Sometimes, it’s just not your day. Even if you go at a situation with the best of intentions there’s always the chance for backfire, which can really hold you back from acting how you feel you should. It can be disheartening and downright embarrassing to look back on your past blunders, but a better way to look at these situations is with laughter, and as a lesson learned. You know what they say: Comedy is tragedy plus time. These Redditors understand that better than anyone. Here are 42 tales of ideas that backfired.
1. Bug Juice Privileges: Revoked
When I was a kid at summer camp, I once attached some skyrockets to one of those balsa wood gliders. I thought it would be fun, but it was an utter disaster. I tossed it out toward the lake after lighting the rockets and it flew normally for a few seconds until the rockets kicked in. It shot straight up, looped over our heads, and landed right on one of the councilors.
No bug juice for me that night.
2. The Deadliest Game
This actually happened to my teacher, she entered an ax-throwing competition and while winding up before throwing, it was behind her head. When she threw it she hit the back of her head with the handle. She knocked herself out and the blade of the ax almost sliced her head.
3. The Great Exploding Toilet
I decided to burn some newspaper outside in a toilet I had just replaced because I didn't want to risk the grass catching on fire. Well, heat caused the toilet to explode, sending burning newspaper everywhere. Then the grass caught on fire.
4. Bullies Never Learn
Trying to shake hands with my bully, thinking this would diffuse the situation. Got punched in the throat.
5. Mathematician or Cheap?
I took a date to a very nice restaurant for dinner to impress her. I noticed the monitor the waitress was using to keep track of our bill behind my date and just before the check came, I told my date how much the bill would be thinking she would be impressed by my math skills. After a few more dates, I explained what I had done that night.
She laughed and told me she had thought I was a tightwad because I was watching my money so closely.
6. Good Friends
I had friends at a lunch table who always made fun of this girl who sat by herself. I invited her to our table one day because I felt bad for her. Yup, you can see where this is going. She immediately and 100% replaced me, and they all realized it was even more awesome to make fun of me. Jokes on them, I got to eat lunch with my civics teacher after that.
7. Thank You, But…
Got some new clothes, like button-up shirts and nice khakis. Post-“makeover,” I had a lot of guys hit on me. I’m a straight man though, so that’s not really the result I was hoping for.
8. It’s the Thought That Counts
I offered my seat to an elderly lady on the bus. Turned out she wasn't that old and felt offended, so she screamed at me.
9. The Cool Guy Squint
My physics teacher told the guys of the class that one of the best ways to look cool in front of a girl is to do the thousand-yard gaze or looking into the distance. He continued to tell us that girls would think "that guy is so deep, so cool, what is he thinking?" Well, I tried that in front of a girl I had a crush on. Her reply shattered my confidence in pieces. All she said was, "Why are you squinting so hard?"
10. Dirt Bag Disaster
In my first apartment, I had a bag vacuum (as opposed to a canister vacuum), and the bag was full. I had no replacement bags, so I used painter's tape to attach a Walmart bag. I thought I was a frugal genius and patted myself on the back as I switched it on. It didn't work at all. Almost immediately the bag blew right off, and a bunch of dirt blew all over the place, including all the dirt that was stuck in the vacuum, since the previous bag had been so full.
11. A Warm, Wet Lesson
When I was a kid I took swimming lessons. One day after lessons were done and we went to the locker rooms to change there were some clothes sitting on top of one of the sinks. Me, wanting to show off, decided to push the clothes into the sink and turned on the faucet and soaked the clothes completely. We all had a great laugh.
So I got to my locker to get my clothes and made a horrifying realization. My clothes weren’t in my locker. And then realized that the balled-up pile I clothes I failed to recognize that was now soaking in the sink were actually my clothes. I sat in my wet swimsuit until the locker room was empty and until my dad finally came in and I lied and said someone soaked my clothes.
He went up to the counter and grumped at the workers until they gave him some clothing from the lost and found bin. They included ugly sweats that were so big they went above my head, and I embarrassingly walked through the center and parking lot humiliated by my own actions. I’ve never told my parents who really soaked the clothes.
But it was an excellent lesson for me to learn not to be a jerk and to know exactly what it feels like to be bullied, as I 100% took the brunt of my childhood jerkiness.
This one time in sixth grade we were playing kickball in gym class. I went to a private school, so I was wearing a white polo and grey slacks. Well, I had just started playing football so I was bragging that I could kick the ball really far. Mind you I was the short little pudgy kid everyone picked on. Well, I was up to kick, I pointed way into the outfield, ran at the ball and tried to kick it realllllly hard.
Well, not only did I completely miss the ball, I farted really loud as my leg fully extended and ripped my pants and underwear down my butt, then I fell right back into a puddle of mud. Everyone started falling over laughing, even the gym teacher who pitched the ball to me.
13. A Little Haircut
One time I curled my eyelashes and sneezed. I learned how to use fake eyelashes that day.
14. Too Good, Bye
Hired for a position I was overqualified for. Over performed. Asked for a promotion. Fired.
15. It’s Just a Prank, Sir!
For April Fools, I was planning to do an innocent prank by putting an air horn under my teacher’s chair so when he sat down it would trigger it and startle him, but he got too startled and jumped out of his seat, landed on his back and got knocked unconscious.
16. A Lot of Trust
A girl I knew dated a guy I was also friends with. Really sweet, doting guy, not the best looking, but a really lovely lad. I went on a night out with his girlfriend, my partner at the time, and his friend Jay. We drank and danced etc. and at the end of the night, my friend and Jay were kissing. We spoke the next day and she swore it was a one-off but ended up meeting him twice after that.
I told her if she didn't tell her partner, I would, as he was my friend too and didn't deserve it. In the end, I told him and he thanked me. Then she spoke to him, cried a river and managed to talk him round into forgiving her and falling out with me. It’s been a few years since that all happened, and neither one has spoken to me since.
They're still together, but I don't know how he can trust her.
17. Wrong Look
I had a receding hairline, so I shaved my head. I am a tall, muscular white man with tattoos who wears boots for work. How could this backfire? Well, people immediately assumed I loved Hitler.
18. Brit in Disguise
I am a pizza delivery driver and I get bored a lot. Sometimes when I'm doing deliveries I like to play this game with myself where I talk in a British accent. So I go up to this house and this super hot girl answers the door. I start talking in my best British accent and she freaks out and talks. Turns out she's British, too, and she asks me where in England I’m from.
The only place I knew in England was London, but I got caught off guard by her question and panicked, so I said Camelot. She looked at me very weird and told me I wasn't British. When I told her about my "game" she looked disgusted. The entire time, she had my tip in her hand; but when she gave it to me, she pulled out a couple of bucks.
19. Introvert’s Worst Nightmare
I started to smile more around people to look more friendly. I have a naturally angry-looking face so I've been told I don't look approachable. It has backfired; I have had to talk to a lot more people.
20. Super Supportive Boyfriend
I was never into makeup growing up and recently decided to take a crack at it. I ended up shoving all of the makeup I got to the back of my bathroom cabinet because oh my god the results were not good. I asked my significant other, "On a scale of 'swamp hag' to 'passable,' how did this go?" He hesitated, and then said, "Recent corpse."
21. Just… Wow
I was playing kickball. I was pretty drunk and a little boisterous that day. I was up to kick and one of the people on the sidelines was jokingly talking trash. I started backing up slowly to pull my pants down and moon him. Apparently he saw it coming, and as soon as I pulled my pants down he spits right on my butt crack.
One of the grossest feelings ever.
22. The Squid Defense
Sitting on an airplane doing a crossword puzzle. My pen stopped writing, so I snapped it up and down a couple of times. Ahhhh, the pen works again. The guy beside me starts freaking out and yelling for the stewardess. I look over at him and see a thin line of black ink running from the left shoulder of his crisp, starched white shirt to the right hip of his pants.
I pretended like I had been asleep, and he blamed some random kid across the aisle. The airline gave him a voucher or something to pay for the dry cleaning.
23. Ladies Man
13 years old and chubby, trying to impress my crush with my muscles. Attempted to single-handedly haul in a canoe from the river. The canoe snagged on a root and I ended up falling off the backside of the dam (about ten feet). Also, tried to impress different crush later that year with my skiing chops on a church retreat.
Went straight down a black instead of winding like you’re supposed to, ended up in the trees with a broken thumb and some fractured ribs. I’m not very good with the ladies.
24. Fire Hazard
Ok, I got this one. When I was a leader in training (LIT) at my beloved summer camp, itching to prove myself but still a dumb impulsive kid, I also liked fire. We were on a day trip and the site had a 30-degree rock face that was hidden from the site itself. So I went to the top with a "friend" and a can of naphtha (highly flammable).
These rocks are pitted, so I decided it would be an awesome idea to fill one and light it on fire. I was facing uphill and didn't notice that when I filled the little pit, it overflowed and ran down between my legs. So I light it, it immediately flares up down the hill, through my legs. I jumped out of the way but ended up knocking the can into the blaze.
It bounced down the rock face, spraying burning naphtha everywhere. It landed on the lake at the bottom and leaked burning fuel all over the small inlet. I turn around and my friend had run, so I ended up putting out 50 percent just stamping in my sandals, they brought in and emptied 2 fire extinguishers on it all because the main camp was close by.
Somehow didn't get sent home, and had an awesome counselor career...
25. A Real Maverick
I was tree planting, and we had a contract that required being transported on a helicopter. I had never been on a helicopter before. Helicopters are ridiculously expensive (ours was $1,600/hour), so it is all about efficiency: you want to get on and off as fast as possible. For my first ride, I got assigned to shotgun.
Riding in this seat, you have the responsibility to coordinate the loading/unloading of the helicopter. So the helicopter pulls up, and I run to it squatted as low as I can possibly get, and am throwing all the military hand signals around to get us loaded up. It goes well, we take our ride, land. I get out and start throwing all of the military hand signals around to get our crew out as fast as possible.
Then I start running away from the helicopter squatted as low as I can possibly get. In reality, I didn't need to use hand signals. But it looked cool. And in reality, I only had to duck my head—but squatting real low was what they did in all the cool movies. So I'm running really low, using my left hand to throw signals telling my crew to hurry up.
I look really cool. In my right hand is a gallon jug of water. The handle on the water jug breaks off, and the bottle falls out of my hand. Largely because I am squatted low and waving my left hand madly, this sudden change in weight I am carrying causes me to lose my balance and face plant. Unfortunately, we were going down a hill.
I rolled about 50 feet and landed in a thorn bush.
26. Hanger Pain
Many years ago tried that lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup liquid diet with a co-worker. It was a half bet, half diet thing. The first few days were ok. Day four I was drinking so much extra water to keep my stomach full I thought about just setting up a standing desk in front of a urinal. Day five, I was hangry but didn't know it, though my team sure as hell did.
The bet was for a month, at about the two-week point my team bought me lunch and paid me out the bet.
27. Wardrobe Malfunction
When I was in high school, there was this guy who I thought was ridiculously cool and I, therefore, tried to catch his attention. I am not now nor have I ever been the type of chick to wear a skirt, but I thought I would give it a whirl so this guy could see me a little more of my skin. One morning I set my trap with this totally cool skirt, and I was feeling all awesome and sexy.
When I walked by him, though, I heard him and his friends burst out into hysterical laughter. I kept walking until I rounded the corner, whereupon I discovered the reason for their laughs. Not being a skirt wearer, I did not understand the physics of butt and backpack interactions—so my loose, short skirt shimmied up along my butt with each "heck yeah" bouncy step I took.
My dorky freshman butt and granny panties were hanging out for all to see. Freaking skirts.
28. Avoiding Good Luck
This was when I was maybe 14/15 at school. Back then the school was well known for how at breaks the outside areas would be swarming with seagulls because everyone would throw their rubbish on the floor. There had been many times where people were pooped on by the birds, which made everyone scared when they flew above.
So anyway, it was our lunch break and it was coming towards the end so everyone was finishing their food, it was a hot day so most people ate outside. Like always the seagulls were swarming the place so a lot of people were very cautious because no one wanted to be shat on. Me and a load of friends were all kind of just huddled together in a circle, having a bit of banter as the young teenagers do.
I kept looking up because of all the seagulls right and I see that one has taken a crap right above me, it was quite high up so I had time to react. I decided to get everyone's attention, and then took a step back and stood there looking all smug. The plan was to have the crap land in front of me directly where I was standing.
It backfired when the bird crap went all over my head, bag, and uniform while everyone was watching me.
29. Generosity Backfires
Gave a one-eyed homeless guy $5. He wandered off, apparently telling other homeless guys his good fortune. Homeless guys began melting out of the scenery asking for their $5. I realized my mistake at that point and stopped being generous. They apparently turned their anger on their friend. They stabbed him for his $5. I only found out when questioned by police.
30. Proudly Naïve
Fourth grade, been reading some pretty advanced sixth-grade books. I thought I was the coolest. In front of many people had a debate with my teacher where I was teaching a classmate about something—she commented at the end of the conversation about how “You're pretty good at this huh?” Out of all the new words I learned, I chose the one that I understood the least but thought the pronunciation was the coolest.
I said, "No, I’m naïve." The classmate that I was lecturing, of all people, knew that word of all words and immediately said, "I don't think you know what that means" The teacher started laughing. I learned about all sorts of humility that day.
31. Ballsy Backfire
I was quite bored one day, so I took a large stick and began acting like it was a lightsaber—this was when I was like 12 years old. Basically, as I was playing around with it, my brother grabbed a stick and joined in. We were fighting with them for a bit when I decided to hit him in the balls because he kicked a ball into my face earlier in the week.
So I thrust the stick at his balls. There was a brick wall directly behind him, and I missed. The stick hit the wall and it jutted back and hit me in the balls.
32. Material Girl No-More
I was 18 years old, fresh out of high school, and driving my brand-new graduation gift Mustang around town. I was cute and in great shape and perky...and I knew it. Dad sent me to the local hardware store, back when it was an ACE Hardware in a strip center, next to the grocery store, not the Home Depot-style warehouses of today.
I was supposed to get something for him and I was more than happy to oblige. I knew what I was doing. I pulled right up to the front of the store in my shiny red car, got out and could feel all the teenage boys who worked in the store watch me walk in. I sauntered to the counter and said, "I need a such-and-such. Can you help me find it?"
I was helped out by two or three boys who helped me find what I needed. I was followed by them all back to the counter at the front of the store to pay for it, where I smiled sweetly and said to them, "Thanks so much for your help!" I may or may not have batted my eyes a little. Then I turned around to leave the store...and walked smack into a plate-glass window.
Everyone in the store let out an audible, "OOOOOOOH!" and those sweet, helpful boys just laughed and laughed. I knew then and there that I would never be that kind of girl again. God was watching me, all full of myself, and said, "You need a little humility. Here. Let me show you." Lesson learned.
33. Just Saved Your Life, No Big Deal
When I was in high school, I had a friend who was...troubled. We met when she moved into town to live with her mother, after being raised by her grandparents. Her mother turned out to be a substance user who treated her children like crap, including my friend, who eventually moved back in with her grandparents a couple of hours away.
We kept in touch, and I woke up at 3 am one day (the morning of my friend's birthday) to my mom handing me the phone, saying it was my friend. Friend had been getting progressively stranger, and that morning was suicidal. She was determined to die by suicide at the same time she had been born. "It felt right that way," or some nonsense.
I spent the next four hours on the phone with her trying to calm her down and convince her to seek help. She finally gave her consent for me to speak to the counselor she saw at my school, which I did as soon as I arrived. At 6:00 that night I got a call from her at the hospital, saying they were admitting her to the psych ward.
The next morning, I get called out of class to take a call from her grandparents, who are crying and falling over themselves thanking me for saving their beautiful girl. While she was committed (for about three months) there was a contact list for people who could call, visit, and write to her. I don't know the specifics of who determined it, or why, but I assume it's because she was underage and her grandparents wanted to protect her from her mother.
I was the only person—aside from the grandparents—who was on that list. I called her regularly, wrote to her, and even made the three-hour drive to go visit her once. I had explained to the few other friends she had in my area that she was in the ward and no one was allowed to contact her, but I would be happy to pass along what I could, so she felt their support. It was the worst mistake of my life.
Naturally, when she was released she turned on me, blaming me for "three months of hell," which she gave no indication of during any of the contact/visits we had during that time. She told everyone she was admitted against her will, the "contact list" was bull-crap, and I was trying to...keep the crazy all for myself, I guess.
Whatever. No one believed me. Over the course of the next couple of months, during which I was going through some serious medical stuff, I lost the few friends I had been able to make being a shy introvert, some I had been close to for four or five years at the time. After a couple of months, I connected with some new friends who treated me better than the old ones ever did anyway, and was (eventually) happier for it.
A year or two ago, she sent me a friend request on Facebook. It had been six or seven years, so I figured, "What the hell, I'm over it, and she seems to have grown up, too." Nope. The first thing I see on her wall is a conversation with one of the former friends talking smack about me.
34. Love Don’t Wait
Deliberately not texted a guy, or delayed texting him back. As a woman, I had the impression this made me look desperate, needy and/or forward, and friends' advice at the time was that he'd be more interested if he didn't hear from me. Looking back, I may have missed some great friendships and dates that way. Now if I'm feeling it, I don't sweat reaching out.
It seems to work a lot better.
35. Better Luck Next Time
I was a young lad, about eight or nine I think, and I was at the local park riding my bike around. There was a big hill next to the basketball court that you could catch some pretty sweet speed going down. This girl I knew came to the park with her mom to play around and after a while, they sat down at the bench to relax.
I was the focal point of their field of view, so I decided there was no better time to show off my sweet biking skills. I pedal to the top of the hill and start to ride down. Thinking I'd ramp up the difficulty level I start to pedal pretty quickly down the hill. There was a little lip at the bottom of the hill just before the basketball court, so with enough speed, I figured I could show this little lady what sweet air really looks like in person.
I hit the dirt lip and went over the handlebars with all the grace of a paraplegic trying to do the high jump. I face-planted on the concrete basketball court and had some nice gashes on my face. She and her mom gasp and proceed to walk over to check on me. I got onto my bike as fast as I could and choked out an "I'm ok, no big deal."
All the while trying to swallow back the tears of pain and shame. I rode off until I was out of earshot and let the crying commence in earnest. It's always served as a life lesson in how not to act cool in front of the ladies.
36. Self-Scan Screw-up
I was running low on condoms, so I decided to sneak a box in my basket under the groceries because the supermarket had self-checkout registers and I'm still freaking embarrassed to buy condoms. Totally backfired. I scanned the condom and threw it in the bag in a split second, this lady (I'm assuming the store manager) got suspicious and walked up to me and asked me if I'm sure I scanned everything, then mentioned "the yellow box."
I remained calm, pointed out the item on the screen, and all of a sudden all her professionalism went away and a stupid smirk appeared on her face. Then she just had to crack a joke in front of all other customers. She said, "Do you know how to use them?" and laughed while walking away. Jerk.
I told kids I had stopped wetting the bed at eight years old because I thought it was an accomplishment. Turns out I had psychological problems and sleep disorders working together to make me piss myself at night, and that bedwetting after early childhood is not, as I thought it to be, normal.
38. Driving Dirty
I was 14 at the time. I got involved in a school play because of this girl I really liked. So about a week or so before the play a whole bunch of us got together at a friend’s house for a quick rehearsal, and of course, she was there too. We got organized and stuff however a car was parked in the garage, where we wanted to rehearse, so the owner of the house asked if someone could back it up.
I wanted to impress the girl so I said I would do it, my friend tossed me the car keys, I catch them without even looking at them. I had my eyes fixed on the girl. From there, it all went downhill. I had never ever even started a car before in my life; as soon as I closed the door I panicked, but still thought to myself: screw it, I’m going to go through with this.
So I grab the headrest of the passenger side, turn my head toward the back of the car, start the car, hit the clutch and floor it, I didn’t even check to see the gear (it was a stick) when all of the sudden I’m jerked forward. About three seconds into it, I hit a tree, panic even more and press the accelerator even harder and hit the tree again, and again, until it somehow it finally stopped.
I got out of the car still trying to look like I had it all under control, that was, until I threw up. The BMW was dented and still in the same freaking place it was parked to begin with. Oh God, I started to sweat with every word I typed. Needless to say, I never got the girl.
39. Scummy Scammer
When I was young I was able to save money very well. No bank or anything, just a wooden box under my bed that used to hold dominos. Every week I would cash my paycheck, put the vast majority in the box, and keep a little pocket money for myself. When I was 18, I worked at a video store. Everyone who worked there was very good friends.
One day we were told by our boss, a really great guy named Drew, that he had come down with stomach cancer. I talked to him afterward and was sad to hear that the store's terrible insurance was causing Drew to have to choose between treatments or paying his rent. Drew was gay and his family had disowned him, so he had no help.
I thought about it for a few days and ultimately decided that I would be the one to help him out. I agreed to loan him money so that he could pay his rent. He would pay me back when able, and everything would be great. I gave him $3,000 that I had saved since I was 12—a little over three actually, but who’s counting, right?
Cut to five months later. I come to work one night to see Drew being dragged out of the place by the police. Turns out he had a massive coke problem and had been stealing from the store. He was such a good guy I actually fought for him at work for a month or so until I saw the evidence. I also learned that he never had cancer.
It was all a scam he had used on several "friends" of his, so he and his boyfriend could get high. I have never been able to get back to where I was financially. I am not sure what changed, maybe because I got a bank account, maybe emotionally it messed me up...I am not sure. I have $60 to my name now. One thing is for sure: I have never trusted people the same since.
Not sure anything will be able to give me that back.
40. The Worst Regret
I was in an extremely weird and once-in-a-lifetime kind of car accident where I was supposed to be not at fault. I really don't want to go into detail, but another car hit me going twice the speed limit, sending us both rolling down into a ditch. I got out through the windshield since it was shattered and was able to cut the airbag.
The other car was in much worse shape and was on fire. I ran up to see if the driver was okay, and my blood ran cold. She was falling in and out of consciousness. Her car was upside down and the roof was caved in pressing her into the seat. The seatbelt was tight around her and her airbag wasn't deflating. I struggled with the door and was able to get her out as the fire spread onto her.
I remember passing out a little after I was able to put out the fire on her legs. I woke up in the ambulance with a broken leg and a concussion. The EMTs said I was only able to save her because of all the adrenaline coursing through my system. The police that wrote the report found her at fault and said I was a hero, but no good deed goes unpunished.
She had first degree burns on her legs and face and had super cheap insurance. She ended up suing me and dragging me into a four-year legal process that not only cost my insurance thousands but had me spending money on legal fees and lost wages from constantly having to go to court. It was finally settled because somehow all she needed was to prove I was at least 1% at fault and my insurance folded.
She was awarded my full liability ($200,000.00) plus $25,000 that I'm on the hook for personally. I was barely able to get my totaled car paid off and whatever was left in my pocket for a new car had to go directly to her. It's been six years since the accident and I still owe about $12,000 but I’m trying to avoid paying that.
The last time I talked to my attorney after she was awarded damages he said something that I’ll always think back on and wish I could have changed my actions. He said if he was in my shoes and knew the outcome he would have left her in there to burn.
41. Delayed Reaction
I was in the parking lot of a store once when a lady dropped a bunch of stuff off her cart. She was having trouble picking up a box of bulk items. I told her that I would help her and we both picked the box up and put it in the trunk of her car. I still don’t really understand what happened next. She sprayed me with pepper spray and screamed.
I was left confused at why I was attacked as she almost ran me over driving out of there.
42. Back into the Lion’s Den
I had been trying to break up with a psychotic girlfriend for weeks—she was a truly terrible person, but that's a different story. She talked me into staying with her a few times, but I agreed mostly because I felt guilty dropping her right before her finals of her senior year of college. After she graduated, I finally was ready to put my foot down.
We had neighboring apartments in a complex. The only thing left of mine in her apartment was a booklet of DVDs. I went over to get it, and she, predictably, tried to talk me into getting back with her. We ended up talking for a while, and she was crying about how she wouldn't want anybody ever again and how now she would never get married.
I knew that all of this was coming and was completely prepared. I gave her this glorious, elegant speech about why it just wouldn't work if we kept it going, about how we needed to move on, and told her that she would find somebody to love again someday. All of this was done without a twinge of regret or doubt. My thoughts and words flowed without a pause or stutter in a way that I couldn't recreate if I tried.
I ended with "Send me an invite to your wedding," as this was the classiest way to say, "I will never begin walking down the aisle with you,” then turned around, and strutted out like a boss. It was a perfect, movie-style closing. Then I froze in the hallway as the smile crashed off of my face. In my efforts towards a glorious exit, I had forgotten why I went over in the first place.
I turned around and knocked on her door. "I forgot my DVDs," I said, somewhat sheepishly. She handed my DVD booklet to me and said, "So much for your dramatic exit,” then slammed the door in my face. Boom, roasted.
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