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Unintentional Period Piece

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Apparently we're still using VHS tapes 3 million years in the future.

"With dated '60s references like these, we won't have much of a life in reruns!"

A work set in the Present Day at the time of its creation, but so full of the culture of the time it resembles a deliberate exaggeration of the era in a work made later.

To provide a concrete example, let's say you're changing channels and come upon a show involving two men sitting at a bar in some tropical country. One in a military-looking uniform with a hammer-and-sickle badge on the side is whispering in heavily accented English about his worries that the Berlin Wall may not last. The other man, sporting a glorious mullet, clips his absolutely gigantic cell phone to his belt before putting his hand on the other man's shoulder reassuringly.

When viewed by someone with even a shaky grasp of history, the historical period is blindingly obvious. Such a scene would have been made at the time with the focus entirely on Cold War politics, but the first thing the modern audience notices are the clunky cell phone and the mullet.


Narrow Parody is a subset of this trope. Zeerust is when a work's depiction of the future becomes dated, so all works with a far-future setting belong there, not here.

While just about every work becomes somewhat of a period piece after it becomes more than a decade old due to the characters referencing old trends, wearing out-of-style fashions and using out-of-date technology, this trope only really applies to works that wear their dates so blatantly that a viewer can identify the era or even year it was made in as soon as they begin to watch it. For example, while the 1990s sitcoms Friends and Frasier show their age in many respects, they don't wear The '90s so blatantly as to have this trope apply to them. On the flip side, a work based heavily around popular music — such as The Last Dragon or Dazzler's solo comic as a superpowered disco diva — can become painfully dated due to the rapidly changing nature of what's considered "hip".


Some jokes fall victim to this when a history lesson is essentially required to explain the joke to folks who weren't around at the time the joke was funny. While a joke about a president who is long remembered may have many years of life, a joke about a news story that isn't well-remembered 20 years later except by the people who were alive at the time or paying attention, or based on a then-popular but now long-gone ad campaign, wouldn't — inverting Don't Explain the Joke because the explanation is necessary. As the years pass, the number of people who get the joke or remember the reference shrinks until the joke becomes an artifact of the generation. Historians studying an era, however, read the joke and get a good laugh out of it still and these jokes can liven up an otherwise dullish history lesson, or amuse a group of people knowledgeable of the era, or catch your grandparent off guard: "I haven't heard that joke for years!" A "topical" work can fall victim to this if it has a premise that was Ripped from the Headlines — what was a major news story when the work was made can easily date it to its time period. A real life location may fall victim to a disaster that rapidly alters the landscape. A good example of this is any film with shots of New York City before 9/11.

Subtropes include Fashion Dissonance (when this is caused by clothing and hairstyles alone), Dewey Defeats Truman (which dates the work between the issue in question becoming relevant and it being resolved in real life) and Zeerust (when it's just the depiction of future technology that's outdated). Look for examples of Technology and Society Marching On, Aluminum Christmas Trees, and scenes that would resemble Mister Sandman Sequences if they occurred in an actual period piece. Compare with Two Decades Behind, which is when something inadvertently feels like a period piece despite having been made a good time after the period it seems to be based on, and We're Still Relevant, Dammit!, for when long-running series make blatant (and sometimes forced) references to modern culture in an attempt to seem up-to-date or to look more "hip", often resulting in one of these. Sometimes, especially when the viewer has spent too long on This Very Wiki, the very tropes in use may be recognisable of an era — such as the '90s Anti-Hero.

Note that a work being a product of its time doesn't necessarily mean it isn't relevant or entertaining to modern audiences, even notwithstanding the kitsch or nostalgia factor (as many of the examples below will demonstrate). If the work's severe datedness also makes it inaccessible to modern audiences, then you have Values Dissonance. However, this trope can overlap with Values Dissonance if an intellectual fashion was very short-lived. If a concept was new in its day but is now well-established and evolved beyond that, you're looking at "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny. If somehow the work manages to feel just as relevant today as it did then, if not more so, it's an example of Values Resonance, not this trope. Obviously, films and TV shows that were done in black-and-white, or non-high definition, as well as video games, will automatically be dated for technical reasons, but if we listed them all we'd be here all day. So it would be best to judge them more by content and plot. If the material's universal but the outfits are dated to the minute, that's Fashion Dissonance. Compare Anachronism Stew, which is one possible way to avert/subvert this. Dismissing a work simply on the basis of its "datedness" would be an Appeal to Novelty.

Important Sidenote: To avoid questionable examples, do not add a work less than 10 years old unless the situation is especially unusual. (Being completely overtaken by events by time of airing, and being called "instantly dated" by the press, have both qualified in the past.) For most works, it won't be particularly clear which ones really do bleed their production date out of every pore until roughly a decade has passed. Likewise, while works that are Older Than Radio, or even Older Than Television, technically qualify for this trope by default, they are so numerous that they will not be listed here. Therefore, this page uses the 1920s as its cutoff date.

However — also remember that while older references zing over the heads of younger consumers, newer references zing over the heads of older consumers, too. So references from modern times can sometimes be accurate, and TV Tropes does not know time.

Examples, organized by both decade and media:

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    1920s Literature 

    1920s Western Animation 
  • Most early Felix the Cat cartoons mirrored American attitudes of this era such as Prohibition era in "Felix Finds Out" (released in 1924) and "Whys and Other Whys" (released in 1927) and flappers appearing in "Felix Strikes It Rich" (released in 1923). In some cartoons, Felix performed a rendition of the Charleston which was popular in that era.


    1930s Comics 
  • The first volumes of Tintin were serialized and published weekly in the youth supplement of the Belgian Catholic newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle, and included constant references to world news and celebrities of the time (either directly or in No Celebrities Were Harmed fashion) as well as racial and political stereotypes. After World War II many of these numbers were redrawn and rewritten to erase them.

    1930s Film 
  • The 1934 film Smarty is a pretty amazing unintentional period piece from a couple of perspectives. First of all, it is wall-to-wall sex talk, non-stop double entendres, Joan Blondell getting a dress ripped off to expose her body in a negligee — all the Fanservice stamps this film dramatically as a memento of The Pre-Code Era, the 1930-34 time frame in which for a while Hollywood got very racy indeed. But beyond that, there's the central message of the film, best encapsulated in the line of dialogue "A good sock in the eye is something every woman needs at least once in her life." The movie suggests that women need to be kept in line with the occasional punch in the face. Blondell's character Vicki quite clearly likes getting punched in the face. At the end of the film, when her formerly wishy-washy husband finally hits her as he means it, her face lights up in joy. The final scene has Vicki on the couch, looking at her husband with bedroom eyes and saying "Tony — hit me again."
  • The Little Rascals, which today come off as quaint stories your grandparents might tell about being children at the time. Specifically, it's about children during The Great Depressionnote . In more than a few episodes, the children wonder where their next meal is coming from.
  • Gold Diggers of 1933 evokes The Great Depression in both its story and its songs. Justified in that the movie is very much about the difficulties of life in the Depression years.
  • Classic Universal horror movies like Dracula (1931) play their supernatural menaces with straight-faced sobriety that would never have survived an audience jaded by WWII.
  • In A Free Soul, Ace knows a terrible secret that he's blackmailing Jan with, demanding she marry him, a secret that Dwight thinks is serious enough to kill Ace over. The secret is — that Jan and Ace had sex without benefit of marriage.
  • Gabriel Over the White House could only have been made in the brief period between the Great Depression and the rise of Nazi Germany. It depicts a President who fixes America by abolishing the Constitution, creating a private police force, ascending as an absolute dictator, and forcing other nations into submission through a superior military. And all of this is treated as a good thing. Such a President then was viewed as a willful, active leader compared to the incompetent Herbert Hoover (and even Franklin D. Roosevelt voiced his support of the film). But after seeing the damage wreaked by totalitarian dictators leading to World War II, today there's no way any such a President could be shown in film again without being depicted as a tyrant.
  • The same year (1933) saw Cecil B. DeMille's This Day and Age, which depicts a group of boys taking over a small town for a day. Innocuous enough, until a gangster murders their Jewish friend. Complaining that the law won't punish the criminal, they form a mob to capture him, even torturing him over a rat pit, an action the film endorses. Then they gather around a bonfire and sing patriotic songs. Thanks to its Unfortunate Implications, the movie was banned in several European countries for "strong Fascist tendencies" and has become virtually impossible to see today. Besides the movie's fascist implications, its celebration of teenaged vigilantes also became Harsher in Hindsight after the Brooke Hart incident that same year, where a lynch mob made up mostly of college students stormed a jail where two murder suspects were held and hanged them.
  • Kitty Foyle (produced in 1940, but based on a 1939 novel) is soaked in 1930s sexism, which began to look extremely dated after America entered the war following Pearl Harbor. Kitty lives in an apartment building where men aren't even allowed to visit. Her co-workers yammer on about how all they want is a man. Her handsome doctor suitor, who is meant to be the more sympathetic choice in the Love Triangle that forms the plot, plays solitaire with her on their first "date" as a test to make sure she isn't a Gold Digger. When he sees Kitty's less attractive roommates, he says "I've seen better specimens in a glass jar."
  • The 1931 film Blonde Crazy involves a pair of con artists getting into and out of various other scams with other con artists. In one scene, the male lead's con artist buddy tries to get him to join in a Scamming the Bereaved con. The items being sold to the recently bereaved are...good luck swastikas.
  • Charlie Chan at the Olympics features Chan investigating a plot at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and features possibly the most sympathetic portrayal of Nazi police ever depicted in American film. Even just a few years later, such a plot would be unthinkable.

    1930s Literature 
  • Most of the works of John Steinbeck are set in this era and refer to it.
  • The Macbeth Murder Mystery: Published in 1937, this short story involves shout outs to William Shakespeare (Hamlet and Macbeth), Ivanhoe, Lorna Doone, and Agatha Christie most famous creation, Hercule Poirot, all of the literary works that are well known today. Even the reference to Penguin Books is still valid! But sadly, one of the most important references in this short story, Mr. Pinkerton, the detective created by David Frome, has been out of print for years, enabling this trope. A pity because a great deal of the enjoyment comes from the reader’s knowledge of this particular character, but even so, this is still now an enjoyable reading.

    1930s Music 
  • Many popular songs of the first half of the decade alluded to The Great Depression in a way that hardship will end soon. The earliest versions of Irving Berlin's 1932 song "Let's Have Another Cup O' Coffee" had the lyrics "Mr. Herbert Hoover says that now's the time to buy", in reference to the then-President (renditions following the 1932 election would replace Hoover with "Mr. Franklin Roosevelt").

    1930s Theatre 
  • The Children's Hour takes place in the 1930s (1960s in the second film) and its plot could not occur much later than that. The concept of two teachers becoming social pariahs due to allegations of being in a same-gender relationship doesn't work in modern times, where LGBT people are much more accepted. As a result, revivals depict it as a period piece.
  • The Women. The author's 1960s Setting Update of her play has been generally ignored, and revivals tend to be based on Gorgeous Period Dress.
  • A Setting Update of Of Thee I Sing reached Broadway in 1952, and flopped. Later productions have reverted to the original 1931 version, in which "the country thinks it's got depression" but it turns out that posterity (not prosperity, as President Hoover said) is just around the corner. Even educated audience members may still wonder what moratorium the chorus of reporters didn't want to know about (it was a freeze on war payments from those nations indebted to the US).
  • The plot of the 1938 musical Leave It to Me! relied on the facts that relations between the US and the USSR were relatively cordial, while their relations with Nazi Germany were not, and war in Europe, though seemingly imminent, was not yet a reality. Several of these facts changed irrevocably while the musical was in its post-Broadway tour.
  • Margin for Error, written in 1939, is tied to a rather specific point in the diplomatic history of Nazi Germany. The published script specifies the setting as "prior to September 1939," though its action would have remained mostly plausible in November when the play opened in New York. The Communist-Nazi alliance and invasion of Poland are brought up as predicted turns of events. The movie version was made after the U.S. entered World War II, which forced the plot to be framed as a flashback.
  • Face the Music (1932) begins on the joke that The Great Depression has reduced the rich and famous to eating at the Automat, with this scene leading into a Breakaway Pop Hit that includes Herbert Hoover among its optimistic references (the aforementioned "Let's Have Another Cup O' Coffee). The second act has a drinking song in ironic salute of the not-yet-repealed Eighteenth Amendment.

    1930s Western Animation 
  • The cartoons of Max and Dave Fleischer, especially when they'd have a Musical Episode featuring Cab Calloway or Louis Armstrong. Betty Boop herself, a flapper, had already become dated by the end of the 1930s. (Twenties in this case).
  • The Porky Pig cartoon "Porky's Super Service" (released in 1937) uses this trope when it shows the (at the time ridiculous) price for gas at Porky's station. A price that, today, just about everybody would kill for (ignoring inflation). Specifically, three cents per gallon before the various taxes and fees (some of which are added for comedic effect), forty-three cents per gallon after.note 


    1940s Film 
  • Anchors Aweigh was released as a morale booster for the US Navy. While WWII was clearly coming to an end in Europe, it was still raging in the Pacific where the Navy was actively engaged against the Japanese. The opening sequence of the film is clearly designed to make the nation feel good about its naval forces.
  • In some ways, The Great Dictator is actually quite ahead of its time in its satirical depiction of World War II, since it openly mocked the Nazis when the United States was still neutral. In other ways, though, it's clearly an early-1940s film, and its depiction of Nazi Germany can seem rather jarring to modern audiences. For one thing, Charlie Chaplin hadn't known the full scale of the Holocaust at the time the film was made (years later, he said if he had known, he wouldn't have made the movie at all), so he portrays the Nazis' domestic policies as much milder than they really were, i.e. the Nazi stand-ins are shown bullying and harassing the Jews, but nothing much worse than that. For another thing, he focuses much of the plot on the rivalry between Hitler and Mussolini (er..."Hynkel" and "Benzino") over the occupation of Austria, and portrays Mussolini as a seriously intimidating rival to Hitler; the dispute over the occupation of Austria was big news in 1940, but it's only remembered as a minor historical footnote today, and Fascist Italy is mostly remembered as an at-best pathetic and ineffectual ally of Nazi Germany.
  • Likewise, the Three Stooges shorts You Nazty Spy! and I'll Never Heil Again were based on pre-war conceptions of the fascists as little more than thuggish buffoons; The Stooges (who were all Jewish) were devastated when they discovered the horrifying reality underlying all of the Nazis' pompous posturing.
  • Even that era's more serious anti-Nazi films like Fritz Lang's Man Hunt took the same line. In that film, Hitler's described as a "strutting little Caesar" whose greatest named atrocity is reintroducing the death penalty to Germany, which must have seemed underwhelming to American audiences.note 
  • Confessions of a Nazi Spy, filmed in 1939 and released in 1940, portrayed the United States when it was feasible enough for even long-established German-Americans to be simultaneously loyal to both the United States and Germany that they could be seduced into spying on the former for the latter's benefit. Several of the spies in the film are members of the German-American Bund, an organization that was already under Congressional investigation by 1938 and was actually outlawed by 1942 when the US was at war with Nazi Germany.
  • Casablanca actually got knocked for this upon release by The New Yorker, which grumbled about how focusing heavily on the Nazi occupation of Morocco would quickly date the film when Morocco was freed only a few weeks before the film's initial run in Hollywood.
  • Gentleman's Agreement, a 1947 film about anti-Semitism, references several 1940s-era politicians and scandals. At the time, its topicality made it Award Bait; today, these references would send a history professor running to The Other Wiki.
  • Mission to Moscow, The North Star and Song of Russia are the three primary examples of American pro-Soviet films. Their blind optimism about the nobility of Josef Stalin and advocacy for the US and USSR to remain steadfast allies stands in stark contrast to nearly every American film made during the Cold War, in which the Soviet Union was at worst a tyrannical empire Not So Different from Nazi Germany, or a lesser evil at best. Then there's all the millions of executions and war crimes committed by Stalin that have been uncovered over the years. Needless to say, all of the films were products of the Hollywood war effort.
  • Pretty much any World War II film made while the war was still going on suffers from a lack of reference to the Holocaust, which was only discovered after Germany surrendered at the twilight of the conflict. Thus, while the Germans are still portrayed as the bad guys, it's not on much of a moral level beyond any other war movie enemy.
  • The Big Sleep was filmed in 1944 while the war was still going on and got screened for soldiers overseas — but wasn't properly released until 1946. History-savvy viewers will spot pictures of Franklin D. Roosevelt on display — who died in April 1945, being replaced by Harry S. Truman. Dead bodies are referred to as "red points", which was a common wartime phrase for meat rationing, and Philip Marlowe had a special sticker on his car to say he's contributing to the war effort and can therefore be given more than eight gallons of gasoline per week. There's also a female cab driver featured — in a time when women had taken up a lot of the jobs left vacant by men fighting overseas (see the "1940s Literature" folder below for more details).
  • "It's a Wonderful Life" is an interesting example. The present day timeline has many references to the war and how it affected daily life. However the fact that it showed “Pottersville” as being a seedy and decrepit place compared to the wholesome “Bedford Falls” actually made it out of place for 1946, and likely led to the film not being a hit at the time. Remember that in addition to having just lived through WWII Americans had spent the previous decade living through the Great Depression as well. As a result a fun place like Pottersville was much more appealing to the average American than a poor sleepy place like Bedford Falls.

    1940s Literature 
  • The Big Sleep has a number of issues with values dissonance that mark it as a product of its time:
    • Marlowe and other characters express open disgust for homosexuals. They freely use homophobic slurs like "queen" and make jokes at their expense. After getting decked by a gay man, Marlowe asserts that it didn't hurt much because gay men "have no iron in their bones." All of this would be highly unusual in today's political climate.
    • Geiger's pornography business is an underground criminal enterprise, and Marlowe is thoroughly disgusted by it. Today, porn is freely available online and more mainstream than ever.
    • Marlowe's alcoholism, to an extent. There are several times in the novel where he takes a swig either while driving or about to start driving, and neither he nor anyone else thinks anything of it.
  • Isaac Asimov's short story "History" says that Adolf Hitler died in Madagascar. It is extremely unlikely such a thing could be written before World War II, and impossible that it would be written afterward.

    1940s Music 
  • "Route 66" (made famous by Nat King Cole and Chuck Berry, among others): The title route became a lot less relevant when freeways became the next big thing in The '50s. U.S. Highway 66 was upgraded to freeway bypasses of many metropolitan areas, which were later assumed into the routes of the Interstate Highway System (mostly Interstates 40, 44, and 55). The number, by then assigned to a freeway routing that had almost no connection to the original Chicago-to-California route, was finally retired in 1985. However, many portions of the old routing are still present and contain signs or monuments honoring the route's legacy (parts of it are even signed with markers reading "Historic Route 66").
  • The song "Why Don't You Do Right" refers to the year 1922 as being "twenty years ago", mathematically placing the story in the early 1940s or so. The 1961 cover by Julie London updates the year to 1941. However, the usual approach for modern performances seems to be to embrace the period and dress up the singer as a 1940s siren.

    1940s Theatre 
  • One Touch of Venus has a few throwaway lines and walk-ons that betray the fact that it was written and produced during World War II (which figures not at all into the plot). Notably the film adaptation, made in 1948, removed these.

    1940s Western Animation 
  • Any Wartime Cartoon: As the shorts are all directly related to the then-ongoing war against the Axis. Tokio Jokio (1943) particularly stands out by depicting Admiral Yamamoto, who was killed shortly before the cartoon was released.
  • Looney Tunes shorts tend to be full of the pop culture of the decade they were made, particularly those made in the 1930s and '40s. This could also be said of episodes of Tom and Jerry, Woody Woodpecker or any number of cartoon shorts.
    • Any short directed by Tex Avery is especially full of dated and forgotten Memetic Mutations of the day.
    • The Tom and Jerry short "The Zoot Cat" deserves special mention, not only for its 1940s Fashion Dissonance but because the slang and the dances featured in it place it firmly in the 1940s.
    • The 1941 Tex Avery short "Hollywood Steps Out" bears particular mention for featuring 46 then-contemporary celebrities at a ritzy nightclub party costing $50 a plate (roughly $830 today). What was intended to poke fun at the pop culture of the time has become something of a '40s time capsule.
  • The 1946 Disney short "All the Cats Join In", with its jazz soundtrack produced by Benny Goodman, features teens partying in a malt shop, doing swing dancing as a jukebox plays.
    • Also the Donald Duck cartoon "Wide Open Spaces" showed Donald refusing to pay the expensive price (at the time) of $16 to stay at a hotel. These days, it makes Donald look really cheap, which is actually almost funnier.


    1950s Film 
  • Hysterical Red Scare films like I Married a Communist! date to a very specific point in time when the Cold War was America's biggest concern, and communists were the biggest bogeymen. After the fall of the Soviet Union, people are no longer concerned with the spread of Communism as an ethos, and in fact many people in traditionally-capitalist nations have actually embraced some of Communism's ideals.
  • Guys and Dolls (1955), in which New Yorkers go to Havana for a dinner date, got dated soon after due to the Cuban Revolution.
  • Downplayed but still present with The Movie of West Side Story, which was made (very early) in The '60s but is presumably set in 1957, which is when the play debuted. Admittedly, the Jets look and talk like a product of their time, but the much grittier Sharks look like they could be from two or three decades into the future. The dialogue, however, was fairly authentic teenage slang from the '50s — which of course makes it sound incredibly dated to modern viewers.
    • Stephen Sondheim has been quoted as saying that Arthur Laurents created original slang ("Cracko, jacko!") specifically to avoid this trope. Clearly, he failed.
  • Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? takes place in an extremely played-up version of the period in which it was made — accurately predicting how people in the future would remember the fifties.
  • Rear Window: World-traveling photographer LB Jeffries (played by James Stewart) is stuck in his apartment for weeks because of a broken leg. He can't take the boredom so he looks out his window to watch his neighbors across the courtyard. If it had been at least 5 years later he would have just watched television to pass the time, but TVs weren't in every home in 1954. Also, later advances in medicine would have required a far more severe injury than a broken leg to confine him to his home — if anything, getting out and staying active would be encouraged.note 
  • The Seven Year Itch (1955) is a time capsule of the mid-1950s due to Values Dissonance and other reasons. For starters, the entire plot is set in motion when the wives and children of New York City leave for New England to escape the summer heat, which would not be necessary just a few years later when air conditioning became more prevalent and reliable. The female characters, almost without exception, are seen wearing the high-waisted, long-skirted "New Look" style of dress that was already starting to pass out of fashion when this movie was made. The script is littered with subtle and not-so-subtle references to the popular culture of the time period, some of them bordering on (and in one case even crossing) the Celebrity Paradox: the characters going to a theater to see Creature from the Black Lagoon, a pretty blatant parody of From Here to Eternity, etc. Perhaps most striking, however, is the characters' discussion of the Marilyn character wearing nothing but a bikini for a U.S. Camera photoshoot: we are told that police had to show up at the beach to keep the crowd under control, and until we actually see the photo, the way the characters refer to it leads us to believe that The Girl had actually been posing nude.
  • A Face in the Crowd is set in a time when rock-and-roll and television were obviously new national crazes, and when TV programming was mostly produced in New York and was dependably wholesome. Also features numerous cameos by television celebrities of the era.
  • White Christmas is set in an America where nightclubs are places where people dress up, dance formally, and hear live entertainers perform what are today called standards. Those entertainers gain stardom by appearing on regular radio shows and starring in Broadway revues (variety shows). They travel from Florida to Vermont, and thence to New York, by train; once in New York, they appear on prime-time, live-broadcast, black-and-white TV, and at home the whole family gathers around to watch. And the whole plot is centered around men doing things "for an old pal from the Army" — the bond created amongst a generation by World War II.
  • Artists and Models (1955) features a US general speaking the words "We can safely predict our nation will be the first to break through the Earth's gravitational pull and establish a space station". In 1957, the USSR got to space first with Sputnik 1. In 1959, the USSR broke through the Earth's gravitational pull (i.e. reached escape velocity) first with Luna 1. In 1971, the USSR established the first space station, Salyut 1.
  • The Blue Lamp has an overpowering sense of immediately-post-war London, with children playing on bomb sites, austerity and rationing still somewhat present, slums that seemingly never left the Victorian era, a panic over juvenile delinquents who dress in sharp suits and fedoras, trolleybuses, and police cars with bells rather than sirens.

    1950s Literature 
  • A couple of Ian Fleming's James Bond stories from ca. 1959 reference the anti-Batista forces in revolutionary Cuba with some sympathy, which wouldn't be the case a year or so later.
  • Rally Round the Flag, Boys! has suburban housewives organizing committees to welcome a new Nike installation, which leads to a fight between soldiers and Greaser Delinquents. Throwaway references include a Henpecked Husband comparing trying to make a date with his wife with "like trying to get tickets to My Fair Lady."
  • John Updike's Rabbit, Run is set in 1959, and as if to hammer it home, it lingers on cultural moments like specific episodes of The Mickey Mouse Club and, among other things, spends a page and a half averting Nothing but Hits by listing every single song that comes onto the radio and ads for period products as well as the news, involving the Chinese invasion of Tibet. At the time, it seems to have been just trying to capture the banality of Rabbit's ordinary life. Reviewers also note its pre-sexual-revolution treatments of masculinity and sex.

    1950s Live-Action TV 
  • The Honeymooners, though the show was always slightly more realistic than other sitcoms around at the time.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959). Though most of its seasons were aired in the early '60s, it still comes off as '50s for the most part, with a lot of commentary on the Cold War and Red Scare in many episodes. There is of course still some Values Resonance to be found in some episodes though, so it varies from episode to episode.
  • Roger Ebert wrote that starting in the 1950s, television made it possible for pop-cultural fads to spread like wildfire and then burn out just as quickly as other, "cooler" fads replaced them. He could swear to this since he was an adolescent during that decade and watched quite a lot of TV, and he could date his childhood pop-culture phenomena — Davy Crockett, The Mickey Mouse Club, Zorro — not just to the mid-1950s, but to the exact year and sometimes to the exact month.

    1950s Music 
  • The original version of "Santa Baby" as sung by Eartha Kitt refers to a "[19]'54 convertible", changed in some covers to "I want a new..." or even "outer space convertible." In the 1960s or 1970s, it'd be closer to this trope, but 1954 isn't a particularly sought-after year for any mainstream American car since styling tended to be at an awkward stage between the flowing Art Deco of the first postwar generation and the long, low finniness of the late '50s, and wheezy old flathead engines and flaky first-generation automatic transmissions proliferated.
  • Many songs by Chuck Berry are simultaneously timeless yet also time capsules of the era, especially for automobile historians (see "Maybelline", "No Money Down", "Jaguar and Thunderbird", etc.).
  • In the Clovers' 1959 song "Love Potion Number Nine" the lyrics go: "I told her that I was a flop with chicks / I've been this way since 1956". Wow, that guy's been a flop with the girls for a looooong time...
    • The year stayed at 1956 in The Searchers cover in 1965 (which is the version often heard on oldies stations). This turns a three-year dry spell into a nine-year "I'd better step back and take a hard look at what's wrong with my life" serious problem. If anything, it makes even more sense that the guy is desperate enough to hunt down a gypsy (now considered an ethnic slur for Romani people) for a love potion.
    • Later covers of the song avert this; you can change it to 1996 or 2006 and the song's no longer dated... for a little while.
  • "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" (1951) becomes more dated as time goes on, particularly the verse which talks about what the assorted kids would like to receive. "A pair of Hopalong boots and a pistol that shoots is the wish of Barney and Ben." Setting aside the fact that very few children have been named "Barney" since the 1960s (the name "Ben", while still relatively common, is not as popular as it was at the time), a pistol would not be an appropriate Christmas gift for little boys in this day and age. Also, how many people singing the song these days even know what "Hopalong boots" are? The girls in the song don't fare much better, since "dolls that will talk and will go for a walk" have long since ceased to be impressive. At least the line about "Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again" is still pretty relevant...
  • The R&B song "Kansas City" mentions the 12th Street and Vine intersection which no longer exists in that city due to redevelopment. In its place is a park with a commemorative plaque and parking spaces painted like piano keys.
  • While Tom Lehrer's "We'll All Go Together When We Go" is full of some (depressingly) timeless gallows humour of everyone dying simultaneously during a nuclear war, what marks it out as being a 50s song is the line that we'll all become "nearly three billion hunks of well-done steak". Someone living in an era where there are more than seven billion will be surprised that, yes, the world population only hit three billion in 1960.
    • Also he refers to "every Hottentot and every Eskimo". Neither name is used today (the preferred terms are Khoi or San for the first and Inuit and Yupik for the second) and both have enough racist baggage that they're not used today.

    1950s Theatre 
  • Bells Are Ringing necessarily takes place before the rise of answering machines, which had already begun in the 1960s. It has a subplot involving fake orders placed in bulk for recordings of classical music in "all three speeds" (33, 45 and 78 RPM, the latter of which died out around 1958). There's also a List Song rattling off the names of 1950s celebrities (which, like a number of similar songs from Cole Porter musicals, had a few lines revised during the original Broadway run).
  • Damn Yankees. Most obviously, the protagonist roots for and then plays for the original Washington Senators, which moved after 1960 to become the Minnesota Twins.
  • Flower Drum Song lays on the 1950s slang and fashions in music and dress a bit heavily. Immigration quotas complicate the love plot, which is resolved with the help of a TV western. The lyrics to "Chop Suey" are a laundry list of people and things popular in America at the time. Notably, the film adaptation made in 1961 changed the references to Bobby Darrin and Sandra Dee to make it seem more current.
  • Li'l Abner is vintage 1950s satire about atomic bomb testing and scientific optimism. The song lyrics allude to a fair number of advertising slogans of the time; "Progress Is The Root Of All Evil," whose title is a cross between an old proverb and a General Electric slogan, is about 1950s trends and failing to keep up with them.
  • The Most Happy Fella, despite being set in the 1920s, is commonly supposed to take place in the 1950s, when it was written. This is largely because the musical deliberately dropped the contemporary political topics of the 1924 play on which it was based, including all references to Prohibition.
  • John Osborne's plays Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer were cutting edge in their coarse language and format, depiction of working-class Englishmen and the seedier side of British culture, ushering in the "Angry Young Man" era in British literature. They have a much more mixed reputation today, partly through "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny but also their dated topicality. Particularly true of The Entertainer, whose plot focuses on the long-defunct music hall tradition and myriad references to the Suez Crisis of 1956.

    1950s Western Animation 
  • The 1959 Merrie Melodies cartoon "The Mouse that Jack Built" (a parody of The Jack Benny Program featuring the show's cast) is chock-full of late 50s references, but one that would go over the head of people who don't know one World War from the othernote  is when Jack is speaking to Ed, the vault guard, who has evidently been in there a long time by the 1959 date that is assumed. Jack assumes Ed means World War II (which had been over for 14 years by this time), but then Ed drops a reference from World War I.
    Ed: Halt! Who goes there?
    Jack: It's me, Ed.
    Ed: Oh, hello, Mr. Benny. How are things on the outside? We win the war yet?
    Jack: Oh, uh... yes. Yes, we did.
    Ed: That's good. What do you think they'll do with the Kaiser?
  • 1955's One Froggy Evening revolves around a construction worker, trying to strike it rich by demonstrating the singing and dancing of Michigan J. Frog, being unable to prove said frog actually sings and dances because it refuses to do so in the presence of anyone else — a plot which only really works in a time period where home movie cameras to simply record this routine were expensive, difficult to use, and required extensive setup. If the short were made even just a decade or so later, it would need to go out of its way to explain why the construction worker couldn't resolve the plot in two minutes by taking the frog home and recording it on a cheaper and more user-friendly Super 8 camera, to say nothing of the plot being resolved in twenty seconds with a smartphone if it took place in the modern day. Especially apparent when the final scene takes place in the far future but ends up looking pretty dated, not only by its very '50s vision of the future, but also by ending on the implication that the cycle will repeat with a new victim, rather than an implication of him simply recording the routine and becoming rich. Tellingly, the 1995 sequel had to have all of the scenes where the frog got other people in trouble like this be actual period pieces (the Stone Age, Roman times, and The American Revolutionnote ) for the "curse" to keep working.


    1960s Comics 
  • The Franco-Belgian comic Achille Talon (also known as Walter Melon) was written in the '60s and finished in the '90s. The comic was mainly a gag strip with a main character that had an unclear mind and encyclopedic knowledge. Pretty much 90% of the jokes in those comics would barely even work well (unless you can still laugh with jokes about people that mock old cars that have cars themselves that scream the 1960s). The dialogue is also unbelievably dated, not helped by the fact that the comic used a complex vocabulary for its time (the Spanish translator of the comic had to come up with a new joke whenever the original joke didn't translate well into Spanish) and a lot of neologisms that don't catch on with modern viewers.
  • In The Beaver Patrol , another Franco-Belgian comic, the 5 main characters are invited by the Iranian government for a vacation. This story (published in two parts entitled The Haunted Bus and The Ghost) was written in 1967 and 1969, at a time Iran was still on friendly terms with the West. The Iranians were portrayed in a positive light, while the Kurds were portrayed as savage raiders. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and 9/11, those portrayals would be reversed in Western media.
  • The Hungarian gag strip Jucika that ran from 1959 to 1970 referenced cultural phenomena of the time, like supply shortages following the 1956 revolution, crummy infrastructure, life under the oddities of "Goulash Communism", vintage technology, Yuri Gagarin, and the comic's eroticism and Fanservice in general don't feel special compared to the off-the-wall adult cartoons published later. A Hungarian exhibit about fashion and commercialism under socialism was even titled "What Did Jucika Buy?" because her name is so firmly tied to that era. Had the creator not died so early or if another artist had taken over, the strip would likely have kept up with the changing times and looser censorship of later decades, especially since it was intended to be more explicit than the publisher at the time had allowed. Still, the comic's international popularity boost beginning from 2019 shows most strips have a timeless appeal. The artist's other ongoing cartoon, the pro-Soviet political-military satire Joe and Ivan is very much a product of its time, though.

    1960s Film 
  • The Apartment: The film is remarkably timeless for something made in the early 1960s, but a few things show their age:
    • Miss Kubelik's occupation as an elevator operator was already pretty archaic at the time, and has now become completely extinct except for very old buildings.
    • The fact that new episodes of The Untouchables are airing is a plot point; The Untouchables would air its last new episode in May 1963.
    • Bud has all of four channels to choose from when he watches television.
  • Bullitt: The police department watches in dramatic, stony silence as game-changing evidence in the case is printed by the Xerox Magnafax Telecopier, a then-revolutionary fax machine that nevertheless took minutes to send a document. You would also not find an airport even two decades later with security as lax as in the film's climax, where a character is able to carry a gun in and out of an airplane and through an airport without anyone noticing.
  • Cool Hand Luke, despite being technically set in the 1950s, instantly feels more associated with the 60s. The applicability to the Vietnam War is everywhere — especially with its anti-establishment themes, and Luke being a disaffected former soldier. The film's famous line — "what we got here is a failure to communicate" — has been interpreted as a metaphor for Vietnam. Roger Ebert felt the film was a huge product of its time.
    "The year 1967 was at the center of the Vietnam era, and Luke was against the establishment."
  • Easy Rider: The main characters receive (murderous) persecution for being counterculture bikers in the Deep South. In more modern times, "outlaw" culture has become embraced in the South, and bikers dressed like them wouldn't be seen as anything particularly noteworthy.
  • Walt Disney attempted to avert this with The Jungle Book (1967), specifically the vultures. Hence, the vultures talk like The Beatles (and are caricatures of them) but don't sing like them, as Walt felt that a bunch of Beatles expies would date the film. Instead, they sing like a barbershop quartet. Suffice it to say that a Beatles-style number would have aged far better, but considering that barbershop dates back to the early 1880s while the Beatles were still a fairly new fad, how was Walt to know that?
  • Love with the Proper Stranger: Quite progressive and un-dated in many ways, but clearly made before abortion was legalized in New York state in 1970.
  • Magical Mystery Tour, and not just because it starred the Beatles. Pretty much everything about it, from the bus painted in the most psychedelic colors possible to the fashions to the "experimental" (in reality incomprehensible) plot, screams 1960s.
  • Revolution captures the feeling of the 1960s, even though the topics in the documentary might seem old-fashioned nowadays.
  • One, Two, Three literally became a period piece during shooting — when the production started, the Berlin Wall had not been erected yet, and shooting could happen at the Brandenburg Gate. However, as filming continued, and they needed to film a chase between James Cagney's character and his companions and some East German policemen that continued over the border between East and West Berlin, East Germany very unobligingly decided to put up the Wall. The film is written and performed as if still in the pre-wall period.
  • Peeping Tom is instantly recognizable as an early '60s piece from the fashion and vibrant color palette — which resembles the notable pop art of the era. Pornography is portrayed as a secretive thing that a respectable gentleman has to whisper for when the newsagents are empty — and it's paralleled to the protagonist's voyeurism. The film technology is also state of the art for the '60s, and Mark watches his films back on a projector — showing that it was made before videotape was invented.
  • Most of the plot of the 1966 film Walk, Don't Run (actually a remake of 1943's The More the Merrier) turns on how shocking and scandalous it is for an unmarried woman to sublet a room in her apartment out to a man. When a newspaper reporter hears the tale of how Steve wound up renting a room from Catherine, he says he's going to write a juicy story about it. Then Catherine's fiancée Julius, a low-ranking diplomat, decides that Steve and Catherine have to get married in order to avoid scandal and social embarrassment and damage to Julius's career. All because Steve rented out Catherine's guest bed. It's impossible to imagine the movie being made even a few years later when the swinging 1970s were underway and nobody would have batted an eye at such a living arrangement.

    1960s Literature 
  • In the foreword to The Warriors (upon which the 1979 film is based), Sol Yurick notes that at the time the book was written, gangs had limited access to guns and cars, both of which would have considerably shortened the timeline of events (and elevated the body count).

    1960s Live Action TV 
  • The Brady Bunch bleeds its late 1960s/early 1970s origin, due to Fashion Dissonance and being a touch too conservative for the '70s proper. This is lampshaded in the Brady Bunch movies, where they have this same attitude in the 1990s.
  • Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, with the colorful sets and go-go dancers with painted-on comic messages.
  • The Banana Splits, especially during the song segments. For example, in the "San Francisco" version of Wait 'Till Tomorrow, as well as the "Pop Cop" segment (which doesn't feature the Splits), you can see various, then-current styles of cars from the time.
  • Mission: Impossible clearly dates itself by a combination of two factors: on the one hand, while the conflict with the Soviet Bloc could carry the stories into the 1980s, several episodes dealing with Nazis keep it from going later into the 1970s as concerns about Nazis plotting a fourth Reich faded from popular culture. Also, many episodes mention then-extravagant amounts of money that would be considered rather paltry in the 2010s thanks to fifty years of inflation.
    • One episode has Barney's invention of the week be a chess computer capable of winning a major tournament, which would have been incredible in the late 60s, but computer programs capable of playing chess became easily commercially available in the late 80s, and a computer program capable of besting a recognized grandmaster was demonstrated in the Deep Blue v Kasparov matches of 1997, making Barney's creation no longer wondrous.
  • Depending on the episode, Star Trek: The Original Series has this going on alongside its Zeerust. Between the color palette, the miniskirts, the Cold War Fed/Kling politics, the civil-rights-era Aesops and Chekov's Monkees hair, it comes across as some kind of Neo-'60s even when they aren't confronted with space hippies.
  • The Prisoner (1967), although how unintentional it was is debatable, and the series' influence is such that it probably shaped later perception of the '60s. Nonetheless, the show criticizes Cold War power structures (with the major implication that Number Six's captors maybe his own "side" and his retirement from spy service as a "matter of conscience"), and has an overall tone that can only be described as 'psychedelic', features very 1960s fashions (most notably Number Six's jacket, the multicoloured capes seen on a few characters, and the prevalence of lava lamps). The finale includes (without giving away too much) the music of The Beatles ("All You Need Is Love") and a character, thematically representing universal youth culture, calling everyone "dad" or "baby". Not all episodes are period pieces, however: one in particular, "The General", turned out to be quite prophetic with regards to the rise of digital culture and the Internet; it just does so involving a computer the size of a room that spits out printouts.
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. lives and dies on its Cold War setting and the oddity of a spy organization employing both American and Soviet agents. Notably, the 2015 film version didn't even try to translate the premise into the present day and is simply set in the '60s.
  • Given that Thunderbirds was made in the '60s, this was going to be inevitable. Modern British viewers may be a little miffed at the main airport being called "London Airport", unaware that back in the day, this was actually the name for Heathrow Airport before Stansted and Gatwick acquired "London" status. There are also several references to Cape Kennedy.
  • The Avengers (1960s) is the sort of TV show that could only exist in the '60s — where James Bond had just taken off and spies were cool. Second-Wave Feminism was in, resulting in sexy Action Girls like Cathy Gale, Emma Peel, and Tara King. The hairstyles and fashions of the female characters scream the 1960s, particularly Emma's Spy Catsuit. The show's tongue-in-cheek, Narm Charm tone was so heavily a product of the 60s that attempts to revive the series in the 70s failed — as did a film adaptation in 1998.
  • Car 54, Where Are You?: The theme song makes mention of the arrival of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev at New York's Idlewild Airport in September 1960; Idlewild was renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport in December 1963, and Khrushchev was removed from power in 1964.

    1960s Music 
  • The Fugs: They were once the most audacious rock band out there because they were the first to openly sing about sex, drugs, and politics. As a result, a lot of their material is nowadays heavily dated because so many imitators have come in that it lost all of what made it special in the first place. And, of course, there are many references to the Vietnam War, Kennedy, Nixon, Communism...and so on.
  • "Happy Together" by The Turtles includes the line "If I should call you up, invest a dime..." Telephone booths often cost 50 cents nowadays, and even they are becoming obsolete as cell phones are becoming more commonplace.
  • "Mustang Sally" sung by Wilson Pickett: "I bought you a brand new Mustang, 1965..."
  • "Magic Bus" by The Who manages to still sound reasonably timeless until it betrays the fact that it was written before British currency was decimalized with "Thruppence and sixpence every day just to drive to my baby".
  • The Elvis Presley song "Return to Sender" (1961) has a lyric in which the singer gets the letter returned to him stamped "no such number/no such zone". The "zone" is a reference to postal zones, a way of routing letters in large cities that was introduced in 1943 and retired in the 1960s in favor of modern-day ZIP codes.
    • If you know that ZIP actually stands/stood for "Zone Improvement Program" (which is why it's "ZIP Code," not "Zip Code"), it's still pretty clear, but most people who know that are old enough to remember zones outright.
    • "Bossa Nova Baby" has the line "Loan me a dollar and I'll buy some gas." Nowadays, $1 worth of gas might get you around the block.
  • The Beatles' "Taxman" from Revolver refers to contemporary tax rates = "One for you, nineteen for me." (a 95% supertax on earnings for British subjects in the top income bracket) and contemporary politicians — "Mr. Wilson" and "Mr. Heath" refer to Harold Wilson and Edward Heath, who were the leaders of the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, respectively.
    • "Everyone you see is full of life/It's time for tea and "Meet the Wife"." ("Meet the Wife" was a popular BBC TV sitcom of The '60s.)
    • The song "Revolution" from The White Album has the line "If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao you ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow". Back in the 1960s and 1970s, Maoism was a bit more popular and widespread among leftist youth than it is now.
    • "Back in the U.S.S.R." has "a period piece" written all over it. In addition to the obvious fact that the U.S.S.R. was disbanded in 1991, the song is written as a parody of The Beach Boys 1965 hit "California Girls", has a Chuck Berry Shout-Out (to 1959's "Back in the U.S.A.") for a title, and contains a reference to "Georgia on My Mind" (originally written in 1930, and popularized by Ray Charles in 1960).
    • "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" has since become this with increased debates on gun control worldwide since the sixties. Most glaringly, The Beatles' home country became subject to this in 1997 when the Firearms (Amendment) Act banned handguns in the United Kingdom.
  • Many believe that Phil Ochs has largely been swept under the rug due to his habit of lifting song ideas from newspaper headlines (for a great example of this, listen to "Outside of a Small Circle of Friends"). The result is that many of his references are lost in time to all but those who were alive back then (and paying close attention to the news) and young fans who are unusually savvy in regards to the events of the time. Unfortunately, the result is that Ochs remains relatively unappreciated as one of the true pioneers and innovators of the folk/protest music movement of the sixties.
    • "Love Me, I'm a Liberal" (1966) has aged rather well, being a general-purpose indictment of the Bourgeois Bohemian who claims to be all for progressive social causes, but backs out in disgust the moment those causes threaten to affect their lives or meaningfully change society and sees actual progressive rebels as immature rabble-rousers. However, by nature of having to talk about those social causes, it falls into this, referencing things like popular black entertainers of the time, the assassination of civil rights leaders, Hubert Humphrey being named Vice President, Les Crane, and the Korean War. There are more than a few attempts to update the song for more modern times—Ochs himself did one performance in 1971 where he updated a few verses, such as changing mentions of Korea to mentions of Israel.
  • A lot of Frank Zappa's works are period pieces, most blatantly with We're Only in It for the Money, which satirizes the hippie movement.
  • Scott McKenzie's One-Hit Wonder "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)", dates from a very specific time, namely the spring and summer of 1967 in San Francisco, popularly known as the "Summer of Love". Similar songs like "Let's Go To San Francisco" (The Flowerpot Men), "San Franciscan Nights" (The Animals), "California Dreamin'" (The Mamas & the Papas) have dated for the same reasons.
  • The Ventures' Christmas Album has holiday standards arranged around hooks from contemporary pop hits like "I Feel Fine", "She's Not There", and "When You Walk in the Room", making it unmistakably mid-1960s.
  • Whilst the The Beatles' original Sergeant Pepper's album (1967) is viewed today as a timeless classic, the many imitators that were rushed out by other record companies to cash in on its success have dated badly. The Rolling Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request and The Moody Blues' In Search of the Lost Chord — both intended to cash in on the mood and themes of Sergeant Pepper — today sound like pastiches of Sixties pop music with few memorable songs. Other Pepper imitations which now sound like standard products of their own decade include The Small Faces' Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake and Pink Floyd's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and The Hollies' Evolution and Butterfly note 
  • "Kay" by John Wesley Ryles, a 1968 country music song about a broken-hearted taxicab driver. Two of his customers are soldiers who tell the protagonist "how they hate that war in Vietnam". When Daryle Singletary covered the song in 2002, he changed the line to "how they won that war in Afghanistan".
  • Motown band The Marvelettes had a hit in 1962 with "Beechwood 4-5789", however telephone exchange names (like the title is) were phased out later that same decade.
  • 小林 旭  ~自動車ショー歌~ (which translate to Automobile Show Song, with the Sho-ka doubling as a Fun with Homophones, as it also means "song") is a snapshot of the car culture of '60s Japan, as it lists off a bunch of automobile brands and companies that were known among the general populace back then; many of which have since been either discontinued or have faded out entirely. Examples include Packardnote , Opelnote , and Bellettnote  Particular mention goes to the prominence of American brands and the comparative lack of German brands. This song shows just how American cars dominated the import car market in Japan. Had this song been made today, there would be a lot more mention of German brands such as BMW and Porsche as they've overtaken The Big Three in terms of its popularity in Japan since the 70s.
  • Allan Sherman:
    • Many of his songs satirized 1960s culture, some popular ("Al 'n Yetta", "Pop Hates The Beatles") and some social ("Downtown", "The Rebel"), and even the songs with broader topics tend to have passing mentions of products and politics from the era. As a result, a lot of jokes tend to get lost on modern listeners.
    • The first gift in "The Twelve Gifts of Christmas" is a Japanese transistor radio. After The '70s, transistor radios lost most and eventually all of their market shares to (in chronological order) boomboxes, Walkmans, portable CD players, MP3 players, and smartphones.
  • The 1961 song "Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)" references newsreels and color cartoons, neither of which have been regularly shown in theaters since the end of that decade.
  • "New Math" by Tom Lehrer ran into it twice over. First, new math itself faced massive backlash and was soon abandoned, so many people these days will have no idea what he's talking about. Second, he just happened to pick the one aspect of it that actually stuck around, so it's now weird as hell to hear him laying out a completely normal subtraction problem with a tone of "Isn't this silly?".

    1960s Theatre 
  • The Boys in the Band is very much a look at the self-loathing, dread and neurosis in a pre-Stonewall gay culture — especially since it hit the stage in 1968, one year before the Stonewall Rebellion. In fact, when William Friedkin adapted the play for the screen in 1970, right when gay liberation and pride were on the rise, he was excoriated for putting together a "throwback" to the days of gay shame.
  • The original version of the musical How Now, Dow Jones is filled with topical and cultural references highly specific to 1967. (These were extensively revised for the show's 2009 revival.)
    • The plot is driven around a young woman who's frustrated because her fiancé won't marry her until the Dow Jones Industrial Average rises above 1,000.note 
    • Many jokes rely on the audience being familiar with Lane Bryant (a women's clothing store popular at that time) and The Graduate.
    • One scene that requires a set, costumes, and actors that aren't used anywhere else in the production is a parody of a then-current Dreyfus Fund commercial featuring a lion emerging from the subway and moving along Wall Street.

    1960s Western Animation 
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, thanks in no small part to the bubblegum pop background music during some chase scenes (starting with the second season in 1970 — which makes this show a good candidate for the 1970s entries as well!).
  • As noted in the page quote, Rocky and Bullwinkle. Ironically, Rocky and Bullwinkle has had a much longer life in reruns — appearing in syndication through the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, on Nickelodeon in the early 1990s, and occasionally elsewhere since then — than the show poking fun at it in the page quote (Tiny Toon Adventures hasn't been seen much on TV since the late 1990s, other than a short-lived revival of reruns on The Hub in 2013). It helps that there are over 100 episodes and the rights (in the US) aren't owned by any of the big networks note  (so it's easier to negotiate syndication rights from area to area), whereas Tiny Toons has only 98 and is owned by Warner Bros., which is co-owned with the Turner networks. Rocky & Bullwinkle even had a new series debut on Amazon Prime in 2018.
    • For that matter, even the backup segments for the moose and squirrel's show have shown a much livelier afterlife through reruns and revivals than Tiny Toons. Mr. Peabody & Sherman, for instance, have had a theatrical animated film and their own spin-off animated TV series (on Netflix).
  • The Flintstones and The Jetsons, despite taking place in the past and the future respectively, have enough 1960s pop culture references that they come off as "The 1960s With Cavemen" or "The 1960s With Flying Cars".
  • Fellow animated sitcom Top Cat falls under this too from its sixties slang to the running gag of Top Cat constantly using Officer Dibble's now obsolete police phone.
  • The 1967 Looney Tunes short Daffy's Diner has Daffy using DDT to give the rubber mice he cooks a more authentic flavor. DDT would be banned in the early 1970s.
  • Frosty the Snowman begins with a scene where the group of children attend school on Christmas Eve, which was common in the United States until the mid-60s. However, the special was produced in 1969.


    2010s Anime and Manga 
  • Around the time of Barack Obama's presidency in the United States (2009-2017), a plethora of manga and anime referenced Obama or Obama-like stand-ins as bosses, mayors, leaders... and as the United States' president of the time (if set on every-day Earth), etc., usually in settings outside Japan — for example, Tiger & Bunny in 2011 and Mobile Suit Gundam 00 as mentioned in Turn of the Millennium, thus giving away the "era" they were created in. In some cases, same or similar slogans from his campaign would be included as blatant additions, such as America from Hetalia yelling "Yes we can!" in one of his character songs from the time. This occurred roughly in the range of 2008 to 2015/16, though it peaked from 2009 to 2012/13.
  • The 2013 Dream 9: Super Collaboration Special!! positions Toriko as a peer and competitor to One Piece and Dragon Ball. At the time, Toriko was being pushed as a rising star and a potential successor to internationally famous Long-Runners like Bleach and Naruto, which were beginning to wind down. Unfortunately, the special ended up basically being Toriko's last gasp in terms of notoriety; its anime adaptation was canceled a year later and the manga modestly finished out in 2016, with no sign of a spinoff, continuation, or big multimedia success to follow, and it hasn't had any luck showing up in crossovers since then. Anyone watching it today will probably wonder what this third series is, when One Piece and Dragon Ball are still very much in the public eye.
  • At one point, the characters in A Sister's All You Need talk about how manga adaptations of light novels are more popular than the novels themselves overseas. While that might have been true for the early 2010s when the novel volume this discussion occurs in was released (as light novels were notorious for not being licensed outside Japan), the mid to late part of the decade saw a massive boom in the export of light novels to foreign shores. This reference to a time before light novels became readily accessible overseas, and the sheer amount of name-dropping of other novel series that were popular at the time, places this series firmly in the early 2010s.

    2010s Film 
  • The Bling Ring. Even discounting the fact that it's Based on a True Story, the film is very much a satire of the celebrity worship and youth culture of the late 2000s that held on through the early 2010s, complete with a cameo by Paris Hilton As Herself.
  • Bullet to the Head: Jimmy's refusal to drink anything but Bulleit Bourbon, which is treated as an obscure brand, so he brings a bottle to bars and pays for a glass to drink it with. Shortly after the film's release, the brand's distribution greatly expanded, causing it to become quite common. Today, it seems a bit odd for Jimmy to be so obsessed with a mainstream brand and have such a hard time getting it.
  • The 2011 slasher parody Detention, which is crammed with jokes about Torture Porn films, fad diets, contemporary pop & indie rock, text-speak, and the wave of '90s nostalgia that was rising at the time. The opening scene is almost as much a "Mister Sandman" Sequence for 2011 as what we see later in the film for 1992, with the line "your lack of faith in the durability of Kesha is disturbing" ringing Hilarious in Hindsight given how quickly she vanished from pop culture (or a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, given precisely how and why she vanished). One of the film's subplots also involves a millennial teenage girl and her Generation X mother undergoing a "Freaky Friday" Flip, with the resulting generation gap being Played for Laughs; one scene has the mother (in her daughter's body) remarking about how her generation never had any great crises or struggles, to which the teenagers around her (thinking that she's still her daughter) respond by bringing up 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina, and the death of Heath Ledger — all historic touchstones for those who grew up during the 2000s.
  • Diamantino is a wacky genre-busting European co-production about the world's best soccer player. Not only the titular character is a sort of Affectionate Parody of Cristiano Ronaldo, but the film also deals with topics that became major concerns in Europe in the 2010s, such as the migrant crisis and populist movements pushing resentment against the EU. It also deals with topics like queer culture, and shows Diamantino instantly becoming a meme as soon as he fails the decisive penalty kick in the 2018 World Cup finale, or at least an alternative version of it.
  • The Irish film Dive was filmed in 2017 and released in 2018, but became dated immediately after its first week. The reason? The plot deals with a champion swimmer who becomes pregnant. Abortion was illegal in Ireland since the signing of the 8th Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, which gave the unborn fetus the same rights as a living human, thereby making abortion illegal, in September of 1983. That amendment was repealed exactly one week after the premiere of the film.
  • Found Footage 3D was released in 2016, but due to its long production cycle, the film inadvertently dates itself to no later than 2014 in a few ways. The plot revolves around the making of the first 3D found footage film; in real life, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension took that crown in 2015. Scott Weinberg, the journalist interviewing the cast and crew, is also stated to come from FEARnet, a website and cable network which shut down in late 2014 after being acquired by Comcastnote  and merged with the TV network Chiller. The opening crawl also explicitly establishes the Film Within a Film Spectre of Death 3D as taking place in 2014.
  • God Bless America, released in 2011, is a dark satire of late 2000s/early 2010s American culture. Among the (literal) targets of this pop-culture satire is a Pompous Political Pundit in the vein of Bill O'Reilly, a Spoiled Brat featured on a My Super Sweet Sixteen-type show, a militant fundamentalist church in the vein of the Westboro Baptists, and everybody on the set of a reality singing competition based on American Idol.
    • What makes the film even more dated is the fact that most of the aspects of American culture the film is critical of (reality TV, crude humour, spoiled teenagers, trashy talent shows, etc.) not only fell from fashion some time later, but could now be considered to largely innocuous when compared to the war-like atmosphere the U.S. underwent starting from 2015, when the rise of Donald Trump, increasing police brutality, the alt-right movement, white supremacist violence and extremist conspiracy theories like Q Anon redefined America's global image forever and left the country very violently divided.
  • One of io9's chief criticisms of the 2010 movie adaptation of Gulliver's Travels was that it was "immediately dated" to 2010. The review called it "a ferociously shameless time capsule of 2010 pop culture."
  • The New Zealand-made film The Holy Roller has sadly become this, thanks to the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.
  • The Internship, which appropriately involves an internship program at Google (while it is far from being simply a 90-minute ad for the company, it is depicted in a positive light), was released in 2013, near the end of a period marked by an absolute fascination with Silicon Valley.
  • One of the main characters in Iron Sky is a US President based on Sarah Palin, which manages to date it to the brief moment in the late '00s and early '10s when Palin was a major political figure. By the time the film was released in 2012, she was already at the tail end of her fame and was only taken seriously by her supporters; the entire joke was about how ridiculous the idea of Palin becoming President would be. Nowadays, she's barely a blip on the cultural and political radar, rendering the joke quite dated.
  • The 2015 Live-Action Adaptation of Jem and the Holograms, which updates the story of Jem to depict the protagonists' rise to fame as occurring chiefly through social media and YouTube. A common theme in many reviews was how "of the moment" the subject matter was in how it built itself entirely around its portrayal of New Media.
  • L.A. Slasher is a horror-comedy parodying the celebrity culture of the late 2000s and early 2010s, particularly Reality TV stars that the titular slasher killer views as having no talent or worth to society. What makes it particularly notable is the fact that, while it was released in 2015, after a long period sitting on the shelf, most of the targets of its satire (such as Teen Mom, Paris Hilton, and a young Justin Bieber) had already ceased to be relevant by the time it was filmed... in 2012.
  • The Nut Job also dated itself right out of the gate by using "Gangnam Style" (complete with an animated PSY in the credits!) nearly two years after the song's heyday (the movie came out in January 2014).
  • Pitch Perfect, released in 2012, showcased the emergence of what would be eventually termed as "pop feminism", from its theme of empowerment to the "anti-rape whistle" joke, while the antagonists are the stereotypical 2000s-era fratboys.
  • Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, a feature-length parody of Justin Bieber and early-mid 2010s pop culture in general. Many of its protagonist Connor's tribulations are exaggerated versions of real things that Bieber did during that time that helped make him a tabloid punchline. There are also jokes about smart devices, hoverboards, Macklemore's "Same Love", the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, and Apple's heavy-handed promotion of U2's 2014 album Songs of Innocence, while Connor's girlfriend Ashley Wednesday is the star of a film franchise adapted from a series of dystopian YA novels. Unfortunately for the film, things had changed enough by the time of its premiere to make it look irrelevant.
  • Carrying on from Seltzer and Friedberg's past parody films in the latter half of the 2000s, their 2013 film The Starving Games is basically "Early 2010s: The Movie", which, apart from The Hunger Games (the source material that's the most obvious being primarily parodied in the film), features references to: Angry Birds, The Annoying Orange, Avatar, Captain America: The First Avenger, Downton Abbey, Fruit Ninja, "Gangnam Style", Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Iron Man 2, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Expendables 2, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and Thor.
  • Scream 4. Just as the original films were a reaction to the slasher movies of the prior decade (see 1990s Film), so was this one a reaction to the remake and Torture Porn trends of the 2000s, with an appropriately updated set of "rules" for modern horror movies. Said trends largely died out not long after its release, with the 2010s witnessing a "horror renaissance" with a slew of films that broke Out of the Ghetto and won critical acclaim. The killers film their massacre and plan to upload it to the internet, anticipating the online video boom of the 2010s... but they do so with webcams and digital cameras that have to be edited later as opposed to live streaming (a technology that, in real life, was used for a number of infamous spree killings). Social media is name-dropped, but only as something that teenagers use, when just five years later, Sidney would likely be using it heavily to promote her book. And in keeping with the series' postmodernism, it also happens In-Universe, with the Film Within a Film Stab 6 featuring Ghostface taunting two victims through Facebook. One of the people watching it remarks that it sounds like a stupid attempt by some hack writer to keep the series "hip", causing the other to reply "I guess now it would be Twitter."
  • With all the tumult and controversy Facebook has found itself in during the latter half of The New '10s, the drama of The Social Network (2010) seems quite quaint. Screwing over a business partner ain’t got nothing on selling ads for an American presidential election to Russians in rubles or the United Nations accusing you of being complicit in the genocide of the Rohingya minority group in Myanmar. This quote in particular, regarding Mark's side purpose for creating the site (getting laid), is oddly prophetic as well considering the deconstruction of the stereotypical "nice guy", which would become an insult in ensuing years:
    Erica: You are probably going to be a very successful computer person. But you're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a nerd. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won't be true. It'll be because you're an asshole.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming: Peter's classmates, and Peter himself, are shown making use of drones, which were a fad in the late 2010s that quickly died down after legislation shut down their usage in public spaces. Though modernising Peter's story to represent the youth of today is a generally common part of his mythos, this in particular stands out as one that doesn't age well simply because it looks dated only a few years later.
  • Spring Breakers, much like the aforementioned The Bling Ring, is a satirical take on the party-hard pop culture of the late 2000s and very early 2010s. James Franco's character in particular, a Pretty Fly for a White Guy rapper/drug dealer, is a distillation of every Glam Rap stereotype of the era, specifically towards Houston rapper Riff Raff.
  • The Eddie Murphy comedy film A Thousand Words was made in 2008 but released in 2012. It featured flip phone product placement, the novel The Shack was referred to as a hot trend when it was already five years old by the time the movie came out, and the protagonist was a wealthy literary agent whose job would not exist in an e-book era. Many critics used the phrase "Unintentional Period Piece" in their reviews.
  • The 2012 film version of The Three Stooges attempts to be an updating of the famous comedy team, yet also dates itself severely not only by its several instances of Cringe Comedy (including a number of Groin Attacks) but also by including the cast of Jersey Shore as themselves for much of the film. Jersey Shore would be canceled later that year.
  • Tragedy Girls is a satire of a particular type of True Crime fan that proliferated in the 2010s, the film's Villain Protagonists Sadie and McKayla being two teenage girls who are obsessed with murderers in a manner that recalls the real-life "Columbiner" communities of that era. Much of that culture died out after the Parkland shooting and the March for Our Lives in 2018, a year after this film came out, with the online true crime community (at least its more mainstream segments) coming to regard the sort of idolization being parodied here as tasteless.
  • Unfriended.
    • The original film is built around an extremely accurate depiction of social media, computer technology, and various websites as they existed in the mid-2010s. Given the rapid pace at which the internet changes, people watching the film now would likely notice how all of those things have been redesigned in various ways just a few short years after it came out.
    • The sequel Unfriended: Dark Web, meanwhile, is rooted mainly in contemporary Urban Legends about the dark web, which became notorious in the '10s as the home of a Black Market where drugs, weapons, child porn, and other illegal services can be found and purchased — and, according to the legends, where one could find live-streaming snuff films and worse.
  • Zoolander 2, much like the aforementioned A Thousand Words, was criticized as this for the previous decade when it was released in 2016. Its merciless mocking of the fashion world seen as not only mean-spirited (in spite of the fact many of the industry's leading figures joined in) but fairly dated at a time when the "supermodel culture" was experiencing a huge comeback, thanks to the rise of social media (Instagram especially) as a major self-promotion platform for models.

    2010s Jokes 

    2010s Literature 
  • Kire tries so hard to be cool and hip it ultimately falls into this trope. The main character has a Darth Vader alarm clock (it's not unusual, but it does give him a distinctive "90s kid" vibe) and a superfluous amount of "Justin Bieber is totally lame!" comments
  • The book Alice in Tumblr-Land, a modern retelling of fairy tales, which relies on the existence of Tumblr, OKCupid, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. for most of its humor. It's painfully dated to the mid-2010s and as such will fail to be relevant within a couple of years.
  • OMG Shakespeare is a series of books that attempt to modernize the works of William Shakespeare by making everything into text and text-speak. The constant use of slang and emoji will likely quickly date them to being released circa 2015.
  • The Origami Yoda series is full of early-mid 2010s pop-culture references and views. Examples include Ambiguously Gay Murky receiving homophobic bullying, the much-disliked FunTime program showing an educational parody of Gangnam Style (though to the book's credit, the characters do mention that the song came "a few years back"), and Professor FunTime's actor receiving a role in "the upcoming Star Wars movie" (meaning that the events in the book took place sometime before 2015, when The Force Awakens came out).
  • Ben Aaronovitch has lamented that the London Metropolitan Police reinvents itself so often that the meticulously researched Rivers of London books can usually be dated precisely to the year before they were published. However, because the time elapsed in the books is much shorter than the time it takes to write them, they've gradually become intentional period pieces: Lies Sleeping (2018) opens with a police report that dates the novel to 2014, and later namechecks Michelle Obama as First Lady.
  • Ernest Cline's Ready Player One, published in 2011, is set 20 Minutes into the Future but otherwise reflects much of the worldview of the late 2000s/early 2010s time period in which it was written and grew popular, most notably the prevalence of nostalgia for The '80s (it takes place largely in a virtual world rooted in its creator's '80s nostalgia) and the ascendancy of the internet and geek culture within the mainstream during that time. Of particular note is how this trope affected the book's film adaptation in 2018, by which point Silicon Valley tech companies and geek culture had been embroiled in various controversies that clouded the once unambiguously positive view that many people had of them. The resulting film (which was co-written by Cline) wound up softening the specific '80s focus of the OASIS in favor of a broader pool of pop culture references, as well as toning down some of Wade's Hollywood Nerd tendencies and giving a more morally gray take on the OASIS' Steve Jobs-esque creator James Halliday.
  • The Ultra Violets suffers heavily from this. The book series is bogged down by constant references to pop culture, most of which have become dated since the series' release. One notable example comes from the second book, where the villain quotes a Rihanna song when enacting their evil plan.

    2010s Live-Action TV 
  • Arrowverse: References to 2010 pop culture aside (starting from the first episode of Arrow that makes jokes about Lost) and then-president Obama, followed by the sister show The Flash (2014) featuring a Hollywood Nerd among the main cast who regularly references The Big Bang Theory), the building blocks of the shows draw inspiration from the books DC Comics were putting out at the time and the general tone DC's editorial were pushing. Arrow is a Darkerand Edgier adaptation that focuses on a Younger and Hipper Oliver Queen (as he was in the New 52), that also downplayed the Green Arrow-Black Canary romance (at-the-time, the two were broken up), and Oliver's political opinions, which are almost all gone (New 52 Green Arrow was notably uncharacteristically apolitical). The Flash similarly focusing on a Younger and Hipper Barry Allen (who was resurrected a few years prior and took lead focus away from his successor, Wally West) and has his The Flash: Rebirth backstory, while the extended Flash Family Demoted to Extra or unadapted (they were Exiled from Continuity at the time to maintain sole focus on Barry). All of this would become awkward within their own lifetimes, as DC Rebirth saw a return of Green Arrow's politics and the Arrow-Canary ship, while also seeing the return of Wally West and, later, the Flash Family. With Infinite Frontier also seeing Wally West take over the mantle of the primary Flash, the show's continued use of Barry as the lead stands somewhat as The Artifact of the time it was created as a result.
  • A funny one occurred on NCIS: Los Angeles when the subject of one episode involved Libyan government agents sent by Muammar Gaddafi killing a rebel propagandist and trying to use his identity to lure the rebel leadership into an ambush. Obviously written and filmed when the Libyan Civil War seemed (from the outside) to be deadlocked, by the time the episode aired on October 11, 2011, the rebels would be more properly called "the Libyan government", having been recognized as such internationally in September, with Gaddafi the one on the run who should be wary of ambushes (he would be captured and killed just nine days after the episode aired, on October 20). The references to The Arab Spring also clearly date the episode.
  • House of Cards (US):
    • Despite beginning in 2013, the show's portrayal of the US Congress was pretty clearly based on its makeup before 2010. Francis Underwood is initially portrayed as a "Blue Dog" Democratnote  from South Carolina who serves as the Majority Whip of the House of Representatives since the Democrats are the majority party in the House when the show begins. The "wave" elections of 2010 and 2014 saw virtually all the Blue Dog Democrats swept from both chambers of Congress and replaced with Tea Party Republicans, and the Democratic Party wouldn't gain control of the House again until 2018, now dominated by unabashedly left-leaning figures.
    • In general, some reviewers have argued that the show's depiction of American politics is pretty dated to the pre-Trump era. The show is known for its deeply cynical attitude towards the American Political System's "consensus politics" that followed the Cold War, generally portraying the Republican and Democratic parties as interchangeable groups of establishment figureheads who care more about money and power than about the people they're supposed to represent, and only want to maintain the status quo at all costs. That attitude quickly went out of fashion as the Tea Party and Occupy movements that sprung up as a reaction to "neocons" and "neolibs" gained political influence and became finally obliterated after Donald Trump's highly controversial election and presidency brought political polarization to new heights and led to a new wave of active political engagement on both sides of the aisle.
    • The presidential election in the middle of the fifth season (released in 2017) firmly weds it to the previous year's real-life presidential election, with the fictional FBI director stating that the bureau "would never involve itself in a presidential election" while all but staring to the camera.
    • Walker's resignation at the end of season 2 while facing impeachment over a minor crime would be a hard sell after Donald Trump's impeachment in 2019, which failed to remove him from office. Most people would think "Walker would never be impeached for such a small crime" (or at least "There's no way he would voluntarily resign") given the nature of the allegations against Trump, and the fact that his own party ultimately stood by him.
  • In season 2 of The Middle, Frankie obsesses over the "Royal Wedding" of William and Kate, firmly fixing the episode in 2011.
  • While Broad City has a semi-gentrified aesthetic that could date it badly, there are a few moments that stand out as very 2010s:
    • In a Season 1 episode, Lincoln tells a gay character "I'm not getting married until everyone can get married", dating it to before 2015.
    • The montage in the first episode of Season 3 features Abby wearing a white and gold dress at the same time as Ilana wearing a blue and black dress, referencing the meme from early 2015.
    • A Season 3 episode shows Ilana temporarily working at Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign headquarters, instantly dating the episode to 2016.
    • A couple of episodes in Season 4 immediately date to 2017: In the first instance, Ilana gets upset when she has to remove her impractical Obama-themed nails ("It's like they're leaving office all over again!"). She then realizes in the latter episode that she hadn't been able to have an orgasm since Trump was elected. Speaking of the Donald, his name is censored every time it's spoken aloud for the entire season.
  • The pilot of Terriers has a smartphone with a sex tape on it as a MacGuffin, and the novelty of it being able to record video is repeatedly remarked upon, putting it firmly in the tail end of the 2000s/beginning of the 2010s.
  • In Warehouse 13, practically everybody's cellphone is a Blackberry, and there's a noticeable shift from using the ones with tactile switch keypads to touchscreen phones between seasons 3 and 4, firmly rooting the series in the early 2010s when Blackberry began to abandon its flagship product. There are more intentional references to the time period, like the "Got Your Six" lapel pins, Pete and Claudia's fondness of internet memes, and of course newspaper dates, but the transition from cellphones to smartphones was something the writers couldn't have planned for.
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • The Season 2 episode "Sister City" features a group of delegates from Venezuela visiting Pawnee as part of an exchange program, with the episode openly mocking Venezuela's then-President Hugo Chávez. Chávez died in office just four years after that episode aired, instantly dating it. The same episode subtly references the Venezuelan economic boom that occurred during Chavez's tenure, with the delegation frequently bragging about their town's prosperity, and showing off their wealth by spending money in frivolous ways; this instantly became dated after Venezuela's economy collapsed during Nicolás Maduro's presidency, and the country's economic hardships subsequently became the subject of many headlines.
    • In general, the show's characters and premise are a pretty good encapsulation of the social and political climate of America in the early-2010s. The cheery bureaucrat Leslie Knope is largely a poster girl for Obama-era liberalism, to the point that she keeps a portrait of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton framed in her office. Her boss Ron Swanson, meanwhile, is largely reflective of America's then-burgeoning libertarian block, which championed "small government" conservatism while supporting socially liberal policies (particularly LGBT rights). Both factions took a pretty big beating in the following years, as the libertarians were (for the moment) eclipsed by the rise of a more reactionary brand of conservative populism with the Tea Party-led 2014 midterm elections and Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, while Leslie's idol Hillary Clinton faced an unexpected challenge from the progressive movement led by Bernie Sanders and was eventually defeated by Trump in one of the biggest political upsets in American history. But this in turn has been somewhat subverted (at least for Leslie's side) as of 2020, when Leslie's other favorite politician, then-Vice President Joe Biden, ran and won against Trump, albeit with slightly more progressive policies than Obama (largely due to the influence of progressives such as Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the party platform).
  • Portlandia, as explained in this article by William Hughes of The AV Club, was firmly rooted in a period of Obama-era liberal optimism, and in affectionately parodying the hipster culture of the time. Notably, the last couple of seasons wound up dealing with the growing cynicism and reactionary politics that eventually gave way to the Trump era.
  • One of the questions on QI was "what has twenty legs, five heads, and can't reach its own nuts?" Jeremy Clarkson answers "Westlife", a reference outdated enough not to get the klaxon; Jimmy Carr's answer, One Direction, does. In time, both answers will be equally outdated.
  • Scream Queens (2015)'s second season heavily dates itself to 2016. They range from the superficial — a Take That! to Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Denise dressing up as the Khaleesi for Halloween — to the major. Denise goes into a coma and wakes up asking how Hillary Clinton is doing as the first female president — as the series aired while the presidential election was going on.
  • Just as much as the original, the 2010s relaunch of Whose Line Is It Anyway? is loaded with topical references. Especially notable is a Scenes From a Hat where one scene is "Facts you wish weren't true." Ryan Stiles simply says loudly and firmly, "The news,"note , takes a bow, and Aisha instantly moves to the next scene as if no one could possibly top that.
  • Last Man Standing. Vox TV critic/reviewer Emily VanDerWerff described it as a modern-day All in the Family in how it encapsulated the Angry White Man mindset of the 2010s in the form of Tim Allen's protagonist Mike Baxter, a conservative, Archie Bunker-esque, "man's man" suburban dad who finds himself increasingly confounded by a world whose changing social mores seem to be leaving men like him behind.
  • Person of Interest, with government surveillance central to its premise, could only have come out (at least as it did) in a narrow band of years around 2011 – long enough after 9/11 for the backstory to work, but before the Edward Snowden revelations. A first-season episode feels like a Ripped from the Headlines version of the Snowden case, but predates it by over a year.
  • Silicon Valley was Mike Judge's satire of the titular tech industry hub as it existed in the 2010s, and as the decade wore on (as noted in this 2019 article by Fahrad Manjoo for The New York Times), not only did it reflect the shift in attitudes that people had towards that industry, it frequently referenced and parodied the scandals that caused that shift. When the show premiered in 2014, it presented its protagonists more or less sympathetically, as geniuses on the path to success whose lives within the cultural bubble that was Silicon Valley made them, their puffed-up egos, and their antisocial behavior merely quirky. By the time of the show's final season in 2019, when tech companies ranging from giants like Facebook and Amazon to unicorn startups like Uber and WeWork had been battered by a seemingly ceaseless tide of controversy, its tone, while still comedic, was a lot less sympathetic to its characters. Their idealistic attitude about saving the world through technology was portrayed as increasingly hollow, easily discarded, and perhaps misguided from the start, and the question was not if their start-up company Pied Piper would be successful, but when and how it would all come crashing down.
  • Glee. Though there were plenty of songs that were dated when they were performed on the show, the use of music that had just gotten big (or in some cases, music that got big from being on the show) firmly entrenches each season in the years it came out. Beyond that, the pop culture references and optimistic outlook very much reflects the Obama era surrounding it similar to Parks and Rec above.
  • An episode of the first series of Rev managed to become this between filming and broadcast. The plot of the episode revolved around Adam becoming jealous of a fellow reverend with a high media profile and trying to build one himself by appearing on The One Show (an early evening Magazine Show in the UK), with presenters Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley appearing As Themselves. Unfortunately, several months before the episode was broadcast, Chiles and Bleakley both defected to rival network ITV and were no longer presenting the show by the time it aired.

    2010s Music 
  • The Rise Against song "Make It Stop (September's Children)", which is about homophobic bullying and makes reference to a number of then-recent high-profile gay teen suicides.
  • "#SELFIE" by The Chainsmokers is ingrained with early-mid 2010s culture, with lyrics about taking selfies with Instagramnote , "Summertime Sadness", and referring to another girl as "ratchet". Todd in the Shadows, when placing the song on his list of the worst songs of 2014, used this as his justification, saying that, "There was nothing else as painfully 2014 in 2014".
  • "Gun Fight" by Sick Puppies references the American presidents Bush and Obama, which pins the song firmly from the late 2000s to early 2010s.
  • "Cost of Livin'" by Ronnie Dunn (2011) fell into this, as the hook mentions "Three dollars and some change at the pump / The cost of livin's high and goin' up", and even has an edit that says "four dollars". The song's premise of an older man pleading for a job is clearly a reflection of the zeitgeist of the Great Recession. In addition, the national US average for a gallon of gas fell into the $2.00-$2.50 range soon after.
  • "Beauty And A Beat" by Justin Bieber has the line "We gonna party like it's 3012 tonight." Three guesses when the song was made, and the first two don't count.

    2010s Video Games 
  • The Binding of Isaac is filled with references to memes of the 2000s/early 2010s, which become increasingly out of place as Rebirth's expansions continued throughout the 2010s. Rage faces are found frequently and one of the items is literally just Shoop Da Whoop (and this item also has a chance of being dropped by a miniboss that has a permanent trollface for his expression), both of which are memes that had generally fallen out of style in the Internet's eyes even when Afterbirth+ came out.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II:
    • One level is set on a luxurious floating city, with all sorts of the game's crazy-futuristic 2025 technology present both in the city's security and the player's covert military tech... and a dance floor filled with people dancing to (and later infiltrators shooting it out to) dubstep from Skrillex, something which started seeming old-hat just a few years after its 2012 release.
    • There's also both the presence of David Petraeus as the Secretary of Defense (the game releasing just three days after he resigned from his position as CIA Director) and a shot of a then-new YouTube layout that was, as it tends to be whenever actually depicted, very quickly and noticeably changed.
    • Finally, they portrayed the President as not only being female but as a clear-cut Expy of Hillary Clinton, making it clear who they thought would be the president down the line, as it was widely believed she would be the next after Obama, only for her to lose the 2016 election.note 
  • Death Road to Canada contains multiple references to Barack Obama, who was president at the time of the game's release.
    Low Wits Character: Thanks a lot zombie Obama.
  • Far Cry 3, released in 2012, features a dubstep-heavy soundtrack (especially in the "Kick the Hornet's Nest" quest, which incorporated a reggae-dubstep soundtrack to accompany burning marijuana fields with a flamethrower) and the main cast of privileged teens who could be seen as a commentary on then-sprouting "Instagram culture". The game also makes several references to Alice in Wonderland, a reflection of the Grimmification that was popular in the era.
  • Forza Horizon, released in 2012, has a rather tragic example of this that happened right from the get-go. The soundtrack features two songs from Lostprophets (namely, "Bring 'Em Down" and "We Bring an Arsenal"), something that would be unthinkable just a few months later, where frontman Ian Watkins was arrested, charged, and sentenced to 35 years in prison for child molestation.
    • On a less disturbing note regarding the soundtrack, electronic station Horizon Bass Arena is filled with brostep music that was very popular at the time, but has since fallen out of style (Bass Arena in later games switched to house music and electronica to keep current), making listening to it now feel like a product of the time.
    • Also, the DJ on the rock station makes a crack about the Mayan Doomsday when discussing Darius Flynt's success in the competition, firmly pegging the game to the early 2010s when that was the subject of a great deal of media attention.
  • Pom Gets Wi Fi is filled to the brim with memes that were popular on Tumblr in 2013, making it extremely dated to anyone who played it even a year later.
  • Kantai Collection has a few lines uttered by ship girls that make references to Japanese pop-culture of when it first came out (2013), instantly dating itself to the very year. One of the characters makes a vague reference of Waratte Iitomo, a popular TV show that aired at noon. The show ended a year after the game was released. Oops. This also counts as an Early Installment Weirdness, however, as subsequently added characters and additional lines to existing ones make little to no pop-culture references.
  • Through its numerous pop culture references, REIMAGINE :the game: can be dated from 2010 to early 2011. The references include Super Meat Boy, Lady Gaga's meat dress, Justin Bieber, Double Rainbow, Friday by Rebecca Black, 3D movies, the Tea Party, the iPad, Portal 2, Toy Story 3, Lost, Kesha, Kick-Ass, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Black Swan, Inception, the TSA scandal, the BP Oil Spill, Wikileaks, and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
  • Watch_Dogs 2 was noted for this before it even came out. Given how reliant its story is on Ripped from the Headlines references to Silicon Valley tech culture, contemporary political and cultural controversies (especially concerning the impending Presidential election), and people like Martin Shkreli and Brock Turner, it is a game that is set in, and could only have been set in, the San Francisco Bay Area in the spring/summer of 2016.
  • Saints Row: The Third, in the same vein as its predecessor was to 2008, is obviously dated to its 2011 release despite its apparent setting being much further than that (in-game hints suggest it's 2014), particularly in the music and fashion. This is especially evident in the dedicated [adult swim] radio station, which as Product Placement is obviously dated to what was big (or existent) late in 2011.
    • While several of the shows the songs come from continued running for several years afterwards (The Venture Bros. until 2018, Squidbillies) or are otherwise still relevant from reruns, the station's host is Jon from Delocated, a show that technically ended less than six months later, and several of the songs are either from or otherwise related to shows that stopped producing new episodes not too long afterwards, including:
      • "Sports" from Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, which ended in 2010.
      • A remix of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force theme — even the show itself had stopped using the theme earlier in that year after it started renaming itself with each new season until it ended in 2015.
      • Cheesburger's "Winner", owing to their composing the theme song for Superjail!, which ended in 2014.
      • Odd Future's "Anarchy", foreshadowing for Loiter Squad, which hadn't even begun airing at that point (and would go on to only air for two years before Odd Future moved on).
      • Dethklok's "The Cyborg Slayers" — while the real people masquerading as the band are still making music, the show in question ended regular seasons in 2012.
      • And DangerDOOM's "Basket Case", the most dated of all, being made in 2005 and with voice clips from a show that had stopped airing, much less producing new episodes, years before the game's release.
    • Conversely, several more recent and wildly successful shows or programming blocks, like the Toonami revival (mid-2012) or Rick and Morty (late 2013), are conspicuous in their complete absence.
  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, which came out in November 2011, takes place mostly in Syria and Yemen, which are portrayed as (relatively) stable, peaceful countries. The game was not changed in any way to reflect The Arab Spring, which began in the midst of the game's development in late 2010/early 2011 and has left both countries embroiled in conflict and civil war ever since.
  • Playstation All Stars Battle Royale is very much rooted in 2012, given the presence of a number of franchises that were major players in that era, but have declined, had major overhauls, or fallen into obscurity since then. The biggest is the reboot version of Dante, whose game underperformed significantly the following year, but similar things could be said of the heavy representation given to Infamous, Killzone, or LittleBigPlanet, none of whom fared especially well after 2012. The lack of Crash Bandicoot or Spyro the Dragon representation, which was controversial but somewhat understandable considering their respective low ebbs at the time, looks downright nonsensical after the smash success of their respective remakes. Conversely, Sir Daniel Fortesque's appearance made little sense at the time (a decently big name on the PlayStation in his day, to be sure, but his last original outing was in early 2000) but would turn out to be oddly prophetic years later.
  • Sports games are generally intentional period pieces but Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (in spite of the name, released in 2019) subverted this trope when the Tokyo Games it was to tie into got delayed to 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The International Olympic Committee announced the Games will still keep the 2020 name, keeping the game fresh for an additional year.
  • This phenomenon is largely considered to be the reason why Dikembe Mutombo's 4½ Weeks to Save the World was pulled from the Old Spice website (and effectively scrubbed from the internet, barring unofficial fan backups) after its completion. The premise of the game is that the Mayan prophecies of the world being destroyed in 2012 will come true unless former NBA player Dikembe Mutombo can stop a series of events that will bring about its fulfillment. The game is dependent on events that took place in 2012, including the then-looming U.S. fiscal cliff deadline extension, the glut of teen horror movies like Twilight, the state of Florida constantly accruing errors in the voting process during the 2012 election campaign, Kate Middleton's pregnancy and the (short-lived) closing of Hostess, complete with a character singing a mournful melody for its failure (the company would relaunch and bring its products back to shelves just weeks later).

    2010s Web Original 
  • This trope is lampshaded by Matt and Pat of Two Best Friends Play during their playthrough of Resident Evil 4. Early on Matt talks about how early previews of The Evil Within have been rather mixed during the PAX video game convention in spring 2014, and then says afterward "oh wow this is going to be weird to watch in a few years." Later when Matt brings up a then-current event of Vince McMahon having lost millions of dollars, Pat comments "wow you're really dating this video now." They even eventually make a comment on how the game manages to date itself with a line about how the word "terrorism" is "such a popular word these days" (Resident Evil 4 came out in 2005 when the War on Terror was still pretty relevant).
  • Kickassia features The Nostalgia Chick impersonating Sarah Palin in her role as Vice President of the titular microstate — which some critics derided as dated even when it was first released (in mid-2010).
  • Some Jerk with a Camera's "Sabrina Goes To Disney World" episode references specific ads that were commonly played during Fall 2013 to January 2014, such as "Towin' in a Winter Wonderland" and "Blue Shield Floating Latina Mom Head". Quite unfortunately for him, these ads were switched for new ones the same day that the episode was put up, dating it from the very start.
    • Many other of his episodes parody common aspects of the video hosting site Blip, such as the loading screen, its frequent Disneyland ads, etc, all of which are since defunct now that Blip has shut down.
  • The Onion: This article from 2013, a mocking commentary "by" Donald Trump, is centered on the notion that the then-host of The Apprentice would soon begin a rapid decline and fall out of the spotlight as he becomes a "pathetically impotent, papery husk of a once-powerful man." By the fourth anniversary of the article's publication, Trump had been inaugurated as the President of the United States — something that the authors of the article clearly never imagined. The article was irreversibly dated to the period between 2008-2015 when Trump was most famous for being a reality show host and real estate mogul, as well as his conspiracy theories surrounding Barack Obama. Technically, however, everything in the article still has the potential to become reality; just with radically different contexts surrounding Trump.
  • The Arctic Lizard, an online short story by Israeli author Etgar Keret, unfortunately, falls into this. The story on its own is well written, but the massive amount of references to concerns in 2016 immediately dates it to that year. The story takes place in a dystopian future, during Donald Trump's third term as US president, where after a war with Mexico (which leads to World War III), the government has set up a military unit composed exclusively of teenagers. While Trump did get elected and fears of war were widespread, these mostly had to do with North Korea and Russia, as after Trump's election, Mexico made it clear that they do not take him seriously at all, meaning that a war would be unnecessary. As the story progresses, it is revealed that to get children to join the army, the government set up "Destromons Go", a thinly-veiled parody of Pokémon GO (which is still popular today, but not to the same extent as when it was first released in 2016) and spawned extremely rare and powerful monsters at specific battle sites (with the titular Arctic Lizard being one that the protagonist has). As many were exasperated with the game's fanbase during its run, leading to a stereotype of the game's players being Too Dumb to Live people caring only about Pokémon, the story also contains multiple jabs towards the game, especially at the climax, where the protagonist manages to successfully finish off the second-in-command of Al Qaeda but is quickly forgotten after his unit learns that one of the other soldiers found a rare monster at the same site.
  • Homestuck tends to fall into this trope, both because the story was essentially a long conversation with its author and the audience, and because the comic itself was heavily shaped by internet culture (which changes very rapidly), with a large chunk of the story being told through online interactions between the characters. Earlier Call Backs and gags came from Hussie's writings in the early 2000s, but a good chunk of the story was written in the 2010s. As a result, many references both significant and otherwise became outdated. Whenever kids talk about Discredited Memes, they usually mention that the joke fell out of favor a few years before the start of the comic (2009). Music acts like the Insane Clown Posse are major characters or serve as inspirations for how other characters act. A character based on the mid-2010s perception of Tumblr, a segment where dialog is done in the style of Twitter posts with once-popular feed Horse_Ebooks immortalized as a steady stream of nonsense before its creator revealed it to be part of an Alternate Reality Game, a major villain based on mid-2010s urban culture (and somehow manages to use Blingee on real-life objects), and the credits told in Snapchat photos all point to the 2010-2016 era of internet shenanigans. The extremely interactive meta-narrative of the story can also point to this era, as a lot of contemporary media at this time had some sort of self-aware, Troperiffic angle to it.
  • "4chumblr" was a meme that arose from the Fandom Rivalry between 4chan and Tumblr. It featured Anthropomorphic Personifications of the sites. However, at the time Tumblr was a relatively new and niche website most well-known for its hipster and fashion blogs run by 20-somethings. While Tumblr still has a strong fashion blog fanbase, the image of the website has changed drastically. It's more associated with political, LGBT, and fandom blogs run by young teens joining those 20-somethings on the site.
  • Due to its once-per-year update schedule (normally being a Halloween special), early episodes of Hellsing Ultimate Abridged became these as time wore on, due to their reference-heavy humor. Episodes 1 to 4, in particular, tend to show off the style of humor and references that were popular in the year they were released in, with references to several properties that were popular or had a ton of attention at the time, including Twilight, Portal, Epic Meal Time, and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Takahata101 even considers the Epic Meal Time reference cringeworthy because of it, and KaiserNeko isn't a fan of their portrayal of Rip Van Winkle (a meme-spouting Attention Whore Soapbox Sadie who is essentially a giant Take That! to 2013 Tumblr), considering it to be an Old Shame. Indeed, in the marathon that aired prior to the grand finale, Taka and Kaiser both iterated that they considered Episodes 2 and 4 to be peak cringe for the series.
  • The Cinema Snob frequently derides the porn parodies produced by the Wood Rocket company (mostly made around the mid-2010s) for, among numerous other reasons, constantly invoking this trope with lots of of-the-moment jokes that age poorly. A notable example is Gnardians of the Galaxy, in which the "Drax" parody makes fun of the DC Extended Universe for not making a Wonder Woman movie — by the time of the Snob review, Wonder Woman (2017) was just weeks from release, a fact which the Snob was more than happy to snark on.
  • Bob Chipman discussed this trope in this episode of The Big Picture, dedicated to the movies, good and bad, that he felt defined and best reflected the culture of the 2010s. He brought up how "cultural decades" rarely correspond to the actual calendar years, noting how most of what pop-culture remembers as "the '60s" came during the years 1964-72, treating the first third of the decade as an extension of the 1950s while spilling over into the 1970s, and how "the '70s" were more or less over by 1978 depending on where one lived.
  • Free Spirit mostly averts this by using references to 70's and 80's pop culture to fit with the time period in which the show it adapts is set, but sometimes, then-current events are referenced to adapt the show to a modern setting:
    • "I Love Bread" references the 13 Reasons Why controversy and has Oprah Winfrey's ad for Weight Watchers as a plot device. It also mentions Cagney & Lacey airing on This TV in the middle of the night, a practice of which stopped after StartTV got the rights to the show.
    • "Robb's Not Dead" has a plot based on the Windows 10 Version 1809 update that deleted users' files.
    • "Cartoon Brew" references Butch Hartman's Noog Network streaming service and also features a parody of the Thundercats Roar controversy using the Show Within a Show Extreme Lips.

    2010s Western Animation 
  • BoJack Horseman: Each season draws heavily on the state of Hollywood at the exact time it was made. Especially noticeable is "Hank After Dark", a parody of the Bill Cosby affair that serves as a bitter condemnation of people's tendency to not care when beloved public figures are accused of sexual deviancy. Two years later, the #MeToo movement blew the lid off this kind of thing in a big way for many people.
  • The Cartoon Network MAD television show (which ran from 2010 to 2013) fell into this, since many of its parodies were of then-recent pop culture artifacts, not just popular media of the era like My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Twilight, Glee, Jersey Shore, or Avatar, but media that was forgotten more quickly by the masses like I Love You, Man, Whitney, or Hop. Its depictions of celebrities are also quite dated, making fun of Justin Bieber when he was still a teenage heartthrob and Lady Gaga when she was known for her weird outfits. It doesn't help that its acid approach to pop culture would become less popular in later years, as audiences began to hold excessively harsh assessments of fiction works as pretentious and protested any attempts to engage in such. This could be why the show was canceled in 2013, then taken off the air in 2015, and has yet to resurface even on HBO Max while its [adult swim] counterpart, Robot Chicken fared way better.
  • Due to Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling being stuck on The Shelf of Movie Languishment from 2017 to 2019, some of the references to "modern" trends were outdated by the time the film was finally released:
    • While selfie sticks are still in heavy use, they are now considered a nuisance and are even banned at Disney Theme Parks.
    • Hoverboards, which are featured in one part of the film, quickly lost popularity once they started exploding without warning.
    • The Bland-Name Product version of the iPhone that Filburt and Heffer go nuts over at the start of the movie has a ninth version, which was skipped for the iPhone X.
  • The Total Drama franchise was eventually canceled because of this trope. It was initially made as an animated parody of Survivor as well as other similar reality TV game shows at the time. However, by the middle of the 2010s, reality TV was becoming much less popular, and while Survivor is still running as of 2020, it's not as relevant to modern pop culture as it once was, thus making what Total Drama was parodying in itself outdated.
    • In a more specific example, Action (which aired in 2009) had many jokes about Courtney's personal digital assistant, a device that would become obsolete with the rise of smartphones.
  • Teen Titans Go! has referenced several pieces of pop culture that would later become outdated within months to years after being broadcast:
  • Megamind has everyone including Megamind himself use flip phones instead of smartphones. Also, a references that specifically dates the film is Megamind's "No You Can't" posters, a direct parody of Barack Obama's "Hope" poster and his "Yes We Can" slogan.
  • The first season of Animaniacs (2020) was written in 2018, and for many reasons society had already dramatically shifted during those two years. The show acknowledges this in the "Catch-up Song"; the Warner Siblings ask whether things in the real world still pertain to their 2018 script, such as whether Trump is still presidentnote , and eventually resort to making wild guesses as to what the future looks like. Despite this, there are a few pieces that slip by: the "Reboot It!" song mentions The X-Files and Murphy Brown, neither of which survived their 2018 reboots, and the segment "Gold Meddlers" was written to tie in to the 2020 Olympics, which were postponed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

    2010s Other 
  • "Sheen or Gaddafi?" was an informal trivia game where participants would try to guess whose mouth a crazy quote came out of. It was popular in the year 2011, when both men were front page news due to the former having an extremely well-publicized battle with both addiction and CBS' higher-ups and the latter engaging in very brutal attempts to suppress dissent, leading to more attention given to self-aggrandizing, delusional, and just plain bizarre statements they'd made. Nowadays, few people talk about or even remember these weird comments, and so the game has faded into obscurity.


Video Example(s):


The Falklands were invaded!

In order to cover for his live show, Krusty the Clown airs a rerun, hoping nobody will notice. Unfortunately, the episode chosen covered the Falklands War, which ended 12 years before the time of this airing.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / UnintentionalPeriodPiece

Media sources:

Main / UnintentionalPeriodPiece