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These are the tropes that are one step beyond Dead Horse Tropes and Discredited Tropes; not only are they not used straight, they're not used at all. You won't find this in any current series; they have disappeared from the writer's toolbox.

Note that Forgotten Tropes aren't actually forgotten, Future Imperfect-style; if they were, would we even be talking about them here? Academics will know all about them, and a few minutes with a web search engine will turn up plenty if you know what to look for. Rather than truly forgotten tropes, they might be better thought of as obsolete tropes or archaic tropes. They may, on very, very rare occasions, show up in a modern series, but generally those are only emulating a series that did have these. The best place to find Forgotten Tropes is in "classic" works; there you will see them, frozen like insects in amber. They're also often used by artists relying a great deal on the Nostalgia Filter: Walt Disney, for example, probably did more than anyone else to keep a number of otherwise Forgotten tropes alive.

Often, these tropes were a sign of the times, and as the times moved on so did the tropes, morphing to fit the current standard. Many tropes evolved this way, and while their ancestors went extinct, the fossils remain (as do, occasionally, vestigial features in their descendants). Tropes of this nature are occasionally revived (though only rarely played fully straight without further examination) in the process of invoking Deliberate Values Dissonance for the time period in which they were prevalent, as they typically reflected broader societal views on certain professions or issues. Alternately, a broken trope may be impossible in a work set in the modern day, but work perfectly well in a Period Piece; other tropes revolving around the production of a work can still be deliberately invoked as a stylistic choice but remain forgotten as a standard.

Some tropes become Forgotten Tropes after going through the Discredited and/or Dead Horse Trope stage first. However, sometimes the usage of a trope just quietly fades away. Some trends were overlooked at the time of their popularity and are recognized as a trope only in retrospect, thus avoiding backlash. This can also happen if the trope was based on e.g. a piece of technology that has fallen into disuse, and the trope faded away alongside the tech itself.

Forgotten tropes are almost always some of The Oldest Ones in the Book, except that they've fallen out of the book entirely. When a trope is forgotten but its parody isn't, it's gone through Parody Displacement.

When a particular change in technology or culture makes tropes obsolete overnight, it's a Trope Breaker.

Examples are sorted by the time period they were most popular or most common. If a trope has a lot of examples, please feel free to use the Trope Launch Pad to make it its own page!

Forgotten Tropes with their own pages:

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    Forgotten Tropes with their own pages 
  • 30 Minutes, or It's Free!: Pizza restaurants no longer do this for exactly the reason it became such a common comedy trope: the offer encouraged pizza deliverymen to try reckless (and potentially dangerous) maneuvers or risk not getting paid, and Domino's Pizza (which had started the whole affair) was eventually sued into withdrawing the promotion in 1993 out of concerns for public safety, and the offer became forgotten in the space of a few years. Also, some people would attempt to mislead the deliveryman to make him late, such as deliberately providing incorrect directions or even addresses, something that wouldn't fly nowadays as GPS systems and apps such as Waze have allowed deliverers to take less congested roads.
  • 3D Comic Book: Was a fad that stemmed as an extension of the 3D movie craze of the 1950s that got a short-lived revival in the 1980s. It's popped up again on occasion since then (Final Crisis: Superman Beyond is probably the most notable post-80s example), but it's generally not seen as a trend, with writers using the look precisely thanks to its weird and unsettling effects.
  • Arcade-Perfect Port: As home console and PC hardware caught up with the arcades, the arcade port was not seen as superior way to play the game. Nowdays, arcade ports are rare and usually simultaneous with release of other platforms.
  • Bank Toaster: Banks don't really do these kinds of promotions anymore, and most of the old targets (the titular toaster) are now too cheap for anyone to put them under consideration.
  • Black Cap of Death: The death penalty has been outlawed in the UK and much of Europe, meaning judges rarely ever wear these today, and the cap's original connotations can only survive in period pieces. Oddly they are regardless still issued them, as they have never been formally removed from the judicial uniform and are technically still supposed to be worn or at least carried at ceremonial occasions like the State Opening of Parliament.
  • Boss Button: Used in 1980s computer games to hide game-playing at work from supervisors, back when computers were rare; multitasking operating systems and affordable home computers, as well as quick switching (e.g. Alt-TAB in Windows or Cmd-TAB in MacOS) caused this trope to become obsolete.
  • Brain Fever: While neither neurological diseases nor mental illnesses are entirely understood, we've come a long way since it was thought they were chiefly the result of excessive exposure to high temperatures.
  • Breach of Promise of Marriage: Abolished since the '50s in America, due mainly to changing social norms. Some US states do have "alienation of affection" laws, but the purpose of those is to hold a third party accountable for sabotaging an existing marriage (compare tortious interference laws), not to punish one of the marriage partners for backing out at the last second.
  • Camera Obscurer: Digital cameras and smartphones nowadays show the view directly from the only lens, and the ability to review the image immediately after it's taken makes it easy to correct mistakes like accidentally covering the lens.
  • Candy Striper: As the use of untrained minors as an unpaid workforce in the health care field fell off, so too did instances of this trope in media.
  • The Captivity Narrative: The discrediting of The Savage Indian and the declining presence of First Nations communities in North America (which have either assimilated or retreated into their respective reservations) have made this a hard sell.
  • Cheating with the Milkman: Milkmen used to be fairly common when either dairies held de facto monopolies over certain territories or there was a "milk council" regulating the trade. Greater competition and the fact milk doesn't have the importance it once had in the average diet have made it more practical to just buy it from the store. In modern tellings, the milkman may be replaced by another visiting laborer (plumber, maid, pool boy, delivery driver, etc.)
    • Related to milkmen were ice men, who were ultimately supplanted by electric refrigerators in the late 1940s.
  • Circassian Beauty: Took a beating when it was displaced as an "exotic beauty" stereotype by archetypes with less of a creepy history behind them.
  • College Widow: Co-ed colleges mean that badgering older women is now fairly low on the list of things horny college students will do unless they're someone who Likes Older Women.
  • College Radio: As educational institutions have tended to slash their budgets for extracurricular activities outside sports, most student-run broadcasters have closed down. The fact social media has replaced broadcasting as the main means of information and entertainment among young people has also reduced their appeal.
  • Construction Zone Calamity: Still seen sometimes in videogames and animation, but all the classic gags of the setpiece are now badly outdated as increasingly strict safety standards forced construction companies to change how buildings were erected.
  • Divorce in Reno: Necessary in the days when non-consensual divorce outside Nevada was a tricky deal in America, not so much now. Another factor that caused this trope to be forgotten is that, starting in the 1940s, Reno itself would decline in prominence as the major tourist destination in Nevada, as tourists and the media began turning their attention downstate instead.
  • Engagement Challenge: Pretty much exclusively seen in fairy tales.
  • Evil Jesuit: Found its greatest success in The Cavalier Years and when anti-Catholic Protestant sentiment was strong. Nowadays, relations between Catholics and Protestants have become much less hostile (most of the time), and people looking for "evil Catholic" stereotypes have much bigger fish to fry (especially the Pedophile Priest) than the Jesuits — who tend to be, if anything, viewed more fondly by outsiders for their dedication to education and rational inquiry.
  • The Flapping Dickey: A dickey is a false shirt front, a roundish piece of starched cloth, paper, or synthetic material, which was used under a formal jacket to "cheat" the look of a tuxedo. Dickeys were cheap, comfortable, and easier to launder, which made them popular at a time when doing laundry was so labor-intensive. But they were considered unfashionable and had a tendency (exaggerated in fiction) to flap upwards, humiliating the wearer. Thus a flapping dickey with a string-pulled mechanism was an obnoxiously common vaudeville gag and was seen in fiction up to the 1990s, long after laundry became much cheaper.
  • Food Pills: Also a Dead Unicorn Trope due to the obvious logistical problems (carbohydrates really don't compress that well) and the concept has been frequently disproven in real life. The trope was a staple of the sci-fi genre until the late 2000s when it was discovered that the body requires the act of eating, and food replacements in pill, liquid or granular form simply isn't viable, even if it replicates the taste of a meal perfectly.
  • Fourth Reich: After World War II, there were fears that a Fourth Reich might rise from the ashes of the Third Reich just as the Third Reich had risen from the ashes of the Second Reich. Thus, some works of post-war fiction featured villainous Nazis plotting to build a new Reich and launch World War III. Originally treated seriously, this plot was relegated to pulp fiction by the 1960s. As the focus shifted from the possibility of a Nazi revival in Germany itself to the schemes of Nazi exiles in South America, this trope came to be superseded by Argentina Is Nazi-Land. And as the last possible surviving original Nazis are dwindling by the day, even that trope is pretty likely to fade out. While the idea of a neo-Nazi uprising is still common in fiction, it's rare that it'll have much connection to the actual modern Germany.
  • Game Show Winnings Cap: An Author's Saving Throw to deal with scandals of rigging in the '50s. With the scandals in the past, many shows break high figures.
  • Give the Baby a Father: As single parenthood has become more accepted, that a pregnant woman chooses not to marry is less relevant than it was before the 1970s. As the economy worsened however in the late 2000s, the idea of a couple and their child staying together resurfaced, but almost entirely for financial reasons instead of the shame of singlehood.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: Ever since the song entered the public domain in the United States on September 22, 2015, this trope has all but disappeared.
  • Heroic Russian Émigré: Given this trope kicked off in 1917, any character to fit the archetype would be dead of old age by today. Variants of them show up as defectors in Cold War stories, but they generally don't play any of the old tropes straight, and many modern defectors are likely to be just critical of the government instead of Russia as a whole, and tend not to like the West that much either. Additionally, this trope saw success in part due to Westerners and monarchists sympathizing with Tsarist Russia and the family of Nicholas II—a view that has mostly died off barring the continued fascination with one of his daughters, given that historians tend to consider Nicholas to have been well-meaning but incompetent at best and a deluded tyrant at worst.
  • Honorable Marriage Proposal: Largely died in the Western world as it became less relevant for a woman to stay a virgin until marriage. Still crops up in more conservative places.
  • Jiggle Show: This television subgenre from The '70s and The '80s, popularized by shows such as Charlie's Angels and Baywatch, featured busty women in situations that prompt plenty of bouncing. The subgenre has fallen off in the years after- and with the expansion of the Internet in the 90s and 2000s, you can probably guess why.
  • Landline Eavesdropping: The main trope isn't quite there yet, but an internal subtrope is. The trope of a gossipy neighbor eavesdropping on a party-line phone call, where a single phone line was shared by everyone in the neighborhood, was common in media through the 1960s but has now faded from the imagination because Technology Marches On.
  • Long Form Promo: The rise of cable prompted broadcast networks to move away from this practice, with the subsequent rise of streaming being the final nail in the coffin.
  • Lover and Beloved: Modern gay culture tends to heavily reject this kind of worldview, seeing it as an unneeded or even sexist heterosexual framework being forced where it doesn't belong—if anything, the lack of such frameworks is usually seen as a good thing about gay relationships.
  • Makeup Is Evil: The idea that all makeup is evil is largely kaput, as it's accepted that the vast majority of women will wear at least a little. Making fun of excessive makeup or the makeup industry is still fairly common, though.
  • Mal Mariée: Age-gap marriages are less and less common, as are (at least in Western society) Arranged Marriages and Shotgun Weddings and the specific archetype has been blurred away.
  • Maternal Impression: The idea that emotional stimulus experienced by a pregnant woman could influence the development of her baby was historically a real medical theory used to explain the existence of birth defects and congenital disorders. With the discovery of modern genetic theory, it has largely been forgotten.
  • Narrative Poem: Originally served the purpose of making very long stories one would need to commit to memory possible to commit to memory. The advent of the printing press put them in decline, as prose proved much easier to manage.
  • Network Sign Off: For decades, TV channels would frequently sign off and stop broadcasting for the night. The rise of cable television eventually led to a gradual adoption of 24-hour operations on free-to-air TV, which in North America and the UK was done between the late 1980s and the early 1990s.
  • Proud Papa Passes Out the Cigars: Until the early 1970s, new fathers would usually celebrate their child's birth by having a smoke with friends and perhaps even the doctor. Extra points if this happened in the maternity ward. These days, the stigmas against smoking means a new father probably won't be doing this, and certainly not in a hospital; just trying it these days is likely to get you kicked out of the place. As such, after this trope disappeared from real maternity wards, it similarly disappeared in fiction.
  • Ratchet Scrolling: Originally a technical limitation, but cropped up afterward in some later games to a more limited degree in attempts to add challenge (typically going vertically instead of horizontally). However, levels which used this mechanic were rarely popular, and thus gradually faded out of video games when people kept complaining. The Advancing Wall of Doom might still be used from time to time to prevent a player from going backwards, but outright stopping them from moving with an Invisible Wall is gone completely.invoked
  • Restoration Comedy: Largely vanished after the reign of Charles II as the era grew more distant. Some of the original plays are still liked and performed, but it’s not a live genre in new works.
  • Roadshow Theatrical Release: The practice died out around the late '60s/early '70s as a series of high-profile box-office bombs revealed it to be more risk than reward (particularly in the case of Lost Horizon) and by the late 1970s, movie distribution schemes shifted to a wide-release model with the rise of multiplexes and the success of Jaws. Some films still receive limited releases before going nationwide, and the core idea of films finding gimmicks to get audiences to pay more for tickets survives (see IMAX or 3D films), but the roadshow never provided all that much in comparison.
  • Satyr Play: Popular in Ancient Greece, these were seen as degenerate by the Romans, who opted to erase any trace of them. Only one such complete play even survives.
  • Scales of Justice: The imagery shows up when talking about the judicial system, but it's not associated so much with courtrooms and trials anymore. However, there is still a statue of Justice, with scales, atop the Central Criminal Court in London, so the image may crop up in passing in stories set there.
  • Seen-It-All Suicide: Mostly seen in cartoons, and died as these were edited to remove such scenes from TV airings. Following the high-profile suicide of Robin Williams in 2014 and its massive effects on public perception of both the act and mental illness as a whole, adult cartoons in the modern era tend to be more tentative with Suicide as Comedy, which is problematic when the whole gag is its flippancy.
  • Sentenced to Down Under: Australia hasn't served as a penal colony in quite some time, with the last convicts to be sentenced that way arriving in 1868. While the harsh climate and bizarre, aggressive wildlife of Australia can still render it The Dreaded for some, the idea of being legally sentenced to live there as punishment generally doesn't stay in the public consciousness outside of historical knowledge and occasional related jokes.
  • Sermonette: A short religious programme shown on television, usually shown at the end of the day to comply with regulators' stipulations that networks should do a certain amount of broadcasting "in the public interest."
  • Stigmatic Pregnancy Euphemism: As attitudes towards single motherhood have begun to change (and that it's more common for abortions to be legal), it's no longer common for a young woman who becomes pregnant out of wedlock to be Put on a Bus to either have the baby or have an abortion under the guise of "going out to the country to see her aunt."
  • Stock Market Game: Full games based on a stock market are mostly unseen nowadays due to the stock market fad ending and many players finding them unappealing. Minigames are still popularly implemented, especially in the Idle Game genre.
  • String-on-Finger Reminder: Ironically. Writing notes or setting alarms on computers or smartphones usually serves the same purpose far better.
  • Tank Controls: Those controls were often used due to technical limitations or lack of buttons. Better control systems made this way to control player characters obsolete.
  • Telegraph Gag STOP: Most people don't even realize this is a gag, as the telegraph has long been displaced by more efficient means of communication. If anything, people tend to be surprised at characters reading a telegram normally.
  • Third Is 3D: Now that video games in 3-D are well-established as the norm, and movies in 3-D aren't quite as much of a novelty anymore, basically no one names video games or movies like this.
  • Those Magnificent Flying Machines: This trope obviously can't work in a post-Wright-Brothers world where flight is commonplace, mundane, and completely demystified. It can pop up in more Retraux settings, though, especially given its association with Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Tied Up on the Phone: With the advent of cordless phones and cell phones, fewer and fewer people use phones that have cords.
  • Tontine: You won't find a bank that honors these anymore, and they are more frequently downright illegal than not. And this is for the same reason it was common in fiction; it gives the partners incentive to murder each other.
  • Typewriter Eating: As typewriters have become less and less common, few people would get the joke and would instead wonder about the sounds.
  • Ugly Slavic Women: Died after the Cold War, with Sensual Slavs eating most of its real estate. This was thanks to Sensual Slavs being key to When Harry Met Svetlana plots in Spy Fiction, which led to them being remembered more fondly than their other counterparts.
  • Unable to Support a Wife: Nowadays, the rising cost of living means that most families will have both parents working at least one job. Has evolved somewhat into the husband feeling inadequate that his wife makes more than him.
  • Underlighting: The laborious (but visually impressive) technique has been supplanted in live-action films by the rise of CGI, and the difficulties involved with replicating it in digital 2D animation has resulted in the distinctive look of it falling by the wayside since the late 90s and early 2000s.
  • Video Inside, Film Outside: The rise of professional camcorders and computerized editing software in the 1980s made it much cheaper to shoot everything on video regardless of whether it was in the studio or on location, and the later rise of professional-quality digital video cameras in the 2000s made any practical benefits of shooting on film redundant aside from making it easy to select the desired framerate. Nowadays, this trope only appears for stylistic purposes as an Invoked Trope.
  • Wacky Waterbed: Waterbeds are heavy and prone to leakage and have been largely replaced with foam mattresses as a result.
  • The Wicked Stage: It can be hard to imagine in the modern world that there would be a stigma against stage performers when it is now seen as a very prestigious job. The modern equivalent is Horrible Hollywood, since movies are still often seen as a more "lowbrow" form of entertainment.
  • You Can't Get Ye Flask: With the decline of text-based adventures and technical limitations not being a limitation to parsing, the difficulties of issuing commands via text is very much a thing of the past. Parodies themselves have also died down.

Forgotten Tropes without pages:

    Older Than Feudalism 
  • "All new jokes!": In Ancient Greece, while having just invented theater, it didn't take long to get to where the average audience member recognized Comedy Tropes as Tropes. How comedic writers dealt with this became a trope in and of itself. As the Fourth Wall was pretty flimsy, a character would address the audience, say that Tropes Are Not Good, and say how this play was special because of all the Undead Horse Tropes it wasn't using, which was always a lie. The lie was either indirect (listing various hackneyed old tropes it wasn't using while conveniently failing to mention the ones it was) or absolutely bald-faced. Of course, since writing plays was much more competitive, this must have seemed like sports players boasting. But it also implies a truly odd appreciation for tropes and how they get used. Wow! Just think of it: Postmodernism is actually Older Than Feudalism!

  • Law of unities: Neoclassical readers often cited rules created by Aristotle, termed the Laws of Unities, which held that a play should be set in one location, concern one action (have a singular plot thread with no subplots), and take place in one 24-hour period. These laws were taken seriously for much longer than playwrights honoured them; Samuel Johnson was forced to defend Shakespeare 150 years after the Bard's death over his disregard of the unities. Another nail in the coffin of this trope was writers realizing that these laws were not so much laws as an attempt at a generalized description of the plays Aristotle knew about (and Aristotle was citing it in contrast to epic poetry, which means these plays probably did so to keep the scope and budget down). It was only made law by neoclassicists who made Aristotle's work Serious Business. The decline of reliance on ancient classics and the rise of romanticism in France meant the end of this trope. Of course, very short, single-setting plays are still being written and performed; it's just that playwrights now do this because it suits the nature of an individual work, not out of some sense of tradition or obligation.
    • A lot of schoolchildren are taught that Shakespeare was revolutionary because he "broke off" with the Law of Unities. He didn't (theater of the day is often derived from the folk theater such as Nativity plays), and there's plenty of ancient Greek plays still surviving that did not keep the unities, for instance The Frogs.

  • The original Greek Muses: The nine Greek Muses represented art forms that are almost all discarded now (though the Muses live on, they've been reincarnated as patrons of different arts). Clio (Muse of History) and Terpsichore (Muse of Dance) are the only two Muses you can expect a reasonably large number of people to remember, and then only because their names live on in the somewhat obscure words "cliometrics" and "terpsichorean." Erato (Muse of Romantic Poetry) shows up from time to time as well, as the vowel structure in her name makes her a common crossword puzzle answer, and Calliope (Muse of Epic Poetry) made a memorable appearance in The Sandman (1989).

  • Humorism: An ancestor of the Four-Temperament Ensemble Trope, this is a debunked medical belief that dates back to Ancient Egypt, which basically states that a balance of four bodily fluids or humors — blood, mucous, black bile, and yellow bile — in the body are needed for good health. It further states that each fluid is related to one of the four elements of nature and emotions, temperaments, and characteristics are grouped into categories based on one humor. Modern medicine (which realizes the true functions of the humors) debunked this, and the belief rarely shows up nowadays. It does, however, still show up in the use of words such as choleric or sanguine, and knowledge of the basics of this theory is still useful in literary studies due to its copious use in older works.
    • The Green Ronin D20 book Guide to Fiends presents the Distender, a type of devil who can control emotions in mortals via use of the four humors. (A sidebar in the book briefly summarizes the now-debunked Trope, acknowledging why the theory is no longer recognized.)

  • Milesian Tales: As discussed on The Other Wiki, the term designates a genre of bawdy tales named after a collection of Greek stories set in Miletus (which had a reputation for decadence and high living), which was later translated into Latin. Where the forgotten part comes in is that while The Golden Ass and The Satyricon are believed to be inspired by the genre, and it's assumed that the tales/tropes used in such stories were similar to those found in later collections like The Decameron, there are no surviving examples of actual Milesian Tales.

  • The Anglo-Saxon riddle poem: A game in which a vague poetic description of an item was given and listeners were expected to recall a rote answer, is almost entirely dead today.
    • The only popularly-remembered example, "Humpty Dumpty," is no longer perceived as a riddle about an egg, just as a poem about an egg. This is in part due to Pop-Cultural Osmosis thanks to Humpty's inclusion in the Alice books. Through the Looking-Glass actually has a straight example in the White Queen's "fish" riddle, for which an answer poem in the same meter was published separately.
    • The English folksong "The Riddle" (the one that begins, "I gave my love a cherry") is another somewhat-known example, though it describes four different items.
    • Used almost directly by J. R. R. Tolkien in The Hobbit, specifically the riddle-contest between Bilbo and Gollum. Tolkien was aware of the trope because he was an expert on Anglo-Saxon literature, to the point of having done original translations from Anglo-Saxon into modern English.
    • While no longer considered high art as such, vestiges do still survive in riddles found in modern-day joke books and games on Internet fora (particularly if one of the participants is aware of the idea, either directly or through the influence of The Hobbit).

  • All Jews are Sephardic: In Medieval Europe and all the way through the Renaissance, the stereotypical Jewish person that would pop up in your average peasant's mind was one of Sephardic origin, since, for a while, Spain was the place with the highest Jewish population in the world. People like Maimonides and Baruch Spinoza were well-known among religious or academic circles and thanks to the expulsion of Jews from Spain, the Sephardic stereotype spread to places like England and the Netherlands. In the 19th century, with declining Sephardic populations, dispersion, and the rise of Jewish communities in Central and Eastern Europe (that changed the balance of power among them), this trope was replaced by All Jews Are Ashkenazi. However, as the Western world has become a lot more multicultural thanks to liberalized immigration laws, Hispanic and Middle Eastern Jews are once again beginning to make their presence known in large cities, which means that this trope may well be making a comeback.

  • The Red Jews: A legendary nation in German folklore that would one day invade the Christian world. It probably saw its major splendor with the Turk attacks that would lead to the fall of Constantinople, when it was popular to identify the Ottomans with the Red Jews stories (absurd, since the Ottomans were mostly Islamic). While unfortunately antisemitism still exists today, the idea of a Great Jewish nation (which nowadays would by default be Israel) invading the West is all but forgotten. Probably the modern equivalent would be other prejudiced tropes like "Jews Control the Media/Economy", but even in those cases, the way they use their power is passive, not violent. (Some modern anti-Semites do view the Khazars as a rough historical equivalent, but there is limited evidence, if any, supporting this viewpoint.)
    • This trope ended up spiritually coming back in a weird way in the early 20th century, especially in Nazi Germany, in the form of "Judeo-Bolshevism". It was commonly believed among Western antisemites that Russian Jews orchestrated Red October, and that the supposedly Jewish-run Soviet Union was planning to invade Europe. This had no real connection to the medieval "Red Jews" trope and the red colour symbolism is a coincidence, but it is eerily similar.

  • The Nine Worthies: Nine characters who personified the ideal values of a brave knight. They were three pagans (Alexander The Great, Hector, and Julius Caesar), three Jewish (Joshua, King David, and Judah Maccabee), and three Christians (King Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of Bouillon), thus uniting the three Western religions (polytheism, Judaism and Christianity) with which most Christians at the time were familiar. It was a very popular motif in art and writing, and there was a sort of spin-off (to call it in modern terms) with nine lady worthies (where different artists and writers have different lists). All of those figures are still very well-known, but most people are not familiar with the idea of all of them united in a single concept, or with most of them being associated with knighthood.

  • Medieval fantasy creatures: A lot of medieval creatures are still famous, but the way they're represented and the motifs and traits they're associated with have evolved with time: most modern representations of the unicorn are related to its class, elegance and/or "royalness" and they're seen as delicate animals, but in the first representations they were, if anything, just the opposite: wild, untameable and fiery (for an example, look at the heraldic imagery of the United Kingdom, where it is the unicorn which is chained, not the lion, because the former is considered much more dangerous). Other derived tropes (like the idea that they could only be captured by virgins) are even more forgotten. Vampires and werewolves are seen nowadays as two different species but in the original stories, they were seen as two variations of the same kind of creature. Also, the "bloodsucking vampire" stereotype is Newer Than They Think, at least in western Europe. Medieval English tales about "vampires" often described creatures that we would recognize more as zombies today -- and very tame zombies, at that. They didn't suck blood, and they usually didn't even hurt anyone; they were just undead people who liked to cause mischief, coming off more as grotesque fairies. The bloodsucker-type comes from Eastern Europe and was not well-known in the West until the 19th century.

  • Prester John: A Christian King from a far-away eastern land who somehow kept the faith of his country and would appear to save the West from Islamic/Heathen invaders. It was very common to reference him in stories, folktales, and maps. There were different theories about the localization of the Prester John Kingdom, including China, India, or Ethiopia, but with the advancement of the age of exploration, more of the world was discovered and the idea of this hypothetical nation faded from most people's minds. It is still remembered by scholars and it still comes out in some modern works of fiction here and there, but even those works are relatively obscure. Stories about mythical countries or lands still exist today (some of them, like Atlantis, are even older), but Prester John as well as the notion of a hidden or forgotten country similar to the West or Christendom in the middle of "barbarian" or "uncivilized" peoples have not only vanished from most mainstream fiction but would be a point of controversy due to Values Dissonance.
    • The 1872 book Erewhon would have been recognised by contemporary audiences as a parody of this trope — the narrator stumbles on a faraway kingdom (implied to be in Australasia) that perfectly resembles Western society, fantasising that it is a lost tribe of Israel or the kingdom of Prester John. However, Erewhon has a non-Abrahamic religion based around praying to be spared from disease, causing the inhabitants to view moral failure as a misfortune and illness as a personal failing.
    • A modern reference in Reginald Bretnor's 1974 Papa Schimmelhorn tale "Count Von Schimmelhorn and the Time-Pony".
    • In Umberto Eco's novel Baudolino (set in the Middle Ages) the main characters go on a quest to find the kingdom.
    • The legend is referenced in an achievement in the game Europa Universalis IV, which is based around reclaiming several holy sites as Ethiopia.
    • A related trope, made popular by stories of Prester John and Sir John Mandeville, was the semi-human monster that inhabited faraway lands, typically India or Africa. This creature was frequently cannibalistic and had very different sexual or cultural norms from Christian civilization in Europe. Although foreigners continued to be depicted very negatively in the West for centuries, the exploration of the entire world and Scientific Revolution pretty much killed the idea of human-like monsters that inhabited unexplored lands.

  • Termagant: The name of an imaginary god worshipped by Muslims, according to different tales of the Christian West. The Western Christians' stories often referred to Muslims as "pagans", and assumed that they worshipped Muhammad as a god, amongst other gods including Termagant. Some stories, like The Song of Roland, claimed that the Muslims worshipped an 'unholy trinity' of Muhammad, Apollyon, and Termagant. As time passed, clashes between the West and the Muslim world continued, but the idea of 'Termagant' as an evil trickster deity was forgotten. The term is still used nowadays to describe a violent woman, but even in that context, it's dark and obscure, even more than the original meaning of the word.
    • This often went hand-in-hand with a semi-trope that emerged from cultural misunderstanding; Muslims are Pagans. In the ancient Church the three categories of religions were Christians, Jews, and Pagans, and this line of thinking continued into the middle ages (hence why the Nine Worthies listed above are split into those three groups). It was often just assumed that Muslims were simply another group of Pagans (since they weren't Christians or Jews); hence why Crusades-era songs referred to Muslims as "heathen". This idea died down when Christian Europe made more diplomatic contact with Muslims.

  • The land of Cockaigne: A legendary land of plenty and abundance that was very popular at the time, being a figure of speech used in poems, paintings, and other forms of art, and used as a trope about mythical lands almost as much as in modern fiction we use Atlantis. Sexual liberty, wine, food available without hard labor. The catch? The only way to reach it is going through a river of feces so long, it would take five years to cross it. Has nothing to do with cocaine.
    • "The Joy of Cooking" tags favorite recipes as "Cockaigne" — but has to explain the meaning to modern readers.
    • A modern reference to it is in Soul Calibur V as the name of Dampierre's Critical Edge, "Cockaigne, the Land of Plenty"; a powerful counterattack that involves sliding between the opponent's legs and launching them into the air with a Kancho.
    • The land of Cockaigne is briefly referenced in Shakespeare's Scribe, though as to be expected with such an old reference, Widge has to explain to the reader what it is.
    • The Drunken Song in Carmina burana refers to it in Latin: "Ego sum abbas Cucaniensis" = "I am the abbot of Cockaigne."

  • Morality Play: A type of short play common in Europe from the 14th century and mostly out of fashion by the 17th century, though revived for a brief period in the early 20th century. These plays feature a generic or relatable protagonist representing humanity, and allegorical or anthropomorphized versions of various concepts, such as sins, virtues and vices who atttempt to influence the protagonist towards good or evil. They feature a clear moral regarding the actions in question, urging their audiences to commit to virtuous ways rather than be tempted by sin.
    At one time in Western Europe, morality tales were the only form of theatre permitted. They were also useful for imparting Bible teachings to a largely illiterate population.

    • Ordo Virtutum, by St. Hildegard, features a female voice called only "The Soul" being alternately tempted by the Virtues and the Devil. The Soul wants to get to heaven right away but is impatient when the Virtues tell her she must live her life first.
    • The Summoning Of Everyman, a late-1400s Christian morality play. Its plot revolves around the titular Everyman, who is nearing death and summons personifications of human traits and virtues to plead his case to God. While attempting to atone for his sins, he slowly learns that all of his material goods and personality traits meant nothing: only his kind deeds allow him to pass into Heaven.
    • The Castle Of Perseverance, dating from at least 1440, chronicles the entire life of its hero, literally named "Mankind". True to form, Mankind is tempted by various personified vices and the Devil, but also called out to by personified virtues. In the end, Mankind is judged by God and the actors call out to the audience to tell them not to sin.
    • The play Wisdom, also called Mind, Will, and Understanding, is about Lucifer and Christ (also referred to as "Wisdom" in the script) contesting each other for influence over mankind. In this version, humanity is represented by nine different characters, each representing some aspect of the human body, mind or soul.

    Older Than Steam 
  • Ruler-flattering prologue: The grand operas of the ancien régime period had pompous prologues in which the ruler sponsoring the production was compared to the hero of the story.

  • Apologetic prologue: Back when theatrical companies were usually managed by actors, it was common at the beginnings of plays for one of the company to deliver a prologue in verse apologizing to the audience for the entertainment they were about to present. This was sometimes paired with an epilogue in the same style and mood.

  • Exit after aria: The deeply, deeply annoying exit convention, which required the performer to exit the scene after finishing an aria, caused all sorts of logistical problems, and after the Baroque period was seldom used.

  • Obesity as a sign of great wealth: Not completely forgotten, but largely unknown to people in modern-day developed countries. The overarching theme is the same — the rich are defined by their enjoyment of what the poor cannot have. In the old days, that was food security; obesity was something only the wealthy could achieve because only they could afford that much food. (And since the king was the richest, that's why you had Adipose Rex.) Nowadays, food security is common even among the working classes in much of the world — but now, what the working classes can afford is processed, fattening junk food, whereas the wealthy can afford healthier food (and also extensive fitness regimens). In a few poorer parts of the world, this trope is still very much alive, and a few tropes even survive as references to an era when this trope was in effect, like the Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit.

  • Excessive mourning wakes the dead: The belief that excessive mourning disturbs the dead's rest was a fairly common superstition in Europe from the Middle Ages to about the eighteenth century. That's why English has the term 'wake' in the first place.
    • “The Unquiet Grave” is an English ballad sung from the perspective of a person note  who mourns their dead lover for A Year and a Day. The lover then comes back as a ghost to haunt them and begs the singer to stop mourning so they can have peace in the afterlife.
    • The Shroud is one of the fairy tales collected by The Brothers Grimm. The story is about a woman who weeps over her dead son day and night. One night, the boy's ghost asks her to stop mourning so he can rest in death.

  • Anti-Masonic Sentiment: Anti-Masonic sentiment was common in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The Freemasons were often suspected of being a cult and were accused of various profane rituals. There was even an Anti-Masonic Party at one point, an American political party founded to oppose the Masons. The moral panic eventually fizzled out, and while they do still get picked on by some types of crackpot conspiracy theorists, today the Freemasons are mostly seen as odd but harmless. Pop-Cultural Osmosis has allowed this to remain not entirely forgotten thanks to The Simpsons making constant references to secret societies in general (The Stonecutters —an amalgamation of these tropes— being the best-known), but other than that it's pretty much an obsolete trope. Spain under Francisco Franco was one of the last holdouts, using it as The Moral Substitute for antisemitism (Spain's Jews had largely been forced out in 1492 and Franco deemed it a bit silly to have antisemitism without Jews - his regime was even willing to look the other way when Jews used Spain to escape to some other, third country) but after the war when the Franco regime transformed from openly fascist to a weird mix of vaguely hyper-traditionalist Catholic and technocratic neoliberalism the Anti-Masonic rhetoric was dialled down in order to not offend Western Democracies.

    19th Century 
  • Many racist tropes from after the end of slavery: There were unfortunately many stereotypes associated with black people in the US after they didn’t have to be slaves anymore. Black people were said to love watermelon and be really afraid of ghosts, just to name a few. These jokes carried on longer than just the 19th century (see Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs, from 1943) but luckily most are forgotten nowadays.
  • Fashion satire prints: While exaggerations are pretty much the cream of the crop in satire, there was a time when mocking the fashion trends of the era were commonplace in every editorial from the late 18th century up until the early 20th century. It was easy for the cartoonist to sideline political issues with the excesses of popular culture of the era, and fashion was no exception. It was a time when cartoonists lavishly ridiculed the gigantic wigs and frou-frou styles of the late 18th century, the contrastingly plain yet slutty sheer muslin gowns of the Regency era, the gigantic hoopskirts and bustles and frills of the Victorian era, and the overly wide hats and very narrow skirts of the 1910s. And all of the prints showed shorter hemlines for comedic effect. It wasn't until the 1920s and the 1930s put a halt to these prints due to the influences of film and fashion photography putting in a realistic look of the fashions, and due to the simplicity, the lack of supportive undergarments, and actual shorter hemlines removing the need for ridicule and exaggerations on editorial prints.

  • Massive formal opera chorus: One convention found in many grand operas of the mid-19th century was the massive formal setpiece chorus, usually accompanying the entrance of some royal court and thick with fanfares. Since these numbers usually provided the ensemble staging climax of the evening, including Costume Porn, banners and other spectacular elements, they were usually positioned in the middle of the middle act (i.e. the second act, or the third if more acts were to come). Sometimes a sprightly dance generally involving Chorus Girls was inserted in the middle for no more compelling dramaturgical reason than lightening the mood.
    • The Triumphal March ("Gloria all'Egitto, ad Iside" note ) from Aida (Verdi). Its traditional staging includes elephants and fanfares played onstage by long Egyptian trumpets.
    • Tannhäuser has the chorus "Freudig begrüßen wir die edle Halle" in the middle of the second act, as the crowd for the singing contest ceremonially assembles and salutes the Landgrave.
    • The Mastersingers Of Nuremberg has a comedic version this at the beginning of the final scene, though, typical of Wagner's later music-dramas, it eschews the traditional structure. The initial processional music and fanfares lead directly into a succession of comic verses sung by Nuremberg's shoemakers, tailors and bakers. The meter then changes as a boatload of girls from Fürth arrive, and David and the apprentices dance a waltz clog with them. The processional music resumes as the Mastersingers approach and take their stands, and as Sachs rises, the entire cast sings a chorale (usually performed A Cappella) with words written by the historical Hans Sachs.
    • "Loudly let the trumpet bray" from Iolanthe is Gilbert and Sullivan's Affectionate Parody of this type of operatic number, combining a relatively modest staging (though Gilbert and D'Oyly Carte didn't skimp on the Peers' costuming) with lyrics of excessive pomposity:
      Bow, ye lower middle classes!
      Bow, ye tradesmen! Bow, ye masses!
      Blow the trumpets, bang the brasses!
    • Turandot illustrates this trope's decline: the Emperor's entrance in the middle of the second act gets a huge build-up with massive clouds of incense spilling out over the stage, but the chorus gets nothing more to actually sing than a short anthem at the end.

  • Secret Scottish weddings: In British literature up through the mid-19th century, a frequent plot device involved a secret marriage happening in Gretna Green or other Scottish border towns. This was because an English law dating to 1754 allowed the parents of people under 21 to stop them from marrying; Scottish law had no similar provision, and, further, allowed almost anyone to perform a marriage as long as two witnesses were present. Moreover, the wedding announcement could be held back from English newspapers. Gretna Green is still a popular venue for destination weddings and turns up in that capacity in modern works, but its use in novels like The Woman in White to reveal a secret wedding in a character's past is now mostly forgotten even in period pieces. One of the more famous people in real life to get married in Gretna Green, Joschka Fischer,note  did it for similar reasons as outlined above, but unfortunately the "keep it out of the papers" thing didn't happen and when he got back his new in-laws had already learned of the match and were pissed.

  • Columbia: Columbia was a poetic 19th-century name for the United States of America (it is the "C" in "Washington D.C."). Columbia herself was represented as a young woman (or goddess) and was a popular national personification into the early 20th century. Since then she has been displaced by another American personification — "Uncle Sam". "Columbia" was also used as a synonym for the continent(s) of America, hence the names of the South American nation of Colombia and the Canadian Province of British Columbia (and the latter is even on the opposite coast from the one where Christopher Columbus operated).
    • The patriotic song "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean" had a similar period of popularity.
    • Many older American memorials and monuments still depict Columbia.
      • The most notable and newest of these are the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, dedicated in 1949 in Hawaii.
      • The statue atop the US Capitol dome, while not officially of Columbia, shares many of her characteristics.
    • CBS used to stand for the Columbia Broadcasting System. Even they have abandoned this trope note .
    • In Alex Ross's graphic novel Uncle Sam, there's a sequence where Sam meets up with Columbia to discuss the good old days.
    • About the only place you will see poor old Columbia these days is at the opening of a "Columbia Pictures" flick: she is the woman holding the torch. note 
    • Also, "Columbia" has popped up again in BioShock Infinite, interestingly.
    • Columbia, Marianne, John Bull, Britannia, and Uncle Sam are all gods in the World War II setting in Scion.
    • Uncle Sam himself replaced the almost entirely forgotten Brother Jonathan as national personification of the USA. (Jonathan was the brother of Britain's national personification John Bull, the satirical joke was that they did not get on although they looked almost identical). Brother Jonathan is referred to in the Flashman novel Flashman and the Mountain of Light.
    • The U.S. Vice President's fanfare "Hail Columbia", which used to be an unofficial national anthem, is a rare example of this trope in use today.

  • Irish national personifications: All of the traditional personifications of Ireland (Róisín Dubh, Kathleen Ni Houlihan, the Shan Van Voght, the Maid of Erin) are forgotten, mainly because they're seen as incredibly dated.

  • Big boy pants: It used to be a rite of passage for a child to be old enough to start wearing long pants and skirts. Younger children — both boys and girls — wore short pants with a dress or skirt over them, so that the material would not be worn out during playtime and to accomodate for quick diaper changes for smaller children and fast growth spurts (as shorts look decent on long legs where pants look "highwater" if too short). Once a child was old enough or mature enough, they were trusted to wear long pants. By the 1940s, young children frequently began wearing long pants more often, and the concept of shorts only started to fade around the late 1960s. The expression "big boy pants" is still around, but now it's frequently a metaphor about growing up. However, Boyish Shorts are still used as a visual representation of youth or immaturity on young boys, including in real life.
    • The variant about young girls wearing short skirts makes a significant appearance in Fingersmith.
    • This trope is far from being forgotten in manga and is used mostly for school uniforms like in Shinkuu Yuusetsu.
    • The title character of Auntie Mame is shown as free-spirited because she gives her nephew long pants to wear in his childhood.
    • In the 1960s, psychedelia's association with childish thought and a new fascination with youth led to adult women dressing in clothes similar to what children wore, leading to the invention of the miniskirt. Nowadays, the miniskirt is associated with its sexual subtext, rather than the childishness that was more important to Mary Quant at the time.
    • In Boardwalk Empire, (which is mostly set in the 1920s) at one point Lucky Luciano (who is still young and hasn't truly established himself yet) gets called "short pants" by a particularly unhinged and rage-filled older gangster when the two start trading insults and attempt to intimidate each other.

  • French opera ballet: The mandatory ballet in French grand opera is a trope long forgotten.
    • Composer Jules Massenet, presumably after one too many times being forced to shoehorn a ballet in, not only lampshades it in Manon by having the ballet girls of the Paris Opera brought to a party, but justifies it, as he manages to tie it into several different plots — it's an expensive attempt by Manon's rich Stalker with a Crush to win her from the man she's playing courtesan to, but just beforehand, Manon learns that des Grieux, her true love whom she threw over in favour of riches, is about to become an abbot, and this leads to her ignoring the performance as the first sign of her redemption. Unfortunately, said Stalker with a Crush begins conspiring against her after that.
    • When Wagner's Tannhäuser was being premiered in Paris, he was told that they'd have to insert a ballet; he could either write one, or they'd pay someone's brother-in-law to arrange some of the thematic material from the opera into it. He said he'd write one, and that the place where it would make the most sense plot-wise would be in the very first scene. The management told him it would have to be in "the middle of the middle" because that was when they seated latecomers. Said latecomers were aristocratic patrons of the Paris Opera, who liked to dine at their clubs and thus couldn't be bothered to be there when the opera started, but still wanted to see the ballet, as they were romantically interested in the dancers themselves. Tannhäuser still premiered with its ballet at the beginning, but the uproar it caused led to interruptions, and the production was withdrawn after three performances.
    • Carmen was originally produced at the Opéra-Comique, which permitted spoken dialogue. It was soon adapted into a French grand opera, with the dialogue replaced by recitatives by Ernest Guiraud, and a ballet added to the fourth act. Many productions include the recitatives but omit the ballet.
    • Die Fledermaus, though a Viennese light opera, has a ballet in the middle of its second act that seems to be usually cut, even though it's one character's excuse for being there.
    • This is referenced in Amadeus, where the king has banned ballet sequences in operas because he considers them to be too overused.

  • Victorian children memorizing poems: In Victorian schools, rote memorization was thought to be good for the mind as well as instilling discipline. Aficionados of Victorian novels and autobiographies will be familiar with children having to "get" a number of "lines", usually of Bible verses, poetry, or a Shakespeare play. Along with adult works, poems were written especially for this purpose, exemplifying virtues for children to emulate. This practice trickled down into family life, and children were expected to appear at adult parties to "say their piece", sing, play an instrument, or dance. The mania surrounding Shirley Temple kept this going through the 1930s and '40s and merged with Beautiful Baby contests (which have a variety of origins) to become Child Beauty Contests.
    • Lewis Carroll parodies this in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by having Alice actually base part of her identity on her ability to recite, only to have it turn into Word Salad. Children who'd been forced to recite that damn "How doth the little busy bee" poem would have loved Carroll's mangling.
    • One chapter of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer involves Tom and his Sunday-school classmates being awarded tickets for successfully memorizing Bible verses, to redeem for prizes. Tom, naturally, gets the idea of trading with his more studious classmates for their tickets, and Hilarity Ensues.
    • Some early Peanuts strips had one or more characters struggling to memorize a poem for school.
    • In Gypsy, one of the favors Rose offers in the song "Mr. Goldstone" is to "have June recite a poem." Of course, she is a Stage Mom.
    • In Swallows and Amazons, Nancy and Peggy's tyrannical great-aunt decides to punish them by having them learn a poem and recite it from memory. The girls' uncle comes to their rescue by suggesting Casabianca, which he knows they already know.
    • In Germany, memorizing and reciting a few poems during one's school life (even in high school) was still normal in the 1990s (and probably still is to this day). Also, it was quite common until at least the 1980s to make prepubescent children recite a festive song or short poem for their family on Christmas Eve (or for "Santa Claus" during the school Christmas party), before they may open their presents.
    • The Anti War Movie Joyeux Noël, set at the beginning of World War One, starts with a scene showing German, French, and British schoolchildren reciting propagandistic poetry in front of their respective classes, to give the viewer a sense of how nationalist and militarist all the European powers were at the time and how all their societies used to brainwash boys into becoming "good soldiers".
    • In The Water-Babies, Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid punishes Sadist Teachers by ordering them to memorise 300,000 lines of Hebrew.

  • Rags to Riches via clean living: In the late 19th century, the Rags to Riches trope usually involved a poor yet clever and virtuous boy who rises to affluence through hard work and clean living (and phenomenal luck, but they won't tell you that). This trope was arguably the basis of Social Darwinism, but it died sometime between 1930 and 1945 and no one can say why for certain. Presumably it had something to do with the immensity of the Wall Street Crash (for if people got rich by hard work and clean living, did that mean all those that lost wealth were lazy and uncouth, along with unlucky?), the influence of the World War II experience (with Hitler's Germany being a horrific case of many of the tenets of Social Darwinism put into action), the New Deal (which made people question the idea of individuals being purely responsible for their success) and the nascent civil rights movement (springing from demographics of people who had been denied success for the color of their skin, not for the content of their character, even though Booker T. Washington embraced the theme to some degree).
    • The British equivalent is Dinah Craik's John Halifax Gentleman and Samuel Smiles' Self Help.
    • Horatio Alger, Jr.'s corpus of work under this theme was practically a genre unto itself. Most often, the hard-working child has been observed by a wealthy adult who then mentors or adopts him.
    • A Little Princess is actually a version of this. She gets her wealth back because she was a good girl -and not, say, because the guardian her father appointed finally looked at the boarding house right next door.
    • Barbara Ehrenreich's book Bright-Sided examines in detail the history, origins, and political aspects of this and the related "positive thinking" belief system.
    • Charles Dickens' work ranges from unintentional trope overdose (Oliver Twist) to low-end Subversion (Great Expectations) to high-end Subversion (Hard Times). The last-named features a supporting character (Josiah Bounderby) who claims that his mother abandoned him soon after his birth and that he was completely independent by the age of three. It is later revealed that his parents adored him, and scrimped and sacrificed so that he might receive a good education and a promising apprenticeship. He then rose rapidly through the ranks of society and deserted his doting parents in their old age.
  • The young readers' novel Montmorency could be considered a parody, as it features a dirt-poor youth who ascends to the aristocracy through hard work... by robbing Londoners and faking his way into high society.

  • Christmas ghost stories: Actually very common in the Victorian era. Today the only one widely remembered is A Christmas Carol and thus most people don't realize there were many others of its ilk, but telling ghost stories around Christmas was a common tradition. (M.R. James wrote stories for this purpose, which have aged rather well apart from the more obscure Biblical and literary allusions.) A reference to it remains in the song "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" which seems fairly weird to modern listeners (to the point where it is often replaced with a phrase like "long funny stories"). It also occurs in the framing prologue of The Turn of the Screw.
    • While this trope is completely unfamiliar in America, it's a bit better known in Britain; in the seventies, the BBC often broadcast M.R. James adaptations at Christmastime, and new ones have been sporadically made since 2005 (the most recent one aired in 2022).
    • A vestige of the trope lives on in Canada, where a radio broadcast of the ghost story The Shepherd remains a Christmas tradition.
    • May or may not be related: bizarre and morbid Victorian Christmas cards featuring surreal pictures of dead robins and mice, frogs swordfighting, and stranger things.
  • Travelers' tales: A genre of nonfiction (usually) adventure stories of far-off lands.
  • Dundrearyisms: Nowadays, people only remember the play Our American Cousin because it was the one Abraham Lincoln watched the night of his assassination. But back in the day, the play was actually pretty popular, especially Lord Dundreary, an eccentric character that became the Ensemble Dark Horse. He was so popular that the strange, twisted aphorisms he used became a brief vogue known as "Dundrearyisms" (e.g. "birds of a feather gather no moss"). It almost goes without saying that after the presentation at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865, everything about this play was soon forgotten, including this interesting example of what today we would call Memetic Mutation.

    The play's plot overview (a rugged American is positively contrasted with continental Upper-Class Twits) also counts as a forgotten trope — European writers would applaud American egalitarianism and free-spiritedness (the title character is the hero of the story, and his Love Interest romanticizes life in New England in a monologue). This trope was killed around the time American writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald described American class prejudices in the 1920s.

  • Going Calling: Prior to the invention and proliferation of the telephone, if you wanted to talk to your friends in real time (as opposed to sending a letter), you had to actually visit them and talk to them face-to-face. Women (and it was almost always women) had a system where they would show up unannounced at each other's homes in order to speak to their friend/sibling/etc. (Often, though not always, the lady of the house.) And they would meet in the parlor and chat, sometimes for hours, sometimes just for a few minutes. If she wasn't home, then the "caller" (that is, the one who attempted to visit) would leave a unique "calling card", which was sort of like a modern-day business card, except for personal (rather than business) use, with her name on it. It was expected that whoever she tried to "call on" would go to her home and call on her ASAP. (Not doing so was considered extremely rude, which was Serious Business; there was at least one case where a woman noticed a house on fire, and considered alerting the homeowner... but then remembered that the lady of the house had not reciprocated a call, so she just continued on her way!) As more and more homes became equipped with telephones, it was no longer necessary to go to people's homes just to chat, and so the custom died out.
    • Sense and Sensibility:
      • After Mrs Jennings comes to her home in London, she spends most of her mornings visiting her friends acquaintances, and Elinor and Marianne Dashwood accompany her. Mr Willoughby tries to avoid them because everyone assumes he's engaged or about to be engaged to Marianne, but he has found a wealthier bride. He only leaves a card.
      • Lady Middleton is interested in being acquainted with Miss Smith, future Mrs Willoughby, and is determined to leave her card with her as soon as she marries. Her husband doesn't approve because it's a slight against Marianne who is his distant cousin and neighbour.
      • Lucy Steele has seldom been happier than she was on receiving Fanny Dashwood's card. She's a sister of her secret fiance and she loves that she can pursue her acquaintance.
      • Edward comes to Mrs Jennings' house to leave his farewell card when he leaves London.
    • Persuasion:
      • Sir Walter and his daughter Elizabeth boast that their acquaintance is "exceedingly sought after" in Bath and that everybody wants to visit them all the time. They are perpetually having cards left by people, even if they don't know them.
      • Mr Elliot pointedly leaves his card in Camden Place by Sir Walter and Elizabeth when he wants to renew their acquaintance.
      • The Elliots receive the calling cards of Dowager Viscountess Dalrymple and the Honourable Miss Carteret. The narrator snidely points out they arrange them wherever they are most visible to other guests to make sure everyone knows they are on calling terms with high nobility.
      • Sir Walter plans to visit Lady Russell, their family friend, but he only intends to "make a civil message" and "only leave his card".
      • Elizabeth "gracefully" distributes the cards "Miss Elliot at home" as invitations to her evening party.
      • In the cancelled chapter, Anne is manoeuvred into visiting Mrs Croft, but then she's afraid Frederick might be there as well. She tries to get out of there and asks Admiral Croft to allow her to leave her card and explain it afterwards.
    • This system was so entrenched that when J. R. R. Tolkien began teaching at Oxford, his wife Edith was so bewildered and overwhelmed by the imposing personages of the other university wives and their lavish homes that she felt she could not return their calls. She was then excluded from their parties and "at homes", which may have cost Tolkien himself somewhat in political capital.
    • The Little House on the Prairie series has a whole chapter about calling cards in one later book in the series. They're shown to be a trendy must-have for young adults who get them custom-made at a shop in town and exchange them with each other.

    Turn of the Century 
  • The "10-20-30" melodrama: a long-extinct genre of theatrical productions which originated many of the stereotypical characters and over-the-top practical effects now more typically associated with early silent films like The Perils of Pauline. The "10-20-30" name was derived from the cheap ticket prices charged for these productions — 10 cents, 20 cents, 30 cents. Interestingly, the name itself became obsolete during the very heyday of these melodramas ("15-25-35" would have been more accurate.) Titles such as The Still Alarm and Bertha, the Sewing-Machine Girl would remain beloved punchlines of New York theatrical critics into the middle of twentieth century, long after their popularity had faded into obscurity.

  • Romantic operetta waltz song: A major trope in early 20th-century operettas was having a big romantic song in slow waltz time with enormous vocal range and mushy lyrics, rendered with lots of rubato. Well-known examples included "Deep In My Heart, Dear" from The Student Prince (which plugged it at least once in each of its four acts) and the title songs of The Desert Song and Sweethearts. These fell out of favor sometime between 1925 and 1930 due to advances in vocal amplification and electric recording that helped make low-voiced "crooners" the new stars of popular music.
    • This was already obsolete by the mid-20th century when Anna Russell parodied it as "Ah, Lover!"
    • Lampshaded with "Wunderbar!" in Kiss Me, Kate.

  • The extravaganza: The American equivalent of English pantomime, the extravaganza was a family-friendly type of musical using many of the typical pantomime characters and settings (though the "dame" played by a man in drag seems not to have fully caught on). The genre survived until the Great Depression.
    • In the first decade of the twentieth century, stage adaptations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (which had L. Frank Baum's involvement) and Little Nemo followed the extravaganza format.
    • The only survivor of the genre is Babes in Toyland.
    • The word "extravaganza" is still around but today means any kind of spectacle. Its connection to drag performance does live on in the name of perhaps the most famous drag collectives, the House of Xtravaganza in New York City.

  • Invasion literature: A popular British sub-genre of Science Fiction (not named as such at that point) in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. This genre focused on the invasion of Britain 20 Minutes into the Future (or earlier) by a foreign power. This foreign power was most often either France or Germany, depending on which seemed Britain's most likely enemy at the time. Its mainstream incarnation vanished during World War I, presumably because they had actual wars with Germany. There are occasional not-explicitly-science fiction examples of the genre afterwards, such as Red Dawn (1984), but the proliferation of nuclear weapons has more or less made direct armed invasions of first-world countries obsolete, so such stories have to a lot of explaining to do.
    • The Battle Of Dorking (1871) by George Tomkyns Chesney, the Trope Codifier, though not the Ur-Example. This was written in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian war, which had shocked Europe with the speed with which Europe's second-largest army was defeated by a numerically smaller but technically more sophisticated foe. This theme ran through the genre.
    • Believe it or not, but Bram Stoker's novel Dracula is sometimes classified as Invasion literature and you can certainly take the vaguely Eastern-European aristocrat from Ruritania as a stand-in for Austria-Hungary, then an ally of Germany.
    • Both The Riddle Of The Sands (1903) by Erskine Childers and The War of the Worlds (1898) by H. G. Wells ended up having an effect on fiction long after the extinction of the original trope serving as the progenitors of modern espionage thrillers and the Alien Invasion, respectively. The Invasion Fiction lives, but the invader has changed.
    • A late example is Nevil Shute's What Happened To The Corbetts (1938), which depicts the bombing of English towns by an unidentified foreign power (implied to be the "Rome-Berlin axis"). By that time, of course, most people had a pretty good idea that something bad was going to happen, even if they didn't know quite how bad it would be.
    • There were a few American examples of the genre, usually involving the Yellow Peril; the revival of that associated trope during World War II included a novel by Whitman Chambers titled Invasion!.
    • The "threat to Britain from France or Germany" idea did make it into at least one post-Cold War techno-thriller, Larry Bond's Cauldron. The scenario involves the dissolution of NATO and a war pitting an aggressive France, allied with Germany and much of continental Western Europe, against the US, UK, and most of the former Warsaw Pact, excluding Russia. (However, the notion of England actually being invaded is never brought up.)
    • A modern example of Invasion Literature most Australians will know of is Tomorrow: When the War Began, wherein Australia is invaded by an unnamed country.
    • The genre was being parodied as early as 1909, when P. G. Wodehouse wrote his early novel The Swoop, in which England is invaded by the armies of nine different countries at once, only to be driven out by the Boy Scouts. (Oddly enough, in Saki's When William Came, written four years later, the "Boy-Scouts-as-saviours" idea is repeated, entirely seriously. The Scouts don't actually fight off the Germanic hordes, thankfully. Instead, they inspire the population to resistance by boycotting the Kaiser's parade.)
    • One of the later examples is the comic book series Invasion!, which ran from 1977-9 in 2000 AD. The creators had to change the Russians to "Volgans" and remove representations of Margaret Thatcher and other real-life people.

  • The "young ladies' school": In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, young women between 14 and 16 approximately attended "finishing schools" (often run by nuns—in the case of convent-like establishments, or strong-willed spinsters—in the case of Swiss-style schools) to be trained in the arts of music and dance, style, etiquette, party-hosting, and homemaking, with the goal of training them to be good wives and mothers in the near future, in an attempt to educate middle-class girls like wealthy families did with home-schooling (as well as possibly getting them married into wealth). This trope fell out of favor around the late 1910s as attitudes towards education, marriage, women's rights, and the role of women in society changed, mostly because of The Great War (although these continued to exist until the early 1960s at most — and as late as the 1980s, even the early 1990s, girls would have to take classes about homemaking in school, particularly "home economics"). The trope is still alive in East Asia, however, where traditional gender roles are more firmly entrenched, and Swiss-style schools are seeing an explosion of popularity.
    • Used in Psycho-Pass, though ruthlessly lampshaded. It's explained that the idea of a "lady" is completely irrelevant to the modern world, but as long as rich old men want a wife like that, there's a market for schools that produce them.
    • Basil Fawlty excuses his wife Sybil's giggling by claiming "I'm afraid her local finishing school was bombed."
    • In Paint Your Wagon, Ben sends Jennifer east to be educated at one of these. Her song "All For Him," listing what she learned there, has been cut from some revivals.
    • In a modern example, Cold Clay, the second book of the Shady Hollow series, has an etiquette school move into the series' eponymous vaguely Gilded Age town. This just confuses locals because the town is mostly quiet and polite enough, not to mention provincial, that the residents don't really need it. (For that matter, there are only two upper-class young women in town, neither of whom it could help.) Unsurprisingly, it turns out to be a scam run by a thieving, murderous Con Artist who isn't even terribly good at faking the politeness.

  • Stealing the help: There's a common Edwardian comedy trope where some aristocrat will have a particularly good cook and their friends will do everything they can to "steal" that servant (because great food is such a crucial part of performing the part of a host). The trope started to disappear as early as the 1920s when most families — or at least the middle-class ones — stopped wasting money on domestic servants because more advanced technologies made it easier and more respectable for housewives to do chores themselves. Also World War I had affected the hiring pool for servants, as the men would have likely been conscripted, and the women would have temporarily took over the mens' jobs or have worked for clerical jobs.
    • This happens in some Saki stories.
    • Happens in P. G. Wodehouse stories with the chef Anatole.
    • This gets a modern use in the Vorkosigan Saga novel Memory where his parents and other relatives are tempted to steal away his new cook, Ma Kosti, but that's probably because the series is often social comedy Recycled In Space.
    • Perhaps a modern variation is the competition by rich families for good nannies, as seen on Desperate Housewives.
    • This is played with and parodied to hilarious effect in To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.
    • Another modern version occurred in the 3rd Rock from the Sun episode "Citizen Solomon", with Dick and Mary fighting over a maid:
      Mary: Give me back my maid!
      Dick: I'm sorry, Mary, but Cathy is not some product to be bought or sold on the open market. She is a living, breathing human being with feelings, thoughts, and emotions — you don't own her. [beat] I do!
    • Used in Game of Thrones when Janos Slynt suggests he'll be hiring Tyrion's cook.
      Tyrion: Wars haven been started for less.
    • Shows up in Downton Abbey at several points. One of Mary's suitors attempts to convince Carson, the butler, to work for him as part of his portrayal as evil bastard, and O'Brien is Put on a Bus this way when her actress decided to leave the show.
    • A few Richie Rich stories involve wealthy matrons trying to entice the Riches' butler Cadbury to work for them, and when that fails, engaging in a tug of war with Mrs. Rich over him, or even kidnapping him.
    • The Nanny: After she learns that several people have tried to woo Niles away from Maxell in the "Curse of the Grandmas" episode, Fran gets upset when Maxell laughs at the idea that anyone would try to woo her away.

  • Female hysteria: Before modern psychiatry and medicine, hysteria was once a common diagnosis for a woman with any sort of illness. There are thousands of documented cases of women in real life diagnosed with hysteria (and often institutionalized or otherwise marginalized) who were later found to have had heart attacks, ovarian cancer, schizophrenia, depression, endocrine imbalances, or one of any number of physical or psychological diseases.note  The trope became discredited after women finally got fed up with being told that their problems were all either "in their heads" or made up for attention, and faded from fiction at about the same time.
    • Hysteria, and more broadly the consistent misdiagnosis and mistreatment of women during the 19th and early 20th centuries, is the theme of the classic early feminist short horror story The Yellow Wallpaper.
    • This trope naturally features heavily in Hysteria (2011), as well as the invention of the vibrator as the "cure" for hysteria.

  • Ethnic white groups: Ethnic white characters and stories, if they're not outright forgotten, are usually touched on only in historical contexts. This trope was popular among American audiences through the 19th and part of the 20th century, and it consists in the idea that some Caucasian ethnicities aren't truly "white", ergo, not truly American, and it aimed at almost every European ethnic group: Irish (the famous "Irish Need Not Apply" signs in stores and other business), Germans (especially those of Catholic origin, although the sentiment extended to Protestants in WWI), Italians, Polish, and many more. And very early on many considered that only those of English heritage were capable of holding a place in American society. Even those from Nordic countries were frowned upon, most prominently the Dutchnote  (many English-rooted voters suspected that President Van Buren was not actually American-bornnote ). Nowadays, the idea that some ethnic groups couldn't be classified as white seems almost alien to most modern audiences. Heck, even most White Supremacist groups have ditched the old Nordicism idea (a concept that held that the superior race/truly white people were only those of Nordic or Germanic roots) and try to integrate all ethnic white groups into their movement. Xenophobia still exists today, but mostly is aimed at non-white groups like Latinos, Asians, etcetera. Consider how funny it would be if someday Hispanics came to be considered "whites" (which, technically, some of them are) and were among the ones discriminating against a new wave of immigrants in the country. European ethnic identities persist (among Irish, Ashkenazi Jews, and Italians especially), but they don't serve to isolate or alienate such peoples anymore; now they're really just a way for ethnic whites to avoid being classed as the dreaded "Anglo-Saxon." And there are many groups traditionally regarded as "white" or "Western" who still do not qualify as truly white: Arabs, Armenians, and many other Middle Eastern peoples.

    The trope was starting to break down as early as the 1920s, when the Ku Klux Klan actually tried — unsuccessfully — to appeal to Irish Catholics (who sometimes shared the Klan's racism and anti-Semitism), insisting that they didn't hate all Catholics, just "greasy" Latin people and the like (their revulsion toward the Vatican motivated as much by its being Italian as by its being Catholic).

  • Edisonade: A primitive sub-genre of what we now call Adventure Science Fiction that grew from the popular fascination with science and engineering in the age of Victorian Britain and The Edwardian Era, where the genre enjoyed popularity in Dime Novels—the genre takes its name from famous inventor Thomas Edison, as the Robinsonade is named for Robinson Crusoe. The basic formula involves a young American Gadgeteer Genius using his ingenuity, inventions, or both to save the day, often rescuing his friends and home, getting rich, or otherwise carving out a name for himself along the way.

    Because of the cultural attitudes of their time, Edisonades often reflect contemporary interests and attitudes about colonization and explorationnote , sending the inventor on adventures to "untamed" lands, such as The Wild West or the setting of Jungle Opera—it was not uncommon for the young inventor's enemies to come from those untamed lands as well, though he could just as easily take on a Mad Scientist or Alien Invasion. A creature of its time, the Edisonade (and its innocent use of science and engineering as do-anything plot-magic) languished with the rise of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, where authors like Robert A. Heinlein were rapidly hardening the science up and turning the plucky lad of the Edisonade into Heinlein's Competent Man.

  • The "What, Me Worry?" Kid as Advertising: You probably recognize Alfred E. Neuman as the mascot of MAD Magazine. But they didn't invent it, they actually just use it. No one really knows how it started but was one early example of Memetic Mutation: it was used as an advertising tool, mostly by medical services/dentists (but popular enough in other areas like insurances or auto-parts), and it consisted in claiming the procedures the doctor used were painless, with the kid stating "What, me worry?", "It didn't hurt at all" or other similar phrases. This was usually a lie but a very well-liked one, and it was still used all the way to the early twentieth century. But once the satirical magazine appeared and started to employ this image, it was completely associated with the publication, with its history in advertising forgotten incredibly soon.
    • The humorous stock poster of a "crazy person" depicted in Breakfast of Champions seems very similar to this.

  • Saturday Night is Bath Night: Before indoor plumbing became widespread in the early-mid 20th century, people bathed a lot less often. The most common time to bathe was Saturday night, the night before going to church on Sunday. This made "Knight of the Bath" a well-worn Stock Joke in the vaudeville era. References to this can be found in media going all the way to the mid-20th century (as referenced in the song "Splish Splash" by Bobby Darin in 1958). Related to this trope is mentions of doing laundry on Monday (as discussed in Breakfast of Champions), as by Sunday one would have dirtied even their nice Sunday clothes, and laundry was a much more time-consuming process before washing machines and needed to be planned.note 
    • This one is a lot Older Than They Think. Anglo-Saxon commentators going back to the Danelaw complained about handsome Vikings seducing local women by their fancy-pants habits that included bathing every Saturday. To this day in Scandinavian languages, the words for Saturday are etymologically "bath day" (lørdag/lördag/laugardagur).
  • The circus parade: During the first decades of the 20th century, the arrival of a circus would mean that the whole town stopped to see it holding a huge parade on Main Street. This practice became less prevalent beginning with WWII, while by the 1970s it had disappeared. It has a Spiritual Successor in the form of holiday parades however, most notably the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Tournament of Roses Parade (held during New Year's Day), both of which still make extensive use of live music, live animals (though mostly horses), acrobats, stuntpeople, and actors.
    • Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland has one of these at the start of the film, mostly as a setup for And You Were There as the circus performers Nemo sees resemble characters that later appear in his dream. Fittingly it takes place sometime near the beginning of the 20th century.
    • Disney's Dumbo, released in 1941 and set in the then-present, features a circus parade, depicted with some zany cartoon antics.

  • Allegorical love ballads: A musical subgenre of the Beast Fable, these songs described Interspecies Romances involving animal, vegetable or even mineral subjects, usually tragically unrequited, and they were quite popular in British and American light operas of the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Titles typically followed the templates of "The (subject) and the (object of its affection)." More absurd examples often degenerated into a Hurricane of Puns.
    • Gilbert and Sullivan examples include "Sighing softly to the river" from The Pirates of Penzance, "The Magnet and the Churn" from Patience and "There grew a little flower" from Ruddigore.
    • Another British example is "The Amorous Goldfish" from The Geisha (1896), which also unconventionally has a human as the object of affection ("an officer brave from the ocean wave").
    • The Last Of The Rohans features a short and rather sad one in "The Tale Of The Rose".
    • American theatrical songwriters Frank Pixley and Gustav Luders were known for "The Tale of a Bumble-Bee" from King Dodo (1901) and "The Tale of the Seashell" (which is actually about a moonbeam and a star) from The Prince of Pilsen (1903).
    • A few such songs appear in Victor Herbert's operetta catalogue, including "The Hen and the Weather Vane" from Little Nemo (1908) and "The Ivy and the Oak" from Sweethearts (1913). Harry B. Smith, the pun-loving lyricist of Little Nemo, could not resist putting the phrase "whether vain or not" into the former song.
    • "Wanted: a Fly" from The Jewel of Asia (1903), an urbane Setting Update of "The Spider and the Fly" in which the spider takes the fly on a dinner date, carries the implied moral that some flirtations are actually better left unconsummated.

  • The Pawnshop Plot: In the early days of film (around the 1910s and 1920s), many films involved pawnshops as they were one of the few places to get credit before credit cards and easy loans were feasible. Films like Unclaimed Goodsnote  and Pawn Ticket 210 would involve pawnshops running into situations such as (a few examples) buying or selling guns that a jilted spouse would use against their lover, or have someone abandon a baby at their doorstep as if they were pawning them. These would die off as credit cards and easier ways to get consumer credit arose, and ended up vanishing by the 1950s. As most of the films unfortunately no longer survive, this is one that is all but truly forgotten. This was discussed in (naturally) Pawn Stars here, when a customer brings in some old posters of pawnshop movies to sell.

  • The Victorian School Graduate: A particular type of Know-Nothing Know-It-All that was commonly parodied in both the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A guy who was constantly reflecting on his experiences in school, hiding surface knowledge behind haughtiness toward others and Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness... Today, people might remember the Mock Turtle from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and the Owl from Winnie the Pooh (who exaggerates the trope by being barely literate), but not so much the trope itself. The Modern Major General and his song from The Pirates of Penzance also exemplify this, but have become tropes of their own.

    '20s and '30s 
  • Oral Fixation: A feature of Freudian psychology that proposed several distinct mental stages. The first stage was oral fixation, formed during infancy through nursing and typically lost shortly thereafter. Therefore, a person who exhibited an oral fixation (smoking, chewing a toothpick, and sometimes extended to homosexuality) as an adult was thought to be somehow emotionally stunted and immature. The idea was quite popular and well known up until the 1970s and '80s, by which time Freud's ideas had been professionally discredited and the public had moved on to newer pop psychology. It will still pop up on occasion but is hardly ever used in seriousness. The name of the trope now refers to its use as a visual shorthand for certain character traits.
    • Lynda Barry has a comic about this illustrating all the types of objects one could use to fulfill an oral fixation, from candy to lipstick.

  • The smoking song: A song about (tobacco) smoking either banishing worldly worries or inspiring sentimental visions. It probably originally derived from the nineteenth-century opium craze (since smoking opium often caused users to have vivid dreams), only to eventually be replaced by the more socially acceptable use of tobacco in the twentieth century. Songs about smoking certain other things are still alive and well, however.

  • The "love nest" song: A song describing the type and/or location of the cozy little home a couple would plan to settle down in.
    • An odd modern example would be in Little Shop of Horrors, where "Somewhere That's Green" describes the type of locale that Audrey would like to live with Seymour.
    • "By the Sea" from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" from My Fair Lady are deliberate throwbacks, in shows set in a period when it was a live trope.
    • "A Room in Bloomsbury" in Sandy Wilson's The Boy Friend is one of its more notable 1950s affectionate parodies of old 1920s tropes. In Ken Russell's film, set during a late '20s or early '30s performance of the play, it's presented as sweet but dated.
    • The same sentiment is still common in country songs, such as Tim McGraw's "Where the Green Grass Grows" (released in 1998).
    • This sentiment is ironically alluded to in Adele's 2011 song "Rolling in the Deep".
    "Think of me in the depths of your despair,
    Make a home down there, 'cause mine sure won't be shared."

  • Revues, in the first half of the 20th century, were plotless shows that combined song-and-dance numbers with Sketch Comedy, the latter often showcasing top vaudeville performers. As stage productions, revues were essentially ephemeral, with only Breakaway Pop Hit songs being intended to potentially live on after the show closed. The Ziegfeld Follies was New York's longest-running revue series, running from 1907 to 1957, and at its height had an All-Star Cast reputation extending all the way down to its Chorus Girls. In the mid-1920s, revues accounted for nearly half of all new musical shows produced on Broadway. The hitherto annual productions of the Ziegfeld Follies and its major competitors started became increasingly sporadic after that, though the genre's popularity held up until the 1950s when it rapidly faded with the rise of the Variety Show. During the Rise of the Talkies, many movie studios produced revues, even going to the then-unusual expense of filming them in color. (One of these was King of Jazz, which was turned into a plotless revue during production after beginning filming as a Paul Whiteman Biopic.)

  • Cigarette lighter gag: Jokes about cigarette lighters refusing to light were obnoxiously common in the days of vaudeville. Apparently a bit of Truth in Television. The founder of Zippo noted that one of his friends carried an IMCO lighter (which was apparently ugly and unfashionable) "because it works". He copied and improved the mechanism when he founded his own company.

  • Extended unimportant montages as film openings: Many films of the 1920s and 1930s feature plot-irrelevant montages of urban life, especially multiple people's daily routines, store displays, manufacturing processes, or popular amusements, much longer than what would be needed for a standard Establishing Shot. Such sequences, leftovers from early cinema in which simply seeing such things was a novel spectacle, eventually vanished unless they were immediately relevant to the plot. They still exist in art and experimental cinema in various forms, but in commercial fiction films, they have long since faded from public consciousness.
    • King Kong (2005) is a rare modern example, and only because of the homage to the original King Kong.
    • Solaris (1972) has an example that's fairly old but still closer to today, in the form of a long and seemingly gratuitous POV scene of driving all over Tokyo highways. While there are a lot of ideas about what it means symbolically, on a practical level getting to see a faraway city and drive a car that much were not experiences the average Soviet citizen would've gotten to do back then, and it would've been more interesting than it is to today's audiences.

  • The "exculpatory preface" before a controversial film: During the early 1930s, when The Hays Code was not effectively enforced and was being regularly flouted, filmmakers felt obliged to immunize themselves against charges of corrupting public morals ("exculpate" means "absolve from blame") by including this, essentially a disclaimer that was held on the screen for a few seconds or so before any picture with a sociopolitical or "edgy" message began. The exculpatory preface insisted (often disingenuously) that the following movie was not a propaganda piece and was not intended to endorse a social or political point of view that might upset people. Perhaps the most notorious of these was the preface bumpering the scandalous 1932 horror film (with a coded civil-rights message) Freaks, which is several paragraphs long and tries to justify the vigilante justice wreaked by the circus freaks in the film. Traces of this custom still turn up occasionally on television, especially when a program is introduced by a "this-does-not-reflect-our-personal-views" disclaimer, or it appears at the end of any TV show with political or otherwise controversial content — but for the most part, the popular media do not fear censorship any more and respect their audience's collective intelligence, reasoning that anyone who is offended by a program can just change the channel or turn off the TV.
    • Glen or Glenda begins with a title card bearing a disclaimer of this type:
      In the making of this film, which deals with a strange and curious subject, no punches have been pulled—no easy way out has been taken. Many of the smaller parts are portrayed by persons who actually are, in real life, the character they portray on the screen. This is a picture of stark realism—taking no sides—but giving you the facts—All the facts—as they are today...
      You are society—JUDGE YE NOT...
    • A more recent equivalent can be found in the Family Channel. When the channel was sold to International Family Entertainment there was a stipulation in the contract that the channel must air the The 700 Club regularly. The 700 Club was a heavily conservative Christian talk show that did not fit in well with the later branding of the channel. Since they were legally required to continue airing the show, the channel put it on as late as they legally could and always aired a message prior to its airing, stressing that the content of the show did not represent the thoughts and beliefs of the station airing it.
    • It's also a common trope in Fan Fiction especially regarding an affirmation that the author(s) deny any desire to infringe upon copyright and asserting the rights of the creator(s) of the original work(s) despite Copyright not working that way. When authors are controversial (either in the fandom or in general) there are also often prefaces along the lines of "I hate the author and in no way endorse their views on x". Sometimes the prefaces also serve the purpose of Trigger Warnings or "Don't read if you don't like trope x, character y etc."
  • The clever young widow pursuing a new husband: Frequently The Ingenue's rival for the protagonist's affections. This character type was popular in the early 20th century, back when young ladies were supposed to be watched over by parents and chaperones before marriage: the widow had the advantages of independence, (moderate) experience, and wealth, though the last of these assets often depended on gold-digging among prospective second husbands. The more dangerous Femme Fatale might be this type's eventual descendant.
    • Anthony Trollope liked this one, having Madame Max Goesler in Phineas Finn and Mrs. Hurtle in The Way We Live Now.
    • Mitzi May in Lackadaisy is a modern example in a webcomic set in the '20s. The author is very knowledgeable about the time period, so it's likely an intentional reference.
    • Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! is faintly recognizable as one of these. Though the musical doesn't make much of her widowhood, it's based indirectly on a much older farce.
    • The first part of Valley of the Dolls is centered on the production of a new musical called Hit the Sky, which has this plotline.

  • Goat glands as Viagra: In the 1920s, goat glands were a quack remedy for erectile dysfunction and general lack of energy (don't ask how it was done...). The use of goat glands — with miraculous Popeye-after-Spinach type results — not only became a trope in films themselves, but a film industry term for silent films that had sound hurriedly added to them to bring them up to date. Monkey glands were also used for the same purpose.
    • Goat glands are used in Buster Keaton's Cops (1922).
    • The song "Monkey Doodle Doo", from the Marx Bros. movie The Cocoanuts (1929), written by Irving Berlin.
      Let me take you by the hand
      Over to the jungle band
      If you're too old for dancing
      Get yourself a monkey gland!
  • In the Call of Cthulhu episodes of Chapo Trap House, Matt's character Dr. Matthew Pennyfarthing is a doctor who lost his medical license and potency due to implanting goat testicles into himself and others. At one point, he implants goat testicles into Felix, with horrible results.
  • In Heart of a Dog, Professor Preobrazhensky tells an old lady he's going to implant a monkey's ovaries into her. Of course, monkeys were hard to come by in Russia back then, and he doesn't need problems with the law once the implant rejection causes obvious problems, so most likely he'll give her some fake scars and rely on the Placebo Effect.

  • Starving Artists' loft apartments: The image of a Starving Artist living in a garret apartment dates from a time when the top floor of a building was the most inconvenient to access and thus rented out for the lowest price. Thanks to elevators, landlords can now rent out lofts for a hefty markup relative to the rest of the building, and starving artists had best starve somewhere lower down. If you smear some Big Apple Sauce on this trope, though, it comes back to life with some Truth in Television on its side. Buildings of five floors or fewer in NYC do not have to have elevators. Guess who lives in fifth-floor walk-ups in certain neighborhoods.

    When found in more recent works, the fifth-floor walk-up version (since even these can be expensive in New York) might be combined with the struggling artist also having to have an unsympathetic roommate, as in the movie Trick.
    • Applies to European cities as well; Linguini from Ratatouille lives in one of these with a great view of the Eiffel Tower, which CinemaSins took offence with. The thing is though, that apartment is actually the kind of place where Linguini would be living, depending on which arrondisement it's located in.
    • In "3 Scenes Plus a Tag from a Marriage" from The Simpsons, we see that Homer and Marge lived in a fifth-floor walk-up before marrying. When asked by Bart, Homer replies he took the elevator... on the building across the street, crawling to his building through a plank.

  • Allegorical film sequences: Films of the early 1920s often included allegorical sequences (or entire parallel stories) set in past eras. Bible Times, Ancient Egypt, and Ancient Grome were popular choices, which also provided a convenient excuse to shoehorn in a few scantily-clad slave girls and Roman orgies without attracting the censors' ire.
    • D. W. Griffith's Intolerance is likely the Trope Maker.
    • The original 1923 version of The Ten Commandments is an odd example in which the Biblical scenes are far better known than the modern story that actually takes up most of the running time. This was so much the case that when Cecil B. DeMille did the 1956 remake, he dropped the modern story entirely and made the whole movie about Moses.
    • Speaking of biblical stories, it's often noted that movie studios made so many Biblical films during the Hays Code era because the censors tended to ignore most of the scurrilous material that was presented.
    • This was a popular enough trope to be parodied by Buster Keaton's film Three Ages.
    • This gimmick is arguably still with us, in the form of "The History of..." spoofs in comic strips and TV commercials showing stereotyped scenes from past eras, often with Bamboo Technology.

  • The officer fallen on hard times: The British army commissioned a lot of officers from outside of the traditional officer class during World War I, and after the war, most of these men had to return to their former stations in life. This was a popular character type in post-war British fiction, but most of those novels are now forgotten, with one of the few exceptions being Lady Chatterley's Lover, in which Mellors the gamekeeper is a former officer. An example set earlier, but written more recently, would be Napoleonic-era naval officers (Jack Aubrey, Horatio Hornblower) whenever peace breaks out.

  • Spitting and spittoons: While casual spitting was becoming seen as crude by then, the habit persisted into the early 20th Century. Spittoons were a special type of receptacle kept around so that people could spit in them. Hygienic concerns brought by The Spanish Flu caused a quick decline to it, but before it died for good, many an early-Golden Age cartoon short included nigh-incomprehensible by now scenes of spitting characters. Sometimes the gag involved using a random bowl or a pot for a spittoon. The spit itself, presented as a bouncy black droplet, often appeared to be a piece of chewed tobacco or gum equivalent and made a "ding!" sound on impact. Spittoons can still occasionally be seen in contemporary works that parody wild west-style settings, such as West of Loathing and one scene in The LEGO Movie.

  • Hired co-respondent: Back when no-fault divorce was not available in most jurisdictions, many couples who wanted to divorce but couldn't afford something like a Divorce in Reno or couldn't leave home for whatever reason hired someone to pose as one spouse's lover and get caught in a compromising pose so the other could file suit.

  • Students going home for lunch: It was common for school students in the USA (mainly primary) to go home for lunch during the school day and then go back to school for the rest of their classes. By the 1970s, this practice stopped for a few reasons. Expansion of school meals with government funding reduced the need for students to go home to eat. School regulations and even laws were made to ban students from leaving school premises during the day. This is largely due to safety issues as schools can be held liable if something happens to students setting foot off school grounds during school hours. But it is also due to truancy as students could be late returning to classes or even decide to skip school for the rest of the day.
    • The first of the Ramona Quimby books have Ramona come home for lunch daily (a plot point when she comes home and decides not to come back to class); by the time of Ramona the Brave, she's having lunch at school (due to the books slipping forward).
    • The 1960 Compilation Movie Stop! Look! And Laugh! (best known for clips from The Three Stooges shorts) has a scene with Paul Winchell serving lunch to dummy Jerry Mahoney, who came from school to eat.
    • Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids: The episode "Playing Hooky" doesn't have the gang eating lunch but does have them hanging out in their junkyard during school lunch while discussing skipping school. They agree they can't play hooky during the second half of the school day and vow to take the next day off from school.

    '40s and '50s 
  • Facial muscle control: As mentioned under Clark Kenting, facial muscle control was used by pulp magazines to hand-wave Master of Disguise abilities, because it was thought that if a male character wore make-up for a disguise, that would make him a "sissy". Perhaps because of common awareness of the use of make-up in films or the lack of believability of the facial muscle explanation, this trope hasn't been used for a while. It's not that holding yourself a bit differently doesn't change your appearance, but you can't make yourself look like a completely different person that way.

  • Films adapted as radio plays: During the 1940s, films were sometimes adapted into radio plays, usually performed by the original cast of the film. The most popular of these radio programs was Lux Radio Theatre, which if it couldn't get the original cast, usually got other A-listers to perform the parts. Television, being a visual medium like film, made such adaptations redundant, though they did still happen to a limited extent even into the 1980s — Star Wars being a very famous example, and also one of the very last produced in this manner.
    • The genre survives in the UK, where some TV works (most notably Doctor Whonote ) have been adapted to radio; and in Japan, where some anime, like Code Geass, get short stories known as "audio dramas" (which, despite their name, are predominantly comedies).
    • The German Long Runner Tatort which is mostly direct-to-TV movies but has also seen some theatrical releases has some radio plays. While a handful are adoptions of episodes shown on TV, the majority of the radio plays are original stories in the same Shared Universe. Interestingly the radio plays aren't a 1970s legacy but a 21st century innovation and addition to the media behemoth that is Tatort.

  • Ballet sequences in musicals: A trope from Hollywood musicals of the forties and fifties was the ballet sequence — a segment in which the movie broke away from the main action, usually as a dream, to tell a mini-story through stylized interpretive dance. It may have evolved into the Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
    • The Big Ballet trend in musicals was started by George Balanchine and "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" from On Your Toes (and revisited in the "biographical" Words and Music), which in turn might have been inspired by the Busby Berkeley Number "Lullaby of Broadway" from Gold Diggers of 1935.
    • Found as late as Ken Russell's consciously retro film version of Sandy Wilson's The Boy Friend (1971), even though the play itself does not have a ballet sequence. But then, the film is also replete with Busby Berkeley numbers and countless other lovingly-rendered throwbacks to earlier eras.
    • The "Gutterballs" Mushroom Samba scene from The Big Lebowski is somewhat of a homage to the trope too.

  • American sports comics and stage magic comics: In between The Golden Age of Comic Books and The Silver Age of Comic Books, a number of non-superhero genres were popular. While some, like crime, horror, romance, monster, and western comics are fondly remembered, still continue, or are occasionally revived, a few others have been entirely forgotten, such as the brief vogue for sports comics and the even briefer vogue for comics about stage magic (think of Moloch the evil magician from Watchmen as a contemporary Shout-Out to this subgenre). This is partly because the institution of the Comics Code Authority in 1954 following the publication of Seduction of the Innocent killed off the more violent or lurid examples of these comics for nearly a generation, and some of the genres never recovered.
    • Sports are still a popular topic for some American newspaper comics (see Tank McNamara).

  • Short stories in American comic books: The two-page prose short story featured in many comics in the USA from the 1930s up to the early 1960s was due to postal regulations requiring any publication taking advantage of the cheaper magazine bulk distribution rates to have at least two pages of prose or other written content. (In the case of EC Comics, the main difference between these narratives and the usual Walls of Text was the lack of accompanying illustrations.) The popularity of the letters pages and Stan Lee's promotional "Bullpen Bulletins" pages replaced them, and eventually postal regulations changed.

  • Civilian adventure comics: The dominance of the superhero has all but eliminated the once-popular "civilian adventurer" type, who often had an exciting profession and invariably ended up battling criminals and spies. Many early comics featured the likes of aviator Hop Harrigan, TV host Roy Raymond, and adventurer Pep Morgan starring in backup features in the increasingly superhero-dominated anthologies. While some of these characters still exist, they usually survive by either becoming superheroes (like Congo Bill becoming Congorilla) or becoming part of the supporting cast of a superhero comic (like Speed Saunders, who has been tied in with Hawkman). The idea of such characters headlining their own comics is long gone. They still persist in some newspaper comics — Mark Trail, for example — but only because of the Grandfather Clause. Tintin began as a straightforward entry in the European version of this genre but gradually evolved into an ensemble adventure comic.

  • Superheroes with a vehicle as their gimmick: The hero whose sole gimmick is a super-vehicle of some kind — such as Taxi Taylor, Captain X, and the 1940s Red Torpedo — is all but forgotten, having long since been absorbed by superhero characters like Batman who have other gimmicks and talents besides a Batmobile or the like. A particular subset of these characters, the aviator hero with a special plane, exists today almost entirely in the form of the Blackhawk characters, who also have the gimmick of being a multinational team of flyers.
    • Captain Falcon of the F-Zero video game series is a modern-day example of this trope: He is a professional race car driver who chases down criminals when not racing. This premise, in turn, is undoubtedly an homage to Speed Racer, the most famous example of this trope, albeit a character no longer taken seriously due to his campiness.
    • A brief revival happened on TV during the 1980s, following the success of Knight Rider. Series like Airwolf, Blue Thunder and Street Hawk kept the trope going for a while. The Hulk Hogan vehicle Thunder in Paradise was the last mainstream series that followed this plot. In these cases, often the hero was member of some kind of underground vigilante group, mercenary force or rogue military.
  • Male Heterosexual Life-Partners who share a house: In the first half of the 20th century, this trope was common in children's comic books – sometimes the main characters would even share a bed and showed little or no interest in women. However, in the United States Dr. Frederic Wertham anvilled this point repeatedly in his 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent, which sparked a Congressional hearing, after which it became more and more common for adults to interpret this kind of relationship as gay. Wertham emphasized that even the youngest children understood the characters to be gay. This inevitably led to a Gay Panic and mobilized the Moral Guardians, forcing American comic writers and publishers to abandon this trope and make changes specifically designed to avert it and stop the accusations. In Continental Europe, there never was a comparable panic so this trope continued to exist longer, gradually phasing out beginning in the 1970s, but mostly as a result of changing views on masculinity making the use of the trope impossible without being the target of snide jokes.
    • Examples of this trope in comic books include:
    • Similar housing arrangements can also be found in non-comics literature:
      • Sherlock Holmes and Watson (before the latter got married and moved out; and then again for a few years after his first wife died).
      • A four-way example would be Biggles and his three chums Algy, Ginger, and Bertie.
      • The trope is still quite common in fantasy literature; for example, the main characters of Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastard series, who are as-good-as-brothers friends and have been sharing a small room since they were kids, and apparently saw no real reason to stop as adults.note 
      • The main characters in Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series, who were sharing rooms (and occasionally even a single bed, when staying in traveler's inns or friends' guest rooms) long before they ever developed any romantic interest in each other. In the latter case, it's depicted as an "old-fashioned arrangement" (due to lack of proper heating), or as the result of the very limited space in wayside inns.note  There's also mention of teenage noble girls sleeping in a bed with their nurse/chaperone — possibly to prevent nightly visits from their beau.
      • Craig Kennedy Scientific Detective by Arthur B. Reeve: The short stories are from the 1910s and have Craig Kennedy and Walter Jameson living together just fine. Walter's even the one to make sure that Craig eats properly when the guy is elbows deep in a case. It's also made clear that while Craig isn't usually interested in women, Walter very much is; when Craig successfully concludes a case and there's a grateful single woman involved, Craig promptly redirects her and Walter towards each other.
    • This living arrangement was also quite common in older film comedies from the Silent and Golden Ages of Hollywood. No one found it odd to see Laurel and Hardy or The Three Stooges share a bed together.

  • Eccentric village characters songs: A folk song trope that isn't used much anymore. In the fifties, there were plenty of songs about eccentric but beloved village characters such as the old lamp-lighter or the old umbrella salesman. Those songs are forgotten except by those very familiar with old songs.
    • Tom Lehrer's song "The Old Dope Peddler" from Songs by Tom Lehrer parodies this. Actually, many of Lehrer's songs parody styles and tropes that were old even when he was writing them (although a few had seen revivals at the time); and have now been all but forgotten by any but aficionados of old music.
    • Maddy Prior's "All Our Trades" stands out as a late example of this trope done straight.

  • Everything's greener with chlorophyll: A minor trope in The '50s, afterwards forgotten. The brief fad for chlorophyll as an additive centered on its supposed deodorizing and "healing" properties, not to mention giving products like toothpaste a natural green color. TIME Magazine reported a chlorophyll boom in April 1952 which had become a bust by October of the next year.
    • In the second Iron Man film, Tony Stark drinks a concoction he says involves chlorophyll to stave off palladium poisoning.
    • The modern gimmicky plant extract health trend means that chlorophyll is still used in some cult beauty products bragging about their plant credentials. It gives the green colour to MOA's Green Balm (a coconut oil-based moisturiser marketed as a multipurpose "healing balm") and LUSH's Mask of Magnaminty, and gives supposed anti-aging properties in Asian beauty products like The Saem's Natural-Tox Green Grape sheet mask and Lu Ming Tang's Elixir de Vie eye cream.
    • As explained in this article from CurioCity, Clorets chewing gum incorporates a water-soluble variant of chlorophyll as a breath deodorant.
    • In the book Now Hear This (written in the sixties, might be set a bit earlier) a group of sailors pull the old patent medicine gag on their shipmates. They have the local radio announcer plant a fake story about how a disease has broken out at their last port of call, then spread the rumor that chlorophyll can cure it. Cue selling bottles of green water.

  • All greasers are Italians: A minor trope back in the '50s about the stereotype that all or most greasers were ethnically Italian. It is given a nod in Grease, with roughly half the characters being vaguely of Italian descent (or sometimes not so vague, such as the character of Sonny being bilingual). Nowadays, this subculture is still remembered, but the racial connotation seem to be lost for modern audiences, especially since the '50s youth culture has caught on with all ethnic groups. The reality-TV show Jersey Shore did briefly revive this trope in a more modern context.

  • Alum gag: One gag used in cartoons was when someone ingested the multi-use substance alum, their lips would tighten to a pucker, their head would shrink, or their voice would increase in pitch. Adult men (and curious children) would have been familiar with alum's indescribable taste from its use as a styptic in the days of double-edged razor shaving, where it was common (and unfortunate) to get some in your mouth by accident. Alum's replacement with more commercial grooming products mean the only people who risk this experience these days are traditional shaving enthusiasts and people who aren't very good at making homemade pickles.
    • The latter two occurred in the Looney Tunes short "Long-Haired Hare".
    • The Three Stooges also once accidentally added alum to a stew.
    • Laurel and Hardy experience this in Tit for Tat when alum gets sprinkled on some marshmallows.
    • Many brands of modern 'extreme' sour sweets are advertised with shots of people making funny puckering faces; since alum is often used along with citric acid to create the face-sucking kick, this is a mild example of the trope existing today. And of course, if you're truly curious, styptic pencils made with alum are still available in many drugstores.

  • Cuba is a hotbed of sin: In pre-Castro Cuba, and especially during the Batista years, the Mafia opened numerous casinos, nightclubs, and places of ill repute in the country to avoid American law enforcement, making it an extremely popular tourist destination. All of this died out with Castro's revolution — in fact, part of Castro's reason for taking over was because he was disgusted over American criminals controlling Cuba's economy. Of course, prostitution, and even a thriving gay culture still exist in Cuba and are grudgingly tolerated.
    • The idea of Cuba as a hotbed of sin is seen in Guys and Dolls.
    • The Godfather, Part II owes a few scenes to this trope.
    • The iconic 1997 World Music album Buena Vista Social Club owes its success to playing with this trope — the musicians on the album were elderly men who had played in the lost dens and brothels of pre-Communist Cuba in their youth. The album is a mixture of genuine sinhouse standards and original pieces in the same, forgotten style.

  • Bullets go ping: Movie bullets used to make a long pinging sound whenever they hit a rock or metal surface; this sounds ridiculous to most modern ears, although the similar Bullet Sparks trope remains alive.
    • It was used in the Marathon computer games as late as 1996 (source).
    • Due to its heavy use in old Western films (enough that the sounds are often associated with the genre), pieces paying homage to the classic era of Westerns will use this effect as a shout-out, similar to using the Wilhelm Scream. Red Dead Redemption is a good example of this at work.

  • Rock and roll music causing juvenile delinquency: This one was fairly widespread during the first few years of rock's existence (mid-late 1950s, mostly), turning up both in fiction and in real-life accounts. Although juvenile crime is certainly still a problem, rock music hasn't been commonly viewed as a social menace since the 1970s at the very latest, and any complaints from parents about rock and roll nowadays are bound to be about how it supposedly makes young people lazy and stupid, not how it makes them criminals — and as the more highbrow, progressive varieties of rock move more and more into the mainstream, even that trope has started to disappear. Nowadays the complaint is usually about rock music's still sexually provocative image, musicians acting childishly and/or irresponsibly in public, or the superficially (or not) left-wing politics of many rock musicians, and that for hard rock and metal. If you hear a parent denounce rock and roll as literally evil anymore, he or she is almost certainly a fundamentalist Christian — and usually a non-mainstream one, at that. Actually, the last time music was considered to encourage violence was in the 1980s, the culprit most usually being rap music — or, occasionally, Heavy Metal or Punk Rock.
    • One of the very last works to portray this unironically was Rock: It's Your Decision in 1982, and many people who have reviewed it feel that it is Two Decades Behind.
    • The Satanic Panic of the '80s and early '90s briefly revived this in a more intense and spurious form. Leaflets distributed by anti-Satanist groups said that an interest in rock music was indication that an adult was a Satanist performing bizarre ritual torture on children. Heavy metal album cover art was used as evidence in court to take the children of accused adults into care.
    • The 1999 comic Batman: Fortunate Son depicts Batman as exactly this sort of (surrogate) parent towards Robin.
    • A variation would be saying that a popular musician (or actually anything popular) is part of "The Great Jewish-Masonic-Satanic Conspiracy" (a.k.a. the N.W.O.), although it's far less prominent.

  • All-Male Stylish Black Musicians: This one has origins in vaudeville. In order to get past the stereotypical view of blacks as unruly "wild men", black performers would don the most dapper suits they could afford and act as refined as possible. This had a deep mark on music for a very long time — think Duke Ellington, Four Tops, The Inkspots... (The Distaff Counterpart, with black female singers as evening-gowned grandes dames, showed up frequently in the Motown "girl groups.") The trope remained popular in the '70s and '80s, but since the '90s it has fallen out of favor with the popularity of urban music among the Afro-American crowd. Certain modern black pop stars still use this trope, such as Outkast and Janelle Monáe (who does a Gender Flip version of the look), but it is part of a semi-ironic retro image rather than an omnipresent Enforced Trope.

  • Crappy postal service: Mail in the mid-20th century was far from being a reliable service, with many jokes about letters either going to another place or arriving not days or months, but years or decades late. This problem became less common after the inception of the ZIP code in the '60s, and since the '90s the prevalence of e-mail has rendered the trope inoperative, except perhaps on certain political talk shows.

  • Uranium Fever: Back in the '50s, uranium became such a valuable commodity for its use in nuclear energy that it became a modern substitute for gold as "the element that is so valuable it's worth trying to find it" in contemporary pop culture. Examples include songs like "Uranium Fever" as well as the movie of the same name, films like Dig That Uranium, and even cartoons like Rocky and Bullwinkle (where one Aborted Arc began with the improbable news that cereal boxtops had become more valuable than uranium) and The Flintstones (in one episode, Fred feels disappointed after finding out a gold mine he discovered isn't really real gold, but he immediately feels better when at the end of the episode he digs out what it seems to be uranium in a place under the terrain of his home and mentions how he's going to be rich), and even as an excuse in a few episodes of Perry Mason. Then it was discovered how dangerous it is to handle uranium, and it was quickly forgotten. Nowadays a lot of people still know how valuable it is, but very few outside of experts and professionals will even try to find it.
    • In the Miss Marple novel A Pocket Full of Rye this is a plot point — a gold mine that had been written off as worthless in the 1920s turns out to contain valuable uranium deposits.
    • The 1958 The Three Stooges short Oil's Well That Ends Well was a remake of the 1939 short Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise, but with a uranium subplot added in, where the Stooges tried to get the ore to pay for their father's surgery.
    • The Flintstones: In "The Treasure of Sierra Madrock", Fred feels disappointed after finding out a gold mine he discovered isn't really real gold, but he immediately feels better when at the end of the episode he digs out what it seems to be uranium in a place under the terrain of his home and mentions how he's going to be rich.
    • Perry Mason: "The Case of the Romantic Rogue", Perry needs to get on some land to conduct a search; he realizes that the mineral rights are available, and he pretends to be uranium prospecting.
    • In The Boxcar Children: "Mystery Ranch," the ranch has uranium ore, which the villains attempt to take control of.

  • Chase Cartoons: After the big success of Tom and Jerry, the idea of having some cartoon character chasing another as the basic premise became a sub-genre in the animation industry. Even parodies like Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner (that took the basic plot and put it to work with the two most unlikeliest animals in the weirdest setting Chuck Jones could think of) was a success in its own right when people took it at face value instead of the satire it was supposed to be. But while a lot of those characters remain beloved icons of the medium, you just don't see a lot of these kind of shows anymore. The very few attempts to revive this premise in later years are seen as obscure, or as cult shows at best.

  • Rejection of Kanji: In the early years of Japanese pro wrestling breaking out of small clubs into the mainstream, there were three noticeable naming conventions. Real full names, most commonly used by already well-known judoka, honorific titles from sumo tradition and single common Japanese names written in capitalized letters from the Latin Alphabet. The latter were a sign that a heel was rejecting Japanese characters in the loudest way possible. As foreigners became more accepted and were able to get over as faces, it became common to pit a foreigner whose name was transliterated into kanji against an all caps native just to make it more obvious. However, most of the perpetrators themselves ended up undergoing heel face turns and the meaning became forgotten, to the point Kenta Kobayashi simply went with KENTA to distinguish himself from the more established similar-sounding Kenta Kobashi, with both acting as baby faces at the same time in the NOAH promotion, which seemingly uses all caps just because it looks cool.

  • The Spanish Civil War veteran: In World War II movies made while the war was still in progress, it was a common trope to establish a character's anti-fascist credentials with a mention that he (and it was always a "he") had fought in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side. The most famous instance of this is Rick in Casablanca. After the war, the Red Scare arrived and Spanish Civil War veterans were branded as communist traitors. As a result, this trope quickly disappeared from subsequent films about World War II. Despite the fact that World War II movies are still made in abundance and that there's much less of a stigma about Spanish Civil War veterans now, the trope of mentioning Spanish Civil War service to establish anti-fascist credentials appears to be well and truly dead.
    • Shows up in Daniel Pinkwater's The Education Of Robert Nifkin, set in The '50s, where ROTC instructor Sgt. Gunter is established as a badass in Robert's eyes by the fact that he fought fascists in the Spanish Civil War. Sgt. Gunter turns out to be a secret communist and gets fired for this, but remains a hero and mentor to Robert, and is portrayed as the only Reasonable Authority Figure amidst a school ruled by Red Scare-crazed nutcases.
    • My Dog Skip is a rare modern example as the protagonist's father lost a leg fighting in Spain. It's not a major plot point, but it's used to present the character as something of a disillusioned idealist.
    • This is a major plot point in Maxwell Anderson's 1939 play Key Largo. The movie version, produced after World War II, omits it completely.
    • In "The Folk Song Army," Tom Lehrer sings, "Remember the war against Franco?", parodying a Phil Ochs song that nobody remembers now.
    • Subversion in The Archers, where one character was rumoured to have fought in the Spanish Civil War. When asked, he replies that he did... but for the fascists.
    • Zigzagged in the unrelated Western Animation spy satire Archer, where Sterling Archer imagines himself as this during a coma. Volunteering in the Lincoln Brigade was common enough for American men of the day, but still political, so Archer seeing himself as this confirms that his interest in social and political progress during non-coma seasons is genuine. Set very early in WWII, this arc invokes the trope when Archer is forced into a dogfight in the French Pacific with Nazi rivals who had very recently traumatized him over Spain. The postmodern understanding of PTSD is an unusual juxtaposition of medical advancement in the portrayal of a forgotten trope. The same arc would also involve Uranium Fever in homage to another forgotten trope listed above, similarly distinguished from the straight trope by the author being from a time when radiation poisoning is much better understood.

  • The Funny Animal hides in a fur coat or rug: A Running Gag in Golden Age cartoons (and for some time beyond that) featured an animal character using a fur coat (generally a mink coat) or rug (usually a tiger or a bear) as a means of hiding. These were common sights in middle-class homes until the 1970s (another popular trope at the time was that of the wife tricking her husband in order to get money for a new coat) when the rising animal rights movement sparked a backlash, which coupled with that decade's economic changes made them unaffordable for anyone except rich people, and for that matter mostly limited to crass nouveau riche types.

  • Whoopee caps were common in the early 20th century amongst working-class men, and evolved out of a trend to buy cheap second-hand felt fedoras as head protection from chemicals doing auto work. Creative people soon discovered they could customise them by turning them inside out and trimming off the brim with a scalloped or 'crown' effect, then adding buttons, grommets, and patches to them. This made them a popular accessory with teenage boys. The result was they were used in fiction to express a working-class tough or juvenile delinquent/non-conformist. Nowadays no one knows what they are, except that they look ridiculous, and except for Jughead's signature hat in Archie Comics, a holdover from his earliest days that stuck around well beyond the point that even adults knew what it was.

  • Doctors Making House Calls: Up until the mid-20th century, it was common for doctors to go to patients, rather than patients going to doctors. As healthcare changed, it became increasingly common for patients to see doctors in their offices, and eventually, most doctors stopped doing it altogether. (Part of the reason for this may be that healthcare switched from being doctor-controlled to admin-controlled, and doctors were pushed to see more patients each day, leaving no time for house calls.) Even when an elderly or disabled person who cannot leave their home, or has just been released from the hospital, is given home care, it's almost always administered by a nurse, not a doctor. This trope is the origin of the phrase "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

  • Manga Rental Stores: In post-war Japan, paper was a bit harder to come by, thanks to occupation-era rationing. Since libraries were also rare in smaller cities, book rental businesses started to pop up, and book-length manga turned out to be great eye-catchers for younger, and eventually not-as-young, readers. These stores grew to specialize in manga thanks to modernization but were eventually driven extinct by manga magazines. By the sixties, they were all gone.

  • Pinball as a "game of chance": Prior to flippers, pinball machines were pretty much a game of luck, as only the plunger (and occasional "nudging") would be the only control a player might get in a game. (For example, on The Three Stooges, the trio would run into a pinball machine and call it ironically "a game of skill!", a joke that would be lost on modern viewers.) The addition of "replays" would add a gambling element into it as good or lucky players can accumulate a lot of them and cash them out for money — after all, what else can you do besides play the same game again? Furthermore, up to around the 1950s, there were pinball variants called "bingo machines" where you shoot multiple balls and try to get them in specific holes to score a bingo and earn a flood of replays, which, well, legally can't be used for anything besides playing again. Naturally, all this got the ire of the Moral Guardians that would get the flipperless machines banned in some areas (and by the Sixties, later forgotten, especially the bingo machines). The addition of flippers, which added a great degree of skill to the game, would kill this trope. The only remaining legacy of the gambling element may be an instruction card within the machine that would include the words "FOR AMUSEMENT ONLY". The closest thing to this trope in the modern world is the Japanese gambling game of pachinko, which is really more of a case of convergent evolution (pachinko's origins have nothing to do with pinball).

  • Telephone Exchange Names: Up to roughly the 1960s, phone numbers in the US used distinguished names where each number has a name and a series of numbers after it, and the name's first two letters corresponded to the numbers on the dial, and the rest of the numbers dialed afterward. The names were those of central offices of each set of subscriber lines (to a maximum of 10,000). For example, "MUrray Hill 5-9099"note  would translate to "685-9099" when dialed, as the "M" and "U" are the 6 and 8 on the dial, respectively. (The "H" in Hill was not dialed as it was not part of the first word.) Works like the song "Pennsylvania 6-5000", based on a well-known number in New York City (yes, there, not the Keystone State), are nods to these.
    A very common exchange name in fiction is "Klondike", specifically "Klondike 5-xxxx", which would translate to "555-xxxx" on the dial. (One example of this is in Back to the Future, where the 1955 Doc's number was "Klondike 54385", i.e. 555-4385.) Eventually these were phased out for being too needlessly complex with some combinations having no pronounceable or memorable namesnote , and with the rapid growth of phone service, this became an all-number dial for most by the mid-1960s.

  • Chorus Girl voices: In the 1940s and 1950s, Chorus Girls, especially in cheap burlesque shows, would often be heard singing together in a loud, screechy quasi-unison, producing a Cute, but Cacophonic effect sometimes deliberately imitated in musicals such as Cover Girl and Guys and Dolls. Improvements in microphone technology may have made this singing style obsolete, though the modern-day counterparts of these performers are more likely to be lip-synching.

    '60s and onwards 
  • Typewriter theme music: A minor trope in old newscasts was using thematic music that emulated the ticking sound of teleprinters, news tickers, or typewriters. With the predominance of new technology in the mid-to-late 1990s, those devices eventually were considered obsolete, so using such a style of musicalization wasn't making sense any more (and younger audiences probably wouldn't be able to recognize them anyway) and since then most newscast themes have featured mostly "epic soundtrack" themes with "rockish" (late '90s-mid 2000s) or electronic styles (late 2000s-2010s). During the early years of the decade, however, some radio news bulletins were still using it as a sort of homage and/or Affectionate Parody of old-time newscasts such as CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.
    • The theme for the 2011-2017 BBC2/Showtime comedy Episodes (which revolves around a couple of British scriptwriters in Hollywood) is a jaunty tune backed by typewriter noises. Interludes between are also frequently bridged with typewriter sounds, such as typing, dinging bells, and ratcheting.
    • The pod music in LittleBigPlanet uses typewriters, morse code, and other such sounds. Ditched in the sequels, however.
    • One popular present-day show that integrates typewriter sounds into the theme is Taskmaster and all its international incarnations.
  • Instrumental covers of pop songs as background music: Between the 1950s and the mid-1990s hardly either an elevator, supermarket, or a department store/shopping mall wouldn't feature instrumental knock-offs of popular songs and standards in the background (also known as "mood music" or "Muzak", after the main company in the business). But by the mid-to-late 1990s, they began to be regarded as uncool, and in some cases, they were seen as a form of mind control to bolster shopping. And the advent of new sound technology (namely CDs) by then phased them out in favor of the actual songs that kind of music covered.
    • The "easy listening" orchestras of the 1950s to mid-1970s (carrying the torch of the 1920s-30s dance bands and 1930s-40s big bands) were popular with both record buyers and radio listeners, eventually establishing the "beautiful music" format common on FM (this at a time pop music was still mostly heard on AM). These were replaced by "smooth" jazz-fusion-oriented acts, which were popular until the mid-2000s.
    • Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Girl from Ipanema" is best known nowadays for being a stock choice for "elevator scenes".
    • Night at the Museum has Larry hiding from the exhibits in an elevator while an instrumental version of "Mandy" plays. The joke is clearly the fact a museum devoted to historical artifacts would be the only place to still have this.
    • Possibly becoming not-so-forgotten given the popularity of acts doing classical-leaning instrumental covers of rock tunes like Vitamin String Quartet and the Rockabye Baby! series of instrumental lullabies. Also remains relatively common in doctor's offices.
    • Devo released two cassettes of Muzak-style covers of their songs, called E-Z Listening Muzak Cassettes, as a tongue-in-cheek parody of this phenomenon. During some of their tours, they would play selections from these tapes in the hour-long period before the show started.
    • The song "Cavity Search" by "Weird Al" Yankovic, which is a parody of U2's "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me", ends with the song fading out while someone screams in the dentist's office getting a cavity filling. Once the original song is fully cut, a Muzak version of the instrumental is played.
    • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Flop Starz", Phineas' mom was a One-Hit Wonder under the stage name Lindana. To show that her relevancy is fully faded, she hears the elevator music version of her hit "I'm Lindana (And I Wanna Have Fun)" while on an elevator. This appears again at the episode's end as, after Phineas and Ferb refuse to do a follow-up single for their one hit and storm out of their meeting, they board the elevator of the record company and hear an elevator music version of their song "Gitchee Gitchee Goo".

  • Airplane hijackers demanding to be taken to Cuba: The airplane hijacker who demands to be taken to Cuba (which was a real-life phenomenon) had a brief heyday with the skyjacking wave of the late 1960s and early-mid 1970s, but was already fading into Dead Horse territory by the late 1970s and early 1980s (tellingly, the Airplane! films don't mention skyjacks at all save for a brief joke in the sequel), and has since been completely supplanted by hijackers with far more sinister motives.
    • Monty Python's Flying Circus played with this. One passenger on a direct flight to Cuba tries to hijack the plane and go to Luton. He ends up getting talked into jumping off the plane just in time to catch a bus "Straight to Luton," which is then hijacked by a man who demands to be taken to Cuba. The bus changes its sign to "Straight to Cuba" and turns around.
    • Seinfeld references the Cuban hijacker trope with Dominican characters that are repeatedly mistaken for Cubans.
    • An Italian pop band founded in 1994 is named "Dirotta Su Cuba" ("Hijack Towards Cuba")
    • In P.D.Q. Bach's The Abduction of Figaro, Captain Kadd, after his "I Am" Song, says he's "taking this ship to Cuba." The other characters have to remind him that he's not on a ship ("What do you mean, I'm not on a ship?").
    • Cracked magazine spoofed this phenomenon soon after it became big in the late '60s with a few pages of strips of many other modes of transportation being hijacked, including ice-cream trucks, rickshaws, magic carpets, and horses in the Old West.
    • In an episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show, Ren and Stimpy try to rob a bank to get into prison (because it was advertised as a Luxury Prison Suite. During the robbery, Stimpy says "Give us a full tank of gas. We're taking this bird to Cuba".
    • In Issue #27 of the Animaniacs comic, one passenger on the plane Slappy and Skippy are on tries to hijack the plane to go to Cuba, but things escalate out of control as other passengers make their own attempts to hijack the plane to go to different places and several members of different federal agencies announce themselves.

  • Outlaws hiding in Algeria: After Algeria gained its independence in 1962, the fledgling nation's anti-Western government offered asylum for political militants fleeing the law during the Cold War. The most infamous was Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver, who moved to the country with several of his fellow comrades. Much like the Cuban hijacker trope above, it seemed that every other criminal and terrorist group in Hollywood wanted a plane to Algeria. The most famous example is in Dog Day Afternoon, where Al Pacino's character Sonny demands a plane to Algeria as part of his ransom demands. As times changed, the New Left declined in the West, and the Algerian government would stop taking in these political activists and normalized its relations with the West (after undergoing a civil war). Nowadays, Dog Day Afternoon is the only reason why this trope is still remembered.

  • They Spent the Night Together?!: A staple of TV sitcoms as late as the '80s. Nearly every sitcom of the era had at least one episode in which everyone was up in arms because it appeared that two unmarried opposite-sex characters had slept together when they hadn't really. (The trope's use in musical comedies was much older, with it being a convenient pretext for an ensemble finaletto and Second-Act Breakup) The denouement was always the emergence of a perfectly innocent explanation, e.g. if a car belonging to a male character was spotted in the driveway of a female character's house in the morning, it would turn out that he'd been by the night before, the car wouldn't start and he'd walked home — but not before the rest of the cast got whipped into a frenzy about how the poor girl's reputation would be ruined and how on earth could she let this happen?! (The Everly Brothers song "Wake Up, Little Susie" has the couple falling asleep at a boring drive-in movie and the boy is worried about his own reputation, not just hers.) Nowadays, of course, that attitude is seen as sexist rather than funny, and 1990s-era sitcoms often featured unmarried couples sleeping together without anyone complaining, eventually killing the trope.

  • A VCR flashing 12:00AM: A common gag before the advent of DVDs, due to the notorious difficulty in resetting a VCR's time. The joke doesn't work in the era of DVD players, because the vast majority of them can't record, and thus have no need for clocks in the first placenote  — and the few who do have a clock (and DVRs for that matter) either have an internal clock battery or can fetch the local time from the broadcast metadata.
    • Broadcast metadata and the rise of the smartphone have also killed off the trope of multiple characters synchronizing their wristwatches in Spy Fiction and The Caper stories
    • It used to show up in a lot of Cartoon Network shows like Johnny Bravo and Dexter's Laboratory, with the joke being that someone is a genius but is still unable to reset the VCR, or this being used as an example of newfound brainpower. It even managed to reach into The New '10s, specifically an early episode of Teen Titans Go! when Cyborg slips a complaint about this into his fast-talking explanation of what a VCR even is.
    • Homestar Runner referred to this phenomenon in a Strong Bad Email, acknowledging its omnipresence and the nigh-impossibility of fixing it. Strong Bad asks Bubs to fix the clock on his VCR, and Bubs "fixes" it by duct-taping another digital clock to the VCR.
    • Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie reference it in their Internet Help Desk skit, as a character they call the Twelve O'clock Flasher:
      Wes: We've got a serious Twelve O'clock Flasher here. All the appliances in his house are always flashing twelve. It's impossible to get a Twelve O'clock Flasher online, it can't be done! I've seen people eat their own headsets trying!
    • Brought up in The X-Files Game when Detective Mary Astadorian is impressed that FBI Agent Craig Willmore's VCR isn't flashing midnight.
      Astadorian: Hey, it's not flashing midnight, impressive. I like a man who's not afraid of technology!
    • The Simpsons: The episode "Lisa's Wedding" that takes place in the far off future of 2010 has a quick gag where we see that the Big Ben has replaced its analogue face with a digital one... blinking at 12:00.
    • Near the start of Portal 2, the player enters a cubicle similar to the one where they began the original Portal. The original cubicle had a clock counting down the seconds to when the exit portal opened; in the deserted and overgrown version of Portal 2, the clock is now blinking 12:00.
    • Referenced on TimmyTurnersGrandDad in their two tributes to Games Done Quick - the place where the speedrun timer should be has a flashing 12:00 instead.

  • Gimmicked "interactive" filmgoing experiences: 3-D Movie has come back a few times, but what did not was everything else, up to and including systems of pulleys and winches that slung "ghosts" around the cinema to "heighten the experience", Smell-O-Vision (plus copycat AromaRama and John Waters' scratch-and-sniff variant "Odorama"), special visors that let you see or not see monsters on the screen, and an elaborate system that gave viewers in the audience joybuzzer-style "electric" shocks so that they would think they were under attack from the movie's monster.
    • Part of the plot of Matinee is kids going to one of these types of films during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It's implied that they served as escapism from the Cold War.
    • The idea of olfactory accompaniment for movies was even older; the "scent organ" in Brave New World was merely a futuristic extrapolation of what was already being done occasionally in musical revues of the late 1920s.
    • There has been one such idea that's been getting rolling lately: D-BOX theaters, where the seats shake in sync with the action on-screen. 4DX theaters do use scents, but their main selling points are other environmental effects like wind, rain, and fog in addition to the aforementioned seat motion.
    • This sort of technique has become very common in theme park attractions, even if your average movie theater doesn't bother with such stunts.
    • There's a whole segment in the 1977 The Kentucky Fried Movie built around this "Beyond 3-D!" gimmick, with an usher who plays out a romantic scene on the patron to the point of pulling a knife on him when the jilted onscreen lover discovers her paramour's infidelity. The cinemagoer rushes out before the next showing of Deep Throat can start.
    • Rugrats Go Wild! tried to bring back the scratch-and-sniff version of Smell-O-Vision in 2003, with indicators on-screen in the theatrical release corresponding to icons on promotional cards that were given out in places like Blockbuster and Burger King.
    • Spy Kids: All the Time in the World tried Smell-O-Vision again in 2011. It didn't really work.

  • Rock Bimbo: The "rock bimbo" was a trope that often appeared in comedy through the '80s and early '90s, based on perceptions of female fans of rock bands like Guns N' Roses and Aerosmith as attractive, shallow, dumb, promiscuous partiers and more often than not overlapping with stereotypes of the Valley Girl and images of the singer Madonna from the time. It went away completely with the rise of grunge rock in the '90s — not to mention the rise of alternative rock, which cemented the image of women in rock as musicians in their own right and not just groupies note  — although similar stereotypes about teenaged and college-aged women still surface. But at least the rock bimbo's look — long feathered hair, dark but skimpy clothing, and wearing lots of long necklaces topped by maybe a large crucifix — has long been a relic.
    • This shaped the portrayal of Kelly Bundy and her friends on Married... with Children after the first couple of seasons.
    • A big part of Julie Brown's comedy persona especially on the old skit comedy show The Edge.
    • The song "1985" by Bowling For Soup is about a woman stuck in the past, namely the year 1985, who is described as being this trope ("Where's the miniskirt made of snakeskin?/And who's the other guy singing in Van Halen?").
    • Found extensively throughout the cutscenes in the Aerosmith pinball machine, but considering its theme, this is very likely a throwback to the era of Aerosmith's music.

  • Not rewinding the tape gag: Another frequent gag of the 80s and 90s was an Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking or Felony Misdemeanor type joke (along the lines of the Mattress-Tag Gag) with the revelation that a villainous character had once returned a rented video without rewinding it. DVDs quickly killed this joke.

  • Teen girls' huge phone bills: Beginning in the 1950s and continuing into the Valley Girl in the 80s and 90s, part of the teenage-girl stereotype was having a phone in her room and jokes about the immense bills run upnote  and the impossibility of anyone else getting a chance to use the phone line. The "Princess phone" was actually invented partly for the "chatty teen" demographic. While the Phoneaholic Teenager part of this has stood the test of time, the joke about it being expensive bit the dust thanks to both The Internet and long-distance charges plummetting and then completely disappearing. Initially, it migrated to text messages instead of phone calls, but mobile plans with free texting similarly became cheaper and more ubiquitous, killing that branch too. It migrated yet again (perhaps even into its own territory) with the rise of smartphones and their applications. With teens (of both genders) seemingly being glued to their phones at all times (again, Phoneaholic Teenager) along with the rise of Allegedly Free Games full of Revenue-Enhancing Devices, this idea has found new but distinct life. Instead of calls or texts running up the phone bill, it is in-app purchases.

  • "Motherfucker" is a black word: The term "motherfucker" as a term used by African-Americans. It's noted by a lot of older folklore/analysis of humor books that it was an African-American-only term, and this stereotype turned up in jokes as late as the 1990s. For better or worse, it's become a mainstream curse word with no racial associations, beyond a strong association with black actor Samuel L. Jackson, who says it a lot.
    • There's a joke to the effect that this would be the title of an African-American adaptation of Oedipus the King.
    • One episode of set-in-the-1920s Boardwalk Empire shows its work when black gangster Chalky uses the word and white protagonist Nucky has never heard it before.
    • In the 1999 film The Green Mile, a Cajun character screams the word in a fit of anger... in the setting of 1930s Louisiana. While it's true that some Cajuns were racially mixed, this one certainly didn't look like he could be. It's probably just a case of Present-Day Past.
    • Kept alive (and subverted) by comic Bill Burr, who notes that nobody has a problem with a black guy speaking of an "Asian motherfucker", but Burr is regarded as a bigot when he talks about a "motherfucking Asian".
    • Educator James Herndon in The Way It Spozed To Be describes teaching in a segregated all-black school in California. The white men who ran things had a zero-tolerance policy on saying "motherfucker". They believed it was such a terrible insult that it would automatically start a fight. What they didn't realize was that the worst thing you could call someone was not motherfucker, but black. note 
    • In Slaughterhouse-Five, when Roland Weary calls Billy a "motherfucker", the narration notes that the word was "still a novelty in the speech of white people in 1944."

  • Evangelists in airports: Portraying airports as places where you could expect to be repeatedly accosted by evangelists, Hare Krishnas, political activists, and the like was rather common for a number of decades. This was because American airports were generally considered "public forums" for free speech purposes. A June 1992 Supreme Court ruling changed this, allowing airport authorities to make reasonable regulations to avoid congestion and disruption to air travelers. The War on Terror and the increased security measures that came with it got rid of this type of airport annoyance for good.
    • While the scene is still funny, some of the vicarious thrill of Robert Stack's Foe-Tossing Charge in Airplane! is lost on a modern audience. A 1980s traveler really did have to pass through similar gauntlets of airport attention-seekers, and probably wanted to handle them in Rex Kramer's no-nonsense fashion. However, even if the setting is unfamiliar, the behaviour itself is recognisable to anyone who's ever walked down a pedestrianized high street.
    • There are even some episodes of The Simpsons that get in on this. Homer makes fun of all the people imploring him to love his neighbor until the two at the end of the line persuade him to join a cult. Another Simpsons episode inverted the trope with two American missionaries in suits showing up in an airport in India and a Hare-Krishna muttering: "Oh, great... Christians."
    • This was parodied in Osmosis Jones, where the Stomach is depicted as an airport full of arrivals. Near the bottom of the escalators where passengers get off are Hair Cell Krishnas. According to the commentary, test audiences got a kick out of them due to how silly they look and act but didn't really understand the reference.
    • At the beginning of One-Trick Pony, the protagonist is accosted by a Hare Krishna in an airport, to his irritation.
      Hare Krishna: You said that your mind is troubled. Why don't you check it out, brother?
      Jonah: You know, this is such a minor point, I hate even to bring it up, but I have a brother.
      Hare Krishna: We're all brothers.
      Jonah: No, I mean I have a real brother.
      Hare Krishna: We're all real brothers.

  • Inferior Japanese products: For a few years after World War II, there was the stereotype that any product made in Japan was very cheap and of poor quality. We can see this trope was alive as late as the '70s, (e.g., Miles Monroe shouting "Goddamn Japanese model!" in Sleeper). This is even referenced in Back to the Future Part III, where 1955 Doc Brown doesn't seem surprised when a circuit failed since it was made in Japan (Marty then makes it clear that in his time, the best products are actually made in Japan; words that truly shock Doc Brown). Around the '80s, thanks to Japan's economic rise, this image changed, and cutting-edge technology and high quality are usually what people associate with Japanese products. Sure, maybe the idea of Japan Takes Over the World was a li'l too much, but it is still regarded as a superpower that excels in a lot of industries, especially cars and electronic devices.
    • In his book Dave Barry Does Japan, Dave expounds on this idea (excerpt here) with "Back then, of course, we thought all Japanese products were cheap... The suggestion that Japan could make real cars would have been laughable." He then describes how slowly more and more quality Japanese products were being imported until it was too late and Americans were hooked.
    • Good Omens takes advantage of this trope's fall from grace. Newton Pulsifer's car, the Wasabi, was created during the awkward period where Japanese manufacturing was transitioning between the old and new stereotypes. As such, the Wasabi apparently combines the worst aspects of Western cars with a host of spectacular and innovative design failures that made it the perfect template of what not to do going forward for all the major companies.
    • The modern equivalent of this is technology made in China (specifically Hong Kong), where for a long time, products were made so cheaply, with such poor attention to detail, that many Westerners would outright avoid Chinese Manufacturers. This was unfair, as there are good manufacturers in China — it's just the best workers have worked for Western companies over there due to them being most profitable. The image is starting to improve, with such technology as Huawei phones being popular worldwide, and the low price points being a selling point.

  • All Old Folks Like Matlock: A common joke in sitcoms and stand-up routines was to make fun of how old people like that show. Of course, nowadays it's hard to find anyone not only using the joke but even remembering the show at all, as this demographic has long since passed away.
    • Almost Live! expanded this to include people in southern King County, which was a predominantly white, blue-collar, working-class area looked down upon as a bunch of uncouth hicks by urban Seattle during the show's run.
    • This is a borderline Running Gag with the old folks in The Simpsons. Abe loves the show so much that he demands that the Simpsons' home be destroyed in "Sideshow Bob Roberts" because it is blocking the route of the "Matlock Expressway".
      Lisa: How can you people turn on snakes after all they've done for you?
      Grampa: I'm an old man, I hate everything but Matlock. Ooh, it's on now.
    • A bizarre variation of this trope happens in the How I Met Your Mother episode "Last Time in New York" (originally aired in 2013). In that episode, the actor Mandy Patinkin is shown to be like catnip to the elderly, with the mere mention of his name attracting droves of them. The gag is quite similar to the older Matlock jokes, but it remains unclear why Mandy Patinkin of all people would work as a 2010s substitute for Matlock.
    • A similar mentality used to persist regarding game shows, but a more youthful approach to the genre over the years (glitzier sets, younger and/or more attractive hosts, physically and/or mentally demanding gameplay formats conducive to 20- to 30-something contestants) has helped put this trope to rest. Also helping was the rise of game shows targeted at children, most notably Double Dare.
    • The parody political cartoons from The Onion have one strip bashing internet-loving teens because "computers don't have Matlock".
    • Shows up in one episode of The Venture Brothers, with Pete White and Billy Quizboy insulting Rusty, calling him old, asking him if he had to take a break to watch Matlock.
    • This appears in Better Call Saul, where Jimmy painstakingly apes Matlock's look because he's specializing in elder law and hopes to appeal to those kind of clients. This makes sense given that the series takes place in the early 2000s, where this trope had yet to be completely forgotten.

  • Surrogate Cool Big Brother: Characters in anime and manga, that is, older characters who hung around with younger characters who weren't necessarily related to them, but went on exciting adventures with them anyway, were fairly big in the early days of Shonen demographic manga as well as some tokusatsu, such as Goro and Hiroshi in Godzilla vs. Megalon. This trope was killed for twofold reasons: The changing family dynamic in Japanese culture after the '70s were over, and the fact that adult men hanging around child characters in dangerous situations constantly is frowned upon heavily. In addition, the character dynamics of many, such as the aforementioned Goro and Hiroshi, simply leads modern audiences to think that the "big bros" are simply a gay couple with an adopted child. If this ever shows up in a modern work, expect the kid to be more mature than the adult(s).

  • The Fox Network as "a hard-core sex channel" (in the words of Marge Simpson): Well into the 1990s, media commentators would commonly refer to "the Fox edge" — the willingness of the "fourth" network owned by Rupert Murdoch to air programming depicting sex, violence, and general antisocial behavior with a frankness hitherto not seen on American television. Married... with Children set the template in 1987 with the sociopathic Bundy family, and they were followed soon enough by The Simpsons (who themselves weren't above poking fun at this trope). Indeed, later in the '90s when Fox premiered Ally McBeal (a show about a quirky female attorney), they joked that for once they were going to focus on a woman's mind instead of her body. Although by then, NBC and to a lesser extent ABC began relaxing their S&Ps regarding sex, and CBS (the network most traditionally associated with "family values") caught up in terms of sensationalism in the early 2000s, primarily with Survivor (the Trope Codifier for all the reality shows that followed), and after hitting a nadir in the mid-late 2000s, Fox toned down these aspects in tune with its competitors. Add to that how premium cable and on-demand services go even further than broadcast TV ever can, and how its earlier series seem less risqué as time goes on. The notoriously right-wing stance of Fox News Channel has also made Fox's former image a little ironic.

  • Gay Men Really Love Their Mommies: In pop culture of decades past, there was a perceived correlation between a man being gay and having a very unhealthy attachment to his mother. Best seen in the novelization and a deleted scene from the movie of Back to the Future, where Marty, anticipating what might happen on his date with Lorraine, fears it might turn him gay (the punchline being the Doc being clueless about that usage of the term). The 1990s changed this perception, with really late examples in 1993's The Powers That Be, in which the senator's illegitimate daughter, upon learning that a guest likes long walks on the beach with his mother, immediately asks if he's gay, and an episode of Black Books from 2000 where Fran, on a date with a closeted gay man, uses the fact that he calls his mother frequently as supporting evidence of his homosexuality. Now, this trope is so far forgotten that the writer of this Cracked article expresses genuine confusion in his discussion of the deleted BTTF scene.
    • One episode of The Critic has Duke assuming Jay is close to his mother because he's gay. He isn't, and he isn't.

  • The Check's In the Mail: Once a valid excuse as to why a debt for a loan or service has not been paid, it later evolved into jokes about said excuses. The joke was, of course, "the mail is slow, blame them". As technology improved and the internet took off, however, there were numerous ways to transfer money instantly. As such, a "check's in the mail" joke is almost never used now, though regionally it still sees some use as a coldly sarcastic idiom meaning "I have no intention of paying you".
    • In an episode of the dramatized court series The Judge, Judge Franklin noted to a business owner, "'The check is in the mail' is an old and very lame excuse."
    • A song from "Weird Al" Yankovic's first album, appropriately titled "The Check's In The Mail", plays with this excuse and others to satirize the dismissive, impersonal attitude of Hollywood show-business executives. Because of the song's reliance on this and other phrases from the late 70's/early 80's, Al has dismissed the song as horrendously dated in the decades since.

  • New fathers: Pacing anxiously in the waiting room as their wives are in labor and delivery. Most new fathers are right in there beside Mama these days, watching it happen. Also, no more gazing through the big glass window, with all the other new fathers, asking each other "Which one is yours?" Modern hospitals room the little sweeties in with the mothers, where dads and grandparents can visit. Only babies needing special care stay in the nursery, and for security and privacy reasons, viewing of the newborn nursery is no longer open to outsiders.

  • Ringing twice: The practice of dialing someone's phone number, waiting for the phone to ring exactly once, hanging up, then immediately calling the same number again. This was done as a way to let the person receiving the call know that it was someone they knew on the other end of the line. It was common practice to let someone know you were going to do this beforehand, and the phrase "I'll ring you twice" was found as late as the 1990s in fiction. The advent of Caller ID killed the need to ring twice and the practice disappeared from fiction as a result. It can still be valid today due to the "do not disturb" setting having a option to not mute a second call, making the ring trace option useful if you are calling at night time.

  • Thin Envelope, Thick Envelope: In stories where characters are applying to colleges, a bit of old lore is sometimes mentioned that a college acceptance letter will be nice and fat, containing all manner of information for the prospective student. A rejection letter, on the other hand, will usually be very thin as all the information required is a form letter informing the applicant of rejection. While this chestnut certainly did hold a certain amount of Truth in Television at one time, in the 21st century this has become less and less common as universities are moving towards using less paper and relying more on the Internet and other paperless methods to distribute information. Likewise, this trope is likely to continue to become used even less than it had been previously.

  • Personal Computers Are Useless: The early years of personal computing had hobbyists and professionals being the focus of marketers and developers. Thus, we have the idea in fiction that a computer is little more than an overpriced, useless gizmo that does little more than simple mathematical calculations, and that people bought them not for their usefulness, but as status symbols. The period of time before graphic user interfaces also had them being incredibly hard to use, and jokes were often made at the expense of their limited application (balancing bank accounts, writing notes, keeping time). Of course, as personal computers grew in popularity, their utility became obvious, but the trope may be Evolving toward a comeback as smartphones and tablets replace traditional computers for many casual users. Desktops today are increasingly seen as the realm of those interested in raw computing power over portability- the tools of scientists, Playful Hackers, and digital artists, and the toys of the Tech Bro and hardcore gamer.
  • Honest Televangelists: After just about every televangelist was caught up in a sex or financial scandal in the late 1980s, changing the cultural tropes just about overnight. A modern televangelist is typically portrayed as a Sinister Minister / Greedy Televangelist heading a Corrupt Church at best, and as a Pedophile Priest at worst. Even modern works such as The Righteous Gemstones that make attempts to humanize such individuals still portray them as corrupt and hypocritical.
  • Join the French Foreign Legion to disappear, No Questions Asked: Not anymore. While you can still get a new identity as a French citizen, you may also opt to keep your real name. However, while the Legion still doesn't care about where you come from, the days of the Legion not caring at all about your past or record are long over. The Foreign Legion does not take anyone who is a wanted criminal. All applicants are screened and subjected to thorough background checks as well as interviews to judge their character. Minor criminal records (misdemeanors and some lower level felonies) may be excused if the applicant conducts himself in a way that shows taking responsibility. You should, however, likely expect to be rejected outright if you were a career criminal who has been in and out of prison.
  • Unisex Romance Game: In the late 90s and very early 2000s, there was a subgenre of Romance Game that proliferated on Japanese consoles that allowed the player to choose the gender of the protagonist, with their love interests changing to match. In spite of their unisex target audience, these games were overwhelmingly played by women due to the otome market being in its infancy and there being no shortage of bishojo games for male audiences. With the massive success of otome game Genre Popularizer Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side in 2002, developers realized they were better off cutting the male protagonist option entirely in favor of targeting women exclusively, leaving the Unisex Romance Game a mere footnote in the history of Japanese otome games. The closest the contemporary Japanese game industry has to these sorts of games are ones where you can choose the protagonist's gender with romance only being a side feature, such as Story of Seasons or Summon Night. Note that this is only a forgotten genre in Japan, ever since The New '10s Unisex Romance Games thrive in the western indie scene, and they usually have more LGBT inclusive options.