Critical Dissonance

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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    "I've made hundreds of legendary records that people talk about that didn't sell."

    Jerry Wexler

    Critical Dissonance is polar opposition of public to critical opinion. For instance there's a music album the critics love, but the general public doesn't share their high praise for said album, or vice versa where the critics hate it but the general public loves it.

    Critics may look down on a popular work on principle, denouncing it as Lowest Common Denominator garbage that's all flash and no substance. Conversely, the public may see a work beloved by the critics as boring, angsty and pretentious drivel engineered solely to win awards from boring, angsty and pretentious Academy members.

    Sometimes later opinions can match, and then we have Vindicated by History, but not always.

    Some media are less affected by this than others. In general, this trope has historically been uncommon with video games, partly due to the far greater reliance on reviews among gamers, and partly because the technical side (gameplay, graphics, etc.) tends to carry more weight with games than with books or TV—and good gameplay is much more black-and-white than a good story, writing, or acting. When Critical Dissonance does occur with games, it is more often than not because gamers thought that the critics had been overly kind (like the Four Point Scale), had arguably been paid upfront by the publishers as part of an advertising and/or first look article special, or in a worst case scenario, that the critics in question lack a proper reference frame. The latter may apply to critics of other media though.

    See also Critical Backlash, Critic Proof, Bias Steamroller, It's Popular, Now It Sucks, Opinion Myopia, 8.8 and Oscar Bait. Could overlap with Pop Culture Isolation and Acclaimed Flop. Contrast with Cult Classic where a work tends to have neither critical acclaim nor general popularity, but is enjoyed by die hards.

    Examples of Critical Dissonance include:


    • Abstract art by established artists in general. Might be a work of genius to critics, worth millions of dollars to collectors, but the general public goes, "What the hell is so special about a blank canvas/a black square on white ground/paint splattered at random?"
    • On the rare occasions public input is sought on architecture, it tends to favor classicism, stateliness, and pre-Bauhaus ornament. For generations, though, architecture criticism (and practice) has been a largely closed shop dedicated to either spare modernism or deconstructive, pomo building-block structures.
    • The works of Thomas Kinkade, "Painter of Light," are so enormously successful that his distributor claims that his works can be found in one American home in twenty. Art critics lambast his Sugar Bowl themes and subjects while dishing out backhanded praise for his marketing savvy.
    • Almost exactly the same things said for Kincade apply to Scottish painter Jack Vettriano except replace Sugar Bowl themes with softcore porn as the core criticism. Like Kincade, Vettriano makes more money of prints of his paintings than selling the works himself, they are popular in coffee shops and Italian restaurants. Scottish sculptor David Mach has called this attitude to Vettriano's paintings "artworld snobbery".


    • The entire career of Michael Bay is built upon this. The only film of his to get any respect from critics is The Rock, and that's likely due to Rule of Sean Connery.
      • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen deserves special mention, as it has been noted by many in the media as one of the best examples of this trope in modern film. The movie was one of the biggest box office successes of the decade, but was violently trashed by both critics and fans of the original cartoon.
      • Happening again with the third film, Dark of the Moon. So far it's received mediocre reviews from critics but audience consensus seems to be quite positive (even compared to the previous movies), with a few people providing solid arguments for why DOTM is actually a really good movie.[1]
        • Interestingly enough, the first film in the franchise actually got far better reviews on average from both critics and the core fanbase. Whatever people liked about that film clearly wasn't in, or built upon in the sequels. Likely due to complaints about the sequels not having enough character development for the transformers, and waaay too much human screen time (the first movie had far more human screen time than either of the last two movies, Fan Dumb but this was a common complaint from all quarters about them).
      • Earlier, Transformers: The Movie (1986) got trashed by critics for being "a 90 minute film about toys". Despite this, it's a fan favorite, even among some newer Transfans.
    • Similarly, the films of Roland Emmerich.
    • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was a critically acclaimed flop at the box office, but most people who did see it really enjoyed it. The film was later named Most Overlooked Movie Of The Year.
    • The original Night of the Living Dead if you believe that. Initial reaction by the critics was mixed to negative, while horror fans thought it was groundbreaking (but even some of them were shocked by it). but a decade later it was Vindicated by History. Roger Ebert tried to explain the critical dissonance, saying "I don't think the audience really knew what hit them."
    • The Last House on the Left remake. The general public was surprisingly accepting of the movie, while the critics were split.
    • Taken: the public loved it but critics were lukewarm to negative about it.
    • The Boondock Saints. An example: film critics gave it 17% on Rotten Tomatoes while fans gave it over 90%.
    • The Wesley Snipes crime drama Sugar Hill (not to be confused with the blaxploitation/zombie film of the same name) is considered an urban cult classic. Critics were less enthused by the film, although lone critic Roger Ebert said it was one of the best films of 1994.
    • The Notebook has considerable praise by the general public, but major reaction from critics was mixed. A good example of this is the IMDB rating (7.9 out of 10) compared to the Rotten Tomatoes rating (52%).
    • Movie critics in general tend to be biased against genre films (horror, fantasy, sci-fi). Of particular note in horror are the Friday the 13 th and the Saw series: the first movies of each franchise received only mediocre reviews while the sequels have been dismissed nearly on principle, but both have gathered a devoted following among horror fans.
      • There are exceptions to this, but the genres have to be toned down. For instance, critics are a little bit more accepting of Low Fantasy to High Fantasy, Psychological/Supernatural Thrillers to pure Horror, and Hard Sci-fi to Pulp Sci-Fi. To be fair, this also goes for the viewing public as well. Exemplified by The Last Exorcism below.
    • Summer blockbusters likewise tend to fare much better with the audience than the critics; one of the modern Trope Codifiers was Independence Day, and the Transformers film series has continued the tradition. Much like horror films, the dissonance here arises from professional critics approaching the movies on a much different level, and with entirely different expectations, than the intended audience.
    • Critics generally liked Slither. The public? Not so much.
    • The live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks movies (The Squeakquel in particular) have received nothing but hate from most critics. That hasn't stopped the three films from being financially successful. The fact that The Squeakquel outsold The Princess and the Frog made Disney fans join the critics, and It Got Worse in 2011 when the third film (Chipwrecked), while not as high a grosser as the previous two entries, outperformed The Muppets, Hugo, Arthur Christmas, The Adventures of Tintin and We Bought a Zoo -- all of which received significantly better reviews.
    • Both 2000s Fantastic Four movies were disliked by the critics in general, but both were box office hits.
    • All four live-action Resident Evil movies got negative reviews, but they were successful at the box office.
    • The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford was a massive critical success and made nearly every Film of the Year list of that year, topping several, and was particularly praised for its lead perfomances, music and cinematography. It flopped and made a measly $15m, about half of its budget, and only received nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Cinematography, winning neither. It very likely failed due to its somewhat slow pace and running time (the titular event occurs about two hours into the movie, but the movie continues for another half hour), and possibly due to its Deconstruction of popular Hollywood History by portraying (accurately) the title Anti-Hero as a cold, violent, Ax Crazy sociopath rather than a brave and daring Robin Hood-type.
    • All of the films of Friedberg and Seltzer were panned by professional critics and Internet reviewers alike, but (apart from Disaster Movie) they all made enough money to be profitable given their low budgets.
    • Gothika made back more than triple its $40m budget despite being critically reviled.
    • The Thing retroactively is this. It counts due to the fact that people like it now, but most mainstream critics haven't changed their negative opinions about it, unlike say Blade Runner.
    • Patch Adams was panned by critics and a lot of people hate it (including the man it's based on), but it was successful at the box office.
    • The first Home Alone film got mixed reviews and the second was utterly panned, but both were box office successes, have become beloved Christmas fixtures and Kevin's scream face has become almost as much of a pop culture icon as the Munch painting that inspired it.
    • It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns, every Stanley Kubrick film and Psycho weren't taken seriously by a good chunk of professional critics, despite being popular from the start. They have thankfully all been Vindicated by History.
    • The 2009 Canadian film Splice was a critical hit due to being different than most horror films. Audiences, meanwhile, got turned off by it for the same reason (along with a certain sex scene).
    • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. A critical darling, that nobody cared about outside the cult following. Selling big time on home video, due to positive word-of-mouth, and the slight success of the comic series it was based on.
    • Same could be said for the film Runaways.
    • The Hurt Locker was said to be a realistic war movie by the critics, but not so much by the audience. Indeed, most former and current military personnel that have seen it, especially Iraq vets, complain of lack of realism and thought that the director was trying to mock them. It also attracted near universal critic acclaim, but became the lowest grossing Best Picture Academy Award winner of all time. Meanwhile, some moviegoers have argued that the award should have belonged to Avatar or Inglourious Basterds.
    • The Hangover Part II. Critics bashed it (for among other things, recycling the plot while adding gross-out factor), audiences loved it.
    • Cars 2 was not well-received by critics (38% on Rotten Tomatoes) but audiences are flocking to it like they did with the first.
    • Johnny Depp's 2000s and 2010s films at Disney—the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels and Alice in Wonderland—have been pilloried by critics, complete with cries of despair that he's squandering his gifts by sticking with such Large Ham, Spectacle-driven fare instead of the more challenging roles he built his artistic reputation on. Nevertheless, audiences flock to them (the third and fourth Pirates films and Alice have all pulled down grosses of over a billion dollars each worldwide).
    • Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life is quickly heading this way. Althought at the time of its premiere critics were divided (receiving both booes and standing ovations at the Cannes), right now it has achieved a 85% at Rotten Tomatoes. It has been known that certain cinemas have received complains of people asking for their money back. It's no help that the film may be the most beautiful examination of life or the biggest example of how True Art Is Incomprehensible.
    • The Butterfly Effect got a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes but a 7.7/10.0 on IMDB.
    • The works of Tyler Perry get consistent negative reviews from critics, but fan response (more specifically the actual target demographic) is positive.
    • Moonraker is widely thought of as one of the worst James Bond movies, if not the worst, but it was the highest grossing film in the franchise until GoldenEye was released.
    • The Underworld movies all got mediocre-to-negative reviews from critics, but each one was a box office hit and audience reviews were much more favorable.
    • Haywire was well-received by critics (80% on Rotten Tomatoes), who are usually familiar with Steven Soderbergh's films, but hated by audiences (a D- on Cinemascore) who expected more of a Hollywood-style action film (the film was even promoted as being like the director's Ocean's Eleven). The same thing happened with the director's Contagion, which had an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes but a C- on Cinemascore (but least was profitable with over $135 million worldwide, unlike Haywire, which barely recouped its budget).
    • One for the Money. A whopping 2% on Rotten Tomatoes, but fans are somewhat more forgiving.
    • The film adaptation of The Lorax has received very mixed reviews from critics with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 57%. Audiences, to put it mildly, are less divided.
    • Wild Hogs has a whopping 14% average based on over 100 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite that, it returned over 4 times its Budget in the Box Office, and Audience Reaction was far more positive (it holds a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes.)
    • Pokémon the First Movie did poorly with critics, but ended up being the highest grossing anime film released in the United States. While most audiences certainly didn't love it, it did fairly well with fans. Same goes for the other Pokémon movies.
    • Chris Farley and David Spade's movies together, Tommy Boy and Black Sheep, were both poorly received by critics (the former made Roger Ebert's "Most Hated Films" list, and Gene Siskel proudly said the latter was one of only two movies he'd ever walked out on in 26 years of reviewing), but they were well received by audiences.
    • Act of Valor was poorly received by the critics (29% on Rotten Tomatoes) but the audience as a whole tend to love it (84% on the same website).
    • Orson Welles' most famous movie, Citizen Kane, was received with critical acclaim and box office indifference.
    • The Life of David Gale earned a lot of hatred from critics and failed at the box office, but users on IMDb were more forgiving, as it has a 7.3/10 and 80% of users on Rotten Tomatoes enjoyed it.
    • Punch-Drunk Love ended up being Adam Sandler's most critically acclaimed movie, but also his least financially successful one.
    • Despite really not being that bad of a movie (when compared to some of the other comedy films out there, at least), Joe Dirt has a 10% critic score (in other words, literally Freddy Got Fingered's Rotten Tomatoes critic score) on Rotten Tomatoes, despite also having a 63% audience score on said website. In fact, Freddy Got Fingered itself, as amazingly bad as it is, has a 56% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
    • For the most part, actual film critics find the incredibly over-hyped Avengers: Infinity War to be "good but not quite great" (which basically is what it actually is), but if you ask almost any true "super fan" of Marvel about how much they enjoyed IW, you should definitely be prepared to hear/see said fan telling you that it should have won "best movie of its year" awards. Oh, and do not even get us started about's unbearable fetish for MCU movies.
    • While most critics that actually do remember how much the first Incredibles movie lived up to its name (particularly some of the ones on YouTube, such as Ralph The Movie Maker and Schaffrillas Productions) will tell you that The Incredibles 2 was painfully average and was a complete mockery (not to mention a complete rehash) of its predecessor, Rotten Tomatoes clearly does not agree (the critic score that Incredibles 2 has on said site is 93% rather than the 97% that Incredibles 1 has, while the audience score that Incredibles 2 has on said site is 84% rather than the 75% that Incredibles 1 has). As for IMDB, Incredibles 2 has a 7.6/10 score there while Incredibles 1 has an 8/10 score there.
    • The Room, being a definitive example of So Bad It's Good, has a somewhat mild but still very notable example of this, with its Rotten Tomatoes critic score being 25% while its Rotten Tomatoes audience score is 47%.
    • Even ignoring the infamous "black cast = good reviews" controversy that always has surrounded Black Panther ever since its release, said film's Rotten Tomatoes critic score is 96% while its RT audience score is 79%.
    • Troll 2, being another definitive example of So Bad It's Good, has a Rotten Tomatoes critic score of 6% while also having a Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 44%.
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, despite DC fans constantly bashing it for its emo-ness, has a Rotten Tomatoes critic score of 28% while also having a Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 62% and an IMDB score of 6.4/10.
    • Suicide Squad has a Rotten Tomatoes critic score of 27% while also having a Rotten Tomatoes audience score and an IMDB score that basically are both 6/10.


    • A fan of the cult-classic book (and movie) Mommie Dearest would probably be shocked to find how much critics hated it. Faye Dunaway said she wished she didn't act in that movie after it hurt her career.
    • Dan Brown's books tend to get this, but none as much as The Da Vinci Code. Absolutely despised by critics, but some of the most successful books out there. That being said, a study found that, in the UK, The Da Vinci Code is the book most frequently donated to charity shops. The public certainly bought many copies of it; that's not to say they enjoyed it.
    • The Twilight Saga gets a mention here too. Extremely successful(in its target market, at least), but there's a much larger number of people who will avoid it like the plague.
    • The Mike Hammer books by Mickey Spillane were hated by critics back in the day, and to a great extent they still are. On the other hand, in 1980 Spillane was responsible for seven of the top 15 bestselling books in America, and his books have been adapted into successful movies, TV shows and radio dramas.

    Live-Action TV

    • Full House and many other "T.G.I.F." family sitcoms had a large amount of this. Critics despised Full House, yet it was a ratings smash, and started off the Olsen Twins' career (which also had Critical Dissonance -- Roger Ebert once stated that they had no talents any normal person could have).
    • Many popular sitcoms in the modern era apply. Two and A Half Men is so hated even Chuck Lorre admits it, yet it's one of the highest-rated shows in its era. According to Jim always got solid ratings, despite being considered one of the most plain, generic, and dull sitcoms of all time.
    • Early (pre-1965) television in general was often dismissed by critics as the entertainment equivalent of junk food, to the point where, in 1961, none other than the chairman of the FCC described it as a "vast wasteland".
    • The fifth season episode of How I Met Your Mother, "The Rough Patch", exemplifies this on a single-episode scale. It was the culmination of the writer's attempts to break up Robin and Barney throughout the entire season after the entire fourth season had been spent getting them together. The episode was highly rated by critics for the exaggeration by Future!Ted's narration in the form of Barney's fat suit and Robin's haggard appearance. This had the effect of undoing over a season's worth of Character Development for Barney and broke up what is the Fan-Preferred Couple for a large portion of the fanbase because the writer's wanted to prove that the relationship wouldn't work, despite the chemistry the two actors displayed.
    • The comedy Mrs. Browns Boys has been slated by critics, who hate its bawdy humour, yet is very popular with the viewing public.
    • I'll Fly Away was a MASSIVE critical darling but had terrible ratings. Most seem to blame it on the setting. It was set during the late 1950s and early the south, so yeah. I'll Fly Away did however win two 1992 Emmy Awards (Eric Laneuville for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Directing in a Drama Series for the episode All God's Children, and for series creators Joshua Brand and John Falsey for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Miniseries or a Special), and 23 nominations in total. It won three Humanitas Prizes, two Golden Globe Awards, two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Drama Series, and a Peabody Award. However, the series was never a ratings blockbuster, and it was canceled by NBC in 1993, despite widespread protests by critics and viewer organizations.
      • After the program's cancellation, a two hour movie, I'll Fly Away: Then and Now, was produced, in order to resolve dangling storylines from Season 2, and provide the series with a true finale. The movie aired on October 11, 1993 on PBS.
    • The Wire was hugely acclaim, but hardly anybody watched it. Plus it was generally snubbed. Some blamed this on the fact the cast was mostly black.


    • The Levellers album Hello Pig was regarded by many critics to be the band's breakthrough that was going to catapult them mainstream. deviating from their formula. Of course, the fans hated it.
    • A lot of Michael Jackson's later work suffers from this. Critics liked them, but the public were usually split. One explanation is that he reverted back to his R&B roots later in his career causing a Broken Base (among other issues, of course.).
    • Speaking of Jackson, Janet Jackson's Damita Jo album falls into this category. Fans think it could have done well, while critics bashed it post Super Bowl controversy.
    • A lot of Eazy-E's solo work (sans EP It's On 187um Killa, and debut album Eazy-Duz-It) is hated by critics and is usually criticized for being cartoonishly violent, especially the 51/50 album. But the fans feel that 51/50 was a genuinely good album.
    • Almost every VH-1 You Oughta Know and MTV BUZZ artist counts. Critics gush over these artists (usually for good reasons), but the general public seems to be indifferent.
      • Bumblebeez: Critics said they were gonna be huge and be the Australian version of the Neptunes.
      • Leela James, and almost every other Neo-Soul artist. D'Angelo, Alicia Keys, and Maxwell are the only ones that ever had huge success, and only Alicia has been able to maintain it (Although to be fair Alicia tweaked her sound on her last two CDs, less soul and more generic power pop ballads). It also probably had something to do with the evolution of the term "neo-soul" itself. In the 90s, it was Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a new wave of artists who approached their music with the same philosophy as classic soul musicians. But as these artists found mainstream success around the turn of the millennium, "neo-soul" came to be applied to any black singer who appealed to people over 25. Because of this, many fans who took the term to heart failed to see what the big deal was and gave up on the genre altogether.
      • Hip-Hop act Little Brother, possibly derailed by The Powers That Be, depending on who you ask.
        • It didn't really help either that the group went on hiatus around the time they were getting hyped.
      • Ditto for rap group Dead Prez had huge buzz leading up to their debut album. When the album dropped critics ate it up, but the public mostly ignored it.
      • Critics claimed that the unassuming neo-psychedelic act The Mooney Suzuki were supposed to be the band that changed Alternative Rock in the 2000s. Then The Strokes and The White Stripes happened.
        • Critics later turned their backs on the group, as their last two albums were received poorly, despite the fact that the title track song from their third album ("Alive & Amplified") finally became the minor hit that had long alluded them.
      • Indie rockers The Brian Jonestown Massacre are loved by critics but seem to intentionally sabotage themselves every time another wave of hype and potential commercial breakthrough comes their way.
      • Many music critics were expecting big things from indie band The Lemonheads, who were supposed to be the next Nirvana, or at least the New Important Alternative Band of the 90s. The band never found a breakthrough single and just sort of disintegrated.
      • Most of MTV's "Buzz" artists didn't pan out. With a few notable exceptions (Garbage, Foo Fighters, Beck), the bands featured became cult favorites at best and One-Hit Wonder flame-outs at worst (anyone remember Jimmie's Chicken Shack?).
        • A lot of BET's Next artists didn't pan out either. So much so they don't even attempt to break buzz worthy artists anymore. In fact they ignore them and stick to the more accessible artists.
      • Enigmatic R&B singer Res is a solid example of this trope, Critically acclaimed but her career just fizzled out
      • And before Res there was Davina (remember her!?).
      • Nikka Costa: critics were saying she was gonna be huge...well.
      • Some are already cynically predicting this for Grace Potter & The Nocturnals.
      • Before Res but after Davina there was also Amel Larrieux. A critical darling who got rave reviews but was shunned by both the public and music networks.
    • The alternative rap group Arrested Development's second album was dismissed by critics but a lot of fans felt it's an overlooked masterpiece due to Hype Backlash. Fans (especially overseas fans) felt that America let a outstanding group fall through the cracks.
    • Billy Joel may be the Trope Codifier. Throughout his career he has received mostly unfavorable or mediocre reviews from several critics. Try telling that to the fans who bought all of his multiple Gold and Platinum records.
    • Tori Amos's 1996 album Boys For Pele was bashed by critics when it was released. Nevertheless, it's a fan favorite that is considered to be among her best work.
      • The album has found itself Vindicated by History, as by the late 2000s many music critics and experts have also come to acknowledge it as being one of the best from its genre and time period. It has been theorized that the album's poor response at the time was due to its sound being such a dramatic departure from Amos' first two albums.
      • Kate Bush's 1982 album The Dreaming suffered this too.
    • For both Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, their first few albums were critically panned originally (though in both cases most critics retroactively praised their early stuff).
    • King's X are regularly named as one of the best rock groups of the 90s and have a very strong fanbase of seemingly just a few hundred people.
    • Marvin Gaye's Here, My Dear album. It later became Vindicated by History
    • Nine Inch Nails's album The Fragile was rated very high by critics (it was Rolling Stone's album of the year when it came out for example) but didn't sell all that well - it went to #1 in October 1999 and then proceeded to have the largest decline in the Billboard chart's history. Considering the band's later success Vindicated by History comes into play.
    • Dionne Farris: Wild Seed Wild Flower album. Rave reviews but only produced one hit called "I Know".
    • Most of Terence Trent D'arby's later music.
    • Anastacia, a singer who has world wide acclaim from the music buying public... except in America where she's from. On the other hand American critics love her though.
      • One explanation is that her style of music doesn't fit the very format driven American radio stations. Essentially too soulful for A/C stations, and not urban enough for urban radio stations, and not popish enough for top 40, and not rockish enough for rock stations..Basically Pop Culture Isolation due to Genre Roulette. Essentially she's in a self made musical purgatory.
    • There are a number of Classic Rock-era albums that earned high marks from critics, and often appear on "greatest ever" lists, but have gone mostly unnoticed by the public, including Love's Forever Changes, the Zombies' Odessey & Oracle, and the Pretty Things' Parachute (which was Rolling Stone's album of the year for 1970).
    • In probably the most extreme case, Michael Bolton managed to sell 50 million records worldwide despite being savaged by critics. Strangely, he still sells despite even the public's backlash against him.
    • Like Anastacia and King's X, Mother's Finest was a heavily critically acclaimed funk rock band of the mid to late 70s. But because their music was either not rock enough or not funk/soul/R&B enough they never really broke out.
    • Black Eyed Peas are frequently panned by critics and a frequent target of parody and satire (especially their song "My Humps"). That doesn't seem to affect either the buying public (they spent an unprecedented 26 straight weeks holding the number 1 and 2 top charting singles in mid-2009) or Grammy voters (6 wins out of 16 nominations).
      • Weirdly, before Elephunk, their situation was actually reversed. For their first two albums, they were known as a critically acclaimed Alternative Hip Hop trio that sold very few albums. Then came Fergie...Which brought Unfortunate Implications.
      • Nonetheless, the Hype Backlash from their terrible Super Bowl performance effectively destroyed their popularity and ended their career; In a period of six months, they went from being one of the biggest bands in America to having to fight off rumors that they are breaking up.
    • Liz Phair's self-titled and unapologetically commercial fourth album turned her into a piñata for critics, who felt that she had sold out her indie roots by going in a radio-friendly pop-rock direction. Pitchfork Media went as far as to give the album a 0.0 out of 10, one of the few times that it has "awarded" such a score. Yet the album also gave Liz her first and only Top 40 single with "Why Can't I?". Clearly, "selling out" worked.
    • Indie rock band Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians' first two albums were extensively praised by critics. Nonetheless, they never became more than a one-hit wonder with their 1988 single "What I Am".
      • A couple years after they faded into obscurity, frontwoman Brickell married Paul Simon.
    • 70s progressive rock as a genre has never really gotten much respect from mainstream rock critics, who consider it insufferably pretentious, yet bands like Yes, Jethro Tull and Emerson Lake and Palmer were hugely popular and still have devoted followings.
    • Queen Latifah's Black Reign album. Mixed reviews from critics but most hip-hoppers and hip hop publications see it as a classic Hip-Hop album that produced one of the most iconic rap songs "U.N.I.T.Y." some even say the song "Just Another Day".
    • Within Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham has always (justifiably, because of his skill and innovativeness) been something of a critics' darling but never has had any really big-selling solo albums, whereas Stevie Nicks, particularly in the 1980s, regularly took a pasting from rock critics while amassing a huge fan following as a solo artist. (Over the past decade or so, though, critics have taken a more positive view of Nicks; this may partly be due to the number of new-generation artists who cite her as a favorite or an influence.)
    • Some of Tupac Shakur's posthumous releases are this. Critics dismiss them as cheap cash ins. But some of the earlier ones are seen as genuinely good albums. Specifically R U Still Down? (Remember Me), and Still I Rise.
    • Music critic J. Eric Smith decided to see which albums get more praise from critics than copies sold.
    • Janelle Monae gets rave reviews from critics but the general public pretty much knows nothing about her. Her albums have all mostly been Hitless Hit Albums.
    • During the same time frame of the aforementioned Amel, and Res there was Rhian Benson. Another critical darling that was ignored by the public and mainstream radio.
    • Many Canadian acts, largely due to record companies mishandling or poorly marketing critically-acclaimed groups or artists:
      • If you were to judge The Rheostatics (a now-defunct Canadian rock group) solely by the opinions you find of them online, you would think they're one of the most important Canadian bands of the past century, and more critically acclaimed than even most current Canadian artists (to the point that two of their albums, Melville and Whale Music, are consistently ranked as one of the top ten Canadian albums of all time). In actuality, they only one minor hit ("Claire" in 1994) and never sold that many records commercially, even at their peak in the 90s.
      • Poor, poor Fefe Dobson. All of her albums have been critically acclaimed, but each one has tanked. One critic from NOW magazine blamed this on the fact that the industry didn't know how to market a black rocker chick from Scarborough, Ontario.
      • Esthero was an indie queen who received tons of critical accolades for her three studio albums, as well as her collaborations with various artists (including on the "Yes We Can" track from 2008 and co-writing songs for Kanye West's 808's and Heartbreak and Timbaland's Shock Value II), but all her solo work has failed to generate sales, and she's still mostly unknown in Canada and the States.
    • Cher Lloyd's debut single, Swagger Jagger. Nobody's quite sure what it means, the song was critically panned, but shot straight to number one upon release.
    • Rush have rarely or never gotten good reviews, particularly in The Seventies, but their album sales have almost always been strong, and the have a hardcore, devoted following (and plenty of respect from musicians' publications for their virtuoso playing).
    • In the late 1970s and early 1980s, most music critics dismissed the entire Heavy Metal genre as being loud, stupid, and offensive. Mainstream publications like Rolling Stone pretty much ignored metal entirely. But within a few years Heavy Metal would become one of the biggest music genres on the planet, with metal bands selling millions of albums and filling arenas.
    • 65daysofstatic's We Were Exploding Anyway was perhaps their most critically well-reviewed album. Yet on user-driven sites such as Rate Your Music, it is one of their lowest-rated albums.
    • The Bee Gees, both within and apart from their disco period, were one of the most successful acts of The Seventies, but were constantly slammed by critics, especially after they fell out of style. They gained more respect towards the end of their career, even getting into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
    • Country music is a weird example of this, with the dissonance being within the general public. Outside of the American Midwest and the South, country music isn't very popular. In fact, New York City has no country music radio stations at all. In the Northeast, liking country music (other than alternative groups, crossover pop artists, or legends) is seen as akin to liking NASCAR, and will get you called a hillbilly or redneck. However, simply based on numbers country music could be considered the most popular genre of music in America. And within the genre itself...
    • "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus was one of the most hated songs of all time in any genre, but the album was one of the best-selling of all time (not to mention one of the very few country-pop crossovers between the end of the Urban Cowboy era and Shania Twain's breakthrough in 1995). Adding insult to injury was the fact that the song was a Cover Version, and a Black Sheep Hit that didn't well represent Cyrus' style or body of work. And much of his success was in the country charts; ABH was his only true pop crossover hit.
    • Brad Paisley. His albums still get high praise from critics, even those who starkly avoid the Four Point Scale (such as Slant Magazine and Allmusic). However, a glance at any country music forum will find that many think he has been extremely complacent and lacking the creativity of his earlier albums — main criticisms include severe Vocal Decay, failed attempts at humor, cliché ballads and unremarkable guitar work. This may be finally catching up to him, as his late-2011 single "Camouflage" was widely panned and is his first chart entry in 12 years to miss the top 10.
    • The output of Rascal Flatts after switching to producer Dann Huff (namely the albums Me and My Gang, Still Feels Good and Unstoppable) was generally considered mediocre to dreadful by most music critics. Main points of critcism included bombastic production and vocals, and bland lyrics. However, their streaks of Top 5 country hits and multi-platinum sales were unharmed. The group generally won back critical acclaim by returning to a less bombastic, more substantial sound after they moved to Big Machine Records following the closure of their previous label, Lyric Street.
    • 311's 1997 album Transistor wasn't received very well by critics, but it's generally beloved by fans.
    • Many normal music listeners who aren't extremely pretentious will tell you that Radiohead completely jumped the shark in its "Kid A" album, but music critics tend to strongly disagree.
    • Jefferson Starship's iconic 1985 hit "We Built This City" hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and was also at the top of the charts in Australia and Canada, made the top-ten in Germany, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland, the top 20 in Belgium, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and the top 30 in Austria and the Netherlands. Despite this, Rolling Stone[2] ranked it the worst song of the 80s, and GQ magazine[3] said it was the worst of all time, referring to it as "the most detested song in human history". [4]

    Video Games

    • Final Fantasy:
    • Okami, lauded as one of the most beautiful games of all time, yet sold poorly - contributing to the closure of Clover Studios.
    • The Nintendo Wii, as well as many of its games. The dissonance goes both ways. This can likely be explained (in a few cases) by the critic falling outside the target demographic.
    • The Army of Two series is one of the few video games to achieve commercial success while still getting poor/mixed reviews.
    • Another such game is Jaws Unleashed, which sold over 250,000 copies on the Xbox alone despite having a Game Rankings score of 54%. Game Spot later gave the game the "Worst Game Everyone Played of 2006" award accompanied by a video where Alex Navarro expresses his outrage at this game having outsold Psychonauts five times.
    • Deus Ex Invisible War was given decent ratings by reviewers. Fans however, weren't so kind.
      • Invisible War is interesting because most fans of the original will be the first ones to say that it's a decent game in its own right, it just doesn't hold up to the original.
    • Sonic Chronicles, like the above example, received relatively decent reviews but was utterly trashed by fans.
      • Sonic the Hedgehog 4 was the same way. Critics loved it, fans despised it.
      • Sonic Unleashed was inversed, however: The game received mixed reviews from critics, while fans, though admitting it was nowhere near perfect, think it was a huge step in the right direction for the series. Though no one was particulary fond of the Werehog.
    • Beyond Good and Evil. If you compare its sales figures to its reviews, you'd be justified in the belief that its sales are entirely due to critics buying copies for everyone they know, and that's it.
    • The works of Tim Schafer suffer from this big time. The most obvious example is Psychonauts, which has received rave reviews and is one of the worst selling games of its gaming generation (although it is well-liked by those who actually bought it). Schafer's most successful game, Brutal Legend, underperformed too, but sold much more than Psychonauts.
      • Actually, games of Tim Schafer usually receive universal acclaim of both critics and common players. The problem is their sub-par marketing rendering the games like 'Grim Fandango' and especially 'Psychonauts' obscure if not unknown. Being adventure games in the late 1990's/early 2000's also didn't help.
    • Silent Hill 4: The Room holds an average score of 76 on Metacritic. Most fans of the series are far less kind, citing multiple frustrating gameplay elements and having to go through each area of the game twice.
      • On the other hand, Silent Hill: Downpour clocks in with a pathetic 4.5 out of 10 on IGN, with other sites giving it slightly better, but still poor reviews. Fans, on the other hand, are contending whether it is better than Silent Hill 2, which previously held the indesputed title of best game in the series.
        • Other reviewers, like GameSpot, were kinder, and gave it a simliar score to 2.
    • In terms of the main series, Pokémon Black and White got this. Critics gave them "average" scores by the series standards for being "more of the same", "not helped" by the fact that Pokémon Diamond and Pearl were released on the same system. Fans, on the other hand, tend to think the opposite: that it's actually one of the most innovative titles in the series, and while the Pokemon designs are still Base Breakers, the games themselves are often hailed as the best since Gold and Silver. Diamond and Pearl, meanwhile, are generally considered the low point of the series.
    • Home Front got a fairly middling reception from critics, due to a combination of It's Short, So It Sucks and not breaking out of the bounds of the "military FPS" formula. Hasn't stopped it from selling over a million units.
    • The Legend of Dragoon received mediocre scores across the board. Players, on the other hand loved the game.
    • EarthBound may never see re-release because of this. Criticism from test audiences and the brilliant marketing slogan of "This Game Stinks" made it quite a hated game by critics. After a brief bit of Vindicated by History, it is now regarded as one of the best comedy games of all time, as well as an above-average RPG.
    • Mortal Kombat 3
    • Civilization V was given good reviews by the gaming press, but a quick look at the Amazon, Metacritic and GameSpot reviews shows that this trope is in full effect here.
    • Lost Planet 2 got mixed reviews from critics but the public seems to think more highly of it.
    • Hyperdimension Neptunia: This game caters heavily towards otaku who love other Nippon Ichi games. Almost everyone outside of that group (including reviewers) hated it. There's a whopping 40 point difference between its professional and user reviews on Metacritic. No reviewer gave it a positive review. No user gave it a negative review, outside of the way healing worked.
    • The Legend of Spyro trilogy. Critics tended to give them mediocre to outright bad reviews, with a few exceptions (like the Polished Port of the second game available on the Game Boy Advance). However, they were very popular with fans, and even spawned their own unique fanbase.
    • Alpha Protocol was absolutely savaged by reviewers who claimed it to have a broken combat and stealth system as well as a seemingly endless supply of Game Breaking Bugs...but players loved it, quickly elevating it to Cult Classic levels.
    • Similarity, the 2010 Splatterhouse remake was mostly panned by critics whose complaints ranged from a wonky camera and an overreliance on gore. Player feedback, however, was generally much more positive.
    • NieR: Panned by critics for subpar graphics and too many fetch quests, loved by users for the deep, engaging story and killer soundtrack.
    • Gotcha Force: Critics were mixed about this game, but mostly had lower reviews for it. On the other hand, its score is a solid 2.1 points higher among users on GameSpot. It's still got something of a cult following, due to the insane level of Replay Value, comically bad dialogue, and lots of borgs to choose from.
    • Kirby's Air Ride has a similar situation as Gotcha Force with the mixed critics with a lot of critics panned for the one button mechanics and the lack of depth while it's receiving much higher user score due to the major multi-player focus and City Trial.
    • Dragon Age II: Most critics liked it very much for its good graphics, interesting characters, and Grey and Grey Morality, but a lot of fans hated it for diverging from the gameplay structure found in the original game, as well as the more subtle but still significantly reduced emphasis of the effect your choices have on the world. It had a gritty feel similar to that of the first game, only instead of being able to improve the country of Ferelden in one or two very meaningful ways (that the player chooses), everything you do in Kirkwall makes things worse, and players complained about the ending. This is a rather dramatic example of critical dissonance - Metacritic shows the average critical review to be an 82%, and the average player review to be 42%.
    • An even more dramatic example is Mass Effect 3, with the average player review on Metacritic being 22% and the average critic review being 95%. This can be traced to the (to many) unsatisfactory endings, a possible raid by 4chan's /v/, as well as hate for Dragon Age II that seeped into hate for ME3. Also worth noting is that the PC version, which requires use of EA's extremely unpopular Origin service and caused some people installation problems, has a much lower player review score than the console versions. Many people were up in arms about the day one DLC, as well as homosexual romance options.
    • The biggest and most dramatic example? Not from a BioWare game but from a Blizzard game, the much-anticipated Diablo III to be exact. The average critic review is 87%, Playbase review? 35%. Through this is due to server problems from overloading, the conversial Auction Houses, the fact that you can only play online, severe lag spikes as well as many Game Breaking and server-crashing bugs that came with launch. Luckily most of these bugs were fixed in the first few days, but it was too little, too late in the eyes of many games.
      • The most well known error, "Error 37", seemed to have generated a Memetic Mutation.
    • Pathologic is a bit of a special example, due to it being a really bizarre game. Some reviews (even positive ones) don't even call it a game. Many critics disliked Pathologic and warned against playing it, saying that it wasn't fun in the slightest and was far too bleak. Most fans of the game completely agree with this, but love the game's plot and atmosphere nonetheless.
    • While Sony's PlayStation Move has been more critically acclaimed, it hasn't captured the public imagination as much as the Wiimote and the Xbox 360 has. Some have even argued that the Move's praise is mere Hypocritical Fandom.
    • Hogs of War was not looked kindly upon by critics, but it remains a Cult Classic amongst gamers for its great humour, excellent voice acting, awesome music and overall being a great party game. As such, its fanbase is small, but fiercely devoted.
    • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. As of November 20, 2011, it holds an 89 on Metacritic while the User Score is at 3.2, with over two thousand negative reviews. It still managed to sell 9 million units on its launch day.
      • Modern Warfare is this trope in GENERAL—each entry has been critically acclaimed and favorably reviewed but the series seems to have a memetic status among large parts of the gamer community as a symbol of everything wrong with video gaming.
    • Chrono Cross has a fairly minor but notable version of this. Audience: very popular (was a Greatest Hits game) but incredibly divisive among Chrono Trigger fans. Critics: Unanimous praise (is one of a handful of games to get a perfect 10 from Game Spot, for instance).
    • Asura's Wrath seems to be having quite a bit of this. It's had relatively mixed reviews, but the game is adored by the many regular non reviewers who have played it, especially fans of Anime. Here's an example from GameTrailers.
    • Metroid: Other M: Seemed to get mixed, but generally favorable reviews from critics. Fans, on the other hand, were much more divisive.
    • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon actually got hit with this so badly that some fans were convinced it recieved bad reviews, sold poorly and was the reason the next game didn't get localized! All completley untrue, it actually got a respectable Metacritic average of 81 and sold reasonably well. Fans weren't nearly as kind, mostly due to suffering a major case of Seinfeld Is Unfunny, and the controversial sidequest requirements.
    • Street Fighter X Tekken seems to get getting this. It's received decent reviews but is getting heavily bashed by fans. It doesn't help that Capcom has become something of a Scapegoat Creator as of late.
    • According to some of the analysts from Game Trailers, they believe the BioShock (series) franchise is heading this way. Calling it a critical darling with middling sales.
    • Bayonetta, great reception but lagging sales.
    • The Last of Us Part II, while adored by mainstream gaming press for its gameplay improvements and cast performances, the game's darker themes, story and depiction of LGBTQ+ characters received polarising views, with some review-bombing the game and trolling cast members out of blind hate towards what detractors view as "SJW" pandering. The less said about the controversy, the better.
    • While critics (yes, even ones such as Zero Punctuation and Jim Sterling) generally seem to absolutely adore Undertale beyond belief, its actual player base contains nearly equal numbers of fans and haters. Seriously, take a drink every time the "hater" portion of the game's player base ridiculously exaggerates how bad its graphics actually are and/or complains about its incredibly Anvilicious, over-hyped and "made for Tumblr" storyline rather than talking about its actual gameplay problems (such as its Pacifist run type being its only actually worthwhile run type and the fact that the game itself is vastly too easy and scripted and therefore is in desperate need of an actual full-length Hard mode).
    • Most actual critics of the type of game that Mother 3 is consider it to be a considerably better game than EarthBound, but fans of EB itself often complain quite a lot about M3 severely lacking its charm (not to mention its subtlety).
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was almost-universally given perfect 10/10 review scores by gaming magazines when it first came out (which it was rather-heavily mocked for even at said time), but most actually sensible Zelda fans who aren't willing to give a game such a ridiculously high review score just for it being famous and having Legend of Zelda in its title generally agree that in reality, BOTW basically is just "Skyrim plus good gameplay but minus the story".
    • While the Parappa the Rapper/Um Jammer Lammy franchise's fanbase has turned it into one of the most iconic memes to ever grace gaming, getting actual critics to care about it is basically impossible.

    Web Originals

    • The Cinema Snob is made as a response to this trope. Brad Jones created his snob-persona to MST Exploitation Films because he felt it was weird that film critics panned those films for lacking qualities they weren't supposed to have.
    • Moviebob addressed this trope in his reviews of The Eagle and Knight and Day. He feels that the reason for the disconnect between critics and the "average" moviegoer is because critics see hundreds of movies per year and have learned how to spot every trope and plot twist from a mile away, making them much more receptive to original, offbeat movies that go against their expectations. Meanwhile, people who don't see more than one movie a week (i.e. most non-critics) can better appreciate films that are cliched but well-made on the technical side, and find arthouse films that challenge "traditional" genre boundaries to be off-putting.
    • A good percent of the stuff reviewed on The Bad Webcomics Wiki is this.

    Western Animation

    • Many of Disney's "Dark Age"/DorkAge films have received mixed to negative reviews, yet are still considered classics among fans (examples include Oliver and Company, The Black Cauldron, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, etc.).
    • The Ren and Stimpy Show is completely-shamelessly worshipped as "Nickelodeon surrealism at its finest" by too many "professional" animation critics to count, but normal animation fans often see it as an over-rated piece of crap that overshadows Rocko's Modern Life purely by looking more detailed and shocking people more than it does rather than over-shadowing said show by actually being funnier, more mature or (for the most part) more interesting than it is.
    • Mainstream animation critics also love to utterly worship SpongeBob SquarePants, even though most normal cartoon fans who can see past its nearly incalculable popularity agree that it jumped the shark a very long time ago.
    • Even in their most positive reviews of it, critics usually consider Rocko's Modern Life to be "a good but highly over-rated show that cripplingly lacks The Ren and Stimpy Show's charm and sometimes tries considerably too hard to prove that it is more mature than said show". Fans of Rocko's Modern Life, however, hype RML up so much that they sometimes even outright call it "the perfect cartoon" and/or "the show that R&S wishes that it was even halfway as good as".
    • Invader Zim has a rather odd example of this; critics almost-universally worship said show as "a god among animated shows" due to its actually-shockingly good execution of being Darker and Edgier than the rest of the Nicktoons while still being funny at the same time, but its actual viewer base is almost-evenly divided between utterly insane "mega-fans" who talk about it as if it literally is the greatest thing in existence and pretentious haters who mock it for its (seemingly) highly forced edginess and its rather severe over-usage of "LOL, so random" humor (cough, Gir, cough) in order to make themselves seem more intelligent (and, in many cases, also less emo and pseudo-intellectual) than its fans.
    • Critics (especially self-proclaimed ones) absolutely cannot get enough of Courage the Cowardly Dog and how much darker, edgier, creepier and classier it is when compared to most other all-ages cartoons. Most normal and non-pseudo-intellectual Cartoon Network fans, however, consider most of the show's episodes to be average at best (ignoring the fact that so many of said episodes created amazing memes such as Di Lung's catchphrase and Freaky Fred, of course).
    1. as opposed to ROTF, where most people who enjoyed the movie admitted that it was basically 2 hours of mindless explosions
    4. Granted, both those articles came out over three decades after the song's actual release.