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Signature Series Arc

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We understand Signature Scene as that one scene everyone remembers about a film, either No, I am your father or King Kong atop the buildings fighting off against planes. A way for people to remember this scene is thanks to Popcultural Osmosis, Shout Outs and countless parodies of said scenes.

However, in long-running series like comic-books or live-action, you don't exactly get this, as that one arc is the one to get the most attention. Maybe it's when the series starts to grow the beard and afterwards just can't top itself, maybe it has the best writing in the series, or it's just that arc that appears the most in merchandise. The last one is the most probable.

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However, this will not always be positive. Despite being a promising saga, many of the story's future flaws will still likely stem from this well-regarded storyline, so watch out.

Sub-Trope of Signature Scene, as this is more about an entire arc and not a single scene. After all, a particularly good scene may still be in a trainwreck of a movie.

Examples

Anime and Manga

  • Ask any fans of Berserk which is the most famous saga in the series, and they will all respond to you with the following: GRIFFITH!!, which of course refers to the Golden Age saga. This is the saga that showed Guts Dark and Troubled Past that fully developed him from the generic antihero he was to the complex character everybody loves, and it introduced Love Interest Casca and the master of the Moral Event Horizon Griffith. This is the only consistent saga to be adapted in almost all adaptations.
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  • Bleach: The Soul Society Arc is the most famous and beloved arc of the series, and is generally seen as the moment where it Grew the Beard. Not only did the arc introduce the Shikai and Bankai forms of Soul Reapers, but featured genuinely nail-biting tension in the battles between the protagonists and the nigh-invincible Gotei 13. And to top it off, the finale of the arc revealed the Big Bad Aizen, who had one impressive villain debut.
  • Digimon Adventure: The Tokyo/Eighth Child Arc, which stretches roughly from episodes 21 to 39, is the most popular arc due to moving the action from the fantasy realm of the Digital World to modern Tokyo, leading to some thrilling moments as Digimon wreak chaos in "our" world, plus the seven Digidestined's frantic search for their eighth member before the arc's Big Bad Myotismon finds them himself. The arc's popularity may be why Myotismon was brought back in Digimon Adventure 02 as the Greater-Scope Villain responsible for everything bad that ever happened.
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  • Dragon Ball Z: While the series is pretty well known for all the events that transpired in the life of Son Goku and his friends, the Namek saga is the one saga the series is most familiar with. Not only was it the saga that introduced Breakout Villain Freeza, but is also the one which introduced the world to the Trope Codifier for Golden Super Mode: the Super Saiyan. The saga has been adapted in almost all the videogames, it has been reanimated at least twice in Dragon Ball Z Kai and a special of Dragon Ball Super, and is the one with the most countless parodies (Including the infamous Namek time fo the series Arc Fatigue).
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has been going on for more than thirty years by now, but its most famous and beloved arc is still Stardust Crusaders. There are numerous reasons for this, such as its incredible amount of meme-worthy moments, Memetic Badass protagonist and Big Bad, several famous catchphrases, as well as the fact that it was the first JoJo arc to move outside the manga medium (with two OVAs and a video game). However, the most likely reason for its widespread fame is that it is the first part of the series to include Stands, which later became the most iconic part of JoJo.
  • The Chuunin Exams arc of Naruto. It's an early arc that introduces several characters who would go on to become staples of the series (such as Rock Lee or Hinata), and sees a lot of character development for Sasuke and Sakura, before transitioning the ongoing plot of Naruto into the wider conflict between Konoha and Orochimaru, and then turning the focus onto Akatsuki.
  • For Pokémon, no matter how many sequel series get made, the original Kanto arc always remains the one that is most remembered. Combined with First Installment Wins, this also has to do with the franchise well-known use of the original 151 Pokemon.
  • The Promised Neverland is usually described as a Genius Thriller of super-intelligent kids trying to escape from an evil orphanage with only their wits as weapons. But that part is only the first four-and-a-half volumes; after that the story moves to the outside world and the heroes' goals become much larger in scale, with more fantasy elements. Despite that, the first arc is generally considered the most memorable for its tension, numerous twists, and beloved antagonists (Isabella and Krone).
  • Saint Seiya: Out of all the sagas in the series, the one everyone remembers is the Twelve Houses saga, which fully introduced the Breakout Characters of the Golden Saints, and has been reanimated in a CGI film.
  • For Sword Art Online, the Aincrad arc is easily the most iconic arc and the one the series is most heavily associated with, which is a case of overlapping with First Installment Wins.

Comic Books

  • Spider-Man: "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" is possibly the most famous comic book story of all time. This arc is almost single-handedly credited with not only ushering in The Bronze Age of Comic Books, but in slowly introducing Darker and Edgier stories into comics in general. It's one of the first cases where a superhero fails, and opened the door for many, MANY imitators. Just about every adaptation of Spider-Man does its own version of the story in some way, and even the comic itself has referenced it time and time again.
  • Thanos: Throughout his publication, Thanos is most famous for one arc in particular: The Infinity Gauntlet. While hardly the only major story involving him or the rest of the Cosmic Marvel line-up, it is by far the most memorable largely because it allowed every character to shine, including every hero, the Big-Bad Ensemble, and several cosmic deties. But it is an especially Establishing Character Moment for Thanos, who gets cemented as a Magnificent Bastard with complex motivations and interesting character flaws. This arc has been adapted to videogames and a big part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • DC Comics: DC is particularly famous for Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Trope Namer for Crisis Crossover and Red Skies Crossover. Never before had comics seen so many characters assembled (some even from other companies after they'd been acquired by DC), seen stakes so large, or had consequences so dire. By the end of the story, TRILLIONS of people are dead, including several fan-favorite heroes, and the entire history of the DC Universe had been forever altered. It's telling that this event is one that has had sequels or revisits several times, in stories like Zero Hour!, The Kingdom, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, Flashpoint, DC Rebirth and many, many others.
  • X-Men: While the X-Men have many iconic arcs over its history, the entire first run of Chris Claremont has become the central and defining moment of the franchise. Not only did Claremont introduce or define many of the iconic characters, but he also wrote some of the most important stories, including The Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past. However it's also led to some Hype Backlash in the modern era, with accusations of Marvel having become fixated on nostalgia over his run, freezing the X-Men under that status quo while ignoring the radical changes to the franchise Claremont introduced are a part of what made it so iconic in the first place.

Literature

  • The original series of Warrior Cats combines this with First Installment Wins. It contains the most well-known characters and is highly influential in the fandom's fanon.

Live-Action Television

  • Babylon 5 is generally remembered for or even as The Shadow War, its longest arc by far. The Shadow War arc stretched all the way from mid-season one "Signs and Portents" to early season 4 "Into the Fire". With the Earth Alliance and Minbari Civil Wars sharing the remainder of season 4, and various smaller arcs (many of which pertained to the aftermath of The Shadow War.) making up the remainder of the series.
  • Power Rangers:
  • Supernatural is most well known for its stop the apocalypse arc starting in season 4 and really coming to a head in season 5 - the introduction of biblical themes (after previously focusing on smaller-scale creatures such as cryptids) and fan-favourite characters like Castiel, Gabriel and Lucifer permanently changed the show, and are widely considered to be the best written seasons. It made such an impact that new viewers are often very surprised to find out that angels are treated as non-existent and dismissed as silly for the first three seasons.

Video Games

  • in The King of Fighters series, probably the most known arc is the Orochi Saga that starts on KOF'94 (known as the Rugal Saga and prologue of the arc) and ends with KOF'97. This arc is the base of the series where major characters of the series are presented (mostly Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami) and the most known not just by KOF/SNK fans, which also overlaps with First Installment Wins.
  • Kingdom Hearts is rather famous for its intricate plot and for the smorgasbord of bishonen antagonists (and protagonists). The game that introduced all of these, and is considered the most iconic game of the series as a result, is Kingdom Hearts II.
  • Kirby Super Star for the Kirby series. It has "8 games in one", it introduces many story and gameplay elements that are retained in a lot of the future games, and it's the first of Kirby games to set things out (story, content, etc) in a large scale.
  • In The Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess are often the most remembered. OOT, in fact, is often considered one of the greatest video games of all-time, so it comes as no surprise that it is often considered the definitive game of the series. TP, in contrast, is a far more cinematic game, and has been used heavily in marketing since its release as a result and has thus become "the face of the series" in a manner of speaking.
  • For Mega Man X series, two of them stands out: the very first, which introduces many story and gameplay elements; the intro level in particular is iconic to the whole saga, and Vile, Zero and Sigma (major characters) are first established here. The other is X4, which is the game's jump to 32 bit, Zero becoming fully playable for the first time, and the jump in story to be deeper, darker and more high-stakes.
  • Just like with the anime, Pokémon Red and Blue (and Yellow) is the most well-known part of the franchise's story. As the beginning of the entire franchise, and the most well-sold version pair, it's no surprise that people know it so well compared to other generations of games, or that it gets a lot of references, returning characters, and has the most well-known and universally loved Pokemon. Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! are heavily based on Yellow.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is often remembered for the plot of the Dr. Eggman's Death Egg, the introduction of Sonic's sidekick and best friend Tails, and the debut of Super Sonic if you acquire the 7 Chaos Emeralds.
    • Sonic 3 & Knuckles is well-known for the continuation of the Death Egg story from Sonic 2. The game also introduced Knuckles who started off as The Rival to Sonic before joining his side near the end, the Master Emerald which can have turn the Chaos Emeralds into Super Emeralds which can turn Sonic into his Hyper Form. The arc is one of the reasons why Sonic fans consider Sonic 3 & Knuckles the best game of the series.
    • Sonic Adventure 2 is well remembered for the introduction of Sonic's arch-rival and dark counterpart Shadow, and also Shadow's Character Development from a revenge-driven villain to a hero who would ended up sacrificing himself to save the world. This in turn would make him so popular with the Sonic fans that he was brought back in Sonic Heroes. The game is also remembered for the dark and complex storyline which is split in two perspectives - Hero (Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles) and Dark (Shadow, Dr. Eggman, and Rouge) with Last Story being unlocked after clearing them.
  • Super Mario 64 is considered this among the Mario games, at least for the 3D ones. Its influence continues to be felt, even in newer games such as Super Mario Odyssey, due to the design principles and mechanics that were first introduced back then and have only been polished since. For the series as a whole, however, easily the original; Super Mario Bros..

Western Animation

  • The Legend of Korra's most well-known arc would have to be the first arc featuring Amon and the Equalists, but the one that truly defined the series was the third season, when Korra faced down the Red Lotus. Humor takes a total backseat, serious topics are broached, and it is the season that many feel came the closest to matching the spirit of the original series..
  • Season Four of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, to the point where the movie basically adapted the finale almost plot point for plot point (with a few world-building additions, as well as nixxing Discord).
  • For the DC Animated Universe, it is either the Justice Lords two-parter of the original Justice League, or its more-or-less direct sequel, the Cadmus arc in Unlimited. The former pits prime universe's heroes against their eponymous unfettered AU counterparts and forces them to draw the line that separates heroism from extremism. The latter builds upon that by having The Government realize that the League going the Justice Lord route is the single biggest threat to humanity and pitting Good Vs Good in a Myth Arc spanning two seasons and culminating in one of the most epic finales of the whole DCAU.

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