This study reviews the work performed in the field of reciprocating shaft seals from the advent of the scientific topic in the 1940s. Concepts of leakage, film layers, friction, wear, and other concerns with shaft seals are discussed. The importance of shaft seals as it pertains to liquid springs is brought to light along with issues requiring a need for these seals to withstand high temperatures and high pressures. Issues resulting from a seal exposure to high temperatures, such as thermosetting and embrittlement, are discussed in conjunction with materials and properties that allow seals to operate in high-temperature environments. High-pressure sealing challenges are identified along with the techniques currently employed to overcome these issues, such as fiber reinforcement and backup rings. Sealing solutions have been implemented independently for both high-pressure and high-temperature applications; however, the combination of high pressures coupled with high temperatures is still a challenge today.