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Deader Than Disco

Go To
The exact moment this trope was born.

Angelica: Aunt Didi, what's disco?
Didi: Oh, nothing, sweetheart. It's something that happened a long time ago and it's never, never coming back, so don't you worry.
Rugrats, "Garage Sale" note 

At some point in time, there was a thing — an individual work, the body of work of a particular creator/performer/artist, an entire genre — that got very, very popular. But at some point, it somehow just got too popular. It was talked about on every radio station, on every TV network, in every chat room. It was overexposed until people got bored with it, and it got so much publicity and so many bad imitators that there was plenty of time to notice each and every flaw and dissect them under a microscope. Soon, small insignificant flaws become regarded as unavoidable and unforgivable sins. The final tell-tale sign is ridicule or even hatred, coming not just for the thing itself but for the people who like it. They become the subject of nasty, highly-specific stereotypes, and gushing about liking it online, even if meant completely sincerely, is considered trolling.


Ten years later, almost nobody will admit that they ever liked this thing, and the only mention in the media will be cheap jokes about the fad. Retrospectives of the time in which it was popular will either point to it as a symbol of everything wrong with that time period's taste in its medium, or quietly skip over it and just pretend it never happened. It may get revived decades later as So Bad, It's Good or by Bile Fascination, but it's unlikely to be popular on its own merits ever again. In fiction (and Real Life), a Disco Dan is a rare admirer who refuses to accept the judgment of history and passionately holds on to the belief that the dead thing is still as big as it always was — usually with comical results.

When all of this has happened, that thing which was once so full of life is not just dead; it's Deader than Disco.


Of course, twenty or thirty years later, the situation may change again. Then again, maybe not.

Sometimes caused by people saying that It's Popular, Now It Sucks! too much, but not always: at its height, these people usually exist, but are typically not very vocal. It's particularly common with things that never had a cult following, to begin with — they went from nowhere to everything, and then back to nowhere, very suddenly. This is essentially Hype Backlash after something faded from popularity with the haters still remaining.

For a more detailed examination of the ways a work can become Deader Than Disco, see the Analysis page.

Compare Jumping the Shark, Periphery Hatedom, Dead Horse Genre, Fallen Creator, Hatedom, and Discredited Meme. Contrast Vindicated by History and Nostalgia Filter. Also contrast Overshadowed by Controversy, where uproar sparked by or around a work is more well-known than the work itself. If a single work is perceived as rendering something Deader Than Disco, it's a Creator Killer, Franchise Killer, Genre-Killer or Star-Derailing Role. Compare and contrast Unintentional Period Piece, when a work can be precisely dated to a specific era, but it may (or may not) have remained popular up to the present day.

Not to be confused with Deader Than Dead, which is a completely different trope, or Gratuitous Disco Sequence, which is actually about disco. Has nothing to do with the dead dancing to disco, either.

Important note: A show or other work which is currently in production is not dead by definition, and cannot be an example even if popular opinion has turned against it. This is also not a place to be Complaining About Shows You Don't Like.


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  • Cigarette ads on television were banned in the UK in 1965note , and in the US in 1970. Nowadays, they're looked back on as a symbol of how naive people were at the time about the dangers of tobacco use, and as symbols of kitsch from the '50s and '60s. The knowledge that at least four of the men who played the Marlboro Man in advertisements later died of lung cancer wound up making Marlboro's ads in particular Harsher in Hindsight, especially knowing the lengths to which tobacco companies went to deny or downplay the health risks of smoking.
  • Erin Esurance was a highly popular mascot for Esurance during the latter half of the 2000s. A pink-haired, Spy Catsuit-clad Action Girl inspired by shows like Alias and Kim Possible, she was a hit among young men and women and greatly boosted Esurance's brand appeal, both intentionally and with unexpected surges of pornographic fan art involving her. In fact, there was so much porn of the character — some of which popped up when people merely searched for Esurance on a search engine — that Esurance had no choice but to ax the character in 2010 and scrub all references to her from their website. Then everyone started questioning why you need some kind of spy, even a sexy one, to sell auto insurance, and all but dismissed her. By The New '10s, she was actually less popular than Microsoft's Clippy, and is understandably Esurance's Old Shame.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Once upon a time, 4Kids Entertainment was one of the most profitable anime distributors in America, holding properties like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh!. While the company was always hated by the anime fandom due to their localization practices, which so heavily censored and edited titles to the point that they had little in common with the source material, their properties were massively popular amongst the general population. As time went on and the anime boom began to lose steam, 4Kids' fortunes took a drastic turn for the worse. After suffering two bankruptcies, being sold off to various other companies in pieces, and having all their biggest properties scattered across different companies, it's pretty safe to say that 4Kids is gone for good. While they did have some well-received properties in their day (and some are still looked upon with some fondness and nostalgia, such as the aforementioned series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), and Kirby: Right Back at Ya!), today they're remembered mostly as "butchers" of various anime properties — particularly their disastrous localization of One Piece.

    Comic Books 
  • It's hard to imagine, but there was a time when Chuck Austen was a well-regarded figure and a legitimately popular up-and-comer in the world of comics. After a number of fits and starts, he was catapulted to fame by the twelve-issue miniseries US War Machine, which played on the mix of the manga boom and the popularity of mature comics to become a surprise hit. When he was placed on Uncanny X-Men, running simultaneously with Grant Morrison's seminal New X-Men, it was no surprise at all to readers.

    The result? An utterly nonsensical story about Nightcrawler being an actual demon and the conspiracy by a sect of the Catholic Church to appoint him as the Pope. An arc that served as a bizarre retelling of Romeo and Juliet that featured rednecks wearing Powered Armor and a midair public sex scene. The story where the Juggernaut pulls a Heel–Face Turn and bangs She-Hulk for no reason. And the introduction of Creator's Pet Annie Ghazikhanian (based off his wife Ann Austen, more known as a writer for Power Rangers than anything else). Austen also had short runs on many other famous books, from The Avengers to Captain America, each time being chased off by increasingly irritated fans.

    He eventually jumped ship to DC, who handed him Action Comics, at which he proceeded to write a Derailing Love Interests plot that pleased neither Lois Lane fans nor Lana Lang fans. It would be his last mainstream work, and he's since gone back to TV animation (which he'd been doing before going into comics; strangely, perhaps because of him not writing them, the shows he's worked on have been successful) under the name Chuckles Austen. Chris Sims summed him up thusly:
    "When you look at that crowd of new comics writers that was really making waves at the start of this century, guys like Bendis and Geoff Johns, Austen was right in there with them, with four solid years as one of the most prominent writers in that crop of creators. And yet, the best thing you can say about Austen’s work in super-hero comics is that occasionally, it wasn’t absolutely terrible."
  • Rob Liefeld, while never a critical favourite, was nevertheless considered one of the most successful writers/artists during The Dark Age of Comic Books. He created several famous characters, such as Deadpool and Cable. He also helped start Image Comics and was influential through his work on Youngblood. However, after the Dark Age ended, he became a laughingstock for being a Lazy Artist (not drawing feet, creating unrealistic and generic character designs, not caring about perspective or how the human body works, and overusing pouches), and for plagiarizing concepts from other people (for example, Deadpool started off as an Expy of Deathstroke). Today Youngblood is usually seen as So Bad, It's Good (though the later revivals of the series in 1998, 2008, 2012 and 2017 were better received) and even Liefeld himself considers the first few issues of the series to be an Old Shame (though many have praised the Youngblood trade paperback for fixing many of the problems the original issues had) which is generally considered a poor rip-off of the Teen Titans, and Image has moved away from superhero comics like it. Cable and Deadpool are still popular, but that's thanks to other writers who developed them in different ways than Liefeld and are generally considered their true creators by fans. What little goodwill Liefeld still had by the 2000s dried up after a much-publicized feud with Peter David after the latter revealed that the character Shatterstar, who had been created by Liefeld for X-Force and was at the time being used by David in X-Factor, was bisexual. This move was very well-received by fans (and given Shatterstar's origins, seems fairly obvious in hindsight), but Liefeld was incensed that the move had been made without consulting him and many felt his comments on the subject were worryingly close to biphobic (though Atop the Fourth Wall's numerous reviews of his comics didn't help). Nowadays, the only times you hear about Liefeld is mockery of his art-style or his lackluster characters, and comic book fans consider him to be the ultimate embodiment of everything wrong with The Dark Age Of Comics.

Specific Works

  • "Endgame", the famous 4-part supposed-to-have-been Grand Finale for Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), at one time was a popular storyline, with how the stakes seem to rise, culminating in a one-on-one No-Holds-Barred Beatdown between Sonic and Robotnik. However, due to a combination of time passing and the bad blood garnered towards writer Ken Penders in the wake of his lawsuit that led to the Archie series first undergoing a Continuity Reboot and then being canceled entirely, many fans have begun to call it nothing more than an Idiot Plot.
  • Gen13 was a massive hit for WildStorm back in the late nineties, being part of their holy trinity with Stormwatch and Wildcats. It was also one of the first American comics to feature a lesbian character in a major role, in the form of Rainmaker. At its height, it spawned two spin-offs (DV8 and Bootleg) and a number of crossovers and miniseries. Unfortunately, following the departure of co-creators Brandon Choi and J. Scott Campbell, the series was taken over by a succession of other creative teams who strayed far from the series' original lighthearted tone, and then hit its nadir when Chris Claremont took over, forced his predecessor to kill off the original team, and replaced them with a new team made up of ethnic stereotypes. At the same time, Wildstorm itself was moving towards more adult-oriented work like The Authority, and thus no longer saw its teen heroes as a priority. By the time Wildstorm rebooted itself with Worldstorm, the "Genies" had fallen so far out of the company's esteem that Gail Simone was largely left to her own devices to reboot the franchise, resulting in a series that bore little connection to the rest of Worldstorm. Nowadays, the franchise is remembered mainly for the Values Dissonance-laden Fanservice involving its teenage female characters, and with Wildstorm's old properties now under the control of Warren Ellis, who is not known to be fond of the series, it is unlikely to see another revival any time soon.
  • Tintin in the Congo is one of the most infamous instances in Europe. Back in 1931, it was both a commercial and critical success within Belgium and the rest of Europe, spawning a franchise for decades to come. After World War II, it was widely criticized, even among Tintin fans, for its portrayal of the Congolese people, who are drawn to look like monkeys and are depicted as stupid and infantile. Knowledge that the Belgian Congo was the scene of rampant atrocities that have since been compared to various historical genocides, and which horrified even the other colonial powers, doesn't help. Likewise, the fact that the hero hunts lots of the local wildlife is hard to enjoy now that many species of said wildlife are critically endangered. These scenes were modified in later editions so Tintin only scares the wildlife off instead of killing them. Also, it doesn't help that the story is quite crude compared to the intricate plots of later Tintin albums. Hergé himself later came to regard the story (along with its predecessor Tintin in the Land of the Soviets) as an Old Shame, calling it "bourgeois" and "paternalistic". Those who read it now do so chiefly for completeness or as a historical relic of the colonial era.
  • Dreamwave's Transformers Generation One comics went through this hard. When they were first announced, they had 'superstar manga-like artist' Pat Lee doing both all the promotions and a whole lot of art. The cast was straight from the original The Transformers cartoon, coming during a period of 80s revival that ate those characters up like popcorn. It was advertised as a superb comeback, and sure enough, Dreamwave's entire original miniseries cracked the top ten in sales charts, with most issues even making it to #1. The success spread to the Transformers Armada comic as well, making it one of the only non-G1 comics to achieve mainstream success. They followed up with Transformers: The War Within, probably the most influential series to ever have Optimus Prime on the cover. Packaging art and merchandise of the time switched to a Dreamwave-esque style, and many of the designs of the various series (particularly War Within) would be incorporated into the following Transformers Cybertron.

    But even at the height of its popularity, Dreamwave had its detractors. Complaints about fanfic-y plots and a fetish for the original 1984-85 cast abounded, and the general feel of the line reeked of faux-maturity. The artwork soon became one of the biggest complaining points, with "puffyformers" and "Dull Surprise" becoming common fandom terms to describe Pat Lee's art style (which all other artists on the payroll were forced to use). These complaints intensified with rumors that Pat Lee himself wasn't just a bad artist; he was a complete scumbag who refused to pay his employees, took credit from much better artists, and siphoned company funds into buying himself a Porsche. When Dreamwave went bankrupt from a mixture of flagging sales and Lee's embezzling, the public opinion of Dreamwave as a company flipped completely into "hate." Since then, aside from War Within, Dreamwave's books have pretty much vanished from the eyes of both the fandom and Hasbro (outside of the occasional Sunstorm toy), and many of the writers and artists who got their start there seem to regard it as an Old Shame. Even stylistically resembling Dreamwave books (using mostly the '84/85 cast, quoting The Transformers: The Movie, killing off Puny Humans or GoBots) is enough to get alarm bells going in some circles.
  • Identity Crisis was never lacking in detractors, but this was primarily because it was so big and popular; it was The Big Comic of 2004 That Everyone Was Talking About. Everywhere you went on comic sites, there were people debating over what it meant for the industry, whether its tonal shift boded darker stories, and whether the DCU would ever be the same again. But as the years ground on, the general opinion of Identity Crisis slipped from "controversial masterwork of our time" to "half-baked edgy fumble." Maybe it was how few of the story threads actually went anywhere or weren't promptly ignored or retconned, maybe it was how everyone tried to copy it at DC for a few years with increasingly weaker results (leading to very badly received stories like Countdown to Final Crisis, Amazons Attack! and Justice League: Cry for Justice), maybe it was that people started examining it and separating it from its hype and found that it was actually a very lacking story in many ways. Whatever it is, Identity Crisis has very few fans today, and whenever someone admits to remembering liking it, they'll usually be greeted by everyone else pointing out its plot holes.

  • The toothbrush mustache was once a very stylish look for men like Charlie Chaplin during the early 20th century. Then along came a certain Austrian politician donning that style (which Chaplin himself famously exploited in The Great Dictator), and ruining it forever by association, to the point where the look is still widely known as the "Hitler mustache".
  • Excessive artificial tanning (be it from spraying or using a bed) has gone out this way. Tanning had been very popular in the late 60s and 70s as well as the late 90s, and it was especially huge in the 2000s when spray tanning was massively popular with celebrities to achieve that sun-kissed glow. However, some took the practice too far, resulting in no shortage of mockery. Moreover, thanks in part to an increased awareness of skin cancer and a resurgence of heavy makeup in the 2010s, tans are no longer seen as a prerequisite for beauty, as the popularity of paler skinned celebrities like Christina Hendricks, Robert Pattinson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dita Von Teese, and Katy Perry has shown. As demonstrated by Jersey Shore (and others), excessive tanning is now far more likely to be mocked than swooned over (as exemplified with Donald Trump). The Kardashians, who continue to artificially bronze themselves, and their imitators, once had thousands who followed in their footsteps of tanning are now mocked for one of the same reasons that got them so big.
  • The leisure suit became popular from the 1960s through the '70s when the abundance of synthetic materials, cheap prices, and a dislike for formality made it the fashion symbol for men. Its height of popularity was during the '70s when it was frequently associated with disco culture. But when disco, well, became dead, the leisure suit went with it — and by the '80s, it was commonly considered emblematic of '70s kitsch. Today, it is little known for anything other than clueless fashion sense, such as the Leisure Suit Larry video game series.
  • Mullets were a common haircut throughout The '80s that tended to show up on heroic characters in media of this decade. However, the '90s backlash against the coked-up excess of the '80s made the style a target of mockery, beginning with The Beastie Boys' diss track of the style in 1993 (which originated the word 'mullet' — though not the hairstyle itself, which had been around since the '70s). While mullets have had occasional 'ironic' revivals from '80s fanatics and lovers of kitsch (most recently in 2020 with Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Rihanna and others sporting said hairstyle), the style nowadays is mostly associated with Lower Class Louts in the popular imagination, far too irrevocably tainted to ever again be as sincerely cool as it was in 1985.

Specific Films
  • The 1999 film American Beauty was a huge hit with both critics and audiences, winning five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, in what is still acknowledged as a monumental year for Hollywood — and at the time, its wins were not at all controversial even as it beat classic films like The Green Mile, The Sixth Sense, and Being John Malkovich. Over the years, however, the film saw its reputation fall victim to being a product of its time due to the 9/11 attacks and the Great Recession making its concerns seem trivial, and by The New '10s, it's been listed on more than a few "Most Overrated Films" lists. The #MeToo movement didn't do it any favors, either, making Lester's sexual interest in the teenage Angela look far more problematic than it did in 1999 — especially given that Kevin Spacey, who played Lester, was later himself the subject of career-ending allegations that he had molested young men. Even its director Sam Mendes has stated that he believes the film got too much praise at the time. On the film's 20th anniversary, Matthew Jacobs wrote in The Huffington Post:
    "The profound ideas at which [this film] grasped now seemed passé at best and clueless at worst. Here was a saga about blue bloods, whose wealth, education and good looks had bored them to the point of crisis. The class depiction at the center seemed more like low-hanging snark than trenchant analysis. In a roundabout way, Sept. 11 was the beginning of the end for this sort of movie, much like The Vietnam War luring 1970s Hollywood away from the once-prolific Western genre."
  • The Birth of a Nation (1915) was the first Epic Movie, the film that proved cinema to be a viable entertainment medium rather than a passing fad, and the pioneer of countless filmmaking techniques. Modern-day film scholars and critics are still more than willing to acknowledge this part of its legacy. However, to say that the film's writing and story has not aged well (even though it's rated G)... well, there's a reason why it's only watched today by film students (for the technical/historical aspects) and by people studying the history of racism. Specifically, it's a feature-length ode to the Ku Klux Klan that's widely credited with sparking a revival of the organization in the early 20th centurynote , a symbol of an ugly time in American history when open, virulent racism (in the name of "reconciliation" between North and South after The American Civil War) was not merely socially acceptable but considered a sign of proper values throughout the country.
  • As discussed in this article by Andy Morris for GQ, The Godfather Part III received mostly positive reviews when initially released, with some critics like Gene Siskel and Alexander Walker ranking it among 1990's best. It also was a respectable box office success and earned seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and was generally considered a worthy follow-up to the first two Godfather films, if perhaps not at their level. Backlash began soon afterwards, however, triggered by multiple sources: criticism of Sofia Coppola's performance, press coverage of its Troubled Production,note  author Mario Puzo distancing himself from the movie, director Francis Ford Coppola openly commenting that he made the film to clear his debts, and a scathing Saturday Night Live parody. Being shut out at the Oscars intensified the criticism. The final nail in the coffin was, ironically enough, GoodFellas, another mafia movie released the same year that quickly captured the same reputation as the first two Godfather films. Within a decade, Part III became a punchline, frequently mocked throughout the '90s as a textbook bad sequel or being on the bad end of Dueling Works. While not as universally reviled today, it remains a Contested Sequel even among Godfather fans. Coppola himself has described the series as "two films and an epilogue".

  • During the 1850s, there existed an entire genre of "anti-Tom" literature (or plantation literature), written mainly by authors from the Southern US in reaction to the anti-slavery work Uncle Tom's Cabin. Such books were Author Tracts that portrayed slavery as a benevolent system that existed for the good of black people, and the arguments against the "peculiar institution" as a sack of lies. Abolitionists were used as strawmen, presented as either misguided fools who would often "come around" by the end once they saw the "reality" of slavery, or as mustache-twirling Damn Yankee villains who were out to destroy the Southern way of life, motivated less by compassion for the slaves than by personal gain. For obvious reasons, this genre died out very quickly after the Civil War, while Uncle Tom's Cabin has gone on to be regarded as one of the great American novels.
  • The 2000s saw a boom in young adult books about "elite" high school girls following the success of Mean Girls. Books about the lives of rich spoiled teenagers became a big market, with one of the more successful examples, Gossip Girl, being turned into an even more successful TV series (and to a lesser extent, similar series The Clique becoming a very short-lived Cash Cow Franchise). However, due to the Alpha Bitch being so firmly ingrained as a villainous character, as well as youth bullying becoming a hot topic towards the end of the decade, Values Dissonance turned the main characters of these books from enviable people into Villain Protagonists. The Great Recession around the same time made the large displays of wealth in the books look tacky and tasteless. Also, many of the series received heavy criticism for depicting their characters (who were almost always minors) in a sexual, sleazy manner. Nowadays, if any of these series are remembered, it's to be made fun of among the people who grew up reading them, or as examples of everything wrong with youth culture in the 2000s.note 


  • Samuel Richardson's Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded was a best-seller in 1740. Its psychological analysis was revolutionary for its time and remains important. It was a huge cult hit back in its era, to the point it spawned trading cards and many people named their kid after the heroine. But its story... has not aged at all well, to say the least. Many people nowadays take the side of Richardson's rival, Henry Fielding, arguing that its morally perfect main lead and tale of Love Redeems make the novel virtually impossible to connect to; Fielding would go on to write a vicious Take That!, An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews (in which, among other things, the focus of Pamela on the heroine's "virtue" - read: virginity - is mocked by having characters obsess over Shamela's "vartue"). In summary, Pamela Andrews is a 15-year-old maidservant, who repeatedly resists her employer's efforts to seduce or rape her. Said employer repents and eventually marries her, despite their class differences. Pamela then helps reconcile her new husband with his illegitimate daughter from a previous relationship and raises the girl as her own daughter. It is much less popular now than it used to be. Richardson's other main novel, Clarissa, has fared better.
  • The Sheik by Edith Maude was a huge best-seller when it was first published in 1919. The novel was adapted into a film in 1921, which was a blockbuster that turned its star Rudolph Valentino into one of the first Hollywood sex symbols. Between its initial release, a resurgence when the film was released and another revival when the star-crossed Valentino died young in 1926, the novel was reported to have sold 1.2 million copies. Although it was well received and popular in the 1920s, The Sheik is now widely despised. Why? Because the entire premise is about an English girl that is abducted by an Arab sheik who repeatedly rapes her until she fell in love with him — and this was seen as romantic. Worse, said rapist is revealed out of nowhere at the end to be a child of European immigrants, purely so that the writer wouldn't have an interracial marriage on their hands. Yeah... Nowadays, it's seen as the pinnacle of Values Dissonance that has gone Up to Eleven, and is often compared unfavorably to a certain other series.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Jiggle Show. Starting in The '70s, there was a surge in the popularity of shows like Three's Company, Charlie's Angels, and to a lesser extent the Wonder Woman (1975) series and The Dukes of Hazzard, which were long on beautiful actresses who didn't wear bras but generally seen as a little short on plot. Even at the time, they were seen as Guilty Pleasures, the joke being that their fanbases were made up mostly of sexually-frustrated men who would be willing to sit through thirty minutes of flimsy dialogue for the chance to see Suzanne Somers in a bikini or Farrah Fawcett run after a bad guy in a tight sweater. A glut of bad shows and a backlash against the decade's overt sexuality in the early 80s buried the genre, which then received a second wind in The '90s with Baywatch and its assorted copycats, while during the 2000s, it was frequently joked that every show on the Fox network that wasn't 24, American Idol, House, M.D., Bones, or an animated sitcom was basically this. However, this second boom coincided with the rise of easily accessible pornography on the internet and more liberal views towards sexual matters. As a result, shows that once expected to coast solely on the beauty of their casts increasingly found themselves disappointed, especially as more 'respectable' programs began showing more sexually-provocative content up to and including (on the premium cable networks) full-on nudity. This was best demonstrated in 2011, when The Playboy Club and a revival of Charlie's Angels both got canned after only a few poorly-rated episodes and scathing reviews. Changing views on sexuality and the #MeToo movement during the 2010s would also give the genre a reputation for sexism. Today, the era of "jiggle television" is remembered as fairly quaint and embarrassing, a relic of the days when television had just learned it could start pushing boundaries but not yet really knowing what to do with its newfound freedom.


  • 1st and Ten was one of cable television's (in general) first attempts to lure the lucrative sitcom audience away from the "Big Three" (ABC, CBS, and NBC), by taking advantage of their freedom to include occasional cursing and nudity. It ran for six seasons on HBO for a total of 80 episodes. While the complete series was released on DVD in 2006, the majority of episodes on the "Complete Collection" DVD are the bowdlerized syndicated versions. To add insult to injury, it's been excluded from the streaming video platform HBO Go (since HBO themselves didn't produce it, the Kushner-Locke Company did). Besides having some dialog and scenes edited for content, syndication versions ran for 22 minutes (as opposed to 30 minutes on HBO), and included a laugh track. While 1st and Ten was novel for its time (while language could nonetheless still be considered 'HBO-ish', it wasn't excessively vulgar) when compared to sitcoms on broadcast network television, it seems rather cheesy (with its pretty awful acting, cliched dialogue, continuity catastrophes, editing errors, and an off-and-on laugh track) in a modern context. The participation of O.J. Simpson most certainly didn't help its long-term legacy.
  • Father Knows Best was hugely popular in The '50s, running for six seasons and reran for years afterwards. However, by the 1960s and 1970s, when the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Women's Liberation movement came to define the American landscape, Father Knows Best, with its idealized middle-class nuclear family, came off as antiquated. Today, it's become infamous due to that, and while other similar shows from the era such as Leave It to Beaver, The Donna Reed Show and The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis have similar "rose-tinted" reputations, neither attract the same level of disdain.
  • Little Britain was a hit at the Turn of the Millennium for its of-the-moment satire of British life, colorful catchphrase-driven characters, and lowbrow, shock-driven humor. It was popular enough that a live tour combining reenacted sketches and new pieces was a success as well. However, keeping up its momentum was tough. By Series 3, the established characters and running gags had worn themselves into the ground, the new characters seemed to have no purpose except shock value, and the show and its actors were now so overexposed and overmarketed that audiences were sick of them. Combine that with a critical backlash against the traditional Brit Com format with the success of The Office (UK) and Ricky Gervais, and its days were numbered. The total flop of the retooled Series 4 (Little Britain USA, co-produced with HBO) was the last nail in the coffin. In addition, it didn't age well; its constant pokes at minority groups were controversial enough even at the time, and are now seen as outright cringeworthy. If you ask any teenager who didn't watch it when they were younger, chances are they don't know about it, and if you ask someone who did grow up with it, chances are they regret it. While its leads/creators David Walliams and Matt Lucas have gone on to other successes (the former as both a comic and children's author, the latter as an actor in such shows as Doctor Who), Little Britain is just a relic of its time. Lucas eventually outright apologised for the content and admitted it was rather insensitive, specifically noting that society has "moved on". Walliams And Friend, which came out in 2016, did an unflattering sketch about Little Britain which makes it clear that David Walliams also regards it as an Old Shame. In the sketch, Walliams confesses that he made Little Britain by stealing unused Harry Enfield and Chums sketches "from a skip", since he "wasn't even a comedian at the time", while we're shown Stylistic Suck Little Britain "clips" which emphasize the show's racism, ableism, and transphobia ("It's alright to make fun of you for being in a wheelchair because you don't really need one!"). All of this culminated in the BBC taking repeats and streaming copies of the show out of circulation in 2020, completing its spectacular fall from grace.
  • Murphy Brown ran for 10 seasons, garnered critical acclaim, and Candice Bergen won five Emmys for playing the title role during the show's duration. Unfortunately, the show has barely been syndicated, only the first season has been available on DVD, and a revival in the 2018-2019 season was cancelled after 13 episodes. This was largely due to the fact that the show relied on timely issues and then-current events which made the entire show seemed dated. If anything, this show is probably only remembered nowadays for then-Vice President Dan Quayle complaining about the title character being a single mother.
  • In The '90s, older viewers (some Boomer Christians and earlier) might explain why Touched by an Angel was a Top 10 show at the height of its run. It often outdrew The Simpsons in its Sunday night time slot (despite never being a critical favorite and regarded as glurge at its worst), it launched a Spin-Off in Promised Land (which lasted three seasons), and reruns of the show were central to the young PAX network's lineup. When its time slot was switched to Saturday nights for its final two seasons, ratings plunged, and while it's still in circulation, it's mostly seen as an overly sentimental, glurge-friendly joke now — too sugary for non-devout audiences but too liberal for politically hard-right, evangelical Christians who have plenty of entertainment aimed specifically at them now.


  • The third season Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Paradise Syndrome" was, at the time of its initial airing, hailed as one of the better episodes (arguably even the best) in an otherwise pretty underwhelming season, affording William Shatner the chance to do some of his best acting during the show's run, and also creating the Preservers, an enigmatic, unseen race who would provide huge amounts of both Canon Fodder and Fanfic Fuel for the decades ahead. While the episode retained its strong reputation for a while, it ultimately nosedived around the late 1980s as Shatner had gone on to provide far more iconic performances in the TOS films, while the problems with its White Savior narrative and stereotypical depictions of Native American peoples — all played by actors in brownface, no less — became glaringly obvious by the 1990s. What's more, in later years various fanfics and expanded universe novels made far more effective usage of the Preservers than their fleeting mentions in the episode. As a result, the episode is now generally seen as one of the worst not just of the third season, but of TOS in general.

    New Media 
  • GeoCities, which allowed many early denizens of the 'Net to make their own Web pages without needing to know how to use HTML. However, Sturgeon's Law was in full force, as seen in this article: "It didn't take long before this simple change altered the face of the internet. GeoCities gave everyone a place to call home, and then proved that most of us don't really have a lot to say. It didn't take long before GeoCities became home to the bottom of the Internet. Crackpot theories. Inane ramblings. Worm distribution." and "I think that most people set up a GC page as a novelty and then abandoned it leaving a whole lot of cyber-trash behind. That kind of ruined the overall GeoCities vibe; it wasn't long before you had to muck through a few dozen one-offs to find a page that was regularly maintained and had good, interesting content." GeoCities was often seen as a haven of garishly colored pages full of blink tags and animated GIFs. Furthermore, the rise of blogging, as well as social media like Facebook and YouTube, rendered the concept of a free personal homepage obsolete, while those who still wanted to build their own websites moved on to more advanced tools.
  • Internet portals like Prodigy, CompuServe, iMagination, etc. They were called portals because that's how you usually entered the Internet — they had a lot of links to useful sites, news, and a content listing. When the Internet was fledgling during the '90s, they were extremely popular. However, the more efficient, less resource-intensive, and free World Wide Web put them on a steady decline. Now, they're remembered as a symbol of all that was wrong with the mainstream internet in the '90s, seen as restrictive "walled gardens" that went against the open, freedom-minded ethos of the emerging tech culture. America Online, historically the largest and most successful of these services, is the only one that still remains, and even that's all but on its last legs, used primarily by older people and those in rural areas that still lack reliable high-speed internet access (the company maintains its dial-up service to this day).
  • MySpace was the social media platform in the 2000s, boasting over 60 million users at the height of its popularity and helping to catapult numerous musicians (most notably from the emo genre) into the mainstream. However, due to the rise of competing social media sites (especially Facebook) that generally had more intuitive format than the rather complex MySpace, around 2008-09 the site began hemorrhaging users as they moved on to other platforms. After founder and unofficial "mascot" Tom Anderson was fired, the site went through a change in management in 2010, attempting to rebrand itself as a "Social Entertainment" site. The site tried repeatedly to reinvent itself and attract back users, but most of the changes were poorly received by the few users still sticking around (mostly roleplayers, who would end up also leaving MySpace for other blogging platforms like LiveJournal and Tumblr) and often reeked of We're Still Relevant, Dammit!-type desperation. After being bought and sold to a revolving door of companies and individuals, the site was retooled into a virtual Facebook copy, while also deleting all the existing blogs, comments, and messages (or at least making them inaccessible) without any prior warning whatsoever, which did not amuse the remaining fanbase.

    MySpace is still around as a social networking site, albeit now with a heavier emphasis on music and entertainment. However, between the existence of Facebook (with Tom himself even stating that he much preferred it) and other competing platforms, MySpace's Glory Days are nothing more than a distant memory for many '00s kids, and it soon became considered the Internet equivalent to a Dying Town. Anytime MySpace is ever talked about nowadays, it's often to laugh about how it seemed to be a breeding ground for Emo Teens, Attention Whores, and pedophiles. The final nail in the coffin occurred when a data purge removed almost everything uploaded between 2005 and 2016, including upwards of 60 million MP3 files. Even if people wanted to check their old MySpace page, they can't now.note 
  • At the Turn of the Millennium, LiveJournal was the most popular blogging platform, as it was very user-friendly. The site's popularity began to wane in the late 2000s, when LJ was sold to up-and-coming software company Six Apart. Users didn't like how the service (which was originally split between free accounts and paid accounts) decided to Take a Third Option and make some of the paid account features available to everyone... with the caveat that ads began to show up. But the real nail in the coffin came in 2007, when Six Apart removed adult content in order to root out child porn. The problem is that this purge was done with algorithms, meaning that multiple other types of content were also affected: fanfiction communities, support groups for childhood sexual abuse survivors, kink and BDSM blogs, online novels, a support group for nursing mothers, and many more. Even though many of these blogs and communities were eventually restored, trust had been lost, and the site began hemorrhaging users. And users that didn't migrate left after a Russian company eventually acquired LJ, and moved all content to servers based in Russia. Meaning that now the content of blogs was subject to Russian law. To make matters worse, that company updated its terms of service, and made users accept dubiously-translated Russian Terms of Services, when they were actually agreeing to the Russian TOS even if they couldn't read Russian. Nowadays, very few people from outside Russia use LiveJournal anymore.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Ashley Massaro was very popular when she was first introduced. She won the third WWE Diva Search easily by fan votes and was liked for her unique look. After a disastrous match at WrestleMania 23 with Melina, constant injuries, as well as fellow Divas such as Michelle McCool, Layla, Candice Michelle, and Kelly Kelly putting work in to become better wrestlers, fans disappeared from Massaro's side. The final nail came when Massaro was exposed as possibly working for a high-class escort agency, and requested to be released in order to care for her daughter. While Massaro attempted to make a comeback on the indies, she eventually got a reputation for no-showing events she was advertised for. While some opinion on her has softened since her untimely passing, she's nonetheless remembered as a representation of everything that was wrong with the Divas division after Lita and Trish Stratus retired.
  • The Nexus. There was a time NXT as a show was not very well liked, but fans were of the opinion that if The Nexus was the goal all along, then the terrible show was worth it. The only wrestler who managed to look halfway decent was Daniel Bryan, who was actively buried on commentary. But after winning the contest, Wade Barrett unexpectedly turned up on the next WWE show leading all the other "rookies" on a rampage to destroy everything in their path out of retaliation for being put through such a terrible experience. It became the most positively-received WWE event of the year. The inevitable big showdown on pay-per-view ended with The Nexus suffering a humiliatingly anticlimactic loss, not helped by Daniel Bryan no longer being associated with it. CM Punk was added to the group to invigorate it, but fans began to ignore the "New Nexus" altogether and focus solely on Punk. Wade Barrett tried to duplicate The Nexus's initial success with "The Corre", and did a pretty good job until, once again, the big fight came on pay-per-view and The Corre were destroyed, losing all momentum in the process. NXT would eventually take on a standard wrestling show formula, becoming much more popular when it did, making WWE's first effort that much more hated. These days, few wrestling fans will admit that they ever had any interest in The Nexus.

Styles and Trends
  • In the 1990s and early 2000s, multiple baseball stars used performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids in order to boost their statistics. For example, Mark McGwire (1998) and later Barry Bonds (2001) broke the season records for most home runs. It was an open secret that at least some of these high-performing athletes were utilizing banned chemical assistance to perform their feats, and while no one was exactly shouting "yay steroids!" in public, the audience' acceptance of their use and cheers of approval for their users amounted to a tacit endorsement. By January 2004, the MLB set rules to suspend players if they tested positive for PEDs. Originally a player would be suspended for up to a whole year after four offenses, but the rule was quickly changed to a lifetime ban after three offenses. In his 2005 autobiography Juiced, former MLB star Jose Canseco admitted to using PEDs and accused several other players of taking drugs. As a result, many of the 90s' top power hitters, and a few pitchers such as Roger Clemens, saw their chances at the Hall of Fame plummet instantly. Most of these players had long since retired, and only a few lasted more than a year on the Hall of Fame ballots. These days, the era of rampant steroid use in baseball is considered an Old Shame by most players and fans, and few will admit to having been okay with their widespread use in the sport.
  • Back in the 1960s and 1970s, due to rising inflation and construction costs, many US cities that had both major-league baseball and football teams built "multi-purpose" stadiums to accommodate both of them. These massive concrete fortresses—dubbed "cookie-cutter" stadiums for both their circular shape and architectural similarity to each other—tried to please everyone, but the vastly-different dimensions of a baseball field vs. a football gridiron only led to a miserable experience for fans of both sports. Beginning in the mid-1990s, most cities began demolishing their cookie-cutters in favor of purpose-built stadiums for each sport. The last remaining venue to host both an MLB and an NFL team, the infamously-decrepit Oakland Coliseum, finally became baseball-only again when the Raiders relocated to Las Vegas for the 2020 season. To the extent that anyone today is nostalgic for the cookie-cutters, they are only fondly-remembered for being home to the team's best years (e.g. the 70's Pittsburgh Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium) and not the venues themselves.
  • In the National Football League, the idea of the hard-hitting "headhunter" safety is gone and certainly never coming back. For decades, as best exemplified by multi-time Pro-Bowlers like Jack Tatumnote , Rodney Harrison, and Roy Williams, these players would deliver bone-crushing hits to opposing receivers over the middle of the field as they attempted to dislodge the football or, at minimum, make the receiver hesitate when going for catches over the middle in the future. The league implemented numerous rule changes with player safety in mind, following the revelation that concussions lead to long-term chronic traumatic encephalopathy, in the late 2000s/early 2010s including the "crown of the helmet" rule and "defenseless receiver" rules, effectively banning this playstyle.

Specific Athletes

  • Cyclist Lance Armstrong is, perhaps, the biggest and most tragic example of an athlete falling from grace in the 21st century. He was an American sporting hero at the Turn of the Millennium, having not only won seven Tour de France titles but having done so after beating testicular cancer. He used his profile to establish a highly successful charity dedicated to curing cancer, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, whose Livestrong yellow rubber bracelets became a ubiquitous fashion item mid-decade. However, it had long been rumored that Armstrong's cycling success was a bit less than squeaky-clean and that he had been doping his way to the top. When those rumors were confirmed in 2012, Armstrong was forced to step down from the foundation bearing his name, and the International Cycling Union (the governing body for the sport) stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles.note  Now, while he still has his supporters due to his charity work, a lot of people view him as an embarrassment to the sport as well as an utter scumbag, considering he sued people for defamation and won despite their doping claims eventually being revealed as the truth. A common joke was that the Livestrong bracelets should now read "Lie Strong".

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • For a brief time in the mid-'00s, Dane Cook was one of the most popular stand-up comedians in the US, particularly among high school and college students, serving as one of the first entertainers to use social media (MySpace specifically) to build up a huge fanbase. By 2005-06, he had gained over two million MySpace friends, and his CD Retaliation went double-platinum and became the best-selling comedy album in over thirty years. In 2007, he became the second stand-up comedian in history, after Andrew "Dice" Clay, to sell out Madison Square Garden. Then came the severe Hype Backlash from critics who were not amused by his comedic style (consisting primarily of observational humor and telling long-winded anecdotes), as well as hate coming from within the stand-up community, with numerous accusations of plagiarism and joke theft (most notably of Louis C.K.). As Cook's fanbase outgrew him, many joined the ranks of his Hatedom, until he was seen as the poster child for dumb college fratbro humor aimed at audiences that didn't know any better. Nowadays, few will admit to having been fans of his.
  • Carlos Mencia was a hugely popular comedian in the '00s, selling out massive tours and hosting the successful Comedy Central show Mind of Mencia. The entire time, though, he weathered frequent accusations of plagiarism from all across the comedy world, culminating in an onstage argument with Joe Rogan in 2007 that was uploaded to YouTube. Fans also grew weary of his jokes based around Mexican stereotypes, especially given that Mencia was not of Mexican descent, but German-Honduran (his birth name was Ned Holness), while Mind of Mencia came to be seen as a poor man's Chappelle's Show. Mind of Mencia was canceled in 2008, and he hasn't released a new special since 2011. Mencia these days is mostly remembered as a joke thief and a one-note comedian, and it's doubtful that he will ever achieve the same level of fame again.

Genres and Trends
  • Minstrel Shows were some of the most popular forms of entertainment in the 19th and early 20th centuries, being viewed as good, clean, light comedy. They were also very culturally significant as one of the first uniquely American forms of artistic expression. As times changed, however, the nasty racial undertones that lay at the core of the genre fundamentally discredited it after WWII. The practice of blackface — using heavy makeup on a white actor so they can play a caricature of black stereotypes (or sometimes to sneak an actual black actor on stage, which couldn't be done prior)— is a particular source of Old Shame. Today, it is only used in period works as either Deliberate Values Dissonance or shock comedy. A notable turning point was in White Christmas, the 1954 remake of sorts of 1942's Holiday Inn. Like Holiday Inn, White Christmas has a minstrel-show number; unlike Holiday Inn, the performers wear tuxedos, top hats, and gloves, but not black makeup.

Specific Shows

  • The infamous Happily Ever After version of Shakespeare's King Lear by Nahum Tate. The 1681 rewrite (which Tate boasted "rectifies what was wanting in the Regularity and Probability of the Tale") ends with the good guys surviving, Lear regaining his throne, and Edgar and Cordelia marrying. It proved so popular with Restoration audiences (who hated Shakespeare's Kill 'Em All Downer Ending — purely his own invention and diverging drastically from his source material, the Historia Regum Britanniae, in which the legendary king's story has a cheerful conclusion) that it completely eclipsed Shakespeare's King Lear for the next 150 years, enjoying hundreds of productions, while the original Lear languished in obscurity and went all but unperformed. In the 1830s reverent fans of the Bard began to restore Shakespeare's original ending to performances, and the Tate version gradually fell out of favor, increasingly derided by Victorian critics as sentimental and trite. Since the start of the twentieth century, the Tate play has only been revived a few times, and then only as a quaint historical curiosity.

  • Fidget spinners have been around since 1993, but didn't start to gain mainstream acknowledgement until 2017 among teenagers to cope with psychological stress and pay attention in class better. Due to them causing more slacking in classrooms than focus, they eventually faded into obscurity, not helping the many offensive memes centered around them stereotyping neurological disorders like autism and ADHD. Many schools across the nation were forced to ban fidget spinners entirely due to the disruption caused by them.

    Video Games 
  • Full motion video games/FMV games. When Dragon's Lair emerged in arcades in the early 1980s, a game with movie-like animation really stood out among the game cabinets with primitive graphics it competed against. It also helped that the animation was done by Don Bluth, who had been creating big budget animated movies for years, and the animation of Dragon's Lair was impressive as a result. When CD-based consoles like the 3DO and CD-based console add-ons like the Sega CD first hit the shelves, FMVs finally became possible on home consoles thanks to CDs having more memory space, and so a deluge of FMV games followed on these early CD consoles. After the novelty wore off, gamers quickly caught on that the "gameplay" offered by FMV games was very shallow at best, when the interactivity often amounted to a series of quick time events, and many FMV games were essentially just clicking through menus to watch different scenes. It also didn't help that since FMV games were very expensive to create, developers often couldn't give these games any sort of real production value, leaving them stuck with awful acting, poor visual quality, and having to excessively use Stock Footage. With the Sega CD and 3DO both ending up as failures in the gaming market, FMV games flopped hard after some initial success, and the genre was dead by the later 1990s. Video game graphics continuing to drastically improve ensured that FMV games wouldn't make a comeback, as their one selling point was their "graphical edge", and that was gone when other games could look great while offering actual gameplay. In the current day, the genre is essentially extinct. While certain FMV games like the above-mentioned Dragon's Lair are still well-remembered, most are looked at as a failed experiment with new technology and are often thought of as some of the worst video games ever.
  • The original Battle Arena Toshinden was immensely successful at release. Being one of the first 3D Fighting Game with texture-mapped graphics and weapon-based combat, it received a considerable amount of hype and glowing reviews from the enthusiast press (Electronic Gaming Monthly would give it a rating of 100%). Console manufacturer Sony would seize on this, publishing the games in western territories, hyping it as a "Sega Saturn killer" and use its female characters as the unofficial mascots of the PS1 launch in multiple ads. The game would be among the first to be rereleased as part of the "Greatest Hits" line, futher confirming its success.
    However, in hindsight, retrospectives of the PS1 launch and modern reviews removed from the context of the launch hype have little kind things to say about the game, the consensus being that its shallow mechanics and clunky controls don't even compare favorably to earlier 3D fighters such as the first Virtua Fighter. A belated Saturn port would receive mediocre reviews and sink without a trace despite being the same game with more content, and none of its sequels would come close to replicating the original's success. The advent of Namco's Soul Edge, another weapon-based 3D fighter considered superior to Toshinden in every way, would further confirm its obsolecence.
    Originaly the launch title of the PS1, Battle Arena Toshiden is largely forgotten and disliked by those that remember it, with the game being held up as a prime example of style over substance. Illustrating the game's fall from grace is EGM's (the authors of the 100% review mentioned above) statement in its 2005 "most overated game" feature:
    [It] was 3D, it was flashy—Battle Arena Toshinden was exciting and new. But later Namco showed us what really could be done with 3D fighting on the PlayStation (Tekken, Soul Blade). (...) But is it actually good? Oh God, no."

    Web Original 
  • Slender Man was an early innovator of the creepypasta, a schlocky campfire-style horror story originating on the Internet. Slender Man's mythos spread far and wide across the internet like wildfire with such works as Marble Hornets becoming viral sensations, making the character a popular boogeyman and a hit with horror fans. Not long after his introduction though, the character became massively overexposed with cheaply-made video games, hackneyed fanfics, and shoehorning of the character into other works. But what really sealed Slender Man's fate was a 2014 incident in which two adolescent girls stabbed one of their friends multiple times and left her for dead as an attempted Human Sacrifice to Slender Man. This incident, among others, damaged the character's relevance and public perception to the point that a 2018 movie about the character was widely panned as being "in poor taste". Thus, the overexposure and bad publicity of Slender Man has all but assured that he'll never be looked at the same way again.
  • The "angry reviewer" style was initially seen as a popular way to review movies/shows/video games, etc. It was popularized in the late 2000s and early 2010s by The Angry Video Game Nerd and The Nostalgia Critic, who would intersperse their reviews with skits, mockery, yelling, and swearing. However, in the late 2010s, this method started to be seen as more annoying than funny, and viewers began to gravitate towards review shows that focused on levelheaded analysis and criticism with a couple of jokes added in. Additionally, viewers began to see such reviews as produced in bad faith, and that most of their points consisted of nitpicky, half-baked hot takes and attacking the authors of the work in question rather than any actual analysis. The decline of angry reviewer videos was further hastened by the genre attracting a glut of low-quality AVGN clones, resulting in the genre becoming seen as Lowest Common Denominator material. Not helping matters was a series of scandals involving these reviewers, most notably the exposure of Channel Awesome's toxic work culture, Noah Antwiler's Creator Breakdown, Game Dude raping his girlfriend, Mr. Anime murdering his family and The Mysterious Mr. Enter doxxing a writer of Spongebob Squarepants for an episode he hated and promoting anti-mask views during the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, which showed that their anger might have not been an act after all. Nowadays, the only show that survives with this style is the aforementioned AVGN and Jontron, who phased out said "angry reviewer" tropes for more surreal, zany humor, and that was largely due to Grandfather Clause; the rest have either suffered Seasonal Rot for not transitioning to a more professional style or transitioned into this professional style and consider their earlier days an old shame.

    Western Animation 
  • John Kricfalusi made a name for himself with The Ren & Stimpy Show, which helped kickstart the Nicktoons franchise and heralded the way for more creator-driven cartoons during the 1990s. However, Kricfalusi was notoriously hard to work with, turning in multiple episodes of Ren & Stimpy late due to his rampant perfectionism. This resulted in Kricfalusi getting fired from his own show. Over a decade later, he was given the opportunity to take the reins of the show again with the Adult Party Cartoon series, which was horribly received and led the Grossout Show genre that he popularized to fall out of favor with audiences during the second half of the 2000s, and Ren & Stimpy fans began to consider Bob Camp to be the true creator of the show and characters. Kricfalusi lost whatever respect he had left in 2018, when he was revealed to be a sexual predator who had groomed two underaged girls while working on Ren & Stimpy as well as harassing female crewmembers of Adult Party Cartoon. Things got even worse when he released Cans Without Labels in 2019 — it had been in Development Hell since 2012, and was considered not worth the wait when it finally did come out. When Comedy Central announced a Ren & Stimpy reboot, they made it a point to mention that John Kricfalusi would not be involved in any capacity; even then, the show being rebooted at all was enough to spark harsh criticism due to John K’s sordid history. All of this has made Kricfalusi's name toxic among animation fans, and it would take nothing short of a miracle for him to regain any respect.

Genres and Trends

  • Ethnic and gender stereotypes or caricatures (along with cartoon violence) were very prevalent in cartoons made during The Golden Age of Animation or during World War II. However, starting in 1968, these were increasingly censored in TV re-airings or the cartoons that did contain them were banned altogether, such as the Censored Eleven. The first to go were gags about Black people, then one by one jokes about Asians, Native Americans, women, and the like all received informal bans. Today, the only cartoons that still use these jokes, albeit under a satirical hood, are adult cartoon series.


  • Believe it or not, Johnny Test was actually fairly popular during its first few years – having a higher budget and completely different production team, not to mention Kids' WB! having a hand in its production (alongside the Canadian network Teletoon), probably helped. When Teletoon and Cookie Jar Entertainment took on the sole responsibility of production after Kids WB died out in 2008 (Warner Bros. still owns copyright and trademarks), the show's quality began to drop severely and many members of the notorious online "cartoon community" helped fuel hatred of the show, leading to some calling it "the worst cartoon of all time". Not helping was the fact that it continued production well into 2014, mainly because of CanCon policies requiring all Canadian television stations to have a certain amount of natively produced content, which allowed the producers to continue the show in spite of its abysmal ratings. The series ended with little fanfare after TV producer David Straiton filed a lawsuit against series creator Scott Fellows (who at that point had zero involvement with the show) for not crediting him as a co-creator for Johnny Test.
  • In 1979, Scrappy-Doo was credited with preventing Scooby-Doo's cancellation and was loved by children. As a result, the show focused on him even more in the 1980s, annoying older fans, who accused him of ruining the franchise forever. He was labelled as a Small, Annoying Creature, not appealing to the younger fans and alienating older ones. He was seen as one of the most loathed characters in Western Animation, to the point of being the Trope Namer to this wiki's term for hated characters, being listed as one of the worst TV moments in the book What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History (at #7), and being the Big Bad of the 2002 live-action movie. Few modern incarnations of Scooby-Doo even acknowledged him, and the times they did, it was never with kindness. Even Cartoon Network's old commercials make fun of Scrappy such as the 20th anniversary promo which features Jake from Adventure Time stretching to keep him out of the Cartoon Network group picture, and Cartoon Network's very first Shockwave game "Scrappy Stinks", in which the player has to throw tomatoes at Scrappy.

    Real Life 
  • The Chevrolet Vega was showered with praise by automotive critics when it debuted in 1970, and it was hailed as proof that General Motors could compete with Volkswagen and Toyota at their own game. However, the Vega had a multitude of engineering and build quality problems that made it notorious for rust, breakdowns, excessive oil consumption, and being a death trap in crashes, turning its name into a byword for The Alleged Car and a symbol of GM's Dork Age in the '70s. By the end of the decade, even many junkyards wouldn't take Vega cars, as it was assumed that there were virtually no usable parts that could be stripped off of them. Nowadays, Americans remember the Vega as one of the worst cars ever built, a car whose initial praise is now treated as an Old Shame by those magazines.
  • The Hummer. Created in 1992 as a civilian version of the military HMMWV (or "Humvee"), it soon became one of the most popular SUV brands in the United States, especially after the launch of the smaller, cheaper H2 and H3 models. The original H1 model earned a reputation as the ultimate off-road vehicle and a Rated M for Manly super-truck, while the H2 and H3 offered the same swagger to people who didn't have six figures to shell out. However, even at the height of their popularity, Hummers were notorious for guzzling gas and became the butt of jokes about Conspicuous Consumption and oversized SUVs. Sales for the brand started to tumble as a result of the oil crisis and recession of the mid-2000s when people had less money to throw around. Today, the brand is remembered as a poster child for the excesses of Turn of the Millennium consumerism. Only the original H1 model still gets any respect nowadays (and even that comes almost entirely from off-road enthusiasts), while its H2 and H3 siblings are seen as pure style-over-substance road boats. William Clavey of Jalopnik, looking back on the H2 years later, described it by saying "If there’s an automotive equivalent to the phrase 'we’ve gone too far,' it's the Hummer H2".

Food and Drink

  • Zima was a clear alcopop beverage that showed up in the 1990s during the "clear craze" where beverage manufacturers started selling clear drinks (such as Crystal Pepsi and Tab Clear). Zima was marketed heavily by its manufacturer, Coors Brewing Company, as a manly alternative to wine coolers for guys who didn't like beer. For a while, the drink became very popular, but to Coors' horror, most of its drinkers were women in their twenties. The drink was also popular with teenagers due to an urban legend that Zima couldn't be detected on police breathalyzer tests. Coors then attempted to sell Zima to the male demographic by releasing a bourbon-flavored variant, but was unsuccessful. After a while, Zima began to gain a reputation as a "girly man" drink and became the butt of jokes by stand-up comedians. The drink's popularity plummeted after its first year, but it managed to linger for another decade before Coors quietly decided to discontinue domestic sales of the drink. These days the only place you can still buy Zima is Japan, although it was briefly brought back for sale in June 2017. To this day, some men still make jokes to each other about Zima being a drink for wimps.


  • The "scene" and "emo" subcultures as practiced by many a MySpace-using Emo Teen are similarly dead in the water. When MySpace and emo music were big, Moral Guardians around the world took potshots at "emo and scene kids" in full You Can Panic Now mode as the look was everywhere on the Internet. Then those teens became young adults and grew out of it. The bands at the heart of the subculture have either broken up or moved on, and the genre itself is now buried deeper than disco too. MySpace and other online services that catered to scene/emo kids have either folded or lost users who moved on as well. The whole thing became synonymous with frequent indulgence of ineffectual angst, and by The New '10s, the labels 'emo' and 'scenester' were only being used as insults.
  • Back in The '50s and The '60s, Aluminum Christmas trees were a very popular decoration in the USA. Their demise is usually attributed to the 1965 cartoon A Charlie Brown Christmas, where such trees were used as a symbol for kitsch and the commercialization of Christmas, causing the general public to view them as tacky and embarrassing; the aluminum tree was pretty much dead by 1970. Today, they're almost entirely forgotten, except as a reminder of how kitschy people could be during the post-war era — there's a reason why "Aluminum Christmas Trees" is used on this very wiki as a term for something that modern audiences cannot believe actually existed.
  • In the 2000s, the Hollywood club scene meant you couldn't go a week without hearing about the wild partying of young celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. It was all but mandatory to be seen at a club in order to be relevant, and music about the club was a mainstay on the pop charts. However, the self-indulgent excess of drugs and alcohol, petty feuds between celebrities, and parties until sunrise became the downfall of club culture, which became regarded as ludicrously out-of-touch in an era of economic meltdown. Lohan saw her once-promising movie career ruined by her constant club antics as it became the only thing people knew her for, while Hilton's reputation for being "famous for doing nothing" and the reveal of her racist and homophobic views alienated her to a more progressive culture. The rise of social media and smartphones also contributed to the club scene's fall; not only did it ensure that indiscretions were impossible to sweep under the rug, but a celebrity no longer had to be seen at certain locations in order to be considered socially active. Nightclubs are still around, but are mocked these days for denying entrance to people based on appearance, overly long lines that keep people waiting for hours just to go inside, and music that encourages the worst excesses in a time where such things are seen as a waste of money. These days, few people will admit to becoming so embroiled in the club scene of the 2000s.
  • Traditional freak shows that let spectators Come to Gawk at people with handicaps, bizarre illnesses, and body distortions were viewed as a normal part of American culture in the late 19th century to the early 20th century. However, towards the end of the 19th century, the freaks' previously mysterious anomalies were scientifically explained as genetic mutations or diseases, which gradually led to freaks becoming the objects of sympathy rather than fear or disdain, and laws restricting freak shows were passed. Competition from TV and movies also hurt the freak show — people could just watch TV or go to a theater instead of paying to see freaks. The killing blow was the rise of disability rights causing people to view freak shows as profit-motivated exploitation of the disabled. Today traditional freak shows are extinct, and Values Dissonance ensures that they're not coming back. The few modern freak shows that exist rely on performances or make sure to portray the freaks in a positive light.

In-Universe Examples

  • An ad for Pringles potato chips actually mentions this trope. When a kid asks a question about the world's largest disco ball, he gets "Dude, disco is dead." as the answer.

  • Double Back:
    Sirius: I... I died?
    Harry: Department of Mysteries, five years from now. Bellatrix caught you off guard and you fell through the Veil.
    Sirius: I'm... dead?
    Harry: Deader than disco.

  • The Trope Namer gets a reference in Airplane!, where a radio announcer triumphantly proclaims that WZAZ is "where disco lives forever!" just before the plane knocks down its rooftop transmitting antenna. This film came out in 1980, so the joke was extremely timely - the creators note on the DVD commentary that they witnessed this joke being met with applause in theaters.
  • In DISCO (2017), the reason why Starcrash is resorting to drug-dealing is that disco as a genre is reaching its lowest in popularity, with every other dance-club in town resorting to drugs and filming pornography to get by.
  • In The Martian, astronaut Mark Watney thinks this of his commander's music collection, being stranded on Mars with nothing else to listen to.
    Watney: I'm definitely gonna die up here...if I have to listen to any more god-awful disco music.

  • The 2016 non-fiction book But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman is an examination of this trope and its inverse, asking how future generations might look back on the pop culture, political debates, social structures, and scientific theories of both the present day and the 20th century very differently from how we regard them, much like how we look back on the prevailing ideas and culture of the Middle Ages through the 19th century. The introduction alone recounts how Aristotle's theory of gravity stood for two thousand years as 'conventional wisdom' before being discredited by Sir Isaac Newtonnote , how Herman Melville's Moby-Dick was initially a critically-roasted, career-killing flop until the post-World War I generation rediscovered it as a classic, and all the hilariously wrong predictions made by futurists in the 20th century.

    Disco itself gets a mention in the chapter on popular music, in which Klosterman examines the rivalry between disco and Punk Rock in The '70s and how, while disco was far more commercially successful in the short term, it was soon written off as a stupid dance craze while punk rockers like the Sex Pistols stood the test of time... at least, before disco saw a reappraisal in the '10s (as discussed on the music subpage), which he argues could lead to the two genres' positions in the popular consensus flipping at some point (and possibly flipping again down the line). In the same chapter, he notes how the mass culture's memory of the rise of Rock & Roll pushed from popular memory most of the non-rock musicians of The '50s who were not named Frank Sinatra, and argues that there's a good chance that many of the musicians and bands that we now view as the standard-bearers for rock music may well be forgotten once their fans grow old and die off. In his view, while the place of The Beatles is likely assured, beyond them the canon of artists who define rock in a hundred years (like John Philip Sousa for marches or Bob Marley for reggae) may well exclude some legends, like Elvis Presley or Bob Dylan, that people today are sure will stand the test of time — and may include some second-string bands that are dismissed as fluff today, like Journey or AC/DC.
  • In Isaac Asimov's short story "Blind Alley", a man shows what he calls "Galactic fad of three years ago; which means that it is a hopelessly old-fashioned relic this year". As a Hilarious in Hindsight moment, it is basically a high tech disco ball.
  • The Martian sees Mark, desperate for entertainment, being stuck with disco as his only music. When he regains contact with Earth, he begs them to send him new music in their next transmission. Their response is that there isn't enough bandwidth to do so. "Enjoy your boogie fever."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Victorious: Referenced in an episode when Sinjin accidentally hits a button that causes a disco ball to appear from the ceiling. He's told to "kill the disco", to which he responds "You can't kill disco".
  • Used as a punchline in Silicon Valley: The tech billionaire Russ Hanneman will frequently drive up in a supercar blaring Nu Metal from the late 1990s and early 2000s of a type that is not remembered fondly by modern audiences. This is AM/FM Characterization of Russ as a Disco Dan Manchild who is Nouveau Riche.

    Video Games 
  • Several in-universe examples occur in the Grand Theft Auto series.
    • Over the course of the series, Lazlow goes from being one of the hottest DJs and radio hosts in America to a washed-up joke who's best known for payola scandals and personal indiscretions, is shilling for the "ZiT!" cellphone app to pay the bills, and gets ridiculed on the street by a passerby. Throughout the series, we get to catch up on him at all the points in his career, from his rise (VCS, Vice City) to the peak of his popularity (San Andreas, GTA III) to after his fall (GTA IV). He has received a second wind by GTA V in the form of hosting a TV talent show, but his jerkass demeanor is cranked Up to Eleven.
    • In Vice City, set in 1986, Love Fist is shown to be one of the biggest bands in the world, with two of their songs playing on the rock station and with them going on a world tour that's been banned in several countries. However, in San Andreas, set six years later, they appear to have been largely forgotten, with the DJ on the classic rock station asking "whatever happened to Love Fist?" Love Fist was a parody of the stereotypes of Hair Metal and the musicians that performed it, so it makes sense that, by 1992, the band would be washed up like many other hair metal acts were at the time.
    • In GTA IV, set in 2008, the website is a parody of Myspace, its users, and the culture that surrounded it. By GTA V, set five years later, MyRoom is a shell of its former self referred to as "the ghost town of the internet", having been driven into irrelevancy by the Facebook parody Lifeinvader and forced to sell its domain name, reflecting how Myspace went out of style in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
  • In Hypnospace Outlaw, you get to watch the rise and fall of the musical genre of Coolpunk. When you first arrive in Hypnospace, it's popular enough to have an entire zone dedicated to it, an active community full of internal disputes on what does or does not count as Coolpunk, and a planned "Coolpunk '99" live music get-together with major corporate sponsors. Then "Coolpunk '99" actually happens, and it's a total disaster, complete with a lip-syncing debacle and a helicopter crash that kills a drummer and costs of the headliners his leg. Shortly thereafter, the community realizes they've been listening to and passionately arguing about a genre focused on sampling soft drink advertisements and Christmas music. And that, aside from the weirdly good founding tracks by Fre3zer, most of it's pretty terrible. Later conversations found in M1nx suggest it was only astroturfing by the biggest corporate sponsor and the operators of Hypnospace that made it ever become anything more than "a few kids being weird online".
  • In Punch-Out Wii, Doc Louis says "Gonna let you in on something, Mac. Disco's dead, Rock and Roll soothes the soul" during the fight against Disco Kid.

    Web Original 
  • Nathan Rabin uses the term "forgotbuster" to describe this, referring to films that were among the top-grossing hits of the years in which they came out but have gone on to be almost completely forgotten since. On the website The Dissolve, he has done a series on forgotbusters from past and present, exploring why they were hits then but never stood the test of time.
  • YouTuber Quinton Reviews has a series called Fallen Titans which discusses Internet phenomena that were once massively popular, but have since faced significant backlash and/or fallen into obscurity. Specific examples covered include Ray William Johnson, The Nostalgia Critic and the Channel Awesome debacle, and The Abridged Series.
  • In an episode of Todd in the Shadows, Todd says that while "Afternoon Delight" was a very popular song at the time, nowadays pretty much everyone agrees that it was absolutely terrible.

    Western Animation 
  • Discussed in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, which actually used the line "Deader than Disco" in one of the episodes.
    Cobra Commander: As of now, your little project is deader than disco!
  • In the Rugrats episode "Garage Sale" (which provides the page quote for the trope), Angelica asks her aunt Didi what disco is. Didi just says that disco is never coming back. The episode was made in 1992 when the anti-disco backlash was still strong. A decade later, both in-universe and in real life, the "All Grown Up!" pilot special would feature precisely Didi and Stu taking part in a disco competition, showing how by that time the genre had become acceptable to like again.
  • This trope is mentioned in The Loud House episode "Tattler's Tale" when Lincoln mentions that if his dad found out that he destroyed his disco ball he'd be as dead as disco.
  • The Hanna-Barbera Popeye episode "Spinach Fever" was probably one of the earliest in-universe examples of the trope. Popeye and Olive win a dance contest at a disco over Bluto (the disco's "star" dancer), only their prize is a year's membership there. They both swear off disco after that.
  • In the Regular Show episode "Party Re-Pete", Tommy tells Party Zoe "Disco is dead!" before blasting her with a rocket launcher.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hype Reversion


The Blue Duck gets murdered.

The Blue Duck, a piece of art that Dilbert created, generates backlash when the Pointy-Haired Boss shows off the Blue Duck on his body on the Jumbotron with a heaping of Fan Disservice.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeaderThanDisco

Media sources:

Main / DeaderThanDisco