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Flash-in-the-Pan Fad

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"It's a fad. This week it's popular, next week we won't even know it existed."

Fashions come and go, and new technologies become obsolete, but this is ridiculous.

Fiction likes to take the natural rise and fall of trends and parody it by cranking up the speed. Anything at all—a style of clothes, a book, a new diet, a must-have gadget, whatever—can be completely unknown one week, then the hottest topic in the world next week... and then Condemned by History the week after that. Heck, sometimes this rise and fall happens in mere days. And it's practically a Stock Joke now that as soon as you buy a computer, a new model will come out and make yours obsolete.

Memetic Mutation is often a Real Life example: the internet moves quickly enough that trending topics can become Discredited Memes in one day, or even shorter.

Often overlaps with the Trend Aesop. See also Anyone Remember Pogs?, when the flash-in-the-pan fads are reminisced and ridiculed in retrospect.


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  • In a commercial for Best Buy's buyback program (where you can trade in your tech for the latest version within a certain length of time) we see a man who has just taken delivery of a big screen 3D TV, the latest and greatest technology of the day, only to notice that the delivery van has a huge ad for the new 4D TVs.

  • In Dave Barry in Cyberspace, Dave jokes that computer companies have spies watching your house so they can release new computer models at the ideal time: immediately after you buy the current model. You may think you can trick them by carrying an empty box into your house and loudly declaring that you just bought a new computer, but that doesn't work. The spies have x-ray goggles.
  • The Dr. Seuss story "The Sneetches" mixes this trope with a struggle between the haves and the have-nots. Initially the star-bellied Sneetches are the upper class of Sneetch society. But when the plain-bellied Sneetches find a way to get stars, the upper crust preserves the class dichotomy by removing their own stars and declaring that the plain-bellied look is now in. The two sides swap their looks so many times that they eventually can't remember which they started out as.
  • Esme Squalor in A Series of Unfortunate Events is a gleeful specialist in these, combined with The Fashionista. She goes so far in her first appearance as to adopt children because "orphans are in." Many of the trends she jumps on are downright absurd, including drinking "aqueous martinis" (water with an olive in it), attending restaurants that serve exclusively salmon, or putting her entire home in complete darkness.

    Live Action TV 
  • Discussed in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Game". As the Enterprise crew become obsessed with playing a holographic video game, Robin Lefler thinks, "It's a fad. This week it's popular, next week we won't even know it existed." But she's wrong, and The Game turns out to be both highly addictive and capable of mind-controlling anyone who plays it.

  • Five Iron Frenzy mocks this in their anti-consumerism song "Vultures".
    Did you you see the new computers,
    aren't they oh-so-obsolete?
    And that shade of black you wear,
    it's so Tuesday of last week.
  • Similarly, Pantera mercilessly and angrily criticizes trends in their song "The Great Southern Trendkill".
    Buy it at a store,
    from MTV to on the floor
    You look just like a star,
    it's proof you don't know who you are
  • They Might Be Giants: "Spiraling Shape" is, according to Linnel and Flansburgh, about the seemingly endless cycle of people becoming obsessed with "the next big thing", and abandoning it when it doesn't live up to the hype.
    And now that you've tried it, you're back to report
    That the spiraling shape was a fraud and a fake
    You didn't enjoy it, you never believed it
    There won't be a refund, you'll never go back

    Newspaper Comics 
  • One FoxTrot storyline had Paige and Nicole debating whether to steal a popular CD from the music store, since they don't have enough money to buy it. Paige insists they should just wait until they can buy the CD, but Nicole counters that they need the album now, because the band will be completely passe by the end of the week, if not sooner.
    Paige: There's a definite downside to liking flash-in-the-pan groups.
  • Pearls Before Swine: In the January 22, 2016 strip, Rat buys the Smartphone 6, which just came out that very day. Then the store announces that the Smartphone 7 ("All new features! Faster! Bigger!") is coming out tomorrow.
    Rat: Tech companies are evil.

    Web Animation 
  • Strong Bad Email: In "old comics", the defunct newspaper comic The Castlefunnies tried to come back into the mainstream by releasing a line of officially licensed "King Castlefunny Pencil Moisteners". "But, considering the Dry Pencil Scare of '47 only lasted 3 days, they didn't sell too many."

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation puts a horror spin on the phenomenon with SCP-1425, a self-help book titled Star Signals. It quickly becomes a best-seller due to its mind-warping, reality-altering effects, and also celebrity endorsements. Then a week later, the book is completely forgotten—because the Foundation realizes the threat it poses, seizes all copies of the book, and uses their considerable resources to erase the book from the collective memory, both literally and figuratively.

    Web Video 
  • Scootertrix the Abridged: In episode 11, everypony besides Twilight is suddenly wearing a "winter vest" (with a matching arm band), and will eagerly talk at length about how great these vests are. Twilight isn't interested at all, but she eventually decides to buy a vest anyway, just to stop everyone from bugging her. But when she goes to buy one, Rarity refuses to sell one to her because the vests are already out of fashion.
    Rarity: Well, um, you see, nopony wears the vests anymore because, um, that was yesterday's fashion.
    Twilight: Yesterday's fashion?
    Rarity: Yes.
    Twilight: But, but I...
    Rarity: You need to, uh, you need to keep up with the times, there, Twilight.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of All Grown Up! has Dil inventing several such fads, that Tommy tries to take advantage of in order to make money, but each fad fizzles out as quickly as it came for one reason or another (for example, one fad dies out instantly when Pangborn joins in). By the end of the episode, one of the fads has become popular again as it's apparently old enough to be considered retro, "and retro's in!" Bear in mind that the whole episode can't have spanned more than a week or two.
  • Exaggerated in Arthur with "Woogle" collectibles, a craze that annoys Arthur to the point that he says that clicking the bubble-top of a metal bottle cap would be just as fun. Cue the next trend: bottle cap clicking.
  • Exaggerated in Ed, Edd n Eddy in the episode "It's Way Ed". The kids spend the day coming up with new fads every few minutes, and the Eds desperately try to figure out how to keep up with them.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Parodied by the super-trendy Katt Savage, who makes it her life's calling to be ahead of the pop-culture curve and has a storage room full of fads that stopped being cutting-edge. It leaves her a Stepford Smiler on the verge of a breakdown.
      "See, I follow trends. All of them, no matter what — piercings, colonics, trendy surgeries, online affairs. I've even done some street fighting."
    • Played for Drama on the episode "Born Again to be Wild", wherein Bobby becomes part of a radical Christian youth group that is essentially The Moral Substitute for a skater punk rocker gang. Bobby associating religion with "radical" heightens his love of God but Hank, ever the Fantasy-Forbidding Father, comes to detest the group because he's afraid Bobby will eventually grow bored of the skater fad and ditch God altogether as a result. To point this out to him, Hank shows him a box full of old fads that the family grew out of, including Bobby's old toys and a picture of Hank wearing a Members Only jacket.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • The episode "Chez Platypus" has the boys set up a platypus-themed restaurant they call "Chez Platypus". Word of the "trendiest restaurant" spread into the entire Tri-State Area and people quickly went in line to the Fletchers' backyard, even Dr. Doofenshmirtz and his date. At the end of the day, a badger-themed restaurant opened up in the street, the patrons promptly bailed, and the restaurant was sold to someone who wishes to expand it to a chain.
    Ferb: Ah, the public is fickle.
    • In the episode "Run Away Runway", Phineas and Ferb set up a fashion line based on their Limited Wardrobe. Within seconds everyone is wearing it, until an army of Doofenshmirtz clones inadvertently turn his Limited Wardrobe into a craze. until the next episode, anyway.
      Gaston Le Mode: Face it, mon ami, your designs are 3 minutes and 37 seconds ago.
  • The Simpsons: In "Bart Gets Famous", Bart is catapulted into celebrity when he screws up a Krusty the Clown sketch and blurts out "I didn't do it!", which becomes an insanely popular catchphrase. It spawns a bunch of merchandise and a media tour, but the public tires of Bart just as abruptly by the end of the episode.