Troubled Production

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"We were in the jungle, there were too many of us, we had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane."

Francis Ford Coppola, Hearts of Darkness (a documentary about the production of Apocalypse Now)

Say for example that you're an actor, and there's this part you're interested in. You audition for it and you receive it. You're obviously happy about it and can't wait for the movie's production to start since you come in later.

Then you show up and you see the set's horrible, the special effects are laughably stupid, the director's a Prima Donna Director, all the other actors are arguing with each other and despite only filming for a week, you're two months behind schedule.

Congratulations, your production has gone completely Off the Rails.

Far be it from us to suggest that producing a movie, an album, a TV series or the like are easy, simple processes, but most of the time they're relatively straightforward. Then there are these productions. The ones where it don't ever go smooth, where everybody slams headfirst into Finagle's Law. The expensive sets break down. The Small Name Big Egos end up quarreling with each other. The director's in way over his head. The Record Producer's Phil Spector. What unites them all is that it's gonna be a hellish experience.

These sort of productions tend to range from complete disasters to the slightly more benign ones, but what they always have in common is frayed tempers, patience, screw-ups, delays and breakdowns. Reality Subtext may happen too. Both Protection From Editors and Executive Meddling can exacerbate this phenomenon. Epic Movies are particularly vulnerable to this. This trope always applies to small or start-up studios, due to how little experience the show runners or head businessmen have in running a new one.

Troubled Productions frequently will end up resulting in bloated, overindulgent disasters that become the laughingstock of public imagination, or something really, really awesome. In the former case the completely out-of-control production can serve as an explanation for why said work turned out like it is. And the latter just tends to make people admire the creators even more - hey, look, they went through all this bullshit that would make a normal dude probably give up and still created something great! In some cases, the insanity behind it might actually contribute to the quality of the finished product, in one way or another. It's exceedingly rare for a troubled production to result in a So Okay It's Average product.

A few of those overlap with, and may often lead to, Development Hell and Vaporware, which is having trouble on starting the project. Others enter The Shelf of Movie Languishment after being finished. When concerning the music industry this can overlap with Music Is Politics, where the politics of the industry leads to this trope.

See also Movie-Making Mess, the smaller-scale, amateur version of this.

As mentioned, a lot of the examples here tend to be famous for their quality, good or bad.

Examples of Troubled Production include:

Real Life

Anime & Manga

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. Creator Breakdown and severe depression on behalf of Hideaki Anno, Gainax's shifty accounting practices ending in their CEO being arrested for tax fraud, sponsors pulling out in droves once the show dove off the deep end... Yeah, it's amazing that they even managed to finish that show, even with all the budget-saving Limited Animation at the end. Do we have another candidate for the Apocalypse Now of anime?
    • Rebuild of Evangelion is also a contender in light of Anno's more recent Creator Breakdown episodes and a host of various issues, the main one being the disintegration of the original Studio Gainax (with Anno leaving to form Studio Khara for the creation and release of Rebuild and half of the former Gainax staff founding Studio Trigger), and the financial head of what remained of Gainax repeatedly refusing to give Anno the rights and royalties from his former work while committing financial fraud (notice a pattern here?). The resultant clusterfuck caused that the final film of the tetralogy were repeatedly delayed until their announcement of a mid-2020 premiere, 8 years after the third film premiere - in comparison, between the first and the third film only passed 5 years.
  • Code Geass for its first season. Reportedly, Sunrise was wary of trusting a full series to director/co-creator Goro Taniguchi, thanks to his reputation for perfectionism and his other quirks, so he was only handed 25 episodes to begin with. The staff often had to piggyback off of other parts of the studio that were working at the same time (for example, the Geass staff didn't even have their own photocopier) and the writers were only three or four episodes ahead of the broadcast, about half the "buffer" that most series have. When the series became a runaway success, things went much better, but fans tend to blame the series' being split in half for the perceived drop in quality in the second half.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny is an example of this, partly because of head writer Chiaki Morosawa's battle with cancer during production, which resulted in her turning her scripts in late, and thus, necessitating the numerous clip shows throughout the series. Also, although Shinn was supposed to the main character of the series, Kira was thrust back into the spotlight from episode 39 onwards, because of his popularity with the Japanese audience. Finally, there was director Mitsuo Fukuda being demanding on the voice actors on the way how they're supposed to be portrayed (specifically, Naomi Shindo [the voice of Cagalli] and Maaya Sakamoto [the voice of Lunamaria]). This was confirmed by Rie Tanaka (the voice of Lacus and Meer) at her 2008 New York Anime Festival appearance, as well as Kenichi Suzumura (the voice of Shinn) in one of his Twitter posts.
    • Of course, the very first Mobile Suit Gundam show's production was no picnic, either (as is chronicled in the tongue-in-cheek "Making Of" series Gundam Sousei). Then came Zeta Gundam, which suffered fewer financial hardships than the original, but both the TV series and the Compilation Movies rather infamously suffered complications as a result of the romantic blunders of various men involved in production with at least three voice actresses.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam F91 also fell to this. Originally intended to be full series before it was dropped, a lot of compromises were made in order to compress what material Tomino had into a feature-length movie. Crossbone Gundam would ultimately resolve many of the plot points from that film.
    • Mobile Suit Victory Gundam also became rather notorious. As while it's considered one of the darkest works in the franchise, the series was also made at the height of Tomino's Creator Breakdown, with telling consequences.
  • The Dream Machine the final movie of the late Satoshi Kon has experienced its share of trouble, having gone from production into Development Hell, back into production only to fall back into development hell. First Kon's death from pancreatic cancer put the film on hold to determine the next course of action. Kon's widow and Studio Madhouse's Masao Maruyama told they would finish the film and production resumed. However, at Otakon 2011 Maruyama reported the movie has been put on hold due to financial difficulties. Maruyama is still determined to finish the film eventually with about 600 shots out of 1500 had been animated at that point.
  • For a long time, Mahou Sensei Negima looked like a happy subversion. Ken Akamatsu wanted to do a shounen-action series from the start, but his producers wanted a harem show like his extremely popular Love Hina series. Akamatsu faked a harem series, using the first two volumes to lay down characterization, then slowly segue into the fighter series he wanted from the start. This resulted in an extremely intelligent and popular series known for its Amazon Brigade and ridiculously badass ten-year old protagonist. However, some three hundred chapters later, the executives tried to take the rights to the series away from him. He responded by ending the series abruptly, with a carefully crafted final chapter that managed to use the Where Are They Now? Epilogue to make sure no one else could use his series. It remains to be seen if there will be any more releases filling in the unanswered questions.

Comic Books

  • David Herbert apparently attracts this kind of production with all his works except Living With Insanity. Tnemrot was supposed to be a print comic and was written in late 2008, going through seven artists before Tatiana Lepikhina joined and is now a webcomic. Gemini Storm was also written at the same time, came out in March 2010 and the second issue is still expected to take another month or two before being released. He has also mentioned other projects that haven't gone anywhere due to artists dropping out or simply disappearing.
  • The Clone Saga. To make a very long story short: a mix of artists wanting to do a bit of Continuity Porn and a bunch of very profit-oriented directives transformed what was originally to be a short special event leading for a milestone number of Spiderman into a slog that seeped for two years and tens of titles, which was unable to be finished despite the wishes of almost everyone involved because it sold well, but the reason it sold well for a long while was because the fans wanted to see how the writers could finally tie the immense tangled web of subplots they wrote themselves into for editorial mandate to keep going as long as it sells.
  • The popular crossover between the Justice League of America and The Avengers languished for 20 years because DC Comics and Marvel Comics couldn't decide on who would win in a fight. It was eventually discovered the reasons those decisions took so long was basically Executive Meddling from Jim Shooter, then the new head of Marvel, whom didn't like the lineup chosen for the crossover (it teamed the X-Men with the Teen Titans, when he preferred it wouuld have been with the Legion of Super-Heroes) and in true temper tantrum blocked every decision he could.
  • Anything that isn't part of the mainstream Marvel Comics tends to suffer from this. One of the more documented ones was The New Universe. Touted as "The World Outside Your Window", the franchise fell apart from the beginning - writers tossed in 616-type elements (aliens, powered armors, etc.), financial backers pulled out before it even started, and people were too engrossed by that slogan. Despite canceling half of the franchise and starting a massive storyline that started with the destruction of Pittsburgh, it never got off its feet and died nearly three years later.
    • newuniversal suffered an equally crushing blow when the files on Warren Ellis' laptop were lost when his hard drive failed. Marvel shuffled him on to other projects and newuniversal died an inglorious death.
    • Marvel 2099, the revisioning of the Marvel Universe as a Cyberpunk dystopia, wasn't the greatest, but when Marvel let go its editor-in-chief for that line as a cost-cutting measure thanks to its near-bankruptcy, many creators bailed, leaving the series to limp to its end.
  • The Image Comics/Valiant Comics crossover Death Mate. So much that it served as a Creator Killer for Valiant.
  • And while we're on that subject, anything done by Rob Liefeld, a master of the Schedule Slip. One legendary tale about it was that during the Death Mate debacle an editor went everyday to Liefeld's house just to ensure that his contributions weren't a year late.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog always had a problem when it came to converting video game storylines into its more serious setting. However, two of the biggest screw ups came about via Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2. For Sonic Adventure, Sega gave Archie a copy of the game... untranslated, so they had to fudge a lot of the story. The original plan was to have the storyline run through then-all three titles - Sonic the Hedgehog, Knuckles the Echidna and Sonic Super Special. However, just before the storyline started, the Knuckles comic got cancelled, forcing Archie to cram all of the Knuckles stories into the Sonic issues as back stories.
    • For Sonic Adventure 2's story, the big problem was that Sega was insistent on Archie creating a tie-in into the game. Archie's solution? Just do enough to whet people's appetite and go get the game. Still was enough to ruin a side-by-side storyline that had a cosmicly-powered Knuckles altering Mobius drastically.
      • Up until Sonic Genesis, most other adaptation storylines would end up just being teasers with Archie Comics practically saying "Game X happened after this story.".
  • The reason The Death of Superman was created was because one of these. The original idea was to marry Clack Kent and Lois Lane in the comics, but then a new Superman TV Series was greenlighted and its producers convinced to DC to hold the wedding until they did theirs. Faced with losing a year worth of stories, writer Jerry Ordway make the joking suggestion of "why don't kill them all?". It says something about how desperate they were that they ended going along with it. Meanwhile, the TV series didn't actually held their wedding until four years later, which in the comic book was enough time to kill and revive Superman, make him go thorough a Dork Age, and even break up him and Lois, only reconciling them after the series finally had their goddamn wedding.

Conventions, Concerts and other Events

  • The infamous 2014 convention Dashcon, Tumblr-themed and run by fans, became a byword for disastrous events before the event even ended. Most of it was due to horrible organization.
    • The initial name for the convention was "TumblrCon", which has to be changed when Tumblr itself forbade the organizers to use the name of the company due to the event not being directly affiliated to them. This lack of foresight was a prelude of what would come.
    • According to people who were involved in the initial planning stages, the whole thing was disorganized from the get go. Anyone and everyone were welcomed to create committees for a fandom, no experience required. Communication and moderation between and within groups was insufficient to nonexistent. Since most of the committees were fandom themed, many of the ones on small fandoms imploded or dissolved, while the committees for SuperWhoLock, the overlapping fandoms for Doctor Who, Supernatural, and Sherlock were blatantly favored by the organizers.
    • Organization on the event itself proved insufficient, with panelists having to moderate their own panels when the intended moderators didn't appear, invitees not getting refunds on their accommodations, and the vendors in the Artist Alley being mistreated. Security was also very lacking, to the point that a member of /pol/ managed to enter without identifying himself and filming the con with complete impunity.
    • While the event managed to get an initial funding of $4,000 via a successful Kickstarter campaign, this amount proved to be insufficient. This lead to numerous invitees not getting paid nor had their expenses reimbursed, and to the infamous drive in the event floor to collect S17,000 from the assistants to pay the hotel bill.
    • The convention claimed to have hired Steam Powered Giraffe, but turned out they actually hadn't booked them. Despite it, they keep promoting their concert until the very last minute, and even changed the rules on money devolution on the fly to deal with angry con-goers. They also promoted a panel with the members of famous podcast Welcome to Night Vale, but the podcast actors bailed out the minute they discovered their weren't going to be paid.
    • Besides the panels, the convention was very lacking in attractions. The most notorious one was a half-deflated ball pit, whose patheticness in pics and use as a bribe to distract angry con-goers ("A free hour in the ball pit!") gained immediate Memetic Mutation. There were projections, too, and those were also plagued with troubles - and they projected material without express consent of its copyright holders, which is an felony in Illinois, the state where the convention was held.
    • The projected assistance turned out to be extremely off. They expected around 5000, but the estimations on actual people attending was between 500 and 1500 at most, a good chunk of them being teenagers between 13 and 16. Not helped by the fact this con was held one week after the very anticipated Anime Midwest, which was held in the same area.
    • And proving that the organizers learned nothing of this debacle, they decided to polish the turd and rebrand their convention Emoti-Con. This one didn't got to celebrate, though, as the group imploded during the planning stages, but not before getting $120,000 in debt. This post has all the details.

Fan Works

  • Unwilling Service, a Pokemon fanfic series currently spanning three simultaneous fics, barely managed to see four chapters in total between 2011-14 before author Economy (formerly McKnight, then Searover1986) declared it dead. He revived it in May 2016, to take his focus off of another project that wasn't going anywhere, but while he managed to write up a chapter for each of the three fics in quick succession, his beta-writer, someone calling himself Jake, encountered one problem after another, especially in light of a burglary in October that year, which required him to move back in with his family and endure a hectic lifestyle. Economy continued to hold out on him until he caved in and revealed how he really felt about the story. Things didn't fare much better when Economy took to Upwork, and the resulting frustration led to increasing animosity between him and Jake, whom he had also been friends with for over a decade; most people who proposed to take it up either failed to understand what he expected of them (even after getting Jake to summarize what he did before), went silent, had to back out, or lost interest by the time he got back to them after putting them on hold in favor of those before them. This spanned three attempts before he pulled the plug early in last said attempt and even wrote something on his blog that he retracted upon being called out, but which still led their friendship into a bitter multi-month decline. Even the two and only freelancers who actually did follow through with a chapter or so eventually stopped responding to his messages, leading him to Freelancer instead when he posted the project one last time on Upwork, contacted multiple other Freelancers recommended to him, and had the project taken down for content violations. At this point, Economy has already decided just to commission outright for an initial draft of the whole story instead, whenever he returns to the project at all. (And that wasn't a decision he made lightly; originally, he planned for the project to be some kind of personal game for himself, especially regarding his plans for the Pal Park and both of the Battle Frontiers, having once loved the actual games but since realizing one thing after another about them that rubbed him the wrong way.)
    • One thing also worth noting in particular is their dispute about Jamie (now Jimmy) having muscles, towards the end of 2012. The author asked Jake at least three times not to buff him up, which he ignored as he proceeded just to do things his way and then tell him to redo the relevant scenes himself. He did redo some of them after being called out for his disobedience, but not before justifying himself first and arguing with him, and even then, there were still some things left that only muscles could explain (which he only managed to get rid of years later by having someone else do the whole chapter over). Eventually, this was one of the few things he cited when asked multiple times to cite what he came to hate about the story itself.
      • There is also the issue of the PokéWalker, one of Economy's favorite aspects of a pair of games that Jake very outright hates to this day.
    • As for the two authors' relationship, it's been dead in the water since February 2018. While Jake's bailout marked the beginning of the end between them, actual tensions began when Economy stated a refusal to help him with any of his fanfiction until he deliver a make-up assignment of some sort. It was not long after that Economy got some answers out of Jake regarding what he actually hated about the story, but even when he offered concessions on two such aspects, things went nowhere from there in terms of winning him back, which led Economy to believe that he just wanted to be catered to and to do whatever he'd damn well please and was now being a poor sport over not having had his way through and through to begin with. Soon thereafter, Economy offered Jake a break from it all, but then impulsively demanded more answers about the situation, going on to tell him on his blog to go fuck himself when he thought he was ignoring him, before he revealed he was actually on a family trip and decided right then and there that that was it. Starting with a botched apology in response, things went on and off for months, and seemed to take a better terms for their friendship itself when Economy offered at least not to talk about his fetishes or a certain show Jake also hates, before deciding to let more time go by before he'd express his actual issues outside of but related to Jake's departure. Only a month went by as Economy proceeded to elaborate in a WordPad file meant for much later on, before he broke down and expressed the toll such a thing was taking on his mental health, at which point Jake urged him, more out of guilt and despair than frustration, just to forget about him altogether.

What I wanted to make sense of, was why he requested all kinds of stuff to make happen in Unwilling Service if he actually hated it so much. He wanted Mewtwo to Mega Evolve a certain way (can't remember between his X or Y forms), he wanted Dawn to try being a nudist like the protagonists and to participate in the Pal Park, he wanted Jamie to be naked upon meeting each of the Pokemon Idols, and even when he admitted his lack of interest in gym quests, he still went on to suggest ways to make it more interesting, asked to see my first entry about the story, requested a trial run of the Pal Park, and asked that each of the mains have a rival to compete against for that event. All of that, on top of requesting that I go through my blog to tag each entry where I talked about Pokemon, mentioning someone who found the premise amusing, sharing certain things with me like that tabletop game and something about parallel universes, and before I previously abandoned it, asking me to find it within me to care about it again. He even said yes when I asked if he'd ever be interested in a hypothetical visual adaptation of some sort. That's what I mean when I talk about any interest he displayed up until telling me he can't do it anymore, not just because of his lifestyle, but because he couldn't stand all the halfway measures we had to make. Can you say, "two-faced hypocrisy?"


Live Action TV

  • Power Rangers: Particularly in the movies.
    • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (as Linkara summedup nicely): season one hit its troubles when it turned out the series was popular, forcing Saban to rewrite the original finale, "Doomsday", to keep going and had them approach Toei to make new Ranger-centric scenes. When season two came along, Saban opted to use mecha footage from Gosei Sentai Dairanger and had to mix it in with footage from the so-called "Zyu2" footage. When the Zyu2 footage ran out, they also retired the Green Ranger character and ended up changing him into the White Ranger. By this time, Austin St. John, Walter Jones, and Thuy Trang (Jason, Zack, and Trini) were let go because of contract disputes and were replaced midway. When the Dairanger footage ran out, they replaced that footage with mecha footage from Ninja Sentai Kakuranger. It would be by that point that Saban threw their hands in the air and opted to change everyone to match the seasons.
    • Power Rangers Turbo nearly ended the franchise due to a number of problems, including:
      • When Steve Cardenas was injured during filming of Power Rangers Zeo, he was let go and replaced with Blake Foster in an attempt to garner new viewers. Didn't work.
      • Jason David Frank and Catherine Sutherland asked to leave the series for other pursuits. They were given a shortened contract, giving them enough time to find replacements. Instead, it was decided to jettison everyone connected to the original group, including Zordon and Alpha 5, replacing them with cryptic mentor Dimitria and jive-talking Alpha 6. As well, all four pre-Turbo Rangers were replaced with new characters(Johnny Yong Bosch said in one interview that they didn't know this was happening until they saw an ad for auditions for their jobs in the paper.)
      • Arguments between the writing team members as they weren't sure what to do with Gekisou Sentai Carranger's slapstick comedy moments and if they should embrace it or continue with their apocalyptic storyline.
    • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: Creators were dismayed when they found out all the mecha scenes from Seijuu Sentai Gingaman all took place in cities, scuttling plans for otherworldly battles. As well, when the actress playing Pink Ranger Kendrix was stricken with leukemia, she was planned to have been replaced by Cassie, the Pink Ranger of Power Rangers in Space (even a plot hook where her morpher was damaged was filmed), but was scuttled due to contract problems [3] and she was replaced by Karone, the former Astronema. And it was good.
      • Additionally, scripts were constantly being rewritten, and at times, the producers weren't sure what exactly they wanted to do with the season. This is particularly evident when the Lost Galaxy, the season title, was reduced to an eight-episode mini-arc near the end of the season.
    • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue: While the show overall didn't seem to suffer massive issues, the team-up with the previous season... On top of drawing heavily on Sentai footage from the counterpart team-up special, which is rarely done for any team-up, given the diverging plots between Power Rangers and Super Sentai, it was originally released as a video tie-in for McDonald's, explaining why the episode focused more on a child actor than, say, the two teams teaming up. Amy Miller, the actress who portrayed the villain Trakeena, left the set shortly after filming began when she learned that the Lost Galaxy characters were essentially cameos in their own team-up and was replaced by another actress. While he remained for filming, Danny Slavin, who played the Red Lost Galaxy Ranger, is audibly redubbed with the voice of another actor at points.
    • Power Rangers Wild Force: The anniversary episode Forever Red was rife with problems. Originally conceived as a cult attempting to revive Dark Specter, the need to use abandoned Big Bad Beetleborgs costumes and the want of a super weapon lead to the usage of the Machine Empire and Serpentera. Scenes were filmed and cut out (including a bigger role for the Wild Force team outside of their brief cameo) and a major battle between classic Megazords and Serpentera were scuttled when Bandai insisted that Cole use a vehicle he gained just an episode earlier, leading to a Curb Stomp Battle.
      • Another example was with the series itself. Judd Lynn quit the series partway through because he was tired of Jonothan Tzachor's scene-by-scene recreation of Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger (which he would pull off again in Power Rangers Samurai). As well, the series was being made during the time Disney bought the franchise and wasn't sure what to do with it.
      • Also on "Forever Red," Leo's actor had been dissatisfied with his show's treatment in their crossover on Lightspeed Rescue, and only agreed to do it after most of the episode had already been shot. Hence his very late arrival, and the awkward bit where he demorphs just so the big morphing sequence can include all ten Rangers.
    • Power Rangers Dino Thunder: Not as bad as most, but Jason David Frank wanting to spend some time back with his family in the United States forced them to create a scenario where Tommy is trapped in his morphed state, then invisible. Like the Karone incident, it did lead to an Awesome Moment.
    • Power Rangers SPD: Executive Meddling lead to a good chunk of the series' budget being placed onto the series finale, which had a major CGI battle between the SWAT Megazord and the Bigger Bad. However, this lead to them being unable to do a number of things, including hiring an actor for Sixth Ranger Sam, the Omega Ranger. As well, many episodes were taken wholesale from its Super Sentai counterpart Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger. When Canada accidentally aired the second installment between SPD and Power Rangers Dino Thunder, ABC held back that part for a good length of time before finally letting it air.
    • Power Rangers RPM: Started off pretty well, even though it was at the tail end of Disney's apathy toward the series. Things took a downturn about halfway through, when Guzelian was fired over "creative differences" with Disney and Rangers veteran Judd Lynn was brought in. This created some animosity among the cast, who were hired by Eddie and didn't like the way things went down. They took particular offense that the Disney Executives involved in firing Eddie lied and blamed the show's budget and scheduling issues on him, even going so far as to use their contacts in the fandom to spread these rumors online in an attempt to badmouth and smear the new producer before RPM premiered. Though the rumors of Eddie mismanaging the show continue to be pedaled on message boards, not a single person involved in the production has ever come forward to substantiate them (Eddie himself said in one interview that scripts would occasionally come in over-time or over-budget, but that isn't exactly rare for any production.) In fact, anyone who was actually there has gone on record to say that the rumors aren't true. Dan Ewing, the star of the show, even called the rumors being spread about Eddie (and this is a direct quote from an interview) "complete bullshit." Not as bad as some other seasons, but it definitely had its rough patches.
    • As a whole, the Disney-era Rangers series suffered from Troubled Production. It was bought up when Disney attempted to get the Fox Family Channel and Saban's collection of series (specifically Digimon) and the series as a whole clashed with Disney's family-friendly attitude. While they did show some care during the early years, their apathy started to show. They attempted to shut down the series at least three times, start up an animated version of the series and even attempted to gain control of Toei's Super Sentai franchise to make it less violent!
  • Several game shows have had production troubles that led to the contestants, and sometimes the host, never being paid. These include Pitfall (1981; host Alex Trebek — yes, that one — framed the check he got from the company after it bounced), the original 1987 version of Lingo (1987), a game show adaptation of Yahtzee (1988) and The Reel to Reel Picture Show (1997). Interestingly, Lingo and Yahtzee shared an executive producer, and both the latter and Reel to Reel were hosted by Peter Marshall of The Hollywood Squares fame.
  • Once he became executive producer of The Price Is Right in the 1980s, Bob Barker was often at odds with the models, having fired six of them for various reasons. All six of them sued him for sexual harrassment. He also barred longtime announcer Rod Roddy from appearing on-camera in the early 2000s due to a salary dispute, which led to Fremantle Media covering up by saying that they'd enacted a policy to keep announcers from appearing on camera.
  • Family Feud also had its share of backstage troubles from original host Richard Dawson, particularly in the later years. Namely, he was a prima donna who was often at odds with the producer, even barring him from the set and debating with him on answers. Mark Goodson once remarked that Dawson gave him "tsoris" (Yiddish for "trouble").
  • The shooting of the pilot episode of Lost was interrupted by constant rain, resulting in their set getting flooded and some of the equipment washed away and/or waterlogged. They had to drive to the nearest town, which was something like half an hour away IIRC, to buy hairdryers to dry off the cameras. In addition, natural rain doesn't show up properly on camera, meaning they had to fake rain all over their poor actors at the same time as trying to keep equipment from getting washed away. Then there was the other problem they had just before shooting; Evangeline Lily, who is Canadian, had some problems with getting her work visa, causing them to delay her scenes and almost have to recast the female lead in the middle of shooting.
  • The first shoot of the 2005 revival series of Doctor Who was a very troubled affair. The full details have never been made public, but by all accounts the director set about making himself unpopular, and after the first week of shooting they managed to be three weeks behind schedule.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series was rife with problems. The root cause for much of it was the network wanting an action-oriented Space Western and the production team wanting to do serious science fiction. Low budgets were also a big problem, something you'd probably figure out from watching almost any episode. Things got especially bad in the infamous third season. The show was renewed thanks to a fan letter-writing campaign, but with budgets slashed further and a move to the Friday Night Death Slot. This led to Gene Roddenberry quitting his job as Show Runner. As a result of all this, the third season had a marked decline in quality with an accompanied increase in campiness. Leonard Nimoy found himself frequently clashing with writers and directors who wanted Spock to do Out of Character things like use violence or hit on the Girl of the Week. By the end of that season, the show had predictably crashed and burned itself into Cancellation.
    • If there's any single episode of TOS that suffered from this trope, it was "The Alternative Factor" during the first season. John Barrymore, Drew's father, had been cast as Lazarus, the main guest role ... and then didn't show up on the first day of filming. His agent and lawyer couldn't find him, so they cast someone else in a big hurry (Barrymore's absence led to him getting suspended by SAG for six months after Desilu filed a grievance). The beard for the replacement was improvised from what had been designed for Barrymore, and it shows. The script has howler lines like "Starfleet has been getting reports from all over the galaxy and far beyond ..." It also had a subplot in which Lazarus became romantically involved with a black member of the crew. That was filmed ... and hastily edited out when NBC got paranoid about how the Southern affiliates would react, resulting in the finished episode's choppy feel.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation had a similarly rough ride for its first couple of seasons, mostly due to Gene Roddenberry's declining health and the ridiculously high turnover rate in the writing staff for the first two seasons. Roddenberry's lawyer took control of the writing staff for most of the first season, leading to the departure of TOS mainstays David Gerrold and D.C. Fontana, and near the end of the season cast member Denise Crosby, who got pissed off at being a glorified extra. Things got a bit better for the second season where Maurice Hurley took over the writing staff, but since a lot of TV writers chose to sit out the whole 1988-89 season after the 1988 WGA strike it left no more than about four or five writers (two of whom worked as a team) working on the show at any one point. It didn't help that, according to Tracy Torme at least, Hurley didn't get along with anybody and only differed from Roddenberry's lawyer in that he actually had writing experience. There were also rumors that Hurley had a big crush on Gates McFadden and had her written out of the second season (replacing her with Dr. Pulaski) when she brushed him off. It wasn't until the third season when Roddenberry health didn't allow him to work, which allowed Rick Berman and Michael Piller to take control of the production and the show start to balance out.
    • Even by the standards of the first two seasons, the infamous episode "Code of Honor" stands out. One of the two original writers took his name off it after it was heavily rewritten, and that was before the director they hired chose to populate the aliens of the week entirely with African-American guest actors, whom he proceeded to treat like garbage (though apparently he didn't treat the main cast a whole lot better). Eventually Roddenberry decided enough was enough and canned the director, leaving the first assistant director to pick up the pieces for the remainder of the shoot... which just happened to include the episode's big action sequence. Most of the main cast members (Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner and Wil Wheaton especially) have had some rather choice words about the episode in recent years.
      • Not to mention that many of the writers felt Roddenberry's rewrite put it beyond any chance of salvation. He had supposedly told one of the two original writers, on another episode, that the Enterprise doesn't fire warning shots ... only to add a scene in this episode where it did exactly that.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 isn't perfect, what being a series that bring big laughs with a small budget, but they do have some very interesting incidents.
    • Way back in Season One, there was the episode The Sidehackers. Prior to this episode, Best Brains would choose a movie, someone would watch over part of it and if was worthy to riff, they'd go through it. When Frank Conniff (before he took up the role of TV's Frank), found it, he thought it was good enough to riff and bought the rights. Imagine their shock and horror when, partway through, there was a rape and murder scene. Unable to pull back, Best Brains ended up lopping out the entire scene and Trace, as Crow, added in a throwaway line mentioning what happened to the girl who suffered that fate.
    • The blooper reel Poopie! does show a number of incidents that has the Crow, Tom and Gypsy puppets malfunction in some way, mostly by Tom losing his dome or Crow's headnet falling off. One incident from the movie Danger!! Death Ray had a scene where Tom shoots Crow with a ray gun and Crow's seen lit up. As the scene comes to an end, Crow bursts into flames! The scene was actually kept in!
    • Another Poopie! blooper showed that Frank couldn't say "I don't think that, soul brother." with a straight face at all! It was so bad, they just grabbed the best take and edited out the part where they burst out laughing.


  • The Smashing Pumpkins' mainstream breakthrough Siamese Dream ended up as this. Billy Corgan moved the band from Chicago to Marietta, Georgia in an attempt to get Jimmy Chamberlin to stop abusing so many drugs (it failed), he came down with suicidal depression and writer's block, D'arcy Wretzky and James Iha broke up at the same time and by the end Billy wound up playing most of the guitar and bass just to get things done quicker. Eventually, the album was finished after four months and $250,000 over budget and became a massive success.
  • My Bloody Valentine's Magnum Opus, Loveless. You can probably get the whole lowdown on The Other Wiki or the band's own page, but just to recap: main vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Kevin Shields is perfectionist to the point of James-Cameron-ness, 19 recording studios were used, 16 engineers were credited (most of them just ended up bringing Shields tea; only Anjali Dutt and Alan Moulder actually engineered anything), Shields and vocalist/guitarist Bilinda Butcher didn't allow the engineers to actually listen to them while recording vocals, drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig couldn't take part due to illness and homelessness (his drumming was sampled, and he only played live on two tracks), they took two weeks to master the whole thing and it was almost all ruined when the computer they were using threw the entire album out of order and Shields had to piece it back together from memory. For years their label head Alan McGee claimed they spent 250.000 pounds and almost bankrupted Creation Records, a claim Shields always disputed as exaggerated - his most recent explanation was that only "a few thousand" were actually used to record while the rest was "money to live on". However, it is true that the production of Loveless ended up terrorizing Creation's staff and draining their finances, with the label's second-in-command Dick Green having a nervous breakdown and tearfully begging Shields to just get it over with already - one publicist even commented that Green's hair turned grey from all the stress.
  • Red House Painters had this happen to them twice:
    • During the production of what was supposed to be a Mark Kozelek solo album, Songs for a Blue Guitar, 4AD's record manager Ivo Watts ended up in a raging argument with Kozelek over a guitar solo. Because Kozelek refused to change it, Watts threw not just Kozelek but the entire RHP project off the label, just a couple of months before the album was due to be released. During the next several weeks, Kozelek desperately tried to find a label that would release the album as well as let him finish it. Even when Island Records took him in, they demanded the guitar solos changed and that the album be labeled as Red House Painters rather than a solo album. While the guitar solos ended up staying, Kozelek would not release his first true solo album until 2000. Songs For A Blue Guitar is considered one of the best albums to be associated with the singer/songwriter.
    • When the band got back together to record Old Ramon, Kozelek (feeling just a little too proud of the critical response to the previous album) was going through an ego trip. The band were constantly arguing with instrument arrangements, which on previous albums were a group effort, but now Kozelek was composing everything himself. Their connection with Island Records was also falling through, with the label one-upping 4AD's dropping them by not just dropping the band, but refusing to let them have the master recordings of the album. Old Ramon remained unheard (a miracle even by late 90's standards) until 2001 when Sub Pop records offered Island more money than the album was truly worth just to get this great piece of art out to the public.
  • Jeff Buckley had both a very notable aversion and straight-forward example of this. Grace is one of the most easy-going recordings in popular music history, while Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk is an entirely different story. After the commercial disappointment (at least in Sony's eyes) of Grace, Sony sent in a record producer that demanded hits from the singer-songwriter. During this album's production he threw out an entire album's worth of material and completely reworked songs against the producer's wishes. Buckley's own fellow band members recall the high-heated arguments during recording sessions that created high-tension drama for the musicians involved. As if that weren't bad enough, Buckley made it worse by dying in the middle of production. This left many of the already troubled songs completely unfinished. The album was released with production as close to finished as the producers thought would be in the singer's wishes, the first CD containing the mostly finished previously-recorded material that had been rejected, and the second disc the more unfinished songs and home demos. The album is generally considered good, but really jarring, as the potential the album could have had brings sadness to many listeners.
  • A milder example but one that still qualifies, the sessions for The White Album found The Beatles largely working alone with whatever engineers they had handy and spending hours jamming with no results. The tense atmosphere and lack of productivity caused their longtime engineer Geoff Emerick to quit halfway through and even George Martin felt he had to take a vacation. It pretty much marked the point when the arguments and fights that would later break up the band first reared their ugly head. The ambient was so bad Ringo even left the band for a couple of days, leading Paul to play drums in both "Back in the USSR" and "Dear Prudence".
    • The Beatles started work on Let It Be thinking that returning to the good ol' days of studio jams would get them out of their rut. It didn't work, of course, and the documentary film that was supposed to capture genius at work instead captured the ugly breakdown of a once great band. The album was eventually released several years later when Phil "Wall of Sound" Spector cobbled together what usable bits existed of the recording sessions and turned them into complete songs (such was the acrimony among band members that they never actually recorded a complete take from beginning to end). In 2003, Paul McCartney completely remixed the album producing a rawer, more stripped down sound that he claimed was closer to the band's original vision. The accompanying film has not been shown publicly since the mid-80s because the remaining Beatles say that it brings back too many bad memories.
  • Pink Floyd's late seventies-early eighties albums.
    • The Wall: the band had to leave the UK for tax reasons, and recorded the album in studios in France and the USA. Homesickness predictably ensued. Roger Waters started really becoming the band's dictator, and argued with producer Bob Ezrin. Rick Wright was fired for his refusal to cut his vacation short and rush back to the studio when the album turned out to be behind schedule. The extravagant tour ended up losing the band money, except for Wright, who was the only "official" member to profit from the tour on the basis that he played and was paid as a session musician during the tours.
      • The movie was just as bad, with Waters, director Alan Parker and animation director Gerald Scarfe constantly getting into each other's nerves.
    • The Final Cut: Roger completely took over by this point, not allowing David Gilmour any input and becoming quite the Small Name, Big Ego - at one point he lost his shit and argued with Michael Kamen after finding that Kamen had just scribbled "I must not fuck sheep" repeatedly instead of taking notes. Nick Mason was replaced for a few songs by session drummers as he was suffering from self-confidence issues and marital problems. As a result, Gilmour requested to have his name removed from the producer's credits, but still received producer's royalties.
    • A Momentary Lapse of Reason: much less angsty but still a bit. Gilmour had problems with writer's block and brought in numerous musicians to help, while Mason and Wright (the latter whom, at the time, was not an official member until 1994) themselves didn't do much due to, again, self-confidence issues (Gilmour said that Waters had a talent for "making others feel worthless"). Finally, at the same time the album was produced, Gilmour and Mason were fighting a lawsuit against Waters over ownership of the Pink Floyd name.
  • The Rolling Stones' beloved Magnum Opus Exile on Main St. Much like Pink Floyd, the Stones left the UK in 1971 for tax reasons and settled in France. Most of the backing tracks were recorded in the basement of Richards' villa at Nellcôte, a poorly-ventilated environment where the heat would cause the guitars to go out of tune. Recording took place all night but none of the Stones ever showed up all at the same time - Wyman sat out most of the sessions, Jagger was frequently AWOL and Richards was just getting started on his infamous substance abuse. He was joined in said substance abuse by Taylor, producer Jimmy Miller, session musician Bobby Keys and engineer Andy Johns - Wyman claimed in his autobiography that he, Watts and Jagger were the only people in the villa who abstained to some degree. The band then took the piecemeal recordings and backing tracks to Los Angeles, added all the overdubs and assembled them into Exile.
    • An awesome example is the 1969 tour that was being documented by a film crew. The crew just happened to be on hand to capture the planning for and performance of the infamous concert at the Altamont Speedway. This was intended to be the Stones' Crowning Moment of Awesome, but things started to go wrong very early, giving the whole proceedings an aura of doom. The event just barely got pulled together, and was marked by fighting in the crowd. The cameras were able to capture the whole fiasco, including the murder of an attendee by a Hell's Angels guard. The production was intended to be a standard concert film, but became Gimme Shelter, a dark documentary that shows how what was intended to be an answer to Woodstock became seen by some as the event that marked the end of the hippie era.
  • Extensive use of cocaine marked much of the production of the Fleetwood Mac album Rumours, recorded shortly after two members of the band had divorced, another two members were in a on/off relationship, and the drummer discovered that his wife was having an affair. The resulting LP was a huge critical and commercial success, and regularly appears on lists of the best albums ever made.
  • The same problems continued, just turned up a few notches, when they went back into the studio to make the double album Tusk. Lindsey Buckingham was largely in charge, and he found yet another way to piss off his ex-girlfriend, Stevie Nicks, by cutting "Sara" down to six and a half minutes from the original 14. He was influenced by the New Wave sound of the time, and it shows. For the title track they got the USC marching band to play along. It cost a million dollars to make, the most expensive album ever recorded at that time, and although it generated three hit singles ("Sara" among them) and sold four million copies it was widely regarded as a failure because that was nowhere near the business Rumours had done.
  • Pete Townshend, after Tommy's immense success, intended to create another rock opera, this time with a sci-fi bent, called Lifehouse. Its plot would involve a dystopian heavily polluted virtual reality-based future (virtual reality before the term was even coined), where a Scottish farmer family go to the Lifehouse concert in London, the perfect note rings out and the concertgoers disappear after having achieved musical Nirvana (no, not that kind). The Who would take over the Young Vic theatre, develop new material with influence from the audience and a story would evolve. It would be a movie. Pete would modify his new synths to pick up information from audience members to create musical portraits (something basically impossible then and still pretty complicated now). Unsurprisingly, this was a recipe for disaster. Pete's inability to figure out just what the fuck he wanted caused him to have a nervous breakdown, and after spending four months of live concerts at the Young Vic and unproductive studio sessions, he finally junked the whole Rock Opera concept. The Who gathered up their best songs, and entered Olympic Studios with producer Glyn Johns. The result was Who's Next.
  • Metallica's mainstream breakthrough Self-Titled Album, to a certain extent. To recap: band members get sick of hyper-complicated prog-metal songs that are "too fucking long" during the ...And Justice for All era, hire Motley Crue producer Bob Rock, he proceeds to alter the band's schedule and actually challenge them on songwriting (something previous producers Jon Zazula, Paul Curcio and Flemming Rasmussen never did; in one specific example, Rock told Hetfield up front that his original, crib death-themed lyrics for "Enter Sandman" sucked hard and he needed to write better ones) and emphasising the still-picked-on Jason Newsted in the mix (in contrast to Justice's infamous lack of bass), lots of arguments ensue. Metallica themselves said that they somehow bonded during the sessions through finding new ways to torment Rock - Hetfield claimed that at one point he was browsing a magazine which happened to contain a gay ad that startled Rock, so the next day he plastered an entire room with gay porn. Despite all the animosity, Metallica stuck with Rock due to the success they had with the Black Album (which is still the best-selling album of the Sound Scan era and the best-selling Heavy Metal album), all the way up to the disastrously received St. Anger.
    • St. Anger itself, as the Some Kind of Monster documentary (filmed during recording of said album) handily proved.
  • U2 have had a few:
    • Achtung Baby was recorded at first in Berlin's famous Hansa Ton Studios (formerly Hansa By The Wall, what with them being right next to the Berlin Wall) at the same time that an intra-band conflict started up: Bono and The Edge, burned by the poor reception of Rattle and Hum and their own Creator Backlash, wanted to go in a cyberpunk-industrial-electro-alternative-rock direction, inspired by the contemporary growth of the Alternative Rock, Shoegazing and Madchester scenes. Larry and Adam, on the other hand, wanted to keep the "old U2" sound. Hoping that they would be inspired by the post-Cold-War-ending euphoria, the band instead found the mood in Germany something of a malaise and their hotel really poor. Cue lots of arguments and little tangible progress despite the aid of producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. They decamped back to Ireland with the tapes, managed to sort them out and came out with one of their most beloved records.
    • Pop was meant to further the band's explorations into electronic and dance music, recorded with the help of more producers. They were so confident they allowed their manager to schedule a tour for the summer of 1997. Then Larry had to sit out a lot of the sessions due to back surgery, the band hit some walls creatively and ended up in a mad rush to finish recording the album in time for the PopMart tour - Bono's vocals for "Last Night on Earth" were, funnily enough, recorded on the last day of mixing and mastering, and the whole band basically worked like they were Japanese until the CD was finally released, then just went straight into touring. This left them no time to practice for the tour, resulting in some pretty poor early shows (including a disastrous start in Las Vegas, where they had to stop and re-start "Staring at the Sun" because they lost timing).
  • Smile, by Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, is one of the most fascinating examples of this in music history. It was meant to be, in Brian's words, a "teenage symphony to God", a whole album's worth of music similar in style to their smash hit "Good Vibrations", and the album that would top his previous masterpiece, Pet Sounds. But as time went on, Brian's already fragile psyche began to crumble, coupled with his heavy consumption of cocaine and LSD, to the point that he began believing that one of his songs was starting fires around the studio it was recorded at. Things weren't going well around him, either; by that time, the band was suing Capitol Records over royalties and trying to set up their own record label, Brian's brother Carl Wilson was nearly drafted for the Vietnam War, and worst of all, Brian's bandmate and cousin Mike Love came into heated arguments with Brian's lyrical partner Van Dyke Parks over the meaning of such lines as "columnated ruins domino" and "over and over, the crow cries uncover the cornfield", eventually driving Van Dyke Parks into leaving the project behind. By that point, Smile was basically over, and on May 6, the project was officially shelved. (more than 30 years later, Wilson resurrected the thing as a solo album)
  • Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy. 11 years of development, millions of dollars spent, at least 11 musicians involved, and much pressure on getting the album released.
  • While recording Synchronicity in Montserrat, the members of The Police each recorded their parts in different rooms and only overdubbed instruments when just one of them was in the studio at a time because they couldn't stand to be in the same room. Additionally, Sting and Stewart Copeland started a fight while recording "Every Breath You Take", which almost made producer Hugh Padgham walk out.
    • It got even worse when they went back to try to record what would have been their sixth album, where they were going to do new recordings of all their greatest hits (it was released, with only "Don't Stand So Close to Me" updated). According to Andy Summers, one morning, as he expected, Stewart and Sting got into a fight about how to program a Synclavier shortly after they began working. He slipped out and came back seven hours later ... only to find them still having the same exact argument.
  • Happy Mondays' New Sound Album Yes Please! was a production so troubled that it bankrupted the label that financed it, Factory Records. The album went way over budget, members became addicted to crack (while attempting to kick a heroin habit), and a recording session in Barbados resulted in recorded instruments but no vocals (due to the members forgetting to write the lyrics). When the album was released, it was universally panned and failed to sell.
  • Of the two big post-September 11 benefit concerts, "The Concert for New York City" proved a sensation, while "United We Stand: What More Can I Give" in Washington, D.C. proved a debacle. The Daily Show brutally mocked it with the correspondent sent to cover it hoping that the proceeds were going to a charity that could get him several hours of his life back. This Salon article (calling it "The Worst Benefit Concert Ever!") and this kinder MTV article provide the details; among the "highlights" noted:
    • Several billed performers didn't show up, such as Mick Jagger and KISS.
    • Myriad technical difficulties not only interfered with the performances but put the show over three hours behind schedule. (Luckily this show, unlike its N.Y.C. counterpart, wasn't broadcast live.)
    • Mariah Carey's appearance came in the wake of her public breakdown and the flop of Glitter—which her appearance still tried to promote.
    • A few sets were marred by performers' careless use of the American flag as a prop.
    • Top-billed, show-climaxing Michael Jackson (the concert's organizer and one of those careless flag users) lip-synched his way through his one solo number before the grand finale.
  • Starflyer 59's sophomore album, Gold. Prior to recording, "internal tensions" reduced the band's members to Jason Martin, and then the pressure of recording the album all by himself pushed Jason to the verge of a nervous breakdown. As J. Edward Keyes' semi-official biography of the band describes it:

Martin entered the studio with engineer Bob Moon – and wouldn’t emerge again for a month. Not to sleep. Not to visit friends. Not for anything.
Moon’s recollection is vivid. “It was just insane. I remember at one point standing outside the studio with Jason, and hearing him say that it was the first time he’d seen the daylight in seven days.”
“I didn’t leave the Green Room for a month. Period. [...] I was having a semi-breakdown,” he admits. “It was a sick experience.”

  • The creation of Public Image Ltd's third LP, Flowers Of Romance, was plagued with setbacks, most stemming from the departure of Only Sane Man bassist Jah Wobble over monetary disputes, all worsened by Keith Levene's heroin addiction and John Lydon's increasing paranoia. It shows.
  • Michael Jackson's Invincible had over 50 songs recorded for it over four years (the final album had only 16 of them), and the production costs soared to $30 million before it was finally ready in the fall of 2001 under pressure from Sony chief Tommy Mottola. For reference, the album had originally been promised for Christmas 1999. By that point, Jackson was both planning to leave the label over contract disputes and unwilling to do a U.S. tour to support the album. Instead, he staged two Madison Square Garden concerts with fellow artists paying tribute to him as the lead-in to a set that, among other things, reunited him with his brothers for the first time in years that September. Unfortunately, the first concert was plagued by delays between sets, and while the second night went better, it happened to take place on September 10. The Sept. 11 attacks wiped discussion of the shows off of the media's table (save for an Entertainment Weekly cover story by an unimpressed attendee), and when the album arrived at the end of October it didn't sell nearly as well as expected/needed in the wake of mediocre reviews. When Sony decided to stop pushing the album through videos, singles, etc. in early '02, Jackson proceeded to claim they intentionally sabotaged its promotion out of racism.
  • The boys from Canadian band Rush had some of this while making their fifth album Hemispheres as Neil explains this interview. The album would eventually go to Platinum status in the US.
  • Steely Dan's 1980 album Gaucho has one of the more troubled productions in rock music history. For starters, guitarist/songwriter Walter Becker was hit by a car before recording began, and while recovering from leg injuries, developed other infections which further delayed recording. Also, Becker and co-leader Donald Fagen became control freaks in production, demanding dozens of takes from studio musicians and continuous tweaks to already recorded material (the fade-out for "Babylon Sisters" alone took 55 attempts for Becker, Fagen and their longtime producer Roger Nichols to decide on a version they liked). Then, a song called "The Second Arrangement"—which the band had slaved over more than any other track—was accidentally wiped by a recording assistant and eventually had to be scrapped. Lastly after the album had been finally been finished, a three way legal wrangle sprang up between the band's former label (MCA), the label that the band had just signed to and planned to release the album on (ABC/Warner), and the band themselves, who just wanted the darned thing to be released. MCA won out, and released the album for an inflated price exclusively because the band were popular.
    • Fagen and Becker, long-time friends and the only two permanent members of the band, began to grow distant due to Becker's drug use and Fagen's plans on releasing a solo album. Steely Dan broke up under a year after Gaucho's release, with Fagen and Becker not reuniting the band for 15 years.
  • The Kovenant's fabled fifth album, Aria Galactica, has been in Development Hell for nearly a decade.
  • Def Leppard's most successful album, 1987's Hysteria, suffered from an immensely troubled production. They began working on it in late 1983 after completing the tour for their previous album Pyromania without that album's producer (Mutt Lange), aware that they'd likely struggle top a Diamond-certified album. Disaster struck in December 1984 when drummer Rick Allen had a car accident that cost him his left arm, but he was determined to continue playing the drums with one arm and set about learning to play a modified electronic kit. Meanwhile, Executive Meddling resulted in the recruitment of Jim Steinman as producer over the band's objections; when Steinman failed to produce anything meaningful with the group he was sacked, but still had to be paid. Eventually they finished the album with a returning Lange, but it had gone so far over its budget by that point that they barely covered it's costs in spite of selling about three million copies. They didn't catch a break until "Pour Some Sugar On Me" was released as the fourth single and propelled the album back to the top of the charts.
  • Sly & the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On has this trope written all over it. The band was agreed to be on a roll, due to the combined effect of the hit Stand album, their triumphant Woodstock appearance, and the new singles on the hit Greatest Hits album. Behind the scenes things were falling apart. Sly Stone moved from San Francisco to LA, creating physical and personal distance from the others. He and some other members greatly increased their drug intake. The Black Panthers, showing odd priorities, were pressuring Sly to fire drummer Greg Errico and saxophonist Jerry Martini because they were white. Errico did leave around that time, mainly because Sly's use of drum machines and guest musicians was leaving him with little to do. During all this turmoil, song lyrics showed a surprising level of bleakness. The resulting album is remembered as simultaneously one of the group's classics and the beginning of the end for the Family Stone.
  • Foo Fighters' One by One. Probably helped by the band being burned out by years of touring, no one was satisfied with the recordings. Then during a UK minitour, drummer Taylor Hawkins had an overdosis. As he left the hospital, the band rushed back to their Virginia studio, eventually moving to a top-notch LA one... and not only the frustration continued, but tensions were escalating. The band eventually decided to take a break - where, to make it worse, Dave Grohl went touring with Queens of the Stone Age, raising some ire from Hawkins. The band eventually decided they'd at least play the Coachella festival - where the rehearsals were mostly silent until guitarist Chris Shifflet (who was recording his first album with the band) said "Man, is it just me or we can cut the air here with a knife?" and fights broke out. But the concert was done, and since the band enjoyed their performance, they decided to re-record the album from scratch in Virginia during just two weeks. As Dave put out: "This version of 'All of My Life' cost $1 million and sounds like crap. This was recorded in half an hour in my basement and is the biggest fucking song we've ever had!"
  • Perhaps the most morbid example was Mayhem's Magnum Opus, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Back in 1991, before most of the songs were fully written, (initial songwriting began in 1987) lead singer Dead offed himself by hacking his wrists up multiple times before blowing his brains out with a shotgun. Almost immediately after Dead's suicide, stories about guitarist Euronymous taking pictures of the body and even making a stew out of the brain (along with Euronymous's generally poor treatment of Dead when he was alive) had prompted bassist Necrobutcher to leave the band. Mayhem, lacking both a vocalist and a bassist, brought on Attila Cishar and Euronymous's then-friend Varg Vikernes to help finish recording. From the start there were issues with finishing what Dead started. Meanwhile in 1992 Varg and Euronymous were out burning churches along with the rest of the "Black Circle" started by Euronymous. However, tensions soon rose between the duo over both priorities (Euronymous feared Varg was using Mayhem and the Black Circle's crimes to boost Burzum record sales) and politics (Euronymous leaned far to the left, and Varg was even farther to the right). The details of what eventually happened are still disputed but by the end of it Varg had stabbed Euronymous to death in 1993, with recording just finished. He was arrested and sentenced to 21 years in prison for both the murder and the arsons. Drummer Hellhammer was asked by Euronymous's family to remove Varg's bass and redo the parts, but eventually he simply left it in, most likely because he had no idea how to play bass. The album would not be released until 1994 due to the controversy surrounding the murder. (Oh, and their next album? 1995's Dawn of the Black Hearts, an LP with one of Euronymous's postmortem photos of Dead as the cover.)
  • Doctor Who 'trock' band, Chameleon Circuit, experienced a hard time making their two albums. They were forced to release their first album unfinished because their producer left them. Their second album, their new producer, Michael Aranda, was stuck in France for two months, because the boarder officials won't let him go to London. Their second album was number 23 in the US Heat chart.
  • Wings' 1973 Band On The Run album was also troubled. On the eve of the recording of the album, guitarist Henry McCullough and drummer Denny Seiwell leave the band, reducing the group to Paul McCartney, wife Linda, and guitarist/bassist/singer Denny Laine. The three of them decided to record in Lagos, Nigeria, helped by a recommendation from Ginger Baker and feeling that the change in atmosphere and sunny weather would do them good. Except it turned out that Nigeria was in the middle of monsoon season, and was going through violent revolution. The studio, owned by EMI, was a seriously under-equipped 8-track facility with limited microphones and underexperienced engineers. The hotel arrangements were miserable, and engineer Geoff Emerick (an associate from the Beatles days) was freaked out by the Nigerian creepy-crawly and reptilian population (Paul and Linda pranked Geoff by dumping dead spiders in Geoff's studio bed). Moreover, as Paul and Linda were out for a stroll, they were robbed at knifepoint, and (among other possessions) the demos of the songs Paul wrote for the album were stolen from them, meaning Paul had to work from memory and/or write new material in the studio. They only got out with their lives as they were white, and the black thieves felt Paul and Linda would not be able to identify their muggers due to their skin color. On top of that, Paul suffered a bout of sunstroke while going outside for a break, and the band were cornered by a visiting Fela Kuti, who was convinced that Paul had come only to steal African beats and profit from them (Paul had to play back what Wings had recorded to Kuti to prove it untrue). The album was finished in England by transferring the Lagos recordings to 16-track for horns, strings and overdubs.
  • Garbage's Bleed Like Me. The first sessions were mostly fruitless and lead the bandmembers to fight each other. After a four month breakup, they decided to resume recording with an outside producer, John King - who was eventually ditched for the band to finish themselves, though one of his tracks is on the final album. The thing still burned the group so much the album's tour was cut short and the band entered a hiatus afterwards, only playing together again two years later. The band blamed new label Geffen for the bad vibes - singer Shirley Manson declared that “We got dumped on a label who did not give one flying fuck about us. And it just became a very joyless process. Something that should be really incredible, exciting and adventurous became like a noose around our neck. And we sort of turned in on each other as a result, I think.”
  • "Rock Me Tonite", the music video that killed Billy Squier's career, fits this trope. According to the Wikipedia article, he had come up on his own with a concept whereby he and some fans would be shown, in grainy film and subdued colors like American Gigolo, getting ready for a concert and then going to it. The first director he approached, the guy who'd done "Beat It", was willing to do it but only if he got a bigger budget, and as he knew Squier's label, Capitol, would likely not give him that much money, he turned it down. The second director had his own concept which Squier didn't like. So, with two weeks to go till the World Premiere Video date they promised MTV, and his tour coming up, they were receptive when Kenny Ortega offered to do it. Squier was too nice a guy to refuse to do the video when he saw the set, or tell MTV to wait, or reject the whole thing and do another video. But if he had been, we'd have been spared the spectacle of him prancing around the bedroom set, rolling around on the satin sheets and tearing off a pink tank top. Everyone thought he was gay, and he stopped selling out shows.


  • Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, The Musical take on the comic book, had a hard time just getting to its preview period on Broadway...whereupon It Got Worse due to seemingly endless injuries to its performers, inspiring parodies on Conan, snarky coverage by The Onion A.V. Club, and even an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. With a $75 million budget, it would have had to sell out for five years to break even. The preview period kept getting extended, and finally theater critics had enough and wrote/ran reviews of the February 7, 2011 performance (which, had it not been pushed back again, was supposed to be the official opening date)... most of which were scathing. In response, the producers (finally!) panicked and brought in script doctors, along with having Bono and The Edge write new music. Director (and famous prima donna) Julie Taymor refused to go along with the changes and was either fired or quit. It finally opened on June 2011.
    • The troubles didn't stop there. Taymor filed suit against the producers and Bono and Edge, claiming not that she was unjustly fired but that they used her rewrites after they did, without giving her credit. By the time the show closed in 2014, six members of the cast and crew had suffered injuries, some nearly life-threatening. It was subject to a veritable tidal wave of parodies and satires in the pop culture. It never received more than mediocre reviews. And despite at times astounding box office receipts (it sometimes raked in over a million dollars in a week), it apparently never did break even.

Video Games

  • Action 52 is a peculiar case. All 52 games were shoved out over the course of three months, the programmers contracted to work on the thing (who were reportedly college students at the time according to a number of sources) having no real schedule to speak of. Combined with misguided marketing and pie-in-the-sky hubris far exceeding the producers' actual talents, the results speak for themselves.
  • Aliens: Colonial Marines was rife with various issues over its production. This ranged from Development Hell and Gearbox Software's utter mismanagement of the game's development (which also included outsourcing the game to various other developers before sloppily putting the final touches) to accusations of embezzlement and Gearbox's Randy Pitchford blaming gamers for not liking the game. It comes as little surprise that the final product looks nothing like what was promised in previews.
  • Daikatana, as chronicled in Knee Deep in a Dream. First, Ion Storm had some internal warring because the Daikatana team felt the development of Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3 was stealing resources and staff. Then, they tried to move from the old Quake engine to the Quake II one, a process much more complicated and time-consuming than they thought. During the development of the game, the staff changed completely three times and the game ended up delayed so much that when it came out, it was already outdated. The resulting product ended up being a complete bust and pretty much ended the fame and career of the then-fledging John Romero.
  • Similar issues came up as some of the reasons behind Duke Nukem Forever's infamous development, and instead of ruining a single man's career, the issues demolished DNF's development staff. The fourteen-year development hell that ensued was due to switching engines, 3D Realms founder George Broussard publicly insulting DNF's publisher, tons of changes beyond engine switches that would necessitate restarting the entire project, and more. DNF is truly spectacular, in that its production was so troubled that the staff had nothing worth publicly showing aside from a couple of screenshots. In the end, Gearbox Software took over production, and suddenly revealed the game would come out. Gearbox took the code and levels that 3D Realms had "finished"—which were largely conceptual and unrelated—and, in one year, completed the project that 3D Realms couldn't in fourteen.
  • Tattoo Assassins, Data East's (specifically, developed by the US-based Data East Pinball, now known as Stern Pinball) Mortal Kombat clone is definitely this. This site very much tells the story behind the troubled development of the game.
  • Jurassic Park: Trespasser: As explained in an online feature or this video about this infamous botched 1996 FPS, Trespasser had a host of design and logistical problems that caused its design team to severely scale it back from their initial goals. An ambitious plan to have friendly and hostile dinosaurs that reacted to you through a groundbreaking AI system was largely abandoned because the creatures couldn't decide what mood to pick (the AI was set to maximum hostility as a quick fix). The melee weapons didn't work (so they had all their mass removed, making almost all of them useless), textures were largely scaled back because of compatibility issues and there were serious issues with the game's physics system. A botched licensing deal (they couldn't use John Williams iconic music in the game, so they had to create their own), mismanagement between the game's design team, and a continuously-delayed release caused the game to be dead on arrival, and it was quickly forgotten.
  • Metroid Prime. Not counting that producer Shigeru Miyamoto asked to throw out basically everything during early stages, at a certain point, the Japanese crew was spending most of their year in America overseeing the game and Retro's staff was pulling all-nighters, working 80–100 hours a week neglecting family and nourishing on atomic fireball candy (a total of 72 gallons of them among the staff).
  • Splinter Cell: Conviction: It took almost four years from the time the game was announced (via an internal leak of images from the game in mid-2006) to its release because of several major gameplay shifts, including a halfway-finished product that was essentially thrown out midway through production. The original game, helmed by Ubisoft Montreal, featured Sam Fisher (now on the run from Third Echelon) as some type of homeless drifter sporting a beard, hoodie and makeshift weapons and devices, and the gameplay was intended to be a sandbox-type shooter where Sam would investigate various locales to get information (and memories) about his daughter. The game was seen as a serious departure from the franchise, and Ubisoft canned it midway through development over negative fan reaction and claims that its gameplay was too similar to the original Assassin's Creed. Several features were unceremoniously thrown out (including several abilities that enabled Sam to blend into his environment, move objects around and fight hand-to-hand against enemies), and the game's entire structure was revamped. Conviction would eventually be released in early 2010.
  • Gex, as discussed by one of the programmer here. The development team was inexperienced, overworked to the point of doing 12 to 16 hours a day, understaffed and rushed to finish the game for Christmas. A lot of content was cut due to time and manpower constraints, and the Lead Designer was fired after hiding an insulting message that included an employee's actual phone number.
  • The infamous E.T. The Extraterrestrial for the Atari 2600, which was so rushed that it ended up to be made just in six weeks. Considering that it was made basically by a single person, Howard Scott Warsaw, and that programming for 2600 was notoriously idiosyncratic, it's actually a minor miracle that the game is playable at all. The game was enormously hyped by the Atari's marketing department, so when it turned out to be So Okay It's Average, the failed hopes of the gamers led it to be an enormous flop and to its (somewhat undeserved) reputation of both being So Bad It's Horrible and almost singlehandedly causing The Great Video Game Crash of 1983.
  • Atari's home port of Pac-Man was supposedly the demo version, made with great difficulty over six weeks due to the differences in underlying hardware. When the developer showed it to the suits, they said "OK, we're shipping this." It did well on the strength of the title but took a pounding in the media.
  • The Sega Saturn game Sonic X-Treme is perhaps the most tragic example of all, as unlike the other examples here, the game was never finished. The problems started when the design team decided to use the NIGHTS engine for the game, but Yuji Naka would have none of it and forbade them from using the engine, setting the developers back several weeks, then the publishers decided that they wanted to use the engine in the boss battles for the whole game, causing further delays, Chris Senn ended up doing most of the work himself, tirelessly working 20 hours a day until doctors told him he had 6 months to live, he then realized that there was no chance of finishing the game before the holiday season, so there was no choice but to pull the plug on the game.
  • L.A. Noire completely destroyed Team Bondi due to the lead designer having serious rage issues and treating it like his Magnum Opus. In order to get the game back on budget, they hired and chewed up nearly every budding game programmer and artist in Sydney and they were so hostile that publisher Rockstar publicly swore off ever working with them again.
  • Two developers claims this happened to the infamous Last Action Hero licensed game. After the planning stage, word from a lawyer came that Arnold Schwarzenegger did not want to be "associated with violence" due to his then-recent involvement in family-friendly comedies, and that the game could not feature him using firearms, completely ruining the original concept. This lead to the game being hastily retooled as the deadline was fixed with no chance for extension. Communications with the legal department was exceptionally slow, leading to the developers being clueless on even basic questions such as whether or not Arnold's character could punch, and the development of the PC version was ground to an halt after the graphic artist refused to do work because of an unrelated payment issue with the publisher.
  • The Sega Saturn game for Magic Knight Rayearth was initially listed as one of the first games for the system. It didn't show up until six months after support for the system came to an end. What caused this game from Working Designs to fall this far down? Numerous problems, including:
    • The usual need to translate and dub the voice bits from Japanese to English.
    • The computer holding the data for the game crashing, forcing them to rebuild pieces of it.
    • A fight between WD and Sega over what to name the main heroines (Sega had realized Rayearth was a good enough series to franchise to the States. However, as it was common at the time, they wanted to give them English names. Both Sega and WD had different names for the girls before they both threw their arms into the air and left them Hikaru, Umi and Fuu.)
    • And after it was all done, hen Sega head honcho Bernie Stolar's draconian policy against third party developers kicked in, leaving them high and dry until the Saturn was dead in the water.
  • The development of the partially crowdfunded Star Citizen project (which Chris Roberts of Wing Commander fame is closely involved in) is among the most contested in recent years, with all sorts of drama and controversy surrounding it (and that's about as neutral as one can say about it). Whichever camp one is regarding the matter however, time will tell what the final results will bring.
    • Game Over. The project suffered the most ludicrous mission creep possible. Then they stopped publishing its status, but changed ToS so that there will no refunds any more. After that, you can as well throw money into a wishing well.
  • Vendetta: Curse of Raven's Cry (formerly known simply as Raven's Cry) encountered several troubles over its years-long Development Hell, including being shuffled among various developers and publishers over its production. By the time it was finally released in 2015, it was rife with bugs and unpolished if not incomplete content, which its Updated Rerelease that same year never ever corrects.

Web Original

  • Every That Guy With The Glasses anniversary Massive Multiplayer Crossovers. Every one of them. The extent on how troubled they actually were was only known during the downfall of the revelations in the famous "Not So Awesome" document created by ex-members of Channel Awesome, and it could be resumed in two tropes: No OSHA Compliance and Pointy-Haired Boss.
    • The First Anniversary Brawl didn't really have any true filming troubles, but the camaraderie that it would be shown in later collaborations hadn't been developed yet, and it shows. More notorious were the behind the scenes troubles: as some collaborators later told, the ambient was quite toxic, mostly because a member of the group (implied to be That Aussie Guy, who would later abandon the site and got Unpersoned) spread untrue rumors about the sexual life of Lindsay Ellis/The Nostalgia Chick.
    • Kickassia. Almost everyone involved was injured somehow, the worst being cameraman Rob Walker getting a nasty leg injury on the first day, but he was still quite a Determinator as he kept cramming himself into tight places and waiting until filming was over to seek any medical attention. Also, Lord Kat twisted both his ankles, which forced his role to be severely reduced, and the extremely tight four day filming schedule meant that the climax had to be significantly trimmed down, with scenes like Spoony revealing himself to still be Insano never being filmed. Doug Walker was basically a Know-Nothing Know-It-All on filming issues, with him having to be informed by both Ellis and Antwiler that when you are filming in Nevada's desert you have to provide food and water to all the staff, a thing every filming student knows but the Walkers apparently ignored.
    • Suburban Knights was even worse, with the weather causing so many problems that Doug Walker was fully prepared to scrap the whole thing, until everyone banded together and convinced him they were willing to get the film done whatever it took. Injures were still an issue as in Kickassia, with Bennett the Sage, Iron Liz and Orlando having stunt injuries; meanwhile, Elisa of Team NChick was duct taped to a wall, was left alone a bit too long and got overheated. Somehow this got interpreted as that she was "crucified upside-down", and when news came of this before the premiere of the special, one of the site's biggest critics used this info to try and ruin TGWTG. While at the time this denounce went nowhere, after later revelations (like how Iron Liz was denied ice for her injuries until she signed a contract absolving TGWTG of responsibility on it, and then was roped into being production assistant and driver without credit nor compensation) it would be yield as yet another proof of the rampant disregard for the well-being of the contributors by the directive.
    • To Boldly Flee, the Year 4 special, was so troubled and the production was so horrible, whatever camaraderie was remaining between producers ended then and there. To begin with , it had a very rushed and constrained scheduled (about a week to film enough content for a three hours film), during which Doug Walker was in a yet another depressive mood and got very emotional on his scenes. Because of that, injuries went up rampant. Many contributors were forced to cover the costs of their own costuming and props, and in some cases, like with MarzGurl, the directives tried to directly force them to hand them to the company if they wanted compensation (she prefer to conserve it, at a personal loss). Oh, and the reason Walker was so emotional on his scenes? It was because he was using the film as a send-off of his Nostalgia Critic character, a thing he didn't bother to inform the other reviewers until he handed them the script mere days before the filming. Given that, at the time, the Nostalgia Critic was the main drawn to the site and the contributors were more or less unable/prohibited to built their audience elsewhere, they were comprehensively apprehensive. There was also an infight between Walker, Ellis, and Lewis Lovhaug on the scene of Nostalgia Chick being assimilated by Mechakara being written as a very long and very uncomfortable rape joke, with the latter two considering it distasteful and OOC respectively (in the final film the scene remains in a toned down form). The hostility only increased when Ed Glaser tried to point a blatant violation of basic filming and was disproportionately chew off in response, and whenever the contributors tried to point continuity errors or failure in the camera work, Rob Walkers only answered "Well, Plot Hole" (as in the McGuffin of the film). In top of the production being insanely troubled, the post-production was even more so, with the special effects insertion and edition taking more time than expected (mainly due to the contradictory specs and direction Phelous, the only one remaining to do them, kept receiving), and then the servers refusing to upload the files, having to show the episodes each two days instead of daily as originally announced. Retrospectively speaking, the mismanagement of this production marked the point of no return for the company, as most of the worse incidents denounced in the Not So Awesome document happened during this production or were consequence of those.
    • Because of all of the above troubles, for the fifth anniversary it was decided that they would instead do an Anthology project. The resultant effort was The Uncanny Valley, where the individual pieces had little production troubles by themselves. Behind the scenes, the directive demanded to the contributors to hand shorts with only "exposure" as the payment,; naturally, most of them refused, and the ones who complied were the British team, who at the time were the least popular of the site. In front of the public, the only problems were that some segments were uploaded sightly late, and the perception that Welshy's contribution, a mini-documentary called "The Dark Side of Internet" about Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things because of over-possessive fans trolling and stalking creators, was obviously inspired by his dealing with his Fan Dumb and the subsequent burnout he experienced, not helped by him leaving Internet for a while after its release. This anthology was the last site-wide anniversary special since then.
    • And then, when the site was beginning to do plans for another Massive Multiplayer Crossover in celebration of its 10th anniversary, the scandal known as the Channel Awesome Implosion happened, where former and then current contributors began to speak and compare stories on their mistreatment on hands of the directives of the company, culminating on the revelation that some directives and at least one contributor were guilty of sexual abuse and subsequently covered up. This was the last straw for most of the contributors, who jumped ship like peasants fleeing the Black Plague.
  • On a smaller scale, the big crossover review between The Nostalgia Critic, Spoony and Linkara for Alone in the Dark. To begin with, Doug Walker had lost his voice the day before Spoony and Linkara arrived in Chicago (hence the use of text-to-speech). Secondly, construction work was being done outside Doug's house, so they had to film the review in Doug's basement. In addition, they didn't decide which Uwe Boll movie to review until the day they started writing. Spoony gives the scoop here.

Western Animation

  • The 90's Incredible Hulk Animated Adaptation is this according to the original producer.
  • Disney and Pixar have had several of these:
    • The very first Toy Story was subject to constant Executive Meddling, pushing to make it more adult and cynical. When a preview cut was declared unwatchable, production was shut down for two weeks, while Lasseter and the others basically rewrote the entire movie.
    • The Emperors New Groove started as Kingdom of the Sun, a Prince and Pauper epic directed by The Lion King's co-director Roger Allers. Since the writers weren't very successful in adding original material and test audiences weren't reacting well, another director, Mark Dindal, was hired to see if things evolved. As the deadline got closer and Allers and Dindal were basically working at two movies simultaneously (the former with a drama, and the latter with a comedy), the higher-ups intervened and Allers quit. After a six-month interval where Dindal and some writers reworked the movie, the film became the screwball comedy that eventually saw the light of day. It was all documented in The Sweatbox, a film shot by Trudie Styler (as her husband Sting wrote songs for the movie) that Disney makes sure that never gets released.
    • Ratatouille was originally developed in 2001 by Jan Pinkava, but Pixar lost faith in Pinkava and ultimately replaced him with Brad Bird.
    • Bolt suffered from this in spades. The film was originally helmed by Lilo and Stitch director Chris Sanders, who wanted to make another quirky animated family film. To that end, he envisioned American Dog, which followed a popular television star dog named Henry who (after being knocked out and waking up on a train to Nevada) enlists the help of two other talking animals, including a cat and oversized bunny rabbit, to drive him back home (while believing he's still in a television show). The film went through several different cuts (and suggestions from John Lasseter and other Pixar directors on how to improve the film), but Sanders reportedly rejected all of the changes. Lasseter then fired Sanders from the project, and the film was drastically reworked (under a constrained timeframe) into the final product. Tellingly, American Dog is not mentioned anywhere on the film's DVD features, and only receives a passing reference in the making-of book The Art of Bolt.
  • The film version of Astro Boy managed to go through no less than three different directors, several different writers and a budget that spiraled out of control due to constant production delays. The bottom fell out when the film's production company went bankrupt a few months before opening. The final product manages to show the chaotic production with its unevenness and lack of direction in terms of plot.
  • Family Dog, a Steven Spielberg produced animated spin-off of Amazing Stories didn't debut until 1992 seven years after the original "Family Dog" episode of Amazing Stories had aired. Only five episodes of the finished product aired.
  • The CGI filim Foodfight, a production of Threshold Entertainment and directed by Lawrence Kasanoff[4], is a peculiar case in which its Troubled Production is more fascinating than the movie itself. Originally slated for a Christmas 2003 release and reaching a budget of $45 Million, it faced several setbacks and issues, forcing the studio to constantly postpone the film's release.[5] The movie eventually did see a mainly Direct to DVD release in 2012, the final product being an utter trainwreck to the surprise of no one.
  • The Emoji Movie, a CGI film released in 2017, is a peculiar case as its production coincided with, though not directly responsible for the cancellation of Genndy Tartakovsky's planned Popeye movie, itself a victim of Executive Meddling prior to its end. The film in question, already one of the worst animated movies of the year upon release, has also gained notoriety for being a virtual "perfect storm" example of poor and shoddy corporate decision making. This is complete with rushed development and its own share of controversy prior to its release, be it questionable marketing or excessively politicized PR. To say nothing of the scorn heaped upon it even before the movie was finished.



  • A 2011 commercial for the Citi card is told from the perspective of a makeup artist working on a film. This trope seems to be in play if the lead's cell phone going off, rain delay, and demand for a bigger explosion are any indication.

I thought we'd be on location for three days. It's been three weeks.



  • Paranoia Agent: the production of an anime series is increasingly troubled by Executive Meddling, staff infighting, deadlines approaching, supernatural bad vibes everywhere, and the sociopath killing everybody related to the production.
  • The school film directed by Haruhi Suzumiya. Among the things going wrong are a cast of amateur school kids doubling as equally inexperienced filming staff, the main actress developing eye powers, doves changing colors, a cat gaining sentience and speech, and Haruhi taking her usual self to higher levers of jerkassery. That they had an actual video at the end of such a disaster of a filming to exhibit at the school festival was a little miracle by itself.


  • Tropic Thunder parodies this phenomenon, with specific jabs at Apocalypse Now.
  • A fictional example can be found in Werner Herzog's Incident at Loch Ness. To give any details would be ruining it.
    • As the folder for real examples above shows, it is inspired by Herzog's actual career.
  • Living In Oblivion is a nineties independent flick in which Steve Buscemi plays the role of a director in a nineties independent flick where everything goes wrong. The movie itself is supposedly based on the director's experience while working on a Brad Pitt movie called Johnny Suede.
  • The film within the film for Singin in The Rain (The Dueling Cavalier) experienced severe troubled production due to the transition from silent to talkie pictures; the crew was too inexperienced to realize that every sound could be recorded and the actors were unable to adjust to the idea of speaking into microphones, leading the film to be laughed off by audiences at its first screening. This lead to the film being retooled into a campy musical called The Dancing Cavalier and a complete dub of the female lead's voice.
  • At one point in Walk Hard, Dewey Cox (under the influence of a number of drugs) attempts to create his bizarre masterpiece "Black Sheep" (a clear parody of the above mentioned Brian Wilson song "Smile"), which leads to the band and his wife to break up with him and his inevitable drug fueled rampage through the city in nothing but his underwear.

I need ten thousand didgeridoos!

  • Shadow of the Vampire fictionalizes the production of Nosferatu highlighting the disagreements between stars and producers, director and crew, and an actual vampire.
  • Irreconcilable Differences is mainly about young Drew Barrymore divorcing her parents, but the best parts involve Ryan O'Neal's hilariously overblown Gone with the Wind clone spinning out of control.
  • The film-within-a-film of Scream 3, based on the 'real-life' Woodsboro murders, is quickly shut down when Ghostface starts targetting the cast.


Live Action TV

  • Slings and Arrows has one of these every year. The first two turn out well; the third one ends with the lead actor dying and everyone else involved in the production being fired.
  • Part one of the Young Indiana Jones movie The Hollywood Follies revolves around Indy engaging in a battle of wits with Real Life primadonna director Erich von Stroheim over Foolish Wives.
  • Pretty much any of Vincent Chase's movies on Entourage (Smokejumpers, Aquaman, Medellin... pretty much all except Gatsby) fall victim to this trope.
  • The Community episode "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux" depicts the Dean trying to film a 30-second ad for the college and slowly driving himself and all the other characters to madness. The episode is shot as Abed's documentary, which explicitly described as the Hearts of Darkness to the Dean's Apocalypse Now.


  • The Producers, when they weren't troubling their own production, were overjoyed with the 'bad luck' that struck it, until the worst disaster: audiences loved "Springtime for Hitler".
  • The play being performed in Curtains! is one big screwed-up mess, thanks to a lot of back-stage drama, an entire number being badly-choreographed, the lead actress giving a terrible performance, and a whole lot of murders happening. Fortunately, the detective investigating said murders is a Promoted Fanboy who puts just as much time into improving the quality of the play.

Video Games

  • In Fallout 4, you discover that Hubris Comics was trying to make the Silver Shroud radio serials into a successful TV show. Unfortunately, it was rife with infighting, drama, and backroom passions - which proved to be all for naught as the nuclear apocalypse put said show and its creators off the air permanently.

Web Original

  • The crappy student film Marble Hornets was called off due to "unworkable conditions," with the director getting increasingly hysterical and paranoid. Later analysis would reveal that in this case, "unworkable conditions" means "driven to near-insanity by the constant presence of a creepy guy with no face."

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons while filming the Radioactive Man movie.
  • The Animaniacs episode "Hearts of Twilight", yet another Apocalypse Now spoof.
  • Metalocalypse: Every single in-universe album during the show's run. The first is done underwater in an attempt to sound as "analog" as possible, deafening the producer. But the biggest example of this trope is the second album: the band procrastinated big time getting it out, causing mass panic. When they finally got to it, Nathan demanded to perform in a suit of armor that made recording difficult, Pickles was starved while everyone else ate, Toki and Murderface produced their own song which, due to how bizarre it was, failed to even make it on the album and to top it all off, Guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf was forced by feedback to do his guitar parts skydiving, and thanks to Toki deleting the parts, they did it twice.
  • An episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo? revolved around director Vincent Wong's attempt to make a re-make of a cheesy spy movie Spy Me A River. Besides the lead actor quitting halfway through, no one reading the script, Mystery Inc. being used as stunt doubles, and a Classically-Trained Extra with eyes on the lead role, the production was haunted by the Faceless Phantom who turned out to be the director who wanted to sabotage the film after realising how awful it was.
  • The Wacky Deli episode of Rocko's Modern Life, in addition to being a parodic take on the creation of an animated show, has the titular show being one complete mess from beginning to end.
  1. Nagano won and they still seem to be Happily Married.
  2. Nagano routinely hated Tomino's style and the direction where he was taking the show, up to the point that The Five Star Stories basically started as his Start My Own towards their other collaboration, Heavy Metal L-Gaim.
  3. Patricia Ja Lee's contract stated that, playing as a main character, she had to get top billing in the credits instead of as a guest of some sort. However, Saban was reluctant due to the fact that they weren't sure about Valerie Vernon's fate and were forced to back down.
  4. The producer of, among others, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
  5. In fact, the original animation files even went missing in what's claimed to be an act of "corporate espionage."