casey fled to DC, where he became one of the major writers on Superman, but was lured back to Marvel in 2001 when newly hired editor-in-chief Joe Quesada gave him Uncanny X-Men to write. Unfortunately, Quesada also hired Grant Morrison to write the other X-Men book. Realizing Morrison was going to revamp the entire franchise, Casey decided to emulate Grant's legendary drug usage for inspiration and slagged his fanbase, over the fact that many X-Men fans were expecting Casey's X-Men book to be a more mainstream/familiar take on the X-Men while Morrison reinvented the wheel. Casey's X-Men run was a complete flop and by the time he was giving fans normal X-Men stories, such as X-Men vs. Freedom Force, Marvel lost faith in him and forced him off the book to replace him with Chuck Austen.

    Casey went back to DC and continued with Superman, but never had much say in the main plot lines for that franchise. He ultimately pissed off DC Comics years later when he was invited back to do a sequel to Superman: Our Worlds At War as part of a retooling of Superman/Batman (where the book would tell "lost tales" set during big event story lines), but produced a storyline with no connection to the Crisis Crossover, completely fucked up the retool and resulted in him being fired from the book and his scripts for the second half of the storyline dumped and replaced with another writer's script.

    While Casey still has fans with Marvel for his retro-Avengers mini-series and mini-series work on Iron Man, as well as for his creator owned/Wildstorm Comic work, he's largely considered a burnt-out druggy who could have been the next big thing had he not screwed up. On the other hand, he co-created the popular cartoon Ben 10, which means that he can probably live on merchandise royalties alone for another two centuries.
  • Mark Millar was a young writer who got work in American comics thanks to the patronage of Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis. Taking over The Authority just as the book began receiving mainstream buzz, he became one of the top writers in the US and his censorship fights with DC Comics over his run made him a cause celebre amongst comic fans. But the fame quickly went to his head, and before you can say "Small Name, Big Ego", Millar became a complete and total douchebag, spewing self-promoting lies and showing complete and total contempt for anyone who didn't worship him as the next big thing. Further hurting was Millar taking a massive jump off the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.

    Nowadays, he produces bloody works such as The Unfunnies, Kick-Ass, The Ultimates, and Wanted, that featured Sociopathic Hero characters and Strawman Political arguments supporting his ultra-conservative views. Others see this more of a combination of heavy Satire, Parody, Pastiche of corrupt elements within western popular culture, and "Well, since this is the type of stuff that sells, and the Eagleland xenophobes just cream themselves from any "Do you think that this A on my forehead stands for France?" I put in there, I might as well get rich on their expense, and use the money to help my brother's work for disabled children." Also, Civil War featured massive Character Derailment, especially of Iron Man. (Some consider the character forever ruined, but that probably is going too far -- by this point, fans are used to writers prioritizing their tug-o-wars over telling a story, and know that soon Iron Man will be in better hands; it's not Tony's "fault.")
    • And on the "censorship" issue; Millar fell in the eyes of a lot of his fans when he shamelessly took Bill Jemas's side in firing Mark Waid from the Fantastic Four, when Waid refused to make the Fantastic Four more of a sitcom-type book for Jemas.
    • It got to the point that film versions of Wanted and Kick-Ass (one co-written by him, the other produced and co-financed by him) had to be heavily rewritten to get rid of the unlikability and strawman views. While the Wanted adaptation got a mixed reception due to this, the Kick-Ass adaptation fared much better among critics and audiences. The later has led Millar to retool the property of Kick-Ass to make it more like the movie, complete with pushing Hit-Girl (the only remotely likable character from the first comic and the only character who wasn't changed for the movie) to the forefront of the sequel series.
    • He also seems to have permanently burned bridges with his former mentor Grant Morrison, especially since Millar's work seems to wallow in the Dark Age tropes that Morrison despises. In a recent interview with Morrison, when Millar was brought up, Morrison stated that if he ever met Mark Millar again, he hoped that he would be going 100 MPH in the opposite direction Millar would be going to.
  • Ken Penders was once (for what it's worth) considered one of the best writers on Archie's Sonic The Hedgehog series. In particular, his Knuckles The Echidna series is still regarded as potentially better than the Sonic comics produced during that time. When you mention him now, though, thoughts will inevitably drift to the... less than stellar works from the end of his time on the comic, especially the infamous "Titan Tails" fiasco. Even after he left the comic and Archie, he managed to make things worse by trying to sue for the rights to his original characters from the Knuckles series, even though everyone in the comic is owned by Sega. Praising any of his works, even his good ones, tends not to go well on many Sonic forums.


  • George Lucas wasn't always the divisive figure he is today. When he started out his career, American Graffiti earned him critical success and several Oscar nominations for making such a groundbreaking film. Then, of course came Star Wars, which revitalized the science fiction genre and turned into a landmark film and franchise that, to this day, remains very near and dear to the hearts of many, not to mention Oscar nominations for him personally and the movie. Despite a few missteps in the '80s that briefly rendered him under this trope, he made his mark again with Indiana Jones, another series of critical and fan darlings that still endure.

    However, much of his success during this period was the result of him getting a number of friends (including future critically-acclaimed filmmakers Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, and Steven Spielberg) to read them and offer advice concerning which ideas worked and which didn't. It's also been said that in the original Star Wars trilogy, especially A New Hope, bad lines were ad-libbed over by the actors (Harrison Ford is on record saying to Lucas while filming A New Hope that he "could type this shit... but you sure as hell can't say it"). As time went on, he stopped asking his friends for help (it didn't help that some of them became Fallen Creators themselves, while Spielberg was insanely busy in his own right), his works were rarely vetted by anyone other than himself, and seemed to borrow more from his own previously rejected ideas.

    The results of having nobody to cover up his weaknesses were predictable. Starting in The Nineties, his prestige as a fandom idol began to take swift hits due to multiple different Star Wars recuts with some controversial changes, the mixed-reception to the Star Wars prequels that swiftly divided a once relatively united fanbase, and his long-delayed return to Indiana Jones receiving a lukewarm response at best (it was actually widely acclaimed by critics, though the fan base is much more divided).

    Today, Lucas is just as likely to be reviled as he is to be praised. He still has no trouble finding an audience to see his movies (even the new Indy was a commercial success), but a sign of his decline is the usually negative reaction a Star Wars spin-off receives whenever his involvement is revealed and the likelihood that a review is going to start calling out the usual flaws in his work.
    • It's worth remembering, though, that unlike most of the people on this page, Lucas apparently doesn't take the criticism personally, and has notably poked fun at Jar Jar's terrible rep on The Colbert Report and acknowledging how badly he mishandled Howard the Duck. This doesn't excuse his missteps, mind, but it does make the Broken Base more broken for it: it's harder to hate the man himself since he's not being a dick, he's just screwing up.
    • Lucas also took criticism well enough to slowly decrease and then effectively eliminate Jar Jar from the prequels after the character turned out to be not so big of a hit. Jar Jar's last role as a substitution for Amidala in the Senate also had far less of the annoying childishness he had displayed in Phantom Menace and toned him down significantly, even his speech patterns. That he actually listened to the fans in that case is pretty notable.
    • And now he might start becoming a Woobie. How else can you feel for the guy if he says that he's afraid to make any more movies for fear of being yelled at all the time and being called a terrible person?
  • Ivan Reitman used to be a well-respected Hollywood director that first broke out into fame by directing Meat Balls and is best known for being the man behind Ghostbusters, as well as several successful comedies like Stripes, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, and Dave. However, after many huge flops following the release of Dave, his cred dropped considerably, to the point where even the critics began to openly dread his screen credit. My Super Ex-Girlfriend, for instance, had a critic in Newsday asking "... why was it made? ... And, most important, why is there 10 bucks missing from my pocket?" He did claw some respectability back in 2011 with No Strings Attached, which got decent reviews and topped the box office in its first weekend, but he still faces a lot of work if he's ever going to fully restore his reputation.
    • At least his legacy lives on with his son Jason, who may possibly have a stronger career than his father. Jason now holds four Oscar nominations for his work on Up in the Air and Juno.
  • Between the three of them, the trio of "Zucker Abrahams Zucker" (affectionately nicknamed "ZAZ") did Kentucky Fried Movie, Airplane!!, Police Squad!!, and The Naked Gun. They started splitting up after the first Naked Gun film and separately, all three of them have declined into this trope. Jerry Zucker's last film was the critically panned and mostly forgotten Rat Race, after which he appears to have retired entirely, Jim Abrahams and David Zucker are stuck with Scary Movie 4, and David Zucker had the high-profile flop An American Carol (an Anvilicious parody whose protagonist was a Strawman Political Michael Moore Expy). That last one notably tried to play up his earlier success from Airplane!!, which caused the few critics that actually saw it (it wasn't screened for critics) to remark on how terrible it was in comparison to his earlier movies and how unfunny he has been since.
  • Kevin Costner fell victim to this. His Academy Award for Dances with Wolves earned him immense critical acclaim for his directing and acting, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Untouchables, and The Bodyguard were big hits if not critical faves. But then a series of flops (or at least expensive underperformers), most famously Waterworld and The Postman, led to him not even receiving promotional billing on his films out of fear that just mentioning his involvement could doom a project. He has since recovered somewhat by focusing on more careful, lower-key projects such as The Guardian and the superb Mr. Brooks.
  • M. Night Shyamalan may be the fastest example of this happening in the history of film. After his exceedingly awesome debut, The Sixth Sense, his movies continued to rely on a thin pattern of obligatory but telegraphed twist endings and characters awkwardly bonding in forced situations. This might have not even done him in if not for his huge ego that constantly riled at his critics, and increasingly more important Self-Insert/Mary Sue parts for himself in each of his films. Once regarded as "the next Alfred Hitchcock", he's become a joke about twist endings and The Sixth Sense is generally regarded as a lucky fluke. The only successes he had after that film were Unbreakable, which had good critical reviews, and Signs, which had lukewarm critical reviews but good box office numbers. Everything after this point was one flop after another, leading to the self-indulgent mess of Lady in the Water and the widely loathed Film of the Series The Last Airbender. Movies he's worked on since have seen his creative control decrease and his involvement heavily downplayed.
  • John Landis, the director of Animal House, The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London, Trading Places and the video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller", suffered one of the grislier disgraces on this list. While he was filming a segment for the Twilight Zone anthology movie, a special effect went wrong, and a crashing helicopter killed actor Vic Morrow and two illegally employed child actors. Landis shook off criminal charges in a highly publicized court case, but the accident was a serious blow to Landis's career.

    In spite of this, he still made fairly successful movies for most of the '80s, and had a major hit with Coming to America. What really derailed his career totally was the over-budget, out of control production of Beverly Hills Cop III, and the subsequent flop of The Blues Brothers 2000 pretty much confirmed the kill. He then retreated to documentaries, a field in which he hasn't declined yet (he won an Emmy in 2008 for Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project), and is only now getting back into making feature films.
    • What really makes the Twilight Zone part bad, though, is that it was entirely his fault. He ignored the advice of stunt men and actors alike, demanding the helicopter get closer in each shot so it'd look better. Morrow, in contrast, earned a Dying Moment of Awesome by pushing some of the child actors out of harm's way at the cost of his own life.
  • Another writer-director who took a fall was Blake Edwards. He established himself in the late 1950s/early '60s with Breakfast at Tiffany's, Days of Wine and Roses, The Pink Panther series, etc. He hit rough waters later (the biggest flop of his being Darling Lili), but the Pink Panther series revival in 1975 brought him back around, and his non-Panther films (especially "10" and Victor/Victoria) were well-received too. He even managed to write and direct a thinly fictionalized Take That to Hollywood (S.O.B.) for his earlier treatment during this period. Then Peter Sellers, who played Inspector Clouseau in the Panthers, died -- and Edwards made Trail of... using outtakes and flashbacks of Sellers, and Curse of... using a Replacement Scrappy. Critics were appalled, Edwards and United Artists were sued by Sellers' widow over Trail, and both were box-office underachievers. Edwards made a lot of movies over the next ten years, but to diminishing returns, to the point that MST3K once made a joke where a "brainwashing" machine says "Blake Edwards makes a really good film..." He did receive an Honorary Oscar in 2004, though.
  • Peter Sellers himself was this for a time. In 1964, he was arguably the most acclaimed comic actor in the world. But then he suffered a series of heart attacks. While his first post-attack film, What's New Pussycat, was a hit, After the Fox was a disappointment, and his behavior on the set of Casino Royale was so infamous that the producer and Columbia Pictures blamed him for many, if not most, of its problems. His difficult nature and disappointing films made him almost Deader Than Disco (particularly with American studios) until the Pink Panther revival and Being There turned things around, an example of how the fallen can be redeemed. He looked to be on the verge of throwing it all away again with 1980's disastrous The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, but in a piece of incredibly good timing, he died a month before it was released.
  • Rob Reiner was a force to be reckoned with as a director in the 1980s-'90s: This Is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride, Stand by Me, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, A Few Good Men... and then he made North in 1994, and its box-office and especially critical failure, with only 1995's The American President and 2007's The Bucket List being a comparable success since.
  • The "New Hollywood" era is littered with the corpses of great directors. First, a quick history lesson: New Hollywood was an era that started in the mid-1960s with the release of edgy films (Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate) made by young film school directors who shook up the Hollywood studio system (and killed off what was left of it in the process) and earned massive amounts of money and critical acclaim. As The Sixties and The Seventies went on, directors were given carte blanche for their projects and/or struck out into independent production companies to gain more creative control. Eventually, though, success got to these directors' heads, their films started going from masterpieces to self-indulgent messes, and they fell hard and fast from their lofty perches. Among the most notorious examples:
    • Francis Ford Coppola. He brought the world The Godfather saga and Apocalypse Now in the 1970s. Then the disaster One from the Heart came along, and since then his filmography has largely been a big string of commercial and/or critical disappointments (one of the few bright spots is Bram Stoker's Dracula). He has admitted that he did Jack and several other of his more recent films simply to avoid bankruptcy. His daughter Sofia has taken a cue from him however and become a director, making films such as The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette.
    • Michael Cimino went from The Deer Hunter, the Best Picture Oscar winner of 1978, to Heaven's Gate just two years later. Its failure was so catastrophic that, as noted at Genre Turning Point, it ruined United Artists as a stand-alone studio and turned Hollywood off the Western for a decade or more. A while later, Paramount signed Cimino to direct Footloose, but when filming was to have started he demanded more time and money from the producers, who fired him. He hasn't worked much since (though has recently taken up novel-writing.)
    • The career of William Friedkin, director of The French Connection and The Exorcist, never really recovered after Sorcerer, in spite of its positive reception from critics, flopped at the box office on release in 1977. (It didn't help that it was completely overshadowed by a little film which came out right around the same time...). Add his reputation as a Bad Boss Prima Donna Director...
    • Hal Ashby, after creating classics such as Harold and Maude, Coming Home, Shampoo, and Being There, made a string of critical and commercial failures in the '80s, ruining his reputation, until he couldn't find work anymore. He was dogged by rumors that he'd become an unreliably eccentric drug casualty, but a recent biography (Being Hal Ashby by Nick Dawson) suggests that this was mostly malicious gossip spread in retaliation for his fighting back against Executive Meddling. Ashby smoked epic amounts of weed and loved his booze, but it was his workaholic and perfectionist tendencies and unwillingness to compromise that really hurt his reputation in Hollywood. He died from cancer in 1988 just as he was starting to make a comeback.
    • Robert Altman began the 1970s with the success of Mash in 1970 and Nashville in 1975, two films which epitomised New Hollywood, and had influence far beyond their box office take. He then spent the rest of his directorial career falling and rising and falling again in twenty-year cycles. His work in the rest of the 1970s left the box office cold, and eventually turned off the critics; several of his films from the late 1970s and early 1980s remain unavailable on DVD as of 2010. He began the 80s with a disastrous musical version of Popeye starring Robin Williams, and was forced to work in television for a while, until The Player and Short Cuts in 1992 and 1993 rehabilitated him; he threw it away with 1994's Pret-a-Porter, but seemed to be coming back into fashion when he died in 2006.
    • Peter Bogdanovich was compared to Orson Welles with The Last Picture Show, and succeeded it with the successful comedy What's Up, Doc? and the equally acclaimed Paper Moon. It all went downhill from there, with the negative reception of Daisy Miller and Nickelodeon being the decisive points (1985's MASK being his sole bright spot afterwards).
    • Subverted by Martin Scorsese, who had his own potentially career-ending Protection From Editors-related bomb (the musical New York New York) and drug-related meltdown in the late 1970s, but managed to claw his way back from it with Raging Bull, which was critically acclaimed if not necessarily commercially successful. His early 1980s movies (The King of Comedy, After Hours, etc) were generally respectable even if they didn't set the world on fire, but The Last Temptation of Christ and Goodfellas fully restored his reputation as one of America's best directors.
  • Tom Cruise is a pretty severe self-inflicted case of this. During the '80s and '90s, he was a renowned, charismatic movie star, but that changed over the course of the 2000s as he started acting increasingly unbalanced in public. Things did not seem so bad at first, but once he became the latest "Current Main Face of Scientology in Hollywood" things (and, seemingly, Cruise) went off the deep end. He became more known for some of his infamous stunts (particularly the notorious "couch jumping incident" on The Oprah Winfrey Show) and, more seriously, his embracing and promoting of Scientology's hard-line approach to mental illness and psychiatry. He nabbed some particularly bad publicity after suggesting that actress Brooke Shields, who had revealed the depths of her battle with postpartum depression, "just needed vitamins". His diva antics on the set of Mission Impossible 3, the film's astronomical budget, and the demand that Scientology be permitted to set up tents on all filming sites, did not go over well with Paramount either. Though the film somehow survived the box office (mostly it was J.J. Abrams and Philip Seymour Hoffman), his reputation didn't. It remains to be seen whether Cruise can ever reclaim his mega-stardom instead of just being known as a couch-jumping nutcase.
    • Cruise seems to have regained a modicum of respect after Playing Against Type gloriously in Tropic Thunder, but that was a small-ish role for a star like him. His own production from UA (which he bought after Paramount dumped him) was flop after flop.
    • Even a little before Tropic Thunder, he started taking a few good roles (he got some critical love for Valkyrie), and went more moderate on the Scientology angle.
    • Though its star is still fallen, as the mild reception of Knight and Day proved (to be fair, he was considered by many of the critics to be the best thing in the movie). Let's see if the fourth Mission: Impossible truly saves him.
    • The critical reception of both his performance and the movie so far has been unanimously positive, so he could very well be on his way to a Career Resurrection.
  • Writer/director John Hughes was the man who practically defined 1980s pop cinema. He hit it big right out of the gate with his teen-oriented smash-hits like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Buellers Day Off, and Pretty in Pink. He hit a plateau with Planes, Trains and Automobiles and began a slow slide downward with mediocre but more dramatic films like Some Kind of Wonderful. He had his last major success with Home Alone and its sequel, before bombing with a string of lowbrow flops in the '90s, including Curly Sue, Baby's Day Out, the So Okay It's Average Home Alone 3, and a major holiday flop with his Miracle on 34th Street remake; his biggest hits were the live-action One Hundred and One Dalmatians and Flubber, the remake of classic Disney film The Absent Minded Professor. Flubber was a critical disaster, but still financially successful. After 2001, he wrote scripts for the direct-to-video Beethoven sequels and a couple minor hits (Maid in Manhattan and Drillbit Taylor) under the pseudonym of "Edmond Dantes" until his death in 2009.
  • Kevin Smith looked to be heading this way after Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back flopped and Jersey Girl was loathed even by his die-hard fans (his statements that the film wasn't for critics didn't help either). He seems to have recovered with the more successful Clerks II.
    • And despite the again-lackluster box office returns, Zack and Miri Make a Porno was critically well-received. However, Cop Out, the first film which he directed but did not write, was critically panned. This, together with the now-infamous "airline incident" that occurred shortly before the release of Cop Out (which, although he was totally screwed over by the airline, he managed to handle the situation very poorly), has led to Smith's reputation plummeting spectacularly among film fans. Although it remains to be seen whether Smith has well and truly squandered his loyal fanbase, these two incidents (particularly the airline incident) have clearly caused irreparable damage to his reputation.
      • His next film, Red State, could make up for those incidents as it is a return to his writer/director roots and features a a fairly strong cast. However, it is a horror/thriller type movie, a genre he has never before dabbled in. Only time will tell.
      • Smith has recently gotten in the news for another incident over the film rights of Red State. After a bizarre introduction featuring Wayne Gretzky's stick and lots of profanity, he held an auction in which he stopped it after submitting his own bid for $20 and announced he would self-distribute. After this display of egotism, many distributors were angry and have possibly severed ties with the director.
    • Smith also dabbles in the occasional writing of comic books over at DC & Marvel, where his stuff was already controversial. His most recent project, Batman: Widening Gyre, was already receiving low reviews when Smith wrote out a scene where Batman flashes back to his confrontation of the crime bosses in the mansion during Batman: Year One. Said scene "revealed" that when Batman used explosives to blow open a wall, the shock made him.... soil himself in his costume. What little respect people had for the book instantly vanished after that.
      • It also didn't help that he wrote a scene where The Joker raped Harley Quinn. First of all The Joker is about as sexually aggressive as turnip in literally every incarnation, second it shows that he understands the character even less than Tim Burton and third why the hell would you think this would remotely make sense?
      • Meanwhile, over at Marvel, he penned Daredevil for a time - a run that included killing over steady girlfriend Karen Page and villain Mysterio. The latter is particularly irksome because Mysterio is a long-time Spider-Man villain and his motivation for going after Daredevil was never very clear. Marvel editors have since admitted that they didn't rein in Smith like they would've for other writers. Also, his Spider-Man/Black Cat miniseries, which suffered from severe Schedule Slip. It was originally a four-parter, but it took several years for Part 4 to come out. (And by that time, the mini was given a couple extra parts - most likely to justify the long wait.) And by the time it wrapped, the book was also not well-received because it retconned Black Cat's backstory so that she took up a life of theft because she was unable to kill the guy who raped her in college.
  • Stephen Herek established himself as a big name director during the 80's and early 90's. Among his big hits were Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure, The Mighty Ducks, and The Three Musketeers 1993. That all changed in 2005, however, when he directed Man Of The House. Slammed by critics and audiences alike, Herek has since been stuck to directing Direct to Video movies, such as the sequels to Into The Blue and The Cutting Edge.
  • Woody Allen is a multi-talented actor, director, writer, and musician. (For example, he holds the record for most Academy Award nominations for Best Screenplay -- fourteen.) First becoming famous as a stand-up comic in the 1960s, he went on to major film successes like Sleeper, Bananas, Annie Hall, Manhattan, and Hannah And Her Sisters (among others) in the '70s and '80s. His films began to decline in prestige and commercial success in the 1990s; in fact audiences favoring his "early, funny" films were already a problem for him in The Eighties. Unfortunately, he also had a massive scandal in his personal life that overshadowed much of his earlier work -- an affair with his long-time lover Mia Farrow's adopted daughter, Soon-Yi. Because he had known the girl since she was seven, it didn't matter very much that she was 22 at the time they married and that she was a legal adult when the relationship is believed to have begun, thus dogging him with jokes about pedophilia ever since. This ended his relationship with Farrow and also estranged him from one of their biological children in the aftermath. It didn't help that the real-life scandal caused audiences and critics to be more judgmental about his tendency to romantically pair his characters in films with ones played by very young actresses, although he's far from the only Hollywood offender there. Allen's films continued to decline, with several massive flops in the late '90s and 2000s, with minor bright spots in 2005's Match Point, 2008's Vicky Cristina Barcelona and 2011's Midnight in Paris. While he is prolific, with at least one new film each year since 1982, his glory days appear to be well behind him.
    • It doesn't help that Woody Allen came out and supported Roman Polanski after the famous director was arrested for drugging and raping a thirteen year-old girl.
  • Speaking of Roman Polanski, while still generally acknowledged as a gifted artist, when he raped a thirteen year old girl and fled the country, a lot of people were appalled. It was, however, an extremely complex situation which also involved allegations of judicial misconduct, and there are many people who are going to reserve judgment until he actually comes back to America and faces the courts, as well as some die-hard fans who don't care. AND THAT IS ALL WE WILL SAY ABOUT THE CASE.
    • And now with the emergence of a certain petition, a lot of actors and directors might get this from their fans.
    • Even before the incident a lot of critics felt that Polanski had betrayed the promise of his earlier films and had been riding on his reputation for a while. While Chinatown was universally praised, Polanski only joined the project well into its development. His other early '70s movies (Macbeth, What?, The Tenant) were mostly commercial and critical flops.
  • Guy Ritchie's first film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was an indie success and critical darling for its fresh, vibrant style. He followed up with Snatch, which was an even bigger success, but some critics complained that he was rehashing his previous film too much. In response, he remade Swept Away, and everyone hated it. When he returned to familiar territory with the crime caper Revolver, he tried to mix things up with a Xanatos Gambit and an Anvilicious Aesop. The film was so poorly received that it didn't even see wide release in America. Ritchie then made Rock N Rolla in an obvious attempt to recapture the violent and irreverent underworld hijinks of his first two films. By this point, people seemed to have lost interest in his original style and the film tanked. His adaptation of Sherlock Holmes appears to have revived his fortunes, at least for now; it received mostly positive reviews, and was successful at the box office, grossing more than all of his previous films combined.
  • Fred Dekker directed two of the most well-known cult classics of the 1980s: The Monster Squad and Night Of The Creeps. In 1991, he took on the job of writing the screenplay for and directing the much-maligned sequel RoboCop 3, effectively killing the Robocop franchise in the U.S. for several years. Dekker stayed out of the limelight, and only stepped out of hiding more than a decade later to help produce the first season of Star Trek: Enterprise.
  • Lindsay Lohan had a decent start to her film career with remakes of The Parent Trap and Freaky Friday, and seemed poised to transition well to young adult stardom with Mean Girls and A Prairie Home Companion. Immediately afterward her reputation tanked hard thanks to drug addiction and numerous car crashes, plus a publicized letter during the making of Georgia Rule about her frequently showing up late to the set thanks to going out partying the night before. After seeming to hit rock bottom with the universally panned I Know Who Killed Me, Lohan went through rehab and publicly stated that she let success go to her head and she would try to maintain a better public image from now on. Then came her recurring role on Ugly Betty, where she reportedly acted like such a diva on set that the storyline was heavily rewritten just to get rid of her, though there are conflicting reports that say she left the show due to Creative Differences over the way her character was handled. A comeback was apparent when she was cast as Linda Lovelace in the upcoming biopic film Inferno, but she later dropped out of the film. Now in 2012 things are finally beginning to look up for her, she hosted Saturday Night Live for the fourth time, and though reactions to her performance were mixed, it wound up being the highest rated SNL episode of the season (not counting the special with Peyton Manning), and now she has a guest apperance on Glee and is currently scheduled to play Elizabeth Taylor in a Lifetime biopic Liz And Dick.
  • Joel Schumacher had some acclaimed films in The Eighties and The Nineties, such as The Lost Boys, St. Elmo's Fire, and Falling Down. Yet when he's the director chosen by Warner Bros to turn Batman Lighter and Softer... while Batman Forever made some money while dividing people, the dreadful Batman and Robin led him to picking lower budget films, most of which were failures (the critically acclaimed Tigerland and the critical and commercial hit Phone Booth being exceptions). The next big-budget film he directed, The Phantom of the Opera, met with popular approval, but critics denounced it as overproduced and badly directed. (The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, but not for Best Director or Best Picture.) It is too soon to tell if the Nicolas Cage/Nicole Kidman thriller Trespass will restore his career after such forgettable flops as The Number 23 and Twelve (but sinceTrespass got a video-on-demand release the same day as its (very) limited theatrical release and hit cinemas with a DVD date already set, probably not).
  • Director Tod Browning had a string of successful silent-film collaborations with Lon Chaney, and helmed the seminal talkie vampire film Dracula, but after the initial disaster of Freaks, it was all downhill. However, Freaks has become Vindicated by History and is now considered an underrated classic.
  • The Wachowskis have been lurching dangerously towards this status over the last few years. After a modest start with Bound (which didn't do all that well at the box office but performed pretty nicely in the VHS market, no doubt due to the volume of Les Yay it featured) they hit it big with The Matrix, which many acclaimed for "revolutionizing" the action genre. Since then, it's been a gradual downwards slope. The Matrix Reloaded did pretty well at the box office, but there was a nagging feeling among viewers that it should have been a lot better, and later that year The Matrix Revolutions was widely slammed as being nigh-incomprehensible as well as being a poor conclusion to the series, and did only moderately well at the box office. V for Vendetta saw a brief return to form (although they didn't direct it), but since then it's been downhill all the way, as they helped to produce a butchered re-edit of The Invasion, had a major money loser with Speed Racer and their most recent production, Ninja Assassin sank without a trace at the box office. Reports of their next film being a "hard-R gay love story" between an Iraq war soldier and an Iraqi likely won't help gain fans back.
    • To their credit, with Ninja Assassin, most critics liked the fight sequences but panned the plot (if you can call it that), which the Wachowskis didn't write. J. Michael Straczynski admitted that he was on a tight timeline and finished the script in less than three days.
    • They may be on the way to a Career Resurrection, with their adaption of Cloud Atlas attracting big-name talent like Tom Hanks.
    • And Speed Racer is starting to become Vindicated by History, as some who now view the film see it as groundbreaking and underrated, so the Wachowski's might not be done for just yet.
  • In The Nineties, Robin Williams (having built himself up from being just a stand-up comedian / sitcom star) was one of the most beloved comedic actors. He was doing it all: Adult comedies, kids' films, a few dramas here and there. And for one film in that last category, Good Will Hunting, he won an Oscar. And then he made Patch Adams, which wasn't even a bad movie, but many people were turned off by the combination of overly-zany humor and saccharine drama, and many also believed that the other doctors in the film were right. From then on, many television shows viewed him as a kind of walking punchline rather than the jokester. People started to focus on his less-than-stellar career choices like RV, License To Wed, and Old Dogs while ignoring his better output such as House Of D, The Big White and World's Greatest Dad (it doesn't help that the former three are major studio films while the latter three are from independent studios). The exceptions are films like Insomnia & One Hour Photo where he plays the villain.
    • Williams has regained some measure of respect by returning to his roots with a number of well-recieved stand up specials.
  • Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner is often remembered now as a talentless, soul-sucking hack that "destroyed" the company built by Walt and Roy O. Disney. Few remember that the company had nearly been destroyed by Ron Miller's inept leadership in the early '80s, and that Eisner was brought in by Roy E. Disney after the first "Save Disney" campaign in 1984. Eisner took Disney to the major market force that exists today -- returning it to higher-budget films, creating the Touchstone division for adult-oriented material, and pushing for the much-lauded Disney Renaissance that revived animated films after the false start of The Black Cauldron. He believed in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and brought new interest to the golden age of animation, while getting Disney into television animation (resulting in DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, Tale Spin, Gargoyles, etc.). But when Disney's president Frank Wells died in a helicopter crash just before the release of The Lion King in 1994, long-time studio chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg expected to be promoted to fill Wells' position. When Eisner refused and forced Katzenberg to resign, he left the studio to found DreamWorks, whose animation arm became a major competitor to Disney's. The promotion of Eisner's friend Michael Ovitz to the position was a disaster that upset most of the shareholders -- even more so when he left the company with a $38 million dollar severance. Disney's new films, shows, and theme parks began to tank one after another in the late '90s and early 2000s -- accused of becoming formulaic, obsessed with The Merch, and in the case of the parks outright lazy and cheap, while the old animated films were hit hard by Direct to Video Sequelitis. Eisner burned enough bridges that even Pixar was ready to end their long partnership. In the wake of this, Roy E. Disney resigned from the board of directors and started a second "Save Disney" campaign to get rid of Eisner, who resigned under extreme pressure in 2005. It wasn't all doom and gloom for both Disney and Eisner though -- Disney under Bob Iger is slowly recovering, having rebuilt the bridges with Pixar and drawing positive attention from the public with three particular projects, while Eisner's guest-hosting stint on The Charlie Rose Show not long after his ouster led to him getting a regular talk-show on CNBC; he continues to expand into Internet production and he bought the Topps baseball company.
    • Eisner was famous for being a control freak. Jerry Bruckheimer initially brought the CSI franchise to ABC/Disney and Eisner rejected him. Eisner also reportedly hated Lost and wanted it canceled despite its success. Reports from the inside even say that Eisner was hard set against both Lost and Desperate Housewives, which were immense hits for ABC in 2004... while pushing his own project, which was basically "Stacy's Mom" by Fountains of Wayne as a sitcom.
  • Sean Connery had a stellar career through all the 1960s, '70s and '80s, and time seemed to make him only better. However, after the successes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Hunt for Red October, his career started to slide. He still got some critical and/or commercial successes like The Rock and Finding Forrester, but his last movies were mostly disappointments, and made him to be perceived as way past his glory days. Some unfortunate choices made things worse: he declined to play Gandalf, while choosing to do things like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. After that movie, he retired. Sad way to go out with a whiz instead of a bang.
  • Roland Joffe received Best Director Oscar nominations for his first two movies, The Killing Fields and The Mission. It's all been downhill from there, leading to him directing widely-panned torture porn film Captivity (with Elisha Cuthbert) in 2007.
  • Nicolas Roeg, director and cinematographer, was the guiding force behind sci-fi landmark The Man Who Fell to Earth, Walkabout (on the Roger Ebert Great Movies List), and Don't Look Now (also on the list and voted the eighteenth best film by Times). Yes indeed, The Seventies were an amazing time for him. His films in the eighties were largely overlooked, and in The Nineties was making movies like the straight-to-cable, soft-core erotic film Full Body Massage with Mimi Rogers and Bryan Brown.
  • After Signs, Mel Gibson decided to take a break from acting and focus on directing, eventually making the controversial but successful The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto. But then his personal life made him a very hated person, with allegations of antisemitism and racism, and arrests for DUI and domestic violence. In 2010, he attempted an acting comeback with Edge of Darkness, which flopped. And then came the release of a series of recorded phone conversations with his ex-girlfriend, in which his lunatic behavior seems to have been cranked Up to Eleven. It's probably safe to say he'll never fully recover from this; he got kicked out of a cameo in The Hangover 2 after Zach Galifianakis raised holy hell, and The Beaver flopped despite being one of the most acclaimed unproduced scripts from the last couple decades. To make it worse, despite a promising trailer, his next movie, the domestic debut of his next movie, Get the Gringo, will not be theatrical, but on Directv's video-on-demand.
  • National Lampoon made a name for itself as a humor magazine spun off from the Harvard Lampoon. Their first film, Animal House, was an American classic and a huge box office success[1]. The National Lampoon name was a valuable commodity, and they licensed it out to other films. The success of the Vacation series only added to their clout. Then the magazine fell hard from its '70s peak, and they have since attached their name to a string of low-budget "teens behaving badly" productions: Senior Trip, Dorm Daze, and Van Wilder are relative highlights.
  • In the late '80s and early '90s, Luc Besson was an internationally acclaimed filmmaker whose movies The Big Blue, La Femme Nikita, The Professional and The Fifth Element continue to be popular with audiences and critics alike. Then he started focusing more on producing and writing increasingly panned French action movies such as the Taxi franchise, as well as anglophone movies that, while enjoying a certain amount of success overseas, were either ignored or panned by French critics. Today, in spite of his recent successes with the adaptations of his own Arthur and the Invisibles trilogy, he is dismissed by most French critics as a once-talented sellout who writes and produces loud, dumb and cliché-ridden action movies.
  • John McTiernan was one of the biggest action directors of the late 1980s and early '90s with films such as Die Hard, Predator, and The Hunt for Red October. It was pretty hit or miss after that with Medicine Man and Last Action Hero both underperforming and getting mixed reviews. McTiernan made "good again" by returning to direct the third Die Hard film in 1995. Unfortunately, this was followed by the massive financial flop that was The 13th Warrior. The remake of The Thomas Crown Affair was McTiernan's last "real" hit. What followed was extremely harshly recieved (not only financially, but critically) remake of Rollerball. McTiernan's next film (and his final film to date), Basic, despite the presence of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson also received mostly negative reviews. After that, McTiernan was in the news more for his criminal conviction in the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping scandal than for his movies.
  • Molly Ringwald was arguably the queen of coming of age high school/teen films in the 1980s with Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. However, her relationship with writer/director John Hughes ended on a sour note when she turned down Lea Thompson's role in Some Kind of Wonderful. Also, by the end of the '80s and start of the 1990s, Ringwald turned down roles that would prove to be star making roles for Meg Ryan (When Harry Met Sally), Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman), and fellow Brat Packer Demi Moore (Ghost). For pretty much, a good share of the '90s, Ringwald spent time in France only resurfacing for the short-lived ABC sitcom Townies (co-starring a pre-Dharma and Greg Jenna Elfman and pre-Gilmore Girls Lauren Graham). Ringwald however, would poke fun at her iconic high school movie status with a cameo in the 2001 film Not Another Teen Movie. Ringwald is perhaps most known these days for her role on the considerably Anvilicious Narmfest on ABC Family called The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
  • Richard Linklater was a critical darling and high in-demand director of films such as Dazed and Confused, The School Of Rock, Waking Life and Slacker and looked to be one who could never make a bad movie. Then he did an adaptation of the non-fiction book Fast Food Nation, changed the entire point of the book and turned it into one long Author Tract against eating meat. The film was a critical and box office disaster and Linklater has since had trouble getting distributors for his films.
  • Robert Zemeckis has fallen victim of this as of early 2011 with the spectacular failure of Mars Needs Moms. It's too early to tell if it may grind the performance capture movies Zemeckis was a champion of to a temporary halt (October's Tintin was a big success critically and commercially), but in the meantime, it has led to the closure of his studio. At least, this may prompt him to return to "traditional" movies...
  • Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Burt Reynolds was one of the biggest movie stars in the world. However, by the start of the 1990s, he seemed to be more in the news for his personal life (such as his messy divorce from Loni Anderson and having to file for bankruptcy) than for his acting. Around this period, Reynolds transitioned himself into being a television star with the B.L. Stryker TV movies for ABC and the sitcom Evening Shade for CBS. Reynolds would resurface in the critically bashed buddy movie Cop & a Half. It wasn't until Reynolds' Oscar nominated turn in Boogie Nights that Reynolds regained some respectability, but even that didn't last too long.
  • Japanese directors Hideo Nakata and Takashi Shimizu were internationally acclaimed for their forays in the J-horror genre (Ringu for Nakata, Ju-on for Shimizu). Their acclaim was so good that they came to the United States to remake their own films. Nakata's The Ring Two made money but was critically panned (mostly for retreading the remake of the first film's events) and Nakata has struggled to gain back his momentum (a recent attempt at a comeback with Chatroom was a critical and commercial disaster). Shimizu's first American film The Grudge was a hit but its sequel was badly received and became a Creator Killer for him and its star, Amber Tamblyn. Nearly all of his post-The Grudge 2 projects have been complete disasters.
  • Vincent Gallo is an arguable example. After making a career as a supporting actor in films like The Funeral, he made his acclaimed directorial debut Buffalo 66. Then he made his infamous follow up The Brown Bunny, which led him to an unsuccessful war of words with critic Roger Ebert, who had previously supported his career. Since then, he has mostly been in tabloids for his extremely bizarre behaviour (e.g. trying to put a hex on Ebert), his truly venomous personality (e.g. criticizing Christina Ricci for her weight, unprovoked four years after working with her), his own claims of genius, and his vitriolic verbal tirades (e.g. calling Francis Ford Coppola "a fat pig", Sofia Coppola "a parasite" and Martin Scorsese "an egomaniac has been, who hasn't made a good film in twenty-five years"). While he still has a sizeable fanbase, even his most ardent supporters have come to accept that he is an unfortunate case of talent undone by ego. Nowadays, he is more likely to be known for inspiring the character of pretentious jerkass Billy Walsh in Entourage.
  • John Singleton started his career out with a bang with Boyz N the Hood, which was a box office hit and got him Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director (he was the youngest to be nominated for the latter). After a number of acclaimed films in the 1990s, the changing box office climate in the 2000s made Singleton a dinosaur and forced him into making for-hire projects such as 2 Fast 2 Furious. One of the big reasons for his downfall was that Paramount apparently screwed him over after he made a deal with them for Hustle And Flow, basically they promised him two independent films, but they made it all but impossible for those films to get made. The bottom fell out in 2007 when he was in a car accident that caused him to accidentally kill a man (he was acquitted though), which led him to become a pariah in Hollywood. His first post-accident project was the critically mauled Abduction. At this point, it's looking like he will never reach the fame and glory of his early days.
  • In film scoring, Hans Zimmer protege Klaus Badelt was a rising star in film scoring with his work in action films such as The Time Machine and Equilibrium, with his high point being the score in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Then a pair of high-profile flops (Catwoman and Poseidon) combined with the reveal that the majority of the Pirates of the Caribbean was really the work of Zimmer (Badelt simply taking credit) irrepairably destroyed his career. He's still around but as a lower-tier composer in Zimmer's canon, scoring mostly little-seen indies and straight-to-DVD films.
  • Warren Beatty was once a renowned actor/director, but that all changed when he made Town And Country which was both a Box Office Bomb and a flop with critics, the behind-the-scenes drama of the film (Beatty insisting on doing re-shoots of almost every scene, causing the film's budget to swell from 40 million to 80 million, quite a large amount for a romantic comedy) didn't help him either.
    • Ironically, at the start of the 1990s, Beatty had somewhat of a Career Resurrection with Dick Tracy (the most commercially successful film of his career) after the previous biggest flop of his career in 1987's Ishtar.
  • Spike Lee spent much of his career as a polarizing but successful director in Hollywood whose films usually tended to be well-reviewed and topical. Even when he missed, he still managed to recover with the next film. But the breaking point came in 2008 when his film Miracle At St Anna flopped and his Small Name, Big Ego became too much to handle for others (he had gotten in the news some time before its release criticizing Clint Eastwood for not featuring any black characters in Flags of our Fathers when Eastwood was simply abiding by historical fact). Since then, Lee has mostly spent his time in television and documentaries but will likely never get the stature he once had in Hollywood and with audiences (Pariah, which he produced was acclaimed but little-seen while Red Hook Summer, which he directed was badly received at Sundance and did not get a distribution deal).
  • Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was one of the top film comedian/director/producers in the beginning of the Golden Age of Hollywood. After a scandal in 1921 where a woman died of kidney failure at a party Arbuckle held, and (unsubstantiated) rumors kindled by the press formed that Arbuckle raped the girl while she was unconscious, crushing her under his weight, his good-guy image fell hard. Arbuckle, even while acquitted in court, had to resort to working under pseudonyms as a movie director for the rest of his life. He, nor his career ever fully recovered from the rumors, and the scandal was reportedly one of the catalysts of the passing of the Hays Code.
  • Following her breakthrough role in When Harry Met Sally, Meg Ryan starred in a string of successful romantic comedies and dramas over the course of the 1990s (perhaps most notably, her three films with Tom Hanks, the latter two, Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail both grossed over $100 million at the domestic box office). However, Ryan's reported affair with her Proof of Life co-star Russell Crowe (while Ryan was still married albeit, separated to Dennis Quaid) did serious harm to Ryan's "good girl", "America's Sweetheart" image. Ryan gained further negative publicity while appearing on the UK talk show Parkinson while promoting the erotic thriller (and decidedly against type role) In the Cut. Ryan gave a few one-word answers, and after she acknowledged that she wasn't comfortable with the interview Michael Parkinson asked her what she would do if she were in his position now. She replied that she would "just wrap it up". Parkinson later revealed to the press that he felt her behaviour to his earlier guests, Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine, whom she turned her back on, was "unforgivable". Ryan also commented that Parkinson was a "nut" and said that she was "offended" by him as he was like a "disapproving father" in his tone. Ryan's arguably ill-advised cosmetic procedures (which further diminished her Girl Next Door appeal) also served as a major blow to her career. Following the 2004 boxing drama Against the Ropes (which flopped at the box office and was panned by critics for baring too much of a resemblance to other boxing movies, such as the Rocky series), Ryan didn't appear in another movie for three years. Ryan would resurface in the independent movie In the Land of Women and the direct-to-DVD movies The Deal and Mom's New Boyfriend. Ryan's next major theatrically released film, 2008's The Women received significant negative response from critics and holds only a 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Ryan herself would also be nominated for a Worst Actress Razzie (alongside co-stars Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Debra Messing).


  • Orson Scott Card is also an excellent example of this trope in action. Between Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, the early books of the Alvin Maker series, and even his work on games like Monkey Island, Card was easily one of the best sci-fi/fantasy authors of the '80s and early '90s. But he took a turn with the increasingly political and continuity-contradictory Ender's Shadow series and Advent Rising. Now Card can't seem to write anything without having to rehash his political views and run them smack dab into the plot as he did in Empire. His online non-fiction essays and blogosphere reaction to them also made his more controversial social and political views much more visible and hotly-debated, reaching a peak with an article (which he later back-pedalled from) that appeared to suggest that legalisation of gay marriage in the US would justify armed revolution against the government. Now just the mere mention of his name can cause problems, such as his work on the plot for Shadow Complex.
    • Then he rewrote Hamlet and explained that Hamlet's father was a gay pedophile who was killed by Horatio because he molested him as a child. Oh and he, Laertes, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern all turned gay because of it. It ends with Hamlet damned him to Hell, where his father tells them now they can be together. This was initially published in an anthology, and then someone somehow decided that it should have wider release.
  • Despite its obvious flaws, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series was popular amongst teenage girls and their mothers, for its portrayal of a homely young teenage girl (so bland that the reader could effortlessly slip into her shoes), a sparkly, handsome, protective vampire, and their chaste love affair. The last book in the series. Breaking Dawn, was riddled with continuity errors and Character Derailment, and suddenly had Bella become a sex addict, get pregnant after her first sexual encounter, and give birth in a scene that involved her vomiting up "a fountain of blood," getting her spine broken, and having the baby delivered via her husband ripping into her stomach with his teeth. If the birth scene alone didn't Squick out the fans, Jacob's subsequent imprinting on Bella's newborn baby surely did the trick. Not long after this, Meyer announced that she wouldn't be writing her follow-up novel Midnight Sun because a segment of her first draft had been leaked on the internet. Fans were not impressed.
    • Statements that her next book is about "time-travelling, cannibal mermaids" aren't helping either.
      • To be fair, that's almost definitely a Mondegreen (she was listing various ideas in an interview and spoke a bit too quickly, making them sound like one bizarre one).
  • Anne Rice was a groundbreaking author (and partially responsible for creating the goth/vampire subculture.) Then in the early '90s, she started demanding Protection From Editors, and the quality of her writing took a sharp turn downward.
    • Of course, it didn't help matters much when she became quite religious, declaring that she had "consecrated [her] work to Jesus Christ" and was now committed to writing Christian fiction, which didn't seem to go terribly over well, nor her adamant stance against fanfiction or her blow-up on after poor reviews.
      • And then this. How many slippery slopes can one person go through anyway? In any case, people are still awaiting something to make up for the Amazon incident....
    • A while after she had all fanfics removed and banned from, even the harmless comedy ones, she also stopped feeding fodder to the people writing them; the GLBT community and yaoi fans, which made up a good chunk of her fandom at the time.
  • Martin Amis, possibly. After writing for a while, he struck it big with Money, and continued his success with books such as London Fields and The Information. Then came Yellow Dog, which despite being longlisted for the Man Booker Prize was reviewed extremely harshly (The Daily Telegraph even compared it to "your favourite uncle being caught in the playground masturbating"). He managed to recover some success with House of Meetings and The Pregnant Widow, but those also received mixed reviews and average sales. Time will tell if he manages to get his momentum back.
  • Transylvanian poet KAF (Kovacs Andras Ferenc) used to be a talented author, with some very good poems. He's still talented but for the past few years, his writing has been influenced by alcohol, and it shows.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe authors Karen Traviss and Troy Denning have been hit by this. Traviss' works started out with the hit "Hard Contact", which is considered one of the best Clone Wars novels written, and then delivered the well received "Triple Zero". But following these books, her bias towards Mandalorians and her demonizing of the Jedi left EU readers divided. Things only got worse with her contributions to Legacy of the Force, where she managed to kill off two beloved fan favorites in disappointing fashion, and delegating the main plot to the sideline to make way for the Mandalorians. Her abrasive attitude towards people who disagreed with her on Star Wars message boards gained her a sizable Hatedom. She has since left writing in the EU due to contractual reasons, but mentioning her is surefire Flamebait for some. Since then, she has moved on to the Gears of War universe and is slated to start writing the next set of Halo novels. Only time will tell if she will alienate those fanbases as well.
    • Troy Denning made a big hit with the novel "Star By Star," a book which defined the New Jedi Order series. He followed up on this with the Dark Nest Trilogy, on which opinions are all over the place. He has been accused of major Character Derailment in Legacy of the Force and more recently Fate of the Jedi. Fans are divided on whether his Darker and Edgier approach to Star Wars is the best for the Expanded Universe.
    • Karen Traviss wrote the second-last book of Legacy of the Force and Troy Denning wrote the last book of Legacy of the Force. Karen had Jaina learning new fighting techniques and other things from the Mandalorians in the second-last book. Troy, according to reviewers, did not show Jaina really applying what she had learned from the Mandalorians to her fights with her brother Jacen in the last book. It can be inferred from this that Troy did not like Karen treating the Mandalorians as important over everything else, that he was willing to mess up the story just to give her the finger, and that he considered her a Fallen Creator like everyone else.
      • In addition to Troy Denning, the writings in both Christie Golden's and Aaron Allston's works in the Fate of the Jedi series indicate that no love was lost between them and Karen after her departure.
  • An earlier example for Star Wars is Kevin J. Anderson. At the time of publication, his Jedi Academy Trilogy was well received, (not to mention creating a huge part of the EU), he was riding high on his Tales of the Jedi comics for Dark Horse, he was heavily involved in reference books such as The Illustrated Star Wars Universe and the original Essential Guide series and he edited the still-popular Tales From anthology collections. Cracks began to show when he wrote the divisive Dark Empire comics, which are allegedly George Lucas' favourite EU stories (for what it's worth) but included the notorious resurrection of Emperor Palpatine and Dark Side Luke. Then Michael A. Stackpole wrote I, Jedi, pointing out the MASSIVE number of problems with the JAT, and now Kevin J. doesn't write Star Wars books anymore. Dune fans can also be sent into frothing seizures at the mention of Anderson as well.

Live Action TV

  • During the hit days of The X-Files, Chris Carter was untouchable. Then, people started accusing him of just making the show's 'mythology arc' up as he went along. Since The X-Files ended, he hasn't had much in the way of his former success; his last project, the second X Files movie, was widely criticized.
  • Ben Elton was a leading figure of alternative comedy in the eighties and, among other things, co-wrote The Young Ones and Blackadder (which he helped grow its literal beard). Several less popular shows, novels, and West End productions plus a perceived shift in politics later, his name is more or less code for "talentless hack." For many critics and fans, The Thin Blue Line was the turning point, as on the basis of The Young Ones and Blackadder many people were expecting it to be a vicious black comedy about police incompetence, corruption, brutality and racism. What they got was a more traditional sitcom in the vein of Dad's Army.
    • Elton was at one point doing well as a novelist, Popcorn and Dead Famous in particular being both bestsellers and critically well-received; but he hit a low point in 2005 with The First Casualty which not only did not sell well and was panned in reviews, but also earned him a "Bad Sex Awards" nomination for the worst sex scene in fiction that year. None of his subsequent books have recovered his former success.
    • In 2011 Elton wrote and presented a stand-up / sketch comedy variety show in Australia, Ben Elton Live From Planet Earth which was heavily promoted as something of a comeback and intended to be a flagship for Channel Nine, the station it was airing on. Unfortunately for him, viewers and critics largely agreed that it was actually a contender for one of the worst shows of the year, it was widely pilloried as dated, unfunny and hackneyed, and hemorrhaged from 805,000 viewers to 233,000 over the first episode alone. It was eventually cancelled after three episodes, and it looks unlikely that Elton's going to be returning to the screen any time soon.
  • Toshiki Inoue was a great writer for various Tokusatsu shows like Changerion, Choujin Sentai Jetman and Kamen Rider Agito. While Kamen Rider Faiz was not bad, his part in the insane Executive Meddling that befell Kamen Rider Hibiki proved to be quite a blow, though really, he was Mis Blamed - if he hadn't done as he was told, he'd have been replaced just like his predecessors were (see J. Michael Straczynski before One More Day was known to be Joe Quesada's doing.) He was never really as successful in writing something as his early day works, as seen with Kamen Rider Kiva, the lowest rated and least commercially successful Rider series to date. Inoue may be showing a return to form in writing the Jetman episode of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, which was well-received with fans and gave the show a slight ratings bump.
  • Verity Lambert was the producer who helped Doctor Who get under way, in no small part due to her disregarding the initial instructions given to her by The BBC. She enjoyed similar levels of success in her subsequent projects, and in the '70s and '80s was widely considered to be the top drama producer in the UK. Then, in the early 90s she produced the infamous soap opera flop Eldorado (you may recognise the name from an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?), which knocked her reputation quite badly. She still amassed a decent list of credits (including Jonathan Creek) between then and her death in 2007, but her reputation never really recovered to the phenomenal levels it had reached in the preceding decades.
  • Crossing Jordan did well for writer Tim Kring, but he garnered tons of notice after he made Heroes. There were many Lost-like shows then, but Heroes not only become a popular phenomenon on its own but actually became more popular than Lost was by that point. It even got a Emmy nomination for Best Drama Series, rare for a sci-fi show. His popularity didn't decline with season 2, because the well-known writers' strike made whatever plans they'd had impossible, and he apologized for the season's flaws and promised to do better. Then came the universally-derided third season. Now critics and fans alike frequently say that the only way the show could improve would be if Tim Kring left, turning him from "the next JJ Abrams!" to a complete laughing stock.
    • With the show's cancellation, fans seem pretty convinced that it was actually Bryan Fuller who was responsible for the show's initial greatness, and that Tim Kring is a "nice idea, shame about the execution" kind of writer. Still, considering that Kring's early career was spent writing stuff like Teen Wolf 2, he can probably be proud that he gained any sort of reputation to squander in the first place.
    • Not helping was an interview where he throws blame around with reckless abandon as to why the ratings were drying up, not saving any of it for himself. He also said that his initial "apology" was taken out of context and he's never felt the need to actually apologize for any part of the series.
    • And there was also the infamous "saps and dipshits" comment Kring made at a screenwriting con, when he claimed that DVR was ruining serialized shows like Heroes. Given that these comments came at a time when the suckage of Season 3 was hitting fans full-force, nobody was inclined to read his comments very charitably.

 "The engine that drove [serialized TV] was you had to be in front of the TV [when it aired]. Now you can watch it when you want, where you want, how you want to watch it, and almost all of those ways are superior to watching it on air. So [watching it] on air is related to the saps and the dipshits who can't figure out how to watch it in a superior way."

  • Bruce Kalish went through this so fast among Power Rangers fans it borders on Mood Whiplash. The first season he produced was SPD, which was received well by fans (though it had quite a few holes that didn't escape notice, while not ruining the show for most.) The next that he did was Mystic Force which... wasn't. After that, he produced Operation Overdrive, and somehow, It Got Worse (Overdrive is one of the three considered the worst of the show's entire run, alongside Turbo and Wild Force.) Jungle Fury was a little better, but now most fans consider his entire four-year run of the show a Dork Age for the series, and blame him for its near-cancellation (though Screwed by the Network actually carries equal responsibility.)
  • Bryan Elsley, the creator of Skins, was once the favored writer among the Skins fandom. Lately, though, he has seen his star fall as a result of the utter failure of the American adaptation of Skins, which he helmed. (In addition to losing most of its advertisers thanks to Moral Guardians, the show had low ratings and was slammed by critics.) He particularly upset LGBT viewers, a group he had won over in large numbers with his treatment of the Naomi/Emily pairing in the British version, by playing the Bait and Switch Lesbians game with Tea in the US version. By contrast, Jamie Brittain, who used to be disliked due to his love of Shocking Swerves, has done a fairly good job with the new generation on the British show and has seen his popularity increase as a result. With Brittain's departure from the British version and Elsley's return to it with the US remake's cancellation, this has only increased as the sixth UK series has Jumped the Shark in the eyes of most fans, largely due to Brittain's and Elsley's competing visions for the Generation 3 characters.
  • Bill Cosby was one of the most beloved and respected comedians of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. A successful stand up comedian, he was beloved by children and adults alike for Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Picture Pages, and his family-friendly style. In the 80's and early 90's, The Cosby Show (where he played obstetrician Dr. Cliff Huxtable) was one of the most popular and successful sitcoms ever, and helped catapult his fame to new heights. However, in 2005, a former protege of his accused him of drugging her and raping her, with 13 other women coming forward with similar stories. Cosby settled out of court, but the whole thing was revived in 2014 as two dozen more women came forward telling of how Cosby sexually assaulted them and/or drugged them for the purposes of rape. NBC immediately cancelled plans for another sitcom starring Cosby, Netflix cancelled a stand-up special they were promoting, and TV Land pulled all reruns of The Cosby Show from their lineup. As the number of women coming forward increased and it became painfully clear that throughout his entire 50-year career he was committing acts of rape/sexual assault behind the scenes, the public's disgust with him also increased. With the release of a deposition in which Cosby admitted that he gave women drugs for the purposes of sex, those who'd been giving him the benefit of a doubt have mostly turned on him. And then even more horror stories emerged. Cosby's once wholesome image is now damaged pretty much beyond repair, as the general public has realized that the entire time they knew him he was secretly one of the worst serial rapists to ever walk the face of the earth, who used his fame and power and influence to keep everyone involved quiet about his horrible actions for over forty years.


  • Michael Jackson was big in the 1970s, successfully building a solo career from his initial success with the Jackson 5/Jacksons, and then became huge with 1982's Thriller, especially when the three music videos derived from it refined and defined many tropes of the format. He was the biggest celebrity in the world for the remainder of the 1980s, and his next two solo albums were big hits as were most of his side projects; even his Pepsi commercials were events. He had a reputation for eccentricity, plastic surgery, and ego, but also for delivering great entertainment. Then in 1993, he was accused of child molestation and settled out of court. Nothing was the same for him after this, in part because he had cultivated an image as a friend to children -- he became "freakish" rather than "eccentric" (not helped by his increasingly Uncanny Valley appearance). The resultant Creator Breakdown resulted in 1995's HIStory, which let many critics and listeners down in the wake of its massive hype. Jackson didn't release another album of all-original work (Invincible) until 2001, and he was so unhappy with its sales (which weren't bad, but not close to his old numbers) that he accused his label of racially-motivated sabotage in its promotion. It Got Worse with a second round of child molestation charges resulting in a trial over 2003-05; he was found not guilty. Nothing of artistic note followed until he announced a series of London farewell concerts over 2009-10. These might have returned him to glory, but he died of an overdose of medication in June 2009 before a single show was performed. The upshot was that suddenly there were "King of Pop" tributes everywhere, with nary a critical word spoken. From The Onion's point of view, death was the only normal thing to happen to a star whose abusive childhood paved the way for a deeply disturbed adulthood.
  • As a teenage idol, Britney Spears used to be known for her sexy schoolgirl look and sexier music that led her to international superstardom. As an adult, her musical success has been eclipsed by the breakdown of her mental health and personal life (04-08). Most notable were her surprise late-night Vegas marriage to a childhood friend, the subsequent annulment 56 hours later, her equally sudden marriage to one of her stage dancers, her even more sudden decision to divorce said second husband, several failed trips through rehab, shaving her head and attacking nearby paparazzi with her umbrella, losing custody of her children over her behavior and her rumored drug abuse, an MTV Video Music Awards performance in which she appeared terrified, supposedly out of shape, and unable to perform, and eventually being legally declared a conservatee of the state and placed under the care of her father and her attorney. Yet despite all this, her albums can still sell well. She has since made a successful Career Resurrection. Top selling tours, number one singles, outrageous first day plays, critical acclaim. Just to name a few. (2008-2011+)
  • MC Hammer was once the biggest rap star on earth ("Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em" went 11x platinum and was at the top of the charts for 21 weeks), but after going bankrupt he fell harder than Michael Jackson ever did.
    • Couldn't the same thing also been said for Vanilla Ice as well?
  • Not many people like Axl Rose anymore after he split up Guns N' Roses, trying to replace them with hired musicians, and building up massive hype for Chinese Democracy - which proved to be unremarkable given the amount of time it spent in Development Hell.
  • AFI is a case of this to some. They started out as nothing remarkable - an ultra-fast hardcore punk revivalist band with a funny sounding singer and a weird sense of humour. Over time, they incorporated more horror punk style with a big Gothic lyrical streak, but still playing fast and loud. This is commonly considered to be when they became something great and original. They then released "Sing The Sorrow", which was actually well-received by fans, but was also slower and more pop-oriented. It was also a commercial hit. After that, "Decemberunderground" was more new wave, with the exception of several songs that demonstrated that AFI was now incapable of writing a good loud fast song. Then they followed that up with a terminally boring "Crash Love".
  • Roger Waters of Pink Floyd became this after The Wall, and especially during The Final Cut, when he wrote all of the songs for that album, and the recording sessions for the album were so fraught with tension that David Gilmour requested to have his name removed from the producer's credits. Waters would quit the band in 1985, calling it "a spent force", and tried to sue his former bandmates to prevent them from using the Pink Floyd name, but he lost, though he did retain exclusive rights to The Wall, save for three songs that were co-written with Gilmour. Despite this image damage and solo albums that made a fraction of the impact of the Gilmour-led Floyd, in the 21st century Waters found success again, with Pink Floyd's reunion concert, solo tours inspired by The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, and the debut of Ça Ira, an opera written by him (!).
  • The Spice Girls were top of the pops after the success of their debut single "Wannabe" in 1996: critical success, shedloads of awards, two platinum-selling albums, a sell-out tour and a movie that was a hit at the box office, as well as advertising deals for everything from cameras to lollipops. Then in 1998 Geri Halliwell left the group citing "differences" with the other girls. This fuelled tabloid speculation and led to backlash against the surviving band members (encouraged by similar rumours the previous year when they had fired their manager.) Her departure threw a spanner in the works of their recording and tour plans, forcing them to take a hiatus. Two of the "girls" got pregnant and wanted time off, Victoria became better known for her relationship with David Beckham than as a performer and Melanie C, claimed by some of the more cynical to be the only talented member of the group, became desperate to work as a solo artist. Their next album was a flop and they faded into the distance, although an official split was never announced. In 2007-2008 they had a successful reunion tour, but their new music was again poorly received. Victoria and Mel B, in particular, have begun to get bad reactions for events in their personal lives.
  • Metallica pioneered the sound of Heavy Metal in America, selling out concerts without radio airplay and generally known for their rebel personas (who had special sections in their concerts for bootleggers to come and record the shows). Then they released Metallica (what we all call "the Black Album"). Not a bad album, but it made some of their old fans disappointed. Produced by Bob (Motley Crue) Rock, it lacked their traditional complex song structures and depth, and sounded like Metallica-lite. Then they went and dropped Load (no pun intended) on their fans in 1996, which sounded like some of the heavy grunge bands that had been popular for a couple of years by that point, only a bad version of grunge. Of course the guys in Metallica claimed that they weren't listening to any of that type of music and the album reflected their personal tastes. To make matters worse, bands like Pantera were playing Metallica's original style better than Metallica was. Not long after that, during the days of Napster, the rebels revealed their Digital Piracy Is Evil crusade, finally alienating most of their original fans.
    • It Got Worse. They followed up Load with a little album called St. Anger in 2003, an album widely considered So Bad It's Horrible, and one that even the band doesn't care much for. But then came Death Magnetic, widely considered a return to form - despite the Unpleasable Fanbase not being fully satisfied, and a nasty case of the squish.
    • It Got Worse again: Death Magnetic was followed by Lulu, a joint project with Lou Reed consisting of off-the-wall 'avant guarde' rock and noise. If the idea sounds nutty to you, you're not alone. Critical opinion ranged from underwhelming to horrified, with Pitchfork Media giving a rare 1/10 rating, and the fans were far less kind. Lou Reed said in an interview he made the album for fun and not to appeal to anyone, while Lars Ulrich compared the change in style to the band's acoustic turns on the critically acclaimed Ride The Lightning, suggesting that listeners would grow to like it.
  • A literal example: Matthew Good. After breaking out on Underdogs, his band (the Matthew Good Band) was selling out shows across Canada. Their website was one of the pioneers in bands interacting with fans directly, as well as marking Good as a wacky-as-fuck singer with his "manifestos." Their third album, Beautiful Midnight, raised them to superstar status in 1999. Then, things began to fall apart rapidly, at first with Beautiful Midnight's heavily-delayed release in the States (partly due to actual label demands, mostly due to Good's Jerkass antics) to 2001. Then came The Audio of Being, released the same year which broke apart the band (disbanding shortly after release). Good recovered slightly, getting married the following year. However, his first solo effort, Avalanche, released just before the Iraq War was to begin, was too political for its own good (though sounded incredibly great). He became more politically agitated online as well, losing fans due to his preaching against the American military-industrial complex. The follow-up album, White Light Rock and Roll Review in 2004, was a mediocre album at best, an inconsistent blather with odd dabblings of country at worst. Then, after a greatest-hits release in 2005, several things happened to him, all almost at once: his wife divorced him (after cheating on him), he developed an addiction to painkillers, and he gets diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He still manages to write an album while in the psych ward, at his absolute lowest. The result, Hospital Music, seemed like something only a woobie could write and record. He has recovered since though, in part due to the album's success and an unlikely successful American tour. This recovery was cemented with Vancouver (the album, not the city) in 2009 which, despite being angrier, was more interested in social justice than American politics, and sounded much more consistent, and a return to form from the MGB days.
  • It's hard to believe now, but when The Knack debuted with Get The Knack in 1979, some people seriously called them "The New Beatles," partially because Capitol Records encouraged this idea with its Meet The Beatles-like packaging of the group. The hype was somewhat justified, as the album was pretty good power-pop. But they followed Get The Knack up with ...But The Little Girls Understand, perhaps the worst second album in rock history. After one more flop album, the band broke up and is now known to most people only as the band that did "My Sharona."
  • Sepultura, who once made brilliant albums like Beneath The Remains have gone a long way from that and devloped a Broken Base with their most recent material.
  • Anthrax enjoyed massive success in their early years, becoming one of the "Big Four" 1980s thrash metal bands alongside Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer. Their chunky, mosh-oriented riffs, quirky sense of humor, and two excellent vocalists in the form of Neil Turbin on their first album and the famous Joey Belladonna on their next three, have made their earlier material undisputed metal classics. But then grunge got big, Belladonna was fired in favor of the terminally bland John Bush, and Anthrax quit making thrash in favor of tepid '90s wannabe grunge. Fans deserted them in droves. In 2005 Joey Belladonna rejoined the band, Anthrax went on a dynamite world tour, and the fire seemed to be lit again, but relations fell apart in 2007 and Belladonna left. Anthrax went back to their forgettable '90s selves. Belladonna has recently come back to Anthrax and the band have announced a new album. Time will tell if they can make a comeback on the same level as the excellent new albums from Megadeth and Overkill.
  • Christina Aguilera is headed in this direction after a bad 2010 -- Bionic undersold, Burlesque hasn't yet broke even and she's been plagued by divorce and cheating rumours. General disinterest from the public (due in part to the rise of Lady Gaga) and long delays in releasing her albums clearly took a toll, and flubbing the lyrics of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the 2011 Super Bowl just make matters worse.
    • However, she seems to be making somewhat of a comeback with The Voice.
  • Lauryn Hill was already an established act with the hip-hop group the Fugees when she released her commercially and critically successful solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (which won five Grammys including Album of the Year). However, about a year or two later, Hill had pretty much disappeared from the public eye. This was due in part to her displeasure with fame and the music industry. Hill briefly resurfaced with an "unpluggged" live album and a short-lived reunion with the Fugees (which in itself, ended badly due in large part to Hill's chronic tardiness and diva behavior). Also, by this time, Hill was in the news more for her controversial criticism of the Vatican (in reference to the molestation of boys by Catholic priests) than her music.
  • Limp Bizkit used to be one of the biggest bands in the entire world (really). The album Results May Vary, however, is regarded to have killed not just their career but the entire Nu Metal genre. Wes Borland, regarded as the band's most talented member, left after Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water was released. He was replaced with former Snot guitarist Mike Smith, and the band spent the next three years trying to release a new album. When Results May Vary was finally released, not only was it critically panned, but it received the third-lowest composite score in Metacritic history.
    • Results May Vary seems to be a case of Critical Dissonance, it actually did mange to go platinum and fans seemed to like the album a lot more then critics did. And they're now experiencing a Career Resurrection, as Gold Cobra was by far their most critically acclaimed work.
  • The four members of The Beatles arguably didn't fall as far as some of the others on this list, but common consensus is that they never really hit the same heights in their solo careers as that they did in a group. It's generally argued that John Lennon and Paul McCartney particularly benefited from the other's strengths offsetting their respective weaknesses. After several years of solo releases of mixed critical and commercial success Lennon eventually retreated from the limelight for five years while McCartney's work -- although often commercially successful -- was generally dismissed by the critics. Of the other two, George Harrison had the most successful post-Beatles solo album (All Things Must Pass) -- unfortunately, that was his first solo album, and he never really recovered the critical and commercial success in his later albums. And to be generous to Ringo Starr, great things were never really expected of him compared to the other three, so while he had his successes he was never really in the same league.
  • Milli Vanilli's debut album went sextuple platinum in the US alone. Then it was discovered that the two guys fronting it never actually sang anything and were lip-synching at live performances. This blew up in their faces and things quickly went downhill from there.
  • Many of the Chinese pop stars who made it big in the 1990s have fallen into obscurity or disgrace thanks to a combination of drug abuse, suicide, criminal activity, and failure to consistently produce hits.
  • Billy Squier was one of the biggest Hard Rock stars of the early 1980s, selling himself on a "tough guy" persona. The video for "Rock Me Tonite," a So Bad It's Good video featuring Squier dancing in a pink tank top, completely destroyed this image and caused a major blow to his career. He would still have moderate success throughout the rest of the decade, but even he admits that the video killed any chances of being as big as, say, Queen.
  • Nelly was once one of the most popular rap stars in the world, with his first three albums going platinum (the third one, a double album, sold six million units) and giving rise to the St. Louis rap movement. Then, his fourth album went through constant delays and had a chaotic production with several producers having different ideas on how to do it. After finally being released to weak reviews and sales, his star largely derailed with only his hometown fanbase sticking to him. A 2011 attempt at a comeback hasn't fared much better despite slightly better sales.
    • You can argue that the infamous "Tip Drill" video set things in motion for Nelly's supposed "Fallen Creator" status. It at the very least, alienated a good portion of Nelly's female fanbase.
  • Coolio was one of the most successful rappers in the 1990s (especially in 1995), with hits like "Fantastic Voyage" and especially, "Gangsta's Paradise", which reach to number one on the mainstream charts and earned Coolio a Grammy. Coolio even popped up on Nickelodeon to provide the theme song to Kenan and Kel. Arguably, the start of Coolio's "fall" was his feud with "Weird Al" Yankovic over Al's spoof song of "Gangsta's Paradise" called "Amish Paradise". However, what really did Coolio in was when his album My Soul fell just short of the top 50 on the Billboard charts (which caused his record label to drop him). It didn't help that Coolio didn't release another album for about another five years.
  • Though it can be stretch to completely call him "fallen", Elton John somewhat fits this trope, too. Elton recieved great critical acclaim for early works such as Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across The Water and Honky Chateau. The next few years, despite some Critical Dissonance, gained him a Beatles-like popularity with albums such as Don't Shoot Me (I'm Only The Piano Player) and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. His singles were all over the radio, he sold out countless concerts (where he demonstrated a flamboyant showmanship (and use of colorful costumes and glasses). He was even something of a Teen Idol. He hobnobbed with Ringo Starr, John Lennon and Billie Jean King, and in 1975 recieved a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. His downfall came in 1976, when an exhausted Elton revealed his bisexuality in a Rolling Stone magazine interview, which cost him many fans in Middle America. After he announced his (short-lived) retirement from the road in 1977, and separated from his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin a year later (Taupin would return full-time in 1983), sales dwindled, and apart from various comebacks in the next few decades, his career hasn't seen either the same critical acclaim or commercial success as he had in his peak until 2011, when the duets album The Union with Leon Russell gave Elton his best reviews and album sales in 35 years, and putting him in the direction of a full fledged Career Resurrection.
  • Jermaine Dupri was one of the most notable record producers in the R&B world, helping launch the careers of Usher and Jay-Z while also producing many notable albums in the late 1990's and early 2000's and helping Mariah Carey have a Career Resurrection. However since 2008 he's been relatively silent with his status having dropped severely since his golden days, with the likely culprit being the Troubled Production of fellow fallen creator Nelly's Brass Knuckles (in which all but one of his songs was thrown out before release). The one song also barely charted.
  • Gary Glitter. It goes without saying that if you want to maintain your career as a game-changer in the field of rock n' roll, then don't commit a severe sexual offence. From The Seventies to the early '90s, Glitter had spent a combined three and a half years on the chart and was one of the most influential names in rock music. Then, a search of his computer by a PC World repairman turned up thousands of pictures of child pornography. Understandably, he was mauled by the media, saw his music used less commonly at sporting events [2] and his appearances cut out of films, and was pretty much rejected by the British public. This is prominently reflected in the events surrounding On, his last album, less than three years after his conviction. It generated controversy simply by existing--the British Phonographic Industry had to release a statement claiming that it Glitter was allowed to make it. He had to sell it himself, as no distributors would issue it, or anything else of his. It sold 5,000 copies worldwide before going out of print.
  • Rock & roll pioneer Chuck Berry enjoyed one last top 40 hit with 1972's "My Ding-a-Ling". However, Berry perhaps didn't help himself by shortly thereafter, stopping recording and strictly doing the oldies circuit (with a different backing band each night because he didn't want to hire anyone full time and figured everyone knew his songs). Ironically, Peter Tosh's cover of "Johnny B. Good" stormed the charts in 1983, two years prior to the smash success of Back to The Future. Unfortunately, since this time, Berry himself, received negative publicity for being caught filming women using the toilets in his St. Louis eatery.
  • After dropping three consecutive Platinum albums from 1996-1998 and then two more that went Gold, Master P pretty much dropped off the radar. An attempt to rebrand his No Limit record company didn't do much to bring Master P back to relevance. Arguably, Master P's involvement with World Championship Wrestling and the rise of the more polished Cash Money label put a damper on his sales.

Newspaper Comics

  • Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, after a screed he posted against the "men's rights" movement in 3/11 went viral, in which he essentially said that he agreed with them on every point, but they should "man up" and stop complaining, because women get special treatment for the same reason as the mentally disabled. It didn't help him when he deleted it, or when he was exposed for defending himself with sock puppets, and it really didn't help when he posted an article a few months later saying that a number of "men behaving badly" stories in the news was due to society suppressing male nature - including the rape allegations against Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Julian Assange. He fairly clearly condemns rape, but the juxtaposition was enough for some, as well as his assertion that female urges were "encouraged."
  • DC Simpson, creator of Ozy and Millie. Quite a few things have contributed to this. Ozy and Millie was nearly mainstream, and received some notable press for a webcomic. Things got shaky with her fans beginning with Raine Dog, which was heavily criticized for its heavy-handed political content, with the blue dog standing in for "Blue State" Democrats at one point. Then It Got Weirder with a page depicting Raine making out with a young boy, which caused far too many Unfortunate Implications for fans to get behind it. As the result of one message board's negative response to her comic, Simpson disowned the board. Not much has happened in regard to Simpson after her Vaporware attempt at a syndicated comic, Girl, which was better received than Raine Dog, but still heavily criticized due to the fact that many of the jokes were recycled from Ozy and Millie, and fans opined that the recycled gags were far funnier in the context of Ozy and Millie and made less sense in the context of Girl (specifically, that the new strip had no context for the jokes, being that it was intended for syndication).

Professional Wrestling

  • Hulk Hogan was once the single most dominant personality in the whole of Professional Wrestling, and one of the most financially successful. His All-American Face role model status was permanently tarnished in The Nineties by a steroid scandal and his clumsy attempts at outright denial. His attempts to play Superman to the more traditional, heel-oriented WCW audience pegged him as a Creator's Pet until a well-timed Face Heel Turn. His post-WCW appearances have typically led to one strong nostalgia-based TV or PPV number, and disappointing returns afterwards (and his non-WWE appearances didn't even have that one strong number). His attempts at branching out into acting went nowhere. Then the personal issues came: his son Nick was involved in a high-profile street racing accident, with a passenger in a vegetative state, Hogan himself was caught on tape claiming it was all a God-given punishment to the passenger, which the TMZ crowd did not like one bit; and a nasty divorce followed, with both sides airing their dirty laundry in public. Hogan's recent attempts at a comeback with rival TNA haven't generated any significant interest, and an attempt at a revival of the Monday Night Wars almost cost them their TV slot. The divorce and the legal settlement from the car wreck have left him with a negative net worth, and the damage done to his back by years of bumping, heavy weightlifting, and steroid abuse have more or less finished him as an active wrestler. His later attempts at staying relevant included protein powder multi-level-marketing schemes, making an ass of himself on Twitter on a regular basis, and lending his name to a midget wrestling TV show.
  • * Nostalgia brought Hulk Hogan back in 2012-2013, where he appeared in WWE as an 'ambassador' for the company, and hosted Wrestlemania 30. From then on, he would appear every now and then on WWE TV in various non-wrestling roles. Unfortunately for Hogan, things turned back around on July 24th, 2015, when he was abruptly fired by WWE and all mention of him in WWE history was removed from This was due to audio from a sex tape in which he was recorded not only sleeping with the wife of former friend Bubba the Love Sponge, but saying racially insensitive things about how he was uncomfortable with his daughter dating a black person unless the black person was rich. It didn't help that the 'N-Word' was thrown around a few times. Hogan had to make a public apology for his remarks, while the WWE tried its best to pretend that they never knew him.
  • Ric Flair is like the "only less so" version of Hogan. His reputation as one of the best wrestlers in the business by and large kept the disintegration of his family out of the public eye (in particular, his then-wife accused him of abusing steroids, hitting her, and exposing himself to other women; the latter has been a backstage trademark of his for some years if other accounts are to be believed), as did his position as a dignified WWE elder statesman. After being given an incredible send-off in 2008 for a retirement match against Shawn Michaels, Flair ultimately had to sever his WWE contract in order to make enough money on outside projects to cover his back taxes (he's had IRS issues going back to the '70s) and his alimony. He was a partner-in-crime on Hogan's failed Australia tour, and ended up following him to TNA, with little or no impact on ratings, buyrates, or house show attendance. His return from retirement has acquired him a significant Hatedom in the wrestling fandom, since his retirement show was so emotional. This article shows how far he's fallen money-wise. The absolute low point was a money dispute with (over him putting up a NWA title belt as collateral for a loan without mentioning there was a lien on it for another outstanding debt) that threatened to land him in jail.
  • In 1998, Vince Russo was one of the best bookers and storyline writers in the Wrestling Industry. After co-masterminding the Attitude Era with Vince McMahon and with input from several other writers, Russo was an important part of a creative team that snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the Monday Night Wars. Unfortunately, when his contract expired in 1999, Russo jumped ship to WCW, where he almost single-handedly killed the entire company. According to The Death of WCW, during the time Russo worked for the WWF he would bounce ideas off of McMahon, who would decide whether or not to use them. In WCW, he was given free reign to do whatever he wanted, which didn't work out. With Russo's ridiculous storylines used in a company that was famous for being very traditional when it came to wrestling, the massive mismanagement of money by Eric Bischoff, and older stars like Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Steiner outright refusing to put over new talent, Russo's arrival, which was supposed to herald WCW's return to form, instead set about pounding in the final nail in WCW's coffin. Being part of the writing/booking team at TNA until October 2011, it appears that Russo has yet to learn his lesson.
  • Verne Gagne was a ten time World Champion and his American Wresting Association (AWA) promotion was at the very least, one of the "Big Three" promotions from the 1960s-first half of the 1980s (alongside the National Wrestling Alliance and World Wrestling Federation). The Minneapolis based AWA was one of the most successful and expansive single territories in the country. More to the point, the AWA at it's peak, featured a virtual "who's who" of wrestling. One of these notables was Hulk Hogan, who went to the AWA after ending his heel run in New York and becoming a successful superstar in New Japan Pro Wrestling. As Vince McMahon, Jr. was expanding the WWF and raiding the AWA's talent (including Hulk Hogan, who immediately became "The Chosen One"), Gagne stubbornly refused to change with the times (i.e. adapt to a more "sports-entertainment" type promotion). Gagne seemed to think that what worked in the '70s could still work in the '80s. By late 1987, the AWA was running on fumes (even though they landed a national cable TV deal with ESPN, they were still losing talent left and right to the WWF, including then World Champion, Curt Hennig) and had to align themselves with World Class out of Dallas and the CWA out of Memphis. This culminated with the AWA's first and only stab at pay-per-view called Super Clash III. Gagne burned his bridges with the other promotions when it was revealed that the wrestlers were literally, working for free. Jerry Lawler refused to defend the AWA World Title until he got the payout from Super Clash III. Instead, Lawler was "stripped" of the belt and the next champion was Gagne's real life son-in-law Larry Zbyszko. With the AWA sinking further and further in irrelevancy, they threw a Hail-Mary called the "Team Challenge Series", which backfired (and is generally regarded as one of the most embarrassing, poorly executed and desperate angles in wrestling history). Not too surprisingly, the AWA was forced to shut down by the end of 1990. It got even worse for Verne Gagne however. In 2009, Gagne, who by this time in his life, had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease, accidentally killed a 97 year old man in memory-loss section of a Bloomington, Minnesota health care facility. Meanwhile, Verne's granddaughter Gail (Greg's daughter) had a warrant issued for her arrest for criminal sexual conduct with a then 16 year-old St. Paul, MN high school student when she was a teacher there.
    • Here's a great blog chronicling the sad decline of the AWA.
  • Chris Benoit overnight, went from being one of the most respected and revered wrestlers of the modern era to a non-person due to his involvement in Pater Familicide.
  • Scott Hall: He gained mainstream success as Razor Ramon in the WWF, and in WCW, as one of The Outsiders (alongside Kevin Nash) as members of the New World Order. And then his personal issues reared its ugly head (his struggles with alcoholism being the most prominent). These still affect him to this day.
    • Before Scott Hall, there was Jake "The Snake" Roberts, who became more known for his struggles with drugs and alcoholism (climaxing in Jake's appearance in the 1999 documentary Beyond the Mat) then his wrestling accomplishments.
  • The Ultimate Warrior: The fact that WWE went as far as to produce a DVD (called The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior) that totally buried one of their biggest stars of the late '80s-early '90s is enough evidence.
    • Most of the things the DVD makes fun of are actually the things that made the Warrior stand out and become a star in the first place. Warrior's Fallen Creator status more than likely comes from his repeated entrances and exits over the years, his general batshit-craziness, and his homophobic comments in recent years.
  • Vince McMahon and the WWE in general would be a highly contentious example. Attempts to branch out into other forms of entertainment have continuously failed over the years, to where announcements of a new "media venture" of any kind are enough to make the stockholders start banging their heads against the wall. Despite strong international growth, there's a feeling among wrestling reporters and even in the company itself that the product isn't connecting with the American viewerbase (outside of children, explaining much about the hated "TV-PG" push), with domestic PPV buys at their lowest since the early '90s. Of the scores of performer deaths between the product's first expansion in 1984 and today, many of them have been shown to be related to the use of performance enhancing drugs; WWE's "Wellness Policy" has no credibility with the public and doesn't explain why that many people in a fake sport feel driven to use the drugs in the first place (or why the company's 66-year-old CEO, who is a featured performer and isn't tested, has a physique putting most 30-year-olds to shame). The only reason the company managed to avoid the Congressional bitch-slapping that MLB got is that even elected officials don't take wrestling seriously.
  • During the 1980s, "Cowboy" Bill Watts headed up Mid-South Wrestling (later the Universal Wrestling Federation or UWF). Watts' promotion (which regularly sold out the New Orleans Superdome and was renowed for its well booked and entertaining storylines) gave wrestlers such as the Junkyard Dog, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, and Ted Dibiase their first taste of national exposure. Unfortunately, things went sour for Mid-South when the once lucrative oil market collasped. After selling out to Jim Crockett Promotions (the forerunner to World Championship Wrestling) around 1987, Watts took a lengthy hiatus from the industry. Watts would reemerge in 1992 to take over as the Executive Vice President of WCW. However, it became quite apparent how out of touch Watts became. He banned off the top rope moves (which in essence, killed the cruiserweight division), cut the wrestlers' pay, banned catering and wives and families backstage at live events, removed the protective padding at ringside (thus, making for a more hazardous working enviroment), and forced the wrestlers to stay at the events from start to finish regardless. Despite rumors and allegations throughout the years of him being racist, Watts booked African American Ron Simmons to become World Heavyweight Champion. Unfortunately, Simmons didn't exactly set the world on fire during his championship run (mostly due to Simmons lacking in the charisma department and being booked in matches against life-long midcarders like the Barbarian). Worst of all, Watts in his position of power (just like Verne Gagne did with his son Greg), had his son Eric be pushed to the moon despite being incredibly green (or unprepared/not fully trained) and bland. Ratings and attendance fell into the toilet. The final straw for Watts was an interview he did for the Pro Wrestling Torch (ironically, before he was even hired), in which he went off on a libertarian rant, defending the actions of Lester Maddox (a Southern restaurant owner who closed his establishment rather than sell food to blacks), defended slavery as the best thing that ever happened to the black race (in the sense of them being transported to North America, where their descendants could live better than in Africa), and made liberal use of the word "fag". This obviously, didn't sit too well with the folks over at Turner Broadcasting (among them, baseball legend Hank Aaron) and Watts quit before he could be fired.
  • By the later half of the 1980s, Jim Crockett Promotions (the Charlotte, North Carolina based faction of the National Wrestling Alliance or NWA) was undoubtably at the very least, the number two biggest wresting promotion in America behind the WWF. In 1985, JCP landed the coveted Saturday evening spot on TBS (ironically, replacing the WWF). Unlike the more cartoonish, kid-friendly WWF product under Vince McMahon, Jim Crockett Promotions was the more "PG-13" product that was more grounded in athleticism rather than one-sided squash matches from the former. Attempting to keep up with Vince McMahon, Jim Crockett made several key mistakes. Crockett burned out his main booker, Dusty Rhodes, who kept the same talent on top for far too long, protecting them with non-decisive "Dusty Finishes" (in which the babyface is initially thought to have won the match only to have it reversed at the last minute), he flew himself and his superstars across the country in private jets, he booked Starrcade '87 (JCP's version of Wrestlemania) and the 1988 Bunkhouse Stampede in areas which had no real history with his product (Chicago and Long Island, New York respectively, where they inevitably bombed at the gate), and he had the company make an expensive move to Dallas, Texas (feeling that the company would have been better represented in a Top Ten media market). The 1987 purchase of the Bill Watts-led UWF led to a very large cash outflow, as the UWF's television outlets were essentially paid programming. His attempts to expand his business into pay-per-view were troubled by the stale television product and counter-programming from the WWF (the first Survivor Series and the first Royal Rumble aired directly against Crockett shows; Crockett struck back with the first ever Clash of the Champions airing on TBS against Wrestlemania IV, but the cable companies put a stop to it happening even further). By the start of 1988, the traditional Carolinas markets were weak, markets outside the Carolinas were effectively dead, and Crockett was taking out one and two million dollar loans every week in order to meet his expenses. Later in the year however, TBS founder, Ted Turner (who always had a fondness in his heart for wrestling, because it was really the first big TV show on his network dating back to the early '70s) purchased what would become World Championship Wrestling (which was the name of the Saturday night TBS program) for about $9 million. Crockett and Rhodes were very harshly judged by wrestlers and wrestling fans alike for a long time, although the more business-savvy ones are willing to point out that a small regional wrestling company wasn't going to survive the business changes in the early '90s either way.
  • Matt Hardy has been on a downward spiral since his release from the WWE in 2010. Originally, fans were sympathetic towards Matt, what with him formerly being released from the company after the blowout over his girlfriend Lita having an affair with Edge, and his younger brother Jeff (who himself is a Base Breaker with the IWC) consistently getting better pushes with the company. This changed however over the years. While both he and his brothers have had real life problems with drugs, Matt has done nothing to repair his reputation by becoming an Internet Tough Guy. His brief stint in TNA saw him suspended, and then fired for various DU Is. And then he faked a suicide note all so he could get more attention and boost his followers on twitter. Unfortunately for Matt, this very stunt may have effectively blacklisted him from both TNA and WWE.


  • Howard Stern: For years, favorite targets of Howard Stern's ridicule included the obscenely rich, extreme political activists, famous people coerced by their spouses into promoting their attempts at also being famous, those that remarried people much younger than them, other celebrities he perceived as lazy or undeserving of their fortune and fame, and entertainers that stayed in their chosen profession much longer than they should have. Now Howard is in his late 50s, has completed a 5-year 500 million dollar radio contract (only to be awarded another multi-year multi-hundred million dollar contract), and has a second wife (19 years his junior) who constantly promotes various silly animal charities and seems to be trying very hard to use Howard's fame to become a hostess, actress, or writer. Howard also seems less interested in the radio show and only works in the city of New York 3-4 days a week before running back to his home in the ritzy Hamptons in Long Island. Some of his fans are less than pleased with what he has become.


  • He was never a critical favorite, but in The Seventies and The Eighties most of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals were massive international hits -- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Starlight Express, and above all The Phantom of the Opera. Then Aspects of Love came along, and while it had a good run in London, it never caught on elsewhere. Sunset Boulevard was better received but too expensive to prove profitable. Whistle Down the Wind and The Beautiful Game were barely noticed outside of the U.K. while By Jeeves and The Woman in White both managed disappointing Broadway runs at the Turn of the Millennium. The 2004 movie version of Phantom managed to create a Broken Base for that show, and its stage sequel Love Never Dies resulted in further breaking, lasting less than two years in London and never making it to New York (though an Australian production has done well as of 2012). He still has success producing West End musical revivals hyped with the help of TV talent show competitions to find their leads.
  • Julie Taymor became famous for her innovative work on The Lion King musical, winning two Tonys for her stage direction and costume design. From there, she started off what seemed like a strong film career with the critically acclaimed Titus and Frida (the latter earning six Oscar nods and winning two of them) while maintaining a strong presence in the theatre world with her 2006 production of the opera Grendel. Then Across the Universe came out, to mixed reviews and weak box office, followed by her critically trashed film of The Tempest. Her theatre career likewise crashed and burned with Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, whose Troubled Production status became memetic.

Video Games

  • One of the more tragic examples -- Gunpei Yokoi was a creative genius at Nintendo that was making successes even before Shigeru Miyamoto became the public face of the company. On top of being the inventor of the D-pad that all gaming controllers use to this day, he created the Game & Watch series that broke Nintendo into home video games, and later replicated this with the Game Boy. Serving as a producer, he also oversaw the creation of Metroid, Kid Icarus, Fire Emblem, and Dr. Mario. Then he made the Virtual Boy. The high-profile disaster of a system was discontinued within a year, by which time he had become persona non grata at Nintendo. Nintendo was notoriously cruel to the poor guy, too. After the Virtual Boy debacle, they made him man the booth at a trade show, which in Japanese corporate culture is considered entry-level work, and thus a severe insult to someone of Yokoi's stature. He eventually resigned and began development on the Japan-only handheld system, the WonderSwan, which did go on to be a reasonable challenger to the Game Boy's domination in Japan. But sadly he didn't live to see it as he died suddenly in a traffic accident in 1997. After his death, Nintendo paid tribute to him and still recognize him to this day as an important figure in the company's history... and are kind enough to his departed soul to just forget the Virtual Boy ever happened.
    • It's worth pointing out that unlike most folks on this page, Yokoi was always held in high esteem by fans, even after he fell from favor with the Nintendo execs.
    • Also worth pointing out that Yokoi was forced to release the Virtual Boy in its current "prototype" stage by Nintendo, who were bent on releasing new hardware in between the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 to avoid a lull. So the responsibility for the failure of the Virtual Boy lands strictly on the hands of Nintendo, who were quite busy blaming Yokoi for the failure at the time.
  • Played straight as well as averted: Nintendo began a quick but decisive fall in popularity and sales as soon as the Virtual Boy released, then spilled into the Nintendo 64 after numerous poor design decisions which caused many developers (and even more consumers) to jump ship to the then-newcomer PlayStation. Nintendo's popularity only waned further in the GameCube era, although recently it has once again become the most profitable gaming company with the DS and Wii, largely due to their massive retooling of game design approach and marketing (which has also led to a BrokenBase ... which got quite a bit of repair in the span of one single day at E3 2010, as Nintendo began unveiling new AAA-franchise title after title. [Explained] by PennyArcade, also a CrowningMomentOfAwesome for them, but Not Safe For Work.)
    • As of mid-2011, however, the company is suffering a setback, mainly due to the (relatively) poor sales of the Nintendo 3DS, which suffers the lack of games, a poor online service, and a 3D effect not attracting customers like hoped; several games in development by third parties have been either delayed or cancelled (with Mega Man Legends 3 the most infamous example). This has led to the decision of slashing the price by a third just four months after the launch (which happened, unfortunately for Nintendo, merely a couple of weeks after the catastrophic tsunami in Japan), selling the system at a loss. Also rumors of a future hardware revision that would add a second analog stick and tone down or outright remove the 3D effect (which would also lead to a re-branding of the system) were obviously not well received. There's also the question of the Wii having few new major releases coming before the Wii U, and the discontent of the players for Nintendo's refusal (or, at least, current indecision) of translating some very anticipated games. It may be only temporary but the fact the heads of the company decided to cut their own salaries says a lot.
  • John Romero was a revolutionary. He helped design the ultraviolent masterpiece Doom, and earned such respect there is a whole genre based on the Trope Codifier: First Person Shooters. But, when the sodomy-threatening publicity for Daikatana came along, and the game's release date was changed so much for what turned out to be a game so bad it is frequently described as one of the worst games ever, nothing has been the same. He lost his prestige, his company, his girlfriend, and even his hair.
    • Recently though, he fell on his sword, apologized for how bad Daikatana was and accepted the blame for both the ad campaign and his overblown ego.
  • American McGee began as a level designer of the first two Doom and Quake installments, and later gave us his own grim take on a certain Lewis Carroll classic and became an overnight superstar with even talks of movie deals for the property. Since then, he's never been anywhere near as popular, with his subsequent works being mostly ignored (Scrapland got a lukewarm reception from players and critics, and Bad Day L.A. was a pure trainwreck). American McGee's Grimm got a small amount of press and has done reasonably well on GameTap, but still has yet to achieve the critical or commercial success that Alice had, which might explain why he chose to create a sequel, Alice: Madness Returns, which has received reviews ranging from fairly positive to lukewarm, although it can hardly be credited as a full return to form.
  • In the '80s and through the mid-'90s, Lucas Arts became famous for their ground-breaking adventure games, starting several franchises including Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion, several one-offs such as Full Throttle, turning Sam and Max Freelance Police from an indie comic hit to a household name, and even making Indiana Jones games that were actually good. Sometime around the mid-90s, however, there was a management shift as Star Wars games finally started coming out through their studio. Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer along with many other key creative staff were either let go or had left themselves (Gilbert left in 1992), several big games flopped, numerous other games were canceled, and slowly but surely, LucasArts converted into a Star Wars factory... which wouldn't have been a problem since some of these games were still memorable, but these eventually slid in quality and sales as well, with only out-sourced projects like Knights of the Old Republic managing to sell. This also suffered from severe Executive Meddling (such as the obviously rushed sequel to KOTOR) and apparently numerous other secretive cancellations, including the long-awaited Knights of the Old Republic 3 that was never officially announced but had apparently started internal development (as shown in Rogue Leaders: The Story Of Lucas Arts). They had also continued to lay off more and more internal staff until they were down to just one remaining team. This team was promptly fired after The Force Unleashed went gold, finally leaving Lucas Arts as nothing but a licensing house.
  • Rare began as a small company that made various games, its first being Jetpac for the ZX Spectrum. Soon after, it produced a few more games for various consoles like Battletoads, various movie-licensed games (like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) and R.C. Pro-Am. Starting with Donkey Kong Country and Killer Instinct for the Super Nintendo, Rare had become a successful Nintendo developer at its peak in the Nintendo 64 era, creating GoldenEye, Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel Banjo-Tooie, Perfect Dark, Jet Force Gemini, Donkey Kong 64, and Conkers Bad Fur Day. Enter the Game Cube era, and Rare created Star Fox Adventures, which is considered the black sheep of the Star Fox series, if not completely without merit (To their defense, Adventures was the result of Nintendo doing some Executive Meddling on what was to be Dinosaur Planet at the time). In the middle of production of Star Fox Adventures, Microsoft acquired Rare, moving it from being a successful Nintendo developer into a poster child for Microsoft. As a Microsoft developer, Rare created for the X Box Grabbed by the Ghoulies, which is known as Rare's biggest flop, and a remake of Conker. It got a little better into the Xbox 360 era, with Kameo: Elements of Power (a game they'd started working on before their fall) and Viva Pinata, and revived Banjo-Kazooie with Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (albeit with mixed results, and fairly low sales), but not to their former glory.
    • And now they've rebranded themselves as a developer for Kinect games in the style of Wii Sports. This part and the new 'casual' oriented marketing has not gone down well.
    • Hell, even their old Spectrum days were made of this trope. Back then they were known as Ultimate Play The Game (initially Ashby Computer Graphics -- it was a weird thing), and their earlier works were all acknowledged as massive landmarks in gaming -- the aforementioned Jetpac, Atic Atac, Sabre Wulf (possibly the biggest selling game on the Speccy) and the seminal Knight Lore, which introduced isometric graphics (well, Ant Attack did isometric first, but Knight Lore was what everything subsequent ripped off) to the machine. Then came Filmation II. Nightshade and Gunfright were both pretty much toss, and the name was sold to U.S. Gold. Unfortunately. Martianoids and Bubbler were Ultimate games in name only, and the company soon dissappeared, until the team behind Ultimate rebranded themselves as Rare...
  • Speaking of GoldenEye, the team who did that left Rare shortly after it was done to start Free Radical Design. Their first title was Time Splitters, which was lauded for continuing what GoldenEye started, but was met with some critique, like the lack of story. Their follow-up was Timesplitters 2, which rectified all the problems of the first game and overall polished it. The game was a huge success and still to this day has a hardcore cult following. After that came the very underrated Second Sight. But their next title would be the third Timesplitters game. This one faced some problems, seeing as it was trying to be a bit more of a standard FPS similar to Halo, instead of the more classic GoldenEye feeling of 1 and 2, but was still a huge hit. Their next title would be Haze, a game that was bashed to hell by critics and led to Free Radical announcing bankruptcy in the end of 2009 and laying off most of their employees (by locking them out of the building with no prior announcement), but the core members became Crytek UK.
  • Another victim of this is Silicon Knights, who was coincidentally another former Nintendo dev[3]. The creators of the first Legacy of Kain game, the acclaimed Game Cube Survival Horror game Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem and well-done Metal Gear Solid remake The Twin Snakes, their next game, Too Human, languished in Development Hell. From jumping from three different consoles to an incredibly bloated budget($60 Million!) to a series of Frivolous Lawsuits between Epic Games, the finished product received mediocre reviews and rather bad sales, which pretty much put a damper on that trilogy they planned. They have rarely made anything since then, with their latest game X Men Destiny being quite a stinker. Most would, however, like a return to the world of Eternal Darkness, with the release of the Wii U on the horizon, and the fact they don't have the same problem as Rare. They may be able to Win Back the Crowd...
  • Someone felt a need to remind you of a sad story of Shiny Entertainment, who went from - among things - the first two Earthworm Jim games, the MDK series, Sacrifice to movie tie-ins of The Matrix and The Golden Compass. Their final fate was to be merged with The Collective (which did only licensed games up to that point) into Double Helix Games, whose Silent Hill Homecoming and Front Mission Evolved are generally considered decent but not great (they did spawn a stinker in the form of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra inbewteen these two though, so it's kinda safe to say that they have yet to fully recover).
  • Ditto for Interplay, Shiny's publisher up to Sacrifice. Back then, they owned a good number of successful franchises including said Shiny games, Fallout, Descent, Baldur's Gate among a buncha other things. Then in the 2000's, they mucked up with Fallout (see They Just Didn't Care for more details). The end result? Interplay went bankrupt, and only managed to save its ass by selling the Fallout franchise to Bethesda Softworks. Nowadays, they are only putting up games on the Virtual Console, and not much is heard of their planned sequel games.
    • Interplay's descent into the shit began when they became publicly traded in 1998 and reported losses after the release of Descent 3 and Free Space 2. Then a different company managed to buy a majority share of Interplay's stock in 2001. That company was Titus Software, headed by a pair of French hacks by the names of Eric and Herve Caen. Brian Fargo then left Interplay to the wolves. After the acquisition Titus as a company went belly up because of their over expansion and shut down in 2004 while racking up huge debts because of owed back pay and redundancy to wholly owned development studios. Herve Caen named himself the new CEO of Interplay but their sky high debts ensured that they had no resources to produce new games. Herve Caen is still CEO of Interplay and the court battle between Interplay and Bethesda over Fallout licensing and the lack of progress on the Fallout MMO Project V13 shows that Caen is still a talentless hack who can't produce results.
    • Free Space 2's lackluster commercial faring probably didn't do it any favors either [4], nor did the 2002 breakup of Volition and Interplay. The mediocre sales of the series arguably killed the space sim market built by the Wing Commander and X Wing series, which not even the Microsoft juggernaut could revive with Starlancer and Freelancer (produced by the company Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts created after leaving Origin, following WC4).
  • Titus Software itself used to be a good company in the late eighties and early nineties, with titles such as Crazy Cars 2 and the Prehistorik series. Then, it went downhill. Before the Interplay buyout above, happened the infamous Superman 64, and also the Porting Disasters of Prince of Persia 2 on the SNES and Carmageddon 64.
  • Sonic Team. Sonic the Hedgehog used to be a worldwide icon and the only real challenge to Mario's domination of platform games. The Sega Genesis entries in the series are still considered great games. Then Sonic went 3D. For most fans and critics, most of the 3D Sonic games have a bad camera, broken controls, and too many characters, and Sonic Team has lost its old glory to them. It started with the two Sonic Adventures, which were worthy additions to the series despite being plagued by fundamental problems. Sonic Heroes marked the teetering edge of the abyss, Shadow the Hedgehog was made on the way down, and Sonic 2006 was the echoing crash of the series finally hitting rock bottom. Since then, the franchise has been making significant progress at climbing back up, but it still struggles with the basics like camera controls, physics, glitches, and fair level design. It also doesn't help that Sonic Team can't seem to resist putting a weird gimmick into gameplay. [5] Sonic the Hedgehog 4, Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations have improved their reputation a bit by now, presenting creative and ambitious game ideas in the series' trademark rough and fractured frame.
    • That last line is a bit of an understatement. Colors won back a sizable portion of the disillusioned fanbase and Generations is doing pretty well for itself as well. There was also Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing; while a Mario Kart clone (well, more like Mario Kart meets OutRun), the racing gameplay was actually praised by many to be better than that of Mario Kart and the game was both a commercial and critical success. If Sega keeps on their current track, they'll be back to form very soon.
    • Sadly, Sonic Lost World seems to have sent them down to levels even further below the time of 06, thanks to a near-universally hateful reaction amongst fans, poor sales, and tepid reviews. Even worse, their prior games are Deader Than Disco within the fandom while 06 and Shadow were Vindicated by History.
  • Brad McQuaid, the original lead developer for Ever Quest. McQuaid got most of the credit for the initial success of Everquest 1. When his company, Verant Interactive, was absorbed by Sony, McQuaid was dropped. At this point, he had the implicit loyalty of Everquest fans. He began ostentatiously working on Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, with people waiting anxiously. The end result? A game so high-end that most computers couldn't handle it, almost no high-end content, and all the flaws of the old-school EQ with few of the good points. His name is now reviled by the same people who once exalted him. And just for kicks? Vanguard was also bought out by Sony.
  • Yoshio Sakamoto started his career in 1982 by co-directing Donkey Kong Jr., working on the cult classic Kid Icarus and finally directing the Original Metroid. But he is probably best known for codifying the Surprisingly Improved Sequel with Super Metroid, considered one of the best games ever made. He took a hiatus from console gaming, producing a few handheld Metroid games and some Wario games, generally well received but not as much so as SM. Then... he made Metroid Other M. Nintendo had the bright idea to give him complete freedom to do whatever he pleases, to the point of electing himself to sole story writer and editor and got TeamNinja(ironically responsible for the better aspects of the game) to do it, under his sole direction. The end result was... not very well received, to say the least. To this day, his name is pretty much synonymous to Metroid fans with George Lucas, and practically tarnished the reputation of the series to the public eye, probably for a long time.
  • Being still independent more than 20 years after its foundation is no small feat but Team 17, the studio that was one of the top Amiga developers in the 1990s, capable of trying with several genres, has since the early 2000s churned out just Worms games and a few Lemmings ports. Finally, in 2009, they released something different... unfortunately, it was the very aptly-titled Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust. Later the same year, they released the revival of their own Alien Breed but, while overall decent, it turned out pretty bland. Worms Reloaded, released in Summer 2010, fared much better. Then they decided to leave the retail market and concentrate on smaller productions for digital distribution. During 2011, they have released two more episodes of Alien Breed in the space of two months, two more Worms ports, several expansions packs for Worms Reloaded, an Updated Rerelease of the 3D episodes of Worms, and even a Worms golf game. Oh, and they are working on Worms Social" for Facebook. Unfortunately, they seem capable of just rehashing their old successes by now.
  • George Broussard was a pioneer of the shareware model of distribution with Scott Miller and their company Apogee (later 3D Realms); he saw his breakthrough in 1996 with Duke Nukem 3D, which was an incredible success. The he announced Duke Nukem Forever... and the rest is (sad) history. Given how he managed the whole fiasco, only the most ardent fans still believe in him.
    • It may not be his work anymore, but thanks to the efforts of Gearbox and Randy Pitchford, his dream is still alive. There may be a happy ending for Broussard yet.
    • But, alas, it was not to be - Duke Nukem Forever is currently hovering in the mid-40 percent range on GameRankings for the Xbox 360 and, most unfortunately, PC versions. The game is being derided as being several years too late, looking and playing dated. The script is also being called overly crude and even hypocritical - an early scene in the game has Duke turning down a suit of Halo-style power armour with derision, except he is now only able to carry two weapons and has a regenerating health bar... exactly like Halo.
  • Bill Roper was praised as the genius behind Diablo and Diablo 2. He quit Blizzard Entertainment due to what many suspected was a conflict about the direction of Diablo 3, taking most of the Diablo staff with him. He founded Flagship Studios and went to work on Hellgate London, a game that was expected to be so successful that things like separate executables for single player and multiplayer (to prevent hacking), a comic, a series of statues with a price tag approaching four figures and a whole separate free game (Mythos) created just to test the network infrastructure seemed appropriate. The actual game was rushed out the door after a very long development cycle and was a massive flop due to underdeveloped content and an insane amount of bugs. The company later went bankrupt.
    • He then went to work with Cryptic Studios, but the collaboration was amidst a period of serious difficulties for the developer and lasted less than two years. After a period of hiatus, it seems he's going to work with a branch of Disney Interactive that will deal with Marvel Comics' properties.
  • Core Design was a respected developer in the first half of the 1990s, especially on the Amiga (Bubba 'N' Stix, Banshee, Chuck Rock, Rick Dangerous, and more); they were also capable with the Sega CD (Soulstar, Thunderhawk). In 1996, they hit big with Tomb Raider and also produced Fighting Force and Project Eden in the following years. However, Tomb Raider had entered the new millennium already under Sequelitis, until the flop of Angel of Darkness. The series was handed over to Crystal Dynamics, the studio sold over to Rebellion (but without its brand); it was finally closed in late 2009 after their last game, the abysmal Rogue Warrior, making such demise akin to a mercy killing.
  • Video game writer Masato Kato had a hand in a number of beloved classics in the 90s, including the NES Ninja Gaiden trilogy (the series primarily responsible for popularizing cutscenes and story in action games), Chrono Trigger (one of the most beloved and highly acclaimed RPGs of all time), portions of Final Fantasy VII, Xenogears, and Chrono Trigger's controversial sequels, Radical Dreamers and Chrono Cross. General consensus is that his projects as of the last decade (including an MMORPG and several low-budget DS games) have been almost unilaterally underwhelming and forgettable.
  • Mythic Entertainment was once a force in the field of MMORPGs thanks to Dark Age of Camelot; it was even given back its name by Electronic Arts (who had renamed it EA Mythic upon purchase in 2006) prior to the release of their supposed next big thing and World of Warcraft-killer, Warhammer Online. Unfortunately, the good launch of the game couldn't cover its rushed release and, worse, new contents often added new problems while old ones were never fixed properly; many argue if there ever was a precise direction in the project from the start. The number of players quickly dropped, Mythic's CEO resigned, and the company has been reduced to a division of BioWare, with much of WO's staff diverted to The Old Republic. WO is still there, but only a few servers are still active, two or three Game Directors have been alternated in a few months, European servers and support have been completely shut down, and Realm VS Realm, which should be one if its strong points, has been reduced to just 24 players for every side due to bad engine performance. The company was put out of it's misery after the poorly received Dungeon Keeper mobile game
  • Hironobu Sakaguchi is universally known as the father of the Final Fantasy series. As either director or producer of the first ten games in the series, he had a long string of successes behind them...then in 2001, he directed Final Fantasy the Spirits Within. The film bombed horribly and cost Squaresoft over a hundred million dollars, bankrupted "Square Pictures", and sent the parent company into chaos. A couple years later Sakaguchi stepped down as executive vice-president of Square, and eventually founded his own gaming company, Mistwalker. While many expected great things from Mistwalker, in particular, a Final Fantasy killer, the company's initial two offerings were a pair of Xbox360 games: Blue Dragon, a Dragon Quest clone with moderate financial success and a tepid critical reaction, and Lost Odyssey, a traditional turn-based adventure met with slightly weaker sales and the general response of being either a wonderful homage to JRPGs of the past or "It's the Same, Now It Sucks". Their third offering, ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat bombed in Japan and failed to find a distributor overseas. Blue Dragon spawned a few portable sequels and was promoted with an anime, but the lack of a console sequel left even the fans that franchise had feeling burned. Mistwalker has continued to see projects cancelled or barely make an impact, let alone the impact that the Final Fantasy series continues to have, and Sakaguchi blogs a lot, but remained relatively out of the spotlight. More recently, Mistwalker and Nintendo announced a joint project for the Wii, The Last Story, which many in the press speculated was a dig at Sakaguchi's other franchise, though Sakaguchi acted perplexed that there was any similarity. The game sold reasonably well for a Wii title in Japan and was announced for a PAL release in 2012 and as such became a centerpiece of the Operation Rainfall campaign to release it in North America.
  • Square Enix as a whole has shifted from being a universally lauded RPG house (from the olden days before they merged) to being considered something of an industry joke and often the first negative stereotype used to describe JRPGs by the Western press. While they can still get good reviews on some of their bigger projects and even the critically divisive Final Fantasy XIII still outsold its better-received Western competition, just saying the name Square Enix causes people to cringe. The developers of Final Fantasy XIII even openly discussed the problems of the game in industry publications and apologized for some the problems. The complete disaster that was the launch of Final Fantasy XIV has not helped, nor have the countless delays of Final Fantasy Versus XIII, nor have the numerous spin-offs with the Final Fantasy name on them, nor have the careless acquisitions of Taito and Eidos which have led to disasterous financial reports in the last several years. When you've got editorials like this one from major news outlets describing the reaction to new iterations of your biggest franchise, and people can actually make a living selling merchandise hating your stuff, it's time to admit you've hit George Lucas status. Ironically, despite all of this, Dragon Quest is probably doing the best it ever has outside Japan - critically and commercially.
    • Really, Dragon Quest is only one of two Square Enix franchises that continues to get consistently strong reviews, the other being Kingdom Hearts - and that series is infamous for suffering from a massive Kudzu Plot, despite the good gameplay.
      • Despite this, Square Enix thinks Dragon Quest is "dead in the West", and ultimately Nintendo publishes the series now. Leaving Square Enix with only one of their two successful franchises outside of Japan.
    • You can pinpoint the exact moment Square Enix started going down the road towards becoming a Fallen Creator. It was the release of the multi-million dollar failure that is Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which led to the resignations for several people within Square and lead to Yoichi Wada's rise to CEO of Squaresoft (and later Square Enix) in December of 2000. His tenure at the top can be, at best, described as nothing short than a complete disaster.
  • Richard "Lord British" Garriot, father of the Ultima series, fell into this after the last iterations of the series felt short for many of his fans. He then spent eight years developing Tabula Rasa as his personal project, which, after released, lasted a little more than a year online before being shut down. It didn't help that, while the game was failing, he seemed more interested in spending a large chunk of his personal fortune for his space trip in Autumn 2008. Now he is dedicated to doing Poker games for Facebook.
  • Manfred Trenz was responsible for many beloved Commodore64 classics such as the Turrican series, Great Giana Sisters and Katakis, but his success practically died with the system. Rendering Ranger, a fine SNES game he worked on, was inexplicably published only in Japan. An attempt to revive Turrican in 3D failed. He formed his own studio, Denaris Entertainement Software, which then proceeded to make many medium-changing masterpieces such as Crazy Frog Racers. He's apparently working on a sequel to Katakis, but it is stuck in Development Hell.
  • Atari was the top video game manufacturer in The Golden Age of Video Games, with the Atari 2600 cranking out hits of arcade ports and original games. Then came the disastrous E.T. video game and the horrid port of Pac-Man, leading up to The Great Video Game Crash of 1983. Atari was never able to recover fully after that--not with the Atari 5200's wonky controller, the Atari 7800 being drowned out by the NES, and the Atari Lynx falling behind the Game Boy. It was finally the overhyped "64-bit" Atari Jaguar, and its even worse add-on, the Jaguar CD, that sent Atari to bankruptcy. A few years later, the Atari brand was bought by toy giant Hasbro, and currently the name is used by numerous companies and only for marketing: most notably, the current Atari in videogaming is in fact French company Infogrames.
  • David Crane was arguably the first game developer to become a household name -- or at least the first that anybody outside the hardcore gaming community had heard of -- largely thanks to being the lead developer behind a number of well-loved Atari 2600 games, most notably the smash hit Pitfall. After he left Activision however, Crane's career suffered its own pitfall. He and other former Activision employees formed Absolute Entertainment but, with few exceptions (most notably A Boy and His Blob), the company churned out a series of bad and/or licensed games, mostly based on The Simpsons, along with David Crane's Amazing Tennis (which most critics agreed was only amazing in how bad it was); he also collaborated to the infamous Night Trap. Absolute collapsed in 1995 and, while he has never left the game industry (he has made a rather successful career out of advergaming), Crane has been under the radar since then.
  • Eric Chahi, after making his Magnum Opus Another World in 1991, steadily fell from grace. Much like John Romero, overzealous perfectionism killed Heart Of Darkness (released in 1998, it actually sold very well - around 1.5 million copies - but long development lead to bankruptcy) and his career as a game artist. He left the game industry for several years but came back in 2006 with the digitally distributed Updated Rerelease of Another World, and managed to have Ubisoft produce a project which has concretized in From Dust.
  • This happened with Tetris of all things. Henk Rogers, the man originally responsible for exporting Tetris out from the former Soviet Union, decided sometime around late 2005 to standardize Tetris games in what originally seemed to be an attempt to avoid Damn You, Muscle Memory! in future releases via Executive Meddling. Unfortunately, the resulting revised Tetris Guideline was based entirely on Tetris Worlds, a version that wasn't all that popular (or good) to begin with, and was so overly restrictive that it basically forced future games to be snowclones of Worlds. In addition, The Tetris Company has a tendency to send out cease-and-desist letters for anything unlicensed even vaguely resembling Tetris, even for game elements which the US Supreme Court has ruled cannot be covered by copyright (Lotus v. Borland), while the Tetris Guideline was a licensing requirement, which meant the only games which dared to defy the Tetris Guideline were Fan Remakes and frequently hit by C&D's. This quickly resulted in a Porting Disaster of Tetris the Grand Master ACE because the staff had to rewrite a ton of stuff to match the behavior of Tetris Worlds (and replacing various staples of the Tetris the Grand Master series in the process). The Tetris Company and Rogers have been declining on the PR front ever since. It doesn't help that Rogers loves to brag about how rich he's gotten from Tetris basically every time he makes a media appearance, accidentally furthering his own image as a Corrupt Corporate Executive.
  • Capcom sadly seems to be headed down this route. First they already had a reputation for Capcom Sequel Stagnation, as evidenced by their Trope Namers status. Then in 2010, Keiji Inafune quit, probably the first major blow. 2011: Capcom cancels Mega Man Universe. Fans seem slightly irked but ultimately shrug and say "Meh, we still have Mega Man Legends 3." Then they say the demo will cost a couple bucks and the game's release will be dependent on the demo selling enough copies. Fans start getting annoyed. Then Capcom cancels Legends 3 outright without even releasing the demo. Cue massive Internet Counterattack including pages of profanity-laden messages directed at Capcom, posted on Capcom's own site no less.
    • It Got Worse two days after the announcement. Capcom has now announced Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which has much wanted fan favorites such as Strider Hiryu and Ghost Rider. Despite this, instead of rejoicing, there were even more complaints about Legends 3's cancellation and how Capcom just milks the cow of MvC3's success. It left that much of a bad taste in the fans' eyes.
    • It got even worse than that when Capcom accidentally leaked the remaining 8, previously unknown characters for the Updated Rerelease, with still no Mega Man in any form in sight. Cue the Internet Counterattack of many, many Capcom fans' screaming Ruined FOREVER for both the franchise and Capcom as a whole.
    • Lest we not forget their handling of the Ace Attorney series outside of Japan. The first three Ace Attorney games were critically & fan loved successes when they were given re-releases for the Nintendo DS console. THEN came the time for the first DS-only game, Apollo Justice which Capcom meddled with by forcing Shu Takumi into writing in previous main character Phoenix Wright into the game, resulting in a game that, while alright, argueably almost made the titular character into part of the supporting cast. Translation issues also started springing up: while the U.S. got the series released in chronological order, the European market had to wait for 1 1/2 years for the third game Trials & Tribulations to come out... to the point that the AA game that Europe got after Justice For All was Apollo Justice (though they eventually got all four games). Then came when a spin-off series came about starring fan-favorite Miles Edgeworth, Ace Attorney Investigations. AAI only got an English release with non-English speaking fans out in the cold. Then when the time came for the release of the latest game, Gyakuten Kenji 2 (or Ace Attorney Investigations 2), Capcom outright stated that there was not going to be an international release of the game in any form. When pressed, excuses were given that the DS is "already failing since the release of the 3DS" and that "the expected income probably wouldn't make up for the translation costs and that Okamiden had already outsold the previous game" (which it only did since, as mentioned, AAI was only released in Japanese and English-speaking countries). Representitives have stated that "they'll keep the door open though," which only seems to be a weak token act. So let's review: no Ace Attorney Investigations 2 because Capcom thinks the DS is dying and no Legends 3 because the 3DS is having a rocky start for a console. Anyone else smell the bullshit here?
    • And recently, the controversy over Street Fighter X Tekken. The gems garnered some hatred. The inclusion of Bad Boxart Mega Man reopened the old wounds, ESPECIALLY when he and Pac Man were slated as PlayStation 3 exclusives. Then when it was finally released people noted that a key feature, co-op online multiplayer, was not included in the Xbox 360 version, with Capcom stating they have no intentions of fixing it. Then they announced a Play Station Vita port of the game...with 12 extra characters up to and including fan favourites such as Lei and Elena. Then they announced said characters would be released as DLC around when the Vita version comes out: around Autumn/Fall. That's a near 6 to 7 month wait. And then hackers discovered that said DLC haracters were infact on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version's discs (INCLUDING the formerly exclusive Mega Man and Pac Man). All of them complete and ready to go, locked out til Fall just because of the Vita version, which opened up a nice big can of controversy for Capcom to dig in to. It didn't help that Capcom asked fans to report hackers who used the DLC characters online
    • Signs of fallen creatordome could be seen in the early 2000's. Making the second DMC that no one likes to talk about without Hideki Kamiya's permission, forcing Shinji Mikami to make P.N.03, a game he didn't care about, Eventually firing Clover Studios due to creative disputes are just a few of these thing. Though YMMV on if this sticks, as some feel the whole thing is a bit too overblown for some people.
    • And now, their recent game Dragon's Dogma was positively reviewed by critics and can be seen as a step in the right direction, however it's doubtful that it will help restore their former status.
    • Capcom recently announced they were open to a buyout by prospective companies, confirming the Fallen Creator status of the company.
  • Data Design Interactive has had a very, very, very bad reputation in the more recent years, with crap-tacular shovelware titles like NinjaBread Man, Anubis II, and Action Girlz Racing. All of them use the same engine, are plagued with atrocious controls, and are very generic and uncreative. However, what most people don't realize is one of their older titles has a small cult following to it - Lego Rock Raiders. It was a real-time strategy game that had you searching through many caverns to find things like ore, energy crystals, and lost rock raiders. Despite looking fairly rushed, the game did reasonably well and even has its own fan-forum. It's amazing to think it was made by the same people who brought us masterpieces like the ones mentioned above.
  • Sega is probably the shining example of the fall of a modern console maker. With the Mega Drive (the Genesis in the US), Sega experienced its golden age and proved to be a powerful competitor to Nintendo, and the system held up well even against the Super NES. However, the first signs of its fall started with the release of the Sega Saturn. Due to numerous boneheaded marketing decisions such as releasing the system four months earlier than scheduled, and alienating third party developers and major retailers, the system flopped against the Nintendo64 and Sony Playstation. Sega's true fall wouldn't come until the release of the Dreamcast, however. While the launch was hugely successfull, sales dropped quickly and the release of the Play Station 2 killed the Dreamcast (it was discontinued in early 2001, just 18 months after the American launch) and any hopes of anybody taking a Sega console seriously again. Since then Sega has not made a new console system and has been relegated as a third party game developer. It now produces games and franchises that were once Sega exclusives for its former competitors, Sony and Nintendo.
    • Notable, however, is the fact that the Dreamcast and Saturn are fondly remembered despite their failure and Sega has never been known to actively insult their fans like many of the creators here. Gamers are still glad they're around -- they just don't expect anything particularly groundbreaking from them anymore.
  • Trip Hawkins was the founder and CEO of what would become a giant in the video game industry, and contributed heavily to some of their most succesful early games such as MULE and the first edition of John Madden Football. In 1991, he left Electronic Arts to form The 3DO Company, which would create the console of the same name. After the console bombed due to its ridiculous pricing, the company went third party and had some early success with the Army Men series, Battle Tanx and the acquisition of the lucrative Might and Magic IP. However, 3DO's habit of releasing buggy and unfinished products and churning out bad sequels and spin-offs at an insanely fast rate long with numerous other bad decisions lead them to crash and burn spectacularly, ending with the company filling for bankruptcy in 2003. After that, he founded the Casual Game developer Digital Chocolate and while it is doing decently well, it's still a far cry from EA's dominance and he owes the Federal Bank more than 20 millions dollars due to avoiding paying taxes after the fall of 3DO.
  • Those of us from the mid-90s DOS gaming scene are likely familiar with Abuse as a brilliantly simple and fast platform shooter with a then-innovative control scheme (keyboard+mouse). After that, though, developer Crack Dot Com sat down to produce the sequel, Golgotha, which was intended to be an RTS with the ability to jump into vehicles on the fly. Development costs spiraled, era spending ran rampant, deadlines were missed, and internal tension led to the project and the company collapsing in 1998, just two years after Abuse was released.
  • Data East, creators of Karnov and the very first true fighting game, Karate Champ. Although they were able to survive up until 2003, they've still fallen a long way. Karnov's Revenge (a.k.a. Fighter's History Dynamite) is almost universally referred to as a Street Fighter II ripoff, yet nobody recognizes that the aforementioned Street Fighter 2 (and debatably every fighting game ever made) owes its existence to Data East's own Karate Champ. Capcom actually sued Data East over the game. To make matters worse, Capcom would go on to take a few moves from the game and use them in later Street Fighter games. Most notably is that one of Mizoguchi's special moves from Karnov's Revenge was turned into Ken's Shinryuken in the Street Fighter series. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. One of the longest running pioneers in gaming is remembered for "ripping off" the very game they inspired, and all that remains are appearances of the Fighter's History characters in spin off games by SNK. Very sad.
  • THQ was once a fairly respectable second tier publisher, with ownership of respected developers like Volition and Relic that gave us hits like Red Faction, Company of Heroes, Homeworld, and more. THQ also made a very healthy profit developing licensed children's games. However, poor management and boneheaded business decisions have caused the company to sink more and more. In order to emulate publishing giants Activision and EA, THQ began buying up huge numbers of licenses and game developers without giving a second thought to how profitable their investments would actually be. Also, several high profile flops like Red Faction Armageddon, Homefront (not to be confused with the aforementioned Homeworld), and the ill-advised HD version of the uDraw tablet device bit into the company's dwindling cash reserves. As of 2012, THQ has shut down its children's game department, dissolved or sold off many of its development studios, laid off over two hundred workers, and has a 70 cent share price, down from a peak of $30 per share. The company is so financially weak that Nasdaq is threatening to remove the company from their stock index.
    • The late March 2012 announcement that the Warhammer40000 MMOG project has been shifted to a mostly single player game due to the high development costs is a further sign of THQ's current state.
  • While we're on the subject of video game publishers, we have Electronic Arts (EA) which publishes noteworthy titles such as EA Sports, Battlefield, The Sims, Medal of Honor, Command and Conquer, Dead Space, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age. However, recently they have come under fire from several sources after buying BioWare and releasing Dragon Age II, which many hated for it's linearity (everything you do makes things worse) and divergence from the gameplay structure of the first game. EA's guilt in this? Certain implications that they rushed the game while it was on early beta. This was made worse with draconian DRM, including the Origin service, which lacks the features available on Steam, runs poorly, and periodically scans the user's hard drive as well as removing all future EA games from it, forcing you to use the service. The capper was Mass Effect 3's Gainax Ending. Ever since people started reaching the end, accusations have been flying about EA rushing Bioware, leading to a incomprehensible, plothole-ridden, and just depressing ending. This has cause stock prices for EA to drop and the company to recieve the "2012 Worst Company in America Golden Poo Award". And that was after they were previously known for killing off Pandemic, Bullfrog, Westwood and Maxis completely.

Western Animation

  • Poor Don Bluth. He began his career as an animator at Walt Disney Animation. Disgusted with the wretched state of the company after the death of Walt Disney, he and a group of other animators departed to form their own studio with the intent of creating quality animated films that celebrated the golden age of Disney animation. Throughout The Eighties, his studio became distinguished for its amazing films (like The Secret of NIMH and An American Tail), as well as the groundbreaking Dragon's Lair arcade game. Then The Eighties ended and Bluth fizzled out right after All Dogs Go to Heaven. He opened The Nineties with Rock-a-Doodle, a notorious flop, and then declared bankruptcy. His next three films were released by a distributor, and met with progressively worse results. He also had to compete both with himself, because he did not maintain sequel rights over his older works (such as The Land Before Time and An American Tail sequels), and with his old boss Disney, who had recovered its former glory and started an animation Renaissance (and ironically, many of the "new blood" of animators trained under Bluth had moved to Disney when Bluth moved his operations to Ireland). Roger Ebert's review of Rock-A-Doodle noted the irony. After a brief return to form with Anastasia (well, he made money anyway), he followed it up with the disastrous Titan A.E., which bankrupted Fox Animation (though it has been Vindicated by Cable). An attempt to revive Dragon's Lair also flopped. Bluth has never really recovered his success, though he occasionally surfaces to do small efforts and still has plans for a Dragon's Lair film.
  • One of the most infamous, tragic, and maybe even somewhat bizzaro examples of this is Richard Williams. The Canadian-born animator is considered one of the most influential visionaries in his medium, and has done a lot of work such as the animation aspect of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. The infamy however regards the film The Thief and the Cobbler, which Williams wanted to be his magnum opus. Completely grass roots financed, the film's production was started in 1964, and would go on to one of the longest productions times of any film in general in the history of contemporary media, since by the late 1980's...they still weren't finished! It was around that time that Warner Brothers approached him with the offer to fully finance the completion of the film. However, as the film was almost devoid of dialog, singing, and other such copycat desires Warner Brothers desired to have the film compete with The Little Mermaid, the deal fell through. The Completion Bond Company helped to finish the film, with distribution by Majestic Films. However, before completion, Williams was actually taken off the project and the film was re-edited with improvised voicing, additional animation to show this, song numbers, and a number of edits to the overall narrative of the story. After the film's initial release in Australia (where it flopped), Miramax decided to make their own version of the film and release it in the United States. The end result was a disaster. Not only was the film a financial bomb, which considering its limited release...could be seen as expected, but the film was critically panned as incoherent and horribly edited. The end of a movie that took a little over 20 years to make was a nonsensical flop. It shouldn't take much imagination to guess at just how that must have felt for Williams, as the disenfranchised animator has absolutely refused to even acknowledge the film's existence ever since then. One of the most diabolical examples of Executive Meddling in film today.
    • Later, a dedicated animation fan miraculously tracked down various pieces of the film; unfinished pencil tests, rough animation, and direct input from people who worked on the film. He then stitched all his findings together with bits of the theatrical release, took out the voices, and even put in bits of atmospheric music that was originally going to be scored for the film in order to make a massive fan-edit of the film to be as close to the original vision as possible: The Re-cobbled Cut. The results have been generally praised as a far superior movie, but sadly Williams himself still (allegedly) refuses to acknowledge the film.
  • What about Ralph Bakshi? For a guy who hates Don Bluth's works they have a lot in common. Bakshi first made himself known with the Cult Classic film Fritz the Cat ten years before Bluth released The Secret of NIMH, and Bakshi's last film was made ten years before Titan A.E.. He made many underground, non-Disney films that were successful. Bakshi made it big with The Lord of the Rings and managed to stay under the radar. But after Fire and Ice, he all but disappeared, and then tried to make a comeback in 1992 but failed. The Last Day of Coney Island is STILL in Development Hell like that Dragon's Lair movie.
  • John Kricfalusi was regarded as influential in animation, with The Ren and Stimpy Show being his breakout work. Unfortunately, his ideas are often all too crazy for the execs to tolerate. He got fired from Nickelodeon because of his late work, and his show was handed to another studio only to crash after season 2. When he got the chance to do the show again, it was from Spike TV, whose executives asked for the content to be "more adult", so it could stand next to South Park or Family Guy. Despite good ratings and reception, it was cancelled after a month due to John K managing to complete only 3 out of the 9 requested episodes on time. Nowadays, he currently posts on his blog about his influences, as well as his studies on animation and tutorials for fans wanting to learn how to do animation. And while he doesn't have much of anything kind to say about modern animation or modern stuff in general, he has his reasons for doing so (for the most part, anyways).
  • Earl Duvall was one of two directors - the other being Friz Freleng - that helped get the Warner Bros. cartoon studio back up and running after original directors Harman and Ising defected to MGM. He directed some pretty decent cartoons and was given the honor of directing the studio's first color cartoon. These days however, Freleng is widely regarded as one of the Godfathers of animation, while Duvall's name is just a footnote in animation history books, and the reason for this is that Duvall one day decided it'd be a great idea to get extremely drunk and demand that his pay packet be doubled. Needless to say, it wasn't - Duvall was instantly fired and never worked in the animation industry again.
  • The directing team of Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale. After rising up the stratosphere with Beauty and the Beast, they seemed to lose their footing after Atlantis the Lost Empire was a critical and box office disappointment. Since then, Wise's only directing credit was the English dub of Spirited Away while Trousdale has been reduced to directing television specials for DreamWorks.
  • Richard Rich falls into this one completely. He started off as a director for Disney, and then he left to make his own animated features. They had three things in common: mistaken for Disney films mediocre reviews, and miserable box office takes. Since then, his most recent work is a producer for CG animated features.


  1. The film grossed $140M on a budget of just $3M
  2. For example, his music was banned by the NHL at hockey games
  3. Though technically, Nintendo still owns some stock in the company
  4. Though that was really more Interplay's own fault as they didn't even try to market it in spite of its critical praising; it achieved most of its (now considerable) reputation years after its original release date
  5. Some reviewers believe that Sonic Unleashed would've been the return to form Sonic needed if it weren't for the Werehog gameplay.
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