We introduce this themed issue of the European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry with a short overview of hybrid inorganic–organic materials. Hybrid materials have been used in society since antiquity, in fact the creative musings regarding hybridization began in ancient mythology. Now hybrid materials are ubiquitous, and so for clarity they have been divided into different classes and subgroups. These are explained and illustrated with notable synthetic and natural examples. The second half of this overview is devoted to some speculation about the future potential of hybrid materials based on some of the most exciting areas of development, such as artificial photosynthetic leaves, metamaterials, molecular machines, theranostics, 3D printing, nuclear waste storage, and the exploration of life's extraordinary evolutionary origins.