Failure of shoulder arthroplasty is often defined as a complication or the need for revision, but it may also be viewed as a result that does not meet the expectations of the patient. To enhance our understanding of failed shoulder arthroplasties, we identified the characteristics common to a series of 139 consecutive patients who came to our shoulder consultation service because of dissatisfaction with the result of their shoulder arthroplasty. Primary osteoarthritis (28%) and proximal humeral fractures (26%) were the most common indications for the initial arthroplasty. Seventy-three shoulders (fifty-two percent) had at least one surgery before arthroplasty was performed. Seventy-four percent of the shoulders were stiff, 35% were unstable, and in the total shoulders, 59% of the glenoids were loose. Components were substantially malpositioned in 23%. Forty-two percent of shoulders with a failed hemiarthroplasty had substantial glenoid erosion, and 43% of shoulders that had undergone a hemiarthroplasty for fracture had nonunion of the tuberosities. Patients demonstrated impaired shoulder function; on average, they could perform only 2 of 12 shoulder functions. The rate of revision underestimated the rate of failure, as 23% of arthroplasties did not undergo revision. The challenge of achieving patient satisfaction after arthroplasty may be greater than previously recognized. Many of these unsatisfactory shoulder arthroplasties did not meet the criteria for failure used in previously published series. These observations suggest that greater attention to achieving proper component position, postoperative motion, and in fracture cases, fixation of the tuberosities may lead to increased patient satisfaction after shoulder arthroplasty.