Early on, there were decks comprised of forty copies of Lightning Bolt supplemented with twenty Mountains, which was a leading contributor to the "four of one card" rule. This card reins in dangerous early creatures like Hypnotic Specter and can deal the final three damage for the win, while killing creatures with three-toughness and below throughout the game. Sometimes creatures are specifically designed to be "out-of-bolt" range by having a toughness of 4 or more. Almost never a dead draw, Lightning Bolt set the standard for burn for a long time with weaker imitators like Chain Lightning and Incinerate, before being replaced by the toned-down Shock.
After being out of core sets since Fourth Edition, Lightning Bolt was reprinted in Magic 2010, much to players' surprise. Several articles on the magicthegathering.com website had devoted sections to explain its revival. Even the reprinting's flavor text alluded the surprise of this card's return. It was also reprinted in Magic 2011.