Critic Proof

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"Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar... If the public likes you, you're good."
Mickey Spillane

Sometimes, a movie, book, game, or song is released and the critics hate it. They just hate it. Entire forests are destroyed printing scathing reviews that dissect such media down to the bone, showing in every possible way that the general public should stay away in droves. But, no matter how bad they are... no matter how many bad reviews they receive, the public loves it. The movie becomes a blockbuster. The book sits atop the New York Times best-seller list. The game flies off the shelves and becomes a must-have. The song is on everyone's iPod...

The reasons for this phenomenon are myriad and diverse. Critics are often not fans of the source material being adapted, so they look upon things from a layman perspective. Some dislike the style and humor, preferring more "sophisticated" works. Sometimes the fans are so hardcore that they'd accept anything from the source, and sometimes, it's made to be fun. In fact, many who see/buy the work may not even think the best of it either, but it's familiar enough that it manages to stand out and market itself. Sometimes it's simply become popular through being So Bad It's Good.

When no critic in the world can affect a work's popularity, it is Critic Proof.

Compare Love It or Hate It, Critical Backlash and Critical Dissonance. Contrast with Confirmation Bias, Reviews Are the Gospel and Guilty Pleasure. Not to be confused with Protection From Editors.

Examples of Critic Proof include:


  • The much reviled Endless Eight episodes of the Haruhi Suzumiya second season were released in 4 DVDs. Given that said arc basically consisted of the same episode eight times in a row, it's surprising that the first two DVDs so far have sold (relatively) well.
    • So has the third. Though, to be fair, both the second and third sold half the first one (That one and the last are the only ones with SOME differences) did, but that's still more than many anime, so it still fits.
  • SHUFFLE!! got panned by review sites as just another annoying harem show, and even when it was first licensed, overwhelming opinion was that FUNimation must like losing money, because nobody would buy it. The DVD sales in the Anglosphere were a surprising success.
  • Pokémon. Despite not having any international theatrical releases since the Johto era, in Japan the twelfth film, Arceus and the Jewel of Life has become the highest grossing anime film of 2009.
    • People complain about the anime itself but it's still extremely, extremely popular.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny is very popular among the Japanese audiences, despite the disappointing reviews the series received.


  • Michael Bay films are like this.
    • Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen is currently the worst reviewed movie ever to earn $400+ million dollars at the domestic box office.
      • And it actually made 800 million plus worldwide, the first movie of 2009 to do so (even beating at least one of The Dark Knight's records) so it will take some beating.
    • Tranformers: Dark of the Moon (which got better reviews than Revenge of the Fallen, but still quite negative none the less) grossed over Billion dollars worldwide and is currently the 4th highest grossing movie. Ever.
    • Really, any Michael Bay movie is like this, not just the Transformers franchise. Despite the fact that if you looked at the internet or movie critic columns, you'd be hard-pressed to find a single person willing to admit to liking his movies, apparently everyone in America goes to see them. Twice.
  • The only entry in the Scary Movie series to get positive reviews was the first one. This didn't keep the others from making money.
  • The same thing happened with the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Especially for At World's End.
  • Rambo First Blood Part II was savaged by critics, but made triple its budget domestically and triple that internationally; Rambo III was only slightly better reviewed and didn't do so well domestically, but still did pretty well internationally. Both are now considered cult classics.
  • One might as well say "NOOOOO BAD REVIEWS EVEEER!!" when talking about Mommie Dearest.
  • The live-action Alvinandthe Chipmunks movies (The Squeakquel in particular) have received nothing but hate from most critics. That hasn't stopped either from being huge successes.
  • The Twilight films. Roger Ebert's reaction to New Moon, for example.
  • Wild Wild West. Not just critic proof, but star proof as well. Even the film's star Will Smith and director Barry Sonnenfeld said they realized the movie was crap. It didn't stop it from making a ton of money.
  • Many of Tyler Perry's movies, though not considered awful, are usually not liked by critics. However, his movies do extremely well with the African-American community.
  • Critic James Berardinelli used the trope name regarding Alien vs. Predator.
  • G.I. Joe the Rise of Cobra: Mostly for being purposeful Ham and Cheese.
  • Kevin Smith tried to invoke this with Jersey Girl by saying it "wasn't for critics". It didn't work so well. Then Penny Arcade tried to parody it by coming up with absurdist nonsense perpetrators Twisp and Catsby, and taunting all the critics who couldn't criticize them because it wasn't for them. This backfired on Penny Arcade as well, when Twisp and Catsby instead became insanely popular.
  • The mostly negative critical reviews for The Hangover Part II haven't stopped it from being hugely successful at the box office.
  • All of Seltzer and Friedberg's movies have had overwhelmingly negative reviews, but yet they still manage to do great at the box office (except Disaster Movie). Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans both debuted at #1 at the box office on their opening weekends, and Vampires Suck debuted at #2.


  • The Left Behind series. The books are really badly written, and there have been many articles written that give specific examples of just how stupid the characters act. Even the theology behind it is suspect—even from the perspective of Evangelical Protestant Christianity. But the target audience strongly believes in the books' message and don't really care how much bad dialog, plot holes, and unrealistic action get in the way of what's important to them.
  • Dan Brown's bibliography has ascended to this.
  • The various books in the Twilight saga. The publishers must love Stephenie Meyer because no matter how much people hate the books... they still continue to sell.
  • A fictional version, from Ben Bova's Cyberbooks: at a meeting in a publishing house, the staff discuss the latest "Sheldon Stoker" manuscript and judge it to be complete rubbish, but a guaranteed best-seller. They recommend "Hold our noses and buy it."
  • As the above quote demonstrates, best-selling author of the Mike Hammer series Mickey Spillane is this. He also admits that he's Only in It For the Money:

I have no fans. You know what I got? Customers. And customers are your friends.
Inspiration is an empty bank account.

Live Action TV

  • TV Guide had a review trashing a Goosebumps special. Kids watched it anyway.
  • Many retro-style American sitcoms that are So Okay It's Average, but target the Lowest Common Denominator. Critics wish they'd try for the bigger laughs. The networks don't care, since dedicated fans don't "count" any more than folks who watch because they have free time and could use a cheap chuckle.
  • Oz never got the kind of acclaim that other HBO shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and Sex and the City did. Nevertheless, it had (has) one of the staunchest fan bases and was one of the network's highest rated shows.
  • Critics were largely dismissive of Stargate Atlantis, regarding as a pale imitator of Stargate SG-1. Nevertheless, it was an excellent ratings performer for Sci-Fi Channel.
  • My Family has been slaughtered by critics, and even the stars refused to film one episode because it was so bad. Yet it's one of the UK's highest rated sitcoms and has aired over ten series.
  • Victorious. Upon its opening release, it was unfavored by critics and they were disappointed in the direction Dan Schneider went in. Someone even called it "the big loser", but it is still liked by lots of people and currently the third highest ranked show on Nickelodeon (behind SpongeBob SquarePants and iCarly). It also has a much higher ranking on sites like iMDB and than its competitor Shake It Up.
  • The Secret Life of an American Teenager
  • Pretty much any user of any website out there will take any excuse to explain to you that The Big Bang Theory is terrible, not funny, "bigoted" against nerds, and nobody really watches it. Pointing out that it's not only still on the air but consistently remains at or close to #1 in its time slot inevitably causes confusion and anger.


  • In music, just about any re-united band. A band that broke up 20 years ago and are now making a new album? It'll sell huge. Reunion tour? Sold out. No matter how poorly the members have aged, no matter how different their new music is, it'll all make a ton of money.
    • Case in point: the Spice Girls' brief reunion. Even if it was only for a couple of months, it made seventy million dollars.
  • Rascal Flatts (formerly on Disney's now-defunct Lyric Street Records). Their albums Me and My Gang, Still Feels Good and Unstoppable have all been called mediocre to horrible by music critics. The main points of derision are the slick, bombastic production, often weightless lyrics[1] and ear-splittingly whiny oversinging. It gets even worse when one realizes that there actually are some decent songs on each of these albums,[2] but outside "Why" (which bombed spectacularly), none of what fans consider the "better" songs were released to radio.
    • This is finally being averted with their first album for Big Machine Records, which is a lot more substantial and far less bombastic.
  • Both Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were dismissed by critics in their early years, which didn't stop them from becoming very popular anyway. Nowadays the critics are usually more appreciative, however.
  • Grand Funk Railroad was largely savaged by critics and even found themselves at the butt of an urban legend, yet found significant commercial success even outside the Lowest Common Denominator. As Snopes put it:

And Grand Funk wasn't an act of the cute, well-groomed, sugary variety (like their contemporaries the Osmonds or the Bay City Rollers, or later entries such as the Spice Girls or the Backstreet Boys) who garnered huge followings by appealing to prepubescent girls or drooling adolescent males -- their records were bought by, and their concerts attended by, "real" rock fans.

  • Nickelback has been widely panned by critics and were once voted the worst band of all time. It didn't stop them from selling 30 million albums worldwide.
  • A lot of late-1970s/early-1980s AOR bands were despised by critics while still selling multi-platinum albums. None got it worse than Toto, who were accused of using their industry connections (they'd all been prolific session musicians before they formed the band) to rig the Grammy Awards in 1983.
  • In the 1980's, Stevie Nicks was commonly dismissed by "highbrow" rock critics (Rolling Stone was particularly egregious in this regard) who fawned on her former lover and current bandmate Lindsey Buckingham, notwithstanding that his albums were only a fraction as popular as hers. Many of those same critics did a perfect volte-face and hailed her as an elder stateswoman of rock and roll in the late 1990's and 2000's.
  • Music critics hated the entire Hair Metal genre during the 1980s, but that didn't stop it from becoming the biggest music genre in the world during that decade. When Grunge became popular in the early 1990s and pushed hair metal out of the spotlight those critics breathed a sigh of relief and embraced the "earthy, genuine, and intelligent" new rock genre. In the last few years, how ever, Hair Metal has experienced a resurgence in popularity with bands like Motley Crue and Poison having highly successful tours, with some of these bands even releasing new albums.
  • Practically every music fan out there will tell you it's an objective fact that "new" Metallica is vastly inferior to the "old version" of the band. (Meaning, they changed their style up somewhat in recent decades.) And yet they still continue to sell as if they were, well, Metallica.
  • The inverse effect can be observed with various bands that are often declared some of the greatest and most influential bands of the rock genre... and yet their album sales are continuously tepid and they can barely fill cheap bar venues let alone being offered stadiums to play in.


  • The Jewish/Irish ethnic comedy play Abie's Irish Rose opened on Broadway in 1922, and quickly became a laughingstock of theatre critics. It closed five years later, having run longer than any previous Broadway show.
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber's Eighties musicals Cats and The Phantom of the Opera were—and are to this day—heavily criticized as empty Spectacle, but were phenomenally successful with audiences anyway.
  • The Les Misérables musical was panned by critics after the first performance in the 1980s. The cast expected empty seats at the next performance, yet word Of Mouth by theatregoers who absolutely loved it ensured that now, even 25 years later, it's a box office hit.

Video Games

  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has critic immunity concerning the game soundtrack. Even those who criticized everything else about the game have yet to slag off on the soundtrack.
  • Backyard Sports. There are new editions every year and the games keep selling. IGN and G4 continue to hate the series, though (they both thought it was average at the beginning, then they considered it one of the worst game series of all time).
  • Most EA Sports franchises, though FIFA and NHL have been acclaimed in later years. Part of FIFA's success should be credited to the poor job Konami did with Pro Evolution Soccer on the last couple years.
    • Pretty much every sports or shooter franchise is this, Call of Duty being the biggest target for being "terrible" games that consistently sell ridiculous numbers, with some muttering about "dudebros" being the only explanation the critics can offer.
  • Enter the Matrix sold 5 million copies despite being panned by critics (and many gamers, after they bought it).
  • Gamespot gives out an annual "Worst Game Everyone Played" award. Past winners include:
  • Licensed games in general. Just look at the above "Worst Game Everyone Played" winners.
  • Post-Sonic Adventure Sonic the Hedgehog games. For all of the bitching from the Unpleasable Fanbase and Caustic Critics about how the series gets Ruined FOREVER more and more every year, the games are consistent million sellers. Finally averted with the one-two punch of Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, which garnered a lot more praise from critics than the other recent entries.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons. While many fans feel that the show has gotten stale and repetitive over the years, that certianly hasn't stopped it from getting high ratings every week.
  • Family Guy. Despite getting a considerable amount of Hatedom since its resurrection in 2004, it's still one of FOX's highest rated shows.
  • Cars 2 is Pixar's worst reviewed animated film (currently in the below 40% range at Rotten Tomatoes), but that hasn't stopped the film from making huge bucks at the box office.
  1. (prime example: "There's a place I've been looking for / That took me in and out of buildings, behind windows, walls and doors")
  2. (for instance, "Ellsworth," "I Feel Bad," "He Ain't the Leavin' Kind" and "Backwards" from Me and My Gang were generally loved by critics)