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We're Still Relevant, Dammit!

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This trope is under discussion in Trope Talk.

"At only a year and a half since the event being referenced, this is the most current pop-culture reference that Archie Comics have ever made, beating out the same issue's American Idol joke by a good five years."

Suppose you've got yourself a Long Runner. And while your Long Runner hasn't really wavered in popularity, not significantly, you still want to connect with the youth of today. Perhaps you'd also like to comment on current pop-culture and political events.

Well, you'd better tread carefully or you might sound like you're just screaming, "We're Still Relevant, Dammit!"

The parent trope of both Totally Radical and Fad Super, this happens when a series that is gettin' old decides to make an attempt to stay current. Of-the-moment pop-culture references (that usually end up dated by the time the work of fiction makes its premiere) are certainly most common. Inserting or referencing memes is a common variant of this trope, especially if the meme is already way past its prime at that time the writer just decided to use it. The writers might also decide to change a character radically or create an "updated" Expy of an older character. A number of times a character has been made Darker and Edgier easily fit the bill. Another popular tactic is to make the character suddenly become a member of a newly-emerged subculture, fandom or similar group. The result, especially if the writer is not part of said subculture and doesn't do the research, is often laughably embarrassing instead of the bold new direction for which the producers were hoping.


This often heralds the beginning of a Dork Age. Can very often result in an Unintentional Period Piece since "current events" are usually short-lived, and worse if the older parts of the franchise that didn't try this still look fresh. Due to Animation Lead Time this can be especially common in animated works, as a long production time means you may miss the relevance window by a number of years.

See also Popularity Polynomial, Mascot with Attitude, Discredited Meme, Follow the Leader, Two Decades Behind, Long-Runner Tech Marches On, Future Society, Present Values, Jumping the Shark, Network Decay, Magazine Decay, Jive Turkey, Pretty Fly for a White Guy, and more than a few Scrappies and cases of Misaimed Marketing. Contrast Growing with the Audience. Its inversions are Disco Dan, Anyone Remember Pogs?, and "Mister Sandman" Sequence, which are dated references to show how something isn't hip and modern (or in the former two's cases, irrelevant).


Tropes Are Tools aside, this is usually a kind of writing pitfall, especially if you're a TV or movie writer trying to make your current long-running show more hip or trying to revive a long-dead franchise for a new generation. On the other hand, sometimes it works, and, if the alternative is leaving your story looking decades out-of-date... The trick is to update the right things, update them the right way, and leave the timeless things that people liked about the franchise in the first place alone.

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  • Daniel Faraday would like to remind you that Subaru cars are "like punk rock." Do not question his logic!
  • Parodied and deconstructed in a 1993 Smokey the Bear Public Service Announcement. The PSA starts out with him doing a Piss Take Rap, but he calls it off midway through because this sort of pandering to the younger demographic just isn't his style.
  • In 2012, Chuck E. Cheese's radically redesigned Chuck E. Cheese, giving him a design like something out of Alvin and the Chipmunks and making him play the electric guitar as he sings Bowling for Soup songsnote . This did not get positive reactions. In fairness, though, the previous Tony Hawk-wannabe look he'd been sporting for around 15 years wasn't any less pandering.
  • Between 2013 and 2014, Honey Nut Cheerios has an ad out where they do a Cheerio-themed parody/cover of a song that came out twelve years ago ("Ride Wit' Me" by Nelly), with random dubstep breakdown. Other commercials include Buzz talking to Grumpy Cat and asking Usher for tips on being hip.
  • During its late-80s slump, Oldsmobile ran a decidedly unsubtle "Not Your Father's Oldsmobile" campaign with its 1988 Cutlass Supreme, attempting to market the popular Cutlass line to "the New Generation of Olds" in the hopes of expanding its customer base. One advert even had Melanie Shatner behind of the wheel of the Cutlass with her father and Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner in the passenger seat. This campaign backfired spectacularly, failing to entice younger buyers while also alienating Oldsmobile's loyal customer base by undermining its own history of innovation and reliability. Despite its sturdy build, the Cutlass failed to sell in the numbers needed to break even and the botched campaign is often blamed for hastening Oldsmobile's decline until it liquidated in 2004.
  • Kmart's "giffing out" commercials during the 2013 holiday season. Inhabitants of the Internet are quick to point out that real gifs don't have any sound as they're simply 256-color image files with animation support. And they're not limited to a single second of animation, either.
  • The Progressive advertisements in which Flo turns herself into an Image Macro smack of some middle-aged marketing executive trying to "get down with" the hip Internet-using early-20s demographic.
  • The Satur-Yay-Aaah!! (no, that's not a typo) commercials from General Mills, featuring the Trix Rabbit, Chip the Wolf, Sonny the Cocoa Puffs Bird, a talking orange voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson, a kid voiced by Jeremy Shada (a.k.f. Finn the Human), and...Honey the Honey Drop, who hasn't been in a commercial since The '80s. The commercials feature, among other things, an extremely sporadic and out-of-place Wreck-It Ralph reference, and artstyles, sets and language that are clearly trying to emulate Regular Show and Adventure Time, but in the end, resemble Breadwinners more than anything.
  • Speaking of cereal commercials trying to emulate animated productions of the 2010s, Lucky Charms redesigned their ads in 2016 to resemble the squishy colorful style of shows like Adventure Time and Uncle Grandpa, where Lucky appears more childlike (without his Gaelic accent) and has parties with the anthropomorphized charms. One commercial had them sing the "hearts, stars, and horseshoes..." theme song as a half-hearted rap. The change went over about as well as the "Satur-Yay-Aaaah" ad, so later ads featured a Lucky more reminiscent of the older design, with his old accent back.
  • Restaurant chain Wendy's had this commercial for reactions from eating their Jalapeno Fresco Spicy Chicken sandwich. Where the "Memer" turns into an Image Macro while saying "Like a Boss", the "Selfiers" where one takes a selfie and the other takes the selfie, while the "Behind-The-Timeser" who says "It's the bomb. Raise the roof!" is considered lame.
  • This 2016 SpongeBob Promo blatantly uses "Deal With It".
  • The Truth anti-tobacco initiative launched their "It's a Trap" ad in Summer 2015 to prove that they were still relevant to The New '10s after having been active since the Bush Era. The entire video just consists of popular Internet memes springing to life and yelling "It's a trap!" whenever kids consider casually smoking at a party. None of them even say the signature lines that made them funny in the first place; apparently, the producers thought that hearing another (unrelated) meme reference would automatically make the audience laugh.
  • Golden Treasures Lottery came out with an ad for their lottery that starts with the double rainbow meme, featuring a man noticing a double rainbow that goes all the way across the sky, commenting on its beauty, and asking what it means.
  • Pop-Tarts advertising and packaging occasionally features some rather poor attempts to stay relevant. For example, boxes from 2016 feature memes such as "This... is... tarta!" (a parody of a meme which was popular in the late 2000's) and image macro parodies.
  • A series of anti-texting-while-driving PSAs from Australia, called "Don't Be a Dickhead", proclaims that every time you use a mobile phone while driving, gingers (or "gingaz") get laid, redheads get wings, and emos are born.note 
  • A Twix commercial featured a guy trying to hit on a Soapbox Sadie type, asking if she'd like to go back to his place and blog about their ideals. One gets the strong impression that the guy who wrote the commercial has no idea what blogging is.
  • A Goldfish advertisement has the fish take selfies and make fun of "duck facing". And it took place in 2017, rather than 2008-2011, when it was most popular.
  • Parodied in this 2003 Serta commercial. The counting sheep are fed up with losing work, so they visit an image consultant, who recommends them to become "New! Now! Happening". Gilligan Cut to the sheep in a couple's bedroom rapping.
    Gonna put you to sleep
    Gonna put you to sleep
    We're the sheep with the sleep
    And there's no Bo Peep!
    Gonna put you to sleep
    With a sleep that's deep!
  • Veteran Filipino senator Juan Ponce Enrile, in his bid to appeal to Filipino youths for his re-election in 2019, made use of contemporary slang such as "lodi"note  and "petmalu"note  in his campaign advertisements, though some did find it rather cringy and half-hearted for a man in his nineties.
  • The horror film Countdown (about an app that predicts a person's death) uses the phrase "There's an app for that" as part of its tagline, a meme that was popular during 2009-2010, whilst the film was made in 2019, long after the novelty of all sorts of different things having mobile phone apps faded.
  • This ad for Xfinity depicts a family called "The Memesteins," which references outdated memes like "NOOB," and the Impact font. Other less infamous ads in this campaign included "The Filtertons" who live their lives through Instagram filters, and "The Swapsons" whose faces have all been swapped a la certain photo apps, including the dog.
  • This Virgin Media ad that aired in the UK in late 2020 reeks features people trying to connect while staying at home due to... then-recent events. References include selfies, to dabbing, to Netflix. As you can guess, people panned it.
  • This Chip's Ahoy ad is a very blatant attempt to capitalize on the (fading by the time of upload) popularity of Among Us, to the point that it and a few similar Chip's Ahoy ads underwent Memetic Mutation in a similar vein to the similarly infamous GrubHub ad.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Osomatsu-san is a sequel to the classic Fujio Akatsuka series Osomatsu-kun set some ten years after the cast's childhood adventures. It features a multitude of Shout Outs to 2010s contemporary Japanese culture, which are a large portion of its appeal and what helped it become popular (and in line with Osomatsu-kun's own habit of including topical elements). In-series, however, each season begins with the cast invoking this:
    • In season 1, the cast (depicted as their 1966 selves) doesn't think modern day viewers would be interested in 1960s humor so they try to update the series. They end up creating an In Name Only adaptation where they're extremely attractive bishonens who are worshipped at their high school, are in an extremely popular Idol Singer group, and regularly save the world. The anime has Incest Subtext and harem elements to make it even more popular with anime fans. The brothers are however unable to keep up appearances and revert back to their original forms.
    • In season 2, the 60's versions of the brothers see their -San selves on TV and are disgusted by how disgusting and full of themselves they are when they become popular. They each decide to make their show "proper", with ideas proposed including a straightforwardly normal timeskip, outsourcing the animation, going Retraux, and foregoing animation altogether, turning into a live-action actor. Once again, none of these plans work.
    • In season 3, the show tries to make itself more marketable to audiences. They replace the Matsunos' normal voice actors with voice actors known for playing princely Bishōnen, give it a Lighter and Softer edge, and try different ways to make the show "diverse" by introducing Gender Flips or turning the brothers into a Multi National Team.
  • Parodied in Shinya! Tensai Bakabon: Papa worries that nobody will like the dated, fourth wall-breaking humor of the original manga series and tries to modernize it... alone, as the rest of the family is fine with how the humor works already and annoyed that Papa's forcing these changes on himself. Among the things he tries are changing his voice actor to a more popular one, making himself young, attractive, and female, and acting dramatic. The episodes themselves downplay the trope, as they're about how dated characters like them can survive a late-night slot without getting the axe.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • The radical changes the show went through in the Sun/Moon series have been seen as a desperate attempt to copy the success of Yo-Kai Watch, which trounced Pokémon in Japan throughout the XY series even after the initial craze died down. The globe-trotting action adventure aspect is gone and replaced with a slice-of-life schooldays premise, there's a ghostly Exposition Fairy as part of the main cast, Ash frequently uses a bracelet with unique properties, and the series has taken a more comical approach to itself... all of which was done first by Yo-kai Watch. Fortunately, the initial furor over the changes has died down, and the series has managed to find its footing with the new rebrand.
    • A lot of what the franchise has done in The '90s outside of Japan seemed to have given it a Totally Radical feel to it; even going as far as to have 90s pop songs in Pokémon: The First Movie rather than having it be itself like in Japan.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: It's minor, but Darker can be briefly seen doing the dab in the first episode of Mighty Little Defenders. This scene is also featured in the season's intro.
  • The Simple Samosa episode "Toast Malone" has Dhokla discovering and becoming addicted to Toast Malone's music after searching for "dank music tracks" on GheeTube. This episode aired in 2020, several years after usage of the word "dank" as a meme was popular.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics:
    • Archie Comics may be made fun of occasionally, but thanks to its cozy look at the bright side of being a teenager, most people tend to view it with warm nostalgic feelings. This makes these attempts to be "hip and happening" ever more bewildering. Everyone, from every generation, knows dear old Jughead Jones as Archie's goofy, hamburger-eating BFF in that ridiculous hat. Well, over the years, he has also had mercifully brief careers as (get some coffee and a comfortable seat) a beatnik, a hippie, a punk, a disco king, a breakdancer, a time-traveler a la Back to the Future, a rapper, a paranormal investigator a la The X-Files, an emo teen, a superhero, and so on. It's practically a Running Gag. See this useful Onion AV Club article for more details. And yet he never ditched the whoopee cap (yes, that's what it's called), a style of headgear that nobody's worn for close to a full century now, although it's fallen under Grandfather Clause since it's so identifiable with Jughead.
    • The short-lived The New Archies TV show (and tie-in comic) was a Totally Radical 1980s attempt at Spinoff Babies.
    • That brief span ("She's Goth to Have It") where Betty decides to become a goth. And not long after, Archie, Reggie, and Veronica follow suit. Though who can hate anything with such a hilarious closing line like "Yeah! It's totally dismal and excellent!"?
    • Then there were the "manga-style" Archie stories in the early 2000s.
    • "Occupy Riverdale" was a thing.
    • The Comics Curmudgeon openly suspected that Archie was so old and tired that it used a computer to come up with daily jokes, dubbing it the "Archie Joke-Generating Laugh Unit 3000" or AJGLU 3000. Archie struck back in this comic, putting Archie in a "No AJGLU 3000" shirt.
    • The success of the Afterlife with Archie series, however, stood out as more than just a cash-in on the popular zombie/horror comic trend and proved tropes are not necessarily bad. The 2015 reboot is also pretty well-received, viewed as successfully updating a series that was stagnating and in dire need of a shake-up.
  • In the Sixties, Jimmy Olsen was frequently used to capitalize on current trends. He was, at various points, a hippie, a Beatle (in Ancient Rome, no less!), a wide variety of superheroes, and many other things, most of which fall under the What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?/So Bad, It's Good heading. Once again, it's become sort of a Running Gag, focused on at places like Superdickery.
  • There's a Mickey Mouse comic story, published in 2008, in which Mickey attempts to join MyPlace (a parody of MySpace) and finds out somebody is already on there impersonating him.
  • Lampshaded for humour in a 1990s Catwoman comic, in which Catwoman comes up against Two-Face — who is toting as henchmen two ridiculously outdated (even for the time) Goth Mooks. When the fact that Goths aren't exactly hip anymore is raised, Catwoman snarks that "time moves slower in Arkham".
  • Infamously, during Marvel's Civil War event, reporter Sally Floyd tore into Captain America, trying to show how out-of-touch he was with modern America by asking, among other things, whether he knew what MySpace was, who won the last American Idol, or if he'd ever attended a NASCAR race. These things were indeed popular when the comic was published in 2007, but their cultural relevance would go into strong decline less than a year later. MySpace was toppled by Facebook as the most popular social media site in 2008, American Idol first dipped heavily in popularity, then ended, and NASCAR would go back to being a largely-regional Southern sport. And that's not counting how hard the book was clearly trying to tap into the ongoing discussions of The War on Terror. This ends up getting sort-of retconned in Secret Empire, when the HYDRA-fied Steve Rogers agrees to an interview with the same Sally Floyd, only to have her arrested when she slips up and mentions a massacre in Las Vegas coordinated by HYDRA; Rogers snidely tells her to "complain about it on Twitter" (which, unlike the other examples, managed to maintain its relevance throughout The New '10s).
  • The Beano introduced a character named Robbie Rebel in 2001, essentially a more hip, contemporary version of Dennis the Menace (UK). He was apparently based on Robbie Williams, and the strip also featured two scantily-clad girls called Kylie and Geri. Presumably this was to combat the dated appearance of the other characters (he wore jeans and a t-shirt instead of short trousers and a jersey), but he only lasted a few years.
    • In the '90s there was talk of putting Dennis in jeans, but the public backlash against changing his Iconic Outfit was so great that they instead ran a story where he not only had jeans but also shades and gelled-back hair, all of which proved hopelessly impractical for menacing, and returned to his original look at the end of the strip.
    • In 2012 Dennis's parents were given a makeover by Gok Wan, so they no longer looked like they were trapped in The '50s. This went over quite well, and is now their standard look. (A later Retcon suggests "trapped in the fifties" Mum and Dad are actually the current Dennis's Dad's parents, but don't think about it too hard.)
  • Brazilian comic Monica's Gang has been running for over 50 years, so it's natural the writers would try to keep on top of current trends. The series started dabbling in this trope since the late seventies, although to a lesser extent, when it started migrating from a Peanuts-like comic that had little to no relation to its times, to a pop culture heavy concept, with issue-long parodies of Star Wars and then-current movies. They even had a "turn our characters into a memeface" contest on their Facebook page! It doesn't help that a prolific editor for the comic is a proud geek who loves adding references to his fandoms, such as Game of Thrones and Alien (which, let's be honest, have no business being acknowledged by a children's book). The characters have also been fuel for this trope, as businesses and events trying to appeal to kids love slapping Monica's face (or a knock-off's) on a product.
    • The Chuck Billy spinoff comic, despite technically taking place in the present day, portrays country life as an idyllic 1940's farming village (Chuck's farm doesn't even have electricity, despite the fact that at least 90% of the homes in Brazil have had power since the 2000s). His City Mouse cousin's frequent visits make the contrast all the more grating.
  • Condorito: Later issues have jokes involving Facebook, Blackberry phones, and many of the covers have parodies of then-recent movies.
  • Marvel Comics' 10-issue run of Mighty Mouse concluded with a mysterious figure who used a vacuum to drain all the "hipness" from TV personalities (anthropomorphic animal editions of Pat Sajak, Johnny Carson, et al). The paramedics warn Mighty Mouse not to get too close or he'll lose all his hipness, and he scoffs, saying he's still relevant. That is, until the official word is that his cartoon show on CBS was canceled. Mighty Mouse eventually wins by drawing in his breath to counter the villain's vacuum. When he tells the paramedics he's as hip as ever, they quip, "Are you sure? The audience said you really sucked!"
  • The post-relaunch Batgirl series has become pretty notorious for this. Some examples:
    • A recurring plot point is an app that Gotham's petty criminals use to keep track of Batman's movements.
    • Babs' new roommate being a member of "Occupy Gotham".
    • The retool of the book that came about after Gail Simone left the title has Barbara moving to a trendy new neighborhood and becoming a hipster. It also has a greatly expanded focus on social media.
    • One story has Batgirl fighting video game-themed villains who are designed to look like Daft Punk, named Co-Op and FTW, all the while making retro video game references. Bleeding Cool described it as Batgirl trying to be Scott Pilgrim.
    • Livewire has been rebooted so that rather than being a former Howard Stern-style radio personality, she's now a former vlogger.
  • Kieron Gillen's Young Avengers series. The characters seem to be constantly posting to their equivalent of Tumblr for whatever reason, and spewing references that really just sound like Gillen's is trying to sound young.
  • Inhumanity features the use of Twitter in order to tell us what some people think about the new Inhumans. One newly awakened Inhuman, instead of, you know, going to the Avengers or any other superhero, decides to just keep taking photos of herself and posting them to Facebook.
  • Suske en Wiske: From the 1960s the series tried to cash in on trends of the day that have become hopelessly outdated by now:
    • Several stories of the late 1960s and early 1970s have the characters encounter hippies and/or delve in on the then current generation gap and the issue of wearing long hair.
    • In Big Mother Suske and Wiske join a reality TV show called Big Mother, which was based on the enormous success of the reality TV series Big Brother.
    • In the 2000s- after 60 years of wearing the same clothes- Suske and Wiske received a new hip, modern updated outfit. This created such a backlash that the creators were forced to return to their original clothes.
  • Nero: Nerorock, a story Sleen drew in the 1980s in which Nero starts a successful rock band. Adhemar claims to be a rock music fan and then names several artists and bands that Sleen clearly just transcribed from a hit parade list, because many of them are from very different musical genres.
  • Frequently seen in the works of Dennis Hopeless. Avengers Arena drew a lot of snark for shoving Internet-slang words like "hater" and "waifu" into the conversations while completely misusing them. Avengers Undercover had a character do the "shaky leg" dance and others commenting how cool it is. And then there's his Spider-Woman run, where the main character throws so many references in the first pages alone that it almost feels like a parody of writers who are desperate to sound young. Even more egregious later in Avengers Undercover, which gave a shout out to Attack on Titan due to the anime's message being focused on Determinator nature of the protagonists in contradiction to the comic book with its notoriety of Unfortunate Implications on the survivors of Arena as turning into villains due to their trauma.
  • The Dark Age of Comics was essentially this trope happening on an industry-wide scale. After the success of dark, violent comics like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, companies became convinced that Darker and Edgier was what audiences wanted and glutted the market with comic after comic of edgy Nineties Anti Heroes who killed criminals left and right. This backfired so hard it almost caused the entire industry to collapse.
  • In 2014, DC had an entire month of selfie-themed variant covers. Yes really. Even for characters like Batman.
  • Mocked in The Superior Foes of Spider-Man, where the Looter attempts to revamp himself as a hip and edgy criminal who's packing heat and doesn't take shit from anyone, only to make himself look like a moron.
  • The mid-'60s were full of comic creators trying to cash-in on the current youth trends and counterculture. A notable example is the Teen Titans, although it was somewhat toned down when Marv Wolfman and Len Wein came on board.
  • The 2015 Black Canary comic, spinning off from "Batgirl of Burnside" mentioned above, has Dinah as the lead singer of an indie band called Black Canary. However this is agreed to have worked pretty well, with many considering it to be a well-executed series.
  • Lee Bermejo admitted that We Are Robin was launched to try and "modernize" the Robin/Kid Hero concept by turning it into an Expy of movements like Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street, with heavy usage of social media.
  • Spidey is a Setting Update of the original Silver Age Spider-Man era, with the action now taking place in The New '10s instead of the 1960s. The first issue has Spider-Man posing with a Bound and Gagged White Rabbit for a photo taken with his iPhone, which he then posts to Instagram.
  • Runaways incorporated plenty of failed attempts at appearing "hip" once Terry Moore took over, including having Molly declare that TV is "like YouTube for old people" and having Xavin impersonate Kevin Smith.
    • Runaways (Rainbow Rowell) also falls prey to this, due to trying to make the team more current despite their premiere being nearly ten years past. Most jarringly, Nico sings along to a Carly Rae Jepsen song; while Jepsen is popular with the LGBT community, and Nico had recently come out as bisexual, she had only been out for about a week in-universe, and was not particularly known for a love of popular music.
  • Lampshaded in Avengers Standoff. When it's revealed that the super-hacker known as the Whisperer is actually former Silver Age Kid Sidekick Rick Jones, he says "We all gotta stay relevant, Sam."
  • Captain America: Sam Wilson has a group of one-shot villains called the Bombshells, a parody of college leftists. While student radicals are nothing new, it's the Bombshells' use of phrases like "safe space," "problematic," and "mansplain" that causes them to come off as particularly desperate.
  • A Raven miniseries from the 2000s had the tagline "Now in her own EMO series". It's especially off because Raven is largely considered a gothic character (despite predating the rise of the subculture), not an emo one.
  • The 2019 Asterix album Asterix and the Chieftain's Daughter has, at least in the UK translation, characters named Binjwatchflix and Selfipix, while Adrenalin and other youngsters talk in stereotyped New Tens teenspeak full of "can't even"s and "whatever"s. Adrenalin also dresses in black boy's clothes which she claims are actually Gothic.
  • New Warriors 2020 got plenty of flak when it was revealed for the fact that its new characters were walking attempts to make the writers look hip. Of particular note are Screentime (a "meme-obsessed teen" whose powers apparently came from "experimental Internet gas", however that works) and the twins Snowflake and Safespace (named after terms on the Internet that usually get used as insults against the minorities they're trying to portray positively, with the former seemingly having no personality beyond being nonbinary). At the very least, Marvel seems to have listened to the backlash on this one — it was delayed indefinitely along with all the other Outlawed event titles when COVID-19 hit, and then apparently cancelled altogether.
  • Unlike Marvel, who were at least willing to listen to fan feedback, DC Comics' DC Ink young adult graphic novels, such as Gotham High and I Am Not Starfire, reek of misguided attempts at appealing to younger readers. Especially the latter with its portrayal of teenagers as nothing more than Gen Z culture stereotypes, such as Mandy ordering drinks from a Starbucks rip off, Claire loving boba enough to wear a shirt about it, Mandy and Lincoln being goths that politically align with anarchists, Mandy believing college is a scam, Mandy running an account on knockoff-Instagram that's dedicated to pictures of her pet cockatoo...

  • In the 1990's the messages on Sweethearts candies were updated to things like "E-mail me".
  • In 2014, Love Hearts (UK counterpart to Sweethearts) were updated to such messages as "Tweet me a selfie", "Snapchat me" and "Swipe right".
  • The iconic chocolate Easter with selfies.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Jetsons: The Movie executive producers re-cast Janet Waldo with Tiffany as Judy Jetson just because she was popular at the time, a move that did not sit right with cast and crew especially when they had already used Janet for the movie and just re-recorded all her lines with Tiffany, to say nothing of the fact that by the time the movie came out Tiffany was declining in popularity. Not only that but the movie is littered with early '90s pop songs.
  • Ice Age:
    • Ice Age: Continental Drift cast Nicki Minaj and Drake as characters just because the studio perceived them as being hip with the kids. It even has the characters dance along to a generic auto-tuned pop song in the end credits. As the fourth movie of a franchise that began in 2002, these elements can't help but feel like the filmmakers are desperate to stay relevant.
    • Ice Age: Collision Course: Throughout the film, mentions of hashtags and profile pictures are dropped almost at random, blatantly contradicting the fact that the series' setting is prehistoric times.
  • Defied by The Peanuts Movie, aside from a joke about emojis in one trailer and Flo Rida and Meghan Trainor's contributions to the soundtrack. Charles Schulz's estate and family had a large hand in the production and wanted to keep the same timeless feel of the source material, so they made it a point to exclude any pop-culture references or bits of technology that didn't appear in the original comic strip.
  • Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie was made 13 years after the original series ended. The show already felt somewhat dated in 2004 due to Helga Pataki's father being a wealthy beeper salesmen during a time when beepers were becoming obsolete and being replaced by cellphones. The Jungle Movie tried to take advantage of Technology Marches On by having Rhonda Lloyd use a smartphone and showing that Big Bob Pataki's beeper business was on its last legs. While it seems reasonable at first glance, it comes across as pandering because The Jungle Movie takes place only about a year and a half after the final episode of Hey Arnold!, so technology would not have advanced that much in such a short amount of time.
  • The Trolls franchise:
    • The very first teaser trailer of the first movie consisted of the male trolls except for Branch, as well as Smidge and Cloud Guy, dancing to Silento's "Watch Me Whip and Nae Nae", which was popular the year prior.
    • One of the songs in the "Trolls 2 Many Hits Mashup" medley from Trolls: World Tour is "Gangnam Style". Compared to how the other songs in the medley have remained popular to this day and still receive constant radio airplay or are fondly remembered, "Gangnam Style" was only popular 8 years prior to the film's release.
  • SCOOB!: Some of the attempts to convey a more modern feeling have had mixed responses, such as Brian dabbing in his entrance, Dynomutt calling him a large adult son, the references to Netflix, Velma talking about toxic masculinity, Dick Dastardly's anti-millennial stance, and a cameo from Simon Cowell in an already-dated American Idol reference. However, the franchise has always had references to popular trends, or people of the time. Even the original series was guilty of this.
  • The Angry Birds Movie 2:
    • Instead of keeping the cartoonish, steampunkish 1970s technological aesthetic used in all previous Angry Birds media (including the first movie), this movie advances its technology straight to the present day. It regularly features smartphones and social media, and includes Garry, who looks and acts exactly like a modern Silicon Valley software developer. The movie even contains a flashback to what was supposedly the 1990s.
    • The dabbing Red billboard.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Halloween: Resurrection attempted to get in on the Internet gaining widespread attraction by having its main plot center around an Internet reality show hosted by Busta Rhymes of all people (playing another character, mind you). However, all of the extremely forced references to how cool and up-to-date the Internet is only succeed in severely dating the film to its early 2000s roots. No one watching today, in a world where the Internet is so massively ubiquitous that most people spend half their day using it, would ever find the inclusion of it as anything but forced and laughable.
  • In The NeverEnding Story III, the inhabitants of Fantasia undergo considerable change, including spouting contemporary pop-culture references. Bastian updates his hairdo because his sister calls it "un". The ultimate depiction in the movie, however, has to be Rock Biter taking his son for a bike ride...while singing "Born to be Wild".
  • When the trailer for the Three Stooges movie was shown to feature a modern setting, an iPhone, and the cast of the Jersey Shore, many people who hadn't heard anything about the film since Sean Penn was involved (which implied a more serious biography of the Stooges) were, to say the least, surprised. When people hoping these were just gags made for the trailer saw it and found out that Jersey Shore is not only a big part of the film but is also instrumental to the plot, they were pissed. It takes a bit of the sting out that they spend the entirety of their appearance getting the crap knocked out of them by Moe.
  • The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle is so loaded with early 2000s pop culture references that it might as well be called "The 2000s, starring Moose and Squirrel."
  • The Smurfs movie is infamous for trying every cheap tactic in the book to try to get the franchise "down with the kids".
  • The Internship, In-Universe. Two salesmen whose careers have been made obsolete by the digital age try to get a coveted internship at Google.
  • While the Race Lift in Annie (2014) necessitated the Setting Update, the constant references to celebrities and memes (like "Boom goes the dynamite!") feel forced and will likely date the film in years to come. Parodied on Saturday Night Live in a version of "It's a Hard-Knock Life" that mentions the iPhone 6.
  • Some 1950s Red Scare films are very much like the gangster films of the '30s, '40s, and '50s. They just changed "the mob" to "communists" to make the movie seem more topical.
  • The Sony leaks revealed that one of the proposed takes to help freshen up the Spider-Man franchise involved having him communicate with citizens via Snapchat and use expressions like "N.B.D." after defeating bad guys. Oh, and there would've been an EDM soundtrack as well.
  • Parodied in Scream 4, where the sixth Stab film has the killers harassing a pair of teenage girls through Facebook along with Ghostface's usual creepy phone calls. One of the two women watching this film (who are themselves characters in Stab 7) describes it as the attempt of some hack writer to keep the series "hip", to which the other (who's actually the killer herself) cluelessly replies that nowadays Ghostface would be taunting them through Twitter instead. A running theme in the rest of the film is how the Scream series, which was once at the cutting edge with its post-modern take on the horror genre, has become a relic of the time in which it was made, with commentary on remakes and reboots that try to update the stories of the original films for "modern" audiences.
  • Every movie by Seltzer and Friedberg focused on contemporary trends that inevitably made the movie look dated a few months after it came out. This frequently manifested in them parodying just the trailers of films, since at the time of shooting they weren't actually out yet
  • Biggles: Adventures in Time was a So Bad, It's Good attempt to put a modern sci-fi spin on the Biggles adventures.
  • Parodied with Regina's mother (played by Amy Poehler) in Mean Girls, overlapping with Amazingly Embarrassing Parents. She's keen to let Cady know that she's a "cool mom", which apparently means dressing in garish Juicy Couture sweatpants and tracksuits, letting her younger daughter blast trashy R&B videos in the living room, and trying (and failing) to use modern slang with her daughter's friends. In hindsight, given how fashion, music, and youth slang have evolved since then, this only makes her even more pathetic to modern viewers.
  • Barbershop: The Next Cut was always going to have a hard time avoiding these accusations, considering that it's a 2016 sequel to a movie that came out in 2002, and the only other Barbershop sequel came out in 2004. But when the movie's ad campaign also heavily advertises a new character played by Nicki Minaj, and the trailers namedrop selfies, hashtags, "Safe Spaces", and the election of Barack Obama (who in 2016 was in his last year in office), well...
  • Peter Rabbit: The timeless countryside feel of the original stories is given a Setting Update to cram in fart jokes, cultural references and pop music. The creators themselves have bragged about it being a "contemporary comedy with attitude". Naturally, it's a very divisive movie. This was taken Up to Eleven by the marketing when posters were released depicting the characters parodying popular films from the previous year.
  • Zigzagged with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Upon release of the first trailer, many fans took its premise as a bid for relevancy compared to the first movie's — four teens get sucked into a video game versus The Board Game Come to Life. However, the film itself is largely an aversion, lacking gratuitous pop-culture references, and the video game aspect itself is plot-important, allowing for the "Freaky Friday" Flip that makes up the backbone of the movie. In-Universe, when Alex sees Jumanji as a board game in the opening, he scoffs, says, "Who plays board games anymore?", and goes back to his video game. That night, Jumanji transforms into a video game console, which he unwittingly plays. Even then, and despite the fact that the movie is made by Sony Pictures, the Jumanji console looks more like a classic '80s Atari 2600 instead of a more contemporary PlayStation. This is also a minor Running Gag in the original, that the game has to manipulate events even before proper play begins because it can't find enough people willing to play otherwise.
  • The trope is used as a Running Gag in This is Spın̈al Tap. When we hear songs from the band's history it's clear that their sound is defined as "whatever was popular when we wrote this", and usually a trend behind.
  • The Banana Splits: The whole concept of characters from a classic TV show becoming Hostile Animatronics who murder people sounds like it was made in a desperate attempt to keep the property alive, in addition to being a rather blatant ripoff of Five Nights at Freddy's.
  • In the 2010 Christian film Christmas with a Capital C a teenager says that "all the girls are eating these 'vampire books'"; this was throughly made fun of by both The Cinema Snob and Hannah and Jake in their respective reviews of the film.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked contained Theodore making a reference to the Double Rainbow meme, which happened a year prior.
  • Among several other things, the film version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul was hated for its over-reliance on popular trends, especially compared to the first three films: the plot centers around Greg becoming a meme, he's shown to be a fan of an obnoxious let's player named Digby, and there are plenty of social media references tossed in.

  • Brown's Pine Ridge Stories: An in-story variation occurs in the tenth chapter. Local merchants in 1965 organize the "McRae-Helena Treasure Hunt" because they "got tired of seeing its citizens shopping in Vidalia, Dublin, Douglas". While the treasure hunt does generate interest that creates a short-term surge of economic activity, as history has shown it was neither to last nor effective in revitalizing anything.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Owing to Values Dissonance and Technology Marches On, post-1980s adaptations of the novel have struggled with relevancy. Compulsive gum-chewer Violet Beauregarde and TV addict Mike Teavee have undergone a great deal of Menace Decay over the years, so their personalities and habits have to be rethought in order to make them sufficiently obnoxious to warrant Ironic Hell punishments. The challenge is to make their habits of-the-moment while turning out to be endemic of larger issues that won't date as easily. Both of the following adaptations also take place in Retro Universes where styles and technologies of various past eras rub shoulders with those of the present. In the 2005 film adaptation, Mike is a jaded Insufferable Genius obsessed with violent video games as well as TV. Violet is a Go-Getter Girl with a Stage Mom, both of whom are fixated on winning any competition that comes their way. In the 2013 stage musical, Mike's obsession with electronics of all kinds is used to keep him occupied so he doesn't cause as much real-world trouble as he otherwise would, as he is an Enfant Terrible whom no adult seems capable of controlling. Violet is a resident of Horrible Hollywood whose father has helped parlay her non-talent of gum-chewing into a Cash Cow Franchise (in the same way that reality show stars and people like Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian become famous). The Genre Roulette of the songs associates Mike with techno and Violet with kid-friendly rap — but also disco.
  • Macbeth #killingit, an edition of Macbeth told entirely with text speak and emojis. It has such lines as Lady Macbeth saying "Did he RSVP?". Two more plays were given the same treatment, maybe in an attempt to connect to younger readers in a Totally Radical way, maybe to amuse people who already were fans of the original play, possibly both.
  • Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot novel Third Girl attempts to introduce Swinging London youth culture, to somewhat uncomfortable effect.
  • Dan Brown's novel, Origin, published in 2017, contains a reference to "Let It Go" from Frozen, 4 years too late.
  • To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter in 2016, Warne published new editions of five of her best known books, with covers by "Great British designers", looking not unlike Penguin Modern Classics. For example, The Tale of Peter Rabbit shows Peter in a black beanie and a denim jacket covered in patches, one of which declares him to be "Rad(ish)".
  • Rainbow Magic has various fairies that seem designed to capitalize on contemporary trends among kids. Examples would be Sasha the Slime Fairy, Zainab the Squishy Toy Fairy, Jae the Boy Band Fairy (whose design seems heavily influenced by K-Pop bands), and Kat the Jungle Fairy (an Expy of Katy Perry as she appeared in the music video for "Roar"). There's also Tiana the Toy Fairy, the "fairy-sona" of a then-popular toy reviewer on YouTube.
  • The relaunch Point Horror books from 2013-2014 were all social media-themed, leading to a very negative reception from both new readers and classic fans; Mainly due to them trying too hard to seem current with modern readers, and the said forms of social media in the stories being very poorly understood by the authors.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bob Hope from the '70s and on. As Frasier told Niles, "Don't use slang. You sound like Bob Hope when he acts like The Fonz." Lorne Michaels once said that one of the reasons he wanted to do the things Saturday Night Live did in its early seasons was the way that, when Bob Hope did sketches on his shows where he pretended to smoke marijuana, he acted drunk afterwards.
  • Enterprise's attempts to prove that the franchise was still relevant at the turn of the millennium by allegorizing on the subject of The War on Terror could get heavy-handed at times. It was particularly bad considering that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had managed to do a far better job regarding terrorism, military occupations and colonialism years before the War on Terror had even started, through a happenstance involving the backstory of the setting and several major characters being involved in fighting a decades long, brutal war of occupation & genocide.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The character of Ace is a clear attempt to be relevant and "with it" for the youth of the day, her "wicked" fashion style and "ace" dialogue was frequently considered either laughable or cringeworthy at the time, never mind later on. The writer reportedly tried for accuracy, hanging out with real kids to get a sense of who they were and how they acted, but Executive Meddling resulted in actual teenage slang and speaking patterns being tossed out. Tropes Are Not Bad, for the most part — she's often regarded as one of the best companions by the fans, thanks to the famous scene where she wrecks a Dalek with a baseball bat.
    • The new Doctor Who series features numerous celebrity cameos and pop-culture references scattered across multiple episodes that can leave them feeling very dated in a short space of time.
      • Season 2's "Tooth and Claw" prominently featured kung fu monks in Victorian era Scotland. The very Caucasian monks start fighting with a style ripped almost completely from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a reference that was six years old by that airdate. No explanation is given as to why said monks are there fighting in a such manner, and indeed by the halfway point they have completely disappeared in favor of a more traditional Who monster.
      • "The End of the World", amusingly, features residents of the distant future referring to Britney Spears' music as "a traditional ballad". This is not the first time in the show that current pop music was described as "classical".note 
      • "Bad Wolf" features pastiches of the reality shows and game shows of 2005. This had a certain Reality Subtext — these reality shows were what pushed homegrown drama off the air and made producers so skeptical about bringing Doctor Who back, and now the Doctor is fighting them! — but also has a faintly desperate air, as if by dropping the Doctor into a world based on the current TV landscape he'll begin to belong there after all these years.
      • The Beatles, or the "Bee-attles" comes up again as classical music in the new series episode "42". This was a Call-Back to the same joke being made by a character from the future during the Hartnell Era, when the Beatles were still around.
      • "The Shakespeare Code" had a few Harry Potter references, including one to the final book which came out the same month the episode aired, and "Expelliarmus!" turns out to be key to defeating the Monster of the Week (admittedly this was because the preceding word was hard to rhyme).
      • "The End of Time" made a few Anvilicious nods towards Barack Obama's proposed economic reform.
      • When the Master returned in the new series, he was updated into a murderous pop culture junkie. He is shown watching an episode of Teletubbies (supposedly a Shout-Out to the original series where he watches an episode of The Clangers) and has pop music played when he releases the Toclafane to decimate the Earth's population ("Voodoo Child", by Rogue Traders) and at the start of Series 3's finale whilst he is wheeling the Doctor around on a wheelchair ("I Can't Decide" by the Scissor Sisters).
      • In "Cold War", set in the titular war during the eighties on a Russian nuclear sub, Soviet Professor Grisenko is shown to be a fan of British Europop, listening to "Hungry Like the Wolf" on a Walkman. When he learns the Eleventh Doctor and Clara Oswald are from the future, he asks for details about the fate of something important to him. At first, it looks like he wants to know about major events yet to come concerning the Cold War's outcome- which could derail history given the right answer in the wrong place and wrong time, should someone wish to alter its course. He simply wants to know if Ultravox broke up by 2013note .
  • The final season of The Brady Bunch. In the wake of the runaway success of All in the Familynote , The Brady Bunch had an episode that didn't involve the Bradys at all, in which a white family adopted a black and an Asian kid. (A bigoted neighbor in the episode is expressly compared to Archie Bunker.) "Kelly's Kids," the episode in question, was a Poorly Disguised Pilot which didn't sell — not at the time, anyway; Sherwood Schwartz eventually succeeded in selling the concept as Together We Stand. See this article for more details.
  • The episode of Today where they did the Harlem Shake (and managed to temporarily kill the meme) for Valentine's Day.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, in part because of how heavily the show relies on Ripped from the Headlines:
    • One episode featured a young female hacker branding several men who'd raped her, clearly riding the success of the Swedish Millennium Trilogy.
    • "Intimidation Game" was an episode written about video games in journalism, clearly jumping onto the bandwagon of a then-fairly recent scandal. Rather unsurprisingly, both sides of the debate wound up hating it, which is all we'll say about the subject.
    • The episode "Revenge" focused on incels, where a group of incels refer to their victims as "Chads" and "Stacys." Carisi apparently needs to go to the dark web to figure out what those words mean, even though the definitions can easily be found on sites like Reddit.
  • Psych also tried to jump on the Swedish thriller bandwagon with an episode in which Shawn and the SBPD chase after a young Swedish woman with supposedly serious daddy issues.
  • Necessary Roughness, after Dr. Santino moves to V3, usually in the form of her boss name-dropping his supposed celebrity friends. The sad thing is, the show was actually ahead of the curve several months earlier, when it had a story arc about a fictional football player coming out as gay — several months before real-life basketball player Jason Collins did.
  • Greg the Bunny, In-Universe. Gil asks Jimmy how they can update "Sweetknuckle Junction" for a more modern audience. The result includes changing Count Blah into a rapper named Count A'ight (which he repeated mispronounces as ah-ig-it), sexing up Dottie, and painting Junction Jack silver, suspending him from the rafters, and renaming him Cybo-Jack. ("It's finally happened. They made me into a puppet.") They also add a strobe light effect which ends up giving the kids in the focus group seizures, resulting in them abandoning the retool.
  • The Glee covers of Rebecca Black's "Friday" and especially PSY's "Gangnam Style" were met with a lot of ridicule.
  • MTV's famed reality shows, The Real World and Road Rules (before the latter was canceled) had to play catch-up when later shows were able to come through the door they opened and were able to take it even further. The Real World started with average people generally acting somewhat normally (at least as normal as they could under the circumstances). However, after seeing the popularity of trashy shows that reveled in their drunken debauchery like The Bachelor, they started hiring model-ready cast members and generally turned up the sex, violence and drama. Road Rules, on the other hand, started out much more like Real World on an RV, with the challenges supposed to be rather sedate team-building exercises . However, once more extreme reality competitions such as Fear Factor came along, the challenges became much more extreme and gross-out.
  • Disney's Adventures in Wonderland: The White Rabbit travels via roller skates (a popular fad in the '90s), and the Tweedle brothers are reimagined as hip-hop dancing rappers (complete with MC Hammer-esque outfits). It's odd considering that Disney was essentially trying to prove that a book written in the 1860s—or, at least, its hold on the intellectual property—was still relevant.
  • The sixth season of Caméra Café which came out in 2017, five years after the end of the previous one, and was brought to the second channel of Italian state television. The company has been sold to the Chinese, the episodes reference often apps, social networks, new technologies and fads like the "mannequin challenge", there's talks of immigrants like one of their new co-workers, however despite all this the episodes still go on about the same way as always. Some say that it's meant to show how office life never really changes, others say that for that reason such specific references aren't needed and will one day turn the season six episodes into an Unintentional Period Piece.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Invoked in one of the earlier episodes. Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank stage a re-enactment of the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King. Why? In Dr. Forrester's own words, "Because we pride ourselves on being current and topical." The episode was filmed in the early 1990s — the tennis match in question had taken place roughly twenty years earlier.
  • Insecure: In-Universe, with the fictional '90s Show Within a Show Kev'yn. A clip is shown of the modern reboot which features a character dressed as Colin Kaepernick kneeling and saying "Hashtag Metoo!"
  • BBC Scotland's startup has a clip from a show called "Up For It". This wouldn't be so bad... had the clip not contained dabbing after a contestant caught an egg. And even though the show is no longer broadcast on the channel, it's been unchanged for a while, and because of that, it's unfortunately not going away any time soon.
  • Superstore: In-Universe. The titular store, Cloud 9, adopts an animated mascot, MC Cloud, who awkwardly uses hip-hop slang and refers to the store as his "bae". He also seems to be in an inexplicable Interspecies Romance with a human woman.
  • The 2009 reboot of The Electric Company, in an attempt to reach out to a new generation, removed the sketch comedy format to focus on adventures in an urban city. It also frequently used hip-hop music.
  • My Name Is Earl takes place in a kind of Retro Universe, which appears to be stuck in the late 80's or early 90's. There's lots of flannel, most characters either don't have cell phones or have enormous "brick" phones, and they watch CRT televisions. Then in Season 4, everyone in Camden suddenly has high-speed Internet out of nowhere (up until then, only a couple of Nerdy characters like Kenny and Josh had Internet of any kind). And what's more, they're all on a Facebook Expy called "BuddyBook". In a side plot, Joy is feeling unhappy because no one is adding her as a friend on the site, and Darnell stays up all night making fake "friends" for her.
  • One episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver had John Rickroll the audience twice.
  • Disney Channel created an "emojified" version of Descendants 2, which is essentially the same movie with emojis, filters, image macro-style text, and other Internet edits incorporated into several scenes.
  • Parodied in a Saturday Night Live sketch where Kelsey Grammer shoehorns social media into the Frasier theme song for the reboot.
    Hey baby, I hear you Instagramming TikTok salads and Twitter eggs....Reddit!
  • In 2020, Nickelodeon premiered Unfiltered, basically The Masked Singer with Snapchat-like filters. There are references to memes like dabbing, “Deal with It”, a social media segment and text that said “2020 is cancelled”.
  • The last few seasons of Modern Family, such as in the season 10 premiere which makes a throwaway joke about the #metoo movement, references to Quibi and Tiktok, the use of a song by Lizzo, a joke about Donald Trump's border wall, and the entire family dressing in onesies for a Christmas episode. Earlier seasons had their finger firmly on the pulse of contemporary culture, but you could tell they were actually trying and the episodes have a timeless feel to them.
    • In-universe in the pilot episode, where Phil mentions knowing text slang and all the dances to High School Musical to impress the (very annoyed) kids.
  • The How I Met Your Mother spinoff How I Met Your Father recieved some negative criticism for its over-reliance on technology trends - the characters are portrayed as cellphone addicts, the first episode features a Tinder date, a long-distance relationship, and an instance of Instant Humiliation Just Add Youtube - which led the character to work as an Uber driver.

  • Cracked (which was a print magazine until it went online in 2007), despite usually being pretty good at keeping with the times, occasionally came off as clueless or desperate. In 1995, they attempted to parody some of the new video games that summer and came up with something called NBA Gam — "the slammin'est, gammin'est game of them all!" (Groan.) The joke was that it was NBA Jam, but with the teams' cheerleaders playing, and the "cover image" showed screaming bimbos in shorts and tank tops hurling each other through the air (the cartoonist apparently having confused basketball with wrestling). In addition to the obvious Values Dissonance of the premise ("Look at these girls elbowing and shoving each other! They think they're guys! Ha, ha!"), the pun was an obvious reference to "gams," the early 20th-century slang word for women's legs (itself derived from the French word jambes, meaning....well...."legs"); problem was, that word had been outdated for nearly two generations by the time Cracked used it (and worse, most kids who were reading probably just assumed they had misspelled the word "game," thus nearly ruining the joke). In any case, the joke became discredited the very next year, when female basketball players launched their own version of the NBA.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Similar to the above Jughead image are the occasional attempts at current events humor in The Family Circus. On the one hand, the general concessions to changing times — the toys the Not Allowed to Grow Up kids are seen playing with or the TV shows they watch — are subtle and actually topical. But since the Turn of the Millennium, attempts at mining humor from them result in odd, unfunny jokes such as Billy saying that Daddy's newspaper cartoons would look better in HD. Then there was Dolly dressing up as Sarah Palin for Halloween 2008 (which wasn't presented as a joke), while Billy and Jeffy were dressed up as Iron Man and Batman respectively.
    • For Halloween 2012, Billy asks to go out as a specific character, "Tactical Sergeant Tarkus from the Blood Ravens 4th Company in Warhammer 40,000", despite the fact Warhammer 40000 is extremely obscure outside geek circles (and Tarkus is obscure even among 40k fans). But it was hilarious watching people on /tg/, the 4chan board that deals with 40k, slowly coming to the realization that yes, Family Circus of all things had just referenced Tarkus.
    • The Halloween 2016 strip references Pokémon GO on top of two kids being dressed as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
    • Seanbaby points out how awkward this is in an article about the comic. One strip has a computer monitor displaying static (i.e. "snow") in order for the kids to deliver the punchline "winter-net". How many times has your monitor displayed TV-style "snow"? Even TVs rarely display TV-style snow now!
  • Blondie: In later years, the jokes are generally about how out-of-touch Dagwood is with modern society, but the "modern society" the reader is often shown still feels like it's trapped in a time warp. Most references to modern technology come from Elmo, a small child who somehow affords every "hip" new product despite being a small child.
    • In 1991, Blondie put on pants and started a catering business with her friend Tootsie. In 2000, Blondie yelled "Dagwood Bumstead Dot Com!" to wake her husband. Dagwood responded, "Omigosh, that means BUSINESS!" Dagwood uses a flatscreen computer monitor at work, Cookie and Alexander use cell phones and crack jokes about Facebook. But Dagwood is still late to work — although now he races out the door to his car pool rather than a city bus — and Mr. Dithers still kicks him in the ass.
    • Unintentionally played with in a 2012 comic, where Dagwood visits a music store and is met with confusion when he asks a young clerk for record player needles. However, with records having made a comeback, the joke becomes irrelevant because something that became irrelevant in the past is now relevant again.
  • Peanuts, especially from the 1970s onwards — usually through having Snoopy picking up on then-current fads, most notoriously in the '80s TV special It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown.
    • In one of the last comics published before the strip ended in 2000, Sally attempted to invite Harry Potter over to her house for dinner. What an interesting Crossover that could have been.
    • The character Peppermint Patty exists due to a bid at staying relevant. At the height of the late 1960s feminist movement, Schulz decided he needed to introduce a female character who wasn't stereotypically feminine. Apparently, it was a somewhat big deal at the time that she (gasp!) wore shorts and sandals (even though girls had been wearing shorts and sandals since the '40s at the latest). There was even a major story arc revolving around her getting in trouble at school for wearing shorts and sandals. Sally Brown and Lucy Van Pelt also got in on the action by switching from dresses to slacks in the final 20 or so years of the run.
  • The Comics Curmudgeon gets a lot of humor out of this topic:
    • For instance, this Snuffy Smith strip, which notes that television show references are out of place in the time warp the hillbillies live in anyway.
    • Momma has a writer that may have never seen a computer in his life.
    • And Crock clearly has no idea what "iTunes" means.
    • This B.C. strip from 2015, which randomly references Rage Comics.
  • Dick Tracy: In the '60s and '70s, original writer Chester Gould tried desperately to keep the strip relevant with the changing times, leading to him giving the strip a sci-fi swerve where Tracy meets the moon people and the police force gains moon technology — his son even marries one of the moon people, "Moon Maid". This led to problems when the Apollo Moon Landings showed the moon barren of all life, forcing him to eventually drop many of these elements. In the '70s, he tried to update Tracy's distinct look with long hair and a mustache, along with a hippie sidekick named "Groovy Grove". The mustache went over so poorly he later drew a strip in which several characters pin Tracy down and shave it off. Gould's successor, Max Allan Collins, had both Moon Maid and Groovy Grove killed off as soon as he inherited the strip. Later writer Dick Locher was far too displaced from reality to make many contemporary references (although he did have Tracy fight a terrorist with the Punny Name of Al Kinda, and introduced a communications officer called Lt. Teevo). When Curtis and Staton took over, they introduced a computer criminal named Phishface, and a rock star who is secretly an undercover cop battling digital piracy.
  • Li'l Abner introduced student radicals called SWINE (Students Wildly Indignant at Nearly Everything) during The '60s, overlapping with Author Tract, as the conservative Al Capp felt the increasing need to vent his disgust with the political/cultural developments of the era.
  • The Wizard of Id:
    • Circa late January 2012, they made a 300 reference.
    • A January 2013 strip made a Take That! at Twilight.
  • A January 2013 Baldo comic had a punchline involving "Gangnam Style". As did a Beetle Bailey strip that saw print during the same month.
  • The May 28, 2013 strip of Heathcliff features Heathcliff throwing a piece of cheese against a wall as two mice look on. One of the mice says, "I’m thinking of unfriending him on Facebook."
  • When Nancy got taken over by Olivia Jaimes, things like smartphones and computers started making their way into the comic. This is either a case of We're Still Relevant, Dammit trying desperately to grab the attention of The Youths instead of the timelessness of previous runs, or a much-needed Setting Update to work with the reality kids face nowadays. In any case, Jaimes is self-aware enough that she gleefully parodies it in this infamous strip, depicting Nancy riding down the sidewalk on a hoverboard while carrying a selfie stick, wearing Airbuds, and saying: "Sluggo is lit".

    Professional Wrestling 
  • WWE commentators constantly mentioning Twitter or current pop culture comes off as desperate a lot of times.
  • It's something of a Running Gag among wrestling fans that WWE is roughly 3-5 years behind pop culture. In fact, this was the main cause behind the dropping of Paul Burchill's pirate gimmick; at the time, Pirates of the Caribbean was too current for Vince McMahon to understand, and he didn't understand why a pirate should be a face.
    • Vince discontinued The Blonde Bytch project because he, personally, had never heard of The Blair Witch Project at the very height of its popularity.
    • Witness Vince bringing in ZZ Top, who haven't been on the charts since the late '80s, to be the guest General Managers of Raw.
    • In general, ideas that relate to current pop culture that get smothered are because if Vince hasn't heard of it, surely you haven't either.
    • When Vince was doing commentary for a match featuring Avatar (who was Al Snow under a mask), the commentary crew was speculating as to the identity of the new wrestler, when Vince pipes up with, "Maybe it's Bart!" Cue blank looks from the other commentators, at which point Vince clarifies with, "You know, from The Simpsons?" The Simpsons at this point had been on the air for 5-6 years. Which would make the relevant season 6 episode contemporary, so it actually was relevant this time.
  • This is how TNA came off when they brought in "Robbie E" and "Cookie" with a Jersey Shore gimmick. And then they actually brought in J-Woww to feud with Cookie. For 15 minutes. Speaking of, Robbie's still around with the same gimmick, and he's in a stable with Big Brother seasons 10 and 11 alum Jessie Godderz!
  • Sting, who had spent the last 15 years ripping-off Eric Draven from The Crow, then starts ripping off The Joker from The Dark Knight. In 2011, three years after the film's release.
  • WWE had a wrestler dressed as Batman (imaginatively known as "Battman") in the mid-1960s, when the TV show was a hit. During the mid-1990s they had Rad Radford, who dressed like a grunge-rock musician. Some of WWE's most popular and enduring gimmicks started out this way: Edge, for example, in his original "Brood" incarnation with his Badass Longcoat and Cool Shades and vampire fangs, was strikingly reminiscent of the title character of Blade, which had just hit theaters at the time. And John Cena's "rapper" gimmick, while ostensibly a parody of "Marky Mark" Wahlberg, obviously owed a great deal of its success to the early-2000s popularity of Eminem.
  • Professional Wrestling often deliberately invokes this sort of desperate attempt at staying trendy for comedy or satirical purposes. The tag team "Cryme Tyme" became darlings of the fans despite trafficking in "Yo-yo-yo!"/"in the 'hood" stereotypes that had already been cliched for over a decade. Ditto with "Disco Inferno" (in the late '90s). WCW would, unfortunately, go back to that well again with "That '70s Guy" Mike Awesome after That '70s Show became a hit. It didn't come off nearly as funny or clever the second time around.
  • In 2021, NXT wrestler Joe Gacy's character (following the Breakout Tournament) seems to be a liberal/SJW using phrases like "safe space" and "triggered."

    Puppet Shows 

  • The Archers, being as it is an extreme Long Runner that was originally a wartime Edutainment serial. New episodes continually reference modern farming life and developments, as well as contemporary pop culture and weather events (such as flooding arcs during periods of heavy downpour in real life).

    Tabletop Games 

  • Andrew Lloyd Webber is fond of updating elements of his work that he sees as "outdated", much to the general dismay of fans. A prime example is his decision to change Cats character Rum Tum Tugger from a Mick Jagger-esque rockstar to a hip-hop "street cat" in 2014. Tugger's update was met with criticism. Both critics and theatre fans condemned the re-working of the character, and by the time of the Broadway revival two years later, the original Rockstar Tugger was back, with all productions following suit.
    • This wasn't the first time he tried to modernize a character in one of his shows. In 2003, he had replaced the Rockies in Starlight Express with the Hip Hoppers, who sang a rap song that was rather-unpopular. They lasted long than Street Cat Tugger, though Webber used an Author's Saving Throw in 2004 to rewrite the Hip Hoppers to be closer to the original Rockies, and when the long-running production in Bochum, Germany was rewritten in 2018, the Rockies made their big comeback.
  • A new production of the one-woman song cycle Tell Me on a Sunday (with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Don Black) opened in London in 2003, starring Denise Van Outen. Revisions were made to update the show for the early 2000s (whereas it had previously been set in the 1980s). The girl writes home to her friends via email using a laptop, keeps urging her mother to buy a computer as mailing letters is "so old-fashioned", and also uses an online dating service. However, as one fan said, Tell Me on a Sunday works better as an Unintentional Period Piece because with the instant communication we have today the girl would not feel so isolated from the world she left behind. Leaving one's family and moving to another country would have been a much bigger deal in the 1980s (and earlier) when the cost of long-distance phone calls was high and it took days to receive a letter in the mail. Friends and Frasier are also mentioned; ironically, references such as those and sending emails on a laptop (as opposed to, say, texting on a smartphone as has become more common) now date that version.

    Theme Parks 
  • Disney Theme Parks: Almost every addition and/or change that Disney has ever made to the parks involving contemporary IPs (even if it's one of their own) has been slammed as attempts to stay "hip" by hardcore old-school fans. They're not entirely wrong:
    • The Disney Dance Crew show. They even turned "A Pirate's Life For Me" into a rap and changed one of the lyrics to "Drink up, me gangstas, yo-ho!"
    • The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management), an updated version of The Enchanted Tiki Room starring Iago and Zazu that ran at the Magic Kingdom from 1998 until 2011, is one of Disney's most notorious attempts at a modern update of their attractions. The combination of "hip" showbiz and popular culture elements of the time, combined with Iago's cynical attitude towards the classic characters, angered so many Disney fans that they saw the fire that ended that version's run as an act of God.
    • Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the Magic Kingdom's annual Halloween event, turns the Diamond Horseshoe into a character dance party playing various family friendly "party music", only to suddenly switch to "Tik Tok" by Kesha that's poorly censored either by cutting out the "bottle of Jack" part of the lyrics or the DJ desperately shouting into his microphone to cover "plenty of beer."
    • The Celebrate! A Street Party! parade, when it came to the end of its brief two-year run. The parade floats and dancer costumes were very contemporary, Mickey and Minnie were dressed in costumes that scream "late 2000s", and it prominently featured songs by Hannah Montana and Ricky Martin on its soundtrack.
    • Mickey's Most Merriest Celebration, the seasonal castle stage show that debuted during the 2016 Christmas event, features a song about texting loved ones on Christmas, complete with the characters pulling out oversized prop mobile phones. The rest of the show isn't as bad, with appearances by fan-favorite characters like Clarabelle Cow, José Carioca, and Panchito singing popular Christmas songs.note 

  • The premise of a toyline like Barbie. Every new fashion trend for the past fifty years has resulted in new versions of the doll. She and toys like her are, after all, called fashion dolls. Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy," where two girls find Malibu Stacy dolls ("Achy Breaky Stacy" and "Live from the Improv Stacy") that are now in the bargain bin now that the song "Achy Breaky Heart" and Evening at the Improv aren't popular anymore.
  • The Furby Connect is Hasbro's attempt to stay hip in 2016, with Kidz Bop covers of pop songs like "Cheap Thrills" and "One Call Away", references to cat videos and memes like ERMAGHERD. Oh, and all the Toilet Humour.
  • G.I. Joe:
    • The '70s "Adventure Team" version of the franchise existed in an attempt to make the figures popular by changing them to standard Adventure/Fantasy scenarios (ninjas, explorers, outer space, etc.), rather than war or military themes, because America was really hurting after The Vietnam War and society saw war as a pointless waste of human life.
    • The 1980s revival/retool, while avoiding the political issues of war by having a well-defined, clearly-evil enemy bent on world domination, introduced the Eco-Warriors and Drug Elimination Force in the early 1990s. (The former were even lampshaded in the comics when one of the Eco-Warriors points out that their new battle suits are made from recycled action figures!) The new lineups didn't prove popular, so they went with neon-colored ninjas until the line died out.
    • After the short-lived Sgt. Savage and his Screaming Eagles, they released G.I. Joe Extreme, which gave us a Totally Radical team 20 Minutes into the Future. They soon went back to the original 1982 premise, upon which every subsequent adaptation has been based.
  • The concepts of Transformers toys didn't change all that much during Generation 2, but their depictions in media sure as hell did. G2 comics were famously and aggressively Dark Age, and just check out this commercial. They were all like that. That said the era is looked upon with fondness by many fans, mainly because of its Narm Charm (how can you not enjoy a song that unironically uses the line "BIG BAD BATTLIN' DUDICUS") and the spectacular art of Derek Yaniger, who gave the comics a terrifyingly cool, Warhammer 40K-esque style.
    • The Dreamwave comics, before they grew their short-lived beard. The first mini-series was your average G1 cartoon plot only with "edgy" scenes with Decepticons actually, explicitly killing people (which they did anyway in the old stuff, just not with humans). Add to that Pat Lee's atrocious art which was desperately trying to style itself after manga just as anime and manga were getting popular in the US (a useless gesture, as Transformers, especially G1, already had anime/manga stylings).
    • The Live-Action films have plenty of forced attempts to be "hip", despite being intended more for teens and up, what with the rampant swearing, sex jokes, and nightmarish violence. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen infamously had Skids and Mudflap, two obnoxious, gangsta Autobots who were included solely because Hasbro thought kids would like "hip" characters like that.
    • The "Bot Shots" line, presumably made to cash in on the popularity of Bakugan.
  • This version of the Magic 8 Ball replaces the answers with Internet slang like "O RLY?" and "PWNED" and references the "Forever Alone" and LOLCAT memes on the box art. They don't even (mis)spell "cheezburger" right.
  • LEGO:
    • Lego's answer to appealing to the modern generation? The appallingly unsuccessful TikTok ripoff known as Lego VIDIYO, which features characters like "Party Llama", "Discowboy" and "Alien DJ".
    • In a very similar case to the G2 Transformers commercial, for the 2006 Piraka set line, BIONICLE also attempted to promote their sets with a shoddy rap song, as well as forcing the characters into a "gangsta'" setting, complete with the villains lounging around in their fortress which is surrounded with chain fences, sitting on sofas, chewing bubblegum, and doing various other activities that not only had nothing to do with the official story, but clashed something fierce with the image the franchise had built up in the previous years. In fact, beginning in '05, almost all of the commercials had various rock songs attached to them, replacing the tribal music and eventually creeping into the movies.
  • Clue usually takes place in an Edwardian/Victorian setting (as it is a Great Detective / Agatha Christie pastiche), with era-appropriate characters. A new version changes them to modern stereotypes such as an NFL player, socialite and Sillicon Valley CEO.

    Video Games 
  • Epic Mickey: Played with. While it is an attempt by Disney to make Mickey Mouse relevant again, the people really screaming "We're still relevant, dammit!" are the characters in the game. The people living in Wasteland have been abandoned and forgotten by those who created them, and some of them want to use Mickey as a means to leave Wasteland and be loved again. Also an inversion in that their efforts to make Mickey as a character relevant again was by restoring him to how the character was originally portrayed in the early '30s. Special mention goes to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit who happens to be Walt Disney's earliest character before Mickey became his newest flagship, his main motivation in the game is to take out Mickey and take his place. By then Oswald's prominence resurged once again, and he is then featured in newer Disney works.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic is the Trope Maker for the Mascot with Attitude trope. Some fans argue that it's pointless to complain that Sonic is acting Totally Radical in an attempt to become hip and cool and appeal to kids, since (at least in America) Sonic was like this since he was created.
    • The Sonic Adventure games. The more complex and melodramatic stories of these games are an attempt to keep Sonic relevant in an age where RPGs like Final Fantasy were making waves in the industry for their complex stories. The producers themselves envisioned the games as sort of a Sonic RPG, though it's worth noting that Sega already had a storied RPG history with titles like Phantasy Star and Shining Force before Sonic Adventure, and it's also likely this perception arose because the genre's popularity exploded in the West due to Final Fantasy VII, which was relatively close to Sonic Adventure's release date.
    • Shadow the Hedgehog's attempted Darker and Edgier image, specifically the inclusion of guns and swearing, could be seen as Sonic Team's attempt to transplant their early '90s Mascot with Attitude into a radically altered video game industry dominated by Rated M for Money fare like Grand Theft Auto and Halo. It... failed, and is considered by many to be the start of Sonic's Dork Age, one that no-one is sure that he's left yet. While the concept was sound, the execution just wasn't.
    • The Sonic franchise, in general, has been accused of barely clinging to relevancy time and time again. There have been numerous attempts to revitalise Sonic's image with the general public, and the results range from middling to ineffective to only dating him further, partly because of the long list of things that the general public will never let the franchise let slide. For example, Sonic Forces (which post-release just up-and-up put a Sanic shirt into the game as free DLC).
  • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U makes heavy use of references and memes (even really old ones), and the Facebook page never misses a chance to spout a meme or indirectly say that they are very aware of what the fandom thinks. While most people laugh along, sometimes they try so hard it backfires. And Palutena's Guidance, depending on the conversation, just throws multiple memes in a row, to the point it sounds forced for the fans and confusing for those who don't get it.
  • Nintendo localisations made by their in-house company Treehouse have spurred controversies for their uses of memes and Internet jokes in their script (most infamously Xenoblade Chronicles X, Fire Emblem Fates, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds) to the point that Treehouse is seen in a negative light compared to The Pokémon Company (who is also guilty of using memes yet either lampshade how ridiculous it is or keep it to a minimum).
  • While localized by 8-4 rather than Treehouse, the previous Fire Emblem game, Fire Emblem Awakening, also contained a lot of meme references. Examples include a Taken 2 reference in the Robin/Gaius supports, "My body is ready" in Robin/Frederick, and Severa/Laurent referencing a The Hobbit meme that became dated not long after the game came out.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Its attempt to stay relevant after over 10 years on the market was to include Twitter integration and the ability to have your character take selfies in patch 6.1 — attempts that weren't particularly appreciated since they were the only updates the game got during what was otherwise a seven-month dry spell for content after the launch of Warlords of Draenor in November 2014. Some of the references in its expansion packs also come off as desperate attempts to remain relevant.
    • In Warlords of Draenor, there's a Doge reference, long after the meme was relevant.
    • In Battle of Azeroth, one of Princess Talanji's quotes when she's annoyed at the player for clicking on her too much refers to the "YAS QUEEN" meme.
  • Duke Nukem Forever: As the poster child for Development Hell in video games, by the time it finally came out, most of its jokes and references were nearly a decade old. Notable examples include a Take That! to keycard hunting (something that had long since been abandoned with Call of Duty-inspired modern military shooters — worse, its "unique and hilarious" subversion is a quick-time event to pull the door open manually, which by then was an even bigger cliche than keycards could have ever dreamed), a Leeroy Jenkins joke (based on something from 2005), one-liners lifted from Duke Nukem-based YouTube videos made back in 2007, the Holsom Twins (based on people who haven't been relevant since 2004), and a reference to Christian Bale's rant on the set of Terminator Salvation from 2009. The gameplay itself was generally considered similar to that of Halo, which becomes laughable when the protagonist of a game with a two-gun limit and Regenerating Health kicks off a level that is very clearly inspired by one from Halo 2 by proudly proclaiming that "power armor is for pussies" (not to mention it's also out of date, as the height of the Master Chief's popularity was in 2007).
  • Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault uses memes as comedy, has a Totally Radical mission control, and a villain who spits Internet memes and hacks your ship to play the Trololo Song on repeat. Insomniac Games wisely decided to shy away from these references for the next entry in the franchise.
  • Final Fantasy XV: The bonus Gladio and Ignis chapter added in response to fan outcry adds a jab at Kellyanne Conway's "alternative facts" howler. While it's well done and appropriate to the scene, it sticks out a mile in a game where the main story beats had been written over ten years earlier and allegorise a very different political environment.
  • Smite has the release of Such Cold Skadi. A skin for Skadi parodying the Doge meme. The meme was most popular around 2013. The skin was released in 2017, before the character's ironic revival.
  • Heroes of the Storm gives us Zarya's dance emote: dabbing. Not only is this wildly out of character for Zarya, it reeks of Blizzard Entertainment trying to be "hip with the kids". Thankfully, her dance emote in Overwatch is much more sensible: an aerobics routine that involves a lot of flexing.
  • In Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Luigi may dab after he employs a turret when not standing near cover. Unusually, this was met with a fairly warm reception from fans, likely because Mario + Rabbids runs on absurdity, and Luigi's characterization as a cute nerd means it's fairly in character for him to do something "hip" in a (failed) attempt to be cool.
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy updates the dancing skeleton in Ripto's Rage and Year of the Dragon to include flossing (a dance trend popularized by Fortnite that was already a few months out of date when the game was released in December 2018) in his routine instead of a generic pelvis-gyrating move, and adds air horns to the Variable Mix when the player is nearby (slightly more timely due to their popularity in ironic fan remixes, but not by much). This spurred no end of eye-rolling and groaning from the Internet, and it is generally viewed as a painfully obvious attempt to make the character more "hip" and one of the only objective missteps in an otherwise well-received remake.
  • Bethesda's Fallout 76 has been ridiculed for trying to copy contemporary game trends to poor results. Not only is the game an online-only multiplayer game instead of Bethesda's signature single player RPG, but the gameplay is that of a survival game in the vein of DayZ even though the survival genre had receded in popularity by the time 76 was released. Then 76 introduced a Battle Royale mode in a desperate attempt to capture the success of Fortnite, Player Unknowns Battlegrounds, and Apex Legends even though the gameplay doesn't have the polished shooting mechanics and performance necessary to compete with those titans. To make things even worse, the game has been plagued by glitches and bugs, many traced as far back as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, so not only is Fallout 76 trying desperately to jump on the live-service bandwagon but it does so with sloppy execution.
  • Team Fortress 2 is no slouch either. Include Ricardo Milos' hat way past the meme's prime? Yes we can!
  • A trailer for Persona 5 Royal has Takuto Maruki referencing the Salt Bae meme, almost two years after the meme was relevant. Given Maruki's characterization within the game proper as a somewhat socially awkward Nice Guy, however, the scene of him inadvertently showing off his cooking skills in this manner during a school trip (much to the admiration of several female students and much to Maruki's own confusion) was largely seen as funny by players as opposed to the unnecessary shoehorning in of a meme.
  • Bravely Second has numerous memes in the Japanese release, which attracted plenty of criticism. The English release thankfully cut it down, but the localizers couldn't resist throwing some in. The most immediately obvious one is squirrels having an attack called These Nuts.
  • Neptunia has a lot of references to then-recent games that very quickly become dated. This is especially prominent in the localization, due to the lead translator's love of stuffing in memes even when they weren't there in the Japanese script. While some timeless examples like Mario and Tetris exist (especially in the first game), alongside some surprisingly pretty dated note  and obscure stuff, most of the stuff referenced will be from the then-recent past.
  • Mortal Kombat 11 has Shao Kahn use the phrase "Make Outworld great again", which was met with much eye-rolling and accusations of making the game an Unintentional Period Piece.
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle For Bikini Bottom Rehydrated, there's references to several memes from the series like Surprised Patrick and Chicken SpongeBob, as well as a background fish character dabbing.
  • The introduction of the game mode Danger Zone in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive drew some ire for trying to cash in on Battle Royale Games at the height of their popularity.
  • The English localization of Pokémon X and Y reference the Over 9000 meme (which was popular in the late 2000s)... in 2013.
  • Battlefield V was criticized for trying to cash in on the Battle Royale Game craze by offering wacky customizable skins and the post-launch "Firestorm" mode. However, "Firestorm" failed to gain an audience since it was locked behind a purchase of the base BFV game, which limited its appeal to the existing Battlefield fans, many of whom weren't interested in playing a battle royale game.
  • Battlefield 2042 suffered even moreso than Battlefield V. EA & DICE removed the signature class system of the franchise in favor of unique individual soldiers called "specialists", who were given silly outfits and cheerful personalities despite being homeless refugees forced to fight for survival; needless to say, the "specialist" system was seen as a cheap attempt to copy the success of popular Hero Shooter games like Apex Legends and Overwatch. DICE also created a 4 player per team mode, "Hazard Zone", which was a cheap imitation of Escape from Tarkov.

    Web Original 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • Spoofed in the Strong Bad Email "looking old", where Strong Bad makes an effort to look young and hip after an emailer tells him "you really do look old":
      Strong Bad: Now what I need is an image overhaul. Something to reconnect me with the youth of today. Something that says — "Sup my young parsons, I too am so on the go that I drink my yogurt from a tube".
    • They went at it again in their 2010 April Fools' Day cartoon, Xeriouxly Forxe, which soon got its own version of the homepage.
      "Revamped for the nineties!
      So much more exciting!
      "Pointy elbows and lots of lightning!
      Edgy and angry, so zesty and tangy!"
  • TLG Media:
    • Satirized in "A New Bunny", which mocks Loonatics Unleashed as one of the Ur-examples of blatantly trying to make "updated" versions of older characters so that today's kids will like them more.
    Kid: But I don't like you!
    Buzzed Bunny: Hell YES you do!!!
    • Another New Bunny is about the damage-control Warner tried to do when people rebelled against the plans for Loonatics. That is, to try and update the characters, while keeping them the same at the same time.
  • MySpace and its latest Retool into a "Social Entertainment" website, after being driven out of the running by Facebook. Now everyone gets friend requests from fake celebrity pages, oh joy! They also let Jack Black "take over" the site in a publicity stunt.
  • The Agony Booth and the switchover to video recaps as opposed to written ones, which many readers felt was an attempt at turning the site into a Channel Awesome ripoff. It doesn't help that a message pops up when opening one of the old text recaps, begging people to watch their videos.
  • In 2014, the social networking site Foursquare announced that they'd Retool to actively compete with Yelp by becoming a Yelp clone itself, which meant taking away many distinctive features from their Foursquare app and putting them into another app called Swarm. Many longtime Foursquare users have reacted negatively to this.
  • An aversion/lampshade hanging occurred in Bane Plays Slender: The Arrival, as Bane ends the video by ranting about how irrelevant the series is even just a year later — in what turned out to be the last "Bane Plays" video made before a "series finale" in 2016.
    Bane: People don't care about Bane anymore! People don't care about Slender anymore! It's just not 2012 anymore...
  • Related to above, read the YouTube comments on HBO's Beware the Slenderman video, with many mocking HBO's documentary of depicting a meme/creepypasta that died in popularity a full four years beforehand.
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • The Critic criticizes the use of this trope in the things he reviews, pointing out how it doesn't make a movie more clever and simply makes it age faster. When he reviewed James and the Giant Peach, despite thinking it was ridiculous, one of his points of praise was that it didn't try to be cool by invoking this trope.
    • In the revival seasons (starting with Jurassic World), the Critic started making clipless reviews of then-recent movies for two reasons: False copyright claims and their then-recent popularity. This didn't go over well for his fans, since his style of clipless reviews tends to be divisive at best. While some reviews make sense, e.g. covering a remake of a nostalgic property and comparing to the original, more often than not, it feels like the series is just trying to copy the trend of reviewing new movies.
  • Half in the Bag mocks the trailer for Zookeeper for using the song "Low" by Flo Rida and T-Pain in 2011, after its heyday in 2007. They speculated that the film will likely reference things like MySpace as well, all while thinking the trailer was meant to be a parody.
  • Epic Rap Battles of History: In-Universe in the "Jack the Ripper vs. Hannibal Lecter" video. The former says "I'm terrorising London, fuck the 7/7 bombers", which causes the latter to accuse him of trying to stay relevant by stealing from headlines.
  • Ruthlessly mocked in the Brock's Dub parody of Ted 2. Throughout the video Ted keeps making extremely forced references to relatively current topics as the main crux of his jokes in order to remain topical. At first the references are at least vaguely relatable to what's happening on-screen (referencing Twitter while using a phone camera, making forced references to modern feminism in a conversation with a female character, etc.), but eventually Ted just gives up and starts randomly mentioning then-recently popular things in the hopes of getting a laugh.
  • Parodied by Hillary Clinton: Meme Queen 2016, which makes fun of Hillary Clinton's attempts to stay relevant to young voters by having her constantly spout memes.
  • Against all odds, avoided with Disney's "As Told By Emoji" web series, which takes various Disney movies and retells them in short videos that use emojis and emoji-style animation in a phone-related environment. While the concept sounds like an obvious attempt to pander to a smartphone-addicted generation of children and teenagers, the series has been incredibly well-received for being adorable, hilarious and a refreshing take on Disney movies old and new, with many YouTube commenters eager to see more and requesting their favorite movies in the comments.
  • AMV Hell tried to get ahead of the meme curve during their second season of Mini episodes by requiring every video be based on the current hot meme: "What Does The Fox Say?" Between said meme sputtering out in record time, fan backlash, and contributor apathy, it was easily their worst video.
  •, one of the most prominent dictionary sites, in the late 2010s decided to add sections dedicated to documenting slang, pop culture, and memes, akin of Know Your Meme. Perhaps this was to address the ever-evolving lexicon among the younger generation, but it definitely comes off as this.
  • This Platypus Comix article mentions quite a few examples of this trope in 90's media aimed at kids, including, among other things, a Disney Adventures article about Steve Urkel, a Public Service Announcement featuring a dinosaur costume character rapping about recycling, and expies of Chuck Norris appearing in 90's video games.
  • SMG4 has used memes and popular culture since day one. Videos from around 2016 onwards tend to have a heavier focus on them, either due to popular demand or satire purposes.
  • One episode of AOK's Dora the Grown Up has Dora, making a pun on her "Have you ever..." "Me too!" Running Gag, say "Hashtag: Me too!" after the Fake Interactivity pause that follows her question.
  • Many "gaming" related webcomics like Girlz 'N' Games, and some blogs made heavy use of Portal references even after several years of the game being released.
  • Team Four Star has admitted to falling into this trope while making Dragon Ball Z Abridged, saying that you can always tell when an episode was made by the pop culture references it contains, such as Bulma calling her father a "genius billionaire playboy philanthropist" in Episode 30.

    Real Life 
  • Dictionaries with a lot of tradition behind them are sometimes accused of trying to stay relevant when they add "fashionable" words to their listings. For instance, the Oxford English Dictionary was mocked around the Internet after it added the entries "OMG" and "LOL". However, as language is something that constantly evolves, this might only be natural for dictionaries. After all, dictionaries aim to record the language as it is being used today, and the OED records English from all eras, whether they be neologisms or words that have been obsolete for centuries.
  • Science popularizer Neil DeGrasse Tyson has been known to fall in this pitfall from time to time. It makes sense when discussing a science fiction movie's portrayal of space travel, but mentioning Marvel and Game of Thrones on his tweets looks a bit desperate.
  • Windows 8, Ubuntu's Unity, and GNOME 3's interfaces were heavily criticized by desktop users for their mobile-friendly layouts, at a time when iOS and Android tablets and smartphones were displacing PCs for many users. This was compounded by the interface actively making them worse at the things people still preferred PCs for, like office work. Both Windows and Ubuntu later moved to more traditional interfaces in later versions. The Modern, initially known as Metro and later UWP API, is however criticised as it clashed with traditional applications built for the Win32 API — you'll have Windows Store/Modern apps with a more up to date look and feel, and yet there still remains Win32 versions of them for legacy purposesnote  as enterprises and power users tend to use older software which depend on the older API; excise them off Windows and you'd end up potentially losing customers.
  • Many GoAnimate creators have used extensions like Requestly to bring back non-business themes. When the non-business themes were removed as part of that company's transistion to HTML 5 on January 4, 2016, some of those themes were already past their prime, particularly the White Houserz and Politics & Celebrity due to the eventual end of Barack Obama's 2nd term as president of the United States. Ironically, in later years, GoAnimate (now known as Vyond) experienced this themselves, as both businesses and the GoAnimate community itself gradually moved away from using the site directly, in favour of newer platforms like Plotagon, as well as utilising source port programs of the original Legacy Video Maker such as Wrapper Offline and GoAnifire that don't require taking out an expensive subscription to Vyond, thus allowing the community to continue to survive against all odds.
  • When the Academy Awards announced a Best Popular Film category, backlash was immediate as deeming at a conspicuous way to pander to mainstream audiences without exactly fixing the "void" between Oscar Bait and blockbusters, leading to its cancellation. But then 4 years later the Academy did create an Oscars Fan Favorite category that would be decided by social media. Which eventually showed how it could go wrong, as presumed favorite Spider-Man: No Way Home was beaten by three not exactly Oscar Bait films pushed by the fanbases of Johnny Depp (Minamata), Camila Cabello (Cinderella) and Zack Snyder (Army of the Dead).

    In-Universe Examples 
Western Animation
  • BoJack Horseman: Invoked In-Universe with The BoJack Horseman Show. BoJack's motive for creating it was to break his former squeaky-clean image as a sitcom dad from Horsin' Around, and tried to make it the edgiest comedy show possible. This ended up backfiring in a big way, leading to his reputation as a has-been hack of an actor at the start of the series.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): We Are Still Relevant Dammit


Ryder flosses and dabs

Both of these were long-dead trends by the time Pups Save a Glow-In-The-Dark Party had aired.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / WereStillRelevantDammit

Media sources: