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Fandom Life Cycle

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Whether it'd be 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/or 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. Historically, most creators had started paying attention to their fandoms at this stage, but in the internet age, fan-creator exchanges often begin at even earlier stages.
  • 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. Affectionate parodies and especially shallow parodies of the work made by those outside the fandom become common. Accusations of "It's Popular, Now It Sucks!" can prolifirate as well. 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. If it is particularly well-remembered and left a sufficient mark on popular culture, it may hover at Stage 3 in its cooldown period thanks to the nostalgic memories of older fans and later generations of creators who were influenced by it.
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    • (b) Oblivion. The fandom goes back to the obscurity of Stage 1 from any of the previous stages.
    • (c) Destruction. The fandom completely dissolves, leaving it either forgotten completely or with only a handful of people dedicated to its preservation. Particularly extreme examples can lead to the fandom's object becoming a Cult Classic at best, or getting Condemned by History at worst.
  • Stage X: Newbie Boom. After slipping back to obscurity or a similar fate, the fandom springs back towards the mainstream due to external factors, such as a Continuity Reboot, Colbert Bump, Sequel Gap, Revival by Commercialization, Popularity Polynomial, or an adaptation/spin-off series becoming popular.

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. And even a Stage 5 work can fall from grace due to Executive Meddling, Seasonal Rot, or a variety of other reasons, as some examples on this page can demonstrate. 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. If this trope occurs or is mentioned in-universe, it's Popularity Cycle.


Examples:

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    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 sit at Stage 6c.
  • 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.
    • 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.
      • However, Stitch still has enough popularity in The New '10s to at least have been voted into Disney Infinity starting with its second game and Disney Heroes: Battle Mode, and still gets a regular flow of merchandise, while his Love Interest and Distaff Counterpart Angel gets merchandise in the States to this day. Additionally, a Live-Action Adaptation of the original film is being developed, albeit for Disney+ rather than theaters.
      • 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.
  • 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.
  • Pixar films have an average score of Stage 4, with franchises like Cars,, Finding Nemo The Incredibles, and especially Toy Story'' being at Stage 5.
  • Felidae has an average score of Stage 2.
  • Dreamworks Animation films usually range between Stages 3 and 6a/6b. Their biggest franchises like How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, and Trolls seem to fall into Stage 4.
    • Shrek in particular was at Stage 5 within a year of its initial release. Then once sequelitis kicked in, it fell down to either stage 6a or stage 6b. The abundance of ironic internet memes that eventually followed caused it to fall into Stage X. Not long after this, the first, second, and fourth installments became Vindicated by History enough that the franchise somehow went back to Stage 5.

    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).
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba started out as a Stage 3, but rocketed into Stage 5 in Japan, and Stage 4 worldwide, upon the release of its anime adaptation.
  • Devilman was a Stage 2 in the West for the most part before hitting Stage X and then Stage 4 with the release of Crybaby.
  • Doraemon:
    • In Japan, the series is stage 5, being enduringly popular ever since it debuted and receiving new episodes to this day.
    • Its fandom is at stage 3 in the English-speaking world; it's not as popular as certain other anime, but maintains a steady following that prevents the series from being totally obscure even in those countries.
  • Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z started at Stage 1 in the U.S. and Canada, then went up to Stage 3. Now they're at Stage 5.
  • 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.
  • Gundam sits somewhere between Stage 3 and 4, leaning towards the former. While most people in the anime community know about Gundam, very few people outside it’s dedicated fanbase know anything outside of “it’s a Humongous Mecha show”. It’s regular Alternate Continuity releases tend to hit Stage 3 and then 6a fairly quickly, most notably 00 and Iron-Blooded Orphans
  • 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 6a 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.
  • JoJo's 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.
  • Kamisama Minarai: Himitsu no Cocotama, and the Cocotama franchise in general, are no larger than stage 2 in the West; the English fandom is organized but small due to a lack of English localizations.
  • 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. In Spain, it's Stage 4 due to becoming very popular with Spanish audiences such as gaining exclusive merchandise and a full DVD boxset of the entire series.
  • Miracle Wanda is at stage 2 in the West. There is an organized fandom for the series, but it's quite small due to the series being mostly unknown outside of Japan.
  • 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.
  • Ojarumaru:
    • In Japan, it's stage 4, being below the popularity of certain other long-running anime but still popular enough to produce well over 1,000 episodes.
    • It's always been stage 1 at best in the West; due to a lack of English localizations, the show has barely any organized Western fanbase.
  • One Piece has remained a solid Stage 5 for over twenty years in Japan, as individual manga volumes still reliably sell millions. In 2000s America, however, it was different story since the botched dub by 4Kids Entertainment was met with a terrible 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 Stage 4 on American soil, possibly due to its aforementioned competitors having finished halfway through the decade.
  • Osamu Tezuka's works is Stage 4 and 5 in Japan due to becoming a very influential person with mangakas and other Japanese authors. Outside his native country, some of his works fall between the Stage 1 and 4 categories.
    • The Astro Boy franchise is Stage 5 in Japan due to becoming very influential with Japanese pop culture and gained newer incarnations every 20 years. In America, it was at Stage 2 due to being one of the first Japanese animated content that hit the American market but is currently at Stage 1. In Australia, it's Stage 4 due to Aussies highly enjoying the franchise with older audiences.
    • Kimba the White Lion is Stage 3 in American and western countries, while it's Stage 5 in Japan.
    • Unico is Stage 5 in Japan, while in American it was at Stage 3 due to the movies frequently airing on Disney Channel throughout the 1980s. Nowadays the Unico series is at Stage 2 with dedicated American fans managed to get the original manga series an official tranlation thanks to a successful kickstarter. In Mexico, Spain, and France it's at Stage 1.
  • 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:
    • Pocket Monsters is at a Stage 0, despite running since the late 1990s. 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 really 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: 6A. 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 newer anime fans either don't watch it or haven't heard of 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, being one of the few anime series that even Westerners who've never watched anime can recognize by name alone.
  • 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 to mid-2000s, making it a Stage 2 at its 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, 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, 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). The planned reboot, however, is aiming for Stage X.
  • 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 have been mixed.
    • In America and the Great White North, the anime went from Stage 2 to Stage 6c within three years. It began gaining a small following along with the games, but the English dub went through a series of hurdles before being Screwed by the Network and cancelled mid-season 3. Whatever of the anime fanbase remained 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 '90s, 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.
  • YuYu 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.
  • Boonie Bears:
    • Undoubtedly stage 5 in China, being the similarly stage 5 Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf's primary rival in popularity and receiving the most merchandise of any of Fantawild's series.
    • It's more around stage 2 in the West, as it does have an established Western fandom but hasn't taken off in the same way it has in China, despite having a fuller English dub than most Chinese cartoons.
  • Happy Heroes: Stage 4 in China; the series has multiple seasons and movies and a large fandom, but isn't quite a staple of Chinese pop culture. It's more Stage 2 at best in the West, with the series maintaining a small but dedicated Western following but being very obscure otherwise.
  • Motu Patlu:
    • In India, the show is a big hit with a large fanbase (primarily consisting of its target audience of children) and countless episodes, placing it somewhere around level 4, if not level 5.
    • In the English-speaking world, the show's fandom is no larger than level 2. In 2017, the show became the subject of a number of memes in the United States, giving the show slightly more recognition and a cult following there; its English fanbase is still small, however.
  • Noonbory and the Super 7: Currently transitioning from Stage 1 to Stage 2. It has a small wiki and Discord server, but is generally out of the eyes of mainstream media.
  • 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 in 2019, the season Mighty Little Defenders gained back some of the show's popularity, so it may be Stage 5 again.
    • 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.
  • Pucca as a franchise is a firm Stage 5 in its home country of South Korea, and the titular character is seen everywhere in marketing. Outside of South Korea, the Animated Adaptation by Jetix is a Stage 4 in Europe and Latin America and a Stage 2 or 3 everywhere else. The Soft Reboot of the franchise, Pucca: Love Recipe is slowly bringing the franchise to Stage X internationally.
  • 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 2.

    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-19th century.
  • 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.
  • The Divergent books quickly made their way to Stage 3 after their publication between 2011 and 2013, helped by the success of The Hunger Games, which popularised young adult dystopian fiction. Some dismissed Divergent as a Hunger Games rip-off but it had plenty of fans and the books were bestsellers, resulting in the books receiving movie adaptations that launched it to Stage 4 in 2014. However, declining interest in YA dystopia and the ill-fated decision to adapt Allegiant into two movies took a toll on the franchise's popularity; Allegiant underperformed at the box office in 2016 which resulted in the final film, Ascendant, going into Development Hell, leaving the movie series unfinished. The franchise as a whole ended up slipping into Stage 6b; while some people have fond memories of the books and/or films from their adolescence, it's often stated that Divergent doesn't hold up as well as similar works like The Hunger Games and so ended up forgotten by most people.
  • 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.
  • Peter Pan: Stage 5; the book itself may be falling into Mainstream Obscurity but there were enough adaptations to keep it in the public consciousness before this began to happen; the Disney adaptation alone prevents it from ever slipping back below stage 3. The dated and politically incorrect elements threaten to bring it down further though, and are likely why there haven’t been more adaptations of the story in recent years.
  • 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 and the planned Netflix animated projects are seemingly aiming to get the franchise to Stage X.
  • Tales of the Frog Princess: Appears to be permanently stuck in Stage 1.
  • Twilight. Despite its intense popularity among teenage girls, the equal intensity of its enormous hatedom kept it from getting past stage 3. When its popularity bottomed out in the mid-2010s, it fell to Stage 6c and was quickly displaced by new young-adult series like The Hunger Games, though the releases of the Perspective Flip entries Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined and Midnight Sun, together with a broader cultural reevaluation of the hatedom, have brought it to 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, at least in Britain); 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.
  • Wings of Fire sits at a Stage 2, as it's very well-known among xenofiction and children's literature circles and not anywhere else, but still has a respectable fandom with a moderate amount of fan content and speculation.
  • 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.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: When the first book was published in 1996, it was critically acclaimed and sold well, as did the next two books, generating a solid fanbase, but the series remained a bit obscure outside of fantasy readers. 2005's A Feast for Crows brought it wider attention. Then along came the TV adaptation in 2011. The fandom promptly leapt up to Stage 5 thanks to the TV's show success, with lots of viewers picking up the books as well; despite the controversy around the show's ending many fans are still loyal to the books and eagerly anticipate the next installment. Even if you aren't a fan there's a pretty good chance you'll know a bit about the books' plot and characters, and both the books and show have received credit for helping fantasy break Out of the Ghetto.

    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 got a sequel in 2020, but it was largely overlooked and didn't do much to revive interest besides getting a few people to check out or rewatch the original.
  • 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 got 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 (the spinoff High School Musical: The Musical: The Series also helped), 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. The franchise sits at 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.
  • Charlie Chaplin is still instantly recognizable a century after his heyday, the most remembered star of the silent film era, and sits at Stage 5. Many of his shorts are falling into Mainstream Obscurity as the decades go by, however, and his feature length films from later in his career are the most well-known.
  • Buster Keaton is the second most well-known silent film star behind Chaplin with a decent sized fandom to this day (who call themselves “Damfinos” after a gag in one of his films), and can be placed at a comfortable Stage 4.
  • Laurel and Hardy are more popular in the UK and Europe than in Oliver Hardy’s home country of the United States, sitting at a Stage 5 in the Uk and Europe and a Stage 4 in the United States. Their official fan club The Sons of the Desert still exists, although the core of their existing fandom is mainly Baby Boomers.
  • The Three Stooges are almost the inverse of Laurel and Hardy, much more popular in the United States than elsewhere. This is mainly due to their shorts being Vindicated by Cable from the 1950s to the present, as well as their distinctively American brand of slapstick humor. They do however have a decent following in Latin America thanks to Spanish dubs that have aired for decades. They are a Stage 5 in the United States, perhaps Stage 2 at best elsewhere.

    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.
  • BattleBots: When on Comedy Central, it sat between Stages 2 and 3. There were devoted fans, people would spend good money to travel to the events and watch them live, and Comedy Central enjoyed the ratings it brought in, at least until Season 5.0 when it was suddenly taken off the air. Without TV exposure, it went immediately to Stage 6a until ABC picked it up and it shot up to Stage 4 now that it was on national broadcast, and in the prime time hours, no less. Despite the move to the more limited cable, when it was abandoned by ABC and moved to the Discovery Channel, it remained at Stage 4. BattleBots introduced the general public to the concept of combat robots and the tournament structure for it, and while few can name any specific robots, the arena appearing like an underground cage ring and the bots' general appearance of being flat wheeled vehicles with buzz saws, hammers, and flipping panels are instantly recognizable to anybody. That is, prior to BattleBots, if you told people you were making a "combat robot," they probably thought you were making a Humongous Mecha, military weapon, or a robot army. After BattleBots, they probably know you're designing one with the intent to fight other combat robots in an organized sport-like competition.
  • Breaking Bad may have lingered in Stage 2 forever, but when Netflix added it to streaming, it took off and saw unseen heights. The relationship was symbiotic; Breaking Bad fueled the streaming boom, and streamers helped Breaking Bad. By the final season, it got to Stage 5, and has stayed there ever since.
    • While Better Call Saul will probably never make the huge dent on pop culture that its parent show has, it still has a very devoted fanbase and is considered to be one of the best spinoff shows of all time. Even people who haven't watched it will still know it as a Breaking Bad prequel. Overall, the show is a Stage 4.
  • 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.
  • Friends hit Stage 5 during its run, and even if the only new content after its 2004 end was the fairly unpopular Joey, never regressed, gaining new fans through reruns and streaming, and 17 years after the finale, just getting the six stars together for a talk in an HBO Max special was a huge deal.
  • Game of Thrones hit Stage 5 during its run. Its actors saw their careers launched or revitalized, watercooler discussions revolved around its Wham Episodes, and it was never far from critics' tongues throughout the 2010s. However, after its controversial final season alienated fans and critics alike, it fell hard to 6b in a matter of months, with most of its fandom now being an extension of that of the novels it was adapted from. Not that it was entirely forgotten - the following year, GoT was still the second most-watched show on HBO Max, and the most pirated series during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and HBO is still working on prequel shows. Whether or not these can send the franchise back into the higher echelons remains to be seen.
  • Heroes quickly reached Stage 4, but then its quality dip in Season 2 ensured it would never reach Stage 5. It arguably reached Stage 6a during the fourth and final season, not after it, and has since slipped to 6b. Most of its fandom now concerns the actors who had their breakthroughs on the show.
  • Hannah Montana reached Stage 4 during the peak of its popularity in 2008, but owing to the 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. It now sits at 6a and exists mainly as a goofy nostalgia item for grown-up millennials.
  • Lost was at Stage 5 during the peak of its popularity in the 2000s, but has since dropped to Stage 6b due to its controversial ending. Its impact on TV storytelling, however, kept it from being forgotten.
  • Nickelodeon Game Shows: Stage 4 in The '90s and among many kids who grew up watching Nickelodeon; otherwise, they had gone to Stage 6a after most of them moved to Nick GaS upon the network's launch in 1999 and especially after Nickelodeon Studios shut down in 2005. However, Double Dare is now at Stage X since it was briefly revived for Nickelodeon's 2018-2019 season. Most of the other game shows have also gone to Stage X since the launch of Paramount+ in 2021.
  • Nick Studio 10 was stage 1 when it was airing; while it did have some fans, they were mostly drowned out by the people who disliked the show. Nowadays the series is at stage 6c, with not many people remembering it existed.
  • 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 is the odd case of a '90s 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.
    • 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.
    • Popular seasons like Time Force, Dino Thunder, and RPM manage to stay around Stage 2 pretty consistently. 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, and helped to revive the popularity of the song "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. 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. Even people who have never seen a single thing from the franchise could probably name several characters and catchphrases ("Live long and prosper," "Set phasers to stun," etc.)
  • Stranger Things: Season 1 was a surprise hit and the show was almost instantly catapulted to Stage 4. The next two seasons received a more mixed (though not terrible) reaction from critics and fans, however, and with a long gap between seasons 3 and 4 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has cooled down to a 6a, although its influence is still being felt in Hollywood (It (2017) and Ghostbusters: Afterlife arguably wouldn’t exist without this series, at least not in the same way).
  • 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. While there was sort of a cooldown after a badly received final season (as reflected by the middling response to The X-Files: I Want to Believe), 14 years later a revival miniseries came out showing the show's impact.

    Music 
  • ABBA: A solid 5, being one of the most recognizable pop vocal groups of all time. They slipped back to Stage 6b after they went on an indefinite hiatus in the early 1980s, before going through Stage X a decade later.
  • Alice in Chains: Stage 6a. One of the “Big 4” grunge bands of the 90s, they never quite overtook Nirvana in popularity, making it to Stage 4. Singer Layne Staley’s death hit the band hard, and although they reformed with a new singer a few years later, many people don’t even know they’re still making music.
  • The Beatles: Stage 5, almost everyone knows about them, and they’re referenced constantly in pop culture.
  • Blood on the Dance Floor rose to Stage 3, bordering Stage 4, during the late 2000s and early 2010s, being highly popular in the scene subculture. The band's popularity subsequently declined along with interest in scene and Crunkcore, to the point many people were surprised to hear they were still around in some form as late as 2018.note  By this point, Blood On the Dance Floor had long since entered Stage 6c; not only is the band's music and style considered very niche now (to the point some people are embarrassed to admit they liked it in their youth), their reputation is likely permanently tainted by the serious allegations of sexual assault and abusive behavior made against Dahvie Vanity - including by his former bandmates - which makes even people who enjoy some of their songs reluctant to bring them up anymore.
  • Cocteau Twins: Stage 4 (sometimes 6a) in the UK, Stage 2 in the US.
  • 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, later aided by a cultural reevaluation of his hatedom.
  • Lady Gaga: Stage 5 at her peak, she then went to Stage 6a after the failure of Artpop. After the success of the widely-praised Super Bowl LI halftime show and her album Joanne in 2016-17, she's been at Stage X.
  • Michael Jackson was formerly at Stage 4. Then he went to Stage 6b in 1993 when oft-disputed sexual allegations against him arose. Following his death in 2009, he's now at Stage X.
  • Kraftwerk: Stage 5 in Germany and Italy, Stage 4 everywhere else.
  • 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.
  • Mötley Crüe: Stage 4 in the 80s, Stage 6c for most of the 90s. Currently, the band seems to ping-pong between Stages 5 and 2.
  • 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 2010s thanks to Twin Peaks, Lil Nas X, and Black Mirror.
  • Nirvana: During the height of the band's popularity, they were at Stage 4. After Kurt Cobain's suicide in 1994, they disbanded and slipped down to 6b. Currently, the band is on the border between Stages 5 and 6a.
  • One Direction: On the border between Stages 4 and 5 at their peak. After their breakup, their fandom rubbed off on their members' solo careers, particularly Harry Styles.
  • Pendulum: Stage 4 in Australia and the UK, Stage 3 elsewhere.
  • Smash Mouth: Stage 4 in the late 90s-early 2000s, Stage 6c for much of the latter half of the 2000s, currently sitting at stage 6a due to the cult following surrounding Shrek and the many memes made out of "All Star".
  • TLC: Stage 5 among urban audiences and Stage 2 among the mainstream in the 90s, but managed to pull in Stage X following Left Eye's death.
  • 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.
  • The Wanted: Was Stage 2 or 3 at best, but has since fallen to Stage 6b.

    Podcasts 
  • Acquisitions Incorporated: The series seems to have entered Stage 4, as Scott points out in season 8: "Remember how they all used to hate us? Now they're helping!"
  • The Adventure Zone is somewhere around Stage 3, with Balance closer to Stage 4.
  • Welcome to Night Vale got about as close to Stage 5 as a podcast has yet achieved. With the fandom catching fire after the show's first anniversary, there immediately came an influx of downloads and donations, with fans everywhere pouring in their resources. This inspired live shows, fandom QnA episodes, guest stars, a Thrilling Adventure Hour crossover, a podcast network where the creators and friends could develop spinoffs, and even a few novels. However, at some point, Continuity Lockout set in. After a few years, the quality of the main podcast dwindled and though the live shows were still well-attended, the fandom receded to a 6a. Smaller, but still extant.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Unlike other Hanna-Barbera properties, The Banana Splits hovered around Stage 4 during its original run in 1969-70, then fell to 6b once the second season came out. The 1972 Made-for-TV Movie The Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park was at Stage 2, and the 2008 reboot on Cartoon Network hovered at Stage 1 at most. When the 2019 movie was released, it jolted the franchise to Stage X, mostly due to people remembering the Theme Tune, and their cameo appearance in Jellystone! only fueled the reinterest in them.
  • Barney & Friends reached Stage 5 during its heyday, but fell to Stage 6b towards the end of its run in the late 2000s, 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 went nowhere, and the second feature film is aiming for Stage X.
  • Bear in the Big Blue House was at Stage 4 during its run on Playhouse Disney. Now it's at Stage 6a.
  • Between the Lions was at Stage 4 during its run, but slipped down to Stage 6a after it ended.
  • Fraggle Rock is at Stage 2.
  • Lomax, the Hound of Music is stuck at Stage 1 due to its short run.
  • LazyTown was at Stage 4 during its original run, especially in Europe, and reached Stage X at the height of the popularity of the "We Are Number One" meme. Currently it's at Stage 6a.
  • Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: A solid 5 during its run, only becoming relatively obscure among the newer generations after Fred Rogers' death. The release of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood brought it back to Stage X, as members of Generation Alpha (and the newer members of Generation Z) were introduced to Mister Rogers' world for the first time.
  • Noggin's original series, such as Jack's Big Music Show, Oobi, Play With Me Sesame, and The Upside Down Show are at Stage 2. The Upside Down Show, in particular, was burned off in the fall of 2006, and in 2007 the show was announced to have been cancelled after only one season.
  • Sesame Street: A solid 5; the show premiered in 1969 and has shown no signs of stopping since, having thoroughly engrained itself into pop culture as an icon of children's television.
  • The Sooty Show: Stage 5 in the United Kingdom and Ireland, with a smaller following in Australia and New Zealand, and 2 at best in other countries (despite being on TV in some form since 1955, it never quite made it over to the United States, although the advent of YouTube recently made it possible to view the show in the US and elsewhere).
  • The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss is stuck at Stage 1.

    Radio 

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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".
  • Star Wars d6: It has long reached somewhere in Stage 6, but some fans still play it.

    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.
  • Bratz: When Bratz was first introduced in 2001, its popularity skyrocketed to Stage 4; in 2004 it managed to outsell Barbie in the UK, by 2006 it held 40% of the fashion doll market and Bratz merchandise was everywhere. Things slowed down following the lawsuit with Mattel (which briefly saw the line discontinued) and despite MGA ultimately winning the case Bratz never quite recovered, greatly declining in popularity by the early 2010s; the failure of the live-action movie didn't help. MGA made comeback attempts but struggled to compete with other brands like Monster High; some of their rebranding also proved unpopular with fans. Nowadays, Bratz is widely seen as a relic of the 2000s, mostly sitting at Stage 6b. However, the CGI cartoon series may be headed for Stage 6a on account of nostalgia note  and the opportunity for memes.
  • Digimon: The franchise as a whole is currently going through Stage X, which started with Digimon Adventure tri., helped by society's prevalent late 90s/early 2000s nostalgia.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • Animal Crossing stayed at Stage 2 (3 at best) for years; it was considered an underrated Cult Classic. With the rise of New Horizons, however, it jumped straight to Stage 5, gaining massive popularity from many newcomers and even many celebrities (including President Joe Biden!).
  • Among Us: Stage 4 during the spring and summer of 2020, then dropped to Stage 6a afterwards.
  • 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 6b, facing a harsh period of subpar entries for a decade and a half as well as the original games being met with a more critical eye. It took the announcement and release of the 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 Doom³ and DOOM (2016).
  • Dragon Quest in Japan is Stage 5, outstripping sister series Final Fantasy's popularity in its home region. The franchise is Stage 2 anywhere else, although XI is starting to push it to Stage 3.
  • Dwarf Fortress is in stage 2.
  • Ecco the Dolphin: While the Genesis games sold pretty well (even being included in multiple collections), the series is constantly overshadowed by other Sega franchises, most likely due to the games' infamous difficulty and out-there plots. As a result, the series is perpetually in Stage 1 or 2, with a small but passionate fandom.
  • 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.
  • Fallout began at Stage 3 with its first two installments, but shot up to Stage 5 quick upon the release of 3, which it retained for around ten years with New Vegas and 4, before shifting back to Stage 4 with the bungled release of 76 and Bethesda shifting their focus onto Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI, leaving the series in limbo for the near future.
  • 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 installment, IV, VI (which were the first three released outside Japan), VII and XVII in particular is the only installment confirmed to be at 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.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's started out at Stage 2 when it was first released, but soon rose to Stage 4 bordering on Stage 5 due to Let's Players discovering it for the first time, especially Markiplier. After the release of Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator and Ultimate Custom Night in 2016, the fandom slipped into Stage 6a due to those games being (at the time) the final games in the series. Three years later, the fandom is sitting comfortably at Stage X with the release of Five Nights At Freddys VR Help Wanted.
  • When Friday Night Funkin' was released during Ludum Dare 47, it was squarely at Stage 0a, barely making it past the top 300 in ratings. Over the course of a few weeks, however, the game rapidly gained popularity among players, and is now the most well-known game of the entire game jam (The game itself is the highest-rated game on Newgrounds). As the months went by and new content was added to the game, the fandom quickly grew to Stage 4 bordering on Stage 5, with many people experiencing the rhythm game genre for the first time thanks to this game. Because of the game's newfound popularity (along with the many mods available to download), it helped give other works, such as Pico and Madness Combat, the Newbie Boom these franchises needed.
  • 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 pertaining to either a sequel or an Updated Re-release in the future.
  • Grand Theft Auto has been at an unshakeable 5 since the release of III, and has only grown since then.
  • The iDOLM@STER 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.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Currently hovers between Stage 3 and 4. Debuted with Stage 1, approached Stage 2 after the release of Chain of Memories, but the fandom absolutely exploded following the release of Kingdom Hearts II, easily making it to Stage 4 and staying that way for over a decade. Fanfiction and fanart in particular boomed in popularity, and Kingdom Hearts took the top "Video Games" spot on FanFiction.Net following II's release, with the gap only growing wider with the releases of 358/2 Days and Birth by Sleep, until the mid-2010s when Pokémon took its place during a long hiatus between the releases of Dream Drop Distance and III. Even now after the release of III and the series being 20 years old, the fandom remains in Stage 4, though its level of activity is far less than it was back in its heyday between 2006-2012.
  • Kirby: Stage 4. 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 during The '90s and the Turn of the Millennium. This can be attributed to the games' colorful, cutesy style giving it limited appeal to 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 it 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.
  • Klonoa: Currently at Stage 2 in the West. While the series has gained zero advertisement in the western market (save for an infamous Magazine ad for Door to Phantomile), the franchise has started entering Stage 3 in Japan beginning in the early 2000s decade with a majority of fanwork (notably fan remixes, songs with lyrics, and fan animations) coming from Japan. After many years without any new content, news finally came in the form of Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil getting a Compilation Rerelease with Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series heading to the Nintendo Switch on July 2022 and other consoles in the future. The fanbase is currently expected to receive a Newbie Boom in both the west and Japan.
  • 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: For decades, it was firmly in Stage 3. It had (and still has) a dedicated fandom, but in spite of a recognizable main character and acclaimed games, the series did not break out into the mainstream like some other Nintendo series. Then came 2021 and the announcement and release of Metroid Dread, given all of the hype and marketing that games past in the series lacked, finally allowing it to break into the mainstream and reach Stage 4.
  • 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.
  • Pac-Man has the original arcade and Ms. Pac-Man unquestionably at Stage 5, but the rest of the franchise ranks between Stages 1 and 2. Super Smash Bros and Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures also gave the series a small and temporary Newbie Boom.
  • 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.
  • The Pico series as a whole has always been at Stage 5 on Newgrounds, as Pico, Nene, and Darnell were the first official mascots of the website until Tankman's introduction in 2006. In mainstream culture, the series has been at Stage 2 or 3 mainly due to both the controversial subjects of their respective origin games note  and reuploads of various flash animations of Pico and his friends to YouTube. With the introduction of Pico as a Guest Fighter in Friday Night Funkin', the fandom is quickly going to Stage X, as many people discover Pico's origins for the first time.
  • 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.
  • Prince of Persia was 2 or 3 during its original run, and then under Ubisoft it possibly raised to Stage 4, with the Sands of Time trilogy being known even by those who missed the PC games and inspiring a film adaptation. However, the lack of new games in The New '10s caused a regression to 6b, and time will tell if the long-delayed remake of The Sands of Time can help.
  • 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 trilogy is among the most beloved trilogies in the PS2 era, with the Future trilogy being less popular but still notable for the PS3 era. The series altogether is a Stage 4.
  • Resident Evil: Has been a firm Stage 5 for a while now, being considered the premiere horror game series and Capcom's biggest Cash Cow Franchise. As for specific entries, the first four games are all at Stage 5, while 5 and 6 are at a 4, with 0 and Code - Veronica at a 3, and 7 and Village bringing it back to 5.
  • Roblox: Was a Stage 2 during its first few years. Ascended into Stage 3 or 4 during the early New Tens and firmly Stage 5 from 2017 onwards.
  • 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 Sonic’s popularity wavered a lot since his golden age in the early to mid 90s, as the 3D games in the next decades were widely regarded as hit-or-miss at best. The success of the 2020 live-action film pretty much cemented it as a solid 5.
  • 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.
  • Most Valve games are able to garner enough acclaim and success to get to at least Stage 4. If a game gets a sequel, then there is a good chance that it will receive even greater recognition and peak its series at a low Stage 5. However, due to Valve's infamously long and slippy development schedules, their series are not often able to keep their momentum going and settle into Stage 4 while waiting for the next installment, rarely being discussed outside of their own fandoms but still remaining recognizable to many outside of them.
    • The Half-Life series sat comfortably at Stage 4 from the original through to the second episode of Half-Life 2, and arguably hasn't strayed far below that since (due in part to the infamy of its seemingly endlessly delayed next installment). 2019-2020 saw a resurgence of interest thanks to the surprise announcement and release of Half-Life: Alyx and the unexpected popularity of the machinima HLVRAI.
    • Half-Life's spinoff series Portal maintains similar popularity without the benefit of having (high-profile) recent entries and arguably reached Stage 5 at its peak, getting referenced regularly in other media.
    • Team Fortress 1 (alternatively, Team Fortress Classic) currently sits between Stage 1 and a low Stage 2. Its sequel Team Fortress 2 fluctuates between Stages 3 and 4, thanks to consistently high player counts in spite of a current lack of support. Its lasting online presence through memes and machinima arguably brings it to Stage 5.
    • The Left 4 Dead series sits at a Stage 3/low Stage 4, remaining less iconic than the above titles but no less beloved by its own fanbase. It also had a minor resurgence in 2020 due to the release of the update "The Last Stand" and the publicity surrounding its spiritual successor Back 4 Blood.
    • Counter-Strike, especially Global Offensive, sits firmly at Stage 4 with the highest average player counts of any Valve title.
    • Depending on who you ask, Dota 2 could be anywhere from Stage 2 to 4. It receives the most support, merchandise and spinoff material from Valve currently and its average playerbase is the second largest of any of their games. However, the Dota fandom is mostly self-contained and the game is rarely talked about amongst general Valve fans (outside of accusations of preferential treatment).
    • Artifact, in stark contrast to the above games, was never even able to exceed Stage 0b, since its nature as a paid card game and the fact that it came in the absence of a proper new installment for any of the above series (or even a new IP altogether) turned off most potential players. It slipped directly to a 6c mere weeks after release, and attempts to rework the game have since been abandoned.
  • 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 recent, 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.
  • The Yakuza games remained somewhere between stages 1 and 2 for most of its history outside of Japan. The release of Yakuza 0 brought the series a lot of attention, due to it being seen as one of the best games of 2017, a year already filled to the brim with other critically-acclaimed video games, not to mention that it, being a prequel, was the perfect place to start the series, which now sits at stage 4.
  • Yandere Simulator started off in stage 2, then quickly went to somewhere between stage 3 and stage 4 after the Colbert Bump given to it by Let's Players such as Markiplier. In the wake of the game's notoriously slow and Troubled Production alongside the controversies surrounding its creator however, it is now currently at stage 6a, veering dangerously close towards 6c.
  • Yume Nikki is at Stage 2, being a Cult Classic of sorts, though it might be on the high end of the stage due to a few characters' presence on the Internet and resurgence in the late 2010s and early 2020s.
  • Zero Escape is an average Stage 2.

    Web Animation 
  • 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".
  • Happy Tree Friends stayed at Stage 4 for the majority of its run, due to its Subverted Kids' Show nature, as well as the over-the-top ways how the characters die every episode. With the show's on-again-off-again hiatus, as well as the underperformance of the "Still Alive" packagenote  on top of the show’s quiet cancellation, the fandom went to Stage 6b, only being still alive (no pun intended) due to fan content and the infamy of the "YouTube Copyright School" video that was still being used by YouTube to teach copyright strikees how to avoid any more copyright strikes as late as the mid-2010s, long after Happy Tree Friends saw it's relevance pass. However, the fandom is quickly going to Stage X because of reaction/retrospective videos on YouTube and two fanmade Flippy mods for Friday Night Funkin'.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Songs of War is a Stage 2, having a small but devoted fanbase who churn out discussion and fanart regularly. However, the devotion has died down ever since the show's cancellation, with some fans turning to Black Plasma Studios' other still-ongoing projects, but for the most part it's still very well-liked among their fans and the general Minecraft community.
  • 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.

    Webcomics 
  • Endtown: Appears to have managed the remarkable feat of jumping straight from Stage 3 to some variation on Stage 6.
  • Homestuck during its lifespan has oscillated between Stage 4 and Stage 5, becoming one of the most well-known web comics in history and even managed to mantain its popularity during heavy periods of hiatus thanks to the passionate fanbase, but is currently firmly in Stage 6: the conclusion of the comic and rather dissapointing and/or controversial side projects like Hive Swap, The Homestuck Epilogues and Homestuck^2 led to a severe decline in popularity, failing to recapture the interest of most veteran fans or cause a new boom. Whether this is a case of a prolonged cooldown or outright oblivion will have to be seen.
  • The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: Has always stuck around at Stage 2, despite being a prominent image source on this wiki.
  • Penny Arcade, at it's peak in popularity, was somewhere between stages 4 and 5, being one of the most well-known web comics around, having a passionate fanbase and being influential among web comic artists. It's popularity was to the point that authors Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik were included in the 2010 edition of the Time 100 list. However, it is currently in stage 6a — while Holkins and Krahulik remain in the spotlight thanks to the huge popularity of the PAX events and their Child's Play charity, the web comic itself hasn't been as popular as it used to be, but still maintains a cult following.
  • 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.

    Websites 
  • DeviantArt: Stage 5. While many people have left because of a widely-hated layout change called "Eclipse," and people are still leaving, it still remains the largest, most popular website for artists. This is partly because many feel there is not a lot of good alternatives for them to go to, though some like or are neutral to the changes. In 2011, it was the thirteenth largest social network, and in 2017, the site had more than 25 million registered members. This number has rose to over 61 million registered members.
  • 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.
  • Newgrounds slowly grew to stage 4 at its peak due to the website being one of the main outlets for people to share their Flash creations alongside websites like DeviantArt. However, due to the rise of YouTube among other video sharing platforms in the mid 2000s, along with the impending discontinuation of Adobe's Flash player in 2020, it went to 6a. With the release of Friday Night Funkin', its popularity went to Stage X, with many people discovering the site for the first time and renewing interest in Newgrounds as a whole.
  • YouTube is a solid Stage 5, having become mainstream enough for people to claim that it's killing television.
  • YTMND is currently in Stage 6b.
  • 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.

    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.
  • Nyan Cat was at Stage 3 during its heyday, but is now at Stage 6c.
  • 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.
  • lonelygirl15: Stage 3 in the late 2000s/early 2010s, now at Stage 6b.
  • Marble Hornets was at stage 4 during its run from 2009-2014, spawning a large fanbase and surge in The Slender Man Mythos content. It currently is at stage 6a.

    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 being Screwed by the Network and newer cartoons like Steven Universe overshadowing it. However, the series fanbase went to a Stage X a few years later.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender got to either Stage 4 or 5 during its run, with enough popularity to get a sequel series. It got to Stage X (and got even more popular than it had already been) after it was added to Netflix.
  • Whatever stage The Brothers Flub achieved during its run, it's definitely cooled down to Stage 6(c) now. There's barely much of a fanbase for the show, with only a very small handful of people dedicated to preserving its memory, and nowadays The Brothers Flub is considered one of the most obscure cartoons to have aired on Nickelodeon.
  • 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.
  • Unlike other cartoons created by Angela C. Santomero, it appears that Creative Galaxy is at around Stage 1 or 2, because it doesn't have a huge fanbase nor hatebase and it isn't talked about a lot compared to other Canadian preschool cartoons from the 2010s.
  • 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 of Today 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.
  • Similar to the Creative Galaxy example above, Mighty Express neither has a large fanbase nor hatebase and it isn't brought up as a topic a lot compared to PAW Patrol, so it is at around stage 1 or 2.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: When it first started airing in the states, it lied 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 had not 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). When it moved to Netflix, it got a lot more popular and therefore, making it almost as popular as the two aforementioned shows.
  • 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 2012-2015 was undeniably the "golden age", with 2015 being 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.
    • Stage X: While the Gen 4 fandom is still doing quite well, the Generation 5 movie My Little Pony: A New Generation debuted in 2021, bringing with it new life for the fandom and a large swath of new fans (and the return of old ones), ready to dive into the new characters and the new world.
  • 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. However, by the time the show ended and the creators moved on to Milo Murphy's Law, it settled down into Stage 6a. By Candace Against the Universe however, it went to Stage X, thanks to a Newbie Boom that came via social media platforms and Disney+.
  • 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.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle peaked at Stage 5 during the 1960s, becoming one of the most popular television shows of the time and influencing many animated series of the time. It eventually cooled down to Stage 6a, but is arguable still closer to Stage 3 than 2 thanks to its impact remaining.
  • 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 at its height. Seasons 3 - 8 are wildly remembered as an iconic centerpiece of the '90s, and is one of the most influential animated shows ever made. Few shows could have a high-earning movie 18 years after its start. Later seasons saw large fluctuations in quality that saw the series gradually cool to 6a over time, despite having never really left the air.
  • 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 aired 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: Was at Stage 4 during its run on Playhouse Disney in the late 1990s and early 2000s; nowadays, it's at Stage 6a.
  • 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 due to its format as a limited series and smaller exposure compared to its contemporaries.
  • 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 4, then imploded into Stage 6b, if not 6c, after the poorly-received finale, with its fandom now being an extension of that of the original 1980s series.
  • 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.
  • The Wacky Adventures Of Ronald Mc Donald was originally at Stage 3. Each video was only available for a limited time at McDonald's, but was offered to customers who purchased a Happy Meal or an ice cream cone, depending on the location. Because of this, the videos quickly sold out. Now the series is at Stage 6a, as videos 4-6 were barely advertised and sold poorly. The sixth and final video, "The Monster O' McDonaldland Loch", only being available on Klasky-Csupo's website in limited quantities and becoming lost media didn't help.
  • Pig Goat Banana Cricket is stuck at Stage 6c, due to being highly criticized for its ugly art style, gross-out humor, and Nickelodeon screwing it over during its run.
  • Ready Jet Go! seems to be perpetually stuck at Stage 2. It does have a fandom, but it's scattered and not organized, and thus the series is considered an underrated Cult Classic. However, there are attempts by fans, mostly on Twitter, to get the show to Stage 3.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil peaked around Stage 4 with the premiere of "The Battle for Mewni." After the lackluster third and fourth seasons, the fandom seems to have gone to Stage 6b, if not 6c.
  • Steven Universe was at Stage 4 throughout its five-year run, even spawning an epilogue series called Steven Universe Future afterwards.
  • The Wild Thornberrys was at Stage 3 during its run. Now it's at Stage 6a.
  • Betty Boop is one of the best examples of Mainstream Obscurity in Western Animation. Average people might know who she is, having seen her on merchandise, and she’s still the best-remembered example of the Inkblot Cartoon Style, aside from early Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat. But unless someone is an animation buff, very few people have watched an actual Betty Boop short, especially if it’s not one of the public domain ones. She may still be more recognizable than Popeye, but in any case, she would be a 6a, having slipped to Stage 2.
  • The Ducktales reboot series was at a Stage 3 for most of its run until the Grand Finale, where it went down to Stage 6a. In the process, it allowed the fandoms of all the Disney Afternoon shows it referenced to reach Stage X, like Adventures of the Gummi Bears, TaleSpin and especially Darkwing Duck.
  • PAW Patrol quickly hit stage 4 within it's first few seasons. Then once the merchandise became abundant, and it became a popular reference on social media and late night television, the show had reached stage 5. And with a theatrical movie under it's belt, there's no sign of slowing down.
  • Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go has a large hatedom due to its vastly different tone and many inaccuracies, but it does have its fans, putting its fanbase level at stage 2 or 3.
  • Doc McStuffins is stage 4 or 5. The fact that Disney still considers it marketable enough to have toys in major retailers as of 2022, despite the last original episode having aired in 2020 speaks volumes. The Childen's Museum of Indiana even hosted an entire exhibit about the series. The series picked up a large Periphery Demographic right from the beginning and is well embedded in the public mind.

    Other 
  • The BattleTech franchise, including the tabletop game, various video games, and novels, is at stage 2.
  • The Golden Ticket is at Stage 2.
  • The Mandela effect. Peaked at Stage 4 during 2016-2017, then became stuck at Stage 6c. (but still warranted a trope here)
  • The Rock-afire Explosion is currently peaking at Stage 2, whilst Chuck E. Cheese is on the border between Stages 4 and 5 (until CEC went From Bad to Worse).
  • Cats was Stage 5 during the 80s and 90s, but then the backlash kicked in and after the Broadway run closed in 2000 there was a progression to 6a. The 2010s had some sort of Stage X, with a return to Broadway and the movie adaptation (no matter how negatively the latter was received).
  • Pinball has had an incredibly long Stage 6a period. As a readily available and inexpensive source of entertainment, pinball machines enjoyed a Stage 5 status for decades through the 20th century in North America, South America, Europe, and Australia. However, video games started to eat away at their player base in the arcades around The '80s, and they fell back to somewhere between Stage 2 or 3, perhaps a Stage 2.5: get-togethers with other pinball fans online exist at places like Tilt Forums, Pinside, and Pinball News, as well as large scale tournaments with hundreds of participants, and the creators and manufacturers have a close relationship with the fans, yet no real Hatedom exists for it. However, due to the very quiet nature of this fandom, and the equally quiet nature of the industry, outsiders don't hear about them much, most people nowadays unaware that there are still several new pinball machine releases every year.
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