Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) controls many biological processes including differentiation, survival, proliferation, and angiogenesis. In normal healthy cells, STAT3 is tightly regulated to maintain a momentary active state. However, aberrant or constitutively activated STAT3 has been observed in many different cancers and constitutively activated STAT3 has been shown to associate with poor prognosis and tumor progression. For this reason, STAT3 has been studied as a possible target in the treatment of many different types of cancers. However, despite decades of research, a FDA-approved STAT3 inhibitor has yet to emerge. In this review, we will analyze past studies targeting STAT3 for drug discovery, understand possible causes of failure in these studies, and provide potential insights for future efforts to overcome these roadblocks.