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  • In 1985, Adventures of the Gummi Bears was praised for it's animation and writing, which were superior to other shows that were on the air at the time. Nowadays, with shows like Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Gravity Falls, and The Owl House, it's hard for modern viewers to see why the show was so revolutionary for animation.
  • Beavis and Butthead debuted in the very early nineties, at a time when the Animation Age Ghetto was still very strong, and The Simpsons was just breaking through, while still remaining relatively family friendly. Beavis and Butthead on the other hand was shocking and caused a panic among the Moral Guardians, being one of only a very very few animated programs for adults only. Nowadays we have Family Guy, South Park, the entire Adult Swim lineup, and countless other "Late Night Cartoons", to the point that Beavis and Butthead looks tame, and downright corny by comparison.
    • On top of that, the main reason it got such a diehard fanbase was because of all the shock and panic it caused (a lot of it undeserved). Now, years removed from the hype, explaining to today's kids what's so great about it is flat-out impossible. Why Mike Judge made any attempt to relaunch it is a mystery.
      • MTV's president said that today's culture is so weird that we need the duo's POV (they even riff Jersey Shore in the revival!).
    • Let's face it: before B and B, the "ignorant 14-year-old with no future" trope had virtually disappeared from popular fiction. Not only that, but this show was maybe the first on television to accurately portray the average 14-year-old's sex drive.
  • When Bugs Bunny first said, "What's up, Doc?" in the 1940 short, A Wild Hare, it was a shock in ways modern audiences simply can't imagine or appreciate. In 1940, audiences saw the hunter (Elmer Fudd, of course), heard the hunter say he was hunting wabbits (er, rabbits), and then they saw the rabbit. 1940 audiences were expecting that rabbit to scream, run, pick a fight, play dead, anything except strike up a casual conversation with the guy trying to kill him. So, when Bugs did that, he brought the house down - a response that led to it becoming his Catch Phrase. Nowadays, not only does nobody find, "What's up, Doc?" funny, most people don't even realize it was ever supposed to be funny in the first place. It's just that thing Bugs always says in every freakin cartoon he's in.
  • The Ren and Stimpy Show. Unprecedented and freakish when it debuted, it practically invented the "gross cartoon" paradigm. The gratuitous amounts of snot, Toilet Humor and Family-Unfriendly Violence were something completely new and unknown to the audience. Nowadays, Ren and Stimpy wouldn't shock or disgust many people (unless we're talking about the adult version), with the spawn of many cartoons that used similar characters, humor and drawing style after Ren And Stimpy's success.
    • This is not entirely true. While it is hands-down one of the most ripped off cartoons ever, the DVD boxes for said series still sport parental guidance labels on them, and the website rates it as unsuitable for viewers below 15. Many commenters on youtube who watch this show, most of them who hadn't seen it since childhood, often point out how "screwed up" and "insane" it is. Honestly, how many cartoons these days show characters pulling out their nerve endings with a pair of tweezers?
  • ReBoot was the very first fully CGI television show that came out in the early nineties and was a pretty big success at the time. In this day and age, shows with CGI are completely common, and most people would consider ReBoot pretty tame in terms of computer accomplishments, although it had a great story, wonderful characters, and is still hailed today as one of the best, if not the best, CGI show of all time, with its biggest competitor for the title being another Mainframe series: Beast Wars.
  • The Simpsons. The first two seasons look really awkward to anyone who was introduced to it at a later date, but it's hard to overstate how revolutionary the show was at the time, and how quickly it became a phenomenon.
    • The Simpsons as a whole is very much a case of this trope by this point. During the shows golden age of the early to mid 90's, the show was extremely original, and not only because it was an animated program intended for adults. Its particular style of satirical, subversive humor made it stand out not only as a television cartoon, but as a comedy. To younger people who have spent their adolescent years watching shows like South Park and Family Guy, whose brand of humor is very much derived from The Simpsons, it is probably quite hard to appreciate just how groundbreaking the yellow skinned family and their show were back in their heyday.
    • And how controversial it was back then. The first season seems pretty tame, yet there were groups devoted to banning this show and its merchandise.
    • And don't forget the numerous film references in The Simpsons. They started this trend in animation and back then when they did it was often surprising, not done that often before and very amusing. Soon Disney movies like Aladdin, the Dreamworks films like Shrek and Shark Tale and every adult cartoon series, from South Park to Family Guy have been including references to popular films ever since.
    • Itchy and Scratchy's violent cartoons were originally intended as a parody of traditional cartoon violence like in Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes, which was often very painful, but never bloody or fatal. So Itchy & Scratchy's gruesome battles surprised and shocked viewers because you never saw violence this extreme in mainstream animation. Nowadays, thanks to controversial and often gory shows like South Park, Family Guy, and Happy Tree Friends, the violence in Itchy and Scratchy doesn't seem that noticeable. Also, the disappearance of all classic 1930s-1950s cartoons on television means that the original reference target and thus the joke is lost on younger generations.
    • Celebrity guest appearances. Before The Simpsons, high-level celebrities didn't make appearances on animated programs. In fact, they generally didn't make appearances on TV at all, if their careers were going well. So, it doesn't seem like all that big of a deal that Michael Jackson voiced a character in the episode "Stark Raving Dad." However, in 1991, with Jackson at the height of his career, this was a HUGE deal, with much media speculation over who "John Jay Smith" actually was, and whether Jackson would actually voice a character on a cartoon. By 1994, a guest spot on The Simpsons had become a badge of honor, and is fairly passé today.
    • The concept of the trope itself is brought up in the first "Treehouse of Horror" episode. Lisa reads Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven to Bart as an example of a truly scary story. Bart is naturally unimpressed and wonders why anyone would find a poem scary. Lisa theorizes that people in the mid-19th century were just easier to scare, having not seen any of the modern day's gore-fests.

 Bart: Oh yeah! It's like watching Friday the 13 th: Part 1. Pretty tame by today's standards.

  • Tex Avery created many jokes and situations in animated cartoons that were once surprising and hilariously funny, but have been imitated and plagiarized so much by other cartoon studios that these jokes can make a modern audience yawn because they are so predictable and overdone. Examples are eyes flying out of their sockets, enormous long tongues, endless chases, characters using sticks of dynamite or dropping anvils on each other, characters walking on thin air before realizing that there's nothing beneath them whereupon they fall down, painted tunnels the hero can drive through while the villain simply crashes against the wall, and so on.
  • When My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was first released, it received great praise for its optimistic tone and the diversity of its cast, both relating to race and gender stereotypes. In 2010, compared to the shows from the previous decade, like Invader Zim, this was very refreshing. By 2013, with shows like Steven Universe and Adventure Time, some fans couldn't see why MLP exploded onto the scene like it did in 2010.
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