We're Still Relevant, Dammit!

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Cquote1.svg

"At only a year and a half since the event being referenced, this [see right] is the most current pop-culture reference that Archie Comics have ever made, beating out the same issue's American Idol joke by a good five years."

Cquote2.svg

Suppose you've got yourself a Long Runner. And while your Long Runner hasn't really wavered in popularity, not significantly, you still want to connect with the youth of today. Perhaps you'd also like to comment on current pop-culture events as well.

Well, you'd better tread carefully or you might sound like you're just screaming, "We're Still Relevant, Dammit!"

The parent trope of both Totally Radical and Fad Super, this happens when a series that is gettin' old decides to make an attempt to stay current. Of-the-moment pop-culture references (that usually end up dated by the time the work of fiction makes its premiere) are certainly most common. The writers might also decide to radically change a character or create an "updated" Expy of an older character. A number of times a character has been made Darker and Edgier easily fit the bill. Another popular tactic is to make the character suddenly become a member of a newly emerged subculture, fandom, or similar group. The result, especially if the writer is not part of said subculture and Did Not Do the Research, is often laughably embarrassing instead of the bold new direction the producers were hoping for.

This often heralds the beginning of a Dork Age. Can very often result in an Unintentional Period Piece.

See also Popularity Polynomial, Mascot with Attitude, and more than a few Scrappies and cases of Misaimed Marketing.

Tropes Are Tools standing aside, this is usually a sign of bad writing.

Examples of We're Still Relevant, Dammit! include:

Advertising

  • Daniel Faraday would like to remind you that Subaru cars are "like punk rock". Do not question his logic!
    • This is just the most notorious and noxious example of the trend of "rebel advertising", which was especially rampant in the mid-90's but hasn't really gone away. The idea is to get young people, who have an innate distrust and distaste of rampant advertising, to be unique and special by buying a unique and special product... made by a big corporation. Seriously. And so, we got the "punk rock" Nissan, the "UnCola" 7-Up, "more badass than mayonnaise" Miracle Whip, Miller's supposed quaint Plank Road "microbrewery" encouraging you to "be your own dog" (still not sure what that means), and William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and Walt Whitman co-opted to sell Nikes, Gap pants, and Levis respectively. Strange times.
  • An ad for the Nissan Cube features icons such as "Add Friends" when someone other than the driver gets in the car, and "Join Group" when the car parks at an area with other people. The car itself is referred to as the "Cube Mobile Device".
  • Parodied in a Smokey the Bear Public Service Announcement. The PSA starts out being a Piss-Take Rap or something like that, but Smokey calls it off midway through because this sort of pandering to the younger demographic just isn't his style.

Comic Books

  • Dear old Jughead Jones of Archie Comics fame has often fallen victim to this trope. Archie Comics may be made fun of occasionally, but thanks to its cozy look at the bright side of being a teenager, most people tend to view it with warm nostalgic feelings. This makes these attempts to be "hip and happening" ever more bewildering. Everyone, from every generation, knows Jughead as Archie's goofy hamburger-eating BFF in that ridiculous hat. Well, over the years, he has also had mercifully brief careers as (get some coffee and a comfortable seat) a Beatnik, a Hippie, a Punk, a Disco King, a Breakdancer, a Time-Traveler a la Back to The Future, a Rapper, a Paranormal Investigator a la The X-Files, an Emo Teen, a Superhero, and so on. At this point Jughead's Genre Shifting has almost become a Running Gag. See this useful Onion AV Club article for more details.
    • Let's not forget that brief span ("She's Goth to Have It") where Betty decides to become a Goth. And not long after, Archie, Reggie, and Veronica follow suit.
    • They've finally gotten around to adding a gay character to the cast, about 10 years after anyone would've cared.
      • Although the fact that he's now getting married and joining the army arguably makes him relevant.
    • Then there were the "manga-style" Archie stories.
    • The Comics Curmudgeon openly suspected that Archie was so old and tired that it used a computer to come up with daily jokes, and even dubbed it the "Archie Joke-Generating Laugh Unit 3000" or AJGLU 3000. Archie struck back in this comic, putting Archie in a "No AJGLU 3000" shirt.
  • In the Sixties, Jimmy Olsen was this trope. He was, at various points, a hippie, a Beatle (in Ancient Rome, no less!), a wide variety of superheroes, and many other things, most of which fall under the What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs? / So Bad It's Good heading. Once again, it's become sort of a Running Gag, focused on at places like Super Dickery.
    • The example with the longest ramifications was when the Jimmy Olsen title was written by Jack Kirby, who used the craziness to introduce Darkseid and the Fourth World mythos to the wider DC Universe.
    • The last few decades have seen the whole Superman mythos tangled in this trope.
  • There's a Mickey Mouse 2007-020 comic story demonstrating this trope, published in 2008, in which Mickey attempts to join MySpace MyPlace and finds out somebody is already on there impersonating him. (Unfortunately, this story is not yet available in English.)
    • Disney has realized their playing safe with Mickey Mouse has been a bit of problem. Epic Mickey is part of an effort to make him relevant without falling into this trope.
  • Lampshaded for humour in a 1990s Catwoman comic, in which Catwoman comes up against Two-Face—who is toting as henchmen two ridiculously outdated (even for the time) Goth Mooks. When the fact that Goths aren't exactly hip anymore is raised, Catwoman snarks that 'time moves slower in Arkham'.
  • The Beano tried this in 2001 with a character called Robbie Rebel, essentially a more hip, contemporary version of Dennis the Menace. He was apparently based on Robbie Williams, and the strip also featured two scantily-clad girls called Kylie and Geri. Presumably this was to combat the dated appearance of the other characters (he wore jeans and a t-shirt instead of short trousers and a jersey), but he only lasted a few years.
  • Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors had a prolonged, rather random, and immature Take That towards George W. Bush... who had been out of office for a couple years by the comics publication.
  • Brazilian comic Monica's Gang engages in this every now and then, since it's been running for 50 years. Currently, they even have a "turn our characters into a memeface" contest on their Facebook page!


Film

  • In The Neverending Story III, the inhabitants of Fantasia undergo considerable change, including spouting contemporary pop-culture references. Bastian updates his hairdo because his sister calls it "un". As the review on Everything Is Terrible put it, "The sound you're hearing right now is your childhood throwing up."
  • The trailer for the upcoming Three Stooges movie is rife with this, complete with a modern setting, an iPhone, and even the cast of the Jersey Shore. Many people who hadn't heard anything about the film since Sean Penn was involved (which implied a more serious biography of the Stooges) were, to say the least, surprised.
  • The Smurfs movie is infamous for trying every cheap tactic in the book to try to get the franchise "Down with the kids".


Live Action TV

  • Bob Hope constantly attempted this in the 70's and on. As Frasier told Niles, "Don't use slang. You sound like Bob Hope when he acts like The Fonz."
  • Enterprise's attempts to prove that the franchise was still relevant at the turn of the millennium by allegorizing on the subject of The War on Terror could be painful at times.
  • Doctor Who sums this trope up with the character of Ace; a clear attempt to be relevant and "with it" for the youth of the day, her "wicked" fashion style and "ace" dialogue was frequently considered either laughable or cringeworthy at the time, never mind later on. The writer reportedly tried for accuracy, hanging out with real kids to get a sense of who they were and how they acted, but Executive Meddling resulted in actual teenage slang and speaking patterns being tossed out. However, she is redeemed by being one of the wildest Action Girl companions the Doctor ever had, including her Crowning Moment of Awesome when she smashed up a Dalek with a baseball bat, a feat of kick-assery by which all subsequent Doc companions are measured.
    • While not as Egregious as some other examples, the new Doctor Who series can suffer from this, too - numerous celebrity cameos and pop-culture references are scattered across multiple episodes but can leave them feeling very dated in a short space of time.
  • The final season of The Brady Bunch was like this at times. In the wake of the runaway success of All in The Family, The Brady Bunch had an episode that didn't involve the Bradys at all, in which a white family adopted a black and an Asian kid. (A bigoted neighbor in the episode is expressly compared to Archie Bunker.)
  • In an episode of Power Rangers Dino Thunder Ethan and Devin are playing a painfully bad Expy of Yu-Gi-Oh!, it screams of this trope.

Music

  • Plenty of Progressive Rock supergroups of The Seventies, faced with negative press over their "irrelevance" in the age of punk rock/new wave, sported Eighties Hair, streamlined their images and musical styles, made hip music videos, and added high-tech synths to their sound in an attempt to keep up with the times. Some failed (Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Kansas, The Who), and some succeeded (Yes, Genesis, Rush, King Crimson, Pink Floyd). This, however, led earlier fans to revolt against the new sounds and styles.
    • For the same reason, Kiss ditched their trademark facepaint and costumes in the '80s for a generic glam look. While they do have a few hits from that era, it's generally considered the band's Dork Age. They've since gone back to their classic style with the album Sonic Boom.
    • Witness, also, Cheap Trick's attempts, at least since their late '70s heyday ended, to update their look, sound and style to fit the times. Heavy synths in the mid-'80s (which gave them their only #1 hit, "The Flame", which their fanbase detests), a more AOR/pop-metal sound by 1988-93, then more grunge- and alternative-influenced work in The Nineties, while groups with a clear lineage to their early work gained success. They've been making inroads into their more influential, early, power-pop sound more recently.
    • Rush didn't change to be relevant. Rush has always been slowly evolving their albums across thirty years. If you just get their newest album though and didn't know this you could be forgiven of accusing them of jumping up their act.
  • Christian Rock band Petra continuously changed their image and sound during The Eighties based on what was popular, with varying results. Their most successful case was an entirely accidental one—the untimely departure of lead singer Greg Volz (who sounds a lot like Steve Walsh from Kansas) in the mid-'80s forced them to bring in John Schlitt (who sounds like every Hair Metal lead singer ever), which led to the peak of their career and their most famous material. The Nineties, on the other hand, were their Dork Age, as they attempted to find footing in the age of Grunge and alt-rock while still retaining Schlitt on lead and trying to garner airplay on contemporary Christian radio. Eventually, they released one last classic-rock album to appease the long-time fans and then folded.
  • Metallica preemptively pulled this trope between the albums Load and St. Anger; during that time period, they tried to adapt to the rising Alternative Metal trends by changing their sound, hair and logo. After the... erm... "not so well-received" album St. Anger, they finally returned to their trademark thrash sound that we all know and love on Death Magnetic.
  • Herbie Hancock spent most of the seventies and eighties jumping from genre to genre. He tried fusion, disco, funk and electronica, sometimes combining several of these.
  • In 1981, Village People, those 1970s disco icons, tried to adapt to a new decade by discarding their macho gay look and adopting a New Romantic one. The result was less than convincing [dead link].
  • Arguably, Elton John has stayed (or tried to stay) contemporary for many decades, with mixed results. He dabbled with Philadelphia soul with "Philadelphia Freedom", disco on Victim Of Love, new wave and synth-pop on parts of The Fox and Jump Up!, experimented heavily with contemporary synthesizers and drum machines in The Eighties and The Nineties (especially 1985-1993), planned to record a Hip Hop album with Eminem's producers before Proof's death, and returned to basics with Songs From The West Coast after hearing the Alternative Country of Ryan Adams in 2001. Part of the trend may have been aggravated by Elton's Signature Style of singer-songwriter Piano Pop, which was rarely fashionable in rock in the first place.
  • Korn's announcement that their album The Path of Totality would consist of a blend of their traditional sound and brostep rather smacked of this trope.
  • U2's announcement that their next album(s) would be variously produced by Danger Mouse, will.i.am, and David Guetta sounds suspiciously like this trope.
  • REM spent most of their career trying to avert being part of any trend, but they still managed to have rappers on both 1991's "Radio Song" and 2004's "The Outsiders". On both occasions it does work with the music, but it was Out of Character for them. Radio Song has dated because the rap style is in the 80s rap style. The Outsiders is more jazz rap so it hasn't.

Newspaper Comics

  • Similar to the above Jughead image are the occasional attempts at current events humor in The Family Circus. The general concessions to changing times—the toys the kids are seen playing with or the shows they watch—are subtle and actually topical. But these days any attempts at mining humor from that result in odd, unfunny jokes such as Billy saying that Daddy's cartoons would look better in HD. Then there was Dolly dressing up as Sarah Palin for Halloween 2008, which wasn't even presented as a joke; she just was.
    • Seanbaby points out the awkwardness of this in an article about the comic. One strip has a computer monitor displaying static (i.e. "snow") in order for the kids to deliver the punchline "winter-net". Yeah, quick question, how many times has your monitor displayed TV-style "snow"?
      • Heck, when was the last time your TV displayed TV-style snow?
  • Blondie has also taken to this in recent years. The jokes have generally been about how out-of-touch Dagwood is with modern society, but the "modern society" the reader is often shown still feels like it's trapped in a time warp. Most references to modern technology come from Elmo, a small child who somehow affords every "hip" new product despite being a small child.
    • In 1991, Blondie put on pants and started a catering business with her friend Tootsie. In 2000, Blondie yelled "Dagwood Bumstead Dot Com!" to wake her husband. Dagwood responded, "Omigosh, that means BUSINESS!" Dagwood uses a flatscreen computer monitor at work, Cookie and Alexander use cell phones and crack jokes about Facebook. But Dagwood is still late to work—although now he races out the door to his car pool rather than a city bus—and Mr. Dithers still kicks him in the ass.
  • Peanuts occasionally delved into this, usually through having Snoopy picking up on then-current fads. This arguably reached its apex (or nadir) with the '80s TV special It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown.
    • In one of the last comics published before the strip ended in 2000, Sally attempted to invite Harry Potter over to her house for dinner. What an interesting Crossover that could have been.
    • Tropes Are Not Bad. Peppermint Patty owes her entire existence to this trope. At the height of the in the late '60s feminist movement, Schulz decided he needed a female character who wasn't stereotypically feminine. Apparently, it was a somewhat big deal at the time that she (gasp!) wore shorts and sandals.
  • The Comics Curmudgeon gets a lot of humor out of this topic.
    • This Barney Google and Snuffy Smith strip, which notes that television show references are out of place in the time warp the hillbillies live in anyway.
    • Momma has a writer that may have never seen a computer in his life.
  • Dick Tracy fell into this in the '60s and '70s as original writer Chester Gould tried desperately to keep the strip relevant with the changing times. This led to him giving the strip a sci-fi swerve, where Tracy met the moon people and the police force gained moon technology - his son even married one of the moon people, "Moon Maid". This led to problems when the Apollo Moon Landings showed the moon barren of all life, forcing him to eventually drop many of these elements. In the 70s, he tried to update Tracy's distinct look with long hair and a mustache, along with a hippie sidekick named "Groovy Grove". The mustache went over so poorly he later drew a strip in which several characters pinned Tracy down and shaved it off. Gould's successor, Max Allan Collins, had both Moon Maid and Groovy Grove killed off as soon as he inherited the strip. The strip's current author seems to be far too displaced from reality to make references like this.
  • Li'l Abner introduced student radicals called SWINE (Students Wildly Indignant at Nearly Everything) during The Sixties.
    • This was actually a combination of this trope and Author Tract, as the conservative Al Capp felt the increasing need to vent his disgust with the political/cultural developments of the era.
  • Wizard Of Id, circa late January 2012, have just made a 300 reference, only about five years after the movie was released.[2]


Professional Wrestling

  • WWE commentators constantly mentioning Twitter or current pop culture comes across this way a lot of times.
  • It's something of a Running Gag among wrestling fans that WWE is roughly 3–5 years behind pop culture. In fact, this was the main cause behind the dropping of Paul Burchill's pirate gimmick; at the time, Pirates of the Caribbean was too current for Vince McMahon to understand, and he didn't understand why a pirate should be a Face.
    • Earlier than that, Vince discontinued The Blonde Bytch project because he, personally, had never heard of The Blair Witch Project at the very height of its popularity.
    • It's only gotten worse. Witness Vince bringing in ZZ Top, who haven't been on the charts since the late 80s, to be the guest General Managers of Raw.
    • In general, ideas that relate to current pop culture that get smothered are because if Vince McMahon hasn't heard of it, surely you haven't either.
    • A particularly glaring example came when Vince was doing commentary for a match featuring Avatar, who was Al Snow under a mask. The commentary crew was speculating as to the identity of the new wrestler, when Vince pipes up with, "Maybe it's Bart!" Cue blank looks from the other commentators, at which point Vince clarifies with, "You know, from The Simpsons ? " The Simpsons at this point had been on the air for 5–6 years.
  • Without question, this is how TNA came off when they brought in "Robbie E" and "Cookie" with a Jersey Shore gimmick. And then they actually brought in J-Woww to feud with Cookie. For 15 minutes.
  • WWE has always been doing this. They had a wrestler dressed as Batman (imaginatively known as "Battman") in the mid-1960s, when the TV show was a huge hit. During the mid-1990s they had Rad Radford, who dressed like a grunge-rock musician. Arguably, even some of WWE's most popular and enduring gimmicks started out this way: Edge, for example, in his original "Brood" incarnation with his Badass Longcoat and Cool Shades and vampire fangs, was strikingly reminiscent of the title character of Blade, which had just hit theaters at the time.
  • Professional Wrestling is arguably at its best as satire when this trope is deliberately invoked for comedy purposes. Exhibit "A": the tag team "Cryme Tyme," who became darlings of the fans despite trafficking in "Yo-yo-yo!"/"in the 'hood" stereotypes that had already been cliched for over a decade.
    • Ditto with "Disco Inferno" (in the late '90s).
      • WCW would, unfortunately, go back to that well again with "That '70s Guy" Mike Awesome after That '70s Show became a hit. It didn't come off nearly as funny or clever the second time around.

Puppet Shows

Cquote1.svg

Featuring funky, cool new designs of Jim Henson's Muppets by Darin McGowan

Cquote2.svg
  • In the same vein, The Muppets does this trope, but decides to bring back what made them entertaining in The Muppet Show and the subsequent movies pre-From Space. It was a success.


Radio

  • The Goon Show: On the fiftieth anniversary of the show in 2001, two third-season scripts were combined and recorded with a new cast as "Goon Again". The jokes and ambiance are a good match for the original show, which makes it all the more jarring when Bluebottle makes a .com reference.

Toys

  • Pretty much the premise of a toyline like Barbie. Every new fashion trend for the past fifty years has resulted in new versions of the doll.
    • She's also had no problems entering the computer age, as seen here.
    • Parodied on The Simpsons with "Achy-Breaky Stacy" and "Live At The Improv Stacy" relegated to the bargain bin a few years after those things ceased to be trendy.
  • G.I. Joe too. The '70s "adventure team" version of the franchise existed because war didn't seem so cool anymore after Vietnam.
  • The concepts of Transformers toys didn't change all that much, but their depictions in media sure as hell did. Generation 2 comics were aggressively Dark Age, and just check out this commercial. They were all like that.
  • In a very similar case to the G2 Transformers commercial, for the 2006 Piraka set line, Bionicle also attempted to promote their sets with a shoddy rap song, as well as forcing the characters into a "gangsta'" setting, complete with the villains lounging around in their fortress which is surrounded with chain fences, sitting on sofas, chewing bubblegum, and doing various other activities that not only had nothing to do with the official story, but clashed something fierce with the image the franchise had built up in the previous years. This was not the first example, though: beginning from '05, just about all of the commercials had various rock songs attached to them, replacing the tribal music. They even crept into the movies, too. But these stood out way less.
    • Story-wise, again in a similar fashion to the Transformers example cited above, the plots took a turn to the exceedingly dark and violent side, which was to the delight of many fans, but it still gave off the stench of a "Look, older fans, there is gore now, don't leave!" mentality. Especially since at first, these were confined to side-stories that weren't meant to bring in newer fans.

Video Games

  • Disney's Epic Mickey plays with this trope. While it is an attempt by Disney to make Mickey Mouse relevant again, the people really screaming "We're still relevant, dammit!" are the characters in the game. The people living in Wasteland have been abandoned and forgotten by those who created them, and some of them want to use Mickey as a means to leave Wasteland and be loved again.
    • Also an inversion in that their efforts to make Mickey as a character relevant again was by restoring him to how the character was originally portrayed in the early 30's.

Web Original

  • Homestar Runner satirized this kind of thing in the Strongbad Email looking old, where Strongbad makes an effort to "reconnect with the youth of today":
Cquote1.svg

Strong Bad: Now what I need is an image overhaul. Something to reconnect me with the youth of today. Something that says - "Sup my young parsons, I too am so on the go that I drink my yogurt from a tube".

Cquote2.svg
Cquote1.svg

"Revamped for the nineties!
So much more exciting!
"Pointy elbows and lots of lightning!
Edgy and angry, so zesty and tangy!"

Cquote2.svg
  • Brutally satirized in TLG Media's "A New Bunny" (very, very NSFW language). It mocks Loonatics Unleashed, mentioned below, as one of the Ur-examples of blatantly trying to make "updated" versions of older characters so that today's kids will like them more. This exchange pretty much exemplifies this trope:
Cquote1.svg

Kid: "But I don't like you!"
Buzzed Bunny: "Hell YES you do!!!"

Cquote2.svg
    • Their followup Another New Bunny is about the damage-control Warner tried to do when people rebelled against the plans for Loonatics. That is, to try and update the characters, while keeping them the same at the same time.
  • Myspace and its latest Retool into a "Social Entertainment" website, after being driven into being Deader Than Disco by Facebook. Now everyone gets friend requests from fake celebrity pages, oh joy! They also let Jack Black "take over" the site in a publicity stunt.

Western Animation

  • Disney was pretty bad at this in The Eighties—chiefly, it tried to keep its core characters timely by releasing albums of original songs for said characters after the surprisingly successful Mickey Mouse Disco in 1979. Follow-ups included Mousercise, Splashdance (though the Flashdance connection was only in the title), and Totally Minnie. The last was actually accompanied by a very odd television special where Minnie, dressed like the young Madonna and accompanied by Elton John in what may be the most embarrassing costume he ever wore, taught people to "be hip". Also, Donald Duck became a skateboarder. And then, after a dry spell, there was the infamous Mickey Unrapped album in The Nineties...
    • The cartoons on the 90s Disney Afternoon block on ABC had the premise of taking old classic characters and updating them in new settings with new clothes and, occasionally, new personalities... usually to reflect what was "in" at the time. Huey, Dewey and Louie got theirs in Quack Pack, for example, where they aged into hip teenagers. Donald ditched his iconic sailor suit in favor of a Hawaiian shirt, and Daisy Duck became a sassy, assertive woman.
      • Of course, Donald Duck (especially in the comics) is often the go-to character for this trope. With all the fads he's joined, all the different jobs he's had, and all the many, many things he's been an "expert" on in various stories, Donald is the one classic Disney character who can pull off Totally Radical and remain perfectly in character at all times. Hawaiian-shirted cameraman for a popular TV show? Sure, why not? You know that next month he'll try to be an astronaut or get hooked on sushi or whatever.
    • Goof Troop is a pretty obvious example. They updated Goofy and Pete into modern neighbors with pre-teen sons. It was apparently successful enough to spin off into a movie or two. While Goofy's update hasn't entirely stuck, his new son, Max Goof, keeps popping up in shows and theme parks.
  • By far, the most embarrassing attempt to make an older character "cool" to young people was the all-but-forgotten series Yo Yogi!. Yes, it had a teenaged Yogi Bear dressed in neon pink and green, solving mysteries, and hanging out in Jellystone Mall. Magilla Gorilla was transformed into a rapping snowboarder named Magilla Ice, Dick Dastardly was teenage troublemaker "Dicky D," and certain scenes were designed to be viewed with 3-D glasses, which looked awkward to say the least. Surprisingly, this is the last television series to star Yogi Bear. Yo, Yogi failed so badly that NBC decided to eighty-six their entire animated lineup in order to create an all-teen block in order to take advantage of Saved by the Bell's success and expand the Today show to Saturdays.
    • An earlier Hanna-Barbera example would be The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show, which likewise depicted the youngsters from The Flintstones as '70s-style teenagers.
      • At least Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm got to grow older.
  • The aforementioned Loonatics Unleashed attempts a Darker and Edgier version of the 1930s-1960s Looney Tunes shorts and got a considerable amount of Hatedom and Internet Backdraft as a result.
  • Some people believe The Simpsons is relying on this trope too much, thanks to being on the air for 20+ years. While the show never shied away from pop-culture references in its heyday, it's increasingly apparent that the writers are taking a page from South Park and Family Guy in trying to be relevant through using current trends and events. The long episode production time and the fact that they've done every sitcom plot they could—including ones that have been done on other shows and recycling the ones they've done before is also a contributing factor.
    • It often lampshades this by having the Simpson family be the last people in town to get in on a new trend, like when Homer bought his first computer (in 1999) and didn't know the first thing about them. "Oh, they have the Internet on computers now!", when Bart is complaining about being the only kid in his class (in 2009) who doesn't have a cell phone, and Marge in "Marge Gamer" (a 2007 episode) being shunned by her friends for not having an email address.
    • The opening to the episode "To Surveil With Love," in which the entire Springfield populace lip syncs to Ke$ha's "TiK ToK"—while pretty funny—was an obvious attempt at pandering to a younger demographic.
    • "MyPods and Boomsticks" was filled to the brim with jabs at Apple and Steve Jobs (MAPPLE and Steve Mobs in the show) and it was obvious the writers weren't very familiar with them -- or were too lazy to come up with something better.
    • "The D'oh-cial Network" was worse than "MyPods and Boomsticks" in its portrayal of Apple. It had loads of references to Facebook (the episode was even a parody of the movie The Social Network, which would have been fine—had the episode actually aired around the time that that movie was popular), Twitter, Apple products, and stores that had recently gone out of business as of 2011. It also ended with an Anvilicious Aesop about not depending on technology.
    • Another episode Lampshaded this with Itchy and Scratchy doing a Black Swan parody and Bart and Lisa commenting on how it was current at the time it was written.
    • "Lisa Goes Gaga" (the episode focusing on Lady Gaga's guest appearance) absolutely reeked of this trope.
  • South Park averts this trope due to the speed at which episodes can be made, including remaking planned episodes on the fly. For example, the quintuplets episode got changed from just about creepy quints to being about Elian Gonzales, just after the raid and his return to Cuba.
    • The episode About Last Night was about the winner of the presidential election broadcast the night after the election.
      • And featuring verbatim lines from Obama's victory speech, to boot. The sequence was animated ahead of time but the voice acting was done only a couple of hours before airtime. Some of this was also luck - they'd originally wanted to have an alternate episode ready if McCain won, but decided for the sake of sanity to assume Obama would win - and guessed that if he lost, nobody would notice an episode of South Park in the ensuing frenzy.
    • Then there was the episode where Canada goes on strike (referencing the 2007–2008 WGA strike) and the boys attempting to make money off of Memetic Mutation (cue references to Chocolate Rain, Numa Numa, Dramatic Chipmunk, etc.) so they could please the Canadians.
    • As you can probably guess, South Park can be (and has become) so incredibly topical that it possibly inverts this trope. If you watch any episode weeks after it was made, the references will make about as much sense as having Judge Ito recount ballots with hanging chads.
    • Just for reference, A South Park episode can be finished in three days. This includes writing, animating, and voicing it.
    • The usual prominence of this trope made the timing of the Facebook-based episode, "You Have 0 Friends", especially odd, appearing several years after the site became a journalistic favorite and at least 4 years since Facebook first allowed members who didn't belong to a school/college. That and the overall tone of the episode made The AV Club's reviewer remark that the premise was akin to "a 44-year-old suburban dad who just doesn't understand what his kids are up to but knows he doesn't like it".
      • In the DVD commentary Trey explains that they made the episode because he had been resisting the facebook fad for years and finally made an account but felt like he's getting "sucked in", so the episode was based on his experiences with it.
    • The season 15 episode called "You're Getting Old" (which is self explanatory) ironically contained more up-to-date pop culture references than usual for the show, such as the boys seeing X-Men: First Class in theaters and playing L.A. Noire. The episode "1%" also had a brief mention of the game Batman: Arkham City, released less than a month earlier. These appearances don't seem to serve any purpose other than to say "See? We're still paying attention!".
    • It might also be defensive in their case as they were burned by not paying attention when they spoofed Inception without seeing the film and based their jokes on another Parody, and so were accused of stealing and/or being lazy. They admitted to accidentally stealing because they were lazy, but in a hurry to make the quick production turnaround.
  • Of late, there has been some nostalgia (mostly of the So Bad It's Good kind) for Super Mario Bros Super Show. More specifically, people remember the cartoon hosted by wrestler Captain Lou, who starred as Mario in live-action framing segments. Almost nobody fondly remembers the "Club Mario" incarnation of the same series. The Captain Lou segments were deemed no longer cool and were swapped out for...this.
  • Beavis and Butthead's relaunch is a debatable case of this -- on the one hand, referencing things like Twilight and Super Size Me in 2011 does come off as the writers being late to the party, but it's generally done to provide interesting jumping off points for the duo's misadventures. "Werewolves of Highland" is about the concept of Vampires Are Sex Gods, and the duo trying to take advantage of that to get chicks. "Supersize Me" has them following in Morgan Spurlock's footsteps (gorging on fast food and filming themselves doing so) in hopes of becoming similarly famous and (again) getting chicks. The commentary segments with music videos and MTV reality shows are strictly up-to-date humor.
  • King of the Hill: The Myspace-centric episode when Strickland Propane starts networking with MySpace to bring in customers. In 2008.
    • The useage of the insane laughing fantasy that gets played waaay into the late 2000s twice when the last time it was used was the nineties.
  • This was the Fatal Flaw of My Little Pony Tales, in which the ponies played electric guitars and had "hip", but still Tastes Like Diabetes songs.
  • The use of Internet slang and memes in the 2016 reboot of The Powerpuff Girls, such as "I Cant's Even", "YAASS!" and "No Me Gusta!" (from Bubbles, with her face turning into the "NO." meme, itself turned into a meme) were criticized as forced humor made as an attempt to appeal to the Internet base.
  1. Should the link disappear: the First Doctor, Vicki, Barbara and Ian are watching The Beatles, which Vicki considers classical music.
  2. Yes, you've been hearing jokes about this being SPARTAAAAA for that long.