Breakthrough Hit

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This is the very work that practically begins the career of a creator. This is the hit that gives the creator success in their medium. This is the Breakthrough Hit.

You can bet that any creator who you can name off the top of your head has his/her Breakthrough Hit. For some creators, it could be the very first work he/she created. For others, it comes only after a series of unsuccessful attempts, although these early attempts stand a chance of being Vindicated by History. For many Breakthrough Hits, creators are often subject to the curse of Tough Act to Follow, as practically every subsequent work may be compared to the Breakthrough Hit.

Compare Killer App (equivalent for game systems) and Star-Making Role (equivalent for actors). Compare and Contrast Magnum Opus, another landmark in a creator's career. There may be some overlap for a few creators, but Magnum Opus usually represents the pinnacle of the career while Breakthrough Hit represents the beginning. Contrast Creator Killer and One-Hit Wonder.

Examples of Breakthrough Hit include:

Anime and Manga

Film - Animated


Live Action TV


  • "Love Me Do" for The Beatles in their home country. Their international breakthrough would be "I Want to Hold Your Hand".
  • "Just Dance" for Lady Gaga, after several years in the business and a shift from being a piano-pop-type singer/songwriter
  • "Run It!" for Chris Brown.
  • The album Off the Wall and its lead single "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" codified much of what made Michael Jackson famous, helping establish him as the definitive musician of The Eighties. He was already noted as the lead singer of the Jackson 5, and already had a solo career started even while he was with them, but Off the Wall established what he would be known for for many years to come.
  • "You Really Got Me" for The Kinks, who, prior to this, had two unsuccessful singles.
  • Elton John's Self-Titled Album and "Your Song" were his breakthroughs. His first album, Empty Sky, was unsuccessful.
  • "Born to Run" for Bruce Springsteen.
  • Pink Floyd hit it big with the album The Dark Side of the Moon. For a specific song, "Money" is probably the best fit.
  • "Piano Man" for Billy Joel.
  • Supertramp's first two albums were commercial failures, and then Crime of the Century was released to commercial and critical acclaim, with "Dreamer" being a major hit.
  • "White Liar" for Miranda Lambert. Her first two albums had modest hits but impressive sales; "White Liar" was her first #1 and kicked her career into high gear.
  • After a dud of a first album, Tim McGraw broke through with his fourth single, "Indian Outlaw", and never looked back.
  • "She's Got It All" was the first big hit for Kenny Chesney, who had three albums' worth of modest hits before it.
  • "Somebody Like You" for Keith Urban. His first album produced a #1 in "But for the Grace of God", but the song is long since forgotten (partly since "Somebody Like You" was, per Billboard, the top country hit of 2000-2010).
  • 1972's "Starman", a last-minute addition to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (because RCA wanted a song they could push as a single), finally established David Bowie as a topflight act after four previous albums and only one Top 5 hit—he'd been recording since 1964.
  • "Drink in My Hand" by Eric Church. Although his albums and singles sold well, Church had never seen Top 40 on the Hot 100, and had just barely gotten into the Top 10 on the country charts. "Drink" became his first #1, and "Springsteen" took off like a rocket immediately afterward.

Video Games

Western Animation (Excluding Film)