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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.

Note that for some particularly talented creators, which work is their true masterpiece can be open to personal interpretation. There may be heavy debate regarding multiple works as to which is their true Magnum Opus. However, for many creators there is usually a general consensus among critics and fans as to which work represents the pinnacle of their career—the big slam dunk. Others, unfortunately, find themselves facing the painful situational irony of Magnum Opus Dissonance. With that in mind, be free to specify whenever there may be a discrepancy as to which work truly qualifies for this trope, or even if the creator doesn't think that the work generally accepted as their Magnum Opus is really their best. Also note that 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 manage to have a successful career, but the Magnum Opus is their first work.

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, 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. 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 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.

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


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  • Raphael's "School of Athens" an ode to all the masters of the Western world at the time.
  • Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa or Last Supper.
  • Michelangelo's David or the Sistine Chapel painting).
  • Pablo Picasso is one of the most important artists of the 20th century; his masterwork is an enormous (roughly 25 feet long and 10 feet high) oil painting known as Guernica.
  • Marcel Duchamp might be the most important artist of the 20th century after Picasso; 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?"
  • Vincent Van Gogh never made an impact during his life, but his Starry Night remains one of the most influential and recognizable paintings in the world.
  • Seurat 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.
  • A little more contemporary, Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle series of films.
  • Also more contemporary, prepare for some Squick in reading about Vito Acconci's performance masterpiece Seedbed.
  • Masaccio's frescoes for the Barancacci Chapel, his greatest works and considered by some the principal classroom of the Florentine School.
  • David's Death of Marat
  • Rembrandt's The Night Watch (or The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis depending on who you talk to).
  • 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.
  • Salvador Dali's ''Hallucinogenic Toreador' or "The Persistence of Memory".

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    Live Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 for J. Michael Straczynski.
  • Joss Whedon has candidates like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, The Avengers and (comic-wise) X-Men.
  • Fraggle Rock for Jim Henson.
  • Ken Burns ' documentary miniseries The Civil War.
  • Veronica Mars for Rob Thomas.
  • All in the Family (the first 8 seasons before he left anyway) for Norman Lear.
  • LOST for J. J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.
  • From an acting perspective, although he was already a big deal from Cheers, Frasier would likely be the front runner for Kelsey Grammer.
  • Another acting one, Everybody Loves Raymond for most, if not all of the cast, as well as producer Phil Rosenthal.
  • Mash for Alan Alda (and the rest of the cast, for that matter). Bonus points for Alda being a director, lead actor, AND writer.
  • Though hardly unsuccessful with his other works, earning a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for The Social Network, it's likely that Aaron Sorkin will be most fondly remembered for his four seasons' work on The West Wing.
  • The Sopranos for David Chase. Like The Wire and Breaking Bad, it is considered the champion modern example of television.
  • The Wire for David Simon.
  • They say that every Doctor Who Showrunner has an episode that encapsulates everything about their era in general, an episiode that couldn't have ever been made under anyone else. In rough order, based on fan opinion:
    • Barry Letts / Terrance Dicks - The Daemons
    • Phillip Hinchcliffe / Robert Holmes - The Talons Of Weng-Chiang
    • Graham Williams / Douglas Adams - City Of Death (May have been Shada if it had ever gotten properly made).
    • John Nathan-Turner / Christopher Bidmead - Logopolis
      • John Nathan-Turner / Eric Saward - Revelation Of The Daleks (Though in the words of Mike Morris The Two Doctors was more encapsulating of what the Saward Era actually was, Revelation is more what it wanted to be)
      • John Nathan-Turner / Andrew Cartmel - The Curse Of Fenric
    • Russell T Davies - The End Of Time. Other candidates include "Midnight" as Davies' best episode (as it expertly deconstructs all of Doctor Who and its tropes), and "Army of Ghosts/Doomsday" as the greatest traditional "Who" adventure under his tenure, particularly due to how well it emphasizes the emotional relationship between the Doctor and Rose. Outside of "Who", there's also Children of Earth for Davies. Easily the most acclaimed series of Torchwood, and perhaps the most mature run of episodes of the NuWho universe.
    • Steven Moffat - As a producer, it may be to early to really judge. As a writer though, probably "Blink" tied with "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances".
    • Doctor Who writers by themselves:
  • The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica for Ronald D. Moore.
  • I Love Lucy for Lucille Ball. Seeing as how it practically invented the Sitcom and to this day you can't make one without borrowing from Lucy, it can be seen as a Magnum Opus for the genre itself, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that it made Ball the most powerful woman in the TV industry at a time when women weren't given much slack.
  • 24 for Kiefer Sutherland is what he is always going to be best known for acting-wise, in addition to encouraging debate regarding "extreme interrogation methods" employed by the Bush administration and other political issues.
  • Community for Dan Harmon.
  • Breaking Bad for Vince Gilligan, which is generally placed alongside The Sopranos and The Wire as the best television drama ever. In fact, Gilligan is firmly convinced that he will never, in the rest of his career, ever be able to match it.
  • Scrubs for Bill Lawrence

  • A classical example is probably Beethoven's fifth and ninth symphonies, which stand out despite Beethoven having written numerous well-known compositions.
    • His Seventh Symphony is often seen as his most complete, especially among musicians.
    • Some would also give this distinction to his Grosse Fuge for string quartet, which combined sonata, fugue, and variation forms, and somehow still sounds contemporary even today.
  • J. S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. There are other contenders, though.
  • Any modern band will have fans heavily debate over which song or album was their true masterpiece, but above all certain works tend to stand out. While albums are most commonly referred to in this way, every so often an individual song makes its way to this level, so much that it becomes synonymous with the band itself, is considered the grand statement of that band's career:
    • The Eagles had Hotel California, in both in the song and album categories.
    • Queen had "Bohemian Rhapsody". For albums, A Night At The Opera usually wins.
    • 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).
  • While everybody seems to have a favorite The Beatles album and a decent argument as to why, it's pretty widely agreed that Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is their most important album, and kind of changed the face of music.
    • It's also said (especially among musicians) that Rubber Soul, Revolver, The White Album and Abbey Road were equally important and influential. It's even been said that when Sgt. Pepper isn't picked as the best album of all time, Revolver goes instead.
    • Just as it's hard to pin down a single album as The Beatles' masterpiece, it's also hard to pin down a single song. Contenders include "A Hard Day's Night", "Let it Be", "Hey Jude", and especially "A Day in the Life".
  • The Beastie Boys 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.
  • Nirvana had Nevermind, which brought out alternative rock and remains to this day the most well known and well received Grunge album.
    • Definitely a case of Magnum Opus Dissonance for Cobain; he himself preferred In Utero. Critics have also hailed MTV Unplugged in New York and Live at Reading as two of the greatest live albums of all time.
  • 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.
  • People were floored by Joy Division's 1979 debut Unknown Pleasures, but their second (and final) album Closer is considered by most to be their masterwork.
  • The Welsh band Manic Street Preachers have The Holy Bible as their magnum opus.
  • 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.
  • Debut, Post, and Homogenic are all in the running for Björk.
  • Of the various albums and spin-offs from the 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.
  • Iggy Pop's two most acclaimed and important albums as a solo artist are The Idiot and Lust For Life, both of which were made in the same year and in collaboration with David Bowie.
  • David Bowie has gone through so many ch-ch-ch-ch-changes that it's nearly impossible to pin down one, as they're all different. Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, and Low are usually at the top for him.
  • The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails 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.
  • Britpop band Pulp have their magnum opus in 1995's Different Class, while their contemporaries blur have 1994's Parklife.
  • 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.
  • Slayer's Reign in Blood.
    • Seasons in the Abyss has it's fans as well.
  • Megadeth's 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.
  • Avant Garde metal band Arcturus' album La Masquerade Infernale is considered by many fans to be one of the best examples of avant garde metal.
  • Michael Jackson's Thriller is regarded as this, though some will contest Bad, Off the Wall, or even Dangerous. What is not contestable, however, is the fact that Thriller is the best selling album of all time.
  • 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 Thriller.
  • Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, although some would contest The Wall (which, regardless, is undoubtedly the magnum opus of Floyd's Roger Waters).
    • Either those or The Piper At The Gates of Dawn (with Syd Barrett at the helm) or Wish You Were Here (the favorite album of David Gilmour and Richard Wright).
    • The Dark Side of the Moon is the third best-selling album of all-time though, coming right behind the aforementioned Back in Black by AC/DC.
  • My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. Kevin Shields worked on that thing for two years and nearly bankrupted Creation Records.
    • They later more than made it up with what's considered Oasis' magnum opus, (What's the Story) Morning Glory. Though its predecessor, Definitely Maybe, is just as popular.
  • With Prince, it's Purple Rain, Sign o' the Times and 1999.
  • XTC has Skylarking.
  • The Stone Roses have The Stone Roses
  • Motörhead have Ace of Spades.
  • Tori Amos' Little Earthquakes.
  • Soundgarden's Superunknown, a bridge between their heavy metal and experimental leanings.
    • Badmotorfinger can also be this for fans that prefer their earlier albums.
  • Kate Bush's Hounds of Love.
  • 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.
  • Bruce Springsteen's big breakout, Born to Run is generally regarded as his best, although Born in the U.S.A. was more successful.
  • Nas' debut album, Illmatic.
  • Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville.
  • Pet Sounds is considered this for The Beach Boys.
  • Mozart's is usually cited as his 41st (final) symphony, his Requiem Mass, or The Magic Flute.
  • 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.
  • The Smiths' The Queen Is Dead, though Morrissey and Marr both insist that their last album, Strangeways, Here We Come was their best.
  • For Mayhem, their second release, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, is often not only considered their Magnum Opus, but the Magnum Opus for the genre of Black Metal as a whole.
    • As for other Black Metal bands:
      • Burzum: Filosofem
      • Darkthrone: Transylvanian Hunger or A Blaze in the Northern Sky
      • Emperor: In the Nightside Eclipse
      • Immortal: At the Heart of Winter
      • Dimmu Borgir: Stormblast or Enthrone Darkness Triumphant
      • Gorgoroth: Under the Sign of Hell
      • Marduk: Opus Nocturne
      • Cradle Of Filth: Dusk...and Her Embrace or Midian
      • Celtic Frost: To Mega Therion
      • Venom: Welcome to Hell
      • Bathory: Blood Fire Death
      • Sigh: Scorn Defeat or Imaginary Sonicscape
      • Anaal Nathrakh: Hell is Empty...and All the Devils are Here
      • Blut Aus Nord: The Work Which Transforms God
      • Deathspell Omega: Si Momentum Requires, Circumspice
      • Sacramentum: Far Away From the Sun
      • Dissection: Storm of the Light's Bane
      • Samael: Ceremony of Opposites
  • 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.
  • With London Calling The Clash moved beyond Three Chords and the Truth, instead seeking influence from everything from 50's rock n' roll to reggae.
    • 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.
  • 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".
  • Sarah McLachlan's Fumbling Towards Ecstasy .
  • Sigur Rós' Ágćtis byrjun.
  • Opeth's Blackwater Park is considered by both the band and the fanbase as their magnum Opeth.
  • Rush's album Moving Pictures is generally considered theirs.
  • Def Leppard has either Pyromania or Hysteria (or possibly both) as their greatest work.
  • 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.
  • Alanis Morissette has yet to release anything as well-acclaimed as Jagged Little Pill
  • Public Enemy's second album, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back is generally cited to be their best and most influential album, but others give this label to their third album, Fear Of A Black Planet. "Fight The Power" usually wins for songs.
  • All of Gustav Mahler's works are masterpieces, but which is really his Magnum Opus is widely debated, and often comes down to personal preference. However, the strongest arguments can be made for his 8th symphony (owing to the fact that is takes some 600 performers to do justice), his final song cycle Das Lied von der Erde, or his 9th Symphony.
  • Mariah Carey's fans seem to be between Daydream and Butterfly.
  • Whitney Houston's, ironically enough, was her soundtrack album for The Bodyguard.
  • Benjamin Britten's War Requiem.
  • Meat Loaf has 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.
  • 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.
  • For the Barenaked Ladies, it's probably "Stunt", at least during the time that Steve Page was with the band. "Gordon" and "Barenaked Ladies Are Me" both have minority support, though.
  • Tchaikovsky's fans will usually say it's the 1812 Overture, or the Nutcracker ballet. Critics will also often submit Swan Lake, or his 4th or 6th symphonies.
  • Paul Simon's Graceland, which singlehandedly revitalized his career.
  • Stevie Wonder's Songs In the Key of Life
  • 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.
  • Bob Dylan has several candidates just on the virtue of having taken on so many different variations of his style in his career but usually Highway 61 Revisited, Blood on The Tracks and Blonde on Blonde are given this accolade, with Bringing It All Back Home also having a claim.
  • Bryan Adams' Reckless or Cuts Like A Knife
  • 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.
  • Catherine Wheel have Ferment on their belt, though some may say Chrome is better.
  • Cocteau Twins have Heaven Or Las Vegas and Treasure.
  • 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.
  • Slint's Spiderland almost single-handedly started the whole Post-Rock movement.
    • It's only "almost" because they share this distinction with Talk Talk, whose final two albums (Spirit Of Eden and Laughing Stock) collectively qualify as that band's Magnum Opus.
    • Now there's a third artist that's considered to be one of the first Post-Rock bands, 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.
  • 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.
  • Eminem's is The Marshall Mathers LP, or alternatively, The Eminem Show. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 cannot be denied either. Lose Yourself is widely regarded as his best song, with Stan as a close runner-up.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Many fans and critics agree that Ray of Light was Madonna's best work to date.
    • Like A Prayer also has been hailed as one of her masterpieces. Both albums are equally critically acclaimed.
  • Led Zeppelin's 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.
  • For the The Rolling Stones, it's Exile on Main Street.
  • Dave Matthews Band's Before These Crowded Streets.
  • Sade's Love Deluxe.
  • Hüsker Dü released two equally strong candidates in a row, Zen Arcade and New Day Rising. Both are brimming with excellent tunes and respectively set the precedents for post-hardcore and alternative rock.
  • For BECK, it's either Odelay or Sea Change.
  • Daydream Nation for Sonic Youth.
  • 13 Songs for Fugazi (or, to narrow it down to a single track, "Waiting Room").
  • Paradise Don't Come Cheap for New Kingdom
  • The National has Boxer, High Violet, Alligator and Trouble Will Find Me.
  • For a long time Mayhem's first "proper" album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, was 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.
  • Burzum's third album, Hvis lyset tar oss, is frequently considered their best and the defining template for the ambient black metal sub-genre.
  • Converge's fifth album, Jane Doe, is considered this, although their album Axe to Fall has been called this as well.
  • The Dillinger Escape Plan's debut album, Calculating Infinity, is considered this, much to the band's own chagrin.
  • 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.
  • Trout Mask Replica for most fans of Captain Beefheart.
  • Aqualung and/or Thick As A Brick for Jethro Tull.
  • Kanye West's is 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.
  • U2 is generally considered the 'American' sounding The Joshua Tree, but some consider it the 'European' sounding Achtung Baby;
  • Faith No More has 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").
  • The All That Remains album, The Fall of Ideals, is generally considered their best.
  • September is usually considered this for Earth Wind And Fire.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Curtis Mayfield with his soundtrack to the Blaxploitation film Superfly.
  • Asking a King Crimson fan what their best work is will vary depending on what era the fan is fond of. In The Court Of The Crimson King, Red and Discipline are among the more frequent contenders.
  • Coldplay has either the Even Better Sequel A Rush of Blood to the Head or New Sound Album Viva La Vida.
  • Billy Joel has Piano Man and The Stranger.
  • Love with Forever Changes. In fact, frontman Arthur Lee was deliberately aiming for this trope, thinking he was going to die.
  • For the death metal fans of 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tupac Shakur, as well as his fans, consider Me Against the World his best work.
  • For Dr. Dre, not only was The Chronic his best album, but its now considered one of the most successful cross-over rap albums in music history.
  • 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.
  • The Red Hot Chili Peppers fans will either tell you that Blood Sugar Sex Magik is their best album, or Californication.
  • 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.
  • White Pony is considered the best album by Deftones, while some fans suggest that Around the Fur was their best work.
  • Underworld: Beaucoup Fish.
  • For most Rage Against the Machine fans, either their Self-Titled album is their best work, or Evil Empire. While Battle for Los Angeles is their most critically acclaimed album.
  • Ask any Fall Out Boy fan what their favorite album is, and you're almost always going to get Take This To Your Grave.
  • For Mayday Parade, it's normally A Lesson In Romantics, although some fans consider it to be Tales Told by Dead Friends.
  • All of Can's first five albums are considered to be the band's best by many people. However, Tago Mago is the most picked of the albums, with Ege Bamyasi coming in second place.
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival with Cosmo's Factory.
  • Green Day has either Dookie or American Idiot.
  • For Daft Punk, it's either Discovery or Random Access Memories. Their soundtrack for TRON: Legacy is also held in high regard.
  • Fans of Arcade Fire 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.
  • 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.
  • Rust in Peace is widely considered to be Megadeth's best work, as well as one of the best Thrash Metal albums ever.
    • Peace Sells... also has its fans. Post-hiatus, Endgame is considered the best modern Megadeth release.
  • Scar Symmetry has Holographic Universe, widely regarded as one of the best Melodic Death Metal albums of the late 2000s.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • Gorillaz' Demon Days is their highest acclaimed album but in a case of personal preference for many fans it's ''Gorillaz''


  • 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 Africa.
  • 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.


    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 


Game Soundtracks

Game Consoles

    Visual Novel 
  • 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 Original 

YouTube Poops

    Western Animation 

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

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