Flash in the Pan Fad

"It's a fad. This week it's popular, next week we won't even know it existed."
Robin Lefler, Star Trek: The Next Generation, "The Game"

Fashions come and go, and new technologies become obsolete, but this is ridiculous.

Fiction likes to take the natural rise and fall of trends and parody it by cranking up the speed. Anything at all—a style of clothes, a book, a new diet, a must-have gadget, whatever—can be completely unknown one week, then the hottest topic in the world next week... and then Deader Than Disco the week after that. Heck, sometimes this rise and fall happens in mere days. And it's practically a Stock Joke now that as soon as you buy a computer, a new model will come out and make yours obsolete.

Memetic Mutation is often a Real Life example: the internet moves quickly enough that trending topics can become Discredited Memes in one day, or even shorter.

Often overlaps with the Trend Aesop. See also Anyone Remember Pogs?, when the flash-in-the-pan fads are reminisced and ridiculed in retrospect.


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  • In a commercial for Best Buy's buyback program (where you can trade in your tech for the latest version within a certain length of time) we see a man who has just taken delivery of a big screen 3D TV, the latest and greatest technology of the day, only to notice that the delivery van has a huge ad for the new 4D TVs.

  • In Dave Barry in Cyberspace, Dave jokes that computer companies have spies watching your house so they can release new computer models at the ideal time: immediately after you buy the current model. You may think you can trick them by carrying an empty box into your house and loudly declaring that you just bought a new computer, but that doesn't work. The spies have x-ray goggles.
  • The Dr. Seuss story "The Sneetches" mixes this trope with a struggle between the haves and the have-nots. Initially the star-bellied Sneetches are the upper class of Sneetch society. But when the plain-bellied Sneetches find a way to get stars, the upper crust preserves the class dichotomy by removing their own stars and declaring that the plain-bellied look is now in. The two sides swap their looks so many times that they eventually can't remember which they started out as.

  • Five Iron Frenzy mocks this in their anti-consumerism song "Vultures".
    Did you you see the new computers,
    aren't they oh-so-obsolete?
    And that shade of black you wear,
    it's so Tuesday of last week.
    • Similarly, Pantera mercilessly and angrily criticizes trends in their song "The Great Southern Trendkill"
    Buy it at a store,
    from MTV to on the floor
    You look just like a star,
    it's proof you don't know who you are

    Newspaper Comics 
  • One FoxTrot storyline had Paige and Nicole debating whether to steal a popular CD from the music store, since they don't have enough money to buy it. Paige insists they should just wait until they can buy the CD, but Nicole counters that they need the album now, because the band will be completely passe by the end of the week, if not sooner.
    Paige: There's a definite downside to liking flash-in-the-pan groups.
  • Pearls Before Swine: In the January 22, 2016 strip, Rat buys the Smartphone 6, which just came out that very day. Then the store announces that the Smartphone 7 ("All new features! Faster! Bigger!") is coming out tomorrow.
    Rat: Tech companies are evil.

    Web Video 
  • Scootertrix the Abridged: In episode 11, everypony besides Twilight is suddenly wearing a "winter vest" (with a matching arm band), and will eagerly talk at length about how great these vests are. Twilight isn't interested at all, but she eventually decides to buy a vest anyway, just to stop everyone from bugging her. But when she goes to buy one, Rarity refuses to sell one to her because the vests are already out of fashion.
    Rarity: Well, um, you see, nopony wears the vests anymore because, um, that was yesterday's fashion.
    Twilight: Yesterday's fashion?
    Rarity: Yes.
    Twilight: But, but I...
    Rarity: You need to, uh, you need to keep up with the times, there, Twilight.

    Western Animation 
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy takes this Up to Eleven in the episode that centers around short-lived fads. The kids spend the day coming up with new fads every few minutes, and the Eds desperately try to figure out how to keep up with them.
  • Parodied in King of the Hill by the super-trendy Katt Savage, who makes it her life's calling to be ahead of the pop-culture curve and has a storage room full of fads that stopped being cutting-edge. It leaves her a Stepford Smiler on the verge of a breakdown.
    "See, I follow trends. All of them, no matter what — piercings, colonics, trendy surgeries, online affairs. I've even done some street fighting."