Plaything? I should say not. It is my egg sac, my magnum opus
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
A few simple reminders to avoid endless personal and subjective debates or other problems:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 encyclopedias, 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.
- 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 Parvum Opus
, Dethroning Moment of Suck
and Fallen Creator
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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.
- The Venus of Milo is seen as one of the greatest statues in the world and one of the most famous idealizations of beauty.
- Andy Warhol: His Campbell Soup painting.
- James Mcneill Whistler: Portrait of the Artists' Mother.
Comic Strip Artists
Usually the first installment in most cases, though there have been exceptions.
- Dracula (Universal films): Though the Bela Lugosi one from 1931 is hailed as a classic, it's the Spanish version of that same film, from the same year that has risen to much favorable reviews under horror fans. The Spanish crew had the opportunity to look at the rushes of the Lugosi version and record the same scenes with much better camera angles and less problems with the censors.
- Evil Dead: Though the first one is popular, it's still a low-budget movie. The second one is generally deemed better in execution, because it takes all the best stuff of the first one and adds a lot of new ideas, all on a higher budget.
- Frankenstein (Universal films): The first one and the first sequel Bride of Frankenstein are equally considered great, with the second one often being praised as being better.
- Friday the 13th: Though the other films in the series are more guilty pleasures, it's Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives that's regarded very highly by both fans and critics.
- The Godfather: The first two films are considered part of the same epic saga and are equally brilliant cinema. People still discuss which one of the two is better, but many agree it's a tough competition.
- Godzilla: The 1954 version is still considered superior to all the increasingly more silly sequels that followed. Gareth Edwards's American remake from 2014 is considered to be a honorable adaptation.
- Halloween: Halloween (1978) remains the best installment, though the third one, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, received more acclaim in later years for being an original and subversive movie that just suffers from being attached to this franchise, without actually having the main franchise character Michael Myers in it.
- Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Temple of Doom is generally considered to be the most adventurous and The Last Crusade the funniest one. Still, both of them can't surpass the epicness and charisma of the first installment.
- James Bond: Goldfinger, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, Golden Eye, Casino Royale and Skyfall are considered the franchises best works, and finding a list of "Best Bond films" which exclude any, or most of these, is very rare. In terms of the best actor to perform the spy Sean Connery is still considered above anyone else.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe: Iron Man, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy are strong contenders.
- Monty Python: Of all the films the team released Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the most popular with the general audience, though their true masterpiece in terms of execution, comedy, script and even social commentary is Monty Python's Life of Brian, also their own personal favorite.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street: The first is generally seen as a horror classic, and likely the best film overall. However, the third film, Dream Warriors also has its fans, as does the seventh film, New Nightmare. Notably, all of these films involved Wes Craven as a Writer and/or Director.
- The Pink Panther: The first one is enjoyable in its own right, but it's The Return Of The Pink Panther that most fans enjoy the most.
- Rambo: First Blood. The first Rambo film is generally considered the best one, even having a totally different tone compared to the more action-packed, overly patriotic comic book violence war propaganda fantasies that followed.
- Rocky: The first one, which even won three Oscars.
- Scream: Either of the first two films, but definitely not the third. The fourth is an Acclaimed Flop.
- Spider-Man Trilogy: Spider-Man 2 (2004) is not only the most highly regarded and most successful of the trilogy, but it's also touted as one of the greatest superhero movies of all time.
- Star Wars: The original trilogy directed between 1977 and 1984 is still considered to be the best, with The Empire Strikes Back as the most critically and commercially acclaimed installment.
- Tarzan: Tarzan The Ape Man (1932), with Johnny Weissmuller.
- Terminator: A rare case in which both The Terminator (1984) and its sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) are seen as equally magnificent films.
- X-Men: X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) is the most highly regarded of the film franchise.
- 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!
- Aeschylus: The Oresteia.
- Edward Albee: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
- Aristophanes: Lysistrata
- Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot
- Bertolt Brecht: The Threepenny Opera and Mother Courage and Her Children.
- Anton Chekhov: Uncle Vanya
- Cirque du Soleil: the non-touring show "O" is generally regarded as the company's greatest achievement. Among the tours, Alegria holds this position. Both were written and directed by Franco Dragone, who now works independently of the company, and will probably serve as his dual magnum opuses for years to come despite such solo successes as Celine Dion's popular Las Vegas show A New Day.
- Noël Coward: Brief Encounter.
- Euripides: Medea.
- Dario Fo: Mistero Buffo
- Bob Fosse: Cabaret
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust
- Henrik Ibsen: Emperor And Galilean - he worked on it for four years before he released it as a Two-Part Episode.Brand and Peer Gynt'' are both written in the same vein, and in the same timeslot. The three plays could easily be reckoned the greatest achievements of Ibsen.
- Christopher Marlowe: The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus.
- Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman.
- Molière: Tartuffe.
- Harold Pinter: The Birthday Party.
- Luigi Pirandello: Six Characters In Search Of An Author
- Richard Rodgers And Oscar Hammerstein: The Sound of Music is often hailed as the frontrunner, although Oklahoma! wouldn't be out of the running. The men themselves called Carousel (Rodgers' favorite) and The King and I (Hammerstein's favorite) their best works.
- Edmond de Ronstand: Cyrano de Bergerac
- Jean Paul Sartre: No Exit.
- Stephen Schwartz: Wicked
- Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil: Les Misérables, the longest-running, most-performed work of musical theater ever written.
- William Shakespeare is an interesting case. The Bard wrote so many incredible, famous, and influential plays that scholars have quite a few options when debating which play was his greatest. Hamlet is a common contender, and is probably Shakespeare's most famous and most analyzed play, and is often cited as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, work of English literature ever. Meanwhile, King Lear started overtaking Hamlet in later years in consideration for "Shakespeare's Greatest Work" as judged by the Literature Professors of the world. Overall, the title of "Shakespeare's greatest play" tends to jump back and forth between Lear, Hamlet, and Othello.
- George Bernard Shaw: Pygmalion.
- Sophocles: Antigone and Oedipus the King
- Tom Stoppard: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
- August Strindberg: The Red Room.
- For Stephen Sondheim, it's either Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, or West Side Story, although he considers his best work to be Assassins.
- Tennessee Williams: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire
- Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest.
- 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.
- Cedar Point: Millennium Force, still the park's most iconic coaster. Gatekeeper may yet surpass it, but it's still too early to tell. In a park generally known as a roller-coaster Mecca, that's quite an achievement.
- 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.
- 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 Darwins 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: