Gateway Series

"It starts with an innocent game of Cake Mania, and soon you've bought a Nintendo DS, and before you know it, BAM! You're out on the street corner, teeth chattering, waiting in line for Burning Crusades."
Extra Credits, Video Games and the Female Audience, a Pre-Escapist Episode. note 

A Gateway Series is a series that introduces a significant niche of viewers to a genre that is new to them, and that is a positive enough introduction for them to hunt down other examples of the genre.

Trope Namer: In the drug world, a gateway drug is a drug that entices you or makes it easier to try other drugs. This name is mostly used by anti-drug programs, so there is debate about whether gateway drugs are real. But gateway series, ones that makes you start watching new genres you never used to watch, are definitely real.

Even if you don't grow too passionate about the genre after watching a Gateway Series, after a few years you'll still end up with a vast knowledge about it and maybe a big pile of DVDs. If you do become passionate, then your room may be devoted to your new addiction. It all depends on how strongly you embrace your new tastes.

Someone's personal Gateway Series will be granted immunity from criticism thanks to the Nostalgia Filter.

Gateway series often have some things in common, mostly anything that causes a good first impression, both from the series and the entire genre. Each genre has a certain pattern, so to enjoy it you have to grow accustomed to those unique quirks. Thus, many Gateway Series blend styles or cross genres together; you are attracted to the series by quirks you already have and so get used to the new ones that way. Thus, Japanese Anime that has Western-style storytelling makes for good gates. d Maturity level also matters. In genres with age ghettos, a Gateway Series will likely double as What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids? Or have many Parental Bonuses.

Deep, intricate storylines or massive loads of action are common, as well as being weird in a fun and upbeat way. Those things help you realize that this genre can have a lot of good and different stuff to offer.

Gateway Series must be good in some sense, and must not have much more squick than normally comes with the genre. Otherwise, you would be turned off. If it does work, these tend to be (though not always are) responsible for a Newbie Boom for either the overall franchise the series might be part of (espeically for a Long Runner) -or- for the "genre" it's part of, the success of Anime in North America during the early-to-mid 90's for example owes a lot to this as explored below.

Compare Breakthrough Hit, the gateway to a creator; Star-Making Role, the gateway to an actor; and Killer App, the gateway to a console. Contrast It's Popular, Now It Sucks. Not to be confused with the Gateway series or its video game adaptation. See also TV Tropes as a Gateway Drug.


Important Note: The classifying of anything as being a 'gateway something' does not in any way imply that it is less good than the less accessible material it leads on to. All that we're saying is that for a lot of people, these examples lead on to discovering and enjoying other things. It's not a value judgement, just an observation of how fans tend to start from common points.

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    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • Pick any comic book that has been adapted to Hollywood blockbuster format. Or, pick any comic book that has an Animated Adaptation you used to watch when you were a child. Familiarity plays a very important role here.
  • Or the other way around, a TV show that has been adapted into a comic book such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • The Sandman by Neil Gaiman was many people's first exposure to Urban Fantasy, as well as introducing them to concepts like story-within-the-story and by deciphering its many references, got people interested in Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges and also told them unfamiliar parts of William Shakespeare's life, namely that he had a son named Hamnet.
  • Watchmen by Alan Moore raised the graphic novel to a level of "cultural seriousness" and it became one of the first books that many non-comic readers read in detail.
  • Fables
  • ElfQuest
  • Maus
  • Persepolis
  • Preacher to Vertigo Comic Books.
  • There have been reports of people — not just bronies — getting into comics period thanks to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW). The first issue was one of top 100 best selling comics in 2012. An all-ages comic doing this is good news for the industry! The first issue also does a good job of introducing the main characters and tone of Friendship Is Magic for anyone who hasn't actually watched the show, though you might still wonder what a "cutie mark" is.
  • An example that's still too new to see if it'll really have this effect, but interesting regardless: the new Ms. Marvel. According to store owners, unprecedented levels of new customers, especially Muslim women and girls, are following the adventures of Kamala Khan. Ms. Marvel is the only comic book that does better in digital sales than the traditional floppy format, and is Marvel's best-selling digital title. The problem is, store owners and publishers are at something of a loss as to how to get these new readers actually through the gateway, because there just aren't that many funny, brightly-colored books about young girls. Still, upcoming books like Gotham Academy and revamps like November's Batgirl seem to be looking to Kamala for guidance.
  • The Killing Joke is often identified as a good gateway to Batman comics, most famously by Tim Burton.
  • Archie Comics is a gateway series into comics due to it's availability (it can be brought in supermarkets and stores unlike most American comics) and it's mostly kid-friendly nature.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • Calvin and Hobbes is a gateway to many people's love of newspaper comics, and sometimes even to the newspaper comics that influenced it.
  • Ironically, one of the above's influences, Peanuts, likewise serves as an ideal gateway series for fans of newspaper comics.


     Food and Drink 
  • Starbucks has gotten a lot of Americans into gourmet coffee and espresso, even if hipsters still scoff at them. It's also where a lot of teenagers since the '90s have had their first taste of coffee.
  • Sushi is a gateway into Japanese cuisine for most Westerners. It and ramen are often the only Japanese foods westerners know about.
  • While Blue Moon may not actually be a craft beer (it's manufactured by MillerCoor's), it's commonly attributed as the beer that inspires drinkers to seek out those craft beers.

     Furry Fandom 
As one of the larger general media fandoms, furs do have their own share of gateway series for many members of the fandom for varying reasons. For more see Popular with Furries. Some of the main gateways are animated television series such as:

Then there are feature films that act as gateways.

And literature:

And lot of webcomics

And a several video games:


    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who can be a gateway series for non-Brits to introduce them to British Telly, British sci-fi, or British culture in general. They may then move on to Life On Mars or something similar. Generally anything shown on PBS stations.
    • As a sub-example, the Eight Doctor was intended as a gateway for American sci-fi fans to get into Doctor Who without a massive Archive Panic, but the Ninth Doctor proved to be a much better and more popular entry point.
    • And the novelisations in the 70s and 80s served as a gateway into reading for many young fans. Quite a few of whom went on to have successful careers as professional writers in TV, literature, or and/or comics.
    • The new series tends to be a good entry point to the Classic stuff, and a line of DVDs pairing New and Classic stories was even released for this purpose. There are many stories of people who fell in love with David Tennant, checked out the other new series Doctors, checked out the Classic serial "Genesis of the Daleks", and (some Archive Panic later) became the sort of person who has very strong opinions about the writing in Missing Episodes.
  • Similarly, Downton Abbey might be to British Costume Drama what Doctor Who is to British Sci-Fi. Downton has become something of a surprise sleeper hit on American PBS stations. While Doctor Who might lead people to Being Human and Merlin (2008), Downton might lead them to the new Upstairs Downstairs and The Hour.
  • Stargate SG-1 is an excellent show for getting people into sci-fi shows, with it involving modern day soldiers in a variety of settings and starting off with more of an action feel, before going deeper into the sci-fi.
  • Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger is a gateway series for those who entered Sentai fandom earlier than Gekiranger.
  • Your average western toku fan's story goes a little something like this: "Gee, I sure did like Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers when I was little! So wait, it's actually an adaptation of a Japanese show? I think I'll check it out- wow, this sure is a good show!" And it goes on from there.
  • A popular gateway series to Kamen Rider is Kamen Rider Den-O. Only Kamen Rider Decade and Kamen Rider Double are like Den-O so it's not especially representative of Kamen Rider.
    • A more representative example for Kamen Rider would be Kamen Rider Ryuki, as many of the trends and tropes used in modern Rider series were first used in Ryuki.
    • Meanwhile, Kamen Rider V3 can easily qualify as one to the various Showa-era series, due to being the only entry to get a legitimate R1 release.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim also has a reputation of bringing in new fans, particularly because of Gen Urobuchi being the show runner.
  • Odds are that if you ask someone who got into Ultra Series during the Heisei era what their first show was, if it wasn't the one that was currently airing at the time they got into the franchise, they'll tell you it was Ultraman Tiga - partially due to the fact that it's one of the few series that has been shown on US Television, thanks to a Gag Dub courtesy of 4Kids Entertainment.
  • If it weren't for Star Trek there probably wouldn't be half as many sci fi nerds as there are now. In fact, there probably wouldn't be as many people in the space industry.
  • Skins was also a gateway series to British Shows like Misfits and The Inbetweeners.
  • Iron Chef was a gateway series on two levels, one for the Cooking Show genre and two, for Japanese Game Shows in general.
  • Firefly can be this for those who don't know or didn't pay any attention to Joss Whedon, particularly those who were a little too young to be into Buffy the Vampire Slayer in its heyday and/or are turned off from the whole vampire thing by other franchises.
  • Rescue 911 has been this to Crime, Survival, and rescue shows. Not to mention, a couple people who watched the show in The '90s were inspired in part by this show to become Police officers, firefighters, emergency dispatchers, and paramedics.
  • Babylon 5 seemed to attract a certain segment of viewers who weren't otherwise sci-fi fans.
  • JAG is a combination of a Military and Warfare Television and Law Procedural, so it could be argued that it may serve as a gateway to either genre.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus, Mr. Bean, Blackadder and Fawlty Towers to British comedy in general.
  • QI frequently serves as an introduction to the concept of the British Panel Show for non-Brits, being one of the most popular and acclaimed of the genre.
  • In the 90's, Nickelodeon dived heavily into Genre Roulette, with an incredibly diverse and varied collection of live-action programming that spanned almost every conceivable genre. For kids who grew up during that time, something on Nickelodeon probably served as a kid-friendly gateway to your genre of choice, ranging from sitcoms (Clarissa Explains It All, The Adventures of Pete & Pete,) sketch comedy (You Can't Do That on Television,) mystery (The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo,) sci-fi (The Tomorrow People, Space Cases,) even horror (Are You Afraid of the Dark?)
  • Boys Before Flowers is known for being one of the most popular Korean Dramas and introducing many western fans to the genre.
  • Thunderbirds is by far the most popular show in the Gerry Anderson canon, and has introduced countless fans to the rest of his shows.
    • As the first puppet show by Gerry Anderson in over 15 years, Terrahawks was a similar gateway series to many 80's kids.
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries in the The '70s was an enticement for young viewers to try out not only the novels of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, but also reading fiction in the novel format in general.
  • Dramaland serves as a good jumping off point for the world of Korean drama, starring an American protagonist, having the characters explain K-drama-exclusive tropes to each other as plot points, and featuring plenty of gorgeous Korean men and tongue-in-cheek humour. The fact that a lot of the tropes are ones familiar to Western viewers from American-style Soap Opera helps keep it accessible.
  • Reality series Project Runway has gotten a lot of people interested in fashion design, and America's Next Top Model has done the same with fashion modeling.

  • Devo is a definite gateway into 80's Synth-Pop, New Wave Music, and Punk Rock.
  • With the help of YouTube, Straight No Chaser and their humorous renditon of "The 12 Days of Christmas" make a nice gateway into A Cappella groups such as the Clef Hangers.
    • Not to mention Rockapella's appearances on Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego, probably the first exposure many had to a cappella groups in the 90s.
    • Since Woodstock and through much of the 80's, Sha Na Na occupied the same position as gateway group to a cappella singing, sharing it with The Manhattan Transfer. Which group was your gateway primarily depended on your age and whether your preferred musical style was doo-wop rock-and-roll or swing/jazz.
    • In the '60s and early '70s it was The Swingle Singers.
    • The movie Pitch Perfect is one for mainstream audiences.
  • The music composed for shows such as Doctor Who or Battlestar Galactica can be a gateway for more classical music and famous composers.
  • Electronic Music has had many different artists from different genres that have served as this across the years.
    • For many, Daft Punk have been a gateway band for a good part of the 90s and 00s.
    • Similarly, Aphex Twin is one of the most well-known electronic artists in the world, and is often the first one people listen to before exploring other artists.
    • Skrillex is widely credited for being the gateway artist for Dubstep. In fact, dubstep in general is often credited by American EDM fans as the genre that got them into electronic music, contributing to the massive EDM boom of The New '10s.
    • Armin Van Buuren and his long running radio show A State of Trance served as the gateway for trance.
  • Green Day, Nirvana, AgainstMe! and NOFX are all punk bands who, though derided for going "mainstream", often act as Gateways to more underground and DIY punk rock.
  • The Police has served as a gateway for New Wave Music and 80's rock in general.
  • Some of the more mainstream nu-metal bands like Linkin Park, Slipknot, and Korn, while not particularly heavy (though heavy enough to be metal), have served as good Gateways to much heavier and varied subgenres of the heavy metal musical umbrella.
  • Pendulum is this for Drum'n'Bass. Although before them, there was Goldie.
  • The Prodigy brought an audience of alties in The '90s to electronic dance music in general, thanks to being just harsh enough to appeal to them while maintaining their electronic roots.
  • Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War's usage of Hispanic-styled music has led many to look into the style.
  • Enya serves a gateway to both Celtic music and New Age music.
  • Nirvana, and to a lesser extent Pearl Jam, serve as a gateway to grunge at first, and then to alternative music in general. Sometimes this also leads to non-mainstream music of other genres in general. Kurt Cobain in particular has drawn more attention to Daniel Johnston by wearing a Hi, How Are You shirt. Covering songs by artists like The Vaselines, Meat Puppets, Lead Belly on Nirvana's MTV Unplugged in New York also brought a whole audience to these artists.
  • Joy Division often serves as a gateway to all manner of 70s and 80s punk, post-punk and goth bands.
  • Pink Floyd have become this for Progressive Rock, due to their relative accessibility compared with most prog bands. Yes, Genesis and Rush are also common gateways for the same reason.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers are a gateway into funk for many people. So are Talking Heads.
  • George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic are another BIG gateway into funk, as is James Brown, the Godfather of Soul himself.
  • Bob Marley and The Wailers are the usual gateway into Reggae and dub. Also, they've covered many songs from the mento, calypso, soul, doo wop, funk and African genres which means that hearing the originals can often attract people to those genres as well.
  • The Clash are a gateway into many genres such as punk, rock and roll, reggae and dub.
  • Jamiroquai's early work in the acid jazz style is a gateway into Latin jazz.
  • Many rap musicians who sample from groove and jazz records find this, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Grand Puba, Digable Planets and A Tribe Called Quest for instance all sample from Funk and Jazz records which often leads to people finding the origins of the samples.
  • Chances are, if someone was born and raised in America and is a fan of any or all metal from Germany, Rammstein is responsible.
  • Japan (the band) and their solo work are known for introducing people to piano music such as Erik Satie as well as Japanese music such as Yellow Magic Orchestra. Sylvian's solo work also is a gateway into the ambient and new age genres.
  • Outside of Japan, FLCL could be considered a gateway series for the music of The Pillows, and Japanese alternative and indie rock music as a whole.
  • Due to the band's brief American pop radio success in the mid-2000s, Modest Mouse were a gateway band into the world of indie rock for many future fans of the genre.
  • Any time a song is used in a movie/TV show/game/etc., it gets people into that song or band.
  • Mumford & Sons is a gateway to the British Folk genre, and in turn indie music. Coldplay can also be considered a gateway into indie music.
    • Perhaps the best example of the last DECADE is "Kids" from Oracular Spectacular by MGMT. Without that, songs like 1901 by Phoenix and Pumped Up Kicks by Foster The People would not become popular. Both this and the above example of Mumford led to Adele having a worldwide smash and Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know hitting number one for weeks and weeks.
  • Miles Davis for jazz in general; Kind of Blue in particular, but also, due to his many Genre Shifts and enormous fame, for a number of jazz subgenres, including cool jazz, hard bop, post-bop, and fusion.
  • For many in the '90s, Scatman John was a gateway to scat singing.
  • Radiohead, thanks to their incredibly successful fusion of icy post-modern electronica and grungy alternative rock, can be a gateway to Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, Autechre, and other electronic artists for fans of Three Chords and the Truth who might have otherwise written off electronic music as 'fake' or boring.
  • Eminem for rap music in a way. Being the most successful rapper, and an abnormality due to people's preconceptions of skin color with rap music, probably has something to do with it.
  • 3oh!3 is the most successful crunkcore artist for better or worse, so naturally it's safe to assume they're a gateway...
  • Chances are Miku Hatsune will be your first experience with Vocaloid.
  • The Beatles:
    I got into The Beatles. And then... instead of most people going from The Beatles to The Stones to Zep, The Doors, I went from The Beatles to The Monkees to The Archies to The Cowsills.
  • The Beach Boys for '60s pop; Pet Sounds for Baroque Pop as well.
  • The Rolling Stones covered so many blues standards that many rock fans discovered Blues acts like Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Robert Johnson,... thanks to them.
    • The Brian Jones-produced Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka introduced many rock fans to traditional Moroccan folk music.
    • This seems to be much of the purpose behind the "British Blues" scene and much of The British Invasion rock in general — to expose rock fans to blues, folk, jazz and early rock influences (African-American especially) by basically incorporating it into a more contemporary rock or rock-friendly electric blues style.
    • The Blues Brothers and its sequel has lead many film-goers to seek out blues, gospel, folk, and older popular music.
  • If you're a rock fan who got into country, Gram Parsons is most likely responsible. Alternatively, Johnny Cash, thanks to the American Recordings albums.
  • B.B. King, as the King of Blues.
    • Alternatively, Howlin' Wolf for the more "down home" but "heavy electric" brand of blues — or Jimmy Reed for the more "gentle" but still "heavy electric" brand of blues.
  • Justin Bieber has created a massive resurgence of teen pop. While many Bieberesque singers and boy bands started their careers after his took off, only one such act has had comparable success to Bieber: One Direction (and by extension their members' solo careers).
  • Nine Inch Nails for Industrial Metal.
  • Jellyfish, Cheap Trick or Big Star for fans of Power Pop.
  • Cocteau Twins for Dream Pop.
  • John Williams is a common gateway into both film soundtracks and classical music. His soundtrack for Star Wars frequently appears on lists of essential classical music recordings for new classical fans.
  • Lana Del Rey and Lorde for 'alternative' pop.
  • Frank Zappa has lead many people to discover Captain Beefheart, by having the singer appear on records like Hot Rats and Bongo Fury and producing Trout Mask Replica. Zappa also made his audience appreciate modern classical music, especially dissonant works. If you listen a lot to his albums you're bound to be able to enjoy listening to difficult composers like Edgard Varčse, Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Alban Berg, Anton Webern better, because you are more used to this experimental sound.
  • Ry Cooder's collaborations with Ali Farka Toure and Buena Vista Social Club has made this local artists more famous in the rest of the world.
  • Jazz fusion artists, including Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis, Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorious, Weather Report and Joni Mitchell's mid-late '70s albums, have introduced a lot of rock fans to jazz.
  • Lots of Progressive Rock fans get into classical and jazz music. It's not surprising given that many prog musicians are steeped in these genres. It also goes the other way. Plenty of classical and jazz snobs have gotten a toehold into rock through prog.
  • Video game soundtracks are a major gateway into classical music for younger listeners, to the point where many symphonies now regularly hold concerts with video game music.
  • Nobuo Uematsu in particular, with his extensive work on the Final Fantasy series, his love of using leitmotif, and the acclaim his music has garnered in all forms, is a common entry point.
  • BABYMETAL can be seen as gateway series for introducing metal fans to j-pop (or vice versa).
  • The Sugarcubes, Björk and Sigur Rós are all major gateways into Icelandic rock and pop music.
  • When it comes to Christian rock, Skillet and Red are two gateways amongst rock fans who normally are averse to the genre. Not Christian Rock bands like Flyleaf also help.
  • David Bowie:
    • Bowie's Let's Dance album and persona was an era of very accessible commercial pop that can be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys 80s hits, serving as a gateway to his weirder stuff like his Nazi crooner character, the musical theatre soundtrack album for a musical that never existed, and the time he was pretending to be an alien.
    • Bowie also earned a lot of fans from his role as Jareth in Labyrinth, due to the film being aimed at children who weren't old enough to understand all the Nietzsche references, cocaine and experimental content in his music. Eventually, those children grew up and checked out his back catalogue.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven's most popular pieces such as "Für Elise", the "Moonlight Sonata", "Ode to Joy" and the Fifth Symphony have convinced many a listener to explore more Classical Music. It helps that Beethoven is perhaps the best-known composer in popular culture (movies about Saint Bernard's notwithstanding), so he's a logical starting place.

    New Media 

  • Space Shuttle revitalized pinball in the 1980's with a very simple gimmick: A scale model of a NASA space shuttle. Once people were drawn to the machine because of the scale model, they enjoyed the approachable gameplay and clear objectives. The success of Space Shuttle encouraged operators to buy more pinball machines and increased sales of pinball all around for the next decade.
  • The pinball machine themed on South Park (the physical one built by SEGA, not the digital ones from Zen Studios) is an unusual case in that it attracts people who would have never otherwise touched pinball, with its very simple and straightforward layout in an age when other pinball machines can easily be overwhelming to a normal person, but has a pretty small effect on introducing these players to other pinball machines (most likely because of the outrageous prices these machines sell for limiting player's access to them). For operators, however, because it's so easy for a beginner to understand it, South Park earns good money in public, which allows other pinball machines nearby to earn more too. Hence, South Park can be seen as a gateway for operators to put pinball in various establishments, and as a result, a South Park machine is rarely found alone in public.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • If you're a wrestling fan under 30, with very few exceptions,note  you started out watching WWF or WCW. As well, chances are you still watch WWE.


  • Mandriva Linux and Ubuntu are meant to be easy-to-set-up, easy-to-use gateways into the world of Linux, as reflected in Ubuntu's slogan, "Linux for human beings", and with people often switching to more complex distros such as Red Hat, Fedora or openSUSE, and some of them later graduating to technical distros such as Debian, Gentoo, Slackware, Arch, or even leaving Linux and switching to BSD or OpenSolaris.
  • Either Java, Python or C and some of its successors(C++ and C#) are considered some of the main gateways to learning programming in general due to their accessibility and versatility in different fields.
  • If you have taken a web design class, chances are that you've familiarized yourself with HTML(Hyper Text Markup Language)

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition in particular has been rather successful at being friendly to new players.
    • New editions of D&D in general seem to do this. Much the same thing happened when 3rd Edition came out, and the gaming scene in general saw a big boost in the wake of the open-content d20 System.
      • With a few exceptions; Jonny-Come-Latelies joining at the height of 3.5 (Or now since 4th edition groups are rather rare) would probably find themselves swarmed with dozens upon dozens (if not even a hundred or more) of the various kinds of books, including but not limited to the player's handbook, monster manual, magical items, expansion books, class-detail books (Like Complete Divine), update books, and more.
    • Has also been used negatively by gamers in reference to D&D. Some gamers, for instance, feel that D&D is a shallower and less "worthy" part of the tabletop gaming industry and that it's so popular only because it's so easy to get into.
    • Players and fans of 3.5 have now have its Spiritual Successor, Paizo's Pathfinder
  • Vampire: The Masquerade of the Old World of Darkness has been a more recent gateway game.
    • In particular, its simplicity compared to D&D and its modern horror setting has meant that it's attractive to a lot of people who otherwise might not be interested in role playing. It also is pretty much focused on letting the players be anti-heroes (or outright bad guys) which is definitely more attractive to angsty teens.
  • Warhammer 40,000 is often a gateway to Tabletop Games as a whole. You start with 40k after coming across it as a teen, then after a few years you might move along and start playing a spin-off game or even Warhammer. If you play at a multi-gaming club, you'll probably end up at the very least being interested in those systems as well and there's no telling just how many you might get into.
  • Board games such as HeroQuest often serve as a gateway to Tabletop RPG gaming.
  • Tunnels & Trolls was explicitly designed as a simpler, easier-to-play clone of D&D, in an attempt to bring in new gamers. It never did achieve the popularity of D&D, but there is a sizable group of tabletop gamers that cut their teeth on T&T.
  • Western Computer RPGs, like Baldur's Gate or Knights of the Old Republic, particularly ones based on an existing system like Dungeons & Dragons or The Dark Eye, often result in players making the leap from video games to tabletop games.
  • The Choose Your Own Adventure, Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf books were a gateway for many roleplayers of the 80s.
  • The Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! card game led eventually to Magic: The Gathering for lots of players. Helped by the fact that a lot of sanctioned tournaments of the former shared venues with tournaments for the latter. Also, the huge media presence (straddling many years) and child-friendly image of both Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh practically guarantees that these will be the first CCGs people get into.
    • And, in turn, a number of Magic pros who become accustomed to making high-stakes probabilistic decisions end up transitioning to poker (most notably David Williams).
    • Duels of the Planeswalkers is another avenue for new players; specifically those in the video game world.
  • The Dark Eye is the Gateway system in German-speaking countries, despite beeing the deepest system around.
  • Settlers of Catan is well known for getting people who thought they outgrew board games back into them.

  • RENT, Les Misérables, Avenue Q, and Wicked for musicals.
  • Cirque du Soleil's various shows have introduced a lot of people, particularly in North America, to the contemporary circus genre.
  • Mozart's Singspiel The Magic Flute because it is often performed in the local language, has dialogue in addition to singing, a fairytale-like story and wonderful music. If you ever saw an opera as a child, odds are high that it was The Magic Flute. Also, to a lesser extent, The Marriage of Figaro.
  • Hamilton: In an interview for his grammy nomination, Lin-Manuel Miranda said that he felt Hamilton had become a gateway show in two different directions: theatre fans came in without ever having had any interest in hip-hop and came out realising how great it could be and wanting to learn more, while hip-hop fans went in skeptically and came out realising that they might've prejudged musical theatre.
  • The Nutcracker is universally recognized as "Baby's First Ballet", as it's almost always the first ballet any young child sees. It's also festive holiday fare that makes it attractive to non-theater-goers. Honorable mention in this category also goes to Swan Lake.

    Video Games 
  • After The Great Video Game Crash of 1983, people thought gaming was dead... but then enters Super Mario Bros. bundled with the NES...
  • Final Fantasy VII was a gateway RPG for a lot of players — to the detriment of the genre, some might argue. And it doubled as a bit of a gateway introduction to anime as well.
    • It was also a gateway to PlayStation games in general.
    • The Final Fantasy series as a whole can be considered a gateway to RPGs.
    • Super Mario RPG is a a very good introductory RPG too.
    • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest was deliberately designed to be a gateway to RPGs, simplifying the gameplay dramatically. Unforunately, not only did it fail to attract the mainstream as expected, but RPG fans derided the game for being extremely easy and formulaic.
    • Tim Schafer's Costume Quest is extremely short and easy because it was meant to introduce very young children to RPGs.
  • The Baldur's Gate series, the Mass Effect series, and the The Elder Scrolls series frequently serve as gateways to the Western RPG genre. The Elder Scrolls likewise doubles as a Wide Open Sandbox gateway.
  • Not only can Pokémon count as a gateway to anime, it's also a gateway to the Mons genre and to some extent to RPGs and hardcore gaming in general.
  • Many games designed by Nintendo for the DS, Wii, and WiiU were intended to be gateway videogames for people who never tried them before — like Wii Sports, Video Game/Nintendogs, Elite Beat Agents, Nintendo Land, and so on.
    • Nintendo has the reputation of being the video game company that makes games to introduce people to video games who never played them before, something that the company openly states being their goal. Of course, some people don't say it like that. It's hard to fault Nintendo when they're clearly getting results — games and systems, Nintendo and otherwise, are selling better than they ever have even in the economic recession.
    • In fact, let's just say Casual Games in general, though there can also be Gateway Games for certain types of Casual Games as well (e.g. Diner Dash for time management games).
  • The entries of the Total War series are all pretty likely ways that various gamers got interested in specific periods of history (Or Warhammer)
  • The Tony Hawk games are a two-way gateway — they've gotten a lot of skaters into gaming, but it's when they get gamers into skateboarding that Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Super Smash Bros. series has a wide variety of Nintendo characters, and some players might become more interested in the individual series if they see a character they'd never heard of before. The appearance of Marth and Roy in Melee for example, led to the introduction of the Fire Emblem series to the US.
    • Brawl and Wii U even have unlockable demos of several of the characters' starring games.
    • The Smash series as a whole serves as a gateway for the fighting games, specifically the Mascot Fighter genre due to its easy controls.
  • This is the intention behind the Kirby series. The games are easy enough that someone who has never played an action platformer before can get through the main game and see the ending, but at the same time offer extra challenges for older gamers seeking 100% Completion. Many of these fans then go on to play other games in the genre.
  • A variation of this trope: a lot of people become regular readers of GameFAQs after getting stuck in Guide Dang It! moments.
  • New installments of long-time series such as Castlevania — espeically Castlevania: Symphony of the Night — tend to be gateways for modern players into the world of retro gaming, especially those curious about references to characters from previous games.
    • If not into the world of retro gaming, then certainly the world of metroidvanias.
  • "People who don't like video games like Myst."
  • World of Warcraft is the most infamously addictive MMORPG out there nowadays, but those who have played it and quit often try to seek out other MMO's afterward.
  • Each generation seems to have its own gateway into the Multiplayer First-Person Shooter genre:
    • One of the earliest was Doom.
    • From the late 90s came Half-Life and Counter-Strike.
    • Halo. In particular, Halo: Combat Evolved, being a launch title for the Xbox, was the first FPS many gamers ever played. It's argued that Halo was the killer app that allowed the Xbox to compete in its early days against the wildly successful Playstation 2. So that's gotta count for something.
    • Later, both Call of Duty and Team Fortress 2 became insanely popular examples.
  • Thief, a stealth simulator, was marketed as a big new twist on the overinflated First-Person Shooter genre. It got quite a few action gamers interested in stealth games.
  • Metal Gear Solid served an almost identical function to Thief on an entirely different system. Also, due to its slow-paced gameplay, its focus on storytelling and the ability of the player to pause the action to talk to the other characters about trivial things, it also makes a great gateway series for people raised on JRPGs trying to break into Action Games.
    • Though it's rather complex for someone who has never touched a controller before, MGS has also been promoted as a counterargument to people who believe in the Video Game Ghetto—IE, that the terms "video game" and "true art" are mutually exclusive.
  • If you stick around the Dance Dance Revolution community long enough, you may come to try out other Rhythm Games — up until the release of Guitar Hero, this would be things like beatmania IIDX and Dance ManiaX.
    • Although for a lot of people it now works the other way around, with Guitar Hero or Rock Band being the gateway game that leads them to discover Dance Dance Revolution.
      • This can also work across media — Guitar Hero and Rock Band inspire people to buy and get into music from the games.
      • These two games can also turn people on to real instruments. Hilarity Ensues when they realize a real guitar's nothing like the plastic controller.
    • Of course, neither of these games would have been possible if Parappa The Rapper hadn't opened up the world of rhythm gaming to start.
      • For people who play Rhythm Games without the hand for Guitar Hero or Rock Band, Parappa the Rapper and Rhythm Heaven are both known to turn people into rhythm fanatics less on the instrument/physical side, and more on the technical/mental side.
    • As of The New '10s, Sound Voltex is this for new BEMANI fans, thanks to its low barrier to entry, wide selection of doujin music (including Touhou arranges and Vocaloid songs), cool-looking interface, and use of filter effects to give the player the impression of mixing a track in real time.
  • Street Fighter does this for 2D fighting games. The series is relatively user friendly and easy to pick up and play, leading many in more complicated games like Guilty Gear.
    • Tekken 3 was extremely influential on the popularity of 3D fighting games, and SoulCalibur was this for weapon-based games.
  • Play one addictive puzzle game, and you're bound to wind up hunting for more. Peggle and Tetris are good examples.
  • Many gamers' first Real-Time Strategy game was Warcraft II, and for good reason, too. The graphics are nice to look at, the mechanics are fairly simple compared to other RTS games, and most importantly, it's a lot of fun (including against your friends, even if they do kick your butt in 95% of the games you play with them).
  • The Super Robot Wars series can potentially be a good Gateway Series for many Giant Robot Anime, considering that the plot for each game basically takes the plot of every series involved in the Massive Multiplayer Crossover and shoves them all together.
  • The Humongous Entertainment games were designed to be like this.
  • Although Rogue was, by definition, the first Roguelike, many fans of the genre get their start with the Trope Codifier, NetHack, leading into more difficult games like Angband, and a greater acceptance for ASCII games in general.
  • Touhou has introduced many a gamer to the wonderful world of Bullet Hell shmups, though learning about their existence is as far as many Touhou fans go; it's rare to see a fan of Touhou try out other danmaku games. It's also a gateway into doujin games.
  • Although two games predate it (in America, at least), Tales of Symphonia was the Gateway Series to Tales Series for a lot of Western fans. It being one of the better RPGs on the GameCube meant that it drew a lot of attention from people who had previously dismissed the previous games in the series. Also, Tales of the Abyss to an extent, purely because it was for the PS2.
  • Quite a few people have been introduced to either the First-Person Shooter genre, PC gaming, or both by way of Team Fortress 2.
    • Thanks to TF2 being Valve's top-selling and most successful product, it has also gotten countless people who hadn't played Valve's other games into those games. Left 4 Dead has done the same.
  • Sakevisual, the artist of RE: Alistair, wants her game to become a gateway series for fans who don't yet know about otome games.
  • Interactive Fiction started the Adventure Game genre, but many felt it to be too inaccessible. The move to graphic adventures was fairly rapid, but despite some awesome games like King's Quest and Maniac Mansion they remained a niche genre for several years. Then LucasArts (at the time still a strict part of Lucasfilm) went and made a game called Loom, one of the most accessible adventure games ever created. This created a veritable explosion in the PC adventure game market, which ended almost a decade later. And for those who were not yet fully convinced, Lucas Arts followed the left punch with the right soon thereafter, giving us the most famous PC Adventure Game ever created, The Secret of Monkey Island.
  • Persona 3, Persona 4 or Persona 5 are good start for those interested in the Shin Megami Tensei series, seeing how they're generally considered the most accessible of SMT games (except for Persona 3, whose PS2 versions were very rare for a while, until it was brought to PSN). In fact, the original Persona was designed to be an easier SMT in hopes of getting more teenagers interested in the main series.
  • The Sims, with its broad market appeal, was many people's gateway to videogaming in general.
  • Kingdom Hearts got a lot of people who had not yet played Final Fantasy into the series, as well as garnering interest in any Disney film the player might not have seen yet.
  • Poker Night at the Inventory got a lot of Team Fortress 2 fans into Sam & Max: Freelance Police, Penny Arcade and Homestar Runner.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy was basically a ton of video game worlds mashed together into one giant Nintendo Hard experience. While the areas and bosses are generally well known (except for the final boss, an original character) some of the music is a little more obscure, like the Castle of the Guy theme being from Monty on the Run and the theme for the Final Tower of the Guy and the final boss's first form being from E.V.O.: Search for Eden. This game opened games like those up to more players.
  • The Civilization series is a frequent gateway to the strategy genre, particularly the Turn-Based Strategy and 4X subgenres.
  • The Sega Superstars/All-Stars series has helped gain new fans for old Sega franchises.
  • Brütal Legend introduced younger gaming audiences to a plethora of music they might not have known or shown interest in before, leading newcomers to the genre of Heavy Metal.
  • Braid served as a gateway into independent Art Games.
  • The Purple Moon games were actually designed to be gateway series. Three related series (well, two series with multiple instalments plus one Stillborn Franchise) sharing the same characters but different genres, they were produced after extensive market research to attract girls ages 8-12 to games — and thus to computers — and keep them from abandoning science and technology.
  • Part of the reason Fallout 3 is so hated by many fans of the older Fallout games is that this was an Enforced Trope for it. Bethesda made little secret of the fact that it wasn't making it for longtime fans, but instead wanted something to bring new people into the world of Fallout.
  • Minecraft is the game that introduced most people into the Survival Sandbox genre as well as inspiring a lot of indie games.
  • Splatoon is a gateway series to shooters. Many Nintendo fans are known to be averse to shooters but the simple mechanics, bright colours, kid friendly nature, and general quirkiness of the series has made a lot of gamers more interested in shooters, especially third-person ones.
  • Free-to-play licensed mobile games often serve as a tool for curious players whose friends are into the license to check it out and see what all the fuss is about. Love Live! School Idol Festival is a popular one, being an addictive Rhythm Game in its own right, and for all the enduring popularity of the Pokémon franchise, Pokémon Go became a trend huge enough to eclipse the main series' sales... and then the next instalment of said main series broke preorder records, in large part because of Go players being brought into the series, either for the first time or after lapsing out after the original games' craze in The '90s.
  • Owing to their minimalist gameplay and lack of challenge, Environmental Narrative Games like Gone Home or The Stanley Parable often serve as a gateway for new players to Adventure Games and indeed video games in general.
  • Dissidia: Final Fantasy got a lot of players into Final Fantasy as a franchise-fandom, rather than cherrypicking favourite individual titles. A lot of people bought it so they could play as Cloud (who was even designed with being an easy character for fighting game newbies to use, on the grounds that he'd be such an attractant), and then realised they liked Bartz, Cecil and Firion's personalities just as much, and had to check out their source material. The fact that the old games were in the process of being rereleased at the time suggests this was partly intentional. Theatrythm Final Fantasy, and the mobile Final Fantasy games such as Final Fantasy Brave Exvius and Final Fantasy Record Keeper, are also Massively Multiplayer Crossover games; World of Final Fantasy was designed to be an intro to the series and characters for new players.

    Visual Novels 


    Western Animation 
  • Disney Animation, and perhaps Looney Tunes serve as a gateway into the widely varied world of animation.
  • The DC Animated Universe is the first faithful and high production versions of many parts of the DC Universe that had been little known or unrepresented at that point:
    • Batman: The Animated Series serves as an introduction into the overall Batman mythos and provided many people's first glimpse of the less well-known parts of his Rogues Gallery, namely Ra's Al Ghul and Scarecrow (neither of whom had appeared in movies at the time or in the Adam West shownote ), as well as Killer Croc, Scarface and Ventriloquist, and redefined and updated the likes of Mr. Freeze to the point that it quickly became his origin in the comics and wider media.
    • Likewise, Superman, whose movies tended to not accept the existence of bad guys not named Luthor and Zod. Superman: The Animated Series introduced many to Brainiac, Mr. Mxyzsptlk, Toyman, and the Jack Kirby Fourth World and his extended cast: Dan Turpin, Intergang, Darkseid, Apokolips, New Genesis, the Mother Box, Boom Tubes and other amazing concepts. Likewise, the DCAU version of Luthor was the first one to emphasize his scientific acumen (which the movies never tackled) and his Corrupt Corporate Executive revision of The '80s (or as Neil Gaiman called him "skinny Kingpin").
    • Justice League (Unlimited) served as many people's exposure to the wider parts of the DC Universe, proving their first introductions to The Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl among many others. Likewise it introduced them to Amanda Waller, Suicide Squad, Vandal Savage, Despero, Amazo and others.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has undoubtedly opened the minds of many to the My Little Pony franchise, and it seems to have opened the door for young adults, both male and female, and even little boys, to watch shows for little girls.
    • It has also opened the door for other shows with similar subject matter. Colorful Equine Characters, once seen as a "girl-only" thing, is no longer seen as such. Filly Funtasia seems specifically designed to go the extra mile to capitalize on this. Instead of a majority female cast like MLP, male pony characters are significant too.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series introduced a lot of people to the Spider-Man mythos in the nineties.
  • Metalocalypse introduced many to the metal genre, similar to the Brütal Legend example above (which may have been why Eddie Riggs met Dethklok in a crossover commercial).
  • The Simpsons has made many people across the world familiar with politics, counterculture, alternative music, literature, music, animated cartoons, comic strips,... they probably didn't know much about before the show referenced it. A prime example: Tito Puente's cameo in the "Who Shot Mr. Burns" episodes has introduced many viewers who didn't know much about salsa or mambo to the singer.
  • It's very possible many cartoon watchers in the early to mid 2000's got their first taste of a lot of Classical Mythology from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Eris (Greek Goddess of Discord) and Nergal (Mesopatanian deity) are both recurring characters. Even more modern mythology shows up now and again- how many other shows of the time featured freaking Cthulhu as a one-off antagonist?
  • The 90s X-Men cartoon was many kids' first experience with the X-Men characters and franchise (and to a lesser extent, Marvel Comics in general), and the early live action films even took a bit of inspiration from it.