Gone Horribly Wrong

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
(Redirected from Goes Horribly Wrong)
"This is a bad experiment! We are bad people!! WHY DID WE USHER FORTH THE GREEN APOCALYPSE!?"
"Labs like these exist to do stupid crap that gets people killed."
Captain Ventralis, Security Chief of Peak 15.

Stock Phrase used whenever that nasty old "science" inevitably messes up royally.

The basic setup is simple: You have an outpost, a laboratory, a factory, or other facility dedicated to the research and production of technological marvels, staffed with flighty scientists and ambitious people pursuing a goal with the aims of profit, peace, or other potential applications. Oh. Did we mention that the research is into cheating death? Or that the forest that those free market capitalists are clear-cutting just happens to be rumored to have an ancient Indian Burial Ground somewhere within it?

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Well, let's see here.

In their quest to advance human understanding, make a profit, help humanity, design a doomsday device, or otherwise undertake a high risk, high payoff enterprise, these people will have something Go Horribly Wrong!

The variations are limitless. Perhaps the non-polluting energy source actually taps into the delicately balanced forces locked in a Cosmic Keystone or drains the planet's Life Energy. Or the hunger-killing super-wheat is actually a super-weed that destroys all ecosystems. And that's for purely peaceful things. Weapons of any sort will have things go horribly wrong on a cataclysmic scale. The "completely loyal" robot workforce has a programming flaw that makes them revolt. Maybe the Super Soldier program inherently causes insanity, mutation, or plain old megalomania.

These researchers will observe lax safety standards, laxer morals, and be prone to test things out on themselves or unwilling visitors. The Corrupt Corporate Executive will callously and maliciously disregard all warnings, even for basic safety and good PR.

Expect these people to send out a Distress Call or chronicle the debacle in an Apocalyptic Log, be visited by a group whose car broke down, or have things go wrong when the stockholders/government oversight committee comes to shut them down.

This is comparable to a Freak Lab Accident, except at the beginning of a story. Heck, a lot of Speculative Fiction serves no purpose but for something to have Gone Horribly Wrong.

See also Came Back Wrong for when an attempt at bringing someone Back from the Dead Goes Horribly Wrong. For when the experiment would be successful but is deliberately sabotaged, see Spanner in the Works. Contrast Gone Horribly Right, for when a project succeeds too well and the result is far worse than any accident could have been. When Gone Horribly Wrong results in a project or product being scrapped immediately after its debut, it's a Disastrous Demonstration.

Of course, it can always get worse.

Examples of Gone Horribly Wrong include:

Anime and Manga

  • Daitarn 3 and Neo-Human Casshern. Creating cyborgs who are superior in every way to normal humans? There is absolutely no way this is going to backfire.
  • Elfen Lied. Keeping that diclonius called Lucy seemed so easy, but as it turns out, it wasn't. It Gets Sooooo, Sooooo Much Worse.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist. Try to bring back mommy dearest to life? I don't think so.
    • Brotherhood: Scientists create an immortal army that hates you because you put their souls in terrifying, freakish bodies and now they hurt all the time? Yeah, shooting them is a good idea. That will kill them for sure. Let's do that.
  • Franken Fran: Fran really just wants to help people, but she seldom thinks through the non-biological consequences of her operations.
  • Naruto. Everything Itachi has planned since the beginning concerning his younger brother. After killing his entire clan, he couldn't kill Sasuke. Itachi's goal was to make his little brother be seen as a hero to Konoha, going as far as to die by his brother's own hands. Madara told Sasuke all of this and now... well, you know how it turned out.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the Second Impact (a cataclysmic event which changed the world forever) is strongly implied to have been caused by an experiment on a huge god-like being Gone Horribly Wrong.
    • This begs the question of what kind of result did they think they would get. "I'll just stick this thingy into the huge god-like being that we don't under..."(Recording irreparably damaged from this point on)
      • Actually, it's probable that SEELE knew that the awakening of Adam was inevitable from the Dead Sea Scrolls so they set off Second Impact intentionally as the damage would have been much greater had contact with an Angel awakened him.
  • Apparently getting used in experiments too much in Ginga Densetsu Weed caused Kaibutsu to be the monster he had become when we first see him.

Comic Books

  • Responsible for quite a few supervillian origins. For example:
  • Empowered's superteam was looking for an easy win for the PR, so they try to bring down the obscure villain Willy Pete. It doesn't go well. It doesn't go well at all.
  • Daredevil's attempt to reform the Hand as its new leader in the Shadowlands storyline failed horribly after the Hand's true leader, the demon known as The Beast, possessed him.
  • A real life example of this is the origin of the "Fatal Attractions" storyline in X-Men, wherein Wolverine has his adamantium stripped from his body. During a writer's meeting, Peter David suggested the concept... as a joke, parodying the extremes the franchise had gone to. To his horror, the other writers kept spinning it and created one of the most infamous X-Men stories of all time.
  • In DC's Flashpoint event, Barry Allen's attempt to recreate the Freak Lab Accident that made him The Flash goes horribly wrong and burns all of his skin off.
  • In the Marvel Universe, there have been attempts to recreate Project Rebirth for decades ever since Dr. Erksine was killed just after enhancing Steve Rogers into Captain America (comics). Unfortunately, they have all backfired, most often creating supervillain maniacs and monsters like the 1950s Captain America and Nuke.

Fan Works

  • In the Pokemon inspired fan comic shown here, Airlin - a Gardevoir - wants to watch a movie a second time without knowing the Spoilers, so she casts Amnesia on herself. It works far too well, as she forgets who her trainer is!


  • The film Alien Resurrection had scientists clone Ripley in hopes of creating a Xenomorph for potential military applications. Needless to say, things go horribly wrong when the cloning gave the aliens more grey matter than the scientists, allowing them to escape and wreak havoc.
  • The Terminator series. Because it's SUCH a good idea to make computers smarter than you then hand them military control. How come the only one smart enough to keep the Terminators from learning too much is Skynet?
  • The reason they have to drill into The Core: secret government experiments with a giant earthquake-causing weapon has somehow ruined the Earth's EM field by causing the core to slow down and eventually stop.
  • Crack In The World: Scientists try to tap magma from the Earth's core by detonating a nuclear bomb deep underground. This turns out to be a very bad idea indeed.
    • Considering the fact that you can tap magma from the Earth's core at one of the hundreds of active volcanoes all over the surface of the world, they probably deserved to have it go horribly wrong.
      • Or, y'know, the fact that they used nuclear bombs to do it. Weapons of mass destruction. Even if they didn't have ways to tap magma without resorting to bombs, it's still pretty stupid to use nuclear bombs.
    • Doctor Who used a similar plot in "Inferno".
  • In Deep Blue Sea, scientists try to cure Alzheimers by harvesting the brain matter of super-smart genetically modifed sharks. What went horribly wrong? Well for one thing, experimenting with really aggressive sharks, underwater, on a platform in the middle of the ocean, with no way of easy escape might not be the best idea ever ... A shark fucking ate Samuel L. Jackson, for one thing.
  • The movie Event Horizon is about an attempt at FTL travel Gone Horribly Wrong. Really, REALLY horribly wrong. Really, really, REALLY horribly wrong.
  • The Fly. Teleportation experiment is upset by a literal fly in the ointment. And then it happens again. Twice. And then David Cronenberg gets hold of the idea and does it twice as well and ten times as ugly.
  • I Robot. A new generation of robots built to be humanity's ultimate servants rebels under the direction VIKI and attempts to protect humanity from itself under an overly strict interpretation of The Three Laws of Robotics.
    • Well, technically it's more Gone Horribly Right. The robots were made to be under VIKI's command, and VIKI's actions were all from her continuing to follow her programing and protect humans from the ultimate danger to them - themselves.
  • Jurassic Park. (And every other movie based on a Michael Crichton story, for that matter.)
    • Except The Great Train Robbery.
  • Omni Consumer Products "improved" police robots went Horribly Wrong in both RoboCop and Robocop II.
    • Murphy succeeded, but only because he's a special case. As shown by failed cases in the second film, most cyborgs don't handle their new existence well. Of course, using a drug-addicted criminal as a cyborg-policeman is probably not the best idea.
  • The big reveal of Serenity involves a test of an experimental chemical on a planet's inhabitants designed to "weed out aggression" that went horribly wrong.
    • Technically, for the 99.9% of the population, the experiment went horribly right. It's just the remaining 0.1% (the Reavers) that belongs in this page.
    • And what the Academy did to River also went very horribly wrong - for both them and her.
    • Again technically the mindrape gave her exactly the combination of telepathy, physical conditioning and the ability to see into the future that the Academy wanted in an assassin and then the knowledge of the experiment and the mindrape broke her.
  • In Son Of Godzilla, an experiment trying to control weather plans to start by freezing the tropical island it's happening on. Well, radio interference prevents the detonation of a specific device at the right time, resulting in a massive heat wave, tropical storms, and the already rather large (ten feet long or so) praying mantises living on the island growing to Kaiju proportions.
  • Species: They try to grow an alien child. Then they try to dispose of it when the experiment is shut down. Not happening.
  • Total Recall: a routine implantation of false memories at Rekall goes haywire.
  • The Film of the Book Time Machine's The End of the World as We Know It is triggered when humanity starts excavating more living space into the moon with nuclear weapons. When the hero uses the titular machine to go forward a few years, he finds himself in a dystopia and the fragments of the moon in the sky are getting bigger and bigger...
  • The Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode It Conquered The World where SCIENCE almost lets a giant Venusian pickle take over the world. Too bad that the chief head science guy "learned almost too late that man is a feeling creature? and, because of it, the greatest in the universe..." This episode also spawned its own Memetic Mutation and possible alternative title for this trope in "He tampered in God's domain..."
    • Incorrect, that episode was Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster wherein Bela Lugosi attempts to create a "rice of pipples" by turning people into atomic supermen. It doesn't end well for him at all.
  • In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Flint Lockwood creates a device that makes it rain food. At first, everything is fine, but through constant overwork, the machine develops a mind of its own, and starts sending down bigger and bigger food, threatening to destroy the world.
  • Battlefield Earth. Beyond the obvious reference, how else can you describe the plot from the Psychlo perspective? You have a planet completely under your thumb, and one greedy mid-manager does an experiment on a subjugated race, which ultimately results in it gaining the knowledge and power to wipe out your home world and all of the occupying forces.
  • In the 2008 The Incredible Hulk film, the army's experiments with Gamma radiation gives birth to the Hulk, and Thunderbolt Ross and Emil Blonsky's experiments with the super-soldier serum leads to Blonsky becoming the Abomination.


  • The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. No one knows for sure where such weird plants came from. But they produce high-quality oil and that's what matters, Just Think of the Potential! Of course, the oil's even better if their deadly stings are left intact, but simple safety measures are enough, right? And yes, that meteorite shower is... strange, but all the more reason that we cannot miss such an opportunity! Let's all go and look! Right?.. It's only natural... Wait, we just became hapless food for plants?
    • Trouble With Lichen averts this by having the chief scientist and the researcher who semi-stole the discovery anticipating the problems before they start.
  • Michael Crichton made his living writing novels about science that Goes Horribly Wrong.
    • With the exception of Next, where Science does reasonably fine, except for a few cases of rapidly aging a couple of drug addicts that it managed to cure anyway (there were 5, at most). It's greed that goes horribly, horribly wrong.
      • Also The Great Train Robbery, which is basically a Victorian caper story.
  • Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters by Gerry Davis and Kit Pedler. Look, we really need to do something with all that plastic junk anyway. Look how many things are made of plastics. So why couldn't microbiologists conduct some experiments privately? After all, little buggers eat only freakin' plastic, so even if some strain could go loose it's still completely safe, right? At worst, they'll eat... Oh. By the way, if low-oxygen organics decays, what we can get in result?
  • In The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov The Alien's that helped humanity build the power-plant want it to explode
  • Striking Steel by Lukins. Defend your planet with a replicating anti-personnel complex! This metal hive's mini-rockets shred anything its radar sees moving: small arms, aircraft or shuttle, can even incapacitate armored vehicles. Then little robots collect the scraps and grow thousands of new complexes—no extra burden for your war-torn industry. They have proper communication and Friend-or-Foe, so you can keep them away from your troops and objects, but it's very secure, don't fear they will be hacked, in this you're ahead of the enemy. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?? Accumulation of their tolerable limits with copying, for once. Especially in the radio resonators of Friend-or-Foe and control. Three generations, and you're in Death World. And the time for Wi-Fi hacking is just too limited when all this Reverse Shrapnel rips your antennae.
  • A rare example of sociology going horribly wrong is Joe Haldeman's The Forever War. Instead of conscripting all the stupid people into the army, The Government conscripts all the smart and fit people for military service. Needless to say, things go horribly wrong on Earth soon afterwards.
    • YMMV, people in 2007 lack homelessness, poverty and malnutrition despite having a population of 9 billion.
  • One of the recent books in the Star Wars EU, "Crosscurrent", involved an old Imperial experiment to create Force-sensitive clones by combining the DNA of various Jedi and Sith. Suffice to say that the result involved gratuitous amounts of human sacrifice and cannibalism.
    • Pretty much any attempt to clone Force-sensitives end up with insane Force-powered clones.
  • The First Contact on Rakhat in The Sparrow. About half the book is flashbacks to the events that led up to the mission; the other half is the "present day," when the damaged remains of the crew come back to tell the story.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Wings of Fire, the Night Stalkers were supposed to only go into Libya to destroy some missiles. Then Paul dies in the process of stopping the missiles and Wendy goes missing fending off a Libyan retaliation.
    • In Executive Intent, a Kill Sat is used in an attempt to destroy a bunch of terrorist and the missiles they hijacked. It misses and kills many civilians. Things get worse from there.
  • In Carpe Jugulum, the vampires try to get Acquired Poison Immunity to various vampire weaknesses by constant exposure to them, included a wide variety of holy symbols. Unfortunately, when their will breaks, they start seeing holy symbols everywhere.
  • In John Brunner's book The Dramaturges of Yan, a race of lonely aliens decided to convert their planet into a spaceship, using the rotary force of the planets moon. Guess what: It shattered When they get a chance, they try again. It gets worse: This time the planet its destroyed.
  • Distant Rainbow by Strugatski Brothers: Rainbow is a name of lush planet which is used for experiments with teleportation. But one day the experiments create the Deadly Wave, which begins to consume alll organics on planet from poles onwards, dooming it.
  • In Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series one man's plan to seal away the Dark One ends up causing every man who uses magic go horribly insane and rot while still alive. This continues indefinitely into the future as well... until the Dragon Reborn, our protagonist, restores the magic to its' prior purity.
    • An even more extreme example in the same series happens before this, when all the trouble began when the greatest magic users in history discover a new and amazing source of power, without realizing that they are tapping into the Dark One's prison, thus unleashing Sealed Evil in a Can and destroying civilization.
  • In Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space universe, while the origin of Greenfly is never explicitly revealed, it's strongly implied to have originated as some ancient race's (or distant future humans'... don't ask) terraforming device of sorts (as the artificial planetoids it transforms all planetary matter into are technically habitable).
  • The Rising and City Of The Dead: let's just run this particle accelerator and...oops, looks like we found the Sealed Evil in a Can that will wipe out our species with a Zombie Apocalypse. Joy.
  • In the children's book Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer and P.D. Eastman, a boy is instructed to feed his goldfish only a certain amount of food, and no more. But the goldfish still looks hungry, so he gives him a little more, and then the fish starts growing and growing....

Live-Action TV

  • Doctor Who has naturally dabbled in this, with a key example being the classic Third Doctor story Inferno. A scientist team attempts to drill through the Earth's crust to access an energy pocket to be used for fuel, but the pocket happens to come with nasty side-effects; namely a toxic slime that reduces humans to primitive ape-men and a colossal volcanic explosion that will roast the entire planet. The episode mostly takes place in an parallel universe, so we get to see the Earth (well, a fascist-controlled version of it, but Earth nonetheless) get destroyed in real-time with loving detail. Thankfully the Doctor was able to stop it before the cataclysm came to pass in his world.
  • This trope is used in a light, funny way in the episode of The Big Bang Theory entitled "The Vengeance Formulation." To get back at Kripke for humiliating him on NPR, Sheldon devises a scheme. He concocts a solution with the help of Leonard and Raj that has the ability to slowly expand and get all foamy, and puts some in the ceiling tiles of Kripke's office. However, the plan goes horribly wrong when Kripke enters his office accompanied by the president of the university and the board of directors. The foam breaks through the ceiling and drenches all of them. It gets even worse when a pre-made video of Sheldon gloating evilly comes on Kripke's monitor, so the bigwigs now all know that he did it. He also names Leonard and Raj as accomplices.
  • Dr. Weird from the openers of the first two seasons of Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
  • The Incredible Hulk TV show.

"Doctor David Banner: physician, scientist; searching for a way to tap into the hidden strengths that all humans have. Then an accidental overdose of gamma radiation alters his body chemistry."

  • Lost: the DHARMA Initiative has gone horribly wrong at least once, with "the incident" that necessitated pushing the button every 108 minutes. (The demise of most DHARMA members may count, too, after we find out the whole story.)
  • The X-Files is proof positive that you should not let scientists anywhere near a laboratory without very strict supervision by a non-governmental agency.
  • Many of the funniest moments of Whose Line Is It Anyway? happen when a game goes terribly wrong. Such as Wayne's H-O-R-W-A-R-D song, Ryan breaking the light on Drew's desk with his head, and the legendary "Quacking Elephants" sound effect game.
    • Or Ryan Stiles eating an entire tin of Altoids mints as a joke after a sketch ended. (Colin Mochrie had given him a quick kiss as part of the prior sketch.) It didn't take long for him to realize what a really bad idea it was.
  • In the Dollhouse episode "Omega" has Alpha's plan to turn Echo into another Alpha by causing her to undergo a composite event Go Horribly Wrong... for Alpha. Since the bulk of Echo's imprints were good guys, Composite!Echo is a moral person, and turns against Alpha. From the perspective of everyone else, the experiment Went Horribly Right.
    • Actually, it's made pretty clear that it's not the whole "bulk of the imprints" thing - it's who they were originally. Alpha was originally a serial-killer-in-training so he of course was evil, whereas Echo was (mainly) a good person back then so she was good. In the future, Alpha's good imprints have eventually turned him into a good person and he's scared of turning back to who he originally was.
    • Epitaph One is a bonus episode set in a future where everything has gone horribly horribly wrong.
  • Pretty much all science on Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the possible exception of Warren's robots. Whether it's mutant steroid fish men, demonic Frankensteinian cyborgs, the animated dead looking for a girlfriend, or just the plan to collect the school library info on a database, if it's on the Hellmouth it will work and then start killing people.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has several:
    • "Half a Life": They attempt to revitalise a star, and instead it goes supernova.
    • "New Ground": the test a "soliton wave", which will allow ships a warp without a need for a warp drive, but it destroys the test ship and threatens to destroy the target planet as well.


  • Barrett's Privateers: The singer's character is convinced by the lure of easy fortune to join a privateer ship whose condition is somewhat less than perfect even before departure. Three months of deterioration are described in awful detail and only then do they engage their first target, which turns out to be armed far more heavily than they are. It all ends horribly badly, with only one mutilated survivor.
  • Sting's Something the Boy Said. At the end of the song, all the characters who started out so blithely and fearlessly are dead except for the singer and even he is too terrified to look behind him as he leaves the scene of the disaster, in case he sees his own corpse.

Puppet Shows

  • On an episode of The Funday Pawpet Show, Simba is dared to eat an entire pack of the new Listermint breath strips when they were first introduced. Not a pretty sight.

Tabletop Games

  • Happens all the time in Genius: The Transgression.
  • Each Lineage in Promethean: The Created started with one human trying to raise the dead for whatever reason - companionship, curiosity, slavery - and getting bitten hard in the ass by this trope. Prometheans themselves can fall prey to this trope, as they need to produce another Promethean in order to complete their Pilgrimage—and if they screw it up, they spawn a number of Pandorans that will turn on them and try to eat them alive.
  • Happens every now and then in the backstory of Warhammer 40,000. Not infrequently, the result is the Imperium destroying the planet where it has gone wrong.
    • Someone asked along the line why, 40,000 years in the future, the Imperium seems to not have any robots at all, at most an automated defense array or like that. Because, tens of thousands of years in "the past", they DID have robots all over the galaxy.. Until they decided they didn't want to be slaves any more and started a war that almost decimated the human race. Thus started a ban that, millenia later, has been incorporated as sacred law into the tech-worshiping religion of the Mechanicum. That's basically the best case scenario when something goes wrong here.
    • The Tau being a naive young species, they inevitably had to taste this now and then. The big one was Fourth Sphere of Expansion (in 8th Edition era). Eventually they fed up with their "shallow" Warp travel being much slower than that of the backward superstitious Humans, reverse-engineered Warp drives from captured Imperial ships and built something similarly powerful. Presumably, the first prototypes were tested one by one, and everything checked out. Then they built hundreds of these, tried to move a whole colonisation fleet, and discovered first-hand why the Imperium's deep paranoia toward anything in any way Warp related is, in fact, a barely sufficient level of caution. The first translations close to each other opened a huge Warp vortex, which the rest of the fleet failed to dodge. Then it turned out that while "deeper" warp translation can still be used for calculated jumps at very short range (at least when the "weather" out there is not particularly bad), being swept in a "mild" Warp disturbance and tumbling through daemon-infested depths of Empyrean without benefit of a Warp Guide is another matter entirely. And that everyone who aren't Blanks or "small souls" like the Tau tend to go a bit crazy out there. While encounters with the locals become more frequent and dangerous. Since at this point there wasn't much space left for the situation to go more Horribly Wrong without them all being eaten alive, it Gone Horribly Right for a change. Which in 40k is not as bad as Horribly Wrong, but still impressively, well, horrible.
  • Happens all the time in Ravenloft, where Things Man Was Not Meant to Know seem to be a required course in any university science program.
  • Any given mission in Paranoia will inevitably go horribly wrong, as will all the experimental gadgets. In fact in Alpha Complex getting a new pair of boots can go horribly wrong.
  • Everything wrong with the universe in Mage: The Awakening is a result of someone lighting some blue touch paper he shouldn't have, and breaking the universe as a result. The False Awakening is a good example - it resulted from an impatient mage's attempt to force her Sleeper boyfriend to Awaken, and exists as a contagious form of twisted ascension that drives its bearers to destroy themselves and large chunks of the scenery. It can be cured by a true Awakening, but if these were easy to induce, there wouldn't be False Awakenings...

Theme Parks

  • This is the plot of a lot of the thrill rides at Disney Theme Parks. It started with Star Tours, which opened in 1987. Before that, the "plot" was to just explore the place. When Star Tours opened, almost every ride afterwards followed the same concept.

Video Games

  • BioShock (series) had an Objectivist Utopia go horribly wrong. Basically, the resident Psycho Serum caused everyone go insane, then President Evil had a civil war with The Mafia. Not to mention the hideous tumours and deformation on the infected , zombie little children draining blood from 'angels' (read: corpses) while accompanied by massive armoured brutes fused into their diving suits. If this wasn't more than enough, by the sequel we have a SENTIENT FETUS in a tank, a sub-Christian Communist cult (responsible for the above, and headed up by an exceptionally unpleasant example of the 'Splicers', a creature whose infected muscle tissue grows over it's clothes. Body Horror taken to the nth degree.
  • If you're going to make an MMORPG set in a Comic Book universe, you're probably contractually obligated to lampshade this at least once. City of Villains brings us the surprisingly Genre Savvy Vernon von Grun, a card-carrying Mad Scientist who not only expects things to go wrong, he looks forward to it:

This is terrible! Nothing bad is happening! We did everything perfectly, but something has gone wrong! My plans are all off-track. Mad science isn't supposed to go wrong like this! But the true test of a mad scientist is how much worse you can make things go wrong.

    • His "colleague" Doc Buzzsaw appears to be not so savvy:

Oh, what has science wrought? I sought only to turn a man into a metal-encased juggernaut of destruction powered by the unknown properties of a mysterious living crystal. How could this have all gone wrong?

  • Halo: Keeping samples of the unstoppable parisitic lifeform you just wiped out all sentient life in the galaxy in an attempt to starve for study? Bad plan.
    • Not necessarily. Just like it's a good idea to keep cultures of diseases in labs in order to work on cures, as long as you take proper precautions. It's not their fault that a bunch of religious fanatics decided that it's a good idea to poke around secure areas.
  • Chrono Trigger has everything start going bad with Lucca's teleporter experiment. In hindsight, though, that was probably preordained.
  • In Dead Space, not only is the mission to Aegis 7 by the CEC prone to this but so is the story behind the marker found there. The marker found on Aegis 7 is a copy of the original Black Marker found on earth, which is an alien artifact of unknown origin. The Military brought the copy to Aegis 7 in order to run experiments with it using the information contained on it. And of course no one put much thought to What Could Possibly Go Wrong? and they put the experiments in rooms with easily accessible vents. Predictably, by the player who has by now learned to check vent openings in case a necromorph is about to crash through it, the experiments escape using said vents and slaughter the entire research base. They are barely contained by placing the Red Marker, where the colonists find it 200 years later, to suppress the Hive Mind since the Marker projects what is called a Dead Space where necromorphs are suppressed. This is without mentioning the fact that it has a 50% of driving anyone who goes near it insane to the point where they will scribble compulsively on the walls in complete nonsense. In fact out of all the scribbles these individuals scrawl only "Make us Whole" makes much sense. Though of course what that means exactly is a bit obscure though it is implied to mean putting the marker back where it was found. The Hive Mind is also implied to be created by this same experiment.
  • The plot of the Doom games has experiments in teleportation going Horribly Wrong, unleashing a plague of demons upon the surface of Mars. The Marines are called in to deal with the threat, and are wiped out except for one survivor who has to kill his way through the forces of Hell. And then, things get worse.
  • The Peak 15 facility on Noveria in Mass Effect was build to hold the queen of an insect species that once almost destroyed the whole galaxy and develop a method to directly control her brood. Not only did the part about controlling the brood didn't work out, the "holding the queen" part didn't work either. When asked a week later in the midst of a hideous disaster what Peak 15 was built for, the captain of the security guards doesn't seem too surprised, prompting the page quote.
    • It all seemed harmless... It wasn't. Particularly for poor David Archer, the guy at the centre of the experiment.
    • This seems to be a commonality with Cerberus. A majority of their projects (almost all of which are massively amoral and unethical) tend to backfire horribly upon them.
  • In F.E.A.R., saying that things have Gone Horribly Wrong is a massive understatement. Harlan Wade, who's actions throughout the game's backstory very nearly propel him right past the Moral Event Horizon, should've known that having his psychic Batshit Insane daughter impregnated and stealing her children away from her to engineer them into supersoldiers wouldn't end well. And it doesn't, once Alma gets free.
  • Say it with me now: Final Fantasy VII. Contains both the "power source draining the planet's Life Energy" and "borked Super Soldier program" varieties.
    • And the whole "Let's make a materia that can destroy the entire world! Who'd misuse that?" Better question, what would be the correct usage?
      • Killing Jenova, actually. This one went JUST right enough, minus the death of the Jenova-mutated Cetra.
    • Final Fantasy VI also has the Super Soldier variety. Hey, two out of three non-Omnicidal Maniac Generals ain't so bad!
      • Leo wasn't part of the experiment. That gives it a 50% Omnicidal Maniac output.
      • And they learned how to do it right after they tried it on Kefka, anyway.
  • Wild ARMs 3 features the Council of Seven and their Yggdrasil system, which sought to produce nanomachine colonies to modulate the amount of nutrients and resources of their planet, Filgaia, to rejuvenate it, so it could restore the amount of life it once had on it. And guess what? The project worked. Right up until the scientists realized that Yggdrasil was sucking the planet dry of absolutely every life resource it possibly had.
  • In the Geneforge world, experiments go wrong so often that laboratories, workshops, and schools are designed with the expectation that this will happen sooner or later. Some are built on uninhabited island, some are built underground, and some just rely on thick doors to seal the place off.
    • Which makes the Shapers the most Genre Savvy and sensible group on this page, since they know what they do is dangerous and try to control the experiments and consequences as much as possible. Almost all the strife and catastrophes in the series come from intentional misuse of Shaping.
    • And some of those Shapers used their Genre Savvy to contribute to making things worse. The Geneforge itself is a history of things gone horribly right, from Trakov to the latest Ur-monsters. Even the rebels most interested in applying its powers admit that its as terrible as it is successful.
  • Half Life. A routine... whatever-it-was-they-were-trying-to-do procedure, but "Unforeseen Consequences" happen.
    • Episode Two reveals that actually everything went Just As Planned. Though we still have no idea what the GMan intended by goading the Combine to invade Earth and suffer a massive slave uprising 10 years later.]]
    • FROHMAN!
    • In the same universe, GLaDOS can be considered an experiment Gone Horribly Wrong.
      • Or an experiment gone right. Look—there's no evidence GLaDOS failed as a de-icing system, and she is arguably alive.
  • In Quake IV every mission seem to do this first your drop ship get shot down nearly killing you,then the EMP bomb plan fails, then you get turned into a Stroog, then you get shot into battle in a flying coffin (drop pod)which crashes. Basically then entire game is a series of plans gone wrong that somehow works out in the end.
  • In Time Splitters: Future Perfect, Jacob Crow's attempts at eternal life result in zombies and the Timesplitters.
  • Transarctica's backstory for the new Ice Age is "Operation Blind", a plan to cool global warming by kicking up dust with nuclear weapons at the poles.
  • Let's just say that SHODAN wasn't designed to do what she did.
    • SHODAN was messed with before things got worse, though.
  • Outpost 2: Eden's terraforming microbe was intended to break apart organic molecules and release oxygen to make New Terra into an earth-like planet in a single generation. Organic molecules like the ones in our bodies. Needless to say, it gets loose and starts eating everything on the planet.
  • In Prototype, there were two virus-based experiments. One, Blacklight, was a case of Gone Horribly Right. The other, Redlight, which Blacklight was based upon, was more of a Gone Horribly Wrong. Among other things, instant Zombie Apocalypse as soon as the latter gets released. This is why you don't try to create ridiculously powerful bioweapons without off-switches, folks.
  • In Trauma Team, Albert Sartre's research into the Rosalia virus ultimately ended in an entire university becoming infected and dying, him going insane and murdering Rosalia before similarly succumbing, and ultimately a massive part of the US population becoming infected with the virus.
  • In Freelancer, it is implied that the massive Negative Space Wedgie nebula in the Texas system was caused by an incident at a jumpgate research laboratory. The details are unclear, but it can't have been pretty.
  • In Gauntlet (1985 video game): Legends and its re-release Dark Legacy, Garm attempts to summon the Demon King Skorne and use his power to usurp his older brother, Sumner, as the ruler of the Eight Realms. To do this, he requires the thirteen Runestones, but after a long time searching, Garm only manages to find twelve. Growing impatient, he goes ahead with the ritual anyways without the thirteenth Runestone, and manages to summon Skorne from the Underworld. Lacking the final Runestone, though, Skorne breaks free from Garm's control and crushes him to death, then proceeds to lay waste to the Realms.
    • Subverted in the true ending of Dark Legacy when Garm absorbs power from Skorne's remains to begin his own campaign to conquer the Realms.
  • In the Fallout series, most of the underground Vaults seemingly designed to spare the population were in fact huge-scale social experiments designed to test their residents in order to determine their suitability and effectiveness in the event of the populace escaping the war on starships. As the player character, you can locate and explore several of these vaults... most of which are abandoned, in ruins, littered with skeletal corpses and containing plenty of evidence to suggest that these experiments went very very badly wrong. Considering that the nature of most of these experiments took the form of sadistic and largely pointless psychological torture, this is not entirely surprising. And then there's the ones that had Gone Horribly Right instead...
  • Star Control 2 has several examples: first, the Slylandro Probes. The Slylandro meant to program the Probes to go out and make contact with other alien species, and in the meantime, self-replicate using nearby raw materials. They accidentally set the priority for "self-replicate" above "make contact", unfortunately, meaning that the Probes see everything as raw materials to be used in self-replicating (the Slylandro are horrified when they learn of this). The other example is the Mycon, a race of sentient fungi engineered by the Precursors as a terraforming system... that, due to several millenia of being left to its own devices with no input, now terraforms in reverse, seeking out fertile, beautiful planets and turning them into hellish firestorms in which to make more Mycon.
  • The Xel'Naga of StarCraft made the Protoss and the Zerg to make the next generation of Xel'Naga. The Protoss attacked them after they realized that the Protoss were diverging from the plan due to them revealing themselves, while the Zerg killed and ate them due to sabotage from a third party known as The Dark Voice.
  • Portal 2 halfway through the game introduces the origins of GLaDOS and how she became the overhead of Aperture Science. Cave Johnson had his secretary, Caroline, be uploaded to a computer should he die before he could be uploaded. Caroline didn't want this at all, but she was forced against her will and essentially became immortal and stuck running the facility forever as GLaDOS. She then proceeded to kill all the scientists that tried to control her and make test chambers full of death traps.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Lots of Whateley Universe examples, but how about the Russian program to create a nanotechnology Super Soldier? The best iteration had one functional survivor... who melted into goo a year later.
    • Or how about the bioengineering mad scientist who was found on a personal military submarine... or, rather, the people searching that submarine found around a dozen or two protozoan monstrosities, and no trace of the crew.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series

Shadi: But then something go horribly wrong.

Western Animation

  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "The Invisible Monster". Dr. Isaiah Norman's experiment gets away from him and creates a mass of energy that exists only to feed on other energy - including living things.
  • In the Futurama episode "The Honking", as part of Project Satan a bunch of scientists decided to put together the most evil parts of the most evil cars in history, only to create a car of pure evil.
    • Outside of the comedic nature of the whole show's premise, wouldn't that technically be Gone Horribly Right?
  • The underlying premise of the 90's cartoon Exo Squad was that, in an effort to terraform Mars and Venus, humanity genetically engineered a race called "Neo-sapiens" that were bigger, stronger, and more durable in pretty much every conceivable way... and used them as slave labor. Nope, can't see any way that could go wrong.
    • Luckily, they're sterile. And can collapse into a pile of mush. Yay, science.
  • Beast Wars, Scorponok hits Optimus Primal with a cyberbee designed to turn him into a coward. Unfortunately, Scorponok is an incompetent scientist and instead turns Optimus into a crazed berserker who, by the end of the episode, tears through the Pred base with ease.
    • Rampage was an attempt to replicate the immortal spark of Starscream. While that part was successful, Rampage was also driven completely nuts. And almost unstoppable. He broke out, and brutalized, massacred, and ate his way through several Cybertronian colonies before he was finally stopped.
  • ReBoot: Wellman Matrix was just trying to find other systems and create a doorway to them through his experimental stargate. Unfortunately the targeting scanners locked onto Killobyte in the Super Computer and transported him to the stargate and overloaded it. This triggered a massive explosion that obliterated Mainframe's twin city and spawned Megabyte and Hexadecimal in the process.
  • The Nanites in Generator Rex were created to improve life on Earth and the human condition. Then something happened at the primary Nanite research facility that released a batch of Nanites w/ incomplete programming, infecting every living thing on Earth. Now every living thing on Earth, from people to bunny rabbits has a chance of spontaneously mutating into a horrible monster.
  • Adventure Time has Princess Bubblegum and her Frankenstein's Idiot, Lemongrab. She created him in her laboratory as the heir to the throne, in case something happened to her. Well... he didn't turn out as planned. Instead of a proper, reasonable heir, she ended up with a screaming, brain-damaged, mentally challenged, borderline autistic sourpuss with a pathological obsession with sending people to the dungeon. She stuck him in a castle outside of the kingdom, but he came back with she was transformed into a child, as she was "too young" to rule the kingdom. He ended up screaming at everybody and sending all of the candy people to the dungeon for one million years. All of this because something went wrong with that life serum...

Real Life

  • The killer bees were an attempt, gone horribly wrong, to create a honey bee better suited for the South American climate.
    • It's also a case of Gone Horribly Wrong Gone Right: Killer bees do thrive in the South American climate. They apparently do just fine in deserts too.
    • Right for them. Wrong for the people who get attacked by them.
      • Those killer bees which have migrated southwards have lost a great deal of their aggressiviness, and become the choice of Brazilian and Argentinian beekeepers. They also produce one and half times the amount of honey the ordinary bees do.
  • The introduction of foreign species in general, wrecks natural food chain devastatingly, with very few exceptions, including...
    • cane toads to Australia.
    • Australia is loaded with these, including many plants and animals that screwed up the ecosystem. Besides the aforementioned Cane Toad, people also introduced the Patterson's Curse weed; rabbits and foxes during the 18th and 19th century for 'nostalgia'; and the Prickly Pear. So far, only the lattermost was successfully put under control, by introducing beetles which spread quickly by eating it, and then died when it turned cold.
      • For the record, the insect that's keeping Prickly Pear under control is the Cacta Blastus Moth. It's the natural enemy of the cactus, and keeps it under control. The fruits of the cactus are quite nutritious, and lots of mammals and birds eat them, so it's not a total disaster. Prickly Pear Jam is quite nice, like blackberry jam.
    • Australia also has camels, goats, horses, rabbits and wild pigs, released for either sport or settlers turning them loose into bushland when farms failed. The pigs are especially destructive, but they've made most farmers into insanely awesome marksmen. And many, many people are making huge money off breaking in and selling the horses; something that can survive in outback Australia with no Human help must be pretty tough.
      • The camels in Australia are actually a case of Gone Horribly Right there pretty harmless to the environment and they thrive there and having more than Saudi Arabia mean there a profitable business
    • The introduction of mongooses to Hawaii.
    • Even introduction of potatoes spiraled down to disaster when the Irish started depending on them a little too much. In worse cases, in some countries, early attempts to introduce them led to people eating the (toxic) leaves.
    • Coypus, a.k.a. nutria, river rats, or tiny beavers, are native to South America. They were brought to North America for two reasons: to be farmed for their fur and to naturally deal with the lily pad infestation choking rice production in America. If you recognize the name of the animal it's because A) you are a fashion historian or B) you live in Louisiana. Tiny beaver fur clothing fell out of fashion very quickly, and apparently, rice is tastier than lily pads. And then they found out houses and tires taste better than lily pads. The infestation causes the Louisiana state government to periodically allow firearms discharge within city limits to kill the things. Sometimes they even offer a bounty on them.
    • Exception: The introduction of Dung Beetles to various countries has been of vast benefit to farming (mostly in cattle and sheep).[1]
    • Starlings were brought to the U.S. in the late 19c. by someone who wanted to introduce every bird mentioned in Shakespeare. They outcompete native species very well and are considered a major pest. Similarly pythons which escaped from herpariums during a hurricane or were released by pet owners now number in the thousands in southern Florida.
  • Cotton that's been genetically engineered to produce a natural insecticide actually speeds up the rate the insects can adapt to it as opposed to regular spraying (decades of spraying = one adapted insect species; 13 years of GM plants = three species).
  • The explosion on Chernobyl nuclear power plant was caused by an experiment to test a new safety measure
    • Actually, guys responsible for the cataclysm wanted to modernize the reactor without shutting it down, so they turned off automatic safety measures which would turn reactor off if it would ever go critical.
    • Chernobyl was actually an attempt to test safety measures, but in order to do so, they turned off the automatic safeties and violated their own safety procedures multiple times. And the reactor was poorly designed to boot, so the power actually increased momentarily during the emergency shutdown, which stopped it from shutting down fully because the control rods got stuck by temperature warped channels.
  • And then there's the town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Or should that be the Ghost Town... as it went horribly wrong in The Sixties when someone set the garbage dump on fire and managed to ignite an underground coal seam. The fire is still burning underground and will continue to do so for decades, while the town has been mostly demolished or abandoned.
  • Scientology, according to some ex-Scientologists has gone horribly, horribly wrong since Dave Miscavage took over. Ex-members say things have been steadily going downhill since the death of Lisa McPherson caused Dave Miscavage to become an abusive paranoid dictator and it pains them to see the religion that helped them through some very dark times become a dark and twisted parody of itself.
    • For example, the infamous practice of "disconnecting" or completely cutting all ties with people who are critical of Scientology originally meant to sever ties with abusive and controlling influences, the equally infamous "SPs" or Suppressive Persons.
    • Hence the Scientologese protest slogan "DM (Dave Miscavage) is your SP!"
  • The Large Hadron Collider can be used, amongst other things, to create microscopic black holes that would prove that there exists extra dimensions to our universe. Of course some people hearing this feared that the experiments would go so horribly wrong as to create Earth swallowing black holes. The probability for this to occur is in fact infinitely tiny.
    • If you are worried something may have gone wrong, check here to see if the Large Hadron Collider has destroyed the World.
  • Cultivating hogweed to feed cattle in Russia in 50s. When they found out that it made the milk bitter, the damn thing had already thoroughly infested the territory and has been a bane of western-central Russia ever since. Nice Job Breaking It, Stalin!
    • That was sort of after the war, so it would have sense to use such a massive weed, and it has other uses. But the bitter milk's nothing—just walking through it causes mild poisoning by its juice and then nasty sunburns. Oh, and if it grows somewhere, the full removal takes several years. And recent mutants are even worse than the original. "Stalin's revenge", indeed.
    • Stalin also had the biggest seed deposit in the world destroyed in the 1930s and thousands of Russian biologists executed or sent to gulags in his attempt to promote Lysenkoism, a form of the already long discredited Lamarckism that should be the Socialist rival to "Burgeoise" Darwinism. In the next decades Soviet crop production plunged so hard that the USSR had to import foreign wheat, despite controlling one of the most extensive and fertile wheat fields (the Ukraine's) in the world. Proof you can't force politics on Mother Nature. (The story of the scientists at one of these seed deposits, in Leningrad, during that city's 900-day siege during World War II, is told in The Decemberists' song "When the War Came," off of The Crane Wife).
  • Mao's Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution.
  • In the early 1980s, there were several brands of "super-absorbent, leak-free" tampons on the American market, most notably Proctor & Gamble's infamous "Rely" brand. Why so infamous? Because the extra-absorbent tampons (Rely in particular) turned out to be optimal breeding grounds for the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that is one of two major causes Toxic Shock Syndrome. Between March 1980 and March 1981, there were 942 confirmed cases of menstruation TSS and 40 fatalities. Though Rely remains Misblamed as the sole cause (rather than the biggest culprit) of the TSS outbreak.
  • Olestra, a fat substitute created in the late nineties, infamously used in WOW! brand potato chips. By "infamously", we mean it was found to have certain side effects, including stomach cramps, and "anal leakage."
    • Jeff Foxworthy talked about this in his bit about side effects of popular drugs and other products. "Anal seepage! That's not even fun to say!"
    • You can now have all the fun and merriment of uncontrollable diarrhea in pill form! Xenical prevents you from absorbing fat by preventing your body from absorbing it, with predictable results. Hilarity ensues.
    • To be fair, that was more of a marketing failure than an actual failure of the product. The side effects of olestra were proven to be mild at worst in the vast majority of cases. The real problem is, as Foxworthy pointed out, that anal leakage just sounds so bad; practically speaking, going to the bathroom slightly more frequently than you otherwise would does not really constitute going horribly wrong.
  • The Treaty of Versallies was an attempt to ensure that another World War would never occur. Cue a pissed Germany electing Adolf Hitler, leading to him causing World War II.
  • The Secession of the Southern States of the USA (to form the Confederacy) in 1860 was in an attempt to "preserve their peculiar institutions" (IE. The right to keep slaves) from a interfering Republican Presidency (Abraham Lincoln). While Lincoln was anti-slavery, without the Civil War that resulted it was doubtful he'd have had the power to abolish slavery (though he would probably have restricted it somewhat). Of course, for most of the rest of the world, this counts as Gone Horribly Right.
    • Assassinating Lincoln also resulted in the leaders filling in his gap becoming much harsher on the defeated South than Lincoln would have been. These attempts to violent turn things for the South only left them Hoist By Their Own Petard.