We're Still Relevant, Dammit
"At only a year and a half since the event being referenced, this [see right] is the most current pop-culture reference that Archie Comics have ever made, beating out the same issue's American Idol joke by a good five years."
Suppose you've got yourself a Long Runner
. And while your Long Runner hasn't really wavered in popularity, not significantly, you still want to connect with the youth of today. Perhaps you'd also like to comment on current pop-culture events as well
Well, you'd better tread carefully or you might sound like you're just screaming, "We're Still Relevant, Dammit!"
The parent trope of both Totally Radical
and Fad Super
, this happens when a series that is gettin' old decides to make an attempt to stay current. Of-the-moment pop-culture references (that usually end up dated by the time the work of fiction makes its premiere) are certainly most common. The writers might also decide to radically change a character
or create an "updated" Expy
of an older character. A number of times a character has been made Darker and Edgier
easily fit the bill. Another popular tactic is to make the character suddenly become a member of a newly emerged subculture
, fandom, or similar group. The result, especially if the writer is not part of said subculture and doesn't do the research, is often laughably embarrassing instead of the bold new direction the producers were hoping for.
This often heralds the beginning of a Dork Age
. Can very often result in an Unintentional Period Piece
See also Popularity Polynomial
, Mascot with Attitude
, Discredited Meme
, Follow the Leader
, Two Decades Behind
, Long Runner Tech Marches On
, and more than a few Scrappies
and cases of Misaimed Marketing
Tropes Are Tools
aside, this is usually a sign of bad writing
, especially if you're a TV or movie writer trying to make your current long-running show more hip or trying to revive a long-dead franchise for a new generation
open/close all folders
- Daniel Faraday would like to remind you that Subaru cars are "like punk rock". Do not question his logic!
- An ad for the Nissan Cube features icons such as "Add Friends" when someone other than the driver gets in the car, and "Join Group" when the car parks at an area with other people. The car itself is referred to as the "Cube Mobile Device".
- Parodied in a Smokey the Bear Public Service Announcement. The PSA starts out being a Piss-Take Rap or something like that, but Smokey calls it off midway through because this sort of pandering to the younger demographic just isn't his style.
- In 2012, Chuck E. Cheese's radically redesigned Chuck E. Cheese, giving him a design like something out of Alvin and the Chipmunks and making him play the electric guitar as he sings Bowling for Soup songs. This did not get positive reactions. In fairness, the previous Tony Hawk-wannabe look he'd been sporting for around 15 years didn't scream this trope any less.
- Honey Nut Cheerios has a new ad out where they do a Cheerio-themed parody/cover of a song that came out twelve years ago ("Ride Wit' Me" by Nelly), with random dubstep breakdown.
- Other commercials include Buzz talking to Grumpy Cat and asking Usher for tips on being hip.
- Kmart's "giffing out" commercials during the 2013 holiday season scream of this. Inhabitants of the internet are quick to point out that real gifs don't have any sound as they're simply 256-color image files with animation support.
- The Progressive advertisements in which Flo turns herself into an Image Macro smack of some middle-aged marketing executive trying to "get down with" the hip Internet-using early-20s demographic.
- Vanilla Ice appeared in a Kraft macaroni and cheese commercial to advertise the tie-in with the Michael Bay Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) movie, where he does the "Ninja Rap" he did in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II way back in 1991. White guys with funny hair rapping hasn't been cool since Eminem (and even Macklemore is starting to feel played-out).
- The Satur-Yay-Aaah!! commercial from General Mills absolutely reeks of this, featuring the Trix Rabbit, Chip the Wolf, Sonny the Cocoa Puffs Bird, a talking orange voiced by Uncle Grandpa, a kid voiced by Finn from Adventure Time, and...Honey the Honey Drop, who hasn't been in a commercial since The Eighties. The commercial features an extremely sporadic and out-of-place Wreck-It Ralph reference, as well as animation, sets and language that are clearly trying to emulate Regular Show and Adventure Time, but in the end, resemble Breadwinners.
- Archie Comics
- Dear old Jughead Jones has often fallen victim to this trope. Archie Comics may be made fun of occasionally, but thanks to its cozy look at the bright side of being a teenager, most people tend to view it with warm nostalgic feelings. This makes these attempts to be "hip and happening" ever more bewildering. Everyone, from every generation, knows Jughead as Archie's goofy hamburger-eating BFF in that ridiculous hat. Well, over the years, he has also had mercifully brief careers as (get some coffee and a comfortable seat) a beatnik, a hippie, a punk, a disco king, a breakdancer, a time-traveler a la Back to the Future, a rapper, a paranormal investigator a la The X-Files, an emo teen, a superhero, and so on. At this point Jughead's Genre Shifting has almost become a Running Gag. See this useful Onion AV Club article for more details.
- That brief span ("She's Goth to Have It◊") where Betty decides to become a goth. And not long after, Archie, Reggie, and Veronica follow suit. "Yeah! It's totally dismal and excellent!" Who can hate anything with such a hilarious closing line?
- Then there were the "manga-style" Archie stories.
- And now "Occupy Riverdale".
- The Comics Curmudgeon openly suspected that Archie was so old and tired that it used a computer to come up with daily jokes, and even dubbed it the "Archie Joke-Generating Laugh Unit 3000" or AJGLU 3000. Archie struck back in this comic, putting Archie in a "No AJGLU 3000" shirt.
- The success of the Afterlife With Archie series, however, stood out as more than just a cash-in on the popular zombie/horror comic trend and proved tropes are not necessarily bad.
- In the Sixties, Jimmy Olsen was frequently used as the spokesman of this trope. was, at various points, a hippie, a Beatle (in Ancient Rome, no less!), a wide variety of superheroes, and many other things, most of which fall under the What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?/So Bad, It's Good heading. Once again, it's become sort of a Running Gag, focused on at places like Super Dickery.
- The example with the longest ramifications was when the Jimmy Olsen title was written by Jack Kirby, who used the craziness to introduce Darkseid and the Fourth World mythos to the wider DC Universe.
- In the New 52 version of Earth 2, Jimmy is an Edward Snowden-style "Hacktivist" rather than print journalist, since nobody really reads newspapers anymore.
- The last few decades have seen the whole Superman mythos tangled in this trope:
- Superman proves he's right and a thinly veiled version of The Authority is wrong! Superman walks across the country solving real people's problems! Superman quits the Daily Planet to become a blogger! Superman has a mullet!
- The Avengers famously used The Falcon to do a controversial storyline about affirmative action... close to 20 years after John F. Kennedy actually issued it.
- Manhunter and Blue Beetle had storylines dealing with undocumented immigration, both of which were hit hard by this trope.
- There's a Mickey Mouse comic story demonstrating this trope, published in 2008, in which Mickey attempts to join MyPlace (a parody of MySpace) and finds out somebody is already on there impersonating him. (Unfortunately, this story is not yet available in English.)
- Lampshaded for humour in a 1990s Catwoman comic, in which Catwoman comes up against Two-Face — who is toting as henchmen two ridiculously outdated (even for the time) Goth Mooks. When the fact that Goths aren't exactly hip anymore is raised, Catwoman snarks that "time moves slower in Arkham".
- The Beano tried this in 2001 with a character called Robbie Rebel, essentially a more hip, contemporary version of Dennis the Menace. He was apparently based on Robbie Williams, and the strip also featured two scantily-clad girls called Kylie and Geri. Presumably this was to combat the dated appearance of the other characters (he wore jeans and a t-shirt instead of short trousers and a jersey), but he only lasted a few years.
- Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors had a prolonged, rather random, and immature Take That towards George W. Bush... who had been out of office for a couple years by the comics publication.
- Brazilian comic Monica's Gang engages in this every now and then, since it's been running for 50 years. They even have a "turn our characters into a memeface" contest on their Facebook page!
- The Chilean comic Condorito does this: In the most recent issues there have been jokes involving Facebook, Blackberry phones, and many of the covers made a parody of recent movies.
- Marvel Comics' 10-issue run of Mighty Mouse concluded with a mysterious figure who used a vacuum to drain all the "hipness" from TV personalities (anthropomorphic animal editions of Pat Sajak, Johnny Carson, et al). The paramedics warn Mighty Mouse not to get too close or he'll lose all his hipness, and he scoffs, saying he's still relevant. That is, until the official word is that his cartoon show on CBS was canceled. Mighty Mouse eventually wins by drawing in his breath to counter the villain's vacuum. When he tells the paramedics he's as hip as ever, they quip, "Are you sure? The audience said you really sucked!"
- The post-relaunch Batgirl series featured references to an app that Gotham's petty criminals use to keep track of Batman's movements, and also featured Babs' new roommate being a member of "Occupy Gotham".
- The ReTool of the book that came about after Gail Simone left the title has Barbara moving to a trendy new neighborhood and becoming a hipster. Like the Young Avengers example below, the ReTool also has a greatly expanded focus on social media.
- Kieron Gillen's Young Avengers series has this. The characters seem to be constantly posting to their equivalent of Tumblr for whatever reason, and spewing references that really just sound like Gillen's is trying to sound young.
- Inhumanity has this in the use of Twitter in order to tell us what some people think about the new Inhumans.
- Also, a newly awakened Inhuman, instead of, you know, going to the Avengers or any other superhero, decides to just keep taking photos of herself and posting them to Facebook.
- Suske en Wiske: From the 1960s the series tried to cash in on trends of the day that have become hopelessly outdated by now:
- Several stories of the late 1960s and early 1970s have the characters encounter hippies and/or delve in on the then current generation gap and the issue of wearing long hair.
- In Big Mother Suske and Wiske join a reality TV show called Big Mother, which was based on the enormous succes of the reality TV series Big Brother, but is now completely forgotten.
- In the 2000s- after 60 years of wearing the same clothes- Suske and Wiske received a new hip, modern updated outfit. This created such an Audience Backlash that the creators were forced to return to their original clothes.
- Nero: As the series went on some stories start to fall into this trope. An example is Nerorock, a story Sleen drew in the 1980s in which Nero starts a succesful rock band. Adhemar claims to be a rock music fan and then names several artists and bands that Sleen clearly just transcribed from a hit parade list, because many of them are from very different musical genres.
- Works of Dennis Hopeless frequently fall victim to this. Avengers Arena drew a lot of snark for shoving internet-slang words like "hater" and "waifu" into the conversations while completely misusing them. Avengers Undercover had a character do the "shaky leg" dance and others commenting how cool it is, years after "shaky leg" went out of style. And then there's his Spider-Woman run, where the main character throws so many references in the first pages alone that it almost feels like a parody of writers who are desperate to sound young.
- The Dark Age of Comics was essentially this happening on an industry-wide scale. After the success of dark, violent comics like Watchmen, companies became convinced that Darker and Edgier was what audiences wanted and glutted the market with comic after comic of edgy anti-heroes who killed criminals left and right. This example backfired so bad it almost caused the entire industry to collapse.
- Issue 10 of Ms. Marvel (2014) is basically one long anvil that comes off like the writer desperately trying to show off how in-touch with the kids he is, with the characters going on long rants that amount to "the baby-boomers and Gen-X'ers screwed the Millennials out of what they were owed". The comic itself may eventually start falling into this, as it prominently features things like selfies and references to fan fic writing. It's been referred to as "a comic by Millennials for Millennials", which doesn't really say good things about how it will age.
- In 2014, DC had an entire month of selfie-themed variant covers. Yes really. Even for characters like Batman.
- In The Never Ending Story III, the inhabitants of Fantasia undergo considerable change, including spouting contemporary pop-culture references. Bastian updates his hairdo because his sister calls it "un". The ultimate depiction in the movie, however, has to be Rock Biter taking his son for a bike ride...while singing "Born to be Wild".
- When the trailer for the Three Stooges movie was shown to be rife with this, complete with a modern setting, an iPhone, and even the cast of the Jersey Shore, many people who hadn't heard anything about the film since Sean Penn was involved (which implied a more serious biography of the Stooges) were, to say the least, surprised. When people hoping these were just gags made for the trailer saw it and found out that Jersey Shore is not only a big part of the film but is also instrumental to the plot, they were pissed.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle is so loaded with early 00s pop culture references that it might as well be called "The Year 2000, starring Moose and Squirrel."
- The Smurfs movie is infamous for trying every cheap tactic in the book to try to get the franchise "down with the kids".
- An in-universe example is the whole point of The Internship. Two salesmen whose careers have been made obsolete by the digital age try to get a coveted internship at Google.
- The Jetsons movie re-cast Janet Waldo with Tiffany as Judy Jetson just because she was popular at the time (especially when they had already used Janet for the movie and just re-recorded all her lines with Tiffany). Not only that but the movie is littered with early 90s pop songs.
- Ice Age: Continental Drift cast Nicki Minaj and Drake as characters just because the studio perceived them as being hip with the kids. It even has the characters dance along to a generic auto-tuned pop song in the end credits. Considering this is the fourth movie of a franchise that began in 2002, these elements can't help but feel like the filmmakers are falling into this.
- Most Blue Sky Studios movies are like this as every movie they make casts a pop musician for really no reason other than name value (e.g. Pitbull in Epic).
- Disney during the Ron Miller period (1978-1984) was probably its most egregious example of this trope. In an attempt to counter the super kid-friendly image that Disney had acquired in the 1970s, Miller greenlit a slew of Darker and Edgier works. Their animated films The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron were more moody and atmospheric than any Disney film since the 1940s, and they began experimenting with more "adult" genres in their live action films: science fiction with The Black Hole and TRON; action adventure with Condorman and Trenchcoat; horror with Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Watcher in the Woods; drama with Never Cry Wolf, Night Crossing and Tex; sports biopics with Running Brave and Takedown; and dark fantasy with The Devil and Max Devlin and Return to Oz. Almost all of these films were financial failures, leading people to conclude that the Disney brand was no longer viable and setting the stage for shareholder Saul Steinberg's 1984 greenmail attempt that nearly destroyed the studio and led to Miller's ouster.note
- Lifetime's 2014 television film Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever is a perfect example of this trope in action.
- While the Race Lift in Annie (2014) necessitated the Setting Update, the constant references to celebrities and memes (like "Boom goes the dynamite!") feel forced and will likely date the film in years to come. Parodied on Saturday Night Live in a version of the song "Hard Knock Life" that mentions the iPhone 6.
- Browns Pine Ridge Stories: An In-story variation occurs in the tenth chapter. Local merchants in 1965 organize the "McRae-Helena Treasure Hunt" because they "got tired of seeing its citizens shopping in Vidalia, Dublin, Douglas". While the treasure hunt does generate interest that creates a short-term surge of economic activity, as history has shown it was neither to last nor any more effective as other examples on this list in revitalizing anything.
- Owing to Values Dissonance and Technology Marches On, post-1980s adaptations of the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have dealt with this trope. Compulsive gum-chewer Violet Beauregarde and TV addict Mike Teavee have undergone a great deal of Menace Decay over the years, so their personalities and habits have to be rethought in order to make them sufficently obnoxious to warrant Ironic Hell punishments. The challenge is to make their habits of-the-moment while turning out to be endemic of larger issues that won't date as easily. Both of the following adaptations also take place in Retro Universes where styles and technologies of various past eras rub shoulders with those of the present.
- In the 2005 film adaptation, Mike is a jaded Insufferable Genius obsessed with violent video games as well as TV. Violet is a Go-Getter Girl with a Stage Mom, both of whom are fixated on winning any competition that comes their way.
- In the 2013 stage musical, Mike's obsession with electronics of all kinds is used to keep him occupied so he doesn't cause as much real-world trouble as he otherwise would, as he is an Enfant Terrible whom no adult seems capable of controlling. Violet is a resident of Horrible Hollywood whose father has helped parlay her non-talent of gum-chewing into a Cash Cow Franchise (in the same way that reality show stars and people like Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian become famous). The Genre Roulette of the songs associates Mike with techno and Violet with kid-friendly rap — but also disco.
Live Action TV
- Bob Hope constantly attempted this in the 70s and on. As Frasier told Niles, "Don't use slang. You sound like Bob Hope when he acts like The Fonz."
- Lorne Michaels once said that one of the reasons he wanted to do the things Saturday Night Live did in its early seasons was the way that, when Bob Hope did sketches on his shows where he pretended to smoke marijuana, he acted drunk afterwards.
- Enterprise's attempts to prove that the franchise was still relevant at the turn of the millennium by allegorizing on the subject of The War on Terror could get heavy-handed at times.
- Doctor Who:
- Doctor Who sums this trope up with the character of Ace; a clear attempt to be relevant and "with it" for the youth of the day, her "wicked" fashion style and "ace" dialogue was frequently considered either laughable or cringeworthy at the time, never mind later on. The writer reportedly tried for accuracy, hanging out with real kids to get a sense of who they were and how they acted, but Executive Meddling resulted in actual teenage slang and speaking patterns being tossed out.
- While not as egregious as some other examples, the new Doctor Who series can suffer from this, too - numerous celebrity cameos and pop-culture references are scattered across multiple episodes but can leave them feeling very dated in a short space of time.
- The End of the World amusingly used this trope by residents of the distant future referring to Britney Spears' music as "a traditional ballad". This is not the first time in the show that current pop music was described as "classical".note
- "Bad Wolf" features pastiches of the reality shows and game shows of 2005. This had a certain Reality Subtext - these reality shows were what pushed homegrown drama off the air and made producers so sceptical about bringing Doctor Who back, and now the Doctor is fighting them! - but also has a faintly desperate air, as if by dropping the Doctor into a world based on the current TV landscape he'll begin to belong there after all these years.
- The Beatles, or the "Bee-attles" comes up again as classical music in the new series episode "42". This was a Call Back to the same joke being made by a character from the future during the Hartnell Era, when the Beatles were still around.
- The Shakespeare Code had a few Harry Potter references, including one to the final book which came out the same month the episode aired, and "Expelliarmus!" turns out to be key to defeating the Monster of the Week (admittedly this was because the preceding word was hard to rhyme).
- The End of Time made a few Anvilicious nods towards Barack Obama's proposed economic reform. Also, "Fear Her" had a background gag to then-current The X Factor winner Shayne Ward's greatest hits.
- When the Master returned in the new series, he was updated into a murderous pop culture junkie. He is shown watching an episode of Teletubbies (supposedly a Shout-Out to the original series where he watches an episode of The Clangers) and has pop music played when he releases the Toclafane to decimate the Earth's population (Voodoo Child, by Rogue Traders) and at the start of Series 3's finale whilst he is wheeling the Doctor around on a wheelchair (I Can't Decide by the Scissor Sisters). However, this falls more into Soundtrack Dissonance territory just to show how much of a maniac the Master is.
- Amusingly used in Cold War, set in the titular war during the eighties on a Russian nuclear sub. Soviet Professor Grisenko is a fan of the band Duran Duran, listening to "Hungry Like the Wolf" on a walkman. When he learns the Eleventh Doctor and Clara Oswald are from the future, he asks for details about the fate of something important to him. At first, it looks like he wants to know about major events yet to come concerning the Cold War's outcome- which could derail history given the right answer in the wrong place and wrong time, should someone wish to alter its course. He simply wants to know if his beloved band broke up by 2013.
- The final season of The Brady Bunch was like this at times. In the wake of the runaway success of All in the Familynote , The Brady Bunch had an episode that didn't involve the Bradys at all, in which a white family adopted a black and an Asian kid. (A bigoted neighbor in the episode is expressly compared to Archie Bunker.)
- An episode of Power Rangers Dino Thunder where Ethan and Devin are playing a painfully bad Expy of Yu-Gi-Oh!, screams of this trope.
- The episode of Today where they did the Harlem Shake (and managed to temporarily kill the meme) for Valentine's Day screamed this.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit does this a lot, in part because of how heavily the show relies on Ripped from the Headlines:
- One episode featured a young female hacker branding several men who'd raped her. This was around the time that the Swedish Millennium Trilogy was still popular.
- An episode about rape in college frats and sororities features the line "We gang-banged her Gangnam Style" being said unironically. Bonus points for extreme Critical Research Failure (the music video/song being referenced has absolutely nothing to do with gang-banging or rape).
- In one episode, a girl being taken away from her boyfriend yells at him "I'm not your thot". "Thot" stands for "that hoe over there" and was briefly a common saying on Twitter. Not only does the saying make no sense because it is used in the wrong tense, but this shows how desperate the writers are to seem relevant.
- Similar to the above, Psych also tried to jump on the Swedish thriller bandwagon with an episode in which Shawn and the SBPD chase after a young Swedish woman with supposedly serious daddy issues.
- Ever since Dr. Santino moved to V3 on Necessary Roughness, annoying instances of this trope have popped up, usually in the form of her boss name-dropping his supposed celebrity friends. The sad thing is, the show was actually ahead of the curve several months earlier, when it had a story arc about a fictional football player coming out as gay - several months before real-life basketball player Jason Collins did.
- Greg the Bunny had an in-universe example. Gil asks Jimmy how they can update "Sweetknuckle Junction" for a more modern audience. The result includes changing Count Blah into a rapper named Count A'ight (which he repeated mispronounces as ah-ig-it), sexing up Dottie, and painting Junction Jack silver, suspending him from the rafters, and renaming him Cybo-Jack. ("It's finally happened. They made me into a puppet.") They also add a strobe light effect which ends up giving the kids in the focus group seizures, resulting in them abandoning the retool.
- The whole premise of Sherlock is this: taking Arthur Conan Doyle's late Victorians, making them sexy, and giving them all plot-relevant access to Twitter. The "The Sign of Three" episode had a sequence involving Sherlock and John powering through trendy London pubs to a dubstep remix of the show's theme, despite dubstep being seen as a little old-hat even by 2014.
- Glee covering of Rebecca Black's Friday and especially PSY's Gangnam Style were met with a lot of ridicule.
- MTV's famed reality shows, The Real World and Road Rules (before the latter was canceled,) have dealt with this, namely trying to catch up when later shows were able to come through the door they opened and were able to take it even further. The Real World started with average people generally acting somewhat normally (at least as normal as they could under the circumstances.) However, after seeing the popularity of trashy shows that reveled in their drunken debauchery like The Bachelor, they started hiring model-ready cast members and generally turned up the sex, violence and drama. Road Rules, on the other hand, started out much more like Real World on an RV, with the challenges supposed to be rather sedate team-building exercises . However, once more extreme reality competitions such as Fear Factor came along, the challenges became much more extreme and gross-out.
- Plenty of Progressive Rock supergroups of The Seventies, faced with negative press over their "irrelevance" in the age of punk rock/new wave, sported '80s Hair, streamlined their images and musical styles, made hip music videos, and added high-tech synths to their sound in an attempt to keep up with the times. Some failed (Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Kansas, The Who), and some succeeded (Yes, Genesis, Rush, King Crimson). Either way, the bands' earlier fans tended to revolt against the new sounds and styles.
- For the same reason, KISS ditched their trademark facepaint and costumes in the '80s for a glam look. They've since gone back to their classic style with the album Psycho Circus.
- Witness, also, Cheap Trick's attempts, at least since their late '70s heyday ended, to update their look, sound and style to fit the times. Heavy synths in the mid-'80s (which gave them their only #1 hit, "The Flame",), a more AOR/pop-metal sound by 1988-93, then more grunge- and alternative-influenced work in The Nineties, while groups with a clear lineage to their early work gained success. They've been making inroads into their more influential, early, power-pop sound more recently.
- This trope, in fact, was the entire reason The Police existed. Stewart Copeland, who had been a drummer for the popular prog-rock combo Curved Air, saw the success that punk groups like the Sex Pistols and The Clash were having, and recruited Sting (out of a small-time jazz combo called Last Exit) and Henri Padovani (who was soon ditched in favor of Andy Summers, himself a member of The Animals and Zoot Money's Big Roll Band from the '60s) to make reggae-tinged punk and hopefully catch some of the punk scene's success. The rest is history.
- The two major Pink Floyd-related releases of 1987, the official band's A Momentary Lapse Of Reason note and Roger Waters' Radio KAOS (along with David Gilmour's 1984 solo album, About Face) are awash in then-state-of-the-art synthesizers and drum machine programming, reverberant drums, late-1980s studio techniques, etc. in an attempt to modernize their sound. Though AMLOR and, to a minor degree, KAOS, gained radio airplay and Top 40 success, the sounds or both albums, Waters' effort especially, sound tied to their times. Late 2014's "The Endless River" was released to mixed critical reviews, and did not contain three-fifths of the founding members. It disappointed many longtime fans by being ambient and repetitive.
- Christian Rock band Petra continuously changed their image and sound during The Eighties based on what was popular, with varying results. Their most successful case was an entirely accidental one — the untimely departure of lead singer Greg Volz (who sounds a lot like Steve Walsh from Kansas) in the mid-'80s forced them to bring in John Schlitt (who sounds like every Hair Metal lead singer ever), which led to the peak of their career and their most famous material. The Nineties, on the other hand, were their Dork Age, as they attempted to find footing in the age of grunge and alt-rock while still retaining Schlitt on lead and trying to garner airplay on contemporary Christian radio. Eventually, they released one last classic-rock album to appease the long-time fans and then folded.
- But have since reunited with their 40th anniversary album released in 2013.
- Metallica preemptively pulled this trope between the albums Load and St. Anger; during that time period, they tried to adapt to the rising Alternative Metal trends by changing their sound, hair and logo. After the... erm... "not so well-received" album St. Anger, they finally returned to their trademark thrash sound that we all know and love on Death Magnetic.
- Herbie Hancock spent most of the seventies and eighties jumping from genre to genre. He tried fusion, disco, funk and electronica, sometimes combining several of these.
- In 1981, Village People, those 1970s disco icons, tried to adapt to a new decade by discarding their macho gay look and adopting a New Romantic one. The result was less than◊ convincing◊.
- Elton John has stayed (or tried to stay) contemporary for many decades, with mixed results. He dabbled with Philadelphia soul with "Philadelphia Freedom", disco on Victim Of Love, new wave and synth-pop on parts of The Fox and Jump Up!, experimented heavily with contemporary synthesizers and drum machines in The Eighties and The Nineties (especially 1985-1993), planned to record a Hip Hop album with Eminem's producers before Proof's death, and returned to basics with Songs From The West Coast after hearing the Alternative Country of Ryan Adams in 2001. Part of the trend may have been aggravated by Elton's Signature Style of singer-songwriter Piano Pop, which was rarely fashionable in rock in the first place.
- Korn's announcement that their album The Path of Totality would consist of a blend of their traditional sound and brostep rather smacked of this trope.
- Carlos Santana has done this multiple times over the years, teaming up with the likes of Rob Thomas for "Smooth" in 1999 and Chad Kroeger for "Into the Night" in 2007. However, his timeless "psychedelic Latin jazz" sound has never gone away, either.
- U2's announcement that their next album(s) would be variously produced by Danger Mouse, will.i.am, and David Guetta sounds suspiciously like this trope. It wouldn't be the first time either, since they did record Achtung Baby, one of the most successful albums specifically designed to make a band relevant once again.
- Songs Of Innocence quite literally invoked this trope, as the album was self-downloaded onto nearly every iTunes account upon release. Bono later confessed that this was done out of fear that the band would lose relevance, especially after their prior album (No Line On The Horizon) "underperformed" commercially.
- REM spent most of their career trying to avert being part of any trend, but they still managed to have rappers on both 1991's "Radio Song" and 2004's "The Outsiders". On both occasions it does work with the music, but it was Out of Character for them. Radio Song has dated because the rap style is in the 80s rap style. The Outsiders is more jazz rap so it hasn't.
- During The Eighties, when disco was, well, Deader Than Disco, The Bee Gees tried to reinvent themselves (again) with pop ballads. But everyone associated them with disco, so the Re Tool didn't work. (It had a decade earlier, when they went from a band not unlike The Beatles to a disco group, but didn't work this time.)
- Only in the United States. In England, their Eighties and Nineties output was well-received. (Even in America, international hits from their latter-year albums are featured heavily.)
- Likewise, the Bee Gees' Robin Gibb tried a solo comeback in 2003 with "Magnet," nearly twenty years after his last solo album. Unfortunately, Robin - a mid-fifties Englishman - tried his damndest to sound as relevant as the young pop stars of the day, including attempts at hip hop and lyrics about getting his 'freak on.' The album was a massive flop, and ended up being one of the most embarrassing items in the history of the Bee Gees. (The fact that he followed it up with one of the worst live albums in history didn't help.)
- The Rolling Stones' 1978 album Some Girls was a very deliberate response to critics who had dismissed them as outdated in the face of Punk Rock and disco. It paid off big time, and the Stones pointed out that numerous punk rockers had grown up listening to them. It's also helped that they've absorbed many different music styles over the years, while still retaining their core blues-rock sound.
- David Bowie, despite his notorious penchant for the New Sound Album trope, has largely stayed ahead of the curves that come along in music and avoided accusations of trend-jumping, owing in part to both his strong Creator Thumbprint as a lyricist and his compelling stage presence. He was mocked in the British music press over 1997's Earthling, though — it was an intelligent drum 'n' bass-heavy album that came along just as that style peaked and was on its way to Deader Than Disco status. He'd just turned 50 years old, too, which didn't help.
- Michael Jackson, according to producer Quincy Jones, didn't think rap music would catch on back in The Eighties. He still tried to cultivate an edgier, tough "street image" with 1987's Bad, specifically with the title song's music video (in which he plays a reformed gang member), but while the album sold well, his look and attitude were roundly mocked. From there, he struggled with this trope for the rest of his career, starting with 1991's Dangerous. He tried to update his sound with new jack swing, hip-hop, and rap stylings, hiring big-name producers and guest musicians in the process. Dangerous alone had guest spots from Heavy D, Wreckx-n-Effect, and Slash, and the music videos featured trendy celebrities such as Macaulay Culkin, Iman, Eddie Murphy, Magic Johnson, Naomi Campbell, Michael Jordan, and even Bart and Homer Simpson (which also explains that Simpsons episode where Jackson — under the name John Jay Smith — plays a mental patient who thinks he's Michael Jackson). Ten years later, David Browne commented in his Entertainment Weekly review of Invincible that Jackson "appears to be so lacking in confidence that he's top-loaded the album with every conceivable collaborator he could call, from Carlos Santana and Babyface for the oldsters to Rodney Jerkins and rapper Fats for the kids."
- Lampshaded in the 1980 Billy Joel song, "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me". In keeping with the emerging punk and New Wave trends, it was noticeably more forceful than a lot of his other songs, while the lyrics take a cynical view of a music executive urging a musician to change his image for a younger audience.
- Parodied by Weird Al Yankovic with "It's Still Billy Joel To Me."
- Joel himself seemed to fall victim to this with his 1986 album, The Bridge, incorporating Synth-Pop and New Wave influences, along with a duet with Cyndi Lauper on "Code Of Silence".
- MC Hammer in the early 90s showed how fast this can happen. At the beginning of the decade, he was the face of rap. Perhaps boasting that "U can't touch this" stuck harder than he thought, because by the mid-90s the Darker and Edgier Gangsta Rap was flourishing, and quite a few of its stars made no bones about how much they despised Hammer, his big bouncy pants and his dance- and party-oriented sound. After two years between albumsnote , he came back with The Funky Headhunter, exchanging the pants for a watch cap, cussing a little bit, rapping about tough times on the street and generally trying to show how gangsta he was, too. His fans didn't desert him—the record still sold well—but the gangsta fans weren't impressed, and so began his slow slide, as chronicled on Behind The Music, toward losing the multimillion-dollar house he'd built in the Oakland hills and all the other money he'd made.
- A famous early example within the music industry isn't so much a performer as a label—CBS Records' infamous late 1960s "The Man Can't Bust Our Music" and "The Revolutionaries are on CBS" ad campaigns intended to show how different things were at CBS (later Columbia; now Sony) from the days when rock-hating Mitch Miller had passed on both the Beatles and Elvis.
- Slayer, for about a decade, was a major victim of this trope. To put it simply: the band tried to "modernize" their sound in 1998 with the Nu Metal-influenced "Diabolus In Musica." After that album's rather lukewarm critical and commercial success and (more importantly) numerous accusations of being unable to compete with the likes of Emperor and Nile in terms of brutality, the band tried to Win BACK The Crowd with 2001's "God Hates Us All." An album with an unusual amount of swearing for a Slayer record and some other very obvious shock tactics (such as a picture of the Holy Bible with nails and the Slayer logo burned onto it). Unfortunately, the only thing people found even remotely shocking about the record was something completely unintended: it was released on September 11, 2001. After realizing they were trying way too hard to remain relevant in the extreme metal scene they ironically helped to create, the band slowly moved away from the Nu Metal influences and shock tactics of those two albums with 2006's Christ Illusion. And then, in 2009, they released World Painted Blood. An album many consider to be their best and most genuine since the early 90s.
- Five Iron Frenzy broke up in 2003, then reunited about a decade later to record a new album, Engine of a Million Plots. Rather than changing their style to fit the times (Engine still sounds like the last albums FIF put out pre-breakup) they wrote a song to joke about how out-of-touch they were. The song in question is "Battle Dancing Unicorns With Glitter", where they reference trends in the most awkward way possible ("12 o'clock! Party rock! We're hip hopping and we can't quite stop!"), aggressively insist that their awesomeness is beyond dispute, and admit in the bridge that "We're fighting just to stay relevant."
- To certain pop fans Christina Aguilera doing two consecutive electro pop albums in three years. Very few people outside her most diehard fans backed it. Bionic got mass promo for four or five months straight and then was disowned, as was Lotus.
- Rush fell victim to this in the eyes of certain subsets of fans after their Moving Pictures album, which just also happened to be generally regarded as the peak of their career. Though their initial foray into popular '80s synth technology, Signals was well-received, the drastically slicker and more melodramatic sounds they utilized on the following three releases gave a strong impression of the band conforming to the style of Top 40 pop music at the time. Even when they ditched the emphasis on synthesizers at the end of the decade, they placed a heavy emphasis on funk and other "urban" influences (most infamously the rap breakdown in "Roll the Bones") for their singles—at a time when many other popular acts were doing the same thing. And it definitely didn't help when they went for a Darker and Edgier sound rooted in heavy guitar distortion when that sort of thing became the popular music norm ("Stick it Out" and "Driven" are especially obvious genre emulation grabs). It would be the release of Vapor Trails that finally marked the end of the band's two decade-long trend-following focus.
- Some of Madonna's output during the new millennium smacks of this trope. While she was always known for reinventing her image, her last couple albums (especially MDNA) have been heavily criticized for pandering to modern-day trends without really doing anything new or unique. It also doesn't help that she's still trying too hard to be Ms. Fanservice in her fifties.
- Smash Mouth's 2012 album Magic has a song called "Justin Bieber."
- Similar to the above Jughead image are the occasional attempts at current events humor in The Family Circus. The general concessions to changing times — the toys the Not Allowed to Grow Up kids are seen playing with or the shows they watch — are subtle and actually topical. But these days any attempts at mining humor from that result in odd, unfunny jokes such as Billy saying that Daddy's cartoons would look better in HD. Then there was Dolly dressing up as Sarah Palin for Halloween 2008 (which wasn't even presented as a joke), Billy is dressed up as Iron Man and Jeffy is dressed up as Batman.
- An odd example for 2012: Billy asks to go out as a specific character, "Tactical Sergeant Tarkus from the Blood Ravens 4th Company in Warhammer 40,000." Not only is Warhammer 40000 extremely obscure outside geek circles, Tarkus only appeared in Dawn of War 2, which came out three years prior. But it was hilarious watching people on /tg/, the 4chan board that deals with 40k, slowly coming to the realization that yes, Family Circus of all things had just referenced Tarkus.
- Seanbaby points out the awkwardness of this in an article about the comic. One strip has a computer monitor displaying static (i.e. "snow") in order for the kids to deliver the punchline "winter-net". How many times has your monitor displayed TV-style "snow"? Even TVs rarely display TV-style snow now!
- Blondie has taken to this in recent years. The jokes have generally been about how out-of-touch Dagwood is with modern society, but the "modern society" the reader is often shown still feels like it's trapped in a time warp. Most references to modern technology come from Elmo, a small child who somehow affords every "hip" new product despite being a small child.
- In 1991, Blondie put on pants and started a catering business with her friend Tootsie. In 2000, Blondie yelled "Dagwood Bumstead Dot Com!" to wake her husband. Dagwood responded, "Omigosh, that means BUSINESS!" Dagwood uses a flatscreen computer monitor at work, Cookie and Alexander use cell phones and crack jokes about Facebook. But Dagwood is still late to work — although now he races out the door to his car pool rather than a city bus — and Mr. Dithers still kicks him in the ass.
- Unintentionally played with in a 2012 comic, where Dagwood visits a music store and is met with confusion when he asks a young clerk for record player needles. However, with records having made a comeback, the joke becomes irrelevant because something that became irrelevant in the past is now relevant again.
- Peanuts occasionally delved into this, usually through having Snoopy picking up on then-current fads. This arguably reached its apex (or nadir) with the '80s TV special It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown.
- The Comics Curmudgeon gets a lot of humor out of this topic:
- For instance, this Snuffy Smith strip, which notes that television show references are out of place in the time warp the hillbillies live in anyway.
- Momma has a writer that may have never seen a computer in his life.
- And Crock clearly has no idea what "iTunes" means.
- Hi and Lois, in 2011, apparently believes that setting a custom song for your ringtone is something so new, unusual and bizarre that it can be used as a punchline in itself.
- Dick Tracy fell into this in the '60s and '70s as original writer Chester Gould tried desperately to keep the strip relevant with the changing times. This led to him giving the strip a sci-fi swerve, where Tracy met the moon people and the police force gained moon technology - his son even married one of the moon people, "Moon Maid". This led to problems when the Apollo Moon Landings showed the moon barren of all life, forcing him to eventually drop many of these elements. In the 70s, he tried to update Tracy's distinct look with long hair and a mustache, along with a hippie sidekick named "Groovy Grove". The mustache went over so poorly he later drew a strip in which several characters pinned Tracy down and shaved it off. Gould's successor, Max Allan Collins, had both Moon Maid and Groovy Grove killed off as soon as he inherited the strip. The strip's current author seems to be far too displaced from reality to make references like this.
- Lil Abner introduced student radicals called SWINE (Students Wildly Indignant at Nearly Everything) during The Sixties in a combination of this trope and Author Tract, as the conservative Al Capp felt the increasing need to vent his disgust with the political/cultural developments of the era.
- The Wizard of Id, circa late January 2012, made a 300 reference, only about five years after the movie was released.note
- Not much better was a January 2013 strip making a Take That at Twilight, released about a couple months after the final film hit theaters.
- A January 2013 Baldo comic had a punchline involving "Gangnam Style". As did a Beetle Bailey strip that saw print during the same month.
- WWE commentators constantly mentioning Twitter or current pop culture comes across this way a lot of times.
- It's something of a Running Gag among wrestling fans that WWE is roughly 3-5 years behind pop culture. In fact, this was the main cause behind the dropping of Paul Burchill's pirate gimmick; at the time, Pirates of the Caribbean was too current for Vince McMahon to understand, and he didn't understand why a pirate should be a face.
- Earlier than that, Vince discontinued The Blonde Bytch project because he, personally, had never heard of The Blair Witch Project at the very height of its popularity.
- It's only gotten worse. Witness Vince bringing in ZZ Top, who haven't been on the charts since the late 80s, to be the guest General Managers of Raw.
- In general, ideas that relate to current pop culture that get smothered are because if Vince hasn't heard of it, surely you haven't either.
- A particularly glaring example came when Vince was doing commentary for a match featuring Avatar, who was Al Snow under a mask. The commentary crew was speculating as to the identity of the new wrestler, when Vince pipes up with, "Maybe it's Bart!" Cue blank looks from the other commentators, at which point Vince clarifies with, "You know, from The Simpsons?" The Simpsons at this point had been on the air for 5-6 years. Which would make the relevant season 6 episode contemporary, so it actually was relevant this time.
- Without question, this is how TNA came off when they brought in "Robbie E" and "Cookie" with a Jersey Shore gimmick. And then they actually brought in J-Woww to feud with Cookie. For 15 minutes.
- Speaking of, Robbie's still around with the same gimmick, and he's in a stable with another example of this trope, Big Brother seasons 10 and 11 alum Jessie Godderz! To be fair, the two have gained somewhat of a following as comedy jobbers.
- WWE has always been doing this. They had a wrestler dressed as Batman (imaginatively known as "Battman") in the mid-1960s, when the TV show was a hit. During the mid-1990s they had Rad Radford, who dressed like a grunge-rock musician. Some of WWE's most popular and enduring gimmicks started out this way: Edge, for example, in his original "Brood" incarnation with his Badass Longcoat and Cool Shades and vampire fangs, was strikingly reminiscent of the title character of Blade, which had just hit theaters at the time. And John Cena's "rapper" gimmick, while ostensibly a parody of "Marky Mark" Wahlberg, obviously owed a great deal of its success to the early-2000s popularity of Eminem (who has since faded from the public consciousness, while Cena hasn't used that gimmick for nearly a decade now).
- In Professional Wrestling this trope is used well when it's deliberately invoked for comedy or satirical purposes. The tag team "Cryme Tyme" became darlings of the fans despite trafficking in "Yo-yo-yo!"/"in the 'hood" stereotypes that had already been cliched for over a decade.
- Ditto with "Disco Inferno" (in the late '90s). WCW would, unfortunately, go back to that well again with "That '70s Guy" Mike Awesome after That '70s Show became a hit. It didn't come off nearly as funny or clever the second time around.
- The Goon Show: On the fiftieth anniversary of the show in 2001, two third-season scripts were combined and recorded with a new cast as "Goon Again". The jokes and ambience are a good match for the original show, which makes it all the more jarring when Bluebottle makes a .com reference.
- The Archers lives and breathes this, being as it is an extreme Long Runner that was originally a wartime Edutainment serial. New episodes continually reference modern farming life and developments, as well as contemporary pop culture and even weather events (such as flooding arcs during periods of heavy downpour in real life).
- The premise of a toyline like Barbie. Every new fashion trend for the past fifty years has resulted in new versions of the doll. She and toys like her are, after all, called fashion dolls.
- Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy," where two girls find Malibu Stacy dolls ("Achy Breaky Stacy" and "Live from the Improv Stacy") that are now in the bargain bin now that the song "Achy Breaky Heart" and Evening at the Improv aren't popular anymore.
- G.I. Joe too.
- The '70s "adventure team" version of the franchise existed in an attempt to make war cool, despite that America was really hurting after The Vietnam War and society saw war as a pointless waste of human life.
- The 1980s revival/retool, while avoiding the political issues of war by having a well-defined, clearly-evil enemy bent on world domination, still fell victim to this trope in the early 1990s with the introduction of the Eco-Warriors and Drug Elimination Force. (The former were even lampshaded in the comics when one of the Eco-Warriors points out that their new battle suits are made from recycled action figures!) The new lineups didn't prove popular, so they went with neon-colored ninjas until the line died out.
- And then, after the short-lived Sgt. Savage retool, they released G.I. Joe Extreme, which gave us a Totally Radical team Twenty Minutes into the Future. They soon went back to the original 1982 premise, upon which every subsequent adaptation has been based.
- The concepts of Transformers toys didn't change all that much during Generation 2, but their depictions in media sure as hell did. G2 comics were famously and aggressively Dark Age, and just check out this commercial. They were all like that. That said the era is looked upon with fondness by many fans, mainly because of it's Narm Charm (how can you not enjoy a song that unironically uses the line "BIG BAD BATTLIN' DUDICUS") and the spectacular art of Derek Yaniger, who gave the comics a terrifyingly cool, Warhammer 40K-esque style.
- The Dreamwave comics were another good example of this trope before they grew their short-lived beard. The first mini-series was basically an average G1 cartoon plot only with "edgy" scenes with Decepticons actually, explicitly killing people (which they did anyway in the old stuff, just not with humans). Add to that Pat Lee's atrocious art which was desperately trying to style itself after manga just as anime and manga were getting popular in the US (a useless gesture, as Transformers already had anime/manga stylings). The IDW comics are a lot better in this regard, partly because they're intended for adults and don't have to pander to kids in order to sell toys.
- The Live-Action films have a lot of this to, despite being decidedly not for kids, what with the rampant swearing, sex jokes, and nightmarish violence. Revenge Of The Fallen infamously had Skids and Mudflap, two obnoxious, gangtsa Autobots who were included solely because Hasbro thought kids would like "hip" characters like that.
- Transformers seems to be a magnet for this trope. Another example would be the "Bot Shots" line, presumably made to cash in on the popularity of Bakugan.
- In a very similar case to the G2 Transformers commercial, for the 2006 Piraka set line, BIONICLE also attempted to promote their sets with a shoddy rap song, as well as forcing the characters into a "gangsta'" setting, complete with the villains lounging around in their fortress which is surrounded with chain fences, sitting on sofas, chewing bubblegum, and doing various other activities that not only had nothing to do with the official story, but clashed something fierce with the image the franchise had built up in the previous years.
- This was not the first example: beginning from '05, just about all of the commercials had various rock songs attached to them, replacing the tribal music and even creeping into the movies.
- This version◊ of the Magic 8 Ball.
- Disney's Epic Mickey plays with this trope. While it is an attempt by Disney to make Mickey Mouse relevant again, the people really screaming "We're still relevant, dammit!" are the characters in the game. The people living in Wasteland have been abandoned and forgotten by those who created them, and some of them want to use Mickey as a means to leave Wasteland and be loved again. Also an inversion in that their efforts to make Mickey as a character relevant again was by restoring him to how the character was originally portrayed in the early 30s.
- Shadow the Hedgehog: This game's attempted Darker and Edgier image, specifically the inclusion of guns and swearing, could be seen as Sonic Team's attempt to transplant their early 90s Mascot with Attitude into a radically altered video game industry dominated by Rated M for Money fare like Grand Theft Auto and Halo.
- Pokémon has used Internet memes as throwaway gags a few times (Diamond and Pearl: "Noob"; "My Pokémon is fight!"; X and Y: "I can haz cheezburger, meow?"; "Wow! You and your Pokémon's power levels are incredible! They're over 9000 for sure!"), although every new pair of games still sells around 10 million copies, so the series is plenty relevant already... you could almost argue that they are mocking this trope by adding in references that already look more dated than the franchise itself.
- The example involving Lolcatz was actually lampshaded, with said trainer saying how she sounds like a fool.See here.
- Nintendo nowadays is recognizing its own memes, the "My body is ready!" meme was used at the E3, Pokémon X and Y and Fire Emblem Awakening. Maybe even more games will use it...
- Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS makes heavy use of references and memes (even really old ones), also the Facebook page never misses a chance to spout a meme or indirectly say that they are very aware of what the fandom thinks. While most people laugh along sometimes they try so hard it backfires, like Pokémon Trainer's trophy referencing the anime and it's song (without any description about Red himself). And Palutena's Guidance, depending on the conversation, just throws multiple memes in a row, to the point it sounds forced for the fans and confusing for those who don't get it.
- World of Warcraft's attempt to stay relevant after over 10 years on the market was to include Twitter integration and the ability to have your character take selfies in patch 6.1.
- Homestar Runner satirized this kind of thing in the Strongbad Email looking old, where Strongbad makes an effort to "reconnect with the youth of today":
Strong Bad: Now what I need is an image overhaul. Something to reconnect me with the youth of today. Something that says - "Sup my young parsons, I too am so on the go that I drink my yogurt from a tube".
So much more exciting!
"Pointy elbows and lots of lightning!
- Brutally satirized in TLG Media's "A New Bunny" (very, very NSFW language). It mocks Loonatics Unleashed, mentioned below, as one of the Ur-examples of blatantly trying to make "updated" versions of older characters so that today's kids will like them more. This exchange exemplifies this trope:
Kid: "But I don't like you!"
Buzzed Bunny: "Hell YES you do!!!"
- Their followup Another New Bunny is about the damage-control Warner tried to do when people rebelled against the plans for Loonatics. That is, to try and update the characters, while keeping them the same at the same time.
- MySpace and its latest Re Tool into a "Social Entertainment" website, after being driven Deader Than Disco by Face Book. Now everyone gets friend requests from fake celebrity pages, oh joy! They also let Jack Black "take over" the site in a publicity stunt.
- The Agony Booth and the switchover to video recaps as opposed to written ones has came off as this to some. Many feel that they are now just a That Guy with the Glasses ripoff. It doesn't help that a message pops up when opening one of the old text recaps, begging people to watch their videos.
- In 2014, the social networking site Foursquare announced that they'd Re Tool to actively compete with Yelp by becoming a Yelp clone itself, which meant taking away many distinctive features from their Foursquare app and putting them into another app called Swarm. Many longtime Foursquare users have reacted negatively to this.
- An aversion/lampshade hanging occurred in Bane Plays Slender: The Arrival, as Bane notes how irrelevant the series is. This was the last "Bane Plays" video made.
Bane: People don't care about Bane anymore! People don't care about Slender anymore! It's just not 2012 anymore...
- The Nostalgia Critic criticizes the use of this trope in the things he reviews, pointing out how it doesn't make a movie more clever and simply makes it age faster. When he reviewed James and the Giant Peach, despite thinking it was ridiculous, one of his points of praise was that it didn't try to be cool by invoking this trope.
- Epic Rap Battles of History has an In-Universe case of this in the "Jack the Ripper vs. Hannibal Lecter" video. The former says "I'm terrorising London, fuck the 7/7 bombers", which causes the latter to accuse him of trying to stay relevant by stealing from headlines.
- Disney was pretty bad at this in The Eighties — chiefly, it tried to keep its core characters timely by releasing albums of original songs for said characters after the surprisingly successful Mickey Mouse Disco in 1979. Follow-ups included Mousercise, Splashdance (though the Flashdance connection was only in the title), and Totally Minnie. The last was accompanied by a very odd television special where Minnie, dressed like the young Madonna and accompanied by Elton John (who was, by the mid-to-late Eighties enjoying success on the pop charts and MTV) in what may be the most embarrassing costume he ever wore, taught people to "be hip". (If you never, ever want to see Suzanne Somers in a fedora, striped pants and suspenders, or Vanna White getting mashed by Pluto...) Also, Donald Duck became a skateboarder. And then, after a dry spell, there was the infamous Mickey Unrapped album in The Nineties...
- The cartoons on the 1990s The Disney Afternoon block on ABC had the premise of taking old classic characters and updating them in new settings with new clothes and, occasionally, new personalities... usually to reflect what was "in" at the time. Huey, Dewey and Louie got theirs in Quack Pack, for example, where they aged into hip teenagers. Donald ditched his iconic sailor suit in favor of a Hawaiian shirt, and Daisy Duck became a sassy, assertive woman. Donald Duck (especially in the comics) is often the go-to character for this trope. With all the fads he's joined, all the different jobs he's had, and all the many, many things he's been an "expert" on in various stories, Donald is the one classic Disney character who can pull off Totally Radical and remain perfectly in character at all times. Hawaiian-shirted cameraman for a popular TV show? Sure, why not? You know that next month he'll try to be an astronaut or get hooked on sushi or be an Internet millionaire or whatever.
- Goof Troop, as good as it was, is a pretty obvious example of old characters trying to be hip and current for the modern day (Just listen to the opening theme). They updated Goofy and Pete into modern neighbors with pre-teen sons. It was successful enough to spin off into two movies, with the end result of having Max Goof as a new character. Tropes Are Not Bad
- By far, the most embarrassing attempt to make an older character "cool" to young people was the all-but-forgotten series Yo Yogi! It had a teenaged Yogi Bear dressed in neon pink and green, solving mysteries, and hanging out in Jellystone Mall. Magilla Gorilla was transformed into a rapping snowboarder named Magilla Ice, Dick Dastardly was teenage troublemaker "Dicky D," and certain scenes were designed to be viewed with 3-D glasses, which looked awkward to say the least. Surprisingly, this is the last television series to star Yogi Bear. Yo Yogi! (along with the rest of NBC's Saturday morning cartoons) failed so badly that NBC decided to eighty-six their entire animated lineup in order to create an all-teen block in order to take advantage of Saved by the Bell's success and, later, expand the Today show to Saturdays.
- An episode of the Berenstain Bears which aired in 2003 had a reference to a band called "The Backstreet Bears" - an apparent Expy of a band which had peaked two years earlier.
- The aforementioned Loonatics Unleashed attempts a Darker and Edgier version of the 1930s-1960s Looney Tunes shorts and got a considerable amount of Hatedom and Internet Backdraft as a result. There are a few other shows (and movies) that feature Looney Tunes related characters that also flopped, but nowhere near to the degree of Loonatics Unleashed.
- The Looney Tunes Show can be considered a somewhat more successful attempt, taking the classic characters (and Lola, of course) and putting them in a sitcom setting.
- The Simpsons:
- Some believe the show depends too much on this trope thanks to being on the air for 20+ years. While the show never shied away from pop-culture references in its heyday, it's become increasingly apparent that the writers are taking a page from South Park and Family Guy in trying to be relevant through using current trends and events as their basis for humor. The long episode production time and the fact that they've done every sitcom plot they could — including ones that have been done on other shows and recycling the ones they've done before — is also a contributing factor.
- Not to speak of the annoyingly ubiquitous celebrity cameos, which were rare during the program's early years (and even then they were usually "classic" celebrities, such as Tony Bennett), but since the late 1990s have become one of the show's major draws (or drawbacks, depending on your attitude). Worst of all was probably the episode in which Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger and Ron Howard got an episode whose entire plot revolved around them.
- It often lampshades this by having the Simpson family be the last people in town to get in on a new trend, like when Homer bought his first computer (in 1999) and didn't even know how to start his own Internet company, when Bart complains about being the only kid (in 2009) who doesn't have a cell phone, and Marge in "Marge Gamer" (a 2007 episode) being shunned by her friends for not having an email address and thinking "Googling yourself" is a euphemism for masturbation (as opposed to the common, "looking up your name on the Google search engine"). In fact, in the last example, Lisa compared Marge to Christopher Columbus, in that she "had discovered something millions of people already knew existed."
- In the eighth-season finale, "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson", Lisa decides to apply to the military school Bart's been sent to, which had previously not allowed girls. Anyone watching at the time could see it was clearly inspired by Shannon Faulkner's real-life struggle to be admitted to the Citadel military college in South Carolina ... which had played out two years earlier in real life.
- New Kids On The Blecch in which Nsync had a guest appearance. Painfully outdated now, seeing that this boy band quit only a year later and is now mostly remembered as that forgettable band Justin Timberlake once was part of.
- The 302nd episode, Season 14's "Barting Over"note , contained a fawning cameo by Tony Hawk and a briefer one by blink-182, both of whom were really big at the time (2003) but wouldn't be for very long.especially Blink-182, who broke up in the mid-2000s). Tony Hawk's dialogue in particular may cross over into Totally Radical. There's also the reason why Homer blew Bart's commercial money: to buy back incriminating photos of him nearly dropping his child over a balcony like Michael Jackson did in late 2002. Originally, Homer was supposed to blow the money on a star in the sky that went supernova, but the writers at the last minute changed it into something more current (which would serve as little more than a pop culture footnote years later).
- Maggie doing a dance in Dude Where's My Ranch that references Britney Spears' commercials for Pepsi. Not only is it completely random, but it's also something that totally goes over your head if you've never seen that specific TV commercial. It's even not clear which specific commercial she's directly referencing, which might explain why they had to have her dance to Oops I Did It Again on the radio to make it clear to the audience.
- This trope is blatant in season 15's "Co-Dependent's Day" when the family goes to see Cosmic Wars: Episode I, and it's a parody of the disappointment of Episode I. It would've been relevant in 1999 or 2000, but this episode was released in 2004. It also creates a Celebrity Paradox because Star Wars has been referenced by name dozens of times. Even more insulting that they already made a quick direct reference of Episode I by name in the 1999 Treehouse of Horror episode note when The Collector grabs his double edged lightsaber.
- "MyPods and Boomsticks" was filled to the brim with jabs at Apple and Steve Jobs (Mapple and Steve Mobs in the show) and it was obvious the writers weren't very familiar with them. This was carried over to the episode where Homer gets a MyPad and thinks Steve Mobs is contacting him from beyond the grave.
- The opening to the episode "To Surveil With Love," in which the entire Springfield populace lip syncs to Kesha's "TiK ToK" was an obvious attempt at pandering to a younger demographic (though this was done as part of a gimmicky stunt called "FOX Rocks" where FOX cobbles up musical moments from their Animation Domination shows, which is why the very serious Family Guy episode "Brian and Stewie" had a clip show of musical moments tacked on it). Many older fans growled at this unneccessary and obviously quickly out-dated attempt to be hip.
- "The D'oh-cial Network": It had loads of references to Facebook (the episode was even a parody of The Social Network, which would have been fine — had the episode actually aired around the time that that movie was popular), Twitter, Apple products, and stores that had recently gone out of business as of 2011. It also ended with an Anvilicious Aesop about not depending on technology. It doesn't help that the scenes ostensibly parodying The Social Network give little evidence that the writers even saw the movie. That the episode prominently features Creep by Radiohead, which featured in the trailer but not the actual film, reinforces this impression.
- One episode even lampshaded this with Itchy and Scratchy doing a Black Swan parody, with Bart and Lisa commenting on how the parody was considered current at the time it was written.
- Fall Out Boy performed the ending theme songs as guests on an episode that aired in 2009 - right after their Folie a Deux album had flopped, shortly before they went on hiatus, and at any rate nowhere close to their 2006-2007 heyday.
- "Lisa Goes Gaga" (the episode focusing on Lady Gaga's guest appearance) — much like the Ke$ha couch gag from "To Surveil With Love" and all of "The D'oh-cial Network" — played out like a Simpsons-Lady Gaga crossover fanfiction. While there have episodes with celebrity guest stars before on the show this was literally 20 minutes nothing but Lady Gaga ass kissing, which may have been great for her fans, but not to people who aren't really into her music. It's especially grading if you consider that some of the other famous iconic guest stars on the show like Paul McCartney, Elizabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas, ... only appeared in small cameo roles or parts that only took up 1/3d of the episode's plot. The episode rehashed a lot of jokes about Lady Gaga that have been done before and done better elsewhere) but also received some backlash from fans.
- A surprisingly quick example comes from the Couch Gag to "Gorgeous Grampa" which has the cast do the Harlem Shake (though the Harlem Shake was still fairly popular at the time, but still, when it reruns, who's going to remember the reference?).
- "Whiskey Business" continues the trend with references to the Occupy Wall Street pepper spray cop and the Tupac Shakur hologram looooong after they left the public mind.
- The 2005 episode "Thank God It's Doomsday" features another parody of "Who Let The Dogs Out," a song popular half a decade earlier.
- "Be Still My Cheating Bart" had a subplot where Homer, intending to exercise, buys a treadmill that has streaming video built in. He soon becomes wrapped up in watching episodes of Vanished, a blatant LOST parody, keeping notebooks full of clues and plot points from each episode. It was funny, but it would have been transcendently hilarious had the episode not aired in 2012 ... three years after the Lost finale, well after the last flame wars over what it meant it had died out online. This was so blatant an example of the trope the writers had to lampshade it twice, with both Lisa and Lenny pointing this out to Homer.
- This trope continues in the episode "Steal This Episode" with a parody of The Dark Knight Rises, which came out almost two years earlier.
- The more recent Treehouse of Horror episodes have begun to feel like this with parodies of Paranormal Activity (the episode airing five years after the first film was released), Avatar (two years after the film was released), Twilight (two years after the first film was released and already parodied to death) and 28 Days Later (seven years after the first film came out and another two years after the release of the sequel, 28 Weeks Later)
- South Park averts this trope due to the speed at which episodes can be made, including remaking planned episodes on the fly. For example, the quintuplets episode got changed from just about creepy quintuplets to being about Elian Gonzales' capture just after the raid and his return to Cuba.
- The episode "About Last Night" was about the winner of the presidential election broadcast the night after the election. And featuring verbatim lines from Obama's victory speech, to boot. The sequence was animated ahead of time but the voice acting was done only a couple of hours before airtime. Some of this was also luck - they'd originally wanted to have an alternate episode ready if McCain won, but decided for the sake of sanity to assume Obama would win - and guessed that if he lost, nobody would notice an episode of South Park in the ensuing frenzy. This same situation happened four years later with the episode "Obama Wins!"
- As you can probably guess, South Park can be (and has become) so incredibly topical that it possibly inverts this trope. Just for reference, an episode can be finished in three days (watch the documentary "Six Days to Air," which outlines how a South Park episode is created). This includes writing, animating, and voicing it.
- The usual prominence of this trope made the timing of the Facebook-based episode "You Have 0 Friends" especially odd, appearing several years after the site became a journalistic favorite and at least four years since Facebook first allowed members who didn't belong to a school/college. That and the overall tone made ''The AV Club'''s reviewer remark that the premise was akin to "a 44-year-old suburban dad who just doesn't understand what his kids are up to but knows he doesn't like it". In the DVD commentary, Trey explains that they made the episode because he had been resisting the Facebook fad for years and finally made an account, but felt like he was getting "sucked in" so the episode was based on his experiences with it, rather than trying to be hip and current.
- Also played straight with the timing of the "Princess Kenny" anime spoof from the Black Friday trilogy. It's a spot-on parody of Magical Girl and other anime shows that aren't Dragon Ball or Pokémon, even down to their Anime Theme Songs, dialogue in the "original" Japanese rather than a Hong Kong Dub for kids, and some obvious Moe elements for good measure... that was released in 2013, years after the anime fandom was at its peak. Justified, since most anime fans were teenagers during its popularity peak and are currently adults in South Park's age demographic; also partly thanks to these adults, the anime fandom is also still going strong, though not quite as much as during the mid-2000s.
- Despite all that, South Park has referenced a lot of stuff since 2000 that is bound to get out-dated in a few decades, because many of the trends they satirize return from the radar in a couple of months.
- Ironically, one problem the South Park writers have encountered is that they catch on too soon. Often they'll have a plot revolving around a fad sit on the shelf until they're sure audiences know what they're lampooning. This was the reason they held off on doing episodes about Tourette's and Asperger's for several years.
- Of late, there has been some nostalgia (mostly of the So Bad, It's Good kind) for The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. More specifically, people remember the cartoon hosted by wrestler Captain Lou, who starred as Mario in live-action framing segments. Almost nobody fondly remembers the "Club Mario" incarnation of the same series. The Captain Lou segments were deemed no longer cool and were swapped out for...this.
- Beavis and Butt-Head's relaunch is a debatable case of this — on the one hand, referencing things like Twilight and Super Size Me in 2011 does come off as the writers being late to the party. On the other hand, it's generally done to provide interesting jumping off points for the duo's misadventures. "Werewolves of Highland" is about the concept of Vampires Are Sex Gods, and the duo trying to take advantage of that to get chicks. "Supersize Me" has them following in Morgan Spurlock's footsteps (gorging on fast food and filming themselves doing so) in hopes of becoming similarly famous and (again) getting chicks. The commentary segments with music videos and MTV reality shows are strictly up-to-date humor.
- King of the Hill: The MySpace-centric episode when Strickland Propane starts networking with MySpace to bring in customers — in November, 2008, when most onliners had abandoned MySpace for Facebook and/or Twitter (among other social networks). It's easy to misblame the writers for being so out of date, but MySpace was owned at the time by News Corp, the parent company of FOX, which produced and aired King Of The Hill. Still, it works as Fridge Brilliance, since places like Arlen tend to not get into the latest trends in technology until long after they've been established as commonplace.
- The revived Futurama episodes make many pop culture references to things such as panic over the alleged 2012 apocalypse (which has come, gone, and proven to be a crock), President Obama's allegedly not having a birth certificate (even though he does), and other things from the late 2000s and early 2010s. While it can be stated that Futurama had a lot of catching up to do satire-wise after being canceled for so long, some fans are worrying that this trope is making the Comedy Central episodes of Futurama more like the latter-day episodes of The Simpsons. Sadly, this may have contributed to its recancellation in 2013. Either that, or it's yet another instance of Futurama getting Screwed by the Network.
- The Family Guy writers mocking Jimmy Fallon for his corpsing in the episode "Don't Make Me Over," which aired in June 2005 (right between the end of the 30th season, but a couple months before the start of SNL's 31st seasonnote . Fallon left the show at the end of the 2003-2004 seasonnote ). Sort of justified in that Family Guy was still canceled around the time that Fallon was on SNL and his cracking-up was a thing, but all the jokes about that dried up as soon as he left. Even The Simpsons' Take That against Jimmy Fallon (on the season 16 episode "Homer Away from Homer"note ) was timelier than this.
- The episode did acknowledge this by the simple fact that Fallon was hosting the show, implying he was no longer a regular cast member. The joke was little more than a throw-away at any rate; the actual plot of the episode was more about mocking teen pop stars and how they're overly sexualized.
- Subverted in the American Dad! episode "Hi Honey, I'm Homeland" where Stan gets brainwashed by some people from the Occupy movement. It's mentioned at the beginning of the episode while Occupy is not in the public eye anymore, the movement still exists.
- Also subverted in "Blagsnarst: A Love Story", the last American Dad episode to air on Fox before it's Channel Hop to TBS. Roger brings out a sniper rifle to take down a helicopter. He says "Okay, it'll be simple. I just have to pretend I'm Dick Cheney and that helicopter is my friend's face". However, he then says "Not the most timely reference, but it's not my fault more current people aren't shooting their friends in the face."
- The Fairly OddParents may be falling into this, seeing as one episode was about Timmy wishing for his mom to have a popular YouTube channel, and another was about Timmy wishing for a super-smartphone. At least the latter had a Shout-Out to HAL though.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Season 4 has been accused of this, due to references to internet memes from a pony with a Grumpy Cat cutie mark in "Rarity Takes Manehattan" to a ponified Slender Man appearing in the background of "Pinkie Apple Pie". note
- Referencing dated internet memes actually goes back to the season 2 premiere (which aired late 2011) where Pinkie makes a very non-subtle reference to "Chocolate Rain".
- Pinkie Pie's rap number in "Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3" appears to be a parody of this trope. Later in the episode, Pinkie tries it again, but Twilight is quick to remind her that it won't help with the current situation.
- This is one of aspects that started getting focused on more in the Kids' WB seasons of Animaniacs. The show started throwing throwing far more direct references and parodies to movies like Speed, Forrest Gump, and Fargo, shows like Friends and American Gladiators, and music like the Macarena a year or two after their release. It wound up having the effect of making the later seasons feel more dated than the earlier ones.