So Bad It's Good

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"It is so bad that a kind of grandeur creeps into it."
H. L. Mencken, on Warren G. Harding's English composition

Once in a while, a work turns out to be so bad, it creates a disruption in the badness continuum, and wraps right around to good. Rather than it unintentionally Breaking the Fourth Wall like usual, something about the the specifics of the work in question instead cause an enjoyable, though equally unintended, emotional response in the viewing public. Maybe the hubcap-on-a-wire flying saucers are cute, or the spontaneous brothel scene goes on for so long it's hilarious, or the technically oriented find humor in the way the hacker can suborn the traffic lights of New York with no perceptible effort.

Whatever the reason, a truly horrid piece of work can become an unintentional riot and even get its own fandom for its very lack of quality. This can well be an ongoing process as attitudes change, budgets grow and cynicism increases.

Keep in mind that even when something is So Bad, It's Good, it's still bad. For many things on this list, there will be an almost unanimous opinion that they fail entirely at having the sort of appeal they intended. Far less unanimous will be the opinion that they have a sort of appeal that is unintentional; here Your Mileage May Vary comes into play. Likewise, Your Mileage May Vary on where the line lies between simply bad, this effect, and So Bad, It's Horrible. In general, among the very large reserve of things that can be classified as "bad," works that get labeled so bad it's good tend to be loaded with unintended Narm and ludicrously Crazy Awesome factors, while So Bad, It's Horrible, is the place for works whose badness only makes them boring or offensive. Nonetheless, don't be surprised when you come across some items that wound up on both lists, such as Big Rigs Over the Road Racing or Soulja Boy's song, "Anime." On occasion, the writers may intentionally try to pull off this trope. Of course, this almost never actually results in something that fits because it's hard not to "wink at the camera", so to speak—though it's often still funny.

Something which is So Bad It's Good has a high probability of becoming a Cult Classic. Many are heavy on Camp, therefore falling far onto the silly side of the Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness, and are often considered Guilty Pleasures, although neither is necessary. See Narm Charm. This is also often seen in Memetic Mutation, when people combine two or more horrible things (or pieces thereof) into something good. Leeroy Jenkins, for example.

If someone just keeps on churning out work that's So Bad, It's Good, they're probably Giftedly Bad. Of course, it could also be a result of Springtime for Hitler.

Compare Stylistic Suck and So Unfunny It's Funny, which play this trope for laughs. Contrast with So Bad, It's Horrible, which is when something actually "succeeds" in being too bad for this trope.

No real life examples, please; this is an Audience Reaction trope, and as far as we know, Real Life does not have an audience.

Examples of So Bad It's Good are listed on these subpages:
So Bad It's Good


Examples of So Bad It's Good include:

Art[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The entire Dada "anti-art" movement was specifically made to be so stupid and terrible that it was art.
    • A famous example is when Marcel Duchamp submitted an upside-down urinal called "The Fountain" as an "interactive" art installation. He was trying to get a rise out of some exhibition organizers who claimed they would accept anything.
      • Supposedly the first "found object", the urinal was actually made from paper-mache.
  • Similar to the Dada movement, the "Museum of bad art" is dedicated to collecting the worst paintings they can find.
  • Many who dislike British conceptual artist Damien Hirst see him as this; there's just something disgustingly delightful about factory-made 'artworks' that were paid for in thousands of pounds just for the sake of making a splash. Really, one of his most famous 'works' is a skull studded entirely with diamonds. What's not to love?
  • The Burnside Fountain of Worcester, Massachusetts. Affectionately known as the "Turtle Boy Love Statue", it apparently depicts a nude young man having improper relations with a sea turtle.
  • The Lenin Statue of Freemont Washington is subject to this.
  • The art community even has its own term for So Bad, It's Good; they call it Kitsch.

Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • Professional Wrestling itself to many.
  • The book The Death Of WCW points out that a lot of people only watched WCW in its final two years because of this trope.
  • WWE wrestler The Boogeyman is an almost-bald Scary Black Man with his entire head painted red with black spots, who walks like he's having a seizure, smashes giant antique clocks over his head, speaks almost entirely in singsongy nursery rhymes, eats worms by the handful, and his catchphrase is, "I'm... THE BOOGEYMAN! And I'm comin'... TO GETCHA!" The whole thing is as hilariously awful as it sounds.
    • His backstory actually lampshades the ludicrousness involved—an actor for a show that didn't materialize who snapped (falling too deep into method acting) and became the Boogeyman, but was sicced onto WWE's Smack Down! brand anyway to see what would happen and because he was still under contract. Seriously.
    • Even more hilariously awful is the time in one skit with D Generation X, he appeared from underneath the ring, and told Triple H and Shawn Michaels: "I'm...THE BOOGEYMAN! And I'm comin' to - (briefly sans Boogeyman gimmick) - see if I can join DX."
      • The fact that he lisped his lines made all the better.
  • The Shockmaster. And they capitalized on it with the Super-Shockmaster.
  • Amidst cameras being interrupted by static, Robocop and Sting busting into WCW to face The Four Horsemen.
  • Any all-woman promotion David McLane was involved in, whether it be GLOW, WOW, or POWW. Stupid, cheesy fun with stupid, cheesy gimmicks, stupid, cheesy action, and stupid, cheesy cheesecake.
  • Wrestleicious which is exactly what it sounds - pink ring ropes, outlandish characters, camp factor Up to Eleven, a commentator that sounds like Stan Lee and a Hurricane of Puns during every match. Yet also features the top women wrestlers in the country as characters. It's safe to call it the Batman and Robin of indie wrestling.
  • Mick Foley deliberately went for this while wrestling as Dude Love in order to separate the gimmick from his other personae (the sadistic Cactus Jack and the psychotic Mankind).
    • It wasn't the first time he had done this. During his "anti-extreme" gimmick in ECW (a promotion that prided itself on high-quality, high-risk wrestling), Mick (as Cactus Jack) reduced his entire moveset to one move: a headlock. Thus, his matches would consist of nothing but ten straight minutes of assorted headlocks, gaining incredible heat from the quality-hungry ECW fans.
  • WCW's San Francisco 49ers Match between Jeff Jarrett and Booker T is one of the most hilariously stupid matches of all time. It's a glorified pole match (something Vince Russo was fond of) with 4 wooden boxes at the end of each pole; 1 contains the WCW Championship and the other 3 contain "weapons:" a blow up doll, a framed picture of Scott Hall, and a coal miner's glove. It began with an old lady trying to smack Jarrett with a shirt Booker T gave her and ended with Beetlejuice (not that Beetlejuice, the Wack Packer from Howard Stern) giving Jarrett 5 "high blows". The title fell out of the box, and Booker T became the WCW Champion. When the belt fell out, David Penzer had to hand it to Booker. Thankfully, Russo wasn't sharp enough to change the finish and award the title to Penzer instead.
    • The Coal Miner's Glove (a leather glove, covered in metal studs) was a supposed to be a Shout-Out to an even worse match from before the Monday Night Wars era. Back in the early 90s Sting was feuding with Jake Roberts, who devised that they "Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal" a match where various gimmick matches were on a giant wheel, and whatever it landed on would be the match they would face off in. However, the wheel itself wasn't gimmicked, and it landed on the worst possible option—a "Coal Miner's Glove" match. Whoever retrieved the glove from the pole first, would be allowed to "use" it on his opponent.
  • Arguably, The Undertaker. One of the best big men in the wrestling business, and a solid WWE worker for over twenty years doesn't change the fact that he's a Satan-worshipping, gravedigging zombie cult leader Death Incarnate who was a biker for a while back at the turn of the century. It's even more Narm Charm in modern times, when most wrestlers are less cartoonish, yet The Undertaker still is portrayed as a supernatural force.
  • NXT Season 3. The show is so ridiculously bad on purpose, that it seems like its target audience are those who read Wrestlecrap every week. It's almost as if WWE took everything that was narmy about the WWE Divas, highlighted it, and placed a few other comedy acts on the show to act as foils, such as Heel Michael Cole, Goldust, and Vickie Guerrero. By Week 3, the show was so bad that you had Michael Cole banging a gong at ringside following the rookie challenges. The show's entire appeal is the ensuing Narm Charm, as well as Cole and Josh Mathews sarcastic remarks on everyone else involved.
  • This DDP promo, where a motivational speaker wants to speak of how his friend Tony had a cat that was killed and it actually saved his marriage. Even the announcer was like "The Hell you say?"
  • During The Misfits stint in WCW, there was a backstage segment where they try to hit on Daffney, which leads to her attacking Jerry Only. After they call her a freak, she runs away screaming and laughing, almost like a Daffy Duck cartoon.

Sport[edit | hide]

  • Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards, a British ski jumper who qualified for the 1988 Winter Olympics because every country was (at the time) allowed to be represented in any given discipline, and he was the only British applicant. Edwards had the disadvantages of weighing 9 kg more than the next man in his category and being extremely far-sighted, and his general skills were less than stellar to say the least. Nevertheless, his sheer determination and love of the sport endeared him to audiences everywhere. The Olympic Committee was less enthusiastic about someone "making a mockery of the sport", however, and the rules for qualification were changed next time around, largely to prevent another such case from happening.
    • There's even a mini-meme atached to him. Every single youtube video featuring him has, as on of the top rated comments "Legend".
    • Featured at the same Olympics were the Jamaican bobsled team who inspired the movie Cool Runnings five years later. Though they haven't competed in the Olympics recently, the Jamaican bobsled team did place as high as 14th (ahead of the USA, Russia, France, and one Italian sled) in the 1994 Winter Olympics.
  • Similarly, Eric "The Eel" Moussambani, a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea, qualified for the 2000 Summer Olympics through a wildcard draw designed to encourage developing countries lacking expensive training facilities to compete. He had never even seen a 50 metre pool before competing, having only taken up swimming eight months beforehand and having previously having trained in a 20 metre pool. In his qualifying heat, his two opponents were disqualified for jumping the gun, leaving Moussambani to compete on his own. He qualified for the final, setting the national record for Equatorial Guinea.
  • Stanford University's "mascot", the Stanford Tree. Despite Stanford not officially recognizing the Tree as its mascot, the Tree is allowed to dance around during games, and there is a special student committee that determines who gets to be the Tree each season. Whoever is the Tree has to design the costume, hence the varying quality of the Tree each year.
    • Stanford's band occasionally has the same reputation, but not for their music, which is quite good. Their conduct is what gets them recognized. For starters, they (since they're not a traditional marching band) don't wear uniforms in the same way that other bands do. What gets them the most attention, though, is their shows, which have earned the ire of some universities, since they have contained performances that others might find somewhat classless. The Other Wiki has a listing.
  • The 1962 New York Mets, whose 120 losses remain the post-1900 Major League Baseball record, remain one of the more beloved teams in history.
  • A beloved complete failure in the sport of horse racing is the jockey known as "the Duc of Albuquerque", famous for entering the Grand National steeplechase seven times and never being able to complete the course. Each and every time he'd fall off the horse at one of the fences, and the bookmakers eventually caught on to this fact—resulting in the Duc making history in 1963, when the bookies began offering odds of 66-1 against his managing to stay on the horse for the entire race. He never gave up, though; in 1974 he fell off the horse during training and entered the race itself with a broken collar bone and a leg in plaster. Amazingly enough, this turned out to be the only time in his career when he actually finished the race without falling off.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • At least for some readers, Gary Gygax's prose style is reminiscent of the Mencken quote atop this page.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons Character Name Generator has a tendency to produce unintentionally hilarious names.
  • To many, World of Synnibarr qualifies. While the mechanics are terrible and the setting incoherent, it's still a game with a "midnight sunstone bazooka", mechanics that affect the next character you roll up, and an actual Deus Ex Machina roll to see if your patron deity turns up to save your life.
  • Strike Legion is what Limbo of the Lost wants to be: Something that ripped off so many sources it digs right out of the barrel-bottom of absolute shit and becomes hilarious awesome. Have a MST and mind the picture load.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, some cards that are bad in terms of gameplay and power level may become loved and appreciated for their goofiness and quirkiness. Examples are Chimney Imp and Storm Crow, which have both become memes in the Magic world.
    • Storm Crow is only a Common Knowledge example. The card itself is not and has never been bad. It isn't a great card and most blue decks don't need it, but that isn't the same thing as it being bad.

Theater[edit | hide]

  • The Musical adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie has acquired this reputation. Its commercial failure on Broadway became so notorious that it was the inspiration for the book Not Since Carrie, a chronicle of Broadway musical flops of the latter half of the twentieth century. (King himself reportedly liked it, though.)
    • Within the show itself, the pinnacle of accidental hilarity has to be "Don't Waste the Moon", a retread of the old "girls want relationships, boys want sex" chestnut with awesomely lame lyrics like "We would go bowling if you really cared / But you don't! ("I do!") You don't!"
  • Show Within a Show example: "Pyramus and Thisbe" in A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's so badly written and wretchedly performed that it's hilarious. The Duke and his guests order it performed just for the Snark Bait.
  • Robert Coates was such an infamously bad actor people would flock to see him just to see how bad he was.
  • From the Dream Team of Bono, The Edge and Julie Taymor comes the legendarily Troubled Production of Spider Man Turn Off the Dark!

Toys[edit | hide]

  • GoBots Rocklords. Think Transformers, but instead becoming something cool like a car, a dinosaur, a plane, or a tank, they became rocks! You could choose between granite, quartz or shale amongst others!
    • The really stupid bit is in Go Bots movie - they transform and roll out and slowly clump away down the road like bricks turning under their own power.
    • Parodied in the Tom Hanks movie Big, where Hanks - playing a kid who has been transformed into a grown-up - is shown a new toy that his employers are working on. It's an immobile skyscraper that turns into a giant robot. "So what's so fun about playing with a building? That's not any fun!" He then goes on to propose "a big prehistoric insect with maybe like giant claws that could pick up a car and crush it like that!"
  • The Piraka rap from Bionicle. Listen to it here in all of its hilarious glory.
  • Doggie Doo, in which you push on an air pump to make a plastic dog poop yellow play-doh, see it in it's glory here, it's notable for becoming an internet sensation in Germany, and instantly became a meme when it arrived in America, with it's toy commercials airing during the meme fountain My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic.
  • And speaking of My Little Pony, we have PINK Princess Celestia.

Webcomics[edit | hide]

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The Twilight Chronicles - Imagine Twilight as a Dead Baby Comedy, with a Cast Full of Gay and a confusing Love Dodecehedron plot. Throw in writer's-strike writing and porn-worthy acting, and you've got this.
  • Short Legs One - A live action Pokémon Crack Fic. 'Nuff said, surely.
  • In Assignment2, we read excerpts from main character Stanley Brown's novels, which are titled Lance MHS and His Adventures in Bigface's Castle Boat (With His Awesome Bass) and The Gift Horse Who Saved. Both are ridiculously stupid, almost on My Immortal levels. But without the eye-gouging spelling atrocities. A sample:

“You!” shouted Yeevil. “You killed my father!”
“Kind of, but I didn’t mean to,” answered Hemmingway.
“How dare you,” shouted Yeevil quietly.
“I DO WHATEVER I WANTED TO BE DOING!” muttered Hemmingway silently.

    • This is followed by a bizarre "fight" scene with "duck calling reeds" during which the background is described in turn as being a barren plain, having trees, a roiling sea, streets, walls and finally a volcano that erupts, blasting the main character into space where he is caught by a nearby gorilla and taken to play in a band called "Galactic Fury".
  • Kickassia: A group of over-acting non-actors in a silly plot about internet reviewers from That Guy With The Glasses taking over a tiny micronation in Nevada. The ridiculous nature of the film is largely entirely deliberate. The same is true for the following film, Suburban Knights.
  • The Light of Courage: These. Three. Videos. Be warned, they're all awful but hilarious to look at.
  • There are those that watch the Irate Gamer for this reason.

Other[edit | hide]

  • Planes, Trains, and Plantains, the self-proclaimed "worst term paper ever written." (The author explains the Backstory behind it here.)
    • The amazing part was that it still managed to get a 61%, one point above failing, possibly because it still technically contained a correct overview of the story of Oedipus the King.

"In the version which must have been the favorite of Sophocles's Athenian audience, Oedipus found sanctuary at Colonus, outside of Athens. The kindness he was shown at the end made the city itself blessed. Which was the gayest ending ever."

  • This trope is usually cited for Pabst Blue Ribbon's adoption by the Hipster subculture.
  • This article discusses the So Bad It's Good phenomenon, only just stopping short of referencing the trope by name.
  • In Japan, there's a yearly award for books which are "amusing from a perspective that differs from what the author intends".
  • Those who watched the Disney Theme Parks parade Celebrate! A Street Party were "treated" to the sight of such Disney icons as Mickey Mouse, Peter Pan, and Mary Poppins doing the Macarena and dancing to "I Love Rock and Roll", among other things.
  • Some genius made a mashup of a JustinBieber song with a Slipknot one. Neither artist is exactly the best in its genre in the opinion of many. When you put the two songs together, it sounds weirdly catchy. Just... watch it.
    • Corey Tailor himself thinks it's hilarious.
    • Best (or worst) thing about it is that there are FAR too many people in the comments going "Anyone who likes this song isn't a true Slipknot fan!" "This is terrible, Bieber sucks!" etc. It's pretty funny to watch.
  • Scientists and science enthusiasts often find crank theories like Time Cube hilarious.
  • In Indonesian language, a 'jayus' is a joke that's so bad it's good.