Happy Birthday, Godzilla! The kaiju alternately responsible for the destruction and/or protection of entire cities turns 61 years old today.
Godzilla is frequently hailed as "King of the Monsters," since his first appearance in 1954's self-titled film (Gojira in Japanese). One of Japan's most popular imports into the US, he's been the star of 31 films, plus comic books, novels, two animated series, board games, card games, and fifty - yes, 50 - video games.
His impact on pop culture is probably the greatest of his accomplishments, whether it's his Guinness World Record as the longest-running film franchise ever, his star on the walk of fame (one of very few fictional characters - 16 total - that has achieved this honor), or his MTV lifetime achievement award. His popularization of the Kaiju as characters and franchises also inspired other works like Pacific Rim, amongst many more. He's also the Official Cultural Ambassador of Shinjuku, Tokyo.
So happy birthday, Godzilla. Step on a building today, old man. You've earned it.