Popularity Polynomial

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High-school Pokémon fans, rejoice!

"Look on the bright side, Eddy. My parents say fads go in a cycle. In another ten years, we'll be back in style!"

This is when something which portrays itself as "cutting edge" becomes mainstream, but soon becomes overexposed, behind the times, old hat, or just plain uncool. However, given enough time, it 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 the equivalent of a 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.

    Explanation 
A polynomial 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+bx0). 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+8x4+15x3+16x2+23x1+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, in a polynomial in x of a high-degree you can expect y to go up and down as x grows.note  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, Genre Relaunch and Vindicated by History. Contrast with Deader Than Disco.

Examples:

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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. There was a crash afterwards, but in The New Tens shows like Kill la Kill, One-Punch Man, and Attack on Titan caused yet another boom. Two particular anime that experienced this is Dragon Ball Z and Neon Genesis Evangelion: Both acted as gateway series to the world of anime, Dragon Ball Z being the most popular shonen series and Evangelion once being regarded True Art. Around the early 2000s, Hype Backlash hit both series big time (DBZ because of its filler and inaction sequences and Evangelion because of its confusing plotline) and it suddenly became wrong to openly admit to liking either series. Then later Dragon Ball Z Kai and Rebuild of Evangelion, respectively, renewed interest in both franchises, but then interest died out again after Kai became overshadowed by a plagiarism controversy toward the end of its initial run, while the Rebuild movies got more confusing than the original TV show. Dragon Ball, however, has since rebounded with a pair of movies (Battle of Gods and Resurrection 'F') and Dragon Ball Super.
  • Yu Gi Oh ARCV managed to renew a lot of interest in the series after the previous two series (Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's and Yu Gi Oh Zexal) proved to be rather divisive among fans. This is thanks in part by having a surprisingly well thought out and in-depth plot, as well as having a surprisingly in-depth cast of characters where even the generic anime stereotypes manage to hold a surprisingly large fanbase. Also helps the characters are also Genre Savvy, with quite a few using competitive viable decks and carrying multiple copies of the same card. Indeed, many consider it the best anime since the original, with a bold few even going as far to say as it manages to top it many ways!
  • MD Geist is a bizarre example of this phenomenon. Part of the initial North American anime boom, MD Geist was successful when it was brought to North America, largely due to the efforts of Central Park Media president John O'Donnel, who loved and promoted it to a ridiculous level. In part due to this overexposure, it was hated by vocal Otakus and acquired a reputation as the "worst anime ever" after its commercial success faded. This changed in the late 2000s when the OVA was shown on Sci Fi Channel's Ani Monday block, due to a combination of a growing backlash against certain trends such as Moe and being nowhere near as bad as advertised. While few people would argue MD Geist is good art, it is now largely seen as enjoyable rather than being garbage, and several articles have been written arguing against its reputation as the "worst anime".

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animated 
  • 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 '70s. By The '80s, Disney was better known as a theme park operator than a filmmaker. 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 clichéd formula prevalent in these films, drifted towards the then-new All-CGI Cartoon popularized by Pixar and DreamWorks Animation. Disney responded by shutting down their traditional animation studio and releasing a string of their own CGI animated films, few of which made much of an impact; even the traditionally-animated throwback The Princess and the Frog and the well-received Tangled were only moderately successful. It wasn't until the double-whammy of 2012's Wreck-It Ralph followed by 2013's ultra-successful Frozen that Disney truly got back on top again.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The 1967 film To Sir, with Love laid this 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.
  • Musicals have been getting in and out of this since its beginnings: the Rise of the Talkies brought a glut of musical films in 1929-30, only for The Great Depression to shift tastes to the point many films had to be modified to eliminate the songs and promoted as such. But halfway through the decade Busby Berkeley's new approach to choreography and the popularity of the Astaire-Rogers team led to a wave of musicals that intensified during the war years, with MGM becoming associated with the genre, which then faltered through the 1950s with the rise of television, being relegated to the B-movie domain by the time rock-and-roll came along.

    However, in The '60s, Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, as well the British musical films of the Beatles era, led Hollywood to reconsider musicals, but these attempts were 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!) that rendered musicals Deader Than Disco, with Cabaret and Jesus Christ Superstar being the only exceptions. While the genre briefly resurfaced late in The '70s via a few successful efforts, most notably Saturday Night Fever and Grease, it gave up the ghost early in The '80s after the disco backlash set on, with Xanadu and Cant Stop the Music killing off the genre for two decades.

    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. Glee helped to carry the musical revival torch into The New Tens, alongside films like Pitch Perfect, Joyful Noise and shows like Smash (though neither of the latter two were particularly successful), with Disney Channel having several other stabs at musical franchises such as Camp Rock and Teen Beach Movie.
  • 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.
  • Putting original songs in movies has become this. Original songs in movies used to be the norm, with many being acclaimed as classics to this day, and the Best Original Song category was thriving with nominations. However, by the 2000s, with fewer and fewer films using theme songs in favor of filling up the soundtrack with as many hot artists of the moment as they can, and less radio airplay for such songs, original songs had fallen off the radar. The persistence of the Movie Bonus Song and Award Bait Song tropes were the only things keeping them alive, and the effects showed at the Academy Awards Best Original Song category — the 2011 winner "Man or Muppet" beat out one other nominee (Rio), which was most likely there so that there wouldn't be just the single nominee. However, in The New Tens, with the success of songs such as "Skyfall" from Skyfall, "Everything is Awesome" from The Lego Movie and "Let It Go" from Frozen along with their performances on stage, original songs have seen a significant revival.
  • This has happened more than once to the horror genre:
    • The classic Universal monster movies were certainly big hits in their own day, but they reached the height of their popularity in the mid 1950s, when Universal released a large number of them in a television package called Shock! Theater. Shock! introduced the films to a new audience that could view them from the comfort of their homes, with the lovably campy assistance of various local Horror Hosts, kicking off a "Monster Boom" craze that lasted well into the '70s. Hammer Film Productions came along at almost the same time to produce lurid color remakes of the classic films, ensuring the monsters' legacies would live on and restoring glamour to the horror genre, which, by that point, had devolved into B-Movie hell.
    • In the first half of The '90s, 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 '80s 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. While the teen slasher boom it spawned turned out to be short-lived (due to a combination of Sturgeon's Law and a Too Soon reaction after the Columbine massacre), horror cinema in general hasn't looked back.
    • The effects of Scream revitalizing the horror genre are visible in how the reputation of Halloween (1978) has evolved over the years. While it's always had, at the very least, a cult fandom, in the late '80s and early '90s its status as the Trope Codifier for the Slasher Movie was more of a liability than anything, and many critics blamed it for drowning the horror genre in a wave of gore-soaked hack-n-slashes (despite the fact that Halloween itself was comparatively bloodless). With the reappraisal of slashers in general starting in the late '90s, its reputation has recovered, and most critics once more recognize it as a classic.
  • 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.
  • Titanic became the highest-grossing movie ever and won 11 Oscars. Then the overexposure (particularly of the Céline Dion theme), Hype Backlash, annoying Leonardo DiCaprio fangirls, and the overall schmaltzy and overblown tone of the movie damaged both its reputation and popularity. By the time the movie turned 15 and got a 3D re-release in theaters, all was forgiven and forgotten.
  • Big-budget, theatrical superhero movies have risen and fallen several times. The 1940s and '50s saw Batman, Superman, and The Green Hornet movie serials ride the original comic book boom onto the big screen, but that trend crashed roughly alongside the Comics Code Authority bringing about the end of the Golden Age of superhero comics, and superhero movies were relegated to low-budget made-for-TV fare for twenty years (with the odd exception like 1966's Adam West TV spinoff Batman: The Movie). The success of Richard Donnor's Superman in 1978 revived interest, as did 1989's Batman, but each was followed by only one well-received sequel, two poorly-received ones, and a decade each of B-grade imitators like Supergirl, Howard the Duck, and The Meteor Man which were generally poorly received by critics and audiences. In 1998, Blade was released and ended up being a Sleeper Hit. Then in the early 2000s, the genre began a slow-building but powerful and long-lasting resurgence with the X-Men and Spider-Man film franchises. In The New Tens, the release calendar has been dominated by big budget superhero adaptations such as Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy and Marvel's sprawling Cinematic Universe, and there appears to be no end in sight.
  • 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 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 films in the early '80s, many of which relied solely on Vulgar Humor rather than witty writing, dissolved the genre just before Ghostbusters (1984) and Back to the Future led family-friendly humor to dominate comedy. During that time, the decidedly tamer comedy of "teen films" like Ferris Bueller's Day Off in the late '80s and some of the works of actors like Paul "Pee-Wee" Reubens, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, and Adam Sandler became the norm for more mature audiences. However, Clerks sardonic Gen X-fueled approach to adult humor made it a sleeper hit and the hard-R comedy came back in 1998 when There's 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. While the new wave's over-emphasis on high school- and college-centered comedy (what with the audience for such movies moving on to adulthood) and The Simpsons' brand of humor influencing family films like Shrek threatened to dissolve the genre yet again, the films of Judd Apatow, starting with the 2005 hit The 40-Year-Old Virgin, proved that such films could be just as popular with adults as with teenagers, even pre-teens.
  • 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).
  • The Muppets: It may not be obvious to today's viewers, but the original film The Muppet Movie had any number of cameos from people who were, at the time, huge stars, and The Muppet Show guest stars were frequently leading lights either as actors or singers (or both) as well. They have made a huge comeback, 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.
  • The 1978 film The Deer Hunter won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Michael Cimino, and was acclaimed as one of the first great movies about The Vietnam War and the impact it had on the people who fought in it. Then Cimino went and sank an entire studio (as well as his career) with his follow-up, the critically ravaged Box Office Bomb Heaven's Gate. The backlash against Cimino in the wake of Heaven's Gate was so severe that it stained the reputation of The Deer Hunter for quite some time. There was a period of time in the early-mid '80s when it was uncool in film critic circles to like that film, as many critics tried to explain how they'd been "suckered in" by Cimino. The more charitable said that he'd made a Deal with the Devil for its success. As the debacle of Heaven's Gate fell further into the past, however, the film eventually regained its reputation as one of the great Vietnam War movies. While their remains a minority of critics (most notably Mark Kermode) who hate the film, many others have since reevaluated their negative positions on it, and it was added to the Library of Congress in 1996 and made AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies list in both 1998 and 2007 (actually climbing 26 spots on the latter list). Helping its reputation further is the fact that Heaven's Gate has itself come in for reappraisal over the years, especially after the director's cut premiered in 2012 at the Venice Film Festival, with critics who only knew the film from its 1981 theatrical cut surprised at how good it was and arguing that its re-edit after poor press screenings had obscured a genuinely great film.

    Literature 
  • The Aeneid versus its predecessors, The Iliad and The Odyssey. For many years, The Aeneid was considered the true accounting of the war, and practically required reading for any aspiring creative worker. This is for several reasons, chief among them being that Vergil's work deals primarily with the history of Rome, and most Renaissance thinkers were Italian. It was also written in Latin, which was much more widely-understood than Homer's Greek. As a result, many writers ended up inheriting Vergil's interpretations, which usually depicted the Greeks in a poor light. However, these days, it's reversed; most people have read or at least know the plot of Homer's works, while Vergil's are mostly read by Latin students. This may be due to the rising popularity of Greek mythology and culture, the proliferation of translated versions of Homer eliminating the language barrier, or the greater mass-appeal of a massive war and a decades-long adventure as opposed to Vergil's more introverted work. Audiences today read The Divine Comedy and wonder what poor Odysseus is doing at the Eighth Circle of Hell.
  • The Sherlock Holmes books have been cycling in and out of popularity and the public consciousness ever since Arthur Conan Doyle first came up with them. While there was not really a time when nobody admitted to liking them, there were times when few people could take them seriously and parodies (affectionate or not) dominated the discussion of Holmes as a character. The latest wave of Sherlock Holmes craziness is at least in part attributable to Sherlock and Elementary, both of which "update" Sherlock Holmes by setting it in the present day instead of some stuffy Victorian London many people cannot take seriously any more. Interestingly setting Sherlock in the (then) present is actually Older Than They Think and has been done before.
  • Space Opera, once the dominant sub-genre of Science Fiction, has declined considerably since The '80s. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, the end of the Cold War also ended the Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States, leading to a period of stagnation. Secondly, around the same time an unexpected explosion in computers and bio-technology occurred. These two factors caused futurists and Sci-Fi writers to stop looking at Space for inspiration, and look instead to genetic engineering, cloning, cybernetics, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence, hence the dominance of Cyber Punk and its derivatives. It's only in recent years, with the over exposure of cyberpunk, nostalgic reconstructionist works of Space Opera (like for example, Mass Effect), and renewed interest in space coming from the discovery of Extra-solar planets that the Genre has begun to recover. Cyberpunk and its derivatives remain on top however.
    • For much of The '80s, the cyberpunk literary genre and movement was the new wave in both Science Fiction and science fact, acting as a fertile seed on a ground tormented by efforts to adapt to a changing world where the computer was king and Japan was the new force on the block. However, books like Neuromancer failed to anticipate how a) the internet, cell phones, personal computers and handheld IT devices would become a mundane reality in the life of the average white-collar Joe Sixpack, and b) that the Japanese economic powerhouse would trip over itself in the early '90s. Once "the future" became the present, cyberpunk went from being high-tech to being filled with zeerust, painting a portrait of the future that had stopped being relevant after about 1993 — the main reason why Post-Cyberpunk came to replace it. Not to mention that the virtual reality craze of the late '80s and early '90s simply shelved itself (for now) after failing to provide a holodeck-like experience.

    Live Action TV 
  • For 25 years or so after it first aired, Battlestar Galactica (1978) was regarded as being a pretty solid show considering the time period when it was produced. Then during the 2000s following the launch of the reimagined series, people tended to dismiss it as being just silly, campy fluff that wasted the potential of its concept. In the years since the finale of the reimagined series however, people have started to warm up to the original again, for at least being fun to watch and not having a storyline which collapsed in on itself (it helps that it's much easier to ignore Galactica 1980 than it is to ignore the latter few reimagined seasons).
  • Doctor Who:
    • Although easy to forget now that it's a massive media juggernaut seemingly beloved by all, the show was considered a joke in the years between the mid '80s and 2005. It had been a very popular show at its height in the '70s, 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 '70s, when shows like Family Feud, The Price Is Right, The Joker's Wild, The $10,000 Pyramid, and Wheel of Fortune became popular on network TV. The network games almost began to die down in the '80s when the current syndicated version of Wheel debuted, followed a year later by a syndie revival of Jeopardy!, but the market did get quite saturated around the late part of the decade: in 1989 and 1990 over a dozen new shows premiered (including revivals and network primetime versions, even Monopoly had a show), except that the early 90s depression caused a backlash against the genre, which quickly went through the wayside: Except for the juggernaut The Price Is Right, there wasn't a single network 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 later years with shows like Pointless, The Chase and Eggheads getting good ratings and being nominated for TV awards.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers is 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 example, 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 U.S. In The '70s and The '80s, 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 '90s, 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. FX's American Horror Story and HBO's True Detective have been using miniseries formats in all but name. The History Channel aired Hatfields and McCoys, which became a huge success. History followed that up with The Bible and Vikings, with both having high ratings starting out, but in the case of the former, outside of a very specific niche audience of conservative Christians, after the show had aired, audience opinion of the series dropped (critics never liked it), and in the case of the latter, ratings fell during season 2. Nevertheless, The Bible was a bestseller on home video, ultimately becoming the most successful miniseries ever produced, and the format has now been seen in a more favorable light. Since then, there has been a glut of miniseries that have been produced or are currently in development, even among the broadcast networks that had abandoned the format years earlier. Networks have used the format to test potential long-form projects (Fargo, Under the Dome), or they have been using them to revive long-running shows (24, Heroes, the original Law & Order). There are stand-alone projects being produced as well, a few of them being made to cash in on The Bible (NBC's AD and CBS' The Dovekeepers, both of which share the same producers from The Bible).
    • As this article on Rotten Tomatoes explains, many of the trends of modern television — All Star Casts in television productions, complete stories told in a finite number of episodes, even binge-watching — began with the miniseries of the '70s and '80s. As such, the much-ballyhooed "Golden Age of Television" of the 2010s can simply be viewed as the miniseries' return to prominence and takeover of the TV landscape, even if it's no longer referred to as such anymore.
  • Star Trek has varied in both popularity and quality, constantly going from being a Cult Classic to being a mainstream phenomenon. Star Trek: The Original Series was moderately popular during its original 1966-69 run, but was cancelled after a low budget third season. The series was later revived as a 22 episode animated series. While the first film received mixed reviews, it was enough to get another sequel, Star Trek The Wrath Of Khan, which was wildly considered the best film of the franchise and helped create a film series, albeit one of varying quality. Later, another series, Star Trek: The Next Generation was released, and became an iconic show, lasting 176 episodes and seven seasons. The popularity ended up spawning two shows: Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. While both were popular, they never achieved the status of The Next Generation. The franchise hit a low point in the early 2000s, with the box office failure and poor reception of Star Trek: Nemesis and the low ratings, lukewarm reception, and cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise. However, Star Trek, a reboot of the franchise was a success both critically and commercially, and Star Trek Into Darkness continued the streak, even though it resulted in a Broken Base. A new TV series is scheduled for 2017.
  • The televised live musical was inescapable in the '40s and '50s, but died out by 1960, with the last one being a remake of Peter Pan. In 2013, NBC decided to put on the first televised live musical in 53 years, in the form of a remake of The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood. While it wasn't well received, ratings went through the roof and NBC decided that they would put out such a show annually. Peter Pan Live, their next musical, was met with similar audience response, but 2015's The Wiz Live became a critical darling just in time for another network to try out the live musical - Fox with Grease Live, set for January 2016. In addition, 2016 also brought an ABC-produced live remake of Dirty Dancing (presumably for as early as the fall sweeps) and NBC's fourth annual musical, Hairspray (for December).
  • The X-Files was one of the shows (along with The Simpsons, Married... with Children, and NFC football) that catapulted the young Fox network to the big leagues in The '90s. Its mix of a sci-fi Myth Arc inspired by real-life UFO lore and the chemistry between its leads, FBI agents Mulder and Scully, turned it into a pop culture phenomenon that received two spinoffs (Millennium and The Lone Gunmen) and a theatrically-released film adaptation at the height of its run. However, the Seasonal Rot that the show suffered in its last few seasons killed most interest in the Myth Arc, which by then had turned into a Kudzu Plot that made the show and its creator, Chris Carter, the Trope Namers for The Chris Carter Effect. The show went out with a whimper in 2002, and a second movie released in 2008 met a poor reception and seemed to confirm that the show's fandom was pretty much dead. Worse, as Carter himself pointed out, the 9/11 attacks and The War on Terror destroyed the cultural climate that allowed The X-Files to become such a hit, consigning the conspiracy theories that the show was built around to the political fringes and making the entire concept seem like a relic of a more innocent time. Even the show's remaining fans often told new viewers to stick to the Monster of the Week episodes rather than get caught up in the convoluted Myth Arc.

    However, in 2016, Fox aired a new, six-episode Mini Series event that brought back the original cast and crew and continued plotlines that had been Left Hanging for fourteen years, in the process retconning many of the more unpopular elements of the Myth Arc that had come in during its Seasonal Rot. While "season 10" overall wasn't universally acclaimed, it did reignite interest in the original series, which had become easier than ever to watch in the age of streaming and binge-watching (the show being a prime example of Better on DVD). Nowadays, retrospectives on The X-Files tend to look back on it more favorably, focusing on the Glory Days of the Myth Arc and the innovations it brought to television (especially sci-fi and fantasy television) now that its Dork Age has fallen into the past.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • 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 (thanks to a combination of confirmed allegations of steroid use, a worn out gimmick that seemed stuck in the '80s - partially for the previous reason, and a rather disastrous movie career), 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.

    Sports 
  • 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 scrutiny. 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 Giantsnote  moved to, Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively, 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 '60s, 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.
  • The 1919 Black Sox scandal shattered baseball's public image and almost destroyed the sport. Fortunately, Babe Ruth began his career around the same time, and his prowess made baseball even more popular than before. It was also around the time when the "Dead Ball era" of low scoring, defense focused inside the park baseball gave way to the high hitting homerun focused Baseball the sport has been ever since. However, some sports writers point out that the "boring" Baseball of way back when was immensely popular at the ticket office and fascinated the media and the supposedly exciting focus on offense fails to draw the crowds of the times when Baseball truly was America's pastime bar none.
  • The scarce TV coverage of the MLB in the early '90s triggered a strike that cut short the 1994 season and the steroids scandal of the 2000s tarnished the reputation of some of the biggest sluggers of the late '90s and the sport's popularity began to fade quickly. However, it seems that everything has been forgiven and forgotten by the following decade, primarily because of the scandals that have rocked the NFL.
  • The NBA experiences this around every two decades: After gaining notoriety in the 1970s with Kareem Abdul Jabbar, by the next decade, however, the only place you could see basketball was on scattered late-night broadcasts. Then Michael Jordan took the sport to worldwide popularity as the 1990s unfolded, but his eventual retirement left a huge void in its' popularity for the ensuing years. And while it is nowhere as widespread as it was 20 years ago, LeBron James has given the league enough buzz to rival football and baseball in national attention. The Internet and exemplary talent from abroad like Dirk Nowitzki (who is easily the best known non-soccer team sport athlete in his native Germany) have also helped the NBA garner a significant international fanbase, something which the NFL is still struggling to find.
  • Even the NFL has had some rough patches along the way. A Sports Illustrated cover in the early 1990s mentioning how to revive "a boring league". An article like this would hardly be associated with pigskin nowadays.
  • 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. This, 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, caused him to be seen as 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. Keith Olbermann discusses this in this video.
  • Brett Favre 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-retired before the 2008 season and was traded to the New York Jets. The move divided the Cheeseheads (Packers fans) to the point that 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 stint in New York.

    He retired for good following the 2010 season, and step were taken on both sides to repair Favre's relationship with the Packers organization and fans. By the time the Packers retired his number in 2015, it was clear that he was forgiven by all of the fans and his Hall of Fame induction in 2016 was filled with festivities in both Canton and Green Bay.
  • American football in Germany has undergone at least one cycle of this, though outside factors played a huge role. Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, the World League of American Football and later NFL Europe brought (semi)pro football to Europe and Germans in particular liked what they were getting - big shows, concerts, American talent and the big stadiums where soccer games were normally held. In addition Football was part of the pay TV package you had to buy if you wanted to see soccer on live TV, so many Germans had the NFL on their TV anyway and ratings were solid. Even the domestic German league managed a couple of games with attendance figures like 30.000 for a Braunschweig-Hamburg final.

    Then the NFL Europe shut down because Roger Goodell (who had just become commissioner) wanted to save money and instead focus on the NFL International Series. To add insult to injury, Hamburg went bankrupt and Braunschweig entered a serious Dork Age due to money and fan interest running out. The pay TV company dropped the NFL due to its high cost and Football entered a serious slump. Cue back to back European championships for the German national team (2010 and 2014, the 2018 edition will be held in Germany) and promising ratings for the NFL in free TV coverage (Playoffs only). Suddenly one very smart person over at Pro7/Sat1 Media Group decides to carry the regular season (two games every Sunday, plus all London and Thanksgiving games) and ratings suddenly explode, teams don't know where to go with all the young people who suddenly want to try the sport and NFL related hashtags are trending topic on German Twitter. And if you try counting the amount of people running around with NFL basecaps on any given day, you'd soon get tired of all the Raiders and Patriots gear.
  • Soccer in the United States. In the early part of the 20th century, when most of the major professional sports leagues on both sides of the Atlantic were in their infancy, the American Soccer League was among them. It was, at one point, the second most popular sports league in the country after Major League Baseball. However, disputes between the ASL and the rival United States Football Association over a number of factors led to a "Soccer War", with FIFA butting in and siding with the USFA over controversy that the ASL was signing players who were under contract to European teams. The Soccer War crippled the ASL, with the league folding at the end of the 1933 season. Worse, while the USFA and FIFA won the war and established their pre-eminence, the spectacle of a US athletic association conspiring with a European organization to undermine its rival alienated many U.S. sports fans by creating an image of soccer as a sport controlled by foreigners, and along with the lack of a professional league that was able to field good players like the ASL did, the events pretty much killed the sport’s popularity for decades, so bad to the point that it has its own trope.

    Soccer experienced a brief but explosive boom in the United States between the late '70s and the mid '80s with the North American Soccer League, thanks in part to the New York Cosmos, which brought in some of the soccer world's biggest heroes (such as Pele himself and Franz Beckenbauer) to play for them. While financial hardships following Pele’s retirement would eventually lead to the NASL’s folding in 1984, it reintroduced soccer to the North American sports scene on a large scale, and was a major contributing factor in soccer becoming one of the most popular sports among American youth. Along with FIFA giving the US hosting duties in the 1994 World Cup, the improving success of the US Men's and Women’s National Teams, and the implementation and growing success of Major League Soccer, soccer has been on the way to regaining its long-sought Major League status. However, with the ever crowded American sporting landscape from leagues that thrived in soccer's absence, not to mention the persistent stereotypes of the sport which came about during its "death"note , it will take time before soccer can become a "major league" sport in the same breath as the big 4 leagues.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • 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 '60s, with The '80s 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.

    Theatre 
  • 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.
  • Terence Rattigan. Ask any critic or theater buff in the '40s and '50s, and they'd probably list Rattigan - author of The Deep Blue Sea, Separate Tables and The Winslow Boy, among others - as one of England's great playwrights, a master of witty dialogue and refined, well-plotted drama. Just a decade later, with the advent of the "Angry Young Men" (John Osborne, Harold Pinter, etc.) and their more emotional, formally fluid and class-driven work, Rattigan became despised for the very qualities that he'd been praised for. After decades of disfavor, critics in the '90s began analyzing Rattigan's plays through the prism of personal identity and sexual repression, viewing thematic content previous generations had ignored or dismissed. With frequent revivals and film adaptations of his work, Rattigan has regained his reputation.

    Video Games 
  • The Indie Game scene altogether is the end result of this. Many Indie Developers are themselves gamers who first got introduced into the medium during the 8 and 16-bit era of gaming. As a result, they model their own games on the ones they grew up with.
  • 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, 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.
  • Sci-Fi shooters like Halo and Doom have experienced this cycle. During the '90s and early 2000s, Doom, Halo and their clones were insanely popular among action aficionados for their fast-paced, action-packed gameplay and sci-fi aethetics. However, while neither have been forgotten per se, they declined in popularity from 2005 onwards due to competition from modern military shooters. So much so that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare dethroned Halo 3 as the most played game on Xbox Live. It didn't help that an increasing Scifi Ghetto attitude led to a backlash towards sci-fi shooters. However, military shooters themselves became less popular starting since 2010 due to a mix of market oversaturation, lack of innovation, questionable depictions of foreigners and military intervention and the stereotype that only whiny, racist little kids and dudebros play them. Subsequently, interest in sci-fi shooter was rekindled as they offered diverse array of gameplay styles and weapon diversity in fantastical settings without any real baggage that plagued modern military shooters. Ironically, many new shooters like Titanfall, Destiny, and even Halo's rival Call of Duty have begun copying Doom and Halo. A good example of this can be seen in Yahtzee's review of Doom 3 re-release on his show Zero Punctuation. Although he considers the game to be tacky and dated, he admits that Doom 3 and other sci-fi shooters are more enjoyable than most "spunkgargleweewees".
  • 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" due to competition from Sega and Sony and the censorship of certain games like Wolfenstein 3D and Mortal Kombat and slipped into last place. So what does Nintendo do? Rather than fight the "kiddy" label, they embraced it (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 was 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.
    • Nintendo seems to have hit another low with their Wii U, which has fallen to last place behind the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One despite a one year head start. This is largely due to their attempt to win back core gamers while still trying to appeal to casuals simultaneously, not to mention with the apparent lack of innovation (the primary controller resembles a tablet), and the shift in consumer electronics development (for easy porting) results in the PS4 and Xbox One using standardized PC hardware. Whilst it does have an audience with hardcore gamers and Nintendo fans, the casual fans have moved on to other products like smartphones and casual games in PC or the more mainstream consoles. The Wii U was, however, partially rescued by the success of games like Hyrule Warriors, the fourth game in the Super Smash Bros. series, and the Sleeper Hit Splatoon.
  • Pokémon. Back in the late '90s, it was the king of kid fads. However, 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). After the release of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, it started making a comeback, and the 2016 launch of the Pokémon Go AR game firmly cemented it. 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 addition, 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 outings of Mega Man, Sonic, Donkey Kong, Rayman, and Kirby, as well as original games like LittleBigPlanet, Super Meat Boy, 'Splosion Man, Terraria, Broforce, and Star Bound.
    • 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, Slender, and the Five Nights at Freddy's games being well-received and spawning a wave of new horror efforts. 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. This was further reinforced with the announcement of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.
    • After the leap to 3D in late '90s and 2000s, especially with the major spotlight titles for the contemporary consoles being full 3D games, sprite graphics were considered hopelessly outdated for home console and PC gaming, something only seen in portable handheld games, bargain-bin shovelware "retro collections", and certain developers (such as SNK) that only got away with it due to the Grandfather Clause. However, in the seventh and eighth generation of consoles, after the rise of digital distribution (which massively cuts costs such as printing copies and shipping), indie and smaller developers for home consoles looked at sprites and saw a more practical alternative to high-tech 3D graphics engines, especially now that technology allowed for the display of far more detailed sprites and more impressive gameplay features. Braid, for instance, got a ton of mileage out of its artistic sprite characters. Nowadays, 2D games for home consoles and PC continues to be a trend to the point that Shovel Knight got a physical release.
    • 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 '90s: a ridiculously popular 2D fighting game, with blood and gore as a selling point. Mortal Kombat during the Turn of the Millennium: an confusing, ridiculously unbalanced 3D fighting game series that jumped the shark long ago (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 fighting game that uses 3D graphics but is played on a 2D plane, 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 such as Sonic R and an enhanced remake of Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island. Come the Sega Dreamcast, Sonic regained the spotlight with the leap to 3D, with Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 was wildly popular and highly acclaimed, but subsequent games would take their flaws, such as dodgy camera and controls and Gameplay Roulette, and cause the series to slowly slide into a bad reputation for its flawed 3D games and an annoying fanbase. 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 to the point of appearing to market commercials (he hasn't done this since the '90s), and even appearing in a movie. Then after that, the series' popularity dipped once again, with Sonic Lost World getting a mixed reception for its jarringly different gameplay and collection of other highly experimental play styles after the well-received boost games, and then even more so with the ill-fated Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. Even though the latter was part of a spin-off sub-franchise, the industry as a whole started to trash Sonic as being a relic of the 16-bit era that jumped the shark once again. The upcoming 25th anniversary for Sonic is seen by its fans as a make-or-break point for the franchise, and only time will tell if the series can permanently regain its status as a venerated video game icon or slide into Snark Bait.
  • The JRPG genre in the West. During the '90s and early 2000s, it 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. In addition, the Final Fantasy series suffered a major dip in quality after Final Fantasy X. During the late 2000s and early 2010s, thanks in no small part to the incredibly polarizing critical and commercial reception of Final Fantasy XIII, the once overwhelmingly popular JRPG had become a dreaded video game genre, seen as a poison that had been holding video games back as a narrative medium for too long. The fact that most of these games relied on anime style art alienated non-anime fans. Fortunately in 2012, thanks to the critical and commercial success of Xenoblade,note  the JRPG made a comeback. The genre is now in good critical and commercial standing once again, with games like The Last Story, Ni no Kuni and the sleeper hit Bravely Default being cited as some of the finest games the genre has ever produced. Also, certain fondly remembered games have enjoyed well received remakes such as Lunar: Silver Star Story and the Updated Re-release of Persona 4.
  • Donkey Kong Country: The series was huge in the mid '90s, with both critics and gamers praising it to no end. And, while Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! may not have had the impact the first two games had,note  the series remained popular, though the critical praise tapered a bit drawing closer to the Turn of the Millennium, with other formerly less hyped games being favored on the whole in retrospect. Opinions really began to shift following the release of Donkey Kong 64, which many reviewers panned for being a uninspired Fetch Quest, and by the mid-2000s a full-fledged Hype Backlash had set in, with it becoming trendy among critics and gamers to badmouth the series. Most retrospectively attribute this to spite over Rare's decision in late 2002 to leave Nintendo for Microsoft, while others point to a well-publicized quote by Shigeru Miyamoto proclaiming that the series was all graphics and no gameplay. Regardless, the Donkey Kong Country series found its way onto many "Most Overrated Games of All Time" lists and was seen as a prime example of all that was wrong with the mid '90s shift to 3D. Fortunately, the backlash subsided greatly after Donkey Kong Country Returns became a massive critical and commercial success. And the series' reputation has, since, returned to greatness among critics and gamers.
  • Everquest was for years the MMORPG for people. Eventually, however, World of Warcraft became more popular. Over the years, it had difficulty staying mainstream with the increasing amount of MMOs being made. The upcoming Everquest Next has renewed interest with many people, especially as it's due for consoles.

    Western Animation 
  • Western Animation as a whole went through this from the late 1960s to the late 1980s at least in so-called critical circles. While animation was already becoming less and less popular through the 1950s and much of the 1960s, the death of Walt Disney ushered upon a period of change. With a lot of the former mainstream on individual down turns, most of the success came from Limited Animation on tv, which while popular in society, the critical side denounced it as the dark age. A typical device used in favor of this is that it transformed animation from Doing It for the Art into a gimmick used to entertain children, Critics would later change tune when films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit were released. Arguments as to how true this was will often result in one side arguing the other sees things through a Nostalgia Filter, but the other's counter point will be What Do You Mean, It's for Kids? This also applies to the Turn of the Millennium, where popularity suffered greatly with the likes of Johnny Test plaguing several cartoon channels, resulting in Network Decay. Then, Phineas and Ferb came out, after more than a decade of Development Hell and became a massive hit ratings wise (From 2009 through 2012, often sided with/beat SpongeBob in the ratings) with children and adults, allowing shows like Adventure Time, Regular Show, and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic for a new Renaissance of cartoons in the 2010s.
  • 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.
  • While Rugrats thrived in the 1990s, in the 2000s, the franchise had hit a snag. While was still popular to an extent, it had been overstepped by SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly OddParents in popularity, and the third installment in the Rugrats movie franchise flopping. What didn't help was Nickelodeon's dispute with Klasky-Csupo about the expense of the cost of the shows when new management had stepped in and due to Rugrats not being as big as it was, didn't have that to back itself up and as a result, had ended and faded into obscurity throughout the entire 2000s, and former fans often denied they ever saw the series just to keep a shed of credibility. Fast forward to 2011, where Rugrats, alongside Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show, is having its 20th anniversary. Nickelodeon had begun showing reruns of the show early in the morning and the creation of The 90s Are All That block, had lead way to reviving the popularity of the show. Due to this, the show has been fondly remembered, even included in several different parodies (Robot Chicken did a sketch spoofing how neglectful the parents are) and songs (Childish Gambino's "L.E.S"), as well as airing the show on several different Viacom related networks and blocks.note  As a result, the show is now remembered fondly and is even being considered for a second uncancellation by Nickelodeon.
  • A similar case occurred with The Powerpuff Girls: One of the most popular cartoons of the late 1990s-early 2000s until its reputation tanked hard after the movie was released when Craig McCracken left the show to make Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. However, the show suddenly regained its popularity in later years, and various adaptations in the form of one-off specials, a couple of new comic book series and a reboot for 2016.
  • Slice of Life kids' cartoons such as Doug, Hey Arnold!, and the Klasky-Csupo shows, featuring plots that could conceivably happen in real life, have gone through this somewhat. They enjoyed a heyday in the '90s only to fade away after both the industry and kid viewers proved to be more influenced by The Ren & Stimpy Show and its imitators, with cartoons aimed solely at children becoming mostly centered on the slapstick and the surreal. But the genre eventually started getting a small revival. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, behind its fantasy veneer (and occasional adventure episode), is pure slice-of-life; its success proved that there was still an audience for non-zany animation. By 2016, the main children's networks returned to do cartoons in this style, with shows such as Clarence, We Bare Bears, Harvey Beaks and The Loud House, all of which have been well-received by both kids and adults who grew up on the genre's heyday.
  • Looney Tunes. They started during the war years, but fizzled out by The '60s due to the departures of most of its creative team.note  In the '70s and '80s, the original Looney Tunes shorts were repackaged for First-Run Syndication during the Glory Days of after-school kids' shows and Saturday morning cartoons, renewing their popularity among young people. But this too died out as newer, fresher programs were made available to kids. Along came Space Jam, which combined classic Looney Tunes humor with a story accessible to 1990s youth thanks to the involvement of Michael Jordan. The buzz was so large that home video markets put out some of the original shorts in VHS compilations to get kids to better familiarize with the classic characters, and today the film is remembered on the Internet as a Fountain of Memes. Between the Cartoon Network's "June Bugs" marathons, Looney Tunes: Back in Action and multiple original TV shows on that channel, the Looney Tunes' popularity has been on-off since then.
  • Movies based on animated television shows used to come out on a fairly consistent basis. The Care Bears movies were fairly successful but other '80s TV adaptations didn't do very well (ex:Transformers: The Movie). The underperformances of The Jetsons and DuckTales movies in the summer of 1990 likely prevented studios from greenlighting other movies based on then-popular TV cartoons.

    Several years later, Paramount had success with Beavis and Butt-Head, Rugrats, and South Park movies that all came out in a three-year period. Suddenly, it seemed every somewhat popular TV cartoon was getting a theatrical movie, some studios going so far to reformat movies originally meant to be direct-to-video to theatrical release. The only two that did very good business during this era were Pokémon: The First Movie and The Tigger Movie note , while movies based on Hey Arnold!, the Oscar-nominated The Wild Thornberrys, Recess, The Powerpuff Girls, VeggieTales, Digimon, Doug and critically acclaimed Teacher's Pet, as well as subsequent Pokémon and Winnie-the-Pooh films, among others, did more middling business or outright bombed. While the two SpongeBob SquarePants movies (the first of which was greenlit at the height of this craze but not released until it had died down quite a bit, and the sequel was greenlit more to give Paramount's feature animation division an accessible and commercial first film than anything else) and The Simpsons Movie were both more successful, it doesn't seem to be enough to turn a trend just yet.

Alternative Title(s): Undeader Than Disco

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