"Look on the bright side, Eddy. My parents say fads go in a cycle. In another ten years, we'll be back in style!"
It's a fact of life that something which portrays itself as "cutting-edge" is eventually going to become mainstream, and from there passé
. However, given enough time — usually about 20 years — what had been seen as behind the times
, old hat
, or just plain uncool
suddenly begins to make a comeback, usually accompanied by words like "vintage," "nostalgic," and "classic." It's gone through the ups and downs of the Popularity Polynomial
How often the item cycles back and forth between "cool" and "not cool" depends on many factors. If something reached a peak when you and your friends were kids, then when you become tweens or teens, it is a reminder of a childish time — and as the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up
kick in, you don't want to think about it. But when you reach your later teens or become adults, it is seen as harmless. And once your
kids discover it, it may even become cool again (as long as they don't associate it with their uncool parents). Now apply that on a larger scale.
Given enough cycles, it becomes an equivalent of Cyclic Trope
The name comes from the fact that we like alliteration
, and some of us are math geeks
. Here's also a more detailed explanation
about what a polynomial is and what it has to do with the ups and downs of popularity.
in x is a sum of non-negative integer powers of x which are each multiplied by a real number. You might know some simple polynomials: y=ax+b, the equation for a straight line where a is the slope and b is the y-intercept, is a polynomial (it can be written as: y=ax1
). That's called a polynomial of degree 1, because the highest power of x that appears is 1. A polynomial of degree 2 (y=ax2
+bx+c) is called a parabola, and if you plot its graph it looks like a dish (which could be wide or narrow, or turned upside down, depending on what a, b, and c are).
Of course, there are polynomials of a higher degree than that, like y=4x5
+42, which is of degree 5. Higher degree polynomials can create all sorts of curves when you plot them. Apart from the line and the parabola, you can get a lot of shapes, such as a lot of hairpin curves or a roller-coaster shape that goes on for a while before diving up or diving down.
So basically, in a polynomial in x of a high-degree you can expect y to go up and down as x growsnote
. The trope name is about looking at the popularity of something as a polynomial in time: as time progresses, it becomes less popular, then more popular, then less popular again, and so on and so forth. Generally speaking, the higher degree the polynomial, the more times you switch from "cool" to "stupid" and back. The points where the popularity rises, flatlines, and then begins to decline are known as the polynomial's Jumping the Shark
moments, and when it does the opposite- reverses a decline and starts to climb- rigorous mathematical notation is that it is Growing the Beard
. Some fringe lunacy groups insist on an alternative terminology having to do with derivative signs and whatnot, but they can be safely ignored.
So if you were wondering what a polynomial was, now you know
See also Colbert Bump
(a resurgence triggered by a specific factor), Dead Artists Are Better
(when a person's death rehabilitates his or her reputation
), Cyclic Trope
(when this happens to tropes) and Discredited Meme
. Compare with Two Decades Behind
, Career Resurrection
, Nostalgia Filter
and Vindicated by History
. Contrast with Deader Than Disco
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Anime and Manga
- Anime in North America has had a roller coaster of popularity over the years, normally with a particular series leading the surge. In the mid 90s, anime surged big time thanks to particularly Pokémon, Dragon Ball Z, and Sailor Moon. Around the early 2000s, the popularity began to lower but then in the mid 2000s another boom kick started thanks to Naruto and Bleach.
- The 1967 film To Sir With Love laid this trope bare for the audience in a scene where Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) informs his disbelieving students about many things that are Older Than They Think: their clothing is from the 1920s, their hairstyles from the 16th century, and so on. A trip to a museum later in the film re-lampshades it when one of the students is shown with his head next to that of a Renaissance statue — and they both have the same haircut.
- For much of the late 20th century, film musicals were Deader Than Disco, having effectively been killed by a parade of flops over 1967-69 (Camelot, Doctor Dolittle, Paint Your Wagon, Finian's Rainbow, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and finally Hello, Dolly!!). While the genre persisted into The Seventies via a few successful (mostly pop-rock) efforts, it gave up the ghost early in The Eighties. 2001's Moulin Rouge! was the first live-action musical in years to attract positive attention, but a comeback truly kicked off the following year with the Oscar-winning film of Chicago, and has continued into the present with the likes of Dreamgirls, Hairspray, Mamma Mia! and Les Misérables. Disney even managed to make a highly successful franchise out of High School Musical, to the point where the third film was upgraded to a theatrical release. And now there's Glee...
- Hardly any ancient history films between Cleopatra and Gladiator. Then it became a trend again, only to fall out of favor again due to the failures of later ones like Alexander. Then 300 brought them back into vogue, this time tending to have more stylized aesthetics.
- This has happened more than once to the horror genre.
- Hammer Film Productions' remakes of classic Universal monster movies in The Sixties helped to both restore interest in those films and restore a horror genre that, in The Fifties, had devolved into B-Movie hell.
- In the first half of The Nineties, the horror genre (and the slasher genre in particular) was seen as stale, cliche and behind the times, filled with bad writing, cheap scares and not-so-subtle misogyny. New horror movies were flopping at the box office left and right (even in the normally-reliable month of October), and the slasher icons of The Eighties viewed as walking punchlines. Then came Scream, which deconstructed, parodied and lampshaded all the genre's conventions, put them all back together, and single-handedly restored the genre to commercial viability, which it retains to this day.
- Zombie Apocalypse movies, and zombies in general, were practically forgotten throughout the '90s. It wasn't until the early 2000s that 28 Days Later, the Dawn of the Dead remake and Shaun of the Dead kickstarted the genre again.
- Disney has gone through ups and downs. During The Golden Age of Animation, Disney's films were successes. However, after the death of Walt Disney, the confused company released a string of weak, underperforming films in The Seventies. By The Eighties, Disney was better known as a theme park operator than a film maker. However, in 1989, The Little Mermaid, an animated film deliberately reminiscent of the Golden Age films of the 1940-50s, became an unexpected critical and commercial success and kicked off the Disney Renaissance that lasted throughout the entire Nineties. By the Turn of the Millennium though, audiences, tiring of the increasingly cliched formula prevalent in these films, drifted towards the then-new All-CGI Cartoon popularized by Pixar and DreamWorks Animation. Disney responded by impulsively shutting down their traditional animation studio and releasing a string of their own CGI cartoons, none of which made much of an impact. Disney later announced that in the wake of the increasing popularity of CGI and decreasing interest in hand-drawn animation, they would be focusing on CGI flicks for the foreseeable future.
- The pendulum swung back again in 2009 with the release of The Princess and the Frog, which, while not the smash hit the studio was hoping for, still managed to be a formidable success. Content-wise, Disney has returned to stories similar to those of the 90s with Tangled and Frozen — except reimagined with a new level of self-awareness and avoidance or subversion of the much-maligned typical Disney formulas. And both became critically acclaimed successes.
- Titanic became the highest-grossing movie ever and won 11 Oscars. Then the overexposure (particularly of the Céline Dion theme), Hype Backlash, annoying Leo fangirls, and the overall schmaltzy and overblown tone of the movie damaged both its reputation and popularity. But by the time the movie turned 15 and got a 3D re-release in theaters, all was forgiven and forgotten.
- The original Tim Burton Batman movie was a massive hit and spawned a resurgence of similar comic book flicks (The Shadow and The Phantom, among others), but after a string of sequels, Batman & Robin came out and pretty much killed the superhero genre. A few years later, Blade and X-Men came out and slowly started making comic book movies a viable genre again (albeit usually with more subdued costumes), and Batman Begins effectively resurrected the Batman franchise. Cut to the present day, and not only are superhero movies routinely top earners at the box office, but The Avengers is now one of the highest grossing films of all time.
- Lampshaded in 21 Jump Street. While returning to his old high school, one of the leads notices an attractive young woman reading a comic book. He points out that when he was a teenager, only geeks read comics, and were usually mocked for doing so.
- Hard-R comedies tend to go in and out of style. They first took off in the late 1970s, with films like Animal House and The Kentucky Fried Movie pushing major boundaries in terms of what constituted "good taste"note and becoming hit films in the process. Unfortunately, a saturation of hard R movies in the early-1980s along with an increasing number that relied solely on Vulgar Humor rather than witty writing dissolved the genre for a good decade and a half. During which time, the decidedly more kid friendly PG and PG-13 rated comedy of actors like Pee Wee Herman, Jim Carey and Adam Sandler became the norm. The Hard R comedy, however, came back in 1998 when Theres Something About Mary became a surprise critical and commercial hit. The genre thrived for the next three or four years with such box office bonanzas as American Pie and Scary Movie. However, shifting audience tastes and an over-emphasis on high school centered comedy (what with the audience for such movies moving on to college and/or adulthood) dissolved the genre yet again. It came back once more in 2005 with The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which was probably the first of its kind to be just as popular with adults as it was with teenagers. And the genre still thrives to this day.
- Vampire movies are in a full swinging pendulum of this. They will gain popularity for awhile, then play themselves out, only for the process to repeat.
- After his last film in 2004, Godzilla has received very little public or internet attention. But once footage and trailers for the 2014 reboot started being released in December of 2013, Godzilla started trending very often on social network sites, leading to revived interest in the franchise specifically (hence why many of the films were brought back into circulation after years with no home video releases) and the Kaiju genre in general (hence the sustained interest in Pacific Rim and the Continuity Reboot for Gamera).
- It's hard to remember, but once upon a time Mean Girls was only a moderately successful movie (making $86 million at the North American box office against a $17 million budget). It came out to positive buzz but then faded into obscurity. It was released in 2004 and, at the time, got overshadowed by two specific movies. Thanks in particular to the rise of websites like Tumblr, Mean Girls ended up getting renewed popularity with a new generation of teenagers in The New Tens.
- The Muppets have come back in a big way, now that the media industry is full of influential producers and talents who grew up on their show and still love them. There's no shortage of celebrities who want to perform with them, as their 2011 film demonstrates.
Live Action TV
- Although easy to forget now that it's a massive media juggernaut seemingly beloved by all, Doctor Who was considered a joke in the years between the mid '80s and 2005. It had been a very popular show at its height, but during its '80s Dork Age and after its cancellation in 1989 it was, at best, a Cult Classic, and at worst, something for people to sneer at and assert that, no, they never watched if they wanted to maintain a shred of credibility. Then Russell T Davies and Christopher Eccleston came along, and suddenly everything changed. The show not only became a huge success in Britain and returned to omnipresence in pop culture, but for the first time it managed to cross The Pond and establish a substantial international fanbase, with Doctor Who merchandise sold in mainstream American music/video stores.
- Case in point: this article from the Rotten Library, written in 2005 just as Doctor Who was returning to television, exemplifies the dismissive attitudes (in this case, from an American perspective) that many people had towards the show at the time, ending with a joke about looking for "New Who" on struggling PBS stations in between pledge drives. It would be unimaginable for that same article to be written today.
- Game shows in general tend to go through cycles. They went through their first boom in The Fifties, and fell hard after it was revealed that several of them (most infamously 21) were rigged in order to create tension for viewers. Except for the Panel Game variants like I've Got A Secret and low-stakes parlor games like Password, and a little thing called Jeopardy! that started in 1964, American audiences wouldn't fully trust game shows again until The Seventies, when shows like Family Feud, The Price Is Right, The Jokers Wild, The $10,000 Pyramid, and Wheel of Fortune became popular on network TV. The network games to die down in the '80s when the current syndicated version of Wheel debuted, followed a year later by a syndie revival of Jeopardy! The market did get quite saturated around that point (no fewer than a dozen shows debuted in 1990 alone, including quite a few revivals, with none lasting more than a season). In the early 1990s, daytime game shows pretty much went by the wayside. Except for the juggernaut The Price Is Right, there wasn't a single daytime game show between the end of Caesar's Challenge in 1993 and the Let's Make a Deal revival that began in 2009. Meanwhile, cable became a haven for game shows for a while, but most of them were cheap, short-lived fluff outside a few Cult Classics like Supermarket Sweep, Double Dare, etc. The cable boom also made way for GSN, which offered reruns of older shows.
The genre returned in a big way in the late '90s/early 2000s with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and The Weakest Link, as well as shows like Greed and the revival of The Hollywood Squares. This boom also caused a deluge of their assorted clones. In the early 2000s, Millionaire and Link pulled in tens of millions of viewers and were watercooler discussion fodder, and their hosts (Regis Philbin and Anne Robinson, respectively) were household names. On top of that, their flashiness and huge prize budgets mostly spelled the end of low-budget cable game shows. Then their networks began marketing them to death (ABC aired Millionaire almost every night of the week), and reality shows like Survivor, American Idol and The Amazing Race started taking off and providing what were then innovative alternatives to the traditional quiz show model. Almost overnight, the shows were only surviving in syndication — and even that wasn't enough to keep Link alive. To this day, their catch phrases ("Is that your final answer?" for Millionaire; "You are the weakest link. Goodbye!" for Link) are considered annoying as all hell. Game shows generally started to die off again, with one of the only success stories in the mid-2000s being Lingo (2002-2007) on GSN. Deal or No Deal sparked another brief revival in 2008, but its incredibly flimsy premise, ever-increasing gimmickry, and Wolverine Publicity helped do it in. Meanwhile, through all the cycles the genre has gone through, the aforementioned syndie versions of Wheel and Jeopardy!, and Price over on CBS, have remained consistently strong.
- In the UK, the genre seemingly died out at the end of the Millionaire Years (thanks to that show and others like The Weakest Link becoming a bit of a joke), but has recovered in recent years with shows like Pointless, The Chase and Eggheads getting good ratings and being nominated for TV awards.
- Power Rangers is very close to its 20 year mark, and it's quickly becoming a good example of this. It was a huge phenomenon in the early 90s, but it began to slowly dwindle until about 2002, when it was bought by Disney, when it got worse. It had a short burst of success then, but Disney was apathetic to the show at even the best of times, and it essentially culminated in its cancellation in 2009 after Power Rangers RPM. However, soon after, the show was bought back by Saban, hopped over to Nickelodeon, and the franchise seems to be back on an upswing.
- In-universe example from How I Met Your Mother: Marshall and Ted take a long drive with just one song to listen to, "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)". In alternating hours, they either hate it or love it (though unlike in a standard Popularity Polynomial, the moments of high "popularity" don't follow the thing's absence, but rather that it has managed to sink in).
- The long-form Mini Series in the US. In The Seventies and The Eighties, this was seen as the premier format for high-quality television, with shows like Roots, Jesus of Nazareth, V, and Rich Man Poor Man allowing the networks and their writers to stretch their wings and bring Hollywood-level production values and big-name stars to the small screen. The then-Big Three networks would devote large chunks of their annual budget and sweeps time to air miniseries that could take up a whole week (or even more) of programming to keep audiences glued to the TV. During The Nineties, however, the quality of miniseries fell into the gutter as networks exploited the format as a sweeps-week Ratings Stunt first and a method of storytelling second. The length of most miniseries also decreased, shrinking to just two parts and 4-5 hours, as networks grew more cost-conscious. By the Turn of the Millennium, a glut of crappy miniseries had virtually discredited the format.
However, the miniseries found new life on cable television in the late '00s, where many smaller networks saw it as a cost-effective alternative to producing long-running series. The History Channel in particular has had a ton of success with shows like Hatfields And Mc Coys and The Bible (2013), while the FX hit American Horror Story has been using a miniseries format in all but name.
- In general, the Two Decades Behind rule of coolness applies:
- The 1950s revival between the late 1960s through the 1980s and even further with Sha Na Na, Grease and Stand by Me are remembered for sparking renewed interest in rock-and-roll.
- The 1980s also revived 1960s guitar-based rock and jangly pop into college rock and Alternative Rock.
- The 1990s and early 2000s revived 1970s-style hard rock and metal into grunge and post-grunge.
- The 2000s reinvigorated the 1980s' emphasis on synthesizers, vocal reverb, high production values, and relatively un-syncopated beats. (Fashion trends, similarly, have appropriated the 1980s' love for striking colors and tight clothes.)
- The New Tens is beginning to show a revival of 1990s pop culture.
- The market for contemporary dance-pop music has seen great periods of popularity and decline, starting with the mid- to late 1980s led by Michael Jackson's Thriller and Madonna's early period, then falling to Grunge and hip-hop in The Nineties. It returned with the rise of the Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Hanson, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears in 1998-1999, then gained a new audience when Disney Channel and Nickelodeon stars like The Jonas Brothers, Hilary Duff and Miley Cyrus branched out into teen pop careers in the mid-to late 2000s. Justin Bieber, Cody Simpson, One Direction, Carly Rae Jepsen, Big Time Rush, Ariana Grande and Austin Mahone seem to be flying the flag for the 2010s.
- The Boy Band craze. From approximately 1998 to 2001, boy bands such as the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC dominated the pop music scene, with multi-platinum albums and incessant airplay and TV spots. At one point, the Backstreet Boys even had Burger King kids' meal toys!! Inevitably, the over-saturation led to a huge backlash and by 2002, it was like they never existed. The boy band stigma has largely prevented most former boy band members from having much of a solo career afterwards (except Justin Timberlake, who beat the stigma by downplaying his association with *NSYNC, and is now as well-known as an actor as he is a singer). Another reason for the downfall of boy bands was the increasing popularity of pop-punk bands like Simple Plan, Good Charlotte, and Fall Out Boy, who soon became the next big thing among the younger demographic, and since they actually played instruments and wrote their own songs, they had much less of a stigma attached to them than boy bands did. In 2012, though, boy bands made a comeback, with Nickelodeon-produced Big Time Rush and British exports The Wanted and One Direction. A lot of the boy bands from the '80s and '90s (New Kids on the Block, the Backstreet Boys, etc.) also started reunion concerts, which attracted a sizable number of twenty- and thirty-something females. One Direction in particular has reached a phenomenon on the level of - or possibly even exceeding - their predecessors. In March, they became the first ever UK group to debut Billboard's top 200 album chart at #1 with the American release of their first album. Their second album sold half a million copies when it was released in November and was able to knock Taylor Swift off the top of the charts. When their third album debuted at #1 in 2013, they became the first group in the nearly 70-year history of the Billboard 200 to debut their first three albums at #1.
- Take That have had a phenomenal comeback after they reformed in 2006 after a decade apart - their three studio albums since their reformation vastly outselling their three before their breakup and their 2011 tour becoming the 22nd highest grossing in history.
- Vinyl records. They were already starting to become old-hat in The Seventies with the introduction of audiocassettes. Then they went out of style in The Eighties as the compact disc took over the market, and they saw themselves pushed back to the indie rock genre and niche applications (particularly DJ-ing). However, the last five years have seen them come back to the forefront, thanks to a combination of factors: the audio distortion caused by the Loudness War having a nasty effect on CD audio quality (an effect that was not heard on vinyl, since such loudness can't be achieved on that medium), a growing preference for the sound of vinyl records (possibly for the reason discussed), the obsolescence of CDs themselves due to the internet, and the surging popularity of indie rock and dance music, the two genres that made the most use of vinyl records since The Eighties.
- While there were still bands playing more traditionally rooted styles of metal in the late 90s and early 2000s that received a fair amount of attention from fan of their particular styles, bands playing modern styles of metal, such as Groove Metal and modern Technical Death Metal, was grew to be more popular with the average metal fan. However, by the mid 2000s, several thrash metal bands began to receive a lot more attention than you would expect for a band playing that style in that period, and these bands kicked off the Thrash Metal revival, which remained fairly popular for a couple of years. In the meantime, interest in older forms of metal other than thrash was also increasing thanks to Darkthrone who adopted a more strightforward, punkier sound and inspired an entire "metalpunk" movement. This was followed by an old school Death Metal revival, the rise of a "retro" doom/70s occult rock scene and "new wave" of traditional heavy metal. Many older bands had also reformed during this time. Though the bands playing more modern forms of metal were still as popular as ever, the interest in older forms of metal among people who would normally have ignored it had grown.
- Heavy metal in the mainstream suffered an deep slump in the early '90s, with grunge bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana taking over the rock charts and MTV. The genre, which had ruled the rock music scene in The Eighties, was driven back underground; the few bands that did find success in The Nineties, like Alice in Chains, Pantera, and Metallica, were those with a Darker and Edgier sound that fit in with the anti-Hair Metal sensibilities of the decade. However, as grunge burned out and transitioned into Post-Grunge, metal made a comeback in the late '90s as an antidote to the boy bands and idol singers of the era. MTV even celebrated this trend in 1999 with a TV special entitled The Return of the Rock, featuring Kid Rock and various other extreme musicians.
- Swing music started off as a fringe genre of jazz, but through the '30s and '40s grew to be wildly popular. Then, in the aftermath of World War II, it suddenly fell out of favor. Teens and dancers abandoned swing for rock-n-roll or crooners like Frank Sinatra, while dedicated jazz fans abandoned swing for the more complex bebop. Up-and-coming jazz musicians preferred playing bebop, because it gave them more soloing time, and jazz clubs preferred booking bebop combos because they were smaller and thus less expensive than swing bands.
- Duke Ellington and his orchestra—who had originally been famous in the swing era—managed to make their comeback in 1956, when their performance at that year's Newport Jazz Festival drove the crowd to pandemonium. In the aftermath Duke was more renowned than he was back when swing was in, and this surge in popularity lasted until his death in 1974.
- Swing in general did not make a comeback with Duke. It did, however, make a brief revival in the '90s, largely thanks to musicians like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Brian Setzer.
- Hard to believe today, but rock 'n roll was as good as dead in the early '60s. Elvis Presley got drafted and then turned to acting, the Day the Music Died took the life of Buddy Holly, Little Richard became born-again and started recording exclusively gospel songs, Jerry Lee Lewis derailed his career by marrying his 14-year-old cousin, Chuck Berry did the same with his own run-ins with the law, and the remaining artists were mostly recording forgettable novelty songs. It was felt that, soon, Rock & Roll would be swept in the dustbin of history where the Moral Guardians felt it belonged. Then came The British Invasion, providing a new jolt of creativity and mainstream appeal to the genre, and since then it hasn't looked back.
- Rap music tends to sporadically go in and out of style. It enjoyed its first peak of mainstream success during the late '80s and early '90s, with artists like MC Hammer, Run-D.M.C. and Vanilla Ice bringing it out of the South Bronx and onto MTV and mainstream pop radio. However, the rise of Gangsta Rap and Hardcore Hip Hop in the mid '90s, while now remembered as something of a golden age for rap music, earned the ire of the era's Moral Guardians due to its hard-edged lyrical content, causing rap to be driven off of mainstream radio playlists. The rise of grunge and Alternative Rock around the same time didn't help matters either. Rap came back in the late '90s through the mid '00s when Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Lil Jon and other artists made Glam Rap a fixture of nightclubs and parties all across America, while Eminem put a white face on gangsta rap to become one of the biggest (and most controversial) stars of the era. Currently, it seems to be entering another hiatus, particularly now that synthpop and other forms of Electronic Music are back in vogue and competing with rap for attention at the aforementioned clubs and parties.
- Speaking of synthpop, it and Electronic Music in general dominated pop music in the '80s, hitting a peak during the "Second Summer of Love" in 1988-89. In the '90s and '00s, though, it was supplanted by R&B, idol singers, and alternative rock, and was viewed as overly-synthesized and artificial. Now, however, it's enjoying a resurgence, with artists like Lady Gaga, Kesha, La Roux and Owl City bringing it back into the mainstream.
- The history of Country Music in America for the past few decades has essentially been a tug-of-war between those who performed a slicker sound inspired by pop and rock music (with frequent crossover forays on those charts) and those who preferred a more traditional country sound. From the late '50s through the '60s, the "Nashville sound" (also known as countrypolitan) dominated the country charts and had a significant presence on the pop charts, but it witnessed a backlash in the '60s from the rival "Bakersfield sound" and in the '70s from outlaw country artists, which both rejected the Nashville sound's pop styling and, in the latter's case, took on a Darker and Edgier attitude to boot. The film Urban Cowboy in 1980 spawned a return of pop-country inspired by that film's soundtrack, which eventually produced a backlash in the late '80s in the form of the neotraditional movement, which drew its main influences from '40s and '50s country.
The "Class of 1989", a group of young artists led by Garth Brooks and Clint Black, was a turning point in country music, marking its transition into a mainstream force throughout the American music world. The booming, Arkansas-based retail chain Walmart, using discount records as a loss leader to pull customers into the store, helped to popularize country outside of its rural base and bring it into suburban America. Furthermore, as explained in this article, the collapse of Hair Metal and Arena Rock in the early '90s and the rise of Three Chords and the Truth in mainstream rock music caused a lot of talented session musicians to pack up for Nashville, where that kind of guitar work was still in demand. This pulled into country music a lot of fans of "classic" rock styles who were turned off by Grunge and Alternative Rock, with Shania Twain's 1997 smash hit Come On Over serving as the Trope Codifier for this sound.
Today, the "arena rock with a steel guitar" style remains the dominant trend within country music, albeit mixed with the "bro"-style rap-skewing country (e.g. Florida Georgia Line); time will tell how long it lasts. The 2010s have seen a backlash brewing, however, chiefly (and rather appropriately, given the aforementioned relationship with '80s hard rock) for the same reasons as the anti-hair metal backlash in The Nineties — a perception that the genre has been overtaken by hedonistic party music and has lost touch with its roots, mirroring the criticism of Glam Rap from old-school hip-hop fans. (The fact that crossovers between country and hip-hop have been among the chief targets of this only heightens the comparisons.) It's been said that mainstream country music operates on a twenty year cycle, with the popular styles of country being reminiscent of what was popular in rock music twenty years prior; see, for example, the emergence of guitar-driven "arena country" in the mid-late '90s corresponding to the rise of arena rock in the mid-late '70s. If this is the case, then country may be facing a shift akin to the rise of grunge.
- When The Monkees debuted in the mid-'60s, they had a string of Top 40 hits and a television program. However, desperate to break out of the mold, they produced the movie Head, which was such a colossal Mind Screw that it killed whatever popularity they had left. But when MTV reran their TV show to celebrate their 20th anniversary, their career got a second wind, and a single off their greatest hits album (That Was Then, This Is Now) re-entered the Top 40 after a 20+ year absence (at the time, it was a record).
- It's easy to forget now, but near the end of his life, Michael Jackson was known for only two things: his degenerating physical appearance and allegations of pedophilia. His death in 2009 pushed his bad qualities far enough into the background that it became somewhat disrespectful to bring them up. Radio stations were free to play his hits from The Eighties again, whereas before the only song of his that would receive any airplay was "Thriller" — and then only around Halloween. Granted, the resurgance of interest didn't lasted as long as expected; aside from two successful Cirque du Soleil Jukebox Musical variants, various postmortem releases — the concert rehearsal film This Is It, the unreleased tracks compilation Michael, a 25th anniversary rerelease of Bad accompanied by a Spike Lee documentary — didn't live up to mountains of hype, and his post-1980s work remains largely overlooked. Still-ongoing (as of 2013) court cases regarding the ugly circumstances of his death don't help, nor does his rabid fanbase's unwillingness to tolerate those who don't think he was Too Good for This Sinful Earth and the greatest artist/entertainer of all time, as it's discouraged less-worshipful examinations of his work and impact. But at least his Glory Days work is acceptable again.
- Between 2004 and 2008, Britney Spears was viewed as the Distaff Counterpart of Michael Jackson. People felt that her career and reputation were beyond repair, and that she'd literally kill herself through her out-of-control lifestyle and craziness. Some people were already writing her obituary. The release of her albums Circus and Femme Fatale, however, have put her music back on top of the charts, restoring her to a level of popularity not seen since her Teen Idol days, while her being placed in the conservatorship of her father has taken her name out of the tabloids.
- Weezer's music video for "Buddy Holly" is the ultimate illustration of the 20-year cycle: a video made in The Nineties about a TV show from The Seventies that was itself nostalgic for The Fifties.
- Deftones were generally seen as being in somewhat of a downward slump after their apex, White Pony, which was followed by two albums generally regarded as mediocre, Deftones (self-titled) and Saturday Night Wrist. However Chi Cheng's accident and the subsequent emotions it inspired in the band seemed to have spurred them into a new renaissance, abandoning the record they were working on at the time, "Eros", and instead producing "Diamond Eyes" and "Koi No Yokan", two of their most popular and highly regarded albums yet.
- Pink Floyd, most specifically The Dark Side of the Moon, has been described in a book as this:
As such Dark Side
has outlasted almost all vagaries of fashion. Punk
pilloried it, but the CD age rescued it; the hardcore late 1980s spat upon it, but the chemical generation spaced out to it; Britpop
made it obsolete, but Radiohead
made it more relevant than ever. And not for one second did it ever stop selling.
- Elton John began as a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter celebrated for classic albums like Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across The Water and Honky Chateau. His public popularity grew in 1973 with the albums Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player and the double album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. which spawned some of the biggest hits of The Seventies. His popularity increased through the first half of the decade, and his outrageous image, employing crazy costumes and glasses made him a phenomenon and Teen Idol, even though the reviews were less enthusiastic. An infamous Rolling Stone magazine interview in 1976, where he declared himself bisexual (later he'd claimed homosexuality), costed him much of his Middle American fanbase, and his own wish to stop touring, saw his fame taper off. Although he had a successful free concert in Central Park in 1980, sales and airplay were nowhere near as they were in the 1970s. He returned in the mid-1980s with albums like Too Low For Zero and Breaking Hearts, and enjoyed more success in The Nineties after going sober (especially after co-writing songs for The Lion King), and he still has occasional comebacks to this day.
- While few have ever denied the social and cultural impact of Al Jolson's work, from about the 1970s onwards it was generally considered not cool to give him anything more than the most cursory acknowledgement, partly due to the nature of his act, but mostly because of his blackface makeup. It wasn't until the 2000s — and ironically mostly through the efforts of modern-day black performers — that Jolson started to become a widespread cultural icon again, with the turning point widely being seen as when the city of New York agreed to name a section of Broadway after Jolson.
- Kiss suffered a career meltdown in the late '70s, partly due to Hype Backlash (they were everywhere) and partly because the two ascendant hard-rock styles of the era, punk and British metal, made Kiss's style sound pretty outdated. Their 1980 "concept" album, Music From the Elder, was a commercial disaster. They had a mini-comeback starting in 1983 when they removed their trademark white-and-black makeup and relaunched as a Bon Jovi-style glam-metal band, but they never again enjoyed the level of popularity in which they had basked from 1975 to 1978...until 1996, when drummer Peter Criss and lead guitarist Ace Frehley (temporarily) rejoined the band, the makeup was slathered back on, and Seventies nostalgia hit America in a huge way.
- The Beach Boys were one of the few groups in the early-to-mid-1960s to rival The Beatles in popularity and influence, first through "fun and sun" hits like "Surfin' U.S.A." and "Little Deuce Coupe", then via their more sophisticated sound of 1965-67. Pet Sounds was misunderstood and sold poorly when it was released, but has since gone on to be seen and one of the best albums ever made in the rock era and is regularly rereleased. Failure to appear at 1967's Monterey Pop Festival, personal crises and the abandonment of their Smile project derailed the band's momentum and brought them negative press, they were seen to be terminally unhip, and Brian Wilson's descent into drug-aggravated mental illness and the release of inconsistent (or equally misunderstood) albums decreased the band's popularity, but touring and performing their golden oldies kept the money flowing, at a time when they needed the funds when their publishing was sold for a pittance by the Wilsons' father Murry. A Greatest Hits album, Endless Summer, came out in 1974 and went to number one, and the return of Brian as writer/producer/performer led to a career comeback. Inconsistent or weird album squandered this opportunity, Dennis Wilson died in a tragic drowning incident in 1983, and the group entered a slow period that lasted until 1988, when "Kokomo" from that year's Cocktail movie topped the charts. With Brian separated from the band by his svengali therapist Dr. Eugene Landy (who Brian hired in 1975 and finally fired in 1993), the group could not sustain the success of "Kokomo" via Mike Love's leadership, the "golden oldies" formula was wearing thin, and Carl Wilson succumbed to cancer in 1996. A reinterest in the band occured with 1992's boxed set Good Vibrations, and Brian took to touring and recording playing "SMiLe" and "Pet Sounds" on the road to massive success and critcal acclaim. They later scored their first Top Ten album in many years with Brian as full-time member with the 50th anniversary "reunion album", That's Why God Made The Radio in 2012, though Brian, David Marks and Al Jardine left the band a year later.
- Hulk Hogan. At the height of his popularity in 1985, he hosted Saturday Night Live and was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. By the time 1994 rolled around, he was seen as a self-parody whose shelf life was such that he needed to ditch the hero routine altogether just to remain relevant. However, in 2002, his return to WrestleMania — still in his villain persona — resulted in the fans cheering him over the Rock. To this day, he and the Rock are among the closest things the WWE has produced to A-list deities.
- This happens to pro athletes all the time, even more so today in the age of multi-million dollar contracts, free agency, and intense media scrunity. You'd never know it today, but Ted Williams was booed everywhere in the American League, including Boston, for at least half of his career — but time (and military service) has left him in a more favorable light. Alex Rodriguez seems to be on a downturn right now, but was one of the most popular players in the past and probably will be again before it's all said and done. Jennifer Capriati went from "tennis phenom" to "troubled teenager" to "elder stateswoman of tennis". Mike Tyson alone has jumped back and forth at least twice each.
- During The Fifties, the only place where baseball wasn't in a sorry state was New York City. The minor leagues were collapsing due to the availability of major league games on television, old stadiums were growing increasingly decrepit, the dominance of New York teams (particularly the Yankees)note was causing fans outside New York to tune out, some teams were still refusing to integrate long after Jackie Robinson had broken down the color barrier, and the sport had no real presence (other than the aforementioned minor leagues) in the fast-growing "Sun Belt" of the South and the West Coast. All of this gave football, both professional and college-level, enough room to build itself up as a serious rival to baseball's status as "America's pastime."
Then in 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants note moved to, respectively, Los Angeles and San Francisco, starting a trend for other teams looking to build new stadiums, which resulted in the sport's expansion beyond the East Coast and the Midwest. This was followed by the collapse of the long-running Yankees dynasty in The Sixties, meaning that fans of other franchises now had a chance to see their teams win the World Series. Suddenly, baseball was relevant again, and in a position to put up a real fight against football for the rest of the century.
Of course, New York sportswriters are still likely to remember The Fifties as baseball's "golden age", simply because it was the era in which the Yankees got the World Series rings they were entitled to, dammit! And if the Yankees didn't win, then the Dodgers or the Giants probably did.
- On a much smaller scale, sports like figure skating, women's gymnastics and, depending on where you live, soccer. Every four years, during the Olympic Games and The World Cup, those sports take center stage and grab the headlines, and then afterwards, the athletes largely disappear into obscurity until the next big sporting event rolls around.
- George Steinbrenner is generally remembered as controversial but successful as owner of the New York Yankees from 1973 until his death in 2010, but there was a time when he was considered much more controversial than successful. Within a few years of becoming owner, he established a reputation as an often tyrannical and capricious but effective owner, using his vast reserves of money and the newly instituted system of free agency to put together a dysfunctional but winning team, winning the World Series in 1977 and 1978. They continued to be mostly a winning team for the next decade, but repeatedly fell short of playoff success, and then finished with a losing season each year from 1989 to 1992. That, coupled with his being removed permanently from the Yankees' baseball operations in 1990 for hiring a gambler to dig up dirt on star player Dave Winfield, make his reputation that of a corrupt egomaniac who had ruined a once proud franchise. However, he was reinstated in 1993, and brought the Yankees back to their winning ways, partly because he took a less hands-on approach to the team, including stopping his infamous tendency to constantly replace managers. the Yankees won five more World Series before his death, insuring that his legacy would be overall positive.
- Brett Favre will likely become an example of this in 2015 when he enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was revered by fans as the guy who saved the Green Bay Packers franchise and brought them their first Super Bowl victory in 30 years when he retired for the first time following the 2007 season. He then un-retire before the 2008 season and was traded to the New York Jets. The move divided the Cheeseheads (Packers fans) to where the CBS affiliates in Green Bay and Milwaukee requested as many Jets games as possible to facilitate the large number of fans who still supported Favre. Following the season, Favre retired for a second time, then un-retired again only to sign with the Packers' hated rivals, the Minnesota Vikings which drew ire even from fans who'd continued to support him as a Jet. After a relatively successful year with the Vikings in which they beat the Packers twice, Favre retired again only to once-again come out of retirement. Fortunately for the Packers, It Got Better this time around. Not only did the Packers, led by former Favre understudy Aaron Rodgers easily avenge both of the previous years' losses to the Vikings en route to victory in Super Bowl XLV, but Favre had the worst season of his career that also saw him miss his first game since becoming the Packers starting QB in 1992 due to a late-season injury To make matters worse, he was also involved in a scandal when it came to light that he attempted to have an extra-marital affair with a Jets cheerleader during his season in New York. He reitred for good following the 2010 season, and steps are already being taken on both sides to repair Favre's relationship with the Packers organization and fans.
- The general subject matter in which comedians are allowed to traffic seems to shift this way and that constantly. Perhaps most notably, ethnic/racial and male-chauvinist humor has gone back and forth across the line on more or less a decade-by-decade basis since The Sixties, with The Eighties probably the low point of acceptability.
- Similarly, political humor seems to wax and wane, depending on how high a profile America has on the world stage at a given moment.
- RENT was a huge hit when it premiered on Broadway. It was acclaimed and loved by audiences, becoming one of the most popular Broadway musicals of the 1990s. Then, around the mid-2000s, the musical started to get dismissed as narmy and overrated by audiences. Hype Backlash had set in and the show eventually had its final showing in 2008. The failed film adaptation surely didn't help things. Fast-forward to the 2010s and it is again being recognized as a fantastic work of drama with interesting compositions that were unlike anything at the time. RENT continues to hold a high popularity and seems to be making a comeback with audiences.
- Duke Nukem Forever has gone through this cycle twice already. It was highly anticipated in the late 90s, became nothing more than a punchline to any joke about vaporware or Schedule Slip during the 2000s, and then became legitimately anticipated again when it was finally released in 2011. Unfortunately, this trope, combined with Two Decades Behind, is also a major reason why it received such a lukewarm reaction. Critics pointed out that, after 15 years in development, its style of gameplay and presentation didn't hold up well against the landscape of modern shooters.
- Nintendo. In the '80s and early '90s, it was the embodiment of modern entertainment. In the late '90s and early 2000s, it became "the kiddy company" and slipped into last place. So what does Nintendo do? Rather than fight the "kiddy" associations, it embraces them (to the aggrieved cries of the hardcore gaming market), marketing the Wii to families, senior citizens, and other groups not traditionally viewed as "core" gamers. Thanks to this strategy, it is once again the dominant force in gaming. Casual gaming is largely responsible for Nintendo's resurgence, being followed up by Zynga, Popcap, smartphone apps, and motion controls for the other consoles. These casual-friendly developers eventually left Nintendo crowded out in the eighth generation.
- Pokémon. Back in the late '90s, it was the king of kid fads. But it quickly faded among people who only played it to be "cool", and in a few short years, the only people who would still publicly admit to liking it were small children (though the games were still system sellers). As the Turn of the Millennium came to a close, it started making a comeback. Kids can safely admit to liking it in public again, longtime fans are no longer bashed for it, and those kids who were only fans back in the day are now grown-ups old enough to wax nostalgic about it, as seen in the page image. In fact, a Japanese clothing company released a line of Poké-merchandise specifically targeted at adult Poké-fans, with an "artsier" bent to it. However, the above is mostly restricted to the games: while there is not as much hate for the Pokémon anime as around the Johto arc, it still hasn't recovered quite as much as the games did.
- Indie gaming, the Wii, and mobile gaming have brought back quite a few genres that were once assumed to have died.
- 2D side-scrollers and platformers, such as Castlevania, Contra, Super Mario Bros., and Double Dragon, once made up the bedrock of the industry. After the Video Game 3D Leap, they were viewed as quaint relics of the pre-PlayStation era, and were relegated to handhelds and cheap Flash games... until New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. Wii tore up the charts, and indie games like Braid and Eversion became critical darlings. Now, the side-scroller has once again become a major part of gaming, as seen with the latest installments in series like Mega Man, Sonic, Donkey Kong, Rayman, and Kirby, as well as original games like LittleBigPlanet, Super Meat Boy, and 'Splosion Man.
- The Survival Horror genre originated as a nifty response to the technological limitations of fifth-generation consoles, and produced a mountain of killer apps for the young PlayStation console, most notably Resident Evil and Silent Hill, which were among the premier game franchises in the second half of the '90s. In the Turn of the Millennium, however, the genre was squeezed out by rising budgets and the homogenization of the AAA game industry; both Resident Evil and Silent Hill went through Dork Ages brought on by attempts to compete with shooters, and other series likewise withered and died. However, starting in the late '00s the genre made a comeback in the indie realm, with games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, DayZ, and Slender being well-received and spawning a wave of new horror efforts.
- And with The Last of Us being a smash hit critically and commercially, with many even considering it the best game of the entire Seventh Generation, the genre is on its way back to being a success with mainstream developers as well.
- After the leap to 3D, sprite graphics were considered hopelessly outdated, something only seen in bargain-bin shovelware and in "retro" collections that only got away with it due to the Grandfather Clause. But once again, indie and smaller developers looked at sprites and saw an inexpensive alternative to high-tech 3D graphics engines, especially now that technology allowed for the display of far more detailed sprites. Braid, for instance, got a ton of mileage out of its artistic sprite characters.
- The Adventure Game, particularly the point-and-click puzzle variety, mostly dried up around the mid '90s around the same time LucasArts stopped making them in favor of Star Wars licensed games, upstaged by new genres such as the First-Person Shooter. For a long time, they were all but absent except in the indie and hobby scene. Starting around 2008, however, Telltale Games started making inroads with rebooting classic franchises such as Sam & Max, and the rise of digital distribution meant that companies like LucasArts and Sierra could offer their old games for sale to the public again. Fast forward to 2013, where adventure games feature heavily in the indie renaissance, Telltale's adaptation of The Walking Dead wins multiple Game of the Year awards, and the mere promise of an adventure game by LucasArts veteran Tim Schafer nets Double Fine over $3 million on Kickstarter and starts the craze of crowdfunding indie games (including other genres that fell victim to market trends and the blockbuster model).
- Retro gaming, in particular the 16 bit period. Emulators have led people to discover a lot of old classics that can be played for free, take up hardly any space and do not take any time to install. Companies have followed suit by reissuing older games. In addition, PS1 gaming is also making a comeback via the Playstation Network and emulation on PSP. This doesn't apply to Europe, though, due to No Export for You issues.
- Mortal Kombat in The Nineties: a ridiculously popular 2D fighting game, with blood and gore as a selling point. Mortal Kombat during the Turn of the Millennium: an overcomplicated, ridiculously unbalanced 3D fighting game series that was past its prime (the Lighter and Softer crossover with DC not helping anything), and suffered heavily from the Polygon Ceiling. Mortal Kombat starting with the 2011 reboot: a ridiculously popular 2D fighting game, with blood and gore as a selling point.
- The Sonic the Hedgehog series has gone on a wild roller coaster of this. When it came out, it immediately became on of the definitive games of The 16-bit Era and put the Sega Genesis into a fierce competition with Nintendo. During the time of the Sega Saturn, his popularity dipped because the series was strangely on main series hiatus, only existing through spinoffs. Come the Dreamcast, the leap to 3D with Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 was wildly popular and highly acclaimed, but subsequent games would take their notable flaws in the camera and controls and cause the series to have a bad reputation of being in 3D. This was exacerbated by the over-the-top Darker and Edgier Shadow the Hedgehog, the infamous Obvious Beta Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) and the shameful Porting Disaster of the original game, causing the series to fall into Snark Bait. After Sonic Unleashed introduced a new well-received style of play, with Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations refining it and removing any poorly received alternate gameplay styles, Sonic's popularity increased even more. It really says something when Sonic's appearing to market commercials (he hasn't done this since the 90s), and even appearing in a movie when just until a few years before he was an object of scorn and ridicule among much of the gaming community. However, the series' popularity has dipped a little once again, with Sonic Lost World getting a lukewarm reception for its jarringly different gameplay and collection of other highly experimental playstyles.
- Video game development itself, in general. In the early years, pretty much every game was designed by a small group or a lone-wolf developer, as the hardware was simple and primitive. But by the mid-nineties, demand for cutting-edge graphics, sound, and gameplay grew, and pretty much shut out all the small development groups in favor of only the largest ones, such as the "cast of hundreds" required and advertised in Final Fantasy VII. By the late 2000s, retro gaming and corporate bloat, while did not kill off most of the huge companies and their budgets, brought the indie developer back to life again.
- The Eastern RPG genre in the West. During the 90s and early 2000s, the genre was viewed as the ultimate video game narrative genre, with awesome storylines that many said rivaled some Hollywood blockbusters. However, sometime during the mid-2000s, with the explosion of Western development teams and the decay of the Japanese industry, the tides changed dramatically, not helped by the fact that technological advances eventually allowed other genres to tell equally detailed stories. During the late-2000s and early-2010s, it was a dreaded video game genre, seen as a poison that had been holding video games back as a narrative medium for too long (a matter largely spurred on by the polarizing critical and commercial reaction to Final Fantasy XIII). Eventually, however, the Eastern RPG started making a comeback. This can be attributed to the critical and commercial success of Xenoblade, which is generally cited as the game that saved JRPG's from becoming Deader Than Disco. Other critically and commercially successful JRPG's released during the past couple years include The Last Story, Ni No Kuni and a handful of Nintendo 3DS JRPG's.
- Western Animation as a whole went through this from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. While animation was already becoming less and less popular through the 1950s and much of the 1960s (thanks in part to television and the rise of Limited Animation), the death of Walt Disney sent it completely into a dark age. While there was a lot of experimental and adult-oriented animation released during the 1970s, it was still seen as a gimmick used to entertain children, a sentiment that continued through the 1980s. Then Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released...
- My Little Pony, after its enormous popularity during the 80s and early 90s, faded into obscurity by the latter half of the 90s. In 2010, along came My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, which not only proved to be popular among viewers of an unexpectedly wide age range but also exploded onto the Internet, collecting more images, comments, and views on Know Your Meme than anything else.
- In the 2000s, Rugrats was one of the most hated (if not, the most hated) cartoons on the internet. Many people didn't admit to liking the show in public anymore, people would get laughed at if they admitted to liking it and the show's popularity waned to incredible lengths. It got to the point of where nearly every review on IMDB for the show was negative and people wanted Sponge Bob Square Pants to outrun the show in lengthtivity. Following Spongebob's Seasonal Rot as well reruns of Rugrats on Nickelodeon and TeenNick's The '90s Are All That , people rediscovered the show and now the show is one of the most popular cartoons on the internet (including its later episodes). People are actually admitting to their love for the show without getting laughed at, many people pine for a return of the show and it seems to have grown a larger fanbase than it did when it was on.
- Adam West. In the late 1960s, he was a prime-time TV star and the actor charged with bringing Batman back to life. Head to the '80s and the return of the Dark Knight, and West is a persona non grata, firmly stuck as a reminder of the Dork Age Batman. But today? He's a staple voice actor in comedies such as Family Guy precisely because of his history as Batman, and trademark overdramatic voice.
- In fact, the whole thing had a Lampshade Hanging in Batman: The Animated Series. There was an episode wherein Bruce Wayne met the actor who'd played his childhood idol. The actor's life mirrored West's post-Batman life, and West did the voice acting.
- The Seventies. Throughout the '80s and '90s, this decade was seen as America's Dork Age. Nowadays, it's seen as a more innocent time. (Think about that for a second.) Elements from the '70s which have made comebacks since then include:
- Bell-bottom jeans.
- The afro.
- The medium-length bowl cut with the fringe.
- Rollerskating thanks to Rollerblade pushing inline skates.
- Stoners on TV.
- Disco. A great deal of popular music for the past two decades has been essentially Disco that Dared Not Speak Its Name. However, the word still has a ways to go. Thanks to bands like Daft Punk and LCD Soundsystem, it's on its way back.
- Blaxploitation also makes a comeback every few years, although this is mainly so that people can have a giggle at the loud fashions and overuse of Jive Turkey, rather than recall the genre's roots as a supplement of the Civil Rights Movement.
- Blaxploitation music is very well regarded by DJs, and record collectors. It was also sampled by a lot of rappers. Even if the fashion is cliched, the music is still cool as ever.
- The Eighties have been getting this too, with the returning popularity of everything from Transformers to leg warmers. Yes, leg warmers.
- Leg warmers + skirts = awesome. The inverted version (leggings under skirts) seems to have made a comeback in the mid '00s after being absent since the '80s. Here, it has some justification — the revived trend started with teenage girls, who used the style to exploit a loophole in many high school dress codes that established a minimum length for skirts. If you were wearing leggings underneath, you could wear as short a skirt as you wanted, since you were technically also wearing pants. Eventually, it became a fad for quite some time.
- There's a lot of synthpop inspired bands around these days, when it used to be the prime example for people to explain why the 80s sucked so much.
- Conspicuous consumption, at least until the financial crisis hit.
- Some stuff from The Nineties is starting to come back, such as plaid flannel shirts and hi-top fades, after anything from the '90s was seen as uncool at the start of The Oughts.
- The Yo-Yo. Not so much Popularity Polynomial as Popularity Sinusoid. It really does come around that regularly.
- Ventriloquism was once considered the deadest of all show business horses. Then all of a sudden Jeff Dunham came along, and earned his own TV special after several sold-out performances. Terry Fator also has his own Las Vegas show.
- Skateboarding has fluctuated in and out of popularity so much that nobody seems to care whether or not it's "in," least of all the skaters themselves.
- The game developers do; see also, Tony Hawk Ride.
- Skateboarding was big in the mid-Seventies and late Seventies, largely on the back of the popularity of surfing at that time. It died away in the early Eighties, until, of all things, Back to the Future mainstreamed it again.
- Modern social dance has undergone a huge revival, starting in the '90s. Latin clubs sprung up across the US, ballroom dancing got a big boost with Dancing with the Stars, and swing dancing was resurrected by college students across the US and Europe.
- Combine that with The Seventies above, and you get the return of roller disco.
- American cars from The Fifties are beloved today, with their huge tailfins and large amounts of chrome. However, when they went out of style in The Sixties, they went out hard. Back then, few people who could afford it would be caught dead driving around in a '57 Bel Air. It didn't help that a lot of that stylish chrome decoration had a tendency to fall off after a few years due to rust. It was only with the rise of Fifties nostalgia in general in The Seventies and especially The Eighties that cars from that decade started to be more appreciated.
- The lifecycle of a car design has stretched considerably. Today, a new car can be exhibited at major shows almost a year before it hits the market; then comes a 5-7 year production cycle and upwards of a 20-year period before examples of a discontinued model that was popular when new are rare enough not to be an everyday sight. Expect at least another ten years after that for them to start showing up at classic-car events.
- The recent trend towards environmentalism and energy efficiency in the cultural consciousness has done this for a lot of seemingly "outdated" technologies and vehicles:
- The post-war American car market has constantly cycled between demand for larger, roomier, more powerful automobiles and smaller, more efficient ones. In The Fifties and The Sixties, the trend was toward "bigger is better" with land-yachts and muscle cars to show off the newfound wealth of America's middle class. Then, the Arab oil embargo caused demand to shift towards compact and midsize cars and, later, minivans for most of The Seventies and The Eighties. As a new generation came of age with little memory of the energy crises, large vehicles came back into style, this time in the form of large SUVs, in The Nineties and the Turn of the Millennium. Now, thanks to the spikes in gas prices of 2005 (post-Hurricane Katrina) and 2008, compounded with the economic recession, SUVs are out, and crossovers, hybrids and compacts are in, as well as...
- Minivans. As mentioned, they were huge in The Eighties as a fuel-efficient alternative to land-yacht station wagons (the fuel crises of The Seventies still fresh in everyone's mind), but faded away in the late '90s, thanks to SUVs, the perception that the average minivan owner was a boring "soccer mom" suburbanite, and the fact that the styling was getting blander — compare, say, the Chevy Lumina◊ and the Toyota Previa◊ to the Ford Freestar◊. While they haven't shaken their uncool reputation, minivans have seen a small resurgence after the decline of the SUV market, due to their similar capacity and greater fuel efficiency.
- Small "econo-box" autos and hatchbacks. During the height of the last "Bigger is Better" craze during The Nineties and the Turn of the Millennium, it seemed as though the only choices for new car owners were four-door sedans and body-on-frame SUVs. Lately, though, vehicles like the new Mini Cooper and various hybrids are selling so fast that it took years before the automakers could meet demand, and older models such as the Geo Metro and Volkswagen Beetle can sell for up to triple their Blue Book value on the used car market on the basis of fuel economy alone. The American automakers have even started importing some of their compact European models to meet this new demand, ending decades of No Export for You — to such success that it has been cited as one of the reasons for the revitalization of Detroit's "Big Three" after decades of seemingly interminable decline.
- Up until The Seventies, bicycles were seen primarily as transportation, and were built with full fenders and used either single speed or 3-speed internal gear hubs. Once the health craze launched a cycling boom, many people started switching to racing bikes, which strove to add more gears and lighter materials. Older cruisers, "English" 3-speeds, and even the steel 10-speeds made at the start of the biking boom came to be seen as extremely dorky. Recently, however, a shift back to the use of bikes for transportation has led to the return of internal gear hubs, single speeds, and even fixed-gear bikes, with specialty makers building custom steel frames instead of aluminum or carbon fiber. The racing bikes, by contrast, are now the ones that are seen as dorky, while the once-cool lycra riding uniforms associated with them are now viewed as symbols of the nadir of '80s fashion.
- Streetcars. After World War II, a combination of cheap gas and the growing popularity of buses (and, according to conspiracy theorists, some underhanded tactics by the auto industry) led to many streetcar lines falling out of use and eventually being dismantled. The few surviving ones, such as those in San Francisco and New Orleans, persisted more for their historical and tourism value than anything else. When cities did invest in mass transit, it would often be in the form of buses and subways that wouldn't threaten the flow of automobile traffic on the streets. In the Turn of the Millennium, however, the green movement and fears over rising gas prices led several cities to build or expand "light rail" systems, which are essentially streetcars with decades worth of new technology.
- City centers. After World War II, when the G.I. Billnote , cheap gas, cheap land, the new Interstate Highway System, and the postwar baby boom created an enormous demand for housing that couldn't be met by the cities alone. As a result, this led to a massive boom in Suburbia and cities began to expand outward rather than upward leading to a phenomenon known as "white flight" in which middle-class white families moved out to the suburbs, taking their tax dollars with them and leaving the cities behind to decay. In recent times however since as early as The Nineties, city centers have seen a resurgence in popularity especially among younger folk due to factors such as better public transit and walkability, proximity to work and cultural attractions, and frustration with suburban life and automobile gridlock.
- Facial hair in the West has gone in and out of style in a cyclical fashion for centuries among the elite following the same basic pattern as anything else: the ruling class has facial hair, everyone else has facial hair, the ruling class doesn't want to look like the lower class, the ruling class no longer has facial hair, and so on. The last time it was "in" in the West (i.e. would you expect your average CEO/congressman/stockbroker to have facial hair) was during the first several decades of the 20th century — the last US president, for example, to have facial hair was William Howard Taft, who was President from 1909-1913.
- Posession of a moustache will lead to jokes about you being a creepy possible pedophile (if you're older than 30) or an insufferable hipster (if you're younger than 30).
- A quick perusal of Pintrest's Men's Fashion section will show the many variety of beards worn by fashion models and actors, both current and former Silver Screen Studs.
- Facial hair seems to be making a VERY gradual comeback, or depending on how you look at it, it already has, with the most popular style being the Perma Stubble. It can go back to clean shaven or full on beards from here.
- Mustaches were very common for men between about 1850 and 1900, then slowly started to disappear - partly for hygienic reasons and partly as a reaction against Victorian values. By the Roaring Twenties, only older or working-class men tended to have mustaches, and things remained that way until about 1970, when the hippie counterculture went mainstream. Thus began another golden age for the mustache, which lasted until about 1990 (by which point the Baby Boomers were seen as unhip). It's yet to return in full force, although it's still quite common among certain ethnic groups (Blacks and Latinos, to give two obvious examples) and in various European countries where facial hair is still considered manly and/or sophisticated.
- Revolvers experienced this in The Nineties, at least in the American civilian market. The Eighties saw the rise of so-called "Wonder Nines," 9 millimeter handguns that held 15 rounds or more, vastly outstripping the six-round capacity of most revolvers. Police forces switched over immediately, and civilians took to the new guns almost as quickly. In 1994, however, the Assault Weapons Ban was passed, heavily restricting, among other things, the sale of guns with magazines that held more than ten rounds. This stripped the Wonder Nines of their chief advantage, allowing revolvers to retake market share. Even after the ban expired in 2004, this trope remained in effect in those states that still had their own laws on the books — revolvers are noticeably more popular in, say, New York than they are in Florida.
- At the dawn of The Nineties, most observers in the computer world had given up Unix for dead, due to the fragmentation among vendors and the GNU Project's slowness in developing a free replacement. Then a Finnish grad student by the name of Linus Torvalds released the Linux kernel to the Internet. It was rapidly adopted by GNU and various Linux distributions (though Richard Stallman prefers you call it "GNU/Linux", thank you very much), have provided a viable alternative to Windows and Mac operating systems. Open source systems based on BSD also popped up in the early '90s (Mac OS X is based in part on FreeBSD.) They're most successful as servers and in high-powered applications such as animation rendering and supercomputers.
- The programming language Lisp had been considered dead ever since the AI Winter caused all the funds for artificial intelligence research, which was the field most Lisp programmers worked in, to dry up. The language has seen a revivial of interest, however, in The Turn of the Millennium and The New Tens largely thanks to Paul Graham.
- Baby names. There are some names that never go out of style, but others run in hundred-year cycles - in The Thirties "Shirley" was a little girl and "Zack" was a grizzled old prospector. Today Shirley's collecting Social Security and Zack's a young man in his teens or twenties. Such "time capsule names" tend to be popular for about 20 years and then become indelibly linked to the generation born when they were popular, until they're rediscovered a few decades after that generation dies off and then they become indelibly linked to the new one.
- One major reason for this is the tendency to name children after grandparents and great-grandparents.
- This is something for fiction writers to watch out for - one of the easiest ways to provoke outrage over sloppy research is to have an entire cast of 20- and 30-somethings with names that are popular baby names now but weren't in the '70s and '80s; or to have a period-set story where characters' names are typical of the generations that are that age today rather than the cohort the characters are supposed to belong to. An outlier or two is fine, but too many can be overwhelming.
- After the fall of the Iron Curtain, socialism was considered as good as dead in the United States. After the 2007-08 financial crisis, people started to think that perhaps equitable distribution of resources might be a good idea. As seen in the Occupy movement, socialism is coming back as a viable political theory (although the word remains a taboo in mainstream US politics).
- Socialism hasn't had a chance in U.S. electoral politics at anything beyond the state level (and for that matter only in the smaller states, most notably Vermont) since the 1930s, partly because the New Deal was thought to have made socialism obsolete. But it was the early 1950s' Red Scare that pretty much killed off American socialism, especially once the "Red hunters" were able to stir up class resentment against "left-wing intellectuals", giving us the current Bourgeois Bohemian trope. Liberalism has since made a comeback, of course, but it is a bourgeois, cultural liberalism that most old-school socialists find obscene.
- The use of "Frisco" by natives of San Francisco, as explained in this Chronicle article.
- TV antennas have made a comeback with "cord cutters," people who watch online video using services like Netflix exclusively without signing up for cable and satellite services. When they do want to watch live TV, antennas work just fine. Since all terrestrial TV broadcasting in the U.S. is digital, there's none of the snow or ghosting associated with traditional TV antennas.
- Mime. Yes, mime. It was considered a great source of entertainment about a century ago, when it contributed so much of the humor in vaudeville, the circus, and (of course) silent movies. Then "talkies" came along in the late 1920s, and suddenly mime comedy was Deader Than Disco (as depicted in Singin' in the Rain and elsewhere). There were a few holdouts, of course - Charlie Chaplin, Harpo Marx, cartoon characters like Pluto who couldn't talk - but they were the exception, as most people in the 1930s and '40s preferred to be entertained by characters who said funny things rather than acting out funny things. Then Marcel Marceau came along in the 1950s and breathed new life into the art form, even elevating it to the level of high culture...which unfortunately ultimately backfired, as Marceau inspired a glut of amateurish imitators in the decades immediately following who once again cheapened the image of mime, even giving us the current Everyone Hates Mimes trope. Yet mime has never truly died: Countless performers who are not even often thought of as mimes, such as Rowan Atkinson, John Belushi, and Jim Carrey, have proudly carried the tradition into the late twentieth century and beyond. Circus companies such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey and the Big Apple Circus also have given miming and clowning more attention in recent decades (in part a side effect of wild animal-based acts falling out of favor with modern audiences), and Cirque du Soleil and other "contemporary circus" companies pivot upon performers who can engage audiences with few or no words at all.
- Men's underwear seems to go through this cycle. The BVD underwear company introduced briefs for men in the 1930s - which caused a sensation, as they were skimpier than most women's panties at the time. This graudally brought about a change in men's intimate and leisurely fashions, with short underpants replacing the jockey shorts and long johns previously popular and male swimmers, bodybuilders and surfers wearing skimpy trunks instead of the one-piece swimsuits from the 1920s. By the 1970s and '80s, wearing midthigh-length shorts as underwear was thought to be hopelessly old-fashioned, with only older men daring to be caught in them. Then the pendulum swung back: in The Nineties, perhaps as a backlash against the burgeoning gay culture or maybe due to inspiration from the ultra-manly, proletarian fashion sense of Seattle grunge rock, jockey shorts (especially plaid ones) became cool again, so that now wearing briefs is often thought of as effeminate. Eventually, though, at least for some men, the two sides met in the middle, so that now you can easily find in most department stores "boxer-briefs", which have elastic waistbands and legbands but cover everything above the mid-thigh. When it comes to Professional Wrestling, however, this trope has always been inoperative.
- Heavy cosmetics for women, such as lipstick and eyeshadow, have faded in and out of popularity over the course of the century, literally altering the face of Western womanhood. It became standard for women sometime about the 1930s and continued throughout the '40s and '50s, until it reached the point at which pictures of women from the mid-20th-century can sometimes look clownish. A more barefaced look was popularized by female folk singers (Joan Baez, most famously) beginning in The Sixties, and then that became the standard. Heavy makeup returned with a vengeance in The Eighties; since then, it has gradually fallen out of favor again and is now relatively uncommon...though the line has not been a completely straight one and there are always exceptions.
- With the rise of coffeehouse culture in the U.S. in The Nineties, drip coffee was seen as something for old people or the terminally clueless by serious coffee afficionados. Real coffee came from espresso machines or a French press. But with the rise of "third wave" coffee culture, coffee lovers have rediscovered manual pour-over drip coffee makers.
- Googie architecture went out of style soon after the 1950's but discovered a resurgence in the 80's that continues to this day thanks to its nostalgic style emblematic of the decade. The rocket-like tailfins, starbursts, and odd geometric shapes are still a staple of bowling alleys, hamburger restaurants, auto repair shops, and other businesses popular in the 50's, as well as signs for cities that became popular in that decade, most notably Las Vegas. There exist societies dedicated to preserving Googie buildings that escaped the mass demolitions in the 60's and 70's due to their perceived old-fashionedness during then, making it a case of Deader Than Disco during disco's own time.
- LEGO, popular plastic building blocks created in the 1930's. The toys have always been relatively popular, but in the late 90's/early 2000s, the Lego Company decided to start licensing popular franchises such as Star Wars. Legos suddenly boomed in popularity with video games, fan made stop motion videos, and in 2014 a highly successful movie.
- Like facial hair, long hair on men cycles in and out of fashion. It was shocking at first in The Sixties, with The Beatles and the rise of the counterculture. In The Seventies, long hair was de riguer, before the Punk Rock and New Wave subcultures heralded a return to shorter hairstyles through The Eighties with the rise of Hair Metal, albeit heavily styled. Unadorned long hair came back into fashion in The Nineties with the rise of Grunge, only for shorter styles to come back into fashion around The Ought. Then the rise of Emo subculture popularized the much-derided style of the bangs covering the eyes. The backlash against the subculture in turn caused a return to shorter hairstyles. Then Justin Bieber and One Direction popularized slightly longer hairstyles for teenage males again.