For most doctors, Gustav Killian is best known for his eponymous pharyngeal dehiscence. Otorhinolaryngologists may also be familiar with his contributions to rhinology by way of his well-known incision and speculum. Few, however, will be aware of the true significance of his contributions to medicine. Killian was at the forefront of advances in ENT surgery at the turn of the twentieth century. From his early years to his revolutionary work on bronchoscopy and a narrowly missed Nobel Prize, this paper reviews the life and works of a most prolific and often overlooked surgical innovator.