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Deader Than Disco
aka: Literature

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 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. If a single work is perceived as rendering something Deader Than Disco, it's a Creator Killer, Franchise Killer or Genre-Killer. 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. Compare Overshadowed by Controversy, where uproar sparked by or around a work is more well-known than the work itself.

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.


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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 '50s and '60s kitsch. 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 
  • 4Kids Entertainment was once a powerhouse in importing anime like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! and dubbing them for American audiences. By censoring and editing these shows for children's television, 4Kids gained a fair share of hate from fans of the subtitled original versions of these shows, but these translations were nevertheless colossal commercial hits. This allowed for the company to import more titles like Magical Doremi, Winx Club and Sonic X. This also gave them leave to produce in-house titles such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), which, in a stark contrast to their anime dubs, was well-received among older viewers.

    Arguments about the company's editing practices came to a head with One Piece, which remains the unfortunate darkest mark on their reputation. This dub took the company's (in)famous practices, such as excessive censorship, replacing all the music (capped off with a Theme Tune Rap), skipping over several important episodes, remixing elements of episodes, drastic changes to the plots, Americanization, and low-quality voice acting, and cranked them Up to Eleven, all the while showcasing none of their redeeming qualities. To say there was a backlash would be an understatement. To be fair, while 4Kids wanted nothing to do with the show since they were aware of how un-family friendly it was, Toei Animation forced them to dub it anyway as they would only license other shows to 4Kids as part of a packaged deal. Because of this, that adaptation led to an "allowance" on fansubbers to continue subbing certain series, as 4Kids' DVD releases rarely, if ever, had any of the original Japanese audio. Also of note, Sanji's voice actor David Moo retired from the anime industry altogether in no small part because of fan ire against him for not only his performance but things that weren't really his fault, and became a Brooklyn-based bartender. Not helping matters is that Moo's only other notable role, Xellos in Slayers, is also extremely polarizing.

    The hatred garnered from their dubs would be worn out as the company became significantly less prominent than it used to be, and its fan following became the only people who still cared. As the 2000s anime boom wore down, 4Kids sold the rights to their biggest Cash Cow Franchise, Pokémon, to The Pokémon Company International in 2006. After 4Kids legally dropped the license to One Piece in 2006, Funimation note  picked up the rights one year later and redubbed the whole series far more faithfully to the original; Funimation is still producing the dub as of 2018. Meanwhile, 4Kids' focus shifted away from anime to homegrown properties and acquisitions from other countries, which generally fit the company's creative philosophy much better and have obtained much more faithful treatment. What anime they still dubbed was generally well-received — or, at least, drew less ire. With Kids' WB!'s demise in 2008, 4Kids became — for better or for worse — the last remnant of what was once an institution. In 2009, the series and merchandising rights to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were bought out by Nickelodeon as a component of their purchase of the franchise. Nick would also snatch up the Winx Club franchise in the following year. With only Yu-Gi-Oh! and a few lesser shows left, 4Kids filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2011 months after the departure of longtime CEO Alfred R. Kahn. TV Tokyo and Nihon Ad Systems then filed a lawsuit against 4Kids over Yu-Gi-Oh!, accusing them of underpaying anime licensors and conspiring with Funimation to avoid royalty payments by hiding the income. Later, an auction resulted in the company being sold in pieces; Konami bought the subsidiary that produced Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise and re-branded it as 4K Media, while Saban Brands bought the rest of the company, including the Toonzai Saturday morning block.

    Once one of the most popular English anime producers, 4Kids was held up by several fans as the example of everything wrong with dubbing, to the point that most of their productions are long off the air, with Pokémon seeming to be the only dub of theirs, as well as their homegrown properties and acquisitions, still viewed in a positive light. The company later exited from bankruptcy as 4Licensing Corporation and mainly focused on developing and licensing isoBlox, an impact-blocking surface designed for use in sports equipment, but in September 2016, they filed for bankruptcy again and quietly folded the next year. With all their former licenses scattered between different companies and their financial problems, anime fans no longer had to worry about experiencing the company's unique practices any longer.

  • Brutalist architecture, as explained in this article. Buildings in this style were designed so that form followed function, their few windows and tons of unfinished concrete often making them look like fortresses, and they were indeed very durable and cheap to build, leading to the proliferation of brutalist structures in urban centers and on university campuses in the 1960s and '70s. However, while modernist structures from that same time period are still beloved today, brutalist structures aren't. For many people, they evoked the image of flood channels and highway overpasses, and before long they came to be seen as blights on the landscape. Furthermore, while they were easy to build and keep standing, keeping them looking decent was a different story altogether, as unfinished concrete has a tendency to crack and stain very easily, especially in humid climates (and the cracks let water in, further undermining the structure. Because of this, the Humanities Building at UW-Madison is infamous for FLOODING in the spring. Madison gets an average of 43 inches of snow in the winter, and when it melts, all that water has to go somewhere.) Finally, the proliferation of brutalist structures in the Eastern Bloc gave the style an indelible association with Soviet-style communism; many dystopian sci-fi films from the '70s and '80s used such buildings as symbols of the oppressive regime. Nowadays, "brutalist" is often used a synonym for any ugly concrete building or public space, and few people still defend the style. To add insult to injury, quite a few brutalist structures were built to replace either the function of a building of a previous era of architecture or built in the place of a bombed out or torn down building of a previous style. Given that many of those styles have gained in public perception, just how anybody could ever consider this oppressive Soviet style concrete hunk a better fit for the site/purpose than whatever it replaced is often another accusation leveled at brutalism, of which the style itself is innocent. It is unlikely that the building style will be respected or replicated again after the destruction of Grenfell Tower, London in 2017, in which the poorly-done claddingnote  was blamed for helping the fire escalate.
  • The "McMansion" style, with its soaring ceilings, open plans, enormous rooms, architectural mix-and-matches and enough square footage to comfortably hold one of those huge families from a TLC reality show, was an incredibly popular style of American home construction from the late 20th century up through around 2005-07, fueled by Bush-era debt-powered speculative economics that resulted in tons of mortgages being given away left and right to people without much money and whose idea of being rich was living the fabulous life of a 2000s-era reality show. When the real estate bubble burst as soon as Bush left the Oval Office, the McMansions it spawned were the very first thing to die. The very core attributes of a McMansion made the costs of heating and cooling them prohibitive for a great many people. The fact that most McMansions were built in exurbs located up to an hour's drive or more from the nearest major city — where land was cheap enough to put them within financial reach of people who weren't named Trump or Kardashian — also hurt them when gasoline stopped being cheap. (Such exurbs themselves often found themselves going from boom towns to dying towns virtually overnight.) Finally, McMansions made up a majority of the houses foreclosed upon during the subprime mortgage crash, as their sheer size often made them too expensive for most people to purchase without a loan, and a large amount of the money lost by creditors all over the country due to the crisis was specifically because foreclosed McMansions sold so poorly they had to be bargained at a tiny fraction of their original cost.
  • Utopian architecture and urban planning boomed in the first two-thirds of the 20th century, when architects and futurists of every political stripe and cultural outlook sought to find a way to "reengineer the city" in a manner more conductive to progress towards an envisioned utopian society. Among the more famous proposals were Frank Lloyd Wright's "Broadacre City" that served as a blueprint for postwar suburbia, Paolo Soleri's arcologies, Walt Disney's original "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow" (which later evolved into the Epcot part of Disney World), and Le Corbusier's unrealized "Plan Voisin" for central Paris and his more successful plan for Chandigarh, India. These designs fell out of favor in The '70s as a new generation of urban planners criticized them for ignoring the human inhabitants of cities, trying to force them into the architect or planner's vision instead of designing cities around their needs. Today, this sort of utopianism is rarely seen within serious study of architecture and urban planning. It has made a minor comeback among environmentalists seeking to build sustainable alternatives to car-focused urban centers, but beyond that, it's been mostly relegated to the realms of science fiction and retro-future kitsch. This article by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan for Gizmodo, about the master-planned community of Celebration, Florida, illustrates the mistrust that many Americans have of such proposals.In this case... 

    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? The Draco, an utterly nonsensical story about Nightcrawler being a demon and a conspiracy to appoint him Pope. An arc that served as a bizarre retelling of Romeo and Juliet that featured a midair public sex scene. Juggernaut turning good and banging She-Hulk for no reason. The introduction of Creator's Pet Annie Ghazikhanian. 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 fans nor Lana fans. It would be his last mainstream work. 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 Young Blood. However, after the Dark Age ended, he became a laughingstock for being a Lazy Artist (not drawing feet, creating unrealistic/generic character designs, and overusing pouches), and for plagiarizing concepts form other people (for example, Deadpool started of 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 and 2012 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 Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, 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.
  • Tintin in the Congo is one of the most infamous instance 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 racist portrayal of the Congolese people, who are drawn to look like monkeys and are depicted as stupid and infantile. 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. The attitude towards hunting can be seen as Values Dissonance today, but the explicit racism goes far beyond that and has led to the book being removed from public libraries in Europe. 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 though 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.

  • 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 was very popular, 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 the also DTD 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, 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 Birth of a Nation 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 even though it's rated G. However, to say that the film's writing and story has not aged well... 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. A big, white-hooded, cross-burning reason.
  • 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 Movies. While not as universally reviled today, it remains a Contested Sequel even among Godfather fans.

  • 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 books about "elite" high school girls. Following the success of Mean Girlsnote , books about the lives of incredibly 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. However, due to the Alpha Bitch stereotype being so firmly ingrained in pop culture, it is very difficult to make such characters likable or sympathetic. Moreover, as youth bullying became a hot topic towards the end of the decade, Values Dissonance turned the main characters of these books into Villain Protagonists, while the Great Recession around the same time made the large displays of wealth that were often featured in them look tacky and tasteless. Nowadays, if many of these series are remembered at all, it's mainly as Snark Bait among the people who grew up reading them.


  • Samuel Richardson's Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded was a best-seller in 1740. Its psychological analysis was revolutionary for its time and remains important, and it was a huge cult hit back in its contemporary to the point it spawn 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 makes the novel virtually impossible to connect to. It's 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 sheikh who repeatedly rapes her until she fell in love with him - and this was seen as romantic. 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 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. The genre received a second wind in The '90s with Baywatch and its assorted copycats, but with the rise of easily accessible pornography on the internet and more liberal views towards sexual matters, shows that once expected to coast solely on the beauty of their casts increasingly found themselves disappointed, especially once 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. 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. 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.
  • 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 a children's author, the latter as an actor in a variety of productions), Little Britain is just a relic of its time. Walliams And Friend, which came out in 2016, did an unflattering sketch about Little Britain which makes it clear that David Walliams 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 emphasise 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!").
  • 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 nighttime 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 cable reruns, it's mostly seen as an overly sentimental, glurge-friendly joke now.

    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) over the years, 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's not likely to recapture any of that any day soon, being 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.

    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 — as well as expressing a desire to wrestle. In her initial months, she was held up as a Diva with lots of potential. Things went downhill around the time she was chosen to pose for Playboy. 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 Ashley's side. The final nail came when she was exposed as possibly working for a high-class escort agencynote , and requested to be released in order to care for her ill daughter. While she attempted to make a comeback on the indies, she eventually got a reputation for no-showing events she was advertised for (it was eight years before she had any match that got anyone's attention and the average wrestling fan can't be expected to stick with anything for more than seven). Nowadays, she's 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 when the WWE version of NXT 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. NXT was a "contest" style show with "rookies" ranging from true rookies, to guys with a decent amount of experience to one guy who had been wrestling since WCW still existed. Instead of building up to matches between the best guys, like a regular wrestling show, more time was given to obstacle courses, trivia and drinking soda pop. The only wrestler who managed to look halfway decent was Daniel Bryan, who was actively buried on commentary, given the most losses and then eliminated through New Rules as the Plot Demands. 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 and everyone in their path out of retaliation for being put on through such a terrible experience. It became the most positively received WWE event of the year, up to that point. Daniel Bryan, the most experienced and popular wrestler, being arbitrarily fired did hurt the enthusiasm a little, but he was still wrestling on the independent circuit under his real name of Bryan Danielson and stating he had no ill will over it while the remaining "rookies" continued to destroy everything in their path, convincing fans The Nexus would still go down in history as one of WWE's most iconic stables. Then the inevitable big showdown on pay per view ended with The Nexus suffering a humiliatingly anticlimactic loss. Gone was all the momentum and WWE's attempts to restore The Nexus just reminded people of why they hated the NXT show. Bryan Danielson returned as Daniel Bryan, and still very popular, but that didn't help The Nexus as he was no longer associated with it. Instead, the less likable CM Punk was added to the group to invigorate it, but fans began to ignore the "New Nexus" altogether and focus solely on Punk, since he was much more interesting in the ring and on the microphone that the rest put together. Wade Barrett tried to duplicate The Nexus's initial success with "The Corre", and did a pretty good job, much better than "The New Nexus" until, once again, the big fight came on pay per view and The Corre were destroyed, losing all momentum in the process. NXT would try to produce another revival of The Nexus with "Genesis" but this attempt didn't even get off to a good start, was the reason for CM Punk's entry as opposed to more focus on "rookies" and again resulted in the firing of the most popular wrestler, with the added scandal of WWE releasing the technically true but disingenuous statement of Low Ki asking for his release. NXT would eventually take on a standard wrestling show formula, becoming much more popular in the process, making WWE's first effort that much more hated, and causing fans to proclaim a stable of "rookies" was destined to fail from the beginning, The Nexus mainly being brought up to mock how Danielson was fired, it's three "successors" not even getting that much, or to say The Shield Power Trio is what The Nexus should have been.
  • Alberto Del Rio spent years on the Mexican circuit as Dos Caras Jr., getting attention and work with enterprises of other countries. He signed a contract with US-based WWE in 2009. His Ted DiBiase meets John "Bradshaw" Layfield meets Eddie Guerrero gimmick was a huge hit with fans, becoming one of the most popular heels on the WWE roster, winning the Royal Rumble six months into his debut, and scoring a championship match at WrestleMania 27 against Edge in what would be the latter's final match. While his loss there quickly dried up his momentum, he was able to rebound at that year's Money in the Bank, winning the contract for the WWE Championship and ultimately cashing it in on CM Punk at that year's edition of SummerSlam.

    That win, however, both marked the peak of his success and set off his fall from it, as people saw the cash-in an attempt to bury Punk and cut off all the momentum he had from the "Summer of Punk" angle. Del Rio's booking as a champion would be very weak, losing the title to John Cena in his first defense and winning it right back from him shortly afterwards. After losing the WWE Championship to Punk at Survivor Series to start his legendary 434-day reign, Del Rio quickly faded into the background, taking a few months off to heal before returning to feud with Sheamus for the World Heavyweight title. The feud, which was quickly decried by fans as boring and seemingly endless, failed to do anything for either man's career. Del Rio turned face not long after his feud was finished and won the WHC from The Big Show, but it bombed so badly that he went back to being a heel shortly afterwards. Del Rio would be barely an afterthought for the next year, ultimately being released after getting into a fight with a backstage worker. Del Rio was able to redeem himself the year afterwards thanks to his work in The World Wrestling League, Lucha Underground and AAA as "El Patrón", and eventually returned to WWE in 2015, winning the United States championship from John Cena and getting a massive pop from the crowd. But not even a day after his return, all the work he did to repair his battered image was completely undone, as the fans quickly reverted to showing nothing but apathy towards him. His involvement with the League of Nations only made things worse, but the final straw in his career was his relationship with Paige, as the two ultimately started to get continuously into trouble with the WWE Wellness Policy, and less than a year later Del Rio was once again released from his contract. He went over to Impact Wrestling immediately afterwards, where he was hotshotted to the GFW title, even though people could not care much less about it, and his title reign became yet another symbol of TNA's slow, painful death.

    The final nail in the coffin came from the downward spiral his personal life went through, as he became increasingly bitter and resentful towards the way WWE treated him, and his relationship with Paige reached a point where the two ended their engagement amidst allegations of Domestic Abuse on Del Rio's part. Today, Alberto Del Rio is seen by fans as an example of an overhyped heel who failed to make any lasting impact, reeked of mediocrity, and at the end of the day proved to be an utterly embarrassing person outside kayfabe, so much so that few people will admit to having ever liked him.

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.

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 2 million MySpace friends, and his CD Retaliation went double-platinum and became the best-selling comedy album in over thirty years. 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 humor aimed at audiences that don't know any better. Nowadays, few will admit to having been fans of his.

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. The practice of blackface — using heavy makeup on a white actor so they can play a caricature of black stereotypes — 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. It's mostly remembered today as one of the earliest and oddest examples of Disneyfication.

    Western Animation 
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 it's now one of the most hated cartoons of all time. Even the early seasons are viewed as being not much better in hindsight. Not helping was the fact that it continued production well into 2014, mainly because of CanCon policies forcing Canadian animation to be constantly churned out in spite of the show's 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. It's very telling that its season boxsets are sold solely in grocery store bargain bins, and even Cartoon Network (who, being a Time Warner subsidiary, inherited the American broadcast rights) seems to despise it as almost all of their promotions for it reek of Our Product Sucks. It's even believed that the whole show was a Springtime for Hitler ploy Gone Horribly Wrong. Today, the show is the poster child for bad shows overexposed by the network at the expense of others, and is seen as the face of everything wrong with Cartoon Network (the show being most prominent during what is widely considered the channel's Dork Age didn't help), Canadian animation, and modern animation in general.
  • Scrappy-Doo is an example of a character fitting this trope. In 1979, he 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. He now comes off as a Small, Annoying Creature, not appealing to the younger fans and alienating older ones. He is now 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 acknowledge him, and the times they do, it's NEVER with kindness.

    Real Life 
  • The Chevrolet Vega was showered with praise by automotive critics when it debuted in 1970, including Motor Trend's 1971 Car of the Year award and Car and Driver's Best Economy Sedan for three years running (1971-73). The sleek, comfortable, nimble compact flew off of dealership lots, and it was hailed as proof that General Motors could compete with Volkswagen and Toyota at their own game. However, once those critics and early buyers had their cars for more than a couple of years, they changed their tune fast. The Vega had a multitude of engineering and build quality problems that, before long, 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 — and Detroit's — Dork Age in the '70s. By the end of the decade, even many junkyards wouldn't take Vegas, as it was assumed that there were virtually no usable parts that could be stripped off of them before they were simply thrown into the crusher and sold for scrap. Nowadays, Americans remember it 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"), its parent company AM General was purchased by General Motors in 1999, and it soon became one of the most popular SUV brands in the United States, especially after the launch of the smaller, less expensive H2 and H3 models. The original H1 model earned a reputation as the ultimate off-road vehicle, made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger (who owned several of them), while the H2 and H3 offered the same swagger to people who didn't have six figures to shell outnote . All of them were status symbols, popular for limousine conversions and modifications; custom H2s with massive rims and chrome plating were a common sight in the Glam Rap videos of the era.

    However, sales for the brand started to plummet in the summer of 2008 during the oil crisis (they were notorious for guzzling gas even at the height of their popularitynote ), and stayed low once the financial crisis and subsequent recession hit later that year. Production was halted when GM declared bankruptcy in June of 2009, and after the company emerged from bankruptcy a month later attempts were made to re-brand the Hummer as a more eco-friendly vehicle with a smaller hybrid electric/gas version, which didn't get very far. After GM's attempt to sell the brand to the Sichuan Tengzhong Automobile company in China failed, they completely discontinued the Hummer brand in late 2009. Today, the brand is remembered as a poster child for the excesses of Turn of the Millennium consumerism, and not many people will admit to having owned one. 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 that were basically nerfed versions of the H1, cheapening the brand and giving it its current reputation. William Clavey of Jalopnik, looking back on the H2 years later, described it as "an automotive equivalent to the phrase 'we’ve gone too far.'"
  • The pillarless hardtop body style. Introduced by General Motors in 1949, it quickly became very popular and was offered by pretty much every major American automaker by the dawn of The '60s. However, concerns about rollover safety in The '70s led to it being phased out alongside the convertible, and while convertibles made a comeback in The '80s with the introduction of roll bars (both built-in and retractable), the hardtop has stayed dead.

Food and Drink

  • Zima was a clear alcopop beverage that popped 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 20s (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" 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 1960s, Aluminum Christmas trees were a very popular decoration in the USA. Their demise is usually attributed to the famous 1965 cartoon A Charlie Brown Christmas, where they were used as a symbol for kitsch and commercialization of Christmas, causing the general public to view them as tacky and embarrassing; the aluminum tree was pretty much dead by the time the 1970s rolled in. Today, they're almost entirely forgotten (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), except as a reminder of how kitschy The '60s could be.

In-Universe Examples

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

  • 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 because 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.

  • The 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 essentially pushed from popular memory all 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, 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 we in the 2010s 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.

    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 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.

    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.

Alternative Title(s): Hype Reversion, Dead As Disco, Anime And Manga, Real Life, Western Animation, Video Games, Stand Up Comedy, Sports, Comic Books, Professional Wrestling, Fashion, Film, Live Action TV, Literature