Screwed by the Network

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"Starting now on Channel 4 is a brand new show that we paid a ridiculous amount of money for which we'll launch in a blaze of publicity, and after a few weeks we'll get bored of it and move it around the schedule where no-one can find it, then we'll brand it a flop, take it off the air for six months, then reluctantly put it back on at three in the morning."

Dead Ringers, explaining this Trope in action.

The prototypical Network Executive's time revolves not around nurturing talent for the benefit of all, but around making him or herself look competent. That means appearing responsible for every success and innocent of every failing that the network might have, irrespective of whether this was actually the case. Plus, the people that the executive is trying to convince are his or her fellow executives, who are likewise having the exact same neurotic crisis day in and day out.

Nevertheless, the need to keep their channels populated with new shows means that their commissioning bodies will keep putting forward all kinds of shows that may or may not appeal to the network executives' sensibilities.

For this reason, the execs will sometimes find themselves in the unfortunate position of being in charge of a show that they do not understand and therefore do not know what to do with. This presents them with a tricky situation: if the show is a failure they risk losing face, but if the show is a success then they'll look redundant.

Alternatively, the show may be a legacy commission under your predecessor, which is worse—because if it's a success, they'll have one up on you, but if you cancel it straight off, you'll lose all plausible deniability when people call you petty and small.

The answer to both of these problems, of course, is to screw the show over completely. Put it in a different time slot each episode, show it in the wrong order, bury it at midnight or in the Friday Night Death Slot, put it up against the other networks' strongest shows... do everything you can for it to build up a regular viewing audience that's not quite big enough to warrant the budget, but just big enough to cause some trouble when you cancel it for not "attracting the right audience."

Then wipe your beaded brow, pop a few pills, put on your best happy face, and chant your power mantra. So long as you look good in the eyes of others, everything will be fine. And that's what this job is about, right? Right?

Okay, okay—not all network executives are like this. There exist the individuals who intentionally seek out creative people to make shows that don't just Follow the Leader, and as they get promoted, they may become the very predecessors these shows are inherited from. However, screwing a show happens more often than you may wish to believe, and typically it's because They Just Didn't Care.

FOX is legendary for doing this. Syfy's earlier incarnation, the Sci-Fi Channel, has a bad reputation for it, too, but not quite to the "four episodes only, aired on a 'when we feel like it' basis" extreme. Cartoon Network has also gained notoriety for this.

Please try to avoid listing shows as being "screwed" just because of a disagreement over the reasons for their Cancellation. Plenty of shows are canceled simply because they just weren't making any money even with the network backing it. This is about intentional sabotage (or at the least making decisions so stupid it looks like it was intentional), not "the mean network executives cancelled my favorite show".

Often the cause of Follow Up Failure. Compare Executive Meddling, Executive Veto, Too Good to Last, Invisible Advertising, and Screwed by the Lawyers. Also compare No Export for You, though that doesn't affect the actual production, but the export of a given product.

Rarely, the situation will invert itself with Network to the Rescue. Contrast with Adored by the Network.

Examples of Screwed by the Network are listed on these subpages:
Examples of Screwed by the Network include:

Comic Books

  • Several X-Men books have suffered this over the year[when?]:
    • "Mutant X" was never supposed to replace X-Factor; it was supposed to run for 12 issues before going away and being replaced with a relaunched X-Factor comic. But early sales for Mutant X were far better than X-Factor's sales at the time, so the book lasted for 32 issues before being cancelled.
    • Deadpool and X-Force (under Peter Milligan and Mike Allred) were cancelled and relaunched as "Agent X" and "X-Statix" as part of a scam to screw Rob Liefeld of royalties from the book. The relaunches for both books failed and while Agent X was thankfully mercy-killed, X-Statix rebounded from a god-awful first year with an arc involving the resurrection of a vain, self-righteous pop musician. Unfortunately, the singer was SUPPOSED to be Princess Diana but was changed at the last minute. As a result, Milligan and Allred became disillusioned and asked to leave the book, which was promptly cancelled with issue #26.
    • Though this page debunks the idea of renaming those titles to avoid royalties.
  • The early-1990s Justice Society of America series by Len Strazewski and Mike Parobeck was practically canceled before it started, despite selling well. Strazewski said in an interview that the decision to cancel was made personally by Mike Carlin because he didn't like Parobeck's artwork or Strazewski's writing and believed that senior-citizen super-heroes was not what DC should be publishing.
  • The Red Circle DCU revamp of the MLJ/Archie heroes has plenty of these: The original plan of using the original versions in The Brave and the Bold was scrapped in favor of launching them in a series of one-shots that immediately spun off into a pair of ongoings that debuted in the midst of Blackest Night and were the only two books to not tie in to that event, which crippled sales for them right out of the gate. It also had the $3.99 cover price with second feature format which also turned off readers. The only mainline DC book to give a major guest spot was when the Shield showed up in the low-selling Magog. DC is currently[when?] publishing a Mighty Crusaders mini-series to finish off the deal.
    • And DC has ended the Red Circle deal, and the rights are reverting back to Archie Comics!
    • And to make matters even worse, DC solicited the Mighty Crusaders mini-series (and the accompanying introductory special for the series) as a trade paperback, but cancelled it because it did not garnered enough pre-orders!
    • According to the Word of God, the Red Circle heroes (as well as most of the heroes) were barred from appearing in other titles due to the fact that DC would have to pay royalties for each guest-spot. So that's why save for Static, the Milestone and Red Circle heroes rarely got to appear in other, more popular titles.
    • Technically, DC's deal for the Red Circle heroes will end on January 2012!
    • Archie themselves are reviving the heroes in 2012 as The New Crusaders... as part of a web-only subscription service where the new stories are six pages each!
      • To make it less annoying, the six-page installments of The New Crusaders are going to be weekly, which means 24-30 pages a month for the series, at a subscription fee of $2.99-$3.99 a month, plus thousands of pages of classic stories, as well!
      • At least Archie is offering a free print preview of The New Crusaders as part of the upcoming Free Comic Book Day version of Mega Man #1!
      • And there is going to be a print version of The New Crusaders, which will debut in August, three months after the digital version will debut!


  • The fantasy/comedy film by Terry Gilliam The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a rather infamous example of this. The original distributors were bought out by Sony who dumped it into 117 theaters and gave it next to no publicity and as such made only $8 million against a $46 million budget. Ironically, it was nominated for multiple Academy Awards and was a huge critical success, and today is considered one of Gilliam's best films.
  • The 1992 slapstick comedy Brain Donors (a Marx Brothers homage film -- actually a remake of A Night at the Opera -- starring John Turturro) was originally produced by David and Jerry Zucker as Lame Ducks for Paramount. However, when the Zuckers left for another studio, Paramount scrapped the planned publicity campaign, changed the title, and withdrew the film after its initial screenings. It sank into obscurity and has since developed a cult following due to the VHS/DVD releases.
  • The indie horror film All the Boys Love Mandy Lane got screwed out of an American release when the Weinstein Company, which had spent three million dollars for the rights to it, suddenly canceled its planned 2007 release after seeing the disappointing box office returns of Grindhouse and other horror films early that year. The proceeded to sell the rights to Senator Entertainment US, which has since gone out of business, leaving the film in limbo. To this day, it has not seen the light of day in America outside of bootlegs and festival screenings, and until somebody takes care of the legal mess the film is in, it's unlikely that it ever will. Fortunately, this tale has a Bittersweet Ending — the film was released in Britain, where it proceeded to make back its budget two-and-a-half times over.
  • Fox is rather infamous for this in film as well as television. Some examples include:
    • Tigerland: dumped into 5 theatres with no advertising.
    • Ravenous: dumped into 1,000 theatres with limited advertising (and mismarketed as a teen-oriented horror film).
    • Idiocracy: dumped into 100 theatres with no advertising (due to studio politics and choosing to promote The Marine instead).
    • Perfect Creature: dumped into regional release for one week and then released straight-to-DVD.
    • Sunshine: dumped into 500 theatres after one week of successful limited release and left to die against The Simpsons Movie (Fox apparently did this as they didn't like the international numbers).
    • Babylon A.D.: taken away from the director, heavily re-edited and released with limited marketing to poor numbers (the director and star later disowned the film).
    • Whip It: dumped into under 2,000 theatres as Fox spent more time promoting Jennifer's Body (also Fox only sneaked the film to bump up the latter's numbers).
    • Fantastic Mr. Fox: released on Thanksgiving weekend with almost no marketing whatsoever and died against New Moon and The Blind Side.
    • 127 Hours: dumped by Fox in favor of Love and Other Drugs due to uneasiness over the film's content. Sabotaged again after Oscar announcements when Fox announced the DVD release two days before a hastily scheduled wide release. However, the film has managed to be a hit in the UK (where it was distributed by Warner Bros.)
    • The Big Year: dumped by Fox despite having three bankable names in the lead roles, an established supporting cast and a director whose last two films grossed over $100 million. The studio also released a trailer that misrepresented the plot of the film and had almost no promotion done for it.
  • Here is one infamous example not from Fox: |Mission: Impossible II was taken away from Director John Woo and was heavily re-edited as studio executives were skeptical on the elements of the film. It believed that Woo had been locked out from the editing room to prevent him from interfering with their changes.
  • Dimension Films does this more then any other film company -- they chopped 20 minutes off of The Crow: City Of Angels (most of which were character development scenes and very important plot points), then they released Crow: Salvation Direct to Video after poor test screenings, they cut the planned 2000+ screen wide release of Equilibrium down to less than 300 screens because the film was already in profit from international distribution deals and spending money on additional prints or advertising might have ruined those profits, they shelved films like Texas Rangers and My Boss's Daughter for over a year with little explanation. Some films, like Venom and DOA: Dead Or Alive, were barely advertised at all and given a very limited release. And releasing Scream 4 during the Easter period while all the others were kept for winter (and notably giving it little publicity outside North America - tellingly, this was the only film of the series where none of the cast did any British promotion, although Hayden Panettiere did go to Germany for that purpose)? Bad move.
  • Disney released the remake of Winnie the Pooh on the same weekend of the final Harry Potter, leading some to suspect that its poor showing would give them further reason to shelve 2D animation films for good.
    • It probably won't kill 2-D animation since it had a low budget (only $30 million, compared to Tangled and its $260 million budget) and will more than likely break even on DVD. The reason for Disney's bleak outlook on the film was actually due to its disappointing international numbers (where it flopped against Rio and Hop) and because other Pooh movies haven't fared well theatrically (but did nicely on DVD).
  • Attack the Block has been dumped into just 11 markets with almost no advertising by Screen Gems despite having mostly excellent test screenings and word-of-mouth. Supposedly, Screen Gems wanted to build Paranormal Activity-esque hype on the film but their choices of theatres has been completely random and entire markets have been shut completely out on the film. There is also no website that lists when theatres will be getting the film.
  • Trick 'r Treat was supposed to come out in theaters October 2007. It got dropped from Warner Bros' schedule, with the guesses being either Warner didn't want it to compete against Saw IV, or they were upset with Michael Dougherty for the poor box office on Superman Returns. It eventually got put out on DVD in October 2009.
  • Postal, Uwe Boll's film based on the video game, was originally scheduled to be released in 2007, then pushed back to 2008. Three days prior to the U. S. premiere date, its theatrical run was reduced from 1,500 screens to 21. In addition, it was opened against Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. To say it was buried at the theatre is a gross understatement.
  • Paramount did this to Hugo after picking the film from Columbia (due to the film's producer/co-financer wanting to open the film on Thanksgiving and Columbia wanting Arthur Christmas for that spot). Examples include: mismarketing the film as either a comedy or an Inception-style thriller, barely marketing the film before the release, reducing the film's theatre count from 3,000 theatres to just 1,200 a week before opening and choosing to go with a quiet expansion rather than spreading awareness. Not even the film's massive critical acclaim and awards nominations and wins helped Paramount change their minds.
  • Paramount also did the same thing to Tintin in the US by choosing to open the film on the same day as the expansion of |Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol. While Mission: Impossible got trailers months in advance, a large IMAX push, heavily-promoted advance screenings and deluxe treatment by Paramount, Tintin was treated as an afterthought with a light marketing push, limited awareness and Paramount having IMAX cancel evening showings on their screens. All despite having none other than Steven Spielberg as the film's director and the premiere of the trailer for The Hobbit on select prints. As a result, the film got outgrossed on opening day by the third Alvin and the Chipmunks movie (which has been considered a flop by many box office pundits).
    • Now Paramount screwed over G.I. Joe Retaliation by postponing it until March 2013 (after two superbowl spots no less) when its release date was only a mere month away, not only that, it's getting re-shoots and a 3-D conversion to boot, fans have not taken this well to say the least.
  • Happened with The Iron Giant. When Quest for Camelot was a failure, Warner Brothers studio assumed it was because traditional animation was dead and not because the movie had many flaws. As a result, the studio gave very little advertising to The Iron Giant, making it a box office failure. Ironically, it was met with extreme critical praise, having a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It did get better treatment for the video release, but the damage was there and the movie didn't gain much of an audience following until later years.
  • Planet 51 was released on the same weekend as Twilight Saga: New Moon, and only made 12 million dollars.
  • Mars Needs Moms was a box office failure, dying against Battle: Los Angeles, Rango, and Paul. Though to be fair it was also extremely poorly received.
  • Midnight Meat Train was supposed to get a wide release in 2008, but Lionsgate only ended up releasing it in the secondary market to dollar theaters on a grand total of 100 screens, and the film didn't even make back a quarter of it's 15 million dollar budget. Clive Barker was outraged at the poor treatment, claiming that Lionsgate shortchanged the film in order to focus more attention of films like The Strangers(which Barker produced).
    • Similarly by Lionsgate, the Miley Cyrus film LOL was also demoted to a limited release after a year in Development Hell. To make matters worse, they released it the same weekend as The Avengers, which had the largest box-office opening of all time.
  • The Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie was given exactly no publicity, as the studio threw its muscle behind Barb Wire. Yes, a film based on a series about mocking B movies was shafted so the studio could advertise a glorified B movie. Can you say "irony"?


  • They Might Be Giants had the full support of the executives for their first three albums on Elektra Records (Flood, Apollo 18, and John Henry). But while they were recording Factory Showroom, Elektra's parent company fired all the executives and the replacements didn't care for TMBG. As a result, Factory Showroom received almost no promotion when it was released, and the band asked to be released from their contract shortly after that.
  • This happens a great deal with many recording artists who find that, either because of cost-cutting measures or a perception of the general public's lost interest in them by the higher-ups, their new releases aren't being promoted, then the albums aren't being distributed properly, then they're cut from their recording contract. EMI Records sent a huge percentage of their talent roster packing in the late 1990s - early 2000s because it was hemorrhaging money at the time, so a lot of artists who before found a lot of support from EMI ended up signing with considerably less supportive record companies, who screwed them over.
  • One of the most notorious and tragic musical examples was Big Star. They might have actually been big stars if their albums hadn't been distributed by the crumbling Stax label.
  • After Splashdown's first album Redshift rapidly sold out, the band made a new album called Blueshift. For reasons that remain mysterious, Capitol Records refused to release the album, but also retained copyright so that Splashdown could not release the album with another record company. Years later, the only way to hear those songs is through illegal downloading thanks to an internal leak. Splashdown split up due to fears that Capitol Records would retain copyright of any of their future songs.
  • Country Music artist Darryl Worley has been screwed over by having not one, not two, but three different labels close unexpectedly on him. First DreamWorks Records in 2005 (the abrupt closure of which also killed off several other artists, some of whom were brand-new); then independent 903 Music in 2007; then another independent, Stroudavarious, in 2010.

Pro Wrestling

  • Paramount attempted to screw WWE by moving WWE Smackdown into the famed Friday Night Death Slot (where it would face not only constant pre-emptions for local sports, but the loss of a good portion of its audience to people getting out and doing stuff on Friday nights), in order to try and pressure WWE into keeping Monday Night Raw on Spike TV. However, thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign by WWE (even rebranding the show Friday Night SmackDown!), the show managed not only to not lose any viewers, but gained enough ground that it was one of the few UPN shows picked up by the post-merger CW.
    • They ultimately wound up screwing them anyway, but it took a few years; when it came time to renew contracts, CBS wasn't interested despite the high ratings. SmackDown moved to the much-less-notable My Network TV, and started beating The CW in ratings by a good margin.
      • Then it got screwed by Memphis and Des Moines when those cities decided to dump My Network TV after they went to a syndicated model in September 2009, however in both cases the CW affiliate picked SmackDown up for Saturday nights and pretty much got station upgrades otherwise. The rest of the My Network TV schedule was blissfully ignored by both of them.
    • Sadly, high ratings for wrestling mean NOTHING. Advertisers won't touch it (they believe that it's aimed at the lowest common denominator, and that the viewers won't buy products being advertised; the much-publicized switch to TV-PG doesn't change this), and the only real value is to pump up the network average for prime time. Since UPN and its successors-in-interest are already dead last, and WWE numbers are and were low enough by broadcast standards not to make any difference, they have no compunction about moving/canceling wrestling programming.
  • How about an entire company screwed by the network? In 2001, AOLTimeWarner was openly looking to sell World Championship Wrestling, producer of the highest-rated shows for TNT (WCW Nitro) and TBS (WCW Thunder). A group of investors, lead by WCW head booker Eric Bischoff, had a deal in principle to take over the company and absorb the production costs that the network had been covering. Jamie Kellner, then the Turner Networks CEO, decided to cancel all WCW programming from Turner networks (which he had wanted to do for years but had been blocked by his predecessor, network founder Ted Turner), removing WCW's most valuable assets and single-handedly torpedoing the deal. Vince McMahon (head of WCW's longtime rival World Wrestling Federation) then swooped in and bought out WCW's remaining assets (mostly wrestler contracts and its deep tape library) for pennies on the dollar.
    • WCW's not the only wrestling company to get screwed... take the case of ECW's turbulent relationship with TNN. "You have to be an ECW fan to watch this show, because, God knows, the network has never put out one freaking commercial or one press release to let you know that we're here!"
      • Bear in mind, everything they aired was approved by TNN. Neither side saw the relationship as a long term deal; ECW was trying to build up its TV rep to get on a "real" cable network, and TNN (then a country music station) was just trying to get a piece of the wrestling boom.
    • Jamie Kellner is famous for two things—saying that Tivo was stealing from the networks, and canceling a long list of TV shows.
      • Kellner can hardly shoulder all of the blame here. WCW lost enormous amounts of money in its last two years (its losses for 2000 were estimated at $65 Million) and was drawing dismal ratings towards the end (TV ratings are wrestling's only saving grace; most advertisers won't touch wrestling, so instead it's used to pump up network averages to raise ad prices for other shows). Granted, Turner wasn't in a position to block the cancellation as he had several times in the past, due to the AOL Time Warner merger, but WCW was dying and Bischoff's pie-in-the-sky acquisition attempts would have at best kept it on the air another year.
  • TNA Impact and TNA Reaction air on Bravo in the UK. That channel just got bought out by Sky, who are closing it down. As Sky already air WWE, no room for TNA on their channels, so these two shows have been screwed into a No Export for You situation by the Sky network.
    • Actually, this is a major aversion. The TNA shows got moved to Challenge, which happened to launch on Freeview at the same time to replace the also closed down Channel One. So TNA went from subscription TV to free-to-air TV, which must've actually increased its audience.


  • In 2005, ESPN opted not to continue its relationship with the National Hockey League (fresh out of the lockout that canceled the entire 2004-05 season), and the cable rights were taken over by OLN (which then became Versus), a channel dedicated to outdoor sports with distribution not as wide as ESPN's. When NBC finally offered to air the 2007 NHL playoffs, they cut away from a series-clinching playoff game in overtime to show 90 minutes of pre-race coverage of The Preakness, knocking the remainder of the game over to Versus. The good news is that since the channel has now[when?] been re-branded to NBC Sports, it appears the network is actually putting effort to making it a viable ESPN competitor (the channel will air 2012 Olympics coverage), so this could ultimately be averted.
    • ESPN and ABC aren't exactly blameless for losing their NHL TV rights, though. Once they pulled some duplicitous tactics to yank broadcast rights away from FOX, both ESPN and ABC proceeded to ignore the league, giving it absolutely no advertising time on ABC and the bare minimum on ESPN. This behavior accelerated when ESPN and ABC got the rights to broadcast NBA games (coincidentally, the NHL's direct competitor for the winter months), with both networks making it clear they were prioritizing basketball over hockey. Then right as the 2004-05 NHL lockout started, ESPN canceled their NHL recap show NHL2night and refused to revive the show when the League approached them for a new cable deal after the labor dispute ended. With this kind of network screwing over a 6-7 year period, you cannot possibly blame the NHL for jumping to a more caring TV partner in Versus (although going with NBC is still inexcusable, as shown above). This blog entry goes into more detail about how Disney's networks screwed over the NHL, as well as the aforementioned dirty tactics used to screw FOX out of any TV rights.
    • In 1991, NBC broke away from the NHL All-Star Game (from 1990-1994, NBC broadcast the All-Star Game, which was pretty much the only time that the NHL was nationally broadcast on over-the-air television in the United States outside of ESPN's paid programming on ABC during the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons) in favor of a press conference from the Pentagon regarding the Gulf War. The previously unaired third period was rebroadcast on Sports Channel America. Unfortunately, Sports Channel America (who replaced ESPN as the NHL's primary cable broadcasting outlet in the United States in the 1988-89 season and continued through the 1991-92 season) was for all intents and purposes was a premium outlet that was available to about 1/4 less of the homes that ESPN was in at the time.
  • The Indy Racing League has had a similar path when Versus picked up the load for most (but not all) of its events starting in 2009: ratings have been substantially lower due to Versus simply not being a well-known network (plus the Executive Meddling by the channel's owner, Comcast) even though viewers agree that Versus gives much better treatment to the series as opposed to ABC/ESPN(2); however, the ABC-aired races in 2009 (the Indy 500 and several other summer events) hadn't had as drastic a dropoff as the cable races and started to put a bit more effort into the broadcasts. Of course, a lot of this stems from Tony George's own Executive Meddling that caused the American open-wheel racing split from 1996-2008.
  • The Arena Football League may be another one screwed by NBC. After the network lost its NFL games to CBS in 1997 and the 2001 XFL debacle, NBC signed what looked like a good deal with the Arena League at the time (both sides would split ad revenues 50/50 instead of one side getting rights fees). NBC even convinced the league to move up its normal Summer schedule, saying the league could be promoted better if it started the week after the Super Bowl. But when the NFL came calling back to NBC in 2006, the network promptly forgot about the Arena League, leaving it to play at a time of year where it had to compete with the NBA, NHL, and college basketball for viewership. After returning to ESPN, the league suspended operations in 2009.
  • Major League Baseball screwed themselves with their short-sighted television deals back in the early 1990s. First and foremost, MLB signed an $1.2 billion (approximately) deal with CBS for the next four years. They replaced ABC (who had covered Monday and later Thursday night baseball games consecutively since 1976) and NBC (who had covered Major League Baseball in some shape or form since 1947) as the national, broadcast TV outlet for Major League Baseball. Once CBS came into the picture, Major League Baseball, under the leadership of then outgoing Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, proceeded to systematically destroy the Saturday afternoon Game of the Week (a longtime institution on NBC). CBS became notorious for their sporadic regular season scheduling (often airing golf events on weeks in place of baseball). MLB's logic was that since a myriad of games were going to air on ESPN, the concept of a nationally televised Game of the Week was growing obsolete. When the dust was settled, CBS (who by the end of 1993, had also lost the National Football League to Fox, the National Basketball Association to NBC, and college football) lost at least, half a billion dollars off of that baseball deal. Despite all of this, CBS was willing to renew their contact with MLB for two more years. Unfortunately, mid-way through the 1993 season, MLB was already working on a revenue sharing joint-venture with ABC and NBC called "The Baseball Network". The Baseball Network was even worse than what CBS had to offer (with ABC and NBC each covering six weeks of regionalized coverage following the All-Star Break). Without going into full blown detail (check the Wikpedia article on The Baseball Network to get a proper perspective) here, all that you need to know first and foremost, is that the first two rounds of the playoffs were regionally televised simultaneously. Perhaps the one positive thing to come out of the 1994-95 baseball strike, was that it hastened the premature demise of The Baseball Network (which was supposed to run through the 1999 season). Shortly afterwards, both ABC and NBC (who had to split coverage of the 1995 World Series) publicly vowed to have nothing more to do with Major League Baseball for at least the remainder of the 20th century. NBC however reluctantly (they could only be bothered to show postseason games and the All-Star Game in even numbered years) reconsidered and wound up sharing the broadcast rights with Fox through the end of the 2000 season.
    • Reluctantly is putting it mildly. When the 1997 World Series ended up being played by two small-market teams (Florida and Cleveland), NBC's West Coast head Don Ohlmeyer publicly declared that he hoped it would end in a four-game sweep, since even a fifth game would mean pre-empting his precious "Must See TV" Thursday lineup. (He didn't get his wish; the Series went the full seven games.)
  • In Australia, the Seven Network's screwing of the National Soccer League lead to the entire competition eventually collapsing in 2004. The channel bought the rights for a pay tv sports channel, but after they lost the rights to Aussie Rules Football, they shut down the pay tv channel, and never bothered airing the soccer in any regular fashion, and never live. A highlight package after midnight on Wednesdays was the best the coverage got at times.
  • ONE HD's coverage of The National Basketball League games has fallen into this when it was announcing in October 2011 that all NBL games aired on One HD would be delayed which angered fans. One HD the following month announced that all NBL games would be delayed EVEN FURTHER to 1:00 AM–2:00 AM, Which pissed off more fans. NBL fans are now trying to boycott the channel.
  • Formula One has always had prime spots on the BBC since it's most loved in the UK, showing all the races and qualifying since the start (excusing the brief time it went to ITV (which meant there were adverts during the races)). From 2011 and 2018 only half of the races will be shown on the BBC whilst Sky Sports (a channel one would have to pay a lot for, including their television license) will show all the races and the qualifying. Within the first month a Sports site did a poll to find out people's reaction. Fifty per cent said they refused to watch the races on Sky.
  • Pro Bull Riding got screwed by the networks. Originally, full events were shown on Versus, but new licensing deals mean events are now shown on NBC, NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus,) CBS, and the PBR's own streaming online broadcast site. Often a single event will be divided up between two of these outlets, making it extremely difficult for fans to keep track of.
  • The Fan Nickname-d Heidi Bowl where the network broke away from the final minutes of the AFC Championship to air Heidi, causing most fans to miss The Miracle Rally.

Tabletop Games

  • At the heyday of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition in the 1990s, TSR had Lorraine Williams as their CEO, who made no secret her disdain both for gamers and the people that worked under her. Among many things that caused Dungeons & Dragons and TSR to be run into the ground before being mercifully bought out by Wizards of the Coast were:
    • Suing people left and right, including people who ran message boards for talking about Dungeons & Dragons on the internet on the basis that it was their intellectual property. This prevented new people from discovering the game through internet word-of-mouth, gave their competitors who were using the new medium to promote their products an edge, and disenchanted fans.
    • Lorraine Williams devoted a great deal of company resources to publishing and promoting the Buck Rogers RPG, as the heiress whose estate owned the rights to the Buck Rogers IP got royalties for every Buck Rogers supplement published and sold. That heiress? Lorraine Williams.
    • TSR's solution to declining sales was to publish new settings. The problem was that the settings, modules, and rules that governed them were so incompatible with each other that the player base became fragmented. For instance, a Planescape fan would have no use for modules meant for the Birthright setting.
    • Licensing terrible games, with Baldur's Gate being a notable exception and becoming the string holding the franchise together. It probably could have gotten more people into the hobby if message boards about the game didn't have to censor comments about the tabletop version for fear of lawsuits.
    • Nepotism ran rampant in the company, which resulted in unqualified managers.
    • Game designers were often forbidden by Williams to use company time to play test products, on the reasoning that playtesting was just an excuse for the peasants to get paid to play games.
    • Executive Meddling was aimed to "coordinate" different lines, which resulted in screwing over most of them. That is, management used gimmick based approach, and had game lines monopolize gimmicks. The result is that after developers put e.g. section on artificial limbs in Drow of the Underdark (the original one), then they were told to not expand on drow biomech, because TSR was planning a robot roleplaying game, Proton Fire. To add insult to injury, the latter appeared only as one preview in Dragon before getting killed by the management. Derp. Likewise, they couldn't use psionics much anywhere because Dark Sun runs on that. And so on.
  • Alternity was a generic RPG produced by TSR in last few years of their operations. When WOTC took over in 2000, they killed the system and cannibalized the settings into their d20 modern line so that it didn't compete against it.
  • The most common complaints against Games Workshop for their Warhammer 40,000 release schedule is that Space Marine armies always take precedence over non-Marine armies. The main Space Marine book has always been one of the first books updated in every edition change, while other armies have been languishing in Development Hell for almost as long as a decade.
  • The Pokémon Trading Figure game in America. Fans got excited for it in 2006 when Pokémon USA announced it—a collectible figure game with high quality figures produced by noted Japanese company Kaiyodo, and featuring actual trainers from the game as figures—but the release was a disaster. All the strategy of the Japanese counterpart had been stripped, turning it into a strange hybrid of the TCG and the failed collectible coins game (essentially, it was Rock-Paper-Scissors with Pokémon) and even then, the figures were impossible for collectors to find, were often broken IN THE PACKAGING, and hardly advertised. In early 2009, after much delaying of the second expansion's release, it was officially announced as discontinued.

Video Games

  • When presented with a completely reworked Conker's Quest, now titled Conker's Bad Fur Day, Nintendo of America was reportedly horrified to discover that the formerly aggressively-cute, child-aimed Banjo-Kazooie clone had been replaced by something inspired by South Park, R-rated movies, and the Itchy and Scratchy cartoons from The Simpsons. In response, they gave the game very little advertising (sticking mostly to men's magazines, whose target demographic probably wasn't interested in cartoon talking squirrels), an ugly box with a giant M rating plus a warning stating that it was very clearly "not for anyone under 17", and had Nintendo Power refuse to acknowledge its existence, only doing a story on it two consoles later in July 2008. Rare was understandably upset with this treatment, likely softening the company up for a buyout by Microsoft.
    • The back of the game box actually tries to persuade the reader not to buy it, and not in the cutesy sarcastic "This is the game Mom and Dad don't want you to see!" way you'd expect. [dead link] The copy's lack of enthusiasm for the product is very apparent.
    • The game got somewhat better treatment in British video game publications, most probably because Rare is a British company and, at the time, most British Nintendo magazines practically worshiped the ground they walked on. The UK magazines seemed more interested in getting Nintendo into the mature gamers spotlight.
    • Its Xbox remake, Live and Reloaded, not only has a (smaller) warning label, but was also (and ironically) heavily censored, thereby losing much of its appeal. And the shutdown of Xbox Live for Xbox 1 screws the "Live" part of the game over.
  • Fallout may just be the ultimate example of this trope, though screwed by incompetence and not malice. With "Van Buren" (the reputed Fallout 3) nearly completed, Interplay pulled the plug on Black Isle Studios when going bankrupt—but kept the Fallout IP. Two games were released without the input of Black Isle: Fallout Tactics, which was a respectable tactical strategy game but lacked the freedom the series was renowned for, and Brotherhood of Steel, which is probably the source of a significant part of the resentment of Fallout fans. There was... more than a little trepidation on the part of many fans now[when?] that Bethesda is releasing Fallout 3. (Of course, giving New Vegas to Obsidian was pretty much a cause for squee, so perhaps this no longer applies.)
  • Arguably, after EA bought them, every Origin franchise that wasn't Ultima, and every Ultima game that wasn't Ultima Online.
    • The Ultima games may be more than just arguable: According to Richard Garriott, the many bugs and plot holes in Ultima VIII and IX were due to EA insisting the games be released at the scheduled date. IX was the most egregious because by then EA dropped support for everything but Online, drove out many of the game's developers and still demanded the game be released on time. When IX bombed EA threw Origin under the bus - they canceled all further projects including Ultima Online II, drove out Garriott and laid the groundwork for shutting down Origin in 2004.
  • Arguably, after EA bought them, every BioWare franchise that hadn't already ended. Not a little of the Internet Backdraft over Mass Effect 3 is due to a perception that EA's business model requires regular releases of easy-to-sell games from franchises such as Bill Madden NFL and FIFA, and therefore that there simply wasn't sufficient time given to BioWare to properly write and develop the storyline for Mass Effect 3.
  • Similar to the story of Lorraine Williams in the tabletop games listing, Jack Tramiel's takeover of Atari was seen by many as the beginning of the end for the company. Since he was the creator of and had a controlling stake in Commodore, he pretty much tried to kill off the gaming side of Atari and turn them into a budget computer outfit to complement his maiden company (which explains most of the aborted and/or half-assed attempts at making Commodore 64 clones in the late 1980s). He would sue lesser companies into oblivion, employee turnover became insane because the millions wasted on computer development meant they couldn't keep anyone around, and nepotism was rampant within the company.
  • Tim Schafer and Double Fine thought Brütal Legend had a safe haven under EA... until they completely and intentionally advertised the game as a single player adventure game, rather than a multiplayer Real Time Strategy game, and forced Double Fine to keep quiet about it against their wishes. Tim Schafer did his best to get the word out on his own, but was essentially drowned out by EA's hype machine. Making it worse was the single player demo. When the true gameplay got out, players were divided between those who got the game fully informed by Tim Schafer, and those undergoing a massive Hype Backlash. EA was so unhappy with the game's sales (regardless of high reviews,) they refused to release a highly requested patch for the Play Station 3 that Double Fine created, canceled the sequel, and let Tim Schafer take all the blame for the Misaimed Marketing. The move almost caused Double Fine to go out of business.
  • After Humongous Entertainment went independent again (after going through Infogrames and Atari ownership), it sold off four of its best-selling franchises and ruined the fifth one forever.
    • And two more. Both had only one game too, before people started hating them. However, a poll in mid-2011 indicated that most fans wish Atari would bring back Humongous's old series.
  • The Sith Lords, the highly-awaited sequel to the critically acclaimed Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, was completely screwed over courtesy of LucasArts pushing its release date to Christmas, giving Obsidian barely a single year to develop the game after BioWare handed it to them. As a result, the game was heavily unfinished, suffering from unresolved plotlines to noticeable chunks of the game missing outright. While this may be chalked up to standard Executive Meddling, what happened next was what shot this into here: When Obsidian desired to release a whole patch that would, essentially, finish the game and fill in everything that was missing, LucasArts promptly denied that notion and, therefore, only fan efforts have been able to attempt to fill in the blanks. In defense of LucasArts, since the original release wasn't Xbox Live-enabled, any patch would have been PC-only.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog fans will defend this to great lengths. Right before the Sonic 2006 release, SEGA had undergone a major corporate retool. SEGA’s plan was to disband the Sonic Team all together, and release Sonic games every so often with no running plot or continuity. While Sonic Team didn’t disband, the games continued to go downhill (until November 2010), they have only very subtle continuity, are nowhere near as promoted as they once were, and characters have been forgotten (Rouge, Omega, Jet, Big, Espio, Charmy) or just plain cut (Wave, Storm, Eggman Nega, Chaos, Tikal) from games. Also, the Sonic Central website was not updated for over 4 years until it was gotten rid of.
    • Yes and no. Sonic Central has been ignored and demolished in 2011, but there are numerous other official websites to promote the games, usually now with each new game getting its own site. Furthermore Sega have been utilising its fanbase to promote the games, with some Big Name Fans now actively working for Sega to promote the games usually in the places most Sonic fans are likely to find out about the new games. The franchise as a whole is still constantly promoted, but not in the same places it used to be. Nowadays ads are more likely to be found in magazines read by 6-10 year olds, not the 15-30's who read more mature video game magazines. Furthermore, while the consistency and lack of overarching plots has lead to several standalone games, with missing characters and less intricate (and thus debatably worse plots), the quality of the gameplay itself has improved, something most the fanbase, and critics alike have been crying out for. Sega have been promoting Sonic, just in a different way, to try and appease some of there Unpleasable Fanbase.
      • Sega's non Sonic IPs have it even worse. See Golden Axe for example. Beast Rider was the last straw: poorly coded and poorly marketed.
  • EverQuest. Oh man. They took the profits from it and created something like seven different games...which all failed. They refuse to spend any money improving EverQuest itself or advertising it. The graphics are ancient and the server and client software is a mess of code. Apparently the idea of investing in a winner to make it even better is beyond them. They are currently[when?] spending more money on a new game EverQuest Next (working title) instead of fixing EverQuest.
  • Lego Island 2 was going to be far more than what it turned out to be. However, anybody who actually wanted quality left the game, and everybody else said "Hurry up and finish the game so we can make money." We ended up with a Contested Sequel.
  • Activision screwed over True Crime: Hong Kong by cancelling it right when it was nearly complete because in they're words "it just wouldn't sell enough copies" Activision's BS excuses are getting REAL old.
  • Capcom almost seems to be trying to kill Mega Man:
    • The Mega Man ZX and Mega Man Star Force series sold fairly poorly, and as a result ended up with very few entries.
    • Universe was announced as a celebration of all things Mega Man...then unceremoniously cancelled about a year later.
    • Mega Man Legends 3 was announced in a blaze of publicity with lots of hype about how fans would be able to participate in its development. Then it got cancelled about a year later when someone remembered that the Legends series had been killed because it never had good sales and that the people who were interested in it were a Vocal Minority.
      • However, it didn't really help that Capcom's method of gauging fan interest was to release a demo of the game and charge money for it. When fans didn't take the bait Capcom had an excuse to cancel the game and blame it on them.
    • Mega Man X had been implemented for Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, but was removed because they didn't think fans were interested.
    • Mega Man finally made it into a Mascot Fighter, Street Fighter X Tekken... as the overweight loser version from the first game's horrible box art. Under the circumstances, not many people are finding the joke funny.
      • Funny thing about that; The guy who originally made Mega Man pushed for this version in the game before he left Capcom. He thought it would be a funny homage. The fans did not get the message due to Fandumb.
  • Square Enix's American branch seems content with giving the Dragon Quest series the shaft, with Nintendo ultimately stepping in to localize the ninth and sixth installments, not to mention DQ Monsters: Joker 2.
  • Though companies such as XSEED have offered to translate some of the Tales games left in Japan, Namco-Bandai (Bandai-Namco in Japan), adamantly refuses, wishing to be the only company to release games in the franchise. Seriously, it's not gonna break our hearts if another company's name appears on and in the game. And even if the games do see foreign releases, they tend not to get very good advertisement, and consequentially sell poorly.
  • Rayman Origins, a critically-acclaimed game that marks Rayman's return to the platforming genre, Ubisoft chose to release in the U.S. the same day as two of their more anticipated products, Assassin's Creed: Revelations and... The Black Eyed Peas Experience. Guess which ones got the higher sales and larger amounts of advertising. Said Black Eyed Peas game faded into obscurity in almost an instant.
  • Gears of War 3 was ready for an early summer release, but was forced by Microsoft into a September holiday release, putting it into direct competition with blockbuster releases in the Battlefield series and Modern Warfare 3. While the sales were still strong, the online multiplayer quickly dropped in population due to the competition and hasn't recovered.
  • So have you guys heard about that Konami? They've been on a downward spiral in recent[when?] years due to some of the worst marketing imaginable. Jim Sterling has been on about this already, but the basic just is that they seem to actively be trying to make sure people don't know their products exists or group the release schedule so close together that sales suffer because most fans can't buy all of the games at initial release because they all came out at about the same time. They won't even give information on delays.

In Fiction



I am the entertainer; I come to do my show
You've heard my latest record, it's been on the radio
Ah, it took me years to write it, they were the best years of my life
It was a beautiful song, but it ran too long
If you're gonna have a hit you gotta make it fit
So they cut it down to 3:05.


Web Comics