Popularity Polynomial

"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.

    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 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.
    • 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 and it suddenly became wrong to openly admit to liking either series. Then later, with the creations of Dragon Ball Z Kai and Rebuild of Evangelion, respectively, have renewed interest in both franchises.
  • 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 it 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 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".

    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 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.

    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. But in The Sixties 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. While the genre briefly resurfaced late in The '70s via a few successful (mostly pop-rock) efforts, it gave up the ghost early in The '80s. 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.
  • 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 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 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 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-mid '80s, many of which relied solely on Vulgar Humor rather than witty writing, dissolved the genre for a good decade and a half. During that time, the decidedly more kid-friendly comedy of actors like Paul "Pee-Wee" Reubens, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, and Adam Sandler became the norm. However, 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) 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 schoolkids. By 2010, family films would start Getting Crap Past the Radar in order to compete in even terms, and movies with tamer material were seemingly doomed to bomb and become video material, (unless it was exceedingly optimistic).

However, the better-than-expected release of Pixar's Inside Out during the summer of 2015 has led the industry to wonder if the sorry state of family-friendly entertainment is about to end. All this while a glut of "laugh-out-loud" comedies became apparent with Pixels and Ted 2 floundering at the box office.
  • 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 Mark Kermode still hates it, many others have since reevaluated their negative positions on the film, 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).

    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.

    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).
  • 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 Ive 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 Jokers 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 that point, in 1989 and 1990 over a dozen new shows premiered (including revivals and network primetime versions), 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 recent 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. f(x)'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.

    Music 
General

  • 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 minimalistic, almost un-syncopated beats. (Fashion trends of The New Tens, 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 '90s. 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.
  • Teen Pop tends to regularly go in and out of style. The genre first reached mainstream prominence in the early-1960's and remained popular throughout both The Sixties and The '70s with such groups as The Osmonds and The Jackson 5. The genre fell out of fashion once disco backlash set in but regained strength in the late-1980's with such singers as Tiffany and Debbie Gibson. This brief resurgence in the popularity of the genre was, of course, halted by the rise of grunge in the early-90's and remained dormant until the late 90's, when The Spice Girls and Britney Spears broke through. While the genre saw possibly more success than ever before at this time, a massive backlash came about, with many accusing the era's pop stars of being plastic and corporate made. Meanwhile, many up-and-coming singers like P!nk and Avril Lavigne rebelled against the teen pop craze by creating a harsher and more rock-oriented style of pop music. The resurgence of genres like post-grunge also took a significant bite out of the genre's popularity. By around 2007 (thanks in no small part to Britney's highly publicized Creator Breakdown), teen pop was good as dead. Only to come back during The New Tens with such singers as Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. Also, some teenage singers have managed to hold appeal to adults and males due to their more mature Darker and Edgier premises, namely Lorde and Birdy.
    • By proxy, 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 60-year history of the Billboard 200 to debut their first three - and then four - 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 '70s with the introduction of audiocassettes. Then they went out of style in The '80s as the cassette surpassed it in popularity, and more importantly 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, beginning around the late 2000s or so, they've 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 killed cassettes, and 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 '80s.
  • 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 straightforward, 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. With the subsequent interest in the music of the 1990s as of The New Tens, metal has seen a major rise in stoner and sludge metal; additionally, while melodic metalcore as people knew it from the 2000s is essentially dead (having largely been integrated into post-hardcore and/or modern rock), there has been a large uptick in traditional metalcore as people started rediscovering the founders of the genre, while a new form that mixes that style with Swedish death metal, crust punk, and powerviolence has also been making waves.
  • 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 '80s, was driven back underground; the few bands that did find success in The '90s, 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.
  • 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 '90s — 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.
  • Ambient electronic music was quite popular in the 1970s and '80s. It found a niche due to it's atmospheric, dreamlike quality. It found frequent use as the soundtracks of a significant number of radio shows, TV series, animated series, documentaries, planetarium shows, computer games, and theatrical films. This gained some artists a cult status that exists to this day, even if in some cases it may be a case of Retroactive Recognition with respect to the artist's name. Some examples include Brian Eno, Jean Michael Jarre, Vangelis, Kitaro, Paddy Kingsland, Shuki Levy, the MOS Technology SID chip, Rob Hubbard, Jan Hammer, and Tangerine Dream. This genre of music seemed to experience a backlash by the 1990s, but this backlash was mostly limited to North America. The fact that most of these electronic artists were British, European or Japanese may have played a part in a large percentage of Americans turning their back on it, especially in the post 9/11 atmosphere that caused an glut of ultra-patriotism. Americans in the 2000s began to embrace more acoustic, classic, "back to their roots" sounds such as Rockabilly and other purely Americana styles.
    • Although Ambient and similar genres are still not being produced very much outside of obscure indy composers, millennial hipsters appear to be embracing it mostly thanks to YouTube. And the End of an Era feeling accompanying the release of Pink Floyd's final album is causing people to rediscover Ambient music. Then, there is, of course, the current disillusionment with American culture in general as well as an increasing backlash against the corporate media agenda behind modern pop music. But it's unlikely to ever return to the mainstream due to it's non-commercial nature.
  • The Power Ballad was once a staple of Hair Metal groups during The '80s. "Love Bites" (Def Leppard), "Open Arms" (Journey), "When the Night Goes Down" (Judas Priest), "Carrie" (Europe), "Is This Love" (Whitesnake), "So Many Tears" (Dokken) are just a handful of the songs that dealt with more emotional issues such as love and intimate relationships while de-emphasizing the sexual aspects. They not only showed off the voice range of the frontman, but they also revealed a more tender, sensitive side to these manly metal groups. The 80s had a very different view of masculinity, and this was more than a decade before the rise of gay culture subverted all previous conventions. Power ballads actually helped for hair and metal bands to earn air time on the radio since they had more appeal to the non hardcore audience. Today, however, extreme hypermasculinity is emphasized at the cost of more soulful emotional songs and power ballads were relegated to Narm. Straight men who were children of the 80s either tend to deny having liked them or find others questioning their masculinity. Power Ballads still find a place on old-school compilations, especially given the inevitable Testosterone Poisoning that is likely to shift music tastes once again in the near future.
  • Nu Metal. During the '90s, it brought metal back into the mainstream for the first time in nearly a decade and introduced the genre to a whole new generation of metal heads. It was built on the premise of defying and mixing genres, with influences such a grunge, funk, and hip-hop. Bands like KoRn, Slipknot, and Limp Bizkit were some of the biggest acts in the industry, which were later joined by Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Staind, and Evanescence. However, it eventually died out as the audiences tastes shifted towards Emo and Metalcore. Meanwhile, it built such a massive hatedom from metalheads, who gave it derogatory nicknames like "mallcore", "whinecore", "poser metal", "MTV metal", and "sports rock". A stereotype of nu metal fans grew that they were either white trash or wangsty teens. Bands like Linkin Park and Papa Roach only stayed relevant by changing their sound into something more socially acceptable, and it became a taboo to admit being a nu metal fan, while rock radio stations practically blacklisted all songs that fell into the genre.

    However, by the turn of The New Tens, the vitriol towards nu metal significantly declined. The aforementioned emo and metalcore genres that were instrumental in killing nu metal off have died out themselves. Bands that kept to their style were met with commercial success (which includes KoRn, Limp Bizkit, and Evanescence), while bands that abandoned the genre have re-integrated it into their sound with their latest albums (which includes Slipknot, Linkin Park, Papa Roach, and Staind). Moreover, the revivalist bands like Issues, King 810, and Butcher Babies have all met commercial success. Other bands like In This Moment and Of Mice and Men weren't formerly nu metal switched to it, and got significantly bigger afterwards. The rock radio stations that blacklisted them for so long have started putting nu metal songs back into circulation and metal heads are much freer to talk about nu metal bands they like with much-less fear of persecution. This is possibly the result of an unspoken truce declared, when all forms of rock died out, they were more willing to accept people who like nu metal on the basis that they still like rock/metal. It's unlikely that it'll be anywhere near as big as it was in its peak, but it is, is, becoming a genre that is once again socially acceptable to like.
Specific

  • 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 '80s again, whereas before the only song of his that would receive any airplay was "Thriller" from Thriller — and then only around Halloween. Granted, the resurgence 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, 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 took 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 '90s about a TV show from The '70s 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 '70s. 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), cost 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 '90s 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.
  • Much like Kiss in the '80s, Marilyn Manson experienced a massive decline in the 2000s as his style of showmanship, fashion, and composition became the rock and metal mainstream. Furthermore, a string of personal disasters and albums whose content was now controversial for not being offensive and over-the-top enough, but more personal and heartfelt (especially the album Eat Me, Drink Me, a guitar driven, straight-up rock album), caused the Antichrist Superstar to become a joke. Then he quit Interscope, came out with his "comeback album" Born Villain, and then decided to be on all the shows. The Walking Dead's talk show? On it. Once Upon a Time? On it. Californication? As himself. Additionally, Tumblr exposed the tall, androgynous rock star to teen girls, with the expected results. Thanks to him being friends with approximately all of Hollywood, along with finally having a stable life, he is now seen as the flip side of The New Tens '90s love, inspiring many of the new acts on the scene, like Motionless In White and In This Moment. Even the usually critical metal media gushed about "Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge", and he got a Grammy nomination for "No Reflection" in 2012.
  • 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.
  • Metallica. When they first appeared on the scene in 1982 with their demo No Life Til Leather and, a year later, their debut album Kill 'Em All, they became hugely popular with metalheads and served as one of the Trope Codifiers for the then-new genre of Thrash Metal. With each new album the band released, the band became ever more popular, even with the tragic loss of their Ensemble Darkhorse Lead Bassist Cliff Burton, and their Power Ballad "One" even had a Music Video Released on MTV. In 1991, the band released Metallica, aka "The Black Album," which featured a Genre Shift from their complex thrash material to a more conventional and commercial Heavy Metal sound. Metal fans everywhere cried foul, but the album went on to sell 20 million copies and make the band one of the biggest in the world.

    However, the album proved to be a Franchise Original Sin for Metallica, as the process of their sound moving away from metal and the Hype Backlash from disgruntled thrash fans would just keep going further and further. Over the course of The '90s, the band gradually shed even more of their metal elements, cutting their hair and changing to a Blues Rock/Southern Rock/Alternative Rock sound for the decidedly So Okay, It's Average Load and Reload albums. While both albums were successful and spawned quite a few radio staplesnote , they ultimately failed to match the popularity of The Black Album. They partially regained credibility among metal fans with the 1998 all covers album Garage, Inc. and a live collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra one year later. However, in 2000, they became embroiled in the controversy over Napster, which was the first major blow to their mainstream credibility. After that, things went haywire for the band. Frontman James Hetfield went to rehab for alcoholism, bassist Jason Newstead left the band for good, and then the double whammy of St. Anger and the Documentary Some Kind of Monster hit in 2003/2004. St. Anger proved to be a disastrous trainwreck that sounded like a Korn album Gone Horribly Wrong (although it did sell reasonably well), and Some Kind of Monster made the band (especially drummer Lars Ulrich) come across as pretentious prima donnas who were well past their prime. After that, the band's name was permanently sullied, and became a punchline in both the mainstream and amongst metalheads. Fortunately, the band had a Win Back the Crowd period in 2008-2009 with the Death Magnetic LP (which, despite its problems with clipping and accusations of the songs being too long, was widely considered to be a welcome return to form for the band), Guitar Hero Metallica, and their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, they fell from grace yet again with their controversial 2011 collaboration with Lou Reed Lulu, which was slammed by critics and reviled by fans. Today, Metallica's in a bit of a precarious position, as their anticipated new album (set to be released sometime in 2015) will likely be a crucial make-or-break moment for the band's credibility and popularity.

    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 80's - 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 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. 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.
  • Brett Favre will likely become an example of this 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 stint in New York. He retired 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.

    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 Sixties, 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 for shoot aficionados for their fast-paced, action-paced gameplay and Sci-Fi aethetics. However, while neither have been forgotten per se, they became less popular 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 Sci Fi Ghetto attitude lead 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, and Unfortunate Implications. 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 is Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation. Although he has mocked Doom 3 as a tacky and dated, he admits in his review of its re-release that Doom 3 and other sci-fi shooters are more enjoyable than most modern military 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" 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. Now, 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 win back core gamers while still trying to appeal to casuals simultaneously. 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. Now the Wii U is widely considered to be a commercial failure. Only time will tell if Nintendo will be able to experience this in the opposite direction once again.
  • 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). After the release of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, 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, 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.
    • 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 '90s: 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 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. Come the Sega 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 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 has dipped once again, with Sonic Lost World getting a mixed reception for its jarringly different gameplay and collection of other highly experimental play styles from 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 has a whole started to trash Sonic as being a failed relic of the 16-bit era once again.
  • 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. And 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 reaction to 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.
  • Donkey Kong Country: The series was huge in the mid '90s, with both critics and gamers praising it to no end. And, while DKC 3 may not have had the impact the first two games had,note  the series remained very relevant well into the Turn of the Millennium. Sometime during the mid 2000s, Hype Backlash set in, and it became 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 . Either way, 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.

    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.
  • 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 SpongeBob SquarePants to outrun the show in longevity. 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.
  • A similar case occurred with The Powerpuff Girls: One of the most popular cartoons of the late 1990s-early 2000s, its reputation tanked hard after the movie was released, and the anime version brought even more hatedom, to the point of getting blamed for the channel's infamous move to live-action productions. However, the show suddenly regained its popularity in recent years, and a new version has been announced.

    Other 
  • Adam West. In the late 1960s, he was a primetime 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.
  • For that matter, Adam West's particular incarnation of Batman has enjoyed repopularization via the light-hearted Batman: The Brave and the Bold and the comic book Batman '66.
  • The '70s. Throughout the '80s and '90s, this decade was seen as America's Dork Age. Now 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 (especially between 2005 and 2011-12) 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 '80s. In the 90's, this was seen as America's Dork Age. However, many of the fashions and styles of that decade have made a comeback, 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 for ten years. 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, the fad expanded and they have become commonplace.
    • Canvas sneakers: One of the icons of the decade, but also a target of serious hate during the 90s, to the point that Converse was hit much worse by the early-90s backlash than even Ray-Ban, even constantly slipping into bankruptcy. Nike bought the company in 2003, a time when the 80s revival was brewing, and this was approached to relaunch the model which is still extremely popular these days.
    • In the 90s, Synthpop used to be the prime example for people to explain why the 80s sucked so much. About twenty years later and thanks to the rise of Electronic Music, synthesizers are mandatory if you want to hit it big in the music industry.
      • Hair Metal, the other example of why the 80's were so lame, also saw a small but noticeable resurgence in popularity.
    • Conspicuous consumption, at least until 2005, then became unthinkable of after 2007. It is beginning to resurface again in the mid-2010s as the economy began to recover.
  • While The '90s never had the cultural backlash the 70's or the 80's had, some trends from that decade are starting to come back, such as plaid flannel shirts and hi-top fades.
  • The Yo-Yo. More like 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. Skateboarding was big in the mid-to-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, this after about fifty years of dormancy. Latin clubs sprung up across the U.S., ballroom dancing got a big boost with Dancing with the Stars, and swing dancing was resurrected by college students across the US and Europe.
  • American cars:
    • Those 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 '70s and especially The '80s that cars from that decade started to be more appreciated.
    • The 1980s themselves have been considered to be the last era of "true car design" in both the US and Europe as oil was no longer a concern and automakers now focused on innovative designs, leading to the spacecraft-like cars of the late 80s such as the Ford Taurus and the Citroen XM. However, The '90s brought a focus on environmentalism and "poiltically correct" designs (as a result of the consolidation between American and European companies) that in the long run stripped cars from their personality. These claims became really popular by the second half of the 2000s (with the oil crisis and the car industry downturn) as these became relics of a better time for automobiles..
    • The lifecycle of a car design has stretched considerably since the 1990s as well: Until 1990-92, companies changed their entire lineup every 2 or 3 years (overhauling everything every 4 or 5 years) before the First Gulf War and the 1989-93 depression shook things up. 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 or even 15 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 '70s and the first half of The '80s. As a new generation came of age with little memory of the energy crises, large vehicles came back into style in the late 80s and 90s (except for a brief period around 1991 with the Gulf War) and up to The Oughts, this time in the form of large SUVs. 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 '80s as a fuel-efficient alternative to land-yacht station wagons (the fuel crises of The '70s 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 late in The '90s and early in 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 '70s, 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 in the early 80s, 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.
    • Motor scooters: The Vespa was all the rage in The Fifties and The Sixties, becoming a symbol of the "mod" and "beat" subcultures and an emblem of the Swinging London era. After falling off the radar in The '70s (the decade when a relatively huge Harley would be considered tiny), there were minor revivals across The '80s (the "New Wave" era) and, to a lesser extent, in the second half of The '90s (when metro areas began repopulating with younger people influenced by the "Cool Britannia" spirit). After The Oughts' fascination with chopper-building realities, The New Tens came with another scooter craze.
    • 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 fleeing the late 1960s race riots, taking their tax dollars with them and leaving the cities behind to decay hard. However, since as early as The '90s, 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. The 2005 oil crisis and economic downturn and the 2008 housing collapse left many "Sun Belt" cities almost empty.
    • Averted with Metropolitan Los Angeles, which during the 70s and 80s had a relatively peaceful situation thanks to its fair balance between the city and suburbs, specially compared with the "Rust Belt" Northeast (towns such as New York City and Chicago had hair-raising crime rates while Washington, DC was noted by its screwed-up council [one mayor was caught on crack but got reelected anyway]—and the less said about Detroit, the better). However, the underlying tension suddenly exploded with the Rodney King riots in 1992, which resulted in L.A. becoming what it had avoided in the past decades, and also helping the ailing Atlantic zone as businesses left the city.
  • 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.
    • Possession of a moustache will lead to jokes about you being a creepy possible pedophile with an addiction to disco music (if you're older than 30) or an insufferable hipster (if you're younger than 30).
    • A quick perusal of Pinterest'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.
  • Eyewear (both Cool Shades and Nerd Glasses) has varied greatly through the years: Beginning in The Roaring Twenties, and thanks to Harold Lloyd, glasses became a fashionable elementnote . These were initially made of tortoiseshell, which by The Great Depression and through World War II had been displaced by the more cost-efficient metal rims. Sunglasses also originated during the Jazz Age, first used by movie stars around 1922 and publicly introduced in 1929.
    • Post-WWII spectacles were made of tortoiseshell, and later plasticnote , which by the end of The Sixties were seen as too conformist. Then metallic frames took overnote  during The '70s, but by the end of the decade, plastics returned big timenote  to dominate The '80s. The '90s and The Oughts brought back metalsnote  aside from sporty wraparounds, while The New Tens did the same with plasticnote .
  • Revolvers experienced this in The '90s, at least in the American civilian market. The '80s 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 '90s, 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 revival 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 1920s and 30s, partly because of the "first red scare" that followed WWI and that the New Deal was thought to turn socialism obsolete. But it was the early 1950s' Red Scare that 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 (as Mr. Bean), 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 gradually 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 even the early '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 late 1980s and The '90s, 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 in The Roaring Twenties and continued throughout The Great Depression, The Forties and The Fifties, 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 has become the standard. Heavy makeup returned with a vengeance late in The '70s and The '80s. The Unkempt Beauty and Bronze Skin returned in The '90s and The Oughts, while The New Tens have gradually reverted to heavy makeup once again. In spite of all this though, the line has not been a completely straight one and there are always exceptions.
  • Suntanning, while created by Chanel in the 20s, didn't become mainstream until The Sixties. It has been most popular in moments when make-up is more out than in and viceversa.
  • Two-piece swimsuits have balanced between conservative high-waisted models and skimpy bikinis: The former ones were the predominant ones between The Roaring Twenties and The Fifties (thus being retroactively known as "pin-ups"). Bikinis took over during The Sixties and The '70s, showing more and more skin as time passed. "Pin-ups" returned with a vengeance in The '80s, while everything returned to normal in The '90s and The Oughts. The New Tens' "conservative revoulution" however, brought a trend of showing as little skin as possible, leading to a resurgence of the high-waisted "pin-up". One-pieced swimsuits tend to vary in cleavage influenced by how much skin two-piece suits show.
  • With the rise of coffeehouse culture in the U.S. in The '90s, 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. Ironically, it tends to be popular in the Pacific Northwest, the region responsible for popularizing espresso in the U.S.
  • Art deco was seen as groundbreaking in The Roaring Twenties as it embraced technology rather than nature, but by The Great Depression and World War II it became regarded as "expensive nonsense". However, since The Fifties, this style has been practically the most influential over modern architecture.
  • 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 '70s, long hair was de rigeur. Even a businessman's haircut would frequently extend below the ears. The Punk Rock and New Wave subcultures heralded a return to shorter hairstyles through The '80s. Hair Metal brought long hair back, albeit heavily styled. Unadorned long hair came back into fashion in The '90s with the rise of Grunge, but short hairstyles were popular as well. The Oughts continued the trend, taken to extreme levels by the Emo subculture, which popularized the much-derided style of the bangs covering the eyes. Justin Bieber and One Direction popularized slightly longer hairstyles for teenage males into the early 2010s, although shorter hair is now preferred.
  • Women's hairstyles have also varied in many forms since The Roaring Twenties, when the '20s Bob Haircut broke with the centuries-old standard of long hair, but also sparked a trend for more elaborate hairstyles, coming to a head in The Fifties with the "beehive". In the late 60s and for most of the 70s however, long and unadorned hair became the norm, but the feathered haircut led to the overproduced hairstyles of The '80s, before reverting to simpler hair in the 90s and most of the 00s. As of The New Tens, 80s-inspired hairstyles have made a return.
  • Pinball has seen its ups and downs in popularity. It was the dominant type of arcade game until the 1970's, when video games became inexpensive enough to manufacture for arcade owners, and intensified through the first half of the 80's with hits like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. Pinball then became popular again with Space Shuttle leading the charge, which featured an accurate scale model of a space shuttle inside, an impression no video game at the time could replicate. With nothing like it to follow up, however, pinball soon lost ground to video games again in the late 80's as video game technology became more advanced, allowing for more diverse gameplay and visuals where pinball, by nature, is stuck with a static image. This changed with The Addams Family in 1992, whose many modes and deep theme integration allowed pinball to once again compete on even terms with video games at arcades. By the end of the 90's, however, arcades in North America were becoming unpopular as console video gaming allowed people to play within their homes as much as they wanted, with this new environment providing even more complex video gaming. Pinball became Deader Than Disco for many years until 2012: Ironically, whereas mobile gaming has cut huge chunks into console gaming, mobile gaming has brought awareness back to pinball, with numerous virtual pinball apps sparking new interest in the medium and prompting people to either find machines in public to play to see how they're like in person or, if one could afford it, buy pinball machines for home use outright. Pinball has also been riding on the back of the recent Retro Gaming craze. The effect of this most recent upswing has been a 300% increase in sales for Stern between 2012 and 2014.
  • Cartoon Network; It was a revered channel for Western Animation in the late '90s, but suffered massive Network Decay in the mid 2000s, culminating in an overdose of Canadian imports and live-action shows. Luckily, the success of Adventure Time and Regular Show has returned Cartoon Network to its former place.
  • With the growth of social media and instant messaging, Internet Relay Chat looked poised to go the way of Usenet in the '00s, a place for pirates and 4chan trolls to hang out in. Instead, nearly every open source project has an IRC channel (typically on Freenode), as well as many subreddits.


Alternative Title(s):

Undeader Than Disco