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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Power Grid

The 10 Most Successful Failures in Geekdom


Allow Us To Explain

Allow Us To Explain

There’s a concept on TV Tropes called Fridge Logic, which is what you call it when something totally makes sense at the time you were reading or watching it, but at some point after the viewing, maybe while you were idly staring into the fridge thinking of not much in particular, you realized that there was something fundamentally wrong with it. Sometimes it’s a plot hole, but sometimes it’s more subtle.

See, all the characters seemed super excited that they’d saved the day, and, carried away by acting and a strong orchestral score, you felt pretty good about it, too.

At least you did until now. Now you can’t remember why it seemed like they’d accomplished much of anything by defeating the bad guys…

Today we’re going to talk about how narratives turn failures in to success… or perhaps how success can be accomplished by failure? It’s a little different in each case, but ultimately this grid contains a lot of spoilers. Since these blurbs are about the conclusions of stories, we understand that you might be reluctant to venture further in, as even seeing a story or character on the list might give something away. But think about it this way: this grid is about the merging of success and failure. A character might be on this grid because they failed and it looked like success… or they might be on it because they succeeded and it looked like failure. So if you see a name from a series you want to follow up on… just click on.

Look, we didn’t put a spoiler tag on the end of The Lord of the Rings. There are statutes of limitations on these things.


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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R7GVNIKWG3S2UTHEQOMSZXT4M4 Anna B

    Great list! I wouldn’t say Frodo failed spectacularly, though. I mean, he got close enough to the edge for Gollum to bite off his finger and fall into the lava, right? That had to count for something. So if Frodo failed, I certainly wouldn’t classify it as spectacularly. I’d say sorta failed.

    And for the record, my dear departed father called it–that Luke Skywalker would take up the mantle of Darth Vader. I remember it. It was in 1983, and after watching Return of the Jedi, he told me the story continues and Luke will be the next Darth Vader. He was joking, I’d imagine, but for a while, I thought he was telling the truth (I was 5).

  • http://twitter.com/StevenRayMorris Steven Ray Morris

    is it really *SPOILER lasting peace? *SPOILER

  • http://nomorehipsters.pip.verisignlabs.com/ Sinux

    Nitpicks:

    Fry wasn’t saving the last bit of data from the brainspawn.  Once they had collected that last bit of data the infosphere opened to scan itself, making itself temporarily vulnerable to an attack.  Which is what Fry was sent to do, that is detonate a device that would remove the infosphere from our universe.

    Also it was the brainspawn who sent Fry back to 1999, not Nibbler (as Fry, the infosphere, and the entire brainspawn were now in some parallel reality where they were the only things in existence.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/eva.heater Eva Marie Heater

    Considering how badly EVERYONE fails in The Venture Bros., I’d say Brock is more competent than anyone else in the series. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    Interesting that the whole weird Starbuck thing was left out of the BSG post… but I guess compared to all the other stuff it’s pretty minor.  

  • Anonymous

    Frodo’s failure might be my very favorite part of Lord of the Rings! Well, okay, “I AM NO BRO!” is actually my favorite part of Lord of the Rings, but Frodo’s failure is thematically the best part.

    And thank you, Mary Sue, for backing up my BSG-related rage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Orion-Klinger/100002973589595 Orion Klinger

    Ummm… Not to nit-pick but I think someone needs to rewatch their BSG. You kinda got everything about the 13th tribe wrong.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure Frodo qualifies, since his failure really wasn’t a fridge moment, it was part of the film’s big climax.  That said, one could argue that Frodo both did and *didn’t* fail, in that he took pity on Gollum: if he chose not to, then Gollum wouldn’t have attacked him, and led up to the sequence of events which led to the ring’s destruction.  Frodo’s strength may have failed him at the end, but the strength of character he showed in the past turned disaster into success.

    Or something like that.  In any case, it sure isn’t like Jedi…

  • http://www.hyperborea.org/journal/ Kelson

    Apologies in advance for the nitpicking, but this is one of those things that Just Bugs Me(tm), and it seems to come up every time the BSG finale is mentioned.
    The “Mitochondrial Eve” concept doesn’t mean everyone else died out. It’s finding a common ancestor based on the fact that we only inherit mitochondria from our mothers.

    Start with two families. One has all girls, or a mix of girls and boys. The other has all boys. The mother who has girls? Her grandchildren will inherit her mitochondria. The mother who has all boys? Her mitochondrial line will disappear, even if she has more grandchildren than the first.

    One character being Mitochondrial Eve doesn’t mean every other family died out. It just means that over time, each other line had at least one generation of all boys.

  • Terence Ng

    I never got that one part about the ending of Mockingjay.
    SPOILER
    SPOILER
    SPOILER

    It seemed as though they all voted (or got out-voted)  to have another Hunger Games, but they never pick up on whether they actually ended up doing it. Coin getting killed seemed to indicate that her replacement was a more sane and less ruthless person, leading a government that Katniss and Peeta could at least stomach as they lived out the rest of their lives. If the new government went ahead with the Hunger Games, I don’t really get the point…especially with the last line in the book.

    END OF SPOILER
    END OF SPOILER
    END OF SPOILER 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JGSPODOFE27JMW3ZHFM4PXJ4JQ Jill Baker

    I disagree with almost everything about the Hunger Games mention. Katniss’s prime objective is not to keep from dying. That’s her secondary. Her primary objective is to protect her family. And the examples given of how she puts herself in danger are usually because she has judged that the risk of that danger is less than if she didn’t. The ones when she is in the hunger games themselves is because she is manipulating the circumstances. The rest are because she sees it as the best way to protect her family, especially Prim.

    I’m not going to say more on that because I’m really trying not to spoiler even though I think everyone should have read the books, go read them now!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692222245 Sam KillingJar Houston

    Wait. How is Utena a failure? 

    SPOILER 

    Utena brings about a revolution… it’s just that the world revolution was to free Anthy from her role as Rose Bride. So, not only did she win the ultimate prize of revolution, but she also freed her friend from an eternity of self-loathing and self-imposed punishment. I don’t see that as a failure. Even if it takes place in the confines of Ohtori, that was Utena and Anthy’s WORLD, so it was a world revolution. And who says world revolution has to be big?

  • http://twitter.com/degrassidigest Ms Avery

    I took it to mean that in the aftermath of Coin’s death, the plans for the new Hunger Games were dropped. It should have been made a bit clearer, though.

  • Terence Ng

    Or that those generations of girls who possessed other mitochondrial lineages didn’t reproduce or that their offspring didn’t reproduce. It could be a sloughing effect if the Mitochondrial Eve lineage was just more plentiful or more successful over a longer period of time.

  • Frodo Baggins

    Oh sure, RUB IT IN. Like to see you do better, Mary Sue.

  • Anonymous

    HUNGER GAMES SPOILER! 

    But you forget what the whole point of Katniss even volunteering was – to save her sister. And in the end, while she saves her for a time, ultimately Prim still dies and Katniss is powerless to stop it. So while things end in a sort of HEA, Katniss failed at what she originally set out to do. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/gnomer.denois Jill Oliver

    She only failed because the other side that was supposed to be her side cheated. I do agree, she failed on that goal. After that happened though, her next main goal was revenge on the cause, which was almost denied her through clever shenanigans, but she got it right.

  • Uriel 238

    I think Frodo gets full marks for just delivering the proverbial toxic waste to the dump site. Sure it dominated him because it dominates anyone who bears it (except Sam, who’s strangely immune, and Tom who is not-so-strangely immune).

    I wonder if slipping the ring on a bunny, and then taking a cage full of well-fed invisible bunny to Mount Doom would have bypassed the whole domination thing. Or maybe the bunny would figure out how to escape. Stupid bunny.