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Fandom Life Cycle

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Whether it'd be in movies, TV shows, video games, or any other forms of media, there's a fandom for all of them. Though how big a particular fandom is tends to depend on a lot of factors pertaining to the work, franchise, or even creator they each follow. But rarely does anything last forever, let alone works that are able to keep their momentum and relevancy long after they were first created, hence the Fandom Life Cycle trope.

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The life cycle of a fandom can be roughly subdivided into seven or eight stages:

  • Stage 0: Depending on the level of preemptive promotion:
    • (a) Obscurity. The work has just begun publication and is relatively unknown. Every Sleeper Hit starts off here upon release, before quickly getting popular.
    • (b) Pre-release hype. This is owed either to the creator's previous fame or to a promotion campaign. The fandom is technically not there yet, but the seeds are sown.
  • Stage 1: Relatively obscure. Fans are disjointed and have little communication. Cries of "It Needs More Love" are heard.
  • Stage 2: Fans begin to communicate and form clubs that will become the devoted core of the fandom. Troper Critical Mass is usually reached at this stage. Cult Classics remain here forever. A Broken Base may begin to form here or Stage 3, as passionate fans no longer need to worry about holding the fanbase together and get their potentially controversial opinions off their chests.
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  • Stage 3: Fandom heads towards mainstream. Hatedom forms as a Vocal Minority, and the fandom is too small to drown them out. Most creators start paying attention to the fandom at this stage.
  • Stage 4: Fandom becomes large and organized. The majority drowns out the hatedom voices. "Normal People" outside of the fandom begin to recognize its object's popularity.
  • Stage 5: The work becomes sufficiently ingrained in contemporary culture for even the people not familiar with it to know a lot about it, technically turning everyone into a fan. These are the works most likely to become Trope Overdosed.
  • Stage 6:
    • (a) Cooldown. The fandom slips back to Stage 2 from any of the previous stages, with the work becoming a cult classic.
    • (b) Oblivion. The fandom goes back to obscurity from any of the previous stages.
    • (c) Destruction. The fandom completely dissolves, leaving only a handful of people dedicated to its preservation or is forgotten completely.
  • Stage X: Newbie Boom. After slipping back to obscurity, the fandom springs back towards mainstream due to external factors, such as a Continuity Reboot, Sequel Gap, or an adaptation/spin-off series becoming popular.
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Note that not every fandom passes through every stage; some stick at the early stages forever, and only a select few ever reach Stage 5. Fandoms can also be at different stages at the same time (e.g. a fandom might be at Stage 5 in the work's home market but Stage 2 elsewhere). And there have been instances of works that are mainstream before fandom gets organised (particularly in the era between the advent of radio and TV and the advent of widespread internet access).

Compare Newbie Boom, which rejuvenates new life to the fandom at the cost of risking a Broken Base due to this new wave of fans.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Billy Mays peaked at Stage 4 prior to his death with almost everybody having heard of him or at least seen one of his ads. Now he's at Stage 6a.
  • Get a Mac: When the ads were relevant, it was either at Stage 3 or Stage 4 and peaked at Stage 5, but now the ads are mostly forgotten nowadays and it's now at Stage 1.
  • Protegent: At its peak, it was in either stage 1 or stage 2, but it cooled down and it's probably back at 0a or 1. The meme has mostly been forgotten and only a few people are still making edits of it.

    Animated Films 
  • Disney Animated Canon: Ranges from 2 to 5, depending on the movie. Most of the Walt Disney-era films, 1990s films and more recent films get to 4-5, but the lesser-known films of the canon have their fair share of defenders.
  • Don Bluth Films: Peaked at around Stage 4 in the late 1980s with hits such as An American Tail and The Land Before Time, which even outperformed Disney at the box office at the time. When Don Bluth’s career faced a downturn however, the fandom cooled down to Stage 1 or 2 depending on the particular movie (The Land Before Time’s legendary case of Sequelitis at least kept it on the radar with young children the longest, even if adult animation fans dismissed them).
    • The Secret of NIMH has always stuck around at Stage 2, having a small-but-devoted fandom.
  • Frozen: A little less than a year after the first film was released, it was already at Stage 4, if not Stage 5 (definitely there when the sequel came out).
  • Lilo & Stitch:
    • In North America, the franchise peaked somewhere around Stages 3 or 4, but Disney's Executive Meddling of the whole franchise caused it to lose all momentum and become a strange hybrid of all three Stage 6 scenarios, if only because it's still a reasonably successful Disney-owned franchise. Most Americans today seem to only vaguely remember Stitch and the ʻohana motto, and don't recall any of the sequel films, series, or most of the other characters besides maybe the other title character. The experiments even lost their Wikipedia article in 2016 since there were very few Western fans left on The Other Wiki to defend it.note  In 2011, Disney tried to air the Stitch! anime's English dub (which first debuted in Australia in 2009) in America, but supposed fandom backlash lead to them pulling the anime off Disney XD after only five episodes in less than a week. Stitch & Ai years later didn't fare that much better; it was released in U.S. on December 1, 2018 via DisneyNow (nearly one-and-a-half years after it debuted in China and almost ten months after the original English version debuted in Southeast Asia), with one episode missing and virtually no promotion. Fan reception for that series—what little it had—was also very polarized, a possible second season discussed by the production staff never got off the ground, and the show was removed from DisneyNow around June 2019.
    • It's a little better going eastward with the franchise having a slightly bigger presence in Europe (not only did the anime's English and other language dubs air in full there, one can go see Stitch Live!, a.k.a. Stitch Encounter, in Disneyland Paris and possibly even see Jumba, Pleakley, and some of the other experiments over there during special events),note  while in East Asia, especially Japan, the franchise has near-mainstream popularity, considering the existence of the aforementioned anime and China's Stitch & Ai (along with a web manga called Tono & Stitch), Tokyo Disneyland having Stitch Encounternote  and their own exclusive Stitch-themed version of The Enchanted Tiki Room, their version of Fantasmic! having a Lilo & Stitch segment with Angel making an appearance, having more Lilo & Stitch characters available for regular meet-and-greets, and of course a crapton more Stitch merchandise being sold over there.
  • Pixar films have an average score of Stage 4, with Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. both at Stage 5.
  • Felidae has an average score of Stage 2.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Black★Rock Shooter: An extreme case of a Stage 2 —> Stage 6b. Once one of the most popular anime franchises of the early 2010s, it has since fallen into obscurity (aside of it being a Cult Classic).
  • Digimon Adventure tri.: Stage X for the Digimon fandom.
  • Fist of the North Star: While it's between 3-4 worldwide (save for the others), the newer adaptations went the series to Stage X.
  • Fruits Basket went from Stage 4 to Stage 6 between its heyday in the early 2000s and the end of the 2000s. In 2019 it hit Stage X with many getting back into the series due to the new anime.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • The manga went from Stage 2 to Stage X to Stage 4 due to Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. The manga continuity was always in the shadow of the 2003 anime until it received a Truer to the Text adaptation.
    • The 2003 anime sits at a Stage 6a. It's not quite a 6b but it's difficult to find new fan-works or fan discussion on it compared to the manga.
  • Gunslinger Girl: Stage 2 to Stage 6 A. The series has its fans but fanworks rarely get made and the fandom is disorganized. The fandom was most active in the early-to-mid 2000s.
  • Haibane Renmei went from Stage 1 to Stage 6, varying between A and B. If you look up fanworks, the active fandom existed only up until around 2006 or 2007. Since then it's been disjointed; while the anime is well-known amongst anime fans, few have actually seen it, due to copies of the anime being hard to find. As of now, the anime is available officially on Youtube and Crunchyroll digitally, and has been re-released on Bluray. While this has lead to some new viewers, no new discussions or fan material has come from it, making it safe to call the fandom officially dead.
  • Hamtaro: The series started at Stage 1, then went straight to Stage 3 during its days on Toonami. It's currently at Stage 6b as of this writing.
  • Hunter × Hunter went from Stage 3 straight to Stage 5 in a manner of years. It was a Cult Classic throughout the 2000s but never had the same success as other shonen like Naruto, Bleach, or Fullmetal Alchemist. This all changed when it got a Truer to the Text anime in 2011. This was around the same time that Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Naruto were ending, so many fans jumped onto the new series as an alternative. Airing on Toonami helped secure the series as one of the most popular anime of the 2010s.
  • Jojos Bizarre Adventure: Surprisingly, during their release the early parts of JoJo's experienced limited appeal in Japan. Then the decision was made to add Stands in Stardust Crusaders, and the series pretty much took off from there, ultimately reaching Stage 5. There was little to no exposure outside of Japan for a while, but the 2012 anime adaptation of the first two parts quickly became wildly popular overseas and hit Stage 5 in surprisingly short time; these days you will find it extremely difficult to talk to someone who watches anime and hasn't heard of JoJo's.
  • Mapletown: Apparently hitting Stage 3 in the Americas when it was dubbed and aired due the show airing on Nickelodeon, but now apparently has dropped to around 6b.
  • My Hero Academia went from Stage 2 to Stage 5 within a few months. The anime's first season didn't do well in Japan, but it caught on a bit more internationally due to its superhero aesthetic. The anime really hit it big after Naruto ended. Suddenly a lot of Naruto fans drifted to My Hero Academia and the anime boomed in popularity. It then quickly caught the eye of DC and Marvel fans who normally don't watch anime. Airing on Toonami helped it become even mainstream. My Hero Academia is one of the most popular anime on Archive of Our Own, eclipsing even its rivals like Naruto and One Piece.
  • Naruto as a whole is at 6a. It was one of the biggest anime of the 2000s and is a fixture, but its fandom began losing momentum in the early 2010s. With Boruto being received to mixed-reviews and many jumping onto other anime as a replacement, the fandom is slowing down.
  • One Piece has remained a solid Stage 5 for over 20 years in Japan, as individual manga volumes still reliably sell millions. In 2000s America, it was different story since the botched dubbed version was not met with a good reception. Couple that with competition from Naruto and Bleach and One Piece never really left Stage 3 (at best) in the west during that period. It's only in the 2010s that the series started any hint of hitting a potential Stages 4 to 5 in American soil, possibly due to its aforementioned competitors having finished halfway through the decade.
  • Ouran High School Host Club went from Stage 4 to Stage 6 during the 2010s. It was a popular series during the 2000s but became displaced as time went on.
  • Pokémon
    • Despite running since the late 1990s, Pocket Monsters is at a Stage 0. It suffers from No Export for You in most countries and its gag nature means that, no matter how large its readership may be, it doesn't create a fandom.
    • Pokémon: Usually Stage 3. How popular it is depends on the direction, with Kanto, Advance Generation and Diamond and Pearl reaching Stage 4, while Johto, Best Wishes, and Sun and Moon were Stage 6a. X and Y ended at Stage 6b. Leagues usually end with the anime sitting on Stage 6b for a few weeks before returning to Stage 3 for the next series.
    • Pokémon Adventures: Stage 4. Unlike the anime, Adventures is known for having strong continuity and rotating the protagonists. It does have its own problems, however.
  • Pretty Cure: A solid 5 in Japan, but falls somewhere between stage 2 and 3 elsewhere (outside of Fandubs at times).
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Stage 4 in Japan and Australia, while Stage 3 elsewhere. One of the most popular anime franchises in the 2010s.
  • Ranma ½: 6B. The series is one of the most successful anime in the 1990s but became lost amongst new anime in the 2000s Newbie Boom. It has an active fanbase but most new anime fans don't watch it, meaning that the fanbase is mostly made up of fans who got into it during its heyday.
  • Sailor Moon started at Stage 1, went to Stage 4, then went to Stage 6c for a while before Crystal came out and sent the series all the way to Stage X. Currently, the franchise seems to ping-pong between Stages 5 and 6b every other week.
  • Samurai Pizza Cats is currently at Stage 2.
  • School-Live! is at Stage 2. It had a growing fandom but it stopped steadily growing after the anime adaptation ended.
  • Shima Shima Tora no Shimajirō: Currently Stage X. The initial introduction to the west was a Toilet Humor meme that never really caught on in the early 2000s, making it a Stage 2 at it's height before slipping down to Stage 6c by The New '10s. However, with WildBrain picking up the series for distribution in English-speaking markets in 2020, the series is considered to be currently in Stage X- a renewal. Time will tell where the series' fandom will peak.
  • Tamagotchi: In Japan, this anime is easily at around level 4 or 5, similar to the digital pet toys from which they were adapted. Outside of Japan, however, the fandom is at level 2 and the anime is noticeably more obscure than the toys; this is most likely because the anime has never seen a full English release (the first 26 episodes were aired in English in Australia only, and the first few episodes of the Tamagotchi! Yume Kira Dream installment were adapted as a webtoon called Tamagotchi Friends, but other than that there's nothing).
  • Tokyo Mew Mew started out at Stage 1 and then went to Stage 4 before going to Stage 6b where it is currently at (other than it being a Cult Classic).
  • Yo-Kai Watch:
    • In Japan it went from Stage 1 to Stage 5 virtually overnight, however the fad faded and it became some version of Stage 6. Attempts at reviving interest in the anime has been mixed.
    • In America the anime went from Stage 2 to Stage 6c within three years. It began gaining a small following along with games, but the English dub went through a series of hurdles before being Screwed by the Network and cancelled mid-season 3. Whatever anime fanbase remains began to dissolve.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Duel Monsters anime is a Stage 4-5; it was one of the most popular anime of the 90's, and the card game it spawned is still played to this day, and keeps the series in the public consciousness. The series made afterwards hover around Stage 2.
  • Yuki Yuna is a Hero is a Stage 2. It was a Sleeper Hit on the verge of becoming a Stage 3 but it never made the leap proper.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho is some form of Stage 6. It was a popular anime during the 1990s and early 2000s but lost out compared to newer works. It's since become obscure outside of its dedicated fandom.

    Asian Animation 
  • 3000 Whys of Blue Cat: This is probably Stage 0a in the English-speaking world because it's a kids' cartoon that has never had an official (or even unofficial) English release. In China, it's probably stage 4 or 5 due to its massive success there.
  • Noonbory and the Super 7: Currently transitioning from Stage 1 to Stage 2.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf:
    • Stage 5 at its peak in China, due to having a lot of seasons and merchandise. It slowly cooled down to stage 3/4 when people grew tired of it, but it looks like it might reach stage 5 again as it's gaining back popularity.
    • It's always been in Stage 0a in the West due to a complete lack of exposure to the show, though it's slowly inching towards stage 1 or possibly 2 due to fans spreading the word about the show and getting people interested.
  • Simple Samosa: It's always been in Stage 0a in America, for starters, but it's probably more around stage 1 in India since there are fans of the show but almost no particularly active fan circles - actually, even ignoring the fact that older viewers tend to hate the show, that seems weird for a series that has pulled in over 25 million viewers.
  • Yamucha's Kung-Fu Academy is a Stage 2 in its native China, as the show has been discussed on Chinese boards and has appeared in several TV cartoon nostalgia articles on the web, while it's nowhere near sky-high popularity as achieved by Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf.

    Comic Books 

    Fanfiction 
  • The Infinite Loops: Thanks to the Spacebattles communities, and the rock solid base of Saphroneth's MLP Loops series, the fandom currently sits at stage two.

    Light Novels 
  • Sword Art Online: Currently at Stage 4 and verging close to Stage 5, as the franchise has reached the point where nearly everyone who hasn't been living under a rock has at least heard about it. Although it has the anomaly that the Hatedom voices are the ones that drown out the fans, instead of the other way around, despite the fact that the numbers show they are still a Vocal Minority.

    Literature 
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: A permanent Stage 5, with new film adaptations coming out every few years. Although at this point, fans of the actual book and its sequel are likely outnumbered by fans of some of the more popular adaptations. Still, this is fairly incredible for a book that came out in the mid-1800s.
  • The fanbase for Barbapapa, a French-American franchise from the 70's, is at Stage 1, as not many people have heard about it, and those that have shrug it off as nothing more than a nostalgic memory (or even something they had dreamed up). The fandom for the series is almost nonexistent, and might even be surprising to those that did know about the franchise. It should be noted that some of the fans of the franchise had came from interest in the 2019 reboot, and to even fewer it was actually their introduction to Barbapapa as a whole; meaning that it might be working up to Stage X.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: A well-remembered book at Stage 4, while the first film adaptation, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, is at Stage 5. The second film adaptation is at Stage 2, and the West End theatre adaptation is at Stage 4. The relatively obscure sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, languishes in Stage 1, perhaps because Dahl forbid any adaptations to be made of it.
  • The Cosmere: Currently hovering around Stage 3 and growing with each new entry. Mistborn: The Original Trilogy caused a massive spike in popularity, and this was followed by The Stormlight Archive adding to it, and although Brandon Sanderson has a very devoted, vocal fandom that has grown exponentially in recent years, it hasn't quite made it to the heights of other series yet.
  • Discworld: A solid 5 in most of Europe and on this wiki, Stage 2 everywhere else.
  • Eloise: Stage 2. It has a cult following, especially with those who read the books as kids or watched the 2000s animated series and live-action TV movies.
  • Harry Potter: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has sold over 100 million copies, putting it at stage 5.
  • The Fifty Shades of Grey series sat at Stage 3, bordering Stage 4, at the height of its success in the 2010's. It became popular very quickly after its publication, but it also ended up with a lot of detractors. Both the books and films were profitable and they're well-known in pop culture by now, but more out of infamy than widespread popularity.
  • The Inheritance Cycle - Stage 3, possibly stage 4 at its peak. The hatedom was always rather vocal, but the fans were also numerous and towards the end, the trolls and haters sort of drifted away. Possibly could have headed towards stage 5 if not for the abysmal failure of the Eragon film release. Currently at 6a - the set of short stories that was released around a decade after the final novel drew a fair bit of attention from fans, but didn't really spark much outside of that. The author Christopher Paolini has a new book that's starting a new series coming out in 2020.
  • Land of Oz: Stage 6a, peaking at Stage 5; the books were very popular in their day (aided by stage musicals and a small number of silent films in the 1910s and 20s), but in the 1950s and 60s the popularity of the 1939 MGM film exploded due to being Vindicated by Cable and made Oz a permanent part of America's culture. This, however, had the side effect of pushing the books into Mainstream Obscurity as they fell under the film's shadow; not helping is the fact that the handful of attempts to adapt the sequels since have been largely financially unsuccessful. Although the first book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, is still widely-read, a lot of people know nothing of the existence of the 39 official sequels. The Oz book fandom today is small and tightly-knit but devoted, having shrunk back down to around a Stage 2, but with the infrastructure of a fandom that was once at Stage 5. That the decades-old International Wizard of Oz Club, two yearly conventions and their official yearly story collection Oziana are still going strong is a testament to how old, organized and large the fandom was at one time (the fandoms for the 1939 film and Wicked help maintain these as well).
  • Mr. Men: A similar situation to Discworld - it's at Stage 5 in Europe and Japan, and Stage 2 elsewhere.
  • Night World peaked at Stage 2. It has a fanbase who maintain fan websites, write fanfiction and so on, and it got a slight resurgence in popularity during the 'vampire craze' of the late 2000's and early 2010's (the omnibus re-printings even appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List in 2008 and 2009), but Night World has always been more obscure compared to some of L. J Smith's other books, especially The Vampire Diaries. The fact it's taken over two decades for the series to be completed (with little to no new material released) likely contributes to this, with all but the most devoted fans losing interest or forgetting about it over time.
  • Phenomena: stage 6 A, although big are Norwegian fans usually really quiet so unless it's foreign with more fans, the law of Jante sets in. Stage X is sure to come to some extent when the TV-series arrives.
  • Redwall was at Stage 4 at its peak (mostly in the U.K.), but is now at Stage 6b, mainly because much of its fanbase lost momentum due to Harry Potter becoming the next big novel series among kids, the arrival of other Xenofiction franchises such as Warrior Cats, and the death of Brian Jacques. The animated series by Nelvana is at Stage 2, and the Lost Legends of Redwall games are seemingly aiming to get the franchise to Stage X.
  • Tales of the Frog Princess: Appears to be permanently stuck in Stage 1.
  • Twilight. The huge hatedom made sure the series never got past Stage 3 despite its intense popularity among teenage girls. Today, it's at Stage 6c and is mostly forgotten, though the releases of Perspective Flip entries Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined and Midnight Sun were seemingly aiming for Stage X.
  • Watership Down: The original novel, Tales From Watership Down, and the 1990s animated series are at Stage 2; the 1970s film is at Stage 5 (mainly because of its infamy); and the 2018 Netflix miniseries is at Stage 1.
  • Depending on who you ask, Warrior Cats is either at Stage 5 or Stage 4, being an extremely popular and long-running children's series with a quite large fandom, however it's rarely recognized outside of its fandom, yet is the biggest Xenofiction series around.
  • As far as Noddy is concerned, this trope depends on which version of the franchise it is and which country is being discussed:
    • The books are Stage 5 in the United Kingdom, France and most of the Commonwealth, but a stage 1 elsewhere.
    • The pre-90's series fall somewhere between a Stage 1 and Stage 2 in the United Kingdom, but Stage 0 elsewhere.
    • Noddy's Toyland Adventures is a Stage 5 in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, and is a stage 2 in other parts of the world.
    • The Noddy Shop was Stage 4 when it first aired, before going into Stage 6c for years after it was taken off the air. Two decades later, it would become a Stage 2 thanks to the people who originally watched it as it aired rediscovering it.
    • Make Way For Noddy is a Stage 5 in the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, the United States (thanks to airings on PBS Kids Sprout) and Brazil. In fact, in the latter two countries, it's the first thing that comes to mind when you mention Noddy.
    • Noddy In Toyland and Noddy, Toyland Detective both are stage 3 in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, as they aren't as popular as Toyland Adventures or Make Way. For the US, the former falls somewhere between Stage 0 and 1 because it never aired on TV in the US and was only available on streaming, and the latter is stage 2, since it is on Netflix and Universal Kids.
    • Stage 5 in France, the entire Noddy franchise (known as Oui-Oui) is insanely popular since its' debut in 1963. Not only has the original books sell 600,000 copies annually, but it has managed to beat home-grown productions like Babar and Asterix in polls with parent and toddler participants in France. Unlike the series' native country, France had two exclusive musical stage shows (Oui-Oui et le cadeau Suprise and Oui-Oui Et Le Grand Carnava) based on the 2009 series Noddy In Toyland. The most recent incarnation of the show, Noddy: Toyland Detective, was actually co-produced in France and aired there before other parts of the world due to Noddy's massive popularity. The country even got tons of merchandise and various incarnations of the series air multiple times a day.

    Live-Action Films 
  • The Craft sits at Stage 6a these days. It was an unexpectedly big hit when it was first released in 1996, possibly reaching Stage 3, but it didn't manage to become as deeply ingrained in pop culture as similar works like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (although The Craft's initial success paved the way for young adult urban fantasy). Chances are if you were an adolescent in the 1990's or are into urban fantasy, you'll have at least heard of it, but it's more obscure outside of this. It remains to be seen if the upcoming reboot will spark renewed interest in the film.
  • Most Disney Channel Original Movies sit at Stage 2 at best, unless animated, which tend to fare better and reach Stage 4. There are a handful of live-action films that fared well.
    • Camp Rock: Peaked at Stage 3 and gotten a sequel, but has since dropped to Stage 6b.
    • Descendants: Stage 3. Popular with teenage girls, but a flop with Disney purists and Australians for having unflattering portrayals of both heroes and villains alike.
    • High School Musical: It's sitting on the border of Stages 3 and 4, mainly thanks to Disney Channel continuing to air it well into the 2010s and 2020s to new sets of teenage girls, in spite of a massive hatedom from fans of the classic shows and films who blame the trilogy for Network Decay (even if the theatrically-released third film was positively received by critics).
  • Ghostwatch: Stage 2, it's a Cult Classic (in the United Kingdom at least) with many people continuing to scour the special looking for more Pipes sightings.
  • Jurassic World: Definite Stage X, for both Jurassic Park fans and mainstream dinosaur fans on the whole.
  • The Lord of the Rings: High Stage 4, with many parts in Stage 5. Among the fans the trilogy is transcendent of all other films, and it's almost impossible to find any person that hasn't at least heard of LOTR or knows about Gollum or Gandalf.
  • Mean Girls has been on the border between Stages 4 and 5 for a while, and continues to have popularity with teenage girls.
  • Star Wars: This is one of the few film series that you can count on everyone having seen or at least heard of. It's stage 5.
  • TRON entered Stage X by the mid-2000s, with Kingdom Hearts II bringing it back into the spotlight, and helped greenlight a sequel and some ancilliary material... and then by the mid-2010s Disney made it regress back to 6a, cancelling a third movie and neglecting the franchise aside from a roller coaster and a video game produced by Sanzaru Games (see Sly Cooper entry in Video Games).
  • The Wizard of Oz: A Solid 5. See above for the status of the book series, which suffered Mainstream Obscurity at the hands of the film version.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Banshee: Stage 1 or 2, depending on what circles you run in - the show is beloved on Something Awful and has a fairly active subreddit, but is otherwise almost completely obscure.
  • Dateline: Was on the border between Stages 4 and 5 during the popularity of Chris Hansen's To Catch a Predator segments, but is now at Stage 6b.
  • Degrassi: Stage 6a, though potentially crossing into Stage X in 2020. The combination of a popular twitter account bringing light to the series again and several free streaming networks obtaining the rights to air the entire series meant there were even more avenues to watch the series and draw in new viewers.
  • Doctor Who is an example of a show that has gone through the cycle more than once. In its original run, it reached Stage 5 at some point during the 1970s (during Jon Pertwee and especially Tom Baker's tenure as the Doctor) and stayed there until the early 1980s, before gradually entering Stage 6 during the mid-late 1980s and settling at Stage 6b after it was cancelled in 1989 — while it lost a lot of popularity, a lot of the key elements of the show remained iconic within British culture and it maintained a passionate cult fanbase. Then, after it was revived and retooled in 2005, the modern show very quickly went re-entered Stage 5 again (especially after David Tennant took over the role), with the classic series entering Stage X as a result of the revival's popularity.
  • Game of Thrones: Stage 5 during its run, then went to Stage 6c after ending its run due to the controversial final season alienating fans and critics alike.
  • Heroes quickly reached Stage 4, but then the quality dip on Season 2 ensured it would never reach Stage 5. It arguably reached Stage 6a during the fourth and final season, not after it.
  • Lost was at Stage 5 during the peak of its popularity in the 2000s, but has since dropped to Stage 6b.
  • Hannah Montana: It reached Stage 4 during the peak of its popularity in 2008, but owing to Disney Channel's eventual Dork Age from overpromoting the show (and High School Musical), as well as the lead actress's behavior in the 2010s, the series aged very poorly, and is now sitting at Stage 6a.
  • Police, Camera, Action! falls into Stage 4 or 5, in the United Kingdom at least, where it's well-known. This is despite the fact it's a documentary.
  • Power Rangers: In the odd case of being a 90's pop culture icon that's still ongoing.
    • Power Rangers as a whole is on the border between Stages 5 and 6a, far from its glory days but with a fairly devoted fanbase and continued acknowledgements in pop culture. Every season manages to reach Stage 2 or 3 while airing, before diving directly into 6a-6c depending on how it's received.
    • Mighty Morphin by itself is at a full Stage 5.
    • Popular seasons like Time Force, Dino Thunder, and RPM manage to stay around Stage 2 pretty consistently.
    • The Neo-Saban era and 2017 film brought minor Newbie Booms. Like past seasons, each iteration hits stage 2 while airing, but other than Dino Charge the rest have slipped into Stage 6.
    • More hated seasons like Operation Overdrive, Samurai, and Megaforce are firmly in 6c.
  • The Sopranos peaked at Stage 5 around the time the show ended. The famously ambiguous ending became ingrained in pop culture after its airing in 2007. Now, the show is at Stage X due to a Newbie Boom in recent years, brought on in part by the announcement of a prequel movie to come, the popularity of the Talking Sopranos podcast hosted by cast members Michael Imperioli and Steve Schrippa, and binge-watching during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Star Trek: With several TV series and other media, it's popular enough to be stage 5.
  • The X-Files: Definitely one of the very few that went through the whole cycle and reached the mainstream recognition. Even people who never watched a single episode are likely to know who Mulder and Scully are.

    Music 
  • Justin Bieber: Was at Stage 4 at his peak, but went to Stage 3 after downgrading to having a modest sized fandom of particularly dedicated fans and otherwise being a gigantic target of mockery, but reached Stage X with his comeback.
  • Marilyn Manson: At the height of the band's popularity was Stage 4, bordering on Stage 5, but after 1999 has since become Stage 6a.
  • Nine Inch Nails was Stage 4 during The '90s, fell back into Stage 3 after the end of that decade, but became Stage X in the late New Tens thanks to Twin Peaks, Lil Nas X, and Black Mirror.
  • Pendulum: Stage 4 in Australia and the UK, Stage 3 elsewhere.
  • One Direction: On the border between Stages 4 and 5.
  • The Wanted: Was Stage 2 or 3 at best, but has since fallen to Stage 6b.
  • The Beatles: Stage 5, almost everyone knows about them, and they’re referenced constantly in pop culture.
  • Kraftwerk: Stage 5 in Germany and Italy, Stage 4 everywhere else
  • Vocaloid rapidly accelerated to Stage 5 in the late 2000s; for some time, Hatsune Miku could essentially stand for the face of Japan. The synthesizers maintained their popularity through the middle of the New 10's, but as it stands they've mostly regressed to Stage 4 in Japan (6a elsewhere), with some of the most famous producers leaving the scene and new producers struggling to garner the same level of attention. The products do maintain some level of mainstream presence in Japan, however, and new official projects based on the characters are still released every so often.

    Podcasts 

    Puppet Shows 
  • Barney & Friends reached Stage 5 during its heyday, but fell to Stage 6b towards the end of its run, mainly thanks to kids losing interest in it, and especially due to both the Periphery Demographic and Periphery Hatedom losing momentum due to the arrival of other kids' shows that managed to overtake Barney in popularity. The planned revival and second feature film are aiming for Stage X.
  • Fraggle Rock is at Stage 2.
  • LazyTown was at Stage 4 during its original run, especially in Europe. Currently it's at Stage 6a.
  • Sesame Street: A Solid 5.
  • The Sooty Show: Stage 5 in the United Kingdom, 2 at best in other countries (despite being on TV in some form since 1955, the advent of YouTube only recently made it possible to view the show in the US and elsewhere).

     Radio 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Star Wars d6: It's reached stage 6, but some fans are still playing it.
  • Dungeons & Dragons (a.k.a. D&D) sits at a pretty firm stage 4. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn't heard of it, even if they just know it as "that thing that nerds play".
    • That being said, it did languish in Stage 3 for a while due to a lack of mainstream pop culture around it and the remnants of Satanic Panic tinging its reputation. It was a combination of Actual Play shows like The Adventure Zone and Critical Role and the tv show Stranger Things that sparked a Newbie Boom.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE: Almost got as high as Stage 4, but reverted to 6a almost immediately after the line's initial cancellation. The 2015 revival stuck around at Stage 2.
  • GoGo's Crazy Bones got to around Stage 3 or 4 during its original 90's run. It skipped right to 6b or 6c upon the fad dying out, but got a Newbie Boom in 2007 due to a reboot version entering release; said reboot also got to around Stage 3 or 4 at its peak and has since gone on to become a Stage 6c. While the toys have most certainly not been forgotten completely by time, you'd have to be very, very lucky to find anyone who hasn't at least forgotten it ever existed nowadays.
  • The LEGO franchise in general, being the most popular construction toy series ever, is an unmistakable Stage 5.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney, being one of the main series to popularize the Visual Novel format in the west, is currently sitting squarely in Stage 4.
  • Age of Empires: The first game is a Stage 2, while Age of Empires II is a solid Stage 4.
  • Blizzard Entertainment sits mostly between Stage 3 and 4, with a couple exceptions. StarCraft and Overwatch are firmly in Stage 5 in South Korea. Older games like The Lost Vikings are Stage 2. Heroes of the Storm is either 2 or 3, being notably less popular than Blizzard's other games and also its main competitors.
  • BioWare: BioWare fandom has entered Stage 3 with the double-punch combo of Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2 (though some would argue that it happened as early as Knights of the Old Republic). Stage 2 has been reached with Baldur's Gate II, and time will only tell whether and when they fully transition to Stage 4 (Mass Effect 3 and SW:TOR have so far been unsuccessful at bringing that about, while Dragon Age II, Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem have only fueled the Broken Base, preventing upwards progression.)
  • Castlevania: A rather complicated case. At the beginning, it managed a way into Stage 3 thanks to the relative success of the initial trilogy plus other well-received entries like Super Castlevania IV and Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, then Castlevania: Symphony of the Night released in the late 90's to ensure a place on Stage 4. After that, the series hovered back to Stage 3 as smaller 2D entries became mostly confined to portable consoles while bigger 3D console entries had a hard time breaking out into popularity, making it lose some relevancy, but never actually lacking in new entries. The Castlevania: Lords of Shadow reboot in 2010 somewhat helped in regaining some Stage 4 cred as it was a decent success for the franchise, but that quickly dropped when the sequels were not as well-received. Castlevania then briefly entered Stage 6a with Koji Igarashi's departure from Konami sometime in the early 2010s (not unlike Kojima in the Metal Gear entry further below), but thanks to Netflix and its animated adaptation, the series was salvaged back into Stage 4, even if not through games.
  • Crash Bandicoot: Was on the edge between Stages 4 and 5 during its heyday in the late 90's. With Naughty Dog moving away from the series however, Crash went into Stage 6a, facing a harsh period of subpar entries for a decade and a half. It took the announcement and release of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy to breathe new life into the series and bring it to Stage X.
  • Danganronpa is currently at Stage 4. While it’s an extremely popular Visual Novel series with over 4 games (counting Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls), an anime adaptation, an anime sequel, and an OVA with a quite large fandom, it’s rarely recognized outside its Fandom enough to be considered as a Stage 5.
  • Doom: The classic Doom games were in a few years Stage 4, if not Stage 5, and a decade later had firmly guaranteed at least stage 6a, with an active community that keeps on making maps and game mods. Stage X also occurred with 2004's Doom 3 and DOOM (2016).
  • Dragon Quest in Japan is Stage 5, outstripping sister series Final Fantasy's popularity in its home region. Anywhere else it's Stage 2, although XI is starting to push it to Stage 3.
  • Dwarf Fortress is in stage 2.
  • The Elder Scrolls: To date, each new game in the series has eclipsed its predecessors in the popular consciousness. Previous games mostly wind up at Stage 6a in the Fandom Lifecycle, still played (and modded) by fiercely dedicated and very militant fandom cores. These games often experience a resurgence whenever a new game in the series is announced as fans replay them in anticipation.
    • Although a hit when it was first released, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind was eventually eclipsed by its sequels in popular eyes (arriving at Stage 6a of the Fandom Life Cycle). Nonetheless, it is still actively played and modded by a fiercely dedicated and very militant fandom core to this day.
  • F-Zero: While most people are at least aware of a few staple elements like main character Captain Falcon and recurring stages Mute City and Big Blue, dedicated series fans barely scrape by Stage 2. Most current fans are attracted to the series not on its own merits, but because F-Zero content appears in other Nintendo games such as Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart.
  • Final Fantasy as a whole (except in Japan, where Dragon Quest beats it) is Stage 5, though it varies by installment - Stage 4 is certain for the original, IV, VI (which were the first three released outside Japan), VII and X, with VII in particular being the only one confirmed as Stage 5.
  • Fire Emblem started out as a Stage 2 in its home country of Japan with its first game, with the game at the time being heavily criticized by critics but better-received by players and eventually finding success through pure word-of-mouth. The Japanese fandom eventually reached Stage 4 with the first game's half-remake-half-sequel on the SNES, to the point that they successfully lobbied for Fire Emblem characters to get into Super Smash Bros. Melee. This in turn lead to the release of the seventh game worldwide, garnering a Stage 2 fandom outside of Japan with a single major fansite. The international fanbase would remain Stage 2 until Fire Emblem Awakening, leading to the series hovering around Stage 3 and 4 and finally hitting Stage 4 with Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
  • Geometry Dash: Stage 2 or 3 at this point.
  • Gotcha Force resides in Stage 1 to this day, even after Capcom reprinted copies of the game back in March 2012 (for some reason), though that did begin to stir up a few possibilities over a sequel in the future.
  • The IdolMaster is Stage 5 in it's home nation in addition to some other parts of Asia and as well as some aspects being shared by others in terms of traits like Disabilities (namely with Autism for Haruka as an example), but it's at stages 2-3 elsewhere (aside with the obvious like the Cover Version(s) and some Fandubs in other Languages like English and of all Languages, German). However, the release of the Adaptations and the Cinderella Girls Virtual Reality Games made the series go to Stage X Internationally.
  • Kahoot! is frequently played by students during the school year, putting it at stage 2 or 3. During break, it goes to stage 6b because no one has to study. When school gets back in, it goes through stage X and gets back to stage 2/3 because people begin playing it again.
  • Kirby: Currently at a Stage 4, but this is a recent development, oddly enough. Despite being a long-running series that sells well, having a very recognizable main character, and being adapted into a generally liked anime series, Kirby barely edged at a Stage 3 for most of its life. This can be attributed to the games' limited appeal to the bigger game demographics (which also resulted in some Critical Dissonance for the earlier games), inconsistent releases throughout the 2000s, and generally being overshadowed by other Nintendo franchises. The series had its first big break when Super Smash Bros. Brawl gave it a large focus, and fully broke into the mainstream around the release of Kirby's Return to Dream Land in 2011. Since then, there's been a steady release schedule of new games and merchandise, and Kirby games are often considered major releases.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Stage 4, bordering on 5, as its games are best-sellers and remain a Nintendo flagship, and the franchise also inspired a cartoon, manga and various merchandise. The success and acclaim of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has quite possibly allowed the series to reach Stage 5 by now.
  • LittleBigPlanet: At one point it was a 3-bordering-on-4, but it's since cooled back down to a 3.
  • Mega Man: Despite its popularity in the gaming community, the series by itself never really went beyond Stage 4 overall (since sales were never really that great). It did enjoy some multimedia adaptations like a moderately well-known cartoon and an anime of one of its Spin-Off series that helped keep enough mindshare for Stage 4, but with Keiji Inafune's departure from Capcom, the series went into Stage 6a soon enough. Mega Man 11 brough the series into Stage X, at least saving it from a downward spiral of obscurity.
  • Metal Gear: Stage 2 with its first two games on the MSX. Then Metal Gear Solid happened and the rest is history. Since then, it has never deviated away from Stage 5, except for maybe short periods in-between mainline releases. Hideo Kojima's departure from Konami, however, brought the series somewhere into Stage 6 due to uncertainty following the franchise's future, as it was so creator-driven.
  • Metroid: Stage 3, has a dedicated fandom but in spite of a recognizable main character and acclaimed games, has not broken out into the mainstream like some other Nintendo series.
  • Mirror's Edge: The Mirror's Edge fandom is quite firmly in the Stage 2 (Cult Classic), as all players who still care about the game love it to bits but are comparatively few in number.
  • Monster Hunter is easily a Stage 5 in its home country, to the point where its mere presence is considered a Killer App for whatever console it's on. Internationally, attempts to pull the series out of Stage 2 struggled hard, but the series finally found a level of footing with 4 Ultimate, upgrading it to Stage 3, and the release of Monster Hunter: World shot it into Stage 4.
  • Mortal Kombat started off at Stage 5 with the first three games, slid into Stage 6a from Mortal Kombat 4 to Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, then hit Stage X and re-entered the mainstream with the 2011 reboot.
  • Panel de Pon started at Stage 1 and stayed there for many years until The New '10s, where increasingly frequent cameos of its main character Lip and the release of the original game via Nintendo Switch Online brought it more attention. It's currently hovering somewhere between the high end of Stage 2 and the low end of Stage 3.
  • Pokémon: As a whole, the franchise is squarely a 5. Being the highest-grossing media franchise in the world (at an estimated revenue of $90 billion), it is Nintendo's second best selling game series, has a very long running anime series (see the anime section), and has influenced quite a few corners of popular culture.
  • Puyo Puyo sits comfortably at Stage 3, in part of the Puyo Puyo Tetris games and Champions giving it an overseas foundation. There's a couple of dedicated circles that attempt to push towards Stage 4 by way of tournaments, but it struggles to get mainstream attention outside of Japan (solid Stage 4).
  • Ratchet & Clank: The original and Future trilogies are among the most beloved trilogies in the PS2 and PS3 era, respectively, bringing the series to a Stage 4.
  • While the Shin Megami Tensei series of dungeon-crawling RPGs is amazingly popular in its home country, a fanbase for it outside of Japan is barely existent, sitting squarely at a Stage 2. The same cannot be said of its More Popular Spin-Off, the Persona series, which rose to prominence with the release of Persona 3 and especially Persona 4, which is an entire Cash Cow Franchise unto itself. Internationally, even with the release of 3 and 4, the Persona series struggled to pass Stage 3, but it was the release of Persona 5 that allowed it to break into Stage 4, and the addition of Joker in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate sealed the deal on its popularity.
  • Sly Cooper:
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Has hovered around Stage 5 (full mainstream status) since the beginning, even though it is not as big as the in the early 1990s. At the very least, the character remains highly recognizable as a byproduct of the 90's.
  • Street Fighter: Quickly hit Stage 5 with the release of Street Fighter II, becoming an arcade and console staple thanks to its redefining gameplay and memorable cast. It briefly flirted with Stage 6a during the Street Fighter III era, but returned to Stage 5 with Street Fighter IV being a massive commercial and competitive success.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Stage 5, because the Mario series is basically the most well known, popular video game series in history. Especially true of the 'Mario Mania' years, wherein American children knew Mario better than Mickey Mouse.
  • Super Smash Bros.: Started at Stage 3 with 64, then hit a solid Stage 4 with Melee. While Brawl was a more divisive entry among competitive players, it further pushed the series close to Stage 5 thanks to record sales and the presence of third-party characters like Snake and Sonic. 3DS/Wii U and especially Ultimate have cemented the series into an unquestionable Stage 5, as it's now considered the premier video game crossover series and most popular Fighting Game franchise, with a relatively strong tournament scene.
  • Tamagotchi: In Japan, the toys became a big fad overnight (stage 4/5). By the time enough toys were being produced to meet demand, the popularity had died down and the fandom went through stage 6a. Went through Stage X in 2004, when the toys were relaunched. This also applies for America, except it hasn't had quite as much of a Newbie Boom.
  • The Wario series is probably one of the only series that both sells more than a million copies and yet is still somehow in phase 1 of the list, with it somehow having nothing of an organized fandom. Various people have questioned exactly why this is. WarioWare fares slightly better by virtue of it being more receint, but it's somewhere between phase 1 and phase 2. If you ever need proof of this, just try and find a forum/fan site for the WarioWare series - it's much harder than you'd think. The Mario spinoff games tend to have inactive fandoms compared to the main game and RPG spinoffs.
  • Zero Escape is an average Stage 2.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue rose to Stage 2 in just one year, and was definitely stage 4 seven years later, when the video service crashed during the season premiere. While parts of the fandom fear they're reaching Stage 6 or that being over 15 seasons long makes Stage X unlikely, it could still be counted as 4.
  • RWBY went from Stage 2 to Stage 4 by the beginning of Volume 4 thanks to the Newbie Boom of Volume 3's ending.
  • YouTube Poop: Stage 4, bordering on Stage 5. Many scholars have cited it as a huge example of remix culture, and there's literally hundreds if not thousands of YTPs uploaded onto the internet for all to see.
  • Battle for Dream Island: Currently at Stage 4. The show is hugely popular on the Internet and Scholastic has even published an Official Character Guide. It even spawned a whole genre of "object shows".
  • Homestar Runner: Went from Stage 2 to Stage 5 just within a few years thanks to widespread word-of-mouth and popularity on the internet, but then fell to Stage 6c after the 2009-2013 hiatus began. When the hiatus ended with the 2014 April Fools' Day toon, it rose to Stage X.

    Webcomics 
  • Endtown: Appears to have managed the remarkable feat of jumping straight from Stage 3 to some variation on Stage 6.
  • Welcome to Hell has managed the impressive feat of being at stage 2 from before it officially existed, and staying there for over 5 years.
  • The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: Has always stuck around at Stage 2, despite being a prominent image source on this wiki.

    Websites 
  • The Zimmer Twins: Was a Stage 3 that skipped 3 stages ahead and cooled down. Later, it skipped back to Stage 6 but this time it suffered the fate of destruction.
  • Neopets: Was somewhere between stage 4 and 5 at its peak, and even got its own Happy Meal toys, but went to 6a as the main demographic it was aimed at at the time moved on to other, newer game sites like Animal Jam. People in that age group are rarely aware of it nowadays; the remaining fanbase is rather quiet and consists mostly of players who have been there for years and refuse to leave, or are returning out of nostalgia.

    Web Original 
  • Creamsicle leaped to Stage 3 or 4 in under a week of being created. However, it was short lived and became 6c by 2013. In 2019 it became Stage X when "Gatekeeping Yuri" became a meme,

    Web Video 
  • Aventures: Stage 2. It has a significant fandom, but not very vocal outside of FanFiction.Net and DeviantArt.
  • Barney Bunch: Stage 2. There's a large fandom for it but it's not very vocal outside of YouTube and internet trolling circles.
  • Le Visiteur du Futur: Stage 2, then stage 3 from the middle of season 2, then stage 4 with seasons 3 and 4. It is now in stage 6a. May reach stage X if François Descraques manages to make his Visiteur du Futur movie.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time peaked at a firm Stage 5, but is currently at Stage 6a. It was a Cash Cow Franchise and cultural icon in the early 2010s but its fanbase lost momentum due to a combination of Screwed by the Network and newer cartoons like Steven Universe.
  • Classic Disney Shorts: Stage 5. A similar case to Looney Tunes, the characters are nearly universally known, although years of the original shorts being made hard to come by via a lack of TV airings and only being available on rare, expensive DVD sets may have pushed them into Mainstream Obscurity somewhat, with children more likely to be familiar with the characters from either the Disney theme parks or modern cartoons like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. The Disney+ streaming service may reverse this trend, but it remains to be seen.
  • Danny Phantom: Made it to stage 3 or 4 before the series ended, then went to stage 6a. Between the fandom having mostly dissolved over the course of the years the show has been off the air, the fans who watched it when they were kids having grown up, and the show's creator meddling in fandom affairs less than he did back in its heyday, what's left of the fandom now has a very different culture, which is currently torn between nostalgia, high-quality and often rather serious fanworks filled with many an Alternative Character Interpretation, and increasingly bizarre memes/in-jokes.
  • Kim Possible sits between Stage 3 and Stage 4. It was one of Disney's most successful cartoons of the 2000s and managed to get uncancelled. It still has a fanbase despite finishing in 2007 and reached Stage X thanks to the 2019 film.
  • Looney Tunes: Stage 5, especially cartoons featuring mascots Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. "What's Opera, Doc?" and "Duck Amuck" are both listed as the top two greatest short films of all time. Granted, the franchise is mainstream but also victim to the Popularity Polynomial among younger viewers, and shorts that don’t feature the more popular characters have fallen into Mainstream Obscurity; Bugs and Daffy may be comfortably Stage 5, but characters such as the Goofy Gophers or those from one-shot cartoons are probably Stage 2 at best.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Somewhere between Stage 2 and Stage 3. It has a huge amount of fanworks (even back when all that existed was the 2012 trailer it had hundreds of fanfics and even more fanart) but hasn't seemed to become a very mainstream cartoon like the Gravity Falls or Steven Universe fandoms yet (likely due to Nickelodeon's shabby treatment of the show in the US- hopefully the switch to Netflix will remedy these issues and expose the show to a wider audience).
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: You can make an argument for every stage from 4 on.
    • Stage 4 "large and organized," without a doubt. Sites like Equestria Daily and Fimfiction.Net are still running strong, and fan artists are still making things left and right.
    • Stage 5 (sufficiently ingrained in contemporary culture for even the people not familiar with it to know a lot about it). The fanbase has been referenced on Saturday Night Live (not positively, mind you, but then no "nerdy" thing ever is), The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and so on, and the general populace are aware that bronies exist. Andy Price, one of the comic artists, makes an argument that MLP is still in this stage in a "Fandom Files" podcast.
    • Stage 6: While mid 2011-early 2013 was undeniably the "golden age" (though 2015 was the year in which convention attendance and fan activity was the highest) it is impossible to deny that the fandom as a whole has changed. Whether that be for better or for worse remains to be seen, but there are arguments for a Stage 6 existence.
      • A (Cooldown): Not nearly as "flavor of the month" as a new fandom anymore, with new shows like Steven Universe, Star vs. the Forces of Evil, and other such shows gaining a massive Periphery Demographic as well, the fandom has simply devoted time to other things.
      • B (Oblivion): While bronies are still out there, they are more and more slipping out never to return, with many former bronies calling it "losing the spark" and it not coming back. As well, several conventions have closed their doors permanently (including flagship con BronyCon, closing in 2019), meaning that representation is dwindling.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes just barely reached stage 2 at some point during its run and then stayed there. Fans often blame the series having been Screwed by the Network for its lack of popularity.
  • Phineas and Ferb was Stage 4 at its peak. After the show ended and the creators moved on to Milo Murphy's Law, it settled down into Stage 6a.
  • Popeye: Stage 6A. At one point in the 1930s Popeye was even more popular than Mickey Mouse. His popularity dipped a little in the next decade but remained steady through the 1950s. After the end of the theatrical shorts it was a steady decline. More recently, Popeye missed the boat at regaining some popularity when a computer animated film adaptation was cancelled, and with the original shorts fading into obscurity with all except animation buffs (many of these shorts are decidedly dated and politically incorrect by today’s standards), he now teeters at a low Stage 2.
  • Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat: Stuck at Stage 2, as the series is mostly forgotten with a handful of fans remaining.
  • The Simpsons: Stage 5. Seasons 3 - 8 are wildly remembered as a relic of the 90s, and is one of the most influenced animated shows ever made.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants is a firm stage 5, being one of, if not the most popular animated series of the new millennium. You would be very hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn't even heard of the show, not to mention it gets a lot of memes made out of it in comparison to other shows, particularly from the first three seasons.
  • Tom and Jerry: They’ve been able to hold onto Stage 5 better than most classic cartoons from the era, thanks in part to a strong presence in reruns (being one of the last classic cartoons that Cartoon Network still airs from time to time), being wordless and easy to export to other countries without needing to be dubbed, and new adaptations coming out consistently. In fact, since gaining the rights to the series Warner Bros. has put out more Tom and Jerry shows and movies than they have their own Looney Tunes series.
  • Total Drama: Currently at Stage 3, but is nearing the brink of Stage 4.
  • Blazing Dragons is stuck at Stage 2 as of now, but the #BDRevolution movement has been trying to get the series bumped up to Stage X.
  • PB&J Otter: Stage 4 during its run on Playhouse Disney in the late 1990s and early 2000s; nowadays it's at Stage 2.
  • Over the Garden Wall: Stage 4 during its run, and received mass critical acclaim from critics and fans alike. Currently it's at Stage 6b.
  • Angelina Ballerina: Stage 2 for both the original series and The Next Steps. The planned revival seems to be aiming at getting the series to enter Stage X.
  • Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart: Stage 2, but peaking at Stage 3.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: Peaked at Stage 3, then imploded into Stage 6c after the poorly-received finale.
  • Filly Funtasia is stuck between Stage 2 and Stage 3. The show itself got its popularity not from nostalgia for the Filly franchise, but rather because the show was disregarded as nothing more than a rip-off of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic upon its mere announcement. Thus you could imagine how vocal the hatedom for the show was back in 2013 and still continues to be to this day. However the show did manage to gain itself a sizeable enough fandom for such a rather obscure series, and the fandom has its places to communicate to each other, including a news site about Filly Funtasia-related stuff.
  • Fanboy and Chum Chum might as well be the prime definition of Stage X, as the series had gathered a massive hatedom as it was airing, with not many people liking or even caring for it. Long after it was cancelled (at around the time Glitch Techs was gaining some attention), the show suddenly boomed in popularity, and it gained a dedicated - if a bit niche fandom.

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