Blast From the Past: 12 TV Tropes That Would Never Fly Today

As the times change, so does television. What was once commonplace is unacceptable and even shocking today. Here is a look at several once-popular TV tropes that would never cut it today.

1. Clip Show Episodes

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Do you remember the once-popular clip show episode? It’s not that we never see them today, but they aren’t as prevalent. Someone suggests the reasoning behind that is: “Because most people stream, whereas before, they needed to catch the broadcast or miss the episode. Clip shows remind people of the funniest parts of shows they won’t see again until the rerun, which may never happen.”

2. Game Show Host Inappropriateness

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Do you remember Richard Dawson kissing all the women contestants on Family Feud? How about Bob Barker making women reach into his pocket to get a $100 bill out? That type of inappropriateness would not fly on today’s television screen.

3. Very Special Episodes

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There was a time when television series would have “Very special episodes” that dealt with real-life-altering issues like substance abuse, domestic violence, teen pregnancy, and eating disorders and then return to being carefree the following week. The idea that you can wrap those issues up in half an hour is ridiculous.

4. Spousal Abuse Jokes

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“One of these days, Alice, bang! Zoom! Straight to the moon!” Jackie Gleason on The Honeymooners would never make it on the air today. Do you remember when Dezi would spank Lucille Ball on the I Love Lucy show?

And don’t forget the episode where she intentionally gets a bad sunburn after spending more than $100 on a dress so that he would feel bad for her and not “let her have it!”

5. Offensive Asian Stereotypes

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I’m immediately reminded of Michael Scott’s (Steve Carell) character “Ping” in The Office. But it doesn’t stop there. In The A-Team, Hannibal disguises himself as a Chinese laundromat operator. That’s pretty offensive. 

During the ’80s and ’90s, Dana Carvey did a character on Saturday Night Live named Ching Chang, a grossly offensive Asian stereotype, complete with a bowl haircut, thick glasses, and over-the-top accent. 

6. Voyeurism Portrayed as Harmless Fun

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Was there a time when spying on girls in a locker or bedrooms was a standard teen boy’s right of passage? One of the most egregious examples is in the film Revenge of the Nerds. The “Panty Raid” as a wacky-hijinx prank was typical “boys will be boys” behavior that would not cut it today.  

7. Smoking

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There was a time when smoking was all over the big and little screens. Thank goodness that time has passed, but they still make alcohol look much cooler than it is. It started with everyone smoking. Then, only the bad guys, and now no one does.

8. The Comedic Town Drunk

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Do you remember when sitcoms had a comedic town drunk.? For example, Otis from The Andy Griffith Show. Another perfect example of this is Barney from The Simpsons.

9. Fat Jokes

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The ’90s sitcoms are notorious for fat jokes and suits; none of that would fly today. Monica from Friends is heavily criticized for wearing a fat suit. The show is called out for making fat jokes, too. If you want some culture shock, put on a couple of episodes of Home Improvement. Tim, the tool man Taylor, is notorious for making them.

10. Homophobia and Transphobia

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Homophobia and Transphobia aren’t tolerated today, although jokes about the lifestyles were once ubiquitous in comedies. Despite having gay characters, Friends and Roseanne made jokes that would be deemed inappropriate today. How I Met Your Mother is another example. Do you remember all the gay jokes Mr. Roper makes to Jack about being gay on Three’s Company?

11. Men Hating Their Wives

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A former running joke in sitcoms was that men hate their wives and constantly complain about her “nagging.” This guy only wants to hang with the boys doing stupid things, and no one wants to see that TV trope anymore.

12. Sex Pests

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I’m uncertain if it’s entirely gone, but there used to be the standard sitcom character who relentlessly hit on women in the most inappropriate ways. For example, Jack Tripper from Three’s Company, Fez from That ’70s Show, Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother, Howard Wolowitz from The Big Bang Theory, and Sam Malone from Cheers.

20 Songs With Obvious Mistakes That the Artists Decided to Leave In

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Did you know that some of the biggest songs in music history have mistakes that the bands decided to leave in? From accidental words to the phone ringing, here are several popular songs with accidents that made it into the final studio versions.

15 Movies From the 1980s That Suck So Bad You Probably Forgot They Existed

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The 1980s produced many cultural landmarks that shaped modern cinema. The decade was full of cinematic invention, from thrilling action films to iconic comedies and revolutionary sci-fi.

Among the treasures that have earned their way into the halls of fame, there is a collection of films so lackluster and dull that you may have forgotten they existed. This trip back in time will see 1980s movies so terrible you might have forgotten they existed.

22 Films Guaranteed to Make the Hair on the Back of Your Neck Stand Up

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It’s that time of year again. Fall decorations are coming out. Pumpkin spice is taking over, and scary movies are begging your attention. As a connoisseur of horror films, these are the ones that have stood out over the decades as having major creepy vibes and hair-raising experiences. Have you seen them?

10 Musicians and Bands From the ’70s That Still Deserve Your Attention Today

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The 1970s was an incredible decade for music. So, I know dozens of singers, songwriters, and bands deserve their spots on this list. But I was an MTV baby who didn’t discover this great music until later in life. So, I have selected the musicians and bands that I personally love today.

26 Underrated Films From the ’90s That Never Make Best Lists

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The 1990s are known for iconic blockbusters. Nonetheless, there are a ton of underrated films that are typically overlooked while revisiting the classics. Here are some of the most seriously underrated films of the 90s. Do you agree?

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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and Jesus.