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One-Hit Wonder

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Their biggest hit by a landslide.

"So many lovely melodies...
So many messages to convey...
But they don't care about any of these...
Play that one damn song
is what they all say."
Reel Big Fish, "One Hit Wonderful"

A one-hit wonder is a music artist primarily known for one "hit", typically defined as a song that charted in the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 (the most widely-cited ranking of American music sales, radio play, and streaming) or an international equivalent. If they're lucky, the artist's next single may chart as well, but despite the ubiquitous fame of their first hit, they never really reach the same level of popular success and soon fade from existence. The strange mix required for an artist to release one song that has massive appeal but for none of the rest of their catalogue to match it make one-hit wonders a favorite piece of trivia among fans of music and pop culture.

Usually, the public defines a "one-hit wonder" by cultural impact rather than chart placements (since relatively few people know such trivia off-hand). For example, if an artist has a massive #1 hit, getting a #40 will technically disqualify them as per Billboard's definition of a one-hit wonder, but it's highly unlikely that the #40 will continue to be remembered over time and they will likely become a textbook example of such an artist. Other artists were massive in their prime, and even though they still had clearly defined Signature Songs, nobody would ever consider labelling them as one-hit wonders. However, as time goes on, the artists fall so hard into obscurity (either becoming a Cult Classic, or worse, getting Condemned by History) or the signature song's memetic status and ubiquity so overshadows their other work that their discographies are almost completely forgotten outside of the signature song. Thus, they are erroneously looked back upon as a one-hit wonder.

It is not uncommon for a group to be a one-hit wonder then break up, allowing one or more members to become (more) successful solo acts. It is also not uncommon for the one hit to be atypical of their oeuvre. Also compare Tough Act to Follow and One-Book Author. Of course, if sufficient backlash is applied, they will Never Live It Down. Note that a one-hit wonder on the American charts may be a different story in other countries; many popular European artists charted only once in America. For that matter, many American artists have only charted once in their homeland but are popular in foreign markets such as Europe, Asia and Australia. There are also examples of American artists like who were big names in the U.S. but who only had one big hit in other countries. Likewise, there are artists who only once reached the Top 40 but are respected figures and even trendsetting within their genre; several such examples are listed below. Some observers and music writers will dispute whether these artists count as "one-hit wonders", merely artists that had one Top 40 hit and more of a piece of chart trivia than a specific label. Some artists are even considered one-hit wonders for songs they were featured on that aren't theirs.

For further reading, and a good definition of who may and may not be a one-hit wonder, check out this 2012 article for The Village Voice. The author of this piece, Chris Molanphy, later expanded on it and his definition of one-hit wonders as an episode of his Hit Parade podcast.

Compare No-Hit Wonder, wherein an artist manages long-term success without even so much as one big hit, and Two-Hit Wonder, where an artist is lucky enough to score a second hit. Also see Hitless Hit Album, where an artist has a hit album with no hit songs. Contrast Breakthrough Hit, where one hit leads to a string of later hits. Also compare Signature Song which is the biggest hit. May overlap with Small Reference Pools, especially non-music examples. Many of the artists listed here are mislabeled because they have a signature song but still had lesser hits. There have been rare instances where the band had a Top 40 hit, but it is not their most popular song and the signature song the band is known for didn't chart well or at all. Often, this is due to a chart technicality. When the artist's best-known hit is in a markedly different style than the rest of their work, that's a Black Sheep Hit.

Subtrope of He Also Did, which is when an artist has a mixture of very famous work and not-at-all-famous work. Frequently a source of Magnum Opus Dissonance, when the works the creators care about are not the ones the general public latches on to.

Has nothing to do with One-Hit-Point Wonder and usually has little to do with a One-Scene Wonder, which is a small but very memorable role in a large work that may actually be by an A-list star (possibly because he or she is one). Compare One-Song Bard, where a fictional musician only ever plays one piece in the story (because the creators didn't bother to record more than one).

To qualify as a One-Hit Wonder, the hit must be at least 5 years old or the creator/artist must have retired and/or disbanded.

Music examples by genre:



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  • Elvin Bishop is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, but as a solo artist, he is known almost entirely for his 1976 hit "Fooled Around and Fell in Love", which reached #3 on the Hot 100. While Bishop wrote the lyrics and played lead guitar on the recording, he believed his gritty voice wasn't a good match for the song. Instead, the lead vocals were handled by future Jefferson Starship singer Mickey Thomas.
  • J.J. Cale had only one top 40 hit in his career with 1972's "Crazy Mama". Overall, he's better known for writing the Eric Clapton classics "Cocaine" and "After Midnight".
  • Delbert McClinton is a true rarity, as he managed to be a one-hit wonder on three different charts with three different songs. First, he hit #8 on the pop charts in 1980 with the blues-rock song "Givin' It Up for Your Love". Then he got to #13 on Mainstream Rock Tracks in 1992 with "Every Time I Roll the Dice"note . Then he got to #4 on the country charts in 1993 as a duet partner on Tanya Tucker's "Tell Me About It". He remained a fairly popular artist regardless, having written Emmylou Harris's 1978 hit "Two More Bottles of Wine" in addition to winning a handful of Grammys.
  • Alannah Myles is mainly known for her late-1989 Elvis Presley tribute song "Black Velvet", a #1 smash on the Hot 100 that was also a Top 10 hit in many other countries. Myles charted several more times in her native Canada (including 1992's "Song Instead of a Kiss", which topped the RPM charts), but never saw the US charts again after "Black Velvet". Atlantic Records simultaneously released a soundalike version by Robin Lee to the Country Music format, which proved to be her only hit there; however, Lee has had somewhat more success as a songwriter.
  • Boston band Treat Her Right scored a #15 hit on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart in 1988 with "I Think She Likes Me". It was the group's only chart entry. They're better known nowadays as the first major group led by singer Mark Sandman, who later became much better known as the frontman for the acclaimed alt-rock trio Morphine.
  • Blues-rock singer Beth Hart scored a #88 Hot 100 hit in 1999 with "LA Song (Out of This Town)". The song also made the top 10 on the Adult Top 40 chart and was a #1 hit in New Zealand. Although that was it for Hart as a singles artist, she has maintained a following in western Europe, with several of her albums charting well in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

  • Lauren Daigle is a mainstay on the Christian music charts. But to mainstream audiences, she is only known for "You Say" which peaked at #29 on the Hot 100 and went 4x Platinum.
  • Jars of Clay: This Christian alt-folk band had a massive crossover hit with "Flood" in 1996, reaching #37 on the pop charts and #12 on the Modern Rock chart, with their appearance on the latter chart being the first time the Modern Rock and Christian charts ever housed the same song at the same time. It's also been the only song of theirs to ever gain any sort of mainstream support.
  • P.O.D.'s "Youth of the Nation," a song inspired by the Columbine and Satana High School shootings, was their only hit on mainstream charts, reaching #28 on the Hot 100 in 2001. They narrowly missed having another Top 40 hit with their song "Alive" that same year: It peaked at #41. Although "Nation" was their only Top 40 hit, they're now remembered outside of the rock radio format as a Two-Hit Wonder for both it and "Alive".
  • Sixpence None the Richer reached #2 with their 1998 hit "Kiss Me" thanks to its appearance in She's All That. Their next single, a cover of The La's "There She Goes", peaked at #32 on the Hot 100, but it managed to go Top-10 on the AC charts. The band had one more noteworthy adult contemporary hit, "Breathe Your Name" in 2002, but it did not cross over to the pop charts. All their other followup singles flopped and are completely forgotten today.
  • DC Talk were one of the biggest names in Christian music in the late '80s and early '90s and won four Grammy awards over the course of their career. But only one of their songs ever crossed over to the non-religious charts: "Just Between You and Me", a Top 30 hit on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in 1996. While their most-well known song "Jesus Freak" had airplay on secular alternative radio (due to it's obvious Grunge influence), it didn't chart on the alternative charts at all, but was a top 10 hit... in the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.
  • Christian new wave singer Leslie Phillips had a ton of Christian chart hits in the mid-'80s, but by the end of the decade, she had transitioned into a secular Alternative Rock career by signing to Virgin Records and changing her stage name to Sam Phillips (her childhood nickname). Despite critical acclaim for several of her secular albums (she is also the composer for Gilmore Girls), she only scored one chart single on the Billboard Alternative chart: "Holding On To The Earth", which made it to #22 in 1989.
  • Zafra is a completely obscure Italian group founded in the '70s which specialized in ethnic music, folk and religious songs. However, pretty much every pre-schooler and young boy in Italy knows the song "I due liocorni" ("The Two Unicorns") which became a classic for kids in kindergartens, scout camps, summer camps and so on, so much so that it's considered some kind of traditional folk classic while in fact it was written in 1978. It's never credited to the original composers and the religious undertones (it's about the animals that Noah brought on the Ark) are downplayed. The song was also translated in several languages and, while not really popular outside of Italy, it's still several hundred times more known than anything else Zafra did.
  • Ocean is known almost exclusively for their 1970 gospel-pop song "Put Your Hand in the Hand". They had a few more minor hits in their native Canada, but nothing else left much of an impact there either.
  • The Kris Kristofferson composition "One Day at a Time" made a one-hit wonder out of four different artists within six years. First was Marilyn Sellars, whose 1974 version went top 40 on the Hot 100 and top 20 on the Hot Country Songs charts. A cover version by Irish singer Gloria (last name Smyth) one year later topped the Irish singles charts as part of a record-breaking 90-week run that stands to this day; simultaneously, Lena Martell had a #1 hit in the UK with her own version but never saw the charts again. Finally in 1980, Cristy Lane went to the top of the country music charts and #5 in New Zealand with her version.
  • Skillet are a huge name in both the Heavy Metal and Christian Rock communities, however, their only Hot 100 entry was "Awake and Alive", peaking at the chart's starting no. 100. Compare that to their Signature Song "Monster", which topped the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.
  • American Christian singer Krystal Meyers, who was essentially marketed as a Christian version of Avril Lavigne, complete with similar album art, had a huge hit in Japan with "The Way to Begin" in 2005. After two more albums, which produced further hits on the US Christian charts, but no more crossover hits, she faded into complete obscurity.
  • MercyMe are one of the most popular Christian Rock bands of all time. In 2003, they had an unexpected huge crossover hit with "I Can Only Imagine", which reached #71 on the Hot 100, #27 on the Adult Top 40, #33 on the Mainstream Top 40 and #5 on the AC charts. They didn't manage another crossover hit in the US afterwards, and they soon went back to catering to their traditional Christian audience.

  • Jimmy Boyd had a novelty hit in 1952 with the Christmas classic "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus". Between its novelty stigma and the fact that Boyd was 13 at the time, the song cannibalized his career. He had a moderately successful acting career afterwards but never captured the stardom he had with his megahit.
  • Rodney Carrington, known for his vulgar mix of stand-up comedy and Country Music, had a massive Black Sheep Hit in 2009 with "Camouflage and Christmas Lights", a completely serious song about soldiers celebrating Christmas. Although he has not released any more material to radio, he has continued to tour and record afterward.
  • Elmo & Patsy had a Christmas classic with "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer", first released in 1979, but nearly anyone would be hard-pressed to name any other release. Interestingly, Patsy isn't even on that song, so it's often just credited to Dr. Elmo. Despite its popularity (so popular that it even spawned an animated special), it never entered the Hot 100 until The '90s, and its highest peak on any chart was a mere #48 on Hot Country Songs in 1999. In Canada, the higher-charting version was a #20-peaking release by the Irish Rovers in 1982.
  • Jeff Foxworthy: Although the comedian best known for his "you might be a redneck" one-liners released several "songs" that included snippets of his comedy set to music (usually with a chorus from a country music singer), the only one that entered the country music top 40 was "Redneck 12 Days of Christmas" in 1996. Unlike his other single releases, it didn't sample existing stand-up routines or have a chorus by an existing singer; instead, it was a Solo Duet consisting entirely of original material, including a partial parody of "The 12 Days of Christmas". It also set a record for the highest-charting Christmas song on the country chartsnote .
  • Before he became better known as the original voice of Donatello, Barry Gordon had a #6 hit in 1955 with "Nuttin' For Christmas". He was only 6 at the time.
  • Bobby Helms will forever be known as the guy who did "Jingle Bell Rock". His other big hits "My Special Angel" and "Fraulein" have fallen into obscurity.
  • NewSong: "The Christmas Shoes" was a huge crossover hit (#1 AC, #42 pop, #31 Country), and they've been pretty silent outside their usual Contemporary Christian demographic ever since. Interestingly, a cover of "The Christmas Shoes" was also the only Top 40 country hit for the short-lived Girl Group 3 of Hearts one year later.
  • Gayla Peevey had her only hit in 1953 with "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas", which reached #24 on the Hot 100 when she was 10. She had a few later singles under her real name of Jamie Horton, but none were successful.
  • MC Einar was a pioneer of Danish hip-hop in the Eighties, but is almost only remembered for his Christmas hit Jul, Det' Cool, where he raps a sarcastic text about crappy weather, commercialization and forced Christmas cheer over a sampling of Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride. Sadly Einar never made any money from the song; it was intended for a one-time joke performance only, so he signed over the rights to Leroy Anderson's estate before the song became popular.
  • Song Trust, a project spearheaded by defunct independent Country Music label Giantslayer Records (which was owned by songwriters Rory Lee Feek and Tim Johnson), released a Christmas single under that name in late 2007. That song, "Bring Him Home Santa", was sung by an anonymous six-year-old girl, and proceeds from singles sales went to St. Jude's. Although other "Song Trust" material was released, none of it charted. Giantslayer folded in 2009 as Johnson died and Feek focused more on his work with his wife, Joey Martin Feek, in their duo Joey + Rory.
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra are a hugely successful album and touring act, but they've just had one major singles chart entry, with their Signature Song "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)". The prog-metal medley of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Carol of the Bells" made it to #25 on the adult contemporary chart, #29 on the Mainstream Rock chart and was certified Gold by the RIAA. It also charted at #49 on Billboard Radio Songs, a feeder chart into the Billboard Hot 100, but didn't make the Hot 100 proper. They've had a few other adult contemporary chart hits, but they've never had another song that's reached widespread popularity the way that "Sarajevo" has... though their 2004 track "Wizards in Winter" is well-known as the backing music for a massively memetic YouTube video of a Christmas light show created by a Cincinnati-area engineer in 2005.
  • Vince Vance & the Valiants are known almost entirely for "All I Want for Christmas Is You" (not to be confused with the Mariah Carey song), which is one of the most-played Christmas songs in the Country Music genre. They got a tiny bit of buzz beforehand for their "Barbara Ann" parody "Bomb Iran" in 1980, but they are not the only act to have done a parody of that name.

  • 18th-century Italian composer Tomaso Albinoni has the dubious honour of being considered a one-hit wonder for a piece he didn't even write. "Albinoni's Adagio in G minor", frequently used as the background music for Tear Jerker scenes in films and television, was in fact written in the 1950s by Italian composer Remo Giazotto, who claimed to have based the work on a manuscript fragment recovered in 1945 but could offer no proof of this claim.note  The Adagio therefore qualifies Giazotto as a one-hit wonder rather than Albinoni (whose works are mostly known only by Baroque music enthusiasts).
  • You don't know who Euphemia Allen is, but if you ever took piano classes, chances are you were taught to play Chopsticks. This little waltz song was her only work, which she composed in 1877, at the age of 16, under the pseudonym Arthur de Lulli.
  • Although American composer Samuel Barber is moderately well-known in the classical community for his violin concerto and Symphony No.1, he is mostly remembered for the Adagio for Strings, which started life as the slow movement of his String Quartet in B minor. To put into perspective how much the Adagio has overshadowed its parent work, there are over 250 recordings of various settings of the Adagio (mostly the string orchestra version, but the choral setting, using as its text the "Agnus Dei" from the Catholic Mass, is also frequently performed and recorded), and just over a dozen of the complete string quartet.
  • Georges Bizet wrote a massive amount of music in his short life, but much of it was lost and a significant amount of what remains was fiddled with by other composers to the point many musical scholars argue about how much of it is still Bizet's. Because of his tragically early death, the only thing he wrote that you're likely to hear today is Carmen.
  • Luigi Boccherini is mostly remembered solely for the Minuet in A major from his String Quintet in E major, Op. 11 No. 5, used prominently in such films as The Ladykillers among others.
  • If you have heard anything by Alfredo Catalani it is most likely the soprano aria "Ebben? Ne andrò lontana" from Le Wally, which was featured prominently in Jean-Jacques Beineix's 1981 thriller Diva.
  • Like his compatriot and contemporary Mouret, Marc-Antoine Charpentier is mostly known for a fanfare that has been adopted as a theme by a broadcasting organisation: the opening Prelude (Marche en rondeau) from his Te Deum in D major, used as the theme of the European Broadcasting Union and played before broadcasts of the Eurovision Song Contest, Jeux Sans Frontières, and any other programmes simultaneously broadcast across Europe by the EBU. Though he was very prolific, his other works are primarily known only to Baroque enthusiasts.
  • British composer Jeremiah Clarke, active around the turn of the 18th century, is today remembered mostly for writing the Prince of Denmark's March, nowadays a popular wedding tune and usually known incorrectly as Trumpet Voluntary. Making matters worse for him, it was long incorrectly attributed to Henry Purcell.
  • Today, French composer Paul Dukas is remembered mostly for writing The Sorcerer's Apprentice of Fantasia fame, although the fact that he was a fanatical perfectionist and destroyed or abandoned many compositions after he became dissatisfied with them means there is not much other music by which to remember him.
  • Julius Fucik is only remembered for his Entry of the Gladiators, the standard circus music.
  • The Danish composer Jacob Gade is only known for one work, the world-famous Tango Jalousie. Given that the royalties made him financially independent and allowed him to set up a handsome scholarship for young talented Danish musicians, he probably didn't mind much.
  • Benjamin Godard and his Lullaby (Angels Guard Thee), a popular tenor hit, originally from his opera Jocelyn.
  • Gustav Holst's most famous work by far is the great orchestral suite The Planets. It overshadowed his other compositions to the point where he himself came to resent it and flat-out refused to write an extra movement when Pluto was discovered in 1930.
  • Engelbert Humperdinck (the composer, not the singer) scored a great success with his first opera, Hansel and Gretel (1893). None of his later operas were anywhere near as successful, though the now-forgotten fairy-tale opera Königskinder was somewhat known in its day.
  • Ruggero Leoncavallo's only well-known work is the two-act opera Pagliacci, which is often paired with Cavalleria Rusticana in a one-hit wonder double bill. (The song "Mattinata" is relatively well known, as it was written for and a favorite of Caruso.), In fact, Leoncavallo is mainly known not just for the opera, but for one moment in it (the aria "Vesti la giubba").
  • The prolific composer, pianist and music publisher Henry Charles Litolff is today known mainly for his still existing music publishing business Collection Litolff - and for the bubbly scherzo from his Concerto Symphonique No. 4 in D minor.
  • Pietro Mascagni is really only well-known for his one-act opera Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry), which was also one of his first major works.
  • Soviet futurist composer Alexander Mosolov is almost exclusively known for his 1927 composition Iron Foundry, which was originally written for a now-lost ballet called Steel. Possibly because a one-year stay in the GULAG for "counter-revolutionary activities" and "hooliganism" in 1937-38 persuaded him to play it safe for the rest of his career.
  • Most of the works of French Baroque composer Jean-Joseph Mouret are not performed today. At least in the U.S., he's mainly known for the opening Fanfare-Rondeau from his first Suite de symphonies, used by PBS as the theme for the Masterpiece series (and also a popular wedding tune).
  • Leopold Mozart, the father of the more famous Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was an acknowledged musician and composer in his own right, but today only his Toy Symphony is played regularly. Worse, it was for many years incorrectly attributed to Joseph Haydn.
  • Otto Nicolai was a popular opera composer in his days, but only his last opera, The Merry Wives of Windsor after Shakespeare, is performed today, mainly in Germany. Outside the German-speaking world only the overture is sometimes heard. note 
  • Carl Orff is known mainly for one work, his cantata Carmina Burana — after its premier Orff himself told his publisher, "Everything I have written before can be destroyed." Indeed, he's known mainly for the Standard Snippet from this, the opening (and closing) cantus "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi: O Fortuna", although "Gassenhauer" is also pretty well-known.
  • Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D major is perhaps one of the most famous and frequently performed classical works. Though some of his organ works are popular with organists, the overwhelming majority of the general population, if they know him at all, only know the Canon.
  • Christian Petzold is known only for his Minuet in G, which, until the 1970s, was incorrectly attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach. A good part of that piece's fame comes from it being adapted into "A Lover's Concerto", a 1965 hit for Girl Group The Toys.
  • The only thing Amilcare Ponchielli is remembered for is "The Dance of the Hours" from his opera La Gioconda, which was both used in the original 1940 Fantasia and adapted by comedy singer Allan Sherman for his 1963 song "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh".
  • Emil von Reznicek wrote a multitude of works in almost every classical genre, but the only piece of his that is regularly played today is the cheerful overture to his comical opera Donna Diana.
  • Juventino Rosas died when he was only twenty-six and of a handful of works he wrote, most people would only know Sobre las Olas.
  • Author Claude Joseph Rouget, called Rouget de Lisle, wrote plays, songs, essays and so on, but with so little success that he ended up in debtor's prison for a time and his works are now forgotten. Yet there are many streets named after him, monuments were erected in his honour, and his body was transferred to the Dôme des Invalides. All because of one song he wrote and of which few people remember more than the first verse. It is entitled War Song for the Army of the Rhine, but became famous as La Marseillaise.
  • Out of his many compositions, French composer and pianist Erik Satie has only one very famous piece: the Gymnopédie No. 1, used as ambient music for nostalgic, quiet scenery.
  • The only known compositions by Paul de Schlözer is two small pieces for piano, one of which, Etude de concert Op. 1 No. 2 in A flat minor, is a brilliant and extremely difficult piece, that is often played as an encore. This, and the fact that very little is known about de Schlözer and his life, has given rise to the story that de Schlözer did not write the piece himself, but won the manuscript from the more well-known pianist and composer Moritz Moszkowski in a card game.
  • The most popular piece by far from the hand of the Norwegian pianist and composer Christian Sinding is his ''Rustle of Spring'', a perennial favourite among amateur pianists, beacuse it manages to sound virtuosic while still being within reach for the casual player.
  • Johann Strauss Senior suffered a fate similar to Leopold Mozart, being a talented and popular composer whose memory has been completely overshadowed by a more talented son. He is almost exclusively known today for his Radetzky-Marsch, which is always played at the end of the Vienna Philharmonic's New Years Day Concert.
  • The dance music of Émile Waldteufel is not entirely unknown, but his most well-known piece by far is The Skater's Waltz, a longtime Standard Snippet in film and television for winter landscapes and skating.
  • Although the works of French composer Charles-Marie Widor are popular with organists, most listeners probably only know the concluding Toccata from his Organ Symphony No.5 in F minor, Op. 42 No. 1, a popular recessional.

  • Benny Bell is known only for his song "Shaving Cream", which is basically "Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: The Song". He originally recorded it in the 1940s, but after it gained fame on Dr. Demento's show, it was reissued and charted at #30.
  • Mel Blanc was a legendary voice actor. He was also a one-hit wonder in 1951 when his song "I Taut I Taw a Putty Tat" hit #9.
  • The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band had an influential career as one of the first groups to mix comedy with rock music, and were associates of both The Beatles and Monty Python. Despite their influence, the band's only major hit was the Paul McCartney produced "I'm the Urban Spaceman", which reached #5 in the UK in 1968. The band never reached the Top 40 again, but band leaders Neil Innes and Vivian Stanshall both went on to long solo careers. Innes had an especially notable Breakup Breakout due to his collaborations with Monty Python (that's him as Sir Robin's lead minstrel in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and he also sings "I'm the Urban Spaceman" in the Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl concert film), and he also formed The Rutles with Eric Idle.
  • British pop/rock band Boys Don't Cry reached #12 in 1983 with their genre-hopping novelty song "I Wanna Be A Cowboy", and never troubled the charts again.
  • Barry Cryer is best known as a veteran comedy writer and performer who has been part of the British comedy scene - today, one of its elder statesmen - for the best part of six decades. What is less well known is that in 1957, he recorded a cover version of the novelty hit song Purple People Eater which bombed in Britain - but became number one in Finland. Barry never had another hit record. Anywhere.
  • Isaac Hayes is not a One Hit Wonder (despite most people recognizing only the theme from Shaft from his catalog), but his South Park character Chef became one when his "Chocolate Salty Balls (P.S. I Love You)" peaked at #1 on the UK singles chart and Irish charts in December 1998.
  • Joe Dolce, an American living in Australia and recording under the stage name The Joe Dolce Music Theatre, had a worldwide hit in 1980-81 with "Shaddup You Face", which reached number one in several countries including Australia, the UK and Belgium, was a Top 5 hit in several others and a minor hit in the US (where it also made Dr. Demento's year-end Funny 25). However, nothing else he made could even chart, let alone become a major hit, and he quickly faded into obscurity. "Shaddup You Face" is now particularly infamous in the UK because it kept Ultravox's much-acclaimed new wave ballad "Vienna" from reaching #1 on the UK Singles Chart.
  • Comedian Bill Engvall, like his friend Jeff Foxworthy, had some of his comedy routines mixed into songs, often with a chorus sung by a popular country artist or uncredited session vocalist. The only such recording that was a real hit was "Here's Your Sign (Get the Picture)", which remixed a series of "here's your sign" jokes off his debut album with a sung chorus by non-one-hit wonder Travis Tritt. The single peaked at #29 on the country charts and #43 on the Hot 100, representing his only big hit (although "Here's Your Sign Christmas", a parody of "Jingle Bells" with original comedy bits, got some seasonal airplay).
  • Comedian and late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon is well known for his musical comedy, but he's only had one bonafide chart hit to his name: "Ew!", a collaboration with that made it to #26 on the Hot 100 shortly after he introduced it on The Tonight Show in October 2014.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen, in character as Ali G, scored a UK #2 hit with the Shaggy collaboration "Me Julie", from the soundtrack of Ali G Indahouse. It remains his only entry onto the charts.
  • The Goodies: They had a string of comedy hit singles in the 1970s that were a natural spin-off from their TV comedy show. What makes them a one-hit wonder is the fact that their first single, "(Do, Do, Do) The Funky Gibbon", a parody of disco dance crazes, was initially taken as a straight song in the USA and made it into the lower reaches of the Dance and Disco charts... before they realized... it remains the boys' only American chart success.
  • Dickie Goodman was a Record Producer known for creating the "break-in" style of novelty recordings, wherein voice actors pose comedic questions that are "answered" through snippets of songs. Considered an early form of sampling, the technique was codified with Goodman's 1956 debut release "The Flying Saucer", where he and songwriter Bill Buchanan recount a flying saucer encounter through snippets of then-contemporary songs. Goodman continued to record well into The '80s in this style but was never able to fully replicate the success of his debut.
  • Merv Griffin. Known mainly as a talk show host, businessman, and the creator of the extremely popular game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! But as a singer, his only hit was the novelty song "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts".
  • Larry Groce, who is primarily a country, folk, and children's music singer, had a #9 hit in 1976 with the novelty song "Junk Food Junkie". Groce would later have a second claim to fame as the co-creator and long-time host of the NPR live music program Mountain Stage, which he hosted from its 1983 inception until 2021.
  • Screamin' Jay Hawkins is technically a No-Hit Wonder, but his 1956 song "I Put a Spell on You" has become a rock and roll classic. Since it's the only song of his still remembered today, he is often considered a one-hit wonder.
  • Ray Stevens is by no means a one-hit wonder, with multiple successful songs in both country and pop. But as The Henhouse Five Plus Too, he had his only Top 40 hit doing a cover of "In the Mood" entirely in chicken clucks.
  • Despite many of their songs becoming viral hits, the only Billboard Top 40 entry for comedy troupe The Lonely Island was "I Just Had Sex", which peaked at #30. Despite this, the song is probably one of their less remembered songs today, especially when compared to singles that didn't make the Top 40 like "I'm On a Boat", "Jack Sparrow" or "Everything is Awesome".
  • Liam Lynch, the co-creator of the surrealist sock-puppet comedy program The Sifl and Olly Show, had a hit in 2002 with "United States of Whatever". The song peaked at #32 on the Billboard alternative chart and was an even bigger hit in the UK, where it made it all the way to #10.
  • Steve Martin has increasingly dedicated his career to music since the 2000s, and has had some success in the bluegrass scene. But before that, he had a single mainstream hit with "King Tut" (from his stand-up album A Wild and Crazy Guy) in 1978.
  • Mancunian folk singer/comedian Mike Harding had only one British hit, with a spoof C&W song called The Rochdale Cowboy, about a seriously geographically confused cowboy living in Rochdale, England. Like many of the artists in this category, he's better known for his contributions outside the music scene, namely, for composing the theme tunes to Danger Mouse and Count Duckula.
    It's hard being a cowboy in Rochdale/Cos the spurs don't fit right on me clogs;''
    It's hard being a cowboy in Rochdale; 'cos folk all laugh when I ride past, on our Alsatian dog.''
  • Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, in character as their SCTV characters Bob and Doug MacKenzie, had a Top 20 US hit in 1982 with "Take Off". The recording was basically one long spoken-word sketch held together by a chorus sung by Geddy Lee. While both Moranis and Thomas subsequently had long and successful film careers, neither reached the pop charts again, in or out of character.
  • Morris Minor and the Majors: Their only big hit was the Beastie Boys parody "Stutter Rap (No Sleep Til Bedtime)". The followup, a Stock Aitken Waterman parody called "This Is The Chorus", did less well. In his book One Hit Wonderland, former member Tony Hawks explains that the first record sold to kids who wanted to wind up older siblings who listened to the Beastie Boys. The second record made fun of the music that said kids actually listened to, so it flopped. The group then had their own BBC sitcom, Morris Minor's Marvellous Motors, but it suffered from low ratings and only lasted one season.
    • The aforementioned One Hit Wonderland book charts Hawks' - who had become famous in the meantime for his comedic travel books - attempts to have a second hit. He succeeded...sort of. He wrote a tune called "Big in Albania", and roped in composer Tim Rice and comedian Norman Wisdom (who is beloved in Albania) to perform the song with him. For his troubles, Hawks was rewarded with a #18 hit in Albania in 2002. Humorously, for all his work, that only made him a one-hit wonder in two different countries with different songs, since "Stutter Rap" never charted in Albania.
  • Mr. Blobby from the TV show Noel's House Party had a UK Christmas number-one single with his eponymous song, beating out Take That (Band) for the spot, despite being dubbed one of the worst number 1 singles of all time. He did have a number 36 hit two years later with "Christmas in Blobbyland", but in hindsight, he is seen as a one-hit wonder.
  • Napoleon XIV: "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" was a number 3 hit on the Hot 100 in 1966. Not only couldn't he score another hit, but the song didn't even have a proper flipside. Instead, it was just "!aaaH-Ah ,yawA eM ekaT ot gnimoC er'yehT", which was just the song played backwards.
  • The Nutty Squirrels, perhaps the best known imitator of Alvin and the Chipmunks, had a hit in 1959 with "Uh Oh", a scat jazz song.
  • Japanese comedian Daimaou Kosaka, under the name Pikotaro, had his only chart action with "PPAP (Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen)", which charted at #77 in October 2016 thanks to Memetic Mutation. As a piece of trivia, "PPAP" is the shortest charting song in Billboard history, at just 45 seconds in length.
  • Pinkfong is a South Korean children's entertainment company that releases kids' media in several different languages. One of said songs, a rendition of the campfire song "Baby Shark", went viral and charted within top 40 of the Hot 100 in 2019. Given the unique circumstances, it is unlikely that they will ever chart again.
  • General Larry Platt made headlines in 2010 when he auditioned on American Idol with his unconventional self-penned composition "Pants on the Ground". The 62-year-old Platt was decades over the age limit for the show, and the response from the judges to the song was... mixed, to say the least. The song nonetheless became a meme; Platt soon released a version through rapper Mims' record label, and it reached #46 on the Hot 100. After "Pants on the Ground" faded from public consciousness, Platt never released another song.
  • The Portsmouth Sinfonia were an unusual British orchestra co-founded by legendary avant-garde musician Gavin Bryars that allowed anyone to join their ranks and specifically those with no previous musical experience whatsoever (or if they were already musicians, they were assigned an instrument completely unfamiliar to them). The group started as an experimental performance art ensemble, but eventually built up enough a following over the course of the 1970s to score a genuine UK Top 40 hit with "Classical Muddly", a parody of the then en vogue pop-classic medley craze. Shortly after its 1981 release, the Sinfonia disbanded.
  • The Rabbit Joint are a rock band whose only claim to fame is a novelty song about The Legend of Zelda. It is commonly considered a System of a Down song due to the Serj Tankian soundalike lead singer. When it turned out that it wasn't by them, interest in the group vanished.
  • In 2008, an anonymous group of UK EDM producers going under the name The Rickrollerz released a House Music cover of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" at the height of the Rickroll craze. It made it to #22 on the UK club charts, and turned out to be their only chart entry anywhere.
  • Rap trio Sporty Thievz had a #12 Hot 100 hit in 1999 with "No Pigeons", a parody of TLC's hit "No Scrubs". Their followup, a parody of Destiny's Child's "Bills, Bills, Bills" called "Can't Pay Your Bills" did not chart. In 2001, group member Marlon Bryant was killed by a drunk driver, and the group effectively stopped after his death.
  • Comedian Johnny Standley had a #1 hit in 1952 with "It's In The Book", a comedic analysis of Little Bo-Peep. It was his one and only recording to ever chart.
  • Teletubbies: Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, and Po sold over a million copies in the UK with "Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh!", narrowly getting beaten out to Christmas number 1 by "Too Much" by Spice Girls. They had no further hits.
  • Tenacious D only reached the Hot 100 once, when "POD" reached #84 on the Hot 100 in 2006. The song was the title theme to their feature film Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. While they only charted in the US, the comedic folk rock duo featuring famous actor Jack Black are well known for other songs and endeavors like their HBO series. "POD" was also one of two Top 40 hits for the duo in the UK, where they don't count for this trope. Interestingly, "Tribute", their best known song, wasn't a major hit in either the US or UK, but did reach the top 10 in Australia or New Zealand was their only major chart entry in either of those countries.
  • Tiny Tim reached number 17 on the Hot 100 in 1968 with his eccentric cover of the 1920s showtune "Tiptoe Through the Tulips", which highlighted his ukulele playing and unusual falsetto. Tiny Tim had two more Hot 100 entries in the late '60s, but never made the top 40 again. However, he remained famous for the rest of his life, appearing regularly on variety and talk shows until his death in 1996.
  • British Record Producer Henry Hadaway released an instrumental of "The Birdie Song" (more commonly known as the "Chicken Dance") in 1981 and credited it to The Tweets. The song went to #2 on the UK Singles Chart and no other material under this name ever charted.
  • Despite an influential career as a folk singer, Loudon Wainwright III had exactly one chart entry, with 1973's "Dead Skunk". Surprisingly, the song isn't even a Black Sheep Hit because he always had the propensity for throwing novelty songs onto his records.
  • Wisbey reached #27 in the UK in 2007 with his 37-second long novelty tune "The Ladies' Bras" after podcaster Danny Baker and BBC DJ Scott Mills campaigned their listeners to get it on the charts. Wisbey never charted again after that.
  • Sheb Wooley only had a single Top 40 hit on the Hot 100, when his novelty tune "Purple People Eater" topped the chart in 1958. Outside of that chart, he's been very successful in other areas: He had a #1 hit on the country chart in 1962 with "That's My Pa", and later in the decade, had a string of country hits under the name Ben Colder with parodies of other songs. He also had a long career as a Western actor, and had a supporting role on the show Rawhide. That's also his voice on the deathless Wilhelm Scream sound effect, recorded during the filming of the 1951 film Distant Drums.
  • Ylvis are a very successful comedy duo in their native Norway and even had their own television talk show for several years. In 2013, the duo released the single "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)" and saw it become a surprise viral hit around the world, including #17 in the UK, #6 in the US and #1 in Norway. Their followup single "Trucker's Hitch" only charted in Norway, and the duo has mostly focused on their television career since then.
  • The cast of the iconic British sitcom The Young Ones made it all the way to #1 in the UK in 1986 with a cover of Cliff Richard's classic "Living Doll" featuring Richard himself. The series had aired its last episode two years beforehand, but the cast reunited and collaborated with Richard - who was a running gag on the show, which was named after another of his hits - for the Comic Relief charity. The cast scored no further hits together.
    • Nigel Planer, in the guise of Neil, his hippie character from The Young Ones, reached #2 in the UK in 1984 with a cover of Traffic's psychedelic classic "Hole in My Shoe". The song's success was helped by both the popularity of the show at the time and Planer's self-aware appearance on Top of the Pops. The character's next single was another psychedelic-era cover, this time Tomorrow's "My White Bicycle", but it only reached #97.
  • John Zacherle, a famous television personality known for hosting a popular block of horror movies in the New York City and Philadelphia markets. He had a top ten novelty hit in 1958 with "Dinner With Drac". Although Zacherle released a few more horror-themed novelty singles and album, none of them charted.
  • Frank Zappa scored his only US Top 40 hit in 1982 with the #32 novelty song "Valley Girl", a duet with his daughter Moon Zappa that was also her only chart entry ever. Zappa is one of the best known and most commonly cited examples of a specific type of one-hit wonder: A legendary artist who notched just one pop hit, even though they are known for much more than that one song. Zappa was famous for his cult following, and he was even a well-known media personality for much of his life, and he did way better as an album artist and touring act instead of one reliant on singles. Apart from "Valley Girl", Zappa's only Hot 100 entries were "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow", which made #86 in 1974, and "Dancin' Fool", a #45 hit in 1979.

    Easy Listening 
  • Sweet People is the easy listening project of Swiss pianist Alain Morisod, whose only major hit was 1979's "Et les oiseaux chantaient", a recording of bird songs backed by a gentle synthesizer, strings and drums. The tranquil piece made it to #4 in the UK, #5 in Belgium and #4 in the Netherlands. Morisod continued to record under the Sweet People name into the 2010s, but never had another significant chart hit.
  • Mason Williams was a talented comedy writer who wrote many of the most memorable sketches on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and was briefly the head writer for Saturday Night Live. He was also a talented classical guitarist, and he showcased those skills on his lone hit in 1968, "Classical Gas".
  • Gheorghe Zamfir is the most famous pan flautist in the world, but despite his fame only had one major hit with "Doina De Jale", a traditional funeral song in his native Romania. His recording reached #4 in the UK in 1976 after it was used as the theme song to the BBC religious programme The Light of Experience. Despite that one hit, Zamfir remained a successful album act in the UK for decades afterwards.

    Film Scores 
  • David Foster had only one song reach the Top 40, the instrumental "Love Theme from St. Elmo's Fire" in 1985 at #15. Foster did enjoy more success on the adult contemporary charts, and in his native Canada, but he has made his greatest mark as a songwriter, arranger, and especially producer, with a total of 16 Grammys in those roles.
  • James Horner was one of the most highly regarded and best-known film composers of the 1980s, '90s, and 2000s. Excerpts from film scores rarely make the pop charts, but Titanic became such a phenomenon in 1997 and 1998 that Horner managed to do just that: His composition "Southampton" became a minor American radio hit in early 1998, making it to #22 on the adult contemporary chart, #39 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart and appearing on the chart that American Top 40 was using at the time. Horner never made the pop charts again after this.
  • Austrian musician Anton Karas had an enormous hit in 1950 with the "Harry Lime Theme" from the film noir The Third Man, a single release of which reached #1 in the US and became the first record to sell half a million copies. His other compositions are almost completely unknown outside a few devoted zither players.
  • In 1977, the year in which A New Hope kicked off the Star Wars mania that lingers to this day, composer John Williams' iconic "Star Wars (Main Theme)" was issued as a single. As performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, the single version got to #10 on the Hot 100. The LSO charted a second time with the main Superman: The Movie theme, but it only got to #81. The LSO remains one of the world's most respected symphony orchestras and still regularly record film scores, but they haven't touched the pop charts as a billed artist since the 1970s.
  • Hans Zimmer is an Oscar-winning film composer and a pioneer of electronic music. While he's had several hit albums with his film score soundtracks, he's only had one major chart single as a lead artist. "Spider-Pig", an offbeat 1-minute long choral piece he composed with arranger Michael A. Levine (uncredited on the single) for The Simpsons Movie, made it to #23 in the UK and #8 in New Zealand, and is the shortest song to ever make the Top 40 in either country. He's had a few low charting hits on the UK charts with some other film score excerpts, but none have come anywhere close to the Top 40.

  • Gale Garnett, a folk singer born in New Zealand and raised in Canada, had only one hit with the Grammy-winning "We'll Sing in the Sunshine", a #1 AC and #4 pop hit in 1964.
  • The Lumineers 2012/2013 hit "Ho Hey" reached #3 in the U.S. They haven't made the Top 40 since. They've been luckier as an album and genre chart band: Their debut album went platinum and its follow-up topped the album charts. In 2016, their song "Ophelia", which made it to only #66 on the Hot 100, was named the top song for the year on the Billboard Alternative chart.
  • Ralph McTell is only known for his song "Streets of London," as shown here. His follow up "Dreams of You" cracked the top 40 a year later, but stalled at #36.
  • British singer-songwriter Passenger (yes, it's just one guy) managed to cross the pond with the #5 smash hit "Let Her Go". He hasn't yet had another big hit in Europe, let alone North America. He can at least take comfort in his performance somewhat further South, though, with a couple of albums doing pretty well in Australia and New Zealand; "Anywhere" even reached #6 on the NZ charts.
  • Peter Sarstedt, with "Where Do You Go To, My Lovely" in 1969, as shown here. Follow-up "Frozen Orange Juice" did crack the top 10 later that year, but was not the hit its predecessor was.
  • Susan Aglukark, an Inuknote  from Manitoba, had a huge hit in Canada with the bilingual "O Siem" in 1995. The song was a crossover smash in Canada, reaching #1 on the country and AC charts, and #3 on RPM Top Singles. While she had a few other chart entries, most of them are very obscure now.
  • Danish guitarist Jorgen Ingmann is best known for his 1961 crossover hit "Apache" — and being one-half of the winning duo of the 1963 Eurovision contest.
  • Peter, Paul, and Mary are not one-hit wonders, but Paul Stookey was as a soloist with his hit "The Wedding Song".
  • Barry McGuire is known almost entirely for his 1965 Protest Song "Eve of Destruction". McGuire became a born-again Christian in The '70s and recorded a few albums of Christian music.
  • Although George Ezra is incredibly popular in his native U.K., his presence on the American charts was restricted to "Budapest".
  • The Brothers Four, a folk-rock quartet from Seattle, had a #2 hit with "Greenfields" and no other major hits.
  • The Village Stompers, a group from Greenwich Village who played what was described as "folk-dixie", had a number of hits in 1963-1965, but are today only known for "Washington Square", a #2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and a #1 on the Adult Contemporary charts in September 1963.
  • Bill Hayes scored a #1 hit in 1955 with a rush-recorded, rush-released version of the Davy Crockett (1954) theme "The Ballad of Davy Crockett". His follow-up stalled in the 30s and he never charted again. Hayes, who was more of a musical theatre and nightclub vocalist, never really focused on a recording career anyhow, and later shifted to acting, most famously in the longstanding role of Doug Williams on Days of Our Lives.
  • Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler had a huge crossover in 1966 with "The Ballad of the Green Berets", a patriotic song that was obviously drawn from his real-life experience as a soldier in the Vietnam War. It was a 5-week #1 smash on the Hot 100 and the biggest pop hit of 1966, as well as a #1 Easy Listening and #2 country hit. He charted only one other single, "The 'A' Team", but it has since been forgotten. Sadler later became a novelist before dying of a gunshot wound.
  • Asaf Avidan and the Mojos are a popular folk act in their native Israel, but their only hit outside of it was a 2012 remix of their 2008 song "One Day/Reckoning Song".
  • Finnish group Loituma became this thanks to Memetic Mutation. Their version of the Finnish folk classic "Ievan Polkka" ("Eva's Polka") from their self-titled 1995 album became a huge meme back in 2006 thanks to a random Russian LiveJournal user, who combined the scatting portion of the song with a brief looping clip taken from Bleach. So, "Leekspin" was born. Loituma even released a new single with the English title "Ieva's Polka" in 2006 to capitalize on the fad, but since the craze died down nobody cared anymore about them outside of Finland.
  • While there are many British artists who are stars in their home country, but only managed one hit in America, the reverse is true too. One such example of this is John Denver. In his native United States, Denver was one of the biggest music stars of the 1970s, with four #1 singles and a series of gold or platinum albums. Across the Atlantic in the UK, however, he only had one top 40 single: "Annie's Song", which went to #1 there in 1974. After that, he only had one other song ever hit the UK charts, when "Perhaps Love", a collaboration with famed opera tenor Plácido Domingo, made it to #46 in 1981. Several of his other songs, including "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and "Take Me Home, Country Roads", have since become more well-known in the UK following his death.
  • Canadian folk-pop group Walk Off the Earth had an international hit in 2012 when their cover of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" went viral - driven by its gimmick of five band members playing the song on the same guitar at the same time. The cover's novelty didn't translate into a career: While followup "Red Hands" was a minor hit on American adult alternative radio, the only other chart action they've seen since are a couple of low-charting singles on the Canadian Hot 100.
  • The country and folk duo The Civil Wars were one of the most buzzed-about bands of the early 2010s; Their 2011 debut album Barton Hollow was critically acclaimed, went Gold and won them two awards at the 2012 Grammys. While they were riding high on the success of the album, they got a Top 40 pop hit in early 2012 through a feature credit on fan Taylor Swift's song "Safe & Sound". But then the band's career came to a screeching halt: Due to creative and personal conflicts between its two members, the group effectively broke up while recording their self-titled second album. "Safe & Sound" ultimately wound up being their only entry onto the Billboard Hot 100, despite not being as well known as anything off their actual albums.
  • Canadian folk singer Indio scored a top ten hit on both the Canadian pop chart and the American alternative chart with his 1989 debut single "Hard Sun", which featured no less of an icon than Joni Mitchell on backing vocals. Then, just as the song was at the peak of its popularity, Indio more or less dropped off the face of the Earth. He had become disillusioned by the music industry and never recorded another album. The next time he popped up was in 2009 when he sued Eddie Vedder for changing the lyrics to "Hard Sun" in his cover version for the Into the Wild soundtrack.
  • Bruce Cockburn (pronounced "Co-burn") is highly regarded in the folk music world for his guitar playing and songwriting and has racked up several hits in his native Canada. Below the border in America, however, he's only had one hit single: 1979's "Wondering Where the Lions Are", which made it to #21.
  • The Irish Rovers have recorded for more than 50 years, but they only made an impact with the Shel Silverstein-penned "The Unicorn" in 1968. In Canada, they were slightly more successful with "Wasn't That a Party", credited as just The Rovers, but success was limited after that.
  • South African folk quintet Four Jacks and a Jill took their song "Master Jack" to #18 on the US pop chart in 1968. Their followup "Mister Nico" topped out at #98 and they never made the Hot 100 again, although they did have a few more Top 20 hits in South Africa.
  • The Springfields had several hits in their native UK, but just one became a hit across the Atlantic in the United States, when "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" made it to #20 in 1962. Interestingly, it failed to chart back home in Britain. A few years later, member Dusty Springfield left the band to start her own solo career and became a 1960s pop music icon.
  • Todd Snider's only chart hit came in 1993 with "Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues", a Bob Dylan-esque talking blues novelty tune about a grunge band that becomes huge when they decide to become "the only band that wouldn't play a note, under any circumstance." Despite being a Hidden Track, the song caught on with rock radio stations that played the very same bands it was lampooning and reached #31 on the Mainstream Rock Chart in late 1994. After that, Snider went back to his cult following. Two other tracks off the same album as "Blues" were Covered Up by Country Music singers: "Alright Guy" by Gary Allan, and "Trouble" by Mark Chesnutt.
  • The Spokesmen had a Hot 100 hit with "Dawn of Correction", their conservative, Vietnam War-defending answer to Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction". Like McGuire, it would be their only hit. Their cover of The Beatles’ "Michelle" also got significant airplay on WIBG, but was nowhere of a hit as "Dawn of Correction". Group members John Medora and David White were more successful as songwriters: they co-wrote Danny and the Juniors' "At the Hop" (White was a member of that group), Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me" and Len Barry's "1-2-3", among others.
  • Arlo Guthrie, the son of legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie, had his one and only significant hit with a railroad blues song, "City of New Orleans" in the fall of 1972, peaking at No. 18 on the Hot 100, No. 4 on the adult contemporary chart and being a minor country hit as well. "... New Orleans", written by Steve Goodman, was successfully covered in 1984 (in a much more upbeat arrangement) by Willie Nelson. That said, Guthrie — who like his father performed many socially conscious songs — was also well known for his 1969 composition and recording "Alice's Restaurant", an anti-Vietnam War protest song that also shines a light on the 1960s counterculture. As a song, "Alice's Restaurant" was a cultural phenomenon that was even turned into a feature film, but was completely unsuitable for single release because it was an 18 minute-long story song. Guthrie did try though, releasing the "Alice's Rock & Roll Restaurant" single which kept the song's chorus, removed the whole story and added three new verses that were about the actual restaurant, but it only made it to #97 on the Hot 100, and was his only other chart entry aside from "New Orleans".
  • The Rose Garden had a Top 20 hit in 1967 with "Next Plane to London" but were never heard from again. The songwriter, Kenny O'Dell, was also a one-hit wonder twice over; see the "Country" subpage.
  • Nizlopi, a British duo that performed a mix of indie folk and hip hop, scored a #1 hit in the UK with their song "JCB" in 2005. Their second single made it to #91 and after that, they never reached the charts again, and eventually broke up in 2020.
  • The Silkie took a cover of The Beatles' "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" to #28 in the UK and #10 in the US in 1965. The cover had input from the Fab Four themselves: John Lennon produced the single, Paul McCartney played guitar, and George Harrison contributed percussion. However, the band's further success in America was hampered when they were unable to obtain visas and permits in time for a scheduled tour of the country, forcing them to cancel those dates as well as appearances on both The Ed Sullivan Show and American Bandstand. Although the Silkie continued to perform for another three decades, they never had another chart entry anywhere in the world.
  • Newton Faulkner has enjoyed critical acclaim and had two chart-topping albums in the UK, but his only hit to date is the #7 "Dream Catch Me". He would later go on to have a #8 hit in Australia with "I Hate Mondays"; however, that song was written specifically for an Australian radio show and thus was never released in any other country.
  • Moms Mabley, best known as a comedienne and novelty musician, recorded a completely serious cover of Dion's "Abraham, Martin, and John" a year after the original. It was her only hit, and for many years it made the then-75-year-old Mabley the oldest artist to have a single on the Hot 100.
  • The Irish-Czech duo The Swell Season had a hit with "Falling Slowly" in 2008 from the film Once, in which they also starred. After the song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, it reached #61 on the Hot 100 and also peaked at #8 in Canada and #2 in Ireland. The duo never had another charting hit again, and only released one more album before disbanding in 2011.
  • Singer-songwriter Terry Cashman is a one hit wonder with three songs
    • First, Cashman and his musical partner Tommy West reached #22 on the Hot 100 in 1969 as The Buchanan Brothers with "Medicine Man (Part 1)". That name charted once more a few months later with "Son of a Lovin' Man", but it topped out at #61.
    • As Cashman & West, they made the Top 40 again with "American City Suite", a #27 hit in 1972. Again, they had one more Hot 100 hit later that year with the #59 entry "Songman" and never charted again as a duo.
    • Lastly, Cashman as a solo artist reached #28 on the adult contemporary chart in 1981 with his baseball tribute "Talkin' Baseball (Willie, Mickey & The Duke)". He had reached #76 on the Hot 100 with "Baby, Baby I Love You" in 1976, but "Baseball" remains his best known song. To younger generations, Cashman is probably best remembered for "Talkin' Softball", a parody of his own song that he recorded for the classic 1992 Simpsons episode "Homer at the Bat" to the point where Cashman often gets more requests to sing "Softball" at his concerts than the original. Cashman regularly records updates of "Talkin' Baseball" for specific teams with references to newer players and events, and the song remains a cult favorite with baseball fans.

  • Cameo had a massive crossover hit in 1986 with "Word Up!", which hit #6. While their direct follow-up "Candy" did manage to hit #21, it's virtually unknown to those outside their audience.
  • Cookin' On 3 Burners, a small Australian funk group, had their only chart action when "This Girl" was remixed by Kungs (also a one-hit wonder outside of a few European countries) and became a massive worldwide hit in 2016.
  • Eddy Grant: If you know any of his songs, it's likely "Electric Avenue", which was a #2 hit in the US and UK in 1982. His only other American Top 40 entry was the theme song to the movie Romancing the Stone in 1984, which faded into obscurity afterward. However, he had more hits internationally.
    • Before he went solo, Grant was the guitarist for the 1960s band The Equals, who were one of the few mixed-race British rock bands of the era. The band had several hits in the UK, but just one in the US: "Baby Come Back", which made it to #32 in 1968. Another one of their songs, "Police on My Back", is better remembered for the 1980 cover version by The Clash.
  • E.U. were one of the leading bands in Washington D.C.'s go-go funk scene of the 1980s, but only had one national hit despite their regional following. Their song "Da Butt" reached #35 on the Hot 100 and topped the R&B chart in 1988 after being featured in Spike Lee's film School Daze. The band would have two more top ten hits on the R&B chart but never made the Hot 100 again.
  • Technically, The Ides of March are a one-hit wonder with their 1970 hit "Vehicle" (#2), but in Chicago, they had other hits on local radio ("You Wouldn't Listen", "Superman", "L.A. Goodbye"). The Ides of March's lead singer and main songwriter (Jim Peterik) later joined Survivor.
  • Kentucky-based electro-funk group Midnight Star had several hits on the R&B charts, but their sole #1 "Operator", proved to be their only pop crossover at #18. Another tune, "Freak-A-Zoid", has also had some staying power, but it made it no further than #66 on the Hot 100. After the group disbanded, members and brothers Reginald and Vincent Calloway formed a duo of their own called Calloway. The group had a massive #2 pop hit with "I Wanna Be Rich", but their momentum dried up not long afterwards and they turned to production work.
  • Jean Knight had a #2 hit in 1971 with "Mr. Big Stuff" but none of her other singles took off. However, her 1985 cover of Rockin' Sidney's "My Toot-Toot" (see the Country subpage) was a big hit in South Africa.


  • The Dave Brubeck Quartet is one of the most influential and popular jazz groups of all time, but their only Top 40 entry was the classic "Take Five", a #25 hit in 1961. "Take Five" is often cited to be the best-selling jazz single of all time, and its parent Time Out album was the first jazz LP to sell more than one million copies, but they never reached the singles chart again for the rest of their long career.
  • Bill Chase was a jazz musician who had a cult following but never tasted mainstream success, tragically dying in a 1974 plane crash at 39. His only hit, recorded with his band Chase, was 1971's "Get it On". The song went to #24 on the Hot 100 in 1971 and is best known as the reason why T. Rex's contemporaneous hit of the same name was renamed "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" upon its release in the United States.
  • Boots Randolph's only Top 40 hit was "Yakety Sax" in 1963. The song was popularized through its use in The Benny Hill Show, and by extension, has become a tune used to automatically make anything funny.
  • King Pleasure (born Clarence Beeks), an early master of vocalese, is best known for "Moody's Mood for Love", a 1952 classic which added lyrics to James Moody's alto sax improvisation of "I'm in the Mood for Love" recorded in 1949.
  • Pat Metheny is an icon of the jazz fusion genre, has won 20 Grammys, and often rates highly on lists of the greatest guitarists of all time. He scored his only American Top 40 appearance in 1987, when "This Is Not America", a collaboration with David Bowie, made it to #32.
  • Country-pop band Restless Heart is no one-hit wonder, with multiple hits on the country, Hot 100, and AC charts. But their 1993 single "Tell Me What You Dream" was the only major chart entry for Canadian smooth-jazz saxophonist Warren Hill, who was credited for his solos and appeared in the song's music video. Being an instrumentalist, Hill was largely limited to his own genre after that.
  • Norah Jones scored a #30 Sleeper Hit with "Don't Know Why" in 2002. Released in January, by summer that year it had crossed over to Top 40 radio, was serviced to the Top 40 and Hot AC formats and caused her debut album Come Away with Me to top the Billboard 200, go Diamond (as in selling ten million copies) and sweep the Grammys. She never scored another Top 40 hit, though, and her success eventually cooled off after two more #1 albums. Her lack of mainstream chart success is primarily because her music isn't really fit for pop or rock radio, yet has massive appeal to adult contemporary and adult alternative audiences. Jones has had four #1 hits on the Billboard Adult Alternative chart ("Don't Know Why" was not one of them), and not a single one crossed over to the Hot 100.
  • Les and Larry Elgart had a successful run of big band albums in the 1950s and 1960s, both individually and as a duo, that featured their trademark "Elgart sound". Nowadays, they're only remembered as the originators of "Bandstand Boogie", the theme song of American Bandstand.
  • Spyro Gyra were one of the most popular jazz groups of the 1980s and were a major influence on the smooth jazz genre, but their only Top 40 hit was the instrumental "Morning Dance", which reached #24 in the US in 1979.
  • Gordon Haskell, a former vocalist for progressive rock legends King Crimson, scored a #2 hit in the UK during Christmas 2002 with his jazz ballad "How Wonderful You Are". The song's success was the result of heavy airplay on BBC Radio 2, and it remains the most played song in the history of that station. Despite the success of the song, Haskell had no further hits.
  • Bobby McFerrin had a #1 hit in late 1988 with "Don't Worry, Be Happy", the first a cappella song ever to reach the top of that chart. McFerrin had a long career as a jazz musician before and after, but he has never released any other singles. Since his only hit, he has remained popular in jazz circles and as an orchestral conductor.
  • Cannonball Adderley reached #11 on the Hot 100 in 1966 with the instrumental tune "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy". The song was written by Adderley's pianist Joe Zawinul, who would later go on to much success as the co-leader of the jazz fusion band Weather Report. As for Adderley, he never made the Hot 100 again, but he was a highly regarded saxophonist and best known for his work with Miles Davis; He shared saxophone duties with John Coltrane on Davis' legendary Kind of Blue album.
  • Nina Simone is a jazz icon and one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Despite her importance and popularity, she only had one Top 40 hit in the United States, when her cover of "I Loves You, Porgy" reached #18 in 1959. Five more Simone singles reached the Hot 100, including her legendary recording "I Got No, I Got Life", but none of them got any higher than #76. Simone was more successful as a singles artist in the UK, where four of her songs reached the top ten.
  • Esperanza Spalding was one of the most buzzed-about artists of the late 2000s/early 2010s, with her mix of jazz, neo-soul and indie rock stylings earning the interest of critics and the general public and leading to her gaining such high-profile gigs as the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Concert. She scored a #26 hit on the U.S. Billboard Adult R&B chart and a #21 hit on the Billboard Japan Hot 100 in 2012 with "Black Gold", riding off her victory for the Grammy for Best New Artist the previous year. The album it came off of, Radio Music Society, peaked at no. 10 on the Billboard 200. However that would be her last significant hit. She took four years off in-between her fourth and fifth albums to work as a supporting musician for other artists, and by the time of the release of her 2016 jazz rock-influenced comeback album Emily's D+Evolution, her career momentum had dried up completely. Emily's D+Evolution produced two singles, but neither charted anywhere, and a similar fate befell the one single from her 2019 album 12 Little Spells. Today, Spalding is solely remembered by mainstream audiences as "that jazz singer who Justin Bieber and Drake lost the 2011 Grammy for Best New Artist to", though she still retains popularity within jazz circles.
  • Hiroshima were known for their unique sound that meshed synthesized jazz fusion with traditional Japanese instruments like the koto. While the band's albums sold well, they only ever had one significant hit single, when their instrumental "One Wish" reached #20 on the Billboard adult contemporary chart in 1985.
  • Jazz fusion musicians Stanley Clarke and George Duke scored their only major pop hit with "Sweet Baby" which made it to #19 on the Hot 100 in 1981. While Clarke and Duke released three collaborative albums, none of their other singles made the Top 40. Clarke had been the bassist for jazz fusion group Return to Forever, a highly lauded album and touring band that scored no pop hits. Duke, a former keyboardist for Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, just missed out on having a solo Top 40 hit of his own, as 1982's "Shine On" stalled out at #41.

  • For 15 years, PSY has been one of the most popular musicians in South Korea, with such hits as "Bird", "Right Now", and "Champion". Overseas, he is best known for his smash hit song from 2012, "Gangnam Style", and pretty much nothing else. Although its 2013 followup "Gentleman" was a #5 hit on Billboard and has over a billion plays on YouTube, it fell off the charts almost immediately afterwards, and it's very unlikely that PSY will ever be known for anything else given the massively memetic nature of "Gangnam Style". 2014's "Hangover" (featuring Snoop Dogg) debuted at #26 before dropping off, while 2015's "Daddy" spent one week at #97.
  • 2NE1 is a very popular Girl Group in Korea, and K-Pop fans in the west, but are only known for "I Am the Best" outside their audience due to its use in western media (namely for being included in Dance Central 3, an episode of So You Think You Can Dance, and the commercial for Microsoft's Surface Pro 3.)
  • Wonder Girls became the first-ever South Korean artist to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 when their song "Nobody" made it to #76 in 2009. Although they were incredibly successful in Korea, and popular with Western K-pop fans before and after its release, it remains their only entry on any American singles chart.

  • Quite possibly the quintessential one-hit wonder is Los del Río, who you know as the duo who released the "Macarena" and absolutely nothing else. They were a well-known flamenco duo in their native Spain, and had been performing together since the early 1960s; the song was such a phenomenon that it made the two middle-aged singers incredibly wealthy within a few months. Although they never had a global hit again — not even charting in the Latin countries again — they've continued to record and perform to the present day. Additionally, it's not the original version that we all know and love. The well-known version is actually a remix by Miami-based DJ duo Mike "In The Night" Triay and Carlos de Yarza, credited on the single as The Bayside Boys, probably because it added English lyrics. The original version of the song also charted on the Hot 100, peaking at #23. A third version of "Macarena", called "Macarena Christmas" also hit the Hot 100 and went top 5 in Australia. There was also a knockoff cover version by Los del Mar at the same time, which proved to be their only hit. Finally, a Country Music-themed parody called "Macarena (Country Version)" was the only hit for The GrooveGrass Boyz (whose membership included funk bassist Bootsy Collins and an All-Star Cast of several popular bluegrass musicians). It also proved to be the only thing of note the Bayside Boys would be known for, and Triay died in 2012 after years of inactivity.
  • "Heaven" by Los Lonely Boys. They had two more minor chart entries on the AC and Adult Top 40 charts, but "Heaven" will forever be their defining hit.
  • Son By Four are a popular Puerto Rican salsa group, but their only hit in the English-speaking world was "Purest Of Pain," a remake of their Spanish song "A Puro Dolor", which reached #26 on the Hot 100 in 2000.
  • In 1999, German producer Lou Bega added lyrics to the mambo standard "Mambo No. 5" and created a smash: the song was a #1 hit around the world, including France, where it spent 20 weeks at the top (the only chart it didn't top was the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, but it still made #3 and was omnipresent in popular culture there). Bega was unable to follow up on his success. His next singles "I Got a Girl" and "Tricky, Tricky" were very minor hits in a few countries, and were nowhere as popular as "Mambo". His second album was a flop, and he was dropped by RCA Records shortly thereafter.
  • Enrique Iglesias is definitely not a one-hit wonder, but Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona, the two featured acts on his 2014 hit "Bailando", are one-hit wonders. Both acts have been fairly popular in their native Cuba and the latter later scored some hits on the Latin charts, but neither came close to the success of "Bailando" since.
  • Kaoma are only known for their 1990 hit "Lambada" and nothing else.
  • The Chakachas were a Belgian group of Latin studio musicians who were popular all throughout Europe, but only made a dent on the international charts with the 1971 instrumental "Jungle Fever".
  • Basque singing group Mocedades were entered into the 1973 Eurovision song contest with "Eres Tu — Touch the Wind". Although they finished in second, the song became a massive worldwide hit. Naturally, all further success was limited to Spain and Latin America.
  • In his native Spain, Miguel Ríos is one of the most revered musicians of all time. Internationally, he's only really known for his remake of "Ode To Joy", titled "A Song of Joy", which hit #14 on the Hot 100.
  • Argentinean fusion rock group La Mosca Tsé-Tsé exists since 1995, but the only song of theirs that was a success outside their country borders was "Para no verte mas", which gained good airplay in 2000.
  • Santana isn't a one-hit wonder by any means, but R&B duo The Product G&B is known solely for providing the vocals of the 10-week chart-topper "Maria Maria". Their only other top 40 was a feature on "Got To Get It", a minor Sisqo hit released around the same time.
  • Brazilian guitar duo Los Indios Tabajaras only had one hit in America — a version of "Maria Elena".
  • Shakira is not a one-hit wonder, but some of her collaborators have been:
    • "La Tortura" was the sole American hit for Latin singer Alejandro Sanz, although he's a big deal on the genre charts and south of the border.
    • Freshlyground are an iconic folk band down in South Africa, but otherwise are only known for singing backup on "Waka Waka".
    • "Loca" provides a double example. The Spanish version is the only hit of El Cata, a Dominican singer, who while popular in his homeland, never quite made it big elsewhere. He had another later hit collaboration with Shakira with "Rabiosa", but it didn't chart on the pop side. Meanwhile, the English version was the only American hit of Dizzee Rascal, a British rapper who is certainly not a one-hit wonder in his homeland. Strangely enough, the song was never released in the UK.
  • The Blackout All-Stars, a one-off supergroup consisting of several veteran Latin musicians, scored a Top 30 hit on the Hot 100 in 1996 with their cover of Pete Rodriguez' "I Like It Like That". The cover had been recorded two years prior and it had a spike in interest due to its use in a Burger King ad. The recording was also the first and only time that legendary Latin jazz drummer Tito Puente ever ventured into the US Top 40.
  • Gerardo had a hit in 1991 with the Latin-rap song "Rico Suave". While "We Want the Funk" was also a top 20 hit, it was quickly forgotten.
  • Puerto Rican boy band Menudo were stars throughout Latin America in the 1980s, but had just one Hot 100 hit in the United States with the English-language #62 entry "Hold Me" in 1986. The band is better known now for its rotating lineup of members who were removed from the band when they either turned 16 or grew too tall, and for being the former group of hitmaker Ricky Martin.
  • Spanish girl group Las Ketchup is best known for its novelty pop song "The Ketchup Song (Aserejé)" was a huge international hit, reaching #1 in 25 countries (a major exception being United States, where it only reached #54). Subsequent singles from the group didn't reach the same level of success as they had with "Aserejé" though.
  • Luis Fonsi is by no means a one-hit wonder in Spanish-speaking countries or on Latin music sub-charts; in fact, he is easily one of the most successful Puerto Rican artists of all time. That being said, he's only had one major hit of note outside of those countries or sub-charts, that being his 2017 smash hit collaboration with Daddy Yankee, "Despacito". This led Justin Bieber being brought in to add his vocals to a remix, and in turn, it became a global #1 smash; in the U.S., its 16-week run at the top of the Hot 100 tied with "One Sweet Day" as the longest-reigning #1 hit in the chart's history before "Old Town Road". While Fonsi is still a popular artist, he's unlikely to have another hit worldwide since non-English hits are rarely that successful.
  • J Balvin isn't a one-hit wonder especially in the reggaeton scene, but his 2017 smash hit "Mi Gente" featuring producer-singer Willy William topped many charts worldwide and reached #19 in the US Hot 100, which was then upgraded to a #3 thanks to the remix with Beyoncé. While he has kept mild success in his native France and some European countries, the novelty of "Mi Gente" being highly associated with Willy William renders him unlikely to ever have another mainstream hit.
  • Panamanian producer El Chombo got to #20 in the UK in 2006 with his song "Chacarron Macarron" featuring vocals from Andy's Val Gourmet. The song became a hit because of its novelty appeal, as Val Gourmet's vocals were nonsensical gibberish that he laconically mumbled, and it charted after becoming a meme on YTMND. El Chombo never had another UK hit, but he became a one hit wonder in the U.S. with the more straightforward "Dame Tu Cosita" in 2018. El Chombo has since become arguably better known for his podcast, while Andy's Val Gourmet has pretty much languished in complete obscurity.

  • Edwin Eugene Bagley wrote many marches, but he's most well known for National Emblem, probably the most famous American march not written by John Philip Sousa.
  • "Under the Double Eagle/Unter dem Doppeladler" by Joseph Franz Wagner. Even martial music buffs would be hard pressed to name another piece by him. The encyclopedic Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians can, but just the one.

  • During his lifetime, Scott Joplin's one and only hit was his 1899 breakthrough "Maple Leaf Rag", though he continued to write and publish rags until his death in 1917, always marketed as being "from the composer of the Maple Leaf Rag". (He also attempted to branch out into more "serious" music by writing a couple of operas, but these were even bigger failures than his follow-up rags.) In retrospect, thanks to his music being featured in The Sting and the subsequent ragtime revival of The '70s, a much larger library of his work has become remembered by modern audiences, including one of his lesser works, "The Entertainer", even supplanting the "Maple Leaf Rag" in the popular consciousness. (His operas remain niche works, but have been staged and are appreciated for their ambition at a time when Joplin's race was an impediment to being taken seriously as a "legitimate" artist.)
  • In 1974, composer Marvin Hamlisch took a cover of Joplin's "The Entertainer" - from his score for the aforementioned The Sting - to #3 on the Hot 100. Although Hamlisch is an American music icon, being the rare example of a PEGOT (winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony in addition to his 1975 Pulitzer Prize), he never again made the pop charts.

  • Big Mountain are known entirely for their cover of Peter Frampton's "Baby, I Love Your Way", which was an international smash in 1994.
  • Ini Kamoze topped the Billboard charts in 1994 with "Here Comes the Hotstepper". His follow-up single "Listen Me Tic" made it to just #88 and he never charted again after that.
  • Snow topped the Billboard charts for a whopping seven weeks in 1993 with his Reggae meets Hip-Hop song "Informer", and became the best-selling reggae song of all time despite the fact that nobody could understand what he was saying. While his follow-up "Girl I've Been Hurt" charted in the Top 20 (peaking at #19), it's widely considered to be a Creator Killer. All songs since then have failed to chart at all (“Everybody Wants to Be Like You” actually did better in his native Canada seven years later but is forgotten even there). The fact that Snow was in jail at the time it was released, and couldn't actually leave Canada to tour the world at the height of his popularity, certainly didn't help. Also featured in the song was a producer and old-school rapper MC Shan, who contributed a guest rap verse that. 2019 would later see Snow featured on Daddy Yankee's "Con Calma", itself interpolating "Informer". The song would become a massive hit in many countries and a moderate hit in the U.S., but Snow being a featured artist, and the fact it was directly based on the song that made him famous in the first place, doesn't disqualify him from one-hit wonder status.
  • Nina Sky, a female duo consisting of identical twins from New York, had a #4 hit in 2004 with "Move Ya Body". That was also their only song to chart on the Hot 100, not counting a guest's appearance on N.O.R.E.'s #12 "Oye Mi Canto", which wasn't their hit and is mostly forgotten today outside of reggaeton fans; thus it doesn't disqualify their status as a one-hit wonder. By extension, Jabba the featured artist on the song is also a one-hit wonder.
  • MAGIC!, a Canadian reggae group fronted by well-known songwriter Nasri Atweh, hit #1 for six weeks in 2014 with "Rude", but a massive backlash against the song and the band took place almost immediately afterward. Thus, MAGIC! never even hit the Bubbling Under charts with any of their other songs. Only thirteen other artists can claim such a dubious honor. And given the fact that "Rude" was so left-field a hit, they're unlikely to ever chart again (although their followups managed modest success in their native Canada).
  • OMI had a massive chart-topping hit in the summer of 2015 with a remix of his 2012 song "Cheerleader", which topped numerous charts including the United States. However, it was seen as too much of a left-field novelty for consistent success and OMI had no public image whatsoever. His follow-up "Hula Hoop" flat-out bombed in most countries (Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Australia, Austria and Belgium being the exceptions; in the U.S. it missed the entire Hot 100), and his album Me 4 U only debuted at #51, making it one of the lowest-selling albums to ever house a #1 hit; and that's not even taking into account that the peak was inflated by streams and single sales (most of which came from, unsurprisingly, "Cheerleader" itself), when otherwise it would've completely failed to hit the top 100. His third single, "Drop in the Ocean" (featuring fellow one-hit wonder AronChupa) bombed everywhere (even harder than "Hula Hoop"). In fact, Felix Jaehn, the DJ behind the remix, has fared far better than OMI, having scored a massive European hit of his own with his cover of Rufus and Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody (Loves Me Better)", and has quickly climbed up the electronic music scene. That being said, Jaehn remains a one-hit wonder in the U.S.
  • Kevin Lyttle managed a #4 hit in 2004 with "Turn Me On". It was his only ever entry on the Hot 100.
  • While R. City are successful songwriters, the Virgin Islander sibling duo had their first bonafide hit as musicians with 2015's "Locked Away" (featuring Adam Levine), which went Top 10. However, since Adam Levine is the reason it charted, it's mostly associated with him and/or misattributed to his band. Given how "well" this situation worked out for Mark Ronson (see the pop subpage) and being yet another act in the Nico & Vinz/MAGIC!/OMI mold, combined with the fact that R. City doesn't have any following in the mainstream and that their album What Dreams Are Made Of was released to little fanfare, it was hardly surprising that their next single "Make Up" made no noise on the charts, and thus they have next-to-no chance of ever scoring a successful follow-up.
  • Although Michael Franti of Michael Franti & Spearhead had a few minor hits in the U.K. in the 90s, most people in North America probably can't name anything he's done besides his 2009 #18 hit "Say Hey (I Love You)".
  • UK group Hotshots had their only hit in 1973 with a ska version of "Snoopy vs. The Red Baron". The original version by The Royal Guardsmen had also been their only big hit a few years earlier. The sequel song "Return of the Red Baron" scraped the top 40 a few months later.
    • While in the US, the Guardsmen are remembered pretty much only for "Snoopy vs. The Red Baron," both "Return of the Red Baron" and the non-Snoopy related "Baby Let's Wait" (a Covered Up version of a song originally recorded by The Rascals) were top 40 hits there. The song "Snoopy's Christmas," however, is also fondly remembered (had Billboard not restricted Christmas songs to a separate chart in The '60s, "Snoopy's Christmas" probably would've given them a second Top 10 hit).
  • Despite being one of the most influential and important artists in Jamaican music, Desmond Dekker only managed a single Top 40 hit in the US, with his classic 1968 single "Israelites". The song is considered to be one of the earliest hits in the then-nascent reggae genre. Dekker had several other hits in the UK.
  • Musical Youth had an international smash in 1982 with "Pass the Dutchie". The song topped the charts in several countries around the world and made the Top 10 in the United States. While the band racked up several other hit singles in their native United Kingdom and neighboring Ireland, "Dutchie" was their only hit in the United States or Canada.
  • Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers scored their only major international pop hit in 1988 when "Tomorrow People" made it to #39 in the US and #22 in the UK. At the same time, Ziggy and his siblings and bandmates Stephen, Sharon, and Cedella became the first members of the Marley family to ever have a Top 40 single in the US; Their legendary father Bob got no further than #51, and their brother Damian would only manage to reach #55 when his own career took off in the mid-2000s. Despite having no further pop success, both Ziggy and Stephen have remained superstars in the reggae world.
  • Wayne Wonder has been recording since the late 1980s, but his first hit didn't come until 2003, when "No Letting Go" charted all around the world, including #11 in the US and #3 in the UK. His follow-up "Bounce Along" was only a hit in the UK and he hasn't made any chart since.
  • Teenage Jamaican duo Althea & Donna went all the way to #1 in the UK in 1978 with their single "Uptown Top Ranking", following airplay on John Peel's radio show. The duo's next two singles did not chart, and neither did their only album.
  • Shaggy is not a one-hit wonder by himself, but both of his #1 hits feature one-hit wonders:
    • "It Wasn't Me" features Jamaican-English singer Ricardo "RikRok" Ducent, which was also a #1 hit in the UK and the year's top-selling single there. Nothing else he put out made a dent.
    • "Angel", which sampled Steve Miller Band's "The Joker" and Juice Newton's "Angel of the Morning", featured Barbadian singer Rayvon. Rayvon and Shaggy also collaborated on a cover of Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime" six years prior, but it was only issued as a B-side.
  • Matisyahu scored a #28 Hot 100 hit in 2006 with "King Without a Crown", a rare instance of a reggae song crossing over to pop from alt-rock radio. The song's success helped make Matisyahu one of the most talked-about new artists of that year, in part because he was a devout follower of Hadisic Judaism performing hip-hop and rock-influenced reggae, and that unique mix of styles and influences helped him stand out. While he had a few more alternative hits after "King Without a Crown", he never made the pop Top 40 again.
  • The Bodysnatchers, an all-female ska band signed to the influential 2 Tone label, scored their only UK Top 40 hit with "Let's Do Rock Steady", which reached #22 in 1980. The group only released two more singles after that and never issued a full-length album before disbanding in 1981. Lead singer Rhoda Dakar later joined The Specials, and scored a hit with them with "The Boiler", a song the Bodysnatchers had written and performed live but had never recorded. The rest of the Bodysnatchers formed the Belle Stars, who are listed on the Rock page for their cover of "Iko Iko" (Their only American hit, although they had several others in the UK).

    Spoken Word 
  • In 1974, Canadian broadcaster Gordon Sinclair penned a commentary piece called "The Americans", which was read on-air on the Windsor, Ontario station CKLW by fellow broadcaster Byron MacGregor. Due to the positive reception of the commentary, MacGregor's version was issued as a single, accompanied by an instrumental recording of "America the Beautiful". It reached #4 and he never saw the charts again. A recording by Sinclair was also issued, this one featuring "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" instead; it was also a minor hit, reaching #24, but he never saw the charts again either.
  • Wink Martindale had a big hit in The '50s with his take on T. Texas Tyler's spoken-word standard "The Deck of Cards", about a soldier who uses ordinary playing cards as a means of religious symbolism (with a famous Narrator All Along Twist Ending). Martindale never had another chart hit, but he later made his living as a TV host, most notably for the game show Tic-Tac-Dough.
  • In 1971, disk jockey Tom Clay recorded "What the World Needs Now Is Love/Abraham, Martin, and John", which was more of an audio montage than a music piece, combining Clay asking children to define words like "bigotry", clips of the two hits (albeit sung by studio vocalists), and sound bites of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and other important '60s icons. It got to #8, but Clay's follow-up releases in a similar vein never charted.
  • Also from 1971, Les Crane released a narration of the spiritual poem "Desiderata" with orchestral accompaniment. The poem, which was thought to be hundreds of years old, was actually written in 1927 by a little-known Indiana lawyer named Max Ehrmann (thus making him a One Hit Wonder as well), and after a lawsuit, his family got royalties from the song. Crane's accompanying album, featuring recitations of both existing and original poetry, won him the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album. Crane was far more popular as a radio and television broadcaster but never recorded again; he eventually moved into the software business.
  • During the heat of the 1972 Presidential Election, a novelty group called The Delegates was formed to create the record "Convention '72." It consisted of a fictional convention between the many Presidential candidates of the year, depicted via snippets of popular songs of the time in the "break-in" style popularized by Dickie Goodman.
  • Australian film director Baz Luhrmann is credited as the artist of the 1998 hit "Everbody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", but it's an (understandable) misconception that he is the performer on the track. The actual narrator on the track is voice actor Lee Perry, who reads Mary Schmich's "Wear Sunscreen" essay (aka "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young"), which was sort of the Desiderata of The '90s and one of the earliest World Wide Web viral sensations . Luhrmann was merely the producer of the song and the person who came up with the idea of setting the essay to music - namely, "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)", featured in one of Luhrmann's movies. The single was a massive international hit, but Luhrmann went back to directing immediately afterward.
  • In 1967, then-Senate Majority Leader Everett Dirksen scored a Top 40 hit with "Gallant Men" a recitation of a patriotic poem he had written backed by music. He was the first sitting United States Senator to score a pop hit. Although Dirksen recorded several spoken word albums, "Gallant Men" was his only chart entry before his death in 1969.
    • Around the same time, comedian Bill Minkin created an impersonation of him as Senator Everett McKinley alongside a Robert F. Kennedy parody called Senator Bobby and recorded a single featuring two covers of the Troggs' "Wild Thing", with the Kennedy impression on one side and the Dirksen impression on the other. With the Bobby version getting lead billing, "Wild Thing" also went top 40.
  • Veteran radio broadcaster Victor Lundberg had a Top 10 hit in 1967 with "An Open Letter to My Teenage Son", a patriotic, and often histrionic, pro-Vietnam draft monologue that contrasted sharply in tone with the rest of the Top 40 in the week that it peaked on the Billboard Hot 100. No less than eight response records were made, including one by Dick Clark. Lundberg never returned to the charts after the single's run,
  • Andy Griffith was an incredibly famous actor, but his only chart hit was his 1953 monologue "What It Was, Was Football".
  • John Cooper Clarke is one of the most famous performance poets in the UK, known for his punk rock delivery style and strong affiliation with the Manchester post-punk scene. Despite his fame, he only managed one Top 40 single in the country, "Gimmix! (Play Loud)", a #39 entry in 1979.
  • 2NU, so named for the fact that they were "too new" to even have a name when their one hit was getting airplay, only charted once in 1991 with "This Is Ponderous," a bizarre hybrid of dance pop, sampling and deadpan, free-verse spoken word lyrics about a guy having a weird dream. It peeked at #44 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was briefly a staple of The Dr. Demento Show, but neither their second single, "Spaz Attack," or their full-length LP, Ponderous, charted.
  • Writer and performance artist Meryn Cadell scored a Top 40 hit in his native Canada and got to #24 on the Billboard alternative chart with "The Sweater" in 1992. Cadell released a few more albums during the '90s, but had retired from the music business by the end of the decade, and he is now a creative writing professor.
  • Telly Savalas was a television and film icon best known for playing the title role on Kojak, but he also had a career as a spoken word artist on the side. In 1975, he made it all the way to #1 in the UK with a cover of Bread's "If". A followup cover of The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" failed to make the Top 40, peaking at #45, and that was hit last UK chart entry. In 1981, Savalas had a European hit with a cover of Don Williams' country hit "Some Broken Hearts Never Mend", which topped the charts in Switzerland and made the top 5 in the Netherlands and Austria, and was his only hit in those countries. Of course, Savalas had a long career as a television and film legend before and after his hits.

  • Boulder, Colorado-based group The Astronauts had only one charted hit with "Baja", which reached #94 for one week in July 1963. None of their other singles charted and only the first of their nine albums charted (Surfin' with the Astronauts, which featured "Baja", at #61).
  • "Pipeline" by The Chantays. This surf-rock classic won them the #4 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and an appearance on The Lawrence Welk Show (of all shows!), but none of their follow-ups charted.
  • The Frogmen had their only hit with "Underwater", a proto-surf instrumental which reached #44 in 1961. It was the biggest hit Candix Records ever had; the release that label is better known for these days, The Beach Boys' debut "Surfin'", only reached #75 in early 1962, and it and "Underwater" were the only nationally charting hits of the short-lived label.
  • The Rivieras are known almost solely for the widely covered "California Sun", which was a cover of Joe Jones (see the R&B page).
  • The Rumblers had one minor hit in 1963 with "Boss", which peaked at #87 in February 1963. All of their other releases failed to chart.
  • The Rip Chords are pretty much known only for "Hey Little Cobra", a #4 hit in February 1964 which featured Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher as uncredited vocalists. A couple of non-surf singles which didn't feature Johnston and Melcher had previously charted, but most of the attention the group gets nowadays outside of "Cobra" is for their other surf and hot-rod songs featuring the duo, which also recorded as "Bruce and Terry".
  • "Wipe Out" by The Surfaris, which managed to chart thrice on the Billboard Hot 100: #2 in August 1963, #16 in July 1966 and #110 in August 1970. The follow-up, "Point Panic", did chart at #49, but that one is largely forgotten outside the surf rock fanbase.
  • The Trashmen, a surf rock band from Minneapolis, had two top 40 hits, the #4 "Surfin' Bird" and the #30 "Bird Dance Beat", but today are remembered only for the former, especially due to its constant usage in Family Guy. Younger audiences have forgotten that it was even a hit rather than a Seth MacFarlane original or an obscure song he dug up, or that it was memorably used two decades earlier in Full Metal Jacket.

    Swing Revival 
  • "Zoot Suit Riot" by Cherry Poppin' Daddies, released in 1998. It's their best-known song, having peaked at #32 on the U.S. Billboard Top 40 Mainstream, and hit the top 20 of the Modern Rock and Adult Top 40 charts. It just barely missed the top 40 of the Hot 100, however.
    • This song is an interesting example because first and foremost, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies were a ska band. They did occasionally wander into swing and jazz on their albums here and there, but "Zoot Suit Riot" is probably among their most swing influenced songs. It originally appeared as a new song on Zoot Suit Riot, a compilation of all the swing-oriented songs that had appeared on their other albums. When the song became a hit, so did the album, and now they're identified as apart of the Swing Revival fad forevermore.
  • The Squirrel Nut Zippers were a similar case. Their musical style was more diverse than just "swing revival", but their one hit, the top 20 rock hit "Hell", ended up associating them with the genre.
  • Italian Nu-Jazz duo Gabin had a hit in 2002 with their single "Doo Uap, Doo Uap, Doo Uap". They still exist and a couple of their songs were used in films such as Fantastic Four, but none of their other songs gained the same acclaim and recognition.

    World Music 
  • After having struggled in the Israeli pop music scene for nearly a decade, rocker Haim Zinovich felt that nobody would ever take him seriously, and effectively disappeared by the end of the '90s. In 2000, an Israeli talk show announced that they have booked a singer with a very unusual backstory: he was a man who lost the use of his legs and nearly burnt to death when his house caught on fire. Dubbing himself HaSaruf, or the Burnt Man, his debut single "Hevel HaChen, Sheker HaYofi" was an instant hit on Israeli radio, and Israelis rushed out to buy his mysterious debut album. After his big television appearance, HaSaruf unmasked himself to reveal that he was Zinovich in disguise all along. The ploy worked big time, as his album sold over 400,000 copies, becoming one of the best selling in the country's history, and "Hevel HaChen" was named the fifth-biggest hit of 2000. Unfortunately, his popularity waned considerably afterwards as the novelty had worn off; although he had a few more minor hits and released one more album under the HaSaruf name, they failed to live up to the success of his debut, and the project was shelved not long after. Zinovich and his songwriter Tomer Biran then started to make dance-funk music together under the name "Zino & Tommy"; while their music made appearances on The Sopranos and in several hit movies like Click and RV, they never really sought getting hit singles in Israel or anywhere else.
  • Legendary South African singer Miriam Makeba's only American hit was her signature smash "Pata Pata", which reached #12 in 1967, ten years after she first recorded it. The song became one of the most famous "world music" songs of all time and ultimately became a Standard Snippet for African pop music as a whole.
  • Israeli pop singer Ofra Haza had a surprise worldwide hit in 1988 with her dreamy update of the 17th century Hebrew poem "Im Nin'alu". In addition to being a smash all across Europe (including reaching number one in four countries), it was also a Top 20 hit on the Billboard Modern Rock charts in the United States. It was also Haza's only hit outside of Israel.
  • Canadian Celtic singer Loreena McKennitt scored a Top 20 hit on both the Hot 100 and the alternative chart in 1997 with a remixed version of her song "The Mummers' Dance". Although this was the only time one of her singles made the American charts, she's continued to have a strong cult following, and she has three Gold-certified albums.
  • Hawaiian ukuleleist Israel Kamakawiwoʻole recorded his medley of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World" in 1990, but it did not become a hit until after his death in 1997. His unique interpretation of the songs picked up a considerable following over the years, and the medley found its way into several film soundtracks. It slowly became a hit around the world, making it to #22 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in 2004 and #1 in France in 2010. It's been Kamakawiwoʻole's only charting single, and despite never making the Hot 100, it's been certified quadruple platinum for four million sales in the United States alone.
  • The Nigerian highlife group Prince Nico Mbarga & Rocafil Jazz only had one major hit, 1976's "Sweet Mother", but it was a big one: The 10 minute-long single is reputed to have sold 13 million copies and is one of the best-selling recordings in world history, despite being largely unknown outside of West Africa.
  • British DJ Panjabi MC and Indian singer Labh Janjua scored an international hit in 2003 with a remix of their 1999 electro-bhangra single "Mundian To Bach Ke" that included a newly recorded guest verse from Jay-Z. The song went to #33 in the US, #5 in the UK, and #1 in Italy, Belgium and Greece. The remix also helped to continue the Bhangra fad in American hip-hop that was kick-started by Missy Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On". Panjabi MC's follow-up single "Jogi" was a hit in a couple of other countries, but not in the US or UK. Janjua, who was uncredited on the remix despite being the vocalist, had no further international hits before his death in 2015.
  • Afro Celt Sound System, an eclectic group formed as a collaboration between Irish and West African musicians, scored a massive adult-alternative hit in 2001 with their song "When You're Falling". It spent six weeks atop Billboard's Triple-A chart that summer, helped in part because it featured Peter Gabriel (who also owned their record label Real World Records) on lead vocals. The band never had another Billboard hit afterwards.
  • Gabriel was also responsible for another world music one-hit wonder. Big Blue Ball was a supergroup he had formed in the 1990s, but whose album was stuck in Development Hell for 18 years. It was finally released in 2008, and shortly after that, its lead single "Burn You Up, Burn You Down" - which featured Gabriel alongside Billy Cobham of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jah Wobble and Wendy Melvoin - made it to #18 on the adult alternative chart. The group never recorded again after the release of their album, and none of its other singles made any other music charts.
  • Johnny Clegg was an influential and highly significant musician and activist in South Africa, known for leading one of the few multi-racial musical groups during the Apartheid era. However, despite his international importance, Clegg only had one American hit single; "Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World", recorded with his band Savuka, reached #27 on the modern rock chart in 1990.
  • Cameroonian jazz-funk saxophonist Manu Dibango scored a #32 Hot 100 hit in 1972 with his single "Soul Makossa". The song was later interpolated in Michael Jackson's hit "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'". Dibango never had another hit single, but he continued to be a star in the afrobeat and jazz scenes until his death from the COVID-19 virus in 2020.
  • Guinean singer Mory Kanté had an international hit in 1987 with "Yé ké yé ké", which reached the top 40 in the UK, Ireland, Germany, and France, and topped the charts in Israel, Belgium, Finland, and Spain. The song remains one of the best-selling singles by an African artist outside of Africa, but Kanté had no further European success apart from a remix of "Yé ké yé ké" by the German techno group Hardfloor that was a hit in a few of those same countries in 1994.

Non-music examples:



    Anime & Manga 
  • Sailor Moon remains Naoko Takeuchi's only successful manga series. While some of her other work has gained followings, most of that is limited to the Sailor Moon fandom, and she has yet to have any other title match the success of Sailor Moon. The closest any of her other series came to being a hit was The Cherry Project, which only lasted three volumes.
  • Yasumi Yoshizawa debuted as a professional manga cartoonist with Dokonjou Gaeru in 1970. To date that's his only successful series, spawning two anime series and a ton of merchandising in Japan. Since ending it he created dozens of other mangas but none of them are well-known.
  • Masashi Kishimoto will always be known as "the man who created Naruto". He's working on other material since he finally finished the series after fifteen years, but it's unlikely it'll be anywhere close to Naruto's level, seeing as how it's one of the most successful manga/anime series of all time. While he had hoped his next work after Naruto, Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru, would run for ten volumes or more, it was cancelled after only ten months of serialization due to poor sales.
  • Mizuki Kawashita is only known as the creator of Strawberry 100% and all her other works are completely obscure. It can't be helped by the fact some of these works got canceled prematurely, like Ane Doki.
  • Nobuhiro Watsuki was able to find success in Rurouni Kenshin, and only that. The series went on for 6 years, received an anime, and some movies, and the characters are always used in Weekly Shonen Jump crossovers. He has attempted to write other series, like Gun Blaze West and Buso Renkin, but they never received enough acceptance to go on for more than two years. Watsuki has since become aware of this and now just writes the occasional Rurouni Kenshin spin-off 1- or 2-chapter story.
  • Eiichiro Oda believes he'll be known only for One Piece (and with it being one of the longest Long-Runners in manga history and being such a cultural icon that the manga's bestselling status got it into the Guinness World Records, he's extremely likely to be correct), so once he finishes One Piece, he plans on doing only short stories until he retires or dies and will never attempt another long series again.
  • To this day, Yu-Gi-Oh! remains the only successful manga created by Kazuki Takahashi. His other works are very obscure one-shots or didn't last more than two volumes.
  • Captain Tsubasa is this for Yōichi Takahashi, inspiring four anime series and several games, and it is still extremely popular in Latin America and Europe. His other creation, named Hungry Heart: Wild Striker did not have the same impact and its manga version barely lasted 6 volumes, in comparison with the thirty-seven volumes of Captain Tsubasa.
  • Gantz is the only really successful manga created by Hiroya Oku to date, having received an anime adaptation, three films, a spin-off series, and some light novels, while his other works are either obscure and/or short-lived. Although this may change, as his current manga, Inuyashiki, is starting to get some fame.
  • Berserk is not only the Magnum Opus of Kentaro Miura, but it is also his only successful creation. His other manga Gigantomakhia did not have the same amount of impact and recognition, and was considered an average work in comparison with Berserk.
  • Makoto Raiku seems to have difficulty in following up his first major hit, Zatch Bell!. Both of his series after that, Animal Land and Vector Ball, are nowhere near as popular or successful. Vector Ball was even canceled after only a year.
  • No other manga by Hirohiko Araki has even one percent of the fame of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, which is also longer than the rest of his works put together.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created in 1938 one of the most popular and iconic characters ever made: Superman. His next creation named Funny Man is a completely obscure work that only comic book historians would be able to recognize and eventually faded into complete oblivion. They also created several other characters before Superman that are likewise forgotten.
  • Similarly, Bob Kane and Bill Finger's 1939 creation, Batman remains their only widely known creation.
  • William Moulton Marsden (aka Charles Marsden) created Wonder Woman. That was his only major work in comics, as he became better known for inventing the lie detector.
  • Like the Siegel and Shuster example, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird are known for creating the worldwide famous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. None of their other comics managed to get the same amount of success.
  • Tintin was the most famous creation done by Hergé and it's one of the most iconic and influential European comics ever made. On the other hand, his other comics, such as Quick and Flupke and Jo, Zette and Jocko are obscure outside of Europe.
  • Pepo created other characters apart from Condorito, but all of them are mostly forgotten by now. Condorito, on the other side, remains one of the most popular comic series in Latin America outliving its creator a long time after his death.
  • While Art Spiegelman is a well-known figure in the comics industry, mainstream audiences will remember him solely for Maus

  • Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me is his only massive hit (even warranting a sequel). Most of his other films like, Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden? and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, weren't as well-received critically or financially.
  • The Neveldine/Taylor directorial team made a big splash with Crank, and got an okayish reaction with its sequel, but all their subsequent works were critical and commercial disasters. Their partnership dissolved after Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, which ironically was the highest-grossing film they worked on (though still failed to break even and got a terrible critical reaction), and they've since fared no better as solo directors, both working on No Budget horror films that have gotten little to no attention.
  • Mel Stuart directed about ten films in his lifetime but is only remembered for one: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
  • Franc Roddam had one big hit with Quadrophenia, and did continue working quite regularly for the following decade, but didn't direct anything else of note before figuring that he'd be better off retiring and living off the royalties from MasterChef.
  • While he already had quite a few big-name screenplay credits under his belt, Kurt Wimmer really came to attention and picked up quite a fanbase with Equilibrium. His next film, Ultraviolet (2006) quickly wiped out that fanbase, and he hasn't directed another film since.
  • Josh Trank came out of nowhere in 2012 with Chronicle, a found footage film that grossed $100 million and got an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. Unfortunately, it was followed up with Fantastic Four, one of the worst-reviewed and most disastrous superhero movies of all time (although to be fair, heavy Executive Meddling was involved as well). Capone didn't manage to endear him again to critics.
  • Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanches, the co-directors of The Blair Witch Project, never collaborated again and neither of them is known for anything else.
  • Jim Sharman will always be best known for directing The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  • While Christian Nyby was one of the most prolific editors in Hollywood, The Thing from Another World is his only notable directing credit.
  • Cinéma vérité filmmaker Ross McElwee has had an extensive career, but he's never really repeated the success or acclaim of Sherman's March.
  • Alexander Hall directed a couple of dozen feature films between 1932 and 1956, but Here Comes Mr. Jordan is all he's remembered for today.
  • Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris had already been directing music videos and the occasional TV episode for well over two decades, and big things were expected after they made a highly-acclaimed breakthrough into the film industry with Little Miss Sunshine. Since then, however, they've only directed two more films, which have gotten decent enough receptions but had very limited theatrical releases, with Little Miss Sunshine screenwriter Michael Arndt having been the person who really benefited from that film's success in retrospect. Dayton and Faris have had plenty of offers over the years, but their strict refusal to bow to potential moneymakers has meant they've had fewer credits than they could have.
  • Tony Kaye isn't known for much other than American History X.
  • Steven Lisberger, director of TRON and nothing else of note.
  • Paul Brickman, for Risky Business.
  • Donnie Darko is by far Richard Kelly's best-known film.
  • James McTiegue for V for Vendetta.
  • Troy Duffy scored a Sleeper Hit with The Boondock Saints and hasn't made anything as popular since, including that movie's own sequel.
  • Brad Anderson for The Machinist.
  • Mary Harron for American Psycho. While she had a independent film circuit hit with I Shot Andy Warhol in 1996, it's not as well-known or memetic as American Psycho.
  • Billy Bob Thornton for Sling Blade. Though his acting career is fruitful.
  • Robin Hardy for The Wicker Man.
  • Peter Cattaneo got an Oscar nomination for directing the sleeper hit The Full Monty in 1997 but has made just three little-seen films (plus some television work) since then.
  • Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are all iconic and long-running series, and the directors who kickstarted these franchises are now considered veritable legends within the horror genre. Now see if you can answer this question: Who directed Friday the 13th? The answer is Sean S. Cunningham, who, despite kickstarting what is the most iconic horror franchise of all time, has overall had an utterly lackluster career outside of Crystal Lake. His best-known film outside of Friday the 13th is Deep Star Six, a film that is mostly remembered for being part of a sudden and brief trend of underwater sci-fi horror films in the late '80s, alongside The Abyss and Leviathan (1989).
  • Gerald Potterton for Heavy Metal.
  • Russell Mulcahy for Highlander. While that was the only one of his films to catch on, Mulcahy was also well known as a music video director, and he helmed iconic clips such as The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star", Duran Duran's "Rio" and "Hungry Like the Wolf," and Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart".
  • Robert Clouse for Enter the Dragon, though the So Bad, It's Good Gymkata has become a Cult Classic.
  • Oren Peli for the first Paranormal Activity.
  • Bruce Robinson for Withnail and I.
  • Robert Bierman for Vampire's Kiss.
  • Jeff Kanew for Revenge of the Nerds.
  • Joe Pytka for Space Jam. He was more successful directing music videos and television commercials, including the Michael Jordan/Bugs Bunny Nike spot that inspired Space Jam.
  • Newt Arnold for Bloodsport.
  • Robert Hiltzik for Sleepaway Camp.
  • Nelson Shin for The Transformers: The Movie.
  • Paul Michael Glaser for The Running Man; he's better remembered as Dave Starsky.
  • Gillo Pontecorvo for The Battle of Algiers.
  • Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber for The Butterfly Effect.
  • Nobuhiko Obayashi for Hausu.
  • The Chiodo brothers for Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
  • Scott Sanders for Black Dynamite.
  • Tommy Wiseau, director of the midnight-movie sensation The Room and a few other things no one cares about.
  • Marco Brambilla for Demolition Man.
  • Special effects guru Stan Winston scored a cult hit with his debut directing gig Pumpkinhead, and, well, that's it.
  • Perry Henzell for The Harder They Come.
  • Marcel Camus for Black Orpheus.
  • John Mackenzie for The Long Good Friday.
  • Dennis Hopper for Easy Rider. Colors was his only other directorial effort to turn a profit, but it was Overshadowed by Controversy over its portrayal of gangs and Sean Penn serving a jail sentence after assaulting an extra who tried to take a picture of him on-set.
  • Merian C. Cooper for King Kong (1933). His co-director, Ernest B. Schoedsack, did have a few other successful films to his name. Cooper wound up mainly as a producer, co-founding the production company Argosy Pictures with his longtime friend John Ford.
  • Amir Shervan directed a bunch of B-movie schlock; one of those films, however, was Samurai Cop.
  • Rupert Julian made one of the classic silent films, The Phantom of the Opera (1925), and nothing else of note.
  • Fritz Kiersch for Children of the Corn (1984).
  • Marv Newland is known pretty much exclusively for his one-joke short cartoon Bambi Meets Godzilla.
  • Jerry Rees for The Brave Little Toaster.
  • Actor Gary Sinise has made exactly one successful foray into directing, that being Of Mice and Men (1992).
  • Gabriela Cowperthwaite saw success with Blackfish (2013), her second film and second documentary after the largely forgotten City Lax: An Urban Lacrosse Story (2010). An animal rights-themed documentary, Blackfish drew divisive reactions due to it's subject matter (allegations of abuse of orcas in captivity at SeaWorld parks), yet was a smash hit with critics and later led to SeaWorld discontinuing their killer whale breeding program and live performances. Her third film and scripted film debut Megan Leavey (2017), despite grossing more money than Blackfish ($14.5 million on a unknown budget compared to the $2.3 million on a $1.5 million budget gross of Blackfish), went largely unnoticed and was trampled at the box office by other releases that summer such as Cars 3, dooming her to one-hit wonder status. Her status as a one-hit wonder for Blackfish was finally solidified when her fourth film and second scripted film, Our Friend (2019), ended up a Box Office Bomb (Budget: $10 million, Box office: $699,452).
  • Jay Levey for UHF. Levey is "Weird Al" Yankovic's longtime manager, and UHF is his only big screen credit.note 
  • Gabriel Range directed the controversial Mockumentary Death of a President, and the buzz from the film led to him being named by Screen International as one of the 2006 "Stars of Tomorrow", which labelled him a 'creator of innovative and convincing drama documentaries...acclaimed for their plausibility, naturalism and integrity.' Since then, he has had an utterly lackluster career mostly comprising of UK-only television films (plus the mostly-ignored David Bowie biopic Stardust).
  • Deborah Kampmeier for Hounddog.
  • Nima Nourizadeh for Project X.
  • Nate Parker for The Birth of a Nation (2016).
  • Tom McCarthy for Spotlight. While he has directed 6 other films, co-wrote the story for Up and co-wrote the screenplay for the smash hit Christopher Robin, he will always be known as the man behind the critically and commercially-successful Spotlight.
  • Kinka Usher for Mystery Men.
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night is Charles E. Sellier Jr.'s only notable directing credit, and its sequel, Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, is Lee Harry's only directing credit, period.
  • Franco Zeffirelli had a long directorial career, but Romeo and Juliet (1968) far overshadowed everything else he did on the big screen (Jesus of Nazareth at least gave him a television credit of equal stature).
  • Although Charles Laughton had a distinguished career as an actor on stage and screen (awards for which included a Best Actor Oscar for The Private Life of Henry VIII), his lone directing credit is The Night of the Hunter. Its critical and commercial failure persuaded Laughton to give up directing, but the film is now regarded as a timeless classic thanks to a terrifying performance from Robert Mitchum as Sinister Minister Reverend Powell and creative use of lighting and shadow.
  • Herk Harvey for Carnival of Souls.
  • Harry Bromley Davenport for Xtro.
  • James Frawley for The Muppet Movie (a hugely prolific, Emmy-winning TV director, he only directed five total theatrical films and The Muppet Movie was the only real hit among them).

  • Thomas Harris will forever be known as the man behind Hannibal Lecter and virtually nothing more. His debut novel Black Sunday got a generally well-received film adaptation, but both are largely forgotten today, while his only other non-Hannibal book to date, Cari Mora, was widely advertised as being by either "the creator of Hannibal Lecter" or "the author of The Silence of the Lambs", received generally mixed reviews, with many considering it a far cry from the Lecter novels, and has also fallen into obscurity.
  • Joseph Heller is best-known for Catch-22 but wrote many novels that nobody read (including Catch-22's sequel, Closing Time). Some years later, someone put it to Joseph Heller that despite his lengthy bibliography, he'd never written anything else as good as Catch-22. Heller's response: "Who has?"
  • Only one of Mary Shelley's novels is well-known today: Frankenstein, or the modern Prometheus, which is extremely famous. Although she was taken very seriously in her day, nowadays it's either Frankenstein or being the wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley (even though it was her efforts after his death that kept him from being considered a One-Hit Wonder...). Among her forgotten works is The Last Man, which was one of the very first "hard" science fiction novels.
  • Andrzej Sapkowski is only known for his The Witcher series, despite drafting more books and essays. This caused some Creator Backlash.
  • Aldous Huxley drafted several novels, dramas, and poems, but is famous largely just for Brave New World. His only other somewhat well-known work is the psychedelic drug treatise The Doors of Perception (from which a certain rock band took their name).
  • Margaret Mitchell. Gone with the Wind. The only other novel published under her name was Lost Leysen, a novella that was discovered and published decades after her death.
  • Harper Lee with To Kill a Mockingbird. For most of her life, it was the only book she ever published, and to this day authors like Stephen King wonder why, since it was brilliant.
    • As of 2015, the book received a sequel, taking away her One-Book Author status; although whether or not it is still a one-hit wonder remains to be seen, given that it was later confirmed that Go Set a Watchman was actually the first draft of Mockingbird and not actually a sequel.
  • James Allen was a British philosophical writer known for his inspirational books and poetry and as a pioneer of the self-help movement. He is remembered for his literary essay As a Man Thinketh.
  • J. D. Salinger and The Catcher in the Rye was his only novel, although he drafted many short stories and novellas such as Franny and Zooey.
    • Since his death, it's been speculated that he authored several novels (somewhere in the lower double digits, depending on who you ask) that were never published. One can only hope they eventually become exposed and remove his One Hit Wonder status.
  • G.V. Desani and All About H. Hatter.
  • Dow Mossman and The Stones of Summer.
  • Menander wrote dozens of Ancient Greek comedies, but the only one that survives in its entirety is Dyskolos ("The Grouch").
  • Matthew Lewis was actually a prolific novelist and dramatist with several titles to his name, but then as now he is mostly associated with The Monk, his first novel written at the age of nineteen. It even gave him the nickname "Monk" Lewis.
  • 99.99% of people couldn't name a book by Bram Stoker other than Dracula even if their life depended on it (he was primarily a theatrical manager who only wrote on the side).
  • Speaking of vampires, John William Polidori is only known for The Vampyre. During his life, he wrote a few other poems and plays that were regarded as ranging from subpar to bad, much to his dismay.
  • Emily Brontë with Wuthering Heights. Of course, she died before she could have another. Same deal with her sister Charlotte, a.k.a. the woman who did Jane Eyre.
  • Carlo Collodi was an Italian soldier, but all we remember about him today is the fact that he wrote Pinocchio.
  • Chuck Palahniuk, in a textbook example of Tough Act to Follow, has struggled to escape the shadow of his debut novel, Fight Club. (And never mind the numerous fans who don't even realize it was a book first.) He's self-deprecatingly acknowledged this himself, and in 2015 went as far as to release a sequel to the book, nineteen years after the original's release.
  • Stephenie Meyer is known for the Twilight series, and little else. She also wrote The Host (2008), which was a bestseller on author-name recognition alone, but it didn't sell anywhere near as well as Twilight, its film adaption was a flop, and the sequels have been stuck in Development Hell. Her next non-Twilight novel, The Chemist, also faded into obscurity after its publication.
  • Suzanne Collins is only known for The Hunger Games trilogy. She wrote another series, The Underland Chronicles, which languishes in almost complete obscurity.
  • George R. R. Martin has written many books, but he's known to the general public almost exclusively for the A Song of Ice and Fire series, or more specifically "the books that became Game of Thrones". It doesn't help that since he started the series, virtually his entire bibliography has consisted of stories set in the same universe. There are the Wild Cards series and several anthology books but he's the editor of them.
  • J. K. Rowling will forever be known as the woman behind Harry Potter. For quite a while, the series, plus three defictionalized books from the Potter universe, was her entire body of work. Her follow-up The Casual Vacancy wasn't very well-received, and while her Cormoran Strike series was seen as an improvement from Vacancy, it's still seen as a far cry from Potter. Rowling's work has also largely been Overshadowed by Controversy ever since a 2019 incident in which she expressed support for Maya Forstater, a researcher who lost a job for publicly expressing views considered transphobic by her employer, further solidifying her one-hit wonder status.
  • The pseudonyms Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon will always be associated with the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, respectively. Their actual authors wrote plenty of other books under other names, but nothing as successful.
  • Science fiction writer Tom Godwin is known for his short story "The Cold Equations" (one of the most famous sci-fi stories), but his other work is forgotten today.
  • Frank Herbert was recognized as the author of Dune but it turns out that he wrote other novels as well, except none of them reached the same level of success as Dune.
  • Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville is incredibly famous, especially in the United States. How many people have heard of de Tocqueville's other book, The Old Regime and the Revolution?
  • Daniel Defoe wrote over five hundred pieces of literature over his life, but the only book by him anyone remembers today is Robinson Crusoe.
  • The German author Klaus Mann's only well-known book is Mephisto from 1936, a classic story about opportunism in the Third Reich, and a thinly-disguised portrait of his former brother-in-law, the actor Gustaf Gründgens.
  • JM Barrie was a hugely successful playwright and author in his day, but few people today know him for anything other than the play Peter Pan and its novelization Peter Pan and Wendy. Even the once popular The Admirable Crichton is now known only to a niche audience.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote 30 novels and travel memoirs, plus many articles, in her lifetime, but today she is popularly remembered only for Uncle Tom's Cabin.
  • Stella Gibbons had a reasonable literary career in her time, but of all her works, only Cold Comfort Farm has really endured — with quite a fan base as well as movie and TV adaptations. It is even remembered as having killed off an entire literary sub-genrePurple Prose-laden rural gothic novels, which were popular at the time until it parodied them so mercilessly. (The fact that it has survived when its targets are forgotten is impressive.) But even its sequels are forgotten.
  • Ernest Vincent Wright is remembered exclusively for Gadsby, one of the prime examples of Constrained Writing in English literature.
  • Robert W. Chambers may have been most successful in his time for his romance fiction, but is remembered today more or less solely for The King in Yellow.
  • Herman Melville holds the distinction of being a one-hit wonder twice with two different books. During his lifetime, Typee was by far his most successful book, but it has since been completely overshadowed by Moby-Dick, which was rejected by critics at the time but viewed more warmly by the 1920s.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Gene Roddenberry's only real "hit" was Star Trek: The Original Series. His other shows either were short-lived (The Lieutenant, which lasted a single season) or never got past the pilot stage (Genesis II/Planet Earth, Questor Tapes and "Assignment: Earth", which was both a Star Trek episode and a back-door pilot for a spin-off series). Some of Gene's ideas and story notes were eventually adapted by others with mixed results (Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda). (Roddenberry is also credited as the creator of Star Trek: The Next Generation, though this is more to do with him having to sign off on Paramount continuing the franchise on television, although he was the showrunner for its first two seasons.)
  • Mitch Hurwitz was the creator of Arrested Development, which is considered one of the great comedies of the 2000s (even after its divisive revival). His other projects? Two poorly received series (Sit Down, Shut Up and Running Wilde) and one slightly better-reviewed series (The Ellen Show) that didn't survive their first seasons.
  • Marta Kauffmann, David Crane, and Kevin S. Bright made television history with the massively successful sitcom Friends. Unfortunately, their other sitcoms — Joey, Jesse and Veronica's Closet — weren't as successful, critically acclaimed, or fondly remembered.
  • Rick Rosner created CHiPs, which had a popular six-season run. Rosner was previously successful in daytime television (talk shows and game shows), but his two other stabs at prime time drama, 240-Robert and Lottery!, ran just 16 and 17 episodes, respectively.
  • Nancy Zerg, a Jeopardy! contestant who, in her debut, defeated the show's best player ever, Ken Jennings, and thus ended his 74-game winning streak, which remains the show's longest. She lost in her very next appearance.
  • Remote Control host Ken Ober seemed poised for a high-profile career as a TV personality after that Cult Classic game show ended in 1990, but never really did much on-camera afterwards except for some commercials and small acting roles, including appearances in several Blues Traveler videos. Ober eventually moved into writing and production before dying from heart disease at age 52 in 2009.

  • A strange case: Gerald Mayo was very infamous, for many reasons, in the early 1970s. You should see the number of news articles printed about him at the time; it was huge. Nowadays, he is only known for something he was not famous for in the 1970s: suing Satan.
  • Jim Gaffigan still feels obligated to do his "Hot Pockets" bit for fans despite it being one of his earliest bits.
  • John Anderson was an obscure member of the House of Representatives when he mounted an independent Presidential campaign in 1980. Dissatisfaction from some voters over the choice between the unpopular Jimmy Carter and the staunchly right-wing Ronald Reagan gave Anderson 6% of the final vote, but rather than becoming a major national political figure, he spent the rest of his life being remembered as "the guy who ran against Carter and Reagan".
  • Joe Donnelly was a Democratic congressman from Indiana who represented the conservative blue-collar wing, which was dying off at the time. In 2012 he decided to run for Senate against longtime Republican incumbent Richard Lugar in what many saw as a "sacrificial lamb" campaign rather than a serious challenge, as Indiana was a red state and Lugar was well-liked across the isle. However, he wasn’t particularly popular with those in his own party, and he was ousted by the very conservative Tea Party champion Richard Mourdock in the primaries. This caused some headaches with the Indiana GOP, which culminated in a statement in which he said that rape victims should not get abortions because babies were a gift from God. Mourdock’s campaign crashed and Donnelly scored the upset win. The win was, by all counts, a total fluke, and the next time the seat was up, Donnelly lost by five points to state legislator Mike Braun.
  • This typically happens in "wave elections" when one party does really well and wins seats that heavily lean towards the other political party. During the 2010 senate cycle, Republicans channeled anger at President Obama to pick up two Senate seats in very liberal states. Scott Brown won a special election to replace the late Ted Kennedy, taking advantage of its irregular timing in January and relatively low turnout to win. Meanwhile, Mark Kirk picked up the Illinois senate seat that was once held by Obama himself by defeating a weak Democratic challenger. Both went on to lose badly the next time the seats were up, both in presidential years. Brown was defeated by Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Kirk was ousted by Tammy Duckworth in Illinois. Brown tried to make a comeback Senate bid in neighboring New Hampshire, considerably redder territory in a year favoring the GOP, but ultimately fell short.
  • After Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in 2016, he tapped Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general. This opened up Sessions' long-time senate seat in the very conservative state, which Republicans were expected to hold on with ease. Governor Robert Bentley appointed Luther Strange to replace Sessions. Problem was, Bentley was under investigation at the time for trying to cover up an extramarital affair. This led to a lot of discontent towards Strange even from fellow Republicans, leaving an opening for the state's notoriously reactionary former Chief Justice Roy Moore to run as a challenger and beat Strange in the primary despite Trump's opposition. However, Moore was an extremely toxic candidate whose campaign collapsed in the final stretch after it was revealed he had relationships with underage girls when he was in his 30s. In a shocking upset, Democrat Doug Jones, a renowned civil rights attorney who led the prosecution of the suspects in the Birmingham church bombing of 1963, edged out Moore to win the seat. In 2020, several Republicans, including Roy Moore and even Jeff Sessions himself (who left the attorney general position on very bad terms with Trump), put their hat in the ring to challenge Jones, but ultimately former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville was chosen. Jones lost by over 20 points, even losing Tuscaloosa County, home of Auburn arch-rivals the University of Alabama.
  • In 2018, a "blue wave" year, Democrats won seats in the traditionally Republican suburbs of Charleston (South Carolina), Oklahoma City, Salt Lake City, Staten Island, upstate New York, and Republican-leaning rural areas of New Mexico, Maine, and Iowa. Donald Trump won all of these seats in 2016 by sizable margins, so Democrats winning any of them in 2018 was shocking (though some were by razor-thin margins—the Utah Democrat, Ben McAdams, won by 694 votes out of almost 300,000 cast). Holding on to them in a presidential election cycle was another story, though, as Democrats likely needed a blowout defeat of Trump to repeat that success, and although all polls indicated that was what was going to happen, Trump still carried those seats again with little trouble, and, with the exception of the seat in Maine, all of the House Democrats in question were sent back home after just one term (although once again, some still by razor-thin margins—the upstate New York Democrat Anthony Brindisi only lost his bid for a second term — to the same Republican he had ousted two years prior, no less (Claudia Tenney) — by a little over 100 votes).
  • Herbert Hoover ran for President in 1928 without ever having held elected office before, won, then the Great Depresion happened and he got blown out in his re-election bid in 1932 and never ran for another office again.
  • Donald Trump, like Hoover, had never held public office before winning a surprise victory in 2016. He also had to deal with an economic downturn after the COVID-19 Pandemic put a halt to economic production. Between that and his response to the pandemic itself, Trump was ousted after only one term and left office in disgrace after a mob of his supporters broke into the Capitol Building. However, unlike Hoover, Trump just barely fell short of winning another term.

  • James Elroy Flecker produced a fair volume of poetry in his thirty years, some of which is quoted by the likes of Agatha Christie and Neil Gaiman, but these days he is almost entirely remembered for a few incredibly quotable lines from his verse drama Hassan: The Story of Hassan of Baghdad and How he Came to Make the Golden Journey to Samarkand. (“For lust of knowing what should not be known…”) If Flecker had not died young, of course, his reputation might run wider.
  • William Ernest Henley's literary reputation rests almost entirely on his single poem "Invictus."
  • Joyce Kilmer, remembered almost exclusively for the poem "Trees".
  • Ernest Thayer is only known for "Casey at the Bat".
  • Mary Elizabeth Frye's only known poem is "Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep".
  • Clement Clarke Moore was a prolific writer of poetry, prose and scholarly works, but 'Twas the Night Before Christmas is all he's remembered for.
  • "High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee, though he was killed in a military aviation accident before the poem became famous.
  • John McCrae is remembered only for "In Flanders Fields".
  • Poems that eventually become national anthems seem prone to this.
    • "The Star-Spangled Banner" author Francis Scott Key was a lawyer who wrote poems strictly on an amateur basis.
    • "Hymn to Liberty" was the only poem Dionysios Solomos ever managed to finish (though, at 158 verses in the complete version, it's almost a career's-worth of verse in and of itself). An extremely truncated version was adopted as the Greek national anthem in 1865, seven years after Solomos' death.

  • Jimmy Glass, the English football player responsible for keeping Carlisle United F.C. in the Football League by scoring a goal in the last seconds of the final match of the 1998-99 season against Plymouth Argyle F.C. Made all the more remarkable by the fact that he was Carlisle's goalkeeper, and thus would ordinarily have been at the opposite end of the pitch, and at the time he was an emergency loan signing from Swindon Town F.C. which had to receive special approval because Carlisle had run out of goalkeepers. He only ever played three matches for Carlisle, who were unable to negotiate a long-term contract for Glass, and he returned to Swindon and retired two years later. His subsequent biography was titled One-Hit Wonder. For people who don't understand football, he was basically playing in one of the lowest professional divisions in England, had an otherwise unremarkable career as a player, and after having his contract expire, retired to become an office worker.
  • On 7 May 2003, Arsenal beat Southampton 6-1, with 19-year old Jermaine Pennant scoring a hat-trick on his first ever league appearance for the club. The match would later become notable as the first game of a 49-game unbeaten run by Arsenal, the longest ever in English football. Pennant, however, would never score another goal for the club.
  • Roger Maris, forever known as the man who hit 61 home runs, isn't even in the Hall of Fame because other than his MVP years of 1960 and '61 (the year which he hit 61 homers), he was an above-average but hardly spectacular baseball player.
  • American Football and the National Football League are full of players who flash for one game/season only to either quickly leave football or who fall back down the ladder once opposing teams get some film on them. For a more complete list, see the "Disappointments" section on the National Football League Notorious Figures page.
    • Washington Redskins rookie running back Timmy Smith was only in the starting lineup for Super Bowl XXII due to injuries to the Redskins' other running backs. Smith made the most of that opportunity, rushing for a Super Bowl record 204 yards with two touchdowns in the Skins' 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos. Smith's career lasted only 15 more games before he was out of the NFL in 1990.
    • Similarly, David Tyree of the New York Giants. A bottom of the depth chart receiver who managed to catch a ball from Eli Manning by pinning it to his helmet and never did anything else of note.
    • Mike Jones of the St. Louis Rams is basically defined for a tackle he made of Titans receiver Kevin Dyson stopping him from scoring the game-tying touchdown at the one-yard line.
    • Running back Jonas Grey will probably never have another performance as he did in a game with the Patriots where he ran for 201 yards and 4 touchdowns. He didn't play the next game at all for breaking team rules.
    • Running back Jerome Harrison is known for a single game in 2009 where he rushed for 286 yards, breaking the Cleveland Browns' single game rushing record, which was held by the legendary Jim Brown.
    • Chris Johnson actually had a pretty good career, but never matched his 2009 season with the Tennessee Titans where he rushed for 2,000 yards.
    • Dick Shiner was a career backup quarterback. During a stint with the Atlanta Falcons, he became the first quarterback to officially achieve a perfect passer rating, when he led the Falcons to a 62-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints. He also set the record for highest score in a football game that the Falcons have reached. This is the only thing he ever did of note - he was a career second stringer who had one brilliant game.
    • Robert Bailey had a fairly standard journeyman career, but while playing for the LA Rams in his second season he earned the record for the longest punt return in NFL history, which he earned in a 1994 game against the New Orleans Saints. When every other player on the field thought that a punt would pass through the endzone, he was virtually the only person who realised that it didn't, and proceeded to make an uncontested return across the field for a 103-yard touchdown.
  • Bucky Dent was a solid defensive shortstop and a decent situational hitter. However, all he will ever be known for, especially in Boston, is the home run he hit for the Yankees in 1978 that knocked the Red Sox out of playoff contention that year and winning the World Series MVP that same year.
    • To young non-Yankee/Red Sox fans he may best known for being in a Steinbrenner rant.
    • Likewise, Carlton Fisk may be a Hall of Fame player with the Red Sox, but his entire career has been defined by his home run off the foul pole in the 1975 World Series.
      • Enough so that most casual baseball fans (at least outside Chicago's South Side) forget that Fisk spent the majority of his career with the White Sox.
    • This seems to be the fate of any player who comes up big in a high-profile situation. Other players defined by World Series moments include Bill Wambsganss (a solid defensive second baseman best known for turning an unassisted triple play in the 1920 World Series—still the only triple play of any kind in World Series history), Don Larsen (a journeyman pitcher who pitched a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series—was the only no-hitter of any kind in postseason history for 54 years), and Cookie Lavagetto (pinch-hit two-run walkoff double in Game 4 of the 1947 World Series, which also broke up what would have been the first no-hitter in World Series history, as the two baserunners he drove in reached via walks—the ninth and tenth allowed by starter Bill Bevens. Also, neither Bevens nor Lavagetto played in the major leagues after 1947.)
    • Jack Morris's 10-inning shutout for the Twins in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series completely overshadowed the rest of his Hall of Fame career; this one game was so epic that hardly anyone remembers that Morris was also the ace of the following year's champion, the Toronto Blue Jays. Then again, he was also the ace of the Detroit Tigers earlier in his career.
    • The ultimate baseball one-moment wonder might be Francisco Cabrera of the 1992 Atlanta Braves. The Braves were one out away from being eliminated in the NLCS when they sent Cabrera, the last position player left on the bench, up to bat. Cabrera could barely even be considered a part-time player; he only had ten at-bats during the regular season and only one prior at-bat in the playoffs. He stroked a two-run single to put the Braves in the World Series, then immediately faded back to obscurity. He was out of the majors the following year.
    • Armando Galarraga catapulted into the headlines after umpire Jim Joyce's blown call cost him a perfect game (retire 27 batters in order without allowing any of them to reach base) in July 2010. Since then he's had nothing but hard luck - cut by 3 teams, kicked around the minors, and barely had the proverbial "cup of coffee" in the bigs since.
      • Also Jason Donald is known for that one "hit".
    • Luis Gonzalez was a five-time All Star (most notably with the Diamondbacks), but ask if they know who he is and they'll probably say he's the guy whose walk-off single ended the 2001 World Series.
    • Kirk Gibson was a two-time MVP and World Series Champion, but he is best known for hitting a pinch-hit walk-off homer off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. The main reason he's known is that he had been vomiting all day and could barely walk due to both his illness and lingering leg injuries, and didn't appear again in the series.
    • Former Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski. While he eventually made the Hall of Fame, he's known almost exclusively for the walkoff home run he hit in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, which will likely never be forgotten due to the remarkable statistical fluke that the series produced. In Game 1, the Yankees outhit the Pirates 13-8 but lost 6-4, and in Game 4 they again outhit the Pirates 8-7 but lost 3-2, and in the deciding Game 7, Mazeroski's home run leading off the bottom of the ninth, breaking a 9-9 tie, was just the Pirates' 11th, to the Yankees' 13. So even in three of their four victories, the Pirates were outhit. "Even" in their victories, that is, because the Yankees won Games 2, 3, and 6 by the scores of 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0. The result was a Series in which the Yankees scored 55 runs on 91 hits, batting .338 as a team—just a few of the many records they set—and lost.
    • Pitcher Danny Farquhar had a relatively uneventful MLB career lasting seven years; a sudden brain hemmorage unexpectedly ended his career in 2018, leading him to go into coaching. He did have one noteworthy event to his name however: He was among the first people to suspect the Houston Astros of electronically-assisted sign stealing during the 2017 season, and had the awareness and foresight to notice it mid-game and work with his catcher to counter it. His account of that event would become a key part of the Ken Rosenthal article in The Athletic which first brought the scandal to light.
  • Formula One:
    • Jacques Villeneuve took the World Championship in only his second year in the sport in 1997, then proceeded to never win another race. He has found success in other forms of racing, though.
    • Jean Alesi was an even more literal example of this. He only won a single race in F1 and even that was considered a lucky (although popular) win. Despite his talent being obvious to all who saw him race, a mixture of poor luck and lackluster machinery contributed to denying him further wins.
    • Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado scored one Formula One race win in a career otherwise known for spectacular crashes.
  • Mario Andretti is this for his NASCAR starts, as in his 14 starts, his only victory was the 1967 Daytona 500, in which he won the race over his teammate Fred Lorenzen, who Holman-Moody and Ford wanted to win the race.
  • Trevor Bayne surprised everyone by winning the 2011 Daytona 500, just his second start in NASCAR's top level of competition. He has yet to score a follow-up win and lost his ride with Roush-Fenway Racing at the end of the 2018 season.
  • Many cricket fans consider the late Sir Donald Bradman's Test cricket batting average of 99.94 (across 80 innings) to be the greatest statistical achievement in any sport, but in cricket statistics, it's customary to consider Test averages only from players who have played more than 20 innings. Cricket's highest Test batting average technically belongs to a one-hit wonder, West Indian wicketkeeper Andy Ganteaume, who was called up for a single Test against England in 1948 and scored 112 runs in his one and only innings at the crease.
  • Sticking with cricket, Gary Pratt caused a sensation by running out Australian captain Ricky Ponting at Trent Bridge in the 2005 Ashes series (which famously ended with England winning the Ashes for the first time in 18 years). Gary was only on the pitch as a substitute fielder note ; otherwise, he had an unremarkale county career with Durham and was let go by them at the end of the 2006 season, having scored just one first-class century in six years.
  • Salvatore "Totò" Schillaci was the star of the 1990 World Cup, scoring six goals (the top scorer) and bringing Italy to third place — amazingly, he only ever scored one other goal for Italy, and apart from Italia 90 the rest of his career was unremarkable.
    • The same could be said about Fabio Grosso, the man who almost single-handedly brought Italy to victory in the 2006 World Cup. He scored all the important goals, including the one in the semifinal and the decisive penalty kick in the final match, but never did anything else of note in his home country.
  • Oleg Salenko, who played for the Russian national team in the 1994 World Cup. During the 1994 World Cup, he scored 5 goals in a game against Cameroon (the most goals anyone has scored in a single World Cup match) and 6 goals overall, the joint top scorer of the tournament (and the only time where a top scorer played for a team that was knocked out in the group stages). The 6 goals turned out to be the only goals of his national team career.
  • Prior to 2004, the Greek national team had only qualified for two tournaments (the 1980 European Championships, and the 1994 World Cup), and been officially ranked the worst team at the tournament at both. Then they miraculously won the 2004 European Championships. Since then, they have been unable to get past the first knockout round of any tournament. Greece won more games at Euro 2004 than they have won at all other tournaments before or since combined.
  • Joe Johnson was a previously unremarkable and little-known snooker player who suddenly hit form in the 1986 World Championship, taking the title having never previously advanced beyond the first round. It was his only ranking event win; despite making the final again the following year, he slipped down the rankings quite swiftly thereafter.
  • On February 11, 1990, 42-1 underdog James "Buster" Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson, who was an undefeated champion at the time. (For some perspective, this was the first time Tyson had even been knocked down.) He retired just a few months later, after losing the heavyweight title to Evander Holyfield.
  • When Holly Holm beat the previously thought to be invincible Ronda Rousey, it was called the biggest upset since Douglas/Tyson. And not only did Holm win, but she also did so so convincingly she had MMA fans convinced she was the second coming. Her first defense of the Women's Bantamweight Championship, she lost to Rousey's arch-rival Miesha Tate. Since defeating Rousey she's gone 2-5, with her two wins being over undercard talentnote . Her one feat, being the first person to go the distance with Cris "Cyborg" Justino, became far less impressive after Amanda Nunes KO'd Cyborg in under a minute in Cyborg's very next match. Also, Nunes beat Holm in 4 minutes in July 2019.
  • Mixed Martial Arts fighter Matt Serra had a decent MMA career, even winning The Ultimate Fighter, but he is only known for knocking out Georges St-Pierre, considered by many to be the greatest upset in the sport's history. He lost his first title defense never got another significant win.
  • In Australian Rules Football, the St Kilda Saints have won only one premiership, in 1966. The same goes for Port Adelaide Power (2004), but they are generally not considered to be this since they only joined in 1997, and their SANFL incarnation is the most successful club in that league. The Western Bulldogs long had the "one-hit wonder" tag as well, having only won the premiership in 1954, but they picked up their second flag in 2016.
    • Among players, the most famous one-hit wonder would be Ted Hopkins, who was brought on after half time for Carlton in the 1970 Grand Final, and proceeded to rip Collingwood to shreds as Carlton came back from a 44-point deficit to win. Afterward, Hopkins realised he could never do anything to top his achievements in that game, and retired.
  • Several professional golfers who have risen from obscurity and win (or even just nearly win) a major championship have had difficulty sustaining that success in smaller-level tournaments afterward. Among the notable champions on this list are Steve Jones (1996 U.S. Open), Shaun Micheel (2003 PGA Championship) and Hilary Lunke (2003 U.S. Women's Open, her only top ten in an LPGA tournament).
  • In Tennis, players who win just one Grand Slam title in their careers are labeled (fairly or unfairly) as "one-Slam wonders". The biggest one of them is probably Gastón Gaudio, who won the 2004 French Open — recovering from a 2-set deficit, no less — but failed to reach the quarterfinals of any other Slam he entered.
    • Goran Ivanišević was consistently one of the best players in the world in the 1990s (ranked as high as No. 2 at points), but despite making the Wimbledon final three times in the decade, he lost all three. Injuries and declining performances left him ranked outside the top 100 and struggling to qualify for major tournaments by 2001, and most thought his best was well behind him. Then, he was given a wild card entry into the 2001 Wimbledon draw - and won the competition, his only Grand Slam title. He never got past the third round of a tournament (any tournament, not just Grand Slams) again, and retired a couple of years later.
    • Prior to reforms in 1982, most top tennis players, especially in the women's game, skipped the Australian due to inconvenient dates, the long journey, and comparatively low prize money. One of the last female winners prior to the reforms was the American Barbara Jordan, who won in 1979. Jordan won no other singles titles, never got past the last 32 at any other Slam, and never even ranked inside the world top 50.
    • Iva Majoli and Anastasia Myskina both won the French Open, in 1997 and 2004 respectively. Neither managed to get beyond the quarterfinals in any other slam.
    • Martin Verkerk entered the 2003 French Open at the age of 24, having only previously qualified for two Grand Slams, in both of which he went out in the first round. Then he rapidly became a popular phenomenon as he reached the final of the tournament. He then played at only five more slams (only once even reaching the last 32), before a career-ending injury.
  • Roy Essandoh, a previously anonymous lower-league soccer player, is mostly known for scoring a winning goal for Wycombe Wanderers against Leicester City in 2001 after he answered a teletext ad by then-manager Lawrie Sanchez for a non-cup-tied striker. That goal propelled Wycombe to an FA Cup semifinal, after which Roy slipped back into obscurity.
  • Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox threw a perfect game at the start of the 2012 then proceeded to suck for the rest of the season. He became the only player to throw a perfect game and be released (although claimed by another team) at the end of the next season. If he's mentioned for anything else, it'll be how he was traded for Johan Santana. He did win a College World Series (NCAA Division I championship) with Rice University, so not all is lost.
  • Dallas Braden, pitcher for the Oakland A's, is only known for two things: yelling at Alex Rodriguez during a game and getting a perfect game two weeks later.
  • Among NHL examples, an outstanding case is Jonathan Cheechoo, who may have been a solid NHL player, but his 56-goal Richard Trophy winning season couldn't be matched, and he's bounced around from the NHL and minors.
    • Paul Henderson is best known for scoring the winning goal of the 1972 Summit Series (Canada vs USSR). He was a two-time All Star, but is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
  • In 2013, Atlanta Braves third baseman Chris Johnson won a batting title, before returning to his normal self the following season.
  • Eric Bruntlett hit a World Series-clinching win for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, and performed only the 15th unassisted triple play in history in 2009 at 31 years old. A year later, he was out of baseball entirely.
  • Loyola University of Chicago won the NCAA men's basketball championship in 1963 but fell into mediocrity between that and their 2018 Final Four run.
    • College basketball's other great Loyola moment, when Loyola Marymount made an emotional run to the Elite Eight in 1990, after their star Hank Gathers collapsed and died during a conference tournament game. After that season, their other star Bo Kimble graduated and coach Paul Westhead took an NBA job, and LMU hasn't been back to the tournament since.note 
    • The landmark 1966 national championship depicted in Glory Road marks the only time that Texas-El Paso (UTEP, but known as Texas Western when they won the title) has made it past the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAAs.
    • Jacksonville University, led by future NBA great and Basketball Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore, made it all the way to the championship game in 1970 before running into the UCLA juggernaut. The Dolphins have literally never won an NCAA tournament game outside of that season, with only five total appearances.
    • The Larry Bird-led run to the 1979 NCAA championship game, where they lost to Magic Johnson-led Michigan State, marks Indiana State's only trip past the second round of the tourney in just four total appearances as a Division I member (the Sycamores won an NAIA championship in 1950, making appearances in 4 total lower division championship games—3 NAIA and 1 NCAA Division II—earlier in their history). This also applies to their head coach Bill Hodges, who kicked off his head coaching career with that 1978-79 season, entering that championship game undefeated, but was let go three years later after back-to-back losing seasons, never attaining the same heights in his other Division I coaching job at Mercer a decade later (he had a decent run at NAIA school Georgia College in the interim).
  • Saeed Al-Owairan, known as the "Maradona of the Arabs" for his Maradona-like goal in the 1994 FIFA World Cup, and nothing else.
  • Anselmo, Brazilian footballer for Flamengo, in the 1981 Copa Libertadores. In the finals of Flamengo (Brazil) and Cobreloa (Chile), Chilean defender Mario Soto was giving a class of Unnecessary Roughness, leaving two Flamengo players bleeding removing other two players from injuries. In the last game, with four minutes left and victory already guaranteed to Flamengo, the team's coach Cláudio Coutinho decided to avenge the previous game and put benchwarmer Anselmo in the field, with the sole intention of hitting Soto. Anselmo then promptly entered the game and punched Soto in the face, causing a fight between both players and their subsequently expulsion. When Flamengo returned home, Anselmo was received by the supporters with chants of Anselmo Vingador ("Anselmo the avenger"). After his career in Flamengo Anselmo bounced around a few clubs and playing a total of 28 games until retiring in 1990.
  • The top-heavy structure of Collegiate American Football makes true Cinderella stories in the sport rare, but there are a few cases of schools who've had a single standout season amid a history of mediocrity.
    • San Francisco, 1951. The Dons finished undefeated and received an Orange Bowl invitation on the condition that they not bring their African-American players to then-segregated Miami. The team refused the invitation and dropped out of major college football after the season (they permanently disbanded in 1982).
    • Wyoming, 1967. The Cowboys, featuring future Miami Dolphins star Jim Kiick, finished the regular season as the only undefeated major college team and were invited to the Sugar Bowl, where they took a halftime lead over LSU before falling 20-13. They've had just one Top 25 finish since then (1996).note 
    • Temple, 1979. The Owls finished the regular season 9-2, with the two losses being narrow defeats to ranked instate rivals Pittsburgh and Penn State, then they capped off the year with a bowl win and a #17 ranking in the final AP poll. This marks the only Top 25 finish in school history.
    • East Carolina, 1991. Under future Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Blake, the Pirates lost their first game but then rattled off 11 consecutive wins, finishing #9 in the final AP poll. No final poll appearances since. It also counts as one for their head coach Bill Lewis, since it was the only winning season he had in his entire career, despite 9 seasons as a head coach at three different schools.
    • Tulane, 1998. The Green Wave finished 12-0 with a #7 final ranking. They had to wait 24 years for their next final poll appearance, a #9 ranking in 2022.
    • Hawaii, 2007. Under record-setting QB Colt Brennan, the Warriors finished the regular season undefeated and garnered a Sugar Bowl berth, before being soundly defeated by Georgia. They had good seasons before and after this, but never nearly as spectacular.
    • Western Michigan, 2016. A 13-0 regular season record led the Broncos to the Cotton Bowl, where they took #8 Wisconsin to the wire before falling 24-16. Head coach P.J. Fleck left for Minnesota the next year, and they haven't duplicated this success.
    • On the FCS level, Idaho State won the national championship in 1981, but has only made one playoff appearance since (a first round loss in 1983).
  • Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo started only one game to completion for the New England Patriots, the team which drafted him — Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals, a 23-21 victory. However, given the trajectory of his career, it may have been the most important game of his career, as it gave the rest of the NFL a clear look at his strengths as a QB. He was injured the next week versus Miami and never started for the Patriots again. Brady would return from his 4-game suspension and lead the Patriots all the way to winning the Super Bowl. With Brady's position secure, head coach Bill Belichick was caught in a dilemma — either give up the aging star who just won a championship in triumphant fashion or give up his chance to build the team of the future. He ultimately chose to trade Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ersnote , a move which had a hand in transforming that franchise. All of this would not have been possible if his brief stint as New England's starter had not raised his profile. He remains the only Patriots quarterback to be victorious in every game he started.
  • Hack Wilson was a star baseball player in the 1930s but nowadays, he's best remembered for his 1930 season where he hit 56 home runs and 191 RB Is, the latter which still stands as the major league record.

    Tabletop Games 
Games worked on by multiple one-hit wonder designers
  • Neither of the two Apples to Apples designers Mark Alan Osterhaus and Matthew Kirby had another hit.
  • Mysterium is the only thing Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko are known for.
  • Neither Albert Lamorisse nor Michael I. Levin had any hits beyond the highly successful Risk.
  • Sheriff Of Nottingham was a big success, but neither of its designers André Zatz and Sérgio Halaban had any other hits.

Individual designers

  • Splendor is a popular game, but nothing else Marc André has deisgned has caught on.
  • Kerry Breitenstein's Zombies!!! is the only thing he's known for.
  • Isaac Childres. Despite Gloomhaven being one of the most popular games of all time, his other work has failed to catch on.
  • In 2003, Paul Czege of The Forge had published My Life with Master, which instantly became one of the hallmarks of the North American indie Tabletop RPG scene. He has not published (commercially) any other game since, instead releasing his later experimental designs for free on the net, which failed to garner nearly as much attention as his original breakthrough hit, MLWM.
  • Jacob Fryxelius's only major hit is Terraforming Mars.
  • Gord! (Gordon Hamilton) was behind the successful Santorini, but the rest of his output is obscure.
  • Luca Iennaco's only major hit is Kingsburg.
  • The only major hit Kristin Looney of Looney Labs worked on is the Fluxx series. All of her other work ended up languishing in obscurity.
  • Elizabeth J. Magie made a few games, but is only remembered for The Landlord's Game, the precursor to Monopoly.
  • Finnish board game designer Kari Mannerla created several games early in his life. While his first attempts didn't get much attention, the 1951 release Star of Africa became a big hit in Finland and several of its neighbouring countries, and remains popular as of the 2020s. It ended up being his only major success, as his subsequent efforts (including a Mission-Pack Sequel to Star of Africa and a card game inspired by it) failed to catch on.
  • Gabriele Mari is only known for Letters From Whitechapel
  • Merle Robbins had a big hit with Uno, but never saw much success with anything else.
  • Juan Rodriguez is only known for The Grizzled.
  • Leslie Scott designed several games in the 1980's and 1990's. Jenga became a big hit, while everything else was quickly forgotten.
  • Masao Suganuma is only known for Machi Koro.
  • Rodney Thompson is only known for Lords Of Waterdeep.
  • Designer Klaus-Jürgen Wrede is only known for Carcassonne.
  • The abstract strategy game Hive was well received and popular. However, the other releases by its designer John Yianni have completely failed to catch on.

    Video Games 
  • Alexey Pajitnov would have to be the biggest example. He is known for creating Tetris, one of the most popular games of all time, and absolutely nothing else.
    • He worked for Microsoft's games division for a while in the late '90s and early 2000s, creating critically acclaimed puzzle games like Pandora's Box and Hexic that met with commercial indifference, even when his semi-famous name was played up in advertising.
    • He eventually gave in and tried to create a direct followup to Tetris, called Welltris, which is basically the same game but with the player now viewing the action from above. It was not well received.
  • Stern Electronics (Berzerk, 1980). Technically they did distribute a few other hits, but all of those were Konami games manufactured under license.
  • Mythos Games (X-COM: UFO Defense, 1994).
  • Despite a long, successful history as a pinball manufacturer, Gottlieb's only hit Video Game was 1982's Q*bert, despite many attempts at breaking into the market.
  • Cavedog Entertainment (Total Annihilation, 1997) was formed as a sister studio of Humongous Entertainment, which had several popular children's computer games.
  • How many games has Dragon's Eye Productions released? Answer: Two. One was a short-lived game called Dragonspires. The other—its Spiritual Successor—is Furcadia, which holds the World Record for longest-running Social MMORPG (21 years and counting).
  • Realtime Worlds' first game was Crackdown. Their second game was the infamous MMO flop All Points Bulletin, which quickly drove the studio to bankruptcy.
  • Day 1 Studios scored a big hit with their debut game, MechAssault, which benefited hugely from being a launch game for Xbox Live Arcade back in 2002. All three of their subsequent games (Mechassault 2, Fracture, and F.E.A.R. 3) flopped badly at retail. Acknowledging this, Day 1 set to developed a F 2 P mech game titled Reigns of Thunder (whose teaser trailed advertised it as "Day 1 going back to its roots"), but the studio was then bought by Wargaming and refocused on porting Wargaming's games to other platforms.
  • If Phil Fish is indeed retired from game development, as he claims, then Fez will certainly qualify him as a one-hit wonder.
  • Although CCP Games has made several attempts to expand their brand beyond the wildly successful EVE Online (2003), so far, all have been failures.
  • Brad McQuaid isn't known for much of anything other than the original Everquest.
  • Minh Le and Jess Cliffe, the creators of the original Counter-Strike and, well, nothing else.
  • Trilobyte Software quickly rose to fame with their debut game The 7th Guest, which was one of the first home computer games to take advantage of the additional space of the CD-Rom format. All of their subsequent games were massive failures, with their last game (Uncle Henry's Playhouse) selling a whopping 27 copies in the U.S.
  • Suda51 is known for his wacky games that while they have a cult following, their appeal is limited. Only one game he's made managed to sell a million copies, Lollipop Chainsaw, which took nearly two years to do so. The rest of his games are lucky if they break the 500,000 mark.
  • Vigil Games made only two games, the first of which, Darksiders, was a Sleeper Hit. Then they made Darksiders II, which was a commercial failure that resulted in the studio being left to die when THQ folded in early 2013.
  • Mojang has made a handful of video games, but none of them have come close to the monumental success of Minecraft.
  • Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen had a surprise sleeper hit in 2014 with Flappy Bird and quickly faded into obscurity after its popularity died down.
  • Rovio Entertainment's reputation rests almost entirely on a little franchise called Angry Birds.
  • Most people would be hard-pressed to name a ZeptoLab game other than Cut the Rope.
  • Future Games of London is known for Hungry Shark Evolution and little else.
  • Clockwork Tortoise (The Adventures of Batman and Robin, Sega Genesis, 1995)
  • Asmik Ace Entertainment is mostly known as a film distributor, but their video game success comes from developing LSD: Dream Emulator, thanks to Osamu Sato and his status of being a Cult Classic artist.
  • Splash Damage (Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, 2003)
  • Andrew and Paul Gower aren't known for anything other than Runescape. Their company, Jagex, has made a few other games, although without the Gowers, but even they are mostly known just for Runescape.
  • Stellar Stone released eight games during the early 2000s before dissolving entirely, including a pinball game, two real-time strategies, a puzzle game, a first-person shooter, and three racing games, pretty much all of which were Obvious Betas in every sense of the word. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone that knows this, and in fact, most of the Internet would have you believe the only game of theirs of this nature was Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing.
  • Mike Bithell's Thomas Was Alone managed to sell over a million copies, but his other major production Volume didn't have even a fraction of that unexpected success among the general public.
  • Many websites on the Internet agree that Hanafram only ever released one game: Snow Bros 2.
  • Big Huge Games (Rise of Nations, 2003).
  • Micrographic Image (Spelunker, 1983).
  • Realtime Games' only original game of note was 1988's Carrier Command.
  • Big Five Software (Miner 2049er, 1982).
  • A&F Software (Chuckie Egg, 1983).
  • Toby Gard led the development of the original Tomb Raider and designed its iconic protagonist, Lara Croft. He left Core Design shortly after the game's release and never found any success in the industry afterward, his most notable project being the 2004 Xbox flop Galleon.
  • Pop Top Software's only mark in the video games industry was as the developer of the OG Tropico for Kalypso Software, which went on to have numerous sequels in the hands of other developers (notably Haemimont Games and Limbic Entertainment) while Pop Top languished.
  • Spark Unlimited's first game Call of Duty: Finest Hour was a solid financial hit and garnered pretty decent reviews, although Activision's opted not to renew the company's contract due to the game's Troubled Production. All of Spark Unlimited's following games (Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, Legendary (2008), Lost Planet 3, and Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z) were financial and critical bombs.
  • Wideload Games produced one Cult Classic, Stubbs the Zombie, and a couple of other flops.
  • Dave Dobson is known solely for Mac shareware hit Snood, which, at one point, boasted over 50 million players.
  • Microillusions (The Faery Tale Adventure, 1987).
  • Will Crowther and Don Woods are known in the gaming world exclusively for their seminal adventure game Colossal Cave (1976/77).
  • Gregory Yob is known only for his proto-adventure mainframe game Hunt the Wumpus (1973).
  • German studio Kaiko produced their magnum opus, Apidya (1992), and not much else.
  • Game Design Sweden AB made the 1998 PlayStation cult classic Roll Away and then some now-forgotten online games.
  • Amstar Electronics (Phoenix, 1980).

    Voice Acting 
  • Chuck E. Cheese: Most of the Make-Believe Band members' voice actors have had few if any other major roles. The sole exceptions are Bob West (Barney) and Christopher Sabat (Vegeta from Dragon Ball), who voiced Mr. Munch in Chuck E. Cheese in the Galaxy 5000.
  • Thurl Ravenscroft was one of the most influential voice artists of all time, with a very large amount of roles (including the Christmas classic "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch") and being revered in the voice acting community; but for mainstream audiences, he will forever be best-known as Tony the Tiger, for bellowing "They're gr-r-r-reat!" on cereal commercials.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Stephanie Nadolny's big claim to fame is as Kid Goku and Gohan in the Dragon Ball franchise. She's had other anime roles though, including lead roles in shows like Gravion Zwei, Parasite Dolls, and one Lupin III feature, but she'll always be known for her work in Dragon Ball.
      • She also voiced the title character of OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, but only for a few episodes before Courtenay Taylor would take over, so she's still known pretty much only for Dragon Ball Z.
    • Tiffany Vollmer, who voiced Bulma, had no other major voice roles. Her only other roles period include a two-episode bit character in Case Closed and additional voices in YuYu Hakusho. She has since moved away, and Bulma is now voiced by Monica Rial.
    • Jeremy Inman is also known mostly for only one role; in his case, it is Android 16, although he's voiced many other supporting roles in the series and in other shows.
    • Same with Phil Parsons and Nappa. Despite having credits in some other shows, Nappa is all anyone knows him for.
    • Kara Edwards was this for years, only being known for voicing Kid Goten and Videl, and pretty much retired from voice acting in anime. However a few years ago, she experienced a comeback of sorts and is voicing leads in other anime as well.
    • Elise Baughman's only major anime role is Pan in Dragon Ball GT, though she voiced smaller roles in other shows for Funimation around the same time. Nowadays, however, she only gets work voicing Pan in various Dragon Ball video games, although she also returned to voice Momiji's mother in the Fruits Basket reboot.
    • Julie Franklin voiced Agent Mai in the original Dragon Ball, and her cameo in GT. That remains her only named role, her only other credits being background voices and bit parts in Dragon Ball and YuYu Hakusho. At that time, she was dating Christopher Sabat. In recent media, however, Mai is instead voiced by Colleen Clinkenbeard.
    • Monika Antonelli's only anime credits are Puar and Chiaotzu in the Dragon Ball franchise (and some odd bit parts in the series here and there). She moved away to Minnesota in 2006, and both roles are now voiced by Brina Palencia.
  • Maile Flanagan is known for voicing the title character of Naruto and little else (except maybe Lab Rats). Though she won a Daytime Emmy for voicing the title character in Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks, a preschool cartoon, and has some bit on-camera parts, Naruto is her only major anime role (her only other anime work period was additional voices on the 2003 Astro Boy).
    • Tom Gibis voiced Shikamaru Nara and hasn't done anything else of note.
  • Ranma ˝:
    • Akane is Myriam Sirois' only major voice acting role, although she had roles in live-action shows like Stargate SG-1. She retired from acting in 2008 to become a flight attendant.
    • Boy-type Ranma's original voice actress Sarah Strange had only a couple other small voice roles (with Ranma being her only anime role) and left the series after the third season to focus on her fairly successful live-action television career. Afterwards, Ranma was voiced by Richard Ian Cox.
    • Brigitta Dau's only anime role is girl-type Ranma in the first 6 episodes of the anime and first two OVA episodes. Though she also had a role in the '90s My Little Pony cartoon and some small on-camera roles, Ranma is all she's recognized for. She moved away after her stint on the show, and Venus Terzo (a well-established voice actress) took over her role.
    • Nabiki Tendo is Angela Costain's only voice role and one of her very few acting roles before she became a pilot. The same can be said for her sister, Elaina Wotten-Costain, who filled in during Season 6.
  • Many voice actors in the Tenchi Muyo! franchise, since it was one of the first to use Union voice actors.
    • Ryoko is Petrea Burchard's only major animation role, with her only other role period being a bit part on Serial Experiments Lain. She also had some minor on-camera parts.
    • Matt Miller, who voiced Tenchi, had some other anime roles, but Tenchi is his only lead and only claim to fame. He's mostly a stage actor.
    • Ellen Gerstell's only anime role is the original voice of Mihoshi before Rebecca Forstadt took over following her retirement. She had some roles in western animation, however, notably Rapture in Jem.
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena, Sharon Becker and Leah Applebaum, the voices of Anthy and Nanami respectively, have no other major voice roles. Leah's only other roles period are a few small roles in early Pokémon episodes.
  • Speaking of Pokémon, Sarah Natochenny, the current voice of Ash, has no major roles in any other anime titles. Most of her other work is in fashion modeling and some on-camera/voice acting roles. Veronica Taylor (his original voice) however, is a very prominent anime and video game voice actress.
    • Lee Quick's only major anime credit was the original voice of Officer Jenny, with small roles in only three other shows. Her first replacement, Jamie Davyous Owens, has no other anime credits.
    • Matthew Sussman had some other acting credits but is mostly known for being the original Meowth.
    • Emily Bauer is mostly known for being the voice of Dawn and not much else.
    • Jay Goede, the voice of Mewtwo and his creator Dr. Fuji who went under the pseudonym Phillip Bartlett, has had no other voice acting roles to date, he is mostly a stage actor and has had some on-camera roles in films and television shows.
  • Almost the entire cast of the original Sailor Moon dub from DiC and Cloverway, since anime is very rarely recorded in Toronto. Many of the actors have other roles in western animation and live-action though.
  • Mimi Woods had a handful of anime and video game voice acting roles in the '90s, but her only major role was Major Motoko Kusanagi in the original Ghost in the Shell (1995) film and video game. She has since moved away from Los Angeles and retired from voice acting in 2001. Since then, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn has voiced the Major in most other Ghost in the Shell media.
  • Another anime example is Adam Conlon, who was Kouta in Elfen Lied. He had a handful of other anime roles for ADV, but that was his only lead, and all he's been remembered for. He was replaced with Blake Shepard when the OVA was finally dubbed in 2013.
  • Several Robotech voice actors including Melanie MacQueen (Lisa Hayes in Macross), Robin Levenson (Sammie Porter in Macross), and Melissa Newman (Dana Sterling in Masters). Carl Macek even acknowledged that he hadn't had contact with Newman since the show ended, and he didn't know what happened to her. However, MacQueen also played "Lady Luck" in a long series of commercials for the Virginia Lottery, and is somewhat well-known for that too.
  • Blossom in The Powerpuff Girls (1998) is Cathy Cavadini's only major animation role, though she's had supporting parts in other shows, games, and films.
    • Jennifer Martin, on the other hand, has barely done anything except for Ms. Sara Bellum, which hasn't gotten better due to said character being written out of the reboot.
  • Cheryl Chase is only known for voicing Angelica Pickles in Rugrats, though she's had some supporting roles in other cartoons and early anime dubs (including the original My Neighbor Totoro), nothing nearly as recognized.
  • In a similar fashion to Thurl Ravenscroft, Rodger Bumpass has done voice acting for many shows and films and is well known to most voice acting fans, but to the mainstream public, he's just the guy who voices Squidward.
  • The lead Simpsons voice actors:
    • Dan Castellaneta (Homer) and Nancy Cartwright (Bart) are both very prolific voice actors with a few scattered live-action roles. However, none of their characters are nearly as iconic as their Simpsons roles; Dan Castellaneta is next-best known for replacing Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin while Nancy Cartwright is next best known for replacing Christine Cavanaugh as Chuckie on Rugrats.
    • Julie Kavner had some success as a television actress on Rhoda, but today is only known for being the voice of Marge.
    • Yeardley Smith (Lisa) has this the worst. Apart from a couple of one-off characters that are similar to Lisa, she does not play any other voice roles on The Simpsons. Her only other major leading role came with 1993's We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, which was a box office bomb. She does occasionally work as an on-camera actress with bit parts in several popular movies (such as The Legend of Billie Jean, As Good as It Gets, and City Slickers), and a supporting role in the now-forgotten cult sitcom Herman's Head.
  • Roy Conrad is best known as the voice of Ben, the protagonist from cult adventure game Full Throttle, and beyond a few scattered voice-over roles for LucasArts games and on-screen extra roles, not much else.
  • Most of the Velma and Daphne voice actresses from Scooby-Doo, including Nicole Jaffe (Velma #1), Stefanianna Christopherson (Daphne #1), Heather North (Daphne #2), Pat Stevens (Velma #2), and Marla Frumpkin (Velma #3). They all had some scattered live-action credits, but nothing nearly as remembered. Completely averted with Grey DeLisle (Daphne #4), Mary Kay Bergman (Daphne #3), BJ Ward (Velma #4) and Kate Micucci (Velma #6). Mindy Cohn (Velma #5) is a mixed example, with Velma being her only major voice role, but being just as recognized for her live-action role as Natalie in The Facts of Life.
  • Louis Chirillo is pretty much only well-known for Dukey from Johnny Test.
  • Thom Huge performed in the Garfield Specials (except Here Comes Garfield) and Garfield and Friends as Jon Arbuckle, Binky the Clown, Roy the Rooster, Gort the pig and assorted minor roles, but has no other credits. Justified, as he was actually an employee of Paws, Inc. (Jim Davis's company in Indiana) who apparently was meant to be a stand-in voice, but did such a great job that they didn't want to replace him.
  • Most of the Sonic The Hedgehog cast from 1998 to 2004, as voice acting is rarely done in San Diego. Jon St. John and Lani Minella are the only exceptions, as their video game credits are a mile long.
  • Most people only know Charles Martinet as the voice of Mario (and Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, etc.) This has changed somewhat since the advent of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, however, where he voices the hugely popular Paarthurnax; probably the only thing keeping him from being candidate for Two-Hit Wonder instead is the fact that because Paarthurnax is so different from his other roles, many people don't realize it's him.
  • Terry Scott was a very well-known comic actor in his native U.K., but is solely remembered in America for being the voice of Penfold.
    • It seems likely that Shauna Macdonald will fall into this. Though recognised by cult fans for a few other roles in her careernote , most will probably only recognise her for the voice of Professor Squawkencluck, as it's the only major role she's had in mainstream TV so far, and her credits aren't much longer than that role.
  • Amy Kincaid is known for two things: being the wife of veteran voice actor Liam O'Brien and voicing Shirley Fenette in Code Geass.
  • Zach Tyler Eisen voiced Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender. He has had a few bit voice acting parts in some Nick Jr. shows (for example, he was Pablo's speaking voice in The Backyardigans' first season, a year before Avatar premiered) and voiced the lead in the animated flop Ant Bully. Other than that, Avatar is what Eisen's exclusively known for, especially since he retired from voice acting in 2008.
  • From The Backyardigans, LaShawn Jefferies seems to be known almost exclusively as the speaking voice of Uniqua. She did play a character named Christmas in the film Whitepaddy, but other than that, she's only got Uniqua.
  • Almost any Disney Princess voice actress:
    • Adriana Casselotti, the voice of Snow White, has no other acting or voice acting credits, except as an additional voice in the song "If I Only Had a Heart" in The Wizard of Oz. This is largely because Walt Disney himself put a clause in her contract that forbade her from ever doing any other work in the entertainment industry so as not to "spoil the illusion of Snow White." Out of her replacements in the role, Mary Kay Bergman is the only one with a noteworthy career. Bergman's successor, Carolyn Gardner, was a Disney employee, while Katherine Von Till, her current voice actress, has had a number of minor on-camera parts. Pamela Ribon, who voiced her in Ralph Breaks the Internet, is primarily an internet blogger, so she hasn't had any other notable voice roles.
    • Ilene Woods' only role of note was as the title character in Cinderella.
    • Mary Costa is known as the voice of Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, and not much else. To make matters worse, Aurora herself only had a handful of lines, with the part mostly being through singing.
    • Jodi Benson comes the closest to averting this as a strictly voice actress, since she's had some decent success doing voices for several cartoons, but she will always be known as the voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Her other major credits include Barbie in the Toy Story films and the title role in Don Bluth's Thumbelina (another princess role).
    • Paige O'Hara's only major role is Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Most of her other work is on Broadway. Julie Nathanson, who replaced Paige as Belle's voice in 2011, mostly does secondary and minor roles.
    • Linda Larkin, the speaking voice of Jasmine in Aladdin has no other major credits. Her singing voice however, Lea Salonga, has had much more success as a singer for other Disney characters, as well as a career on Broadway, and is one of the most successful Filipino singers of all time.
    • Pocahontas's speaking and singing voice actresses, Irene Bedard and Judy Kuhn respectively, have no other claims to fame, though Kuhn had a decent career on Broadway and a couple Tony nominations.
    • Averted with Mulan's voice actress Ming-Na Wen, who was also Chun-Li in the live-action Street Fighter film, Jing Mei Chen in ER, and Agent May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., for which she might actually be better known now. Mulan's singing voice was Lea Salonga.
    • Also averted with Anika Noni Rose as Tiana in The Princess and the Frog, who's probably better known for her Broadway career and her role in Dreamgirls.
    • Rapunzel in Tangled is Mandy Moore's only major voice acting role (though Aerith in Kingdom Hearts comes close), but she was already known for her singing career. She's also known for voicing Callie on Sheriff Callie's Wild West, but it didn't last too long.
    • Elsa in Frozen is Idina Menzel's only voice role, but her Broadway career is her biggest claim to fame.
    • Lastly, the titular character of Moana is the only major role of note for Auli'i Cravalho.
  • Dana Gaier is known for voicing Edith in the Despicable Me series and nothing else.
  • Rob Wiethoff voiced John Marston in Red Dead Redemption before retiring from acting to focus on raising his family.
  • Underground rapper Chris "Young Maylay" Bellard had one very memorable voice acting performance: Carl "CJ" Johnson in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
  • Michael Hollick was the voice of Niko Bellic in Grand Theft Auto IV. His only other credits were a few cameo appearances in the Law & Order franchise and minor motion capture in lower-profile games.
  • Ditto with fellow GTA IV alumni Coolie Ranx, whose musical career as a ska singer is overshadowed by his memorable voice role as Little Jacob.
  • Ellen McLain will always be known as GLaDOS in the Portal franchise. She's done some bit voice acting in other Valve games and had a memorable cameo in Pacific Rim, but nothing major.
  • Christopher Robin Miller's only known role to many fans is the title character in the Professor Layton series. Nothing else he's done so far has come close.
  • Since video games are rarely recorded in Seattle, the original cast of the Backyard Sports series never really did much afterwards (except Jen Taylor, Mark Lund, and Dex Manley).
  • Aside from a few audiobooks, David Kolin's only voice acting role or any other acting role for that matter was the voice of Felix the Cat in Felix the Cat: The Movie.
  • Maggie Blue O'Hara has had roles in Vancouver and Hong Kong, and shares two roles with Megumi Hayashibara, (three if you count R!Lime) the one role everyone knows her for is Shadowcat. Everything else is cult at best, and the one that isn't (Dragon Ball Z) is a forgotten dub that isn't even on DVD.
  • All of the lead voice actors in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic aside from Tara Strong (Twilight Sparkle) and maybe Cathy Weseluck (Spike) are known outside Canada almost exclusively for that one series, as most of their roles are anime dubs, obscure shows and roles that were replaced. For the supporting cast, it varies.
  • Ironically, despite being a major Anime VA, and a former Vancouver resident during its golden age, Erin Fitzgerald's only major Western Animation roles, May and Nazz, are both in Ed Eddn Eddy. Nothing else comes close in that Medium, not even Monster High.
  • Jeremy Shada is so far known pretty much only for Finn. The closest would probably be Lance.
  • Jason Ritter, the son of the late John Ritter, has played bit parts on TV shows and movies for most of his career, with only a few leading roles, but most people will be hard-pressed to name any role of his other than Dipper Pines.
  • Newton Pittman is only known for voicing Gray Fullbuster in Fairy Tail. He's had some supporting, guest, and minor roles for other shows for Funimation, but Gray is his only lead. His last non-Fairy Tail credit was in 2015, meaning that Gray is the only voice work he's getting right now. This is largely because voice acting is not his main career. According to Newt himself, most of his work is in microbiology and cardiac ICU, and that voice acting is just something he does on the side for fun.
  • When Alison Lohman voiced the title role in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, she was a rising star with roles in small films and two short-lived TV shows. A few years later, she starred in Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell, but then immediately retired from acting. These days, she might be best known as Nausicaä, which is unheard of for any other "celebrity" cast in a Disney Ghibli dub.
  • Romi Dames has a few voice acting credits, but she's primarily known only for voicing Musa in the Nickelodeon dub of Winx Club, and maybe Lena Luthor on DC Super Hero Girls.
  • Ted Whitney's only major acting credit was as King Terenas Menethil II in Warcraft III, a role often misattributed to Tony Jay.
  • Except for Billy West (Doug Funnie and Roger Klotz in the Nick era), almost everybody who voice acted on Doug has no other notable credits because mainstream voice acting is rarely done in New York City. However, Chris Phillips (Roger Klotz in the Disney era) was also the voice for Nick Jr.'s Face during the 1990s, while Constance Schulman (Patti Mayonnaise) resurfaced as Yoga Jones on Orange Is the New Black.
  • Much of the New York voice cast for Courage the Cowardly Dog haven't done anything else significant. For example, Thea White (Muriel) is otherwise only known for being the widow of Andy White, the drummer on The Beatles' first single, "Love Me Do". Averted with Lionel Wilson (Eustace's first voice actor, who was Tom Terrific decades earlier), voice director Peter Fernandez, Billie Lou Watt, and the Los Angeles guest voices (such as Jim Cummings (1952)).
  • The entire English cast of Bubblegum Crisis and Bubblegum Crash is this, since it was a very early dub from Southwynde Studios in Wilmington, North Carolina. None of the main cast has any other anime credits, except for Sinda Nichols (Priss) and Susan Grillo (Nene) having one other credit each. The only actor from the dub still working today is Michael Sinterniklaas, who voiced background characters and small roles (notably young Mackie).
  • Melanie Harrison has some small roles, but she's mainly known for voicing Piggy and Camilla on Muppet Babies (2018).
  • Of the three child actors who voiced the humans in My Little Pony 'n Friends, only Scott Menville (Danny) found success as an adult voice actor. Bettina Bush (Megan) only has done minor roles, with her only other notable credits being the titular character in Rainbow Brite, Dotty Dog in The Get Along Gang and Seattle Montoya in Stargate Infinity, and Keri Houlihan (Molly) was the voice of Marcie in a few Peanuts specials. As for Tammy Amerson, who voiced Megan in the pilot specials and the movie, she mostly played bit parts in unsuccessful sitcoms, like the infamous Cop Rock.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • All Sue Ulu's remembered for is voicing Ritsuko in the original Evangelion dub before quickly retiring from voice acting. She had some supporting parts in other shows around the same time, and was also a co-lead in Dirty Pair Flash, but nothing else remembered today.
      • Ritsuko was voiced by Mary Faber in the Amazon Prime dubs of the Rebuild films, who has no other anime voice credits, although she has some scattered video game and western animation credits. Most of her work is on stage.
    • Tristan MacAvery is best remembered as Gendo in the original dub. He had some other decent parts at ADV around the same time, but nothing nearly that big, and he hasn't been heard from in over 20 years. He apparently retired from voice acting after a fallout with ADV co-founder Matt Greenfield.
    • Kyle Sturdivant's only notable role is Kaworu in the original TV series dub (he was replaced with Greg Ayres in the director's cut version). His only other roles were bit parts and background voices in a few other shows.
    • Kendra Benham's only credit is Maya Ibuki in the original TV series dub. She later married and divorced Spike Spencer, the voice of Shinji.
      • The same goes for her replacement in the original movies (dubbed by Gaijin Productions), Amy Seeley, who's only other anime credit is a bit part in Read or Die and background voices in Dead Leaves (both also for Gaijin), where she also co-adapted and directed. Most of her work is in standup comedy. She reprised Ibuki 20 years later for the Amazon Prime dubs of the Rebuild films.
    • Both of Fuyutsuki's original voice actors, Guil Lunde (TV series) and Michael John Ross (original movies, Rebuild Prime dubs). Lunde had some supporting roles in other ADV dubs in the 90s, but Fuyutsuki is all he's remembered for. Ross's only other anime credit at all is a small role in Read or Die (he's married to Amy Seeley).
    • Aaron Krohn is best known for voicing Kaji in the original dub, as well as taking over Kaworu for the original movies. He had some small roles at ADV at the time, but he's long retired from anime voice acting, and now works as a stage actor in New York and does occassional live-action TV appearances.
    • In the Netflix dub, Asuka is Stephanie McKeon's only anime credit, and one of her very few voice acting credits. Most of her work is on stage (including Anna in the West End production of Disney's Frozen). She currently lives in London. The dub's divisive reception may have had something to do with this.
    • Casey Mongillo's only major role of note in an anime was dubbing Shinji in the Netflix dub, as the majority of their roles are secondary and minor characters. Again, the dub's divisive reception likely factors in with this.
  • Pixar movies:
    • Jordan Nagai's only well-known role was Russell in Up when he was still a child. He reprised the role in shorts and video games related to the movie and voiced a character in one episode of The Simpsons around the time Up was at the height of its popularity, but he quit acting to focus on his schooling.
    • Sarah Vowell, the voice of Violet in The Incredibles is an author and NPR commentator who has no other acting experience, voice or otherwise, except reprising the role of Violet in video games and other media related to The Incredibles.
    • In the same film, Brad Bird, who voices Edna Mode, has no other voice acting experience, as he is primarily an animator and director.
    • Michael Wallis, the voice of the Sheriff of Radiator Springs in Cars, is a historian and journalist who has written 17 books on the Western United States. He was selected for this role because of his expertise on the area in which the film series is set.
    • Lou Romano, voice of Linguini in Ratatouille, is primarily an animator, so he didn't have any other notable voice roles.
    • Ben Burtt and Elissa Knight, the voices of WALL-E and EVE in WALL•E are a sound effects designer and an animator, respectively, so they are not actors.
    • John Morris, voice of Andy in the Toy Story movies, has no other major voice acting credits beyond additional voices in a few other projects.
    • Mary Gibbs, voice of Boo in Monsters, Inc. was only a child when she voiced the character, and she has no other credits besides video games based on the film. She is credited as an additional voice in Inside Out because old clips of her as Boo were used for Riley as a toddler.
    • Kaitlyn Dias voiced Riley in Inside Out and afterwards went back to doing low-profile short films.
    • Hayden Rolance, who voiced Nemo in Finding Dory has few other credits besides reprising his role as Nemo for Disney Infinity. He replaced Alexander Gould, whose voice had deepened too much to reprise the role, and other than Nemo, his only notable credit is playing the son on Weeds.
  • Tonia Gayle Smith who voiced Diana in Dungeons & Dragons (1983) is her only voice acting role, as well as her only major acting role. While the rest of the cast members who voiced the kids have had long acting careers, aside from playing a minor role in The Facts of Life, Smith has never acted in anything else.
  • Amanda Lipitz, under the stage name "Amanda Brown," is known only for voicing the main character Zoey/Ichigo in 4Kids' version of Tokyo Mew Mew (AKA Mew Mew Power) and little else. Her only other credits at all are a one-episode guest role on Magical DoReMi and a recurring role on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward. Most of her work is as a producer on Broadway.
  • Chloé Hollings is known as the voice of Widowmaker in Overwatch and very little else.
  • Jonathan Freeman's only film role of note is Jafar in Aladdin and its sequel The Return Of Jafar; he is mostly a stage actor otherwise.
  • Chris Kirkpatrick, singer and former member of *Nsync's only major acting role is Chip Skylark on The Fairly Oddparents, some people would argue that he's a music one-hit wonder as well, even though Chip's song "My Shiny Teeth and Me" wasn't an actual hit.

    Web Original 
  • The channel FanMadeStuff got millions of views on their (since-unlisted) Epic Rap Battles of History fan video "Guy Fawkes vs The Joker". However, they got next to no following out of it, with almost all of their other videos having around 20,000 views at best. The only exception is the behind-the-scenes video for their fanmade ERB, and even that one didn't come close to the ERB's success/notoriety.
  • HDCYT uploaded an extremely viral video in 2007, titled Charlie bit my finger - again !. The video is about, as the title would suggest, a baby named Charlie biting his slightly older brother in the finger. For reasons completely unknown, it amassed over 800,000,000 views. This formerly made it the most viewed video of all time, and for a while after that the most viewed non-music video of all time. While Charlie bit my finger - The Accident wasn't a slouch either, getting over 45,000,000 views, it's obviously nowhere near as successful as the original. Since even breaking the 100 million mark is a feat normally reserved for music videos by popular artists, don't expect them (or anyone else for that matter) to achieve that kind of success again.
  • Melbourne, Australia transit system operator Metro Trains' "Dumb Ways to Die" PSA was a massive viral hit and has amassed over 325 million views on YouTube. The song from the video, written and recorded by members of indie/alternative bands Tinpan Orange and The Cat Empire, even reached #9 on the singles charts in Belgium (of all places), as well as peaking at #38 on the UK Indie charts and #94 in the Netherlands. However, the sequel videos and further installments in the Dumb Ways to Die series got next to no attention at all on the internet.
  • Team Fortress 2 streamer scarlet_xo is pretty much known only for playing the Female Narrator in Turning a Sphere Outside In and nothing else, to the point that her comment section is practically flooded with Huggbees fans referencing the video and calling her his sister.

    Western Animation 

  • The Saavedra position in chess, one of the most famous endgame studies, was named after Spanish priest Rev. Fernando Saavedra, who discovered a winning underpromotion in a position thought to be a draw. A weak amateur, this discovery is all that he is known for.
  • Short-lived film studio Vestron Pictures only managed to create one entirely self-produced hit: Dirty Dancing. Primarily a home video distributor before the success of that film, their attempts to become more involved in the financing of their films never bore fruit, and they declared bankruptcy in 1991.

In-Universe examples:

    Anime & Manga 
  • Wish from Spellbound! Magical Princess Lil'Pri only has one song he sings in-show, while the titular Power Trio gets four.
  • Space☆Dandy and his band Dropkix are best remembered for "Lonely Nights" — played repetitively for two hours at one gig — and disbanding immediately after their big break. However, this performance unknowingly stopped an all-out war.
  • In Comic Girls, Ririka Hanazono, the dorm matron for four aspiring manga artists, is a non-musical example. She once published a manga volume when she was young, one that Kaos discovered was surprisingly popular. Despite that, Ririka couldn't find the motivation to do another and gave up, believing that it's more fulfilling to draw for fun than to do it professionally.

    Comic Books 
  • Tanner Clark, Amelia's Cool Aunt from Amelia Rules!, is a former rock singer, who gave out one highly acclaimed album, before leaving a promising career for undisclosed personal reasons. Don't call her a One-Hit Wonder, though.
    CAN YOU BELIEVE HER?? I'll give HER one hit, and she'll WONDER where her TEETH went!

  • Baby Jane Hudson's song "I've Written a Letter to Daddy" in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?.
  • The Wonders in That Thing You Do!, for whom their one hit is the titular song. The irony of the band's name is pointed out by their own manager after the band fails to produce a second hit. In real life, the song (written and performed by Candy Butchers frontman Mike Viola and Fountains of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger) made the real Hot 100, but ironically, it peaked at #41.
  • The protagonist of About a Boy is a 36-year-old bachelor who lives off the royalties of a hit Christmas song composed by his father.
    • The book of the same name from which the film was adapted goes to great lengths to show just how absurd a situation this put the protagonist and his father in: the protagonist gets angry and depressed every time he hears the song being sung by buskers, and his father, absolutely desperate to be taken seriously as a musician, once writes an entire musical in the course of one day.
  • In the first Bridget Jones movie, Bridget's friend Tom is a former One-Hit Wonder pop singer from the '80s.
  • In yet another Hugh Grant movie, the main character in Music and Lyrics is a former member of a successful British pop group who had just one hit as a solo artist.
  • The main character of Semi-Pro is a former one-hit wonder who used the money from his song "Love Me Sexy" to buy an ABA team.

  • The murder victim in The Silkworm was a writer whose first book was a great success with the critics, but nothing he wrote afterward came even close to match it, critically or commercially. He still expects everyone to treat him like a literary luminary, though.
  • The Kim Newman story "One Hit Wanda" is about an Everly Brothers-style duo who, having offended their muse, found the song they wrote for her to be a curse. It was insanely popular, but it was the only song anyone wanted to hear and, eventually, the only song they were capable of playing.
  • In the Marilyn Sachs YA novel Almost Fifteen, protagonist Imogen's parents don't really work; her father is a dilettante photographer and her mother is a perennial college student. They live off of the royalties of The Friendship Cookbook, the only creation of Imogen's great-grandmother.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Drive Shaft, Charlie's band in Lost, who hit it big with "You All Everybody". In one deleted scene, Shannon remarks about having "their one song" stuck in one's head.
  • The Zit Remedy/The Zits - Joey, Snake and Wheels' band on Degrassi Junior High/Degrassi High - was a one-hit wonder not only in the fact that "Everybody Wants Something" was their only hit, but it was their only song. It's a fact that still gets them mercilessly teased even as adults.
  • On The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Ashley ends up being a one-hit wonder. Her actress, Tatyana Ali, herself became a One Hit Wonder after the show ended.
  • Marcus Little of The Suite Life on Deck turns up at Seven Seas High, having faded into obscurity after his career as Lil' Little peaked with his sole hit "Retainer Baby".
  • "Superstar Machine" by "Li'l Davey Cross" in Mr. Show. It charts at number one, becomes club music, gets parodied by a Weird Al-lookalike, and ends up as "hold" music on the phone.
  • The 1999 comedy-drama Hunting Venus centered on a fictional New Romantic band from the early 1980s, The Venus Hunters, who were getting together for a reunion gig despite the fact they only ever had one hit. Lead singer Martin Clunes finds a problem... they've forgotten the words and how to play the music. Nobody can find a copy of the single. And their charismatic guitarist Neil Morrisey has had a sex-change operation...
  • Jessica Jones: According to a blurb in the official music video for Trish Walker's hit pop song "I Want Your Cray Cray", the movie Snatch and Grab was Trish's only box office success.
  • In My Name Is Earl, Tim Stack plays a washed-up version of himself, coasting on his starring role in Series/Son of the Beach.
  • During the "Don't Stop the Music" arc of Ghost Writer, Leif, the electrician for Lenni's music video, was revealed to be a teen popstar in the 70s with a hit called "Girl". It's implied that his success didn't continue because he tried to follow the same formula and refused to branch out.

  • Chris Gaines, Breakup Breakout member of an '80s one-hit wonder band. Played by Real Life artist wonder Garth Brooks.
    • Ironically, his only pop hit was in this persona.
  • The song "King of Rock 'n' Roll" by Prefab Sprout was about a 50's rocker who is forced to sing his one stupid novelty hit over and over to crowds who only want to hear that one song. In a sad bit of irony, "The King of Rock 'n' Roll" became Prefab Sprout's biggest hit in the UK (they had six other Top 40 singles, but none of them troubled the Top 20), because people only cared about the goofy chorus and nothing more.

    Video Games 
  • In Dead Island, one of the player characters is Sam B, a rapper famous for his one hit, "Who Do You Voodoo, Bitch?". The fact that his one hit is a Horrorcore track he wrote as a joke after years of trying to gain momentum as a serious, politically conscious rapper, and that no one shows any interest in anything he's produced apart from "Who Do You Voodoo, Bitch?", has left him extremely bitter.
  • Bugsnax: Wiggle Wigglebottom has "Do the Wiggle" as her defining hit, with everything before and after it so far being entirely ignored; she came to the island you're in for inspiration, so she can finally top it. She finds the whole situation particularly frustrating because she actually cared about writing everything else, while "Do the Wiggle" was improvised on the spot after arriving at the studio late and so sleep-deprived she barely even remembers writing it.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Shining Song Starnova, the titular idol unit becomes this during Natsuki’s route. They can’t replicate the success of their first CD album release, and the fact that they can’t settle on an image and don’t get embroiled in scandals causes the public to gradually lose interest in them, with a corresponding decline in sales figures. Despite their best efforts, the group can’t get out of this slump and Starnova is ultimately forced to disband, though its members go on to have successful individual careers afterward.

    Western Animation 
  • Phineas and the Ferbtones in Phineas and Ferb, for "Gitchee Gitchee Goo". Intentionally, because who would want to do that every day?
    "Follow-up single?! Who do you think we are, some two-bit hacks who will keep writing you songs simply because you pay us obscene amounts of cash?! Phineas and the Ferb-Tones are strictly a one-hit wonder. Good day to you, sir!"
    • Also, their mother Linda apparently was a one-hit wonder in the '80s with "I'm Lindana and I Wanna Have Fun". Her explanation of this trope was used by the boys as a how-to checklist.
  • In My Life as a Teenage Robot, Brad sings a "one-hit wonder" song called "Minky Momo". Not kidding.
  • Foxxy Love of Drawn Together was formerly a one-hit wonder with her band The Foxxy 5, with the song "La La Labia".
  • Kaeloo: In one episode from Season 2, Kaeloo, Quack Quack, Mr. Cat, Eugly and Pretty form their own rock band and make up a song that becomes very popular. The group winds up quitting the music business because, at their second concert, where they were going to play the same song, the fans cheer so loudly that they (and Stumpy, who was backstage) all go deaf.

Media about One-Hit Wonders:

    Media about One-Hit Wonders 
  • Todd in the Shadows has a side series called "One Hit Wonderland", where he gives retrospectives on artists known for only one hit: their careers before and after the hit, the context of their hit, and whether or not he thinks they deserved better.
  • Everclear isn't one, but they did have a song called "One Hit Wonder" about such an artist. The song was partly autobiographical about the band's feelings after "Santa Monica" hit it big.
  • In the video for Short Skirt/Long Jacket, by group Cake, the last person to be interviewed in the video describes the group as a One-Hit Wonder (which they weren't; In fact, they had already had several, much bigger hits than that song).
  • Mike Posner's "I Took A Pill In Ibiza" is a song about him being a One Hit Wonder. He actually had a couple of hits, but "Cooler Than Me" is the only one people remembered from him... until, ironically, the Seeb remix of "Ibiza" became an even bigger hit.
    I'm just a singer who already blew his shot
    I get along with old timers
    Cause my name's a reminder of a pop song people forgot
  • Nizzahon Magic's "MTG Top 10: JANKIEST Decks to Top 8 a ProTour or Grand Prix" is a subjective list, but it has one key criterion: the featured decks must be one-hit wonders, i.e. they only got one Premier Event Top 8 and were never relevant again. The one exception is the #10 deck, which is a Two-Hit Wonder instead.