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One-Book Author

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"I have said what I wanted to say and I will not say it again."
Harper Lee note 

There is a certain tragedy known as the One-Book Author, when a person produces one work in a specific field that becomes extremely popular but never forays into said field again. In the world of literature, the author might have a couple additional short stories or poems that were published, but no other novels. Compare One-Hit Wonder, where someone has produced several works but only one managed to become popular.

May overlap with Died During Production (where the author doesn't live long enough to compose another work, i.e. works published posthumously), Tough Act to Follow (where they're afraid they've peaked on their first attempt, and may also be a Reclusive Artist) or at times with Short-Lived, Big Impact. Compare One-Song Bard. Contrast Author Usurpation for when the author did make more works, but they're only known for one while the rest are forgotten.


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Hosts and announcers

    Live-Action TV 
  • Wheel of Fortune has many examples:
    • Host-hostess tandem Pat Sajak and Vanna White, who took over from Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford in 1981 and 1982, respectively, originally met this trope: Pat was a former DJ and weatherman (although he hosted at least one unsold pilot before Wheel), and Vanna's only other TV "role" was as a contestant on The Price Is Right in 1980. However, their fame in these capacities led to other roles that now make them aversions.
    • Former San Diego Chargers place kicker Rolf Benirschke hosted the daytime version from January 10 to June 30, 1989. This was his only TV role.
    • The only TV role for Cynthia Washington (ex-wife of San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Gene Washington) was filling in for an injured Stafford for just over a week.
    • Tricia Gist (now-wife of Wheel creator Merv Griffin's son Tony) filled in for Vanna for a few weeks in 1991, thus giving Gist her only TV role to date.
  • Again contingent on whether or not "contestant" counts as a role, the only on-camera role for Mike Reilly was hosting the short-lived 1990 game show adaptation of Monopoly. Series creator Merv Griffin chose Reilly after he was a Jeopardy! contestant.
  • Yet another game show example: Paola Diva, the original Lovely Assistant on Concentration. And another still in Marjorie Goodson-Cutt on the 1980s-1990s revival, Classic Concentration. The latter was producer Mark Goodson's daughter.
  • Many people have been prolific in other fields, but only hosted a game show once (well, games that made it to air, anyway). Among them are:
    • Kevin O'Connell (a weatherman whose only hosting gig was Go, as well as the Keynotes and Money in the Blank pilots)
    • Henry Polic II (aka Jerry Silver on Webster; only hosting gig was Double Talk, plus the Eye Q pilot). Polic also had his only gig as an announcer when he filled in for Johnny Gilbert on a few episodes of The $100,000 Pyramid during John Davidson's tenure as host.
    • Chuck Henry (an LA news anchor whose only hosting gig was the 1989 revival of Now You See It, although he previously hosted an unsold pilot for Beat the Odds in 1975)
    • Laurie Faso (a voice actor and occasional live-action actor as well; only hosting gig was I'm Telling!)
    • Nick Clooney (George Clooney's father) (a long career as a broadcaster; only hosting gig was The Money Maze)
    • Patrick Wayne (John Wayne's son) (several roles as an actor; only hosting gig was the 1990 revival of Tic-Tac-Dough, and possibly for good reasons)
    • In the UK, Evan Davis is the longstanding host of Dragons' Den, which The BBC is fairly insistent is not a game show, though most people ignore their protestations. Whatever it is, it is Davis' only role away from his usual position as a news anchor.
  • Win, Lose or Draw:
    • The versions between 1987 and 1992 had a combined four hosts: Bert Convy (1987-89, syndication), Robb Weller (1989-90, syndication), Vicki Lawrence (NBC), and Marc Price (Teen Win, Lose or Draw on Disney Channel, 1989-92). Among these four people, Convy is the only one of the four to have helmed any other game shows (most notably, Tattletales and Super Password). Lawrence was best known for her roles on The Carol Burnett Show and Mama's Family and was a panelist on several other game shows, but Win, Lose or Draw remains her only hosting gig to date (she also hosted two pilots for Mark Goodson and ABC called Body Talk in 1990). Weller's only other major role was a short gig as host on Entertainment Tonight (he hosted the 1986 pilot of Blackout, the failed 1990 pilot of Split Second (1972) and the 1993 pilot of Hollywood Teasers, a revision of All-Star Blitz), and Price's only other notable role was Irwin "Skippy" Handelman on Family Ties.
    • The Disney Channel version, Teen Win, Lose or Draw, had a few different Mouseketeers from The Mickey Mouse Club announce, none of whom did any other announcing work (or in the case of Brandy Brown, much of anything at all). The exception was Mark L. Walberg, who was not a Mouseketeer, and who had experience in both announcing and hosting game shows for many years afterward (and, since 2006, of Antiques Roadshow).
  • "Gorgeous George" Davidson, the Subverted Lovely Assistant on GSN's WinTuition, has no other credits.
  • The only television role for Tony Pigg is as The Announcer of Live with Kelly and Ryan, a role he has held since the show began in 1983 as The Morning Show.
  • Deejay Mark Driscoll announced the first few weeks of the 1989 revival of Now You See It before being replaced with Don Morrow. To date, Driscoll has not done any other television work.
  • The game show The Cross Wits has two examples. The 1975-80 version was the only television role for Lovely Assistant Jerri Fiala; one week of episodes had her serve as a celebrity partner, while Kitty Hilton (then-wife of game show announcer Bob Hilton) got her only TV role taking Jerri's usual spot. The 1986 revival was also the only television role for announcer Michelle Roth.
  • UK financial journalist Louise Noel's only TV hosting role was the stocks-and-shares game Show Me the Money.
  • Kirk Fogg has no other television roles of note besides hosting the kids' game show Legends of the Hidden Temple.
  • The only game show credit for Phil Hartman was as the announcer of The Pop 'N' Rocker Game in 1983. Hartman supposedly auditioned for Let's Make a Deal and The Price Is Right as well, but didn't make the cut for either.
  • Brian Cummings' only on-screen role to date is the announcer on the first season of The All-New Let's Make a Deal in 1984 (although he also announced the pilot of Fun House (1988)). However, he is a prolific voice actor.
  • The only on-camera role to date for voice actor Bob Bergen is Jep!, a short-lived children's spin-off of Jeopardy! which aired in 1997.
  • The Russian adaptation of 1 vs. 100, Odin protiv vseh on TV Centr, is the only TV hosting credit for Alexander Nuzhdin, who is mostly known as a DJ and a radio personality.
  • In 1977, Saturday Night Live ran an "Anybody Can Host" audience contest, the winner of which was a 80-year-old New Orleans grandmother named Miskel Spillman, who hosted the December 17, 1977 episode. This was not just her only hosting appearance (and SNL's only non-entertainer host to date), but her only national television appearance.

Studios and Companies

    Anime and Manga 
  • Enigma Entertainment, the Spanish company which dubbed ×××HOLiC in what is considered one of the best anime dubs in Spain, literally disappeared after doing just one more work with Ultimate Muscle. Almost none of its voice actors have had a role in dubbing again, and even their whereabouts are currently unknown.
  • Patlabor is the only work by the artist collective Headgear, although Headgear's individual members have done various succesful works before and after Patlabor.
  • Looking Up at the Half-Moon's anime adaptation was the only thing licensed by the short-lived distributor Crimson Star Media.
  • Tokyo Media Connections only made the short anime Majo demo Steady in 1986. According to this video by anime historian Kenny Lauderdale, it could have been a marketing ploy to promote the song sung by the female protagonist's voice actress, since it's featured in its entirety. Nobody who worked on this anime seem to have worked on anything else.

  • Prana Films, a German studio, produced only one film, the 1922 horror classic Nosferatu. The studio was forced into bankruptcy after being ordered to pay copyright damages to the estate of Bram Stoker.
  • Tailor Made Productions, a production company run by Dan Lautner (Taylor's father). Setting out to make him into an action star thanks to the financial success of the Twilight films, Dan chose to start a series of action movie vehicles for his son, with the sole film made by the company being 2011's Abduction, which was both a critical and financial flop.
  • Kroyer Films did animations for several films of other studios as well as the video game Pitfall The Mayan Adventure, along with producing the short film Technological Threat, but only made one feature-length film of their own, FernGully: The Last Rainforest.
  • A company called Elastic Productions made only one movie before going belly up: the Direct to Video film Bands on the Run.
  • The obscure 1995 film Goldilocks and the Three Bears appears to be the only sort of statement made by Twin Dolphin Filmed Entertainment.
  • The one-off distribution company Shining Excalibur Films was created to release Kids, as Miramax, then owned by Disney, got cold feet over releasing an NC-17 film.
  • Summertime Entertainment's only film was Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return.

  • Luscious Spirit Studios was an all-women yuri indie group with plans for comics, short stories and more all around the central theme of romance between women. Sadly, after a successful Kickstarter of a compilation of short stories, the two writers left the group for reasons unexplained, taking their written works with them. The final member disappeared into the ether after that, leaving behind a pair of unfinished comics and a planned visual novel that will never see the light of day.

    Theme Parks 
  • The Hurler roller coasters at Carowinds and formerly at Kings Dominion were built by a company named International Coasters, Inc., which built nothing else.

    Video Games 
  • L.A. Noire was the only work of Team Bondi, the Troubled Production of which ultimately bankrupted the company.
  • Four Leaf Studio, the group of people behind Katawa Shoujo, was created specifically just for this one game and has not made any other projects. It was a collaborative effort by people from all over the world (many of whom were long gone when the final product was released) and it was five years in the making.
  • Metal Arms: Glitch in the System was the sole game released by developer Swingin' Ape Studios. Their next game was to have been StarCraft: Ghost; Blizzard even acquired the studio before disbanding it and canceling the game.
  • The Electronic Arts-published combat driving game Auto Destruct was the only title developed by Neurostone.
  • Studio Archcraft developed the 2009 Nintendo DS RPG Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled, and quietly disappeared afterward.
    • Members of that team resurfaced to make the SRPG Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark, which includes a playable cameo from Black Sigil's hero, Kairu.
  • Limbo of the Lost was the only game by British developer Majestic Studios, which spent 13 years in Development Hell. It was pulled from stores for copious stolen assets. This is despite The Stinger showing that the developers intended to make a sequel titled Limbo of the Lost II: Flight to Freedom.
  • The only game developed by the Squaresoft subsidiary Escape was Driving Emotion Type-S.
  • Digital Tome only made one game, Siege of Avalon, before disbanding.
  • Amiga run 'n' gun Ruff 'n' Tumble is the only game ever developed by Wunderkind.
  • Amiga platformer Yo! Joe! Beat the Ghosts is the only game ever developed by Scipio.
  • Amiga beat 'em up Motörhead, based on the eponymous group, is the only game ever developed by Kaitsu Software.
  • Apogee's team Developers of Incredible Power created the original Rise of the Triad in 1994-1995. The team disbanded while working on their second game, Prey (2006), which was eventually outsourced to another company.
  • Amstar Electronics (Phoenix, 1980)
  • 38 Studios (created by baseball star Curt Schilling) only released one game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, before going down in a blaze of loan default to the state of Rhode Island.
  • Dark Energy Digital only managed to create two games before going bust: Hydrophobia and the Updated Re-release Hydrophobia Prophecy.
  • JAM Productions (Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold, 1993).
  • Nintendo subsidiary Project Sora only made one game: Kid Icarus: Uprising, which was quite popular and a Killer App for the Nintendo 3DS. Afterwards, they were absorbed back into their parent company, Sora Ltd.
  • Rock-Ola (Nibbler, 1981)
  • Crack Dot Com (Abuse, 1996)
  • Parker Brothers (yes, THAT Parker Brothers) made plenty different games, which were usually good, but the only video game they made that was not an arcade/Computer port or a licensed game was Montezuma's Revenge.
  • Secret of Evermore was the only game developed by Square USA.
  • Steel Reign was the only game by Chantemar Creations. Shortly after its release, most of the company's staff joined Everquest developer Verant Interactive.
  • Bit Blot (Aquaria, 2007)
  • Recoil Games's only release was Rochard (2011), a critical success but a financial failure. They began development on a sequel, but never finished it due to lack of funding, and eventually folded completely.
  • Sanctuary Software (Backlash, 1994)
  • Clockwork Tortoise, Inc. (The Adventures of Batman & Robin for Genesis and Sega CD, 1995)
  • Gaslamp Games might count since, outside Dungeons of Dredmor and all its re-releases and DLC, they only released the unfinished Clockwork Empires. After two years on Steam's Early Access, the game was sold in late 2016 at full price but in an incomplete, broken and messy state. Then the devs went silent since December 2016 and the company more or less imploded (see also: Creator Killer).
  • Neorex (Cosmic Race, 1995)
  • Whoopee Camp only developed Tomba!, and its sequel, Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return, before shutting down due to those games' poor sales.
  • Rebel Act Studios (Severance: Blade of Darkness, 2001)
  • SuperBot Entertainment (formerly known as Broodwork, Inc.) was an American studio founded by Sony in 2009 to make exclusive games for their consoles. They made PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale in 2012 and, despite the positive critical reception, Sony cut ties with them since they felt the game's sales were "inadequate". They tried to pitch other projects, but couldn't find a publisher, so they had to disband in 2013.
  • Topheavy Studios's only release was The Guy Game, an FMV quiz game where the player's goal is to answer enough questions in order to make a bunch of drunken, unaware young women in bikinis strip fully naked. While already infamous at the time for taking advantage of intoxicated, random women on Spring Break, the game itself would end up being banned from North America retail because one of the girls stripping naked was only 17-years-old. This, combined with the game's poor sales (being released around the same time as Doom³ didn't help), caused Topheavy Studios to close its doors.
  • Ultra Ultra, a studio started by former IO Interactive employees, were only able to release ECHO before shutting down a year later.
  • Looking Glass Software, who are unrelated to the more famous Looking Glass Studios, have only one game to their name, Creative Contraptions, released in 1985 for PC/MS-DOS, Apple II, and Commodore 64.
  • Häus Teknikka produced Frantic Flea for SNES, and nothing else.
  • Chakan: The Forever Man is the only game that Extended Play Productions ever developed. That said, some of its staff members went to Western Technologies Inc. (the company behind the first X-Men game for Sega Genesis).
  • Recreational Brainware only helmed one game in its lifetime: The first Taz-Mania game for Sega Genesis.
  • LaserDisc arcade game Cube Quest (1983) was the only game developed by Simutrek.
  • The original Japanese version of Adventures of Dino Riki, titled Shin Jinrui: The New Type, is the only game credited to Rix Soft. They were the software development branch of Ricoh Elemex Corporation, that makes precision manufacturing technology, but never made another game.
  • Smoking Car Productions, the company formed by Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner to develop The Last Express, shut its doors after that game's commercial failure.
  • Rhythm & Hues was a company specializing in movies and animation that worked on a few games but only ever made one game of their own: Eggs of Steel.
  • Golgoth Studio was a French company with ambitious projects: making HD sequels and remakes of famous arcade games on PC. However, it went pretty badly for them. The only game they actually released was the mediocre and unfinished Magical Drop V for Steam; their Joe & Mac remake never got past character designs and the Toki remake was released... a decade after the initial announcements by a third party, when Golgoth already closed up shop.
  • Nintendo second-party developer Param only developed only one game, Doshin the Giant for the ill-fated Nintendo 64DD, and went defunct in 2003. The modest success of the Nintendo GameCube port in 2002 wasn't enough to save the company.
  • Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly was the only game developed by Check Six Studios. The game's critical and commercial failure ensured they wouldn't make another game.
  • Frogger: The Great Quest is the only game credited to Papa Yeti Studio.
  • Dr. Mario 64 is the only game developed by Newcom.
  • Mathilda is a game company that was created primarily by special effects wizard Screaming Mad George to make the Japan-only ParanoiaScape.
  • AMBER: Journeys Beyond was the only game by Hue Forest Entertainment.
  • The MMORPG WildStar was the only game developed by Carbine Studios, who closed down shortly before the game went offline.
  • Typhoon Studios' only game was Journey to the Savage Planet. They were shut down a year after the game's release.
  • Swedish developers Villa Gorilla have made only one game, and it's called Yoku's Island Express. Justified in that they're a small studio and developing the game took them five years instead of one, as they originally thought.
  • The Labyrinth of Time was the only game made by Terra Nova Development.
  • Besides two CD-ROM multimedia divination programs (!), Japanese developer Rodik, Inc. only made one game, the bizarre adventure Cookie's Bustle, then they turned into a research company before closing down in the early 2000s.
  • Birdiy (sic) was the only game by Japanese developer Mama Top. With its extremely repetitive gameplay and heaps of Fake Difficulty, it was a huge flop in arcades, so the other two games they were supposed to release never materialized.
  • 3VR, Inc. was a Californian developer that only lasted one year (1997-98) and in that brief time window apparently only released The 3D Adventures of Sailor Moon for Windows, a collection of mini-games.
  • Tales of Legendia was the only game developed by Project MelFes.
  • Twin Goddesses was the only game made by PolyGram K.K.
  • Cellius, a joint venture between Sony and Bandai Namco, only had one game in their portfolio, which was the critically-panned (at least in the West; its Japanese release was somewhat better received) Ridge Racer for the Play Station Vita in 2011.
  • Deep Silver Vienna, originally named Games That Matter, only developed Cursed Mountain before shutting down a few months later.
  • iROCK Interactive's sole game was the PlayStation 2 exclusive Dark Fantasy combat flight sim Savage Skies. It was going to be a licenced game featuring the likeness and music of Ozzy Osbourne under the title Ozzy's Dark Skies, but the prohibitive licensing expense and other complications forced iROCK to drop the tie-in with Osbourne and retool it as a generic Panzer Dragoon clone sans the on-rails movement.
  • Hi-Bit Studios funded 198X through Kickstarter, and shortly after its release they revealed it was actually an episodic game; however, sequels to the game (as well as the Xbox One port) remained Vaporware and the team became radio silent on social media and official pages since 2021, so it appears 198X Part 1 is going to be their only game.

    Western Animation 
  • Despite having a debut to feature animation that most studios could only dream of (a box office hit and one of the few non-Disney/Pixar films to win the Oscar for Best Animated Picture), Rango remains Industrial Light & Magic's only foray into making their own movies. Disney's acquisition of parent company Lucasfilm pretty much ended plans for more animated films by the special FX studio. However, ILM would return to producing animated films with Transformers One, an upcoming animated spin-off of the Transformers Film Series, having previously produced VFX for some of the series' films.
  • Three episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures were animated by a company called Encore Cartoons, which appears never to have done anything else.
  • Two episodes of Peter Pan & the Pirates were animated by a company named Red Apple Group. This show is their only known work.
  • British company Molitor Productions co-produced the Redwall animated series. All the company has really done otherwise is documentaries, including one on Saint Catherine's Monastery.
  • Children's Television Trust International, a joint-venture comprising an All-Star Cast of European, Australasian, African, Asian & American broadcasters, produced the series Animated Tales of the World and did nothing else afterwards.
  • The 4th season of Cyberchase was co-produced by a company named Flying Minds, which appears to have done nothing else.
  • The Orphanage opened a subsidiary called Orphanage Animation Studios. OAS co-produced Sym-Bionic Titan and did nothing else (a sequel to The Dark Crystal was planned, but it never came to fruition).

Authors of non-fiction

  • Edmund Gettier was a philosopher looking for tenure at Wayne State University. To help with this he was encouraged to publish any ideas he had. He published a 3-page paper called Is Justified True Belief Knowledge? which completely changed epistemology (the study of knowledge) by showing that apparently, no it wasn't, contrary to everything since Plato. He never touched epistemology again, and in fact has published nothing else.
  • Philosophy and Science Fiction: The editor, Michael Phillips, is a professor emeritus of philosophy at Portland State University, and is not to be mistaken for the Christian Mystery/Romance author or the several other authors by the same name. This Michael Phillips has only published this one anthology.

  • While Bernhard Riemann published many papers, he only published one single paper on number theory. It is considered one of the most important and influential papers ever published on that field.

Fictional Examples

    Comic Books 
  • In JSA: The Golden Age, Jonathan Law (Tarantula) had only one book to his name that he wrote and published, Behind The Mask, after which he was unable to come up with anything else. Libby Lawrence's mentioning him being a "one-book, one-hit wonder" ended up being what broke up their relationship with each other. During the battle with Dynaman near the end of the story, Tarantula dies thinking that this battle would have made for a great book to write.

  • Throw Momma from the Train: Larry's wife Margret seems to be milking the hell out of the one book she's credited with writing, Hot Fire, with adaptations galore. However, she'll likely remain a one-book author because she stole it — and she might become a no book author if and when she's caught.
  • The premise of Finding Forrester involves Forrester being a One Book Author. In the end, he writes a second book.
  • Ditto for the plot of Wonder Boys.
  • The end of the film Croupier has the protagonist, a novelist and casino dealer, having completed and published his Roman à Clef, realize that it is probably better for him to quit while he's ahead and not write another novel.
  • Stone Reader is a documentary following a dedicated reader who tracks down an obscure but brilliant One Book Author and helps get his book republished.
  • The plot for the indie movie The Kiss is even more restrictive: The protagonist finds the author's one book in manuscript form without an ending. She seeks him out to persuade him to become a One Book Author.

  • In the Teenage Worrier series, Letty's father is the author of a widely acclaimed novel called "Moving On", but since his daughter's birth it has taken him almost sixteen years to finish his next work (and, it is implied, he probably never will.)
  • The Teenage Worrier example is similar to the father in I Capture the Castle, but at the end, we learn the father in that book has begun creating another work.
  • Sharyn McCrumb's Bimbos of the Death Sun: the author of the titular book apparently has no interest in writing another as he makes more money as a scientist.
  • Toni L.P. Kelner's series Where Are They Now? follows journalist Tilda Harper, who specializes in hunting down former stars - most of whom only ever did one real work (or at most minor guest star roles) and then left the business. The very first book, Curse of the Kissing Cousins, involves her work in tracking down the cast of an in-universe series, Kissing Cousins; at least three of the actors fall under this trope, including one who left the business to run a motorcycle shop until he died in an accident, one who tried to continue her career but eventually gave up and went into real estate, and Mercy Ashford, who was cast in a single film role after the show ended but left the set after about a week's work one day and disappeared. It turns out she was attacked and beaten by an abusive ex-boyfriend with connections and an If I Can't Have You… attitude, and afterward went into hiding because she knew he wouldn't give up on her; even after his arrest, she chooses to stay out of the public eye.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: One possible future for Jake Sisko has him write Anslem as his sole novel. (He also writes an anthology of short stories, though that is his only other literary work). In fact, the way we find out about this is exactly as given in the example at top.
  • Frasier: An author whose only work (that he hates to talk about) was a landmark success befriends Martin. Niles and Frasier discover a manuscript for his planned second novel. When the author catches them reading it, he asks for their opinion. However, while praising it, they unintentionally make him realise he ripped off Dante's The Divine Comedy and throws the manuscript into the fire.

    Video Games 
  • In Fable, there's a weapon called The Dollmaker's Mace which is apparently the only time they ever made a weapon. It's a pretty damn good one too, with high speed and a satisfying damage rating.
  • Larry Butz of Ace Attorney apparently achieved some success as "Laurice Deauxnim" with his picture book, Franzy's Whippity-Whip Trip. But it seems that's all he's released, even after the 8-year Time Skip between the original trilogy and the rest of the series.

Alternative Title(s): One Work Wonder