5 Geek Franchises That Grew Way Beyond Their Original Audience
Some franchises have the power to reach the masses – and here are just a few examples.
Nothing is ever created with the expectation that it’ll grow into a mega-franchise – it tends to just happen. Often franchises expand through fans recognising an unbelievable world that they have never experienced before.
It’s even more surprising when those franchises grow beyond their intended audiences and become household names. They provide unforgettable moments that everyone can enjoy showing the world a taste of geek culture. It has the power to unite people from so many different backgrounds to come together for a single franchise. What honestly could be better than that?
Here are 5 geek franchises that grew way beyond their original audiences and transcended into pop culture history.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…George Lucas absolutely changed life as we knew it. Throughout the entire cosmos, you’d struggle to find a single person who hadn’t heard of the Star Wars series that began with the original Star Wars film in 1977 retroactively titled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. The world became enamoured with the epic space opera despite the initial preconceptions of it being solely for science fiction fans.
Clothing, novels, conventions and even a religion – Star Wars set the benchmark for geek franchises expanding to the masses. The franchise grew to television in almost every show imaginable with notable examples being Friends, The Simpsons and Family Guy just to name a few. It’s even spread to the video game community with a multitude of games including Star Wars: Squadrons and Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order. Star Wars broke barriers and became an unstoppable force that’s a household name.
It all started as an arcade game developed by Capcom in 1987. The original Street Fighter was well received but nothing compared to the sequel Street Fighter II. This led to a complete adoration for the series and all the characters with critical acclaim that followed. Street Fighter II popularised fighting video games and is considered to be one of the greatest video games of all time.
Initially intended to be for gamers, the franchise expanded into multiple movies that may be terrible but are considered cult classics. Street Fighter even spread to other movies with Jackie Chan dressed as the iconic Chun-Li in City Hunter and Zangief making a cameo in Disney’s Wreck it Ralph. NetEnt announced they were developing a Street Fighter II slot game which was released in the Summer of 2020 to great fanfare, despite some bumps upon release. With appealing characters and epic fights, the Street Fighter series managed to grow into an icon.
Everybody wants their own adorable Pokémon creature for themselves – it doesn’t matter what sort of person you are. Beginning as a video game for Nintendo’s Game Boy, Pokémon Red and Blue introduced everyone to this incredible world about catching different pocket monsters. Created by Satoshi Tajiri for Nintendo, the original Pokémon series was accompanied by trading cards leading to a complete craze.
Initially intended for children, Pokémon broke barriers and appealed to everyone. The series led to a multitude of TV shows, movies and more generations of Pokémon games which are all popular almost 25 years after the initial release. Fashion, beauty and lifestyle have all been infected with Pokémon fever! There’s been beauty collabs with Shu Uemura and a vast amount of clothing collaborations just to name a brief few. It’s an undisputed fact that Pokémon is just a part of everyday life for everyone.
Created by Martin Goodman in 1939, Marvel Comics became the publication everyone knows now in 1961 after releasing Journey in Mystery issue 69. Detailing the accounts of superheroes and villains, the comics aimed to show unimaginable stories. They were mainly intended for young children to give them something completely different to read.The creators clearly underestimated how much adults would love the stories and this soon showed with all the different medium expansions.
Countless TV shows from The Incredible Hulk to Wanda Vision, showing the diverse creativity and appeal even today. Not to mention the biggest cinematic universe in history starting with the original Iron Man in 2008 leading to the Avengers: Endgame that became one of the biggest movies in cinema history. The Marvel cinematic universe arguably relighted the superhero film genre to make films that were fun and faithful to the comics. Marvel Comics shattered all boundaries to deliver stories that entertained the masses.
Coming from humble beginnings, J.K Rowling wrote the magnificent Harry Potter series all whilst dealing with divorce, unemployment and caring for her child. She transformed her suffering into a magical book series that delighted children all across the world. The mixture of mystery with a coming-of-age story entranced young audiences as they could relate with the characters’ sufferings. Harry Potter has been translated to 80 different languages with over 500 million books sold worldwide – just showing how it went way beyond expectations.
No one could’ve predicted the fanfare that came from the books that lead to an incredibly popular film series . It continues to grow even today with a stage play, video games, countless fashion items, homeware and a university course. The Harry Potter series has become a lifestyle choice that follows fans wherever they go. Whilst it may have been created with children as the intended audience, Harry Potter appeals to fans of all ages and is forever ingrained in pop culture.