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Magnum Opus

Charlotte: Plaything? I should say not. It is my egg sac, my magnum opus.
Wilbur: I don't know what a magnum opus is.
Charlotte: That's Latin. It means "great work." This egg sac is my great work — the finest thing I have ever made.

Welcome to the top of the mountain, and to the pearly gates beyond which only the best are permitted. This trope represents the pinnacle to which anyone who produces a work of art dreams of reaching. The term "Magnum Opus" is bestowed on any work generally accepted to be a masterpiece, as well as the greatest work of its creator, forever cementing them as someone of exceptional talent.

Any given writer, artist, musician, etc. may produce many works in his/her life time, and many of these works may be great; but the greatest, and most important, well known, and influential of these works is their Magnum Opus. For the purposes of this trope page, it is probably best to consult The Other Wiki's definition of "Masterpiece": "a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill or workmanship." This trope is meant to recognize both the work and its creator, so any work of enough quality and critical acclaim is welcome. If you've ever heard a work referred to as a "classic" or especially a "masterpiece," chances are it belongs here.

Of course, defining what is or isn't someone's true masterpiece is far from easy in some cases. For some creators, there is little controversy, because they've only ever created or are only known for one particular work, which happens to be a masterpiece. Others have such a large body of work that there is bound to be more than one candidate for the title. There may be heavy debate regarding multiple works as to which is their true Magnum Opus. As usual there may be Critical Dissonance at play. The general public likes one work, while critics or fellow creative artists in the field prefer another. Even the creator himself may not always be the best judge of his own work. He/She may prefer his later work, because he/she grew the beard as an artist, perfected his/her skills and had more independence, away from Executive Meddling, while his fans may feel that his/her earlier work is way better (First Installment Wins). A common problem that happens to every artist is that, in their eyes, their best work is the one they spent the most time and effort on. As history has proven time and time again, this isn't always the case. For more examples on that subject we refer to the Magnum Opus Dissonance page.

A few simple reminders to avoid endless personal and subjective debates or other problems:

1) Please note that although there may be some overlap, this is not to be confused with One-Hit Wonder, which is when a creator is only known for one work, and that page mostly has music examples. This isn't One-Book Author, either. Most of these also aren't Tough Acts To Follow, which is when any other work of a creator's is compared disfavorably to their opus; but again, they can be.

2) Also note that there may or may not be overlap with the creator's Breakthrough Hit. While a few creators' breakthroughs are often cited to be their greatest work, most creators will create their breakthrough first, then eventually go on to produce their Magnum Opus.

3) Some of the works considered a Magnum Opus are often epic and ambitious in scale, length, stature or in content. Though this isn't always the case.

4) Merely listing a work as a magnum opus, because you happen to like it, despite everyone else disliking it or not rating it that high is a totally different discussion and should not be held here. Even if your own personal circle of friends or a group of Internet forum contributors like it: this still doesn't prove its status as a magnum opus. Consult encyclopaedias, art critics, professional reviews, documentaries or check the popularity of a certain work among the general public, despite it already being decades or even centuries old.

5) Before commenting on works that are already cited on this page as a creator's Magnum Opus that you don't agree with, please remember that the main page should be kept as objective as possible, with a minimal number of Justifying Edits. If there is a work cited here that you don't agree with or a work you feel has been neglected, please mention it first on the Discussion Page. Finally, The best way to decide whether or not a work is a Magnum Opus is by asking the question: "Is this work generally defined as a masterpiece, and as the greatest achievement of its creator's career?"

Also not to be confused with a certain penguin. Contrast Dethroning Moment of Suck and Fallen Creator.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Actors 

    Anime & Manga 

    Artists (Painters, sculptors, graphic artists) 
  • Also more contemporary, prepare for some Squick in reading about Vito Acconci's performance masterpiece Seedbed.
  • Francis Bacon: Screaming Popes
  • Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle series of films.
  • Hieronymus Bosch. The Garden of Earthly Delights.
  • Sandro Botticelli: La Primavera (best known for The Birth of Venus centerpiece).
  • Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Peasant Wedding is generally considered his masterpiece, because of its iconic stature. Other often cited works are Peasant Dance, The Blind Leading the Blind.
  • Michelangelo Buonarroti. His David statue and the Sistine Chapel ceiling painting are generally considered his magnum opus and a high point in human art. Another candidate is his Pietà statue.
  • John Constable: The Hay Wain.
  • Salvador Dali: The Persistence of Memory.
  • Jacques-Louis David: The Death of Marat.
  • Marcel Duchamp: His magnum opus was a piece simply known as "Fountain," a porcelain urinal he put on a pedestal in a gallery and signed with a marker as "R. Mutt". The piece was concept heavy, meant to challenge the value of art and the importance of the gallery system. The big idea behind the piece being, "If something is in an art gallery, does that make it art?"
  • Leonardo da Vinci: Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.
  • The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia of Barcelona is often considered the masterpiece of the renowned Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. The intricacy and scale of the cathedral was so immense that not only was it incomplete at the time of Gaudi's death (despite being started some forty years before he died, and devoting the last fifteen years of his life to it entirely), but remains incomplete to this day. By the time it is expected to be finished, it will have been built over the course of about 140 years.
  • Francisco De Goya: The Third of May, 1808.
  • Theodore Géricault: The Raft of the "Medusa''.
  • El Greco: The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.
  • Edward Hopper: Nighthawks.
  • Hokusai: The Great Wave off Kanagawa.
  • Roy Lichtenstein: Whaam.
  • Edouard Manet: Le Déjeuner Sur L' Herbe.
  • Masaccio's frescoes for the Barancacci Chapel, his greatest works and considered by some the principal classroom of the Florentine School.
  • Claude Monet: Impression, soleil levant and his Water Lelies series.
  • Edvard Munch: The Scream.
  • Pablo Picasso: Guernica
  • Raphael's "School of Athens".
  • Pierre-August Renoir: Bal au Moulin de la Galette.
  • Auguste Rodin: The Thinker and The Kiss.
  • Peter Paul Rubens: The Elevation of the Cross and The Descent From The Cross.
  • Georges Seurat: He died unfortunately young, but he (the inventor of pointillism) shook up the art world with his stylistically inventive and politically controversial Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
  • Johannes Vermeer: Girl With A Pearl Earring and The Milk Maid.
  • Vincent van Gogh: His artistic impact only occured after death. In terms of sales and fame The Sun Flowers is often cited as his masterpiece. Another strong contender is Starry Night, which remains one of the most influential and recognizable paintings in the world.
  • Rembrandt Van Rijn: The Nightwatch. Among the general public and art fans The Jewish Bride and The Oath Of Julius Civilis have also gained in reputation.
  • Diego Velazquez: Las Meninas.
  • Andy Warhol: His Campbell Soup painting.
  • James Mcneill Whistler: Portrait of the Artists' Mother.

    Comic Strip Artists 

    Composers (Classical & Jazz) 

    Fan Fic 

    Fashion 

    Film - Animated 
  • Amblimation: Balto for Steven Spielberg's short-lived animationstudio.
  • Ralph Bakshi: Though Fritz the Cat may be his most famous work overall, both Heavy Traffic and Coonskin are generally considered to be his best animated features. Bakshi himself favors Coonskin.
  • Brad Bird has never EVER made a bad film, but the biggest contenders for his Opus are The Iron Giant and The Incredibles. Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol is another strong contender.
  • Don Bluth: Fans and critics alike see The Secret Of Nimh as his magnum opus. All his later work tends to be more hit-and-miss and falls into eternal cult classic debates.
  • Disney: Just like many other animation companies Disney's best work was done during The Golden Age of Animation (1930s until the end of the 1950s).
    • Silly Symphonies: Disney's best regarded animated short from his black-and-white era is The Skeleton Dance, which started of his Silly Symphonies' series. It has remained popular and iconic throughout the centuries, while most of Disney's other black-and-white shorts, apart from Steamboat Willie have been forgotten and surpassed in popularity by his color shorts. The best animated Disney short in terms of popularity and among people in the animation business is The Band Concert. In terms of technical and dramatic achievement The Old Mill is also held in high regard.
    • Of Disney animated feature films the earliest five ("Snow White", "Pinocchio", "Fantasia", "Dumbo" and "Bambi") are considered to be his finest works, never surpassed in terms of dazzling technical achievements, dramatic and emotional power and hand-crafted charm. Which one is Disney's truest masterpiece, however, is still debated heavily. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs remains the most popular with the general audience and film critics alike, also because it broke new ground in animation and showed off everything the Disney studios had learned and achieved while working on animated shorts. Pinocchio is less popular with the general public, but many film critics and animators consider it superior to Snow White in terms of character development, story, visual detail and exciting adventure. Fantasia is even less popular with the general public and was a flop on its general release. Some people find it either too pretentious or too kitschy, but it has been Vindicated by History over the years as the unquestionable highlight of the company's technical skills and admired for being the most controversial, experimental and epic of all of Disney's projects. Dumbo, though not a technically or artistically groundbreaking film, has remained a public and critics' personal favorite ever since its release. Bambi, Walt's own personal favorite, is generally considered to be a classic, but more a favorite with the general public than the critics.
  • After Disney's death it took a long time before critics and public agreed on an animated feature that seemed on par with the work released during Walt's lifetime. Beauty and the Beast was a triumphant return to the old Disney charm, matching a strong story arc, stunning artwork, catchy songs and interesting main characters throughout the entire film. Many critics give it excellent reviews and it was the first Disney picture in five decades to win several Academy Awards. It was even the first animated feature to be nominated for the title Best Film!
  • Of all the Disney and Pixar films WALL•E and Up had the strongest positive response among critics and the general public. Up was even nominated for Best Feature, as well as Best Animated Feature during the Oscars.
    • In recent times, Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, or Frozen (the first being considered the beginning of the return to Disney's famous quality, the second being praised for its refreshing creativity and genuine heart, and the latter being favourably compared to Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King). As of 2014, however, this title is now almost unanimously given to Frozen.
  • Dreamworks Animation: How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda are often considered to be their greatest animated films. The first two Shrek films are also candidates, though the following installments haven't fared as well in comparison. The Prince of Egypt is their opus in 2D animation.
  • Ray Harryhausen: Fans and critics agree that Jason and the Argonauts is both his best film in content, as well as the one which showcases his claymation talents the best.
  • The Lego Movie or 21 Jump Street for Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
  • Hayao Miyazaki: Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke for Hayao Miyazaki stand out from his always exemplary work. The Wind Rises is another candidate.
  • Willis O Brien: The special effects in the original King Kong (1933) are considered his masterpiece.
  • Chris Sanders has either Lilo & Stitch, or How to Train Your Dragon.
  • Henry Selick: The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is often mistaken for a Tim Burton movie (Burton only wrote it), is most likely Selick's best work.
  • Jan Švankmajer: Alice, among critics and fans of animation. His own fans also see it as his best work.
  • Acclaimed animator Richard Williams has literally referred to The Thief and the Cobbler (or at least his original vision for it, before it was butchered by Executive Meddling) as his magnum opus; others believe Who Framed Roger Rabbit was his masterpiece.

    Live-Action Filmmakers 

    Franchises 
Usually the first installment in most cases, though there have been exceptions.

    Novelists & Poets 

    Theatre (playwrights) 

    Authors of Non-fiction 
  • Julia Child is best known for her first TV show The French Chef and her collaboration on Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but her far less famous The Way to Cook book/video combination constitutes possibly the greatest project of her life.
  • Isaac Newton: Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Science) is not only Issac Newton's most important book but considered one of the most important in the history of science.
  • Similarly, Albert Einstein 's General Theory of Relativity and Euclid's Elements.
  • The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli.
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Not just a book on tactics, but a way of life for some and a poetic writing as well. A true great in every way.
  • ''About the War" by Carl von Clausewitz.
  • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx.
  • Also Sprach Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

    Live Action TV 

    Pop Musicians (crooners, pop, soul, hiphop, reggae and rock) 
  • Abba: Dancing Queen is their most well loved track, usually the opener on any Abba retrospective and included on any hit compilation.
  • AC/DC's Back In Black. After their original singer Bon Scott died they were first thinking about quitting. Then they instead hired Brian Johnson (who Scott was a huge fan of) and recorded a new album in only a few months. It produced some of their most famous songs, like "Hells Bells", "You Shook Me All Night Long" and the title track. It is the best selling rock album of all-time and second overall behind Michael Jackson's Thriller.
  • Bryan Adams' Reckless or Cuts Like A Knife.
  • Alice in Chains, best album was Dirt according to most fans. Mainly, because of the perception that the whole album was a huge confession and cry for help about Layne Staley's drug addiction, which he later died from.
  • Amorphis, it's Tales From the Thousand Lakes. Elegy is also regarded as a classic in '90s Finnish heavy metal. For the newer fans, Skyforger tends to stand out.
  • Tori Amos' Little Earthquakes.
  • Anaal Nathrakh: Hell is Empty...and All the Devils are Here
  • Arcade Fire: Fans generally agree that either ‘’Funeral’’ or ‘’The Suburbs’’ are the band's greatest achievements. Many argue that their soundtrack to Her is their best work, also.
  • Arcturus' album La Masquerade Infernale is considered by many fans to be one of the best examples of avant garde metal.
  • Autechre best work according to many fans is Tri Repetae with their follow up LP 5 coming in close second. This is mainly because fans believe those two albums were the perfect middle between their earlier works like Amber and their extreme later works like Draft 7.30.
  • Barenaked Ladies: "Stunt", at least during the time that Steve Page was with the band. "Gordon" and "Barenaked Ladies Are Me" both have minority support, though.
  • Bathory: Blood Fire Death
  • Bauhaus produced four great albums in their short career, but their debut single "Bela Lugosi's Dead" (which was never part of an album to begin with) is still considered their masterpiece. The fact that it almost single-handedly invented Goth has added to the legend.
    • Interestingly, the song was written as a tongue-in-cheek parody aimed at the post-punk proto-Goth scenesters who frequented Bauhaus shows; and was not particularly well-liked by the band for most of their existence.
  • The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds.
  • The Beastie Boys: Their sophomore effort Paul's Boutique was so ahead of it's time (and quite a drastic departure from their previous album) that a majority of "fans", who they had reluctantly gained thanks to their former tongue-in-cheek frat boy image being taken seriously, were completely polarized. It's only now been recognized as a masterpiece in later years.
  • The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is a historical milestone in pop history, both critics and the general public agree. However, many musicians and music critics prefer The White Album, for the sheer diversity in style and content on an epic scale. And in recent decades Revolver and Abbey Road have been hailed as masterpieces on their own.
    • Beatles songs in their own are even more difficult to pin down on one singular masterpiece. Strawberry Fields Forever seems to be placed the highest in most lists though, along with A Day In The Life.
  • BECK: either Odelay or Sea Change.
  • Björk: Usually a tie between Debut, Post and Homogenic.
  • Black Sabbath's is generally considered to be Paranoid or Heaven and Hell. Ozzy Osbourne says that Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was the band's pinnacle.
  • Blind Guardian's Nightfall in Middle Earth is not only considered to be the band's best work, but also argued to be the greatest Power Metal album ever released.
  • blur: Parklife.
  • Blut Aus Nord: The Work Which Transforms God
  • David Bowie: The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars may be his most iconic album, but other strong contenders are Hunky Dory and Heroes.
  • Jacques Brel: Ne Me Quitte Pas was voted best chanson ever by public and critics. Another strong contender for Brel's masterpiece would be Le Plat Pays.
  • James Brown: His live album Live At The Apollo is generally considered to be the best live album ever.
  • Jeff Buckley: Grace.
  • Burzum's third album, Hvis lyset tar oss, is frequently considered their best and the defining template for the ambient black metal sub-genren. That or Filosofem
  • Kate Bush's Hounds of Love.
  • Can: Tago Mago is the one most chosen for this title, though others prefer the less bombastic Ege Bamyasi.
  • Captain Beefheart: Trout Mask Replica.
  • Johnny Cash: At Folsom Prison
  • Catherine Wheel have Ferment on their belt, though some may say Chrome is better.
  • Celtic Frost: To Mega Therion
  • The Clash: London Calling.
    • Their next album Sandinista! goes even more over-the-top than London Calling and is more of their underground Magnum Opus than anything. They explore dub and electronica and even had the first white rap song, predating Blondies "Rapture" by a few months.
  • Cocteau Twins: Heaven Or Las Vegas and Treasure.
  • Codeine: Whose debut album Frigid Stars LP single-handedly heavily influenced the genre and completely kick-started Slowcore
    • Although Frigid Stars is the album credited for pioneering slowcore, many fans view the Barely Real EP or The White Birch as their magnum opus.
  • Coldplay has either the Even Better Sequel A Rush of Blood to the Head or New Sound Album Viva La Vida.
  • Converge's fifth album, Jane Doe, is considered this, although their album Axe to Fall has been called this as well.
  • Cradle Of Filth: Dusk...and Her Embrace or Midian
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival with Cosmo's Factory.
  • Crosby Stills Nash & Young: Déja Vu.
  • The Cure's 1989 album Disintegration bridges the gap between their Goth work and their pop work, and its large number of classic songs has made it their magnum opus.
  • Daft Punk: Homework and Discovery.
  • Darkthrone: Transylvanian Hunger or A Blaze in the Northern Sky
  • Dave Matthews Band: Before These Crowded Streets.
  • Deathspell Omega: Si Momentum Requires, Circumspice
  • Def Leppard has either Pyromania or Hysteria (or possibly both) as their greatest work.
  • Deftones: White Pony, while some fans suggest that Around the Fur was their best work.
  • Depeche Mode's Violator is generally considered their finest album by the media, the band, their associates, and a sizable chunk of their fanbase, as well as being their most successful album with their highest-charting and best-known singles. It's not uncommon for their live setlist to be at least 25% Violator songs.
  • Derek And The Dominos: Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs.
  • The Dillinger Escape Plan's debut album, Calculating Infinity, is considered this, much to the band's own chagrin.
  • Dimmu Borgir: Stormblast or Enthrone Darkness Triumphant
  • Dire Straits: Brothers In Arms.
  • Dissection: Storm of the Light's Bane
  • Dixie Chicks have two of the strongest received country albums of the late 1990s: Wide Open Spaces and Fly. Their strongest received album altogether, though, is 2002's Home, often cited as the best of the decade and sometimes even one of the best country albums of all time.
  • The Doors: Generally their debut album and L.A. Woman have been named their masterpiece.
  • Nick Drake: Pink Moon.
  • Dream Theater's magnum opus is either "Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper" or "A Change of Seasons". Both are grand, epic progressive pieces that truly exemplify the band's gimmick. Alternatively, the Dance of Eternity is their magnum opus based solely on the immense musical complexity of the track - and that said about a band whose use of Uncommon Time is through the roof.
  • Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited, The Freewheelin Bob Dylan, Blood On The Tracks and Blonde On Blonde are often called his magnum opus. When fans and critics have to pin it down to one they usually pick Highway 61 Revisited''.
  • Earth Wind And Fire: September
  • The Eagles: Hotel California, both the album, as well as the song.
  • Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP is Eminem's most critically and commercially acclaimed album and the only one popping up in general best albums of all time lists. The one song that is considered to be his masterpiece is Lose Yourself.
  • Emperor: In the Nightside Eclipse.
  • Brian Eno: Here Come the Warm Jets.
  • Faith No More: Angel Dust, widely considered a landmark of alternative rock with its weird genre mixtures. (though others go for predecessor The Real Thing, which has their Signature Song "Epic").
  • Fall Out Boy: Take This To Your Grave.
  • Five Iron Frenzy wrote a song, "So Far, So Bad", humorously claiming that the greatest song they ever wrote was going to remain unpublished because the record labels and radio stations didn't like it. "We were gonna have our glorious exit, / an admonition and an encore. / We were gonna make a point to the whole world / but no one wants to hear it anymore."
    • In at least one live show, Reese Roper jokingly claimed that "Pootermobile" was their magnum opus. For the record, this is "Pootermobile".
  • Fugazi: 13 Songs.
  • The Fugees: The Score.
  • The Fugs: The Fugs' Second Album.
  • Serge Gainsbourg: Histoire De Melody Nelson.
  • Marvin Gaye: What's Going On? ?.
  • Gorgoroth: Under the Sign of Hell
  • Gorillaz' Demon Days is their highest acclaimed album but in a case of personal preference for many fans it's ''Gorillaz''.
  • Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five: The Message.
  • Green Day: Dookie or American Idiot.
  • Guns N' Roses had "Sweet Child O' Mine", "Welcome to the Jungle" and "November Rain". Album is incontestably Appetite for Destruction (where both "Sweet Child" and "Jungle" originate).
  • George Harrison: All Things Must Pass.
  • PJ Harvey: To Bring You My Love and Stories From The City Stories From The Sea.
  • Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced and Electric Ladyland.
  • Hüsker Dü: Zen Arcade and New Day Rising. Both are brimming with excellent tunes and respectively set the precedents for post-hardcore and alternative rock.
  • Immortal: At the Heart of Winter
  • Iron Maiden's is debatably The Number of the Beast, although Piece of Mind is usually close behind (it's even the favorite by leader Steve Harris and singer Bruce Dickinson). Powerslave is also a popular choice (though it's a point of contention whether the 4 less-known tracks are as good as the four hits). As far as songs go, the popular vote is typically on "Fear of the Dark", "Hallowed Be Thy Name", or "Rime of the Ancient Mariner".
  • Michael Jackson: Thriller will often be named his best album and being the best-selling record of all time it's difficult to dispute its excellence. However some fans prefer Off The Wall for being more musically strong in content.
    • Jackson's magnum opus as a song is Billie Jean. Even Usher said: "I aspire to one day write something as good as that."
  • Jethro Tull: "Aqualung''.
  • Billy Joel has Piano Man and The Stranger.
  • Janis Joplin: Cheap Thrills.
  • Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures and Closer are their only studio albums and discussion still continues which one of these is their magnum opus.
  • Kataklysm fans are divided on which of the band's best albums are, but Sorcery, Temple of Knowledge, Serenity in Fire, and Epic: The Poetry of War are the most commonly stated albums to be their best.
  • Carole King: Tapestry.
  • King Crimson: In The Court Of The Crimson King, Red and Discipline are among the more frequent contenders.
  • Kitchens of Distinction have one of the most acclaimed albums of 1992, The Death Of Cool and is probably one of the most underrated albums of the 1990s.
  • Korn albums are highly debated among fans. But it usually comes down to their Self-Titled album, Life is Peachy, Follow the Leader, or Untouchable. But if you want the opinion of a band member, Jonathan Davis claims Untouchable was their masterpiece.
  • Kraftwerk: The Man-Machine.
  • John Lennon: Usually a tie between John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine.
  • Led Zeppelin: Their untitled fourth album (often called Led Zeppelin IV) is considered their most accomplished.
    • In a case of Magnum Opus Dissonance, the band actually considered Physical Graffiti (singling out the song "Kashmir") their finest artistic accomplishment, if only for the Genre Roulette.
    • This is the same case with songs. "Stairway to Heaven" is obviously their best known track, but they themselves view "Kashmir" as their magnum opus.
  • Love: Forever Changes. In fact, frontman Arthur Lee was deliberately aiming for this trope, thinking he was going to die.
  • Madonna: Her critically most acclaimed albums are Like A Prayer and Ray Of Light.
  • Manic Street Preachers have The Holy Bible as their magnum opus.
  • Bob Marley: Exodus (album). His compilation album Legend is often named the quintessential Bob Marley/reggae album to own, because it contains all his biggest hits.
  • Curtis Mayfield: The soundtrack to the film Superfly.
  • Mayhem's first "proper" album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, was for a long time considered their best (not just of the band, but of Black Metal as a genre), but following the release of their fourth album Ordo Ad Chao, disputes began to develop.
  • The Mars Volta fans consider De-Loused in the Comatorium their best work, while The Bedlam in Goliath would be their most critically acclaimed album because of its slightly more mainstream sound.
  • MC5: Kick Out The Jams.
  • Paul McCartney: His debut album.
  • Sarah McLachlan 's Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
  • Meat Loaf: Bat out of Hell. For songs, either the title track or "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" depending on your taste in music. The fanbase is generally split in opinion.
  • Megadeth: Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?, ironically released the same year as Master of Puppets and Reign In Blood. Rust In Peace, though, is often held up at the same level as Peace Sells..., mostly ending up a matter of personal preference.
  • If you ask a Meshuggah fan what the band's finest work is, chances are a lot of them will point to obZen, despite the fact its sound became redundant after it got imitated by hundreds of other bands.
  • Metallica's Master of Puppets, although the self-titled album, ...And Justice for All and Ride the Lightning have plenty of fans as well. Master of Puppets is generally considered by critics to be the greatest heavy metal album ever recorded, or at least very close to it.
    • Lars Ulrich has said that he considers .....And Justice For All to be their best work.
      • And most fans will tell you ''One'' or Blackened is the best song on the album.
  • Joni Mitchell: Blue
  • Alanis Morissette : Jagged Little Pill
  • Motörhead have Ace of Spades.
  • My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. Kevin Shields worked on that thing for two years and nearly bankrupted Creation Records.
  • Nas' debut album, Illmatic.
  • The National has Boxer, High Violet, Alligator and Trouble Will Find Me.
  • New Kingdom: Paradise Don't Come Cheap.
  • New Order: Their hit song Blue Monday.
  • Nightwish: Oceanborn is rather consistently regarded as the Nightwish album by older fans, while Once or Dark Passion Play are their most well-known and successful.
  • Nine Inch Nails: The Downward Spiral is still the most oft-cited magnum opus of Trent Reznor, though, all of NIN's other albums have their fans, particularly The Fragile. Except probably With Teeth, which remains something of a bastard child, though some will admit that it's a good album to introduce people to the band with.
  • Nirvana: Nevermind.
  • Oasis: (What's the Story) Morning Glory. Though its predecessor, Definitely Maybe, is just as popular.
  • While they made many good albums Pearl Jam knew that their first album Ten is theirs. But for a good reason. Although Eddie Vedder has said that he can't listen to the early albums anymore.
  • Opeth's Blackwater Park is considered by both the band and the fanbase as their magnum Opeth.
  • Parliament: Mothership Connection.
  • Dolly Parton: Coat Of Many Colors.
  • Liz Phair: Exile In Guyville.
  • Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon- the third best-selling album of all time- although some would contest The Wall (which, regardless, is undoubtedly the magnum opus of Floyd's Roger Waters). other candidates are The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (with Syd Barrett at the helm) and Wish You Were Here (the favorite album of David Gilmour and Richard Wright).
  • The Pixies: Surfer Rosa.
  • Iggy Pop: Lust For Life and The Idiot.
  • Elvis Presley: His self-titled album Elvis Presley The Album (1956). When talking about individual songs Heartbreak Hotel is held in high regard.
  • Prince: Purple Rain and/or Sign o' The Times.
  • The Prodigy: The Fat Of The Land.
  • Public Enemy: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Usb Ack.
  • Pulp have their magnum opus in 1995's Different Class
  • Queen: The song Bohemian Rhapsody, not coincidentally from what many consider to be their best album: A Night at the Opera.
  • Queens of the Stone Age: Songs For The Deaf.
  • Radiohead’s OK Computer. Though there's a bit of a Broken Base over whether it's actually either The Bends or Kid A'' that counts as their magnum opus.
  • Rage Against the Machine: either their Self-Titled album is their best work, or Evil Empire. While Battle for Los Angeles is their most critically acclaimed album.
  • The Ramones: Ramones.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers fans will either tell you that Blood Sugar Sex Magik is their best album, or Californication.
  • Red House Painters have about 3 albums considered to be their masterwork. For most critics and fans the first Self-Titled Album (retitled Rollercoaster to help distinguish between this and the sister self-titled, Bridge) and Ocean Beach. However, 1997's Songs For A Blue Guitar has also been considered the band's best work, but a lot of critical opinion on it tends to split between incredibly brilliant to So Okay, It's Average.
    • The only reason why Songs For A Blue Guitar got such seemingly lukewarm reviews is because it isn't a true Red House Painters album. It was intended to be a Mark Kozelek solo album but was slapped with the RHP moniker in hopes it would sell more. All fans and critics tend to agree, however, that the album is Kozelek's best solo album, surpassing everything he previously did with RHP and anything he would later do with Sun Kil Moon.
    • Sun Kil Moon have 2 albums that are contenders for the "magnum opus" label, Ghosts Of The Great Highway and April.
  • Lou Reed: Transformer.
  • The Residents: Often a tie between Third Reich And Roll and The Commercial Album.
  • The Rolling Stones: Exile On Main St is often called their magnum opus, though Aftermath, Sticky Fingers and Beggars Banquet are all a close second.
  • Run-D.M.C.: Raising Hell.
  • Rush: Moving Pictures is generally considered theirs.
  • Sacramentum: Far Away From the Sun
  • Sade's Love Deluxe.
  • Samael: Ceremony of Opposites
  • Scar Symmetry has Holographic Universe, widely regarded as one of the best Melodic Death Metal albums of the late 2000s.
  • Gil Scott Heron: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.
  • The Sex Pistols: Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols.
  • Tupac Shakur, as well as his fans, consider Me Against the World his best work.
  • Sigh: Scorn Defeat or Imaginary Sonicscape
  • Sigur Rós' Ágætis byrjun.
  • Paul Simon: Graceland.
  • Simon & Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Water.
  • Frank Sinatra: In The Wee Small Hours.
  • Slint's Spiderland almost single-handedly started the whole Post-Rock movement.
  • Slayer's Reign in Blood.
    • Seasons in the Abyss has it's fans as well.
  • The Smashing Pumpkins third album, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, is generally considered by critics and fans to be their greatest work. That, or Siamese Dream.
  • Patti Smith: Horses.
  • The Smiths' The Queen Is Dead, though Morrissey and Marr both insist that their last album, Strangeways, Here We Come was their best.
  • Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation.
  • Soundgarden's Superunknown, a bridge between their heavy metal and experimental leanings.
    • Badmotorfinger can also be this for fans that prefer their earlier albums.
  • Bruce Springsteen's big breakout, Born to Run is generally regarded as his best, although Born in the U.S.A. was more successful.
  • The Stone Roses have The Stone Roses
  • The Stooges: Raw Power.
  • The Strokes: Is This It.
  • Sufjan Stevens' is Illinois. It was the album that made him a superstar of the indie scene, was (according to Metacritic) tied for the position of most-critically-praised album of 2005, and is still widely considered one of the best of that decade.
  • Suffocation: Their debut Effigy of the Forgotten, which single-handedly created and set the direction of Brutal Death Metal, as well as re-writing the rules for Technical Death Metal and even laying the groundwork for Slam Death (and, after a fashion and a few mutations, Deathcore). Although a few give the nod to their third album, Pierced from Within, which shows them at the peak of their songwriting and technical virtuosity, along with one of the best production jobs of their career.
  • Talking Heads' Remain in Light, one of the great albums of the Post-Punk period and perhaps the band's greatest achievement. Meanwhile, Stop Making Sense is considered the greatest concert film and many fans prefer the live versions of songs from the film's soundtrack over the studio versions.
    • Other contenders include Fear Of Music and the double live album The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads.
  • Tool has Lateralus. Song and album are both considered this.
  • Peter Tosh: Legalize It.
  • Underworld: Beaucoup Fish.
  • U2: Generally considered the 'American' sounding The Joshua Tree, but some consider it the 'European' sounding Achtung Baby.
  • Velvet Underground's The Velvet Underground And Nico is usually cited as their greatest work, not to mention the inventor of all non-mainstream rock.
  • Venom: Welcome to Hell
  • Tom Waits: Closing Time.
  • Weezer: The Blue Album or Pinkerton
  • Kanye West: The critically acclaimed My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which got perfect or near perfect reviews from pratically everyone upon its release (with its Metacritic score being a rare high of 94) and it ended up either very high on or topping a lot of end of year best-of lists.
    • And All of the Lights (Interlude)/ All of the Lights, from the above album, is widely considered to be one of the greatest songs he's ever done.
  • The White Stripes: Elephant.
  • The Who has several candidates, Tommy - the first Rock Opera to be a mainstream hit, Live At Leeds- a live album considered to be one of, if not the best live rock albums ever (and the newer version has most of Tommy in there), Who's Next, the source of 3 of their biggest hits and codifying the use of synthesizers in mainstream music, and Quadrophenia, a fan favorite.
    • Pete Townshend has called Quadrophenia his Magnum Opus.
  • Amy Winehouse: Back To Black.
  • Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key Of Life.
  • Wu-Tang Clan, their debut Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers is still considered their definitive collaborative album; of side projects, GZA's Liquid Swords or Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... are typically cited as the masterpieces
  • XTC: Skylarking
  • Yes had either the prog-rock masterpiece Close to the Edge, or the album that brought them back from irrelevancy and reinvented them as a pop-rock group, 90125. There is a massive Broken Base among fans regarding this question (though some fans Take a Third Option and regard them both as the high points of two vastly different artistic periods of the band)
  • Dwight Yoakam released two of the most critically acclaimed albums of the late 80s and early 90s, Buenas Notches From A Lonely Room and This Time. Both albums are extremely influential even outside their genre. Another album, 3 Pears, is getting this type of recognition for his latter-half career.
  • Neil Young: Harvest.
  • Frank Zappa: Zappa created such a versatile and ever-changing body of work that even his fans tend to differ what his best album would be? The most frequent heard candidates are Freak Out, We're Only In It For The Money, Uncle Meat and One Size Fits All. Among the general public it tend to be his best-selling records Over-Nite Sensation, Apostrophe (') and Sheik Yerbouti, whom all contain pretty much straight-out rock songs and instrumentals and Hot Rats, which is mostly instrumental and free of all the stuff non-Zappa fans tend to feel cringy about: bawdy jokes, bizarre stuff, satire, political comments and sudden experimentations. Rock critics usually choose for Freak Out, We're Only In It For The Money, Uncle Meat and/or Hot Rats whenever they make a general list of the greatest albums of all time and happen to include Zappa.

    Music Videos 
  • After all those years the only music video to have risen to become an audience and critics' favorite is Thriller by Michael Jackson, directed by John Landis. It revolutionized the art form and surprised every viewer in a way that will probably never occur again with the same universal impact. Even Jackson tried to surpass it with more and more epic music videos, like Bad, Smooth Criminal and Black or White, but none ever got the same global acclaim from all audiences, both public as well as critics.

    Pinball 

    Sports 
  • Hakeem Olajuwon's 1993-94 season, winning the MVP, Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards.
  • Tim Duncan's 2002-03 season, especially the finals series against the New Jersey Nets.
  • Shaquille O'Neal's 1999-2000 season, in which he captured the MVP, All-star Game MVP and Finals MVP.
  • Georges St. Pierre's TKO victory against Matt Hughes.
    • How can you mention Matt Hughes without citing his victory over Frank Trigg at UFC 52? Matt survived an accidental low blow, a pummeling, a near submission, then got up, PICKED UP TRIGG AND RAN ACROSS THE OCTAGON WITH HIM, threw him down, returned the pummeling, and got a submission of his own.
      • Because his comeback victory over BJ Penn (a man who beat Hughes once before) is more impressive. Hughes was behind on the scorecards, getting pummeled standing up and Penn's brazilian jiu-jitsu was giving Hughes problems on the ground. And yet, Hughes finished Penn late in the fight through sheer determination.
  • Chuck Liddell's first victory over Randy Couture.
  • The Los Angeles Lakers 1971-1972 season, winning 33 in a row and grabbing the title.
  • Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1995-96 season, becoming the first team in NBA history to win 70 regular season games (they won 72 and only lost 10) and cruising to Jordan's 4th title.
  • Le Bron James' 2011-12 season, winning the MVP and finals MVP.
  • World champion chess player (and world-champion-caliber Jerkass) Bobby Fischer produced the win dubbed by commentators "The Game of The Century" when he was 13 years old.
  • Michael Phelps at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, setting the record for most golds in one Olympics (8), taking gold in every event he was in.
  • In Association Football, many players, coaches and managers are considered to have been so influential on their teams that they are deemed the equivalent of cinema's "auteurs". The crowning achievements of their teams can be considered to be their magnum opus:
    • For Sir Alex Ferguson, a well-remembered British manager in history, it is the 1999 league/cup/European Cup treble with Manchester United.
    • For Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi's Barcelona, it is the 5-0 ("la manita") demolition of Real Madrid in 2010. This mirrored the achievement of Johan Cruyff, Barcelona's most influential player and manager, whose 5-0 defeat of Madrid in 1974 set the seeds for Barcelona's future success.
    • The 1967-68 season is seen as this for George Best of Northern Ireland. Widely regarded as the greatest player to never play at a world cup and one of the greatest period, he rose to the forefront at Manchester United during that season, leading the team to the European Cup, becoming the fist english team to do so, and winning the equivalent of the european player of the year. Sadly he would waste his talent on booze and gambling in the years after.
    • The Brazilian team that won the 1970 World Cup is often considered the best squad ever assembled.
  • In 2007, Peyton Manning finally shook off the cobwebs and led his Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl victory after years of playoff mishaps.
  • Super Bowl XLII. On one side, the undefeated Patriots, who'd soundly thrashed every team before them. On the other, the New York Giants, who came out of nowhere with an unexpected postseason run. The Giants proceeded to win the game in what's generally considered one of the defining moments of American Football.
  • Muhammad Ali's brilliant tactic to beat seemly invincible "Big" George Foreman in Zaire (Congo), 1974.
  • Sugar Ray Leonard making the feared Roberto Duran quit in the middle of their rematch, after losing to him in their first boxing match.
  • The first lap of the 1993 European Grand Prix for Ayrton Senna.
  • Eddy Merckx' entire cycling career is a magnum opus, never surpassed in the dazzling amount of victories by any other cyclist!

    Theme Parks 
  • Universal Studios
    • For park fans, to date nothing has been able to top Kongfrontation in terms of originality, production value and realism. Especially when it first opened.
    • Spider-Man and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (both in the Islands of Adventure park at Universal Flordia) are alternatively considered this by many other fans due to, like Kongfrontation before them, both rides pioneering new, unproven ideas an technologies.
  • For the Disney Theme Parks, the original Pirates of the Caribbean ride is considered Imagineering's finest achievement in ride design.
  • Six Flags's crowning achievement would be X (now X2), not only for being the first multidimensional coaster ever made, but also one of the very few of its kind.

    Video Games 

Games

Game Soundtracks

Game Consoles

    Visual Novels 
  • Fans of Ryukishi 07 can't really decide which one of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Umineko no Naku Koro ni is his masterpiece (though a slight majority seams to be leaning towards Umineko). Even Ryukishi 07 himself can't decide on which one he prefers.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Homestuck by Andrew Hussie fits this category almost perfectly.
  • Roger M. Wilcox is probably best known for The Intercontinental Union of Disgusting Characters, but he still considers his life's work to be The Pentagon War.
  • Mateusz Skutnik considers Covert Front 3: Night In Zurich to be his greatest accomplishment.
  • Serris considers Darwin's Soldiers to be the best online RP he has ever created or played.
  • Doug Walker of That Guy with the Glasses has more than one, depending on the project or series.
    • As far as the pre-revival Nostalgia Critic videos go, he considers his review of Moulin Rouge! to be his Magnum Opus, as evidenced by it being #1 in his "The Top 10 Nostalgia Critic Reviews" video.
    • To Boldly Flee. He had a Creator Breakdown trying to make it perfect, and while he bemoans that it still wasn't enough, he has enough pride to know it came pretty damn close.
  • Natsumi STEP!, to this day, remains Koshiandoh's most (in)famous web animation.
  • Geoff Ramsey of Rooster Teeth and Achievement Hunter called the Rage Quit episode two-parter of Surgeon Simulator 2013 Steam Version this for that series, and it shows.
  • Both Lewis and the majority of fans agree that the best story arc on Atop the Fourth Wall was "A Piece of the World is Missing", aka "The Entity Story Arc".
  • A few countdown artists have made their choices for magnum opuses public:
    • The one work of Animalguy001 that is considered to be his best is his "Top 100 Favorite Pokemon". Of that list he said that the #1 entry was the hardest entry to do in his entire career as a countdown artist and he did it well.
    • As far as Superflipper76 goes there are 3 works that could qualify: "Why I hate Conker's Bad Fur Day" is by far the Base Breaker and "Top 10 Traditional RPG's" is a non-controversial fan favorite, but the work he considers to be his best is his "Top 10 Avatar The Last Airbender episodes".
    • Gaming Top Ten's favorite work is his "Top 5 most overrated/underrated games" list.

YouTube Poops

    Western Animation 

Magic Franchise WordCreator SpeakMagnum Opus Dissonance
In Vino VeritasTrope Names from Other LanguagesMiles Gloriosus
The TroublesAwesomeMusic/Status QuoMoment of Awesome
Magical Seventh SonWe Are Not Alone IndexMammy
Magnificent BastardYMMVMarty Stu
Magnificent BastardYMMV/Home PageMarty Stu

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