Follow TV Tropes


Genre Throwback

Go To

"Overdrive is a street crime movie set in today's San Francisco, okay? It's one of those throwback movies to the 70s exploitation films. Bombs, car chases, afros, hot chicks, windsurfing, space shuttle, okay?"
Robert Rodino, Stuntman: Ignition

Remember back in the day, when there was that prevalent, cheaply made form of entertainment that was So Bad, It's Good, or at least good but dated? Wouldn't you like to bring it back?

Well, if you're in Hollywood and you have a high enough profile, you can. And you can do it better with a brand-new franchise, better special effects, better actors, a better budget and (it is hoped) better writing. If the old form of entertainment has been deconstructed, then this work will probably feature a lot of reconstructing.

If especially successful, this can result in a game of Follow the Leader as everyone else begins mining the past (or, more frequently, ripping off the successful modern version) in the hope that lightning will strike twice. If these follow-ups are of poor quality, or if there's just too many of them (or both as is often the case), then it can result in the genre being thrown right back in the trash until someone else decides it's worth reviving.


If done especially well, it can hide the fact that it is a throwback. It is only upon reviewing its similarity to past incarnations that the connection is made. Compare Older Than They Think.

Note this should not cover instances of a specific franchise being brought back, e.g., the later incarnations of Star Trek or Doctor Who, or the Flash Gordon movie. This trope is much closer to a Spiritual Successor than an actual Continuity Reboot or Revival.

Related: Affectionate Parody. Two-Fisted Tales is a Sub-Trope. And nothing to do with Evolutionary Levels, we promise.

Compare Retraux, Genre Deconstruction.



    open/close all folders 

  • The hot dog-based fast food chain, Wienerschnitzel, has been making a series of animated commercials that are this for animated ads of the 60s.

    Anime & Manga 

  • During the late '90s and '00s, there was a boom in vehicle design designed to evoke older periods of such, driven partly as a backlash against the wind-tunnel-carved lines of cars in the late '80s and early-mid '90s.
    • The Volkswagen New Beetle, which helped kick off the trend, was intended as a modernization of the classic VW Bug of The '50s and The '60s. This car wound up influencing the relaunched Mini Cooper and Fiat 500, both of which did the same with their vintage compact namesakes.
    • The Chrysler PT Cruiser and Plymouth Prowler were throwbacks to '30s coupes that, in the '50s, were souped up into hot rods by their secondhand owners.
    • The Chevrolet HHR (designed by the same engineer as the PT Cruiser) was a throwback to '40s/'50s trucks and panel vans.
    • The Chrysler 300 was inspired by '50s American luxobarge sedans.
    • The fifth-generation Ford Mustang and the relaunched Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger were meant to hearken back to '60s muscle cars, most notably their namesakes.

    Board Games 

    Comic Books 
  • Justice is Superfriends with the Camp and Token Minority Ethnic Scrappy characters removed.
  • In that vein, Darwyn Cooke's DC: The New Frontier, set in the '40s, '50s, and 60s amidst the climate of the Cold War, nuclear testing, and the civil rights movement.
  • Within Grant Morrison's Batman, the post-Final Crisis/Batman RIP series Batman And Robin has quickly established itself as something of a throwback to the Batman TV series.
  • Alan Moore loves these.
    • 1963 is a sendup of early Marvel comics, especially those of Stan Lee (Moore was able to replicate Lee's Purple Prose and self-promotion abilities perfectly).
    • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen does this for several genres and periods, albeit with a darker edge.
    • The first six issues of Tom Strong each featured a flashback done as a pastiche of an earlier age of comics.
    • In Supreme. Moore not only recreates the Silver Age Superman atmosphere, but also brings back all the different decades and styles including '80s grim n gritty, Captain Marvel Family, and EC comics stories just to name a few.
    • Watchmen isn't one of these. The in-story Tales of the Black Freighter comic, on the other hand, is, homaging the old EC Comics horror/mystery titles of The '50s. The horror/mystery genre never completely died outnote , but after the rise of The Comics Code they were pushed to the margins while superhero comics like Batman and Superman took over the mainstream of the medium. Tales of the Black Freighter was Moore's take on what the best-selling comic in a world without superhero comics would look like.
  • Planetary throws in pastiches of comic book genres that were popular in the 1950s (sci-fi, pulp adventure, western, horror, etc.) before being almost completely eclipsed by the superhero genre in The Silver Age of Comic Books.
  • Matt Fraction's Casanova is this for the psychedelic spy comics of the sixties.
  • Marvel had a whole small line dedicated to reinterpreting its properties including Spider-Man in Film Noir and Pulp settings.
  • Sin City is a rare example of a cross-medium throwback. The series takes its cues from Film Noir books and films, as well as Exploitation Films, despite being a comic book series. It was eventually made into a movie where the homages were perhaps more apparent.
  • Morning Glories: Genre Savvy teen-centered Horror from The '90s.
  • The 2013 Captain America series was done in the style of 60s/70s Jack Kirby comics, with plot points heavily connected to the Vietnam War, outlandish villains, and crazy technology.
  • Astro City wears its indebtedness to The Silver Age of Comic Books on its sleeve.
  • Immortal Hulk is heavily inspired by Atomic Age horror comics and by the earliest portrayal of the Hulk by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but with a contemporary spin.
  • 2019's Absolute Carnage is a deliberate homage to appeal to '90s nostalgia, specifically inspired by the 1993 Maximum Carnage. It's dark, gritty, the artwork is like a modernized version of the old, features prominent use of symbiotes, has numerous tie-ins with many different heroes teaming up, and of course, Carnage is the Big Bad. All of these things bring 1993 to mind more than 2019.
  • Young Justice: The 1998 original at least, with it's younger cast, emphasis on wacky villains and character based comedy, can be seen as a return to the tone of the original Silver Age Teen Titans, occasionally balanced out with the serialized drama of the Wolfman/Perez run.

  • The 1970s fashion house Biba pays homage to 1920s and 1930s Art Deco aesthetics.
  • Christian Dior's New Look collection in the late 1940s throws back Edwardian elegance that had been lost during both world wars.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

Multiple Films

Individual films


    Live-Action TV 

  • The genre of Synthwave Electro (which includes such labels as Rosso Corsa Records and electro acts such as Kavinsky and Power Glove) is a genre throwback to synth-heavy '80s film soundtracks. The soundtracks to films such as Drive and Kung Fury, and games such as Hotline Miami and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (which are themselves throwbacks to '80s action films), provide very good examples.
  • She & Him (Zooey Deschanel's band) — '60s and '70s pop.
  • Composer Erich Korngold was critically panned in Europe because his music was a throwback to the lush romantic era of classical music, while his contemporaries like Igor Stravinsky were composing aggressive, challenging pieces like "The Rite of Spring". However, he found his place in Hollywood and with his film music, defined the lush sound of the movie soundtrack.
  • John Williams in turn reintroduced the sweeping orchestral soundtrack to films with his Star Wars scores in the '70s.
  • The 12-member big band-style group (they call themselves a "little orchestra" instead) Pink Martini, who play jazz, lounge music and old-fashioned pop.
  • The B-52s' 1979 breakthrough single "Rock Lobster" is neat one to 1960s beach party surf rock.
  • Christina Aguilera's 2006 single "Candyman" is one to 1930's and 40's swing dance boogie-woogie pop and jump blues reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters.
  • Mark Ronson is doing his best to revive Motown-era singles and electro/synth-funk (early '80s funk).
  • Bruno Mars, as of his second album, Unorthodox Jukebox, has built up an image as being a specialist in old-school throwback songs.
    • "Treasure" (2012) is a throwback to '70s funk and soul.
    • "Locked Out of Heaven" (2012), at least in its verses, recalls the late-70s sound of The Police.
    • "Uptown Funk" (2014): '80s "Prince-style Minneapolis Sound" Synth-Funk (in collaboration with Mark Ronson, see above).
    • "24K Magic" (2016): '80s/'90s Electro-Funk Hip-Hop/R&B.
    • "Finesse" (2016): Late '80s/Early '90s New Jack Swing.
  • Kat Edmonson, whose music is very reminiscent of old-fashioned, Dusty Springfield-style country ballads.
  • Also, singers such as Duffy and the late Amy Winehouse, who have thrived on their "old-fashioned" sound.
  • John Barrowman's albums recall the days of Andy Williams and Dean Martin, with show-tunes.
  • Wolfmother for '70s stoner rock and Heavy Metal.
  • Brian Setzer did one for rockabilly with The Stray Cats, and later one for swing music with the Brian Setzer Orchestra.
  • Cee Lo Green's famous hit song "Fuck You!" is a throwback towards '60s era Motown Soul music.
  • Pharrell's 2013 song "Happy" is somewhat reminiscent of upbeat, jazzy Motown R&B/rock 'n' roll of the late 50s/early 60s. Pharell's singing has been compared to that of the late Curtis Mayfield.
  • Sweden’s Änglagård play a pastiche of early 70s prog rock that is surprisingly convincing, thanks in part to an almost slavish use of vintage 1970s musical instruments.
  • The Black Keys sound more at home in the late '70s than the early 21st century.
  • The Darkness is an '80s-style glam metal band that broke into the mainstream around 2003.
  • The Reckless Love does much the same, its first album coming out a little later in 2010. The third album, Spirit, is as obvious a tribute to 80s glam as it gets.
  • Big Star: The British Invasion-styled guitar pop at the height of Progressive Rock.
  • The Black Crowes: Blues Rock/Hard Rock band whose first album was released in 1990. They sound more like The Rolling Stones than their contemporaries Nirvana. Alice Cooper applauded them as a "band out of time".
  • The whole 90s Swing Revival was an attempt to bring jump blues and Big Band swing of the 30s and 40s back to the mainstream by infusing them with modern pop elements. The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies were the big names in that scene, with the latter's "Zoot Suit Riot" being the biggest commercial hit. The movement fizzled out sometime in the new millennium, but several of the bands are still making music.
  • The Neo-Soul genre was a throwback to smooth '70s soul.
  • Speaking of Neo-Soul, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are a throwback to '60s/'70s soul and funk.
  • Birdeatsbaby's music video "Feast of Hammers" throws back to Hammer Horror movies.
  • Ariana Grande and Tori Kelly's music are a throwback to '90s R&B, of the likes of Mariah Carey.
  • The Heavy Metal genres Power Metal and Melodic Death Metal are both throwbacks to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal of the late '70s and early '80s, though melodeath obviously incorporates Death Metal elements.
  • Eminem's single "Berserk" is a throwback to old '90s rap — primarily the Beastie Boys, even using a rock-based sample, as the boys were wont to do (though the influences range from Public Enemy to N.W.A.).
  • The "Confiteor" in J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor was written to evoke Gregorian Chant, which was already ancient by Bach's time, and late into the movement a Gregorian Chant-style cantus firmus appears, accentuated above the rest of the voices.
  • Dead Sara is a throwback to Grunge and 90s female-fronted Alternative Rock depending on the song.
  • Black Veil Brides is a new millennium Hair Metal band, though they do tend to mix it with more modern sounds.
  • The music video for "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys is a throwback homage to '70s television show intros, including spinning scenery shots, people jumping over the hood of cars and cheesy mustaches.
  • Issues is a throwback to '90s R&B and Nu Metal, while mixed with modern Metalcore.
  • Royal Blood is a throwback to '70s Hard Rock, Blues Rock, and Garage Rock.
  • Hollywood Undead, particularly in their later albums, is a throwback to late '90s Nu Metal/Rap Rock.
  • Hozier is this to early Blues music.
  • Meghan Trainor's style (mostly on her debut album Title) is very reminiscent of '50s doowop, with hints of '60s Motown thrown in.
  • Clairity's style is a fusion of '80s Synth-Pop and '90s Hip-Hop/R&B.
  • Future Islands are a throwback to Motown Soul as well as New Wave.
  • DIIV sound like a Post-Punk band out of the late '70s/early '80s such as The Cure.
  • Salt Ashes is one to early-mid '90s Vocal House and UK Garage.
  • Ariel Pink is a psychedelic lo-fi indie pop artist whose recordings hearken back to '70s and '80s music.
  • 5 Seconds of Summer's brand of Pop Punk/Power Pop is more akin to the likes of Green Day, blink-182, and All Time Low, whom they've been accused of ripping off, than the brand found in their peers. Makes sense, since they're directly inspired by them.
  • Porter Robinson's work under the VIRTUAL SELF alias is inspired by Y2K-era trance and video game music. The result wouldn't feel out of place in the early Dance Dance Revolution games.
  • Greta Van Fleet embraces the bluesy hard rock of The '70s played by the likes of Led Zeppelin, with front-man Josh Kiszka in particular sounding just like Robert Plant.
  • The Post-Punk revival scene of the 2000s, led by bands like The White Stripes, The Strokes, and The Hives, was a throwback to '60s Garage Rock, embracing stripped-down, old-school guitar rock influences as a backlash against the dominance of Nu Metal in the US and post-Britpop in the UK.
  • On that note, Britpop itself was driven heavily by nostalgia for '60s British Invasion bands and '70s Glam Rock and Punk Rock. In particular, Oasis, one of the biggest bands in Britpop, leaned heavily on the musical style and popular image of The Beatles for inspiration.
  • Raphael Saadiq's album The Way I See It was a loving tribute to the Motown sound. His next album, Stone Rollin', lost some of the Motown but added a rock and funk tone.
  • The Cristina Vee song "Party Corgi" echoes late 90s bubblegum dance a la Aqua and Caramell, as well as mid-2000s Cascada-style hands-up dance.
  • Wristmeetrazor, SeeYouSpaceCowboy, and .gif from god are throwbacks to the type of mathcore and mathgrind that was popular on MySpace and a mainstay of VFW and Elks Lodge shows in the early 2000s, inviting comparisons to acts like Norma Jean, The Bled, The Number Twelve Looks Like You, Fear Before the March of Flames, and The Fall of Troy. Furthermore, SeeYouSpaceCowboy's The Correlation Between Entrance and Exit Wounds wound up being a different type of throwback to very early melodic metalcore ala 7 Angels 7 Plagues, Poison the Well, and mid-era Zao, and Connie Sgarbossa confirmed that that was a deliberate choice.
  • Angelmaker is a throwback to the heavier side of MySpace deathcore from the mid to late 2000s, with a sound somewhat comparable to acts like Molotov Solution, And Hell Followed With, A Different Breed of Killer, and very early Fit For An Autopsy.
  • Vandal Moon are an homage to old-school Goth Rock and Dark Wave acts such as Bauhaus, Clan of Xymox, The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy, etc.

  • WhizBang Pinball's Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons was made by cannibalizing parts from a 1957 electro-mechanical pinball, then using the components in an all-new playfield design with original art and modern imaging techniques. The result is a boutique pinball table that plays like it stepped out of The '50s with a modern look.
  • Data East's Time Machine invokes this when the player reaches The '50s — the dot-matrix display shows the scoring reels of an electro-mechanical pinball while the game plays analog sounds from a chimebox.
  • ScoreGasm Master takes it to an extreme: This is a modern take on Williams' Contact Master from 1934, before pinball flippers and bumpers were invented and very close to its bagatelle roots. The difference is that it is made using materials, manufacturing equipment, and electronic parts available in 2015, with modern-looking artwork and sound.
  • The remakes of Medieval Madness and Attack from Mars use LCDs, but for most of the game simulate the dot-matrix displays that the original games used. During parts of the game where the player does not have control of the ball, more high-definition graphics are used.
  • Total Nuclear Annihilation, in addition to its retraux aesthetics, was inspired by early-'80s Bally games. It features a relatively sparse playfield that places emphasis on the actual gameplay, which forgoes standard mode progression in favor of simpler goals (that are nonetheless difficult to execute).


  • The current home park of Major League Baseball's Baltimore Orioles, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, was built in 1992 as a throwback to stadiums built early in the 20th century, as opposed to more modernized stadiums of recent decades. The park was an instant hit, and sparked a trend in retro baseball stadiums for the next two decades.
  • Baseball jerseys as of the 10s feature buttons and simple color patterns. These originated in the 80s as throwbacks to earlier decades, and a deliberate contrast to baseball jerseys of that time.
  • In 2016, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson did a tongue-in-cheek homage to sports posters of The '80s, which featured big-name athletes in ridiculous setups and outfits designed to portray them as Rated M for Manly badasses.
  • NASCAR has designated the Southern 500 at Darlington as a throwback weekend. Teams bring cars dressed in old-fashioned paint schemes from the early decades of NASCAR. And NASCAR on NBC goes a step further in that the standard booth team of Rick Allen, Jeff Burton, Steve Letarte and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. step aside for about an hour of the race and let Ken Squier and father-and-son Ned and Dale Jarrett call the action.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): George Lucas Throwback


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: