To free-fall from 34 kilometers above the Earth's surface, breaking the sound barrier in the process. Also, to prove that some Guinness Records are actually pretty badass.
What Went Wrong
A balloon that was part of the mechanism designed to carry the aspiring record-setter (Michel Fournier) into the air detached from its capsule as it was being inflated and floated away. No problem, just go get another balloon, right? Oh, wait... it cost five hundred thousand dollars.
Fournier spoke in a press conference after the attempt, saying "This is the first time that something like this has arisen." While demonstrating his ability to make puns in the midst of stressful situations, Fournier also assured the public that it was merely a simple mechanical problem that kept him from getting off the ground. Unfortunate, but at least technically speaking the idea was sound, and it's not as though he's in the habit of wasting money or anything, right?
Oh, wait. Did we mention Fournier had attempted this once before, and failed that time as well? Combined, the two attempts have set him back nearly twenty million dollars. Hell, with that much money lying around why not just buy the rights to the book and make up some record so specific that you're the only one who could possibly hold it? "Most Money Wasted Attempting to Get Into the Guinness Book of Records" has a nice ring to it.
After a certain point in time, you just have to cut your losses and accept the inevitable. And that that point in time was well before you invested twenty million dollars.
To demonstrate that Ghandi was a pussy who could have held out for way longer.
What Went Wrong
Agasi Vartanyan, the Russian making the attempt, forgot one key step: telling Guinness he was doing it. In order to successfully make it into the book, you must first inform Guinness of the attempt, which they then look into and approve. Vartanyan, on the other hand, decided it would be better if he sat in a giant plastic cube for fifty days first, and then dealt with all that boring and tedious paperwork once he got out.
Before doing that though, he berated the reporters who had gathered around to watch him emerge for not providing enough coverage of his record attempt. We're not sure, but we suspect that had something to do with the fact that he technically wasn't making an attempt at all. Plus "Day 38: Yup, he's still sitting in there" doesn't make for a very good headline. After ranting at the media he hopped into his car and drove off, presumably to learn a valuable lesson about how bureaucracy works.
Oh, and even if he had filled out all the proper forms and had his attempt adjudicated by Guinness, he would have failed anyway. The book lists the record for longest hunger strike as 94 days, set by jailed Irish Republicans in 1920.
That perhaps we were too hard on the Croatian Smurfs up there.
To set up four million dominoes and then knock them all over, each one representing seconds of precious time those involved will never, ever get back.
What Went Wrong
Four million dominoes require a very large building, in this case a Dutch convention centre. Like any large building, it's possible for animals to get inside from time to time. Oh, yeah, you know where this is going.
A sparrow flew into the building during setup and, while it didn't knock over all four million of the dominoes, it did knock over 23,000 of them. Little did the sparrow know that domino standing volunteers, usually a passive and meek bunch, are quick to anger when their hard work is toppled prematurely. They cornered the bird and shot it, presumably knocking over countless dominoes during their blind rage.
Seriously, don't fuck with these people.
Their brutal vigilante justice quickly backfired when they learned that the one thing the Dutch love more than record breaking dominoes are cute birds. Animal rights groups threatened to investigate, a tribute website for the sparrow was set up and contests were announced to reward anyone who managed to further damage the attempt.
The television station that was broadcasting the affair even started to receive personal threats, likely in the form of photographs of knocked over dominoes. Oh, and did we mention the bird they shot was endangered? That kind of pissed people off too.
Always check for unpredictable animals before investing hundreds of man-hours into a project that can be destroyed by a gentle touch. Guinness learned a valuable lesson as well, choosing to cancel the announcement of their upcoming "Most Endangered Birds Killed by an Angry Mob" record.
To visit as many bars as possible in a single night while consuming at least a pint at each establishment, while pretending this is being done in the name of setting some kind of record.
What Went Wrong
We're sure you don't need us to explain the many, many ways this one could go wrong. What you probably won't think of is what happened in this case: Guinness declined to oversee the attempt because the man behind it, Larry Olmsted, had been blacklisted by the organization.
Olmsted had previously held the world record for the greatest distance travelled between two rounds of golf played on the same day. Not content to simply bask in the glory, Olmsted planned more attempts. But in between, he wrote a book that chronicled both his own record attempt and the history behind Guinness Records as a whole. Guinness didn't take kindly to it, calling the book an unauthorized association with the company. Apparently, the history of Guinness Records is full of dark and shameful moments that the public can't be allowed to know about.
"That book is an insult to the dignity of everyone who owns a Guinness Record."
When Olmsted made his application for a new record attempt he learned that Guinness was looking to taking legal action against his book, and so they wouldn't consider any applications from him until the matter was settled. Word has it that Olmsted made the attempt anyway, not in the name of setting a Guinness record but because it was Wednesday night.
"I'll make my own Guinness book. Then we'll see who can't get in."
That a book that contains information about the most dogs married at one time and the fastest game of Operation ever played is extremely serious business.
For more stories from the realm of stupidity, check out The 5 Most Retarded Causes People Are Actually Fighting For. Or check out the dipshits that took it a step too far in 6 People Who Died In Order To Prove A (Retarded) Point.