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First Installmentwins
"It's like Star Trek: The Next Generation—in many ways it's superior, but will never be as recognized as the original."
Wayne, Wayne's World

There's a general trend that in any serial work of a non-random medium, the further back in the series you go, the more familiar it is amongst the general populace. The culmination of this is that the very first installment (and, going even further, the first couple scenes, even) will be the one that is the most familiar by a wide margin.

Obviously, there is some logic to this. Most people will start at the very beginning of a serial work if they can, but not nearly as many people will continue the series. Whether it be due to a lack of time, a perceived lack of quality within the work, or just finding the series not to their general tastes (or, hell, just being lazy), they'll only take in the first installment.

This seems to happen most often with books. This can probably be attributed to the fact that there isn't really any type of casual market for serious works and most readers of them will have access to the first parts of the serial and generally start from there. However, sometimes the first installment won't be as widely distributed as later installments because the publisher didn't expect it to be such a big hit, so the second book is often the best-known.

This also happens often with music — where a sizable portion of the Fandom considers a band's earliest releases to be the best. As such, they are often, well, less than impressed with New Sound Albums. The Beatles, Pink Floyd and The Cure are three of the few notable exceptions. A similar but distinct trope by the name of First and Foremost exists for songs where the original rendition is the most popular despite being covered frequently by other bands.

Video Games, while they don't generally fall in this trope on a per installment basis, still tend to manifest this within single installments themselves. The first sections of the game will be more well-known than any other part, with most of the coverage of the game drawing from it, since (as designers know quite well) many players do not play all or even most of the way through games.

This can often get compounded when Compressed Adaptations only draw material from the first entry as well.

Often a form of Nostalgia Filter and Small Reference Pools. See also Contested Sequel and Sophomore Slump. Contrast Adaptation Displacement, Sequel Displacement, Early-Installment Weirdness. Sometimes caused by Sequelitis.

Note: Please don't list aversions. Instead, put the aversions into either the Surprisingly Improved Sequel, Sequel Displacement, or Even Better Sequel articles.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! was a multi-million dollar smash hit when imported overseas. While the card game is still popular enough to warrant dubbing the series, most fans of the original won't accept anything from GX and onward.note 
  • Completely averted with the Dragon Ball franchise. While Dragonball did come first, Dragon Ball Z overshadows it as the most recognized. The first series is much better at storytelling, but the second is well-known for its fights and explosions.
  • Gundam: the original series has the most spin-offs and merchandise, including video games, models, toys, manga, etc. etc. Outside of Japan, however...
  • Mazinger Z has got a lot of sequels (Great Mazinger, UFO Robo Grendizer...), alternate series (God Mazinger, New Mazinger, Shin Mazinger Zero...) and reimaginations (Mazinkaiser, Shin Mazinger...). Neither of them has got the success, the impact or the popularity enjoyed the original series. Of course, Mazinger Z fans tend to think the original series was better, and the sequels and remakes did not live up to its legacy.
  • The original Fist of the North Star manga can be divided into two eras: everything up to the end of the Raoh saga (or what was adapted into the first TV series) and everything afterward (the second TV series). The majority of the later anime and manga spin-offs, as well as the numerous video games based on the franchise tend to be based on or set around the former era, with even side characters like Juza or Amiba often getting more exposure than the major players from the later era like Falco and Kaioh.
  • Reviews of Urotsukidouji—generally written from a horrifically disgusted stance—invariably mention Miss Togami attacking Akemi with her Naughty Tentacles, because it's the first (of many) tentacle rape scene(s). A much smaller fraction of reviewers bother trying to stomach the rest of it, which, believe it or not, actually gets worse.
  • It's no wonder that, of the many installments of the Pretty Cure franchise, Futari wa Pretty Cure gets 95% the shoutouts, the cosplayers, and its own fanart meme (cue you readers unfamiliar with the series going "ahh, so that's why my favourite male characters in every series are always drawn in those black and white dresses!"). Gintama tried to include a Splash Star reference in its parody, but thought that it was a continuation of the first installment, so this doesn't really count.
  • Saint Seiya doesn't gets as many ShoutOuts as other similar series, but when it does, it's inevitably to the Gold Saints or something from the Sanctuary arc in general. Poseidon and Hades arcs are never brought up. Probably justified for the Hades arc, in that it took OVER A DECADE for it to get animated.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura to a lesser extent. The most iconic outfit for Sakura is a pink and white one she wears on the cover of the first volume (manga) and the first opening (anime) (see it here), but never actually appears in the story proper. Despite one gimmick of the series being not repeating outfits.
  • Noir, the first installment of Bee Train's Girls with Guns trilogy, remains by far the most famous and popular one, despite Madlax and El Cazador de la Bruja's virtues.
  • Whenever Sailor Moon is brought up in popular culture, the shout-outs will usually have only the first five Senshi, Queen Beryl as the main villain, and Sailor Moon will be in her iconic red, white, and blue costume. If you are lucky, Sailor Pluto or Chibiusa might appear.
    • The fact that Sailor Moon Crystal is a remake of the first storyline can count as this too (especially since many fans were hoping for a new story). Don't forget the live-action series; it was a stand-alone show that only retold the first storyline.
  • Everyone knows of the first movie of the Pokémon anime. People also tend to know about the next two. But people outside the fandom are typically oblivious to the fact that there are over fourteen films and counting. The first season of the anime is also the most recognized outside of the fanbase.
    • Not to mention that out of all the theme songs of the Pokemon anime that have been made in the US, the first theme is considered by many to be the best and is easily the most recognized.
      • A new cover of the original theme was composed for the XY series. The Johto League Champions season uses the first verse, but afterwards diverges into its own theme.
  • Most people will be aware of Digimon Adventure, maybe Digimon Adventure 02 if you're (really) lucky, but probably won't even know there were any further anime series beyond 02, let alone that there are now six.
  • Everyone knows that Haruhi is God; fewer people realise that this explanation of her powers has held little canonical currency since Melancholy, the first book in the series (and even then, it was implied that Koizumi wasn't being entirely serious). A little more justified than other examples in that most of the later books haven't been made into an anime yet, which was even more true prior to the release of season 2 and the Disappearance movie.
  • Outlaw Star sure has a huge fanbase, but the majority of them never watched the spin-off show Angel Links. Now, this trope is inverted when you trace back to the root of this franchise - a manga series that a lot didn't read, either.
  • Robotech fans are most passionate about the Super Dimension Fortress Macross Saga. It's also the most familiar installment to those who might only be casually familiar with Robotech. Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada have their fans but their lack of recognition may have to do with merchandizing in Japan. The Valkyrie mecha (Veritech Fighter) has become an institution in and of itself. The Spartus hovertank and Alpha Fighter...not so much.
  • Space Battleship Yamato/Star Blazers: Many American fans are familiar with ''The Quest for Iscandar' portion but don't realize that the Star Force will also fight the Comet Empire and the Bolar Federation. Both sequel series had been imported to the U.S, albeit the Bolar Wars was brought over a few years after the first two and not as widely distributed.
  • Out of all the movies for Naruto, the most well known and the most liked is Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow, the first one and usually the only one that people who write Fan Fiction for Naruto adapt. As for Shippuden, ironically enough the first movie during the second half of the series is arguably second in popularity.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni will always be known as the gore filled horror it was in season one instead of a tearjerker mystery-murder.

    Comic Book 
  • Heroes who become a Legacy Character will often be mostly well known for the original, not for their successors. This is usually because of Replacement Scrappy reasons, but most of the time, the first is the one who most know of. If asked on the street about the names of Robin or Venom, if they know any, it will be Dick Grayson and Eddie Brock (justified in Brock's case, as the second Venom is almost completely unheard of as he appeared for two issues then died, the third was more popular and well known for his role as Scorpion, and the latest Venom is only about a few years old), and if asked to describe the character, the descriptions will likely be along the lines of 'wears shorts, says "Holy X Batman!" a lot, and gets captured' and 'Big, scary, black, pluralizes himself, was a reporter like Peter', which describe Dick and Eddie.
    • A lot of it comes down to publicity though, as most adaptations, which are the usual way non-comic book fans learn any info at all about a character, will only get time to use the first or most well known version or take on them and as such, they're the only one people know of. As such, most people only know of the original, and will be surprised to know of them being replaced.
    • When Jason Todd's infamous phone in vote on whether he would live or die, it got national coverage due to the fact that most people thought it was Dick Grayson who they were voting to kill off, and likely resulted in him getting more votes.
    • Dan DiDio has used this as justification for replacing many characters with their Silver Age incarnations, specifically Flash, and Batgirl. However, Wally West has the Justice League cartoon, which is the most well known use of the character in outside media, which specifically identified him as Wally but blended aspects of Barry in, while most non-comic fans only know of Batgirl, not the woman behind the mask, and the character was far more popular as Oracle, her post-Batgirl self. Considering his decisions regarding Batgirl's later versions and his remarks on the replacing, many have accused him of using this as an excuse for having a personal dislike towards the following characters.
    • There are certain exceptions to this. Notably, John Stewart is highly visible among many people thanks to his appearance in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. It got to the point that when the (flopped) Green Lantern movie came out, many people wondered why he wasn't black. There are also cases like Blue Beetle and Nova, where the more recent iterations have had far more mainstream exposure than the originals.
  • YMMV as to whether or not The Dark Knight Returns is masterful or overrated, but when its sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, was released, it marked the beginning, for many fans, of the Creator Breakdown of Frank Miller. Things only got worse when All-Star Batman & Robin came out, whether you accept it as a prequel or not.
  • Superman: Earth One turned out to be pretty popular despite being the umpteen-trillionth version of Superman's origin and advertised as somehow similar to Twilight. Batman: Earth One — as the umpteenth-billion version of Batman's early days — was nothing special, especially since it was released just after DC's New 52 line hit the stands, and Volume 2 of the Superman series tried to be Spider-Man 2 was more of a Star Trek Into Darkness.

    Films — Animation 
  • Recess: School's Out is a lot more well known and more well recieved by fans than either Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade and Recess: All Growed Down. Plus, the other two were released Direct-to-Video, and Recess: All Growed Down consisted of three previous episodes of the show it's based on, a never-before-seen origin story, and linking material, though Disney refers to it as a movie.
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first film in the Disney Animated Canon, is often considered the Magnum Opus. Walt viewed Bambi as his greatest film, leading to Magnum Opus Dissonance.
  • "Steamboat Willie", Mickey Mouse's first sound appearance, is by far the most referenced of Mickey's shorts.
  • Disney Animated Canon films obviously have this over their DTV sequels. As for the two movies that have canon sequels, Fantasia is generally preferred over Fantasia 2000 while The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under split the base on what movie is to be considered better.
    • Disney itself often packages canon movies with their DTV sequels for Blu-Ray releases, often giving the sequel equal billing (much to the resentment of the fans). The trailers they upload for these "2-Movie Collections" however generally give the sequels about 10-15% of screentime. This trailer for the Mulan/Mulan II Blu-Ray features clips from Mulan only, though it sneaks in a frame of "Mulan II also available" for a few seconds at the end. Conversely, this same thing upset fans of The Rescuers Down Under, who felt that sequel didn't deserve the same treatment as other, much worse Disney sequels.
  • An American Tail is the best remembered of four movies, probably thanks to the involvement of Don Bluth, though it's first sequel Fievel Goes West is a bit of a Contested Sequel and has its fans.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Karate Kid is considered a pop culture classic, with the "wax on, wax off," and the crane stance being the most referenced scenes in the series, even with the second film being considered a strong improvement over the first. Most felt that the third film was mediocre in comparison to the previous two due to the fact that it's just the first movie but a different guy fighting Daniel in the tournament. You also have Daniel's character, who matured a bit in the second film, while in the third he suffered a case of Flanderization. The less said about The Next Karate Kid the better.
  • American Psycho had a DTV sequel, starring Mila Kunis. How bad is it? Patrick Bateman (obviously not played by Christian Bale) dies in the first scene. Murdered. By a little girl.
  • The first Back to the Future film is well-remembered in the popular imagination for many iconic elements, such as the DeLorean time machine, the Spinning License Plate, Marty's performance of "Johnny B. Goode", the clock-tower climax and the ending line "where we're going, we don't need roads". What are the two sequels, which were both really good, remembered for? Hoverboards, Gray's Sports Almanac, and cowboys. But mostly hoverboards.
  • Nobody really remembers the three sequels to the 80s-90s Batman series, as well as they do the original with Jack Nicholson playing the Joker (and, in the case of Batman & Robin, people who do remember it wish they didn't). This extends to people trying to quote the Bat-films, which will usually result in a Joker line ("Where does he get all those wonderful toys?" or "You ever dance with the devil by the pale moonlight?" being the most common), although occasionally you'll hear Catwoman or Mr. Freeze quoted instead.
  • The Crow has three sequels, but most people have usually only seen the first one.
  • Cruel Intentions and Wild Things both had several DTV sequels (Cruel Intentions had 2 sequels, while Wild Things had 3)
  • The Free Willy films. Yes, there was more than one, proving the point of this trope.
  • The first Highlander movie is much more known than its sequels, notably the notorious second one. A common saying among the fandom is "There should have been only one."
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids to its sequels. Honey, I Blew Up the Kid did fairly well, but Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves doesn't hold up as well as the first two movies.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark is quite a bit more well known than its sequels, especially the very first scene. References to Temple of Doom and most importantly The Last Crusade do pop up infrequently, especially the latter's earlier parts. Why Did It Have to Be Snakes? indeed. (Also, It Belongs in a Museum.)
  • Jaws had sequels. The second is mostly remembered for the tagline ("Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water..."). The other two, for intense decay (culminating in the Voodoo Shark and another famous tagline: "It's Personal").
  • The Matrix: A good chunk of the fandom treats the sequels as Fanon Discontinuity.
  • A lot of people try to forget that there are two sequels and a TV spinoff to The NeverEnding Story.
  • Did you know that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has a prequel? Or that The Sting has a sequel? Didn't think so.
  • Charlie Chan spoofs and homages pay little attention to The House Without a Key, which in both film and prose started the Charlie Chan series (the film remains lost as of 2009, however). The "Number One Son" Henry first appeared in the novel Black Camel. Keye Luke played him in the films (in the first film, they explicitly refer to Luke's role as Henry).
  • Psycho has had several sequels, a TV movie and a remake.
  • Road House got a DTV sequel, and Swayze was originally supposed to reprise his role, but disagreements with him and the filmmakers prevented that from happening, so his character was killed offscreen.
  • This trope very much applies to the Scream sequels.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey vs. its sequels, both cinematic and literary.
  • K-9 had 2 direct-to-video sequels, though unlike most DTV sequels, these 2 were a rare case in which the original star (James Belushi) returned.
  • Final Destination, even though the fanbase's split on whether the first or the second installment wins.
  • Saw has six sequels, to generally degrading reaction.
  • Most Scanners fans don't know that there are three movies in the main series... and that there are FIVE of them if you count the spinoffs.
  • You didn't even know there were four sequels to The 400 Blows, did you?
  • James Bond as a whole averts due to being Third Installment Wins (which is also present regarding Roger Moore's third movie; with Craig, is either Third with Skyfall or plain first with Casino Royale). But the "definitive 007" is still the first one, and the most well-remembered Dalton and Brosnan and movies are their debuts (The Living Daylights and GoldenEye). And Lazenby only had the one by default (On Her Majesty's Secret Service). And this trope might explain why Honey Rider remains one of the more popular Bond girls.
  • Predator, to the point where people often mistook Predators with Predator 2.
  • The first Die Hard movie is the most well known of the series - it even originated an action subgenre!
  • Caddyshack. The first movie was a Cult Classic and is generally accepted to be one of the funniest movies ever. The second movie fell prey to Sequelitis and likely because the cast was replaced. Caddyshack II was enough to end the franchise.
  • Most fans of Starship Troopers don't even realize there are 2 DTV sequels. The second movie experiences a major Genre Shift and is generally considered to be terrible.
  • Many Alien fans prefer to watch Alien and Aliens and then stop there. There are fanbases for Alienł and Alien: Resurrection (which to be fair are actually okay films - though the over-the-topness of the fourth one is a point of contention - though definitely not as good as the original). Opinions are split on Prometheus; half the Alien fanbase considers it to be an incredible and intriguing new entry into the canon which gives a whole new area of the Alien Universe to explore and accepts it as canon, the other half believes it to be an unoriginal mess of ideas and tries to ignore it.
  • Despite having three theatrical sequels and four DTV installments to its name, the first American Pie is still the most-remembered of the franchise. In addition to being released the most times of any of the films (in both rated/unrated Collector's/Ultimate editions and compilation boxsets), it featured most of the signature moments the series became famous for.
  • While the whole of the original Star Wars trilogy is beloved, you're more likely to see Whole Plot Reference to A New Hope (the fact that it has the most self-contained story of franchise helps). And the best-known of the prequels is The Phantom Menace, with cool underused villain Darth Maul, annoying overused comic relief Jar Jar Binks and a lot of preceding hype.
  • Superman is usually considered the best of the four films, often garnering the highest star reviews among critics, and having the highest rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is the highest grossing of the Christopher Reeve films, and holds its crown against Broad Strokes sequel Superman Returns and reboot Man of Steel.
  • Ghostbusters is more popular than its 1989 sequel and the cartoon that followed, which only added the mood slime and Slimer as the Team Pet to the series.
  • There have been over twenty Godzilla movies, and the original 1954 one is STILL the highest rated on Rotten Tomatoes and the IMDB.

    Literature 
  • In an odd case of this happening to a portion of a single book, most people don't know that there is more to Gulliver's Travels than just the Lilliput section. This gets compounded by a lot of publishers choosing only to publish that section.
  • Proust's In Search of Lost Time: only "The Way By Swann's" (volume one of seven) is at all known; it contains the famous madeleine reminiscence. There is a bookshop with about seven copies of Vol. I on the shelf, and one or two each of all the others: they know most people give up.
  • Older Than Print: Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy: Inferno is a cultural touchstone. Purgatorio and Paradiso, meanwhile, are the province of literary professors.
  • Beowulf has three sections, each linked to the monster that Beowulf fights. His first fight with Grendel is by far the most famous. Not surprisingly, Grendel has become a somewhat famous mythical monster, even inspiring a Twice Told Tale in which he is the antihero of the story. Grendel's mother and the dragon, neither even having a name, are not nearly as well remembered.
  • Most people have heard of King Solomon's Mines. H. Rider Haggard's other fourteen Allan Quatermain books: not so much.
  • The second part of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust is much less popular than the first.
  • Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, which is actually two books, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel (by popular demand), Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. Since the Disney movie is almost completely based on the former, most people are most familiar with the first book. That is not to say that elements of Through the Looking Glass have not also entered into popular culture, including Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Jabberwock, and Humpty Dumpty's famous quote, "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."
  • Robinson Crusoe got two sequels, The Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe and Serious Reflections of Robinson Crusoe (although the last one is a series of essays to which Crusoe's name was added in order to boost sales).
  • Anne of Green Gables (by L.M. Montgomery) goes on to become Anne of Avonlea, The Island, Windy Poplars, her own House of Dreams, and Ingleside - then her kids take over. A popular "boxed set" of this series includes only the first three books.
  • Catch-22 received a sequel called Closing Time. It was written 33 years after the original novel and has essentially been ignored.
  • A Wrinkle in Time is the most famous of L'Engle's Time Quintet partially because of the tidy little Newbery Award on the cover.
  • Perhaps because of the film adaption being a lot more popular than the book, most people are unaware that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has thirteen sequels written by L. Frank Baum and an additional 26 "official" books written by other authors after that. Clearly, it was not a dream all along.
  • Almost no one knows The Giver has three sequels, rendering all those English essays about the "ambiguous" ending completely moot. One of the "sequels" only barely references The Giver, another is plenty ambiguous itself, but the third clearly explains the ending of the original.
  • Everyone knows about Little Women. Its sequels, Little Men and Jo's Boys however... not so much. In the UK only the first half of Little Women is known, because the second part was published separately as Good Wives.
  • Although not the first book when read chronologically, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was the first book written in The Chronicles of Narnia and by far the best remembered. Some theorize that's why the film adaptation of Prince Caspian did not do as well.
  • Paradise Lost, in which John Milton attempts to justify the ways of God to men, is a triumph of literature. Four years later, he wrote Paradise Regained, which is now considered important only in the ways that it relates to Paradise Lost.
  • Ender’s Game is definitely the most popular book in its the series. Ironically, he only expanded the short story upon which it's based so he could provide backstory for Speaker for the Dead, the story he really wanted to tell.
  • Left Behind. Would you believe that, counting the three prequels, there are SIXTEEN books in the series? The later ones tend to suffer a bit from Arc Fatigue.
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is probably as famous as or more famous than the earlier The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. But Twain's next two sequels, Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective? Not so much. (Yeah, that's right, Alan Moore didn't make up that part about Tom being an action hero.)
  • The Mysterious Island is much less well known than Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
  • Many people know Dumas' The Three Musketeers but not the sequel, Twenty Years After. The next sequel, The Vicomte de Bragelonne, is split into multiple parts, of which only the last, The Man in the Iron Mask, is well known.
  • Thanks to a well-known movie version, The Talented Mr Ripley is much better known than its four sequels (though some of them have been made into movies too).
  • Scarlett was the sequel to Gone with the Wind. Bet most of you didn't even know there was one, Timothy Dalton fans not included. It was written by another author after Margaret Mitchell died and generally regarded as a cheap attempt to cash in on the demand for a sequel. Mitchell's Estate regards Scarlett as non-canon, but commissioned a an official sequel titled Rhett Butler's People.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped is still regarded as a classic of 19th-century literature. Practically nobody even knows there was a sequel, Catriona.
  • The Black Stallion is a series spanning over 20 books. Most people have only read the first few though.
  • Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book was followed by The Second Jungle Book just over a year later. Despite this, many people remain unaware that there was a second, even though it's arguably better than the first.
    • Many readers also tend to remember the first three stories of The Jungle Book, i. e. the those that feature Mowgli, much better than the other four, in which he does not appear. There were also editions where the Mowgli stories from both Jungle Books were collected in one volume and all the others in the other; guess which one of those raders would remember better.
  • Dodie Smith wrote The Hundred and One Dalmatians, which was made into two different Disney movies and is thusly very well known and popular. She also wrote a sequel called The Starlight Barking, of which very few people have even heard, to the point that when Disney did sequels to its films based on her book, neither had anything to do with the plot of the actual book sequel.
  • Roald Dahl wrote a sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, which is not nearly as well remembered. One reason for this is that Dahl hated the first film adaptation of Chocolate Factory so much that he ordered his estate to ensure that the sequel would never be adapted for film. While it had a stage play adaptation, that's only one adaptation compared to the many, many adaptations Chocolate Factory has enjoyed in various media.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, and its sequel, The Lord of the Rings, are probably the most famous fantasy novels ever written. Later works (some published after his death) such as The Silmarillion ... well, serious fans are familiar with them.
  • Happens a lot with Latin texts, as most likely, a student had to translate the first part of an author's work, but not the rest. Most Latin students have read Cicero's First Catilinarian Oration ("To what end, Catiline, do you abuse our patience?"), but not the other three. Most have read the beginning of Caesar's The Gallic War ("All of Gaul was divided into three parts"), but not all eight books.
  • All the aspects of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which have experienced Popcultural Osmosis are exclusively from the first book in the series. You'd be very hard-pressed to find someone aware of anything beyond that book; that it was the only installment adapted for film doesn't help. This also extends to the work of Douglas Adams in general; Hitchhiker's is by far his best-known work, and his other books are dwarfed to a massive degree by it.
    • In a subversion, not many people are aware that The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was a BBC Radio series before it was a book.
  • The first series of Warrior Cats is pretty much universally considered the best of the numerous story arcs (there are five total series planned, plus plenty of Expanded Universe books out.) The other Erin Hunter series, Seeker Bears, is also not quite as popular, probably because Warriors is a tough act to follow.
  • Out of all the Watch books, most people know the name Night Watch. Day Watch is also fairly well-known due to the same style of writing. Then you have Twilight Watch and Final Watch, which many non-fans simply haven't heard of, not to mention the two spin-offs (one of which by the co-author of ''Day Watch''). The first novel gained some international fame, mostly due to the Film of the Book.
  • Neuromancer is much more popular and critically acclaimed than the other novels in William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy.
  • Believe it or not, there were books after the original Corduroy.
  • The "Little House" series by Laura Ingalls Wilder falls victim to this trope, though the effect is enhanced by Adaptation Displacement and Sequel Displacement. The series is known as the "Little House on the Prairie" series, owing in part to the television show and the fact that said book is the most popular of the series. However, it's not the first book in the series (it's the second), and finding people who even know it is part of a series (of more than eight books) is hit-or-miss.
  • The original Dune novel is still the most popular in the series.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Star Trek canon, none of the follow-ups or films will match the cultural significance of the Original Series. Furthermore, Star Trek: The Next Generation was much more popular than the other Star Trek shows created after the original. Out of the later shows, Next Generation was the only one that became a film series.
    • In fact, TNG was, by most metrics, more popular than the original series had been during its first-run... but the financial success of the TOS-based movies remains unmatched.
  • When you ask a non-fan about Power Rangers, it would be something about Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (and most likely the first season of it), and every Power Rangers parody is based on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
    • When Disney did a poll for the five most popular Rangers, the only non-MMPR to make the list was Andros from In Space. Not a single Disney-era Ranger charted. In this case, first production company wins. Though it helps by the cast staying around for a lot longer than most of the other Rangers, rather than being replaced every year.
    • It seems like Saban understands this, as when they bought back the franchise, they made sure Power Rangers Samurai was as campy and over-the-top as the original.
    • Bandai themselves seem to love MMPR too, to the point where they seem to have forgotten that their 20th anniversary toyline is for the anniversary of Power Rangers as a whole, not just MMPR.
  • The same thing also applies to Super Sentai. While some series had more postmortem popularity than others (Choujin Sentai Jetman being an example in the early 1990's), it is Himitsu Sentai Goranger, the very first Sentai, that still gets the most exposure and is the subject of most homages and parodies.
    • Choudenshi Bioman gets this in the Philippines, despite Bioman itself being the 8th installment in Super Sentai.
  • The first Kamen Rider series is the one most recognizable in Japan. Not to say that other, more recent series (like Den-O) haven't enjoyed their share of success, but the first series is the one that started it all.
  • Virtually any LOST parody will focus on elements introduced in the first season - the survivors, the Others, the Hatch, the Monster, the Numbers, and the polar bears. Nearly the entire remainder of the series' pop culture reputation comes from the second season, with DHARMA Initiative. The first season is also the least disputed one as all five that followed are accused of Seasonal Rot, if only for making the plot weirder as it went. The fact that the show completely changed focus around Season 3 makes it very easy to identify someone who hasn't watched the show since the first season, and the fact that it continued changing focus basically every season after that makes it also easy to identify when someone stopped watching.
  • Ditto for the first season of Once Upon a Time, a show made by two of LOST's foremost writers.
  • Stargate SG-1 has lasted the longest of all the shows in the franchise and has the largest following, given how many times it was Uncanceled. Stargate Atlantis lasted several seasons, while Stargate Universe (having a different format) was canceled fairly quickly. No mention of Stargate Infinity, a (non-canon) short-lived cartoon series. Surprisingly, the original installment, the Stargate film, is something most people who are fans of the series must be introduced to the film retroactively only after watching the series. Understandable with it being a relatively obscure sci-fi film from the 90s.
  • Heroes, as the first season is the only one which didn't disappoint most of the fanbase.
  • The L Word: Any trouble digesting the ridiculata of the latter seasons will either be soothed or completely exacerbated by the dramatic superiority of pretty much any episode from the first three.
  • The Twilight Zone. While it have had a few revival that was quickly cancelled and forgotten, generation after generations go back to the original with its stark black-and-White images and Rod Serlings hypnotic voice doing the opening and closing narrations.
  • Soul Train is known as an embodiment of The Seventies however most are unaware it ran over 30 years, ending in 2006.

    Music 
  • Many listeners of classical music find that other conductors and orchestras performing a given piece don't measure up in their minds to the first ones they heard, possibly overlapping with They Changed It, Now It Sucks.
  • Heck, this applies to almost everyone participating in the entire genre in rap/hip-hop. Most knowledgeable listeners are very likely to say that Nas can never top Illmatic, any member of the Wu-Tang Clan will never make an album on the level of their first solo records (with the possible exception of Ghostface Killah), and the list goes on and on.
  • Garth Brooks had a decade of solid country albums, but his most remembered hits are The Dance, from his first album, and Friends in Low Places, from his second.
  • Of Carl Orff's Trionfi trilogy of secular choral music, Carmina Burana is by far the best known. Catulli Carmina is far less popular, and Trionfo di Afrodite is outright obscure. And Carmina Burana is known mostly for its first (and last) song, the first to be composed: "O fortuna."
  • Pearl Jam's Ten.
    • Depending upon who you ask, their sophomore effort, Vs., can also be considered this. For certain though, their third album, Vitalogy, definitely falls under this trope for many casual fans, since it includes a good number of massive hits like "Corduroy", "Better Man", and "Spin the Black Circle". It wasn't until No Code that the band really started to hemorrhage casual fans.
  • Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction works here. Not only is it the highest-selling debut album of all time, it also has "Sweet Child O' Mine", which is pretty much one of the most famous songs of the last 20 years. "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Paradise City" are pretty famous, too.
  • Aimee Mann is a critically-acclaimed and incredibly respected songwriter who crafts smart, witty, memorable, and utterly catch pop songs. She is widely considered to be one of the finest songwriters of her generation but, if you bring her name up, most people's eyes simply glaze over. Then, inevitably, you sigh and say, "You remember the chick from 'Til Tuesday who sang that 'Voices Carry' song? Yeah, her." At which the response is inevitably "Oh, the one with the funny hair, yeah, I remember that song! Is she still around?"
    • That's a bit harsh. Her music was pretty hard to avoid (especially on college campuses) for a year or so after her "Lost in Space" album came out, and the use of her songs in Magnolia has gotten her a lot of exposure.
    • Devoted Rush fans know her as the female vocalist who sang on the chorus of "Time Stand Still" and whose laughter was heard at the start of "Force Ten."
  • Frankie Goes To Hollywood's first album Welcome to the Pleasuredome is easily their most famous album.
  • Tori Amos' first two solo albums Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink are her most critically-acclaimed albums (especially the former). Critics tend to not pay attention to the rest of her albums.
  • Disturbed's best known and best selling album, The Sickness gets this quite a bit (which is unfortunate since the songs on it are terribly simple compared to their later work).
  • Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville got a huge amount of praise, and is considered one of the best albums of all time. Too bad the rest of her albums didn't match up to the success of her debut.
    • Not the same level of critical success perhaps, but they got a lot more radio airplay.
  • Is This It by The Strokes is widely considered their masterwork by fans and critics alike, and is arguably the definitive record from the garage rock revival era. Only their second album, Room on Fire, really seems to compare favorably to their debut, with subsequent releases receiving a decidedly more lukewarm critical and commercial response.
  • Manolo Escobar's Mi Carro might hold a record at this: The beginning lyrics (Where the singer says his cart got stolen) are well-known by everyone in Spain, which lead to many jokes about how "maybe Manolo Escobar hasn't found his cart yet" or somesuch, when if those people bothered to listen to the entire song, they would know he finds his cart at the end of it.
  • Violent Femmes' self-titled debut album.
  • Silverchair's Frogstomp debut album is massively more popular than their other 4 albums, despite being their least critically acclaimed.
  • Hell, how many one hit wonders are only remembered for that first album or first record?
  • R.E.M.'s debut album, Murmur, is often considered their best. (although it's not their breakthrough)
  • Crazy Rhythms, the first album by The Feelies, frequently makes critics' lists of best alternative rock albums, best 80s albums, and so on. Their other albums, on the other hand, are rarely, if ever mentioned on similar lists.
  • Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill. Although her two subsequent albums both went platinum in the US, her first album (at least, not counting her teen pop career) is still her most remembered and popular.
  • Boston's self-titled debut.
  • Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory. Audiences saw Meteora as a recycling of the album prior, and a combination of Hype Backlash and name-sullying left the public to ignore and/or disavow the remainder of their catalog.
  • Although some fans seem to consider her second album her best, Tuesday Night Music Club is Sheryl Crow's strongest album to date.
  • Natalie Imbruglia's debut, Left of the Middle, is by far her most successful and churned out "Torn", her only American hit to date.
  • Foo Fighters have either their debut, which is arguably the one that got most acclaim, or The Colour and the Shape, the first as a full band (as Foo Fighters is really a Dave Grohl solo album), sometimes called their masterwork, and the most commercially successful with songs such as "Monkey Wrench", "My Hero" and their possible Signature Song "Everlong".
  • Annie Lennox's first album, Diva, remains her best album to date.
  • Hootie and the Blowfish's Cracked Rear View. With the exception of Fairweather Johnson which had its predecessor's success to fall back on, none of their subsequent albums achieved its fame to any degree, thanks to changing musical trends (folk-rock was on its way out by the end of the decade), Hype Backlash, and dwindling ability of the band to write hit songs.
  • Norah Jones' first album, Come Away With Me, remains her most liked among both fans and critics, probably because of her subsequent straying from Jazz music.
  • Did you know that Franz Liszt wrote five Mephisto Waltzes (if you count the Bagatelle Ohne Tonart)?
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote three piano concertos as well as a concert fantasy for piano and orchestra. Only the first concerto is known by most people.
  • J S Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, a.k.a. 48 Preludes and Fugues. The entire work is a masterpiece, but the first Prelude remains its best-known portion.
  • Although Pink Floyd released the entire "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" suite on the Wish You Were Here album, most people remember the (album-opening) first half of it better than the (album-closing) second. The band themselves rarely played the second half of it after the Animals tour.
    • Pink Floyd also had in interesting case regarding their first album, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, their only album with Syd Barrett as frontman. For many, many years, nothing they did quite measured up to their debut album, completely fitting this trope...until they released their seventh album. That album was The Dark Side of the Moon, and became so incredibly popular it totally eclipsed the now-obscure Piper.
  • Australian Rockabilly band The Living End and their self-titled debut album is considered an Australian rock classic. Hardly anyone even knows they made more music after it.
  • According to most of the general public, Live only had two albums: their grandiose U2-esque folk-rock debut Mental Jewelry and its Darker and Edgier, grunge-styled and stylistically chaotic commercial breakthrough Throwing Copper. Everything afterwards doesn't actually exist.
  • Metal purists will swear by Fear Factory's debut Soul of a New Machine and especially their follow-up Demanufacture, considered a masterpiece and one of the most influential metal albums of the 1990s. The jury is still out on its successor, the concept album Obsolete, though there is a small faction that considers it to be the band's finest hour. The disastrous Digimortal, however, is universally deemed the falloff point, and nothing afterwards is very highly regarded (Archetype was initially hailed as a return to form before the hype down and everyone realized it just looked that way next to Digimortal).
  • Not only is Silence considered to be Sonata Arctica's magnum opus by most of the band's listeners, but quite a few consider them to have Jumped the Shark with Winterheart's Guild and never looked back. Some take it even further and swear by their debut Ecliptica and have little interest in anything further.
  • Our Lady Peace's debut Naveed is widely considered a masterwork of concise, well-written Alternative Rock that the band has never come close to reproducing.
  • Andrew W.K. achieved moderate commercial success with his debut album I Get Wet and the hit song "Party Hard". Merely a year later, The Wolf was released to lukewarm impressions, likely due to his decision to go in a more ambitious direction rather than make another album of "Party Hard"s. It wasn't until three years later that Close Calls With Brick Walls was released... in Japan only.
  • Deicide's 1990 self-titled debut (and, to a lesser extent, its follow-up Legion) is hailed as a Death Metal classic. Any amount of anger and blasphemy within the genre was taken Up to Eleven, and all of the sudden a genre dedicated to having fun shocking people was dead serious. As it turned out, band mastermind Glen Benton didn't actually have anything else to say or take his music, and album after album of the same detuned riffing and Religion Rant Songs got old fast, leaving people to wonder why Benton and his cohorts decided to keep making them long after the well of enthusiasm and originality had dried up.
  • Not only was The Chronic seen as Dr Dre's best album, it helped Gangsta Rap become apart of the mainstream. It also launched the career of fan favorite rapper, Snoop Dogg. None of Dre's albums follow-up albums had the success and popularity of his first album, especially not The Aftermath which bombed horribly, despite all the hard work and effort he put into it.
  • None of George Harrison's post-Beatles solo albums ever matched the success or acclaim of his 1970 solo debut All Things Must Pass.
  • Venom's first two albums, Welcome to Hell and Black Metal, were massively influential, being the Ur Examples for Black Metal (for which the latter album is the Trope Namer), Thrash Metal, Death Metal, and all of their derivative genres, as well as making them the Trope Codifier for Rock Me, Asmodeus!. Beyond that, At War With Satan and (if you're lucky) Possessed may get mentioned in passing by metalheads, but anything beyond that is almost completely unknown outside the band's fans.
  • Stevie Nicks' solo debut Bella Donna is still her most popular album.
  • Madness' first album One Step Beyond is still the one that usually represents the group in "best album" polls and even has a book written about it. This is perhaps a little strange, since although there's certainly an almost-universal affection for the LP, few fans or critics actually consider it their best.

    Theatre 
  • This is frequent among fans of Broadway shows that have touring or Revival productions. Generally, the original show cast sets the standard for the character portrayals and song performance and anyone following in their role has to live up to them. Some specific outstanding examples:
    • Michael Crawford as The Phantom of the Opera (and Sarah Brightman as Christine for many)
    • Bernadette Peters as the Witch in Into the Woods versus Vanessa Williams in the revival
    • Elaine Stritch as Joanne ("The Ladies Who Lunch") in Stephen Sondhiem's Company
    • Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables
    • Carol Burnett as Princess Winnifred in Once Upon a Mattress
    • William Daniels as John Adams in 1776
  • See Original Cast Precedent, when a creative choice not absolutely mandated by the script is used in an original production and is shown to be imitated by following productions.
  • Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth as Elphaba and Glinda, respectively, in Wicked.

    Toys 
  • The original 2001 run of BIONICLE is by far the best-known, even if most people only have a vague recollection of it. A person who once collected the sets but grew out of the hobby will most likely remember the "big robot warriors and small robot priests on a tropical island", but the conversation would get one-sided if you mention the Order of Mata Nui, the Shattering, the rest of the Makuta's race, cyborg gladiators, or indeed anything after 2002.
  • Transformers suffers this as well. No matter how well engineered, articulated, proportioned, and so on, no figure can live up to the 'legendary' Generation 1 figures in the minds of a large chunk of the populace. Even though, for the same price as the original Autobot cars (or for only 25%-30% more) you get a figure that stands an inch and a half taller, has an alt mode that is just as realistic, much better robot mode and articulation, etc, nearly 27 years later when almost everything else has doubled or more in price for the same product.
  • The first generation/line of My Little Pony from the 1980's and early 1990's is still the one that collectors care about the most, not to mention that even though said original line of My Little Pony toys ended years and years ago, it still seem to be what most people think about when they think about the toyline (rather than any of the more modern, redesigned incarnations). Even the massively popular generation 4 line doesnt seem to be able to do much to change the public perception of what a My Little Pony toy looks like.
    • The Brony phenomenon means that generation 4 is the first one where many people can recognise individual characters.
  • All these years later, the original 1977-1985 line of Star Wars action figures by Kenner is more fondly remembered than the "Power of the Force" relaunch in the 1990s and later, even though the "Power of the Force" versions were more realistic in design (especially Chewbacca, who looked like a shaved Cousin Itt in the original line). In fact, the '70s and '80s figures are so highly regarded that Hasbro (which eventually bought out Kenner) started putting out figures based on the prequel films that were packaged in authentic vintage style (which, yes, makes them - literally - a Genre Throwback of a Genre Throwback!).

    Video Games 
  • Chrono Cross was doomed from the beginning not to be as popular as Chrono Trigger, one of the best-selling and beloved games ever made. While successful in its own right, it didn't even come close to the popularity of the original. Few people even know about Radical Dreamers (which is no surprise since it was exclusive to the Satellaview, an obscure Japan-only add-on for the Super Famicom).
  • Dragon Age: Origins is near-universally regarded the best game in the series. The DLC expansion packs are generally well-liked, but not to the degree of the original campaign, and Dragon Age II is very much a Contested Sequel.
  • In Pokémon, any "Team _____" other than "Rocket" is mostly ignored by those outside of the fanbase (the Terrible Trio from the anime helps this).
    • The most recognizable creatures are also from Red/Blue/Yellow. Of all the Super Smash Bros. playable Pokémon, just three aren't from those games (and one is a pre-evolution of franchise mascot Pikachu).
    • The protagonist everyone thinks of is Red, be it his original design, his fanon design, or his remake design. Super Smash Bros. Brawl even modeled the Pokémon Trainer character after him (albeit based on his FireRed/LeafGreen appearance).
  • No matter how many games the Kingdom Hearts series churns out, it seems everyone will remember the original first one the most, if not solely for the hype and reaction surrounding it (Square and Disney? Together?! WTF?!).
    • Also, to this day it has sold the most out of the whole series in North America, Europe, and Japan (counting the Final Mix edition.)
    • Depending on who you ask the opposite is true. While the original is iconic, the Organization is so well-known and an integral part of the series that the sequel is quickly becoming more well-known.
  • Not so much the actual games themselves, but rather the music of the Ace Attorney games. While it is almost universally agreed that the music is godly, the Objection and Cornered themes from the first games are widely considered the best as opposed to the respective themes from the sequels.
  • A lot of people have heard of Myst— unsurprisingly, since it was the bestselling PC game of all time for nearly ten years before it was displaced. Fewer people picked up the sequel, Riven, and even fewer completed it, probably because of the dramatically increased difficulty level. Outside of the adventure game niche market, however, most people will be rather surprised to learn that Myst has four direct sequels, three tie-in novels, and a highly ephemeral spinoff online RPG. When you mention Myst to most people, they'll immediately think of the first one only; of the 12 million copies of total franchise games sold as of 2007, 6 million were the original.
  • The Mortal Kombat half of the character roster from Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe consists entirely of characters from the first two installments, which is when the series was on its peak of its popularity.
  • Go ahead and find a fan of Final Fantasy Tactics who thinks that Final Fantasy Tactics Advance or its sequel were better games.
  • Everyone who has played the entire RAY Series regards RayForce, the first game in the series, is the best out of the three games. Literally everyone. Putting RayStorm or especially RayCrisis above RayForce is a felony.
  • Mention the Red Faction series, and one will always remember the first one over the second one. This is usually because the second game removed some features, had nothing to do with the plot of the original, and wasn't very compatible with the popular Geo-Mod engine.
  • Painkiller is a sad example of a franchise that started getting a colder and colder reception with each new release, starting with the Battle out of Hell, an Expansion Pack consisting near-entirely of levels that were made for Painkiller, but cut out. Since then, each new sequel to the game has been developed by an outsider team, and all of them started out as game mods before being given commercial funding by the publishers. It shows.
  • The Sakura Taisen franchise is dominated by the cast of the first game (and the second, since it's the same cast with a couple of extra characters added in). The adaptations focus almost exclusively on them and even the bulk of the series' entry here is about them.
  • Tsukihime, a Visual Novel, separates different parts of the story by which girl you end up with. But because some information is revealed before others, you have to see every girl's story in a certain order, to its full conclusion. (START Arcueid->Ciel->Akiha->Hisui->Kohaku END.) Since Tsukihime truly is a novel, with tens of thousands of lines of text, casual players without a lot of time to devote to the game only play the first installment, Arcueid's route, without getting far enough to start on anyone else's. Arcueid is also the most popular of all the main heroines among fans, completely defying the First Girl Wins rule.
    • And how many people have actually played its sequel, Kagetsu Tohya? Both have been fan-translated for years but the first game is still better known.
  • Unless there is a very popular theme from later in the game, the Stage 1 themes or the closest equivalent are usually the most well known themes of any given game, like the Castlevania's big three: Vampire Killer, Bloody Tears and Beginning.
    • Likewise, in Super Smash Bros Brawl Sonic's stage has five songs directly lifted from game levels. Only one of them isn't from a level one (Scrap Brain, the final level of Sonic 1 per se, as it precedes the final boss).
  • The original Final Fight has gotten plenty of nods and references in later games, particularly with the inclusion of Guy, Sodom, Rolento, Cody and Andore (under the guise of Hugo with Poison as his manager) in many Street Fighter installments and other Capcom fighting games. The only Final Fight sequel to contribute anything of note was Final Fight 2, which brought us Maki and... really, that's just about it.
  • Ragnarok Online is a Korean MMORPG, more or less a Long Runner. You probably never knew there was a Ragnarok Online 2.
  • Some folks back in the day threw around the term "Asheron's Call 2 Syndrome" when discussing the problem that MMORPG sequels (spiritual or otherwise) are liable to run into (namely that the first installment is doing pretty well or you probably wouldn't be having a sequel). The term didn't stick. The phenomenon, on the other hand, is pretty much this entire page.
  • Did you know that there were sequels to the classic game Shadowgate? If you did, you probably only know about the Nintendo 64 game Trials of the Four Towers. However, even that was preceded on the Turbo Duo by Beyond Shadowgate.
  • The first Super Monkey Ball, due to it being a port of an arcade game, had a wide variety of challenging levels and attracted a large Challenge Gamer fanbase as a result. The second game had more gimmicky levels, but still had quite a few Challenge Gamers trying to eke out both No Death Runs through Expert and Master, and single-level runs of TAS quality without the tool assistance. Then the games progressively got significantly easier, and the fanbase lost interest as a result.
  • Aerobiz: Quite a few players can remember seeing the game on the shelves of video rental stores, but few ever saw the sequel, Aerobiz Supersonic, and even less saw the Japan-only released Air Management '96.
  • The Secret of Monkey Island is the most well regarded Monkey Island game by reviewers and every sequel has been compared to it. This is despite the fact it doesn't have as much a comedic tone, only allows you to visit two islands, and several of the characters have less cartoony personalities than they do later (notably Guybrush is less clumsy and LeChuck is less hammy.). Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge is the one that set the tone for the sequels and it or the third game The Curse of Monkey Island are usually considered to be the series' highlight by fans.
  • Tetris: No matter how many variations the Tetris Company has kept creating, the classic Tetris remains the most recognized one even today.
    • And no matter how many different versions are released, the Game Boy music is the most recognizable. In particular "Korobeiniki" (a.k.a. Music A) is "The Tetris Song."
  • "Hey, Blaster Master was a great NES game, wasn't it?... What's that? There's a second game on the Genesis? And a couple of Game Boy titles? Huh, never heard of 'em..." This trope was largely reinforced when Blasting Again was released on the PSX as a budget title ($7.88 brand new!), and then the later WiiWare release of Overdrive.
    • The second game is mostly forgotten by fans (and for good reason). Blaster Master Boy was a Dolled-Up Installment of a Japanese game called Bomber King. Enemy Below was a Mission Pack Sequel of the first game with new maps, bosses and weapons.
  • Dino Crisis. The X Meets Y premise was what grabbed original fans, and few who have played the sequels think that they are better than the original.
  • The first Viewtiful Joe game is said to be the best in the series, despite the successful sales and good reviews of the sequels.
  • For anyone who is familiar with the X-COM series, there are no games after the first one. The sequel is essentially the same game with a swapped palette and a higher difficulty level. No mention goes to the Raygun Gothic Apocalypse and the space fighter simulator Interceptor. The jury's still out on the Firaxis remake XCOM: Enemy Unknown. (Note: Firaxis includes some of the original developers from Microprose, including the great Sid Meier).
  • Pac-Man is a definite example. Whenever Pac-Man is referenced somewhere it'll always be the original game, and it'll be his Graphics-Induced Super-Deformed form. Indeed when he appeared as a Guest Fighter in Super Smash Bros he used his now outdated design from Pac-Land and Pac-Man World rather than his modern Ghostly Adventures self and even becomes a 3D repreesntation of his original self.
  • It's generally agreed that Mega Man X is the best Mega Man X game, with its epic storytelling and soundtrack, and the only sequel that may come close is X4.
  • Toejam And Earl, full stop. Its immediate sequel, Panic on Funkotron!, wasn't a bad game, but the fact that it was so different from the first game turned off a lot of fans. The third game, Mission to Earth, however, suffered hard from the Polygon Ceiling to the point of being a Franchise Killer.
  • Tomba!! is remembered by many for its charming atmosphere, witty humor, and unique style of gameplay. About the only thing most people remember about The Evil Swine Return is the hilariously bad voice acting.
  • The NES version of Action 52 is a lot more infamous than the Sega Genesis version, despite (or rather because of) having a lot worse programming.
  • Taomee's Seer and Mole's World has more contents than their sequels and many people stick to them instead of shifting to their sequels, as well as characters in the original games are more well known than those in the sequels. Taomee even noticed that Mole's World 2 had less attention and players than the previous game so they decided not to update it anymore.
  • The original series of Sonic the Hedgehog games released for the Mega Drive/Genesis back in the early-to-mid 90s continue to be by far the most well known games in the still ongoing franchise. Green Hill Zone and its boss the Checkered Wrecker are the most familiar in the franchise.
  • Unreal is widely acclaimed for its amazing visuals, explorative nature, solid enemy AI, long single-player campaign and surprisingly deep world-building from text logs alone; to boot, great quality custom campaign mods are made and released for it even as of 2013. Compare that with how many times you hear someone talk about Unreal II: The Awakening, even if it is to complain about its shortcomings.
  • Unreal Tournament, the multiplayer side of the Unreal franchise, is also subject to this: Unreal Tournament was released in 1999, UT2003 in 2003, UT2004 in 2004 and UT3 in 2007. UT2003 is considered the worst. There is a Broken Base case between UT3 and UT2004, because UT2004 was very different but very popular, while UT3 tried to get the best out of UT2004 and UT99, resulting in a game which is a sort of middle-ground, had a mixed reception and was never as popular as 2004 and 99. Everyone, however, agrees that UT99 was the single best game.
  • Fairyland Online players generally agree that it is better than its sequel Fairyland Online 2. The sequel remains to be a Contested Sequel among them.
  • Another World's sequel, Heart of the Alien, was disowned by the original author as well as a large portion of the fanbase. It was also only released on the Sega CD, whereas the first game got a release on practically every 16-bit and 32-bit gaming platform.
  • Ask RollerCoaster Tycoon fans what their favorite game in the series is, and they'll most likely say the first one. The second and third games do have their fans, but the second one is generally not as well remembered due to making almost no substantial changes to the formula and having less memorable scenarios, and the third is only remembered for including a sandbox mode and not much else.
  • The original Deus Ex is considered by many fans to be the best in the series and still one of the best PC games ever, with mods still being made for it to this days. While Deus Ex: Human Revolution is also well liked, many people agree that the first game is still the best in the series. However, they aren't particularly fond of Deus Ex: Invisible War.

    Webcomics 
  • Not an instance involving nostalgia or memories, but: the first episode of Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff is by an enormous margin the most oft-quoted and most subject to Memetic Mutation outside the Homestuck fanbase. Virtually everyone knows about stairs and warnings thereof, but the chances of hearing about any other quotations from the series aren't all that great. This is partly because that first entry is always the one that comes up when you load the comic's home page (as it displays the first comic, not the most recent one), and partly because it's one of the more commonly-referenced pages within Homestuck itself.

    Web Original 
  • Fan re-dubbed clip-shows, originating from god-knows-where, are generally referred to in their respective forms and themes by the originators of them. Examples include: AMV Hell, which has become a catch-all term for any clip show featuring several different Anime series; Phoenix Wrong, for Flash-made Ace Attorney-based clip shows.
  • On the SCP Foundation website, the first SCP made (173) is the highest-rated and locked from editing.
  • Everyone's heard of Haunted Majora's Mask. Greatly fewer have heard of the Moon Children, and hardly anyone outside of Within Hubris has heard of Ryukaki.
  • Twitch Plays Pokémon. It started with Red, and became a sensation almost overnight. By the time it finished, over 100,000+ people had participated, over 20 million people saw it and many memes and religions were formed. Then it moved on to Crystal, and almost overnight the participants plummeted to over 10,000, which has continued to half for the next two runs.

    Western Animation 
  • One of the most famous of Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies is "The Skeleton Dance", the first one ever made.
  • Whenever Transformers is ever referenced in popular media, the references will almost always be about the original cartoon (with occasional mentions of the AllSpark). By now, though, the movieverse has eclipsed all else when it comes to what the world at large (as opposed to actual fans of the franchise) thinks of when they think of it; by now, you'll hear the name "Bumblebee" even more than "Optimus Prime" in passing due to 'Bee's increased screentime. However, the franchise deserves special mention in terms of this this trope because of the purist fans - to them, G1 isn't just the most memorable, but They Changed It, Now It Sucks as practically a religion. It's hard to find a Star Trek fan who hates TNG for simply not being TOS, but if you dare suggest something not G1 is something other than garbage, let alone better, well... it won't be pretty.
  • Ben 10 has three entries, the original, the Time Skip sequel, and... The other timeskipped sequel. The other two sequels have generally mixed reception, with most fan loyalty going to the first series, mainly due to it being the only one the creators (Man of Action) actually worked on, making many view the other shows as Cash Cow Franchise Zombies.
    • And now there's yet another sequel! Which gets even more criticism for a combination of over-reliance on nostalgia while at the same time completely ditching the visual style of the original series that they're trying to exploit nostalgia for.
  • Until the introduction of Friendship is Magic (which has quite thoroughly displaced all previous incarnations in public perception of the franchise), the first of the My Little Pony TV Specials was considered the pinnacle of the franchise. The second special is a Contested Sequel while everything afterwards is a Love It or Hate It deal, even the aforementioned FIM.
  • Teen Titans is now an example of this after the follow-up show Teen Titans Go! debut in 2013. Many fans reject the comedy, low-action, Negative Continuity aspect of the show (essentially taking only the comedic elements of the original cartoon, putting them on steroids and tossing out everything else), especially since the show replaced Young Justice, a show many fans wanted to see continue with a third season.
  • The earliest seasons of The Simpsons tend to be the most well-known, partly because the show had real shock value in the early 1990s and wasn't yet facing competition from South Park, Family Guy, and other competition.
  • The original 1969-1971 run of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! is by far the most popular and influential incarnation of the Scooby-Doo franchise, being the origin of all of the franchise's famous memes and Once an Episode conventions. More recently, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated became the most ambitious and critically acclaimed show to bear the Scooby-Doo name, but it will likely never beat the original for recognition (see page quote).
  • While the Total Drama series incorporates New Season, New Name, Island is the only season to get near-universal acclaim by the fanbase.

    Other 
  • The 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang. Aka, the quintessential Cool Car.
    • Applies to pretty much any '60s American muscle car whose brand name continued to be produced beyond the '70s fuel crisis.
    • This can also apply to any car model or car enthusiast movement that catches on and evolves, even if the latter reiterations bring key improvements due to more advanced technologies or adapts successfully to changing market/cultural trends to prolong its life.
  • Just about everyone in the Western World at least knows the name of Hannibal Barca, who famously led an army from Northern Africa across Western Europe, eventually crossing the Alps with his elephants into Italy. His younger brother, Hasdrubal, did the exact same thing but did it second so no one cares.
    • Speaking of the Punic Wars, a lot of really famous things and people actually came out of the Second War: Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, the crossing of the Alps, Fabian tactics, war elephants, etc. If one were to ask about the Punic Wars, or Carthage, Hannibal would come to mind first, despite being in only one of three, and at that the second, thus averting this trope in a larger sense.
  • If asked to name Roman Emperors, most people will reel off the names of the very earliest ones, like Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero. Slightly later names like Hadrian, Trajan and Marcus Aurelius are usually recognised, but anyone after 200 AD will be virtually unknown.
    • The only exception to this rule is another example of it. Most people will have heard of Emperor Constantine I, but know him simply as Constantine, despite the fact that there were a further ten Emperor Constantines after him. He's also known as the founder of the city of Constantinople and, by extension (in popular culture), the Byzantine Empire, so there's that angle as well.
  • The original, "0th" edition of Dungeons & Dragons has a devoted following to this day, despite being released in 1974 and having (depending on how you count it) 6 versions after it.
  • One of the early architects of the World Wide Web, Robert Cailliau, was quite aware of this being a possibility, and insisted that those who designed HTML should design a client-side script with it. They didn't and NetScape came up with JavaScript, which he claims is the worst programming language ever and the most hideous kluge in computing. He also admitted that this trope is the reason we're stuck with it.
    • The same with Flash. It was supposed to be a vector animation based media container to keep animation sizes small in the early days of the web. The Adobe added all this other stuff on top of it. Flash just eats memory and CPU cycles and has become the de-facto media container. HTML5 is supposed to remedy this, but Flash appears to be going kicking and screaming.
  • Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon.
  • In regards to classic gaming franchises, Sean Malstrom almost always regards the first installments to be the best, especially if the installment was released on the NES. He holds to this idea so fervently that he actually regards Super Metroid and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, games that most fans and critics consider Even Better Sequels, to be the points when their respective franchises started going downhill.
  • In economics, this is known as a network effect.
  • This trope might have hindered Linux adoption on the desktop. If you're not a geek, why install Linux when you have a perfectly good Windows OS on your machine?
    • This is certainly the case with many experienced users preferring Windows XP over the subsequent releases: Vista, 7, and 8.
      • Though XP is itself at least the fifth major version of Windows (assuming you consider 98 to be "95.5" and ME to have not existed at all), it's the first version that was unambiguously a complete operating system in its own right (versions prior to 95 were basically just graphical shells running on top of MS-DOS, and even 95 and 98 needed to boot to MS-DOS briefly as part of their loading process).
      • The UI also falls into this. One Microsoft blog said that they were toying with the idea of putting the taskbar on the left side instead of the bottom by default, but...


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