"Super Mario Bros. is equivalent to the Big Bang of our gaming universe. If it were not for this blindingly spectacular creation, digital entertainment as we know it today would not exist."Basically, before these works came along, a genre either didn't exist, or was niche. After these works hit the scene, either the genre became popular, or we got loads of ripoffs which may or may not have gone From Clones to Genre later on. Heck, these works might instead create a Genre Relaunch of a once popular genre (whether or not the popularity lasts). Being a Genre Popularizer is not proof that a work is awesome. Some might think these works are overrated, and if Nostalgia Goggles or Quality by Popular Vote are in play, they may even be right. Being an example of this only speaks to the response it gets in Follow the Leader works, not to its quality. See also It's Popular, Now It Sucks, Hype Backlash and Seinfeld Is Unfunny for cases where imitation leads to increased criticism of the popularizer, deserved or undeserved. Compare Trope Makers, Trope Codifier, Genre Turning Point. Contrast Genre-Killer. Please Note: while some Genre Popularizers are also Trope Makers or Codifiers, not all Trope Makers and Codifiers are Genre Popularizers. Keep this in mind when adding examples—just because it was the first to use a trope doesn't mean it made the trope popular.
open/close all folders
- Astro Boy (a.k.a. Tetsuwan Atomu) launched anime itself. Tezuka is an interesting case, in that his works encompass so many genres, that imitators had to figure out which Tezuka to imitate, which resulted in the rather large amount of diversity in anime and manga (also helping stave off the Animation Age Ghetto in Japan). In short, Tezuka is the reigning king of this trope.
- Sailor Moon made the Magical Girl Warrior type of Magical Girl into a genre (even though Cutey Honey came first). It's gotten to the point that it's almost the only type of magical girl show you see licensed for release in America nowadays.
- Azumanga Daioh, though far from the first of its kind, popularized the Yonkoma Slice of high school girls life series, especially outside of Japan.
- Once upon a time, every Mons show was ripping off either Pokémon or Digimon (which shows how diverse the genre was from the get-go). Now it's par for the course. The games also sparked off the collection RPG trend, which can extend beyond Mons and into almost any game where there are tons of party members to collect. However, Dragon Quest V (which predated both by several years) had almost no human party members for a good chunk of the game. To round out the player's party, the player would tame monsters it fought in the wild, convert them to his party, and subsequently use them to fight other monsters. While not officially released outside of Japan until well after the mon trend was established, this was the third RPG-style video game to feature such a gameplay mechanic, and likely paved the way.
- Once upon a time, we called them Gundam ripoffs. Now we call them Real Robot shows.
- Tenchi Muyo! popularized the Harem Genre. Before that, there was Ranma ˝.
- Dragon Ball popularized the Fighting Series and the Shōnen genre as we recognize it, focused on developing as a fighter and the triumph of Japanese Spirit. Both One Piece and Naruto pay homage to Dragon Ball with their main characters.
- Dominion and the "deckbuilding game". Thunderstone, Puzzle Strike, Race for the Galaxy... The list is large. There are also even upcoming licensed deckbuilding games based on Blood Bowl, Resident Evil, and Gundam (since Japan seems to love the genre). While Dominion is still regarded as the best and most balanced of them, the others do all feel different and have many new mechanics, keeping the Follow the Leader to a minimum.
- Magic: The Gathering in 1993 resulted in an explosion of Collectible Card Games.
- Settlers of Catan introduced Euro-board games to the United States.
- The series, Albedo: Erma Felna EDF and its idea of primarily serious Funny Animal stories for adults was so distinctive that it had its own newsgroup, "alt.fan.albedo". Now it's recognized as the first of the Furry Fandom genre.
- Superman launched the super-powered hero genre into the mainstream.
- Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns were this for the "Grim'n'Gritty" works of the late 80's and early 90's.
- Despite Marvel's Secret Wars debuting earlier, DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths proved to have a much greater impact on the creation and evolution of the Crisis Crossover.
- Though not the first lurking-killer film, the success of John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) kicked off the Slasher Movie of the 80s and 90s. Many tropes of the subgenre can be traced to Michael Myers' first rampage.
- Mad Max 2 / The Road Warrior sparked the whole Scavenger World genre.
- Star Wars, alongside Jaws, is credited for starting the Summer Blockbuster.
- Superman: The Movie was the first proof that a comic book-based film could be serious, popular, and good.
- Although it wasn't the first movie about a giant rampaging animal, the 1954 film Gojira was successful enough to launch the Kaiju film genre.
- Night of the Living Dead (1968) invented the idea of zombies as cannibalistic, undead monsters that recruit their victims into their ranks. In doing so, it also popularized the concept of the Zombie Apocalypse, even if it wasn't the first work to use it (that would be Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, which used vampires, and indeed served as inspiration for George A. Romero).
- Although Expressionism had been a popular art style in Germany for years prior, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, with its wild sets, Unreliable Narrator, and focus on cinematically recreating a character's unstable state of mind, sparked many of the ideas associated with German Expressionism as a film genre.
- Two of the very first films to tell a complete story unwittingly created new genres. A Trip to the Moon (1902) was the first science fiction movie ever made and brought the idea of space exploration to the big screen. The Great Train Robbery (1903) introduced us to The Western.
- Sergio Leone's "Dollars Trilogy," most famously The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, popularized the Spaghetti Western genre.
- The Little Mermaid prompted a new wave of Disney musicals, desperately needed by the company after being stomped during most of the 80s by the work of Don Bluth.
- Toy Story was the first All CGI Film, and was far more popular than Disney's film released that year, the stunningly mediocre Pocahontas.
- William Gibson launched the Cyberpunk genre with the novel Neuromancer. It is now a staple of film, games, and odd urban fashions.
- William Gibson and Bruce Sterling co-authored The Difference Engine, which launched the Steam Punk genre.
- The Riddle of the Sands is this for Spy Fiction.
- Amazing Stories, the first English-language Science Fiction Pulp Magazine, created and popularized the genre. (The slightly earlier American pulp Weird Tales published general fantastic fiction: Science Fiction, ghost stories, horror fiction, et cetera.)
- Edgar Allan Poe wrote the first English-language detective stories. Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes) once said "Each [of Poe's detective stories] is a root from which a whole literature has developed.... Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?" Although Poe's detective uses several early forensic techniques, this aspect of the genre didn't fully kick off until...
- The Sherlock Holmes series popularised the idea of the cerebral, aloof detective examining clues and forensic evidence in order to solve the mystery. The stories helped introduce the public to this new idea of studying clues and information to solve crimes rather than just asking people what they saw and shaking up suspects until a confession fell out. This was true not just in mystery stories, but in real life: the Metropolitan Police, frequently dismissed up until that point as an inept and corrupt force, began to improve in success rates and public reputation upon taking some cues from these stories.
- Dashiell Hammett created and popularized the subgenre of "hard-boiled" detective fiction. While he didn't create the genre on his own, Hammett's works were among the first to be picked up by the public at large. Many of that genre's tropes originated or were made popular in his works, and later authors of hard-boiled fiction (notably Raymond Chandler, author of the Philip Marlowe novels) cite Hammett as the forefather of the genre.
- The True Crime genre was created and popularized by Truman Capote in his harrowing magnum opus, In Cold Blood. The true story of a vicious and senseless series of murders kicked off an interest in "real murder mysteries," and the genre remains startlingly popular today.
- J. R. R. Tolkien is responsible for popularizing the High Fantasy genre. Despite James Branch Cabell, E. R. Eddison, and Poul Anderson coming first, Tolkien was the gold that got cloned, and even he borrowed heavily from mythology.
- Like Tolkien, Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian stories effectively created many of the now-popular Heroic Fantasy tropes. Interestingly, it did this in large part by subverting many pulp fantasy tropes popular at the time.
- The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells took an existing genre speculating about foreign armies invading the United Kingdom and gave it a twist by casting as the invaders a race of highly intelligent alien beings invading Earth from another planet. This idea of an Alien Invasion proved somewhat influential.
- Similarly, H. G. Wells' novel about a man who built a machine capable of travelling through time got people interested as well. The idea of Time Travel itself wasn't new; the idea of someone actually using technology to build a means of travelling forwards and backwards in time was, though.
- E. E. “Doc” Smith, and the Lensman series, created Space Opera as we understand it. It is scary how much modern sci-fi writers in some cases outright stole from him, or copied without even knowing they had. To put it into perspective, reading the Lensman novels seems horribly cliche now, because every Sci-Fi trope associated with space operas came out of it ranging from inertialess drives, to Dyson Sphere megastructures, to the very idea of the "Neglectful Ancient Master Race" seen in...well every sci-fi series made since. In fact it is generally accepted that the Green Lantern Corps is the Lensman Corps, top to bottom. They even have a member named Arisia, after the planet where the Lensmen went (their Oa) to undergo training to use their Cosmic Lenses (GL rings).
- H.P. Lovecraft popularized the Cosmic Horror Story, although The Call of Cthulhu, At the Mountains of Madness and The Whisperer in Darkness stand out.
- Tom Clancy effectively popularized the "military technothriller" genre, which is generally considered to have started with the Craig Thomas novel Firefox, written seven years before The Hunt for Red October.
- H. Rider Haggard effectively created the "Lost World" genre of adventure fiction with his 1885 novel King Solomon's Mines. Since then, the genre has proven enormously popular.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek and Lost in Space were Dueling Shows for a while, and BOTH helped shape the Wagon Train to the Stars genre as they became massive hits.
- Bewitched's popularity in Japan was enough to spawn the Magical Girl genre.
- Although The Real World and Cops came first, they did not define the Reality Show genre. These two ran for years prior to the introduction of Survivor, but were not in a format that could easily be adapted to other subjects. Survivor's format was easily adaptable, and it went on to define the most common form for Reality Shows.
- The X-Files started a new trend of conspiracy and paranoia shows.
- Hill Street Blues introduced the idea of multiple, intertwining Story Arcs to prime time television series.
- Babylon 5, along with The X-Files, popularized the Myth Arc in live-action television series: Babylon 5 did it better, but it was The X-Files that took it mainstream.
- Big Brother, while not the first Reality Show of its type, popularized it. It was itself based off The Truman Show', which was, itself based on a Twilight Zone'' episode from 1985.
- Seinfeld, aside from being unfunny, isn't all that far removed from the other Slice of Life TV shows and webcomics that followed.
- CSI popularized the Forensic Drama genre.
- If Lost didn't popularize modern-day speculative fiction, then it certainly started "weird shit with much emphasis on characters."
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a show about three guys at the bottom of the screen making comments about a movie they're watching. It came out before the Internet. No wonder practically all of the episodes are on YouTube.
- For one of the sub genres of the Variety Show, the Korean variety show Muhan Dojeon (or Infinite Challenge), which started airing on MBC in 2005 and is still going strong, is one for the "Real Variety Show" subgenre, where in addition to the base tropes of a Variety Show, the show adds in unscripted stunts, organised challenges and an all star cast from all walks of celebrity life, from traditional comedians, to singers, to even well known actors. This show arguably popularised this type of Variety, and set the base work for the wildly successful Korean show Running Man.
- Chuck Berry and Rock & Roll music.
"If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'." ~John Lennon
- Elvis Presley smuggled Rock & Roll and other styles of African-American music over the race barrier and into the mainstream.
- Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys created a distinctive sound that was picked up by other groups and became a genre, bluegrass.
- The Beatles may not have been the first to do pop-rock and Folk Rock, but they certainly jump-started the genre. They could also arguably be considered this for Psychedelic Rock, album-based rock, and Punk with songs like "Helter Skelter." Plus, they created the trend for a self-contained band, with the artists playing their own instruments and writing all of their own music.
- Despite groups like Led Zeppelin and Iron Butterfly laying the groundwork for it a few years prior, Black Sabbath is usually credited as the band that established the genre of Heavy Metal as we know it.
- Nirvana was the band who made the Grunge movement move up to full speed.
- The Rolling Stones did it for Blues Rock.
- The Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa popularized Alternative Rock.
- Suede's self-titled debut album may or may not have been the first Britpop record, but it was the first popular Britpop record and thus codified and fostered the genre. Ironically, the band think little of Britpop and have since tried to distance themselves from it.
- While quite a few other bands and albums had come before it, King Crimson's debut In the Court of the Crimson King was arguably the first full Progressive Rock album (rather than the more psychedelic sound that had come with the earlier bands), and laid the foundations for the genre.
- Although the Post-Rock genre was codified in Slint's Spiderland, the genre as we recognize it wouldn't become popular per se until Sigur Rós and Godspeed You! Black Emperor arrived on the scene.
- British grindcore band Napalm Death (whose drummer actually coined the term "grindcore", along with the term "blastbeat", a drumbeat regularly used in the genre and beyond) are often heavily credited for their importance in the development of grindcore.
- Norwegian band Mayhem, and specifically their original guitarist Euronymous, are usually said to have created Black Metal as we now know it.
- Rammstein are usually considered the codifiers and/or popularizers of Neue Deutsche Harte, either a a sub-genre of Industrial Metal or a fusion genre of Industrial Metal and Trance, depending on how one views it. (They originally called it dance metal.) The actual creator was Oomph!, who formed five years before Rammstein.
- Joseph Haydn almost singlehandedly developed and popularized the sonata form and was the first big composer of the First Viennese School.
- Similarly, Arnold Schoenberg was the godfather of the Second Viennese School.
- Claude Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" is said to be the work that truly began musical Impressionism.
- Ice-T did this for Gangsta Rap.
- Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five helped to properly launch Political Rap. Before them were 1970s political preachers such as The Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron.
- Jokingly, aha launched the new genre of 'Pof' during an interview in which the German interviewer badly flubbed the words 'synthetic pop of the eighties'. Moments later it became New Pof, much to Magne's surprise and delight.
- The Pogues blended Irish traditional music and punk as what became the first example of Celtic punk, a style taken up by Irish and Scottish inspired bands in both Britain and North America.
- British band Skyclad began adding folk elements to their otherwise rather ordinary Thrash Metal, creating Folk Metal in the process.
- Norwegian black metallers Bathory switched out the over-used Satanic lyrical content of their compatriots for Norse Mythology and history, creating and popularizing the thematic genre viking metal.
- British rockers Motörhead are widely recognised as one of the first bands to blend punk and heavy metal, creating what later became known as "Speed Metal", the forerunner of Thrash Metal. Frontman Lemmy Kilmister characteristically dismisses such labels, declaring that "it's all just rock and roll".
- The Ramones unintentionally created and popularized the Pop Punk genre.
- Burzum pioneered atmospheric/ambient Black Metal, although some have pointed out that a few scattered ambient black metal projects existed before Burzum, thus making him a codifier/popularizer rather than a creator.
- All Music Guide has described Job for a Cowboy as both the Genre Popularizer and Genre-Killer for Deathcore.
- Ray Charles is generally considered to have launched Soul; the question is whether he did it with "I Got a Woman" or "What'd I Say."
- Christian Rock is arguably more of a scene than a genre, but in either case, Larry Norman's 1969 album Upon This Rock was the launching point.
- Country Pop, although existing from the late 1950s, really took off in the late 1970s with Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton topping both country and pop charts at the same time.
- There had been a smattering of Reggae songs that became hits in the UK and US in the late 60s and early 70s, but Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley were the ones who really brought it out of Jamaica to a worldwide audience.
- Limp Bizkit both made Nu Metal mainstream and then killed it years later.
- Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Atreyu, and As I Lay Dying popularized Metalcore (specifically the melodic kind) after Nu Metal died out. Years later, Issues popularized fusing metalcore with nu metal together with their debut EP to create what is referred to by fans as "nu-metalcore".
- Dream Theater is generally considered to have helped define the Progressive Metal genre, combining the speed and heaviness of Thrash Metal with the variety and musical complexity of Progressive Rock.
- Klaus Schulze is often regarded as the godfather of Trance among electronic music fans.
- While "pin games" existed before Baffle Ball, it was David Gottlieb's game that propelled the genre from a minor amusement novelty into a fundamental aspect of Americana. Baffle Ball's success came from a combination of challenge and affordability during The Great Depression; a Baffle Ball machine cost $17.50 to buy and cost only a penny to play, while competitors' machines cost over $100 and required a nickel to play. To put its popularity into perspective, Gottlieb's factory could produce 400 Baffle Ball machines a day - but he had 75,000 orders to fill. The game's influence is so deep that many people misidentify Baffle Ball as the first Pinball ever made.
- Before Humpty Dumpty came along, the only action a player could perform in a pinball game was to launch the ball and (gently) nudge the machine. Humpty Dumpty's novelty came from its six red "flipper bumpers," which allowed the player to kick the ball back up the field. This innovation instantly made flipperless games obsolete — competitors rushed flipper add-on kits for existing machines, and flippers became an industry standard just six months later.
- Spitting Image launched political puppet shows in numerous different countries, many of which are well-received amongst the audience.
- Dungeons & Dragons began as an offshoot of the miniature wargame Chainmail and became the first Tabletop RPG, launching the genre. Unlike many other popularizers, it's still the alpha dog. Ditto for Magic: The Gathering and collectible card games.
- Champions is responsible for creating the point buy system.
- Tabletop wargames using miniature figures have existed for centuries, especially in the Prussian Army where they were used to train officers in tactics. It wasn't until H. G. Wells published a book of rules called "Little Wars" (subtitled "A Game for Boys From Twelve Years Of Age to One Hundred and Fifty, and for That More Intelligent Sort of Girl Who Likes Boys' Games and Books") in 1913, that the general populace got to play one. Even then, they weren't tremendously popular until Jack Scruby created his line of miniatures, which made the genre burgeon.
- King's Quest popularized the graphic Adventure Game genre.
- Doom launched the First-Person Shooter genre, to the point that other games in the genre were simply called "Doom-clones" or "Doom-likes" until more innovative games needed a more neutral name to be coined. However, its predecessor Wolfenstein 3D was the first really successful example of the genre.
- Nintendo has stated they wanted this to happen with the Wii controller, as it happened with their d-pad and Atari's analog control. This is likely why they didn't raise a fuss when Sony introduced their similar motion controllers.
- Donkey Kong defined the platformer as we know it. Then...
- Super Mario Bros defined the side-scrolling action platformer genre as we know it. Super Mario 64 is the predecessor to almost every 3D platformer in existence.
- Fighting games have existed since before the Atari, dating as far back as Sega's Heavyweight Champ in 1976, but it was Street Fighter II that finally got it right in 1991 and launched them as a genre.
- Worms was certainly not the first artillery oriented game, but it is both the most well known and generally best designed of the bunch.
- Any game that has Mons and a collecting mechanic will be considered a Pokémon ripoff, even if Pokémon wasn't the first game to do so.
- The smash-hit ASCII game Rogue from 1980 popularized the concept of randomly generated dungeons, and spawned enough spinoffs and ripoffs to boggle the mind. Even today, games of this genre are referred to as "Roguelikes".
- The Elder Scrolls for sandbox first-person RPGs.
- beatmania may not be the first Rhythm Game, but it set the standard that many rhythm games would soon follow—games such as Dance Dance Revolution, DJ MAX, Guitar Hero, among others. Guitar Hero in turn brought instrument-based rhythm games to the western market.
- Back in 1992, Strategy Games were nearly all turn-based. Then Dune II came along, though admittedly there were a few earlier Real-Time Strategy games, most importantly Herzog Zwei. Nevertheless, it was Dune II that spawned imitators and launched the RTS genre. Which is debatable, as one could see Dune II being to the first Command & Conquer what Wolfenstein 3D was to Doom.
- Tomb Raider was the game that kicked off the 3D Action-Adventure genre.
- Tetris pioneered Falling Blocks puzzle games. And, as mentioned above, the "simple puzzle" genre.
- Dragon Quest took cues from Wizardry and Ultima but specifically simplified those games for a wider audience. The result defined the JRPG genre, and created most of the major tropes used therein.
- Ultima Online was thought of as a graphical Multi-User Dungeon. Now we refer to it as a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG. Of course, the genre reached new heights of popularity (and another, even larger wave of imitators) after being popularized by Everquest and World of Warcraft.
- What started as a popular Custom Map genre for StarCraft and Warcraft has become the Tower Defense genre.
- Similarly, Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars paved the way for the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (or MOBA) genre.
- Double Dragon set the basics for the Beat 'em Up genre, but it's Final Fight that caused games of this type to flood the market. And Double Dragon was the technical and spiritual successor to Renegade, made by the same company, and whaddaya know, it's the predecessor to River City Ransom. Granted, Renegade wasn't actually good, but it still counts.
- Devil May Cry began the "spectacle fighter" genre, with such other entries as God of War, Viewtiful Joe, God Hand, MadWorld, and Bayonetta. Some reviewers have even questioned the labelling of God of War as a spectacle fighter (due to its focus on story and atmosphere, the adventure gameplay and the noted lack of any "score" beyond the amount of orbs), and started calling it part of its own genre, joined by Dante's Inferno, Heavenly Sword, Darksiders, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Conan. Current name for said genre? "Being God of War". Currently, not many other series are good at it. This has led to a degree of hostility between fans of the two archetypal series
- Grand Theft Auto III for Wide Open Sandbox games. Often with Villain Protagonists or at least the option to play like one.
- While it was not the first computer role-playing game, Wizardry was one of the most influential titles of the golden age and the direct ancestor of the Eastern RPG.
- A year before Wizardry, Epyx released Temple of Apshai, a more direct attempt to digitize a tabletop RPG. Though it lacked Wizardry's immersive atmosphere, it was highly praised for translating the tabletop Dungeons & Dragons experience to a personal computer; the Apshai series was popular enough to outsell both Ultima and Wizardry.
- Rogue also came out a year earlier, but it spawned its own genre which had very little influence on mainstream RPGs until Diablo and Arena.
- Even though Sweet Home and, to a greater extent, Alone in the Dark, were the first to use the classic gameplay model, it was Resident Evil that launched the Survival Horror genre and gave it a name. Similarly System Shock for the... uh... "other Survival Horror genre".
- Flight Control for the iPhone could be said to have launched the "path tracing" genre of game, which is uniquely suited to the device's touchscreen interface.
- Myst is often credited with starting the trend of adventure games set in a Beautiful Void. An earlier Cyan game, The Manhole, introduced us to Pop Up Video Games.
- The Metal Gear and Thief series defined the Stealth-Based Game genre for years to come.
- Those casual Time Management Games you see everywhere on the Internet nowadays? You have Diner Dash to thank or hate for that.
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time started the whole "parkour platformer" sub-genre that includes Assassin's Creed and Uncharted. And before that, the original started the Cinematic Platform Game sub-genre.
- Twenty years before EVE Online, Elite on the BBC Micro paved the way for all 3D space simulators, and particularly space trading and open sandbox games. And before Elite, Star Raiders on the Atari 800 took the basic Trek-style top-down gameplay from the mainframe era and created the 3D space sim.
- Spacewar is the Ur-Example of the shooter genre, but Space Invaders is the Trope Maker that launched the shmup genre, with its vertical view still used in modern shoot 'em ups.
- Fantasy Zone and Twinbee were the first Cute'em up.
- Although Bullet Hell shooters have been around since the early 90's—Batsugun (1993) is one of the first such games and Recca (1992) is responsible for the subgenre's origins as well—there are a few games that are commonly seen as making the genre big:
- DoDonPachi (1996) set the standard for not only CAVE's later titles, but also for the entire genre, and is credited with making bullet hell shooters more visible in arcades.
- The first three Touhou games on Windows (Touhou Koumakyou: Embodiment of Scarlet Devil (2002), Touhou Youyoumu: Perfect Cherry Blossom (2003), and Touhou Eiyashou: Imperishable Night (2004)) are known for having humanoid characters rather than military machines, bullet patterns that fit the themes of the boss characters, boss attacks that are named, and indirectly being the cause of a massive universe of fan works and memes, not only further widening the popularity of the genre (especially in the West where less people are less likely to have heard of CAVE, 8ing/Raizing, or the like) but also setting some standards of its own, with many modern Bullet Hell games employing some of these iconic elements.
- Going back to the earliest days of any video game, Colossal Cave (also known as Colossal Cave Adventure, Adventure, or simply ADVENT) was the first Adventure Game, leading into both Interactive Fiction and Point-and-Click adventure games, as well as sparking the whole Dungeon Crawling genre. One could even argue that ADVENT was the first computer game ever to be more than just a puzzle or sports game—while it's pretty light on story, the wide variety of environments, objects, and NPCs, even if they were just described in text, was far beyond anything else at the time.
- Minecraft is very much like Doom in that, while it was not the first sandbox cube building game, it was the first to make it big and inspire numerous clones and 'clones'.
- While the first person dungeon crawler was a rather popular genre at its peak, Etrian Odyssey has caused a new wave of such games to appear, making it a Genre Repopularizer.
- Kaizo Mario World and I Wanna Be the Guy did this for Platform Hell. Sure, it existed before in the form of a SMB 1 hack and a Japanese flash game, but once those two came around, the flood gates opened and clones were springing up all over the place. There's a reason I Wanna Be the Guy has a fan game section, or that Kaizo has become a generic term for any ultra difficult Super Mario World hack...
- The runaway success of the Super Smash Bros. series inspired a number of other developers to make Platform Fighter games, which distinguished themselves from other fighting games by allowing more than two players at a time, platformer-like stages and jump physics, a score- or lives-based goal, randomly-dropped items, and usually (but not always) a cast pulled from a number of different games or all over the timeline of one series.
- An interesting case with Metroidvanias. The Metroid games were always popular and successful, but it was Castlevania: Symphony of the Night that popularized the genre. Fans recognized that the elements came in Metroid first, and thus the term Metroidvania was born.
- First there was Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. Then there were imitators. Now The Abridged Series is a genre unto itself. Sturgeon's Law still applies, but since there are so many, there are now plenty of gems to find. So LittleKuriboh has now gotten into a (joke) war with the other creators.
- The Zero Punctuation review of Mercenaries 2 comments on this phenomenon; Yatzhee decides to not use the term "GTA clone" when the Wide Open Sandbox has become so common, and compares it to what happened with Doom, above. (But then goes on to say that many such games, including Mercenaries 2 itself, do still deserve to be branded as "Grand Theft Auto clones" because of how directly they copy the formula.)
- Toastyfrog's Evangelion Thumbnail Theater touches off a brief fad of anime series-based Thumbnail Theaters.
- AMV Hell started a style of Gag Dub. It even quotes the last line from the Cowboy Bebop text at the start of AMV Hell 4.
- Ruby Quest launched the co-operative image board genre. To the point that the games being called quests.
- Xiao Xiao spawned a lot of stick figure fight scenes (and perhaps fight scenes for Flash itself) as soon as the third installment got Weekly User's Choice at Newgrounds.
- When YouTube first came out, some amateur filmmaker decided to put two parody video game reviews for some old NES titles up on it. Now it seems like every third gamer or so insists on trying to become the next AVGN. Likewise, The Nostalgia Critic has gotten quite a few imitators - and quite a few so good, he's teamed up with them! Most of the genres on YouTube have been created this way, for example the Slice of Life vlog style made famous by Kevin Nalts, aka Nalty.
- Freeman's Mind launched the "X's Mind" genre, showing what Heroic Mimes are really thinking.
- "Hyakugojyuichi" by Neil Cicierega launched the Animutation genre.
- Horror web series and ARGs were seen sporadically during the Turn of the Millennium, but it wasn't until Marble Hornets and Just Another Fool that they really took off. Aside from more directly influencing the direction of The Slender Man Mythos, they also inspired the creation of other horror series such as The Fear Mythos.
- Slowbeef's let's play of Super Metroid made Let's Play a video and live-commentary based internet sensation, as opposed to what it used to be where you just took screenshots every few minutes of gameplay and had typed commentary on it.
- Mike Nelson's RiffTrax helped popularize the fan film commentary genre.
- Played with involving the destruction genre. While one of the founders of the genre, dOvetastic, was already popular in his own right, it was mostly just destruction via microwaves (and the few early Follow the Leader shows like microwavecam and a YouTube show called Microwave Monday are often forgotten) or smashing things. However, Will It Blend? brought the genre to the forefront of popular culture, and when Is It a Good Idea to Microwave This? debuted, the fact that it combined Will It Blend? with dOvetastic Microwave Theater (which is how the creator initially described it), let the microwave sub-genre itself become very popular with other shows debuting, some more successful than others, that used their formula to some extent.
- Neglected Mario Characters was the original Sprite Comic, and spawned a swarm of imitators. Bob and George, however, is usually thought of as the father of sprite comics, with thousands of imitation comics coming out (and often promptly dying) in its forums.
- Penny Arcade: started a thousand couches.
- Kevin & Kell was the first webcomic to manage a consistent, reliable daily schedule. The cartoonist, Bill Holbrook, had not one but two daily comics in newspaper syndication when he started K&K, and brought the same degree of professionalism and discipline to the new distribution medium.
- Homestuck and MS Paint Adventures have spawned hundreds of imitators not just of the Interactive Comic genre, but of the Text Parser presentation style of MSPA itself; some of these are followed by hundreds of people and come close to matching MSPA's legendary update rate.
- The Flintstones with prime time animated sitcoms. Then after it faded, brought back by The Simpsons (who lampshaded their debt to The Flintstones more than once).
- After The Dark Age of Animation, several television series stand-out as being the inspiration for the wave of high-budget high-quality work that would follow in the nineties: Ralph Bakshi's New Adventures Of Mighty Mouse (a low-rated and controversial show that none-the-less inspired a generation of animators) and the one-two punch of Adventures of the Gummi Bears and DuckTales (which proved that high-budget animation on television could be lucrative).
- Batman: The Animated Series inspired a new slew of more serious western animation, much of which being updates of superhero comics. Besides the future shows produced by the same team for the DCAU, among the more successful ones are X-Men, Spider-Man: The Animated Series and Gargoyles. BTAS also made cartoony stylization respectable for Western action-adventure animation, rather than the uneven attempts at realism that had dominated the genre since Jonny Quest.
- Jonny Quest started Hanna-Barbera's line of cartoons that feature realistic depictions of the human figure, including the original Space Ghost and Bird Man.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) was one of the first 80's cartoons made to sell toys after the FCC lifted the ban on such programs. However, one of the other cartoons in the genre, The Transformers, has had the biggest impact on pop culture thanks to many high-quality relaunches and an incredibly successful film series.
- As for All CGI Cartoons on TV, Mainframe's ReBoot was the first popular CGI tv series (but not the first). Beast Wars, also by Mainframe, would prove to be even more popular and revive the Transformers franchise.
- Shrek ended up popularizing an all-too-common trend of CGI movies that are full of snark with celebrity voice actors out the wazoo and modern pop cultural references everywhere. However, the genre developed a backlash and Disney decided to lead the charge in reviving 90's-style animated musicals with The Princess and the Frog and Tangled. That said, Tangled was advertised as a Shrek knock-off...
- Teen Titans jump-started a trend of Animesque action cartoons which were more comedic than the DCAU. After its cancellation, many of its cast and crew went on to do some of these cartoons, such as the Ben10 franchise and Transformers Animated. One of the best of these cartoons, however, was Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender, which was less cartoony in tone than Teen Titans and was successful enough to greenlight a sequel and followers like the relaunch of ThunderCats.