The 1980s was a time of big hair, big personalities, and iconic pop culture. When most people think of the era today, these are usually some of the things that come to mind, and while all of that is certainly true, there are also some misconceptions about the 1980s. Even if you didn't live through them, there's just something nostalgic about looking back at this exciting time in history. Scroll through these funny 80s memes and think - how many of them look all too familiar?
Not Everything Was As Glamorous
Ah, we can smell the cigarette smoke just by looking at the photo on the right. We have to admit that when you watch a movie set in the 1980s, it often depicts teenagers' rooms filled with bright colors and all kinds of cool posters on the wall. However, that wasn't the reality for a majority of homes. Most people's houses looked similar to the photo on the right, with dull beige and wood accents being the norm.
Of course, we're sure some teens had rooms similar to the one on the left. However, we're sure most people who grew up in the 1980s could relate better to the photo on the right.
Times Truly Were Different
This one needs a lot of context, but there's really nothing like it today. Before the internet, there was a channel that ran scrambled images like this. Basically, it was sort of like scrambled soft porn that ran really late at night. It's kind of wild that this was a thing on TV at all, but you have to remember that this was long before the internet pretty much made this obsolete.
So, if you ever show someone who grew up during the 1980s this photo and they seem as if they recognize it, you can probably safely assume what they were up to late at night.
Your Grandma In The 1970s And 1980s
Most people are pretty familiar with the general style in the 1970s. However, for some reason, we don't realize that the style from the 1970s largely carried over into the next decade and went through updates as the decade went on. Our point is that your grandmother was probably rocking something like the girls in the photo when she was growing up. However hard that might be to believe these days.
The next time you talk to your grandmother or mom, ask them to show you a picture of themselves from when they were growing up and you'll probably be surprised.
Newer Generations Will Never Know What A Lanai Is
You might not know what a lanai is, but you've likely seen one in real life before. During a particularly memorable episode of The Golden Girls, Blanche starts telling the other girls about the time she had the lanai enclosed. Over the course of the show, it gets clearer and clearer that a lanai is similar to a pergola. Because of this single episode, nearly an entire generation gained a new vocabulary word.
It also goes to show just how popular Golden Girls was at the time. The show is still beloved by generations of fans today, as well as by the generation that came after.
The 1980s Didn't Need CGI, It Had Lou Ferrigno
Thanks to Marvel's cinematic universe, a generation of new fans gets to watch a CGI'd Hulk rage out on the big screen. However, before the recent Marvel movies, Lou Ferrigno played the Hulk to great effect. Not only did Ferrigno once claim the title of the World's Strongest Man, but it also turned out that he was a great actor. Many who remember his performance as the Hulk or watched it after the 1980s say he was the best to ever play the role.
What makes his performance even more amazing is that he did it all without the help of modern CGI, and we may never see another performance like his.
How You Used To Cut Off Friends
It takes a bit more work to cut toxic friends from your life these days. Everyone's connected through social media, and it doesn't take much effort for people to get in touch with you. However, when the phone was the only real means of communication it was much easier to just ghost people. If you had any group pictures, then you could just literally cut them out of the photo.
Now, that probably would've been the extreme reaction, but we're sure it was definitely more common than it is in this day and age, considering most photos are stored on phones.
What Will Future Archeologists Think?
Mosaics have been around for a very long time, but their popularity surged once more in the 1980s. However, this time the themes used to cover the floors of people's homes were much less serious. There were a number of video game-inspired mosaic patterns like the one of the space invaders in this photo. While there are probably a lot of opinions on whether this looks good or not, we're big fans.
We're just curious if anyone still has any of these in their home today. Depending on what type of home you live in, it might not look too bad.
The Best Things In Life Were Simple
With social media, it can sometimes feel like everyone is trying to outdo each other at every turn, especially when it comes to things that used to be as simple as a kid's birthday party. Some parents spend tons of money on their kid's birthday party these days. However, in the 1980s, the four treats in this photo were all you needed. Bulk hot dogs and cake laced with a bag of sugar may not have been healthy, but it sure was tasty.
These things were also incredibly cheap to buy. Throw in a couple of balloons and some paper plates, and you've got yourself a 1980s birthday party that was one to remember.
Everything Came In A Can
We almost forgot that there was a time when you could buy juice in a can. If you grew up in the 1980s or early 1990s, you probably had one of these in your fridge. You could buy it, put it in the freezer, and simply break it out when you wanted some orange juice. Just thaw it out and you were good to go. We admit, it doesn't look very appealing.
However, it didn't really taste all that different from some of the other juices you can buy today. It had the same amount of added sugar and everything else they put into juice.
Parents Just Threw Together Whatever In The 1980s
There's something weirdly nostalgic about this photo. This was the typical summer lunch for kids back in the 1980s. It's just a sandwich, but it could be a sandwich using bologna or whatever other processed meats were on hand, with some American cheese and chips on top if you were lucky. Today, parents are much more conscious about what their kids eat, which is good, don't get us wrong.
However, there's just something special about the simplicity of a meal (if you can call it that) like this. If you really wanted to make it gourmet, then you'd fry the bologna.
This Man Inspired Generations
When you think of sci-fi back in the day, Star Wars immediately comes to mind. However, there were a ton of sci-fi gems that were released in the 1980s that are mostly forgotten about today. Spaceballs, a spoof on Star Wars, introduced the world to Lone Starr. It also showed people that sci-fi doesn't always have to be super serious. The character went on to inspire Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy.
Today, characters like Lone Starr are common, and we all have this film to thank for it, or at the very least, to thank for Guardians of the Galaxy.
School Lunches Were Just Built Different
This photo probably brings back a lot of memories for a lot of folks who grew up in 1980s, but also in the next decade and a half. This is what school lunches used to look like, at least on one of the better days, when pizza was on the menu. We've seen a lot of comments online talking about the nutritional value, but we honestly don't think it's that bad.
You have your fruits and your vegetables here but granted, that pizza used to be really greasy. It was also objectively bad, but by the time you sat down for lunch, it was one of the best things in the world.
If The 1980s Was A Candy
Every generation has that one candy that they remember loving growing up but that isn't sold anymore. If you grew up during the 1980s, then this was that candy. Most records of its existence seem to have mysteriously vanished, but it was ubiquitous during the 1980s. Now that we think about it, lollipops, in general, show up a lot in movies that are set during this decade for some reason.
Sadly, you can't get them anymore, at least we couldn't find them by searching on the internet. But these tasty treats were something else back in the day.
Tim Burton's First Huge Success
There are probably a lot of people out there who recognize this scene from the movie Beetlejuice. The film was one of the standout movies of the decade and it was also director Tim Burton's first really big success. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the film was praised for its visuals, dark humor, and special effects. It turned the traditional ghost movie around by following the after-life of a couple who died in a car accident.
A family eventually moves into their home, and they're forced to try and dislodge them by calling in a "bio-exorcist." The film still holds up pretty well today and it's pretty good.
The Golden Days Of TV Workouts
The 1980s sometimes get a bad rap for all of the unhealthy habits associated with it. But it was also the age of TV and VHS workout tapes. Jane Fonda started it, but there were a number of others who came after her and are still instantly recognizable to anyone who grew up in the 1980s. These tapes might seem a but cringy these days, but they were the fitness influencers of their time.
Watch any movie set in the 1980s today, and you'll likely see a scene where someone is exercising to a VHS tape. We can still hear the enthusiastic voices blaring out from the TV.
It Was A Party When You Broke Out The Vienneta
Most people aren't family with Vienneta these days, but back in the 1980s it was all the rage. It was basically an ice cream dessert with layers of vanilla and chocolate. For whatever reason, it took the world by storm back in the 1980s and those who grew up during the era have fond memories of it. This delectable dessert is no longer as popular, but it's still sold.
If you were young growing up in the 1980s, then the moment the Vienetta came out hit your plate was the moment you were waiting for at every party.
The Epitome Of Cool
Okay, so maybe these two guys don't look like the usual cool kids you think of when you think of the 1980s, but take a look at their shirts. In the 1980s, MTV was as edgy as it got. The network debuted in this era, and it was really something else. Before MTV, there really wasn't a station that highlighted artists. But it makes sense that MTV would start during the golden age of hard rock.
So, if you were wearing a printed T-shirt that said MTV on it, then you were cool. Sadly, MTV isn't really as relevant as it used to be anymore.
Blame The 1980s For Ripped Jean
If you're one of those people who can't stand ripped jeans, then you can blame the 1980s for the trend. People started wearing ripped jeans due to the influence of rock and punk music. However, these weren't ripped jeans that came like that from the store. These were ripped jeans that you either ripped yourself intentionally or that had become ripped due to whatever it was you put your jeans through.
It didn't take long for big companies and designer brands to catch on and commercialize ripped jeans, which ironically were inspired by punk rockers and anti-consumerism. Ripped jeans aren't quite as popular today, but they have kind of just hung around throughout the years.
The Crossover Nobody Needed
The 1980s truly were different days. If you need any further proof, just take a look at this marketing crossover from the time. Both McDonalds and Marlboro teamed up to release the ashtrays and matches in this photo. We honestly couldn't imagine two products that could be worse, but that's part of the reason this is so hilarious. Not only would this be illegal today, but the internet would go wild.
Not only was this a thing back in the day but it used to not be uncommon to see cartoon characters enjoying a cigarette while chasing each other around on TV.
The Writing And Characters Were Really Relatable
A lot of the cartoons from the 1980s were surprisingly relatable for their time, which is why a lot of them were so popular for decades after. Take this bit from Scooby Doo. It's a simple detail, but Velma always losing her glasses and being put into awkward situations because of it would've been felt by anyone who's worn glasses. We're not saying this bit alone is what made the show great.
It was just a bunch of different details all combined together that made the show special. Every character in the cartoon was different from one another, except maybe Scooby and Shaggy, which made it easier to come up with all these different, relatable situations.
Just Like In The Movies
All the cool kids in every movie that takes place in the 1980s wear their pants exactly like this. We're not sure how the trend started, but it definitely didn't take long for it to take hold. Basically, you wore your jeans like this if you were a bit preppy but also wanted to show off your edgy side. First, you'd tuck in the cuff and then roll up.
So many people wore their jeans like this that jeans makers started selling pants that were pre-folded. This might be one of the 80s styles we're glad isn't a thing anymore.
An Era Of Iconic Sounds And Machines
There were a couple of different high-tech machines that are still ingrained in popular culture today from the 1980s. (We're looking at you, KITT). However, we're only focusing on one here. If you grew up in the 1980s then you might remember this helicopter from Airwolf. The show followed a hotshot pilot who flew a futuristic helicopter and was prone to disobeying orders. The helicopter's rotors made a distinct sound.
It's one of those sounds that just sticks with you, and it was even incorporated into the show's introduction, which is probably another reason those who grew up in the 1980s can hear this photo.
Scooby And The Gang
Scooby Doo was a cultural phenomenon went it was first released and still is today. There have been remakes, spin-offs, and even live-action movies over the years. And while some of the newer versions are good, they fail to capture the same magic as the original series. The writing was just so good, especially for its time. Just look at how many fan theories the show has produced over the years, all owing to the original series.
The show is so popular that articles occasionally pop up in publications like The Atlantic exploring the show's enduring legacy and its place in popular culture.
The Era Of Cursed Films
The 1980s was a great time for films, but horror films, in particular, were really well made during this decade. Poltergeist was one such horror film, and while the movie on its own is incredibly chilling, even today, a couple of real-life events associated with it made it truly terrifying. In the scene pictured in the top photo, there's a poster for Superbowl XXII in 1988. The film was released in 1982. However, after the actress who played the little girl in the movie passed away after becoming sick on the day of Superbowl XXII in 1988, fans pointed back to this scene.
A number of other early deaths of people associated with the film caused some to point to the real skeletons used in the movie and allege that the film was cursed.
1980s Movie Plots Were Like:
There were plenty of serious films made in the 1980s that are still considered very well-made movies. However, the decade is sometimes better known for movies with wacky plots. It was like one movie started it, and then the next said, "Hold my beer," creating a cycle of wild movies that lasted a decade. The scene in this photo is from a movie called Teen Wolf. It's basically exactly what it sounds like.
A teenager catches lycanthropy and starts turning into a wolf, culminating in the moment he turns during a basketball game. The werewolf goes on to become the leading scorer because why not? It's the 1980s.
Back In My Day...
The meme about your grandfather having to walk through 20 miles of snow and rain to get to school probably wasn't exactly true. However, we will say that there is some truth about buses being pretty terrible back in the day. You could replace the seats with a rock, and nobody would be able to tell the difference; they lacked heaters and AC, and the suspension felt like you were riding in a tank.
We know some of these types of buses are still in use, but public school transport has still come a long way since then, and it's not uncommon for buses to have heaters and AC.
McDonald's Middle Age Crisis
It might be hard for some to imagine today, but McDonald's used to have kid's playgrounds, brightly colored packaging, and thematic seating. Today, many of the fast food restaurants' locations look more like pared-down versions of Starbucks. The chain now caters more to adults than to children, which used to be one of its biggest draws. It even got rid of its iconic mascots. It's to be how long this version of Mcdonald's lasts before it's revamped again.
However, it's very unlikely that kids are ever going to grow up knowing the same excitement that went with a trip to McDonald's during the 1980s and 1990s.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
If you've ever watched the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, you probably recognized this image. If you haven't, then you should definitely watch the movie. (Spoiler's ahead.) In short, a kid skips school and has to evade his suspicious principal while having the time of his life with friends and his girlfriend. The building in this photo is where his father parked his 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder.
Before the end of the movie, the car goes tumbling into the ravine and is totaled. The movie is widely considered one of the best teen comedies of all time.
The Speakers Were Bigger But So Was The Sound
We might look back on the 1980s and 1990s and ask ourselves how anyone survived not being able to bring their music everywhere they went, but there was a charm to the big speakers of that day and age. You either had a huge stereo system that sat in place, or you had a still very large boombox. Both were covered in all kinds of dials and knobs that required Dj-like musical knowledge.
Lord forbid you to go into someone's home and start playing with their settings. Speakers might've gotten a lot more compact but there's still no matching the sound these bad boys were able to put out.
Nightly TV For Kids In The 1980s
Okay, so this show wasn't made specifically for kids, but that didn't stop the majority of them from watching it when they were growing up in the 1980s. In the show, the Crypt Keeper, pictured here, would narrate a horror story that always included a surprise ending. The show was incredibly entertaining, and the Crypt Keeper was one of a kind. However, it probably wasn't the best thing for kids to watch before bed.
Still, whether or not you remember what any of the stories were about, you'll likely instantly recognize the Crypt Keeper's face. He scared a generation of kids throughout the decade.
Al Bundy Gave Us A Look Into Our Futures
The characters in the 1980s were just really relatable. Al Bundy's whole thing was that he was just a middle-aged guy who wanted nothing more than to have a beer on his couch and watch TV after work. A generation of guys grew up watching Al and a generation of guys slowly began to relate as they grew older. If you were a kid growing up watching Al, you probably just thought he was a slob at first.
However, underneath the surface, Al was actually a complicated character who worked a unrewarding job and was looked down on by his family. He just happened to enjoy the simple things in life.
We Forget Daniel Russo Was Really Unlikable
When most people think of the movie Karate Kid, they remember the main character training hard to overcome the villain. However, we tend to forget that the kid, named Daniel Russo, was somewhat of a villain himself at the start of the movie. He was basically an arrogant teen who was causing all kinds of problems. It was only through his training that he was able to calm down and rid himself of insecurities.
Daniel has a pretty good character arc, which might be one of the reasons the movie was and still is adored by fans. There have also been a couple of different remakes and reboots.
Darryl Introduces His Brothers
Some might need a little context for this photo. It's from a show called The Newart Show, which was a popular comedy in the 1980s. Daryl, a handyman who isn't the brightest mentions his brothers throughout the first six seasons, but it isn't until an episode during the sixth season that the audience finally gets to meet them. While Daryl is introducing them, it quickly becomes apparent to everyone except Daryl that his brothers are mute.
The show had a quirky sense of humor and charm that made it a fan favorite. While Darryl is introducing his brothers, the rest of the cast is trying to hold back their laughter.
Al Bundy's Best Friends
Married... with Children was one of the 1980s most memorable sitcoms. In the show, the family patriarch, Al Bundy, had two best friends and two wildly different relationships with them. The friend in the photo on top was Steve Rhoades, and his relationship with Al was often antagonistic. Jefferson D'Arcy, in the photo on the bottom, had a lot more relaxed relationship with Al. The two joked, but the jokes weren't meant to cut as deep.
Both were great sidekicks to have, and there's often a debate over which character was better or who you'd prefer to have by your side in real life.
The Jive Seen Never Gets Old
This scene from the movie Airplane! is probably one of the most iconic of the decade. In the photo, two passengers are trying to tell the flight attendant what they want to order, but she isn't able to understand them because they're speaking in slang. So, she asks the entire plane if anyone is able to speak jive. One woman raises her hand and steps in to translate for the two.
The film's nonchalant humor and quirky situations make it a must-watch. And even if you don't, you're likely to see clips of this scene if you haven't already.
We Always Thought Mario Was So Innocent
You don't have to have grown up in the 1980s to know who Mario is. He's one of the most recognizable characters in pop culture. Part of what makes him so iconic is his outfit and mustache. Plus, he's always wearing his signature red hat. So, imagine this person's surprise when they realize that Mario kind of looks like a certain ex-adult film star. We're sure that's not who Mario was based off.
The inspiration for Mario is actually an interesting story, and if you grew up thinking that he was supposed to be Italian, then just know that's not exactly the whole story.
Pop Culture Was Just Different Then
These might just look like simple glass coasters, but they're actually called carnival mirrors. They're glass picture tiles that were used to decorate rooms and just placed on a table back in the 1980s. If you were a kid or teen growing up then, you likely had some yourself. It was just meant to add a bit of personality to your room or desk and show off some of your interests.
We can't really think of any modern equivalent, which is a bit of a shame because these are really cool and add a lot of flavor to a space.
One Of The Most Popular Music Videos Of All Time
The 1980s was the age of the music video. We mean, that's the decade that MTV launched! Maybe one of the decade's best was a song called "Take On Me." You've likely heard the song even if you've never seen the video. Anyway, in the video, the main character jumps into a comic strip where he tries to win the heart of a woman. It doesn't sounds like something you'd expect from a hit 1980s pop song.
The music video was extremely innovative, and audiences responded. The singer and the actress from the video even held a reunion where the original video was shot decades later.
When Al Bundy Became A Drug Lord
For better or for worse, there are certain characters that some actors manage to play so well that they're only ever associated with those characters. That was the case with Al Bundy, played by Ed O'Neill. So, when former family man Al Bundy appeared as a coke dealer in Miami Vice, it took some getting used to. If social media was around back then, we could only imagine all the different memes it would've spawned.
The two characters just couldn't be more different, which is what makes it so hilarious to think about. Just what drove Al Bundy to leave the comforts of his couch?