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The Roaring '20s
aka: The Roaring Twenties

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Yes, boys and girls, the 1920s actually were more or less exactly like this.

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

"The era of wonderful nonsense," as the newspaper columnist Westbrook Pegler later dubbed it. A dizzy, giddy time of petting parties, bootleg gin, jazz, and flappers. When movie tickets and coffee cost a dime, trolley rides cost a nickel (the same as hot dogs or hamburgers), newspapers cost two cents, and sliced bread was regarded as the greatest thing ever.

The setting of many an Agatha Christie mystery, this is one decade that absolutely lives up to the popular stereotypes and then some. The Great War was over and (most of) the Western world had never been so prosperous! And this prosperity meant it was time to par-tay! And none too soon, either — after four long, miserable years of trench warfare and a flu pandemic that had killed around 100 million people, just about everybody needed cheering up.

Style was almost exclusively Art Deco moderne, all minimalist lines and coolly fluid shapes. And there were plenty of additional opportunities for employing that style, in the many new consumer appliances that came on the market. Electric refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, fans, toasters, radios, phonographs, and other gadgets were sold by the millions, with installment plans allowing more people than ever to buy them. And automobiles, no longer referred to as "horseless carriages," stopped being playthings mainly used for Sunday rides and instead became a wanted everyday commodity, pretty much helped by their wartime use, the same as with "flying machines" and "air balloons" (the latter of which would, unfortunately, have a tragic end in mainstream terms late in the following decade).

In the style department, women's skirts were shorter, and so was their hair. Bobbed hair had actually emerged earlier, around 1915, and was popularized during the late 1910s out of convenience during the aforementioned Great War, as well as through the earlier 1920s. Hemlines gradually rose from ankle to calf-length during the war, and to knee-length by 1925. (You would see these styles again in the "mod" mid-1960s Carnaby Street era.) Hosiery and high heels were thus on display, and younger women sometimes rolled down the tops of their stockings and applied rouge to their knees. Despite those costumes you buy these days, most dresses were not fringednote  or figure-hugging,note  while above-the-knee hemlines were nonexistent for grown women at any time. Dresses had boxy and boyish silhouettes featuring dropped waists, and were minimally or highly decorated depending on the occasion. Since all of this was handmade, you'd pay a lot more for a fancier outfit. Tiered ruffles were also popular.note  Women's hat styles included a head-hugging shape known as a cloché (after the French word for "bell").

Characters included gangsters and G-men, flappers and their "sheiks" (sort of proto-metrosexual young males — the name comes from The Sheik), languid white movie idols, jolly black jazz singers and dancers, and lots of cheery collegiate types who wore oversized fur coats, straw hats, and wide "Oxford bags" (flared trousers) while strumming on ukuleles, dancing the Charleston, and shouting "23 skidoo!" People sat on flagpoles and swallowed live goldfish, and stunt men swung golf clubs and played tennis while standing atop airplanes in flight. The basic idea was to shock, amaze and amuse at all costs; there were apparently some women of the era who would greet their guests in the bath.

The fun and excitement were only heightened by the fact that much of it was totally illegal, at least in the USA. There Prohibition was in full swing, so gin was made in bathtubs, smuggled by the likes of Al Capone and served in 'speakeasies', hole-in-the-wall bars highly prone to raids by stolid, humourless cops, or an ambush by the eccentric Izzy and Moe prohibition agent team in disguise. Hip flasks were handy for taking your booze along for the ride, and the mixers in cocktails would take the edge off the cheap stuff. Unless you were Treasury Agent Eliot Ness or one of his elite team of incorruptible agents, The Untouchables, you needed to be extra cautious to never insult a tough-looking Italian in a sharp suit, lest you find yourself looking down the barrel of a Tommy Gun (and some of those Jewish and Irish guys were no pushovers, either).

However, this growth of the influence of modern life in urbanized northern states ran headlong into more conservative communities (especially in the south) which tried to keep modern ideas like the theory of evolution out of their schools. The state of Tennessee tried to do so with the Butler Act, which banned evolution from school curriculums. The small town of Dayton, suffering from an economic slump, took advantage of this and persuaded the local teacher, John Scopes, to be indicted under this law in order to have a big publicity trial to bring in the tourists. The plan worked perfectly, and the resulting "Monkey Trial" (as journalist and satirist H. L. Mencken famously dubbed it) proved to be one of the most dramatic and publicized of the century, with the confrontation between the noted populist leader and religious conservative William Jennings Bryan and the famed defense lawyer and noted agnostic Clarence Darrow being the highlight of the event. As it happens, the prosecution's win was never seriously in doubt, but the victory was a Pyrrhic one for religious fundamentalists, with Bryan being publicly embarrassed by Darrow's questioning that forced him to concede that a literal interpretation of the Bible was indefensible; Bryan died less than a week later. (The trial would later be immortalized, albeit with certain dramatic liberties taken, by the classic play Inherit the Wind and its subsequent film adaptations.)

Meanwhile, the African American community was finally starting to make its voice heard across the broader American culture. Many black Southerners migrated to Northern cities in the 1910s and the early part of this decade, leading to the emergence of a black middle class. Harlem, a neighborhood in upper Manhattan, was the most famous African American community, and so many of the most famous African American writers, artists, and musicians were based there that many historians call this period the Harlem Renaissance. Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and other famous black authors wrote stories that captured the African American experience and were read by millions, and Jazz started to spread throughout the country when white people realized that musicians like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington sounded really awesome. This trend would continue into the 1930s, leading to Swing and Big Band music. Such progress had its limits, though: lynchings, while declining, continued; the Ku Klux Klan enjoyed a resurgence beginning in 1915, reaching a peak in membership in 1925 before a fast decline; and although African-American dancer Josephine Baker became a big star in Paris, she faced racial hostility in America. Meanwhile, intellectuals of the community, such as W. E. B. DuBois, planted the seeds of what would eventually become the Civil Rights Movement.

Shorter work hours, coupled with higher wages and a larger part of the population working in cities paved the way for the beginning of a proper entertainment industry, which itself heralded the birth of what we call "pop culture." While the first "true" celebrities (Houdini and Chaplin) had come around in the decade before, the term itself became popular in the '20s as many personalities would become worshiped by their followers.

Silent films became an art medium of their own with classic films like The Wind (1928) and Metropolis setting new heights for screen drama and great comedians like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd gaining enormous popularity, along with such fellow movie stars as Clara Bow, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, John Gilbert and child actors Baby Peggy and Jackie Coogan. The fact that the movies didn't have sound meant that they still hadn't killed off Vaudeville or Minstrel Shows just yet, but the advent of talkies beginning with The Jazz Singer finished the job— and also killed the careers of many silent actors. Radio progressed quickly through the last of its experimental phases and was firmly established as a mass-market medium by the end of the decade (including radios in cars, brought to you by some lowly company called Motorola), also establishing what is now known as "popular music" in the process. Pro athletes also became objects of popular passion, as star slugger Babe Ruth, portentous pugilist Jack Dempsey, pigskin powerhouse Red Grange, golfing great Bobby Jones, tennis talent Bill Tilden and others became heroes for the common man. Basketball, pool and hockey also gained popularity, and bowling was a popular informal sport decades before becoming a sitcom staple.

Magazines and newspapers enjoyed a booming circulation, including plenty of tabloids (New York had the Daily News, the Mirror, and the Evening Graphic – not to say that broadsheets like the World, the American, and the Evening Journal were any too objective) to fill everybody in on sensational divorce trials in New York, graphic pictures of shootouts in Chicago, the scandalous doings of celebrities in Hollywood, and the typical tales of daring people sitting in poles for several hours. Magazines were also subject to such new ideas as investigative reporting and the digesting of articles from different magazines into a single publication. Lurid "dime novels" printed on pulp paper were also very popular. Meanwhile, ultra-low-def mechanical television enjoyed brief success with early adopters (essentially beta-testers) before getting killed off by The Great Depression by the mid-'30s. The emergence of (relatively) high-definition all-electronic TV would have to wait until another postwar prosperity boom.

This came at a time when the progressivism of The Gilded Age embodied by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson was replaced by a new conservative order led by Republican Presidents Warren G. Harding (1921–23), Calvin Coolidge (1923–29) and Herbert Hoover (1929–33), while the Democratic party became dominated by Southern conservatives. There were fears that Bolshevism might take over the world if the League of Nations consolidated or if those impish immigrants, those undesirable unions, or that pesky Pope with the protocols were to undermine the free enterprise system among other American values.

Of course, the relics of The Gay '90s and The Edwardian Era, now doughty dowagers and grumpy old Colonels, look on disapprovingly, condemning everything from short skirts and hair, to make-up and swimming wear. Of course, the "Bright Young Things" weren't really listening, and since those killjoys were among the ones who thought Prohibition and that not-so-great Great War were such good ideas, who could blame them? The new-fangled movies took a lot of the heat, as much for the off-screen antics of the stars (paging Mr. Arbuckle) as for the films' content.

Many studio execs were immigrants, Jewish/Catholic, or both, and critics charged they were intentionally corrupting America's youth with their films. Local censorship boards threatened to make life impossible for the studio bosses, who started thinking that guy who ran the Post Office might be able to help.

One should also note that while things were just swell in America, Britain and (to a lesser extent) much of Western Europe (where it was dubbed The Golden '20s across The Pond and "Années Folle"s or the "Crazy Years" in France), if you were in an area hard hit by World War I (say, Germany, Italy, Russia, Turkey or the entire Caucasus Mountains region... before the Soviets annexed it) this was not a fun time. However, it doesn't mean that they didn't try, once they were able to pull themselves together again. But in Germany, there are communist and fascist paramilitary groups who have some very grand ambitions and there will be a few people who get a chilling feeling that one loud-mouth Austrian with a tooth-brush mustache is going to be very big trouble.

America's booming wealth and newfound geopolitical importance meant that lots of American writers and intellectuals (many of them disaffected by what they saw as the country's political complacency, puritanical moralism, and empty materialism) spent most of their time in Europe during this period, soaking up Europe's old culture even as European thinkers dreamed of wiping it all clean and starting over. The contrast between "naive" Americans and "decadent" Europe set a fictional pattern which has endured nearly a century.

Soviet Russia (called USSR since 1922), after a devastating civil war, experienced a short period of economic growth thanks to the NEP (new economic policy), a series of reforms that allowed free enterprise and private property. A new Soviet bourgeoisie was born, with a penchant for over-the-top parties and a slavish fascination with American fashion, music and dance. The Soviet Nouveau Riche (typically called a nepman) was a stock character in '20s Russian satire. Rather funny, they left behind the most durable heritage in Soviet arts and design, as most Soviet architecture and industrial design from the 1920s to the 1970s was ludicrously similar to period American design.

This period lasted sometime after World War I till the Crash of 1929, or just before the New Deal of 1933, or the entire Prohibition era (1920-1933). In cultural terms however, the 20s might have started with the first jazz recording in 1917, and didn't end until 1935. Understandably, there was a great deal of nostalgia for this era starting pretty much as soon as it ended, with a lot of '30s movies (especially the gangster ones) being set during this decade, and it was often a nostalgic setting during the '40s, '50s, '60s, and well into the '70s and '80s. Actually, it has gotten to the point of people a century later still relating to this decade.

For the 1939 movie of the same name, see The Roaring Twenties (1939).

For more information about the decade see the Useful Notes page.

Also see: The Gay '90s, The Edwardian Era, The Great Depression, The '40s, The '50s, The '60s, The '70s, The '80s, The '90s, Turn of the Millennium, The New '10s, and The New '20s for more decade nostalgia.

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    Twenties Slang 

This ain't baloney, this is Serious Beeswax, as most words and phrases we use nowadays originated from this decade, so here are some examples, see?:

  • "Ab-so-lute-ly"
  • "And how!" - I agree!
  • "Applesauce" - Nonsense!
  • "Attaboy!/Attagirl!" - well done, son/lad/lass/boy/girl/kid.
  • "Baby" - sweetheart, also a respectable word.
  • "Bank's closed" - No Hugging, No Kissing
  • "Baloney" - Blatant Lies or just nonsense
  • "Bear cat" - Tsundere
  • "Beat it" or "23 skidoo" - get lost or GTFO!
  • "Bee's knees" or "Cat's meow" - an extraordinarily splendid person, idea or thing.
  • "Big cheese" - important person
  • "Big six" - The Big Guy
  • "Blind date" - dating a stranger
  • "Bootleg", "hooch" or "giggle water" - alcoholic beverage
  • "Bump off" - to kill
  • "Butt me" - I'll take a cigarette, please.
  • "Cheaters" - eyeglasses
  • "Crush" - infatuation
  • "Dick" - no, not that dick, a private investigator
  • "Doll" or "Dame" - sexy woman
  • "Double cross" - backstabbing
  • "Dogs" - shoes
  • "Drug-store cowboy" - ladies' man
  • "Dry" - any person or place favoring Prohibition. The opposite term was, of course, "wet".
  • "Dumb-bell" - stupid person
  • "Dumb Dora" - a pretty, but dim-witted girl (she may not be that dumb)
  • "Earful" - enough
  • "Egg" - big cheese living the big life.
  • "Fall Guy" - frame victim
  • "Flapper" and her "Dapper" - a young woman and her dad.
  • "Fire extinguisher" - cock blocker or chaperone
  • "Fish" - first timer in college or in prison.
  • "Fly boy" - aviator
  • "For crying out loud!" - the period's Big "OMG!"
  • "Gams" - woman's legs
  • "Gin mill" or "blind pig" - illegal liquor joint
  • "Gold Digger" - woman who marries a man for his wealth
  • "Goofy" - in love
  • "Hard-boiled" or "bimbo" - tough guy. Overlaps with "big six".
  • "Hit on a sixes" - to perform 100 percent
  • "Hoofer" - dancer
  • "Hotsy-totsy" - pleasing
  • "I/You/They is" - replacing "am" or "are"
  • "It" - sex appeal
  • "Jock" - high school/college athlete
  • "Kisser" - mouth
  • "Middle aisle" - to marry
  • "Moll" - gangster's girl
  • "Nertz" - "Aw, nuts"
  • "Nifty" - great
  • "Nix" - No!
  • "Pipe down" - shut up
  • "Putting on the Ritz" - go high style
  • "Sap" - fool
  • "See?" - essentially a Verbal Tic that comes at the end of sentences, see?
  • "See a man about a dog" - an old excuse to where he's leaving without any apparent reason
  • "Sheik" and "Sheba" - man and woman with sex appeal, respectively
  • "So's your old man" - dismissive response to a personal boast. May have first circulated among soldiers in World War I, but was more widely used in the 1920s. (The reference to it in The Music Man is anachronistic.)
  • "Spiffy" - an elegant appearance.
  • "Swell" - wonderful
  • "Tomato" - sexy woman
  • "Torpedo" - hired gun
  • "What's eating you?" - What's wrong?
  • "Whoopee!" - having a gay old time
  • "You slay me" - that's funny.


     Popular tropes 
  • '20s Bob Haircut: From the classic Irene Castle bob to Josephine Baker's boyish Eton Crop, from the sleek Louise Brooks shingle cut to the Clara Bow puff and the wavy Joan Crawford perm; different styles, same cut.
  • Art Deco in her full blossomed glory.
  • B Movies: Surged around this time as bigger budgets became more common, with the film industry ending up differentiated between larger studios such as Paramount and Universal from "Poverty Row" companies.
    • The first Exploitation Films also came out around this time, presented as "educational" fare, often presented by a "Professor" or a "Doctor". However many of them were just excuses to display more explicit content (namely nudity) than the major studios yet allowed at the time (this being the pre-Code era).
  • Banned In Boston: And the rest of America, alcoholic beverages.
  • Barely-There Swimwear: Nowadays it's an Old-Timey Bathing Suit, but it was completely daring on that era. Two-piece bathing suits (the forerunner to the bikini) were specially controversial (even though it were just the same type —better known as the "pin up" nowadays — popular through The '50s, seeing revivals of sorts in The '80s and The New '10s).
  • Blackface: Values Dissonance ahoy!
  • But Not Too White: Although fair skin was still by far the mainstream beauty standard, African-American Josephine Baker's "caramel" complexion and Coco Chanel's vacation tan made white women desire tanned skin for the first time in history.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: If you're H. P. Lovecraft.
  • Dance Sensation:
    • In prosperous times like these, dances like The Shimmy, The Charleston and The Black Bottom would set the dance floor ablaze with sensational flappers cutting the rug. The former was banned as bootleg, yet praised as a good aerobic dance; the latter two became the rage during the rest of the decade.
    • Later in the decade, following Charles Lindbergh's successful transatlantic flight in 1927, a dance craze involving swinging moves was named after him, and it was called the Lindy Hop. Much like any other dance fads of the decade, surely the Lindy Hop wouldn't last a year or two, right?
    • Josephine Baker became a dance sensation in Paris.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: With the onset of Prohibition, organized crime became rampant.
  • The Dandy: During this time, male interest in fashion became commonplace. Thus, low and soft collars, colorful shirts, wide Windsor-type ties, high-waist flares and two-button jackets were quickly adopted by "sheiks."
  • Diesel Punk: It was just starting out with Fritz Lang's Metropolis
  • Dry Crusader: To those who supported Prohibition.
  • Dumb Blonde: While the trope has older examples, the modern dumb blonde stereotype was given a huge surge in popularity via Anita Loos's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1925).
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The early years of the decade was a recovery period from war, revolutions, and a pandemic that resulted in a wide recession that lasted around mid-1921. Men's fashions at the start of the decade were a casual continuation of Edwardian styles, and women's fashions looked nothing like the popular depictions of 1920s fashions, with their baggy tunic structures, longer skirts, natural waistlines, and loose windswept hairstyles decorated with elaborate headcombs.
  • The Flapper: All women in this dance era are usually "flappers." She would typically wear a:
    • Cool Crown: Though not royalty, tiara and the feathered sequined headbands gave added glamour in the evening in the first half of the decade.
    • Petite Pride: The "washboard" look of the flappers. Special bras that flatten the chest and girdles that flatten the hips were worn to achieve the look, and necklines were square, boat, or v-shaped to deemphasize the chest.
    • Qipao: Chinese flappers (called modeng xiaojie) and socialites started to wear these high-slit, figure hugging dresses in contrast to the loose Western dresses and in reaction against the loose robes of the Qing dynasty.
    • Unconventional Wedding Dress: Downplayed with flapper brides as they still wore white on their wedding day, but much to the contention of the conservatives, the wedding dresses also followed the styles of day and evening dresses, with the hemlines were being raised, the sleeves being out, the veils being Juliet caps that resemble cloche hats and had trains that went for miles, and the bouquets being big and cascading they were impossible to carry with one hand. Even royals like the future Queen Mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon wore a flapper-esque wedding dress on her marriage to the future king George VI of Britain in 1923.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish:
    • Following the discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922, a wave of Egyptomania followed suit.
    • A minor one, at least for Chanel, are all things Russian like Cossack coats, boots, and constructivist motifs.
    • In this decade, Berlin became a cultural mecca for any budding artist whose streets and Kaffeehäuser are filled to the brim with intellectuals and writers writing off their Lost Generation woes, films filled with expressionist motifs, and art filled with abstract and deconstructive tones.
  • The Fundamentalist: Religious organizations became influential forces in many fields.
  • The Gay '90s: A nostalgic setting during the period, with many sketches poking fun at all those "Belle Époque" fashions.
  • The Generation Gap between flapper girls and their Victorian parents.
  • Genteel Interbellum Setting: A spiffy setting where parties, intrigue, and wacky situations collide, where the men wore sleek tuxedoes and the women wore loose, beaded dresses, as they dance around the Art Deco style ballrooms of scenic country houses or grand hotels.
  • Good Old Ways: The activism of the Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson eras faced a serious backlash during the era. Warren G. Harding's campaign proposed a "return to normalcy."
  • High-Class Gloves: Once the war and flu pandemic were out, and sun tanning and sleevless dresses were in, the gloves were usually off. Those who opted for gloves wore wrist length ones throught the decade, and opera length for the evenings. Nevertheless, popular media still portray flappers in opera gloves for sex appeal reasons.
  • Jive Turkey: In the decade of gangsters and flappers, slang was abound.
  • Music of the 1920s:
    • Blues: Popular throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
    • Jazz: Became universally popular thanks to the orchestras of Paul Whiteman ("The King of Jazz"), Rudy Vallee and Ted Lewis among others, while songwriters such as Cole Porter, George Gershwin and the team of Rodgers & Hart began the "Great American Songbook". Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington also became wildly popular with black and white audiences alike.
  • Old-Timey Ankle Taboo: Became really old hat when the skirts barely covered the kneecaps, and when the flaming youth poked fun of such Victorian prudery.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Perhaps the most prominent decade of the 20th century for this trope. There's the figureless beaded chemise dresses as you see on old photographs and fashion magazines, the little black dresses made by Chanel, and then there's the 1920s alternative dress, the robes de style. Popular couturiers at this era include:
    • Coco Chanel: co-pioneer of The Flapper chic, debuted her trademark No. 5 perfume and the codifier of the Little Black Dress, focused on adding ropes of pearls juxtaposed on simple and sporty cuts;
    • Jean Patou: Chanel's contemporary, also codifying The Flapper, introduced casual and sportswear in women's fashion, the first designer to put monograms on garments, the guy who shortened the hemlines to the knees, only to lengthen it back later in the decade.
    • Madeleine Vionnet: trademark includes Grecian-style draped dresses, perfected the bias-cut note  in 1922, and would become a 1930s staple.
    • Jeanne Lanvin: Designer for matching mother-daughter outfits and is the prominent user of the robes de stylenote 
    • Elsa Schiaparelli: a latecomer throughout the decade, her early collections included knitwear with fake bows and sailor collars knitted in the sweater.
  • Pretty in Mink: Dyeing furs different colors became popular, whether it was the raccoon coats worn by men, or the feather boas by women.
  • Red Scare: Thirty years Older than You Think. Russia succumbed to it, and almost all of Europe being more threatened with it, Germany the most, after the war.
  • The end of the Silent Age of film and animation.
  • Slapstick: The big three are Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton, joined by the end of the decade by Laurel and Hardy and The Marx Brothers.
  • Stepford Smiler: Thoroughly expressed by the writers of the Lost Generation such as Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, where inside the parties and the booze-drenched shell lies an empty core filled with economic downturns, depression, and wartime trauma waiting to crack.
  • Suburbia: Surged during this time as automobiles and bungalow houses became increasingly popular and affordable.
  • The New Rock & Roll: Jazz is really the Trope Maker.
  • Trope Makers: Everything we know as "popular culture" emerged at one time or another during the decade, thus making TV Tropes possible. Popular tropes that originated and/or popularized in this era are:
    • Badass in a Nice Suit: Gangsters quickly took a liking to the newly-popular double-breasted suitnote , to the point these became colloquially known as "gangster suits."
    • Charlie Chaplin Shout-Out: In 1914, Charlie Chaplin became such a huge movie star that he became the first pop culture icon, with countless references to his character the Tramp being common through the middle of the decade.
    • Crossword Puzzle: While it was invented in 1913, crosswords only recieved widespread phenomenon in every newspaper beginning in this decade, and has never stopped boggling minds in every piece of print or screen media ever since.
    • Little Black Dress: Which Chanel first designed during this period.
    • Odessa Steps: While the mass shooting during the Russian Revolution of 1905 never happened, this was the Signature Scene for The Battleship Potemkin , and it had been paid homage ever since.
    • Pom-Pom Girl: Before about 1925, all cheer squads featured only men (yup, even in "co-ed" campuses, believe it or not), but soon after some flappers decided to get in the act, and the rest its history...
    • Product Placement: While this trope is actually Older Than Dirt, it only became popular during the decade thanks to radio and movies.
    • Quirky Ukulele: The widespread proliferation of the Polynesian instrument thanks to the radio and celebrity endorsement, and its portability and ease of playing, made it go past its novelty stage, and became a staple of blithey 1920s jazz.
    • Robot: These mechanical beings were given a name after the premiere of R.U.R. in 1921, and were popularized by Metropolis in 1927.
    • Satiating Sandwich: The introduction of fast-food hamburgers by White Castle in 1921, and the invention of the pop-up toaster and of sliced bread in 1921 and 1928 respectively, has made sandwich making significantly convenient, greatly codifying this trope.
    • The Vamp: The more seductive counterpart of The Flapper, with her shadowy makeup and sultry looks, popularized by actresses Theda Bara and Gloria Swanson.
    • Women Drivers: As cars became more commonplace, and more women pursuing a more active role had little experience of driving at first, we have this trope.
  • Uncanny Valley Makeup: Not only is it dated, women's makeup was often deliberately garish, for reasons such as flappers rebelling against the taboo of "painted ladies," to help actress' eyes and mouths pop out on black and white film, or to invoke the heavy kohl of ancient Egyptians.

Works set in this time period:

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Tintin. First appeared in January, 1929. Tintin - Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (1929-1930).
  • The Necronauts comic is set during this period, and involves several celebrities of the time.
  • King Mob of The Invisibles gets to travel back in time to the Roaring Twenties.
  • The Grace Brannagh incarnation of Promethea held that role in the Twenties and Thirties.
  • An Abrafaxe arc (Mosaik No. 301-322) is set in America in 1929. Prohibition-era gangsters abound, Abrax is a G-man and Califax makes a fortune selling hotdogs, but as he invests his profits on the stock market he loses it all on Black Friday.
  • The Italian Disney series The Amazing Adventures of Fantomius-Gentleman Thief is mostly set in this period, with a few flashbacks to the period before World War I. A time travel episode also sets up for the series to not continue after The Great Depression.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animation 
  • Don Bluth's Anastasia. As the bulk in the movie takes place in Russia, this aspect is downplayed, since (as noted above) things weren't so great there at the time. Once Anya and friends arrive in Paris however, it's this trope all the way.
  • The Princess and the Frog is a particularly Troperiffic example, set in The Big Easy during Mardi Gras for added effect. Naturally most of the soundtrack is jazz-based.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Charlie Chaplin made his last couple of shorts then moved exclusively into features during this decade


    Live-Action TV 



  • Capcom's unreleased Kingpin is centered on mobsters and gangsters of this period.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 

  • The '20s was when Broadway musicals as we know them first started to become popular, led by Cole Porter (although he didn't begin to achieve success until the late 20s, and his most well-known shows - Anything Goes and Kiss Me, Kate didn't come out until the 30s and 40s, respectively). They reached a zenith in the 1930s, but many still associate Cole Porter with the Roaring 20s nonetheless.
    • To the point that The Drowsy Chaperone specifically parodied musicals from the 20s, even though many of the shows it was parodying - like the above Anything Goes - didn't come out until the 1930s.
  • The Boy Friend, and its 1971 film adaptation.
  • Cabaret is set in 1929 Berlin.
  • Mame begins prior to the Crash of '29.
  • Some Like It Hot is set at the tail end of Prohibition-era America and features speakeasies, gangsters, jazz, and plenty of tap dancing.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 

  • Alleged Whiskey is set in 1928 California, just before talking motion pictures became popular.
  • Chess Piece takes place at the near end of this decade. Of course, it being an alternate universe, some things are very, very different. Like ghosts inhabiting Antarctica, demons ruling Australia (no, really), and America being ruled by a kindly demonic-looking king.
  • Lackadaisy is a fairly accurate depiction of the era outside of presence of a cathedral radio, a few anachronistic cars (by one year), and, maybe, checkbooks. Oh yeah, and the cast being anthropomorphic felines.
  • Problem Sleuth, save for the occasional Anachronism Stew.
  • Shaderunners is based on a fantasy version of Prohibition where booze is swapped in for color.

    Western Animation 

  • At Knotts Berry Farm, the "Boardwalk" area, which now holds most of the park's thrill rides, was previously called "The Roaring 20s," a literal theme park version of the era.

Works made in (but not necessarily set during) the twenties:


    Professional Wrestling 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Roaring Twenties, Prohibition Era, The Jazz Age, Roaring20s, The Golden20s, The Roaring Twenties


yes, it's the 1920's calling.

The economy's great, and it'll probably be great forever. Just kidding.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheRoaring20s

Media sources: