Two Decades Behind
"Hi is looking stunned in the second panel here◊ because his teenage son's act of disrespectful rebellion: rocking out to a song released in 1975."The twenty year (or more) lag between reality and TV-land. Shows that first ran in The '90s often reminisced The '70s, shows in The '80s carry a lot of cultural baggage from The Sixties, shows that first ran in The '70s hark back to The Fifties, and shows in The Fifties and The Sixties had its nostalgic setups between The Gay Nineties and The Roaring Twenties (probably because the '30s and '40s hadn't featured many things people wanted to be nostalgic about). At the start of the 21st century, this can be seen in how some works seem to suggest that they took place in The '80s and steadily into The '90s when they are supposed to be set in the present-day or a little earlier. In such settings, the "cool kids" still rap and skateboard and the lingo is still Totally Radical Jive Turkey (even in cases where it was not relevant to begin with). In many cases, it's clear that someone hasn't done the research. It happens because TV writers tend to be busiest in their late 30s and early 40s, and (like everyone else) their tastes and preferences were formed in their teens and early 20s; by the time they reach the big time, what is modern to them is actually 20 years out of date. A desire to Write What You Know also plays an important part. This is closely related to the fact that such franchises as Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Masters of the Universe are getting revamped ~20 years after the peaks of their popularity; in fact, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) was a revival of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero from the 1980s, which was, in turn, a revamp of the original Joes from the 1960s. Another reason for this trope is a long tradition of Executive Meddling. Until relatively recently, American entertainment media was heavily censored compared to that of most other cultures, first by The Hays Code (which wasn't relaxed until the mid-1950s at the earliest and not scrapped entirely until 1968) for movies and then by the Federal Communications Commission (whose standards weren't truly liberalized until the mid-1990s) for television. That is why, until about 1996 or so, American entertainment was often behind the times in portraying political, social, or cultural change; sometimes, especially when it came to topics like homosexuality, it wasn't even allowed. Also, TV, music, and radio executives whose tastes were formed in their twenties tend not to achieve positions of influence much before their forties. This does much to explain "nostalgia booms" which occur roughly every decade: why in the middle-late 1970s there was a boom in fifties' musical nostalgia, why in the 1980s there was a boom in turn for '60s musical nostalgia and why in the 1990s the nostalgia boom was for 1970's-flavoured music. A middle-aged élite serving other people in the same demographic who were getting nostalgic for their own youth? While television shows of the 90s, 2000s and 2010s are generally better at portraying their respective time periods than shows from the 50s-80s (no doubt due to how much easier it became to find information during the late-80s/early-90s, as well as the relaxation of censorship described just above), they still aren't without their fair share of dated slang and cultural tropes. Modern-day kid shows, in particular, still seem to fall victim to this. Even though information about modern-day kid culture is quite easy to obtain now, with all the books and websites devoted to it (not to mention networks like Nickelodeon). Long Runners that use Comic-Book Time are susceptible in various ways, such as The Artifact. If your hero is a thirty-year-old musician whose catchphrase is "LOL" and who collects CDs, and she hasn't changed at all (including age) twenty years later, then she'll be Twenty Years Behind. See also Pac Man Fever, Totally Radical, Popularity Polynomial, and Twenty Minutes into the Future. Contrast Present Day Past, Anachronism Stew, and Purely Aesthetic Era. An Unintentional Period Piece is what results when, instead of being behind the times, a work of fiction is all too obviously of its time. Disco Dan is a character who personifies this trope.
open/close all folders
- Chuck E. Cheese kept running the same commercials from the early 1990s until very late in the 2000s. And Chuck was still in his not-fooling-anyone skater drag until 2012, when he was finally given a much-needed makeover.
- The incredibly '80s commercials for the toy Skip-It remained on TV from the late '80s all the way through the '90s, perhaps because it was such an Ear Worm.
- The original Baby Bottle Pop commercial, from 1998 mind you, looks like it's straight out of 1988. Made even worse by the fact that the commercial ran into the early 2000s.
- TV spots for the Brooklyn, NY area burger joint Roll N Roaster have run in a mostly unedited form for about forty years. You can see it here. Unfortunately, the waitstaff no longer wear berets.
- A 1995 commercial for Eggo Cinnamon Toast Waffles exemplifies this trope to a tee. In it, a kid suggests combining his school with a music video. What follows is a school with its kids dressed at least a decade out of date, wearing spandex and ridiculous amounts of hairspray, topped off with a voiceover by a Joey Ramone soundalike. If the advertisers did their research regarding what was hip when the ad came out, the boys would've all had Kurt Cobain haircuts and dirty clothes. The girls, meanwhile, would've either cut their hair really short or dressed like Cher Horowitz. Of course, these styles were in the mid-1990s still popular in many parts of the American Midwest, which is supposedly where the "average" American consumer lives; hell, in some cases those styles are still popular in the Midwest today.
- Microsoft's "Child of the 90's" ad for Internet Explorer relies entirely on associating the product with all the stuff from the 90's that people are nostalgic for nowadays, in lieu of actually saying anything about Internet Explorer.note The commercial ends saying that Internet Explorer has grown up (along with the audience) since the '90s — which runs sort of contrary to the nostalgia indulgence that the rest of the commercial glorifies.
- Advertisements in the 2000s which wanted to play on family and nostalgia would often use a 8mm home movies look, with shaky camera work along with film scratches and grain. However the adults in the advertisement would have been kids in the 80s and 90s, when video cameras were more common.
- Averted in this Taco Bell commercial. This guy's been stuck in 1984 and decides to get with the times.
- Captain Birdseye has used the same old-fashioned grey bearded sea captain for decades on their logo. For a short while during the 1990s they gave the character a more trendy, updated look and replaced him by a much younger man. The make-over didn't catch on and they soon returned to the old captain again.
- Israeli advertisements aimed at children used the word madlikHebrew , ‘radical’, for years after it went entirely obsolete in actual spoken Hebrew.
- The Renaissance also embodies this trope. 15th and 16th century painters and sculptors all starting making art that depicted scenes from Ancient Greek and Roman times, literally 15 centuries behind!
- Gustave Doré lived in the 19th century, but his illustrations all show a romanticized versions of older centuries, be it Medieval times (The Divine Comedy, the fairy tales of Charles Perrault), 16th century (Don Quixote), the 17th century (The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) or the Antiquity (The Bible).
- Dutch 20th century illustrator Anton Pieck was enormously old-fashioned. He drew pictures and paintings of 19th century life, while actually living in the 20th century! He lived well until 1987, though many people assumed he already died a century earlier because all his art reflected that time period. Pieck still used printing techniques from the 1800s and didn't own a television, nor a radio!
- Paintings by fantasy artist Larry Elmore almost always feature characters with 1980s hairstyles, even if said painting was created in the 1990s or 2000s.
- Marvel Comics' disco-themed Dazzler (a.k.a., sometimes "The Disco Dazzler") got her solo series in 1981... by which point disco was considered, well, Deader Than Disco.
- You're not going to understand half the jokes in Scott Pilgrim unless you're familiar with early video game titles for the NES & the Sega Genesis. This was a common critique of The Movie.
- A common criticism of DC Comics's New 52 (2011) is how much is reminded some readers of the early 1990s Dark Age. The talent on most New 52 books was and remains heavy on 1990s stalwarts like Jim Lee, Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Brett Booth, and even Rob Liefeld. Special mention should go to George Perez, whose work on "World's Finest" didn't look so hot due to his clearly not taking modern digital inking and coloring into account. Not to mention incorporating Wildstorm characters into the DC Universe, such as Zealot, Voodoo, Fairchild and Grifter. Another example is that many of the costumes have more of a uniform and armored look (despite the separate origins of Justice League members, the members all have similar collars), Superman and Wonder Woman are far more aggressive, and everyone appears more youthful.
- Green Lantern and Red Lanterns #28 were sold together as a "flip comic", a frequent gimmick of the '90s.
- Speedball was essentially a silver age comic created by Steve Ditko in 1988. The character fared somewhat better in The New Warriors.
- Appeared in some comics of the 1990s, with some of Bruce Wayne's high-society friends still saying "old boy" and other faux-British expressions, even though it hadn't been fashionable to say such things since the 1930s at the latest. Of course, since Wayne is a Rich Idiot with No Day Job and his friends are largely Upper-Class Twits, this was probably just satire.
- Nightwing's original costume was heavily disco inspired despite being in the '80s, well after disco fell out of fashion.
- Tintin: Despite moving along with the times in general the comic strip still had Tintin wear his old plusfour pants up until the penultimate album. Only in "Tintin and the Picaros" (1975), the final book in the series, do we see Tintin wearing modern jeans trousers.
- Lucky Luke: The comic strip is more or less a satire of western movies, especially the classics by John Ford and Sergio Leone. Morris never liked the westerns that were made after the 1960s, when political correctness stepped in and many of the ancient stereotypes were removed for a more realistic and historically accurate approach of the Wild West. Thus many of the later Lucky Luke albums are still referring to western movie iconography that died out since the sixties and western films most of his younger audiences have never seen.
- Piet Pienter en Bert Bibber: This comic strip was made in The Fifties and despite being in syndication for four decades it remained frozen in the 1950s. The characters, fashions, backgrounds... everything!
- Many newspaper comics are legacy Long Runners to the extent that pop culture references might be Three Decades Behind, while styles of clothing (especially if meant to denote a character type, such as Beetle Bailey's Rocky being "the rocker", or even the attire and props of a one-off background character) can be Five or Six Decades Behind, an example of The Artifact. Beetle Bailey is also notable for the way the military equipment is frozen in about 1952. Beetle and his fellow soldiers still wear M1 helmets and carry Garand rifles with bayonets instead of M16s. Sarge wears a garrison cap, which hasn't been official Army headgear since 2004.
- Hi and Lois:
- A 2012 strip (in which Dad indulges in a little in-my-day lecturing to teenage son Chip while listening to old vinyl records) prompted some discussion on The Comics Curmudgeon about how implausible such a gag is in 2012, since vinyl stopped being the dominant music format some three decades prior, which should make Dad a lot older than the fortyish guy he's depicted as to have amassed such a collection in his youth.
- Another one depicts Chip's room with posters of Bob Dylan, The Who, and Led Zeppelin. The room's cleanliness prompts his mother to ask him "Have you seen my son?!" but as the Comics Curmudgeon commentary puts it, "This guy is your Dad."
- Similarly, in Curtis, the title character idolizes rappers while his father has nothing but disdain for "that rap junk". The elder Wilkinses, though, seem to be in their early forties, meaning that they would have been kids when rap first became popular. Styles have changed, but the strip doesn't go into those nuances.
- The Family Circus seems to languish in a world as much as six decades behind, with a brand of humor that makes Full House seem edgy. For instance, one March 2014 strip features the mother scolding her child for calling her "dude" and telling her to "chill out". Perhaps the Eighties are finally beginning to set in for the strip after all.
- Foxtrot: Walking Techbane and Bumbling Dad Roger Fox has been described as "still trying to catch up with the technology of the seventies". Made worse by Comic-Book Time, since by now he'd have been born in the seventies.
- Another strange example is that many strips depicted the lawn being mowed by a manual cylindrical mower, even though both motorized push mowers and riding mowers were already commonplace long before the strip began in the late 80's.
- In some Calvin and Hobbes strips (drawn between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s), Dad was seen going to work sporting a black hat (either a fedora or a homburg, from the looks of it), although men his age hadn't been seen with hats since the early 1960s at the latest. Occasionally he'd wear a Conspicuous Trenchcoat as well, but at least that was only on cold days. Mom, meanwhile, was once shown doing housework in Capri pants, a short-sleeved dress shirt, and a "Rosie the Riveter" head-scarf. Calvin's fantasies would also at times show men wearing fedoras and women with heavy lipstick, but at least those could be explained as Imagine Spots.
- Lampshaded in a Garfield comic:
1978!Garfield: I hear a lot has happened since 1978.2003!Garfield: Like what?1978!Garfield: I hear Disco died.*Jon disco-dances by*2003!Garfield: Not in this house!
Films — Live-Action
- Parodied in Airplane: News reporters still wear fedoras in 1979-1980, a pair of nuns is seen in traditional (pre-Vatican II, which concluded in 1965) garb, a character tells his wife over the phone to stop having the milkman deliver cheese to their doorstep (milkmen having become scarce since the 1960s, when supermarkets took over American life), and a number of male characters display embarrassingly sexist attitudes that, while undoubtedly still present in the late '70s, were nowhere as socially appropriate as the movie makes them seem. Most jarringly, Striker's flashbacks to what would logically be the Vietnam War include shots of World War I triplanes and even a pre-Wright-Brothers whirlygig. Despite that, the jukebox in his flashback plays The Bee Gees.
- Notoriously, Tim Burton's two Batman films depicted Gotham City being four decades behind. Even though it's clear from the context that the stories are occurring during about the last decade of the 20th century, newspapers still cost about 25 cents, a chemical plant still dumps its toxic waste in the river, suburbs are nonexistent (except for Wayne Manor, of course), the town is without solar or even nuclear power, women still have no way to fight back against discrimination in the workplace, fedoras and late-1940s "New Look" dresses are everywhere, criminals fire Thompson submachine guns — and while the cars are at least contemporary, Bruce Wayne thinks nothing of having Alfred drive him around in a very old-fashioned 1930s Rolls-Royce. Some of this can, of course, be justified by Purely Aesthetic Era.
- For One More Day has flashbacks that portray the main character being a child in what appears to be The Fifties. However, he is played by a 41-year-old Michael Imperioli (born in 1966) who doesn't look at all like someone in his '60s. You could argue that the film isn't set in The Present Day (after all, Imperioli uses a rather old car and a pay phone), but a flashback to nine years earlier shows him working in an office with fairly new-looking computers.
- The Craft, released in 1996, has one teenager refer to another as looking like Loni Anderson, who was best known during the 1970s. The comparison was true, however. Also, the popular girl is openly racist, and her friends seem to be as well. At the very least, they back her up. This would not happen in the '90s at any school, let alone the affluent California school in the film.
- Check out some of the Disney live-action comedies from the 1970s, where it's Still The Fifties: milk is still delivered to doorsteps; women are still housewives; and the chances of seeing any hippies, punks, or glam rockers are slim to none. Heck, in many cases the sideburns on the male characters aren't even that long! Occasionally the writers would slip in something Totally Radical, but that worked about as well as you'd expect. This trope applies to the actual subject matter of the Disney films in question as well as their trappings: Disney didn't release its first PG-rated film (The Black Hole) until 1979, more than a decade after the current G-to-R rating system was introduced. Children who watch these films (and remember, these are some of the first live-action films they see) often end up assuming that hardly any big change happened in the '60s and '70s. This still happens (or, until the mid-2000s, still happened), but by then it was intentional and often an Affectionate Parody of the phenomenon. One reason given for this is that Walt Disney and his immediate successors were very old-fashioned (and, according to some accounts, even reactionary) even for their time, and were always a step or two behind the rest of Hollywood.
- A good example of the above? Look no further than The Shaggy D.A. (1976) It's a sequel to The Shaggy Dog, filmed in the late 1950s, which was about a teenage boy who was turned into a sheepdog by an ancient curse. In The Shaggy D.A., he is now in his thirties and is an aspiring politician. But to judge by the clothes the characters wear, the cars they drive and so forth, you'd think that curse had not only given that kid dog DNA, but caused him to age 17 years in less than a third of the time.
- A common comment of the original Fright Night (1985) is that despite its Eighties setting it feels very much like the Fifties with the way it portrays teens and the way they act and speak. Aided by the fact that the monsters are heavily inspired by Hammer Horror films from the 1950s. Though the soundtrack is very distinctly '80s, with bands like April Wine and Autograph.
- If it weren't for the computers and a few other things, you would swear that Hot Rod takes place in the 1980s.
- As often happens with portrayals of ice hockey in U.S. media for some reason, The Love Guru did this through Justin Timberlake's character. His Jason Voorhees style goalie mask was about thirty years out of date, as was his personal appearance.
- Killer Klowns from Outer Space, despite being released in 1988, has a very 1950s vibe to it. Likely done on purpose as the film was meant as an homage to horror films of the 50s. True, the teenagers are decked out in "cool" '80s fashions, but their "gee-whiz" attitudes hearken back to the '50s.
- The date on Royal's tombstone being listed as "2001" is likely to be a surprise during one's first viewing of The Royal Tenenbaums, which otherwise looks to be set somewhere between 1976 and 1984.
- The Way Way Back does this deliberately, lampshades it and plays with it in almost every possible way.
- Played with in Napoleon Dynamite: While the movie is stated to be set in 2004 (present-day at the time of shooting), almost every character's fashion sense seems to be stuck in the eighties or even seventies, Napoleon uses his trusty Walkman to great effect, a fair deal of 80s music is heard (Alphaville's "Forever Young", Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" etc.) and cordless phones (not to mention cellphones) are absent. Clearly overlaps with Anachronism Stew, since Kip is stated to chat online with "chicks" via a 90s style dial-up connection (as pointed out by Uncle Rico) on a computer which uses floppy disks as a storage medium and Summer uses a Backstreet Boys song to accompany her election skit. When the film's writers were asked when the story was set, they replied: "Idaho."
- It's unclear what year the film Hesher is set in (the film itself was released in 2010). But the clothing, dialogue, and automobiles make it feel like it's set in either the late 1980s or early 1990s.
- The short film Rock: It's Your Decision, though set in 1982, feels like it came out about two decades too late, what with its entire message of rock and roll being a tool of Satan worshippers — as well as the whole "rock and roll teen vs. parent who just doesn't get it" trope, which was mostly dead by the early 70s, showing up early in the film. Even Brad Jones questioned in an episode of his DVD-R Hell series why the film was being made in 1982, when its messages were pretty much moot even in 1982.
- Watching the first few scenes of Footloose (1984), you'll be forgiven for thinking the story takes place in the 1950s instead of the 1980s, based on the way the teenagers are dressed and the small-town pastor's sermons against the evils of rock music, as well as apparently every kind of music except for classical music. (Heck, even country music is implied to be too wild for this town!) The sermons, at least, were Truth in Television, since the movie was based on a real-life court case.
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off, a 1980s comedy in which Ferris and his friends create a sing-and-dance routine in the middle of the city where the song of choice is the 1960s song Twist & Shout.
- Quadrophenia (1979) cannot seem to decide whether its set during the Sixties or when it was actually made during the Mod revival in 1979. For example, the characters have their weekly bath at the local bath-house (which would have been common in inner-city areas in the early Sixties yet by the late 1970s, most houses in Britain actually had bathrooms and such community facilities had nearly all been converted or closed) — and then go home through the streets of contemporary West London.
- In Twilight, it appears that Bella lives in the early nineties where they don't have pop-up blockers yet. Justified, since she is also supposed to live in the town where time stood still and is implied to be Hopeless with Tech. And the clothing, especially Bella's, likewise seems to be 90s-era Grunge. Though that might not be very surprising, considering it's set in some podunk town in Washington state, which is where the whole Grunge scene got kick-started.
- The Venus Prime series was first released in the late 90s and is set maybe 200 years into the future... but its vision of the future is based on the technology and political realities of the 80s, when Paul Preuss began working on a text-game adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's Catching Strain that never got off the ground (the script from that game became the basis for the first novel.)
- Children's and Young Adult books from the 1980s and early 1990s sometimes feel this way. In many cases, the social mores seem more in line with the 1950s-1960s than the time in which the books take place. For example, many books from that time period will have characters shocked by divorce, or have people be shocked by a mother working outside the home.
- It is possible that the phrase "Get down with your bad self" has never been uttered without irony in real life, but if it was, it was certainly many years prior to the mid to late '90s, which is when the phrase started being uttered by any sitcom character that was trying to sound cool.
- Spoofed with the Robin Sparkles videos in How I Met Your Mother, which were supposedly from the mid-1990s but look as if they were made in 1986. Robin explains that "The '80s didn't come to Canada until 1993."
- Shawn and Gus do this very self-consciously on Psych, where it's obviously supposed to be an In-Universe character quirk (other characters often call them out on it), but in the Class Reunion episode, their reunion seemed to be playing an awful lot of '80s music, given that they graduated in 1995. Even worse, Shawn and Gus are Californians, and the Golden State made the transition from the '80s to the '90s pretty darn quickly. In fact, by 1995 the '80s were already retro in the minds of many California teenagers!
- Camden in My Name Is Earl seems to be stuck in the late '80s or early '90s, even though that time was at least 10-15 years before the start of the series.
- Many family sitcoms, well into the early-'90s (case in point: just about any TGIF show on ABC), continued to play into cultural tropes and stereotypes that were more-or-less obsolete by then. Such as the old "rock and roll teenager versus bitter/culturally unaware parent" conflict of the '60s and early-'70s (see also Rock: It's Your Decision, above). By the early '90s, most real-life children had baby boomer parents who were every bit as "rockin'!" as they were. And from the 2000s onward, Baby Boomers were old enough to be grandparents — which meant the new "timely" generation clash was to give the teenager Amazingly Embarrassing Hippie Parents.
- This actually got a lampshade on Full House, of all places. In one episode Danny said he wanted to impress DJ and her schoolmates by performing The Who's "My Generation", which he described as an anthem of teenage rebellion. Jesse agreed, and then pointed out that it was also a teenage rebellion song in the '60s.
- British TV comedy Butterflies is a prime example of this: a classic sitcom of middle-class suburban manners in which an aloof dentist is married to a dissatisfied housewife who dithers on the brink of an affair. They have two sons, meant to be hip and fashionable. But who in 1974 speak youth-argot which would have been dated even in 1964.
- Inverted on M*A*S*H; while the show was set in the '50s, the attitudes and fashions (that hair!) of the characters was much more reflective of the '70s, when the show was filmed.note
- Done intentionally in Flight of the Conchords, where all the media from New Zealand is several decades behind the times. Their technology is also several decades out of date, to the point that they are currently running TV ads for "the telephone."
- Meta Guy Abed on Community makes non-stop '80s references, with some stretching back from the late '70s and occasionally forward into the early '90s. This is despite Abed being in his early/mid twenties, and as such his reference pool should be mostly from works in the late '90s onwards. The real reason is that the creator of the show Dan Harmon was born in 1973 and thus his reference pool is mostly works from the '80s. The best example of this is that Abed has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Whos The Boss, despite the fact that the show would have started before Abed was born, and finished before Abed would have started pre-school. The show has lampshaded the oddity of Abed's reference pool but it still stands out as unusual. But not too unusual. The '90s, particularly early on, was the height of cable TV and reruns, and so many kids in the '90s found themselves watching shows that hadn't aired new episodes since 1989, to the point where someone who was born in '92 could easily be familiar with Who's the Boss. Add to that the fact that Abed is TV Tropes on wheels, and it holds up that as a kid he could have gone out of his way to watch shows whether they were new or not.
- There are still some things that make no sense, like Abed using 2nd edition D&D — it's what Harmon would have played, but someone Abed's age would be more familiar with 3.5 or 4e.
- The premise of Portlandia, as explained in the debut episode's first sketch, is that Portland, Oregon is still stuck in The '90s.
- The Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey seems to dress this way... that is, one or two decades behind the show's 1910s setting. When the second series wraps up at the brink of the Roaring Twenties (with Lady Mary mentioning "the boy's haircuts they're wearing in Paris"), the Dowager is finally catching up to the fashions from the beginning of the show (in 1912).
- Referenced in Arrested Development. When performing as part of Tobias' band, Lyndsey complains about being dressed like it's The Sixties stating "It's the twenty-first century. We should be dressed like it's The '80s".
- Played with on Chuck. Casey keeps a photograph of Ronald Reagan in his apartment which he salutes at every opportunity (though it's also a bit of Actor Allusion, as actor Adam Baldwin actually is a huge fan of President Reagan's in Real Life), to the point where Beckman reminds him that "the '80s are over." Most of the references to music, television, films and video games are also centered around the period from the late-'70s to early-'90s, during the time in which the characters (and the actors and the show-runners) grew up.
- Parodied on The Colbert Report in the April 26, 2012 episode. Stephen talks about how he can relate to today's youth much better than Barack Obama. He says things like "Turn off your Atari, Obama, because the game is over" and "They know I'm young because I always carry around a full deck of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and I love the Power Rangers."
Stephen: We stick with these 40-year-old battles because they are comfortable and familiar. We know how to take sides in these arguments, besides if we didn't we'd have to address the problems of the present and who wants to do that? Those things are monsters!
- Stephen discussed this trope during the 2008 Democratic National Convention, as pundits tried to wonder what prominent figures from The Sixties, like Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., would think about then-nominee Barack Obama.
- Saved by the Bell fell victim to this by about its final season (1992-1993), as the costuming and set design were firmly rooted in a hyper-idealized early-eighties, although some have speculated that it might have been partially intentional. Some wonder if they didn't hang on to the bright and colorful eighties look over the grim and drab nineties simply to grab kids attention while flipping through the channels.
- Star Trek:
- Star Trek: The Next Generation clung to its vivid '80s hairstyles and decor well into the 1990s. This in itself isn't so noticeable (not counting the getup on Tasha Yar's sister). However, Star Trek: Voyager began as a semi-continuation of that show, with costumes/sets redressed from the TNG era. This had the unfortunate effect of making VOY's aesthetics seem oddly retro in the late nineties. Throw in a quasi-religious devotion to past continuity, and you wound up with a 24th-century Earth where everyone dresses like they've come back from Woodstock (a relic from Gene Roddenberry's time).
- An in-universe example occurs in Star Trek: Voyager, as Starfleet changed their uniforms after Voyager was stranded in the Delta Quadrant. Even after establishing long-range communication with Earth, they still continued to wear the old-style uniforms.
- This can be handwaved aside with the theory that the reason they didn't switch over was due to energy conservation (it's noted they limit everyone's holodeck time due to wanting to save energy) and not wanting to replicate more clothes than they needed to, and while the crew still has useable uniforms in the old style, it's not worth replicating new clothes for everyone. If crew members do need new uniforms, it's easier to keep using the old style until they get home, and everyone can get the new style at once so the crew doesn't look mismatched.
- Frasier's portrayal of talk radio represents the climate of the 70's and 80's, before the politicization of the medium sparked by the launch of Rush Limbaugh and the subsequent flood of imitators.
- Guy Fieri, host of The Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, seems to have just gotten off the bus from 1995.
- Mickey Pearce in Only Fools and Horses, best known for his fondness for wearing Zoot Suits. Not too unusual in 1983 when he made his first appearance, but as the show entered the 90's and 00's, it became a Running Gag that his sense of fashion was seemingly locked in the 80's and refused to budge.
- Sex and the City:
- Invoked in the episode where the characters go to Staten Island for the night, to some function where they dance to disco classics. Carrie's closing voiceover says it reminds her of going to Europe because all the music is at least twenty years old. What's really strange is, if you assume that Carrie Bradshaw is no older than Sarah Jessica Parker (born 1965), she'd be too young to really remember the disco craze. Also, the idea that Europe is that much decades behind also shows the characters's ignorance.
- In a later episode, Samantha's young assistant says that the difference between them is that while Samantha waited on line to get into Studio 54, she waited on line to get into Studio 54—the movie.
- Understandable due to the Walt Disney Company's longtime moral standards, but on the early '90s Disney-aired (but Canadian-produced) children's show Under the Umbrella Tree, Iggy the Iguana, a fan of rap music, was still listening to relatively innocent '80s-style rap (think Beastie Boys) in 1991, even though gangsta rap was rapidly gaining popularity by that time. Since the show began production in 1986, this can easily be dismissed.
- In Supernatural, Dean listens to music from the '70s and '80s on his collection of cassette tapes, while driving his late-'60s muscle car. It's a shaky example, as Dean has a strong emotional attachment to his car and simply likes the older music, but it's less clear why he thinks Sam installing an iPod jack is heresy.
- In an episode of The Golden Girls, Blanche accidentally gives away Rose's teddy bear to an evil little girl scout who holds it for ransom. Dorothy gets fed up and threatens to call The School for Bad Girls, who would put her in a sack and take her away, and finishes with, "and you will never eat ice cream or play jump rope again!!!" Funny scene, but the episode was made in 1987, and jumping rope was no longer standard "little girl" behavior. It would have been when Dorothy was a little girl, though.
- American TV in general lags about two decades behind mainstream American culture's acceptance of LGBT people, feminism and racial issues. Take for instance many TV sitcoms from the 1950s and 1960s. The characters were still using basic concepts that were popular stock clichés in radio comedies from the 1930s and 1940s (the nagging wife, the threat of the mother-in-law coming to visit...) and new trends from the decade itself like rock 'n' roll, rebellious teenagers, the Afro-American civil rights movement, the Cold War and Playboy Magazine are literally never spoken of. (An exception was The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, on which they eventually had to discuss rock music because Ricky was playing it semi-regularly — and they did, albeit only perfunctorily.) Indeed, if a sitcom is about black people, guaranteed there will be a racism-themed episode, or several, and the racist will generally be shown to be fairly open about it, or at least making assumptions about black people that few people if any hold anymore. If the sitcom is gay-themed, at least once if not multiple times, the gay character will run into an openly intolerant person, a crazed fundamentalist or have a family member express confusion or intolerance, again, openly. Feminists are a bit of a mixed bag. Some shows with a female lead still behave as if sexist rules of society still exist (such as a woman being turned down for a promotion because of her sex, something which would today lead to an easily won gender discrimination lawsuit) but others make fun of feminists themselves, portraying them as rabid harpies who behave as though gender equality hasn't advanced in over a century. Neither approach shows male-female relations in a great light.
- Television also drags its feet when it comes to theme songs, which tend to be at least five years behind the times in terms of pop genre. Thus shows from the 1950s have 1940s big-band and classical (the latter being Newer Than They Think in some cases) themes; shows from the '60s have '50s jazz themes, with lots of blaring horns and bopping bongo drums; '70s shows have (very watered-down) '60s funk-rock; shows from the early-to-mid (and in extreme cases even the late!) '80s have '70s disco on their soundtracks, etc.
- Sandy and Kirsten Cohen are in their late thirties early forties during the run of The O.C. (2003-2007) but their backgrounds make more sense for people who went to university in the mid to late 1960s than the early 1980s. Sandy in particular has strong ties to the counterculture, there are frequent mentions of their Hippie phase at Berkley and even their family backgrounds (blue collar Brooklyn Jew and WASP debutante respectively) were rather old fashioned by their generation. (For one thing, Brooklyn is a lot less "blue-collar" than it used to be.)
- In The Honeymooners, the Kramdens' apartment is relatively antiquated, with an old sink and an icebox, as though it hadn't changed one bit in forty years. Alice continuously complains about how they have no modern amenities, because Ralph is too cheap for them.
Alice: (to Ralph) To you, this place looks like George Washington's birthplace or something: it has to be preserved exactly as it was. You know what it looks like to me? It's more like Abraham Lincoln's birthplace.
- Oddly present on Wheel of Fortune. Puzzles pertaining to popular culture (such as the categories Song Title, Song Lyrics, Movie Title, etc.) will usually have the answer be something from the 70s or 80s. Modern pop culture has been referenced very rarely in puzzle answers since the mid-2000s, and categories that have relied most frequently on contemporary pop culture (such as Headline or Star & Role) can go entire seasons without use. However, the Classic TV category is almost entirely MIA too...
- This may be because older songs from the 70's and 80's are more widely known and established than more contemporary songs. Even among people who are otherwise great at keeping up with modern day pop culture, songs that are already-established standards are usually easier to spot than songs that are only a few years old. A lot of sitcoms and dramas are also very conservative about referencing more recent music for the exact same reason.
- Oldies and classic rock stations draw a surprisingly large number of teenagers and college students. This is most likely because, unlike the genres it succeeded (Big Band, brassy wartime music, etc.), rock and roll never garnered any kind of backlash from the generations its proponents birthed; of course, rock and roll also never ended, so any backlash against it wouldn't have achieved much. The Beatles, in particular, have gone on to almost-equally appeal to just about every generation from the boomers onward.
- Most current-hits stations play a modified playlist during the noon hour on weekdays when teens are assumed to be in school without access to a radio while college students and working-age adults are tuning in during lunch. It's usually stuff not quite old enough to make the jump to classic/oldies formats. Also, old rock songs are still heard everywhere, from commercials, TV episodes to films, and thus many youngsters are more familiar with them than big band jazz. Most of them would probably be amazed how old some of these pop songs already are.
- As noted above, the tendency of the "dominant" generation, once in their forties and fifties, to drive "nostalgia booms" where a musical genre from their youth is resurrected. The punk rock era of the middle-late 1970's also saw a resurgence in 1950's rock'n'roll styled artistes, who could appear on the same Top of the Pops billing as the punk rockers. Acts like Darts and Showaddywaddy, in DA quiffs and the full teddy-boy rigs performing Fifties-themed songs, looked oddly anachronistic next to music/The Clash and The Buzzcocks.
- The Bowling for Soup song "1985" is about a woman whose tastes are still stuck in the 1980s, which are contrasted with some very dated "current" styles from the 1990s.
- Used intentionally in "Last Friday Night" by Katy Perry.
- The videos for The Lonely Island songs for "Dick in a Box", "Motherlovers," and "3-Way" go straight for the full '90s style. The clothes, the hair, the interior decorations, and even the backgrounds in the outdoor shots are as '90s as possible.
- '80s style Synth Pop is still big in Europe, particularly in Germany. While the style faded out of popularity in the U.S., there it branched out into EBM and futurepop, still retaining a very '80s feel in most cases. Makes sense because that's where the style really originated.
- Power metal is still very popular in some areas. Scandinavia in particular is home to many bands whose style derives from 80's metal bands like Scorpions.
- The Eurovision Song Contest is often about twenty years behind what is actually popular in Europe simply to garner as much mass appeal as possible (and perhaps for the Camp factor).
- Fifties revival bands like Showaddywaddy and Darts were big in Britain in the Seventies.
- An early phase of Jamaican music, ska, was very popular on the island between 1962 and 1965. When the craze died out reggae came in its place and many Jamaicans felt it was old-fashioned ever since. In England ska has remained popular until deep in the 1980s.
- In the Eighties, every Indie band wanted to be either the Velvet Underground or The Byrds. Some particularly enterprising bands wanted to be both.
- In The '90s, every Grunge band wanted to be Black Sabbath. In The Oughts, every indie band wanted to be Joy Division or Gang of Four.
- The oldest songs that modern Country Music stations will play are generally from the '90s, with the new material almost indistinguishable from the old. In fact, the nostalgia is a big selling point of the music, with longing for a simpler time a common lyrical theme. There's also another reason for this; in the early '90s there was a massive shift of pop performers over to country while the previously separate Southern Rock was rolled in and the linked Western genre was almost completely abandoned. This changed the entire sound of the Top 40 part of the genre. Go back further than that and the music is completely different.
- BBC Radio Two's daytime presenter Ken Bruce has a phone in quiz called Popmaster, in which contestants are quizzed on their knowledge of pop music. Questions are randomly allocated in blocks by year or artiste, and the listener can almost always tell the age of the contestant by the decades they know best (near perfect scores) and the ones where they flounder hopelessly. It is a rare Popmaster who is as clued up on modern music as (s)he is on the music of their youth, or vice-versa.
- Pro wrestling is often said to always be about five years (or more!) behind pop-culture wise, particularly WWF/E. Thus watching any old WWF programming until about 1995 always has a very '80s feel to it. The '90s didn't really start to kick in until the Attitude Era. In modern times, a lot of the haircuts (such as Edge and Dolph Ziggler) look like they've been time-warped from 1984. And as late as the 1990s, it was thought by many fans that women couldn't wrestle, partly because of how they were portrayed on WWE programming. Then, of course, there is the deliberate Kayfabe aspect of the shows, with everyone (including the fans!) pretending that what they're seeing is real, even though pro wresting hasn't been "real" since the 1930s at the latest. One explanation might be that Vince McMahon, who has final say on everything, is such a workaholic that he is very out of touch with modern pop culture. For example, in 1992 he had no idea that Razor Ramon was directly quoting Scarface (1983) as his gimmick.
- Another example is when Paul Burchill started using a very tongue-in-cheek pirate gimmick in the mid 2000s, capitalizing on the Pirates of the Caribbean series at the height of their popularity. Vince had never heard of the series, and had thought that Burchill's gimmick was a throwback to pirate movies of the sixties and fifties. When he was told otherwise, he put the lid on the gimmick, thinking it wouldn't catch on, despite the fact that it had been getting over well for a few weeks at that point.
- Shawn Michaels was a pretty good personification of this trope all through the '90s and the 2000s, thanks to his hair, attire and ring music, which he never changed. And everybody loved it.
- Hulk Hogan had this problem in the mid-nineties, as the gimmick he had in The '80s had become old and stale. He solved it by making one of the most notable Face Heel Turns in pro-wrestling history and forming the nWo, which were decidedly Nineties (they wore a lot of black and had a "graffiti" graphique). Later when he re-joined WWE he reverted to his Eighties gimmick though, by which point it was nostalgic.
- There was also Jay Lethal's "Black Machismo" gimmick in TNA in 2010, which was literally this trope.
- Thanks to the popularity of Jerry Lawler, Memphis-based USWA was the last full-time wrestling territory in the United States and continued to produce television straight out of the early eighties, complete with MTV style music videos and cartoonish gimmicks. Alas, the Monday Night Wars inadvertently led to the death of USWA, as Mondays were traditionally the promotion's biggest gates. For fans of regional promotions, it was the End of an Age.
- Alexander Rusev is Bulgarian, but achieves most of his heel heat thanks to his manager, Lana. Billed from Moscow (though really from Florida), the two of them combined make a textbook example of a Cold War-era Foreign Wrestling Heel, and were modelled after Ivan and Ludmilla Drago of Rocky IV to really drive the point home. Unfortunately, a lot of things have changed since then, and they've had trouble connecting with audiences (it likely doesn't help that he didn't debut until after the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and with the Troubled Production of that event still fresh in people's minds, all of Lana's claims of Russian superiority fall a little flat.) Rusev and Lana later broke up, and now Rusev is back to billing himself as Bulgarian — which isn't too bad, since Americans don't tend to associate Bulgaria with any particular time period.
- BattleTech has a "future history" covering the millennium between the game's initial publication in 1984 and the 31st century. It presumes the existence of the Soviet Union well into the 21st century. This history has not been modified to take into account the collapse of the USSR, even in the most recent publications. Word of God is that BattleTech is the future of The '80s, not the future of today.
- Also subverted at the same time just given the nature of the game universe: Even though the above is true, since the players are going to be spending all of their in-game time anywhere on a spectrum of dates from AD 2525 to AD 3145 depending on group preference, the question of whether The Great Politics Mess-Up happened or not in the BattleTech universe is 99.99999% certain to never going to come into play in any given game of BattleTech.
- The comment that BattleTech is the future of The '80s more or less defines it perfect. The integral FTL communication system utilized in the setting is little more than a glorified interstellar FAX machine. Battlefield warfare and technologies are more along the lines of the early Cold War and late World War methodologies (especially in regard to weapon performance). Digitizing of mechanical components never became prevalent. When looking at the earlier editions of BattleTech, and seeing the technological fluff changes made in more recent versions, one can really see how much advances made in the 90's really changed society.
- The 2014 Festigal has a song called ‘The Selfie Song’. It has some outdated slang, breakdancing (which hasn’t been in vogue in Israel since The Noughties), cheesy ‘90s-style abundance of clashing colours, a misinterpretation of ‘selfie’ as a picture in a particular pose (tongue sticking out with a wide smile, shot from above), mentioning a children’s show that hasn’t aired in years, ending with a New Media Are Evil message. Naturally, the song got negative reviews all around.
- For all the grief The Simpsons gets for this (see further down), it can be right on in mocking this in some contexts. The "Special Edna" episode from the 14th season has the characters visiting Disney World and EPCOT Center, where Marge and Lisa go on the "World of Tomorrow" ride: '"what the people in 1965 thought the world would be like in 1987." It shows movies of giant robots with the Eastern Airlines logo enslaving people and taking over the world — a perfect parody of the Tomorrowland aesthetic.
- Metal Gear's vision of Twenty Minutes into the Future (and even The Sixties and The '70s, to some extent) is mostly based on late Eighties and Nineties sci-fi movies — things like Total Recall (1990), Max Headroom and Blade Runner. The visual aesthetic, the fashionable clothes and body types (not to mention the hairstyles on the men), the politics, the themes, the Shout Outs and the sense of humour are all based on that tradition. Part of this is Zeerust Canon and is why Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty moved away from the aesthetic a little, but Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots goes back the other way and invokes it as deliberate Zeerust.
- The Phillips CD-I game Hotel Mario played a lot like a simple 80's arcade game. When The Angry Video Game Nerd reviewed it he said it would have been a better game if it had come out ten years earlier (it came out in 1994).
- Similarly, by many accounts Duke Nukem Forever could have been a fine game if it had actually come out when it was supposed to. Instead, it features gameplay design elements from the mid-2000s, not updated to fit the trends of the current times.
- Though set in the 1990s and made in 1994, the world of EarthBound still bears more resemblance to the eighties. No-one seems to have personal computers, some of the language (in the English version) falls into Totally Radical territory, and Ness's attire isn't all that different from that of his predecessor Ninten, whose game actually was set and made in the eighties; most other characters' attire is also quite eighties-like.
- Done deliberately in Bully. While set in the present day, the greaser gang looks like it stepped out of American Graffiti or West Side Story, the cars look like they're from The '80s, the computers look like they're from The '90s at the latest, and nobody has an MP3 player or a cellphone (though it is mentioned that they're banned at Bullworth High School). Word of God is that this was deliberate, so as to not date the game to a particular era. Their intention was to make the setting nostalgic for the childhood of a wide range of age demographics.
- It's very common for older game reviewers to fall back on popular cliches and stereotypes in their reviews, even long after they've been discredited. For example, many reviewers still describe gamers as "basement dwelling teenage outcasts," even though it's been decades since video games had that stigma attached to them (if they ever did to begin with). Lampshaded in this IGN article.
- The Ace Attorney games were created in 2001, but take place in 2016 onwards — yet you wouldn't think so at first. They seem more to be Four Decades Behind and think they're still working on 1980 — 1990 technology because their world still has the regular old cellphones with MIDI-formatted ringtones instead of smartphones, pictures are still taken via film and not digital cameras and the pictures all come out in black and white. Phone booths also seem to be still around. Despite majority of these things having already disappeared by the time the games were made.
- A lot of the guys' hairstyles early in El Goonish Shive are very '90s (but probably were still in style in 2002). Buried within the strip's Art Evolution, Elliot's mullet and Justin's two-level bowlcut have been changed to styles which are less Frozen in Time, while Tedd's iconic, grape-jelly colored shoulder-length curtains stayed for years until he gave himself an Important Haircut.
- In a strip of Peter and Company, Peter claims to have spent his youth playing 1980s LCD games, even though he was born 20 years too late to have done so.
- Mocked in a strip of Shortpacked!.
- Ménage à 3, and its spin off Sticky Dilly Buns, are about casts of twenty-somethings — whose musical tastes (and chosen styles when they play music themselves) tend towards things like Glam Rock and Classic Rock, despite claims that one lead character is a "punk rock chick". Some characters might just have retro tastes, but this seems to be a consistent pattern. Likewise, at least one character references TV shows such as Three's Company, Magnum, P.I., Columbo, and Kojak. It's a reasonable guess that the writers are older than their characters. Gisele Lagacé, the author of both comics, was once part of a glam rock band herself.note . A strong case of Write What You Know.
- Survival of the Fittest's v4 prom had started out with this trope, because much of the music requested early on consisted of '80s releases.
- This trope is discussed in the article, "7 Ridiculously Outdated Assumptions Every Movie Makes". The example that most fits this is #2, which discusses how high school pranks are often seen as extremely funny in movies, but in real life nowadays students will get arrested for less. Pre-Columbine, the pranks would not have been perceived this way. But even pre-Columbine, there was far less tolerance for high school pranks than there used to be. This is due mostly to the birth of the Self-Esteem Generation (basically anybody born from about 1975 to 1995 was a part of this), the various child/teen-related social issues that sprung up during the '80s (AIDS, molestation, etc.), and the fact that by about 1980 school teachers could no longer enforce physical punishment on students. In fact, one of the central points of Dazed and Confused (made in 1993) is to glorify the comparable freedom teenagers had during the mid-'70s.
- Cracked itself might actually count as an example. Since the majority of their writers and their audience are in the late-'20s and early-'30s demographic, the majority of their articles reference Eighties pop culture, with references to the likes of He-Man, ThunderCats, and the Eighties versions of Transformers and the like.
- Ironically, the site The New Gay, active from 2007 to 2011, was devoted to critiquing a "mainstream" gay culture that had died out by the early eighties. As far as one could tell from that site, the intervening quarter century of gay culture had not happened.
- This page! Look over it and notice that most of the examples here are from the 1980s and 1990s, because that's when most tropers were growing up.
- The NSA website for kids is an egregious example. Clicking through you'd think the site was created in the late '90s, because the cartoon mascots and graphics were dated for 2001. Look closely— this site was made in 2010, and has presumably been updated at some point between then and this writing (in 2014).
- The /r/music subreddit is widely derided for its focus on classic rock.
- Numerous Western Animation series in the 1990s and early 2000s, including Daria and the Hey Arnold! movie, involved an episode about a shopping mall opening or being planned in the local community. In reality, the boom in shopping mall construction was between the mid-1950s and the early 1980s, with a huge spike in shopping mall construction in the 1970s. At the time many 1990s shows featuring brand new shopping malls aired, e-commerce businesses were just beginning to gain a foothold, beginning to nudge shopping malls out of business. In the meanwhile, shopping malls were already beginning to decrease in popularity among young people. The rest is a Foregone Conclusion.
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are still Totally Radical, as well as bodacious, awesome, tubular and like, cowabunga, dude. This may be a Grandfather Clause, though. Also, in more recent adaptations, Michelangelo is the only one who's still Totally Radical, and the others usually mock him for it. In Turtles Forever the 2003 versions of the Turtles openly mocked the 1980's Turtles for it.
- In an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy where the three main characters go to a old folks' home for monsters. Dracula, Blacula, the Wolf Man and the Bride of Frankenstein are all treated as "Classic" monsters (fair enough) but the "New, Modern" monsters are Freddy and Jason. The episode aired in 2005, after several generations of horror fads had come and gone since the old supernatural slashers of the 1980s. Altough this may be partially justified in that they were portrayed more as the new classic movie monsters, and the fact that they're in the old folks's home in the first place acknowledges their age.
- Family Guy does this intentionally, as many of its gags are reliant on nostalgic pop culture references, particularly from the 1980s.
- For example, a gag in the episode "Big Man on Hippocampus" (which aired in 2010) has Richard Dawson as the current host of Family Feud (despite the fact that, outside a brief return in 1994, he hadn't hosted since 1985), John Hughes referenced at a rapid-fire pace, Macho Man Randy Savage cutting promos at live wrestling events, and O.J. Simpson's case treated like a current event. The fact that all of the high school scenes look like they're straight out of a '80s teen film might be intentional.
- In a rather weird example (to anyone who's Catholic, at least), depictions of the Pope tend to be of a rather generic guy with an Italian accent, when the last Italian Pope was John Paul I in 1978. (Pope Francis is ethnically Italian, however.)
- Quagmire's house is almost entirely Mid-Century designed.
- Betty Boop was an Older than Television example of this, being a flapper throughout The Thirties when flappers were more popular during the '20s.
- The Disney Channel's Disney BLAM, which consists of scenes from Classic Disney Shorts dubbed over with a Totally Radical narration explaining why each scene is funny, seem to be made with the idea that it's still the early Nineties.
- Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? does this seemingly intentionally, with an art style and musical sequences seemingly inspired from Schoolhouse Rock. Episodes also feature floppy disks, Rubik's cubes, and characters with Devo hats and Venetian blinds glasses, despite the show being made in the early 2000s. It even has curiously low-quality and grainy audio.
- Archer is... confusing timeline-wise. Computers look like they come from the early '80s, and the KGB still exists. Cars and planes tend to look like they come from the '60s and '70s. Meanwhile, all the characters carry up-to-the-second cellphones.
- In The Angry Beavers, the forest animals (and humans) are still stuck in The '70s.
- The Simpsons :
- One of the main problems people have with the later seasons is that, even when the show attempts to tackle current events and issues (such as social networking), it still seems stuck in the late-'80s and early-'90s with its depictions of things like family dynamics and work politics.
- And then, of course, Marge's hairstyle never changes, despite being an exaggerated version of what creator Matt Groening's own mother wore in The Sixties. Marge is a particular example; she's still a housewife, something that was already becoming outdated in the 1980s and 1990s with many women going out to work too.
- The most glaring discrepancy is that of the early years of Homer and Marge, who (according to the show's original early '90s Canon) graduated from high school in 1974 and married in 1980, with Bart being born in 1981 and Lisa about two years after that. That timeframe obviously became completely unworkable long ago, and yet flashbacks to Homer's adolescence will still show him with '70s Hair, and Marge still likes Disco music.
- Note that things got more complicated when the season 19 episode "That '90s Show" effectively retconned the timeframe of Homer's and Marge's romance as having taken place in the '90s, at the height of the Grunge-era. Yet in the following seasons, this was disregarded by the show's writers.
- The episode "The Itchy and Scratchy Movie" is also very out-dated, even when it first aired. Bart is not allowed to see the Itchy and Scratchy movie in the cinema and thus misses what seems to be the greatest movie in the world. After a while the movie theaters stop playing it and it disappears out of the public eye. Bart never manages to see the movie until Homer finally takes him to see it in the future when the local movie theater is playing it again. The phenomenon that you could only see films when they were playing in a local movie theatre and had no chance of ever seeing them again as soon as they were taken out of roulation was true in the decades before the introduction of home video. But home video was introduced near the end of the 1970s, while this Simpsons episode debuted in 1992!
- This also leads to some characters and satires that were topical in their day and non sequitur today. For instance, Dr. Hibbert, Rainier Wolfcastle, and Krusty are walking references to Bill Cosby, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bozo the Clown, still kicking around years after The Cosby Show aired its finale, Arnold switched to politics, and Bozo vanished off the face of the earth. Itchy and Scratchy too are parodies of a type of violent cat-and-mouse cartoons from the 1940s and 1950s that nowadays you don't see anymore in modern animation.
- The episode where The Who guest starred the writers also included drummer Keith Moon, despite the fact that he had already died in 1979. They were aware of this, though, and just included him as a homage to the original group. This also explains why he has no lines.
- Well into the 21st century, telephones on The Simpsons were touch-tone telephones...and that was literally the only thing modern about them. They still had cords and the dumbbell-shaped detachable headset and the "ring-a-ling-a-ling" chiming sound instead of the electronic "chirp-a-chirp-a-chirp" heard on practically all phones today. What makes this even more inexcusable is that the stereotypical "square-frog-with-elephant-ears" design that many people remember from the 1950s, '60s, and '70s was already becoming dated in 1989, when the series premiered! Of course, this could be due to The Coconut Effect: modern-day cell phones just sound too "futuristic" to be "real."
- The writing staff of the show are mostly baby boomers, including Matt Groening himself, which explains the countless 1960s and 1970s references on the show, especially targeting hippies, Nixon, the original Star Trek, The Beatles, Vietnam War and old TV series that are no longer in syndication and thus completely lost on younger audiences. References to other decades also occur, but not in the same instantly notable quantitudes.
- Bart still writing lines on the blackboard as a punishment is another example. He lampshades this in one chalkboard gag by writing: "Do children today do this anymore?"
- In all honesty: Bart, Lisa and their school friends still play outside and enjoy activities like slingshots, comic strips, building treehouses, holding soapbox derbies... that are more in line with children's games and hobbies from before television became dominant. If they would just sit in their rooms and waste their lives in front of a computer game as most kids have done since the late 1980s and early 1990s it would be a very boring show to watch.
- Before The Simpsons, this happened to the Warner Bros. cartoons, many aspects of which pay homage to other aspects of 1940s pop culture, yet were still used decades after the original source material was forgotten. Foghorn Leghorn, for instance, is based on Senator Beauregard Claghorn, a character Kenny Delmar created for Fred Allen's radio show in the late 1940s. How people respond to those shorts today — indeed, how many tropers here responded to them as children in the '70s or '80s—could tell us a lot about how The Simpsons will be appreciated come mid-century.
- South Park:
- The show also appears to fall victim to this trope. For example, Sharon Marsh and Gerald Broflovski are very stereotypical Baby Boomer parents. Even though, realistically, Stan and Kyle should have stereotypical Generation X parents, given their ages and the fact that the show takes place in the present day.
- Not to mention that most of the show's adult figures are based on those of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's own childhoods.
- The actors in the "Bloody Sunday" educational short look like they came from The '80s, but according to the copyright date at the end, it was produced in 2010.
- Spoofed in a much earlier episode, when a volcano covers much of the town with lava and the city screens a 1950s "duck-and-cover" safety short that is so hilariously useless it actually gets more townspeople killed.
- The two-part "Pandemic" episode arc, which aired in late 2008, showed Randy Marsh purchasing a video camcorder (a gadget that first went on the market in America in 1983) and obsessively recording everything, regardless of whether it is relevant or even particularly interesting, just as many consumers did in the early '80s. Of course, this does fit nicely with Randy's Man Child persona.
- In of the audio commentaries to South Park, Parker and Stone noted that the fact that Stan still phones Kyle by using a regular phone shows how old-fashioned they really are.
- Regular Show seems to be stuck in the late '80s/early '90s, judging by the technology (the crude graphics on the video games and the old Windows 95-esque computer), despite the fact the show started in the 2010s. Eventually, it was revealed that DVDs and higher tech do exist — Benson is just cheap, and Mordecai and Rigby are hipsters. Their temporary replacements do use modern smartphones.
- Adventure Time debuted in 2010, but features cell phones and video games that look straight out of The '80s. Of course, the series is set 1000 years after an apocalyptic war; technological progress may have gone in some strange directions. One proposed explanation for this is that The Mushroom War was the Cold War ending badly, explaining the '80s tech.
- Mocked in Phineas and Ferb when they were going to a '50s cars exposition and everybody dressed like in the fifties. Phineas says that in the fifties, people dressed like series from the seventies.
- Futurama: Despite being set in a far future and the despite the fact that Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew have been dead since the 1990s and Henry Kissinger is no longer politically active the series keeps poking fun at these politicians from the 1970s, as if there haven't been other mockable politicians around ever since.
- The (thankfully) canned 2004 Larry Doyle directed Looney Tunes short "My Generation G-G-Gap" is an almost literal example of this trope. Not only does it depict music and fashions that seem straight out of 1984, but it suggests that rock and roll is still somehow controversial among parents and Moral Guardians, even though it hadn't been controversial since probably the mid-late 1980's at the latest.
- Many expats working in Japan or China would complain of antiquated office equipment such as fax machines, the inaccessibility of ATMs during certain hours, or the nonuniversal nature of some cards ATMs won't accept, especially foreign ones, and extremely slow internet despite Japan being a technological mecca. China has restrictive banking of bureaucratic stamping, analog police records, and use pen and paper, and in rural China some farmers continue to use old Stalin-era tractors. More rural places don't have ATMs and everything is done with cash, or even old bronze aged merchant scales. Some Chinese live in ancient mud huts that have existed since Jesus. Shanghai's Bund apartments are still inhabitable.
- These fads often crop up at least once per decade (see also: Popularity Polynomial). In the 2000s, 1980s nostalgia became a big cultural fad, with dance clubs hosting sporadic "80's Dance Nights" and singers like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry unabashedly embracing 80's fashion and music styling. Similarly, during the 90's, 70's nostalgia swept the nation. Hence films like Dazed and Confused and the fact that, at the time, you couldn't walk into a dance hall without hearing the blaring sounds of "YMCA" and "In The Navy", and people (mostly girls) started wearing bell-bottoms again. In The New Tens, 80s nostalgia is slowly being phased out in favor of 90's nostalgia. Although 90's themed fads and period pieces seem to be far less common than those based on the 70's and 80's, probably because the 90's are a much harder decade to accurately represent.
- Take a look at your own grandparents. If they haven't gone completely casual for the sake of comfort or safety, they probably dress about 20 years out of date. (Their casual wear is probably outdated as well.) In The '80s, many grandmothers wore polyester dresses that looked more suited to The Fifties or The Sixties. The aging Casanova who dons a polyester Disco suit (complete with chest medallions) before going out on a date is also a common image from media of that era. In the 1920s, it was common in movies to portray old women wearing clothing with long skirts that wouldn't have looked out of place in the 1890s. Before the age of television or the movies, fashions dispersed very slowly. It wasn't uncommon in Renaissance Europe for people out in the countryside to dress in fashions that were about 20 years behind the clothing worn by people at court.
- Pretty much everything about North Korea is basically this, especially due to the fact they're a totalitarian state complete with propaganda (and gulags) straight out of the eras of Stalin or Mao, and are still fighting the Cold War twenty-odd years after everyone else has given up. And that they still don't have daytime TV. If you examine the country in greater detail things get even more out of date. It is not uncommon to find trains from the twenties or weapons from the fifties still being used, even among comparatively more advanced hardware.
- Serious techies tend to favor command-line interfaces from the '70s and '80s, especially those using Unix-like operating systems. They also prefer minimalistic desktop environments/window managers that look like they could be from the '80s and '90s. But techies don't love command-line interfaces because of nostalgia or their being 20 years old. If used by experts CLIs can do things faster than with graphical environments, techies just like doing things fast! So even another two decades in the future techies will still likely be using command-line interfaces.
- The command line interface isn't really faster than a GUI, rather it allows anyone who knows what they are doing direct access to the deepest levels of the operating system. Remote CLIs are often called "thin clients" because they take up little resources. This is important for when things break and need to be fixed. When this happens, the computer may not be able to create a desktop GUI, so only a command line may be the only thing that works. Some servers may also not be configured for GUIs at all (drawing a desktop GUI isn't very computatonally expensive, but sending it frame by frame over the network is)!
- Besides their record of racial oppression, the white minority government of South Africa during the apartheid era also had very conservative sensibilities, meaning that South Africa was culturally out of step with the rest of the world for a long time. How bad was it? Television wasn't introduced there until 1976!
- Continental Europe went through this during the Second World War. The Nazi occupiers censored everything from the U.S.A. and the U.K., causing the people to fall behind five years of American popular culture. A prominent example: many Hollywood stars of the 1930s remained popular and well known in Europe because people still remembered them, while many of the new stars introduced during the early 1940s didn't quite catch on. This also explains why Laurel and Hardy, for instance, have always remained far more popular and well known there than Abbott and Costello and The Three Stooges.
- Some post-war dictatorships in Europe during the second half of the 20th century like Spain (1936-1975), Greece (1967-1973), Portugal (1930-1974), Eastern Europe (1945-1989) were also instrumental in keeping their people stuck in traditions and not allowing every new influence inside their countries. When the regimes finally fell, the countries had a lot of technological and modern stuff to catch up to.
- Being a bit behind on the rest of the world is often mocked as being something that's only unique to Third World countries or isolated dicatorships. In reality many innovations and trends take some time to leave their country of origin and become famous, popular or actively used in the rest of the world. Some examples:
- Many television series have only been imported by certain countries after two or three seasons or long after the series in their entirety has ended. For instance: The Simpsons was only broadcast on Belgian television in 1995, almost five years after the first season debuted in the U.S.! And this is especially strange, since some of the neighboring countries, like France, were already broadcasting it as early as 1991. Monty Python's Flying Circus had already ended in the United Kingdom before it first premiered in the U.S.A. in 1975, nearly six years after it premiered in the U.K. and had already taken Western Europe by storm. Fawlty Towers (1975-1979) got its U.S. premiere in the second half of the 1980s. Due to the controversial episode "The Germans", Fawlty Towers has only been broadcast in Germany in the 2000s.
- The Beatles were already popular in Great Britain in 1962, before they went global in 1964.
- Reggae music had been popular in Jamaica since the late 1960s, before it finally caught on outside the Carribean and into the rest of the world in the mid 1970s.
- Tintin was already popular in Europe in the 1930s, before it was finally exported to the U.S.A. in the 1950s.
- The Smurfs were introduced in 1958 and a big hit in Europe by the 1970s. Only when Hanna & Barbera turned it into an animated TV series in 1981 did the blue people became huge in the U.S.A. as well.
- Life in Cuba also feels two decades behind. Since the revolution of 1959 many old-timer cars are still in use and since the fall of communism in 1989 it really feels as if time stood still there.
- Chernobyl in Ukraine is another, more eerie example of a location where time stood still. After the nuclear disaster in 1986 all villagers were quickly deported outside the danger zone and left everything behind. Today Chernobyl is a ghost town where many things still remind visitors of a typical Communist village, with flags, statues and pictures of Lenin and the Red Banner.
- The enthusiasm for vinyl is an interesting example. Even though CD's are more durable and have a much crisp clearer sound, LP's are still collected by aficionados out of Nostalgia Filter.
- There's another big reason for the resurgence of vinyl, and that's the Loudness War. While CD's definitely do have the potential to have better quality of vinyls, the reality is that the modern music industry loves pumping out releases that feature maxed-out volumes and non-existent dynamics, a major pet peeve of audiophiles. For technical reasons, this type of mastering is possible on CD's and digital files but not on vinyl, which along with the general perception that vinyl is the audiophile medium, results in extremely loud CD's and digital downloads but more reasonably mastered LP's.
- The Volusia County, Florida Sheriff's Office has put out this warning about calling 1-900 phone numbers. 900 numbers disappeared in the late nineties.
- Pick any feel-good Christmas special out there, set anywhere near to the present day, in any supposed geographic area. In terms of scenery, dress, manners of speaking, and toys, you will immediately be transported to A: Mid 1800's London a la Charles Dickens with carolers, long scarves, and lovable chimney sweeps, B: 1950's New York City with picturesque store front windows to look in through and sidewalks to stroll down merrily, C: 1950's New England with rolling hills, stone walls, and early snowfall for sledding, or D: A combination of all 3. A fourth locale — a small town in the Colorado Rockies with snow-dusted fir trees and Country Music on the soundtrack, set in some vague period between 1970 and 1995 — also seems to have gained traction in recent decades.
- This is more due to the fact that Christmas specials are usually gunning for the appeal of works such as A Christmas Carol, Miracle On34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life — and, increasingly, 1980s Christmas specials hosted by the likes of John Denver and Dolly Parton. Probably also due to the fact that Christmas specials have to try their absolute damnedest to be as close to timeless as possible. Since Christmas movies are only shown for a short window in December and are then shoved into the mothballs for 11 months, their most viable way of becoming profitable is to try and be played year after year. Unfortunately, this makes them incredibly vulnerable to Technology Marches On, as any kind of expensive toy or gadget the kids are desperate for can easily become laughably antiquated in that time span. To avoid making a Christmas special look like it's past its sell by date, most specials try to remove as many of their modern trappings as they can, and instead aim for a retro-nostalgia feel, even if it does take place in the then-modern day.
- Likewise, nearly any Christmas album will often have a lush, orchestral, 1950's vibe for much of the same reasons, especially if the songs being covered come from approximately that generation (e.g. "Santa Baby").
- Much like Christmas, Halloween gets hit with this. Trick or treating kids are still often left unsupervised, trick-or-treat until the wee hours of the morning, and will frequently get into some kind of trouble at an old haunted building. Nowadays, as anybody who groans about how "Halloween ain't what it used to be!" will tell you, most trick or treating only lasts a few short hours (occasionally being completed before sunset,) is completely supervised, often doesn't even take place outdoors (shopping malls are considered much safer), and it's increasingly rare to find spooky old buildings that aren't torn down or turned into tourist attractions (the old standby of "abandoned insane asylum" has been long dead.) Furthermore, there's usually a surprising lack of store-bought licensed costumes with kids frequently having a large number of hand made and generic costumes, such as "cowboy," "princess," and "pirate".
- The latter could be justified by Small Reference Pools and Viewers Are Morons; you don't want all your viewers scratching their heads over some "obscure" pop-culture icon. (Noted in a fairly recent Mad Magazine spoof of Halloween in which a kid goes trick-or-treating as Spongebob Squarepants and is annoyed that one middle-aged man giving him candy refers to him as "Little Yellow Thing.")
- Ask any young guy about knitters and he'll trot out the stereotype of old, grey-haired ladies hunched up in the corner with their straight needles and yarn, making something for their 84 cats. But the typical knitter these days in real life is in her (or his) twenties and is probably a bit of a Granola Girl. The stereotype comes directly from the minds of fiftysomething writers, who remember when young career women were warned against taking up "old-lady" hobbies like knitting if they wanted to be taken seriously — back in The '70s. Times have changed, guys.
- Actually, any portrayal of grandparents in the media (or anyone over 65, but those with grandchildren in particular). The media forget alarmingly easily that someone who was 70 in 2010 was born in 1940 and was therefore 20 in 1960. They won't remember transport depending on the horse. They might (if female) have worn a miniskirt. It's extremely unlikely that a woman will have an iron grey bun, wear only skirts and dresses, and be a slumped heap of shawls, or that a man will wear a v-neck sweater and tie at all times. They still have this look on TV, though.
- Television will often use music by Swing-era artists like Benny Goodman or Glenn Miller when depicting retirees nostalgic for their youth, despite the fact that someone that was age 65 in 2014 was more likely to have listened to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones (with both bands' living members being in their early or mid 70s or late 60s themselves), and that Swing would have been the music of their parents' youth.
- Many shows still depict grandfathers of small children being World War II veterans, when in reality, this is highly unlikely, and their fathers would be the World War II veterans. (Living great-grandparents remain extremely rare in TV and movies even though they are becoming increasingly common in real life.)
- Sometimes Truth in Television: There are cases of some Former Teen Rebels embracing fashions they previously had spurned, which could be because they've become more traditionalist as they've grown older, they're rebelling against the new norm, or just because they want to try something different. You'll see some former 1960s student radicals turned college professors who still have long hair and beards, but also teach their classes in fussy suits with leather patches on the elbows.
- This also partially has to do with comfort. Older people may wear less fashionable clothing simply because it is more comfortable.
- This could also be the result of The Coconut Effect: Even though it would probably be more realistic to depict nostalgic grandparents listening to The Beatles or The Who, media has become so saturated with depictions of them listening to 1920s or 1930s jazz and swing that anything else (unless it's being depicted with a certain amount of irony) might be jarring to the average viewer. Besides, it simply wouldn't do to have the Baby Boomers — a generation that has consistently resisted growing up for over four decades now — start feeling elderly!
- Another consideration is copyright/music licencing: It's probably a lot easier to get the rights to music by Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman than it is music by The Beatles or The Doors.
- A funny example of this happened involving the Grammy Awards. Deciding to keep up with the times, they decided to start awarding a Grammy for Best Disco Recording. Problem being, they didn't decide to create the category until 1980, a full year after Disco Demolition Night and long after disco was declared dead. The award was discontinued the next year, and "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor has the odd distinction of being the first, last, and only winner of a Best Disco Grammy.
- Names of young kid and teenager characters in TV and movies will often be the names that were popular when the writers or showrunner was born/young and not names that were popular/widely used when the characters were born. For example two characters that Judith Barsi played were named "Lori Beth" and "Debbie" — names much more used for little girls in The Fifties than for a little girl in The '80s. Modern Family had a teenage guest character called Rhonda... about fifty years after that name was popular for girls.
- Whenever a kid is grounded in a TV show, the standard punishment is almost always "no TV for a month" instead of cutting off the Internet access or similar. (Justifiable if the Internet is banned in their household.)
- In 1982, the right-wing Dartmouth Review ran an infamous editorial questioning whether black students admitted to Dartmouth under affirmative action were really qualified to be at the Ivy League school. The editorial is not referred to as "infamous" today because of that—the sentiment was hardly unique at that time. It was unique, instead, because it was titled "Dis Sho' Ain't No Jive, Bro" and written entirely in what the editors seemed to think was contemporary African American vernacular English. However, sentences like the title and "Now we be comin' to Dartmut and be up over our 'fros in studies, but we still be not graduatin' Phi Beta Kappa" revealed that, as much as the authors might have claimed their inspiration was that "jive" scene in Airplane, their ideas of black American colloquial speech were at best a decade out of date and at worst seemed to come straight from mid-century Stepin Fetchit movies.
- Shows that parody John Travolta (Like South Park or Family Guy) usually portray him with a thick accent that he hasn't had since the eighties.
- Whenever Michael Jackson is imitated people will shout shamone at one point, a phrase he only used in his Bad era.
- If a character is shown collecting vinyl records, chances are it'll be a baby boomer dad hopelessly stuck in the past. These days, vinyl fans are more likely to be twentysomething hipsters.
- The Cold War ended over two decades ago but you wouldn't know it with the antagonism between Russia and the West.