troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
The Artifact
aka: Artifact
"Every time the TARDIS materializes in a new location, within the first nanosecond of landing it analyzes its surroundings, calculates a twelve-dimensional data map of everything within a thousand mile radius and determines which outer shell would blend in better with the environment... and then it disguises itself as a police telephone box from 1963."
The Doctor, Doctor Who

Sometimes, a character or gimmick seems to no longer fit with the mood or design of a story according to a writer, but is kept because there seems to be no way for the writer to get rid of them without causing some serious disruption (unrelated to Retcons).

Sometimes it's due to being tied in closely to the mythos or that The Artifact has just been around so long that removing it seems like overstepping bounds. And if it's due to pure fan popularity, the producers probably aren't going to push it out in any case for no reason.

The general way to solve this problem is to avoid it, or rather, them. You can bet anyone considered The Artifact is going to be politely skipped over by the writer whenever they can, although this can get shaky if the audience is seasoned to expect them around.

Very common in webcomics and print comics with a rotating circle of writers. Less common on television given the emphasis on demographics and ratings, although Filler occasionally trots out old premises.

Occasionally this is caught early enough, though in Long Runners this results in a odd Bleached Underpants situation within a series, usually from Author Appeal tastes.

Compare Grandfather Clause, where something cliché or inappropriate is retained because of tradition. Contrast Canon Immigrant, Pinball Protagonist, Breakout Character and Creator's Pet. See also Artifact Title. See Network Decay when this happens to an entire channel. On occasion The Artifact (or something the writers think is only an artifact) will be done away with but then missed and brought back in a different form as a Replacement Artifact; if The Artifact is restructured to fit in with current sensibilities, it's Reimagining The Artifact.

This trope has nothing to do with magical items or similar ancient objects of power; for that, see Ancient Artifact or Artifact of Doom.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • The good-kind-of-bad jingle singer (Dave Bickler of Survivor) in Bud Light's Real Men of Genius campaign made for a better gag when the ads started out and he was singing about Real American Heroes. The latter concept was phased out after 9/11, when making light of "American heroes" started to seem a bit more questionable in taste. It's still a good gag, just minus a little... significance.
  • Erin Esurance, of the Esurance ads.
    • During her run, the ad campaign ditched the whole espionage/Action Girl angle in favor of more traditional type spots. She stuck around for awhile.
    • The next campaign switched the setting to a fictional Esurance office. She was reduced to a poster in the halls.
    • After that, Esurance partnered with Allstate, and all references to past advertisements, Erin included, disappeared.
  • Magic the Dog in Old Navy's first commercials was a fashion designer, with fashion columnist Carrie Donovan (old lady with glasses) talking about his great work in the field of fashion. After the first few commercials, the idea was dropped, and for several years just featured generic commercials, but still featured Magic (just as a dog) and Carrie Donovan (just as old lady with glasses).
  • Early commercials for Capital One represented credit card debt as rampaging hordes of barbarians, which only a Capital One card could drive away. Now their commercials are about barbarians getting along in the modern world using Capital One cards.
    • It helps that the barbarians have been remade into fun-loving guys after a good time. Usually.
    • Capital One's original selling point was that they charged a lower APR than the competition. When they raised their rates during the late-Oughties credit crunch, they had no choice but to re-tool the characters.
    • Parodied in this Onion article, where it turns out that "no one at Capital One can remember why it put Vikings in its ads".
  • A few years ago, Charmin toilet paper ran an animated spot about bears taking the product with them into the woods. The bears have since become the center of their own campaign, but because they also live in houses, there is no connection to the original joke.
  • Duke the talking dog from the Bush's Baked Beans commercials. Originally, the joke was that company spokesman Jay Bush had told the secret family bean recipe to his dog Duke, naturally expecting the animal to keep quiet—but it turned out the dog could actually talk, and wanted to sell the recipe! Nowadays, the commercials for the most part inexplicably feature Jay Bush hanging out with this dog that just happens to talk. They seem to be going back with the original gimmick in a more recent commercial, though. [1]
  • Carfax.com used to have commercials where customers would ask a shady car salesman to "show [them] the Carfax", to which the salesman would instead show them something like the "car mats" or a puppet of a "Car Fox". The latter is now Carfax's mascot.
  • The GEICO Gecko started out as a joke in which a customer calls him, to which he responds "You want Geico, not Gecko." Now he's one of the company's mascots.
    • He's also vaguely Australian (or perhaps lower-class British) now, despite being voiced by Kelsey Grammer in the original.
    • They introduced a talking pig character with a commercial that asked, "Can switching to Geico save you fifteen or more on car insurance? Did the little piggy go wee wee wee all the home?", then showed a pig hanging out a car window shouting "Wee!". Now they've got the pig in normal situations, using the Geico phone app.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Sailor Moon, for the first three seasons, the Monsters-of-the-Day actually did something relevant to the plot, but in the fourth and fifth seasons, their only purpose was to give the girls something to fight before the end of the episode. It became especially bad in the last season; the targets were supposed to be potential Sailor Senshi (hence why they're attacked very early in the original comic) but no attempt is ever made to target those that show up to every single fight, in costume.
    • In the anime, Mamoru Chiba was a Satellite Love Interest, which meant that after he and Usagi hit the Relationship Ceiling at the end of R, the writers really had nothing to do with him, and Usagi had plenty of other characters to emote at. Obviously, being Sailor Moon's destined love, he couldn't be written out completely, but he was pretty much "just there" in the third and fourth seasons, and he was Put on a Bus in the fifth season to allow for Seiya to start a Love Triangle. This is averted in the manga, where he had far more characterization than just being Usagi's destined boyfriend.
    • Evidently director Kunihiko Ikuhara is on record as hating Mamoru... so the sidelining makes sense from that aspect. Doesn't make for a better story, but there is a reason for it.
  • Brock from Pokémon became this during "Johto Journeys" and stayed that way for a loooooong time. The writers seemed to have forgotten all about his stated goal of breeding Pokémon, and were probably keeping him around just to avoid the fan backlash that might result from removing him.
    • It seems the writers have taken notice as he finally left the show in Best Wishes/Black and White.
    • Surprisingly Lampshaded in the last three episodes of "Diamond and Pearl" where Brock realizes that while Ash and Dawn are advancing towards their goals he has made no progress with his. It is also in these episodes that he learns he can put the skills he does have to good use by becoming a Pokémon Doctor, leading to his departure.
    • Team Rocket have been this for just as long, as the organization they belong to have ceased to be the villains of the main games the anime is promoting after Generation II. The Best Wishes/Black and White series attempted to rectify this by giving them actual purpose in the plot and then attempting to write them out, but it didn't stick and they returned to The Artifact status in the Pokemon XY series.
  • Dragon Ball
    • Dragon Ball Z features many characters from the earlier Dragon Ball series (such as Talking Animals Puar the cat and Oolong the pig) that do not mesh well with the less cartoony and more science-fiction style of characters in DBZ.
    • An even better example would be the Dragon Balls themselves. Although they've have some importance in every arc, as soon as it's revealed that Goku and Piccolo are aliens, they take a back seat and they're only used as damage control in the Android/Cell and Buu arcs. They do eventually become more important in Dragon Ball GT.
      • This actually started earlier in the Dragon Ball run. While they were being actively sought through most of Dragon Ball, by the time of the Red Ribbon Saga they were effectively just a MacGuffin and the battles with the bad guys became more prominent. By the King Piccolo Saga, they became little more than a means to how Piccolo gained eternal youth and damage cleanup thereafter, while in the Piccolo Junior Saga they weren't even featured at all. They played a limited role in the Saiyan Saga of Z, while they played a much more prominent role in the Namek/Frieza Saga. The Android/Cell and Buu Sagas all but forgot about them. Basically, the importance of the Dragon Balls themselves started to wane heavily as early as half way through the original Dragon Ball years - in other words, for about 3/4 of whole story they were little more than a Reset Button.
  • One of Slayers's most famous running jokes is the otherwise overconfident Lina Inverse's sensitivity about her endowment. While it's reasonable in the novels and comic, it seemed a case of Hollywood Homely in animated form only rationalized by her bawdy and ridiculously curvy cohort Naga. As the show usually compensated by enlarging everyone else, one suspects it was Executive Meddling in order to make a heroine a bit more cute to the television audience.
    • Slayers Revolution-R dealt with this a little better than the 90s series (where she was easily a B-Cup going towards C), as her character design in the 2000s series is noticeably pretty flat - not a complete Pettanko, but definitely an A-Cup.
  • Kinkotsuman & Iwao from Kinnikuman, parodies of stereotypical Toku villains introduced when the series was a straight up spoof of Ultraman continued to show up long after the Genre Shift to Professional Wrestling.
  • Main character Ginko from Mushishi wears recognizably modern clothes despite the story's setting suggesting a Pre Meiji Japanese location. The author eventually admitted that Ginko was made during the early design period where the story was supposed to take place in modern times, with him simply being left unchanged.
  • Likewise Chrono's very distinctive outfit in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is back from when he was designed to be a more important lead character — and a villain — rather than a side character. There not being much to compare him to, even Erio's outfit is much less flashy.
  • Although Mobile Suit Gundam was the first Real Robot anime, it still carried a lot of baggage from the Super Robot genre, mainly the design aesthetic for Zeon vehicles and an Aerith and Bob naming scheme for their people that evokes the Alien invaders common to Super Robot antagonists, and a number of gimmicky weapons and accessories for the Gundam like the G-Armor, Beam Javelin, and Gundam Hammer. The latter were quickly retconned out of existence in the Movie adaptations, and later Zeon designs have tried to evoke a image closer to World War II Germany.
    • Played with in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, where the eponymous Gundams were only called so a handful of times (once in the first series, twice in the second) because that's what their OS's acronyms spelled out. The units were almost always referred to by their production names.
  • An in-universe example is brought up in the final episode of ''Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex where a few of the protagonists meet in a library. One points out the uselessness of printed media to which another points out that it is just a habit of mankind.
  • The character of Index can't really be dropped from the series A Certain Magical Index, but her character and abilities after the initial arc don't really add anything. However, she's fairly popular and, again, her name is in the title. So as the story introduces two more protagonists and something of a rival main heroine, poor Index is largely confined to either comedy scenes or used as a macguffin. Some of the less kind fans have taken to calling her a headcrab in response to her perceived uselessness and most common running gag.

    Comic Books 
  • Jughead's beanie from the Archie Comics. Back in the forties it was quite common for kids to take old fedora hats and cut them into these crowns, and a boy Jughead's age wearing one basically meant he was a bit immature. Nowadays it's a one-of-a-kind trademark.
    • This was played straight for the longest time with Archie's 1916 Ford Model T jalopy, but finally averted in issue #238 of Life With Archie when his jalopy is permanently destroyed and replaced with the more modern Ford Mustang (that's still a piece of crap).
    • Pop Tate's Choklit Shoppe, a soda shop, has been lampshaded as a hopeless anachronism for decades. There have been attempts to update it such as remodeling it as a independent fast food joint in the 1970s/80s and a internet cafe in the 1990s. Why couldn't they have just reimagined it as a "retro" diner, like the real-life "Mel's Diner?"
  • In his earliest incarnation, Superman held a job at The Daily Planet so he would be the first to hear about misdeeds he could set right. As the character became increasingly more powerful over the decades (i.e. the advent of super-hearing and telescopic vision), the need for him to learn about such things from the Planet was obviated; however, the job is such a central part of the mythos (it's impossible to conceive of his Secret Identity without it) that it has continued into every Continuity Reboot and adaptation to date - and now often sees Clark Kent mysteriously getting all the good Superman stories... In 1971, writer Denny O'Neil actually did do away with the job at the Planet, with Clark taking the more modern job as a news anchor on a national station, with Lana Lang as co-anchor. This was eventually changed back Post-Crisis to tie in with the Superman movies, which featured Clark at the Planet with his classic supporting cast. Also, the idea of Clark as a well known TV personality who is seen by millions of Americans every day makes his questionable disguise even more unbelievable.
    • Lately this has been re-integrated into the mythos, with Clark having been interested in journalism even before he became Superman; thus, being a reporter is part of his attempt to live a normal life outside his heroics. It's also now a way that how Clark can succeed in a purely intellectual field where his powers give him no real advantage over ordinary people. After all, while his powers can help him uncover secrets and write superfast, ultimately they can't help him win him a Pulitzer Prize which depends on his hard earned writing talent alone.
    • Superman also had lots of artifacts like Krypto the Superdog, and odd powers like Super-ventriloquism, that disappeared with the reboot of the character in the 1980s. (Superdog's back now, though not used as a part of Supes' evil-fighting. He certainly fit this trope for a while because he didn't exactly fit the mood of Iron Age comics. Nowadays he fits better, what with Kandor coming back and its citizens coming to our world and all.)
  • Storm of the X-Men can be this way under anyone who isn't Chris Claremont. In theory, she's one of the most popular X-Men, and the company likes what she brings to representation, but many writers are at a loss what to do with her, especially when Cyclops is in the mix.
    • Ditto for Nightcrawler and Colossus, who always seemed better suited for the fantasy, supernatural, and outer space adventures the X-Men's frequently had in the '70s and '80s. They seem an ill fit for the book's gritty realism in more recent years. Probably why Kurt was killed off in 2010.
    • Happens to almost any major X-Men depending on the current writer. You can find runs where almost any character pretty much exists solely because the writer feels like they can't drop them, but gives them no actual relevance to the plot.
  • The most oddball example has to be Super Duck. He started out as a superhero, as his name suggests, but after three issues, he became a lederhosen-wearing average duck sharing misadventures with his nephew Fauntleroy and girlfirend Uwanna, all while still going by the name "Super Duck". A short-lived revival in The Nineties restored him back to "the Cockeyed Wonder" he was originally intended to be. But when he returned again in 'A Night at the Comic Book Shop', he reverted back to the lederhosen-wearing average duck depiction.
  • Spirou wears the costume (or at least nowadays the hat) of a hotel groom / elevator operator. The costume is painfully out of date, but so integral to the character, even when he's wearing more modern attire, pieces of it keep showing up (usually the hat).
    • Spoofed in "Le Petit Spirou", where he wears it as a young boy. So do his mom and dad. It's a family tradition.
  • This started to happen with the Freedom Fighters in Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog series. In fact, for a time, they'd been dropped almost entirely while the comic focused on Sonic and Tails during their World Tour arc. Other characters seemed to fade from prominence and exit the story entirely, but the Freedom Fighters seemed to cling on because they were there from the beginning. However, with Ian Flynn taking over as writer, a lot of the artifact characters are getting repurposed, given expanded roles and more nuance.
    • Another artifact was the series' focus on the rebel war between the Freedom Fighters and Dr. Robotnik. Though Robotnik was defeated in issue #50, 25 issues later, the series hit its inevitable Snap Back with the good doctor's return. Over a hundred issues later? Robotnik's empire is in ruins after a series of numerous defeats. Now he isn't even the master of it anymore, having gone insane and deposed by his nephew Snively and his new gal-pal, the Iron Queen.
    • As a result of being a long-running title, many of its elements, characters and settings in are remnants of the American Sonic media and lore from back when the comic originated. For instance, being originally based on Sonic Sat AM, the comic was said to take place on Mobius, just like the DiC Sonic cartoons from back then. And some elements and names come from the early American continuity from the games. These days the games follow the original Japanese continuity worldwide, which resulted in some of these elements being scrapped. Archie has generally tried to keep up with the games (ie: renaming Floating Island to Angel Island, making the characters closer the their game incarnations, etc.), but as they can't move the whole cast to another planet, the comics were (until a recent Cosmic Retcon did away with it) the only adaptation that still uses Mobius. Similarly, many characters that are still featured in the title (the aforementioned Freedom Fighters being the most notable and prominent ones) come from the DiC Sonic cartoons from back then and, as the comic became closer to the games, they felt increasingly out of place.
  • A lot of things in the Wonder Woman mythos probably count as this at one point or another:
    • Steve Trevor he was, notionally, Diana's love interest, but from the 50s onward nobody could really get much of a read on him; he was killed off at least twice in the Silver and Bronze ages, and revived both times largely because writers assumed he must have some kind of role in the comics. The 1987 reboot aged him and did away with him as Diana's love interest, marrying him to another character; subsequent debate about the character has revolved around whether or not his old position should be restored, but quite a few fans see no reason to.
    • Wonder Woman's invisible jet. Contrary to the visual depiction, it does make Wonder Woman invisible as well, but in the modern era, where Wonder Woman can fly on her own like Supermannote , it can seem kind of pointless. Occasionally justified - e.g., for sneaking up on, and landing on, a possessed Power Girl, or for carrying passengers (Black Canary once remarked that being carried across an ocean by a flying hero could be really annoying, because your underwear rides up and you can't adjust....)
    • Her armored corset's iconic stars-and-stripes motif made a lot more sense in the Golden Age comics, when she was persuaded to enter "Man's World" for the first time by an Army officer, she was an Army nurse in her civilian identity, and every other issue involved her fighting the Nazis. note  Now that Greek Mythology has become such a central part of the series' lore (with her powers now said to be gifts from the Gods of Olympus), her decision to wear the American flag on her costume can seem a bit baffling, but her costume's design is far too well-known to change. Some writers give a halfhearted explanation that she sees herself as an ambassador to the US, and wears their colors as a somewhat odd act of patriotism, though others don't even give her that.
  • Reed Richards has the ability to stretch his limbs. However, as time goes on he used this power for actual combat less and less. Why? Because he's The Smart Guy of the Marvel universe, and that's dominated his characterization. If he shows up outside of the book, expect little use of the stretching, and inside the book only occasionally.
    • Often he'll just be randomly stretched for no important reason, just for the purpose of them acknowledging that's his power or else he uses it to grab an item on a counter far away or something. Pretty much never for combat.
    • Some more recent comics, such as 4, bring his elastic body back into the foreground by showing how useful such a power is when in the hands of the smartest man on the planet. His secondary powers from his plastine skin (such as not needing to sweat, or enhanced heat resistance) come up often too.
    • In the same vein, there's his wife Sue Richards' codename, "Invisible Woman", which seems somewhat ridiculous now that she uses her forcefield powers far more often than she uses her powers of invisibility. Her powers of invisibility are derived from her force fields, of course, but the writers have long since figured out that forcefields (which can also be used as force beams, and as Hard Light constructs) are far more useful in a fight than becoming invisible. This is at least partly due to Character Development: in the early days of the comic, Sue was much less of an Action Girl, and preferred to avoid the Four's battles.
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes has a group called the Legion of Super-Villains. This sort of Silver Age name would never be used nowadays (since nobody thinks of themselves as villains), but is so closely associated with the group that it can't be changed in the comic. (The cartoon used Light Speed Vanguard.)
    • In a similar vein, Magneto seldom uses the name Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, but occasionally it's justified - if you see mutants as evil, we'll give you evil mutants.
  • Orient Men was originally basically a superhero parody, who battled crooks and giant apes and ghosts. Then the comic switched to more eclectic humor and plotline, and though Orient Men still wore his superhero cape and flew around, his "superhero" status became more and more ignored.
  • In the superhero genre, the Secret Identity trope often exists as an artifact, used whether or not it makes sense for the individual hero in question. Many early superheroes had secret identities pretty much because Superman had one, and if he did it, that must be a trope worth copying. Notably, many adaptations and "new" incarnations of superhero characters either dispense with the Secret Identity altogether or use it, but have it known to a large number of friends and family:
    • Reading Wonder Woman's early Golden Age stories, one gets the distinct impression the standard "secret identity protection" tropes are used mostly due to the "Superman does it" school of Executive Meddling. The tropes are there, but usually dealt with in a perfunctory manner, and you can practically sense that writer William Moulton Marston is bored with them and eager to move on to the fun stuff. Notably, apart from sheer physical strength, Diana Prince is almost indistinguishable from Wonder Woman—extremely smart and capable, and recognized as a top counter-intelligence agent in her own right. Most recent incarnations of Wonder Woman have dispensed with Diana Prince altogether.
    • In Silver Age Iron Man stories, it often seems like keeping his identity a secret causes Tony Stark more problems than it solves. At the very least, it seems like letting his fanatically loyal employees Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts in on the secret would be a good idea. The movies dispensed with any notion of a secret identity by the end of the first one.
    • Many modern writers have found Thor's "Dr. Donald Blake" secret identity to be dispensable, and it's only used in the 2011 movie as a brief Continuity Nod (and because, well, were the scientists supposed to say, "hey, this is a guy who fell from the sky and says he's a depowered god" or "this is my brother Donald"?)
    • The Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle is an example of a more modern approach to the secret identity.
      • In his 2006-2009 series, he technically had a secret identity, but his close friends and immediate family were all in on the secret.
      • Curiously, the 2011 New 52 relaunch took a more "classical" approach to the secret identity, as the Blue Beetle armor physically prevents Jaime from revealing his secret identity to others.
    • Captain America. Why would the government devote significant money and resources to create an elite special forces symbol of America in the largest war in its history, only to hide him out as a buck private? Not only would this risk getting him killed in combat taking some stupid bridge, but it also forced him to make up some lame excuse every time he needed to slip away for a real mission. As with Thor and Iron Man, the 2011 movie dispensed with the secret identity altogether.
      • Another serious artifact to deal with Cap is Bucky. While Robin can be explained as Batman's apprentice at best and part of Batman's eccentricities at worst, Captain America is an agent for the US military, which makes Bucky a Child Soldier operating with their knowledge. Today in the comics, Bucky is largely treated as an remarkably young looking agent who started with Cap at 15 years old (really young, but not unprecedented at that time), and was a 19 year (and thus of an entirely legal age) by 1945. The film, Captain America: The First Avenger, avoids the issue entirely by making Bucky Steve Rogers' contemporary in age who just looks like a kid compared to Steve after his Project Rebirth enhancements.
    • They are even beginning to apply this to Batman, of all people. With Batman (as of mid-2011) franchising out his name, a public awareness that maybe he's more than one guy, and the fact that Wayne has publicly admitted to funding Batman, the response when someone says, "Bruce Wayne is Batman," tends to be, "So?" And many of his enemies (including Ra's al-Ghul, the Black Glove, Riddler, and possibly Joker) know his identity, and all of his close friends and family tend to be Badass in their own right, his secret ID is getting pointless.
    • This actually gets lampshaded in Ultimate Spider-Man. Over the course of the 100+ issues, every member of his Rogue Gallery, and damn near every supporting character learned that Peter was Spider-Man. After his death, Flash Thompson, who is sitting alone in a classroom, questions if he was the only person who didn't know.
  • Spider-Man's Aunt May. Her original purpose was to be an unwitting obstruction in Peter's life for drama's sake: She was very frail so illness could strike at any moment, she didn't have much money so Peter had to get a job to support the family and her constant worrying about Peter not meant sneaking out to be Spider-Man was tricky but kept Peter from telling her his secret (out of fear she'd die of shock). When Peter finally moved out of the house and was on his own he was free from her smothering while May herself was able to sell her house and move in with her friend, meaning she had a nest egg to live off of and had someone to take care of her. After that there wasn't really anything for her to do in the book except die (but that caused some problems).
  • Mortadelo y Filemón were originally a pair of detectives- with Filemón being the self-important boss and Mortadelo being the incompetent subordinate who would mess things up in every strip. Two decades later, they moved to an agency working as regular employees with the same responsibilities. Despite this, Mortadelo keeps calling Filemón "Boss", because it had already became his second name.
  • Image Comics started off with a Cliché Storm of Nineties Anti-Hero comics such as Spawn, Witchblade, and Youngblood. Around the turn of the century, Image decided to diversify its output, and largely phased out such stories in favor of independent comics like The Walking Dead, with the comparatively light Invincible being one of their few major superhero efforts. Nonetheless, many of the books created by founders who haven't left still stick around, despite being completely out of place on Image's current lineup; Savage Dragon is even still written and drawn by Erik Larsen. Image mostly keeps these books out of the public eye, only drawing attention to them for special issues like anniversaries.
  • A few Transformers comics series set in modern times still keep the classic alt modes of the Transformers. Iconic characters like Soundwave (other than maybe in a hipster's hand, where would you see a tape deck boombox anymore) and Optimus Prime (it's incredibly rare to see a 1980 Arcliner tractor trailer still on the road) particularly stand out.
    • For some Transformers series, having alternate modes (cars, jets, etc) as a means of disguise is treated as an artifact. In Transformers Energon transforming into alt mode is used almost exclusively for driving (yes, driving) through outer space. The IDW comics have varied, depending on if the stories were set on Earth or set in space. Recent comics set in space even lampshade the pointlessness of alt modes. Of course, alt modes will always remain, for obvious reasons.

    Fan Fic 
  • In-Universe in The Calvin, Hobbes, and Paine Show — after Miss Wormwood leaves the show, all school-related stories were phased out, but Principal Spittle was still around. Calvin mentions that he ended up being rather awkwardly shoehorned into some of the stories.

    Film 
  • Kevin was the second lead of the film American Pie after Jim, but thanks to the breakout characters of Finch and, particularly, Stifler, by the time the third film (American Wedding) rolled around there was really nothing for him to do, especially since his love interest Tara Reid wasn't even in the movie. But because he was Jim's best friend it would've been strange for him not to be in the wedding party so he was basically just around to stand there and hardly say anything.
  • The writers of Back to the Future II were stuck with the fact they had put Marty's girlfriend in the car with Doc at the end of the first movie, thus forcing them to write her into the sequel. They said that, if they had actually planned on a sequel, they never would have put her in there. They did, however, find a way to write her back out again until the very end of BTTF III.
  • There is no real need for Andromeda to appear in the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans given she has lost her role as love interest to Perseus and her city has already done more than enough to anger the gods even without her mother's hubris in proclaiming her beauty. She only seems to have been retained at all because Perseus rescuing Andromeda is such a big part of the original myth.
    • Andromeda is shown handing out food to the poor people in the city. So at least she is useful in-universe. It's also worth noting that she was Perseus's love interest in the original cut of the film (with Io and Perseus simply being Like Brother and Sister) and had much more screentime that ended up being cut as a result of Executive Meddling. See this alternate ending.
  • The Lord of the Rings is an interesting example. Arwen wasn't super-prominent in the books, barely more than a One-Scene Wonder (two-scenes to be exact), but Liv Tyler was high-profile enough that filmmakers felt it would be pragmatic to expand her role. She got third billing too. However, as the films went on, they (rightly) felt they would do well to stick to Tolkien and focus on the main plot, and the films were pretty much successful enough to not bother with pleasing focus research. As a result, Arwen's appearances in Return of the King are essentially cameos.
    • The same principle happened to Cate Blanchett's Galadriel, but to a lesser degree because she is already way more prominent than Arwen. Apart from the Lothlórien chapters (which take up a sizable chunk of Fellowship of the Ring), Galadriel gets mentioned again from time to time, and she shows up at the very end. The appendices give more information about her, including an Offscreen Moment of Awesome where she (and her husband) led an elven army to destroy one of Sauron's main fortresses in the North while the main characters were fighting their own battles to the East. For the films, Blanchett was given more lines and scenes throughout the trilogy.
    • In the books, Arwen was a late addition who took Éowyn's place as Aragorn's love interest when Tolkien decided to ship Éowyn with Faramir instead. In the books, she appears in two scenes: a banquet in Rivendell, and then her wedding. She is mentioned on the sly a few times later, but her story is almost exclusively part of Aragorn's backstory, found in the appendices.
  • Muppets Most Wanted has Walter. He fulfilled his purpose in the first movie but, in the second one, he's just there. You could switch him out with another Muppet and no one would know. On the other hand, if he didn't appear in the sequel, then his journey in the first film would've been made pointless.
  • Although the film of Runaway Jury involves gun politics, the original novel was about a tobacco company on trial. Nevertheless, the movie still contains a number of references to the pros and cons of smoking (e.g. The Protagonist telling a neighbor that he should quit), which are a leftover from the source material.
  • Jar Jar Binks in episodes 2 and 3 of the Star Wars trilogy (left over from episode 1).
    • However, George Lucas foresaw and deliberately averted this with Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope. He was originally going to survive his encounter with Darth Vader on the Death Star, but with crippling injuries, and spend the rest of the film as an invalid, giving advice from the sidelines. Lucas realised that this would just slow the action down and get in the way, and rewrote the script, not that long before the fight sequence was due to be shot.
    • This may be where the "force ghost" concept came from - as an alternative method of dispensing said advice.
    • In the Expanded Universe, C-3PO does this a lot. So does Lando to a lesser extent.
    • Oddly enough, it also applies to C-3PO and R2-D2's appearances in the prequels. Their presence creates a bit of a plot hole, but at the same time it was pretty much impossible to not have them in the movies.
  • In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies, which are PG, they can't exactly show the Ninja Turtles slicing and dicing their opponents. However, Leonardo's katanas are so iconic to him that he can't have any other weapon. For that reason, he uses his swords only for Flynning and actually hits his opponents with his hands and feet.
  • Vesper Lynd's name in Casino Royale. Her name is a play on "West Berlin", as her loyalties were split down the middle like how Germany was split by the Berlin wall in much of the Cold War.
  • Star Trek (2009) has an interesting meta-example with Chekhov's portrayal. In the original series, Walter Koenig's hilariously bad Russian accent ("Keptin! Enemy wessel approaching!") was one of the most memorable things about his performance, and it rapidly became the character's trademark. In the 2009 version, Chekhov is played by the Russian-born Anton Yelchin, who actually speaks fluent Russian, and is fully capable of speaking in a convincing Russian accent. He doesn't, of course, since everybody knows that Chekhov just wouldn't be Chekhov without that cheesy accent.note 
  • In Louis Sachar's Holes, the protagonist Stanley Yelnats is explicitly written as overweight, and he receives the nickname "Caveman" from the other kids at Camp Green Lake because of his size. For the film adaptation, the producers cast a young (and not remotely pudgy) Shia LaBeouf as Stanley, but he kept the nickname.

    Law 
  • The criminal law of Finland still starts with the words (roughly translated) "We, Alexander the Third, with the grace of God, Emperor and Autocrat of Russia, Tzar of Poland, Grand Duke of Finland, etc. etc. etc. decree that..." and so on and so forth, even though Finland has not been under Russian rule since 1917, and a quite significant portion of the law has changed since.
    • There are still some statutes in Finnish law from as back as 1734 and that have been completely obsolete for hundreds of years, but have still not been removed. These laws mandate, among other things, what types of plants each household must cultivate every year, and set fines in Thalers (a monetary unit that hasn't been in use in Finland since about 1860.)
  • Since the Constitution of the United States cannot be changed, only amended, the 18th amendment still establishes the prohibition of alcohol (repealed by the 21st amendment).
    • There are several other such artifacts, such as original system of selecting the Presidential runner-up as Vice President (replaced by the 12th Amendment). One of the compromises between the free and slave states had a built-in deadline that turned it into an artifact (importation of slaves was protected until 1808; it was banned by law as soon as this clause expired). Many printings of the Constitution will cross out, gray out, or otherwise indicate sections that have been superseded by later amendments.
    • There's nothing in the Constitution requiring this to be so, but when the first few amendments were adopted it was consciously decided that they would stand on their own rather than changing the original text piecemeal.
  • Pretty much anything associated with judicial dress in the English-speaking world. Black robes were originally worn as a gesture of mourning for Queen Anne, wigs as a sign of 17th century aristocratic fashion (or, in the colonies, English political domination).
  • The British aristocratic titles of Duke, Earl, Viscount, Marchioness, etc all originate from a feudal system where they were clearly distinct political offices with clear responsibilities and powers. As the centuries went on, this diminished to all the ranks of peerage having the same effective function - granting their holder a seat in the House of Lords. As of 1997, they don't even do that any more, but the titles still legally exist.
    • Similarly, members of the House of Lords cannot vote in elections for the House of Commons. As most Lords are affiliated to a particular party, this rule obviously isn't because of neutrality, so why's it there? Because the Lords and Commons originally represented different strata of society. All aristocrats were automatically in the House of Lords anyway, so why did they need to be represented in the Commons?
    • There's a lot of such laws.
  • Until recently the French President was allowed to declare the state of emergency on the Algerian territory even though Algeria has been independent since 1962.
    • Some laws dealt with how redacting the death certificate of an executed convict or placed capital decrees among the rulings prioritary for Supreme Court's review even though death penalty was abolished in 1981.
    • Some outdated dispositions about hard labor (abolished in 1960) have also recently been repealed.
    • Some condominiums' bylaws, adopted under the Vichy Regime, still prohibit selling to Jews; this could be considered a double exemple of this trope since the statutes which these bylaws cite for defining a Jew have been abrogated and the bylaws themselves are nullified by later anti-discrimination statutes.
  • Some unconstitutional statutes in state Codes of the USA have still not been repealed.
  • The possibility of appealing a ruling of the High Court of Australia to the Privy Council has been effectively nullified by the refusal of the High Court to give the leave needed.
  • The constitution of the German state of Hesse still includes the death penalty as a possible means of punishment. However, since the death penalty in Germany was abolished on federal level, and federal law trumps state law, this has effectively no meaning.

    Literature 
  • In the first Harry Potter book, the House Cup championship was such Serious Business that Harry, Hermione and Neville became the most unpopular kids in school after losing Gryffindor a hundred and fifty points and the awarding of the Cup was important enough to almost be a second climax. Later in the series, no one seems to care much about the House Cup anymore when the emphasis on School Tropes is dropped in favour of the high-stakes war against Voldemort, and yet Snape stubbornly continues to punish our heroes by taking points from Gryffindor. This is addressed in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, where it's stated that as students get older, they generally stop caring about the House Cup.
    • Quidditch also stopped being important after the third book. The next three books kept creating reasons for Harry to no longer play quidditch since it could not be outright ignored.
  • Applies to Zaphod Beeblebrox in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series (at least in the book version), after he fulfills his self imposed mission. He makes a fairly small appearance in Life, the Universe and Everything and was then completely absent, with only one or two mentions, until And Another Thing.... The radio version of Mostly Harmless (made after Douglas Adams' death) felt compelled to bring him back anyway.
    • Similarly, any visual version of Hitchhiker's Guide suffers from the complication of giving Zaphod a second head and a third arm. Both elements were completely unimportant in the actual books and radio play and just inserted to be weird. Yet if you were to design a one headed, two armed Zaphod, you'd have a riot of galactic proportions.
      • The movie compromised this by only giving him a retractable head (which actually becomes a plot point in this version). He does have three arms, but the extra one only shows up a few times, and seems to come out of his chest.
    • The radio version's differing plot for the second season kept Zaphod in a fairly important role, and he was a popular character; so they gave him an expanded role in the adapted series.
    • Ford Prefect's name. The joke is not only lost entirely on American audiences, but modern British audiences as well, as the Ford Prefect car that was once so popular in Britain has quietly disappeared. (The joke was that Ford, when coming to Earth, had mistaken cars for Earth's dominant life form due to insufficient research.) The German version fixes this by calling the character "Ford Escort", while all other versions keep his name the same. The US film got around the problem by showing Ford and Arthur's first meeting (Ford steps into the street to greet an oncoming car — which is indeed a Ford Prefect, Arthur tackles him just in time) and having Ford tell Arthur what he was doing and why, specifically pointing out his unusual name.
  • Adaptations of Agatha Christie novels often change things about a bit, most notably in the Hercule Poirot film Appointment with Death. The famous opening sentence of the novel is “You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?” It is kept in the film, but because the rest of the plot is so drastically different from the book, it becomes largely irrelevant.
    • In After the Funeral there is an emphasis on nuns, something that turns out to be a false lead designed by the culprit to redirect suspicion. In the Poirot adaptation, the running thread of the nuns are shifted from the murderer to other suspects, making it more of an obscure Red Herring than an actual clue.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Fast Forward on The Amazing Race. For the first four seasons, there was one on every leg, giving each team one free pass per season. However, for budgetary reasons (as it was not cost-effective to set up all these single use tasks, especially when half of them never got used, and therefore never made it onto the show), starting with Season 5, the Fast Forward was cut back to only one or two per season, although the "one per team" rule still applied. With all the strategy drained out of it, the Fast Forward has mostly become a cheap and/or easy win for a team that was already in the lead, as no team outside of the lead pack would dare risk it, as to try and fail to get it would mean certain elimination (as happened to Terence & Sarah on Season 13).
  • American Dreams. Its original gimmick of American Bandstand performances (and then modern-day stars doing faux-Bandstand performances) seemed more and more awkwardly included, as the show attempted to become refocused as a serious drama that just happened to take place in the 60s.
  • Mr Lucas on Are You Being Served? was presented as the young, straight, white, male This Loser Is You in the series's pilot. The series soon progressed into typical British farce and he was demoted into a Deadpan Snarker.
    • That's because the show was originally designed as a "youth" vehicle and Trevor Bannister and Wendy Richard were to play the main characters. The producers' mistake was in assembling a stellar and highly professional cast in the shape of Frank Thornton, Mollie Sugden, John Inman and Arthur Brough, who outshone the "stars" of the piece. Eventually Trevor Bannister left, because he had been promised a starring role and he kept getting upstaged by a bunch of old pantomime and "Carry-On" left-overs.
  • On Boy Meets World, Topanga's name was one. Her character was given that name to emphasize her Granola Girl personality and overal weirdness (the name comes from Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles, where a lot of hippies reside), but after her character was retooled in season two and those aspects of her character were dropped, she just became a normal girl with a weird name. In light of this, there were several jokes about her name throughout the series.
  • This was the fate of Giles and Xander in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Giles was such a key part of the good old days of the show that getting rid of him would have caused an outcry; he left and came back several times, even if he didn't seem to contribute anything much. (Don't even start on his weird behaviour in Season 7.) It could be said he was pointless as early as Season 3, when he was no longer Buffy's Watcher, though he still kept doing the job after the Council fired him and it wasn't until Season 4 that his role really lessened in importance. Xander's lack of anything to do from Season 4 was even more obvious. Nicholas Brendon was apparently told by Joss Whedon that his story had come to an end but since he was one of the original four, he couldn't go. Even the show itself dealt with Xander complaining about his own uselessness a few times.
    • This might be why Xander ended up taking a level in carpenter - so he could fix the damage the house would suffer Once an Episode in later seasons. Ironically, the season 8 comics decide to give him something to do by basically having him replace Giles as watcher. But since the Slayers are a giant international organization now, he has much more work to do than Giles did.
    • Vampires themselves became an Artifact on the show. In the first three seasons, vampires posed a serious threat and the Big Bads of seasons 1 and 2 were vampires. However in later seasons, the Big Bads became super intelligent robots, evil hell Gods and the First ever evil itself. As a result vampires on the show had pretty much become little more than Mooks to be quickly dispatched to demonstrate Buffy's strength. The show was called "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" so she had to be shown slaying some vampires even if she had bigger threats to deal with.
    • In the later seasons of Angel, Gunn dealt with the same internal issues of being no good for anything but fighting. Wolfram & Hart solves the issue on purpose after Angel and crew convince him to stay with them, by shooting his brain full of lawyer training.
  • The Book of Shadows in Charmed was initially vital to the sisters when they were starting out, informing them of their powers and listing all the known demon threats. However the sisters eventually grew powerful and creative enough to write their own Power of Three spells, as well as having strong enough active powers on their own (Piper's exploding power could dispatch three demons at a time by the end whereas in the first season a Power of Three spell was needed for everything). They were also able to come up with their own effective potions so looking something up in the Book didn't seem to have much use other than simply being what the sisters normally did.
    • Although why they kept it around is justified since the next generations of witches after them wouldn't have the Power of Three so they would need the book.
  • On Dallas, Lucy Ewing became an artifact character around the fourth or fifth season once she grew up and stopped being a wild teenager. The writers gave her a drug problem, got her off of it and had her chase different short-term male guest stars (she almost married one until J.R. found out he was gay). Her appearances on the show notably dwindle from the sixth season; finally they Put Her On a Bus to Atlanta to marry one of the previously-mentioned males, brought her back after the divorce, sent her to Italy, brought her back again, and finally sort of lampshaded the whole thing by excluding her from the series finale episode and adding a line that in a world without J.R., she'd never have been born.
  • Degrassi The Next Generation was originally a drama about teenagers and a parallel one about the now-adult former students of The Eighties' Degrassi High), in near-equal parts. The older cast was de-emphasized until most of them left at the end of season 5 leaving only Snake / Mr. Simpson, and even the parts of his personal life outside school were phased out.
  • The TARDIS's police-box exterior, from Doctor Who. Initially, the TARDIS was stuck in that shape and couldn't blend to its surroundings because to build a new prop each week would be impossible on the show's budget. They had a decent hand-wave, though — the TARDIS was a broken-down piece of junk by the standards of the Doctor's race, and the Doctor could barely even make it go where he wanted to, so it was plausible that some of its intended functions (such as camoflage) wouldn't work at all. These days, the show has a far more vast budget, and the TARDIS has a much higher success rate, but the police box is so iconic that it's continued to stick no matter how little sense it makes.
    • The Doctor has attempted to fix the chameleon circuit on several occasions but never with any success. On one occasion, he did manage to get the TARDIS to change its exterior appearance but was relieved when it returned to its familiar police box shape at the story's conclusion.
    • According to Donna in the series 4 finale when she had gained the Doctor's knowledge the Doctor does know how to solve it. To judge by how she was speaking of it, it would be a fairly trivial fix, so we can assume that the Doctor keeps it as a police box out of choice.
    • The Doctor's "thirteen lives" limit seems to be heading the way of the artifact. It's there, all right, but since "The Time of the Doctor" he's kept going on thanks to a plot device that's been mentioned all the way back in The Five Doctors.
  • The Artifact (Yes, that is its name) from Eureka is an example of this; it had its own arc ending with an ominous declaration that one character, Nathan Stark, would eventually figure out what it is, but then the show got more episodic, Stark was disintegrated and The Artifact was further forgotten about after the series' Cosmic Retcon.
  • Harriet Winslow of Family Matters would ultimately end up as this by the latter seasons after it became clear that Urkel was the undisputed main character. The irony about this is that the show started off as a spinoff of her character and her family. But after Urkel-mania became big, the show started to focus more on the members of the Winslow family who actually had dynamic and comedic relationships with Urkel (Carl, Laura, and Eddie). Harriet ended up being the last hold over who never got written out of the show. Though even then, Harriet's actress realized this and left the show, and the character was recast with a new actress for the last few episodes of the series.
  • Originally, Zoe, Demetri's fiancee on FlashForward (2009), was supposed to have an increased role later in the series due to Demetri dying as he had originally learned he would. When the producers decided to keep him alive since John Cho had gained some popularity following the Star Trek reboot and the show's ratings needed all the help they could get, they left Zoe with no real role otherwise, and her appearances were reduced shortly before she broke up with Demetri before the first season finale, which also turned out to be the series finale.
  • Mike and Tina on Glee. In Season 1, Tina had a fake stutter and was dating Artie. Mike danced with his friend Matt. Between seasons one and two, Tina dumped Artie for Mike, and Mike got a bigger role, Tina's dropped dramatically, and Artie became a fan favorite. Now Mike exists to do cool dance routines and Tina exists to cry while she sings.
    • Many consider Sue Sylvester to be an Artifact from when Glee was more of a satirical, dark comedy. She has mostly given up her vendetta against Will Schuester and the Glee Club, and the writers have been scrambling to give her a purpose ever since.
    • The Glee Club itself became an Artifact in the fourth season, when the show started to divide its attention between New Directions in Ohio and the graduates who moved to New York—originally just Rachel, who was later joined by Kurt and Santana. While the New York storylines were new, dynamic, and proof that life can get better for an outcast after high school, the Ohio storylines felt like an obligation at best and an afterthought at worst. The writers eventually realized this, and McKinley High was dropped altogether in favor of New York, with fan favorites Sam, Artie, Blaine, and Mercedes moving there to join the aforementioned trio.
  • In Grimm, the character of Monroe was originally introduced as Edward Monroe. The character's first name has been completely forgotten. To the point where his parents and girlfriend both refer to him as Monroe.
  • Potsie of Happy Days suffered from this in the show's later seasons. The show started off centering around Richie and Potsie getting involved in unwise schemes and pranks. Then, after Fonzie became the star and Richie left the series, Potsie no longer served any purpose, but that didn't stop him from making awkward token appearances in the later years.
  • Herman's Head went through this in its later seasons. Once the show had used up all the potential in the "see aspects of Herman's brain fight it out" gimmick, and moved on to slightly deeper storylines, the brain-characters were pushed further and further in the background, until eventually they would barely make anything beyond a perfunctory appearance.
  • Hikari Sentai Maskman was supposed to be called "The Fiveman", hence why the number "5" served as the emblem on their suits and why their first giant robot was called Great Five. Once it got retitled, the "5" is only there for the Rule of Cool.
  • The patient of the week on House has been secondary to the main characters' personal issues since Season 4, whereas the show's original premise was "a medical drama in the style of a cop detective show". The fact that the audience found the characters so engaging is a credit to the writers, but means that more and more frequently the episode will sideline the patient or sometimes not even feature one.
  • During the initial seasons of the South African soap opera Isidingo, the instrumental theme tune prominently featured a saxophone. During the pre-credit sequence, this same tune could be heard faintly in the background. Then in 2011, the theme tune was modified somewhat. The major change being that the saxophone was replaced by a synth - though the melody remained the same. Strangely though, the post-2011 episodes still featured the older, saxophone laced music in the pre-credits sequence.
  • The motorcycles in the Kamen Rider series. Initially, the hero's character designs were based loosely upon bikers. However as each newer season moved thematically further and further away from this, the bikes are kept in, just to make sense of the "Rider" in the title. They'll sometimes be introduced and never seen again. This gave rise to the fan criticism, "It's called 'Kamen Rider', not 'Kamen Walk-All-Over-the-F@$king-place'!"
    • More recent series, particularly Kamen Rider Double and Kamen Rider OOO have tried to avert this by using the bikes much more prominently; Double's bike can convert into a watercraft or jet and is used to fight giant monsters, while his Second Rider Accel turns into a motorcycle.
    • Kamen Rider #2 (Hayato Ichimonji) in the original Kamen Rider, and Riderman (Yuki Jouji) from Kamen Rider V3 are both counted as primary Kamen Riders by the franchise, and thus make appearances in the lineup when all the main characters are needed to show up, when other Riders who appeared later don't. It makes some sense for Hayato, since he was the main character for a good chunk of the show, but Riderman was never the main character of the series he was in. This fact originated when all the series were clearly part of the same universe, and V3 declared Riderman to be the fourth Kamen Rider, but it's remained the case even into the Heisei era of the franchise, when the shows started to become more standalone and the modern conception of the secondary Rider, who had the title of Kamen Rider but wasn't the main character, started to emerge.
  • Throughout the run of 30 Rock, fewer and fewer plots directly involved TGS, leaving much of the supporting cast (especially Josh and later Danny) with little to do. Additionally, Pete was originally intended to be Liz's confidante and support system, but this role was increasingly co-opted by Jack, who was originally intended to be semi-villainous. Thus, Pete was slowly repurposed into a miserable Jaded Washout, but still spent much of the later seasons Out of Focus.
  • MacGyver shifted its focus over time from his role as a troubleshooter for the government (and, later, the humanitarian/scientific/mercenary/whatever Phoenix Foundation) to being more of a glorified social worker with the Challenger's Club as his base of operations. As such, many things ended up becoming artifacts. The Phoenix Foundation played a vestigial role in most of the later episodes, Pete became little more than an incidental sidekick instead of a vital character, and even MacGyver's trademark improvisational inventions started requiring special attention to incorporate into the stories. If the series had continued on, it probably would have eventually written out all of those elements.
  • Stan Switek in Miami Vice. Switek was one-half of the show's comedy duo, along with fellow officer Larry Zito, and entire segments would be devoted to their antics as they drove around in a surveillance van and got into various shenanigans. As the show became Darker and Edgier, so did the plots, and Zito was killed off in a dramatic two-parter midway through the season. With his partner gone, Switek had next-to-nothing to do, and spent most of the next two seasons being little more than a background character. The producers attempted to make him relevant again by giving him a gambling addiction and run-ins with the mob, but these were barely remembered in the course of Crockett's amnesia arc and the resulting fallout. The only reason he was kept on is because he was part of the small core cast and a sympathetic figure. Scenes in the series finale that would have clearly showed him becoming a turncoat and ratting out Crockett and Tubbs to a Colombian general were deleted because he wasn't deemed important enough.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers ran headlong into this as a result of being adapted from three different Super Sentai shows. The first season was based solely on Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, so things worked just fine. But for the second season, rather than adopting Super Sentai's tradition of making a completely new show and storyline every year, Saban chose to take the monsters and robots from Gosei Sentai Dairanger while retaining the Zyuranger suits for the heroes and keeping the same main villains. The same thing was done for the third season with Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, though in this instance the Kakuranger suits were used for a another team of Rangers. Overall this results in quite a few oddities, since the motifs of the three Sentai teams did not match: while the animal robots and suits in Zyuranger were based on prehistoric beasts, the ones in Dairanger were based on Chinese mythology and the ones in Kakuranger were based on Japanese mythology. The ranger roster and colors also did not match: while all three teams had their respective red, blue and yellow rangers, Dairanger had a "regular" green ranger instead of black and a white sixth (which resulted in the Black Ranger piloting a green-colored lion robot and Tommy being forced to switch suits and powers in the middle of Season 2), while Kakuranger had a female white ranger instead of pink and no sixth (forcing the White and Pink Rangers to share the same Shogunzord). This also holds true for the villains, as the character of Rita Repulsa and her minions stayed on the show for a total of six seasons despite the fact that their Sentai counterparts (Bandora the Witch and her gang) were sealed away at the end of Zyuranger. The most stand-out case is Finster, who was the villains' monster-maker and Mad Scientist, but had his role greatly reduced in the second and third seasons when new Big Bads with the power to make their own monsters were introduced.
    • After the death of Zordon the word Zord itself was an artifact of a previous era of Power Rangers history.
    • The lightning-bolt in the logo was (and is) put there for Rule of Cool. However, the original seasons tried to justify it, by having the teens teleport in a bolt of lightning of their color. Since abandoning them, it now has even less purpose.
      • The presence of the Astro Megaship and Alpha 6 in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy is another example, basically causing the season to be a bit of a "transitional" period between the Zordon Era and the later, more stand-alone seasons.
  • During the time when PBS was called NET, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood featured a building in the model town used for the opening and closing of the show that incorporated NET's unevenly sloped roof logo. Starting in 1971, the building was re-painted yellow-orange, followed by the more familiar red. The odd slope, however, remained until the show's end.
  • Ryan Howard on The Office has never been quite important enough to justify his existence as one of the main cast members, but he definitely had a role as The New Guy who would react to all the strangeness of the Office because he wasn't used to it. After the third season he actually started becoming less important than the likes of Angela, Stanley, Kevin, etc. none of whom are in the opening credits. By this point, if Ryan appears in an episode at all it's as little more than a cameo, and yet he's still there in the opening credits.
    • He's in the main credits because the actor who plays him is also one of the producers, not because of the importance of his character.
  • Originally, The Price Is Right was all about the replication of an auction: trying to get a good deal on something through multiple rounds of bidding as close to the actual price, without going over. Which contestant returned each week was based around who got the best "deals" through their bidding; big prizes such as houses, shares of stock, and small business franchises weren't unheard of. With the new version, the "pricing games" are really the central concept of the show, with the biggest prizes, and the auctioneering aspects of the show are more formalities than anything.
  • Prison Break had this problem a lot; understandable, when the series shifted from focusing on characters in one location to following characters who'd scattered across America - by which point they no longer had a prison to break out of. During season 2, some awkward attempts were made to fold Artifact characters into the series' Myth Arc (though there were some successful attempts too), while others, like Magnificent Bastard T-Bag, ended up getting huge chunks of solo screentime that ultimately contributed nothing to the main arc of the series. The third and fourth seasons did a much better job of giving everyone a role.
    • The show also had a problem with the map of the prison the main character had tattooed on his arms in the early seasons. Once he got out, the map was no longer necessary ... but they forgot to write a scene where he gets the tattoo removed. So, he spends the next two seasons in a tropical prison constantly wearing long-sleeved shirts no matter how hot and humid it got.
  • Psych has Shawn's psychic pretence as something of an artifact. While it's occasionally important, most of the time they don't even bother with him hiding how he figured everything out.
    • Shawn's psychic ability is also an in-universe artifact, as the only reason he's allowed to work with the police in the first place is how powerful his "psychic" abilities are. Of course, years later, his track record is pretty much proven and he could probably drop it and still work on his merits. The case in question much have already been settled by now. Juliet was very displeased when she found out.
  • The original idea for QI was that there be two teams, Clever, led by Stephen Fry, and Stupid, led by Alan Davies, and the show hosted by Michael Palin. When Palin decided not to take the gig, Stephen was made host instead, and the idea of Teams was abandoned. Alan was kept as permanent panelist, though, with pretty much the same job, to make sure that obvious answers were given.
  • Both Holly and Cat became Artifact characters by the fifth series of Red Dwarf: Cat still got a decent number of lines and such but had lost a lot of his feline personality and mannerisms, while Holly's role had decreased significantly (mostly due to Kryten taking on most of the exposition) to the point where she was lucky to get one decent scene per episode. The solution taken in Series VI was to write Holly out of the show and expand Cat's role in a new way (thus he became the main pilot of Starbug and was given his superior "smelling" skills). Holly eventually came back in Series 8, at the cost of reverting much of Kryten's character growth.
  • Little John, Allan-a-Dale and Much were pretty much pointless throughout all of season three of Robin Hood, and kept on simply because they were the famous characters of legend (though they fared better than Will Scarlett, who was Put on a Bus at the end of season two and never seen again). A typical B-plot had Much, Allan and John merely walking across the countryside in the search for water during a drought, and the crisis only ending thanks to Robin's activities in the A-plot. Eventually actor Joe Armstrong (who had a huge role in season two, and was the show's Breakout Character) asked the writers to kill off Allan, simply because he was bored with playing a character that no longer did anything. The writers gave him a Red Shirt death, which speaks volumes about how unimportant he was at that stage.
  • Saturday Night Live's catchphrase "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night!", came about because when it first premiered, there was already a television program called Saturday Night Live that aired on ABC, so the show was called NBC's Saturday Night during its first season.
  • In an intentional example, Hooper's Store on Sesame Street retains its name long after its original owner has departed.
    • The Fix-It Shop came during a time where it was a lot cheaper to get a household appliance repaired by hand rather than buying a new one. The producers tried revamping it in the 2000s as the Mail-It Shop, but it failed after a few years.
    • Cookie Monster's Extreme Omnivore tendencies is mostly due to not originally being established as Cookie Monster when first appears on the show. Instead he was a nameless, voracious monster whose main trait was to devour nearly everything in sight. Even long after he's been established as "Cookie" the extreme omnivorous aspect still stands.
  • In The 700 Club's case, the fact that it still airs on Teen Drama-heavy ABC Family makes it The Artifact for the channel Pat Robertson built, sold off, but wrote a permanent timeslot and Protection from Editors into the contract.
    • This does say something for his lawyers as the clause for including the word "Family" in the title and giving 700 a time slot, along with a lengthy Telethon on the last Sunday in January is required to be reproduced in every sale of the station. Not even Disney could worm out of it.
    • The very title of The 700 Club is itself an Artifact, named after Robertson's first seven-hundred donors.
  • On Six Feet Under, the show opened every episode with an onscreen death. Early in the show, the dead character would often play a major role in the story, sometimes even having conversations with the undertakers (in their imaginations). As the show went on, many of these death scenes were related to extremely minor plot points, and the trope seemingly continued only out of habit.
  • When Oliver Queen in Smallville dressed up as Green Arrow, his costume included a computerized voice modifier that lowered his voice, helping to preserve his secret idenity. Early in Season 10, Queen revealed his dual identity at a press conference. Yet anytime he became Green Arrow after that, he still had the voice modifier on even though it's no longer necessary.
  • Though at the start of The Sopranos, Tony's sessions with Dr. Melfi were central to the plot but as time went on they became less and less central with Dr. Melfi not even appearing in some episodes. By the final season she's mostly relegated to being an audience surrogate.
    • Similarly, Uncle Junior, despite being a central character early on and the primary antagonist to Tony in season 1, became less and less essential to the point that in the final batch of episodes he only appears 2 or 3 times.
  • On So Random!, the performers still go by the character names from when it was a Show Within a Show on Sonny With A Chance.
  • In Stargate SG-1:
    • Teal'c's personal arc was basically over after the defeat of the Goa'uld in season 8, but he stayed anyway for the two Post Script Seasons — and was often left with nothing to do except, being The Big Guy, shoot at things. They actually created plots involving him and the Jaffa political situation, but those plots just made it worse by reminding viewers how nonsensical it was for Teal'c to stay with SG-1 when he was so frustrated by the incompetent Jaffa leaders.
    • Another Artifact is Teal'c's staff weapon. When Teal'c was first introduced, it made sense for him to favor and keep using a staff weapon—he had no experience with Earth weapons. Over the years, Teal'c was shown more and more at ease with using normal guns, but his default weapon when leaving on a mission remained a staff weapon despite the fact that guns are deadlier and that his strength let him go Guns Akimbo. After the loss of his symbiote and the growth of hair, the staff and the gold marking was essentially all that remained of Teal'c's early "alien" days.
    • Staff weapons themselves became harder to justify with the increasing prominence of zats, which were far smaller, less unwieldy, and more reliable. A later justification was that staff weapons were designed more for instilling fear into the primitive humans than actual combat, but that didn't explain their use by supposedly Elite Mooks out in the field.
    • The Stargate itself, especially on later seasons of SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. In early seasons, episodes revealing a malfunction or quirk of the gate were common, and the gate featured prominently in several episodes. As later seasons came and spaceships became common, with the heroes acquiring and later building their own, the gate took to the background, to the point where several episodes do not feature a Stargate in them at all. Stargate Universe's gate is pretty much a prop to remind you that, no, really, it is a Stargate series.
      • So much so that what was meant as the finale of the various arcs along with the intended grand finale (prior to the two Post Script Seasons) were deliberately written to feature the Stargate heavily in their resolutions. In the former, it is used to save the galaxy. In the later, it's the MacGuffin driving much of the time travel plot. It was decided that if the show was to end there, then the gate should take part in the plot. Then the show was renewed, and well, so much for that.
  • Star Trek, in all of its incarnations:
    • Depending on who you ask, Yeoman Rand's slow fade from Star Trek: The Original Series during the first season was an example of this. She was originally supposed to be Kirk's love interest on ship, but it was soon decided that it would be better if he didn't have one, and without anything for her to do they phased her out to the point that she only appears in the background of one scene, without any lines, in "The Conscience of the King". This decision may have been helped along by the severe drug and alcohol addiction Grace Lee Whitney had at the time, which William Shatner and others claim was the main reason Rand was dropped.
    • The design of the Enterprise-D and other Galaxy-class starships on Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was designed the way it because it was thought that its saucer separation abilities would arise frequently, but it managed to take long, and it was used only three times on the show: the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint", "The Arsenal of Freedom" (also from season 1), and "The Best of Both Worlds: Part II" from season 4, before being used for the last time in Star Trek: Generations.
    • The concept of the "captain's yacht", a personal shuttle that was intended for use as a luxury craft. It was written into Next Generation, but almost no one ever made use of it, and it only appeared in an episode where Picard and the archeologist Vash used it to travel to a dig site. Despite having no discernible purpose beyond the standard shuttlecraft, and taking up a large chunk of space on the underside of the ship, it was included in the designs of starships seen through later series, and was even infamously brought back in Star Trek: Nemesis for no other reason than because it looked cool.
    • Jake Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. After how badly Wesley Crusher was received on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Jake was conceived almost as the anti-Wesley, i.e., a perfectly normal child, and it was his friend Nog that got into Starfleet Academy whereas Jake became a writer. Unfortunately, around the time Nog left for Starfleet, tensions between the Federation and the Dominion were worsening before erupting into the Dominion War, which occurred right around the time Nog graduated from the Academy. So Nog got more to do while Jake, as a civilian, got very little to do in the later seasons. This got egregious in the final season, as Cirroc Lofton, Jake's actor, appeared in very few episodes whereas recurring characters like Weyoun and even Morn appeared in more episodes than him.
    • Harry Kim's ensign rank on Star Trek: Voyager made less and less sense as time went on. In the early seasons, he was simply a low-ranking officer who was more or less permanently stuck on the ship, and fulfilled his ensign's duties as needed. Come later seasons, he not only becomes acting captain on several occasions, but actively solves several plots in various episodes, yet never receives a promotion or commendation for his work besides a standard line of thanks from Janeway and the crew. While any such promotion would presumably be subject to review on their return to Starfleet, this doesn't stop her from making a number of field promotions for other characters, nor does it stop her from giving him an official reprimand in one episode for Boldly Coming. Supposedly, producer Rick Berman justified to Garrett Wang that Kim would always remain where he is because "well, someone's got to be the ensign".
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun. Classic, very egregious example. It was only to be expected that no matter how stupid or naive the aliens were they would eventually become conversant with Earth culture after living there for years. It was also to be expected that you can only do really ridiculous science-fiction-esque gags involving the "home planet" for so long before it gets old. Still, watch a later-season episode and see if you can find any clue at all that the main characters are extraterrestrials rather than just a family of weird, quirky people - any clue other than the increasingly incongruous sci-fi-themed opening credit sequence, of course. This is occasionally Lampshaded by having the aliens wonder if they'd become "too human".
  • The end credits of Twin Peaks continued to use the photo of Laura Palmer as a background, long after her murder was solved and a new plot arc was picked up.
  • Ashley Jensen's character Christina McKinney on Ugly Betty. In the early days, Christina was Betty's only friend at MODE with its catty fashionistas. As the show went on, said fashionistas gradually warmed up to Betty, making Christina's role rather pointless. Jensen left the series towards the end of its run.
  • In The Vampire Diaries the fact that most of the characters are high school students has turned into this, as the focus of the show moved away from teen drama (with vampires) towards supernatural power struggle. Even scenes of the characters talking in the halls have become rare, and the usual mechanic for getting the cast in one place is an all-ages town event. Once the need for it passed Stefan simply dropped out, but since the rest of them are real teenagers they don't have the option. As of season five, only Jeremy is still in high school and that is because the other characters will not allow him to drop out.
    • The title itself is somewhat of an artifact, ever since the show grew the beard and dropped the Narmy "reading of the diaries" at the beginning and end of each episode. This is lampshaded in season five when Kathrine is pretending to be Elena and starts writing in a diary since that is what Elena supposedly does. When Elena later gets to read the entries they are mostly Kathrine complaining about how pointless diaries are.
  • Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune. In 1997, the show traded out its mechanical puzzle board for a set of video monitors, thus making Vanna's job redundant (she touches the letters now instead of turning them, but the board could easily run automatically). However, she's so inextricably part of game show history in general that removing her would cause an outcry.

    Magazines 
  • Though the only unhealthy thing about fat per se is that it has nine calories per gram as opposed to four with protein and carbohydrate (though fat is actually essential for vital functions, and is more filling than carbohydrate), women's magazines and health magazines regularly list both calories and fat.
  • Nintendo Power: For a long time, the mail section listed what state a reader sent his letter from, or read "via the Internet" if they sent it through email. Eventually the letters all redundantly read "via the Internet", but this tidbit was never taken out until the Future US takeover.
  • Back in the 1950's, Mad Magazine had actual "departments" for comics and other stuff. Nowadays, "such-and-such department" might as well just be "such-and-such", given that each article just has its own, snarky intro line.

    Music 
  • Many bands who have an early hit but then change their sound usually still have to play their early hit because that's what the casual crowd wants. Thus, it often becomes an artifact.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give It Away" was a hit, and so has been played live every gig since its introduction, regardless of whether it fits with the setlist or not (it's dirty funk and their recent music has been more in an alternative rock/ballad vein)
    • "Under The Bridge" and "Otherside" were written during different bad times in Anthony Kiedis' life, but were hit singles, so they have to play them live even if they aren't representative of those time periods. The album One Hot Minute was written during bad times in the band member's lives, but oddly, the one track they still occasionally play from it is the most negative song of the whole album, Flea's solo song Pea.
    • "Right On Time" and "Throw Away Your Television" were present in almost every setlist from when they were introduced until being only occasionally played this tour. They were artifacts because they were album tracks from the albums that were being promoted at the time (Californication and By The Way).
      • The funk orientated bassist Flea and the hard rock drummer Chad Smith seem out of place in the band's alternative rock period which has mostly been written by Anthony Kiedis and John Frusciante (since replaced by Josh Klinghoffer). The band have reintroduced a lot of older tracks in their setlist since, so that might be changing.
  • In contrast, especially until Genesis had enough hits to throw away a lot of their earlier epics, progressive pieces such as Supper's Ready, "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight", "Squonk", "Dance On A Volcano" and "The Cinema Show", which were still played even as late as 1986, often clashed considerably with the new sound, style and line-up changes of the band in The Eighties, to the point where they could be seen as artifacts in the setlist.
    • A similar effect happened with the Trevor Rabin-era lineup of Yes, who had to share catchy, post-modern, commercial, MTV-approved '80s pop hits like "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" in their setlists with early progressive epics like "Heart Of The Sunrise" and "Your Move/All Good People" from The Seventies.
  • Despite several centuries of independence from Spain, the Dutch national anthem still contains a statement of loyalty to the Spanish king.
  • Russia's current national anthem has the same tune as the Soviet Union's but with different lyrics.
  • Oddly enough, the horn section that the band Chicago was originally built around became a bit of an artifact in The Eighties as the band's style shifted from progressive rock/jazz outfit to a smoother, poppier, more keyboard-centered AOR/MOR band. The horns seemed to be used very sparingly, and in the background of their hits, when used at all.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Dick Tracy had a Dork Age in the 1960s involving space travel, wherein Junior married Moon Maid and they had a daughter, Honey Moon. Moon Maid later got Killed Off for Real, but Honey is still around. It's simply never mentioned anymore that her cute little pigtails are there to hide the antennae she inherited from Mom.
    • Dick Tracy's signature two-way wrist radio, which would have been a technological marvel in its day, would now get nothing more than a shrug in the modern day era of cell phones. It still exists due to being such an integral iconic item to the character.
  • Lampshaded repeatedly in Dilbert: If Bob The Dinosaur ever shows up, it's pretty much just to point out that he no longer had a purpose, once the comic shifted to office humor. But then, this applies to just about all its non-work characters, including Phil (who only makes an appearance once in a blue moon anyway), Ratbert, and even Dogbert.
    • Dogbert still appears frequently, having made the transition to office humor quite well because he is the personification of how Scott Adams would like to act if he could get away with it. However, the fact that he is a dog and Dilbert's pet is almost entirely inconsequential.
    • In a broader sense, as the focus of the strip moved from puns, outlandish stories and character-based humor and more toward office observational comedy, removing characters was probably necessary to simplify things to the "incompetent boss/long-suffering, snarky employees" formula. Adams has been filling the void partially with one-off gag characters for some time now, however. Also, some new regular characters were created after the switch to office humor, including Asok, Carol, and Tina.
    • Bob had a place in the office during the runup to Y2K: he was a COBOL programmer brought back from retirement to upgrade older computer systems in the company from two- to four-digit year fields so that all hell wouldn't break loose when they went from "99" to "00".
  • Shermy, Patty and Violet in the comic-strip Peanuts. Schulz intended for them all to have been foils for Charlie Brown in different ways, but as other characters developed and Lucy became his primary foil they became increasingly unnecessary.
    • Shermy, who spoke the first line in the strip, was the first to suffer. His original role was to be better than Charlie Brown at everything Charlie Brown loved to do; as early as the late 1950s his appearances become rare and he has only one line in A Charlie Brown Christmas (which was kind of Lampshade Hanging; he laments that in every Christmas play, he's always cast as a boring shepherd). He last appeared in 1969 and was last mentioned in 1977. Schulz didn't mind getting rid of him as he said he was basically down to using Shermy when he needed a character with almost no personality. And he didn't like Shermy's haircut, either.
    • Patty (not to be confused with Peppermint Patty), originally the mother hen and Alpha Bitch, diminished as Lucy took over most of her role. She last appeared in a speaking part in 1976, with occasional cameos thereafter. When You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown was revived on Broadway in late 1990s, her role was rewritten to be Sally instead, as most modern audiences would not have been familiar with the character.
    • Violet held out the longest, until 1984. By that time not only had Lucy become the strip's dominant female character, Peppermint Patty and Marcie had also arrived and established themselves.
  • As a genre, newspaper comics themselves are almost an Artifact. In previous decades, popular strips like Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, Cathy, For Better or for Worse, The Far Side and The Family Circus appeared in thousands of newspapers and reached millions of readers, with newspapers publishing full-color pullouts for Sunday comics. Now, however, almost all of the popular strips have ended, newspapers are increasingly cash-strapped and looking for ways to cut costs, and Webcomics have become a popular alternative. Newspapers have drastically cut back on the number of comic strips they run, and many have dropped the Sunday comics altogether, to the point where they seem to run comics more out of tradition than anything else. This was Lampshaded by Bill Watterson as early as 1995, when he wrote about how the lack of newspaper competition meant that the surviving newspapers would only purchase the most popular strips. As a result, the big strips would get huge, while the smaller newspapers, in Watterson's words, "play musical chairs and vanish."
  • The famous morse code message in Spy vs. Spy's title panel, which spells out "BY PROHIAS", was iconic enough that it was kept after the strip's original creator, Antonio Prohias, retired in 1987 and passed it on to Duck Edwing. As of this writing, the current strip (drawn by Peter Kuper) still has it.
  • Foxtrot usually is very good at keeping it's pop culture references current; althought one that stands out is the family's iFruit computer, based on the early 2000's iteration of the iMac. The family kept this version long after that style had become archaic by home computing standards.
  • Blondie has been good fairly good in modern times about updating the characters, home appliances and situations; however, Dagwood's iconic bathtub remains a 1930/40s style standalone non-drain basin (sans shower head), which would look odd in any modern house.
    • The family's hairstyles are all ridiculously out of fashion, staying the same since they were created.
  • Beetle Bailey has often updated with the times, starting in the 70s by slowly adding diversity to the cast that was previously all white and male, adding a tech character in recent years, and even called out General Halftrack's lecherous ways following the Tailhook Scandal and Clarence Thomas hearings. However, the uniforms are woefully out of date (still sporting solid olive drab that went away in the early 70s in favor of camo patterns) as well as old-style open Jeeps, 50s era rifles, and tanks more resembling those from the 50s than modern ones.
  • The dad in Curtis still hates rap and hip-hop music and pines for old R&B and soul; in the modern times he would have grown up with N.W.A. and Snoop Dogg.
  • Similarly, the parents in Zits are still portrayed as Baby Boomers. It's becoming increasingly unlikely people of their age would have biological teenage sons, if not impossible.
    • Jeremy still rocks grunge-era clothes from his introduction in the 90s.
  • An attempted aversion exists in Family Circus. Jeff Keane took over after his father's death, and seems to recycle a lot of the older strips from the 80s, removing outdated stuff via (apparently) photoshop. However, it leads to some oddness, such as the kids watching a modern flat screen TV sitting on the floor or Ma Keane having odd blank spots around her head (where her 50s era hair curls are whited out).

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The title Professional Wrestling is itself an artifact of the turn of the 20th century. Looking to distinguish itself from traditional Greco-Roman and Freestyle Wrestling, promoters coined the term. While in its earlier days it bore a closer relation to what would become known as "amatuer" wrestling, it no longer has any connection to "real" wrestling (other than some grappling manuevers being based on real holds), yet it maintains the moniker of "professional" and true wrestling is still labled as "amatuer" (which is itself in turn an artifact).
    • Vince McMahon has made many attempts to get away from the name (though for different reasons, mostly due to the public Unfortunate Implications of the name) and rebrand it as "Sports Entertainment," going as far as banning the terms wrestling, wrestler, etc from WWE. It completely, unequivacely has not worked, and is still professional wrestling (or rasslin' if your feeling cheeky) to both wrestling fans and the general public/media.
  • The Undertaker was born during the tail end of the WWF's Rock n Wrestling Era, when Made of Iron Invincible Heroes were at the peak of popularity, and the beginning of the New Generation, where cartoony gimmicks and second jobs were the order of the day. Accordingly, he was a wrestling grave digger-slash-zombie-slash-dark Super Hero-slash-Anthropomorphic Personification of death, and it worked pretty well, as Taker quickly became one of the most popular wrestlers on the card. With the coming of the Attitude Era, and the change in tone to a Darker and Edgier, grittier and more realistic presentation, Taker no longer quite fit in. They tried numerous tweaks to make him fit better (giving him a family history, making him over into a cult leader, etc), but eventually, they just said, "Screw it," and completely scrapped the old gimmick, re-inventing him as a biker thug. After a few years, by popular demand, Taker returned to his old "Deadman" character; it seems that WWE has simply accepted that Undertaker's portion of the show is just the little corner of their universe where reality no longer applies.
    • One weird contradiction is the fact that the Undertaker has accepted the rise of MMA with more grace than almost any other wrestler and has incorporated a large number of the moves into his arsenal, and wears MMA-style gloves to the ring. So you have the most anachronistic character following up his "old-school" ropewalk with a very realistic looking triangle choke.
      • And the Hells Gate, as ludicrous as it looks is an actual submission hold
      • The Undertaker is often excused by the Grandfather Clause, when a character can get away with it simply because he's been doing it for so long. No one else could possibly come into WWE and play up his angle straight-faced, but because The Undertaker has been doing it since the Bush Sr. era, he can slide. Since he's still popular and well-received, the writers treated him like The Artifact, but the fans were willing to grandfather him in.
      • Occasionally, the writers will have a fit of brilliance: a wrestler or even the commentators will talk about the raw psychology of the Undertaker's entire persona from a Kayfabe perspective. Think about it: you're in the ring, pumping yourself up. Funeral bells toll, the lights go out, and this 6'10 zombie/grimreaper starts a slow walk down the aisle being accompanied by so much smoke that it looks like he's floating. It's all mind games. The Undertaker is simply a smart competitor who knows how to tap into our primal fear of death. At one point, The Undertaker was having a feud with Big Show, and this theory was touched upon. They were booked to have a casket match at the next pay per view, because Undertaker found out Big Show had a fear of being trapped inside a casket. In one of the promos leading up to that match, the Big Show came to the ring and went on about how The Undertaker's whole dark persona was just a mind game that wouldn't work on him. While he was talking, Undertaker came out dragging a casket behind him. Big Show kept talking, but appeared freaked out by the sight, proving that Undertaker's mind games work on him.
  • Triple H's original gimmick was "Hunter Hearst-Helmsley", a snobby blue-blood, hence his finisher being called the 'Pedigree'. Despite mostly dropping the character in 1997, the move still retains its name. Still, wrestlers who want to get his attention address him as "Hunter", he once offered kayfabe financial support to a bankrupt Shawn Michaels and he referenced a match from his blueblood days where he got squashed by The Ultimate Warrior in the buildup to his Wrestlemania 26 bout. His last name of "Helmsley" is often mentioned a lot as well, especially during his time as the leader of the "McMahon-Helmsley Era" for obvious reasons.
  • Despite his theme song, Shawn Michaels hasn't had a "sexy boy" gimmick for a long time.
  • The "Bradshaw" in John Bradshaw Layfield comes from his early days in the WWF as Justin Hawk Bradshaw and later when he was just Bradshaw in the Acolytes. Likewise his finishing move the Clothesline From Hell, comes from his day in the satanic themed Ministry Of Darkness. The move has been renamed to "...from Texas" or "...from Wall Street" occasionally but reverts back to the original name shortly thereafter.
  • Professional Wrestling itself is an Artifact. In spite of every smartass douche who will yell out "FAKE!", wrestling fans are well aware that the show is staged and are still willing to suspend their disbelief, just as anyone would while watching a movie or TV show.
  • When Steve Austin was in WCW, he wrestled as a pretty boy named "'Stunning' Steve Austin", and used a finisher alternately called the "Stun Gun" or the "Stunner". When he entered the then-WWF, he abandoned both the nickname and the move. A few months later, he adopted his more famous "Stone Cold" persona, and started using a different finisher called the "Stone Cold Stunner". Could be just a coincidence, but it's also possible it was named by somebody who was used to calling Austin's finishing move a "Stunner", which would make it an indirect reference to his old gimmick.
  • Kane has been this for several years already. Although he's fairly popular with the fans and a solid, reliable big man worker for the company to use, he rarely gets any angles, and the few he does always seem to stick out as somewhat out of place. Not only that, as he usually never ends up in a main event title feud anymore, Kane is sort of just...there. The problem is that he's stuck in a place between solid mid-carder (like William Regal) and main event wrestler, and due to his popularity, the writers just don't know what to do with him at times.
    • And then he goes and wins the World Heavyweight title off of Rey Mysterio Jr.
    • Speaking of Kane, one of the few things that sticks to his legacy and that of professional wrestling as a whole... is Katie Vick. It's been over a decade and people still bring it up from time to time, and will probably continue to do so for a looooong time.
  • Artifacts are fairly common within the actual wrestling itself, as well. For example, in Japan in the past, matches often started with an extended feeling-out period of ringwork, gradually proceeding to the main body of the match with lots of high spots, "fighting spirit" spots, and near-falls. To this day, wrestlers with experience in Japan will often do a token wrestling sequence to start the match off, which is really out of place when the rest of the match is a wild brawl.
    • Actually, that's may be a deliberate attempt to build up to those points in a match, starting out slow to add to the drama and to keep the match well paced. In that context, it seems about as out of place as the less exciting parts of any beginning of any movie.
  • Teddy Long still uses Rodney Mack's entrance song, which starts with the line "You know it's the Mack militant", despite not having managed Mack since the summer of 2003.
  • The Charlie Brown from Outta Town trope. During the US territorial days, masks were very common up and down the card (do you want your neighbors to know you're losing to the promoter's kid this week?). Nowadays, with merchandising concerns and possible movie deals, no one wants to hide their face anymore, so any "masked" wrestler really stands out much more. Of course, Masks are still the biggest deal in Lucha Libre wrestling, and transplants like Rey Mistirio Jr. would lose much of their identity without them (as proved by his unmasking in WCW. Many who otherwise consider de-masking Serious Business are willing to go along with "Rey Mysterio" being a separate masked entity from "Rey Misterio Jr." simply because of how poorly the whole thing was handled.)
    • Rey Mysterio himself is an artifact of WWE's once prominent light heavyweight/cruiserweight division. The cruiserweight division entertained fans for years, but someone or multiple someones in WWE management simply doesn't like smaller wrestlers, and so the division was gradually phased out. Mysterio, however, was so popular that he managed to overcome the anti-cruiserweight sentiments and remain a tremendous draw. Rey later became heavyweight champion, not because of his weight but because of his popularity.
  • Before his run in Ring of Honor, Colt Cabana worked in the defunct Wrestling Society X with the hilarious gimmick of Matt Classic, a faux artifact so to speak, who was supposedly a wrestler who woke up from a decades long coma and used the same techniques that made him champion in the early days of pro wrestling. His move list included the airplane spin, a slam from the first rope, and the abdominal stretch. He has also used the gimmick in CHIKARA.
  • But perhaps the greatest example going today is John Cena. He continues to use his famous rap anthem "My Time Is Now" (off of his 2005 album You Can't See Me) as his entrance theme and to wear baggy shorts, even though he hasn't otherwise played up the rap stereotype since about 2006.
    • The "You can't see me" gesture prior to the Five-Knuckle Shuffle is also a remnant of his old freestyle gimmick.
    • Cena's spinner WWE Championship belt could also count as an artifact. It was originally part of his rap gimmick in 2005. By the end of 2007, the center plate no longer spun. By 2008, John Cena was not even on the same show where that particular belt was typically defended, and he even challenged for (and won) the World Heavyweight Championship. From 2009 to the present, Cena has challenged for the belt, but it still no longer spins. The belt's center plate has in 2011 spun only for The Miz to spin the "W" symbol upside down into an "M". The belt hadn't served its original purpose for a long time, but was kept around mainly due to its merchandising success, before finally being replaced in early 2013.
  • Edge's "You think you know me?" motif was from his original loner gimmick way back in 1998, yet has been inserted into all of his entrance themes, even after becoming a 15-time tag team champion and being a part of several stables, teams, and alliances.
  • Cheerleader Melissa hasn't been a cheerleader since maybe 2004. While she was still training to be a full fledged wrestler, she debuted as a cheerleader-valet for a tag team with a hockey gimmick called the Ballard Brothers. After a stint in Japan she stopped valeting. She's tried renaming herself "The Future Legend" Melissa, and just plain Melissa, but it never seems to stick. She has managed to find some success using the name Alyssa Flash which was what she had in TNA. She uses Alyssa Flash in River City Wrestling but sticks as Cheerleader Melissa in promotions such as SHIMMER for originality's sake. She originally brought pompoms down to the ring with her in her early SHIMMER days but no longer does it.
  • Matt Hardy's signature hand gesture has all but the ring finger and thumb extended, spelling V 1, a reference to a gimmick he used in 2003-2005 where he was Matt Hardy, Version 1. Though he no longer uses the Version 1 name or the accompanying Windows Media Player-like entrance, Hardy and the fans will still use the hand signal.
  • Layla El when she was in LayCool with Michelle McCool had the Catch Phrase "Famous and Flawless" and wore ring jackets and t-shirts with those words on them. Even though Lay Cool split in 2011, she still wears the word "Flawless" on her ring gear.
    • Inverted in another case. She started to wear infinity symbols on her ring gear for no apparent reason. It wasn't until 2013 that it was revealed she called one of her moves The Infinity.
  • Eve Torres continued to get "Hoeski" chanted at her despite her storyline with Zack Ryder ending at WrestleMania 28.
  • Similar to the Shawn Michaels example above, entrance music might stick around despite no longer fitting with the wrestler's character. Simply because it's so associated with them.
    • Trish Stratus kept her Lil' Kim "Time To Rock and Roll" theme after her Face-Heel Turn. The lyrics talked about her underdog rise to the top as a model-turned-wrestler but didn't quite fit with her heel character.
    • Randy Orton hasn't heard voices in a good few years yet his Rev Theory theme song informs us he does each time he makes his entrance.
    • Velvet Sky continues to use The Beautiful People theme song despite undergoing a Heel-Face Turn and having moved on from that period completely.
    • Chris Jericho's countdown and explosion in his entrance theme was a reference to the Y2K countdown (hence the nickname "Y 2 J") but obviously younger fans don't get the reference.
    • Natalya continues to use the Hart Dynasty's theme music despite the stable splitting in 2010. Averted with Tyson Kidd who received a new theme.
  • AJ Lee's "Let's Light It Up" theme fit her perfectly when she was a Hollywood Nerd Genki Girl. When she switched to Manipulative Bitch and Yandere it stayed but came across as Soundtrack Dissonance.
  • Brodus Clay's theme song originally belonged to Ernest "The Cat" Miller, who had a very short stint in WWE in the early 2000s. The theme song still has Miller's old WCW Catch Phrase, "Somebody call my mamma" in it.
  • Wrestling schools around the world that were founded or co-founded by famous wrestlers keep advertising the fact long after said wrestler leaves. Most famously, the Hart Brothers wrestling school was run by former Stampede Referee Ed Langley rather than the Harts, much to the initial disappointment of Chris Jericho and Lance Storm (the latter being an aversion in his own school). A modern example is New York Wrestling Connection, advertised as overseen by Mikey Whipwreck, but in fact managed by former independent wrestler John Curse.
  • The Underwear of Power that is still standard attire for the majority of male wrestlers. A remnant of pro wrestling's origin back during the day of circus strongmen, there was a time when it wasn't uncommon for men to wear swim trunks like that. However, fashion and culture have changed so much that it looks odd. It seems to survive purely as a rolling throwback to the previous generation. Whenever asked why they still wear them (since, issues of modesty aside, there have been cases of things moving or falling out during a match,) wrestlers such as Randy Orton and Wade Barrett say they wear them because their idols "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock wore them, and likely someone in the next generation will wear them because of the likes of Orton and Barrett.
  • Announcing that a match is "one fall" is an artifact to the days when there were many matches that were best of three and they made sure to let the audience know which kind of match it was (so they could pop accordingly). Nowadays, two out of three falls is more the exception than the rule, yet it is still announced this way out of tradition.
  • Eddy Guerrero used the "Latino Heat" entrance music for the rest of his career, long after he stopped playing that gimmick. It had just become very iconic to his character. Many, many wrestlers have theme music that no longer reflects their current persona (as seen on this list), but keep it because it's instantly recognizable to the audience (and they can pop accordingly). While some do change up their theme to avoid staleness, most are hesitant since it takes a long time to get new entrance music over.

    Sports 
  • The Los Angeles Lakers, an American basketball team, originally played in Minnesota, which actually has, you know, lakes. The name makes absolutely no sense in Los Angeles, but has been around so long that it's not changing.
  • The Utah Jazz, also an NBA team. This team originated in New Orleans, the home of jazz music. Utah? Not so much.
    • Ironically, after the Jazz left the Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans, keeping the Hornets name (earned from Charlotte's nickname, "Hornet's Nest"). The name isn't completely out of place like some of the others, but it's still humorous that New Orleans is on the giving and receiving end of this trope.
      • To turn it around straight again, their team colors are still UNC baby blue and white.
      • The New Orleans franchise is now changing its name to the Pelicans (after the Louisiana state flag), starting with the 2013-14 season. Charlotte's following team, the Bobcats, then announced they will rename themselves Hornets the following season.
  • In the English football (soccer) league, London-based Wimbledon FC, nicknamed 'The Dons' were in financial crisis, which their owners decided to 'solve' by moving them to Milton Keynes, a town over 70 miles away, 2004. Unlike in the US where teams moving is common, this is completely unheard of in English football and it was denounced by virtually everyone. The fans of the original team set up their own club, AFC Wimbledon, while the now-Milton-Keynes-based team was told they couldn't call themselves 'Wimbledon' any more, so they changed to 'Milton Keynes Dons', with the last word representing the original nickname. After years of negotiation, it's now been accepted by both sides that AFC Wimbledon are the legitimate successor team to Wimbledon FC, whereas MK Dons are just a team that started in 2004. However, the suffix 'Dons' still remains.
  • In an example of one of these ultimately being changed, in the NFL, when the Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee they kept the Oilers name for a bit, but finally changed to Titans, a name that doesn't scream Tennessee, but at least isn't a nonsensical reference to another region like the Oilers. Also, they had to keep the Oilers name while in Tennessee for a year or two to keep ownership of the name.
  • American football has a scoring play known as the drop kick, in which a player can, during play, bounce the ball off the ground and then kick it between the goalposts for a field goal or an extra point. Drop kicks have been obsolete for decades due to changes in play style and the football being made more pointed in shape to accommodate the passing game, but were never actually removed from the rule book. Cue a Miami Dolphins/New England Patriots game and consternation when Patriots backup quarterback Doug Flutie scored the first drop kick in over 60 years (it was a thank-you to coach Bill Belichick). Most NFL fans were unaware that the drop kick even existed.
    • Likewise, the free kick. A ridiculously rare and obscure play that's only been used a handful of times in the past several decades. It takes place when a team receives a punt or kickoff and signals for a fair catch or otherwise does not return it. From the spot of the ball, rather than run a regular offensive series, the possessing team can attempt a free kick, so called because the opposing team cannot attempt to block it. The kicker and the ball spotter are the only two players involved in the play, with the kicker being allowed to take his sweet time in lining up his kick. In effect, the free kick plays like a normal kickoff, only with a spotter holding the ball rather then it being kicked from a tee. The kicker is aiming the ball for the uprights and if successful, his team receives three points like a field goal. Naturally, because even horrible punts and kickoffs are likely to push the ball well into the receiving team's territory, the circumstances where a free kick would be viable are rare in the extreme. A vast majority of recorded attempts took place in the final seconds of the half; since the opposing team can field the kick if it misses (and they almost always do), this leaves them no opportunity to run their own plays before time expires. Thus, the free kick serves mostly as a fun and arcane way to run out the clock with a somewhat safer result than throwing up a Hail Mary and risking an interception return they aren't prepared to guard against.
  • Ice Hockey, being somewhat of a lesser-tier professional sport in most places, tends to maintain a lot of Artifacts that people either hold up as proof that hockey is the best game ever, or people hold up as proof that the sport is backward compared to other, more popular sports:
    • The NHL instituted one point for an overtime loss starting in the 1999-2000 season, with the intention being that teams would play for a win in overtime for the extra point, instead of previous seasons where teams played defensively to keep the point they'd get in the event of a tie. After the 2004-2005 lockout, regular season games ended in a shootout if overtime kept the game tied, abolishing tie games, making the overtime loss point useless and recreating the same problem that the overtime loss point tried to fix: now teams that are tied at the end of the third period will play defensively in order to force a shootout, which they perceive to be easier to win.
  • The Ultimate Fighting Championship name is an artifact relating to it's origin as a tournament (the winner of each PPV would become the ultimate fighting champion) and before the term Mixed Martial Arts was coined. Now with no tournaments, multiple titles and many cards with no championships at stake, the term is mostly meaningless. When Zuffa bought out UFC from Semaphore Entertainment Group, they essentially only wanted the initials because they had brand value.
    • Ironically, beign the largest MMA group in the world has led many people not as up on the sport to simply refer to it as ultimate fighting.

    Theme Parks 
  • The Disney World version of Fantasmic! has an elaborate sequence based on Pocahontas, which seems rather dated, seeing as the film was not a big hit. The Disneyland version, which uses Peter Pan, has aged much better.
  • A lot of things in Disney Theme Parks exist because they were based on tropes that were popular in 1955, when Disneyland was built. Over time, they have become "the way Disneyland is", and therefore new international parks get the same lands and attractions.
    • Main Street, USA was built on the Lost and Greatest Generations' (and, especially, Walt Disney's personal) nostalgia for the 1890s/1900s.
    • Adventureland and exotica/Tiki culture, as well as nature documentaries (including Disney's own True-Life Adventures series).
    • Frontierland and westerns.
    • Fantasyland and Disney's animated films.
    • Tomorrowland and the atomic/space age.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park was originally intended to include a section called Beastly Kingdom (where Camp Minnie Mickey is today), which would have been themed around fantasy creatures. The idea was scrapped early on due to multiple factors, but a dragon still appears in the park's logo.
  • EPCOT was originally a planned futuristic city designed by Walt Disney himself. It stood for "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow." The city was never built but the EPCOT park was built in tribute to Walt's dream and had a heavily futuristic theme. As time passed, EPCOT's futurism turned into Zeerust and park was heavily re themed. EPCOT today is themed after current science and technology, the environment, and world culture. The EPCOT name and its staple attractions like Spaceship Earth still remain.
  • Six Flags is the name of a string of theme parks from California to Massachusetts. The six flags are the "six flags of Texas," which have flown over it at various times in its history; the original park is near Dallas. The flags are the Spanish, French, Mexican, Texan (from its time as an independent nation), American, and Confederate. Now that the franchise is in other states, the six flags are simply shown in silhouette, as a brand logo.
  • Originally, each of the tracks at Dueling Dragons, a dual roller coaster at Islands of Adventure, was designed to mirror the other so that there would be several near-miss encounters between the two coasters; the ride was even programmed to make certain calculations to ensure optimal timing. However, after a few recent accidents (possibly involving objects flying from people's pockets and hitting others), Universal made the decision to permanently end the practice of launching the coasters simultaneously, thus getting rid of the near-miss encounters that used to be the ride's main selling point, and thus rendering the design aspect of it completely without purpose (Also, the ride changed its name to Dragon Challenge after it was co-opted into Harry Potter, thus averting an Artifact Title).

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the switch from third edition to fourth edition Dungeons & Dragons, ability scores ceased to matter much beyond the ability bonus. Yet we still have the old ability scores from 3-18 where the limits can be broken and the players never have one below 8. In some ways, this is an artifact because if it were ever removed, it would only increase the litany of cries that "4E is World of Warcraft" from 3rd edition grognards.
    • It's been The Artifact since the switch to Third. In Second, an ability check was made by rolling a D20 and trying to roll less than your ability score. In addition, there were mechanical differences which made all ability scores different rather than having breaks at every even number. In Third, the ability scores could have been replaced almost entirely with ability modifiers, transforming a stat line into something like: Str +2, Dx +1, etc. (True20 and Mutants & Masterminds 3rd edition, based on d20 Open Content, did just that.) Almost no mechanics would be changed, and most of those would be simplified, and modifying creatures or changing sizes would be a cinch. This sort of statline is quite common in other games.
    • Alignment flirts with this. Many players have felt it was irrelevant for years before, especially during the days of Advanced D&D. At the time, other games were coming out which ignored alignment altogether or grossly redesigned it, and they weren't suffering for a lack of moral categories to put characters into. Alignment also was easily abused by some players, with some game masters putting paladins or other "must be good" characters into situations where one aspect of their vows must be broken and then punishing them. ("You helped the slaves escape; that's not lawful, so it's a chaotic violation of your paladinhood and...why are you leaving?") Players, too, would abuse the heck out of it, often by being blatant jerkasses to everyone at the table and saying it was just playing their alignment. Then Third went and added in a lot of mechanics which depended on alignment, many of them doing little more than giving min-maxers an excuse to write "true neutral" down and then do whatever they were going to do anyway.
      • The Smite Alignment mechanics got really bad about this with many of the people you could or could not Smite not making any sense at all. For example, a Holy Liberator should rarely, if ever, fight a Paladin, but a Holy Liberator can smite them. However, if a malevolent despot, the type of person a Holy Liberator is made to fight, happens to be Neutral Evil or Chaotic Evil (both of which are entirely possible), their Smite no longer works. The simplification of the system led to characters not equipped to fight things they were supposed to be specialized against if they worked based on alignment. Good/Evil targeting abilities tended to be more consistent then Lawful/Chaotic/Neutral targeting ones though.
    • A lot of player races that were converted from old editions suffer from this. Thri-Kreen make a good example. Originally from the much-loved Dark Sun campaign setting of second edition, third edition's Psionics Handbook tried to convert them to the then-current ruleset. The end result had a level adjustment of +2 (meaning Thri-Kreen characters are 2 levels lower than other characters, at all times) and 2 racial hit dice (their first 2 levels have no class features), Psionic power points (with a penalty to the stats Psionic casting uses, and a Thri-Kreen's 4 dead levels make them useless as a Psionic caster), and five natural attacks (which, due to the aforementioned 4 dead levels and the penalty required to attack with all of them, means it will just flail ineffectually with all four limbs and bite). The end result was a race that pulled in too many different directions to be good at any one thing (in comparison to other races that occasionally stray in to Crippling Overspecialization territory), and was largely ignored.
    • Pathfinder, an updated version of the 3.5 rules, attempts to subvert this with their "Misfit Monsters Redeemed" companion book. It tries to take the silliest monsters of past editions like Flumphs (friendly floating jellyfish folk), Flail Snails (giant snails with flails at the end of their antenna), or Adherers (sticky mummies) and revamp them to be taken more seriously. For example, the Wolf In Sheep's Clothing (a carnivorous tree stump with a ludicrous rabbit shaped lure) can now take any dead body and puppeteer it to draw victims closer. YMMV on whether or not this succeeds.
  • Exalted was originally written as a pre-history for the Old World of Darkness; strong hints of this remained all throughout 1st edition, until that train of thought was pretty much abandoned for 2nd edition. This is why the 1st edition Lunars took more than a few elements from the Garou (much to the displeasure of fans), Sidereals occasionally had to deal with Paradox, and the Underworld was ruled by Deathlords and the Neverborn, who were paradoxically called "Malfeans" as well when Malfeas was a Yozi instead.
    • Then again, 2nd Ed keeps throwing in artifacts, or quite possibly the odd Shout-Out - the new Infernal Exalted take their Caste names from the Houses of the Fallen.
  • In the Forgotten Realms setting, the drow city of Menzoberranzan uses a giant rock called Narbondel to measure time by heating it and letting it cool; this was added to the story when the drow saw via infravision, allowing them to see heat signatures. However, infravision was removed from the game years ago, and replaced with darkvision, that allowed people to see in perfect darkness, only in greyscale. Narbondel remains and continues to function as a clock tower, even though it's not exactly clear how the drow see it heat and cool.
  • The back of Magic: The Gathering cards. The "Deckmaster" on the back of the cards was originally used to denote that Magic was the first of a series of games with that title (two others carried the "Deckmaster" theme: Vampire The Eternal Struggle and Netrunner); it no longer has any real relevance, but is kept to prevent people from being able to easily tell information about the card from just the back. Likewise, the word "Magic" remains blue on the card back despite it having been changed to yellow everywhere else.
    • Also, the blue slash over the TER in DECKMASTER is a simple pen mark that no one noticed on the master until it was too late. Technically, the millions of MtG cards printed over nearly 20 years are all misprints.
    • Protection and regeneration. The rules for both mechanics are far messier than anything than would be approved today and there are small nuances that can trip up even experienced players (such as a creature leaving combat when it regenerates). However, both have a very strong flavor behind them as well as two decades of history keeping them in the game.
    • The upkeep step. There are still plenty of cards that use it, as it's useful to have a time for things to trigger at the beginning of the turn, but it's long since lost its original purpose note , leaving it with a name that doesn't make any sense.
  • Spell cards in the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game made a lot more sense back when it was focused mostly on fantasy elements with a pinch of science fiction instead of the other way around.
    • Likewise the term "Tribute" would seem extremely out of place nowadays.
  • Indirect fire weaponry such as mortars in Warhammer 40K still have their ranges noted as "G" for "guess", as the game mechanic originally called for the player to make a guess without measuring beforehand and place the effect marker at that distance, even if the rules have done away with the guessing two editions ago now, and you just place it where you want to hit and roll the dice...
  • The "classic" tabletop game Clue/Cluedo (depending on where you live) is a game about logic and deduction, with very little reason for having a die-roll to move around the board - in fact, different editions of the game change the numbers of squares between various rooms for no apparent reason. The game plays more smoothly and less frustratingly when you allow players to automatically move to a neighbouring room, but it has a die-roll to move because it was a standard element of board games at the time.

    Toys 
  • Transformers, since the days of Beast Wars, has utilized the "size class" system by which toys are designed to fit into certain price points depending on size. One of the oddities of the size class, however, is the term "Deluxe" - it refers to the six-inch scale, and it's by far the most common one, with the majority of figures in nearly any modern line being Deluxes. This might seem a little odd, since "deluxe" usually means something particularly good, rather than the baseline, as Deluxe figures seem to be. This is because in the Beast Wars days, the Deluxe size was the second smallest size, beat out by the 4-inch Basic size, which was intended as the baseline. However, the Deluxe class turned out to be the more popular size, and the Basic class, by 2006, was phased out in favor of the pocket-size Legends or gimmick designs like Real Gear Robots or Activators, leaving Deluxe to be the "standard" size. When the four-inch scale returned in 2009, it was in the form of the fairly uncommon Scouts, even in name reinforcing the Deluxe's dominance.

    Video Games 
  • A common occurence in many a MMORPG, as new content, released via patches or expansion packs, frequently leaves older content of less importance. Some examples include:
    • World of Warcraft's pre-expansion content had hints of this. Quest design was much more varied and interesting in Northrend, Outlands, or even the Bloodelf and Draenei starting areas. Blizzard attempted to fix this with the Cataclysm expansion pack, which changed the pre-expansion content (even for players who didn't purchase the expansion pack) to clear up any remaining artifacts and grant the older continents some of the smoother gameplay aspects developed in the expansion worlds.
      • Cataclysm changes to Azeroth is a mixed bag between new content you'd see in the Cataclysm era and the Artifact content seen from original World of Warcraft, because of zones that barely had any changes or were just completely ignored. This is extremely apparent in areas such as Silithus and Arathi Highlands which were left virtually untouched and left out of Cataclysm's current Azeroth timeframe, or taking part in the odd mix of Cataclysm and vanilla content seen in the Horde's Northern Barrens where you start off in the Catalysm timeline to escort Kodo supply caravans to the Crossroads, but then sends you back to the vanilla quest-line to clear out the Kolkar centaurs and leaders amongst the three Barren oasis'. The fact that you're killing the same centaur leaders and ending with the same centaur Counterattack! on the bunkers west of the Crossroads makes the switch between the timelines even more confusing.
      • Azeroth's starting Draenei/Blood Elf zones added in The Burning Crusade also recieved no changes, because of Blizzard choosing to leave The Burning Crusade (and even WOTLK) content independent from Cataclysm. The outdated feeling when you're leveling in these starting areas compared to Cataclysm's updated Durotar and Elwynn Forest starter zones is painfully obvious.
      • Not surprisingly, The Burning Crusade races also suffered a fair bit of this from a narrative perspective after their introductory expansion. The draenei got the worst of it, what with their entire story arc being tied directly to their old homeland of Draenor and the Burning Legion and both of those plot threads falling Out of Focus for entire expansions. Until the reveal of Warlords of Draenor, it was clear the writers had no idea what to do with them in the interim. The Blood Elves didn't get it as bad and had a few factions and quest chains included for them, but a lot of debate centered around why they continued to ally with the Horde post-Outland. It took until Mists of Pandaria to give them a solid reason to continue working with the Horde.
      • Cataclysm itself has caused an entire expansion pack to practically define the term The Artifact. When originally released, Burning Crusades content and mechanics were seen as an improvement upon Vanilla's. With Cataclysm modifying 'Old World' content to modern specificationsnote , Burning Crusade's content is now the chronologically oldest content in the game, and it shows. Burning Crusade's content is filled with Fetch Quests, group quests, and Plot Coupons that few players will bother using because there's better, easier-to-get stuff in later expansion content.
      • Even its art over the course of new expansion releases began to show Artifact material. By Wrath of the Lich King, The art had been improving to the point where you can acually see the improvment in the world environments. World of Warcraft's two jungle like envionments, vanilla's Un'goro Crater and WOTLK's Sholozar Basin are a fine example of this. Today, Un'goro still, even after its make-shift Cataclysm makeover, looks like it was made from flat cardboard cutouts. Sholozar on the other hand, is seen to be more thickly detailed and natural looking. Un'goro ends up looking completely outdated in comparison. And it's not just the zones either. Cataclysm's Goblin/Worgen factions are, flatout, greatly more detailed then the playable vanilla/BC races. The older races, in return, are made the The Artifact due to their plain outdated look.
    • Pre-issue 6 content in City of Heroes is in many ways quite lacking in comparison to what came afterwards. While the newer content that has been added since (including all of City of Villains) shows many of the lessons that the development team learned, especially in terms of writing and avoidance of Fake Longevity, they have done little to go back and fix the old content. As of 2010 only one zone, Faultline, has been revamped and brought up to the post-issue 6 standard back in issue 9. The main issues that the old content has are:
      • Sloppy, contrived writing.
      • Old contacts that require you to run to a mission, often several zones away, and back to them to get the next mission as much as ten times before giving you their cell phone number. Contacts added since issue 6 give their cell number by the 2nd mission at the latest.
      • Old contacts sending the player all over the city while newer contacts focus their missions inside the zone that they operate from.
      • Old story arcs being much, much longer than they need to be with redundant missions and overkill objectives (you only need to question the gang leader but still are required to defeat every gangmember, even if you stealthed past them all).
      • Old contacts sharing identical missions and story arcs rather than having unique content. That guy in Independence Port is likely to give you the exact same missions as that girl over in Talos Island, and chances are many of the missions will end up being over in Talos Island anyway.
    • This is very prominent in Everquest. As the expansion packs mount up, old world content is increasingly useless - it's now possible to get armor dropped from random monsters better than the stuff you had to go through extensive questing to get back in the old days. Many zones, especially dungeons, lie abandoned for various reasons. Sometimes Sony reworks a dungeon to increase the level (this was notably done to Splitpaw and Cazic-Thule). However, since Everquest isn't designed well for solo play, people all hunt in the same few zones since all the other players are there, rendering most of the game an artifact.
      • Everquest 2 doesn't have it quite as bad. For one thing, there are fewer outdoor zones, and thus nothing to be "reliced". Also, Sony frequently "de-heroics" zones - a "heroic" zone being geared for groups, while a non-heroic zone can be handled by a solo player. Still, some formerly high end dungeons like Solusek's Eye now have little point to them. Also, leveling is so easy now that the low end dungeons just aren't necessary anymore, as a player could gain five levels in less time than it would take him to find a group.
    • Runescape has been fixing this one: they eventually removed an ancient quest based on Romeo and Juliet and replaced it with a quest that, while not entirely original, at least is more than Romeo & Juliet via Fetch Quest.
    • Final Fantasy XI has managed to avert this for the most part. The original series of missions, despite technically being the easiest, is still the most important lore wise. Many of the missions intended to be difficult are level capped low enough that you cannot out level them. Some of them can be soloed by some classes, but it isn't substantially easier for a high level player to do so then a character actually at the level cap.
  • Fighting games do use this trope every now and then. The King of Fighters is one of the bigger offenders in this in which as for any character that's from series' such as Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting that weren't Demoted to Extra got this. Terry Bogard, despite his iconic reputation in SNK, has been accused of being "just there" lately over the years just to appease older fans. (In which some think that's the real reason why the Ship Tease with him and Blue Mary isn't done so much anymore.) There is also Mai Shiranui whom nowadays they just use her eternally unrequited love for Andy Bogard as an excuse for her to even be there due to her popularity.
    • The inclusion of Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting characters was made as something extra for them since they were still in their own respective series as The King of Fighters is an Alternate Continuity to those games. However over the course of the 2000s due to certain issues such as their financial status SNK pretty much focused on this series (with an occasional Samurai Shodown or crossover fighting game. Which ended up being a reason why some of these characters were starting to feel more like Artifacts lately.
      • Cervantes was the Big Bad in Soul Edge; in the Soul Calibur series he's just kind of there. Voldo also is there to be the game's resident weird character - he hasn't contributed much to the story in a long time.
    • Characters whom originated in the series were not always excluded, though after the NES Ts saga for a while Kyo and Iori were in danger of becoming this. Fortunately SNK averted it by giving them bigger roles again.
  • "Gotta catch 'em all!" was the catchphrase of the Pokémon franchise, up until Generation III (Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire). The phrase was pulled two-fold; initially because the third and second generation games were incompatible with one another (not all the Pokémon of the third gen were initially available in those games, unlike the previous two generations), and criticism of equaling it to "gotta buy 'em all" came to a head. Also, getting 150, or even 251 Pokémon isn't a stretch, but bear in mind that, as of Generation VI, there are over 717 Pokémon, including a ton of elusive legendaries not obtainable without real life events!
    • Also, the games themselves have become much more story-oriented, whereas the first game had an Excuse Plot; catching them all was more important. The most important mons to catch in the fifth game series are the legendary Pokémon that play a vital role in the battle against the Big Bad, Ghestis.
    • It's traditional for there to be a series of checkpoints just before Victory Road (the last cave area that has to be traversed before reaching the Elite Four) where you're checked to be sure you have all eight badges that will make you eligible for the Pokémon League. In the original games, these served a valid purpose in gameplay, since you could get to the checkpoints after the first major city you reach. In more recent games, however, it's not even possible to reach the area where the checkpoints are until after you have the eight badges anyway, making the checks a mere formality in gameplay terms. Averted in Pokémon X and Y, where it's once again possible to go to the gate before Victory Road after the first major city.
      • Storyline-wise it makes sense for them to still be there, since not every trainer in the world is going to follow the same path that you did to get the badges. And let's also not forget that, both in-universe and out-of-universe, there could be people who try to skip gyms altogether and go straight to the league.
    • Hidden Machine moves being impossible to forget (or, later on, impossible to forget without consulting the Move Deleter NPC) is a Scrappy Mechanic that persisted because in Generation I and II games, it was possible to leave an HM in your PC, making it theoretically possible to render the game unwinnable if you forgot an HM move and found yourself trapped in an area that required said move. In Generation III, the expansion of the backpack meant that the player would always have all their HMs on hand and could relearn a move if necessary, rendering the issue moot; however, you can still only delete HM moves with the help of a Move Deleter.
    • In Gold, Silver, and Crystal, one of the 10 phone numbers you can have at a time is Bill's, which is useful as he tells you how many spaces are left in your current Pokémon storage box. He also calls you to tell you when your current box is full, which is very useful because if both the box currently being used and your party are full you can't catch anything. However, in the third generation, the box system was fixed so that a full box simply meant the captured Pokémon went to the next box, making registering Bill's number in the fourth generation remakes of those games largely pointless (he instead tells you the number of spaces left in all of your boxes in total, in which case you are SOL if you manage to fill all of them). On the other hand, you can register all the numbers you want in the remakes, so he's not hampering you, either.
    • The Pokemon cries from each past generation become this. Gaming technology has come a long way since even the Game Boy Color, and each Pokemon from Gens I and II still sound just like their original 8-bit counterparts. Some of the spinoff games, such as Pokémon Stadium, redid the old cries to sound more modern, but this wasn't fully carried over to the main series until Pokémon X and Y.
    • To some extent, the classification of Nidoran's genders as different species rather than the same Pokémon with gender differences is this - in Gen I, genders did not exist, and thus the male and female versions of Nidoran were classified as different Pokémon, with their own bios and everything. Nowadays, Pokémon that have gender differences (and gender-specific evolutions) like the Nidoran family (e.g. Jellicent) are not classified as seperate species from one another, making the family stand out quite a bit.
    • Dive Balls originally worked better on underwater Pokémon, but in every generation after Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, there aren't any underwater Pokémon. They were changed to work better on Water-type targets instead, making them a rarer and somewhat redundant version of Net Balls (which work better on Water and Bug types, but are marginally less effective for Water types).
  • Sonic the Hedgehog fans don't like to admit it, but this has happened to Knuckles in the games. His Back Story got completely fleshed out in Sonic Adventure, and since then, Angel Island and the Master Emerald's relevance has decreased dramatically, with Knuckles himself having been replaced by Shadow as The Rival. Now, Knuckles only appears because people expect him to. At least Tails gets to serve as the local Gadgeteer Genius, though even he seems to teeter on this and is in most games Out of Focus. However, Knuckles did get some focus in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. Dark Brotherhood was actually very good at giving nearly all of its playable characters equal screen time.
  • Flying medusa heads in the Castlevania series are somewhat an example. In the first game, Medusa herself was a giant severed head, and was fought in the stage that introduced the heads. Since then, Medusa has almost always appeared with a body, and is even absent in most games - but the flying heads remain.
  • The eponymous Metal Gear tanks were somewhat unimportant to the plot of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, aside from one boss battle where the player controls Metal Gear Rex in order to destroy Metal Gear Ray. The closest thing to a new Metal Gear model in MGS4 were the AI-controlled Gekko mechs, which are not officially considered to be Metal Gear tanksnote . While the final act does revolve around an Arsenal Gear, those are also not at all similar to earlier Metal Gear models.
    • The GameCube remake of Metal Gear Solid carries over many of the features from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. This includes the ability to hold guards up and steal dogtags from them - minus any non-bragging rights- or cruelty-related incentive to actually do so, since the unlockable pieces of equipment (stealth camo, infinite-ammo bandanna and alternate costumes) are still unlocked simply by beating the game with a specific ending regardless of how many tags you grab.
    • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance retains the manual save system of its predecessors along with introducing an auto-save system. However, loading a manually saved game will still put you at your latest checkpoint, making manual saving redundant.
  • Though the Metroid series' doors serve the purpose of disguising load times, the fact that they are opened via gunshot doesn't make a whole lot of sense even with the in-universe Hand Wave (why would the protective force fields need to be deactivated by being shot? And why would the pirates install doors that only Samus can open?). Nevertheless, they were in the first game, so they're in all the games.
    • The doors get varying forms of Hand Wave in some games, particularly the Prime series. In some cases, they're not designed to be shot; rather, by shooting them, you're overloading their defenses, and different doors have different strengths and properties that make their defensive fields vulnerable to different exploits. In other cases, they were only meant to keep out the local wildlife.
    • The Metroids themselves have fallen by the wayside. It got to the point where the Metroid Prime games feature severely weakened Metroids in the Pirate bases even though it might have made more sense in terms of plot if they had been absent. Metroid: Other M reverses this trend.
  • Trauma Center refuses to maintain artifacts! Refuses, I tell you! Miss bar: Gone in the remake - even though it was Tetarti's only possible means of beating you. Timer: Only in First Response mode in Trauma Team and otherwise gone. Item usages are out too, even though they were the games' favourite means of artificially frustrating you. Despite this, they still use a point-based structure, probably because points and ranks account for most of the replay value once you're done with the story.
  • Valve's Source Engine is a heavy/complete modification of the licensed Quake engine, to the point of having none of the original's code. Most of the console commands, however, remain the same as the various id Tech engines. Same for Call of Duty's IW Engine, built from the Quake III: Arena engine used in the first game.
    • This may or may not have been why Call of Duty: Black Ops runs on a modified version of Call of Duty 4's engine, which was three years old at Black Ops' release, rather than the much younger version of the engine from Modern Warfare 2 - MW2 took out leaning and dedicated servers from the PC version, Treyarch wanted those in their game, and they probably figured it would be easier to make the engine that already had those features look better than it would be to add those features back to a newer engine.
    • Similarly the Dunia Engine that runs Far Cry 2 contained something like 1%-5% of the original source code from CryEngine that powered the first game.
    • Duke Nukem Forever is an interesting case. Rather than scrap the project or update it for modern engines, the entire game runs on the relatively ancient Unreal Engine 1. They just added enough graphics modifications to make it look pretty (similar mods are available for other Unreal Engine 1 titles like Deus Ex).
  • The Turok games take their name, and a few other aspects, from a series of comic books about a Native American who finds a Lost World valley of dinosaurs. In the games, the main storyline has to do with the job of an ancient warrior trying to keep The Omniverse from collapsing; using his ancient wisdom to survive in a dark, alien land. They could just have easily have come up with some pretty strange creatures for the Lost Lands; but no, there are bio-mechanical dinosaurs for no reason.
  • A small handful of perks in Fallout: New Vegas suffer from being this.
    • Tag! is one of the more obvious examples. A tagged skill in Fallout and Fallout 2 leveled up twice as fast as a normal skill. This skill also became available around the same point in the game where Energy Weapons and Big Guns started to legitimately be useful weapons. Instead of the ignorable +15 skill points, the old version was +20 skill points and it now progressed twice as fast as normal like the other tagged skills. On top of that, it worked retroactively with skill points already spent in the skill. Taking this skill could basically turn a skill too low to be useful to being essentially mastered.
    • Swift Learner used to make at least some sense to take. You didn't normally hit the level cap in the old games unless you intentionally farmed random encounters for experience for a long time. In the newer games, hitting the level cap is easy, which makes taking this perk completely useless.
    • Life Giver was a much better perk in the older games. Even enemy mooks could potentially one hit kill you, so extra health was a legitimately useful thing to have. Even with enemies in New Vegas being more dangerous than Fallout 3, extra health just isn't that useful. Any enemy capable of killing you usually has no trouble going through the extra 30 health given by the perk.
    • Pyromaniac is an interesting example. The Perk itself has remained useful, to the point of being a key component of the highest melee-DPS build in Fallout 3, but the requirements to take it have reached this status. Originally, it required a certain number of ranks in Big Guns to take—this made sense, as the primary source of fire damage in the original games were Flamers, which were classed as Big Guns. For Fallout 3, it was moved to Explosives, despite flame damage being found in Big Guns and Melee Weapons. By Fallout: New Vegas, Pyromaniac's requirement remained in Explosives. However, Big Guns had been removed as skill, putting flamethrowing weapons in Energy Weapons. Later DLC added the mighty Flare Gun (Guns), Dragon's Breath ammo (Guns), Shishkebab (Melee Weapons), Superheated Saturnite Fist (Unarmed), and the weak Molotov Cocktail (Explosives), meaning that Pyromaniac requires the character to have ranks in the least relevant combat skill.
      • Word of God has confirmed that this was a mistake, and the perk was meant to be achievable with either skill points in Explosives or Energy Weapons. Luckily for anyone playing on PC, changing it this is trivially easy even for someone with no experience modding.
    • Fast Shot used to be an amazing trait. You gave up the Aimed Shot skill, which is mostly useless (by the time you can reliably hit specific body parts, you should have little trouble just killing enemies), to reduce the AP needed per shot by 1. This usually translated into getting at least one extra shot per round. Depending on your weapon and Agility, this could very well mean you were shooting twice per round rather than once, meaning it doubled your damage output. The new version (due to the lack of the Aimed Shot skill) reduces accuracy for a minor AP reduction.
      • Fast Shot was the perk to have (alongside maybe Gifted) in the original Fallout games. Never mind shooting twice per round, in Fallout you could get the .223 Pistol (the most powerful Small Gun in the game) to 2AP per shot, with easily 10AP per round (10 Agility, no Action Boy perks)... or on the Melee side, you could get 1AP per hit with the Super Sledge (the most powerful Melee weapon), allowing over 10 attacks per round. The only problem with this was that you hit so hard you had to run after your victim as they slid out of sight.
    • Skilled, meanwhile, is something of an inversion. In the first two games, it gave you a rather negligible boost to your skills in exchange for only getting perks every four levels instead of three like normal. Come New Vegas (or rather, the Old World Blues DLC), you get a +5 boost to all skills for a small reduction in exp gain (which can easily be negated by taking Swift Learner, if you feel so inclined), with skill points being harder to come by in this game than the first two. For added fun, you can abuse some Good Bad Bugs in character creation or with the Auto-Doc in Old World Blues to get the bonus multiple times and then "lose" the penalty from it for good measure.
  • Kingdom Hearts has Maleficent. She was a Big Bad in the first game, but since then has lost relevance. Starting with KH2 onward, the game creators didn't seem to know what to do with her. However, KHD3 reveals that perhaps she'll have purpose again.
  • Persona 4 has a couple of minor details carried over from its predecessor. First, some enemies on the map look like the "Maya" enemies from 3 (the game makes it clear that shadows transform when you get into a fight with them). Second, maxing out a social link triggers a note that you have forged an unbreakable bond. This was an important point in 3, where social links that weren't maxed would break after a certain amount of time. Now it's just congratulatory.
  • In the Super Mario Bros. series, extra lives have been more or less completely pointless since Super Mario 64, since it and every game after it allow you to save after every level. Not to mention how the series seems to have become increasingly obsessed with giving you dozens and dozens of extra lives. Most likely, the only reason they're still around is because without lives, coins and 1-Up Mushrooms would become useless, dramatically altering the gameplay of the series.
    • You get points for doing things in the original Super Mario Brothers. These have absolutely no impact on gameplay (even the players in the 1980's noticed this), but it was a Video Game, and video games have points!
    • Coins, at least, are often re-purposed as restoring Mario's Hit Points. Of course, he probably only has about 3-6 of those, so littering the levels with hundreds of coins is rather pointless, unless the player is just not any good at the game or deliberately injuring Mario.
    • The first Super Mario Advance game included remakes of both Super Mario Bros. 2 and Mario Bros.. To tie the games together, a few of Mario's abilities from SMB2 were included in the Mario Bros. game, such as the charged crouch jump and the ability to pick up and throw POW blocks. Later Mario games released on the GBA also include the same Mario Bros. game, including the SMB2 abilities, even though Mario plays differently in the other games included on the cartridge.
    • Super Mario World and the New Super Mario Bros. series still have points, despite the fact the game doesn't keep track and the way it's designed, the worse you do, the higher your score will be.
    • The franchise still has its trademark green pipes, despite Mario not doing much plumbing lately.
    • The Mario & Luigi series, in its first three games, featured Save Blocks which were the only points at which the game could be saved. Dream Team added in the ability to save anywhere, at any time... but keeps Save Blocks around for some reason. Apparently the developers were afraid you'd forget at some point.
    • Half of the original concept of the "world" as a collection of stages is beginning to become an artifact with more recent games in the series. A world is still a grouping of levels that end with a major boss fight, but unlike in older Mario games, the levels in a world are mostly no longer thematically related to the world map itself- you can be in the desert world and still end up playing grassland stages.
    • The concept of coin blocks and brick blocks were explained in the first game as Toads being transformed by Bowser's magic. Nowadays, the blocks are there for the sake of containing coins, power ups, or to serve as platforms.
  • The Final Fantasy characters in the Kingdom Hearts franchise. Initially, Kingdom Hearts was marketed on the basis of being crossover of Disney and Final Fantasy, but with each new games, Final Fantasy's roles get smaller and smaller. In fact, in Birth By Sleep, Zack was the only character featured from a Final Fantasy game....and in Dream Drop Distance, there were no Final Fantasy characters at all, replaced by the cast of The World Ends with You!
    • The Disney elements have also taken ever more of a back seat to Kingdom Hearts' own original mythology and plotlines. By this point, the worlds' plots and characterizations are lifted directly from the movies, and the Disney villains are almost never more than Minibosses, who understand the metaplot even less than the heroes, and exist only to be manipulated by the real bad guys (who are all the same person). The only Disney character to maintain a consistently major role is Mickey Mouse.
    • As a side-effect of this, Kairi, the supposed female lead of the series, also became The Artifact from Kingdom Hearts II and onward, since her main role as a Princess of Heart meant squat since the other Princesses of Heart were all Disney characters and thus the whole lot of then fell Out of Focus. However, the end of Dream Drop Distance doubly reverses this by bringing the Princesses back into play in the metaplot AND finally paying off on the Foreshadowing of Kairi as a Keyblade wielder from KH2.
  • Cursed equipment in the Dragon Quest series. In the early games, you had to be careful what equipment you put on. If you equipped something cursed, you'd suffer from ill effects and had to go to a church to remove it. However, later games have descriptions of items available in the menu, and all cursed equipment include not very subtle warnings that they're evil. No player will ever accidentally equip something cursed anymore, making their inclusion as traps pointless. Also related is the ability to examine items in the menu. It no longer appears in newer games, but remakes of older games will still include it even though it won't give you any information that isn't already in the item's description.
  • The Soul Series has been accumulating these as a Long Runner, although with V's timeskip, they're starting to get around to phasing them out. The most egregious examples are probably Voldo, Mitsurugi, and Cervantes; Voldo's basically been stuck in a rut of trying and failing to collect Soul Edge for his dead master since the series started, to the point the only development of any significance he's had in the last five games was finally going (more) insane and becoming a willing slave of Soul Edge. Mitsurugi was the protagonist of the first game, and initially one of those interested in finding Soul Edge to gain the power to defeat the gun; as the games wore on, Mitsurugi discovered he didn't NEED supernatural powers to do that and promptly lost interest in the struggle to possess or destroy the swords, mostly staying involved in the European chaos because warriors like Nightmare were the only ones that challenged him anymore. Cervantes, meanwhile, was the Big Bad of the first game, but he was also killed by Sophitia and Taki and replaced by Nightmare at the end; since then, his character has simply been a zombie trying to regain his lost power and mostly served as a motive for his daughter, Ivy, to fight on. Interestingly, Cervantes recently came back to life and lost interest in Soul Edge as well; some fans suspect that all three might be Put on a Bus next game like previous veterans like Taki and Sophitia.
  • Limited lives on PC or console games, period. The reason games had limited lives in the first place was because they were originally developed for arcade machines, and making players pay up to keep playing meant more profits for arcade owners, whereas you don't pay to keep playing games on your personal gaming systems.
    • For that matter, scores. A relic from the Atari age, when the point of most games was to score as many points as possible, rather than to clear a set of stages or accomplish some actual goal. Though, to be fair, both artifacts still add to the challenge of any games they apply to.
  • Score keeping in Wolfenstein 3D engine titles is an artifact. According to id, they kept the arcade feel because early '90s gamers wanted an arcade feel. Unfortunately, the later titles using the engine had to keep the score and lives intact leaving the game with a dated element while a modern Doom was out removing lives and score.
  • Link is a Heroic Mime in The Legend of Zelda series because... Well, he's always been a Heroic Mime. This was justifiable with the earlier games which had Excuse Plots, and the developers have defended keeping him that way because he's an Escapist Character. However, over time the series has grown more story-driven, and Link's role in the plots have become more defined and personal than Save the Princess Because Destiny Says So. He's given closer relationships to other characters, shows more emotion and occasionally reacts in ways the player may not agree with. Despite this, he's been a silent protagonist in every game so far and there's no indication that's ever going to change, because most fans just can't imagine him with a voice (Or are afraid to imagine such).
  • The pipe-based hacking system in BioShock is a holdover to when the vending machines had human operators on a drip-feed of ADAM, and he'd spot you some goodies for increasing the flow to him. However, considering the vending machines are now purely mechanical, this makes no sense.
    • The vending machines themselves in Bioshock Infinite are relic of Rapture's obsessively open market. Columbia's overly controlling government would want to put a check on weapons being sold, given the looming threat of the Vox Populi.
    • Taking things a step further, the ability to hack BioShock's vending machines in order to make other items available is carried over from System Shock 2, in which the vending machines assemble items on a nano-scale using nanites, the game's currency. Hacking thus allowed items such as guns and ammo to be replicated when the machine was originally only designed for basic vending machine fare. While this is somewhat justified in BioShock with the idea that Fontaine keeps some products away from the general public, it does not mesh quite as well with the setting.
    • The cameras are another example of this; hacking them to change their targeting parameters makes much more sense in a cyberpunk setting than a 1960s dieselpunk world but their presence was a major enough part of the feel of System Shock 2's gameplay to keep it as a part of its Spiritual Successor.
  • Intelligence in later Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games. In CoD4, finding intelligence unlocked cheats for you to use when replaying the game. Same for the similar Death Cards in World at War. Even Call of Duty: Black Ops kept them relevant by letting you actually read the intelligence after you've collected it, while its sequel lets them go towards completing challenges to unlock things. MW2, 3, and Ghosts keep the intelligence but offer no incentive to actually look for them beyond achievements for 100% Completion.
    • Modern Warfare 3 added the "Hybrid Sight" and "HAMR Scope" attachments, both of which are essentially dual-purpose scopes for both close- and long-range fighting. The former, which is exclusive to assault rifles, cannot be attached to one with a Grenade Launcher because the key to switch zoom modes is the same for readying the launcher. Fair enough. Black Ops II switched to a "Hybrid Optic", which uses a different key to switch modes, but still cannot be combined with a grenade launcher simply because the original version couldn't. Grenade launchers are still fair game in Strike Force (where the key to ready them is used as part of the squad controls), though.
  • Donkey Kong Country had bananas scattered throughout every level because the Kremlings stole Donkey Kong's banana hoard and dropped them as they ran along. All Donkey Kong games after that had bananas just exist for the sole purpose of Law of 100 and Follow the Bananas.
  • Stan's jacket in Monkey Island has a checkered pattern that always remains stationary. This was because of technical restrictions in the 1st game, however it has since become his signature and remains in all games.
  • The input for Jump Kicks in the original arcade Double Dragon is different depending on the direction the player is facing. Pressing the kick button while jumping only does jump kicks to the left and in order to do a jump kick to the right, the player must use the punch button instead. This is actually a leftover mechanic from when the game was conceived as a Renegade sequel (which used direction-based attack buttons).
  • The illustrations on the side of the original Tempest cabinet show actual monsters rather than the abstract squiggles that serve as the enemies/targets in the actual game. This was because they were designed and printed at a time when the plan was for them to look like that. By the time the developers threw in the towel on making credible-looking monsters with the game's vector graphics, it was too late to change them.
  • Power in Touhou. In Story of Eastern Wonderland getting to and maintaining max power was both reasonably difficult and fairly important. Immediately after that regaining lost power from dying became easy and the drop in damage fairly small besides. Since then Mountain of Faith and Subterranean Animism brought it back to relevance by tying it to bombs, but then that went away and now collecting power is back to just being something to do during the first stage.

    Web Original 
  • The "deadpan" in Deadpan Snarker on This Very Wiki. Due to Trope Decay, a deadpan delivery is no longer part of the trope.
  • Sofie Liv and the formerly-eponymous Red Suitcase of the Red Suitcase Adventures, so much so she re-branded the show as Movie Dorkness.
  • P. Monkey, the purple monkey puppet Companion Cube from lonelygirl15, appeared frequently in early episodes, but appeared less and less as the series became darker and more plot driven. By the last series, she appeared occasionally, probably because fans like her, but had no effect on the overall plot.
  • Pom Pom in Homestar Runner was meant to be Homestar's sidekick when the cartoon was still primarily sports-based, easily the number two character in early cartoons, behind Homestar himself. As the cartoon shifted away from sports and more toward Strong Bad and pop culture, Pom Pom became more and more superfluous, now being one of the rarest of the twelve central characters. Probably doesn't help that he's the straight man with few quirks or flaws in a cartoon where much quirkier characters Strong Bad, Strong Sad, Marzipan, Bubs, and occasionally even Homestar himself can all play the straight man role as necessary, nor that he can't talk in anything besides bubble sounds.
  • Initially, totheark's response videos from Marble Hornets mostly existed to creepily suggest that Jay might be in for more than just documenting an Apocalyptic Log, but since this was revealed in mid-to-late Season 1, the focus has completely shifted from the Apocalyptic Log from the student film to Jay's own Paranormal Investigation of all of the forces that are controlling his life and what is happening to everyone involved with The Operator, totheark's original purpose has been nullified. While totheark is still a very important character and his identity is still a driving plot point, his Once an Episode responses have little to no point other than to taunt Jay, besides the occasional Wham Episode which he usually hijacks the main Marble Hornets Youtube channel to deliver.
  • Since The Heroic Review is made up of cast members and creatures who work on the audio play, The Heroic Tale Of Heroically Heroic Heroes, the first few episodes had each cast member mentioning the role they play in their introduction. This was phased out pretty quickly in favor of just a general greeting from each panelist at the start of the episode.

    Webcomics 
  • Occasionally mentioned by the Penny Arcade creators who, while enjoying the character DIV, admit that the DIVX format's failure condemns the character's basis to increasing obscurity.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the author has been quoted to no longer enjoy several of the earlier gags, especially the hammers. Hammers were sacrificed for good, in exchange for a handful of Character Development, setting development and plot points.
    • The level of fanservice has also dropped off significantly since the author started expressing guilt over objectifying women in the earlier strips. Tedd and Ellen still have their transformation rays, but they almost never see use.
  • Once the central premise of the comic, the constant parodies of the Dungeons & Dragons rules have essentially vanished from The Order of the Stick, only being occasionally dragged back in to keep longtime fans happy. The author has stated in his commentaries to one of his books that he basically has nothing else to say about the rules and is concentrating on telling a good story now.
  • Even though Fred finds ways to keep him important to the plot, pretty much anything involving Largo from MegaTokyo has felt like this ever since Rodney Caston was forced out of the creative partnership.
  • Choo-Choo Bear has faded into the shadows of Something Positive; right now almost all of his appearances are as the snooty Q&A cat. (Randy Milholland was always determined to limit his appearances for fear overusing him, though.) He did become more active for a time as a result of an extended crossover with Girls with Slingshots, which seems to have run its course.
  • Spark from Dominic Deegan dates back to the strip's early Gag Per Day days. He has adapted better than most artifacts do, but he still feels out of place in the post-Cerebus Syndrome Deeganverse. And he can completely vanish from stories entirely without warning for nearly years at a time, only to occasionally make appearances to reference an old running gag.
  • Homestuck has a lot of these, mainly due to how quickly the narative evolves. Sylladices once played a major role in the story (the first third or so of Act One consisted entirely of John messing around with his sylladex), but are now rarely ever given much thought, the exception being the late-Act Five subplot with Liv Tyler and the Courtyard Droll handling John's Wallet Modus and its contents. A similar fate has befallen punch card alchemy; the process became significantly more streamlined when Dave figured out how to upgrade the equipment, so much of the messing-around John needed to do with it early on promptly became irrelevant. Act 6 seems to be bringing these things back into play, at least for a time.
  • In Least I Could Do, the character Jon originally served as Rayne's foil, being the Only Sane Man who reined in Rayne's zanier impulses. The character fell out of use as the author found himself growing distant from Jon's inspiration, and a new character (Noel) took over the role of Rayne's wingman. Eventaully Sohmer acknowledged this by writing a story arc where Rayne and Jon patch up their friendship, and with Noel's marriage and child Jon has started coming back into the forefront.
    • Thankfully Noel hasn't really ever suffered from Replacement Scrappy Syndrome, in that he's notably different from Jon - Jon is the Only Sane Man who may or may not suffer ulcers from dealing with Rayne; Noel is a Deadpan Snarker who's more than happy to accompany Rayne on his adventures, and only stops Rayne before he's going to do something TOO stupid.
  • Nuzlocke Comics has undergone an unbelievable amount of Art Evolution from its early days, but Ruby, the main character, is still drawn in a fairly cartoony style. It's a bit jarring to look at the fairly realistic but stylized cast, then see Ruby's almost Gonk-like proportions; one comic even features a Fandom Nod cameo from Hale, who was also based on RSE's male character and gets a more in-line look. The comic largely skirts around this by playing up Ruby's Idiot Hero tendencies.
  • A constant fear for the creator of Dumbing of Age. Due to the sliding timescale that will keep the characters in their freshmen year forever but always in modern times, any specific reference to technology or pop culture has the ability to become this. Amber and Danny playing Mario Kart on DS/3DS/2DS will seem quaint in 10 years (although Mario Kart will most likely still exist in some form). An early strip had many students list their favorite movies (in the collection commentary, Willis points out that it will seem strange years from now that all these 18 years olds love classic movies), something he tries to avoid when at all possible (Amber's World of Warcraft-esque MMORPG is never named, conversations about Transformers are kept as generic as possible, citing names like Optimus Prime and Bumblebee).

    Western Animation 
  • Classic animation example: Mickey Mouse's ears. No matter how he turns his head, they stay in the same position, in direct violation of the rules of perspective. This is a relic of the time Mickey was created, when designs were simple and crude, but as the animators improved their drawing skills and the style became more elaborate, Mickey's design began to look archaic by comparison. His immense popularity made a complete redesign impossible, so only small, judicious changes were made over time. There was a time in the early 1940s when the ears were altered to look more like real mouse ears, as well as giving them dimension, but that change was short-lived and the round ears returned. Nowadays it's accepted as a crucial element in Mickey's design (even CG versions of the character have special adjustments to keep the ears the same from every angle), and is even Lampshaded on occasion.
    • Except Kingdom Hearts II. His ears don't adjust with the angle, ever, so we actually see the sides of his ears. The 3D ending to the original Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories Reverse/Rebirth mode also didn't do this.
      • In Kingdom Hearts, however, we virtually only see Mickey from the side, and his ears are in their odd position. During an early cutscene, Minnie Mouse turns around and her ears adjust their position; possibly an intentional nod to this.
  • The family cars in The Simpsons have remained generic family sedans/station wagon type cars from the 80s/early 90s. The family TV at least was finally upgraded to a modern flat screen a few years ago.
    • Homer still working outside the safety room at the Power Plant in the opening theme may be this. Although zigzagged, Homer has since been shown the main role of working as the "Nuclear Safety Inspector" for the most part with the openings appearing with the same depiction of him mostly working as the other employees work.
  • Kenny's deaths on South Park were a written-in-stone Running Gag until the creators decided that in one episode that he was Killed Off for Real. "They Changed It, Now It Sucks" reactions caused them to put him back on the show. Now he only occasionally dies.
    • Add in the fact that all his lines are unintelligible. Very few episodes feature Kenny doing much of anything but basically just standing to one side. Lampshaded in the "Mr. Jefferson" episode. When Kenny, for once unmuffled, complains about taking Blanket's place, Stan tells him to stop complaining, at least he gets to do something for once.
      • And nobody called him by his name so the audience didn't get the joke that it was Kenny until he died.
      • Kenny's muffled voice was originally supposed to be a clever censor; in early episodes he would describe lewd things that were theoretically too vulgar to say outright, but viewers could listen closely and understand what he was saying. As the show pushed the envelope, however, this became pointless; another character can just say the same thing outright.
    • Also Lampshaded in "Lice Capades," Where Kyle, Stan, and Cartman point out to each other that they're doing exactly what they would do if they had head lice, and Cartman adds, "And this is exactly what Kenny would do: stand here and say nothing."
  • Meg Griffin on Family Guy seems to have been designed and included for one narrative purpose (high school angst-driven stories); as the show has become joke-driven, structurally looser and narratively weaker, Meg's continued existence is little more than a vestige of the plot-driven early seasons of the show. Couple this with the show's increasing reliance on the Seth McFarlane-voiced characters and the audience's dislike of the Meg character (lampshaded frequently on the show through the rest of the family's increasingly pronounced and occasionally violent antipathy toward her) and there's really little left of the character beyond the awareness of her Artifact status.
    • Unexpectedly, the disproportionate in-universe hate towards her has shoved her through The Woobie Wall for many members of the audience; giving her an actual purpose in the show. It also makes the scene in the the episode "Dial Meg for Murder" where she beats Peter after being in prison a few months a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
    • The diminishment of Meg's character began at about the same time as her original (and uncredited) voice actor Lacey Chabert was replaced by Mila Kunis. In contrast to Lacey Chabert's rather mundane characterization, Mila Kunis brought a sharper, more distinctive quality to the character (along with a much greater appreciation for the show's type of humor than Lacey Chabert had, which is what caused her to leave the show and be uncredited). Mila Kunis' performance allows the out-of-proportion attacks on Meg to be funny, whereas had Lacey Chabert remained, it likely would have just come off as mean-spirited.
  • Klaus, the East German athlete in a goldfish's body in American Dad! seems to serve no purpose in later episodes. Originally he may have been a foil to Roger, but with Roger's Character Development that's pretty much fallen by the wayside. Also, Hayley was originally designed as a counterpart to Stan's extreme convervatism. As the show has largely lost its political aspects, Hayley's had less to do.
    • Lampshaded by Klaus and Hayley in a recent episode. Klaus pops up on the screen out of nowhere exclaiming, "Ha! I made it into the episode! Pay me, bitches!" Then Hayley pops up saying, "Ha! Me too!" Otherwise both characters are entirely absent from the episode.
    • In some later episodes, Klaus' lack of purpose is lampshaded through Klaus bemoaning his situation, or the other characters making fun of him. One particularly cruel example is "For Whom the Sleigh Bell Tolls", where the rest of the family is fighting for their lives against Santa Claus and his elves with machine guns and hatchets, and Francine mentions "What's his name?" during a conversation with Hayley; it then cuts to Klaus floating in his bowl with no background noise, and he dispassionately says "My name is Klaus Heissler." Klaus wasn't seen again the entire episode, before or since that scene.
    • The show's entire premise fell under this trope, since politics were almost completely abandoned, and Stan hardly outs himself as a conservative nor display hate for liberals anymore.
  • This actually happened to Optimus Prime of all characters during the final season of The Transformers. They'd brought him back because of Fan Backlash over his removal so they couldn't very well have him leave again. But because of the Loads and Loads of Characters that had to be written in due to the toyline all older characters such as Blaster and Perceptor had been written off in favor of the new characters with gimmicks (such as being a Head or Target Master or part of a combination team) except for Prime. As a result he looks notably out of place with his 80s era Mack Truck form and lack of gimmicky weapons when surrounded by futuristic cars and jets and all the Masters. Notably, in the Japanese continuity which splits off right after he's brought back to life, he's killed off again almost immediately, replaced by a series of newer, more visually and technologically impressive leaders.
    • In the third season, this also happened to some extent with many of the first and second season characters who survived the movie, although some of them did get important roles in an episode or two (Blaster and Soundwave in "Carnage in C-Minor", Perceptor in "The Face of the Nijika", etc.).
    • Barring the Bayverse and Animated versions Optimus Prime himself may be an example of this trope. His nemesis Megatron has had several personality changes over the course of the franchise but the Big Red himself is pretty much the same character even when he's smaller or less red. His alternate counterparts tend to be closer to the original than the alternate Megatrons as well. Then again, there's not much that can be changed about a consummate hero without keeping him as heroic as he's expected to be.
  • For Regular Show, some could say that Thomas who was introduced at the start of the fourth season became an artifact sometime shortly after his second episode "Starter Pack" some two episodes into the season. It is likely that Thomas was originally developed to be a human friend for Muscle Man and High Five Ghost but it never happened because the episodes were too short to give him much plot.
    • This is lampshaded in show, and most of Thomas's appearances have been when he helps the rest of the gang take on the Monster of the Week. He is often the one to save the day. Thomas has never had an episode focus on him, largely because he doesn't have enough of a developed personality.
  • In the Disney Sing Along Songs VHS series, Professor Owl from the Adventures in Music Duology was originally the host, with Jiminy Cricket and Professor Ludwig Von Drake occasionally taking over. In later entries, Professor Owl only appears to say "And now is your host, [Jiminy Cricket / Professor Ludwig Von Drake]!", and in a completely different voice from the intro and earlier videos, at that. The most likely reason is that the between-song segments were composed entirely of Stock Footage of old cartoons, and Cricket and Von Drake — particularly the latter, who by the end was the only one hosting — had a good deal more material to draw from.
  • Hack and Slash in ReBoot fell into this during season 3. While the series got Darker and Edgier, they didn't. For the most part they were ignored unless some comic relief was needed.
  • Total Drama started with twenty-two contestants in the first season, but while the second and third still had most of the cast competing, a few characters were stuck watching from the sidelines. With such a large main cast, some pairs of characters were Not So Different from one another, which made a few like Eva, Katie and Sadie redundant as Courtney, Lindsay and Beth respectively took on their defining traits. The three only competed in the first season as a result, and have been Out of Focus ever since.
  • Speaking of animated reality shows, after the first season Drawn Together lost the pretense of being "the first animated reality" by dropping the "confessional" segments, the votes, and so on. This however was referenced in The Movie that closed the series for good.
  • The Phineas and Ferb theme-song has the titular boys saying that they want to "Drive their sister insane!" However, Characterization Marches On, and now the boys are incredibly nice, and want to help their sister out—she's just too amped up to realise. However, because it rhymes and is so intrinsic, the line stays.
    • Then again, you could take the line to mean that the things they do are going to drive her insane as a side effect, even if it's not what they intend to do.
    • Sort of subtly lampshaded in Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension—Phineas is singing part of the show's theme song, but gets distracted before he can finish the line "driving our sister insane" (around 1:15). He doesn't try to drive her insane or even seem to realize that he's doing it, so it wouldn't make any sense for him to say that.
  • The Movie of Thomas the Tank Engine introduced the engine Lady as a sort of Macguffin Girl keeping the magical bond between the Engines' world and the real world alive, but this magical bond is not only never mentioned in any other version, but Shining Time Station and the Messrs. Conductor have since been phased out entirely. Nevertheless, Lady continued to appear in a few stories released shortly after the film, despite having lost the one thing that made her special and interesting. She disappeared after she'd appeared in enough stories to justify the toys to kids who didn't see the movie.
    • Given that the series has Loads and Loads of Characters, this is the case for the majority of the engines. Characters who were once mainstays of the series like Duck, Boco and Daisy have all but disappeared - if one were to be cynical, one might suggest that the few appearances they have are to ensure their continued presence in the various merchandise lines.
    • In addition, the original episodes, and the novels they are based on, placed most of the engines onto different lines and work regimes. Now, the engines just seem to work freely anywhere around Sodor, making some of them superfluous. This was likely done so as to make main characters such as Thomas more flexible and easier to write into different situations.
    • Newer seasons, due to change in writing team, seeming to making some attempts to reverse these examples, with more accuracies to the original stories, and the return of old concepts and characters. Some leeway is still made in favor of new additions however.
  • Zordrak was created as the sinister Big Bad of The Dreamstone, in early episodes, while mostly staying in his lair, he devised many of the plans for his mooks, the Urpneys, and on a handful of occasions played part in the task at hand, making him a palpable Knight of Cerebus. As the show began to revolve more and more around the Urpneys' slapstick however, Zordrak's part in the show became smaller and more superfluous, usually appearing as little more than a source of abuse for his mooks while they plotted and acted out everything themselves. The heroes themselves even became trivial additions at times due to the Urpneys being such luckless imbeciles they could play out and fail at a scheme completely by themselves (though they were pushed back into spotlight a little in the final seasons).
    • The dream premise of the show itself was downplayed pretty damn early, again, in favor of the Urpneys Road Runner vs. Coyote antics. After the pilot in fact, only a few episodes went into detail about the dreams, and even fewer actually shown them onscreen. This got to such a point that the only way to go was up, with the third and fourth season going into slightly more depth about the process (if still rather skimpy).
  • The friendship letters to Princess Celestia in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic may count. For the most part their point was simply to recap the episode's intended Aesop early in the series, yet as time went by towards the end of the second season and into the third they seemed to get increasingly phased out as largely superfluous...to the point where "Apple Family Reunion" stands out a bit by virtue of Applejack actually and without prompting from anybody else deciding to write one again. Granted, this is just to boast that she knew the episode's morals all along, but still...
    • As of the Season 4 episode "Castle Mane-ia", the friendship letters have been replaced by diaries.
  • Early episodes of King of the Hill feature other neighbors besides the usual cast, notably a woman with glasses and long dark hair (voiced by Kathy Najimy) and several housewives who occasionally hang out with Peggy. After the first two seasons, these characters occasionally appear as extras but are rarely voiced.
  • Cartoon Network's action-animation block Toonami has one in the form of a quote: "We won't be intimidated by criminal threats!", a line taken from the theatrical Superman cartoons, which aired via the Cartoon Roulette. While the Superman cartoons (as well as the Cartoon Roulette itself and the other shows it presented) left the block in 2000 and never came back, the sound bite for the line itself was still used in various promos. Even the revived Toonami on [adult swim] still uses it in promos.
    • Toonami itself is a bit of an artifact nowadays. With the easy access of online streaming and DVD's, Toonami's old gimmick of bringing anime to America is a bygone relic.
  • The 2011 reboot of Beavis And Butthead has the boys and Stewart still rocking the same t-shirts they did in the 90s. While it's still reasonable that teenage metalheads would be rocking Metallica and AC/DC shirts in modern times, being iconic acts, one wonders how many teenage boys nowadays would wear a t-shirt by the nearly-forgotten hair metal band Winger (hell, Winger was almost an artifact when the original B&B show started airing in the 90s).

    Other 
  • 4Kids Entertainment was this in spades. Before the Big Anime Boom of the 2000s, the company was considered one of the best anime-dubbing companies in the business. At the time, what they did was stuff most American dubbing companies did: Editing out blood and gore, removing any perverted scenes, giving the characters American names, slipping in bad puns where there weren't any before, etc. However, most dub companies don't do stuff like this anymore. Despite this, the company managed to survive to present day even after filing for bankruptcy, now called 4Licensing Corporation.
  • [adult swim] was so named because it referred to the period where kids are ordered out of public pools so that only seniors can swim in it, and when it first launched in 2001, it even featured bumpers of kids being told to get out of the pool along with seniors enjoying their time. Sometime around 2003, these were replaced with the "white text on black" style bumpers seen today, though the name hasn't lost all meaning—it still trades in child-unfriendly shows.
  • Believe it or not, the Exsultet prayer sung in the Catholic Church every Easter Vigil included at the end a prayer for the Holy Roman Emperor up until 1955, by which time the post had lain vacant for some 151 years. Due to the political realities, of course, the prayer was not actually said after 1804, due to the lack of a Holy Roman Emperor to pray for, but the prayer remained in the official rubrics until then.
  • The phrase "don't touch that dial" remained in use for decades after a majority of televisions no longer had dials. Strangely enough, it probably became overused during the era where old dial televisions (which had a knob you used to change the channel) had been replaced by those operated by remote control.
  • The 7-Eleven chain of convenience stores was named for its original hours - 7 AM to 11 PM, which was unprecedented for its time. By the mid-1960s, all of them were open 24 hours a day.
  • In the Middle Ages, barbers performed surgery in addition to cutting hair and shaving. One popular procedure was bloodletting, where the barber would simply slice the patient's wrists as they grabbed onto a bandaged pole to encourage blood flow and hope that whatever ailment they had would bleed out along with it. That's what the red and white stripes of the barber's pole they used to advertise themselves with represent.
  • The reason that spelling in English seems so irregular and arbitrary (especially compared to other languages like German or Spanish) is because generally speaking the current English ortography reflects the language's Medieval phonology. Tradition has kept the spelling frozen like that and to do a comprehensive modernizing reform would probably cause too much trouble, confusion and resistance to bother with it.
    • French has to deal with this very same problem/trope
    • Additionally, English was originally much more like German in structure. The influx of Norman French after the Conquest had a radical effect on the evolution of the language as a whole, leaving it a mishmash of alterations introduced by Norman French and artifacts of the original Anglo-Saxon dialect (e.g., forming the possessive with 's derives from the genitive case ending, -es).
    • Making it even more of a wonderful mess is that English will assimilate words, grammatical quirks, and spelling variants from any language and that between the British Empire and the Americans, English speakers have invaded pretty much every corner of the world at some time or another. American English, though, it more likely to assimilate things like Yiddish because of odd historical quirks.
      • As an artifact of the some of the early Americans' attempts to distinguish themselves from British, American English also has some spelling changes artificially created by Webster (eg, colour to color, defence to defense) when he was writing his dictionary in order to make American English seem more different from British English. They stuck.
    • Generally, spoken language changes more quickly than written language. Most, if not all, written languages have at least some minor artifacts such as silent letters that were once pronounced.
  • The QWERTY keyboard layout (along with its German and French counterparts AZERTY and QWERTZ) originally served the purpose of making typewriter jams less common by spreading common letter combinations around (According to popular myth, this was because it would slow typists down. In fact, speed had little to do with it; the idea was merely to reduce the frequency with which neighboring keys would need to be struck). Even into the computer age where this would no longer be necessary, and even with the development of speedier key layouts such as Dvorak, the QWERTY keyboard is still widely used due to familiarity. You could get a new keyboard with the Dvorak layout if you wanted to - there are places in your Windows/Mac settings that will let you change it - however with laptops with their built-in keyboards taking over for desktops (and tablets, too), the artifact stays put.
  • You've probably heard of First World countries and Third World countries. Ever wonder where all the Second World countries are? By the way, you probably think that being a dirt-poor shithole is the criteria for being a Third World country. WRONG! First World countries are countries allied with the U.S., Second World countries are countries allied with the U.S.S.R., and Third World countries are neutral. As you can see, the entire system is an outdated relic of the Cold War and, in the current political realm, the terms mean precisely nothing. The colloquial definition of "Third World" is nothing more than a Cold War-era stereotype of the kind of countries which were neutral. It's especially hilarious when people suggest the U.S. is becoming a Third World country. That would require the U.S. to be neutral from itself. This is probably the reason the phrases "First World" and "Third World" are slowly falling away in favor of "Developed World/Countries" and "Developing World/Countries."
  • To "dial" a phone number was a more accurate description when the action required turning a physical dial instead of pushing buttons.
    • The act of "hanging up" is rarely done these days, thanks to landline phones being wireless and cell phones becoming common. Nowadays, people end a call by pressing a button, but everyone still says they're "hanging up" due to everyone being familiar with the term to mean the call is ending.
  • DVDs are the same shape and size as CDs, but their boxes are long rectangles, not (near) squares. This is because as people switched from VHS to DVD they were still putting the DVDs on the shelves that were designed for VHS tapes.
    • This followed for PC Games and most videogame consoles as well. In the case of PC Games the DVD style cases replaced the big boxes.
      • Some DVDs (particularly music ones) started using the CD Jewel Boxes and Super Jewel Boxes packaging for a while, but this was not widespread as people kept confusing them for CDs. This practise has continued with the release of Led Zeppelin's Celebration Day on Blu-Ray which comes in a blue tinted Super Jewel Box.
    • And it continues on with Blu-Ray apparently. The boxes aren't as long, rectangular, and are smaller than that of DVDs, but they are still fairly noticeably rectangular.
  • The "save" icon for most computer programs is represented by a floppy disk, despite the fact that the floppy disk is very much obsolete and computers haven't even been sold with floppy drives for years.
  • The universal symbol for a phone, used on everything from public signs to the Phone app on smartphones, is that of a phone developed in the 70s and 80s, despite that fact that these are becoming increasingly rare with the proliferation of cell phones that look nothing like them.
  • Some cars are still produced with a cigarette lighter built inside, despite the fact that most people do not smoke as much as they did decades ago and current smokers would have their own lighter that works much better than a car lighter (and the practice of smoking in a car falling out of favor). There's many devices that plug into the car lighter, such as a charger for a cell phone or MP3 player.
    • Even this may finally be going the way of the dodo. With most if not all modern devices using a USB cord for charging, many newer cars have USB slots along with car lighter slot. Eventually, the traditional car lighter plug may be phased out entirely.
  • Now that most computers use LCD screens, which are less susceptible to having images "burned in" to them than CRT monitors, screen savers aren't really necessary. However, most people still use them because they look pretty.
  • When horse-drawn fire engines were still the norm among firehouses, most American firefighters used dalmatians as "carriage dogs" out of necessity, as they provided a valuable service by clearing obstacles in front of fire engines and guiding firefighters to their destinations. Nowadays, with the dissemination of motorized fire engines, such services aren't actually needed, but many firefighters still keep dalmatians as pets for the sake of tradition, and they've become permanently entrenched in the public imagination as "firehouse dogs".
  • Software internals tend to reflect the times in which they were designed. For example, in the Unix operating systems, terminal-related operations typically include the word "tty", short for "teletype", despite teletype terminals being obsolete for decades. Modern Unix-like systems use terminal emulators, which use a standard keyboard and mouse to emulate obsolete models of physical terminals, such as the VT 100. Another reminder of the old days is the SIGHUP signal (HUP is short for "hangup"); once indicating a literal hangup on the terminal's phone line, it now typically means a network disconnection.
  • The C Programming language has a few keywords that aren't used and may have been defined either for compatibility reason or because of their necessity at the time.
    • A really obscure one is the "auto" keyword from the C programming language. It exists only because it was needed in B, and officially serves no purpose whatsoever. C++ has since repurposed it. note 
    • Another keyword in C that is never really used is "register". This would tell the compiler to try to force the value into a register to optimize access. Compilers are good at figuring this out on their own now.
    • "Goto" is an unconditional jump to some location. It's never used and many programmers may bash you in the head if you use this because it creates spaghetti code that's hard to follow.
      • There are some use cases for "goto" - modern languages allow you to "goto <label>" which means the jump has semantic meaning (unlike the older "goto <line number>" or the Assembler "jump <offset>"). The benefit of using a "goto" is that it's a clean way of going away and not coming back which makes it clear that you're not interested in returning to the code you're currently in. Programmers who are against "goto" for religious reasons end up abusing exceptions as a way of abandoning the current code instead.
  • The Irish language. In Ireland, it isn't spoken outside the rural Gaeltacht areas in various parts of the country - and the majority of the population can't speak it. Yet signs and train announcements show the place names in Irish first because of tradition.
  • Technology Marches On has created a few:
    • While elsewhere the fax machine has been mostly phased out with the advent of scanning and email, in Japan it is still very much used. Japanese business culture jumped on fax technology in a major way in the 80s, and its use was woven into their business processes heavily. A combination of a culture of beaurocratic inflexibility and an aging population that dislikes change, it will probably hang around in heavy use well into the next few decades.
      • Japan also remains a mostly cash-only culture, with debit cards non-existant and credit cards used mostly for major purposes (most smaller businesses don't even take them). Again, an aging population resistant to change is a major component of this, as well as a culturally different philosophy on credit and digital transactions.
    • Dot matrix printers were still until recently in use at car rentals years after they became an artifact everywhere else, mainly due to retaining the ability to print onto carbon copy paper. They are finally being phased out as rental car companies have mostly eliminated the need to have a carbon copy of the renter's signature, but you may seem them still in some smaller locations.
    • Some governemnt and business computer systems still use a MS/DOS interface (complete with monochrome screens!) because the system infrastructure/programs used were too expensive/not worth the hassle to replace/upgrade. These are finally slowly dying out as the systems age and newer options and processes that can't be placed in the older systems become needed.
    • Anytime you see a pay phone or police call box on the highway. The proliferation of cell phones ceased the need of one (even if you decided to be weird and not carry one/yours dies, there will always be someone nearby with one you can use in an emergency). They tend to still be in some rural places (tho they may not have any service).
    • A video rental store still in business. Red Box, Netflix and internet streaming have put all the big chains (such as Block Buster) out of business. A few mom n' pop stores still operate in more rural areas.
  • Chuck E. Cheese's the kids' pizza restaurant qualfies. Formerly called Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre which during time made sense considering how the "Animatronic Shows" were used in style (used until the mid-1990s), to Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza. However, the current artifact would be now that it's still a pizza restaurant since the title's dropped "Pizza" to simply "Chuck E. Cheese's", which is unclear if relatively few who may not have heard about the restaurant are left thinking that it's famous for its cheese rather than its pizza.
  • Vestigial organs are organs that were once useful in a species's ancestors, but are almost entirely useless in their descendants thanks to evolution. One example is the "arrector pili" muscles that raise hairs in mammals, which in humans still function and produce "goose bumps", but our hairs are so fine and sparse that there's no actual use in raising them.
  • The Windows Start Menu became this since XP, which let you drag icons onto the taskbar to click on as a shortcut rather than selecting them in the Menu. Microsoft tried removing this in 8 in favor of a "Start Screen", but significant outcry forced them to return the button in 8.1 (that still takes you to the Screen), but supposedly the menu will return in another update.

    Signature TropesCalling Card
Armed With CanonContinuity TropesAscended Fanon
And You Were ThereCharacters and CastingAscended Extra
Archnemesis DadCharacters as DeviceAs Himself
Actor AllusionCharacters/Soul EdgeAwesomeness by Analysis

alternative title(s): Artifact
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
359441
0