Follow TV Tropes


Nostalgia Filter

Go To
The nostalgia goggles you get today are crap; they were
so much better back in my day.

"The past is always better than the present, and the future is worst of all."
Leonard Burton, Welcome to Night Vale

The nostalgia filter is the tendency to view the media created in one's younger years as better than anything to come along afterward. In the words of Sam Viviano, the longtime art director for MAD: "MAD was at its best whenever you first started reading it." A corollary to this notion holds that if you never liked MAD to begin with, that's because it was at its best shortly before whenever you started reading it.

The most impressionable time is during one's pre-adolescent, adolescent, and teenage years. These are the years where everything seems new and exciting, where one is young and undistracted (or less distracted) by the responsibilities of adulthood and the burdens of getting older. Additionally, for boys, it might be the years where although they had discovered girls, "getting laid" (or even getting girls to give them the time of day) was not a realistic aspect for many of them, thus they had a form of escapism.note  Apart from schoolwork, they simply can afford time to absorb the pop culture or cult genre of the era.

People's tastes are influenced by the media they grew up with. This is most notable when Values Dissonance comes into play: Modern day art may positively depict contemporary societal norms that would have been frowned on years before. Conversely, tastes often change as someone ages: what may have seemed brilliant to a child or teen would seem crude or laughable to most adults, but the memories of how great something from one's youth was seem to linger. And if a person's preference is for something that is out of fashion right now, they may have little choice besides "hang onto the older version" or "give up on it completely" if the form or genre is considered "dead".

It may also be due to Sturgeon's Law combined with the passage of time: as new media is released, the vast majority will be mediocre or worse, but over time, a powerful selection pressure causes all but the best (and in some infamous cases, worst) material from an earlier era to be largely forgotten, leaving an increasingly inaccurate impression of its overall quality.

Of course, this is not to imply that newer is automatically better, or that the Nostalgia Filter applies in every single case. Sometimes the older work is better, or at least has its own appeal that the present stuff doesn't – even beyond "charm", which is often thrown around to describe older stuff mostly just to mean, "It's nostalgia-inducing."

You'll notice that this trope sometimes overlaps with the Periphery Hatedom. Almost always, when people complain about how new stuff sucks, they bring up examples of things which were marketed towards the youth of their own generation as examples of "good" or even "classic" works in the genre. Never mind that 20 years ago, when it was being marketed towards them, many adults were saying the exact same thing.

While adults abusing the Nostalgia Filter has become a bit of a cliché (particularly in media aimed at teens and/or preteens), there are many Real Life adults (of various ages) who enjoy both old and new media in equal measures. This is especially true for those who are socially active and hang around a diverse group of people. However, one thing is for certain: Those who abuse it or abuse the concept of it tend to be very vocal about it.

See also Growing Up Sucks, Nothing but Hits, They Don't Make Them Like They Used To, Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used to Be, Vindicated by History, and Appeal to Tradition. Another reason for this trope is that True Art Is Ancient. Contrast Condemned by History and They Changed It, Now It Sucks!. Disco Dan can be what happens when someone puts the Filter on and refuses to take it off to the extent that they act like they're still living in their favourite time period. For a literal nostalgia filter, see Green Boy Color and Deliberately Monochrome.

In-Universe Examples Only. Pretty much any genre or form is subjected to this in Real Life, so such examples aren't really necessary. Plus, they're very prone to age stereotyping, which we don't want on this page. noreallife

In-Universe Examples Only:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Invoked in Code Geass, with a drug called Refrain, that causes one to experience hallucinogenic flashbacks to past pleasant experiences. Naturally, it's quite popular among the oppressed Japanese.
  • A common device in Revolutionary Girl Utena. The first we get is Miki, who yearns to return to his childhood, when he and his sister were musical prodigies. In truth, his sister was a poor piano player and he was the real prodigy. The second is Utena herself, when we find out that her childhood wasn't as fairy tale-ish as we're led to believe. The third is Souji Mikage, the second arc's antagonist, who longs to return to the past when he lived happily with the Chida family.
  • Fairy Tail: Subverted where the titular guildhall, a simple two-story pub, gets demolished by an enemy guild and renovated into a much bigger, more lavish building. Natsu, a guild member by six years, is the only one put off by all the changes made (though the English dub has Natsu admitting he's not good with change)—now there's a stage, an outdoor pool, a rec room, and the guy who destroyed the old guildhall is now a member (though most of the guild agreed with Natsu on this)—but once a huge Bar Brawl breaks out like it normally would, he quickly feels right at home.
  • England from Hetalia: Axis Powers has a tight pair on when it comes to his days as an empire. Especially with America. England is often moping about how America was so cute and obedient when he was a child under his rule, unlike the brash and rude country he's grown up to be. Then we see flashbacks of adorable little colony America yelling "go to hell, Engwand!".
  • The enemy Nostradamus from Final Fantasy: Unlimited uses this as a weapon. It is a radio tower that sends out energy waves, trapping people in their happiest memories of the past while constantly announcing "Nothing beats the good old days!". The hero Kaze becomes trapped in the memories of his homeland Windia with his sister. The illusion is broken when the character Moogle reminds him what happened after his happy memories- his homeland was destroyed and his sister died.

  • Nostalgia for the classical period of ancient Greece and Rome and the idea that the Middle Ages were 1000 years of Dark Ages was one of the things that inspired the Renaissance. Yeah, it's a real-life example, but still technically woven into works considering that it fueled a lot of the artwork at the time.
  • Similarly, the art, literature, and poetry of the Romantic movement of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries looked back to an idealized version of The Middle Ages for inspiration, in part because it was characterized as a reaction against the more progressively oriented, future-looking Enlightenment.

    Audio Plays 
  • The four audiobook volumes of The Alan Cross Guide to Alternative Rock, based on the author's radio series The Ongoing History of New Music, appear guilty of this: most of the bands are from the 1980s or early 1990s, several are from the 1960s and 1970s, and the ones from the 2000s that are covered are treated briefly. Cross, a history major, averts this by noting it's far easier to objectively measure the cultural impact of older artists, while for most newer artists it's too soon to tell if they'll be influential.

  • Lewis Black once said that no matter how old you are, the best music is whatever was on the radio when you first got laid.
  • Subverted by Alonzo Bodden:
    They're always talking about America in the good old days. "Bring back the good old days!" I'm black. We don't have good old days. Do you think black people are sitting around, "Oh man, remember the back of the bus? Oh, you could always find a seat in the back of the bus."

    Comic Books 
  • The Archie comic "Nostalgia Gets Ya!" plays this trope obnoxiously straight, talking about how much better life was back in The Gay '90s when policemen were always treated with respect, women were put on pedestals, and nobody worried about pollution.
  • Viz has a running joke about how it "isn't as funny as it used to be".
  • The Crisis Crossover Infinite Crisis revolves around this trope, which the surviving heroes of Crisis on Infinite Earths hold to with varying degrees of fanaticism; having decided that the universe that resulted from the end of the earlier crossover has gone wrong and that their more innocent worlds were 'better' than the current status quo, they have decided to change the state of affairs by any means necessary. It has been noted that this has a certain similarity to frequent fan-criticisms of the current DC Universe. In the end, while Superboy-Prime and Alexander Luthor ended up crossing the Moral Event Horizon because of this, Earth-2 Superman's belief in this trope and the 'perfection' of his universe was shaken and ultimately defied by an observation his alternate self made about the universe he came from:
    Superman: If you're from this Earth, it can't be perfect. Because a perfect Earth doesn't need a Superman.
  • The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers had a mid-70s story where Fat Freddy is raving over how great the 1950s were. He fondly recalls a New Years teen party that we see from Phineas's perspective - everyone converges at his parents' house over his objections, people get stupid drunk, he and Franklin get beaten up by hoods who crash the party, and the house and family car end up destroyed just before the parents get home.
  • In The Sandman (1989), there's a scene in the 1480s in which the immortal Hob Gadling, now about 130 or so, overhears an old man complaining about these newfangled chimneys and reminiscing about the days when "we did have a good honest brazier in the house", when nobody suffered from "rheumes and cattarhs" and the smoke was "good medicine for the man and his family". Hob mutters to Dream about how foolish the old man is, and how back then everyone was coughing and wheezing from the smoke, and occasionally you'd find whole families that had asphyxiated in the night. In the book's final volume (wherein he's several hundred years old), he attacks people nostalgic for times when they weren't even alive by criticizing the very concept of a Renaissance Faire.
  • Lady Gaga #1 has a middle-aged man moping about how the music in the present is nowhere near as good as the music in his day (i.e., the second half of the 1970s).
  • Toyed with in an issue of The Brave and the Bold dealing with Brother Power. The character fondly reminisces about how much "better" everything was in the 60s and 70s, before remembering the violence, racial unrest, and turmoil of the era.
  • Played with in the "Talisman" arc of Finder. Marcie Grosvenor spends years trying to find a children's book that her mother's on-off boyfriend read to her regularly when she was a little girl. When she eventually finds it she discovers that it's complete rubbish... and then she realises that it's not just Nostalgia Filter, it's that the guy who read it to her, who came from a culture which placed great value on oration and oral storytelling, was improvising almost everything and using the book simply to get prompts from. She ends up feeling oddly betrayed by him over this.

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot featured a storyline where Andy (as part of her newspaper job) is asked to help pick a comic strip to be cancelled. Roger gets upset that her choice is "Captain Goofball", a comic he loved when he was younger, but Andy proves her point by bringing out a month's worth of strips and showing that the comic hasn't been funny in a long time. She argues that they should give the kids reading the comics today the chance to find a strip that means as much to them as "Goofball" meant to Roger, but he still ends the storyline saddened by the loss.
    • Also done unintentionally with the Steve Jobs tribute comic, where Jason wistfully pulls the family's iFruit out of storage. Long-time readers may recall that when they first got the iFruit, Jason outright despised it and took a very long time to warm up to it (though author Bill Amend was a Mac fan from Day One).
  • Lampshaded in a comic strip of Zits where the Duncans take a trip to a cabin where Walt went when he was younger. Jeremy hates it, but Walt, for some reason, has all these pleasant memories of the place. Yet, Jeremy finds a tree into which Walt had carved, "I hate this %^@&% Dump!!" and Walt mentions, "Wow, time has a way of blurring things, doesn't it?"
  • Tom the Dancing Bug advanced a theory that popular culture was at its height when you, the reader, were twelve years old.
  • In Calvin and Hobbes Calvin's dad often complains to Calvin or his wife about how everything was better back in the day and how evil modern technology is. Calvin hates this, and once says that he is "a 21st century kid stuck in a 19th century family." In one strip, Calvin's dad bores him with a long, rambling monologue on how modern escalators lack the character of their forebears.
  • Invoked in the "Reagan's Brain" strips in Doonesbury, where Ronald Reagan is said to suffer from "a severe perceptual disorder within the (visual) cortex," so that "instead of looking forward through clear eyes, Reagan is only able to see backwards through a rose-colored mist."

    Fan Works 
  • Inverted with Miho in Necessary to Win. As a result of the circumstances of her departure from her old school, Black Forest, she initially only has less than fond memories of that school, and of tankery in general. However, in the course of telling her story to her friends, she starts to realize that she had some good times there, and made some friends. She also comes to the realization that she never disliked tankery, but merely the Nishizumi approach to it.
  • In Haunted Mansion and the Hatbox Ghost, the Hatbox Ghost has a gigantic nostalgia filter on about any changes made to the Haunted Mansion ride since 1969. If we were listening to him, the souvenir records of the ride would still be vinyles, you know.
  • In Loxare Hinder, a combination of Never Speak Ill of the Dead and guilt over not being a good brother to Jason led Dick to reimagine the second Robin as a bit of Too Good for This Sinful Earth. Meeting Red Hood in all his scum-slaying vigilante glory made for a rude awakening.
  • In Eternal Fantasy, a significant portion of the adult population goes on and on about how things were better before the Transition. Harry, Dudley, Hermione, and Draco are all Adventurers who rather like the new world, which by this point is all they remember, and don't really see the appeal of going back to how things were. Hermione lampshades that for all the adults in her community talk about the wonders the world used to have such as airplanes and better medicine, none of them actually try to recreate any of it nor experience the new world. Worst of all is the Wizarding World who do their damnedest to carry on like nothing's changed even though their old lifestyles are rapidly depleting a critical non-renewable resource*.
  • Averted with Pokémon Strangled Red. While the narrator really wanted to finally play Pokémon Red, he's impressed with the "improvements" he finds in the hacked game instead.
  • Downplayed with Cameron in Jessica. Cameron gets comfort from battling the Kanto Elite Four with his Pokémon Yellow team, but he still finds other Pokémon games fun.
  • Shadows over Meridian: The Guards are so miserable being mistreated by the victorious rebels and being afraid that they'll be imprisoned for their past loyalties that they wonder if they did the right thing turning against Phobos. When a reviewer asked the authors how they could think that when Tynar said they were miserable under Phobos' rule, the authors responded that while they might have been miserable before, they now have to sleep with one eye open while living under the threat of rumors that they'll be replaced and imprisoned, which makes them wonder if things were really so bad beforehand.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Last Clear Chance: The 1959 driver's education film, focusing on railroad crossing safety, includes a short segment where the main character, Trooper Hal Jackson, talks about the early days of automobles and highway motoring. Included were people, each wearing turn-of-the-century fashions, demonstrating a Model T Ford, a tandem bicycle and a horse-drawn buggy ... all which Jackson explains were not just showpieces at an old-timers festival but – as the movie was produced in the late 1950s – well within the lifetimes of many people alive at the time, and he noted how idyllic that era was.
    • The movie itself becomes an unintentional one: Plenty of 1950s-era cars aside, the two-lane U.S. and state highway system was still the dominant mode of long-distance travel (although Jackson does refer to the then-new Interstate Highway System); railroad technology, such as wigwag signals (vs. modern lights and gates); the still undeveloped rural scenery; and agriculture still being the dominant industry in rural America (with such businesses often being by far the largest employer of a rural community).
  • This is a big part of the plot of Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. The story features Gil, a writer played by Owen Wilson, who is writing a novel about a man that runs a nostalgia shop, and the writer himself has a nostalgic view of the 1920s in Paris as a sort of Golden Age, something that his fiancée and her family constantly rag on him for. Eventually, Gil discovers a mysterious taxi cab that arrives every night at midnight and transports him back to a nostalgia-filtered 1920s Paris, where he meets many famous authors and falls in love with Adriana, a woman who is at the time Picasso's mistress. As time goes on, the writer discovers that Adriana has feelings for him too and decides to live in the 1920s with her. However, soon after Gil confesses his love for Adriana, they are picked up by a mysterious carriage that transports them back to La Belle Epoque of the late 1800s, where they meet various artists, writers, and other famous folk. Adrianna immediately proposes they stay here, as in her mind, this is the Golden Age of Paris. However, the artists of that era pine for The Renaissance. Gil decides that despite the allure of the nostalgia filter, it's best to take the present for what it is, and decides to go back to the present.
  • '50s nostalgia was subverted by the film Pleasantville, which initially presented its idyllic '50s sitcom world through the nostalgia filter, then slowly stripped it away and highlighted the racism and sexual repression of the era. The ending then reconstructs it by showing Pleasantville as having evolved into something more like the historical '50s, with its down-home family values and aesthetic living side-by-side with social progress, and Jennifer, who had previously been the Audience Surrogate in her dismissal of those sensibilities, embracing some of them to the point where she chooses to stay behind rather than return to the real world.
  • Stand by Me is nostalgic, but presents gritty truths as well. After all, the kids are out to find a stranger's dead body. Oh, and the main character's parents ignore him, and his older brother had been recently killed. Also, all four boys smoke. At age twelve.
  • A Christmas Story, with its nostalgia for old toys, radio programs, music, Christmas decorations and still believing in Santa Claus. But while it had all the great holiday memories, it didn't leave out the anger, disillusionment, disappointment, frustration, humiliation and other crappy things about being a kid at Christmas that most movies filter out.
  • In Star Trek: Generations, Picard and the Enterprise command crew are holding a promotion ceremony for Worf on a holodeck version of HMS Enterprise. Picard gets all nostalgic for the age of Wooden Ships and Iron Men. The ever-practical Riker, on the other hand...
    Picard: Just imagine what it was like. No engines, no computers. Just the wind and the sea and the stars to guide you.
    Riker: Bad food, brutal discipline, no women.
  • Good Bye, Lenin! plays with this for the old East Germany (the phenomenon known more broadly as ''Ostalgie''). The whole idea revolves around the main character, Alex, trying to pretend to his mother (who was in a coma and missed the fall of the Berlin Wall) that Communism still exists and there is no re-unification process going on, to the point of creating fake news broadcasts and putting capitalist products in old-style communist-brand packaging. Many of the older supporting characters (who have ended up losing their jobs and security) find the environment to be something of a refuge from the changes happening around them, and Alex himself begins to become almost nostalgic, not necessarily for the real East Germany (he is seen protesting in the beginning of the film) but for the country that could have been, and the ideals it claimed to represent. The film itself is careful to show the good and bad sides of both capitalism and communism (or at least, the former's absurdity).
  • In The Ref, Caroline has this for the days when she and her husband Lloyd were a young couple living in New York, and she'll go on and on about it, especially when she's had enough to drink. Towards the end of the movie he finally calls her out on this, her Self-Serving Memory, and blaming him for everything that has gone wrong their lives since.
    Lloyd: I told you what moving here could mean, but you were the one who said we should consider it! Not the actual moving, just the considering. The actual moving in part was left to me! Why? Because you didn't know what to do. You were... confused, you didn't know if it was the right thing. But you were sure as hell sick and tired of living in a one-bedroom apartment in New York City, so don't hand me that "it was the best of times" bullshit! You didn't want to work anymore and you didn't want any help with the baby because you wanted to do it all by yourself! And you hated New York because we weren't as rich as your college friends were to enjoy it! We couldn't afford a bigger place, and you were miserable being around people who could! AND... we were up to our EARS in debt!
  • In Snow White & the Huntsman, when William starts talking about how he used to follow Snow White everywhere and she inspired him, Snow White remembers it quite differently and mentions how they used to fight a lot. In actuality, this was the first clue that it's not the real William but Ravenna in disguise.
  • Eddie Felton in The Color of Money has this in regards to the present-day popularity of nine ball pool, which he thinks is simpler, faster, and easier than the straight pool he used to play.
    Eddie: This ain't pool. This is for bangers. Straight pool is pool. This is like hand-ball, or cribbage, or something. Straight pool, you gotta be a real surgeon to get 'em, you know? It's all finesse. Now, every thing is nine-ball, 'cause it's fast, good for T.V., good for a lot of break shots.
  • In Back to the Future Part III, Doc Brown goes on about how the Old West in the 1880s is his favorite time period, but after a Hideous Hangover Cure due to drinking a single shot of whiskey, he mentions how much he misses Tylenol in 1985.
  • Randy and Cassidy in The Wrestler believe that the '80s were the golden age of rock music thanks to bands like Guns N' Roses, Ratt, and Def Leppard, and that grunge was the downfall of rock, the two of them calling Kurt Cobain a pussy who didn't know how to have a good time. This scene only highlights the problems that Randy and Cassidy face, the two of them both being stuck in the past (Randy being a washed-up pro wrestler and Cassidy an aging stripper) and unable to face the modern world.
  • In Hot Tub Time Machine, at first Adam can't remember why he broke up with his old girlfriend, Jenny, and because he only recalls good things about her he believes that he made a huge mistake by dumping her. Once we actually meet her in the past and find out how shallow and crazy she is, it's not hard to see why Adam dumped her. But he was still unhappy with the whole situation.
  • The 1971 experimental film Nostalgia
  • Help!: "Help", thinking about "when I was younger, so much younger than today. I never needed anybody's help in any way".
  • The Gleaners and I: The locals in the cafe talk about what gleaning used to be like and that it's a dying art.
  • Brexit: The Uncivil War: Dominick Cummings states that people have a rose-colored impression of what the past was like, so this is why he frames the exit of Britain from the EU as a return to the way things used to be rather than a new change. This is fully realized when he amends the Leave party's slogan from "Take Control" to "Take Back Control."
  • In Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, Ricky overhears a person on the subway declaring his intention to vote for Romney due to his nostalgia for The '80s, when things were cheaper.
  • Tremors 4: The Legend Begins: Pyong is constantly making comments about how certain dangers and misfortunes weren't present back in China, with her husband disputing this. However, near the end of the movie, she claims that she was the one to talk him into leaving China in the first place and doesn't really want to go back, implying that she doesn't mean it when she makes homesick comments.
    Pyong: In China, no one shoots in wall!
    Lu Wan: In China, no one has gun.
  • In Parking (1985), Hades is fed up with the Underworld's modernization and the resulting computer errors, and also laments that Persephone isn't as fond of him as she used to be. Later, Persephone admits she made a mistake by marrying Hades, hinting she was unhappy in the past as well.
  • Hired!: Warren thinks salesmen were more invested in sales in his time as a saleman himself. His dad scoffs at this, saying that the only reason his son sold more was that he had better guidance than Warren himself is giving.

  • "When I was a kid, my mother would send me down to the corner store with a dollar, and I'd come back with five pounds of potatoes, two loaves of bread, three pints of milk, a pound of cheese, a packet of tea, and half a dozen eggs. You can't do that now. Too damn many security cameras."
  • A Russian joke:
    Grandson: Grandpa, do you think life was better back in the Soviet days than it is now?
    Grandfather: Of course!
    Grandson: And why do you think so?
    Grandfather: What do you mean "why"!? Back then I could get a boner, and now I can't!
  • Another:
    An old woman asks her granddaughter: "Granddaughter, please explain Communism to me. How will people live under it?" "When we reach Communism, the shops will be full — there'll be butter, and meat, and sausage... you'll be able to go and buy anything you want..." "Ah!" exclaims the old woman joyfully. "Just like under the Tsar!"

  • Famously lampooned by Charles Dickens in the opening passage of A Tale of Two Cities:
    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
  • Perhaps the uber-archetype The Idylls of Theocritus paints a vivid scene of a shepherd and a goatherd meeting at noon to compliment each other on their pan flute playing. The whole genre invites readers to meditate on a 'golden' past which feels better then one's present, usually, corrupt urban or courtly real world. Older Than Feudalism
  • In Animorphs there is an in-universe example: at the end of the series, Marco sees the years he spent fighting Yeerks as the "good old days". He remembers life-and-death battles as "cool, rock 'em sock 'em battles". He doesn't really seem to remember how much they scared the crap out of him at the time. But then, it's said that Marco has a much easier time adjusting to civilian life than the others, because he doesn't feel guilty about the things he's done.
  • The Outlaws shows conservative political groups and certain Freikorps fighters, especially officers, trying to bring the good old German Empire back. The younger generation, including the hero, aims at a nationalist revolution and radical change of Germany, although in a different way than the moderate Left and the Communists.
  • In The Satyricon, published some time in the 1st century AD (and in the very, very strange Fellini movie), the poet Agamemnon complains about the failing quality of contemporary literature and poetry, compared to the good old days, making this at least Older Than Feudalism.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Phoenix on the Sword", the last king is viewed with this, especially by Rinaldo.
    "Now in Mitra's temple there come to burn incense to Numedides' memory, men whom his hangmen maimed and blinded, men whose sons died in his dungeons, whose wives and daughters were dragged into his seraglio. The fickle fools!"
    • The epigraph from Chapter II of that story sums it up neatly:
      When I was a fighting-man, the kettle-drums they beat,
      The people scattered gold-dust before my horse's feet;
      But now I am a great king, the people hound my track
      With poison in my wine-cup, and daggers at my back.
  • William Shakespeare's Sonnet 106 complains that the ancients, who did not see this beauty, could have expressed it worthily, but mere current day poets aren't up to it.
    • This and the example from the Satyricon above are examples of this as applied to the field of linguistics. Language was always at its best when your grandparents were speaking it. You can trace a line of bitching critics from decade to decade to the fifteenth century in English alone.
  • In Time and Again, Si Morley does his best to consider the ways in which life in New York in 1882 was inequitable and harsh... but after he goes back to the present (1970), he becomes overwhelmed by a preference for the lifestyle and people of 1882. Even though he's well aware of what working conditions are like for ordinary people, and his reason for returning was to escape from corrupt policemen who have not heard of Miranda rights...
  • In at least two of his books, including his autobiography, Isaac Asimov recounts the following:
    Mrs. Asimov: I wish we lived a hundred years ago, when it was easy to get servants.
    Asimov: That would be terrible!
    Mrs. Asimov: Why?
    Asimov: Because we'd be the servants.
  • Isaac Asimov's "The Message":
    • The old soldiers are talking about their past without explicit dialogue, exaggerating the stories they remember.
      They drank beer and reminisced as men will who have met after long separation. They called to mind the days under fire. They remembered sergeants and girls, both with exaggeration. Deadly things became humorous in retrospect, and trifles disregarded for ten years were hauled out for airing.
    • George, a time-traveller from the thirtieth century, compares home to the twentieth century that he's travelled to. He sees it as unbearably dull, while World War II is a superlative drama.
  • Galaxy of Fear: Big plot hinge in "The Hunger", the series' last book. Due to nostalgia, the now-grown children of a doomed exploration team don't realize what a desperation move by their parents feeding them meat from the corpses of the deceased members of the team was. Thanks to the nostalgia filter, they view human meat as a cherished childhood dish. It takes a Force-induced restore and replay of the log record to show them the truth.
  • In The Extinction Parade, the narrator describes the Emergency and the 1969 race riots in Malaysia through such a lens. They sucked for humans, obviously, but for vampires like her and Laila, they were a buffet, as the backdrop of war and civil unrest made it easy to get away with murder.
  • Invoked in Three Men in a Boat: The narrator muses on the Victorian fascination with antique items with no real value apart from being old, and wonders if, in the 20th and 21st centuries, people will adore commonplace knick-knacks from Victorian England and display them in museums, with Japanese tourists lining up to buy them and take them home as precious antiquities. Almost prophetic...
  • Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle criticized this approach in his autobiography, My Shit Life so Far:
    "How long will it be before you're standing at a bus stop and you hear someone saying, 'Say what you like about Saddam, but that country's gone to hell without him'?"
  • In "The End of the Pier Show", a group of World War II veterans in The '70s have used the psychic powers of one of their wives to create a bubble where it's still The '40s. Richard Jeperson, a Holocaust survivor, is horrified by their belief that you can bring back the Stiff Upper Lip, Dig for Victory attitude without getting the Nazis as well.
  • Defied by Hercule Poirot in Curtain. When he reunites with his old friend, Hastings, the latter began to reminisce about the good times of his youth, until Poirot reminded him that the old times weren't as all good and jolly as Hastings remembered it to be.
    Poirot: But indeed, my friend, you were not so happy as you think. You had recently been severely wounded, you were fretting at being no longer fit for active service, you had just been depressed beyond words by your sojourn in a dreary convalescent home, and as far as I remember, you proceeded to complicate matters by falling in love with two women at the same time.
  • Definitively summed up in the Discworld novel The Last Continent. Ponder Stibbons knows that the answer to any suggestion of his will be “You don’t get proper fill-in-nouns these days—remember old ‘nickname’ ancient-wizard-who-died-fifty-years-ago-who-Ponder-wouldn’t-possibly-be-able-to-remember? Now there was a chap who knew his fill-in-nouns.”
  • This is the entire novel Coming Up For Air by George Orwell.
  • Best Served Cold: Discussed. When a notary claims that "mercenaries aren't like they used to be," the mercenary Nicomo Cosca counters that it's only natural for people to mistake the past as better than the present because they were younger and more idealistic. Some people get better and others get worse, but the world stays the same.
  • In his book How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond, composer John Powell (How to Train Your Dragon, Chicken Run, etc.) puts down the idea that vinyl/record music somehow sounds better than CDs almost entirely to this, stating that "Much of the CD/vinyl debate can probably be attributed to technology nostalgia, which dates back to cave-dwellers having heated arguments about the superiority of bronze arrow heads compared with the newfangled iron ones." He points to a study of 160 enthusiasts of either CDs or vinyl, in which only 4 could accurately and reliably identify which they were listening to. He notes that with this study having been done back in 1993 (the book was published in 2010), further improvements in technology have made it even more impossible to tell the difference.
  • In Castle Hangnail, the ghost Edward remarks that modern politics, with its Prime Ministers and Parliamentarians, isn't as good as it was back when he was alive, when you got rulers like Mad King Harold, who believed he was a cuttlefish and tried to wage a war on the clouds. He stands by this even after Majordomo reminds him that it was Mad King Harold who cut Edward's head off.
  • Robert Heinlein's Time Enough for Love dives headlong into this one, as it's the story of Lazarus Long, the oldest member of the human race, telling stories to "youngsters" attempting to convince him to get another rejuvenation treatment instead of letting his body die. While he flirts with it during his stories of being enslaved, of begging for money until he could become a priest of a religion he didn't believe in, of almost dying in the wilderness countless times, it isn't until the latter part of the book that he gets the opportunity to go back to the past - back to the 1910s, when he was a small child. He's giddy as can be as he enjoys his time in a world of casual bigotry and judgmentalism... and then gets his ass shot off fighting in the trenches during World War I. This being Lazarus Long, he got better.
  • One of the demons in The Screwtape Letters has set up the Patient's mother for perpetual disappointment this way — nothing is ever quite as good as she remembers — with the added bonus that she doesn't realize how entitled she is and thinks her demands are reasonable and humble. Screwtape himself laments that they used to get really tasty sinners to devour, but now everyone is just mediocre and bland.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The British series That'll Teach 'Em is about 30 modern teenagers attending a simulated 50s and 60s school setting. The narrator favorably compares education of the 50s to that of modern times, saying that modern schools lack discipline and are too easy. Lord Tebbit, a conservative politician who visits the school during Series 1, is also of the opinion education went downhill. Some of teachers themselves avert this when speaking to the camera, as they openly discuss the flaws of past education, while admitting modern education gives students more chance to think for themselves, as opposed to cramming facts and figures.
  • In The Sopranos, a common theme is various gangsters missing the good old days, when the Mafia had more power, men were more honorable and acted like "the strong, silent type". The flashbacks we see make it clear that men like Johnny Boy and Junior were as bad, probably worse, than the current generation.
  • The opening theme for All in the Family has Archie and Edith singing about how ideal their childhood was. Thing is, they both grew up during the Great Depression.
  • Several American sitcoms are set in a rose colored idea of two decades ago: Happy Days was a 1970s sitcoms about The '50s, The Wonder Years a 1980s sitcom about The '60s and That '70s Show a 1990s sitcom about The '70s. These shows concentrate more on the fashions and pop culture of those decades than on the Real Life problems that were current then.
    • That '70s Show is something of a subversion. While the other series showed life in those past eras as simpler and with more innocence (to a degree), That '70s Show highlighted youthful rebellion, job loss, divorce and other such delightful topics. Unlike the other sitcoms, which implied some things but showed us nothing, That '70s Show openly stated that the teens were having sex, drinking and smoking pot.
  • In Auction Kings, Paul loves the 1980s. Jon loves old toys. Neither of them are knowledgeable enough to bypass calling an expert when items of the appropriate era show up though.
  • Savagely mocked in this segment from The Daily Show which satirizes conservative pundits harking back to a simpler, better America than the one they believe is being ruined. After interviewing several people from each of the periods (along with footage featuring pundits such as Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly) grew up in which they discuss how things weren't really that great, John Oliver comes to the "realization" that the reason these pundits constantly look back to these times as happier and less complicated times is because those were the periods when they were children, and the world generally seems happier and less complicated when you're a child.
  • How the Doctor chooses to remember the Time Lords in the new series of Doctor Who. Of course, viewers of the original series know they weren't sweetness and light, and when they do turn up for a moment in the new series, it's clear the Time War disimproved them. Such that the Doctor takes up a gun immediately upon realizing their return. Though "The Day of the Doctor" seems to show that most of the Time Lords weren't actually bad, just the leaders like Rassilon. Furthermore, Time Lords in particular refer to the upper class rather than the entire Gallifreyan race in certain contexts. Other times, The Doctor does seem to miss more Gallifrey itself at time.
  • A common story on Fantasy Island is a guest wanting to relive a period in history they have romanticized. Nine times out of ten, they swiftly discover "the good old days" are not what they imagined.
    • Mr. Roarke notes how the Old West is a popular fantasy and scores of would-be cowboys find out how harsh that time was.
    • Sometimes subverted as a guest will realize they fit into this past period much better than the present and/or have fallen in love with someone there. They'll thus accept Roarke's offer to become a "permanent resident" to stay there.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • King Robert is fond of reminiscing about the good old days, before he was king. In "A Golden Crown", his brother Renly eventually gets sick of this and asks him exactly which days he's talking about — the time when the entire country was plunged into a bloody civil war, the time when Aerys roasted people alive because of the voices in his head, or the time when dragons went around burning villages to the ground. This is somewhat subverted, in that Robert was a Blood Knight who really did find the earlier era of war and destruction more to his liking, and was frustrated by years of peace. Ironically, after his death, Renly proceeds to contribute to a war by attempting to usurp the throne.
      Robert: [chuckles] Those were the days.
      Renly: [angrily] Which days, exactly? The ones where half of Westeros fought the other half and millions died? Or before that, when the Mad King slaughtered women and babies because the voices in his head told him they deserved it? Or way before that, when dragons burned whole cities to the ground!?
    • In "The Queen's Justice", Daenerys Targaryen nostalgically reminds Jon Snow, who refuses to bend the knee to her, that Westeros was better off when it was ruled by House Targaryen, with House Stark as its loyal vassal, for centuries. Except those centuries were filled with civil wars, rebellions, and mad kings (including Daenerys' own father). At least she has the courtesy to apologize for the crimes her father committed against House Stark, though she remains adamant that a Targaryen must return to the Iron Throne.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
    • Dennis and Dee take a trip to the Jersey Shore because they have fond memories of visiting there during their childhood years. When they arrive, they are subjected to a series of painful and terrifying experiences that completely shatter their previous conceptions of the Jersey Shore.
    • It was eventually revealed that Dennis was nowhere near as popular in high school as he made himself out to be.
    • Also used in the Christmas special with Charlie and Mac. The two fondly tell each other about their favourite Christmas traditions from their childhood, but after the other hears about it they realize that they aren't in any way near as positive as they remembered: Mac's family stole Christmas gifts from other homes, while Charlie is horrified to realize that his mom was a whore who had sex with a bunch of men (poorly) dressed up like Santa.
  • The show Mad Men does a lot to show how with all the awesome music and fashions of the '60s came rampant sexism, racism, and homophobia, and how the values of the previous decade held over and were difficult to dismantle. Considering how saturated the culture was (and still is) with '60s nostalgia when the show first debuted, it was exactly what the doctor ordered.
  • Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger: Monster of the Week Retro Wald is able to weaponize this. After he turns the world into a Retro Universe, he can cause people to pine for the better times of the good ol' days so hard that they turn morose and sluggish to the point of inaction. This includes the Kikainoid Zenkaigers, who are able to break out of this mindset by remembering that their old days under the villainous Tozitend Dynasty actually sucked eggs.
  • NewsRadio: Parodied when Bill fondly reminisces about his childhood while actually describing some pretty horrific childhood abuse, like when he lost a football game and his mother declared the family gained a daughter and dressed him as a girl. Good times according to Bill.
  • Cold Case was every bit as brutal as Mad Men, but spanned a lot more eras. Often, the murderer was sympathetic, and the attitudes about race, gender, and sexuality were the real villains.
  • Saturday Night Live: Dana Carvey's recurring Weekend Update character, the Grumpy Old Man, parodies this by being nostalgic for the bad things about the past, such as having no water filters, no air conditioning, no improved technology, and no Christmas Caroling.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • "The Incredible World of Horace Ford" has a toy designer who keeps lapsing into daydreams of his idyllic childhood while ignoring his slowly collapsing present. In the end, it turns out he was repressing the memory of the day the other kids beat him up because they weren't invited to his birthday party, and he's forced to come to grips with the brutal truth that his childhood wasn't nearly the fairyland he wanted to believe it was.
    • The Season 1 episode, "Walking Distance", had an advertising executive in Manhattan go back to the small town of his youth to relive parts of his childhood. While his childhood is shown as having been a happy time, his father tells him that it doesn't have to be the best time of his life and he can be equally happy with his current life in New York.
    • In the comical episode "Once Upon A Time" Buster Keaton plays a janitor to a scientist in 1890 who uses a time-machine helmet to travel to a more peaceful, less hectic time - and ends up in the much worse (1960) present. He encounters a scientist who wishes to go back to the good old days of 1890, where they both end up back in. The janitor is glad to be back, but within a week the scientist laments the lack of all the amenities he knew.
    • In "Of Late I Think Of Cliffordville", a Corrupt Corporate Executive makes a Deal with the Devil to go back in time and re-live the fun of making his fortune. The lovely Cliffordville from his memories is not nearly as nice in reality, however, and the girl he always reminisced over is much less attractive and charming also. The Devil he made the deal with mocks him for indulging in this trope after he accuses her of altering the past, telling him that the past is exactly how it was — it's his own fault for not remembering it right.
  • Top Gear did an episode where James May finally got to drive the Lamborghini Countach that had adorned his bedroom wall back in the day and found out that it was a truly awful car.
  • This trope was deconstructed by Penn and Teller in the Penn & Teller: Bullshit! episode "The Good 'Ol Days". They make a point in the episode about part of what causes this. They show several politicians who cite different decades as a time when things were simpler than they are now. Penn Jillette then asks, what did all these different time periods have in common? The person talking about them was a child at the time. Things seemed simpler when you were a kid.
  • A hilarious In-Universe case happens in Rome. Octavian asks his old friend Titus Pullo to accompany him on the invasion of Egypt, saying that it'll be just like one of their old adventures. Pullo gives a nervous smile because he remembers that the "old adventures" tended to include torturing and murdering people.
  • Continuum has an in-universe Fantastic Drug Retrevinol or "Flash", first appearing in episode 'Second Thoughts', that causes hallucinogenic flashbacks to pleasant past experiences that are far more satisfying than was the actual event being remembered, meaning the drug "cannot be trusted".
  • Supernatural: When he and Dean are planning to confront Satan and The Grim Reaper, Sam asks if Dean remembers how "simple" things were back when they just hunted Wendigos. Dean replies: "Not really".
  • Mocked in the Portlandia episode "Take Back MTV", where Spyke and Iris try to take over MTV and return it to its Glory Days before it turned into a tween-oriented reality TV network, hiring the real Kurt Loder, Tabitha Soren, and Matt Pinfield to storm MTV headquarters. As it turns out, there isn't much of a market for a channel devoted to aging Gen-Xers reliving their Glory Days, and people soon start tuning out.
  • Community - Britta rents out the 50s-theme diner she works at for the gang to throw a Pulp Fiction theme birthday party for Abed. When Abed doesn't show and time drags on, the owner points out that it's cutting into prime time for nostalgia-themed diners - after the evening news when frightened customers seek "the comforting foods and soothing music of a pre-racial America".
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • "Welcome to the Hellmouth" has Principal Flutie give an enthusiastic speech to Buffy about how when he was her age, students had genuine school spirit instead of being cynical slackers like today. He then sheepishly admits that, "of course, when I was your age, I was surrounded by a bunch of old guys telling me how great things were when they were my age..."
    • It's clear that several vampires who knew Angel before he regained his soul have this attitude towards Angelus, fondly remembering the guy as one of the most legendary and creative evildoers of all time, but forgetting how much of a Jerkass he was even to his fellow demons. In Season 1, the Master openly admits to missing Angelus, though flashbacks on Angel show that they didn't get along at all, with Angelus lacking the Master's grand visions for world destruction in favor of petty hedonistic sadism. Spike spends much of Season 2 wishing for Angelus's return, but when it actually happens, he immediately regrets this, as Angelus steals his girlfriend and spends half the season mocking him for the injuries that have confined him to a wheelchair, with Spike eventually teaming up with Buffy to stop Angelus from destroying the world since he actually likes the world the way it is.
    • In "Him", Buffy, Willow, Anya and Dawn come under a Love Spell. Xander has a Flashback Cut to a horde of spell-crazed women trying to murder him and Cordelia in Season 2's "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered". Cut back to Xander sighing happily. "Good times."
    • Averted with Willow in "The Killer in Me".
      Buffy: Remember when things used to be nice and boring?
      Willow: No.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Space Seed", the crew revives a 21st-century dictator named Khan Noonien Singh. Kirk, Scotty, and Bones practically fanboy over him, speaking with much admiration about how he was the best of the warlords, because he wasn't as brutal as the rest, and he had a respect for culture and knowledge. Spock tries to remind them that they're still talking about a totalitarian autocrat and that "did not commit quite as many atrocities" is really not a basis for such praise. They brush him off until, surprise surprise, Khan and his superhuman followers (and a traitorous lieutenant) take over the ship and treat the crew brutally.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: The episode "Relics" has Picard and Scotty drinking together and reminiscing about their first starships (The Stargazer and the original Enterprise, respectively). Both bask in nostalgia for the earlier days and fondness of the old times, but Picard admits that the Stargazer is, in every aspect, inferior to the Enterprise-D, and Scotty eventually gets disgusted with himself for getting so hung-up on the past, realizing it's time he moved on.
  • The Nanny: "Material Fran" ends with Fran and Maxwell going with Maggie to a Stone Temple Pilots concert, finding STP's music too harsh for their liking.
    Maxwell: "I Want To Hold Your Hand", that was music.
    Fran: Wasn't it?
    Maxwell: "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.". Now, those were lyrics.
    Fran: Brilliant.
    Maxwell:Who can relate to a song "Dead And Bloated"?
    Fran: Unless you've been to my mother's for Thanksgiving.
  • Runaways (2017) has Geoffrey often talking of his past as a gangster in glowing terms on how "we were brothers who lived by a code." Wife Catherine calls him out on how they were just dealing drugs for money and that the entire reason they met was Geoffrey pulling a coup on his boss.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • In "Time and Teresa Golowitz", Bluestone fondly remembers Mary Ellen Cosgrove as having a perfectly formed body at 16, a cross between Betty Grable and Wonder Woman. When he is sent back to October 1948, however, he finds that her body is less polished than he remembers it being. He admits to the Prince of Darkness that he can't go through with his plan to have sex with her as it would make him feel like a child molester.
    • In "The Girl I Married", Ira and Valerie Richman are both concerned that they have sold out and abandoned all of the dreams and the ideals that they had as hippies in The '60s. Each of them wishes that the other was still the person that they married. After they are visited by the spirits of their hippie selves, however, they realize that they still love each other and their lives are far from over. They also find their younger selves more than a little irritating. Although they have matured from their hippie days of LSD and driving around in a van, Ira and Valerie still want to make the world a better place in their own way.
    • "The Last Defender of Camelot" has Lancelot still alive in modern times thanks to Merlin's magic. When he learns Merlin is still alive, he's eager to help, citing how much of a friend the man was. Morgan Le Fay snaps that Lancelot only remembers the romantic version of Camelot and not how dark it was or the sinister moves Merlin used to get his own way. When he finds Merlin ready to sacrifice an innocent teenager to gain the power to "set the world right," Lancelot is forced to admit Morgan was right and he's let time warp his memories of Camelot being much brighter than it was.
  • Something of a running theme throughout The Wire,
    • During season 2 which focuses on the dockworkers, "Ain't never gonna be what it was" is said so often that it's the arc words. In some respects, they are right, in that it was better when the factories and shipyards were still open and employing people, but their reminiscing of the "good old days" also includes horrific working conditions and violence between labor strikers and management.
    • Calvin "Cheese" Wagstaff makes a good case against nostalgia and shames the other druglords for lacking enough cash despite dealing in a captive market. "We're selling coke and dope in B-more. Any of y'all ain't got that kind of money need to be ashamed. [...] There ain't no back in the day! There ain't no nostalgia to this shit here."
  • On Frasier, the title character and his brother Niles go to a comic book convention to find that a theatre actor they admired when they were young is now acting on a science fiction series. They try to get him back into theatre, only for his performance to be not quite up to par. They later find a videotape of his stage performances to give him inspiration, but they watch it first and discover he was just as terrible back then. Niles reasons that they were too young back then to realize his performance was bad and they grew up never knowing otherwise.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street: While Bayliss and Pembleton head out to the home of a murder victim's family to tell them about her death, Bayliss reflects that the world has gotten increasingly violent and waxes rhapsodic about how the 1950s were a much more peaceful and idyllic time, citing shows like I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show as evidence. Pembleton sets him straight.
    Bayliss: People weren't so violent back then. There wasn't so much killing. Shows are a reflection of the times, Frank.
    Pembleton: This is what, the '50s you're talking about?
    Bayliss: Yeah, y'know. '50s, early '60s…
    Pembleton: Any of these shows feature people in white sheets running around and burning crosses and lynching people in their front lawns?
    Bayliss: Um, not that I recall.
    Pembleton: Mm-hmm.
  • War and Peace (1972): In the final episode, Old Countess Rostov laments about the good old days before Napoleon changed/ruined everything.

  • "The Green, Green Grass of Home," with two popular versions – country, by Porter Wagoner, and pop by Tom Jones – abounding. The song begins with a picturesque homecoming, obviously after a long time away, with a man stepping off a train and being welcomed by his family and his girlfriend, Mary ("hair of gold and lips like cherry"). The young man walks through his hometown, and it hasn't changed a bit ... even the old oak tree he used to play on is still there, majestic in its glory. It sounds too good to be true ... because it is. The scene suddenly takes a dark turn as the man awakens from what's to be his final night in bed ... he was only dreaming, and he's staring at four dank, dark gray walls. He's in prison and awaiting execution at dawn ("For there's a guard, and there's a sad old padre/Arm in arm, we'll walk at daybreak"). That he'll be laid to rest beneath that green, green grass of home gives him little comfort in his final hours.
  • "20 Years Ago" by Kenny Rogers, who reflects on a simpler time – the mid-1960s – in his 1987 hit, noting about good times at the drugstore counter and the now closed movie house, and noting that an ordinary dime had lots of buying power. However, the nostalgia is tinged with bitterness and darkness, particularly as he reflects on the death of a close high school friend who was killed in action in Vietnam.
  • The Statler Brothers found great success with a number of songs reflecting on old times, sometimes fun — "Do You Remember These," a 1972 top 5 hit reflecting on popular culture from the late 1930s through the end of the 1950s; and "The Movies," a 1977 country hit that was a roll call of all the great movies from the earliest days to the then-present — and sometimes bittersweet, most notably "Class of '57."
  • Merle Haggard: For as many songs he recorded that bitterly recalled certain memories, the "Okie from Muskogee" recorded many songs that recalled good times. Some examples:
    • "Okie From Muskogee": A 1969 song paying homage to small-town life, where conservative values were the norm and outsiders with ideals contrary to the established way of life – e.g., patriotic values, with residents not using drugs, adopting hippie lifestyles, attempt to dodge the draft or challenge authority - were considered just that ... "outsiders."
    • "The Roots of My Raising" and "The Way It Was in '51": A two-sided hit from 1976 which played upon the values of home and growing up in a carefree era. "The Roots of My Raising," about a young man who visits home for the first time in several years, reflects on such childhood memories as the one-room schoolhouse, the homestead, father and bankers who had absolute faith in their customers' ability to repay loans. "The Way it Was in '51," which became a minor hit of its own in 1978 (and still gets classic country airplay today as a "B"-side) spoke about a now middle-aged man's teenage years, before rock music and Interstate highways, when camaraderie was found amongst small town residents and neighbors and Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell were unquestionably the most popular singers of the day. "The Way it Was in '51" made a reference to The Korean War, and the line "servicemen were proud of what they'd done" was perhaps a sly reference to the Vietnam War, where not all veterans were "proud" of their service and they were shunned when they got back.
    • "Are the Good Times Really Over (I Wish a Buck Was Still Silver)," his 1982 hit that paints a much darker picture of the (then) current time (the 1980s) and the recent past, with memories of Watergate and the Vietnam War still fresh. While he doesn't specifically come out against The Beatles or Elvis Presley or even microwave ovens, they are used as reference points for a life that was better prior to the 1950s: A woman was still willing to cook for her family, people still worked for a living (even at modest wages), American-made cars lasted 10 years (or more), and that people stood up for what's right and respected freedom. The song does, toward the end, hint at optimism: By returning to old-school values, "the best of the free life is still yet to come, and the good times ain't over for good."
  • Charley Pride: His 1978 hit "Burgers and Fries." While it doesn't point to a specific era, the lyrics recall a more carefree time (some time earlier) that a young couple wishes they could go back to – this includes holding hands while walking on the beach and making love in the back of a car while at a drive-in movie theater.
  • Garth Brooks: Several of his songs recall past times, sometimes with wistful remembrance, sometimes bittersweet. Probably the best example of this trope was "Unanswered Prayers", his fourth No. 1 hit from early 1991. Here, a young man and his wife are at a high school football game when he encounters his high school sweetheart. As the young man introduces his former girlfriend to his wife, he remembers the time he was dating her (implied to be the most beautiful, most desirable girl in his class) and that, by constantly praying to God, one day he would marry her and they'd be together forever. As the two catch up with each other, they begin talking about old times and he soon realizes that "she wasn't quite the angel that I'd remembered in my dream," and "I can tell that time had changed me, in her eyes too, it seemed." After a short conversation the two depart and, while happy he has seen the former girlfrield again, the young man is thankful for the "unanswered prayers": He is now happily married to his wife and their life is content.
  • The song "I used to love H.E.R" by Common just reeks of this trope. In this case Common is reminiscing about how Hip-hop changed with the times, but at a certain point it's clear he feels saddened by what it eventually became.
  • The Futureheads song "Christmas Was Better in the 80s".
  • Bob Seger built his career on nostalgia, with songs like "Old Time Rock and Roll" and "Night Moves".
    • And "Against the Wind" and "Like a Rock" and "Still the Same" and "Main Street." Every song is about how awesome things were when Seger was younger.
  • "Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams could be considered to use this in response to the Glory Days trope, though it doesn't look back at 1969 as much, never mind the sexually position of the same name, done in that wonderful summer.
    • Also "Boys of Summer" by Don Henley. Though in that one the singer acknowledges his foolishness becase "those days are gone forever, I should just let 'em go":
    Out on the road today, I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac
    A little voice inside my head said "Don't look back, you can never look back."
  • The most popular interpretation of Don McLean's epic American Pie is a tribute to the rock 'n' roll of the 1950s, and an indictment of where rock music had gone astray from there by the early 1970s.
  • The Kinks would often wax nostalgic for a bygone England that possibly never existed, but could also show some perspective, like "Where Have All the Good Times Gone", hear here.
    • Steeleye Span's "Hard Times of Old England" is more or less the inverse of this trope, though it concludes on the hopeful note that the singer is looking forward to a day when he'll be able to play the trope straight and look back on "jolly good times."
  • "It Was A Very Good Year", sung by Frank Sinatra. A song being sung by an old man reminiscing over various periods in his life and the women he enjoyed.
  • Meat Loaf, kinda. From Bat out of Hell 3 is the song "The Future Just Ain't What It Used to Be". So, all about how the future looked brighter when he was younger.
    • Also, the tail end of "Paradise By the Dashboard Light".
    Well, it was long ago and it was far away, and it was so much better than it is today...
  • "From a Dead Beat to an Old Greaser" by Jethro Tull has the main protagonist, Ray Lomas, bump into a man waxing nostalgic about his beatnik days. Lomas takes no interest in the beat's stories, saying "I didn't care, friend. I wasn't there, friend". If the comic from the sleeve of the song's parent album, Too Old to Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young to Die!, is any indication, Lomas is just as prone to this, especially in the title track.
  • Averted by Billy Joel's "Keeping the Faith":
    You know, the good old days weren't always good, and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems!
    • "We Didn't Start The Fire'' was specifically written by Joel as a defiance to this trope. He got the inspiration from a young studio worker telling him that people of Joel's generation didn't have any problems or major upheavals in their day.
  • "All Summer Long" by Kid Rock looks back at the summer of 1989 as a carefree time of young love and having fun down at the lake (though ironically while sampling a song from 1974).
  • "Wasted Years" by Iron Maiden.
    So understand
    Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years
    Face up, make your stand
    And realize you're living in the golden years
  • "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand.
    Memories can be beautiful, and yet
    What's too painful to remember
    We simply choose to forget...
  • Some of Funeral for a Friend's fanbase complained when the band went slightly poppier for their second album Hours, and more for their progressive third album Tales Don't Tell Themselves. The band realised this and have based the subsequent part of their career around 'getting back to their hardcore roots', specifically their first two EPs and first album. They like to remind people of this with playing their first two EPs live in order, calling the four songs recorded for their best of 'an EP's worth of new songs', bringing back screamed vocals, releasing an independent EP called The Young and Defenseless, of which two songs went on the album and two didn't (mirroring their EP Four Ways to Scream Your Name). Their album Conduit is a return to the hardcore roots they had before they even recorded an EP. Despite this, some fans still say they aren't as good as those early works, even though they've produced many songs in that style since.
  • SR-71's song "1985", made famous by the Bowling for Soup cover is about this. A middle-aged suburban soccer mom can't cope with the fact that it's not The '80s any more, that she's not going to be a star, or that the musicians she grew up listening to are now played on the oldies and classic rock stations, and she wants to go back to when she was a teenager.
  • Boards of Canada's music, despite being entirely instrumental (with the exception of occasional voice samples), is suffused with a sense of vague nostalgia, frequently described by both reviewers and listeners as sounding like hazy, half-forgotten memories or something along those lines.
  • One of many things mocked in "God Save The Queen" by The Sex Pistols, which says that there is no future if you try to use a Nostalgia Filter to solve your problems.
  • "Back in the Day" by Ahmad, a hip-hop song that's filled with syrupy nostalgia. It's arguably the poster child for nostalgia in the hip-hop community, along with songs like "T.R.O.Y." by Pete Rock & CL Smooth, and "Passin Me By" by Pharcyde.
  • In "Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head", by They Might Be Giants, the first verse touches on this, with lines such as "It was not, not, not so great"
  • "Baggy Trousers" (from Absolutely) and "Our House" (from The Rise & Fall) are both nostalgic songs by Madness about their school boy days and living with their family at home. Despite being sentimental, they are also comical since they depict the children as having all kinds of hijinks and misbehaving.
  • "Those Were The Days" by Mary Hopkin is a nostalgic song about the joys of the past. It was released during The '60s, but is ironically often used in nostalgic TV shows about the 1960s, even though it originally didn't reflect on that time period.
  • "As Time Goes By", made famous by the film Casablanca looks back on the memories of a love from long ago.
  • "Things We Said Today" from A Hard Day's Night and "In My Life" from Rubber Soul are The Beatles songs who are both an example as well as an subversion. They look nostalgically back at now from the viewpoint of the future.
  • "We'll Meet Again" by Vera Lynn has become extremely nostalgic for people who went through World War Two in Great Britain. It's united the country in a way that was so powerful that virtually every World War Two film or series set in Great Britain has to resist the tendency to use it, because it has become such a Standard Snippet. Which is odd considering that the time period looked back on was when Britain was bombed by German airplanes and people had to tighten their belts because of rationing. Now, it's mostly known ala Dr. Strangelove.
  • "Mon Enfance" by Jacques Brel looks back at his childhood and how the illusions were destroyed by World War Two. "Rosa Rosa Rosa" is a more playful song about his school days as a young boy.
    • Same title, different song "Mon Enfance" by Barbara, is about her revisiting the house where she grew up as a kid and her ambivalent feelings about it, including the text "the war threw us out there, we lived as outlaws and I loved that, when I think about it...", and by the end stating that the memories from the childhood are the worst, because they hurt us.
  • "They Can't Take That Away From Me" by George Gershwin is about the good memories the protagonist has about his loved one. It was covered by Frank Sinatra on Songs for Young Lovers.
  • "Play Dough!" by The Aquabats! is about a nerd reminiscing on the carefree days of his childhood.
  • German hit from 2013/2014, "Lieder" from Adel Tawil, is a trip down memory lane to all the music that was important to him becoming what he was. Most pieces of music referenced are from the '80s, though references stretch from the 1850s to quite recent pieces.
  • The song "Früher war alles besser" by German mittelalter band Saltatio Mortis mocks this trope. It starts out seeming like another song reminiscing about the good old days, when everyone could find a job and the banks weren't corrupt, but the chorus tells everyone to stop thinking in such a way. It even outright calls anyone who believes in the 'good old days' an idiot. The claims about how things were better in the past get progressively more ridiculous as the song goes on, getting to the point where it's claimed that back then, the ice never melted in your drink.
  • The Wada Takeaki song "Dance VR Dance!" uses this as the twist at the end: even though the adults chastise the protagonist for using her Virtual Reality helmet as an escapist mechanism, they're living in a 'VR world' themselves whenever they talk about the old days as a morally superior paradise.
  • "These Are the Days of Our Lives" by Queen puts a more positive spin on the trope: the old days were great, but hey, the present is pretty good too.
  • Toy Dolls: "Back in '79" is a lament dedicated to all the bad's old friends from the punk scene in The '70s, who are now staid pillars of the same establishment they once railed against.
    They ain't the lads you knew before
    You don't see them down the pub no more.
    They're discontented mates of mine
    Who wanna be back in 1979
  • The Secret Chord's appropriately named "Back In Time" reflects on the pop culture trends of The '80s.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic parodies this (of course) in "Good Old Days", fondly recalling his dad mowing lawns, his mom making pies, him torturing rats with hacksaws and pulling the wings off of flies...
  • Mocked in Lard's "70's Rock Must Die", a song that uses a Hard Rock style straight out of The '70s to utterly eviscerate the nostalgia for that decade that was proliferating in the late '90s. The singer Jello Biafra describes it as a decade of "bogus bands, plastic rock stars, stupid clothes, and the worst-made cars" when it absolutely sucked to be a teenager, and the fact that anybody could be nostalgic for it was more an indictment of how dull The '90s were than anything else. The only thing from the '70s that he remembers fondly is the serial killers, glibly remarking near the end that "they don't make 'em like the Son of Sam."
  • Eminem's tastes in Hip-Hop are rooted decidedly in the old school. As fashions in hip-hop changed around him, rarely in directions he liked, he found himself frequently writing songs torching more modern hip-hop and rappers.
    • His writer's block period in 2005-2007 was related in part to the rise of snap music, a simplified party style that emphasizes beats and hooks over lyricism, and he wrote a few mean-spirited satires of the trend in this era (particularly "Ballin' Uncontrollably", which casts Slim Shady as a psychotically evil Glam Rapper, and "My Syllables", in which he gets 50 Cent and Jay-Z to join in with his whining about music sucking nowadays). Even in interviews after his Career Resurrection when he'd got his love of rap back, Eminem admitted he had little interest in most of the hip-hop in 2009, apart from T.I. and Lil Wayne, who he adored.
    • Eminem's lack of interest in the anti-technical hip-hop of the 2010s led to him shifting into pop, which he found gave him more freedom to explore his personal style, which had always been an outlier even in his heyday. After Revival was slammed by critics and hip-hop heads alike for being too poppy and outdated, Eminem responded with the surprise album Kamikaze in which he insulted, parodied, and mocked modern radio hip-hop as Follow the Leader Trap Music done by no-talents with no real love for the medium. While many blasted the album for being one of the genre's elders attacking the young (or even found it racist, seeing as it was a middle-aged white man insulting the young and largely black), Eminem admitted in interviews and even in the songs themselves that he loved some Trap Music and could get why people liked certain artists even if he didn't, and that there'd been just as much hip-hop he hated around the time he grew up. His point had actually been to criticize a shift he felt had emerged in hip-hop over the last five years where, instead of encouraging rappers with original styles, your music was considered bad if you didn't sound the same as other artists.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible alludes to this at Ecclesiastes 7:10, making this Older Than Dirt.
    "Don't say, 'How has it happened that former times were better than these?' For it is not wise of you to ask that question."

  • When the dimension-hopping antics of Sequinox land the girls in a 1950's-themed world in episode 10, Shannon describes it as the 50s that the 80s remember, with no racism or bigotry and only the aesthetic remaining.
  • In the Gundamn! podcast's segment on The Transformers: The Movie, they mention that most of the fanbase's regard for Transformers: Generation 1 really comes from the movie, rather than the TV series, which was pretty formulaic. ("What stupid plan will Megatron come up with to steal more Energon cubes? How will Starscream try to betray Megatron and fail yet again?")
  • On an episode of Welcome To Nightvale, guest host Leonard Burton hates that anything has changed from the way things used to be, including the sun moving in the sky.
    Leonard: The past is always better than the present, and the future is worst of all.
  • The podcast '80s All Over was created by critics Drew McWeeny and Scott Weinberg partially as a response to this trope getting in the way of genuine discussion and analysis of cinema of The '80s, noting that only about 35-40 films of the decade they grew up in were regularly celebrated/revived. The format has them look at the decade month by month, revisiting every major and most of the minor U.S. film releases that came out and seeing "what worked then, what endures now" (as the intro puts it). As they track the trends and styles that rose and fell over the decade, they freely admit that for all the movies that have aged well — famous hits, ones that were big in the day but have not entered Small Reference Pools, and ones that just flew under the radar — there are plenty that haven't (they've noted more than once that they're dreading having to revisit Top Gun, and have a grudge against most of the teen sex comedies of the era for their morally abhorrent lead characters and alarming treatment of women), and take the time to put their success or lack thereof into the larger socio-political context of the decade.

    Print Media 
  • The Rolling Stone magazine article: "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time." Written in 2004, it included only 3 songs from the 2000s and a truly massive number from the 1960s and early '70s, roughly coinciding with the rise of the magazine itself. Probably 400 or so of those songs (and their artists) were regularly panned by the magazine when they were the Top 40 of the day. This is to say nothing of the fact that only a small fraction of the songs are from before the 60s.
  • TV Guide compiled a list of the greatest TV shows in history. It was revealed later that the hardest decision they had was which of two shows should be named #1: I Love Lucy or Seinfeld. They decided go with Seinfeld. The decision was met with quite a lot of backlash (too Jewish, postmodern and/or cynical?).
  • Chicago Tribune writer Mary Schmich, in her column "Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted on the Young" (which was later used as the basis of the late-90s dance hit "(Everybody's Free to) Wear Sunscreen") referenced this trope frequently; early on she advised her young readers, "Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked." Toward the end of her column she added, "Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • As far as Jim Cornette is concerned, Professional Wrestling is dead, dead, dead, and will never have the legitimacy it had in the days of Bill Watts and Jim Crockett. Furthermore, guys like Kenny Omega are a disgrace to the business and would have been blackballed and/or beaten up back in his day.

  • When Windows XP came out, people reacted to the new user interface in the same way, as they later did to the Windows 8. Endless rants were on forums and computer magazines about how childish it was, its impact on system performance was even worse (that time, only a minimal graphic acceleration was used for the GUI, most of it was done by the CPU). But well, first you could turn it off, second it followed the god-awful Windows ME, third it was a long runner and almost everybody forgot about it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Weaponized in Warhammer. Dwarf Longbeards are, well old dwarves who've Seen It All, and "always grumble about how today's Goblins are smaller and weedier than they used to be, and how nothing is as well made today as it was in their days". Dwarves near them do their best not to fail Leadership tests lest it set off another round of Grumpy Old Man complaining.
  • Gorkamorka: A line says that orks sell their craptastic first gun as soon as they can to buy a better one. Once they get older and better equipped, seeing younger orks running around with their own craptastic shootas make them briefly nostalgic.
  • BattleTech: The Star League, a Fictional United Nations of sorts which has been long dead for 300 years, had numerous secret civil wars between the founding Great Houses, and waged wars of aggression against the independent Periphery states, bringing them under the Star League's heel in brutal wars with numerous atrocities committed. After an Evil Chancellor usurped power and inadvertently sparked 300 years of total war and the subsequent devastation of the technological base, everyone not in the Periphery looks fondly upon the old days of the united peace of the Star League. The leaders of the Successor States all long to become the First Lord of a reborn Star League.
  • Avenue Q: "I Wish I Could Go Back to College" is this combined with Growing Up Sucks.
  • Jersey Boys: Bob Gaudio's narration segment about the band's rise to fame makes it seem like everything was smooth sailing until the end of Act One when Tommy DeVito's gambling problems are revealed. However, when Nick Massi takes over at the beginning of Act Two, he reveals that several incidents caused tension to build up in the group long before that happened.

    Video Games 
  • This is why Retro Gaming exists. The Retro Gaming movement is the result of this trope getting tangled with Technology Marches On. Those bitten hard by the retrogaming bug will even go through great lengths to procure hardware and games they played in with their childhood, never mind if they actually developed a hatred of the game shortly after and forgot about it, due to the filter. even had a name for it: "happy sappy delusion syndrome", with the sappy part kicking in shortly after the reality incursion and the goggles self-destruct, and the hatred rediscovered.
  • Pick any unlicensed gacha based on Long-Runners like Pokémon. Chances are it will remind the Player Character (and the audience) that some things from the franchise's past are great, like how in a Digimon bootleg a character or the Loading Screen will remind how fun summer with Digimon was.
  • The reason why people will try to run retro gaming systems on a CRT, despite the display technology being obsolete since the mid 2000s isn't because of some Nostalgia Filter (though some may claim it's part of the experience). It's because a lot of developers designed the game's presentation around composite video artifacting and how CRTs display the image. For instance, the Sega Genesis couldn't do alpha blending like the SNES could, but by using color dithering patterns, the artist could get the efffect from composite artifacting which blends colors together. Another use was to use dithering to make the image look like it has more colors than the system was technically capable of, which can help avoid color banding. Without at least composite artifacting, you'll see how the pixels were really arranged, which may not look as pleasant.
  • Invoked in Assassin's Creed Syndicate. When Shaun finds out the team are visiting London in 1868, he is ecstatic at the thought of being able to taste real London beers from the time before everything was taken over by soulless macrobreweries and brewing became a Lowest Common Denominator industry. However, he quickly comes to the realization that beer brewed before modern brewery advances (in 1868 single-strain yeast cultivation was still only doable in labs, and wouldn't become commercially viable for another decade, to start), food safety legislation, and industrial process controls is pretty universally terrible. Shaun laments that all the beers he gets to sample have "side notes of sturgeon and the dark tears of a recently divorced ploughman" and wonders if the team are trolling him by reprogramming Helix to mess up his taste impressions.
  • In Bear & Breakfast, Oliver the busman says that they don't make games "like they used to".
    "How do they make 'em? Look bud, I just play 'em."
  • Donkey Kong Country: Cranky Kong is this. Three-fourths of the time, he's grumping on how better much games were back in his day, and how overrated our current gaming features are. Not to say he hasn't good reason to be bitter; he's supposed to be the the original Donkey Kong from the arcade game.
  • In Golf Story, the grumpy old golfers of Tidy Park have this going on. They reminisce about playing for leisure over the more modern concept of playing for a low score ("a tidy six is better than a messy four") and require members to use vintage clubs any time they're on the property
  • Grand Theft Auto:
  • IGN:
    • Their strongly critical review of the 20th anniversary rerelease of Another World claims that, while it was a classic game in its time, the only reason why it's still a classic today is because of this trope, and that time and nostalgia have caused people to forget about the game's poor controls and frustrating gameplay.
    • They lobbied the exact same comment at the Wii virtual console rerelease of Cruis'n USA, arguing that it was "never a good game" despite what this trope might suggest.
  • This trope has been discussed by some gaming commentators regarding the HD version of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. When footage of the HD version was first released, some gamers complained that the new version barely looked any different from the 2006 original. Then when comparison videos were released showing that there is a pretty big difference in areas such as texture quality, lighting, shadows, anti-aliasing, and the HD version runs at a native resolution much higher than the original's 480p, people began to realize the "issue" is more that the HD version simply looks like how people remembered the 2006 original.
  • Defied in Mass Effect 2. When Shepard asks Joker if he misses how things were in the first game, he's quick to point out that those only seem like "the good old days" in retrospect.
  • Night in the Woods is set in the Dying Town of Possum Springs, which used to make most of its money off the mines, which have long since closed, leaving many of the residents broke and the old mom and pop shops to get squeezed out by huge chains. Many of the older residents reminisce about the good ol' days, when everyone had a job and things weren't so dire. However, learning more about the town's history makes it obvious that, as bad as things currently are, the good ol' days weren't all that good, either; the mines were dangerous, the workers were exploited and underpaid, and the town itself is built on hostile terrain that resulted in many deaths. The Cult of the Black Goat justifies their Human Sacrifice by saying it'll restore the town to its former glory. Bea asks them, point-blank, if any of them ever actually worked in the mines. Unsurprisingly, none of them have.
  • The 61-year-old Reinhardt in Overwatch is not particularly fond of 2070's "techno music", and tries to get younger folks like his fellow Hero Lucio to listen to "the classics" such as David Hasselhoff.
  • Arthur Geis of Rebel FM stated that the Xbox Live Arcade game Perfect Dark HD was what gamers remembered what the original version of Perfect Dark was like.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials & Tribulations. Victor Kudo, a grumpy-beyond-reason old man. He constantly laments the old days and how everything was better and how he hates all the new gadgets and all their fancy names. Feels all the more awkward considering he occasionally rants about "the old bushido values of Japan" among all things, while localization made the setting clearly American.
    Victor Kudo: In the good old days, we would have drank every last drop, eaten the cup, and then died!
    Phoenix: (Congratulations. You have earned the title of Battiest Man to Grace a Courtroom.)
  • By the end of the Prequel Red Dead Redemption 2 , John Marston can barely stand to be around his mentor, Dutch Van Der Linde and was convinced he was Evil All Along but managed to hide it. However during the events of the first game that takes place twelve years later, Red Dead Redemption , he holds fondness for him and thinks he genuinely changed post-Sanity Slippage. It’s unclear if this is something intentional or if it’s something that came from them working backward and not having hammered out the events of his downfall before the first game that just simply works within the narrative.
  • In Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, Sam comes across a bucket of fish from the original Lucasarts game Hit The Road and fondly remembers how much simpler things were back then. Max quips that things were a LOT more complicated back then.
  • This is the whole reason behind the existence of Shovel Knight. It's a Retraux game that borrows liberally from what are widely considered to be among the best games ever on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

  • Penny Arcade summed it up pretty well in one strip. "It's the job of young people to make things which old people despise. It's the job of old people to denigrate the work of the young. That is the system. Someday, we will hate them ourselves."
  • Not Invented Here: Desmond feels like a kid again when his first computer is mailed to him by his uncle Lou. He snaps out of it when Geordi mentions every remaining computer of that model working together would roughly equal the computing power of one iPhone, but use way more electricity.
  • The Whiteboard: Sent up in the paintball domain here and in the next strip, comparing paintballing in the past to that in the present.
  • Parodied in this Cyanide and Happiness strip. The old man misses the "good old days" because of the rampant intolerance. His younger relative cheerfully claims this is why he never visits.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: "Pop music peaked at the exact moment I was most emotionally vulnerable to trite love song."
  • In NIMONA, at one point when Friendly Enemies Goldenloin and Ballister are talking together, Goldenloin waxes nostalgic for their younger days. Ballister, who is much less naive and remembers clearly that in their younger days they were orphans who taken in by The Institution, a group that secretly controls the Kingdom's government and which raised the two of them to be soldiers for the group before turning them against each other, is pretty blunt in shooting down Goldenloin's nostalgia.
    Goldenloin: I just meant... there was a time. Before. Things were simpler. We were together. It was... good.
    Ballister: It was never that good. You always remember things as being better than they were.

    Web Original 
  • Mocked many times by The Onion.
  • Cracked has done multiple articles about this trope.
  • "Remember when /b/ was good?" "/b/ was never good." For those who don't speak internet; the imageboard /b/, the source of most memes, is full of people who have matured to the point where the rather immature, gross-out and horrible humor of /b/ no longer amuses them, and complain about the new users, claiming that they are the "cancer that is killing /b/."
  • This tweet by Discographies on Journey sums up the phenomenon perfectly. The channel itself is a ruthless aversion, stripping away the filter with pithy and accurate sum-ups of the output of classic bands across the spectrum:
    "Journey: 1-3 "You are getting sleepy..."; 4-13 "When you wake, it will be the future, and no-one will be able to remember how lame this was."
  • Candle Cove starts out playing this trope straight, but then we learn about all the gory details.
  • Any Sporcle music quiz regarding recent music (Billboard year-end lists, United States of Pop, #1 hits...) will be filled with comments both blasting today's songs and praising the ones from their age.
  • Discussed in this article on Kotaku about how to improve "retro" gaming services like the PlayStation 3's PSOne Classics.
    "This week, thanks to the big Final Fantasy sale, I bought FFIX on PSN to play on my Vita. I wanted to play it again with fresh eyes. Problem is, when you play a game with fresh eyes, you suddenly start to notice problems that you forgot about over the years, like the ridiculous random encounter rate and the 5-10 seconds it takes for the 'disc' to load before each battle even starts. I put 'disc' in scare-quotes because, remember, there is no PS1 disc. This is an emulator on my Vita running the game."
  • This article examines the special effects from the Star Wars franchise, focusing on the backlash against the use of CGI throughout the Prequel Trilogy, noting that the methods used are ultimately not that different from those of the Original Trilogy.
    The thesis that limitations lead to genius is just flat-out illogical. If we gave The Beatles crappier guitars or we gave your new favorite band vintage equipment, would they make better music? No. They would make music with the tools at their disposal.
  • When he originally reviewed Gears of War in 2006, Jeff Gerstmann showered it with praise and gave it a 9.6 out of 10 (on Gamespot's scale), but when he returned to it for its Ultimate Edition rerelease on Xbox One in 2015, nine years and countless cover-based shooters later, he felt that it hadn't held up well, giving it just two stars out of five (on Giant Bomb's scale) and arguing that people's continued affection for it came down to this. With Once Original, Now Common rendering its gameplay innovations old hat, its problems, such as dumb AI, repetitive gameplay, and a bare-bones online multiplayer mode, became more readily apparent, especially in light of its own sequels that managed to refine and improve upon its foundation.
  • Mocked in a series of Deadspin articles by Drew Magary called "Why Your Children's Television Program Sucks", devoted to explaining why the popular kids' TV shows that parents have to suffer through, past and present (Thomas & Friends and Saved by the Bell are not immune), are so terrible. His article on the Disney Channel Kid Com Jessie is especially pertinent.
    "Because that's exactly what my kid needs to see: a bunch of materialistic little shits running around a penthouse with a goddamn pet komodo dragon at their beck and call. It wasn't like this when I was growing up! Back in my day, television shows depicted kids living in TOTALLY REALISTIC circumstances. Shows like Diff'rent Strokes and Silver Spoons and The Fresh Prince of Bel— OH MY GOD NOTHING HAS CHANGED."
  • Science fiction and fantasy writer Jo Walton refers to the process of having one's Nostalgia Filter broken as being paid a visit from the "Suck Fairy". She describes it as happening most often when people go back to revisit books that they loved as kids, before their tastes in literature evolved, with Values Dissonance and the recognition of overused tropes and cliches being among the most common causes.
  • Troy Steele of Blogger Beware cited this trope in his review of Earth Geeks Must Go!, the penultimate book in the Goosebumps 2000 collection, as the reason why his reviews of the original-series Goosebumps books weren't as mean as he could've made them. In that particular review, Troy outright states that he felt "nostalgic glee" in reviewing the classic books, and that, while he does hate a few of them, he loved them as a child and used that love to prevent his reviews from being too cruel. In fact, he even explains that part of the reason the 2000 reviews got progressively meaner is because he didn't read them as a kid and didn't develop the same appreciation for them.
    Troy: I kind of feel like all of the nostalgic glee that used to fuel my earlier entries has been replaced with easy tomato-lobbing — I didn't read these more recent books when I was a kid, it's hard for me to figure the appeal this new series has for anyone, and thus making fun of something that obviously sucks seems like something less than a challenge.

    Web Videos 
  • The Nostalgia Critic: His job is showing the world that the '80s and early '90s had their fair share of utterly terrible shows and movies, as you can guess by his name.
    • The Nostalgia Filter attitude was also mocked in the end of his Pokémon: The First Movie review, where after spending a good portion of the review complaining about the weirdness of the premise, comes to the realization that popular eighties cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Care Bears (1980s) had pretty ridiculous premises themselves before shouting "THOSE WERE THE DAYS!".
    • In a video where he watches the first few episodes of the '80s Ninja Turtles cartoon, he's forced to admit that the whole thing is kind of dumb, but that doesn't make it any less fun.
    • When reviewing Follow That Bird, Doug eventually breaks down and says he can't bear to criticize a movie he has such fond memories for. So he gives the job to his character Chester A. Bum.
    • The episode "The Dark Age of Film" is all about tearing apart nostalgia for '90s blockbusters. He refers to the second half of the '90s as a low point for the Summer Blockbuster, with many films stuffed with overblown spectacle and abuse of the new technology of CGI, at the expense of plot and characters (which often amounted to annoying nerd stereotypes fighting for survival against Stuff Blowing Up). In his opinion, this is a big part of the reason why films like Face/Off, The Mask of Zorro, and the first Men in Black are so fondly remembered — they were among the few legitimately good, clever, and creative summer action movies to come out in that era, standing out that much more in the sea of suck around them. He's baffled that anybody could be nostalgic for this era, arguing that, as many problems as blockbuster filmmaking may have today, we should be grateful that it doesn't suck as badly as it did back then.
  • The Nostalgia Chick does this too, just with girly movies and the occasional male-geek-adored Cult Classic like Dune (1984) and The Transformers: The Movie. She also did a video on how Disney built its brand around cuddly, feel-good nostalgia and historical revisionism, and how the film Saving Mr. Banks explored this.
  • James Rolfe, a.k.a. The Angry Video Game Nerd, does this, too, but for video games. Because, sure, the 80s-90s generation have fond memories of playing Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda and Mega Man for the old NES... But the games that are fondly remembered are in no way indicative of the average production values back in those days, they were more like diamonds in a steaming heap of crap, and James made sure to remind us all of this fact by producing over 120 episodes dedicated to shitty games that suck ass.
  • SMBC Theater: "Cavemen" — as pointed out, nostalgia has been a staple of humanity since before it was humanity:
    Dad: Biggest rock is best rock.
    Son: Sometimes. Sometimes, small rock is good rock.
    Uncle: Don't give me your liberal bullshit!
  • Skewered here by Benzaie, who alleges that all the problems that gamers complain about today (genre oversaturation, Mission Pack Sequels, etc.) were just as present in The '90s, the "golden age" of gaming.
  • Hadriex seems to revel in old games like "Simon's Quest," but every once in awhile he admits that one of his favorite childhood games isn't actually very good.
  • Pitchfork of Socks Make People Sexy is quite guilty of this; tasked with doing a Final Fantasy Retrospective, he started with declaring his blind admiration for classics and then to...well, let's just say that Final Fantasy XIII didn't help. At all.
  • Bob Chipman has discussed his own (quite strong) nostalgia filter for '80s and early '90s gaming and pop culture on several occasions, and has described his show The Big Picture as being built largely on '80s nostalgia.
    • Played straight and averted, respectively, with his treatment of The '80s and The '90s. Bob is not a fan of the latter decade, frequently accompanying mentions of it with a stock photo of Randy "The Ram" Robinson with the caption "The '90s sucked", and he has little love for most of the pop culture trends of that era (Nineties anti heroes, post-modern teen horror, et cetera). On the other hand, he loves the '80s, cheesiness and all. He states that this was because the '90s were his awkward, schlubby teen years that came in between his wondrous childhood in the '80s and his present-day success as an internet personality.
    • Bob later re-examined his original view of both the political and pop culture attitudes of the 90s. While admitting 90s did have some good stuff, Bob considered the time to be a cultural dead zone with no real identity outside of references to previous eras like the 70s and 50s. He finds the answer to this in Francis Fukuyama's famous treatise The End of History, stating that the West's victory in the Cold War had produced a sort of ennui that, in turn, produced a culture of nostalgia and introspection. 9/11 quickly shattered that culture.
    • Averted, and examined, with his treatment of The Simpsons. While going over the older seasons, Bob noticed that most of the episodes he thought were comic gold as a kid didn't age well, while the episodes he thought were boring when they first aired became much better now that he was old enough to appreciate the humor. He concludes that The Simpsons didn't jump the shark like its fans thought it did, but rather, its fans grew up and their tastes in humor changed, and the show didn't change with them. Plus, there's the fact that the show, a broad satire of the greater pop culture, is a relic of a time stretching from roughly 1950-2000 when pop culture was largely monolithicnote  — the early '00s, the time most commonly cited as when The Simpsons "stopped being funny", is also the time when the internet and cable television fragmented pop culture into a million little shards and subcultures.
    • When he revisited the show during FXX's marathon of every episode in 2014, not only did it reinforce his opinion that this trope was in full effect on the earlier seasons, it also caused him to notice a microcosm of this trope in how Maude Flanders was portrayed. After she was killed off, both the characters on the show and many viewers came to remember Maude as a paragon of saintliness, yet as Bob watched the old episodes she was in, he mostly saw her acting judgmental, acidic, and catty, to the point where he couldn't wait for her to be killed off.
    • He's argued that, while AKIRA is a good movie, the reason why most Americans view it as a classic is because of this trope, saying that it was most Americans' first "real" experience with anime that hadn't been watered down.
    • In his review of Truth or Dare (2018), he decides to look up the cast members to see if they were famous for anything, as he was pushing forty and was out of the loop on teen culture. He was surprised to learn that they made a TV adaptation of Teen Wolf (Truth or Dare starred one of that show's lead actors, Tyler Posey), a movie that he thought sucked, and used that film as proof that younger generations shouldn't always listen to people like him when they tell them that everything made in The '80s was golden.
    • In the Big Picture episode "Familiar Things," he discusses how Stranger Things makes use of '80s nostalgia and how much of the discourse surrounding it concerns whether or not pop culture as a whole is too obsessed with the past. He notes that the nostalgia cycles for The '80s and The '90s have gone on for far longer than people ever expected they would, and attributes this to the fact that the great pop culture trends of the 21st century, unlike their analog-era predecessors, never fully went away, citing how Pokémon and Power Rangers were still thriving over twenty years after their respective debuts even though they were both old enough to be nostalgic. He also discusses how a lot of the '80s pop culture that inspired Stranger Things was itself inspired by nostalgia for The '40s and The '50s, with the Baby Boomers of that decade being the first generation to turn nostalgia into an industry — and promptly has an "oh dear God" reaction at the thought that, in twenty years, there will be nostalgia for The New '10s.
    • In the Big Picture episode "Old Man Bob," he talks about his experiences with his parents' nostalgia for their childhoods in the '50s and '60s and how the nostalgia bug didn't bite them until they hit middle age and had kids of their own, whereas Generation X, which he counted himself as part of the tail end of, started getting nostalgic for their childhoods almost from the moment they became adults. Oddly enough, he attributes this to a desire by many Gen-Xers to seem older and more worldly, noting how many of the heroes of '90s teen culture were twentysomethings like Kurt Cobain and Dante Hicks who felt like they'd already turned into grumpy old men. This got him wondering about what would happen when his generation actually did hit middle age — a question that was seemingly answered when NBC's Peacock streaming service announced revivals of Punky Brewster and Saved by the Bell as some of its first offerings, the trailers for which (especially the latter) simply made him feel old.
  • Honest Trailers' Take That! on Michael Bay's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) ends with the narrator fighting with a young kid on the quality of the movie. When the kid suggests that the turtles weren't as good in his time, the narrator snaps back that they were. Cut to an incredibly campy scene from 1991's The Secret of the Ooze.
    Narrator: Ugh. Touche.
  • Parodied in this YouTube video by user Ukinojoe about "90s Kids."
  • This sort of thing is also skewed by RebelTaxi in this video.
  • Bennett the Sage Discussed this in his Anime Abandon Videos. He feels that Anime was at its best in the nineties, but also at its worst, which is where a good backbone of the show comes from.
  • Memorably discussed in the Jake and Amir episode "Facebook Redesign," which reveals that Amir has complained about every single Facebook redesign with the same claim that the layout was "perfect" before the change.
    Jake: You just said it was perfect. The same version you hated two years ago. You just called it perfect.
    Amir: Garbage becomes perfect over time as you get used to the garbage and forget what made it so bad.
  • Averted by Luke Spencer of Rocked in his Regretting the Past series, where he looks back on terrible yet successful rock and metal albums from the past in order to spotlight some of the terrible trends in rock from yesteryear. The late '90s and early '00s especially are painted as a rough time for the genre, a time when it seemed as though the biggest bands were driven primarily by wangst, meatheaded aggression, and "rebel" posturing to the point that it obscured whatever genuine talent some of their members had, all while Fred Durst wielded a frightening amount of power as a rock and metal tastemaker.
  • Stop Skeletons From Fighting: Averted and/or subverted; Derek proves that there really is some stuff in the past that is really good, some of it just got passed over. Played straight in his reviews of Mega Man 9 and 10. He acknowledges that he rated 9 — which helped kick off the recent Retraux trend — as highly as he did partly for this specific reason. Now that "all that's old is new again" is getting...well, old again, he was able to take off his nostalgia-tinted lenses for 10. He does stand by his original review for 9, though, and cites other reasons why 10 is a weaker game.
  • Josh of The Geek Critique dedicates his 2022 re-review of Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! to discussing this trope, admitting that the original 2015 video was rooted in it, as he hated the game as a child and wrote most of that script before even playing the game assuming he'd feel the same way as an adult. Towards the end of his far more positive second look at the game, he spends some time critiquing that old video directly, highlighting all the segments where he seemed to deliberately miss the point or fail to realize very obvious things in an attempt to justify his childhood distaste for the title.
    2015 Josh: How cool would it have been if the Kremlings were horrifying abominations of science, evidence of K. Rool's experiences gone awry? Have everything start out all bright and happy, but as you get deeper into the game, something is going horribly wrong here.
    2022 Josh: That's... what... t-that's exactly what's happening!
  • Todd in the Shadows:
    • His One-Hit Wonderland episode on "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett opens with him discussing the song in the context of pop and rock music in the early '60s, which he describes as one of its darkest and most "phenomenally stupid" periods from a quality standpoint. It was a time when pop was caught in a twilight zone between the heyday of edgy '50s Rock & Roll and that of Beatlemania, psychedelia, and free love, one in which rock had been taken over by sanitized Teen Idols and stripped of its Rebellious Spirit while novelty songs and dance crazes dominated the charts.
      Todd: Yeah, remember that whenever your parents talk about how much better music was when they were kids, alright?
    • In his Trainwreckords episode on Ringo Starr's 1977 album Ringo the 4th, he argued that this trope was a large part of the reason for the disco genre's reevaluation in the 2010s and the decline of the Disco Sucks trope. He acknowledges that there was a lot of reactionary culture war politics and outright bigotry involved in the anti-disco backlash of the late '70s and early '80s, which younger generations are right to point out when they focus on disco's roots in marginalized communities... but at the same time, disco really had gotten extremely overexposed by 1979, and most of the bad disco songs from back then, particularly the ones churned out by trend-chasing white rock musicians (like Ringo) and a record industry that saw the genre as their cash cow, have been forgotten in favor of a winnowed playlist of a few dozen stone-cold classic disco songs.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of American Dad! features a CIA holodeck machine that scans the memories of people and projects them into the holodeck. The machine has a literal nostalgia filter. When Stan revisits his childhood with the filter on, it's bright, warm, comforting, and his dad is a nice person. Turned off, the place is a dump and his father is cruel, as it really was (not that Stan is bothered by it).
    Barry: I remember a time when we didn't need a nostalgia filter. Oh, those were the days.
  • BoJack Horseman: Deconstruction. BoJack Horseman perception and remembrance of the '90s does involve a few embellishments, often being held by BoJack as the peak of his career and life. However, as the first season begins and progresses, it becomes all too clear that even then, he was far from happy, stable and mature; something that has carried on toward his middle age in the present with the problem of it all being something within himself. As of the end of season 2, his rose tinted version of this early part of his life has been shattered as well, with BoJack realizing that his young adulthood was in some part self-denial at his increasingly clear issues. It only get worse in season 3 when Sarah Lynn's death and the misfortunes he faces forever taint his memory of the show, to the point of running out of the set of Ethan Around after one of his co-stars mentions how she wants to be famous, reminding him of Sarah Lynn's destroyed life.
  • CatDog: Deconstruction. In the episode "Back to School", Cat is looking forward to attending his high school reunion and dancing with his old crush Sally. He describes himself as popular and having a great time in high school. Even in the beginning of the episode something is fishy, with all of the memorabilia and rewards he claimed were his really belonging to Dog, and their diploma having Dog's name but not Cat's. He tells Dog that they need to correct it by visiting their old high school. The brothers visit Rancid the school principal about the diploma, and it is revealed Cat never attended the last day of school so for him to have the diploma and be able to attend the reunion dance, he must go back to school for one day. Cat is happy to relive his glory days, but wonders why he can't remember his last day at school. But throughout the day things just keep going wrong with him while Dog is popular - three of Cat's new classmates are the relatives of the Greasers who make him miserable, his crush Sally is indifferent to him, and after class when he asks her to dance with him at the reunion, she coldly tells him that she has a boyfriend and makes it clear that she does not like him. At lunch both the cool kids and nerds refuse to let Cat sit with them, and then a food fight break out and Cat gets blamed for it. Finally at gym he is humiliated by Cliff, who is the teacher and Sally's boyfriend, who brings Sally there to watch his humiliation. As the kids laugh at Cat and call him a loser, his repressed memories come back and he realize the truth - Cat was an outcast and all of his positive memories of school were Dog's, and at the last day of school he was humiliated at gym by Cliff's father Coach Feltbottom, the gym teacher at the time, where he and all the other kids call him a loser, which made Cat run away and block out his memory of the day. And because Cat blocked out his memory of that day and chose to remember things differently, he set himself up for more humiliation in this episode.
  • Daria once called a guy Jane was dating out on this.
    Nathan: Well, I've always dug the beauty and elegance of post-war American design. People had a sense of timeless style and civilized decorum back then.
    Daria: Well, yeah. But you also had the timeless style of Cold War conformity and the civilized decorum of segregation.
    • Another example occurs when Jake finds some old home movies from back when he was a kid and is eager to see them despite Helen's failed attempts at reminding him that his childhood wasn't that great. The truth comes rushing back to him once he watches them however. Helen later lampshaded this tendency in Is It College Yet.
      Helen: Your father needs to maintain certain illusions about his youth in order to function. It's... cute...
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • In "Odd, Odd West", Timmy's dad constantly speaks of his fond childhood memories of spending time in the Old West town of Dimmsdale Flats, and Timmy goes through the trouble of making sure it doesn't get torn down for his dad's sake. However, actually being there again makes Timmy's dad realize how much his childhood sucked and he sells the place to the developers for a few bucks.
    • In another episode, in when Timmy and his dad were cleaning their attic, Timmy finds his dad's tiny box of dreams. He picks it up and it breaks. Timmy's dad was OK with it though, because his dreams were crushed many years ago.
      Timmy: How many years ago?
      Mr. Turner: How old are you?
    • In "The Good Ol' Days", Mr. Turner gets his dad to babysit Timmy. Within the episode, Timmy's Grandpappy complains that things in the present aren't as good as things he grew up with. Among his complaints is how much more expensive candy is, Chip Skylark III being inferior to the original, and modern cartoons being more lame than ones from the 1930's. After watching a Popeye parody, Timmy agrees with that last one, and has his godparents transport him and Grandpappy into an Inkblot Cartoon Style world.
  • In the Be Careful What You Wish For episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Billy's dad wants to relive his high school days. He soon realizes it wasn't as good as he thought it was.
  • Toyed with in the Justice League story "Legends", in which Hawkgirl and Green Lantern meet a pastiche of the Justice Society of America. The story is all about the fondly remembered "Golden Age", but also includes casual sexism and racism. It also hints at the fear and panic felt in regard to nuclear annihilation. Furthermore, it turns out that the heroes are all actually psychic manifestations of the original team, who died protecting the people from a nuclear attack. A boy who got mutated with psychic powers was forcing everyone to live like how it was before the attack, given a painful explanation. However, the team still proceed to go and save people to give them a future, at the cost of their own lives, just like the original. John himself lampshades it why he feels mourning for it, with Hawkgirl commenting that it was because they were heroes.
  • Given a quick jab in the ribs from The Oblongs, as Wide-Eyed Idealist Bob wonders fitfully about his children being sold drugs.
    Bob: This stuff wasn't around when we were kids.
    Pickles: Bob, we grew up in the sixties. Drugs were everywhere.
    Bob: ...No, I think you're wrong.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Phineas reflects on the little kiddie rides outside of the mall, leading to an exciting scene of young Phineas flying into space and shooting lasers off with Ferb. Cut to him riding it in reality...
    Phineas: You know, in retrospect, I may have over-romanticized those memories...
  • This attitude is called out in one episode of The Real Ghostbusters, where Ray is talking about how the fifties were a much simpler time. Egon points out that there's no inherent proof of that, as each decade has its own individual challenges.
  • This trope is played with in Recess, when Vince apparently does not notice that his brother (who was revered by Vince's peers around his age) was a stereotypical nerd, remembering instead how "cool" he used to be. The other kids later realize that it only made sense since no 'cool' older kid would ever have willingly played with them when they were younger. Vince does not notice this until it's spelt out for him.
    • He does come to terms with it quickly though. When the bully Vince stopped brought his older brother, Vince's brother comes in to save Vince. Turns out he's the other kid's tutor and threatening to quit is enough kowtow the bully's older brother into compliance.
  • South Park:
    • In "You're Getting Old", as soon as Stan turns ten, he ends up hearing and seeing all the "new and hip" stuff around him to be "shitty," ranging from tracks from band called "Tween Wave" featuring nothing but funky beats with fart sounds in the background to seeing turds in movie trailers and in various parts of the town. A doctor explains that changing tastes are normally just part of getting older, but something's gone wrong and it's causing Stan to see everything as shit, even things older people normally enjoy. ("It's a disorder we call 'being a cynical asshole'.") It completely alienates him from his friends. In the second part to this episode, he has to resort to taking alcohol in order to stop seeing things as shit.
    • Also makes up the plot of "4th Grade". After moving up a grade in class, the boys dislike it and wish they could still be in the 3rd grade instead as things were so much better back then. At the very end, Kyle realizes that it's a load of bull and they hated the 3rd grade just as much as the 4th.
    • Also briefly mocked in "Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants", the first episode produced after the tragedies of September 11th, 2001. It opens with the boys at the bus stop wearing gas masks. Kyle remarks, "Remember when life used to be simple and cool?" To which Cartman replies, "... Not really."
    • The Season 20 Story Arc is a giant commentary on this very subject. One part of the season's Big Bad Ensemble, the member berries, are talking grapes that constantly reminisce about nostalgic things (especially nostalgic pop culture), and they invoke a sense of euphoria in whomever consumes them thanks to this nostalgia. However, the moment the berries suddenly begin to say things like "'member when there weren't so many immigrants in this country?" and "'member when marriage was just between a man and a woman?", Randy Marsh, who had been eating the berries, suddenly stops and goes "what the hell is up with these berries?", showing that not all nostalgia is inherently good, as, similar to the Grand Theft Auto V example above, some people's idea of the "good old days" are the days when open prejudice against certain people was considered socially acceptable. Member berries have also been made into wine and may be responsible for Gerald's massive Took a Level in Jerkass. This parodies the Creative Sterility that overtook popular culture in The New '10s, with most popular mainstream entertainment being adaptations, sequels, reboots, remakes, and Genre Throwbacks instead of fresh concepts.

This page was so much better back in the day. But just sucks.

Alternative Title(s): Nostalgia Goggles, The Good Old Days, Nostalgia Glasses