Genre Turning Point

"I thought that the business, the industry, the presentation needed to change in the same way that music had changed, because music was all about Poison and Mötley Crüe and Winger and all these hair bands, and then along came Nirvana, and BAM! The whole industry changed. So in the same way, I thought wrestling needed to change, in that wrestling had become the equivalent of hair bands, and we needed wrestling's version of Nirvana to come along and just shake everything up."
Paul Heyman, The Rise and Fall of ECW

While a Wham Episode can change a single series forever... sometimes, something comes out that permanently alters an entire genre. It wasn't the first entry into the genre, nor was it the last, but things were never the same after it came out. This often — but far from exclusively — happens with particularly notable Deconstructions; once one story has pointed how a certain genre will play out in reality this can cause a ripple effect across other stories in the genre. However, it doesn't always have to be a Deconstruction. Some shows can radically redefine a genre without taking it apart. Reconstructions can have the same effect; incorporating realistic elements into the old-school storytelling can make the genre look new again.

Usually seen as a good thing, although there are genre fans who will feel negatively about

Compare Wham Episode, Genre-Killer, From Clones to Genre, Follow the Leader. Good chance of being a Trope Maker or Trope Codifier.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Automobiles 
  • The Ford Model T turned the automobile from a luxury toy into a necessity, putting millions of Americans on the road and creating an industry thanks to Ford's innovative use of the assembly line.
    • The Volkswagen Type 1 "Beetle" in Germany, the Fiat 500 in Italy, the Citroën 2CV in France, and the Subaru 360 in Japan did much the same in their respective countries after World War II.
  • The Mini was not only the first commercially successful front-wheel-drive car, it started a revolution in the use of interior space in automobiles, with its ability to seat a family of four comfortably despite its, well, minuscule size thanks to how all the parts were arranged to maximize the room inside. Nearly every compact car built since then bears some of the Mini's DNA.
  • While we could go back and forth about the accuracy of Ralph Nader's 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed for days on end, the fact still stands that the public's reaction to it forced automakers to start seriously considering the safety of their cars. In its wake, a host of new safety features, most notably seat belts, airbags, and the "Nader bolt" on car doors, began popping up in new cars, some of them mandated by law, while chrome plating (which produced blinding glare) and "suicide doors" (so name because they made it easy to be thrown out of the car in a crash) all but vanished.
  • When the 1973 gas crisis hit the United States, the Detroit automakers were caught completely off-guard with their lineup of large, gas-guzzling sedans and muscle cars that few people wanted to buy anymore, while the Japanese companies that had been selling tiny, fuel-sipping econoboxes suddenly saw booming business. The history of the automobile in America can roughly be divided into "pre-1973" and "post-1973", such was the impact of the gas crisis: the Japanese (and to a lesser extent the Germans, particularly Volkswagen) became major players in the American auto market, Detroit correspondingly fell into a decade-long Dork Age that it's still feeling the hangover from, a flurry of new regulations on fuel economy and emissions emerged, and big gas-guzzlers became Deader Than Disco for a generation until the rise of the SUV in the '90s.
  • The Plymouth Voyager, Horizon, and Reliant and their respective Dodge stablemates, the Caravan, Omni, and Aries, were the vehicles that saved Chrysler. Teetering on the edge of bankruptcy in the early '80s and only kept afloat by a government bailout, these vehicles turned the company around overnight. The Horizon/Omni hatchbacks and Reliant/Aries compacts proved that American automakers could build small cars that could compete with the Japanese, vanquishing the legacy of crap like the Chevrolet Vega, the AMC Pacer, and especially Chrysler's old Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volaré. (The terrible build quality of those two cars forced Chrysler to shell out millions to repair cars under warranty, playing a large role in bringing the company to the brink in the first place.) The Voyager and Caravan, meanwhile, pioneered a new type of vehicle, the "minivan" that had the cargo space of a station wagon but far superior fuel economy. Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca became a national icon for turning Chrysler around, with many attempts to get him to run for President.
  • In Europe, the Renault Espace came out around the same time as the Voyager/Caravan, and played a similar role in popularizing the minivan (or as it's known in Europe, the multi-purpose vehicle, or MPV) there. The Espace was actually designed at Chrysler's European subsidiary in the late '70s, but there seems to have been no contact between the designers of the two vehicles — they both found a good idea independently.
  • While sports car engineers had long known of the importance of aerodynamics in improving high-speed performance, the Ford Taurus family sedan was the car that demonstrated its value in improving fuel economy as well. The car's streamlined styling greatly reduced drag at highway speeds and allowed it to sail straight through stringent fuel economy tests without sacrificing performance, and between that and the fact that it looked awesomenote , it was a smash hit. GM and Chrysler, and later the Japanese and German automakers, soon began to recognize that aerodynamic styling could improve even non-sporty cars, and by the '90s it had become standard in automotive design. By the '00s, however, a backlash emerged from car buffs out of a sense that letting wind tunnels carve a car's lines was making every vehicle on the road look like an amorphous, elongated blob, and the Turn of the Millennium saw a return to more distinctive (yet still aerodynamic) styles.
  • The Ford Explorer brought back the old-fashioned landyacht automobile in a new, truck-inspired form. While the idea of combining a station wagon with a truck was an old concept, many of those older vehicles (such as the Ford Bronco and Jeep Cherokee) hewed much closer to the "truck" side of the equation, with their interiors being fairly spartan and, essentially, covered truck beds. The Explorer, however, turned that combination into a money-spinning machine by adding car-like creature comforts that many earlier takes on the concept lacked, making it a viable choice for suburban families. Conventional station wagons and large family sedans essentially died out in the '90s and '00s thanks to the rise of what came to be known as sport-utility vehicles, or SUVs.
    • Ironically, the Explorer itself would be unable to enjoy the greatest fruits of the SUV boom. Its reputation was irrevocably tarnished by a rollover scandal involving Firestone tires, leading to the collapse of its own sales just as the SUVs it inspired (including Ford's own Expedition and Excursion, both of which made the Explorer look like a tiny clown car) were taking over the road. And in another irony, the Explorer since 2011 has been a crossover utility vehicle — the very sort of vehicle that killed the style of SUVs that the Explorer had popularized, taking their niche in the American market.
  • The impact of the SUV's combination of power and luxury eventually trickled back to pickup trucks themselves. The second-generation Dodge Ram that debuted in 1994 proved that trucks could be more than just workhorses — they could look good and be nice to drive as much as any car or SUV. From there, the development of pickups and SUVs went hand-in-hand, and smaller work trucks like the Ford Ranger and the Chevrolet S-10 fell by the wayside as pickups followed SUVs in becoming lifestyle vehicles. Indeed, some have blamed the Ram for, in the long run, making trucks too expensive for the average blue-collar contractor or farmer (the original market for pickup trucks) to purchase new.
  • The Toyota Prius, for all intents and purposes, invented the hybrid as we know it today. Many automakers had experimented with the idea before it (the Lohner-Porsche was built and sold as far back as 1901), but the Prius proved that alternatives to the internal combustion engine could be commercially viable, in a way that GM's contemporaneous EV1 pure-electric car failed to do. The second generation (2003-09) model in particular defined the sleek, high-tech styling that came to be synonymous with hybrids and other 'green' cars, shifting their image from hippie-mobiles to cutting-edge technological showpieces.

    Comic Books 
  • An example that isn't actually a "work": the outrage caused by the book Seduction of the Innocent led to the creation of The Comics Code. This killed horror and crime comics, then among the biggest hits for the industry, while saving the superhero genre, which was sinking at the time. This also led Marvel Comics to give Stan Lee and Jack Kirby the green light to experiment, as they were hurting in the wake of this turn in the medium. (Which in turn led to the Marvel Age.) All of this led to the terms "comic book character" and "superhero" being almost interchangeable in the North American market.
  • The Silver Age changed superhero comics forever. It introduced more flawed and relatable characters, more sophisticated themes, and more complicated plots. This led to an eventual shift in the target audience for comics from children to late teens/young adults.
    • It is generally accepted that Barry Allen, the second Flash, was the character that kicked off the Silver Age, complete with sleek, form-fitting, cape-less costume, more scientific...ish...origin, and a Rogues Gallery of gimmick villains.
    • Fantastic Four introduced a family team whose members clashed and bickered from time to time, and it showed that superhero stories could firmly anchor themselves in the real world without sacrificing any of their inherent fun. The Four lived in the real world of 1960's New York rather than a fictional City of Adventure like Metropolis or Gotham, they didn't bother with Secret Identities, they were world-famous scientists and philanthropists in addition to being superheroes, their nemesis was the truly dangerous dictator of an Eastern European nation rather than a simple criminal, and their famous blue jumpsuits were a more realistic alternative to the flamboyant costumes that other superheroes wore. On top of that, The Thing pioneered the idea of a superhero who viewed his powers as a curse.
    • Incredible Hulk got a lot of attention as an ambiguous hero who was neither entirely a superhero nor entirely a monster, and his series pushed the boundaries of the Comics Code Authority by depicting the United States military as antagonists (the Code stipulated that comic books couldn't portray respected organizations in a negative light). With his anger, his inherently flawed nature, and his troubled relationship with authority figures, he also went on to become a counterculture icon, showing the potential for superheroes to act as a voice for the youth.
    • Spider-Man broke the mold as a teen superhero who was not a sidekick and had no mentor or guide, was hated by most of the public, and initially tried to use his powers to make money.note  His first issue, where he resolves to protect the innocent to atone for selfishly refusing to stop the burglar that went on to kill his beloved uncle, definitively established him as a flawed young man with a lot of growing up to do, rather than a moralistic crusader out to punish evildoers.
  • Jack Kirby's move to DC. The New Gods is often considered the beginning of the Bronze Age.
  • Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns more or less ushered in The Dark Age of Comic Books. Kingdom Come, in turn, would end it.
  • Todd Mc Farlane gained much acclaim for his artwork on Incredible Hulk and Spider-man, especially because he drew with exaggerated details and body contortions. This style later paved the way for Rob Liefeld as writer and artist of New Mutants, where he created Cable. His work on Cable and X-Force kicked off the art style of The Dark Age of Comic Books.
  • Peanuts changed Newspaper Comics permanently. It gave strips the license to address deep and (sometimes) dark issues and not just be simple gag-a-day escapism. However, Charles Schulz's signature simple artwork gave newspapers the idea to reduce the size of the comic panels and force all the future artists to simplify their artwork to the point where all the art look like rushed cut-and-paste jobs. Again with Calvin and Hobbes, which carried the intelligent and philosophical underpinnings of Peanuts forward while marking the beginning of the pushback against the "Schulzian" artistic simplification.
  • Harvey Pekar's American Splendor showed that comics could depict adult life without idealizing it.
  • The Adventures Of Luther Arkwright was an independent New Wave style Science Fiction comic made by Bryan Talbot in the 70s, the techniques and story telling he used have had large impact on many other writers and artists. Warren Ellis has said "LUTHER ARKWRIGHT invented the tools. ARKWRIGHT informs Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, me, and all the rest of us. It's probably Anglophone comics' single most important experimental work."
  • Alan Moore starts writing Swamp Thing. From one writer no one in America had heard of on a dying third-string title at DC we eventually got the whole of Vertigo Comics, Marvel's Max Imprint and not a few smaller publishing houses (Avatar, for example).
  • Chris Claremont starts writing the X-Men. Marvel Comics had been soap operas before that point, but Claremont's writing made the soap truly operatic in scope. Mainstream modern superhero comics, including the deconstructions of Alan Moore and others, were changed forever by the popularity of Claremont's writing style. (Yes, Byrne's art had something to do with it too, but Claremont stayed on the title a lot longer and had a lot more influence.)

    Fan Works 
  • "A Fragment out of Time", published in Spockanalia (a Star Trek fanzine running through the seventies), was the first known Slash Fic to hit wide distribution. Virtually every Yaoi Fangirl can thank Diane Marchant, who originally published anonymously.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A Trip to the Moon invented the film industry as we know it, being one of the first explicitly fictional fantastic narratives brought to life on the "silver screen" in an era where most people were using movie cameras simply to capture small slices of everyday life. It also showcases early examples of special effects such as screen wipes and stop tricks that would eventually become stock-in-trade for the medium.
  • D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation established the popularity of movies as public entertainment, codified the feature length film with its extended running time, long-form narrative, new editing techniques, film grammar (long-shot, medium-shot, close-up). Despite being reviled today for its shocking racism, few historians deny that The Birth of a Nation's giant box-office success invented the blockbuster film, Epic Movie and got many moviegoers and producers around the world invested in the movie business, thereby inventing Hollywood itself.
  • Charlie Chaplin's short films made him the world's first movie star and media celebrity, it also codified the basic repertoire of motion picture slapstick comedy in live action as well as animation. Chaplin's use of comedy to communicate social issues of poverty and homelessness, the underdog nature of the Tramp also made him a favorite among avant-garde artists who cited him as their inspiration for cinema that was both fun and relevant.
  • Sergei Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin showed that rather than following theatre and movie stars, cinema can communicate deeper and more intricate meaning via montages and editing techniques, greatly expanding the vocabulary beyond the realist limitations of theatre and literature. It's radical political message also, for better and worse, introduced the concept of using cinema as political propaganda.
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was this for German Expressionism and showed the power of set design, art direction, lighting and cinematography to communicate visual atmosphere and mood, rather than simply relying on intertitles. It also showed, in a very primitive fashion, that movies could have stories that were psychologically insightful and thought-provoking just by being visual, rather than merely aping the novel or theatre.
  • Fritz Lang codified many features of genre film-making in the 20s-30s. His Die Nibelungen was the first large-scale fantasy epic, Dr. Mabuse and Spies marked the start of the spy movies with N.G.O. Superpower and supervillains running society via surveillance networks, Metropolis and The Woman in the Moon was the birth of the science-fiction epic and the latter film invented the countdown. Lang's movies inspired superhero comics, with Superman's city named after his film, his supervillains like Dr. Mabuse, Rotwang and Haghi inspiring via Popcultural Osmosis everyone from Lex Luthor to Blofeld. M likewise was the first major movie about a Serial Killer and its greater realism and more accurate look at policework inspired the true crime genre and police procedural. These films inspired Film Noir and Lang after arriving in America, contributed to that genre as well.
  • While not a good film The Jazz Singer marked the arrival of sound in cinema and it changed the film industry across the world. The arrival of sound introduced more realistic acting, putting the end of many stars who came to prominence in the silent era. Silent comedy of the likes of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd were left out of the lurch, while Chaplin became far less prolific and more cautious. It also marked the start of national cinemas around the world. Formerly, simply replacing the intertitles from one film in local translation made it possible for Italian, French, Russian and Swedish movies to have global audiences. Now the language barrier and Hollywood's greater dominance led to the greater hegemony of English language cinema around the world.
  • Scarface by Howard Hawks was not the first gangster film or even the first sound gangster film (that goes to The Public Enemy) but it was the first crime movie that became a huge hit and created controversy since it's main character was an Expy of an actual criminal. It's non-judgmental use of a Villain Protagonist raised concerns about glorifying violence and raised enough fears among Moral Guardians that they demanded Re Cut, not unlike the 1983 remake. Among moviegoers, Scarface and other Depression gangster films, was seen as edgy and innovative for use of contemporary slang that the working-class audiences recognized and used themselves, further showing the potential for sound cinema to be dramatically and socially realistic.
  • The Western had been popular from the beginning of the movies with The Great Train Robbery but it faded when sound arrived. Then came John Fords's Stagecoach, which marked the true start of the modern Western. It marked the star-making role of the greatest Western star, John Wayne, location shooting of Monument Valley (the first time Ford shot there), realistic action sequences and also the use of the Western genre to make social commentary with civilization positioned as a corrupting influence on the natural and rugged frontier with greedy bankers standing in for Acceptable Targets during the Depression.
  • Citizen Kane was the Trope Codifier if not the Trope Maker for a new kind of film-making. Where film-makers had used montage, art-direction, set design, performance and sound to tell stories before, Orson Welles was the first to put it together into a single whole to create a new heightened kind of storytelling. It's Genre-Busting approach used Mockumentary, multiple flashbacks and multiple narrators to tell a psychologically consistent story of three dimensional characters was considered as a sign that movies could be movies and still be as complex and modern as the best theatre and novels. By borrowing ideas and concepts from genre and epic movies (special effects, miniatures, multiple camera tricks) to a serious film, Welles committed major Genre Adultery. Likewise, Welles' unique contract became the Trope Maker for Auteur License and the fact that he made it at the age of 25 proved that cinema wasn't merely the work of established professionals but also open to upstarts and tyros as well.
  • Psycho and Night of the Living Dead (1968) are, along with the ditching of The Hays Code and its replacement by the MPAA, widely credited for helping to turn the horror genre from "stories that are a bit spooky and feature the odd death" to "stories where Anyone Can Die, deaths are bloody and brutal, and sometimes even The Bad Guy Wins." Each of those films also helped to launch their own sub-genres of horror — Psycho is considered to be the Ur-Example of the slasher genre, while Night single-handedly invented modern zombie fiction.
  • Heaven's Gate, although not for the same reasons as most of the other examples: it was so bad, it killed the Hollywood Western (at least for a time), United Artists as an independent studio, and director Michael Cimino's career. It and other high-profile flops (One From the Heart, Sorcerer) also killed the auteur period in Hollywood.
  • Wes Craven made Scream (1996) in an effort to kill the Slasher Movie once and for all. It did the exact opposite, breathing new life into a once-dying genre and starting the late '90s/early '00s Post Modernism craze in horror.
    • In the long term, though, while it did reinvent the slasher for a new generation, it also killed off a lot of the tropes used in '80s slashers, such as Death by Sex and The Scourge of God. Nowadays, most horror films in which young, horny, pot-smoking teens get killed off by a masked maniac, with the pure, virginal Final Girl surviving to the end and defeating him, are either tributes to the genre (like the Hatchet series) or parodies of it (like The Cabin in the Woods and The Final Girls), with straight examples often seen as cliched and trite due to Scream's mockery of them. Indeed, one could argue that this was part of the reason why the slasher boom that followed Scream was so short-lived (besides the Columbine massacre sparking a Too Soon reaction) — many of the lesser teen slashers that came out in its wake played those same tropes unironically, even though they were now much harder to take seriously.
  • Halloween (1978) didn't invent the modern slasher film, but it did codify most of the tropes of the genre, launch the careers of John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis, and spawn a wave of imitators. Two years later, one of those imitators, Friday the 13th (1980), turned the slasher flick into a horror staple by focusing on the exploitation part of it.
  • Die Hard did this for the action movie. Sure, there were smart thrillers with smart villains beforehand — Die Hard itself could be seen as something of a remake of North Sea Hijack — but after it came out, there were far fewer action films that featured invincible, unstoppable heroes (Schwarzenegger, Stallone) whose plots depended on Ass Pulling solutions out of thin air than there were before. Plus, not many films rewrite the rules for the genre so heavily that a subgenre forms around them.
  • A decade later, The Matrix did the same thing, introducing mainstream Western audiences to Hong Kong-style gunplay, fight choreography living up to Asian action film standards of sophistication, and codifying the use of Bullet Time.
  • And just a few years after that, The Bourne Identity took action movies in the other direction, filling them with grit and stripping them down to basics in a seeming backlash against the over-the-top style of The Matrix. It also took cinematic Spy Fiction away from the flashy, over-the-top "Martini" style seen in the Pierce Brosnan Bond films and more in a "Stale Beer" direction, to the point where even later Bond films followed its lead.
  • Forbidden Planet was the film that revolutionized film and television science fiction. Along with The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), it was one of the first science-fiction films ever to be treated as a big-budget studio endeavor (an "A-Movie") rather than a disposable lead-in to a main feature (a "B-Movie"), and the first such film to put its budget towards lavishly bringing an alien world and a distant future to life on the big-screen. On top of that, it showed audiences the potential for using science-fiction to explore complex concepts and morals, incorporating an unlikely blend of Shakespearean drama, Freudian psychology and 20th century ideas about the destructive potential of science into its plot. Star Trek would famously follow its example, building a franchise on using science-fiction tropes to deliver morality plays.
  • Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy. These films weren't the first deconstructionist Westerns — the classics High Noon and The Searchers came out a decade before them — but they left a far more lasting impact on the genre than those two films did. All of a sudden, the Black and White Morality that was nearly omnipresent in the genre vanished, replaced with the grittier, more morally gray attitudes seen in such films as The Wild Bunch, High Plains Drifter and, much later, Unforgiven. Every single Western made since the mid-'60s owes something to Leone's masterpiece.
    • And so actually owes something to the genius of Akira Kurosawa , given that Fistful is almost a shot for shot remake of Yojimbo .
  • Star Wars. While Jaws is usually regarded as the first modern "blockbuster" movie, this was the one that proved that kids — a demographic ignored by most 1970s movies — were audience members too, that merchandising spinoffs were a potential gold mine, that escapist sci-fi wasn't as disposable as once thought, and that fantasy in general was an untapped resource. The whole Genre Throwback genre originated here, and while Follow the Leader meant there were many crappy imitators within the years that followed, it did lead directly to Superman getting a big movie of his own, thus launching the rise of cinematic comic book adaptations. It also helped launch the revival of rival series Star Trek. Indeed, some blame this movie for hastening the end of the "New Hollywood" era and leading to the dumbed-down Summer Blockbuster mentality of the industry today. Especially once the sequels arrived� Furthermore, Star Wars fundamentally changed how movies were made because of the huge success the franchise had with marketing. Sure, the movies were profitable, but the real money was made in action figures and toys and posters and other kinds of merchandising. Any kind of family-friendly blockbuster is going to have a cute character of some sort designed to appeal to children and sell toys to them.
  • The Superman movie proved once and for all that comic book adaptations didn't need to be cheesy or silly, with terrible budgets and special effects. Even the casting of Christopher Reeve was considered a bold move at the time, since Richard Donner insisted on casting a relatively unknown character actor so that it would be easier for the audience to believe that they were actually seeing Superman onscreen.
    • It also showed that filmmakers could stay true to the spirit of a long-running comic book while incorporating just enough original ideas to make it work on film. Many ideas conceived for the movie (the crystal cities of Krypton, Zod's two Kryptonian henchmen, Jor-El surviving Krypton's destruction as a Virtual Ghost, Superman's portrayal as a messianic figure, the "S" emblem being the House of El's coat of arms, etc.) were original ideas with no basis in the comics, but they helped successfully sell the Superman mythos to a new audience, and many of them were received well enough that they were incorporated into the comics as official canon.
  • In addition to pushing boundaries with its violence, Psycho helped show the world the true shock potential of the Halfway Plot Switch and the Decoy Protagonist, by famously changing genres and introducing a new main character after the infamous shower scene. Though definitely not the first film with a major Plot Twist in its story, it paved the way for a whole slew of thrillers and horror films built on Shocking Swerves and the anticipation of a Twist Ending. How influential was it? It's credited with leading to the advent of movie showtimes, as Alfred Hitchcock specifically requested that theaters refrain from admitting viewers to the movie after it started, wanting everyone to be able to experience the big twist when it happened. Before that, it was actually considered normal for theaters to simply play movies in a loop, with moviegoers regularly walking in halfway through and leaving when it looped back around to where they originally came in.
  • The Harry Potter film series arguably did this for the Summer Blockbuster, just as the books did for young-adult and fantasy literature. To quote Bob Chipman:
    [Harry Potter is] a film series that, for better or worse, seems to have kicked off and excelled at every major trend in modern movie-making for the last decade. Things like the boom in the fantasy genre, to the reliance on recognized franchise names, to the idea of long-running cinematic continuity, can all be traced back to this one game-changing production. Like it or not, the entire scope of movies are now living in the world that Harry Potter created.
    • David Christopher Bell at Cracked drew much the same conclusion, though he had a somewhat darker take on it, viewing it as an Industry Original Sin for Hollywood in general. He blames the Harry Potter films for the sequelitis and obsession with long-running cinematic universes that increasingly overtook Hollywood from the '00s onward, at the expense of original ideas.
    • Ben Kuchera of Polygon and Movies with Mikey, meanwhile, specifically point to the third Harry Potter film in particular, 2004's Prisoner of Azkaban, as the film that "usher[ed] in the modern genre blockbuster". After Chris Columbus departed from the franchise, bringing in Alfonso Cuarón was seen as a major risk given how "out there" his films tended to be, but his selection paid off handsomely with a film that gave new energy to the franchise and corrected most of the faults of Columbus' two films, something that was mainly accomplished by letting an auteur like Cuarón leave his own distinctive stamp on the material. Later on, Marvel Studios would take a similar approach when they were first constructing their own cinematic universe, tapping filmmakers like Joss Whedon, James Gunn, and Shane Black to make films that all existed in the same universe yet each bore their respective creators' fingerprints, a strategy that the Harry Potter films post-Azkaban pioneered.
  • Together with the aforementioned Potter, the Lord of the Rings films greatly raised the prestige of fantasy movies, much as the books had done for fantasy literature. Before then, fantasy films were generally limited to the Fantasy Ghetto, with only the rare Conan the Barbarian (1982) or The Neverending Story emerging unscathed. Modern CGI also greatly helped filmmakers create convincing fantasy worlds that don't look like prop castles inhabited by stuntmen in rubber suits.
  • Blade Runner was a disappointment in a crowded summer box office when it came out. Repeated showings on cable and its release on video not only made it one of the first films to develop a strong cult following that way, but introduced the first new way of visualizing the future in sci-fi films since Metropolis a half-century earlier. Not only did its wet streets reflecting neon signs at night get copied widely in other films, commercials and music videos during the 1980s, it arguably influenced the look of urban space in the actual real-world future (see Times Square, ca. 2008).
    • Furthermore, this was the film that popularized the Director's Cut, giving audience a better chance to see a film like the artists truly intended while the film companies are motivated to cooperate with the profit of selling another version of a film to the same audience.
  • The Alien film franchise, especially Aliens, forever changed the narrative expectations of female characters in western futuristic stories. While one Neutral Female or Damsel in Distress character was the norm, now every primary female character in the future is expected to make like Ellen Ripley, grab a weapon, and join the fighting as much as any man.
  • Animal House was probably the first "teen" movie to combine youthful angst with zany comedy — which, in the ensuing decades, resulted in teen comedies becoming not only a lot more common, but a lot more serious as well.
  • Early giant monster movies like the 1927 version of The Lost World or King Kong (1933) had their monsters as prehistoric forces unleashed on the modern world. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, on the other hand, was the first to have its monster as a blend of primordial chaos and the contemporary, future-fear of the atom bomb. For most of the remainder of the 20th Century, giant monsters were nuclear-powered (Gojira and Them! being the best of those that followed), and in a post-Cold War world, giant monsters still tend to represent some real-world, human-derived panic - Jurassic Park and genetic engineering, Cloverfield and terrorism, etc.
  • RoboCop (1987): When this film came out, the Super Hero movie genre seemed to have sunk with the embarrassing failure of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace earlier that year. However, RoboCop turned the genre around as a critically hailed hit Super Hero film that presented a cuttingly satiric Sci-Fi cyberpunk thriller with a moving humanity that showed what the fantasy genre could be.
  • Roger & Me (1989) forever changed documentaries. Beforehand, documentaries (of a non-musical nature at least) had been mostly confined to film festivals. Roger and Me demonstrated you could make a documentary that the masses would want to see, allowing other documentaries, including Michael Moore's later ones, to achieve widespread box office and critical success.
  • The 1965 film adaptation of The Sound of Music was described by Matthew Kennedy, in his book Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the '60s, as "The Musical That Ate Hollywood". The staggering box-office success of this big-budget family musical (dethroning Gone with the Wind for the title of the highest-grossing film of all time) led to a slew of copycats determined to make lightning strike twice, many of which went down in history as notorious Box Office Bombs that helped to discredit musicals for decades. Likewise, its use of roadshow booking, screening films at a select number of upscale theaters that charged premium ticket prices in exchange for a far more lavish moviegoing experience, led many more studios to use it for their musicals, cheapening a format that had once been reserved for the biggest spectacles. The trends that The Sound of Music started did severe damage to Hollywood in both the near and long terms, acting as The Last Straw in the Fall of the Studio System as audiences rejected paying inflated ticket prices for increasingly subpar movies.
  • Though The Wizard of Oz was a family-friendly musical comedy, it was also the first big-budget Hollywood feature film ever to put its budget towards bringing a fleshed-out fantastical universe to life on the big screen—something that had previously only been seen in disposable low-budget shorts like the Flash Gordon serials released in the same decade. It definitely wasn't an epic High Fantasy, but it paved the way for more ambitious fantasy films (both originals and adaptations) like Star Wars, Labyrinth, and the Lord of the Rings films. Tellingly, the studio insisted that the movie end with Dorothy waking up in her bed and assuming that her adventures in Oz were just a dream, since they didn't think that adult moviegoers in the 1930's would take a real fantasyland seriously. note 
  • While comic book superhero movies experienced various levels of popularity during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, it was on the basis of characters belonging to studios other than Marvel, most notably DC. Blade in 1998 finally proved a Marvel character could be the basis of a popular movie.
    • Also, Blade was arguably the movie that reinvented not only the comic-book film genre, but science fiction as well. Prior to 1998, most such films had 1) been gimmicky and (somewhat) unintentionally campy; set in surrealistic worlds, frequently with "retro" or Zeerust touches; or 3) dealt only fleetingly, if at all, with serious real-world issues, sublimating them to the mindless action. The Wesley Snipes film, on the other hand, is set in late 1990s America, includes very little humor (and what there is of it is quite dark), features two "heroes" who aren't very inspiring and not exactly on the hunt for adventure (and one of them is dying of cancer!), and scales back the fanciful, gee-whiz element of earlier such films as much as it can; even the vampires are discussed in quasi-scientific terms and are given a plausible historical backstory. It solidified Movie Superheroes Wear Black, which not even Batman had managed to establish. Blade was what opened the door for "realistic" sci-fi (The Matrix) and comic-book tales that took place in what could almost pass for the real world (X-Men, etc.).
  • Spider-Man in 2002 had a massive role in popularizing the superhero genre in the 21st Century. It was the first wide commercial and critical success since the disaster of Batman & Robin. While X-Men, and Blade, had preceded it in Marvel properties, neither was the international success that Spider-Man was. The film's marketing also had a huge influence on Poster-Design, especially the amber-coloured background of the first two-posters, which was copied for Batman Begins.
    • Likewise, compared to Richard Donner's original Superman: The Movie and Tim Burton's Batman, both of which were essentially set in a Constructed World and quasi-Alternate Universe, and the X-Men movies seemed to be science-fiction/fantasy, Raimi's Spider-Man films had a greater sense of realism. It visibly looked like 21st Century New York, addressed the September 11 attacks and had characters who looked like contemporary adults grappling problems related to rent, work and careers. This set the trend for greater realism and contemporary focus in the films that came after, even in the revived Batman films by Christopher Nolan. The films that avoided the contemporary focus (Superman Returns, Green Lantern) were failures, so the trend set by Spider-Man still remains the house style for both DC and Marvel properties.
    • The film's giant box-office success revived Marvel after heavy financial troubles in The '90s and brought renewed attention to its properties and licenses, leading many of the other studios Marvel had sold movie rights to in The '90s to greenlight productions to Follow the Leader. While there isn't a direct line from this film to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's unlikely that could ever have taken off without Sam Raimi's films.
  • Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983, Tsui Hark) was the first film to combine Hong Kong action cinema with western special effects technology, resulting in visually-stunning displays of Supernatural Martial Arts.
  • The Dark Knight is the reason that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences now nominates as many as ten movies for the coveted Best Picture Oscar rather than the previously standard five. For that reason, it's often cited as an important contributor to the decline (though not outright death) of Oscar Bait in The New Tens. There had long been a bit of a backlash against studios who banked films' success on the possibility of being nominated for Oscars during the Winter months (reserving mere "crowd-pleasers" for the Summer months), but the backlash became all but impossible to ignore when The Dark Knight failed to even get a nomination for Best Picture at the 81st Academy Awards, despite being one of the most critically acclaimed films of 2008. note  The resultant public outcry convinced the Academy to start nominating twice as many films for Best Picture, giving critically acclaimed genre films more space to be recognized by the Academy. Tellingly, Avatar, District 9, and Up were among the films nominated for Best Picture in 2009, while Christopher Nolan's own Inception got nominated in 2010, as did Toy Story 3.
  • While Planet of the Apes (2001) was trashed by critics upon its release, a few later writers have argued that it marked a major step in showing Hollywood the true potential of movie reboots. Though it definitely wasn't the first remake in cinematic history, it was one of the first such remakes that openly billed itself as a complete reimagining of a well-known classic, keeping the general premise but taking nearly everything else in a completely new direction. Its negative critical reception killed any hope of it getting a sequel, but many of its ideas (e.g. a full-blown war between between Apes and Humans, explaining the Ape civilization's origins as a Stable Time Loop caused by the protagonist, and ending the movie with the protagonist traveling to an alternate version of present-day Earth populated by Apes) intrigued audiences enough to make the movie a modest commercial success. That success arguably paved the way for later, better-received reimaginings of classic film franchises like Batman Begins, Casino Royale (2006), Star Trek (2009) The Karate Kid (2010), and—eventually—another Planet of the Apes reimagining, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (which had significantly better luck the third time around).
  • The Blair Witch Project is famous for its found footage conceit, but nowadays, its greatest legacy is arguably in how it pioneered Viral Marketing. The filmmakers created a website purporting that the film was authentic "lost footage" and the last trace of three missing hikers/documentarians, creating a mountain of hype as people argued over whether or not it was actually real. As the internet grew more popular in the '00s, the success of The Blair Witch Project became a blueprint for viral marketing that was frequently replicated.

    Literature 
  • Virgil's The Aeneid is seen by many as the first constructed epic. Unlike Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey which was transmuted by an oral tradition and preserved by bards. The Aeneid was an authored work, with carefully constructed Latin verse, a narrative that didn't simply relate events but figuratively communicated the deeper meaning (as in the Sunt lacrimae rerum scene). As Jorge Luis Borges noted:
    The Aeneid is the highest example of what has been called, without discredit, the artificial epic; that is to say, the deliberate work of a single man, not that which human generations, without knowing it, have created. Virgil set out to write a masterpiece; curiously, he succeeded.
  • Petrarch, Boccaccio and Dante Alighieri are collectively credited for having invented the Italian literary language. They used vernacular language for literary work, instead of Latin. The Divine Comedy also introduced a new kind of epic poem, one anchored in the poet's life, emotions and experiences rather than some great epic story with endless battles. By writing it in terza rima and vernacular Italian, Dante allowed poetry to have a popular audience and invented the idea of a national literary tradition since every European writer and artist sought to be like Dante and write the great work of their culture.
  • Don Quixote was not only the first "modern" novel, but it also single-handedly killed "knight stories" (Chivalric Romance, adventure stories with a Knight in Shining Armor as the main character — think King Arthur & company). In fact the novel is so inventive that every century, a new group of writers comes forward to claim that it's even more radical and crazy than previously believed and virtually every great novelist has cited it as an inspiration and favorite at some point of another.
  • Moll Flanders changed the novel forever. Defoe's realism made it unlike anything which had gone before; his plot was completely original, in an age of reworking classic plots.
  • Samuel Richardson's epistolary novels Pamela and Clarissa introduced the concept of serial novels, best-sellers and made the novel a professional genre across Europe. The epistolary (novel narrated in the form of journals and letters) became the dominant literary tradition for the rest of the 1700s inspiring Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther.
  • Walter Scott and Alexandre Dumas invented Historical Fiction and the popular adventure novel almost at the same time. Both of them wrote stories set in what they considered the bygone era of the past with Historical-Domain Character and realistic backgrounds, inventing or codifying many tropes of the genres.
  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein virtually invented Science Fiction overnight. It dealt with utopian themes, Artificial Intelligence, What Measure Is a Non-Human? and mankind playing God. Taking what were formerly gothic and supernatural ideas and infusing it with a contemporary theme and preoccupations.
  • Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary became a major cause celebre in the time and introduced unheroic characters, a story without any real moral message and its non-judgmental look at an adulterous housewife. Flaubert's command of form and language also inspired other writers to be more meticulous and economical with language as a prose stylist rather than simply write Doorstopper because serial publications are paying you by ink.
  • Alexander Pushkin and Nikolai Gogol were major pioneers of the Russian Literary language. Pushkin has often been likened as analogous to Shakespeare or Dante in the Russian context. Gogol's short-stories likewise put forth a new kind of psychological and magical realist style of short stories that was unique to Russian traditions, showing that Russian writers (and by extension writers from other countries) could use their own local tradition and folklore to create unique narratives out of European forms like the novel and short-story. Fyodor Dostoevsky supposedly said "We all come from Gogol's Overcoat" (referring to Gogol's famous story). Gogol's The Inspector General was also seen as the most innovative and important Russian play in the language until Chekhov.
  • Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper were the first American men of letters to achieve literary fame and prestige in Europe and did a lot to show that America could have a culture and voice unique to itself even if it was Separated by a Common Language from England.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's short stories and poetry marked the start of modern horror fiction. Poe codified a lot of literary techniques associated with Gothic novel into something dark and unique, often stemming from subject first person narrators, Villain Protagonist and protagonists who tended to be unheroic victims driven to madness. Poe's detective stories, starring C. Auguste Dupin, likewise introduced the modern mystery/detective fiction, greatly inspiring Sherlock Holmes and many others.
  • Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland codified and developed the concept of children's literature and inspired a slew of imitators. Its mindbending use of language, puns, puzzles and dream-like nature of logic also made it an Unbuilt Trope for Multiple Demographic Appeal, and it's still seen as an early success of popular fantasy for readers of all ages.
  • Jules Verne and H. G. Wells between them covered all the stops of modern science-fiction: alien invasion, use of science for ill rather than good, soft-science versus hard science and so on.
  • Joseph Conrad is regarded as one of the key inventors of modern fiction. His novels described a globalized world of transportation and communication, where the drama was internal with a great deal of moral ambiguity and cynicism. His characters were often unlikable and compromised, and they tended to have Downer Ending having very little of the optimism in progress, science and technology that characterized the 19th Century.
  • Within France, Emile Zola's famous article J'accuse was seen as the start of the Public Intellectual, where writers and artists would use their prestige and authority to take a stand on issues of social and political justice, in this case the Dreyfuss Affair and its attendant anti-semitism.
  • The Lord of the Rings wasn't the first high fantasy Constructed World novel, but it set up most of the devices of modern fantasy.
  • Terry Brooks was the first fantasy author to be a best-selling author, and is considered to be the author that turned fantasy literature from a fringe cult phenomenon into a real industry. Interestingly, although his first Shannara book was heavily influenced by Tolkien, he also introduced some fantasy conventions of his own, such as a less formal writing style.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire didn't invent Dark Fantasy, and wasn't the first to use flawed, or even villainous protagonists in a crapsack fantasy world, but thanks to its popularity, it was one of the biggest reasons for the increase in the number of darker fantasy series being put out by publishers. It also helped inspire well-known non-literature examples of the genre, such as Dragon Age.
  • John W. Campbell, a popular science fiction writer and magazine editor, is generally credited by Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, and other science fiction writers as being responsible for nurturing their talents and for bringing higher standard of storytelling to the science fiction genre, which had previously consisted mostly of utopian literature, stories of aliens and fantastic gadgets, and space Westerns. Genre historians often date the beginning of science fiction's Golden Age as being 1938, the year Campbell assumed editorship of Astounding Science Fiction magazine.
  • Neuromancer more or less created the Cyber Punk sub-genre of Sci-Fi.
    • Neuromancer was this for sci-fi as a whole, especially combined with the movie Blade Runner. Both works eschewed the idea of the Invincible Hero and focused on individuals who were relatively powerless in the respective worlds that they lived in. note  Since Neuromancer and Blade Runner, sci-fi protagonists have been used much more as tools to examine the worlds that they live in.
    • While Neuromancer was the Genre Popularizer for and Trope Codifier for Cyber Punk, the 'turning point' for the genre, arguably, was Snow Crash which changed much of the aesthetics for Cyber Punk, moving things out of noir and into a more eclectic 'punk' sensibility.
  • H.P. Lovecraft went from simple stories of the macabre and ghost stories to Cosmic Horror Story, which changed the face of the horror genre forever; Stephen King, to give just one example, owes a great deal of his success to Lovecraft. His influence can be seen on this very wiki; check out how many tropes one of his monsters inspired.
  • The Spy Who Came In From the Cold changed the spy novel genre, moving it from the romantic, action thrillers characterized by Ian Fleming's James Bond to a gritty and morally uncertain genre steeped in procedural details, with the decidedly un-sexy George Smiley as protagonist.
  • Tom Clancy didn't invent the Techno Thriller genre — that credit belongs to the late Craig Thomas, who penned the book Firefox — but he did bring it into the mainstream with his iconic debut volume, The Hunt for Red October which spawned more books, action movies, video games, and a whole franchise that has since made millions of dollars.
  • While Young Adult Literature had existed for decades, the Harry Potter books turned it into a pop culture phenomenon that's often credited with almost single-handedly restoring interest in reading among younger generations. It also proved that books written for children didn't have to be watered-down to the point of being stripped of all their depth, especially once later books started growing up with their readers. Without Harry Potter, the likes of Twilight and The Hunger Games would never have been as successful as they were.
  • E. E. "Doc" Smith with the Lensman series either created or brought to the public imagination concepts that have become standard in science-fiction for decades: military science fiction with massive space battles, the multi-species Civilization where groups with very different psychologies could still work together for the common good, Space Opera where the heroes roamed multiple planets (and galaxies) during the story... Modern SF ranging from the Green Lantern Corps to Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, all of them rely on the concepts Smith wrote in the Lensman series.
  • S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders has been credited with single-handedly inventing Young Adult Literature, or at least making it a respectable sub-genre of fiction. When it was published in 1967, the Stratemeyer Syndicate and its imitators were still a major force in the American publishing industry, and most books written for adolescents were formulaic, escapist genre fiction, usually written as installments in indefinitely running series. S.E. Hinton (who was just 17 years old when she wrote the book) had the advantage of writing from an actual teenage perspective, and set out to write the kind of standalone novel that would actually appeal to serious readers in her own age group. The book's relatively simple prose made it accessible to young readers, but its frank examination of class conflict and gang violence made it possible to take it seriously as a work of literature. There's a reason it's still regularly taught in middle school English classes.

    Live Action TV 
  • Star Trek: The Original Series, despite it not doing spectacularly well in the ratings, spawned numerous short-lived imitators (a few coming from Gene Roddenberry, Trek's creator) in comic books and television. During the '70's it served as the template for Science Fiction television in America (and to a lesser extent, the rest of the world) until the advent of Star Wars, though the clones tended to only last for a season or two. Even the original Battlestar Galactica and other works influenced by Star Wars showed its influence. Its impact lasted as late as the '90s, though more in the form of television reacting against the series.
    • Star Trek's influence, however, would go on to shape far more than science fiction as a genre; not only is it the Trope Codifier (and Trope Namer) for the Power Trio, but things like automatic doors, Kindle, iPods, bluetooth, cell phones, and laptops were all first conceived for Star Trek. Its impact even goes beyond pop culture and technology; Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to work in space, was inspired to become an astronaut after seeing Lieutenant Uhura on television as a little girl.
  • Doctor Who had a similar status in the United Kingdom. It, too, spawned numerous homages, ranging from the long-running but much-mocked The Tomorrow People to the dark and cerebral Sapphire and Steel, as well as many other less well-known examples. Similarly, the 2005 revival is credited with restoring Saturday night family dramas to British television as others began to capitalize on its success.
  • Star Trek and Star Wars were (and still are) considered the bastions of American Science Fiction, both being notable for their 'optimistic' views. Babylon 5 and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine started taking sci-fi in a new direction, away from the Space Opera/Space Western concept and made them more character driven dramas, almost like cop shows. This started a slow but steady shift in the television sci-fi genre that later yielded Farscape, The X-Files, and culminated in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Universe.
  • LOST popularized the idea of shows built around long-term myth arcs that jerk the viewer's mind around, as well as bringing sprawling, Soap Opera-style storylines into TV sci-fi. While it has its antecedents (Twin Peaks, The X-Files, the aforementioned B5), the boom in such programming after LOST's success shows why the trope is called the Noughties Drama Series. LOST also played a significant role in convincing networks that a successful mainstream series could experiment with non-linear storytelling.
  • In the late '90s and early '00s, HBO shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Sex and the City, and Oz, with their focus on cinematography, acting, and complex themes and storylines developed through sharp writing and in-depth characters, proved that television productions can be just as good as Hollywood movies, and that cable television could seriously compete with the broadcast networks on their own turf. This has led to what some have described as a new golden age for American television, that is still apparent on HBO with shows like Game of Thrones, but has also spread to basic cable channels such as AMC, primarily with Breaking Bad and Mad Men. AMC's The Walking Dead regularly pulls in over 10 million viewers, a number that not only was once thought unattainable by smaller cable shows, but thanks to cable turning the audience tide, actually dwarves the ratings of most broadcast fare in the 2010s.
    • Said shows also brought more mature content into American television, which, until then, was largely restricted to fairly tame (about a mild PG-13) programming due to the FCC, whose rules only covered broadcast networks (cable, as a pay service, was exempted). Due to these restrictions, much of the creative boom in American TV over the last decade has been on cable networks — and more specifically, on premium cable networks, which not only don't have to worry about the FCC, but also don't have to worry about advertisers being pressured by Moral Guardians to pull their ads.
  • Seinfeld changed the way Sitcom characters and stories are portrayed so completely that the original series seems derivative in the new context it created.
  • Hill Street Blues was the series for which the term "gritty cop drama" was invented. The use of hand-held cameras gave viewers the feeling of being in the middle of a messy, dangerous, often chaotic, big-city landscape. Other camera techniques, such as tight closeups, use of offscreen dialogue and rapid cuts between stories gave the series a "documentary" feel. It pioneered intertwined storylines in an episode, some of which took several episodes to play out. Many episodes were written to take place in a single day. It was one of the first cop shows to have dirty-cop arcs instead of one-shot or guest appearances. A Jack Webb series it wasn't.
  • Game of Thrones and its source material, A Song of Ice and Fire, have been credited with the recent boost in mainstream acceptance of Fantasy, particularly Dark Fantasy. Their widespread acclaim, thanks to their mature and complex storylines and characters that are clearly made for adults (throwing out the unfair notion that Fantasy is only for kids or family-friendly), and their massive Fandom, have put them into the public eye, made the books bestsellers and made the show one of the most critically and commercially successful television dramas of the past decade, often being listed as being on the level of shows such as Breaking Bad and Mad Men, as well as inspiring a noticeable number of medieval fictions for television.
  • Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards (US), and Arrested Development season 4 have completely changed TV audiences perceptions of shows exclusive to services like Netflix, from mediocre stories and poor budgets to exceptionally well made and highly successful shows that stand on par with prime-time television.
  • In 1968, American network ABC was a distant third to its rivals CBS and NBC. Unable to compete with their news departments' coverage of the Democratic and Republican Party conventions that summer, ABC News instead hosted a series of debates between two intellectuals and bitter ideological rivals, the conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. and the leftist Gore Vidal. The insults flew fast and furious — among other highlights, Vidal called Buckley a "crypto-Nazi", to which Buckley responded by calling Vidal a "queer" and threatening to punch him in the face. On that stage, the modern image of the Pompous Political Pundit, and the format for the "talking head" political Talk Show, arrived on television in the form of Buckley and Vidal with their back-and-forth insults, while ABC and its news department went from a perennial also-ran to a major player in American television, joining CBS and NBC as one of the Big Three networks.
  • In 1993, the Fox network was already known for hit shows like Married... with Children, The Simpsons, and Beverly Hills 90210, but it was still viewed as something of an upstart in American television, having launched just seven years earlier. But when they outbid CBS that year for the rights to air NFC football games, and proceeded to pillage most of CBS Sports' on-air talent and several of CBS' most valuable affiliates (including Atlanta, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, and Dallas) the following year, they were established as a power player. No longer were they "the fourth network"; after 1993, the Big Three networks ignored Fox at their own peril, and by the 2000s Fox had joined their rivals in what are now the Big Four. CBS, meanwhile, saw its Dork Age, already ongoing since the mid-late '80s, deepen further; it wouldn't be until 2002 when they fully recovered.
  • Robin of Sherwood introduced a number of changes from previous depictions of Robin Hood: Being the first version to get away from the green-tights-and-hat-with-a-feather image in favour of something a band of 12th century outlaws might actually wear, introducing the idea of a Saracen outlaw which was copied by later adaptations, returning Maid Marian to being an Action Girl after being a Damsel in Distress since Victorian times, and for portraying King Richard as just as bad as Prince John (although that didn't catch on as much).

    Music 
  • The Beatles did this for pop and rock music. Which of their albums is most influential is debatable, but the majority seems to settle on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for the numerous innovations it introduced to music, as well as still being considered to be one of, if not the, best mixed albums ever. Now, consider for a moment how much more sophisticated the technology for mixing has become 40 odd years later. (This only applies to the mono version.) The White Album is also a fair contender for the title of "best Beatles album."
    • It's also debatable whether it was just them or the whole of The British Invasion. Those who argue the former say that there wouldn't have been a "British invasion" without The Beatles, while the latter point out that the Beatles were only one band out of many, and that The Rolling Stones, The Who, and other bands also deserve recognition. That said, while they certainly weren't the only worthy or notable British act of the 1960s, the Beatles' success (not only as the first British rock act to significantly break into the American market in a lasting way, but having achieved numerous number one hits in the process) certainly paved the way for the others to build on their success.
  • The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds was an inspiration for the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper to become a Concept Album. It was not exactly narrative, however, and also not the first concept album. Take for example, Johnny Cash's Ride this Train or Ray Charles's The Genius Hits the Road released about six years before. The Ventures were also making concept albums years before Pet Sounds. This also represented something of a friendly rivalry between the Beach Boys and the Beatles, or at least Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney, as they began to engage in a constant process of trying to one-up the other, in the process producing some great music.
  • Eric Clapton's short, but legendary stint with John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers produced only one album often called Beano. The album is credited to be the first album to feature modern rock guitar. Eric Clapton was the first guy to dare to crank up his amp and take his space. Many people say Jimi Hendrix was the first modern rock guitar player, but he got his inspiration from hearing this album.
  • Eddie Van Halen's 80 second guitar solo on Van Halen's first album was the "Eruption" heard round the world. Shredding was born and rock guitarists became virtuosos in their own right. While the style fell out of favor in mainstream rock in the early 1990s, it's still a major element of various metal and progressive rock scenes worldwide.
  • Rap music received plenty of media attention for most of The '90s, but most of it was on the back of the controversy it generated. Then Biggie and Tupac got shot, and Sean "Puffy" Combs released his hit album No Way Out, and suddenly Glam Rap became the dominant form of "urban" music on the radio for the rest of the decade and the start of the next. The '90s as a whole were a turning point for rap music. The decade introduced a large array of sub-genres that showed that rap could be more than just block party music, and that it could also have strong messages and themes. It also saw the growth in rap's popularity outside of New York City, resulting in what is arguably the climax of the Golden Age era.
  • Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" brought the Epic Riff into rock music once and for all, and showcases a guitar style that, even after Hendrix and Clapton, would barely sound out of place today.
  • Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, especially "Like a Rolling Stone." Bob's early output in general has often been cited as a major influence in bringing true art and poetry into pop music writing. It can't be a coincidence that his rising popularity in the first half of the 60's coincided with something of a move away from the up to then ubiquitous hot cars and fast women thematics, when people started listening to songs like "Blowing in the Wind" and "Mr Tambourine Man" instead.
  • Black Sabbath's first album for heavy metal. If a heavy metal band says they're not influenced by them, either they're lying or they're not really metal.
  • The Doors proved that you could write and perform pop songs about much more existential subjects than teenage romance or pop music itself, and kids would buy them. After that, it became impossible to write off all popular music as a disposable, meaningless fad.
  • The Velvet Underground's début, The Velvet Underground & Nico, didn't have an immediate impact on rock music, but its impact in hindsight was undeniable. Brian Eno's famous quip that everyone who bought the album started a band doesn't seem very far off when one considers the huge number of genres that it inspired.
  • Aerosmith's 1986 collaboration with Run-D.M.C. on "Walk This Way". Before this, Rap fans and Rock fans generally held each other's music in contempt and there was a fair amount of antagonism between the fanbases. The release showed the two groups that they were Not So Different and did much to bridge the gap between them and kickstarted the Rap Rock genre that would become extremely popular in following decade.
  • Even before the Eric Clapton example above, Elvis Presley's sideman, Scotty Moore codified the idea of the lead guitarist as The Lancer in a rock band. Before him the soloist and the frontman were usually the same person (IE. Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins) and was just as likely to be a piano player (IE. Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis.)

    Pro Wrestling 
  • ECW brought hardcore wrestling to North America, made luchadores popular in the United States, and made professional wrestling Darker and Edgier at a time when the two biggest promotions, the WWF and WCW, were still putting out an altogether Lighter and Softer, more comic-book-ish product. Amazingly enough, WCW, part of the Time Warner media empire, and WWF, a multi-million dollar entertainment company in its own right, ended up taking their cues from a tiny promotion that ran shows out of a converted bingo hall in South Philadelphia.
  • The WWF also had one at some point between 1996 and 1998, but mileage varies on what exactly it was. Some people cite Steve Austin's victory at King of the Ring 1996 and resulting Austin 3:16 promo, which made him the only thing to rival the New World Order in popularity. Others cite Austin's match against Bret Hart, face of the WWF along with Shawn Michaels, at WrestleMania XIII, when Austin turned face and Hart heel. Others will cite the formation of D-Generation X, an edgy, raunchy stable that was somewhat nWo influenced (it had members of The Kliq in it as well, after) and feuded with the Hart Foundation, Bret Hart's group. Resulting from that feud was Michaels and Hart's match at Survivor Series 1997, Hart's last match in the WWF under his current contract. The match was to end ambiguously and Hart was to surrender his championship the next day on Raw, but Michaels, Vince McMahon and Triple H conspired to end the match without Hart's knowledge. This event created the Mr. McMahon character and a decade's worth of unmitigated hostility between Hart and those involved. The final event is Austin's match against Michaels at WrestleMania XIV, when Austin defeated Michaels and in the words of JR "The Austin Era (had) begun." This event kickstarted the Austin-McMahon feud, which would be the focal point of the company for three years, in the company's most successful or second most successful era, the Attitude Era. Similarly, at and before WrestleMania X-Seven, the Attitude Era ended. Vince purchased WCW, the company's chief rival, and at WrestleMania, one of the greatest PPV's in history, Austin faced The Rock for the WWF Championship, unbelievably, Stone Cold turned heel in his hometown and sided with McMahon to beat Rock. The central feuds of the Attitude Era, both in real life and kayfabe, had ended within a week of each other.
  • "Superstar" Billy Graham did this for heels in the mid-1970s. He was just as flashy and entertaining as any face, and proved that the heel didn't always have to be a Straw Loser. He was actually hoping for his character to be turned face during his 1977-1978 title run, and was extremely disappointed when that didn't happen, although he eventually did become a face when he returned to the WWF years later. He was the first major heel to hold a world title for more than a few weeks at a time.
  • The 2006-2007 double whammy of the Sports Illustrated steroids report — in which several wrestlers were named for purchasing performance-enhancing drugs, including fan favorites Rey Mysterio and Edge — and the horrific Chris Benoit murder-suicide of his family put the WWE under the harshest negative light it had ever encountered. Sponsors began to leave in droves as the company was painted as a misogynistic, crass, steroid-fueled carny show and the media had ten years worth of Attitude Era footage to drive home that point (they had a field day with the infamous "Vince makes Trish strip and bark like a dog" segment). In 2008, the WWE began a company-wide sanitizing of their product to shed the "Attitude" image, phasing out blood, foul language, and sexually charged characters and angles, cleaning up RAW to a TV-PG product, doubling down on their charity work with children, and implementing a strict drug testing program. They even removed "Wrestling" from its name in order to promote itself as family-friendly general entertainment and sever its association to pro wrestling and its associated stigmas ("WWE" is no longer an acronym outside of legalese). Although long-time fans decry the Lighter and Softer route to this day, the company has repaired its image in the public eye, as kid-friendly companies like Chef Boyardee renewed their sponsorships in the end, the media reports often on their charitable actions, and celebrities and athletes participate on the shows, illustrating that it is no longer a negative connotation to be associated with WWE.

    Sports 
  • This has happened multiple times in baseball.
    • In the 1920s, Babe Ruth popularized the idea of the home run, shifting much of the game's offensive focus from baserunning speed to long-ball power. Indeed, Ruth "invented" a fairly common player type in modern baseball: the fat, left-handed power hitter/outfielder.
    • Jackie Robinson's breaking down the color line was this for more than just the sports world. Not only did it create interest in successful Negro League players, but their style of play began to influence the Major Leagues such as more importance to base running. It was also an early turning point in white America's acceptance of the idea that black people weren't so different from them.
    • The airing of Major League Baseball games on television in The Fifties destroyed most of the minor leagues, who couldn't compete with the bigger games being shown on TV.
    • The move of the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers to, respectively, San Francisco and Los Angeles in 1957 will probably never be forgiven by New York sports fans, but it helped popularize baseball outside the East Coast and the Midwest and led to a surge of teams moving to sunny Southern and Western cities, securing the sport's national viability for the rest of the century. It also effectively destroyed the Pacific Coast League (which was, until then, seen as a growing rival to Major League Baseball), pushing it down into the minors and securing MLB's position as the dominant baseball league in the US.
    • Maury Wills helped repopularize the stolen base in the early 1960s.
    • Rollie Fingers was central to the idea of the dedicated relief pitcher/closer in the 1970s, paving the way for the modern game's reliance on the bullpen.
    • The 1975 World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox, one of the most exciting matchups in sports history, was the moment at which television finally understood how to broadcast baseball. Carlton Fisk's iconic home run in Game 6 provided a catalyst in getting camera operators to focus most of their attention on the players themselves. It's no coincidence that, after the '75 World Series, a new lucrative TV deal involving not just NBC, but ABC was made.
    • The early success of Hideo Nomo paved the way for Major League Baseball's interest in Japanese players.
    • The fallout of the Mitchell Report and Congress steroid investigation, as well as an implemented drug policy, has lead teams in the present day to favor rosters of players with versatility and sound fundamentals again, as aging, one-dimensional sluggers can no longer rely on medical help to extend their careers with eye-popping home run totals. In turn, this has led to what has been called the "age of the pitcher" in modern baseball, with substantially fewer hits, at-bats, and home runs and far more no-hitter games and strikeouts than in the past.
    • The rise of sabermetrics, also known as "Moneyball" after a famous book written about it (which later received a film adaptation), to mainstream prominence in the '00s led to a revolution in how baseball players were recruited. By focusing on runs scored as the most important metric for how games were won, a great deal of the conventional wisdom for what made a good baseball player was heavily challenged, while previously undervalued players were recruited and used to build winning teams on a much smaller budget than the major baseball powers — most famously the Boston Red Sox, who won the World Series in 2004 and ended an 86-year championship drought. While the proponents of sabermetrics were dismissed as geeks at the time, since then the success of the teams they built has left them Vindicated by History, and sabermetrics has become the standard for study of baseball.
  • In Australian Rules Football, the 1970 VFL Grand Final is often seen as the point at which a major shift in the game occurred. Carlton, 44 points down at half time, came back to defeat Collingwood after a rousing half-time speech by coach Ron Barassi in which he exhorted the players to handball - and ever since then, the handball has been a much more prominent feature of the game, sometimes more common in a match than kicking the ball.
  • In ice hockey:
    • In 1959, Montreal Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante put on his goalie mask for the first time in regular play. This was when the personal safety of the players started to be taken more seriously. Afterwards, the NHL saw the rise of new equipment like mandatory helmets and face visors, and cracking down on violence like head shots and fighting.
    • Bobby Orr popularized the concept of defensemen supporting offensive plays. After his retirement, he was also one of the leading voices calling for the reform of the NHL's corrupt pension system in The '90s, especially after he was defrauded and left almost bankrupt by his agent.
    • The New York Rangers' 1994 Stanley Cup win (their first in over 50 years at the time) led to major explosion in popularity for the NHL in the United States.
    • Patrick Roy is credited for popularizing the butterfly goaltending style, which eventually became the standard.
    • Wayne Gretzky pioneered the use of the behind-the-net goal setup.
  • In American Football:
    • In 1913, the team from an obscure Catholic college in northern Indiana traveled to West Point, New York to take on Army, one of college football's powers. The forward pass had been legalized seven years earlier, but was still considered a risky novelty play. Over the previous summer, Notre Dame's quarterback Gus Dorais and receiver Knute Rockne worked as lifeguards on Lake Erie and practiced throwing and receiving on the beach. Their coach Jesse Harper decided to use a pass-based offensive scheme against Army. Notre Dame humiliated Army 35-13. Their win legitimized passing as an offensive tool, which opened up the game and made it more exciting, and kickstarted Notre Dame's status as a college football icon.
    • The 1958 NFL Championship Game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts, also called "The Greatest Game Ever Played", was the first NFL playoff game to go into sudden-death overtime, and the game was nationally televised by NBC, with an estimated 45 million people watching it. At the time, baseball was still the preeminent sport in America, and while it would remain so for at least another decade, the 1958 NFL Championship Game marked the beginning of football's rise to prominence, and eventual usurpation of baseball as America's top sport. The Colts' 86-yard drive to tie the game at the end of regulation and force overtime is also cited as the first "two-minute drill." While several other games since could claim the title of "Greatest Ever", when most people reference the turning point of pro football, this game generally given credit.
    • Initially, field goal kickers kicked the ball towards the goal posts straight on, the results being that most field goals didn't have much distance and their accuracy was iffy at best (60% or so). Then in The '60s, Pete Gogolak and others introduced the angled, soccer-style kick for field goals, increasing distance and accuracy and immediately improving the viability of field goals tremendously. As of today, the soccer-style kick is used professionally almost exclusively.
    • And the place kick (straight on) replaced the drop kick, where the kicker dropped it like a punter and let it hit the ground before kicking it. The last time it was used was by Doug Flutie as an homage.
    • The New York Jets' upset victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in 1969 arguably lent the American Football League credibility against the more established National Football League. It helped that Jets' quarterback Joe Namath's "guarantee" that the Jets would win added to the pregame hype (unheard of in the previous two games). The Kansas City Chiefs' win over the Minnesota Vikings the following season proved that it wasn't a one-shot fluke deal for the AFL, leading up to the eventual merger in 1970.
    • In 1978, the NFL introduced several rule changes in an effort to encourage more scoring on offense and generally make the games more exciting to watch. Perhaps the biggest change was the rule that effected defensive backs; previously, defenders could make contact with receivers anywhere on the field past the line of scrimmage. The new rules limited contact between defenders and receivers to up to five yards past the line of scrimmage and no further, with any further contact resulting in pass interference. Often called the "Mel Blount Rule", after the Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback who was known for being an extremely physical player, it opened up the passing game and forever changed the way offense was played in the NFL. Oddly enough, it was the Steelers who would win Super Bowl XIII, the first Super Bowl played under the new rules.
    • Before the 2011 season, the NFL increased restrictions on what defensive backs could do to impede receivers. Although they were meant with safety in mind, this opened up offense in previously unseen ways. Before, you would see about a half-dozen games in a given season where a QB would reach 400 yards in a game; almost overnight, it became a weekly occurrence, starting with an ominous Week 1 where rookie Cam Newton threw for over 400 yards in his very first pro game. The passing game has now become so prolific that it has rendered the days of 25-carry-a-game RBs almost obsolete note ; in 2013, no RB was taken in the first round of the draft for the first time in the Super Bowl era. In 2014, no RB was taken in the first round yet again.
    • January 2, 1987: Penn State, ranked #2, upset #1 Miami (Florida) 14-10 in the Fiesta Bowl to win the 1986 national championship. The turning point wasn't so much the game itself, but the circumstances surrounding it. It wasn't the first time that the top 2 teams had met in a bowl game, or the first time a "New Year's Day bowl" was played on January 2nd (that was the usual custom when New Year's fell on a Sunday). But since both teams were independent at the time and didn't have any bowl game tie-ins, this allowed the Fiesta Bowl to arrange the matchup and heavily promote it as the "national championship game." NBC, who aired the game, decided to move it to January 2nd, which was a Friday, so it could air on its own and wouldn't compete with the other bowls. The game generated hype that was comparable to a Super Bowl, and wound up becoming the most-viewed college football game up to that point in time. In the immediate aftermath the Fiesta Bowl became one of the major bowl games, joining the Rose, Sugar, Orange and Cotton bowls. Later on, the idea of an arranged championship game played after New Year's became the basis of the Bowl Championship Series and the current College Football Playoff.
    • The introduction of the salary cap and free agency in the 1994 season was designed to create parity in the NFL and to level the playing field, i.e., to prevent potential dynasties for dominant teams, and to give losing teams a chance. The idea of parity was summed up by former NFL Commissioner Bert Bell, who once said that "any team can beat any other team on any given Sunday."
  • In basketball.
    • "Pistol Pete" Maravich arguably brought in the no-look circus pass in the NBA.
    • The 1979 NCAA basketball championship between Larry Bird's Indiana State team and Magic Johnson's Michigan State team breathed new life into college basketball. Five years later, the 1984 NBA Finals between Bird's Boston Celtics and Magic's Los Angeles Lakers helped spark a revival in the NBA, which had languished in popularity before the pair entered the league.
    • Julius "Dr. J" Erving paved the way for flashy basketball players with devastating dunks in the NBA. People like Clyde Drexler, Dominique Wilkins, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, and Magic Johnson all owe something to the path he paved.
  • The High Jump was revolutionized by Dick Fosbury in 1968. It's weird to watch someone do a Fosbury Flop (it involves turning around at the point of the jump and going backwards over the bar), but it manages to allow jumpers to jump as much as 25% higher than they would be able to jumping straight forwards over the bar.
  • In Mixed Martial Arts:
    • The 2005 fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephen Bonnar on the undercard of the finale of The Ultimate Fighter, the first ever live-televised MMA event. Their legendary, back-and-forth brawl over a UFC contract made instant fans almost overnight, and it's been documented that ratings spiked during the fight as fans were frantically calling other people to point them to this fight. UFC president Dana White credits this fight as perhaps the most landmark moment in MMA history, and the turning point that launched it to such great, mainstream heights.
    • Gina Carano and Ronda Rousey transformed the reputation of women's fighting. Before their rise to fame, it was often stereotyped as "foxy boxing" and a sideshow by anybody who didn't actively follow it, while after, it was seen as on par with men's fighting and just as capable of drawing big crowds and delivering intense action.
  • In association football/soccer:
    • The 1953 match between England and Hungary is widely regarded as the moment when the modern game came into being. The Hungarians, playing a then-unknown tactical style, outclassed the English, who until that point had never been defeated at home by a team from outside the British Isles. In the aftermath, the old English formations and tactics vanished, and the continental tactics, training, and equipment became the standard around the world.
    • In The '80s, British football's long battle with hooliganism culminated in the Hillsborough disaster on 15 April 1989, where 96 fans died and hundreds more were injured thanks to a catastrophic failure in crowd control. After Hillsborough, Britain's aging, decrepit stadiums were replaced or saw extensive renovations; stadiums were made all-seating, with standing-room terraces, fences, and crash barriers taken out, and alcohol was banned outside the concession stands. Most importantly, however, the shocked reaction to Hillsborough showed that football wasn't just a sport of the working class, but was enjoyed by all parts of British society. Between that and the safety changes made in the aftermath (many of which also did the job of stopping hooligans), football soon became a sport that it was possible to bring a family to, without fear of getting stomped on in a riot.
    • Related to the above, the Liverpool vs. Arsenal match on 26 May 1989 to determine the winner of the First Division, held six weeks after Hillsborough, has been credited (along with the creation of Sky TV) with saving the institution of British football. The Liverpool fans, who by rights should've been livid with having the title snatched from under their noses in the last ten seconds of the league (the celebratory champagne was even on its way to the Liverpool dressing room), instead chose to applaud Arsenal's well-deserved victory. It was clear, from that day forward, that the age of hooliganism was over, and that rioting, property damage, and grievous injury would no longer be the expected outcome of a match.
    • The popularity of soccer in the United States skyrocketed after the country hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup. After the event, a professional league (Major League Soccer) was established in the US, and television ratings for matches have soared, with an estimated 24 million people watching the 2014 World Cup match between the US and Portugal.
    • The 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup finals. After the United States won the final match against China to take home the championship, US player Brandi Chastain, who had scored the winning goal, took off her jersey and started cheering and flexing wearing only a sports bra. This display of bravado, almost unheard of for female athletes at the time, wound up on the cover of several major magazines and newspapers, with Sports Illustrated's head-on cover shot becoming one of the most iconic sporting images of the decade, earning both soccer and women's sports in general a massive boost of credibility in the US.
  • For cricket, Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, launched in 1977, introduced colored team uniforms, day/night matches, and player payments high enough that being a professional cricketer was a viable career option.
  • NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt's fatal wreck at the 2001 Daytona 500 shook NASCAR to the core, producing a major focus on safety in the years afterward. HANS (head-and-neck support) devices and six-point seat belts quickly became the standard, even before they were officially mandated, after the investigation found that Earnhardt's death was caused by the lack of a HANS device combined with an improperly-installed seat belt, while airplane-style black boxes were installed in every vehicle to record crash data in the event of a fatal accident. Less positively, Earnhardt's death also led to the introduction in 2007 of the much-maligned "Car of Tomorrow", an official NASCAR racing vehicle that was designed with safety in mind but turned out to have its own problems in that department (especially its large rear wing making cars more likely to flip in a crash), on top of the hate it received from fans and drivers alike who criticized its handling and performance. When it was replaced with the "Gen 6" car in 2013, there was much rejoicing.

    Theater 
  • Aeschylus did this for drama — 2500 years ago — when he made drama by introducing two characters and a chorus and used mythical themes to address contemporary concerns. Euripides reinvented theater again, by focusing more on the characters and their motivations, adding larger casts, and making the dramatic aspects much less subdued.
  • The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd was the Trope Maker and Trope Codifier for Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama, paving the way for Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. Kyd introduced the classic revenge plot, Feuding Families in fancy exotic settings and most importantly the use of iambic pentameter and blank verse to tell a tragedy. The English rather than feeling second fiddle to the tragedies of Spain and Italy, could have a homegrown version in colloquial language, and this marked the start of the Golden Age of English Literature.
  • Shakespeare's plays probably didn't change theatre so much as the world but his plays, quite unintentionally, demonstrated that the so-called "classical unities" (i.e. what some authors thought Aristotle was prescribing in Poetics) of time-place-action did not really get in the way of crowd participation and interest. Shakespeare's plays had action in many different places, rooms and settings, took place over many days and had many different actions. This wasn't as radical in England as it was in "the Continent" where French and German artists saw Shakespeare as an avant-garde writer.
  • Henrik Ibsen changed theatre by introducing psychological realism and everyday settings for his dramas. Ibsen was also one of the first dramatists that tried to represent social issues and problems (pertaining to marriage, divorce, women's liberation and nonconformism) as a deliberate object of critique.
    • He paved the way for Bertolt Brecht (who was far more radical and less realist than Ibsen, but nonetheless was a social critic and used theatre to address it) and Arthur Miller (whose Death of a Salesman was highly inspired by Ibsen).
    • Ibsen paved the way for Anton Chekhov (plays where "nothing" happened) and Samuel Beckett (where even less than nothing happened). After Ibsen, the living room and people's houses became the center of battle for stage. The problems of everyday people became the stuff of high drama, no less grand and capable of arousing pity and fear as the Kings, Demigods, heroes and schemers of Greek and Elizabethan Theater.
  • A Streetcar Named Desire's original production in 1950 changed American (and by extension global) culture forever. Not only for the play and its great writing (by Tennessee Williams) but also for its starring role by Marlon Brando and direction by Elia Kazan. It's approach to psychological realism, focus on sexual neurosis and sympathy for mental turmoil, shifted theatre away from social problem issues to personal, identity issues dealing with human psychology and family hangups. Brando's performance introduced greater standards of realism and led to Method Acting becoming the dominant school, for better and worse.
  • In the mid-to-late 19th century, the London stage was full of all kinds of vulgar, lewd, and risqué shows (so were stages in all the European capitals); the works of Gilbert and Sullivan showed there was room for family-friendly fare in the theatre. This in itself would be a turning point, but after Gilbert and Sullivan, those making "light opera" or "operetta" began following the G&S model...and a little while later people realized that G&S had invented The Musical.
  • Oklahoma! changed the musical theatre genre from fluffy entertainment into legitimate theatre.
    • Well, Oklahoma gave musical theatre the format of the use of song, dialogue, and dance, but it was Show Boat that first made musical theatre into legitimate theatre.
      • Oklahoma was not the first musical to use song, dialogue, and dance - those three things were in every musical. What Oklahoma did was integrate those three elements in a mature and realistic fashion (well, as realistic as breaking into song ever can be, but then Opera's been doing that for four hundred years and hardly anybody complains about that.)
  • Cirque du Soleil accomplished this trope twice over:
    • Starting with its 1987 tour Le Cirque Réinventé, Cirque did a lot to raise circus out of the kiddie entertainment ghetto it had fallen into in North America. Now, not only are there many successful "contemporary circus" troupes/companies that play to a wide variety of audiences, but blatant imitators of Cirque's style (which was derived from European and Asian circuses) have sprung up.
    • Their first Las Vegas resident show, Mystère, helped change that city's entertainment scene. Siegfried and Roy's magic show at the Mirage had opened four years prior and was also a big game changer after years of increasingly stale showgirl revues, but Mystere was actually taken seriously as theater, to the point that Time magazine's theater critic named it one of the best shows of 1994. While it would lead to many acclaimed sister productions in the city, other Vegas casino-hotels imported such productions as Blue Man Group, Jersey Boys, and The Lion King, often with huge success, resulting in a more diverse range of entertainment for tourists.

    Video Games 
  • Super Mario Bros.
    • In the field of video games, Super Mario Bros. 1 defined the 2D platformer, as well as ensuring the resurrection of the video game home console in the United States after The Great Video Game Crash of 1983. Previous entries, such as Pitfall and Nintendo's own Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong, took place on a single screen or series of screens. Super Mario Bros' innovative scrolling screen was so influential that even the name of the genre was changed, being popularly known as "sidescrollers" until the leap to 3D.
    • And then another Mario game, Super Mario 64, set the standard for 3D platformers for years to come, and was the first 3D platformer to successfully use a joystick.
    • Yet another Mario game, New Super Mario Bros., proved with its high and unexpected popularity that looking to gaming's past is not a sign of creative stagnation. Hence, the massive influx of retro-flavored games afterward, including Nintendo's own Donkey Kong Country Returns.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog helped define part of the culture of The '90s by creating the Mascot with Attitude, and showing how fast gameplay could work as a platformer. In the process, it created the Console Wars between Sega and Nintendo.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time made platforming "realistic" with its use of parkour, and set the stage for, among other things, Tomb Raider: Legend, Assassin's Creed (which was, not coincidentally, made by the same studio as Sands of Time) and Uncharted. Back in 1989, Prince of Persia did the exact same thing, with its realistic platforming and fighting.
  • Final Fantasy IV (or Final Fantasy II as it was known to North American audiences) wasn't the first console RPG to have plots more complex than just presenting a series of obstacles and quests your party has to get around or even to have some character development, but for the newly born 16-bit generation of role-playing games it certainly raised the bar for what players expected out of RPGs, making more sophisticated storytelling as much a part of the console RPG experience as gameplay or fantastic settings.
  • Final Fantasy VII rewrote the rulebook for the 3D RPG genre, popularizing highly cinematic presentation enabled by CG rendering and the newly increased storage space of CDs, and dynamic camera angles and movement in battles presented in 3D.
  • Street Fighter II altered the face of the fighting game, shifting focus from side scrolling brawlers onto one on one fights, varied character rosters, and competitive two player modes. It also had a good bad bug that let you "Combo" moves together.
  • Virtua Fighter likewise proved that fighting games could easily make a transition into 3D, in addition to showcasing more natural forms of combat as opposed to the fireballs and wuxia of its 2D brethren.
  • In the '90s and early '00s, several games each popularized pieces that would coalesce into the modern First-Person Shooter genre that we know today.
    • There had been games like Wolfenstein 3D before it, but none had the immediate impact of Doom, the Trope Maker that popularized the genre in the mainstream consciousness. Notably, it the first FPS to offer multiplayer (via LAN or dial-up modem).
    • Quake was not the first FPS game with built-in Internet multiplayernote , but it played a large role in turning it into one of the staples of the genre. Virtually every FPS released since Quake includes a multiplayer mode, with many FPS fans buying games solely for the multiplayer and never touching the single-player.
    • Rarely does a licensed game redefine conventions. Yet this is exactly what GoldenEye did in 1997. Not only did it set the standards for every shooter of its generation, but more importantly, it showed that FPS games on consoles didn't have to be watered down compared to their PC counterparts, and could be legitimately great games in their own right. It would also bring multiplayer FPSes to a wide audience, allowing up to 4 players to shoot each other up on one screen and one console; before then, the only way to enjoy multiplayer FPSes with that many players was to do it on a PC with each player having their own machine.
    • Half-Life introduced scripted setpieces, the illusion of intelligent AI, and story-driven progression rather than a simple sequence of key and switch hunts.
    • Medal of Honor and Counter-Strike popularized the military shooter, with a much greater focus on realism and authenticity as opposed to over-the-top action and sci-fi storylines.
    • Halo brought in Regenerating Health and the Limited Loadout, in addition to mixing up the gameplay with environments which alternated between wide open spaces and tight corridors and mixed on-foot and vehicular action. These elements existed prior to this, but Halo blended them into a kind of alchemic formula that stuck.
    • And a year later, Metroid Prime successfully fused the FPS with the adventure genre, creating a first-person shooter where the focus was not on combat, but rather exploration and puzzle-solving. Those had long been staples of video games, but Metroid Prime really was the codifier for their inclusion in the FPS genre. To this day, almost every modern FPS can trace its roots back to either Halo, Metroid Prime, or Medal of Honor.
  • Castle Wolfenstein was one of the first games in the stealth game genre, but it wasn't until the success of Metal Gear Solid, Thief, and Tenchu: Stealth Assassins that the genre began to attract attention. Other stealth game series, like Splinter Cell and Hitman, have continued this with quirks of their own.
  • PC gaming was generally seen as inferior to console gaming until the advent of Doom, which was made by a shareware company, causing gaming companies everywhere to rethink their business model.
    • Shareware in general (where you gave away part of your program for free, and the user would pay you money for the full thing if they liked it) was seen as a really stupid idea that could never possibly make money. Apogee Software and Epic MegaGames came along and proved that the model could be profitable, at least with games. Apogee made a lot of money with the game series Kingdoms of Kroz, and Epic with ZZT. This is way BEFORE the days of the Internet, which made distributing shareware easy. Apogee later changed their name to 3D Realms and created Duke Nukem 3D, and Epic went on to create the Unreal and Gears of War series.
      • Game-wise, Duke Nukem (Apogee), Jill of the Jungle (Epic) and Commander Keen (Id) popularised shareware. One from each major company.
  • Gears of War seems to have lead third person shooters as a genre to strategic cover-based gameplay.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • Grand Theft Auto III completely revolutionized both the Wide Open Sandbox and the content that it was considered acceptable for video games to show. It wasn't the first 3D open-world game (titles like Driver, Ocarina of Time, and DMA Design's own Body Harvest predate it), nor was it the first graphically violent game (it wasn't even the first to start a moral panic over video game violence). However, its success helped it stand head and shoulders above its progenitors, providing players with a massive world that was packed to the rafters with things to do, including any sort of vice and debauchery they could imagine. To this day, the template for most open-world games is essentially a refinement of what GTA III accomplished. Unfortunately, it also helped sell the idea of video games as Murder Simulators.
    • Its sequel Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, meanwhile, revolutionized video game soundtracks. Before, music in video games was usually either specifically composed for the game, or made up of a handful of more-or-less obscure/underground musicians. The Houser brothers, however, used their connections in the music industry to secure the rights to a soundtrack composed of some of the biggest pop and rock icons of The '80s, contributing to the game's Miami Vice/Scarface atmosphere like nothing else. Vice City's soundtrack is still held up as one of the greatest ever seen in a video game, and it's been the norm for games to use licensed tracks from big-name artists ever since.
  • Dragon Quest took RPGs down a completely different path. Its emphasis on story and simplistic combat was a major culture shock for American gamers when they got their hands on it (Western RPGs at the time consisting mainly of shallow stories and cripplingly complex gameplay), but it definitely had a following, and it spawned the subgenre we now refer to as the JRPG.
  • The Xbox Live service (and its child service, the Xbox Live Arcade) provided two previously rare functions on consoles — it allowed for the onset of downloadable content expansions to console games, and it allowed for the download of small games directly to a console's hard drive, starting with titles such as Namco arcade games. With the Xbox 360, this eventually allowed for the download of entire Xbox games, but this and several other download networks ushered in a new era of independently produced games, which themselves are sometimes deconstructions and reconstructions of classical video-game concepts. The industry has essentially come full-circle.
  • For the Interactive Fiction genre, Photopia. Before Photopia, games often used Mind Screw surrealism or High Fantasy loosely bound by a huge Story Arc. After Photopia, plot and puzzles became more important to the feel of a game, and slice-of-life realism overtook surrealism as the most popular environment in Interactive Fiction.
    • The release of Inform (and much more so Inform 7) revolutionized the medium, if not the genre. It made it possible for non-programmers to write Interactive Fiction software.
  • Steam did a lot to revive PC gaming in the Turn of the Millennium. Before it became popular, PC developers were fleeing to consoles en masse due to both the growing threat of piracy and, later, the backlash that intrusive DRM systems caused within the gaming community. Steam offered not only a relatively consumer-friendly form of DRM, but a whole slew of other features (unified friends lists, an Achievement System, etc.) that had previously been exclusive to consoles. As a result, developers felt more confident releasing their games on PC through Steam, with the knowledge that they were not only tougher to pirate, but that, even when they were inevitably pirated, the pirate copies would lose their Steam functionality in the process.
    • Steam also helped to create the market for indie gaming by offering a way for small developers to get their games to consumers without the costs and hurdles associated with retail stores. Xbox Live Arcade and Play Station Network quickly followed its lead, spreading the indie love to console gamers.
  • Baldur's Gate is widely regarded as having saved the Western RPG genre from slow extinction, setting up a Real Time with Pause engine to replace the then-standard turn-based mechanics and putting a strong emphasis on story and Character Development. Since then, strong writing has been expected of WRPGs, and purely turn-based games are almost never released anymore. Those in the know also credit Baldur's Gate for saving its parent franchise, Dungeons & Dragons, from the tar pit that it had been driven into in the 1990s.
  • The Legend of Zelda I was the first console game to use a battery-backup save feature and codified or outright named a huge number of tropes used in action adventure games ever since. The complexity of games after this point would never be the same again, as it was now possible to make a game that couldn't be beaten in a few hours.
  • Metal Gear Solid went a long way towards moving action games away from having nothing more than an Excuse Plot, instead making the story an integral part of the gaming experience. The story, voice acting (particularly in a time when almost every game's voice acting ranged from mediocre to awful), and Character Development were particularly pointed out for praise and those three things noticeably made the gameplay and action sequences more intense than any other action games on the market at the time, particularly the Boss Battles. It also examined some surprisingly adult subjects—like PTSD and nuclear proliferation—which would have been unheard-of a decade before it came out.
  • Survival Horror games had a number of major game-changers.
    • Resident Evil was the big one. There had been antecedents like Maniac Mansion, Alone in the Dark, and Phantasmagoria, but Resident Evil made the genre into a showcase of what the new PlayStation console could do. It embedded a heavy Adventure Game influence in the genre with its key hunts, puzzles, and inventory management, established zombies as the mook of choice for many games, and spawned a wave of imitators and a long-running franchise.
    • One of the most successful of said imitators, Silent Hill, introduced a more psychological take on the genre inspired by Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft, with evil cults, demonic forces, and the town being an Eldritch Location. It, too, spawned a successful series, and influenced a lot of the more explicitly supernatural takes on the genre.
    • Resident Evil 4 is particularly notable here, as it managed to be a turning point for two genres, with the reasons for both being intimately related. Whereas survival horror before then (including prior games in the series) was known for starving the player of resources in order to increase tension, RE4 gave the player an NRA convention's worth of guns and ammo and proceeded to throw everything and the kitchen sink at them, producing a high-octane, adrenaline-filled thrill ride. RE4's brand of survival horror was no longer about the fear that you don't even have the resources to overcome this one zombie, but rather, from fear that the angry mob of parasite-brainwashed villagers or Big Creepy-Crawlies in front of you would overwhelm you no matter how many bullets you could fire at them.

      At the same time, by jettisoning past RE games' cinematic camera angles and clumsy controls in favor of an over-the-shoulder POV and a more fine-tuned aiming system, RE4 inadvertently wrote the book for the modern Third-Person Shooter formula as people realized that there was a really good shooter in there. Starting with Gears of War, which refined the system for a more conventional action shooter experience, nearly every third-person shooter since the mid-'00s bears some influence from RE4 — ironic, given that RE4 wasn't even part of that genre to begin with. In a case of Tropes Are Not Good, none of this was lost on longtime RE fans, and as both later games in the series and other survival horror franchises went in a more action-heavy direction, a not-uncommon opinion emerged in the late '00s and early '10s that RE4, as good as it was on its own merits, wasn't just a Franchise Original Sin for the RE series, but a Genre Original Sin for survival horror as a whole.
    • In the mid-late '00s, survival horror was thought to be a dying genre, unable to compete in the increasingly big-budget gaming marketplace. And then came Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which revolutionized indie horror and almost singlehandedly put the genre back on the map. Many of Amnesia's design elements (an unarmed and highly vulnerable protagonist, heavy use of Interface Screw) form part of the DNA of its many imitators.
  • The huge critical and commercial success of Gran Turismo in 1998 proved that simulation racing could be made just as accessible, fun, and mass-market as the likes of Mario Kart and Daytona USA without sacrificing depth and realism, opening the doors for the sub-genre to co-exist and succeed next to its arcade racing brethren.
  • While they're far from the first Bullet Hell games, the Windows-era Touhou games with their intricate bullet patterns and use of humanoid characters rather than mechs and fighter ships effectively redefined the Shoot 'em Up genre, especially within the doujin shooter scene; since 2002, it's hard to find a doujin shmup or even a commercial one that doesn't fill the screen with intricate bullet patterns. Tropes Are Not Good; some feel that the saturation of bullet hell games makes it difficult to find more "classical" shooters ever since Touhou popularized bullet hell or shooters that don't use what detractors refer to as a "loli" or "jailbait" aesthetic.
  • beatmania is not the first Rhythm Game, but it introduced the idea of scrolling notes, something that has become the standard for the genre, and has been reflected through other Konami rhythm games like Dance Dance Revolution, non-Konami Asian-developed rhythm games such as Pump It Up and Love Live! School Idol Festival, and finally, Western rhythm games such as Frequency, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band.
  • Dance Dance Revolution set the standard for dancing rhythm games; rather than have the player push buttons to play, the player has to move their body, resulting in something more dance-like than previous dance games as well as a classic form of Exergaming.
  • Before Need for Speed: Underground, arcade-style racers involving licensed vehicles, especially previous NFS games, were just games that gave the opportunity for players to enjoy the coolest cars in some fantastic environments in illegal street races, although it was nothing too crazy. You're just driving a car, winning races, and running from police. EA Black Box's Underground, with some thanks to the popularity of The Fast and the Furious, brought in organized illegal street racing to the gaming world with modified tuners decorated in vinyls, nitrous oxide tanks providing a means to accelerate quicker, storylines to keep things interesting, changed powersliding to drifting with special events revolving around them, and added in some drag racing events, all to enjoy from the safe, legal comfort of players' homes.

    This made both NFS and arcade racing more than just driving a nice car either from point A to point B or around closed looped tracks to the eyes of many fans, especially new ones. Underground 2 and 2005's Most Wanted helped reenforce this mindset with Wide Open Sandboxes and the latter's reintroduction of police chases (the two Underground games took place exclusively at night, which gave a somewhat unrealistic excuse for why the illegal street racing was not picked up on by police).

    However, Tropes Are Not Good, because not every arcade racing game fan cares about (what they may call) Rice Burners, and after Black Box stopped being Need for Speed's main developer thanks to their botching of ProStreet and Undercover, the franchise went into a dark period where fans would argue whether or not the series should move away from the Underground style or return to it. This affected the fan reception of the otherwise critically-acclaimed Shift sub-series and the Criterion entries of Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted.
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater in 1999 revolutionized not only extreme sports games, but arguably extreme sports themselves. While a few attempts had been made in the past at bringing such sports to gaming (such as Cool Boarders, 2Xtreme, and 1080° Snowboarding), Tony Hawk nailed the sweet spot between fun and accessibility on one hand and realism and authenticity on the other. Games like SSX, Aggressive Inline, and Skate all built on the foundation that Tony Hawk had laid down. Moreover, it also gave a huge boost to the popularity of skateboarding in real life; between 1999 and 2002, the number of skateboarders worldwide skyrocketed by sixty percent.
  • The Xbox made Microsoft the first American company since Atari to become a major player in the Console Wars, officially breaking the monopoly held by the Japanese since The Great Video Game Crash of 1983. This was a major sign that the Great Crash's lingering aftereffects were gone for good.
  • The Sixth Generation of Console Video Games marked a major stage in the Console Wars by solidifying the trend of product loyalty among gamers, with companies focusing on advancing and refining already-popular consoles rather than inventing new ones from whole cloth. The original PlayStation was such a success that Sony wisely chose not to replace it with a new console, instead opting to give it a "sequel" with the equally successful PlayStation 2 (even keeping the old PlayStation's controller scheme completely unchanged). Microsoft later picked up on the trend by opting to create the Xbox 360 rather than replace the beloved Xbox. All of the consoles in the current generation are more advanced versions of previously successful consoles, with the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Wii U replacing the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii, respectively. Gone are the days of "Dreamcast" succeeding "Saturn" and "Genesis", and "GameCube" succeeding "64".
  • Starcraft was a turning point for the real-time strategy genre. The introduction of three completely asymmetrical races was a vast improvement over its sister series, Warcraft, and other games of the genre, most of which featured identical factions with only minor mechanical differences and different visuals . It was also the first RTS to be played professionaly, particularly in South Korea.
    • The real-time strategy genre suffered another turn with the release of Dawn of War and Company of Heroes, both games by Relic Entertainment. Those games shifted the focus of the genre from base-build and resource gathering to a more dynamic style, with greater focus on micromanagement. Nowadays, most RTS games don't feature the old-school "collect resources, build your army, smash your enemies" style of gameplay, and those who do, have these mechanics downplayed.
  • Initial D Arcade Stage redefined arcade racing games, introducing a number of competitive elements such as an emphasis on one-on-one "battles" rather than "grids" of racers, the option to challenge players who are in mid-game to a race, a card system for saving player data, and tuning options to upgrade and fine-tune one's vehicle. These features helped create a major Fighting Game-style tournament scene, something that had never been seen with previous racing games in arcades.

    Visual Novels 
  • You have Tokimeki Memorial to thank for Dating Sim girls who actually have personalities beyond "living love doll".
  • ...and Kanon to thank for giving the male protagonist a personality, as well as (and the two are connected) making Porn with Plot eroge just as marketable as Porn Without Plot games (though the developers had previously done ONE -kagayaku kisetsu e-, Moon., and Dousei before forming their own studio, none of these games had the impact that Kanon had).
  • ...and Katawa Shoujo for making visual novels a viable genre in the Western world, even though it was a Western-developed game. Combined with Steam allowing smaller publishers mentioned earlier, official localizations of visual novels are becoming more common.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue wasn't the first web series by a long shot, but it was the first successful one, showing that internet video could support popular scripted series. It also wrote the book for all future machinima, raising the bar and setting a new standard for the genre while elevating it beyond the realm of cheaply-made fan films, demonstrating that it could appeal to far more than just fans of the games.

    Web Original 
  • And the other half of the mid-late '00s web video revolution, lonelygirl15, did for live-action shows what Red vs. Blue did for machinima and animation. It demonstrated that independent producers on YouTube could make series with real production values and engaging long-term storylines, setting the stage for everything from The Guild and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog all the way up to the emergence of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon as serious players in television. Furthermore, lonelygirl15 was the Trope Maker for the Vlog Series, a format later employed by other popular web shows as diverse as Marble Hornets and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
  • Welcome to Night Vale changed the podcast game in one episode with "A Story About You." It highlighted the flexibility of the narrative and took the medium of the podcast to its full advantage. Since it did not have to show anything, it could tell one story and immerse the listener in a way that had never been done before. With attention on this one episode, Night Vale gave new life to the podcast outside of small critical circles and gave it credibility as a legitimate art form.

    Western Animation 
  • In Warner Bros. cartoons, Tex Avery revolutionized both the Warner cartoons and the animation industry itself. At a time when Warner and almost all other studios were bent on imitating Disney, and in which Warner cartoons in particular were suffering from deathly mediocrity, Avery came along in 1935 with his zany, faster-paced, smartassed, fourth-wall-breaking comedy, and cartoons haven't been the same since. If you watch the Warner cartoon library in sequence and look at what the studio was doing by 1937 or '38, it's amazing to think that this same studio had been producing terminally boring cartoons just two or three years earlier. When Warner cartoons finally became funny, they had Tex to thank for it.
  • The Dover Boys (1942) is a double turning point for American animation. It marks the point were Warner's animators stopped aping Disney and started experimenting with much more stylized action. It also marks the point when Chuck Jones went from the junior director who did the Sniffles the Mouse cartoons to a major innovator.
  • The short lived Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures (1987-1988) completely overhauled the expectations of what a television cartoon could do and began the practice of cartoonist-controlled animation and en-masse pop culture references.
  • The Simpsons (1989-) struck a huge blow against the Animation Age Ghetto, proving that animated shows based around adult humor can be successful and popularizing the animated sitcom, followed by South Park, Family Guy, Futurama, and too many others to count.
  • Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995, 1997-1999) allowed comic book superhero animated series to move past the Animation Age Ghetto of the Super Friends, with heroes and villains that have complex motivations and (often) tragic back stories, and spawned a very well-remembered franchise. It also proved that an animated show could be darker and deeper and have epic story lines while still appealing to children, and without alienating adults, which remains a major aspect in action/adventure shows to this day. Finally, it was the first TV cartoon to feature realistic handguns instead of Star Wars-inspired laser blasters.

    Real Life 
  • When Gaius Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his army rather than surrender to his rivals he made all but inevitable the fall of the Roman Republic and the birth of The Roman Empire. The very shape of Western Europe (and thus by extension some of the shape of the rest of the world) were set from one course to another by one man's personal ambition.
  • The Black Death decimated Europe's population in the mid-14th century with repercussions felt for decades. Some of these still felt today, according to various scholars, may have included:
    • The foundations of the Protestant Reformation and the weakening of Church authority in general
    • A rise in anti-Semitism and other prejudices
    • The end of feudal economy and the rise of the middle class: Because laborers and craftsmen were fewer and could therefore demand higher wages, allowing them to accumulate wealth.
    • The rise of paper and printing, as lawyers forced to settle a large number of estates began to wish that more of everything was written down, which increased demand for people who could write, which led to people looking for faster ways to produce documents. Eventually, they hit upon the printing press.
    • The Agricultural Revolution: In order to increase the efficiency of food production, which the plague had squeezed. Also, great lords realized that running larger farms with hired hands was more efficient than serfdom.
    • The Industrial Revolution—Indirectly, as a result of several of the above factors; the accumulation of wealth in the hands of craftsmen (which allowed them to start profit-making businesses that eventually turned into industries), the Protestant Reformation (which encouraged a burst of new thought in all directions, and also led to the establishment of the community of English Dissenters, who it just happened were mostly craftsmen, and whose response to Anglican discrimination—which had the effect of pigeonholing them as craftsmen and merchants—was to invent the modern world), and the Agricultural Revolution (which freed up labor to work in factories when industrialization happened, and also created fabulous wealth for farm-owning nobles, many of whom bankrolled industrial ventures basically because they had nothing better to do with their money).
    • People of European ancestry having greater resistance to HIV, which some scientists have linked to antibodies originally developed by people who survived the plague.
      • The plague also returned periodically for centuries afterward, leading to boom/bust population cycles which didn't really end until the colonial age.
  • King John (the real-life king behind the Robin Hood tales) manged to screw things up quite badly in England; botched wars, high taxes, and getting the nation excommunicated for a few years. His frustrated and angered barons united and forced John to sign the Magna Carta (Great Charter). Now the monarchs had to at least be accountable to the nobles. The Magna Carta also established concepts like due process of law being required before stripping a non-serf of land and property, limitations on the king's powers, and a provision where a council of 25 nobiles could overrule the king's decree. It became the first restraints of absolute monarchy in England, and paved the way for the eventual triumph of parliament over monarchy.
    Winston Churchill: We owe far more to the vices of John than to the labours of virtuous sovereigns.
  • The Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 is widely considered by historians to mark the official end of The Middle Ages and the final nail in the coffin of The Roman Empire (the Byzantines always considered themselves to be Romans, referring to their territory as Romania), which had existed for nearly 1500 years if one combines the ruling years of Ancient Rome and the Byzantine Empire together.
    • The massive outflow of Greek scholars from Constantinople greatly influenced and accelerated the birth of The Renaissance in Europe.
    • The sudden removal of the Byzantine Empire as a buffer-zone between Christian Europe and the Muslim Middle East, as well as the removal of the main overland trade-link between Europe and Asia, led to rapid advancements in warfare and seafaring technology within Europe for the first time in centuries.
    • The fact that the Ottomans were now blocking the Silk Road led European navigators to pursue alternative routes to the riches of the Far East, which brings us onto...
  • Perhaps most famous of all, Christopher Columbus' discovery of the West Indies in 1492 was The Beginning Of The End for every major civilization in North and South America, along with much of the native populations. At the same time, northern Europe, which had been a cultural backwater for centuries, entered a new era of vast riches and world domination. It triggered the Columbian Exchange, the exchange of crops, goods and people across continents, leading to items such as the potato, cocoa, chocolate and coffee being spread as far as China.
  • Though the Black Death may have gotten the ball rolling economically (see above), the Wars of the Roses officially signaled the end of the feudal system in Britain, while also definitively ending three centuries of dominance by The House of Plantagenet. They showed just how much chaos could result from a weak monarch leaving too much power in the hands of landholding nobles guided by petty grudges and ambitions, with a personal quarrel between the Duke of Somerset and the Duke of York gradually spiraling into the most devastating civil war that Britain had ever seen. In an age when the Plantagenet bloodline had become so widespread and diluted that multiple second and third cousins of the King could seize the throne by virtue of being direct descendants of Edward III, it was only a matter of time before the young Henry VI became a pawn of his scheming Lancastrian advisors and his ambitious Yorkist cousins. When the Wars were finally settled by the rise of The House of Tudor, Henry VII and his successors made damn sure that the same thing would never happen again. Under the Tudors, the monarchy's power grew to unprecedented levels, with a well-developed central bureaucracy presiding over far more aspects of public life than ever before.
  • The Peace of Westphalia (1648), which ended the Thirty Years' War, originated the modern conception of state sovereignty (including territorial integrity and modern diplomatic relations), not just for the states involved, but all future states as well. It also removed The Pope and the Roman Catholic Church from European politics for good, finishing what the Black Death had started two centuries prior.
  • The Protestant Reformation definitively broke the long-unchallenged binary between the Roman Catholic Church in the West and the Eastern Orthodox Church in the East, marking a major milestone in the Western World moving past the old vestiges of the The Roman Empire that endured through Rome and Constantinople's surviving religious institutions. It showed that there were far more ways of interpreting Christianity than anyone could have imagined before, and it challenged the idea that any earthly religious authority—like the Pope or the Ecumenical Patriarch—could have a monopoly on interpreting the word of God for the masses. Once Martin Luther opened the floodgates by founding the Lutheran Church, a host of others denominations followed in short order, including the Calvinists under John Calvin, the Swiss Protestants under Ulrich Zwingli, the Anabaptists under Thomas Müntzer, and the Anglicans under King Henry VIII—all of whom (directly or indirectly) fueled the geneses of the Presbyterians in Scotland, the Puritans in England, and the Baptists and Episcopalians in America. Likewise, the movement spread literacy through the use of the printing press and as per Max Weber, it paved the way for the development of capitalism. The world was never the same again.
  • The American Revolution (c. 1774-1783) decisively changed international politics forever. It was the first modern democracy, and thus the trope maker for much of what we now think of as Western democracy. It directly or indirectly inspired revolutions for nearly a century and a half (from 1776 to 1918) - in particular the anti-monarchist nature of most of these revolts. It arguably represents the point at which guerilla warfare and firearms first met. And finally, it was the first time that an imperial European power was defeated by a non-European one. It was also the first example of a nation dominated by people of obvious European extraction, speaking a language from Europe, nevertheless declaring themselves a separate, non-European nation, paving the way for revolutions in Haiti, Ireland and independence movements across the world.
  • The French Revolution put an end to one of the oldest monarchies in Europe and left France as a veritable laboratory of political experimentation for the next century (the only monarch afterwards who tried to pretend that things hadn't changed that much did not last long), eventually making it into a solidly Republican country. The Revolution's army reforms also changed the notion of warfare as per Carl von Clausewitz and marked the first modern "total war". The Revolution also proved, albeit briefly and imperfectly, that a democracy can govern over a large area of land, that an army of Conscription and meritocratic ranks can not only defend itself against professional aristocratic armies but that they can win wars and take territories as well. Before the Revolution, the main argument against republican forms of government and democracy was that it only applied to small city states and small populations.Even Jean-Jacques Rousseau (the guiding spirit behind the Revolution) agreed with this but the Revolution, regardless of later contradictions and reversals, put a permanent dent in that belief.
  • The US Constitution's Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, both of which were first drafted in 1789, are the Trope Codifiers for the modern concepts of liberal democracy and human rights. While some of those rights had appeared in the Magna Carta in the fourteenth century (though many of them had previously suddenly lapsed halfway across the Atlantic for British colonial subjects), the 1789 documents took what were historically viewed as peculiar customs of the English (and Welsh and Scots and Irish, but nobody on the Continent paid any attention to those) and turned them into universal rules. The American Bill of Rights and French Declaration of Rights declared the rights they defended to be inherent, "natural" human rights, with which the state could not legitimately interfere, rather than being the merely traditional "Rights of Englishmen" guaranteed by Magna Carta.
  • Inverted with the Revolutions Of 1848, "the Spring of Nations" described by historian G. M. Trevelyan as the the turning point where "history failed to turn". He and later historians note that the general failure of the events and the triumph of the repressive governments to put it down pointed out the greater strength of autocratic nations to police the population. But at the same time, the revolution did force many of these nations to move on a path of reform.
    • In Germany, this event led to what some historians call Sonderweg (though it is disputed and contentious). In this view, Germany launched on a "Special Path" towards modernization where feudal structures and values were synthesized with modern ideals, leading to the rise of Otto von Bismarck who changed and organized Germany "from above" to prevent revolution "from below". This in turn paved the way for greater authoritarianism in German society, finally reaching its climax in the rise and fall of the third reich.
  • The Hurricane of 1900 that struck Galveston, Texas sent it into a long decline while turning Houston into a booming port town. NASA and oil would finish the job. The construction of the Houston Ship Channel played a significant role in the shift as well.
  • The Great San Francisco Earthquake (1906) for California. Before the quake, San Francisco was the largest city on the West Coast, and Los Angeles' population was less than a million, nowhere near the second largest city in the United States. The quake and the Hollywood boom were instrumental in shifting the population southward.
    • A second turning point in The '80s came when San Francisco started attracting computer technology firms, partly due to Apple, and partly due to Berkeley and Stanford's top-notch computing laboratories. Then the Internet went mainstream, and the San Francisco Bay Area is now considered a mecca for computing startups and cutting edge tech. On the downside, the split between the sheltered, highly paid techies and the lower-paid non-technology workers has led to skyrocketing rents, shuttered landmarks, and a nasty cultural divide.
  • World War I. Although the American Civil War was arguably the first "industrial" war, World War I was pivotal (and traumatic) for how it oversaw the realization of a total war fueled by industrial production and weaponry. Beyond even military technology and tactics, World War I brought about the collapse of the great autocratic multinational empires that had once dominated Europe's history - Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and Austria-Hungary - and made representative democracies based around a nation-state representing one historical/ethnic group the ideal if not the norm (with a couple of big exceptions...). Then, World War I and its aftermath was key in raising nationalist resentments and economic hardships that would nourish the Fascist movement. At the same time it brought about not only the collapse of Tsarist Russia, but the failure of the democratic Russian state that immediately succeeded it and the rise of the Soviet Union, transforming the driving force in world history from the competition between Europe's colonial empires to the struggle between democratic-capitalist, Fascist, and Communist ideologies. Finally, the war gave the world the League of Nations, the doomed but still important precursor to the United Nations.
    • The fall of the Ottoman Empire changed, overnight, the cultural and regional landscape of the Middle East. The division of territories between France and England, the rise of Arab Nationalism and other issues of the time, directly paved the way for much of the later conflicts in the region that continue to the present day.
  • The Statute of Westminister in 1931, which redefined the relationship between the United Kingdom, the British Monarchy, and the various dominions which had once been colonies, marked the start of the peaceful end of the most widespread empire in human history as The British Empire became the (British) Commonwealth. The Suez Crisis of 1956 and the intervening period of decolonization and independence movements, marked the fading of England as the world's pre-eminent superpower, giving way to America and USSR.
  • After World War II (1937/1939-1945) the world system of international relations was restructured drastically, with a new emphasis on not just sovereignty (already codified by the Peace of Westphalia) but (legal) equality between states. The old alliances of Europe were finished (World War I had previously shown how destructive they could be) in favour of new ones like NATO and the United Nations. It also discredited Anti-Semitism (at least in the West) to a great extent, and the led directly to the creation of The European Union. It also saw the end of American isolationism and saw the drastic increase of the US military in all branches.
  • Once the world got used to the end of World War II, the Cold War changed things all over again by showing people a very new kind of warfare. The United States and the Soviet Union emerged as superpowers and became the bitterest of rivals, but both of them eventually possessed enough nuclear weapons between them to bring about The End of the World as We Know It. The result? Traditional warfare between the two suddenly wasn't an option—leading to the age of proxy wars and the rise of the intelligence services. In short order, the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was formed in 1947, with the Russian Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti (KGB) following in 1954, followed by three decades of up-and-down tensions as NATO and the Eastern Bloc backed competing factions in nearly every country that wasn't already allied with either of them. It seemed inevitable that the standoff would ultimately climax with World War III. But then...
  • On the 13th of September, 1989, a non-Communist government was formed by the Polish parliament, and the Soviet Union declined to force them to do otherwise. This kicked off The Great Politics Mess-Up: within weeks, the entity variously called the Eastern Bloc and the Warsaw Pact, the great enemy everyone had been planning to fight in World War III... simply went away. Just over a year later Germany was reunited, and a year after that the Soviet Union itself finally went into the dustbin of history. Western democracies were stunned to discover that the Cold War was over, had never turned hot, and they'd won.
    Austin Powers: Oh, smashing, groovy, yay capitalism!
  • There's a reason why the combined oral contraceptive pill, first approved by the FDA in 1960, is so often referred to as just "the Pill". Contraception had existed since the dawn of civilization, but the Pill was far more effective than the crude condoms and diaphragms of the past — and more importantly, it gave women full agency in whether or not to get pregnant. It played a large role in the emerging sexual revolution of The '60s, which in turn kicked into overdrive the already-bubbling second wave of the feminist movement and the genesis of the organized LGBT rights movement. A vast number of the social changes of the '60s and '70s can be directly attributed to this one little pill.
  • This article in Time makes the case that an epidemic of rubella in 1964-65 played a large role in the legalization of abortion in the United States and Western Europe, perhaps almost as much as the sexual revolution. Rubella is a fairly mild illness in most people, but pregnant women who catch it often give birth to infants with severe birth defects. As a result, when the epidemic broke out, it led to thousands of 'respectable' (i.e. white, married, middle-class) women getting 'therapeutic' abortions to terminate pregnancies that had a high likelihood of producing babies that would suffer a lifetime of medical problems, if they survived long at all. This effectively broke the stigma that had surrounded abortion, which was previously viewed as something that was done by women who were poor, unwed, and 'deviant'. Less than ten years later, the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion across the United States, and similar laws were passed throughout Western Europe.
  • The terrorist attacks of September 11 brought about The War on Terror and redefined the relationship between the U.S. government and the Muslim world. In addition, it also triggered a series of game-changing reforms in the U.S. intelligence community.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GenreTurningPoint