20 Fiction Tropes That Used to be Huge (But Are Rarely Used Anymore)

If you see these today at all, they're probably being mocked.
20 Fiction Tropes That Used to be Huge (But Are Rarely Used Anymore)

We’ve discussed tropes in movies and TV a lot here at Cracked (seriously, a lot). Moreover, we all know outdated tropes that no longer work because they either don’t make sense anymore or they’re just finally accepted as offensive. In this Pictofact we’re interested not in outdated but in forgotten tropes, the sort of clichés that fans of older movies and TV might easily recognize, but that are pretty much absent in recent and contemporary media.

And these are not merely old tropes either. The mustache-twirling villain, for example, will not be featured in this list, as he remains present in our cultural imaginary, even if only to point out how much of a dated trope it is. Forgotten tropes, on the other hand, are the truly interesting ones. They have fallen out of favor and out of mind, even if just a while ago they were everywhere in culture. We’ll remember them for you, then, and they’ll hit you in the head like, well, like an old cartoon anvil.


CRACKED.COM Lost Tropes Extreme '90s anti-heroes. How badly has this aged? Just ask Rob Liefeld, who has become a joke for his radical characters with bloated muscles, childishly designed weapons, and, erm, suits full of pouches. Pouches are rad!


Lost Tropes Funny suicide Suicide (by gun, train, etc.) was used as comedy in old cartoons. But suicide is serious business (unless you're Hitler in the bunker, in which case cue the Benny Hill music and fart sounds) CRACKED.COM


Lost Tropes Flashback stare Suddenly invaded by flashbacks of 'Nam or Cats, you just stare at nothing with dead eyes. Then it hits you: this trope is so outdated, it was mocked in Airplane! CRACKED.COM


CRACKED.COM Lost Tropes Everybody laughs at the end This trope has recently been put back into the spotlight by the immediate classic Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers. As the movie rightly puts it, the worse the joke, the longer the laugh.


Lost Tropes The third one is 3D Third parts in a franchise would have 3D as their gimmick, because third part, 3D, you get it. Who didn't get it, though? The makers of Saw 3D, which is the seventh movie in the franchise. Brilliant. CRACKED.COM

Ugly Women

CRACKED.COM CO RU Lost Tropes Easter European women are ugly. Yikes, this is an obscure one - and also, yikes, look at this outdated, mysoginistic Cold War trope. It's probably sprinkled with fat suits for comedic value.

Disgruntled Mailmen

CRACKED.COM Lost Tropes Going postal After a series of incidents during the '80s, '90s comedy was full of mailmen just losing it and shooting up people. You know, before shootings got a bit too real for laughs.


Lost Tropes Getting divorced in Reno In the early 20th century, only Nevada made it easy to get a divorce, so people would flock to Reno to part ways with their formerly beloved ones. meno THE BIGGEST LITTLE CITY IN THE WORLD JENCIAL FOLT PARKIN CRACKED.COM


Lost Tropes Sci-Fi food pills Like flying cars, jet packs, or a sustainable future, full meals in pills are a forgotten trope from older, more naive sci-fi. Just pop a couple and you're done! SUGAR ATOES CHICKEN PIE CRACKED.COM

Milk Cartons

CRACKED.COM Lost Tropes Lost kids on milk cartons. The mid-'80s campaign remained popular long after was gone, and has appeared in everything from The Lost Boys, Honey to I Shrunk the Kids, Rick and Morty, and of course, The Simpsons.


CRACKED.COM fordon's DELIVERY D DA IN Lost Tropes Cheating with the milkman As milkmen stopped being a thing, they were substituted by other unwitting sex symbols for lonely housewives-like pizza delivery guys in the '80s, pool boys in the '00s, and internet comedy writers in the, well, anytime now, you'll see.


CRACKED.COM Lost Tropes Japanese products suck After World War II, a common trope was Japanese products being of inferior quality. The country seems to live in the future now, but hey, this made sense back then.


CRACKED.COM Lost Tropes The French are cowards Perhaps for having been invaded by the Nazis, the French were usually depicted as surrendering cowards needing to be saved. But really, have you seen French action and horror movies? Oh, and then there is the anti-fascist Résistance as well.


GRAGKED.COM Lost Tropes Elvis lives! Is there a connection between the decline of Elvis conspiracies and the later lameification of conspiracy theories? Look, we're not saying there is, we're just asking questions.

Comedy Posters

GRACKED.COM Lost Tropes Comedy posters are red and white. The red-block-letters-on-white pattern became cringey very quickly (although we'd totally purchase an ironic 2001: A Space Odyssey in this format).


CRACKED.COM EMERGENCY EXIT ONLY ALARM WILL UND STAIR Lost Tropes New father's cigars Nothing says healthy environment like smoking around newborns! We haven't seen Knocked Up in ages, but if they didn't parody this trope but with joints, that's a total missed chance right there.

Broken Record

Lost Tropes Broken record You sound like a broken record flat out needs explaining these days. You sound like a broken record flat out needs explaining these days. You sound like a broken record flat out needs explaining these days. CRACKED.COM


CRACKED.COM Lost Tropes Anvil to the head You hear a whistling sound, see a shadow surrounding you, look up, and sure enough, an anvil is coming to you. You then pull out a sign that says, oh right, this trope.


CRACKED.COM Lost Tropes Alliterative names Names like Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, or Lois Lane were all the rage back in the day, but today's heroes don't really seem to follow this pattern. Well, except for Donnie Darko.

Free Pizza

CRACKED.COM 300 BANG 30 Minutes or Locel Lost Tropes 30 minutes or it's free The entire concept of pizzas being free if delivered late was already outdated when Jesse Eisenberg's 30 Minutes or Less came out. Also, now we crave pizza. Great.
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