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"It's like Star Trek: The Next Generation — in many ways, it's superior, but will never be as recognized as the original."
Wayne, Wayne's World

There's a general trend that, in any serial work of a non-random medium, the further back in the series you go, the more familiar it is amongst the general populace. The culmination of this is that the very first installment (and, going even further, the first couple scenes, even) will be the one that is the most familiar by a wide margin.

Obviously, there is some logic to this. Most people will start at the very beginning of a serial work if they can, but not nearly as many people will continue the series. Whether it be due to a lack of time, a perceived lack of quality within the work, or just finding the series not to their general tastes, they'll only take in the first installment.

This seems to happen most often with books. This can probably be attributed to the fact that there isn't really any type of casual market for serious works and most readers of them will have access to the first parts of the serial and generally start from there. However, sometimes the first installment won't be as widely distributed as later installments because the publisher didn't expect it to be such a big hit, so the second book is often the best-known.

This also happens often with music — where a sizable portion of the Fandom considers a band's earliest releases to be the best. As such, they are often, well, less than impressed with New Sound Albums. The Beatles and Pink Floyd are two of the few notable exceptions.

Video Games, while they don't generally fall in this trope on a per installment basis, still tend to manifest this within single installments themselves. The first sections of the game will be more well-known than any other part, with most of the coverage of the game drawing from it, since (as designers know quite well) many players do not play all or even most of the way through games.

This can often get compounded when Compressed Adaptations only draw material from the first entry as well.

A form of Nostalgia Filter and Small Reference Pools. See also Contested Sequel. Contrast Adaptation Displacement, Sequel Displacement, Early Installment Weirdness. Sometimes caused by Sequelitis.

Note: Please don't list aversions. Instead put aversions etc. into either Surprisingly Improved Sequel, Sequel Displacement, or Even Better Sequel articles.

Examples of First Installment Wins include:

Anime and Manga

  • Yu-Gi-Oh! was a multimillion-dollar smash hit when imported overseas. While the card game is still popular enough to warrant dubbing the series, most fans of the original won't accept anything from GX and onwards (for reasons such as ruining their nostalgia to blame, for some). Made worse for fans of the other series, who can recognise the new series for being improvements in some ways, and see the game as more balanced and advanced than it was at the time, as they get a lot of flak from the original Duel Monsters fandom who have Little Kuriboh of the Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series fame as their primary exposure to the more recent three installments of the series.
  • Gundam: The original series has the most spin-offs and merchandise, including video games, models, toys, manga, etc. Outside of Japan, however...
    • The most well-known installments in the series, G Gundam, Gundam Seed and Gundam Wing, were made close to twenty years after the original; and fans of the Universal Century timeline tend to dislike the original series, preferring Zeta Gundam by a long shot.
    • However, this is strangely subverted in the case of the Super Robot Wars series. Here, RX-78-2, normally the sole spotlight winner among the Gundams, is recently frequently ruled out of the appearance, replaced by the more powerful Gundam of Amuro's, Nu Gundam.
  • Mazinger Z has got a lot of sequels (Great Mazinger, UFO Robo Grendizer...), alternate series (God Mazinger, Shin Mazinger Zero...) and reimaginations (Mazinkaiser, Shin Mazinger...). Neither of them has got the success, the impact or the popularity enjoyed the original series. Of course, Mazinger Z fans tend to think the original series was better, and the sequels and remakes did not live up to its legacy.
  • The original Fist of the North Star manga can be divided into two eras: everything up to Kenshiro's final battle with Raoh (or what was adapted into the entirety of the first TV series) and everything afterward (the second TV series). The majority of the later anime and manga spin-offs, as well as the numerous video games based on the franchise, tend to be based on or set around the former era, with even side characters like Juza the Cloud or Amiba often getting more exposure than the major players from the latter era like Falco and Kaioh.
    • The 1984 TV anime by Toei Animation is also by far the most well-known adaptation of the manga, to the point where fans use it as the basis for what an adaptation of Fist of the North Star should be like. It helps that the anime constantly receives high amounts of praise for its use of music and voice acting to convey the right kinds of emotions from certain scenes, leading many to call it "the adaptation with a heart".
  • Reviews of Urotsukidouji — generally written from a horrifically disgusted stance — invariably mention Miss Togami attacking Akemi with her Naughty Tentacles, because it's the first (of many) tentacle rape scene(s). Only a small fraction of reviewers actually bother trying to stomach the rest of it, which, believe it or not, actually gets worse.
  • It's no wonder that, of the many installments of the Pretty Cure franchise, Futari wa Pretty Cure gets 95% of the shoutouts, the cosplayers and its own fanart meme (cue readers unfamiliar with the series going "ahh, so that's why my favourite male characters in every series are always drawn in those black and white dresses!"). Gintama tried to include a Splash Star reference in its parody, but Did Not Do the Research and thought that it was a continuation of the first installment, so this doesn't really count.
  • Saint Seiya doesn't get as many Shout-Outs as other similar series, but when it does, it's inevitably to the Gold Saints or something from the Sanctuary arc in general. The Poseidon and Hades arcs are never brought up. Probably Justified for the Hades arc, in that it took OVER A DECADE for it to get animated.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura takes this Up to Eleven; the most iconic outfit for Sakura is a pink and white one she wears on the cover of the first volume (manga) and the first opening (anime) (see it here), but never actually appears in the story proper, despite one gimmick of the series being not-repeating outfits.
  • Noir, the first installment of Bee Train's Girls with Guns trilogy, remains by far the most famous and popular one, despite Madlax and El Cazador's virtues.
  • Whenever Sailor Moon is brought up in popular culture, the shout-outs will usually have only the first five Senshi, Queen Beryl as the main villain, and Sailor Moon will be in her iconic red, white and blue costume. If you are lucky, Sailor Pluto and/or Chibiusa might appear. Subverted in the fanbase, which usually seems to treat either the third season, S, or the last season, Stars, as the entire series.
  • Everyone knows about the first movie of the Pokémon anime. People also tend to know about the next two. But people outside the fandom are typically oblivious to the fact that there are over fourteen films and counting. The first season of the anime is also the most recognized outside of the fanbase.
  • Most people will be aware of Digimon Adventure, maybe Digimon Adventure 02 if you're (really) lucky, but probably won't even know there were any further anime series beyond 02, let alone that there are now six.
  • Everyone knows that Haruhi is God; fewer people realise that this explanation of her powers has held little canonical currency since Melancholy, the first book in the series (and even then, it was implied that Koizumi wasn't being entirely serious). A little more justified than other examples in that most of the later books haven't been made into an anime yet, which was even more true prior to the release of season 2 and the Disappearance movie.
  • Outlaw Star sure has a huge fanbase, but the majority of them never watched the spin-off show Angel Links. Now, this trope is inverted when you trace back to the root of this franchise — a manga series that a lot didn't read, either.
  • Naruto:
    • Out of all the movies for Naruto, the most well-known and the most liked is Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow, the first one and usually the only one that people who write Fanfics for Naruto adapt. As for Shippuden, ironically enough, the first movie during the second half of the series is arguably second in popularity. However, from a financial standpoint, Boruto: Naruto the Movie, the eighth Shippuden film and the last Naruto movie overall, is the most popular out of ALL the movies since it made the most money (Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow made the third-most).
    • This trope can also apply to the Naruto series as a whole. Naruto receives more praise than Naruto Shippuden, which suffers from a heavily Broken Base — though pretty much everyone agrees that the last eighty or so episodes of Filler in the original series means it's not by that large of a margin. Boruto also has a hard time keeping up with the reputation of Naruto thanks to its Lighter and Softer first several dozen episodes and its Base Breaker protagonist.

Comic Books

  • The stand-alone story that originated Transformers Shattered Glass is likely the only thing about the story that most casual fans are going to be aware of. While there were more stories set in the Mirrorverse, they all featured a large amount of Continuity Lock Out and Intercontinuity Crossovers while being delivered through obscure platforms, limiting how much people could consume or even be aware of them, leaving the first issue as the most popular.


  • A lot of people try to forget that there are two sequels and a TV spinoff to The Neverending Story.
  • The first Highlander movie is much more well-known than its sequels, notably the notorious second one. A common saying among the fandom is "There should have been only one".
  • The Crow has three sequels, but most people have usually only seen the first one.
  • The Free Willy films. Yes, there was more than one, proving the point of this trope.
  • Probably one of the reasons most movies based on superhero comics spend so much time on the origin story: it's the one part of the myth almost everyone in the audience is familiar with.
  • The Blair Witch Project also had one.
  • The first Back to the Future film is well-remembered in the popular imagination for many iconic elements, such as the DeLorean time machine, the Spinning License Plate, Marty's performance of "Johnny B. Goode", the clock-tower climax and the ending line "where we're going, we don't need roads". What are the two sequels remembered for? Hoverboards and cowboys, but mostly hoverboards.
  • Jaws had sequels. The second is mostly remembered for the tagline ("Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water..."). The other two, for intense decay (culminating in the Voodoo Shark and another famous tagline: "It's Personal").
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark is quite a bit more well-known than its sequels, especially the very first scene. References to Temple of Doom and most importantly The Last Crusade do pop up infrequently, especially the latter's earlier parts. Why Did It Have to Be Snakes? indeed. (Also, It Belongs in a Museum.)
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids to its sequels. Honey, I Blew Up the Kid did fairly well, but Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves doesn't hold up as well as the first two movies. And certainly, neither of the two sequels have the sheer Memetic Mutation potential of the first.
  • The Matrix: A good chunk of the fandom treats the sequels as Fanon Discontinuity.
  • Charlie Chan spoofs and homages pay little attention to The House Without a Key, which in both film and prose started the Charlie Chan series (the film remains lost as of 2009, however). The "Number One Son" Henry first appeared in the novel Black Camel. Keye Luke played him in the films (in the first film, they explicitly refer to Luke's role as Henry).
  • Psycho has had several sequels, a TV movie and a remake.
  • Road House got a DTV sequel, and Swayze was originally supposed to reprise his role, but disagreements with him and the filmmakers prevented that from happening, so his character was killed offscreen in the sequel.
  • Nobody really remembers the three sequels to the 80s-90s Batman series, as well as they do the original with Jack Nicholson playing the Joker (and, in the case of Batman and Robin, people who do remember it wish they didn't.)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey vs. its sequels, both cinematic and literary.
  • K-9 had 2 direct-to-video sequels, though unlike most DTV sequels, these 2 were a rare case in which the original star (James Belushi) returned.
  • Wesley Snipes reprised his role as Neil Shaw in Art of War II: Betrayal, and Art of War III: Redemption followed afterwards, though this time with rapper Treach filling in for Snipes.
  • American Psycho had a DTV sequel, starring Mila Kunis. How bad is it? Patrick Bateman (obviously not played by Christian Bale) dies in the first scene. Murdered. By a little girl.
  • Cruel Intentions and Wild Things both had several DTV sequels (Cruel Intentions had 2 sequels, while Wild Things had 3)
  • The Hitcher has a sequel and a remake.
  • Final Destination, even though the fanbase's split on whether the first or the second installment wins.
  • Saw has six sequels, to generally degrading reaction.
  • The Descent got a DTV sequel.
  • Wrong Turn got 2 DTV sequels, some liked the 2nd film better than the original, though most weren't too fond of the 3rd film.
  • Joy Ride also had a DTV sequel
  • Most Scanners fans don't know that there are three movies in the main series... and that there are FIVE of them if you count the spinoffs.
  • You didn't even know there were four sequels to The 400 Blows, did you?
  • Donnie Darko, majorly. S. Darko is usually considered to be abysmal.
  • James Bond as a whole averts due to being Third Installment Wins. But the "definitive 007" is still the first one, and the most well-remembered Dalton, Brosnan and Craig movies are their debuts (The Living Daylights, Goldeneye and Casino Royale). And Lazenby only had the one by default (On Her Majesty's Secret Service). And this trope might explain why Honey Rider remains one of the more popular Bond girls.
  • Predator, to the point where people often mistook Predators with Predator 2.
  • Don Bluth fans loathe the Lighter and Softer sequels that were made for The Secret of NIMH and The Land Before Time without Bluth's involvement. An American Tail 's fan base is quite divisive about the sequels.
  • The first Die Hard movie is the most well-known of the series — it even originated an action subgenre!
  • Caddyshack. The first movie was a Cult Classic and is generally accepted to be one of the funniest movies ever. The second movie fell prey to Sequelitis and likely because the cast was replaced. Caddyshack 2 was enough to end the franchise.
  • Most fans of Starship Troopers don't even realize there are 2 DTV sequels. The second movie experiences a major Genre Shift and is generally considered to be terrible.
  • Ghostbusters. Very much like Back to The Future, few would label later instalments as bad, but the first film is iconic. It's hard to get more memorable than a giant marshmallow man rampaging down Central Park West.
  • Aside from the Captain America sequels and Thor: Ragnarok, most fans and critics find that a superhero's, or superhero team's, first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is their best one. The usual reason given being that the sequels retread the same ground as the first film, for example both Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home deal with Peter Parker making a name for himself outside of Iron Man's shadow. And on the fanfic side, earlier films usually mean more freedom to write.
    • To some, Iron Man, the first MCU film, is still the best one, its fans appreciating its nice self-contained and grounded nature compared to later MCU instalments.
  • Everyone knows about Star Wars, but the images most likely to pop into a casual fan's head are of the first film, A New Hope, which is also the most likely to be referenced in other media.
    • Inverted in the Prequel Trilogy. The last film, Revenge of the Sith, was considered the best, and set a lot the aesthetics for Prequel era media, while the first film, The Phantom Menace, is viewed as one of the worst Star Wars films.
    • The Force Awakens, the first film of the Sequel Trilogy, is by far the best received by the overall audience.


  • In an odd case of this happening to a portion of a single book, most people don't know that there is more to Gulliver's Travels than just the Lilliput section. This gets compounded by a lot of publishers and animators choosing only to tell that section. It may be because many view Gulliver's Travels as a children's story and simply find Lilliput to have more potential for kid-friendly hijinks than the later lands he visits.
  • Stephen King's The Dark Tower series is arguably this, the first novel the Gunslinger is condensed to only what's necessary to the plot and crafts a mysterious world which bears many resemblances to Earth, sadly the sequels got more padded out and ruined the magic of the original. King even altered the Gunslinger later on similar to what Lucas did to the original Star Wars Trilogy.
  • Proust's In Search Of Lost Time: only "The Way By Swann's" (volume one of seven) is at all known; it contains the famous madeleine reminiscence. There is a bookshop with about seven copies of Vol. I on the shelf, and one or two each of all the others: they know most people give up. (They shouldn't, by the way, it's a masterpiece.)
  • Older Than Print: Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy: Inferno is a cultural touchstone. Purgatorio and Paradiso, meanwhile, are the province of literary professors.
  • Beowulf has three sections, each linked to the monster that Beowulf fights. His first fight with Grendel is by far the most famous. Not surprisingly, Grendel has become a somewhat famous mythical monster, even inspiring a Twice-Told Tale in which he is the antihero of the story. Grendel's mother and the dragon, neither even having a name, are not nearly as well remembered.
  • Most people have heard of King Solomon's Mines. H. Rider Haggard's other fourteen Allan Quatermain books: not so much.
  • The second part of Goethe's Faust is much less popular than the first.
  • Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, which is actually two books, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel (by popular demand), Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. Since the Disney movie is almost completely based on the former, most people are most familiar with the first book. That is not to say that elements of Through the Looking Glass have not also entered into popular culture, including Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Jabberwock, and Humpty Dumpty's famous quote, "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."
  • Robinson Crusoe got two sequels, The Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe and Serious Reflections of Robinson Crusoe (although the last one is a series of essays to which Crusoe's name was added in order to boost sales).
  • Anne of Green Gables (by L.M. Montgomery) goes on to become Anne of Avonlea, The Island, Windy Poplars, her own House of Dreams, and Ingleside — then her kids take over. A popular "boxed set" of this series includes only the first three books.
  • Catch-22 had a sequel.
  • A Wrinkle in Time is the most famous of L'Engle's Time Quintet partially because of the tidy little Newbery Award on the cover.
    • You would be surprised how many people don't know there are three (well, four. But three originally) other books in that series, and that there is a spin-off series involving Calvin and Meg's kids.
  • Perhaps because of the film adaption being a lot more popular than the book, most people are unaware that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has thirteen sequels written by L. Frank Baum and an additional 26 "official" books written by other authors after that. Clearly, it was not a dream all along.
  • Almost no one knows The Giver has two sequels, rendering all those English essays about the "ambiguous" ending completely moot. One of the "sequels" only barely references The Giver, though, and the other is plenty ambiguous itself.
  • Everyone knows about Little Women. Its sequels, Little Men and Jo's Boys however... not so much. In the UK only the first half of Little Women is known, because the second part was published separately as Good Wives.
  • As you can see, this often happens with some authors' entire careers. Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot and Endgame are two of the most famous plays of the twentieth century, but after that things get a little misty for your average playgoer.
    • This is especially odd when you consider that Beckett was nearly fifty when Waiting for Godot (or En attendant Godot, as it was then known) made him famous.
    • But a lot of people have heard of "that one with only a mouth on stage" (Not I) and "that one with no actors that's twenty seconds long" (Breath).
  • Although not the first book when read chronologically, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the first book written in The Chronicles of Narnia and by far the best remembered. Some theorize that's why the film adaptation of Prince Caspian did not do as well.
  • Happens with Discworld. Many people don't start reading from the first book, The Colour of Magic, due to the quality being far worse than even a few books later (and being advised of this by friends). However, the most iconic part of the series remains the first scene in Ankh-Morpork with Rincewind and Twoflower in that book, and the most recognizable character is the multi-legged Luggage, or Death.
  • Paradise Lost, in which John Milton attempts to justify the ways of God to men, is a triumph of literature. Four years later, he wrote Paradise Regained, which is now considered important only in the ways that it relates to Paradise Lost.
  • Ender's Game is definitely the most popular book in its the series. Ironically, he only expanded the short story upon which it's based so he could provide backstory for Speaker For The Dead, the story he really wanted to tell.
  • Left Behind. Would you believe that, counting the three prequels, there are SIXTEEN books in the series? The later ones tend to suffer a bit from Arc Fatigue.
  • Lawrence Sanders introduced Captain Edward X. Delaney in The Anderson Tapes, but the rest of the series followed more the format of the second novel, The First Deadly Sin.
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is probably as famous as or more famous than the earlier The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. But Twain's next two sequels, Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective? Not so much.
  • The Mysterious Island is much less well known than 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
  • Many people know Dumas' The Three Musketeers but not the sequel, Twenty Years After. The next sequel, The Vicomte de Bragelonne, is split into multiple parts, of which only the last, The Man in the Iron Mask, is well known.
  • Thanks to a well-known movie version, The Talented Mr Ripley is much better known than its four sequels (though some of them have been made into movies too).
  • Scarlett was the sequel to Gone with the Wind. Bet most of you didn't even know there was one, Timothy Dalton fans not included.
    • It was written by another author after Margaret Mitchell died and generally regarded as a cheap attempt to cash in on the demand for a sequel.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped is still regarded as a classic of 19th-century literature. Practically nobody even knows there was a sequel, Catriona.
  • The Black Stallion is a series spanning over 20 books. Most people have only read the first few though.
  • Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book was followed by The Second Jungle Book just over a year later. Despite this, many people remain unaware that there was a second, even though it's arguably better than the first.
  • Likewise, Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series is a five-book set, but best known for the second book, The Dark Is Rising which the entire series is named after.
  • Dodie Smith wrote The Hundred and One Dalmatians, which was made into two different Disney movies and is thusly very well-known and popular. She also wrote a sequel called The Starlight Barking, of which very few people have even heard, to the point that when Disney did sequels to its films based on her book, neither had anything to do with the plot of the actual book sequel.
  • Roald Dahl wrote a sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator which is not nearly as well remembered. A large degree of the blame is that Dahl hated the first film adaptation of the Chocolate Factory so much that he ordered his estate to ensure that the sequel would never be adapted for film.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, and its sequel, The Lord of the Rings, are probably the most famous fantasy novels ever written. Later works (some published after his death) such as The Silmarillion ... well, serious fans are familiar with them.
  • Happens a lot with Latin texts, as most likely, a student had to translate the first part of an author's work, but not the rest. Most Latin students have read Cicero's First Catilinarian Oration ("To what end, Catiline, do you abuse our patience?"), but not the other three. Most have read the beginning of Caesar's Gallic Wars ("All of Gaul was divided into three parts"), but not all eight books.
  • All the aspects of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which have experienced Popcultural Osmosis are exclusively from the first book in the series. You'd be very hard-pressed to find someone aware of anything beyond that book; that it was the only installment adapted for film doesn't help. Similarly, it's the book that's most well-known, and the radio play and TV series are also rather obscure these days. This also extends to the work of Douglas Adams in general; Hitchhiker's is by far his best-known work, and his other books are dwarfed to a massive degree by it.
  • The first series of Warrior Cats is pretty much universally considered the best of the numerous story arcs (there are five total series planned, plus plenty of Expanded Universe books out.) The other Erin Hunter series, Seeker Bears, is also not quite as popular, probably because Warriors is a tough act to follow.
  • Out of all the Watch books, most people know the name Night Watch. Day Watch is also fairly well-known due to the same style of writing. Then you have Twilight Watch and Final Watch, which many non-fans simply haven't heard of, not to mention the two spin-offs (one of which by the co-author of Day Watch). The first novel gained some international fame, mostly due to the Film of the Book.
  • Neuromancer is much more popular and critically acclaimed than the other novels in William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy.
  • Rick Riordan penned a whole Urban Fantasy Shared Universe but the most popular part of it is without a doubt the first instalment, Percy Jackson & the Olympians. Reasons include the Myth Arc being nicely self-contained, a manageable cast of characters, its Worldbuilding not being restricted by that of earlier series and that the whole Riordanverse, as of 2021, counts twenty-one full books, creating a healthy dose of Archive Panic along with Continuity Lock Out as the later series do reference earlier ones regularly. Five books is a much more digestible piece of the pie.

Live-Action TV

  • Averted with Law & Order, as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has probably eclipsed it in popularity.
  • Also averted with NCIS which has become much more popular than its predecessor JAG.
  • In the Star Trek canon, none of the follow-ups or films will match the cultural significance of Star Trek: The Original Series. Furthermore, Star Trek: The Next Generation was much more popular than the other Star Trek shows created after the original. Out of the later shows, Next Generation was the only one that became a film series.
  • When you ask a non-fan about Power Rangers, it would be something about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (and most likely the first season of it), and every Power Rangers parody is based on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. It's even a coin toss if the person asked if aware of the Green Ranger, the franchise's Breakout Character.
    • When Disney did a poll for the five most popular Rangers, the only non-MMPR to make the list was Andros from In Space. Not a single Disney Ranger charted. In this case, first production company wins. Though it helps by the cast staying around for a lot longer than most of the other Rangers, rather than being replaced every year.
    • It seems like Saban understands this, as when they bought back the franchise, they made sure the 18th season was as campy and over-the-top as the original.
  • The same thing also applies to Super Sentai. While some series had more postmortem popularity than others (Choujin Sentai Jetman being an example in the early 1990's), it is Himitsu Sentai Goranger, the very first Sentai, that still gets the most exposure and is the subject of most homages and parodies.
    • Choudenshi Bioman gets this in the Philippines, despite Bioman itself being the 8th installment in Super Sentai.
  • The first Kamen Rider series is the one most recognizable in Japan. Not to say that other, more recent series (like Den-O) haven't enjoyed their share of success, but the first series is the one that started it all.
  • Virtually any Lost parody will focus on elements introduced in the first season — the survivors, the Others, the Hatch, the Monster, the Numbers, and the polar bears. The fact that the show completely changed focus around Season 3 makes it very easy to identify someone who hasn't watched the show since the first season.
  • Stargate SG-1 has lasted the longest of all the shows in the franchise and has the largest following, given how many times it was Uncanceled. Stargate Atlantis lasted several seasons, while Stargate Universe (having a different format) was canceled fairly quickly. No mention of Stargate Infinity, a short-lived cartoon series. Surprisingly, the original installment, the Film/Stargate film, is mostly unknown, being an obscure sci-fi film from the 90s.
  • As a result of shifting writers and quality standards plaguing the post-2005 Doctor Who, it is not uncommon to find a fan of the show who thinks that Series 1 was the best.
  • Most fans of the Arrowverse's The Flash regard its first season as the best, usually citing what came afterwards as relying on Recycled Scripts, Idiot Plots and Arc Fatigue too much.
  • The first season of Community is often regarded as its best, usually on the basis that while the show was a weird meta-comedy romp, it wasn't too outlandish in Season 1. It's also seen as the season that made the best usage of Chang.


  • Many listeners of classical music find that other conductors and orchestras performing a given piece don't measure up in their minds to the first ones they heard, possibly overlapping with They Changed It, Now It Sucks.
  • Heck, this applies to almost everyone participating in the entire genre in rap/hip-hop. Most knowledgeable listeners are very likely to say that Nas can never top Illmatic, any member of the Wu-Tang Clan will never make an album on the level of their first solo records (with the possible exception of Ghostface Killah), and the list goes on and on.
  • Garth Brooks had a decade of solid country albums, but his most remembered hits are The Dance, from his first album, and Friends in Low Places, from his second.
  • Of Carl Orff's Trionfi trilogy of secular choral music, Carmina Burana is by far the best known. Catulli Carmina is far less popular, and Trionfo di Afrodite is outright obscure. And Carmina Burana is known mostly for its first (and last) song, the first to be composed: "O fortuna."
  • Pearl Jam's Ten.
    • Depending upon who you ask, their sophomore effort, Vs., can also be considered this. For certain though, their third album, Vitalogy, definitely falls under this trope for many casual fans, since it includes a good number of massive hits like "Corduroy", "Better Man", and "Spin the Black Circle". It wasn't until No Code that the band really started to hemorrhage casual fans.
  • Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction works here. Not only is it the highest-selling debut album of all time, it's also got "Sweet Child O' Mine", which is pretty much one of the most famous songs of the last 20 years. "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Paradise City" are pretty famous, too.
  • Aimee Mann is a critically-acclaimed and incredibly respected songwriter who crafts smart, witty, memorable, and utterly catch pop songs. She is widely considered to be one of the finest songwriters of her generation but, if you bring her name up, most people's eyes simply glaze over. Then, inevitably, you sigh and say, "You remember the chick from 'Til Tuesday who sang that 'Voices Carry' song? Yeah, her." At which the response is inevitably "Oh, the one with the funny hair, yeah, I remember that song! Is she still around?" An amazing musician who is only known for her very first song. Sigh.
    • That's a bit harsh. Her music was pretty hard to avoid (especially on college campuses) for a year or so after her "Lost in Space" album came out, and the use of her songs in Magnolia has gotten her a lot of exposure.
    • Devoted Rush fans know her as the female vocalist who sang on "Time Stands Still".
  • Frankie Goes to Hollywood's first album Welcome to the Pleasuredome is easily their most famous album.
  • Tori Amos' first two solo albums Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink are her most critically-acclaimed albums (especially the former). Critics tend to not pay attention to the rest of her albums.
  • Disturbed's best known and bestselling album, The Sickness gets this quite a bit (which is unfortunate since the songs on it are terribly simple compared to their later work).
  • Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville got a huge amount of praise, and is considered one of the best albums of all time. Too bad the rest of her albums didn't match up to the success of her debut.
  • Is This It by The Strokes is widely considered their masterwork by fans and critics alike, and is arguably the definitive record from the garage rock revival era. Only their second album, Room on Fire, really seems to compare favorably to their debut, with subsequent releases receiving a decidedly more lukewarm critical and commercial response.
  • Manolo Escobar's Mi Carro might hold a record at this: The beginning lyrics (Where the singer says his cart got stolen) are well-known by everyone in Spain, which lead to many jokes about how "maybe Manolo Escobar hasn't found his cart yet" or nonesuch, when if those people bothered to listen to the entire song, they would know he finds his cart at the end of it.
  • Violent Femmes' self-titled album.
  • Hell, how many one hit wonders are only remembered for that first album or first record?
  • REM's debut album, Murmur, is often considered their best. (although it's not their breakthrough)
  • Crazy Rhythms, the first album by The Feelies, frequently makes critics' lists of best alternative rock albums, best 80s albums, and so on. Their other albums, on the other hand, are rarely, if ever mentioned on similar lists.
  • Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill. Although her two subsequent albums both went platinum in the US, her first album (at least, not counting her teen pop career) is still her most remembered and popular.
  • Boston's self-titled debut.
  • Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory.
  • Foo Fighters have either their debut, which is arguably the one that got most acclaim, or The Colour and the Shape, the first as a full band (as Foo Fighters is really a Dave Grohl solo album), sometimes called their masterwork, and the most commercially successful with songs such as "Monkey Wrench", "My Hero" and their possible Signature Song "Everlong".
  • Did you know that Franz Liszt wrote five Mephisto Waltzes (if you count the Bagatelle Ohne Tonart)?
  • Similarly, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote three piano concertos as well as a concert fantasy for piano and orchestra. Only the first concerto is known by most people.
  • Although Pink Floyd released the entire "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" suite on the Wish You Were Here album, most people remember the (album-opening) first half of it better than the (album-closing) second. The band themselves rarely played the second half of it after the Animals tour.


  • This is frequent among fans of Broadway shows that have touring or Revival productions. Generally, the original show cast sets the standard for the character portrayals and song performance and anyone following in their role has to live up to them. Some specific outstanding examples:
  • See Original Cast Precedent, when a creative choice not absolutely mandated by the script is used in an original production and is shown to be imitated by following productions.
  • And God help you if you're the sequel to a stage musical.
  • Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth as Elphaba and Glinda, respectively, in Wicked.


  • The original 2001 run of Bionicle is by far the best-known, even if most people only have a vague recollection of it. A person who once collected the sets but grew out of the hobby will most likely remember the "big robot warriors and small robot priests on a tropical island", but the conversation would get one-sided if you mention the Order of Mata Nui, the Shattering, the rest of the Makuta's race, cyborg gladiators, or indeed anything after 2002.

Video Games

  • The words Street Fighter II are ingrained in the minds of millions of people; until recently, not even half of them were even aware of the existence of Street Fighter III. Indeed, before Street Fighter IV came around, mentioning Street Fighter in conversation would have people think Street Fighter II, and any Street Fighter game seen by someone unfamiliar with the franchise would often be assumed to be II. (Either that or Tekken.) Admittedly, II was almost its own franchise in its day. Although that would be Second Installment wins, it is II that really got the franchise (and the fighting game genre) going, so it probably counts as a first.
    • However, if one views Street Fighter II as its own franchise separate from other Street Fighter series, one will notice that most of the characters who make return appearances in subsequent games and series are usually the original twelve "World Warriors". With exception of Cammy and Akuma, none of the "New Challengers" from Super Street Fighter II had that many return appearances.
  • In Pokémon, any "Team _____" other than "Rocket" is mostly ignored by those outside of the fanbase (the Terrible Trio from the anime helps this).
    • ...despite the trio being nothing like the main Team Rocket members of the games.
    • The most recognizable creatures are also from Red/Blue/Yellow. Of all the Super Smash Bros playable Pokémon, just two aren't from those games (and one is a pre-evolution of franchise mascot Pikachu).
    • The protagonist everyone thinks of is Red, be it his original design, his fanon design, or his remake design. Super Smash Bros Brawl even included him in it.
  • No matter how many games the Kingdom Hearts series churns out, it seems everyone will remember the original first one the most, if not solely for the hype and reaction surrounding it (Square and Disney? Together?! WTF?!).
  • Not so much the actual games themselves, but rather the music of the Ace Attorney games. While it is almost universally agreed that the music is godly, the Objection and Cornered themes from the first games are widely considered the best as opposed to the respective themes from the sequels.
  • This is technically "First Level Wins", but most people are unaware there is more to Superman 64 than just flying through rings. Mainly because the game is so broken, hardly anyone ever gets past that part.
  • A lot of people have heard of Myst-- unsurprisingly, since it was the bestselling PC game of all time for nearly ten years before it was displaced. Fewer people picked up the sequel, Riven, and even fewer completed it, probably because of the dramatically increased difficulty level. Outside of the adventure game niche market, however, most people will be rather surprised to learn that Myst has four direct sequels, three tie-in novels, and a highly ephemeral spinoff online RPG. When you mention Myst to most people, they'll immediately think of the first one only; of the 12 million copies of total franchise games sold as of 2007, 6 million were the original.
  • The Mortal Kombat half of the character roster from Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe consists entirely of characters from the first two installments, which is when the series was on its peak of its popularity.
  • Go ahead and find a fan of Final Fantasy Tactics who thinks that Final Fantasy Tactics Advance or its sequel were better games.
  • Everyone who has played the entire Ray Series regards RayForce, the first game in the series, is the best out of the three games. Literally everyone. Putting RayStorm or especially RayCrisis above RayForce is a felony.
  • Mention the Red Faction series, and one will always remember the first one over the second one. This is usually because the second game removed some features, had nothing to do with the plot of the original, and wasn't very compatible with the popular Geo-Mod engine.
    • It did have Jason Statham and Lance Henriksen voicing characters, though.
  • Painkiller is a sad example of a franchise that started getting a colder and colder reception with each new release, starting with the Battle out of Hell, an Expansion Pack consisting near-entirely of levels that were made for Painkiller, but cut out. Since then, each new sequel to the game has been developed by an outsider team, and all of them started out as game mods before being given commercial funding by the publishers. It shows.
  • The Sakura Taisen franchise is dominated by the cast of the first game. The adaptations focus almost exclusively on them and even the bulk of the series' entry here is about them.
  • Tsukihime, a Visual Novel, separates different parts of the story by which girl you end up with. But because some information is revealed before others, you have to see every girl's story in a certain order, to its full conclusion. (START Arcueid->Ciel->Akiha->Hisui->Kohaku END.) Since Tsukihime truly is a novel, with tens of thousands of lines of text, casual players without a lot of time to devote to the game only play the first installment, Arcueid's route, without getting far enough to start on anyone else's. Arcueid is also the most popular of all the main heroines among fans, completely defying the First Girl Wins rule.
    • And how many people have actually played its sequel, Kagetsu Tohya? Both have been fan-translated for years but the first game is still better known.
  • Unless there is a very popular theme from later in the game, the Stage 1 themes or the closest equivalent are usually the most well known themes of any given game, like the Castlevania's big three: Vampire Killer, Bloody Tears and Beginning.
    • Likewise, on Super Smash Bros Brawl, Sonic the Hedgehog's stage has five songs directly lifted from game levels. Only one of them isn't from a level one (Scrap Brain, the final level of Sonic 1 per se, as it precedes the final boss).
  • The original Final Fight has gotten plenty of nods and references in later games, particularly with the inclusion of Guy, Sodom, Rolento, Cody and Andore (under the guise of Hugo with Poison as his manager) in many Street Fighter installments and other Capcom fighting games. The only Final Fight sequel to contribute anything of note was Final Fight 2, which brought us Maki and... really, that's just about it.
  • Ragnarok Online is a Korean MMORPG, more or less a Long Runner. I bet you didn't know there is a Ragnarok Online 2.
  • Some folks back in the day threw around the term "Asheron's Call 2 Syndrome" when discussing the problem that MMORPG sequels (spiritual or otherwise) are liable to run into (namely that the first installment is doing pretty well or you probably wouldn't be having a sequel). The term didn't stick. The phenomenon, on the other hand, is pretty much this entire page.
  • Did you know that there were sequels to the classic game Shadowgate? If you did, you probably only know about the Nintendo 64 game Trials of the Four Towers. However, even that was preceded on the Turbo Grafx 16 by Beyond Shadowgate.
  • The first Super Monkey Ball, due to it being a port of an arcade game, had a wide variety of challenging levels and attracted a large Challenge Gamer fanbase as a result. The second game had more gimmicky levels, but still had quite a few Challenge Gamers trying to eke out both No Death Runs through Expert and Master, and single-level runs of TAS quality without the tool assistance. Then the games progressively got significantly easier, and the fanbase lost interest as a result.
  • Aerobiz: Quite a few players can remember seeing the game on the shelves of video rental stores, but few ever saw the sequel, Aerobiz Supersonic, and even less saw the Japan-only released Air Management '96.
  • The first Monkey Island game, The Secret of Monkey Island, is the most well-regarded Monkey Island game by reviewers and every sequel has been compared to it. This is despite the fact it doesn't have as much a comedic tone, only allows you to visit two islands, and several of the characters have less cartoony personalities than they do later (notably, Guybrush is less clumsy and LeChuck is less hammy). Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge is the one that set the tone for the sequels and it or the third game The Curse of Monkey Island are usually considered to be the series' highlight by fans.
  • Tetris: No matter how many variations the Tetris Company has kept creating, the classic Tetris remains the most recognized one even today.
  • "Hey, Blaster Master was a great NES game, wasn't it?... What's that? There's a second game on the Genesis? And a couple of Game Boy titles? Huh, never heard of 'em..." This trope was largely reinforced when Blasting Again was released on the PSX as a budget title ($7.88 brand new!), and then the later Wii Ware release of Overdrive.
    • The second game is mostly forgotten by fans (and for good reason). Blaster Master Boy was a Dolled-Up Installment of a Japanese game called Bomber King. Enemy Below was a Mission Pack Sequel of the first game with new maps, bosses and weapons.
  • Dino Crisis. The X Meets Y premise was what grabbed original fans, and few who have played the sequels think that they are better than the original.
  • Although the Tecmo Bowl series is still going, Tecmo Super Bowl for the NES is the most popular. Although a handful of sequels (one of which is also named Tecmo Super Bowl, but it's a completely different game) were made, the NES version still remains popular to this day, especially in the ROM editing communities.
  • Earthbound, or Mother 2, is the most popular in the Mother trilogy. It was also the only one in the series to be released in America, but never in Europe. The first game was originally going to be released, but they decided against it because it would be too late in the NES era to get attention. The sequel, Mother 3, may never see the light of day outside of Japan. Likely it's because of the copyright issues that the songs have, because the United States has more strict copyright laws than Japan does.
  • The first Viewtiful Joe game is said to be the best in the series, despite the successful sales and good reviews of the sequels.
  • For anyone who is familiar with the X-COM series, there are no games after the first one. The sequel is essentially the same game with a swapped palette and a higher difficulty level. No mention goes to the Raygun Gothic Apocalypse and the space fighter simulator Interceptor. The jury's still out on the Firaxis remake still in development (Note: Firaxis includes some of the original developers from Microprose, including the great Sid Meier).
  • Pac-Man is a definite example. Whenever Pac-Man is referenced somewhere it'll always be the original game, and it'll be his Graphics Induced Super Deformed form.


  • Not an instance involving nostalgia or memories, but: the first episode of Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff is by an enormous margin the most oft-quoted and most subject to Memetic Mutation outside the Homestuck fanbase. Virtually everyone knows about stairs and warnings thereof, but the chances of hearing about any other quotations from the series aren't all that great. This is partly because that first entry is always the one that comes up when you load the comic's home page (as it displays the first comic, not the most recent one), and partly because it's one of the more commonly-referenced pages within Homestuck itself.

Web Original

  • Fan re-dubbed clip-shows, originating from god-knows-where, are generally referred to in their respective forms and themes by the originators of them. Examples include: AMV Hell, which has become a catch-all term for any clip show featuring several different Anime series; Phoenix Wrong, for Flash-made Ace Attorney-based clip shows.
  • On the SCP Foundation website, the first SCP made (173) is the highest-rated and locked from editing.
  • Everyone's heard of Haunted Majora's Mask. Greatly fewer have heard of the Moon Children, and hardly anyone outside of Within Hubris has heard of Ryukaki.

Western Animation

  • One of the most famous of Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies is "The Skeleton Dance", the first one ever made.
  • Whenever Transformers is ever referenced in popular media, the references will almost always be about the original cartoon which is easily the most iconic piece of Transformers media produced, setting the stage of how the characters in later Transformers media should act and what they should look like.
  • Ben 10 has five entries, the original, Ben 10: Alien Force, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Ben 10: Omniverse and the Continuity Reboot, Ben 10. The sequels have generally mixed reception, with most fan loyalty going to the first series, mainly due to it being the only one the creators (Man of Action) worked on, making many view the other shows as Cash Cow Franchise Zombies. Despite Man of Action returning for the Continuity Reboot, many long-time fans dislike it on account of its Denser and Wackier and Lighter and Softer tone, going through Reverse Cerebus Syndrome and becoming more of a comedy rather than an Action-Adventure Superhero show with Comedic elements.
  • Of all the entries in the Tales of Arcadia franchise, Trollhunters is the easy favorite. Later instalments are nothing less than beloved but Trollhunters‍'‍ longer episode count allowed for a more relaxed plot and greater Worldbuilding. Along with not being restricted by earlier series' lore, its much more popular with the fan community of artists.

Real Life

  • The 1964 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang. Aka, the quintessential Cool Car.
    • Applies to pretty much any '60s American muscle car whose brand name continued to be produced beyond the '70s fuel crisis.
    • This can also apply to any car model or car enthusiast movement that catches on and evolves, even if the latter reiterations bring key improvements due to more advanced technologies or adapts successfully to changing market/cultural trends to prolong its life.
  • Just about everyone in the Western World at least knows the name of Hannibal Barca, who famously led an army from Northern Africa across Western Europe, eventually crossing the Alps with his elephants into Italy. His younger brother, Hasdrubal, did the exact same thing but did it second so no one cares.
    • Speaking of the Punic Wars, a lot of really famous things and people actually came out of the Second War: Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, the crossing of the Alps, Fabian tactics, war elephants, etc. If one were to ask about the Punic Wars, or Carthage, Hannibal would come to mind first, despite being in only one of three, and at that the second, thus averting this trope in a larger sense.
  • The original, "0th" edition of Dungeons and Dragons has a devoted following to this day, despite being released in 1974 and having (depending on how you count it) 5 versions after it.
  • One of the early architects of the World Wide Web, Robert Cailliau, was quite aware of this being a possibility, and insisted that those who designed HTML should design a client-side script with it. They didn't and NetScape came up with JavaScript, which he claims is the worst programming language ever and the most hideous kluge in computing. He also admitted that this trope is the reason we're stuck with it.
  • Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon.
  • In regards to classic gaming franchises, Sean Malstrom almost always regards the first installments to be the best, especially if the installment was released on the NES. He holds to this idea so fervently that he actually regards Super Metroid and The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, games that most fans and critics consider Even Better Sequels, to be the points when their respective franchises started going downhill.