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Genre Turning Point

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"I thought that the business, the industry, the presentation needed to change in the same way that music had changed, because music was all about Poison and Mötley Crüe and Winger and all these hair bands, and then along came Nirvana, and BAM! The whole industry changed. So in the same way, I thought wrestling needed to change, in that wrestling had become the equivalent of hair bands, and we needed wrestling's version of Nirvana to come along and just shake everything up."
Paul Heyman, The Rise and Fall of ECW

While a Wham Episode can change a single series forever... sometimes, something comes out that permanently alters an entire genre. It wasn't the first entry into the genre, nor was it the last, but things were never the same after it came out. This often — but far from exclusively — happens with particularly notable Deconstructions; once one story has pointed how a certain genre will play out in reality this can cause a ripple effect across other stories in the genre. However, it doesn't always have to be a Deconstruction. Some shows can radically redefine a genre without taking it apart. Reconstructions can have the same effect; incorporating realistic elements into the old-school storytelling can make the genre look new again.

Usually seen as a good thing, although there are genre fans who will feel negatively about it.


Compare Wham Episode, Genre-Killer, From Clones to Genre, Genre Relaunch, Follow the Leader. Good chance of being a Trope Maker or Trope Codifier.

Not to confuse with Genre Shift, where the work itself shifts its genre at the middle.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Harem Genre was invented by Urusei Yatsura, but was re-invented by Tenchi Muyo!, which refined and popularized the "harem anime" formula (ordinary guy lives with a bunch of attractive, quirky girls). In addition to the episodic plots it had longer story arcs and a protagonist one would want to root for instead of smack. Six years later, Love Hina further tweaked the formula by dropping the action/fantasy elements of Tenchi in favor of a straight-up romantic comedy, making The Protagonist more of a sadsack, upping the wacky hijinks and setting new rules for the genre: namely, an Unlucky Everydude male protagonist who lives with a bunch of girls (the Tsundere, the Hard-Drinking Party Girl, the Ojou with the Hime Cut, the Shrinking Violet and the Exotic Foreign Girl) who all fall in love with him simply because he's a nice and sensitive guy, with the gaps in the plot smoothed over with dollops of fanservice. Almost every harem series since has followed its lead. Haters of this cannot forgive Ken Akamatsu.
  • It was NOT okay for men to cry in anime before Fist of the North Star. Afterwards, however, tears became a symbol of honorable masculinity tempered by a kind and gentle heart.
  • The original Mobile Suit Gundam revamped the Humongous Mecha genre, single-handedly invented most Real Robot plot devices, and, along the way, ushered the Otaku subculture into existence (though to be fair, other shows helped it in the latter).
  • And before that Mazinger Z is generally credited with changing Humongous Mecha as piloted craft as opposed to something controlled by The Kid with the Remote Control. Its near contemporary Getter Robo added the Combining Mecha to the mix.
  • Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito and Kannazuki no Miko showed that Yuri anime could be profitable; Simoun showed that it could be True Art.
  • AKIRA. Before it came out, it was distressingly common to see anime films and shows targeted toward older audiences horribly Macekred so they could fit into the Animation Age Ghetto. After it came out, people in the West finally got the idea that anime movies didn't have to be targeted towards kids at all. Ironically, Akira was released by Macek's Streamline Pictures studio.
  • The effect Neon Genesis Evangelion had on the mecha genre was similar to the effect a hammer has on an egg. It was the first giant robot show based around the concept that being a naive teenager thrown into the cockpit of a massively powerful war machine and forced to fight titanic alien invaders to save humanity would really suck. Since the release of the show, a lot of genre anime (mecha or otherwise) has been influenced by the show's themes.
    • Evangelion can even be said to have taken the trope Up to Eleven, as it can easily be pointed towards as a Turning Point for the TV Anime as a medium. Before Evangelion the vast majority of TV Anime were either manga adaptations or family oriented programs. Evangelion turning out to be a surprise breakthrough hit paved the way for several Anime First properties which were more experimental and explored significantly darker and more mature themes, such as Cowboy Bebop, The Vision of Escaflowne, and Revolutionary Girl Utena for starters.
    • Its influence in anime and animation as a whole can also be found in the main cast, while Rei Ayanami became the most notorious example of the character archetypes that Evangelion brought, there were many others as well: the archetype of the socially-awkward, snarky protagonist whose bravery is mostly limited to the battlefield can be traced back to Shinji Ikari (although Shinji himself was heavily influenced by Mobile Suit Gundam's Amuro Ray); the red-haired/themed, hotblooded and aggresive Tsundere girl with a dark past (and arguably, foreign ascent) is traceable to Asuka Langley Soryu; and finally, the mysterious, white haired character with an ambiguous attraction to the main character is the product of Kaworu Nagisa.
  • Dragon Ball. The series introduced and/or codified many Shonen tropes such as the innocent Idiot Hero with a large appetite, the Tournament Arc, etc. Its influence can be seen in many different anime and manga series to this day. Critically, Goku had the potential to learn and grow, in contrast to predecessors like Kenshiro of Fist of the North Star, who rarely learned new techniques or increased his physical abilities, instead existing in a constant state of badassery.
  • Saint Seiya was another 80s shonen series that marked a transition from the old style to the modern style, contributing much in terms of promoting the values of friendship and teamwork in a Fighting Series, in contrast to lone-wolf heroes like Kenshiro, as well as featuring a far more Shoujo-like art style, which was later seen in series like Ranma ½ and Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl.
  • The Magical Girl genre has shifted several times:
  • The development of sophisticated CGI that allowed elaborate dance sequences to be created on a TV budget led to the boom in the Idol Singer genre from the late 2000s to present. Said dance sequences can also be seen in some anime outside the genre, such as Pretty Cure.
  • As of 2018, Shonen Jump, and consequently shonen manga in general, seems to have gone through a transition as a result of Hiroyuki Nakano replacing Yoshihisa Heishi as editor-in-chief. While One Piece is still firmly on its throne as reigning king of shonen manga, the magazine is increasingly pushing series like The Promised Neverland and Dr. Stone that depart from the standard shonen battle manga formula.

  • The Ford Model T turned the automobile from a luxury toy into something everybody could afford, putting millions of Americans on the road and creating an industry thanks to Ford's innovative use of the assembly line. Ultimately, mass motorization would change cities more than the previous millennia of human culture had.
    • The Volkswagen Type 1 "Beetle" in Germany, the Fiat 500 in Italy, the Citroën 2CV in France, and the Subaru 360 in Japan did much the same in their respective countries after World War II.
  • The Porsche 356 defined what a sports car would be into the next century, with its focus on light weight and a streamlined body to produce high performance. Its mounting of the engine in the rear (a trait lifted from the Volkswagen it was based on) also turned out to have a remarkably positive effect on the car's balance and handling, and the layout would soon be imitated in the '60s and '70s by Lamborghini, Ferrari, and its more famous successor, the Porsche 911.
  • The Mini started a revolution in the use of interior space in automobiles, with its ability to seat a family of four comfortably despite its, well, minuscule size thanks to how all the parts were arranged to maximize the room in the passenger compartment, most notably with its combination of a front-wheel drive drivetrain and a transversely-mounted engine — a configuration that became the standard for passenger vehicles once fuel economy concerns forced automakers in Europe and later the US to build smaller cars, especially after Italian engineer Dante Giacosa perfected the setup on the Fiat 128. The Cooper S performance model, meanwhile, invented the "hot hatch", its performance at rally events demonstrating that subcompact cars could be fast and fun to drive, a formula that would be further refined and popularized by the Volkswagen Golf GTI in The '70s. Nearly every compact car built since The ’60s bears some of the Mini's DNA.
  • In 1964, the Ford Mustang and the Pontiac GTO started the muscle car era in the US. There had been high-performance packages for cars going back to the '40s (the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 is sometimes called the first muscle car), and all of the major Detroit automakers had been involved in racing for a while by then, but these cars helped bring performance to the masses by costing far less than a true dedicated sports car. The Mustang in particular did so at the compact end of the auto market, inventing the "pony car" that was more lightweight than the full-size muscle cars and marketed to young buyers.
  • While we could go back and forth about the accuracy of Ralph Nader's 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed for days on end, the fact still stands that the public's reaction to it forced automakers to start seriously considering the safety of their cars. In its wake, a host of new safety features, most notably seat belts, airbags, and the "Nader bolt" on car doors (to keep them from popping open in accidents), began popping up in new cars, some of them mandated by law, while chrome plating (which produced blinding glare) and "suicide doors" (so name because they made it easy to be thrown out of the car in a crash) all but vanished.
  • Jim Hall's Chaparral Cars revolutionized auto racing and vehicular aerodynamics in The ’60s. The Chaparral 2E Can-Am racer, debuting in 1966, boasted a massive, adjustable rear spoiler that demonstrated just how great an impact downforce could have on a car's performance, and when problems with the tall spoiler both causing drag and breaking off came up, Hall designed the 2J around ground effects. While its particular solution — a massive internal fan that sucked the car to the ground — was quickly banned by all motorsport governing bodies (not to mention unreliable), the basic idea of building sports cars and race cars around using aerodynamics to keep them glued to the road stuck, and has informed the design of high-performance vehicles ever since.
  • When the 1973 gas crisis hit the United States, the Detroit automakers were caught completely off-guard with their lineup of large, gas-guzzling sedans and muscle cars that few people wanted to buy anymore, while the Japanese companies that had been selling tiny, fuel-sipping econoboxes suddenly saw booming business. The history of the automobile in America can roughly be divided into "pre-1973" and "post-1973", such was the impact of the gas crisis: the Japanese (and to a lesser extent the Germans, particularly Volkswagen) became major players in the American auto market, Detroit correspondingly fell into a decade-long Dork Age that it's still feeling the hangover from, a flurry of new regulations on fuel economy and emissions emerged, and big gas-guzzlers fell out of fashion for a generation until the rise of the SUV in the '90s.
  • The launch of the BMW 3 Series in 1975 changed the definition of what a luxury car could be. While it wasn't the first luxury compact (even from BMW itself), it was the car that proved, especially to Americans, that the phrase "luxury compact" wasn't an oxymoron, and that smaller sedans could be just as desirable to own and drive as their larger roadboat cousins — an especially attractive proposition for buyers at the height of the aforementioned energy crises. It also created a much greater demand for performance in luxury cars, not merely pampering drivers but also allowing them more finesse behind the wheel. By the Turn of the Millennium, even Cadillac, a brand synonymous with old-fashioned luxobarges, would be following BMW's lead in building smaller, more high-performance sport sedans like the ATS. The impact of the 3 Series was such that, when Lincoln relaunched the Continental sedan in 2016, it was immediately noted that it stood out from other luxury cars by very consciously not trying to copy BMW.
  • The first-generation Honda Accord (1976-81) changed how Americans thought of foreign cars in general, and Japanese cars in particular. While Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen, and other foreign makers of small cars had sold well in the wake of the 1973-74 oil crisis, they had reputations for a lack of amenities and interior space, poor reliability, and being less rugged than was needed for American roadsnote , the general perception being that people weren't necessarily buying these cars because they wanted to. The Accord, however, was lavishly equipped for a compact car, built to a higher standard of quality, and came at a slightly premium price point of $3,999 to match. When it sold like gangbusters, blowing its cheaply-priced and stripped-down competitors out of the water, it forced the likes of Volkswagen, Toyota, and especially Detroit's Big Three to start taking their compact cars seriously if they wanted to survive in the American market. The Accord's image was only burnished when Honda inflicted on General Motors a laser-guided smackdown of a response to GM CEO Richard Gerstenberg's dismissal of Honda's emissions technology. Paul Niedermeyer of the website Curbside Classic has written a pair of articles comparing the Accord to the contemporaneous Chevrolet Malibu illustrating how the former revolutionized the American auto industry.
  • Chrysler's "K-cars" are remembered by history as bland, mediocre econoboxes that a generation of '90s teenagers drove as their first cars (hence the name of the band Relient K). When they were first made, however, they saved Chrysler. Teetering on the edge of bankruptcy in the early '80s and only kept afloat by a government bailout, the company's fortunes were turned around almost overnight by the K-cars' success. The Plymouth Horizon/Dodge Omni hatchbacks and Plymouth Reliant/Dodge Aries compacts proved that American automakers could build small cars that could compete with the Japanese, vanquishing the legacy of crap like the Chevrolet Vega, the AMC Pacer, and especially Chrysler's old Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volaré. (The terrible build quality of those two cars forced Chrysler to shell out millions to repair cars under warranty, playing a large role in bringing the company to the brink in the first place.) The Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan, meanwhile, pioneered a new type of vehicle, the "minivan" that had the cargo space of a station wagon but far superior fuel economy. And when taken as a whole, the K-car platform also popularized the use of modular platforms among automakers, as building vehicles that were essentially the same car, just with different bodies placed atop them, led to greatly simplified production and reduced costs versus designing each car with a separate platform. Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca became a national icon for turning Chrysler around, with many attempts to get him to run for President.
  • In Europe, the Renault Espace came out around the same time as the Voyager/Caravan, and played a similar role in popularizing the minivan (or as it's known in Europe, the multi-purpose vehicle, or MPV) there. The Espace was actually designed at Chrysler's European subsidiary in the late '70s, but there seems to have been no contact between the designers of the two vehicles — they both found a good idea independently.
  • While sports car engineers had long known of the importance of aerodynamics in improving high-speed performance, the Ford Taurus family sedan was the car that demonstrated its value in improving fuel economy as well. The car's streamlined styling greatly reduced drag at highway speeds and allowed it to sail straight through stringent fuel economy tests without sacrificing performance, and between that and the fact that it looked awesomenote , it was a smash hit. GM and Chrysler, and later the Japanese and German automakers, soon began to recognize that aerodynamic styling could improve even non-sporty cars, and by the '90s it had become standard in automotive design. By the '00s, however, a backlash emerged from car buffs out of a sense that letting wind tunnels carve a car's lines was making every vehicle on the road look like an amorphous, elongated blob, and the Turn of the Millennium saw a return to more distinctive (yet still aerodynamic) styles.
  • While the idea of combining a station wagon with a truck goes back to The '40s, two automobiles are often credited with inventing the sport-utility vehicle, or SUV, in its modern form.
    • The first is the Jeep Cherokee XJ, launched in 1984. While the term "sport-utility vehicle" had been invented (by Jeep itself!) a decade prior, past wagon/truck mashups typically hewed much closer to the "truck" side of the equation, with vehicles like the Ford Bronco and the Chevrolet K5 Blazer being essentially pickups with rear seats and enclosed beds.note  The Cherokee XJ, however, was built on a unibody platform that offered a smoother ride without sacrificing utility and off-road capability, demonstrating that an off-road vehicle could be a practical daily driver for families.
    • If the Cherokee was the Trope Maker, then the Ford Explorer, launched in 1990, was the Trope Codifier. It gave the SUV pizzazz; while it was built on the Ranger truck platform, it added numerous car-like creature comforts that made it a serious competitor to the station wagons and large sedans that ruled the family vehicle market up to that point, bringing back the old-fashioned landyacht automobile in a new, truck-inspired form. As other automakers spent the '90s and '00s imitating the formula that Ford laid down, wagons and full-size sedans all but died out as the SUV became the new symbol of suburban Americana, and even the aforementioned minivan saw its popularity take a downhill slide.
    • Ironically, the Explorer itself would be unable to enjoy the greatest fruits of the SUV boom. Its reputation was irrevocably tarnished by a rollover scandal involving tires made by Firestone (a longtime corporate partner of Ford), leading to the collapse of its own sales just as the SUVs it inspired (including Ford's own Expedition and Excursion, both of which made the Explorer look like a tiny clown car) were taking over the road. And in another irony, the Explorer since 2011 has been a crossover utility vehicle — the very sort of vehicle that killed the style of SUVs that the Explorer had popularized, taking their niche in the American market.
  • In 1993, Subaru of America faced slumping sales as its sedans and wagons were outcompeted by SUVs. A small company that lacked the resources to design and build an all-new vehicle, they instead added a higher suspension and more rugged-looking body panels to the all-wheel-drive Legacy wagon. The resulting vehicle, known as the Outback, not only saved the company, but, while few would've guessed it at the time, it laid the groundwork for an entirely new class of automobile combining the utility of an SUV with the smaller, more efficient, car-like form of a station wagon. The Subaru Outback wasn't the first crossover (the AMC Eagle is often credited as such), but it was the first truly successful example and the one that laid the foundation for all those that would follow, especially once the fuel crises of the '00s caused them to displace SUVs as the rulers of the American road.
  • The impact of the SUV's combination of power and luxury eventually trickled back to pickup trucks themselves. The second-generation Dodge Ram that debuted in 1994 proved that trucks could be more than just workhorses — they could look good and be nice to drive as much as any car or SUV. From there, the development of pickups and SUVs went hand-in-hand, and smaller work trucks like the Ford Ranger and the Chevrolet S-10 fell by the wayside as pickups followed SUVs in becoming lifestyle vehicles, some of which have been seriously compared to traditional luxury cars in terms of amenities. Indeed, some have blamed the Ram for, in the long run, making trucks too expensive for the average blue-collar contractor or farmer (the original market for pickup trucks) to purchase new.
  • The Volkswagen New Beetle sparked a boom in retraux vehicular design, its throwback to the classic Bug winning it legions of fans. A number of cars in the Turn of the Millennium were given retro styling, like the fifth-generation Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro (both throwbacks to their '60s progenitors), the Chrysler PT Cruiser ('30s hot rods), the Chevrolet HHR ('40s/'50s panel vans), the Toyota FJ Cruiser (the original FJ40 Land Cruiser), and a relaunch of the Mini brand by BMW.
  • The Toyota Prius hybrid, for all intents and purposes, invented the 'green' car as we know it today. Many automakers had experimented with alternatives to the internal combustion engine before it; the Lohner-Porsche gas-electric hybrid was built and sold as far back as 1901, and around the turn of the 20th century electric vehicles were popular as short-range city cars. The Prius, however, proved that they could be commercially viable and economical for families and commuters, in a way that GM's contemporaneous EV1 pure-electric car failed to do. In particular, the second generation (2003-09) model defined the sleek, high-tech styling that came to be synonymous with hybrids and electrics, shifting their image from hippie-mobiles to cutting-edge technological showpieces, an image that was built upon by Tesla Motors with its focus on luxury and performance.

    Comic Books 
  • In the American comic industry, the creation of The Justice Society of America began a pivot for the medium that nobody would've anticipated. While simply made to be a place to put characters who didn't sell that well, this was the first time that original works were in the same book together in the medium. This began building up the idea for creating a Shared Universe for their characters, and the beginning of the Crossover in the medium. Ideas that would lock the two big main comic companies into place in the far future for the worlds they would create.
  • An example that isn't actually a "work": the outrage caused by the book Seduction of the Innocent led to the creation of The Comics Code. This killed horror and crime comics, then among the biggest hits for the industry, while saving the superhero genre, which was sinking at the time. This also led Marvel Comics to give Stan Lee and Jack Kirby the green light to experiment, as they were hurting in the wake of this turn in the medium. (Which in turn led to the Marvel Age.) All of this led to the terms "comic book character" and "superhero" being almost interchangeable in the North American market.
  • The Silver Age changed superhero comics forever. It introduced more flawed and relatable characters, more sophisticated themes, and more complicated plots. This led to an eventual shift in the target audience for comics from children to late teens/young adults.
    • It is generally accepted that Barry Allen, the second Flash, was the character that kicked off the Silver Age, complete with sleek, form-fitting, cape-less costume, more scientific...ish...origin, and a Rogues Gallery of gimmick villains.
    • Fantastic Four introduced a family team whose members clashed and bickered from time to time, and it showed that superhero stories could firmly anchor themselves in the real world without sacrificing any of their inherent fun. The Four lived in the real world of 1960s New York rather than a fictional City of Adventure like Metropolis or Gotham, they didn't bother with Secret Identities, they were world-famous scientists and philanthropists in addition to being superheroes, their nemesis was the truly dangerous dictator of an Eastern European nation rather than a simple criminal, and their famous blue jumpsuits were a more realistic alternative to the flamboyant costumes that other superheroes wore. On top of that, The Thing pioneered the idea of a superhero who viewed his powers as a curse.
    • Incredible Hulk got a lot of attention as an ambiguous hero who was neither entirely a superhero nor entirely a monster, and his series pushed the boundaries of the Comics Code Authority by depicting the United States military as antagonists (the Code stipulated that comic books couldn't portray respected organizations in a negative light). With his anger, his inherently flawed nature, and his troubled relationship with authority figures, he also went on to become a counterculture icon, showing the potential for superheroes to act as a voice for the youth.
    • Spider-Man broke the mold as a teen superhero who was not a sidekick and had no mentor or guide, was hated by most of the public, and initially tried to use his powers to make money.note  His first issue, where he resolves to protect the innocent to atone for selfishly refusing to stop the burglar that went on to kill his beloved uncle, definitively established him as a flawed young man with a lot of growing up to do, rather than a moralistic crusader out to punish evildoers.
  • Jack Kirby's move to DC. The New Gods is often considered the beginning of the Bronze Age.
  • Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns more or less ushered in The Dark Age of Comic Books. Kingdom Come, in turn, would end it.
  • Todd Mc Farlane gained much acclaim for his artwork on Incredible Hulk and SpiderMan, especially because he drew with exaggerated details and body contortions. This style later paved the way for Rob Liefeld as writer and artist of New Mutants, where he created Cable. His work on Cable and X-Force kicked off the art style of The Dark Age of Comic Books.
  • Peanuts changed Newspaper Comics permanently. It gave strips the license to address deep and (sometimes) dark issues and not just be simple gag-a-day escapism. However, Charles Schulz's signature simple artwork gave newspapers the idea to reduce the size of the comic panels and force all the future artists to simplify their artwork to the point where all the art look like rushed cut-and-paste jobs. Again with Calvin and Hobbes, which carried the intelligent and philosophical underpinnings of Peanuts forward while marking the beginning of the pushback against the "Schulzian" artistic simplification.
  • Harvey Pekar's American Splendor showed that comics could depict adult life without idealizing it.
  • The Adventures Of Luther Arkwright was an independent New Wave style Science Fiction comic made by Bryan Talbot in the 70s, the techniques and story telling he used have had large impact on many other writers and artists. Warren Ellis has said "LUTHER ARKWRIGHT invented the tools. ARKWRIGHT informs Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, me, and all the rest of us. It's probably Anglophone comics' single most important experimental work."
  • Alan Moore starts writing Swamp Thing. From one writer no one in America had heard of on a dying third-string title at DC we eventually got the whole of Vertigo Comics, Marvel's Max Imprint and not a few smaller publishing houses (Avatar, for example).
  • Chris Claremont starts writing the X-Men. Marvel Comics had been soap operas before that point, but Claremont's writing made the soap truly operatic in scope. Mainstream modern superhero comics, including the deconstructions of Alan Moore and others, were changed forever by the popularity of Claremont's writing style. (Yes, Byrne's art had something to do with it too, but Claremont stayed on the title a lot longer and had a lot more influence.)
  • Image Comics did a lot to change what was possible for both creators and the comic book medium.
    • Before they were formed by seven former Marvel Comics creators, the only mainstream options were Marvel and DC Comics when it came to reaching a wide audiences that wasn't Archie Comics. Neither company allowed the creator to own what they made, and only gave them modest pay despite playing a part in the creation of Cash Cow Franchises. This in turn lead to the seven creators to form Image, under the idea that the creator will always own what they make. It was an instant success, even beating out DC at the time. Furthermore, it pushed the boundaries of what was possible for a comic book to reach for an audience. With the only option before being superhero comics, the only way to make comics more mature, often non-superhero fare was through small indie companies. Image, having become a place where creators can make their own original IP and succeed, meant there was much greater diversity on the market. This was especially true after the below example.
    • The Walking Dead, published by Image, was the catalyst for changing the landscape of comic book industry. Before, Image was largely superhero-oriented and attempted to be a part of a Shared Universe. The Walking Dead, being part of its own independent continuity with a non-superhero storyline and mature themes, was an instant success that few could've predicted would happen. This was the point where Image would greatly diversify their lineup, and comics that wouldn't have been possible to be successes before were becoming sellers, especially since neither Marvel or DC would want anything to do with them. Comics like Phonogram, Morning Glories, East of West, and Saga were made possible by the success of The Walking Dead.
  • Despite of Marvel's changes to the genre in the 1960s, by the turn of the millenium the superhero genre was a large Fantasy Kitchen Sink. The Ultimate Marvel reimaginations took the characters back to their basic premises, and made them work in a strictly grounded context, with a cinematic narrative style. Most fantastic stuff was either removed or introduced by Doing In the Wizard, rather than just played straigth. And rather to be Holding Out for a Hero, the civilian world has SHIELD, the Government Agency of Fiction that keeps all potential threats under watch and control. The most successful titles were Ultimate Spider-Man, which introduced Miles Morales, a black Spider-Man; and The Ultimates, a super hero team reimagined as a US military task force. The style was soon adopted by the mainstream Marvel titles, and also by DC Comics.

    Fan Works 
  • "A Fragment out of Time", published in Spockanalia (a Star Trek fanzine running through the seventies), was the first known Slash Fic to hit wide distribution. Virtually every Yaoi Fangirl can thank Diane Marchant, who originally published anonymously.
  • Prior to Dragon Ball Z Abridged, most Abridged Series tended to run on wacky No Fourth Wall humor, general disregard for the actual plot of the series, Shout Outs, exaggerated Flanderization of characters, being often devoted to making Take That's at whatever official dubs of the series exist. In contrast, DBZA (from the second season onwards) instead moved towards more low-key, character driven humor that tried to retain most of the drama of the actual plot while making genuine attempts to improve upon the original. Nowadays, modern abridged series, such as Sword Art Online Abridged, use this formula instead.

    Films — Animation 

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Pro wrestling had existed in Mexico since the 1800s, not much later than it had in the USA. Big business Lucha Libre didn't exist until Salvador Lutteroth was inspired to start his own enterprise by the visiting Masked Marvel. Even then, masks themselves didn't really catch on until Lutteroth presented on of the Guzman brothers with a gimmick called. El Santo.
  • George Hackenschmidt traveled at least two continents wrestling rival claimants to the "World Heavyweight Champion". It was Lou Thesz who used this idea to not only unify championship status, but the entire "territory" where such a claim was made, cementing the power of the National Wrestling Alliance. The first major governing body for pro wrestling and only pro wrestling, the NWA would have a strong presence on no less than three continents at any given time for the next forty years and dictate most of pro wrestling's direction. Commissioners and boards of directors would be used as stock plot devices for years even after the NWA's decline.
  • Gimmicks have been in pro wrestling since the Catch As Catch Can days. Even the Gorgeous George gimmick is older than Gorgeous George himself. It was the combination of George being that over the top and the increasing affordability of television that made The Gimmick truly synonymous with pro wrestlers.
  • Pro wrestling in Japan was private clubs and concert intermissions. Big money television business and sporting arenas did not happen until Rikidozan, fresh from a trip to the USA, recruited several sumo wrestlers and judoka to form the JWA. Rikidozan's untimely assassination was also a turning point, as it lead to the births of the two longest running Japanese feds. All Japan and New Japan.
  • "Superstar" Billy Graham did this for heels in the mid-1970s. He was just as flashy and entertaining as any face, and proved that the heel didn't always have to be a Straw Loser. He was actually hoping for his character to be turned face during his 1977-1978 title run, and was extremely disappointed when that didn't happen, although he eventually did become a face when he returned to the WWF years later. He was the first major heel to hold a world title for more than a few weeks at a time.
  • Mary Ellison, aka The Fabulous Moolah, left a major impact on women's wrestling from the '60s through the '80s, though how good an impact she left is very much up for debate. As the leading women's wrestling trainer and booker during that time, Moolah helped forge the then-WWF's women's division and bring it into the spotlight. However, for better or worse, she was also a driving force behind the "Diva" style of wrestling that would predominate until the 2010s, which was heavy on fanservice and catfighting but often accused of being low on athleticism. That's before getting into the accusations made about how she treated the women who trained under her, as well as her sabotage of Wendi Richter's career and the WWF's Women's Tag Team division. As such, many wrestling fans have blamed Moolah for setting back women's wrestling in the United States by decades, between the wrestling styles she promoted and the backstage moves she made.
  • El Santo didn't have a successor, he had three. Los Tres Fantasticos taking over his feud with Los Misioneros De La Muerte cemented Tag Teams and Power Trios as big money in lucha libre, with three on three being the main match type for decades to come, and also cemented the in and out rules that for whatever reason never caught on in the US.
  • World Of Sport being canceled was the end of big money pro wrestling in the United Kingdom. Fairly or not, many wrestlers laid the blame for declining viewership at the feet of Big Daddy Crabtree, who was accused of killing opponent King Kong Kirk with his famous Belly Flop Crush.
  • ECW brought hardcore wrestling back to North America, made luchadores popular in the United States, and made professional wrestling Darker and Edgier at a time when the two biggest promotions, the WWF and WCW, were still putting out an altogether Lighter and Softer, more comic-book-ish product. Amazingly enough, WCW, part of the Time Warner media empire, and WWF, a multi-million dollar entertainment company in its own right, ended up taking their cues from a tiny promotion that ran shows out of a converted bingo hall in South Philadelphia. ECW didn't just bring back Garbage Wrestling, it also brought in elements of shoot style that for whatever reason simply were not catching on in the US, such as tapping out, as well incorporating puroresu and lucha libre elements and helping those gain traction in the US.
  • The WWF also had one at some point between 1996 and 1998, but mileage varies on what exactly it was. Some people cite Steve Austin's victory at King of the Ring 1996 and resulting Austin 3:16 promo, which made him the only thing to rival the New World Order in popularity. Others cite Austin's match against Bret Hart, face of the WWF along with Shawn Michaels, at WrestleMania XIII, when Austin turned face and Hart heel. Others will cite the formation of D-Generation X, an edgy, raunchy stable that was somewhat nWo influenced (it had members of The Kliq in it as well, after) and feuded with the Hart Foundation, Bret Hart's group. Resulting from that feud was Michaels and Hart's match at Survivor Series 1997, Hart's last match in the WWF under his current contract. The match was to end ambiguously and Hart was to surrender his championship the next day on Raw, but Michaels, Vince McMahon and Triple H conspired to end the match without Hart's knowledge. This event created the Mr. McMahon character and a decade's worth of unmitigated hostility between Hart and those involved. The final event is Austin's match against Michaels at WrestleMania XIV, when Austin defeated Michaels and in the words of JR "The Austin Era (had) begun." This event kickstarted the Austin-McMahon feud, which would be the focal point of the company for three years, in the company's most successful or second most successful era, the Attitude Era. Similarly, at and before WrestleMania X-Seven, the Attitude Era ended. Vince purchased WCW, the company's chief rival, and at WrestleMania, one of the greatest PPV's in history, Austin faced The Rock for the WWF Championship, unbelievably, Stone Cold turned heel in his hometown and sided with McMahon to beat Rock. The central feuds of the Attitude Era, both in real life and kayfabe, had ended within a week of each other.
  • All Pro Wrestling's King Of Indies tournament arc planted the idea that pro wrestlers on the independent circuit in a country virtually monopolized by WWF/E, wrestling for tiny feds with no television, could nonetheless draw money if given the chance. Seeing it caused foreign promotions as large and successful as westside Xtreme wrestling, Pro Wrestling Zero 1, Fighting Opera HUSTLE and even All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling to not only consider signing US indie talent on the strength of tapes alone but actively engage in tape training and the scouting of wrestling schools to find more. In the UK a "King Of Europe" cup was imitated in hopes of creating similar opportunities for it's own wrestlers, who were virtually all at indie status with World Of Sport being no more.
  • The 2006-2007 double whammy of the Sports Illustrated steroids report — in which several wrestlers were named for purchasing performance-enhancing drugs, including fan favorites Rey Mysterio Jr.(though he unsurprisingly turned out be buying painkillers, not that it saved his reputation) and Edge — and the horrific Chris Benoit murder-suicide of his family put the WWE under the harshest negative light it had ever encountered. Sponsors began to leave in droves as the company was painted as a misogynistic, crass, steroid-fueled carny show and the media had ten years worth of Attitude Era footage to drive home that point (they had a field day with the infamous "Vince makes Trish strip and bark like a dog" segment). In 2008, the WWE began a company-wide sanitizing of their product to shed the "Attitude" image, phasing out blood, foul language, and sexually charged gimmicks and angles, cleaning up RAW to a TV-PG product, doubling down on their charity work with children, and implementing a strict drug testing program. They even removed "Wrestling" from its name in order to promote itself as family-friendly general entertainment and sever its association to pro wrestling and its associated stigmas ("WWE" is no longer an acronym outside of legalese). Although long-time fans decry the Lighter and Softer route to this day, the company has repaired its image in the public eye, as kid-friendly companies like Chef Boyardee renewed their sponsorships in the end, the media reports often on their charitable actions, and celebrities and athletes participate on the shows, illustrating that it is no longer a negative connotation to be associated with WWE.
  • SHIMMER was the first American women's promotion since the WWWA to successfully make headlines while focusing on athleticism, rather than either the blatant T&A that the WWE women's division could degenerate into at times, or Camp like GLOW and its successors. The tiny Berwyn fed made such a buzz older efforts like PGWA and ChickFight actually benefited from it. As Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy wrote in Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Women's Wrestling, "Without a doubt, a case could be made that the first shots of the 2015 WWE Women's Revolution were actually fired at the Berwyn Eagles Club a decade before."
  • After WCW and ECW closed their doors in 2001, most wrestlers thought that the only viable option for making it in wrestling was WWE... until Christian chose not to re-sign when his WWE contract expired in 2005, and instead go to TNA. While many wrestlers like Sting and AJ Styles had turned down numerous WWE offers, while former WWE wrestlers had gone to TNA before, he was the first wrestler with a comfortable spot in WWE to choose TNA of his own volition, and set the ball rolling on the idea that WWE was not the be-all and end-all of wrestling, which has gathered steam in the decade-plus since with things like indy wrestler Steve Corino revealing he could make more money working in the indies than on a WWE developmental contract, CM Punk's "pipe bomb" promo where he mentioned New Japan and Ring of Honor by name, and Cody Rhodes becoming a bigger star outside of WWE than he ever was with them. A major factor in this has been the advent of internet streaming, as it means wrestlers and companies no longer need TV pay-per-views to gain exposure.

  • On October 20, 1930, the Chicago radio station WGN premiered the Radio Drama Painted Dreams, generally considered to be the first Soap Opera. While Painted Dreams was canceled in 1943, the shows it inspired would go on to outlive radio as a medium for dramatic storytelling and profoundly shape the early history of television. Show Runner Irna Phillips, remembered as the "Queen of the Soaps", went on to create several landmark shows in the genre, among them Guiding Light, As the World Turns, and Another World — and moreover, her fight with WGN in 1932 over the rights to Painted Dreams (which she wanted to sell to a national network) led her to seek full creative and financial control over her properties from then on out, allowing her to build a creative empire in the mid-20th century.
  • Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh, upon their respective national debuts in 1986 and '88, both revolutionized the radio Talk Show. Stern's eponymous show pushed the boundaries of Vulgar Humor on the radio while riding the ensuing controversy to ever-greater heights of success and infamy, leading to a wave of Shock Jock radio hosts in The '90s each trying to outdo Stern and each other. Limbaugh, meanwhile, took the same confrontational style and applied it to politics rather than comedy, exploiting the repeal of the FCC's "Fairness Doctrine"note  in 1987 to create a program that wore its right-wing partisanship on its sleeve, leading to a similar proliferation of conservative talk show hosts. Together, Stern and Limbaugh also demonstrated that there was still a lot of life left in non-music radio formats, which had been in decline for decades since the rise of television.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the mid-1980s, the appearance of Warhammer and Battletech popularised fantasy and science fiction settings in Wargaming, which had until then been dominated by historical games, and brought a new generation into the hobby.
  • Dungeons & Dragons was created when a couple of friends decided to see what would happen if instead of playing wargames representing thousands of troops in huge, usually realistic, battles, you used similar rules to control just a few individuals. This quickly led to the idea of following them through a series of small encounters and building up a story rather than just a single battle, and thus the modern roleplaying game was born. The idea was so influential that even more traditional wargames like Warhammer these days focus on much smaller, more character focussed battles than had historically been the case, while for the most part roleplaying games took over from wargaming almost entirely.
    • Dragonlance was TSR's first attempt to go beyond a simple Dungeon Crawl and create a plotline reminiscent of epic fantasy novels, with the fate of the world at stake. And speaking of novels, it was the also the first instance of tie-in novels for a game setting.
    • Critical Role proved that people were willing to watch an RPG that they weren't playing in (at least to the west - RPG "replays" had been a thing in Japan for a long time by then, although usually in text or audio format)

  • Aeschylus did this for drama — 2500 years ago — when he made drama by introducing two characters and a chorus and used mythical themes to address contemporary concerns. Euripides reinvented theater again, by focusing more on the characters and their motivations, adding larger casts, and making the dramatic aspects much less subdued.
  • The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd was the Trope Maker and Trope Codifier for Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama, paving the way for Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. Kyd introduced the classic revenge plot, Feuding Families in fancy exotic settings and most importantly the use of iambic pentameter and blank verse to tell a tragedy. The English rather than feeling second fiddle to the tragedies of Spain and Italy, could have a homegrown version in colloquial language, and this marked the start of the Golden Age of English Literature.
  • Shakespeare's plays probably didn't change theatre so much as the world, but his plays, quite unintentionally, demonstrated that the so-called "classical unities" (i.e. what some authors thought Aristotle was prescribing in Poetics) of time-place-action did not really get in the way of crowd participation and interest. Shakespeare's plays had action in many different places, rooms and settings, took place over many days and had many different actions. This wasn't as radical in England as it was in "the Continent" where French and German artists saw Shakespeare as an avant-garde writer.
  • Henrik Ibsen changed theatre by introducing psychological realism and everyday settings for his dramas. Ibsen was also one of the first dramatists that tried to represent social issues and problems (pertaining to marriage, divorce, women's liberation and nonconformism) as a deliberate object of critique.
    • He paved the way for Bertolt Brecht (who was far more radical and less realist than Ibsen, but nonetheless was a social critic and used theatre to address it) and Arthur Miller (whose Death of a Salesman was highly inspired by Ibsen).
    • Ibsen paved the way for Anton Chekhov (plays where "nothing" happened) and Samuel Beckett (where even less than nothing happened). After Ibsen, the living room and people's houses became the center of battle for stage. The problems of everyday people became the stuff of high drama, no less grand and capable of arousing pity and fear as the Kings, Demigods, heroes and schemers of Greek and Elizabethan Theater.
  • In the mid-to-late 19th century, the London stage was full of all kinds of vulgar, lewd, and risqué shows (so were stages in all the European capitals); the works of Gilbert and Sullivan showed there was room for family-friendly fare in the theatre. This in itself would be a turning point, but after Gilbert and Sullivan, those making "light opera" or "operetta" began following the G&S model...and a little while later people realized that G&S had invented The Musical.
  • Oklahoma!, upon its debut in 1943, elevated musical theater from fluffy entertainment into a legitimate form of artistic storytelling. While it was not the first musical to use song, dialogue, and dance (those have long been staples of the genre), it did combine these three elements in as mature and realistic a fashion as was possible in a story where characters routinely broke into song, organically integrating the musical numbers with spoken dialogue without trying to justify it.
  • A Streetcar Named Desire's original production in 1950 changed American (and by extension global) culture forever. Not only for the play and its great writing (by Tennessee Williams) but also for its starring role by Marlon Brando and direction by Elia Kazan. Its approach to psychological realism, focus on sexual neurosis and sympathy for mental turmoil, shifted theatre away from social problem issues to personal, identity issues dealing with human psychology and family hangups. Brando's performance introduced greater standards of realism and led to Method Acting becoming the dominant school, for better and worse.
  • In The ’60s, Lenny Bruce became one of the most notorious comedians of all time with his live act, based around a mix of political, racial, and religious satire with a large dose of Vulgar Humor, which got him blacklisted from television and made him a target of law enforcement but which also earned him a deeply devoted cult fandom. His battles with censors and obscenity laws were not only galvanizing moments in the history of freedom of speech in the US, they also made him a template for later comics like George Carlin and Richard Pryor, both of whom cited him as a key influence. While modern stand-up comedy has its roots in vaudeville, the Borscht Belt, and the chitlin' circuit, Bruce made stand-up into the vehicle for edgy, boundary-pushing humor that it would come to be known for in the late 20th century.
  • Cirque du Soleil accomplished this trope three times over:
    • Starting with its 1987 tour Le Cirque Réinventé, Cirque did a lot to raise circus out of the kiddie entertainment ghetto it had fallen into in North America. Now, there are numerous successful "contemporary circus" troupes/companies that play to a wide variety of audiences, without even counting the blatant imitators of Cirque's style (which was derived from European and Asian circuses) that have sprung up.
    • On a related note, it also played a major role in killing off the use of wild animals in the circus. As the use of captive elephants, bears, big cats, and other creatures grew increasingly controversial from The '90s onward, many animal rights activists pointed to Cirque as a model for how to create an engaging circus show while relying entirely on human performers. While Siegfried and Roy's infamous mishap with their tiger marked the ultimate tipping point for such (in addition to permanently ending their own show), Cirque helped lay the groundwork for their decline before then.
    • Their first Las Vegas resident show, Mystère, helped change that city's entertainment scene. Siegfried and Roy's magic show at the Mirage had opened four years prior and was also a big game changer after years of increasingly stale showgirl revues, but Mystere was actually taken seriously as theater, to the point that Time magazine's theater critic named it one of the best shows of 1994. While it would lead to many acclaimed sister productions in the city, other Vegas casino-hotels imported such productions as Blue Man Group, Jersey Boys, and The Lion King, often with huge success, resulting in a more diverse range of entertainment for tourists.

    Theme Parks 
  • Walt Disney didn't want to bring his kids to the same sleazy, ratty carnivals that he went to growing up, so he created Disneyland in order to raise the bar with a park more reminiscent of a World's Fair where parents and kids could have fun together. When it opened in 1955, Disneyland set a new standard for the industry, and many older parks had to step up their game if they wanted to compete. Virtually every theme park today follows some form of the template that Walt Disney originally laid down.
  • The Racer at Kings Island in Ohio revolutionized roller coasters upon its opening in 1972, giving them a second wind in The '70s after decades of decline while demonstrating that wooden coasters, seen as increasingly obsolete in the face of faster, looping steel coasters, still had plenty of life left in them.
  • The opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventure in 2010 decisively pulled the Universal Orlando Resort out from the shadow of nearby Walt Disney World, demonstrating that parks not named Disney could compete with it on its bread-and-butter of production values and licensed properties.

    Visual Novels 
  • You have Tokimeki Memorial to thank for Dating Sim girls who actually have personalities beyond "living love doll".
  • ...and Kanon to thank for giving the male protagonist a personality, as well as (and the two are connected) making Porn with Plot eroge just as marketable as Porn Without Plot games (though the developers had previously done ONE -kagayaku kisetsu e-, Moon., and Dousei before forming their own studio, none of these games had the impact that Kanon had).
  • ...and Katawa Shoujo for making visual novels a viable genre in the Western world, even though it was a Western-developed game. Combined with Steam allowing smaller publishers mentioned earlier, official localizations of visual novels are becoming more common.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue wasn't the first web series by a long shot, but it was the first successful one, showing that internet video could support popular scripted series. It also wrote the book for all future machinima, raising the bar and setting a new standard for the genre while elevating it beyond the realm of cheaply-made fan films, demonstrating that it could appeal to far more than just fans of the games.

    Web Original 
  • And the other half of the mid-late '00s web video revolution, lonelygirl15, did for live-action shows what Red vs. Blue did for machinima and animation. It demonstrated that independent producers on YouTube could make series with real production values and engaging long-term storylines, setting the stage for everything from The Guild and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog all the way up to the emergence of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Studios as serious players in television. Furthermore, lonelygirl15 was the Trope Maker for the Vlog Series, a format later employed by other popular web shows as diverse as Marble Hornets and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
  • Welcome to Night Vale changed the podcast game in one episode with "A Story About You." It highlighted the flexibility of the narrative and took the medium of the podcast to its full advantage. Since it did not have to show anything, it could tell one story and immerse the listener in a way that had never been done before. With attention on this one episode, Night Vale gave new life to the podcast outside of small critical circles and gave it credibility as a legitimate art form.
  •, a youth-focused, "Generation X" online magazine from the latter half of The '90s that offered commentary on pop culture, politics, technology, and more, essentially wrote the book for the likes of Cracked, Buzzfeed, the Gizmodo Media (formerly Gawker Media) group, and countless other sites with its ironic, Deadpan Snarker house style. One of its innovations, the use of hyperlinks to drive a point or as a punchline, is now de rigeur even on many "serious" websites. Even though the site was ultimately done in by the dot-com bubble in 2001, its legacy lives on in the many sites its writers and editors would go on to create or otherwise write for.

    Western Animation 
  • In Warner Bros. cartoons, Tex Avery revolutionized both the Warner cartoons and the animation industry itself. At a time when Warner and almost all other studios were bent on imitating Disney, and in which Warner cartoons in particular were suffering from deathly mediocrity, Avery came along in 1935 with his zany, faster-paced, smartassed, fourth-wall-breaking comedy, and cartoons haven't been the same since. If you watch the Warner cartoon library in sequence and look at what the studio was doing by 1937 or '38, it's amazing to think that this same studio had been producing terminally boring cartoons just two or three years earlier. When Warner cartoons finally became funny, they had Tex to thank for it.
  • The Dover Boys (1942) is a double turning point for American animation. It marks the point were Warner's animators stopped aping Disney and started experimenting with much more stylized action. It also marks the point when Chuck Jones went from the junior director who did the Sniffles the Mouse cartoons to a major innovator.
  • The short lived Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures (1987-1988) completely overhauled the expectations of what a television cartoon could do and began the practice of cartoonist-controlled animation and en-masse pop culture references.
  • The Simpsons (1989-) struck a huge blow against the Animation Age Ghetto, proving that animated shows based around adult humor can be successful and popularizing the animated sitcom, followed by South Park, Family Guy, Futurama, and too many others to count.
  • Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995, 1997-1999) allowed comic book superhero animated series to move past the Animation Age Ghetto of the Super Friends, with heroes and villains that have complex motivations and (often) tragic back stories, and spawned a very well-remembered franchise. It also proved that an animated show could be darker and deeper and have epic story lines while still appealing to children, and without alienating adults, which remains a major aspect in action/adventure shows to this day. Finally, it was the first TV cartoon to feature realistic handguns instead of Star Wars-inspired laser blasters.
  • Adventure Time was released to massive popularity, and in the early days, fascinated viewers with its bizarre yet fantastical nature. Then the show started delivering a slew of Wham Episodes and monumental revelations, which were jarringly emotional and sometimes extremely tearjerking compared to the random, experimental silliness that seemed to make up the rest of the show. Several members of the show's crew would eventually go off on their own to create critically acclaimed shows of their own with similar blends of comedy and emotional depth, such as Rebecca Sugar with Steven Universe.
  • In a specific example related to modern social issues, The Legend of Korra is now widely-regarded as a trailblazer for LGBT storylines in Western children's media, which are usually zealously scrutinized for any hints of dangerous homosexual influences. TLOK's series finale ended with Asami Sato in a romantic relationship with the title character, and they got literally every piece of romantic imagery onscreen that they could (including depicting it as an exact parallel to Katara and Aang's relationship from the predecessor series) short only of The Big Damn Kiss. This more-or-less blew the doors off of a once-taboo tradition, that you couldn't put openly gay or bisexual characters in a kids' cartoon, and several other prominent shows have since followed in its wake, notably Steven Universe (where basically every Fusion between Gems is lesbian in nature, and which actually got a whole episode devoted to a lesbian wedding) and the previously-listed Adventure Time, whose finale would surpass Korra's by having an onscreen LGBT The Big Damn Kiss (and confirming a longtime fan theory in the process). This is a far cry from as recently as The '90s, when Western dubs of anime were often heavily edited to remove any hint of subtext, to the point of changing the gender of some characters to make their relationships acceptably straight.


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