#3. Dungeons and Dragons: Gary Gygax
E. Gary Gygax is considered the father of not only Dungeons and Dragons, but also the modern RPG industry itself. When, in reality, he was more like the weird uncle who lives in the garage and keeps clogging the toilet.
Alan De Smet
Gary, seen here explaining why THAC0 is superior to anything in 3.5 or 4th edition.
Who Actually Deserves the Credit:
During a nerd side quest, Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax had an epic random encounter when they chanced to meet at Gen Con in 1969. Gygax was working on something called Chainmail, which was a war simulator only a bit more complicated than the average board game. With Arneson's influence, Chainmail was adapted to include:
- Exploring dungeons
- Using a neutral judge/dungeon master
- Conversations with imaginary characters (NPCs) to develop the storyline
- Hit points
- Experience points
- The concept of role-playing an individual character rather than just rolling dice
So, basically, he put the "R" in RPG.
In fairness, Gygax was the man who introduced Cheetos and Mountain Dew to tabletop gaming.
Then why did Arneson's name fail its saving throw against history? Because in 1976, Arneson left TSR, the company that published D&D, to pursue a career as an independent game designer. In 1977, TSR released a new version of the game, cleverly titled Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, and insisted that they didn't owe him any royalties. Arneson started filing lawsuits, while Gygax just looked around, realized that somebody was paying him to play D&D and tried his best not to rock this boat that should not be.
Rocco Pier Luigi
"I just assumed I'd rolled a natural 20 at life."
#2. Lost: J.J. Abrams
Lost was an innovative epic that combined Survivor and The X-Files with Pretty People and Sexy Pseudo-Dirt. And it was all thanks to the genius of J.J. Abrams, creator of such other psychological science fiction thrillers as, uh ... Felicity?
"I did something on Armageddon, but Mike had me too coked up to remember any of it."
Who Actually Deserves the Credit:
When Lost first started, J.J. Abrams was splitting his time with Alias, and he needed help. So Damon Lindelof came on board as executive producer and head writer. Together, Abrams and Lindelof fleshed out Lost's series bible and planned out the first few episodes, before Abrams disappeared to shoot Mission Impossible 3. Which, in all fairness, was the most taut and perfectly executed Tom Cruise marathon yet. You really believed that guy was running, you know?
Anyway, this left Lindelof holding a bag so heavy that he actually considered quitting Lost. He probably would have, too, were it not for the timely intervention of Carlton Cuse, who talked Lindelof out of leaving and joined the show as an executive producer halfway through Season 1. The two masterminded the whole series together afterward. After the pilot, Abrams' only real credit is co-writing one episode, whereas Lindelof wrote 45 episodes and Cuse 39.
Making them responsible for those fucking polar bears.
Good God: 45, 39? If you subtract one from the other you get six, cubed is 216, two plus one plus six is nine ... 45, 39, six, 216, nine. These numbers! These numbers have great and important meaning! They're the entire basis of something amazing ... that we will now never discuss again.
Hey look, Kate's ass!
And all is right with the world.
#1. The Simpsons: Matt Groening
After writing a handful of episodes in the first few seasons of The Simpsons, Matt Groening took a backseat approach to his creation, becoming something like the J.D. Salinger of jaundiced Flintstones analogues. But he came up with the concept and the characters, and he plotted out the main arcs of The Simpsons, right? There's a reason that you only associate one name with the world's longest-running animated comedy: His.
"All I ever really wanted was to draw cartoon rabbits."
But maybe it's the wrong one ...
Who Actually Deserves the Credit:
During his 15 years on the show, George Meyer was the de facto Simpsons guru. While he's only written 12 episodes, he has credit as a producer, creative consultant, writer, or story editor on a staggering 350. Most shows don't even get to 350 entire episodes. Meyer's primary contributions over the years have been behind the scenes: He was a script doctor, which means that he does all the work and gets none of the glory. But, as The New Yorker aptly put it, "[Meyer] has so thoroughly shaped the program that by now the comedic sensibility of The Simpsons could be viewed as mostly his."
Incidentally, he looks like Gollum.
Based on revelations from DVD commentaries, some of Meyer's contributions include:
- The heartwarming ending to "And Maggie Makes Three"
- Ned Flanders' Leftorium
- "Whacking Day"
- The flying pig in "Lisa the Vegetarian"
- The lyrics to "Rock Me, Dr. Zaius" from the Planet of the Apes musical
Don't pretend you can't sing every word.
- Tyson-esque boxer Drederick Tatum
- Mr. Burns answering the phone with "Ahoy - ahoy" instead of "hello"
It's the little things that make a legend.
So basically, all the quirky character development, strangely authentic heart and bizarre leaps in logic that made the show what it is. Meyer is also overwhelmingly responsible for the religious elements of The Simpsons, having penned the classic "Homer the Heretic" and conceived the hurricane that tests Ned Flanders' faith.
One scriptwriter (Jon Vitti) once had an episode featured in Entertainment Weekly. They lauded praise on the author and enthusiastically quoted their favorite bits from the show in depth. Vitti would later go on record as saying that all the jokes EW referenced -- every single one of them -- were actually added by Meyer:
"I am the Overmind of Comedy."
"That kind of thing happens to all the show's writers all the time. A show that you have the writer's credit for will run, and the next day people will come up to you and tell you how great it was. Then they'll mention their two favorite lines, and both of them will be George's."
Yeah, we here at Cracked don't understand that feeling at all.
Jared Whitley would like to thank Paul Melby, Ed Whitley and the Kolob Cabal for help with this article. Most people agree that Jared's blog, Whitleypedia, isn't as good as it used to be.
For more history of pop culture, check out 6 Disastrous Ways Pop Culture Influences The Real World and The 7 Most WTF Origins of Iconic Pop Culture Franchises.
And stop by LinkSTORM to figure out the most discrete way to disconnect the holiday music in department stores.
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