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Gilgamesh: Making Super Strength cool four thousand years before Superman.

They all have one, but we often don't know what work they're from. The Ur-Example is the oldest known example of any given trope. "Ur-" is a German prefix meaning "proto-, primitive, or original" — that it is also the name of an ancient Sumerian city founded around the time that the earliest known writing systems were invented is serendipity.

Often, an Ur-Example doubles as the Trope Maker — but not always, and far less often with ancient tropes, which often evolved over a long period of time rather than suddenly bursting forth from someone's head, fully formed. When they're distinct, a Trope Maker differs from an Ur-Example in that the latter is realized to have met the definition of the trope only after later storytellers started doing it on purpose.

For instance, one of the pivotal Trope Makers of the Detective Story is Edgar Allan Poe's collection of C. Auguste Dupin stories; before Dupin, there is no story genre of fictional detectives going about the business of solving crimes. Nevertheless, while you may or may not know Poe's Dupin stories, you've probably encountered a certain Danish Prince named Hamlet,Date:  who not only sets about to ensnare his uncle King Claudius, but even incorporates into his plans a play-within-a-play he dubs "The Mousetrap". But half-a-millennium earlier still, "The Tale of the Three Apples" is a proto-Detective Story from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights Date:  — which would make "The Tale of the Three Apples" the Ur-Example of the Detective Story, or at least a possible candidate. But Wait, There's More! Oedipus Rex, first performed in 429 BCE, depicts Oedipus investigating the cause of the plague that has struck his realm. Which will give you an idea of the depth of the rabbit-hole a quest for the Ur-example can lead you down.note 

Wherever a trope has evolved gradually, determining the Ur-Example can be a complicated and contentious business. In many cases a trope has more than one Ur-Example, because determining the "earliest use of the trope" depends on subjective choices as to which aspects of the trope are its defining qualities.

This doesn't just apply to tropes, many times an idea is created by different people simultaneously or discovered and forgotten only to be rediscovered later. For example, who invented the telephone? Alexander Graham Bell, you might say. Wrong. Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray both independently invented the telephone, but Bell got to the patent office first. Thomas Edison had the idea of wireless transmission of voice and signals but considered it unimportant, and it was forgotten until Marconi independently invented radio years later. And if this is the situation with something as concrete as an invention, imagine how easy it is with something as intangible as an idea for a concept in fiction.

Ur-Examples are unfortunately highly susceptible to the "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny trope — not only because they dreamed up conventions that have been around practically forever but both because, since at the time they were so new, the creators didn't really appreciate what they were making and thus didn't conform to the standards of an aesthetic or gimmick that hadn't even existed yet, and because (sometimes) they were trading on novelty value and suffer by comparison when we have alternatives to compare them to. See Unbuilt Trope and Beam Me Up, Scotty! for more on this.

Notable Ur-Examples:

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  • The Bible:
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh:
    • A possible Ur-Example of the Femme Fatale, Ishtar — and a hero who is somehow smart enough to recognize her as such!
    • An example of Tragic Bromance, in which Gilgamesh's Heterosexual Life-Partner Enkidu dies, and afterwards Gilgamesh becomes an Immortality Seeker.
    • Ishtar threatens she will open the gates of the underworld, so the dead will "go up and eat the living, and the dead will outnumber the living." The calamity she threatens would surely resemble a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Where was the first use of By Wall That Is Holey? Not in Buster Keaton films, not in animated shorts, but in an ancient Pima story of creation perhaps millennia before the creation of film, in which the creator god Juhwertamahkai twice destroys the world by letting the sky fall to crush everybody while avoiding such a fate himself by breaking a hole in the sky with his staff.
  • The 2nd Century AD satirical novel True History can actually be considered the first known example of many tropes, including:
    • This Is a Work of Fiction, the preface of the story states that everything beyond it is a complete lie and made up, intentionally contradicting the title.
    • It may be the very first surviving story that involves interplanetary travel and actual aliens that have nothing to do with any pre-existing mythologies, with the story going out of its way to describe in vivid detail the bizarre humanoid creatures that live on other planets, such as on the moon or the Sun. This made many call it the first surviving example of the Science Fiction genre.
    • It's also the first known example of a Space Battle, through the battle of the people of the Moon against the people of the Sun. Of course, it doesn't have actual spaceships, instead using mounts of a wide variety of giant-sized animals.
    • More impressively, it may be one of the first surviving examples of an active Deconstruction, as the entire novel is meant to poke fun at contemporary and ancient sources, such as Herodotus, that mix myth and reality, all of it through the Framing Device of it being a massive Tall Tale, and an intentionally incomplete one at that.
  • Time Travel is yet another of those very murky tropes that it's impossible to give one single Ur-Example to.
    • Stories in which people are thrust forward long periods of time trace back to Mahabharata, in the eighth century B.C, the Ur-Example of Year Outside, Hour Inside. Similar ancient tales about traveling forward in time include the story of Honi HaM'agel in the Talmud (by way of Rip Van Winkle) and the Japanese tale of Urashima Taro (another Year Outside, Hour Inside).
    • An early story with hints of backwards Time Travel is Memoirs of the Twentieth Century (1733) by Samuel Madden.
    • "Missing One's Coach: An Anachronism", written for the Dublin Literary Magazine by an anonymous author in 1838, is a very early quasi-Time Travel story.
    • In Charles Dickens' 1843 book A Christmas Carol, we follow Ebenezer Scrooge into his own past and then back to the present. However, he is only able to view the past and unable to interact with it.
      • If non-interactive viewing of another time counts, there are examples in the Bible, most famously The Revelation of Jesus Christ. "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this."
    • 1855's "Lunigrafía" by Miguel Estorch y Siqués is sometimes cited as being the first time travel story, as well as the first spanish science fiction novel.
    • A clearer example of time travel is found in the popular 1861 book Paris avant les hommes (or Paris before Men) by the French botanist and geologist Pierre Boitard. In this story the main character is transported into the prehistoric past by the magic of a "lame demon" (a French pun on Boitard's name), where he encounters such extinct animals as a Plesiosaur, as well as Boitard's imagined version of an apelike human ancestor, and is able to actively interact with some of them.
    • The 1862 play by Hungarian One-Hit Wonder playwright Imre Madách titled The Tragedy of Man (Az ember tragédiája in Hungarian) is possibly the ur-example of interactive Mental Time Travel to the future. While it is revealed at the end that It Was All Just A Dream, the scenes set in the past (relative to 1862) are historically accurate (mostly).
    • The 1881 short story "The Clock That Went Backward", by an anonymous author later identified as Edward Page Mitchell, is almost forgotten today. A broken clock sends a few men to the past.
    • The first story to feature Time Travel by means of a time machine was Enrique Gaspar y Rimbau's 1887 book El Anacronópete.
    • One year later, in 1888, H. G. Wells published the first story to feature Time Travel by means of a time machine which allowed its operator to navigate through time purposefully and selectively: "The Chronic Argonauts".
    • Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), in which the protagonist finds himself in the Arthurian era after a fight in which he is hit with a sledge hammer, was another early time travel story which helped bring the concept to a wide audience, and was also one of the first stories to show history being changed by the time traveler's actions.
    • H. G. Wells also coined the term "time machine," which was popularized (and eventually universalized) through his story The Time Machine (1895).
  • The turn-of-the-century silent film "The Big Swallow" presented the Eat the Camera effect, both played straight and inverted. It would also be the Trope Namer, as shown by the middle scene where the camera and cameraman appear to be Swallowed Whole.
  • The origin of the phrase Eat the Rich dates back to around the time of The French Revolution, when Jean-Jacques Rousseau reportedly said, "When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich."
  • Sobekneferu, who reigned in the 12th dynasty of Egypt, around 1800 years B.C., is the first known case of She Is the King – though it is possible a handful of female pharaohs predated even her... by up to a thousand years or more.
  • While the legends of Elizabeth Báthory are widely considered to be the Trope Maker for the Blood Bath, the story of Siegfried from the Nibelungenlied bathing in the blood of the slain dragon to become invulnerable predate Bathory's ties to the trope by at least 500 years.
    • The trope has a real life predecessor in the taurobolium, in which an initiate was bathed in the blood of a sacrificed bull. The ritual, dedicated to Magna Mater, is attested in Italy in A.D. 134, but it originated in Asia Minor earlier.
  • Godwin's Law: William Jennings Bryan, an opponent of the theory of evolution in the 1920s, argued that it would lead to social Darwinism like in Imperial Germany. Arguably a use of Godwin's law that predates the Nazis themselves.
  • Typhon from Classical Mythology is likely the Ur-Example of a Hero Killer, driving the gods from Olympus by himself and defeating Zeus in their first encounter, ripping out his sinews, and leaving him to rot. He covers all the requirements for the trope and is easily Older Than Feudalism.
  • High-Powered Career Woman: Hildy Johnson from His Girl Friday might be the Ur-Example. She is a woman with a successful career in a male-dominated field, journalism, who is highly respected by her male coworkers, all of whom treat her as One of the Boys. She is involved in a Love Triangle between her fiance, who wants her to be a feminine wife, and her ex-husband, who is her editor and wants her to continue working with him in a classic Career vs. Man conflict. The archetype however wouldn't be popularized until 30 years later with The Mary Tyler Moore Show (airing in 1970), which was lauded as a landmark for second-wave feminism because it featured an unmarried, independent, highly competent, career-focused female protagonist.
  • The unidentified assassin of Pharaoh Amenemhat I from Papyrus Millingen, believe it or not, is the Ur-Example of a Ninja.
  • I Am Legend is the Ur-Example of a Zombie Apocalypse. The novel contains most if not all of the hallmarks of a modern Zombie Apocalypse. George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968) was based on this novel.
  • The Return of the Living Dead is considered to be the Ur-Example of Brain Food in zombie films.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey, with its clean, monochromatic technological design, is the Ur-Example of Everything Is an iPod in the Future. In fact, the Apple iPod is named after the film's space shuttles of the same name.
  • Kid Paddle might be this for the Two Gamers on a Couch trope as it is the first time that a gamer ever was the main character in a comic book. The main difference is that only one guy is playing video games (mostly Kid Paddle, but the comic book implements a subversion from time to time for humor) and the fact that the humor based on phenomena is done outside of the couch.
  • The Trope Maker for Secret Identity is The Scarlet Pimpernel. However, in medieval Chivalric Romance, several characters work in a menial position at a Standard Royal Court only to emerge as a Knight in Shining Armor at The Tourney, or in war: Robert the Devil, Gowther, Roswall in Roswall and Lillian. (It also appears in Fairy Tales such as "Iron Hans" and "The Golden Crab" - Oral Tradition making it hard to figure out when it first appeared.) With the armor serving the same purpose as a superhero's mask, only more plausibly, and the princess frequently falling in love with the hero and guessing his identity, the major difference is that the identity is only secret until he has saved the day three times, after which he is revealed.
  • The Frogs by the Greek playwright Aristophanes may be the Ur-example of the recognition of the existence of Dead Horse Tropes. The opening scene involves two characters, one telling the other essentially "Go ahead and do whatever bits you want, but please, not [list of things that he considers overdone]".
  • Johann Sebastian Bach created the Ur-Example of Must Have Caffeine with Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht.
  • Sita from the Hindu epic Ramayana was the earliest example of the Damsel in Distress. Her rescuer Rama is also the earliest example of the Archer Archetype. Rama’s father Dasaratha was also the first ever Death by Despair.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny probably started with The Roman Empire, which continued to call itself a republic (Senate and People of Rome) when it effectively became an absolute monarchy as the Julio-Claudian dynasty concentrated all power in one person.
  • The originator in popular culture of the idea of a Serial Killer was Jack the Ripper, but since Jack committed his spree in the 1880s, he's preceded by several lesser-known examples. These were usually aristocrats, as it made it easier to get away with their murders (and for these murders to be documented when they were discovered), including Gilles De Rais, Elizabeth Báthory, and Liu Pengli.
  • The many examples of a Proto-Superhero can actually be seen as deconstructions of superheroes to modern readers, despite these characters being created years before characters like Superman and Batman (who themselves were inspired by proto-heroes like Doc Savage and the Shadow) established the rules and style of the genre.
  • While the Marvel Family are usually seen as the quintessential Super Family Team, they are predated by The Phantom, who was a lineage of crime-fighting men, by several years.
  • Sexbots in the way we understand them, as creations of modern robotics technology, weren't really a thing until Science Fiction writers like Isaac Asimov started writing about them in the 1950s. However, the idea of an "artificial partner" goes at least as far back as Galatea from The Metamorphoses, written during Roman times. Here, the means of animation are supernatural in nature, not technological.

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Despite technically being predated in publication by Superman, the Ur-Example for the Flying Brick in superhero comics would be Namor the Sub-Mariner. Superman couldn't fly until The '40s (he could just jump really high or a really long way - "able to leap tall buildings in a single bound", remember?), but Namor was airborne from day one.
  • The Tomb of Dracula contained the first Vampire Detective Series, following Hannibal King.
  • Popeye the Sailor is the Ur-Example of the comic book superhero. He's heroic only to Olive Oyl however, many others (sometimes including innocent bystanders) are often brutally killed.
  • As mentioned in Trope Makers, The Clock was the first costumed crimefighter in comics, making him the Ur-Example of comic book superheroes. Additionally, he had a female teenage Side Kick named Butch, creating the Ur-Example of the superhero sidekick. It's generally accepted that Robin is the Trope Maker since he was a more traditional superhero sidekick.
    • Also, it is often believed that Spider-Man is the creator of a non-sidekick teen superhero. While Spider-Man is certainly the Trope Codifier and his creation led to many of the popular tropes that concept usually entails, the first non-sidekick teenage superhero was the Star Spangled Kid who first appeared in 1941. Ironically enough, he had an adult sidekick named Stripesy who was probably the originator of that particular trope.
  • John Constantine the Hellblazer started the urban blue collar, supernatural Trenchcoat Brigadier.
  • Velislav Bible is considered to be the very first comic. Also is considered to be the first book with pictures.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The first ever Gangster Picture was the 1927 silent film Underworld.
  • Escape from New York: Snake Plissken was a Darker and Edgier '90s Anti-Hero in 1981! That the film is itself is set in 1997 is somewhat Hilarious in Hindsight.
  • Metropolis was the first ever Cyberpunk film, before Cyberpunk even became a genre. In fact, it used a lot of tropes before they became popular.
  • Ur-Example of the X-rated film? A Free Ride (1915). Not only was it genuine porn, but it even had a Seventies-sounding title! However, this is contested. A Free Ride's actual year of creation is subject to debate, with some scholars thinking it was created later than 1915. Additionally, two other early porn films (El Satario and Am Abend) were supposedly created earlier, although the exact dates for those two films are fuzzy as well.
  • Don Juan (1926) was the first-ever feature-length film to be released with a prerecorded soundtrack (no dialogue, but synchronized music and sound effects).
  • The Jazz Singer (1927) was the first ever feature-length film to be released with synchronized recorded dialogue.
  • The Burning of Red Lotus Temple (1928) was the first Wuxia film.
  • Nightmare City (1980) was the first zombie film to feature zombies that move as fast as living humans (as opposed to classic, lumbering zombies).
  • WarGames was probably the first movie to use Everything Is Online, right down to the first cinematic reference to the term "firewall". In fact, practically every hacking-related trope from the past 30 years owes its existence to this movie.
  • The Siege was the first Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie... three years before 9/11 actually happened.
  • The Dr. Kildare series (16 films between 1937 and 1947) was the Ur-Example of the Medical Drama, establishing tropes like the idealistic young doctor and the one who served as his crotchety mentor, and the Patient of the Week with a mysterious illness that the doctor would have to diagnose and cure.
  • The Big House (1930) is the Ur-Example of prison films, with the new convict arriving, the hardened killer convict, the convict that's trying to reform, the Great Escape, the discontent over terrible food, and many more tropes associated with prison settings.
    • Caged (1950) is the earliest Girls Behind Bars film. The trope is in the embryonic form here, with only one brief bit of Fanservice and a couple of hints at lesbianism; it would take the downfall of The Hays Code for the exploitative T&A "girls behind bars" films to come out.
  • Reefer Madness (1936) is the Ur-Example of the So Bad, It's Good trend in film.
  • The Confessions of a... series is the ur-example of the Awful British Sex Comedy, which was very popular throughout the 1970s and '80s. However, many say that the Carry On film series was this as well, but there were only about two movies that played the trope straight. In contrast, the other movies just relied on coarse sexual innuendo and double entendre.
  • Alexander Nevsky (1938) was the first work of fiction to use the All Germans Are Nazis trope and was made while the Third Reich was in power.
  • Game of Death shows the first nunchaku vs. nunchaku fight in cinematic history.
  • It's a Wonderful Life was the first film to feature Angels in Overcoats (beating Wings of Desire by about four decades), but it's unclear if it had any meaning at that point since it's winter in Bedford Falls and everyone outside is wearing overcoats. Clarence's winter coat is also much more mundane than the stylized trenchcoats utilized by later works.
  • For Blaxploitation, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song from 1971 is the one to beat.
  • For teen protagonists in film, you can go back to the adventures of Andy Hardy, which started in 1937 when Mickey Rooney was 17 and Judy Garland was 15.
  • Blade Runner is often regarded as the ur-example for the Cyberpunk genre. This is due to the fact that cyberpunk as a genre has adopted a lot of the elements of the film such as futuristic Film Noir. However, unlike cyberpunk proper, which would be introduced in William Gibson's 1984 novel Neuromancer, computers and cyberspace play no role in Blade Runner (although the concept was already around, if not the term). And the punk aspects are mostly in the background; the main characters, while streetwise, are either working for "The Man" or akin to escaped slaves. Roy Batty has the punk look but not the personality. Interestingly, J.F. Sebastian is the closest character in the film to the image of cyberpunk as techno hacker.
  • The Trope Maker for Psychic Nosebleed is Scanners, but there are two films that predate it. The Wizard of Gore has a hypnotized victim suffer a nosebleed, and in The Fury Gillian's unfamiliarity with her powers causes bleeding on people who touch her, especially if they're already injured in some way (and she weaponizes this at the end to explode the Big Bad).
  • The Lost World (1925) can be considered the ur-example of a kaiju movie, featuring the very first known instance of a giant beast rampaging through a city, something which would be developed further with later movies like King Kong (1933) and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, before finally being established as we all know it with Godzilla (1954).
  • The first R rating to be issued by the MPAA, to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, was issued a couple of years before the MPAA film rating system was formally introduced. The specific disclaimer used at the time of its release was "No one under 18 will be admitted unless accompanied by his parent."
  • The 1928 Charlie Chaplin film The Circus is the ur-example for the Hall of Mirrors sequence, predating the Trope Maker, The Lady from Shanghai, by 18 years.

    Games (all kinds) 
  • Senet is the Ur-Example of the Board Game. There probably existed others before, but this is the oldest known. Ironically, there is a game called "The Royal Game of Ur", and while it is very old, Senet still predates it by about 900 years or so.
  • Dungeons & Dragons was the first Tabletop RPG, and a precursor to every video Role-Playing Game.
  • Wikipedia lists several candidates for first video game. Depends on how one defines "video game".
    • The Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device is an electronic game from 1947. Might count as a "video game" even though it is not a computer program and has no digital logic. It also produced no video signal.
    • OXO seems to be the first video game to use a digital graphics display. OXO implemented Tic-Tac-Toe (Noughts and Crosses) in a computer program for the EDSAC. It never had many players, because the only EDSAC was at the University of Cambridge.
    • The first known video game to interface with a television (hence "video") was the Magnavox Odyssey.
  • Pitfall! II: Lost Caverns was the Ur-Example of Metroidvania.
  • Probably the first role-playing video game was pedit5 on the PLATO system from 1975. Rumors exist of an earlier program called m199h but pedit5 is the earliest confirmed one and served as the basis for a later program called dnd (or The Game of Dungeons).
  • Interactive Fiction usually dates back to Colossal Cave (1976), but there was in fact one other parser-based adventure by Peter Langston called Wander from 1973, written in HP BASIC.
  • Dragon Quest is the Ur-Example of the Japanese RPG. The first game laid the basic foundation for the genre on consoles, taking inspiration from Western computer RPGs. The second game introduced the concept of party progression by having the player recruit additional characters following key events. The third game, one of the most popular JRPGs to this day, introduced the concept of the Job System and would serve as the inspiration for nearly every JRPG released since.
  • The Ur-Disguised Horror Story of Video Games is Live A Live, where Square Enix deconstructs its own flagship Middle-ages fantasy RPG genre.
  • The Ur-First-Person Shooter is the 1974 game Maze War. (Wolfenstein 3-D is the Trope Maker and Doom the Trope Codifier).
  • The first Stealth-Based Game is Castle Wolfenstein by Silas Warner in 1981 which predates the arcade game 005 by Sega.
    • But before either of those, in 1979, there was a game for the PET 2001 PC called Manbiki Shonen, literally translated to Shoplifting Boy.
  • Girl's Garden could be seen as not only the first Romance Game, but also a prototypical example of an otome game.
  • Pokémon may be responsible for popularizing the monster catching craze worldwide. However both it and the Trope Maker Megami Tensei grew out of an Edo period Older Than Television Collectible Card Game called Obake Karuta ("Monster Cards"). In the game, a set of cards with depictions of various monsters from Japanese Mythology would be placed on a table. Each round, players would be given a clue, and attempt to grab the card of a monster who met that clue before their opponents could. At the end of the game, the player with the most cards won.
  • Bungie's Marathon is the Ur-Example for the 'mouselook' control scheme, where instead of only using a keyboard to control an FPS character, you control the view with a mouse as well. Terminator Future Shock is the Trope Maker, but due to Marathon being on the apple platform, and Terminator Future Shock just not being popular, it took until Quake and its innovative online multiplayer before the mouselook feature became codified.
  • The Ur-Example of an Easter Egg is often believed to be Adventure, a 1980 game for the Atari 2600. However, it was preceded by the "Demo Cart" for the Fairchild Channel F console (released in 1976), in which a key combination could bring the programmer's name, Michael Glass, up on screen. Both Alien Invasion and Video Whizball (1978) also had a code to display their programmer's last name (Reid-Selth, for Brad Reid-Selth) on the screen.
    • Preceeding Alien Invasion and Video Whizball was the arcade game Starship 1 (1977) by Atari which has a secret button combination which will output the phrase "HI RON!" (Ron being designer Ron Milner of Atari's Cyan Engineering).
  • Adventure is, however, the Ur-Example of the Action-Adventure game and the Wide-Open Sandbox gameplay style.
  • The Orion Conspiracy, realeased in 1995, is the Ur-Example of the Coming-Out Story in Video Games, though LGBT material has been present in video games since at least the 1980s.
  • Vib-Ribbon, released in 1999 for the PlayStation, was the first game to generate levels in real-time based on the music on a CD supplied by the player. This genre became popular years later when technology had advanced enough to make the games more visually appealing. However, Monster Rancher, a game in which monsters are generated through the music (or other data) on a CD supplied by the player, predates Vib-Ribbon by two years.
  • Recca, an NES game made in 1992, is the Ur-Example of Bullet Hell.
  • Akalabeth: World of Doom, released in 1980, marked the beginning of the Computer Western Role-Playing Game.
  • The Space Marine trope: Warhammer 40,000 was the tabletop game Ur-Example, DOOM the videogame version.
  • Three games stand out as the first Survival Horror games:
    • Haunted House was released for the Atari 2600 in 1982. It had you navigating a haunted mansion in order to collect the three pieces of an urn, and had you avoiding bats, tarantulas, and the ghost of Mr. Graves himself. Your only light was a match that only lasted for a short time and could be snuffed out easily, and you could only use one of three items - a key to open doors, a sceptre to ward off ghosts and monsters, and the urn. If you were hit by the monsters nine times, it was Game Over.
    • The widely-panned NES adaptation of Friday the 13th, released in February of 1989, was the very first party-based survival horror. Designed to emulate the feel of a Slasher Film, the game's main objective was to keep your six counselors and the kids under their care alive in the face of Jason Voorhees and find a way to take him down once and for all, which was done by collecting items to make your job easier, fighting zombies, and fending off Jason whenever he appeared, and each counselor had their strengths and weaknesses.
    • Sweet Home (1989), released in December of 1989, was a JRPG that introduced many features that would become standard for survival horror, including a story told through the game's setting, the need for careful inventory management, and limited healing items.
  • While Rogue is the Trope Maker and Trope Namer for the Roguelike genre, the genre has its Ur-Example a bit earlier: dnd features all the elements that would later be associated with Roguelikes. It is also (arguably) the first video game with boss battles.
  • Populous is the first example of the God Sim.
  • Vette! was the first true 3D open-world driving game.
  • I, Robot was the first video game to use filled polygon graphics (as opposed to vectors).
  • Gottlieb's Caveman is the Ur-Example of a Video Mode in Pinball games. It was a pinball/video arcade game hybrid with the screen embedded in the pinball playfield. When the player shot a ball into either side of the screen, a Maze Game would start, whereupon the player can move the caveman with a joystick to hunt dinosaurs. The player could return to the pinball game if he exited the maze, but getting eaten by a T. rex would drain the ball.
  • Pinball Construction Set is the Ur-Example and Trope Maker for Game Makers.
  • Battle Zone 1980 is the Ur-Example of both simulation games and of military training software, with The Bradley Trainer (modified from the Battlezone arcade cabinet) being commissioned by the U.S. Army.
  • All games on the Action Max are Ur-Examples of FMV games. The actual first game to utilize Full Motion Video, however, was the arcade version of Wild Gunman, from 1974.
  • Infogrames' Hostages, ported to the NES by Kemco as Rescue: The Embassy Mission, was the first Tactical Shooter game.
  • Wilderness: A Survival Adventure (1985) was the first Survival Sandbox game, over two decades before Minecraft popularized the genre. It also was one of the first games, if not the first, to feature a procedural terrain generator.
  • Meridian 59 was the first mmorpg, although many people incorrect believe Ultima Online was the first.
  • Anarchy Online was the first mmorpg to use instanced areas (in the form of the missions, although later they made most dungeons and quest areas instanced as well.
  • Rising Zan: The Samurai Gunman is the first example of a Stylish Action game, featuring a score-driven take on the Beat 'em Up genre with over-the-top action, an intricate combo system, grading players through their performance, and various Press X to Not Die moments.
  • Gumshoe features many of the gameplay elements of an Endless Running Game and was released in 1985, long before the age of Flash and mobile games, where the genre flourishes. The Zapper is used for control as if tapping the phone screen, even!

    Literature, Poetry 
  • Baifa Monu Zhuan contains the first portrayal of the white hair witch seen in many Wuxia films such as The Bride With White Hair and The Forbidden Kingdom.
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh, being among the first recorded stories known to man, is the Ur-Example, or at least one of the very earliest Trope Codifiers, of the heroic epic poem and a lot of the related tropes. That Gilgamesh was the king of Uruk, not far from Ur, just makes it sweeter. One could even say that this is the Ur-Example of the Ur-Example.
  • The Roman novel The Golden Ass, written in the 2nd century AD, contains the story of Cupid And Psyche, considered to be the oldest attestation of "The Search for the Lost Husband" tale type: a human girl marries a supernatural husband, loses him, and has to search for him.
  • The Iliad, sub-titled The Wrath of Achilles. Achilles and Patroclus have an insane amount of Ho Yay. Of course, it's Ancient Greece, so Everyone Is Bi. May represent the Ur-Example of Shipping and a Fan-Preferred Couple, as debates go as far back as the Classical period (i.e. almost 2,500 years) as to whether or not the two were actually lovers and people still argue over it in the present day! The main sticking point, at least for the Classical Greeks, having been more that Achilles and Patroclus were about the same age, rather than fitting the age structured homosexual relationships favored in that later era.
  • Marking the first novel is a rather ambiguous and arbitrary endeavor given the long evolution of literary tradition that eventually becomes what we now define as novels. The Roman novel The Golden Ass, by Lucius Apuleius Platonicus in 160 AD is perhaps the oldest work that could be considered a novel. Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji (1010) is the oldest that is universally accepted as a novel. Don Quixote is widely considered to be the first modern novel, divided into chapters and two parts.
  • The character Dante in The Divine Comedy might be the Ur-Example of Author Avatar.
    • As might Lucius, the protagonist of Lucius Apuleius Platonicus's novel The Golden Ass, written more than a millennium earlier.
    • You could consider Socrates/Plato of The Republic to be the Ur-Example. Just don't get hung up on who the author was.
  • The Ur-Example of the Detective Story might be "The Tale of the Three Apples," from The Book of the One Thousand and One Nights (Arabic: كتاب ألف ليلة وليلة‎ - kitāb 'alf layla wa-layla; Persian: هزار و یک شب - Hezār-o yek shab). While it's difficult to say exactly how ancient the roots of the story go, we can say it dates back at least to the fourteenth century CE., since that's the date of the earliest known copy of the The Book of One Thousand and One Nights as we know it. It could date back as far as, or farther than the early 9th century CE.
    • The One Thousand and One Nights has at least one other detective story (of the Reverse Whodunnit variety), "Ali Khwajah and the Merchant of Baghdad" where a thief is caught with the help of logic and olive experts.
    • The deuterocanonical (or apocryphal, according to Protestants) extended Book of Daniel has a story where Daniel figures out a Locked Room Mystery. Essentially a Detective Story in the way that it's played out.
    • In the extended Book of Daniel, we also have a story of Susanna, a woman falsely accused of adultery. Daniel proves that Susanna is innocent using detective methods. The story can be considered as an example of Reverse Whodunnit.
  • The True History by Lucian of Samosota, written at some point in second-century Greece, is sometimes considered the Ur-Example of Science Fiction, as well as the Tall Tale. Discussing whether or not it counts is Serious Business for academia. Also, it ends with a To Be Continued.
    • For those who don't count Lucian's True History as the first work of science fiction (given its satirical nature), Syzygies and Lunar Quadratures (involving a story in which a person makes a flight to the moon) by Manuel Antonio de Rivas written in 1775 would indisputably count.
  • George Chesney's story The Battle of Dorking (1871) can be considered the Ur-Example of military science fiction.
  • The Lensman Series gave us power armor and space marines. Basically the first Military Science Fiction.
  • Several of Lord Dunsany's stories provide the Ur-Examples of the Sword and Sorcery fantasy subgenre. To give one example, one story concerns the gods Chu-bu and Sheemish and the names and personalities of these gods are quite similar to those that turn up in Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and in Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. The story itself is an example of Gods Need Prayer Badly which turns up in similar ways in a lot of later fantasy.
  • The Stars My Destination and to a lesser extent The Demolished Man and The Caves of Steel prefigures cyberpunk - you have mega corps, dark anti-heroes, and every thing you'd expect from the genrenote .
  • Charles Dickens' Bleak House is possibly the first instance of Spontaneous Human Combustion showing up in a work of fiction; however, several stories of this phenomenon "really happening" in Real Life predate Bleak House, the oldest dating back to 1654 in the book Historiarum Anatomicarum Rariorum by Thomas H. Bartholin, which provides a report of such an incident that is dated from the late 1400's.
  • Childhood's End for Ominous Floating Spaceship.
  • The fin-de-siècle Viennese writer Arthur Schnitzler is usually credited with pioneering the stream-of-consciousness, internal monologue, 1st-person style with his short story "Leutnant Gustl". But it’s just the first example of this style mentioned by James Joyce. The same kind of monologue was used before by Leo Tolstoy (some scenes of Anna Karenina, 1877), Dostevsky (A Gentle Creature, 1876) and Victor Hugo (The Last Day of Condemned Man, 1829).
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote Christabel, a poem involving a lesbian vampire, in the 1790s. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla borrowed this aspect from Coleridge.
  • In a strange example of an Ur-Example switching media, The Scarlet Pimpernel is probably the Ur-Example of a Super Hero, or at least a costumed crimefighter using a Secret Identity. But of course there was such a superhero in The Mysteries of Paris by Eugene Sue.
  • Andre Norton's Quag Keep (1978) was the world's first Dungeons & Dragons novel (it's set in the world of Greyhawk and dedicated to Gary Gygax), before D&D novels were a thing. It was also probably the first story to use the plot "gamers get magically transported to the supposedly-fictional world of the game they play".
  • Edgar Allan Poe's only full length novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket provides the Ur-Example of Cosmic Horror in its final chapters, where the titular Arthur Gordon Pym and two other men sail through the surreal Antarctic waters.
  • Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie (1944), was the first historical whodunnit; the first full-length novel to combine historical fiction and a detective story plot.
  • Azathoth of the Cthulhu Mythos by H. P. Lovecraft is one of the oldest known examples of the Almighty Idiot, a god so immensely powerful, yet brainless and ultimately without goal or direction, simply destroying as a consequence of breathing. While many of Lovecraft's tales speak of gods without interest in humanity, Azathoth is set apart because the destruction of the universe isn't a conscious decision on the part of the deity, it's just an accident of its existence.
  • While Dystopian novels were popularized by the likes of We, Brave New World, and Nineteen Eighty-Four, the very first novel to depict a dystopian future was A Sojourn in the City of Amalgamation, in the Year of Our Lord, 19—, by Jerome B. Holgate, which was published in 1835. Unfortunately, the main problem with this novel is, the sociopolitical movement Holgate depicts as having led to moral, political and social degeneration in his far future world is human rights for black people. Yeah.
  • Earthsea is the Ur-Example of Dragon Rider, (as in, human rides on a dragon). Notably, here it’s a one-off occurrence, as the dragons in the setting typically look down on and don’t interact much with humans, so for one of them to give a human a ride home as a token of gratitude is a huge deal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The very first Trumplica might be Walter Trump, who appears in a 1958 episode of Trackdown, a CBS western show. Walter is a con-man who bears a strong resemblance to Donald Trump's father Frederick, a notorious figure in his own right. He claims the town will be destroyed by a meteor shower and promises to build a magical wall to save them.
  • New York Undercover (1994-1998) was the first American Police Procedural to feature two people of color in the starring roles.
  • Upscale, urban sitcoms featuring Jewish - or Ambiguously Jewish - characters have become so run-of-the-mill nowadays that it's easy to forget how uncommon they were as recently as The '80s. That's why Seinfeld was such a hit (and also arguably why it is "unfunny"). But the very first Jewish sitcom? The Goldbergs, which came along in the late 1940s.
  • The Ur-Example of the reality-TV show? If you consider game shows to be reality shows, you can go back all the way to television's beginnings in the 1940s. But the first reality show in the modern sense, with a camera voyeuristically following people around, was COPS, in 1988. The writers' strike in Hollywood that year forced the Fox network to come up with something really impromptu, and in the process an entire genre of entertainment was born. In terms of a (presumably more serious) documentary-style reality show, one can go back further to PBS' An American Family which goes all the way back to 1973 (filmed in '71). A Transatlantic Equivalent, The BBC's The Family was shown a year later.
  • Batman (1966) was likely the first television comedy to lack either a Laugh Track or a Studio Audience. Being a Stealth Parody helps.
  • The first science fiction television program was a BBC adaptation of the play R.U.R. by Karel Čapek broadcast live on February 11, 1938.
  • Emergency! is the one for the Rescue genre.
  • Grange Hill is one for the Teen Drama genre, starting in 1978, although it's mostly seen as a Soap Opera with schoolkids. Then of course came Degrassi Junior High in 1987 as the Trope Maker and Beverly Hills, 90210 in 1990 as the Trope Codifier.

  • The first pop-music star of any kind? Bernart de Ventadorn (1135?-1195?) is as good a candidate as any. He was a troubador from the town of Correze in France, and composed love poems set to music in the Occitan language (a dialect that sounds like French and Spanish mixed together). Not only was Ventadorn popular throughout France and widely imitated during the medieval period, he is one of the earliest composers of Western secular music (not to mention instrumental music) for whom we still have transcripts of written compositions. Even more striking, Ventadorn's songs sound remarkably contemporary to the modern ear, at least if one is familiar with 1960s folk-rockers like Buffalo Springfield and Led Zeppelin, who often sound as if they were trying to ape Ventadorn (and may in fact have done so).
  • The prime example of Avant-Garde Music as we consider it today: loud noises, dissonance, sometimes frightening sounding is Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring from 1913. Compare the music in that piece with all the other classical music that was around that time and you quickly understand why it caused a riot during its premier. The only thing that sounded quite that loud before was Richard Wagner, but even that was still quite melodic and harmonic.
    • Franz Liszt, mostly known for his piano showpieces, wrote pieces with jarring dissonances as well (for example the Totentanz, the nearly atonal third movement of his Faust-Sinfonie, or the Mephisto Waltzes). In the last years of his life, Liszt even composed legitimately atonal music (Bagatelle sans tonalité). Among critics, he is recognized as the Ur-Example of Modern Classical, while Stravinsky (along with Arnold Schoenberg) is the undisputed Trope Codifier.
  • Jim Morrison, the frontman for The Doors, is credited with inventing the modern rock-star image.
  • Venom's Black Metal album is considered the Ur-Example of Black Metal. They never intended to create a sub-genre of metal, they just thought it was a cool name for an album. They are also an early example of Thrash Metal (some consider them the first).
  • The first modern Music Video is often (though not universally) considered to be this thing for Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" from Bringing It All Back Home, produced in 1965, which was filmed in the documentary Don't Look Back. That depends on how one defines "modern," as the music videos of The Beatles (among others) predate this. So-called "illustrated songs" - early precursors of the music video - date back to the beginning of the 20th century, and "musical shorts" were hugely popular by 1926, before the official end of the "silent" era of film.
  • Ougenweide was the first band to play Medieval Rock
  • The Velvet Underground has often been considered the very first Alternative Rock artist to have existed, though one could argue that Scott Walker, who began his solo career at around the same time as the Velvet Underground began their career, was another early "alternative" artist. Not to mention The Fugs, who started recording in 1965 with The Fugs First Album and The Fugs Second Album and were the first underground rock band thanks to their explicit lyrics about sex, drugs and politics, which even caused them to be shadowed by the F.B.I. for many years. And Frank Zappa, whose Freak Out (1966) was the most insane and crazy record ever put out at that time.
    • Before any of those, the song "Je N'attends Plus Personne" by French pop singer FrançoiseHardy featured a blown-out fuzz guitar line and lyrics that dealt with relationships in much darker way than her earlier bubblegum songs. Combined with a Wall of Sound production, it is a precursor to 80s and 90s alternative rock like Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine.
  • The 1974 debut album Here Come the Warm Jets by legendary producer Brian Eno was the first to plug all of its guitars through multiple filters and treatments to create a very complex wall of noise, making it an early example of Shoegaze.
  • The early 1960s hit "Runaway" by Del Shannon was the first popular song to use what was essentially a proto-synthesizer as an instrument. The first instance of an actual synthesizer used in popular music was 1967's Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. by The Monkees, specifically the tracks "Daily Nightly" and "Star Collector".
    • Technically, the Hammond B3 and C3 organs were additive synthesizers (this is why organ is one of the easiest sounds to synthesize), and had already appeared on many recordings by the early 1960s.
      • This is one of those discussions that can get rather involved... An electronic synthesiser generates its tones with entirely electronic oscillators. The Hammond organs are electromechanical, the tones being generated by magnetic tone wheels being rotated next to pickup coils. Both can be considered "tonal synthesisers", though the name tended to be applied more to electronic synthesisers after Dr. Moog's equipment became established in the public mind, the Hammonds and other similar keyboards retaining the name "organ" because that is how they were marketed and most commonly used. As for Ur-Examples, well... prior to Moog's synthesiser (itself a customisable collection of modules that you had to know how to connect together) a great many people had combined musicality and electronics expertise to cook up their own electronic synthesisers. The first electronic synthesiser to be patented and manufactured was Leon Theremin's contactless wonder (the oscillator was controlled by capacitative proximity sensing), invented in 1919. The first Hammond organ appeared in 1934, though the tone wheel concept was first patented in 1897. Like I said, it can get involved.
    • Toni Fisher's "The Big Hurt" used an electronic phaser as early as 1959 - over a decade before progressive rock made it popular.
  • 60s Garage Rock was sometimes known as Punk Rock. The name didn't catch on, but those 60s garage rock bands went on to inspire what is now known as punk rock. A prime example of this is The Sonics' song "Psycho" as recorded by Swamp Rats in 1966. The guitar is distorted and mixed upfront, the vocals are yelled until the vocalist is hoarse, the song ends with screeching feedback, and the song maintains an uptempo feel that is reminiscent of 50s rock and roll.
  • The earliest punk-rock song of any type could be said to be "Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots" by The Cheers in 1955. Although it was quickly and sadly Covered Up by Vaughn Monroe in a very vanilla, Fifties-pop style, the song in its original form not only was about a literal punk, but was played at what was a blazing tempo for 1955 (even with some punk-style drumming) and was probably the first pop song in which the lyrics were shouted more than they were sung and the vocalists sounded tough and angry.
  • Perhaps the Ur-Example of Speed Metal is Queen's 1974 song "Stone Cold Crazy", which has all the trademarks, just in rather primitive form; the song is also considered a precursor to Thrash Metal for the same reasons, to the extent where Metallica recorded a Cover Version. An even earlier candidate is "7 Screaming Diz-Busters", which was performed by Blue Öyster Cult on their 1973 Tyranny & Mutation album. Although "7 Screaming Diz-Busters" clearly owes more of a debt to psychedelic and folk-rock, toward the end of the song there is an insanely fast guitar riff that sounds a lot like what Metallica would be doing a decade later.
  • Black Sabbath or Judas Priest usually get credit for having the first thrash metal songs with "Symptom of the Universe" and "Dissident Aggressor," respectively. Before either of those songs was the 1974 surprise hit "Parasite" by Kiss (yes, that Kiss). It was later covered by Anthrax.
    • Judas Priest is also often cited as the Ur-Example for both Speed Metal and The New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Rainbow sometimes also gets some credit.
  • The Ur-Example of Heavy Metal is much debated, but honors go to (among others): Link Wray's "Rumble," The Kinks' "You Really Got Me," The Gun's "Race With the Devil", The Beatles' "Helter Skelter," Blue Cheer's cover of "Summertime Blues," Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida and Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild."
  • The Ur-Example of Hair Metal? Alice Cooper and Aerosmith are good candidates, since they more or less invented or at least trademarked many of the conventions (showmanship being as important as the music itself, Silly Love Songs done in a heavy style, etc.), and also because they were still going strong when the hair genre actually went mainstream in The '80s, releasing new songs right alongside the bands they had inspired. Several Kiss songs from the mid-to-late 1970s anticipate the "hair-band" style, "Flaming Youth" and "See You in Your Dreams" in particular. But the best candidate is probably Van Halen, since they started late enough in The '70s (1978) to still be current when the hair scene officially kicked off in 1983 with Quiet Riot and Mötley Crüe. Bands that attained fame in the hair subgenre prior to 1983 include the Scorpions (who were already playing Eighties-style metal in the mid-'70s), Def Leppard, and Judas Priest (during their 1980-1981 "pop" phase).
  • Very first example of Heavy Mithril? Was it Rainbow? Black Sabbath? Led Zeppelin? The Doors? Perhaps the hippie folk-rockers of The '60s? No, no, no, no, and no. Before all of those guys came American pop songwriter and musician Jimmie Rodgers (not the country-music singer), who recorded two songs with medieval/mystical themes - "Make Me a Miracle" and "The Wizard" - in 1958.
  • Franz Liszt's Faust Symphony opens with a theme consisting of all the 12 notes of the chromatic scale, each appearing only once. The theme returns at various points during the symphony. The rest of the work is tonal and there are no permutations, but it's still the progenitor of the twelve-tone technique. He also wrote the progenitor of atonal music in general, the Bagatelle sans tonalité.
  • Rock Opera is a hard concept to define, but two of the candidates for the Ur-Example seem to be The Story of Simon Simopath by the British psychedelic band Nirvana (not to be confused with the far more popular American grunge band of the same name) and S.F. Sorrow by The Pretty Things, depending on the line between Rock Opera and Concept Album. Both of these are predated by A Quick One by The Who which was a Rock Opera in all but length.
    • There was also A Teenage Opera by Mark Wirtz, recorded in 1966 but unreleased until 1990, except for two singles, Grocer Jack and Sam, released that year.
  • The oldest Concept Album is Dust Bowl Ballads (1941) by Woody Guthrie, which is a series of songs about the troubles of farmers during The Great Depression. In the Wee Small Hours (1955) by Frank Sinatra is another strong candidate as all the songs on that record are about loneliness and feeling sad about a breakup. Freak Out (1966) by Frank Zappa dealt with themes such as alienation and criticism of American politics and society. But it's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) by The Beatles that really popularized the Concept Album.
  • Killing Joke may be the first example of Industrial Metal and are cited as an influence by Ministry, God Flesh, Nine Inch Nails, and Marilyn Manson.
    • The obscure German band Warning is another possible example, as their first album came out in 1982.
  • The Ur-Example of Grindcore is usually considered to be either Hardcore Punk band Siege's Drop Dead EP or Death Metal band Repulsion's Horrified album.
    • There is also the cover of The Rolling Stones' I Can't Get No Satisfaction by The Residents, which fits the mold of a Grindcore song and was released in 1978.
  • Who made the first Extreme Metal song? Some will argue Venom or maybe Motörhead, but there is an example of an industrial/black metal style song from 1969. Indeed, this also acts as an Ur-Example of heavy metal music in general.
  • Kraftwerk just might be the Ur-Example of new wave/synthpop, as well as the Trope Maker for electronic music in general.
    • However, a year before Kraftwerk formed, the Psychedelic band White Noise, which featured members of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop released the first true electronic album, An Electric Storm.
    • The very first actual synthpop hit was "Popcorn" by Hot Butter in 1972, which is a cover of a Gershon Kingsley composition, released three years prior.
    • Although never a band, the lads and lasses at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop were messing about with all sorts of unbuilt electronic newness almost ten years before Kraftwerk or White Noise picked the ball up to play with. Including doing very interesting things with splicing, sampling and remixing, all while finding melodic uses for the weirdest gizmos. Case in point, the Doctor Who theme, entirely made from pitch-shifted tape loops of rubber band noises and test tones.
  • "Sampling" is most commonly associated with 1990s rap and hip-hop, but it traces its lineage back to 1956, when Bill Buchanan and Dickie Goodman recorded "The Flying Saucer," which was less an original work than a clever splicing of numerous pop songs from the era - "Long Tall Sally", "Heartbreak Hotel", "Tutti Frutti" and "Blue Suede Shoes" among them - with a humorous "radio announcement" of an invasion by aliens delivered by Buchanan and Goodman. (Goodman had another radio hit 19 years later with "Mr. Jaws", a similar comedic sampling parodying the first Jaws movie.)
  • Nu Metal is generally agreed to have began with KoRn's Self-Titled Album in 1994, which spawned a wave of imitators that formed it into its own genre. However, even before KoRn, acts like Faith No More and Rage Against the Machine were hugely influential to the genre and some site them as the Ur-Example.
    • The term nu metal originates from an interview with Coal Chamber.
  • Neil Young's Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere is the Ur-Example of Grunge.
  • King Crimson, in addition to being Trope Codifier for Progressive Rock, is often cited as the Ur-Example for Progressive Metal (if Rush isn't cited instead). In addition, "Starless" could be considered the Ur-Example for Post-Rock.
  • Folktronica is usually used to mean a cross between folk and electronic music. ''Badly Drawn Boy'' (the band was formed in 1995, but their first album was released in 1997) is often considered the first band to incorporate elements of the genre, but Get a Life by Ian Anderson could be considered an Ur-Example of the genre and proves that cross-overs between folk and electronica already existed.
  • "Heroin" by The Velvet Underground is considered to be an Ur-Example of Post-Rock.
  • Lone Rager's single "Metal Rap," the only thing they've ever recorded, was the first known instance of Rap Metal, dating back all the way to 1984, 3 years before Anthrax's "I'm The Man."
  • The Beatles have another example here with "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", in which they effectively played Doom Metal at least a few months before Black Sabbath did. "Helter Skelter", as mentioned above, is a possible Ur-Example for metal in general (and has arguably had a pretty big influence on speed and thrash metal in particular). The Beatles are pretty much The Zeroth Law of Trope Examples for rock music.
  • Similarly, "I Am The Walrus" could be seen as the Ur Example for Hip-Hop, having a very similar beat and cadence to the genre.
  • Another Beatles example; their multitracked psychedelic masterpiece, "Tomorrow Never Knows", which is basically Proto-TRANCE music!
  • Jean-Michel Jarre's 1976 breakthrough album Oxygčne was the ur-example of trance.
  • Arguably the first ever examples of Electro Swing come from the late Nineties, in the form of "Get a Move On!" by Mr. Scruff and "Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop)" by Scatman John. The former's mix of Trip Hop with swing instrumentation laid the groundwork for electro swing, while the latter's novel fusion of scat-based jazz and Eurodance earned him massive popularity.
  • Pink Floyd:
    • "Pow R Toc H" begins with Syd Barrett performing a form of beatboxing.
    • "Welcome to the Machine" by was this for industrial songs.
    • "Echoes" could be considered an Ur Example of Post-Rock. Released 17 years before the first true post-rock album, Spirit of Eden, "Echoes" features a few traits characteristic of the genre: it's mainly instrumental, huge in length (over 23 minutes), large sections of the song are entirely devoted to texture, devoid of melody or rhythm, and it features a long, instrumental Boléro Effect crescendo.
  • Deep Purple's 1969 album Concerto for Group and Orchestra paired one of the earliest Heavy Metal bands with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the first time anyone had ever combined hard rock music with classical instrumentation. This presaged several genres, such as Symphonic Metal.
  • The Move was the earliest example of a British Invasion band mixing rock and classical. Their first hit, "Night of Fear," released in 1966, modeled its riff on 1812 Overture by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It's only fitting that the Move later morphed into Electric Light Orchestra, a band that picked up where the Move left off.
  • Curtis Mayfield was the first black musician to evoke N-Word Privileges in a song back in 1970 on the song "If There's a Hell Below, We're All Gonna Go", which was later sampled by Kanye West.
  • Hip-Hop:
    • Comedian Pigmeat Markham's 1968 novelty single "Here Comes the Judge", based on a comedy routine of his parodying the formality of courtroom etiquite, features a direct precursor to rapping via its ostentatious lyrics and rhythmic delivery, to the extent where Wikipedia classifies it as "proto-rap."
    • Soul singer Millie Jackson became famous for biting, sexually explicit songs with spoken-word interludes, which was called "rapping" in the 1970s. Her music anticipated the emergence of raunchy female rappers like Lil' Kim, Megan Thee Stallion, and Cardi B decades later.
    • Poetry ensemble The Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron were the earliest examples of Political Rap in 1970, when they released their first recordings. The Last Poets were also the forerunners of hip-hop collectives like the Wu-Tang Clan and OFWGKTA.
    • The 1973 album Hustlers Convention by Last Poets member Lightnin' Rod brings together almost every element of Hip-Hop: the use of African-American Vernacular English, funk instrumentals, and stories about hustlers, the latter making it an ur-Example of Gangsta Rap well before the subgenre emerged in the early '90s.
  • Though the genre would gain attention in the 2010s, the first example of "Meme Rap" was Viper, who started releasing extremely surreal and strange mixtapes in the early 2000s. He remained obscure until his 2008 album You'll Cowards Don't Even Smoke Crack, which became a popular meme and came before many similar songs by Lil B and others.
  • The little known genre of freakbeat— an extremely frenetic and raw style of British garage rock— is an ur-example of just about every style of raucous music that would follow in rock and roll, ranging from heavy metal to punk to even grunge, with songs that wouldn't sound out of place on the Punk Rock or grunge scenes in terms of distortion and energy— and yet most of the songs are from 1963 through 1967.
  • Screamin' Jay Hawkins was Shock Rock back when rock 'n' roll was in its infancy. He used skulls and coffins in his stage act in the 1950s, a decade before acts like Arthur Brown and Alice Cooper used similar macabre imagery onstage.
  • In 1971, Sly and the Family Stone released There's a Riot Goin' On, an album which used cutting-edge electronics like drum machines and clavinets. The production of the album would be considered DIY by modern standards, and the lyrics deal with socially conscious and introspective topics like depression, interracial relationships, and the challenges of living in the inner city. Its influence on artists like Frank Ocean and Kanye West makes it a direct precursor to Alternative R&B.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • Josie Wahlford is the first pro wrestler recognized as a "World Champion" on record. The exploits of George Hackenschmidt are far better documented, due to Wahlford being better known as a weight lifter, and were the model for Lou Thesz and the National Wrestling Alliance, making Hackenshmidt the Trope Maker and Thesz the Trope Codifier. The first woman to get anything resembling official recognition as a "World Champion" was Cora Livingston, whose reign began five years after Hackenshmidt, establing her as the trope maker for women.
  • Arena Coliseo was the first arena built exclusively for lucha libre, its construction funded by EMLL, although it has long since been used for boxing events as well. Arena Mexico, which EMLL built later when Lutteroth won the lottery.
  • It would not be a stretch to say that modern mainstream American media can trace the lineage of their styles to George Wagner, a.k.a. Gorgeous George who had the very first wrestling gimmick as a flamboyant, effeminate, yet very dangerous wrestler. He not only began the trend of outlandish wrestling gimmicks and personas that became the norm to pro wrestling, he even inspired legends like Muhammad Ali and James Brown to use flamboyance in their acts, and they in turn created massive legacies of their own in pop culture. That said, Gorgeous George was not the first ambiguously gay professional wrestler. Older examples, George himself mentioned Patrick Lansdowne, simply were too early for television.
  • The first destruction of the Spanish Announcers' Table took place at the 1995 edition of Survivor Series, when Diesel threw Bret Hart through it.


    Visual Novels 
  • Graduation introduced the now common school setting and rival female classmates that is the Cliché Storm of the visual novel genre.
  • Night Life was the first eroge, released in 1982 for the venerable PC-8801 by Koei. It was not much of a success, lacking a cohesive plot and attractive visuals, but featured complex objectives to bed women and "win" the game.
  • Princess Maker was the first modern presentation of a galge with romantic elements aimed directly towards the player (released in 1991). It combined what were then experimental PC-9800 game concepts into a single title: anime inspired artwork, intricate character menus, heroine to player dialog, and multiple endings.
  • Angélique was the first Otome Game.
  • Boy x Boy ~Shiritsu Kouryou Gakuin Seishinryou~ was the first commercial BL Game, although renai games featuring a Gay Option and doujin BL games do predate it.

  • "List of early webcomics" on The Other Wiki lists some comics published online before the World Wide Web and spread of Internet:
    • Witches in Stiches takes the claim of "first online comic", because it appeared on CompuServe in 1985. It was not an internet comic, because CompuServe was not part of the internet back then. This comic has since disappeared into obscurity.
    • T.H.E. Fox (later Thaddeus) is the first Furry Webcomic (techinally Furry Online Comic), having debut in 1986 on CompuServe, and also the first online comic to receive some media attention.
    • Where The Buffalo Roam calls itself "The Internet's First Comic Strip". It launched in 1991 in its Usenet group alt.comics.buffalo-roam, had regular updates, and later moved to the web (though Doctor Fun got there first).
  • Doctor Fun is the first webcomic on the World Wide Web. It launched in 1993, after web browsers learned how to display images.
  • Neglected Mario Characters is the first Sprite Comic. It launched with "The EVIL-Luigi Story", Part 1, from September 6, 1998.

    Web Original 
  • There is a minor Internet phenomenon known as "Black MIDI" where MIDI users attempt to make the most chaotic piano arrangements of various songs. Early, non-MIDI-related examples can be found in Quebecois pianist/composer Marc-Andre Hamelin's player piano rearrangements of C.P.E. Bach's "Solfeggietto" and the traditional "Pop Goes The Weasel", entitled Solfeggietto a cinque and Pop Music?, respectively.
  • Long before livestreaming or live2d, Chiyu 12-Sai was a blogger who blogged in character as an original anime character virtual net idol starting in 2001. She could be seen as a prototypical example of a Virtual Youtuber, and in fact she eventually debuted as one in 2018!
  • Some fans of Retsupurae think that George Wood is the earliest example of a let's player, as he was the first to fully narrate and comment over video game footage. His first videos are in fact from the 1990's. It is very hard to define however how much of a "let's player" he is. He did this type of narration after all mainly to review video games, even though quite a few are better defined as "walkthroughs" and in some others it is next to impossible to define what the man attempts to do.
  • was an early example of internet shock-media, where it contains really gross and shocking news stories (often accompanied by graphic imagery), but unlike other shock sites such as Goatse and Tubgirl, there was real information beyond the graphic imagery.
  • Commercials I Hate, which debuted in 1997, is at least one of the earliest examples of Caustic Critic web media. Nathan Alexander once ran a website and a forum (originally a guestbook) that was for highlighting the worst in the advertising world.
  • In regards to ASMR, the first intentional video comes from this very video here!
  • As pointed out by Cr1TiKaL, the 1998 Japanese reality show ''Susunu! Shounen Denpa'' may be the first video game livestream in existence as the star was playing a video game while being broadcasted on live feed.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Many academic disciplines have one work that's considered to clearly be the first "proper" example of its type.
    • The Cairo Annals Stone from the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt contains the oldest surviving transcript of battlefield tactics and strategy. They are collectively considered to be an almanac and instructional material for the ruling class, as it contains a wealth of information ranging from construction to census and the aforementioned warfare.
    • The Histories by Herodotus; which recounts the Persian Wars in a way most people today would still recognize as a "history textbook" (and is one of the original sources.)
      • The Peloponnesian Wars, by Thucydides, is generally considered the first "proper" history, since it's the first history of any scale to use logic and reasoning rather than anecdotes. He even states that these words aren't what people said, but what they ought to have said (for the following events to occur).
      • Followed by Xenophon's Anabasis, in which Xenophon wrote about history that he himself actually experienced, making him the Ur war correspondent.
      • Edward Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, published in 1776, is the first modern historical work, and largely codified the principles of historical research - most notably, the reliance on and preference for primary sources, combined with the rigor of Thucydides' logical methodology.
    • Plutarch's Parallel Lives, written in the late 1st century, is the first set of biographies, and made a point of focusing less on grand historical events and more on small happenings that give insight into the individual's character.
      • Note that all of the above dates only hold true in the West; in China, the Shiji (Records of the Grand Historian) by Sima Qian was completed in 91 B.C.; 102 out of 120 volumes were biographies of notables in China. (The other 18 were timelines, histories and treatises). That said, the focus of Chinese history and historiography was rather different from those of many Western writers, particularly Thucydides, Xenophon, and Plutarch (who were strongly influenced by Socratic philosophy).
      • Agesilaus by Xenophon is likely the first text to solely cover the events of a single historical figure's life. However, this was a very short work of little historical importance. As such, people tend to focus on the more thorough and influential works of Plutarch.
    • The Muqaddimah (Introduction) of Ibn Khaldun, published in 1377, was the first attempt to treat politics, economics, and history in a scientific manner, thus more or less inventing the social sciences (it is often said to be the first book on sociology). This approach informed Niccolň Machiavelli's Prince and Discourses on Livy a hundred years later, as well as the aforementioned Decline and Fall and Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations in 1776.
      • Aristotle gave some thoughts to economics in his Politics, too, but it is much less systematic than the Muqaddimah, and does not quite take the same kind of skeptical approach that characterizes both the Muqaddimah and modern social science.
    • Socrates was the first philosopher in our modern sense of the term. Greece had "philosophers" before him, but they were essentially studying science, or debate. Socrates was the first to turn philosophy into a study of morality, logic, and the like. Then Plato wrote Socrates' thought down, with his own additions, and the rest is history.
    • Sřren Kierkegaard is considered to be the first existentialist philosopher, predating the likes of Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre by decades.
    • Gottlob Frege is the Ur-Example of an analytic philosopher, with Bertrand Russell as the Trope Maker.
    • The first standardized tests are theorized to have originated in China around the 6th century. Before this, tests of skill and strength, such as archery contests were used (much like in medieval Europe) to apply for positions of power in a government. The Imperial Examinations tested students on the memorization of classic Confucian texts, and selected government bureaucrats by merit, not by birth.
  • In Germany, Archaeopteryx is known as the Urvogel (first bird), though Archeopteryx's status as the Ur Bird has since fallen under dispute.
  • The primitive Argentinian theropod Herrarasaurus from the Late Triassic Period could be considered one of the Ur-Example of dinosauria.
  • In taxonomy, the Ur-Example of a newly-classified species is called a "type specimen". It retains this special status permanently, even if other specimens are subsequently collected which are of better quality; many long-extinct species have fragmentary pieces for their type specimens, even though complete fossils have since been found.
  • The city of Ur comes quite close to being the Ur-Example of civilization itself. This is a coincidence, however; the prefix "Ur-" comes from German, and has nothing to do with the Sumerian city.
  • Jack the Ripper is commonly considered the Ur-Example of the modern serial killer; before that it was all people who were just bloodthirsty and had excuses for getting away with it like being at war, or being a person in a position of power who liked to watch people die.
    • It may be simply that there weren't newspapers around to report them. Some of the earlier examples became werewolf legends.
      • More likely newspapers and quicker forms of communication like the telegraph, without which news would possibly take days to circulate. The Times had been around for a century by the time Jack the Ripper came along.
    • The first known serial killer total was Liu Pengli, a Han Dynasty prince who led his servants in killing over 100 people between 144-116 BC.
  • Psychopathia Sexualis is considered to be the first study of sex. The first study of sex to not call other people perverts, though, is probably Havelock Ellis' Studies in the Psychology of Sex. But that's irrelevant; the first American study of sex was the infamous Kinsey Report.
  • The first recorded medical circumcision was Lewis Sayre using it to cure a paraplegic.
  • The Ur-Example of macroeconomics is Hume's Of the Balance Trade, which argued that international trade ... balances. This undermined the Gotta Catch Them All ideas of the mercantilists. The Trope Maker is Adam Smith and Trope Codifier probably Walras.
  • The Ur-Example of a modern computer would be the Analytical Engine, designed by the engineer Charles Babbage in the 1800's. While it wasn't ever actually builtnote , the design was later shown to be Turing-complete - that is, it could, in theory, compute any function a modern computer could (although it would do so so slowly that it would make early electronic computers like ENIAC look like today's most up-to-date supercomputer by comparison).
  • The Ur-Example of the shopping mall could be anything, depending on whom you ask — some argue that the overall concept dates back to markets in ancient Rome, and many towns had "shopping arcades" in the 19th century, which consisted of enclosed walkways lined with stores. The one that usually gets the credit as "America's oldest enclosed shopping mall" is the Westminster Arcade in Providence, Rhode Island, which opened in 1828 and is still operational as a mall today (albeit one that's far more modest than the huge Providence Place Mall a half-mile away). Much of its structure is taken up by trendy lofts, but there's still several stores and restaurants on the first floor.
    • Another early example is Lake View Store in Morgan Park, Minnesota, which had the overall idea of "stores on an enclosed walkway" in 1915. But the first mall that really resembled a modern one, in terms of having an enclosed walkway ending in an anchor store, was Valley Fair in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1955. Many early suburban shopping centers also claim to be the "first mall" (such as Northland Center in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, or Bellevue Square in Bellevue, Washington), but they were open-air and did not become enclosed until later. The first suburban mega-mall that was enclosed from the get-go was Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota in 1956.
    • The first food court opened at Plymouth Meeting Mall in Pennsylvania in 1971, but it was a small, cramped thing with few restaurants and never took off. The same developer tried again with one at Paramus Park in New Jersey, and it's still there. (Plymouth Meeting has since gotten a more successful food court.)
    • First outlet mall: VF Outlets in Reading, Pennsylvania, 1974. Still there.
    • The first dead mall? Fans of The Blues Brothers and mall geeks may go for Dixie Square Mall in the Chicago suburb of Harvey, which closed in 1978, had fake storefronts set up for the "cop car through the mall" scene in that film, and remained abandoned until it was finally demolished in 2013. But Bayside Mall in Boston beats it by two years — it closed in 1976 and was gutted in 1983 for an exposition center.
    • The first mall to be portrayed in motion pictures? Many would say the Sherman Oaks Galleria in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), but there are plenty of prior examples (such as the aforementioned Dixie Square above, although that one is contingent on whether or not a real, abandoned mall with fake storefronts counts). Dawn of the Dead had a mall as its primary setting as early as 1978.
  • The first multiplex theaters (one in Ontario, one in Los Angeles) began in the 1940s when the theater owner opened a second theater in an adjacent storefront and decided to show different movies on it. The first one that was purpose-built as a multiplex was AMC's Parkway Twin at Ward Parkway Center in Kansas City; it resulted from a sort of Throw It In because the structure could not support one large screen, so two smaller ones were made instead, and the owner quickly realized he could make better profits by showing different movies at the same time.
  • Egyptian wrestling (dating back to 2300 B.C.) is the oldest recorded martial art. However, it should be noted that there is no single grandfather of martial arts; while some historians claim that Egyptian wrestling is the root of Eastern martial arts, that wrestling was developed by the Egyptians, later adopted by the Greeks (as pankration) and eventually spread to Asia by Alexander the Great, where it was finally developed into Asian martial arts, this theory does not take into account the historical fact of simultaneous contrivance of fighting systems in many cultures which predated the Indo-Aryan migrations. While it would be nice and simple to draw a straight line from Egypt to Greece to India to China and beyond, a more accurate assessment would be all the aforementioned cultures created their own indigenous martial arts, then later, when cultural exchanges took place between them, each of their martial arts influenced the continued development of each others' martial arts.
  • The Ur-Example of a firearm, referred to as a "Hand Cannon", was developed in 1260 in China, and was used to fire a firework. Later, the design was refined to include a primitive stock, safer loading mechanisms and systems, and ultimately the development of the matchlock musket, the Ur-Example of a modern firearm.
    • The blunderbuss is the Ur-Example of a shotgun.
    • The Whitworth rifle is the Ur-Example of a sniper rifle.
    • The Gatling Gun is the Ur-Example of a machine gun.note 
    • The Fedorov Avtomat, designed for Russians with Rifles, is the Ur-Example of an assault rifle.
  • The Chevrolet Suburban, which debuted in 1936, was the Ur-Sport Utility Vehicle.
  • The AMC Eagle was the ur-example of a crossover SUV, nearly two decades before the term was coined.
  • The 1949 DKW Schnellaster was the first mass-produced minivan, beating Volkswagen's Type 2 "Microbus" to the punch by a year. The Stout Scarab, first manufactured in 1935, is considered by some to be a prototypical minivan, although only 11 units were produced.
  • There may be earlier examples, but the Complaint Tablet to Ea-nasir, an angry message calling out a copper merchant for ripping a customer off, is the oldest-known surviving Strongly Worded Letter.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): First Example, Proto Example



One of the Trope Namers and Ur-Examples. A lone space hunter game to penetrate the Crash's stronghold and destroy the mechanical life-form that controlled its defenses. The space hunter game chosen for this mission was Metroid. Considered the greatest of all early shooter-adventures, Metroid successfully completed numerous missions that others had thought impossible. Despite its accomplishments, much of its hero's identity, Samus Aran, remained a mystery... unless the player beat the game in under three hours, upon which they discovered that Samus Is a Girl.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / Metroidvania

Media sources: