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We're Still Relevant, Dammit!
aka: We Are Still Relevant Dammit

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The perils of this trope: how many of you know what the phrase on Jughead's shirt means?note 

"At only a year and a half since the event being referenced, this [see right] 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. 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.

See also Popularity Polynomial, Mascot with Attitude, Discredited Meme, Follow the Leader, Two Decades Behind, Long-Runner Tech Marches On, Society Marches On, Jumping the Shark, Network Decay, Magazine Decay, Pretty Fly for a White Guy, and more than a few Scrappies and cases of Misaimed Marketing. Contrast Growing with the Audience.

Tropes Are Tools aside, this is usually a sign of bad writing, 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 On the other hand, sometimes it works, and, if the alternative is leaving your story looking decades out-of-date....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!
  • An ad for the Nissan Cube features icons such as "Add Friends" when someone other than the driver gets in the car, and "Join Group" when the car parks at an area with other people. The car itself is referred to as the "Cube Mobile Device".
  • Parodied and deconstructed in a 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 songs. This did not get positive reactions. In fairness, though, the previous Tony Hawk-wannabe look he'd been sporting for around 15 years didn't scream this trope any less.
  • 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 attempted this with its 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 scream of this. 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.
  • Vanilla Ice appeared in a Kraft macaroni and cheese commercial to advertise the tie-in with the Michael Bay Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) movie, where he does the "Ninja Rap" he did in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II way back in 1991. Unlike many of the other examples on here it's a parodic example of this trope, since the ad shows Ice working as a grocery store stockboy, and the kid in the commercial isn't nearly as impressed with the rap as his mom is.
  • The Satur-Yay-Aaah!! (no, that's not a typo) commercials from General Mills absolutely reek of this, featuring the Trix Rabbit, Chip the Wolf, Sonny the Cocoa Puffs Bird, a talking orange voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson, a kid voiced by Finn from Adventure Time, 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 animation, 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 trends 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.
  • Many Nickelodeon TV promos post-2014 or so fall under this with frequent usage and showing off of emojis, texting, memes, and even references to "Damn Daniel". There could probably be an entire page of this trope done for them.
  • 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. Note that 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.
    • And then there's "Left Swipe Dat", featuring many popular YouTubers and Vine makers singing a song about rejecting people who smoke on Tinder. It's almost painful to watch.
    • Another campaign warned the audience that secondhand smoke can cause deathly illness in your pets, which is terrible because...we won't be able to watch funny cat videos anymore.
    • Truth in general has been reveling in this as of late 2014, because apparently the way to get younger people to stop smoking is to look hip and modern.
  • 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 ventures into this. For example, boxes from 2016 feature memes such as "This... is... tarta!" and image macro parodies.
  • A series of anti-texting-while-driving PSAs from Australia, called "Don't Be a Dickhead", fall into this trope. It 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.
  • In The '80s, Nestle's reinvented the Milky Bar Kid. While the original Milky Bar Kid adverts had been Western pastiches, with the Kid as The Sheriff protecting a town from black hats with a taste for white chocolate, the new Milky Bar Kid was a Captain Space, Defender of Earth!. The ads more or less worked, but they returned to the classic version later that decade.
  • 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. Unlike The Fairly OddParents! example (which is still a little late because it was in 2016), commercials aren't usually made months in advance, so they really have no excuse.
    • Another Goldfish commercial has a reference to Keyboard Cat (a video uploaded to YouTube in 2007) in 2018.
  • Domino Pizza's "Food of Squads" advert, first aired around September 2017, features four radically-dressed teenagers going around impressing girls, which at one point, one of them pulls out and spins two fidget spinners. This wouldn't be so much of a problem had it aired earlier (around May-July 2017, when they were at their peak of popularity), but by September, the trend was already dying off.
  • This Mentos commercial has a yeti that randomly decides to dab.
  • A Cartoon Network ident from 2018 features various Cartoon Network characters doing dances from the then wildly-popular Fortnite.
  • 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!
  • A promotional image for Sherlock Gnomes features Juliet dabbing.
  • 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.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Osomatsu-san both parodies and plays this straight. The series is a sequel to a classic anime called Osomatsu-kun set ten years after the original. It features a multitude of Shout Outs to modern day Japanese culture. Tropes Are Not Bad, as the references are a large portion of the appeal of Osomatsu-san and is what helped it become popular. In-series, the first episode has the brothers trying to invoke this. They don'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.
  • Pokémon:
    • The radical changes Pokémon 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.
  • Done in Lupin III Part 5, where the Central Theme of the series is the main characters trying to adapt to modern technology and the Internet. The first episode is about Lupin trying to steal cryptocurrency, for instance, and in retaliation the company he stole from, Marco Polo, manages to weaponise social media by effectively crowdsourcing the investigation against Lupin, calling it "The Lupin Game". It works, because it helps raise the stakes and provide new challenges for Lupin and his gang to overcome. Plus, it ends up serving as something of a Reconstruction: Lupin can continue being a Phantom Thief in a world dominated by camera phones and people being able to report on his location at all times because he's that good.
  • The Pretty Series entry Kiratto Pri☆Chan is basically the same as most of the other series in that line-up, but its' focus is on people streaming online videos, which was big when it was release. The characters also use apps and smartphones to transform for lives.
  • Digimon attempted to update itself in 2016 with Digimon Universe Applimonsters, where the Mons were all based on smartphone apps and one of the main characters is a YouTuber — excuse me, AppTuber. A definite Tropes Are Tools example, as the series is tied to technology and the Internet landscape is vastly different than what it was when the franchise began in the early 2000s.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics:
    • Dear old Jughead Jones has often fallen victim to this trope. 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 Jughead 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. At this point Jughead's Genre Shifting has almost become a Running Gag. See this useful Onion AV Club article for more details.
    • 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, and even dubbed 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. They were seen as avoiding the pitfalls of this trope, thus updating a series that was stagnating and in dire need of a shake-up.
  • In the Sixties, Jimmy Olsen was frequently used as the spokesman of this trope. 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 Super Dickery.
  • Manhunter and Blue Beetle had storylines dealing with undocumented immigration, both of which were hit by this trope.
  • There's a Mickey Mouse comic story demonstrating this trope, published in 2008, in which Mickey attempts to join MyPlace (a parody of MySpace) and finds out somebody is already on there impersonating him. (Unfortunately, this story is not yet available in English.)
  • 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. Since that comic came out, MySpace has been largely replaced by other social media, American Idol first dipped heavily in popularity, then ended, and NASCAR has gone 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.
  • The Beano tried this in 2001 with a character called Robbie Rebel, 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 seems to have gone 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 engages in this every now and then, since it's been running for 50 years. They even have a "turn our characters into a memeface" contest on their Facebook page! The series has, to a lesser extent, been dabbling in this trope since the late seventies, when it started migrating from a Peanuts-like comic that has little to no relation to its times, to a pop culture heavy concept, with issue-long parodies of Star Wars and then-current movies. It wasn't helped 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).
    • On the other hand, the characters have also been fuel for this trope, as business and events trying to appeal to kids loved slapping Monica's face (or an Expy's) on a product.
    • This is, however, inverted by the Chuck Billy spinoff comic. Despite it technically taking place during present-day, it pretty much portrays country life as an idyllic 1940ies farming village. His City Mouse cousin's frequent visits make the contrast all the more grating.
  • The Chilean comic Condorito does this: later issues have jokes involving Facebook, Blackberry phones, and many of the covers made a parody 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. Like the Young Avengers example below, the ReTool 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 and are literally 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 has this. 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 has this in the use of Twitter in order to tell us what some people think about the new Inhumans. Also, a 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: As the series went on some stories start to fall into this trope. An example is 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.
  • Works of Dennis Hopeless frequently fall victim to this. 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 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 anti-heroes who killed criminals left and right. This example backfired so bad 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 notorious for this, with comic creators trying to cash-in on the current youth trends and counterculture. A notable example were 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 one 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 suffered a bad case of this when Terry Moore took over, made all the worse because his ideas of how to appear "hip" included having Molly declare that TV is "like YouTube for old people" and having Xavin impersonate Kevin Smith.
  • 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."
  • Nick Spencer's Captain America ran into this with 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 "mainsplain" that causes them to fall under this trope.
  • 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.

  • In the 1990s 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.


    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 4: 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. Considering this is the fourth movie of a franchise that began in 2002, these elements can't help but feel like the filmmakers are falling into this.
  • Aside from a cringeworthy joke about emojis in one trailer and Flo Rida and Meghan Trainor's contributions to the soundtrack, The Peanuts Movie largely defies this trope completely. 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 this trope 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Never Ending 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 be rife with this, complete with a modern setting, an iPhone, and even 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, although it does take 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 '00s 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".
  • An in-universe example is the whole point of The Internship. Two salesmen whose careers have been made obsolete by the digital age try to get a coveted internship at Google.
  • Lifetime's 2014 television film Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever is a perfect (or shall we say, ''purrfect'') example of this trope in action.
  • 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. Basically, 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 accusations of this, 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, well...
  • Peter Rabbit has become widely reviled for this. The timeless countryside feel of the original stories has been given a Setting Update to cram in fart jokes, cultural references and pop music, and even the creators themselves have bragged about it being a "contemporary comedy with attitude". 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 this 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. The film also provides an in-universe example: 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.
  • 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.

  • Browns 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 any more effective as other examples on this list in revitalizing anything.
  • Owing to Values Dissonance and Technology Marches On, post-1980s adaptations of the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have dealt with this trope. 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.
  • This 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 aniversary 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. The most blatant example of this trope was The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which shows Peter in a black beanie and a denim jacket covered in patches, one of which declares him to be "Rad(ish)".

    Live Action TV 
  • The opening for season 14 of Barney & Friends is in a rap style as an attempt to seem modern.
  • Bob Hope constantly attempted this in 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.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Doctor Who sums this trope up with the character of Ace; 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.
    • While not as egregious as some other examples, the new Doctor Who series can suffer from this, too — numerous celebrity cameos and pop-culture references are scattered across multiple episodes but 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 caucausian 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 used this trope by 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). However, this falls more into Soundtrack Dissonance territory just to show how much of a maniac the Master is.
      • Amusingly used in "Cold War", set in the titular war during the eighties on a Russian nuclear sub. Soviet Professor Grisenko is 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 was like this at times. 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.
  • An episode of Power Rangers Dino Thunder, where Ethan and Devin are playing a painfully bad Expy of Yu-Gi-Oh!, screams of this trope.
  • The episode of Today where they did the Harlem Shake (and managed to temporarily kill the meme) for Valentine's Day screamed this.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit does this a lot, 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.
  • Ever since Dr. Santino moved to V3 on Necessary Roughness, annoying instances of this trope have popped up, 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 had an in-universe example. 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 coverings 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) have dealt with this, namely trying to 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 has traces of this: 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, reeks of this trope. 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 does this intentionally 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.
    • The series is inadvertently becoming this as riffs based on pop cultural references current or recently current at the time fade from public consciousness. An annotation of the riffs has been in the works for some time.
  • Insecure has an in-universe example 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!"
  • Superstore has an in-universe example: 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 Inter Species Romance with a human woman.

  • Cracked (which was a print magazine until it went online in 2007), despite usually being pretty good about avoiding this trope, would occasionally stumble into it. One of the worst examples was in 1995, when 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 basically 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.

  • Plenty of Progressive Rock supergroups of The '70s, faced with negative press over their "irrelevance" in the age of punk rock/new wave, sported '80s Hair, streamlined their images and musical styles, made hip music videos, and added high-tech synths to their sound in an attempt to keep up with the times. Some failed (Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Kansas), and some succeeded (Yes, Genesis, Rush, King Crimson). Either way, the bands' earlier fans tended to revolt against the new sounds and styles.
    • In fairness to Rush, their movement away from prog and their incorporation of keyboards was more gradual and natural than most bands, and a number of fan-favorite songs were released during their '80s Synth period. There's no defending their cheesy '80s haircuts and clothes though.
    • For the same reason, KISS ditched their trademark facepaint and costumes in the '80s for a glam look. They've since gone back to their classic style with the album Psycho Circus.
    • Witness, also, Cheap Trick's attempts, at least since their late '70s heyday ended, to update their look, sound and style to fit the times. Heavy synths in the mid-'80s (which gave them their only #1 hit, "The Flame"), a more AOR/pop-metal sound by 1988-93, then more grunge- and alternative-influenced work in The '90s, while groups with a clear lineage to their early work gained success. They've been making inroads into their more influential, early, power-pop sound.
    • This trope, in fact, was the entire reason The Police existed. Stewart Copeland, who had been a drummer for the popular prog-rock combo Curved Air, saw the success that punk groups like the Sex Pistols and The Clash were having, and recruited Sting (out of a small-time jazz combo called Last Exit) and Henri Padovani (who was soon ditched in favor of Andy Summers, himself a member of The Animals and Zoot Money's Big Roll Band from the '60s) to make reggae-tinged punk and hopefully catch some of the punk scene's success. The rest is history.
    • The two major Pink Floyd-related releases of 1987, the official band's A Momentary Lapse Of Reason note  and Roger Waters' Radio KAOS (along with David Gilmour's 1984 solo album, About Face) are awash in then-state-of-the-art synthesizers and drum machine programming, reverberant drums, late-1980s studio techniques, etc. in an attempt to modernize their sound. Though AMLOR and, to a minor degree, KAOS, gained radio airplay and Top 40 success, the sounds or both albums, Waters' effort especially, sound tied to their times.
  • Christian Rock band Petra continuously changed their image and sound during The '80s based on what was popular, with varying results. Their most successful case was an entirely accidental one — the untimely departure of lead singer Greg Volz (who sounds a lot like Steve Walsh from Kansas) in the mid-'80s forced them to bring in John Schlitt (who sounds like every Hair Metal lead singer ever), which led to the peak of their career and their most famous material. The '90s, on the other hand, were their Dork Age, as they attempted to find footing in the age of grunge and alt-rock while still retaining Schlitt on lead and trying to garner airplay on contemporary Christian radio. Eventually, they released one last classic-rock album to appease the long-time fans and then folded. They have since reunited with their 40th anniversary album released in 2013.
  • Metallica preemptively pulled this trope between the albums Load and St. Anger; during that time period, they tried to adapt to the rising Alternative Metal trends by changing their sound, hair and logo. After the... erm... "not so well-received" album St. Anger, they finally returned to their trademark thrash sound that we all know and love on Death Magnetic.
  • Herbie Hancock spent most of the seventies and eighties jumping from genre to genre. He tried fusion, disco, funk and electronica, sometimes combining several of these.
  • In 1981, Village People, those 1970s disco icons, tried to adapt to a new decade by discarding their macho gay look and adopting a New Romantic one. The result was less than convincing.
  • Elton John has stayed (or tried to stay) contemporary for many decades, with mixed results. He dabbled with Philadelphia soul with "Philadelphia Freedom", disco on Victim Of Love, new wave and synth-pop on parts of The Fox and Jump Up!, experimented heavily with contemporary synthesizers and drum machines in The '80s and The '90s (especially 1985-1993), planned to record a Hip-Hop album with Eminem's producers before Proof's death, and returned to basics with Songs From The West Coast after hearing the Alternative Country of Ryan Adams in 2001. Part of the trend may have been aggravated by Elton's Signature Style of singer-songwriter Piano Pop, which was rarely fashionable in rock in the first place.
  • Korn's announcement that their album The Path of Totality would consist of a blend of their traditional sound and brostep rather smacked of this trope.
  • Carlos Santana has done this multiple times over the years, teaming up with the likes of Rob Thomas for "Smooth" in 1999 and Chad Kroeger for "Into the Night" in 2007. However, his timeless "psychedelic Latin jazz" sound has never gone away, either.
  • U2's announcement that their next album(s) would be variously produced by Danger Mouse,, and David Guetta sounds suspiciously like this trope. It wouldn't be the first time either, since they did record Achtung Baby, one of the most successful albums specifically designed to make a band relevant once again.
    • Songs Of Innocence quite literally invoked this trope, as the album was self-downloaded onto nearly every iTunes account upon release. Bono later confessed that this was done out of fear that the band would lose relevance, especially after their prior album (No Line On The Horizon) "underperformed" commercially.
  • R.E.M. spent most of their career trying to avert being part of any trend, but they still managed to have rappers on both 1991's "Radio Song" and 2004's "The Outsiders". On both occasions it does work with the music, but it was Out of Character for them. The former has dated because the rap style is in the '80s rap style, but the latter hasn't due to being more influenced by jazz rap. On the other hand, "The Outsiders" was on Around the Sun, from a period that even the band themselves consider a Dork Age.
  • During The '80s, when disco was, well, Deader Than Disco, The Bee Gees tried to reinvent themselves (again) with pop ballads. But everyone associated them with disco, so the Retool didn't work. (It had a decade earlier, when they went from a band not unlike The Beatles to a disco group, but didn't work this time.) Only in the United States though. In England, their Eighties and Nineties output was well-received. (Even in America, international hits from their latter-year albums are featured heavily.)
  • The Bee Gees' Robin Gibb tried a solo comeback in 2003 with Magnet, nearly 20 years after his last solo album. Unfortunately, Robin -- a mid-50s Englishman -- tried his hardest to sound as relevant as the young pop stars of the day, including attempts at hip hop and lyrics about getting his 'freak on.' The album was a massive flop, and ended up being one of the most embarrassing items in the history of the Bee Gees. (The fact that he followed it up with one of the worst live albums in history didn't help.)
  • The Rolling Stones' 1978 album Some Girls was a very deliberate response to critics who had dismissed them as outdated in the face of Punk Rock and disco. It paid off big time, and the Stones pointed out that numerous punk rockers had grown up listening to them. It's also helped that they've absorbed many different music styles over the years, while still retaining their core blues-rock sound.
  • David Bowie:
    • Bowie determined his Let's Dance sound and persona based on what he expected would make him a huge amount of money, hopping on the New Wave Music trend with enthusiasm. The album is excellent stuff and sold more than anything else he did, as well as providing an accessible Gateway Persona to the rest of his catalogue, earning him tons of money from sales of his weirder older albums too. This commercial success and cultural relevance was absolutely unprecedented, and Bowie, who had been struggling under a nasty contract at his last label, decided to ignore his instincts and stick with the pop persona. This gave him writer's block, and it shows. Tonight and Never Let Me Down, his two succeeding '80s pop albums, are more of the same trend-riding without the level of quality and novelty of Let's Dance, leading to his core fanbase feeling like he'd sold out and the mainstream music public ignoring them (though both albums sold quite well regardless). Most of the music from this period which is still listened to are his movie soundtrack tie-in singles (which tended to reflect the tone and setting of the movies they were written for rather than ride trends obsessively) and the tracks "Loving the Alien" and "Time Will Crawl" (which were the only songs from Tonight and Never Let Me Down that retained the artistic, socially-conscious leanings of much of his earlier work).
    • Bowie's "Tin Machine" era, considered another Dork Age right after his 80's Dork Age, is probably his most complete example. More so than any other Bowie era (save perhaps for his fumbling pre-fame records), it felt like an aesthetic decided by what he felt the prevailing trend for music was going to be, and he wasn't even wrong — the trouble was that he ended up going back to a strain of '70s rock he'd never played a lot of in the '70s instead of creating something genuinely new, and then didn't do that particularly well. It wasn't a fundamentally bad idea for Bowie to look to the American Alternative Rock scene and look at the guitar trend gathering momentum, or for him to start making raw rock music just at the point when the slick and synthy '80s R&B-pop that dominated the charts before then was really beginning to turn listeners' stomachs. Unfortunately, what he ended up with was a load of dated-sounding pub-rock with stupid lyrics, just going to show that even creators as savvy and inventive as Bowie can get burned by this trope. The Grunge movement would appear a couple of years later to do the same sort of thing Bowie had been expecting would happen, but also showing just how clueless Bowie's attempt at inventing it was. Interestingly, the Tin Machine era would become very much Vindicated by History, thanks to continuously emerging information regarding how influential the group actually was on 1990's Alternative Rock, particularly grunge. Among other things, Tim Palmer (who produced both of Tin Machine's albums) recalled how, while doing the mixing for Pearl Jam's Ten, he went into the studio and found the band listening to "Heaven in Here"; it seems that Bowie did end up thinking ahead in the long run.
    • Despite his notorious penchant for the New Sound Album, Bowie largely stayed ahead of the curves that come along in music and avoided accusations of trend-jumping, owing in part to both his strong Creator Thumbprint as a lyricist and his compelling stage presence. Of course, that's not to say he wasn't completely immune outside of his 1984-1992 slump — he was mocked quite heavily in the British music press over 1997's Earthling: an intelligent drum 'n' bass-heavy album written by an artist who had just turned 50 years old screamed this trope (though it has since been partly Vindicated by History).
  • Michael Jackson, according to producer Quincy Jones, didn't think rap music would catch on back in The '80s. He still tried to cultivate an edgier, tough "street image" with 1987's Bad, specifically with the title song's music video (in which he plays a reformed gang member), but while the album sold well and garnered five #1 singles, his look and attitude were roundly mocked. He struggled with this trope for the rest of his career. 1991's Dangerous tried to update his sound with new jack swing, hip-hop, and rap stylings via hiring big-name producers and featuring guest spots from Heavy D, Wreckx-n-Effect, and Slash, and the music videos featured trendy celebrities such as Macaulay Culkin, Iman, Eddie Murphy, Magic Johnson, Naomi Campbell, Michael Jordan, and even Bart and Homer Simpson (which also explains that Simpsons episode where Jackson — under the name John Jay Smith — plays a mental patient who thinks he's Michael Jackson). Ten years later, David Browne commented in his Entertainment Weekly review of Invincible that Jackson "appears to be so lacking in confidence that he's top-loaded the album with every conceivable collaborator he could call, from Carlos Santana and Babyface for the oldsters to Rodney Jerkins and rapper Fats for the kids."
  • Averted by Janet Jackson, who embraced hip-hop early in her career. Her collaborations with rappers and hip-hop producers have always been better-received than her brother's because it's a more natural part of her music rather than a blatant attempt at appealing to young people. Janet being perceived as more down-to-earth than Michael and lacking his eccentricities doubtlessly helped preserve her career as well.
  • Lampshaded in the 1980 Billy Joel song "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me." In keeping with the emerging punk and New Wave trends, the song and its album Glass Houses were noticeably more forceful than a lot of his other works, while the lyrics take a cynical view of a music executive urging a musician to change his image for a younger audience.
    • He also seemed to fall victim to this with his 1986 album, The Bridge, incorporating Synth-Pop and New Wave influences, along with a duet with Cyndi Lauper on "Code of Silence".
  • Parodied by "Weird Al" Yankovic with "It's Still Billy Joel To Me."
  • MC Hammer in the early '90s showed how fast this can happen. At the beginning of the decade, he was the face of rap. Perhaps boasting that "U Can't Touch This" stuck harder than he thought, because by the mid-'90s the Darker and Edgier Gangsta Rap was flourishing, and quite a few of its stars made no bones about how much they despised Hammer, his big bouncy pants and his dance- and party-oriented sound. After 2 years between albumsnote , he came back with The Funky Headhunter, exchanging the pants for a watch cap, cussing a little bit, rapping about tough times on the street and generally trying to show how gangsta he was, too. His fans didn't desert him—the record still sold well—but the gangsta fans weren't impressed, and so began his slow slide, as chronicled on Behind The Music, toward losing the multimillion-dollar house he'd built in the Oakland hills and all the other money he'd made.
    • Ironically, Hammer has a darker reputation behind the scenes according to other credible Rap stars (much to their horror), with many in the business being aware of his gang connections and tendency to threateningly confront and sometimes try to place hits on other rappers; reportedly, at least one attempt actually succeeded. It's also little-known that Hammer planted the seeds for the East/West beef by dissing L.L., Run (of Run-D.M.C.), & Dougie Fresh on Let's Get It Started. And dissed Run again on Turn This Mutha Out.
  • A famous early example within the music industry isn't so much a performer as a label—CBS Records' infamous late 1960s "The Man Can't Bust Our Music" and "The Revolutionaries are on CBS" ad campaigns intended to show how different things were at CBS (later Columbia; now Sony) from the days when rock-hating Mitch Miller had passed on both the Beatles and Elvis.
  • Slayer, for about a decade, was a major victim of this trope. To put it simply: the band tried to "modernize" their sound in 1998 with the Nu Metal-influenced "Diabolus In Musica." After that album's rather lukewarm critical and commercial success and (more importantly) numerous accusations of being unable to compete with the countless bands that they had influenced in terms of brutality, the band tried to Win BACK The Crowd with 2001's "God Hates Us All." An album with an unusual amount of swearing for a Slayer record and some other very obvious shock tactics (such as a picture of the Holy Bible with nails and the Slayer logo burned onto it). Unfortunately, the only thing people found even remotely shocking about the record was something completely unintended: it was released on September 11, 2001. Another controversial tactic was dissing their fellow act Machine Head and vocalist Robert Flynn for basically doing the same thing they were trying to do with Diabolus (Machine Head's albums The Burning Red and Superchanger leaned into rap-metal territory). Hypocrisy wasn't lost on them, and it resulted in a bitter feud between the two. After realizing they were trying way too hard to remain relevant in the extreme metal scene they ironically helped to create, the band slowly moved away from the Nu Metal influences and shock tactics of those two albums with 2006's Christ Illusion. And then, in 2009, they released World Painted Blood, an album many consider to be their best and most genuine since the early '90s. They still play material off of GHUA here and there, but Diabolus has been entirely disowned by the band and is viewed as an embarrassing footnote in their history and a particularly misguided attempt to keep up with the times.
  • Five Iron Frenzy broke up in 2003, then reunited about a decade later to record a new album, Engine of a Million Plots. Rather than changing their style to fit the times (Engine still sounds like the last albums FIF put out pre-breakup) they wrote a song to joke about how out-of-touch they were. The song in question is "Battle Dancing Unicorns With Glitter", where they reference trends in the most awkward way possible ("12 o'clock! Party rock! We're hip hopping and we can't quite stop!"), aggressively insist that their awesomeness is beyond dispute, and admit in the bridge that "We're fighting just to stay relevant."
  • To certain pop fans Christina Aguilera doing two consecutive electropop albums in 3 years. Very few people outside her most diehard fans backed it. Bionic got mass promo for 4 or 5 months straight and then was disowned, as was Lotus.
  • Rush fell victim to this in the eyes of certain subsets of fans after Moving Pictures, which just also happened to be generally regarded as the peak of their career. Though their initial foray into popular '80s synth technology, Signals, was well-received, the drastically slicker and more melodramatic sounds they utilized on the following three releases gave a strong impression of the band conforming to the style of Top 40 pop music at the time. Even when they ditched the emphasis on synthesizers at the end of the decade, they placed a heavy emphasis on funk and other "urban" influences (most infamously the rap breakdown in "Roll the Bones") for their singles—at a time when many other popular acts were doing the same thing. And it definitely didn't help when they went for a Darker and Edgier sound rooted in heavy guitar distortion when that sort of thing became the popular music norm ("Stick it Out" and "Driven" are especially obvious genre emulation grabs). It would be the release of Vapor Trails that finally marked the end of the band's two decade-long trend-following focus.
  • Madonna's post-90's output smacks of this trope. While she has always been known for reinventing her image, her last few albums (especially MDNA) have been heavily criticized for pandering to modern-day trends without really doing anything new or unique. It's also worth noting that for the first 20 years of her career, she rarely collaborated with other big-name artists and had either distance or rivalry with most of her peers like Cyndi Lauper, Janet Jackson, and Whitney Houston. Nowadays she still doesn't interact much with the artists of her era, but has been aggressively seeking to share the spotlight with younger pop stars like Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, and Ariana Grande, as well as trying to be Ms. Fanservice in her fifties and beyond. It all makes her seem less like the legend she is and more like an Amazingly Embarrassing Parent trying to party with her daughter's friends.
  • Smash Mouth's 2012 album Magic has a song called "Justin Bieber". This is justified by the fact that the song is about the narrator pondering things that have went out or should go out of style, such as Glee covering "everything except a song of mine"—which becomes Hilarious in Hindsight with the show ending in 2015. On the other hand, it does not seem very timely to have J. Dash (maker of "Wop") appear twice as a guest. Also, their 2016 single "Love is a Soldier" reeks of this even more, as the band tries out EDM to...mixed results.
  • Megadeth's 2001 album The World Needs a Hero is a textbook example of this trope. After unsuccessfully trying to appeal to pop/alternative music fans with 1999's Risk, TWNAH was hyped as a return to the thrash metal stylings the band became famous for. While it at least delivered on the promise of being heavier than Risk, it ended up sounding like a bland and tired version of their mid-'90s heavy metal rather than the amazing thrash metal of albums like Rust In Peace. The album's biggest indicator of the band's desperation, however, came from its inclusion of a vastly inferior sequel to their Signature Song "Hangar 18" called "Return To Hangar." Fortunately, the band more-or-less had their true Win Back the Crowd moment after frontman Dave Mustaine's 10-Minute Retirement with 2004's The System Has Failed.
  • Rascal Flatts' 2015 album Rewind smacks of this: the title track contains a George Strait name-drop on the heels of his highly-publicized final tour; "Payback" has a hard-rock sound atypical of the band, with street slang in its lyrics and a mention of Instagram; and "I Like the Sound of That" was written by Meghan Trainor and name-drops Justin Timberlake.
  • Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler made forays into Country Music in The New '10s. While his first country release, "Love Is Your Name", averted this, his second, "Red, White & You", falls firmly into this. The song is an absolutely awkward mishmash of "bro-country" tropes that Florida Georgia Line has already beaten to death (hot girls, trucks, America, name-drops of popular artists) while also shoehorning in some laughably jingoistic lyrics that even Toby Keith would shake his head at ("All the bad girls rockin' those cut off jeans, and good old boys driving Big Machines / And you can kiss my ass, can't help but say, it's good to be Born in the USA").
  • Mark Chesnutt did this in his 2004 single "I'm a Saint", which contains the line "I know Justin sings lead for *NSYNC, so my kids think I'm cool", even though the band in question had been disbanded for a couple years at this point. It really sticks out in his discography, as other than a cover of "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" that was apparently forced on him by his label, his music has been hardcore honky-tonk that practically went out of its way to be timeless.
  • From "Turn On the Radio" by Reba McEntire: "Try to go Twitter me / Text until your fingers bleed". It particularly stands out as the song is about getting back at an ex by playing a song on the radio, which makes the whole song seem strangely anachronistic.
  • Avril Lavigne's "Hello Kitty" definitely came off as this. It was released in 2013, right as Lavigne was being passed over in favor of pop stars like Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Kesha and Lady Gaga, and the Pop Punk style she played for was falling out of style in favor of electronic-influenced pop and rock. The song was both an attempt to capitalize on her fandom in Japan (with the music video being filmed in Tokyo and Gratuitous Japanese thrown in the lyrics) and the aforementioned EDM boom by having a dubstep beat playing (which by then was seeing its popularity wane in favor of other electronic genres). The song was a flop and only sped up the free-fall Lavigne's career was in, cementing the perception the public had of her as a relic of the 2000s.
  • Heino, a German musician best known for his renditions of old-timey German folk music and various sentimental ballads during the 60s and 70s, seemed to have fallen into this during the first half of The New '10s, from covering metal songs by groups like Rammstein to releasing an album of hard rock/metal versions of songs like the Beer Barrel Polka. The cover of the latter album really says it all, especially when compared to his more typical albums.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Similar to the above Jughead image are the occasional attempts at current events humor in The Family Circus. The general concessions to changing times — the toys the Not Allowed to Grow Up kids are seen playing with or the shows they watch — are subtle and actually topical. But these days any attempts at mining humor from that result in odd, unfunny jokes such as Billy saying that Daddy's cartoons would look better in HD. Then there was Dolly dressing up as Sarah Palin for Halloween 2008 (which wasn't even presented as a joke), while Billy and Jeffy were dressed up as Iron Man and Batman respectively.
    • An odd example for 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. 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 Pokemon GO on top of two kids being dressed as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
    • Seanbaby points out the awkwardness of this 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 has taken to this. The jokes have generally been 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 occasionally delved into this, usually through having Snoopy picking up on then-current fads. This arguably reached its apex (or nadir) with 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.
    • Peppermint Patty owes her entire existence to this trope. At the height of the late 1960s feminist movement, Schulz decided he needed 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.
  • 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.
    • Then there's this 2015 example from B.C., which randomly references Rage Comics.
  • Dick Tracy fell into this in the '60s and '70s as original writer Chester Gould tried desperately to keep the strip relevant with the changing times. This led to him giving the strip a sci-fi swerve, where Tracy met the moon people and the police force gained moon technology — his son even married 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 pinned Tracy down and shaved 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 references like this (although he did have Tracy fight a terrorist with the Punny Name of Al Kinda, and introduced a communications officer called Lt. Teevo). The current team of Curtis and Staton have included 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 in a combination of this trope and 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.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • WWE commentators constantly mentioning Twitter or current pop culture comes across this way 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.
    • One example came 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 another example of this trope, Big Brother seasons 10 and 11 alum Jessie Godderz! To be fair, the two have gained somewhat of a following as comedy jobbers.
  • 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 has always been doing this. They 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.
  • In Professional Wrestling this trope is used well when it's deliberately invoked 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.

    Puppet Shows 

  • The Archers lives and breathes this, 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 even weather events (such as flooding arcs during periods of heavy downpour in real life).

  • Andrew Lloyd Webber is fond of this sort of thing, much to the general dismay of fans of his work. 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". Tugger's update was met with criticism. Both critics and theatre fans condemned the re-working of the character, and so in the end it was phased out in favour of the original.
  • 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 even sending emails on a laptop (as opposed to, say, texting on a smartphone as has become more common) now date that version.

  • The premise of a toylines 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.
  • 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, still fell victim to this trope in the early 1990s with the introduction of the Eco-Warriors and Drug Elimination Force. (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 it's 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 were another good example of this trope before they grew their short-lived beard. The first mini-series was basically an 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, specifically G1, already had anime/manga stylings). The IDW comics are a lot better in this regard, partly because they're intended for adults and don't have to pander to kids in order to sell toys.
    • The Live-Action films have a lot of this too, despite being decidedly not for kids, 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.
    • Transformers seems to be a magnet for this trope. Another example would be the "Bot Shots" line, presumably made to cash in on the popularity of Bakugan.
  • 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. This was not the first example: beginning from '05, just about all of the commercials had various rock songs attached to them, replacing the tribal music and even creeping into the movies.
  • This version of the Magic 8 Ball.
  • 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 a NFL player, socialite and Sillicon Valley CEO.

    Video Games 
  • Disney's Epic Mickey plays with this trope. 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:
    • Shadow the Hedgehog: This game'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 had this accusation thrown against it 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).
    • However, it should be noted that Sonic is the Trope Maker for the Mascot with Attitude trope. Fans sometimes 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.
  • 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's 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 coincided with what was otherwise a six-month dry spell for content. It has also dabbled into this trope before with some of the references in its expansion packs in order to remain relevant.
  • Duke Nukem Forever is fairly notorious for this. 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), 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 near-exact copy of a level 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 not to do things like this for the next entry in the franchise.
  • If increasing levels of content from 2010s pop culture (especially Undertale and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic) and videos made to tie in to contemporary games, movies, comics, and shows are anything to go by, M.U.G.E.N may be accused of this. It doesn't help that lots of older characters are nowhere near as popular as they used to be.
  • The bonus Gladio and Ignis chapter added to Final Fantasy XV 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 the very different political environment that had existed then.
  • Smite fell into this with 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.
  • Although the game itself is still fairly new, as well as the game the character in question came from, 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. Unlike many instances of this trope, it was met with a fairly warm reception from fans. This was likely because Mario + Rabbids runs on absurdity, and Luigi's characterization as an Adorkable 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.

    Web Original 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • Satirized in the Strongbad Email looking old, where Strongbad makes an effort to "reconnect with the youth of today":
    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".
    "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" (very, very NSFW language). It mocks Loonatics Unleashed, mentioned below, 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. This exchange exemplifies this trope:
    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.
  • The Music Video Show accuses Gwen Stafani of doing this in the mid-2000s.
  • MySpace and its latest Retool into a "Social Entertainment" website, after being driven Deader Than Disco 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 has came off as this to some. Many feel that they are now just a That Guy with the Glasses 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 notes 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 in 2012.
  • 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.
    • This would soon follow suit in the revival seasons (starting with Jurassic World) with the Critic making making clipless reviews of then-recent movies for two reasons: False copyright claims and their then-recent popularity. However, it didn't fare any well for its fans since his style of clipless reviews tend to get divided in most cases. While some reviews sometimes make sense when covering a remake of a nostalgic property and comparing said remake to its source material, 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 has an In-Universe case of this 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.
  • The Reddit subreddit "r/fellowkids" is devoted to showing off examples of this trope.
  • 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, averted 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.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Disney was pretty bad at this in The '80s — chiefly, it tried to keep its core characters timely by releasing albums of original songs for said characters after the surprisingly successful Mickey Mouse Disco in 1979. Follow-ups included Mousercise (which became the basis, as well as title, for a relatively successful exercise show on The Disney Channel), Splashdance (though the Flashdance connection was only in the title), and Totally Minnie. The last was accompanied by a very odd television special where Minnie, dressed like the young Madonna and accompanied by Elton John (who was, by the mid-to-late Eighties, enjoying success on the pop charts and MTV) in what may be the most embarrassing costume he ever wore, taught people to "be hip". (If you never, ever want to see Suzanne Somers in a fedora, striped pants and suspenders, or Vanna White getting mashed by Pluto...) Also, Donald Duck became a skateboarder. And then, after a dry spell, there was the infamous Mickey Unrapped album in The '90s...
    • The cartoons on the 1990s The Disney Afternoon block on ABC had the premise of taking old classic characters and updating them in new settings with new clothes and, occasionally, new personalities... usually to reflect what was "in" at the time. Huey, Dewey and Louie got theirs in Quack Pack, for example, where they aged into hip teenagers. Donald ditched his iconic sailor suit in favor of a Hawaiian shirt, and Daisy Duck became a sassy, assertive woman. Donald Duck (especially in the comics) is often the go-to character for this trope. With all the fads he's joined, all the different jobs he's had, and all the many, many things he's been an "expert" on in various stories, Donald is the one classic Disney character who can pull off Totally Radical and have his character remain completely unaltered. Hawaiian-shirted cameraman for a popular TV show? Sure, why not? You know that next month he'll try to be an astronaut or get hooked on sushi or be an Internet millionaire or whatever.
    • Goof Troop, as good as it was, is a pretty obvious example of old characters trying to be hip and current for the modern day (just listen to the opening theme). They updated Goofy and Pete into modern neighbors with pre-teen sons. It was successful enough to spin off into two movies, with the end result of having Max Goof as a new character. Tropes Are Not Bad.
    • Between shows on the Disney Channel comes ''Blam!" This segment takes classic Disney shorts and adds an obnoxiously "cool" announcer, who shouts out "BLAM!" whenever a character (usually Goofy) gets hurt, all while making really bad jokes mostly consisting of puns. If that weren't enough, the clips would then rewind and play again in slow-mo so squeeze more jokes out. Parodies followed.
  • By far, the most embarrassing attempt to make an older character "cool" to young people was the all-but-forgotten series Yo Yogi! It had a teenaged Yogi Bear dressed in neon pink and green, solving mysteries, and hanging out in Jellystone Mall. Magilla Gorilla was transformed into a rapping snowboarder named Magilla Ice, Dick Dastardly was teenage troublemaker "Dicky D", and certain scenes were designed to be viewed with 3-D glasses (a minor fad during the late 80s and early 90s), which looked awkward to say the least. Surprisingly (or not), this is the last television series to star Yogi Bear. Yo Yogi! (along with the rest of NBC's Saturday morning cartoons) failed so badly that NBC decided to eighty-six their entire animated lineup in order to create an all-teen block in order to take advantage of Saved by the Bell's success and, later, expand the Today show to Saturdays.
  • An earlier Hanna-Barbera example would be The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show, which likewise depicted the youngsters from The Flintstones as '70s-style teenagers (at least they got to grow older).
  • The last couple of years of Looney Tunes production, 1967-69, saw the "classic" characters mostly abandoned (actually only Daffy, Speedy, Sylvester, the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, the last Bugs Bunny cartoon was released in 1964), while the studio put out a series of cheap and terrible cartoons starring a bunch of now wholly-forgotten characters. The worst was Cool Cat, who was supposed to be hip and mod and cool but was not much more than a Pink Panther rip-off (not even having impressionist Larry Storch as a voiceover could do much) not to mention that the "mod" craze of 1964-66 was dying off by that time. The last Looney Tunes cartoon ever, "Injun Trouble", had Cool Cat entering a topless club and exiting with the line "So cool it now, ya hear?" Another late-period bit of desperation brought "Bunny and Claude", an Outlaw Couple of rabbits patterned after Bonnie and Clyde.
  • The aforementioned Loonatics Unleashed attempts a Darker and Edgier version of the 1930s-1960s Looney Tunes shorts and got a considerable amount of stern criticism and Internet Backdraft as a result. There are a few other shows (and movies) that feature Looney Tunes related characters that also flopped, but nowhere near to the degree of Loonatics Unleashed. The Looney Tunes Show can be considered a somewhat more successful attempt, taking the classic characters (and Lola, of course) and putting them in a sitcom setting.
  • The Scooby-Doo franchise has done this quite a bit, largely when Warner Bros. took over production of the franchise. What's New, Scooby-Doo? is a notable example, with heavy enforcing of the latest technology of the time, parodies of popular movies and reality TV shows of the time, pop and rock music of the time being featured, and simply trying to be "hip" and "up to date." Even more notorious was Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!, which many felt to be the franchise's equivalent of the aforementioned Loonatics Unleashed, especially considering both came out around the same time.
  • South Park heavily uses this trope, due to the speed at which episodes can be made, including remaking planned episodes on the fly. For example, the quintuplets episode got changed from just about creepy quintuplets to being about Elian Gonzales' capture just after the raid and his return to Cuba.
    • The episode "About Last Night" was about the winner of the presidential election broadcast the night after the election. And featuring verbatim lines from Obama's victory speech, to boot. The sequence was animated ahead of time but the voice acting was done only a couple of hours before airtime. Some of this was also luck — they'd originally wanted to have an alternate episode ready if McCain won, but decided to assume Obama would win and guessed that if he lost, nobody would notice an episode of South Park in the ensuing frenzy. This same situation happened four years later with the episode "Obama Wins!".
      • This practice finally came around to bite them in the ass four years after that with "Oh Geez", in which the South Park crew, having assumed that Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 presidential election, found themselves having to completely redo half the episode in less than 24 hours when Donald Trump won instead. This couldn't have come at a worse time, since season 20 was the first season that was fully serialized (unlike past seasons, where episodes were either completely self-contained or, at best, very loosely connected by a vague overarching plot line). Because a significant portion of the season's plot as planned depended upon the crew's election prediction, most of the main story arcs ended up getting completely derailed afterwards. As a result, season 20 would also be the last fully serialized season, with the seasons immediately following returning to the "vaguely connected, but mostly self-contained episodes" structure of seasons 18 and 19.
    • South Park can be (and has become) so incredibly topical that it possibly inverts this trope. Just for reference, an episode can be finished in three days (watch the documentary "Six Days to Air," which outlines how a South Park episode is created). This includes writing, animating, and voicing it.
    • Ironically, one problem the South Park writers have encountered is that they catch on too soon. Often they'll have a plot revolving around a fad sit on the shelf until they're sure audiences know what they're lampooning. This was the reason they held off on doing episodes about people misdiagnosing themselves with Tourette's and Asperger's syndrome for several years.
    • The show is not at all immune to falling victim to this trope unintentionally, as many 2000s episodes feature topics that have long since faded to obscurity. For example, one late 2000s episode was about The Jonas Brothers purity ring controversy. Most people nowadays don't remember the Jonas Brothersnote , and far fewer remember the purity ring controversy.
  • Of late, there has been some nostalgia (mostly of the So Bad, It's Good kind) for The Super Mario Bros Super Show!. More specifically, people remember the cartoon hosted by wrestler Captain Lou, who starred as Mario in live-action framing segments. Almost nobody fondly remembers the "Club Mario" incarnation of the same series. The Captain Lou segments were deemed no longer cool and were swapped out for two Totally Radical dudes hosting wraparounds that had no thematic connection to Mario at all.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head's relaunch was a debatable case of this — on the one hand, referencing things like Twilight and Super Size Me in 2011 does come off as the writers painfully trying to stay hip. On the other hand, it provided interesting jumping off points for the duo's misadventures. "Werewolves of Highland" is about the concept of Vampires Are Sex Gods, and the duo trying to take advantage of that to get chicks. "Supersize Me" has them following in Morgan Spurlock's footsteps (gorging on fast food and filming themselves doing so) in hopes of becoming similarly famous and (again) getting chicks.
    • The commentary segments featured the pair watching clips MTV's then-current non-musical programs like Teen Mom and Jersey Shore as well as music videos, which probably did not help much either.
  • King of the Hill has had a few examples, such as The MySpace-centric episode when Strickland Propane starts networking with MySpace to bring in customers, and "Get Your Freak Off," which features an 'NSYNC-esque boy band as an important part of its plot.
  • The revived Futurama episodes make many pop culture references to things such as panic over the alleged 2012 apocalypse (which has come, gone, and proven to be a crock), President Obama's allegedly not having a birth certificate (even though he does), and other things from the late 2000s and early 2010s. While it can be stated that Futurama had a lot of catching up to do satire-wise after being canceled for so long, some fans are worrying that this trope is making the Comedy Central episodes of Futurama more like the latter-day episodes of The Simpsons. Sadly, this may have contributed to its recancellation in 2013. Either that, or it's yet another instance of Futurama getting Screwed by the Network.
  • Family Guy:
    • The pilot references the "Just One Fox" advertising slogan commonly used at the time of Super Bowl XXXIII, and was more relevant to those watching the premiere as the lead out program of the game compared to watching the series in reruns and on DVD.
    • The writers mocking Jimmy Fallon for his corpsing in the episode "Don't Make Me Over," which aired in June 2005.
    • The episode in which they reference Leeroy Jenkins and re-enact the video. The episode in question aired in 2018. The Leeroy Jenkins video was made in 2005, before YouTube. They then decided to point out how weird it was there were so many internet references
  • American Dad!:
    • "Honey, I'm Homeland" which aired in April 2014 is about Stan being brainwashed by some people from the Occupy movement.
    • The June 2016 episode "Garfield and Friends" indirectly alludes to the then-upcoming presidential election and closes with a reference to the "Deal with it" meme.
  • The Fairly OddParents! may be falling into this, seeing as one episode was about Timmy wishing for his mom to have a popular YouTube channel, and Cosmo and Wanda taking selfies and making duck-lips scenes in "The Big Fairy Share Scare" (Chloe's first appearance), and another was about Timmy wishing for a super-smartphone. Yet another was the episode "Finding Emo", where Timmy wishes he could be emo (amongst wishing he was a jock and a "sensitive guy") so he could impress a girl. At least the smartphone episode had a Shout-Out to HAL though. And then "Certified Super Sitter," which aired in early 2017, had Poof randomly imitate Donald Trump.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Season 4 has been accused of this, due to references to Internet memes from a pony with a Grumpy Cat cutie mark in "Rarity Takes Manehattan" to a ponified Slender Man appearing in the background of "Pinkie Apple Pie". note 
    • This actually goes back to the season 2 premiere (which aired late 2011) where Pinkie makes a very non-subtle reference to "Chocolate Rain".
    • Pinkie Pie's rap number in "Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3" appears to be a parody of this trope. Later in the episode, Pinkie tries it again, but Twilight is quick to remind her that it won't help with the current situation.
  • This is one aspect that started getting focused on more in the Kids' WB seasons of Animaniacs. The show started throwing far more direct references and parodies to movies like Speed, Forrest Gump, and Fargo, shows like Friends and American Gladiators, and music like the Macarena. It wound up having the effect of making the later seasons feel more dated than the earlier ones.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball started doing this in season 3, where it very constantly started making meme references and started depicting characters doing things such as making Let's Play videos on the Internet or recording themselves doing the Ice Bucket challenge. Characters will also constantly make facial expressions that directly reference an Internet meme face such as drawing out this scene for a good 20 seconds. They really hit the bottom of the barrel in the season 4 episode "The Uploads", where the entire episode was Gumball and Darwin looking up YouTube videos that made references to very relatable kinds of videos.
    • "The Best" had Gumball try (and fail) to be a "social justice warrior," and use terms like "check your privilege." Besides airing in a year when those terms were mostly only used ironically, if ever, it's unlikely that its target audience of middle schoolers would understand language that originates from Tumblr discourse, and a good chunk of the Periphery Demographic that did recognize the terms found it cringeworthy.
  • Sonic Boom has been falling under this, not only transplanting the characters into a modern sitcom setting, but having an entire episode satirizing Justin Bieber and boy bands, Shadow being defeated with a selfie in one episode, references to the goat scream and "Don't taze me bro" internet memes, a satire of internet fame, and the near constant use of memes on Sonic's Facebook and Twitter pages. Some of these memes fell out of public consciousness long, long before the Sonic Boom writers saw fit to reference them. To give you a little perspective, the UF taser incident happened the same week Sonic Rush Adventure was released.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016):
    • The show has fallen into this according to many. It's an attempt at modernizing the original 1990s The Powerpuff Girls. Buttercup's use of slang is borderline Totally Radical, memes are referenced (such as the infamous scene where Bubbles makes a No Me Gusta face which, for the record, was actually the NO face), and the characters are more into modern culture than before. The episode "Painbow" is especially considered this due to lines such as "OMG! YAAAAAAAS!" and "I literally can't even!", as well as a scene where Bubbles and Blossom twerk.
    • In the wake of then-recent discussions regarding political correctness, the reboot has focused on promoting a girl power edge by removing Ms. Bellum from the cast and trying to promote transgender rights in an episode. While this might seem like a good idea on paper, poor handling (and seemingly ignoring that Ms. Bellum was hyper-competent and that her role went beyond fanservice) led to the new show getting called out for being both anti-feminist and transphobic.
  • Gravity Falls:
  • Arthur has fallen into this. For instance, one episode, "Flippity Francine", has Francine becoming upset that Muffy posted an embarrassing video of her on YouWhoTube (which is, of course, a spoof of YouTube) that goes viral. Another episode has Muffy showing off her new mySmartPhoney.
  • Kaeloo: One episode was made where Pretty does a "duckface" while taking a selfie. At the time when the episode was being made, this may have seemed like a good idea, but the problem was, this episode was aired in late 2017, when the duckface had become a thing of the past.
  • In the Teen Titans Go! episode "The Fourth Wall", Beast Boy does a dance called "The Underpants Dance", which bears resemblance to twerking, which was popular at the time. Raven promptly shoves his face into the camera we're watching the episode from.
    • This happened again in the episode "Booty Scooty", where the titular dance Robin does takes cues from twerking. Then again, the show does have a thing for Robin's butt. This was later referenced in the "My Superhero Movie" song in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.

    Real Life 
  • Dictionaries with a lot of tradition behind them are sometimes accused of this 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 trope 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 and Ubuntu's Unity interfaces were both 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.

Alternative Title(s): We Are Still Relevant Dammit


Example of: