Genre Popularizer

"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. Then after these works, 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).

Now this is not proof that a work is therefore awesome by being one of these. Some might think these works are overrated (and not in the It's Popular, Now It Sucks manner). Being an example of this only speaks to the response it gets in Follow the Leader works, not to its quality.

Compare Trope Makers, Trope Codifier, Genre Turning Point.

Contrast Genre-Killer.


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    Board Games 

    Comic Books 


  • 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-authered 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" the genre. (The slightly earlier American pulp Weird Tales published general fantastic fiction: Science Fiction, ghost stories, Horror Fiction, et cetera.)
  • Mystery genre launches:
    • The obscure Norwegian writer Maurits Hansen is credited with writing the first detective story, Mordet paa Maskinbygger Roolfsen (the murder of machinebuilder Roolfsen), two years before Poe wrote his first detective story.
      • Some credit E. T. A. Hoffmann's Das Fräulein von Scuderi (which was published 20 years before Hansens' story) to be the first detective story.
    • 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 arguably 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 other people until a confession fell out. This was arguably 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.
    • E C Bentley's Trent's Last Case is widely credited with creating the Golden Age Fair Play Whodunnit detective novel. Something of an Unbuilt Trope case, as the title "great detective" character in it gets the mystery completely wrong.
    • Dashiell Hammett kicked off 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.
  • On the subject of detective stories, the "True Crime" genre was first created 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," one which continues even to this day.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien is responsible for creating the High Fantasy genre. Despite Cabell, 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.
    • Along with Jules Verne it's probably fair to say that H. G. Wells all but invented modern science fiction, or at least codified it into the form we now recognise.
    • 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).
  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein not only kick-started modern horror, but was a proto-science fiction story as well. Two for the price of one — not bad. She also kicked off the post-apocalyptic genre with "The Last Man".
  • H.P. Lovecraft popularized 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 

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Post-Rock genre was launched by Slint's Spiderland album and Talk Talk's Laughing Stock.
  • UK Speed Metal band Venom usually get a lot of credit for laying the roots for what is now known as extreme metal.
  • 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 is usually considered the creators 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, though they originally called it dance metal. However, they are merely the codifier. the actual creator was Oomph!, who formed five years before Rammstein.
  • Joseph Haydn almost singlehandedly developed 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 help launched Political Rap, and before them there 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 the thematic genre viking metal.
  • British rockers Motorhead 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 launched 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.
  • 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.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Spitting Image launched political puppet shows in numerous different countries, many of which are well-received amongst the audience.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • 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" before a more neutral name was coined. However, its predecessor Wolfenstein 3D was the first really successful example of the genre.
  • Nintendo has admitted they want 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 motion controller.
  • 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 you need them to form you party 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 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 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.
  • At the dawn of the 1980s, someone got the idea to move role-playing games onto a computer. Thus was born Wizardry, the first Western RPG and the direct ancestor of the Eastern RPG. Rogue 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.
  • 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.

    Web Original 

  • 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.

    Western Animation