Definition of EPIC:

  • very imposing or impressive; surpassing the ordinary (especially in size or scale);”of heroic proportions”

Definition of FAIL:

  • Not meeting a desirable or intended objective; viewed as the opposite of success; falling short; being unsuccessful

Definition of EPIC FAIL:

  • To be spectacularly unsuccessful; to fail so badly that it is impressive / astonishing / hilarious, evoking schadenfreude.

Origins of Epic Fail

The term ‘Epic Fail’ is of urban origin and no one knows for sure where it came from, but it’s believed to have originated with role-play gamers as a variant of ‘Critical Fail.’

In role-play games (such as Dungeons & Dragons) dice are used to add an element of chance, and some use what is know as the Criticals System, which adds the possibility of a character succeeding very will or failing very badly. A Critical Hit might do double damage to the enemy whereas a Critical Failure might mean you just shot yourself in the foot!

Some Critical Systems were ridiculously complicated, with the possibility of knock-on effects causing a pretty minor action to accidentally wipe out your entire group.

This animation by Knights of the Dinner Table illustrates this pretty well:

Players started to refer to these kind of knock-on effects as Epic Fails.

For obvious reasons Critical Failures are rarely used in RPGs today – they’re Old School – however rolling a 1 on a 20-sided dice still has some significance: it is always a failure regardless of how godlike a character is.*

Epic Fail may also refer to:

  • Rolling a 1 where a character can ONLY fail on a 1.
  • Rolling 1s multiple times in a row.

*There are many different role-play games operating many different system so this won’t always be true. Heck, some RPGs don’t even use dice!

The Epic Fail meme

Epic Fail gained it’s popularity through an internet meme whereby users superimposed the words EPIC FAIL on various images showing spectacular failures.

Epic Fail

IMO this has to be the best Epic Fail ever! (Or should that be the worst?) I have never seen any to top it. If you have, seriously, send it to me, I want to see that!!

Related memes are FAIL, EPIC WIN and…

Epic Fail Guy


Epic Fail Guy (EFG) is a stick figure character created by Anonymous on 4Chan. He did not come into his own until, in one cartoon, he picked up a Guy Fawkes Mask similar to the one in V for Vendetta out of a bin. Thereafter he was always depicted wearing the mask and has become something of a figurehead for Anonymous.

The meme involves Epic Fail Guy trying to do something, e.g. pressing the ‘WIN’ button, and failing. It’s open to interpretation and has produced many amusing threads and cartoons.

Comic of Epic Fail

And now, thanks to me, Epic Fail is also a webcomic! Actually it’s not the first, but the first one failed…

Is Epic Fail cursed?

Whenever the webcomic ‘Epic Fail’ is close to winning a competition said competition will inevitably self-destruct, taking the website with it. This has happened three times so far:Comic of Epic Fail

  • The Webcomic Planet WAR
  • The Zingerding Six
  • Comicracy

Coincidence? I think not!

And that’s the most complete explanation of Epic Fail that you’re going to get out of me, so quit asking!

"It's best to have failure happen early in life. It wakes up the Phoenix bird in you so you rise from the ashes." -Anne Baxter