Epic Fail

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
For some things, there's just no excuse.

"There's a difference between a failure and a fiasco. A failure is simply the non-presence of success. Any fool can accomplish failure. But a fiasco, a fiasco is a disaster of mythic proportions. A fiasco is a folk tale told to others that makes other people feel more alive because it didn't happen to them."

—Opening narration of Elizabethtown

Epic Fail: when normal, run-of-the-mill failure just isn't enough.

This is about something that should be fairly straightforward and typical for a character but then goes horribly, horribly wrong in a manner probably thought impossible. It's when a character seems to be facing a pass or fail situation, a do or die type of test and then fate hands them a third option, fail in a manner so bizarre it's impressive. We're not talking, "Supervillain decides to shoot a random minion but misses." We're talking, "Supervillain decides to shoot a random minion, but misses -- and the bullet ricochets off two walls, smashes the instrument panel on his Doomsday Machine and ends up inches from the minion's head, weakening a structural support and causing the base to come crashing down. And the minion is the only survivor." A failure so ludicrously, unexpectedly awesome that, despite its status as a failure, it manages also to be admirable for its uniqueness and irreproducibility.

At its best the trope can give the viewer a much needed jolt out of a sense of boredom, it can produce a laugh out of something you wouldn't think could, it can inspire a temporary sense of fate or dramatic justice. At its worst, it can become a Deus Ex Machina, rescuing the writers from the fortress of logic they have enclosed themselves within with a Hand Wave of "luck".

Often used against those who are Tempting Fate, and sometimes as a demonstration of how monumentally screwed you are in a Final Boss Preview. When epic failures come in forms that shouldn't even be possible, they can be examples of Beyond the Impossible. Often this trope comes with an Incendiary Exponent, possibly because of the Rule of Cool.

Compare Critical Failure (a game mechanic meant to represent the normal ever-present danger in any action), It Got Worse, For Want of a Nail. This trope is the norm for Stupid Crooks.

Not to be confused with Epic Flail, though you can certainly commit Epic Fail with an Epic Flail if you're not careful.

If you're looking for the trope that used to have this name, it's now Offscreen Moment of Awesome.

Examples of Epic Fail include:

Anime and Manga

"We lasted two seconds. One second each."

  • Fresh Pretty Cure: Villainous example—the job of a Labyrinth is to use monsters to cause misery so they can gather it as energy. Enter Westar. His plan involves using a living wig to change people's hairdos to cause misery. It totally backfires and instead everyone hit by the monsters attack is intensely amused. Incidentally, this scene is one of the most meticulously animated in the whole series.
  • You have to be a particularly intense kind of stupid to use an explosive as your means of transportation in a major competitive event. In one episode of Pokémon, one person has an Electrode as his mount. One pitfall later, he's out of the race...as are several other contestants.
    • Funnily enough, Electrode was actually the fastest Pokemon in the games at the time, so one could see why they might choose it for a race, despite its temperament and the difficulty involved in riding a rolling sphere.
    • Another contestant uses a Rhyhorn as his mount. Rhyhorn is basically a rhinoceros made out of rock. Not the best you could use, but pretty good. He's actually doing pretty well, but then he comes to the first jump over a river and...sinks like, well, a rock.
    • In the episode "Holy Matrimony!", James tried to lie about his status, claiming that he froze in the snow and died after running away from home after faking amnesia. The other characters (even Brock, the wise person of the group) fell for it, despite James being the one telling the story. Misty was the only one who actually realized that his story was false.
    • In two episodes of DP, Ash, Dawn, and Brock (especially Brock) were fooled by Jessie, James, and Meowth's disguises. Normally, it isn't noteworthy, but in this particular case, they were still fooled even when Jessie, James, and Meowth's disguises...just consisted of glasses and green coats. It didn't even cover up the telltale red R on their uniforms properly, and there was a light in the background shining on them. It's not even the worst offender either: an entire populace, and Brock, participated in a contest about which Croagunk was the best looking. They chose Meowth, despite his disguise actually being so bad it would have been impossible to mistake him for a Croagunk.
    • "The Problem With Paras" has a Paras so weak that even the tiniest attack makes it faint. Especially notable is Squirtle shooting a tiny trickle of water at it, since Paras is half grass-type and water is weak against grass.
      • It's hard to tell what's worse in the above example, the Paras for being so weak it fell to a deliberately softened attack it was already resistant to, or Ash for deciding, after the above takes place, to send in Charmeleon of all things, believing it'll have better luck in throwing a match against the thing. It gets even worse after the next couple generations, in which Paras not only becomes doubly weak against fire, it becomes the only Pokemon in existence with a quintuple weakness against anything, that weakness, of course, being fire.
  • In the Arrancar Saga of Bleach, Dordoni manages one during his introduction. While giving a speech and running, he falls off the platform he was running on when it ends and crashes into the ground. And this guy can walk on air.
    • Also, in Chapter 470 Rukia tries to use Kido while stuck as a plushie, and fails spectacularly.
  • Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo are often filled with these moments, especially in fights, whenever some attacks go wrong or just don't work at all.
  • In the first episode of Cubex Cursedx Curious, Fear tries her hand at cleaning. Granted, she's never done anything like that before, but that's no excuse for trashing the whole house. Some of the things she did just went against common sense.
  • Naruto trying to use the Sexy No Jutsu on Sasuke.
    • Then again on Killer Bee
  • Lovely Complex: In episode 24 Koizumi's attempt at being a model.
  • Haruhi Chan: Kyon and Itsuki enter the room in outfits, but during their introduction, they make Mikuru cry.
    • Here is the Epic Fail in English Dub!
    • Another example is episode 3, when Nagato and Achakura first met when Achakura was restored to her normal self... well, not back to her normal self, because Achakura was in chibi form. During one scene, Achakura complains that she did not want to sit in the chair, and so Achakura was placed on a pillow, and then, when Nagato walked out of the room, Achakura was flung into a wall, and when Nagato came back, Achakura was sitting on a chair, and then when Nagato asked that Achakura finally decided to sit in a chair, Achakura said that she did not want to hear about it.
    • Later on, when Nagato's guests left, Achakura, who was attached to a spring, comes out of a jack in the box, and Nagato puts the lid back on, which makes Achakura 100% mad! Then, when Achakura yells at Nagato, she went so high that Achakura hit her head on the ceiling VERY HARD.
  • THE iDOLM@STER - Makoto tries to cutefy herself during the Are We Live? Show. The audience was not pleased.
  • The Daily Lives of High School Boys skit High School Boys and the Way We Are is basically one string of failure after failure in the Literature Girl's trying to invoke romantic situations with Hidenori, ending with her breaking down crying (and accidentally knocked out cold by Hidenori).
  • Puyo Puyo Anime: Behold, the result of some magic spell attempt. [1]
  • Ciel's non-demon servants in Black Butler are prone to shocking feats of incompetence, and Finnian the gardener may have reached the highest peak of spectacular failure of them all. He starts out confusing fertilizer and weed killer... and then a little bit later on the same day the formerly-lush garden has somehow become a bleak, empty wasteland where even the trees are dead. Then he repeats the feat a few days later. The only reason Ciel has a garden at all is because his demon can use magic to make plants grow quickly.

Comic Books

  • The final chapter of Batman: A Death In The Family has The Joker appointed ambassador to the United Nations by the Iranian government; the Iranians, who are Exclusively Evil in this story, plot to have the Clown Prince of Crime kill the entire U.N. General Assembly by gassing them right after making a speech. But Superman thwarts Joker's plan, causing the villain to flee the chamber with Batman in hot pursuit. The Joker hitches a ride on a helicopter with his gun-toting Iranian cronies, but Batman grabs hold of the aircraft just as it takes off and fights his way in to confront the cowering Joker. One of the Iranian gunmen panics and opens fire with his assault rifle. The result? It's bad enough that the gunman succeeds only in "harmlessly" nicking Batman's arm, but he also "manages" to deal a fatal wound to every person on board but Batman - including the pilot himself, whom he shoots in the back of the head! We are told that "the gunman immediately realizes his mistake," but he doesn't have long to regret it: Batman punches him out, knocking him unconscious and then diving into New York Harbor, leaving everyone in the chopper to die when it crashes into a nearby dock. (Well, except The Joker, of course.)
  • Non-comedic example: In Secret Six, Black Alice admits that she tried to use Raven's powers to remove her father's asthma. She gave him cancer instead.
  • In one issue of X-Men Storm had one of these when it comes to dealing with her claustrophobia. The thing that set her off wasn't being trapped in rubble, having to fight in a small room, or anything like that. The villain was making threats against them, and used the word "tomb." Storm proceeded to flip. out., and spent multiple issues of the fight cowering in a corner. He wasn't even trying to prey on her phobia, he was just talking to them and accidentally incapacitated her.
    • And when Storm finally managed to pull herself together and fight, her first attack sends a lightning bolt at The Juggernaut, which bounces off of him and strikes her, knocking her unconscious and back out of the fight.
  • Happens to members of Spider-Man's rogues gallery whenever their Villain Decay is played for laughs. But Lightmaster takes the cake: in one appearance, he announces his appearance in front of the Wall-crawler, then immediately gets knocked out with a falling duffel bag full of money.
    • How did One Moment in Time explain Spider-Man missing his own wedding? A fat man fell on him and he couldn't get him off. No, really.
      • It becomes a lot worse once you remember that Spidey has Super Strength and should logically be capable of pushing off the man with ease—hell, he's seen at one point throwing a car at somebody.
  • Italian comic Sturmtruppen. A firing squad tries to execute a prisoner. Repeatedly. They even managed to miss him and hit the wall behind him while he was holding their rifles pressed directly against his chest.
  • W.I.T.C.H. gives us Orube's attempt at learning how to cook: she somehow set the water of the pasta on fire!


  • The Host is full of this. Probably the best example occurs when the monster is covered in gasoline, Nam-Il is about to throw a Molotov cocktail at it... and he drops it. Played for extreme tragedy in an earlier scene, when a simple counting error gets the dad killed.
  • The Other Guys with the "Aim For The Bushes" scene.
  • Back to The Future series:
    • Back To The Future has Marty McFly embark on a simple quest: Go back in time, turn around, come right back. What happens is: Go back in time, get stuck there, meet your Mom and have her fall in creepy Oedipal love with you, jeopardize the time-space continuum by creating a temporal-paradox, and figure it all out before the end of the movie.
    • In the sequel, Marty is about to escape with the Grey's Sports Almanac, when he encounters young Biff, itching for a fight. As soon as he gets called out on being a "chicken", and is about to fight Biff, his past self hits him with the door on the way out. Really, any time Marty falls for being called "chicken", expect him to fail. Hard.
In other words, he got beat by himself in a situation where he really should have been able to predict what he was going to do. Or at least get into trouble that he could've easily avoided if he kept on walking. There's also the number of times a Tannen ends up face first in a pile of manure after an already humiliating defeat.
  • Batman Returns: The Penguin is confronting Batman outside the "Arctic World" zoo exhibit where he and his gang have been holed up. Penguin gloats that he has in his flipper a sword-umbrella, while Batman is unarmed except for some worthless-looking handheld console with a red button on it. As Penguin is waiting for Batman to make his move, he suddenly realizes that the "useless" console is blinking and beeping. He then sees Batman's eyes shift off to the middle distance, prompting him to turn around - and sees his entire army of rocket-launching pet penguins that he had earlier sent out to blow up Gotham Plaza, now returned to the zoo and standing by, as the electronic signals being programmed into their headsets have been jammed. Penguin, knowing that his birds must be in terrible pain as their brains are bombarded by all the static, has a particularly undignified Villainous Breakdown and attacks Batman in a rage, causing our hero to drop the console. Penguin breaks off the attack and gleefully scoops up the console, then points it at Batman and hits the button, thinking he must be holding a weapon of some kind...only the device isn't a weapon, but a transmitter sending an electronic cue to the penguins to stop keeping their missiles on standby. Just like that, what have to be at least 100 penguins fire the rockets at Arctic World simultaneously, reducing the entire ancient exhibit to smoking rubble, killing any criminals who happen to still be in the area (including Penguin himself), shorting out Penguin's climate-control system, and blowing out a fuse box and exposing its wires, thus providing Catwoman with a means of both electrocuting Max Shreck and causing a massive power failure that temporarily plunges all of Gotham City into complete darkness.
  • And in Batman Forever, the sequel to the above film, Two-Face tries to shoot Batman but succeeds only in killing one of his own henchman - twice.
  • The Gods Must Be Crazy is pretty much a collection of epic fails every ten minutes of the movie. Ay ay ay ay ay.
    • What's worse, roughly half the wacky predicaments ensue simply because at the beginning of the movie, someone throws an empty Coca-Cola bottle from an airplane. Seriously. We never even learn the litterbug's name.
  • Iron Man gives us the Mk. II test flight:

Tony: We're going to see if ten percent thrust capacity achieves lift. And three, two, one...
[Gets thrown up and backwards into a wall, before being doused by the Robot Buddy]

    • Then after trying it again and ending up high in the air:

Tony: [hovering above his house] Kill power.
[crashes through several stories, a piano, lands on his Cool Car, and gets doused by the same fire extinguisher Robot Buddy]

  • In the Fantastic Four movies, Ben mentions that Johnny "washed out of NASA for sneaking two Victoria's Secret wannabes into a flight simulator. They crashed it into a wall. A flight simulator."
  • A scene in Mousehunt had the brothers Ernie and Lars Smuntz arguing over who gets the sole bed in a bedroom. They eventually decide to flip a coin. The coin lands on its edge and stays there.
  • Mulholland Drive has a scene where a hired killer kills his victim and then tries to fake suicide by putting his gun into the victim's hand. While trying to do so, he accidentally pulls the trigger and the bullet goes through the (fairly thin) wall into the neigbouring flat, hitting a fat, ugly woman. He then goes into said flat and attacks the woman, which turns out to be stronger than he expected. He eventually overpowers her and tries to drag her into the flat where he killed the first guy in order to fake a suicide-with-murder scenario. While passing the floor, he is observed by a detergence who apparently doesn't speak English, but slowly follows him into the flat. Back there, the killer first kills the woman, then the detergence enters the room with his vacuum cleaner. He also shoots the detergence, but by accident, the vacuum cleaner is turned back on again. He then pulls the detergence into the room. Finally, he tries to turn off the vacuum cleaner...by shooting at it. The vacuum cleaner catches fire, which sets off the fire alarm.
  • In Snatch... pretty much anything Sol and Vinnie put their minds to. In their defining moment, they were hired to take a briefcase from a man who had been sent to place a bet at a bookies. They get the cash from the bookies, their employer gets the case. Unfortunately, their escape driver Drives Like Crazy and backed into the van their victim had used to get to the scene, knocking him out and trapping him inside it. Later that night they see someone carrying a case go inside, and without attempting to verify the target, they enter the bookies, only to find that it's (obviously) the wrong person, and furthermore that the bookies has no cash because all bets are off. Then the cashier lady turns out to be a Badass Bystander who deftly disarms Sol of his shotgun and trips the alarm. Then they attempt (and fail) to open the front door. Reasoning that it's a security door that locked when the alarm was pushed, they try to Shoot Out the Lock. The door turns out to be bulletproof, and Vince gets his leg grazed by the ricochet. They fall down in exhaustion and take off their ski masks, at which point they notice the security camera that's just caught them both unmasked. And then, to top it off, the getaway driver shows up to get them... it turns out the reason they couldn't open the front door is because they tried to push the 'pull' side of the door. The pincher is that the pair are completely unknown in that part of the underworld, and the camera fails to be of any use because the owner doesn't recognize them... but the getaway driver is recognized. Epic Fail indeed.
  • One of the last two survivors of the Norwegian base in The Thing ends up killing the other one and destroying their helicopter by accidentally tossing an incendiary grenade backward into the box he was keeping the other ones in.
  • Pretty much every single plan Jason conceives in Mystery Team. Most notable is when a speech on how a certain character won't shoot them gets him shot
  • In the 2008 Get Smart movie, Maxwell Smart is given a tiny grappling hook launcher, and while using it to free himself, manages to hit everything except what he was aiming for, including a secret button that drops him out of an airliner. In flight.
    • Made slightly more epic by the fact that the grappling hook launcher was part of a Swiss Army Knife. You know, the thing with a blade on it! For cutting!


  • In Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel, Elijah Baley is investigating a murder and has a robot partner that appears physically identical to the murder victim. He goes to the people who reported the murder, announces his theory that the robot is, in fact, the murder victim, and gives an extended justification. The entire "murder" was a scheme, it was the robot that had been destroyed to produce the "body," and here are the point-by-point reasons why all the supposedly "robotic" actions of his partner actually match perfectly with a human impersonating a robot. All the while, his boss is watching via a teleconference. After the completion of the detailed and rational accusation, said alleged non-robot opens up his sleeve and then calmly opens his arm as well. Elijah faints.
  • There is an article on Cracked that lists sex self-help books...one of them being what to do if stuff goes wrong. Included? What to do if there are burns, the house is on fire, the authorities are knocking on your door...
  • The book F in Exams: The Funniest Test Paper Blunders showcases hilarious examples of exam answer fails. Take a look at an excerpt. (Site NSFW due to an odd amount of Hentai galleries which are completely unrelated. )
    • Likewise, Non Campus Mentis, a collection of horrible errors taken from college exams and papers.
  • There is a cookery book (called, logically, The Something Went Wrong What Do I Do Now Cookery Book) dedicated to correcting various kitchen emergencies. Naturally, it includes a chapter called "Total Failure". One piece of advice therein—if you've tried everything else, if you haven't got enough ingredients for an emergency meal and you have no other recourse, at least make it a memorable failure, one that will be recounted with awe through the generations.
    • "If you've burned the house down, Mission Accomplished."
  • In David Eddings' The Belgariad the character Lelldorin manages to extend an epic fail over the course of several weeks. When he announces that he's going to get back to the main group, his beloved refuses to stay behind. During the departure and trip he manages to break her father's leg, run his cousin through the leg "just a little bit", punch out all of a priest's teeth, and cause enough assorted mayhem to get a bounty put on his head by the crown. And all of this was without trying. This is also an example of Disaster Dominoes.
    • He did successfully marry the girl in the process, though! (Only because traveling alone with her would cause more trouble.)
    • In The Mallorean, Garion has to stop a war threatening to engulf the entire kingdom of Arendia. He magically summons a storm that helps him single-handedly stop two charging armies in their tracks, force an old friend to marry the love of his life and resolve the dispute. He’s very pleased with his hard day’s work. A few chapters later he finds out that he sparked off blizzards, hurricanes, droughts and tornados right around the world, and even triggered a new ice age. It took the combined efforts of the Gods themselves and two of the most powerful sorcerers alive over six months to fix it. Needless to say, Garion is banned from touching the weather again for two thousand years.
  • David Weber's Safehold series features a triumphant example of this. The first book, Off Armageddon Reef, featured the Church of God Awaiting attacking the protagonist kingdom of Charis by creating an alliance of every single other naval power in the world. Unfortunately for them, thanks to Charis' own strong naval tradition coupled with Merlin Athrawes giving the galleon (among other things) to the Charisians, what actually happens is Fail so Epic it takes the Church two and a half books (a good two or three years in-story) to finally recover enough to make any kind of counterattack. That fails hard, too. Though not without a more sizeable cost from Charis' forces.
    • compounding their failure was the fact that most of the people planning the attack were accustomed to land battles and didn't take into account the realities of the weather, the limitations of the vessels they were using, etc.
  • In the Discworld books, anything created by "Bloody Stupid" Johnson is likely to fall into this to such a degree it crosses over into Achievements in Ignorance. Anyone can create a garden fountain that doesn't work. It took Johnson to create one that creaked for half an hour then shot a stone cherub a hundred feet into the air. Or crazy paving that committed suicide. A badly designed apartment block is easy. But only Johnson could draw plans so bad the resulting building warps space-time.
    • In all fairness, his inventions usually work quite well, just at something entirely unrelated. Such as mechanical nail clippers which make a very handy automatic potato peeler.
  • The short story Wolfie by Theodore Cogswell is supernatural thriller meets caper gone wrong. A man in New York City goes to a sorcerer for help in murdering his rich cousin. His idea is to take the form of a wolf and rip his cousin's throat out. There is a slip-up at the veterinary hospital he has tricked a wolf blood sample out of; they give him a sample from an old, toothless, mangy poodle named Wolfie by mistake. To make failure even more certain, as a precaution to protect the witch doctor from You Have Failed Me... at the hands of his familiar should our Villain Protagonist get cold feet or a Heel Realization, he [the would-be murderer] cannot change back until he has tasted his cousin's arterial blood. In the end, he is put down by the Animal Rescue League.
  • Uh, Jack and Jill; how hard could it be to get water from a well? Is that even really a two-person job?[2]

Live-Action TV

  • Storage Wars: "‎NES-001, guys. I want you to look at this very carefully. This is the first Nintendo DS built. The last one that sold with five games in the internet for $13,000."[3]
    • In another episode, Dave Hester finds a beat-up violin in storage which he immediately convinces himself is one of the original Stradivari worth millions. He brings it to a violin expert who values it at possibly 300-400 dollars at most, if Dave invested 100-200 dollars to restore it to good condition. Up to that point, Dave had blabbed to the camera nonstop about how he'd found the holy grail of storage scavenging and would be retiring any day now.
  • Big Time Rush: A few times, but the biggest has to be when the boys cook up a scheme to get Carlos a girlfriend. In order to impress the girl, they plan for James, disguised as a robber, to rob Logan's handbag, who is disguised as an old lady, then Carlos jumps in, saves the day and gives the girl flowers put out by Kendall. Only when Carlos jumps in, he punches Logan, gives James the flowers, and the girl the handbag.
  • The IT Crowd:
    • When Moss attempts to put out a burning soldering iron, the fire extinguisher catches fire.
    • One time Jen has to give a presentation on her work in the IT department. Roy and Moss set her up for a fail by giving her a black box with a little flashing light and pretending that it's the internet. Yes, the entire internet, responsible for all of modern communications and civilization, specially flown in by Stephen Hawking. The entire audience buys into it until her boss comes bursting through the wall in a fist fight with his transsexual girlfriend and smashes the little black box. A riot breaks out, people run for the doors, some start crying, some start fighting and some start to get busy in the middle of the lecture room floor.
    • Roy managed to turn a trip to the toilet into a road trip to Manchester pretending to be a disabled homosexual.
  • iCarly. In many episodes, something Spencer is doing catches fire, asplodes, and more. Often lampshaded when such happens. Notably, in one, he touches a bell on a desk. It burns, and puts it out with soda. It catches fire again!

(Spencer hits a cymbal on his drum set with a drum stick, it catches fire)
Spencer: How is that even possible?!

  • Top Gear: It's not for nothing the motto of the challenges is "Ambitious but rubbish". Thanks to Jeremy Clarkson's devotion to Tim Taylor Technology, when he fails to achieve Epic Win, he winds up with Epic Fail. Two shining examples: the Toybota amphibious truck, which crossed a two-mile stretch of water and then capsized next to the dock when he turned too quickly; and the Fiat "Giant" Panda stretch limo, which was too long to manoeuvre and passengers required a The Great Escape-style sliding-board contrivance just to get into the back seat. Yes, folks, Jezza built a two-door stretch limo. And then it broke in half...
    • You have to be impressed with convertible people carrier that ended up causing a fire in a car wash.
      • Speaking of which, and regarding the amphibious vehicles, "None of us were seaworthy. Mine was still on fire."
    • In the literal drag race during the tractor challenge, he decided that the best weight to pull was...a 747 jet airliner. It led to his turbocharged tractor taking 20 seconds to go from 0 to 1.
    • "Meanwhile, James had managed to get lost. On an oval."
    • After they turned a combine harvester into a snowplow, they decided to test it in Norway. They destroy a house, burn through a road sign, run over a car, and may or may not have set a person on fire...
    • When they tried to make their own RVs, the whole thing was the definition of this trope.
  • In The West Wing, Josh's hilariously craptastic attempt to brief the press when CJ has a root canal that renders her incomprehensible somehow ends with Josh telling the press to shut up and stop asking him questions, because the President has a Secret Plan to Fight Inflation. Bartlet, Toby, and especially CJ's reactions are priceless:

Bartlet: Are you telling me that not only did you invent a secret plan to fight inflation, but now you don't support it?
Toby: Have you fallen on your head? Have you fallen down and hit your head on something hard?
CJ: What the heww happened in thewe? You compwetewy impwoded! You wewe vague, you wewe howstiwe, you wewe bewwigewent!

  • In the Numb3rs episode featuring the hacker on the run from various criminal groups, the Israeli hacker/arms-dealer gets cornered by an FBI agent while said Israeli hacker's muscle is elsewhere. You see the hacker's eyes dart over to the glass window and you know he's gonna make a break for it—But you don't expect for the break to fail so spectacularly, as the hacker's body (appropriate for his specialty, and thus not made like a linebacker's) bounces off the window not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES. He's caught, obviously, no doubt wondering why the breakaway glass didn't breakaway, like in the movies.
  • Done in Corner Gas when Oscar made a salad...that then exploded.

Hank: How do you blow up a salad?
Oscar: Happens more than you'd think!

  • Lampshaded in "Mr. Monk Is Underwater", where Monk discovers that a couple of years ago, the submarine he's on hit a mountain. He's gobsmacked and can't believe that anyone could possibly be that incompetent.
  • In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Malcolm goes bowling. Despite numerous failures, his mother continues to enthusiastically cheer him on. This eventually frustrates him so much that he grabs a ball, walks right up to the pins, yells that he'll give her the strike she wants...and gets a gutter ball. From half a meter away. However, it turns out this is the happy scenario. We get to see an Alternate Universe in which his dad takes him bowling instead of his mum and he ends up bowling pretty well...except he gets stuck in the pin machines. Epic Fail either way.
  • Attack of the Show! ends most episodes with an "Epic Fail" segment, showing a video usually from YouTube or break.com, followed by hate hosts mocking the subject of the video.
    • The "Kitten Warrior" competition they did, it took Keven's kitten around 40 of the 60 given seconds to even leave the starting box.
    • They epic failed themselves when their attempt to skywrite the world's largest ascii penis turned up utterly meaningless smoke scrawl across the sky to their complete dismay.
  • In the Deadliest Warrior episode "Musketeer vs Ming Warrior", the leader of the Mings lets out a war cry, only to get shot by a Musketeer.
    • In the "Medellin Cartel vs Somali Pirate" episode, a cartel member leaves his hideout and locks the door. A Somali Pirate with a RPG-7 rocket launcher notices him and aims the rocket. The cartel guy tries to open the door to get inside the buidling, but...he just locked it! The Pirate's rocket hits him directly.
    • In the "Ninja vs Spartan" episode, the last ninja jumps out of a tree, in plain sight of the Spartan, in a last-ditch effort to... be impaled on the Spartan's spear, which the Spartan only had to extend. This may be more of an example of Too Dumb to Live than epic fail, though. Unless you're the Spartan, then the failure is pretty impressive for you.
  • Married With Children: This trope, in two words, more or less sums up most of the life of Al Bundy.
    • Particularly glorious examples of Epic Failures are chronicled in the episodes 976-SHOE and God's Shoes.
    • In one episode, jealous Kelly plans to get rid of a French exchange student by letting her cheat off her. The poor girl fails every single subject, including French.
    • Then there was the episode in which a buff fitness guru tries to get the slovenly Bundys to lead healthful lives. Not only do the Bundys remain lazy, but they turn the instructor himself into a fat couch potato!
    • Terry Rakolta led a boycott against the show. Some sponsors did cancel their commercials, but the fuss she raised also raised the show's ratings.
  • Comedian Bob Einstein combines this trope with Informed Ability in the character of Super Dave Osborne. Super Dave is continually lauded as one of the world's most brilliant stuntmen, whose death-defying feats are "astronomically sensational". Of course, when the audience actually sees Super Dave perform a stunt, it inevitably backfires in an Epic Fail manner. Sometimes Super Dave doesn't even need to be performing a stunt, as more than one Epic Fail resulted from him simply trying to show off some new attraction at the Super Dave Compound.
    • If Super Dave ever plays a piano, expect a car or truck to come crashing out of nowhere and take them out both.
  • Mike from Desperate Housewives had this to say about Susan's macaroni and cheese: "How did you...it tastes like it's burned and undercooked."
  • Survivor: Cook Islands: In the final episode, a tie at the penultimate Tribal Council led to the traditional tiebreaker: a fire-building challenge. Both Becky and Sundra were to build a small fire high enough to burn through a rope about three feet off the ground or so. Some contestants have trouble building fires (see Reality Show Genre Blindness), but in this instance, neither contestant could get their tinder to light using the flint-and-steel, despite throwing sparks nonstop for an hour. Jeff eventually stopped them and told them they were moving on to matches. Even with matches, they continued to fail at keeping a flame going long enough for their teepees to catch light for another half-hour. One of them ran out of matches. This was especially annoying because they made fire earlier in the season.

Strong Bad: Hello, my name is piece of wood and I don't want to catch fire. Hello, my name is little match, and I don't want to make a fire! Hello, my name is fire, and I'm not comin' to your stupid party!

    • Partway through the challenge, the sound guys realize where this is going and change from dramatic music to comedic.
    • Russell Hantz came on for the third time. However this time he doesn't have the advantage of being unknown to his fellow players this time since the production staff practically shoved him down our throats during the previous two times he was on. You would expect that he would have wisened up and realized that he's at a disadvantage due to being with people he doesn't know (like in Heroes vs. Villains) and that they know who he is and how he plays the game; so he wouldn't start playing the same game he was known for. Instead, he assembled his usual harem...started hunting for the idol without making sure people opposing him weren't watching first, then tried to get a tribe-mate to be a third wheel in the alliance on flimsy promises. Result? Third person voted out...second person eliminated in total in the series.
      • This Epic Fail is underscored by the fact that "Boston" Rob was placed in a similar situation in the other tribe and managed to play a masterful game where he ended up completely dominating the entire season and winning it all.
  • The worst team in Amazing Race history is widely credited to be Dana & Adrian from Season 16 who were eliminated from the race without even completing a single task. While they were the third team to be eliminated without completing a leg, the other two were at legitimate elimination points, whereas Adrian was foiled by a wire walking challenge, something that's been completed by every other racer to ever attempt it on pretty much every other season, including an old, out of shape man with bad knees who could barely walk.
  • Frank Spencer from "Some Mothers do 'Ave 'Em" pretty much embodied this trope. He tried to fix a toilet in a hightech house (which he'd broken when he found using it to be trickier than one might expect) and ended up stuffing it full of various household goods (including, if memory serves, a plant), flooding the house's electrics, causing every piece of equipment to go crazy and basically resulting in it nearly killing the occupants.
  • In Red Dwarf, the broken drive plate that killed the crew was Ret Conned into being a trivially easy thing to fix. Rimmer's failure killed the crew, sent Lister 3 million years into the future, and created enough ambient radiation in the sealed hold to allow a race of cat people to evolve from the descendants of a single cat without severe inbreeding problems.
    • Rimmer's astrophysics exam results are the stuff of legend. Shown onscreen is his failed attempt to write answers on his arms, only to smear them uselessly when rolling up his sleeves and stamping a huge handprint as his final answer. Another example mentioned by Lister was Rimmer writing I am a fish four hundred times before fainting.
  • Eddie and Richie from Bottom manage to get themselves trapped on top of Western Europe's tallest ferris wheel, in a conveniently deserted carnival (the wheel is scheduled for demolition the next morning), beat each other senseless, set fire to their carriage, break the cables holding it up, and when rescued by God, deny his existence, causing him to vanish in a Puff of Logic.
  • The Japanese game show DERO! has a round where a team of contestants stand on metal beams over a pit and take turns solving puzzles, while the active players' beam gradually retracts into the wall every second they can't come up with the correct answer. They're also given sink plungers to stick on the wall behind them to stabilize themselves when the beams become short. Players who fall down are out and win nothing for the round, while if the team gets 9 correct answers between them, they win money for each player left standing. However, on one occasion, celebrity contestant Sashihara Rino freaked out and panicked as the floor started retracting to reveal the pit and didn't even manage to walk onto one of the beams before she fell down and got herself disqualified - and took one of the team's plungers with her, all before the announcer even got a chance to give the Rules Spiel. Even host Yamasato Ryouta was astonished upon making his entrance on the video intercom.

Yamasato: Everyone, welcome to the Beam Room...huh? You're short one person...

  • Another non-fictitious example from a game show. On an episode of Wheel of Fortune, the contestants were given a Proper Names puzzle to which the answer was REGIS PHILBIN & KELLY RIPA. All three contestants botched the answer, with one of them doing so twice and another screwing it up with the whole puzzle filled in. Watch the carnage here.
  • An unintentional one came about on Jeopardy!. In one episode, they had an "Oops!" category in which all five clues were related to facts that the show had gotten wrong on previous episodes. One such clue referenced a clue that called the St. Louis Globe-Democrat a defunct newspaper, and the paper was re-established by the time the episode aired. However, by the time they aired the episode with the correction, the paper went under again!
  • Yet another game show example: March 31, 2008 on Tokyo Friend Park II was a special two-hour episode with the Japanese band Arashi as contestants. Instead of the usual 5 games for a 2-player team, they play 7 games taking turns between their 5 members. They pull off a Flawless Victory through the main game, earning an astounding 9 gold medals (each one being about 100,000 yen worth of gold) and a trip to Disneyland Paris for all 5 of them (for comparison, most teams get usually only manage 2-3 medals and no trip across 5 games). Then came the endgame, and this trope took full effect. As usual, they were given the option to trade each medal for a dart to throw at a dartboard where each space corresponds to a prize. Most prizes are usually worth about 200K yen, plus one space being a grand prize (in this case, a tour of the world), but a couple spaces are labeled "tawashi", the show's trademark Zonk. They proceed to trade all 9 medals for darts...and land 7 of them (across 4 different team members, no less) on the exact same "tawashi" space.
  • There's a British comedy game show called Epic Win. Contestants perform various challenges based on their unusual skills, and are awarded either an Epic Win trophy or Epic Fail sticker depending on their success.
  • One of the funniest moments in the history of Frasier is the first act of "Three Valentines", which consists of Niles managing to turn a minor adjustment of his pants while sitting on the couch waiting for his date to arrive into a six-minute-long, wordless catastrophe set to the diegetic score of a symphony orchestra that ends with the couch on fire, everything but the couch covered in fire extinguisher fluff, and Niles sprawled in the middle of the floor half-naked in a dead faint with the door wide open while Eddie the dog wolfs down his date's meal. While it may have been an Epic Fail for Niles, it was a Crowning Moment of Awesome for David Hyde Pierce.
    • Also, Daphne's attempt at throwing a dinner party in "Daphne Does Dinner". The Crane family, who are notorious for having all their parties end in disaster, proudly take the sheer massiveness of her failure as a rite of passage to her becoming "officially a Crane".
    • In fact, the show literally thrives on this very trope. Anything that any of the main cast try to do will descend into hilariously over-the-top, convoluted pandemonium two-thirds of the time (the other third of the time it will end in a Crowning Moment of Awesome).
  • While many MythBusters experiments end in failure due to the myth tested being, well, a myth, some fail in such a spectacular fashion that only epic fail is strong enough to describe the result. One of the most memorable ones happened in the JATO rocket car supersize revisit, where every single test and planning step went perfectly well until the final run: when the car reached the ramp and the rocket was activated, it blew up sky high, shredding apart the car completely.

Jamie: Well, let's reset.
Adam: I think someone owes me 10,000 bucks.

    • The crew had their own epic fail when they tried to shoot some barrels of water with a cannon in an incident from 2011. They did this at a bomb range, so it's hard to believe they'd mess up too badly, but, well...not only did they completely miss the barrels, the cannonball bounced all the way out of the bomb range and into a residential area, where it smashed its way through a house, damaged the roof of a different house, and ended its rampage by smashing into a minivan. Seriously. They're just lucky the rogue ball was content with property damage, and didn't try for bodily damage.
  • In-universe example, but just fortuitous in Real Life: Michael Richards was once reminiscing about how, on the set of Seinfeld, he performed an impromptu pratfall while walking through Jerry's door as part of his "Kramer" character. As Richards's feet flew out from under him, one of them went completely over his head, curled around the doorknob, and closed the door all by itself. Richards regretted that he would never be able to do that again.
  • The second season of Wipeout had a contestant declare her love for one of the hosts, then run the qualifier. She slipped on the first corner, fell, and yelled "I'm done!"
  • Taylor's attempt at a political seat on the first season of Benson.

Governor Gatling: So, how did Taylor do?
Marcie: He lost. He came in sixth.
Benson: How did he come in sixth? There were only five candidates.
Marcie: There was a large write-in for "none of the above".

  • In Home Improvement, Tim and Jill Taylor went to visit a marines base, and the soldiers offer to allow Jill to test drive one of the tanks due to her desire to be in one. Tim then cautions that trying to drive it is something else. Just then, Tim somehow manages to activate one of the Abrams' machine guns simply by touching it.
  • In Hell's Kitchen, for one of the challenges, the two teams had to prepare a menu for a wedding reception. The red team are doing OK, but then when it comes to their meat entrée... well... you really should just see it.
  • Many an Antiques Roadshow episode features a hopeful collector learning that her expensive early American furniture has halved in value because she (or a member of her family) had it refinished. But the all-time Epic Fail champion had to be the man who boasted about his fireplace andirons, which he claimed Liberace had once offered him $70,000 for. The man refused to sell, thinking they were worth far more. The Roadshow appraiser then had to inform the man that the andirons were fakes, and only worth a few hundred dollars.
  • At the beginning of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the title character has gone AWOL leaving the remaining Scoobies doing their best to take down any vampires they can in her absence. When a newly risen vampire takes out Xander and Willow before they can stake it, only Oz is left standing to try and stop the monster before it can escape. He grabs the stake and attempts to throw it through the now-fleeing vampire's heart... and he's able to throw it for about a foot before it falls to the ground.
  • In the Father Ted episode, "Think Fast, Father Ted", Ted is given a car, which is to be given away as a raffle prize. However, the car has a small dent in it, so Ted starts tapping out the dent with a small hammer. Cut to later, and the car is utterly totaled.

Ted: No, we can't give that away as a prize.

  • The Apprentice had a few examples where neither team won:
    • Such as week 10 in series 11, where both teams received zero orders for their 'healthy snacks'. This meant both team leaders had to bring one member of their team with them back into the boardroom.
    • As well as week 2 in series 12, where both advertising campaigns were terrible and both teams were told they failed the task. Again, both team had to bring people into the boardroom, and the prize was cancelled.
  • The Muppet Show:
    • A lot of the Great Gonzo's stunts turn out not-so-great. For instance, in the Edgar Bergen episode, he wrestles a brick blindfolded...and loses.
    • In the Nancy Walker episode, Kermit is home sick, and unwisely puts Fozzie is in charge. Fozzie proceeds to nearly blow up the theater, then delays the next act until the audience - almost - leaves, and then messes up the introductions in a way that somehow causes "At the Dance" and "Veterinarian's Hospital" to go on at the same time. Then comes the first commercial break...
    • Professor Bunsen Honeydew has Epic Fails all the time, much to the regret of his hapless assistant Beaker. In one episode, his fireproof paper proved even more flammable than regular paper, but even worse, his invention of flammable water (used by Beaker when he tried to put it out) worked perfectly.
    • Possibly the most epic fail of all was the one where the cast turned the show into a celebration of Kermit's birthday. Not only was it not Kermit's birthday, it was about six months later. Hard to get a date worse than that.

Newspaper Comics

  • Beetle Bailey: Cookie manages to make soup that is too tough to cut with a knife... and steak that is too tough to cut with a machine gun and grenades. In one strip, he lists the ingredients for his meatballs, and realizes he forgot to use ground beef. He also manages to fail to not include the kitchen sink—in food. No wonder he graduated 50th out of a class of twenty-five.
  • Peanuts:
    • Charlie Brown's failures tend to skirt the bounds of belief. For instance, his kite flying. In addition to the all-too-familiar situation where he winds up dangling upside-down in a tree with the kite, he's been known to lose his kite in a mailbox or down a sewer grate. In one strip, it exploded in mid-air.
    • Then their are his baseball fails. He often loses by more than a hundred points. (In baseball, scores rarely go above ten.) His worst lost was a score of 600 to nothing. The first arc with Peppermint Patty involved her trying to help the team, but while she hit five home runs and pitched a no-hitter, they still lost by 37 to 5.
    • Also lampshaded in The Movie A Boy Named Charlie Brown, when the girls mock Charlie by singing the song "Failure Face." They quip that, if trying to fail were like running a race, Charlie Brown would actually win.
    • There is a line of Epic Fail t-shirts displaying his greatest failure moments.
  • From FoxTrot: Jason and Marcus are attempting to launch a rocket, but put the engines in wrong so it launches into the ground. When the second stage kicks in, fire starts shooting out of various spots in the ground in enormous columns, prompting this remark from Jason:

Jason: Why can't my successes ever be as spectacular as my failures?

    • There's also Roger once being effortlessly defeated at Chess by a computer... after having Jason modify the chess program's code to make him all kings and the computer all pawns.
    • Also, a Pavilionplex worker ended up somehow mistaking the theater's internet server with the butter server and promptly washing it, explaining the reason for the long lag time for the Pavilionplex's site when Jason was ordering tickets for Attack of the Clones online.
  • In one strip of The Far Side a man lost a quick draw to a sloth. One bystander mentions that the newly deceased wasn't exactly what you would call a "quick draw".

Professional Wrestling

  • Anytime a Heel character is trounced in a way that instantly enters the record books. One instance that was truly for the ages occurred at the 2009 Royal Rumble Match to Santino Marella. He entered the contest, climbed over the ropes - and was instantaneously knocked back over the ropes by Kane, resulting in the shortest ever Royal Rumble time of one measly second. Predictably, Marella suffered a Villainous Breakdown as a result and screamed "I WASN'T READY!"

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • Arguable, but many people consider the term/meme "Fail" (and by extension, "Epic Fail") to have been popularized by the game Blazing Star. If you failed to beat a boss in time, the Engrish words "You fail it! Your skill is not enough, see you next time, bye-bye!" appeared on screen, showing you how much you sucked at fighting the boss.
  • The infamous Super Smash Bros. Brawl video wherein Fox jumps up in the air, then comes down in a Landmaster, which promptly falls through the tiny hole in the center of the Yoshi's Island (Melee) stage.
    • Sometimes when fighting the Ice Climbers, killing Popo but leaving Nana alive results in Nana smashing you off the stage by herself. Especially funny when it happens on the last stock, netting Ice Climbers the victory.
    • Even better.
  • Reportedly, it is possible in the X-COM Spiritual Successor games UFO: After* to throw a grenade so poorly that it lands yards behind your thrower. Without bouncing.
  • In the Wii version of James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace, it is all too possible, should you forget how to throw a grenade, to essentially pull the pin out of said grenade and stick it in your pocket. Not even kidding here.
  • A variant in Nethack: YASD (Yet Another Stupid Death) exists mainly due to the fact that you barely know what anything is in the beginning and have to figure it out without by killing yourself. You can also do stuff that's just plain dumb without so much as a warning. This leads to such Epic Failures as:

<name>, killed by kicking a wall
<name>, killed by a bolt of fire (which he/she cast at a wall)
<name>, killed by a potion of acid
<name>, killed by a newt while helpless (it attacked him/her while he/she was paralyzed)
<name>, killed by a grid bug (even weaker then a newt)
<name>, killed by a blast of disintegration (by a black dragon created from polymorphing a nearby half-dead jackal)

    • Many of the above deaths are considered common to the average player; deaths considered more epic would be:

<name>, killed by a fall onto poison spikes (the canonical YAAD, a One-Hit Kill which happens without warning)
<name>, quit while already on Charon's boat (quitting the game while polymorphed into another species while one's actual species has been genocided)
<name>, petrified by deliberately meeting Medusa's gaze
<name>, petrified by elementary physics (combining a dead cockatrice with the rule that what goes up...)
<name>, teleported out of the dungeon and fell to (his/her) death
<name>, unwisely ate the body of Death (who only appears on the very last level of the game)
<name>, escaped (in celestial disgrace) (offering the Amulet to the wrong deity)

    • These all pale in comparison to the following death sequence:

Salutations Lancealot, welcome to Nethack! You are a lawful male human Knight.

  1. ride

You slip while trying to get on the saddled pony. --More--
You die...Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 zorkmids.--More--
Lancealot, slipped while mounting a saddled pony.

  • Spelunky's pseudo-random level generator coupled with its extremely Roguelike style of platforming often leads to over-the-top, awesomely funny, accidental deaths caused by careless or unlucky players.
  • In the Space Quest series likely half of the deaths were epic fails of some kind.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy: Oh, look, a sword to collect! YOU JUMPED INTO A SWORD! YOU RETARD!
  • Annoying trainers in Pokémon Gold and Silver (and the remakes) will call you every once in a while...and some call to say that they failed to catch a Pidgey. Yes, a Pidgey. You have about a 33% chance of catching Pidgey that's at full strength with no status conditions and a plain old Poké Ball, yet they were trying and couldn't catch it!
    • "Hitmonlee used Hi Jump Kick! Hitmonlee kept going and crashed! Hitmonlee fainted!" [4]
    • "Foe Geodude used Selfdestruct! It doesn't affect Gengar... Geodude fainted!" [5]
  • Entering "Epic Fail" in Scribblenauts creates a nuclear explosion that kills everything onscreen, including the player.
  • Dwarf Fortress has a myriad number of ways to fail (after all, Losing is Fun!) but there are a select few ways that you can Epicly Fail, like say accidentally starting your fortress over a volcano[6]
    • For the fans, this is actually how you succeed - since there's no actual victory in DF, the easiest win condition is to achieve a catastrophic failure that is notable in some entertaining way, then post it on the Bay 12 forums.
  • Dragon Age Origins, toward the end of the Orzammar plot arc, has the losing candidate for King attempt a coup right there in the meeting chamber with all the guards and the heroes who just got through carving up a thousand Dark Spawn. Needless to say, it doesn't go well for them. Listen to the town crier afterward. He'll shout out about what happened and throw in his usual color commentary which goes like this, quoted word for word:

Town Crier: Harrowmont is king! Bhelen is stupid and dead! EPIC FAIL!

    • While that is the biggest example of Epic Fail; if the other candidate is chosen and he chooses to order the execution of his rival. The Town crier then adds Epic Fail but it's not quite as epic.
  • In Ace Attorney Investigations you manage to so utterly and completely prove a man to be the real murderer that Miles Edgeworth, the last person you'd expect to hear it from, say to him "I believe the correct term is 'you fail'!"
  • Kirby Super Star: When Kirby gets Bomb ability, he immediately pulls one out. Forget to throw it immediately? Boom.
  • From Resident Evil 4, we have...this.
  • Rooster Teeth has a weekly series called Fails of the Weak [dead link] which is a compiliation of the most epic failures ever captured on video for Halo: Reach.
    • Special mention must go to PR Punk Skater, who was apparently headshot by God in volume 34.
    • Similarly, GameFails charts epic fails from all over the gaming world.
  • In the Portal universe, it is revealed that the attempts of the Aperture Science researchers to put Restraining Bolts on their AI Master Computer GLaDOS approaches the level of this trope. When they first attempted to wake her up, she went homicidally berserk within 1/14 of a picosecond. Their solution to this was to attach all sorts of personality cores to her to modify her behavior, including one that fed her a cake recipe; another that was, if anything, even more murderous than she was; and one that fed her stupid ideas to counter her intelligence. Yet after all this, they were easily suckered into giving her access to a deadly neurotoxin, with which she killed them. Their epic failure comes full circle when the aforementioned "Intelligence Dampening Sphere" ends up taking over the Enrichment Center from GLaDOS and nearly destroying it, thanks to the same built-in imperatives designed to control her.
    • It's best to say that Aperture Science only succeeds through epic failure. The portal gun was originally intended as a shower curtain. The acceleration and repulsion gels were intended as dietary aids, and some supplementary materials indicate that GLaDOS was originally intended to de-ice fuel lines. Literally nothing Aperture Science ever built functioned as intended, and they were too poorly managed to turn lemons into lemonade with what they did have.
      • They instead took the lemons and turned them into incendiary grenades.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh Reshef of Destruction, when dueling Bandit Keith, he can and will tribute three monsters to summon the Winged Dragon of Ra...in Sphere Mode. A Divine Monster with 0 Attack and Defense. This is even funnier if beforehand, his monsters had been defeating you.
  • Parodied in Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 3: Lair of the Leviathan: at one time when Guybrush guesses the answer to one of De Cava's three-out-of-six questions wrong, Morgan rolls her eyes and says, "Fail," in a Shout-Out to the "FAIL" meme from Blazing Star. (Even De Cava says "Failure!" when the question is guessed wrong.) However, this trope (and imminent death) is averted as many times as possible, when De Cava will always repeat the same first series of the three questions thanks to the repeated pleadings from Guybrush.
  • In In The Groove 2, if you fail the Final Boss song, "Vertex^2", the failure screen says "Round Failed^2".
  • In the Last Story of Sonic Adventure, when Perfect Chaos starts rampaging, Dr. Eggman flies in with his Egg Carrier 2, a new version of the huge ship he piloted for most of the game. Eggman made it specifically for if Chaos went out of control like he was doing at that moment. Chaos took it down in one blast.
    • After defeating the boss of Chemical Plant Zone, it's very possible for a player who has let their guard down to fall through one of the tiles.
  • Gilgamesh's EX Burst in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy. Every character's EX Burst has a perfect and failed version, with the failed version doing less damage, but Gilgamesh takes failure to its extreme. A recurring joke in the series is Gilgamesh's continued search for the legendary Excalibur, but he always confuses it with the counterfeit Excalipoor, which only ever deals 1 point of damage when it hits the opponent. In his EX Burst the player must pick the Excalibur out from several Excalipoors. If they fail, Gilgamesh takes up one of the Excalipoors and performs a series of epic, over-the-top attacks on them...then realizes his attacks aren't doing anything and throws it away, moaning that he picked the wrong one.
    • Of course, thanks to a bug in the original Excalipoor, it did as much damage as the Excalibur when thrown. So when Gilgamesh's opponent is inevitably hit by the sword that Gilgamesh threw away, it hits For Massive Damage.
  • Team Fortress 2: Lose an Arena round without killing a single opponent, and you get the message "FLAWLESS DEFEAT!"

The Administrator: "You didn't kill any of them!"

    • In the Replay Update of Team Fortress 2, a contest called the Saxxy Awards was created to share with people their most awesome kills, biggest dominations, and of course, most epic fails. All the lovely fails can be found here.
      • The winner was a Soldier who wanted to show off and destroy an enemy dispenser using a taunt kill, but the Engineer moves the dispenser before he can finish the taunt. What makes this an Epic Fail is that said taunt kills the Soldier as well as whoever's standing by, and unfortunately, no one's standing by. You can probably guess what happened.
  • Rune Factory 3: Failing to cook a dish that you have a 90% success rate for will result in a Super Fail. The game plays with the trope in that not only are Super Fails a favored gift for Sofia (one of your potential brides) but they're a powerful poison, that can take chunks of life off even bosses.
  • During a Play Station Vita press conference in Taiwan, Sony Computer Entertainment Taiwan's spokeswoman claimed that her favorite PlayStation game is Super Mario Bros. and proceeded to hold the Vita upside-down. The crowd bursted into amazement at the fiasco unfolding in front of them.
  • StarCraft II: Not with the game itself but for a piece of hardware designed specifically for the game, Steel Series released a StarCraft II-themed keyboard, only they misspelt "protoss".
  • In the Gran Turismo series, failing a licensed test results in the display of the word FAIL in big white letters, sometimes with Soundtrack Dissonance.
  • In the Total War games, when an assassin, spy, gentleman, or ninja fails in a mission, the video of their attempt shows them attempting and then failing in some hilarious fashion. Sometimes its an amusing or unfortunate error, like stabbing the shadow of a kneeling samurai but just hitting his armor stand, or getting caught trying to set a house on fire. Other times, the failure will be something hilariously epic. For example, a ninja making a running leap at a target's back to kick him over a railing, only to miss and fall to his death. Or a gentleman engaging in a duel, but his weapon misfires, and while investigating the faulty pistol he ends up shooting himself in the face. Or an assassin waiting behind a door to stab a target, only to end up stabbing himself when the target slams the door into his face.
  • In Batman: Arkham City, the Joker is severely wounded from losing the boss fight of Batman: Arkham Asylum. So he and Harley Quinn escape custody to avoid a transfer to the new prison, but in the ensuing chase they wind up breaking in to Arkham City by accident.
  • Brain Dead 13 has this in Vivi's Salon. During the scene in which Fritz escapes from the spiked coffin, he puts on a spiked arm with a switch, but just as Fritz was charging at Lance, he trips over a skull.
  • The Easy AI in Mario Party 2 is so stupid that players can win by doing absolutely nothing.
  • Star Wars Battlefront: the game tracks Nemesis, for who killed you the most, and Bait, for who you killed the most. Also, there is no Friendly Fireproof here, meaning that you can occasionally kill yourself with a bad grenade toss. The awesome failure comes when a unit is listed as its own Nemesis and Bait. Meaning he committed grenade-related suicide more often than he killed anyone else.

Web Comics

Thief: Not that I'm complaining about it, but...HOW DO YOU MISS A VOLCANO?!

    • Earlier, when they were captured, BM tried to kill his allies, it was in a small corridor, easy to hit, reflecting walls. What happens, he hit something, himself. It was the same attack as the volcano.

"How did you not only manage to miss us, but also hit yourself?"

    • Due to Red Mage's unfailing belief the world works like a Tabletop RPG, this occasionally comes up for him, too.

Black Mage: You pushed Red Mage [...] Onto Fighter's sword.
Fighter: Which is weird because it started out sheathed.
Red Mage: I botched my Athletic Roll...Big time...

    • Most of the things Fighter does qualify as well.

Fighter: When you gotta do somethin' wrong, you gotta do it right!

Sarah: And it was eligible in the first place because...?
Gary: Well, we needed a fourth.

    • One time Fighter lost a game of Drownball. He spent several minutes underwater wearing heavy armor, yet...

Fighter: I did a thing where I didn't drown.

    • Then there are both of Black Belt's memorable attempts to find the bathroom.
    • With all these examples, it's pretty safe to say that Eight Bit Theater could alternatively be titled Epic Failure: The Webcomic.
  • Aaron Williams' Full Frontal Nerdity has, among other delightful slices of Gamer Life and other nerd instances, the occasional example of truly epic fail for the everyman. This is a decent example of how bad this guy can roll. He has also jinxed a die so badly it infected other d20 with the "1" virus, rolled a "1" when it was buried, and started making "1" show up everywhere. Further, Williams even has a collection of Nerdity out titled the Big Book of Epic Fail.
  • From Johnny Wander: What do trying to roast garlic and drying peppers in the oven have in common besides the obvious? This. They even refer to the second incident as making homemade mace.
  • Matt from Murphy's Law did this on his Test of Hidden Traps.
  • In the first book of Goblins, Fumbles fumbles a to-hit roll spectacularly. He trips, sends his spears flying into a lantern, which sets a hut on fire, which sets a bird on fire, and said bird retaliates by gouging the hell out of Fumbles' head.

Forgath: I just wanna know what kind of fumble chart he's using, so I could avoid it.

  • In a non-canon Problem Sleuth donation page, Team Sleuth strikes back at the Midnight Crew with the insanely powerful Catenative Doomsday Dice Cascader, a weapon that calculates damage by rolling a die for result X, and filling the remaining popomatic bubbles with additional X-sided dice. This is repeated until all dice are rolled, with the final die determining damage. The final result? One. Out of Fifty trillion.
  • In Freefall, Florence attempts Obfuscating Stupidity.
    • Helix managed to blow out a bulkhead on the spacecraft he and Sam use while making microwave popcorn.
  • Stef Murky of User Friendly is absolutely awful at video games. He once fell in the lava in Neverwinter Nights (something not possible without modding the game) and also once fell in the lava at the startup screen of Quake II.
  • In Wapsi Square, Tina describes a previous time she had to run the coffee shop with an arm in a cast. Somehow she managed to back over her wrist while trying to parallel park.
  • Cleo from Bobwhite discusses this. While her dad tries to teach her how to fold clothes, Cleo talks about how funny it would be if her terrible clothes-folding skills accidentally set her clothes on fire.
  • Thog in Order of the Stick failed his will save against a Zone of Truth spell (which normally only prevents telling lies) so badly that he started spouting every truth he knew, resulting in several Too Much Information moments.
  • The Ho'aku tribe in Survivor Fan Characters was truly an epic fail, filled with a) weak and easily influenced members, b) jealous and power-hungry contestants who wanted to lead and voted out the first two leaders, and c) Russell Hantz, who sabotaged their tribe. What happened was one of the worst losing streaks in the comic's history, with the Ho'aku tribe losing ten out of thirteen challenges, going to every single Tribal Council but one, and ultimately being whittled down to two members. However, the tribe's plight is spectacularly subverted when a member of the Ho'aku tribe manages to go on an immunity run and win the game!
    • Cherman from Season 9 was an epic fail in all challenges, in spite of being a robot specifically programmed to be the ultimate Survivor bot. Then it's similarly subverted at the very end when he wins the entire game.
  • Art, how can you screw up pancake flipping SO BAD?
  • In Ls Empire, Void shows that it's possible to miss a shot a point blank range.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal features this lovely spoon-accident.
  • Xkcd: These two comics. Failing to throw a boomerang correctly is one thing. But this guy eventually managed to throw it so badly he broke the ozone layer.
  • In Homestuck, a certain unwise action in the Kids' session lead to consequences so staggering they rendered someone else's session of the game Unwinnable.
    • And then it turns out that it was someone in the other session who rendered both sessions Unwinnable... by giving a universe cancer. Fails don't get much more epic than that.
  • There are a ton of examples from VG Cats:
    • In one comic, Leo (Who is Altair from Assassin's Creed) tries to pick his nose, only to stab himself in the face with the hidden blade.
  • Kharisma of Something*Positive tries to take a geek trivia test. Davan grades it: "Just so you know, The Last Unicorn was not, in fact, Luke's father."

Web Original

  • Not many LP'ers die on the first part of a sometimes incredibly easy part of a video game. That's where Crazy Commentaries comes in, in their first video, one of the members dies by losing health to bob-ombs, rolling balls, and not getting any health. The thing that really cements this into Epic Fail territory, though, was how he died. He jumped directly into a rolling ball, not even trying to get away from it.
    • in one Let's Play, someone tried to perform a subdural hematoma operation...and turned the head the wrong way.
  • Parodied in The Nostalgia Critic's crossover review of Child's Play with Phelous. Phelous tosses a sock at Critic, it hits Critic's forehead, Critic "falls" out of his chair and twirls around his house on his feet as he somehow takes up a random gun, loads it, and shoots himself in the head.
  • The FailBlog, which includes both photos and videos, is in a si milar nature to Attack of the Show!.
    • Amusingly, a lot of the contributors fail at understanding the concept of a fail, instead posting situations that are merely ironic or even triumphant. They've rectified that by designating some things Win or even Epic Win.
    • There's also Learn From My Fail, dedicated to oddly specific advice on situations from the mundane to the downright bizarre.
  • Sean Fausz, a member of That Guy With The Glasses, has a whole online series of videos dedicated to various Epic Fails. You can watch them here.
  • The blog Cake Wrecks features these.
  • Red vs. Blue invokes this in the case of Church's time travel excursion. In his attempts to better the timeline, he ends up causing everything to go wrong. As he tries desperately, and fails miserably, to shoot Donut he sums it up fairly well:

Church: Oh my God, I suck!

    • Caboose trying to cover Church with a sticky grenade in Reconstruction. Washington lampshades it by declaring it the "worst throw ever. Of all time."
    • Caboose setting fire to anything and everything in Relocated.

Caboose: hhh! Now I am burning! That is much worse than other things burning!
[A fire starts for absolutely no reason]
Caboose: Oh, come on! How did that even start?"

  • Happy Tree Friends is fueled with Epic Fail.
  • The Darwin Awards are pretty much given to Epic Fails that ended in fatality. There are certain cases where the victim survived, but was left unable to pass on their genes.
    • Even among Darwin Award winners, some manage to stand out in the crowd, dying in ways that don't even sound physically possible, never mind how idiotic they are (e.g. the man who was shot to death by a snake).
  • Todd in the Shadows: When Todd reviewed Train's Hey, Soul Sister and found a quotation saying they were trying to make something like INXS...well he throws up comparative clips of the two groups (hint: nothing alike) and then analogises thus:

That's like if you try to make scrambled eggs...and instead you caught syphilis.

    • He also theorizes that Usher's rhyming was so bad his wife divorced him over it.[7]
  • Rules of the Internet: Rule 16: If you fail in epic proportions, it may just become a winning failure.
  • In the MSF High Forum roleplay, there was once a round of combat where eight people, of the same level, were fighting each other...and no one hit ANYONE.
  • Matt from Two Best Friends Play has two. The first one, from when they play Donkey Kong Country Returns, happens at the end of a Minecart Madness level that they had lost all their lives on, when Matt jumps off a cliff right at the end of the level, in full view of the exit, because he thought there might be a token under the cliff. The second one is during Dead Rising 2 when Matt fails to complete any objectives, which Pat rubs in his face.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: When Linkara is trying to break open a champagne bottle to christen his new spaceship.

Linkara: Break, damn you!

Congratulations guys, your enemy AI is less effective than the fucking UFO in Asteroids.

    • In this video, Spoony describes a Spycraft game he ran where the players were trying to get onto a bullet train from a helicopter. By the end, one member of the team was dead and they utterly failed their mission because they kept rolling 1s, Spoony kept giving them the chance to recover, and they'd roll 1s for that too.
  • Tumblr was a microblogging site well known through the 2010s as a friendly home to all manner of communities, among them safe havens for LGBTQ teens and adults, and a small group of user-curated NSFW blogs (which brought in about 25% of Tumblr's traffic). Then Verizon bought its parent company and in 2018 decided to purge all the "offensive" content so they could attract advertisers and turn a profit off of the online presences of the many fandoms and social movements it hosted (monetizing the "Black Lives Matter" movement was an explicit example used during their planning stages). In early December 2018, Tumblr users were given two weeks notice that adult and LGBTQ content would be abruptly banned, and a massive diaspora ensued. Before the new censorship regime had even begun, the Tumblr Staff account had started begging people to come back; a month after the ban the site's total traffic had dropped by 54%, and never stopped dropping. By May 2019, Verizon had started shopping around for someone -- anyone -- to take Tumblr off its hands -- and ended up selling it to WordPress owner Automattic for pennies on the dollar.

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Homer the Smithers", Homer has to cook breakfast for Mr. Burns at 4:30 in the morning and is out to make sure it's the best damn breakfast he can provide. He starts off with a shish kebab on a burner which he doesn't know how to use and it catches fire; he goes to a simple microwave and smashes the window open and sticks in the kebab and rather unsurprisingly that catches fire. Like a drunken student on a night out in Manchester, he has failed in his kebab quest and settles for a bowl of cereal. See the page image.
    • In "Homer Goes to College," he's put in a truck containing a simulator of his work station and somehow causes an actual meltdown.

Inspector: I'm still not sure how he caused the meltdown. There wasn't any nuclear material in the truck!

  • When Homer attempted to build a barbecue, he has several epic failures in short succession. All he managed build is a chaotic pile of the grill's components (including, somehow, his wristwatch) embedded in a slab of concrete. Angrier than usual, Homer charges the debris with an umbrella like Don Quixote; with about the same measure of success.


  • A similar incident happens in "Marge Be Not Proud". After Marge doesn't put marshmallows in Bart's hot cocoa because she though it would make him feel like more of an adult, she then suggests that he do it himself. His attempt results in the marshmallow absorbing every drop of the liquid to form a sort of gelatin, which Bart gloomily eats with a knife and fork. Of course Grandpa views it differently and even asks if he can have a slice of the marshmallow.
  • In another episode, Homer crudely creates an alternate gas main in order to allow him to do pytotechnics with a tiki idol that he got as a result of rummaging through garbage, resulting in a massive gas leak in the kitchen. While ranting to Marge as the tiki idol, he accidentally drops it, causing it to combust, and it is also implied that the house was going to end up destroyed shortly thereafter.
  • Homer's encounter with the wrecking ball in The Simpsons Movie crosses into this by the end, when it resumes swinging for no apparent reason a couple of seconds after seemingly coming to a stop.
  • Homer has even been known to cause damage to the plant by not being there.
  • Bart's film in the film festival episode, The Eternal Struggle, had Homer struggling to get his pants on to no avail. He then realizes that he hadn't unbuttoned it yet and does so, only for him to still struggle in putting up his pants.
  • In the episode where Homer has to do Heart Surgery, the COPS parody has Chief Wiggum trying to locate a cattle rustler. He ends up mistaking Reverend Lovejoy's location with the cattle rustler's location next-door, despite the obvious hints that they got the wrong house (the next door neighbors had an odd amount of cattle especially for a suburban neighborhood, whereas the house they raided, Lovejoy's, was normal), and he failed to identify the car or even the driver, despite the drive poking his head out to taunt the cops long enough to have even a ten year old give the specific details besides his being hatless.
  • In "Bart's Comet", the plan to get rid of the eponymous comet is to blow it with a missile. It lasts ten seconds in the air and then blows the only bridge out of Springfield.
  • In one episode, Homer is trying to develop a Dog House for Santa's Little Helper. He manages to complete it, to which this exchange is made (and it is implied afterwards that he has to contribute to the Swear Jar):

Homer: What do you think?
Lisa: How's the dog supposed to get in?
Homer: Well, he just goes... (realizes that he forgot to add a door to the doghouse) Oh...!

  • Frank Grimes attempted to invoke this trope on Homer Simpson by having him join a nuclear power plant model-creating contest with the intention of having him lose. He actually won. It is played straight with one of the other contestants, when Ralph Wiggum lost because he mistakenly thought he was to simply model any building (he created a model of a house.
  • Wile E. Coyote was always prone to these. Some of the more memorable ones included a dose of Chekhov's Faulty Booby-Trap.
  • Futurama
    • Dr. Zoidberg attempts to fix his beloved slinky, presumably re-coiling it himself (offscreen) after it was all straightened out. Placing it on a staircase made of books, the mangled slinky topples down the books clumsily, and somehow catches fire at the bottom. Dr. Zoidberg bursts into tears.
    • Nearly everything Zoidberg loves catches fire. For instance, his house which was destroyed by a cigar end, three kilometres underwater.
    • In the episode "Future Stock", when Mom's children are voting on the Momcorp-Planet Express merger, Ignar has a controller with two buttons, "Yes" and "No." He somehow casts his vote for Pat Buchanan. His excuse: "The ballot was confusing." [8]
    • In the epic, "absolutely nothing on the line except the shame of defeat basketball" game between Earth and the Harlem Globetrotters planet in "Time Keeps on Slipping", one of the genetically-engineered basketball playing super mutants accidentally gets splattered. Fry offers to substitute. When asked if he's any good, he says that it doesn't really matter because they're up 35 points with two minutes left in the game, so it's not like he could seriously screw things up. Cue a timeskip where the game is over and somehow the Globetrotters are now ahead 244 to 86.
    • The sixth season has an episode where Fry is building a machine with Leonardo da Vinci. The blueprints keep rolling back up after being spread out, so Fry gets the idea to tape them to the table. The table snaps in half like a bear trap.
    • In "A Pharaoh to Remember", a depressed Bender decided to spray paint a blank building wall with a picture of himself and the phrase "Bender lives large and kicks butt." The building is then demolished, changing the picture to a person's behind and the phrase to "Bender licks butt" a la a MAD Magazine fold-in joke page.
    • In "The Butterjunk Effect", Amy and Leela's first attempt at a "Butterfly Derby" (which is like pro wrestling meets aerial combat, the contenders using butterfly-wingsuits) ends with them being trounced by multiple opponents. They even somehow lose a match where their opponents are their own reflections in a mirror; it happens offscreen, so exactly how is a mystery.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Gutter Balls", Ed Bighead has a flashback to his final frame on a bowling tournament. With the scores tied, he only needs one pin to win, and he deliberately wasted his first roll on a gutter ball. He throws the second ball, but instead of rolling down the lane, it flies off and ricochets all over the place, demolishing the alley. At the end, the only thing left standing are Ed's pins, completely untouched. He could Never Live It Down.
  • So many examples in SpongeBob SquarePants...
    • When he has to temporarily give up his job as fry cook for reasons irrelevant, Squidward takes over temporarily, and epic fail ensues. The customers cry out "He burnt my krabby patty," "He burnt my fries!" and finally: "He burnt my shake!"
    • In another instance he took over for Spongebob, it resulted in this exchange:

Customer 1:My sandwich tastes like a fried boot.
Customer 2: My sandwich is a fried boot!

Mrs. Puff [inflated, with distorted voice]: Oh, SpongeBob...Whyyyyyy?

  • In "Band Geeks", Squidward tells the flag-twirlers to speed it up, which then leads to their flags acting like propellers, sending them up hundreds of feet and crash into a blimp, which then explodes, followed by another band member playing Taps (poorly) and Squidward quietly going into the Troubled Fetal Position.
  • In "Le Big Switch" Krabs exchanges Spongebob for a french chef from a high quality restaurant during an exchange program in hopes that customer demand for fine expensive food will increase his profits. Things don't go well for Spongebob in his new surroundings initially since SpongeBob is quite literally incapable of cooking anything but Krabby Patties, to the degree where he can't even fry an egg without it instantly transforming into a burger. However his epic fail becomes an Epic Win when both his boss and his rich clientele both enjoy his Krabby Patties so much they literally latch onto his ankles begging him not to go back to the Krusty Krab after the exchange ends.
  • In "My Leg!" Spongebob tries to keep Fred from hurting his leg, something that tend to happen to Fred quite a lot. He manages to get himself jammed in a sawmill shredder (causing the whole sawmill to explode), gets Patrick beaten up by a Girl Scout, get stung by a school of jellyfish, kills Fred's New Age healer (who fortunately achieves transcendence as a result), wrecks a train, is literally stepped on in his attempt to shield Fred from a mud puddle, bear trap, nest of barnacles, and a bed of hot coals, breaks his own leg, Patrick's leg, a robot's leg, a convict's leg, and every part of Fred's body except his legs. Naturally, although it takes until the final scene of the short, poor Fred eventually hurts his leg anyway.
  • In The Jetsons, George and Jane once left their kids home alone for an extended period of time and Judy tried to serve ice cream. She burned it. She didn't melt the ice cream, she burned it without melting it, which is not actually impossible especially since sugar is highly combustible [1].
  • In the very first Transformers episode, Starscream shoots at the stasis locked Autobots... and revives them. Oops. He goes on to make a long, long career in Epic Fail after that.
  • During a tap contest in South Park, Butters loses one of his shoes onstage, unleashing Disaster Dominoes that end up destroying the stage and killing over a dozen audience members, traumatizing him.[9] After getting over it and entering another contest, this becomes an epic win as the same thing happens, this time killing his opponents (and retraumatizing him).
  • Superman the Animated Series has an episode where Mr. Mxyzptlk tries to harass Superman. He is basically a Physical God, even compared to Supes, but he promises to return home for three months if he ever says or spells his name backwards. This episode consists of Superman as a Screwy Squirrel, constantly fooling Mxy into banishing himself. At one point, his totally hot wife tells him to simply kill Superman before he can say anything. Thus Mxy spends the next 3 months building a killer robot. He marches off, full of vigor. His wife counts to three, and Mxy reappears, already defeated. At the end of the episode, Mxy is tricked into spelling his name TWICE, backwards. In a row. Using heat exhaust from the kryptonite rocket he turned into to chase Superman across Metropolis. Superman goes straight into Smug Super territory as he mocks Mxy before banishing him for good.

**Superman, as Clark Kent, is shaving himself when Mxy shows up**
Mxy: Your three months are up. And this time, you're not gonna cheat me out of my fun!
Clark: Oh, it's you again, Mr. Kltpzyxm.
Mxy: Not "Kltpzyxm!" Mxyzptlk! Now, the first thing I'm gonna do- Aw, nuts. *poof*
**Clark continues shaving.**

Moose #1: I can't believe you totaled a mammoth.
Moose #2: That mountain came out of nowhere. It was in my blind spot.

  • In Cats Don't Dance, the animals set up an audition with studio head L.B. Mammoth that is sabotaged by the villainous Darla Dimple far beyond what should be probable or even possible. Flooding the stage? Well, maybe. Flooding the entire studio? Pretty far-fetched. But wait, there's more: accidentally dragging L.B. himself behind you on your anchor as your prop boat floats through the streets, crashing into buildings? Ouch. Accidentally getting him tied to the mast when the boat sinks? Epic Fail.
  • Adventure Time has so many examples. Special mention has to go to Finn attempting to ask Princess Bubblegum out to movie night in "Go With Me."
    • Lemongrab, as a person, is a failure of epic proportions. He is the result of a failed science experiment. Princess Bubblegum created him as the heir to the Candy Kingdom Throne. Well... he came out wrong; horribly wrong. Even the benevolent Princess Bubblegum, who is his mother and loves all of her subjects unconditionally, is blatantly ashamed of him. He rides to the Candy Kingdom, screams at everyone, and sends literally EVERYODY to the dungeon for one million years. And yet, Princess Bubblegum's lemony-fresh failure is well-loved by a considerable portion of the Adventure Time fanbase for his extreme powers in epic failing- which include failing at being alive, failing at socializing, failing at understanding the concept of humor, and failing, in an epically miserable fashion, the act of ruling a kingdom.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • It only happens in her imagination, but in the episode "The Ticket Master", Pinkie Pie imagines playing "Pin the Tail on the Pony" at the Grand Galloping Gala, with the result that she somehow pins her own tail on the pony drawing and the paper tail in its place on herself.
    • In "Stare Master", Sweetie Belle tries to help her sister Rarity by retrieving a single tiny spool of ribbon and subsequently trashes the entire fashion boutique.

Sweetie Belle: Um, I'll just stand over here off to the side and not get in your way, like you said earlier...
Rarity: *eye twitch*

    • In the episode "Over a Barrel", Pinkie Pie's solution to a conflict between a group of Native American-like buffalo and some settlers is to sing an extremely Tastes Like Diabetes song about how they are all the same deep inside and should just get along. Afterwards the two leaders agree… that it was the single worst song they had ever heard, and that they still intend on fighting over the land. The real epic failure comes later: when the buffalo leader has a crisis of conscience, Pinkie figures it would be a good time for a reprise, which causes him to go berserk and lead the buffalo in the charge after all.
    • Subverted Trope in "A Bird in the Hoof", where Fluttershy starts trying to take care of Princess Celestia's pet bird, which seems to be in awfully bad shape. The bird only keeps getting worse, until it croaks and spontaneously combusts into a pile of ashes right in front of her face… at which point the princess shows up and tells her pet phoenix to stop fooling around.
    • Sweetie Belle's attempts at making breakfast in bed for Rarity in "Sisterhooves Social". A bowl full of black tar-like liquid turns out to be not burnt applesauce, but toast. As for the drinks...

Rarity: I didn't know you could... burn juice.

    • Pinkie Pie's attempts to babysit the Cakes' twins in "Baby Cakes" steadily deteriorate into this. While trying to put fresh diapers on them, she ends up wearing one on her own hindquarters and the other on her head.
    • Derpy has one in her first speaking appearance when she creates two big holes in the town hall (which was in bad shape to begin with): first by knocking a column over, then by sitting down out of the way and cracking the floor open. All the prior damage to it would appear, by Rainbow Dash's dialogue, to be her accidental doing as well. The epicness of these fails comes mostly from how she seems to achieve them by basically just being there.

Derpy: Oops! My bad.

  • A King of the Hill episode has Peggy doing the famous "Stick a flower in liquid nitrogen and watch it shatter" experiment, which goes off well...until she drops the flower on the floor and it doesn't break, after which, she tries bashing it against a desk and it still doesn't break.
  • In the ending of the Kim Possible episode where Ron ended up becoming a multi-millionaire (and gaining a personality change to match), Dr. Drakken managed to create a lair with a large laser cannon from the funds he acquired from Ron. He then demonstrates the weapon's abilities by firing it at the moon, deflect on mirrors installed there and start his fiendish Evil Plan. Instead, it returns right back to the source and demolishes his own lair. Shego then tells him that it was a colossal waste of money.
  • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Panic in the Sky", the Ultimen, an Expy duo of the Wonder Twins, tried to defeat Aquaman by turning into: A) water, in an attempt at drowning Aquaman; and B) a land-based dinosaur that could barely move in the water, let alone breathe in it. Aquaman's response: "King of the Seas, remember?"
  • Toy Story "Prepare to meet... MR. ANGRY EYES!!"
  • When Hans the puffin duels Skipper in The Penguins of Madagascar, he attempts to taunt him:

Hans: You should know that I kissed your sister! On the lips!
Skipper: I don't have a sister. And if I did, she wouldn't have lips.
Hans: ...Really? Then who did I kiss?

  • Mentioned in the first season finale of G.I. Joe Renegades when Mindbender's Bio-Viper is destroyed in an experiment he was sure would work.

Destro: I believe the term is EPIC FAIL.

  • Hey Arnold!: Anything involving Butt Monkey Eugene.
  • Richard Scarry's Best Learning Songs Video Ever: After Freddie Fox finishes his song about numbers, he slips on a Banana Peel and grabs onto the curtain, accidentally pulling it down and ruining the stage. This results in him and some of the other kids getting buried under the curtain.

Huckle Cat: Ladies and gentlemen, we're experiencing technical difficulties. Please take a fifteen-minute intermission.

  • In the Taz-Mania episode Deer Taz, when the black bear appears, Taz tries to attack the black bear with his usual attack, but the black bear is way too strong for Taz, and the attack epically fails.
    • Also, in Boys Just Wanna Have Fun, in one scene, Hugh, Taz's dad, tries to play a game (using a sponge football) with Taz and Jake, Taz's brother, but as soon as the painting of a woman appears, Hugh ends up running RIGHT INTO THE FLIPPING WALL!
    • In Frights of Passage, in one scene, Francis X Bushlad epically fails when he says that he always triumphs, but ends up falling off a waterfall.
    • In Hypnotazed, Bull tries to hypnotize Axel into thinking that he is like Taz, but Axel's eyes reflect the beam right back at Bull, causing epic fail to occur.
    • Also, in the episode Tazmanian Lullaby, Francis kept on slipping on the same banana peel.
  • In Samurai Jack, Aku at one point sends an entire robot army after Jack, and after one trips, the entire army is destroyed. Aku's expression sells it.
  • In the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode "Zoobotnik", Robotnik orders Scratch and Grounder to go downstairs and open the door.

Robotnik: Think you can manage that without falling on your faces?
Scratch: No problem.
Grounder: Can do.
(proceed to do just that)

Rigby: How do you score negative points? How is that even possible?!

  • The four times Francine stated "I Told You So" to Stan in American Dad: Stan somehow crashing a British double-decker bus into the garage, Stan accidentally killing two bungee-jumpers by wrapping the cord around their necks, Stan losing a game of chess to a turkey, and Stan setting the backyard pool on fire -- while there was water in it.
  • Charlie Brown has had a lot of Epic Fails, but one of the worst is in the movie A Boy Named Charlie Brown where he blows the spelling bee by misspelling "beagle". That's the breed of dog Snoopy is (Snoopy himself in the audience yipping happily as he thinks this his owner could not possibly miss this one), and he misspells it!
  • In Star Trek: Lower Decks, Rutherford not only flunks a advanced command training simulation and somehow manages to get 105% casualties - meaning he caused the deaths of more virtual crewmates than the computer had programmed into it, something Ransom tells him has never happened before. Rutherford makes up for it later though by passing Shaxs' SmorgasBorg simulation (where he has to single-handedly fight a dozen Borg drones unarmed) with flying colors, even though Shaxs' had designed it with the intent to teach recruits how to handle defeat.

Real Life

More serious losses on both sides were only avoided by the extremely low quality of Russian naval artillery fire, with one battleship reported to have fired more than 500 shots without hitting anything.

    • And then It Got Worse. The Russian fleet then went on to fight in the Battle of Tsushima, halfway around the world. Where they proceeded to lose over 5000 people, had 21 of their ships sunk and were thoroughly humiliated. The Japanese? Lost just over 100 people and only three ships in comparison. So not only did the Russian fleet fight a fishing fleet and—arguably—lose, then get sunk by a real navy, they almost started a war while already losing badly in one.
    • It's worth noting that two Russians were killed in the "battle". The fishing boats fighting back? No. Friendly fire between the Russian fleet. They even managed to blow up a priest in their friendly fire exchange.
  • The USS William D. Porter, a WWII destroyer, was apparently the center of a screwball comedy. Its failures include destroying a sister ship's deck while pulling out of port, blowing up a base commander's front yard, shooting up another sister ship in battle, nearly assassinating the president...by accident...twice, and was finally sunk by a kamikaze plane that they had already shot down. Plus, it performed three of those feats in a single mission. In fact, they were so incompetent that the Navy at first thought that the crew was part of an organized plot to assassinate the President and arrested the entire crew, a first in the entire history of the US Navy.
  • Part of the reason for Cleveland's reputation as a Place Worse Than Death is because, at one point, the water pollution was so terrible that the nearby Cuyahoga River caught on fire... over a dozen times!
  • Chris Matthews bombing Jeopardy on May 14, 2012. Note that this was Celebrity Jeopardy, which is notably easier compared to most Jeopardy levels.
  • The B-36 bomber had a pin that would prevent accidental release of the bombs, which would have to be released before takeoff and landing to allow an emergency cargo jettison. This pin was placed over the bombs, requiring one of the crewmen to awkwardly stretch over the warheads to release the pin. On May 22, 1957, while removing the pin during a landing approach at New Mexico's Kirtland Airforce Base, the navigator accidentally snagged the released cord, dropping a 10 megaton H-bomb straight through the bomb bay doors. The explosive charge surrounding the atomic payload exploded on impact, but fortunately it wasn't properly armed, preventing the warhead from going critical. Had it gone off, Albuquerque would have been wiped out due to poor design
  • The 2003 Davis Cup. During the inaugural ceremony the national anthems of the different teams are played. When it's the turn of Spain instead of the current one, this other is played (if you're curious, the Himno de Riego was Spain's national anthem... seventy years before that event)
  • In November 1970, an eight-ton sperm whale beached itself on a beach near Florence, Oregon. Authority over it fell to the Oregon Highway Division, and they were at a loss as to what to do with it. After a consultation with the U.S Navy, the OHD figured that burying it would be infeasible. So instead, they decided to blow it up with dynamite. Specifically, a half-ton of dynamite. This was largely because nobody really knew how much would be needed, and figured that it would be enough to vaporize the corpse. To document the occasion, a news crew from Portland arrived with cameras and reporter in tow. What happened next was right out of a Tremors film. The whale exploded, but did not disintegrate as hoped. Instead, it was blown into rotting chunks of blubber. The resulting rain of dead whale splattered an un-prepared audience and one rather sizable chunk flattened an Oldsmobile (ironically, owned by a veteran with explosives training, who just bought the car as a promotion to the event that flattened it). While it was intended to clean up the whale, the blast instead spread the whale around the beach, left a huge crater in said beach, attracted what seemed like every seagull in the Pacific Northwest and caused thousands of dollars in property damage. The Exploding Whale almost faded into obscurity...until a newspaper article in 1990 re-discovered it. Now, it can be seen on YouTube for all to laugh at.
  • On March 30th 2020 a Venezuelan navy ship attempted to detain an unarmed cruise ship in international waters under claims of violating territorial waters. The armed ship lost due to averting Ramming Always Works. The information on this incident wasn't publicly released for two days, making it difficult to believe.
  • When the Government of Canada prohibited private ownership of semi-automatic rifles on May 1, 2020, one of the rifles on the prohibited list was the Black Rifle Company BRC15B, a variant of the AR-15. The Black Rifle Coffee Company tweeted that they were on the prohibited list. That tweet was picked up by far-right sites in the USA, who claimed that the Government of Canada couldn't tell the difference between a rifle and a cup of coffee. The Epic Fail here, of course, was on the part of the far-right sites who couldn't be bothered to do some simple fact-checking (the actual list was online before they ran their stories) in their haste to set up a Strawman Political.
  • In the 1970s, one school district in the US dealt with a demand that the book Making It With Mademoiselle be removed from the shelves of the high-school library because of its "obvious" sexual content. An assiduous investigation, in the form of actually opening the book, revealed that it was a volume of sewing patterns from the editors of Mademoiselle, a fashion magazine.
  1. In this case, Witch tried to use her Meteor attack on Arle, but a few seconds later, a star ends up falling and hitting the ground.
  2. Not taking into account the Rule of Symbolism common to nursery rhymes, of course.
  3. That was the model number, not the serial number. It was worth maybe ten bucks.
  4. Hi Jump Kick has a 10% chance of missing, and when it does it deal a fairly large amount of damage to the user. Using this move can easily result in knocking your own Pokemon out.
  5. Selfdestruct is a move that deal massive damage to the opponent(s), but also knocks out the user. As a Normal-type move, it does not affect Ghost-types such as Gengar. Similarly embarassing is using Selfdestruct against an opponent using Dig, Fly or Dive - moves which make the user (mostly) invulnerable for one turn).
  6. Actually, it appears to be some weird hybrid of a volcano and a bottomless pit.
  7. in reality, it was actually the other way around and Usher was the one who filed for divorce
  8. If you don't get it, it's a reference to the 2000 presidential election in Florida, which saw an above-average amount of votes in heavily Democratic counties like Palm Beach for Buchanan which Buchanan himself attributed to the confusing nature of the ballot, and ultimately gave Bush the presidency.
  9. As Stan later informs him, this was even worse than it seems because a woman killed was pregnant and two family members of victims committed suicide.
  10. He cut off the leg of his patient in record time, but his final cut was so enthusiastic that it also sliced two fingers off his assistant's hand and cut through a spectator's coat, which was splattered with blood (not from the spectator's body). The patient died due to gangrene, his assistant died for the same reason, and the spectator was so terrified that the knife had cut into his vitals that he died from fright. Chapeau!
  11. The reason he had to go quickly is because anesthesia did not exist at the time, so the patient was not only conscious, but could feel everything. The quicker the surgery, the better for the patient's survival.