Trope Workshop:Memberberries

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Naming note: Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary both add a space to the name: "Member Berries". Should we be consistent with them?

Sometimes, after a franchise has Jumped the Shark, become a Franchise Zombie, or been Ruined FOREVER, it will enter a phase in which new entries rely more on nostalgia and callbacks to the "good" installments than on trying to tell interesting new stories or create famous new moments and lines of their own. This is the dreaded Memberberries stage of a franchise's life cycle.

Memberberries are often the result of a failed attempt to get a franchise back on track. They also frequently coincide with time-travel soft reboots. They are not always met with a negative reaction; they are more about the goals and mindsets of the people making the installment, and about audience attitudes toward previous installments in the franchise.

Note that callbacks alone do not constitute Memberberries. There must be a popular perception that a franchise has declined in quality, and the events and lines being referenced must have happened long enough ago to be associated with feelings of nostalgia. If a particular line, trope, or running gag existed before the franchise jumped the shark, then continued examples of it do not count as memberberries even after the shark has been jumped.

A sequel that copies the plot of an earlier installment is also not necessarily suffering from Memberberries; a sequel that draws attention to the fact that it's copying the plot of an earlier installment, however, is an example of Memberberries.

Named after the sentient purple berries from season 20 of South Park, who tried to invoke people's nostalgia for political gain.

Examples of Memberberries include:

Anime and Manga

  • The Gundam franchise is no stranger to this trope.
    • In a meta sense, the Char Clone, when done poorly, is this trope by virtue of trying to ape the original and making it so obvious it comes off like cheap pandering, Generally, the better ones have something distinctive that sets them apart, while the worse versions are obvious ripoffs.
    • The Mobile Suit Gundam SEED franchise tends to get panned for a lot of nostalgia reliance to the point of being a crutch, especially in the sequel series, where they blatantly pastiche entire plot arcs and even mecha from the UC series, while letting the story itself suffer by not fixing its preexisting flaws.
    • The Mobile Suit Gundam AGE series has a lot of nostalgia pandering throughout it's run, with the first arc heavily leaning on the original series, the second half cribs a lot from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, and the final arc mines a lot of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam, right down to slavish pastiches of locations, events, characters, and mechs. While some of these elements aren't bad in and of themselves, detractors of the series often note this nostalgia pandering often does little to nothing to fix any flaws of the series while simply hoping to coast by on nostalgia baiting instead.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is panned for doing this trope, trying to mix the moral ambiguity and terrorism angles of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 and the aristocracy and political patchwork of the world setting of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. Detractors note that in trying to recall the former, they tend to make almost everyone look so morally questionable it devolves into Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy. As for the latter, it generally noted that the aristocratic elements come off as less well done and that Gjallarhorn comes off as a less competent copy of OZ.

Film

  • Ghostbusters Afterlife...
    • AKA "Remember Harold Ramis?: The Movie"
    • Why was there a Stay-Puft marshmallow man in the first movie? Because Ray was thinking of marshmallows when Gozer asked him to choose the form of the destructor. Why is there an army of mini-stay-pufts in afterlife? Because Memberberries.
    • Why is there a pole to slide down in the first two movies? Because firehouses have poles because that's the fastest way for firefighters to get to ground level during an emergency. Why is there a fire pole leading down to Egon's creepy death basement? Because Memberberries.
    • Why does Afterlife end with a character covered in marshmallow goo? Because that was how the first movie ended, and because Memberberries.
    • Remember that scene in the first movie where Ray quotes the Book of Revelation? Yeah, I 'member!
    • Multiple scenes of characters literally watching the first movie on Youtube.
  • Jurassic World - Characters saying things like "That first park was legit!", referring to the park in the first movie.
  • The Matrix Resurrections includes both clips from the first 3 movies and re-creations of the first movie's most famous scenes. There's even a scene where the characters are watching the first movie, in a movie theater, while Morpheus talks about nostalgia. There's a later scene in which they're watching one of the earlier movies on a TV.
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens - practically the trope codifier due to being the butt of the jokes in the South Park episode that is the trope namer.
    • It matches the visual style of the old trilogy much more closely than the prequel trilogy did despite more time passing between the OT and Episode VII than between the OT and PT.
    • It features as many actors as possible from the OT reprising much older versions of their characters, but in supporting rather than leading roles.
    • It copies plot points and settings almost exactly from A New Hope, all the way down to Rey being an orphan living on a desert planet that looks exactly like Tatooine.
  • Terminator Genysis - Literally recreates scenes from the first Terminator movie. Oh, and why is the T-1000 in this movie wearing a cop uniform? Because the T-1000 in the second movie wore one.

Live-Action TV

  • Star Trek
    • Started suffering a mild case of Memberberries in the last season of Star Trek: Enterprise, which consisted mostly of prequels to and origin stories for stuff that was seen in other shows/movies
    • The Memberberries really kicked into high gear in Star Trek: Into Darkness, which was basically two hours of "remember The Wrath of Khan? Yeah, I 'member!"
    • Star Trek: Discovery started off trying to do its own thing, but then spent most of season 2 reminding audiences of Spock, the original Enterprise, Captain Pike, and Number One.
    • Star Trek: Picard is literally nothing but "remember The Next Generation? Yeah, I 'member!" with a tiny amount of 'membering Seven of Nine from Voyager.
    • Star Trek: Lower Decks would require its own subpage just to cover all the memberberries powering it.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

Professional Wrestling

  • The Montreal Screwjob, while infamous and shocking for its time, has become an example of this trope because so many scriptwriters for many wrestling promotions have attempted to recreate its shock value in many angles since, with the worse examples falling squarely into this trope.

Video Games

  • One of the biggest recurring criticisms of the sixth generation of Pokémon and beyond is them being far too reliant on Kanto-era nostalgia pandering.
    • Pokémon X and Y was particularly lousy with this, doing things such as making a Pidgey your mandatory first wild Pokémon encounter instead of one of the Kalos region's original Com Mons, Santalune Forest having the exact same layout and encounter table as Viridian Forest (with a few newer Pokémon thrown in to spice things up), and Professor Sycamore forcing you to pick one of the original three Kanto starters a little after you pick a Kalos starters. Guess which starters get Mega Evolutions? Not the Kalos starters, that's for sure. Most of the legendary Pokémon you encounter are also Kanto legendaries: you chase down one of the legendary birds in the postgame, and Mewtwo is living in a cave in Pokémon Village despite there being no logical reason for it to do so aside from nostalgia pandering. While far from the biggest complaint levied at the game, these references were viewed as awkwardly shoehorned-in and detracted from the Kalos region's unique atmosphere.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon ran afoul of Kanto-flavored Memberberries in a different way: the introduction of Alolan forms for older Pokémon. The concept was and still is celebrated for breathing fresh air into old Pokémon by giving them different typings, movepools, and even stat spreads to play around with. But once it became clear that the only Pokémon that would be getting Alolan forms were Kanto Pokémon, they caught a lot more flack for being indicative of Game Freak playing favorites and crippling a mechanic with a ton of potential. Not helping matters is the fact that they're accompanied by the introduction of Professor Oak's similar looking relative Samson Oak, and the protagonist being a Kanto native instead of anywhere else. Lillie traveling to Kanto so she can start her Pokémon journey also caught flack for similar reasons.
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield would take a few steps back from the Kanto pandering... mainly because Gen 8 dedicated an entirely different game to it by giving Red and Blue their second pair of remakes in the form of Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee which is basically the same games, but tailored to new players and Pokémon Go fans with a few references to Yellow here and there. But even with the Let's Go games doing the brunt of the Kanto pandering, Champion Leon in Sword and Shield having a Charizard as his star Pokémon instead of a powerful Galar Pokémon still caused a lot of players to roll their eyes.
  • This was quite intentional in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. True to Hideo Kojima's love of deconstruction and commentary on various issues, this game purposely Memberberries the previous game in every way possible both to make a commentary on the nature of sequels and as some argue, to subtly complain about having to make it. The Japanese version went even further by recasting many of the original Solid voice actors for those in similar roles just to hammer home this trope that much harder.
  • World of Warcraft: The game's fifth expansion pack, Warlords of Draenor, involved traveling back in time to before the first game. Players who were familiar with the lore of the first game were excited to meet characters like Orgrim Doomhammer, Kilgore Swordfist, and OrcRage McHugeSmash (or whatever the fuck their names were), while everyone else was just bored and confused. Also, it took place on the same continent as the game's first expansion (except earlier in time. Or in an alternate timeline. Or something).

Other Media

Real Life

  • One could argue that the Renaissance was "Remember Greek and Roman culture? Yeah, I 'member!" on a very large scale.
  • Politics in general has some of the more cynical politicians throughout history pandering to this trope in order to win over voters who believed earlier political eras were better than their current one. This was, in fact, a plot point of the South Park season that is the Trope Namer.