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Short-Lived Big Impact

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Died aged 32. Appeared in only four completed films as an adult. And a whole film genre wouldn't exist without him.

"It's people like that who make you realize how little you've accomplished. It is a sobering thought, for example, that when Mozart was my age,note  he had been dead for two years."
Tom Lehrer, introducing "Alma" on the 1965 album That Was the Year That Wasnote 

Sometimes a show, performer or franchise, for some reason or another, doesn't last too long. Perhaps Executive Meddling reared its ugly head and it was Screwed by the Network, perhaps Author Existence Failure was involved, or maybe it was simply ahead of its time. However, a few years down the road, the genre that it belonged to explodes in popularity, and when you interview the creative minds behind the genre, they ALWAYS put that particular work front and center as their biggest influence. Quite simply, it was a Short-Lived Big Impact.

This trope is about something having left a noticeable impact on its genre, even though the work/artist was cut short. Short works that were great but have not influenced their genre a lot yet (ex: Firefly, Gravity Falls) don't go here.

In serial media (comic books, anime, western cartoons, etc.), this trope can manifest as a work that was cut short or simply not meant to be a Long Runner, but the impact it left on the genre is still felt.


In music, this is not a One-Hit Wonder: a Short-Lived Big Impact musical act might actually have multiple hits before they left the scene, or even no hits at all. One Hit Wonder usually refers to an artist or act that left no impact beyond the popularity of their one hit, a Short-Lived Big Impact's effect on their genre is still felt.

Can overlap with Dead Artists Are Better, Too Good for This Sinful Earth and Too Cool to Live. Some of the examples in One-Book Author fit here too.



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    Acting & Modeling 
  • James Dean had a four-year TV career of mostly-forgotten roles on the then-popular Genre Anthology series of the day. He then starred in just three Hollywood films and died in a tragic car crash at age 24 shortly after finishing the third one, but his performances in East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause (especially the latter) defined the "misunderstood bad-boy teen" image of the era.
  • Bruce Lee earned fame as Kato on The Green Hornet and starred in only five films, and died at the age of 32, but he is widely credited with introducing martial-arts films to the United States, and popularizing Asian culture. His fighting philosophy still lives on to this day, and he has inspired dozens upon dozens of Bruce Lee clones.
  • Heath Ledger was just 28 when he died, but with his performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight, he became the first actor to win an Academy Award (as Best Supporting Actor) for a comic book movie.
  • John Cazale only acted in five films during his career, before dying of lung cancer in 1978 at age 42. However, his work is some of the most enduring in Hollywood history: Those five filmsnote  were all nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, and are all seminal classics of the "New Hollywood" era.
  • Grace Kelly herself wasn't particularly short-lived, but her career was short; she only appeared in 11 films between 1951 and 1956 before giving up acting for good to become the Princess of Monaco. However, several of her films became classics, she won an Academy Award and in 1999, the American Film Institute included her among the top 50 greatest screen legends in American film history.
  • Jean Harlow died in 1937 at the age of twenty-six, having only been in the film business for about nine years - and she had worked only as an extra for two of them. Yet she was the most famous blonde bombshell of the day and went down as an iconic sex symbol (her scene in Hell's Angels is the Trope Namer for Slip into Something More Comfortable). There was even a national day of mourning in the UK when she died.
  • Jean Harlow's Spiritual Successor Marilyn Monroe lasted a little longer - dying at thirty-six - but her career was pretty short too. Although she had been working in films since 1947, her big break as a sex symbol didn't come until 1953 and she would be dead less than ten years later. She's a pop culture icon and one of the most famous stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood (even if she technically came in around the end of it).
  • Gia Carangi's career as a professional fashion model only lasted six years (1977-1983), and when she died three years later at age 26 of AIDS-related complications, she was largely forgotten, but her legacy in the fashion world lives on. Cindy Crawford, who rose to prominence the same year Carangi died, was nicknamed "Baby Gia" due to her resemblance to Carangi.


    Anime & Manga 
  • Kuso Miso Technique was just a one-shot manga. Its impact in the form of the "yaranaika" meme and helping to bring the Bara Genre to the attention of the anime fandom came... 20 years after its publication.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion only lasted 26 episodes, but is nevertheless one of the most iconic anime ever. It's telling that people were treating the Super Robot Genre like it had been deconstructed to death and creating nostalgia-laden throwbacks to it like GaoGaiGar as little as a single year after Evangelion.
  • Cowboy Bebop. Much like Evangelion, this is a 26-episode series which is frequently hailed as one of the best anime ever created, if not the best, even by those who don't like anime.
  • FLCL, from the same studio that made Evangelion, is a mini-series that consists of only six episodes, but it's often cited by American anime fans as probably one of the best anime comedies thanks to memorable characters, impressively high-quality animation, and a catchy soundtrack. [adult swim] also often states that FLCL is probably their favorite anime (thanks to the show's humor being somewhat in line with what Adult Swim likes to do with their own shows).
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica may have lasted 12 episodes, 2 compilation movies, and a sequel film, but to most anime fans (especially in the West), it is one of the most memorable (still very popular up to this day) and successful anime of all time, probably due to it being a Darker and Edgier take on the Magical Girl genre, the complex plot, the memorable characters, and the fantastic soundtrack. It also turned Studio Shaft and Gen Urobuchi into Household Names among anime fans.
  • Azumanga Daioh had only four volumes, and the anime adaptation had only 26 episodes. It's still considered a classic, with it being well known for influencing the Slice of Life and Moe genres as well as being the Trope Codifier for Schoolgirl Series.

  • While Bill Hicks started young, most of what's available from him comes from 1988 to 1993, shortly before his death from pancreatic cancer at the age of 32. His material has influenced a whole generation of comics such as David Cross, Patton Oswalt, and Sarah Silverman.
  • Mike Nichols and Elaine May formed an influential and ground-breaking improvisational comedy team in the late 1950s but had disbanded by 1961.
  • Another big influence on many modern comics is Mitch Hedberg, especially today's one-liner comedians.
  • Lenny Bruce died slightly older than most examples here (he died in 1966 at age 40), but his rude (and obscene in its day) sets were pioneering and helped set the tone of such comics that came after (as well as contemporaries such as George Carlin).

    Comic Books 
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths lasted only 12 issues over the span of 11 months, but is the Trope Namer for the Crisis Crossover, with numerous companies such as Marvel Comics and even anime and other media making use of the idea.note 
  • Watchmen - a 12 issue monthly comic that ran for just over a year, and initially protected by an editorial mandate from DC forbidding anything from anything else from being written in the same universe (though that ceased being the case in 2012), yet perhaps more than any other comic it made or codified everything about The Dark Age of Comic Books.
  • The Ultimate Marvel line is comparatively much smaller and less-read than Marvel Comics' mainstream output, having ceased publication after "only" fifteen years, but nonetheless has proven very influential in both the film and TV adaptations since the 2000s. It'd take too long to list all of them, but just to name a few Ultimate elements that made it into other media:
  • The X-Men plot line Days of Future Past only lasted for two issues in 1981, yet it is considered one of the most popular and influential plots in the entire series.
  • Jim Steranko's entire Marvel output consists of his seminal run on Nick Fury, two issues of X-Men and three issues of Captain America, a single romance comic and a horror story, for a total of 29 issues. He's been compared to Jimi Hendrix in how influential his small body of work was.
  • With the exception of Kamandi, most of Jack Kirby's works for DC Comics in the '70s were short-runners, with O.M.A.C. lasting eight issues, the Demon for sixteen and his New Gods series lasting eleven (both New Gods and Forever People) or seventeen for Mister Miracle. Yet they all became colossal influences on the creators to come and the characters became a staple of DCU, with Darkseid being considered one of DC's greatest villains of all time.
  • Todd Mc Farlane's run on Spider-Man lasted from 1988-1991 and contributed a total of 44 issues plus a one-shot mini story in an issue of "Spectacular Spider-Man" featuring The Prowler, he is still considered to be one of the greatest and most influential artists on the series and his issues are still among the most collected among collectors.
  • God Nose was a one-shot, self-published title done by Jack "Jaxon" Jackson in 1964. It was only a one-shot but paved the way for many other Underground Comics such as the work of Robert Crumb and was even the first real underground comic.
  • Jim Lee's run on X-Men is considered one of the most iconic and influential of the series; he illustrated a total of 25 issues between 1989-1992.

  • Eddie and the Cruisers is an in-world example: the eponymous band is hailed as the forerunners of modern rock even though the band disbanded after the sudden death/disappearance of their lead singer/songwriter.
  • The Evil Dead film series is considered one of the big names of horror, despite consisting of only four movies (the original trilogy, made between 1981 and 1993, and a controversial reboot from 2013), compared to other big horror franchises which often go well into the double digits.
  • French director Jean Vigo directed only two feature films, Zéro de conduite and L'Atalante, before his death in 1934 at 29 years old. He is nonetheless considered one of the greatest directors of all time, and massively influenced French cinema, including the directors of the French New Wave (he was a favourite of François Truffaut). There's even a prestigious award named after him, the Prix Jean Vigo.
  • When the TV documentary film Big Fun in the Big Town was first broadcast on Dutch television in 1986 it had a huge impact on its viewers. It is credited with popularizing Hip-Hop in the Netherlands and inspired the Dutch language hip-hop acts that would follow from the late 1980s, early 1990s on. Amazingly enough, this entire broadcast is only 40 minutes long!
  • Herk Harvey only directed one feature film — Carnival of Souls — but that one film is one of the most influential and acclaimed cult classics of all time, directly inspiring the far more well-known Night of the Living Dead (1968) and earning a spot in The Criterion Collection.

  • John Keats was only 25 when he died in 1821, with only three books of his work published, but is considered one of the Great Romantic Poets.
  • Stieg Larsson, author of the Millennium Trilogy (of which The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the first book), died from a heart attack in 2004 before finishing what was supposed to be a five-book series. The series became a phenomenon, and many a modern author is already showing influence from his books, especially amongst the Nordic countries.
  • The Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne were extremely successful and influential authors, but they only wrote a total of seven books between the three of them. Also, they all died young; Charlotte at age 38, Emily at age 30, and Anne at age 29.
  • John Kennedy Toole committed suicide at 31 without publishing anything. Years after his death, A Confederacy of Dunces got published, received a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and became a canonical work of Southern Literature. You'll still find plenty of references to it around New Orleans.
  • Arthur Rimbaud is considered one of the most influential poets of the 19th century, despite giving up writing at 19 years of age.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird was Harper Lee's only published novel for most of her life, yet it remains a popular and influential one.
  • The tendency of influential and brilliant mathematicians to die young is discussed in G. H. Hardy's essay, A Mathematician's Apology. He points out that "Galois died at twenty-one, Abel at twenty-seven, Ramanujan at thirty-three, Riemann at forty."note  Hardy himself lived to be seventy, but he, like many others, believed that mathematics is often a "young man's game" and had been afraid that his mathematical ability was declining when he wrote the essay in his sixties.
  • Chaucer died having finished only a quarter of his greatest work, The Canterbury Tales. His work popularized English as the language of writing after centuries of obscurity as a commoner's language.
  • After writing three novels under other pseudonymsnote , Cordwainer Smith (Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger) wrote his first major science fiction story in 1945 although it was not published until 1950. The majority of his science fiction stories were written between 1955 and his untimely death in 1966. They comprise 33 short stories and one novel and have been collected in two volumesnote . Despite this relative lack of quantity, his work was so innovative and influential that it remains in print to this day while many of his contemporaries languish in obscurity.
  • Nescio, the pen-name of Jan H.F. Grönloh, is generally considered one of the greats of Dutch literature, on the basis of three short stories published within his lifetime plus a smattering of posthumously-discovered fragments.
  • Stephen Crane died at the age of twenty-eight, yet he was one of the earliest Americans to write realistic literature.
  • Mikhail Lermontov is considered to be one of the greatest Russian poets. His literary career lasted only six years; it was cut short by his death in a duel at age 26.
  • Robert E. Howard, forefather of Sword & Sorcery fantasy, committed suicide at the age of 30.
  • Georg Büchner died of typhus in 1837, at the age of 23. By this time, he had already written a major historical drama, a beloved comedic satire, and most of Woyzeck, a working-class tragedy more than a century ahead of its time. The critical consensus is that had he lived longer, he'd belong in the same league as Goethe and Shakespeare.
    • His early death is a discussed trope in the works of Marc-Uwe Kling, who likes to cultivate a persona of Brilliant, but Lazy and ultimately he ascribes Büchner's productivity to the fact that there were fewer distractions (social media, TV, etc.) back then - immediately afterwards he and his friend the Cangaroo decide to watch another Bud Spencer movie.
  • Russian poets. Full stop. If a poet dies older than 35, he/she isn't trustworthy. Exceptions are possible for those who had poetry only as a hobby or was a scientist.

    Live Action TV 
  • Considered one of the most popular and influential television series ever, The Honeymooners lasted for only one year.note 
  • The Davy Crockett cultural phenomenon of the 1950s was so huge and pervasive that it's easy to forget that the Disney series that kicked it off was altogether only five episodes within a larger show.
  • The Adam West-starred Batman (1966) series defined the Caped Crusader in the public eye for decades (and seemingly permanently in Japan), but the TV show itself only ran for two-and-a-half seasons.
  • Also premiering in 1966, The Monkees TV series only lasted for two seasons, while the band itself lasted just five years (the original lineup didn't last far past the end of the series), but managed to produce many bestselling albums and singles, introduced the hippie counterculture to prime time, influenced many made-for-TV pop groups (animated and live-action), and introduced mainstream audiences to Tim Buckley and Frank Zappa. The show also helped pioneer the music video and popularized the Moog synthesizer through Micky Dolenz' use of it in the promotional clip for "Daily Nightly".
  • Also premiering in 1966, Star Trek: The Original Series originally lasted for just two seasons, being renewed for a third season before dying completely. It's also a cultural icon, having an immense influence on science fiction, as well as western culture as a whole. Good luck finding someone who doesn't recognize Captain Kirk and Mister Spock, even if they were born long after the series was first aired.
  • The Prisoner (1967) only lasted seventeen episodes, yet it remains a landmark of science fiction television, influencing Twin Peaks, The X-Files and Lost.
  • Japanese Spider-Man ran for only one season (41 episodes and a movie), but ended up being the show that established Humongous Mecha as a standard trope of subsequent sentai series. Which essentially means that Super Sentai and Power Rangers wouldn't exist — or at least wouldn't be the shows we know today — if Japanese Spider-Man didn't exist.
  • Twin Peaks had only two seasons and 30 episodes, almost half of which are considered dubious by fans. It popularized the Quirky Town genre in American television, having descendants such as Picket Fences and Northern Exposure that ran much longer than Twin Peaks itself. Also, the amount of surrealism, eccentric humor, and horror in it were highly exceptional for a mainstream American drama series of its era, but such elements became much more common in television in its wake in the 1990s and 2000s. It also popularized the use of the Myth Arc in television drama, and David Lynch's active involvement in the show helped break the stereotype that television production was the equivalent of the farm leagues to movies as opposed to a full-on competitor.
  • The Greatest American Hero: The show only ran for about 2.5 seasons, but is still more or less the go-to show for Superhero parodies. The show lives on today in a comic book, as well as many shoutouts in everything from Seinfeld to The Big Bang Theory to Robot Chicken to Homestar Runner to The Cinema Snob. Of course, having an awesome theme song will do that for you.
  • Your Show Time lasted six months in TV's early days (Jan-Jul 1949), yet its premiere telecast won the very first Emmy Award.
  • Press Your Luck only lasted three years, not a terribly impressive run for a Game Show, but it's still one of the most recognized in the genre, and often regarded as a Cult Classic even to only casual fans. Many remember the show for the colorful animated Whammys and for notorious contestant Michael Larsen, who memorized the board's light pattern to hit them up for over $100,000, and whose life after that was a tragedy worthy of William Shakespeare. The phrase "Big bucks, no Whammys!" has entered the public lexicon, and the show is a constant fixture on the rerun circuit (1987-1995 on USA Network, and 2001-09/2012-present on GSN). GSN also launched a revival, Whammy, in the early 2000s and ran a documentary on Larsen's episode, and ABC launched another revival in 2019.
  • Similarly, the network version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, hosted by Regis Philbin for ABC, lasted only three years. Yet it was huge in its day, prompting legions of big money game shows and a brief yet obvious revival of a slowly dying genre. While a syndicated version lasted for many years afterward, it was the original ABC version that had the biggest impact on the genre despite a short life.
  • That Was the Week That Was was broadcast for just over one year in the UK, with a US version that lasted two whole years. Credited with being one of the most important topical satirical comedy sketch shows, and for being one of the first programmes on The BBC to criticize the political establishment.
  • The Morton Downey Jr. Show only lasted two years (1987-1989) but it started the whole "trash television" craze.
  • Ultraman only ran for 39 episodes from 1966 to 1967, but was so popular that it spawned an entire franchise that continues to produce new content, influenced hundreds of Japanese creators, and gets referenced everywhere in Japanese popular culture to this day.
  • British Brevity means that, by American standards, many classic British TV shows are fairly short-lived. American viewers unfamiliar with this may be surprised when they get into some of these shows and find that they only had enough episodes to fill half a US TV season. Just a few examples:
    • Fawlty Towers: Two batches of 6 episodes apiece, produced several years apart, for 12 episodes total
    • The Office: 12 episodes plus a Christmas special
    • Spaced: Two batches of 7 episodes apiece, for a total of 14.
    • Mr. Bean only ran five years (1990-1995) and fifteen episodesnote . However, well over two decades after it ended, it and the series' eponymous character still remain a memorable fixture in pop culture, with two films, an animated version and numerous subsequent guest appearances throughout the years (including the 2012 London Summer Olympics) under its belt. Furthermore, it is seen as one of the breakout series of the UK that allowed international audiences to embrace the country's style of television, along the likes of Doctor Who, The Benny Hill Show, The Office (UK), Blackadder (another series that featured Rowan Atkinson) and Absolutely Fabulous.
  • Lizzie McGuire only lasted for 65 episodes (the cutoff for Disney shows at that time) in two seasons, and one movie, but it helped to codify much of the formula for Disney Channel kidcoms for the next fifteen or so yearsnote , opened up the teenage demographic to the channel, and helped to make Hilary Duff one of the biggest teen stars of her time.
  • Chappelle's Show only lasted two seasons, but it's right up there with South Park as one of Comedy Central's most popular shows, to the point that it's still aired regularly in syndication and on its home channel, and its sketches have reached memetic status. The show was highly influential even after its run (spawning more than a few imitators) and some people regard it as one of the greatest sketch comedies ever made.
  • Thunderbirds: Was cut short after just 32 episodes, mainly because it failed to get picked up by an American network, but back when it aired it was the most popular children's show on British television, and to this day it managed to retain a loyal fanbase. Likewise, it's still considered Gerry Anderson's best work, and other shows still contain references to it.
  • Arrested Development only lasted three seasons (at least, before being Uncancelled) but those first seasons had a huge impact on sitcoms, causing them to become more continuity heavy and meta.
  • The Munsters lasted two seasons and 70 episodes. Thanks to viewer demand prompted by a rapidly expanding syndication market in the mid-1960s, it managed to become an American pop culture icon.
  • The Young Ones only lasted two series and twelve episodes, and influenced a whole slew of Britcoms after it, as well as MTV era sketch comedies, such as The State, and Mr. Show.

  • Many contributors to MAD have been this:
    • Basil Wolverton only appeared in nine issues from 1954 to 1970. In spite of that, he's regarded as one of the top artists to appear in the publication, being dubbed "The Michelangelo of MAD Magazine" by The New York Times. MAD XL, a separate magazine reprinting older articles from the main publication, even named him an "Idiot of the Issue" in 2004.
    • Founding artist Will Elder and artist/writer Harvey Kurtzman left in 1958 (except for a brief return in 1984-88), but their prolificacy in the early days (when it was more of a comic book than a magazine) was what helped get the mag off the ground.
    • John Severin quit halfway through the comic-book days, but still had a lot of notable roles in the few issues he illustrated. He later became the flagship artist for rival Cracked.
    • Frank Kelly Freas did most of the cover art in the early days of the magazine era but stopped contributing in 1962. Despite this, he was one of the main illustrators next to Norman Mingo to help codify Alfred E. Neuman's design.

  • Comedian Harmonists: A German a cappella sextet who were a major internationally successful group between 1927 and 1933, only to have their career cut short by the rise of Nazism in Germany, which was bad news for two of their Jewish members. They all managed to survive the war, but never had a reunion and sank away in obscurity until the 1970s when they were part of a revival. Despite everything, they were a major influence on numerous A Cappella bands.
  • The Skatalites: they were active for only 14 months (!), but churned out more than 300 singles that were influential in the development of Ska and were pretty much the most famous ska act of all time. The reason why their career was cut short? One of their trombonists, Don Drummond, committed a murder and was sent to an insane asylum. As a result, they lost one of their best musicians and their main songwriter, which made them lose a lot of their fan base. Apart from that Ska went out of fashion around that time and was quickly surpassed by Rocksteady and later Reggae.
  • The infamous 27 Club, a group of singers who all died at 27, greatly limiting their output, but they all left profound impacts on music:
    • Robert Johnson – Made Blues what it was; was also a profound influence on many of the earliest rock singers. His entire recording career was compiled on one double album, The Complete Recordings.
    • Brian Jones – Founded The Rolling Stones, who were the main influences of bands like AC/DC, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, etc, who pioneered the Heavy Metal genre. (Musically he was extremely talented, being able to pick up and play virtually any instrument; but he was eventually overshadowed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, as unlike him they were prolific songwriters, and he was fired by the Stones because he couldn't travel to tour.) Interestingly, Jones has only one solo album on his name, released three years after his 1969 death, one which doesn't even feature him, but was merely produced by him.
    • Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson - The guitarist for the '60s psychedelic blues band Canned Heat may not be the most famous name in the 27 Club, but had a significant impact on future blues-rock acts, especially groups like The White Stripes and The Black Keys.
    • Jimi Hendrix – one of the most influential guitarists of all time; the "burn the strings" guitar solo was invented by him, and just about every hard rocker since has imitated it. Recorded just three major studio albums during his lifetime: Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland.
    • Janis Joplin – a key player in women coming onto the rock scene; everyone from Hayley Williams to Gwen Stefani to P!nk owes something to her. Not bad for someone with only four studio albums to her name.
    • Jim Morrison – in addition to being the lead singer of The Doors, he is widely regarded as having perfected the modern "rock star" image.
    • Chris Bell – guitarist for highly influential Power Pop group Big Star. He released only one solo single during his lifetime, and then he died in a car accident a few weeks short of his 28th birthday.
    • D. Boon - Lead singer and guitarist of the legendary punk band Minutemen. He died in a traffic accident in Tucson, Arizona in 1985, but in his wake, left an enormous impact on Alternative Rock. Red Hot Chili Peppers owe a lot to the band's bass work and Modest Mouse owes a lot of their vocal work to Boon.
    • Kurt Cobain – the lead singer/guitarist of Nirvana, a band that only released three studio albums (and only hit it big with the second one), he helped redefine the image of rock music in the early-mid '90s, and set the stage for the rock scene in the next decade.
    • Richey James Edwards - the guitarist and lyricist for the British rock group Manic Street Preachers mysteriously vanished in 1995, shortly after the release of the band's album The Holy Bible, which vividly detailed his struggles with depression, self-harm, and anorexia. The band continued on after his disappearance and became commercially successful, but it's widely considered the band's most acclaimed and seminal work came when Edwards was in the group. The three albums that he recorded with the band are considered to be integral to the creation of the Britpop movement and remain highly influential in the British indie rock scene.
    • Amy Winehouse – only released two albums during her lifetime (Frank and Back to Black) before spiraling into drug addiction (A posthumous compilation of unreleased material entitled Lioness: Hidden Treasures was released after her death.) She was a key influence in revitalizing both soul music and a stagnant British pop music scene, she directly inspired and paved the way for major artists (both British and American) like Adele, Lady Gaga, Florence Welch, Paloma Faith, Jessie J, Duffy, Ellie Goulding, Rebecca Ferguson, Emeli Sande, Gabriella Cilmi, and Lana Del Rey.
    • Jonghyun - the lead singer of the K-pop group Shinee, died in 2017 after releasing six albums with the group over the span of just eight years. Jonghyun co-wrote many of the band's songs and helped them craft a unique identity that both set them apart and made them one of the leading groups in the genre. The band was a huge influence on later K-pop groups like BTS and were one of the first acts in the genre to cultivate a Western fanbase. While the band continued after his death, time will only tell if they will maintain their level of popularity they had while Jonghyun was their frontman.
  • The Sex Pistols had a grand total of one studio album, yet they are considered the pioneers of Punk Rock. Even more astonishing is Sid Vicious, who only joined the band in 1977 and died from a drug overdose two years later when he was only 21 years old, after which he became pretty much one of the most iconic punk musicians of all time.
  • The Germs, who had one album, are considered the godfathers (and godmother) of LA's punk rock scene.
  • Eazy-E had his life cut short by AIDS in 1995, but his career was one of the most influential in the Gangsta Rap genre.
  • Klaus Nomi also died an early death because of AIDS in 1983 and, as a result, only recorded two albums (Klaus Nomi and Simple Man) in his life. But his influence on numerous pop acts is still felt.
  • English indie rockers The Stone Roses managed only two albums (The Stone Roses and Second Coming, plus a rarities compilation), and yet were a big influence on many Britpop bands of The '90s.
  • Sublime only released three albums from 1992 to 1996. Frontman Bradley Nowell, unfortunately, died from a heroin overdose before the release of their self-titled breakthrough album, and the band broke up immediately after. Nevertheless, their music represents the pinnacle of the mid-1990s ska revival.
  • Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G. and Big L died violently in their 20s (2Pac was 25 and both Biggie and L were 24), Shakur having made only five albums in five years and the others only two; furthermore, all three of their final albums were released posthumously. They, however, left a profound influence on rap in their wake, which can be seen in the fact that all three of them have had more albums released after their deaths (largely pieced together from unreleased recordings mixed with guest verses) than when they were still alive.
  • Joy Division only released two albums from 1976 to 1980, owing to the Author Existence Failure of lead singer Ian Curtis (who was Driven to Suicide at 23), but they are the first thing everyone thinks of when they hear the term Post-Punk, in addition to helping lay the groundwork for what would become Goth Rock. If The Doors did not influence them, usually Joy Division did. Subverted, however, when the remaining members regrouped as the synthpop-driven New Order.
  • Cream was only together for a couple of years, but in that time they influenced Hendrix, the development of heavy metal (Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple) and jam bands like The Allman Brothers Band and The Grateful Dead.
  • Buddy fucking Holly. He died in 1959 at age 22 but without him, The Beatles wouldn't even be named the same. (It was a Shout-Out to Buddy Holly and the Crickets.) He was also a massive influence on Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and some of the sixties pop and rock scene.
  • Ritchie Valens was an early progenitor of Latino rock that paved the way for the likes of Carlos Santana and Trini Lopez. He died three months before his 18th birthday.
  • Slint recorded just two albums, with only one (Spiderland) being of major importance. However, that record defined most of the sound followed by later indie rock and post-rock artists.
  • The Police; six years and five albums, and they had a huge influence on New Wave and Ska.
  • Syd Barrett was the guitarist for Pink Floyd for less than two albums, along with his solo efforts Barrett and The Madcap Laughs, yet had a big influence on Psychedelic Rock and even Proto-Punk.
  • Tin Machine, David Bowie's Hard Rock band designed to break him out of his 1984-1988 Dork Age, was only active for roughly four years (1988-1992) and put out just two studio albums and a live record within that time before dissolving, with Bowie returning to his solo career afterwards. However, in hindsight, the band has been noted for being a major influence on 1990's Alternative Rock and especially grunge; an account from Tin Machine producer Tim Palmer attests that when he was working with Pearl Jam as the mixer for Ten, he walked into the studio one day to find the group listening to "Heaven's in Here". This retrospective realization has been credited as a major catalyst in the band becoming Vindicated by History, having gone from receiving lukewarm responses from fans and critics to being considered one of the most important bands of the late '80s. Semi-subverted in the case of Bowie himself, who held a career spanning more than half a century and was regarded as one of the biggest influences on the course of popular music throughout the second half of the 20th Century.
  • Dave Williams, who was the vocalist of Drowning Pool since 1999, died in 2002 from cardiomyopathy. The band rose to fame one year before Williams' death.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died at 35, as noted in the page quote. Though he was active in the music scene longer than the other artists listed here, it is important to note that in the realm of classical music things are a little different. Most composers spend lifetimes building reputations and fame. Mozart is cited as one of the most influential composers next to Beethoven and Bach.
  • Franz Schubert beat Mozart by 4 years; he died at age 31.
  • Several other famous classical composers fit the bill:
    • Fryderyk Chopin - died at 39, works include "Funeral March" (from Sonata No. 2) and Fantaisie-Impromptu, etc.
    • Felix Mendelssohn - died at 38, penned "Wedding March"
    • Georges Bizet - wrote the mega-successful opera "Carmen", died at 36
    • George Gershwin - died at 38, wrote "Rhapsody in Blue" and many famous songs that are part of many jazz musicians' repertoires such as "Summertime"
    • Henry Purcell - only lived to be 36, yet he had a massive impact on Baroque music in Britain
  • Dead and Euronymous of Mayhem, considered the founders of Norwegian black metal, both died violent deaths (suicide and murder) at young ages (22 and 25).
    • Euronymous founded the Silencelike Death Productions label and laid the foundation for all Black Metal that came after him.
  • Likewise, the proto-Celtic Frost band Hellhammer: the band only lasted for 3 years, but is considered one of the First Wave of Black Metal's most influential bands and is one of the most imitated bands in the metal genre.
  • Tom Lehrer wasn't short-lived (he was still alive at the age of 91 at the end of The New '10s) but his recording career in the '50s and '60s produced only three full albums — Songs by Tom Lehrer,note  An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrernote  and That Was the Year That Was, plus a few songs for The Electric Company (1971) — before he grew tired of the industry and retired to a life in academia.
  • Aaliyah only released three albums over seven years before her untimely death in a 2001 plane crash at the age of 22. However, she is considered one of the redefining artists of R&B in The '90s and is probably one of the Trope Codifiers for current R&B singers.
  • Brazilian comedy rock band Mamonas Assassinas is definitely an example. A time interval of only 6 months between their sudden rise to fame, to the tragic airplane crash that killed all members in 1996. They only had one released album but still remains one of the most popular and influential bands in Brazil to this day.
  • Velvet Underground. 4 albums in 4 years (not counting the New Sound Album Squeeze) and they are credited for being the very first Alternative Rock band.
  • Jeff Buckley only had one finished studio album (Grace) and an incomplete studio album (My Sweetheart The Drunk) to his name at the time of his tragic drowning in 1997 (the incomplete album was released eventually, under the name Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk). He is given credit for raising the bar for singer/songwriters in the '90s and into the 2000s.
  • Tim Buckley died of a heroin overdose in 1975 at age 29. He left behind a much larger and just-as-acclaimed discography. Though odds are if it weren't for his son, he probably wouldn't be so well known today, many critics remember him fondly.
  • The Exploding Hearts released one studio album exactly a month before a van accident claimed the lives of 3 out of the 4 members of the band, effectively ending the project. Guitar Romantic is considered to be one of the best punk albums of the 2000s, adding awesome guitar melodies rarely heard or seen before in the genre.
  • Codeine released two albums and one EP before disappearing off of the face of the earth. Their first album, Frigid Stars is considered the Trope Maker for Slowcore and featured guitar textures which very well may have inspired Slint's Spiderland. To this day they are considered to be gods of super depressing music.
    • Galaxie 500 was a contemporary of Codeine and released three albums from 1988 to 1990 that are landmarks of indie rock and influenced the slowcore, shoegaze, and dream pop movements.
  • Neutral Milk Hotel only released two albums before disbanding in 1999. Their 1998 album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is given credit for helping define Indie Rock of the next decade.
  • The Smiths were only together for a little over 5 years, yet every modern indie rock band and their mother cite them as a major influence.
  • Bon Scott was AC/DC's frontman for just 6 years before he drank himself to death in 1980, yet he remains one of hard rock's most popular vocalists.
  • Country Music has several famous artists whose lives were cut short, but are still considered iconic:
    • Hank Williams died in 1953 at 29 thanks to alcohol and drugs. His Greatest Hits Album Turn Back The Years still managed to be included in Time Magazine's 2006 list of 100 essential music albums, and he's still being introduced to younger audiences through his son Hank Williams Jr. and grandson Hank Williams III.
    • Patsy Cline, who died in 1963 at 30 in a plane crash, continued to have her singles chart afterwards.
    • Keith Whitley died in 1989 at 34 of alcohol poisoning and is one of the most successful neotraditional country singers of The '80s.
    • Country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons was only a member of The Byrds for six months - joining in February 1968 and quitting in July. That August, his only album with the band, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, was released. After a slow start it was ultimately heralded as one of the band's greatest records and the album that codified the country-rock genre. Parson released just four more albums (two solo records and two with his post-Byrds group The Flying Burrito Brothers) before he died in 1973note , just barely missing joining the 27 Club (he lived to be 26 years, 316 days). He's the patron saint of Alternative Country and even in mainstream country, his influence has been enormous, as it is also in some rock circles.
  • Jellyfish, while not the most commercially successful band, nor ever a hipster favorite, produced in the lifespan of four years two albums that became influential in the field of Alternative Power Pop, and are constantly praised by fans of melodic, classic pop songwriting. The albums were recently remastered and re-released on an indie label on vinyl.
  • While My Bloody Valentine has been ongoing as a band since 1984, the same cannot be said about most of their contemporaries. After the Shoegazing fad ended in the mid-'90s, many of the bands were pressured into drastically changing their sound. Most of the bands that were part of this movement ended up breaking up out of lack of funds. Lush nearly pulled off a successful Genre Shift into Britpop territory until their drummer killed himself. Catherine Wheel changed their sound into Hard Rock and broke up in 2000. Ride couldn't adapt to Britpop and ended their career after the disaster that was Tarantula. Slowdive were Screwed by the Network. So many of these bands ended abruptly, but Shoegazing's influence on modern Indie Rock is undeniable as can be seen in how mostly all of it is slathered in reverb and echo.
  • Jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown died in a car accident in 1956 at the age 25. His career lasted barely three years but he still managed to influence a tremendous number of later trumpet players, wrote two major jazz standards, and Benny Golson's "I Remember Clifford", written in honor of Brown, has itself become a standard. His collaboration with Sarah Vaughan, Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown is considered to be one of the finest jazz albums of all time.
  • Although he played from the late 1930s to 1955, saxophonist Charlie Parker's life and career were nonetheless cut short at the relatively young age of 34 due to his ongoing problems with drugs and alcohol. During that span, he was a constant innovator and experimenter whose effects on saxophonists in particular, jazz especially, and even music in general, are still being felt to this day. Many of his contemporaries continued to speculate on what new ideas he might have come up with even years after his death.
  • The Dixie Chicks had actually been around since 1992, but their major-label hitmaking years ranged only from 1998 to 2003, at which point country radio had a total backlash against them over a comment made by lead singer Natalie Maines over then-president George W. Bush in concert. Still, those five years (in addition to comprising high critical acclaim, album shipments over 28 million, and six #1 country hits) raised the bar for crossover country from the Turn of the Millennium onwards.
  • The Birthday Party: Only four years of releases; still inspiring Post-Punk, Goth Rock and Deathrock bands to this day.
  • The 2 Tone label was very influential on British new wave music and the second wave of ska in particular, but its time in the sun lasted barely two years, from mid-1979 to mid-1981, and the label's aversion to long-term deals meant that its two biggest names (apart from founders The Specials), Madness and The Beat, each jumped ship after one single apiece. There was a long slow decline ahead of it, but the label's days as a major cultural force ended when The Specials fell apart in the summer of 1981.
  • Selena lived for just 23 years and recorded less than half of an English-language crossover album before she was brutally murdered in 1995 (the crossover album, Dreaming Of You, did get released eventually, albeit padded with some of her Spanish hits and previously unreleased tidbits), but still became a household name in the US in part because of her folk hero status in the Mexican-American community, and due to the success of the 1997 biopic. Selena's also credited with bringing Tex-Mex music, the genre that launched her career, to mainstream attention, and opening the door for the "Latino Invasion" in entertainment during the late '90s. Her cultural impact, especially the way in which her death galvanized Mexican-Americans as consumers and later on, as voters and shapers of mainstream American culture, is the stuff of numerous sociology papers, and even a college textbook has been written about her cultural legacy. And that's just in the English-speaking world.
  • Nick Drake died at 26 after only releasing 3 albums. He's still well-known for his songwriting, lyrics, and unique style of guitar playing that typically revolves around fingerstyle techniques in unusual tunings.
  • The Shaggs recorded just two albums, the first of which, Philosophy Of The World, has become a classic in Outsider Music circles. The other album, Shaggs' Own Thing proved their growth as musicians, but this one is more or less written out of canon.
  • The Stooges only recorded three albums before disbanding - their self-titled debut, Fun House and Raw Power - but all three of them have become a major influence on the development of Rock and Punk Rock.
  • Eric Dolphy: Influential jazz musician who started a solo career in 1960, released five albums and then died in 1964 of an insulin shock after being in a diabetic coma.
  • Trio Uncle Tupelo released four studio albums over the course of four years (1990-93), none of which were commercially very successful, but they influenced and helped codify Alternative Country for the next twenty or so years. The band's vocalist/guitarist Jay Farrar would go on to form and lead Son Volt, while its bassist, Jeff Tweedy, would found and lead Wilco. The name of their debut album, No Depression, was a byname for the movement they help to popularize, and a magazine that covered the style.
  • In terms of impact, it doesn't get much bigger than The Beatles, but it took them a mere five years to get from The Ed Sullivan Show to Abbey Road. The band had broken up before any of the members were 30.
  • Aside from the recording of, and very few and unsuccessful promotional appearances for, their debut album Wednesday Morning, 3 A. M. in 1964, and numerous short-lived reunions since the breakup, the career of Simon & Garfunkel spanned between 1966 to 1970, releasing five studio albums and the soundtrack to the film The Graduate, becoming one of the most popular and influential duos of The '60s and helping to popularize Folk Rock music throughout the world.
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd had a total of five albums before the plane crash, and never actually had a number 1 hit, but are the defining example of the '70s southern rock movement.
  • Though English folk-rock band Fairport Convention is one of music's great Long-Runners, their most celebrated lineup - with Richard Thompson on guitar and Sandy Denny on vocals - lasted only around a year and a half. The three seminal albums created by that incarnation of the band — What We Did On Our Holidays, Unhalfbricking, and Liege and Lief — were all released in 1969.
  • Spice Girls were pretty much only around from 1996-1998 with two albums and only ten singles. Geri Halliwell had already announced her departure before the ninth single was even released. Yet they were huge, kickstarting a 'Girl Power' movement throughout the world and popularizing the Girl Group in the '90s. A third album with two additional singles was released in 2000 with four of the five girls after a year's worth of solo projects - but it didn't have the same impact.
  • S Club 7 lasted shorter than one would think. They're remembered as a hallmark of many 90s and early 2000s kids' childhoods. They only released four albums in total. But for four years they were everywhere - and their sitcom heavily influenced the formula later used by Glee and High School Musical.
  • The "grunge era" as a whole.
    • Grunge's dominance of mainstream rock music only really encompassed the first half of The '90s, with the genre burning out not long after the suicide of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain (himself listed above as a member of the "27 Club") as the other leading bands in the scene either broke up or faced various problems. The Neil Young line "it's better to burn out than fade away", which Cobain infamously quoted in his suicide note, turned out to be prophetic of grunge's fortunes in the years to come. Three of the "Big Four" of grunge — Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden, the latter two of which are described below — were all either dead or effectively dead by 1997; only Pearl Jam continued on without interruption, and even they fell into a Dork Age in the late '90s. And that's just within the US; by 1994, Britpop was already pushing grunge off the UK charts. Regardless, popular memory recalls grunge as the sound that utterly defined the '90s, at least in the United States. Starting with Post-Grunge, the genre that took grunge's place in the limelight, virtually every major genre of rock music for the next twenty years bore at least some influence from the "Seattle sound", even if only in response to it.
    • Alice in Chains only recorded three albums and two EPs between 1990 and 1995 before frontman Layne Staley's drug addiction got the better of him; the band went on hiatus in 1996 as he vanished from the spotlight, only recording two more songs (both for the soundtrack to The Faculty as part of the supergroup Class of '99) before dying of an overdose in 2002.note  The band essentially created most of the tropes of Alternative Metal, with lyrics about drug addiction and depression that had been mostly verboten in the Hair Metal of the previous decade. Staley, meanwhile, is often spoken of in the same breath as Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder as one of the greatest vocalists of the grunge era and many Post-Grunge bands have cited him as an influence and/or written tribute songs to him. Together with Vedder, he popularized the gravely vocal style known as yarling, such that this article compared him to Mick Jagger and Robert Plant as one of the most imitated rock singers of all time.
    • Soundgarden recorded five albums between 1988 and 1996, only really taking off with their third album Badmotorfinger in 1991, before breaking up. Without them, grunge likely would not have made it out of the underground; it was lead guitarist Kim Thayil who suggested to his friend, Seattle DJ and promoter Jonathan Poneman, that he should team up with Bruce Pavitt of the independent label Sub Pop Records. Sub Pop, under Poneman and Pavitt's leadership, would quickly grow into the force that would nurture the Seattle rock scene and help propel it to national attention, with Soundgarden riding the wave and becoming one of the defining grunge bands.
  • Britpop holds a similar status in the UK as a genre that defined a decade despite its peak years only really covering half of it. It took off in 1993 with Suede's Self-Titled Album, peaked in 1995 with the "Battle of Britpop" between Oasis and Blur, and was starting to fade out by 1997. Its impact can still be felt on virtually every British rock band since, and even on quite a few American indie bands influenced by the British scene.
  • Rage Against the Machine only recorded four albums, the last of which was a Cover Album. Not only did they bring Rap Metal into the mainstream consciousness, but their ferociously political lyrics are often credited with influencing the politics of many people who grew up in the '90s and '00s.
  • The Buggles only put out two albums as a group, but the music video for their song "Video Killed the Radio Star" was the first thing ever played on MTV, essentially kickstarting MTV's influence on music and shaping the sound of the 1980s. Singer Trevor Horn is a legendary record producer in his own right, having more or less shaped 80s and 90s pop music while keyboardist Geoffrey Downes is a member of legendary progressive rock bands Yes and Asia.
  • Sinawe was a pioneering Korean Heavy Metal band that put out four albums between 1986 and 1990 before breaking up.note  Not only did they play a pivotal role in the development of the nascent Korean rock scene in the wake of South Korea's transition to democracy and liberalization, but one of their members, Seo Taiji, went on to be hugely influential in the birth of K-pop with his group Seo Taiji and Boys.
  • Seo Taiji and Boys itself is an example, as they wrote the book that every Korean idol group would follow in the years to come — while only recording four albums from 1992 to '95 before Taiji went solo. Notably, one of the members of Seo Taiji and Boys, Yang Hyun-suk, went on to found YG Entertainment, one of the "Big Three" K-pop record labels.
  • Eddie Lang and Charlie Christian were both influential in the development of jazz guitar. Lang was the first musician to use the guitar as a solo instrument in jazz, while Christian expanded upon that innovation by using an electric guitar; Christian was also an early influence on bebop. Both men died young; Lang died at 30 after complications from a routine tonsillectomy, while Christian succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 25.
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival recorded six albums from 1968 to 1970, then experienced an acrimonious breakup in 1972 while recording their seventh and final album, Mardi Gras. In that short time, they became a key influence in the popularization of Southern Rock and heartland rock (their roots in the Bay Area notwithstanding), and their music, still in regular rotation on Classic Rock stations, practically defined the sound of the '60s/'70s counterculture as it is remembered by popular culture.
  • Early Country music star Jimmie Rodgers' career only lasted about 6 years before he died in 1933. Yet, he has been cited as an influence of numerous musicians from various genres.
  • In the Christian Rock field, perhaps the biggest example is Keith Green. Green's career in Christian musicnote  comprised just 4 albums plus a compilation album before the 28-year-old Green and two of his children were killed in a plane crash in 1982note ; yet is still often cited as an influence in Christian music circles.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Calvin and Hobbes. Short-lived by newspaper comic standards, running from 1985 to 1995 (with a year and a half of that time spent on sabbatical). Yet over two decades after Bill Watterson's retirement, it remains one of the most beloved and revered modern newspaper comics of all time.
  • The Far Side ran for exactly fifteen years, from 1980 to 1995 (including a sabbatical in 1989). During that time it had a tremendous impact on comics, paving the way for more surrealist humor (which had been completely absent from the papers since Krazy Kat). It also served as an inspiration to scores of scientists who loved creator Gary Larson's biology-based jokes; academics eventually named a species of louse and a butterfly after Larson, and "thagomizer" (taken from a joke about a stegosaurus) has become an accepted scientific term.
  • Although Krazy Kat ran in some form or another for nearly 30 years (note that that is still not a very long time in this medium), the part that is most-remembered – the full-colour full-page Sunday strips – ran for less than ten – a brief stint in 1922, and then from 1935 until George Herriman's death in 1944. It was unpopular during its original run (surviving only because William Randolph Hearst himself was its biggest fan), but has since become widely recognized as the most important newspaper strip ever made, serving as inspiration for nearly every cartoonist to follow, most notably Charles Schulz of Peanuts fame, and Bill Watterson (who counted both Herriman and Schulz among his influences).
  • Bloom County was not a particularly long-lived strip either (December 8, 1980-August 6, 1989), but its mix of topical political humor, surreal fantasy, and memorable characters left a huge impact, with other comics such as The Boondocks clearly taking influence from it. It was also loved enough to receive two spinoff strips (Outland from 1989-95 and Opus from 2003-08, both Sunday-only strips) before getting Un-Canceled in 2015.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The Attitude Era is recognized as beginning at the 1996 King Of The Ring (more specifically, Steve Austin's "Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your ass!" promo) and ending at Survivor Series in 2001. Only a rough five year period, and yet it revolutionized how wrestling was seen in the '90s. The product was Darker and Edgier and broke into the mainstream for the first time since the '80s. It was a time when everyone was a wrestling fan or at least knew about it in some way.
  • The 'Four Horsewomen of NXT' - Charlotte, Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch - are recognised as the four hard-working women whose matches and feuds with each other showed that WWE was finally taking women's wrestling seriously. The era is recognised as having begun when Charlotte first won the NXT Women's Championship and all four started feuding with each other. Just only a year later, three of the four were called up to the main roster (Bayley being the lone holdout). Becky even hadn't been on NXT for a full year when she was called up.
  • Sable's time on the top lasted a lot less than one would think. While she was around as a valet and on-screen character for a couple of years, her big push didn't come until 1998. Her first match was WrestleMania XIV and by the next year's event, she was already on her way out of the company. Yet she was popular enough to get WWE to resurrect its women's division, revive the Women's Championship and bring in more women wrestlers to feud with her.
    • There was a downside to Sable's popularity, as the company tailored their new women's division to her strengths (her massive sex appeal) and weakness (a lack of any actual wrestling ability or desire to learn). She is the reason why so many of the Divas (a term she invented) were Hired for Their Looks and the women treated as little more than a jiggle show. It's only in the last few years that WWE has been able to move away from that image, giving the women more ring time and putting them in more serious matches.
  • The Shield are one of the most popular trios of all time — but spent less than two years in existence.
  • Not counting his time in OVW, Muhammad Hassan's career in WWE lasted from December 14, 2004, to July 24, 2005. Over a decade later, he still has a small but dedicated fanbase and pretty much every YouTube video that features him has countless comments with variations of the phrase "I want him to come back."

    Web Original 
  • In the early years of video game FAQ-writing, one username stood out above the rest as a good model of how to properly detail gameplay, both in the long form needed for RPGs such as Final Fantasy VII and the short form used for such genres as fighting games: Kao Megura. Sadly, he passed away in 2004, but his influence is seen in FAQs to this day.
  • Pixeloo is an artist who posted only a few pictures on his blog, and whose current whereabouts are totally unknown, but he had a huge influence on the art of "untooning", that is, taking toon-type characters and rendering them in a far more realistic style.
  • The original version of the peer-to-peer file-sharing service Napster only lasted two years, having been launched in 1999 and sued into oblivion in 2001. In those two years, however, Napster revolutionized how people consumed media and, more importantly, expected to be able to do so. It exposed a widespread discontent with the inflated prices that people had to pay for records and singles, and even though the original service was killed off, its legacy lived on with copycat peer-to-peer services and file-sharing websites like Gnutella, Kazaa, LimeWire, The Pirate Bay, and Megaupload. Napster sent the music industry into a decade-long tailspin that it is still recovering from, even now that file-sharing has largely been displaced by iTunes and streaming services — themselves legacies of Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker's service, created to offer a legal alternative to file-sharing that allowed artists and record companies to profit from their work.
  • Monty Oum lived to be 33 years old and died on February 1, 2015. His influence through the world of web animation through Rooster Teeth's Red vs. Blue and RWBY, as well as his own creations like Haloid and Dead Fantasy has lasted to this day.

    Western Animation 

  • Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson only ran two minority governments over a total of five years, but the list of things he accomplished is truly remarkable. His government established the modern Canadian flag, established a national healthcare system and pension plan, accelerated Central Canada's industrial development with policies like the Auto Pact, created the Royal Commission that paved the way for Pierre Trudeau's introduction of official bilingualism, created another Royal Commission that helped create legal equality for women, decriminalized homosexuality (with Trudeau as his Justice Minister), built on John Diefenbaker's colour-blind immigration policy, and oversaw Canada's successful 1967 centennial celebrations. Pearson's influence can also be noted by the fact that he recruited no less than three future Prime Ministers into his Cabinet. Trudeau would succeed Pearson, John Turner would succeed Trudeau, and Jean Chrétien would bring the Liberals back to power after the Conservative reigns of Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell. (And through the grandfather clause, one could argue that he gave us four: Pierre's son Justin became Prime Minister in 2015.) On top of that, in his previous tenure as Foreign Minister, he called for neutral troops to maintain a buffer zone in Egypt during the Suez Crisis. Thus he became a principal architect of modern peacekeeping.
  • Gough Whitlam holds a similar status in Australia. In just three years as Prime Minister, he: abolished conscription and the death penalty, introduced universal health care, decriminalised homosexuality, established relations with the People's Republic of China, changed the national anthem from "God Save the Queen" to "Advance Australia Fair", replaced the honours system, got Australia out of The Vietnam War, outlawed racially discriminatory laws with the Racial Discrimination Act, and ended the last vestiges of the White Australia Policy. All of this was despite the fact the opposition controlled the Senate for most of his term. He left an impact even in the manner by which he left office: through getting fired by the Governor-General, the representative of the Queen, an appointed position that many Australians at that point saw as purely ceremonial but which turned out to have a great deal of power that merely went unused until then. In addition to the political controversy that erupted over "the Dismissal", it became a galvanizing moment in the then-nascent movement for Australian republicanism.
  • William Henry Harrison, the ninth President of the United States, has the distinction of having served the shortest term in US presidential history, as he passed away from pneumonia on his 32nd day in office. He was also the first President to ever die while in office. Though he's largely forgotten by history, since he never really got the chance to actually do anything as President, his death briefly sparked a constitutional crisis, as the Constitution was unclear about exactly what action should be taken in the event that a President died, resigned, or was otherwise unable to perform their duties. Thankfully, though, his death led to these issues being resolved.
  • In the case of pre-colonial India, one of the most important and influential rulers in Indian history was Sher Shah Suri who extended the Grand Trunk Road, re-organized the Royal Postal Service and invented the Rupee, the currency of all later rulers, the The Raj and independent India. Yet he ruled for a mere five years before his death in battle. His innovations would be consolidated, maintained and extended by Akbar the Great which in turn led to the Golden Age of the Mughal India.
  • When General Boulanger, whom many people tipped to become a Napoleon-type dictator of France during the early years of the Third Republic, gave himself airs in the National Assembly, he was heckled by a deputy with: "When Napoleon was your age, he was dead."
  • England's Interregnum – the period between the execution of Charles I and the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II – lasted only 11½ years, from 1649 to 1660. However, the events during that time had a profound impact on English culture – it showed the English people would no longer take kindly to absolute rule, and was the first of many times Parliament would prove its superiority over the King. The excesses of Oliver Cromwell and his supporters left the English with a very poor opinion of Puritanism (which led to more Puritans going to America, which irreversibly impacted the already rather Puritan culture there). And Cromwell's Commonwealth militia would eventually become the British Army (it's the only UK military branch without "Royal" in the title because it wasn't established under Royal authority; this practice has been copied in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand).
  • Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Ruled Germany for a mere twelve years, causing untold death (around 35 million), suffering, and destruction. The effects of their rule are felt across the world to this day. ...No one said the impact had to be a good one. To take some positive out of it, it was Hitler's regime and WWII that made (most) of the world give up fascism.
  • Speaking of Nazis, Germany's unconditional surrender to the allies was a decision made by Admiral Karl Dönitz, who became the leader of Germany following Hitler's suicide but only served a few weeks before being deposed and arrested.
  • James K. Polk is sometimes referred to as "America's greatest one-term President", and not without reason. In his one term, he expanded the United States to the Pacific Ocean through one war with Mexico and one act of diplomacy with Britain that prevented a second war. He decided not to run for a second term, having accomplished everything he wanted to do in his first. He also died relatively young, at the age of 53, only 103 days after the end of his presidency.
  • John F. Kennedy only served two years, 10 months, and 2 days as US President before he was assassinated. Shock and disappointment over his unfinished agenda helped push his successor, Lyndon Johnson, in a more progressive direction, and he is still revered as an icon by the American left. His family (most notably his brothers Robert and Edward) would proceed to play a huge role in American politics as well, in part by appealing to his memory. He was also the shortest-lived President, dying at age 46.
  • Robert F. Kennedy had a grand total of three-and-a-half years as Attorney General and an additional three-and-a-half years as US Senator from New York before his assassination in June 1968 during his run for president. During his seven years in the spotlight, Bobby became the first major government figure to be very vocal in his support for the Civil Rights Movement. He was also the first person to publicly stand up to longtime FBI potentate J. Edgar Hoover, of whom everyone else was terrified due to Hoover's extensive files on every non-rightwing American with any prominence whatsoever. RFK was also extremely outspoken in his support of anti-poverty programs — he began his presidential campaign in the Appalachian villages of West Virginia, an area infamous to this day for its grinding poverty. He remains to this day a potent symbol for the American left, as an example of What Could Have Been.
  • The Qin Dynasty lasted less than 15 years, but it formed the very foundations of Chinese society, and governance to which future dynasties would base and modify their rule on. They also started the project of building the Great Wall of China and formed the concept of a unified China.
  • Pierre Mendès-France was président du conseil (Prime Minister) for only 8 months, but he ended the first Vietnam War, and is still cited in France as an example of a good politician.
  • Willy Brandt was elected chancellor of Germany in 1969 with one of the slimmest majorities in German history (12 seats out of 518). He was reelected by a big margin in 1972 and resigned over an espionage scandal (a personal aide turned out to be a Stasi spy) in 1974. In those five years, he singlehandedly set the pace for German foreign policy of the next decades. His "Ostpolitik" (Eastern policy) and the "Wandel durch Annäherung" (change through rapprochement) approach set the tone for East-West relations and there are memorable images (Brandt kneeling in Warsaw, Brandt in East Germany and deafening cries of "Willy Willy") are still known to most Germans today. He was the first German chancellor to visit Israel and won a Nobel Peace Price in 1971 (which was announced in parliament during a session). In domestic policy, he helped lower the voting age from 21 to 18, which helped in the aforementioned 1972 elections which he won largely on the youth vote. To this day many influential leftists in Germany cite Willy Brandt as one of their major inspirations.
  • Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus was a young Roman officer and Patrician who survived the Battle of Cannae, where the Roman Republic lost six legions of men in one afternoon while their Carthaginian foes under Hannibal Barca took minimal losses. With one consul dead and the other disgraced, when the Romans entered a state of emergency and began conscripting new legions to replace their catastrophic losses, the young Scipio volunteered to take command because nobody else was willing to go to Iberia and fight a force four times their size. Despite bureaucracy and jealous political rivals seeking to sabotage him, Scipio ended up not only conquering Spain but decisively defeating Hannibal and Carthage at the climactic Battle of Zama, bringing Rome back from the brink and setting the stage for its future ascendency over the Mediterranean and beyond. He refused almost all honors and political authority offered to him after that, including that of Dictator and Consul-For-Life, became disillusioned by the petty politics and character assassination he faced in The Senate, and retired quietly before dying at around 53.
  • Yuri Andropov only served for fifteen months as leader of the Soviet Union and was in ill-health for much of that time, but scholars are starting to consider that he began the process that would lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Known for his career with the KGB, Andropov decided to prioritize cracking open corruption cases he was not allowed to touch when Brezhnev was in power. These efforts were very successful but the brutal methods used to obtain the truth diminished Soviet moral and news of the widespread corruption existing in the first place tarnished the Soviet Union's international reputation. Andropov also escalated the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan despite believing it was a mistake. But most importantly, he set the stage for Gorbachev to take power, both through favoring Gorbachev politically and Andropov's own untimely death.

  • Jesus, who only preached for three years, has had a significant spiritual impact on the world for more than 2,000 years. On the other hand, for people who view him as the Son of God, he can be seen to have influenced the world since before the dawn of time.
  • Évariste Galois, as a teenage mathematician, invented what would become the foundations for Galois theory and group theory before being killed in a duel at the age of twenty. He is almost certainly the shortest-lived mathematician to have a field of mathematics named after him.
  • The Pony Express transcontinental mail service only lasted for a little over a year and a half before telegraph lines made it obsolete, but it had such a profound impact on the public consciousness and became so tied to The Wild West (which mostly came later) that it inspired books, movies, and television shows long after the fact. It's interesting to note that the first U.S. postage stamp not to depict a dead Founding Father chose a representation of a Pony Express rider as a showcase of American technical accomplishment.
  • For that matter, The Wild West era itself. The average timespan has it lasting from 1848 (when the USA took possession of California from Mexico) to 1890 (when the US Census Bureau officially declared the frontier closed, and also the date of the last major Indian battle at Wounded Knee). That's a little over forty years. A stricter definition puts the start around 1868 (when the Civil War had ended and the Transcontinental Railroad allowed more people to move into the frontier). That's barely twenty years. To watch any American media, especially stuff made prior to 1970 (when The Western was still a viable genre), one would believe that the era lasted much much longer. Romanticism for this era — or rather the perception of it — is to this day one of the major bedrocks of American culture.
  • The Golden Age of Piracy. As the traditional age of swashbuckling rogues, buried treasures, and hook-handed-pirates sacking in the Caribbean, it is omnipresent in pop culture. In its very own period too, piracy greatly impacted the way European powers dealt with the New World, seeing as how the Pirate Republic of Nassau got to a point where it nearly brought the Imperial grip on the Caribbean to a screeching halt. Despite this, by most estimates, that golden age lasted only about six to ten years (1714-1720/24). As such, most of its iconic figures follow suit:
    • Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard, terrorized the West Indies for only two years before being killed during a fight with colonial authorities in what is now North Carolina. To this day he is still the poster boy for the age.
    • Bartholomew Roberts, sometimes described as the most successful pirate captain with over 400 successful captures, and his flamboyant, fancy, and heavily made-up look inspired the likes of Jack Sparrow. Operated for three years as a captain before being killed in battle.
    • Black Sam Bellamy, the classic Just Like Robin Hood romantic pirate which is the historical pillar of every Lovable Rogue pirate in fiction. He was a pirate for two years, and a captain of his own ship for about one.
    • Calico Jack, famous for designing the classic pirate flag. Operated for two years as a Pirate, and one as a Captain, before being captured and executed.
    • Anne Bonny and Mary Read, the mothers of the Pirate Girl trope and Heterosexual Life-Partners, also romantically linked with the aforementioned Calico Jack. Also active for two years before capture.
    • Even Henry Avery, the pirate sometimes credited with kickstarting the golden age and the Ur-Example of golden age piracy, and often dubbed "The King of the Pirates" for his success, was only active for three years.
    • The Pirate Republic of Nassau itself only existed for roughly 12 years.
  • In a example related to the golden age of piracy, there is Woodes Rogers, who ended the age when he took Nassau by force, restructured it into a functioning government, fought off a Spanish invasion, directly and indirectly led the capture and death of many of the iconic pirates of that time (such as Blackbeard and Calico Jack), and stopped a malaria outbreak while he was at it. He did all of this in three years as governor.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most well-known and important activists for Civil Rights, he gave one of the most famous speeches of all time, and his influence is credited with the creation of laws against segregation. His national fame occurred in a fairly short window; both his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and "I Have a Dream" speech happened in 1963 and he was killed less than five years later at the age of 39.
  • Likewise, Malcolm X, who rivaled King as the alternate face of the Civil Rights Movement, was also assassinated when he was 39.
  • Al Capone was only a Chicago crime boss for seven years, and the undisputed boss of organized crime in Chicago for only two. He is still the Real Life inspiration for depictions of The Mafia and other organized crime entities in the United States. To this day, more than 80 years after Capone went to prison and almost 70 years after his death, Chicago's government is still trying to overcome the image of a Vice City that Capone and his associates left behind.
  • Charles "Lucky" Luciano was only in de facto command of his own crime family for five years before being imprisoned and subsequently deported. During that time, he more or less created a national syndicate for organized crime and turned the Mafia from what was yet another ethnic crime gang in a city full of them into the organized pervasive group it is known as today.
  • Billy the Kid: Committed all his major crimes between his 17th birthday and his early death at the age of 21. Nevertheless became the most legendary outlaw of the Wild West.
  • Baseball pitcher Sandy Koufax blossomed into a star in 1961 and retired five years later at the age of 30. Those six seasons won him three Cy Young awards, three pitchers' Triple Crownsnote , and a plaque in the Hall of Fame; and cemented his claim as one of the greatest players ever.
  • Dr. Henry Gray, he became a Fellow of the Royal Academy at age 27, wrote the classic textbook Gray's Anatomy at 31, and died of smallpox at 34.
  • Ernie Davis, running back for the Syracuse football team from 1958 to 1961, helped win Syracuse's sole national championship in that sport and was the very first African-American college football player to win the Heisman Trophy. "The Elmira Express" was in the process of joining the Cleveland Browns and forming what was to be a dynamic running duo with fellow Syracuse veteran Jim Brown, before losing his battle to leukemia at the age of 23.
  • Jonathan Larson died at the age of 35 of an aortic aneurysm, the night of the final dress rehearsal for the Off-Broadway production of RENT, but the show became a cultural phenomenon that ran on Broadway for over ten years and inspired many other musicals.
  • The Bavarian Illuminati was founded in 1776 and lasted for roughly a decade, with the Bavarian government's crackdown against them in 1785 marking the beginning of their final slide into irrelevance and eventual dissolution. Since then, numerous fraternal organizations have claimed descent from the Illuminati, conspiracy theorists have alleged their hand in every world event since The French Revolution, and they have served, to an arguably greater degree than the longer-lived Freemasons, as the inspiration for just about every shadowy, ominous secret society in popular culture, many of which reference them by name. Not bad for an organization that failed to outlive its founders.
  • While was one of the many victims of the dot-com bubble in the late '90s and early 2000s, the sock puppet used in their advertisements has kept a considerably high profile since then, having sold Bar None insurance for over a decade.
  • Vine was launched in January 2013 and shut down in January 2017, making it quite short-lived in comparison to other longstanding social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In that time, it created some of the most popular memes (among them Dabbing Squidward, Windows XP, and Damn Daniel) and viral hits (like "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)" and "Panda") of The New '10s, and made household names out of the likes of Shawn Mendes, Zach King, Andrew B. "King Bach" Bachelor, Lele Pons, and Jake and Logan Paul. By the time Twitter announced it would shut down the service in 2016, Vine was one of the must-use social media platforms, and much of the talent bred on the service in its four short years migrated to YouTube and led what came to be called the "Viner invasion", radically altering the site's user base and content focus. Not even two years later, compilations of Vines would still rake in millions of views on YouTube. A Spiritual Successor by one of the original co-founders called Byte even officially released on January 24, 2020, 7 years to Vine's release day. Vine's influence can also be felt in the equally-popular TikTok, as evidenced by the multitude of "TikToks that radiate the same energy as Vines" compilations floating around.
  • Likewise, MySpace's glory days only lasted five years, from its founding in 2003 to its decline circa 2008 as Facebook overtook it. It played a profound role in shaping many of the pop music trends of the Turn of the Millennium, most notably the Emo Music scene.
  • Penn Central existed all of two years before filing for bankruptcy (at the time the biggest corporate bankruptcy in US history) and was folded into Conrail (a state-owned freight railroad) six years after that. It arguably single-handedly led to the creation of Amtrak and the biggest bailout in the US up to that point as well as the closest the US ever came to nationalizing a major industry in peacetime.
  • Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space at the age of 27, signaling definitively man's transition into The Space Age. He was killed in an (entirely avoidable) training crash the same month he turned 34.
  • Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino is considered of the most influential master artists of the Renaissance period, whose works have inspired many others after him. He sadly died of an unknown sickness at age 37.
  • Similarly, Caravaggio is hailed as the premier Baroque artist, innovative for his use of tenebrism in his works. He only lived to be 38.
  • Secretariat only raced for two years during the prime of his career and lived out the rest of his life in retirement. He is still remembered as one of, if not the greatest racehorse who ever lived, set records that still stand to this day, and appears in the pedigree of many famous racehorses of this century.
  • The ArmaLite company in its original form (the name was later resurrected) only operated from 1956 to 1980, the blink of an eye compared to a lot of firearm manufacturers. However, they designed the AR-15 which would go onto become the basis for the M-16, one of the most successful military rifles of all time and the basis for countless civilian spin-offs. They also made the AR-10, another widely successful rifle in the civilian sector and the AR-18, which almost every other assault rifle that is not an AR-15 or AK-47 derivative owes some lineage too. They also were one of the first champions of aluminum and polymers in guns, which is now considered standard.
  • Three of the "Big Four" railway companies in the United Kingdom (LNER, LMS, and Southern) existed for less than 25 years, having been created by consolidating several smaller railways. Nevertheless, most preserved railway equipment will wear the colours of one of those railways when not in British Railways paint. Averted by the fourth of the Big Four, the Great Western Railway, which dated back almost to the dawn of the railway in the 1830s being majorly connected to Isambard Kingdom Brunel and was the only of the pre-Grouping companies to retain its identity.
    • The golden age of iconic streamliner steam engines of the 1930s really only lasts from the middle of the decade until 1939, because of the outbreak of war. The LNER A4 Pacific, made iconic by the speed record set by the "Mallard" and the Silver Jubilee train was introduced in 1935 and retired nearly thirty years later, but most of that time was spent in British Railways drab olive green colours rather than the much more famous LNER liveries. Even shorter lived was the streamlined LMS Princess Coronation - most of the beetle-like casings were removed entirely by the late 1940s - the example that lives in the National Railway Museum is a modern recreation of the streamlining built on top of a preserved Coronation.
  • The original Nintendo Game Boy Advance. While it was quickly overshadowed by the new and improved Game Boy Advance SP (which had a lit screen, something the original GBA did not), the original Game Boy Advance was universally praised for its sleek, comfortable form factor compared to its contemporary comeptitors the Bandai Wonderswan and the Nokia N-Gage, as well as past consoles like the bulky Sega Game Gear and the Atari Lynx, to the point that some people preferred the original for its form factor alone and even modded their systems to add an internal frontlight so they could have the best of both worlds. Despite being outclassed by the SP only two years later, its influence can be clearly seen in the designs of Sony's handhelds, the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation Vita.

Alternative Title(s): Short Run Wide Influence


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