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Gateway Series
"It starts with an innocent game of Cake Mania, and soon you've bought a 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, series that makes you start watching new genres you never used to watch, are definitely real.

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.

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.

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.

Examples:

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. Its not a value judgement, just an observation of how fans tend to start from common points.

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • For the oldest American fans, Astro Boy was their gateway series.
  • Speed Racer defined Anime for a couple generations.
  • Virtually anything aired on Toonami and/or [adult swim] has been a gateway anime for many viewers. Of course, Cartoon Network seems to have been pretty careful about selecting shows with mainstream appeal — and clearly they've been successful. This makes it even more alarming that both daytime CN and Adult Swim have drastically decreased their amount of anime programming up until recently. Many have pointed at Cartoon Network's... controversial changes as the reason why.
    • Dragon Ball Z is a big one, serving as a common gateway into anime, shonen, and Fighting Series, in order of specificity.
    • Neon Genesis Evangelion. A lot of otaku became interested in anime after they watched it, and also got quite a few into the mecha genre as well. (On the other hand, it had the opposite effect on a lot of people too...) A whole new generation of Eva fans has arisen ever since the series was broadcast on — you guessed it — [adult swim].
      • Actually Eva was first aired in the US by KTEH, a PBS affiliate in San Jose, uncensored in Japanese!
      • One would think that the ways in which the series extensively plays with — and subverts — anime tropes, the notoriously confusing plot, the highly divisive characters, and the all-around weirdness of the show would make it less than ideal viewing for someone unfamiliar with the medium. It's like some personal variant of Unbuilt Trope.
    • The pilot anime for [adult swim] was Cowboy Bebop, a series great for getting people interested in the medium.
    • Death Note was a gateway series for many into anime period, though for most it was a gateway series into a specific genre (not necessarily bound to anime either) containing darker themes, intense character interactions, strong dubbing, avoidance of the more obvious anime cliches and a decidedly Villain Protagonist, leading many people to search for more "gray-area" genre series like the aforementioned Code Geass.
    • Trigun is another common gateway series, based on the mix of action and humor, and the particularly memorable characters. This, along with the aforementioned Cowboy Bebop was one of the first anime to premier on Adult Swim and one of the first to get a strong fanbase.
    • Before Cowboy Bebop or Trigun, Toonami brought viewers Outlaw Star, the first of the Space Western Anime Trinity. It mixes a lot of the best elements from both east and west that would help new western viewers adjust to the anime style, has a very diverse cast of extremely entertaining and likeable characters, and could almost be considered a gateway to the other two space western anime, considering it's (relatively) lighter in tone.
    • Gundam Wing was one of the first anime to be shown on Cartoon Network that dealt with Real Life politics, in a stark contrast to the more fantastical and superpowered plots of Ronin Warriors and Dragon Ball Z. It was the success of the late night "uncut" showings that helped start [adult swim], and the combination of giant robot action and handsome male leads introduced many young boys and girls to anime in general and Humongous Mecha in particular. Unfortunately, Bandai ended up killing the momentum Wing started by following it up with the 20-year-old original Mobile Suit Gundam, which while an undisputed classic of anime, didn't appeal to young American viewers. For years, fans have debated that had they followed up with the more contemporary shows like G Gundam or Gundam X, the franchise might have held on longer.
      • Both Gundam Wing and Gundam SEED, aired a few years after Wing, are generally acknowledged to be the two most recent gateway series into the Gundam universe, at least in the west. In Japan, on the other hand, the original Mobile Suit Gundam was popular enough to be a gateway in and of itself to the Universal Century.
      • Gundam Seed itself was made to be this. Its primary purpose was to bring Gundam to a new audience.
      • Here is a quiz that can help you find your Gateway to the huge Gundam franchise.
    • Naruto could be considered the the third Big Boom of modern anime watchers (the first being Dragon Ball and Toonami and the second being [adult swim]).
      • Also, Naruto and Bleach have introduced many anime fans into the Fan Sub industry.
    • Know someone who likes shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Law & Order, and who thinks of anime as "kid's stuff"? Show them Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. It seems to work quite well.
    • The Big O is heavily influenced by American fiction, having been called Batman with robots, so it's easy for Americans to follow. For a time [adult swim] showed it on weeknights just after Family Guy and Futurama, and it got a large enough following in the U.S. that they were able to finance a second season, showing new episodes at the front of their Sunday night lineup.
    • Sailor Moon. Best said here:
    One also has to recognize Sailor Moon's massive impact on American anime fandom. Hers was the first show that managed to draw in a measurable audience of real, live girls, who became genuinely hardcore fans thanks to shows like Rurouni Kenshin and Revolutionary Girl Utena. Which led, by a long and twisted trail, to a number of fanboys unexpectedly finding a way to lose their virginities at conventions some years down the line. They may not quite know it, but they owe you one, Sailor Moon.
  • Anime reached France en masse at the end of the 70s, and for a good part of the '80s, almost the most programs on children's television were anime. Also, due to Animation Age Ghetto syndrome, some totally non-suitable for kids series were broadcasted. It backfired spectacularly in the late '90s (until Cardcaptor Sakura then Pokémon made their way). Let's just list the biggest ones: Goldorak, Gigi, Albator (this one being extremely well-beloved. Did you wonder how Daft Punk knew Leiji Matsumoto?), Space Adventure Cobra (which main character was explicitly modeled after a French actor), Candy, Lady Oscar (there even was a movie by a famous French director), the furry version of Sherlock Holmes, Cats Eye, Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z of course, Les Chevaliers du Zodiaque, Magical Angel Creamy Mami, Ken le Survivant (Sadly, not kidding. The dub deliberately Macekre-d and Gag Dubbed it to tone down the violence.), Juliette je t'aime, City Hunter, Max et Cie. And so on.
  • In Spain, the love for anime and manga followed up its boom in France quite quickly (as a matter of fact, at first many series were translated from the French version, instead of the English or Japanese). Although shows like Mazinger Z and some Studio Ghibli productions prepared the terrain during the late 70s and early 80s, the whole thing exploded in the late 80s and early 90s with two shows: Dragon Ball and Captain Tsubasa. A whole generation of Spaniard kids became obsessed with anime and manga, and nowadays it's impossible to understand Spanish pop culture without taking this medium into account. Other shows that became big getaways in the following decades were Saint Seiya (Known as "Los caballeros del Zodiaco" or "The Zodiac Knights"), Sailor Moon, Ranma ˝, Doraemon, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Rurouni Kenshin, Pokémon, Love Hina (more the manga than the anime, though), Fullmetal Alchemist, One Piece, Naruto, Bleach and Inazuma Eleven.
  • Latin America had gateway anime quite sooner than the US, with series such as Mazinger Z, Saint Seiya, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Space Adventure Cobra (!!!), Kotetsu Jeeg, Space Dragon Gaiking, Magnet Robot Gakeen, Candy Candy, Gatchaman, Astro Boy and many more being shown regularly after school and on the weekends.
    • Not to mention Rurouni Kenshin, Dragon Ball (and Dragonball Z), and Cyborg 009 among others like Pokémon / Digimon.
      • Those are quite new compared to the other mentioned. Dragonball and Pokemon were first shown around 1997-98, while Candy for example appeared around 1980.
  • To a lesser extent, Hamtaro for the little kids.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist, which boasts good animation, fabulous story-telling, great characters and a pinch of dark themes. Even those who don't even like anime love it.
    • Though somewhat more divisive now for its being a loose (and generally darker) adaptation of the manga, the first anime of Fullmetal Alchemist served as one of the gateways during the early 2000's anime and manga boom, and even led fans who watched it to discover the manga it was based off of, and begin to follow it subsequently. The equally impressive animation effort by BONES, who would later work on the straighter Brotherhood adaptation, most certainly helped.
  • You wouldn't think it, but stories abound of guys and gals who got into anime thanks to watching Rurouni Kenshin on Toonami.
  • One of the first well-dubbed series imported into the United States was Ranma 1/2.
    • Having a good dub helped, but the manga was a breakout hit too. Pretty much any Rumiko Takahashi series functions as a gateway series, thanks to her impeccable skills of characterization that transcend cultural boundaries. Just look at how many people in more recent years got hooked on anime after watching InuYasha on [adult swim].
  • The films of Studio Ghibli, especially those helmed by Hayao Miyazaki, and especially those that were given wide theatrical release and a celebrity-filled dub by Disney. Major films include My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and especially Spirited Away, which gained exposure and a lot of new converts when it won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
  • Genres inside a medium do it too. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Kanon, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, CLANNAD, and AIR have converted many a shoujo fan to the seinen series they once dismissed as fanservicey junk.
  • AKIRA is widely credited with introducing the anime feature film to the West in the late 1980s. Alas, Manga Entertainment capitalised on this by releasing a tide of unmitigated pap straight to video which left the general impression that all anime was Legend of the Overfiend and Violence Jack.
  • An early "gateway movie" for many early otaku was the Dirty Pair movie Project Eden. Many came to it through Adam Warren's Amerimanga adaption of the characters, and it was frequently fansubbed.
  • Another early "wave" of anime fans came from Robotech, Star Blazers, or Voltron.
  • Battle of the Planets caused many fans to look into anime when they discovered, to their surprise, that the show they had enjoyed as a child was actually Japanese (and heavily edited).
  • Initial D is something of a Gateway Series for car guys to get into manga and anime.
    • The games too are like this. If you've never played arcade racers competitively before, Initial D Arcade Stage will help you break yourself in.
  • Kannazuki no Miko could be considered a Gateway Series for Yuri, or an attempted one, for mixing robots and the standard young male robot pilot that could get the girl...but really leading into Seinen about Schoolgirl Lesbians.
  • For several people, ARIA is gateway series to Slice of Life anime.
  • GaoGaiGar (or Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann for a more recent example) is an excellent way to introduce someone to the Super Robot / Humongous Mecha genre.
  • Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water managed to convert many Japanese proto-fans when it aired in 1990.
  • Sci-fi Channel's initial "Japanimation Week", back in the early 1990's, consisting of Robot Hunter Casshan, 8-Man After, Project A-ko: The Vs. Battles, Demon City Shinjuku, Lily C.A.T., Galaxy Express 999, and Robot Carnival stretched across the whole week. These and a few other movies subsequently went into the channel's "Saturday Anime" rotation. And let's not forget TBS' late-night showings of heavily edited anime such as Vampire Hunter D.
  • Tenchi Muyo! or Love Hina as gateways to the Harem Genre.
  • Inverted with Eyeshield 21, where the series instead is a gateway to get anime nerds into football.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura is considered by many to be one of the best magical girl series of all time, not only because of its own merits, but because it was a gateway series into the Magical Girl genre or anime itself.
  • The first Yu-Gi-Oh series. A lot of younger tropers probably grew up with it before even knowing what anime was.
    • Heck, this is perhaps 4Kids' sole redeeming grace, via their dubs of the Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh anime. It helps that both franchises were wildly successful as well.
  • Vision of Escaflowne aired on Fox for a while, then got cancelled. Whether it was this or Bandai releasing the VHS tapes two years before its broadcast, no one knows how exactly, but this anime introduced a lot of fans to anime in general, and many cite it as their personal favorite because they were surprised at how different it looked from other shows. It took risks, it looked great, it had compelling characters, and it was basically unlike anything they've ever seen.
  • Over the years, The Castle of Cagliostro has been used by anime fans as a jumping-on point for the Lupin III franchise, as well as anime in general. This can get very ironic considering the titular character's actions and personality in the movie don't quite match up with any of his other incarnations. [adult swim] chose to air Lupin III (Red Jacket) episodes, which provided another surge of popularity for the franchise. Experienced fans have been able to note differences on Lupin opinions based on what another fan's gateway to the franchise was.
  • At the start of The New Tens, two shows, thanks to immense critical acclaim, became arguably the biggest catalysts for a revived interest in anime.
  • Fruits Basket introduced many people to shojo.
  • Anime is notorious for getting a lot of Western fans really interested in Japanese culture in general, up to and including learning the Japanese language.
  • As with the Western comics and superhero movies example below, a lot of anime fans get into the manga series their favorite shows are based on. It doesn't hurt that there's already a lot of overlap between manga and anime fandom as it is.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 

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

    Film 
  • Star Wars was a gateway to science fiction for many people when it first came out.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was many people's gateway to Wuxia, or Asian cinema in general.
    • Rashomon was among of the first Asian films to gain critical acclaim or widespread release in the United States, and was many people's (including many future filmmakers) first introduction to Japanese (and indeed, Asian) filming and story techniques and the works of Akira Kurosawa.
  • Batman Begins set a standard of believability in Comic Book movies that eclipsed all previous attempts. This was successfully recreated in the Iron Man film and the standard was set once again with The Dark Knight.
  • Casablanca or Citizen Kane for classic films
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 has gotten plenty of people into B movies and the So Bad, It's Good aesthetic in general.
  • The 2007 Transformers movie got a lot of people into the franchise. It is currently enjoying success it hasn't had in nearly 25 years. The toys had original shipping numbers based on the previous line (Transformers Cybertron), only to find empty shelves for weeks while they scrambled to meet demands.
  • The myriad of Philip K. Dick adaptations (Scanner Darkly,Total Recall,Paycheck, Blade Runner, Minority Report) and also the William Gibson adaptation/basis of movies like Johnny Mnemonic or Strange Days as an introduction into sci-fi beyond laser beams and space ships.
  • While it was much less popular than Star Wars, and had much less of an effect overall, Children of Men apparently served as a gateway to science fiction. For some reason, it wasn't subjected to the Sci-Fi Ghetto itself, and its lack of self-conscious "coolness" allowed it to stand as an example of science fiction in general rather than an example of cool action-style sci-fi like The Matrix or The Terminator.
  • The Scream series did a lot to introduce young people in The Nineties to all the older horror movies that it referenced/parodied, to the point where it's credited with singlehandedly reviving the genre after having been Deader Than Disco for the better part of the decade.
    • And decades before that, late night showings of old Universal Horror movies by TV stations did the same for the baby boomers. To an extent, they still serve as great gateways for younger or more squeamish viewers, since The Hays Code meant that the violence and sex was often minimal.
  • The Criterion Collection for art house and foreign films.

     Food and Drink 
  • Starbucks has gotten a lot of Americans into gourmet coffee, even if hipsters still scoff at them.
  • Sushi is a gateway into Japanese cuisine for most Westerners.

     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. Some of the main gateways are animated television series such as:

Then there are feature films that act as gateways.

And literature:

And a few video games:

    Literature 

    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.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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 Nineties 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 Cant 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.

    Music 
  • 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 60's and early 70's it was The Swingle Singers.
  • The music composed for shows such as Doctor Who or Battlestar Galactica can be a gateway for more classical music and famous composers.
  • For many, Daft Punk have been a gateway into the world of House Electronic music.
    • Similarly, Aphex Twin is one of the most well-known electronica artists in the world, and is often the first one people listen to before exploring others.
    • Skrillex has become arguably the biggest electronic music gateway artist ever.
    • deadmau5 and other more experimental EDM artists can sometimes attract more rock-oriented fans not only because of their elclectic sound, but also just because of how damn nice they are.
  • Green Day, Nirvana, AgainstMe! and NOFX are all punk bands who, though derided for going "mainstream" often act as Gateways to real underground and DIY punk rock.
  • Some of the more mainstream nu-metal bands like Linkin Park, Slipknot, and Music/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 Nineties 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.
  • 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.
  • Bob Marley&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-2000's, Modest Mouse were a gateway band into the world of indie rock for many future fans of the genre.
  • For listeners who don't remember the 1960s (for reasons other than drugs), The Beatles can function as a gateway band for music of that decade and "oldies" in general.
  • 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 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, and Kind of Blue in particular, but also, due to his many Genre Shifts and his 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 and The Beach Boys for '60s pop.
  • The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album for Baroque Pop.
  • 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.
  • BB King, as the still-reigning King of the 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.
  • Nine Inch Nails for Industrial Metal.

    New Media 

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

    Radio 

    Software 
  • 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.

    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.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade of the Old World of Darkness has been a more recent gateway game.
    • Particularly its simplicity compared to D&D and its modern horror setting has meant that its 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-heros (or outright bad guys) which is definitely more attractive to the angsty teens.
  • Warhammer40000 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 spin-off game or even Warhammer Fantasy. 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, or the Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf books often serve as a gateway to Tabletop RPG gaming.
  • Tunnels And 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 Star Wars 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 and Fighting Fantasy 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 CC Gs 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.

    Theater 
  • 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.

    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 Computer RPG genre.
  • 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, 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.
    • 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 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 even has 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 instalments 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.
  • Halo for Multi-player FPS. (Arguably before then, it was Doom) Being a launch title for the Xbox, many gamers who did not play FPSs before played it. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Tekken3 was extremely influential on the popularity of 3D fighting games, and Soul Calibur 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.
  • Nintendo games almost always serve this trope, but this console generation aiming for this has basically become their entire marketing strategy. The self-proclaimed "hardcore" gamers may lament that women and old people are getting in on their hobby, but 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 and Persona 4 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 and Penny Arcade.
  • 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 Evo 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.
  • Brutal 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 has gotten a lot of people into indie games.

    Visual Novels 

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • Disney Animation, and perhaps Looney Tunes serve as a gateway into the widely varied world of animation.
  • Batman: The Animated Series serves as an introduction into the DCAU, and to the overall Batman mythos.
    • As with the film adaptations, animated TV adaptations of comic books in general often introduce many people to the characters and the setting.
  • 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, to watch shows for little girls.
  • 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 Brutal Legend example above (which may have been why Eddie Riggs met Dethklok in a crossover commercial).

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