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One-Hit Wonder

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/babylon_zoo_one_hit_wonder.jpg
Their biggest hit by a landslide.

"So many lovely melodies...
So many messages to convey...
But they don't care about any of these...
Play that one damn song
is what they all say."
Reel Big Fish, "One Hit Wonderful"

A one-hit wonder is an artist primarily known for one hit song. If they're lucky, their next single may chart as well, but despite the ubiquitous fame of their first hit, they never really take off.

It is not uncommon for a group to be a one-hit wonder then break up, allowing one or more members to become (more) successful solo acts. It is also not uncommon for the one hit to be atypical of their oeuvre. Also compare Tough Act to Follow and One-Book Author. Of course, if sufficient backlash is applied, they will Never Live It Down. Note that a one-hit wonder on the American charts may be a different story in other countries; many popular European artists, like Gary Numan and Frankie Goes to Hollywood charted only once in America. For that matter, many American artists like Queensr˙che have only charted once in their homeland but are popular in foreign markets such as Europe, Asia and Australia. Likewise, there are many artists who only once reached the mainstream Top 40, but are respected figures and even trendsetting within their genre; several such examples are listed below.

But usually, a "one-hit wonder" is defined by cultural impact rather than chart placements. For example, if an artist has a massive #1 hit, getting a #40 will technically disqualify them as per Billboard's definition of a one-hit wonder, but it's highly unlikely that the #40 will continue to be remembered over time and they will likely become a textbook example of such an artist (well-known examples of this situation include the cases of Chamillionaire, Tommy Tutone, Rockwell, and Vanessa Carlton). Their "second hit" doesn't have to only scrape the bottom of the top 40 to ensure they be remembered as such. In fact, there are a handful of artists who were massive in their prime, and even though they still had clearly defined Signature Songs, nobody would ever consider labelling them as one-hit wonders. however, as time goes on, the artists fall so hard into obscurity or the signature song's memetic status and ubiquity so overshadows their other work that their discographies are almost completely forgotten outside of the signature song. Thus, they are looked back upon as a one-hit wonder — acts like Vanilla Ice, Soulja Boy, Rick Astley, and even MC Hammer are commonly thought of as one-hit wonders for this very reason.

There are other artists, like Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead and Rush, who are well-regarded legends with plenty of classics under their belts, but through some fluke or stroke of luck, ended up with just one Top 40 hit a piece. Technically under Billboard's definition, these artists are one-hit wonders — The Other Wiki lists all of them in their meticulously sourced one-hit wonder lists. Some observers and music writers believe these acts don't count as one-hit wonders, merely artists that had one Top 40 hit and more of a piece of chart trivia than a specific label.

For further reading, and a good definition of who may and may not be a one-hit wonder, check out this 2012 article for The Village Voice. It largely focuses on the specific cases of Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen, both of whom are generally considered one-hit wonders despite the fact that their collaboration "Good Time" became a top 10 hit, but also looks at the term "one-hit wonder" from a broader aspect (for example, Rick Springfield, who had five top 10 hits but is still primarily known for his only #1 hit, "Jessie's Girl").

There are countless examples, so this article will only list a handful of representative samples. Compare No-Hit Wonder, wherein an artist manages long-term success without even so much as one big hit, and Two-Hit Wonder, where an artist is lucky enough to score a second hit. Also see Hitless Hit Album, where an artist has a hit album with no hit songs. Contrast Breakthrough Hit, where one hit leads to a string of later hits. Also compare Signature Song which is the biggest hit. May overlap with Small Reference Pools, especially non-music examples. Many of the artists listed here are mislabeled because they have a signature song but still had lesser hits. There have been rare instances where the band had a Top 40 hit, but it is not their most popular song and the signature song the band is known for didn't chart well or at all. Often, this is due to a chart technicality affecting the signature song, as Arlo Guthrie, the Rembrandts, and Fastball have seen.

Has nothing to do with One-Hit-Point Wonder and usually has little to do with a One-Scene Wonder, which is a small but very memorable role in a large work that may actually be by an A-list star (possibly because he or she is one).

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Music examples by genre:

    Blues 
  • J.J. Cale had only one top 40 hit in his career with 1972's "Crazy Mama". Overall, he's better known for writing the Eric Clapton classics "Cocaine" and "After Midnight".
  • Delbert McClinton is a true rarity, as he managed to be a one-hit wonder on three different charts with three different songs. First, he hit #8 on the pop charts in 1980 with the blues-rock song "Givin' It Up for Your Love". Then he got to #13 on Mainstream Rock Tracks in 1992 with "Every Time I Roll the Dice"note . Then he got to #4 on the country charts in 1993 as a duet partner on Tanya Tucker's "Tell Me About It". He remained a fairly popular artist regardless, having written Emmylou Harris's 1978 hit "Two More Bottles of Wine" in addition to winning a handful of Grammys.
  • Alannah Myles, though she had another Top 40 hit afterwards in the US, is mainly known only for her late-1989 Elvis Presley tribute song "Black Velvet", a #1 smash on the Hot 100 that was also a Top 10 hit in many other countries. Myles charted several more times in her native Canada (including 1992's "Song Instead of a Kiss", which topped the Canadian charts), but never saw the US charts again after "Black Velvet".
    • Coincidentally, the same label released a soundalike version by Robin Lee to the Country Music format, and that version ended up being her only big country hit as well. However, Lee had more songwriting success and was married to Ed Bruce's son Trey, who is also a songwriter.

    Christian 
  • Jars of Clay: This Christian alt-folk band had a massive crossover hit with "Flood" in 1996, reaching #37 on the pop charts and #12 on the Modern Rock chart, with their appearance on the latter chart being the first time the Modern Rock and Christian charts ever housed the same song at the same time (the effect of Not Christian Rock has made such crossovers much more common in later years). It's also been the only song of theirs to ever gain any sort of mainstream support.
  • P.O.D.'s "Youth of the Nation," a song inspired by the Columbine and Satana High School shootings, was their only hit on mainstream charts, reaching #28 on the Hot 100 in 2001. They narrowly missed having another Top 40 hit with their song "Alive" that same year: It peaked at #41. Although "Nation" was their only Top 40 hit, they're now remembered outside of the rock radio format as a Two-Hit Wonder for both it and "Alive".
  • Sixpence None the Richer reached #2 with their 1998 hit "Kiss Me" thanks to its appearance in She's All That. Their next single, a cover of The La's "There She Goes", peaked at #32 on the Hot 100, but it managed to go Top-10 on the AC charts. All their other followup singles flopped and are completely forgotten today.
  • dc Talk were one of the biggest names in Christian music in the late 80s and early 90s, and won four Grammy awards over the course of their career. But only one of their songs ever crossed over to the non-religious charts: "Just Between You and Me", a Top 30 hit on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in 1996.
  • Christian new wave singer Leslie Phillips had a ton of Christian chart hits in the mid-80s, but by the end of the decade, she had transitioned into a secular alternative rock career by signing to Virgin Records and changing her stage name to Sam Phillips (her childhood nickname). Despite critical acclaim for several of her secular albums, she only scored one chart single on the Billboard Alternative chart: "Holding On To The Earth", which made it to #22 in 1989.

    Christmas 
  • Jimmy Boyd had a novelty hit in 1952 with the Christmas classic "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus". Between its novelty stigma and the fact that Boyd was 13 at the time, the song cannibalized his career. He had a moderately successful acting career afterwards but never captured the stardom he had with his megahit.
  • Elmo & Patsy had a Christmas classic with "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer", first released in 1979, but nearly anyone would be hard-pressed to name any other release. Interestingly, Patsy isn't even on that song, so it's often just credited to Dr. Elmo. Despite its popularity (so popular that it even spawned an animated special), it never entered the Hot 100 until The '90s, and its highest peak on any chart was a mere #48 on Hot Country Songs in 1999. In Canada, the higher-charting version was a #20-peaking release by the Irish Rovers in 1982.
  • Jeff Foxworthy: Although the comedian best known for his "you might be a redneck" one-liners released several "songs" that included snippets of his comedy set to music, usually with a chorus from a country music singer, the only one that entered the country music top 40 was "Redneck 12 Days of Christmas", a half-song, half-recitation that he performed as a Solo Duet. (And unlike the others, it didn't "sample" existing standup work of his for the verses.) It also set a record for the highest-charting Christmas song on the country chartsnote .
  • Before he became better known as the original voice of Donatello, Barry Gordon had a #6 hit in 1955 with "Nuttin' For Christmas". He was only 6 at the time.
  • Bobby Helms will forever be known as the guy who did "Jingle Bell Rock". His other big hits "My Special Angel" and "Fraulein" have fallen into obscurity.
  • NewSong: "The Christmas Shoes" was a huge crossover hit (#1 AC, #42 pop, #31 Country), and they've been pretty silent outside their usual Contemporary Christian demographic ever since. Interestingly, a cover of "The Christmas Shoes" was also the only Top 40 country hit for the short-lived Girl Group 3 of Hearts one year later.
  • Gayla Peevey had her only hit in 1953 with "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas", which reached #24 on the Hot 100 when she was 10. She had a few later singles under her real name of Jamie Horton, but none were successful.
  • Song Trust, a project spearheaded by defunct independent Country Music label Giantslayer Records (which was owned by songwriters Rory Lee Feek and Tim Johnson), released a Christmas single under that name in late 2007. That song, "Bring Him Home Santa", was sung by an anonymous six-year-old girl, and proceeds from singles sales went to St. Jude's. Although other "Song Trust" material was released, none of it charted. Giantslayer folded in 2009 as Johnson died and Feek focused more on his work with his wife, Joey Martin Feek, in their duo Joey + Rory.
  • Vince Vance & the Valiants are known almost entirely for "All I Want for Christmas Is You" (not to be confused with the Mariah Carey song), which is one of the most-played Christmas songs in the Country Music genre. They got a tiny bit of buzz beforehand for their "Barbara Ann" parody "Bomb Iran" in 1980, but they are not the only act to have done a parody of that name.

    Classical 
  • 18th-century Italian composer Tomaso Albinoni has the dubious honour of being considered a one-hit wonder for a piece he didn't even write. "Albinoni's Adagio in G minor", frequently used as the background music for Tear Jerker scenes in films and television, was in fact written in the 1950s by Italian composer Remo Giazotto, who claimed to have based the work on a manuscript fragment recovered in 1945, but could offer no proof of this claim.note  The Adagio therefore qualifies Giazotto as a one-hit wonder rather than Albinoni (whose works are mostly known only by Baroque music enthusiasts).
  • You don't know who Euphemia Allen is, but if you ever took piano classes, chances are you were taught to play Chopsticks. This little waltz song was her only work, which she composed in 1877, at the age of 16, under the pseudonym Arthur de Lulli.
  • Although American composer Samuel Barber is moderately well-known in the classical community for his violin concerto and Symphony No.1, he is mostly remembered for the Adagio for Strings, which started life as the slow movement of his String Quartet in B minor. To put into perspective how much the Adagio has overshadowed its parent work, there are over 250 recordings of various settings of the Adagio (mostly the string orchestra version, but the choral setting, using as its text the "Agnus Dei" from the Catholic Mass, is also frequently performed and recorded), and just over a dozen of the complete string quartet.
  • Luigi Boccherini is mostly remembered solely for the Minuet in A major from his String Quintet in E major, Op. 11 No. 5, used prominently in such films as The Ladykillers among others.
  • Like his compatriot and contemporary Mouret, Marc-Antoine Charpentier is mostly known for a fanfare that has been adopted as a theme by a broadcasting organisation: the opening Prelude (Marche en rondeau) from his Te Deum in D major, used as the theme of the European Broadcasting Union and played before broadcasts of the Eurovision Song Contest, Jeux Sans Frontières, and any other programmes simultaneously broadcast across Europe by the EBU. Though he was very prolific, his other works are primarily known only to Baroque enthusiasts.
  • British composer Jeremiah Clarke, active around the turn of the 18th century, is today remembered mostly for writing the Prince of Denmark's March, nowadays a popular wedding tune and usually known incorrectly as Trumpet Voluntary. Making matters worse for him, it was long incorrectly attributed to Henry Purcell.
  • Today, French composer Paul Dukas is remembered mostly for writing The Sorcerer's Apprentice of Fantasia fame, although the fact that he was a fanatical perfectionist and destroyed or abandoned many compositions after he became dissatisfied with them means there is not much other music by which to remember him.
  • Julius Fucik is only remembered for his Entry of the Gladiators, the standard circus music.
  • The Danish composer Jacob Gade is only known for one work, the world-famous Tango Jalousie. Given that the royalties made him financially independent and allowed him to set up a handsome scholarship for young talented Danish musicians, he probably didn't mind much.
  • Engelbert Humperdinck (the composer, not the singer) scored a great success with his first opera, Hansel and Gretel. None of his later operas were anywhere near as successful, though the now-forgotten fairy-tale opera Königskinder was somewhat known in its day.
  • Austrian musician Anton Karas had an enormous hit in 1950 with the "Harry Lime theme" from the film noir The Third Man, a single release of which reached #1 in the US and became the first record to sell half a million copies. His other compositions are almost completely unknown outside a few devoted zither players.
  • Ruggero Leoncavallo's only well-known work is the two-act opera Pagliacci, which is often paired with Cavalleria Rusticana in a one-hit wonder double bill. (The song "Mattinata" is relatively well known, as it was written for and a favorite of Caruso.), In fact, Leoncavallo is mainly known not just for the opera, but for one moment in it (the aria "Vesti la giubba").
  • Pietro Mascagni is really only well-known for his one-act opera Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry), which was also one of his first major works.
  • Like Orff, French composer Jules Massenet is known only for a single movement from a work rather than a whole work. He's mostly known for "Meditation", a passage for solo violin and orchestra from his opera Thais, often used in film and television scores for emotional scenes.
  • Most of the works of French Baroque composer Jean-Joseph Mouret are not performed today. At least in the U.S., he's mainly known for the opening Fanfare-Rondeau from his first Suite de symphonies, used by PBS as the theme for the Masterpiece series (and also a popular wedding tune).
  • Carl Orff is known mainly for one work, his cantata Carmina Burana - after its premier Orff himself told his publisher, "Everything I have written before can be destroyed." Indeed, he's known mainly for the Standard Snippet from this, the opening (and closing) cantus "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi: O Fortuna", although "Gassenhauer" is also pretty well-known.
  • Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D major is perhaps one of the most famous and frequently performed classical works. Though some of his organ works are popular with organists, the overwhelming majority of the general population, if they know him at all, only know the Canon.
  • The only thing Amilcare Ponchielli is remembered for is "The Dance of the Hours" from his opera La Gioconda, which was both used in the original 1940 Fantasia and adapted by comedy singer Allan Sherman for his 1963 song "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh".
  • Juventino Rosas died when he was only twenty-six and of a handful of works he wrote, most people would only know Sobre las Olas.
  • Author Claude Joseph Rouget, called Rouget de Lisle, wrote plays, songs, essays and so on, but with so little success that he ended up in debtor's prison for a time and his works are now forgotten. Yet there are many streets named after him, monuments were erected in his honour, and his body was transferred to the Dôme des Invalides. All because of one song he wrote and of which few people remember more than the first verse. It is entitled War Song for the Army of the Rhine, but became famous as La Marseillaise.
  • Out of his many compositions, French composer and pianist Erik Satie has only one very famous piece: the Gymnopédie No. 1, used as ambient music for nostalgic, quiet scenery.
  • Paul de Schlözer might be the most triumphant example of a one-hit wonder in classical music. He is only known to have written two small pieces for piano, of which one Etude de concert Op. 1 No. 2 in A flat minor is a brilliant and extremely difficult piece often played as an encore by virtuosi. note 
  • Although the works of French composer Charles-Marie Widor are popular with organists, most listeners probably only know the concluding Toccata from his Organ Symphony No.5 in F minor, Op. 42 No. 1, a popular recessional.
  • Mason Williams was a talented comedy writer who wrote many of the most memorable sketches on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and was briefly the head writer for Saturday Night Live. He was also a talented classical guitarist, and he showcased those skills on his lone hit in 1968, "Classical Gas".

    Comedy/Parody 
  • Benny Bell is known only for his song "Shaving Cream", which is basically "Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: The Song". He originally recorded it in the 1940s, but after it gained fame on Dr. Demento's show, it was reissued and charted at #30.
  • Mel Blanc was a legendary voice actor. He was also a one hit wonder in 1951 when his song "I Taut I Taw a Putty Tat" hit #9.
  • British pop/rock band Boys Don't Cry reached #12 in 1983 with their genre-hopping novelty song "I Wanna Be A Cowboy", and never troubled the charts again.
  • Isaac Hayes is not a One Hit Wonder, but his South Park character Chef became one when his "Chocolate Salty Balls (P.S. I Love You)" peaked at #1 on the UK singles chart and Irish charts in December 1998. Say everybody, have you seen my Balls?
  • The Joe Dolce Music Theatre: "Shaddup You Face" became a million-selling number one in many countries, but nothing else he made could even chart, let alone become a major hit. The song is now particularly infamous because it kept Ultravox's much-acclaimed new wave ballad "Vienna" from reaching #1 in the UK.
  • Comedian Bill Engvall, like his friend Jeff Foxworthy, had some of his comedy routines mixed into songs, often with a chorus sung by a popular country artist or uncredited session vocalist. The only such recording that was a real hit was "Here's Your Sign (Get the Picture)", which remixed a series of "here's your sign" jokes off his debut album with a sung chorus by non-one-hit-wonder Travis Tritt. The single peaked at #29 on the country charts and #43 on the Hot 100, representing his only big hit (although "Here's Your Sign Christmas", a parody of "Jingle Bells" with original comedy bits, got some seasonal airplay).
  • Comedian and late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon is well known for his musical comedy, but he's only had one bona-fide chart hit to his name: "Ew!", a collaboration with will.i.am that made it to #26 on the Hot 100 shortly after he introduced it on The Tonight Show in October 2014.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen, in character as Ali G, scored a UK #2 hit with the Shaggy collaboration "Me Julie", from the soundtrack of Ali G Indahouse. It remains his only entry onto the charts.
  • The Goodies: They had a string of comedy hit singles in the 1970's that were a natural spin-off from their TV comedy show. What makes them a one-hit wonder is the fact that their first single, "(Do, Do, Do) The Funky Gibbon", a parody of disco dance crazes, was initially taken as a straight song in the USA and made it into the lower reaches of the Dance and Disco charts... before they realised... it remains the boys' only American chart success.
  • Merv Griffin. Known mainly as a talk show host, businessman, and the creator of the extremely popular game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!. But as a singer, his only hit was the novelty song "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts".
  • Larry Groce, who is primarily a country, folk, and children's music singer, had a #9 hit in 1976 with the novelty song "Junk Food Junkie".
  • Screamin' Jay Hawkins is technically a No-Hit Wonder, but his 1956 song "I Put a Spell on You" has become a rock and roll classic. Since it's the only song of his still remembered today, he is often considered a one-hit wonder.
  • Ray Stevens is by no means a one-hit wonder, with multiple successful songs in both country and pop. But as The Henhouse Five Plus Too, he had his only Top 40 hit doing a cover of "In the Mood" entirely in chicken clucks.
  • Despite many of their songs becoming viral hits, the only Billboard Top 40 entry for comedy troupe The Lonely Island was "I Just Had Sex", which peaked at #30. Despite this, the song is probably one of their less remembered songs today, especially when compared to singles that didn't make the Top 40 like "I'm On a Boat", "Jack Sparrow" or "Everything is Awesome".
  • Steve Martin has increasingly dedicated his career to music since the 2000s, and has had some success in the bluegrass scene. But before that, he had a single mainstream hit with "King Tut" (from his stand-up album A Wild and Crazy Guy) in 1978.
  • Mancunian folk singer/comedian Mike Harding had only one British hit, with a spoof C&W song called The Rochdale Cowboy, about a seriously geographically confused cowboy living in Rochdale, England.
    It's hard being a cowboy in Rochdale/Cos the spurs don't fit right on me clogs;''
    It's hard being a cowboy in Rochdale; 'cos folk all laugh when I ride past, on our Alsatian dog.''
  • Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, in character as their SCTV characters Bob and Doug MacKenzie, had a Top 20 US hit in 1982 with "Take Off". The recording was basically one long spoken-word sketch held together by a chorus sung by Geddy Lee. While both Moranis and Thomas subsequently had long and successful film careers, neither reached the pop charts again, in or out of character.
  • Morris Minor and the Majors: Their only big hit was the Beastie Boys parody "Stutter Rap (No Sleep Til Bedtime)". The followup, a Stock Aitken Waterman parody called "This Is The Chorus", did less well. In his book One Hit Wonderland, former member Tony Hawks explains that the first record sold to kids who wanted to wind up older siblings who listened to the Beastie Boys. The second record made fun of the music that said kids actually listened to, so it flopped. The group then had their own BBC sitcom, Morris Minor's Marvellous Motors, but it suffered from low ratings and only lasted one season.
  • Mr Blobby from the TV show Noel's House Party had a UK Christmas number-one single with his eponymous song, beating out Take That! for the spot, despite being dubbed one of the worst number 1 singles of all time. He did have a number 36 hit two years later with "Christmas in Blobbyland", but in hindsight he is seen as a one-hit wonder.
  • Napoleon XIV: "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" was a number 3 hit on the Hot 100 in 1966. Not only couldn't he score another hit, but the song didn't even have a proper flipside. Instead it was just "!aaaH-Ah ,yawA eM ekaT ot gnimoC er'yehT", which was just the song played backwards.
  • The Rabbit Joint are a rock band whose only claim to fame is a novelty song about The Legend of Zelda. It is commonly considered a System of a Down song due to the Serj Tankian soundalike lead singer. When it turned out that it wasn't by them, interest in the group vanished.
  • Comedian Johnny Standley had a #1 hit in 1952 with "It's In The Book", a comedic analysis of Little Bo-Peep. It was his one and only recording to ever chart.
  • Teletubbies: Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, and Po sold over a million copies in the UK with "Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh!", narrowly getting beaten out to Christmas number 1 by "Too Much" by Spice Girls, despite negative reviews, coming in third in VH-1's list of the worst song, behind Cliff Richard's "The Millennium Prayer" and the aforementioned "Mr. Blobby". They had no further hits.
  • Despite an influential career as a folk singer, Loudon Wainwright III had exactly one chart entry, with 1973's "Dead Skunk". Surprisingly, the song isn't even a Black Sheep Hit because he always had the propensity for throwing novelty songs onto his records.
  • Ylvis with the viral hit "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)" in the fourth quarter of 2013. They've released many other singles, but "Trucker's Hitch" is the only other one ever to have charted. Like most viral hit-makers, they almost certainly will not have a second hit.
  • John Zacherle, a famous television personality known for hosting a popular block of horror movies in the New York City and Philadelphia markets. He had a top ten novelty hit in 1958 with "Dinner With Drac" but never released a follow-up.

    Folk 
  • Ralph McTell is only known for his song "Streets of London," as shown here. His follow up "Dreams of You" cracked the top 40 a year later, but stalled at #36.
  • Gale Garnett, a folk singer born in New Zealand and raised in Canada, had only one hit with the Grammy-winning "We'll Sing in the Sunshine", a #1 AC and #4 pop hit in 1964.
  • The Proclaimers are known outside of the British Isles pretty much only for "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)".
  • The Lumineers 2012/2013 hit "Ho Hey" reached #3 in the U.S. They haven't made the Top 40 since. They've been luckier as an album and genre chart band: Their debut album went platinum and its follow-up topped the album charts. In 2016, their song "Ophelia", which made it to only #66 on the Hot 100, was named the top song for the year on the Billboard Alternative chart.
  • Peter Sarstedt, with "Where Do You Go To, My Lovely" in 1969, as shown here. Follow-up "Frozen Orange Juice" did crack the top 10 later that year, but was not the hit its predecessor was.
  • "Part of the Union" by The Strawbs was one of the biggest UK singles in 1973, and a UK no. 2. It is also a definite Black Sheep Hit, and despite the fact that "Lay Down" nearly hit the top 10 a few months earlier, a major crisis led to two departures in the band. However, they weathered the storm, and are still gigging and recording 35 years and 30 albums later.
  • British singer-songwriter Passenger (yes, it's just one guy) managed to cross the pond with the #5 smash hit "Let Her Go". He hasn't yet had another big hit in Europe, let alone North America.
  • Rusted Root are known almost exclusively for their 1994 song "Send Me On My Way."
  • Israel Kamakawiwo'ole was a legendary and very well-respected singer in his homeland of Hawaii, but to the general public is only really known for his cover of "Over the Rainbow".
  • Susan Aglukark, an Inuit from Manitoba, had a huge hit in Canada with the bilingual "O Siem" in 1995. The song was a crossover smash in Canada, reaching #1 on the country and AC charts, and #3 on RPM Top Singles. While she had a few other chart entries, most of them are very obscure now.
  • Danish guitarist Jorgen Ingmann is best known for his 1961 crossover hit "Apache" — and being one-half of the winning duo of the 1963 Eurovision contest.
  • Peter, Paul, and Mary are not one hit wonders, but Paul Stookey was as a soloist with his hit "The Wedding Song."
  • Barry McGuire is known almost entirely for his 1965 Protest Song "Eve of Destruction". McGuire became a born-again Christian in The '70s and recorded a few albums of Christian music.
  • Although George Ezra is incredibly popular in his native U.K., his presence on the American charts was restricted to "Budapest".
  • The Brothers Four, a folk-rock quartet from Seattle, had a #2 hit with "Greenfields" and no other major hits.
  • The Village Stompers, a group from Greenwich Village who played what was described as "folk-dixie", had a number of hits in 1963-1965, but are today only known for "Washington Square", a #2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and a #1 on the Adult Contemporary charts in September 1963.
  • Actor Bill Hayes, best known for his role on Days of Our Lives, had a #1 hit in 1955 with "The Ballad of Davy Crockett". His follow up stalled in the 30's and he never charted again.
  • Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler had a huge crossover in 1966 with "The Ballad of the Green Berets", a patriotic song that was obviously drawn from his real life experience as a soldier in the Vietnam War. It was a 5-week #1 smash on the Hot 100 and the biggest pop hit of 1966, as well as a #1 Easy Listening and #2 country hit. He charted only one other single, "The 'A' Team", but it has since been forgotten. Sadler later became a novelist before dying of a gunshot wound.
  • Asaf Avidan and the Mojos are a popular folk act in their native Israel, but their only hit outside of it was a 2012 remix of their 2008 song "One Day/Reckoning Song".
  • Finnish group Loituma became this thanks to Memetic Mutation. Their version of the Finnish folk classic "Ievan Polkka" ("Eva's Polka") from their self-titled 1995 album became a huge meme back in 2006 thanks to a random Russian LiveJournal user, who combined the scatting portion of the song with a brief looping clip taken from Bleach. So, "Leekspin" was born. Loituma even released a new single with the English title "Ieva's Polka" in 2006 to capitalize on the fad, but since the craze died down nobody cared anymore about them outside of Finland.
  • While there are many British artists who are stars in their home country, but only managed one hit in America, the reverse is true too. The best example of this is John Denver. In his native United States, Denver was one of the biggest music stars of the 1970s, with four #1 singles and a series of gold or platinum albums. Across the Atlantic in the UK, however, he only had one top 40 single: "Annie's Song", which went to #1 there in 1974. After that, he only had one other song ever hit the UK charts, when "Perhaps Love", a collaboration with famed opera tenor Plácido Domingo, made it to #46 in 1981.
  • Canadian folk pop group Walk Off the Earth had an international hit in 2012 when their cover of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" went viral - driven by its gimmick of five band members playing the song on the same guitar at the same time. The cover's novelty didn't translate into a career: While followup "Red Hands" was a minor hit on American adult alternative radio, the only other chart action they've seen since are a couple low-charting singles on the Canadian Hot 100.
  • The country and folk duo The Civil Wars were one of the most buzzed-about bands of the early 2010s; Their 2011 debut album Barton Hollow was critically acclaimed, went Gold and won them two awards at the 2012 Grammys. While they were riding high on the success of the album, they got a Top 40 pop hit in early 2012 through a feature credit on Big Name Fan Taylor Swift's song "Safe & Sound". But then the band's career came to a screeching halt: Due to creative and personal conflicts between its two members, the group effectively broke up while recording their self-titled second album. "Safe & Sound" ultimately wound up being their only entry onto the Billboard Hot 100, despite not being as well known as anything off their actual albums.
  • Canadian folk singer Indio scored a top ten hit on both the Canadian pop chart and the American alternative chart with his 1989 debut single "Hard Sun", which featured no less of an icon than Joni Mitchell on backing vocals. Then, just as the song was at the peak of its popularity, Indio more or less dropped off the face of the Earth. He had become disillusioned by the music industry and never recorded another album. The next time he popped up was in 2009, when he sued Eddie Vedder for changing the lyrics to "Hard Sun" in his cover version for the Into the Wild soundtrack.
  • Bruce Cockburn (pronounced "Co-burn") is highly regarded in the folk music world for his guitar playing and songwriting, and has racked up several hits in his native Canada. Below the border in America, however, he's only had one hit single: 1979's "Wondering Where the Lions Are", which made it to #21.
  • The Irish Rovers have recorded for more than 50 years, but they only made an impact with the Shel Silverstein-penned "The Unicorn" in 1968. In Canada, they were slightly more successful with "Wasn't That a Party", credited as just The Rovers, but success was limited after that.
  • South African folk quintet Four Jacks and a Jill took their song "Master Jack" to #18 on the US pop chart in 1968. Their followup "Mister Nico" topped out at #98 and they never made the Hot 100 again, although they did have a few more Top 20 hits in South Africa.
  • The Springfields had several hits in their native UK, but just one became a hit across the Atlantic in the United States, when "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" made it to #20 in 1962. Interestingly, it failed to chart back home in Britain. A few years later, member Dusty Springfield left the band to start her own solo career and became a 1960s pop music icon.

    Funk 
  • Cameo had a massive crossover hit in 1986 with "Word Up!", which hit #6. While their direct follow-up "Candy" did manage to hit #21, it's virtually unknown to those outside their audience.
  • Eddy Grant: If you know any of his songs, it's likely "Electric Avenue", which hit #1 in 1982. However, he had more hits internationally.
    • Before he went solo, Grant was the guitarist for the 1960s band The Equals, who were one of the few mixed-race British rock bands of the era. The band had several hits in the UK, but just one in the US: "Baby Come Back", which made it to #32 in 1968. Another one of their songs, "Police on My Back", is better remembered for the 1980 cover version by The Clash.
  • Technically, The Ides of March are a one-hit wonder with their 1970 hit "Vehicle" (#2), but in Chicago, they had other hits on local radio ("You Wouldn't Listen", "Superman", "L.A. Goodbye"). The Ides of March's lead singer and main songwriter (Jim Peterik) later joined Survivor.
  • Kentucky-based electro-funk group Midnight Star had several hits on the R&B charts, but their sole #1 "Operator", proved to be their only pop crossover at #18. After the group disbanded, members and brothers Reginald and Vincent Calloway formed a duo of their own called Calloway. The group had a massive #2 pop hit with "I Wanna Be Rich", but their momentum dried up not long afterwards and they turned to production work.

    Jazz 
  • Dave Brubeck, with "Take Five". He is well known in jazz circles for his other songs as well, but "Take Five" has become his signature song by a considerable margin.
    • The fact that this song actually was written by his saxophonist Paul Desmond doesn't help Brubeck much in this respect.
  • Bill Chase was a jazz musician who had a cult following but never tasted mainstream success, tragically dying in a 1974 plane crash at 39. His only hit, recorded with his band Chase, was 1971's "Get it On."
  • Boots Randolph's only Top 40 hit was "Yakety Sax" in 1963. The song was popularized through its use in The Benny Hill Show, and by extension, has become a tune used to automatically make anything funny.
  • King Pleasure (born Clarence Beeks), an early master of vocalese, is best known for "Moody's Mood for Love", a 1952 classic which added lyrics to James Moody's alto sax improvisation of "I'm in the Mood for Love" recorded in 1949.
  • Pat Metheny is an icon of the jazz fusion genre, has won a mind-boggling 20 Grammys, and often rates highly on lists of the greatest guitarists of all time. He scored his only American Top 40 appearance in 1987, when "This Is Not America", a collaboration with David Bowie, made it to #32.
  • Country-pop band Restless Heart is no one-hit wonder, with multiple hits on the country, Hot 100, and AC charts. But their 1993 single "Tell Me What You Dream" was the only major chart entry for Canadian smooth-jazz saxophonist Warren Hill, who was credited for his solos and appeared in the song's music video. Being an instrumentalist, Hill was largely limited to his own genre after that.

    K-Pop 
  • For 15 years, PSY has been one of the most popular musicians in South Korea, with such hits as "Bird," "Right Now," and "Champion." Overseas, he is best known for his smash hit song from 2012, "Gangnam Style", and pretty much nothing else. Although its 2013 followup "Gentleman" was a #5 hit on Billboard and has over a billion plays on YouTube, it fell off the charts almost immediately afterwards, and it's very unlikely that PSY will ever be known for anything else given the massively memetic nature of "Gangnam Style". 2014's "Hangover" (featuring Snoop Dogg) debuted at #26 before dropping off, while 2015's "Daddy" spent one week at #97.
  • 2NE1 is a very popular Girl Group in Korea, and K-Pop fans in the west, but are only known for "I Am the Best" outside their audience due to its use in western media (namely for being included in Dance Central 3, an episode of So You Think You Can Dance, and the commercial for Microsoft's Surface Pro 3.)
  • Wonder Girls became the first ever South Korean artist to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 when their song "Nobody" made it to #76 in 2009. Although they were incredibly successful in Korea, and popular with Western K-pop fans before and after its release, it remains their only entry on any American singles chart.

    Latin 
  • Quite possibly the quintessential one-hit wonder is Los del Rio, who you know as the duo who released the scourge on humanity known as "Macarena" and absolutely nothing else. They were a well-known flamenco duo in their native Spain, and had been performing together since the early 1960s; the song was such a phenomenon that it made the two middle-aged singers incredibly wealthy within a few months. Although they never had a global hit again — not even charting in the Latin countries again — they've continued to record and perform to the present day. Additionally, it's not the original version that we all know and love (or hate). The well-known version is actually a remix by The Bayside Boys, probably because it added English lyrics. The original version of the song also charted on the Hot 100, peaking at #23. A third version of "Macarena", called "Macarena Christmas" also hit the Hot 100 and went top 5 in Australia. There was also a cover version by Los del Mar at the same time, which proved to be their only hit.
  • "Heaven" by Los Lonely Boys. They had two more minor chart entries on the AC and Adult top 40 charts, but "Heaven" will forever be the only song most will recognize them by. The corresponding album is also one of the more notable 21st-century aversions of the Loudness War.
  • Son By Four - A popular Puerto Rican salsa group, their only hit in the English-speaking world was the top 40 "Purest Of Pain," a remake of their Spanish song "A Puro Dolor."
  • In 1999, German producer Lou Bega added word to mambo standard "Mambo No. 5" with later hit #3 in the US and spent 20 weeks at #1 in France. Other than that, nothing.
  • Enrique Iglesias is definitely not a one-hit wonder, but Desember Bueno and Gente de Zona, two of the featured artists on his 2014 hit "Bailando", are one-hit wonders. Both acts have been fairly popular in their native Cuba, and the latter later scored some hits on the Latin charts, but neither came close to the success of "Bailando" since.
  • Kaoma are only known for their 1990 hit "Lambada" and nothing else.
  • The Chakachas were a Belgian group of Latin studio musicians who were popular all throughout Europe, but only made a dent on the international charts with the 1971 instrumental "Jungle Fever".
  • Basque singing group Mocedades were entered into the 1973 Eurovision song contest with "Eres Tu — Touch the Wind". Although they finished in second, the song became a massive worldwide hit. Naturally, all further success was limited to Spain.
  • In his native Spain, Miguel Ríos is one of the most revered musicians of all time. Internationally, he's only really known for his remake of "Ode To Joy", titled "A Song of Joy", which hit #14 on the Hot 100.
  • Argentinean fusion rock group La Mosca Tsé-Tsé exists since 1995, but the only song of theirs that was a success outside their country borders was "Para no verte mas", which gained good airplay in 2000.
  • Santana isn't a one-hit wonder by any means, however R&B duo The Product G&B is known solely for providing the vocals of the 10-week chart-topper "Maria Maria". Their only other top 40 was a feature on "Got To Get It", a minor Sisqo hit released around the same time.
  • Brazillian guitar duo Los Indios Tabajaras only had one hit in America — a version of "Maria Elena".
  • Shakira is not a one-hit wonder, but some of her collaborators have been:
    • "La Tortura" was the sole American hit for Latin singer Alejandro Saez, although he's a big deal on the genre charts and south of the border.
    • Freshlyground are an iconic folk band down in South Africa, but otherwise are only known for singing backup on "Waka Waka".
    • "Loca" provides a double example. The Spanish version is the only hit of El Cata, a Dominican singer, who while popular in his homeland, never quite made it big elsewhere. He had another later hit collaboration with Shakira with "Rabiosa", but it didn't chart on the pop side. Meanwhile, the English version was the only American hit of Dizzee Rascal, a British rapper who is certainly not a one-hit wonder in his homeland. Strangely enough, the song was never released in the UK.
  • The Blackout All-Stars, a one-off supergroup consisting of several veteran Latin musicians, scored a Top 30 hit on the Hot 100 in 1996 with their cover of Pete Rodriguez' "I Like It Like That". The cover had been recorded two years prior and it had a spike in interest due to its use in a Burger King ad. The recording was also the first and only time that legendary Latin jazz drummer Tito Puente ever ventured into the US Top 40.
  • Gerardo had a hit in 1991 with the Latin-rap song "Rico Suave". While "We Want the Funk" was also a top 20 hit, it was quickly forgotten.

    March 
  • Edwin Eugene Bagley wrote many marches, but he's most well known for National Emblem, probably the most famous American march not written by John Philip Sousa.
  • "Under the Double Eagle/Unter dem Doppeladler" by Joseph Franz Wagner. Even martial music buffs would be hard pressed to name another piece by him. The encyclopedic Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians can, but just the one.

    Ragtime 
  • During his lifetime, Scott Joplin's one and only hit was his 1899 breakthrough "Maple Leaf Rag", though he continued to write and publish rags until his death in 1917, always marketed as being "from the composer of the Maple Leaf Rag". (He also attempted to branch out into more "serious" music by writing a couple of operas, but these were even bigger failures than his follow-up rags.) In retrospect, thanks to his music being featured in The Sting and the subsequent ragtime revival of The '70s, a much larger library of his work has become remembered by modern audiences, including one of his lesser works, "The Entertainer", even supplanting the "Maple Leaf Rag" in the popular consciousness. (His operas remain niche works, but have been staged and are appreciated for their ambition at a time when Joplin's race was an impediment to being taken seriously as a "legitimate" artist.)

    Reggae/Ska 
  • Ini Kamoze topped the Billboard charts in 1995 with "Here Comes the Hotstepper". His follow-up single "Listen Me Tic" made it to just #88 and he never charted again after that.
  • Snow topped the Billboard charts for a whopping seven weeks in 1993 with his Reggae meets Hip-Hop song "Informer", and became the best-selling reggae song of all time despite the fact that nobody could understand what he was saying. While his follow-up "Girl I've Been Hurt" charted in the Top 20 (peaking at #19), it's widely considered to be a Creator Killer. All songs since then have failed to chart at all. The fact that Snow was in jail at the time it was released, and couldn't actually leave his native Canada to tour the world at the height of his popularity, certainly didn't help. Also featured in the song was producer and old-school rapper MC Shan, who contributed a guest rap verse that gave him his only hit as well... or rather, it would have, had he actually been credited for his contribution.
  • Nina Sky, an all-female duo from New York, had a #4 hit in 2004 with "Move Ya Body". That was also their only song to chart on the Hot 100, not counting a guest appearance on N.O.R.E.'s #12 "Oye Mi Canto", which wasn't their hit and is mostly forgotten today; thus it doesn't disqualify their status as a one-hit wonder. By extension, Jabba the featured artist on the song is also a one-hit wonder.
  • MAGIC!, a Canadian reggae group fronted by well-known songwriter Nasri Atweh, hit number one for six weeks with "Rude," but a massive backlash against the song and the band took place almost immediately afterwards. Thus, MAGIC! never even hit the Bubbling Under charts with any of their other songs. Only thirteen other artists can claim such a dubious honor. And given the fact that "Rude" was so left-field a hit, they're unlikely to ever chart again (although their followups managed modest success in their native Canada). It's telling that, not even a year since "Rude" became a massive hit, they've been reduced to a support act for Maroon 5.
  • OMI had a massive chart-topping hit in the summer of 2015 with a remix of his 2012 song "Cheerleader", which topped numerous charts including the United States. However, it was seen as too much of a left-field novelty for consistent success and OMI had no public image whatsoever. His follow-up "Hula Hoop" flat-out bombed in most countries (Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Australia, Austria and Belgium being the exceptions; in the U.S. it missed the entire Hot 100), and his album Me 4 U only debuted at #51, making it one of the lowest selling albums to house a #1 hit (and it placed behind, of all people, Stryper, a christian hair-metal band whose only Top 40 hit came in 1987); that's not even taking into account that the peak was inflated by streams and single sales (most of which came from, unsurprisingly, "Cheerleader" itself), when in actuality it completely failed to hit the top 100. His third single, "Drop in the Ocean" (featuring fellow one-hit wonder AronChupa) bombed everywhere (even harder than "Hula Hoop"). In fact, Felix Jaehn, the DJ behind the remix, has fared far better than OMI, having scored a massive European hit of his own with his cover of Rufus and Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody (Loves Me Better)", and has quickly climbed up the electronic music scene. That being said, Jaehn remains a one-hit wonder in the U.S.
  • Kevin Lyttle managed a #4 hit in 2004 with "Turn Me On". It was his only ever entry on the Hot 100.
  • R. City looks to be headed in this direction. While they're successful songwriters, the Virgin Islander sibling duo had their first bonafide hit as musicians with 2015's "Locked Away" (featuring Adam Levine), which went Top 10. However, since Adam Levine is the reason it charted, it's mostly associated with him and/or misattributed to his band. Given how "well" this situation worked out for Mark Ronson (see the pop subpage) and being yet another act in the Nico & Vinz/MAGIC!/OMI mold, combined with the fact that R. City doesn't have any following in the mainstream and that their album What Dreams Are Made Of was released to little fanfare, it was hardly surprising that their next single "Make Up" made no noise on the charts, and thus they have next-to-no chance of ever scoring a successful follow-up.
  • Although Michael Franti of Michael Franti & Spearhead had a few minor hits in the U.K. in the 90s, most people in North America probably can't name anything he's done besides his 2009 #18 hit "Say Hey (I Love You)".
  • Although he hit the Top 40 several times, probably the only song that anyone could name by Johnny Nash is "I Can See Clearly Now", his sole #1 hit.
  • UK group Hotshots had their only hit in 1973 with a ska version of "Snoopy vs. The Red Baron". The original version by The Royal Guardsmen had also been their only big hit a few years earlier. The sequel song "Return of the Red Baron" scraped the top 40 a few months later.
    • While in the US, the Guardsmen are remembered pretty much only for "Snoopy vs. The Red Baron," both "Return of the Red Baron" and the non-Snoopy related "Baby Let's Wait" (a Covered Up version of a song originally recorded by The Rascals) were top 40 hits there. The song "Snoopy's Christmas," however, is also fondly remembered (had Billboard not restricted Christmas songs to a separate chart in The '60s, "Snoopy's Christmas" probably would've given them a second Top 10 hit).
  • Despite being one of the most influential and important artists in Jamaican music, Desmond Dekker only managed a single Top 40 hit in the US, with his classic 1968 single "Israelites". The song is considered to be one of the earliest hits in the then-nascent reggae genre. Dekker had several other hits in the UK.
  • Musical Youth had an international smash in 1982 with "Pass the Dutchie". The song topped the charts in several countries around the world, and made the Top 10 in the United States. While the band racked up several other hit singles in their native United Kingdom and neighboring Ireland, "Dutchie" was their only hit in the United States or Canada.
  • Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers scored their only major international pop hit in 1988 when "Tomorrow People" made it to #39 in the US and #22 in the UK. At the same time, Ziggy and his siblings and bandmates Stephen, Sharon and Cedella became the first members of the Marley family to ever have a Top 40 single in the US; Their legendary father Bob got no further than #51, and their brother Damian would only manage to reach #55 when his own career took off in the mid-2000s. Despite having no further pop success, both Ziggy and Stephen have remained superstars in the reggae world.
  • Wayne Wonder has been recording since the late 1980s, but his first hit didn't come until 2003, when "No Letting Go" charted all around the world, including #11 in the US and #3 in the UK. His follow-up "Bounce Along" was only a hit in the UK and he hasn't made any chart since.

    Spoken Word 
  • In 1974, Canadian news anchor Byron MacGregor recorded "The Americans", a commentary written by Canadian broadcaster Gordon Sinclair. The recording consisted solely of him reading the commentary with an instrumental backing of "America the Beautiful" performed by an orchestra. This recording went to #4, and he never saw chart action again. A version by Sinclair was also released ("The Americans [A Canadian's Perspective]"), which stalled at #24.
  • Wink Martindale had a big hit in The '50s with the often-covered "Deck of Cards". Martindale never had another chart hit, but he later became famous as a Game Show host, most notably Tic-Tac-Dough.
  • The year 1971 begat a pair of #8 spoken word Hot 100 hits by somewhat similarly-named artists Tom Clay recorded a record called "What the World Needs Now Is Love/Abraham, Martin, and John", which combined clips of the two hits with his narration and interview clips of JFK, MLK, and other important '60s icons. A few months later Les Crane released a narration of the spiritual poem "Desiderata". The poem, which was thought to be an ancient text, was actually written by a little known Indiana writer named Max Ehrmann, and after a lawsuit his family got royalties from the song.
  • During the heat of the 1972 Presidential Election, a novelty group called The Delegates was formed to create the record "Convention '72." It consisted of a fictional convention between the many Presidential candidates of the year, depicted via snippets of popular songs of the time in the "break-in" style popularized by Dickie Goodman.
  • Australian film director Baz Luhrmann is credited as the artist of the 1998 hit "Everbody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", but it's an (understandable) misconception that he is the performer on the track. The actual narrator on the track is voice actor Lee Perry, who reads Mary Schmich's "Wear Sunscreen" essay (aka "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young"). Luhrmann was merely the producer of the song, and the person who came up with the idea of setting the essay to music. The single was a massive international hit, but Luhrmann went back to directing immediately afterward.
  • In 1967, then-Senate Majority Leader Everett Dirksen scored a Top 40 hit with "Gallant Men" a recitation of a patriotic poem he had written backed by music. He was the first sitting United States Senator to score a pop hit. Although Dirksen recorded several spoken word albums, "Gallant Men" was his only chart entry before his death in 1969.
    • Around the same time, comedian Bill Minkin created an impersonation of him as Senator Everett McKinley alongside a Robert F. Kennedy parody called Senator Bobby and recorded a single featuring two covers of the Troggs' "Wild Thing", with the Kennedy impression on one side and the Dirksen impression on the other. With the Bobby version getting lead billing, "Wild Thing" also went top 40.
  • Veteran radio broadcaster Victor Lundberg had a Top 10 hit in 1967 with "An Open Letter To My Teenage Son", a patriotic, and often histrionic, pro-Vietnam draft monologue that contrasted sharply in tone with the rest of the Top 40 in the week that it peaked on the Billboard Hot 100. No less than eight response records were made, including one by Dick Clark. Lundberg never returned to the charts after the single's run,

    Surf 
  • Boulder, Colorado-based group The Astronauts had only one charted hit with "Baja", which reached #94 for one week in July 1963. None of their other singles charted and only the first of their nine albums charted (Surfin' with the Astronauts, which featured "Baja", at #61).
  • "Pipeline" by The Chantays. This surf rock classic won them the #4 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and an appearance on The Lawrence Welk Show (of all shows!), but none of their follow-ups charted.
  • The Rumblers had one minor hit in 1963 with "Boss", which peaked at #87 in February 1963. All of their other releases failed to chart.
  • "Wipe Out" by The Surfaris, which managed to chart thrice on the Billboard: #2 in August 1963, #16 in July 1966 and #110 in August 1970. The follow-up, "Point Panic", did chart at #49, but that one is largely forgotten outside the surf rock fanbase.
  • The Trashmen, a surf rock band from Minneapolis, had two top 40 hits, the #4 "Surfin' Bird" and the #30 "Bird Dance Beat", but today are remembered only for the former, especially due to its constant usage in Family Guy. Younger audiences have forgotten that it was even a hit rather than a Seth MacFarlane original or an obscure song he dug up, or that it was memorably used two decades earlier in Full Metal Jacket.

    Swing Revival 
  • "Zoot Suit Riot" by The Cherry Poppin' Daddies released in 1998. It's their best known song, having peaked at #32 on the U.S. Billboard Top 40 Mainstream, and hit the top 20 of the Modern Rock and Adult Top 40 charts. It just barely missed the top 40 of the Hot 100, however.
    • This song is an interesting example because first and foremost, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies were a ska band. They did occasionally wander into swing and jazz on their albums here and there, but "Zoot Suit Riot" is probably among their most swing influenced songs. It originally appeared as a new song on Zoot Suit Riot, a compilation of all the swing-oriented songs that had appeared on their other albums. When the song became a hit, so did the album, and now they're identified as apart of the Swing Revival fad forevermore.
  • The Squirrel Nut Zippers were a similar case. Their musical style was more diverse than just "swing revival", but their one hit, the top 20 rock hit "Hell," ended up associating them with the genre.
  • Italian Nu-Jazz duo Gabin had a hit in 2002 with their single "Doo Uap, Doo Uap, Doo Uap". They still exist and a couple of their songs were used in films such as Fantastic Four (2005), but none of their other songs gained the same acclaim and recognition.

    World Music 
  • After having struggled in the Israeli pop music scene for nearly a decade, rocker Haim Zinovich felt that nobody would ever take him seriously, and effectively disappeared by the end of the '90s. In 2000, an Israeli talk show announced that they have booked a singer with a very unusual backstory: he was a man who lost use of his legs and nearly burnt to death when his house caught on fire. Dubbing himself HaSaruf, or the Burnt Man, his debut single "Hevel HaChen, Sheker HaYofi" was an instant hit on Israeli radio, and Israelis rushed out to buy his mysterious debut album. After his big television appearance, HaSaruf unmasked himself to reveal that he was Zinovich in disguise all along. The ploy worked big time, as his album sold over 400,000 copies, becoming one of the best selling in the country's history, and "Hevel HaChen" was named the fifth-biggest hit of 2000. Unfortunately, his popularity waned considerably afterwards as the novelty had worn off; although he had a few more minor hits and released one more album under the HaSaruf name, they failed to live up to the success of his debut, and the project was shelved not long after. Zinovich and his songwriter Tomer Biran then started to make dance-funk music together under the name "Zino & Tommy"; while their music made appearances on The Sopranos and in several hit movies like Click and RV, they never really seeked getting hit singles in Israel or anywhere else.
  • Somalian-Canadian singer K'naan's only international success is "Wavin' Flag" (which, despite not actually being a big hit, is well-known due to commercial associations with Coca-Cola, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign). Before it, he had a minor hit on American alternative radio with "If Rap Gets Jealous", which featured Kirk Hammett on lead guitar, but that song fell short of the Billboard Alternative chart. His later song "Is Anybody Out There?" (a collaboration with Nelly Furtado) also scraped the bottom of the charts, but it's completely forgotten even in Canada. An incident where he infamously bashed Kendrick Lamar didn't help his chances of scoring another hit.
  • Legendary South African singer Miriam Makeba's only American hit was her signature smash "Pata Pata", which reached #12 in 1967, ten years after she first recorded it. The song became one of the most famous "world music" songs of all time and ultimately became a Standard Snippet for African pop music as a whole.
  • Israeli pop singer Ofra Haza had a surprise worldwide hit in 1988 with her dreamy update of the 17th century Hebrew poem "Im Nin'alu". In addition to being a smash all across Europe (including reaching number one in four countries), it was also a Top 20 hit on the Billboard Modern Rock charts in the United States. It was also Haza's only hit outside of Israel.
  • Canadian Celtic singer Loreena McKennitt scored a Top 20 hit on both the Hot 100 and the alternative chart in 1997 with a remixed version of her song "The Mummers' Dance". Although this was the only time one of her singles made the American charts, she's continued to have a strong cult following, and she has three Gold-certified albums.

Non-music examples:

    Acting 
  • See also: I Am Not Spock
  • Maria Falconetti was a stage actress with only two very minor film roles before starring in The Passion of Joan of Arc. The film, and her performance, are ranked among the best in history, but her experience working on the film was so terrible that she returned to the stage and never took another film role again.
  • Ellen Pompeo had some bit parts in some films and TV shows, but after she landed the lead role of Meredith Grey in Grey's Anatomy in 2005, she hasn't gotten a single other acting credit. Based on her statements in interviews and convention panels, this is by choice, and she has no desire to act after Greys finishes.
  • Most of the main cast of the Nickelodeon show Hey Dude! had never acted anywhere prior to the show, and never did again after it ended. Only three of the main actors (one of them being Ben Stiller's wife Christine Taylor) went on to have acting careers beyond the ranch.
    • This is in fact true of most Nick shows of the 1990s—with rare exceptions (namely Melissa Joan Hart, Kenan Thompson and Blake Sennett) the vast majority of the channel's child actors dropped off the map after serving their time on Nick.
  • While the cast of the original Saved by the Bell had careers long after the series ended (with varying successes), Dustin Diamond, Lark Voorhies, and Dennis Haskins are still known almost exclusively as Screech, Lisa, and Belding, respectively. However, the one-season actors (Ed Alonzo and Leanna Freel), the newcomers from The College Years and the majority of the actors from the "The New Class" were, for the most part, never heard from again. Even the ones who still acted afterwards didn't really do anything memorable (with the exceptions of Bianca Lawson ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and Sarah Lancaster ("Chuck")). Isaac Lidskey, who played Screech-clone Weasel, probably didn't mind too much considering he graduated from Harvard law school at 19 and eventually worked with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at 28 despite becoming legally blind.
  • Carrie Henn, who played Newt in Aliens, has never had another acting role.
    • Entertainment Weekly's 2011 Reunion Issue elaborates (it features the Aliens cast). Henn was bullied after her movie role, and thus never again wanted to act. She's now a schoolteacher.
  • Jeremy Black, who played the infant Hitler clones in The Boys from Brazil, has his only film credit with that movie - IMDB lists a TV appearance, but he really focused on theater.
  • Another infant, 3 years old at the time, Oliwia Dąbrowska, was the girl in red in Schindler's List. Steven Spielberg asked Dąbrowska not to watch the film until she was eighteen, but she watched it when she was eleven, and was horrified. Upon seeing the film again as an adult, she was proud of the role she played, although she never has acted again.
  • Mary Badham's debut role was Scout Finch in the film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, for which she was nominated for an Oscar. She appeared in a few other roles before retiring from acting at 14. She went on to become an art restorer and a college testing coordinator, though she had a small role in an independent film in 2005.
  • Danny Lloyd first appeared in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining as Danny Torrance. He played only one other small role in a TV film before quitting acting and becoming a teacher.
    • Also, the actresses who played the naked girl in the bathtub and the old hag she turns into never did anything else before or after.
  • Lots of horror and slasher roles:
  • Nia Vardalos came out of nowhere in 2002 with My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which she wrote and starred in, and which subsequently became the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all-time. She fell as fast as she rose with a number of flops (the My Big Fat Greek Life television show, Connie and Carla, My Life in Ruins, Larry Crowne). In 2016, she returned with My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, which did decently at the box office, but was thrashed by critics and quickly forgotten, and as a result didn't do very much to re-establish Vardalos as either an actress or writer.
  • All of the child actors from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie Bucket, turned down a three-film contract and became a veterinarian afterwards; Augustus Gloop remains Michael Bollner's only credit; Paris Themmen's only other acting credit besides Mike Teavee was a small cameo in Star Trek: Voyager; Denise Nickerson appeared on Dark Shadows, The Brady Bunch, and The Electric Company (1971), but is still best known as Violet Beauregarde; while Julie Dawn Cole had a long, steady career on British television, Veruca Salt is her only notable character.
    • Happened again with the child actors in the 2005 adaptation. The only ones that have successful careers outside that film are Freddie Highmore (Charlie) and AnnaSophia Robb (Violet). Jordan Fry (Mike) had a voice role in Meet the Robinsons, but nothing else notable. Philip Wiegratz (Augustus) has no other credits outside some small films in his native Germany. Julia Winter (Veruca) has no other credits at all.
  • Liam Aiken's only notable role is as Klaus Baudelaire in A Series of Unfortunate Events.
  • Several non-professional actors have been cast in a film that remains either their only role, or their only role of note:
    • Harold Russell's film debut in The Best Years of Our Lives netted him two Oscars, the only time two Oscars have ever been awarded for the same performance.note  It would be 34 years before he had another film credit; his two remaining credits were very minor roles in since-forgotten movies.
    • Dr. Haing S. Ngor, a Cambodian gynecologist, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his only major film role, The Killing Fields. Along with the aforementioned Harold Russell, he is one of only two non-professional actors to win an Academy Award.
    • Wrestler Stanislaus Zbyszko was cast in the 1950 noir Night and the City because the director, Jules Dassin, wanted to teach a wrestler to act rather than teach an actor to wrestle. He had actually seen Zbyszko when he was young and wanted someone like him, without knowing Zbyszko was still alive. It turned out Zbyszko even lamented the transformation of wrestling into showmanship the same way his character in the movie, Gregorius, did.
      • For similar reasons, light-heavyweight boxing champion Antonio Tarver was cast as Mason "The Line" Dixon in Rocky Balboa, which remains his only professional acting role to date - Sylvester Stallone thought it would be easier to teach a boxer to act rather than train an actor to box convincingly. He might have come to this conclusion after casting boxer Tommy Morrison in Rocky V.
      • In the film Miracle, about the 1980 gold-medal winning US Olympic hockey team, many of the actors who portrayed members of the team were real-life hockey players; Billy Schneider played his father Buzz Schneider, for instance. (For that matter, coach Herb Brooks is played by Kurt Russell, who was briefly a real-life pro baseball player before turning to acting full-time.)
    • Michael Wallis, a historian and journalist who has written 17 books on the Western United States, only has one acting role: the voice of the Sheriff of Radiator Springs in Cars, its sequel and other spinoff media. He was selected for this role because of his expertise on the area in which the film is set.
    • Pixar seems to like selecting writers for major roles in their films. Sarah Vowell, a well known pop culture writer, essayist and frequent contributor to This American Life, was cast in the role of Violet in The Incredibles. The casting director of the film selected her after hearing this story she told on This American Life. She never actually auditioned for the part, as she is not a professional actress and The Incredibles remains her only film role.
    • Zekeria Ebrahimi and Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada,the Afghan child actors who played young Amir and young Hassan respectively in The Kite Runner had never acted before and never acted again. In fact, acting in the movie caused major problems after shooting finished, because many questioned sending them back to Kabul, where their families feared attacks because of the homosexual themes in the movie. They were relocated to the United Arab Emirates.
  • Jaye Davidson (technically a two hit wonder). Played Dil in The Crying Game, a role for which he was nominated for an Oscar. His only other famous role was Stargate, which he took only because he was offered 1 million dollars. He then went back to his daytime job of modeling.
  • Dustin Lance Black was an obscure indie screenwriter who struck gold when he won an Oscar for Milk. Since then, he's mostly written critically-panned films such as the unreleased What's Wrong With Virginia? (which he also directed) and J. Edgar.
  • Rochelle Davis, who played Sarah in The Crow, decided to retire from acting shortly afterwards because she was a close friend of Brandon Lee who died during filming. She now works as a massage therapist. She would later act again in a minor role in an independent film "Hell House" 16 years later.
  • Karen Lynn Gorney is best known for playing Stephanie in Saturday Night Fever and absolutely nothing else. She didn't act again until 1991, as a literally nameless character in the Michael J. Fox movie The Hard Way.
  • Outside his native Australia, where he has enjoyed lasting success as a comedian, Paul Hogan is only known for his role as Crocodile Dundee.
  • Star Wars:
    • Mark Hamill is not a one-hit wonder as a voice actor. However, Luke Skywalker is his only major live-action character.
    • Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and Peter Mayhew remain known to the public almost exclusively as C-3PO, R2-D2, and Chewbacca respectively.
  • Although he has acted in other films and TV shows, Scott Fuller from From Dusk Till Dawn is Ernest Liu's only major role to date.
  • Nikki Blonsky whose most famous role was Hairspray. It doesn't help that her other roles tried to play up her weight which is a very hard thing to build a career around.
  • Most actors from Power Rangers have not had any success with any other projects. Exceptions are Amy Jo Johnson, Johnny Yong Bosch (even then, it's his only major live-action role), Bryan Cranston (who voiced two monsters), Eka Darville, Emma Lahana, Cerina Vincent, Rose McIver, Brandon Jay McLaren and Adelaide Kane.
  • According to various speeches he's made, Jack Gleeson plans to quit acting as soon as his Star-Making Role as Joffrey Baratheon on Game of Thrones wraps up, due to his dislike of celebrity culture.
    • Most of the actors who star on the show have yet to find a second hit; even then, those who have found non-Thrones success were established before the show began (i.e. Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Natalie Dormer, Sean Bean), and nevertheless aside from Bean their parts on Game of Thrones are easily their best known roles. Fortunately, since most of these actors' careers are just getting started, there's a lot of time to escape it.
  • Quinton Aaron, best known for playing Michael Oher in The Blind Side, has acted in other movies, but nothing of note.
  • No matter what Steve Burns does, he will always be known as Steve from Blue's Clues. Donovan Patton, who played Joe, also hasn't had any success after the show ended.
  • Michael Richards will always be known as Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld... if he's lucky.
  • The only role Alicia Silverstone is remembered for today is Cher Horowitz from Clueless. That, and her Star-Derailing Role in Batman & Robin.
  • Of the nine main cast members of Arrested Development, only a few have gone on to superstardom on their own. But the only one who is considered a one-hit wonder is Alia Shawkat, who played Maeby.
  • Adrien Brody is best-known for his Oscar winning role in The Pianist. Most other films that he's been in have been small independent films, but The Pianist was the only one of note.
  • British expat model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's only noteworthy role is as Carly Spencer in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the Suspiciously Similar Substitute love interest for Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) after Mikaela broke up with him in-between films (ie Megan Fox was fired). For the longest time, it was her only acting credit period until Mad Max 2015 (but even then, she won't be the lead heroine). Fortunately, it doesn't take away from her fame as a model. The fact that she's dating action movie star Jason Statham also helps.
  • Most of the actors who have played Superman (i.e. George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, Tom Welling, Brandon Routh) have not really found much success in other roles. Henry Cavill was lucky enough to have The Tudors on his resume beforehand.
    • Routh broke out of the one-hit wonder mold in when he played fan favorite Ray Palmer on Arrow.
    • One of Superman's voice actors, George Newbern, also broke this mold by getting a very prominent role as Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII.
  • Allison Mack's only role of note is as Chloe Sullivan on Smallville.
    • Michael Rosenbaum averted this through his voice acting career, but Lex Luthor is still his only real claim to fame in live-action.
  • Tatum O'Neal had a moderately successful career as a child actor in the 1970s but today people only remember her for her role in Paper Moon due to winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar at the age of 10.
  • Unlike other J. J. Abrams leading ladies such as Jennifer Garner and Evangeline Lilly, Anna Torv of Fringe hasn't really found further success outside the show.
  • Kimberly J. Brown is mostly remembered for starring in the first 3 Halloweentown movies. She had some other roles, such as a regular stint on Guiding Light for a couple years, and the lead in Quints (another Disney Channel movie), but nothing else.
  • Rainn Wilson has acted in several TV shows and movies, but he will forever be best known as Dwight Schrute from The Office (US).
  • Party of Five was a big hit back in the '90s, but is today remembered for most of its cast landing better known roles after the series' conclusion... that is, except for Scott Wolf, who completely vanished from public consciousness after the show's conclusion.
    • Because Party is largely forgotten today, Neve Campbell, who played middle child Julia, is nowadays remembered almost solely as Sidney Prescott from the Scream series.
  • Jason Mewes isn't really known for any other role besides Jay. Kevin Smith, who played Silent Bob, fortunately avoids this by his non-acting work, but Mewes wasn't so lucky.
  • Jon Heder's only memorable role was as the title character of Napoleon Dynamite. He followed it up with The Benchwarmers and Blades of Glory, neither of which are particularly well-regarded today, and completely vanished from the spotlight afterwards.
  • So closely associated is Daniel Radcliffe with Harry Potter that it ultimately proved detrimental to his post-Potter career. Aside from one film that did about $50 million, nothing else he's been in has hit even $5 million. In fact, aside from Emma Watson and Robert Pattinson, the other child actors from the film have fared even worse. Rupert Grint hasn't made even a million dollars combined with his non-Potter work, Tom Felton's only other notable role was in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (although he did score a recurring role on The Flash (2014), so things might be looking up for him) while other stars like Matthew Lewis, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, the Phelps twins, and Harry Melling have done next to nothing of note otherwise.
    • The professors themselves are often portrayed by recognizable British character actors, but many of them are considered one-hit wonders for Potter.
  • New Zealand actress Keisha Castle-Hughes is only known for her role in Whale Rider, which made her the youngest actress at the time to be nominated for a Lead Actress Oscar. She had a a minor role in Revenge of the Sith and her career took a nosedive after The Nativity Story proved to be a critical and commercial disaster. Around the same time she also got pregnant at the age of just 16; something not really that big of a deal in her native New Zealand, but in the U.S. it produced such a backlash from Moral Guardians that it ensured no studio would go near her for any mainstream family-friendly projects. She tried to make a comeback with Game of Thrones, but her performance was considered underwhelming, especially by the show's standards, and is today one of the very few Game of Thrones actors' whose part on the show has not become their most famous role.
  • Gloria Swanson was one of the biggest stars of the silent film era who managed a comeback in 1950 with Sunset Boulevard. That being said, today she is commonly considered a one-hit wonder for her role in the latter, as it's the only movie people remember her by, while her silent film work is long forgotten.
  • Despite being a superstar throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Al Jolson is known by modern-day audiences only as Jack Rubin in The Jazz Singer, the first feature-length motion picture with sound.
  • Anthony Perkins played Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 thriller Psycho. He became so closely associated with the Bates character that his career got destroyed due to chronic typecasting.
  • Mira Sorvino is known for her Oscar-winning role in Mighty Aphrodite and not much else, except maybe Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.
  • Linda Blair played Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist and went straight to low-profile made-for-TV movies afterwards.
  • The Mickey Mouse Club: Very few Mouseketeers have been successful; Annette Funicello was by far the biggest star to come from the 1950s version, although a few others like Johnny Crawford and Paul Petersen have had minor success. For the '90s version, you had Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, Keri Russell, J.C. Chasez, Tony Lucca, Matt Morris, and Deedee Magno. That being said, the latter five are almost never brought up when talking about the show's famous alumni, and it's not uncommon for Gosling to be ignored in favor of the show's musical breakouts.
  • Nearly all of the child actors on Barney & Friends, who were for the most part Dallas natives, disappeared from the spotlight afterwards. The only ones who went on to any success were Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Kyla Pratt, Madison Pettis, Trevor Morgan and Debby Ryan. In the public consciousness, it's only widely known that the former two are ex-Barney stars, and the fact that they met on the show and became best friends afterwards. Of the latter four, Ryan is the only one who's still well-known, but she was never nearly as big a star as Gomez or Lovato and few people rember she was on the show, as her part was a minor background role whereas the rest were part of the main kids cast. Of the dinosaur actors, the only one who ever did anything else notable was Michaela Dietz, who voiced Riff; even then, she is known for only one other role — Amethyst in Steven Universe.
  • Borderline example with Kate Hudson. Although she was a highly prominent celebrity in the 2000s, her public perception has gone down the MC Hammer path, with her breakout role of Penny Lane in Almost Famous being the only one she is still remembered for. Nearly all of her other movies were hugely panned by critics (even if they were box office hits), and they have all long faded into obscurity, while Almost Famous went down the opposite path.
  • Thora Birch appeared in many films as a child actress before landing American Beauty. Her career stagnated afterwards, and although she appeared in the cult hit Ghost World she's still remembered almost solely for American Beauty.
  • Jennifer Beals is best known for her role in Flashdance... and that's about it.
  • Most of the actors in American Pie didn't go on to do much afterwards, with Shannon Elizabeth seen in the eyes of the public as the most triumphant example. That being said, Jason Biggs was previously the franchise's most notorious laughingstock until he landed a memorable role on Orange Is the New Black.
  • Mean Girls:
    • Jonathan Bennett is best remembered for his role as Aaron Samuels in the teen comedy and not much else.
    • Borderline. Lindsay Lohan starred in numerous successful movies from the late-'90s to mid-'00s before her fall from grace later in the decade. However, many would agree that her role as Cady Heron was her only memorable performance, even if her other movies were successes (the Freaky Friday remake actually outgrossed Mean Girls despite being far less iconic today).
  • Ariana Grande's only successful role as an actress was as Cat Valentine in Nickelodeon's Victorious (which she wasn't even the star of). She had a few bit roles, and starred in the quickly cancelled spin-off Sam & Cat, but nothing major. That being said however, she has transitioned into a pop superstar with numerous hits and certified albums under her belt, and has never looked back since. As a musician, she is most certainly not a one-hit wonder. In fact, she's easily the most successful music act ever produced by Nickelodeon.
  • Borderline: Ray Liotta was fairly successful back in the '90s, but modern-day audiences know him for playing Henry Hill in Goodfellas and not much else.
  • Alfonso Ribiero is only known for playing Carlton Banks.
  • Taylor Lautner started out as a moderately successful child/teen actor and voice actor (The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl being his most notable credit), but he was far from celebrity status until he was cast as Jacob in the The Twilight Saga, which established him as a teen heartthrob in the early 2010s. Since then however, he's gotten no other major roles, and is still best known as Jacob in Twilight.
  • Despite her three-decade-long career and being a tabloid fixture, Tori Spelling's only notable role is Donna Martin on Beverly Hills 90210
  • Most of the actors on One Tree Hill barring Sophia Bush and Chad Michael Murray are known almost exclusively for their roles on the show. While Jana Kramer is nowadays better known as a singer, Alex Dupre remains her only notable acting role.
  • While most actors on The O.C. have broken into other roles (or famous beforehand in the case of Tate Donovan), Mischa Barton is mostly known for playing Marissa Cooper. Same goes for Autumn Reaser and Taylor Townsend.
  • Adam Copeland may have had a long wrestling career, but he's basically known for one acting role: Haven. For a while, Batista was in the same situation with Guardians of the Galaxy, but he's now also known for his role in Spectre.
  • Aside from Judy Garland, the entire main cast of The Wizard of Oz are known exclusively for that one movie:
    • Ray Bolger was primarily a Broadway actor when he landed the role of the Scarecrow. Because he got caught up doing USO shows overseas, he worked very sporadically in Hollywood throughout the 1940s, only making five films. After that, he hardly got any roles at all, focusing more on TV.
    • Jack Haley, the Tin Man, was a well known actor not only on film, but also on radio and vaudeville. He primarily worked for RKO, so his switch to MGM was an anomaly. While he got more frequent work than Bolger post-Oz, he quit acting after refusing to participate in a version of Seven Keys to Baldpate.
    • Bert Lahr played the Cowardly Lion. Aside from that, his work in Hollywood was scarce and unsuccessful. Like Bolger, he focused primarily on stage acting afterwards.
    • Frank Morgan, who played the title role, was a contracted character actor for MGM, and thus his roles were rarely, if ever, leads. Sadly, Morgan died only ten years after Oz at the young age of 59.
    • Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch of the West, had a far more successful acting career than most of her co-stars, but she was never quite able to shake off her "Wicked Witch" image. She self-parodied her role during the last decade before her death.
    • Billie Burke was probably the most successful, as she had been in the acting industry since the 1910s. Burke was a major Zigfield Follies star and also appeared in other classics like the Topper series and grabbed an Oscar nomination for Merrily We Live. But she'll always be best known as Glinda the Good Witch.
  • Hallie Kate Eisenberg appeared in a few movies, but is today only remembered for being the "Pepsi Girl" in the company's late-'90s/early 2000s ad campaign. Other than that, she's best known for being Jesse's sister.
  • Although he had a number of supporting roles before (mostly in Westerns), James Arness remains remembered largely as Marshall Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, with his filmography after being cast as Dillon being quite limited. He also had a lead role in the TV series of How the West Was Won, which garnered a cult following in Europe but failed to make much of an impact in the US.
  • While her Charmed co-stars have continued to find success afterwards, Rose McGowan is still known mostly as Paige Matthews.
  • Ilan Mitchell-Smith will always solely be known for playing the "other" kid in Weird Science (Wyatt), though a few might also recognize him as the lead in the film adaptation of The Chocolate War. He's now a professor of Medeival Studies at the University of Houston, and also a major tabletop gamer.
  • The kids in Roseanne. Lecy Goranson will forever be known as the original Becky, although she did have a small role in Boys Don't Cry, all her other roles are in indie films and shorts. Sara Gilbert has had it a little bit better, with recurring roles on ER and The Big Bang Theory, along with co-hosting The Talk on CBS, she's still best known as Darlene. DJ is Michael Fishman's only major credit. Averted with Sarah Chalke (Becky in later seasons), who's probably better known these days for her work on Scrubs.
  • Ahney Her, the Chinese girl of Hmong ethnicity who appeared in Gran Torino alongside Clint Eastwood, impressed several critics with her performance. She later appeared in Night Club, a 2011 low budget film that nobody saw despite the presence of Ernest Borgnine and Mickey Rooney, and then nothing else so far.
  • Patrick Renna is best known for his role as Ham in The Sandlot or better yet the “You’re killing me Smalls” guy.
  • Just like with music, several actors have died before being able to take new roles leading them to this status.
    • Heather O’Rourke had just completed the Poltergeist trilogy when she was misdiagnosed and died at the age of 12
    • Cory Monteith died of a drug overdose before production of Glee’s fifth season.
    • George Reeves allegedly committed suicide not long after The Adventures of Superman ended.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Sailor Moon remains Naoko Takeuchi's only successful manga series. While some of her other work has gained followings, most of that is limited to the Sailor Moon fandom, and she has yet to have any other title match the success of Sailor Moon. The closest any series came to it was The Cherry Project... and that only lasted three volumes....
  • Yasumi Yoshizawa debuted as a professional manga cartoonist with Dokonjou Gaeru in 1970. To date that's his only successful series, spawning two anime series and a ton of merchandising in Japan. Since ending it he created dozens of other mangas but none of them are well-known.
  • Masashi Kishimoto will always be known as "the man who created Naruto". He's working on other material since he finally finished the series after fifteen years, but it's unlikely it'll be anywhere close to Naruto's level, seeing as how it's one of the most successful manga/anime series of all time.
  • Mizuki Kawashita is only known as the creator of Strawberry 100% and all of her other works are completely obscure. It can't be helped by the fact some of these works got canceled, like Ane Doki.
  • Nobuhiro Watsuki was able to find success in Rurouni Kenshin, and only that. The series went on for 6 years, received an anime and some movies, and the characters are nearly always used in Weekly Shonen Jump crossovers. He has attempted to write other series, like Gun Blaze West and Buso Renkin, but they never received enough acceptance to go on for more than two years. Watsuki has since become aware of this and now just writes the occasional Rurouni Kenshin spin-off 1- or 2-chapter story.
  • Eiichiro Oda believes he'll be known only for One Piece (and with it being one of the longest Long-Runners in manga history and being such a cultural icon that the manga's bestselling status got it into the Guinness World Records, he's extremely likely to be correct), so once he finishes One Piece, he plans on doing only short stories until he retires or dies and will never attempt another long series again.
  • To this day, Yu-Gi-Oh! remains as the only succesful manga created by Kazuki Takahashi. His other works are very obscure one-shots or didn't last more than two volumes.
  • Captain Tsubasa is this for Yōichi Takahashi, inspiring 3 anime series and several games, and it is still very popular in Latin America and Europe. His other creation, named Hungry Heart: Wild Striker did not have the same impact and its manga version barely lasted 6 volumes, in comparison with the 37 volumes of Captain Tsubasa.
  • Gantz is the only really sucessful manga created by Hiroya Oku to date, having received an anime adaptation, three films, a spin-off series and some light novels, while his other works are either obscure and/or short-lived. Although this may change, as his current manga, Inuyashiki, is starting to get some fame.

    Directing 
  • Michael Cimino is remembered for directing the 1978 Oscar-winning Vietnam War epic The Deer Hunter, the 1980 career-destroying disaster that was Heaven's Gate, and nothing else.
  • Sofia Coppola is primarily remembered for Lost in Translation, and perhaps The Virgin Suicides, but that's about it. Since then she's only directed the critically-reviled Marie Antoinette and a couple of obscure independent films. Other than that the only other thing's she's known for are being Francis's daughter and her critically reviled performance in The Godfather Part III.
  • Michael Curtiz directed hundreds of films throughout his career, but he'll always be best remembered for Casablanca.
  • Until she landed Wonder Woman (2017), Patty Jenkins was only known for directing Monster. In fact, in-between working on Monster and Wonder Woman she was probably best known for a film that she ended up not directing, namely Thor: The Dark World.
  • The Neveldine/Taylor directorial team made a big splash with Crank, and got an okayish reaction with its sequel, but all their subsequent works were critical and commercial disasters. Their partnership dissolved after Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, which ironically was the highest-grossing film they worked on (though still failed to break even and got a terrible critical reaction), and they've since fared no better as solo directors, both working on No Budget horror films that have gotten little to no attention.
  • Mel Stuart directed about ten films in his lifetime, but is only remembered for one: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
  • Director Mark Waters made about twelve films in his career, but Mean Girls (see the Acting section above) tends to be the only one still fondly remembered today.
  • Franc Roddam had one big hit with Quadrophenia, and did continue working quite regularly for the following decade, but didn't direct anything else of note before figuring that he'd be better off retiring and living off the royalties from MasterChef.
  • While he already had quite a few big-name screenplay credits under his belt, Kurt Wimmer really came to attention and picked up quite a fanbase with Equilibrium. His next film, Ultraviolet quickly wiped out that fanbase, and he hasn't directed another film since.
  • Josh Trank came out of nowhere in 2012 with Chronicle, a found footage film that grossed $100 million and got an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. Unfortunately, he followed it up with Fantastic Four (2015), one of the worst-reviewed and most disastrous superhero movies of all time. With no films in the pipeline, Trank's career is all but dead and he is considered the modern-day equivalent to Cimino.
  • Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanches, the co-directors of The Blair Witch Project. They never collaborated again and neither of them are known for anything else.
  • Jim Sharman will always be best known for directing The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  • While Christian Nyby was one of the most prolific editors in Hollywood, The Thing from Another World is his only notable directing credit.
  • Legendary character actor Charles Laughton directed the 1955 film noir The Night of the Hunter. It was his one and only directorial credit.
  • Cinéma vérité filmmaker Ross McElwee has had a long career, but he's never really repeated the success or acclaim of Sherman's March.

    Literature 
  • See One-Book Author for other examples.
  • Joseph Heller is best-known for Catch-22, but wrote many novels that nobody read (including Catch-22's sequel, Closing Time). Some years later, someone put it to Joseph Heller that despite his lengthy bibliography, he'd never written anything else as good as Catch-22. Heller's response: "Who has?"
  • Only one of Mary Shelley's novels is well-known today: Frankenstein, or the modern Prometheus. Although she was taken very seriously in her day, nowadays it's either Frankenstein or being the wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley (even though it was her efforts after his death that kept him from being considered a One-Hit Wonder)....
  • Andrzej Sapkowski is only known for his The Witcher series, despite writing more books and essays. This caused some Creator Backlash.
  • Aldous Huxley wrote several novels, dramas and poems, but is famous for Brave New World.
  • Margaret Mitchell. Gone with the Wind.
  • Harper Lee with To Kill a Mockingbird. For most of her life, it was the only book she ever published, and to this day authors like Stephen King wonder why, since it was brilliant.
    • As of 2015, the book received a sequel, taking away her One-Book Author status; although whether or not it is still a one-hit wonder remains to be seen.
  • James Allen was a British philosophical writer known for his inspirational books and poetry and as a pioneer of the self-help movement. He is mainly remembered for his literary essay As a Man Thinketh.
  • J.D. Salinger and The Catcher in the Rye was his only novel, although he wrote many short stories and novellas such as Franny and Zooey.
    • Since his death, it's been speculated that he wrote a number of novels (somewhere in the lower double digits, depending on who you ask) that were never published. One can only hope they eventually see the light of day and remove his One Hit Wonder status.
  • G.V. Desani and All About H. Hatter.
  • Dow Mossman and The Stones of Summer.
  • Menander wrote dozens of Ancient Greek comedies, but the only one that survives in its entirety is Dyskolos ("The Grouch").
  • Matthew Lewis was actually a prolific novelist and dramatist with several titles to his name, but then as now he is mostly associated with The Monk, his first novel written at the age of nineteen. It even gave him the nickname "Monk" Lewis.
  • 99.99% of people couldn't name a book by Bram Stoker other than Dracula even if their life depended on it.
  • Emily Brontë with Wuthering Heights. Of course she died before she could have another. Same deal with her sister Charlotte, a.k.a. the woman who did Jane Eyre.
  • Carlo Collodi was actually an Italian soldier, but all we remember about him today is the fact that he wrote Pinocchio.
  • Chuck Palahniuk, in a textbook example of Tough Act to Follow, has struggled to escape the shadow of his debut novel, Fight Club. (And never mind the numerous fans who don't even realize it was a book first.) He's self-deprecatingly acknowledged this himself, and in 2015 went so far as to release a sequel to the book, nineteen years after the original's release.
  • Stephenie Meyer is known for the Twilight series, and little else. She also wrote The Host, which was a bestseller on author-name recognition alone, but it didn't sell anywhere near as well as Twilight, its film adaption was a flop, and the sequels have been stuck in Development Hell.
  • Suzanne Collins is only known for The Hunger Games trilogy. She wrote another series, The Underland Chronicles, which languishes in almost complete obscurity.
  • George R.R. Martin has written many books, but he's known to the general public almost exclusively for the A Song of Ice and Fire series, or more specifically "the books that became Game of Thrones". It doesn't help that since he started the series, virtually his entire bibliography has consisted of stories set in the same universe. There's the Wild Cards series and several anthology books but he's actually the editor of them.
  • J. K. Rowling will forever be known as the woman behind Harry Potter. For quite a while, the series, plus three defictionalized books from the Potter universe, was literally her entire body of work. Her follow-up The Casual Vacancy wasn't very well-received, and while her Cormoran Strike was seen as an improvement from Vacancy, it's still seen as a far cry from Potter.
  • The pseudonyms Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon will always be associated with the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, respectively. Their actual authors wrote plenty of other books under other names, but nothing nearly as successful.
  • Science fiction writer Tom Godwin is known for his short story "The Cold Equations" (one of the most famous sci-fi stories), but his other work is pretty much forgotten today.
  • Frank Herbert was recognized as the author of Dune but it turns out that he wrote other novels as well, except none of them reached the same level of success as Dune.
  • While Art Spiegelman is a well known figure in the comics industry, mainstream audiences will only remember him solely for Maus.

    Miscellaneous 
  • A strange case: Gerald Mayo was very infamous, for many reasons, in the early 1970s. You should see the number of news articles printed about him at the time; it was huge. Nowadays, he is only known for something he was not famous for in the 1970s: suing Satan.
  • Jim Gaffigan still feels obligated to do his "Hot Pockets" bit for fans despite it being one of his earliest bits.
  • John Anderson was a fairly obscure member of the House of Representatives when he mounted an independent Presidential campaign in 1980. Dissatisfaction from some voters over the choice between the unpopular Jimmy Carter and the staunchly right-wing Ronald Reagan gave Anderson 6% of the final vote, but rather than becoming a major national political figure, he spent the rest of his life being remembered as "the guy who ran against Carter and Reagan".

    Poetry 
  • William Ernest Henley's literary reputation rests almost entirely on his single poem 'Invictus'.
  • Joyce Kilmer, remembered almost exclusively for the poem "Trees".
  • Ernest Thayer is only known for "Casey at the Bat".
  • Mary Elizabeth Frye's only known poem is "Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep".
  • Clement Clarke Moore was a prolific writer of poetry, prose and scholarly works, but 'Twas the Night Before Christmas is all he's remembered for.
  • "High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee, though that was a case of Author Existence Failure since he was killed in a military aviation accident before the poem became famous.

    Sports 
  • Jimmy Glass, the English football player responsible for keeping Carlisle United F.C. in the Football League by scoring a goal in the last seconds of the final match of the 1998-99 season against Plymouth Argyle F.C. Made all the more remarkable by the fact that he was Carlisle's goalkeeper, and thus would ordinarily have been at the opposite end of the pitch, and at the time he was on loan from Swindon Town F.C. Carlisle were unable to negotiate a long-term contract for Glass, and he returned to Swindon and retired at the end of the following season. His subsequent biography was titled One-Hit Wonder.
    • For people who don't understand football, he was basically playing in one of the lowest professional divisions in England, had an unremarkable career as a player, and after having his contract expire, retired to become an office worker.
  • Roger Maris, forever known as the man who hit 61 home runs, isn't even in the Hall of Fame because other than his MVP years of 1960 and '61 (the year which he hit 61 homers), he was an above-average but hardly spectacular baseball player.
  • Washington Redskins rookie running back Timmy Smith was only in the starting lineup for Super Bowl XXII due to injuries to the Redskins' other running backs. Smith made the most of that opportunity, rushing for a Super Bowl record 204 yards with two touchdowns in the Skins' 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos. Smith's career lasted only 15 more games before he was out of the NFL in 1990.
    • Similarly, David Tyree of the New York Giants. A bottom of the depth chart receiver who managed to catch a ball from Eli Manning by pinning it to his helmet and never did anything else of note.
    • Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Norwood is a unique example, being known for one failure rather than an accomplishment. Norwood is famous for a missed 47-yard field goal at the end of Super Bowl XXV, and pretty much nothing else.
    • Mike Jones of the St. Louis Rams is basically defined for a tackle he made of Titans receiver Kevin Dyson stopping him from scoring the game-tying touchdown at the one yard line.
  • Dick Shiner was a career backup quarterback. During a stint with the Atlanta Falcons, he became the first quarterback to officially achieve a perfect passer rating, when he led the Falcons to a 62-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints. He also set the record for highest score in a football game that the Falcons have reached. This is the only thing he ever did of note - he was a career second stringer who had one brilliant game.
  • Bucky Dent was a solid defensive shortstop and a decent situational hitter. However, all he will ever be known for, especially in Boston, is the home run he hit for the Yankees in 1978 that knocked the Red Sox out of playoff contention that year.
    • To young non-Yankee/Red Sox fans he may best known for being in a Steinbrenner rant.
    • Likewise, Carlton Fisk may be a Hall of Fame player with the Red Sox, but his entire career has been defined by his home run off the foul pole in the 1975 World Series.
      • Enough so that most casual baseball fans (at least outside Chicago's South Side) forget that Fisk spent the majority of his career with the White Sox.
    • This seems to be the fate of any player who comes up big in a high-profile situation. Other players defined by World Series moments include Bill Wambsganss (a solid defensive second baseman best known for turning an unassisted triple play in the 1920 World Series—still the only triple play of any kind in World Series history), Don Larsen (a journeyman pitcher who pitched a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series—was the only no-hitter of any kind in postseason history for 54 years), and Cookie Lavagetto (pinch-hit two-run walkoff double in Game 4 of the 1947 World Series, which also broke up what would have been the first no-hitter in World Series history, as the two baserunners he drove in reached via walks—the ninth and tenth allowed by starter Bill Bevens. Also, neither Bevens nor Lavagetto played in the major leagues after 1947.)
    • Jack Morris's 10-inning shutout for the Twins in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series completely overshadowed the rest of his excellent career; this one game was so epic that hardly anyone remembers that Morris was also the ace of the following year's champion, the Toronto Blue Jays. Then again, he was also the ace of the Detroit Tigers earlier in his career.
    • The ultimate baseball one-moment wonder might be Francisco Cabrera of the 1992 Atlanta Braves. The Braves were one out away from being eliminated in the NLCS when they sent Cabrera, the last position player left on the bench, up to bat. Cabrera could barely even be considered a part-time player; he only had ten at-bats during the regular season, and only one prior at-bat in the playoffs. He stroked a two-run single to put the Braves in the World Series, then immediately faded back to obscurity. He was out of the majors the following year.
    • Armando Galarraga catapulted into the headlines after umpire Jim Joyce's blown call cost him a perfect game (retire 27 batters in order without allowing any of them to reach base) in July, 2010. Since then he's had nothing but hard luck - cut by 3 teams, kicked around the minors, and barely had the proverbial "cup of coffee" in the bigs since.
      • Also Jason Donald is known for that one "hit".
    • Luis Gonzalez had a respectable career as a member of the Diamondbacks, but ask if they know who he is and they'll probably say he's the guy whose walk-off single ended the 2001 World Series.
    • Kirk Gibson was a two-time MVP and World Series Champion, but he is best known for hitting a pinch-hit walk-off homer off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. The main reason he's known is because he had been vomiting all day and could barely walk due to both his illness and lingering leg injuries, and didn't appear again in the series.
    • Former Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski. While he eventually made the Hall of Fame, he's known almost exclusively for the walkoff home run he hit in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, which will likely never be forgotten due to the remarkable statistical fluke that the series produced. In Game 1, the Yankees outhit the Pirates 13-8 but lost 6-4, and in Game 4 they again outhit the Pirates 8-7 but lost 3-2, and in the deciding Game 7, Mazeroski's home run leading off the bottom of the ninth, breaking a 9-9 tie, was just the Pirates' 11th, to the Yankees' 13. So even in three of their four victories, the Pirates were outhit. "Even" in their victories, that is, because the Yankees won Games 2, 3, and 6 by the scores of 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0. The result was a Series in which the Yankees scored 55 runs on 91 hits, batting .338 as a team—just a few of the many records they set—and lost.
  • Jacques Villeneuve took the Formula One World Championship in only his second year in the sport in 1997, then proceeded never to win another race. He has found success in other forms of racing, though.
  • Many cricket fans consider the late Sir Donald Bradman's Test cricket batting average of 99.94 (across 80 innings) to be the greatest statistical achievement in any sport, but in cricket statistics it's customary to consider Test averages only from players who have played more than 20 innings. Cricket's highest Test batting average technically belongs to a one-hit wonder, West Indian wicketkeeper Andy Ganteaume, who was called up for a single Test against England in 1948 and scored 112 runs in his one and only innings at the crease.
  • Salvatore "Totò" Schillaci was the star of the 1990 World Cup, scoring six goals (the top scorer) and bringing Italy to third place — amazingly, he only ever scored one other goal for Italy, and apart from Italia 90 the rest of his career was unremarkable.
    • The same could be said about Fabio Grosso, the man who almost single-handedly brought Italy to victory in the 2006 World Cup. He scored all the important goals, including the one in the semifinal and the decisive penalty kick in the final match, but never did anything else of note in his home country.
  • Oleg Salenko, who played for the Russian national team in the 1994 World Cup. During the 1994 World Cup, he scored 5 goals in a game against Cameroon (the most goals anyone has scored in a single World Cup match) and 6 goals overall, the joint top scorer of the tournament (and the only time where a top scorer played for a team that was knocked out in the group stages). The 6 goals turned out to be the only goals of his national team career.
  • Prior to 2004, the Greek national team had only qualified for two tournaments (the 1980 European Championships, and the 1994 World Cup), and been officially ranked the worst team at the tournament at both. Then they miraculously won the 2004 European Championships. Since then, they have been unable to get past the first knockout round of any tournament. Greece won more games at Euro 2004 than they have won at all other tournaments before or since combined.
  • Joe Johnson was a previously unremarkable and little-known snooker player who suddenly hit form in the 1986 World Championship, taking the title having never previously advanced beyond the first round. It was his only ranking event win; despite making the final again the following year, he slipped down the rankings quite swiftly thereafter.
  • On February 11, 1990, 42-1 underdog James "Buster" Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson, who was an undefeated champion at the time. (For some perspective, this was the first time Tyson had even been knocked down.) He retired just a few months later, after losing the heavyweight title to Evander Holyfield.
  • Mixed Martial Arts fighter Matt Serra had a decent MMA career, even winning The Ultimate Fighter, but he is only known for knocking out Georges St Pierre, considered by many to be the greatest upset in the sport's history. He lost his first title defense never got another significant win.
  • In Australian Rules Football, the St Kilda Saints have won only one premiership, in 1966. The same goes for Port Adelaide Power (2004), but they are generally not considered to be this since they only joined in 1997, and their SANFL incarnation is the most successful club in that league. The Western Bulldogs long had the "one-hit wonder" tag as well, having only won the premiership in 1954, but they picked up their second flag in 2016.
    • Among players, the most famous one-hit wonder would be Ted Hopkins, who was brought on after half time for Carlton in the 1970 Grand Final, and proceeded to rip Collingwood to shreds as Carlton came back from a 44-point deficit to win. Afterward, Hopkins realised he could never do anything to top his achievements in that game, and retired.
  • Several professional golfers who have risen from obscurity and win (or even just nearly win) a major championship have had difficulty sustaining that success in smaller-level tournaments afterward. Among the notable champions on this list are Steve Jones (1996 U.S. Open), Shaun Micheel (2003 PGA Championship) and Hilary Lunke (2003 U.S. Women's Open, her only top ten in an LPGA tournament).
  • In tennis, players who win just one Grand Slam title in their careers are labeled (fairly or unfairly) as "one-Slam wonders". The biggest one of them is probably Gastón Gaudio, who won the 2004 French Open — recovering from a 2-set deficit, no less — but failed to reach the quarterfinals of any other Slam he entered.
  • Roy Essandoh, a previously anonymous lower-league soccer player, is mostly known for scoring a winning goal for Wycombe Wanderers against Leicester City in 2001, after he answered a teletext ad by then-manager Lawrie Sanchez for a non-cup-tied striker. That goal propelled Wycombe to a FA Cup semifinal, after which Roy slipped back into obscurity.
  • Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox threw a perfect game at the start of the 2012 then proceeded to suck for the rest of the season. He became the only player to throw a perfect game and be released (although claimed by another team) at the end of the next season. If he's mentioned for anything else, it'll be how he was traded for Johan Santana. He did win a College World Series (NCAA Division I championship) with Rice University, so not all is lost.
  • Dallas Braden, pitcher for the Oakland A's, is only known for two things: yelling at Alex Rodriguez during a game, and getting a perfect game two weeks later.
  • Among NHL examples, an outstanding case is Jonathan Cheechoo, who may have been a solid NHL player, but his 56-goal Richard Trophy winning season couldn't be matched, and he's bounced around from the NHL and minors.
  • Running back Jonas Grey will probably never have another performance like he did in a game with the Patriots where he ran for 201 and 4 touchdowns. To put things into perspective, he didn't play the next game at all for breaking team rules.
  • Running back Jerome Harrison is known for a single game in 2009 where he rushed for 286 yards, breaking the Cleveland Browns' single game rushing record, which was held by the legendary Jim Brown.
  • Chris Johnson is best known for his 2009 season with the Tennessee Titans where he rushed for 2000 yards.
    • Interestingly there's a Chris Johnson in baseball who's also a one-hit wonder. The Atlanta Braves third baseman had a career year in 2013 which led to him winning a batting title before returning to his normal self the following season.
  • Eric Bruntlett hit a World Series-clinching win for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, and performed only the 15th unassisted triple play in history in 2009 at 31 years old. A year later, he was out of baseball entirely.
  • Loyola University of Chicago won the NCAA mens' basketball championship in 1963, and other than winning the low-prestige College Basketball Invitational in 2015, have done precious little since then. Their last NCAA tournament appearance was in 1985.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In 2003, Paul Czege of The Forge had published My Life with Master, which instantly became one of the hallmarks of the North American indie Tabletop RPG scene. He has not published (commercially) any other game since, instead releasing his later experimental designs for free on the net, which failed to garner nearly as much attention as his original breakthrough hit, MLWM.

    Television 
  • Gene Roddenberry's only real "hit" was Star Trek: The Original Series. His other shows either were short-lived ("The Lieutenant", which lasted a single season) or never got past the pilot stage ("Genesis II"/"Planet Earth", "Questor Tapes", and "Assignment: Earth", which was both a Star Trek episode and a back-door pilot for a spin-off series). Some of Gene's ideas and story notes were eventually adapted by others with mixed results ("Earth: Final Conflict", and "Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda"). (Roddenberry is also credited as the creator of Star Trek: The Next Generation, though this is more to do with him having to sign off on Paramount continuing the franchise on television.)
  • Mitch Hurwitz was the creator of Arrested Development, which is perhaps considered one of the great comedies of the 2000s (even after its Love It or Hate It revival). His other projects? Two poorly received series (Sit Down, Shut Up and Running Wilde) and one slightly-better reviewed series (The Ellen Show) that didn't survive their first seasons.
  • Marta Kauffmann, David Crane and Kevin S. Bright made television history with massively successful NBC sitcom Friends. Unfortunately, their other NBC sitcoms, Joey, Jesse and Veronica's Closet, weren't as successful, critically acclaimed or fondly remembered.
  • Haim Saban's only television hit that is fondly remembered is Power Rangers. The company produced other adaptations of tokusatsu shows, but most fell into obscurity after some time. The company produced some anime dubs though, with Digimon and Samurai Pizza Cats being the most known (the latter only for a cult following).

    Video Games 
  • Alexey Pajitnov would have to be the biggest example. He is is known for creating Tetris, one of the most popular games of all time, and absolutely nothing else.
    • He worked for Microsoft's games division for a while in the late 90s and early 2000s, creating critically acclaimed puzzle games like Pandora's Box and Hexic that met with commercial indifference, even when his semi-famous name was played up in advertising.
    • He eventually gave in and tried to create a direct followup to Tetris, called Welltris, which is basically the same game but with the player now viewing the action from above. It was not well received.
  • Stern Electronics (Berzerk, 1980). Technically they did distribute a few other hits, but all of those were Konami games manufactured under license.
  • Mythos Games (X-COM: UFO Defense, 1994).
  • Despite a long, successful history as a pinball manufacturer, Gottlieb's only hit Video Game was 1982's Q*bert, despite many attempts at breaking into the market.
  • The late Fukio "MTJ" Mitsuji gave us Bubble Bobble plus a few other arcade games (and one Game Gear one) nobody remembers.
  • Cavedog Entertainment (Total Annihilation, 1997)
  • How many games has Dragon's Eye Productions released? Answer: Two. One was a short-lived game called Dragonspires. The other—its Spiritual Successor—is Furcadia.
  • Realtime Worlds' first game was Crackdown. Their second game was the infamous MMO flop All Points Bulletin, which quickly drove the studio to bankruptcy.
  • Day 1 Studios scored a big hit with their debut game, Mechassault, which benefited hugely from being a launch game for Xbox Live Arcade back in 2002. All three of their subsequent games (Mechassault 2, Fracture, and F.E.A.R. 3) flopped badly at retail. Acknowledging this, Day 1 set to developed a F 2 P mech game titled Reigns of Thunder (whose teaser trailed advertised it as "Day 1 going back to its roots"), but the studio was then bought by Wargaming and refocused on porting Wargaming's games to other platforms.
  • If Phil Fish is indeed retired from game development, as he claims, then Fez will certainly qualify him as a one-hit wonder.
  • Although CCP Games has made several attempts to expand their brand beyond the wildly successful EVE Online (2003), so far, all have been failures.
  • Brad McQuaid isn't known for much of anything other than the original Everquest.
  • Minh Le and Jess Cliffe, the creators of the original Counter-Strike and, well, nothing else.
  • Trilobyte Software quickly rose to fame with their debut game The 7th Guest, which was one of the first home computer games to take advantage of the additional space of the CD-Rom format. All of their subsequent games were massive failures, with their last game (Uncle Henry's Playhouse) selling a whooping 27 copies in the U.S.
  • Suda51 is known for his wacky games that while they have a cult following, their appeal is limited. Only one game he's made managed to sell a million copies, Lollipop Chainsaw, which took nearly two years to do so. The rest of his games are lucky if they break the 500,000 mark.
  • Vigil Games made only two games, the first of which, Darksiders, was a Sleeper Hit. Then they made Darksiders II, which was a commercial failure that resulted in the studio being left to die when THQ folded in early 2013.
  • Mojang has made a handful of video games, but none of them have come close to the monumental success of Minecraft.
  • Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen had a surprise sleeper hit in 2014 with Flappy Bird and quickly faded into obscurity after its popularity died down.
  • Rovio Entertainment's reputation rests almost entirely on a little franchise called Angry Birds.
  • Most people would be hard-pressed to name a ZeptoLab game other than Cut the Rope.
  • Future Games of London is known for Hungry Shark Evolution and little else.
  • Clockwork Tortoise (The Adventures of Batman and Robin, Sega Genesis, 1995)
  • Outside Directors Company (LSD: Dream Emulator, 1998)
  • Splash Damage (Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, 2003)
  • Andrew and Paul Gower aren't known for anything other than Runescape. Their company, Jagex, has made a few other games, although without the Gowers, but even they are mostly known just for Runescape.
  • Stellar Stone released eight games during the early 2000s before dissolving entirely, including a pinball game, two real-time strategies, a puzzle game, a first-person shooter, and three racing games, pretty much all of which were Obvious Betas in every sense of the word. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone that knows this, and in fact most of the Internet would have you believe the only game of theirs of this nature was Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing.
  • Mike Bithell's Thomas Was Alone managed to sell over a million copies, but his other major production Volume didn't have even a fraction of that unexpected success among the general public.
  • Many websites on the Internet agree that Hanafram only ever released one game: Snow Bros 2.
  • Big Huge Games (Rise of Nations, 2003).
  • Micrographic Image (Spelunker, 1983).
  • Realtime Games's only original game of note was 1988's Carrier Command.
  • Big Five Software (Miner 2049er, 1982).
  • A&F Software (Chuckie Egg, 1983).

     Voice Acting 
  • As voice actors go, Thurl Ravenscroft did a fair number of roles (including the Christmas classic "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"), but he will forever be best-known as Tony the Tiger, for bellowing "They're gr-r-r-reat!" on cereal commercials.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Stephanie Nadolny's big claim to fame is as Kid Goku and Gohan in the Dragon Ball franchise. She's had other anime roles though, including lead roles in shows like Gravion Zwei, Parasite Dolls, and one Lupin III feature, but she'll always be known for her work in Dragon Ball.
    • Tiffany Vollmer, who voiced Bulma, had no other major voice roles. Her only other roles period include a two-episode bit character in Detective Conan and additional voices in YuYu Hakusho. She has since moved away, and Bulma is now voiced by Monica Rial.
    • Jeremy Inman is also known mostly for only one role; in his case, it is Android 16, although he's voiced many other supporting roles in the series and in other shows.
    • Same with Phil Parsons and Nappa. Despite having credits in some other shows, Nappa is all anyone knows him for.
    • Kara Edwards was this for years, only being known for voicing Kid Goten and Videl, and pretty much retired from voice acting in anime. However a few years ago, she experienced a comeback of sorts, and is voicing leads in other anime as well.
    • Elise Baughman's only major anime role is Pan in Dragon Ball GT, though she voiced smaller roles in other shows for Funimation around the same time. Nowadays however, she only gets work voicing Pan in various Dragon Ball video games.
    • Julie Franklin voiced Agent Mai in the original Dragon Ball, and her cameo in GT. That remains her only named role, her only other credits being background voices and bit parts in Dragon Ball and YuYu Hakusho. At that time, she was dating Christopher Sabat. In recent media however, Mai is instead voiced by Colleen Clinkenbeard.
    • Monika Antonelli's only anime credits are Puar and Chiaotzu in the Dragon Ball franchise (and some odd bit parts in the series here and there). She quit voice acting in 2006, and both roles are now voiced by Brina Palencia.
  • Maile Flanagan is known for voicing the title character of Naruto and little else (except maybe Lab Rats). Though she won a Daytime Emmy for voicing the title character in Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks, a preschool cartoon, and has some bit on-camera parts, Naruto is her only major anime role (her only other anime work period was additional voices on the 2003 Astro Boy).
    • Tom Gibis voiced Shikamaru Nara and hasn't done anything else of note.
  • Ranma ˝:
    • Akane is Myriam Sirois' only major voice acting role, although she had roles in live action shows like Stargate SG-1. She retired from acting in 2008 to become a flight attendant.
    • Boy-type Ranma's original voice actress Sarah Strange had only a couple other small voice roles (with Ranma being her only anime role), and left the series after the third season to focus on her fairly successful live-action television career. Afterwords, Ranma was voiced by Richard Ian Cox.
    • Brigitta Dau's only anime role is girl-type Ranma in the first 6 episodes of the anime and first two OVA episodes. Though she also had a role on the 90s My Little Pony cartoon and some small on-camera roles, Ranma is all she's recognized for. She moved away after her stint on the show, and Venus Terzo (a well-established voice actress) took over her role.
    • Nabiki Tendo is Angela Costain's only voice role, and one of her very few acting roles before she became a pilot. The same can be said for her sister, Elaina Wotten-Costain, who filled in during Season 6.
  • Many voice actors in the Tenchi Muyo! franchise, since it was one of the first to use Union voice actors.
    • Ryoko is Petrea Burchard's only major animation role, with her only other role period being a bit part on Serial Experiments Lain. She also had some minor on-camera parts.
    • Matt Miller, who voiced Tenchi, had some other anime roles, but Tenchi is his only lead and only claim to fame. He's mostly a stage actor.
    • Ellen Gerstell's only anime role is the original voice of Mihoshi before Rebecca Forstadt took over following her retirement. She had some roles in western animation however, notably Rapture in Jem.
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena, Sharon Becker and Leah Applebaum, the voices of Anthy and Nanami respectively, have no other major voice roles. Leah's only other roles period are a few small roles in early Pokémon episodes.
  • Speaking of Pokémon, Sarah Natochenny, the current voice of Ash, has no major roles in any other anime titles. Most of her other work is in fashion modeling and some on-camera roles. Veronica Taylor (his original voice) however, is a very prominent anime and video game voice actress.
    • Lee Quick's only acting role was the original voice of Officer Jenny. Ditto for her first replacement, Jamie Davyous Owens.
    • Matthew Sussman had some other anime credits, but is mostly known for being the original Meowth.
    • Emily Bauer is mostly known for being the voice of Dawn and not much else.
    • Jay Goede the voice of Mewtwo and his creator Dr. Fuji who went under the pseudonym Phillip Bartlett has had no other voice acting roles to date, he is mostly a stage actor and has had some on camera roles in films and television shows.
  • Almost the entire cast of the original Sailor Moon dub from DiC and Cloverway, since anime is very rarely recorded in Toronto. Many of the voices have other roles in western animation and live-action though.
  • Mimi Woods had a handful of anime and video game voice acting roles in the 90s, but her only major role was Major Motoko Kusanagi in the original Ghost in the Shell film and video game. She has since moved away from Los Angeles and retired from voice acting in 2001. Since then, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn has voiced the Major in most other Ghost in the Shell media.
  • Another anime example is Adam Conlon, who was Kouta in Elfen Lied. He had a handful of other anime roles for ADV, but that was his only lead, and all he's been remembered for. He was replaced with Blake Shepard when the OVA was finally dubbed in 2013.
  • Several Robotech voice actors including Melanie MacQueen (Lisa Hayes in Macross), Robin Levenson (Sammie Porter in Macross), and Melissa Newman (Dana Sterling in Masters). Carl Macek even acknowledged that he hadn't had contact with Newman since the show ended, and he didn't know what happened to her. However, MacQueen also played "Lady Luck" in a long-series of commercials for the Virginia Lottery, and is somewhat well-known for that too.
  • Blossom in The Powerpuff Girls is Cathy Cavadini's only major animation role, though she's had supporting parts in other shows.
  • Cheryl Chase is only known for voicing Angelica Pickles in Rugrats, though she's had some supporting roles in other cartoons and early anime dubs, nothing nearly as recognized.
  • Rodger Bumpass has done voice acting for many shows, but to most people, he's just the guy who voices Squidward.
  • The lead Simpsons voice actors:
    • Dan Castellaneta (Homer) and Nancy Cartwright (Bart) are both very prolific voice actors with a few scattered live-action roles. However, none of their characters are nearly as iconic as their Simpsons roles, except maybe Castellaneta replacing Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin.
    • Julie Kavner had some success as a television actress on Rhoda, but today is only known for being the voice of Marge.
    • Yeardley Smith (Lisa) has this the worst. Apart from a couple one-off characters that are similar to Lisa, she does not play any other voice roles on The Simpsons. Her only other major leading role came with 1993's We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, which was a box office disaster. She does occasionally work as an on-camera actress and has been in several popular movies (such as The Legend of Billie Jean, As Good as It Gets, and City Slickers) and had a supporting role in the now-forgotten cult sitcom Herman's Head, but they've always been minor roles and never the lead.
  • Most of the Velma and Daphne voice actors from Scooby-Doo, including Nicole Jaffe (Velma #1), Stefanianna Christopherson (Daphne #1), Heather North (Daphne #2), Pat Stevens (Velma #2), and Marla Frumpkin (Velma #3). Jaffe, North, and Stevens had some scattered live action credits, but not much of note. Completely averted with Grey DeLisle (Daphne #4), Mary Kay Bergman (Daphne #3), BJ Ward (Velma #4) and Kate Miccuci (Velma #6). Mindy Cohn (Velma #5) is a mixed example, with Velma being her only major voice role, but being just as recognized for her live action role as Natalie in The Facts of Life.
  • Louis Chirillo is pretty much only well-known for Dukey from Johnny Test. That can't be good for his reputation.
  • Thom Huge, who voiced Jon Arbuckle in the Garfield Specials (except Here Comes Garfield) and Garfield and Friends, did a couple other voices on the latter show but has no other credits.
  • Most of the Sonic the Hedgehog cast from 1998 to 2004, as voice acting is rarely done in San Diego. Lani Minella is the only exception, as her video game credits are a mile long.
  • Most people only know Charles Martinet as the voice of Mario (and Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, etc.)
  • Amy Kincaid is known for two things: being the wife of veteran voice actor Liam O'Brien and voicing Shirley Fenette in Code Geass.
  • Zach Tyler Eisen voiced Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender. He had a few bit voice acting parts in some Nick Jr. shows and voiced the lead in the animated flop Ant Bully. Other than that, nothing.
    • Jessie Flower, who voiced Toph, hasn't done much afterwards either.
    • Janet Varney, who played the title star of sequel series The Legend of Korra, is also known only for that one role.
  • Almost any Disney Princess voice actress:
    • Adriana Casselotti, the voice of Snow White, has no other acting or voice acting credits, except as an additional voice in the song "If I Only Had a Heart" in The Wizard of Oz. This is largely because Walt Disney himself put a clause in her contract that forbade her from ever doing any other work in the entertainment industry so as not to "spoil the illusion of Snow White."
    • Ilene Woods' only role of note was as the title character in Cinderella.
    • Mary Costa is known as the voice of Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, and not much else. To make matters worse, Aurora herself only had a handful of lines, with the part mostly being through singing.
    • Jodi Benson comes the closest to averting this as a strictly voice actress, since she's had some decent success doing voices for several cartoons, but she will always be known as the voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Her other major credits include Barbie in the Toy Story films and the title role in Don Bluth's Thumbelina (another princess role).
    • Paige O'Hara's only major role is Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Most of her other work is on Broadway.
    • Linda Larkin, the speaking voice of Jasmine in Aladdin has no other major credits. Her singing voice however, Lea Salonga, has had much more success as a singer for other Disney characters, as well as a career on Broadway, and is one of the most successful Filipino singers of all time.
    • Pocahontas's speaking and singing voice actresses, Irene Bedard and Judy Kuhn respectively, have no other claims to fame, though Kuhn had a decent career on Broadway and a couple Tony nominations.
    • Averted with Mulan's voice actress Ming-Na Wen, who was also Chun-Li in the live action Street Fighter film, Jing Mei Chen in ER, and is currently Agent May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which she might actually be more known for now. Ming-Na's had a few roles in other films and TV shows as well. Mulan's singing voice was the above-mentioned Lea Salonga.
  • Dana Gaier and Elsie Fisher are known as the respective voices of Edith and Agnes in the Despicable Me series and nothing else.
  • Rob Wiethoff voiced John Marston in Red Dead Redemption before retiring from acting to focus on raising his family.
  • Rapper Chris "Young Maylay" Bellard is a No-Hit Wonder as a musician, but he did have one very memorable voice acting performance: Carl "CJ" Johnson in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
  • Michael Hollick was the voice of Niko Bellic in Grand Theft Auto IV. His only other credits were a few cameo appearances in the Law & Order franchise and minor motion capture in lower-profile games.
  • Ellen McLain will always be known as GLaDOS in the Portal franchise. She's done some bit voice acting in other Valve games and had a memorable cameo in Pacific Rim, but nothing major.
  • Christopher Robin Miller's only known role to many fans is the title character in the Professor Layton series. Nothing he's done so far has come close.
  • Since video games are rarely recorded in Seattle, the original cast of the Backyard Sports series never really did much afterwards (except Jen Taylor, Mark Lund, and Dex Manley).
  • Aside from a few audio books David Kolin's only voice acting role or any other acting role for that matter was the voice of Felix the Cat in Felix the Cat: The Movie. This is a bad thing.
  • Maggie Blue O'Hara has had roles in Vancouver and Hong Kong, and shares two roles with Megumi Hayashibara, (three if you count R!Lime) the one role everyone knows her for is Shadowcat. Every thing else is cult at best, and the one that isn't (Dragon Ball Z) is a forgotten dub that isn't even on DVD.
  • Except for Johnny Yong Bosch (one of anime's most prolific voice actors), the cast of Yo Kai Watch has never done anything else of note.
  • All of the lead voice actors in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic aside from Tara Strong (Twilight Sparkle) and maybe Cathy Weseluck (Spike) are known outside Canada almost exclusively for that one series, as most of their roles are anime dubs, obscure shows and roles that were replaced. For the supporting cast, it varies.
  • Ironically, despite being a major Anime VA, and a former Vancouver resident during its golden age, Erin Fitzgerald's only major Western Animation roles, May and Nazz, are both in Ed Eddn Eddy. Nothing else comes close in that Medium, not even Monster High.
  • Jeremy Shada is so far known pretty much only for Finn.
  • Jason Ritter, the son of the late John Ritter, has played bit parts on TV shows and movies for most of his career, with only a few leading roles, but most people will be hard-pressed to name any role of his other than Dipper Pines.
  • Ryan Potter's only notable role to date is as Hiro Hamada in Big Hero 6. His only other big role period was his lead on the short-lived Nickelodeon series Supah Ninjas, which quickly faded into obscurity.
  • Kaitlyn Dias voiced Riley in Inside Out and afterwards went back to doing low-profile short films.
  • Newton Pittman is only known for voicing Gray Fullbuster in Fairy Tail. He's had some supporting, guest, and minor roles for other shows for Funimation, but Gray is his only lead. His last non-Fairy Tail credit was in 2015, meaning that Gray is the only voice work he's getting right now. This is largely because voice acting is not his main career. According to Newt himself, most of his work is in microbiology and cardiac ICU, and that voice acting is just something he does on the side for fun.
  • When Alison Lohman voiced the title role in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, she was an up-and-coming actress with roles in small films and two short-lived TV shows. A few years later, she starred in Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell, but then immediately retired from acting. These days, she might be best known as Nausicaä, which is unheard of for any other "celebrity" cast in a Disney Ghibli dub.
  • Romi Dames has a few voice acting credits, but she's primarily known only for voicing Musa in the Nickelodeon dub of Winx Club , and maybe Lena Luthor on DC Super Hero Girls .

    Web Original 
  • HDCYT uploaded an extremely viral video in 2007, titled Charlie bit my finger - again !. The video is about, as the titled would suggest, a baby named Charlie biting his slightly older brother in the finger. For reasons completely unknown, it amassed over 800,000,000 views. This makes it the most viewed non-music video of all time, and the 4th most viewed video of all time period. While Charlie bit my finger - The Accident wasn't a slouch either, getting over 45,000,000 views, it's obviously nowhere near as successful as the original. Since even breaking the 100 million mark is a feat normally reserved for music videos by popular artists, don't expect them (or anyone else for that matter) to achieve that kind of success again.

Fictional Examples:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Wish from Hime Chen Otogi Chikku Idol Lilpri only has one song he sings in-show, while the titular Power Trio gets four.
  • Space Dandy and his band Dropkix are best remembered for "Lonely Nights" — played repetitively for two hours at one gig — and disbanding immediately after their big break. However, this performance unknowingly stopped an all-out war.

    Film 
  • Baby Jane Hudson's song "I've Written a Letter to Daddy" in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?.
  • The Wonders in That Thing You Do!, for whom the one hit is the title song. The irony of the band's name is pointed out by their own manager after the band fails to produce a second hit. In real life, the song (written and performed by Candy Butchers frontman Mike Viola and Fountains Of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger) made the real Hot 100, but ironically, it peaked at #41.
  • The protagonist of About a Boy is a 36-year-old bachelor who lives off the royalties of a hit Christmas song composed by his father.
    • The book of the same name from which the film was adapted goes to great lengths to show just how absurd a situation this put the protagonist and his father in: the protagonist gets angry and depressed every time he hears the song being sung by buskers, and his father, absolutely desperate to be taken seriously as a musician, once writes an entire musical in the course of one day.
  • In the first Bridget Jones movie, Bridget's friend Tom is a former One-Hit Wonder pop singer from the '80s.
  • The main character of Semi Pro is a former one-hit wonder who used the money from his song "Love Me Sexy" to buy an ABA team.

    Literature 
  • The murder victim in The Silkworm was a writer whose first book was a great success with the critics, but nothing he wrote after came even close to match it, critically or commercially. He still expects everyone to treat him like a literary luminary though.
  • The Kim Newman story "One Hit Wanda" is about an Everly Brothers-style duo who, having offended their muse, found the song they wrote for her to be a curse. It was insanely popular, but it was the only song anyone wanted to hear and, eventually, the only song they were capable of playing.

    Live Action TV 
  • Drive Shaft, Charlie's band in Lost, who hit it big with "You All Everybody". In one deleted scene, Shannon remarks about having "their one song" stuck in one's head.
  • The Zit Remedy/The Zits-Joey, Snake and Wheels' band on Degrassi Junior High/Degrassi High-was a one hit wonder not only in the fact that "Everybody Wants Something" was their only hit, but it was their only song - a fact that still gets them mercilessly teased even as adults.
    • "Everybody Want Something" was a hit?
  • On The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Ashley ends up being a one hit wonder. It becomes a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment because that was exactly what happened to the actress who played her, Tatyana Ali.
  • Marcus Little of The Suite Life on Deck turns up at Seven Seas High, having faded into obscurity after his career as Lil' Little peaked with his sole hit "Retainer Baby".
  • "Superstar Machine" by "Li'l Davey Cross" in Mr. Show. It charts at number one, becomes club music, gets parodied by Weird Al-lookalike and ends up as "on-hold" music on the phone.
  • The 1999 comedy-drama Hunting Venus centred on a fictional New Romantic band from the early 1980's, The Venus Hunters, who are getting together for a reunion gig despite the fact they only ever had one hit. Lead singer Martin Clunes finds a problem... they've forgotten the words and how to play the music. Nobody can find a copy of the single. And their charismatic guitarist Neil Morrisey has had a sex-change operation....

    Music 
  • Chris Gaines, Breakup Breakout member of an '80s one-hit wonder band. Played by Real Life artist wonder Garth Brooks.
    • Ironically, his only pop hit was in thus persona.
  • The song "King of Rock 'n' Roll" by bookish new wave act Prefab Sprout was about a 50's rocker who is forced to sing his one stupid novelty hit over and over to crowds who only want to hear that one song. In a sad bit of irony, "The King of Rock 'n' Roll" became Prefab Sprout's biggest hit in the UK (they had six other Top 40 singles, but none of them troubled the Top 20), because people only cared about the goofy chorus and nothing more.

    Video Games 
  • In Dead Island, one of the player characters is Sam B, a rapper famous for his one hit, "Who Do You Voodoo, Bitch?". The fact that his one hit is a Horrorcore track he wrote as a joke after years of trying to gain momentum as a serious, politically conscious rapper, and that no-one shows any interest in anything he's produced apart from "Who Do You Voodoo, Bitch?" has left him extremely bitter.

    Western Animation 
  • Phineas and the Ferbtones in Phineas and Ferb, for "Gitchee Gitchee Goo". Intentionally, because who would want to do that every day?
    "Follow-up single?! Who do you think we are, some two-bit hacks who will keep writing you songs simply because you pay us obscene amounts of cash?! Phineas and the Ferb-Tones are strictly a one-hit wonder. Good day to you, sir!"
    • Also, their mother Linda apparently was a one-hit wonder in the 80's with "I'm Lindana and I Wanna Have Fun." Her explanation of this trope was used by the boys as a how-to checklist.
  • In My Life as a Teenage Robot, Brad sings a "one hit wonder" song called "Minky Momo". Not kidding.
  • Foxxy Love of Drawn Together was formerly a one hit wonder with her band The Foxxy 5, with the song "La La Labia".
  • Kaeloo: In one episode from Season 2, Kaeloo, Quack Quack, Mr. Cat, Eugly and Pretty form their own rock band and make up a song that becomes very popular. The group winds up quitting the music business because at their second concert, which was also going to play the same song, the fans cheer so loudly that they (and Stumpy, who was backstage) all go deaf.

Media about One-hit wonders:

  • Todd in the Shadows has a side series called "One Hit Wonderland", where he gives retrospectives on artists known for only one hit: their careers before and after the hit, the context of their hit, and whether or not they deserved better in his opinion.
  • Everclear isn't one, but they did have a song called 'One Hit Wonder' about such an artist.
  • In the video for Short Skirt/Long Jacket, by group CAKE, the last person to be interviewed in the video describes the group as a One-Hit Wonder (which it's not).
  • Mike Posner's "I Took A Pill In Ibiza" is a song about him being a One Hit Wonder. He actually had a couple of hits, but "Cooler Than Me" is the only one people remembered from him...until, ironically, the Seeb remix of "Ibiza" became an even bigger hit.
    I'm just a singer who already blew his shot
    I get along with old timers
    Cause my name's a reminder of a pop song people forgot

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