The astonishing win by independent hospital candidate Jean Turner could mark a new phase in Scottish politics.
Dr Jean Turner campaigned against hospital closures
Pundits had predicted smaller parties and one-issue hopefuls might make gains through the second Holyrood vote, which is decided by proportional representation.
But the constituency vote was felt to be the preserve of the main political parties and well-known political mavericks like Dennis Canavan.
Dr Turner, a retired GP, was standing as an independent for Strathkelvin and Bearsden.
She had used the four-week campaign to promote her health ticket to stop the closure of Stobhill Hospital in the north of Glasgow.
The seat was won by a margin of 400 votes by the 63-year-old.
She beat Brian Fitzpatrick - whose share of the vote dropped by more than 20%. He was elected an MSP at the time of the 2001 General Election following the
resignation of former health minister Sam Galbraith.
I will deal with my new role like I did as a GP and listen to the people
She said after taking the constituency seat: "I think there is a move afoot where people are beginning to realise they should stand up for themselves and not be bullied by a minority government.
"I don't think it would be very good for those in power to make it difficult for a person with a mandate like mine.
"This government has not realised what the people are feeling.
"Many people I treated as patients were disenchanted by the party they had voted for, which was Labour.
"Many did not see the kind of difference they expected to see from a Labour government which was elected after the Tory years."
Dr Turner added: "I am now an independent voice and I don't have a party breathing down my neck.
"I will deal with my new role like I did as a GP and listen to the people."
The surprise win prompted Mr Fitzpatrick to say: "Narrow win, big win, whatever, it is still a disappointment, but we are coming back for this seat."
Pensioners pin hopes on parliament
Dr Turner's victory followed an independent success in Falkirk West, where former Labour politician Dennis Canavan held on to the seat with a majority of 10,000 over the Scottish National Party.
He speculated that if there were enough independents elected to the new parliament then a "rainbow alliance" was on the horizon.
On the Lothian list, former SNP MSP Margo MacDonald scored a stunning individual victory.
Ms MacDonald swept to third place on the regional list after winning more than 27,000 second votes.
"There is a new force in our politics now, small parties, alternative parties and independents," she said.
"The parliament I think will be improved because we'll have to bring our thinking and our reactions much more into line with what is happening in the streets and the homes outside the parliament.
"I think it will do our democracy a power of good."
It was sweet revenge for the former Nationalist firebrand, who broke with the party after she was placed too far down its regional list to stand a realistic chance of being returned to parliament.
The Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party also experienced success after fielding candidates on a number of regional lists.
It had put up a representative in Jack McConnell's Motherwell and Wishaw constituency.
Although it made no gain there, John Swinburne was elected as an MSP for the party on the regional list for Central Scotland.
Two of its unsuccessful list candidates were former Celtic and Scotland football legend Billy McNeill and former Rangers and Scotland full back Eric Caldow.
Before polling day, SSCUP leader John Swinburne, 72, said his party had had a tremendous response on the doorsteps.