- The Minions from Despicable Me were lauded as the movie's funniest characters and became the series' Ensemble Dark Horse group. This, of course, wound up leading to other companies wanting a piece of the pie and coming up with their own Minion-like characters themselves. (i.e. McDonald's Happy Meal creatures, the elves in Dreamworks' Rise of the Guardians, and the lemmings in Norm of the North, etc.) The verbally-impaired-friends/helpers-of-the-protagonist trope has seen so much use that anyone who went back to watch the movie that broke it into the mainstream will likely fail to see the appeal of the quirky Minions.
- Traditional Disney movies, particularly the fairy tale-based ones. A few can appear rather corny today. Especially the ones where the characters were similar to their original fairy tale inspirations, before the writers decided to adapt some more characterization to the princesses. The studio later experimented with new techniques that look rather sketchy today. (Namely the stuff in the 1960s; xerography was a pretty new technique for Disney then. Before, they mostly rotoscoped.)
- Disney princesses. Snow White, Princess Aurora, and Cinderella. People like to complain that these characters are boring and don't do much, especially as compared to their later counterparts. What many forget however is that these characters could be considered very active when compared to most depictions of women in media at the time, and had at least as much personality. They appear even more active and nuanced when compared to the characters from the original fairy tales who did and said far less. For example, both Snow White's and Aurora's relationships with their princes were an improvement over the original fairy tales - in that they met before they were saved. Aurora in particular was the first princess to actually properly get to know her prince - even though their time together was brief.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Back in 1937 this was the first studio animated feature that was so perfect that it surpassed all the previous attempts to make an animated feature. While the film is still popular to this day, few people realize this cartoon pretty much placed the standard on which all animated cartoons afterwards are still judged to this day. It was such a landmark film that it proved that animation was a viable medium alongside live-action. This also means that every animated movie that followed it takes cues from it. As a result, the 80+ years of films homaging, parodying, and generally being influenced by Snow White make the original film look like a Cliché Storm. And it's not just a great cartoon, a lot of techniques pioneered in this movie were even groundbreaking and impressive when compared to most live-action movies at the time.
- Fantasia: Would you believe that, after decades of music videos, the concept of this was novel? While it has been able to age well due to the Visual Effects of Awesome, the concept sounds entirely cliché with the availability of music videos on the internet. "The Rite of Spring" deserves special mention — would you believe that it showing the history of Earth being formed not by God, but by what is considered scientific was actually pushing the limits of what was allowed?
- CG, either splicing it with cel-animation or using it as an All-CGI Cartoon, has evolved a lot over the years. The Black Cauldron (1985) was the first to use CG-I as a special effect. Watching it nowadays will be beyond Conspicuous CG and veer almost into Special Effect Failure, same with the somewhat out of place looking gears in The Great Mouse Detective (1986). Pixar and Dreamworks's early movies also look a lot more rubbery and stiff compared to their most recent cartoons, and the humans will fall right into the Uncanny Valley. But at the time, they were some of the most technically impressive films on the market.
- Genie in Aladdin (1992). A-List actors did not star in speaking roles before this. They all did afterwards. The film that really set the trend of Anachronism Stew and Parental Bonus was Aladdin, which was different to what Disney was doing at the time, and yet has influenced countless subsequent movies including Shrek. However, by Quest for Camelot, it had worn thin and really, only Genie could get away with it.
- The trend of including a very well-known Pop-Star Composer in charge of the music and/or lyrics of an big-budget animated musical (Yellow Submarine and the like aside) took off with the success (and Oscar win) of The Lion King employing Elton John and Tim Rice. Following that would be similar contributions, such as Sting writing for The Emperor's New Groove, Phil Collins writing for Tarzan and Brother Bear, Randy Newman contributing music for the Toy Story franchise and other Pixar works, Barry Manilow working on The Pebble and the Penguin, etc.
- The Little Mermaid might seem like a paint-by-numbers Disney flick these days. But when it came out in 1989 it was hugely groundbreaking. It was the first Disney film to merge the fairy tale plot with Broadway elements. Numerous other stock cliches of the Disney Renaissance — feisty Plucky Girl, "I Want" Song, Award-Bait Song, comedy animal sidekicks (great potential for tie-in merchandise), campy villain — were all innovated by this. Pretty much most animated projects made in the 90s owe their existence to this film. It's notable to see that The Little Mermaid and its successor Beauty and the Beast are far more Broadway-esque than later Renaissance films. No surprise there, they were scored by Broadway musical duo Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.
- Pocahontas is a strange one. When it came out, it was badly received by American audiences (but did very well in Europe). The main reason? It was an animated film that took Artistic License with American history (though filmmakers insisted they were adapting the legend of Pocahontas rather than trying to be accurate). After Pocahontas we got films like Anastasia, Titanic: The Legend Goes On, Mulan and The Hunchback of Notre Dame — which took place in named times and depicted historical events. The general public would be desensitised to that kind of thing these days. Anastasia's producers took note of the reaction to Pocahontas and marketed the film as merely a historical fairy tale not to be taken as fact. It worked and they loved it in Russia.
- Disney and DreamWorks Animation have an... odd history. When the first Shrek movie came out, it was considered a witty and refreshing break from the then-formulaic Disney Animated Canon fare, despite the fact that, at that point, Disney was going through a different and experimental period with Dinosaur, Fantasia 2000, The Emperor's New Groove, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Lilo & Stitch, Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, and Home on the Range. The freshness still hadn't eroded by the time of Shrek 2, which was considered an Even Better Sequel by many. However, by the time of Shrek the Third, DreamWorks Animation — and their competitors — had run the formula into the ground harder than Disney's "Disneyfied musical adaptations of mythology/classic literature with spunky heroines and goofy sidekicks" did in the '90s. To add insult to injury, most of the Disney films criticized for following their formula (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan) have been Vindicated by History by '90s kids, and the experimental films often became Cult Classics.
- * Shrek deserves a special mention. Back in 2001, this iconoclastic take on Fairy Tales and use of pop-culture references felt like a welcome reprieve from the usual clean fare. Now, with several films, including a few from Shrek's own studio DreamWorks Animation, Shrek's pop-culture jokes have aged rather poorly and the film is blamed for killing off traditional animated films and spawning a litany of pale imitation All CGI Cartoons that relied on Anachronism Stew, All-Star Cast, World of Snark and Getting Crap Past the Radar.
- DreamWorks Animation has their own breed that is almost like an inversion — with a few exceptions like Shrek, plenty of Dreamworks's early CGI movies were seen as low-budget Pixar movies to downright knock-offs of Pixar movies. However, they have since grown the beard, and in the new tens, are considered to be one of the better animation studios, producing movies that rival Pixar's.
- Ghost in the Shell.
- The English dub of the original, is still well-done, but it likely comes off as Narmy to most first-time modern-day viewers, but in The '90s it was considered a major step forward for anime dubbing, featuring a reasonably faithful translation of the source material, correct pronunciations of Japanese names, and semi-believable voice acting. Incidentally, this is also true for the original German dub of the movie, so much in fact it later got a new dub along with Stand Alone Complex, taking the German cast for Stargate SG-1 under contract.
- Story-wise, the plot and themes of Ghost in the Shell, revolving around humanity's relationship with technology and the potential future of both, have been riffed on and built upon by countless works both Japanese and Western, from The Matrix to Ex Machina. As such, when it got a big-budget, live-action Hollywood adaptation in 2017, one of the more common criticisms (among many others) was that its once-revolutionary subject matter had grown passe over the course of twenty-two years.
- Hayao Miyazaki. Many of his movies have been copied so extensively by both anime and manga that people complain about them being "cliché". No, Laputa isn't just "another ancient civilization on a floating island", it is THE ancient civilization on a floating island. Ironically enough, even though it was this movie that really started Japan's fascination of highly advanced, extinct ancient civilizations, both the name and the concept of the floating island of Laputa comes from Gulliver's Travels, written more than two centuries earlier.
- Ralph Bakshi: His 1970s animated feature films, like Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic and Coonskin, were groundbreaking for introducing adult topics in a medium that had been almost exclusively child friendly up to then. Nowadays, in an era where adult animation with references to drugs, sex, politics and bloody violence have more or less become part of the mainstream, Bakshi's work doesn't look that special anymore. Apart from the explicit nudity and pornography, there's nothing that you won't see in The Simpsons, South Park or Family Guy these days. To a modern audience, something like "Fritz the Cat" now comes across as a Random Events Plot, with a few boobies here and there to make schoolboys snicker. It's also very dated, even for something from The '70s. Bakshi himself has whined that if he did Fritz the Cat today the censors wouldn't harass him as much as they did. His version of The Lord of the Rings also seems inferior nowadays compared to Peter Jackson's fully worked-out film trilogy, which at least tells the story of all three books.
- Most consider this trope to have reached Up to Eleven with the misleading ad campaign for Disney's Tangled, which tried to portray a more traditional fairy tale as a hip spoof of fairy tales — meaning, in essence, that the Trope Maker for such traditional movies is now scared to admit they're still making them.
- While Toy Story's graphics that were state-of-the-art back in 1995, they pale in comparison to what's being done today. The humans look almost as plastic as the toys (which is why they told a story where the main characters were toys), there's an airless quality to the outside scenes, and the animation is not as fluid and nuanced as what we see today. Not that the movie has now become unwatchable, far from it, but compare it to Toy Story 2 just four years later and the improvement is remarkable. And then compare that to Toy Story 3 11 years after, and you appreciate how much CGI has evolved in such a short time. Also, consider the fact that before Toy Story, the number of fully computer-generated feature films was exactly zero, and it would be two more years before there was another such film. With CGI so ubiquitous today, it's hard to imagine how mind-blowing an experience it was to see Woody and Buzz for the first time. Compare it to "Tin Toy" to really see the evolution. When you watch the behind-the-scenes features about Toy Story, it's clear that John Lasseter and the late Joe Ranft were aware of this issue. They made sure they put as much effort into the story and the characters as they did into the technology. Which is why people will probably still be watching Toy Story in fifty years, long after its technology has become outdated.
- When Bambi first premiered in 1942, audiences were blown away by the realistic appearance of the animal characters, as they were more used to the cartoony animal characters as seen in the Silly Symphonies shorts, along with films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Dumbo. The idea of looking at real-life animals as a reference to design and animate them realistically was groundbreaking at the time. Nowadays, thanks to films like Watership Down, The Lion King, Balto, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and Brother Bear, realistic animal characters are not only common, but practically the rule in animal-focused films (at least hand-drawn ones), and thus Bambi does not stand out as much to modern audiences.
Seinfeld Is Unfunny / Animated Films