It all began in the early 1970s. Dick Clark did not think the CBS New Year's Eve show hosted by Guy Lombardo attracted a young audience. He felt that the program was for an older audience because of its use of old-time traditional pop music with people in fancy tuxedos. He decided he would create a new New Year's Eve show just for a young audience, so he named it New Year's Rockin' Eve to cement its demographic of younger viewers with its more fun and upbeat atmosphere. On December 31, 1972 the very first program aired, Three Dog Night's New Year's Rockin' Eve hosted by Three Dog Night. After just two years the show would move to ABC and Clark would take over the duty of producing and hosting the show. After Guy Lombardo died in 1977, and took the presence of his show with him, New Year's Rockin' Eve grew into the icon of American television it is today.
The show would go on to last for decades, and would often be hosted by a guest host along with Clark. Even though the show centered on musical performances, it also brought New York City's famous Times Square ball drop to American audiences. For 2000 the show was not seen because of ABC's participation in the multi-country special 2000 Today but Clark was still present for his annual tradition of counting down the ball drop, seen around the world for the first time because of the consortium of broadcasts. In 2004 Clark suffered a stroke that would leave him unable to host for 2005, that year instead being taken by Regis Philbin. Clark returned for 2006 but his stroke left him with a far reduced role. However though he would still count down the ball drop to midnight. The following year Ryan Seacrest took over as main host. Clark continued to appear for the countdown every year until his death in 2012. The show would continue with Ryan Seacrest as main host and producer. In the five decades the series has aired, it has become the primary New Year's Eve program in America and made Dick Clark a face associated with the holiday.
- Artifact Title: The show is still called "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" despite Clark's 2012 death.
- Big Brother Mentor: Ryan Seacrest formed quite a bond with Dick Clark starting with the 2007 edition and it definitely showed.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The show was on NBC for its first two years and it was hosted the first time by Three Dog Night.
- Enforced Plug: In The New '10s (2011-20), every edition of the show had big time plugs for Planet Fitness tying in to try and get viewers to make a New Year's resolution to exercise more.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Starting when Dick gave up his hosting duties due to his stroke (if not earlier), it's been Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve; presumably to assure the audience that it's still the same Rockin' Eve as before despite the change in hosts.
- New Year Has Come: Obviously the central element of the series is the ball drop in Times Square.
- New Year's Kiss: Up until his death in 2012, Clark would kiss his wife at the strike of midnight.
- Something Completely Different: This was Clark's idea when he created New Year's Rockin' Eve because he wanted a completely different and more youthful special than CBS had.
- For that matter 2000 was something completely different. Rockin' Eve was not seen for 2000 since ABC was a part of the multi-country consortium 2000 Today which still showed the ball drop in Times Square and still had Dick countdown to midnight, seen worldwide for the first time.
- 2021 will have no live performances or a live audience watching the ball drop due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.
- We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: During the 2017 edition Mariah Carey's performance was messed up by a malfunctioning microphone. She took it to the fans to ask to sing the lyrics for her.