Here's a page of Unintentional Period Pieces from multiple decades, or that are Older Than Radio.
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Anime & Manga
- Despite being an Alternate History period piece on its own, Gintama managed to become a time capsule for the beginning of the 2000s to near the end of the 2010s, and it shows. You can probably pinpoint when a given chapter or episode was made through the memes, celebrities, or references to trends in Shonen Jump and other magazines that show up.
- Yotsuba&!, which began in 2003, tries to avoid dating itself to any particular time and does a good job at it (according to the author, it's set in "the present day" regardless of when it was published), but there are occasional moments where this foresight slips and ends up mildly dating the comic. While, for example, a photography buff using an analog camera isn't too out-of-place given that professional photographers still often prefer them, other characters snapping pics with flip phones make it apparent that these chapters were published in the late 2000s. Smartphones are even introduced in the most recent chapters; it's justified in-universe by Yotsuba's family and friends simply being behind the times, as her (fairly young) father demonstrates unfamiliarity with them.
- Carnival Phantasm is an interesting case; while it was released in 2011, it is largely steeped in the Nasuverse of the mid-late aughts, in part due to being based on a manga that ran back in 2004 to '05. This is mostly evident in the complete lack of anything relating to the explosively popular Fate/Grand Order, which wouldn't launch until another four years later. Its sequel would more than make up for it, though at the cost of dropping the rest of the Nasuverse jokes (though reflecting the heavy Fate dominance of the intervening years).
- Probably the funniest case of it is in its Running Gag of Lancer always dying. It was rooted in the original novel, where he perishes on all three routes and (despite being really strong on paper) never really gets to show his stuff due to both terrible luck and a Master who refuses to let him cut loose. But post-Grand Order, the most common in-joke in the fandom for Lancer is that he's basically immortal, owing to his massive pile of defensive skills and easy availability turning him into a very common fallback character despite mediocre stats.
- Only slightly less dated is its portrayal of Sakura as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who actively seeks out bad situations because she sees her status as a passive victim as the only way to win audience sympathy. Back when the manga came out, Sakura was by far the least popular, well-known, or focused-on of the three main heroines: most of the fandom wasn't familiar with her story in Heaven's Feel, only being familiar with her Out of Focus nature in other routes and adaptations, and even the ones that were familiar often saw her as a bland receptacle for abuse with little charisma. Heaven's Feel now has three big-budget movies dedicated to it, meaning that basically everyone in the fandom knows Sakura's story and character, fandom sympathy has moved much more heavily in Sakura's direction, and her fanbase (though still likely the smallest of the main trio) is hardly anything to complain about. Her portrayal in Carnival Phantasm to a modern fan now looks less like a wry joke and more like something between a non-sequitur and Victim Blaming.
- Any Stand-Up Comedy special or album will have the comedian commenting on life and culture at the time the special/album was originally made.
- Most political jokes really date the work they are in. After a few years out of office, any jokes about President or Prime Minister (insert name here) aren't going to be relevant and have the added downside of showing what political biases the author had.
- Thanks to Society Marches On, character issues brought during elections might end up being non-issues for their successors. Bill Clinton's presidential campaign was dogged by claims he was a draft dodger and a pot smoker; claims of a failed draft-dodging and alleged drunk driving didn't hurt George W. Bush eight years later, and Barack Obama's marijuana consumption was a non-issue during his campaign.
- That said, political jokes with a more generic setup often end up repurposed for other figures, as long as the overall premise still makes sense. For example, a joke calling out a politician for a specific lie will date, but one calling him a liar in general might survive as long as politicians' reputation for insincerity.
- Archie Comics: While the franchise is often mocked by being permanently set in circa 1965, the comics are actually a good example about how much teen culture has changed since the early 1940s (when the very concept of "teen culture" was just maturing). Even back in the early '90s, they acknowledged this with their Americana Series of trade paperback collections, showcasing the iconic strips of each individual decade. Usually they will feature one "Love Triangle"-themed story, then dozens of others about then-current fads, or parodies of then-popular movies. The fashions of most strips shown in the Digest format issues years later also date certain stories greatly.
- 2000 AD has an interesting relationship with this trope, being something of a Long Runner:
- Early Judge Dredd stories were often steeped in the Cold War, with the Soviet Union surviving into the 22nd century and being the main antagonists in quite a few stories, at least until East-Meg One got nuked to oblivion. The Volgan Empire in Invasion! and especially ABC Warriors was an incredibly obvious Soviet stand-in, at least until they were retconned.
- During The '80s, nearly every strip made some reference to Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan.
- The '90s featured strips such as the Space Girls and BLAIR 1 (a parody of MACH 1, an early strip from 1977) in order to stay relevant. These were not well-received.
- And, of course, there's the title itself, which did a much better job of projecting a futuristic image when the year 2000 was actually decades in the future.
- Many superheroes have dated origins, according to either comics canon or tradition. Bruce Wayne became Batman after seeing his parents get shot outside a movie theater showing The Mark of Zorro (1920), while Bruce Banner became the Incredible Hulk in the early 1960s while trying to stop a beatnik-like teenager from wandering onto a nuclear testing site. Understandably, many of these details have been altered by later stories.
- Many of the early The Avengers comics ended up becoming incredibly dated, not just due to the Dirty Communist-type villains common in that era, but also because of many pop culture references included in the stories.
- Numerous Marvel Comics characters have ties to World War II. Primary examples are Nick Fury, Reed Richards, and Ben Grimm, who fought in it, and Magneto, who was in a concentration camp. For some reason, only Captain America had to be frozen in ice in order to be brought into the "modern" age (the '60s). Nick Fury's relative youth continuing well past the '60s was explained by a serum he was given that keeps him young, and Magneto was deaged into a toddler then re-aged into a young man by an alien (though this doesn't get brought up very often), but there has been no explanation for why Reed Richards still looks maybe 50 at the oldest. The idea that Richards and Grimm are WWII vets was quietly dropped later in that decade.
Tying a character to a war in general tends to do this. Professor X is supposed to be a veteran of The Korean War, where he and Cain Marko stumbled upon the Gem of Cytorrak, turning Marko into Juggernaut. Neither character is portrayed or drawn as being anywhere near old enough to have been a soldier in that war (Charles has an excuse of getting his mind transferred into a clone during the 80s, but this also doesn't get mentioned a lot). The Punisher's history as a Vietnam vet is vital to his character, but it would mean he's somewhere in his sixties at this point, and yet he's never drawn looking older than a very youthful 40.
In 2019, History of the Marvel Universe was published and the second issue brought in the then-little know nation of Sin-Cong, a stand-in for Korea and Vietnam, retconned a war called "the Siancong War", then not only brought back the idea Mr. Fantastic and the Thing were soldiers prior to the FF's origins, but transferred that aspect and the Punisher's backstory, as well as Iron Man's origin, to it, thus preventing this in the future.
- Mortadelo y Filemón: Most of the stories released in the 21st century could be considered this, as they tend to be themed after an important event happening at the time. A notable example from The '90s, before the aforementioned trend started, is "El quinto centenario" ("The Fifth Centenary"). It's themed, as its name suggests, after the fifth centenary of the Discovery of America, with the protagonists time-travelling to join Christopher Columbus' crew. Many jokes are lost to modern readers. To start with, most important characters in the past are drawn like important politicians from the year the comic was released. Some characters were drawn like politicians who would still be recognisable or relevant years later (such as future Prime Minister José María Aznar or Cuban leader Fidel Castro), others... not so much (even the then-Prime Minister Felipe González, still known nowadays, can be hard to recognise due to how he's drawn). The story ends with a parody of the 1992 Universal Exposición of Sevilla which, as referring to a one-time event which only lasted 6 months and was located in a single city, is as accessible to modern readers as you would expect.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) inevitably ran into this during its 24 year run, being based on a long running video game franchise that has shifted repeatedly in direction and added new concepts and characters as time went on. The series would often promote the latest game (and prior to 2001, SEGA console), and to start with, since Sonic's lore was threadbare in 1993, it cribbed characters from Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) while initially having a tone closer to Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, which both premiered the same year as the comic, with Sonic's Totally Radical characterization in these works to go with it. The early gag-focused issues frequently made pop culture references to such things as Jurassic Park and even lampooned the excesses of The Dark Age of Comic Books, which became quite ironic when Cerebus Syndrome came in full force a few years later. When Sonic Adventure came out and refreshed the main characters' looks, so did the comic, and the art became more Animesque in look, reflecting the medium's western boom around the same time. This did not stop with Ian Flynn's takeover of the title, as he snuck in references to Youtube Poop in a couple issues in the late 2000s. It is possible to identify when a given issue came out by the art, characters, writers and even most of all continuity, due to a lawsuit-induced Cosmic Retcon chucking out decades of continuity in favor of starting from scratch and redesigning the SatAM-original cast starting with issue 252 of the main title. It is certain that this too will affect IDW Publishing's take on the license as time goes on.
- Condorito has become an example of how Chile and Latin America have changed since the character's first appearance in 1949note , also spoofing key events in the news (an early example being the 1957 Asian flu pandemic) as well as TV shows and movies (from James Bond and Batman to The Avengers and Turkish soap operas). As the magazine adopted a fortnightly schedule from the late 1990s, this has taken a We're Still Relevant, Dammit! bent (as most covers deal with one or the another) while the increasing use of raunchy humor beginning at the same time has also made it easy to date earlier issues.
- Most of the stories of the Chilean comic Mampato were written between 1968 and 1978, and it shows when we see Mampato's home, for its furniture, appliances and posters of popular singers of the time. The animated adaptation of 2002 tried to modernize the environment by giving Mampato a modern computer (which now looks like an antique) and by having it search for information on Terra.cl, a website that disappeared in 2017.
- You can very easily tell when an issue of Star Wars (Marvel 1977) came out by checking which character Luke is getting Ship Tease with. The writers were seemingly convinced that Luke/Leia was the Official Couple, and even after The Empire Strikes Back put a lot of focus on Han/Leia, they still more or less ignored it and kept on trying to develop Luke/Leia. Needless to say, this abruptly stopped after Return of the Jedi's release in 1983.
- Averted for the most part in Calvin and Hobbes but a few 80s and 90s references have popped up. The strip has mentioned VCRs, records, New Wave Music fashion trends, Siskel & Ebert, the birth of conservative talk radio, the Cold War, and The Dark Age of Comic Books, making the strip appear somewhat dated, particularly since some elements of the strip were deliberately anachronistic, even at the time.
- Some of this was enforced. Watterson noted that Calvin's household had a few appliances such as a rotary phone and a TV with dials rather than buttons which were considered outdated even back then, but he drew them anyway because he felt they had more personality. This was justified in-universe by Calvin's dad being something of a luddite.
- One 1989 storyline had Calvin locking his babysitter, Rosalyn, out of the house at a time where virtually no teenagers carried cell phones with them. If the arc was published today, Rosalyn could call Calvin's parents and put a quick end to his night alone (unless she had left the phone in the house or had forgotten to charge it).
- Several strips feature Calvin answering the home landline humorously. The phone (which, as mentioned above, is a rotary model) is on a cord with no answering machine. Jokes involving answer machines period are gradually becoming an example of this trope too, via Technology Marches On.
- In one of the later strips, Calvin asks his dad why their computer doesn't have internet, and his dad, being the luddite he is, retorts that it's bad enough they have a telephone. While this may have been a less extreme opinion back in the early 1990s, nowadays, any middle-class American would have a very hard time attempting to justify not having internet. Anybody with beliefs like Calvin's dad would be ridiculed.
- Many strips highlight Calvin's tendency to wake up at an ungodly hour on Saturday to watch Saturday Morning Cartoons. This type of programming block went into decline near the end of the series with the rise of syndication and cable networks, and stricter regulation of children's television.
- One stripnote mentioned Sears and Kmart, two American department store chains which peaked in the 1980s and early 1990s (the period when the strip was running), but have now both filed for bankruptcy and are vastly dwindling.
- FoxTrot gets most of its humor from technology jokes and pop culture references, making much of its older strips very dated.
- A 1990 Story Arc features the Fox family getting a compact Macintosh computer which appears to be based off the Macintosh Classic.
- In a January 1993 strip, Jason dreams that he found a Macintosh Quadra 950 with 64 megabytes of RAM and a 230-megabyte hard drive as a Christmas present he forgot to open. A typical computer now has its memory measured in gigabytes. As for long-term storage, many (though by no means all) have replaced hard drives with solid-state drives (think internal thumb drives; it's the same technology); either way, it's now measured at least in gigabytes and even in terabytes.
- One comic from the late 90s has Jason dress up like an iMac for Halloween. When Peter asks why that would be scary, Jason replies "I have no floppy drive!", terrifying Peter. Most modern computers don't have a floppy drive, as floppy disks have been replaced by CDs, DVDs, thumb drives, cloud storage, and downloads.
- The strips where Jason shows enthusiasm for The Phantom Menace, thanks to the severe Hype Backlash.
- This strip has Jason dress up as George Lucas for Halloween, saying that it's horrifying that Lucas plans to release all the Star Wars films in 3D. Two years after the strip was made, Lucas sold the Star Wars franchise to Disney, who discontinued the project in favor of releasing new movies, such as The Force Awakens, leaving The Phantom Menace as the only one converted to 3-D.
- A 2010 strip jokes about the exclusion of Flash from the iPad and other Apple devices by not including The Flash . Flash would be gradually phased out later in the decade, with Adobe ceasing support permanently in December 2020.
- Peanuts: While the humor is generally timeless, there are a few elements that date particular strips:
- One strip in the 1950s has Charlie Brown say there are 48 states in the union, dating it to before Alaska and Hawaii received statehood in 1959.
- In one 1970s strip, Lucy and Sally talk about how little a bug knows, and cite Farrah Fawcett and Mary Tyler Moore as examples of its ignorance. Nowadays, it's hard to imagine children their age knowing who those two are (or rather, were).
- There are many strips from the 1970s in which the kids, especially Peppermint Patty, are struggling to learn metric units and talking about how everything will be metric in the future. Of course, these strips are a product of the period in which the U.S. was planning to go metric.
Films — Animation
- Foodfight! was meant to be released in 2003 and featured an All-Star Cast of then-popular actors and actresses such as Charlie Sheen and Hilary Duff. The files were (apparently) stolen, however, and thus the film had to be recreated from the ground up, and on a cheaper animation budget at that, leaving the film to not see release until almost a full decade later in 2012. The film could have been popular in the early 2000s, but by the 2010s, many of the voices had lost their popularity (especially with kids) and the animation — especially being that it was a low-budget replacement for the original — looked terribly dated.
- Dumbo, being Disney's first film set in the Present Day as of its release, is an odd mix of a contemporary piece to the '40s when it came out (1941), but also saddled with many references to the '30s.
- One of the biggest hints that the film is actually set in the '40s is at the end, where the Spinning Newspaper is dated "Thursday, March 13, 1941", and includes side stories titled "Britain in Greatest Offensive" and "Berlin Attacked as London Spured By Lend-Lease Bill".
- The '30s, meanwhile, spill over into the very beginning of the next decade by way of several references, including one in the very first song, "Look Out for Mr. Stork"; the singers casually mention "those quintuplets", a reference which at the time would not be necessary to explain, because it is very clearly a reference to the Dionne Quintuplets, five identical French-Canadian girls who became enormous celebrities during the Depression years simply by virtue of being quintuplets (and even that is dated, as quintuplets would hardly impress anyone today because nonuplets have since been born). The North American media obsessively covered the Dionne story for years (partly because it gave them an excuse to avoid any controversial economic or political topics that might have offended people in what was at the time a fairly heated social climate), with the result that the girls' entire childhood and adolescence became world news. You probably only remember the Dionne Quintuplets today if you're a Thirties buff, or a student of old newsreels, or maybe if you saw that South Park episode that subtly parodied the phenomenon with a big fuss in the town over five identical Romanian girls.
- There are also some instances that transcend any specific decade. The song "When I See an Elephant Fly" includes the line "I heard a fireside chat", referring to then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his thirty-some radio broadcasts he gave from taking office in 1933 until near the end of World War II in 1944. Also, the film's traditional American-style circus setting eventually looked increasingly antiquated as the years went by, as premium human-centric circuses a la Cirque du Soleil gained popularity and animal rights groups waged war against perceived cases of animal abuse, followed by the 2017 closing of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. As a result, the 2019 live-action remake went the Period Piece route.
Films — Live-Action
- In general, one can pinpoint when a film was made by its credits:
- Before the 1920s, only the producer (often featured as presenter), and sometimes the director and/or the lead performers would be listed.
- During the Golden Age, opening credit sequences became increasingly elaborate, often lasting up to five minutes.
- During the 1970s, technical credits began to appear at the end of the movie, often following a list of characters (by order of appearance).
- Beginning in the late 1990s, some films began putting all the credits after the movie, in two sets, consisting of Creative Closing Credits featuring the leads and key creative crew that would have been featured at the beginning, followed by the longer "characters and technical" list, although it wouldn't be until around 2010 when this became the standard.
- Old Directors' Guild guidelines obligated members to include the more important credits at the front, since these were viewed as important for displaying the big stars and crew members. George Lucas was kicked out of the Guild after insisting on The Empire Strikes Back not having opening credits (he got a pass for A New Hope because none of them thought it would succeed). After Lucas proceeded to become a powerful filmmaker without the aid of the Guild, the rules were softened to say the "big credits" could be put in the back instead before the main list of credits.
- How colors look on a film can also date it as well (often deliberately invoked in period pieces): During the late 1920s and 1930s, color films had either "red-green" or "blue-orange" washes because of the limitations of early processes such as two-color Technicolor and Multicolor. Color films from the late-30s through the 1950s/early 1960s became famous for their saturated palettes. While color became the standard in the mid-1960s, artistic choices preferred more neutral earth tones, a trend that stretched through the early 80s before being replaced by pastel colors. Films between the late 1990s and the early 2010s either featured loud contrasts between blue and orange tones or brownish colors. In the mid-2010s however, wider color palettes became popular once again with varying degrees of saturation.
- The Three Stooges shorts, made from the 1930s through the 1950s, were always a product of their time.
- The soundtrack for their first short, Woman Haters (1934) is comprised by the "sweet" dance music popular during the early 30s (retrospectively referred with the derisive nickname of "Mickey Mouse music").
- Many Stooges shorts from the 30s would find the trio dealing with the Great Depression.
- A number of shorts had the boys dealing with WWII. They even made fun of Hitler and his cronies in two instances.
- A few of their final shorts had science-fiction settings. Many of the shorts of the time also featured Larry and Moe sporting "crew-cut" hairstyles popular at the time instead of their more familiar looks.
- James Bond:
- Most of the Bond films, with each version of Bond being this to (roughly) one particular decade. The Sean Connery films have their feet planted in The '60s, Roger Moore's Bond is a product of The '70s, the Timothy Dalton films are products of The '80s, the Pierce Brosnan films are filled with the post-Cold War vibe of The '90s, and Daniel Craig's Darker and Edgier Bond is a man of the Turn of the Millennium and The War on Terror. Sometimes the Bond Girls' fashion choices also make the films' decades clear as day.
- An interesting case is the aborted film The Property of a Lady, set for a 1991 release. It would have revolved around the UK's relationship with China and the disputed sovereignty of Hong Kong. However, a legal battle with former producer Albert Broccoli left the film in Development Hell for a few years. By the time all that was cleared up, the two countries were in talks of returning Hong Kong to China, which would have made the plot outdated, necessitating several rewrites. These rewrites turned the movie into GoldenEye, which dealt with the fallout of the Soviet Union's dissolution instead.
- Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back references works from multiple decades, though the early to late '90s are treated as being recent, with movies from the year 2000 being the most topical. The Daredevil Early-Bird Cameo references a movie that had not yet been released at that time.
- West Side Story is sort of an evolutionary missing link between the more violent films of the 1970s and the whimsy of musicals of the '50s and early '60s — it's likely that only in that exact timespace could that movie have been made.
- David O. Russell's now-disowned Black Comedy Accidental Love (originally known as Nailed) ultimately became this upon its release in early 2015, after nearly seven years on the shelf due to a Troubled Production. When it began filming in 2008, the premise of a waitress with a nail lodged in her skull fighting for health insurance was timely. Due to the Affordable Care Act, this premise is now considerably dated—while the ACA certainly didn't fix America's health insurance woes, and many people still lack coverage or have to deal with a hostile industry or inadequate support, to not have the ACA mentioned at all in a film satirizing health insurance is a pretty baffling omission.
- This joke is funny, but the teenage boy in the joke almost certainly has to have been born between the 1970s and 1990s to have a grandfather who served in World War II, making it dated, sadly. Giving this background kills the surprise.
A boy was upstairs playing on his computer when his grandad came in the room and sat down on the bed.
"What are you doing?" asked the grandad. "You're 18 years old and wasting your life! When I was 18 I went to Paris, I went to the Moulin Rouge, drank all night, had my way with the dancers, pissed on the barman and left without paying! Now that is how to have a good time!"
A week later, the grandfather comes to visit again. He finds the boy still in his room, but with a broken arm in plaster, 2 black eyes and missing all his front teeth.
"What happened?" he asked.
"Oh Grandfather!" replied the boy. "I did what you did! I went to Paris, went to the Moulin Rouge, drank all night, had my way with the dancers, pissed all over the barman, and he beat the crap out of me!"
"Oh dear!" replied the grandad. "Who did you go with?"
"Just some friends, why? Who did you go with?"
"Oh!" replied the grandad. "The Third Panzer Division."
- The schoolchild in the Soviet joke about a show-and-tell class might be even older: "I didn't know Grandpa had been a military electrician in the war until I found this helmet with two lightning bolts◊ in the closet."
- Q: How do we know Adam and Eve were computer nerds?
A: God gave Eve an Apple and Adam a Wang.
- A joke that relies on a now over-100-year-old advertising slogan:
A man went on a sea trip with his wife, but his wife died on the trip. The captain said they did not have the facilities on board to store a body for burial on shore, they would have to do a Burial at Sea
. The husband knew his wife would never stand for it, but understood and allowed it anyway. That night, sleeping in his cabin, the man kept hearing a voice softly repeating "It floats... it floats... it floats". The next night he heard it again, and he knew it must be the ghost of his dead wife. The third night, exasperated, he finally responded to the voice, "What
floats? And the voice said, "IVORY SOAP!
- Another joke could only be told in the late 1960s to mid 1980s:
A Russian dock worker was being interviewed at his retirement party:
"In what city were you born?" "St. Petersburg."
"In what city did you go to school?" "Petrograd."
"In what city did you work?" "Leningrad."
"In what city would you like to die?" "St. Petersburg." note
- The Divine Comedy has a lot of contemporary references to date it, but the most significant is probably the reference to King Henry VII (no, not that one). Henry VII was the Holy Roman Emperor at the time, and attempted to lead an expedition into Italy that would place it under Imperial control and dethrone the Catholic Church as the main controlling power. Dante was all for this, as he believed this would be a step to Italy regaining its former glory, and also due to his heavy dislike of the Corrupt Church which had forced him into exile from his home city of Florence. Several parts of the poem cite Henry as having a guaranteed seat in the heavens and being the man to unify Italy, naming him "alto arrigo" (high ruler). Henry's expedition largely failed, with him dying of malaria and seeing his limited territorial gains swiftly reverse upon death, and he is now pretty much only remembered because of Dante's fondness for him.
- A lot of the events Dante refers to are very contemporary and some of the characters in his poem are only well-known because him mentioning them, such as the wrathful Filippo Argenti, a contemporary who had once slapped Dante, and Count Ugolino from Pisa, who was starved to death when Dante was about 24.
- The entire genre of the AIDS novel, popular in the eighties and nineties, has become this because of the vast improvements in the treatment of HIV.
- The War of the Worlds is very clearly dated to its release. Wells did do his research, and it shows, with the novel being pretty accurate to beliefs about science, technology, military tactics, and the possibility of life on other planets at the time. Its very dim view of imperialism and colonialism is obviously colored by the days of the British Empire at its height, the described technology of the tripods looks a bit quaint nowadays, and one of the most pivotal Hope Spot moments in the book involves an attack by a British torpedo ram—a bit of military tech from the 1870s and early 1880s that is now almost completely forgotten, given that only a few such ships were built and few if any of them saw combat.
- Jane Austen's books, which define the Regency Romance subgenre.
- Pride and Prejudice is used on the Period Piece page to illustrate a story whose crisis could not occur in a present-day 21st century setting.
- Northanger Abbey was actually this at the time of publication, being an early work of Austen's only published later in her lifetime, and being a send-up of the Gothic Horror novels which were popular when it was written; however, tastes had since moved on. The author even issued an apology for this in the preface.
- Stephen King's works are chock full of pop-cultural references from whenever the book was written, to an almost Family Guy-like extent. It helps that he tries to keep things timeless by heavily reference-mining 1950s and '60s pop culture, but that in itself evokes the poignant Baby Boomer nostalgia that was everywhere in the '80s when King wrote many of his most iconic novels.
- Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos series (taking place some hundred years into the future) is filled to the bursting with reference to 20th century culture. There are a few older references and a few references to fictional future events, but the overwhelming majority of them are from Simmons' lifetime.
- Damon Runyon's stories are set when they were written, meaning from the early 1920s until Runyon's death in 1946 and are clearly of that time. Some of the stories can be dated in a general sense due to references to ongoing events like Prohibition or the Great Depression. Others refer to contemporary events and can be even more narrowly dated, such as alluding to members of the Hoover Administration as being in office, or a character having just been liberated from a German POW camp at the end of World War II.
- While the James Bond novels fall into this when it comes to fashions and attitudes, Ian Fleming went out of his way to avert this somewhat with the introduction of SPECTRE in the later books. By using a completely fictional and strictly apolitical organization to replace SMERSH, a fictionalized version of a real Soviet organization, as the main evil group, he intended for the books to avoid being too firmly entrenched in the Cold War culture in which he was writing.
- P. G. Wodehouse's books took place in a kind of flexible Comic-Book Time version of the Genteel Interbellum Setting that he originally began writing them in, and he kept them coming until his death in the 1970s. In one interview, he noted with bemusement that he was writing "historical novels".
- The Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys books, which have been written non-stop since the late 1920s, always give an interesting cross-section of culture at the time. Interestingly, while the works' environment seem to be stuck in the Lyndon B. Johnson era (not unlike the case of Archie Comics), it must be noted that both franchises had to have their very '20s sensibilities (particularly regarding race and ethnicities) modernized during the 1960s. It got worse after they switched publishers in 1979, since the new publishing house was a lot more prone to using much more topical themes. Two '80s spinoffs, The Nancy Drew Files and The Hardy Boys Casefiles, had stories taking place in very 1980s settings, such as on a soap opera (at the peak of General Hospital supercouple Luke and Laura) or horror movies (back when Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street were churning out sequels left and right). Similarly, the most recent series, Nancy Drew: Girl Detective and Hardy Boys: Undercover Brothers, are even more topical, with stories about reality TV and cyberbullying.
- Some of Bill Bryson's travelogues; In The Lost Continent Bryson is startled to see how much America had changed since The '60s. Reading it today reveals how much the country has changed since 1987-88. It's certainly one of the last works to mention strip clubs in Times Square; similarly in Neither Here Nor There Bryson discovers how much Europe has moved on since he backpacked around as a student in the 1970s. Being written in 1990 it has a pre-single European currency Europe and pre-Balkan war Yugoslavia and pre-Oresund Bridge Denmark, as well as relying on printed guidebooks for European train times; in A Walk in the Woods the gizmo-crazy hiker is kitted out with technology that was advanced in 1997 (GPS, self-pitching tent) but is fairly standard fare now; Notes from a Big Country mostly deals with a mid-1990s world just before the internet and cellphones became ubiquitous — Bryson mentions the difficulty of finding change for a payphone at the airport, the amount of mail order catalogs he's sent, sending faxes to the UK, and renting movies on videotape.
- In general, many encyclopaedias and other books of knowledge often end up quite dated as knowledge updates itself. Theories that were at one time new and controversial become commonplace and one-common knowledge becomes discredited, meaning any encyclopaedia more than about ten or twenty years old show their age.
- As referenced in The Discworld Companion, Terry Pratchett believed that books a century old are useful as historical documents while textbooks a decade old are unreliable because you don't know what you're missing. In fact, The Discworld Companion itself also applies, with the original edition released in 1994, restricting it to barely half of the books in the series, and the most recent edition was released before the final two Discworld books were published.
- An entire genre of books known back then (with only the Dutch term still surviving) as "De Karelroman" (Elegast being the most popular example). Part of their appeal was that medieval celebrities such as Charlemagne were in the main roles of a story that sounds pretty similar to the fairy tale. Add in such infamous morals such as that you must be loyal to your lord and you get an example of a trope that is Older Than Print.
- Dracula has a bit of this as Mina scoffs at the whole fad of the "new woman" culture which was arising in London at the time focusing on women becoming more independent. Of course, Bram Stoker is using it as an allegory to the subject, including being more sexually forward, which likewise ties to vampirism and its lack of morality as demonstrated by the count's vampire brides earlier in the story. Although this is often pegged as Hypocritical Humor; Mina is by far the most proactive and competent of the hunters and every time the party tries to restrict her to a traditionally feminine role it backfires horribly.
- In a broader sense, at the time of its publication Dracula was every bit as much a Modern Science vs Archaic Superstition conflict as a Heroes vs Villain one, in which the good guys made extensive use of such state-of-the-art technologies as wax-cylindar recording, typewriters, rapid train transit and blood transfusions to oppose an invading relic of the Dark Ages. Needless to say, Technology Marches On swiftly eliminated that facet of the tale.
- Harry Potter plays with this trope. The first four books were written between 1990-1997, while the last three books were written between 2000-2007. However, they are appropriately set in the 1990s (1991-1998, specifically), since that was the time Rowling did the most writing. In addition, the books proper generally avoid using references to the real-life pop culture of the 1990s. An In-Universe explanation is simple: the Wizarding World lives a different lifestyle from that of the Muggle world by using medieval technology, and most wizards don't understand Muggle culture and technology. Furthermore, the Wizarding World is too busy worrying about Voldemort to name-drop 1990s pop culture anyway.
- In the mid-2000s, Hard Case Crime re-released some of the first novels that Michael Crichton had published under the pseudonym "John Lange" in the 1960s. In one case, they tried to get over Technology Marches On and Society Marches On by adding bookends with an elderly version of the main character telling the story to his grandson... who is filming him in DVD with a videocamera. As a result, the novel is now only unintentionally dated to the mid-2000s.
- Many of the great works of 19th-century Russian literature are inseparable from the period in which they were written. Books such as Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov are explicitly set in a version of Russia with both an established aristocracy and an absence of serf labor, placing them firmly between 1861 (when the serfs were emancipated) and 1917 (when the landed aristocracy was driven out in the Russian Revolution). Granted, 56 years is still a pretty broad swathe of time, but given the momentous social changes that bookended this period, the feel is pretty drastically different from any moment in Russian history before or after. Likewise, Dostoevsky's preoccupation with new and trendy (at the time) ideologies such as nihilism, Tolstoy's fascination with the lifestyles and social mores of the ruling classes, and the Christianity they both practiced and wrote about (which would've gotten them into trouble a few decades later) tie these particular authors even more firmly to their time and place. (Though, notably, none of this has lessened their importance or appeal into the modern day.)
- Simon Braund's 2013 book The Greatest Movies You'll Never See invokes this, and is itself an example. It's mentioned that Alfred Hitchcock's abandoned 1960s Serial Killer project Kaleidoscope would seem dated today, citing Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Hannibal Lecter and the Saw movies.
- An adaptation of Caleb Carr's The Alienist in 1996 was scrapped. In 2018, TNT turned it into an eight-episode series, with Netflix getting the international rights.
- Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which was originally started in 1998, finally saw release twenty years later.
- Orson Welles' The Other Side of the Wind, filmed between 1970 and 1976, finally saw release in 2018.
- The "Not Coming Soon" section mentions how Joss Whedon had been trying to make a Wonder Woman film going back to 2007. Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman (2017) would be delivered four years after the book was published and it became a huge Summer Blockbuster, setting box office records, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of the year and, along with Justice League (2017), made star Gal Gadot the third highest-grossing star of the year, behind Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson.
- National Geographic Channel turned The Hot Zone into a series in 2019.
- The 2019 edition of Seth Grahame-Smith's How to Survive a Horror Movie (originally published in 2007) updated many of the rules and scenarios on account of this trope. Among other things, a line about watching a COPS marathon is updated to binge-watching Netflix, a joke about Corbin Bernsen playing your father in a horror sequel is updated to Jamie Lee Curtis playing your mother, there are new sections on cell phones, how to deal with a witch, and how to survive the more esoteric monsters of recent "arthouse" horror films like It Follows and The Babadook (the last one replacing the section on surviving the now-forgotten Snakes on a Plane), and there are jokes making fun of pumpkin spice lattes and e-cigarettes. It also removes a joke about Michael Jackson being a pedophile in the section on how to deal with the Children of the Corn, likely because (Leaving Neverland and the related controversy aside) such jokes became a lot less comfortable after his death.
- When a popular baby-name book of the early 1980s titled Beyond Jennifer and Jason was revised and reprinted in the early 2010s, the title was changed to Beyond Ava and Aidan; the new introduction points out that Jennifer and Jason are likely to be the parents' names now.
- Quite unavoidable with a Long Runner such as Doctor Who — the special effects and fashions give the production decades away within minutes. When the stories have been restored to DVD with new special effects, the Restoration Team have very deliberately shot many of the new effects in appropriate styles so they wouldn't clash with the source material. So the Five Doctors Special Edition has new and improved CGI effects that actually look like Eighties effects.
- And once again used deliberately in "Time Crash", which alternates between the grand orchestral score of the Tenth Doctor's era and the synthesized background music of the Fifth Doctor's era.
- Watch's 50th Anniversary rundown of the Doctors pointed this out while discussing each Doctor — pointing out how each Doctor's personality, the personality of the threats they faced, and especially their personal appearance was informed by the era from which they came. For instance, the narrator suggested that the addition of Mel was inspired by the 1980s fitness craze, and most of the talking heads seemed to agree that, while Colin Baker's outfit was incredibly awful even in-universe, it's really only a mild exaggeration of hideous things people sincerely wore in the 80s.
- Played with in the novelization of "Shada", which was a 1979 Development Hell episode originally written by Douglas Adams,note and eventually novelized by a writer on David Tennant/Matt Smith-era Doctor Who in 2012. As a result, the 1970s setting, which was Like Reality Unless Noted for Adams, is deliberately played for kitschy absurdity — the male companion is specifically noted to have long, feathered hair and a taste for denim jackets (which would have been assumed default in the '70s), a very Douglas Adams joke about humanity's obsession with digital watches goes from being satirical (similar to a modern joke about a fixation to smartphones) to being funny entirely because of the anachronism of it, and the band Status Quo show up at one point, for laughs. At the same time, the Time Lord tech is altered to be more like modern tech, with K-9 being given a battery charge indicator that works like one on a modern phone, and Chronotis's time telegraph having a touch screen and a 'Sent Mail' folder, and it's likely this was intended to look equally silly in the future.
- The first revival season ends up falling into this thanks to hefty amounts of We're Still Relevant, Dammit!, much of which relaxes once the series became a confirmed hit. The Tylers' (and a few other characters') "Chavvy" fashion style is significant, Rose has to visit her boyfriend's house to use the internet (which is a mixture of Timecube-esque personal sites and Livejournal) and uses a Nokia brick phone which is nevertheless talked up, homosexuality is still discussed as an slightly edgy issue in pre-civil-partnership terms.
The second story involves Britney Spears' "Toxic" as 'a traditional Earth ballad', the fourth is a Whole Plot Reference to 9/11 conspiracy theories and the 'sexed up' Iraq September Dossier, and the finale is about the Doctor (and the Daleks) getting trapped in Deadly Game versions of 2005 light entertainment shows, like The Weakest Link, Big Brother and What Not to Wear, complete with celebrity parodies immediately recognisable to the contemporary audience but rather dated now. note
- David Tennant-era Episode "The Shakespeare Code" has a discussion about Harry Potter that refers to the 7th book in future tense, obviously dating the episode now. Its as if they thought no one would ever watch that episode in reruns. Adding to the awkwardness, one of the characters involved is explicitly from 2008, the year after the book's real-life release.
- In "The Time Meddler", The Doctor discovers that the Monk is from the distant future (rather than the apparent Middle Ages)... because he uses a record player to re-enact the sound effect of monks praying. That, and the toaster that looks like a museum piece to modern viewers.
- Classic DVD releases all come with a little booklet which gives some details about the story in question. However, some of the "facts" within them are no longer true. The booklet for "The Romans" (Released 2009) talks about the current incarnation of the Doctor, a man who is now three Doctors ago. The Lost In Time set (Released 2004) claims there are 108 missing episodes, when actually there are now only 97. "Arc of Infinity" claims that Colin Baker is the only person to be in Doctor Who before being the Doctor, which Peter Capaldi may now disagree with.
- Soul Train: Mainly for The '70s, but also for The '80s and The '90s.
- The Law & Order franchise.
- Thanks to its Ripped from the Headlines formula, it can seem quite dated depending on the season. On the other hand, the fact that they just switch the names makes it so that the older episodes can still be enjoyed on their own merit.
- The same goes for its portrayal of crime and police work. As this article by Dylan Matthews for Vox notes while discussing the Spin-Off Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in particular, watching older episodes versus newer ones can allow one to track how attitudes towards criminal justice have evolved since The '90s, especially among its target audience. Earlier seasons reflected the "tough on crime" ethos of the '90s and 2000s; the police were always portrayed as the good guys, the guilty (and the suspects were usually guilty) were scumbags of the highest order who deserved everything they got, and jokes and threats about perps being subjected to Prison Rape and solitary confinement were never far from the lips of the shows' detective protagonists. By the 2010s, however, the show had grown more sympathetic to the accused even when they were guilty, with the police sometimes portrayed as overzealous when it comes to punishing criminals and blind to racial biases in their enforcement of the law. On the other hand, SVU was also ahead of its time in its treatment of the victims of rape, always portraying them as at least worth being listened to even if they were sex workers or otherwise "loose" or "disreputable" (averting the Disposable Sex Worker trope that was common back then), and defining rape purely in terms of consent.
- Episodes of Saturday Night Live, thanks to its musical guests and its use of topical, current events humor (from "Generalíssimo Francisco Franco is still dead" to "I can see Russia from my house!"), can be dated almost to the year.note
- Parodied in the opening monologue of an episode hosted by John Goodman, with musical guest Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, who both made most of their many appearances in the '90s.
- The Franco one was called back when Chevy Chase hosted and appeared on Weekend Update along with then-host Kevin Nealon, using 1975 news-jokes which Nealon immediately complained about afterwards.
- Pretty much every Game Show is dated to the year that it's produced, whether because of the products (four-figure Datsuns, anyone?note ) or the questions (which can fall prey to future updates).
- Other times, they will have answers pertaining to then-current pop culture, which may or may not fall under this trope depending on how long-lasting that pop culture item becomes. For instance, a 2003 episode of Wheel of Fortune has "Life with Bonnie" as a puzzle; that show was in first-run at the time, but it didn't last very long and is now a very short lived footnote in Bonnie Hunt's career.
- Commented on in Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?. The Chief would always read a disclaimer at the end that all geographical information was current as of taping. Given that the show's run coincided with The Great Politics Mess-Up, The Yugoslav Wars and a number of other events, all of which meant that any given day an atlas may have become obsolete, it makes perfect sense. It's possible that the follow-up show, Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego, switched its major topic from geography to history for that very reason, since history is, by definition, one of the few subjects that would be immune to change from current events.
- Even Rockapella's theme song had to change with the times; After the '93 season, Carmen no longer traveled from Chicago to Czechoslovakia, but to Czech AND Slovakia. And back.
- One episode of Britain's Strike It Lucky led with an admission that they were out of date; the answer to one of the questions had changed during the week it aired.
- Invoked with The Challengers, which stated the airdate at the beginning of the episode, and taped a week of episodes on Friday to be aired over the following week, in order to use extremely contemporary material. However, the show only aired from 1990-91.
- Happens a lot more in Star Trek than you would think at first glance.
- The more obvious examples are of how Kirk's Enterprise looked, essentially, like a 1950s-60s naval vessel in its design and style, and how Picard's Enterprise was comparatively bright and pastel, just like the decade in which it was envisioned. Moreover, the original series is full of obviously 1960s fashions, especially on the women. Later incarnations of the series avoid this, more or less, by dressing everyone in Space Clothes.
- Star Trek has a long history of allegorizing topical politics and current events. The original series has a Cold War vibe, with apparently the Federation standing in for the United States (or possibly NATO), the Klingon Empire standing in for the Soviet Union (or possibly the Warsaw Pact), and the Romulan Star Empire standing in for Maoist China (although aesthetically, the Klingons and Romulans resemble Space Mongols and Space Romans respectively). This reaches its logical conclusion with Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the last movie with the original cast, which makes the Klingons-as-Soviets metaphor very blatant as it allegorizes the then-ongoing Great Politics Mess Up. In Star Trek: The Next Generation, which began during the glasnost era and continued through the end of the Cold War, the Klingons are now allies of the Federation. Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek Into Darkness draw upon The War on Terror for inspiration. Star Trek Beyond seems to be a commentary on the rising tide of populist nationalism in the West during the 2010s, with the Federation now apparently standing in for the United Nations or possibly The European Union. And so on.
- The late 2000s-early 2010s reboot films will, no doubt, be seen as UPPs just like their predecessors once enough time has passed. The War on Terror paranoia and "9/11 was an inside job"-influenced Into Darkness already seems a bit passé, what with the sudden rise of ISIL.
- Episodes of The Price Is Right from the 20th century often included outdated technology such as VCRs and phonographs, the vehicles offered during the 1980s bled then-contemporary structure and design, and showcases often included pop music from the 1980s. At one point the Giant Price Tag was very, VERY 1980s, featuring the show's logo on a Space/Futuristic background. As the contestants were always pulled directly from the audience, the fashions and cultures of the 1970s and '80s were very prevalent.
- Price actually stayed stuck in the 1980s well into the early 2000s, given their insistence on using physical props instead of video monitors, a set that went mostly unchanged for 20 years, and of course, the prominent use of Edd Kalehoff's Moog synthesizer in their theme tune (it's still there, by the way).
- British panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks falls into this, with many of the show's jokes referring to subjects topical at the time, many of the songs being referenced falling out of vogue a couple of years or so after the episode's original airing and having numerous guests who ended up becoming One-Hit Wonders (in the latter case, some of these guests had already become obscure by the time they appeared on the show). As well as this, the theme song changed with the times, to an indie-style version of itself in 2006.
- For example, the first episode (made in 1996) had the drummer from Dodgy as one of the guests (the band faded into obscurity in the late 1990s) and one of the intros was "I Love, You Love, Me Love" by Gary Glitter who didn't have a joke made at his expense.note
- A more recent example would be the times Simon Amstell mocked Amy Winehouse's alcoholism.
- Pick any long running Toku franchise, and you'll probably be able to guess the decade from the fashions alone. For example...
- Ultraman is most definitely a product of the '60s, if only for tone. While it still had many of the super science trappings of the late '50s, its tone of hope for the future and building a better tomorrow are more in line for what '60s Toku was becoming.
- For that matter, many of the Ultra series date themselves through aesthetics alone, with hippies showing up in both Ace and Jack, and an early seventies Psychedelic Rock song in one ep of Return of Ultraman.
- The first five Kamen Rider series (Kamen Rider through Kamen Rider Stronger) are essentially products of the 1970s, given the heroes' fashions.
- Kamen Rider Super-1 also manages to date itself through both clothing and background music, as well as the fact that Super 1's bike is a reference to Chips.
- Super Sentai and by proxy Power Rangers have tendencies to appear dated to the year they came out depending on the season's clothing, hairstyles and technology; especially those used by the heroes.
- The producers Freaks and Geeks avoided the tendency of teen shows to fall into this by making an intentional period piece, setting the show in 1980-81.
- The Inspector Morse episode "The Wench is Dead" can instantly be dated to the mid-1990s when Adele Cecil makes a telephone call from a public booth, using a prepaid card. A few years earlier, she'd have used cash; a few years later, and she'd have been carrying a mobile phone.
- Police, Camera, Action! is an interesting example of this; the 1994-2000 series definitely shows itself to be a product of the 1990s, with grainy VHS police video footage and camcorder footage from the U.S. But then the 2000-2002 series shows itself to be from the Turn of the Millennium due to then-new Jai/ProViDa police footage and a preference for sedan cars when nowadays it would be crossover SUVs, and the distinct lack of any social media hashtags that most modern shows would have at the bottom of the screen. The 2007-2008 series doesn't even mention social media. A Continuity Reboot would probably include all these things.
- Shows dedicated to then-contemporary culture, such as Top of the Pops, easily betray their first airing date not just down to the period, but even to a certain point in a year, by covering specific works shortly after their release.
- Programmes that show reviews of various goods, such as Top Gear, can be dated with relative ease just by looking at what is described at the new thing in the specific episode.
- Certain flavours of Very Special Episode can be precisely dated to a specific era. The most infamous is the AIDS VSE, which spanned from the late-80s to the mid-90s. Generally, a character we have never seen before (and will never see again) is introduced only to announce that he or she has AIDS, and all the regular characters spend the rest of the episode attempting to confront their own prejudices and destigmatize the disease, invariably mentioning that it is not a "bad person's disease" and that all sufferers are victims. Another ubiquitous feature of the AIDS VSE is the characters abruptly halting the plot to discuss all the ways you can and cannot get AIDS.
- Many, but not all, political songs fall into this category. To name a few:
- Gil Scott-Heron's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised ripped into many popular culture icons, advertising campaigns and public figures from 1971, when the song was released.
- Songs about apartheid rule such as Free Nelson Mandela by Special A.K.A. Just 6 years after the song was released, Mandela was released from prison.
- Elvis Costello's Oliver's Army, which name-checked various places that were geopolitical hot spots in the late 1970s.
- Just about any song about The Vietnam War.
- Heaven 17's Fascist Groove Thang is firmly planted in the year 1980, due to mention of Ronald Reagan as 'President Elect'.
- Much of the references in political 1980s hardcore punk like Dead Kennedys ("Holiday in Cambodia") and Minutemen ("Viet Nam", "West Germany").
- Astoundingly, the Dead Kennedys' "California Uber Alles" was suddenly relevant again when Jerry Brown was re-elected California governor about 30 years after the song was recorded.
- John Rich's "Shuttin' Detroit Down" protested the government bailouts of General Motors in 2008-09.
- Darryl Worley's "Keep the Change", a 2010 song ranting against the Obama administration.
- It is the tradition in Trinidadian Calypso to sing about about current events such as politics, news stories, and other calypso singers who are popular at the time. As a result, old calypso is a great time capsule into whatever period it was recorded in.
- Each of "Weird Al" Yankovic's albums is largely a product of the year it was recorded, as Al fills the albums with parodies of popular music at the time or older songs parodied in a way that references current pop culture:
- His self-titled debut album from 1983, despite being a case of Early Installment Weirdness, is composed of power pop, bubblegum, heartland rock and early New Wave, also mentioning discotheques and 8-tracks which were fading at the time of its release.
- In 3-D, Dare to Be Stupid and Polka Party from 1984/85/86 are composed mostly of New Wave, over-the-top electropop and bar rock.
- Even Worse and UHF: Official Motion Picture Soundtrack and Some Other Stuff from 1988/89 are composed of arena-oriented dance pop, hair metal, hip hop and teen pop.
- Off the Deep End and Alapaoolza from 1992/93 have heavy metal, hip hop, dance pop, jangle pop with single Nirvana and New Kids on the Block parodies symbolizing both the rise of grunge and '80s teen pop acts taking their dying gasp.
- Bad Hair Day from 1996 is composed of hip hop, alternative rock, grunge, college rock and R&B.
- Running With Scissors from 1999 is composed of hip hop, bubblegum pop, adult contemporary, alternative rock and country, with a parody of "Zoot Suit Riot" by the Cherry Poppin' Daddies symbolizing the era's neo-swing revival, and a parody of "American Pie" by Don McLean which recapped the then-new Star Wars film The Phantom Menace.
- Poodle Hat and Straight Outta Lynwood from 2003 and 2006 are composed of hip-hop, ringtone rap, punk rock, emo rock and R&B, with some ribbing of popular American Idol launched acts thrown in.
- 2011's Alpocalypse is composed of hip hop, dance pop and bubblegum teen pop. In addition, the album's title is in reference to the 2011 and 2012 doomsday predictions.
- 2014's Mandatory Fun could almost be seen as Early 2010s Pop Culture: The Album. Noteworthy are the song "Tacky", with its references to Instagram, Yelp, selfies, the YOLO (You Only Live Once) motto, and twerking, and the fact that there's even a song on there entitled "First World Problems".
- Pre-Mandatory Fun, Al was a bit of an odd case — he tended to parody songs that were popular two or three years before his album came out, which means they were usually forgotten by the time his parodies were released. This was the inevitable result of recording times, and is the chief reason Al has not recorded physical albums since the aforementioned Mandatory Fun. Instead, Al has turned to digital-only releases, with digital recording techniques and distribution speeding up the release process considerably. This was even seen as such with his parody of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way", "Perform This Way", which was released digitally only a couple of months after the original song.
- The fact that his albums generally contain parodies of songs or pop-culture fads that are a year or two old by that time does help the age factor slightly, though. Years ahead people recognize his albums as summaries of the era they were made in instead of hits based off a specific year.
- "I Lost on Jeopardy" is a double example. Besides relying on a song over a year old ("Jeopardy" by The Greg Kihn Band), the music video parodies the original 1964-1974 version of Jeopardy!, complete with cameos from original host Art Fleming and original announcer Don Pardo
all a mere three months before the current version of Jeopardy! (hosted by Alex Trebek and announced by Johnny Gilbert) debuted.
- "Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota" could easily stand in for any time period for the whole song... until the single line "In our '53 DeSoto". That car was aged but reasonable in the 1980s, but now you wonder why he'd be driving that ancient museum piece.
- Similarly, the car that keeps getting impounded in "Stop Draggin' My Car Around" is a '64 Plymouth, obviously Rule of Funny in 1983 but applies now since they haven't made Plymouths since 2001.
- "Headline News", from 1994, arguably and intentionally takes this trope Up to Eleven. Like "I Lost on Jeopardy", this was based on a year-old song ("Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" by Crash Test Dummies), but here, Al replaced the three bizarre stories of the original with three (arguably equally-bizarre) tabloid news stories that were prominent that year. In song order: Singapore caning American delinquent Michael Fay, the attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan by associates of her rival Tonya Harding, and Lorena Bobbitt severing her husband's... wiener with a knife.
- Al's polka medleys also fall under this. Each album (save for his debut and 1988's Even Worse) features one, and nearly all of them are a medleys of recent hit songs of their respective eras (his first, "Polkas on 45", also contained songs from the '60s and '70s mixed in with recent '80s hits). The lone aversion of this trope is "The Hot Rocks Polka", which is comprised entirely of The Rolling Stones songs (none of which are from the '80s; the latest two songs in the medley, "Miss You" and "Shattered", had been released in 1978).
- The whole conflict for half of the song "Trapped in the Drive-Thru" is because the fast food place doesn't take credit cards, which for a time was true. Pretty much every fast food chain in the US accepts them these days, and an increasing number of restaurants since The New '10s don't even take cash anymore.
- "Don't Download This Song" mentions four file-sharing sites which were operational when the song was recorded in 2005 but do not exist today:
- Morpheus filed for bankruptcy in 2008.
- Grokster lost a Supreme Court battle one week before the song was recorded and eventually went defunct before its 2006 release.
- LimeWire was shut down by a separate court order in 2010.
- Kazaa quietly closed in 2012 after years of legal issues.
- "I'll Sue Ya", released on the 2006 album Straight Outta Lynwood, lists two defendants that have since filed for bankruptcy: Toys 'R' Us and Neiman Marcus.
- Cledus T. Judd, as a prominent parodist in his own right, displays this a lot:
- His first few albums usually parodied country songs from the past two years, sometimes going back even further (his first album in 1995 had spoofs of "Hotel California" and "We Are the World", while his second parodied "Jackson" and "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"). By 1999, his turnaround was a bit quicker, to the point that his fourth album spoofed "Livin' la Vida Loca" only five months after that song's release. Later albums zig-zagged this, with some parodies ranging from only a few months after the original's release to two or three years. But probably his quickest examples came on 2012's Parodyziac!!, where despite also having parodies of songs from 2009-2010, the album also included a spoof of Little Big Town's "Pontoon" less than two months after it hit #1, and a takeoff of Eric Church's "Creepin'", which was still climbing the charts at the time of the parody's release.
- It also didn't help that he sometimes parodied songs that weren't very big hits even at the time. For instance, his first album spoofed "Refried Dreams", one of Tim McGraw's lesser-known songs; his second spoofed "For a Change" by Neal McCoy and "You Have the Right to Remain Silent" by the obscure One-Hit Wonder Perfect Stranger; and his third had a parody of "Mama Don't Get Dressed Up for Nothing" by Brooks & Dunn. After that, he generally only took on bigger hits (with the strange exception of 2009's Polyrically Uncorrect, which included parodies of Gretchen Wilson's 2005 dud single "Politically Uncorrect", and the George Strait-Alan Jackson duet [originally by Larry Cordle] "Murder on Music Row", an album cut from 2000).
- Another example is "Martie, Emily & Natalie", which was a timely takeoff of Brad Paisley's "Celebrity" that spoofed the Dixie Chicks' fall from grace in early 2003. The original had a reference to The Weakest Link which was dated even then. But the whole song's datedness was only exacerbated when it made a repeat appearance on Bipolar and Proud a year later (likely because the original was on a limited-release EP).
- In 1996, the GrooveGrass Boyz parodied the "Macarena" in country form. That's in no way a period piece.
- Most of those CD compilation albums that are released every year, such as Kidz Bop or Now That's What I Call Music! become this within a few years of being released, because they are just compilations of the top hits of the year.
- Obviously The Beatles have proven to be timeless, but the Moog synthesizer that shows up on a few Abbey Road songs is a little jarring (primarily on "Because" and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer"; it's slightly more subtle on "Here Comes the Sun" and used only to make noise for the crescendo of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"). What was considered a cutting-edge musical innovation in 1969 went on to become the definitive sound of 1970s cheesiness.
- To be honest, this is quite true of much music that makes a lot of use of synthesizers, up to at least The '80s (heck, especially The '80s!) due to the way the technology has evolved.
- And on the subject of The Beatles, whilst their appeal is certainly timeless, given they're one of the foremost bands to define The '60s, they do after a fashion play this trope straight — albeit in a positive sense, rather than the negative "hasn't aged well" sense. Their songs themselves vary in this — some almost deliberately evoking a timeless feel, some very much of their time, in retrospect.
- Whenever a Gaita Zuliana group decides to tackle a current issue, it instantly dates itself. This is not only on political songs, but also with mundane themes. "La Parabolica (The Parabolic Antenna)" for example, is still being played, despite being firmly root on its launching year of 1987, three full years before Cable TV arrived to Venezuela rendering most of its complaints (like all —or most of— the programming being on English or its enormous size) instantly obsolete.
- If you want an earful and eyeful of most of the defining mainstream music trends from The '60s through the Turn of the Millennium — Folk Rock, Heavy Metal, Glam Rock, Funk, Krautrock, New Wave Music, Pop rock, Hard Rock, Electronica, Alt-Rock, with a few other styles thrown in for good measure — just follow the bouncing Bowie, who helped define some of them in the first place.
- As a Long Runner, Ray Stevens has done this many, many times in his career.
- 1970: "America, Communicate with Me". It's clearly a song bridging the gap between the '60s and '70s, as the line "Three small bullets took the leaders that could help us all unite" addresses the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr., and snippets from an interview with actual late '60s protesters are heard in the opening.
- 1974: "The Streak", about the then-popular craze of streaking, because Naked People Are Funny. Sure, some people still do it today, but the 1970s was its peak.
- 1974: "Moonlight Special", a five-minute parody of The Midnight Special, a very '70s variety show. His take on it includes parodies of Gladys Knight & the Pips, Alice Cooper, and Jerry Lee Lewis.
- 1986: "The People's Court", a five-minute parody of, well, The People's Court that name-drops original judge Joseph Wapner (who left the show in 1993).
- 1987: "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex" is a Religion Rant Song against the many controversies present in televangelism at the time. Of course, the "megachurch" movement in American Protestant Christianity is still relevant today, and arguably much more so. But it was an astonishingly new phenomenon in the '80s, whereas nowadays it's become such a commonplace element of America's religious culture that the media doesn't bother to cover it that much anymore. In fact, most megachurches today don't televise their services outside of their local areas, though many stream them on their websites. The song's central derision of "prosperity gospel" has also aged surprisingly well, as many people have launched similar criticisms against more modern televangelists such as Joel Osteen.
- 1991: "Workin' for the Japanese" is a (surprisingly vicious by his standards) mockery of the insurgence of Japanese products in the American market in the early 90s.
- 2001: "Osama Yo' Mama": A post-9/11 mockery of you-know-who.
- The New '10s: Many of his political songs, such as "Obama Budget Plan" can be seen as this, due to Barack Obama no longer being in office.
- Fearless Records' Punk Goes... series of albums are based around Punk Rock covers of songs that are popular in the year that the album was released. The songs, of course, are the most obvious time stamp of when each album was made, especially for the flagship Punk Goes Pop albums, with the first one from 2001 focused on bubblegum teen pop and later albums combing through the R&B-flavored pop of the late '00s, the dance-pop of the early '10s, the Electronic Dance Music and indie rock of the mid-'10s, and the various trends in Hip-Hop that have come and gone through that time. One album, Punk Goes Crunk in 2008, was devoted entirely to crunk rap, at one of the last points in time before that genre fell out of the public consciousness. However, the styles of the bands performing the covers are just as good a marker. Earlier albums released in the early-mid '00s have more Pop Punk and emo bands, while later albums from the late '00s and early '10s have more metalcore and scenecore bands. Even if the albums focus on a specific genre or period, such as Punk Goes Classic Rock from 2010 or the two Punk Goes '90s albums from 2006 and 2014, they're still in the style popular in the time those albums were released.
- The Bellamy Brothers:
- Their 1985 hit "Old Hippie" has the titular character turning 35 and disco and new wave leaving him cold in the first. A 1995 sequel, creatively titled "Old Hippie (The Sequel)", has him turning 45 and name-dropping Billy Ray Cyrus and Garth Brooks and mentioning President Bill Clinton as well as Woodstock '94. Subverted by the fact that fans of all ages (even those who turned 35 long before the hippie era or were born after it) completely identified with the song's central idea.
- 1987's "Kids of the Baby Boom" centers itself on people of the same generation a bit more lightheartedly ("We all grew up on Mickey Mouse and hula hoops / Then we all bought BMW's and new pick-up trucks / And we watched John Kennedy die one afternoon... Kids of the Baby Boom").
- 1988: "Rebels Without a Clue", like "Old Hippie" above, frames a man who is getting older and more confused about the world around him in the context of boomer nostalgia ("LBJ was our president" is even a lyric in the song).
- 1994's "Not" uses the NOT! trope popularized by Wayne's World a few years prior.
- And from 1999, "Don't Put Me in the Ex-Files", of course makes a pun on the title of the then-very popular TV show, The X-Files.
- The Seattle SuperSonics are mentioned in a few songs, including hits like "Good Day" by Ice Cube and "The Chanukah Song" (Version 1) by Adam Sandler. The team became the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008.
- The many versions of "The Chanukah Song" include some references to stars or events that are either dead, reference a specific event, or significantly changed a few years after that versions release.
- Hank Williams Jr.:
- 1981: "All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down" references what many of his contemporaries were doing at the time: George Jones was "getting straight", Waylon Jennings was "staying home and loving Jessi [Colter] more these days", Johnny Cash "don't act like he did back in '68", while Kris Kristofferson "is a movie star and he's moved off to LA". In addition to the extremely timely nature of the lyrics, three of the people named in the song are no longer alive: Jennings died in 2002, Cash in 2003, and Jones in 2013.
- 1984: "Video Blues" is about the novelty of owning a VCR.
- 1985: "This Ain't Dallas" is full of name-drops to the then-contemporary Dallas and Dynasty.
- 1990: "Don't Give Us a Reason" directly references The Gulf War, and the US' and Russia's involvement in the same ("Hey ole' Saddam, you figured wrong / When you thought the whole world would back down").
- 1991: "Fax Me a Beer". When was the last time you even saw a fax machine?
- 1999: He rewrote his Signature Song "A Country Boy Can Survive" with Y2K-themed lyrics. He got Chad Brock and George Jones to sing it with him, and it got as high as #31 on the charts before 2000 hit and everyone realized the overblown hype of the Y2K bug.
- 2011: "Keep the Change", much like the Darryl Worley song of the same name, is clearly a protest against Barack Obama's first term in office.
- Music videos tend to date themselves very quickly, especially videos by female artists, since women's fashions change more quickly than men's. Go look at a video like En Vogue's "Free Your Mind" and see whether it doesn't scream 1992 (a big hint is a "blink and you'll miss it" shot of one guy's shirt referencing the 1992 L.A. Riots).
- And a close second place behind goes to music videos filmed on location in urban landscapes — cars, architecture, fashions, advertising — you name it. Cases in point:
- Any music video filmed during New York's Big Rotten Apple phase, such as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message".
- The video for "Auckland Tonight" by New Zealand punk band The Androidss captured Auckland city nightlife as it appeared in 1981.
- Phil Collins travels around the world in the video for "Take Me Home". In particular, he's seen in London, Paris, New York City, Tokyo, Stockholm, Moscow, Sydney, Memphis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Texas, and St. Louis — as they all appeared in 1985. In particular, New York's World Trade Center twin towers can be seen in the background.
- There are times when men's fashions aren't immune either. One of the most obvious examples is The Quick's "Hip Shake Jerk" from 1981.
- Pro wrestling has traditionally tried to avoid this, not because it would cause their matches to become dated (only since the age of television have the matches actually been recorded for posterity, the wrestling companies pride themselves on never showing reruns, and much of the match's story content is pretty interchangeable anyway), but because wrestling is supposed to exist in its own peculiar fantasy world of Kayfabe, and allowing too much of the real world to seep through would spoil this illusion. At least, that was the case until the late 1990s, when the WWF (and, to a lesser extent, WCW) developed a South Park-like fascination with "hip" topical humor, such as openly mocking the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal, or airing a fake home movie called The Blonde Bytch Project. Things have only gotten worse since then, with WWE whipping out the We're Still Relevant, Dammit! card every chance they can get; the low point was probably Vickie Guerrero parodying Clint Eastwood's addressing of an empty chair at the 2012 Republican National Convention, which 20 years from now will make even less sense to kids than Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe on a table.
- References to sports stadium names can become this as corporate sponsors come and go. For example, since 1987, the Miami Dolphins have played at Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Park, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, Landshark Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, New Miami Stadium, and Hard Rock Stadium. All of those are the same venue.
- References in games, movies, ads, books, or TV to title sponsors of events like the Mobil Sugar Bowl, The Winston Cup Series (Nextel Cup, Sprint Cup, or Monster Energy Cup for that matter), The Barclays Premier League, or the Dark Knight Rises 500.
- Movies about breaking certain records become dated once the record is broken, especially baseball movies chasing Roger Maris' 61 home runs (surpassed by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 and Barry Bonds in 2001).
- Fantasy sports guilds, mock drafts, and sports video games as team rosters change many times between production and publications.
- Media references to playing college video games, as the NCAA has refused to license any games since the O'Bannon v. NCAA lawsuit would require paying for player likeness in those games.
- Movies and TV shows about a particular team having not won a championship in decades, including the Boston Red Sox (2004), Chicago Cubs (2016), New York Rangers (1994), or Philadelphia Eagles (2018).
- Footage of a real team play in media, as particular players, team uniforms, team names, and team venues and city locations change with some frequency. Because of this, and expenses to show major league games footage, many movies and TV shows avoid the trope by showing fake teams or archival USFL, NASL, or WHA footage with much lower expenses.
- References to teams that have relocated cities, especially teams that played for decades like the LA or Oakland Raiders, Montreal Expos, San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, or Seattle (Super)Sonics.note
- Trivia games in general can fall into this. Aside from political changes like The Great Politics Mess-Up, many are pop culture based, or have pop culture categories, and make no sense to someone just a few years out of the original audience. Plus, what was obscure trivia when the game was published might be common knowledge a few years later (like the fate of Apollo 13 before and after the release of the movie). And that's ignoring cases of Science Marches On, Dated History, and other things that can make the "correct" answer just plain wrong.
- Aristophanes drew heavily on (late 5th and early 4th centuries BC) current events for his plots and jokes, and so the roll of eleven plays of his that survived had debaffler text called scholia in the margins because some of the jokes needed explaining relatively quickly.
- The Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time performance at Universal Studios theme parks, specifically the pre-show, which talks about all of the fascinating new technologies that Cyberdyne is working on. Problem is, the attraction first opened in 1996, and it remained in use, unchanged, for almost twenty years. Today, most guests probably have smartphones in their pockets and purses, and various gadgets in their homes, that can put to shame the "advanced" computers and robotics on display — and that's to say nothing of the cameo by Shaquille O'Neal and the reference to Murder, She Wrote! Universal eventually closed the attraction at the Hollywood park in 2012 partly for this reasonnote , followed by the Orlando attraction in 2017, but it's still open at the Japan park for anyone who wants to make like Kyle Reese and go back in time twenty years.
- The Orlando attraction, for what it's worth, added a new pre-show in 2015 in an attempt to bring it more up-to-date. It swaps out the Cassette Futurism of the original '90s version in favor of a Silicon Valley-inspired aesthetic, while replacing Shaq with an anonymous soccer player and showcasing modern Predator drones in the section on Cyberdyne's military technology. All it did was shine a spotlight on how dated the rest of the show was, between period slang like "bust a move" and aging animatronics and special effects, hence why it failed to save the attraction in the long run.
- The now-closed Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast first opened in 2003, meaning that it represented the Nickelodeon of that time, with the likes of Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, The Wild Thornberrys, and the classic Nickelodeon splat logo being in it. Therefore, the ride started becoming this as early as 2006 when Jimmy Neutron's show was cancelled, and it really became this by the time it closed in 2011.
- E.T. Adventure is the oldest ride still remaining at Universal Studios Florida and for the most part is largely unchanged from what it was when it first opened. As a result, the ride definitely carries a serious "'90s" feel to it, with its dated animatronics and effects. Unlike most examples, though, it's less due to the actual specifics of the ride (being based on a classic '80s movie, there isn't much in the way of dated tech or pop culture references) and more due to the generally out-of-place feeling of being the only Disney-style "dark ride" in the park. Reportedly, the only reason it's being kept around is because Steven Spielberg heard about its closure at the Californian and Japanese parks, and threatened to end his relationship with the company if the Florida one was ever removed.
- The entire "Woody Woodpecker's KidZone" area E.T. Adventure is housed in falls under this, as it's entirely themed around properties that were popular in the '90s but little more than footnotes today: An American Tail, Curious George, and Barney & Friends, as well as Woody Woodpecker himself, who had a brief revival in 1999 with The New Woody Woodpecker Show. The only major change to the area since its opening was a SpongeBob SquarePants store added in the 2010s.
- Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios long featured Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure, a parody show featuring the two slackers from the 1989 film (and various villains) using their time traveling phone booth to bring celebrities and fictional characters from whatever was recent in pop culture; while the initial show was a horror-themed comedy and featured subjects more relevant to the subject matter and location (like Jason Voorhees and Doc Brown), subsequent years were in the vein of the Scary Movie series and similar parodies. Some examples:
- 2006 featured Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth Swan, and Davy Jones, The Juggernaut and Magneto, Lex Luthor, and Tom Cruise when he was at the height of his public insanity and participation in Scientology.
- 2008 featured Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Speed Racer, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (with the elderly Harrison Ford taking a bong hit to help his glaucoma and arriving on an electric scooter), Miley Cyrus (early in her "crazy" phase when she was still trying to balance her Hannah Montana image with her desire to go buck wild), Rambo, Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Joker from The Dark Knight.
- Tomorrowland at Disneyland got hit with this twice during its lifespan. The original park's Raygun Gothic vision of the future became outdated within just a decade, causing them to start making updates to the park over the course of The '70s and The '80s. "Flight to the Moon", for instance, became "Mission to Mars" after the Apollo landings. Of course, by The '90s these visions of the future were also outdated.note In 1998, the Disneyland designers finally threw up their hands and embraced Tomorrowland's Zeerust, redoing it as a retro-future area inspired by classic sci-fi and Eurodisney's Discoveryland. This redo was poorly-received, however, due to mostly being a hasty repaint of the original, sleek color palette with rusty, earthy colors. The infamous "copper" Space Mountain only lasted until 2003, and the rest limped on until around the late aughts, at which point work began to revert it back to its original 1955 look.
- They did get some things right, though. Most notably, the original 1955 imagining of the "future" of 1986 envisioned a no-nonsense, utilitarian design for spaceships and the like — and, come the actual 1986, that aesthetic was indeed popular for sci-fi, especially for children's toys. It certainly looked a lot more timeless than, say, 1970s predictions of what the future would look like (just try to imagine Tomorrowland if Disneyland had opened in 1974, and recoil in horror).
- Fortunately, Walt Disney World's Tomorrowland (which did open in the '70s) basically started out as an upscaled version of the Disneyland variant. In the early '90s, the "New Tomorrowland" project was established to update its tone to a more Diesel Punk aesthetic (which involved adding two new rides, ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter and The Timekeeper, as well as a major overhaul of the rest of the area to add details like rivets and gears). Alien Encounter in particular was much Darker and Edgier than the rest of the park—it was originally planned as an Alien ride!—and dated itself quite firmly to the '90s, while The Timekeeper featured New York City with the Twin Towers still standing in its "present day" scenes. Suffice to say, both rides closed their doors in the mid-2000s, with the park's 50th anniversary spurring a redo to bring it back to its roots.
- Other Tomorrowland equivalents, like at Disneyland Paris and Shanghai Disneyland, get around this by simply using a different aesthetic aside from "the future". Discoveryland in Paris is full on Renaissance-inspired Steampunk, and Tomorrowland in Shanghai is more TRON-inspired Cyberpunk.
- Like Tomorrowland, Frontierland was also hit with this. The problem in this case was that a theme park based on American westward expansion was an idea that could only have come from the hyper-conservative 1950s. Since then, concerns about racism and whitewashing American history have caused several of the park's more outdated rides to be re-tooled. For example, the Indian War Canoes were re-themed, and the backstory for the Burning Cabin no longer included an Indian attack. Even so, there's still the generally dated feeling of the '50s cowboy craze, since much of the area has been left practically untouched since it opened.
- Because Science Marches On and Technology Marches On, virtually all of Future World at Epcot — which opened in 1982 and was devoted to predicting the 21st century — has been substantially updated and even replaced over the years. Much as nostalgic Disney park fans miss Horizons, World of Motion, CommuniCore, etc., it's telling that they were replaced with attractions that are easier to update and/or have more appeal to children (an entire pavilion, Wonders of Life, was shut down because it just couldn't keep up with health and medicine marching on). Attractions that haven't been overhauled in more than a decade (the Universe of Energy/Ellen's Energy Adventure show, for instance) get called out for falling into this trope. And when Captain EO was revived in 2010 due to popular demand, it served to prove that no matter what Michael Jackson fans might think, '80s Hair, synthesizers, and neon-colored aliens and backup dancers are not timeless (though they're certainly still a lot of fun). By the late 2010s, they gave in and announced a revamp to split Future World into three non-future-themed lands (World Discovery, World Nature, and World Celebration, gelling with the existing World Showcase).
- Due to Development Hell causing the game to be delayed continually since its inception 13 years prior to its release, Duke Nukem Forever (released in 2011) has the unintended disadvantage of playing as though certain parts were only added in a certain year when they were the latest trend in gaming. The gameplay borders on Genre Roulette as it tries to mimic late-90s cornball camp shooters where you can interact with everything, early-2000s dark sci-fi shooters with frequent turret defense or line-holding segments or vehicle sections where you have to get out at regular intervals, and late-2000s grim realistic shooters where nearly every NPC on your side dies practically in sequence — Zero Punctuation noted that "you could practically cut it in half and see the entire fourteen years of shooter evolution it's tried to keep up with, like the rings in a tree stump" — the humor is outdated by several years, the references to previous installments are years (and even decades) out of date, and as a whole the game is much slower-paced than 2010-era FPS's. In addition, several of the "topical references" include Expies of the Olsen Twins (last relevant in 2004), an out-of-date Take That! directed at Halo (height of the Master Chief's popularity was in 2007; note as well this immediate precedes a close replication of a Halo level), a quickly-killed character named after Leeroy Jenkins (a resilient joke, to be sure, but one from 2005), several one-liners lifted from a "Ventrilo Harassment" video (another thing most popular around 2007), a vehicle section including a massive car that runs out of gas after a five-minute drive (the brand most heavily associated with that sort of vehicle closed in 2009), and a near-exact replication of the infamous Christian Bale rant from the set of Terminator Salvation (already fading by late 2009). Because of this effect, the mechanics that were added more recently (Duke having a regenerating "Ego" bar instead of health, running out of breath after sprinting short distances, only being able to carry two weapons with maybe four full mags for each at once, and being completely incapable of scaling anything taller than his ankles) stick out like a sore thumb instead of "making the game accessible to today's players", especially since several of them don't mesh with how the game is designed (the two-gun limit definitely wasn't made with the wide array of gimmick weapons and Duke's low ammo count in mind, necessitating crates of infinite ammo around every corner whenever the player is expected to stick around and actually fight things for more than thirty seconds). This also pretty clearly dates it to before the halfway point of the decade, prior to games like 2014's Wolfenstein: The New Order or 2016's reboot of Doom, both of which deliberately eschewed several of these "modern/realistic" mechanics (only keeping what could actually synergize with or be reinvented to fit classic-style shooter gameplay, like the typical obsession with Gun Accessories being streamlined into an upgrade system that gives weapons new and distinct modes of operation) and were largely praised for it.
- League of Legends has a character skin dedicated to the Giant Enemy Crab, a meme from 2006. The game is still going strong more than a decade after the meme and at this rate looks like the last thing on earth that will recall the meme.
- This also occurs with works that don't make real world references. In Super Mario Bros. spin-offs, there would always be elements from the then-latest main game which were not retained after the next main game came out. SNES-era spinoffs took a lot of influence from Super Mario World, with Super Mario Kart having Donut Plains, Vanilla Lake and Chocolate Island tracks being a prime example. Meanwhile, N64-era ones took influence from Super Mario 64 (note all the blue Thwomps in spinoffs of the time, and Mario Kart 64 included a recreation of the front of Peach's castle off the beaten path of Royal Raceway). GameCube-era games took a lot of inspiration from Super Mario Sunshine, notably with the constant undercurrent that they were set in the tropics rather than in the Mushroom Kingdom, while also taking some cues from Luigi's Mansion (like Luigi's frequent use of the Poltergust 3000 and King Boo starting to appear as a playable character). Wii-era ones would in turn drop that tropical setting as they looked to Super Mario Galaxy (Rosalina and the Lumas showing up everywhere) and New Super Mario Bros. Wii (bringing the setting back to the Mushroom Kingdom) for inspiration.
- Each game in the Super Smash Bros. series contains a treasure trove of Continuity Porn for a huge variety of Nintendo franchises, but obviously they can only do so up to the time of their release. Therefore, as more Nintendo games come out, each Smash game becomes dated as its content becomes more and more behind the curve. For instance, Melee is clearly dated to 2001, seeing as how it only features Pokémon from the first two generations, collectable trophies from games which have long since been localized such as Animal Crossing are marked as being a "Future Release", and its character designs are derived from the most recently released games in each series at that time.note
- In the original game, out of the nine stages that can be selected, only three of them are from a game which hadn't been released in the past three years Planet Zebes, Kongo Jungle, and the hidden Mushroom Kingdomnote .
- In an odd case of this, the rosters are also usually decided a few years in advance, which can lead to some characters looking somewhat out of date even from the moment the game releases. For instance, Mario in Brawl has a stage, a move, and a boss based on Super Mario Sunshine, which was five years old at that point, and nothing from the more popular Galaxy, which released only two months before Brawl. The same game has a lot of content from Mother 3, repping a game that sold fairly poorly and wasn't released in America at all. On the other end of the spectrum, you have Roy, who was added last-minute in Melee to promote his game (to the point of technically debuting in Smash); Roy is fairly middling in popularity as Lords go outside of Smash, so there's not much chance it would have happened otherwise.
- You can also, more oddly, date certain characters to when they showed up by looking at their movesets. Early additions tend to have much more basic movesets that don't really reference much of their games or get updated to match new abilities in more recent games, while late additions tend to have almost every move in their arsenal being some kind of reference to their games. Compare the original roster's inclusion of Samus (a bit heavy on melee* and missing some of her tricks, but otherwise relatively accurate — but only up to Super Metroid, despite every Smash appearance post-Melee having several more games to draw inspiration from — while her Zero Suit version has an entirely made up new moveset) and Donkey Kong (he's the only one of the original set who can move while carrying a crate or barrel, as he could do in Donkey Kong Country, but his moveset is more that of a Mighty Glacier focused on a Megaton Punch rather than his much faster but easily-defeatable DKC style) to the fourth game's Mega Man (all of his moves are weapons from his series — his basic attack is even simply firing his buster instead of a melee attack) and Ryu (emulates Street Fighter game mechanics as closely as possible, including always facing the enemy in 1v1 situations and being able to use his special moves with the same button combos as in Street Fighter). Bowser is an odd one, in that his personality is largely based on the pre-2000s bestial villain Bowser rather than the Laughably Evil Boisterous Bruiser he'd be written as in most of the games after his Smash debut — in his case, it seems to also be that Sakurai prefers that version, an explanation most also feel is the reason Ganondorf continues to play as a slower and less flashy clone of Captain Falcon rather than more accurately reflecting whichever game his current Smash appearance comes from (until the fourth game, he didn't even have any direct attacks that reflected the fact that he's usually had a sword post-Ocarina).
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate averts this with Downloadable Content and special events that release characters, Spirits, and other assets from games which released after Ultimate's development, such as Byleth as a playable fighter, or Peachette from New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, Link from the remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, and various Pokémon from Pokémon Sword and Shield as Spirits.
- Sam and Dan Houser, the creators of the Grand Theft Auto series, leaned heavily on satire of pop culture and current events as one of the games' main sources of comic relief, especially from the third game onward. As such, unless the game is a deliberate period piece (like Vice City, San Andreas, and the Stories games), it usually isn't hard to figure out what time period each game was written in, even discounting advances in graphical technology between games.
- Grand Theft Auto III is supposedly set in Autumn 2001, when many aspects of both the late '90s and the early '00s, such as the dot-com boom (radio commercials for "PetsOvernight.com", a site that boxes up exotic animals and ships them out to people wanting pets), massive SUVs being a novelty (other commercials advertise the "Maibatsu Monstrosity", a beast that can seat 12 people and cross anything from rivers to arctic tundra, but only gets 3 miles per gallon — which is presented as something between an almost-completely negligible downside and a point of pride — and even has the advertising tagline "mine is bigger!"), boy bands, the infancy of Reality TV (other radio commercials advertise a show called Liberty City Survivor... including a recommendation from someone who got hooked on the series after they got caught up in an episode), and the rise of the Cell Phone (the main character still uses a pager and is able to take some missions via payphones, and a caller on the "Chatterbox" radio station represents a protest group against cell phones — who are finding it rather difficult to organize themselves in any way without the use of phones), were easy topics to explore and satirize. Its setting, the New York pastiche of Liberty City, is portrayed as The Big Rotten Apple, an image that it hadn't yet shaken off by that point. Although the game was released one month after 9/11, very little was changed to reflect that,note and as such, the atmosphere of the game is more grounded in the immediate pre-9/11 period of 2000 through the summer of 2001 than after.
- The adrenaline pills in GTA III and Vice City put the player into Bullet Time, a firm reminder of the days in the early-mid '00s when the influence of The Matrix ruled over the action genre. Though Liberty City Stories briefly brought them back, most games in the series since San Andreas have largely abandoned bullet-time outside of cheat codes or character abilities which are meant to call back to Rockstar's own Max Payne and Midnight Club more than The Matrix.
- Grand Theft Auto IV is set squarely in then-contemporary (2008) New York, just past the peak of the Turn of the Millennium zeitgeist it was rooted in, which can be seen in both the more obvious use of contemporary music and vehicles and in the political and cultural satire. The economic crisis was just starting to sting (especially in the final expansion pack, The Ballad of Gay Tony, released in late 2009), but the President was still the cowboy from Texas rather than the professor from Chicago, and much of the satire was directed at such targets as The War on Terror and the then-politically empowered Christian Right. Its portrayal of New York is less The Big Rotten Apple like in III and more a gentrified, nanny-state Theme Park Version of itself with a yawning gap between the rich and the poor, reflecting how stereotypes of the city had evolved during the mayoralty of Michael Bloomberg. The shadow of 9/11 (or at least the GTA universe's fictional version of it) hangs heavily over the city; the bridges to Algonquin and Alderney are initially closed due to perceived terrorist threats (leading to hand-wringing from Weazel News when they're re-opened), the Patriot Act, the now-discontinued terror alert system and the apathy and excessive violence of the LCPD come in for a ribbing, and there's a massive construction site in lower Algonquin that's strongly implied to be where this Liberty City's version of the World Trade Center had once stood. Its portrayal of New Jersey, meanwhile, is drawn heavily from The Sopranos with the protagonist Niko Bellic's interactions with the Pegorino crime family; notably, there is no analogue to the Jersey Shore in the game, even though just one year after it came out, the Shore quickly became the defining stereotype of the state in general. Regarding media parodies, Dragonbrain is apparently based on Eragon, which would fall into obscurity later on, while you can watch a poker tournament and a Cribs parody on TV, both of which would be unimaginable in a post-Great Recession world.
Going beyond the setting, Niko's backstory is that of a veteran of The Yugoslav Wars who is haunted by the atrocities that he and the men he served with committed, pinning the game to a time when the breakup of Yugoslavia was still within recent memory as a blood-soaked symbol of man's inhumanity to man and a veteran of such could still be a reasonably young man (at the time of the game's release, the last of the conflicts considered part of the wars had only ended seven years previously). The technology present is also emblematic of the 2000s. Niko uses a big, chunky black cell phone with a monochrome screen for the first part of the game, with the color-screen camera phone◊ he receives shortly after reaching Algonquin treated as a luxury item, while smartphones are never even mentioned, which means you could only access the Web either at Internet cafès (which would be on their way out after 2010) or a laptop in your Algonquin safehouse, the in-game Internet being filled with parodies of MySpace, Yahoo!, Classmates.com, Jamster, YouTube (back when they were first getting embroiled in DMCA takedown controversies), Napster, Second Life, World of Warcraft, and many, many Geocities lookalikes.As for the expansions... Niko's cousin Roman, meanwhile, owns a taxi company, and rideshare services, which took off as a serious competitor to taxis a few years after the game's release, are never mentioned with regards to his business.
- The second Expansion Pack for the game, The Ballad Of Gay Tony, heavily revolves around the eponymous Gay Tony's clubs and managing them, at a time when the Hollywood club scene was at its peak. Some of the celebrities that appear are parodies of Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Britney Spears (particularly referencing her breakdown that happened two years prior to the game's release), all of whom were associated with the scene in some way. In addition, the game features a parody of Twitter when the site was first growing in popularity.
- Grand Theft Auto V, released in 2013, and set in Southern California during the very early 2010s. It's the height of the Great Recession; the first teaser for the game prominently showed a "foreclosure" sign being put up in front of a house, as well as homeless people living in tent cities under Los Santos' overpasses, and in the finished game, one can find a "dignity village" in the northern part of the map that contains a lot of imagery lifted from the Occupy movement. Simeon's business also exploits people who try to keep up with the Joneses by using cheap credit to live beyond their means, a clear reference to one of the main causes of the recession. One of the businesses that Franklin is able to own is a medicinal marijuana outlet, dating the game to the time before California legalized recreational marijuana usage in 2018 (medicinal marijuana having been a popular compromise solution before support for full legalization took off in the state). A key part of the storyline involves the protagonists being forced to do dirty work for the game's fictional version of the FBI after Michael comes out of his Witness Protection-imposed retirement, with Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and the NSA's espionage activities (both major political controversies in the early '10s) featuring as important plot points.
The technology has also advanced with the times. All of the main characters, even the white-trash Trevor and the gang banger Franklin, have smartphones with full internet access,* and on that internet, one now finds parodies of Twitter, Tinder, Kickstarter, and most notably Facebook, whose CEO and headquarters show up in the game in a vicious Take That! at contemporary Silicon Valley tech culture. (The MySpace parody MyRoomOnline is still around, but has been rendered "the ghost town of the internet" by the Facebook parody LifeInvader.) Beyond that, the in-game media is filled with parodies of such late '00s/early '10s touchstones as Fifty Shades of Grey, Call of Duty, the New Atheism movement, "cash for gold" websites, vaping, Whole Foods, American Apparel, freeganism, and the push for marijuana legalization.
- An example that comes throughout the series is with the character of Donald Love, who appears in GTA III, Vice City, and Liberty City Stories. The head of a media and real estate empire, Love is a fairly transparent parody of Donald Trump, right down to his first name, with his appearance in Liberty City Stories bearing an uncanny resemblance to Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr. However, his portrayal leans on the pop-culture image of Trump that existed before The New '10s, when he was seen as an eccentric, flamboyant mogul rather than a right-wing activist and later politician.
- Night Trap. A side-effect of having the footage shot in The '80s (it shows) and releasing it in The '90s, when the hangover(s) from the previous decade have not yet worn off.
- Any racing or driving game that features real cars is doomed to finding itself dated by virtue of technology marching on. The cutoff date for the cars appearing in the game becomes more obvious the further the game falls into the past, such that the then-modern cars in some of the PS1 Need for Speed or Gran Turismo games are now almost old enough to be considered antiques. In some cases, they already are; the first Need for Speed had the very '80s Ferrari Testarossa, the third had the equally '80s Lamborghini Countach, and neither felt particularly out of place next to the assorted '90s sports cars in both games! It makes for a great time capsule of what were considered Cool Cars in the time the game was released; if some of those cars have since fallen into obscurity, or (in the case of the concept cars that often featured) never even seen the light of day, all the better. Even games that use fictional vehicles (such as the Burnout, Grand Theft Auto, and Saints Row series) can fall into this trap if the cars in question are closely-enough based on contemporary cars and styles.
- Sports games based on professional sports leagues are this by design, given that a huge chunk of the appeal is to lead real teams to victory against their rivals. Each year, when a new version of the game is released, one of the most important features is that the roster is updated to reflect the real players on the current teams. Needless to say, such games have a very short shelf life, often falling into the bargain bin the moment the latest edition hits shelves.
- 3D graphics tend to age very poorly. What looks innovative and realistic at first often falls straight into the Uncanny Valley after a few years as graphics capabilities improve.
- The Edutainment Game genre is full of games that have aged poorly due to facts being debunked, new facts being discovered or history changing. Unless it's something that changes very slowly like math or grammar, it's unlikely a game will be accurate within fifteen years.
- Many, many M.U.G.E.N videos are instantly dated either by their content or contemporary fads:
- Cheap busting videos were a big fad before 2010, as were "retarded" (i.e. poorly made) character beatdowns and "'x' hates Homer" videos, using a popular spriteswap of an SNK vs. Capcom-styled Iori Yagami.
- Any videos referring to defunct MUGEN forums were clearly made before said forums shut down.
- Any time a character is updated, making his or her pre-update videos obsolete.
- Many videos from The New '10s will refer to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Regular Show, Adventure Time, Undertale, Steven Universe, Frozen, Shovel Knight, Angry Birds, Bayonetta, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Attack on Titan, The Amazing World of Gumball, One-Punch Man, Wreck-It Ralph, Despicable Me, BlazBlue, Cuphead, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Five Nights at Freddy's and more. Now that it's the 2020s, even those videos are easier to date.
- Anything mentioning a retired or deceased player or author, as their videos can obviously only show content up to the time of the maker's retirement or death.
- Anything with a character that is lost was clearly made before the character's download links all got removed.
- Bashing videos in general instantly become dated as the community moves on from the moment certain characters and/or users were bashed. We will not name any bashed users here, of course.
- Character choices in general. For example, Misuzu_M was really popular during the heyday of Markyjoe1990, but has long since faded into obscurity.
- Meme characters such as Shoop Da Whoop, due to their memes fading out over time.
- MUGEN teams, which have gradually faded out over time and are rarely mentioned today.
- Even the characters themselves can become dated based on how they're designed:
- Warner's Wario, for example, was designed in 2000 and shows it in several ways, with his design being that of the older long-sleeved design rather than the more iconic short-sleeved design or biker outfit, voice clips from 1996's Mario Kart 64 and a very simplistic moveset that borrows heavily from the Wario Land series.
- Likewise, ShinRyoga's Mario was made in 2001, has voice clips from 1996's Super Mario 64 and 1999's Super Smash Bros. 64, and lacks anything introduced in Super Mario Sunshine and onward.
- Minecraft is a pretty timeless game... except for those taglines on the title screen which frequently contain references to memes that were popular during the development of a given version. Media referencing Minecraft have it even worse though, as the game itself is continuously developed by Mojang, who keep adding completely new elements to the game world, making those T-shirts showing chibi-fied mobs quite dated with their lack of new ones.
- Postal 2, released in 2003, is a case of The '90s spilling over into the following decade. The game features references and parodies of the 1993 Waco siege, the cameo by Gary Coleman As Himself (primarily jokes about when he was a child star), and a very '90s view of the controversy over violent video games, particularly in its many, many Take Thats at then-Senator Joe Lieberman (who had become irrelevant to the subject by then), even in the expansion which released at the height of his relevance after the "Hot Coffee" scandal. The al-Qaeda references, however — terrorists who all look like Osama bin Laden — place it firmly post-2001. The references are so over-the-top that it can almost be seen as a parody of America's early reactions to the attacks of vulnerable, paranoid xenophobia. It's even more apparent in the Apocalypse Weekend expansion, where a full training camp for terrorists is within easy walking distance of Paradise, and the statements and conduct of the National Guard when they roll in and arrest the surviving terrorists and the player character, particularly referring to the terrorists as a "filthy Axis of Evil" and holding everyone without trial, are lifted directly from statements from and accusations leveled at then-President George W. Bush and the US Army of the earliest days of the Iraq invasion.
- In turn, Postal III, due to its delayed development, is a unique case of being a period piece to the late Turn of the Millennium, almost specifically to 2008, and thus immediately being dated upon release when it came out in 2011. The political atmosphere is soundly grounded in the twilight of the Bush era — including the "border patrol" that involves stopping Americans from escaping into Mexico to get away from the recession, the moral guardians being crazy hockey moms looking for excuses to be offended and only noticed for being too loud and violent to ignore, who are lead by a dead ringer for Sarah Palin, and Osama bin Laden as a prominent member of the Big Bad Duumvirate (the game released half a year after his death, being at a rather weird period for media where al Qaeda was on the backslide of relevance even before Osama was killed, but ISIS hadn't yet stepped up to prove itself even worse). The celebrity appearances are likewise all dated, including Jennifer Walcott (based mostly on her being a Playboy Playmate of the Year ten years prior), Randy Jones of The Village People, Uwe Boll, and Hugo Chavez.
- Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers contains references to well-known games, game designers and game companies of the '80s and '90s, and the computer technology of that time period. Since the 2000s, the gaming landscape has significantly changed.
- Metal Gear:
- In Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, set on Christmas Eve of 1999, it's all but outright stated that the Cold War is still ongoing, and much of its plot is dedicated to making a big deal about how the East vs. West tensions of that time period have screwed up the lives of almost every character present (Gustava Heffner had her defection request denied and was then persecuted at home for attempting to defect, Dr. Madnar was forced into scientific pursuits the US military demanded and was ostracized for wanting to work on Metal Gear, etc.). The game released in 1990, a time in which it may have looked like the Cold War could have possibly continued for another decade, but it had been over for at least five years by the time 1999 rolled around in reality.
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is set in the back end of the 2000s, 2007 for the prologue and 2009 for the main game, but the fact that it came out at the exact opposite point (2001) is easy enough to notice. In particular is during the long conversation between Raiden and Emma about the Patriots and how they got to the Big Brother-like status they now have, with mention of them installing spying software into every computer in the world by masking it underneath software updates to counteract Y2K — something which was still fresh in people's minds in 2001, but by 2009 had been all but forgotten except by, perhaps, the craziest and most obsessive of conspiracy theorists (which unintentionally suits her role in the story to argue points in the manner of a crazy, obsessive conspiracy theorist).
- Each game in The Sims series can easily be dated to the time in which it and its expansions came out, largely through how the technology and fashion (especially female fashion) available to Sims changed. Will Wright, the creator of the series, stated that his goal with the original game was for the setting and aesthetic to reflect the lifestyles commonly seen on American Dom Coms from The '50s through The '90s so as to avoid this trope, but as times changed, The Sims changed with them.
- In the first game, released in 2000, Sims used landline phones to talk to each other at long distances, a black-and-white television was available as the cheapest TV set, newspapers were used to find jobs, cell phones didn't exist, and computers were only used to play games and look at job listings. By the fourth, released in 2014, newspapers and landline phones were gone entirely, every Sim had a smartphone, cathode-ray-tube color TVs were the dirt-cheap options, and the City Living expansion released in 2016 added a Social Media career track, allowing Sims to work in an industry that did not exist in 2000. Going through the Sims series, one can trace the evolution of consumer technology over the course of the early 21st century, and how people have interacted with such.
- In terms of fashion, meanwhile, the clothing options available in the first game still reflected The '90s, with a particular focus on clothes that would look and feel right at home in a Dom Com from that decade. The second and third games, meanwhile, featured popular fashion items from the Turn of the Millennium, particularly with the prevalence of low-rise hip-hugging pants for female Sims designed to bare the midriff, which were trendy among young women in that decade but experienced a major backlash in the next. Finally, the clothing in the fourth game reflects contemporary fashions in The New '10s, particularly the hipster and athleisure trends.
- The Sims 3 expansion Supernatural is filled with Shout-Outs to contemporary Urban Fantasy franchises, including Twilight, The Southern Vampire Mysteries (especially its TV adaptation True Blood), Being Human, Grimm, and Charmed, rooting the game in the time period when those series were at the height of their popularity.
- Perhaps no game in the series is more thoroughly dated to its time than the Spin-Off The Urbz: Sims in the City. Released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2 and Game Boy Advance, the entire game is dripping in a Totally Radical aesthetic inspired by early-mid 2000s "urban" culture (from Hip-Hop to punks to club culture to anime), the fact that The Black Eyed Peas made cameos in the game and recorded several Simlish covers of their songs for the soundtrack being just the start. Its gameplay and setting reflect a time when the gentrification of the major cities of the US and Europe was just starting to take off, and when many previously rough neighborhoods were suddenly turning into the hippest spots in town but still had "edgy" reputations that gave them a certain cool factor. Sims also have a distinct Bratz doll appearance, from the gigantic eyes to how the hip-hugging pants for the women often came paired with thong underwear.
- Speaking of The Black Eyed Peas, the various celebrity tie-ins also serve as snapshots of pop culture, especially youth culture, at the points when the various games came out. In the first game, the House Party expansion (released in 2001) had Drew Carey show up at your house in a limo if your party was successful enough, while the Superstar expansion (released in 2003) featured Christina Aguilera, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, and Freddie Prinze Jr. as NPCs, as well as Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. The console version of The Sims 2: Pets (2006) had Hilary Duff. The Sims 3's Ambitions expansion (2010) had an expy of Paris Hilton in Sofia Carlton, while the Showtime expansion (released in 2012) had a special edition that boasted a tie-in with Katy Perry, along with a separate Sweet Treats stuff pack filled with clothing and objects straight out of her Teenage Dream-era concerts and videos. Finally, The Sims 4's Get Famous expansion (2018) had the influencer Baby Ariel as an NPC, while official Sim versions of Vanessa Hudgens, Millie Bobby Brown, Kiernan Shipka (as a Spellcaster, of course) and the bands New Politics and Echosmith have all been featured in the Gallery as free downloadable content.
- Game mods often fall into this, even if just by some random texture on a wall, because modders tend to be more openly political and prone to Take Thats than developers that are aware of this trope .
- For one example, the Unreal Tournament 2004 vehicle CTF map "AggressiveAlleys2k4" includes this cover◊ of The New York Post from October 2001 in each vehicle garage. Even ignoring that the game takes place 300 years into the future, do you remember which New York Post worker got infected, or even the last time anthrax was relevant?
- The Doom mod Hellcore 2.0 is a more innocent example. The original mod was in development from 1994 to 2004, which would lead to wild variances in quality and techniques, so for the 2.0 re-release in 2006, eleven maps from the original were extensively modified and updated to bring them up to modern standards of Doom map creation. What wasn't updated was some of the textures in the real-world areas of the early to mid-game, thus the second level includes a gas station selling gas for less than two dollars a gallon, something people could only dream of being the case around the time of release.
- The 2003 Doom mod MassMouth 2 immediately dates itself by its opening (where the characters re-enact the Zero Wing intro) and one of its endings (with a joke revolving around John Romero giving you a copy of Daikatana). These date it to the early 2000s, back when jokes about Zero Wing, and how terrible Daikatana is, were still in fashion. There's also a short gag with a Take That! to Newdoom, a Doom fansite which went defunct after 2009.
- The Community is Falling trilogy of mods likewise fall into this. Standout instances are namedropping of several prominent members of the community of 2004-2005 (most of whom have probably either moved on to newer games or been forgotten even by the most hardcore fans), the first featuring the aforementioned Newdoom and Doom Connector (a multiplayer service that, in its then-current form, went offline just a year later* ), and the second including PlanetDoom (hasn't been updated since 2012) and many jokes at the expense of Steam (where it is presented as only a step above spyware rather than the number one emptier of PC gamers' wallets) and Half-Life 2 in particular (jokes about Vapor Ware are interestingly never even hinted at, as not even Episode One was out yet and everyone had forgotten about Team Fortress 2 in 2005).
- The Command & Conquer: Generals Game Mod ShockWave makes a joke regarding Microsoft's Windows XP's fictional "Nightmare Edition", which is supposedly so unstable, it makes computers explode, as part of a minigame intro. The ending references (what else for early 2000s?) Zero Wing. The eventual 2018 re-release replaces Windows XP with the made-up "Windows One" (which will itself fall to this later down the line when its namesake, the Xbox One, becomes old news), but keeps the Zero Wing reference.
- A lot of Team Fortress 2 cosmetics were put out as part of promotions, and many outlasted the games they were meant to promote. There are probably more snipers currently wearing the promo hat for Brink than there are players of Brink itself. In some cases, if the item isn't craftable or droppable, you can even guess how long someone's been playing, if they have older promotional items like Bill's Hat, the Alien Swarm Parasite, or the Earbuds. The "Weird Al" Effect is also a factor, in the case of very common weapons or cosmetics; the Frying Pan was added to promote Left 4 Dead 2, but is now more associated with TF2 (mostly because it took on a new life there for its trolling potential).
- The Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series is deeply rooted in the skater culture of the late '90s, which soon became the skater culture of the '00s thanks to how the series revived the popularity of extreme sports during that time. Even in later games released well into the '00s, the soundtracks were usually rooted in '90s Punk Rock and Hip-Hop, almost out of tradition. Later games, however, did see more modern elements start to come in.
- The second game of the Tony Hawk's Underground sub-series, as well as the follow-up game American Wasteland, featured Nextel and Motorola flip phones as the main form of communication for the playable character. Underground 2 also featured several cast members from Jackass and a plot heavily inspired by both that show and its spinoff Viva La Bam.
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 is a full remake of the first two Tony Hawk games from the PlayStation 1 era released in 2020 for modern consoles. While the levels, objectives, and gameplay have been preserved and recreated as closely as can be, the aesthetics on some elements have been updated with the times. The Mall level, for instance, is now abandoned, reflecting how many indoor shopping centers have fallen out of fashion and closed down since the '90s. The returning skaters from the older games have also been aged up to reflect that they were now in their 40s at least (Hawk himself was 52). But the biggest one comes in the remade School level, where the video screen that once played music videos now plays messages revealing that the school is closed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, pegging the game as taking place precisely in the year 2020. This isn't the only COVID-19-related Easter Egg, either — the remade Venice Beach level now has a plane flying overhead pulling banners telling people to wear protective masks and wash their hands, the New York level has a Public Service Announcement about such showing on one of the electronic billboards, the Minneapolis level has a hidden room filled with a massive stash of toilet paper (which many people hoarded in the early weeks of the pandemic), and one of the options in the character customization menu is a medical face mask.
- The 2010 remake of GoldenEye was an attempt at reimagining a game from 1997 that was itself an adaptation of a film from 1995 which was heavily steeped in an immediately-post-Cold War world. As such, it couldn't simply shift the original plot 15 years into the future, because it wouldn't have worked anymore - for instance, Trevelyan's original motivation to get revenge for his Lienz Cossack parents being sent back to Russia rather than being given asylum in the UK after World War II, even with him being only six years old at the time, still would have had him at 71 years old in 2010. Of course, its attempts to modernize the plot simply dated it to a more recent period, such as Trevelyan's new motivation being to get back at the British banks for making a killing while the economy melted down in the 2008 recession, and the Russian villains' backgrounds in the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan were shifted to the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.
- The Gmod Idiot Box. Thanks to the creator's tendency to put in references to popular games, memes, trends etc., some episodes of the show can often feel like products of that moment in internet and/or gaming culture:
- This was occasionally a problem in the first five seasons of Red vs. Blue. Since the majority of the plot hadn't been established yet, it relied mostly on character-based humor with the odd topical joke, making any moment that makes a jab at one of the characters catching up on Lost or when Sister wanted to check her MySpace account stand out like a sore thumb. Thankfully when it became more focused on its developing plot this largely stopped, though it still pops up from time to time. It's inevitable really, when your series has been going nonstop since 2003. There's also the PSA skits which reference current events and trends, and more recognizably the graphical styles as the series readily adapts to whichever Halo game has been most recently released and video-capturing software improved.
- This may have contributed to why Go Animate was updated and retooled to an HTML 5 business-friendly animation site in 2015. Back when the site was released in 2007, it featured then-popular crazes such a parody of the Get a Mac campaign, caricatures of figures such as candidates of the 2008 US election, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and jokes about Osama bin Laden's hiding. The site's next change in 2010, while keeping the past themes, incorporated a newer Flash software. It also introduced the famous Comedy World (based on adult animation, especially Family Guy), Anime and 2012 US election themes, text-to-speech voices, which led to the "grounded video" trend the site has become famous for and a larger following. However, as the site started to lose relevance and losing out to competitors in 2015, CEO Alvin Hung retooled the site to remove the outdated Flash themes and focus the site entirely on business animation aspects. Despite the outcry at first, past users have since moved to other animation sites, and some have accepted the changes.
- Animator vs. Animation can more or less be traced year by year, given that the entire concept is a stickman rampaging across a guy's computer and desktop, with programs coming and going as a real-life tech-savvy person would adopt and get rid of them. For instance, the third short is a cavalcade of all things from the late XP era, from bundled games like Solitaire and Minesweeper, to Clippy, to AOL Instant Messenger, to Firefox being the big dog while Chrome was just taking off. The 2014 short has an operating system that looks like Windows 7, Chrome as the main browser, and Facebook and and an iPhone as significant plot elements.
- Gaming comics are like this almost by design, as they often reference then-current games.
- xkcd rarely if at all tries to stay timeless. Many strips are made in response to new scientific discoveries, recent culture phenomena or politics. Browsing through the archive is kinda like travelling in a time machine. Watch characters (and Randall) talking about MySpace and LiveJournal in the earliest strips (from mid-2000s) and transiting to Facebook as you move further in time.
- The punchline to this strip becomes more and more pertinent as more time passes.
- Discussed in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic in this strip and how simple things like characters attending a party can date a work to pre-2019 or imply an alternate universe.
- An instance of a comic aging badly can be found e.g. in strip 793, which makes fun of an issue (tech companies' use of their users' data) that became a serious concern in just a few years since then.
- Discussed by Erik Germ in the Cracked article "5 Childhood Favorites That Did Not Age Well". Among other things, he notes how Flintstones chewable vitamins have long since outlived the TV show they were based on, such that kids raised after The '90s may not even realize that they were based on a TV show, and how, in the other direction, watching Sesame Street with his son now is an exercise in trying to figure out where all the characters he grew up with went.
- The Fanlore wiki mostly owes itself to Livejournal fandom culture, which was a dominant force in the aughts and early tens, but almost completely evaporated due to Tumblr stealing most of its userbase. Quite a few articles on the site talk about controversies that are now mostly forgotten or fandom trends that have long since evaporated, such as Cassandra Clare's various dramas or Anne Rice's crusades against fanfiction. There's also a heavy focus on Harry Potter, which was at its peak in that period. While there are still a good number of people keeping the lights on and making pages for more modern fandoms and controversies, it's clear that the vast majority of activity on the site is over a decade old.
- The failure of MySpace was largely because the website didn't innovate in time. The design during its zenith (2005-2006) was largely what one could expect of most websites in the early 2000s. The problem was that the internet moved on from that. The bulky, cumbersome, and unintuitive design of flash over substance that MySpace reeked of was quickly supplanted by sites like Facebook, which went for quick, efficient access, and sleek design. MySpace often had an air of a very high-end GeoCities type of website. And that was further hurt by profile customization: Anyone with the power to create a MySpace profile had the power to show everyone just how terrible they were at web design. In the age of easy access with simplified layouts (which is especially a MUST for the mobile aspect of the internet, which was another failure on MySpace's behalf), MySpace clung to a bulky, unintuitive interface (that was still very buggy to boot) for too long. And once it stagnated as the once popular party that most people abandoned, it especially couldn't shake the stigma of being "so 2005".
- Much like the infamous Space Jam website in the '90s subpage, the official website for the long-abandoned Spotlight 10 movie theater in the Detroit suburb of Taylor, Michigan still exists, and has not been updated since the theater went out of business in 2012. The site retains a basic late-'90s/early '00s layout, with static images and loud colors against simple Web 1.0 HTML, yet the movie showtimes displayed date it very specifically to late 2011.
- Pretty much any YouTube video that pokes fun at, really, anything about the site itself, as it changes constantly and extensively. References to one-to-five-star ratings make no sense after the site switched to a simple like/dislike rating system. Any video asking you to subscribe and pointing out where the subscribe button is will invariably point in the wrong direction because, as soon as video creators start getting clever about that (or start thinking little enough of their viewers that they find it necessary, depending on your interpretation), it moves to a completely different spot. Depictions of the site itself look noticeably off when the entire site layout changes seemingly for no other reason than an aversion to being depicted as it currently appears. And so on.
- Todd in the Shadows has discussed this trope in some of his pop song reviews.
- In his One-Hit Wonderland review of "Ridin'" by Chamillionaire, he cited this trope as the reason why he doesn't cover more recent one-hit wonders for the show, as there's always a chance, no matter how seemingly remote, that they can make a comeback and render the episode obsolete now that they have more than one hit under their belt. He used Mike Posner as Exhibit A for this, noting that, before 2016, it seemed like he would forever be remembered for his lone 2010 hit "Cooler Than Me" and that he was the absolute last person who'd ever make such a comeback... only for him to drop a smash hit out of nowhere with "I Took a Pill in Ibiza" (a song that's all about being a washed-up one-hit wonder, at that).
- He mentioned it again in his One-Hit Wonderland review of "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles, which he felt defied this trope. It's a song that, by all means, should have been an exemplar of such, as it's not only indelibly tied to The '80s and MTV's formative years, it's also about the rise of music videos as the dominant commercial force in the popular music world. And yet, he felt it to still sound fresh, new, and even futuristic over thirty years later, at least partly because it's primarily fueled by nostalgia for the pre-MTV world that was entering its twilight at that time. Complaints about how music videos, and the resultant focus on image that they created, had killed 'real music' would remain relevant for decades after, and so "Video Killed the Radio Star" would always be an anthem.
- Unless your Abridged Series is particularly clever, the shelf life of several jokes can really suffer when they hinge on the current state of YouTube, internet drama, and which Acceptable Targets are in vogue. Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series is very dated, but due to the Grandfather Clause of founding the entire genre to begin with, it's largely given a pass or only gently mocked at worst. As an example, the famous 4Kids Entertainment jokes have long since stopped being current, as their dubbing practices have faded with the times, but the fact that they're such iconic jokes, and that 4Kids' reputation will outlive them for some time, still keeps them funny.
- The Simpsons:
- The '90s:
- In general, the run of episodes that many fans feel to be the Golden Age not only spans the '90s, but is often indelibly associated with that decade in the popular imagination. In fact, a number of critics, such as Bob Chipman, have asserted that it was no coincidence how many fans felt that the show had lost its touch somewhere between the ninth (1997-98) and twelfth (2000-01) seasons, as the classic Dom Com format, the cultural touchstones and the perceived stodginess of the climate of the Reagan/(GHW) Bush era that the show parodied had already faded by this time, not to mention the many fads the show depicted. This would make it an example of an Unintentional Period Piece that's still on the air, making new episodes, even when the period in question had grown old enough to become nostalgic in its own right.
- In "The Crepes of Wrath" (1990), the family takes in a foreign-exchange student that turns out to be a communist spy.
- Capital City in "Dancin' Homer" is a parody of America's big cities at the time (1990), being portrayed as dirty, dark, and dangerous (at least at night). This is hardly the case anymore for New York and Boston, both of which have "gentrified", though Detroit and Pittsburgh are still on dire straits.
- "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge" (1990) is a parody of the moral panic the series received upon its premiere (as well as Terry Rakolta's campaign to cancel Married... with Children). While the focus of attention shifted to other cartoons soon after, these kinds of campaigns lost steam by the later years of the decade.
- "Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment" (1991) was made at a time cable was an expensive novelty, while there's considerable excitement for a boxing match featuring Drederick Tatum, who (just like Mike Tyson) is not referred to as an ex-con, but as a "new face" in the sport.
- In "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington" (1991), the family meets Barbara Bush, and then-President George H. W. Bush appears at the end.
- The series frequently referenced The Cosby Show, as the two were Dueling Shows until 1992, with the character of Doctor Hibbert, a clear Bill Cosby reference, and "Saturdays of Thunder" in 1991, which is mostly focused on Homer trying to model himself after Cosby's advice, being probably the biggest examples. As a result, they date themselves pretty heavily: not only because of the celebrity reference, but because they consistently center on Bill Cosby's public image of the time of a kindly, moral patriarch with a good sense of humor and an old-fashioned attitude. When Cosby was convicted of sexual assault in 2018, a lot of those references aged very poorly; in particular, the line "Cosby's First Law of Intergenerational Perversity" is pretty much fossilized.
- "I Married Marge" (1991), Homer and the kids think that Marge will have another baby. Bart suggests to name the new baby "Kool Moe Dee", after a well-known rapper of the early 1990s but is now virtually forgotten. Lisa also suggests the name Ariel after the then-most recent Disney Princess.
- The Germans who buy the power plant from Burns in "Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk" (1991) introduce themselves as a West German and an East German; each had a "big company", and now, after unification, they both share a "very big company". The reference was, obviously, a lot more relevant at the time of first broadcast, immediately after Germany reunified.
- The Super Bowl broadcast on "Lisa the Greek" (1992) features a fairly amateur (by today's standards) half-time show, while Troy McClure announces he's going to appear in a new show that will premiere after the game. Both staples would be gone in a few years, being respectively replaced by lavish spectacles headlined by pop artists and football-themed episodes of hit shows.
- One of the hobbies Bart has quickly lost interest in in "The Otto Show" (1992) is listening to a short-wave radio set. When this episode aired, the widespread use of internet streaming was still in the future and many children asked for short-wave sets in order to experience the novelty of listening to foreign countries' short-wave stations.
- "Lisa the Beauty Queen" (1992) features a junior beauty pageant, which in the early '90s would be seen as cuddly, if somewhat eccentric little contests, instead of being considered rowdy, borderline disturbing "skin shows" with girls being maneuvered by their near-tyrannical mothers. The pageant is also sponsored by Laramie cigarettes both as a way to get around the broadcast advertising bannote and to replace its controversial cartoon moose mascot. By the end of the 1990s, all tobacco advertising (including event sponsoring) was prohibited in the U.S. partly because of the fallout from the Joe Camel controversy.
- "Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie" (1992): With movies and TV shows being readily available online and the "films on demand" option on many modern cable packages, Bart would nowadays be perfectly able to watch "The Itchy & Scratchy Movie" without having to go to the movie theater (and Homer and Marge would have to use parental controls to keep Bart from seeing the movie online and on-demand). Even when the episode first aired, the notion that Homer would be able to prevent Bart from watching the movie was quite far-fetched, as Bart could've easily found ways to see it, like sneaking into the theater (or just going to another theater that Homer hadn't been to yet), watching it on video or on cable at a friend's house (or at his own home when Homer wasn't around), etc.
- "Brother from the Same Planet" (1993): By the Turn of the Millennium, 1-900-numbers fell out of fashion after stronger regulations killed most of these services, so this episode's B-plot may seem alien to those who were too young to remember when they were popular. Ditto for the record and tape club scams where the first 10 albums are a penny before the prices are jacked up (which, in a world of people streaming and legally —and illegally— downloading music, has all but vanished).
- In "Treehouse of Horror IV" (1993): Richard Nixon nowadays can no longer use the excuse that he is not dead yet because he died six months after the episode aired (though the implication that he sold his soul to become U.S. President and/or not be implicated in the Watergate scandal [since he resigned rather than face the consequences of his actions] is still funny and does explain a lot).
- In "Bart Gets Famous" (1994), when Bart becomes Krusty the Clown's personal assistant, he is given a cell phone, and is shown answering a call during class. Back then, the joke was that only important people had cell phones (and that cell phones in the 1990s were big and unwieldy). These days, with smaller cell phones and kids having them, the joke isn't all that funny or revolutionary, and comes off as odd that a ten-year-old would have such a big cell phone.
- "Sideshow Bob Roberts" (1994) lampoons the popularity of conservative talk radio in the mid-'90s. Conservatism's battles with the cultural liberalism of the time led to it slipping out of the mainstream for almost two decades.
- "Itchy & Scratchy Land" (1994) has a joke where Marge notes the bartender at a '70s-style disco bar looks like John Travolta, and the bartender looks from side to side before responding "Yeah, looks like...", very neatly dating it to pre-1994 and Travolta's Career Resurrection with Pulp Fictionnote . It also shows a cut-away to a completely empty Euro-Itchy & Scratchy Land near the end, a reference to the very difficult time Euro-Disneynote had establishing itself in France, a situation that is today somewhat rectified (it finally turned a profit in 1995 and is now one of France's most popular tourist attractions).
- "Burns' Heir" (1994) lampshades the phenomenom, where Krusty delivers a pizza to Mr. Burns while his show is supposed to be airing live by airing a rerun instead, claiming that no one will notice. Bart then turns to a nearby TV to watch said rerun, which immediately dates itself to 1982 when Krusty drops his act after two seconds to announce that the Falkland Islands have just been invaded.
- "Homie the Clown" (1995): One example of Krusty's wasteful spending is him sending 3,000 roses to Bea Arthur's grave, despite her being alive. She would die in April 2009. In the same episode, Homer (in his Krusty guise) gives an award for "Most Promising New Cable Series" to reruns of Starsky & Hutch. At the time, cable was seen as a dumping ground for old movies and shows while "premium" channels such as HBO were prohibitively expensive, often charging extra for special events. By the late 90s and early 00s, cable broadened its appeal while "premium" services became cheaper and dropped the PPV angle, turning instead to original productions.
- "Bart Sells His Soul" (1995) is dated almost entirely around its treatment of pogs as being current and trendy rather than a goofy, nostalgic reference to something nobody can believe was ever popular. It's more amusing in hindsight, since the show does make a joke around the "outdated and forgotten fad" angle — but directs it at ALF through the medium of pogs ("Remember ALF? He's back! In pog form."). It does end up being somewhat correct by accident, as the main person espousing pogs is Milhouse.
- "Round Springfield" (1995) falls into this partly for the same reason, with a joke about the "Ultimate Pog" which bears the likeness of Steve Allen - like the above episode from a season later, it was made at the height of the pogs craze, and the "outdated fad" is supposed to be Steve Allen. Moreover, Allen died in 2000.
- The episode "Homerpalooza" (1996) focuses on the pop culture at the time, more precisely on alternative rock, hip-hop, and the first incarnation of Lollapalooza (here fictionalized as "Hullabalooza"). Among the episode's guest stars were The Smashing Pumpkins, one of whom, Jonathan Melvoin, died from an overdose only two months later, with another, Jimmy Chamberlin, being kicked out of the group over it. In another scene, the record store clerk has no idea about Apple computers, one year before Steve Jobs returned to the company. That said, the overall plot of the episode, about Homer feeling like he's out of the loop with current trends and desperate to prove that he's still 'hip', is one that will remain timeless; the fact that the trends in question are no longer relevant only makes the episode's central theme about how being cool is overrated stand out that much more. One scene in particular, a flashback in which a teenage Homer gets into a fight with his dad over the '70s rock music he listens to, has gained new currency in the internet age for this reason.
You wouldn't understand, Dad. You're not 'with it'. Abe Simpson:
I used to be 'with it', and then they changed what 'it' was. Now what I'm with isn't 'it', and what's 'it' seems weird and scary to me. It'll happen to you! Homer:
No way, man. We're gonna keep on rocking forever! Forever! Forever! <cut to present day> Forever. Forever. Forever...
- The overall plot of "Two Bad Neighbors" (1996), where Homer gets into a fight with former President George H. W. Bush, became this after Barbara Bush's death in 2018, followed by George's own death seven months later, but the ending where Homer becomes friends with Gerald Ford already became this after Ford's death in 2006.
- The "hip" kids Lisa makes friends with in "Summer of 4 Ft. 2" (1996) embody the "indie" atmosphere of the time as much as the Hullabalooza acts.
- In "You Only Move Twice" (1996), one way that Cypress Creek Elementary School is shown to be incredibly advanced is that they have their own website. On the DVD Commentary, the writers admit that this is one of the show's most-dated jokes, as anything and everything (legal or otherwise) has a website (or, at the very least, an account with a social media site, like Twitter or Facebook), and the novelty of advancement has worn off significantly.
- During the same episode, Homer tells Hank Scorpio that he dreams of owning the Dallas Cowboys, and is very disappointed in the end after he discovers that Hank Scorpio got him the Denver Broncos instead. At the time, the Cowboys had recently won 3 Super Bowls in a 4-year span, while the Broncos were a Butt-Monkey in the NFL, having lost all their prior Super Bowl appearances in blowouts. Since this episode aired, the Cowboys haven't even made their conference championship, while the Broncos have had 4 Super Bowl appearances, winning 3 of them (one of which, Super Bowl XXXIII, was the subject of season 10's "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday" in 1999). So, to modern viewers, it seems like Homer did well after all.
- "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" (1997) is a perfect encapsulation of the nineties' obsession with Totally Radical characters with attitude and the desperate (and usually failed) attempts by corporations to appeal to kids of the time with forced hipness. It still works fairly well, though, as a major point to Poochie's character is that he's based on the few ideas of what the kids are doing that could trickle upward into the executive's office — meaning that as the years go on, he becomes even more pathetically outdated.
- "The Last Temptation of Krust" (1998) deals with Krusty's family-friendly (and rather politically-incorrect) brand of comedy no longer being considered funny in an era when "alternative" comedy was establishing itself in the mainstream. At the end of the episode, Krusty is offered a "Canyonero", a parody of SUVs at a time these were gaining popularity.
- In "Lard of the Dance" (1998), Lisa's new classmate has a cell-phone. It was supposed to serve as an indicator of how mature and grown-up she is, or at least is attempting to act. Today, with cell-phones being far more common (to the point that some kids her age may actually have one, whether or not it was at their parents' insistence), viewers these days are probably more likely to complain about how bulky and primitive 1990s cell-phones looked instead of the idea of a second-grader actually having a cell-phone in the first place. Alex's fashion "sense" (and her eagerness on hooking up with boys) would have been common, if quite scandalous in the late 90s and 2000s, but it becomes downright cringeworthy on the eyes of the 2010s.
- "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace" (1998) features Homer fawning over Thomas Alva Edison as the greatest inventor of all time. In later years it became more well-known that many of his "inventions" were actually created by his European immigrant employees (most notably Nikola Tesla's work on the electric lamp), his sole output in many cases being taking the credit for them, and his generally less-savory behaviors (i.e. patent-trolling in the film industry or his propaganda campaigns against alternating current) became more well-known. While it's not implausible for someone to continue to idolize Edison, it seems like the sort of thing Lisa, if nobody else, would point out.
- "Beyond Blunderdome" (1999): The episode is a Mel Gibson vehicle. Gibson complains that people love him too much and that violence is dead in cinema (he partly blames the "swing revival", now seen as part of the "corporate reaction" on the music industry of the late '90s against the alternative boom). He ruins his career by filming a hyper-violent adaptation of a classic story beloved by many. This is not an ironic statement. Also, while in Hollywood, Marge sees Robert Downey Jr. in a shootout with police and thinks they're filming a movie, to which Bart replies that there are no cameras. This was a joke. Back in the day. A joke on the Latin American dub about Ricky Martin being a heartthrob like Mel would become this as the Puerto Rican singer came out as gay in 2010.
- Frequent appearances of George H. W. Bush and later Bill Clinton, described as "the President".
- The show's earliest seasons occasionally referred to Marge as "Mrs. Homer J. Simpson". In the early 1990s, it was still the norm for married women to be referred to as "Mrs. (full name of spouse)", a naming convention that fell out of use after the mid-'90s.
- Santa's Little Helper's backstory is that he was angrily abandoned by his owner after losing a Greyhound race, before being taken in by Bart and Homer. Greyhound racing would heavily decline after this episode due to a declining audience and pressure from animal's rights groups. (In fact, one of their biggest complaints was how many dogs were being left abandoned) Many states like Florida and Arkansas would go on to ban dog racing completely by 2020.
- Turn of the Millennium:
- In general, the series would make far less topical references during the 2000s, only doing it in the case these were very pervasive and had a long-term impact (such as the burst of the dot-com bubble in the dawn of the decade, The War on Terror during the middle years, and the Great Recession during the latter half).
- "Kill the Alligator and Run" (2000) features the "party-hard" youth culture of the '90s and '00s at its pre-9/11 peak, even having Kid Rock perform and MTV actually broadcasting music (including a joke about the age of their VJs). The episode also began with a reference to the Militia of Montana (which, like K-Rock, had become yesterday's news by the time the episode aired).
- "Day of the Jackanapes" (2000) features a parody of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? during the manic success that show enjoyed in its first few months.
- "New Kids on the Blecch" (2001). Though it aired in 2001, Animation Lead Time dates the episode to 1999-2000 — not only does the Boy Band parody N Sync (who have a guest appearance in the episode) and the Backstreet Boys, but there's a scene with New York City having one of its buildings destroyed, dating the episode to pre-September 11note . There's also a reference to Everybody Loves Raymond.
- "Homer the Moe" (2001): The "M" nightclub is a time capsule of the trends of the late 1990s and early 2000s, featuring post-modern art (pronounced post-mó), "Cool Britannia" fashions and Moe's amazement at one of his new patrons owning a cellphone.
- "The Old Man and the Key" (2002): The Simpson family sees a stage show in Branson, Missouri comprised of old "performers you thought were dead" (the city being "Old Timers' Vegas" at the time). As of this writing, two of those performers are no longer merely mistaken to be dead: Charlie Callas, who died in 2011, and Bonnie Franklin, who died in 2013.
- "Barting Over" (2003) has Homer revealing via a set of photos he once showed Bart as a baby from a balcony only to drop him off, parodying a then-recent incident involving Michael Jackson and his infant child, which became mostly forgotten after Jackson's death.
- "Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays" (2004) has Lindsay Naegle expressing her desire for profanity on broadcast television. During the second half of the '90s and early '00s, American networks increasingly pushed the envelope, with the inclusion of full nudity and blue language, most famously the sex scenes and the constant use of "shit" on NYPD Blue, being the next logical step... until the Super Bowl halfime scandal (which occurred just weeks after the episode's first airing) largely put an end to that. Even as cable and later streaming productions continued to push the boundaries well into R-rated territory, broadcast television and basic cable have retreated into PG levels of sex and language while keeping PG-13 levels of violence.
- In "Simple Simpson" (2004), one of the acts at the county fair is a hyper-patriotic country singer who tells the audience to buy his records or else al-Qaeda will win. Not to mention that the episode itself is a parody of Spider-Man, down to the "upside-down kiss" scene.
- "Bart-Mangled Banner" (2004) is a 22-minute Take That! aimed at the Patriot Act.
- "Mobile Homer" (2005) has Marge buying discount groceries, which is portrayed as a desperate measure, especially considering the episode aired at a time the "credit prosperity" of the late 90s and early-mid 00s was at its peak. Beginning the following year, and particularly after the 2008 crisis, bargain-hunting became commonplace (and remained so even after the recession ended), while "generic" brands are no longer seen as a sign of acute financial distress.
- "Milhouse of Sand and Fog" (2005) deals in part with Maggie (and then Homer) getting chicken pox, with the varicella vaccine having only become widespread in 2002. There is also a parody of The O.C. halfway through the episode.
- "Yokel Chords" (2007) features Brandine Spuckler as a soldier in the Middle East.
- "You Kent Always Say What You Want" (2007) parodies the raunchy programming the Fox network was known for during the 2000s. There is also a fleeting reference to YouTube's "star rating" system, which was soon after replaced by its current "like/dislike" evaluations.
- The Simpsons Movie (2007) features references to Happy Feet, An Inconvenient Truth, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Harry Potter, Green Day performing the theme song at the beginning, and a joke about "President Schwarzenegger", all of which date the movie to the mid/late-2000s.
- "He Loves to Fly and He D'ohs" (2007) involves Mr. Burns swallowing a comically small cellphone, at a time it was thought mobiles would eventually become microscopic. Years later, with the rise of smartphones and touchscreens, the trend reversed into larger phones.
- "E Pluribus Wiggum" dates itself during the 2008 presidential campaign, apart from featuring then-famous celebrities like Fred Thompson and Dennis Kucinich. Also, Barack Obama isn't even mentioned in the episode at all, as the episode was likely written before he announced his candidacy.
- "Any Given Sundance" (2008) was made at a time the Sundance festival dominated the "indie" side of the movie industry (with many a mainstream film of the late 2000s taking some cues from the sentimental and gritty films that became synonymous with the festival Nelson's documentary being a parody of the style). By the following decade, "indie" filmmaking would move from the fringes of the industry, and other festivals such as Telluride, the TIFF (Toronto Independent Film Festival) and Banff (which was briefly mentioned in the episode) have stolen Sundance's thunder, while the cloying "kitchen-sink films" of the 2000s became a mildly embarrassing memory.
- The plot of "Lost Verizon" (2008) deals with Bart not having a cellphone and has a moral about the downsides of Marge's over-vigilant parenting. At the time, it was becoming commonplace for kids to have mobile phones, while the rise of "helicopter parenting" has made it less socially-acceptable for parents to not monitor their children's activities.
- In "Mypods and Boomsticks" (2008), Homer becomes suspicious about the family of Bart's new Muslim friend. There's also a parody of Apple with no equivalent to the iPhone (launched a year earlier), as well as of its founder Steve Jobs, who would pass away in 2011.
- "Lisa the Drama Queen" (2009) prominently features Josh Groban's music while Fall Out Boy plays the series theme during the closing credits. Groban's sophisticated brand of pop and FOB's raw style of pop-punk would become quite dated a few years later.
- "No Loan Again, Naturally" (2009) directly alludes to the mid/late-2000s financial crisis, with the family defaulting their mortgage for the umpteenth time, but the bank is now unable to give them yet another loan. Thus, they end up facing homelessness. Between post-production and broadcast, Lehman Brothers collapsed.
- In "Homer the Whopper" (2009), Jeff the Comic Book Guy, is told that the film based in his superhero comic Everyman (starring Homer) was so bad, the projectionist hung himself with the last reel. A few years on, physical means of film distribution were replaced by digital formats, while the use of suicide for a gag stopped being acceptable.
- "Bart Gets a 'Z'" (2009) has Mrs. Krabbappel taking advice from The Answer, an obvious parody of The Secret and other self-help media that thrived in the late 2000s. Her replacement meanwhile is clearly a proto-hipster eager on technology to the point of having an iPhone. Also, everybody in Bart's class owns either phones with touchscreens or QWERTY keypads (including Nelson of all people).
- Several appearances by George W. Bush described as "the President".
- The HD remake of the show's intro, first introduced in "Take My Life, Please", has a subtle moment of this. When Marge accidentally hits Homer with her car (as opposed to the previous intro, where he runs through the garage and into the house in time) she's shown to be distracted with her phone. The phone in question is a "dumb" flip-phone, which were already in the process of being overtaken by 2009, and just a few years later would be almost entirely irrelevant.
- The New '10s:
- In general, the show regained its 90s-era knack for parodying whatever is in the spotlight beginning in the 21st season (2009-10). However, in many cases, this was seen as an attempt to stay relevant, especially whenever the parody skewers something that has long faded from relevance.
- "Elementary School Musical" (2010) features the "hipster" culture then on the rise while having the cast of Glee in a cameo.
- One episode isn't really timely (Homer meeting his childhood pen pal), but the title nails it to the early 2010s: "YOLO" (2013).
- "Specs In The City" (2014) parodies Google Glass, perhaps overestimating the attention the device actually got.
- "The Musk Who Fell to Earth" (2014) involves Tesla's Elon Musk trying to reshape Springfield while befriending Homer. This was made at a time Musk's generation of tech tycoons were revered by the American public, whereas this wouldn't be the case a few years later (Musk in particular became a punchline for "eccentric inventor" jokes).
- "Looking for Mr. Goodbart" (2017) features Homer and Lisa obsessing over a mobile game in a parody of the Pokémon GO craze of 2016.
- "The Serfsons" (2017) is a parody of medieval fantasy, popularized by Game of Thrones.
- "Haw-Haw Land" (2017) is an obvious spoof of La La Land, featuring Ed Sheeran voicing Lisa's love interest. At the end of the episode, Marge complains that it was supposed to parody Moonlight, referencing the controversy over Steve Harvey announcing the wrong winner for Best Picture at that year's Academy Awards ceremony.
- "Bart vs. Itchy & Scratchy" (2018) takes jabs at "pop feminism" and the trend of making "all-female" versions of existing properties, as well as the resulting boycotts from male fans and the rather extreme measures taken by some feminists.
- Numerous references of Barack Obama as "the president" in episodes made during the first half of the decade.
- Jokes about the Donald Trump campaign and eventual presidency (which the show actually predicted back in 2000) are firmly set as post-2015.
- South Park having run for over twenty years, is famous for being very topical in its humor, as its extremely short lead time (with each episode being written, animated, and edited in the course of a week), allows for very precise and topical humor that often becomes dated in less than a year. As such, it has lampooned just about every hot topic in pop culture, politics, and American society as a whole that has cropped up during its run, from Barbra Streisand and The X-Files in the '90s to The War on Terror, World of Warcraft, and Tom Cruise's public meltdown in the '00s to PewDiePie, safe spaces, Twilight, and pop culture nostalgia in the '10s. That said, the cartoon's use of raunchy and offensive humor, endless celebrity-bashing, nihilistic attitude and "both sides" approach to every real-life topic identify it as a cultural product of the late 90s and 2000s (see one of the examples below).
- South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut references "Don't Ask Don't Tell", Free Willy, Late Night With Conan O'Brien, Saddam Hussein, and the V-Chip.
- Saddam Hussein was a recurring character early in the series (his first episode being "Terrence and Phillip: Not Without My Anus" in April 1998). He abruptly stopped appearing after May 2003 — he had one episode after that point, "It's Christmas in Canada" (December 2003), which has him being dragged out of a hiding hole in a clear reference to his then-contemporary capture by American soldiers.
- One episode from 2001 tries to show how Token's family is relatively wealthy by having them as the only people in town with a DVD player.
- The episode "Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants" (the first post-9/11 episode) has people worrying about anthrax attacks. Plus, with Osama's death in 2011...
- An early 2000s-era episode has the town's girls (with the exception of Wendy) wanting to be rowdy and raunchy just like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and the Spice Girls, skimpy clothes and fake tans included.
- Another episode pokes fun at "zero tolerance" bullying policies at schools (by painting the bullied ones as being worse than the bullies) at a time these were seen as rather controversial.
- "A Scause for Applause" ends with Jesus leading the townspeople in a "Free Pussy Riot" rally, which became this after the members of Pussy Riot were freed in 2013.
- Matt and Trey seem to have become aware of this in recent years, and the 2015 season takes some jabs at the show's 2000ish nature as it mockingly "transitions" into the 2010s with an emphasis on "political correctness".
- Family Guy is bound to become very outdated in the future, due to numerous shout-outs and references to pop culture that even to younger generations today can be quite obscure and incomprehensible, like TV commercials and cartoon shows no longer on the air.
- One episode Lampshaded this in which Peter announced that the audience doesn't know who Joe Pesci is because they're fourteen, and another played the 80s Polaner jelly commercial after parodying it.
- Any Band Toon is linked to the period it was made in by default, since they are usually made at the height a band's fifteen minutes of fame. As for Band Toons featuring fictional bands such as Alvin and the Chipmunks, it is the genre of their music that dates them (or the songs they do covers of).
- Beavis And Butthead, in its original incarnation, epitomized The '90s (back when music videos still aired on MTV). This happened again with what turned out to be a short-lived revival in 2011, making references to the then current MTV shows that were airing (including Jersey Shore and True Life) in addition to music videos, it captured the zeitgeist of the early New Tens instead.
- Arthur has this tendency as well, but it's not as obvious as some other shows. Technology of the era are shown. One episode has him watching an Expy of "The Magician's Secrets Revealed" or refer to Harry Potter releases. Since they use expies, they're not as blatant.
- Some of the animated Peanuts specials come off as this.
- In Charlie Brown's All-Stars (1966), Charlie Brown wants his team to play on an organized league only to learn that teams with girls on them can't be sponsored. At the time, Little League actually was off-limits to girls.
- In There's No Time For Love, Charlie Brown (1973), Peppermint Patty comments that the metric system will probably be official by the time she reaches high school.note
- In It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown (1974), Sally wants to buy platform shoes which were all the rage in The '70s.
- You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown (1979) has Charlie Brown thinking that people will "treat [him] like Bruce Jenner", who is known as Caitlyn now.
- In the decades since Life Is a Circus, Charlie Brown (1980), the popularity of the traditional traveling circus fell into steep decline. Most notably, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus closed in 2017.
- There's also It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown (1984), which could not more obviously be tied to the 1983 film Flashdance.
- "I Dated A Robot" involves celebrities' personalities being downloaded onto blank robots through a company called (Kid)Nappster. This is dated to the early 2000s when the Napster media-sharing service was popular, but which has since been shut down. The writers acknowledge this on the DVD Commentary.
- "300 Big Boys" was based on big news in mid-2001 about plans for the newly-elected George W. Bush to give a $300 tax rebate to American taxpayers, owing to a budget surplus. It was dated even by the time it aired, because it finally did so two years later in June 2003, well after the September 11th attacks and the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq ended those plans.
- "The-Duh-Vinci-Code" makes a crack at Leonardo being unable to determine the mass of the Higgs Boson. At the time of its production (July 2010), researchers at the Large Hadron Collider famously furiously attempted to discover it. It was discovered in March 2013.
- "That Darn Katz!" is made up largely of LOLCats jokes at their peak of popularity. They are still reasonably popular now but have been slipping out of the mainstream.
- "A Farewell to Arms" is a parody of the supposed end of the world in 2012, complete with a stone calendar supposedly predicting this, a belief that was extremely common and widely made fun of in the months leading up to December 2012 but which fell from cultural relevancy shortly thereafter.
- "Decision 3012" falls into this since it's a satire on all the Barack Obama conspiracies.
- The DC Animated Universe, though mostly heavy on throwbacks to older eras, also carried a lot of signature elements from comics of the era.
- Superman: The Animated Series, while drawing heavily on the 40s Superman Theatrical Cartoons and the 70s Fourth World, bore quite a few telltale signs of being made in the 90s. The biggest distinguisher is likely its treatment of Supergirl, who is given a background that explicitly makes her non-Kryptonian and not Superman's cousin (being from one of Krypton's moons instead), which dates her to a period in DC when editorial mandate refused to allow other survivors from Krypton.
- Justice League has a number of rather clearly dated aspects; Aquaman's hookhanded design combined with Martian Manhunter's revealing outfit leaves a fairly narrow band of time for it to have been made. A couple characters got noticeable redesigns at around the same time as their comics selves, such as Supergirl and Huntress. The Justice Society isn't a thing, but its members appear as League members, reflecting the franchise's post-Crisis incorporation into mainline continuity and its relative low ebb at the time. The one that had the biggest effect on the series, though, is the Justice Lords—while an evil alternate League has been done many times before and since, the Lords are clearly based on The Authority, which was at the height of its popularity and cultural relevance, rather than the traditional Crime Syndicate.
- The Super Mario Bros. cartoons qualify:
- It's already obvious that The Super Mario Bros Super Show! was made when both the Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda franchises were still practically in their infancies by today's standards, but the drum machine-heavy soundtrack and occasional nods to Soviet communism (right down to a caricatured Mikhail Gorbachev making a guest appearance) will definitely hammer it in.
- The infamous The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 episode "Kootie Pie Rocks", where Milli Vanilli guest star as themselves. In November 1990, just two weeks after it first aired, Milli Vanilli admitted to lip-syncing their songs - and, in fact, having never once actually sang them - and their popularity plummeted.
- Smartphones and mobile devices, as a general rule of thumb. iPhones came out in 2007, iPads in 2010, and both have dramatically changed the way people behave in a way nobody could have expected. The cultural shift was so sudden and fast-acting that most media released in the mid-aughts became dated after only a few years.
- MAD does this so well that compilation books from each decade since it began in The '50s have been made. What seemed popular enough to be spoofed on their cover at one time might even two or three years later be forgotten. Sometimes due to a delay in publishing what it parodies may already be old news by the time the issue comes out.
- Any map, due to changing political borders, countries or cities changing their names, things like The Great Politics Mess-Up, etc.
- Even just a road map of an individual city or state can become a period piece due to new roads being built, existing roads being realigned or obliterated during reconstruction, highway numbers being decommissioned or moved to different routings, etc. This is especially noticeable in the 1960s and 1970s while the construction of new Interstates was at its peak — they were often built in segments, and many had significant gaps in their routing. (For instance, the designation of Interstate 75 has existed since the Interstate Highway system was first planned in the mid-1950s, but it had a gap in mid-Michigan that was not filled until 1973, and the routing from Tampa to Miami, Florida was not complete until 1993.)
- Highway design as a whole. Freeways themselves were initially more linear and tended to cut through neighborhoods directly. Over time, on- and off-ramps, as well as transition roads between freeways, generally became larger and more sweeping, and the main routings of the freeways became more curved — most often done to lessen the displacement of neighborhoods or landmarks. Also, ramps used to be designed much smaller and tighter, due to a combination of space limitations, lower speeds on the freeways proper (many exits were designed in an era when 55 was the fastest speed limit), and less concern for things such as traffic patterns. (Few early exits provided complete access in every direction, had little acceleration/deceleration room [to the point that some ramps had yield or stop signs where they met the freeway, making it more like a hard right turn than a merge], or had entering/exiting traffic crossing over very closely.) Notably, entrance and exit ramps from the left sides of freeways were used in the past, but are being replaced wherever space allows due to the dangerous mix of speedy "fast-lane" traffic and slower merging traffic (some exceptions include I-290 west of downtown Chicago, and I-244 in Tulsa). Even the once-common "cloverleaf" exit is being phased out, due to a major design flaw where merging and exiting traffic are forced to cross over each other's paths at the center (made even worse by the fact that the inner ramps that cross over are often signed at 25 MPH or slower). It's often easy to gauge the approximate age of a freeway, particularly if it has not been extensively rebuilt (particularly in California, where many of the older freeways still feature ridiculously sharp exit ramps).
- The Arroyo Seco Parkway between Los Angeles and Pasadena is now an intentional Period Piece; as the first freeway in the region, it's a designated historic landmark and will likely never be updated. Many of its ramps are more like hard turns onto/off the freeway, and are signed as slow as 5 mph due to the extremely tight curvature.
- Certain neighborhoods, often in smaller towns, tend to come off like for reasons similar to the above two examples. Architecture may remain from certain decades without being rebuilt, as with designs of certain houses, style of sidewalk (or the lack thereof), or something as seemingly trivial as the width of roads. With today's wider cars, it's not hard to guess which street was built when.
- Berlin is an extreme case in this regard. After World War II ended and the city was mostly in ruins after allied bombings, and the city itself being split into East and West soon after, its sectors underwent radically different development. In the West, more old and ruined buildings were just replaced, with those deemed mostly undamaged kept in place and sometimes restored. In the East, lack of resources meant the more functional buildings were refurbished in Soviet style, while ruins were more likely just left alone. The end result is that it is easy to identify buildings from just about any time period if one looks close enough, as well as being reasonably able to figure out if one is in former East or West (though since the Reunion, the differences have become much weaker due to efforts to modernise former GDR territory).
- Napier, New Zealand is an example of this, due to natural disaster. A major earthquake in 1931 destroyed much of the town and radically altered the terrain around it. Since it was all rebuilt at roughly the same time, and few of the buildings have been replaced since, the town is well-preserved showcase of early 1930's Art Deco architecture and has been designated as a World Heritage Site for that reason.
- According to Orson Scott Card, all fiction is this way to one degree or another, bearing identifying characteristics of its writer(s)'s time and culture. This assertion was made in reference to The Book of Mormon, which Card declared could not have been a hoax written by Joseph Smith because the way it is written differs too greatly from contemporary writers of Smith's time. Those whose sympathies are not resolutely with the LDS Church may want to take this theory with a grain of salt. That said, the changes in language over time and this trope are often quite usable to determine when a work was written — sometimes even to identify something as a forgery, as it simply isn't using the language and conventions of the period it allegedly was written in. Basically, while that specific claim is dubious because he's not qualified to make it, the general claim isn't.
- While any extraterrestrial life that may find it certainly won't care, the images encoded on the Voyager Golden Record attached to both Voyager Space Probes certainly portrays the world as it appeared in the 1970s.
- Depiction of real-world space technology in media can cause this for those familiar with it — works where Mars rovers all look like Sojourner looked strange after Spirit and Opportunity landed and even more so after Curiosity. The space shuttle's 30 years of service are a bit of an exception — of course, other things like the hair of the people seen onboard said shuttle can make it pretty easy to tell the 1980s from the 2010s.
- Pretty much any work featuring performing elephants and lions performing in circuses, and orcas performing in marine parks, since these practices were discontinued due to animal welfare concerns.
- Ever since the 9/11 attacks on the original World Trade Center, pretty much any work set in New York City created prior to September 2001 is going to date itself by depicting the Twin Towers in any way.
- Subsequently, numerous films and TV shows set in New York City between 2002 and 2009 will not feature any or all of the current (rebuilt) World Trade Center which has since completed construction.
- This◊ (SFW) Brazilian ad for Playboy contrasts 1975 and 2006.
- Anti-drug crusades are dated to particular eras due to the drugs Moral Guardians are worried about. In the '60s and early-mid '70s, it was marijuana and LSD. In the late '70s and '80s, it was crack cocaine. In the '90s and '00s, it was methamphetamine. In The New '10s, the main worry is opioids (prescription painkillers and heroin), as well as research chemicals (particularly synthetic cannabinoids).
- This very wiki. Given its reliance on informal writing style and pop culture references, it can be very apparent when a certain entry or article was made (even when there are efforts to minimize such datings). For example, something written in the mid-to-late 2000s will contain plenty of references to Haruhi Suzumiya or Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, while something from the early 2010s will instead repeatedly refer to Puella Magi Madoka Magica or My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. By the late 2010s, the go-to referrals were things like Game of Thrones or Steven Universe, and with the former show having ended controversially in 2019 even those entries will most likely seem dated in a few years' time.
- Other entries or even pages can be dated with changes in naming conventions (No New Stock Phrases, tropes named after a character, etc.). While most have been renamed, the rename history and redirects still show the tendencies of the time. Alternatively, there's even the style in which they're edited, even if you have to look at the page source itself to see it — for instance, an older link to a work's sequel, before it got its own page, will frequently have a pothole to the main work's page consisting of... the main work's name typed out again, just with a number added, to say nothing of how quickly dated locked pages become, either from tropes that have since been renamed as above (e.g. a reference to "The Yoshi" rather than Power-Up Mount), memes that have since fallen out of style (such as the prevalence of linking to Epic Fail before about 2011), or massive shake-ups in the subject itself that would be impossible to go unmentioned if the page were unlocked (e.g. Tumblr's infamous porn ban in late 2018, which saw one whole third of its userbase leaving the platform, gets little more than a passing mention).
- The description of "Mister Sandman" Sequence originally cited an example from Journeyman, a short-lived TV series which aired in late 2007. Guess when that page was started.
- A common problem with Overshadowed by Controversy and Never Live It Down entries is that minor, long-forgotten drama will be treated as if they were colossal, massive scandals that cast a shadow over the work.
- You can tell the decade by those recyclable jokes about famine-struck areas. The same joke would be told in the 1960s about Biafrans, in the 1970s about Cambodians, in the 1980s about Ethiopians, in the 1990s about Serbians, and in the 2000s about Darfurians — the words would be absolutely identical, only the location and nationality changed. Notably, higher political sensitivity killed these kinds of jokes during the 2010s, with no one wanting to have a laugh to the expense of Syrians.
- If a work deals with LGBT characters in any way, it can pretty quickly date itself if it uses the word "transsexual". Though that used to be a perfectly acceptable term for people experiencing gender dysphoria, "transgender" became the preferred term around The New '10s, thanks to changing ideas about the dissonance between sex and gender.
- Gay marriage being a) an issue at all (well into the 20th century, very few people — even LGBT advocates — thought of such a thing), or b) not possible in the place the work is set in. All US states and most of Europe have now legalized either gay marriage or civil unions that are marriage in all but name. Few countries have legalized gay sex and an attitude towards homosexuality open enough to make a work with openly gay characters yet have no gay marriage, so a plot dealing with the inability of a gay couple to get married or the political struggle behind it inevitably dates itself to a time period between — at the earliest — the 1970s and at the latest the mid-to-late 2010s. There are of course many countries still without gay marriage, but most of them have homophobia enshrined in society or even law to such a degree that that would be Played for Drama and not just the inability to get married.
- Fanvids are usually quite easy to date, especially anime/manga ones or video game ones. Contemporary songs and series are commonly used for periods of them before being replaced. It's also noticeable due to what episodes/chapters someone uses in their videos, and to a lesser extent what techniques are used for the videos. Anything made during a show's run will likely be this, especially if later episodes have footage that would be far more fitting than the clips that were used in the video. For example, many Harry Potter fanvids made before the last three films came out had a tendency to use clips from other media to stand in for the older versions of the characters — as they had no clips of Hermione and Ron or Ginny and Harry kissingnote
- Content based on Super Smash Bros. is particularly easy to pick out, given the heavy emphasis on the characters currently confirmed and available, as well as those yet to be. Many "dream roster"-type images can be dated by the characters who either aren't present, or are represented by fanart or artwork for their respective series. You can also see character selections become notably more obscure or unusual as most of the traditional Nintendo A-listers and B-listers got some form of representation, especially when Ultimate cleaned up most of the big remaining candidates.
- One might look at the bonus material included in the Platinum or Diamond Edition DVD's or Blu-Ray's of vintage films remastered and re-released out of the Disney Vault and find special "behind-the-scenes" features on the making of the films, and/or music videos of pop-styled covers of the musical numbers contained in the film. Very often, the young celebrities featured in the BTS features and/or music video are stars of whatever in-vogue Disney Channel series or Disney Channel Original Movie that might have been in production at the time the Blu-Ray/DVD was released. Promos or trailers of then-upcoming Disney/Pixar productions may be added as well.
- Most low-budget movie studio logos from the 1960s to the 1980s use very cheap animation set to synthesizer sound and sometimes, if they were expensive enough, to small orchestras. While in their time most people saw them as futuristic, you would nowadays see a lot of people that find them legitimately scary.
- Any work that references the copyright status of a certain birthday song, since the Supreme Court declared the song to be in the public domain in 2015.
- Any work that references five-and-dime stores (and isn't framed in a nostalgic context) will date itself to the early to mid-20th century. Said stores fell out of favor by The '70s with inflation not helping matters.
- Any work revolving around the Mayan Doomsday is instantly dated to before December 21, 2012.
- Any work that references "Don't ask, don't tell" as a current policy of the U.S. military is instantly dated between 1994 at the earliest, when the policy was first instituted, to 2010 at the latest, when the policy was repealed.
- Any work that references or features video rental stores dates itself to the 1980s at the earliest and circa 2005 at the latest, as the rise of online streaming services in the late 2000s and early 2010s caused many, if not all, of these stores to go out of business.
- Since 1928, the back of a United States $10 bill has had a portrait of the U.S. Treasury building. The Bureau designer decided to park a car in front of the building which would make it vintage-era today. Therefore, the portrait became this as early as 1934 when new $10 bills began to be printed and had really become this when more were produced in the 1950s. Averted when a new depiction of the U.S. Treasury featuring just the building was introduced for Series 1999.
- Any work that mentions a real U.S. President will be automatically dated to the time the administration took place. For example, showing Barack Obama as the president dates the work anytime from the start of 2009 to the very start of 2017. Similarly, any work that bases its fictional president on the one currently in office. White House Down, 2012, and Olympus Has Fallen, all released during Obama's term, each have vastly different interpretations of the president, but the president in each is black.
- Memes in general can become quickly dated, as memes can remain relevant for as little as a week to as long as a year. Many include examples such as "Leek Spin", "Harambe" and "Fish A.I.".
- RPs that allow for a Massively Multiplayer Crossover aspect are easy to date, especially when certain arcs take place, by the sheer number of characters, or conspicuous lack of said characters, from a certain popular franchise in the RP. An example would be Campus Life, which started out on a Super Smash Bros. forum with multiple references to Brawl, the then-most-current game in the series. A greater part of the cast came from there, with a number of characters belonging to Pokémon species originating from the fourth gen, placing it sometime around 2007. As time went on, the mane cast from FiM ended up becoming the focal characters of a B-plot which easily dates it sometime during the early New Tens. Once the RP underwent a reboot, several Undertale characters ended up becoming focal points, placing it sometime around the mid-'10s. This isn't even going into movie characters who like to pop up while their movies are still new and fresh, only to disappear without a trace once the hype for their movie dies down.
- Almost all pornography (especially the live-action kind) tends to become a Period Piece very quickly. Because porn typically doesn't focus on crafting a good plot & characters, less steps are taken to make it less dated. This means, for example, if you were to watch a porno from 1976, '70s Hair and disco/funk music will be everywhere, not to mention all the pubic hair on the actresses. And then there's the fact that porn has a very short shelf-life (most people nowadays don't randomly watch a porn flick from 1994, for example).
- Older shopping malls can sometimes display this if they have not been heavily renovated. Modern malls tend to be very white and sterile, with a vast number of kiosks on an otherwise plain floor — due to easier maintenance and an attempt to look clean and inviting. Older malls will often retain natural shades such as brown (if built before the '80s) or neon (if built or renovated in the '80s; shopping mall growth gradually tapered off in the '90s), and have skylights, planters, and/or fountains. Designs of department stores can vary, as well — older department stores tended to be very boxy and bulky, with multiple floors, while many more modern ones are brighter and usually only one story unless the entire mall is multi-level.
Even the overall floor plan can hint at a mall's age. Many early malls often had a very wide open center court (as codified by the Trope Maker, the now-demolished Northland Center in suburban Detroit), while those built in the 1960s and early 1970s were often a straight line or T shape with a department store at either end (often called the "dumbbell"). In comparison, malls built from about the mid-1970s onward often went for more varied angular designs, with staggered storefronts and diagonal hallways. Also, multi-level malls were all but nonexistent until about the mid-70s; any mall before that point that had more than one level usually had a small, cramped, dark basement that normally consisted of non-retail tenants such as tailors, barber shops, shoe repair, etc. If a mall was expanded at any point in its life, then expect at least a subtle change in architecture along the way (change in the width/straightness of the corridor, presence or absence of fountains/planters/benches, positioning of stores, and so on).
- A possibly unique retail example comes in the form of Palisades Center in West Nyack, New York. Built in 1998, it features the logos of many original mall tenants set into the concrete floors. Given that nearly all of these retailers have either gone defunct or changed their logos, and given the impracticality of sandblasting or reflooring a sprawling four-story mall, it's unlikely that this accidental piece of retail history will ever go away.
- Relatedly, many locations of national chains can be period pieces to the era when they were built. This may be due to the expansive nature of a retail chain, a lack of resources to update all stores to a national standard, or a location being marginal enough that a renovation would not be worthwhile:
- In The New '10s, Bath & Body Works remodeled most of its stores to a plain blue-and-white design. But a few, particularly in older and more obscure shopping malls (especially given Bath & Body Works's tendency to be one of the last remaining chains at dead malls), still sport the chain's original 1990 look of wood grain with a red-and-white awning.
- A few Arby's restaurants still sport large brown neon signs reading "Arby's roast beef sandwich is delicious" in varying states of functionality. Even fewer of those that still do are in the chain's earliest design of a small "chuck wagon" shaped building, with minimal seating, bathrooms accessible from outside only, and no drive-thru.
- Many older locations of fast-food restaurants were built before drive-thru windows became commonplace, and had them added on at a later date. This can often lead to strange retrofits such as the window being on the "wrong" side of the building and/or requiring a conveyor belt to move food from the kitchen to the window. Still others, particularly in congested urban settings, may not even bother with a drive-thru in the first place.
- Any fast-food restaurant with a solarium was almost certainly built, or at least had the solarium added, in The '80s. This was a common tactic at the time in order to make the restaurant seem more open and "natural", but quickly fizzled out due to high maintenance costs.
- Any Taco Bell built before the late 1990s that has not been remodeled will likely have teal blue and purple everywhere. Bonus points if it still has the old brown logo with a more curly font (which was changed in 1994).
- In Australia, the "Hungry Jack's" burger chainnote built a large amount of stores during their late 1980s/early 1990's high-growth period in an American 50s-era Greasy Spoon aesthetic akin to the Jack Rabbit Slim's restaurant in Pulp Fiction, with pop culture icons, posters and props all over the walls. This style was dropped in the late 90snote , dating the stores that remained in the older style before they were renovated in the early-mid 2000s.
- McDonald's, despite its usually rather cohesive renovation plans, may often go through this:
- The "McDonald's Classic" became an ironic example of this. This concept, introduced at a few locations in The '90s, brought the chain back to basics with a retraux walk-up stand design. However, many of them were given a very 1990s-looking EXTREME logo that has made their "retro" nature feel dated in more than one way. It is perhaps for this reason that very few of the "Classic" prototypes remain in business.
- While renovation and relocation of older properties has been a constant since at least the end of The '80s, the chain's vast size has made storewide uniformity a challenge. Many stores built in the 1970s and 1980s still have shingled brown mansard roofs and square panels down the side, often with a teal and wood grain interior. Stores built in the 1990s and early noughties tended toward larger windows and red siding on their mansards. The "Forever Young" concept introduced in 2006 consists of a brown, boxy appearance with a more "lounge" inspired appearance, including more comfortable padded seating and large open spaces.
- Some locations have kept their older-style signs (i.e. the then-iconic "Billions and billions served") either out of nostalgia, having been erected before stricter sign ordinances were enacted, or both. Rarer yet are those who have kept the earliest, single-arch signs — one rare survivor being in Green Bay, Wisconsin, which is allegedly the last in the nation to feature "Speedee", the chain's original mascot.
- Videos claiming the world will end on a certain date according to current events immediately date themselves.
- While the issues promoted by environmentalists have been relatively consistent since the 1980s, one that has faded away is ozone depletion due to CFCs. Since the movement was able to affect policy change and ozone levels are growing back, any Green Aesop that treats the hole in the ozone layer as equally dangerous as global warming dates it to the late 1980s or 1990s.
- The oldest surviving globe, Martin Behaim's Erdapfel from 1492, displays an impressive knowledge of Old World geography for its time... and not a trace of the Americas, which Europeans first reached late in that year (and was not accepted as such for several years).
- As of April 15, 2019, any work that features an undamaged Notre Dame Cathedral, for the Eiffel Tower Effect or otherwise. (This does not include The Hunchback of Notre Dame and its various adaptions, as it was already a purposeful period piece.)
- The Museum of Failure traveling exhibition still includes a copy of No Man's Sky despite the game's reception improving over time.
- Works featuring waterbeds are automatically dated to the 1970s or their peak during the 1980s as they quickly became unpopular in the 1990s (due to their high maintenance) and forgotten in the 2000s and later. Waterbeds can appear in newer works, but are generally found in either period pieces (again, set in the 1970s or 1980s) or in speculative fiction.