Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism can celebrate its 25 year birthday as the most important volume in comparative welfare state research. In The Making of a Classic that introduce a special issue of the Journal of European Social Policy, we – four colleagues – review the various debates spurred by Esping-Andersen’s The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Tracing its impact since the book’s publication in 1990, we show that Three Worlds continues to be the point of reference for comparative welfare state research. A content analysis of articles in the Journal of European Social Policy citing the book indicates that Three Worlds may even have obtained a paradigmatic status and that its claims and findings are often taken for granted rather than challenged. We conclude that Three Worlds has become a classic that is likely to continue to have a major influence on welfare state research in its next 25 years.