This is a {{trope}} that goes through a circular pattern of change, eventually returning to its original form after several iterations.

Like this: "[[BigFun Fat Guys Are Jolly]]" gets subverted over time to "Fat Guys Are Kinda Sad And Pitiful". After a while at that value, the audience is expecting [[TheWoobie "sympathetic"]] Fat Guys, so it gets subverted to "[[FatBastard Fat Guys Are Mean And Greedy]]". Once expectations are out there for evil Fat Guys, it gets subverted back to "Fat Guys Are Jolly".

Most cycles are bipolar, though, oscillating back and forth between two opposites that mutually subvert (or invert) each other.

See also FleetingDemographicRule, PopularityPolynomial. Compare and contrast with UndeadHorseTrope, EvolvingTrope.

Remember, Administrivia/ExamplesAreNotRecent. People might be reading this in the year 5070, so keep them in mind.
!!Some {{trope}}s that are cyclic:
* ActionGirl: Status/appeal cycles between AmazonChaser and NoGuyWantsAnAmazon.
* UsefulNotes/TheAmericanDream: Cycles between optimistic and pessimistic depending on the economy and general state of the union, as well as the [[DependingOnTheWriter racial and/or socioeconomic background of the writer]]. [[ValuesDissonance It also changes dramatically along with the middle-class aspirations of different eras]]: a modern suburban couple might well dismiss a 1950s suburban home as [[PotteryBarnPoor "too poor."]]
* TheAllegedCar: Depending on the decade, economy/electric cars are either seen as the sign of a thoughtful, world-conscious protagonist or a slick street racing enthusiast, or effeminate crap made by Evil Foreigners out to destroy America, and worshipped by cash-strapped nerds. For larger cars, the driver will either be a nail-biting badass or a thoughtless conservative who hates the environment almost as much as they hate themselves.
* BasementDweller: In good economic times, it means the guy is a slacker and a loser. In bad economic times, it's certainly not viewed favorably, but it's cast in a light that makes it more society's fault that he can't get a job / house / whatever.
* The BoyBand goes through a pretty regular boom/bust cycle of being the single hottest thing in music to dormant and/or outright hated to popular when the next generation pokes its head up to see if it's safe to come out. Usually the early part of the decade will have obscenely popular boy bands which will bust during the middle. For example, in the New Tens, Music/OneDirection picked up the baton Music/{{NSYNC}} and the Music/BackstreetBoys carried during the early 2000s, who themselves were treading the ground that the Music/NewKidsOnTheBlock had covered during the early Nineties, and it's possible to trace it back farther through New Edition, and even back to the Jackson 5.
* CantArgueWithElves[/=]ScrewYouElves: As discussed in the [[Headscratchers/ScrewYouElves Headscratchers]] section for the latter, both tropes cycle with each other. For example: many fantasy stories (''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'') use the CantArgueWithElves trope, human audiences get bored of being continually condescended by arrogant magical races, so ScrewYouElves becomes popular (''VideoGame/{{Overlord}}''). Many fantasy stories use the ScrewYouElves trope, and humans appear too arrogant and foolhardy, so CantArgueWithElves becomes popular again (''Film/{{Avatar}}''). Eventually, we'll likely end up with a kind of {{reconstruction}} where fantasy elves combine a mixture of traits according to [[AuthorAppeal how the author feels about elves]] (''TabletopGame/{{Greyhawk}}'').
* Communists: The portrayal of communists cycles between DirtyCommunists, ChummyCommies, or something in between such as WellIntentionedExtremist. Prior to TheGreatPoliticsMessUp, the deciding factor seems to have been how good the West's relations with the Soviet Union were at that moment. Since 1991, it's been a mixed bag for fictional commies. On the one hand, the failure of the Soviet bloc means that communists will be regarded, at best, as foolishly believing in a system which doesn't work. On the other, the end of the UsefulNotes/ColdWar means that there is much less reason to have communist villains in the first place.
* CowboyCop: Fluctuates between protagonist and antagonist depending on how much "traditional" cops are respected.
* DarkerAndEdgier and LighterAndSofter: In a market saturated by one mood, a work taking the opposite view stands out and does well, sparking [[FollowTheLeader a host of imitators]] that push the pendulum in the other direction.
* {{Deconstruction}}: Deconstructing a genre, then [[{{Reconstruction}} deconstructing the deconstruction]]. The latter then sets the new baseline, which may itself be deconstructed again...
* The DoggedNiceGuy: Is he a determined and heroic go-getter who happens to be the victim of [[{{Tsundere}} a bitch]] who [[AllLoveIsUnrequited won't give him the]] StandardHeroReward, or [[StalkingIsLove a creep with]] [[EntitledToHaveYou an entitlement complex]]? Both? Neither? It depends on the writer, and what the prevailing views of sexuality and relationships, and gender roles, happen to be in a particular time and place.
* TheFairFolk, as well as probably most cases of OurMonstersAreDifferent.
* Female sexuality: Since the dawn of time, humans have been cycling though the ideas that AllWomenAreLustful and AllWomenArePrudes.
* HairColors: HairOfGoldHeartOfGold to DumbBlonde and back again, with brunette always being the {{Foil}} for wherever blonde is today, and red hair being a more HotBlooded version of brunette.
* {{Hipster}}: Recurring definition with every generation rejecting the previous batch.
* IdealHero[=/=]AntiHero: The two fashions tend to usurp each other in turn across various media, though the dividing line can change as values march on. If the Ideal Hero dominates, writers will introduce antiheroes as a reaction to that until it's impossible to take the Ideal Hero seriously, and then the antiheroes will become a cliche of their own and we'll see a {{Reconstruction}} of the Ideal Hero. For example, UsefulNotes/TheModernAgeOfComicBooks has generally reclaimed a lot of the idealism of [[UsefulNotes/TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks the Silver Age]] as a reaction to [[UsefulNotes/TheDarkAgeOfComicBooks the Dark Age]].
* {{Joisey}}: The stereotypical [[WretchedHive view of New Jersey]] was never completely true or an exaggeration, as pretty much anybody who is actually from or has actually been to New Jersey will tell you. This trope was used with less and less frequency, until [[Series/JerseyShore something horrific]] happened, causing the trope to rise from the dead.
* KnightInShiningArmor: This one's been cycling for a long, long time. It started with straight usage in the ChivalricRomance genre, then was parodied to death by ''Literature/DonQuixote'' and successors, then returned to favor with Creator/{{Disney}} and other creators, and has since been [[DeconstructedTrope deconstructed]] and bashed so hard that [[DiscreditedTrope it's difficult to find straight examples]], particularly as a lead character.
* LittleProfessorDialogue pops up from time to time, usually subverting more "realistic" kids' dialogue. While ComicStrip/{{Dennis The Menace|US}} usually sounded like a child, Charlie Brown and the ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'' gang were pretty loquacious in their conversation, though that was usually played as a joke. Then came ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'', taking children back to talking like children, though with the years that had grown to include ToiletHumor and BadButt tendencies. On TV, meanwhile, Lisa Simpson was as verbose as a grown-up, while Bobby Hill went back to basics. Then came Stewie Griffin (who talked AND acted like a mad scientist) followed by the kids in ''WesternAnimation/BobsBurgers'', who sound a bit more realistic.
* LoveInterests: Cycles between ProperLady and WellExcuseMePrincess and every degree in between; characters are ColourCodedCharacters, as they cycle respectively between [[HairOfGoldHeartOfGold blonde]] and [[HeroesWantRedHeads red-haired]] or brunette.
* Male "standards" change according to the zeitgeist of the era, from chivalrous in the Middle Ages to curious in the Renaissance to logical in the Enlightenment era to passionate in the Romantic era to compassionate in the Victorian era. The 1920s had the "clueless dandy"; the Great Depression and WWII brought street-smart, hard-boiled characters; the post-war era became linked to fatherly, athletic types as much as the 60s were marked by impossibly stylish, intellectual playboys (who might as well be spies); the 70s had hunk-ish guys who either wanted to sleep with every woman possible or tried to take the law on his own hands; the 80s brought elegant, corporate-minded men while the 90s and 00s had both scruffy idlers and effete metrosexuals and the 2010s have been marked by naive intellectuals.
* TheMisophonic: Characters under this condition may attempt to overcome their hatred to their specific sounds, and then [[YankTheDogsChain revert]].
* MonochromeCasting: All-white or all-black casts were the norm in popular media until the end of segregation in the 1960s, when racially-integrated ensembles became common, especially throughout the 1970s. However, by the 1980s the pendulum swung back towards this trope, becoming prevalent until the very late 1990s when multicultural casts became the cool thing to do in Hollywood during the 2000s. The 2010s however have pretty much preferred to return to the trope.
* MorallyBankruptBanker: Popular during banking crises and economic downturns.
* The portrayal of {{Nerd}}s in media has wildly varied. Creator/HaroldLloyd pretty much popularized clueless, bespectacled heroes in ''Film/TheFreshman'', ''Film/GirlShy'', and ''Film/GrandmasBoy''. However, intellectual characters became replaced by smart-aleck characters in the 30s and by TheFifties "egghead" was the insult of choice, pretty much bolstered by RedScare era hostility towards intellectualism. TheSixties saw [[RevengeOfTheNerds socially-awkward, knowledgeable characters]] like [[Comics/SpiderMan Peter Parker]] and [[Series/StarTrek Spock]] being portrayed in a positive light. It then went downhill again in TheSeventies, with TheNineties and TheOughts being the lowest point, with characters like Steve Urkel and the popularity of teen {{sex comed|y}}ies reinforcing stereotypes. By the late 2000s, indie content creators and the rise of TheInternet led to a higher awareness of hobbies seen as "nerdy". However, it was the popularity of ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'' and the surge of the hipster subculture the factors that made nerds a mainstay of 2010s-era culture.
* OurVampiresAreDifferent: Vampires [[SlidingScaleOfVampireFriendliness cycle between]] [[TheSoulless soulless]] [[HorrorHunger predatory]] [[ImAHumanitarian monsters]] and [[{{Wangst}} angst-filled]] [[LoveInterest romantic]] [[TheWoobie woobies]]. Goes hand in hand with LooksLikeOrlok. [[Literature/VarneyTheVampire First they did]], [[Literature/{{Dracula}} then they didn't]], [[Film/{{Nosferatu}} then they did again]], then they switched [[Film/{{Dracula 1931}} back]] and [[Literature/SalemsLot forth]] [[Film/InterviewWithTheVampire a]] [[Series/TrueBlood few]] [[Literature/{{Twilight}} more]] [[VideoGame/CastlevaniaLordsOfShadow times,]]. ''Who knows'' what they will look like next.
* PatrioticFervor: Cycles according to world events.
* RavenHairIvorySkin: In [[OlderThanSteam older times]], pale skin was a sign of wealth and therefore highly attractive: most working-class people worked outside for long periods, developing tans, while affluent noble-types stayed indoors, staying fair-skinned. Then, as beach culture became more popular, pale was out and made way for the DarkSkinnedBlond during the 60's, 70's, and later the 90's and the '00s. But then the increasing awareness of skin cancer made tanning less popular -- and the bottled "fake tans" that came out as a result looked, well, fake and made people who used them seem oblivious and trashy. Combine that with the rise of the Goth subculture and its embrace of the '50s pin-up girl image, and pale and dark-haired came back in fashion.
* RealIsBrown: In the FirstPersonShooter genre, there seems to be a constant cycle between grim and gritty realistic-looking tactical military shooters, and colorful cartoonish ones, which swings back and forth based on whichever the last big successful release was... eg. from cartoonish games early on when that was all the hardware could handle, to realistic ones as they became possible, to cartoonish ones following ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'', to realistic ones following the success of the later ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty'' entries, back towards a more cartoonish look following the success of ''VideoGame/{{Overwatch}}'' and ''VideoGame/{{Splatoon}}''.
* RealWomenHaveCurves: The attitude that a woman is more "realistic" if she's heavier than the norm. Thanks to shifting ideals about body type (along with some people claiming that it encourages obesity), this one keeps coming and going.
* RomanticismVersusEnlightenment: The mother of all {{Cyclic Trope}}s -- at least, according to some. It is said that there are two trends in culture, coming in waves and supplanting one another: the orderly Apollonian, and chaotic Dionysian. Apollonian Enlightenment is followed by Dionysian Romanticism, which is followed by Apollonian Positivism or Realism... and so on.
* SeldomSeenSpecies: Some species are more seldom seen in the media of some cultures and in some time periods than others.
* SexIsCool: First appeared in the 1970s at the peak of the "sexual revolution" to be annihilated by the following decade with the AIDS scare. Open sexuality returned with a bang (no pun intended) in the 90s and 00s, but an overuse of the trope has led to another bust during the 2010s.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: Interestingly, this tends to parallel the political and economic climate of the society generating the works that feature the {{trope}}. Also related to whatever seems rare and different from the norm, e.g., when any given superhero has an 90% chance of being a troubled, brooding NinetiesAntiHero, [[TheCape Capes]] start becoming fascinating to the point of being edgy until they become dirt common then, it switches back, and vice versa.
* SmokingIsCool: In the 1920s, when most Americans wouldn't even ''drink'', smoking a cigarette was thought to be rebellious - even countercultural - both by those who engaged in it and those who disapproved of it. As a result, it became "cool" to smoke [[CoolPeopleRebelAgainstAuthority precisely because it offended so many people]]. A generation later, in the 1940s, [[EverybodySmokes smoking had become so commonplace]] that it was hard to believe it had ever been frowned upon -- but [[TheManIsStickingItToTheMan the mass media still insisted on smoking being cool]]. Then, a generation after ''that'', in the 1960s, it was confirmed that tobacco use led to lung cancer, so smoking became socially unacceptable again. In the 1980s cigarettes became regarded as classy once again. And while this trend lost favor in the 1990s, smoking ''cigars'' enjoyed a revival of popularity among young hipsters, perhaps as a thumb to the eye of PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad. Since then, smoking in general has gradually regained popularity in media devoted to adults, as a way to indicate that a character is rebellious or carefree -- although it's still viewed with suspicion and disdain in the larger society, although the emergence of electric cigarettes and the like has made smoking somewhat more acceptable.
* SpaceOpera: The SciFi genre cycles between favoring tongue in cheek seriocomic space adventures or more cerebral, serious, thought provoking stories. It really depends on which one the public tires of at the time. Serious science fiction of the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' style with social commentary and realistic science was popular until ''Franchise/StarWars'' came along. After the conclusion of that trilogy (along with its imitators), more introspective scifi became popular again, especially with ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration''. Now SFX action romps are popular again now that technology has caught up. It is observed that whenever ''Star Trek'' style sci-fi is in vogue, it invariably goes unnoticed by the mainstream but neverthless enjoys a cult following among serious SF fans.
* SpyFiction: The world's current political system determines whether or not TuxedoAndMartini ''Film/JamesBond''-ish films or Stale Beer {{Post Nine Eleven Terrorism Movie}}s are popular among the audience.
* StrawCharacter: At the turn of the 20th century they were either man-hating "suffragettes" or "temperance"-supporting killjoys; in WWI they were pacifists or profiteers; in the 20s, gangsters or "movie men"; in the 30s, "New Dealers" or industrialists; in the 40s, Nazi spies or isolationists; in the 50s, "commies" or "red-hunters"; in the 60s, hippies or segregationists; in the 70s, "libs" or "cons"; in the 80s, "russ-lovers" or "star warriors"[[note]]This from the pre-Gorbachev "Star Wars" policy of Reagan's first term[[/note]]; in the 90s, "tree-huggers" or "polluters"; in the 2000s, "surrender monkeys" or "arab-killers". As of the 2010s, the most prominent straw-men of the day seem to be feminists and the "alt-right".
* SuperRobotGenre: The entire genre goes through cycles of {{deconstruction}} and {{reconstruction}}. To give a very simplified version, starting with the TropeMaker: ''Anime/MazingerZ'' --{{deconstruction}}--> ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'' --{{reconstruction}}--> ''Anime/GunBuster'' --{{deconstruction}}--> ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' --{{reconstruction}}--> ''Anime/GaoGaiGar''
* SwordAndSandal: Hollywood's on-off relationship with them.
* TokenMinority: It is often this or a TokenWhite.
* UnfortunateIngredients: In the '80s and '90s, sugar was the greatest evil. (American soft-drink companies were actually ahead of the game, having switched from cane sugar to corn syrup in the late '70s.) Now, many ads tout the presence of "real sugar" in their goods because nobody trusts artificial sweeteners or high-fructose corn syrup (both are made up of glucose, i.e. blood sugar, and fructose, i.e. fruit sugar, instead, but while sucrose, i.e. table sugar is 50% glucose 50% fructose, corn syrup varies. Typically, the [[ HFCS in soft drinks is HFCS 42]], or 42% fructose, while many other foods use HFCS 55 (55% fructose, which makes it sweeter). HFCS 42 and 55 comprise most of the HFCS on the market, but some products use HFCS 90. Of course, too much sugar of ''any'' stripe is a problem.
* TheVamp: Cycles between blonde and brunette.
* WesternTerrorists: The ethnicity of terrorists cycles according to world events and frequency of use.
* Comics' art style; early NewspaperComics were a unique selling point (hence "features"), and appeared only on Sundays with large full-panel color. The addition of daily B&W comics along with an ever-shrinking panel size meant that the luxuriant canvas enjoyed by the first generation of modern comics artists would only again be available in the [[WebComics internet era]]. This led to fanciful detail being first jettisoned in favor of a pared-down SliceOfLife style and then to the rediscovery of fanciful detail. Compare the art styles of [[ Winsor McCay]], [[ early Charles Schulz]], and [[ Zack Morrison]], and remember that while Schulz' style was in keeping with midcentury modernist trends in design, architecture and "serious" art, he was very much making a virtue of necessity.