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Genre Popularizer

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"Super Mario Bros. is equivalent to the Big Bang of our gaming universe. If it were not for this blindingly spectacular creation, digital entertainment as we know it today would not exist."

Basically, before these works came along, a genre either didn't exist, or was niche. After these works hit the scene, either the genre became popular (usually by being a Gateway Series to the rest), or we got loads of ripoffs which may or may not have gone From Clones to Genre later on.


Heck, these works might instead create a Genre Relaunch of a once popular genre (whether or not the popularity lasts).

Being a Genre Popularizer is not proof that a work is awesome. Some might think these works are overrated, and if Nostalgia Goggles or Quality by Popular Vote are in play, they may even be right. Being an example of this only speaks to the response it gets in Follow the Leader works, not to its quality.

Please Note: while some Genre Popularizers are also Trope Makers or Codifiers, not all Trope Makers and Codifiers are Genre Popularizers. Keep this in mind when adding examples—just because it was the first to use a trope doesn't mean it made the trope popular.

Compare Trope Makers, Trope Codifier, Genre Turning Point.

Contrast Genre-Killer.



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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 


  • William Gibson launched the Cyberpunk genre with the novel Neuromancer. It is now a staple of film, games, and odd urban fashions.
  • William Gibson and Bruce Sterling co-authored The Difference Engine, which launched the Steampunk genre.
  • The Riddle of the Sands is this for Spy Fiction.
  • Amazing Stories, the first English-language Science Fiction Pulp Magazine, created and popularized the genre. (The slightly earlier American pulp Weird Tales published general fantastic fiction: Science Fiction, ghost stories, horror fiction, et cetera.)
  • Edgar Allan Poe wrote the first English-language detective stories. Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes) once said "Each [of Poe's detective stories] is a root from which a whole literature has developed.... Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?" Although Poe's detective uses several early forensic techniques, this aspect of the genre didn't fully kick off until...
    • The Sherlock Holmes series popularised the idea of the cerebral, aloof detective examining clues and forensic evidence in order to solve the mystery. The stories helped introduce the public to this new idea of studying clues and information to solve crimes rather than just asking people what they saw and shaking up suspects until a confession fell out. This was true not just in mystery stories, but in real life: the Metropolitan Police, frequently dismissed up until that point as an inept and corrupt force, began to improve in success rates and public reputation upon taking some cues from these stories.
    • Dashiell Hammett created and popularized the subgenre of "hard-boiled" detective fiction. While he didn't create the genre on his own, Hammett's works were among the first to be picked up by the public at large. Many of that genre's tropes originated or were made popular in his works, and later authors of hard-boiled fiction (notably Raymond Chandler, author of the Philip Marlowe novels) cite Hammett as the forefather of the genre.
  • The True Crime genre was created and popularized by Truman Capote in his harrowing magnum opus, In Cold Blood. The true story of a vicious and senseless series of murders kicked off an interest in "real murder mysteries," and the genre remains startlingly popular today.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien is responsible for popularizing the High Fantasy genre. Despite James Branch Cabell, E. R. Eddison, and Poul Anderson coming first, Tolkien was the gold that got cloned, and even he borrowed heavily from mythology.
  • Like Tolkien, Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian stories effectively created many of the now-popular Heroic Fantasy tropes. Interestingly, it did this in large part by subverting many pulp fantasy tropes popular at the time.
  • The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells took an existing genre speculating about foreign armies invading the United Kingdom and gave it a twist by casting as the invaders a race of highly intelligent alien beings invading Earth from another planet. This idea of an Alien Invasion proved somewhat influential.
  • The success of the Raffles and Arsène Lupin stories in the 1890s and 1900s popularized the Gentleman Thief character and heist stories; The Lupin stories are also considered the Trope Codifier.
    • Similarly, H.G. Wells' novel about a man who built a machine capable of travelling through time got people interested as well. The idea of Time Travel itself wasn't new; the idea of someone actually using technology to build a means of travelling forwards and backwards in time was, though.
    • E. E. “Doc” Smith, and the Lensman series, created Space Opera as we understand it. It is scary how much modern sci-fi writers in some cases outright stole from him, or copied without even knowing they had. To put it into perspective, reading the Lensman novels seems horribly cliche now, because every Sci-Fi trope associated with space operas came out of it ranging from inertialess drives, to Dyson Sphere megastructures, to the very idea of the "Neglectful Ancient Master Race" seen in...well every sci-fi series made since. In fact it is generally accepted that the Green Lantern Corps is the Lensman Corps, top to bottom. They even have a member named Arisia, after the planet where the Lensmen went (their Oa) to undergo training to use their Cosmic Lenses (GL rings).
  • H. P. Lovecraft popularized the Cosmic Horror Story, although "The Call of Cthulhu", At the Mountains of Madness and "The Whisperer in Darkness" stand out.
  • Tom Clancy effectively popularized the "military technothriller" genre, which is generally considered to have started with the Craig Thomas novel Firefox, written seven years before The Hunt for Red October.
  • H. Rider Haggard effectively created the "Lost World" genre of adventure fiction with his 1885 novel King Solomon's Mines. Since then, the genre has proven enormously popular.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Gene Autry: His work gave Country Music nationwide attention.
  • Bing Crosby created and popularized the 'crooning' style of singing. It helped that he emerged right when microphone technology was coming into its own. Thus, Bing set the standard for decades of singers to follow.
  • Chuck Berry and Rock & Roll music.
    "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'." ~John Lennon
  • Elvis Presley smuggled Rock & Roll and other styles of African-American music over the race barrier and into the mainstream.
  • Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys created a distinctive sound that was picked up by other groups and became a genre, bluegrass.
  • The Beatles may not have been the first to do pop-rock and Folk Rock, but they certainly jump-started the genre. They could also arguably be considered this for Psychedelic Rock, album-based rock, and Punk with songs like "Helter Skelter." Plus, they created the trend for a self-contained band, with the artists playing their own instruments and writing all of their own music.
  • Despite groups like Led Zeppelin and Iron Butterfly laying the groundwork for it a few years prior, Black Sabbath is usually credited as the band that established the genre of Heavy Metal as we know it.
  • Nirvana was the band who made the Grunge movement move up to full speed.
  • The Rolling Stones did it for Blues Rock in the 1960s. You could even make an argument that they invented and popularized Hard Rock, though AC/DC, who emerged in the 70s, is also a worthy candidate there.
  • The Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa popularized Alternative Rock.
  • Suede's self-titled debut album may or may not have been the first Britpop record, but it was the first popular Britpop record and thus codified and fostered the genre. Ironically, the band think little of Britpop and have since tried to distance themselves from it.
  • While quite a few other bands and albums had come before it, King Crimson's debut In the Court of the Crimson King was arguably the first full Progressive Rock album (rather than the more psychedelic sound that had come with the earlier bands), and laid the foundations for the genre.
  • Although the Post-Rock genre was codified in Slint's Spiderland, the genre as we recognize it wouldn't become popular per se until Sigur Rós and Godspeed You! Black Emperor arrived on the scene.
  • British grindcore band Napalm Death (whose drummer actually coined the term "grindcore", along with the term "blastbeat", a drumbeat regularly used in the genre and beyond) are often heavily credited for their importance in the development of grindcore.
  • Norwegian band Mayhem, and specifically their original guitarist Euronymous, are usually said to have created Black Metal as we now know it.
  • The success of Korn in the 1990s definitely kickstarted the rise of Nu Metal.
  • Rammstein are usually considered the codifiers and/or popularizers of Neue Deutsche Härte (New German Hardness), which can best be described as a fusion genre of Industrial Metal and Trance (the band describes their music as "dance metal"). The Ur-Example would be s Oomph!, who formed five years before Rammstein.
  • Joseph Haydn almost singlehandedly developed and popularized the sonata form and was the first big composer of the First Viennese School.
  • Similarly, Arnold Schoenberg was the godfather of the Second Viennese School.
  • Claude Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" is said to be the work that truly began musical Impressionism.
  • Ice-T did this for Gangsta Rap.
  • Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five helped to properly launch Political Rap. Before them were 1970s political preachers such as The Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron.
  • Jokingly, a-ha launched the new genre of 'Pof' during an interview in which the German interviewer badly flubbed the words 'synthetic pop of the eighties'. Moments later it became New Pof, much to Magne's surprise and delight.
  • The Pogues blended Irish traditional music and punk as what became the first example of Celtic punk, a style taken up by Irish and Scottish inspired bands in both Britain and North America.
  • British band Skyclad began adding folk elements to their otherwise rather ordinary Thrash Metal, creating Folk Metal in the process.
  • Norwegian black metallers Bathory switched out the over-used Satanic lyrical content of their compatriots for Norse Mythology and history, creating and popularizing the thematic genre viking metal.
  • British rockers Motörhead are widely recognised as one of the first bands to blend punk and heavy metal, creating what later became known as "Speed Metal", the forerunner of Thrash Metal. Frontman Lemmy Kilmister characteristically dismisses such labels, declaring that "it's all just rock and roll".
  • The Ramones unintentionally created and popularized the Pop Punk genre.
  • Burzum pioneered atmospheric/ambient Black Metal, although some have pointed out that a few scattered ambient black metal projects existed before Burzum, thus making him a codifier/popularizer rather than a creator.
  • Deathcore was initially popularized by All Shall Perish, Job for a Cowboy, and Despised Icon, then received a bigger mainstream boost from Suicide Silence and Whitechapel.
  • Ray Charles is generally considered to have launched Soul; the question is whether he did it with "I Got a Woman" or "What'd I Say."
  • Christian Rock is arguably more of a scene than a genre, but in either case, Larry Norman's 1969 album Upon This Rock was the launching point.
  • Country Pop, although existing from the late 1950s, really took off in the late 1970s with Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton topping both country and pop charts at the same time.
  • There had been a smattering of Reggae songs that became hits in the UK and US in the late 60s and early 70s, but Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley were the ones who really brought it out of Jamaica to a worldwide audience.
  • Limp Bizkit, who were discovered by Korn, both made Rap Metal mainstream, and then killed it years later.
  • Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, Trivium, Atreyu, and As I Lay Dying popularized Metalcore (specifically the melodic kind) after Nu Metal died out. Years later, Issues popularized fusing metalcore with nu metal together with their debut EP to create what is referred to by fans as "nu-metalcore".
  • Dream Theater is generally considered to have helped define the Progressive Metal genre, combining the speed and heaviness of Thrash Metal with the variety and musical complexity of Progressive Rock.
  • Klaus Schulze's album Trancefer is often regarded as the album that really put Trance on the map among electronic music fans. As of the 2000s-2010s, however, Armin Van Buuren and his long-running radio show A State Of Trance are cited as the driving forces in bringing trance music into mainstream acceptance, ultimately inspiring several other trance-centered broadcasts such as Aly & Fila's Future Sound of Egypt and Ferry Corsten's Countdown.

  • While "pin games" existed before Baffle Ball, it was David Gottlieb's game that propelled the genre from a minor amusement novelty into a fundamental aspect of Americana. Baffle Ball's success came from a combination of challenge and affordability during The Great Depression; a Baffle Ball machine cost $17.50 to buy and cost only a penny to play, while competitors' machines cost over $100 and required a nickel to play. To put its popularity into perspective, Gottlieb's factory could produce 400 Baffle Ball machines a day - but he had 75,000 orders to fill. The game's influence is so deep that many people misidentify Baffle Ball as the first Pinball ever made.
  • Before Humpty Dumpty came along, the only action a player could perform in a pinball game was to launch the ball and (gently) nudge the machine. Humpty Dumpty's novelty came from its six red "flipper bumpers," which allowed the player to kick the ball back up the field. This innovation instantly made flipperless games obsolete — competitors rushed flipper add-on kits for existing machines, and flippers became an industry standard just six months later.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Spitting Image launched political puppet shows in numerous different countries, many of which are well-received amongst the audience.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Space Invaders by Taito is the Trope Maker that launched the shmup genre, with its vertical view still used in modern shoot 'em ups. In addition to popularizing the shooter and Action Game genres, Space Invaders popularized the video game industry as a whole.
  • Pac-Man by Bandai Namco defined and popularized the Maze Game genre.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Nintendo popularized the D-pad with the Game & Watch and Nintendo Entertainment System.
    • Nintendo also popularized analog control with the Nintendo 64.
    • Nintendo has stated they also wanted this to happen with the Wii controller's motion sensing. This is likely why they didn't raise a fuss when Sony introduced their similar motion controllers.
  • Pole Position by Namco defined and popularized the Racing Game genre.
  • The Portopia Serial Murder Case by Yuji Horii defined and popularized the Visual Novel style of Adventure Game.
  • King's Quest popularized the graphic Adventure Game genre.
  • The Legend of Zelda popularized the Action-Adventure and Action RPG genres (despite not being a true action RPG) as well as the Wide Open Sandbox style.
  • Fighting games have existed since before the Atari, dating as far back as Sega's Heavyweight Champ in 1976, but it was Street Fighter II that finally got it right in 1991 and launched them as a genre.
  • Doom launched the First-Person Shooter genre, to the point that other games in the genre were simply called "Doom-clones" or "Doom-likes" until more innovative games needed a more neutral name to be coined. However, its predecessor Wolfenstein 3D was the first really successful example of the genre. Goldeneye 007 and Halo: Combat Evolved also serve as popularizers, due to being the aforementioned innovative games that were able to shed the FPS genre of its "Doom-clone" reputation.
  • Worms was certainly not the first artillery oriented game, but it is both the most well known and generally best designed of the bunch.
  • Any game that has Mons and a collecting mechanic will be considered a Pokémon ripoff, even if Pokémon wasn't the first game to do so.
  • The smash-hit ASCII game Rogue from 1980 popularized the concept of randomly generated dungeons, and spawned enough spinoffs and ripoffs to boggle the mind. Even today, games of this genre are referred to as "Roguelikes".
  • Spelunky is often credited to be the first game to popularize the "rogue-lite" genre, especially among the indie game scene.
  • The Elder Scrolls for Wide Open Sandbox Western RPGs. Starting with Arena way back in 1994, TES was one of the few series to survive the genre crash in the late 90s. A massive Newbie Boom came along with Morrowind in 2002, being both a critical hit and being the first game in the series to receive a Multi-Platform release on console as well as PC, getting it into the hands of a wider audience. The series' popularity would only increase with the the subsequent releases of Oblivion and Skyrim, cementing its genre as a bastion of western gaming.
  • beatmania may not be the first Rhythm Game, but it set the standard that many rhythm games would soon follow—games such as Dance Dance Revolution, DJ MAX, Guitar Hero, among others. Guitar Hero in turn brought instrument-based rhythm games to the western market.
  • Back in 1992, Strategy Games were nearly all turn-based. Then Dune II came along, though admittedly there were a few earlier Real-Time Strategy games, most importantly Herzog Zwei. Nevertheless, it was Dune II that spawned imitators and launched the RTS genre. Which is debatable, as one could see Dune II being to the first Command & Conquer what Wolfenstein 3D was to Doom.
  • Tomb Raider was the game that kicked off the 3D Action-Adventure genre.
  • Tetris pioneered Falling Blocks puzzle games. And, as mentioned above, the "simple puzzle" genre.
  • Dragon Quest took cues from Wizardry and Ultima but specifically simplified those games for a wider audience. The result defined the JRPG genre, and created most of the major tropes used therein.
  • Ultima Online was thought of as a graphical Multi-User Dungeon. Now we refer to it as a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG. Of course, the genre reached new heights of popularity (and another, even larger wave of imitators) after being popularized by Everquest and World of Warcraft.
  • What started as a popular Custom Map genre for StarCraft and Warcraft has become the Tower Defense genre.
  • Similarly, Defense of the Ancients paved the way for the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (or MOBA) genre.
  • Double Dragon set the basics for the Beat 'em Up genre, but it's Final Fight that caused games of this type to flood the market. And Double Dragon was the technical and spiritual successor to Renegade, made by the same company, and whaddaya know, it's the predecessor to River City Ransom. Granted, Renegade wasn't actually good, but it still counts.
  • Devil May Cry began the "spectacle fighter" genre, with such other entries as God of War, Viewtiful Joe, God Hand, MadWorld, and Bayonetta. Some reviewers have even questioned the labelling of God of War as a spectacle fighter (due to its focus on story and atmosphere, the adventure gameplay and the noted lack of any "score" beyond the amount of orbs), and started calling it part of its own genre, joined by Dante's Inferno, Heavenly Sword, Darksiders, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Conan. Current name for said genre? "Being God of War". This has led to a degree of hostility between fans of the two archetypal series. It's slowly died down, however, with the latest God of War game utilizing more Souls-like approach to its gameplay, allowing games like Bayonetta 2, Devil May Cry 5, and Astral Chain to refine the genre and remind people that more can be done with it than just copying God of War's formula.
  • Grand Theft Auto III for Wide Open Sandbox games. Often with Villain Protagonists or at least the option to play like one.
  • While it was not the first computer role-playing game, Wizardry was one of the most influential titles of the golden age and the direct ancestor of the Eastern RPG.
    • A year before Wizardry, Epyx released Temple of Apshai, a more direct attempt to digitize a tabletop RPG. Though it lacked Wizardry's immersive atmosphere, it was highly praised for translating the tabletop Dungeons & Dragons experience to a personal computer; the Apshai series was popular enough to outsell both Ultima and Wizardry.
    • Rogue also came out a year earlier, but it spawned its own genre which had very little influence on mainstream RPGs until Diablo and Arena.
  • Even though Sweet Home and, to a greater extent, Alone in the Dark, were the first to use the classic gameplay model, it was Resident Evil that launched the Survival Horror genre and gave it a name. Similarly System Shock for the... uh... "other Survival Horror genre".
  • Flight Control for the iPhone could be said to have launched the "path tracing" genre of game, which is uniquely suited to the device's touchscreen interface.
  • Myst is often credited with popularizing the trend of adventure games set in a Beautiful Void. An earlier Cyan game, The Manhole, introduced us to Pop Up Video Games.
  • The Metal Gear series defined and popularized the Stealth-Based Game genre for years to come.
  • Those casual Time Management Games you see everywhere on the Internet nowadays? You have Diner Dash to thank or hate for that.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time started the whole "parkour platformer" sub-genre that includes Assassin's Creed and Uncharted. And before that, the original started the Cinematic Platform Game sub-genre.
  • Twenty years before EVE Online, Elite on the BBC Micro paved the way for all 3D space simulators, and particularly space trading and open sandbox games. And before Elite, Star Raiders on the Atari 800 took the basic Trek-style top-down gameplay from the mainframe era and created the 3D space sim.
    • Fantasy Zone and Twinbee were the first Cute'em up.
    • Although Bullet Hell shooters have been around since the early 90's—Batsugun (1993) is one of the first such games and Recca (1992) is responsible for the subgenre's origins as well—there are a few games that are commonly seen as making the genre big:
      • DoDonPachi (1996) set the standard for not only CAVE's later titles, but also for the entire genre, and is credited with making bullet hell shooters more visible in arcades.
      • The first three Touhou games on Windows (Touhou Koumakyou: Embodiment of Scarlet Devil (2002), Touhou Youyoumu: Perfect Cherry Blossom (2003), and Touhou Eiyashou: Imperishable Night (2004)) are known for having humanoid characters rather than military machines, bullet patterns that fit the themes of the boss characters, boss attacks that are named, and indirectly being the cause of a massive universe of fan works and memes, not only further widening the popularity of the genre (especially in the West where less people are less likely to have heard of CAVE, 8ing/Raizing, or the like) but also setting some standards of its own, with many modern Bullet Hell games employing some of these iconic elements.
  • Going back to the earliest days of any video game, Colossal Cave (also known as Colossal Cave Adventure, Adventure, or simply ADVENT) was the first Adventure Game, leading into both Interactive Fiction and Point-and-Click adventure games, as well as sparking the whole Dungeon Crawling genre. One could even argue that ADVENT was the first computer game ever to be more than just a puzzle or sports game—while it's pretty light on story, the wide variety of environments, objects, and NPCs, even if they were just described in text, was far beyond anything else at the time.
  • Minecraft is very much like Doom in that, while it was not the first sandbox cube building game, it was the first to make it big and inspire numerous clones and 'clones'.
  • While the first person dungeon crawler was a rather popular genre at its peak, Etrian Odyssey has caused a new wave of such games to appear, making it a Genre Repopularizer.
  • Kaizo Mario World and I Wanna Be the Guy did this for Platform Hell. Sure, it existed before in the form of a SMB 1 hack and a Japanese flash game, but once those two came around, the flood gates opened and clones were springing up all over the place. There's a reason I Wanna Be the Guy has a fan game section, or that Kaizo has become a generic term for any ultra difficult Super Mario World hack...
  • The runaway success of the Super Smash Bros. series inspired a number of other developers to make Platform Fighter games, which distinguished themselves from other fighting games by allowing more than two players at a time, platformer-like stages and jump physics, a score- or lives-based goal, randomly-dropped items, and usually (but not always) a Massive Multiplayer Crossover with the library of a given game company.
  • An interesting case with Metroidvanias. The Metroid games were always popular and successful, but it was Castlevania: Symphony of the Night that popularized the genre. Fans recognized that the elements came in Metroid first, and thus the term Metroidvania was born.
  • The Pokémon games sparked off the collection RPG trend, which can extend beyond Mons and into almost any game where there are tons of party members to collect. However, Dragon Quest V (which predated both by several years) had almost no human party members for a good chunk of the game. To round out the player's party, the player would tame monsters it fought in the wild, convert them to his party, and subsequently use them to fight other monsters. While not officially released outside of Japan until well after the mon trend was established, this was the third RPG-style video game to feature such a gameplay mechanic, and likely paved the way.
  • Diablo2 wasn't the first, even in its own series, but is one of the most popular "Action RPGs" ever made (one of the most popular games full stop for that matter) and is the game still copied by the genre today. As with Doom, the genre was even referred to as "Diablo clones" before its popularity and evolution ended up giving us the more neutral name.
  • While 3D fighting games like Virtua Fighter have been around since the days of the Sega Genesis, Tekken is what helped establish this subgenre as a worthy alternative to 2D fighting games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and The King of Fighters, with titles like Dead or Alive and SoulCalibur following in its wake.
  • Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night both popularized the Metroidvania genre so much that it was named after both franchises.
  • While the JRPG genre has been popular in Japan since Dragon Quest first began, it was at first very niche amongst western audiences at first. Enter Final Fantasy VII from Square Enix, which became a massive success and catapulted the genre into mainstream popularity outside of Japan. Nowadays, franchises like Bandai Namco's Tales of..., Atlus' Persona, Nintendo's Fire Emblem, Monolith Soft and Nintendo's Xenoblade, Capcom's Monster Hunter, and even Square Enix's own Kingdom Hearts and Dragon Quest have been able to reach levels of popularity that wouldn't have been possible without Final Fantasy VII.
  • In Japan, Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side popularized the Otome Game genre, while in the west Hakuouki was the first to achieve success with the gaming public and paved the way for more otome localizations.

    Web Original 

  • Neglected Mario Characters was the original Sprite Comic, and spawned a swarm of imitators. Bob and George, however, is usually thought of as the father of sprite comics, with thousands of imitation comics coming out (and often promptly dying) in its forums.
  • Penny Arcade: started a thousand couches.
  • Kevin & Kell was the first webcomic to manage a consistent, reliable daily schedule. The cartoonist, Bill Holbrook, had not one but two daily comics in newspaper syndication when he started K&K, and brought the same degree of professionalism and discipline to the new distribution medium.
  • Homestuck and MS Paint Adventures have spawned hundreds of imitators not just of the Interactive Comic genre, but of the Text Parser presentation style of MSPA itself; some of these are followed by hundreds of people and come close to matching MSPA's legendary update rate.

    Western Animation 


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