Thirty-nine parties have crossed the electoral threshold in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary since the collapse of communism. Twenty-three of them subsequently failed. Of these, only two parties managed to return on their own. Another survives in an electoral alliance. The rest have merged, ceased to exist, or maintain a ‘zombie-like’ existence. We map and analyse the fate of failed parties, and explore why some close down quickly while others soldier on. The core factors are the opportunity structures (potential alliances or new homes for the elite), alternative arenas for competition, and the organisational strength of the party.