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Popularity Polynomial

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High-school Pokémon fans, rejoice!

"Cheer up Eddy. My mom says fads go in a cycle. In another ten years, we'll be back in style!"

This is when something which portrays itself as "cutting edge" becomes mainstream, but soon becomes overexposed, behind the times, old hat, or just plain uncool. However, given enough time, it suddenly begins to make a comeback, usually accompanied by words like "vintage," "nostalgic," and "classic." It's gone through the ups and downs of the popularity polynomial.

How often the item cycles back and forth between "cool" and "not cool" depends on many factors. If something reached a peak when you and your friends were kids, then when you become tweens or teens, it is a reminder of a childish time — and as the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up set in, you don't want to think about it. But when you reach your later teens or become adults, it is seen as harmless. And once your kids discover it, it may even become cool again (as long as they don't associate it with their uncool parents). Now apply that on a larger scale.

Given enough cycles, it becomes the equivalent of a Cyclic Trope.

The name comes from the fact that we like alliterative names, and some of us are math geeks. Here's also a more detailed explanation about what a polynomial is and what it has to do with the ups and downs of popularity.

A polynomial in x is a sum of non-negative integer powers of x which are each multiplied by a real number. You might know some simple polynomials: y=ax+b, the equation for a straight line where a is the slope and b is the y-intercept, is a polynomial (it can be written as: y=ax1+bx0). That's called a polynomial of degree 1, because the highest power of x that appears is 1. A polynomial of degree 2 (y=ax2+bx+c) is called a parabola, and if you plot its graph it looks like a dish (which could be wide or narrow, or turned upside down, depending on what a, b, and c are).

Of course, there are polynomials of a higher degree than that, like y=4x5+8x4+15x3+16x2+23x1+42, which is of degree 5. Higher degree polynomials can create all sorts of curves when you plot them. Apart from the line and the parabola, you can get a lot of shapes, such as a lot of hairpin curves or a roller-coaster shape that goes on for a while before diving up or diving down.

So, in a polynomial in x of a high-degree you can expect y to go up and down as x grows.note  The trope name is about looking at the popularity of something as a polynomial in time: as time progresses, it becomes less popular, then more popular, then less popular again, and so on and so forth. Generally speaking, the higher degree the polynomial, the more times you switch from "cool" to "stupid" and back. The points where the popularity rises, flatlines, and then begins to decline are known as the polynomial's Jumping the Shark moments, and when it does the opposite- reverses a decline and starts to climb- rigorous mathematical notation is that it is Growing the Beard. Some fringe lunacy groups insist on an alternative terminology having to do with derivative signs and whatnot, but they can be safely ignored.

So if you were wondering what a polynomial was, now you know.

See also Colbert Bump (a resurgence triggered by a specific factor), Posthumous Popularity Potential (when a person's death rehabilitates their reputation), Cyclic Trope (when this happens to tropes) and Discredited Meme. Compare with Two Decades Behind, Career Resurrection, Nostalgia Filter, Genre Relaunch and Vindicated by History. Contrast with Condemned by History, for something that loses popularity, often to the point where it never comes back. If it happens in-universe, that's Popularity Cycle.

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Anime in North America has had a roller coaster of popularity over the years, normally with a particular series leading the surge. In the mid '90s, anime surged big time thanks to particularly Pokémon: The Series, Dragon Ball Z, and Sailor Moon. Around the early 2000s, the popularity began to lower but then in the mid 2000s another boom kick started thanks to Naruto and Bleach. There was a crash afterwards, but in The New '10s shows like Kill la Kill, One-Punch Man, and Attack on Titan caused yet another boom, with My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba rounding out the decade. Two particular anime that experienced this is Dragon Ball Z and Neon Genesis Evangelion: Both acted as gateway series to the world of anime, Dragon Ball Z being the most popular shonen series and Evangelion once being regarded True Art. Around the early 2000s, Hype Backlash hit both series big time (DBZ because of its filler and inaction sequences and Evangelion because of its confusing and depressing plotline) and it suddenly became wrong to openly admit to liking either series. Then later Dragon Ball Z Kai and Rebuild of Evangelion, respectively, renewed interest in both franchises, but then interest died out again after Kai became overshadowed by a plagiarism controversy toward the end of its initial run, while the Rebuild movies got darker than the original TV show. Dragon Ball, however, has since rebounded with a pair of movies (Battle of Gods and Resurrection 'F') and Dragon Ball Super.
  • Digimon certainly deserves a mention. The first anime series was immensely popular and brought in huge profits, but sales started to dwindle little by little with each new season. Eventually there were very large hiatuses in between series due to disappointing toy sales.... Until Toei tried marketing to nostalgic adults and teens with Digimon Adventure tri., as well as more adult targeted merch of the first three series, which was a roaring success! Playing to nostalgia was enough to bring Digimon back into the limelight, and just as much merch is being made now was it was around the time Adventure aired. The fandom also started thriving and becoming active due to people who hadn't engaged with the fandom since they were kids coming back in droves.
  • MD Geist is a bizarre example of this phenomenon. Part of the initial North American anime boom, MD Geist was successful when it was brought to North America, largely due to the efforts of Central Park Media president John O'Donnel, who loved and promoted it to a ridiculous level. In part due to this overexposure, it was hated by vocal Otakus and acquired a reputation as the "worst anime ever" after its commercial success faded. This changed in the late 2000s when the OVA was shown on Sci Fi Channel's Ani Monday block, due to a combination of a growing backlash against certain trends such as Moe and being nowhere near as bad as advertised. While few people would argue MD Geist is good art, it is now largely seen as enjoyable rather than being garbage, and several articles have been written arguing against its reputation as the "worst anime".
  • The Yuri Genre and yuri fandom was popular in the early-to-mid 2000s with the success of series like Maria Watches Over Us, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Sailor Moon. During that period there were many popular anime with either one explicitly lesbian character or a lot of Homoerotic Subtext and PseudoRomantic Friendships involving the characters. In contrast, yaoi anime were rare besides a few series like Loveless and Ambiguously Gay characters were low-key. The yuri boom died out in the late-2000s and early-2010s, with only a few series coming out such as Canaan or Whispered Words. There were some popular works within the fandom like Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Black★Rock Shooter during this period, however yuri and yuri-ish series were becoming less popular in exchange for Cast Full of Pretty Boys series with a lot of Ho Yay getting popular. It stayed like this for a while however in the mid-2000s yuri began seeing a revival with the popularity of manga like Citrus and due to non-Japanese Asian webcomics like Their Story.
  • Like the games, Pokémon: The Series has been hit with this several times. It was a worldwide phenomenon during its heyday Kanto days but by late Johto much of the fans had moved on. The fad days were ending and much of the original demographic began moving onto other series, especially after Misty left. Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire had its fans but the anime wasn't nearly as popular as it once was. However, a lot of the Periphery Demographic (who were the target demographic during the fad) got into the anime again with Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl thanks to them getting into the games again at that same period. This popularity kept for all of Gen 4 until Pokémon the Series: Black & White killed it again. Early on fans watched it, especially because of Team Rocket's new demeanor, however they soon waned, especially after an executive-mandated retool. The Pokémon the Series: XY series brought back a huge amount of fans, either because the episode quality seemed to improve or because they enjoyed shipping Serena with Ash. The ending to the arc was very controversial, however, and the goofy tone of the next Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon arc didn't help, causing the fanbase to once again fall by the wayside, but that was alleviated with more serious and emotional plots with subjects like death, the return of Misty & Brock, and Ash finally winning the Pokémon League. The Pokémon Journeys: The Series is well-liked for its more unique premise of going through all regions rather than just Galar, and the Pokémon Ash catching being completely unexpected. It also happens to be the last series featuring Ash and consequently, the series goes full nostalgia appeal to the anime fans of all generations since 1997.
  • The Magic Idol Singer was the most popular form of Magical Girl Anime in the 80s, pioneered by Creamy Mami, the Magic Angel and other works by Studio Pierrot. The genre fell to the wayside in favor of Magical Girl Warrior series in the 90s, saw a slight resurgence in the early 2000s with titles like Full Moon and Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, and came back full force in the 2010s with the massive success of the Pretty Series and other similar magic idol-themed Virtual Paper Doll arcade games with anime adaptations.

    Asian Animation 
  • When it premiered in 2005, Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf got unexpectedly high ratings and became an instant hit with children. Once some time passed, it started to get a bit of a bad rep due to both an incident where real-life kids imitating the show hurt their friend and the show's seasons becoming experimental and not hitting the same way previous ones did; War of Invention in particular was criticized by fans for its writing and art styles enough to make Creative Power Entertaining revert to the initial styles in the next season. In 2019, Mighty Little Defenders blew people's expectations out of the water with its storyline being considered one of the most exciting in years, and it brought back a lot of fans who had since left the Pleasant Goat fanbase; it's been doing well for itself since then with its story-based seasons and is now a well-respected show again.

  • The general subject matter in which comedians are allowed to traffic seems to shift this way and that constantly. Perhaps most notably, ethnic/racial and male-chauvinist humor has gone back and forth across the line on more or less a decade-by-decade basis since The '60s, with The '80s probably the low point of acceptability.
  • Similarly, political humor seems to wax and wane, depending on how high a profile America has on the world stage at a given moment.

    Comic Books 
  • Superhero comics have been on this path for years. They were one of the few comic book genres that survived The Comics Code, although they had to censor themselves, and were the more successful comics throughout the The Silver Age and The Bronze Age. During the later parts of the '80s, Watchmen was a successful deconstruction of the superhero genre, while The Killing Joke and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns were grittier takes on Batman. Seeing this, many comics went Darker and Edgier, leading to the The Dark Age of Comic Books. Unfortunately, most of the dark material, while popular at first, got old. The Great Comics Crash of 1996, caused by a number of factors (such as the bursting of the speculator bubble, the failure of Deathmate, and the overuse of collectors editions/crisis crossovers), made many companies such as Valiant Comics die, and even Marvel filed for bankruptcy. By 2001, comic book sales were only 67 million, their lower point in years. Marvel and DC focused on their movies, while Dark Horse Comics and Image Comics focused on licensed and genre material. However, with the popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and similar films, as well as lots of successful TV adaptations and new, diverse titles like Ms. Marvel and Batgirl, superhero comic books have had a significant rebound.
  • In the '90s and '00s, Archie Comics seemed poised to finish its long slide from Mainstream Obscurity into plain obsolescence. Its squeaky-clean characters and its perpetual 1950s-seeming setting had grown increasingly out of touch with younger readers, its efforts to keep up with the times had done little more than render it a laughingstock and the butt of jokes about being Two Decades Behind, and it seemed as though most of its fandom was of the ironic sort, with stories like Archie Meets the Punisher outright playing the company's image for laughs. Sabrina the Teenage Witch was a hit on television and kept the characters in the public eye, but it was largely divorced from the comics, and while the company also published a popular line of Sonic the Hedgehog comics, these weren't a part of the company's core product line.

    Something funny happened in the 2010s, however: for the first time in decades, Archie became genuinely hip. It started in 2010 when the company relaunched their adventure series Life with Archie as a more mature take on the characters, with storylines dealing with marriage, financial problems, homosexuality, and gun violence. This was followed in 2013 by Afterlife with Archie, a horror story featuring the characters battling a Zombie Apocalypse; its success and critical acclaim saw its writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, promoted to chief creative officer the following yearnote , along with a modernized reboot of their flagship series by Mark Waid and a Gothic Horror rendition of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. By 2017, Archie Comics' comeback culminated with the TV show Riverdale on The CW, its unusual setting (a thriller in a mid-century-style small town with a grunge-ish/1990s alt-rock soundtrack) becoming quite successful.
  • Luke Cage, as discussed in this video by Bob Chipman. Created in The '70s to both diversify the Marvel Comics lineup and cash in on the blaxploitation boom, from The '80s into the '00s he was seen by many comics fans, white and black alike, as a dated relic and a symbol of everything wrong with Marvel's clueless attempts at social commentary during that time. Attempts to revive the character mostly went nowhere outside of guest appearances in Alias, where he was largely shorn of his '70s trappings. His return to popularity and respectability came alongside the broader reappraisal of the blaxploitation genre in the '00s and '10s, with a popular Netflix TV series being the turning point after years of increasingly popular appearances in the comics. Now, he's one of Marvel's headliners, updated for the 21st century but still rooted in his '70s inspirations.

    Film — Animated 
  • Disney has gone through ups and downs. During The Golden Age of Animation, Disney's films were successes and set the industry standard. However, after the death of Walt Disney, the confused company released a string of weak, under-performing films in The '70s. By The '80s, Disney was better known as a theme park operator than a filmmaker. However, in 1989, The Little Mermaid, an animated film deliberately reminiscent of the Golden Age films of the 1940-50s, became an unexpected critical and commercial success and kicked off the Disney Renaissance that lasted throughout the entire Nineties. By the Turn of the Millennium though, audiences, tiring of the increasingly clichéd formula prevalent in these films, drifted towards the then-new All-CGI Cartoon popularized by Pixar and DreamWorks Animation. Disney responded by shutting down their traditional animation studio and releasing a string of their own CGI animated films, few of which made much of an impact; even the traditionally-animated throwback The Princess and the Frog and the well-received Tangled were only moderately successful. It wasn't until the double-whammy of 2012's Wreck-It Ralph followed by 2013's ultra-successful Frozen that Disney truly got back on top again.
  • When it was released in 1998, The Prince of Egypt was a major hit, earning very positive reviews and becoming the most financially successful non-Disney animated feature at the time. Shortly afterwards, however, it faded into obscurity and was rarely talked about. Then it was rediscovered in the late 2000s and returned to prominence seemingly overnight, being regarded as one of the best Biblical movies ever made and even getting a West End stage musical adaptation in 2020.
  • At its peak, Shrek was a franchise as big as the green ogre himself. The original Shrek won the first Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and Shrek 2 became one of the highest-grossing films at the time. After that, the franchise's formula quickly grew stale as it spawned a host of mediocre imitators, which seeped back into Shrek itself with the poor reviews of Shrek the Third. This led to the downfall of Shrek-style "snarky" animated movies and the rise of more drama-based animated movies such as How to Train Your Dragon and Frozen as well as the more irreverent humor Illumination Studios and the Warner Animation Group began to grow in popularity. For a while, the Shrek franchise was seen as a poorly-aged product of its time that relied too much on contemporary references, and the aforementioned mediocre imitators furthered the franchise's reputation as having ruined western cartoon movies. However, Memetic Mutation led to an upsurge of ironic popularity for the Shrek series, which eventually grew into unironic popularity as its fans grew up and revisited the movies, and were able to appreciate them anew due to their wittiness, 2000s nostalgia, and hidden heartfelt themes underneath the snarkiness. As of the late 2010s, while not to the level of the early 2000s, the first two Shrek movies are well-liked and appreciated as modern classics, and Shrek Forever After has quite a few fans and defenders as well. In fact, it was this renewed unironic popularity (and there's its influence, for better or worse, on animated films in the 21st century) that made it the first animated film released in the 21st century, the first non Disney animated film and only the 2nd CGI animated film (after Toy Story) to be added into the National Film Registry in 2020. Furthermore, the fandom is so big that it even has its own page on Wikipedia.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In-universe, the 1967 film To Sir, with Love laid this bare for the audience in a scene where Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) informs his disbelieving students about many things that are Older Than They Think: their clothing is from the 1920s, their hairstyles from the 16th century, and so on. A trip to a museum later in the film re-lampshades it when one of the students is shown with his head next to that of a Renaissance statue — and they both have the same haircut.
  • Musicals have been getting in and out of this since its beginnings: the Rise of the Talkies brought a glut of musical films in 1929-30, only for The Great Depression to shift tastes to the point many films had to be modified to eliminate the songs and promoted as not being musicals. But halfway through the decade Busby Berkeley's new approach to choreography and the popularity of the Astaire-Rogers team led to a wave of musicals that intensified during the war years, with MGM becoming associated with the genre, which then faltered through the 1950s with the rise of television, being relegated to the B-movie domain by the time rock-and-roll came along.

    However, in The '60s, Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, as well the British musical films of the Beatles era, led Hollywood to reconsider musicals, but these attempts were killed by a parade of flops over 1967-69 (Camelot, Doctor Dolittle, Paint Your Wagon, Finian's Rainbow, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and finally Hello, Dolly!) that took musicals out of fashion, with more somber takes such as Cabaret and rock operas like Jesus Christ Superstar being the primary exceptions. While the genre briefly resurfaced late in The '70s via a few successful efforts with quite some help from The Bee Gees, most notably Saturday Night Fever and Grease, it gave up the ghost early in The '80s after the disco backlash set on, with Xanadu and Can't Stop the Music killing off the genre for two decades, the Disney animated films of the 1990s being the closest to a musical during those lean years.

    2001's Moulin Rouge! was the first live-action musical in years to attract positive attention, but a comeback truly kicked off the following year with the Oscar-winning film of Chicago, and has continued into the present with the likes of Dreamgirls, Hairspray, Mamma Mia! and Les Misérables. Disney even managed to make a highly successful franchise out of High School Musical, to the point where the third film was upgraded to a theatrical release, its success sparking franchises like Camp Rock and Teen Beach Movie. Glee helped to carry the musical revival torch into The New '10s, alongside films like Pitch Perfect, Joyful Noise and shows like Smash (though neither of the latter two were particularly successful). However, 2016's La La Land stumped almost everyone, becoming a critical and financial hit that was followed by Beauty and the Beast (2017), The Greatest Showman, and the 2018 remake of A Star Is Born.
  • While out and out musicals were somewhat rare in the USSR, vocal training was part of the basic arsenal of any Soviet actor, and many (if not most, depending on the eara and genre) films would have at least 2-3 diegetic songs performed by the characters. Such diegetic songs were mocked and fell out of fashion during the 90's and were replaced with contemporary licensed music. With the surge of remakes and retro-style pictures in the 2010's, it may be time for aspiring Russian actors to think about taking music lessons.
  • Original songs in movies used to be the norm, with many being acclaimed as classics to this day, and the Best Original Song category was thriving with nominations. However, by the late 1990s a backlash spread against this (primarily because of Disney's abuse of this trope and Titanic), and fewer and fewer films were using theme songs in favor of filling up the soundtrack with as many chart-topping songs as they could, with the added advantage they were less expensive. By the early 2000s, original songs had fallen off the radar. The persistence of the Movie Bonus Song and Award-Bait Song tropes were the only things keeping them alive, and the effects showed at the Academy Awards Best Original Song category — the 2011 winner "Man or Muppet" beat out one other nominee (Rio), which was most likely there so that there wouldn't be just the single nominee. However, in The New '10s, with the success of songs such as "Skyfall" from Skyfall, "Happy" from Despicable Me 2, "Everything is Awesome" from The LEGO Movie and "Let It Go" from Frozen along with their performances on stage, original songs have seen a significant revival.
  • Hardly any epic Sword and Sandal film between Cleopatra and Gladiator. Then it became a trend again, only to fall out of favor again due to the failures of later ones like Alexander. Then 300 brought them back into vogue, this time tending to have more stylized aesthetics, only for Exodus: Gods and Kings to kill the genre again.
  • This has happened more than once to the horror genre:
    • The classic Universal monster movies were certainly big hits in the 1930s and early '40s, but after the release of The Wolf Man (1941), they fell into an Audience-Alienating Era that would last the rest of The '40s and well into The '50s, with only a few bright spots (Creature from the Black Lagoon, It Came from Outer Space) as Universal struggled to adapt to the postwar boom of sci-fi horror. Then, in 1957, Universal released a large number of its classic horror films in a television package called Shock! Theater. Shock! introduced the films to a new audience that could view them from the comfort of their homes, with the lovably campy assistance of various local Horror Hosts, kicking off a "Monster Boom" craze that lasted well into The '70s and saw the monsters reach the height of their popularity and cultural presence. Hammer Film Productions came along at almost the same time to produce lurid color remakes of the classic films, ensuring the monsters' legacies would live on and restoring glamour to the horror genre, which by that point had devolved into B-Movie hell. To this day, even as new monsters, villains, and subgenres have risen to prominence, the Universal monsters are regarded as icons of the horror genre, with most takes on the basic monsters (vampires and werewolves especially) still referring back to films made during The Golden Age of Hollywood, even if only to show themselves to be different from the 'Hollywood' version.
    • In the first half of The '90s, the Slasher Movie was seen as the image of everything wrong with modern horror movies: writing issues, cheap scares, Strictly Formula stories and characters, poor production values, a focus on special effects over tension and suspense, and not-so-subtle misogyny. The slasher icons of The '80s had become walking punchlines as their franchises succumbed to sequelitis, and worse, given slashers' dominance of mainstream American horror during the prior decade, many horror fans blamed them for destroying the entire genre, with very few horror films from 1989 to 1996 enjoying mainstream success. Then came Scream (1996), which deconstructed, parodied, and lampshaded all the conventions of slashers, put them all back together, and not only single-handedly restored the genre to commercial viability, but marked a turning point in a critical reevaluation of the genre — a process that had started in 1992 with Carol J. Clover's non-fiction book Men, Women, and Chainsaws (which named the Final Girl trope). While the teen slasher boom that Scream spawned turned out to be short-lived (due to a combination of Sturgeon's Law and a "Too soon!" reaction after the Columbine massacre), slashers are now seen as campy in a good way (or at least, a So Bad, It's Good way), the focus now placed on their role in the history of independent film and home video, and their conventions remain staples even of non-slasher horror films. Horror cinema in general, meanwhile, hasn't looked back, seeing various subgenres (J-horror, zombies, found footage, supernatural horror) come and go but never again falling into an Audience-Alienating Era that it did in the early '90s; if anything, as of the late 2010s it is in the midst of a commercial and creative peak within a cultural climate that has given people all new things to be afraid of.
    • The effects of Scream revitalizing the horror genre (and slashers in particular) are visible in how the reputation of Halloween (1978) has evolved over the years. While it's always had, at the very least, a cult fandom, in the late '80s and early '90s its status as the Trope Codifier for the Slasher Movie was an albatross around its neck more than anything, and many critics blamed it for drowning the horror genre in a wave of gorn-soaked hack-'n-slashes (despite the fact that Halloween itself was comparatively bloodless). With the reappraisal of slashers in general starting in the late '90s, its reputation has recovered, and most critics once more recognize it as a classic.
  • Zombie Apocalypse movies, and zombies in general, were practically forgotten throughout the '90s. It wasn't until the early 2000s that 28 Days Later, the Dawn of the Dead remake, and Shaun of the Dead kickstarted the genre again.
  • This happened not once but twice, back to back, to films directed by James Cameron.
    • Titanic (1997) became the highest-grossing movie ever and won eleven Oscars, tying the record set by the 1959 film Ben-Hurnote  and defying all the predictions of industry commentators who worried that, after its very long and expensive development, it was just too ambitious to succeed. Then the overexposure (particularly of the Céline Dion theme), Hype Backlash, annoying Leonardo DiCaprio fangirls, and the overall schmaltzy and melodramatic tone of the movie damaged both its reputation and popularity. Cameron was seen as having squandered his hard-earned geek cred by making a glorified Chick Flick, and DiCaprio, once seen as a rising star like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, got pigeonholed as a Pretty Boy pin-up for the Tiger Beat set, a Typecasting that it took him years to break out of. But by the time the movie turned 15 and got a 3D re-release in theaters, all was forgiven and forgotten, and the film is once more celebrated as up there with Aliens and the first two Terminator films as one of Cameron's masterpieces. This episode of Really That Good goes into more detail on the backlash and reappraisal.
    • Avatar was released in 2009 after a very long and expensive development to the misgivings of industry commentators who worried that it was just too ambitious to succeed. Instead, it was a massive success that became the highest-grossing movie of all time (a position it would retain for 10 years), received great reviews, and even prompted reports of audiences becoming so invested in the natural beauty of the world of Pandora that they experienced depression over the mere fact that it was fictional! However, despite its colossal success, Avatar developed a reputation in the next decade for being derivative (of the film version of Dances with Wolves, specifically) and clumsily ham-fisted in its otherwise-laudable environmentalist message, and by the middle of the 2010s if anyone talked about Avatar it was to express confusion at how nobody talked about Avatar or disbelief that the biggest movie in the world could leave seemingly "no cultural footprint". Its lead actor Sam Worthington never became a major star, and it was often noted that it had to be seen on a big screen in 3D to be fully appreciated, limiting its appeal on home video and streaming.

      However, in later years, people started rediscovering Avatar and talking about it favorably again, appreciating its socially conscious message and still-compelling visuals and effects. There are three big reasons. First, Cameron began talking about the planned sequels again, and Disney (following its acquisition of 20th Century Fox) made clear they were committed to bringing them out, even creating a new Avatar-themed land for Disney World. Second, when it became clear that Avengers: Endgame was on track to better its box office record in 2019, both old and new fans alike were inspired to revisit it in its tenth anniversary year. As a matter of fact, it regained its #1 highest-grossing film of all time status in June 2021 after a theatrical rerelease. Finally, as the 2010s wore on and audiences and critics grew increasingly fatigued with the Modular Franchise model of filmmaking that prevailed during that decade, many looked back nostalgically to Avatar as the swan song of a more "old-fashioned" type of blockbuster that told a complete story and crafted a compelling world within the confines of one film, appreciating its status as one of the last blockbusters that became a major success without being part of a franchise. This culminated in the release of Avatar: The Way of Water in 2022, where it cleared $1 billion at the box office in two weeks and $2 billion in one month, defying much doomsaying about it that had been going on ever since the "no cultural footprint" discourse.
  • Big-budget, theatrical superhero movies have risen and fallen several times. The 1940s and '50s saw Batman, Superman, and The Green Hornet movie serials ride the original comic book boom onto the big screen, but that trend crashed roughly in the late 1940s, bringing about the end of the Golden Age of superhero comics, and superhero movies were relegated to low-budget made-for-TV fare for twenty years (with the odd exception like 1966's Adam West TV spin-off Batman: The Movie). The success of Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie in 1978 revived interest, as did Batman (1989), but each was followed by only one well-received sequel, two poorly-received ones, and a decade each of imitators like Supergirl (1984), Howard the Duck, and The Meteor Man which were generally poorly received by critics and audiences. In 1998, Blade was released and ended up being a Sleeper Hit. Then in the early 2000s, the genre began a slow-building but powerful and long-lasting resurgence with the X-Men and Spider-Man film franchises, the latter setting up the format for further superhero films. By the late 2000s/early 2010s, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy became critically acclaimed, while Iron Man kick-started Marvel's sprawling Cinematic Universe. By the mid-2010s the DC Extended Universe emerged, while other studios have begun to build their own inter-connected universes.
  • Lampshaded in 21 Jump Street. While returning to his old high school, one of the leads notices an attractive young woman reading a comic book. He points out that when he was a teenager, only geeks read comics, and were usually mocked for doing so.
  • Hard-R comedies first took off in the late 1970s, with films like Animal House and The Kentucky Fried Movie pushing major boundaries in terms of what constituted "good taste"note  and becoming hit films in the process. Unfortunately, a saturation of films in the early '80s, many of which relied solely on Vulgar Humor rather than witty writing, dissolved the genre just before Ghostbusters (1984) and Back to the Future led family-friendly humor to dominate comedy. During that time, the decidedly tamer comedy of "teen films" like Ferris Bueller's Day Off in the late '80s and some of the works of actors like Paul "Pee-Wee" Reubens, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, and Adam Sandler became the norm for more mature audiences. However, Clerks became a sleeper hit with its sardonic Gen X-fueled approach to adult humor and the hard-R comedy came back in 1998 when There's Something About Mary became a surprise critical and commercial hit. The genre thrived for the next three or four years with such box-office bonanzas as American Pie and Scary Movie. While the new wave's over-emphasis on high school- and college-centered comedy (what with the audience for such movies moving on to adulthood), The Simpsons' brand of humor influencing family films like Shrek and the popularity of the risqué sitcoms of Chuck Lorre threatened to dissolve the genre yet again, the films of Judd Apatow, starting with the 2005 hit The 40-Year-Old Virgin, proved that such films could be just as popular with adults as with teenagers, even pre-teens, leading to a "golden age of the raunchy comedy" that peaked around 2007-2009. However, the genre fell apart around 2010 as some of its more common tropes began to attract negative attention, including some of the language used. The most successful "adult" comedy of the early '10s became 2012's Ted, and even its 2015 sequel tanked. However, by the latter part of the decade, films like Daddy's Home, Deadpool, Sausage Party, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Bad Moms (a Deconstructive Parody of the "chick-flick" subgenre popular during the early '10s) have successfully pushed the envelope by resorting on less juvenile humor.
  • Vampire movies are in a full swinging pendulum of this. They will gain popularity for awhile, then play themselves out, only for the process to repeat.
  • After his last film was heavily panned in 2004, Godzilla received very little public or internet attention. But once footage and trailers for the 2014 reboot started being released in December of 2013, Godzilla started trending very often on social network sites, leading to revived interest in the franchise specifically (hence why many of the films were brought back into circulation after years with no home video releases) and the Kaiju genre in general (hence the sustained interest in Pacific Rim and the Continuity Reboot for Gamera), and a Cloverfield sequel that actually has something to do with Cloverfield.
  • The Muppets: It may not be obvious to today's viewers, but the original film The Muppet Movie had any number of cameos from people who were, at the time, huge stars, and The Muppet Show guest stars were frequently leading lights either as actors or singers (or both) as well. They have made a huge comeback, now that the media industry is full of influential producers and talents who grew up on their show and still love them. There's no shortage of celebrities who want to perform with them, as their 2011 film demonstrates.
  • The 1978 film The Deer Hunter won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Michael Cimino, and was acclaimed as one of the first great movies about The Vietnam War and the impact it had on the people who fought in it. Then Cimino went and sank an entire studio (as well as his career) with his follow-up, the critically ravaged Box Office Bomb Heaven's Gate. The backlash against Cimino in the wake of Heaven's Gate was so severe that it stained the reputation of The Deer Hunter for quite some time. There was a period of time in the early-mid '80s when it was uncool in film critic circles to like that film, as many critics tried to explain how they'd been "suckered in" by Cimino. The more charitable said that he'd made a Deal with the Devil for its success, while others suggested that it was never any good in the first place and was popular more for its subject matter than anything.

    As the debacle of Heaven's Gate fell further into the past, however, The Deer Hunter eventually regained its reputation as one of the great Vietnam War movies. While there remains a minority of critics (most notably Mark Kermode) who still hate the film, many others have since reevaluated their negative positions on it, and it was added to the Library of Congress in 1996 and made AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies list in both 1998 and 2007 (actually climbing 26 spots on the latter list). Helping its reputation further is the fact that Heaven's Gate has itself come in for reappraisal over the years, especially after the director's cut premiered in 2012 at the Venice Film Festival, with critics who only knew the film from its 1981 theatrical cut being surprised at how good it was and arguing that its re-edit after poor press screenings had obscured a genuinely great film.
  • Even Star Wars has had its moments of unpopularity. During the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, the franchise, while still very popular, was generally regarded to not be any more iconic than other successful blockbuster franchises of the time, such as Indiana Jones and Back to the Future. It's hard to believe now, but when Spaceballs came out in 1987, it was widely criticized for parodying a series that wasn't really that relevant anymore. But after the reissue of A New Hope in 1997 and release of The Phantom Menace in 1999, the saga became a pop-culture icon, especially the original trilogy as fans became polarized by the prequels. After the release of Revenge of the Sith, the last installment in a prequel trilogy that many fans were dissatisfied, the franchise lay somewhat dormant for a full decade until Disney's surprise purchase of Lucasfilm and greenlighting of the sequel trilogy brought it back to prominence. The monster financial success of The Force Awakens brought it roaring back to life at the center of pop culture, and the franchise has since reclaimed its rightful glory at the top of the pack, with only Disney's own Marvel Cinematic Universe as a real threat to its status at the box office. And after the second Sequel Trilogy installment, The Last Jedi, got mixed reviews among fans which, unfortunately, spun into personal attacks against director Rian Johnson and actress Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), which led to a counterbacklash against the more toxic members of the fanbase; this made many fans realize that they'd treated both George Lucas and Prequel Trilogy actors Ahmed Best (Jar-Jar Binks), Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) the same way, and today the PT has begun to be seen in a more positive light and amass more defenders and even an unapologetic following. This has lead to conflict between sections of the fandom of which follow-up trilogy is better or worse however. On a more general scale, the franchise became accused of relying too heavily on familiar legacy characters and ideas following the Sequel Trilogy’s controversial conclusion in The Rise of Skywalker as evident by the mixed reception of the latest projects, particularly the Disney+ shows The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi putting it in the unique predicament of being financially viable on one hand but feeling creatively stagnant on the other as far some observers are concerned.
  • Submarine films were popular for decades following WWII. Each decade had at least one notable submarine film, The '50s had 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,The Enemy Below and Run Silent, Run Deep, while more extravagant stories dominated the genre in The '60s like Fantastic Voyage, Submarine X1, and Ice Station Zebra. The '70s had few notable underwater films although James Bond would get his turn in The Spy Who Loved Me. Although Das Boot started off The '80s, most of the submarine films of that decade were actually underwater science fiction romps such as The Abyss. The '90s gave us The Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide, although the same decade would see a shift in action/adventure films into flashier combat sequences that became incompatible with the claustrophobic nature of these films.
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture was popular enough that it did financially well at the box office. Despite critics bashing it, Trekkies were glad to have Star Trek back. After Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and especially after Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, fans began to see 1979 Motion Picture in a different light, often jokingly calling it "The Motionless Picture" due to its slow pacing and subdued performances from the cast. The dynamic melodrama and powerful character moments of II, and the refreshing comedy relief humor of IV, were often held up as unfavorable comparisons for The Motion Picture, resulting in it getting thrown in with the other odd-numbered Trek movies as inferior.note  It was, for a time, remembered mostly for its theme song being reused for Star Trek: The Next Generation. The 2002 Director's Cut sparked a new era of appreciation for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Certain effects were redone using CGI but strictly in the spirit of what was scripted in 1979. Also, this is now considered one of Jerry Goldsmith's finest soundtracks. Today, instead of being unfairly compared to the more melodramatic and action-packed Trek films that followed, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is compared favorably to 2001: A Space Odyssey, many fans noting that it is the Star Trek film that best represents Gene Roddenberry's vision.
  • The Disaster Movie has been through ups and downs over the years. The first boom occurred in The '70s, thanks to the smash success of Airport and the subsequent success of The Poseidon Adventure. Movies such as Earthquake, The Towering Inferno, and a sequel to the aforementioned Airport were part of this boom. The boom ended with a string of failures across the end of The '70s, starting with The Swarm, and the smash success of Airplane!, a successful parody of the genre, finished it off.

    A second boom began in The '90s owing to the development of more realistic CGI and the success of films such as Twister and Independence Day. Films such as Armageddon (1998), Deep Impact, and the monster hit Titanic (1997) followed. This boom, in turn, ended due to a slew of real-life tragedies in the 2000s such as the September 11th attacks, a massive tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and Hurricane Katrina.

    The Disaster Movie eventually came back in The New '10s, heralded by movies such as San Andreas. Even then, this boom has led to a different type of Disaster Movie, one that focused more on survival and less on the massive disasters occurring. Examples that followed the latter often faced critical and commercial backlash. As of right now, it is unclear whether true "disaster movies" will ever come back.
  • Porn parodies were a big thing in the 1970s, but largely fell out of favor by the late 1980s. This is primarily attributed to the changing distribution channels of the porn market, as porn theaters showing big productions on the big screen were supplanted with home video releases, which typically didn't bother with things like "plot" or aimed for more of a gonzo style with "random" sexual encounters captured on handheld cameras.

    However, with porn becoming easily accessible through the internet in the 2000s and the Sci Fi Ghetto receding in the 2010s, there is again a massive boon of such parodies catering largely to the millennial and zoomer crowd that apparently really wants to see their favorite Ms. Fanservice and Mr. Fanservice characters from these works being Cosplayed by some pornstar and getting it on (or, with virtual reality porn, getting it on with them). It's still by no means the porn industry's primary product, but with different studios sometimes rushing to get out their own parody first (Game of Thrones alone has five or more) and more independent content creators than ever also releasing cosplay content, it's clearly back on the ascendancy.

  • The Aeneid versus its predecessors, The Iliad and The Odyssey. For many years, The Aeneid was considered the true accounting of the war, and practically required reading for any aspiring creative worker. This is for several reasons, chief among them being that Vergil's work deals primarily with the history of Rome, and most Renaissance thinkers were Italian. It was also written in Latin, which was much more widely-understood than Homer's Greek. As a result, many writers ended up inheriting Vergil's interpretations, which usually depicted the Greeks in a poor light. However, these days, it's reversed; most people have read or at least know the plot of Homer's works, while Vergil's are mostly read by Latin students. This may be due to the rising popularity of Greek mythology and culture, the proliferation of translated versions of Homer eliminating the language barrier, or the greater mass-appeal of a massive war and a decades-long adventure as opposed to Vergil's more introverted work. Audiences today read The Divine Comedy and wonder what poor Odysseus is doing at the Eighth Circle of Hell.
  • The Sherlock Holmes stories have been famous among the public ever since Arthur Conan Doyle first published them in The Strand. While there was not really a time when nobody admitted to liking them, there were times when few people could take them seriously, and parodies (affectionate or otherwise) dominated the discussion of Holmes as a character. The latest wave of Sherlock Holmes "consciousness" is at least in part attributable to Sherlock and Elementary, a pair of TV shows that both "update" the stories and characters by setting them in the present day instead of the stuffy, foggy Victorian setting that has been parodied to death, as well as the Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Jr. film adaptations, which kept the Victorian setting but gave the stories a contemporary-feeling action movie makeover.
  • The Space Opera, once the dominant sub-genre of Science Fiction, has declined considerably since The '80s. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, the end of the Cold War also ended the Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States (the Challenger disaster did not help matters for the U.S.), leading to a period of stagnation. Secondly, around the same time an unexpected explosion in computers and bio-technology occurred. These two factors caused futurists and Sci-Fi writers to stop looking at space for inspiration, and look instead to genetic engineering, cloning, cybernetics, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence, hence the dominance of Cyberpunk and its derivatives. It's only over time, with the over-exposure of cyberpunk, nostalgic reconstructionist works of Space Opera (like for example, Mass Effect), and renewed interest in space coming from the discovery of Extra-solar planets that the Genre has begun to recover. Cyberpunk and its derivatives remain on top however.
  • For much of The '80s, the cyberpunk literary genre and movement was the new wave in both Science Fiction and science fact, acting as a fertile seed on a ground tormented by efforts to adapt to a changing world where the computer was king and Japan was the new force on the block. However, books like Neuromancer failed to anticipate how a) the internet, cell phones, personal computers, and handheld IT devices would become a mundane reality in the life of the average white-collar Joe Sixpack, and b) that the Japanese economic powerhouse would trip over itself in the early '90s. Once "the future" became the present, cyberpunk went from being high-tech to being filled with zeerust, painting a portrait of the future that had stopped being relevant after about 1993 — the main reason why Post-Cyberpunk came to replace it. Furthermore, the virtual reality craze of the late '80s and early '90s simply shelved itself (for now) after failing to provide a holodeck-like experience. During the 2010s, however, the tropes of cyberpunk (if not necessarily the fashions and fixations) made a comeback in science fiction. Works such as Watch_Dogs and Black Mirror reflected growing fears of the power and negligence of Silicon Valley tech companies, the rise of internet trolls within the public discourse, and, more broadly, the changes to human interaction and society that the internet and computer technology had brought, as well as non-technological future fears like climate change and the power of the super-rich and big business. Genre Throwbacks to '80s cyberpunk, such as Blade Runner 2049, Cyberpunk 2077, and the newest Deus Ex games have grown increasingly popular, while the optimism of Post-Cyberpunk is now seen as passe.

    Live-Action TV 
  • For 25 years or so after it first aired, Battlestar Galactica (1978) was regarded as being a pretty solid show considering the time period when it was produced, being even more popular than Star Wars during The '90s. Then during the 2000s, following the launch of the reimagined series, people tended to dismiss it as being just silly, campy fluff that wasted the potential of its concept. In the years since the finale of the reimagined series however, people have started to warm up to the original again, for at least being fun to watch and not having a storyline which collapsed in on itself (it helps that it's much easier to ignore Galactica 1980 than it is to ignore the latter few seasons of the reimagined series).
  • Doctor Who:
    • Although easy to forget now that it's a massive media juggernaut seemingly beloved by all, the show was considered a joke in the years between the mid '80s and 2005. It had been a very popular show at its height in the '70s, but during its '80s Audience-Alienating Era and after its cancellation in 1989 it was, at best, a Cult Classic, and at worst, something for people to sneer at and assert that, no, they never watched if they wanted to maintain a shred of credibility. Then Russell T Davies and Christopher Eccleston came along, and suddenly everything changed. The show not only became a huge success in Britain and returned to omnipresence in pop culture, but for the first time it managed to cross The Pond and establish a substantial international fanbase, with Doctor Who merchandise sold in mainstream American music/video stores.
    • Case in point: this article from the Rotten Library, written in 2005 just as Doctor Who was returning to television, exemplifies the dismissive attitudes (in this case, from an American perspective) that many people had towards the show at the time, ending with a joke about looking for "New Who" on struggling PBS stations in between pledge drives. It would be unimaginable for that same article to be written today.
  • Game shows in general tend to go through cycles. They went through their first boom in The '50s, and fell hard after it was revealed that several of them (most infamously 21) were rigged in order to create tension for viewers. Except for the Panel Game variants like I've Got a Secret and low-stakes parlor games like Password, and a little thing called Jeopardy! that started in 1964, American audiences wouldn't fully trust game shows again until The '70s, when shows like Family Feud, The Price Is Right, The Joker's Wild, The $10,000 Pyramid, and Wheel of Fortune became popular on network TV. The network games almost began to die down in the '80s when the current syndicated version of Wheel debuted, followed a year later by a syndie revival of Jeopardy!, but the market did get quite saturated around the late part of the decade: in 1989 and 1990 over a dozen new shows premiered (including revivals and network primetime versions, even Monopoly had a show), except that the early 90s depression caused a backlash against the genre, which quickly went through the wayside: Except for the juggernaut The Price Is Right, there wasn't a single network daytime game show between the end of Caesar's Challenge in 1993 and the Let's Make a Deal revival that began in 2009. Meanwhile, cable became a haven for game shows for a while, but most of them were cheap, short-lived fluff outside a few Cult Classics like Supermarket Sweep, Double Dare, etc. The cable boom also made way for GSN, which offered reruns of older shows.

    The genre returned in a big way in the late '90s/early 2000s with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and The Weakest Link, as well as shows like Greed and the revival of The Hollywood Squares. This boom also caused a deluge of their assorted clones. In the early 2000s, Millionaire and Link pulled in tens of millions of viewers and were watercooler discussion fodder, and their hosts (Regis Philbin and Anne Robinson, respectively) were household names. On top of that, their flashiness and huge prize budgets mostly spelled the end of low-budget cable game shows. Then their networks began marketing them to death (ABC aired Millionaire almost every night of the week), and reality shows like Survivor, American Idol and The Amazing Race started taking off and providing what were then innovative alternatives to the traditional quiz show model. Almost overnight, the shows were only surviving in syndication — and even that wasn't enough to keep Link alive. To this day, their catch phrases ("Is that your final answer?" for Millionaire; "You are the weakest link. Goodbye!" for Link) are considered annoying as all hell. Game shows generally started to die off again, with one of the only success stories in the mid-2000s being Lingo (2002-2007) on GSN. Deal or No Deal sparked another brief revival in 2008, but its incredibly flimsy premise, ever-increasing gimmickry, and Wolverine Publicity helped do it in. Meanwhile, through all the cycles the genre has gone through, the aforementioned syndie versions of Wheel and Jeopardy!, and Price over on CBS, have remained consistently strong.

    In the UK, the genre seemingly died out at the end of the Millionaire Years (thanks to that show and others like The Weakest Link becoming a bit of a joke), but has recovered in later years with shows like Pointless, The Chase, and Eggheads getting good ratings and being nominated for TV awards.
  • Power Rangers was a huge phenomenon in the early '90s, but it began to slowly dwindle until about 2002, when it was bought by Disney, things getting worse afterwards. It had a short burst of success then, but Disney was apathetic towards the franchise at even the best of times, and it essentially culminated in its cancellation in 2009 after Power Rangers RPM. However, soon after, the franchise was bought back by Saban, hopped over to Nickelodeon, and after an upswing which culminated in Power Rangers (2017), it remains somewhat popular in the mainstream, helped by Hasbro's buyout of the franchise, the all-around improved reception of their first two series, Power Rangers: Beast Morphers and Power Rangers Dino Fury (with the latter's second season being made exclusive to Netflix), and to top it off another big screen reboot expected to hit theaters in 2023.
  • In-universe example from How I Met Your Mother: Marshall and Ted take a long drive with just one song to listen to, "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)". In alternating hours, they either hate it or love it (though unlike in a standard example, the moments of high "popularity" don't follow the thing's absence, but rather that it has managed to sink in).
  • The Joy of Painting saw a major Newbie Boom 20 years after its cancellation and the death of its host, Bob Ross, after a wildly successful Twitch marathon of the series in 2015. Both the show and Ross are more famous now than they ever were while the show was airing.
  • The long-form Mini Series in the U.S. In The '70s and The '80s, this was seen as the premier format for high-quality television, with shows like Roots, Jesus of Nazareth, V (1983), and Rich Man, Poor Man allowing the networks and their writers to stretch their wings and bring Hollywood-level production values and big-name stars to the small screen. The then-Big Three networks would devote large chunks of their annual budget and sweeps time to air miniseries that could take up a whole week (or even more) of programming to keep audiences glued to the TV. By the mid-80s, the rise of cable television and home video eroded the ratings for subsequent miniseries, and the failure of ambitious and expensive epics Amerika and War and Remembrance sullied the reputation of the format. By The '90s, the quality of miniseries fell into the gutter as networks exploited the format as a sweeps-week Ratings Stunt first and a method of storytelling second. The length of most miniseries also decreased, shrinking to just two parts and 4-5 hours, as networks grew more cost-conscious. By the Turn of the Millennium, a glut of crappy miniseries had virtually discredited the format.

    However, the miniseries found new life on cable television in the late '00s, where many smaller networks saw it as a cost-effective alternative to producing long-running series. FX's American Horror Story and HBO's True Detective have been using miniseries formats in all but name. The History Channel aired Hatfields and McCoys, which became a huge success. History followed that up with The Bible (2013) and Vikings, with both having high ratings starting out in spite of being torched by the critics, but in the case of the former, outside of a very specific niche audience of conservative Christians, audience opinion of the series dropped after it aired; and in the case of the latter, ratings fell during season 2. Nevertheless, The Bible was a bestseller on home video, ultimately becoming the most successful miniseries ever produced, and the format has now been seen in a more favorable light. After The Bible, a glut of miniseries were produced among the broadcast networks that had abandoned the format years earlier; however, after the poor ratings of such programs as The Dovekeepers, 24: Legacy, Heroes: Reborn, and AD: After the Bible (the latter three intended as backdoor pilots to weekly series, the miniseries format has since been relegated to cable and streaming services.
  • Once upon a time, soap operas were big business in American television, in no small part because of their low costs and high revenues, reaching their peak between the 1976 and 1995, when daytime dramas spawned a variety of "supercouples" which became magazine mainstays while nightly shows such as Dallas and Dynasty, and later on Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place garnered high ratings. However, by the second half of the 1990s demographic changes led to a noticeable decline in popularity, particularly in the case of daytime dramas, which were now seen as grotesque showcases of sappiness, outrageous plots and "not-yet-ready-for-prime-time" acting (even though the latter was persistenly spoofed when afternoon soaps were most popular) that were only watched by people with way too much time on their hands, while story arcs became increasingly rare in primetime series (with Dawson's Creek, Friends, The West Wing and 24 among the exceptions). Then in the mid-2000s, shows such as Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy and Nip/Tuck took the formula of sensationalist storytelling with a darker flavor to great success paving the way for other shows adopting melodramatic elements, which was also helped by the emergence of streaming and binge watching, which encouraged the inclusion of cliffhangers, once seen as a hackneyed device. By the late 2010s, several elements traditionally associated with soaps in North America, primarily their sensationalism and emphasis on personal relationships, permeated not only scripted TV series but also spilled over to other media (even though as, ironically, daytime serials have fallen into obscurity.
  • The Sopranos was a groundbreaking show when it first aired, pioneering dramatic television's modern usage of morally murky Anti-Villains and Villain Protagonists and showing that complicated plots can be told on television without having to hold the viewer's hand and still maintain their interest. It, along with Oz, made HBO nationally known as a go-to network for quality entertainment, and it was HBO's flagship TV show for a long time. However, the show's controversial series finale split viewers and its thunder was quietly taken by other acclaimed crime shows that took after its storytelling like Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy, while HBO's own Game of Thrones would later overtake it as the network's most popular TV show. The Sopranos would later see a resurgence of popularity in the early 2020s with the launch of HBO Max, making it more accessible than it ever was when it first aired. It also helps that its themes about family and personal growth continue to resonate with viewers to this day, even with younger ones who were just born when the show was still airing.
  • Star Trek has varied in both popularity and quality, constantly going from being a Cult Classic to being a mainstream phenomenon. Star Trek: The Original Series was moderately popular during its original 1966-69 run, but was cancelled after a low-budgeted third season scheduled on Fridays. The series was later revived as a 22-episode animated series. While the first film received mixed reviews, it did well enough to get another sequel, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which was widely considered the best film of the franchise and helped create a film series, albeit one of varying quality. Later, another series, Star Trek: The Next Generation was released, and became an iconic show, lasting 176 episodes and seven seasons. The popularity ended up spawning two shows: Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. While both were popular, they never achieved the status of The Next Generation. The franchise hit a low point in the early 2000s, with the box office failure and poor reception of Star Trek: Nemesis and the low ratings, lukewarm reception, and cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise. However, Star Trek (2009), a reboot of the franchise was a success both critically and commercially, and Star Trek Into Darkness continued the streak, even though it resulted in a Broken Base. Star Trek: Discovery premiered on Paramount+ in 2017, ushering in, as of 2023, five Trek programs currently producing new episodes.
  • The televised live musical was inescapable during the '50s, but died out by 1960, with the last one being a remake of Peter Pan. In 2013, NBC decided to put on the first televised live musical in 53 years, in the form of a remake of The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood. While it wasn't well received, ratings went through the roof and NBC decided that they would put out such a show annually. Peter Pan Live, their next musical, was met with similar audience response, but 2015's The Wiz Live became a critical darling just in time for another network to try out the live musical — Fox with Grease Live in January 2016. In 2017, ABC announced that they too would give a stab at the formula with a live version of The Little Mermaidnote  under the Wonderful World of Disney bannernote  — in the same month that Fox announced live versions of RENT and A Christmas Story, and NBC announced Jesus Christ Superstar for Easter Sunday 2018. Unfortunately, the trend suddenly died on January 26, 2019, when RENT Live star Brennin Hunt broke his foot during the dress rehearsal. With no understudies or backup plan, FOX elected to air the never-meant-to-be-seen dress rehearsal footage instead.
  • The X-Files was one of the shows (along with The Simpsons, Married... with Children, and NFC football) that catapulted the young Fox network to the big leagues in The '90s. Its mix of a sci-fi Myth Arc inspired by real-life UFO lore and the chemistry between its leads, FBI agents Mulder and Scully, turned it into a pop culture phenomenon that received two spinoffs (Millennium (1996) and The Lone Gunmen) and a theatrically-released film adaptation at the height of its run. However, the Seasonal Rot that the show suffered in its last few seasons killed most interest in the Myth Arc, which by then had turned into a Kudzu Plot that made the show and its creator, Chris Carter, the Trope Namers for The Chris Carter Effect. The show went out with a whimper in 2002, and a second movie released in 2008 met a poor reception and seemed to confirm that the show's fandom was dead. Worse, as Carter himself pointed out, the 9/11 attacks and The War on Terror destroyed the cultural climate that allowed The X-Files to become such a hit, consigning the conspiracy theories that the show was built around to the political fringes and making the entire concept seem like a relic of a more innocent time. Even the show's remaining fans often told new viewers to stick to the Monster of the Week episodes rather than get caught up in the convoluted Myth Arc.

    However, in 2016, Fox aired a new, six-episode Mini Series event that brought back the original cast and crew and continued plotlines that had been Left Hanging for fourteen years, in the process retconning many of the more unpopular elements of the Myth Arc that had come in during its Seasonal Rot. While "season 10" overall wasn't universally acclaimed, it did reignite interest in the original series, which had become easier than ever to watch in the age of streaming and binge-watching (the show being a prime example of Better on DVD). Nowadays, retrospectives on The X-Files tend to look back on it more favorably, focusing on the Glory Days of the Myth Arc and the innovations it brought to television (especially sci-fi and fantasy television) now that its Audience-Alienating Era has fallen into the past.
  • In The '60s, the Batman (1966) TV series starring Adam West left an indelible mark on the character and the superhero genre in general, winning audiences over with its sense of humor and its Lighter and Softer tone. During The Dark Age of Comic Books in the '80s and '90s, however, many comic book fans came to regard it as a symbol of everything wrong with the Silver Age, having taken Batman away from his roots as a hard-bitten Vigilante Man and turned him into a cuddly live-action cartoon. The fact that, for the longest time, the only media available from the show was the incredibly campy movie meant that there was little way to challenge that judgment, nor was the fact that the widely-reviled Batman & Robin drew heavily from the show for its style. Backlash against the Dark Age, West's own reemergence in pop culture late in his life, and the show finally getting released on home video in 2014 led to a slow but steady reevaluation of the show's merits, with many praising it as a hilarious Affectionate Parody of the superhero genre that boasted a great cast.
  • In The '90s, Fran Drescher's sitcom, The Nanny, was a modestly-popular TV series. But in 2023, it got a surge of popularity as Drescher, now president of SAG-AFTRA, led the union in a joint strike with the WGA. With wealth inequality significantly heightened and an increased awareness about class struggles, many found the show's premise, a middle-class woman working for a wealthy producer, incredibly pertinent, especially the season 2 episode "The Strike" from 1994, where Fran Fine refused to cross a picket line of striking busboys, in defiance of her employer, Broadway producer Maxwell Sheffield, who was hosting a party at that restaurant, and his attempts to force her through the picket line turn into a scandal.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Hulk Hogan. At the height of his popularity in 1985, he hosted Saturday Night Live and was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. By the time 1994 rolled around (thanks to a combination of confirmed allegations of steroid use, a worn out gimmick that seemed stuck in the '80s — partially for the previous reason, and a rather disastrous movie career), he was seen as a self-parody whose shelf life was such that he needed to ditch the hero routine altogether just to remain relevant. However, in 2002, his return to WrestleMania — still in his villain persona — resulted in the fans cheering him over the Rock. To this day, he and the Rock are among the closest things the WWE has produced to A-list celebrities.

  • This happens to pro athletes all the time, even more so today in the age of multi-million dollar contracts, free agency, and intense media scrutiny. You'd never know it today, but Ted Williams was booed everywhere in the American League, including Boston, for at least half of his career — but time (and military service) has left him in a more favorable light. Alex Rodriguez seems to be on a downturn right now, but was one of the most popular players in the past and probably will be again before it's all said and done. Jennifer Capriati went from "tennis phenom" to "troubled teenager" to "elder stateswoman of tennis". Mike Tyson alone has jumped back and forth at least twice each.
  • Baseball in the US endured three moments when it seemed like it was on the road to oblivion, only to prove itself more resilient than people thought.
    • The 1919 Black Sox scandal, in which several players on the Chicago White Sox were caught having thrown the World Series in order to collect on gambling bets, shattered baseball's public image and almost destroyed the sport. Fortunately, Babe Ruth began his career around the same time, and his prowess made baseball even more popular than before. It was also around this time when the "dead-ball era" of low-scoring, defense-focused, inside-the-park baseball (in 1908, the average number of runs scored in a game, by both teams, was only 3.4) gave way to the high-hitting, home run-focused game that the sport has been famous for ever since. However, some sports writers point out that the "boring" Baseball of the era had the necessary degree of drama that made it the nation's biggest sport, and that the supposedly exciting focus on batting cannot really compete with the nerve-wracking tension of the NFL or the extreme manliness newer leagues such as the NBA take pride on.
    • During The '50s, the only place where baseball wasn't in a sorry state was New York City. The minor leagues were collapsing due to the availability of major league games on television, old stadiums were growing increasingly decrepit, the dominance of New York teams (particularly the Yankees)note  was causing fans outside New York to tune out, some teams were still refusing to integrate long after Jackie Robinson had broken down the color barrier, and the sport had no real presence (other than the aforementioned minor leagues) in the fast-growing "Sun Belt" of the South and the West Coast. All of this gave football, both professional and college-level, enough room to build itself up as a serious rival to baseball's status as "America's pastime."

      Then in 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giantsnote  moved to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively, starting a trend for other teams looking to build new stadiums, which resulted in the sport's expansion beyond the East Coast and the Midwest. This was followed by the collapse of the long-running Yankees dynasty in The '60s and that team falling into a slump, meaning that fans of other franchises now had a chance to see their teams win the World Series. Suddenly, baseball was relevant again, and in a position to put up a real fight against football for the rest of the century.

      New York sportswriters are still likely to remember The '50s as baseball's "golden age", simply because it was the era in which the Yankees got the World Series rings they were entitled to, dammit! And if the Yankees didn't win, then the Dodgers or the Giants probably did.
    • The scarce TV coverage of MLB games in the early '90s triggered a strike that Cut Short the 1994 season, and the steroids scandal of the 2000s tarnished the reputation of some of the biggest sluggers of the late '90s and the sport's popularity began to fade quickly. However, it seems that everything has been forgiven and forgotten by the following decade, primarily because of the scandals that have rocked the NFL (which was one of the main beneficiaries of the decline of the MLB).
  • The NBA experiences this. While it gained notoriety in The '70s with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the only place you could see basketball on TV was on scattered late night broadcasts on tape delay. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird would help popularized the league in the '80s. As The '90s unfolded, Michael Jordan took the sport to worldwide popularity, but his eventual retirement left a huge void in its popularity at the Turn of the Millennium. While it is currently nowhere near its '90s peaknote , LeBron James has given the league enough buzz to rival football and baseball in national attention. The internet and exemplary talent from abroad like Dirk Nowitzki (who is easily the best known non-soccer team sport athlete in his native Germany) or the Argentine Manu Ginobili have also helped the NBA garner a significant international fanbase, helped by the fact basketball is far simpler than gridiron football and baseball, which have struggled to gain popularity outside the American influence sphere until later years.
  • Between the late 19th century until the 1960s, bowling was as popular as the other big leagues. For instance, Don Carter became the first athlete to sign an endorsement contract worth one million dollars in 1964 (by comparison, NFL's Joe Namath earned $10,000 with Schick four years later) and there were two bowling shows on prime-time. By the 1970s however, the lethargic and complicated nature of the sport coupled with its down-class appeal led to a continued decline, except for a period in the mid/late 1980s when automatic scoring was introduced. During the late 2000s and the 2010s, many bowling-alleys became part of "entertainment centers" in order to make them more respectable. As a result, interest in bowling has increased, although time will tell if this will be another fad like in the 80s or a more permanent trend.
  • Sports like figure skating, women's gymnastics, and depending on where you live, soccer. Every four years, during the Olympic Games and The World Cup, those sports take center stage and grab the headlines, and then afterwards, the athletes largely disappear into obscurity until the next big sporting event rolls around.
  • George Steinbrenner is generally remembered as controversial but successful as owner of the New York Yankees from 1973 until his death in 2010, but there was a time when he was considered much more controversial than successful. Within a few years of becoming owner, he established a reputation as an often tyrannical and capricious but effective owner, using his vast reserves of money and the newly instituted system of free agency to put together a dysfunctional but winning team, winning the World Series in 1977 and 1978. They continued to be mostly a winning team for the next decade, but repeatedly fell short of playoff success, and then finished with a losing season each year from 1989 to 1992. This, coupled with his being removed permanently from the Yankees' baseball operations in 1990 for hiring a gambler to dig up dirt on star player Dave Winfield, caused him to be seen as a corrupt egomaniac who had ruined a once-proud franchise. However, he was reinstated in 1993, and brought the Yankees back to their winning ways, partly because he took a less hands-on approach to the team, including stopping his infamous tendency to constantly replace managers. The Yankees won five more World Series before his death, insuring that his legacy would be overall positive. Keith Olbermann discusses this in this video.
  • Brett Favre was revered by fans as the guy who saved the Green Bay Packers franchise and brought them their first Super Bowl victory in 30 years when he retired for the first time following the 2007 season. He then un-retired before the 2008 season and was traded to the New York Jets. The move divided the Cheeseheads (Packers fans) to the point that the CBS affiliates in Green Bay and Milwaukee requested as many Jets games as possible to facilitate the large number of fans who still supported Favre. Following the season, Favre retired for a second time, then un-retired again only to sign with the Packers' hated rivals, the Minnesota Vikings, which drew ire even from fans who'd continued to support him as a Jet.

    After a relatively successful year with the Vikings, in which they beat the Packers twice, Favre retired again only to once-again come out of retirement. Fortunately for the Packers, it got better this time around. Not only did the Packers, led by former Favre understudy Aaron Rodgers easily avenge both of the previous years' losses to the Vikings en route to victory in Super Bowl XLV, but Favre had the worst season of his career that also saw him miss his first game since becoming the Packers starting QB in 1992 due to a late-season injury. To make matters worse, he was also involved in a scandal when it came to light that he attempted to have an extra-marital affair with a Jets cheerleader during his stint in New York.

    He retired for good following the 2010 season, and steps were taken on both sides to repair Favre's relationship with the Packers organization and fans. By the time the Packers retired his number in 2015, it was clear that he was forgiven by all of the fans and his Hall of Fame induction in 2016 was filled with festivities in both Canton and Green Bay. At least until 2022, when Favre found himself in hot water again following the reveal that he took part in a scheme to use Mississippi welfare funds to build sports facilities at his alma mater, University of Southern Mississippi.
  • American football in Germany has undergone at least one cycle of this, though outside factors played a huge role. Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, the World League of American Football and later NFL Europe brought (semi)pro football to Europe and Germans in particular liked what they were getting — big shows, concerts, American talent and the big stadiums where soccer games were normally held. In addition Football was part of the pay TV package you had to buy if you wanted to see soccer on live TV, so many Germans had the NFL on their TV anyway and ratings were solid. Even the domestic German league managed a couple of games with attendance figures like 30.000 for a Braunschweig-Hamburg final.

    Then the NFL Europe shut down because Roger Goodell, who had just become commissioner, wanted to save money and instead focus on the NFL International Series. To add insult to injury, Hamburg went bankrupt and Braunschweig entered a serious Audience-Alienating Era due to money and fan interest running out. The pay TV company dropped the NFL due to its high cost and football entered a serious slump. Cue back to back European championships for the German national team (2010 and 2014, the 2018 edition will be held in Germany) and promising ratings for the NFL in free TV coverage (Playoffs only). Suddenly one very smart person over at Pro7/Sat1 Media Group decides to carry the regular season (two games every Sunday, plus all London and Thanksgiving games) and ratings suddenly explode, teams don't know where to go with all the young people who suddenly want to try the sport and NFL related hashtags are trending topic on German Twitter. And if you try counting the amount of people running around with NFL basecaps on any given day, you'd soon get tired of all the Raiders and Patriots gear.
  • Soccer in the United States. In the early part of the 20th century, when most of the major professional sports leagues on both sides of the Atlantic were in their infancy, the American Soccer League was among them. It was, at one point, the second most popular sports league in the country after Major League Baseball. However, disputes between the ASL and the rival United States Football Association over a number of factors led to a "Soccer War", with FIFA butting in and siding with the USFA over controversy that the ASL was signing players who were under contract to European teams. The Soccer War crippled the ASL, with the league folding at the end of the 1933 season. Worse, while the USFA and FIFA won the war and established their pre-eminence, the spectacle of a US athletic association conspiring with a European organization to undermine its rival alienated many U.S. sports fans by creating an image of soccer as a sport controlled by foreigners, and along with the lack of a professional league that was able to field good players like the ASL did, the events killed the sport’s popularity for decades, so bad to the point that it has its own trope.

    Soccer experienced a brief but explosive boom in the United States between the late '70s and the mid '80s with the North American Soccer League, thanks in part to the New York Cosmos, which brought in some of the soccer world's biggest heroes (such as Pele himself and Franz Beckenbauer) to play for them. While financial hardships following Pele’s retirement would eventually lead to the NASL’s folding in 1984, it reintroduced soccer to the North American sports scene on a large scale, and was a major contributing factor in soccer becoming one of the most popular sports among American youth. Along with FIFA giving the US hosting duties in the 1994 World Cup, the improving success of the US Men's and Women’s National Teams, and the implementation and growing success of Major League Soccer, soccer has eventually gained its long-sought Major League status. However, the stereotypes about the "sport of the future"note  being for kids who got bored rather quickly, pushy "soccer moms" and brown-skinned immigrants persisted until the early 2010s, when its popularity exploded thanks to a craze over British culture, surging Hispanic population, and the national team's improving performance, reaching the best-of-16 rounds in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, which had different degrees of fan enthusiasm (only 50 American fans traveled in 2010, while in 2014 U.S. fans amounted for more tickets than any country other than the hosting Brazil). In 2015, NBC began broadcasting Premier League games, becoming the only league other than the NFL and the NCAA basketball league to get regular network coverage in North America outside of play-offs. As a result, many polls have placed soccer as America's second most popular sport in the 18-34 age group, being in fourth place among the general public, being almost tied with basketball and baseball (even if the national team failed to qualify for Russia 2018), something unfathomable one or two decades ago, with many commentators speculating that the MLS might eventually become "the national pastime" by the time the U.S. hosts another World Cup in 2026 (alongside Canada and Mexico). And in 2019, the U.S. Women's soccer team won the Women's World Cup, receiving much more attention than their previous championship in 2015, becoming newsworthy not only because of their athletic prowess but also for their open "wokeness".
  • This has been a recurring theme in Formula One for quite some time. Generally speaking, if a driver or team is dominant for too long, their popularity tanks as people grow tired of them winning all the time, but as soon as their dominance stops, their popularity recovers. To wit:
    • When Michael Schumacher was at the peak of his powers in 2000-2004, the sport's fanbase was split between those who hailed him as the greatest driver of all time, and those who decried him as a boring Invincible Hero who resorted to cheating when things didn't go his waynote . Following his retirement in 2006, and especially his near-fatal head injury in 2013, criticism of Schumi died down considerably: he's now widely agreed to be one of, if not the greatest drivers ever to have lived, and his more controversial incidents don't get brought up anywhere near as often.
    • Sebastian Vettel won four titles in a row with Red Bull from 2010-2013, with the final title being his most dominant as he won a record nine races in a row. This domination was widely perceived as boring by many F1 fans, and Vettel in turn was widely disliked for it. Then 2014 arrived, Mercedes emerged as the dominant power (see below), and Vettel moved to Ferrari. His reputation soon began to skyrocket, partly due to the perception of him as the "plucky underdog" taking the fight to Mercedes, and partly because, now that fans were no longer jaded by his dominance, they were able to realise that Vettel was actually a Nice Guy who was willing to speak out about social and environmental issues that the other drivers shied away from. His retirement in 2022 was met with much sadness, and you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who genuinely hates him anymore.
    • When Max Verstappen first entered the sport as a 17-year-old, he was widely viewed as being far too young and inexperienced, and his raw, aggressive driving style was seen as proof of this. Then he moved to Red Bull, won his first-ever race with them, and the hype around him began to build; Verstappen was billed as the "next big thing" and a future world champion, and his aggressive driving suddenly became a source of much excitement. This excitement continued to build, reaching fever pitch in 2021 as Verstappen challenged Lewis Hamilton for the title... then he won it in extremely contentious circumstances, and the fanbase shattered into pieces. He then dominated the 2022 season and, as of the time of writing, is dominating the 2023 season, and once again, fans are beginning to decry his domination as "boring" and his driving style as too aggressive.

  • RENT was a huge hit when it premiered on Broadway. It was acclaimed and loved by audiences, becoming one of the most popular Broadway musicals of the 1990s. Then, around the mid-2000s, the musical started to get dismissed as narmy and overrated by audiences. Hype Backlash had set in and the show eventually had its final showing in 2008. The failed film adaptation surely didn't help things. Fast-forward to the 2010s and it is again being recognized as a fantastic work of drama with interesting compositions that were unlike anything at the time. RENT continues to hold a high popularity and seems to be making a comeback with audiences.
  • Terence Rattigan. Ask any critic or theater buff in the '40s and '50s, and they'd probably list Rattigan — author of The Deep Blue Sea, Separate Tables and The Winslow Boy, among others — as one of England's great playwrights, a master of witty dialogue and refined, well-plotted drama. Just a decade later, with the advent of the "Angry Young Men" (John Osborne, Harold Pinter, etc.) and their more emotional, formally fluid and class-driven work, Rattigan became despised for the very qualities that he'd been praised for. After decades of disfavor, critics in the '90s began analyzing Rattigan's plays through the prism of personal identity and sexual repression, viewing thematic content previous generations had ignored or dismissed. With frequent revivals and film adaptations of his work, Rattigan has regained his reputation.
  • Believe it or not, the works of William Shakespeare (who, during his lifetime made enough money off of something to buy his family a coat of armsnote ) did not become the canonical greatest writer ever until some 170 years after his death. Some of this has to do with social changes (English Civil War, the Restoration) which led to a period in which The Diary of Samuel Pepys wrote about several of them that they are So Bad, It's Horrible or merely So Okay, It's Average. In France, an Anglophile like Voltaire loved John Locke, Newton, Swift and Pope, but really thought Shakespeare was bad for violating the classical unities. Shakespeare-craziness really hit high gear in the late 1700s, first in England (under Samuel Johnson) and then in Germany (where the Enlightenment and Romantic writers were revolting against the French neoclassicism) started celebrating Shakespeare as an example of "genius" where Shakespeare's "little Latin and lesse Greek" (as his good friend Ben Jonson wrote in a commemorative elegy on the First Folio) didn't actually hurt the appreciation for him but made him even more of a "miraculous genius" granted natural talents by divine providence.
  • Cats was the musical during the 80s, but as Broadway moved on to less flashy endeavors in the 1990s, the jokes about its niche premise and unusual costumes became more and more common. Eventually the only time it was referenced would be when it was to be poked fun at. In the 2010s however, with musicals becoming more popular in general, the show received new fans and ultimately ended up getting a revival and a movie (although the latter infamously bombed with critics and audiences).
  • Hamilton underwent (an admittedly downplayed version of) this remarkably quickly: Upon its premiere in late 2015, it received thunderous acclaim and it soon became almost impossible to get tickets for the musical, which rapidly became a cultural touchstone of the millennial generation. By 2019 however, interest in the play suddenly began to wane, partly because it was deemed to be too "gentle" for a cultural landscape that was adopting a more confrontational tone, but also because some considered the musical was whitewashing slaveowners. When several videos mocking both Hamilton and its playwright, Lin-Manuel Miranda, as rather "dorky" appeared on TikTok during the winter and early spring of 2020, some considered these take-offs to be quite affectionate, but others saw these as a piss-take amid a possible generational rift between "zoomers" and "millennials", as pointed out by Rolling Stone in an article. Nevertheless, the release of the musical on Disney+note  and the election of Joe Biden allowing the cultural landscape to move closer to the one of the mid-late 2010s later that year led to renewed interest.

  • Polly Pocket was popular in the 1990s but it lost popularity over the years to the point it was discontinued in North America in 2012 and discontinued worldwide in 2015. Its 2018 retool was much better received, in part because they went back to tiny dolls. The mid-2010s saw an increase in smaller dolls so Polly Pocket attracted kids more than it did a decade prior.

    Video Games 
  • The indie scene altogether is the end result of this. Many indie developers are themselves gamers who first got introduced into the medium during the 8 and 16-bit era of gaming. As a result, they model their own games on the ones they grew up with.
  • PC gaming is a nation-specific example in Japan. During The '80s, gaming on home computers were quite popular, with MSX being the lead with other competing products at the time such as FM Towns, Sharp X68000 and PC-98. During the mid-90s, consoles dominated the market and relegated the PC platforms to business uses and Visual Novels, and less and less companies willing to sell PC games to the Japanese market. In addition to consoles, mobile gaming further decimated them in the noughties, leaving almost zero room for them till the late 2010s, when PC as a gaming platform make a comeback in Japan thanks to Virtual Youtubers and e-sports gaming (the latter helped by Battle Royale Games such as PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Apex Legends and Fortnite) incentivized them to the gaming population, and also introduced Japanese gamers to PC gaming distribution platforms such as Steam. The return was so strong to the point many Japanese companies decide to bring back their PC porting of their (recent) games for the home market.
  • Duke Nukem Forever has gone through this cycle twice already. It was highly anticipated in the late '90s, became nothing more than a punchline to any joke about vaporware or Schedule Slip during the 2000s, and then became legitimately anticipated again when it was finally released in 2011. Unfortunately, this, combined with Two Decades Behind, is also a major reason why it received such a lukewarm reaction. Critics pointed out that, after 15 years in development, its style of gameplay and presentation didn't hold up well against the landscape of modern shooters.
  • Sci-Fi shooters like Halo and Doom have experienced this cycle. During the '90s and early 2000s, Doom, Halo and their clones were insanely popular among action aficionados for their fast-paced, action-packed gameplay and sci-fi aethetics. However, while neither have been forgotten per se, they declined in popularity from 2005 onwards due to competition from modern military shooters. So much so that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare dethroned Halo 3 as the most played game on Xbox Live. Overtime though, interest in the sci-fi shooter was rekindled as they offered diverse array of gameplay styles and weapon diversity in fantastical settings. Ironically, many new shooters like Titanfall, Destiny, and even Halo's rival Call of Duty have begun copying Doom and Halo.
  • Counter-Strike, and E-sports based FPS in general, are this as well. Late 90s most multiplayer games are geared for competitive gaming. However in the 2000s, for first person (while MOBA are practically born in 2005 with DOTA) it died down as the trend is rising towards cinematic action and high quality graphics that seems to be only suited for high-end rig at the time. In the last decade of the 2000s and the early years of The New '10s, console FPS are primarily played casually. Come the mid leg of The New '10s, and Counter Strike saw its return with Counter Strike Global Offensive, along with other competitive shooters like Quake saw its return, and with them, the prominent E-Sports community.
  • Nintendo:
    • In the '80s and early '90s, it was the embodiment of modern entertainment. In the late '90s and early 2000s, it became "the kiddy company" due to competition from Sega and Sony and the censorship of certain games like Wolfenstein 3D and Mortal Kombat and slipped into last place. So what does Nintendo do? Rather than fight the "kiddy" label, they embraced it, marketing toward families, senior citizens, and other groups not traditionally viewed as "core" gamers with the simple-to-understand controls of the Nintendo DS and Wii, and a bevy of well-crafted casual video games. Thanks to this strategy, it was once again the dominant force in gaming throughout the late 2000s.
    • Nintendo hit another low in the early 2010s with their Wii U console, which fell to last place behind the Playstation 4 and Xbox One despite a one-year head start. This happened for several reasons, but one is that they attempted to win back core gamers while still trying to appeal to casuals simultaneously, and failed miserably at both, leaving diehard Nintendo fans as their only audience. Their follow-up, the Nintendo Switch, did manage to strike that balance and launched to massive commercial success, going on to take the Wii's throne as Nintendo's best-selling home console in history.
  • Pokémon:
    • Back in the late '90s, the series as a whole was the king of kid fads. However, it quickly faded among people who only played it to be "cool", and in a few short years, the only people who would still publicly admit to liking it were small children (though the games were still system sellers). After the release of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, it started making a comeback, and the 2016 launch of the Pokémon GO AR game firmly cemented it. Kids can safely admit to liking it in public again, longtime fans are no longer bashed for it, and those kids who were only fans back in the day are now grown-ups old enough to wax nostalgic about it, as seen in the page image. In addition, a Japanese clothing company released a line of Poké-merchandise specifically targeted at adult Poké-fans, with an "artsier" bent to it. However, the above is mostly restricted to the games: while there is not as much hate for the Pokémon anime as around the Johto arc, it still hasn't recovered quite as much as the games did.
    • This also happens for games within the franchise.
      • Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire had their fair share of fans back in the day, but their popularity shrunk pretty rapidly, only to be revitalized years later with their remakes, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.
      • Pokémon Black and White were considered among the best games in the series upon release, then quickly fell out of favor due to how little they lent themselves to competitive battling and a controversial Pokédex, but then rose back into favor due to the backlash against the next few main games blatantly pandering to nostalgic fans in the expense of new innovations like Black and White attempted.
  • Indie gaming, the Wii, and mobile gaming have brought back quite a few genres that were once assumed to have died:
    • 2D side-scrollers and platformers, such as Castlevania, Contra, Super Mario Bros., and Double Dragon, once made up the bedrock of the industry. After the Video Game 3D Leap, they were viewed as quaint relics of the pre-PlayStation era, and were relegated to handhelds and cheap Flash games... until New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. Wii tore up the charts, and indie games like Braid and Eversion became critical darlings. Now, the side-scroller has once again become a major part of gaming, as seen with the latest outings of Mega Man, Sonic, Donkey Kong, Rayman, and Kirby, as well as original games like LittleBigPlanet, Super Meat Boy, 'Splosion Man, Terraria, Broforce, and Starbound.
    • The Survival Horror genre originated as a nifty response to the technological limitations of fifth-generation consoles, and produced a mountain of killer apps for the young PlayStation console, most notably Resident Evil and Silent Hill, which were among the premier game franchises in the second half of the '90s. In the Turn of the Millennium, however, these types of games were squeezed out by rising budgets and a period of genre homogenization that briefly occurred during the mid-to-late 2000s. Resident Evil abandoned its survival horror roots in favour of more action oriented gameplay. Silent Hill eventually slid out of notice sometime after being outsourced to western developers. However, starting in the early 2010s, the genre made a comeback in the indie realm, with games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, DayZ, Slender, and the Five Nights at Freddy's games being well-received and spawning a wave of new horror efforts. With The Last of Us being a smash hit critically and commercially, with many even considering it the best game of the entire Seventh Generation. Meanwhile, the Resident Evil franchise re-embraced it's roots with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.
    • After the leap to 3D in late '90s and 2000s, especially with the major spotlight titles for the contemporary consoles being full 3D games, sprite graphics were considered hopelessly outdated for home console and PC gaming, something only seen in portable handheld games, bargain-bin shovelware "retro collections", and certain developers (such as SNK) that only got away with it due to the Grandfather Clause. However, in the seventh and eighth generation of consoles, after the rise of digital distribution (which massively cuts costs such as printing copies and shipping), indie and smaller developers for home consoles looked at sprites and saw a more practical alternative to high-tech 3D graphics engines, especially now that technology allowed for the display of far more detailed sprites and more impressive gameplay features. Braid, for instance, got a ton of mileage out of its artistic sprite characters. Nowadays, 2D games for home consoles and PC continues to be a trend to the point that Shovel Knight got a physical release.
    • The Mons Series genre saw a decline and revival in interest over the years. Back during the heyday of Pokemon every company wanted a piece of the monster collecting pie, and this surge of monster-themed games and anime lasted well into the 2000s. By the new 10s, most of these series fell into obscurity and even the bigger names like Digimon and Monster Rancher pulled out of the market for a while. However, in the late 10s and new 20s, Mons games saw a big surge of popularity in the Indie game scene. This was partly spurred by dissatisfaction from longtime Pokemon fans regarding the direction Game Freak took the series over time, and part of it is also nostalgia for long dormant mons franchises released during the boom.
    • The Adventure Game, particularly the point-and-click puzzle variety, mostly dried up around the mid '90s around the same time LucasArts stopped making them in favor of Star Wars licensed games, upstaged by new genres such as the First-Person Shooter. For a long time, they were all but absent except in the indie and hobby scene. Starting around 2008, however, Telltale Games started making inroads with rebooting classic franchises such as Sam & Max, and the rise of digital distribution meant that companies like LucasArts and Sierra could offer their old games for sale to the public again. Fast forward to 2013, where adventure games feature heavily in the indie renaissance, Telltale's adaptation of The Walking Dead wins multiple Game of the Year awards, and the mere promise of an adventure game by LucasArts veteran Tim Schafer nets Double Fine over $3 million on Kickstarter and starts the craze of crowdfunding indie games (including other genres that fell victim to market trends and the blockbuster model). Then a few years later, everyone started complaining that Telltale's games are stale and samey, while several high-profile Kickstarted games (including those from Double Fine) ended up being derided as So Okay, It's Average. Adventure games are virtually nowhere to be seen again, and no really big crowdfunded games have been put out for years. So the pendulum swings.
  • Retro gaming, in particular the 16-bit period. Emulators have led people to discover a lot of old classics that can be played for free, take up hardly any space and do not take any time to install. Companies have followed suit by reissuing older games. In addition, PS1 gaming is also making a comeback via the PlayStation Network and emulation on PSP. This doesn't apply to Europe, though, due to No Export for You issues.
    • 8-bit retro gaming, on the other hand, has been a little more shaky. During the 16-bit era, 8-bit games (particularly from the original Nintendo Entertainment System and Atari 2600) were seen as woefully outdated and unhip. Come the 32-bit era, classic Nintendo games begin to make a comeback, thanks to the rise of emulation. Unfortunately, emulation was and still is technically illegal. So, in response to the burgeoning scene, Nintendo unleashed a downloadable service called the "Virtual Console" in 2006 for its then-new home console the Wii. The idea was that fans could download and play classic games from every major console (including non-Nintendo consoles) up to and including the Nintendo 64 for a relatively small price. Fans went wild! Finally, there was a way to legally play classic games without needing to scour EBay for a used gaming console. The new found accessibility of classic 8-bit games also spurred an interested in new games that mimicked them both from major publishersnote  and the burgeoning indie scenenote . Unfortunately, it wasn't long before people realized that a lot of 8-bit Nintendo games didn't really hold up by modern gaming standards (not just because of their graphics and sound, but also because of archaic game design choices, etc.). To make matters worse, as this video points out, Nintendo post-Wii started milking re-releases of 8-bit Nintendo games while paying comparably little regards to their later consoles (especially the GameCube, which many fans have been begging to see rereleased games from), causing nostalgia for 8-bit Nintendo games to wane, as evidenced by the muted reception to the Switch receiving old Nintendo games as downloadables.
  • Mortal Kombat in The '90s: a ridiculously popular 2D fighting game, with blood and gore as a selling point. Mortal Kombat during the Turn of the Millennium: an confusing, ridiculously unbalanced 3D fighting game series past its prime (the Lighter and Softer crossover with DC not helping anything), and suffered heavily from its poorly-done Video Game 3D Leap. Mortal Kombat starting with the 2011 reboot: a ridiculously popular fighting game that uses 3D graphics but is played on a 2D plane, with blood and gore as a selling point.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog series has gone on a wild roller coaster of this:
    • When it came out, it immediately became one of the definitive games of The 16-bit Era and put the Sega Genesis into a fierce competition with Nintendo. During the time of the Sega Saturn, his popularity dipped because the series was strangely on main series hiatus, only existing through spinoffs such as Sonic R and an enhanced remake of Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island. Come the Sega Dreamcast, Sonic regained the spotlight with the leap to 3D, with Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 was wildly popular and highly acclaimed, but subsequent games would take their flaws, such as dodgy camera and controls and Gameplay Roulette, and cause the series to slowly slide into a bad reputation for its flawed 3D games and an annoying fanbase. This was exacerbated by the over-the-top Darker and Edgier Shadow the Hedgehog, the infamous Obvious Beta Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) and the shameful Porting Disaster of the original game, causing the series to fall into infamy.

      After Sonic Unleashed introduced a new well-received style of play, with Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations refining it and removing any poorly received alternate gameplay styles, Sonic's popularity increased even more to the point of appearing in a movie. Then after that, the series' popularity dipped once again, with Sonic Lost World getting a mixed reception for its jarringly different gameplay and collection of other highly experimental play styles after the well-received boost games, and then even more so with the ill-fated Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. Even though the latter was part of a spin-off sub-franchise whose 3DS entries were less negatively received, the industry as a whole started to trash Sonic as being a relic of the 16-bit era. The 25th anniversary duo of Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces has seen mixed results; while Mania has gotten an overwhelmingly positive response for recreating everything loved about the classic games, Forces has seen a very mixed response towards its level design, story, and use of three playstyles. The 2020 Hollywood film adaptation brought the series back to general mainstream light, which it hasn't been in since the '90s.
    • When Sonic Adventure came out, it was met with mostly positive reception and even became the Killer App for the then dying Sega Dreamcast. Later on, however, reception towards it started to turn sour after numerous ports, leading more and more people to take notice of their archaic and very questionable design decisions. What made things worse is that the content that was originally seen as ambitious and bold then came to be viewed as gimmicky and tryhard (namely things like the Unexpected Gameplay Change and the greater emphasis on plot) which culminated in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), a game that took everything already considered problematic from Adventure and made it worse. Naturally, Sega would do everything to move away from Adventure and almost anything associated from that time, outside of a nod here and there: Sonic would be the only playable character from that point on, almost every supporting character was Demoted to Extra, and the plots became much more simpler and juvenile. However, fans eventually started to get tired of that direction by the time Sonic Forces came out. Looking back, fans came to the realization that many of the problems with Adventure were mostly prevalent in a lot of 3D games at the time, and that the ideas presented in Adventure weren't inherently bad, just poorly executed, and people have come to enjoy the game because of or in spite of its flaws. The slower-based gameplay segments of the Adventure titles have also become more appreciated in hindsight due to Modern Sonic's controversial "Boost to Win" formula reducing the modern games to "hold forward and A to win". With the advent of remakes making rounds in the late 2010s, namely the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Spyro Reignited Trilogy, and Mario and Zelda returning to their early days around the same time, many fans are hoping for a remake of Sonic Adventure (and to a lesser extent, its sequel) to address many of these issues.
  • The Donkey Kong Country games were huge in the mid-'90s, with critics and gamers alike praising them to no end. While Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! may not have had the impact the first two games had,note  the series remained popular, even if the critical praise tapered a bit drawing closer to the Turn of the Millennium, with other, formerly less-hyped games being favored on the whole in retrospect. Opinions really began to shift following the release of Donkey Kong 64, which many reviewers panned as an uninspired Fetch Quest, and by the mid-2000s a full-fledged Hype Backlash had set in, with it becoming trendy among critics and gamers to badmouth the series. Most retrospectively attribute this to spite over Rare's decision in late 2002 to leave Nintendo for Microsoft, and their subsequent Audience-Alienating Era, while others point to a well-publicized quote by Shigeru Miyamoto (one that he later backed away from) dismissing the series as pure style over substancenote  Regardless, the Donkey Kong Country series found its way onto many "Most Overrated Games of All Time" lists, and came to be seen as a prime example of all that was wrong with the Video Game 3D Leap in the mid-'90s. Fortunately, the backlash subsided greatly after Donkey Kong Country Returns became a massive critical and commercial success, the series' reputation returning to greatness among critics and gamers.
  • For years, Everquest was the MMORPG for many people. Eventually, however, World of Warcraft became more popular, and over the years it has had difficulty staying mainstream in an increasingly crowded MMO landscape. Everquest Next renewed interest with many people, especially as it's due for consoles, however it ended up canceled. It still introduced many to the series though.
  • On his debut, the Crash Bandicoot series was hailed as Sony's answer to Nintendo's Mario or Sega's Sonic. Crash's first three games were lauded for their tight gameplay and beautiful art design, and even the spinoff kart racer Crash Team Racing was seen as one of the better examples of that genre. However, series creator Naughty Dog eventually moved on to greener pastures and left the rights to the property with Universal, whose new, multiplatform installments met varying levels of success but were regarded as inferior to the original trilogy, which led to the franchise being handed to Sierra, and later Activision when they bought Sierra. Crash fell out of the spotlight as a result, reaching a nadir with the poorly-received Crash: Mind Over Mutant. Eventually, even the original games were seen as not all that great, their 2˝D platforming gameplay being remembered as both frustrating and technologically backwards in comparison to games like Super Mario 64. However, the announcement of the N. Sane Trilogy in 2017, a Compilation Rerelease of complete remakes of the first three games, was met with much resounding fanfare from old Crash fans, and its release was met with critical and commercial success (despite, or perhaps because of, it being even harder than the originals). With the success of the N. Sane Trilogy leading to a remake of Crash Team Racing and a brand new game that follows on directly from the first three (and ignores the rest), many will agree that the Crash Bandicoot series has regained its former spotlight and has won over many new fans.
  • The space simulator genre was big in The '90s, with juggernauts like Chris Roberts' Wing Commander and David Braben / Ian Bell's Elite, which were big-budget AAA blockbuster games. However, the rise of more profitable games, such as shooters, caused publishers to stop funding these games; Roberts' Freelancer in 2003 was the last major publisher AAA-budge space game, and its insane budget and frequent delays may have accelerated the decline. For almost a decade after Freelancer's release, the only space sim games were Egosoft's X-Universe series, and a smattering of small indie titles such as Evochron. The rise of crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter enabled developers to crowd fund their games or show there is an interest to investors. Roberts and Braben are back with Star Citizen (still in development as of 2017, and one the most expensive games ever developed) and Elite Dangerous (released 2014), respectively, and smaller studios are hopping on the train as well, such as the space sim/RTS hybrid Void Destroyer.
  • In the '80s and '90s, Japan was the dominant force in the video game industry. Producing many different iconic and groundbreaking franchises. However, by the PS3/X360 era, they began to fall off the map, largely due to the overwhelming burden of developing for HD consoles, the surge of quality Western titles, and AAA Japanese developers trying too hard to cater to the Western market. However, from around 2015, Japanese developers began to skyrocket back to stardom with a string of critically and commercially successful games that put the nation back on the spotlight of the gaming world. The fact that Japanese games as of 2015 onwards are readily available in Steam and mobile phone, thus expanding demographics, helps.
  • Immersive Sim games dominated the PC scene in The '90s, with the Ultima series, the System Shock games, Thief, and Deus Ex all releasing to critical acclaim, but none were too commercially successful. It was then ignored for most of the sixth generation, only to break into the mainstream during the seventh generation with games like BioShock and Dishonored becoming mainstream successes, along with established franchises like Bethesda Softworks' The Elder Scrolls taking on more immersive sim elements as the series went on and broke into the mainstream. The genre then hit a snag in the eighth generation, with BioShock going dormant, while games like Dishonored 2 and Prey failing to meet sales expectations.
  • Minecraft was a one-man project that rapidly gained massive traction, its popularity peaking by 2012-13 and becoming a massive viral hit. However, the game's fame eventually grew enough to the point where gradually more people were stating It's Popular, Now It Sucks!, and by the time Notch dumped it in Microsoft's hands, the game's popularity was declining; and by 2016-17, it had sunken to a memetic punching bag that was mocked relentlessly by the internet (although primarily due to its rabid fanbase, rather than the actual quality of the game declining). However, in light of Microsoft's warmer connections to Nintendo culminating in the introduction of crossplay between the two (even a little with Sony), its still growing amount of ports, and the rise of Battle Royale Games, Minecraft came back with a vengeance in 2019, still receiving numerous updates, its player character becoming a DLC fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and even announcing a film adaptation. While it is not as astronomically popular as it was back in its first years, it is certainly slowly climbing back up and it finally became the best-selling video game of all time in May. Not that its popularity during its supposed "slump" was anything to scoff at, as it was accounted that 91 million users were playing the game monthly in mid-2018. note 
  • The reputation of localization house Working Designs has seen ups and down over the years:
    • When the studio launched in the early 90's, it acquired a loyal cult following for translating JRPGs in a time where publishers were still hesitant to bring the genre to the west and actually putting some effort in having a flowing, natural-sounding English scripts and decent voice acting in a time where good translations or acceptable voice acting were not a priority when translating video games to English.
    • By the time Working Designs closed in the early '00s, after the popularity of the JRPG genre explored and English releases became much frequent, the studio had acquired a detractor base for its habits of liberally rewriting NPC dialogue to include crude jokes and dated pop culture references and tweaking many of the game's to make them harder.
    • By the late 00s, opinions on the studio became to trend positive again, with a nostalgic concensus that Working Designs wasn't always the most professional, but that their as relative pioneers in the RPG translation field would be difficult for newcomers to appreciate.
    • And by the late 10s, opinions on Working Designs became to sour again. Beside a growing backlash against localization of Japanese media in some circles, greater awareness of regional changes in video games and the rise of sites documenting them made people much more aware of the studio's habit of messing with the difficulty and mechanics of its releases, which were often perceived as ruining the balance and difficulty curve and making the games plainly worse to play.
  • Although pogs remain a relic of not-so-distant history, through a strange sequence of events the term "pog" (or "poggers," or "poggies"), used to express excitement or triumph, sprang up among gamers and the younger generation late in The New '10s. It comes from the Twitch emote "PogChamp," which itself was copied from a video of two guys playing—you guessed it—pogs.
  • In the mid-to-late Turn of the Millennium, analog CRTs were thought to have been rendered obsolete by the arrival of flat-panel digital LCD displays in both the markets for televisions and computer monitors. People quickly rushed out to replace their CRTs with LCDs as soon as they could. However, the latter part of The New '10s saw a revival in interest in CRTs, especially among retro gamers, due to certain advantages they have over modern displays, such as non-existant input lag, and better handling of the low-resolution analog signals output by older consoles, which can look quite poor when upscaled by a digital TV. During this time many purist retro gamers began to insist that a CRT is the only proper way to experience old games, much like certain music fans insist that vinyl is the only way to appreciate music. However, the complexities in manufacturing CRTs make it unlikely that the technology will see a rebirth analogous to the vinyl revival, relegating this new spark of interest to a small number of enthusiasts tracking down used sets.

    Web Original 
  • Newgrounds, a landmark of internet comedy and animation in the late '90s and '00s, never fully adjusted to the rise of YouTube and social media. The new breed of live-action content creators and Internet celebrities seemed to leave Newgrounds, with its focus on Flash animation and games, destined for the same heap of old, forgotten websites as YTMND, eBaum's World, and MySpace, especially with the concurrent decline of Adobe Flash, the bedrock of much of the site's animation and games, in the 2010s, which wasn't supported by many tablets and smartphones. Then came 2018, when Tumblr announced a controversial crackdown on Not Safe for Work content that set off an exodus of many of that site's artists. When Newgrounds announced that it would welcome artists leaving Tumblr, many of those artists listened, delivering a surge of new blood to the site. And then there were the breakout successes of works like Friday Night Funkin', Spooky Month, and Dead Estate, which truly brought Newgrounds, especially Pico, back into relevance for a new generation.
  • By the latter half of The New '10s, Rage Comics had basically disappeared, and were widely accepted to have outright died out by the middle of the decade after being quickly and completely overtaken by "dank memes". But since late 2020 - early 2021, Trollface has been fully revived in mainstream meme circles. But unlike the previous uses that treat him more as a character, later Trollface memes largely use edited versions of him as a reaction image (such as the "Trollge"), fully lean into the Insane Troll Logic associated with the character (i.e. "Cover Yourself in Oil"), or create outright disturbing versions of him (frequently treating it as a Humanoid Abomination attempting to take over the web), fitting with the aforementioned "dank memes". These videos go into more detail. Some other characters such as Derpina occasionally pop up in modern memes as well, although most of these are usually made to deliberately harken back to the mythical era of rage comics.
  • During the early to mid-2010s, Storytime Animators were widespread on YouTube, mainly due to the relatable nature of the stories and how much life was breathed into them through animation. However, in the late 2010s, storytime animators began to be oversaturated, with many believing that most of the channels made around this time were attempting to ape off the success of Jaiden Animations and her more personal topics. Couple this with satirical spoofs of the genre from people such as Sr. Pelo and The Commentary Community, and storytime animators ended up being viewed as a joke during the late 2010s and 2020, with only TheOdd1sOut and Jaiden herself maintaining relevance, the former due to Grandfather Clause, and the latter due to her videos becoming more about video games. After the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic, however, most of the alleged copycat channels ended up going under, leaving behind only the storytime animators who actually put effort and personality into their content, such as Let Me Explain Studios, illymation, and Emirichu, leading to the genre having a reevaluation and storytime animators subsequently going through a renaissance where people began to respect them once more.

    Western Animation 
  • Western Animation as a whole has gone through this more than once.
    • From the late 1960s through the late '80s, animation's reputation in critical circles went into freefall. While animation was already declining in popularity through the '50s and much of the '60s as the medium migrated to television, the death of Walt Disney in 1966 marked a tipping point. With most of the biggest names in animation, including Disney, going through their own downturns in the '70s and '80s, the most successful animation came in the form of Merchandise-Driven Saturday morning cartoons and the Limited Animation of Hanna-Barbera and their comtemporaries. The whole period is since as a dark age for animation, and is credited as the reason why the Animation Age Ghetto even exists.note  The releases of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Little Mermaid, as well as the rise of "creator-driven" television programming in the late 80s-early 90s is seen as the return of animation as an artform.
    • While it can be aruged how much of a quality dive Western animation took during the Turn of the Millennium, it is generally agreed by animation fans and critics that a "second renaissance" began in the 2010s, as more series — even comedic ones — began experimenting more with heavy use of continuity and season- and series-spanning storylines. On the production side of things, animators had developed their skills with Flash and ToonBoom to the point where rigged puppets were starting to become indistinguishable from traditional animation, and 3D CGI television animation was now at a point where it no longer looked siginificantly worse than theatrical productions.
    • And just a closing reminder, there are reasons why we single out critical circles and put this on the YMMV tab.
  • My Little Pony, after its enormous popularity during the '80s and early '90s, faded into obscurity by the latter half of the '90s and the 2000s, remembered only as the worst sort of saccharine pap from an era in animation that already didn't have the best reputation (as noted above). In 2010, along came My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which proved to be popular among viewers of an unexpectedly wide age range to explode onto the Internet, collecting more images, comments, and views on Know Your Meme than anything else for a few years. This trend started to reverse around 2014, where the series' fandom hit its peak of activity and numbers and afterwards started to gradually decline. While it's still fairly large and active by the standards of cartoon fandoms, it's far from the sheer size and omnipresence of its early 2010s iteration.
  • While Rugrats thrived in the 1990s, the franchise had hit a snag by the 2000s. The show's quality started to decline after the show returned in 1997 (after a three-year hiatus), and the additions of Dil and Kimi to the cast were unable to breathe any new life into the scripts. While it was still popular to an extent, it had been overstepped by SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly OddParents! in popularity, and the third installment in the Rugrats movie franchise flopped, to the point that Nick gave next-to-no promotion (if even that) to the final episodes of the series. Eventually, new management took over at Nickelodeon and got into a dispute with Klasky-Csupo about the expense of their shows, and due to Rugrats not being as big as it was, it was quickly axed and faded into obscurity for the rest of the 2000s, with former fans often denying that they ever saw the series just to keep a shred of credibility. Fast forward to 2011, where Rugrats, alongside Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show, celebrated their 20th anniversary. Nickelodeon had begun showing reruns of the show early in the morning, and the creation of The 90s Are All That block has led to a new wave of interest. Due to this, the show has been fondly remembered, even included in several different parodies (Robot Chicken did a sketch spoofing how neglectful the parents are) and songs (Childish Gambino's "L.E.S"), as well as airing the show on several different Viacom related networks and blocks.note  As a result, the show is now remembered fondly, and a full-on reboot of the series premiered on Paramount+ in 2021, nearly 30 years after the original series' premiere, which would become one of Paramount+'s breakout shows, and had a strong linear launch on Nickelodeon, outperforming most of it's competition sans SpongeBob. The tipping point came when Cree Summer, who voices Susie Carmichael, won a NAAC Pimage Award for "Best Voice Acting Performance" in early 2022. It goes without saying that the Rugrats franchise is in much better shape than it was in the mid to late 2000s.
  • A similar case occurred with The Powerpuff Girls (1998): One of the most popular cartoons of the late '90s and early 2000s, until its reputation tanked hard in 2002 when The Powerpuff Girls Movie flopped and Craig McCracken left the show to make Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. However, the show regained its popularity in later years, and various adaptations in the form of one-off specials, a couple of new comic book series, and a reboot for 2016. However, the reboot was made without the involvement or blessing of the original cast or crew, and was roundly despised by critics and fans of the original. Another reboot was announced in 2022, this time with McCracken back at the helm.
  • The page's quote source is from an in-universe example of Ed, Edd n Eddy, where, in "It's Way Ed", after falling behind on the latest fads, Double D tries cheering Eddy up by pointing out that fads go in a cycle and that they'd be back in style in ten years. That episode aired in 1999, and, sure enough, ten years later, the Eds become popular in-universe with the kids at the end of the The Movie. As for the real-world, the popularity of the show resurged in meme culture in 2018 and 2019, thanks to fans discovering the sound library for the show's uniquely bizarre sound effects and the show's composer releasing some of the soundtrack, spawning a trend of humorous "[X], but Ed, Edd n' Eddy" videos.
  • Slice of Life kids' cartoons featuring plots that could conceivably happen in real life, enjoyed their heyday in the 90s, with shows such as Doug, Hey Arnold!, and the Klasky-Csupo shows (Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys), in stark contrast to the zany shenanigans seen on The Ren & Stimpy Show and its imitators (although a few "surreal" shows such as Rocko's Modern Life could be considered to be quite down-to-earth). By the end of the decade however, tastes shifted towards more outlandish themes, Denser and Wackier situations and Toilet Humour. In spite of this, slice-of-life cartoons didn't entirely go away, as demonstrated by the fact shows like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Regular Show managed to focus on the lives of their characters beneath their fantastic premises. By the mid-2010s, the likes of Johnny Test, Teen Titans Go! and Breadwinners brought upon a backlash against extreme zaniness in animation, and shows such as Clarence, We Bare Bears, Harvey Beaks and The Loud House became well-received by both kids and those who grew up on the genre's heyday, to the point Hey Arnold! finally saw the fabled Jungle Movie materialize and Rocko's Modern Life got a Netflix special depicting the main trio dealing with life in the 21st century.
  • Looney Tunes.
    • The characters were created during the 1930s and grew immensely popular during the war years, but fizzled out by The '60s due to the departure of most of its creative team from Warner Bros.note  By then, however, the original Looney Tunes shorts had been repackaged for First-Run Syndication in the case of the pre-1948 material, and Saturday morning cartoons and later prime-time specials for the post-1948 material, renewing their popularity among young people.
    • But this too died out with the rise of the Merchandise-Driven "toy shows" of the '80s. And then Tiny Toon Adventures, which is all about child Expys of the original Tunes, started a revival, culminating in Space Jam, which combined classic Looney Tunes humor with a story accessible to '90s youth thanks to the involvement of Michael Jordan. The buzz was so large that WBnote  released some of the original shorts in VHS compilations to get kids to better familiarize with the classic characters, and today the film is remembered on the Internet as a Fountain of Memes. Between the Cartoon Network's "June Bugs" marathons, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and multiple original TV shows (from focused ones like Taz-Mania and Duck Dodgers to ensembles like The Looney Tunes Show), the Looney Tunes' popularity has been on-off since then.
  • Family Guy had been immensely successful during the 2000s, but its popularity started to dip by the early 2010s, especially after the infamous "Life of Brian" stunt, and the subsequent Season 12 was heavily criticized by viewers becoming disillusioned with the show becoming more and more mean-spirited and vulgar, with the characters becoming increasingly amoral and flanderized while shock and profanity-laced humor were amped up, as did the shows' ham-fisted political commentary. The show's reputational decline soon led audiences to avoid anything with Seth MacFarlane's name on it, affecting the box office performances of A Million Ways to Die in the West and Ted 2, as well as eventually leading to the cancellation of The Cleveland Show and the Channel Hop of American Dad!. Despite still being in production, Family Guy had faded off into irrelevancy by the middle of the decade, and it was sparsely talked about in discussions surrounding adult animated shows.

    By the end of the decade, Family Guy started to garner attention again in time for its 20th anniversary, thanks to the show becoming a Fountain of Memes, the show's writers toning down its most heavily-criticized aspects (toning down the sophomoric humor, making characters more sympathetic, having a heavier focus on plots, and making a few callbacks to earlier seasons, as well as downplaying the most divisive changes), and MacFarlane gaining a newfound respect by launching a part-time musical career. This in turn made people revisit the series, gaining nostalgia for episodes made in the 2000s and early 2010s, and giving it critical acclaim for its off-the-wall zaniness and biting social commentary. The show's popularity bounce was confirmed by the end of 2020, when it was revealed that Family Guy was the most-watched show on Hulu. While not as huge as it was back in its heyday, Family Guy is in a much more steady place now, compared to where it was in the mid-2010s, and especially compared to the two other long running adult animated shows.
  • Theatrical adaptations of TV cartoons: The Care Bears movies were fairly successful but other '80s TV adaptations didn't do very well (ex: Transformers: The Movie). The underperformances of The Jetsons and DuckTales movies in the summer of 1990 likely prevented studios from greenlighting other movies based on then-popular TV cartoons.

    Several years later, Paramount had success with Beavis and Butt-Head, Rugrats, and South Park movies that all came out in a three-year period. Suddenly, it seemed every somewhat popular TV cartoon was getting a theatrical movie, some studios going so far to reformat movies originally meant to be Direct to Video to theatrical release. The only two that did very good business during this era were Pokémon: The First Movie and The Tigger Movie, while movies based on Hey Arnold!, the Oscar-nominated The Wild Thornberrys, Recess, The Powerpuff Girls (1998), VeggieTales, Digimon, Doug and critically acclaimed Teacher's Pet, as well as subsequent Pokémon, Winnie the Pooh and Rugrats films, among others, did more middling business or outright bombed. While the first two SpongeBob SquarePants movies (the first of which was greenlit at the height of this craze but not released until it had died down quite a bit, and the sequel was greenlit more to give Paramount's feature animation division an accessible and commercial first film than anything else) and The Simpsons Movie were all more successful, it doesn't seem to be enough to turn a trend just yet. Since then, only a handful of TV cartoons have gotten theatrical releases to relatively little success, with the films of shows like Phineas and Ferb, Steven Universe, We Bare Bears, and The Loud House going straight to television or streaming.

Alternative Title(s): Other