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"Mister Sandman" Sequence

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"Let's take a look back at the year 1928. The year when you might have seen Al Capone dancing the Charleston on top of a flagpole."
Kent Brockman, The Simpsons

A scene in a Period Piece that hits the viewer with as many period signifiers as possible. The scene exists to quickly establish the "feel" of the time period, and it will almost always feature a period song (typically one that is still popular in the present) playing on the film's soundtrack. More or less, it's Popular History condensed into a sequence usually less than two minutes long.

These are most commonly (and, generally, most effectively) utilized in films and shows about Time Travel (especially when the characters frequently travel between different eras, thus making quickly establishing the time period a necessity).

Compare Spinning Paper and Eiffel Tower Effect. When a scene in a work set in the present day becomes this in hindsight, then you've got an Unintentional Period Piece. See also Progressive Era Montage. Contrast Right Now Montage, which uses Slice of Life moments as establishing scenes.


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  • A 2009 Pepsi commercial depicts young folks consuming their product through the decades, from the turn of the century to the present. Each decade is shown as you'd expect: flappers in the '20s, returning World War II soldiers in the '40s, hippie protesters in the '60s, etc. The ad is accompanied by a remixed version of The Who's "My Generation"; in a nifty touch, the song's arrangement changes with each decade to reflect that given era.
  • A 2008 Hovis bread advert does this, involving a kid running through recent British history with a loaf of bread. As above, each decade is represented by something iconic; suffragettes, both wars, the Coronation, the 66 World Cup squad, immigration, the miners' strike and the millennium celebrations. The kid's outfit also changes, at first subtly, with the cut of his jacket changing from Victorian to Edwardian, and then more obviously, such as the vividly striped jumper and wide collar he's sporting in the Seventies.
  • There was a Chevy Volt ad that did the same thing, but focusing on one plot of land.
  • Also a Mercedes-Benz commercial called "Timeless." Various model Benzes drive through the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80's and '90s to a version of "Unchained Melody" which seamlessly changes musical style for each decade.
  • Langham Hotel's 2007 commercial does a backward variation where a butler retrogrades through time from the present day up to the hotel's founding. There, the butler does most of the services to prominent guests such as Winston Churchill, King Edward VIII (then Prince of Wales in the 1920s), Oscar Wilde and Emperor Napoleon III of France. And then cue a slight awkward reaction from the butler and the guests while a contemporary phone he kept is ringing on the grand opening in 1865.
  • A Polish beer commercial utilized this trope with a local twist. Out of four-five time periods shownnote , one is a dreary wintery mess with men in uniforms standing next to an APC. This specifically recalls the period of martial law in early '80s, not quite the cheesy disco era.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Yoshihiro Tatsumi's A Drifting Life does several of these sequences to illustrate Japan's recovery from World War II.
  • The very first sequence in Taishō Baseball Girls establishes the atmosphere of 1920s Japan. It's all in Koume's head, though.
  • Young Black Jack starts with a sequence mentioning the political issues Japan was having in the 1960s.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics did a few stories extolling the virtues of The Gay '90s that where essentially this trope on the comics page (so no soundtrack).
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was positively littered with visual references to the time periods in which its various arcs were set, especially during Century.
  • During their first few minutes in New York circa 1907, the Runaways read a newspaper about Typhoid Mary, walk past an Emma Goldman expy, and intervene in a fire in a factory staffed by child labor.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Air, set in 1984, begins with a montage of clips of news and pop culture from that year set to "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits (which is a bit anachronistic as the song was released in 1985, but the filmmakers thought it worked so well that they had to use it).
  • Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) features the camera lingering on a newspaper with a period-distinguishing headline, before panning out at the beginning of a scene. They do this not once but twice, although it's probably less to establish the period itself and more to show how much time James Cagney's character spends in prison.
  • The trailer for The Artist (2011) establishes the period with a peppy dance number.
  • A few of these can be found in the Austin Powers movies. Very much in the Affectionate Parody vein.
  • Back to the Future:
    • Named for the scene in the original film when Marty McFly enters Hill Valley in 1955 to find that the town square is completely decked out to reflect The '50s. The period song "Mister Sandman," as performed by the Four Aces, plays over this scene.
    • Similar sequences appear for 2015 Hill Valley, 1985-A Hill Valley, and 1885 Hill Valley, the former two in movie two, and the latter in movie three respectively. 1985-A is set to "I Can't Drive 55" by Sammy Hagar, but the other two don't get songs. The 1885 sequence includes a small harmonica bit of the BTTF theme tune, when Marty is looking at the courthouse in construction.
    • The "Power of Love" scene in Part I was initially included to show Marty going about his normal life before the adventure begins (and to establish the contrast of time periods between the '50s and '80s), but 30+ years after the release of the film, it now serves to establish the very '80s world he is trying to return to.
    • "Mr. Sandman" is played once again in Part II, when Marty tails young Biff to retrieve the Gray's Sports Almanac, though it's shorter than Marty's first walk into 1955 Hill Valley and doesn't have the same emphasis on 1950s culture. Ditto for the scene after Part III's Previously on… cold opening, which uses the quintessentially-1950s Howdy Doody on Doc's black and white television to briefly remind viewers that they're still in 1955.
    • Used in Episode 1 and Episode 3 of the Telltale Games adaptation, for 1931 and alternate 1986 respectively. Both recreate the moment where Marty almost gets hit by a car while crossing the street to the town square.
    • In the DVD commentary for Part II, it's mentioned that they'd considered using "Papa Loves Mambo" by Perry Como before deciding on "Mister Sandman". So instead, "Papa Loves Mambo" appears in Part II playing on 1955 Biff's car radio as he's driving to the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance.
  • Blue Velvet is not set in the '50s, but its opening montage of white picket fences, rose gardens, and people watering their lawns - all set to Bobby Vinton's "Blue Velvet, naturally - establishes a very retro-'50s tone and Suburban Gothic setting.
  • Inverted in The Brady Bunch Movie: the film opens with a series of snapshots of mid-'90s L.A. (grunge music, cell phones, burnt-out panhandlers, etc.), the better to establish how out of place the stuck-in-the-'70s Brady clan is. As the years pass, this montage is becoming more and more an inadvertently straight example of the trope (and the film as a whole as much of an Unintentional Period Piece as the show it's mocking).
  • The Color of Friendship makes it known that it's set in the 1977 from the get-go by having L.TD.'s "Back In Love" as the intro song.
  • The Departed has a strange use of one of these: In the opening scene, The Rolling Stones are on the soundtrack, all the cars look ancient, and Nicholson is doing a voice-over about Kennedy... for a scene that apparently takes place in 1989. You'd think that if they really wanted music to set the scene, they could've had Marky Mark call in a connection there.
  • To drive home the fact that The Dish is centred around the Apollo 11 mission, it opens with a montage of the Apollo program up to that point (including the Apollo 1 disaster) set to Russell Morris's "The Real Thing", a song that's definitively 1969 Australia; eventually segueing into an establishing shot of the Parkes radiotelescope.
  • A Dog's Purpose uses this. For example, you can tell Maya's portion takes place in The '80s by "Take on Me" being used.
  • An odd example comes in the Hammer Horror film Dracula A.D. 1972. The film opens with a prologue set in 1872 and then jumps into an opening title montage of scenery from 1972 London to demonstrate that this is indeed 1972 now. What's weird about it is that the movie was released in 1972, the audience should really know what it looks like.
  • The mall montage in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, set to "We Got The Beat" by The Go-Go's is another presumably unintentional, then-present-day example.
  • In Field of Dreams, Ray is briefly transported back to 1972 so he can talk with Moonlight Graham. The first things he sees are a theater marquee for The Godfather and a Richard Nixon re-election poster.
  • The entire movie Forrest Gump is (and aims to be) one big Mister Sandman Sequence, with the title character blundering his way into nearly every major event and prominent fad of the late 20th century. Of course, both Forrest Gump and the Back to the Future films were directed by Robert Zemeckis.
  • Gone with the Wind starts with scenes from the Old South, or leastways Hollywood's interpretation of it.
  • The Animated Credits Opening to Grease includes flashes of numerous iconic '50s pop-culture images.
  • Hot Tub Time Machine has one of these when the four protagonists reach the ski lodge and realize that it's The '80s. Featuring leg warmers, Reagan, '80s Hair, Miami Vice T-shirts, cassette players, cell phones the size of bricks, MTV playing music videos, and more to set the mood all with Nu Shooz's "I Can't Wait" blasting in the backdrop.
    Nick: What color is Michael Jackson?
    Girl: Black?
    Nick: <runs screaming>
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is set in 1957. To firmly establish it, the opening scene is set to Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog." In addition, there are teenagers in sweaters and a guy in a letter jacket with a buzzcut, racing in a hot rod. All possibly in Homage to American Graffiti.
  • Invincible, the 2006 Vince Papale biopic starring Mark Wahlberg, starts out with a tone-setting credits sequence montage of how economically wrecked 1975 Philadelphia was (abandoned factories, people lining up for unemployment, kids playing in abandoned lots, angry workers protesting lockouts, etc.), accompanied very evocatively by Jim Croce's contemporary ballad "I Got a Name".
  • Once Iron Man 3 cuts to a flashback, "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" starts playing to set up that the year is 1999.
  • King Kong (2005) uses this sort of montage to establish it's Depression-era New York.
  • Made of Honor has this in the opening flashback to a Halloween party in 1998, with the male lead dressed up in a Bill Clinton mask and bumping into people dressed as Monica Lewinsky and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
  • Mr. Holland's Opus follows the eponymous music teacher's life through three decades. After each time skip, a montage and song play out to characterize the cultural climate of the time.
  • Occurs in Peggy Sue Got Married, shortly after Peggy Sue wakes up as her teenaged self in 1960. As her friends drive her home, she's treated to shots of her hometown as it used to be, with vintage clothing and cars everywhere, and "Tequila" by the Champs on the radio.
  • In the film adaptation of Ready Player One (see below under Literature), the Gunters' interest in '80s culture is established by Van Halen's "Jump" playing at the beginning of the racing scene.
  • An early scene in The Rocky Horror Picture Show features Brad and Janet listening to Richard Nixon's resignation speech on the radio, placing the setting in 1974. Despite Brad and Janet listening to a speech Nixon gave in August on "a late November evening," Word of God says that this is not an anachronism, rather that Brad is such a dork that he taped it and listens to it at his leisure.
  • The film version of Same Time, Next Year accompanies each scene transition with a montage of black-and-white still photos of famous people and events from each decade, to depict the passage of time and subsequent changes in the characters' lives and in the postwar society they inhabit.
  • Older Than Television: Mae West's 1933 film She Done Him Wrong opens with one of these.
  • A unique variant of this occurs in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film adaptation of The Shining, in which a recording of early 20th century pop staple "Midnight, the Stars and You" by Anglo-South African singer Al Bowlly is used as a musical motif for the ghosts at the Overlook hotel, playing when Jack encounters their masked ball party in the Gold Room and then reappearing for the film's iconic Gainax Ending and credits. What cements it as an example of this trope is the fact that the ghosts are explicitly based on an Independence Day ball held at the Overlook back in 1921, as indicated by the photo prominently shown at the end of the film (despite the fact that the song was published and recorded 13 years later). The song later appears again in the 2019 film adaptation of Doctor Sleep, where Abra faintly hears it just moments before the ghosts at the Overlook start coming for her.
  • The scene in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in which the Enterprise crew crosses a street in 1986 San Francisco and Kirk is called a "dumbass" by an angry taxi driver. The background music seems to be a standard '80s rock tune. It was a jazz/fusion tune that was created for the movie by the group Yellowjackets which was accurate of music adults listened to in the '80's. Also, an unlucky hoodlum is shown jamming on a boombox with music that fit the style of 80's era punk. The song was written specifically for that scene, and performed by the actor that played the punk. The film's take on this trope is an interesting version, seeing as it was applied to what was then the real-life present day.
  • The Time Machine (2002) had a scene playing with this motif as a kind of Time-Compression Montage to show how time passes outside the titular machine, in which dresses on a shop's exhibition get shorter and shorter. This is copied from the 1960 version. It wasn't in the novel, since H. G. Wells obviously didn't know how the world would change after his time.
  • Les Visiteurs has one when the two medieval protagonists, Godefroy and Jacquouille, flee in separate directions following an incident they caused at a highway restaurant after they Time Travel to the 20th century by mistake. Godefroy rides on horseback on a road and a truck almost runs over him. He then passes by a train and a jet airliner flies over him. He then shouts "MONTJOIE!", confused as he is lost in another century far in time from his own. The sequence starts with a guitar riff before switching to Era's "Enae Volare".
  • Watchmen starts with a montage of superhero history, to the sound of "The Times They Are a-Changin'" by Bob Dylan.
  • Every scene in The Wedding Singer has enough '80s signifiers to be one of these, but only the opening scene fulfills the purpose of the trope.

  • Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg's The Great SF Stories: The primary purpose of the introduction is to help the reader get into the mindset of that volume's year. It starts with major Real Life events, shifts to describing the English-speaking culture milestones of the year, and ends more specific details about major events in the Science Fiction subculture.
  • Iain Banks's Dead Air: The novel starts at a party in London. One of the guests asks the host if he's flying to New York City on Concorde, which turns out hasn't started flying again yet. So sometime between July 2000 and November 2001. The narrator notes the host's PS2, so we've narrowed down the scene to a single year - 2001. By the end of the chapter we know exactly when the party was when people's cellphones start ringing.
    New York?
    The what?
    The World Trade Center? Isn't that—?
    A plane? What, a big plane, like a Jumbo or something?
    You mean, like, the two big, um, skyscrapers?
  • Victor Hugo gave us an ur-example in Les MisĂ©rables with a chapter called "The Year 1817" that sets the scene for France as a whole in exhausting detail before the focus finally shrinks back down again to four young men and their girlfriends- one of whom will become one of the novel's main characters.
  • Ernest Cline's Ready Player One: Within seconds of Wade/Parzival teleporting to Middleton, James Halliday's virtual recreation of his mid-'80s childhood hometown within the OASIS, he immediately notices "A woman with a giant, ozone-depleting hairdo bobbing her head to an oversize Walkman. A kid in a gray Members Only jacket leaning against a wall, working on a Rubik's Cube. A Mohawked punk rocker sitting in a plastic chair, watching a Riptide rerun on a coin-operated television."
  • The Novelette El Inquisidor De Mexico sets the mood of a small town in The Cavalier Years New Spain by describing people and goods from all over the Spanish empire (Asia, America, Europe) coming together to have a good time without distinction of class or race, eating and drinking and watching stereotypically colonial entertainment like cockfights, dice games and reenactments of Conquista battles and scenes. Of course, the biggest element of Viceregal Mexico is the main focus: The Spanish Inquisition.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Ash vs. Evil Dead, after the team ends up in 1982 to stop the younger Ash from ever getting his hands on the Necronomicon, the older Ash first decides to cruise around his hometown of Elk Grove, set to the tone of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing".
  • Subverted by Better Off Ted. Phil and Lem reminisce about Phil's first day on the job, and a flashback shows Phil wearing tie-dye and Lem with an afro. Then Lem says, "It's a shame your first day had to be during Sixties Week."
  • Black Mirror
    • The episode "San Junipero" opens with Yorkie down a street lousy with Eighties signifiers: Totally Radical fashions and hairdos, Max Headroom playing on CRT televisions, the radio explicitly announcing "the biggest hits of 1987". This appears to be deliberate, because it's designed as a nostalgic reconstruction, and all the other eras she 'visits' have similarly exaggerated environments.
    • "Mazey Day"'s setting of 2006 is established by a radio station talking about the birth of Suri Cruise. The opening minutes feature Windows XP on a thick laptop, an iPod Shuffle playing Amerie, and news about the Iraq War.
  • In Breaking Bad, a flashback to the Cousins' childhood features an early closeup of an '80s "brick" portable phone.
  • Seen in Charmed when the sisters travel through time (although it's arguably justified that they should end up around a bunch of hippies when going back to the 1960s, the setting being San Francisco) and when, in another episode, flashbacks display scenes from The Roaring '20s.
  • The entire hook of Cold Case, combined with the Lyrical Dissonance musical outros.
  • Used too many times to list in Doctor Who — often with the added twist that the Doctor and his companion have judged the time period of his destination incorrectly, and disembark the TARDIS dressed inappropriately (disco attire in 1870s Scotland, or leather jackets and jeans at QEII's coronation.)
  • Subverted on an episode of Family Ties. Could be a coincidence, could be an Actor Allusion. Alex takes over as manager of Jennifer's Girl Group band, the Permanent Waves. He makes them wear 50s-style hairdos and dresses, and they sing "Mister Sandman." The montage, in black and white, shows them singing, as Jennifer gets more and more disgruntled, because she wants to wear fashionable clothes and play contemporary The '80s songs.
  • Parodied on Get a Life in an episode where Chris time-travels to the 1970s to right some wrong - you can tell it's the '70s because his old dad and all his codger friends are boogieing down to disco music.
  • In another rare present-day case, in Goodnight Sweetheart, when Gary arrives in 2016 (having last been in his 'present' in 1999, his last seventeen years being 1945-1962). He's pretty much sprayed with pure undiluted 2010s as soon as he arrives, running into hipster cafes, man-buns, openly gay couples in public and smartphones.
  • In the second episode of Journeyman, the lead character finds himself on an airplane in The '70s. He sees, in the span of about thirty seconds, flirtatious stewardesses in orange uniforms, people smoking, a kid playing with a toy gun, the film Conquest of the Planet of the Apes being screened, and a newspaper that mentions the Ford administration, all while K.C. and the Sunshine Band's "Get Down Tonight" plays in the background.
  • When Conan O'Brien hosted Late Night Brian Stack had a recurring character who was a traveling salesman straight out of The '50s. He'd usually make some sort of period reference soon after he arrived.
  • Naturally, the pilot episodes of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes (2008) both featured these, although the music in both cases was organic to the scene (from Sam's car's 8-track player and the sound system at Alex's boat party, respectively). Even the titles are in on it.
  • The American Life on Mars (2008) has a variation, with the protagonist looking about him and seeing an intact World Trade Center, to his astonishment.
  • Both played straight and subverted by Lost:
    • Played straight: The beginning of "Cabin Fever" contains a number of signifiers that the flashback is to the 1950s. "Every Day" by Buddy Holly plays as a girl in a classic 50s outfit dances and applies bright-red lipstick.
    • Subverted: "Man of Science, Man of Faith" begins with a man with long hair playing Mama Cass music on a vinyl record and using an old monochrome computer. The audience tries to figure out which character is flashing back to the 1970s, only to find out it is happening in the present.
  • Way overdone on Malcolm in the Middle: a flashback to the 1980's shows the parents decked out in big hair and bright clothes in a room covered in checkerboard patterns while Tears for Fears plays in the background and Hal mentions "the Us Festival."
  • The Nanny: In "Fran's Roots", a flashback to Fran Fine's childhood in the early 1970s starts with Fran's mother Sylvia (played by Fran Drescher) singing the theme to Maude.
  • New Girl features this trope whenever there's a "Fat Schmidt" flashback to their late 90's/early 2000's college years. A bulbous iMac monitor and a Napster poster are in nearly every shot.
  • Used frequently in Quantum Leap and its sequel series, which usually features the leaper leaping in and experiencing a cavalcade of fashions and music from whenever they end up.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In "Little Green Men", Quark and his family crashland during a trip to Earth and somehow end up in Roswell in July 1947. After Quark revives after the crash, we get a panning shot showing a twentieth century hospital room that includes an oscillating fan. A US Army soldier then lights up a cigarette, picks up a rotary dial phone and informs his superiors that one of the "Martians" has just woken up.
  • Parodied in the Stella short "Birthday," when Michael and David flash back to when they met Michael Showalter in the 80s; the first shot is of a calendar that says "FINAL EXAMS," "SYNTHPOP," and "RONALD REAGAN."
  • Supernatural. Happens in reverse in "As Time Goes By". A time traveler arrives in the present day from 1958, runs out into a hotel parking lot and is confronted by people talking on mobile phones, a man pushing a baby stroller, and modern cars with 2013 registration. "I guess the Mayans were wrong."
  • Parodied in A Touch of Cloth when a woman who's being interrogated unveils information about the killer's background to the detectives for something that happened in 1996, but the screen actually shows a litany of pop culture, fashion, events, and people iconic to the 1980s much to the confusion of the cops. It turns out she was watching a nostalgia program on the telly during her flashback.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In the first scene of "Once Upon a Time", Woodrow Mulligan is walking through the Harmony town square on March 10, 1890 and complains about the high prices of sirloin steak (17c per lb) and ladies' hats ($1.95). The speed limit for bicycles is then shown as being eight miles per hour.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Convict's Piano", there is one whenever Ricky Frost travels back in time after playing a song from that era on the piano that he found in prison:
    • When he plays "Maple Leaf Rag" by Scott Joplin, he finds himself at a bandstand in a park during the middle of a celebration in 1899. The men are wearing flat straw boaters and three-piece suits with matching waistcoats while the women have the Gibson Girl-style bouffant hairdos and gorgeous dresses typical of The Gay '90s.
    • When he plays "Over There" by George M. Cohan, he arrives in the Shamrock Club in 1917. The clientele largely consists of World War I-era doughboys who are getting ready to ship out to fight in Europe. Most of the women present having bob cuts or their hair in ringlet curls.
    • When he plays "Something to Watch Over Me" by George Gershwin, he arrives at a private party in Chicago in 1928. It is being held by the gangster Mickey Shaughnessy and the guests are all drinking illegal alcohol. Like every other women at the party, Shaughnessy's girlfriend Ellen is a flapper. Shaughnessy asks Ricky to play "S' Wonderful", the most popular song of 1928 which was also by Gershwin.

  • Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" is basically a laundry list of late-20th-century cultural markers rattled off one after the other. He stays in chronological order (at least approximately) until he reaches 1963, after which he starts throwing them out more or less at random... '80s, '60s, '80s again...
  • Several Evelyn Evelyn songs start out mentioning things that occured that year. For example, "The Tragic Events of September" (which is about the day the twins were born) features the lines "The year is 1985. St. Elmo's Fire is at the top of the charts, the wreckage of the Titanic has just been discovered at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, and on a small farm on the Kansas-Colorado border a young mother is about to give birth".


    Video Games 
  • Subverted in the Fallout games. The games always start with music and imagery of 1950s Americana, before panning out to show that the games actually occur in a post-apocalyptic future. In comparison, it's played straight with Vault 112's Tranquility Lane simulation in Fallout 3, and with the opening of Fallout 4 taking place in the suburb of Sanctuary Hills Just Before the End.
  • The opening loading screen and title sequence in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City helps establish that it's The '80s. The loading screen simulates a Commodore 64 loading screen, then the title sequence plays a Suspiciously Similar Song of the Miami Vice theme while showing scenes of life in 1980s Miami — big hair, boxy cars, etc. Also, the first time you enter a vehicle, its in-game radio is always scripted to be on, and playing Billy Jean. Every time.
    • In recent versions and updates of the game the song was removed due to licensing issues.
  • In Mafia II, when the protagonist Vito is getting out of a six-year prison sentence, we are treated to sequence full of '50s imagery and music, to signify how the time has passed since the last time he saw the outside world during the final year of World War II.

    Web Comics 
  • Casey and Andy: When Jenn accidentally ends up in The '80s, stores and signs show off various fads and icons of the decade, such as Betamax players and thin ties.
  • Juvenile Diversion: Alicia is treated to this when she wakes up in 2015.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Classic Disney Short The Nifty Nineties (set in The Gay '90s, so no "Smells Like Teen Spirit") is a protracted Mister Sandman Sequence. Mickey and Minnie have a Meet Cute in the park in period clothing, go on a date to a vaudeville show, then go for a ride in an old-fashioned runabout.
  • Parodied in Clerks: The Animated Series. When Randall has a flashback back to when they met in the Eighties, not only is everyone in the store they work at (except, notably, Randall and Dante themselves) decked out in '80s fashions, but almost everyone is a notable person from that decade — including Ronald Reagan. Then, when Dante remembers that they actually met in the Seventies, the flashback includes a whole load of '70s icons, including Jimmy Carter and John Travolta a la Saturday Night Fever.
  • Subverted in the Family Guy episode "Stewie and Stu's Excellent Adventure". When Stewie reaches the future, he is excited at first and the scene sets up for one of these before he realizes that everything is pretty much the same as the present.
    Future Stewie: Well, of course, it's only been thirty years.
  • The `60s flashback in Recess: School's Out.
  • The Simpsons:
  • Frequently seen in Gravity Falls:
    • Although not a time-travel example, the first few moments of the episode "Irrational Treasure," the Pines family is bombarded with covered wagons, butter churns, livestock, old-timey speech mannerisms, and banjo music, because it's Pioneer Day (to Stan's horror). There is also an excessive number of woodpeckers, but that's a historical marker unique to Gravity Falls.
    • When Dipper and Mabel flash through various eras in "The Time Traveler's Pig," one such escapade includes heading to "Ye Old Oregon Trail," as announced by the driver of a covered wagon over a treacherous cavern's edge; he also mentions to his wife "Fertilia" that she must have produced two children when he wasn't looking.
    • Played with in "Boyz Crazy," when Grunkle Stan reminisces about his youth — cut to "The Juke Joint," complete with neon lighting, jukeboxes, corny signs, and cherry-on-top milkshakes, plus a bad boy young Stan dressed to resemble James Dean. But it turns out this is not a 1950's diner (Stan isn't old enough for that), but a 1970's diner themed to resemble the 1950's. And Stan dances with his girlfriend, who wears 1970's-style hot pants.
    • Another actual time travel occurred in "Blendin's Game" when Dipper and Mabel accidentally travel to Gravity Falls, year 2002 (ten years in the past). This example is unique in that instead of showcasing the time period, it show cases what the Gravity Falls townsfolk were like ten years ago. Wendy is a five year-old who thinks Dipper looks cute, the Bad Guy Bar bouncer is getting his first tattoos, Stan is exactly the same, Gideon is just a baby, Robbie is a Bratty Half-Pint, etc.
  • BoJack Horseman has a Running Gag of doing this as over-the-top as possible. One episode has a shot of BoJack driving down the street in the 1980s, in front of shops selling Rubik's Cubes and 'cocaine mirrors', in a suit, singing along to a song with the lyrics "Generic 80s New Wave beat". The exact shot is repeated later in the episode but with inflatable chair shops and teens playing hackey-sack ("Generic 90s grunge song, everyone in flannel..."), and again two seasons later but with subprime mortgage sellers and flip-phone shops ("Generic 2007 pop song, AutoTuned so all the voices sound weird..."). Season 4 put an end to the joke when BoJack begins to have a flashback to a scene of him driving in 1999 before Hollyhock interrupts him, and all the billboards and stores just say things like "1999 Store!!!" and "Flashback Joke!" Here's a supercut.
  • King of the Hill: The flashbacks to the 1970s are typically scored with classic rock songs from that decade.

    Real Life 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Era Establishing Scene


New York, 1968

With the music, fashion, protests and even the presidential campaign, you can tell that this is from 1968.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / MisterSandmanSequence

Media sources: