Created By: DannyVElAcme on May 17, 2011 Last Edited By: lamoxlamae on November 8, 2011
Troped

Short-Lived Big Impact

A show, performer or franchise has a short career or run, but leaves a huge impact on the genre.

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Needs More Examples of different media: mostly only have music so far.

Alternate Title: Short Run Wide Influence, Short-Lived Big Impact

Sometimes a show, performer or franchise, for some reason or another, doesn't last too long. Perhaps Executive Meddling reared its ugly head, perhaps it was Too Good to Last, perhaps Author Existence Failure was involved, or maybe it was simply ahead of its time. However, a few years down the road, the genre that it belonged to explodes in popularity, and when you interview the creative minds behind the genre, they ALWAYS put that particular work front and center as their biggest influence. Quite simply, it was a Short-Lived Big Impact.

This trope is about something having left a noticeable impact on it's genre, even though the work/artist was cut short. Short works that were great but have not influenced their genre a lot yet (ex: Firefly, Arrested Development) go under Too Good to Last, not here.

In serial media(comic books, anime, cartoons, etc.), this trope can manifest as a work that was cut short or simply not meant to be a Long Runner, but the impact it left on the genre is still felt.

In music, it is important to mention this is not a One-Hit Wonder: a Short-Lived Big Impact musical act might actually have multiple hits before they left the scene, or even no hits at all. One-Hit Wonder usually refers to an artist or act that left no impact beyond the popularity of their one hit, a Short-Lived Big Impact's effect on their genre is still felt.

Do not confuse this with Too Good to Last, but it can play a part in the untimely demise. Tell who was influenced when you make your example or it goes under Too Good to Last.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion was one of the most influential anime shows of the Giant Mecha Genre, but only lasted one season and 26 episodes.

Film
  • James Dean. He only starred in three Hollywood films and died in a tragic car crash shortly after finishing the third one, but his performances in East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause (especially the latter) pretty much defined the "misunderstood bad-boy teen" image of the era.
  • Bruce Lee. Didn't star in very many films, and died at the age of 33, but he is widely credited with introducing martial-arts films to the United States, and popularizing asian culture. His fighting philosophy still lives on to this day, and he has inspired dozens upon dozens of Bruce Lee Clones.

Literature
  • The Canterbury Tales was never even finished. It is still considered one of the most influential books of the English Language despite the fact it was written in Middle English making this trope Older Than Steam.
  • John Keats, he was only 25 when he died, with only three books of his work published, but is considered one of the Great Romantic Poets.
  • Stieg Larson, author of the Millennium Trilogy( of which The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the first book), died under mysterious circumstances before finishing what was supposed to be a five book series. The series became a phenomenon, and many a modern author is already showing influence from his books, especially amongst the Nordic countries.
  • The Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Ann were extremely successful and influential authors, but they only wrote a total of seven books between the three of them.

Live-Action Television
  • The Adam West Batman series pretty much defined the Caped Crusader in the public eye for decades (and seemingly permanently in Japan), but the TV show itself only ran for 2 years.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series originally lasted for just two seasons, being Un-Cancelled for a third season before dying completely. It's also a cultural icon, having an immense influence on science fiction, as well as western culture as a whole. Good luck finding someone who doesn't recognize Captain Kirk and Mister Spock, even if they were born long after the series was first aired.
  • Japanese Spider Man ran for one season (41 episodes) and made the Humongous Mecha genre.
  • Twin Peaks: With only two seasons and 30 episodes, it popularized the Quirky Town genre in American television, having descendants such Picket Fences and Northern Exposure that ran much longer than Twin Peaks itself. Also, the amount of surrealism, eccentric humor, and horror in it were highly exceptional for a mainstream American drama series of its era, but such elements became much more common in television in its wake in the 1990s and 2000s.

Music
  • The infamous 27 Club, a group of singers who all died at 27, greatly limiting their output, but they all left profound impacts on music:
    • Robert Johnson -- basically made Blues what it was; was also a profound influence on many of the earliest rock singers
    • Brian Jones -- founded The Rolling Stones, who were the main influences of bands like ACDC, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, etc, who pioneered the Heavy Metal genre.
    • Jimi Hendrix -- one of the most influential guitarists of all time; the "burn the strings" guitar solo was invented by him, and just about every hard rocker since has imitated it.
    • Janis Joplin -- a key player in women coming onto the rock scene; everyone from Paramore to P!nk owes something to this gal.
    • Jim Morrison -- in addition to being the lead singer of The Doors, he is widely regarded has having perfected the modern "rock star" image.
    • Kurt Cobain -- the lead singer of Nirvana, he helped define the image of rock the late 80's and early 90's, and set the stage for the rock scene in the next decade.
    • Amy Winehouse -- a key influence in revitalizing the stagnated British music scene, and for popularizing soul music.
  • The Sex Pistols had a grand total of one studio album, yet they are considered the pioneers of Punk Rock.
  • Led Zeppelin had a career that spanned little more than a decade, cut short by drummer John Bonham's death. Their impact on the rock genre is undeniable, and their sound was one of the precursors to Heavy Metal.
  • Eazy-E had his life cut short by AIDS, but his career was one of the most influential in the Gangsta Rap genre.
  • English indie rockers The Stone Roses managed only two albums and yet were a big influence on many rock bands of the Nineties.
  • 2Pac and Notorious BIG both died at 25, leaving a profound influence on rap in their wake.
  • Joy Division. Only released two albums owing to the Author Existence Failure of their lead singer (who died at 23), but are the first thing everyone thinks of when they hear the term Post-Punk, in addition to helping lay the groundwork for what would become Goth Rock. If The Doors did not influence them, usually Joy Division did.

Western Animation
Community Feedback Replies: 49
  • May 17, 2011
    ladygem
    Literature
    • John Keats, he was only 25 when he died, with only three books of his work published, but is considered one of the Great Romantic Poets
  • May 17, 2011
    jaytee
    Related to Too Good To Last. Can overlap with British Brevity.
  • May 17, 2011
    MC42
    • Star Trek The Original Series originally lasted for just two seasons, being Un Cancelled for a third season before dying completely. It's also a cultural icon, having an immense influence on science fiction, as well as western culture as a whole. Good luck finding someone who doesn't recognize Captain Kirk and Mister Spock, even if they were born long after the series was first aired.
  • May 17, 2011
    Damr1990
  • May 17, 2011
    DannyVElAcme
    @MC42: Star Trek doesn't count, because the original series may not have lasted long, but the franchise itself is a media juggernaut. This trope would count if no more Star Trek had ever been released. It DID count before the release of the other series and movies, but afterwards it has too mucho of a presence for this trope.

    @Damr1990: A One Hit Wonder would only count if, even if the artist had only one hit, the artist still was influential to music as a whole. If the artist is a One Hit Wonder with good reason, he's not this trope. One example would be Thomas Dolby. He only had one hit("She blinded me with science"), but his contributions to music technology and career as a session musician and producer have left their mark on the music landscape.
  • May 17, 2011
    MC42
    ...no, because it was the influence that the original series had that caused the media juggernaut, not vice versa.
  • May 18, 2011
    jaytee
    To give an example of how this overlaps with British Brevity, Fawlty Towers was hugely popular and influential, but only ever had... what, 12 episodes over two series?
  • May 18, 2011
    jaytee
    And I think Star Trek TOS should count, especially given the incubation period between TOS and any new material. Once the original material had time to prove its influence, they restarted the franchise.
  • May 18, 2011
    leaveonlyfootprints
    Arrested Development?

    I would argue they nailed the no-laugh-track, timely, sarcastic humor that was later done (more successfully) by 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, The Office, etc
  • May 19, 2011
    Specialist290
    • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Died at the age of 35, yet was one of the most influential and prolific composers ever.
    • James Dean. He only starred in three Hollywood films and died in a tragic car crash shortly after finishing the third one, but his performances in East Of Eden and Rebel Without A Cause (especially the latter) pretty much defined the "misunderstood bad-boy teen" image of the era.
  • May 19, 2011
    captainbrass2
    • English indie rockers The Stone Roses managed only two albums and yet were a big influence on many rock bands of the Nineties.
  • May 19, 2011
    jaytee
    ^^^Seeing as this is a completely subjective trope anyway, I don't think anyone's going to argue with your example.
  • May 19, 2011
    Routerie
    Weezer is not an example of this. They released one hugely popular album (The Blue Album) and two years later released the moodier, more raw follow-up sophomore album (Pinkerton). Pinkerton was a massive commercial failure and Rivers Cuomo (lead songwriter/singer) withdrew from the public eye. Five years pass with little word from Rivers. In the meantime Pinkerton has become a Cult Classic with emo kids and inspired a new generation of bands playing moody, raw music... And then, when it seems as though Weezer will go down in history as this trope, of course Rivers and crew came back with a string of So Good Its Average albums starting in 2001. All certainly listenable, but they're never going to be as influential as those first two.
  • August 25, 2011
    DannyVElAcme
    Bumpman!
  • August 25, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    Reminds me of the Hauntology YKTTW. Anyway, Firefly.
  • August 26, 2011
    Tuomas
    A bit off-topic, but I'm not sure why it's said that Stieg Larsson "died under mysterious circumstances". He had a heart attack, that's not particularly mysterious.
  • August 26, 2011
    terrafox
    There was not as much time between Star Trek TOS and later developments, too many forget about Star Trek The Animated Series and that the first ST Movie came out about 5 years after the end of STTAS, which is not too long of a down-time for a franchise.

    • The Doors were only a complete band for about three years, their time was cut short due to the untimely death of their lead singer.
  • August 26, 2011
    randomsurfer
    James Dean only made 3 films but was a huge influence on film acting.
  • August 26, 2011
    Maklodes
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is often considered the greatest composer yet, and died at 35. Then again, his career started early in his life, so I'm not sure whether an 18-year career that started when he was 17 and ended upon death at 35 should count.
  • August 26, 2011
    elwoz
    More music: The Velvet Underground, of whom it was famously said (perhaps by Brian Eno) that "[Their] first album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band."
  • August 26, 2011
    somerandomdude
    Neon Genesis Evangelion was one of the most influential animes of all time, but only lasted one season and 26 episodes.
  • August 26, 2011
    ZombieAladdin
    The Adam West Batman series pretty much defined the Caped Crusader in the public eye for decades (and seemingly permanently in Japan), but the TV show itself only ran for 2 years.
  • August 26, 2011
    jaytee
    Roll in new updates and Just Launch It Already.
  • August 26, 2011
    JoeG
    • The Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Ann were extremely successful and influential authors, but they only wrote a total of seven books between the three of them.
  • August 26, 2011
    KingZeal
    Bruce Lee. Didn't star in very many films, and died at the age of 33, but he is widely credited with introducing martial-arts films to the United States, and popularizing asian culture. His fighting philosophy still lives on to this day, and he has inspired dozens upon dozens of Bruce Lee Clones.
  • August 26, 2011
    eviltwin531
    Possibly all the members of the infamous "27 Club." All died tragically young, which means their creative output is limited, but it includes the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain.
  • August 26, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Japanese Spider Man ran for one season (41 episodes) and Trope Made the Humongous Mecha genre.
  • August 27, 2011
    azul120
    I wouldn't count Evangelion, necessarily. Single season shows aren't exactly uncommon. (Not to mention the remake movies it spun off.)

    How about 2Pac and Notorious BIG? Both left a mark on hardcore rap, and died at 25.

    Cream recorded only 3 albums (one of which was live) but left a huge mark on hard rock.
  • August 29, 2011
    Jhimmibhob
    Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax is widely regarded as sporting baseball's biggest quality:duration ratio for a career.
  • October 5, 2011
    somerandomdude
    Resuscitated this great YKTTW and rolled examples in.

    ^^ Single season shows may not be uncommon, but short-lived by intention is still short-lived, and the impact Evangelion had on the genre is undeniable.
  • October 5, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Japanese Spider Man is Live Action TV, not Anime & Manga.
  • October 5, 2011
    yogyog
    I'd say the radio series On The Hour that launched the careers of Chris Morris and created the character Alan Partridge (Knowing Me Knowing You With Alan Partridge) - 6 episodes plus a Christmas special. Come to think of it, that the longest any Chris Morris series lasted.

    Is there a related trope of famous people dying young and remaining famous? Dye Young And Live Forever maybe?
  • October 5, 2011
    randomsurfer
  • October 5, 2011
    lamoxlamae
    • The Canterbury Tales was the author's first book and was never even finished. It is still considered one of the most influential books of the English Language.
  • October 6, 2011
    ArtFever
    As for the Stieg Larsson example: It was supposed to be a ten book series, not five. Minor nitpicking, but still.
  • October 6, 2011
    tustin2121
    Firefly! End sentence, begin anew!
  • October 6, 2011
    Routerie
    This page will have some great content. But curate it carefully to keep people from turning it into Too Good To Last, adding examples like Firefly.
  • October 6, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    Does Firefly really count? It's popular amongst its fans, but has achieved squat outside the base. It's not influenced any other shows, changed the medium, or even contributed to the genre in any way, it's not provided a springboard to other roles for its actors (in fact the actors who've gone on to fame afterwards have all been famous for other roles), and its attempt at a movie crashed and burned at the box office.
  • October 6, 2011
    Routerie
    Right, Firefly doesn't count. I wouldn't list Arrested Development either - the shows the poster listed drew their influence from The Office, which began as a remake of a British series; Arrested Development, said Mitchell Hurwitz, was itself influenced by British sensibilities.

    Perhaps calling this "Short Run Wide Influence" would help guard against "small but devoted fanbase" examples.
  • October 6, 2011
    burnpsy
    I'm having a hard time wording the impact it made, but Puella Magi Madoka Magica definitely made one, despite being only 12 episodes long.
  • October 6, 2011
    UglyShirts
    My So Called Life and Freaks and Geeks are two often-cited examples in the Live-Action TV category.
  • October 6, 2011
    Routerie
    Cited by whom? They were good, but what did they influence?
  • October 9, 2011
    TonyG
    At four seasons (the last two of which are barely talked about nowadays),The Ren And Stimpy Show did not last as much as the two other shows in the original Nicktoons line up, Rugrats and Doug, which continued in some form or another for the better part of a decade. And yet, R&S is among the most influential cartoon shows of the last twenty years, spawning dozens of imitators and being the Trope Maker for the Grossout Show genre.
  • October 9, 2011
    TonyG
    UPA (United Productions of America) barely lasted more than a decade as a theatrical cartoon studio, during which time their stylized approach to the medium profoundly changed the way cartoons looked for the next few decades (for better or worse). Even today, their influence, direct or indirect, is felt in shows as diverse as Dexters Laboratory, The Power Puff Girls, Beavis And Butthead, Samurai Jack, Home Movies, The Simpsons, and My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic.
  • November 7, 2011
    Folamh3
    • Joy Division. Only released two albums owing to the Author Existence Failure of their lead singer (who died at 23), but are the first thing everyone thinks of when they hear the term Post Punk, in addition to laying the groundwork for what would become Goth Rock. The list of bands they influenced is as long as your arm.
  • November 7, 2011
    Tuomas
    • Twin Peaks: With only two seasons and 30 episodes, it popularized the Quirky Town genre in American television, having descendants such Picket Fences and Northern Exposure that ran much longer than Twin Peaks itself. Also, the amount of surrealism, eccentric humor, and horror in it were highly exceptional for a mainstream American drama series of its era, but such elements became much more common in television in its wake in the 1990s and 2000s.
  • November 7, 2011
    Folamh3
    • Percy Shelley.
  • November 7, 2011
    randomsurfer
    .
  • November 7, 2011
    lamoxlamae
    This trope is just about ready to launch. Giving a day or two more for extra examples or comments, then it's launch time!
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