People Share The Biggest Successes that Definitely Should Have Failed, But Didn't.

We've all heard stories of genius ideas never coming to fruition, but what about all the things that we thought never had a chance and ended up being a huge success?

Here are thirty eight cases of things succeeding against all odds.

Many thanks to the Reddit user who posed this question and to those who responded. You can check out more answers from the source at the end of this article!


1/38. Donald Trump presidential run.

RedEyedChile


2/38. The Guardians of the Galaxy movie. To begin with, you're making a comic book movie about a super hero team that even comic fans were for the most part only vaguely familiar with.

First, get a star who hasn't actually stared in any movies and is really mostly known as the goofy guy from a prime time sitcom.

Then you land one of the largest action stars ever, and have him voice a CGI tree who can only say 3 words.

It's okay though, you've got one of the best looking guys in Hollywood coming off the monster Hangover series. But you have him voice a CGI raccoon.

Then, let's put together a soundtrack that's mostly B sides or 1 time hits that no one in your target audience has even heard and haven't been popular in years.

Finally, let's hand all this to a director who's never done a blockbuster film. Hell, who's never done a big theatrical release even (I mean, Slither? C'mon). Maybe, just maaaybe, this makes its money back. I guess super slim chance it could even be profitable.

$773 million worldwide, #1 album for the soundtrack, and the merchandising has made more than the GNP of some small countries. Unbelievable.

geekinccomics


3/38. The VW Beetle was just right for post-war Germany, but America? Land of the chrome-plated V8 freeway cruiser? There's no way it should have become as popular as it did. But within a decade of its US introduction it was a bona fide cultural icon that was sold well into the seventies.

JournalofFailure


4/38. The little parasol in drinks.

'You know what this cocktail is missing?'

'No, what's that Jeff?'

'A little paper umbrella, it would class this right up!'.

liesbuiltuponlies


5/38. The creator of the carabiner had a US patent on carabiners and choose to have sole rights to produce and sell them. Then a French company came along, ripped off his patent, and started selling them (unlicensed) for cheaper, driving business away from the inventor's company.

Instead of suing and going though a lengthy, international court battle that would likely cost him millions. He made a simple choice to bring back customers who were buying his competitor's cheaper products:

(c0ntinued...)



He increased the price of his original carabiners.

This should have alerted his business partners that he had gone insane but instead he used a very clever marketing technique. He advertised his carabiners as far superior in quality to the "cheaper" French carabiners. And when you're climbing mountains and putting your life in the hands of your equipment, you really don't want to be risking your life on a little metal hook that might be of inferior quality. In the end, sales poured back to his company and with the increased price of his products, the company raked in even more money.

ZypherMyth


6/38. "Hamilton." Really, a hip-hop musical about the first Treasury Secretary of the United States? With a song about state debts? It'll open and close the same night.

cabridges


7/38. The Lego Movie. Sounds like a 90-minute long cynical toy commercial, right?

In reality it was a genuinely fantastic film, and everyone was really disappointed that it didn't win an Oscar.

PatchworkAndCo


8/38. Wikipedia. Anyone online can edit this! It's going to be a trash heap.

Instead, it's become the most successful tool for middle school homework.

BookAnnelida


9/38. Federal Express. Fred Smith actually submitted the concept as a college term paper, and got a D on it.

He decided to prove the professor was wrong.

NESysAdmin


10/38. Ticketmaster. "Nobody's going to pay a 100% service charge, AND a convenience fee!"

Turns out plenty of people did and do.

dottmatrix


11/38. Pet Rocks.

Not surprising it looks bad on paper though, everybody knows paper defeats rock.

Allisade


12/38. How cards against humanity charged more on black Friday and sold even better. I still don't get it.

saluja13

13/38. Star Wars ( the very first one )

Pretty much every member of the cast had zero faith that it would amount to anything during production.

ffs_lemme_in


14/38. Bottled water, in places with clean running water already.

lguard123


15/38. A Supreme box logo hoodie, they are just a plain hoody with a rectangle in the middle saying Supreme and they are currently reselling for 300-400

ChuckEnderton


16/38. Snapchat. When someone first explained the concept, I thought "can't you already send a picture and video through text"

tylergenis


17/38. James Cameron's Titanic. At the time, the fact that this - a movie not based on an existing property, a downer of a story and one that by nature couldn't have a sequel - was the most expensive film of all time was insane to people.

Prior to release, everyone was ready for it to fail miserably or, at best, barely make its money back. The media, the studio, and even James Cameron, as he gave up his salary and percentage points during production (although he was still handsomely compensated in the end). No one expected it to print money the way it did. 12 years later, Avatar defied the odds to a lesser extent (no one expected it to eventually make more than USD 2.5 billion worldwide), but by then people knew not to bet against Cameron. Titanic's astronomic success through repeat business just blindsided people.

Krelian1212


17/38. James Cameron's Titanic. At the time, the fact that this - a movie not based on an existing property, a downer of a story and one that by nature couldn't have a sequel - was the most expensive film of all time was insane to people.

Prior to release, everyone was ready for it to fail miserably or, at best, barely make its money back. The media, the studio, and even James Cameron, as he gave up his salary and percentage points during production (although he was still handsomely compensated in the end). No one expected it to print money the way it did. 12 years later, Avatar defied the odds to a lesser extent (no one expected it to eventually make more than USD 2.5 billion worldwide), but by then people knew not to bet against Cameron. Titanic's astronomic success through repeat business just blindsided people.

Krelian1212


18/38. When someone first told me about E-books they were pitching them as scanned in copies of existing books that you could download to your computer and print out if you wanted to. This was 2007 and I told that person they were insane if they thought college students would give up the ability to highlight, note and save pages in physical books; not to mention reselling them.

Yeah, the Kindle and Nook and increased functionality of phones made me look dumb.

BromanJenkins


19/38. The VW Beetle was just right for post-war Germany, but America? Land of the chrome-plated V8 freeway cruiser? There's no way it should have become as popular as it did. But within a decade of its US introduction it was a bona fide cultural icon that was sold well into the seventies.

JournalofFailure

20/38. Crocs. Hey, lets make foam shoes with holes all over them!

TheOtherNamesTaken


21/38. I thought Facebook sounded ridiculous when I first heard of it. I didn't think enough people would be egotistical enough to put hundreds of photos of themself online, and that no-one would want to see them. I was wrong.

Akaed


22/38. Zootopia

Let's make a movie that takes a serious look at modern race relations, throw in some talking animals, and market it to kids! And the funniest scene will involve a sloth slowly laughing at a joke!

sweetcuppingcakes


23/38. A relatively unknown director filming three movies at once on a total budget of less than 300 million, using new technology and practical effects to simulate a huge immersive fantasy world, in a country and with a special effects studio not yet known for successful Hollywood filmmaking?

On paper it sounds like a trainwreck waiting to happen and some edgy kid director's idea of making a splash on the Hollywood scene. Back to Back filming has had mixed success (and I am not including films that were later split in two) for pretty obvious reasons. Filming one film successfully requires a lot of tight organization, cohesion, and a good team. Two simultaneous films makes that job three times harder because not only do you need double the organization, cohesion, and a larger team (which makes the former two more difficult), but you need to bridge that quality between the two films. Three films was never done until Lord of the Rings.

Lemon_Invader


24/38. Twitter being a thing still shocks me.

Kooriki


25/38. Ethernet

A memo written to Bob Metcalfe and Dave Boggs back in 1974, describing why their proposed Ethernet networking scheme was a technical disaster.

fast forward: You are likely using Ethernet to read this now.

randombits


26/38. Leather wrapped rock for $85. Sold out completely from Nordstrom.

marshn07

27/38. The "Chunnel." Before it was built, many said it would never succeed, yet they were proven wrong.

The Channel Tunnel (a 50.5-kilometre rail tunnel) linking Folkestone, Kent, in the UK with Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais, near Calais in northern France, beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover.

Back2Bach


28/38. Leicester City's 2015/2016 Premier League campaign... followed by their 2016/2017 Champions League campaign, they're still going.

VTCHannibal


29/38. The MCU shared universe. I can't imagine how anyone managed to pitch this:

B-Level characters

Movies with A-level Marvel characters were very hit and miss

Initial solo movies that are largely just setups

Gambling that these all-but-prequels get enough attention to make it to The Avengers

The increasing necessity to juggle a huge cast which only grows over time

A basically bland aesthetic

A talking raccoon

EnterprisingAs


30/38. Potato mail. Seriously. The guy who launched the original company asked his family and friends for loans to get it started, none gave him any. Now he's worth millions, cos people like sending potatoes through the post with a message written on them.

Karmakomodo


31/38. I'm saying this as a really big fan. Eddie Izzard's career.

Firstly, he was in his mid 30s when he really made it as a stand up comedian in the UK, not some young kid riffing on how annoying their dad is or bad drinking stories.

Instead of just going for the money like a lot of big comedy players do, going through the same jokes again and again, he's toured literally everywhere in the globe. His last tour he did shows in 28 different countries, including a complete tour of the United States and Europe. And he did it in English, French, German.

His humour is of an intellectual bent, (in this day and age? :O) avoiding any cliched subjects, instead talking about lots of subjects from history, science, religion, and a lot of the time he'll put bits in his shows in other languages to applause and standing ovations, playing everything from little clubs to stadiums.

He's 56 now, he's acted on stage, film and tv, ran 27 marathons in 27 days earlier this year, and is planning to run for mayor of London in 2020.

Oh yeah, and he cross-dresses. Now I don't know about the rest of the world but this guy just completely went out there, in utter confidence and it could have crashed and burnt so badly. Were people ready for him? Obviously we think so now, but just at the beginning of Eddie's career there wasn't a huge amount of famous people who cross-dressed who you could point to and say that they did alright.

Everything about this guy sounds made up and like it would never work.

vonsnape


32/38. The American Revolution.

Most-Obvious-Comment

33/38. Chia pets. I still don't understand why they got popular.

LonelyTimeTraveller


34/38. Baseball

Essentially you have seven guys standing around a grassy knoll watching one guy flail away at curving balls. Every so often he'll hit it but usually it's foul. You're left with a few minutes of action spread out over three hours while the vast majority of the game is just waiting for your turn to bat or maybe catch a ball.

laterdude


35/38. AirBnB: you have to trust strangers in your house while you're gone.

42charles


36/38. Minecraft. It has an artstyle that lots of people find pretty rough. It is very light in gameplay, focusing more on creative aspects. It isn't on Steam. It doesn't do discounts, and actually gradually raised its price. It is written in Java with all the baggage that goes along with it. Notch took quite a lot of time off during development (not that there is anything wrong with that, but it just goes against the narrative).

If any other game dev were to emulate Minecraft, they'd fail badly. And yet, Minecraft is among the most successful games ever made.

ledat


37/38. Bob Dylan's career as a singer. Songwriter, sure, but singer?

denalunham


38/38. I read a story about a guy who bought two lottery tickets. The obvious strategy in this case would be to play two different sets of numbers between the two tickets. That would double your chances of winning.

This guy played the same numbers on both tickets.

It turned out that he had the winning numbers, and he owned two of the 3 winning tickets for that drawing. Therefore he won two thirds of the jackpot instead of just one half.

Midnight_Ran


Source.

Westend61/Getty Images

When you're a kid most adults will tell you one thing or another is "cool" and "fun." Odds are you're too young to form any kind of opinion on the matter one way or another. You're a kid, right? You don't know what you're eating for breakfast. However, when you get older and form that larger worldview, you realize that yeah, maybe that one time when you were a kid actually wasn't fun.

These are those stories.

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