1 Days Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

Briefer Than They Think

"Historical time has not yet run out for these tales... but even in the early nineteenth century the year contained only twelve months, and it is possible that in the near future the author (if the readers will bear with him) may be led to make use of hypothetical years, rather like those hypothetical moons used in the calculation of Easter: an 1812a as it were or even an 1812b."
Patrick O'Brian, introduction to The Far Side of the World

A form of Hollywood History related to Newer Than They Think, Older Than They Think or both. When a period of history (real or fictional) is given such weight and importance as to make it seem to have lasted a lot longer than it really did. Sometimes this can happen because the event was Short-Lived Big Impact, having a greater influence or acheiving more in a small stretch of time than whatever succeeded or preceded it.

Compare Frozen in Time and Medieval Stasis. For works of serial media, see Short Runners. See also Extremely Short Timespan.

Not to be confused with Small Role, Big Impact, which is about onscreen performances.


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    Comic Books 
  • Alan Moore came to prominence for the work he did in The '80s for DC Comics, where he worked on Swamp Thing, Watchmen, The Killing Joke as well as a few Superman stories. This was a five year period, a small part of his career where for the most part he has worked for alternative and independent publications as well as self-published ventures.
  • All of Astérix's adventures are supposed to take place between the conquest of Gaul and the death of Julius Caesar: that's six years, from 50 to 44 BC.
  • A fandom example: the Legion of Super-Heroes has had some eras that were either famous or infamous, but they really didn't last long at all:
    • Supergirl only had about 14 substantial appearances during her run (depending on how you count), with another 9 in the 1980's. The run of "Supergirl and the Legion" from 2006-2008 had about as many issues as Supergirl's entire set of Legion appearances back to 1960, and most of her early ones weren't even full length stories.
    • The Legion of Super-Pets only appeared 7 times and only had major roles in around four, also depending on how you count.
    • The Adult Legion appeared in 9 stories total (plus LSH #300, which wrote it out of continuity).
  • Batman first appeared in 1939's Detective Comics #27. Robin the Boy Wonder debuted the following year in Detective Comics #38. Modern retellings of the Dark Knight Detective's early solo career have stretched that era out to at least two years, a very busy period covered by Batman: Year One, The Long Halloween, various issues of Legends of the Dark Knight, a guest appearance in John Byrne’s Man of Steel, and featuring the debuts of the Riddler, Two-Face, the Joker (as the Red Hood), Catwoman, and Hugo Strange. Most of these villains originally debuted after Robin. Some of these modern retellings, however, may no longer be canon.
    • Similarly, a fact that comics blogger Chris Sims likes to point out is the length of the infamous "Batman uses a gun and kills criminals" era, often used to justify Darker and Edgier portrayals. Based on retellings of it, you'd think that it'd lasted until Seduction Of The Innocent. However, in Batman #4, Batman explicitly tells Robin that "we never kill with weapons of any kind." That comic came out in December of 1940, not even two years after Batman had been created, and it was written by Bill Finger and drawn by Bob Kane. And it stuck.
  • Between The Golden Age of Comic Books and the Silver Age was The Interregnum, often thought of as a lengthy dark drought in the superhero genre. If one measures it from the last appearance of the GA Flash (1951, All-Star Comics) to the first appearance of the SA Flash (1956, Showcase), it was only five years long. Given that DC Comics considers Superboy an Earth-1 (i.e., Silver Age) character, and Superboy debuted in 1945, it could even be argued that the Golden Age and Silver Age overlapped, and the Interregnum thus had negative length!
  • Ask any moderate comics fan who the core members of The Defenders are, and you'll immediately hear "The Incredible Hulk, Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, and Namor the Sub-Mariner." Sometimes they'll add Nighthawk, or maybe Valkyrie. While Strange and Hulk have been on most versions of the Defenders, with Strange usually being the de facto leader, Namor and Surfer quit after just a few issues. People familiar with the original run will tell you that the Defenders never had a consistent lineup, and variously included nearly every hero and some villains active at the time.
    • This is part of the reason that modern revivals of the team tend to get cancelled quickly. As it turns out, not many writers can make the "classic" lineup work, since all the characters involved are grotesquely overpowered and relative loners, but they assume that it has to work because the original comic made it work, right?
  • Similarly, nearly every adaptation of The Avengers either mentions The Incredible Hulk or makes heavy use of him: see The Ultimates, the movie, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, etc. How many issues of the comic was Hulk a part of the team? Two. (He rejoined the team in Avengers vs. X-Men, to capitalize on the movie, but that was a comic written in 2012, and that was the first time he'd ever rejoined.) Flip open a comic from the '60s or '70s, and you're much more likely to see Black Knight, The Vision, Beast, The Incredible Hercules, or Moondragon, none of whom have managed Hulk's prominence on the Avengers in other media. Even Red Hulk has been on the team longer!
  • Wonder Woman's controversial 'I Ching' period was only twenty-five issues of her original run, extended to five years' time-wise by an intermittent publishing schedule. But it was during that period that the In-Name-Only Pilot Movie starring Cathy Lee Crosby was developed, and thereby lead to Lynda Carter's more traditional take being called at first 'The New Original Wonder Woman'. The Pilot Movie is known to even non-comics' fans, the original storyline, not as much, except for Gloria Steinem's denouncement of it.
  • In an early '70s issue of The Brave and the Bold, Catwoman appeared in a new costume and also joined the ranks of the remorseless killers in Batman's rogues gallery. Editors and fans alike denounced this so hard, it was Canon Discontinuity almost as it hit the shelves, and was even declared to happen on an alternate Earth not seen before or since. But Mego made its Catwoman figure based on this new costume, and in the age before endless variants were the norm, this was perhaps the only Catwoman figure made until Batman Returns came out.
    • Costumes can be particularly vulnerable to this, if they're associated with a sufficiently iconic time. For instance, Superman's very earliest appearances sometimes colored the yellow parts of the S-shield black and drew the symbol itself as more of a badge shape. By 1940, this Early Installment Weirdness had largely ended and Superman's outfit was almost indistinguishable from the classic look. Despite this, Darwyn Cooke, when drawing DC: The New Frontier, drew Superman with a black badge outfit to imply the time period... even though Superman had stopped wearing the black badge for over a decade by the time the comic takes place.
  • From the time of his introduction in 1966 until 1987, the Silver Surfer was trapped on Earth by the power of his scorned master, Galactus. This was the prime central fact of the character for two decades. 1987 saw his new series and his freedom, and while his status varies, as of the mid-2010's, this once-ubiquitous fact about the Surfer has been outdated longer than it was ever his premise.
  • Ronald Searle's fame as a cartoonist is still largely defined by his popular cartoon series St. Trinian's. Yet in his long, long, long career which spanned almost half a century how long did St Trinians last as a series? Answer: Only four years! Even Searle himself had a Creator Backlash over the fact that he was still first and foremost remembered for this series, even decades after he drew the final episode. Especially since he drew so many different cartoons and illustrations.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • It would be mighty hard to exaggerate the impact of The Golden Age of Hollywood, but the duration of that era has certainly been subject to exaggeration. Actually, here the trope is both reinforced and subverted. The general consensus is that it lasted from 1930 to 1960 - and some estimates are longer than that, in either direction. But the truth is much more complicated: while talking pictures were already mainstream by the early '30s, Pre-Code Hollywood (1930-1934) was quite different from Post-Code Hollywood (1935 and later); the movies from the two eras look similar, but in content the former era was more political and "ethnic", and placed more emphasis on satire and overall subversiveness than spectacle. Even after 1935, the "classic" era didn't really last too long: it was stalled by World War II (1941-1945) because of all the actors who enlisted or were drafted...and even after the war ended, the film industry was dealt quite a few blows from which it never recovered. A antitrust decision handed down by the Supreme Court in 1948 stripped the studios of much of their influence; and then, in the next decade, competition from both critically acclaimed foreign films and then from television further eroded Hollywood's influence. The Golden Age was effectively over by 1955, with the rise of Method Acting and the popularity (at least in France) of the auteur theory - but of course it lingered on in spirit for at least a decade after that. And that hallowed period of movie history never truly died: even after the New Hollywood era dawned in the late '60s, nostalgia for the Golden Age returned in full force within a few years. To this day, the "classic" films remain culturally prominent and later generations of filmmakers take their cues from them, even if only to mock them.
  • "Blockbuster" movies have not been particularly "cool" (as opposed to "popular", which is not quite the same thing) for a long time now, but if you were to believe some people's memories the entire quarter-century between Jaws (1975) and 9/11 was one long carnival of Hollywood hoopla and goofiness. In truth, the blockbuster mentality reigned unchallenged in Tinseltown for only about a decade or so. Jaws itself, while it was incredibly successful, is not the grotesque horror film people often remember it to be, but primarily a simple and even somber meditation on the battle of man against nature. Star Wars (1977) would seem to be a better candidate - but while the film was an instant hit, it was made on a shoestring budget ($11 million, a small amount even by 1970s standards) and you could argue that it didn't cement its status as a mythic franchise until The Empire Strikes Back was released three years later; the colossal box-office failure of the "art-house" film Heaven's Gate that same year also helped. Blockbuster mania only really swept in around 1984, which saw the beginning of several boffo franchises: Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Terminator, Gremlins. That doesn't even include the solidification of the Indiana Jones franchise with Temple of Doom, or the semi-successful attempt to continue the Conan franchise with Conan the Destroyer. It was during the mid-to-late 1980s that Sequelitis and The Merch became cultural jokes, and the stock complaint that "everything in the movies now is a sequel or a remake or an adaptation of something" began to be heard around this time too. The Blockbuster Era began to die as early as 1994, with the overnight success of the "indie" films Pulp Fiction and Clerks. (the latter of which, ironically, spawned a franchise of sorts in its own right). And, if you choose to lump The '80s and The '90s together in sociocultural terms (as many do), that era did not end with September 11th; many film scholars maintain a new "New Hollywood" era of "artistic" movies (American Beauty, etc.) was in full swing as early as 1999. And even before that, in the wake of the unanimously negative reaction to the cartoony Batman & Robin (1997), tent-pole Hollywood movies - even comic-book ones - were getting less gimmicky and more serious in tone (Blade, The Matrix, X-Men).
  • Star Wars:
    • The Clone Wars have been exhaustively documented in two prequel trilogy movies, an additional feature film, two multiple-season cartoon series, several video games and novels, dozens of comic books...the list goes on. All this for a war that canonically only lasted 3 years. Of course, it did span the better part of a galaxy twice the diameter of our own Milky Way.
    • The Empire itself also qualifies. It only existed for some 20-25 years, depending on what to set as the date of dissolution. In our own world, even the smallest empires have lasted a century or so.
    • Likewise, the original Jedi Order was officially only "dead" for 19 years (not much longer than two presidential administrations) before Luke discovered his Force powers with Obi-Wan's help. For perspective, the original Order had existed for around 25,000 years by the time Palpatine executed Order 66.
  • Grace Kelly's movie career lasted just 5 years (1951 to 1956).
  • James Dean's movie career lasted several years and 3 movies.
  • Bruce Lee's film career included many bit parts in Hong Kong, but he only starred in 4 complete films over a 3 year period (plus Game of Death, which was unfinished).
  • The famous "kissing in the surf" scene in From Here to Eternity has been parodied and homaged a dozen times or more. In the original, it's three seconds long.
  • Batman's career in The Dark Knight Trilogy lasts less than a year, with a few days tacked on after an eight year retirement.
  • Citizen Kane somehow has acquired the reputation of being a very long movie. In fact, it doesn't even hit the two-hour mark (just barely, though: it runs 119 minutes). This is actually more of a generational thing: many movies of the 1930s were less than 90 minutes long (some weren't even 80 minutes long), so Kane seemed interminable by comparison. Kane also covers nearly 70 years of history, so it definitely has an epic feel.
  • The climax of Home Alone, from the clock striking to Harry getting hit with the shovel, lasts under fourteen minutes. This is also pretty much the only scene where Marv and Harry suffer any physical harm. From the way most people remember it and the massive amount of knockoffs featuring near-identical scenes, you'd think the entire movie was just Kevin pranking the bandits. (The sequel, on the other hand...)
  • Nick Fury is one of the more famous roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — yet The Avengers is the only place he has the most screen time, only appearing briefly in one or two scenes in his other appearances.
  • Despite Anthony Hopkins winning an Oscar in the role, Hannibal Lecter doesn't appeared in that many scenes in The Silence of the Lambs.
  • Although most would describe the premise of It's a Wonderful Life as "a dude's guardian angel shows him what the world would be like if he had never been born," this doesn't actually happen until the end of the movie, occupying a fairly short amount of the 2-hour runtime. Most of the movie is actually just showing us all of the sacrifices that George has made during his life and where it has gotten him; his declaration that he wishes he was never born is essentially the beginning of the third act.
  • Bela Lugosi will forever be known as the definitive onscreen portrayer of Count Dracula, which could easily lead one to assume that he appeared in that role in a great many films, but in reality he only did so twice (Dracula (1931) and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein). He was actually more associated with his frequent stage performances as the Count during his lifetime. For comparison, Christopher Lee played Dracula nine times. He was even rumoured to have said that he would play Dracula again if someone would write a film adaptation true to the original Stoker novel... which of course no one did.
  • While the Godzilla series has a 60+ year history, the time period most fans regard as its golden age is actually pretty short. If we narrow it down to the period when all five "Fathers of Godzilla"- director Ishiro Honda, composer Akira Ifukube, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, special effects technician Eiji Tusburaya, and writer Shinichi Sekizawa -were consistently active and the films were consistently financial and critical hits, we end up with only four movies, released from 1962 to 1965- King Kong vs. Godzilla, Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster, and Invasion of Astro-Monster. After that, Honda and Ifukube became less involved in the series, the budgets began to decline rapidly due to Japanese audiences shunning the cinema in favor of color television, and Tsuburaya's unexpected death in 1970 dealt another big blow. Ultimately the original series ended with a whimper in 1975 and, many reboots later, has never quite reached the acclaim or popularity it had in the early 60s.
  • The image of Clint Eastwood as the poncho-clad, cigar-smoking "Man With No Name" has become such a monolith of the western genre that a misconception has arisen that Eastwood played the character for decades in many different films, but in reality the Dollars Trilogy directed by Sergio Leone is the only time he played that exact role- three movies, three years. Hang 'Em High, High Plains Drifter, Pale Rider, and Unforgiven are commonly mistaken as being additional chapters of the Man With No Name's mythical story (sometimes even the DVD packaging makes this claim) but Eastwood plays distinct characters in all of them.
  • A particularly thrilling action sequence in a film may be so memorable that it seems longer than its actual running time; an "epic" score on the soundtrack certainly helps.
    • A good example is the tank chase through the desert in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It takes up eight minutes of screen time...but it's so momentous and packed with action (at one point the shots are alternating within a second or so of each other) that it seems twice as long.
    • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, the iconic scene with the rolling boulder lasts less than twenty seconds.

  • The Regency only lasted 9 years, from 1811-20. Yet according to the romance novel industry, at least half of England's peerage and gentry must have gotten married during this time.
  • Conan the Barbarian left Cimmeria at the age of 17 and became King of Aquilonia by his forties. Considering that most of the countless stories and comic books about his adventures are set between those dates, he never had a day out.
  • Kir Bulychov's ''Alisa Selezneva'' is a similar example. There are dozens of novels and stories about her, and she is almost never described as below 8 or above 12. It makes for some very eventful four years.
  • Don Quixote exists in two Parts and most of the information people have about the book comes from say the first 150 pages of the first part of the book that includes the famous windmill episode among others. The more ironic and deconstructive second part is not very well known by comparison.
  • A stereotypical parody/homage of Harry Potter will feature Harry and friends attending Hogwarts while at the same time a corporeal Lord Voldemort is openly fighting to Take Over the World. These things only happen at the same time in one of the seven books, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Interestingly, some parodies featuring this, such as Potter Puppet Pals, actually predate the publication of Half-Blood Prince. The main reason it exists is that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire had featured Voldemort's resurrection, leaving audiences three years to assume that the obvious next step was open warfare until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix featured him undercover and infiltrating the Ministry. Furthermore, few people guessed that the final book in the series, two years after Half-Blood Prince, would feature Harry mostly away from Hogwarts. Because of these factors, "corporeal Voldemort openly battles Harry at school" remained the common assumption of what the next book would be about for seven years, in a series that went on for ten - while the parody was only realized once, the assumption behind it had been around for most of the series's lifespan.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mash and Young Riders both were on the air longer than the historical events they portrayed - the Korean War and the Pony Express, respectively. The latter was obsolete a month after it was founded due to the telegraph, and only lasted eighteen months.
  • The classic Batman TV series lasted from 1966 to 1968 — somehow, it ended up forming everyone's opinion of the caped crusader (active from 1939 to present).
  • Star Trek: The Original Series is the best-known Star Trek series, but it was also the shortest-lived of the five live-action Trek series, staying on the air for less than three years (September 1966 to June 1969). Its ubiquity in reruns in The '70s (and the vibrant Trekkie culture that emerged during this time period) created the impression that it ran for much longer - as late as 1983, in Leonard Nimoy's Star Trek Memories TV special, he claims that many viewers believe that the show is still running.
    • Also, the fact that its famous "five-year mission" apparently lasted long enough to include a virtually limitless number of stories from television, books, comics, etc. In this case it helps that the end (and the beginning, for that matter) of the five-year mission has never been depicted in canon - Star Trek: The Motion Picture picks up some years after the end of it.
  • Chevy Chase was a cast member on Saturday Night Live for just over a year.
    • Same for Billy Crystal, Martin Short, and Christopher Guest.
  • Pointed out in an episode of Horrible Histories, where the cowboys sing about how they "only ruled the range for 20 years."
  • Police Squad! ran for only six(!) episodes, and yet somehow those episodes managed to inspire the enormously successful trilogy of The Naked Gun movies several years later. Of course, part of what made the Naked Gun films such a hit was that Police Squad was one of the definitive Too Good to Last shows.
  • A stereotypical Doctor Who Shallow Parody will often involve Tom Baker's Doctor battling the Daleks—something that only happened in two stories that aired six years apart in a 50+ year Long Runner, and only one of which ("Genesis of the Daleks") is considered particularly memorable. The misconception likely stems from the common assumption that the most iconic Doctor and the most iconic monsters had to have fought each other more than twice, even though they didn't.
  • Owing to British Brevity, influential Britcoms and other series are almost always subject to this:
    • Fawlty Towers is widely considered one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. Only twelve episodes were ever produced.
    • Likewise The Young Ones, an enormously influential sitcom for which only twelve episodes were produced.
    • Father Ted (set in Ireland but produced by Channel 4) ran for three years in which only 24 episodes were produced, and yet is widely considered the greatest Irish sitcom ever made, launched the careers of dozens of actors and comedians and is still endlessly quoted and referenced in Ireland nearly twenty years after the end of its run.

  • The Notorious B.I.G. only recorded two studio albums during his life, both with Harsher in Hindsight titles. Ready To Die was released in 1994 with Life After Death following three years later, less than a month after the rapper's death. Most of his best known songs ("Juicy," "Hypnotize," "Big Poppa," "One More Chance," "Mo Money Mo Problems") come off of those albums.
  • Almost all of the musical works Kurt Weill wrote in collaboration with Bertolt Brecht were created between 1927 and 1930. The Seven Deadly Sins (1933) is the only significant exception.
  • The notion of rock and roll being "the Devil's music", which supposedly dominated the 1950s, was, in historical terms, over almost as soon as it began. Rock-and-roll music penetrated the American consciousness for the first time on March 19, 1955 - the day The Blackboard Jungle was released in theaters. Less than 25 months later, on April 10, 1957, Ricky Nelson performed Fats Domino's "I'm Walkin'" on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, signalling that rock and roll had fully entered the mainstream. While parents still didn't like rock music after that, they understood that, if Ozzie and Harriet could give it their stamp of approval, it must not be a social menace after all, and were at least able to tolerate it.
  • The Sex Pistols, credited with starting the Punk Rock movement, were together initially for only 2 1/2 years, produced four singles and one album.
    • Sid Vicious, practically the Face of the Band, was with the band for such a short time that they only recorded about 3 songs with him.
    • If you view the releases of the debut album, Ramones of The Ramones and London Calling by The Clash as the bookends of the classic punk era, it lasted just 44 months (April 1976 to December 1979). And since punk rock didn't gain mainstream-media attention until late 1977 at the earliest, the era was effectively even shorter.
  • Buddy Holly's music career lasted a year and a half until his death in a plane crash.
  • Nirvana's mainstream popularity lasted about 3 years before Kurt Cobain's suicide ended the band. After Cobain's death the popularity of the band rose to even greater levels. Their posthumous releases easily outnumber the releases they made when he was alive.
  • Considering how strongly associated they are with the subject, The Beach Boys only sang about surfing from November 1961 to July 1963 (less than two years). The main reason it lasted that long at all was because Capitol Records and Murry Wilson constantly urged them for new material and they wrote new songs on the subject to pad out the three albums they did in that period (most evident on the second album Surfin USA). Even though they have been widely recognised as mature artists since Pet Sounds, they're still viewed as a band of surfers by the general public.
  • The "classic" Guns N' Roses released three original albums (Appetite for Destruction and the Use Your Illusion twins), a Cover Album and a compilation mixing an EP with some new songs before the band was effectively over, yet similar to the Nirvana example they have been treated like they went on for years. A few years later Axl revived the band on his own, but not only for most it's Fanon Discontinuity (specially as aside from keyboardist Dizzy Reed and a cameo every now and then, only him remained from the golden years), he took 11 years to make an album.
  • The Spice Girls had maybe a grand total of 6 years together with 3 albums, 2 with the entire group, and two tours to their name.
  • Delta Goodrem, despite her immense success and opening the door for singer songwriters in Australia, has only had 4 albums out in the last 10-11 years. Influenced the likes of Gabriella Cilmi and Missy Higgins.
  • Amy Winehouse only released two albums in her lifetime, yet despite this she inspired and paved the way for arguably the most successful female singer songwriters of her generation. Adele, Lady Gaga, Paloma Faith, Rebecca Ferguson, Emili Sande, Jessie J, Duffy and Florence Welch have all personally cited Amy Winehouse as both a huge influence on their music as well as for paving the way for them and making it easier for them to enjoy huge success all over the world.
  • Disco's heyday was just a flash, it didn't enter the mainstream until 1974 and it wasn't until 1977 that most hits associated it with it came out along with Saturday Night Fever. Disco Demolition Night meanwhile was in 1979 just two years later, and by the end of 1980 it had all but faded entirely.
  • The era of "classic rock" - defined here as all non-psychedelic, non-metal, non-"alternative" hard rock of The '60s and The '70s - began on April 16, 1964 with the release of the Rolling Stones' first album and ended on October 28, 1977 with the release of Never Mind the Bollocks by the Sex Pistols; The Eagles' Hotel California, released ten months before Bollocks, is perhaps the last truly great album of the classic era. That's 162 months - less than 20 percent of the entire span of time between the bombing of Hiroshima and now. But you'd be forgiven for thinking that era lasted until the 1990s or even later, judging by the continuous lionizing and pop-cultural appropriation of the classic bands for decades afterward - not to mention the condemnation and even outright ignoring of post-1977 hard rock by much of the mainstream music media.
  • Cream lasted from July 1966 to November 1968, but produced four studio albums, one a Distinct Double Album with a live disc, the other a posthumously released album also partially recorded live, and a number of posthumous live releases. However, in tht time, they became one of the most influential bands of The '60s.
  • Similarly, Jimi Hendrix in his lifetime only managed to produce three studio albums (one a double disc), several standalone tracks released as singles, an album of live-recorded originals with Band Of Gypsys, and a large catalogue of unreleased and unfinished material, live recordings, demos, runthroughs, rehearsals, jam sessions, session work, sittings-in with various artiststs, alternate takes, etc. which still (as of December 2013) have yet to be fully unearthed and released. And his highly influential and revolutionary career as an artist in his own right only lasted from September 1966-September 1970; his last official album release came out in 1969. And that's not counting his pre-Experience career.
  • David Bowie's star-making stage persona Ziggy Stardust came and went in less than two years. He toured as Ziggy from January 29, 1972 to July 3, 1973, during which time the The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Aladdin Sane albums were released. By the end of 1973, he'd jettisoned his Spiders from Mars backing band, with the British Invasion Cover Album Pin Ups and the 1980 Floor Show TV special featuring them, and while the Ziggy look persisted for a while afterward, by the 1974 Diamond Dogs tour he'd left that behind too.
    • Even shorter-lived than Ziggy is the Thin White Duke persona, even though Bowie's post-glitter career is often equated with it. The Duke was created for the barely LP length Station to Station and Bowie toured in character for a few months. Then he moved to Berlin to clean up from his prodigious drug use, effectively starting the next phase.
  • They've now got major legs - perhaps forever, or at least until the group's core members die - thanks to the Nostalgia Filter, but Kiss were at the top of the rock-music charts for a relatively short time. They didn't gain a mass fanbase until late 1975, hit the peak of their popularity in the summer of 1977, and were already slumping by 1979. Since then, they've had only scattered success as recording artists, notably Lick It Up in 1983 and Psycho Circus in 1998.
  • Janis Joplin recorded four albums in three years—two with Big Brother and the Holding Company, and two as a solo artist. She became a star with the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and was dead three years later.
  • That most 1980s of pop-music styles, Hair Metal, more or less corresponded to the stereotypical Eighties decade itself (see below). Its beginning is often marked by Quiet Riot's release of Metal Health in 1983 (although QR were arguably less the first of the hair bands than they were the last of the "arena-rock" bands a la {{Kiss}} and {{Aerosmith}}), and its ending by Guns N' Roses' Deconstruction of the hair lifestyle, Appetite For Destruction, in 1987. While the subgenre continued to be popular until about 1991 or so (and for that matter, there were songs from as early as 1975-1976 that could pass for Hair Metal), after 1987 it was very hard to take the hair scene seriously anymore.
  • "New Wave" music manages to be both this and Longer Than They Think. Many people are not aware that the style developed surprisingly early in The '70s, there are some very '80s-sounding songs out there that are actually from 1978 or 1979. On the other hand, the New Wave craze did not last until the end of the '80s; by 1986 it was already pretty old-hat.
  • Joy Division were only around for three years (owing to Author Existence Failure) in which they produced a mere two albums, and yet they more or less invented the Post-Punk genre, paved the way for Goth Rock while they were at it, and served as an enormous influence on innumerable artists in the Alternative Rock genre and beyond. For only one of those three years did they gain any mainstream media attention, beginning with part of an NME magazine cover in January 1979, through to May 1980, were featured briefly on a few television guest spots, and only gigged outside of the UK on a few occasions; their 1979 tour was supporting Buzzcocks, and the last ever show being in a university student union.
  • The unbelievably influential proto-punk band New York Dolls only existed in a meaningful sense from 1971-75 and only released two proper albums and a couple albums of demo material. The band reunited in 2004, but the bassist, Arthur Kane, died shortly after the reunion, leaving only two surviving members: David Johansen (singer) and Sylvain Sylvain (rhythm guitar). During their brief career, the New York Dolls inspired everyone from The Sex Pistols to Motley Crue, and without them, it's safe to say that punk and glam would look very different.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical authors calculated the dates of the foundation and destruction of mythical Troy: it stood for less than a century.
  • The Odyssey devotes Books 9-12 of a twenty-four-book epic to the part of Odysseus's journey between him leaving Troy and him washing up on the shores of Ogygia. This entire narrative is a single flashback and contains nearly all of the iconic events of the story: the Lotus Eaters, the Cyclops, the Land of the Dead, Scylla and Charybdis, Circe, Aeolus, and so on. Most retellings of the story stretch it from one-sixth of the story to about 80% of it.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The "Attitude Era" was relatively brief, lasting almost exactly four years. What's weirder is that it's often cited as the phenomenon that epitomized WWE in The '90s, although the first stirrings of it didn't occur until the decade was already half over! It didn't officially begin until Bret Hart and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin had their main-event match at WrestleMania XIII in March 1997, and ended abruptly in March 2001 when WCW and ECW were purchased by WWE and Austin shockingly joined forces with Vince McMahon and Triple H.
  • In his autobiography Controversy Creates Cash, Eric Bischoff brags that WCW Monday Nitro regularly beat WWE Raw in the Nielsen ratings. This happened for only about two years - in other words, less than half the time span during which these two shows were competing.
  • Many major wrestling angles in the modern era wrap up after a surprisingly brief amount of time, largely because the belief Viewers Are Goldfish. The huge "Immortal" angle in TNA, for example, lasted only about a year and a half; for context, WCW's New World Order (the stable that directly inspired Immortal), lasted twice that long.

  • The entirety of Romeo and Juliet covers just five days, from Sunday morning to Thursday evening. The two lovers meet on Sunday night, get married on Monday, part on Tuesday morning, and kill themselves on Thursday.

    Video Games 
  • The classic Sega vs. Nintendo war only really lasted for about five years. While one could argue that the first strike was the "Sega Does What Nintendon't" campaign in 1990, the Sega Genesis was still toiling in Mainstream Obscurity until the release of Sonic the Hedgehog in June of 1991. And the actual "war" didn't start until the launch of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States in September of that year. The war began to subside as early as late 1994 and was pretty much over by 1996, with the Sega Saturn doing poorly in the market and the release of the PlayStation in 1995.

    Western Animation 
  • The Jetsons' original run was one season, 1962-63, 24 episodes. More weren't made until The '80s.
  • Recess lasted from 1997 to 2001 with 65 episodes, one theatrical film in 2001, and three direct-to-video titles released between 2001 and 2003. Because Disney never acknowledged the show ending and promoted it as much as the shows still making new episodes after its cancellation, many fans believe it ran until at least 2006.
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is another Disney example. It originally ran from 1988 to 1991 on ABC (and during the 1989-90 season it was the Gummi Bears/Winnie-the-Pooh Hour), but over the course of the 90s and into the mid 2000s, it was reran seemingly infinitely until about 2006- notably, aside from Recess (just up above), it was the only show to last the length of One Saturday Morning (primarily to fill up the E/I quota for ABC stations). And there so many Pooh-related videos released in the 90s too, so it's likely many people thought it went on wayyy longer than it did (at least three generations probably remember the intro theme due to this).
  • Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat ran in 2001-2002 for about 13 months with 40 episodes, but seemed to last well into the 2000's thanks to being rerun on PBS for quite a few years after it ended.
  • Considering how universally beloved Wallace & Gromit is, it often winds up being a shock (particularly for American fans) to discover that (not counting Shaun the Sheep) the series produced four twenty-to-thirty-minute short films, plus an eighty-five-minute movie - a total of just barely over three hours of footage, shorter than many movies. It's not uncommon for people to assume that what they've seen of Wallace and Gromit is just a few episodes of a lengthy TV series, as opposed to most or all of their output. Of course, Aardman has an excuse on top of British Brevity: stop-motion is hard.

    Real Life 
  • While the city of Babylon had been in existence for thousands of years, the Chaldean Neo-Babylonian Empire only lasted from 612-539 B.C., and the empire was already in considerable decline for a number of years before it fell. The entirety of what popular culture considers "Ancient Babylon" including the Hanging Gardens, Ishtar Gate, etc. all came from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (reigned c. 605-562 BC). After he died, it all went to seed.
  • Classical Greece: While Greece has a history of thousands of years, almost all of the non-mythical people and events that the average person can name are from 500 to 300 B.C. This includes the rise of Athenian "democracy", the Greco-Persian Wars (when 300 is set), and the rise of Alexander the Great. Most of the ancient writers whose texts have survived to the present day (excluding Homer) had overlapping lifespans. The United States has already been a republic for longer than Athens was a democracy. This might be from a tendency by the average person to conflate Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome (the latter of which did go on for quite some time).
  • The "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World" were simultaneously intact for 21 years, 247-226 BC. The Colossus of Rhodes in particular was an intact statue for 66 years and a pile of rubble for 880 years.
  • Rome is not free of this either. For example, almost every Roman soldier in fiction will wear Lorica Segmentata, a type of armor that was on production from roughly 20 to 300 AD. Compare it with what legionaries wore in the Samnite Wars (4th century BC), Punic Wars (264-146 BC) and the late empire (300-450 AD). The late Roman Army was in fact very "Medieval" looking, with a lot more reliance on cavalry hailing from stone fortresses than on the famed legions of earlier periods. In general, fictional depictions of Rome tend to be concentrated on the very late Republic or the early Empire. Most Roman Epics were set between about 70 BC (Spartacus) and about 50 AD (I, Claudius). A very brief period considering the whole history from the founding of the Republic to the fall of the Empire in the West (and longer if you count the Eastern Empire, which continued for another millennium).
  • A lot of people get the wrong impression that Muslim Spain was only the Caliphate of Cordoba (or even worse, the Kingdom of Granada) and as a result think that it was a splendid, unified and tolerant state during the whole period of 800 years between Tariq ibn Ziyah's invasion and the Christian conquest of Granada. In reality, the Caliphate itself only existed between 929 and 1031, and it was downright decadent from 976. Before 929 it was an emirate, not as powerful or splendorous for most of its existence as in the Caliphal period (and quite a bit chaotic during its first decades of existence, by the way), and after 1031 it dissolved in petty statelets that were controlled from time to time by their Christian or (North African) Muslim neighbours and life could be quite nasty there sometimes. The 'Reconquista' itself could be considered another example of this trope, as it actually ended de facto in the 1250s when Ferdinand III of Castile conquered the entire Guadalquivir Valley and Granada became a Castilian protectorate.
  • Many of the classic elements commonly associated with The Middle Ages, such as plate armor, longswords, infrequent bathing, etc. were only around in the The Late Middle Ages. Even worse, some things associated with the Middle Ages are actually from The Renaissance. For instance, European witch-hunting peaked during the Renaissance, not the Middle Ages.
  • Out of over a hundred years of The Hundred Years War, most plays, films etc. focus on Henry V's Agincourt campaign (1415), Joan of Arc's active involvement (1429-1430, 15 months) and her trial (1431, 3 months).
  • For most of their existence the Aztecs did not have an empire. They were vassals of other Nahua cities up to 1428 and only began to expand in the 1440s. Thus, when the Spaniards showed up in 1519, the Aztec Empire was less than 100 years old and many of its provinces had been held for less than 20 years. Many of the men who fought for Cortés were actually rival natives looking for a rematch.
  • Similarly the Inca Empire, Tawantinsuyu, was also less than 100 years old (1438 - 1533), having entered a period of rapid expansion which had been still going on just before the Spaniards showed up, put on hold as they entered a civil war over who would be Sapa Inca (caused by an epidemic of smallpox that beat the Spanish). As a result, once Pizarro was able to capture Atuhualpa (many spelling variations), who had recently won (and ordered his opponent, Huascar killed) and decided to kill him, they were able to lead many natives against the remaining Inca leadership. Unsurprising as they deliberately tried to emulate Cortés.
  • The American (i.e. USA) Colonial Period can count as well. Disregarding earlier Spanish settlements in Florida and the Rio Grande valley - as US schoolbook history tends to - the era lasted from the founding of the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown in 1607, until the official end of the Revolutionary War in 1783. For those keeping score, that's 176 years. By contrast, Mexico was a Spanish colony for exactly 300 years, Cuba for nearly 400, and Bermuda has been a British colony for even longer than that.
    • Also, for most of colonial American history there were fewer colonies than the Thirteen who broke away from Britain in The American Revolution. Georgia was founded in 1733, a mere 42 years before the Revolution started. At the time of independence, the founder of Georgia, James Oglethorpe, was still alive, as were many of the original settlers. There's a reason that most of the South was Loyalist right up to the end of the war.
  • The "classic" pirate era lasted about thirty years, from around 1680 to 1710. Blackbeard and Anne Bonney were a little after this, 1718 or so.
    • Granted, most "pirates" had been privateers in the British or French Navy before that, and the buccaneer communities in Hispaniola date back to at least 1630.
  • The "Antebellum" Deep South: While technically, perhaps, the term antebellum could mean all of U.S. history before 1860, what most people think of as The Old South, with a cotton-based economy and big white-columned plantations everywhere, was mostly from about 1830 until The American Civil War. 31 years. Less than one person's lifetime. Outside the "tidewater" coastal areas, much of the South was not even settled by whites until after the War of 1812. For example, the Atlanta that burned in Gone with the Wind had not existed in any form at all before 1836, had been called that only since 1847, became a city of any importance only a few years before the war started, and wasn't even Georgia's capital until a few years after the war ended (Georgia has had more places serve as capital than most other states; immediately prior to the American Civil War, the capital was in the tiny town of Millidgeville, and Macon briefly served as the capital in between the two).
    • This was only Truth in Television on the Atlantic Coast - particularly Virginia - and the Gulf Coast (and a few waystations along the major rivers), which is probably where the idea of associating it with the entire South came from. Even in the coastal areas, it was perfectly possible for a person to live from the time cotton began to be grown widely (a little after the cotton gin was invented in 1793) all the way to the time of the American Civil War. This is, admittedly, a little misleading; before cotton was king, tobacco was tops.
      • Robert E. Lee's father had fought in The American Revolution (Robert was a child of his old age) — though contrary to popular belief, his father was not the Founding Father Richard Henry Lee.
      • Abraham Lincoln was a teenager when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died, and indeed, Jefferson was still president (though a lame duck) when Lincoln was born.
  • The Whig Party gets quite a bit of historical attention, but it was dissolved only 27 years after its creation (in 1833), which puts its existence at not only less than a fifth of the entire existence of the Democratic or Republican Parties but also less than the careers of many current Congressmen and Senators. This isn't surprising since when the party was formed it didn't have much of a unifying platform beyond opposition to Andrew Jackson. Once Jackson retired from office the party lost its purpose and became nothing more than a bunch of squabbling factions incapable of governing effectively. Of the four Whig Presidents, none served a full term, and John Tyler, who held the office the longest, was opposed by most Whigs. The leading Whig Senators Henry Clay and Daniel Webster did succeed in passing the Compromise of 1850, but their party split on the issue, and Clay and Webster dying two years later only hastened the party's disintegration.
  • Inversion: the period of massive immigration to the United States is often perceived as having begun in the 1880s or 1890s and having been largely over by World War One. Actually, there was steady migration from north-western Europe throughout which was supplemented by a burgeoning surge from the 1850s to the 1900s and a relative decline thereafter. However, there were still far more immigrants immigrating post-war than ever before, despite the bans on non-European immigration. Immigration has never dropped below the pre-surge level since the surge ended, even though white people no longer made up the majority of immigrants when non-whites were again allowed in post-WWII. The reason the immigrants from the turn of the century are discussed in American History classes is because from about The Fifties to The '70s (and beyond in some parts of the country), most Americans were either the children or grandchildren of these particular immigrants, and so they were more interested in the ones from Europe than from, say, Mexico.
  • The French Revolution on the whole lasted for ten years (1789-1799) where several successive governments attempted to form and centralize authority, sandwiched between an absolute monarchy and an Empire that was even more absolute than anything that came before. The most famous/notorious phase of the revolution, centering on the Reign of Terror lasted a single year (1793-1794). Maximilien Robespierre despite being one of the most controversial and notorious figures in history, only held direct power for 11 months and even then he had to share it with other members of the Committee of Public Safety.
    • On that note, Napoleon Bonaparte ruled France, first as Consul than as Emperor, for 16 years and then hundred days before his defeat at Waterloo. In other words he only ruled slightly longer than the First French Republic that came before and the same number of years as the French Restoration (1815-1830) that came after. Indeed his nephew Napoleon III, regarded by most historians and contemporary commentators as a Poor Man's Substitute actually ruled for 19 years, three longer than his uncle. His Empire arguably had a bigger role in shaping contemporary France and Europe than his uncle, it played a major role in the rise of Imperial Germany, the rebuilding and modernization of Paris, the arrival of the Industrial Revolution in France and the birth of an alliance between France and England that shaped the world wars of the 20th Century, but most people still regard him as The Scrappy.
    • The 1871 Paris Commune lasted between 18th March-28th May, little over two months, and yet is regarded by many leftists as Glory Days and regarded by Communists as the first socialist government. It's remembered mostly for its infamous bloody week where as many people were killed as the Reign of Terror that lasted for a year, and the rioting by the Communards which burnt down famous monuments such as the Tuilleries Palace and the Hotel de Ville. On the whole the French Political System is Overshadowed by Awesome. Most people would know of Robespierre and Napoleon and the Fifth Republic of Charles De Gaulle, thanks largely to their larger than life personalities, but few are aware of the Third French Republic which lasted for 70 years (1870-1940), to this date the longest serving government in France since the fall of the Ancien Regime.
  • The Pony Express lasted about a year and a half between launch and being obsoleted by the telegraph. That is from 1860 to 1861 (the first year of The American Civil War). It was never profitable.
  • The Wild West: While there are Westerns that take place both before and after, most Westerns take place between the end of the The American Civil War and 1890, the year the US Census Bureau declared the frontier "closed": 25 years. Western-themed TV series like Gunsmoke ran for so long that their depiction of this period borders on Medieval Stasis, which is ironic considering that the whole reason this era was an exciting fictional setting in the first place was that it was a time of great change.
  • The zenith of European colonial empires in Africa only lasted two or three generations. A hypothetical African who was born between 1870 and 1880 and died in 1960 or later would have remembered their childhood before the Europeans arrived, lived through the entire colonial period, and died in an independent country.note  This was obvious at the time because it was called the Scramble For Africa. In 1870, only 10% of Africa was European. by 1900, only Liberia and Ethiopia were left independent (and the Italians invaded Ethiopia later, while Liberia had begun as a colony and was still dominated by "Americo-Liberians"note  until 1980). However, it also lasted a lot longer than you might think as France and Britain still owned most of Africa as late as 1960 and Portugal never gave up their colonies until the 1970's.
  • The 1857 Mutiny or the 1857 Uprising lasted for a single year, but is often remembered in India as the birth of Indian nationalism. In the space of that year, Vestigial Empire like the Maratha Confederacy and the Mughal Empire became Deader Than Dead and the East India Company was removed from India as a result of its incompetence. Indeed India only officially became part of the British Empire under direct administration from the British Parliament, after 1858, and with Independence in 1947, ruled over the subcontinent for a period shorter than the East India Company (1757-1858) by ten tears.
    • Mahatma Gandhi's most active and influential period of political activity took place between 1919-1940 but thanks to his personality and Historical Hero Upgrade, a lot of other more important and influential leaders get Overshadowed by Awesome. At the time of his assassination, his political influence had already been in decline, since he was at heart a community organizer and protestor rather than a holder of political office. His tragic death made him Too Good for This Sinful Earth for the rest of time.
  • The gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone (1881) lasted about 30 seconds or so in real life. Most depictions of it stretch it out to several minutes because of its legendary status.
  • The gold standard was the international monetary standard for only about 40 years, from the 1890s through the 1930s, give or take a few years depending on the country—shorter than the fiat system currently in place. Prior to that, most countries operated on the silver (or in the case of the US, bimetallic) standard.
    • Though the system of Bretton Woods that was instituted in 1944 was essentially a gold standard on paper and was only rescinded by Richard Nixon, essentially killing any even theoretic possibility of the US Dollar having a fixed value in gold Deader Than Dead.
  • America was only in World War I for about a year officially, from April 1917 to November, 1918. It ended as soon as the army turned up in Europe, though that's because Imperial Germany risked and lost everything on the Ludendorff Offensive because they knew they needed to win before the US Army arrived.
  • The Mongol Empire. It started from coronation of Temujin as Genghis Khan 1208 (died 1227), reached its high water mark 1254 under Möngke, and began to disintegrate after his death 1259. The last accepted Great Khan, Kubilai, proved to be a weak ruler and an alcoholic, and after his death 1279, the Mongol empire was no more. The successor states lingered on for some generations.
  • Russian Communism from Red October to Mikhail Gorbachev was only 74 years, that is 1917 to 1991.
    • The actual Soviet Union lasted for only 69 years, since it wasn't founded until 1922. In other words, less than one-fourth as long as the Romanov dynasty (1613 — 1917, 304 years). It was possible for an individual born under the last Czar to live to see the breakup of the Soviet Union, for instance, Lazar Kaganovich (the last surviving dignitary of the Russian Revolutionary regime) who died a month before the breakup of the USSR. Also, Sergey Mikhalkov, the author of the lyrics to both the anthem of the USSR and the post-Communist anthem of the Russian Federation, was born in 1913 and died in 2009. Incidentally, Gorbachev was the only Soviet leader to be born in the Soviet Union. All his predecessors were born in the Russian Empire. Likewise, the experience of Communism from Estonia down to the area that now constitutes Poland only lasted 44 years, c. 1945 to 1990.
    • Vladimir Lenin held political office between 1918-1924, and spent the final year out of office because of incoming dementia. This meant that he had the shortest period in office of any premier of the USSR and any office holder of the Russian Federation. This also meant that he had a far smaller role in shaping his government than any major communist revolutionary such as Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh or Fidel Castro (who has ruled far longer than Lenin, Stalin and Mao).
    • While Josef Stalin has rightly become known for his purges and his mercurial mood, the period of his purges lasted between 1936-1938. He had already ruled the USSR since 1924 for a good 12 years before then. Barring isolated incidents such as the Katyn Massacre and the Doctor's Plot towards the end of his life, a lot of his career was purge-free though still highly repressive and draconian.
  • Al Capone was leader of the Chicago Outfit for 6 years (1925-1931).
  • Inversion: the Great Crash of 1929 was not the sudden and screeching halt to the Roaring Twenties it is typically depicted as in fiction. The Great Crash of 1929 only set The Great Depression in motion, the American economy stagnating until hitting rock bottom in 1933; the wave of major bank failures began in Fall 1930 and went on for several years. The Roaring Twenties were a time of burgeoning problems covered up by prosperity, or the illusion thereof, which served to make the collapse seem far more sudden than it really was.
    • That said, the popular image of The Flapper, with her short hair and short dresses and long beaded necklaces only went mainstream for only a couple of years from 1926 to 1928; before and after that, her imagery had a leaner and longer silhouette. The Charleston dance, too, didn't come along until relatively late in the decade.
    • Anyone with a passing knowledge of Southern United States history comes away with a very different picture than just New York ticker-tape and the Kansas dust bowl. In the South, the Depression started earlier and lasted longer. This was in many ways a long-term consequence of to the Cotton boom of the previous century and its traumatic ending. Not for nothing did Franklin D. Roosevelt dub The South the USA's 'Economic Problem Number One'.
  • The Empire State Building was only the tallest building in the world for 36 years, from 1931, when it surpassed the Chrysler Building note  to 1967, when the Ostankino Tower was completed. Even so, forty years is a good long time when you consider that the title of "world's tallest building" moves around every few years now.
    • Inversely, the builders of the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada in 1976 thought it would be surpassed as the world's tallest freestanding structure relatively shortly. Instead, the decline in the need for broadcast towers meant that it kept that title for 34 years.
  • Japan was only a brutal expansionist military dictatorship with an utter disregard for human life ruled by an unstable Army-Navy Junta from the late 1920s until 1945. Before then it was a run-of-the-mill weak democracy with strong military, business, and criminal elements.
    • Moreover the Japanese Army was only an Axe Crazy Blood Knight institution from the late 1920s until 1945. Killing POW and civilians for fun would have been unthinkable in the 1895 Sino-Japanese War and frowned upon in the 1905 Russo-Japanese War, but was perfectly acceptable from 1937 onward.
  • Germany is a nice series of contrasts:
    • For the great majority of its history, Germany as it exists today was politically divided and it was only under the age of Otto von Bismarck that it achieved this unity and that unity ended with the arrival of the Cold War and partition of East and West Germany. The German Empire lasted less than fifty years, from 1871 to 1918—across the reigns of just three Kaisers, one of whom (Frederick III) only reigned for three months. And since the Empire's successor, the Weimar Republic, lasted just fifteen years, a child born in independent Prussia or Bavaria easily could have lived to see the rise of the Nazi Party before the age of 65.
    • Nazi Germany controlled Germany for twelve years, 1933 to 1945, shorter than Weimar Germany that preceded it and greatly exceeded by the sucessive governments of West and East Germany, as well as the government of United Germany (1990-the date of this writing) and yet everyone still feels that All Germans Are Nazis. The Berlin Wall itself stood for 28 years, August 13 1961 to November 9 1989. People usually think it is longer because they conflate the wall with the Iron Curtain.
    • The Holocaust is rightfully seen as the central legacy of Nazism. However, about 70-80% of the victims were killed between mid-1941 and mid-1943. This is when half the Soviet POW died of starvation and exposure in open-air camps while they were deciding what to do with them, and the bulk of the Undesirables who were not useful for war-work were euthanised to save on food (for feeding them enough to prevent rebellion) and manpower (for guarding them) demands. The other half of the Soviet POW died as overworked and underfed slaves in factories, and the fit-for-work Undesirables who became unfit for work (or simply could not be protected from the SS by their employers and the local authorities) were euthanised in mid-1943 to mid-1945 period.
  • Stuff about World War II made in the United States always starts after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and many are set from D-Day onward, unless they're for the fringe market of Eastern Front enthusiasts. The period from D-Day to V-E day, when most American-made WWII works are set, was only 11 months, June 1944 to May 1945. This is probably a subtrope of America Saves the Day.
    • Fighting on the Chinese Front (i.e., the Second Sino-Japanese War) began in 1937.
    • The PRC and ROC have made claims of WWII starting, undeclared, as early as 1931 - when the Imperial Japanese military invaded Manchuria.
    • The "Flying Tigers" fighter squadron (The 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Air Force) only existed from December 1941 until July 1942 when they were reabsorbed back into the USAAC. This has not stopped various movies and television shows portraying the Flying Tigers as having existed for years, often taking the origin of the Tigers back into the mid 1930s. One such program, Tales of the Gold Monkey, portrayed veterans of the Flying Tigers as having left in the late 1930s to find adventure elsewhere.
  • The Apartheid Era system of white minority rule that existed in South Africa, Namibia, and Rhodesia (the southern district of which constitutes modern Zimbabwe) can qualify. Although life for local black Africans in these areas was far from pleasant during the colonial era, most of South Africa (settled by Europeans long before the other two) was in local hands (some black, some white) for much of the 19th Century. The whole of South Africa was conquered by Britain by 1902, and given independence as the Union of South Africa in 1910. Sure, the rulers were white, but "Empire" =/= "rule by white people".
    • Apartheid as a legal framework came into being in South Africa after the Afrikaner-run National Party won the Parliamentary elections in 1948, and it ended with the first multiracial elections in 1994 - just over 45 years. South Africa imposed the system on South-West Africa (modern Namibia, a former German colony) in 1966, and kept it in place until Namibian independence in 1990 - 24 years. The white minority of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) saw what their South African comrades were doing, thought it was a great idea, and adopted it themselves when they declared unilateral independence in 1965, and it remained on the books until the end of minority rule in 1980 - 15 years. Although with that last one was a doozy...
  • It's worth noting that Red China has been reforming (1979-present) longer than it was ruled by Mao Zedong's version of Communism (1949-1979).
  • The "British Invasion" began around 1964-65 and ended by late 1967, while the "Cool Britannia" fad lasted between 1996-7 and 1999..
  • The whole flowers-and-drugs Swinging Sixties was this in England. It lasted for the summer of 1968 for a very few people before realiseing they had lives and careers to get on with.
    • The authentic San Francisco/Haight-Ashbury hippie scene similarly only lasted around a year and a half (spring 1966 to autumn 1967).
    • The overall psychedelic period lasted much shorter than popular culture often depicts. Depending on what gets casually called "psychedelic" (long hair on men, colorful clothing, etc.), many people born after about 1960 seem to think it lasted well into the '70s or even later. Here's how it breaks down: experienced its first stirrings in 1965 (at least with respect to the drug culture, since the style of music had been heard intermittently in earlier years), solidified in 1966, penetrated the mainstream in 1967, reached its peak in 1968, was already on its way out in 1969, and by 1970 was all but dead due to (among other things) the Altamont Speedway massacre, the War on Drugs being launched, and the genres that would eventually coalesce into Heavy Metal and Punk Rock already beginning to supplant the "acid" sound.
    • The "hippie revival" of the late 1990s and early 2000s mostly ended after September 11, 2001.
    • Also in the sixties, most people are aware of the rapid development of the "Space Race" but may not realize how the various missions and phases each last for only a few years. The era when the Soviet's had a lead in manned flights really only lasts from 1961 to the launch of the first NASA Gemini craft in 1964. There were six Soviet Vostok missions in three years, and only two Voskhod missions. For NASA Gemini lasted three years, and manned Apollo missions last just over four years from Apollo 7 in October 1968 to Apollo 17 in December 1972. The "Apollo spares" missions of Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz took place over three years (1973-1975). Can also apply to individual missions and space flyers; Yuri Gagarin's epochal first spaceflight lasted just under two hours. Alan Shepard was aloft for fifteen minutes in the first American suborbital mission. John Glenn's orbital flight lasted five hours. Even Neil Armstrong himself flew on just two spaceflights. By contrast the NASA Space Shuttle flew one hundred and thirty five missions, over thirty years, but these are still mostly overshadowed by the pioneering years.
  • The above goes for other iconic decades, too:
    • The Twenties as we know it actually began around 1923-24, when Harding died and Coolidge took over, radio abandoned its experimental period, organized crime became big, and the "Golden Age of Sports" took off. The years beforehand were marked by a Red Scare, a post-war recession and Prohibition was not much of an issue.
      • Most households didn't have a radio in 1930, although most homes with electricity actually had.
    • The Fifties - or at least the version thereof everyone remembers - did not last from 1950 to 1959. For starters, calling it "the Eisenhower era" is a misnomer because Harry Truman was in the White House during the decade's first 36 months. Thinking of the '50s as a "peaceful" and "boring" decade also fails to take into account the years 1950-1954 - the height of the second Red Scare - which was just as controversial politically (if not quite socially) as the Vietnam War a decade later. One should also keep in mind that by 1954 most Americans still did not own television sets, and that by the decade's end most people - even most white people - did not live in the suburbs, and in fact would not for a few decades more.
      • Also, the 50s began to end after 1957, when the "space race" began, TV became the dominant medium and the post war "boom" ended.
    • The version of The '80s (and probably early 90s) that everyone remembers, with its "conspicuous consumption" and hedonistic living - and, considering the moral posturing that was never too far away during those years, arguably a good chunk of hypocrisy as well - lasted only from about 1983 (when Ronald Reagan's scheme to kick-start the U.S. economy finally paid off after two years of uncertainty) to 1989 (when the Berlin Wall fell and the early 90s depression began). The years prior to that are better understood as a continuation of The '70s, and the years afterward...if not quite The '90s yet, a sort of in-between period during which the '80s ethos was slowly fading.
      • To boot, the 80s before 1986 were marked by New Wave, arcade games and yet another Red Scare. Afterwards, home consoles and P Cs became commonplace, dance pop and urban took over the charts and US-USSR relations thawed.
  • The Khmer Rouge only controlled Cambodia for about 3 years and 9 months (April 17, 1975 to January 8, 1979), which manages to make the utter destruction and massive death toll they were responsible for even more unthinkably horrific. They were overthrown as a result of a war with the neighboring Socialist Republic of Vietnam, a war which went far to cast doubt on the Domino theory that had informed western strategy in the Cold War until then.
    • It could be easy to get this impression given how long some countries insisted Democratic Kampuchea (the Khmer Rouge regime) should keep Cambodia's UN seat. A number of countries took Vietnam's liberation of Cambodia as a slap to the face.
  • The Gulf War on the ground only lasted 100 hours, though the entire conflict lasted nearly seven months beginning to end.
  • Dynasties in American sports are dominant for a briefer period than it appears, such as the Dallas Cowboys of the early 1990s, the New York Yankees of the late 1990s, and the New England Patriots of the early 2000s. Also, the period during which they are contemporarily perceived as dynasties is even shorter. One of the longest dynasties in pro football - the Cowboys under coach Tom Landry - lasted from 1960 to 1989, but that arguably doesn't count as a dynasty because the 'Boys were a really good team during only about a third of that span at the most (mid-Seventies through mid-Eighties).
    • The NBA in the Eighties is often thought of as an epic struggle for dominance between Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers, and Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics, but actually those teams only faced each other in the Finals three times between 1984 and 1987 (with the Lakers winning two). One could just as easily conclude it was a struggle between Magic and the Lakers and Julius "Dr. J" Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers, who also faced each other three times in the Finals, from 1980 to 1983, with the same record (Lakers winning two). During that early part of the decade, the 76ers also had a better regular season record than the Lakers or the Celtics. The Houston Rockets also managed to get past the Lakers to face the Celtics twice (the Celtics winning both times).
  • The Taliban only really controlled Afghanistan for about five years (1996-2001). The rest of the time they were just the biggest fish in the pond. You can still find old and even middle-aged men there that remember a time when their women didn't have to be covered from head to toe and not show their faces just to be considered proprietous... and that's ignoring the areas in the northern mountains that the Taliban never conquered.
    • This is also true of many parts of the Muslim world. As recently as the 1970s and 1980s, the vast majority of the Muslim world was dominated by secularism and varieties of "socialism" and there was little difference between women's fashion there and in the West. Since then, however, there has been something of a resurgence of piety—brought on, many social scientists think, by the increasing prosperity and consequent ascendancy of the region's middle class. Some have even called them "the new Calvinists" after the similarly pious and similarly mercantile Europeans of the 16th-18th centuries.
  • Between the start of construction in 1968 and the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the World Trade Center towers lasted a little over thirty years. Furthermore, the towers opened in 1973, so they were only in operation for twenty-eight years.
  • The Paris Commune may be the best researched period in history with its radical legislation, bloody defense until destruction and influence on left-leaning ideologies, yet it only lasted six weeks.

Alternative Title(s): Shorter Than They Think