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Politicians

  • Pretty much ANY given US politician who has ever been disgraced by a scandal they were in. Namely due to when they these politicians get themselves in a scandal the media exploits how terrible it is every chance they get. (Doesn't help that some of them never really got all that well known in the media until they are in a scandal.)
    • A particularly bad example is Gary Condit, who was already an average Congressman. However, in May 2001, Chandra Levy, a young intern who had worked in his office and with who he had been having an affair, disappeared. Condit proceeded to lie to police about the affair, and, when public opinion turned against him, gave an evasive interview with Connie Chung that made him look like he had everything to hide. Naturally, the media soon moved on to other issues following September 11th, but the damage to his reputation had been done. Condit lost the Democratic primary in March 2002, and spent the remainder for his Congressional career under a cloud of suspicion, especially when Levy's body was discovered in May 2002. Her real killer was only arrested in May 2009.
  • President Herbert Hoover is continually remembered as the president who caused the Wall Street Crash of 1929. No one remembers that he was known as the "Great Humanitarian" during World War I for his aid overseas (in Belgium, his name even became a word meaning "to help"), and he saw the crash coming and tried to avert it, but is "remembered" as someone who "did nothing", though even Franklin D Roosevelt's own advisers said that "practically the entire New Deal was extrapolated" from Hoover's programs. Facts be damned, he's now so associated with disastrous economic policy that, for example, one of the more memorable lines of the 1992 election was Bill Clinton repeatedly referring to the incumbent President George Herbert Walker Bush (who he defeated) as "George Herbert Hoover Bush".
  • Howard Dean was a strong contender for the 2004 presidential nomination until he gave an enthusiastic whoop during a lively campaign rally. Political opponents and pundits swooped in and quickly blew it to the proportion that you might have thought he'd suddenly gone feral onstage. In spite of becoming chairman of the Democratic National Committee, in many minds, he's still best known for the "I Have A Scream" incident.
  • Nikita Khrushchev is mostly remembered for hitting a table with a shoe.
    • In Russia, he is remembered for the shoe incident and for his obsession with growing corn.
    • He is also remembered for his role, along with JFK's, in precipitating the Cuban Missile Crisis, which nearly led to the outbreak of World War III and for his "WE WILL BURY YOU!" speech (though a better translation is the less aggressive-sounding "We will be there when you are buried").
    • And Mikhail Gorbachev is remembered for one thing: that (trademarked!) birthmark on his head.
      • In Russia, Gorbachev will never live down destroying the Soviet Union and subsequently the Russian economy... even though he never intended to end the Soviet Union with his reforms, and the collapse of the economy was mostly the fault of Boris Yeltsin, his cronies and foreign speculators.
      • While in America, Gorbachev is barely remembered for ending the Soviet Union, and all the credit goes to Reagan.
    • Similarly, William Lyon Mackenzie King is remembered chiefly for holding séances, rather than his leadership during the Great Depression or World War II.
    • And Pierre Trudeau, who is arguably the architect of modern Canada, is remembered mainly for flipping off a bunch of protesters.
    • The Canadian Liberal Party has yet to live down the "Sponsorship Scandal", even though fairly few people know what it even was. It ruined the career of former PM Paul Martin.
    • Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty will forever be known as an "evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet". The thing is, this actually did wonders for his career.
  • Sir John A. Macdonald confederated the provinces of Canada, built the longest railroad in the history of the world (up to that point), expanded his dominion from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Ocean, suppressed two rebellions and governed for almost twenty years. And yet, the only things that most Canadians know about him is that he was a giant drunk and that he waffled on the Louis Riel issue.
  • Ask most people what they know about John Ashcroft, and odds are they'll reply "he lost an election to a dead man". Which is a half-truth - Mel Carnahan did die two weeks before the election in a plane crash, but he was left on the ballot due to state laws, and Ashcroft rather respectfully stopped campaigning when he died. When it was announced that Carnahan's wife Jean would serve her husband's term if he won, Ashcroft resumed campaigning and lost 49-51%, after which Jean Carnahan did indeed serve in her husband's place.
  • In spite of a lifetime in politics, Bill Clinton is almost completely remembered for his numerous sexual peccadilloes, to the point that he's often portrayed as a horn-dog swinger in various media. He's also remembered for a few of his "slick" soundbytes, such as claiming he "didn't inhale" and asking for the legal definition of "is". People who were children during Clinton's presidency, however, are most likely to remember that Bill Clinton plays the sax.
    • British contemporaries of Bill Clinton at Oxford University have recalled his fame for exotic chocolate cake with added herbs.
      • In spite of the ongoing Lewinsky scandal during his presidency, Clinton still enjoyed a very high approval rating at the end of his tenure (when Presidents commonly begin to suffer lower approval ratings).
  • It's a Truth in Television that ultimately, as Enoch Powell once famously said, all political careers end in failure - so, as often as not, the climactic failure of one variety or another is what the politician concerned gets remembered for. Of course, what Powell really said was "All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure", but no-one remembers that as they're too busy remembering him for his "Rivers of Blood" speech instead.
    • Few people could tell you the MP who forced the NHS to start employing non-whites, or made one of the greatest parliamentary speeches ever criticising the mistreatment of Mau Mau prisoners.
  • When thinking of William Howard Taft, what are people more likely to remember: His trust-busting activities? His military action against Nicaragua? His support of the 16th Amendment, the foundation of the US's modern tax code? Or that he's the only former President to also serve on the Supreme Court (as the Chief Justice no less)? Nope. None of that. People remember that he was so fat, he got stuck in the White House bathtub. Failing that, they will remember him as the last president with facial hair or as the President who first had electrical power added to the residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • The 1969 Chappaquiddick Incident, in which a car driven by Ted Kennedy swerved into a lake, causing the car's sole passenger, campaign assistant Mary Jo Kopechne, to drown. Kennedy's swimming out of the sinking car (with Kopechne trapped inside), along with failing to report the incident, permanently stifled his presidential hopes and ruined his credibility as a politician. He did regain some of that later as a U.S. Senator, but his career was always sullied by this incident, as well as his reputation as a playboy and drinker.
  • Chicago mayor and former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel once mailed a dead fish to a pollster whose numbers he didn't like. Can anyone recall off the top of their heads anything else about the man?
    • Only that he has a reputation for extremely liberal (no pun intended) use of the word "fuck".
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Vice President Joe Biden: "Working outside Rahm's office is like watching Sesame Street if every day was brought to you by the letter 'F'."

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  • George Bush Sr. threw up on Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa because he insisted upon attending a state banquet despite having a severe case of the flu. Following the incident, the Japanese actually adopted the word "bush" as a synonym for "to vomit in a socially embarrassing situation", and to this day, Japan prefers to act as though the incident never happened.
    • Bush Sr. had a couple of others. One, which was unjustified yet stuck around, was a picture of the President appearing to be fascinated by a simple grocery checkout scanner. In fact, the photo was taken at a demonstration of a new type of scanner, but this fact was not obvious in the photo, making it appear as though Bush Sr. was completely out of touch with technology the average American interacted with on a daily basis. However, no such defense can be offered for the time during a debate with Governor Clinton and Ross Perot, when Bush was caught glancing at his wrist watch while his opponent was speaking.
    • Also (speaking of groceries), that time he declared that he didn't like broccoli, leading the broccoli lobby to send a truck full of the hated veggie as a gift to the White House.
    • And, of course, the ever infamous "Read my lips: No New Taxes!", which came back to bite him on the ass in the next election.
  • George W. Bush will never live down "Mission Accomplished!". In a sense, he was right; they had deposed Saddam Hussein three weeks previous to the speech, but fighting in Iraq continued for another seven years, mostly in the form of anti-insurgency, and it was definitely not the end of "major combat operations".
    • George W. Bush's presidency was full of these moments: when first informed of the 9/11 attacks, he was reading a book to a kindergarten class, and instead of getting up to do something, he stayed and kept reading. Then there was the above mentioned "Mission Accomplished!" blunder. Then there was Hurricane Katrina, really the whole thing, but especially the visual of him tucking into some birthday cake with John McCain at the same time that New Orleans was underwater was an especially harsh instance of this trope.
      • The other side of these situations often goes unreported. In an interview conducted on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the kindergartners to whom Bush was reading said that they felt he did the right thing, since leaving in a hurry would have made them panic. Likewise, Louisianans blame the state government, and not the federal, for not properly maintaining the levees.
    • In perhaps a more amusing instance of this trope, there are any vast number of verbal gaffes Bush made, so many that they have their own term: "Bushisms". Some of most commonly remembered are the infamous "fool me once" flub, asking "is our children learning?", and of course "misunderestimate".
      • Similarly, we have the incident from near the end of his Presidency where an angry Iraqi threw a shoe at him (which is a grave insult in Muslim culture, as shoes and feet are seen as incredibly unclean). Despite the insult, Bush tends to get some praise for his quick dodge, as well as maintaining a good sense of humor about the whole thing.
  • Dan Quayle is remembered for misspelling the word "Potato" as "Potatoe" and denouncing Murphy Brown's single mother status.
    • And mangling the UNCF's "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste" motto, declaring that the Holocaust was the most obscene event in American history and a strange statement about how Mars had a human-habitable atmosphere based on severely outdated theories about the Martian "canals". People got so used to him saying stupid things that, when he tried to be legitimately clever with the now infamous "Great State of Chicago" remark, people took it as a gaffe and it is largely remembered as such.
  • Dick Cheney shot a guy in the face whilst hunting. He already had a reputation as an Evil Chancellor, but after the guy he shot publicly apologized for being shot, it pretty much made sure that no one is ever going to forget that. To be fair to the man, it really was the other guy's fault, because he displayed a startling lack of basic safety, but you'll never see that in the media.
  • Neville "Peace for our time!" Chamberlain.
    • Modern history (if not the general public) is starting to have a slightly better opinion of Chamberlain, namely that although he placated Germany, he may have done so because England was extremely not-ready to start fighting either, and needed more time to get ready (which they were). Had he called Hitler out on taking over Czechoslovakia, and shooting had started, things might have gone much worse.
  • Late Venezuelan President Luis Herrera Campins was an affable man who had the bad luck of being the president in office during the infamous devaluation of 1983. But that he lived with; what he didn't live down was the nickname political humorists (and even serious historians) gave to him, "Toronto", not after the city but after a round hazelnut chocolate bonbon of that name. Most of the parodies involved represent him as a Fat Bastard munching the afore-mentioned bonbons. The poor man spent the next 25+ years baffled by the meme, constantly answering journalists "I don't even like chocolate that much" when asked about the issue.
    • His successor, Jaime Lusinchi, was already a walking punchline for the widespread corruption during his rule, his drunkenness, and the antics of his mistress (and future ex-wife) Blanca "Gastos cubiertos" Ibañez; but then, after he left office, he said to an overly inquisitive journalist "Tú a mi no me vas a joder" (roughly "You aren't going to fuck me"). On camera. In a live transmission. To a journalist of the most popular TV network' of the country, who quickly lent the clip to everybody who asked. Guess what is the most used clip and expression when speaking of the man?
  • Robert C. Byrd was the longest-serving U.S. Senator in American history, a two-time Senate Majority Leader, defeated Senator Edward Kennedy for the post of Senate Majority Whip, and chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee for 10 years. For the last twenty years or so of his career, his political opponents never let him (or anyone else) forget that, as a twentysomething in World War II-era West Virginia, he founded a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Hardly surprising since he was also a determined opponent of the Civil Rights Act as a mature politician in 1964.
    • To armchair politicians, he'll never live down being "the Prince of Pork"... which, considering the man not only flagrantly redirected as many federal projects as possible to his state but also often put his name on them, which is a direct violation of federal law, is actually richly earned.
  • Harold Holt, Prime Minister of Australia, went swimming in the ocean one day and was never heard from again. Presumably he had some political policies or something, passed some laws maybe during his tenure as PM. We assume. Which party was Holt in, anyway?
    • Also from Australian politics: Bob Hawke is known only for drinking beer and publicly supporting people skipping work to watch a boat race, and Gough Whitlam is generally remembered not for free university educations or buying the painting Blue Poles, but for being sacked.
  • Richard Nixon was not a crook (a quote that is often presented as an unsolicited proclamation rather than part of a speech).
    • Probably not helped by the fact he was in actuality a GIANT crook.
      • Also not helped by earlier baseless allegations that he was personally profiting from a GOP slush fund while campaigning in the 1950s. Nixon was actually playing clean when he made the 'Checkers' speech concerning slush fund expenditures; in fact his speech prompted an investigation of Adlai Stevenson's slush fund which turned up some improprieties. Only later on did Nixon become the legendary crook and manipulator he's known as today (talk about a Face Heel Turn!) So it's entirely possible that one can never live down even things of which one is not guilty.
    • As a result, Gerald Ford also came to represent this trope as well. He is best known for exactly three things: first, being the only American president to hold office who never had a single person vote for him, and for pardoning Richard Nixon for his crimes. Many have argued that it was "the best thing for the country" at the time, including himself. While we are not going to debate the truthfulness of this sentiment, Ford apparently felt that he himself should Never Live It Down, saying "I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon".
      • The third thing he's remembered for is his slips in highly public incidents, never being able to live it down despite the fact that he was a star football player in his college days.
  • While James A. Rhodes would be re-elected Governor of Ohio twice afterward, many people never forgave him for his decision to call the National Guard to Kent State University, which led to the 1970 shootings where four students were gunned down.
  • Alexander Haig was the first Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, but will likely be remembered mostly for one embarrassing comment when, in the confusion following the attempted assassination of President Reagan, Haig announced that he was "in charge"; stirring much confusion as to whether or not Haig had misinterpreted the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the Constitution or was making a general statement that he was the senior official in charge (as Vice President George HW Bush was unavailable due to being airborne over Texas at the moment).
  • Kim Campbell, despite being the first female Canadian prime minister as interim of the retired Brian Mulroney, will always be remembered as the woman who took the lead of the nine-year ruling Conservative Party and brought them to utter ruin in the following elections (thanks in part to them running an infamous attack ad that mocked Liberal leader Jean Chrétien's facial deformity). They only elected two candidates country-wide, losing official party status. Kim Campbell herself did not even get elected in her own riding.
  • Vladimir Putin, in the period of anti-terror bluster mentioned "doing in [the terrorists] [among other places] in the toilets", using slang for "kill" which normally means "make wet". Whether he invented this little pearl himself or his PR team did, this became a meme: in Russia he, anti-terror tall speech and latrine jokes were inherently connected from that moment on. Politics who speak funny all the time become character memes, but at least don't have a specific one stuck on them.
  • Jimmy Carter, despite being able to fend off giant killer rabbits will only be remembered for being an abysmal failure as president. Except that wasn't even his fault. Most of the problems of his presidency were caused by Nixon and Ford.
    • And he was a peanut farmer.
    • And there was the admission he made in an interview with Playboy that Carter "lusted in my heart" for women other than his wife. For Carter, well-known as a very religious man, this one turned out to be particularly embarrassing. And that was before he even got elected!
    • And there was his UFO sighting.[1] Carter remains the only US president ever to admit to filing a UFO report. The fact that he was a rural Southerner didn't help matters.
  • Sarah Palin "can see Russia from [her] house!" - which was said in a piece of satire, not by the person herself, though using the exact same logic.
  • Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis had two during the 1988 presidential campaign which effectively torpedoed his chances. First, he was asked at a debate if he would still be against the death penalty if his wife was raped and murdered, and replied in a completely calm and straightforward fashion (he would later lament "Anyone who is against the death penalty gets asked that question a thousand times, and unfortunately, I answered it like it was the thousandth time I'd been asked"). Then he decided to take a ride in a tank during a photo op at an army base, complete with ridiculous looking headgear, resulting in a photo where he looked like Snoopy fighting the Red Baron. George Bush Sr. would capitalize on this by running a famous attack ad that pretty much destroyed any credibility that Dukakis had left.
  • Cleveland Congressman Dennis Kucinich has had two in his career. Originally, after his term as Mayor, he was "the guy who bankrupted Cleveland" (What actually happened was the bank that held Cleveland's debt tried to force him to sell the city's public electric system to a power company that was part-owner of the bank, and he wouldn't play ball). Then he was "the guy who saw a UFO at Shirley MacLaine's house". Now he's the tiny hippie who married a British lady at least six levels of hotness above his own.
  • Thomas Jefferson is perhaps too eminent a figure to fall victim to this trope, but his apparent hypocrisy regarding slavery tends to dominate most historical discussions of him. How can a man who wrote that "all men are created equal" justify owning other human beings or hold the opinion that the African race was generally inferior? How can he justify his relationship and children with Sally Hemmings a woman who, while apparently reciprocating his affections (and stayed with him during foreign journeys that would have allowed for easy escape), was still economically beholden to him as owner, and only 14 when their relationship started? Jefferson's accomplishments are vast, but the gulf between his words and his actions on the subjects of slavery and race are something that have tremendous impact on his legacy.
  • George Washington is mostly well-respected enough to avoid this, but one historian, when interviewed on TV, said that visitors to the Smithsonian were more interested in seeing his (not actually) wooden teeth than any other artifact related to him. The (apocryphal) Cherry Tree thing is also good publicity, along with the "Crossing The Delaware" and "Wintering At Valley Forge".
  • Aaron Burr is best-known for shooting and killing Alexander Hamilton, in spite of being a former Vice-President who was charged with treason for his alleged plan to secede from the union with a rebel army. No evidence was actually produced, so he was acquitted.
  • Walter Mondale campaigned hard for nuclear disarmament and the Equal Rights Amendment, and played a key role in uncovering a conspiracy within NASA that forced them to adopt stricter safety measures. Then in the 1984 presidential campaign, he announced that he would raise taxes as part of his effort to reduce the deficit, thinking the voters would appreciate the honesty. They didn't, and he suffered one of the worst election defeats in US history and became known purely as the guy who said he was going to jack up taxes.
  • Andrew Jackson is a very complicated individual. He is a Badass war hero who beat people up with his cane and seemed to represent the rise of the common man to the presidency. However, his treatment of millions of Native Americans, which culminated in a downright genocidal eradication and relocation program, that he was both architect and enforcer of, has forever tainted his image. And justifiably so.
  • Christine O'Donnell is not a witch, but she doesn't want you to masturbate.
  • There once was a leader of a major European nation who restored seriously wounded national pride, rebuilt their devastated economy, drastically cut unemployment, instituted the first anti-smoking campaign in history... and killed about twenty million people - proving that, in some cases, this trope is completely justified.
  • Obama got a few very quickly into his Presidency. Most notable is his bowing to foreign dignitaries. The only one acceptable to many conservatives was his awkward bow to the Japanese emperor (mainly because the bow in Japan functions the same as a handshake in the US, not as a gesture of submission like in the other places he did it). He's also gotten a lot of flack for quite a few golf outings and vacations during pivotal times, most notably being on vacation in Brazil when he committed forces to Libya. One blog has a running list of Obamateurisms to catalog all of these, although the author promises to stop when Obama is out of office, as opposed to the Bushisms.
  • Mitt Romney once strapped the family dog to the top of a station wagon in a carrier. The dog proceeded to lose control of its bowels out of sheer terror. How did the sensitive animal lover handle this? By hosing the dog off, of course!
    • There's also the infamous "47% of Americans" remark he made during a private fundraiser in 2012, which many believe cost him the presidential election that November.
  • John Hancock, first governor of Massachusetts, second president of the Second Continental Congress, and president when the Declaration of Independence was signed - what image did his name instantly bring to your head? (The reason it was so large is that, him being the President at the time, it was actually a stamp.)
  • In Germany, JFK will always be remembered for that one phrase: "Ich bin ein Berliner!" (and not because everyone understood it as "I am a jelly doughnut!").[2]
  • French president and World War II hero Charles de Gaulle, known for his infamous "Vive le Québec libre!" ("Long Live Free Quebec!"), which caused quite a stir between France and Canada and is still remembered today as one huge diplomatic faux-pas and an embarrassment for every Quebecois.
  • Nicolas Sarkozy (french president from 2007 to 2012) will be always known as the president who yelled "Casse toi, pauv'con!" ("Get lost, moron!") to a man who rejected him during an agricultural show. While being filmed.
  • "Democracy is finished in England. It may be here." When Joe Kennedy, father of JFK said that in regards to the German attacks against England in World War II, he basically became the American Neville Chamberlain.
  • Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Québécois for 14 years, one of the longest-serving leaders of a major political party in recent Canadian times, former Leader of the Opposition. Dude takes one perfectly normal tour of a cheese factory like any other politician, with perfectly sensible, standard-issue hygiene precautions, and for the rest of his life, he's the dude in the shower cap.
  • Ernest Hollings will likely be remembered by many for his infamous "Buffcoat and Beaver" remark in 1993, something that the show he was targeting would end up routinely parodying.

Entertainers

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 Braga: People are very unforgiving about that episode. I've written well over a hundred episodes of Star Trek, yet it seems to be the only episode anyone brings up, you know? "Brannon Braga, who wrote Threshold!"

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  • Mark A. Hicks, professional Hollywood stuntman. How is he best remembered by the Internet public? As Chris Tucker's body double for the first two Rush Hour movies, netting several awards in the process? As the man who's done dangerous work in everything from Coyote Ugly to Serenity? Not likely. He is best known for flubbing a flip during an audition for a Nike ad. After which he got the part. Seriously.
  • Sally Field is one of America's most famous actresses, with a string of iconic roles (as well as two Oscars and three Emmys) under her belt. But what does the layperson remember her for? Gidget? The Flying Nun? Sybil? Norma Rae? Nora Walker? Even Robin Williams' ex in Mrs. Doubtfire? Nope - her 1985 Best Actress Oscar acceptance speech for Places In The Heart: BKA, "You like me! You really like me!"
  • Mel Gibson was once known as a hunky jokester, action star, and surprisingly successful film director. Then he made The Passion of the Christ and began airing his staunchly conservative Catholic beliefs. Then he got arrested for drunk driving while making racist and sexist comments. For years he was mocked by the media, until the joke got a little old. He had almost lived it down when he was recorded by his ex-girlfriend making misogynistic and racist remarks, re-igniting the flames and basically ensuring that he'll never be able to show his face in polite society again. And just when things couldn't get any worse, you've got his father's traditionalist (read: even more staunchly conservative) Catholic beliefs brought to light, including conspiracy theories and Antisemitic ramblings. He just doesn't seem to take a break, does he?
    • In April 2012 the son of screenwriter Joe Eszterhas taped Gibson spewing yet another profanity-laced rant. Some are calling said rant the final nail in the coffin of Gibson's career.
  • According to his biographer, Peter Lorre spent the majority of his film career trying to escape being typecast as a villain, and ultimately didn't succeed. Many of the roles he took specifically to counteract his first major role as a child-killer in M were either forgotten, downplayed by the studios, or made things even worse.
    • Things have gotten a little better for him, since these days most people first encounter him as children, watching him play Conseil in Disney's adaptation of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
    • And the numerous expies in various old, (with Genie) and new cartoons have all cast him in a different light from his breakout role. His distinctive look and voice are pretty unmistakable.
  • Woody Allen: Director, actor, screenwriter, comedian, playwright, musician, writer... but what really comes to mind when he's mentioned today? Marrying the adopted daughter of his now ex-lover Mia Farrow, after serving as her father figure since she was seven (they married when she was 22 and he was 56). He's another popular target for paedophilia jokes, despite the fact that Soon-Yi Previn was a legal adult when their relationship started. One of Farrow and Allen's biological children still hasn't forgiven him for this. On top of the relationship issue has been the rapidly declining quality of Allen's films, so the only thing many younger filmgoers know him for is the marriage to Soon Yi and not the era in which his films were landmark events.
  • Orson Welles is considered to be one of the best filmmakers of all time. In popular culture, he's more well known for Citizen Kane and for his later life in which he was obese and did commercials about frozen peas.
    • Some best remember him for the infamous radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds that caused people to panic when they mistook it for genuine news coverage of a Martian invasion.
  • Sir Alec Guinness expressed great irritation that he only seemed to be remembered for that one role he didn't really like in the first place and he did because he needed the money, and once flipped out at a Loony Fan who wouldn't stop pestering him. He was bitter about this to the end of his life... and naturally, every obituary for him focused more on his role in Star Wars than anything else.
    • Poor, poor Jake Lloyd. How dare an eight-year-old actor deliver a juvenile performance!
    • Hayden Christensen, who played Anakin in Episodes 2 and 3, has received just as much, if not more ire for his performance of the character.
  • Chris Columbus wrote Gremlins and The Goonies, directed two Harry Potter films and Mrs. Doubtfire as well as the film adaptation of Rent, but is apparently going to be "the Home Alone guy" for all eternity. On the other hand, maybe he's lucky he's not "the Stepmom guy".
    • Amongst Harry Potter fans, he is very much known as the director of 1 and 2. the fandom is divided as to whether or not that's a good or bad thing.
  • Kanye West may be a very talented rapper, but he became most known by non-fans as "that guy who said George Bush doesn't care about black people." Several years' worth of parodies, spoofs, and (to Kanye, at least) agreement with this comment by the general public likely led him to think he could pull a similar stunt and escape unscathed. Now he's known as the guy who's gonna let you finish, but Jean Grey had the best Never Live It Down moment of all time. So at least he lived down the first one...
  • They're still cracking jokes about Michael Fish (British weather presenter, now semi-retired) from that one time over twenty years ago that he refused to accept the Great Storm of '87 was happening, even as it was happening.
  • According to some of her co-workers, at least one Deadwood bit player regularly gets recognized on the street as "Dolly the blow-job whore."
  • Alexandra Paul is known as "the virgin Connie Swail" in the film version of Dragnet rather than her other roles in the Stephen King adaptation of Christine and as one of the main female lifeguards on Baywatch.
  • Michael Richards was Kramer, but beyond that he's only known for the Laugh Factory incident where he responded to heckling with a barrage of racist comments, including a nostalgic reference to lynching.
  • Never mind the multiple iconic television series he was a part of or his acclaimed stand-up comedy performances... the one aspect of Bill Cosby's career that's guaranteed to show up in any parody of the man is those Jell-O Pudding commercials he did. Of course, Bill probably doesn't mind this so much, since it means that Leonard Part 6 is being left alone.
    • Also, parodies of the actual Cosby Show seem to consist of Bill running around, screaming his kids' names in funny ways. In a garish sweater.
  • Many Vietnam veterans have never forgiven Jane Fonda for supporting North Vietnam and being photographed sitting on a Viet Cong anti-aircraft gun during her 1972 visit to Hanoi.
    • Ironically, the AA gun incident has obscured her comments that the POW's in the Hanoi Hilton were being well-treated, and referred to liberated POW's as 'hypocrites and liars' when they claimed to have been systematically tortured.
  • Judy Garland and drug addiction. Before child labor laws (and apparently common decency) were in place in the film industry, MGM execs would force the 15-year old Judy to take a combination of amphetamines and barbiturates to lose weight and keep her awake enough to work longer hours, all the while telling her that she would never be as beautiful as the other actresses she worked with. This traumatized her into severe insecurity for the rest of her life and her addiction was what eventually killed her. Yet even today she is the punchline to many a joke about drug addicts.
  • Averted hard by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who somehow built a political career despite:
    • Being caught on camera smoking a lot of weed in Pumping Iron
    • Bragging about getting to jam his co-star Kristianna Loken's face in a toilet while filming Terminator 3
    • Talking about (and possibly participating in) group sex at his Venice gym.
    • Starring in a completely ridiculous Brazilian tourism video wherein he describes a woman as a "mulatta," openly praises a dancing girl's ass, and then climbs on stage to grope it.
    • ... To say nothing of some of the gaffes he committed while in actual office. The man is faux pas proof.
    • Well, with the revelation of his years long affair, and secret child, time will only tell if the trope was averted or merely subverted.
      • One almost wonders if Arnold hasn't been trying to get remembered like this. Or at the very least, testing his luck to see how far he can take it.
  • Traci Lords. Despite carving out a decent career as an actress, she'll always be remembered as the underage porn queen.
  • Dan Didio and Joe Quesada, heads of DC and Marvel Comics respectively, have very similar moments. Didio has the Coutdown to Final Crisis series and his claim that it was "52 done right," while Quesada has One More Day and him saying he did it because a married Spider-Man is equal to him growing old and dying. In Didio's case, he did make his statement before the backlash for Countdown began, and DC's writers/editors have admitted its failure by shoving it into Canon Dis Continuity. But many DC fans still insist Didio's even worse than Quesada, even though Quesada refuses to retcon OMD and insists the millions angered by it simply "don't get Spider-Man."
  • Writer Adam Beechen did some major work on the animated Teen Titans series, as well as The Batman. Ask the average comic reader who he is, and the most likely response is "The guy who ruined Cass."
  • Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman) is an animal-rights advocate and a passionate toy collector, and was one of the greatest children's stars of the eighties. But you never hear anyone talking about those when his name comes up. Instead, he's just the skanky dude who was Caught With His Pants Down by the police in a porn theater in Sarasota, Florida in 1991. It took the better part of a decade for Reubens and Pee-Wee to be respected again.
    • The Sarasota police themselves had to live the arrest down as it exposed how they were pursuing "morality crimes" while murders were up in the city (The chief admitted he only sent the officers to the theater so they weren't just sitting around the precinct watching TV).
  • He acted in spaghetti westerns. He was the official pitchman for Nestle Quik chocolate-milk mix. He even was offered the part of James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Doesn't matter one lick, because, to fanboys, Adam West will always bear the stigma of being the guy who made Batman camp and silly. (Not that he hasn't played along with the stereotype since then, mind you.)
  • James Hellwig was a professional wrestler who worked for WWE about 20 years ago. He was known as "The Ultimate Warrior", and was so adored by fans that he rivaled freaking Hulk Hogan in popularity! So it's too bad that he felt compelled to tarnish that legacy by uttering a homophobic remark at the University of Connecticut while making the rounds as a political speaker. At some point along the line, he apparently went completely insane.
    • There's not that much "went" involved. Most of the stuff said about his backstage behavior tends to indicate he was already nuts at his peak.
  • Anna Nicole Smith: Playboy Magazine's Miss May 1992. ("Yawn.") Playmate of the Year, 1993. ("Meh.") Official spokesmodel for Guess Jeans. ("Who?") Star of To The Limit and Skyscraper. ("Have no idea who you're talking about.") Married a man four times her age and fought her two stepsons for the right to his estate. ("Ah! Now I know who you mean!")
  • Neil LaBute was once an acclaimed director of indie comedies (such as In The Company Of Men, Nurse Betty and Your Friends & Neighbors) who had a major shot of hitting the big time. He also helped give Aaron Eckhart (Two-Face from The Dark Knight Saga) his start in Hollywood. Then he did the remake of The Wicker Man, a film that pretty much ended his rise. Since then, he's mostly been a for-hire director in projects such as the Death at a Funeral remake.
    • LaBute purportedly makes crappy Hollywood films to finance his more more edgy works in theater, where he got his start... and where he has his own Never Live It Down, as he's most infamous for stories in which characters are gratuitously and viciously cruel to each other. (If you think "In the Company of Men" is harsh, check out "Fat Pig". It's not exactly the feel-good romance of the summer.)
      • Actually, his Never Live It Down in theater is "Bash", which is a trio of one-acts about Mormons killing their children for spiteful reasons and beating gay men to death. The LDS was outraged that he'd depict Mormons doing such horrible things and excommunicated him. Meanwhile, the theater community hit the roof because a lot of people thought LaBute was for vigilante murders of homosexuals. Both sides somehow managed to miss the references to Greek tragedies LaBute had signposted all over the place.
  • Larry King and Elizabeth Taylor. One's a legendary interviewer, the other's a legendary actress. But they're both connected in the public eye as the most Egregious examples of "serial monogamy.": Both have been married seven times (never to each other, by the way).
    • On a more positive note, many people now remember Elizabeth Taylor more for her AIDS activism than for her film career or her marriages.
  • M. Night Shyamalan is infamous for shoehorning in a Mandatory Twist Ending in every single one of his movies... except only three of them have such an ending: The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and The Village. The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable had twist endings that legitimately worked, whereas The Village's ending made absolutely no sense whatsoever. This has resulted in the poor guy being blamed for perpetuating a trope he only uses occasionally (one which, for the record, he hasn't used since The Village).
  • If you ask any random person who is Yoko Ono, they will say "the woman who disbanded The Beatles". Nothing about her career as a plastic artist, nothing about her childhood in Japan or even her actual relationship with John Lennon. Just that.
  • MSNBC's Chris Matthews is the host of discussion show "Hardball"; but falls into this trope for infamously stating that Barack Obama gave him a "thrill up his leg" during the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination primaries.
  • Bill O'Reilly will never live down the debate gaffe he made on air, in which when trying to argue that his guest couldn't explain God, he made the infamous quote "Tides go in, tides go out, you can't explain that." [3] Although Fox Viewers have probably forgotten it its become memetic on the internet.
    • "WE'LL DO IT LIVE!"
  • Soupy Sales and "little green pictures of George Washington".
  • Jonathan Ross has been a broadcaster on British television and radio for the past twenty years and has produced material ranging from film review shows to highly successful chat shows as well as providing the launch pad for the likes of Steve Coogan. He is also a tremendous comic-book fan and has interviewed legends such as Stan Lee. However, to the Daily Mail, he will always be known as 'man who left a rude message on Manuel's answerphone.'
  • James Franco and his performance at the 2011 Academy Awards. Whether it was he being high during the ceremony or him simply being uninterested (some reports claimed that he wanted out due to a busy schedule but ABC and AMPAS refused to release him), he was singled out for everything that went wrong during the ceremony and his appearance was potentially a Star-Derailing Role.
  • Al Gore never actually said that he invented the Internet, but it's just too funny to forget.
  • To his co-workers Tory Belleci will always be "the guy who (rather unsuccessfully) tried to jump a bike over a little red wagon."
  • Bear Grylls drank his own piss, and...well...
  • Cat Stevens' highly successful musical career has been completely overshadowed by his conversion to Islam, which included being quoted as supporting the fatwa against Salman Rushdie (he's said that the quote was taken out of context, but still refuses to actually condemn the fatwa).
  • After a long movie shoot for So Undercover in New Orleans, Miley Cyrus and her friends have a goofy late night on the town. Miley curiously picks up a mysterious bottle off the street, sniffs it and giggles, and someone else obviously films the event on their smartphone. It turns out to be a bong of salvia (a legal substance, not to be confused with cannabis sativa, and not likely one Miley knew about when she picked up the object), and the video gets in the hands of TMZ, who make a major scandal of it in the media. Cue stories of Miley being a drug addict, etc. during an already controversial period in her life, at least by her already vicious hatedom. The video becomes infamous on YouTube, even though she apologizes for it later. What such a substance was doing in the middle of a New Orleans street anyway is never discussed.
    • Probably because it's New Orleans. We're quite used to strange things in the middle of our streets.
  • Tucker Carlson, to conservative pundits, is a respected thinker. To everybody else, he's "that guy who got utterly destroyed by Jon Stewart, and he wasn't even on 'The Daily Show'".
  • The single Sienna Miller and the married father of four Balthazar Getty's very public, very shameless, and very sleazy affair. Said affair cost Getty his role on the series Brothers and Sisters. Sienna Miller's whining to press about how everyone is so meeeaaaan to poor little her when she was called out on her behaviour didn't exactly endear her to the masses either (Perez Hilton gave her the less-than-charming nickname of Sluttyienna).
  • Despite his lengthy career, Dick Van Dyke still can't get over his awful attempt at an English/Cockney accent in Mary Poppins, even though he also played Mr. Dawes, Sr. so convincingly that the audience doesn't know it's him till the end credits.
  • Tom Wilson would like you to know that he's still an active comedian and musician, and would like to put his role as Biff in Back to The Future behind him. To avoid answering the same questions about the movie, he's made a song and a small card about his experience.
  • Chris Brown. Otherwise known as "that guy who beat up Rihanna".
  • Terrence "Baby Wipes" Howard earned his nickname after a Squicktastic interview in which he detailed the way he preferred women to clean themselves after using the bathroom.
  • Between Punk'd and Micheal Kelso, Ashton Kutcher has had a hard time shaking off the image the public has of him as a loud, obnoxious idiot. An image that for a time, movie executives were more than happy to appeal to.

Everyone Else

  • Henry VIII is sometimes thought of as having executed all six of his wives - this happened to just two (Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard). Two of the marriages Henry had annulled, another wife died in childbirth, and the last one outlived him. There's a handy mnemonic for this: Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived (even though it should be Annulled&Died-Annulled&Beheaded-Died-Divorced&Survived-Annulled&Beheaded-Survived). Still, seeing as the average persons kills zero wives in their life time it's easy to see why it's become so notable...
  • To the man on the street, Napoleon Bonaparte is not recalled for being a Magnificent Bastard, a military genius, for rising from very little to become the most powerful man in the world before he was thirty-five, or for establishing the Napoleonic Code. To the public at large, he's simply that short guy. In reality, he wasn't even short. That idea was mostly spread by British propaganda.
  • Erwin Schrödinger introduced the world to an equation as central to quantum physics as Newton's to mechanics or Maxwell's to electromagnetism, numerous methods for solving and interpreting it, and polyamory in the sciences. Yet what he's remembered for is a Crosses the Line Twice joke about the Copenhagen interpretation and torturing cats.
    • What makes this even more ironic is that most people think Schrödinger proposed his famous thought experiment in order to highlight how wonderfully weird the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics is. When, in fact, he proposed it in order to prove the Copenhagen interpretation wrong. That the cat is simultaneous alive and dead was meant to show how utterly insane the Copenhagen interpretation was, not to show deep physical insight.
  • Catherine the Great was an Enlightened Despot who reformed Russia, planned a coup to dethrone her husband, lead Russia into two successful wars against the Ottomans, and brought Russia into a more important role in European politics. What is she most famous for? The myth that she died while having sex with a stallion when it fell upon her. While she was known for her love life (notably with younger men), this myth is completely untrue since she died from a stroke. However, the myth manages to live on due to the fact its more exciting than what really happened, and is usually referenced in pop-cultural depictions of her.
  • Samuel Adams: A great patriot during The American Revolution, one of the Founding Fathers, was largely responsible for the Boston Tea Party. What's he remembered for? Beer. He wasn't even a brewer; he was technically a maltster.
  • Ethan Allen gets it even worse, though. Revolutionary War guerilla hero who, among other things, captured Fort Ticonderoga. If you mention his name today, most people will think only of the furniture company that was founded some 143 years after his death. Ethan Allen himself wasn't even a carpenter.
  • Criss Angel will never, EVER be left alone for "polluting" Cirque Du Soleil with Criss Angel Believe.
    • Similarly, Brazillian dancer and artist Deborah Colker has gotten this from Cirque fans over OVO, which she directed and choreographed, claiming her lack of vision ruins not just the show but Cirque as a whole.
  • Paris Hilton, before sex tape: obscure party-hopping heiress. After sex tape: slut. There's also the famous "Wal-mart" quote. Paris later claimed she was joking at the time. And the Hardee's commercial. That's about it, really.
    • She also tried to justify having cocaine in her purse by claiming that she thought it was gum.
    • Cirque Du Soleil fans will also never let her live down the time she and her sister Nikki ran up to someone in line for the premiere if "The Beatles LOVE", and asked Jeff, the creator of the Cirque Tribune (the fan site), if the line was for "Circus Olay".
  • Robert Ballard has admitted in interviews that his tombstone will state that he discovered the wreck of the Titanic, even though he's more proud of some of his other discoveries.
  • Every who hears the name "Fredric Wertham" thinks only of Seduction of the Innocent, the Comics Code, and The Silver Age of Comic Books, while his work on racial segregation is largely forgotten. Also, Seduction of the Innocent wasn't in favour of censorship; it was just a call for some type of rating system, similar to how movies are rated. The comic book industry overreacted and created what amounted to a "rating system" where the only rating was PG. Though in all fairness, many of Wertham's criticisms of superhero comics were uninformed.
  • Lizzie Borden was actually acquitted of axing her father and stepmother to death. Of course, she wouldn't be famous at all if it weren't for the rhyme.
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  Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her father 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her mother 41.

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  • It is doubtful whether William Archibald Spooner actually made most of the 'spoonerisms' attributed to him, nevertheless people believed he did even in his own lifetime much to his dismay. (He once told a crowd who asked him to make a speech "You don't want me to make a speech, you just want to hear one of those things!")
  • King Henry II of England. A great legislator and soldier-king who built an empire and gave it the rule of law, brought trial by jury to English Common Law (the basis of the legal systems of a hefty chunk of the planet, including America), built up the economy and brought an end to 20 years of brutal civil war, but you have one troublesome archbishop brutally murdered in his own cathedral...
  • Machiavelli was a strong supporter of republicanism and was even ambassador to France before the Medici regained power. But the only thing people remember about him is "The end justifies the means" and "It is better to be feared than to be loved," even though these lines were most probably written in a Stealth Parody.
    • Historically speaking, The Prince could aptly be subtitled "The game sucks and we all know it, but if one must play, this is how to win".
  • Richard Dawkins wrote some of the most popular and extensively-quoted books on evolutionary biology. These days, everybody knows him as the guy who wrote "The God Delusion" and is widely believed to be a frothing militant Social Darwinist who hates God, despite the fact that he does not advocate violence or force of any kind. He also gave us the term "meme".
    • Dawkins commonly makes the point that it is impossible to say with total certainty that there is no god (because outside of pure mathematics it's impossible to conclusively prove that anything doesn't exist). No matter how many times he says this, each restatement of the principle is quickly followed by journalists acting shocked at this softening of his views.
  • Formerly known for being disabled and for being a synonym for uber-genius, Stephen Hawking is probably best known for his robot voice.
  • Cammie Dunaway, leader of marketing for Nintendo, was practically unheard of until E3 2008 where she made an appearance and got rather "excited" about the casual games they were showcasing while being bad at the games and making some instant meme phrases. This made her instantly hated by Nintendo fans since they saw her as the worst incarnation of a casual gamer and feared Nintendo would go further in this direction. She got better in E3 2009, but people still have not forgiven her. Luckily, she has left Nintendo.
  • Peter Paul Rubens is a famous Baroque painter with many pieces of art of fully-clothed men and women. However, his name has become synonymous with full-figured women, whom he loved to use as nude models for his later works.
  • Despite being the 1991 United States Figure Skating Champion and carrying an underdog life story that might otherwise be a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, Tonya Harding is most associated with the infamous attack on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan by her husband and another man - an action in whose planning she may not have had any part at all. Go ahead, try to think of one media portrayal of her (entertainment or otherwise) in the past decade and a half that doesn't have her as a bullying Jerkass, or a Dirty Coward, or a walking panoply of all the worst stereotypes of the Deep South (despite the fact that she was born in Oregon).
  • It looks like it will happen here: "Sam Katz... he kicks children in the face."
  • Henry Ford may have created the U.S. auto industry by applying mass production techniques to cars, but these days he's probably more likely to be remembered for his anti-semitism, or his hatred of cows.
  • Saint Peter. Despite everything else in his life, and despite being a saint and dying as a martyr, is mostly known for lacking faith and denying Jesus. (Unless you're Catholic; the first thing that pops into your head may be "Pope". But aside from the "keys of heaven" and the inverted cross, traditional iconography still links him with the cock that crowed at his denial.)
    • Saint Thomas. The only apostle of Jesus known to preach the word outside of the Roman empire (he headed for India). Only witness of the assumption of Mary into heaven. Purported author of the most controversial non-canon Gospels. Still best known for the whole "Doubting" thing.
    • Judas Iscariot. All the stuff he must have done as one of Jesus' disciples before his Face Heel Turn (like preaching in pairs) is all but glossed over and people remember him best for his betrayal. The name Judas itself has never lived him down, becoming synonymous with traitor. In English Bible translations, the other Judas among the twelve apostles thus has his name rendered "Jude" while their names are identical in the Greek manuscripts.
  • John Sedgwick was a competent Union general regarded as a Father to His Men whose death was mourned by not only his own side, but Robert E. Lee as well. Unfortunately, he's more well known for the circumstances of his death, which have become the topic of humor.
  • Can anyone name anything by Vladimir Nabokov that isn't Lolita?
    • Anyone who has ever taken an AP English class will be very familiar will his lecture "Good Readers and Good Writers."
  • General Xiahou Dun is mostly remembered for being shot in the eye with an arrow, rather than his many accomplishments as a military leader. Though at least Romance of the Three Kingdoms let him also be (untruthfully) remembered for pulling out the eye and eating it directly afterwards.
    • Likewise, Liu Shan will always be remembered as the guy who destroyed Shu. Despite the fact that there were others who were responsible for Shu's downfall.
  • Mark Hamill will forever be known as Luke Skywalker.
  • Baseball player Fred Merkle is to this day known as "Bonehead" for an error that cost the New York Giants the 1908 pennant. While running to second base, Merkle saw the run that would win the game cross home, and headed to the dugout to celebrate, allowing the Cubs' second baseman Johnny Evers to nullify the run by forcing him out. What's not as well-known is that this was common practice at the time as the rule against it had never been enforced; it was just Merkle's bad luck that Evers was an expert on the official baseball rules.
  • Pat O'Brien covered the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, World Series, US Open tennis tournament, NCAA Men's basketball tournament, and Winter Olympics just to name a few for CBS during the 1980s and 1990s. He later transitioned himself into being an infotainment host for Access Hollywood and The Insider. Yet, these days, Pat O'Brien is probably more (in)famous for his creepily obscene drunken voice-mail messages.
  • As a young police captain in Toronto, William "Bill" Blair had a reputation for truly understanding community needs, building long-term friendships and making a difference in the city (through his work in drug enforcement, organized crime and major criminal investigations). In fact, his tenure as chief has been one of the most successful (he became the President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, was appointed an officer of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, and held some of the highest approval ratings for any Toronto police chief in many years). However, since the 2010 G-20 Toronto summit protests, he has been accused by the public of being a thug that detained more than 1,000 innocent civilians, mismanaged police resources and misrepresented the orders he was given by the Ontario government. Never mind that Black Bloc protestors from the U.S. had clearly decided to raise as much hell as they could in the city, never mind that officers underestimated the violence that would erupt (police cars were smashed and set on fire, stores were looted and officers were injured) and never mind that orders were muddled (both from the government to the chief and to the off-duty officers hired to police the summit). Blair admitted regret that he had misinterpreted government regulations at face value, but to some, he exemplifies everything wrong with police officers as a whole.
  • William Shockley was the inventor of the transistor, the foundation of the miniaturization of electronics and the subsequent computer revolution. Yet near the end of his life Shockley became a laughingstock and a pariah due to his dedication to what he considered his real life's work: eugenics.
  • Alan Turing is mostly remembered for being a homosexual scientist who killed himself with a poisoned apple. Of his actual scientific career, only Turing Test is somewhat common knowledge.
  • Nikola Tesla, sometimes called "the man who invented the modern world". Just about any modern appliance that uses electricity requires the use of a device that was invented by him, or is an adaptation of a Tesla design. What's he remembered the most for? "Inventing" the Death Ray, or other such fanciful weapons of mass destruction. In fact, modern interpretations of him tend to Flanderise into a Mad Scientist, despite the many, many legitimate contributions he made to the utilization of electricity.


Other

  • This is the reason there are, at times, laws in countries against stating the name of a person who is accused of committing a crime, or just convicted. Whether they are convicted or not, a condemning media can easily have them seen as a criminal regardless. This is more likely to apply to people who are legally children.
    • This can be exponentially worse with sex-related crimes, where even an accusation is something you might never be able to live down. And even if you're guilty only of something relatively minor, like public exposure, there's the sex offender registry to ensure you'll spend the rest of your life trying to convince new neighbors and bosses that you're not some kind of serial child rapist.
      • It gets worse when the said sex offender tries to get a job or move into a housing project, only to be turned away by employers who don't want a sexual predator working in their business and concerned parents not wanting the guy to be near their kids, even if he lives far away from a school. This forces the sex offenders to live in the streets homeless and may return to a life of crime. To quote a Cracked article on the topic of misaimed laws...
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  So you take a guy who's committed a crime. Now you put him on a registry that may keep him from getting a job, or making friends, generally just totally isolating him for the rest of his life and giving him lots of free time. Do you think that makes him less likely to commit another crime?

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  • A staple of basically every stand-up impressionist's act, except Pablo Francisco.
    • And in Pablo Francisco's case, what celebrities can Never Live Down is their own voices, which are used to hilarious effect simply because they are funny.
    • Similarly, Vaughn Meader, a best-selling comedian whose key act was his spot-on impersonation of John F Kennedy (one of his albums, The First Family, sold millions). Then Kennedy got assassinated, and his career was over, since no one could think of him doing anything else. Lenny Bruce opened his first performance after the assassination with "Whew! Vaughn Meader is screwed!"
  • Regular comics don't have it easy either. Seinfeld is known for "What's up with that?", especially "What's the deal with airline food?"
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys.
    • While we're at it, the French government's declaration that Chernobyl's radioactive cloud was somehow magically stopped at the French border still draws a lot of snark. Even though the sentence is a legend.
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  "Why close the airports? We all know the cloud will stop at the border as usual." — Public reaction to the 2010 Icelandic ash cloud approaching French airspace.

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  • All Germans Are Nazis.
  • White South Africans and Apartheid.
    • And for anyone who thinks that's justified, remember that there were quite a few white South Africans who opposed apartheid. And wrote passionately against it.
  • Quite a few Real Life fighter pilots get their callsigns from one embarrassing / memorable act, even if it was only a one-time event, or taken out of context. (Contrary to many works of Fanfic involving pilots, pilot callsigns are generally assigned, not self-selected.)
    • Example: There was apparently one young fighter pilot who wanted the callsign "Lightning," and tried to get everyone to call him that. His bug-eyed appearance and habit of bugging his seniors by telling them things they already knew about the aircraft got him named "Bug."
    • Another example: the first female tacair pilot at Miramar Air Base (Top Gun) was dubbed "Jugs" by the other Navy pilots. Apparently her... airframe... was fairly impressive.
    • One pilot went by the callsign Mogas (pronounced Mo-Gas) because he once realised that he needed more gas.
    • Mongo. Big man, small peach imspediment.
    • Gash. Tall guy, failed to duck enough when walking under a sidewinder missile mounted on his parked aircraft. Admittedly, much cooler nickname than "Stitches" could have been.
    • NPR interviewed a pilot whose callsign was Poo. He refused to go into detail as to how he got it.
    • Honestly, too many callsign stories to list here, but many, many, many, can be found with a Google search.
  • Marie Antoinette, for the (in)famous "Let them eat cake" line that she didn't even say. Although she got loads of worse associations in the century after the revolution, based on what the libel pamphlets claimed she did.
  • Gerald Ratner. He ran a company making very cheap jewellery. At one function, he said in his speech: "We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, "How can you sell this for such a low price?", I say, "because it's total crap." His company's stock dropped by £500 million and, in British business circles, such a gaffe is referred to as "a Ratner.
  • These days, the words "Catholic priest" have basically become synonymous with "paedophile" thanks to case after case worldwide of priests preying upon children -- many of them covered up by church authorities and only now coming to light. If it weren't for the cover-ups, no doubt more people would notice that the vast majority of priests aren't child molesters.
  • Pretty much anyone who is well-known mainly via supermarket tabloids.
  • The Space Shuttle Challenger completed nine successful missions before it exploded. But there are not mentions of those. From all the stories about it, you'd think it was the maiden voyage.
    • The Space Shuttle Columbia gets this sometimes, too, especially among younger people and it flew successful missions for TWENTY YEARS before it was destroyed.
    • NASA itself suffers from this. The organization that managed to put man in orbit, man on the moon, recover from a potential disaster in the middle of space, nearly 130 space shuttle missions, with a grand total of 17 fatalities (3 accidents: 1967 Apollo 1, 1986 Challenger, 2003 Columbia) in 40 years, and the only time they get attention (lately anyway) and thus cries for them to be shut down, is when an accident occurs.
      • In Apollo 13, it's pointed out that very few viewers tuned in to the liftoff and none of the networks aired an in-flight broadcast, but after the accident, suddenly everyone's interested.
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 Marilyn Lovell: I thought they didn't care about this mission. They didn't even run Jim's show.

Henry Hurt: Well, it's more dramatic now. Suddenly people are...

Marilyn Lovell: Landing on the moon wasn't dramatic enough for them. Why should NOT landing on it be?

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  • Philadelphia: They boo Santa Claus. Or they'll throw batteries at you.
    • And they also cheer when an opposing player suffers a serious back injury. And there was a courtroom set up in Veterans Stadium because there was so much violence and misbehavior going on.
    • And unlike most other cities, Philly fans and players are largely unrepentant about these types of misbehaviors and tend to openly relish brutal or violent gameplay.
    • Which should not be surprising at all, considering their NHL team's nickname is the "Broad Street Bullies," who pretty much punched their way to the Stanley Cup two years in a row in the 1970s and are still fairly well-known for playing with their fists before their sticks in the 2000s.
    • Cleveland Rocks: Where rivers are flammable. The infamous Cuyahoga River fire was forty years ago. It wasn't the first, but it did get them to clean up their act.
  • Kansas is forever seen as being stuck in the early 20th century, thanks to stuff like The Wizard of Oz, which was written and/or made in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century. That's like thinking that New York is still stuck in the late 1800's because you saw it in Gangs of New York.
  • The literary journal Social Text published a paper by physicist Alan Sokal that was a parody of postmodern philosophy as a protest against "fashionable nonsense" in the humanities. When the hoax was revealed, many people saw it as discrediting postmodernism.
  • The US joining the two world wars years after they had started, creating many 'late to the game' jokes throughout the decades.
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 Winston Churchill: You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.

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    • Whenever a 'Flavour 2' from Eagle Land gets into a fight about the wars with any other citizen from another nation, expect this to be brought up immediately after the American makes the obligatory "If it weren't for us you'd be speaking German!" comment.
      • If the hapless citizen being thus addressed is British, the obvious riposte is "If it weren't for us you'd be speaking Dutch".
    • Another thing bashers always bring up is the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
      • Going by lower limits of the number of Hiroshima and Nagasaki casualties and the 9/11 casualties (according to the other wiki), more civilians died in the first 4 months of the bombings than would have died in 50 WTC attacks. Of course, apples and oranges, but it could segue into a discussion about whether embargoing Japan constituted a declaration of war and the validity of pre-emptive attacks (vis a vis Pearl Harbor, the Iraq war and the September 11th attacks) which would be a marked improvement over mud slinging.
  • Pop quiz: Name the first thing that comes to mind when you hear "Pulaski, Tennessee"... other than "Birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan" (A stigma the town has been fighting for decades).
    • On the other hand, filmmaker Spike Lee seems to lay the blame for this on Indianapolis, Indiana. While it's true that Indianapolis probably had more Klansmen per capita than any other major American city in the early 20th century, it is clear that Lee Did Not Do the Research - which is rather disappointing, because (for his movies, at least) he usually does.
  • Devotional self-crucifixion only occurs among a very minor community in the Philippines, mostly around the city of San Fernando, Pampanga. Foreigners who hear about this are understandably extremely weirded out and think that the practice is not only common in the Philippines, it's accepted and encouraged. It is not: the Catholic Church refuses to endorse them. Outside of those certain communities, most Filipinos find such self-crucifixions unnecessary and unhealthy too.
  • Despite the fact that Macs have been able to use multi-button USB mice for years and that Apple's mice have been capable of right-clicking for a while, a lot of Mac haters still love to deride the Mac as a computer that only has one mouse button.
  • The Daily Mail will never live down how it once supported Hitler's Nazis; some people argue that it still does.
    • Not to mention being the Trope Namer for "Political correctness gone mad!" and other sensationalist headlines.
    • The whole Hannah Bond fiasco (where they described "emo" as some kind of malevolent cultish religion) has also firmly painted it as a terrible newspaper for a lot of young readers.
    • The Daily Mail is well-known for saying that most things will cause cancer based on scientific reports of this nature. Unfortunately, many elderly tend to believe this.
  • Anyone who is caught cheating on their spouse can fall under this. Many people today seem to be taught to never forgive or forget, as they will constantly remind the person that they are a horrible person because they cheated, even if they've done all they can to make up for it. It also doesn't help that many talk shows and TV drama shows display this type of behavior.
    • It also doesn't help that many caught cheaters (mostly men), along with many who simply don't subscribe to monogamy, will try to excuse their behaviors with the flimsiest of rationales: "It was just sex/a fling." "It didn't mean anything." "~I'm A Man, I Can't Help It~." Or the ever-popular "If I was getting what I needed at home..."
      • Given that in some countries adultery is a crime punishable by death (though in several of those countries a woman's testimony is not as reliable as a man's), a partner with a "zero tolerance" policy towards cheating is rather insignificant in comparison.
  • Joss Whedon's Firefly was set in a hybrid Chinese-American culture, yet none of the leads or speaking roles are ostensibly Asian. To this day, there is still Internet Backdraft around whether it's a simple accident due to being constantly Screwed by the Network, or an exhibition of a mentality that thinks of Asian culture as nothing more than window-dressing. For some of the worse detractors, they will claim that Joss "never" has any Asians in lead or speaking roles. Apparently Dollhouse doesn't count.
    • Firefly being canceled after a single season led people to believe that everything Joss touched was doomed to fail, and there were petitions to save Dollhouse before it even aired. Before Firefly, Joss had Buffy which ran 7 seasons, and was brought back after two series finales in season 3 and 5, and Angel, which ran five seasons. Despite its poor reviews and numbers, Dollhouse was allowed to return for a second season and a proper series finale. Yet people still act like Joss's series never make it past the first season.
  • 2010 - So you're a criminal organization in Denmark, with a fearsome name like: "The Black Cobras". Looking to make an impression on the world? Steal a ridiculous amount of snack cakes, never live it down thanks to an existing Memetic Mutation.
  • This is more or less the rule for all nicknames: commit one innocuously embarrassing act at the age of 8, and be nicknamed after it forever.
    • Scott Adams, in The Joy of Work, recommends not saying anything at all around witty people that they can use to make fun of you. He gives an example in which a speaker says they watched a movie last night, is called a "couch potato", and despite their best efforts is nicknamed "Spud".
  • ~4Kids Entertainment~ may be adamant about maintaining its policy of self-censorship, but compared to 6 years ago they have been more subtle about it, now largely relies on animation imported from countries other than Japan, and even placed subtitled episodes of some of their acquired anime on their Youtube channel. But none of this is going to change the minds of their many detractors until they see the company rot to the ground.
    • Not to mention that there are worse companies out there than 4Kids.
    • One Piece.
  • Anonymous really likes to do this to anyone who even so much as makes one stupid decision on the internet, especially if said person responds to any one of them. Yet another good reason not to feed the trolls.
  • Coca Cola is still ridiculed over New Coke. This despite the fact that the original Coke was already losing ground to Pepsi at the time, and that New Coke used the same formula as Diet Coke which was also outselling the original. Or that they switched back less than three months later due to the backlash. Apparently the stupidest thing a company can do is go with what looks like a good idea by the research and then quickly correct their mistake when it doesn't work.
  • Vauxhall, for creating the odd-looking (at the time) 1980 Vauxhall Astra, which is an automobile now Vindicated by History, but Convicted by Public Opinion at the time. Nevertheless, it sold well enough.
  • The one incident where the cafeterias of the US Congress and certain eating establishments in the US renamed French fries to "Freedom fries" and French toast to "Freedom toast". Because France didn't want to help them in the Iraq War. The world is NOT going to let America forget this.
    • This was not the first time this happened to the USA - many people still remember the infamous "Liberty cabbage" during WWII.
    • Adding another layer to this, the other Representative responsible for the change, Rep. Walter Jones, would later came out against the war in Iraq, calling his earlier support of it a mistake, making him one of a very few Republicans to repudiate the war. But he's still remembered for Freedom Fries more than anything else.
  • Lemmings. For the false assumption that they commit mass suicide, no less. What really happens is that some species of lemmings do mass migrations, and the migrating lemmings aren't smart enough to realize that some rivers and lakes are too wide to swim across, so they drown before before getting to the other side.
  • France. Once one of the biggest Badass nations in Europe, fighting The Empire Where The Sun Never Sets to a stand-still cold war for over a hundred years, not to mention helping Americans out in fighting for their independence. And at one time was even lead by a real-life Magnificent Bastard. Then, one day, they get ambushed by Germany, and suddenly they're the world's biggest pussies. For perspective, this is like if after Magneto ripped some of the adamantium out of his skeleton, everyone started calling Wolverine a wimp.
    • Within France, you have the descendants of Vendée, who simply won't forget the fact that their cause was lost in the French Revolution and their subsequent rebellion. Even the admiration and respect given them by Napoleon Bonaparte doesn't stop their rather persistent "defiance" to the Republic.
  • Thanks to the Lindy Chamberlain case, Dingoes are infamous worldwide for eating babies.
    • And Australians in general were left with the stigma of thinking a bereaved family member must have murdered the dead person themselves if they don't look sufficiently broken up.
  • Christian Science. Prior to 1990: A somewhat bizarre sect of Christianity that relies on the power of prayer for healing as opposed to medical treatment. After 1990: The church that killed Jim Henson. In actuality, Henson's upbringing in Christian Science was only one of a handful of reasons he put off treating the illness that claimed his life. Further, laypeople don't generally know that the church does, in fact, encourage medical intervention -- although only as a last resort.
    • Thanks to several fairly well publicized cases, Christian Science is becoming associated with parents who let their children die of conditions that are treatable, such as diabetes.
  • When most people think of Mormonism, they immediately think of polygamy, despite the LDS Church banning the practice in 1890. And magic underwear.
  • These days, BP is mostly remembered and hated for the oil spill. It doesn't help that they had all but disappeared off the map in the decade leading up to it.
  • Averted by Dow Chemicals, which acquired Union Carbide and found legal loopholes to make all of UC's obligations to clean up its horrendous chemical spill in Bhopal, India (a disaster 10-20 times worse than Chernobyl) simply disappear. Chernobyl is a Never Live It Down, but Bhopal is largely forgotten and Dow's image didn't suffer a bit.
    • This is probably because people in general have an irrational fear of radiation, such that nuclear disasters tend to be reacted to with a greater amount of panic than other types. Look at the press coverage of the Fukushima reactor disaster, which completely overshadowed the earthquake which set it off despite not a single person dying of anything radiation related; yet thousands died in the resulting tidal wave.
  • Fukushima is this to Chernobyl. Just when it looked like the world was finally going to get over its irrational fear of Nuclear power after Chernobyl, Fukushima gets hit with a double whammy earthquake, then tidal wave. Now you have people calling it the second Chernobyl, despite the fact only a fraction of the amount of radiation leaked. Fukushima is now rated on the same severity as Chernobyl; even though the area around it will be considered hazardous for decades to come due to the reactor materials buried around the site and sitting at the bottom of the nearby lake.
  • The Three Mile Island incident is still regarded as a terrible accident within America, going to far as to have it rated just 2 steps down from Chernobyl, even though no radiation leaked.
  • Sony having the PSN network hacked and the personal information of over 77 million users being compromised as a result. To make matters worse, they didn't inform their costumer base that their personal info was at risk until a week after it happened. With evidence surfacing on how poorly Sony handled sensitive info, no one will ever trust Sony with their personal data after this.
  • The M16 series has been the United States military's mainstay for half a century now. Thanks to both attempted sabotage and less-than-intelligent design decisions during the Vietnam War where it was first fielded, it has a reputation that would suggest it can't even fire a full magazine without some form of problem rendering it unusable (especially when compared to the "leave it in a swamp for a month and it'll still fire" AK-47s it was fighting against at the time).
    • And speaking of the AK-47, the AK series is probably never going to live down the fact that it is the most widely used assault rifle amongst terrorists, criminals and insurgents. Never mind that it is the basis of almost every assault rifle, SMG and marksman's firearm East of Germany and a few to the West, or that the AK-47 and its derivatives are used by just as many military and police agencies.
  • Despite the city of Pittsburgh getting rid of most of its steel industry, most people who have never been to Pittsburgh still remember it as the polluted Steel City.
    • The Pittsburgh Steelers might have something to do with that...
  • Arguably, this can happen in the case of radical or hard-line nationalists and revolutionaries. Imagine Mexico still viewing America as an evil enemy to this day over the Alamo and losing the Mexican-American War, and you get the idea.
  • Animals will be stereotyped accordingly to one trait, or one mishap by a member of the species. This is especially noticeable in Dog breeds; just ask anyone with a Pit Bull type breed.
  • The Boy Scouts of America going all the way to the Supreme Court to fight for their right as a private organization to forbid homosexuals from joining. The jokes about "gay bashing merit badges" likely aren't going to stop any time soon.
  • All psychologists sit in couches, talking about your mom.
  • Airlines who have major accidents can have this happen to them. Pan Am folded a few years after the Lockerbie bombing, and ValuJet changed their name to AirTran after Flight 592 crashed in the Everglades.
  • Ozzy Osbourne will always be remembered for biting the head off a live bat on-stage (he thought it was a prop, and there's debate as to whether or not the bat was already dead when it was handed to him.)
    • Better that than drunkenly peeing on the Alamo, which got him banned from Texas for nearly a decade.
  • Japan suffered this to an extent during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Look at all the Facebook reactions around the time the disaster happened and see how many consisted of variations on "That's for Pearl Harbor!" Because obviously Mother Nature is on America's side.
    • Not to mention all the Facebook users who posted those comments, as they were both guilty of Unfortunate Implications and Dude, Not Funny.
    • There were also people saying this kind of comment about almost every other kind of natural disaster - count how many people make comments of "Well your fault, you chose to live there" whenever a wildfire breaks out or a tornado blows away half the town.
      • Maybe not so much tornados, but building your house in a wildfire zone is rather inexcusable. The US Forest Service are smart people. They know all about forest fires and wildfires and will cheerfully tell you where there is a high risk of said forest and wildfires. If you build your house in one of said zones because of the pretty view, and a wildfire or forest fire occurs, like it does many a year, and then your house burns down, well, that's that. The same goes for flood and hurricane zones. You built your house on sand in a flood zone. Then a flood happens. This isn't in respect to people in developing nations who live in a mudslide zone but have no choice, this is more people who can build there house where ever they really please and do so in a bad area to build a house.
    • There was Sharon Stone on the Chinese earthquake
  • Assuming you trust that stories on The Daily WTF aren't made up, the conclusion of this story: Brad (probably not his real name) used to be known as the senior trader at Æxecor (probably also not its real name). Brad is now known as "the guy who bought an enormous pile of coal by accident".
  • The Canadian attitude towards Toronto is lukewarm at best. The stereotype is that Torontonians are self-centered, money-grubbing fussbudgets who panic at the mere mention of snow. Nowhere is this attitude more prevalent than Quebec, the Prairies and Northern Ontario. Imagine the reaction when, after a particularly nasty snowfall (about a metre; child's play for Quebec, the North or the Prairies) the mayor of Toronto called in the Armed Forces to assist. With snow. In Canada. You don't need to, actually. The reaction was laughter. Lots of it.
  • After a spate of crashes in The Seventies, the DC-10 got a reputation as an unsafe airliner, even years after some of its design flaws were fixed. Try mentioning the plane in an aviation forum some time.
    • Another plane that still generates a Broken Base is the F-104 Starfighter. The first reason was that it had developed a reputation as an unsafe and unreliable aircraft. Erich Hartmann, one of the first people to ever fly in a jet fighter and a commander in the West German Luftwaffe declared it unfit for Luftwaffe service. This was before the Starfighter was even introduced. The second was the Lockheed Bribery Scandals. It made it look like the Starfighter was so bad/dangerous to fly that you had to bribe some one to use it. Needless to say, there is still some argument as to if the Starfigher deserves that reputation or not.
  • From the way people talk about it, you'd think that nothing happened on any September 11th, ever, except for planes crashing into the World Trade Centre in 2001. Lampshaded in More Information Than You Require.
  • Ask anyone what immediately comes to mind when they think about Chicago, Illinois. One of the biggest cities in the Midwest? Final stop for cowboys on long cattle drives? The Sears/Willis Tower? Nope. Most of the time, it will be one of four things: Bootlegging, Al Capone, The Mafia and corrupt politicians.
    • Really? I would have thought... DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS....
  • Due to its heavy reliance on regular expressions and its extreme flexibility, Perl got a reputation as a programming language designed to create unreadable programs.
  • The "GOTO" command in Basic, Perl, and PHP: An article was written entitled "Goto considered harmful" -- one article, mind you -- and to this day people act as if inserting a single Goto into a program will render it indecipherable.
  • The reputation for plastic straws seems to be forever tarnished by a video that went viral in 2015, which showed a lone plastic straw being carefully pulled out of a sea turtle's nose. Since then, many places, mostly in the US, have proposed laws to ban them, either locally, nation-wide, or, in the case of the US, state-wide. All because of just one plastic straw getting stuck inside just one poor turtle's nose. Never mind that other plastic products, namely plastic fishing nets, do tons more damage to sea turtles and other sea animals than plastic straws ever will.

Notes

  1. For the record, Carter does not believe what he saw in 1969 was an alien spacecraft; he's of the opinion that it was probably a top-secret military experiment.
  2. About this Urban Legend: while a certain type of jelly doughnut is indeed called "Berliner" in parts of Germany, in Berlin itself, they are always called "Pfannkuchen" (pancakes) and the possibility to accidentally misunderstand the phrase is in any case zero.
  3. Because you obviously can explain that. Making his statement seem like an argument against himself
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