Web Original: Dirty Laundry: An Alternate 1980s

"Okay, Kootch, I get it," Don interrupted, still trying to clean up the mess. "Still, I can't shake this feeling that there's one more great song stuck up here." He pointed to his head, and then looked down at the mess. "But I think any chance of that just poured out into the carpet."

Inspired by the rise of pop-culture centered timelines brought about from That Wacky Redhead, AlternateHistory.com member Andrew T sought out to create his own, this one focusing on the 1980s. So, how did he go about doing it? Simple: with an album change.

If you are familiar with the Eagles, you should know this story: after the Eagles broke up in 1980, one of its founding members pursued a solo career. He was Don Henley and, in 1982, he released his very first solo album, I Can't Stand Still. From this came a song which managed to reach #3 on the charts, push the album to gold and help make Henley's solo career legitimate: "Dirty Laundry".

Now... what if Henley never recorded that song? Surely, one song wouldn't have that big an impact on history, right?


This work contains examples of:

    For Want Of A Nail 
  • Danny Kortchmar falling victim to the "imaginary table". Why? This led him to spill his Stolichnaya, which ultimately caused Henley and him to clean it up with "towels, napkins, and even Don's discarded notes"... including the ones which would've resulted in "Dirty Laundry".
    • A secondary one in this? Don's girlfriend, Maren Jensen, being woken up and talking Henley into going to bed early, convincing him that the album's done.
  • After Atari is forced to back out of their deal with Howard Scott Warshawnote , he quits. As such, Carla Meninsky was hired to take his place. Along with recruiting a team of programmers, she's able to create the one ET game that fits Steven Spielberg's vision: a Pac-Man clone. This makes it the Atari 2600's Killer App.
    • Plus by making a better ET game, The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 is averted.
      • Not to mention that Warshaw was later picked up by Activision and is able to have his game Saboteur be made/released properly ITTL, instead of it being turned into an The A-Team game and then shelved.
    • Furthermore Atari ends up in a way better position than it does in OTL. How much better? Atari would end up establishing a research division similar to IBM's that in OTL created the Deep Blue and Watson AIs.
  • Rick Allen still ends up in his infamous street race ITTL... but this time had enough caution to slow down at that curve, avoiding his accident.
  • Thanks to the success of "Panda Polka Party", "Weird Al" Yankovic decides to use a formula for future albums: Side A contains direct parodies of hit songs, Side B contains original content.
    • Speaking of which, because Al removed "Nature Trail to Hell" in lieu of "I Want a Panda", "'Weird Al' Yankovic in 3-D" became "Panda Polka Party".
    • Unrelated to "Panda Polka Party", the song "When I Was Your Age" is butterflied away because of Andrew's stance that it's a "Dirty Laundry" style parody (a song which doesn't exist ITTL).note 
  • While the specifics aren't clear yet, apparently by TTL's 2010s, DVDs don't exist.
  • Thanks to E.T. II bombing, Steven Spielberg decides to pull the plug on what would become Gremlins and delay Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, meaning it missed out on the summer blockbuster season.
    • On the flip-side, it comes out with a PG-13 rating, meaning the stuff that was cut IOTL to get it a PG rating is in tact.
  • Because of Prince's career failing due to Purple Rain flopping, the Parents Music Resource Center is never made.note 
  • Three words: No Live Aid.note 
  • Anna Spheeris dying at age 15 means The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years is never made.note 
  • In the 1984 Summer Olympics, Mary Lou Retton wound up receiving the silver medal in Gymnastics. You see, she was .05 points behind Ecaterina Szabo due to a "nearly-imperceptible bobble on her dismount", which led her to getting a 9.9.
    Andrew: I don't have to tell you what's changed here, do I?
    • Another Olympics nail: Who ended up taking the gold in Boxing ITTL? Evander Holyfield.
  • Because of Vince Neil dying in the car accident ITTL, Mötley Crüe ultimately bring in Axl Rose as his replacement. That's right. No "Guns N' Roses".
  • Apparently, the "Meese Report" is more expanded than IOTL.
  • Because Fletch does better ITTL, it manages to spawn several sequels... Fletch Lives apparently not being one.
  • Coca-Cola still goes to court over "New Coke". However, this time it gets hit hard, ultimately losing 39% of it's presence in the soft-drink market.note 
    • Funnily enough, while not stated by name, the trope is referenced in the post itself:
    Coke responded with a jingoistic – but initially successful – ad campaign declaring "It’s the Real American Thing," a riff on the company’s long-standing "It’s the Real Thing" ads. In the response commercials, Coca-Cola claimed to have switched to "corn sugar" – a euphemism for HFCS – because "it’s sugar grown right here in America." Initial consumer response was positive. Had those commercials been fifteen seconds long instead of thirty, Coca-Cola might have escaped with much of its market share intact. What followed were the fateful words of the stentorian announcer intoning that, except for the HFCS, "Coca-Cola uses the same recipe today that it did back in my great-grandfather’s day."
  • Stephen Pearcy, front-man for RATT, wound up getting arrested in Abilene, Texas during the '85 tour for "violating the state obscenity statute".
    • Also, Bon Jovi winds up covering for him for the rest of the tour (his band was the opening act, as per OTL, making this an easy thing to do).
  • Yet another example pointed out in-universe: It rained on the day of the 1985 congressional electionnote . "Had the day been sunny and bright – as the weather service had erroneously predicted – Henley would have surely lost."
  • The Impossiball is sold under Matchbox instead of Milton Bradley and is designed to be not just a twisty puzzle, but also something like a soccer ball.
  • The Heavy Metal "Satanism" moral panic ITTL is actually worse.
  • You know Richard Ramirez? You know, the "Night Stalker"? Well, not only did his actions tie into organised Satanism ITTL, but when the mob surrounded him after his mugshot was released to the public, they succeed in beating him to death.
    • This also apparently ties into a rise of vigilantism in the United States.
  • "February 1986: Of AIDS and the Philippines" details how Surgeon General C. Everett Koop mailing out the "Understanding AIDS" pamphlets two years earlier than IOTL affects President Ferdinand Marcos' snap election. The end result can be simply described as From Bad to Worsenote 
  • Despite still happening, Chernobyl winds up being one magnitude less disastrousnote  due to Toptunov managing to avoid inserting the graphite control rods too far into the reactor during the reduction process ITTL.
  • Instead of going into music, Kurt Cobain followed his friend Bobcat Goldthwait into comedy. No, really, that happens.
  • Because of Whos The Boss' crossover episode with Benson, we get confirmation that Benson takes place in Connecticut.
  • Good news? The California Raisins still exist ITTL. Bad news? It's In Name Only; instead of claymation raisins, we have The Weather Girls wearing raisin costumes. And, as a cherry on top, their signature song isn't "I Heard It Through The Grapevine"; it's a parody of "It's Raining Men" called "It's Raisin Bran!".

    In Spite Of A Nail 
  • Not only does Back to the Future still exist ITTL, but all but three of the actors remain the same from OTLnote .
    • The plots of the OTL Back to the Future films are essentially the same ITTL, only Part II is TTL's Part IV and Part III is TTL's Part II.
  • Posts involving album info reveal that The Other Wiki still exists ITTL.
  • Mash still has its finale ITTL, the same Nielson rating and the same amount of viewers as well.
    Andrew: All exactly as IOTL. Unlike certain other timelines, the M*A*S*H* finale remains one of the defining moments of the early 1980s ITTL.
  • Ronald Reagan still gets two terms ITTL.
    • Not to mention that the "Star Wars speech" still occurs on March 23, 1983.
      • Plus, the "Springsteen incident"note  still occurs as well. Really, it's shaping up that Reagan isn't that effected by the timeline.
      • Emphasis on "that".
  • Unfortunely, Billy Squier's "Rock Me Tonite?" music video is still a thing.
  • "Welcome to the Jungle" is still made, albeit as a Mötley Crüe song.
  • Despite it being released under Atari, the Nintendo Entertainment System only has three changes made to it from OTL.note 
  • We still get "New Coke". Oh, boy, do we still get "New Coke".
    • Not to mention that Bill Cosby is still chosen as the spokesman for Coca-Cola. However, unlike OTL, he was devastated after what was revealed in Mullins v. Coca-Cola, saying that he was "misled".
  • The Iran-Contra Scandal hasn't ("yet?") been butterflied away.
  • The Impossiball is still invented in the 1980s but has a slight design modification to make it "an actual, playable ball" on top of a twisty puzzle.
  • We still have a "Satanism" scare here... only worse.
  • Sadly, the "Night Stalker" still ran rampant ITTL. As for how it played out? ...well...
  • This post concerns two OTL events that still occur ITTL: "The Punisher"'s 1986 reboot and the Challenger disaster. The second one being a very sad case because Andrew wanted to avert it.
  • The "Understanding AIDS" pamphlets still get mailed out and President Ferdinand Marcos' snap election still happens. Thanks to them happening in the same year, however, butterflies result in Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile enacting a coup, declaring himself the sovereign government of the Philippines, dissolving the Batasang Pambansa and promising a "new Constitution.
    • Also Cardinal Jaime Sin still condemns the "Understanding AIDS"' pamphlets. The butterflies affect him too, however; he winds up getting arrested at Manila International Airport, which helps cause the above to happen in a way.
  • Chernobyl still happens but winds up being one magnitude less disastrous ITTL.
  • Ready to have your mind blown? Despite "Dirty Laundry" not existing ITTL, "Dirty Laundry" still exists (albeit as a feature-length film called "The Punisher: Dirty Laundry" instead of being a short film).
    • What makes this funnier is that Andrew only found out about that short film's existence after planning out the reboot of "The Punisher".
  • "The Wonder Years" still becomes a thing, even with Fred Savage starring in it!
  • The California Raisins are still a thing ITTL albeit In Name Only.
  • Warner still sells Atari mid-1984. Except it was due to Warner Bros. 's movie division not doing so well, lacking the successes of Gremlins and Purple Rain ITTL. And even if Atari was profitable, it still required heavy investment to develop new computers and Warner wasn't exactly aiming to be in the electronics business. Compared to OTL however, they sold Atari in one piece, instead of selling the games and hardware divisions separately. And the buyer? Honeywell, who wanted to mainly compete against IBM in selling business computers.
  • Jack Tramiel still gets forced out of Commodore, and buys a failing computer company, and have it sell hardware based on OTL's Atari ST. The failing company in this timeline, however, would be Tandy, not Atari.
  • Ray Kassar still gets investigated for insider trading in relation to Atari's moves. Instead of selling Warner stock before Atari's bad earnings were announced, he bought Warner stock on margin before Atari's sale was announced.
  • Sadly, "Son of Svengoolie" still gets cancelled ITTL.note  However, on the bright side, this still happens.note 

  • Actor Allusion: In-Universe, this is the primary joke of a Crossover between Benson and Whos The Boss, with Benson convinced he's seen Mona (played by Katherine Helmond, who was Jessica Tate in Soap) somewhere before.
  • Allohistorical Allusion: Albeit it's ITTL's Back to the Future Part III, but Marty going to 1967 counts.
    Andrew: I picked this date because IOTL, Kassar sold $250,000 worth of Warner stock just twenty minutes before Warner reported lower-than-projected profits of 10% for the year. Warner stock tanked at the announcement, and Kassar ultimately was investigated by the SEC for insider training, leading to his resignation. The cloud of (justifiable) suspicion that hung over Kassar for all of 1983 crippled Atari's reputation on Wall Street and contributed to the cascade of disaster IOTL.
  • All There in the Manual: Andrew had to point out in the footnotes for "The Kiss" that Michael Jackson didn't suffer the freak accident while filming that Pepsi commercial that set him on fire ITTL. "[He] couldn't find a way within the narrative structure of Dirty Laundry" to point this out.
    • It's not just the footnotes; as mentioned under Line to God, Andrew talks to the readers in regards to events of the timeline. Including stuff that isn't outright mentioned in the timeline proper.
  • Alternate Techline: You can thank the Atari focus here for this trope's presence, especially with "The Home Computer Market Crash of 1984".
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The idea of Michael Bolton being a heavy metal artist seem out there for you? Well, it's as per OTL. The fact that it appears it's going to stick, however...
  • Anachronic Order: At one point, we jumped narrative wise from March 25, 1983, to December 7, 1982 (and January 6, 1983), then (technically, thanks to The Other Wiki) to August 15th, 1983.
  • A World Half Full / Empty: As in That Wacky Redhead, while bad things do spring about in this version of The Eighties, good things also happen.
  • Bait and Switch: The narrative of "November 6, 1984: Election Day with Don Henley" makes it seem like the election was a closer race ITTL, until it's ultimately revealed that Regan won all 50 states.
  • Breather Episode: "May 31, 1985", considering the posts that proceeded/followed it. All it serves is to say that Fletch is more successful ITTL.
  • Book Ends: The Back to the Future film series ITTL begins and ends with Marty going back to 1955.note 
  • Composite Character: The Punisher ITTL borrows from OTL's Wolverine. Considering that Chris Claremont wrote the 1986 reboot ITTL...
    • Two of the Unabomber's victims IOTL, James V. McConnell and Hugh Scrutton have been combined (at least the attacks anyway) into Original Character Murray Fishbein, "owner of a personal computer store in Sunnyvale, California".
    • Another example is with the TTL band "Magnatar", which isnote  a combination of Slayer and the Beastie Boys.
  • Creator Killer: Barely avoided in regards to "E.T. II" for Steven Spielberg.
    • "The Kiss" appears to have damaged Madonna's reputation ITTL, having her blacklisted in radio stations in the South and causing "Like a Virgin" to only enter #2 on the charts, as opposed to #1.
  • Darkest Hour: "As Election Season Continues" ends with it looking like Henley's campaign will still fail in spite of the turnaround, and Henley starting to lose hope.
    Dave: (choked up) "It's not over yet, Don. Make your calls. Pray, if that's your sort of thing. Just don't give up."
  • Different World, Different Movies: A small example, TTL's answer to VH-1's "I Love the '80s!" is MTV's "Hey, I Remember the '80s!".
    • We also have I Robot... the 1986 version.
  • Downer Beginning: How this timeline starts: Don Henley's career tanking.
  • Downer Ending: Hanoi Rocks still breaks up ITTL because of Razzle dying in the car accident, but this time, all four people involved died.
    • "Bite the Wax Tadpole" ends with Coca-Cola being hit hard thanks to the "New Coke" debacle.
    • "February 1986: Of AIDS and the Philippines" ends with Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile (with help from Lt. Colonel Gregorio Honasan) enacting a coup which results in him declaring himself being the Philippines' sovereign government.
  • Election Night: The posts concerning the 1984 presidential election and the 1985 congressional election.
  • The Eighties: Duh. Although, it's been hinted that this timeline may go past this decade.note 
  • Flanderization: Zig-zagged in regards to Mark Crispin Miller:
    Andrew: Possibly I have Flanderized poor Mr. Miller, who really has written some good stuff on the intersection of politics and pop culture. Or possibly I'm still reacting to his characterization of Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" as (and I'm quoting here): "As hideous a cacophony as has ever met the airwaves."
    • An in-universe example comes from Rush Limbaugh's 1986 stunt of essentially parodying himself by convincing his listeners that Slim Whitmannote 's songs contain Satanic messages. While the event also occurred IOTL, ITTL he's successful in gaining the national attention he desired.
  • Executive Meddling: invoked Honeywell bought Atari only with the intent of competing against IBM in the field of business computers, not sell high-end machines like the Amiga to challenge the Apple Macintosh or develop game console successors. Atari staff still manages to sneak some of the Amiga chipset into the new business machines, and Atari already made a deal with Nintendo before the Honeywell purchase.
  • Footnote Fever: Another trope shared with That Wacky Redhead. For example, "1985 and the Small Screen" has 34.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Mentioned in regards to the Intellivision 3:
    Andrew: At what is essentially the NEO GEO price pointnote , well, you can probably guess it's fate.
  • Foreshadowing: Near the end of the "May 31, 1985" post, after mentioning how Back to the Future, Rambo, and Rocky IV were "the 'Big Three' movies of 1985", like IOTL:
    Andrew: Spoiler: this will be the last year for which that holds true.
    • Another interesting case is the existence of "The Lost Episode", a sketch-comedy show that doesn't exist IOTL. Think of it as a better, well-recieved "The New Show". Why is this an example? It pretty much gives away the fate of Saturday Night Live ITTL.
      Andrew: [W]ithout OTL's bomb The New Show, Lorne Michaels doesn't go crawling back to NBC to write for SNL in 1985. Now, SNL['s] still on the air during a very lowly-regarded 1985 season, but if you think this bodes ill for its future, you'd be correct....
    • In a similar vein, Fletch's increased success ITTL and that "The Goonies R Good Enough" is missing from Cyndi Lauper's discography gives away the fact that The Goonies doesn't exist ITTL.note 
  • Futureshadowing: The "Where Are They Now?" transcript/episode which reveals, along with other minor details, Def Leppard breaks up in 1993.
    • Actually defied in "Hey, I Remember The 1980s!", where Andrew cuts the transcript short since, narratively speaking, the timeline is still in May 1986.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Coca-Cola's plan of releasing "New Coke" to compete with Pepsi in the cola wars. How badly did this go down? By 1989, the company only accounts for 11% of the soft-drink market, as opposed to the 50% it had originally. Yeah.
  • The Great Video Game Crash of 1983: ... Come again? I think you mean "The Home Computer Market Crash of 1984".
  • Historical In-Joke: It's a bit ironic how John Cusack played Marty in Back to the Future, considering that was a very likely possibility IOTL.
  • History Repeats: The pose Michael Jordan made, holding up the "Steal of the Century" Chicago Tribune issuenote  is described as being "a mockup of the paper's other high-profile headline blunder".
  • Honor Before Reason: Don's steadfast refusal to go along with Dave's plan to counteract Edd Hargett's plans to win the election, despite that it looking like they have no other options.
    Don: You're telling me that I have to choose between my principles and politics, and that's not a hard choice, Dave. If politics asks me to go back on my word, to lie, cheat, and steal the votes I need to get over the finish line, well, then politics asks too much.
  • Hope Spot: Apparently, despite I Can't Stand Still flopping, Danny Kortchmar hoped that he and Henley would one day take another crack at making an album. Then Henley calls up on May 21, 1985 saying he's running for Congress.
  • It Amused Me: The reason why Andrew decided to keep IBM's logo as the Little Tramp bowler hat ITTL.
    • Also his reasoning behind having Coca-Cola's "Project Kansas" be in all capital letters.
    Andrew: [B]ecause (a) it sounds more ominous, and (b) it sounds more '80s. Can't you just picture a secret folder in Red Dawn labeled "PROJECT KANSAS"? I sure can.
    • Also his reasoning in keeping the picture of the "Credit Card Bank", with the kid in the suit, as is ITTL.
    Andrew: This toy is completely unchanged from OTL, but that picture is just so adorably ‘80s I had to include it. He’s wearing a little suit and tie!
  • It Will Never Catch On: Near the end of his "Is New Wave Dead?" article, Kurt Loder says that he feels "[his] colleagues [arguing] that [Rolling Stone magazine] should declare Irish rockers U2 the 'Band of the '80s'" is "premature".
  • Kick the Dog: Yeah, Kevin Gardner wasn't too kind to Henley in informing him that his contract with Asylum was done:
    "Yeah, done. As in 'cancelling your contract.' As of now, you and your Uilleann pipes are headed for the discount bin at Tower Records. Your advance check is in the mail, but I wouldn't stay up late at night waiting to hear about royalties." Kevin laughed cruelly, and then hung up.
  • Japanese Ranguage: A gag about TTL's Minoru Niihara's accent, which he plays into, starting with the "I glue up in Indianaporis!" campaign for placing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Indiana. (Andrew notes that this is racist, but wouldn't have been seen as such in the eighties.)
  • Killer App: ITTL's "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" for the Atari 2600. ... No. Really.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: An example that played the long game: Danny Kortchmar accidentally caused Don Henley's solo carrier to fail by preventing "Dirty Laundry". Then Don decided to enter politics; then he decided to run for Congress. He asks Kootch to be his campaign manager, who (after having his hopes of he and Don try to make another album crushed) agrees. And then enters Les Francis who tells Don (while helping him fix his failing campaign) to fire Kootch. And then after saying he can't, Don mulls this over... and decides to do it.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: This episode of "Where Are They Now?" aired ITTL on the same day the post itself was posted: February 28, 2013.
  • Life Imitates Art: Having Michael Bolton play the lead member of the heavy metal band "Rampage" (the rival band to "Steel Cobra") on the CBS show "Dreams".
    • A minor example that's also Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The "Where Are They Now?" transcript post being posted on the day it took place: February 28th, 2013.
      • A similar example comes from "late April - early May, 1986"note : It was posted on April 29th, 2014 and the post starts on April 29th, 1986.
  • Little "No": Don's response to Dave's newest, last resort plan to help Don win the Senate election.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Andrew states that this is the fundamental reasoning why The Weather Girls were so willing to not only Sell Out, but also bother dressing up as raisins when touring as "The California Raisins". And yes, this means no claymation raisins ITTL.
  • Mood Whiplash: After "1985 in Music: The Year In Review", we get... this.
    • "Violence and Tragedy" is a short two-subject post. It starts out dealing with "The Punisher"'s 1986 reboot... before switching gears into discussing the Challenger disaster. Yeah.
  • Never Tell Me the Odds: Don Henley's response to Les Francis' remarks about how his campaign's failing:
    Don: Mr. Francis, I've let you come into my house and insult me. I've watched, and I've listened while you've shattered my hopes and dreams. So maybe I am stupid, but I still believe I can make a difference in this world. I've met the people of this district, and I know many of them agree with me. And I'm going keep going out there until August the third and see if I can't prove you and your polling data wrong.
  • Never Trust a Title: The "Lucy Meets the Harlem Globetrotters" sketch from "The Lost Episode", "an absurdist mashup of I Love Lucy, Scooby-Doo, Gilligan's Island, and – for some completely unknown reason – Mork and Mindy".
    Andrew: Note that the Harlem Globetrotters were not actually in this episode.
  • The New Rock & Roll: An "Interem Report" was proposed to Meese Commission Chairman Henry E. Hudson concerning "'more than 100' popular heavy metal songs from groups such as Iron Maiden, Mötley Crüe, Judas Priest, Slayer, AC/DC and WASP '[containing] coded Satanic messages' that 'may be used to brainwash children'". It's rejected because Hudson feels it's "beyond the scope of [the] Committee’s authority to regulate and control pornography". That's despite agreeing with the findings, btw.
    • Really though, thanks to TTL's War on Satanism, this trope has a firm place in this timeline.
  • Non-Indicative Title: Zig-zagged: "December, 1984: For Those About to Rock...." actually consists of a transcript of the February 28, 2013, episode of ITTL's MTV show "Where Are They Now?"note .
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Andrew had to point out in the footnotes that "E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears" was almost a real movie.
    • He also had to point out that Chuck Thompson really did like to say "Go to war, Miss Agnes!" as a Catchphrase.
    • And that Weird Al winning a Grammy for "Eat It" happened as well IOTL.
    • Andnote  that IBM also used the Little Tramp bowler hat for a logo IOTL.
    • And that there really was a TV adaptation of Stir Crazy.
  • Nothing But Hits: Straight up defied. We experience the full brunt of 1980s music here, changes factored in where appropriate.
    • Of course, the Billboard Top 100 keeps making appearances.
  • Number of the Beast: Concerning timing with posts, narrowly averted: "Night Stalker" was only the 668th post.
  • Original Character: Also as in That Wacky Redhead, it took a while for this to crop up in the form of Dave Orlovsky, Don's new campaign manager. However, he is based off of a real life person.
    • There's also Murray Fishbein, "owner of a personal computer store in Sunnyvale, California" and the Unabomber's first fatality ITTL. See Composite Character.
  • Original Flavour: For the timeline, "I Want a Panda".
    • This also goes for the document portions of the timeline, like Roger Ebert's E.T. II review or Mark Crispin Miller's "Boxed In: TV After 1984" column.
  • Orwellian Editor: *Wikipedia, apparently.
    Andrew: But just try editing *Wikipedia in the Dirty Laundryverse; the damn editors keep rejecting the changes....
  • Out of Focus: "Hey, Isn't This Timeline About Don Henley?"
    • Lately, however, more of a focus was given towards Henley's Senate campaign and the 1985 Senate election.
  • Panda-ing to the Audience: Yep, "I Want a Panda" qualifies, even if Weird Al got in trouble for the song and Panda Polka Party.
    Panda Polka Party and the single "I Want a Panda" were criticized by PETA as offering implicit support for China's "rent-a-panda" program, instituted in 1984, whereby pandas were "loaned" to other nations for a period of ten years in exchange for a large cash fee, often exceeding USD$1,000,000.
  • Painful Rhyme: "I'm not a political singer. I wrote 'I Want a Panda' because there aren't too many words that rhyme with 'Amanda,' and I think I already used all of them in the song. And even then, I had to mispronounce 'Uganda.'"
  • Pet the Dog: Atari manages to do better ITTL, even managing to go through with the deal with Nintendo to sell the Famicom overseas as the "Atari Nintendo".
    • "We Built This City" does better ITTL thanks to it being a Heart song.
    • Ryan White is allowed to return to his school in spite of having AIDS ITTL, even managing to live long enough to graduate (dying on June 23rd 1990 this time, as opposed to OTL's April 8th).
  • Real-Life Relative: As John Cusack plays Marty McFly ITTL, Joan Cusack plays (along with other roles in the series) Linda McFly.
  • Relationship Upgrade: A forced example: Les Francis tells Don Henley to propose to his girlfriend, Maren.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Believe it or not, the E.T. Atari game.
    • "We Built This City" thanks to two changes: it being a Heart song, and the decision to rework it so that it leads into an abridged "Rock and Roll" cover.
  • Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman: After his solo-career tanked, Don Henley decided to enter into politics. And, as of August 4th, 1985, he is now a Congressman.
  • Scrapbook Story: This makes up a large portion of the timeline currently. We have album info, movie reviews, TV Guide pages, written essays, interviews, transcripts, and so on.
    • Switching P.O.V.: This makes up the remaining portion, most often than not focusing on Don Henley.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: A minor one, but Andrew revealed this in regards to Madonna's treatment ITTL:
    I think OTL's Madonna — you know, in my fantasy where she spends her off-hours reading alternate history forums — would be flattered by the implication, which is: it is possible to re-imagine the 1980s without Madonna?
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Appropriately enough, the post concerning ITTL's Heavy Metal "Satanism" moral panic is titled "DRAWKCAB".
  • Sequel Series: "Still The Big Chill".
  • Sell Out: This is what The Weather Girls have done ITTL by partnering with Raisin Bran to create the song "It’s Raisin Bran!", a parody of their hit "It's Raining Men", which becomes the cereal's most successful commercial.
    • This in turn leads to a resurgence of popularity for the group and a tour in 1987 as "The California Raisins". And, not making this up, this involved them wearing raisin costumes.
  • Shout-Out: In-Universe, "April 11, 1985" features Bill Mensch referencing "Bunker Hill Bunny" during an interview with Calvin Thompson concerning Atari and Compaq uniting to develop the Atari Portable.
    So Bill's plan was simple. "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," he said, giving his best Yosemite Sam impersonation.
  • Shown Their Work: As pointed out in the footnotes, "Election Results" doubles as "a helpful guide to election coverage in any timeline".
  • So Bad, It's Horrible: CBS's ill-fated "Movie Night in America!" blocknote , consisting of "Stir Crazy", "Still The Big Chill", and "Ghostbusters".
  • Special Effect Failure: A common problem in the Ghostbusters TV show.
    The special effects get more laughs than the scripts.
  • Spiritual Successor: "Living in the Past: An Alternate 1970s".
  • Star-Derailing Role: Yeah, it should be obvious by now, but Henley's solo career died on impact ITTL.
    • You can thank E.T. II for doing this to Michael J. Fox.
      • Although, given that after 2.5 years of Hollywood blackballing, he got the role of Roy Stalin in Better Off Dead, things might be turning around. After all, Ebert gives it two stars ITTL.
    • Because of Purple Rain flopping ITTL, Prince counts as well.
  • Take a Third Option: Sort of: Instead of outright firing Kootch as his campaign manager, Don gives him to Glenn Frey as to be the latter's new song writer.
    • Atari engineers had a debate on which sound chip would be better for games due to not only having the in-house developed AMY chip (made for reproducing speech), but also the PAULA chip (good for creating music) that came with the Amiga hardware, which they outright own ITTL. The solution? Combine both. The resulting chip is so good that it and variations end up in Atari computers for 10 years.
  • Take That: In-universe, we have a stunt that also occurred IOTL: Rush Limbaugh making fun of the "Satanism" moral panic by claiming that Slim Whitman's songs had underlying Satanic messages. Given how much bigger said panic is ITTL and that this stunt got him the attention he sought out by doing this IOTL, this is an interesting case.
  • Titled After the Song: Yes, even though the song doesn't exist ITTL, this counts.
  • Trilogy: Doesn't apply to Back to the Future ITTL. ...that's because there's four films.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: The six minute version of "La Eile" ITTL.
    Kevin Gardner: And why, exactly, did you put a six minute slide whistle solo on the album? What were you thinking?
    Don Henley: Uilleann pipes. They're Uilleann pipes. And Paddy Moloney is a musical genius.
  • True Companions: Don and Kortchmar, as per OTL. ...but recent evidence shows that this will be tested...
  • Very Special Episode: Still prevalent ITTL, as evidenced by Family Ties having a string of these resulting in Elyse Keaton's pregnancy ending in a miscarriage and causing the Keatons to adopt a little girl they re-name Ariel Moonbeam Keaton (played by OTL's ill-fated Judith Barsi).
  • Wham Episode: "January 27, 1984". Or, "Roger Ebert's Movie Reviews: E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears". The title alone says it all (providing you knew about the subject matter beforehand).
    Andrew: So there you have it: proof that this timeline is not a utopia.
    • "January, 1985 Consumer Electronics Show (CES)" which more or less states that the Macintosh is screwed.
    • "Let's Go Crazy" reveals that Prince isn't safe from the timeline... not at all.
    • "December, 1984: For Those About to Rock...." reveals that Guns N' Roses isn't founded ITTL because of Axl Rose being picked up as Vince Neil's replacement for Mötley Crüe. ... Because Vince died.
    • "July 5, 1985": Don receives a visit from Les Francis who, after revealing that Don "blew a thirty five point lead in five weeks", helps Don rework his campaign. This involves demanding Don to fire Kortchmar as his campaign manager and marry Maren.
    • "Bite the Wax Tadpole", which covers ITTL's "New Coke" debacle. The outcome is the equivalent of smacking someone upside the head. With a brick.
    • "January 30, 1986"note . Why is this an example? Well, simply for the reveal that Bernhard Goetz, who had all charges dropped against him ITTL, becomes New York's mayor in 1993.
    • "'A Tale of Two IPOs'", while mostly covering how AtariSoft Inc.note  had created an IPO, ends revealing that Microsoft's IPO may be in trouble ITTL.
    "By circulating a heavily-amended prospects, Microsoft is essentially inviting rumors that the deal is fishy. This is the sort of thing that can scare off institutional investors and tank an IPO."
  • Wham Line: From "July 27, 1982":
    • From "December 7, 1982":
    "By the end of 1983, Commodore will drop the price of the C-64 to under $200, and it will become the best-selling computer of all time, selling more than fifteen million units, and driving Texas Instruments, Timex-Sinclair, Coleco, Tandy-Radio Shack, and the IBM PCjr from the personal computer market in what is now called the 'Home Computer Market Crash of 1984.'"
    • From "Let's Go Crazy":
    "'Purple Rain is the sixth and penultimate studio album by American recording artist Prince and The Revolution and is the soundtrack album to the 1984 film of the same name.'"note 
    • From "July 5, 1985"; also one that doubles as an in-universe one for Don:
    Les Francis: "I'm not here to lick envelopes, Don. I'm here so that I can meet the asshole who's managed to blow a thirty-five-point lead in five weeks."
    • A blink-and-you'll-miss-it one occurs in "APPENDIX TWO: The 1985 MLB June Amateur Draft":
      Other notable picks:‎
      LHP Bruce Ruffin (2nd round, Cleveland Indians)‎
      1B Tino Martinez (2nd round, Baltimore Orioles)‎
      OF Deion Sanders (5th round, Los Angeles Dodgers)‎
      OF Stanley Burrell (38th round, Oakland A's)‎
      • And if you did miss it, "Hey, I Remember The 1980s!" reminds you:
        Monday, September 29, 1986. Oakland Athletics outfielder Stanley "The Hammer" Burrell blasts his 11th home run in the month of September. The rookie did it in dramatic fashion, with two on in the bottom of the ninth, giving the A's a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over the Texas Rangers.
    • While there's a bigger one at the end of it, "Bite the Wax Tadpole" opens with one which gives a general idea of how things play out:
    "Most people today – having been thoroughly immersed in the spectacle that was the Mullins v. Coca-Cola lawsuit – point to 1985 as the 'Year That Coke Lost The Cola Wars'".
    • And then there's "Night Stalker"note :
      "Ramirez, who was an avowed Satanist, was identified, surrounded, and beaten to death the day after his mug shot was broadcast on national television and printed on the cover of every major newspaper in California."
      • Although, really, this was already revealed thanks to:
      Ricardo Leyva "Richard" Muñoz Ramírez (February 29, 1960 – September 1, 1985)
    • A footnote version in "January 26, 1986":
      [6] If you're wondering, because Saturday Night Live is cancelled in 1986, there's never a Christopher Walken-Will Ferrell-Blue Oyster Cult "more cowbell" sketch to which this could be compared.
    • From "'A Tale of Two IPOs'":
      Meanwhile, another once-highly-anticipated IPO has been set back due to regulatory concerns. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a strongly-written opinion letter criticizing what it called "gun jumping" and "illegal touting" by Seattle-based Microsoft, Inc. of certain of its products in advance of the planned IPO.
    • From "Hey, I Remember The 1980s!", we get informed of one of the most bizzare butterflies to occur so far:
      And now, here's our "big" star, Mr. Center Square himself, Kurt Cobain!
      CUT TO: Kurt Cobain, Actor/Comedian, "The New Hollywood Squares"
  • Wham Shot:
  • What Could Have Been: Yeah, Andrew originally was going to have Matthew Broderick replace Michael J. Fox for Back to the Future.
    • In-Universe, Don Henley responded with this after Danny Kortchmar said that the lyrics Henley and Mike Campbell wrote had the potential for a number one hit.note 
    When he'd shown the lyrics to Kortchmar, Kootch insisted he was sitting on a potential number one hit. For a few minutes, Kootch saw that spark and thought they might actually try and put together another album – but then Don just shook his head. "File it all under 'what could have been,' Kootch." And so he did.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's not really explained why the Ghostbusters TV show left out Winston Zeddemore from the cast...
  • What the Hell, Hero?: This is how Henley's New York Times' editorial is written in regards to Ronald Reagan using "Born In The USA" for he re-election campaign.
    "Apparently, Mr. Reagan — or whomever calls the shots on the President's staff — somehow managed to confuse Bruce's thoughtful, introspective lyrics with the usual mindless, flag-waving, America-love-it-or-leave-it nonsense one typically associates with the Reagan campaign."
    • Let's just say the critics had a field day when Regan essentially called the Madonna / Michael Jackson kiss "pornographic".
    • Les Francis delivers a small one when meeting with Don, calling him "the asshole who's managed to blow a thirty-five-point lead in five weeks."
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Subverted in regards to Benson: in the crossover episode with Whos The Boss, the setting is revealed to be in Connecticut (same as Whos The Boss and Soap).
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Five words: BRIAN BLESSED as Mr. Belvedere.

But by and large, this TL is meant to be a trip back to the 1980s where up is down, black is white, and Saturday Night Live is cancelled in 1986. Doesn't that sound at least a little bit fun to you?