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"Historical time has not yet run out for these tales... but even in the early nineteenth century the year contained only twelve months, and it is possible that in the near future the author (if the readers will bear with him) may be led to make use of hypothetical years, rather like those hypothetical moons used in the calculation of Easter: an 1812a as it were or even an 1812b."
Patrick O'Brian, introduction to The Far Side of the World

A form of Hollywood History related to Newer Than They Think, Older Than They Think or both. When a period of history (real or fictional) is given such weight and importance as to make it seem to have lasted a lot longer than it really did. Sometimes this can happen because the event was short-lived but had a big impact, having a greater influence or achieving more in a small stretch of time than whatever succeeded or preceded it.

Of course, when speaking of real world (rather than in-universe) time, the age of the audience is a factor, because we perceive time differently as we age. Remember the years between kindergarten and fifth grade? It lasted a very long time! Remember the years between when you were thirty to thirty-five? Went by like a sneeze, didn't it? Consequently, a TV show that was on the air for less than a year when you were eight may have had a much bigger impact on your memory than one that was on for years when you were older.

Compare Frozen in Time, Medieval Stasis, and Oddly Small Organization. For works of serial media, see Short-Runners. See also Extremely Short Timespan. Not to be confused with Small Role, Big Impact, which is about onscreen performances. Given Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale, some timespans are treated like this no matter how illogical.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The idea of Goku and Vegeta working as a duo to battle a stronger foe is pretty iconic to Dragon Ball as a whole, being nigh-on ubiquitous in post-Z projects like Dragon Ball GT, Dragon Ball Super, and many different video games, and proving the impetus for two different Fusion Dance creations in Gogeta and Vegeto. This can make it surprising that it only happened once in the entire run of the original manga, in the fight against Kid Buu—effectively, the last serious fight in the manga's run. In fact, the very much non-canon Non-Serial Movie Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler was the first official product to experiment with the idea. The movies probably made this idea stick in fans' minds more than the main series ever did as it was pretty common there, with Goku and Vegeta fighting alongside each other (by themselves or as part of a group) against Cooler, Super Android 13, Broly, Janemba, and Hildegarn.
  • In Naruto the original iconic Team 7 of Naruto, Sasuke, Kakashi, and Sakura was really only together for a single arc, the Land of Waves arc, which was their first mission as a team and lasts until Chapter 33 (of 700). This was immediately followed by a Tournament Arc not involving Kakashi, which was then followed by an arc where Naruto travels with another character, and then Sasuke leaves the team at the beginning of the arc after that.

    Comic Books 
  • Alan Moore came to prominence for the work he did in The '80s for DC Comics, where he worked on Swamp Thing, Watchmen, The Killing Joke as well as a few Superman stories. This was a five-year period, a small part of his career where, for the most part, he has worked for alternative and independent publications as well as self-published ventures.
    • Furthermore, his four-year run on Swamp Thing was really the only pre-existing DC property Moore spent any substantial time on. Apart from his own original creations in Watchmen and V for Vendetta, Moore never wrote more than three issues of any other DC character.note 
    • The year before The Killing Joke, Moore wrote another Batman issue called "Mortal Clay". These are the only two Batman issues Moore ever wrote.
    • Geoff Johns's Green Lantern run, particularly the Sinestro Corps storyline, practically trumpeted the fact that it was being derived from characters and concepts created by Moore, to the point of reprinting the stories Moore wrote on a pretty regular basis. And it wasn't much work for DC to do that reprinting: Moore only ever wrote three Green Lantern stories, all of which were standalone, with a total of twenty-four pages between them. When Moore heard that these stories were being used as such foundational material, he grumbled about DC's writers "going through my trashcan like raccoons."
  • A fandom example: the Legion of Super-Heroes has had some eras that were either famous or infamous, but they really didn't last long at all:
    • Supergirl only had about 14 substantial appearances during her run (depending on how you count), with another 9 in the 1980s. The run of "Supergirl and the Legion" from 2006-2008 had about as many issues as Supergirl's entire set of Legion appearances back to 1960, and most of her early ones weren't even full length stories.
    • The Legion of Super-Pets only appeared 7 times and only had major roles in around four, also depending on how you count.
    • The Adult Legion appeared in 9 stories total (plus LSH #300, which wrote it out of continuity).
  • Batman:
    • Batman first appeared in 1939's Detective Comics #27. Robin the Boy Wonder debuted the following year in Detective Comics #38. Modern retellings of the Dark Knight Detective's early solo career have stretched that era out to at least two years, a very busy period covered by Batman: Year One, The Long Halloween, various issues of Legends of the Dark Knight, a guest appearance in John Byrne's The Man of Steel, and featuring the debuts of the Riddler, Two-Face, the Joker (as the Red Hood), Catwoman, and Hugo Strange. Most of these villains originally debuted after Robin. Some of these modern retellings, however, may no longer be canon.
    • The infamous "Batman uses a gun and kills criminals" era, often used to justify Darker and Edgier portrayals. Based on retellings of it, you'd think that it'd lasted until the mid-50s and Seduction Of The Innocent. In reality, he stopped using guns almost entirely after a few issues (he only actually shoots someone once), and the first indication of him having a code against killing dates to Batman #4, less than two years after his creation. (Though he was a target of Seduction of the Innocent, it focused on purported Homoerotic Subtext, not violence.)
  • Between The Golden Age of Comic Books and the Silver Age was The Interregnum, often thought of as a lengthy dark drought in the superhero genre.note  If one measures it from the last appearance of the GA Flash (1951, All-Star Comics) to the first appearance of the SA Flash (1956, Showcase), it was only five years long. Given that DC Comics considers Superboy an Earth-1 (i.e., Silver Age) character, and Superboy debuted in 1945, it could even be argued that the Golden Age and Silver Age overlapped, and the Interregnum thus had negative length!
  • The Defenders: Ask any moderate comics fan who the core members of the Defenders are, and you'll immediately hear "The Incredible Hulk, Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, and Namor the Sub-Mariner." Sometimes they'll add Nighthawk, or maybe Valkyrie. While Strange and Hulk have been on most versions of the Defenders, with Strange usually being the de facto leader, Namor and Surfer quit after just a few issues. People familiar with the original run will tell you that the Defenders never had a consistent lineup, and variously included nearly every hero and some villains active at the time. This is part of the reason that modern revivals of the team tend to get cancelled quickly. As it turns out, not many writers can make the "classic" lineup work, since all the characters involved are grotesquely overpowered and relative loners, but they assume that it has to work because the original comic made it work, right?
  • The Avengers: Similarly, nearly every adaptation of the Avengers either mentions the Hulk or makes heavy use of him: see The Ultimates, the movie, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, etc., with his status as a founding member usually being the cited reason. However, until 2012 (when he rejoined the team to tie into the movie), Hulk's presence on the team was as over as soon as it began, with him leaving the team a whole two issues into the original run. He popped up occasionally as a reservist or for brief informal teamups during crisis periods, but he never racked up as many appearances as even relative D-list Avengers.
  • Wonder Woman's controversial 'I Ching' period was only twenty-five issues of her original run, extended to five years' time-wise by an intermittent publishing schedule. But it was during that period that the pilot movie starring Cathy Lee Crosby was developed, which lead it to look In Name Only in comparison with the better-known take of the character, and in turn led to the pilot movie for the series featuring the more traditional take starring Lynda Carter being called The New Original Wonder Woman. The Pilot Movie is known to even non-comics' fans, the original storyline, not as much, except for Gloria Steinem's denouncement of it.
  • In an early '70s issue of The Brave and the Bold, Catwoman appeared in a new costume and also joined the ranks of the remorseless killers in Batman's rogues gallery. Editors and fans alike denounced this so hard, it was Canon Discontinuity almost as it hit the shelves, and was even declared to happen on an alternate Earth not seen before or since. But Mego made its Catwoman figure based on this new costume, and in the age before endless variants were the norm, this was perhaps the only Catwoman figure made until Batman Returns came out.
    • Costumes can be particularly vulnerable to this, if they're associated with a sufficiently iconic time. For instance, Superman's very earliest appearances sometimes colored the yellow parts of the S-shield black and drew the symbol itself as more of a badge shape. By 1940, this Early-Installment Weirdness had largely ended and Superman's outfit was almost indistinguishable from the classic look. Despite this, comics like DC: The New Frontier and Superman Smashes the Klan draw Superman with a black badge outfit to imply the time period... even though Superman had stopped wearing the black badge by the time those comics had taken place. The association likely came about because the theaterical shorts produced by Fleischer Studios used the red-and-black S-shield instead of the red-and-yellow version that had become the standard in the comics by that time.
  • X-Men adaptations like X-Men: Evolution and Wolverine and the X-Men (2009) will often depict Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver as members of Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. In the actual comics, the two were only members of the Brotherhood for a handful of issues, and quickly defected after realizing what a monster Magneto actually was. They joined The Avengers in 1965, and have subsequently been heroes for the vast majority of their published existence.
  • From the time of his introduction in 1966 until 1987, the Silver Surfer was trapped on Earth by the power of his scorned master, Galactus. This was the prime central fact of the character for two decades. 1987 saw his new series and his freedom, and while his status varies, as of the mid-2010s, this once-ubiquitous fact about the Surfer has been outdated longer than it was ever his premise.
  • After debuting in The '80s, Elektra quickly became one of Marvel's most popular and iconic Anti Heroes. The amount of time between her first appearance and her infamous death? Less than a year. It wasn't until 1994 that she was permanently resurrected and began appearing as a frequent player in the Marvel Universe.
  • Ronald Searle's fame as a cartoonist is still largely defined by his popular cartoon series St Trinians. Yet in his long, long, long career which spanned almost half a century how long did St Trinians last as a series? Answer: Only four years! Even Searle himself had a Creator Backlash over the fact that he was still first and foremost remembered for this series, even decades after he drew the final episode. Especially since he drew so many different cartoons and illustrations.
  • The Spirit is remembered as Will Eisner's way of delivering thoughtful humanism and avant-garde storytelling every week from 1940 to 1952, but the time the comic actually fits that description is a lot shorter. Eisner was off fighting in WWII for most of the comic's early years and did not develop his distinctive experimental style until he returned in 1946, and by 1949 he had grown tired of The Spirit and left it in the hands of his staff for its final years. Most of the issues people remember come from that 1946-49 period, rather than from across the book's entire twelve-year run.
  • The Dark Age of Comic Books is usually associated with the entirety of the late 80s and the 90s, but its actual heyday was a fair bit shorter. Though Watchmen is the most commonly given start date, it took a while for it to leak into general comics, as Watchmen wasn't initially a chart-topper in sales. The late 80s were still largely a continuation of The Bronze Age of Comic Books, with much of DC's work deliberately emulating Marvel's earlier output and Marvel under Jim Shooter mostly continuing what it did best. Most events from the era were straightforward big battles like Acts of Vengeance or Legends, with darker storylines confined to imprints like Vertigo Comics. The era's signature artstyle didn't start to dominate until Rob Liefeld's 1990 work on New Mutants, and gimmick covers showed up at around the same time (and Liefeld's work bore little resemblance to anything Moore was doing by that point). Most of the iconic stories and events of the era, including the creation of Wizard Magazine, The Clone Saga, The Death of Superman, the foundation of Image Comics, Jim Lee's X-Men and Chris Claremont's departure, and a number of major Audience Alienating Eras, happened during this period, which lasted about five years. After The Great Comics Crash of 1996, the Dark Age was mostly dead on its feet, with Heroes Reborn underperforming and being widely mocked, and the explosive success of Grant Morrison and Howard Porter's JLA (which was very much a throwback to the bombastic, optimistic style of superhero tales from the Silver and Bronze Ages, albeit with a modern edge) the following year more or less sealed the deal.
  • Iron Man:
    • The much-hated "Teen Tony" era, where Tony Stark was killed off and replaced by a time-displaced younger version of himself, was much shorter than people remember. Teen Tony took over as the series lead in Iron Man #326, but the series was cancelled at #332 because of Onslaught and the subsequent Heroes Reborn relaunch of the book, which once again starred an adult Tony.
    • Obadiah Stane, aka, Iron Monger, is one of the more memorable Iron Man villains. He was the first villain used in the Iron Man film trilogy (as well as the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe), and had a recurring role in Iron Man: Armored Adventures. However, he was only around 37 issues before he was Killed Off for Real, and he only donned the moniker of Iron Monger in his final appearance.
    • The Modular Armor was introduced in Iron Man #300, but only lasted until issue #318, after which it was replaced with a new suit at the start of Terry Kavanagh's run in #319. However, due to this armor being the one Iron Man wore in his animated series (as well as his guest spots in Spider-Man: The Animated Series and The Incredible Hulk (1996)) and the early Marvel vs. Capcom games, it's become one of his most popular and recognizable looks.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Man's origins as a Kid Hero in high school are given a huge amount of emphasis in the character's portrayal in various media, including recent movies and animated series. Considering this was one of the things that originally made him so unique and relatable, it makes sense to a degree. However, Peter actually graduated from high school and went to college (the fictitious Empire State University) in The Amazing Spider-Man (Lee & Ditko) #28 — only two and a half years after his first appearance. The classic period of Spider-Man as Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World lasted a very short time indeed, and most of his comic exploits from then on were as an early 20s young man, with it taking thirteen years for him to graduate college.
    • The Betty and Veronica Love Triangle between Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, and Mary Jane Watson that everyone remembers was actually very short, only lasting a few issues (The Amazing Spider-Man #44-#52) before Peter settled on Gwen and Mary Jane became Beta Couple with Harry Osborn, though she would still flirt with Peter and make passes at him later on, which Gwen usually replied with cutting barbs. Her teasing and flirting dialed down when she realized his commitment to Gwen was serious and then MJ was Put on a Bus returning semi-regularly starting in The Amazing Spider-Man #87 where her dynamic with Gwen was closer to Vitriolic Best Buds or "frenemies".
    • The alien costume period. Spider-Man started wearing the black costume in 1984 and wore it until 1988 and it is immortalized in notable stories like "The Death of Jean DeWolff" and "Kraven's Last Hunt," cementing it in fans' minds as a long-term thing. But in all of those stories, the costume was actually cloth. The actual alien costume was first worn in #252 and was removed in #258 before making a one-issue return in Web of Spider-Man #1. In fact, by the time Secret Wars #8 was published, which showed how he got the costume, he had already ditched the costume and was using the cloth copy.
    • Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, tends to be seen as Spider-Man's greatest foe, but his actual time in the spotlight was relatively short. He appeared in-costume in The Amazing Spider-Man (Lee & Ditko) #14 (1964), and went on to show up in around three stories (one being a two-parter) before issue 40 (1966) revealed his true identity and had him suffer Easy Amnesia that made him forget his time as the Goblin. After that point, he didn't appear in-costume until ASM #96-98 in 1971, and his next story, #121-122 in 1973, had him killed off (taking Gwen Stacy with him). So that's around eight appearances, and he was only showing up regularly during a two-year period—and he was hardly the biggest fish in the pond at the time, with Doctor Octopus having a much better claim on the "Spider-Man's greatest foe" title. Much of the reason Gerry Conway made Norman the one to kill Gwen Stacy was that after the mystery of his identity had been solved and the question of "what if he comes back?" had been answered, there wasn't a lot left to do with the guy, meaning Conway felt he could kill him off without too many issues. After that point, the role was carried on by a number of Legacy Characters, many of whom had considerably longer tenures, before Norman was brought back in The Clone Saga... at which point he'd been dead far longer than he'd been alive.
  • Captain Marvel: When Marvel changed Carol Danvers' codename from 'Ms Marvel' to 'Captain Marvel' in 2012, a number of fans complained about the sudden change to such a long-lasting character. In actuality, 'Ms. Marvel' is only one of several names the character has used, having also used Binary and Warbird. 'Ms. Marvel' was the name she first used when she became a superhero (in 1977, nine years after her initial debut in 1968), but her time as Binary (from 1982 to 1998, 16 years) and Warbird (1998 to 2006, 8 years), both lasted longer (Ms Marvel, in comparison, lasted less than 5 years initially, and when she resumed it in 2006, only lasted another 6 years). This, in turn, makes her name/costume changing a case of Older Than They Think. The thing that muddies the waters is that for most of Carol's run as Binary, she just wasn't appearing in comics outside of occasional guest appearances in Uncanny X-Men, and even when she came back as Warbird in the Heroes Return era, she was a supporting character in the Kurt Busiek Avengers and Iron Man books. (It certainly didn't help that her Warbird costume was identical to her Ms. Marvel costume.)
  • Spider-Woman: In a similar case, Spider-Woman getting a costume redesign in 2014 lead to complaints about a drastic redesign of a costume that had gone unchanged for decades. Many were unaware that, while unchanged, the suit was unused for the bulk of the character's existence. In 1988 she had retired the name and costume, operating as simply 'Jessica Drew' and being a non-costumed superhero private investigator, starting 11 years after her debut. She wouldn't be depicted as Spider-Woman, at least in-canon, until another 21 years, at least technically.note  The costume change was an attempt to reconnect her with her private investigator role, a place she occupied for most of her existence.
  • The Mighty Thor: When the layperson thinks of Thor's primary Love Interest, they think of Jane Foster. While it's true that the two have always had chemistry, the truth is that Jane's ship was pretty much sunk back in 1967, within Thor #136, where Odin's manipulation caused her to fail her Engagement Challenge and be sent back to Earth with her and Thor having no memory of each other. After that, she married and had a child with a Suspiciously Similar Substitute named Dr. Kincaid and the two never really got back together again. Still, Thor (2014) shows that Jane is still very bitter about what Odin did to her, and her infatuation with Thor actually caused the end of her marriage.
  • X-Force is known for being the comic that launched the infamous Rob Liefeld's career into the stratosphere, and it's often held as being the type of shallow Darker and Edgier fare that his other works are known for. Thing is, Liefeld's entire run of X-Force lasted a whole nine issues. After that, he left Marvel to form Image Comics alongside the other artists who quit, and began working on the series' even more infamous Spiritual Successor Youngblood (Image Comics). X-Force co-creator Fabian Nicieza would salvage the team by having Cable leave while bringing back more New Mutants members, shift the series to a Lighter and Softer tone with more emphasis on Character Development, and when Cable returned, was retooled into the grumpy but likable father figure type he's known as today. Many other writers would take a crack at the X-Force team, with Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force in particular being acclaimed as one of the best X-books of any title, which is in stark contrast to the perception of the series being nothing more than dark age excess.
  • Considering how grandiose the Galactus Trilogy tends to be in Marvel lore, it can be a little funny to hear that its name is literal: it was exactly three issues long. Arguably less, since the story is resolved partway through the final issue. Once Original, Now Common also applies, as doing any kind of issue-to-issue story arc was a big deal back then. Compare that to the Ultimate Galactus Trilogy, which lasted fourteen issues spread across three miniseries.
  • If people know two things about Roy Harper/Speedy/Red Arrow/Arsenal, it's that he's Green Arrow's sidekick and he was addicted to heroin. The massive number of storylines to call back to the latter incident or have Roy struggle with being on the wagon might make you think it was pretty lengthy, similar to "Demon in a Bottle" or Harry Osborn's issues with addiction. It lasted exactly two issues, with Roy having his addiction introduced in the first issue and going cold-turkey in the second.
  • Barbara Gordon's actual career as Batgirl wasn't short by any means, but it also wasn't as long as a lot of future writers seemed to think it was. She debuted in Detective Comics #359 (1967), and her last significant adventure in-costume was in #527 (1983), with her putting on the suit a couple times in Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985) more or less as a callback and a special released in 1988 explained she had retired. During that period, she never held down any kind of solo series (unless you count the short-lived anthology Batman Family or backup stories in Detective Comics) and wasn't on any teams or a regular partner for Batman, so her actual appearances were often pretty intermittent. Part of the reason The Killing Joke happened was that Barbara was seen as pretty expendable by the Batman editorial offices at that point. Her time as Oracle (1990-2011) was actually significantly longer; by the time she resumed her "iconic" identity in The New 52, she'd been out of it for more time than she'd been in it, and racked up several times as many appearances without the identity. But Barbara's ubiquity in adaptations like Batman: The Animated Series created the impression that she'd been around a lot longer.
  • The classic "Big Seven" lineup of the Justice League of America has a rather disputable length, but most casual fans tend to think of it as covering the whole Silver Age. At its most liberal guess, it lasted nine years, with Wonder Woman leaving the group in 1969 due to the aforementioned I-Ching era, but several of its members were being phased out long before that—by 1964, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman were frequently absent. If you consider it to have only lasted when the team consisted of just the Big Seven, then that shrinks it down to just six issues, at which Green Arrow joined. And Superman and Batman did not play significant roles in those six issues and were clearly there for Wolverine Publicity, which has caused some to suggest that it never truly existed at all.
  • Perhaps the most famous period of Jack Kirby's life is when he left Marvel in 1970 to work for DC instead, tired of what he saw as mistreatment and lack of credit. Every biography or article on the guy will prominently mention it, and in comics culture as a whole, it tends to be seen as an End of an Era, since Kirby had been a major creative force within Marvel for decades. There have been countless callbacks to the era, and it has a pretty rarified place in DC's mythos as a whole. So how long was he active at DC? About five and a half years. As it turned out, Kirby didn't have a very pleasant time at DC, either, and most of the books and concepts he created for the company didn't last long, often failing to make it to 20 issues. Combine that with the DC Implosion, which saw the company suffer significantly, and he ended up briefly jumping ship back to Marvel for a couple years before spending the rest of his days working in animation or the independent comics scene. He did do some work for DC afterwards, but his total writing and art credits barely broke the double digits. Of course, it certainly doesn't hurt Kirby's reputation that he was an astoundingly prolific creator during that period; he was routinely putting out four or more issues every month at his height and created a whole mess of characters and concepts.
  • Though Stan Lee never stopped being involved in comics in some form, and was employed at Marvel as early as 1951, he was only regularly writing superhero comics from November 1961 to August 1972. The Fantastic Four #1 through 125 spans this entire period. After that point, he largely moved to a higher-up position at the company, working as a publisher and promotor. His time with his two most well-known collaborators, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, was even shorter, with Kirby leaving in late 1970 and Ditko as early as mid-1966. This makes it all the more impressive just how many characters and books he was involved in the creation of; nearly every notable creation of his was in that eleven-year run.
  • The Grey Spy in MAD's Spy vs. Spy only appeared for about three out of the 26 years that original creator Antonio Prohias drew the comic — and even then, only during the early-to-mid Sixties — before Prohias phased her out after finding her Invincible Villainy boring. That said, the Grey Spy was popular enough that later artists would periodically bring her back.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • The Disney Renaissance lasted for only ten years, from The Little Mermaid (released in 1989) to Tarzan (released in 1999). People think it lasted into the 2000s because of the prevalence of the All Animation Is Disney trope. (That said, the early 2000s saw a handful of successful Disney films, just not on the level of Renaissance-era material.)
    • The original Disney golden age was even shorter, lasting just five years and five films from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Bambi. After that World War II meant the market could no longer support the high budgets and a series of much cheaper films would be made for the rest of the decade. It wasn't until the highly successful Cinderella in 1950 that Disney would get around to making blockbusters again.
    • For that matter, Walt Disney's lifespan was shorter than is commonly remembered; since he died while several films were still in production, the first few animated films of Disney's Dark Age are popularly misremembered as having been made when he was alive. In particular, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is so associated with Walt's style and preferred subject matter (20th century British children's stories) that it's commonly assumed he was alive for it.note 
  • The box-office rivalry between Don Bluth and Disney essentially lasted three years, from 1986 to 1989. It spanned the films An American Tail vs. The Great Mouse Detective, The Land Before Time vs. Oliver & Company, and All Dogs Go to Heaven vs. The Little Mermaid. Bluth won the first two battles, but decidedly lost the third, after which he was never again a serious financial threat to Disney, though Anastasia was enough of a box office hit to put him back on the public consciousness at the time and it was directly similar to Disney princess flicks. (Disney took the threat seriously enough that they re-released The Little Mermaid to theaters to compete with Anastasia.)

    Films — Live-Action 


  • It's a topic of debate among historians about when the real start and end of The Golden Age of Hollywood really is, especially the era as it is imagined and come to be remembered. As film historians have long noted, what is called the Golden Age is just an umbrella term for a very diverse three decade era (1930-1960)note .
    Peter Bogdanovich: One time while I was bemoaning the end of the golden age of pictures, Welles laughed and said, 'Well, come on, what do you expect? Even the height of the Renaissance only lasted 60 years!
    • Screwball Comedy (dealing with fast-talking repartee, male-female Slap-Slap-Kiss dynamic) was more or less a mid-30s phenomenon, between 1934 (Twentieth Century) and Bringing Up Baby (a flop at the time but Vindicated by History) and the comedies of The '40s (by Preston Sturges) and The '50s (by Frank Tashlin and Blake Edwards and Billy Wilder) were quite different in style and content. Indeed, Some Like It Hot was set in The30s precisely because the writer-director saw it as a Genre Throwback and Homage but it's often seen as a straight example. The Western enjoyed the height of its popularity in the Silent Era and became finished for The30s until John Ford's Stagecoach revived it in the late-thirties. The period of the "classic Western" was really The '50s where it was the most popular genre which means that the phenomenon and conventions the so-called "revisionist Westerns" were attacking in The '60s was a highly recent phenomenon, and most of those films got credit that rightly belong to films made before that had most of the Unbuilt Trope (The Searchers, Run of the Arrow, Pursued, The Naked Spur).
    • Film Noir more or less began in The '40s and ended by the late-fifties. But specifically, the classic image of Film Noir, i.e. — private-eyes in fedoras, glamorous Femme Fatale, Art Deco interiors and exteriors is more or less a phenomenon of the early to mid-forties. The vast majority of Film Noir were B-Movie, featuring unglamorous and seedy working-class type characters and by the Mid-40s and fifties, many noir inspired by Italian neorealism and documentary films were actually trying to shoot on location and de-glamorize itself. Indeed, the French historian Raymond Borde said that this classic noir had become such a Dead Horse Trope and cliche, that it was parodied in the final number of an MGM Musical The Band Wagon. As for The Musical, there are three-kinds of musicals people remember, the Busby Berkeley kind (an almost entirely Pre-Code to Mid-thirties phenomenon), the Astaire-Rogers musicals (almost entirely a post-code to late-thirties phenomenon) and the MGM Musical which in its classic form was late-40s to mid-50s.
    • The Epic Movie is often typified in people's minds by films like Gone with the Wind but that film was so expensive and such a Troubled Production that most studio chiefs and observers saw it as a lucky shot and cited producer David O. Selznick's failures to repeat that phenomenon as case in point. The real Epic Movie craze began in the middle of The '50s, many of them set in Hollywood History of Ancient Grome, with large sets and casts of thousands, and most of these films weren't made in Hollywood but in Rome's Cinecitta's studios.
    • The classic "studio system" era lasted from 1929-1947. A antitrust decision handed down by the Supreme Court in 1948 stripped the studios of much of their influence and the Hollywood of The '50s was a very different decade. This was the decade of Brando and James Dean, when actors, directors and local distributors were no longer held in control by the major studios, where you had such cynical and cold films as Sweet Smell of Success and other censorship pushing Genre-Busting directors like Samuel Fuller, Nicholas Ray and Anthony Mann who J. Hoberman noted were the unrecognized New Wave who actually inspired The Auteur Theory.
  • Grace Kelly's movie career lasted just five years (1951 to 1956). James Dean's movie career lasted several years and three movies. His first lead role, East of Eden was released only six months before his death and that was also the only film whose premiere Dean attended. Rebel Without a Cause and Giant were both posthumous releases. Bruce Lee's film career included many bit parts in Hong Kong, but he only starred in four complete films over a three year period (plus Game of Death, which was unfinished).
  • "Blockbuster" movies have not been particularly "cool" (as opposed to "popular", which is not quite the same thing) for a long time now. Among some circles, they are still not cool. That said, if you were to believe some people's memories the entire quarter-century between Jaws (1975) and 9/11 was one long carnival of Hollywood hoopla and goofiness. In truth, the blockbuster mentality reigned unchallenged in Tinseltown for only about a decade or so after Jaws and Star Wars (1977). Blockbuster mania only really swept in around 1984, which saw the beginning of several boffo franchises: Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Terminator, Gremlins, The Karate Kid, Police Academy, and The Neverending Story alongside the continuing Indiana Jones, Star Trek, and Friday the 13th franchises, or the semi-successful attempt to continue the Conan franchise with Conan the Destroyer. It was during the mid-to-late 1980s that Sequelitis and The Merch became cultural jokes, and the stock complaint that "everything in the movies now is a sequel or a remake or an adaptation of something" began to be heard. This "first" blockbuster era began to fade in 1994, with an interim period of "indie" films like Pulp Fiction and Clerks. The second blockbuster era erupted in The Oughties, ushered in by films like Batman Begins, Casino Royale (2006) and Transformers (2007). These so-called "gritty reboots" of popular franchises were characterized by a distinctive aesthetic and thematic profile (Jitter Cam, Color Wash, Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie, etc.), and the trend persisted until the mid-New Tens. Around 2016 or so, the "gritty reboot" became an overused cliché in itself, and blockbusters became more colorful and light-hearted (perhaps best exemplified by the Marvel Cinematic Universe).
  • Despite a fifty-plus year career in film including some of the largest franchises of all time, George Lucas only actually directed six films in his life: THX 1138, American Graffiti, the original Star Wars, and the prequel trilogy over 20 years later. He was also a co-writer for other two films of the original Star Wars trilogy. Every other film he was involved in was merely as an executive producer and/or general ideas guy.
  • Bela Lugosi will forever be known as the definitive onscreen actor of Count Dracula, which could easily lead one to assume that he appeared in that role in a great many films, but in reality he only did so twice (Dracula and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein). He was actually more associated with his frequent stage performances as the Count during his lifetime. For comparison, Christopher Lee played Dracula nine times. He was even rumored to have said that he would play Dracula again if someone would write a film adaptation true to the original Stoker novel... which of course no one did.
  • Godzilla:
  • The image of Clint Eastwood as the poncho-clad, cigar-smoking "Man With No Name" has become such a monolith of the western genre that a misconception has arisen that Eastwood played the character for decades in many different films, but in reality the Dollars Trilogy directed by Sergio Leone is the only time he played that exact role — three movies, three years. Hang 'Em High, High Plains Drifter, Pale Rider, and Unforgiven are commonly mistaken as being additional chapters of the Man With No Name's mythical story (sometimes even the DVD packaging makes this claim) but Eastwood plays distinct characters in all of them. Eastwood did later declare Unforgiven to be a sort of Distant Finale for the Man With No Name, but there's nothing in the film itself that makes this connection explicit.
  • The "Hitchcock blonde" unleashes a perennial groan from many Hitchcock scholars. Alfred Hitchcock had a career from The '20s to The '70s. Before The '50s, the only real blondes in a female lead role are Anny Ondra in Blackmail (1929) and Madeleine Carroll in The 39 Steps (1935). In between, most of Hitchcock's leading ladies were black-haired or brunettes (Sylvia Sidney, Joan Fontaine, Ingrid Bergman, Teresa Wright). It is only in the '50s that you see prominently blonde actresses (Grace Kelly, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint, Vera Miles, Janet Leigh, Tippi Hedren) and as Hitchcock explained this was because blondes were popular in the '50s, and as a mainstream film-maker, he more or less did reflect popular ongoing trends in his movies. Film scholars and at one point, Hitchcock himself, also pointed out all his characters are subversions of the Dumb Blonde stereotype.
  • Although The Little Rascals series ran for over two decades (1922-44), the tremendously high cast turnover meant that entire lineups seldom lasted for more than a year. One reason the "classic" lineup of Spanky-Alfalfa-Buckwheat-Darla is so well-remembered is because all of them had long (and overlapping) tenures with Our Gang... but they still only formed the core ensemble for six years (1936-42).
  • As for International and Non-Hollywood Cinema:
  • While James Bond is the opposite of this trope, the iconic series-defining run of Sean Connery in the title role lasted just five years from 1962-1967. Technically speaking, every other actor except for George Lazenby was in the role for a longer period of time, even if they were in fewer films. Even Timothy Dalton had a seven year contract, leaving the franchise after his next film was stuck in Development Hell. Connery did return later for Diamonds Are Forever and then again even later for Never Say Never Again, neither of which had anywhere near the impact of his 60s run.
  • The Silent Era of cinema technically averts this stretching back in the 1880s and only ending in 1930. However the peak of the Silent Era - the Silent Era of popular imagination with purpose built movie theatres, melodrama serials, full length movies, globally famous actors and actresses and epic productions - has a much shorter run of less than two decades from the early 1910s to The Jazz Singer in 1927. It is this brief period that tends to be focused on in later look backs at the era such as Singin' in the Rain, The Artist or Babylon (2022).


  • The famous "kissing in the surf" scene in From Here to Eternity has been parodied and homaged a dozen times or more. In the original, it's three seconds long.
  • Citizen Kane somehow has acquired the reputation of being a very long movie. In fact, it doesn't even hit the two-hour mark (just barely, though: it runs 119 minutes). This is actually more of a generational thing: many movies of the 1930s were less than 90 minutes long (some weren't even 80 minutes long), so Kane seemed interminable by comparison. Kane also covers nearly 70 years of history, so it definitely has an epic feel.
  • The climax of Home Alone, from the clock striking to Harry getting hit with the shovel, lasts under fourteen minutes. This is also pretty much the only scene where Marv and Harry suffer any physical harm. From the way most people remember it and the massive amount of knockoffs featuring near-identical scenes, you'd think the entire movie was just Kevin pranking the bandits. (The sequel, on the other hand...)
  • Despite Anthony Hopkins winning an Oscar in the role, Hannibal Lecter doesn't appear in that many scenes in The Silence of the Lambs. In fact, Hopkins' performance is the second shortest to win Best Actor, and shortest in terms of percentage of the film's runtime.
  • Although most would describe the premise of It's a Wonderful Life as "a dude's guardian angel shows him what the world would be like if he had never been born," this actually doesn't happen until the final half-hour of a film that runs 2 hours and 10 minutes. Most of the movie is actually just showing us all of the sacrifices that George has made during his life and where it has gotten him; his declaration that he wishes he was never born is essentially the beginning of the third act.
    • The movie is also constantly perceived as a "Christmas movie"; as with the "alternate timeline" premise above, the Christmas-laden atmosphere also doesn't take a prominent hold until the third act, when George nearly gives up on life on the holiday. However, its status as a "Christmas movie" is also due to the fact that someone forgot to renew the copyright of the film, leading to it entering the Public Domain in the 70s and thus being shown on as many as six channels at once on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for many years.
  • A particularly thrilling action sequence in a film may be so memorable that it seems longer than its actual running time; an "epic" score on the soundtrack certainly helps.
    • A good example is the tank chase through the desert in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It takes up eight minutes of screen time...but it's so momentous and packed with action (at one point the shots are alternating within a second or so of each other) that it seems twice as long.
    • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, the iconic scene with the rolling boulder lasts less than twenty seconds.
  • The Halloween series is often remembered as about Michael Myers hunting his sister, Laurie. However, the revelation that she was his sister was completely absent from the original film, and was the twist in the last fifteen minutes of the second film. Laurie was then absent for the next three movies (not counting the third film, which had a completely separate story unrelated to Michael Myers as part of an ultimately abandoned attempt to turn the franchise into an anthology series), returned as a main character in the seventh movie (by which time Jamie Lee Curtis had aged 20 years), to be killed off at the beginning of the eighth. So, H20 is the only film in the original series in which the brother/sister dynamic was prominent, although it was played to full effect in the remake and its sequel. And notably, the angle was dropped entirely for Halloween (2018) and its sequels, which applied Canon Discontinuity to all the but first film, since by that point, the opinion had become fairly common that the idea of them being siblings was a mistake.
  • The Back to the Future trilogy:
    • Marty's complete Iconic Outfit with the jean jacket and "life preserver" vest only ever appears in Part I, and even then he doesn't don the vest until about 15 minutes into the movie. He also doesn't exactly keep it on for the whole film, and there are plenty of notable scenes (like the skateboard chase or the prom) where he wears a different outfit. Similarly, Doc's iconic yellow 2015 garb is only seen in the last scene of Part I and the first scene of Part II, for maybe a grand total of 15 minutes.
    • The DeLorean's famous OUTATIME license plate is only seen on the car for a few minutes, and gets knocked off during the first time travel experiment. It stays off the car for the rest of the movie, and is replaced by an orange barcode license plate (from 2015) in the sequels.
    • The DeLorean is famously remembered for flying, but only ever flew during Part II (aside from the ten second Sequel Hook gag at the end of Part I). For the majority of Part I and the entirety of Part III, it drives on the ground like a regular car.
    • Marty's rival Needles only appears during two brief scenes in the entire trilogy, and only during the sequel movies.
    • The mall and the Libyans only appear in Part I, and are not referenced again in the sequels.
    • Marty's pink hoverboard from 2015 is regarded as a quintessential icon of The '80s (as depicted in a second season episode of The Goldbergs). However, Part II came out on November 22, 1989, meaning that, aside from trailers and pre-release materials, hoverboards were only in the public awareness for the last 40 days of the decade.
    • The sports almanac is a recognizable symbol of the trilogy, but it only appears in Part II (although it's briefly mentioned a couple of times in Part III).
    • Jules and Verne Brown featured prominently in the animated series and the comic book, but were only ever in the movies proper during the last three minutes of Part III, without any lines.
    • Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson both play major roles in all three movies, but only have one scene together, with only a single exchange of dialogue between their characters, when Doc and Lorraine exchange an awkward "Hi" in Doc's garage in Part I.
    • Similarly, despite Biff being a villain in the first two movies, he only has one very brief direct interaction with Doc in the entire trilogy, when Doc knocks 1985-A Biff out with the DeLorean door in Part II.note 
  • While often parodied (and the inspiration for the 80s arcade game Charley Chuck's Food Fight), the infamous "FOOD FIGHT!" in Animal House lasted for a few seconds at most, and we only see the start, plus the person who yells it doesn't even partake in the fight and just runs away, using it as a cover to get away from the people he was fighting with before. (The humor was more in the buildup, and that grown adults are doing it in a mundane cafeteria.)
  • Logan and Jean Grey spend less than a week together in the first three movies of the X-Men Film Series, but their "relationship" is often remembered as one of the highlights of the series. They both live at Xavier's mansion in the first movie (which takes place over the course of a few days), but they don't see each other at all in the interim between X-Men and X2: X-Men United, as Logan leaves to look for the Alkali Lake facility and doesn't return until the beginning of X2. Even when Logan returns, he doesn't see Jean again (aside from one brief conversation with her) until the night before the climactic Final Battle in The Last Stand — during which Jean dies.
  • As in It's a Wonderful Life, the part of Vertigo that everyone remembers is actually the last act rather than the main storyline—Judy Barton only appears in the final 36 minutes of the film.
  • The iconic "news team brawl" in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is one of the most famous moments in the film, largely due to its comically over-the-top violence. But the entire fight (not counting its lengthy buildup) lasts just over a minute before the cops suddenly show up to break it up.

  • The Regency only lasted 9 years, from 1811-20. Yet according to the romance novel industry, at least half of England's peerage and gentry must have gotten married during this time.
  • A stereotypical parody/homage of Harry Potter will feature Harry and friends attending Hogwarts while at the same time a corporeal Lord Voldemort is openly fighting to Take Over the World. These things only happen at the same time in one of the seven books, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Interestingly, some parodies featuring this, such as Potter Puppet Pals, actually predate the publication of Half-Blood Prince. The main reason it exists is that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire had featured Voldemort's resurrection, leaving audiences three years to assume that the obvious next step was open warfare until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix featured him undercover and infiltrating the Ministry. Furthermore, few people guessed that the final book in the series, two years after Half-Blood Prince, would feature Harry mostly away from Hogwarts. Because of these factors, "corporeal Voldemort openly battles Harry at school" remained the common assumption of what the next book would be about for seven years, in a series that went on for 10 — while the parody was only realized once, the assumption behind it had been around for most of the series's lifespan.
  • The entire Animorphs series was released over the course of less than five years: June 1996 to May 2001. Despite having dozens of installments and a sizeable multimedia franchise (three video games, a TV show, some toys, and several spinoff novels), the series was around for a considerably shorter time than many of its contemporaries, like Goosebumps, The Baby-Sitters Club, and the Bailey School Kids books. But considering how heavily associated it is with youth literature of the 1990s, it's easy to get the impression that it dominated the entire decade.note 

    Live-Action TV 
  • M*A*S*H, the period of the show that could be termed "Original M*A*S*H" note  ended three years into the show's 11-year run, with the departures of both Henry Blakenote  and "Trapper" John McIntyrenote  after the episode "Abyssina, Henry". In fact, all three replaced characters (Blake, McIntyre, and Frank Burnsnote ) had shorter tenures than their replacements, BJ Hunnicuttnote , Col. Sherman Potternote  and Charles Emerson Winchester IIInote note , all three lasted until the series end in 1983, and if you count After M*A*S*H as Seasons 12 and 13 of M*A*S*H, Potter even lasted till 1985.
  • The classic Batman TV series lasted from 1966 to 1968 — somehow, it ended up forming everyone's opinion of the caped crusader at least until 1989. The fact that it's predominately in a two-parter format for most of the series enabled the series have 120 episodes, far more than enough for a suitable syndication package that can last 24 weeks of syndication stripped weekday broadcasts and thus be viable for reruns for years.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series is the best-known Star Trek series, but it was also the shortest-lived of the five live-action Trek series, staying on the air for less than three years (September 1966 to June 1969). Its ubiquity in reruns in The '70s (and the vibrant Trekkie culture that emerged during this time period) plus the six-film series that spanned 1979 to 1991 created the impression that it ran for much longer — as late as 1983, in Leonard Nimoy's Star Trek Memories TV special, he claims that many viewers believe that the show is still running.
    • Also, the fact that its famous "five-year mission" apparently lasted long enough to include a virtually limitless number of stories from television, books, comics, etc. In this case it helps that the end (and the beginning, for that matter) of the five-year mission has never been depicted in canon — Star Trek: The Motion Picture picks up some years after the end of it.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: the Borg are iconic to the franchise, so much so that many newcomers are surprised to learn that the Collective proper only appeared a grand total of thrice in the entire 15-year combined run of 178 episodes and 4 movies. Those appearances were in Q Who (their introduction), The Best of Both Worlds (the two-parter where they kidnap Picard and attack Earth), and First Contact (to date, their only film appearance). Rogue drones disconnected from the Collective appeared two other times (I, Borg and Descent). Their constant appearances in the later Star Trek: Voyager and in TNG's spin-off media (novels, games, etc.) gave the impression that they were around in TNG a lot longer than they actually were.
  • Chevy Chase was a cast member on Saturday Night Live for just over a year.
    • Same for Billy Crystal, Martin Short, and Christopher Guest.
    • Steve Martin only appeared in eight episodes of SNL between 1976 and 1980, where he served as guest host. However, owing to his frequent appearances (three in 1978 alone) and his participation in classic sketches such as "The Fenstruck Brothers," it's not surprising that many believe that Martin was a regular.
  • Pointed out in an episode of Horrible Histories, where the cowboys sing about how they "only ruled the range for 20 years."
  • Police Squad! ran for only six(!) episodes, and yet somehow those episodes managed to inspire the enormously successful trilogy of The Naked Gun movies several years later. Of course, part of what made the Naked Gun films such a hit was that Police Squad was one of the definitive Too Good to Last shows.
  • A stereotypical Doctor Who Shallow Parody will often involve Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor battling the Daleks—something that only happened in two stories that aired six years apart in the 50+ year history of the series, and only one of which ("Genesis of the Daleks") is considered particularly memorable. The misconception likely stems from the common assumption that the most iconic Doctor and the most iconic monsters had to have fought each other more than twice, even though they didn't.
  • Owing to British Brevity, influential Britcoms and other series are almost always subject to this:
    • Fawlty Towers is widely considered one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. Only twelve episodes were ever produced.
    • Likewise The Young Ones, an enormously influential sitcom for which only twelve episodes were produced.
    • Father Ted (set in Ireland but produced by Channel 4) ran for three years in which only 24 episodes were produced, and yet is widely considered the greatest Irish sitcom ever made, launched the careers of dozens of actors and comedians and is still endlessly quoted and referenced in Ireland nearly twenty years after the end of its run.
    • Many British and some American children have fond memories of Mr. Bean, enough to think he must have been around for ten seasons or so. But no: just 15 episodes were ever made and two theatrical films came later. It poses the question: when does a TV series stop being a TV series and start being a succession of made-for-television comedy specials?
  • Friends:
    • Rachel's occupation as a waitress at Central Perk is synonymous with the character despite the fact she only held the job for two and a half out of 10 seasons.
    • The infamous haircut which bears Rachel's name lasted for barely more than a season — the last few episodes of season one and all of season two. Jennifer Aniston hated the hairstyle and started wearing her hair differently in the third season.
    • Ross and Rachel are a proper couple for just about a year out of the show's ten-season run: after a couple of false starts, they get together for real at the end of "The One with the Prom Video" (aired February 1, 1996) and break up in "The One with the Morning After" (aired February 20, 1997). By contrast, the Beta Couple Chandler and Monica are together for a full six seasons (starting in the fourth season finale).
    • All three of the above overlap with each other, but for an even more brief span: the second half of the second season, or just ten episodes out of 236note . That this stretch of episodes is considered the very height of the show's golden age is probably no coincidence.
  • Cheers:
    • Sam and Diane may be one of the iconic Will They or Won't They? couples in television history, but the question was answered with "they will" as soon as the first season finale (which, granted, was scripted and shot as a possible series finale, given the show's low ratings at the time).note  They broke up and then got back together on a few occasions after this, of course, but in comparison with many pairings inspired by Sam and Diane which take years to come to fruition (consider Niles and Daphne on Spin-Off Frasier at seven seasons), the contrast is striking.
    • Speaking of Frasier, much is made of his relationship with Diane — he is introduced as her new boyfriend, after all, and she leaves him at the altar — to the point that he consistently remembers her as one of the great loves of his life on Frasier; she even merits a guest appearance in that capacity alongside his two ex-wives and his mother). They were only together for a single season (3). By contrast, Frasier starts dating Lilith in the following season and their relationship lasts for the better part of eight seasons (4-11)... on the other hand, given Frasier's predilection for Girl of the Week on his own show, it's very possible Diane is one of the longest-lasting relationships he's ever had.
  • Mission: Impossible: The cast lineup everyone remembers (Peter Graves as Jim Phelps, Martin Landau as Rollin Hand, Barbara Bain as Cinnamon Carter, Greg Morris as Barney Collier, and Peter Lupus as Willy Armitage) only lasted for two out of the show's seven seasons (1967-69).
  • 24:
    • Jack Bauer's time as an official CTU agent only lasts for the show's first three seasons. After the third season he is fired from CTU, and is only specially commissioned for the day each season afterwards, with the exception of Season 7 where CTU isn't even involved. Even his tenure as CTU agent doesn't last through the entire three seasons, as during Season 2 he had resigned following his wife's murder and was specially brought because of the circumstances much like the case of post-Season 3 seasons.
    • Aside from Jack, the core cast everyone associates with the show is Kim Bauer, Tony Almeida, Michelle Dessler, President David Palmer, Chloe O'Brian, Bill Buchanan, and Curtis Manning. There's only one season in which all seven characters appear: the fifth. And even then, not all of them appear throughout the entire season's run: Michelle Dessler and David Palmer are both killed in the fifth season premiere, while Tony Almeida only appeared in a handful of episodes in the first half of the season before dying at the beginning of the second half (although the death would later be retconned in future seasons). Kim had also left the series by the end of the third season and appeared in two episodes in the middle of season five in a guest appearance.
  • Everyone remembers Charlie's Angels as starring Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Jaclyn Smith. Except this lineup lasted for just one of the show's five seasons: Fawcett left after season 1 and was replaced by Cheryl Ladd. Despite seeing out the remainder of the show's run, Ladd has remained in Fawcett's shadow ever since (it didn't help that Fawcett was the only Angel to return for guest appearances after departing). In fact, only one of the three original Angels (Jaclyn Smith) remained part of the series for its entire run.
  • The Honeymooners ran as a stand-alone sitcom for just one season (1955-56) of 39 episodes, and it is these episodes which are the only ones to appear in syndication. However, the Honeymooners characters enjoyed a much longer life as a recurring sketch on Jackie Gleason's shows, starting with his DuMont program Cavalcade of Stars in 1951. He brought them over with him to CBS for The Jackie Gleason Show in 1952, which ran for three seasons. An hour-long variety series, by the 1954-55 season, most episodes of The Jackie Gleason Show were mostly (or even entirely!) comprised of a Honeymooners sketch, which inspired Gleason to attempt making a proper sitcom out of it. He decided it was a failed experiment after its one and only season and revived The Jackie Gleason Show for one more season in 1956-57, with more Honeymooners sketches. Gleason would revive the format occasionally as late as The '70s, but most Honeymooners sketches and specials which aired after 1957 were either remakes or musical episodes (and sometimes both!). However, the core cast lineup of Gleason-Carney-Meadows-Randolph lasted only from 1952 to 1957, with Randolph never again returning to play Trixie Norton after that (although Alice was recast for the show's return in The '60s, Audrey Meadows did reprise her role as Alice in several one-off specials in The '70s).
  • Perhaps due to its influence on popular culture and for how many television remakes it inspired (as well as a movie), many seem to remember the original version of The Twilight Zone (1959) as having run longer than its five seasons (1959-64).
  • if you ever hear people talk about that long-running Japanese superhero series known as Ultraman, feel free to point out that Ultraman only ran for 39 episodes from 1966-1967; what they're really thinking of is the Ultra Series franchise the show spawned.
  • One of the most famous parts of Breaking Bad is Walt's time as a drug kingpin, having defeated all his enemies and set up his own meth operation. Given the prominence of it in media and when discussing Walt as a character, people tend to think of it having been a long and brutal tenure. In reality, this idea is confined to the first half of the fifth season; he decides to start the operation in "Madrigal" (the 48th episode) and decides to back out and retire in "Gliding Over All" (the 54th episode). He also doesn't start to turn a big profit from his deeds until he cuts a deal in "Say My Name"... the episode directly before "Gliding Over All." So that iconic image of Walt in his hazard suit, reclining like a king on his throne with piles and piles of cash in the background? That was effectively only the status quo of two episodes in the last season of the show. This applies in-universe as well, as those episodes (mostly the second) cover a period of about five months, meaning that was about how long "Heisenberg" was considered anything more than a talented cooker by police and the criminal underworld. (By comparison, Gustavo Fring was acting as a distributor for over twenty years, and was independent for around six.) Of course, the consequences of that period, in particular Walt's inability to simply leave the business behind, end up lasting to the end of the show.
  • Ensembles on SCTv, despite being drawn from the same pool of fewer than a dozen performers over the entire show's run, rarely remained static for long, with not a single roster lasting for more than one season:
    • When the show premiered in 1976, the cast consisted of John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, and Dave Thomas (all from The Second City troupe in Toronto during the mid-1970s, with several of them also appearing in the legendary 1972 Toronto stage production of Godspell), and head writer Harold Ramis (from the Chicago troupe of The Second City). Ramis mostly appeared in front of the camera only during the show's first season, though he stayed on as head writer for season 2.
    • With the show's third season coming more than a year after the end of the second, and a move from Toronto, with its thriving entertainment industry and relatively warm weather, to the bitterly cold and relatively remote Edmontonnote  on the cards, Candy and O'Hara quit entirely, Flaherty only rejoined the cast late in the season (after filming his scenes in Stripes), and Levy and Martin both scaled down their involvement to "part-time" contributors, forcing the producers to hire two other Second City vets, Robin Duke and Tony Rosato, as well as popular Toronto radio personality Rick Moranis (a friend of Thomas, who had been promoted to replace the departing Ramis as head writer) to replace them. At the time, Saturday Night Live was going through a very difficult period and seemed likely to be cancelled, and NBC sought out a new sketch comedy series to replace it. SCTV, which was airing on American stations in syndication, caught their attention and NBC decided to produce a fourth season which would air first-run on their network.
    • O'Hara and Candy both returned for season 4, with Levy and Martin also returning full-time, resulting in the departure of Duke and Rosato. Moranis stayed on, both because of his rapport with Thomas and because of his proven excellence at developing characters and sketches with his own creative voice. However, the popular Great White North sketch they had developed at the behest of the CBC in season 3 had exploded into a full-blown fad, leading to the development of a movie adaptation which saw Moranis and Thomas leave at the end of the season to write, produce, and star in. Anticipating this, the producers hired another Toronto Second City vet (and co-star in Godspell), Martin Short, to join the cast. This lineup of Candy, Flaherty, Levy, Martin, Moranis, O'Hara, Short, and Thomas is the one credited in syndicated re-runs of the series despite the fact that they all appeared together as repertory players in a grand total of three episodes.
    • Along with Moranis and Thomas, O'Hara also declined to return for the fifth season despite NBC continuing to produce and air it. However, by this time Dick Ebersol had taken over at SNL and with the meteoric rise of Eddie Murphy, that show was no longer in any danger of cancellation, so SCTV was no longer needed. NBC declined to renew the series, and in Canada the CBC was no longer interested, leaving SCTV without a home.
    • Pay-cable (in the form of Superchannel) stepped in to produce a sixth season, though Candy declined to return. As a result the final season cast was a quartet: Flaherty, Levy, Martin, and Short (though a few of their former co-stars returned for guest apperances).
    • The most iconic recurring segment on SCTV, as mentioned above, is The Great White North, which spawned an album and the show's only movie spin-off. However, that segment only appeared in two seasons, seasons 3 and 4, and in season 3 it was only included in the Canadian broadcasts (its popularity led to NBC insisting on it being included in the American broadcasts). The sketch was created by Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis, who played the two lead characters, Bob and Doug MacKenzie. The segments were included in almost every episode in those two seasons (though it started to appear less often by the end of the fourth season). The reason the sketch was discontinued after that was because Thomas and Moranis left the show to film Strange Brew.
  • Quantum Leap:
    • Gooshie only ever appeared on-screen in six out of the show's 97 episodes. But he's The Ghost in most others, as Al usually yells at him Once an Episode.
    • The Evil Leapers are considered a major presence in the show, which is astounding considering they're only in three out of its 97 episodes — all of which were in the show's final season — and they aren't mentioned in other episodes, and only got a very brief mention on the sequel series. Renee Coleman (who played Alia) even turned down an interview with a fan podcast because it had been a such brief and unmemorable acting job.
  • Most outside discussions of Tomorrow's Pioneers will often assume that Farfour was the Series Mascot for the entirety of its approximately 2 and a half year runtime. In actuality, he only appeared in 5 episodes over 3 months before being Killed Off for Real.

  • Disney Adventures:
    • The magazine's Burbank production, often seen as its "golden years", lasted from the magazine's first issue in November 1990 to the December 1994 issue, just barely over four years total out of the magazine's 17-year lifespan.
    • It's often remembered as an annual recurring feature, but overall there were only three issues with the 3D gimmick: November 1992, November 1993, and July 1994.
    • Heidi MacDonald's Comic Zone column, one of the more well-remembered features after the magazine's move to New York, was only around from January 1995 to December 1997, just barely under three years.
    • Comics-wise, The Adventures of D & A only appeared in three issues, and Luna Park only appeared in two.
  • MAD:
    • Founding editor Harvey Kurtzman's editorial tenure lasted from 1952 to 1956, before his acromonious departure. His successor Al Feldstein, on the other hand, lasted from 1956 to 1985, a whopping 29 years.
    • After its editorial move to Los Angeles and reboot in 2018, the magazine only lasted 10 issues before it switched to a rerun-heavy format following the departure of new editor Bill Morrison. This hybrid format lasted until October 2020, which was the last issue to feature any new original content.

  • The Notorious B.I.G. only recorded two studio albums during his life, both with Harsher in Hindsight titles. Ready to Die was released in 1994 with Life After Death following three years later, less than a month after the rapper's death. Most of his best known songs ("Juicy," "Hypnotize," "Big Poppa," "One More Chance," "Mo' Money Mo' Problems") come off of those albums.
  • Almost all of the musical works Kurt Weill wrote in collaboration with Bertolt Brecht were created between 1927 and 1930. The Seven Deadly Sins (1933) is the only significant exception.
  • No matter how you slice it, the golden age of Rock & Roll, the most influential genre of popular music in the 20th century, lasted for less than the length of one US presidential administration: it started with the release of Blackboard Jungle on March 25, 1955, and ended, at the latest, on The Day The Music Died: February 3, 1959 — less than four years. Many commentators in fact peg the start of the decline of rock and roll music earlier: Jerry Lee Lewis marrying his cousin (May 1958), Elvis Presley being drafted into the Army (March 1958), or Little Richard's religious conversion and retirement from secular music (October 1957, barely six months after his album Here's Little Richard was released). It was well and truly over by the start of The '60s, after Chuck Berry was arrested and several key figures in the genre (including Alan Freed, the man who coined the term "rock and roll") were brought down in a payola scandal.
    • Similarly, the notion of rock and roll being "the Devil's music", which supposedly dominated the 1950s, was, in historical terms, over almost as soon as it began. Barely more than two years after the release of Blackboard Jungle, on April 10, 1957, Ricky Nelson performed Fats Domino's "I'm Walkin'" on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, signaling that rock and roll had fully entered the mainstream. While parents still didn't like rock music after that, they understood that, if Ozzie and Harriet could give it their stamp of approval, it must not be a social menace after all, and were at least able to tolerate it. That said, it made a comeback during the Satanic Panic (mostly in the '80s and '90s) and continues in some areas even to this day.
    • Likewise, Buddy Holly's music career lasted a year and a half until his death in a plane crash.
  • The Sex Pistols, credited with starting the Punk Rock movement, were together initially for only two and a half years, produced four singles and one album.
    • Sid Vicious, despite being the most famous member, was with the band for such a short time that they only recorded about three songs with him.
    • If the releases of the albums Ramones by the Ramones and London Calling by The Clash are viewed as the beginning and end respectively of the classic punk era, it lasted just 44 months (April 1976 to December 1979). And since punk rock didn't gain mainstream media attention until late 1977 at the earliest, the era was effectively even shorter.
  • Nirvana's mainstream popularity lasted about two and a half years before Kurt Cobain's suicide ended the band. After Cobain's death the popularity of the band rose to even greater levels. Their posthumous releases easily outnumber the releases they made when he was alive.
  • Jane's Addiction lasted only six years in its original, and most influential incarnation. Their only pre-major label release was their self-titled live album in 1987. Their two critically acclaimed and influential albums, Nothing's Shocking and Ritual de lo Habitual, were released within the next few years, right before calling it quits on top of their popularity and influence in 1991. The breakup tour served as a foundation of the Lollapalooza festival.
  • The Lollapalooza tour lasted only six years in its original incarnation, due to Perry Farrell abandoning the project owing to growing disillusionment in 1996 following the addition of Metallica, the relative decline of alternative music, and also the Lilith Fair stealing a good deal of the buzz.
  • Lilith Fair itself is a good example of this, running for only three years in its original incarnation (1997-99), with a failed revival in 2010. It is often conflated with the alternative music scene and third-wave feminism in general, despite not lasting for nearly as long as either of them.
  • Considering how strongly associated they are with the subject, The Beach Boys only sang about surfing from November 1961 to July 1963 (less than two years). The main reason it lasted that long at all was because Capitol Records and Murry Wilson constantly urged them for new material and they wrote new songs on the subject to pad out the three albums they did in that period (most evident on the second album Surfin' USA). Even though they have been widely recognised as mature artists since Pet Sounds, they're still viewed by the general public as Those Guys Who Did Songs About Surfing and Cars.
  • The "classic" Guns N' Roses released three original albums (Appetite for Destruction and the Use Your Illusion twins), a Cover Album and a compilation mixing their first EP with some new songs before the band was effectively over, yet similar to the Nirvana example they have been treated like they went on for years. A few years later Axl revived the band on his own and released a new studio album following an 11-year production, but for most fans, that era is treated as Fanon Discontinuity (especially as, aside from keyboardist Dizzy Reed and a cameo every now and then, only Axl remained from the golden years until Slash and Duff returned in 2015).
  • The Spice Girls had maybe a grand total of 6 years together with 3 albums, 2 with the entire group, and two tours to their name.
  • Delta Goodrem, despite her immense success and opening the door for singer songwriters in Australia, has only had 4 albums out in the last 10-11 years. Influenced the likes of Gabriella Cilmi and Missy Higgins.
  • Amy Winehouse only released two albums in her lifetime, yet despite this she inspired and paved the way for arguably the most successful female singer songwriters of her generation. Adele, Lady Gaga, Paloma Faith, Rebecca Ferguson, Emili Sande, Jessie J, Duffy and Florence Welch have all personally cited Amy Winehouse as both a huge influence on their music as well as for paving the way for them and making it easier for them to enjoy huge success all over the world.
  • Disco's heyday was just a flash, it didn't enter the mainstream until 1974 and it wasn't until late 1977 that most hits associated it with it came out along with Saturday Night Fever. Disco Demolition Night, meanwhile, was less than two years later in July 1979, and by the end of 1981 it had all but faded entirely (only in the US, of course).
  • The era of "classic rock" — defined here as all non-psychedelic, non-metal, non-"alternative" hard rock of The '60s and The '70s — began on April 16, 1964 with the release of The Rolling Stones' first album and ended on October 28, 1977 with the release of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols by the Sex Pistols; Eagles' Hotel California, released ten months before Bollocks, is perhaps the last truly great album of the classic era. At thirteen and a half years, that's certainly a long time, but you'd be forgiven for thinking that era lasted until the 1990s or even later, judging by the continuous lionizing and pop-cultural appropriation of the classic bands for decades afterward — not to mention the condemnation and even outright ignoring of post-1977 hard rock by much of the mainstream music media.
  • Cream lasted from July 1966 to November 1968, but produced four studio albums, one a Distinct Double Album with a live disc, the other a posthumously released album also partially recorded live, and a number of posthumous live releases. However, in that time, they became one of the most influential bands of The '60s.
  • Similarly, Jimi Hendrix in his lifetime only managed to produce three studio albums (one a double disc), several standalone tracks released as singles, an album of live-recorded originals with Band Of Gypsys, and a large catalogue of unreleased and unfinished material, live recordings, demos, runthroughs, rehearsals, jam sessions, session work, sittings-in with various artists, alternate takes, etc. which still (as of December 2013) have yet to be fully unearthed and released. And his highly influential and revolutionary career as an artist in his own right only lasted from September 1966-September 1970; his last official album release came out in 1969. And that's not counting his pre-Experience career.
  • While the core band members had been together since the end of The '50s under various names with various musical styles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, under that name and with their Signature Style, only launched in 1967, and lasted until 1972. And yet this was enough for an acclaimed and extremely productive period where the group recorded six albums in three years (their self-titled debut in '68, three the following year, and two in 1970), after which Tom Fogerty left, and the band's attempt at surviving as a three-piece didn't stick.
  • David Bowie:
    • Bowie's star-making stage persona Ziggy Stardust came and went in less than two years. He toured as Ziggy from January 29, 1972 to July 3, 1973, during which time The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Aladdin Sane were released. By the end of 1973, he'd jettisoned his Spiders from Mars backing band, with Pin Ups and the TV special The 1980 Floor Show featuring them, and while the Ziggy look persisted for a while afterward, by the 1974 Diamond Dogs tour he'd left that behind too.
    • Even shorter-lived than Ziggy is the Thin White Duke persona, even though Bowie's post-glitter career is often equated with it. The Duke was created for the barely LP length Station to Station and Bowie toured in character for a few months. Then he moved to Berlin to clean up from his prodigious drug use and abandoned stage personas for good, effectively starting the next phase.
  • They've now got major legs — perhaps forever, or at least until the group's core members die — thanks to the Nostalgia Filter, but KISS were at the top of the rock music charts for a relatively short time. They didn't gain a mass fanbase until late 1975, hit the peak of their popularity in the summer of 1977, and were already slumping by 1979. Since then, they've had only scattered success as recording artists, notably Lick It Up in 1983 and Psycho Circus in 1998.
  • The Velvet Underground are widely considered to be one of the most influential bands of all time, being considered a significant precursor to both Punk Rock and Alternative Rock, as well as being one of the first bands to address taboo topics such as drug addiction, prostitution, and societal oppression of transgender people. Despite this level of influence, the band stuck around for less than a decade, spanning from 1964 to 1973. Even then, the tail end of their run was spent as the Velvet Underground In Name Only, being relatively inactive save for one final album that was simply a Doug Yule solo album with the band name slapped on for contractual reasons. The general consensus is that Lou Reed's departure in 1970, just six years into the band's run, marked the de facto demise of the Velvet Underground.
  • Janis Joplin recorded four albums in three years—two with Big Brother and the Holding Company, and two as a solo artist. She became a star with the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and was dead three years later.
  • That most 1980s of pop-music styles, Hair Metal, more or less corresponded to the stereotypical Eighties decade itself (see below). Its beginning is often marked by Quiet Riot's release of Metal Health in 1983 (although QR were arguably less the first of the hair bands than they were the last of the "arena-rock" bands a la KISS and Aerosmith). Due in part to a lull period in 1985 (MTV had largely cut back on metal, for instance), its uprising started in 1986, with "Home Sweet Home" from Mötley Crüe codifying the Power Ballad and Bon Jovi putting the genre on the map with the release of Slippery When Wet. The genre's peak lasted until 1988, when Guns N' Roses' topped the charts Deconstruction of the hair lifestyle, Appetite For Destruction. While the subgenre continued to be popular until about 1991 or so (and for that matter, there were songs from as early as 1975-1976 that could pass for Hair Metal), after 1988, which also marked the release of the film The Decline of Western Civilization II, it was very hard to take the hair scene seriously anymore.
  • New Wave Music manages to be both this and Longer Than They Think. Many people are not aware that the style developed surprisingly early in The '70s, there are some very '80s-sounding songs out there that are actually from 1978 or 1979. On the other hand, the New Wave craze did not last until the end of the '80s; by 1986 it was already pretty old-hat and by 1988 had almost disappeared from the charts entirely. Depending on your definition, you could say it began either in July ‎1979 after Disco Demolition Night or in August 1981 with the debut of MTV.
  • Joy Division were only around for three years in which they produced a mere two albums, and yet they more or less invented the Post-Punk genre, paved the way for Goth Rock while they were at it, and served as an enormous influence on innumerable artists in the Alternative Rock genre and beyond. For only one of those three years did they gain any mainstream media attention, beginning with part of an NME magazine cover in January 1979, through to May 1980, were featured briefly on a few television guest spots, and only gigged outside of the UK on a few occasions; their 1979 tour was supporting Buzzcocks, and the last ever show being in a university student union.
  • The unbelievably influential proto-punk band New York Dolls only existed in a meaningful sense from 1971-75 and only released two proper albums and a couple albums of demo material. The band reunited in 2004, but the bassist, Arthur Kane, died shortly after the reunion, leaving only two surviving members: David Johansen (singer) and Sylvain Sylvain (rhythm guitar). During their brief career, the New York Dolls inspired everyone from the Sex Pistols to Mötley Crüe, and without them, it's safe to say that punk and glam would look very different.
  • Despite existing, albeit with temporary breakups, since 1979 and arguably pioneering the black and thrash metal subgenres Venom was only impactful for about 2 years. Welcome to Hell from 1981 and Black Metal a year later influenced countless bands in North America and Europe to turn up the speed and brutality of their music and by 1983 the more experimental At War with Satan and Possessed, while still appreciated in the underground, were considered inferior to what Bay Area, Swedish and German scenes were producing. The classic Cronos, Mantas, Abaddon lineup broke up in 1986, lasting only six years.
  • The "dead period" of the harpsichord where it became obsolete and a forgotten instrument only lasted about 30 years, although one could argue that this never happened as popularly imagined. In fact the early harpsichord revival efforts and the last uses of the harpsichord in contemporary popular music actually overlapped by at least two decades as its use in basso continuo and bass recitative were still common enough for those interested in the harpsichord to take notice. If anything, it's analogous to what happened with the piano in the 80s, 90s, and 00s with it being supplanted by the keyboard synthesizer in popular music and sometimes even classical music and in schools. However, the piano never was in true danger of being a forgotten instrument, and the beginnings of revival could be seen as late as The New '10s.
  • The "hip-hop chic" period of the 00s where the charts were dominated by rap and hip-hop only lasted from late 2003 until summer of 2007. 2007-2009 was dominated by a danceable form of electropop by artists like Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Rihanna. 2000-2003 were a continuation of late 90s trends like Nu Metal, boy bands, and upbeat bubblegum pop. 2001-2003 saw a rise in patriotic music due to 9/11.
  • Keyboardist Amanda Kramer is sometimes considered a major member of Information Society, as she was keyboardist on their 1988 One Hit "What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy)." But she wasn't a founding member when the band started in 1982, and was only in the band from 1986 to 1988, quitting shortly after they released their first album.note  Even the VH1 series Bands Reunited got this wrong, much to frontman Kurt Harland's chagrin. Regardless, Kramer has been with The Psychedelic Furs since 2002, for far longer than she was ever with InSoc.
  • Genesis's period where the lineup consisted of Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks, and Mike Rutherford is generally considered their golden age by fans, yet it only lasted four years. Hackett joined the band during the making of Nursery Cryme in 1971, while Gabriel left following the supporting tour for The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway in 1975. More generous estimates include everything from Trespass in 1970 to Hackett's departure in 1977, but even that only stretches it out to seven years. By comparison, Genesis continued for an additional 23 years (plus two reunion tours) after Hackett left.
  • *NSYNC was once the most famous pop group in the world, but their heyday only lasted five years with four studio albums before disbanding in 2002, compared to their contemporaries the Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, and P!nk who are still touring and releasing music to this day.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Odyssey devotes Books 9-12 of a twenty-four-book epic to the part of Odysseus's journey between him leaving Troy and him washing up on the shores of Ogygia. This entire narrative is a single flashback and contains nearly all of the iconic events of the story: the Lotus Eaters, Polyphemus the Cyclops, the Land of the Dead, Scylla and Charybdis, Circe, Aeolus, and so on. Most retellings of the story stretch it from one-sixth of the story to about 80% of it. The Laestrygonians in particular, despite having by far the highest kill count of any of Odysseus's encounters, last about four paragraphs.
  • Scholarly consensus on Jesus of Nazareth is that he started preaching and gained followers in his early to mid thirties and died somewhere around that same age. All in all the time Jesus went around preaching with his disciples cannot have lasted more than a few years — if that.
  • The kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The unified kingdom was founded by Saul in 1047 BC, it split into Israel and Judah at the access of Rehavaam in 930 BC, and Israel was crushed by Assyria in 710 BC. Judah survived longer, but was conquered by the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 589 BC.
  • The Babylonian exile in the Old Testament, where the Jews were forcibly deported from Judah and the First Temple destroyed, is portrayed as hugely symbolic event, and their eventual return home is presented as something long-waited for. The exile, based on the Biblical dates, only lasted about 50 years. The Biblical prophet most associated with the exile, Daniel, was already a young man when Jerusalem fell, and most of the most well-known parts of his story (such as his time in the lions' den) take place after the end of the exile (Daniel chose not to return to Jerusalem). However, if modern biblical scholarship and theology is to be believed, this overlaps with Short-Lived, Big Impact as many biblical texts have likely been written/edited/composed during that phase and some even say that the exile was the moment when Judaism finally converted from a polytheistic religion with El/JHWH as the highest god to one with JHWH as the only god, no "JHWH and his wife Ashera" and no "JHWH and Baal" any more.
  • The Greek Polytheism. It was compiled as a somewhat unified religion from local deities, cults and beliefs in the 7th century BC. The rise of philosophy basically killed it off in the 4th century BC. Similarly, the Roman Polytheism, compiled in the 6th century BC, was dead as a doornail already in the Early Imperial era (27 BC to 193 AD), leaving a religious vacuum with several wildly competing new religions.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The "Attitude Era" was relatively brief, lasting almost exactly five years. It's often cited as the phenomenon that epitomized WWE in The '90s, although the first stirrings of the Attitude Era didn't occur until the decade was more than half over. The Attitude Era officially began when "Stone Cold" Steve Austin delivered his "Austin 3:16" promo after winning King Of The Ring in 1996, and ended abruptly when WCW and ECW were purchased by WWE, and Austin shockingly joined forces with Vince McMahon and Triple H at WrestleMania X-Seven, both of which happened in March 2001.
  • Speaking of the legendary "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, despite being one of the biggest, if not the biggest, wrestling superstar of all time, his entire in-ring career from start to stop spanned less than 14 years, barely half of which were actually wrestled as his iconic "Stone Cold" character.note 
    • And Austin's run at the top, as one of two candidates for the ace of the era, lasted only from 1998 to 2002.
  • Running concurrent with Austin's run as "Stone Cold", Dwayne Johnson also made such a monumental impact on the industry, which he springboarded into becoming one of the biggest movie stars in the world, that it's easy to forget he was not in the business that long. He debuted at Survivor Series in November 1996, didn't turn heel and become the Third-Person Person "The Rock" until September 1997, and was done as a full-time every-week competitor by August 2002 at SummerSlam (when he took a hiatus to film The Rundown and only returned as a "special attraction" from that point on). All in all, just six years as a weekly television presence, and five properly known as "The Great One", "The People's Champ", etc., almost perfectly coinciding with the runs of both Stone Cold and the Attitude Era itself.
    • One of Rock's most successful gimmicks was "Hollywood Heel Rock", when he came back fresh off the success of The Mummy Returns and starring vehicle The Scorpion King, and had just wrapped The Rundown. Playing off crowd jeers the previous year, The Rock came back as a narcissistic, self-absorbed Hollywood star who resented the fans for calling him a sellout. This led to numerous memorable moments — the heel-turn promo in Toronto, the "Rock Concerts", the feud with The Hurricane — enough that it's easy to forget he only did the gimmick for three months, from after the Royal Rumble in late January and ending with his match against Goldberg at Backlash in late April. Once he came back from filming Walking Tall (2004), he was a well-received babyface once more.
  • In his autobiography Controversy Creates Cash, Eric Bischoff brags that WCW Monday Nitro regularly beat WWE Raw in the Nielsen ratings. This happened for only about two years — in other words, less than half the time span during which these two shows were competing.
  • Many major wrestling angles in the modern era wrap up after a surprisingly brief amount of time, largely because the belief Viewers Are Goldfish. The huge "Immortal" angle in TNA, for example, lasted only about a year and a half; for context, WCW's New World Order (the stable that directly inspired Immortal), lasted twice that long.
  • Tazz's self-designed "FTW Championship" title is a huge part of his legacy, but the original FTW title existed for less than a year (May 1998–March 1999) before Tazz unified it with the ECW Chamionship, bringing it to an end. For perspective: the current "revival" of the FTW Championship at All Elite Wrestling (July 2020–present) has lasted more than three times as long as the original incarnation at ECW.
  • Sting has been wrestling on-and-off for nearly four decades (1985–present), but the most famous and iconic period of his career is surprisingly short. He first unveiled his famous gothic-themed gimmick in October 1996 (over a decade after his debut), and wrestled his final WCW match with Ric Flair in March 2001, less than five years later. His famous match with Hulk Hogan at Starrcade (generally recognized as the climax of his feud with the New World Order) was also in December 1997, just over a year after he first adopted his new gimmick. While his feud with the nWo continued after that match, WCW pretty quickly took it in a new direction by having Sting join with Kevin Nash and the "nWo Wolfpac" splinter group—a storyline that isn't as fondly remembered.
  • The so-called "Reign of Terror" where Triple H had a stranglehold on the World Heavyweight Championship on Monday Night Raw lasted from September 2002 until either his title loss in March 2004 (he wouldn't regain the title until September) or his one in 2005 (after which he clearly took a step back and John Cena became the face of the company), depending on your point of view. A year and a half on the low end and two and a half years on the high end. Much briefer than the decade or so that is often claimed.
  • The commentary team of Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura is widely regarded as one of, if not THE best commentary team of all-time in wrestling, but they only worked together at most a couple of times a year and about ten major shows total in their careers or less than a single year of pay-per-views today. While they were in the same company for a number of years, the vast, vast majority of the time they were on different shows with Ventura's regular partner being Vince McMahon and Monsoon's being Bobby Heenan. The reason they are so iconic is that they were the regular duo for WrestleMania (doing 5 of the first 6) making them the voices of the biggest moments of the WWE Golden Age Era.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The mainstream popularity (and subsequent controversy) of Dungeons & Dragons lasted roughly from the late 1970s to about the mid-80s. From the early 90's onwards, it and other Tabletop RPGs became largely stereotyped as a niche pastime for socially inept geeks (although you still needed friends in order to play it). This has changed in recent years, as shows like Critical Role and Stranger Things have made the game popular all over again.
  • The era of classic Beatdown in Yu-Gi-Oh!, typified by strong Normal Monsters and overpowered Spells and Traps, is probably the most iconic period among casual fans and associated with the original Yu-Gi-Oh! anime as a whole— whether being fondly recalled as the glory days of simplicity, or decried as bland and strategy-free. If you look at tournament results, though, it becomes pretty clear that the deck's heyday was pretty brief. Going by North American dates, it emerged at the game's launch in March 2002, was dethroned as the top deck by Hand Control and its variants in summer of 2003, and by March 2004, which saw the release of Chaos, Beatdown was basically nonviable in tournaments— even after the first banlist restricted Chaos, the decks that succeeded it were mostly control and OTK decks. That's a two-year period at most, barely halfway into the anime's run. Plenty of the iconic cards of the era had even shorter periods of usability, with Summoned Skull being mostly supplanted in October of 2002 by Jinzo. The reason for why it's remembered as longer than it was is simple: the majority of players were young, extremely casual, didn't keep track of the meta, and mostly used what they could get in starter decks. This meant they rarely ever encountered the signature cards of Hand Control and Chaos and could keep trucking along with obsolete decks well past the end of the original anime before being curbstomped by a more on-the-ball player.

    Video Games 
  • Though the console is incredibly iconic and stayed in production for an impressive-by-any-stretch fourteen years, the actual heyday of the Atari 2600 was pretty short. Its initial release in 1977 had it selling somewhat slowly, and it actually underperformed badly in 1978. The console didn't really explode in popularity until 1980, when it got its Killer App of Space Invaders. By late 1983, the Crash was in full swing, Atari was losing money hand over fist, and the 2600 spent the rest of its lifetime as a shadow of its former self. Outside of its launch lineup, the vast majority of classic 2600 games came out between 1980 and 1983, a four-year period.
  • The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 is often thought of as having brought the North American video game industry to the brink of extinction, but its classic definition wasn't as long as you might think. If one puts the start of the crash at the release of ET The Extraterrestrial and the end of the crash at the wide release of the Nintendo Entertainment System, then you get a period of around two and a half years—December of 1982 to August of 1985. Even that's arguable, as it didn't become truly evident that the industry was in a death spiral until late 1983 and it didn't start significantly contracting until 1984 (albeit with most sales coming from shovelware). On the other hand, this is actually somewhat inverted in terms of how long the industry took to bounce back. Many people think of it as an immediate renaissance, but sales of home videogames actually hit their lowest point in 1986, due to the NES being the only real competitor, and didn't hit pre-crash levels until 1989.
  • The classic "Sega vs. Nintendo" war only really lasted for about five years. While one could argue that the first strike was the "Sega Does What Nintendon't" campaign in 1990, the Sega Genesis was still toiling in Mainstream Obscurity until the release of Sonic the Hedgehog in June of 1991. And the actual "war" didn't start until the launch of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States in September of that year. The war began to subside as early as 1994 and was pretty much over by 1996, with the Sega Saturn doing poorly in the market and the release of the PlayStation in 1995.
  • Sega as a video game company with its own console is also briefer than you'd suspect. The Sega Master System was released in Japan in October 1985 (as the Sega Mark III; the Master System wasn't released in the US until 1986, and in turn Sega redesigned the Mark III as the Master System for Japan in 1987) and they announced the end of the Dreamcast in early 2001. note  Sega has now been out of the market for consoles longer than they were a major player in it. Its time as a major frontrunner and competitor is even shorter. The Genesis/Mega Drive (1989-1994ish) might be the only period in which Sega was a clearly dominant player in the American industry. Before and after then, it was basically fighting for scraps as a distant second or third (first with Atari over Nintendo's scraps, then with Nintendo over Sony's scraps).
  • For many fans of The King of Fighters, Iori Yagami's most iconic teammates are Mature and Vice. How many canonical games had he actually teamed up with them? Three out of twelve; their initial appearance in '96 which ended with him killing them under the influence of the Riot of the Blood, and then a long gap canon-wise where he was either a solo entry or formed another team before they returned for both XIII and XIV. Helping matters is both women serving as his teammates in the Dream Match Games '98 and 2002, alongside Mature's solo appearance in XII, thus creating the illusion that they have been around for far longer.
  • The period between the arcade Puyo Puyo becoming a hit and Compile losing the series to Sega is just over five years; even if you take away the roughly three years that Sega essentially let Compile borrow the series, Sega has been running the show for more than twice as long. This is almost certainly due to the sheer volume of Compile's output. For example, they managed to release six unique console and handheld Puyo Puyo games in their final three years despite constantly bleeding talent, amounting to 11 releases if individual ports (save Sega's two handheld ports of Tsu) are counted.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The original run of The Jetsons was one season of 24 episodes from 1962-63. More episodes were made in The '80s.
  • Recess lasted from 1997 to 2001 with 65 episodes, one theatrical film in 2001, and three direct-to-video titles released between 2001 and 2003. However, because Disney never acknowledged the show ending and promoted it as much as series that were still in production, many fans believe it ran until at least 2006 (not helped by the show having a crossover with Lilo & Stitch: The Series that same year).
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is another Disney example. It originally ran from 1988 to 1991 on ABCnote , but over the course of the '90s and into the mid-2000s, it was rerun seemingly infinitely until about 2006 – notably, aside from Recess (just above), it was the only show to last the length of One Saturday Morning (primarily to fill up the E/I quota for ABC stations). And there so many Pooh-related videos released in the '90s too, so it's likely many people thought it went on wayyy longer than it did (at least three generations probably remember the intro theme due to this).
  • Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat ran in 2001-2002 for about 13 months with 40 episodes, but seemed to last well into the 2000s thanks to being rerun on PBS for quite a few years after it ended.
  • Considering how universally beloved Wallace & Gromit is, it often winds up being a shock (particularly for American fans) to discover that, not counting Shaun the Sheep, the series produced four 20- to-30-minute short films, plus an 85-minute movie –- a total of just barely over three hours of footage, shorter than even some movies. It's not uncommon for people to assume that what they've seen of Wallace and Gromit is just a few episodes of a lengthy TV series, as opposed to most or all of their output. Of course, Aardman has a very simple reason on top of plain-old British Brevity: Stop-motion is hard.
  • Rather infamously, Smithers in The Simpsons started out as brown-skinned before being changed to yellow (the show's stand-in for white), allegedly due to the Unfortunate Implications of a black man being a subservient following every order from his rich white boss. Many don't realize, however, that Smithers was only black for one episode (his first appearance, "Homer's Odyssey"). One episode later ("There's No Disgrace Like Home") marked his second appearance, and from that episode onwards he's his usual yellow color.
  • Most people know South Park as "that show where Kenny dies in every episode". After Season 5, however, the writers generally kill him off once a season at most, discounting the three episodes in Season 14 where the gag was revisited. Kenny died Once an Episode for only a quarter of the show's total run, and this was phased out before certain other show staples were introduced.
    • Similarly, Mr. Garrison's original defining gimmick was having a puppet called Mr. Hat. Said puppet was on hiatus for several episodes in Season 2 before eventually being phased out completely in Season 6. Mr. Hat did make a comeback in Season 24, but by that time the COVID-19 pandemic had stunted South Park's output so much that Mr. Garrison barely appeared.
    • Chef being a major character who would sing once per episode. Not only did he gradually fade into the background before eventually getting killed off in the Season 10 premier, but the last time he broke into song was back in Season 6 and even then he only got a few notes out before interrupting himself. He also didn't sing at all in the movie or Season 5. Even Seasons 2 through 4 only had him sing during a few episodes each; the once an episode gag only lasted throughout the first season.
  • Young Justice (2010) has the "Original Six" characters, the main members of The Team, that are often seen as the main characters of the show, and stand above everyone else in terms of importance in the cast. These six are Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Superboy, Miss Martian, and Artemis. How many episodes did The Team consist solely of these six? Thirteen. When it first started, the Team only consisted of the first four, with the latter two not joining until subsequent episodes. Specifically, Artemis didn't join the Team until join until Episode 6, and Episode 19 saw the next member join: Zatanna, with Red Arrow and Rocket joining in subsequent episodes. Season 2 completely shook the status quo by doing a five year Time Skip that shuffled out the members with a whole bunch of new ones including Blue Beetle, Wonder Girl, Batgirl, Beast Boy, Bumblebee and Robin III, among others, and ended the season with Kid Flash dying. The core lineup has never been the same, and only thirteen out of a current seventy-two episodes featured this. In-universe, they lasted three months as the show notoriously averts Comic-Book Time (Artemis joined the Team on August 8, 2010 and Zatanna moved to the Cave on November 7).
  • While the Scooby-Doo franchise as a whole has produced countless episodes over various television incarnations, the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! lasted only two seasons for a total of 25 episodes, with another season of sixteen episodes airing eight years later.
  • Some cartoons airing on Canadian channels were assumed to have been producing new episodes for a lot longer than they actually did, due to having a long life in reruns on Canadian TV. 2 examples of this are Detention, which lasted for 13 episodes and had an extremely short US run on Kids WB, but YTV in Canada aired the series for about 4 years. My Goldfish is Evil had only 2 seasons and 26 episodes, but CBC re-ran the show for almost a decade.

    Real Life 
  • While the "Age of the Dinosaurs" is commonly taught to have lasted hundreds of millions of years, many of the most iconic lineages, like T. rex, Spinosaurus, Velociraptor, and Triceratops, all lived within a comparatively brief period of about 30 million years at the end of the Cretaceous period.
  • One would imagine the Babylonian Empire lasted for centuries. While the city of Babylon indeed existed in one form or another for over a thousand years, almost the entirety of what most people associate with "Ancient Babylon" — the Hanging Gardens, Ishtar Gate, etc. — all came from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (c. 605-562 BC), and the Chaldean Neo-Babylonian Empire only lasted from 626-539 B.C., with the empire already in considerable decline for a number of years before its end. After Nebuchadnezzar II died, it all went to seed.
  • Classical Greece. Again, one would suppose that Ancient Greece lasted for centuries. While it is indeed true that Greece has a history of thousands of years, almost all of the non-mythical people and events that the average person associates with Classical Greece are from 492 BC to 323 BC, a period of about 170 years — about two lifetimes. The United States has already been a republic for longer than Athens was an independent democracy.
  • Similarly there is the Greeks' eternal rivals The Achaemenid Empire. Often described as a much older ancient empire compared the more upstart Greeks and comparable to something like Ancient Egypt, it's entire existence pretty much overlaps with that of Classical Greece. Cyrus the Great founded the Empire in 550 BC and it was dead at the hands of Alexander the Great in 330 BC. It was only 60 years old at the time of the Battle of Marathon. The foundations of Athenian Democracy actually predates it, rather than the other way around.
  • The "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World" were simultaneously intact for 21 years, from 247 BC to 226 BC. The Colossus of Rhodes in particular was an intact statue for 66 years and a pile of rubble for 880 years. That's if the Hanging Gardens of Babylon existed at all, which is a matter of debate among historians as no definitive proof has ever been found.
  • The Mongol Empire, the greatest land empire the world has ever seen, didn't last very long. It started from the coronation of Temüjin as Genghis Khan in 1206 (died 1227), reached its high-water mark in 1254 under Möngke, and began to disintegrate after his death in 1259. After the death of Kublai, the last accepted Great Khan, in 1294, the Mongol empire was no more, in the end lasting less than a century.
  • Many people associate things which existed only in The Late Middle Ages with the entire Medieval period, a span lasting 1000 years. For example, the height of the classic fully-armored knight only lasted from the late 15th to the early 16th centuries — a period of about 100 years, and was actually at the very end of the Middle Ages. Even worse, some things associated with the Middle Ages are actually from The Renaissance. For instance, European witch-hunting started during the Renaissance, and hit its peak in the 16th and 17th centuries, but was quite rare in the Middle Ages proper.
  • The Aztecs often seem to be an ancient, almost primeval empire, but by the arrival of the Spaniards they had, in fact, barely gotten started. They were vassals of other Nahua cities up to 1428 and only began to expand in the 1440s. Thus, when the Spaniards showed up in 1519, the Aztec Empire was less than 100 years old and many of its provinces had been held for less than 20 years. Many natives who fought alongside Cortés were recently conquered by the Aztecs and were looking for a rematch.
  • Similarly the Inca Empire was also less than 100 years old (1438–1533), having entered a period of rapid expansion which was still going on just before the Spaniards showed up. Doubles also Newer Than They Think.
  • One imagines Christopher Columbus' first voyage across the Atlantic to be an epic and lengthy journey, when really it only took a little longer than a month.
  • Blackbeard's career as a pirate likely only lasted around two years. While concrete facts about his life are rather hard to come by, it's generally agreed that he first joined Captain Benjamin Hornigold's crew around 1716, and formed his own crew after Hornigold retired in late 1717—about a year before he died near Ocracoke Island in a showdown with the British Navy in late 1718. By the time he met his end, he had only been sailing the Queen Anne's Revenge for about a year.
  • It's easy to imagine the American Revolution and the American Civil War as eras separated by a gulf of time (indeed, they were nearly a century apart), but the last confirmed veteran of the Revolutionary War died three years after the end of the Civil War; Robert E. Lee's father had fought in The American Revolution, and Thomas Jefferson was still president when Abraham Lincoln was born.
  • The French Revolution on the whole lasted for ten years (1789-1799), but the most famous (and infamous) phase of the revolution, centered on the Reign of Terror, lasted only a single year (1793-1794). Maximilien Robespierre, despite being one of the most controversial and notorious figures in history, only held direct power for 11 months.
  • The "Antebellum" Deep South: While technically, perhaps, the term antebellum could mean all of U.S. history before 1860, what most people think of as The Old South, with a cotton-based economy, big plantations, white-columned mansions etc., existed mostly from about 1830 until The American Civil War — 31 years. The Atlanta that burned in Gone with the Wind had not existed in any form at all before 1836, became a city of any importance only a few years before the war started, and wasn't even Georgia's capital until after the war ended.
  • The Wild West: The majority of Westerns take place between the end of the Civil War in 1865 and 1890, the year the US Census Bureau declared the frontier "closed" — 25 years. Western-themed TV series like Gunsmoke ran for so long that their depiction of this period borders on Medieval Stasis, which is ironic considering that the whole reason this era was an exciting fictional setting in the first place was that it was a time of great change.
    • The famed Pony Express, glorified by so many westerns, lasted about a year and a half between its launch in 1860 and its being rendered obsolete by the telegraph in 1861.
  • After the 250-year long Edo Period, Japan was forcibly opened to outside influence by the American Perry Expedition. From the arrival of the Americans through the downfall of the Shogunate and the Boshin War up to the Meiji Restoration was 1854 to 1869 — barely 15 years. It was very possible for a Japanese citizen born during the reign of the last Shogun to live through the Meiji Restoration, Japan's rapid industralization, its brutal conquest of Asia and the Pacific, its defeat in WWII and the atomic bombs, and die in a democratic country.
  • The 1871 Paris Commune, when radical Socialists, proto-Communists and Anarchists seized Paris and established a fanatically egalitarian city-state, lasted barely two months, yet is regarded by many leftists as Glory Days and by Communists as the first socialist government. It didn't end well.
  • European colonial rule in Africa didn't really start taking off until 1884, and decolonization began following the Second World War in the 1950s — a period of around 70 years. A hypothetical African born in the 1880's and lived into their 80's or 90's would have remembered their childhood before the Europeans arrived, lived through the entire colonial period, and die in an independent country. However, in another sense, it also lasted a lot longer than you might think. We don't typically imagine the age of colonial empires being contemporaneous with hippies and the Beatles, but France and Britain still held territory in mainland Africa well into the 1960's, note  and Spain and Portugal did not give up on all of their colonies until 1975.
  • Jack the Ripper is one of the most famous serial killers of all time, certainly one of the most famous in British history. His "reign of terror" lasted from August 31st to November 9th in the year 1888, a period of just over two months. During this time, he also is thought to have killed "only" five women, two of which were on the same night. The reason the murders got and get such attention is that the killer shattered the notion of the prim, pristine and safe Victorian England, and also sensationalism by the media which actively promoted his legend.
  • From Red October to Mikhail Gorbachev was 74 years — November 1917 to December 1991, and the Soviet Union itself lasted only 69 years. It was possible for an individual born under the last Tsar to live to see the breakup of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev was the only Soviet leader to be born in the actual Soviet Union; all his predecessors were born in the Russian Empire.
    • The Berlin Wall has become a symbol of the entire Cold War and a physical representation of the Iron Curtain, but itself was built almost halfway into the Cold War and stood for only 28 years –- August 13, 1961 to November 9, 1989.
  • From D-Day when the Western Allies landed in Normandy in June 1944 to Germany's surrender in May 1945 was 11 months. Naturally the war and fighting had been going on in other places for years before this, but most American-made works set during World War II are set in this place and during this period.
  • The 1967 "Summer of Love" was aptly named. The authentic San Francisco/Haight-Ashbury hippie scene only lasted about a year, and the overall psychedelic period lasted much shorter than pop culture often depicts. Things typically associated with this period (shoulder-length hair on men, bandanas, tie-dye clothing, etc.) coalesced by 1965 and were already on their way out by 1969, and in 1970 were all but dead due to (among other things) the Altamont Speedway massacre, the War on Drugs, and Heavy Metal and Glam Rock beginning to supplant the "acid" aesthetic.
  • By now Red China has had a market economy (1979-present, over 40 years) far longer than it had a centrally-planned economy (1949-1976, about 25 years). Much like the Soviet Union mentioned above, it was possible for someone born under the reign of the last Empress Dowager Cixi to live through the revolution and Chinese Civil War, spend most of their adult life under Mao Zedong, and then die during the liberalizing market reforms of Deng Xiaoping. Xi Jingping is the first leader of the Chinese Communist Party to be born in Communist China. All of his predecessors either grew up in the Qing Dynasty, the provisional government of the Republic of China, or during the Chinese Civil War.

Alternative Title(s): Shorter Than They Think