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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.[1]

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 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 Gratuitous Disco Sequence, which is actually about disco.

The following examples have their own pages.

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. Finally, music historians who have investigated why disco became so fiercely hated agree that much of the backlash was due not to overexposure but to homophobia and, to a lesser degree, sexism and racism (disco having succeeded, if only for a brief time, in uniting Americans across color and sexual lines). 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 One, 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 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 One 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.)



  • Photography, as well as 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, futuristic 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. 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.


  • 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.

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 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 Genre applies to radio. The new Capital Radio has made Galaxy's "hotter dance/HouseMusic format" almost a Dead Horse 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.


  • 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), and Pound Puppies. 
  • 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 alcohol 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.

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.
  • Channel Awesome. Between the rise of "pork and beans" content (ie. the rise of content that harkens back to Youtube's early days), vlogs and unscripted shows being the primary form of reviewing, and the popularity of Honest Trailers, Cinema Sins and How It Should Have Ended, Channel Awesome is just going through the motions, mostly trying to appeal to their much smaller niche fanbase. And of course, there's Change the Channel, but the previous factors means both sides of the conflict got hit with this trope.
  1. Ironically, disco itself would actually see a resurgence in the mid-to-late 2010s and early 2020s.