11 Unacceptable TV Clichés That Were Common in the Not-So-Distant Past

Explore TV’s evolving landscape, uncovering once-accepted conventions now deemed unacceptable. Dive into a social media thread where users critique outdated TV clichés, reflecting changing sensibilities in today’s society.

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#1 Conflict Resolution

Angry young blonde woman sitting on couch and talking on phone. Surprised.
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“Misunderstandings that can now be cleared up by a text or cell phone call. Entire episodes used to be built around people not being able to find/communicate with each other and just having to figure stuff out.”

In the era of smartphones and text messages, the days of elaborate misunderstandings dominating TV plots are indeed over. Characters lost in a sea of confusion are now replaced by concise text exchanges. No more need for elaborate search missions, just a quick “Hey, are you at the coffee shop?” can do the trick.

#2 Airport Confessions

Group of young friends with luggage in airport terminal
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“Running through the airport to confess one’s love for the protagonist. Home Alone premises. These wouldn’t happen today with current security measures.”

While airport love chases may have once been considered romantic, today’s rigorous airport security measures would turn these heartwarming gestures into episodes of “Love in the Age of TSA Pat-Downs.” Modern-day lovebirds are more likely to video call their significant others while waiting for their flight.

#3 Panic Attack Handling

Pretty mature bride crying. Sad. Upset.
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“Not really TV trope but shaking or slapping people that were supposedly having a panic attack was almost a trope in westerns and noire movies.”

In an age of increasing awareness and sensitivity to mental health issues, the idea of hitting someone out of a panic attack is not just outdated but downright inappropriate. Modern TV understands that panic attacks are serious and require empathy, not violence.

#4 Amnesia Epidemic

Woman having headache
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“People walking around with amnesia. Every freaking show, someone hit their head and had amnesia and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Like, hello, brain injury?”

Ah, amnesia – the go-to plot device for many TV shows. Some users couldn’t help but roll their eyes at the countless characters who conveniently developed amnesia after a bump on the head. In reality, as they pointed out, brain injuries are no laughing matter, and it’s time for television to reflect this more accurately.

#5 The ‘Very Special Episode’

Pregnant woman holding a baby toy and shoes on blue studio.
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“‘Very special episodes’. Where characters meet life-altering situations – drug addictions, teen pregnancy, gun violence, and then are back to being carefree the next episode.”

In the past, “very special episodes” often felt like brief forays into serious issues before returning to business as usual. Many users rightly pointed out that these abrupt shifts felt unrealistic and inconsistent. Modern TV prefers more nuanced storytelling and character development.

#6 Stalking to Win Hearts

New Young man presenting bouquet of flowers to angry woman
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“Stalking a woman long enough and constantly will eventually make her fall for you.”

Stalking as a romantic pursuit was a trope that had its day in the sun, but thankfully, the sun has set on that notion. Users pointed out that this portrayal is not only unrealistic but also sends dangerous messages about personal boundaries and consent, something today’s TV takes seriously.

#7 Innocent Voyeurism

Beautiful african american girl taking shower
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“Spying on women as an innocent boy/teen rite of passage.”

In the past, such voyeuristic scenes were often played for comedic effect. But users on the thread emphasized that this type of behavior is neither innocent nor amusing, making it clear that modern TV should steer clear of such exploitative content.

#8 Dark Humor No More

Husband and wife arguing, pointing fingers at each other while looking at the camera. Couple. Fight.
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“Jokes about spousal ab***.”

Jokes about spousal ab*** were regrettably a part of some older sitcoms. Most users rightly found these jokes tasteless and out of touch with today’s standards, emphasizing the importance of reframing humor around more positive and respectful themes.

#9 Smoking in Inappropriate Places

Smoke on black background
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“’Mind if I smoke?’ in places where people would instantly object today, like cars, airplanes, spaceships, the baby’s nursery, etc.”

With the growing awareness of the dangers of secondhand smoke, some users were quick to point out the absurdity of characters lighting up in these settings. In today’s TV landscape, smoking in confined spaces is no longer considered acceptable or humorous.

#10 Men in ’70s Sitcoms

Crying woman wiping tears with paper napkins on blue background.
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“It’s crazy how common it was, in 70s sitcoms, for a girl to be saved from a guy when her friend/roommate dropped in early.”

User comments underscored how uncomfortable and inappropriate the depiction of predatory male characters was in ’70s sitcoms. Today’s TV acknowledges the importance of respecting boundaries and avoiding harmful stereotypes.

#11 The Stereotypical Flamboyant Gay Character

Portrait of a surprised gay male couple in sunglasses
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“The flamboyant gay character whose sexuality is either intended for the audience to laugh and make fun of or becomes a joke with other characters.”

It’s interesting to note that the flamboyant gay character, once intended for laughs and jokes, has lost its charm for modern audiences. Many users in the thread echoed the need for more respectful and inclusive portrayals of LGBTQ+ characters, promoting acceptance and understanding rather than stereotypes.

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