Deader Than Disco

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
The exact moment this trope was born.

Angelica: Aunt Didi, what's disco?
Didi: Nothing. It's something that's gone forever and is never coming back.

The polar opposite of Vindicated by History, and a variant on Seinfeld Is Unfunny. This is something—an individual character, an individual song or book or game, an entire genre—that was very, very popular in its day. But at some point, it somehow just got too popular. It was talked about on every radio station, on every TV network, on every chat room (not that they'd been invented then...). It was overexposed until people got bored with it, and it got so much publicity and so many bad knockoffs that there was plenty of time to notice each and every flaw and dissect them under a microscope. Soon, small problems were regarded as unavoidable flaws. The final tell-tale sign is when ridicule, or even hate, comes not just for the thing itself, but for its fans. They become the subject of nasty, highly-specific stereotypes, and gushing about how you like it online is considered trolling.

Ten years later, almost nobody will admit that they ever liked it, and the only mention in the media will be cheap jokes about the fad. It may get revived decades later as kitsch, but it's unlikely to be popular on its own merits again. In fiction (and Real Life), a Disco Dan is a rare admirer who refuses to accept the judgment of history and passionately holds on to the belief that the dead thing is still as big as it always was—usually with comical results.

Of course, twenty years later, the situation may change again.

Sometimes caused by people saying that It's Popular, Now It Sucks too much, but not always: at its height, these people are typically not very vocal. It's particularly common with things that never had a cult following to begin with—they went from nowhere to everything, and then back to nowhere, very suddenly. This is essentially Hype Backlash after something faded from popularity with the haters still remaining.

Another cause of this trope, other than simple overexposure, is a franchise doing something that is widely rejected by the established fandom and fails to allow it to pick up a new audience. Falling victim to The Chris Carter Effect or a Kudzu Plot is one of the easiest ways for this to happen, as fans' memories of earlier seasons, films or books are tainted by the realization that the plot that they had spent years following is going nowhere, is being made up on the fly with little forethought, and isn't likely to be resolved. Consequently, the now-former fans tell newbies not to bother. Ending a series on a base-breaking note is another way to do this. In a nutshell, the series enters a Dork Age that it not only never gets out of, but which rubs off on when it was still good.

Compare Jumping the Shark, Periphery Hatedom, Dead Horse Music Genre, Fallen Creator, and Hatedom. Contrast Vindicated by History and Nostalgia Filter. If a single work is perceived as rendering something Deader Than Disco, it's a Creator Killer, Franchise Killer or Genre Killer. Compare and contrast Unintentional Period Piece, when a work can be precisely dated to a specific era, but it may (or may not) have remained popular up to the present day.

Not to be confused with Deader Than Dead, which is a completely different trope, or Everythings Funkier With Disco, which is actually about disco.

Examples of Deader Than Disco include:

The Trope Namer

The Trope Namer is the entire musical genre of disco. For a time in the late '70s, it was the biggest thing ever, spurred on by the blockbuster success of Saturday Night Fever and its soundtrack. Then, even before The Eighties officially started, a backlash emerged from both white and black music listeners. Whites gravitated towards various forms of rock (mostly Punk Rock, assorted types of metal, and to a lesser degree prog rock), while the black leaders of Funk (e.g. George Clinton) actively led a campaign to "rescue dance music from the blahs." It got to the point where on July 12, 1979, the Chicago White Sox (whose South Side base meant that its fans were black and white in about equal measure) were hosting a "Disco Demolition Night" promotion (see picture, see The Other Wiki for more information), the brainchild of a White Sox executive and a spurned album-oriented rock (code for progressive) DJ. Fans could bring in their disco records in exchange for less than a dollar admission; since the game was a doubleheader (against the Detroit Tigers), the plan was the records would get blown up in the middle of the field between the games. Instead, the White Sox were forced to forfeit the second game (the last time a game was forfeited in the American League) after the explosion led to a riot—fueled by another ill-considered moneymaking venture that afternoon: Comiskey Park had a discount on beer that day (whoops). It got so bad that even rock artists who were influenced by disco, like Rod Stewart, were attacked and parodied.

Attacked on two sides and with a powerful image against it, disco was fading fast and completely dead in early 1981, and with it the fashions and styles related to or heavily associated with it (such as flared trousers). For the rest of The Eighties, admitting that you liked disco may as well have been admitting to cannibalism. While dance artists like Madonna and Janet Jackson continued to take influence from it (not to mention the influence it had on early hip hop), whatever remaining fandom the genre itself still had was restricted to gay clubs, which marginalized it even further. Disco would start to reemerge (or at least, come to the surface for fresh air) during The Nineties' wave of nostalgia for the '70s and its backlash against all things '80s, mainly in the form of Sampling for rap and dance songs (it didn't hurt that most popular dance music, particularly House Music and its offshoots, can trace its lineage straight back to disco). Still, during this same time, The Simpsons had a character named Disco Stu who was used almost purely for comic relief, showing that the genre was still a ways away from returning to public acceptance.

Today, it seems as though the Trope Namer itself is becoming a subversion of its own trope. The newest generation of teenagers has grown up with no memory of disco or their parents' hatred of it; to them, it's simply a style of music that they will like or dislike on their own merits. The Sirius XM disco station probably introduced more than a few new fans, as seen by the surprisingly large reaction to its removal, which forced it to be Uncanceled. Similarly, the advent of the internet allowed some people to discover disco for the first time after terrestrial radio stations stopped playing it. While few new disco songs are being recorded, many of the negative connotations associated with it have died out, and many of its enemies have toned down the vitriol.

Of course, the above only describes the United States. If you ask a Brit or a European about any anti-disco backlash, you will likely get a series of puzzled looks. Across The Pond, post-disco stayed popular well into the '80s, heavily influencing New Wave, Synth Pop and other styles of popular music such as Italo Disco, and in Russia, it lingered well into early 1990s. For much of The Eighties, the global pop charts were dominated by derivatives of disco, post-disco and Punk Rock. Artists like Amanda Wilson and Laura White now carry its torch proudly into the present day.

And this isn't even taking into account disco's influence on underground music, especially Post Punk bands like Public Image Ltd and ex-No Wavers like Material, Contortions and Liquid Liquid. All operated under the basic premise of "take a disco beat and pile weird stuff on top of it", often to great and innovative effect. PiL even had a hit with a song called "Death Disco"... although who was singing probably had some effect. There was also the Industrial fascination with Eurodisco, but that's another matter entirely. This marriage of punk and disco later evolved into the Alternative Dance genre of the late 1980s and early 1990s and the more overtly disco-influenced Dance Punk genre of the early 2000s.


  • Art Nouveau style had appeared practically overnight and flourished throughout the early 1900s, swept Europe from end to end, and died just before World War I, never to be fully revived but rather to influence and evolve into Art Deco. It remained so different than either its immediate predecessors or modern styles that in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films of the 2000s it has been chosen to depict Elven architecture, specifically because they were supposed to be different from Men in tastes and way of thinking.
    • The Other Wiki notes that "... it was inspired by natural forms and structures, not only in flowers and plants but also in curved lines", which would also fit nicely with the perception of Elves as more in tune with nature.
  • Art Deco (Art Moderne during the 1920s), from its symmetrical and futuristic designs, was popular and its were widespread throughout the world during The Roaring Twenties and the 1930s, from skyscrapers, to furniture, to fashion. After the Depression lifted during the late 30s and as World War Two broke out, it declined, and its style didn't help out much during the war. During the 1960s, it was revived as a resurgence of interest.
  • Mid-20th Century Modern (often jokingly referred to as "Brady Bunch Architecture") was derided for many decades. Only in very recent times has it begun to be admired.
    • Mid-20th Century Modern style had been invented and perfected throughout an age which barely escaped from World War I to plunge itself in another war, an age that struggled with either mass poverty of the Great Depression or simply poverty during the Civil Rights clashes, where the cleanly designed majestic buildings were aimed to create a sense of hope - they came right from the future as people envisioned it. Not incidentally, they were enormously popular throughout the Eastern Bloc and newly-decolonized countries. A lesser known fact is the country which admires it most and fights to implement it wherever possible is North Korea - easy to guess why. Once the people began to realize the gigantic glass areas are very poor heat insulators and climate control systems built with no regard to environmental advantages are terrible energy eaters, the style began to subtly change to incorporate modern materials and building techniques.
  • The McMansion so popular in the late 20th and early 21st century became subject to this after the 2007 financial downturn. The average McMansion's soaring ceilings, open plans, and enormous rooms make it expensive to heat and cool, something that's become much more important since the economic downturn. (The fact that McMansions made up a majority of the houses foreclosed upon during the subprime mortgage crash doesn't help either.)



  • The rise of modern art, cubism, performance art and other genres that rely on True Art Is Incomprehensible pretty much killed off traditional representational artwork, as far as criticism was concerned.
  • Science Fiction book cover illustrations. Artists such as Chris Foss, Peter Elson, and their imitators illustrated tons of memorable illustrations for SF book covers and magazines during the 70s and 80s. Their art was frequently collected into volumes such as the Terran Trade Authority and Great Space Battles . A large majority of these covers featured elaborate spaceships, big dumb objects, space battles, futurisitic scenes and alien landscapes. Today's science fiction book covers minimalize the art in favor of displaying the author's name (especially if he's a big name) in bigger fonts. Art, when present typically feature human subjects, human character content being a selling point to today's more diverse (increasingly female) demographic. This is one of the reasons Elson (who has stated that his human figure drawing skills weren't up to par) became less prolific after spaceship covers went out of fashion. Books that have been turned into recent blockbuster movies often reject illustrated covers entirely in favor of using photoshots of characters from the film (such as in print runs of The Lord of the Rings after 2001).
  • Record album jacket covers: Once this was all that was needed to sell a record album, no matter how bad the album actually was. The phrase "Never judge an album by its cover" was rarely heeded by customers. Beautifully illustrated album covers have often made the purchase of an unremarkable album worthwhile. Art has ranged from surreal, psychedelic to sci-fi/fantasy illustrations. Notable artists included Roger Dean and Shusei Nagaoka. Of course, the designers of cover art for vinyl LP's had a whole square foot of space in which to express their ideas. Today's CD covers are more decidedly pedestrian and minimalist; either sporting a photo or group photo of the artist(s) or simply the logo of the band. With the increasing popularity of direct digital downloads, art for music packaging is likely to vanish altogether in the not too distant future.

Anime & Manga

  • There was once a time where every anime fan had to have at least seen one episode of Inuyasha. Every con would at least have a dozen people cosplaying as the title character. Hell, it occasionally leaked out of the anime fandom and it wouldn't be uncommon to see people on the street wearing merchandise from the show. Nowadays, the show's largely considered a joke that most newcomers would never dare to touch. This is likely because of the frustration amongst fans of the anime watching it for years only to see it end without any conclusion to any of the plot. By the time a conclusion was reached with The Final Act, the damage had been done, causing lots of fans to simply tell newcomers "not to bother with it" or "read the manga instead".
  • Poor, poor Fullmetal Alchemist. Once hailed as an absolute masterpiece the likes of which the west had never seen (even gaining a lot of mainstream popularity with those who otherwise weren't anime fans), it soon got out that it wasn't completely faithful to the original source material. After the release of the direct manga-to-anime adaptation, Brotherhood, the fandom shifted from praising the first series to blasting it for straying from the manga halfway through and proclaiming Brotherhood to be far better solely because it follows the manga.
  • Bleach started off as an overnight sensation, gaining rapid popularity in Japan (and in the anime fandom in the West) to the point of being considered one of the "Big 3" of Japan along with One Piece and Naruto. Around the time of the Arrancar arc however, Bleach suffered massive Hype Backlash due in part to it's rather infamous reputation for Arc Fatigue. Said Arc Fatigue also negatively impacted the anime, as well causing (multiple) lengthy filler arcs. To add insult to injury, declining ratings would lead the anime to be unceremoniously cancelled and replaced by a Naruto spinoff. These days, with impending ending to the manga as well, most of the fandom have already called for Toriko to replace Bleach as part of the Big 3.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED was once a smash hit, getting the second highest ratings in Gundam history only behind Zeta Gundam, and introducing a new generation to the Gundam franchise. Fans would start clamoring for a sequel, which they got with Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, the first-ever full-length television sequel to a Gundam show outside of the original Universal Century timeline, as well as a manga spinoff in Gundam SEED Astray. There were even talks that the CE timeline could become the new UC. However, thanks to production troubles and the like, Destiny failed to be as successful as Seed, evidently ending those talks, and heavily dividing the fanbase in the process. There were plans for a movie to be a Grand Finale of the saga, but the head writer was fighting cancer (which is partly the reason Destiny had such issues) and to this day is in Development Hell. This made both the creators and the fans give up on the saga and move on to the non-CE series Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Today, if you ask Gundam fans of their opinion of Seed, you will get plenty of Love It or Hate It responses, and you certainly won't find many fans of Destiny.
  • This trope was referenced once in the English dub of Digimon Adventure:

Demidevimon: Aw, come on! Everyone makes mistakes, remember disco?

Comic Books


In 1986, The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen came out and led the industry into the Dark Age. One comics crash and Kingdom Come later, and Manga is on top, with the Dark Age having become a subject of derision and mockery (along with its associated tropes). However, manga (along with its close relative Anime) is being hit hard by ignorances such as All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles. Now we're back to superhero comics which are in what is called The Modern Age of Comic Books, a synthesis of campy Silver Age classics, Darker and Edgier (where it actually works for the concept), and some Bronze Age-style commentary all trying to live in the "Real World" most of the time. Sales are dismal compared to the Dark Age (with brief surges in popularity following movie releases or Crisis Crossover storylines) and earlier, but trade paperbacks, movie options, and digital distribution help the comics companies to make more money with a less popular product.
  • Letters pages in comic books. While not completely dead (the odd comic book still has them from time to time) the rise of message boards, twitter and facebook has pretty much rendered them superfluous - why bother writing to the writer directly when you can just comment on his Twitter account?
  • Supplemental articles and essays. Comic books often were like magazines. The writers often included inside the comics (often in the back pages) editorials, articles, short stories, and prose pieces that gave a look inside not only their creative processes, but also the work that goes into creating their comics. For the most part, this was discontinued quite some time ago to cut back on costs and leave more room for advertisements.
    • These changes are also related to changes in the law and buying habits of the readers. It used to be that having a page or two of text in a comic (a letters page counted) allowed the publisher to mail subscriptions at a cheaper postal rate. That law is different now, and most comics are no longer purchased through subscriptions anyway, so the letters page became surplus to requirements.


  • Todd McFarlane has fallen to this level in some circles, with people criticizing him for various reasons, especially his role in ushering in what some people view as the style-over-substance "Image Age of Comics". As a toymaker he's not so bad, though.
  • Frank Miller, initally the Patron Saint of bringing Darker and Edgier back to Batman comics, no longer holds the high reputation that he used to. It started when his later works (The Dark Knight Strikes Again, All Star Batman and Robin, and his film debut The Spirit) faced major scrutiny amongst many comic fans, and now, even his earlier, critically acclaimed works are being hit with the same criticism.
  • The Comics Code Authority; Established immediately after Dr. Frederick Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent which painted comics with a broad brush as contributing to deviant behavior and juvenile delinquency. The CCA was a committe that forced comic book companies to police themselves. Basically, no profanity, no drug or alchohol use, no nudity or sex, no blood, gore or graphic violence, no depiction of authority, government, or law enforcement in a negative light and a host of other censorship restrictions. For decades, most mainstream comics carried the approval stamp. This neccesitated the need for publishers to establish separate lines such as DC's Vertigo so that more mature themes were allowed. In 2011, Archie Comics, the last publisher to still carry the approval stamp, dropped it from all of their books. The parent organization of the CCA, the Comics and Magazine Association of America, is now defucnt and the intellectual property rights to the CCA approval seal were aquired by of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
  • It is a running gag in The Simpsons comics that the Comic Shop Guy refuses to buy Pogs and sells them for ten cents per metric ton. He still can't get rid of them.

"No, we don't buy freakin' POGS!!"


  • The Pimped-Out Dress of the 18th century. Powdered wigs, knee-breeches, ridiculously overdecorated dresses, wide-brimmed hats, beauty patches on powdered faces, just to name a few. They were predominant in Europe, the most in France, and the Americas, from the time of Louix XIV to the French Revolution. During that period, they were elegant and stylish, yet very ridiculous in extremes. The person who killed the fashion? Marie Antoinette, of all people, who was painted wearing a simple (in comparison) summer shift. (The difference was so extreme that at first many people thought Marie had been painted in her nightgown.) As the French Queen, Marie of course wore her share of pimped out dresses - because that was her job - but she preferred more simple clothing. Interestingly, the very Revolution that cut off her head took credit afterwards for the change.
  • The Empire silhouette would not have existed without the simpler fashions of the 1780s paving the way, but the main influence for the style was classical antiquity, and in particular the paintings, sculptures, and bronzes being dug out of the ground at Pompeii. From the early 1800s until the 1820s women in Western Europe put away their tight corsets and powdered wigs and instead donned long, loose and high-waisted gowns sewn from multiple layers of muslin and linen. Hair was worn unpowdered and unfrizzed, instead being sleekly pulled back into a high bun, sometimes with loose ringlets at the temples. Older and more traditional persons were outraged by the new fashions, ridiculing them for their supposed indecency and flammability. After the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815 and the rise of Romanticism on the continent the Empire style disappeared, replaced within a season by the nipped waist, low neckline, and wide skirt of the early Victorian era. It wasn't until the 1880s that a style similar to the Empire silhouette returned, this time more as an accompaniment to the Neo-Classical era than as a memory of the past.



  • Thanks to the Hollywood Hype Machine, Hollywood is littered with the dead careers of actors who were hyped up thanks to a memorable role or two, then quickly faded away once the Next Big Thing came along, forcing them to rely on their (rather meager, more often than not) acting talent to make it. By the end of their careers, moviegoers wish they'd just go away already. Rinse, wash, and repeat with the next hot new star. The lines outside casting agencies are so long that actors, especially those who rely more on their looks than their talent, are basically expendable in terms of hype burnout. To list them all would take a separate page—and as a matter of fact, we have just that.
  • The entire spoof film genre, thanks to the works of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Although the genre was already on life support before them,[1] it's rare that a genre has been killed so spectacularly.
  • Disaster movies went through this twice. The first time was in the late '70s, when Hollywood started running out of ideas and people got bored with the increasingly cheesy special effects and formulaic plots. The advent of CGI led to a revival in The Nineties, until certain events made scenes of cataclysmic destruction rather insensitive, and the cheese and hokey plots once again caught up with the genre (The Core, anyone? How about 2012?). It remains to be seen if 3D technology will inspire a third boom, but if it does, it will most likely follow the same pattern as the last two.
  • Film serials and newsreels were pretty much wiped out by the rise of television.
  • Animation as a medium for serious film making was this for many decades in the west, a situation which has only recently begun to change. This is due predominantly to the dual killer-blow of the Hays Code and the Comics Code; prior to which animation was growing just as popular as live-action film making. The efforts of the Moral Guardians effectively destroyed the American animation industry, and what little was left became inoffensive cartoons aimed at children. Europe retained a substantial animation industry producing features for more grown-up audiences; but little of that was exported to the US, and what did get exported was typically relegated to the art-house scene. An attempt to break out of the Animation Age Ghetto began in the late 1960s, and received another boost in the 1980s, but like European films, never broke out of the art-house scene. It wasn't until the huge influx of Japanese animation in the 1990s that it began to be considered a serious medium again.
  • Oscar Bait movies in general seem prone to this trope, especially if a) they fail to win many awards, or b) they are believed to have "stolen" awards from more deserving films. If the former is the case, then they are typically forgotten by the next morning (has anyone even watched The Cider House Rules or Chocolat in the past five years?), while if it's the latter, then they often earn a massive Hatedom from fans of the movie that is perceived as having been snubbed. While many of them are good movies in their own right, more often than not, they straddle the line between touchingly sentimental and maudlin Narm. The fact that it's almost impossible for comedies or niche genres like sci-fi or fantasy to win Oscars only reinforces this. Some specific examples can be found below.
  • 3D seems to be going through this trope for the third time. The anaglyph format became popular in the 50's, but gained a substantial Hatedom for the rather uncomfortable viewing experience and it mostly being used in gimmicky BMovies. This, along side the expensiveness of the process, killed it off until the 60's, with the advent of the single-strip process. While lasting much longer, it was killed by the very same Gimmick films and uncomfortable viewing experience. 3D since then was relegated to IMAX documentaries and theme park attractions(where the experience was more comfortable to view), when the RealD system became popular. A string of box office and critical hits such as Avatar, Coraline and Up helped make 3D even more popular. However, the over-saturation of films such as Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender (films that were quickly converted into 3D without a care in the world just to make a quick buck) and the rather high price of admission compared to 2D films have put them into sharp decline, most of them declaring that it's a studio's way of grabbing more cash out of our wallets. The rise of theatrical re-releases (something that became less common with the advent of video formats) post-converted into 3D couldn't have helped.
  • BMovies: also known as Low Budget Flicks or just Schlock flicks. Originally, a B movie was the bottom half of a double feature, with the main feature as the "A movie". After double features went out of style, the term remained to refer to films that were made with low production values and may have been exploitation. For many, the "B" means "Bad", but not all B-movies neccesarily are low quality, careless productions. A large number of these movies were produced very cheaply during the Drive-In Movie era which lasted from the mid 1950s to the late 1980s in some areas. Presumably, these films were produced with the foreknowledge that drive in movie patrons would likely not be paying full attention to the screen. The dissapearance of the drive-ins and discount movie theaters along with the rise of major Cineplexes caused low budget B-movies to be produced a lot less frequently. Today, low budget movies are usually arthouse films that despite their budget, are considered serious attempts at filmmaking. Some of the most prolific B-movie schlockmeisters include Roger Corman, Ed Wood, Menahem Golan, Godfrey Ho, and Fred Olen Ray. Notable B-Movie genres include Sword and Sandal,Hong Kong Dub Kung-fu movies, SpaghettiWesterns, Slasher Horror Films, Kaiju, Star Wars ripoffs, and Blaxploitation films. Many of these genres still survive in modern form, however, but they are either contrived Tounge-In-Cheek homages (Quentin Tarantino) or genuine attempts to produce expensive high quality films with serious production values (Peter Jackson, Michael Bay, Joss Whedon).


  • Upon its release in 1999, American Beauty was widely acclaimed as one of the finest achievements in American cinema, quickly shooting to the top of the IMDb list and sweeping the Oscars. Ten years later, while it's still ranked high on IMDB's top movie list, it appears to have been largely forgotten. This is mainly due to a mix of Hype Backlash, a long list of films that ripped off its suburban angst plot, and the fact that many of the once-taboo subjects that it touched upon (such as repressed homosexuality) have become passé.
  • The Last Picture Show was widely compared to Citizen Kane in its day. Today, it's remembered mainly for Cybill Shepherd's nude scenes.
  • One of the most famous examples of the aforementioned "Award Snub backlash": How Green Was My Valley. While hardly one of John Ford's best movies, it still maintains a good reputation among film geeks, and it was good enough to win Best Picture in 1942. The problem? Also up for Best Picture in 1942 were Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon, both widely regarded as among the greatest films ever made. As a result, Valley is best known today as "that movie that won Best Picture over Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon". Talk about your Hype Backlash!
  • Thanks to extreme Hype Backlash, The English Patient, a movie that won nine Academy Awards, is predominantly remembered today as the movie that Elaine bitched about on Seinfeld.
    • Also referenced in the comedy Yes, Dear as being a great movie "to put us to sleep." Like How Green Was My Valley with Citizen Kane, a large amount of this could be due to its overshadowing of Fargo, widely seen as a Magnum Opus for the Coen Brothers (and declared by esteemed film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert to be "the best film of 1996"). Yeowch.
  • Titanic was a huge critical and box office success on its release, taking eleven Academy Awards, a number so far only matched by Ben-Hur and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and becoming the highest grossing film of all time. Not even a year afterward, it suffered a massive backlash, with a sudden trend of people blindly bashing the film to high heaven, often bordering on Hate Dumb.
    • The Titanic backlash is starting to get its own backlash and it is becoming trendy to like it again. Lord knows what the success of Avatar is going to do Titanic's future status in pop culture. It is also helped that the hundredth anniversary of the real Titanic sinking is coming up. At the very least we can probably expect a theatrical re-release to mark the occasion, maybe even in 3-D.
  • When it was first released, Star Trek: Insurrection, the ninth Star Trek film, had pretty positive reviews, with some reviewers even saying that it broke the "Trek movie curse" (even-numbered movies good, odd-numbered bad). But as time passed, with more viewers agreeing with the villains, and the whole Trek franchise gradually grinding to a standstill, it's now regarded as one of the weakest Trek films.
  • The popularity of Shrek in the early '00s was due to it being a fresh alternative to the animated films that were being released at the time, with its smartassed toilet humor, pop culture jokes and celebrity voice casting being incredibly fresh compared to the "animated musical" format of Renaissance-era Disney. However, Dreamworks Animation went on to recycle the Shrek formula for several years, and every animation studio that wasn't Pixar started copying it; by the time Shrek the Third came out in 2007 the gimmick had long worn out its welcome. In 2008 they released Kung Fu Panda, which ushered in a new era of DreamWorks animated films, featuring less reliance on pop culture jokes and more emphasis on story and characters (with tones and themes inspired by the very studio that Shrek was making fun of in the first place). While the popularity of the Renaissance-era Disney films has grown since the early part of the decade (thanks in part to films like 2009's The Princess and the Frog and 2010's Tangled taking their style directly from the era), and some people still admit to liking Shrek (or, at least, the first two films in the series), the "Shrek genre" of films is all but dead.
  • The Andy Hardy film series is an example from all the way back in the Golden Age of Hollywood. From 1937 to 1942, Metro Goldwyn Mayer produced 13 films of the series that were all enormously popular. They made a star out of Mickey Rooney, who was the biggest box office draw in the world for a time. They had broad appeal for the entire family, kids identifying with the exuberant Andy while the parents identified with the older, wiser Judge Hardy. Andy's temporary love interests for each film were promising young starlets, many of whom would become major stars in their own right thanks in part to their exposure in these films. They were even critically acclaimed at the time, winning a special Academy Award for "representing America", which might be the only time an Oscar ever went to an entire film series.
Rooney took a break from the series in 1943 to work on other projects, made one final film in 1944, then went off to fight in World War II. Trouble began when he returned to make another Hardy film in 1946 after the war. It fizzled. In 1958, an attempt was made to revive the series with Andy as the head of his own family. The film bombed, viewed as too squeaky clean, conformist and old-fashioned even by the famously buttoned-up cultural standards of the '50s. As critics looked back on the Golden Age of Hollywood, they would find ways to appreciate many other films of that period, but the Andy Hardy films only received scorn and contempt due to a combination of Values Dissonance, their Totally Radical slang that made "totally radical" sound fresh and cool, and Rooney's ridiculous mugging.[2] These were some of the most popular films from the most popular studio of the most popular period of film history, when more people regularly went to the movies than at any time before or since. Today, they're forgotten or derided even by many Golden Age enthusiasts. Only seven of the 16 films were ever made available on VHS, and only four are on DVD—one of them because it fell into the Public Domain due to MGM forgetting to renew its copyright, and the other three because they're the only three films of the series to co-star Judy Garland in a recurring role.
  • To go back even further, Harold Lloyd was one of the biggest stars of the Silent Age of Hollywood. During the '20s, he controlled most of his own productions and thrilled audiences with both his comedy and his elaborate stunts, which he did all by himself. He made more money than even Charlie Chaplin at his peak, and used it to build the Greenacres estate that helped set a standard for celebrity mansions in the Hollywood Hills. However, his career lost steam in the talkie era, forcing him into retirement by the end of the '30s. Furthermore, his refusal to reissue his films commercially,[3] in theatres or on TV, prevented later audiences from being able to watch them and become fans, while Chaplin's works entered the Public Domain and his contemporary Buster Keaton made a comeback on television in the late '40s. Today, the only memory of him is "a nice DVD set that you can buy, at least, finally", while Chaplin and Keaton remain far better known today.
  • The Birth of a Nation was the first Epic Movie, the film that proved cinema to be a viable entertainment medium rather than a passing fad, and the pioneer of countless film-making techniques. Modern-day film scholars and critics are still more than willing to acknowledge this part of its legacy. However, to say that the film's writing and story has not aged well... well, there's a reason why it's only watched today by film students (for the technical/historical aspects) and by people studying the history of racism. A big, white-hooded, cross-burning reason.
  • Kevin Smith and his Jersey Trilogy movies somewhat glamourized and attempted to hipsterize the comic book Fan Boy. Kevin Smith's former status as a comic book guru now[when?] seems outdated and trite, especially since at this point in time, the only hardcore comic book readers left are nostalgic men over the age of 35. Along with their greying Generation X target audience, Smith and his cohorts have aged out of their Jay and Silent Bob roles. Smith's most notable headlines in recent years[when?] concern an incident involving an airline's alleged discrimination against obese people.



  • For much of The Eighties, the Cyberpunk literary genre and movement was the new wave in both Science Fiction and science fact, acting as a fertile seed on a ground tormented by efforts to adapt to a changing world where the computer was king and Japan was the new force on the block. However, books like Neuromancer failed to anticipate how a) the internet, cell phones, personal computers and handheld IT devices would become a mundane reality in the life of the average white-collar Joe Sixpack, and b) that the Japanese economic powerhouse would trip over itself in the early '90s. Once "the future" became the present, cyberpunk went from being high-tech to being filled with Zeerust, painting a portrait of the future that had stopped being relevant after about 1993—the main reason why Post Cyber Punk came to replace it. Not to mention that the virtual reality craze of the late '80s and early '90s simply shelved itself (for now) after failing to provide a holodeck-like experience.
    • Also, the scientific impossibility of tropes like disappearing bodily into cyberspace became painfully obvious to the general audience once computers stopped being magic in the public imagination.
  • Modernist literature such as that by James Joyce and Virginia Woolf has been replaced by the postmodernist genre.
  • During the 1850s, there existed an entire genre of "anti-Tom" literature (or plantation literature), written mainly by authors from the Southern US in reaction to the anti-slavery work Uncle Tom's Cabin. Such books were Author Tracts that portrayed slavery as beneficial to Africans, and abolitionists as villains who were lying about the conditions "enjoyed" by slaves and trying to destroy the Southern way of life. For obvious reasons, this genre died out very quickly after the Civil War, while Uncle Tom's Cabin has gone on to be regarded as one of the great American novels.
  • The industrial novel was a mid-19th century genre of English fiction that's been almost forgotten today. Often set Oop North, the industrial novel concerned itself with the lives of the new urban industrial working class. The best-known industrial novel today is probably Charles Dickens's Hard Times, but Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South was much more popular at the time.

Live Action TV


  • Can an entire network be deader than Disco? If so, then if MTV isn't there right now, then it is perilously close. Even when the channel's decay became evident in the late '90s and early '00s, MTV was still a relevant force in American pop culture, turning many bands and artists into superstars and airing shows like The Real World, Beavis and Butthead, Daria, and Jackass that hauled in viewers by the boatload and had people talking. And that's not even mentioning the power MTV wielded back in The Eighties. Now, while it's still kept relevant by a handful of hit reality shows and the Video Music Awards, most young people and former fans know it primarily for being the poster child of Network Decay.
  • In the United States, daytime soap operas have fallen victim to this trope. Back in The Seventies and The Eighties, ratings for daytime soaps hit peaks of 30 million viewers for events like the Spencer wedding on General Hospital, and ad revenues from them helped to fund the Networks' elaborate, expensive, all-but-nonprofit news divisions, as well as tide the whole network over in years when the Prime Time lineup was struggling. Now, soaps are lucky to pull in three million, and some people are recommending that the networks drop them altogether and replace them with talk shows and other daytime fare—which some networks are already doing. The phrase "soap opera" has come to be synonymous with pure dreck in the minds of many TV fans, associated with bad writing, outrageous plots, and shoddy acting, something that can be seen whenever disgruntled fans of a Prime Time series talk about how bad writers or actors "should never have been let out of daytime." A list of theories explaining this fall can be seen on the Soap Opera page.
  • Reality TV did in the trashy tabloid talk shows of the '90s, which quickly lost their monopoly on the display of social rejects, miscreants, and degenerates hungry for their 15 minutes of fame. Unlike talk shows, reality shows didn't have the middle man of a host who was ostensibly trying to "help" them, and had more variety than the basic talk show format. Today, the only "Trash TV" hosts still standing are Jerry Springer and Maury Povich, their competitors (Geraldo Rivera, Phil Donahue, Jenny Jones, Ricki Lake, Sally Jessy Raphael) having all been canceled. Oprah Winfrey, now retired herself, who popularized the "Trash TV" format, distinguished herself by going "upmarket" in the mid-nineties, during the height of the trend.
    • Even in the Latinamerican Spanish language markets, where the "tabloid shows" still worked way after the American death of the format, the only one of that type who survives are the syndicated version of Laura (despite the many legal misadventures of its hosts Laura Bozzo), while the rest are Judge Judy-ripoffs like Caso Cerrado and ¿Quién Tiene la razón?
  • It is probably not a coincidence that the Variety Show died out around the same time that specialized cable channels began taking off, since they allowed viewers to enjoy just musical groups, stand-up comedy, etc. without having to wait out performers and segments they weren't interested in. Once in a while, a performer will try to revive the format, but this never works. Later, NBC tried to pull it off with The Jay Leno Show. They were hoping that cheap, product-placement-backed programming would allow them to stem their losses. It didn't work so well, suffering from such abysmal ratings that NBC attempted to move it to late night after half a season. And It Got Worse—this led to Conan O'Brien's departure from The Tonight Show when he objected to the schedule change.
    • The death of the variety show could also be attributed to the decreasing cost of televisions. Back in The Fifties and The Sixties when variety programs were at their most popular, a televisor was an expensive investment and there would typically be only one TV per household, if the household had a TV to begin with. When televisors became much less expensive, the need for specialized programming to appeal to the various members of a household became much more apparent. Then cable television took off in The Seventies and The Eighties and put the final nail in variety's coffin.
    • In a similar fashion; the Sports Anthology genre (invented and led by Wide World of Sports[4]) died out with the rise of sports networks like ESPN, which offered the kind of variety of sports Wide World offered 24/7.
  • Space adventure (or spaceship) based sci-fi shows, once the staple for television sci-fi, disappeared after the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise. The Stargate Verse also slowly faded into the purgatory of Saturday afternoon reruns. Genre TV shows are now essentially represented by Earth-based, character relationship-based drama shows with a few sci-fi elements thrown in, such as Eureka, Lost, True Blood, and the new V. The reimagined Battlestar Galactica despite its outer space setting, still focused more on character relationships and political drama than space adventure. The same can be said for the current incarnation of Doctor Who (2005-) which especially downplays its pulp science fantasy roots. This widespread paradigm shift is commonly attributed to the desire to attract more female viewers.
  • "Next Generation" type television shows: These were shows that essentially updated classic shows from two or three decades past and provided an in-universe continuation of the premise. Surviving cast members from the original often appeared either in guest roles (playing older versions of their characters in keeping with the actor's advancing age) or only in the pilot episode in which they simply pass the torch. Named after Star Trek: The Next Generation which takes place in the Star Trek timeline 78 years after The Original Series. This has been replaced by "re-imaginings" which do not take place in the same universe as the original series and are not subject to the continuity of the original series. However, original series cast members can and do make guest appearances as characters who may be completely different from the character they originally played. Richard Hatch, Apollo on the original Battlestar Galactica, appeared in the 2003 reimagining as a character quite different from Apollo. Jane Badler plays a character named Diana in the 2009-10 V series, but not the same Diana that she played on V in 1984-85.
  • Network newscasts. In the past, families gathered around the TV every evening to watch Walter Cronkite or Dan Rather for 30 minutes. With the growth of 24-hour news networks and online news, many people stopped watching the traditional newscasts, which are on when most people aren't even home.
  • Kid Com shows that don't involve some kind of celebrity focus are starting to die out. There are very few Dom Com low-concept shows that focus on the characters living a relatively normal life. The reason is the success of Hannah Montana and executives trying to capture that market to get the next big Idol Singer.
  • The "classic Sitcom" format, while still somewhat popular among audiences (most of CBS' biggest hits are such shows), has lost just about all artistic credibility thanks to a backlash against it during the 2000s by Ricky Gervais in Britain and shows like Modern Family, Thirty Rock and the remake of The Office in the US, which leads to such shows being regarded as cheap, unfunny trash next to single camera comedies and live stand-up. Many TV critics have even made a point of saying that they will not even watch any new comedies made with the traditional studio audience (or, worse, a Laugh Track) and multi-camera setup. Older shows like All in The Family, Fawlty Towers and Seinfeld that used the format are spared by virtue of the Grandfather Clause, but modern shows that are made in that style are typically viewed as Lowest Common Denominator fare at best.
  • "Late Night Creature Feature"-style shows: A former staple of Friday and Saturday night television, particularly on stations that weren't network affiliates, were locally-produced shows dedicated to airing B-grade horror or science fiction movies, with such umbrella titles as Chiller Theater or Shock Theater. Notable, invariably tongue-in-cheek hosts of such shows included Vampira, Doctor Madblood, and Svengoolie; Elvira, Mistress of the Dark kept the format going well into The Eighties. (All this was parodied by SCTV with Count Floyd.) The timeslot wasn't neccesarily late at night—it may have been as early as 9 p.m., or alternatively scheduled for weekend afternoons. But as The Eighties progressed, the films aged along with the viewers that appreciated them, the "Big Three" networks began adding more and more national fare to the late and overnight schedules, pay and basic cable networks bought up the rights to many movies en masse (USA Network, in its first two decades, had the weekend block Night Flight and its successor Up All Night, which were effectively their versions of this concept), and independent stations dried up as new networks like Fox took them over. Mystery Science Theater 3000 is widely considered the Last Of Its Kind, but there have been a few stabs at reviving the format with public domain films for the syndication market, such as Elvira's Movie Macabre and the San Francisco-based Creepy KOFY Movie Time.
  • Low budget, high concept TV shows that use the Canada Does Not Exist trope. During the late 80s and early 90s, these were a staple for shows in multiple genres such as action-adventure (Highlander), youth drama (Catwalk or Degrassi), sci-fi/horror (Friday the 13th: The Series), and police drama (21 Jump Street). The low low budget connected with small-name actors (many of them Canadian) allowed for a proliferation of inexpensive entertainment aimed at various niche audiences. The nowhereland setting for these shows allowed for them to appeal to viewers in both the U.S. and Canada. Today, the new low-budget market is Reality Television which can be produced in Hollywood and appeal to a mainstream American audience. Although in terms of dollar amount, Episodes of Reality shows today probably cost more than an average episode of Highlander, they are easier and faster to produce and have a quicker return in revenue. Other genres are still around but mostly manifest themselves as expensive tentpole franchises with high production values, big name stars, and an unambiguous major American city setting.
  • The Jiggle Show. During the Seventies and Eighties, shows like Three's Company, and Charlie's Angels, and, to a lesser extent, the Wonder Woman series and The Dukes of Hazzard that were long on beautiful actresses but (perceived as) a little short on plot were incredibly popular, and the joke was that they were especially popular amongst sexually frustrated men who would be willing to sit through thirty minutes of flimsy dialogue for the chance to see Suzanne Somers in a bikini or Farrah Fawcett run after a bad guy in a tight sweater. The genre peaked with Baywatch, but with the rise of both the internet and more accessible pornography, along with more liberal views of all things related to sex, shows that are expecting to coast on the beauty of their casts are finding themselves disappointed.
  • Anthology series: The visual version of short story collections. Essentially any regular series without a recurring cast or continuing storyline from episode to episode. Anthologies can contain a little of everything, allowing for many styles of writing, acting, and direction. Each installment is a self-contained story with no relation to other episodes in the series. Once very popular for genres which involve Hitchcockian twists or morality plays. Especially with horror where the concept of recurring characters somewhat removes suspense. Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Tales from the Crypt or Tales from the Darkside are some of the most acclaimed examples of anthology shows. Anthologies often allowed exposure for upcoming actors and a fun break from the usual for already established actors. Today's television is more character and plot oriented, which requires developing plots and story arcs along with gradual character development. Impossible to accomplish with anthologies where each story must be told in one hour. Not that the genre is totally dead, as shown with Black Mirror, but its glory days are certainly over.
  • Saturday Morning Cartoons. For the vast majority of Network Television's history, Saturday mornings ran back-to-back-to-back cartoons aimed at young audiences. Eventually, however, cable channels devoted entirely to cartoons, and later on-demand and streaming services (ie, kids can watch cartoons any time they want) made such focus on the Saturday morning timeslots unprofitable for networks and unappealing for customers.


  • The Ur Example for television may be TV personality Arthur Godfrey, who was extraordinarily popular in the early '50s. Viewers turned against him after his folksy, friendly, gee-shucks demeanor was shown to have been an act; he was actually a cruel, egotistical taskmaster who fired a popular singer on one of his shows on the air for going to his grandmother's funeral instead of taking a dancing class he didn't actually need.
  • A variant: Ally McBeal never went from all-popular to all-hated, having both admirers and haters at its peak. Instead, it went from The Extremely Important Show That Expressed The State of The American Woman Today to a half-forgotten joke that's best remembered for featuring the first online Memetic Mutation to become mainstream, the Dancing Baby, and for being that "single female lawyer" show that Futurama made fun of. Everybody, love it or hate it, used to think it was a cultural milestone. Time did a cover story on it, calling it a low point in the history of American feminism, and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd went through a period where she mentioned it in literally every single column that she wrote. A decade later, it's a footnote of the late '90s. It's telling that Hayden Panettiere's time on the show is barely mentioned, not even as an Old Shame.
  • This Life occupied a similar position in the UK as Ally McBeal did in the USA, albeit as a less comedic form of drama—something akin to being the most important show on TV in the mid-to-late nineties. Then, once the late-twenty-somethings who watched it grew up and had children, the younger generation couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Sex, drugs and young lawyers? Old hat.
  • During its network run, Murphy Brown was one of the most talked about, critically acclaimed shows on the air. Today, it's nowhere to be found in syndication, and first season DVD sales were so poor that the second season was never even released. The show's reliance on topical humor is almost certainly a factor; jokes about Dan Quayle aren't nearly as funny 20 years later. It definitely doesn't help that its defining moment, Murphy's pregnancy and the subsequent feud with Dan Quayle, not only happened relatively early (the show ran for another six seasons after that), but has aged poorly—it seems quaint by today's standards for Quayle to have made such a big deal about a single mother on television.
  • The only reason why The Beverly Hillbillies got to number one in the ratings is because old people loved it. CBS eventually figured out that, although it was getting great ratings, those ratings were coming from an audience that advertisers didn't care about, which led to its cancellation. The same thing happened for several other shows, like Mayberry RFD and even Gunsmoke. There's even a whole page at The Other Wiki, "rural purge", about these cancellations of rural-themed and senior-targeted programs. Several of the other shows listed on that page (Hogan's Heroes, Family Affair), which were also popular in their day, are similarly no longer appreciated as anything but kitsch, mainly due to the fact that most of the people who liked them in their heyday were over 50 when they were canceled, and are now dead. While they still have their viewers (judging by the ratings for TV Land reruns and the existence of DVD box sets for many of them), few will cite them as truly great television.
    • In The Nineties, older viewers might explain why Touched By an Angel was a Top 10 show at the height of its run. It often outdrew The Simpsons in its Sunday night time slot (despite never being a critical favorite and regarded as Glurge at its worst), it launched a Spin-Off in Promised Land (which lasted three seasons), and reruns of the show were central to the young PAX network's lineup. When its time slot was switched to Saturday nights for its final two seasons, ratings plunged, and while it's still in reruns on the Hallmark Channel, it's mostly seen as a joke now.
    • This happens a lot, though... lots of classic series, even ones that are considered good, are often given a backseat because they don't attract the audiences the powers that be want. Or they just don't attract that much attention in general, with the audience becoming younger, not many people remember it as much as others did. Of course, the lack of readily-available reruns these days doesn't help.
  • As noted above, shows that fall victim to The Chris Carter Effect have a tendency to slip into this once their lack of long-term Myth Arc planning becomes apparent.
    • Let's start with the Trope Namer. The memory of The X-Files' excellent early years was irrevocably sullied not long after the movie came out. Its final three seasons were widely ill-received, leading up to an embarrassing and frustrating case of No Ending that, to many fans, showed that the writers had no clue what they were doing and were making things up as they went along. What die hard fans were left had their interest killed by a ho-hum movie released in 2008.
    • Twin Peaks, like The X-Files, was once a cultural phenomenon. Now, if the show is ever brought up, it's either by worried network execs afraid that their hit genre show will become the next Twin Peaks, or by fans who think that their show has Jumped the Shark. Like The X-Files, it is today remembered as a prime example of how to run a great show into the ground by not thinking ahead.
    • Heroes. Back in the first season, everybody was praising this show as the next Lost, and it managed to be a credible rival to that show, even breaking out of the Sci Fi Ghetto and getting an Emmy nod for Best Drama Series. Then, Bryan Fuller left to make Pushing Daisies, and the 2007-08 WGA Strike killed an entire half-season's worth of plots and a planned Spin-Off. The show spent the next two seasons flying off the rails and hemorrhaging viewers as the writing staff struggled, and failed, to figure out how to salvage it. Not even Fuller's return in the fourth season could save Heroes, as NBC, reeling from the flop of The Jay Leno Show and fed up with the show's big budget and lack of ratings to show for it, pulled the plug at the end of that season, just as it was becoming good again. Once viewed as the show that would save NBC after many of its hit '90s sitcoms came to an end, it instead came to be seen as a symbol of all the problems that NBC had over the course of the '00s.



  • Hair Metal, the genre with the honor of being to the The Nineties what the Trope Namer was to The Eighties—i.e. the subject of mockery for an entire generation. After big success in the '80s, hair metal went into rapid decline at the start of the '90s, when Nirvana's 1991 album Nevermind set the world on fire and turned grunge into the next big thing by providing a heavier alternative. '80s nostalgia has caused its popularity to increase, at least in the mainstream, it has never climbed back to its former heights, and is still treated as a subject of mockery by metalheads (as seen in Brutal Legend).
    • Grunge itself took a rather sharp decline in popularity during the mid-90s once Alternative Rock came around (though Kurt Cobain's sudden suicide didn't help either) and nowadays, pretty much nobody records Grunge anymore except for Pearl Jam, and their sound has changed significantly since their heyday.
      • On the other hand, alternative music was (and still is) heavily influenced by grunge. One could even argue that it was grunge's spiritual successor. So grunge definitely had a much more peaceful decline than disco and hair metal did.
  • Many, many, many novelty songs and one hit wonders. Even though people expect them to be fads and fade out, there's still an amazing jump between "cute, fun fluff" and "anyone who sings this gets a punch in the nose." Good examples include "Achy Breaky Heart" and the Macarena.
  • Arguably the alternative hip-hop and jazz-rap crossover craze from the early '90s. From 1992-'94, De La Soul, The Pharcyde, Arrested Development, Us3, and Digable Planets won critical acclaim, had hit singles, and collected awards. They were hailed as the new face of hip-hop. But their popularity has waned and their style has few critical supporters today. In fact at the time some was criticized for not doing anything special besides sample jazz records. Some created records that are still highly praised though, like the aforementioned artists. Other hip-hop artists from that same era — namely gangsta rap, political rap, and hardcore hip hop artists, such as Nas, Dr. Dre, the Wu Tang Clan, Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Bone Thugs N Harmony, and Snoop Dogg — stood the test of time far better. On the other hand those genres created some great records, but it's also the reason many people hate rap.
    • New jack swing also suffered a similar backlash around this time, with some critics calling the scene watered down cookie cutter R&B/Hip Hop and slowly driving them out. It wasn't just "Gangsta rappers" that drove them out either, but pure lyrical type hip-hop artists and fans of said artists as well.
    • There is a second wave of alternative rap which includes rappers like P.O.S., Aesop Rock and El-P, but it's mostly targeted at fans of alternative and indie rock, who are mostly enthusiastic supporters of them. Rap radio stations, on the other hand, still avoid the genre entirely.
    • Interestingly enough there was a time when Alt/Rap was played along side Hardcore Hip Hop, Political Rap, and Gangsta Rap. Which is one of the reasons why the golden age is so fondly remembered.
    • Opinions vary, but, at least in the mainstream's eyes, pretty much any hip-hop that isn't Lil Wayne, Drake or Eminem is now considered "alt-rap" by default.
  • Nu-metal. The concept of referring to certain superficially similar, but otherwise very different forms of music (Alternative Metal, Hard Rock, rap metal, Heavy Metal), as "nu metal" is itself Deader Than Disco, but so are many of the bands that got lumped together under that label. Some bands only managed to stay relevant by abandoning their old rap-metal style in favor of one that wasn't being endlessly mocked (Linkin Park's U2-esque arena rock style, Papa Roach's mainstream hard rock sound), and most of the rest have been pretty much forgotten outside of their diehard fanbases and pro wrestling events.
  • Heavy Metal itself got this treatment with the emergence of Alternative and Grunge, and many metal icons became pariahs overnight. This was a relatively short-lived period (~8 years) thanks to the widespread influence metal had made on such artists. Part of the contempt toward Nu-metal was due to showing metal roots while distancing themselves from Heavy Metal, at a time when old-school Heavy Metal bands were making triumphant comebacks.
  • The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, thanks to the overt politics of the nomination process, has pretty much become a joke to anyone in the industry and many outside of it. But it keeps chugging along...
  • A lot of the Britpop bands of 1993-97 have gone from hugely popular and making the cover of NME to widely derided. The movement itself has come in for a lot of revisionism but bands like Shed Seven are nowadays little more than the butt of jokes.
  • Intelligent drum'n'bass, an offshot of sample-based dance music that was extremely trendy in the UK during the mid-1990s. Following the success of Goldie's Timeless and LTK Bukem's Logical Progression in 1995 and 1996, intelligent drum'n'bass was latched onto by the British music press as the hot new sound of inner-city black Britain. At a time when the NME and Melody Maker almost exclusively covered skinny white teenage guitar bands, it was the acceptable face of urban music; it was "intelligent". The musical formula - slow build-up, double bass, skittery drums - quickly became a ubiquitous feature of television commercials, and it seemed that every CD single released in 1996 time had a drum'n'bass mix near the end of the tracklisting. It peaked in 1997, with Roni Size's Reprazent winning the Mercury Music Award for New Forms; on a more comical level David Bowie built much of his 1997 LP Earthling around drum'n'bass, at which point the novelty had worn off. Goldie's second album was slammed for self-indulgence - the first track was over sixty minutes long - and the genre as a whole was quickly displaced in the affections of music critics by trip-hop, which deserves a separate entry of its own.
  • Most digital synthesisers and drum machines of the 1980s and early 1990s were extremely hard to program, and so producers simply used the preset sounds over and over again. As a consequence, several machines from the era wore out their welcome and have completely fallen from fashion. Examples include the warm electric piano and slap bass sounds of the Yamaha DX 7; the Phil Collins-esque sound of the Simmonds SDS and Linn drum machines; the chimes of the Roland D-50; and the house piano and bassy organ of the Korg M1. Several of the aforementioned produced a sound that crossed the Uncanny Valley, a broken imitation of reality that was good enough for the time but has dated badly. Ironically, the more obviously electronic sound of previous analogue synthesisers and drum machines (themselves Deader Than Disco after digital synths became widespread) - such as the Roland Juno, and the TR-808 - came back into fashion during the 1990s and has never really gone away.
  • The Boy Band craze. From approximately 1998 to 2001, boy bands such as the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC dominated the pop music scene, with multi-platinum albums and incessant airplay and TV spots. At one point, the Backstreet Boys even had Burger King kids' meal toys!! Inevitably, over-saturation and changing tastes lead to a huge backlash, and by 2003, it was like they never existed. The boy band stigma has largely prevented most former boy band members from having much of a solo career afterwards (except Justin Timberlake, and he beat the stigma by downplaying his association with *NSYNC).
    • Their Distaff Counterpart, the Girl Group, never experienced quite the backlash of boy bands, probably due to them having a solid Periphery Demographic driven by the Fan Service on display. But once again, it's telling that Beyoncé's time with Destiny's Child is almost never brought up when people talk about her career, and that the only major western girl groups to have much popularity in the last several years are the Pussycat Dolls (in America) and Girls Aloud (in Britain).
    • Related to the above, British listeners had pop groups like the Spice Girls (more on them below), S Club 7 and Steps, which were usually manufactured by record labels or the first talent shows (Pop Idol, Popstars etc.) to appeal almost exclusively to a younger demographic. They ruled the UK Top Forty airwaves in the mid-late '90s, but now they're either forgotten or derided for being part of a Dead Horse Music Genre.
    • For a while in the early-to-mid 2010s, it seemed though Boy Bands made a comeback, with Big Time Rush and UK Boy Bands One Direction and The Wanted very quickly gained international popularity. One Direction even broke a record and became the first ever UK group to debut Billboard's top 200 album chart at #1 with the American release of their first album.
    • Like with the trope namer, Boy Bands and Girls Groups never went out of popularity abroad… namely in Eastern Asian countries, where they still thrived and even perfected the gimmick. Thus, Korean Boy Band BTS became the main exponent of the genre worldwide on the late 2010s and early 2020s, while their co-nationals Blackpink and Red Velvet are trying to do the same on the Girls Group camp.
  • Easy Listening music and the radio stations that play them. Also known as Muzak, Elevator Music or the less derogatory term Lounge Music. There are few classic muzak songs that are more recent than the 1980s. As that was the last decade to produce in significant amounts music that appealed to more than the youth demographic all of whom find muzak boring. There are now companies that specialized in supplying piped music so it can occasionally still be heard in traditional locations such as some department stores and dentist offices although they seem to be slowly being replaced by remixes of more current tunes. On the radio, the current incarnation of easy listening prefers the label smooth jazz.


  • MC Hammer is a notable example of a single musician succumbing to this trope. In the early '90s, he was one of the biggest rap stars in the world, with the album Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em going diamond (ten million sold—the first rap album to accomplish that feat) and "U Can't Touch This" becoming a sensation. He made flaunting flashy clothes and lifestyle fashionable (rather than the strictly "hood" styles of most rappers of the time), and was on the leading edge of rappers acting as commercial pitchmen. Then, however, came three factors that derailed his success and caused him to fall harder and faster than even Michael Jackson, turning him into an almost overnight punchline:
    • Switching his sound to Gangsta Rap in order to stay relevant. To be fair, his 1994 album The Funky Headhunter was a platinum-selling success upon its release, even spawning the Memetic Mutation "it's all good". However, not only did it get him labeled a sellout by other rappers (the fact that he recorded several dis tracks probably didn't help), it ruined the clean-and-wholesome image that he had cultivated (he was, and still is, a Pentecostal minister, and included a Christian song on every one of his albums), which had allowed him to sell rap to mainstream America without the controversy raised by the more hardcore artists.
    • Overexposure. Even before he switched to gangsta, rivals like LL Cool J were dissing him for what they saw as over-the-top commercialization, which included shoes, T-shirts, Hammer pants and his Saturday Morning Cartoon Hammerman. This may have actually provoked his switch to gangsta rap, as it's possible that he felt he needed to prove to his detractors that he wasn't a one-trick pony.
    • Redefining the phrase "Conspicuous Consumption" for Generation X. There was his infamous mansion, for starters. Then there were his expensive music videos, which set records at the time. Throw in the cars, the thoroughbred racehorses, and to top it all off, the gold chains for his Rottweilers. He had to file for bankruptcy in 1996 as a result of this, and he remains a symbol of living beyond one's means. This is referenced in Nelly's song "Country Grammar (Hot S**t)", where he talks about how he's going to "blow 30 mil like I'm Hammer."
  • Liberace, the flamboyant piano player, was one of the most popular and highest paid music performers of The Fifties. He was especially popular among teenage girls who swooned over him the way their big sisters used to swoon over the young Frank Sinatra. His popularity extended well into The Sixties, as a pleasant alternative to rock 'n' roll. Most popular non-rock music performers of the Fifties are forgotten today, but not Liberace, oh no. He's still remembered, all right... as a ridiculously Camp figure, a joke on that era's cluelessness of his obvious closet homosexuality. If a character refers to Liberace ((Superman II, Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series), they're Ambiguously Gay. His fall from grace was completed when his Las Vegas museum closed due to waning popularity.
  • The entire city of Branson, Missouri owes its existence to this trope. When Garth Brooks and other younger stars took over Country Music in the early '90s, they brought in new fans and, more importantly, new Nashville record execs who didn't care about most of the established stars of country (although a few, like Reba McEntire and George Strait, managed to cross generational lines). Almost literally overnight, singers like Charley Pride and Barbara Mandrell went from having #1 hits to not even making the charts. Branson was pretty much the only place they could get anyone to pay to see their shows. So they all just moved there and opened up theaters. As The Simpsons put it...

Bart: We're in Branson, Missouri. My dad says that it's what Las Vegas would look like if it were run by Ned Flanders.

  • The Darkness: huge in 2004, won loads of awards, album sold over a million copies in the UK alone. Then the follow-up album arrived in 2005, sold less well and the band subsequently split. Now, despite probably still having a copy of Permission To Land kicking-around, most people pretend they never liked them in the first place.
    • Others did enjoy the second album, the follow-up bands Hot Leg and Stone Gods (of singer Justin Hawkins and of the rest of the band + new singer, respectively) and are looking forward to the upcoming reunion.
  • The Spice Girls were one of the few British pop groups, especially after The Eighties, to successfully cross The Pond and make it big in the United States. At their peak from 1996–98, they were everywhere. "Wannabe" and "Spice Up Your Life" were inescapable, "Girl Power" was the slogan of a whole generation of tween girls, and the movie Spice World was an inexplicable blockbuster hit. Dr. Wiki's article on them refers to that period of time, unironically, as "Spicemania". They remain the highest-selling Girl Group of all time even after their backlash... and oh, what a backlash. By the year 2000, Geri Halliwell was long gone from the group, their album Forever was shaping up to be nothing short of a disappointment, and all of the remaining members were pursuing solo careers. Today, the band is chiefly remembered for its campiness and flamboyance, and its members are better known for their work and lives after the Spice Girls.
  • The orchestra hit. A recording of same was included with the Fairlight CMI digital sampling workstation of the early 1980s, and was quickly exploited by producer Trevor Horn for Yes' Owner of a Lonely Heart and anything else Horn produced over the next few years. It became a cliche of 80s synth pop, appearing on records by Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys and New Order. The sound was resurrected in cartoon form by the rave and acid house crowd in the early 1990s - notably by Altern-8 and The Immortals for their Mortal Kombat theme - but was killed stone dead forever by its association with 2 Unlimited. It hasn't come back since, not even ironically.
  • The 90s vogue for Gregorian chants and/or New Agey music mixed in with modern instruments. Canto Gregoriano, Adiemus, Enigma and the like sold ridiculous amounts of discs back then but soon receded back into semi-obscurity.
  • In 1989 and 1990, German pop duo Milli Vanilli was one of the biggest pop acts on the planet. Best known for their hit single "Blame It On The Rain", the group managed to sell over six million copies of their North American debut album Girl You Know It's True over the course of a few months. In February 1990 they were awarded the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. The problem was, the duo's members, Rob Pilatus and Fabrice "Fab" Morvan, didn't sing their own material on the album. Over the course of 1990, after a series of onstage lip-synching mistakes and an MTV interview in which they displayed a spectacularly poor grasp of the English language (much worse than on their album), rumors began to circulate that Pilatus and Morvan weren't the real singers. When Milli Vanilli's manager confessed in November 1990 that the rumors were true, there was a huge public bashlash against the band, with 27 lawsuits demanding refunds being filed and their Grammy Award being revoked. Milli Vanilli's popularity collapsed overnight, and for the next several years they were only brought up as the butt of jokes by stand-up comedians. They would not make headlines again until 1998, when Pilatus was found dead of an apparant drug overdose in a hotel room.

New Media

  • Any number of older friending networks. Friendster is considered one of the defining examples of a fallen social network (although it stayed popular in Asia), and Myspace has gone the same way due to competition from (and attempts to catch up with) Facebook.
  • Online services like Prodigy, CompuServe, GEnie, iMagination, etc. When the internet was fledgling during the 90's, they were extremely popular. However, the more efficient, less resource-intensive and not-to-mention free World Wide Web put them on a steady decline. Today, America Online is the only one of these services that still remains. And even that's pretty much on its last legs.

Newspaper Comics

  • Newspaper Comics in general. Few are running as new strips written by the original artist; fewer were started after 1995 or so. (To quote South Park: "Only gay little dweebs read the funnies, Butters.") There are two major reasons for this decline, and both of them have to do with the Internet. The first is the rise of Web Comics, which have the Infinite Canvas instead of the papers' ever-shrinking panels, a simpler method of publication (updating your own web site vs. signing deals with newspapers), and less censorship. The second is the decline of newspapers themselves in the face of New Media, which means less people reading the funny pages and thus less money to be made in writing for them than there was as late as the 1940s, when successful comic artists like Chic Young, Al Capp, and Milt Caniff could make upwards of $100,000 a year. Most major newspaper comic artists make middle-class incomes through a syndicate now (the rewards of signing a contract far smaller than in other industries); for a new artist still working a day job, getting there from here through indie channels is less daunting.
    • The newspaper comics generally considered to be the greatest of all time are The Far Side, Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, and Bloom County. The fact that none of these are currently running (Peanuts does persist in reruns) is definitely a factor. Only four active North American newspaper comics are highly regard on the internet: Dilbert, Get Fuzzy, Pearls Before Swine and FoxTrot.
    • Mexican print comic artist Trino still gets high regard for his mix of mordacious humor and sociopolitical commentary.
    • "Legacy" strips have especially suffered for this. The fact that The Katzenjammer Kids, the longest running narrative of ALL TIME (1896–present) doesn't yet have an article on this website just shows how far they have fallen.
    • In 2009, DC Comics did an experiment called "Wednesday Comics", in which they published a weekly "newspaper", consisting of nothing but comics done in the format of the 1930s. I.e., they were full color, 14"×20" (35 cm×50 cm), some of them fully painted. They were written and drawn by some of the biggest names in the industry (Gaiman, Kubert, Simonson), and starred both DC's greatest hits (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) and quirky fan-favorites (Kamandi, Adam Strange, Metamorpho). The experiment lasted three months. Alas, newspaper-style comics don't sell.

Pro Wrestling

  • Professional Wrestling itself is almost always this trope, excluding the periodic boom periods [5] where it becomes okay to admit that you're a wrestling fan without getting called a redneck. Of course, even when wrestling is on the low, wrestling companies still tend to be relatively successful. Fans cry that the end is coming far too often however.
  • WCW. Once a dangerous threat to the WWE, it quickly fell apart due to catastrophic mismanagement, eventually being bought out by its arch-rival for scraps, and its disastrous final years are what many wrestling fans today think of when they hear the promotion mentioned.
  • The Monday Night Wars put an end to shows made entirely of Squash Matches. Once shows presented quality matches on free tv, fans of either company wouldn't settle for anything else. While some may have a squash match or two to debut a new wrestler or for a joke match, a show consisting entirely of them will suffer in the ratings. And if you're a younger wrestling fan (say, ages 10 to 30), you might not even be aware these shows ever existed.

Puppet Shows

  • Spitting Image. In the 1980s the puppet-based satire show was the most important topical comedy show in Britain. Now it's almost totally forgotten except as a relic of The Eighties. However, its writers and voice actors went on to do things like Red Dwarf and Blackadder.
  • In France, Le Bébête Show went the exact same way, except that their puppets were based upon Jim Henson's Muppet Show. Lasted for ten years or so, before being declared too lame to live, especially because of the comparison between them and their concurrent Les Guignols de l'info, which rose a few years ago on another network.
    • Les Guignols started in the beginning of the nineties, following the very same concept of Spitting Image, and is still aired. Slowly dying of Flanderization after the successive departures of Benoît Delépine and, some years after, Bruno Gaccio, who both were a LOT sharper in their texts.


  • Back before Television, the Radio served the purpose of supplying scripted entertainment over the airwaves. While such programs are still made today (particularly in Britain), ask anybody under the age of 40 if they listen to the radio for anything other than music, sports and Rush and you will most likely get a confused stare. "Dramatic series? Sitcoms? Game shows? On the radio? Leave me alone, old man!" There has been a minor revival in the form of podcasts, but it's still a very niche market.
    • As noted above, averted hard in Britain where radio sitcoms, games shows and dramas are still popular. In fact, many successful British comedy acts and sitcoms actually start out on the radio and make the move to television. It helps that the BBC has two radio stations dedicated to this kind of programming - the popular Radio 4 and the more niche Radio 4 Extra (the latter of which is largely a showcase for old Radio 4 shows and even older US Radio).
  • The "Better Music Mix" format, a format expanded into the United Kingdom (but not Scotland or Northern Ireland) as "Today's Best Mix / Best Mix of the 80s, 90s and Today / More Music Variety", which was pioneered by Australian radio in the late 1980s - early 1990s. Nowadays it's almost Deader Than Disco, a Dead Horse Music Genre, but not quite. The fact that all the former GWR Group stations (except Leicester Sound, RAM FM, Trent FM) are now branded Heart (a female-skewed, softer-music format) with "more music/less talk", shows that Dead Horse Music Genre applies to radio. The new Capital Radio has made Galaxy's "hotter dance/HouseMusic format" almost a Dead Horse Music Genre.
    • Only the UTV Radio group of stations now use the Today's Best Mix slogan, and that's In Name Only, as they are unrelated in presentation style to the old GWR stations.


  • The Rookie of the Year award in various sports has proven to be a total crapshoot when it comes to predicting future greatness. Many have successful careers, but even more seem to quickly fade into obscurity.
    • Some of Major League Baseball's greatest players were Rookies of the Year, including Willie Mays, Pete Rose, and Tom Seaver. But not all ROYs have gone on to great careers. Anyone remember Pat Listach? Joe Charboneau? Don Schwall?
    • Football's Heisman Trophy has been dubbed "the kiss of death for college players", given how few winners have made it into the Football Hall of Fame.
  • In motor racing, Jacques Villeneuve. The son of the legendary Gilles Villeneuve, he first came to prominence winning the IndyCar Rookie of the Year award in 1994, and went on to win the IndyCar series the following year driving with his Dad's iconic 27 on his car. He moved to Formula 1 in 1996 and was sensationally on pole position for his first race (something only achieved twice before by Mario Andretti and Carlos Reutemann respectively), ahead of his much more experienced team mate Damon Hill. He won his fourth race, suckered Michael Schumacher by overtaking him around the outside in Portugal, and was in the hunt for the championship against Hill until the last race, finishing 2nd. He won the championship the following year in a final race shootout with Schumacher where he was generally applauded after trying an opportunistic overtaking move and leaving Schumacher beached in the gravel when the German tried to block him. Then his career tanked, he ended up struggling in the middle of the pack, he fell out with friends and teammates, and he stopped caring generally. He was finally sacked midway through 2006 due to a string of poor performances. People murmured that he'd lucked into his wins by having the best car and that Schumacher had nearly beaten him in an inferior Ferrari. He then released a music album which also failed. He tried NASCAR and made no impact. Despite all this, he is now in talks in returning to F1 in 2010, and is competing in the Le Mans 24 hours too, aiming to become the second driver since Graham Hill to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport.
  • Ryan Leaf. A Heisman Trophy finalist during his time at Washington State University, he was the second pick in the NFL Draft in 1998, behind Peyton Manning. It was predicted that he would go on to be one of the all-time football greats. Fast forward to today, and he's regarded as one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history, his four-year career being marked by injuries, bad relations with his teammates and fans, and poor performance on the field. His fall was so infamous that, every draft, sports writers speculate on which hot college prospect will become the "next Ryan Leaf" by flopping in the NFL.
  • Ever wonder why association football/soccer has such a vocal hatedom in the United States? This is why. In the early part of the 20th century, when most of the major professional sports leagues on both sides of the Atlantic were in their infancy, the American Soccer League was among them. It was, at one point, the second most popular sports league in the country after Major League Baseball. However, disputes between the ASL and the rival United States Football Association over a number of factors led to a "Soccer War", with FIFA butting in and siding with the USFA over controversy that the ASL was signing players who were under contract to European teams. The Soccer War crippled the ASL, with the league folding at the end of the 1933 season. Worse, while the USFA and FIFA won the war and established their pre-eminence, the spectacle of a US athletic association conspiring with a European organization to undermine its rival alienated many U.S. sports fans by creating an image of soccer as a sport controlled by foreigners, and along with the lack of a professional league that was able to field good players like the ASL did, the events pretty much killed the sport’s popularity for decades.
Soccer experienced a brief but explosive boom in the United States between the late '70s and the mid '80s with the North American Soccer League, due in thanks to the New York Cosmos, which brought in some of the soccer world's biggest heroes (such as Pele himself and Franz Beckenbauer) to play for them. While financial hardships following Pele’s retirement would eventually lead to the NASL’s folding in 1984, it reintroduced soccer to the North American sports scene on a large scale, and was a major contributing factor in soccer becoming one of the most popular sports among American youth. Along with FIFA giving the US hosting duties in the 1994 World Cup, the improving success of the US Men’s and Women’s National Teams, and the implementation and growing success of Major League Soccer, soccer seems to be on the way to regaining its long-sought Major League status. However, with the ever crowded American sporting landscape from leagues that thrived in soccer’s absence, not to mention the persistent stereotypes of the sport which came about during its "death",[6] it will take time before this can go on the Popularity Polynomial page.

Stand-up Comedy

  • Rob Newman and David Baddiel's stand-up. In the early nineties, they were the "New Rock 'n' Roll", hosting The Mary Whitehouse Experience and playing sell out gigs at Wembley Arena. Then they fell out, split their partnership, and a few years later most of their stuff fell by the wayside. Intellectual and philosophical comedy, and their grunge-meets-preppy style, was replaced by "laddish" comedy (including Baddiel's own Fantasy Football League TV show) and the Britpop wars of Oasis vs. Blur. Occasionally you might hear someone in Britain say "That's you that is!", but so far there has been no revival of interest. Both of them are now well known as authors, but their stand-up careers have been largely forgotten.
    • Rob Newman, anyway. David Baddiel's career recovered a few years later when he found a new partner in Frank Skinner. Skinner and Baddiel hosted the quirky sport programme Fantasy Football League and, with alt rock group The Lightning Seeds, scored a #1 UK hit with "Three Lions"...Then, Fantasy Football League was canceled and the bottom fell out of their career. Even though they can likely both retire from the royalties for "Three Lions", they've stuck around doing podcasts.
  • Andrew Dice Clay was a pretty big hit in the late 80s/early 90s for his controversial, sexist insult humor (essentially the Don Rickles of his day). However, his act was seen as annoying and offensive to some (most notably Roger Ebert), mainly due to his tendencies to play his stage persona in reality, as well as the fact that being un-PC just for the sake of it was getting played out. The tipping point was the flop of his star vehicle film The Adventures of Ford Fairlane which, to add insult to injury, was removed from theaters due to pressure from Moral Guardians. Clay's popularity plummeted shortly afterwards; he subsequently tried to change his image as a result, even doing a failed CBS sitcom where he played a family man, but to little avail.
  • On a more general note, such comedians as Bernard Manning and Jim Davidson, well known for their racist, sexist and mother-in-law jokes, were once huge, but are pretty much jokes themselves now.
  • Gallagher was huge in the The Eighties, selling out giant arenas and delivering expensive stage shows with a wide array of elaborate props. He fell quite far—until illness forced him to retire in 2012, he toiled in relative obscurity in local shows and squabbled with his copycat brother, while his act took an unpleasantly hateful, racist and homophobic turn (as described here). His original act is mostly remembered as being representative of all that was wrong with stand-up comedy in The Eighties.
  • The Blue Collar Comedy trend was established at the Turn of the Millennium. Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Larry the Cable Guy, and Ron White's routines played with Deep South / white trash stereotypes while applying a Flyover Country perspective to general stand-up topics. Often touring together, they even had a Sketch Comedy show on The WB that reran on Comedy Central. But Foxworthy's signature "You might be a redneck" routine was parodied by every group ever even before the trend exploded, Larry was overexposed (partially via the Cars films), Engvall is now best-known for hosting the revival of Lingo, and White still does stand-up but has distanced himself from the rest of the group.

Tabletop Games

  • Drizzt Do'Urden was the hottest thing in Dungeons & Dragons, before the Wolverine Publicity, Overused Copycat Character, and all the bad Fanfic. Now, say "I love Drizzt books" on-line and many RPG players will think you're saying "I am a 13-year-old boy who has never read anything else in his life."
    • This is not helped by the fact that said 13-year-olds still love to create Drizzt imitations in about every MMO known to man. If you see any sort of dual-wielding darkish kind of elf in an MMO, chances he'll have a name suspiciously similar to "Drizzt". Even that seems to be a Dead Horse Trope now.
    • This might be partially because the Drizzt books rely on the assumption of the reader that dark elves are evil. If the only dark elf you've ever heard of is Drizzt, you're going to lose something.
  • In The World of Darkness games:
    • Having a character with a trenchcoat and a katana has become cliche and passe. The initial popularity was aided by the fact that in some editions, swords are more powerful than guns and katanas are the most powerful sword.
    • In The Nineties, Vampire: The Masquerade gained a very low reputation in Poland for having players that were insufferable goth stereotypes. It ended in the establishment of WoD-free zone at a major convention.


  • The infamous Happily Ever After version of Shakespeare's King Lear by Nahum Tate. The 1681 rewrite (which Tate boasted "rectifies what was wanting in the Regularity and Probability of the Tale") ends with the good guys surviving, Lear regaining his throne, and Edgar and Cordelia marrying. It proved so popular with Restoration audiences (who hated Shakespeare's Kill'Em All Downer Ending—purely his own invention and diverging drastically from his source material, the Historia Regum Britanniae, in which the legendary king's story has a cheerful conclusion) that it completely eclipsed Shakespeare's King Lear for the next 150 years, enjoying hundreds of productions, while the original Lear languished in obscurity and went all but unperformed. In the 1830s reverent fans of the Bard began to restore Shakespeare's original ending to performances, and the Tate version gradually fell out of favor, increasingly derided by Victorian critics as sentimental and trite. Since the start of the twentieth century, the Tate play has only been revived a few times, and then only as a quaint historical curiosity. It's mostly remembered today as one of the earliest and oddest examples of Disneyfication.
  • Vaudeville (a series of unrelated acts, such as musicians, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians or acrobats), was one of the most popular types of entertainment in America for several decades between the 1880s and the 1930s. It waned due to the arrival of cinema and radio, and is today remembered mainly for having been the breeding ground for many of the talents of Golden Age Hollywood.
  • Minstrel Shows were some of the most popular forms of entertainment in the 19th and early 20th centuries, being viewed as good, clean, light comedy. They were also very culturally significant as one of the first uniquely American forms of artistic expression. As times changed, however, the nasty racial undertones that lay at the core of the genre fundamentally discredited it. Today, it is only used in period works as a way to highlight the Values Dissonance of the era.
    • A notable turning point was in White Christmas, the 1954 remake of sorts of 1942's Holiday Inn. Like Holiday Inn, White Christmas had a minstrel-show number; unlike Holiday Inn, the performers wore tuxedoes, top hats, and gloves, but not black makeup.
  • Blackface, within minstrel shows and for any other reason, is now extremely taboo in much of the Western world and is used only for historical reasons, irony, or to make a statement about racism. However, this is not the case for some countries that the trope spread to, where it's detached from race relations. One of the most notable examples is Japan, where many people don't understand why it's so offensive and it still has influence on popular culture, leading to many a Cross Cultural Kerfluffle.
  • Cyrano De Bergerac: In-Universe, this play shows us a French literary movement at The Cavalier Years that has become synonymous with Fan Dumb: les Précieuses, who loved and produced a extended literary work around one trope: Beauty Equals Goodness. Unfortunately, their taste was questionable, to say the least, and soon they found their work ridiculed and even themselves were parodied by Moliere. The play lampshades it with Dramatic Irony at Act I Scene II, with a Long List of authors that were big at their time but now are completely forgotten. Obviously, this is Truth in Television.
  • In The Eighties, there was an international craze for European, Scenery Porn-heavy musical spectacles ("megamusicals") such as Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, and the bulk of Andrew Lloyd Webber's output, which reached a commercial apex with The Phantom of the Opera. But at the turn of The Nineties, starting with Lloyd Webber's Aspects of Love, newer megamusicals began underperforming or outright flopping in North America. By the Turn of the Millennium the style, never popular with theater critics, became deader than disco there. Attempts at exporting Tanz der Vampire, Notre Dame de Paris, The Woman in White, and The Pirate Queen to North America proved failures (and a heavily retooled one in the first case) as audiences turned to straight-up musical comedies (spearheaded by The Producers) and jukebox musicals instead. Even Lloyd Webber's Phantom sequel Love Never Dies hasn't launched a Broadway production yet. However, the various Disney stage musicals, Wicked, and Spider Man Turn Off the Dark can be seen as following on from the megamusical with their massive production values, and Les Miserables and Phantom in particular still have huge fanbases.


  • Any number of fad toys. Tamagochi, Furby, Tickle-Me-Elmo, pogs ("tazos" in Mexico, Australia and other countries)... the list is ever-growing.
    • For the fogies in the crowd: Pet rocks. Mood rings. Lava lamps. (Although that last one has never quite gone entirely away, but is now mostly the venue of young kids. A lava lamp seen in a movie or TV show is an indicator that its owner smokes a lot of pot.)
    • For people of a certain age, we've seen our following childhood toys go through this: Cabbage Patch Kids (though they're making a valiant attempt at a resurgence), Teddy Ruxpin, Simon, pocket games that play only one game (such as Pac-Man or Centipede), Pound Puppies, the Snoopy snow cone maker, Strawberry Shortcake, and Rainbow Brite (though those last three are making something of a comeback).
  • Chemistry sets and other science kits. The Gabriel and Skillcraft sets were highly acclaimed for being equipped with everything a budding young chemist needs: scaled down chemical glassware (real Pyrex), apparatus, and a host of chemicals used by real chemists. As a bonus, you could order from their catalogs for even more items. Due to alleged concerns about safety and liability, modern chemistry sets no longer have much in the way of chemicals. Test tubes and beakers are now plastic, there are no alchohol burners, and all experiments are limited to simple, boring, reactions such as color changes. Chemicals are now mostly limited to vinegar, table salt, table sugar, and other "safe" household items that are expected to already be on hand. What is now widely known is that safety aside, the more vocal concern amongst certain extremist groups is that chemistry sets allegedly teach kids to make bombs and illegal drugs. Clearly an appeal to the wars against terrorism and drugs with thinly disguised lip service to child safety. There have been a few highly publicized police raids into the homes of what were nothing more than chemistry hobbyists. Some states, such as Texas, have even gone to the extreme as making posession of any chemistry glassware illegal without a government permit.
  • Hobby telescopes: These are often sold in toy stores, department and novelty stores and they are usually priced anywhere from $49.99 to $99.99. With a little research, any budding amateur astronomer will instantly realise that the only good telecope is a telescope that you purchase from a dedicated and reputable science vendor. They are more expensive but if one is serious about the hobby, it's worth the investment.

Video Games


  • The entire home video game industry was Deader Than Disco in the US and Canada after The Great Video Game Crash of 1983. Overloaded with options and crappy games, consumers were convinced that consoles were nothing more than a passing fad until Nintendo came along and revitalized the entire industry. Note that the Crash did not affect the market in Asia or Europe and video arcades remained highly profitable.
    • In Europe, the video games industry actually started-up around the time of the Crash in North America, largely thanks to the explosion in popularity of cheap home computers around 1981-82.
  • Arcade games. Up until the sixth generation of consoles, console ports of arcade games were inferior to their arcade counterparts. Nowadays, why pay $1 a game when you can just buy the game for consoles for $60 (or on PSN or XBLA for $10 or $20) and be done with paying for it? To add insult to injury, once these games make it to consoles, they get bashed for having simple gameplay and not being long enough (typically 30–90 minutes).
    • In fact, the arcade business in the United States is pretty much completely dead now because of consoles. For a while, they tried to compete by using expensive hardware to offer unique video game experiences that couldn't be replicated on home consoles—some of Sega's more ambitious cabinets cost over $10,000 each, for example. It didn't work. Now, pure arcades—places that aren't part of larger facilities like movie theaters, bowling alleys and amusement parks—are almost extinct outside of places like boardwalks,[7] and shamelessly offer the same stale, beat-up racing and Light Gun Game cabinets from the Turn of the Millennium and earlier (we're looking at you, Time Crisis II and Cruis'n Exotica) amongst other games that could never really be done with home systems like Basketball, Skee Ball, and the occasional Press-your-luck kind of game. This is compounded by the fact that the only companies still releasing new arcade games are Konami, Namco Bandai and Raw Thrills, with even arcade stalwart Midway having left the business to focus on consoles in their final years.
    • Japan's arcades live on, but the age of extreme violence in arcade games is over. However, thanks to game cards that saves your profile in certain games (almost every arcade game worth its salt has a save system now), many of them got a new lease on life.
    • A similar trend is happening with laser tag arcades. Back in the 80s and early 90s, they were the hot new thing, a safer alternative to that paintball thing that kids found fascinating, but was too dangerous to try. Nowadays, the only place in the world that is really still doing it is the US.
    • There is a small resurgence of arcades with Dave and Buster's restaurants. The main appeal seems to be nostalgia for the patrons in their twenties and thirties remembering they hey-day of arcades. Also, free flowing alcohol.
  • The Beat'Em Up genre used to be a major part of the early game industry, and even managed to survive into the 3D era. Now, however, pure fighting games offer more content for skilled gamers, and Wide Open Sandbox games offer things to do other than punch people in the face. This left traditional brawlers without a niche to define themselves with, and more modern gamers began to see the genre as repetitive and derivative. Hardly any are made anymore, and the few that do (God Hand, MadWorld, No More Heroes) are mostly cult hits at best.
  • Back in the Leap to 3D era, especially on the Nintendo64, a staple of the industry was the collectathon Platform Game, starting with Super Mario 64 and exemplified by Banjo-Kazooie and Spyro the Dragon. But by the next console generation, the genre was relegated to cheap tie-in titles and series that overstayed their welcome. The reasons aren't certain, though some blame Donkey Kong 64 for breaking the spirits of gamers, with a massive and frankly unreasonable amount of collectables (which seemed to have garnered few complaints back in the day).
    • One exception is the Super Mario Galaxy games, which have been wildly successful despite (or because of?) sticking to the overall format and gameplay established by Super Mario 64.
  • This happened twice in five years with rhythm games. First, in the mid-'00s, Japanese and Korean series like DJMAX and the Bemani games got driven out by Western guitar-based games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Then, in 2010, guitar-based rhythm games turned out to be a passing fad too, with sales for that year's Guitar Hero and Rock Band installments plunging compared to previous entries (to say nothing of flops like Rock Revolution and Power Gig: Rise of the SixString), enough so that the former series was officially pronounced dead. Now, many of those plastic instruments are collecting dust in closets and GameStop storerooms. Many blame the overexposure that Guitar Hero and Rock Band received, with so many Mission Pack Sequels (Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the '80s, Green Day: Rock Band, etc.) being churned out that gamers got sick of it. Currently, dance-based rhythm games, like Dance Central and Just Dance, are popular; time will tell if they go the same way as those that came before.
  • While you might see the occasional one coming from a Manic Shmup company such as CAVE, the Shoot'Em Up industry is getting far fewer entries than it did in the past, and some would say that the ones it does get are often lacking compared to their older counterparts. Most of the titles released now are either remakes of earlier titles or Bullet Hell shooters.
  • FMV games were huge during the early '90s, and were once hailed as the future of gaming. But technology advanced and the genre got a reputation for shovelware (thanks to infamous bombs like Night Trap), and by the end of the decade, developers and customers alike treated the genre as though it had been put on the sex offender registry.
    • The precursor to FMV in the 90s, Laser-Disc arcade games saw a brief explosion in the early-to-mid 80s, with games like Dragon's Lair. Don Bluth, in news footage extolling said game, said in effect "Hollywood is now getting into the interactive business, with writers and actors involved with gaming." The Video Game Crash, plus the high cost maintenance of laser players, saw the genre die out in a few years.
      • By extension, actors in general (not counting voice-overs) in gaming died out in the nineties. In addition to FMV actors, many games featured digitized actors, such as Mortal Kombat. Once consoles entered the sixth generation, digitization was completely phased out for original graphics.
  • Virtual Reality. In the early to mid 90's, this was believed to be the future of video games. However, a combination of the high costs of VR headsets, the failure of Nintendo's Virtual Boy and the rise in popularity of multiplayer gaming (the social aspect of which was difficult to successfully integrate into a VR setting) significantly decreased mainstream interest in the idea. By about 1998, virtual reality was more-or-less forgotten in video games, and is used mainly for scientific purposes (such as medical research). While having a resurgence in the late 2010s (as the technology for VR sets has cheapened and improved greatly, and the introduction of motion controllers and augmented reality interactions make for a more interesting experience), this is still a small niche, not having found its definitive killer app.
  • The entire Eastern RPG genre in the West. During the 90s and early 2000s, the genre was viewed as the ultimate video game narrative genre, with awesome storylines that many said rivaled some Hollywood blockbusters. However, sometime during the mid-2000s, with the explosion of Western development teams and the decay of the Japanese industry, the tides changed dramatically. Now it's arguably the most dreaded video game genre, seen as a poison that has been holding video games back as a narrative medium for too long. Though the genre still thrives in Japan, and a small number of titles such as Final Fantasy and the Persona series has managed to keep the genre relevant, it’s a far cry from the days when it ruled the games industry and was the darling of critics.
    • For that matter, the entire Japanese video game industry has seen its once-sterling reputation in the West slowly erode over the past decade. From 1983 up until around 2003-04, Japanese companies like Nintendo, Sega, Square Enix and Capcom were the only real names in video game development, garnering most of the big titles and affection from critics. However, the spread of PC gaming sensibilities into the console market (PC gaming having always been a Western domain), the rise of Western game developers that can produce AAA titles with the best of them, and the slouching Japanese economy mean that Japanese developers have lost their untouchable position. Worst case scenario, they're seen as hopelessly trying to play catch-up with Western developers by keeping their "quirkier" titles from Western shores and tailoring their other games more towards Western sensibilities.
    • It's telling that, despite critical acclaim, it can pretty much become an uphill battle to even get certain JRPGs localized, even in limited release. For example, the games of the Operation Rainfall campaign, such as Xenoblade Chronicles or The Last Story. Both received rave reviews in Japan and Europe, and Xenoblade's run in Europe turned into a surprise commercial success. Unfortunately, selling JRPGs practically became commercial suicide in the US, with the massive backlash against post-XII Final Fantasy games still fresh in people's minds. After a massive word-of-mouth campaign though, both games managed to get release dates in the US, and Xenoblade opened to similarly glowing reviews and surprisingly good pre-order sales.
  • Pre-rendered graphics enjoyed a day in the limelight from about 1994 to 1996 but is now happily forgotten, being only used in the odd handheld game and even that is exceedingly rare. In retrospect, what was once lauded as the new cutting edge just looks cheap and ugly 90% of the time, especially on with the current generation using consoles capable of far better graphics than could have been pre-rendered at the time.


  • An in-universe example occurs in the Grand Theft Auto series, where Lazlow goes from being one of the hottest DJs and Radio hosts in America to a washed-up joke who's best known for payola scandals and personal indiscretions, is shilling for the "ZiT!" cellphone app to pay the bills, and gets ridiculed on the street by passerby. Throughout the series, we get to catch up on him at all the points in his career, from his rise (VCS, Vice City) to the peak of his popularity (San Andreas, GTA III) to after his fall (GTA IV).
  • When the original Sonic Adventure was released as a launch title for the Sega Dreamcast, fans and critics raved about its graphics, its amazing sense of speed, its surprisingly complex story, and the joy of finally seeing Sonic the Hedgehog make a Video Game 3D Leap. Over the next few years (with more games being released for the Dreamcast and the launch of the PlayStation 2), games with graphics and frame rates that were as good as, if not better than, Sonic Adventure's became the norm, and players began to look past those qualities and find faults in the game, like the overabundance of half-baked gameplay styles for the sake of variety (most notoriously FISHING in a Sonic game, the unreliable camera, and the questionable voice acting quality. Nowadays the game is cited as one of the prime examples of the Polygon Ceiling and the start of a Dork Age for the Sonic franchise. It's telling that the game's Updated Rerelease, which came out a mere four years after the original, received mediocre-to-bad reviews, despite reviews for the original being glowing.
  • In-universe example in Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope's third DLC Rayman in the Phantom Show: Phantom mocks Rayman in a song before starting the final battle, essentially calling him a discredited icon who deserved to get sidelined and replaced by the Rabbids because he was never that cool to begin with. It kind of rings true considering Rayman was turned into a joke and faded out of existence during the Rabbids era, until Rayman Origins rebooted his franchise.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • The Game Overthinker episode "Who Will Be Remembered?" is basically a discussion of this trope, asking which iconic video games and characters will stand the test of time. Past examples from film, animation, comic books and stand-up comedy are employed to demonstrate how the trope works.
    • The episode "Thing We Lost in the Fire" also covers this trope, talking about how arcades have experienced this in the US, and how they could possibly make a comeback (using the Golden Tee series of golf games as Exhibit A).
    • Discussed again in the episode "Setting Sun", where he talks about the decline of the Japanese game industry.

Western Animation

  • The Shmoo, an Al Capp cartoon creature that became independently popular in the 40s as an expression, caricature, etc., have since become completely forgotten. See Let's Meet the Meat for details.
  • Most animated shorts characters from before 1980. Disney's characters are an exception, but in the U.S., this is largely because they're used and merchandised as corporate mascots and/or in different contexts than those that made them famous (i.e., Mickey Mouse Clubhouse).
    • Ditto for Looney Tunes, although the original shorts still get a fair amount of play.
  • A special shout-out to Marvel/Sunbow's G.I. Joe cartoon, which actually used the line "Deader than Disco" in one of the episodes.

Cobra Commander: As of now, your little project is deader than Disco!

  • Western Animation in general for much of its existence. See Film above.
  • Mr. Magoo seems to have fallen into complete obscurity despite winning Oscars for Best Animated Short Film, appearing in a popular if forgotten Christmas Special, and being an advertising mascot for brands like General Electric. Disney attempted to give him a new lease on life in 1997 with a Live Action Adaptation, but it flopped both critically and financially.
    • That's mostly due to Values Dissonance. Modern audiences are rather squicked by the apparent mockery of someone with a vision impairment.
  • The one time staple of Saturday morning cartoons is also fast heading this direction, with many TV stations selling off their Saturday time slots for more lucrative infomercials and sports blocks.
  • On the same note, the day of daily cartoons is long over, with a season of 60+ episodes like most of the toy driven series of the 1980s and early 1990s being unthinkable and unfeasible.
  • The concept of programming blocks in general, since networks can just create a niche channel like The Hub or TV Land to run those sort of shows 24 hours a day.

Real Life


  • For most of the Cold War, the idea that revolutionary communism (specifically of the Stalinist variety) was a) a valid alternative to the Western capitalist system, and b) inevitable to become very widespread. After The Great Politics Mess-Up, it's very much a niche opinion. While democratic Marxist parties have enjoyed considerable success in several countries (e.g. Brazil, South Africa, Nepal, Uruguay, Cyprus), the radical revolutionary brand is limited to a few far-left fringe parties, mostly in ex-communist countries and on college campuses.
    • Ditto for communism's old arch-enemy, fascism. During the interwar period, a considerable number of intellectuals felt that liberal democracy was a fundamentally flawed system that was doomed to collapse, and that fascism was the only thing that could save the Western world from the decadence and materialism produced by that system. After World War II, though, it's tough to find anybody, other than the most die-hard neo-Nazi fringe, who will openly admit sympathy for fascism, and the mere existence of Godwin's Law shows how hated fascism is in all corners of the political world (and even in many debates wholly separate from politics).
  • The fear of a nuclear holocaust seems much more laughable now than it did during the Cold War, at least in the Western world. (It's a different story if you live in India or Pakistan...)
  • In the early 20th century, eugenics was viewed as a serious field of research, and nearly every Western nation (and even some non-Western countries) had a eugenics program designed for the "betterment of the national race" through keeping out undesirable immigrants and sterilizing criminals and the mentally disabled. Eugenics was already falling out of vogue by the time World War II started, but the revelations of the horrors committed by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan could only have hastened its widespread repudiation. Today, there remain very few proponents of eugenics, many of them are associated with fringe politics, and even suggesting that you support it is enough to bring up major accusations of Unfortunate Implications.
    • How far has it fallen? In 2004, a eugenics proponent in Tennessee's 8th Congressional district won the Republican nomination for the House of Representatives. He got less than a quarter of the vote, in an district that's normally a lock for Republicans. His support for eugenics singlehandedly destroyed his campaign.
  • Similarly, the various racial and cultural theories put forward by anthropologists and biologists around the same time, which were often used to justify, among other things, eugenics programs and European colonialism. The work of Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, and other leading anthropologists in the early 20th century caused many scientists to call into question their assumption of the "natural superiority" of European people and culture, and served to kick off the above-mentioned decline in the popularity of eugenics.
  • Various "people-moving" automobiles over time. In order: station wagons became Deader Than Disco in the late '70s/early '80s thanks to the energy crises of The Seventies, their perception as gas-guzzling land yachts, and the rise of minivans that could carry more cargo and get better fuel economy. Minivans, in turn, went out of style in the late '90s/early '00s thanks to the growing perception that they were uncool and boring to drive, and a sign that their owners were bland suburbanites. Their replacement, sport-utility vehicles, suffered a huge backlash just a few years ago, for the same reasons that the old station wagons did, to be replaced by "crossover" utility vehicles and smaller, more efficient wagons. And minivans.
  • Various automobile aesthetic styles have died as well, such as the big, cartoony fins of The Fifties and the "box-on-wheels" look of The Eighties.
  • Automobiles with V6 and V8 engines are, despite the economic crisis, back in fashion, as technologies improve. Despite the CO2/g culture in the UK, it's still not stopped it. This is despite the fact you nowadays see 4-cylinder turbos as large engines, or 6-cylinder ones. But buyers still want the "old-style" engines for simplicity's sake...
  • Service stations, where the same business both sold fuel and repaired motorcars, are a dying breed. This was once the standard, but by 1985 it was being lampshaded - most infamously by the "Mister Sandman" Sequence in which Back to The Future insisted the service was better in 1958. It's not just that the stations are self-serve; most are no longer attached to repair facilities of any kind as retailers find that the space can be more profitably used to dump an overpriced convenience store next to the forecourt instead of fixing cars.
  • The idea of "free love," at least as it was conceptualized by The Sixties counterculture, was pretty much discredited in The Eighties by HIV and the rise of the New Right as a potent political force. (Not that pre-Sixties puritanism has ever truly returned, of course.)
  • Chuck E. Cheese's and similar children's restaurants/play areas are zig-zagging. In its heyday in the '80s, Chuck E. Cheese's was the most popular party spot for kids. Along with similar copycat businesses, fast food joints such as McDonald's and Burger King developed their own giant playgrounds in the '90s. Over time, however, such places came to be viewed as hunting grounds for pedophiles and/or targets of Urban Legends related to disgusting unmentionables lurking in ball pits. While Chuck E. Cheese's is still doing well, most of its competitors (including Show Biz Pizza and Discovery Zone, which it bought out, and regional players such as Jeepers!) are long gone, and most fast-food places have removed their playplaces. On the other hand, Dave & Busters came up with a successful spin on the concept by targeting adults (on-site bar, bowling, billiards, arcade, etc.).
  • Doctors who make house calls. Around the 1930s, this practice accounted for about 40% of physician appointments, but by the 80s (mostly due to increased specialization and new technology and lack of overhead) it accounted for less than 0.06%. Nowadays only doctors who work as private physicians or those specialize in treating people with chronic illness do so regularly. Some genres of fiction also went through a phase where jokes were made about doctors no longer making house calls, but even that has started to wane.
  • Many fast-food concepts:
    • Drive-thru pretty much killed off drive-in. A&W has caught somewhat of a second wind, but they're most often combined with Long John Silver's or in some other location that's more conventional (food court, gas station, "regular" fast-food drive-thru). Lesser drive-in chains like Dog n Suds and B & K were nearly crushed in the 70s as McDonald's and the like became more popular, not to mention more practical in colder climates. Averted with Sonic, which has escaped the decline of the drive-in restaurant.
      • In Canada, A&W generally was more successful, mainly due to the brand being split with the Canadian operation sold to a separate company in 1972 – which left A&W Canada free to pursue "modernisations" such as the nearly complete abandonment of the original car-hop drive-in concept (which never did work as Canada's seasonal climate forced the original A&W stands to operate only in summer) in the 1980s. The menu also diverged from the US version and drive-through operation replaced the "drive-in" approach used when A&W first expanded into Canada in 1956. It still follows the standard fast-food concept of more "conventional" locations. Some A&W drive-thru restaurants continue to sell bottles of root beer & cream soda and have reintroduced the fried "Chubby Chicken" line in 2001 after an absence through the 1990s.
    • And speaking of Long John Silver's, increasing fish prices pretty much did in the concept of a fast-food seafood restaurant. Long John Silver's dropped a ton of locations in the 1980s and 1990s but has made a bit of a comeback (mostly by co-branding with A&W). Former nationwide players H. Salt Esquire and Arthur Treacher's have mostly retracted to their respective home bases of California or Ohio, although you might still find a stray Arthur Treacher's tacked onto your local Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs.
    • Fast-foods specializing in roast beef. Heap Big Beef came and went in the 1960s, Roy Rogers retracted to New England in the '70s and '80s, and Rax retracted to Ohio. Arby's has been slowly slipping for years, and has pretty much pushed roast beef to the background in favor of subs, salads and chicken sandwiches.
      • Arby's never pushed roast beef to the background. To be fair, they are presently promoting themselves as an all-around sandwich shop, but roast beef remains the staple of their menu.
    • Diner/gift shop/gas station combination chains like Stuckey's, Horne's and Nickerson Farms. While the Stuckey's name still exists, your modern day Stuckey's is bound to be just a few aisles of candy inside an otherwise normal truckstop, and even then you'd be hard-pressed to find any trace of the once-national chain outside the southeastern US. But hey, they still have pecan logs, and you can even order them online!
    • Similarly, truckstop diners are almost entirely a thing of the past. If a truckstop has a restaurant in it now, it's very likely to be a conventional fast-food chain or a diner-type chain such as Denny's.
    • Restaurants that emphasized extra-low prices and fast drive-thru service. Such restaurants had extremely small buildings that lacked dining rooms, and often had two drive-thru bays. Started in 1984 by Hot 'n Now, the concept also spawned Rally's in 1985 and Checkers in 1986. Hot 'n Now pretty much crashed and burned in the mid-1990s when Pepsi got out of the restaurant business. Burger King and McDonald's both tried drive-thru-only concepts in urban markets that never really took off. Losing money in the volatile burger market, Checkers and Rally's merged in 1999, and now (much like Hardee's and Carl's Jr.) the chains differ only in name and maintain the look of Checkers. To help maintain their foothold, Checkers/Rally's shed a lot of less-profitable locations, and any new openings in the past decade have been more conventional fast-food restaurants.
    • Quick-serve restaurants specializing in rotisserie chicken and "homestyle" sides such as mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, etc. The concept started in 1985 with Boston Market, and continued in 1991 with Kenny Rogers Roasters. The latter pretty much imploded after a 1998 bankruptcy filing, although (as with Arthur Treacher's) Nathan's Famous sometimes sells Kenny Rogers Roasters-branded items and the chain is still popular in Asia. Boston Market declared bankruptcy around the same time, languished in the 2000s under the ownership of McDonald's, and got sold off again in 2007.
    • Fast food itself has been (albeit slowly) in decline the last decade or so with the advent of fast casual options like Chipotle and Panera Bread, which offer nearly the speed of fast food and fresher, healthier ingredients and choices at reasonable prices.
  • Howard Johnson's, and how. The chain pioneered several concepts both in restaurants (begun in 1925) and motels (1954). Increased competition, rising gas prices and a great deal of Executive Meddling have pretty much washed away what the once-mighty chain did:
    • The general concept of a singular motel franchise. Before then, most motels were mom-and-pop outlets that could be pretty dire, so the concept of a franchise allowed travelers a sense of uniformity. Nowadays, most motels change brands as often as people change their underwear, so the concept of a franchise motel has gotten severely blurred. That Motel 6 you're staying in now might be worlds apart from the one you stayed at in another town, just because one used to be a Knights Inn and the other used to be an Econo Lodge.
    • Unique architecture. Ho Jo motor lodges and restaurants had unique, A-frame lobbies with bright, orange porcelain tiles. Similarly, Holiday Inn had its huge neon signs, and Knights Inn had medieval architecture to stand out. Compare to the glass and stucco boxes of today, and often oppressive sign ordinances (not to mention the rampant re-branding — as bland as the architecture may be, some details of chains past are harder to mask than others).
    • Curb appeal. Floor-level rooms were directly accessible from the parking lot, and even two- and three-story Ho Jo lodges had easy access. Nowadays, rising real estate value often leads to compact multi-level box motels, which require schlepping down the hallway and up the stairs several times to reach your room.
    • An on-site Howard Johnson's restaurant. When fast food took a huge bite out of the family restaurant sector in the 1970s, HoJo tried several things to catch up, but their many prototypes and concepts all failed. An attempt to cut costs (and lower the quality of the food) to compete against the fast food chains in price also backfired severely. The restaurants got sold to Marriott, who sold off all the company-owned restaurants (or just wanted the valuable highway locations so that Host Marriott could 'flip' them to become franchisees of other chains, such as Burger King) to leave only the franchised ones, which pretty much withered and died. Nowadays, if your motel's near a family-style restaurant at all, it's probably something like a Cracker Barrel, Denny's or Applebee's — and there's no telling how good or bad the service will be.
  • Various cell phone styles. Any phone that isn't a smartphone definitely applies. If you really want people to laugh at you, whip out your flip phone. Among smartphones, however, the BlackBerry line is definitely heading into this due to the popularity of the iPhone and various Android-based phones. The original brick-sized phones from The Eighties are good for Anyone Remember Pogs? jokes, but haven't worked since the analogue network was shut down circa-2008.
  • The personal digital assistant (PDA). From the stylish Sony CLIÉ to the Apple Newton (the iPhone's granddaddy), they were the cool toys to have in the 90s, until smart phones and tablets swallowed them whole. Palm went from being the pioneer of PDA's to a footnote in tech history. RIM survived because they moved into smartphones, though this trope appears to have caught up with them there, as noted above; RIM's spectacular mismanagement certainly isn't helping.
  • Fashion in general is heavily subject to this trope. The easiest way to mark yourself as a loser is to wear last year's or even last season's style.
    • And if you really want to look like a dork, wear styles from the previous decade. During the 1980s, wearing 70s-styles fashions like bellbottoms and earth tones was a surefire way to make people think of you as a hopelessly out-of-touch loser. Then, during the 1990s, wearing 80s fashions like acid-washed jeans and neon colors was a good way to get laughed out of a room. And so on, and so on...
  • Many things in retail:
    • Local department stores. Particularly in the 1990s and 2000s with the long string of mergers that turned Macy's into the giant it is now — for one, they consumed May Company in 2006, which itself was a conglomeration of several chains. Literally dozens of local department store names are now under the Macy's banner, but with little change to the merchandise mix, they're pretty much Macy's In Name Only in most markets. A smaller number have been assimilated into lesser players such as Dillard's and Belk, while others such as Mervyns and Gottschalks just went under entirely. It was also the case with Eaton's in Canada, which was sold to Sears, Simpsons (not that Simpsons), and the regional chain Woodward's (found in Western Canada only), both of which which were sold to the Hudson's Bay Company, the owners of Zellers (now defunct) and The Bay.
    • Five-and-dimes. Kresge began moving away from the concept in 1962 with a little thing called Kmart, in the same year that also brought us Walmart, Target and a host of similar discount department stores (see below). Kmart was so initially successful that the parent company abandoned Kresge in 1987. The concept died due to many dime stores being ancient buildings located in downtowns that were rapidly decaying due to suburban development — development which often included the larger discount stores.
    • It could be argued that the same concept was simply reintroduced in the 1990s. With inflation, items which sold for a nickel when Frank Winfield Woolworth left Watertown, New York to open "Woolworth's Great Five Cent Store" in Utica on 22 February 1879 would have cost $1.14 in 2009 and $1.39 in 2019. The "dollar store" is therefore the same fixed-price, self-service concept which Woolworth was peddling as the five and dime store a hundred and forty years ago. Dollar Tree (US/Canada), Family Dollar and Dollar General (US), Poundland (UK) and Dollarama (in Canada) often thrive in markets not suitable for a full Walmart store (e.g., very small towns, downtowns, urban areas). There are a few other discount stores (like Giant Tiger in Canada) which are not dollar stores, but which carry a deliberately-limited selection of just the most common items so that they can be squeezed into existing spaces that the mainstream grocers and department stores abandoned as "too small" decades ago.
    • Completing the cycle, the traditional discount department store is pretty much dead too. The first wave in the 1980s killed off four discount chains started by Kresge's rivals: Murphy's Mart (G.C. Murphy), Woolco (Woolworth), Grant City (W.T. Grant) and Britt's (J.J. Newberry), along with regional players like Tempo, E.J. Korvette, J.M. Fields and Sky City. It was also at this time that Kmart had a brief rise to the top through acquiring many Grant City, Britt's and Tempo locations. While Kmart later dropped the ball and Walmart made its big push in the late 1990s, larger players such as Ames,[8] Bradlees, Jamesway, Venture and Caldor fell by the wayside too, often giving their own buildings to fuel Walmart's kudzu-like expansion. Nowadays, nearly every Walmart is a "supercenter" with a grocery section (although that name is no longer used), Target (US) has gone upscale, and Kmart is limping its way to oblivion (they've been gone from Canada since their 2005 bankruptcy administration and are part of the Sears Holdings trainwreck stateside). Pretty much the only "real" discount store of this sort now is Shopko, found mainly in the Midwest and mountain states, while the only "supercenter" competition is similarly regional (Meijer in the Great Lakes area and Kentucky, Fred Meyer in the Pacific Northwest and mountain states).
    • Likewise, in Canada, many department stores shared the same fate. Woolco lasted longer in Canada (staying until 1994, when it was acquired by Walmart) than in the U.S., where it ceased to exist in 1982. The Woolco stores that Walmart did not acquire were mostly either downtown stores or unionized stores. Kmart had stores across Canada until 1998, when they were sold to Zellers, which also took over some stores of the aforementioned Woodward's, as well as similar regional chains Miracle Mart and Towers (Bonimart in Quebec) in the eastern provinces. Zellers itself was sold to Target, which shut down many Zellers stores to relaunch them under the Target name in 2013-2014; that effort flopped due to various key blunders (many items routinely out of stock, a supply chain which was pretty much chaos, prices that were no better than the Walmart stores already operating in Canada) and Target left Canada humiliated and nearly a billion dollars poorer.
    • Other discount chains with smaller stores, such as Bi Way and Consumers Distributing, have also ceased to exist. Consumers' catalogue showrooms (and HBC's short-lived "Buy-Rite" chain, an ersatz of the same concept) were the last of a dying concept - the general store where all the merchandise is warehoused behind the counters and the consumer must ask the merchant for each specific item, instead of everything being on open display to tempt both shoplifters and impulse buyers.
    • The concept of ordering from a catalog — including both the big catalogs sent out by Sears and J.C. Penney, and the "catalog showroom" stores like Service Merchandise and Best Products got a one-two punch from the rise of specialty "big-box" stores and the advent of online shopping.
      • Zig-zagged in the UK. Argos is a huge chain famous for 'only' putting their products on display in catalogs (later on, online). The unique practice has somehow managed to make them lots and lots of money. But queueing to buy in Argos is seen as a grim and dull process, the only other big chain that employed this method (Index) was bought out by Argos in the early 2000s, now no other catalog chain is well-known, and with online shopping growing increasingly popular Argos might go the way of Woolworths.
      • There are still a few specialty food companies, like Harry and David's and Swiss Colony, that still do good business from catalog orders, possibly due to their nostalgia factor as a traditional holiday gift in many families.
      • The concept of everything being warehoused behind the counter, where the merchant must fetch individual items for the client, is still alive in a few narrow specialities - such as the automotive parts counter. It's just dead in most mass-market, general merchandise stores (starting with Selfridges and other grand department stores of the early 20th century), grocery stores (which went to the self-service model with the advent of large supermarkets) and public libraries (where the "subscription libraries" and "mechanics' institutes" of the pre-Carnegie era did keep most of their collections behind the counters to safeguard them from theft or damage - and often charged an annual membership fee to borrowers).
    • For that matter, shopping malls in general. Development slowed to a crawl in the 1990s; the last traditional indoor mall in the U.S. was built in Arkansas in 2006.[9] "Dead malls", nearly unheard of before the 2000s, have become increasingly common. The concept fell hard due to many factors: rampant overbuilding that saturated many retail markets; a declining economy that killed off boatloads of retailers and cause many more to scale back their locations; rising land costs; and again, the rise of online shopping. (To a lesser extent, the Macy's bloodbath also wounded dozens of malls which already had both a Macy's and another chain that they bought out, leaving huge tracts of vacant retail space.) Many developers have tried to jazz up the concept by creating "lifestyle center" malls which are basically built as streetscapes and targeted to upscale clientele, but even these have been hit-and-miss. Literally every year, several more malls are closed or torn down for "big box" stores, lifestyle centers or, less often, non-retail uses such as offices or condominiums. Those that aren't have tried to stem the loss of retailers by adding nonconventional tenants such as college campuses or libraries, or redeveloping entire swaths of vacant retail space as the aforementioned "big box" or lifestyle center concepts, while keeping the rest of the mall intact. Some malls have weathered the storm and maintained close to full occupancy, but just as many (if not more) are wounded — even Mall of America lost one of its four department stores in 2012. And what isn't redeveloped is often times just abandoned, leaving an enormous eyesore that can sit vacant and deteriorating for years.
      • The most infamous "dead mall" was the Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, Illinois - opened in 1966, closed in 1978, used for the infamous Blues Brothers car chase and then left to rot before being finally demolished in 2012. It died because the neighbourhood which it served declined due to a combination of increasing crime and a mass exodus of pretty much the entire middle class.
      • More often, the fate of dead malls is tied to the fate of the department store chains which once served as "anchors" to bring foot traffic into the mall. The expression "throwing a drowning man an anchor" fits if that anchor is a Walmart (or other big-box store) which abandoned the mall to build their own free-standing buildings, a Woolco which closed or was converted when Walmart came to town, a Zellers which became part of Target's ill-fated expansion attempt in Canada, a Sears which represents a chain which has closed more stores than have remained open in the Eddie Lampert era or any number of chains which have either failed, are failing or are leaving the malls in droves to relocate elsewhere. When the main stores leave, the mall becomes a very quiet place, until small merchants can no longer justify the high shopping mall rent if there's no foot traffic to yield a return on that expense.
    • The rise of large-scale large-selection franchise chain book stores such as Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million (as well as Chapters/Indigo in Canada and WH Smith in the UK) seemed to mark the end for not only small-business locally owned book stores, but also smaller, mall-based bookstores like B. Dalton and Waldenbooks (which, for the last several years of their lives, were respectively owned by Barnes & Noble and the now-defunct Borders). However, with the competition eliminated, the price of books generally rose and service declined. With the rise of book sales on the internet (with price, selection, and convenience far greater than any physical store could have), said chain stores failed to capitalize on advantages (physical browsing, instant service, community, fairly good coffee), with the outlook looking grim. Interestingly, this has also led to a rise in locally-owned used book stores.
      • Also contributing is the rise of the e-book reader, which takes up less space, has adjustable font-size and built-in back-lighting. E-books tend to also be cheaper than physical copies.
    • Factory outlet malls. The fad came in the 1980s and 1990s, with many small ones located off freeways — most of them were in markets not suitable for one[10] and died swiftly. Others were poorly-located enclosed centers that often lacked a big "anchor" store.[11] Mills Corporation (now part of Simon, the US' largest mall management company) built several larger, enclosed ones in the 1990s that were driven by large numbers of discount[12] and/or "big box" anchors[13] mixed with both outlet and regular stores, along with entertainment options such as movie theaters and bowling alleys, and trendy restaurants such as Rainforest Café. This fad died off with the decline of the shopping mall in general, but many of the Mills malls (and even a few one-offs copying the Mills style) have suffered greatly.
  • Subverted with the Drive-In Theater. Although many of them died off in the 70s and 80s (rising land costs, urban sprawl, high maintenance costs, better quality at increasingly-large multiplexes), the concept caught a second wind in the 2000s, with several new ones opening.
    • Then again, many of the drive-in cineparks are sitting on land which is increasingly expensive and more valuable for other purposes. The same issue applies to low-rise motels (which were killed by the introduction of "economy, limited service" hotels in the early 1980's), drive-in carhop restaurants and other similar roadside architecture. The refusal of film studios to release features on actual 35mm film has also added to the woes of drive-in cinemas, as not all can afford to upgrade to expensive digital projectors if their operation is inherently seasonal. For that matter, the cars aren't as roomy as they were in the 1950's, when petrol was perceived to be less expensive.
  • Speaking of movie theaters, large single-screen movie theaters have almost entirely been replaced by multiplexes that feature smaller auditoriums with stadium-style seating. These days single-screen movie theaters often show independent art-house films or special screenings of classic films from decades past.
    • This may be because they had to compete with "fifty-seven channels of nothing on" on linear television, which in turn have had to compete with a long list of recorded formats which come and go (Betamax, VHS, DVD...) which in turn have had to compete with broadband Internet sites of all descriptions for audience share.
  • The "hi-fi console" and the "console telly" built to look like a piece of furniture were common in the 1970's, when a colour telly was still somewhat of a luxury item and a 26" TV (with its huge, bulky glass picture tube) was invariably large and awkward enough that two people would be needed to install or move the set.
    • For that matter, the makers of hi-fi stereo equipment were reticent to try to miniaturise anything in that era. The first small, transistorised receivers were cheap five-transistor "pocket radios" in which the speakers were too small to deliver anything but tinny, low-quality sound - giving transistorisation and miniaturisation a bad name among hi-fi aficionados. The stereo console in the parlour was a piece of wooden furniture; open a lid on the top and there would be a record changer, an AM/FM stereo radio (on which only the FM was actually in stereo) and most often an 8-track cartridge player, along with some space to store vinyl LP's. Even solid-state component stereo tuners and receivers were sized to appear as large as their vacuum-tube predecessors, even if much of the space inside was empty. Attitudes began to change in the mid-1980's due to various factors, from the introduction of portable stereo equipment to the introduction of compact discs (which would begin to show their obsolescence a little over a decade later as the young whippersnappers listen to MP3's these days).
  • The milkman. The coal man. The ice man. A long list of people who used to deliver everything from bread to Fuller brushes, from expensive printed encyclopaedias to vacuum cleaners, as door-to-door salespeople or door-to-door delivery people. Coal was supplanted by fuel oil, which was replaced by propane or natural gas. Delivering basic groceries to homes died due to better refrigeration and the ready availability of inexpensive supermarkets in most neighbourhoods. More fundamentally, though, there's simply no one at home during the day as both men and women are at work, with the kids in daycare or in school. That leaves many of the adultery tropes which are based on suspicion of "an affair with the milkman" rather dated; if there's cheating today, it's more likely in the workplace.
  • Hackers; Fiction once depicted hackers as colorful anti-establishment rebels who only hacked into government or corporate servers as a way of "sticking it to the man". Today, hackers of that type are mostly profit driven and identity theft is a major concern for the average person. Although a new computer virus seems to show up occasionally, the threat of hackers has been eclipsed by spammers, 419 scams, phishers, and privacy concerns with regard to companies such as Facebook and Microsoft.
    • These days? Much of the truly malicious "hacking" or cracking is being carried out by governments and nation-states, or by groups acting with the implicit support of the state. The US-Israel "Stuxnet" attacks on Iran's nuclear centrifuges, the Watergate-style Russian attack on the Democratic Party which changed the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election, the use of spyware by Saudi Arabia and others to snoop on journalists and dissidents, the widespread industrial and commercial espionage by communist mainland China are just a few widely-reported examples of system crackers being not anti-establishment rebels but actually being The Man or The Deep State or, well, pick your poison...
  • Ghost Towns. A town is established in the wilderness to support a gold or silver rush, or as part of the construction of a railway. The lone industry closes, the valuable minerals being mined are depleted, the market price of the town's only export collapses, the train no longer runs (or no longer stops) or the entire town is bypassed by a new freeway... and the population leaves, with a dead town left behind.
  • The V-chip and similar devices. Whether this was ever considered useful, practical, and/or feasible to begin with is debatable, a common joke being a situation where a parent is trying to figure out how to turn it off, only for his ten year old son to show him how. A study done in 2007 showed that only 52% of families who owned a television with this feature even knew it had one, and of that 53%, only 33% programed it and about 8% used it regularly. (22% tried to use it but quit doing so for reasons that inspired the aforementioned joke.) Tim Winters, the Executive director for the Parents Television Council stated, "What I see is a solution that's flawed at every level. Conceptually, it's not bad, but practically, it's abhorrent."[14]


  • Appropriately, Adolf Hitler is not only no longer popular in Germany, but today's Germans regard him as the worst thing that ever happened to their nation (not that non-Germans wouldn't agree with that).
  • The Intel Pentium brand name. It was synonymous with "uber-fast processor" for nearly twelve years, only for its reputation to be ruined and the brand to instead become dictionary definitions of "under-performing" and "overheating" thanks to the "Prescott" model Pentium 4 and the entire Pentium D line. After that, Intel ended up branding its high-performance chips under the Core 2 (and later Core i7) brand and relegated Pentium to being the brand for their cheaper processors.
  • At the original TV Tropes, there were once popular features such as Fetish Fuel, Troper Tales, and It Just Bugs Me, as well as tropes such as "I Am Not Making This Up", "So Yeah", and "Nakama". However, as misuse and the like came about, these features and tropes, as well as some others, were deleted, renamed, or sent to an offshoot wiki. Today, not only these features and tropes are no longer used, tropers are encouraged to regard the creation of these features as the worst things that ever happened to the wiki. And while All The Tropes doesn't necessarily agree with all the suppressive measures TVT has taken over the years (and have actually undone a few), some of these were admittedly good things.
  • Now that it's well known that not only didn't Christopher Columbus "discover" America,[15] he perpetrated an ethnic cleansing of the Arawak tribe, it's rare to find Columbus Day celebrations, especially on the West Coast. Even though it's a Federal holiday, most schools and businesses ignore it.
    • Exception: Certain East Coast communities celebrate Columbus Day as a day of Italian American heritage/pride. This started in the late 19th to early 20th century: Italians, feeling put-upon by WASP racism, appropriated Columbus Day to say "You say 'Italian' like it's a bad thing. What's wrong with you? An Italian discovered your country!"
      • Also, it's an excuse to have a parade. Although parades have been going this way in recent years as well. When was the last time everybody was abuzz about a Thanksgiving Day Parade float or balloon or original performance ...?
  • The Threat Matrix report was once hailed as the future of anti-terrorism operations in the United States intelligence community due to its purpose of compiling all the most active threats to the US into one central document that could be easily distributed to all the relevant agencies and give the President an up-to-the-minute assessment of global terrorist activities. At one time, it was even taken seriously enough for ABC to commission a [16] drama based on the activities of a fictional government unit set up specifically to deal with the Threat Matrix.
Unfortunately, the authors of the document had a propensity for Critical Research Failures, with an incident involving two Ukranians discussing urinal cakes that was misconstrued as an arrangement to sell yellow-cake uranium being the best known example. It was quickly ignored or even outright lambasted by government agencies, and any reputation for usefulness it might've had in the public eye was destroyed by a non-fiction book published in 2011 detailing how the document had initially screwed up intelligence gathering among the relevant agencies prior to being discontinued.
  1. ironically, thanks to the later works of the very people that had made it such a success in the first place, like Mel Brooks, the Wayans Brothers, and the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team
  2. Some of Rooney's films outside the series, particularly the ones that he did with Judy Garland, were much better appreciated, and Rooney has had a long, successful career, so he himself is not an example of this trope.
  3. The only screenings he allowed were to entertain sick children at Los Angeles-area hospitals.
  4. The original American version, not the still-airing Australian version
  5. The mid-'80s, for example, brought us Hulk Hogan and the Rock & Wrestling era, and the late '90s and early 2000s brought us the Monday Night Wars.
  6. In the modern era, soccer is seen by many Americans as either a "kiddie" or "girly" sport played by adolescents boys and teenage girls with pushy "soccer mom" parents, or one that is dominated by (chiefly Latin American) immigrants.
  7. On the Jersey Shore, for example, it's still easy to find several arcades within a one-mile stretch of boardwalk. This only proves the rule, though -- boardwalks, by their very nature, are tourist attractions that lure people away from their home consoles for reasons other than gaming.
  8. (which itself had over-expanded by buying out Murphy's Mart, Zayre and Hills)
  9. although an enclosed wing was added to a Michigan mall in 2007, and a mall opened in Calgary in 2009
  10. (often at otherwise-undeveloped exits, particularly in smaller towns)
  11. (primarily in the Southern states — metropolitan Houston, Texas had nearly a dozen that barely made it into the 1990s. One between Allen and McKinney was abandoned in 1988)
  12. (such as TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Burlington Coat Factory)
  13. (such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Sports Authority, Old Navy)
  14. New York Daily News, November 29, 2007
  15. Not that he isn't historically important, as his "discovery" was the catalyst for the European colonization of the Americas--the Norse didn't do that, nor for that matter did the indigenous Americans. The term "Columbian Exchange" really is fitting, as he did start that.
  16. short lived