Joe: You're Norma Desmond! You used to be in silent pictures; you used to be big!
Norma: I am big! It's the pictures that got small!You have a Crowning Moment of Awesome in your past. It haunts you. Either your life went downhill, or you continually fail to match or top that moment, or you try coasting on that glory for the rest of your life. One of the classic examples is the stereotypical high school jock who won the big game, and spends the rest of his life in an unsatisfying job. Either he didn't make it in college, or he's treated as a rank-and-file Office Drone in the business world. Later he may inform his miserable children that these are the Best Years of Your Life. Compare I Coulda Been a Contender!, Nostalgia Filter (when a character looks back on the past with rose-tinted glasses), Tough Act to Follow, White-Dwarf Starlet, Jaded Washout (spends his time wishing he was still back there), Loser Protagonist, and Trade Your Passion for Glory. When a character had to leave a dangerous life for a more mundane one, and spends it longing for his glory days, he is in love with being In Harm's Way. If the character is using her children as a vector through which to either achieve what she never did or relive her glory days (instead of letting the kids be who they are), she may become an Education Mama or a Stage Mom. See also Jock Dad, Nerd Son. Contrast While You Were in Diapers.
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Anime and Manga
- Tiger & Bunny has a dark example in Mr. Legend, who after losing his powers became a drunk and an abusive husband and father.
- In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Simon and the rest of the Gurren Brigade find themselves bored out of their minds after the Time Skip. Averted in the Distant Finale, where Simon seems content Walking the Earth.
- The old men from GUN×SWORD. They keep drinking and talking about the glory days in a deceased member's granddaughter's tavern and are chewed out by the other people who don't even believe them. They prove themselves again when an armor attacks their town and they get to show off the El Dorado V. They trump their glory days with more epic moments in the quest to stop the Claw.
- Rumbling Hearts: Hayase Mitsuki, a once-in-a-generation swimming prodigy had the makings of an Olympic-Grade Champion. She leaves it behind to look after her best friend Haruka's boyfriend Takayuki. He is unable to complete high school because of his suicidal depression over Haruka's car-accident induced coma. An accident inadvertently caused by Mitsuki. Three years on, when Haruka awakens, Takayuki leaves Mitsuki behind to restart life where he left it. Mitsuki, now a mere office lady, meets an old-rival who is now an olympic grade champion-swimmer doubly reminding her of the meaninglessness of her sacrifice.
- Cowboy Bebop has a trio of old men (possibly former cowboys) which keep talking of the great days back in their youth.
- In Hoozuki no Reitetsu, Momotaro has become like this. His companions only go along with him because they like him but complain amongst themselves. Hoozuki fixes Momotaro up with a job caring for celestial peaches, and his animal companions find work punishing the spirits of those who were cruel to animals.
- The three main characters of Mei Company were Magical Girl Warriors who were forced to retire from that life when their powers started to wane. Now they run a cleaning service and sometimes reminisce about the days when they were badasses.
- Many nations who were former empires in Axis Powers Hetalia get moments reminiscing about the glory days. The Hot-Blooded Blood Knight Prussia, who spends the entirety of one strip retelling the story of how he became The Leader of the Germanic states and unified Germany, bragging about his awesomeness the entire time. France thinks wistfully about how powerful he was when Napoleon was in charge. England's got a powerful Nostalgia Filter for the days of The British Empire. The Princely Young Man Austria clearly misses his days as a great empire, to the point that he continues acting like one in the present day.
- Silk Spectre sums up her comrades' feelings: "I was a hero, goddamn it!".
- In Nextwave, Monica Rambeau can hardly start a sentence without mentioning how she once led The Avengers.
- Most of the depowered heroes in JLA: Act of God seemed to not be able to get past the days when they were superheroes. Even Supergirl called the past 'The Glory Days'.
- Hector "Heck" Hammarskjold, protagonist of the graphic novel Heck, used to be the high school quarterback, and when he returns home for his father's funeral that's all that people remember about him.
Heck: I'm not that guy any more. And I'm not exactly thrilled that I'm not a star any more, and that I'll never be as interesting or exciting or happy as I was in high school. So stop reminding me of old days and better times.
- In Astro City, invoked by name by a police officer forced to retire — he didn't look up a superhero he had known because he didn't want to be two old men bragging about their glory days. The superhero, who really had retired because he no longer had it, helps him come to grips with it.
- Most Chick Tracts portray the Protestant Reformation as the peak of human civilization, with the Gilded Age (the period between The American Civil War and World War I) as a close second, and an endless downhill slide after that. Writer Jack Chick is a fundamentalist Protestant Christian.
Films — Animated
- Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles. After a forced retirement from his career as a super-hero, he settles down and becomes a typical cubicle dweller. While his wife has adapted to their new circumstances, he is stuck re-living his past glories, a fact which the villain exploits to get Mr. Incredible to unknowingly help him. He is even on the cover of a ''Glory Days''' magazine.
Helen: Risking our family again so you can relive the glory days is a very bad thing!
Bob: Well, reliving the glory days is better than acting like they didn't happen!
- Before he was upstaged by penguins, Dave the octopus from Penguins of Madagascar used to be a star attraction at the Central Park zoo, entertaining crowds with his dexterous antics.
Films — Live-Action
- Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard is convinced that she is still as big a star as she was in the silent film era, even though she hasn't made any films since then.
- Producer David O. Selznick had his greatest hit with Gone with the Wind. He made hits after that, but nothing on the level of that movie. Of course, no one made hits on the level of that movie, ever. Adjusted for inflation, it is to this day the highest-grossing film of all time.
- In Galaxy Quest, the main character suffers from a brief Heroic B.S.O.D. at the beginning, when he overhears someone laughing at the fact that he and his colleagues haven't had an acting role since the titular Star Trek Fictional Counterpart a decade or two earlier.
- Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite is a particularly sorry example of this trope, as he looks back on a football game that he spent warming the bench. He spends all his free time practicing his throw and lamenting that he could have won the game and gone pro if the coach had put him in. He even buys a "time machine" on the Internet so he can go back and change his life.
- Downplayed in Music and Lyrics; whilst former pop-star and professional has-been Alex Fletcher's glory days are well and truly behind him at the beginning of the movie, he is, if not exactly ecstatic with his lot, comfortably resigned to it. Having found some measure of contentment in the low-rent theme-park gigs he does to support himself, he doesn't demonstrate a burning desire to get back to the old days, and seems to have accepted the fact that his glory days are behind him. His main motivation throughout the movie is not getting back on the charts, but ensuring he has a sufficient profile to secure a lucrative contract singing at Disneyland.
- In This Is Spinal Tap, the titular band spend most of the movie actively determined to pretend that the Glory Days aren't well and truly behind them, despite the fact that the crowds and venues are getting noticeably smaller.
- Randy "The Ram" Robinson, the aging, lonely, deteriorating title character of The Wrestler, keeps going back into the ring to recapture as much as he can of the exhilaration and adoration of his heyday in the 1980s, culminating in a "revenge bout" against his in-ring rival, "The Ayatollah", several decades after their original rivalry.
- The end of Goodfellas has Henry lament his boring life in witness protection and flashing to a montage of his glory days as a gangster. It ends with a homage to The Great Train Robbery, implying an association to America's glory days of The Wild West.
- Sam Rothstein laments the old Vegas at the end of Casino.
- Robert De Niro's character in The FAN, to an Axe-Crazy degree.
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were going through this in TMNT, which is odd, since there was no indication from the last movie that things would turn out this way.
- Rocky Balboa was also meant to remedy such a situation caused by Rocky V.
- "Fast" Eddie Felson in The Color of Money. We saw his Glory Days in The Hustler but when The Color Of Money opens, he's a bitter burnout selling booze and ends up working as a stakehorse to a younger player. Subverted when he makes a comeback towards the end of the film.
- Parodied in Hamlet 2; Elizabeth Shue plays herself as a survivor of the Hollywood Hype Machine having decided to quit acting and become a nurse instead. The main character is a huge fan of hers and invites her to the school to give a talk about acting to his drama class — which ends up embarrassing for all concerned, as the kids have no idea who she is.
- One of the main themes in The Turning Point. Emma was once a great dancer, but now she's in her mid-forties and can barely execute a double pirouette. Her old friends Wayne and DeeDee, also once on their way to ballet stardom, abandoned their performing careers shortly after having their first child. And Michael, the artistic director, has devolved from a great choreographer into an administrator.
- Velma Von Tussle from Hairspray will not hesitate to remind you of her supermodel days when she won Miss Baltimore Crabs.
- In The Fighter, Dickie Eklund constantly replays his boxing match where he managed to score a knockdown against Sugar Ray Leonard, despite the fact that Leonard eventually won the match. Everybody gets tired of Dickie constantly talking about the fight and later, he runs into Leonard and Leonard can barely recognize him.
- The World's End: In his teenage years, Gary was the coolest kid in school. Twenty years later, he still hasn't moved on.
- In Pixels, Sam used to be world vice-champion of arcade games. Today, he's fixing electronic installations and still regrets not doing anything with his talents.
- The Documentary Special When Lit features Rick Stetta, the 1991 Pinball World Champion who struggles to cope with his place in a world where pinball is no longer a major cultural influence.
- Wings is about a middle-aged Russian woman stuck in a dull life as a school principal, who can't stop thinking about her exciting youth as a fighter pilot in World War II.
- Tan'elKoth in Blade of Tyshalle literally fits this trope to a T. He used to be a god. As a line points out, his very name was changed to an unwilling admission that he no longer is that being. Hari also longs for the glory days of his career, when he was an unstoppable assassin instead of a paraplegic bureaucrat. See also Orbek's obsession with reviving the Black Knife nation in Caine Black Knife
- One of the main themes in The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar, at least for the characters associated with the secret societies that were crushed in 1825 (the book is set in 1828). The main character's glory days are seemingly still in full swing, but a) he has great and well-founded fear of suffering this trope in the future if he doesn't take some risks and b) while his political and social career has been doing well, he has become increasingly detached from many of his old friends and has also hit a major writer's block, which leads to a lot of regret and nostalgic reminiscing on his part.
- Robert Baratheon in A Song of Ice and Fire longs for the days of the Rebellion, when he was a strong, dashing and popular hero, with a clear enemy to fight and a damsel in distress to rescue. He really hates being king, and he'd give it up in a heartbeat if he could.
- In Game of Thrones, Robert's reminiscing finally causes his brother Renly to snap at him that not everyone enjoyed the rebellion.
- Bavragor Hammerfist from Dwarves. He created some of the finest stonework in the world, before his love of drink took over.
- Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian:
- In the story "A Phoenix On The Sword", Thoth-amon's days when he owned the Ring of Power.
- Conan himself suffers from this in later years:
When I was a fighting man
The kettle drums they beat.
And the people scattered gold dust
At my horse's feet.
But now I am a great king
The people hound my track
With poison in my wine cup
And daggers at my back.
- The Great Gatsby:
- Many characters, but especially Tom Buchanan, who used to be a star football player for Yale. Nick's impression of Tom is as a restless man who goes about his entire life looking for another football game to win.
- Gatsby himself inverts this. He never had such pure happiness in his past, but he's ignoring reality in order to try and make the future glorious and perfect and lovely.
- Subverted in Children of the Lens, last in the Lensman sequence: the surviving crew of the battleship "Dauntless", now top brass, cast off their regalia and revert to their original roles aboard ship of twenty years before in order to re-enter a strange universe and craft the ultimate weapon. They literally get to relive their glory days, even as they are living a second set.
- In The Day of the Locust, Harry Greener is a former vaudeville performer who was never that talented to begin with, but with the decline of both vaudeville and his health, he has been forced to take a job as a door-to-door salesman just to have an outlet to keep performing his shtick in front of increasingly less interested "audiences".
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- A witch in one episode (who didn't see this coming) never got over her glory days as a cheerleader, so forcibly switched places with her daughter to relive "her glory days".
- Buffy has moments of this, at least at the beginning of the show, missing her popular cheerleader days, back when she didn't have to be a slayer.
- Game of Thrones: Robert still lives for the days when he was a powerful and victorious warrior and his beloved Lyanna was still alive. His brother Renly eventually calls him out for glorifying the bloody civil war that ripped the continent apart.
- Star Trek: The Original Series, episode 2x24, "The Ultimate Computer," had Dr. Richard Daystrom who invented the duotronic computer system used on Federation starships when he was 24, and spent the next 25 years trying to recapture that moment of brilliance (leading to the disastrous results of the M-5 computer). However he seems to have made some historical impact, as by the 24th century a prominent scientific institute is named for him.
- Did you know that Al Bundy of Married... with Children once scored four touchdowns in one game of high school football? Al sure wants you to know.
- Illyria, a Cthulu-esque goddess demon from Angel, awakens from millions of years of stasis to find herself trapped in a human body, her cult all but extinct and her armies long since turned to dust. She spends a lot of time moping about how powerful she used to be. It's actually quite poignant to see how she deals with the modern world.
- In NCIS, it's amazing that Ducky has even had the time to experience all the things he's always rambling on about. He's not that old...
- A running gag in Babylon 5 with the Centauri Republic in general and Londo Mollari in particular, leading to an in-universe Lightbulb Joke:
Q: How many Centauri does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Just one... but in the glory days of the Republic, hundreds of servants would change thousands of lightbulbs at our every whim!
- The main theme of The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine", in which aging actress Barbara Jean Trenton longs for the days when she and her friends were young, beautiful stars. Her inability to accept the reality in which they have grown old and moved on to other professions is so profound that at the end of the episode, she enters the world of one of her films so that she can remain young and beautiful forever.
- Highlander actually has an episode called "Glory Days", where Joe Dawson, who was the star quarterback of the high school football team, meets up with the head cheerleader he'd once dated. He gets depressed because he lost his legs in Vietnam, and doesn't think she'll like him, that he's 'damaged goods' (she was actually married anyway, but she does reassure him that he isn't damaged). Meanwhile, Mac is targeted by a former mobster immortal who's depressed and unhappy and wants Mac dead for instigating the 'death' that got him kicked out of the mob back in the 30s.
- On Glee, Terry accuses Schuester of obsessing over the Glee club in order to revive his Glory Days from high school.
- As part of its Biting-the-Hand Humor, 30 Rock likes to make fun of the fact that NBC's last glory days were in the 1990s. In one episode, Jack reveals this pie chart◊.
- The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "King of the Lake", the father of the Victim of the Week is a former Olympian whose career was cut short and who is attempting to relive his glory days through his son's athletic success.
- Deconstructed in Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days". The song describes a group of high school classmates who were really big deals at the time, but have since gone nowhere in life, so they get together, get drunk and reflect on their high school days to feel better about themselves.
- Also deconstructed in U2's "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of".
- Bryan Adams' "Summer of 69", by way of employing Nostalgia Filter. "Those were the best days of my life."
- Mike Oldfield - After the surprisingly huge success of his debut album "Tubular Bells", he tried to reproduce it again, again and again to save his decreasing popularity, which didn't help much. Nor did completely re-recording it.
- The Bowling for Soup song "1985" is about a woman who misses her youth back in the 80's.
- The Bob Seger hit "Like a Rock" features a man reminiscing about his youth. In fact, much of Seger's oeuvre fits this trope.
- Dave Mustaine has never got over being kicked out of Metallica, not even after 30 years of his own successful band Megadeth. There are numerous Megadeth songs that refer to it, such as "This Was My Life", "Captive Honor" and "Don't Turn Your Back" just to name a few. Mustaine rejoined Metallica onstage and made it clear he really wants to do an album with Metallica. Metallica themselves view him as ancient history.
- Daniel Amos's "Memory Lane" (from Doppelgänger) is a warning about spending too much time reminiscing over the past:
You have gotten much thinner
You're lookin' like a shadow
It's from dwelling on the might-have-beens
Living in a time-warp
To whom am I speaking?
Some ghost from the past?
While you think about old glories
You're fading real fast
- Many mythologies (and modern religions as well) espouse a belief in a glorious past age where humankind and the world existed in a kind of "perfect" state. The usual trend of this belief is that due to some kind of sin, both humanity and the world have "fallen"; the result is the present age, which is often seen as more corrupt and miserable. Most of said mythologies emphasize an attempted return to the "perfect" pre-fallen state, either figuratively or literally.
- Jason from the Argonautica met his end because of his obsession with his glory days. After Jason's lack of faith to Medea destroyed his life, he found himself years later on the beach where the hulk of his old ship the Argo lay. As he sat reminiscing about his adventure, the rotting prow of the Argo fell on him and killed him.
Many, many sports teams or cities have this trope, particularly in sports with promotion and relegation where messing up can well mean the team getting passed down to the third or fourth division with countless former champions never making it back. There is also a surprising number of washed up former pro sports stars in real life, many of them nursing the effects of one too many injuries and some broke because they never learned to handle money or never made as much as you'd think to begin with.
- Schalke 04 is a good team to this day (though they've had their slumps and even relegations) but they're still longing for the glory days of the Schalker Kreisel (basically 1930s tiki-taka) when they'd reach the final more often than not and could dominate their competition with ease. Their last championship dates to 1958 (before the Bundesliga was founded) and their last measurable success that wasn't "second place in..." was the 1997 win of the UEFA-Cup.
- The 1. FC Nürnberg used to dominate soccer in Germany in the 1920s, sometimes sending six players to the national squad with their arch-rival Fürth supplying the other five (there were no substitutions back then) but ever since they followed the 1968 championship with relegation the following year, fans have had to hold on to grainy black and white pictures of days long past and dream of names half-forgotten by others if they want to see a Nuremberg squad actually winning something. They did win the DFB-Pokal in 2007 but got relegated in 2008 - naturally.
- The Cleveland Browns started out as one of the hottest names in Football. Than they were merged into the NFL and still good. Then the AFL-NFL merger happened and they still were a power to be reckoned with in the playoffs (albeit with Every Year They Fizzle Out tendencies) then the Cleveland Browns relocation controversy happened and what has haunted the league since 1999 can only be described as a punchline for the saddest joke to ever torture the good citizens of Cleveland.
- Warhammer 40,000 has a few examples:
- The Eldars used to have galaxy-spanning empires which imploded with the birth of Slaanesh, and reduced to a Dying Race who can never return to their home worlds (which now lie in the midst of the Eye of Terror). It helps that the Eldars still maintain their supreme arrogance and superiority complex, wanting to put the other younger races to their place and reclaim their former glory.
- Humanity themselves had the Dark Age of Technology, where mankind created anything that could have been created and rapidly colonized the known space. Then the Age of Strife happened, throwing everything to the crapper. Fortunately for the humanity, after the Age of Strife came the rise of The Emperor and The Imperium of Mankind, which led to the second Glory Days of the Great Crusade. With Space Marine Legions backed with mighty war machines fighting as the Imperium's basic troops, nothing could hope to stand in The Imperium's way. Then the Horus Heresy happened, and everything went to an even deeper crapper than before, and The Imperium has been repeatedly described as 'rotting' or 'decaying' ever since.
- Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman is so obsessed with his glory days that he occasionally flashes back to them. Whether or not the glory days actually had that much glory in them, or if Willy and his son are re-imagining the past is an important part of the story.
- That Championship Season is about an all grown up Six Student Clique who long for the simplicity of their youth, even though some of them are now successful (though their success is built on rotten foundations).
- Guybrush at the start of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. After he beat LeChuck in the first game he had a great life, but people were expecting more and eventually he lost Elaine and people forgot about him. This one of the factors motivating him to find the Big Whoop.
- Langdon Ricketts of Red Dead Redemption. He clearly misses the old days and refers to himself as an old relic sitting around Chuparosa as some 'low-rent would be messiah.'
- Actual yakuza said that Kiryu in the Yakuza series embodies the kind of noble spirit that they no longer see in their members anymore.
- The Dwarves in Dragon Age. Due to the Darkspawn having overrun the Deep Roads that once connected their Thaigs together, their great Empire that once spanned Thedas has been reduced to just two remaining cities, separated by thousands of miles. While the Surface Dwarves and Casteless are fully aware of their glory days being a long-distant memory, the Noble Castes refuse to admit it and insist on acting like they're still living them.
- Two are mentioned in Tears to Tiara 2. The Canaanites and the people of Hispania under legendary king Eshmun. Laelius mentions that The Empire has seen much better days and he's determined to return it to its former glory.
- Captain Qwark is implied to be this throughout the Ratchet & Clank series, particularly when his adventurous youth is shown in the third game as backstory. After that he sided with the villains on several occasions and was even the big bad for the second game to kickstart his big comeback, and is generally much more cowardly. However while he is called out by the cognizant characters such as Ratchet and a disgruntled fan, the general populace is generally forgiving of the captain, his tumultuous turn as galactic president aside.
- In Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, it turns out Commander Badass doesn't worry about these.
"Cool thing about actively tryin' t' be a better person is y' never gotta pine over yer glory days 'cause yer always th' best version of yerself."
- What brought this speech on is that Lord Zedd does that: people nicknamed him 'Al Bundy'.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, after Agarwaen becomes the king of Manster, he gradually grows bored with his kingly duties and yearns for the days when he was a free adventurer.
- In Survival of the Fittest, it's often argued that Version 1 was the glory days of the board, and that people preferred the old system. This was subverted in a thread on the board in which both V1 and V2 were criticised - V1 for being too spontaneous and for a lesser writing quality, and V2 for being overplanned. To quote the Admin of the site, "for the most part, V3's found a good mix of both planning and spontaneity". Read the thread here.
- The main theme of There Will Be Brawl. Mario, Link, and a few other characters in particular seem to have taken it hard.
- The Best Page in the Universe was one of the most talked about websites of the Web 1.0 era. His attempts to translate his old popularity into YouTube popularity haven't fared well, as his real persona doesn't match well with his over the top troll style used in the writing that made him popular back then.
- Camp Lazlo: on the episode "Dead Bean Drop", Slinkman, of all people misses his days as a death-defying daredevil, but he seems to have shoved it into the back of his mind over the years until Lazlo, Clam, and Raj find out and begin talking about it nonstop. He apparently moves past it when after fifteen years of having quit, he manages to jump the titular cliff, and it is never mentioned again.
- His inability to let it go was probably because he failed his final stunt; Turns out Lumpus sabotaged him out of petty envy. It's this that causes Slinkman to try once more, this time with Lumpus riding as well. He gets him to apologize and succeds in jumping.
- Chowder has the episode "Big Food" regarding Chowder coming across the legendary Big Food, a now washed up Grand Dame actress based a lot upon Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.
Big Food: I am Big Food, it's the refrigerators that got small.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone", Gilda's grandfather is stuck in the days when the kingdom of Griffonstone was a mighty nation instead of a dump.
- The Renaissance saw Ancient Rome as the Glory Days of mankind, hence the popularity of the term "Dark Age Europe" and "Medieval Morons". Petrarch even said "What else, then, is all history, but the praise of Rome?" In the Victorian and Romantic era, The Renaissance was seen as Europe's true Glory Days with its achievements in exploration, science, philosophy and art seen as the Dawn Of A New Era. Needless to say, Victorian, Romantic, Modernist and 60s Art movements are all seen and invoked the same way.
- The United States, Great Britain, Russia, and China all, to some extent, see World War II this way. Germany, Italy, and Japan usually see it as their Old Shame, though in the case of Japan, they sometimes play it straight by denying war crimes. The feelings are more mixed in Eastern Europe, where the violence and horror of Nazi occupation is coupled with resentment and anger at the Soviet Union's post-war hegemony over their nations.
- It's also a great deal more mixed in France with the Vichy Occupation and surrender still invoked as their national shame. Needless to say, there is very little nostalgia among Jews and holocaust survivors for these days.
- During World War II, the period in which German U-boats enjoyed the upper hand against the British and later the Americans was called "the Happy Times." The first period lasted from roughly mid-1940 to late 1941, with the second period (consisting of German attacks on the American East Coast) lasting from January to August 1942. Once the battle shifted against the Germans, these became replaced with "the Sour Pickle Time"; by then, German crews had no more fun going out into the Atlantic.
- The pre-American Civil War South for the Neo-Confederates who evoked the genteel Antebellum Era and its decline as "tragic".
- African-Americans, pro-Union and pro-Reconstruction historians needless to say feel very differently about this time period. For them, the Civil War is "the Second American Revolution" that actually corrected the hypocrisy of the Founding Fathers and in Lincoln's words, "a new birth to freedom".
- Moderate Republicans likewise lament the party of Lincoln's drift to the Right, nostalgic for the time when they were America's progressive left-wing party. Non-partisan historians admit that this was the Republican Party's finest era when its radical-moderate coalition and two Presidents (Lincoln and Grant), expanded the Industrial Revolution across America, radically increased democratic rights and during Reconstruction, crushed the Ku Klux Klan before the end of Grant's tenure led to the enforcement of Jim Crow and the counter-revolution.
- The Great Depression and World War II, under the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, was called the "Greatest Generation" by Tom Brokaw. This was a period when the US government heavily invested in public works across America, the last time leftist and radical politics were truly effective in the mainstream and where after the uncertainty of Depression, America ended up becoming the pre-eminent global superpower.
- Some see communist Russia as this (one aspect of Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell). In the words of historian J. Arch Getty: For a surprising number of people today in the former Soviet Union, the terror does not wholly negate achievements such as universal literacy, one of the best technological-education systems in the world, the first man in space, free education and health care, and security in old age.
- Russians also invoke the Glory Days of Peter the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Catherine the Geat and the long 19th Century from Napoleon's Invasion to the Russian Japanese War mostly because it was the Golden Age of Russian letters (Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov). This was also the era of the end of serfdom, the failed Decembrist uprising and early attempts at liberalism. There's also a lot of nostalgia for Russian Formalism and The Soviet Twenties, mostly because it was the Golden Age for Soviet cinema.
- There's quite a bit of this in the other European ex-communist countries. However, the difference is that some see the communist era as the Glory Days, while others see the pre-communist era as such (which is also rather problematic since almost all of these countries were dictatorships in the pre-1945 period).
- Especially notable is the countries that formerly comprised Yugoslavia. Tito, the strongman who dominated the country for most of its history, was a savvy politician who managed to prevent Russia from taking direct control of Yugoslavia's operations. This spared his people many of the abuses that other Soviet satellites experienced. This, as well as his success at suppressing internal conflict between ethnic groups (much more impressive given the conflicts of the 90's), makes many Balkan people nostalgic for his rule.
- Some Eastern and Central European countries go even further back, in sharp contrast to their less-than-stellar experiences in the 20th Century. Whether it's memories of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth or the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
- For England, there are multiple contenders:
- Among nationalists and conservatives and liberal-centrists, The British Empire, which properly "began" with victory over Napoleon in 1815 and saw Great Britain as undisputed world superpower through the Victorian Era and The Edwardian Era, are often evoked as this for England. Natually the residents of ex-colonies, and some in the metropole consider the methods used to acquire and keep the Empire as nothing to brag about and are quite glad to see the back of it. But the English still long for the days when they, and not America, were the global superpower. note WW2.
- Likewise, the English consider World War II their "finest hour" in Winston Churchill's phrase. For them mobilization against the Blitz before the United States and Russia got involved, even after France surrendered is the summit of English resolve.
- For socialists and left-wingers, the post-war era under Clement Atlee which led to the rise of the NHS and other social works organizations was the glorious period. On a cultural level, nearly all English people long for such triumphs as the age of Elizabeth I and the English Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution and Victorian Britain, the Romantic movement and The '60s.
- France is fairly polarized on what they think of as glorious eras. Indeed the French longing for "la gloire" is often seen by critical Frenchmen as its Fatal Flaw.
- The reign of Louis XIV is often invoked as the height of French hegemony across Europe, many associate his court with Molière, versailles and several other artistic awakenings. Napoleon Bonaparte is likewise invoked for much the same reason, not least because he took France to its greatest territorial extent, won its most innovative military victories and essentially altered the map of the world.
- For the less imperial minded, The French Revolution is this, though this era is still fairly controversial within France with the bicentennial celebrations in 1989 being fairly muted and divisive. Nonetheless, Frenchmen credit the ideals of the revolution for laying the foundation of the Republic and for establishing democracy, universal franchise, equal rights for minorities and inspiring every national revolution across the world. Frenchmen also celebrate later revolutions such as July Revolution, 1848 while communists, artists and radicals celebrate/mourn the 1871 Commune, and of course May '68.
- On a cultural level, touchstones include the reign of Francis I, the era of Cardinal Richelieu, The Enlightenment (which largely happened in France, though coinciding with a period of decline in French royal authority), Impressionism, Surrealism and Dadaism. Likewise, the Belle Epoque is often invoked with Rose Tinted Narrative not only in France but by Americans and Englishmen as well.
- The '60s is this for nearly all First-World nations. For the French this was the period of "Les trente glorieuses", post-war existentialism and the French New Wave and Chanson. For the English, this was the era of British Invasion and the rise of working-class English culture into the mainstream. For the Americans, this decade is marred by the Vietnam War but they nonetheless enjoy the triumph of the Civil Rights Movement, feminism, gay rights and the sexual revolution.
- Some professional athletes attempt to forestall the end of their careers trying to prove they can still play at the same level despite the drop off in skills.
- Germany is a little wary of national pride for understandable reasons but nonetheless some Germans do have a quiet and modest pride in their past:
- Consensually, such events as the Protestant Reformation (which spread literacy and withered the power of the Catholic Church), the Sturm-Und-Drang phase of the Enlightenment and Romantic era and the age of German classical music and opera is very much this. Likewise, The Weimar Republic is invoked for its progressive values, caberet culture, modernist literature and theatre, architecture and German Expressionism in film. Modern Germans celebrate the Economic Miracle of The '50s, and the Reunification of Germany.
- The notion of Glory Days got soiled thanks to the selective interpretation of glory on the part of the NSDAP following the country's defeat in World War I. Hitler ended up becoming enamored with the groups belief, and after ascending the ranks, the Nazi Party would be formed. For them glory was a selective mishmash of Arminius victory over Augustus at the Teutoberg Forest, the era of Frederick The Great, Richard Wagner and Otto von Bismarck which has unfortunately tainted the fairly distinct and unrelated associations these events have with German culture. Then agian, most real-world fascist movements express this trope in their rhetoric, generally The Theme Park Version or with Historical Hero Upgrade / Historical Villain Upgrade.
- Many people who leave the military have this mindset, especially if they were combat arms and did something heroic. Special Operations guys get it particularly hard, because after they leave the job, there are dozens of reasons why they can never be a world class Made of Iron badass ever again. It's also really difficult to go from having a direction, a purpose, and camaraderie in the military to suddenly having to make your own way as a civilian. If you want to keep a hold of your badassery, you won't be able to; you'll have neither the money nor the time nor the facilities to keep your body in shape and your skills sharp.
- Many retired former actors and celebrities like to watch videos of their old heydays of success.
- Losing the limelight and falling out of public acclaim can do terrible things to a former star, especially if they were psychologically fragile to begin with. The trauma of former England football star Paul Gascoigne, who slumped into alcoholism and psychosis when struggling to build a meaningful post-football life, is well documented. Frank Bruno, briefly a British world heavyweight boxing champion, also fell into mental illness after retiring. And it even happens to glamour girls: the decline and fall of Jane Warner is described on this page, and is not a pretty story.
- Many individual people see their high school and/or college years as this for themselves, particularly if they excelled at academics or sports during that time.