Grandfather Clause

"This comes as no surprise: It's a cliché that Superman's glasses are the most laughably ineffective costume ever, but who cares? Changing that part of the mythos would be like taking the stars off the American flag. So screw Suspension of Disbelief: Superman predates it. He's got a free pass to be wearing the same completely unbelievable disguise 70 years later." (on why Superman continues to get away with Clark Kenting)

A character uses a trope which may be cliche, discredited or even dead at this point, but is allowed because it's tied into the character's legacy. Using the trope during the creation of any more recent character however, is noticeably avoided. If the character's use of the trope slowly starts to disappear, they may have outgrown it.

It has a high chance of occurring with "classic" characters, but not necessarily their sidekicks. This usually happens with tropes that the character is tightly tied into, making it difficult to separate them from it, and where the basic idea of the trope isn't so stupid that the fans will be turned off by it. Attempting to take away one of these tropes may force the character into a Dork Age, or at least necessitate an Author's Saving Throw. Compare to The Artifact, where it seems like the creators have misgivings about them. If an outdated trope or concept is met with disdain later in its life rather than allowance, then it's Seinfeld Is Unfunny.

No relation to the Grandfather Paradox.

See The Other Wiki article here.


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  • Serendipity Writes the Plot can mesh with this trope fairly often. Sure, if the same work were created more recently, the director probably would have taken advantage of better special effects technology or whatever. But the results of the old limitations frequently end up an inseparable part of the work anyway.
  • The Coconut Effect: It would be very easy to record real horses... but people are so used to the sound of coconut halves banged together that it wouldn't be recognized for what it was and would "sound wrong." It's also believed that having Foley artists create every sound effect for each work it's used in is more efficient than having to maintain a massive library of pre-recorded effects.
  • The lack of feathers on dinosaurs (or at least the ones that would have feathers) in media is probably because of tradition and the fact that that is how most people think of dinosaurs in spite of later scientific evidence. Ditto the presence of cavemen alongside dinosaurs in fiction (most notably The Flintstones), despite millions of years separating them. Or dinosaurs separated by millions of years coexisting. Humans and Tyrannosaurus rex are separated by 65 million years. Stegosaurus lived from 150-155 million years ago. In other words, it's less accurate to show T-rex battling steggy (85 million year gap) than T-rex chomping some humans (65 million year gap), and no one cares because of Rule of Cool.
  • The Standard Fantasy Setting—elves, dwarves, wizards and/or orcs chilling in an eternally Medieval universe—has been parodied and deconstructed to Hell and back over the last few decades, to the point that no original works can get away with playing it straight anymore. The only new works safe from mockery are adaptations of beloved classics (like the Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia films), or the newest installments in long-running franchises (like the Elder Scrolls and Warcraft games, and the various works carrying the Dungeons & Dragons name). If a work doesn't fall into either of those two categories, the writers better be willing to either subvert the formula or introduce some original concepts if they want to have any hope of being taken seriously.


     Anime and Manga 
  • Another example of Clark Kenting: most Magical Girls can't get away without at least tinting their hair and parting it differently nowadays, but people actually complained that Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon made the girls look different when de-transformed, because the original Sailor Moon didn't do it. Of course, this problem doesn't exist in series where magical girls don't have secret identities to begin with. The original English dub of the anime did their best to Hand Wave by banking on the familiarity of the audience with superhero logic, explaining their civilians selves (look different) from their transformed selves.
    • Older Than They Think: The original manga has Sailor Moon and friends wear MASKS, albeit only when someone could see them.

     Comic Books 
  • Clark Kenting in its original use is a major example, and tends to remain an iron-clad disguise that fools everyone. Although it has been handwaved in various ways, most of us just accept it after 75 years of Superman. Most superheroes created in the last twenty years have to maintain a more realistic disguise, especially since lately the chance of someone being a superhero seems much higher. It helps that most modern ongoing continuities go out of their way to have at least one incident where Clark Kent and Superman are seen together with the help of shapeshifting friends like Martian Manhunter. Meanwhile, the Daily Planet and its way of running business becomes more and more antiquated as media evolve in the real world. Richard Donner, director of the first Superman movie, commented in an interview that in said film Clark Kent was originally going to work at a television news station like he did at the time in the comics, but they went with him as a newspaper reporter because it was much more a part of the public consciousness. This has been helped by many news companies going digital and various locations still selling newspapers.
  • Domino Masks are another paper-thin disguise that some heroes still use despite offering little with which to disguise themselves. Robin and Green Lantern are probably the most well-known examples.
  • Robin is the only straight-up Kid Sidekick left in The DCU. This is usually justified as balancing out Batman's inner darkness, although the fourth incarnation of Robin, Damian Wayne, may very well be darker than Batman. However, the death of Damian (similar to the death of Jason Todd before him) has reintroduced the fundamental problem of the Kid Sidekick.
  • Underoos on the outside have fallen out of style for super heroes since the '60s. The DCU seems to have done away with them as of the New 52, though, as have most film adaptations.
  • Superheroes Wear Capes: The oldest characters, despite some writers' attempts, have kept their capes because they've become iconic. Superman's brief cape-less split into two energy beings was met with fan scorn. While some members of the Batman family are capeless, Batman himself uses his cape as an instrument of his intimidation as well as theatricality and defense. Newer characters are often cape-less, moreso in Marvel than DC.
  • Green Lanterns do not always have a weakness to yellow things, but Sinestro just wouldn't be Sinestro without a yellow ring that is strangely effective against them. This has since been justified with the retconned existence of a spectrum of emotion (Red: Rage, Orange: Greed, Yellow: Fear, Green: Willpower, Blue: Hope, Indigo: Compassion, Violet: Love). He and the rest of the Sinestro Corps are literally using fear as a weapon. This leads to a lesser-known retcon. Green Lanterns used to be selected because they were men without fear. However, if current GL's didn't experience fear at some level, then Sinestro's ring would be useless against them unless there were others around whom Sinestro could manipulate.
  • Doctor Doom just wouldn't be Doctor Doom if he didn't refer to himself as "Doom" all the time. And besides, if your name was "Dr Victor von Doom", wouldn't you do it too?
  • Any character whose origin involves exposure to radiation. For new characters, Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke. Spider-Man is the main exception, since "bitten by an unnatural spider" was the main point and whether the spider was radioactive or genetically modified (or appointing him as the avatar of the spider totem) didn't really matter. Likewise, the movie version of the Incredible Hulk averts this somewhat by combining radiation with several other factors — the gamma rays only break down his cells, the Nanomachines try to repair them, and his genes weren't really normal to begin with. Peter Parker's job as a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle has also been under fire in the past decade, with the rise of cameras and video in phones as well as the decline in the print media industry. Recent adaptations feature this aspect of the character less and less and those that do are largely done so because of the legacy with a bit of lampshade hanging for fun.
  • The Martian Manhunter in DC Comics (and especially Justice League) is a man from Mars. Advancing science discredited early 19th and 20th century ideas of Mars having canals and civilization (though microbial life looks probable), but the character's backstory remains largely unchanged. Some continuities attempt to address this issue by establishing that J'onn is from the distant past of Mars (before the planet became uninhabitable), but still give dates far too recent to make the idea scientifically plausible.
  • Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon is a Yellow Peril character who could never be created nowadays, but while various adaptations have made him white or green, they never can completely hide his origins, if only because they can't get rid of his obviously Chinese name. Witness how the attempt by the Sci-Fi Channel series to "modernize" him backfired ridiculously. Something a bit similar applies to many other supervillains like Iron Man's The Mandarin. Now and then people try to make them more presentable, but usually they revert to type pretty soon.
  • Some characters rely on using an Iconic Item to be identified, like the Fourth Doctor's scarf, or Indiana Jones' hat; however, when said character has a Limited Wardrobe it becomes an Outdated Outfit by 20 or so years after their debut, like Jimmy Olsen's bow tie (Clark Kent did eventually ditch the fedora). Especially egregious if the series is set in the "present day". An especially bad case of this is the Swedish army-farce 91:an Karlsson, which started in 1932. The title character's blue uniform was outdated already at start (resembling the uniform the author wore when he served) and has been kept largely the same ever since, despite changes to camo since then. Especially egregious as all other characters have switched uniforms pretty much at the same pace as their counterparts IRL. The famous Jughead Jones of Archie Comics still wears a stylized version of an old-time inverted fedora beanie as his trademark hat. This was actually a fashion among teens and mechanics of the 1940s (when the character debuted), but has since been something that just makes him a stand-out kook.
  • The Mexican comic character Memin Pinguin falls under blackface in modern times, but due to its popularity and impact in popular culture since being created in 1945, it is accepted there. Also do notice that even nowadays political correctness on racial issues isn't such a big deal in Mexico.
  • The Marvel family's transformation phrase probably falls under this. Back when the series was created, comics were brightly coloured and silly and everyone had fun. Now that comics are a serious medium and not really appropriate for kids, seeing modern characters yell 'Shazam' in huge dramatic letters might be narm if it weren't for this... and the fact that lightning bolts never stop being cool.
  • It would be extremely difficult to make an unironic hyper-patriotic American character and present him as a paragon of virtue and heroism and be taken seriously today. Captain America pulls it off, though, because he has the weight of history on his side (in more ways than one). It helps that his patriotism has been tested and modified into his famous motto, "I am loyal to nothing... except the [American] Dream." Another point is that Captain America is not loyal to the American government; his patriotism isn't "My Country, Right or Wrong". If America decided to sponsor an anti-democratic coup somewhere, he'd not help (and might hinder) its efforts, because democracy is considered an American value.
  • For that matter, the "boy scout" hero in general is virtually extinct — except when used as a joke — aside from Captain America, Superman, and Captain Marvel, to the point where every hero is so messed up and their motivations so personal and complicated that the idea of heroes who are heroes just because they're decent people who don't want to waste their great power has become unique and thought-provoking in-universe.
  • Tights in general. Modern superheroes still tend to wear them, but outside of comic books and animation, most adaptations will attempt to get around them unless the outfit is so iconic that the character is drastically altered without it. For example, compare Spider-Man's outfit versus that of the villains in the first two Spider-Man Trilogy films. While Spidey sports a colorful, comic-accurate design, the Green Goblin has a suit of military body armor, and Doctor Octopus just wears a duster. Some characters, such as Batman, have their tights altered into a hardened suit of armor so that the character will continue to seem intimidating.
  • Similar to tights: legless leotards on superheroines. Save for characters whose design are specifically intended as a call-back to traditional superhero outfits, vary rarely do new female superheroes wear leg-baring outfits due to how impractical and uncomfortable that actually would be, at the very least without some form of Lampshade Hanging. However, older superheroines tend to keep the look since its so iconic to them, with Wonder Woman being the most notable example. While some AUs give her pants, she generally keeps the bathing-suit look since its so iconic.
  • Ditto for Underwear of Power, as mentioned above. It still shows up in the comics on the more iconic characters, but you'll almost never see it used in films anymore. Look at the iconic designs for Batman, Superman, Wolverine, and The Vision. Now compare them to their designs in The Dark Knight Saga, Man of Steel, the X-Men movies, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Even when the costumes are relatively close to the comics, there's absolutely no Underoos.
  • In Spirou and Fantasio, Spirou wore a ridiculous old-fashioned bellhop uniform for decades, even though it had been a long time since he actually worked as a bellhop. Modern version of the comic tend to avert, justify or lampshade this, though: for example, in Le Petit Spirou strip comic we find out that Spirou already wore a bellhop uniform when he was a small child, and his mom, dad, and grandpa wear it too, and even his teddy bear and fish, though the reason for this family tradition is never really explained.
  • One of the main jokes in Brazilian comic Monica's Gang is the protagonist being pestered by her male friends... even though in recent years it would be considered bullying (though the reply is what you would expect when bullying a Pintsized Powerhouse with a Hair-Trigger Temper). It possibly only remains without complaint from the Moral Guardians because the comic has been running since the 1960s.
  • A superhero created today using a costume-themed vehicle and gadgets would come off as lame and ridiculous except for a parody. Batman, however, is one of the few remaining superheroes that retains costume-themed vehicles and equipment due to him using them since near his beginning. There have been attempts to make the Batmoblies less gimmicky, such as the seventies' ones being Batman-colored stock muscle cars and the Tumbler from The Dark Knight Saga, but even these retain some bat themes to them.
  • Averted Trope For The Lulz in the wardrobe of Spanish comic-book Mortadelo y Filemón: Sometimes complete strangers mock Filemón for wearing a bowtie, but he still uses it. Mortadelo's frock coat is part of the joke: Mortadelo, a veritable master of disguise, can wear whatever he wants - but his default choice is a ridiculously old-fashioned suit that emphasizes his physical defaults (baldness, lankiness). Word of God insists that Mortadelo's clothes were already obsolete in his first appearance - so the effect they cause in modern audiences is exactly the intended effect they were to cause in 1950s audiences.
  • The Phantom is one of the few works of fiction which is still published that gets away with playing Mighty Whitey completely straight. The Phantom family have lived in sub-Saharan Africa for 21 generations, but all members of the family are still lily-white and there is no indication that any Phantom married a native woman. Also, the Phantom is always smarter and tougher than anyone else, several traditional contests among the jungle tribes are to see which challenger comes in second behind the Phantom. That said, the portrayals of Africans has become a lot better since the early days of the comic.

  • Not many film franchises go on long enough for this to kick in. Up until the later Pierce Brosnan films, however, it was in full force for James Bond — we knew the premises were ridiculous, the baddies were Card Carrying Villains, the sexual politics were absurd and the Bond One Liners were worthy of an enormous Collective Groan... that's the point. It's James Bond, as formulaic as it seems. Then the late 90s incarnations flipflopped between Darker and Edgier and tongue-in-cheek Indecisive Parody, Die Another Day collapsed under the weight of its own Continuity Porn, and the Continuity Reboot kicked the whole thing squarely into part post-Bourne part novel Bond (though as of Skyfall, the series is reinstating much of the old mainstays, including the slightly comedic tone).
  • This trope is why the only people who get a pass for using an Adolf Hitler mustache are Charlie Chaplin and Oliver Hardy (in fact, a case can be made that Chaplin wore it first and Hitler merely popularized it). Unless, of course, an actor is deliberately parodying Hitler, which has become a lot more tolerable in recent decades but is often still frowned upon. Though Barty Crouch in Harry Potter got away with it, mostly because it's described as a "toothbrush mustache" rather than a "Hitler mustache," so a lot of people probably didn't realize what his mustache looked like. As evidence of that, people were quick to make Hitler comparisons with the movie version of the character.
  • Jurassic Park: In the years since the first Jurassic Park came out, new scientific discoveries have changed the accepted look of many dinosaurs, most notably with the fact that theropods such as T. rex and Velociraptor had feathers. However, Jurassic World hadn't changed the dinosaurs to fit these new discoveries in order to keep them in line with their looks in the previous films. This is even invoked and justified in-universe, with Dr. Wu pointing out that the park's animals are genetic hybrids built from various creatures rather than 'real' dinosaurs, and that they were designed to be marketable crowd-pleasers that matched the public perception of dinosaurs rather than scientifically-accurate representations of the actual animals.

  • The Otakon LARP has a rule that only Anime characters are allowed. Plus Final Fantasy characters. They were allowed when the LARP first opened, and while the rules have tightened up against any other video games, Final Fantasy is allowed on the strength of tradition.

  • A number of old Sci-Fi stories retain some energy in their now old and tired plot devices by presenting them with an innocent earnestness from the time when they were new inventions. This one, for instance.
  • It would be hard to imagine someone less renowned than Agatha Christie getting a pass with modern readers when so many Unfortunate Implications are in her works. Christie toned it down later in life, but her personal prejudices clearly made it into her writing, and indeed sometimes become part of the charm. When reading her novels, watch for characters who aren't blueblooded but are trying to pass as high class; shortlist them.
  • Gilgamesh of The Epic of Gilgamesh gets a free pass to use many of the most stereotypical and overused tropes and cliches all in one main character. Why? Because in many cases he is the Ur-Example (well Uruk example technically) of the tropes. No author today would get away with combining them all together in one character, but with him it just comes off as awesome.

     Live Action TV 
  • Many aspects of Doctor Who — both new and old — do this. From Timey-Wimey Ball to Space Is Magic to Planet of Hats to Limited Wardrobe...and the list just keeps going on. Nostalgia is one thing Doctor Who has in abundance, and they have no intention of giving it up. Most iconic must be the TARDIS exterior "disguise" as an old police telephone box of the sort which has long since become obsolete now the police use two-way radios or mobile phones to communicate, though it was at times justified by the "chameleon circuit" used to generate a disguise getting stuck. The box has now become more synonymous with the show than its original usage.
    The Doctor: "Every time the TARDIS materializes in a new location, within the first nanosecond of landing it analyzes its surroundings, calculates a twelve-dimensional data map of everything within a thousand mile radius and determines which outer shell would blend in better with the environment... and then it disguises itself as a police telephone box from 1963."
    • Jack Harkness' WWII-era Iconic Outfit is an in-canon example of this — though we do first meet up with Jack in the '40s, he's actually from the 51st century. Though he wears more modern clothing for the rest of series 1, after his return two years later and into his spinoff, Torchwood he keeps his braces and greatcoat. ("Period military is not the dress of a straight man.") In a flashback to British India in 1909, he wears the uniform of a British Army captain of that era.
    • Doctor Who's extreme and distracting You Look Familiar right from the very early days - such as having Peter Purves play both a Wacky Wayside Tribe Eaglelander and the new companion Steven Taylor in the same story for no reason, or by having a prison guard who shoots the Fifth Doctor go on to play the Sixth Doctor - allowed it to carry on doing this in the new show, even though the No Budget that made this forgivable in the Classic days has been expanded to a level that this casting would be considered laughable. For instance, (since 2005) two companions so far (Martha and Amy) and the Twelfth Doctor) have been played by actors who first showed up in one-shot roles.
  • Today, by virtue of being a superhero, The Lone Ranger is the only western hero who can get away with all the more outrageous Western cliches such as wearing a white hat, riding a white horse, or Blasting It out of Their Hands without irony.
  • Stargate SG-1: Stargate Command eventually advanced its technology to the point when it would be possible to retire Engaging Chevrons, but by that point it became a tradition (and in "Heroes", it was mentioned that the personnel liked Walter doing his job).
    • Stargate Atlantis, by virtue of being a new show, had a chance for a fresh start and didn't use it — which was, of course, given a Lampshade Hanging in the very first episode.
  • Actual Sentai series, such as Super Sentai or Power Rangers, are the only shows allowed to use the "Super Sentai" Stance with any attempt at seriousness. Any other work that tries to use the stance had better be lampshading or making fun of it unless the producers want viewers to cry foul.
  • Star Trek gets far more leeway than almost any other non-parody sci-fi show with many of the tropes it popularized because they are seen as intrinsic to the show's history: Planet of Hats, Proud Warrior Race Guy, Techno Babble, Space Is an Ocean, Humanity Is Superior and all manners of Phlebotinum Abuse to name just a few. It is almost easier to name the Speculative Fiction Tropes Trek can't get away with by claiming "that's the way it worked for Kirk."
    • And then Deep Space Nine came along and deconstructied the hell out of Star Trek, which is the main reason behind its Broken Base. That and its suspicious similarity to another space-station-based series.
    • Outside of Speculative Fiction Tropes, there's Chekov's hideously bad Russian accent. In the 2009 film, he's played by a Russian-born actor who could have done a much better accent. But he didn't because it just wouldn't be Chekov if he didn't have a bad Russian accent.
      • Walter Koenig doesn't talk like that either, and he can do a very accurate Russian accent. Roddenberry told him to "ham up" the accent as much as he could, and it was more or less played for comedy. Koenig and Yelchin both thought the v/w mispronunciation was more typical of Polish accents than Russian ones. But Koenig says his father had a difficulty with v/w, and he based the accent on this (of course hammed up to 11).
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Started off with virtually no budget, so they had to use cheap props. Though once it became a massive hit, they still kept the sets low budget looking for the sake of tradition.


  • While many musicians eventually face criticism for sounding the same with every album, there are some long-runners that are able to get away with never seriously deviating from their style, because it remains so unique and innovative that any significant change just wouldn't "sound right." Two particularly famous examples are AC/DC and Motorhead.
  • Any song written before 1970 with the reference of gay meaning jolly, fun, etc. is perfectly acceptable because it meant something different at the time. These days however if somebody used it in the same context it would be hard to take them seriously and might suggest something about the singer or songwriter's sexuality.
  • Similarly any song written before 1970 can get away a man calling a woman their "little girl" without complaint. However if a modern song tried that it would probably suggest unfortunate implications of pedophilia.
  • Many acts with long discographies still use styles, gimmicks, and techniques which modern performers could not employ with a straight face. Being KISS or Wayne Newton is a great way to have an extremely long career. Imitating them is a great way to be ridiculed.
    • One of the most well-known aspects of the career of Elton John, at least since 1972, especially onstage, was Elton's use of crazy glasses and flamboyant costumes, a gimmick he adopted at the peak of Glam Rock and kept intact until 1986. The peak of this tradition would have likely been the (in)famous Donald Duck costume he wore at his free concert at Central Park (the one which later became a Running Gag on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson). The tour of 1986 saw Elton sporting giant multicolored mohawk wigs, a Camp Gay "Ali Baba" costume, "Tina Turner" wigs, and, for his orchestral concerts in Australia, a "Chopin" costume complete with white wig, heavy white powder and a fake birthmark. Though Elton was only 40 at the time, he (and the press) came to agree that he had carried it far past the point of retaining his dignity, and he auctioned most of the costumes and glasses off in 1988 (after using them for the cover of that year's Reg Strikes Back album) and toned down his image. He still incorporates a relatively flamboyant look, but rarely to the point he had since The '80s.
    • Unless you don't really care about it, and/or manage to be successful with being gimmicky. Lady Gaga is living proof.
    • Imitating Kiss, and taking their gimmick to new levels, is what got GWAR and Lordi their success.
  • It's not uncommon for artists that have switched genres (a singer switching from Country to Pop is a common one) to continue to be listed as the genre they started as, as long as their sound doesn't become too alien.
  • A singer or band who started their career in teen pop music may, at least in a few years' time, change their sound, image, and/or lyrical or musical content as they grow older and they opt for a Darker and Edgier or Hotter and Sexier approach. The trope may still apply when they still have to perform their teen pop hits onstage, or should a portion of their fandom or marketing still contain traces of their previous image, and may provide Mood Whiplash if a Greatest Hits Album is released.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • The Beetle Bailey characters have worn the same solid olive green (sometime's Sarge's is tan) uniforms since the strip began in 1950, no matter what the situation. Just during war games they put on helmets instead of caps.
  • Jon Arbuckle of Garfield is still wearing his "powder-blue Oxford shirt" and modest 1978 sideburns most of the time (though this could be due to Limited Wardrobe or Disco Dan).

     Professional Wrestling 
  • Every last Brass Knuckle title and corresponding division in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling. The point of a Brass Knuckles title was to allow wrestlers to legally punch each other, sometimes to the point of actually discouraging grappling. But not only had disqualifications for punches become increasingly rare over the years (though Japan had more "Pure Wrestling" holdouts than most regions), FMW was the trope namer for Garbage Wrestler, as disqualifications for anything up to and including live explosives almost never happened. The brass knuckle belts were there mainly because fans loved them than anything else.
  • The WWF had more or less abandoned the idea of outlandish gimmicks by 1996, but The Undertaker has been "The Deadman" for over twenty years, and when they tried to change that, it was met with negative reaction.
  • Certain finishing moves become mundane after a while; for instance, the basic DDT is used by many wrestlers, but generally no new guy is going to be able to use a simple DDT as a match ender. However, stars that used it as their finisher before it everyone started using (and kicking out of) it, such as Tommy Dreamer, Raven, and especially the move's inventor Jake "The Snake" Roberts, still used it as a finisher.
  • Sometimes, a wrestler's theme music becomes so identified with the wrestler himself that changing it just wouldn't work. Shawn Michaels may have remained attractive, but "Sexy Boy" didn't really fit his gimmick in the last few years of his career. Not that anyone complained.
  • The Undertaker's Tombstone Piledriver managed to remain even after piledrivers were banned, partially because it was a Signature Move, and partially because he's proven that he's skilled and experienced enough to use it relatively safely.
  • Mass violation on the part of wrestlers, as well as Executive Meddling forcing the bookers into corners led to the code in Ring of Honor being rendered all but useless and done away with. Despite having little purpose left, it was brought back because fans wanted it back.

  • Although most radio stations wouldn't get away with it (due to Values Dissonance rather than legality issues or Ofcom codes), Real and Smooth's Real Radio network got away with being a "best-of-both-worlds" mix of Heart and Capitalnote , yet it remained male-slanted, and had done since its launch in Wales in 2000 as Real Radio Wales, expanding to Yorkshire and Scotland in 2002, and then Northern England in 2008.
    • It is widely considered to be better than Heart and Capital which are seen as crass, no-personality stations by the public - who often have no other listening choices in many regions, like Cambridgeshire, Essex, Kent, and Sussex. So in a way, the grandfather clause is good for British radio. Listeners prefer personality presenters and "local" radio (i.e. no syndication or very little), which is why the likes of Smooth Radio (Real and Smooth), Hallam FM (Bauer Media) and Stray FM (UKRD) remain widely popular (Global executives, take note of this, if you read it!)
    • In the end, however, Real and Smooth were bought out by Heart and Capital's owner, and the Real network was merged into Heart's network.
  • It's not uncommon for a station dedicated to a certain genre(s) to play music they wouldn't otherwise if it's performed by an artist that has/had a following in their usual genre.
  • Until his death in 2009, most AM stations aired Paul Harvey without fail at 8:30am and noon and later on in the day "The Rest of the Story", even as the surrounding programming became coarse or partisan. A few chain stations canceled it earlier before his death by corporate edict, and found their ratings and standing immediately plunge among listeners for removing a longtime tradition.
  • Most "active rock" stations don't play music from before the mid- to late-'80s, but a handful of pioneering hard rock and metal bands from the '70s still get rotation. Black Sabbath is the band that most frequently gets grandfathered in, but Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Aerosmith might get a pass as well.

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  • Several Stadia (and parallels) often are beneficiaries of this sort of clause, likely because the leagues want to keep playing at iconic venues and the changes would require those venues to be either completely demolished or significantly altered.
    • The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the most dangerous races in Formula One history. Had it been proposed today, safety regulations would not allow it to be built. However, since it was one of the oldest grand prix in existence, it's still in the championship.
    • Major League Baseball requires at least 325 feet of distance along each foul line to the nearest obstruction...except for fields that had shorter distances prior to 1958. Only two parks currently in use are that old: Boston's Fenway Park and Chicago's Wrigley Field. The shortest distance in the latter, however, is 353 feet, so this exception presently only applies to Fenway's two foul lines: the left field wall known as the "Green Monster" (310 feet at its shortest) and "Pesky's Pole" in right (302 feet).
    • The Red Sox's rivals' old park was also grandfathered in: Old Yankee Stadium (built in 1923, demolished after 2008) had only 296 feet in right field. This was a point of contention with Charles O. Finley when he purchased the Kansas City Athletics in 1960. Finley wanted to bring the right field fence at Municipal Stadium in to 296 feet, but was vetoed by the American League, so he instead brought the fence in to the minimum 325 feet, had a line painted at 296 feet, and had his PA announcer declare that any fly balls landing in the zone between the line and the fence would've been home runs at Yankee Stadium. This practice would be ended rather quickly, once Finley realized that visiting teams were hitting far more to that area than the A's were.
    • In 2007 the International Cricket Council ruled that the distance from boundary to boundary of an international ground must be at least 150 yards square of the wicket and 140 yards straight (measured from centre of pitch), that square boundaries must be at least 65 yards (which allows the pitch to be a little off centre, because a cricket ground has several parallel pitches to allow grass time to recover), and that no boundary can be more than 90 yards from the centre of the pitch. However, all grounds that were built before 2007 are allowed to have shorter boundaries. A few grounds, such as Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, fall well short of the minimum.
  • For fans of American Football, and the National Football League in particular, do you think Green Bay, Wisconsin has a guy who could pay for a franchise? Yet most Americans know of the city of Green Bay, and its Packers... who are publicly owned by stockholders. The stock has some pretty severe restrictions on it, and the team is operated as a not-for-profit company (legally, they are a for-profit company, but revenues that aren't being used to fund football operations are given to charity). The NFL doesn't allow teams to sell shares of NFL teams anymore—every team must have a fairly small group of owners (32 or fewer, very commonly only one)—but the Packers are still allowed to do thisnote , ensuring that the Green Bay Packers are unique in their league in regards to the ownership situation. Fans of other NFL teams whose ownership is deemed incompetent often lament the fact that they can't band together and buy the team in a Packers-style arrangement.
  • British and Irish international sports teams present a unique situation: Virtually every sport works by the rule of one team per country, and when countries split (USSR, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia) or unite (Tanzania, Germany) the teams follow. But Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland have their own teams in almost all sports, even though the countries are the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, because they began most international competition. The divided loyalties of Northern Irish people (see Northern Ireland) complicate matters further.
    • Football (and futsal) is a rarity, in that Ireland is split Republic/North (the NI team stubbornly styled themselves "Ireland" until 1950), but there are separate Scotland/Wales/England/NI teams. Great Britain teams went to the Olympics 1904-72, but when amateurs left the Olympics, so did Team GB. At the Olympics in London "Great Britain" qualified automatically to field a team in every sport, leading to 'temporary' mergers of the Scotland, England and Wales teams in many sports. However as many other European countries resent the UK's current set-up resulting in 4 times as many votes in governing body forums and 4 automatic spots on the board of FIFA (as the 4 oldest associations) Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all refused to agree to a combined team, fearing it would set a precedent and FIFA would force them to permanently merge into a team dominated by English players. The Olympic teams ended up fielding teams with only English and Welsh players in the men's team, and only English and (two) Scottish players in the women's team.
      • There was a separate NI cricket team at the 1998 Commonwealth Games (the Republic of Ireland is not part of the Commonwealth).
      • NI volleyball team play in the European Small Nations division.
    • At the Olympic Games, there is "Great Britain" and "Ireland", and athletes from Northern Ireland can compete for either — even some from a Unionist/Protestant background, who feel stronger allegiance for Britain, have competed for Ireland because Team GB wouldn't take them.
    • In cricket, there is "England" (which represents England and Wales), Scotland and Ireland.
    • Unsurprisingly, Gaelic games use a single Irish team, who play Scotland in compromise rules shinty-hurling, and Australia in international rules football (a clumsy fusion of Aussie Rules and Gaelic football).
    • There is a single GB team in korfball, kabaddi, hockey, ice hockey, handball, volleyball, Aussie rules, but NI players are with Ireland.
    • In basketball, there are separate "Great Britain" and "Ireland" teams — the GB team was only formed in 2005, and England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland still play each other.
    • In rugby, Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales have separate teams. Northern Irish unionists object to both the Irish tricolour flag and the Republic's anthem "Amhrán na bhFiann", so a special "Four Provinces" flag and a special composed anthem ("Ireland's Call") is played.note  Conversely, Irish players objected to the name "British Lions" for the four-team selection, so they're now the "British and Irish Lions".
    • A rare non-British/Irish example is the West Indies cricket team, who represent 10 independent countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago), 3 Crown dependencies (Anguilla, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands), the US Virgin Islands and Sint Maarten (the Dutch half of St Martin) — 15 Caribbean "countries" in all, competing internationally as a single team. In fairness, all of these save Guyana, the US Virgin Islands, and Sint Maarten were all part of the West Indies Federation, which was a single country 1958-1962.
    • In 1999 Gibraltar, a tiny dependency of the UK on the edge of Spain, applied for membership of UEFA, the European football (soccer) governing body. Based on UEFA's membership rules at the time, there was nothing barring Gibraltar from joining. But Spain, which deeply resents British control over Gibraltar, threatened to withdraw from UEFA if Gibraltar were accepted. To keep Gibraltar out, UEFA altered its membership criteria in 2001 so that only independent states as recognised by the United Nations could become members, but granted an exemption to the five already-existing non-independent teams (the four British teams, plus the Faroe Islands). After a decade-long legal battle, the courts ruled that as Gibraltar had made their application before the rule change, UEFA had to allow them to join anyway, removing the original purpose behind the change. However, the new rules now act as a bar to places like Jersey, Guernsey and Greenland, who would probably have been allowed to join UEFA had they applied before the Gibraltar debacle.
  • The NHL mandated that new players wear helmets in August of 1979, but allowed players that were already playing without them to continue to play helmetless. Craig MacTavish was the last non-helmeted player to play in the NHL (he said it was "a comfort thing"). He retired in 1997. (A waiver provision was added in 1992, allowing younger players to go helmetless if they chose; as the only players that went helmetless after the provision was added were MacTavish and Brad Marsh, who also qualified under the 1979 grandfather clause, the provision was dropped in 1996.)
    • In addition to eliminating the waiver provision, the 1996 update to the helmet rules mandated that incoming players must wear CSA-certified helmets. Veteran players were still permitted to retain their non-certified Jofa 235 helmets, largely because it was Wayne Gretzky's helmet of choice. Only four other players at the time (Marty McSorley, Jari Kurri, Esa Tikkanen, and Igor Larionov) still wore the 235 at the time, and by 2001, they had either retired, or in Larionov's case, switched to a certified helmet.
    • The NHL will do something similar for visors beginning with the 2013-14 season. Again, those in the league already playing without visors will be allowed to continue playing without them.
    • Likewise, the single bar facemask was officially banned by the NFL as of 2004, though it had been abandoned by every position except kickers and punters long before that. (QB Joe Theismann was the last non-kicker/punter to wear one when he retired in 1985.) Punter Scott Player was grandfathered and allowed to continue wearing just one bar until his retirement in 2008.
  • Major League Baseball retired the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, the first black player to play in the major leagues, in 1997, but allowed players who were already wearing that number to continue using it. Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, who retired after the 2013 season, was the last remaining active player to still wear that number.
    • The grandfather clause was permitted even if the existing player wearing 42 was traded to, or signed with, another team, allowing a few players (Mo Vaughn, Jose Lima, and Mike Jackson) to wear 42 for multiple teams after 1997.
    • Starting in 2009, every player, manager, coach, and umpire has worn 42 on April 15, the anniversary of Robinson's MLB debut. (If a game on that day is rained out, the teams and umpires involved will wear "42" uniforms at the next opportunity, typically the following day.)
  • Another MLB example: The spitball was banned in 1920, but pitchers who specialized in throwing spitballs were allowed to keep doing so for the rest of their careers. The last spitballer was Hall of Famer Burleigh "Ol' Stubblebeard" Grimes, who retired in 1934.
  • Still another baseball example: The Hall of Fame and the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA), whose members vote on recently retired players, agreed that starting with the election for the class of 2015, players would be eligible for election on 10 annual ballots instead of 15.note  The three players on the 2015 ballot who had already appeared on 10 or more ballots (Don Mattingly, Alan Trammell, Lee Smith) will remain eligible for the full 15 years, should they get enough votes to stay on the ballot.note 

  • More objectionable bits in The Mikado are often bowdlerised out (several references to "niggers" in lyrics are usually removed), but the basic premise of Caucasian actors in whiteface, kimonos, and black wigs in a gross mockery of Meiji's Japan remains intact despite how outrageously offensive the concept would be today. It should be noted that The Mikado is satire at its finest, using a patently absurd version of Japan to mock both general British culture and a faddish obsession with Japan that was sweeping through the country at the time.
    • It is recorded that when Prince Fushimi Sadanaru of Japan (a relative of the Emperor and a confidant of Crown Prince Yoshihito, who became Emperor Taisho) made a state visit to Britain in 1907, all productions of The Mikado were shut down for fear of offending him. This proved to be a mistake, since the Crown Prince had looked forward to seeing it. The Mikado is still very popular in Japan; evidently, the fact that the society is obviously more British than Japanese makes it easier to get Gilbert and Sullivan's point.
  • The works of William Shakespeare may in many cases be saved due to this trope and his considered greatness as a playwright and influence on the English language and culture. For example, the ideal of submissiveness of women in The Taming of the Shrew or the fact that in Romeo and Juliet, that the heroine is only thirteen and already being considered for marriage, whilst rare and a plot point intended for drama even back then, would be virtually unthinkable in a modern play given present-day age-of-consent laws and attitudes/fears surrounding sex with the now-underage. In the former case, attempts are generally made to work around the awkwardness of such attitudes but in the latter, it often seems to go on with only the slightest of comment.

     Video Games 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog is the only Mascot with Attitude allowed to play all of the facets of the trope straight, due to the fact that he solidified most of them. In fact, there was considerable backlash against the plots of games where Sega tried to change him up (though it helps that said games weren't very good).
  • Most platformer heroes have stopped using the Goomba Stomp (or at least downplayed it considerably), but jumping is so much a part of Super Mario Bros. that Mario almost always has it as his primary ability in his games. Even when the games are RPGs. There's a reason the trope is called Goomba Stomp.
  • Speaking of Mario, there's the plot, or one might say there isn't the plot. While other veteran computer game series have been trying to make their plots deeper and more complex, the Super Mario Bros. series is still about the same Italian plumber rescuing the same princess from the same turtle-dinosaur creature. The RPGs, being games with a higher Story-to-Gameplay Ratio but having essentially the same plot, make fun of this. Every Mario RPG so far, besides The Thousand Year Door, has started with Bowser kidnapping, trying to kidnap, or at least planning to kidnap, the princess. So far, only the original Paper Mario 64 has had the main plot focus on this. And in Thousand Year Door, he objects to someone else doing it because it's his gimmick (and his love, but that's beside the point). Even the main series has made fun of the gimmick of the princess being kidnapped; Super Mario Sunshine hangs a lampshade with a news report saying that Princess Peach has been kidnapped... AGAIN (emphasis theirs).
  • Even in the most modern Metroid games, Samus' missiles always cap out at 255, despite that number only arising due to hardware limitations in the original game. (Later Zelda games quickly did away with the 255 money Cap, for example) It's just always been a part of the series, and let's face it, any more would make 100% Completion even more insane than it already is...
    • Similar to the above example, Samus' morph ball form also came about because of the hardware limitations making the developers unable to get Samus to crouch or crawl. Needless to say that these days, we have the technology, and yet the morph ball remains regardless.
  • Even the latest games today often ask you to "Press Start", before dropping you into the game or bringing you to the main menu interface, whether or not pressing other buttons would do the same thing. It's averted more and more often these days, but it's still tremendously common. Indeed, it can feel pretty weird to get to the title screen of, say, Super Paper Mario, and be told "Press 2", or having HeartGold and SoulSilver say to "Touch [the touch screen] to Start" despite the fact that pressing start works just fine. Even the name "Start" for the button is a bygone relic, since it's main use now (and arguably even in the NES days) is actually to pause the game. The PlayStation 4 does away with "Start" and "Select" entirely. While the GameCube tried to remedy this by renaming the button "Start/Pause", the Wii and Wii U ultimately ended up doing as the PS4 would later and ditched the button, replacing it with + and -. Some browsers like Firefox have a "click to activate" security setting that requires the user to click on web-based applications before they will run, so many browser-based games begin with a "click to start" screen.
  • Command & Conquer is so well-known for its Full Motion Video cutscenes that when Generals didn't include them, there was a backlash (granted, the lack of FMV wasn't the only difference between Generals and the old games). FMV are largely discredited these days, but C&C gets away with it because it's tied to the series' history. The later installments of the Tiberium and Red Alert franchises see all number of really familiar actors engaging in as much Ham-to-Ham Combat as possible (J. K. Simmons, Tim Curry, and George Takei as the leaders of the factions in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3). Indeed, Red Alert 3 has taught us that when your game has amphibious man-cannons that shoot trained attack bears with parachutes you can get away with literally anything.
  • Mega Man
    • The classic series exists on this trope. 9 and 10 feature all of the cliches that are featured in the rest of the series, including the eight robot masters, getting weapons from defeated enemies, moving on to Wily's fortress, Wily hijacking the plot, and even the 8-bit graphics and sound. Somehow, it works.
    • On a smaller note, Mega Man ZX and its sequel having Bottomless Pits and Spikes Of Doom, both of which lie in contention with their Metroidvania-style "explore everywhere" design philosophy but have been with the Mega Man games since the beginning.
    • Current knowledge is that putting a Boss Rush in the main story is a poor design choice. The Mega Man games of all series can still get away with it, but since the Zero and Battle Network games the devs have liked to screw with the "classic" formula (although the trend to screw with the Boss Rush started in 3, where you fought the bosses from 2).
  • The Metal Gear series started as a ridiculous Action Hero game in the mid 80's. Starting with Metal Gear Solid in 1998, the series started to take itself seriously and both became a lot more grim and disillusioned as well as getting known for its highly complex plot and deep and well written characters. Many of the mini bosses are so ridiculous they could be straight out of Batman & Robin and many of the sequences could be from cheap 80's action movies, but since those elements have been part of the series from the beginning, they were kept, similar to James Bond movies. Using a cardboard box to hide in - and having it work so well - is a part of the game's mythos from the very first game. It would be hard to imagine a newer stealth-action game playing the "moving cardboard box" bit straight.
  • Every game in the entire Shin Megami Tensei series has the lead protagonist unvoiced or with barely any spoken dialogue. This is actually due to how the series was originally developed, where the games were driven from the player character's perspective and the original NES games were considered Dungeon Crawlers. Even with Shin Megami Tensei IV, which has every other character fully voiced some thirty years after the release of its ancestor of a game, the lead protagonist is silent.
    • Additionally, Shiva is always fused the same exact way: Barong and Rangda. Even with special fusions existing, it's the only way to get him.
  • Some game players feel that games that give you a set amount of "lives" invoke this trope, especially when they act alongside quicksaving with no penalties to Save Scumming.
  • An even more outdated concept (still occasionally in use but becoming increasingly rare) is the level countdown timer, which had become pretty much obsolete by the mid-90s. Even games that are heavily grandfathered, such as the Mario series, have largely dropped the countdown timer, often for justifiable teams.
  • The score counter, while not being used as much as it once was, occasionally continues to pop up in newer games (although not necessarily always in the traditional way). However, it has found another purpose by changing the points to money or 'experience', and then having the player spend it on upgrades, weapons, health and so forth.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine gets away with the Undead Horse Tropes of Real Is Brown, A Space Marine Is You, and a virtual Cliché Storm in part because the setting helped codify some of those tropes and was using others back when the NES was high tech. These tropes aren't quite dead yet, but they're being mocked and derided openly. (Still, it's not like they could avoid A Space Marine Is You.) Cory Rydell and Grey Carter of Critical Miss explain fan reactions here.
  • Sometimes when patching a game to fix a Game Breaker or a Good Bad Bug, the developers will let the players keep the old versions of equipment if it doesn't hurt other players. For example, when Gearbox nerfed The Bee in Borderlands 2, they didn't actually alter any of the shields already acquired - only new ones, that drop after the patch is implemented.
    • In Diablo III, if you have any +% Magic Find gear from the 1.X days, better hold onto it!
  • Aiming down the sight of your gun has become standard for the First-Person Shooter genre, to the point that if any game came out without ADS, it would be extremely jarring. That is, unless that game is Halo which never had sights since the beginning due to the main character being a super soldier. All the weapons being completely hip-fired is so integral to the Halo series, that even suggesting that to be added is considered heresy by the fanbase, even though literally every FPS game besides Halo nowadays has it.
  • The Monster Hunter games still have maps that are made up of 8-12 discreet areas, with fixed-duration loading screens whenever the player passes between them, even on current-gen consoles where a lack of Dynamic Loading is considered a damning flaw. The developers have gone on record stating this is an intentional design choice: fleeing from one are to another is a tactic both players and monsters use to escape each other to recover (among other mechanics) and making the whole map one large field dramatically changes the flow of the game. It helps that recent titles actually take advantage of this setup, as only having to render a fixed amount of geography allows the Nintendo3DS to pack an exquisite amount of detail onto the armors and monsters.
  • Just Dance is the only game entirely dependent on motion controls that remains popular today. While once considered a revolution in gaming, they've fallen heavily into Deader Than Disco status due to the immense amount of shovelware it produced. Today, motion controls are seen as a cheap gimmick and most games avoid it or at least downplay its presence (there's huge complaints whenever it's there). Just Dance is the exception, however. It became a big franchise while motion controls were still popular, and has become a staple of house parties all over the world. If a game like Just Dance were released today, it'd probably be dismissed as shovelware.
  • South Park made its name with Black Comedy humor that crosses line all the time, it's why the series is so popular to begin with. Naturally, when South Park: The Stick of Truth was released, that kind of humor carried over in-full. The most noticeable is the four classes you can play as — Fighter, Thief, Mage, and... Jew. Yes, there's a Jew class. It's been said that this is the only game that could get away with something like that.


     Web Original 
  • On the My Little Pony:Friendship Is Magic fanblog Equestria Daily, fan fiction set in the fanon universe Fallout: Equestria frequently contains X-rated topics and thus violates their content submission guidelines, but are still allowed because of how iconic in the fandom some of them have become (and because they skip the pre-readers entirely).
  • The SCP Foundation has 076 (Able) and 105 (Iris) - submitted early in the site's history, the quickly-growing community treated them as iconic, to the point of writing fanfic about them. As the site was restructured and formalized, the community shifted strongly against Common Mary Sue Traits, and formed a generally-accepted canon on how the Foundation treated its wards, both of which were at odds with the pair. Though their general Mary Sue-ness has been toned down over the years (Able is now a force of nature rather than an anti-hero, Iris's power is less Cursed with Awesome), their popularity (especially Iris's) has waned considerably over the years, and they would probably risk deletion if they were submitted today. However, they're considered too important to the site's history to let go. The creators of the site even created "the Able Line": Able is exactly as Sue-ish as any character is allowed to be, and can stay, but anything more has to go. Probably the biggest sign of Grandfathering, though, is the tendency for reports involving them to call them by their real names rather than their numbers: a supreme faux pas from anyone else, but Able and Iris are too established in those names to stop using them. In Able's case, at least, this has been explained in-universe by saying that the reason why SC Ps are referred to by number is that it is important to dehumanize sentient SC Ps to prevent people from interfering with their containment out of sympathy; since there's nothing remotely sympathetic about Able, it's OK to refer to him by name.
  • The role-play Into the Black (from the creators of Darwin's Soldiers) had a gritty cyberpunk setting with a focus on realistic science and technology. It's sequel, Racing the Storm, had a new GM who introduced psionics and space ships and took a direction that was unpopular direction with the characters. When a new sequel to Into the Black was planned, the G Ms specified that psionics were not permitted under any circumstances. The only exceptions were Lily North and Flora, characters from the previous role-plays whose abilities are heavily tied into their appearance and backstories.

     Western Animation 
  • Recent Disney TV shows based on Winnie-the-Pooh give it a Setting Update. The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is vaguely set in the 80s, and My Friends Tigger And Pooh is definitely set in the 21st century. Honey, however, still comes in stoneware pots, rather than glass jars or squeezy bottles.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The show features a running gag where Homer strangles Bart. It's been played for laughs since 1988. While a Bumbling Dad on rival shows may get away with some disturbing emotional abuse of his children, physical child abuse as comedy wouldn't be likely to fly as a running joke for most new series. Even lampshaded in the episode "Behind The Laughter":
    Homer: And that horrible act of child abuse became one of our most beloved running gags.
    • It helps that The Simpsons is not only a cartoon, but gave up even the pretense of being a "realistic working-class sitcom" ages ago. Other things about the setup are also grandfathered; Matt Groening admits that Marge being a stay-at-home mom doesn't really makes sense for their position in the economic climate of The New Tens, but she isn't going to change.
    • Many other details about the series have been grandfathered in from its 90s origins. For instance, Itchy and Scratchy airing on Krusty's network would have been obvious analogies in their day to Tom and Jerry airing on Bozo's network - only The Itchy & Scratchy Show is absurdly gory instead of bloodless and cartoonish, and Krusty is an asshole instead of a lovable jester. These days, both Bozo and Tom and Jerry are largely gone, leaving Itchy and Scratchy a quaint relic of the time before Happy Tree Friends, and Krusty inexplicably popular in the face of countless Monster Clowns. But the kids gotta be watching something, so...
    • The level of technology in the show seemed to have stuck with the series' late 80s/early 90s origins for quite a few years. Vinyl albums were commonly seen in episodes well into the 90s, plus there's the Simpsons family's dial-tuner TV set with rabbit-ear antenna. Homer's car also looks like it dates from the 80s.
    • Consider Bart's status as a "bad boy." In the show's early seasons, contemporaneous shows featured similar "bad boy" characters, and Bart fit right in. By The New Tens, when South Park is a Long Runner, shows have moved on and made Bart's worst behaviors seem almost quaint. Likewise, the police's Keystone Kops routine is quite old-fashioned, and the police force even has old revolvers, but in the late 1980's and early 90's it fit nicely with the show's comedic parody of old sitcoms. All that dated styling is now part of the show's milieu as The Simpsons has stopped being about parodying other shows and is now about parodying itself with bits of barbed satire thrown in. This is lampshaded in the "Cartoon Wars" story arc from South Park, where Cartman meets Bart Simpson himself. Bart brags about how much of a bad boy he supposedly is, citing the incident where he decapitated the statue of Springfield's founder. Cartman responds by calmly recounting the episode where he arranged the deaths of Scott Tennorman's parents, and then chopped up the corpses and fed them to the boy.
    • Many of the series' Funny Foreigner characters, such as Bumblebee Man, Groundskeeper Willie, Akira, Luigi, and especially Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, could arguably not be created in the more politically correct times that followed the show's debut. Though in later years, Apu has been the target of more and more complaints. Hank Azaria has even admitted that he sees where the critics are coming from, and has said he would be unhappy if there was a popular show that got away with having a stereotypical Jewish character.
  • The Hobbit (1977) movie would never had the gall to write a song so utterly morbid, violent, and orc-like as "15 Birds", if the words hadn't been written by Tolkien half a century earlier.
  • American Dad! continues to feature the color coded "Terror Alert" indicator on the family fridge, despite the fact that the Obama Administration retired it. Perhaps as a satire of the changing attitudes of a new decade, the Terror Alert level was only on red, orange or yellow in episodes from the 2000s. But in episodes from 2010 and onwards it's either blue, green (two colors it never was lowered to in Real Life), or missing an arrow; they even had an episode where the color code changed to blue and everyone in the CIA acted like it was a major cause for celebration.
  • The Scooby gang and their outfits, especially Fred. While he did lose the ascot for awhile, it's back as of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated and several of the recent movies, even though pretty much no one wears ascots anymore. But it's become such an Iconic Outfit for them that Warner Brothers seems loathe to get rid of it completely. Likewise, the Mystery Machine. A green colored van covered with flowers sticks out like a sore thumb in today's modern society, but because it's so associated with Mystery Inc., they can get away with it. Shaggy's shapeless jeans and t-shirt are a stoner classic even today, but Daphne's and Velma's outfits were supposed to convey Daphne's fashionable persona and Velma's geekiness. Nowadays, both outfits would make their wearer look more like a hipster.

     TV Tropes Wiki 
  • Many tropes on this wiki keep their names because people are used to them, even though they do not meet various criteria for descriptive names; some were created and codified before those criteria were codified, (or even before TV Tropes existed), while others probably just flew under the radar and became widely linked and well-known before anyone thought to apply those rules, but in any case the name is too strongly associated with the trope to be changed even though it's "bad". Here are some of the more notable ones:
    • If the Narm article were to have been created only recently, it would have been renamed very quickly. Same thing about a very old trope, Gilligan Cut. It's actually a pre-existing entertainment industry name, and one which is neither exclusive to Gilligan's Island, nor the only cut used there.
    • The Scrappy: Even though character-named tropes are heavily frowned upon since not everyone will get the reference, The Scrappy has held on since it's one of the most heavily-linked tropes on the site, and the name gives the sense of something being the "scrap" that you toss aside.
    • Xanatos Gambit. Yes, we know that not everyone's heard of the original David Xanatos (from Gargoyles), but since Xanatos Gambit is a Trope of Legend and the term has percolated through the rest of the internet, it's not getting renamed.
    • The Dragon: Not indicative of what that trope is at all, but it is one of the most linked tropes on the site. (Its usage in this context also predates the site.)
    • One-Winged Angel: A Trope of Legend. The name is a reference to Sephiroth's theme song from Final Fantasy VII. note  It's not obvious by the title it's about a villain transforming. It resisted a attempt to give it a more descriptive name largely because of its large number of Wicks and this trope.
    • Underground Monkey: "It's a monkey, but it lives underground" is hardly a good way to imply "video game developers create a whole family of mooks by adding little modifications to a mook, hence getting a lot of enemy-variety cheaper". This trope stayed under the radar for too long, and since basically ALL video games use it, it's been linked by lots and lots of articles. Most tropers believe the abysmal amount of work required to change the name of this trope is just not worth it.
    • Roger Rabbit Effect: Who Framed Roger Rabbit is not the first movie to blend animation and live-action, but it's one of the most well-known, so its name remains.
    • Epileptic Trees: This term probably won't make any sense at all for people who have never seen Lost, but it isn't likely to get a name change any time soon; besides, it fits the out-there nature of the Wild Mass Guessing it describes.
    • Hummer Dinger: The Trope Namer Hummer brand that the Hummer Dinger trope satirises went under in 2010 as part of GM's infamous post-economic-collapse restructuring.
  • The self demonstrating page for BRIAN BLESSED is still in the old Ptitle format, as the new version has removed the ability to increase the font of text, and since we're talking about BRIAN BLESSED it'd be impossible to have him not have huge font, thus, he stays Ptitle, and as a result, has larger font. Similarly, the Laconic Wiki page All Your Colors Combined is kept in an old format to retain colored text.
  • The name TV Tropes itself provides a simple example, as the main page explains: "The wiki is called "TV Tropes" because TV is where we started. Over the course of a few years, our scope has crept out to include other media." This is probably the least likely name on the site to ever change.

     Real Life 
Named after the common phrase for laws that grant exceptions based on past history. It's even a verb: "To grandfather" something means to not enforce a new regulation on something that was already in existence at the time the regulation was enacted for entities in that category, while new entities in that category would be subject to the regulation.
  • The phrase came from Jim Crow laws requiring things like literacy tests to vote but granting an exception to anyone whose grandfather was eligible to vote. Since all whites had eligible grandfathers and few blacks did (The American Civil War having been that recent), and the literacy tests were made very hard (and often rigged, one Alabama poll test question was literally: "How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?"), it effectively meant "whites can vote and blacks can't" without outright saying so. This also had the "added benefit" of not allowing fresh immigrants to vote, another thing that the same type of people who created the Jim Crow laws were in favor of.
  • A literal Grandfather Clause: Most people in the Western world younger than 70 years of age will be harshly reprimanded or at least mocked for Values Dissonance, while those in the twilight of their lives are viewed with tolerance (or sometimes condescension) for holding identical attitudes because "they don't know any better."
  • It is very common in clubs and industries where membership/employment practices have changed. A club may decide to change membership requirements such that some of its long-standing members may no longer qualify, but they can be grandfathered in. For example, a fraternity may decide to only accept pledges who possess a certain GPA, but may retain members who were allowed in earlier. Likewise, a club whose membership is growing too quickly may decide to raise membership fees to raise revenue for the larger traffic and to reduce its applicants, but retain existing members at the cost they signed up for. Imagine a popular golf club which was growing too quickly, so members could not guarantee a tee time and the conditions on the course were wanting for a lack of maintenance. Likewise, a company offering a service in high demand may decide to raise prices, but may be legally required or find it prudent to grandfather existing clients in at their original rates, especially if they count on old clients to refer their new ones. This can also be used to keep key personnel during a transition. For example, a company providing emergency medical services may decide to hire only full paramedics in the future, but may grandfather in veteran EMT-Intermediates and Basics while they acquire the EMT-P credential. And as recently as the 1970s one of the most common paths to a career in journalism would be to leave High School and get a job in the office of a local newspaper, working your way up the chain and eventually being 'scouted' by bigger newspapers/tv stations etc. Today most tv stations and newspapers wouldn't consider hiring someone who hadn't graduated from a school of journalism, but many literal grandmothers and grandfathers remain on the payroll. However, what the oldies lack in formal schooling, they make up with experience.
    • The US Military has many of these, due to constant regulation changes and manning cutbacks/additions. For instance, the minimum rank needed to retire (hit at least 20 years total active service) for enlisted members has gone up in most cases (the Navy used to be E5, and has been E6 since the mid-2000s; the Marine Corps recently raised it from E6 to E7). However, those that joined before a certain cut-off date are exempt. Various other programs for retention, force changing, etc., often use this clause for certain members.
  • The prefix e- for computer-related thing will get you ridiculed now. Only e-mail and perhaps ebooks can really get away with it. Perhaps this is because i is the new e.
  • Alcohol and tobacco are more physically damaging and addictive than several illegal drugs. In fact, it's often been said that if they were discovered today, they would be classed as Class A (highly illegal) drugs and banned in the UK. The reason they haven't been is because they've been around longer and are a big part of mainstream culture. Ironically enough, alcohol was outlawed in the United States during The Roaring Twenties (it didn't stick, obviously; besides the fact that most drug prohibitions are extremely difficult to enforce, alcohol, unlike most other drugs, is made from ordinary foodstuffs like grains and fruit, so it's virtually impossible to prevent people from getting the basic ingredients) and tobacco is currently being denounced as a pariah at the same time that marijuana is gaining acceptance.
  • Pets. There is a well-defined set of "normal" pet animals which have been part of human existence for years (if not millennia), and legislation and custom are always written around the assumption that people are entitled to buy and own these animals. Outside that well-defined set, just watch the people start to stare and the legal compliance issues start to mount. Case in point: Ferrets. They're the 3rd most popular pet in the US, yet you seldom see them in the media and laws and regulations prohibiting their ownership abound. Some animals, such as Raccoons, are considered wild animals (regardless of if they are born in captivity) and not possible to tame properly after a year or two, and as such, some states allow them as pets, and some don't. In Russia, however, there are no laws against it, so raccoons are surprisingly popular pets (as evidenced by all the Russian YouTube videos on them).
  • An unusual one, in that cases before the cutoff date must follow stricter rules: Germans enjoy visa-free access to Israel... except those old enough to have been of legal age during World War II (born before January 1, 1928). They have to get a visa and submit extra paperwork to prove that they weren't members of the Nazi Party and/or participants in Nazi atrocities.
  • Examples from biology:
    • The biological class of reptiles. Under modern cladistic criteria (a significant minority of scientists still use the old classification system), a taxon has to include all species deriving from a common ancestor. Reptiles don't because they lack the dinosaur-descended birds (together forming the sauropsides)note  and the therapside-descended mammals (all together forming the hyperclass of the amniotes). There's also the fact that crocodilians are classified as reptiles despite being more closely related to birds than to other reptiles. After all, they're clearly not birds themselves and they have scales, so by default they're called reptiles. From a scientific point of view, reptiles as a class have been discredited, but reptiles are still taught as a biological class vis-à-vis to the other three among the tetrapodes.
    • Similarly, there's fish. Basically, the closest we can get to a useful definition of fish is something like "anything that has a spine that isn't an amphibian, reptile, bird, mammal, or member of some extinct species that doesn't count because it has limbs or something".
  • Vermont Maid brand pancake syrup has not been manufactured in Vermont or contained any real maple syrup from anywhere for decades. If it were a new product, its makers would face a lawsuit from the state Department of Agriculture. And Now You Know why it's never been expanded beyond Original Flavor.
  • The Ford Galaxy and Volkswagen Sharan MPVs still survive, despite crossover SUVs being the replacement de facto for minivans. No rules prohibit minivans, only cultural trend.
  • Salford City Council get away with using streetlights over 20-30 years old due to the fact they fit in with the 1960s - 70s housing scheme and "Acacia Avenue" look/vibe, even though new regulations would not allow them these days due to safety concerns - and will probably mention this at some point. New Urbis Sapphires (which look sort of like alien eyes) have started being used in some part of Walkden, but they're not widely used due to various reasons.
  • The Atholl Highlanders are the last feudal-style aristocrat's private army existing in Europe, under the personal command of the Duke of Atholl and not a part of the British Army in any capacity. They exist for reasons that more or less boil down to "Queen Victoria thought it was cool". Luckily the army only sees ceremonial guard duty as it would presumably cause havoc trying to fit it into modern international law.
  • The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the United Negro College Fund both retain terms for black people in their names that were perfectly acceptable when they were founded, but are considered racist today.
  • The U.S. Constitution requires that the president be a natural-born citizen, OR was a citizen of the U.S. when the Constitution was adopted. The first nine U.S. presidents were born in American states when they were still British colonies. A few say the peculiar phrasing is due to Alexander Hamilton's presidential ambitions, since he was born in the British West Indies and had a strong influence on the final form of the Constitution; it's not clear how much credence to give this, and in any case he never even sought the presidency. More likely to have been in the minds of the framers of the Constitution was that in 1787, the United States had only existed for 11 years and thus it was impossible for anybody to meet the age requirement for the presidency (at least 35 years old) and also be a natural-born citizen.
    • The 22nd amendment to the Constitution, which set terms limits on the presidency, has a unique grandfather clause. It specifically exempts the sitting president from the term limit - in fact the exemption is described at greater length than the term limits themselves. The single man the clause applied to—Harry Truman—could have racked up a total time in office of fifteen years if he had won re-election in 1952 and 1956. However, Truman—who made some highly unpopular (but historically well-regarded) decisions respecting The Korean War and other matters—was extremely unpopular going into the 1952 election cycle, and bowed out of the '52 race for the Democratic presidential nomination in favor of Illinois Governor Adlai E. Stevenson, rendering the whole matter (and thus an embarrassingly large chunk of the text of the Constitution) moot.
  • In 2005, when polygamous marriages were banned in the French territory of Mayotte, any person born before 1987 (for men) or 1990 (for girls) were allowed to contract such marriages; this possibility was closed in 2011, when this island became the 101st département.
  • During the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, certain firearms made before the ban's enactment were legal to own. Automatic weapons that were manufactured and registered before the Firearm Owners Protection Act (enacted May 19, 1986) may legally be transferred to civilians. Similarly, and until the United States Supreme Court voided the law, handguns were totally banned in Washington, DC, except for former cops and those holding these weapons since before 1977.
  • In 2013, Tennessee enacted a law requiring that beverages labeled as "Tennessee whiskey" be made in the state, meet the legal definition of bourbon whiskey, and use the Lincoln County Process (in which the whiskey is filtered through, or steeped in, charcoal before being bottled for aging). The law specifically allows Benjamin Prichard's Tennessee Whiskey, which does meet the definition of bourbon but does not use the Lincoln County Process, to continue to be labeled as such.
  • In 2014, Kentucky radically simplified its classification of cities, replacing a six-class system based mainly on population with a two-class system based on the type of government. Several hundred laws had been based on the old classification system, most notably affecting alcoholic beverage control, certain labor laws, and revenue options. The new system, taking effect in 2015, contained elaborate provisions to ensure that no city lost a privilege that it had under the old system.
  • British Law (and by extension, Commonwealth law) takes this as the default position when dealing with the effects of a law repeal. This is justified, as these countries would routinely repeal old laws that no longer have any use except wasting space on their Statute Books and confusing lawyers. But to avoid unwanted consequences of these repeals, this trope is applied. Representative of their legalese for this is Article 16 of UK's Interpretation Act 1977:
    [W]here an Act repeals an enactment, the repeal does not, unless the contrary intention appears, (a)revive anything not in force or existing at the time at which the repeal takes effect; (b)affect the previous operation of the enactment repealed or anything duly done or suffered under that enactment; (c)affect any right, privilege, obligation or liability acquired, accrued or incurred under that enactment; (d)affect any penalty, forfeiture or punishment incurred in respect of any offense committed against that enactment; (e)affect any investigation, legal proceeding or remedy in respect of any such right, privilege, obligation, liability, penalty, forfeiture or punishment; and any such investigation, legal proceeding or remedy may be instituted, continued or enforced, and any such penalty, forfeiture or punishment may be imposed, as if the repealing Act had not been passed.