30 Things That Are Turning 30 This Year
"Field of Dreams," "Sim City" and Steve Urkel all entered our lives 30 years ago.
Obviously, we are all getting older by the day. But nothing seems to drive home that fact quite like finding out how long it’s been since some of the movies, music, books and technology you’ve loved first came out.
For example, when I figured out that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would be well into their 40s at this point, I felt ancient. As I’m sure that finding out Prince’s “Purple Rain” turns 35 this year probably stings for anyone who remembers going to see it in theaters and buying the soundtrack.
So let’s all embrace the aging process by looking back at some iconic things that will turn 30 in 2019. Come on — 1989 wasn’t that long ago, right?
Nintendo Game Boy
Remember that durable, gray handheld video game system you used to lug around everywhere? It officially turns 30 in 2019. Nintendo’s iconic Game Boy was as groundbreaking as it was popular. This must-have toy hit American stores in 1989, featuring a monochrome LCD display that measured 66 millimeters diagonally.
The most popular game? “Tetris” wins by default because it came with every original Game Boy for free.
‘Saved By The Bell’
I told you this list would make you feel ancient! On Aug. 20, 1989, viewers flipped on NBC to meet teens named Zack, Kelly, Slater and “Screech” for the first time.
“Saved by the Bell” was one of the most beloved high school shows ever, balancing silly situations with serious lessons aimed at teen viewers. The series made stars out of actors like Mario Lopez, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, all of whom continue to be visible stars today.
“Saved by the Bell” eventually went off the air in 1993 after running for five seasons.
‘The Little Mermaid’
Can you believe it’s been 30 years since you first got “Under the Sea” stuck in your head? The Disney classic, which rescued the company from a series of flops and brought it back to relevance, first hit theaters on Nov. 17, 1989.
For the uninitiated, it follows Ariel, a teenage mermaid princess who desperately wants to be human and can somehow belt out a mean tune while underwater. “The Little Mermaid” won two Oscars and made more than $200 million at the box office worldwide.
Television history was made on Sept. 22, 1989, when ABC launched its legendary TGIF television block. The lineup of family-friendly shows, which would come to define ’90s TV, initially consisted of “Full House,” “Family Matters,” “Perfect Strangers” and “Just the Ten of Us,” airing on Friday nights from 8-10 p.m. The only one of those shows to actually debut in 1989 was “Family Matters,” which ran for nine seasons. TGIF itself would last until 2000 but ABC has tried to revive the iconic acronym several times since.
‘Love Shack’ By The B-52’s
Still a staple on the radio today, or whenever someone wants to instantly turn up the energy of whatever room they’re in, “Love Shack” was first released as a single by The B-52’s on June 20, 1989. The upbeat anthem was also featured on the band’s album “Cosmic Thing,” which also came out in 1989.
“Love Shack” played a part in introducing the world to RuPaul, who appeared in the song’s music video before the drag queen became a household name.
As you’ll see in this list, 1989 was a pretty great year for new TV comedies. On Dec. 17, 1989, Fox debuted a new animated series called “The Simpsons.” No one could have predicted the cultural force the show would become, as it is still airing new episodes today.
The animation in the first episode that aired, a Christmas story called “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” was quite crude compared to how it looks after 30 seasons and more than 600 episodes aired. But the biting family humor that has made the show a lasting favorite was already there.
‘Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814’ By Janet Jackson
Typically just called “Rhythm Nation,” this blockbuster album dropped on Sept. 19, 1989. The record spawned four No. 1 hits: “Miss You Much,” “Escapade, “Black Cat” and “Love Will Never Do (Without You).”
Its stylistic music videos helped make Jackson a star in the MTV era, while the songs kept her on radio virtually nonstop through 1990. As of 2014, the album had reportedly sold around 20 million copies, meaning you probably still have this CD lying around somewhere.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
A lot has changed at Walt Disney World‘s Hollywood-themed park since it opened 30 years ago, including its name.
On May 1, 1989, Disney-MGM Studios opened to guests for the first time. The only two rides in operation were The Great Movie Ride and the Studio Backlot Tour. Neither of those rides are in operation anymore and the park is now called Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
If you hear someone today still refer to the park as “MGM,” you know they were around back in the good old days.
Like “The Simpsons,” NBC’s “Seinfeld” started out with humble beginnings in 1989 before becoming one of TV’s all-time classic shows. The sitcom, co-created by and starring comedian Jerry Seinfeld, debuted as a summer series called “The Seinfeld Chronicles” on July 5.
The first season, which only consisted of five episodes, doesn’t even include Elaine as a character, making it a jarring watch today. Luckily for us, NBC picked up “Seinfeld” for more episodes under its new title and it went on to air for nine seasons, ending in 1998.
On June 23, 1989, movie fans were treated to one of the films that helped ignite today’s flood of comic book films.
Director Tim Burton’s “Batman” was a massive hit with critics and audiences, collecting more than $251 million in American theaters alone, becoming the highest grossing movie of the year. Jack Nicholson’s Joker was the gold standard for Batman villains before Heath Ledger played the same part, and many Batman fans will still argue that Michael Keaton was the best Bruce Wayne ever.
When you think of the ’80s, “American Gladiators” has to be one of the first things that comes to mind. But did you realize it didn’t debut until Sept. 9, 1989? This cult-classic competition show featured contestants enduring a series of unforgettable athletic events, going head to head with the show’s fierce cast of gladiators, who had rad names like Malibu, Nitro and Zap. The show ran in syndication until 1996 and has been rebooted multiple times.
‘Like A Prayer’ By Madonna
The “It girl” of the ’80s rounded out the decade with one of her most acclaimed and successful albums, showing she still had plenty to say. “Like a Prayer” came out on March 21, 1989 and boasted singles like “Express Yourself,” “Cherish” and the title track. The latter song’s infamous music video ignited controversy for Madonna due to the religious imagery featured in it, leading her to lose a lucrative sponsorship from Pepsi.
The album went on to sell more than 4 million copies and the title track has had more than 1 million digital downloads since 2003 alone.
Despite making its debut in Japan in 1988, the Sega Genesis didn’t appear stateside until August 1989. The video game system went on to become an icon, selling tens of millions of units and continuing to be popular with gamers until the late ’90s. Its sales were bolstered by the “Sonic the Hedgehog” series and its aggressive marketing campaigns that included the slogan, “Genesis does what Nintendon’t.” Unfortunately for Sega, the company would never match the popularity of the Genesis with any of its later systems.
Can you believe it’s been 30 years since we first met the Southern ladies of “Steel Magnolias“? The movie, which starred a gifted cast including Dolly Parton, Sally Field, Julia Roberts and Shirley MacLaine, hit theaters on Nov. 15, 1989. The charming and beloved movie ended up becoming one of 1989’s top-grossing movies and was even nominated for an Oscar.
One of the forefathers of the reality TV craze, Fox’s groundbreaking “Cops” first aired on March 11, 1989. That’s 30 years of “Bad Boys,” dizzying foot chases and shirtless drunk men trying to talk their way out of certain arrest.
The series, which showed real police officers going about their daily business, aired on Fox for a staggering 25 seasons, before switching networks in 2013. It is still on the air today, making it one of the longest-running shows ever.
‘Wayne’s World’ On ‘Saturday Night Live’
In 1989, Canadian comic Mike Myers joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” bringing with him what would become one of the show’s most popular sketches ever. The late-night show aired “Wayne’s World,” which saw Myers and Dana Carvey playing two metalhead buddies, Wayne and Garth, who host a local public-access TV talk show from Wayne’s basement.
The sketch debuted on Feb. 18, 1989 and would be featured on the show more than 20 times over the next 30 years. It also spawned two movies, with 1992’s “Wayne’s World” becoming the highest-grossing movie ever based on something from “SNL.”
‘Field Of Dreams’
In 2019, it’ll be 30 years since we all first heard the words, “If you build it, he will come.” One of the few movies virtually guaranteed to make grown men get emotional, “Field of Dreams” premiered on April 21, 1989. It helped cement Kevin Costner’s legacy as one of Hollywood’s biggest stars heading into the ’90s and it earned three Oscar nominations.
The film would gross more than $84 million worldwide, making it one of the most popular baseball movies ever made. Gaby Hoffman, who played Costner’s daughter in the film, will turn 37 years old in 2019, which is older than Costner was when he made “Field of Dreams.”
Electric Youth By Debbie Gibson
One of those scents that people who grew up in the ’80s will likely never forget is pop star Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth fragrance. The perfume, which was made by Revlon, featured packaging decked in neon colors, a distinctive label with bright pink lettering and, of course, a pink spring inside the bottle. The fragrance came out in 1989, the same year as Gibson’s smash-hit album and song of the same name.
‘The Arsenio Hall Show’
The talk show of the late ’80s/early ’90s made its debut on Jan. 3, 1989 and brought some much-needed attitude to the late-night TV scene. Comedian Arsenio Hall hosted the hit series and gave America plenty of memorable moments, like when presidential candidate Bill Clinton appeared in June 1992 and played the saxophone with Hall’s band, boosting his popularity before the election. The show came to an end in 1994 before being resurrected in 2013 for a new season.
‘The Joy Luck Club’ By Amy Tan
One of the most celebrated and enduring American novels of the 1980s turns 30 in 2019. The book, about the complex relationships between four pairs of Chinese-born mothers and their American-born daughters, first hit shelves in March 1989. The book was Tan’s first and it became a critical darling and international bestseller that was eventually adapted into an acclaimed film in 1993. But this beautiful, gritty book first showed up in our lives 30 years ago.
Joey and Chandler’s favorite TV show of all time started its unlikely run 30 years ago. The series, about gorgeous lifeguards patrolling the beaches of Los Angeles County, debuted on NBC on Sept. 22, 1989.
After dismal ratings, NBC canceled the show after a single season but its creators revived it to air in syndication, where it ran for 11 seasons and more than 200 episodes. The show made stars out of Pamela Anderson, Yasmine Bleeth and David Charvet and continued the legend of David Hasselhoff, who produced the series and starred in 10 seasons of “Baywatch.”
‘Weekend At Bernie’s’
One of the strangest hit comedies to ever come out of Hollywood, the cult favorite “Weekend at Bernie’s” debuted in theaters on July 5, 1989. The movie’s wacky plot follows a pair of co-workers who discover their boss has died but they are able to convince people he’s still alive during a long weekend at his beach house in the Hamptons. Despite the silly storyline, “Weekend at Bernie’s” became an unlikely hit, even spawning a sequel in 1993. It’s one of those you have to see to believe.
‘Bleach’ By Nirvana
The fact that Nirvana’s first album came out 30 years ago should make all of us feel ancient. “Bleach” was the Seattle band’s introduction to the world and was a benchmark of early grunge, which would take over rock radio in the 1990s. All but one of the 11 tracks was written by frontman Kurt Cobain, and the album did not feature Dave Grohl on drums. He would join the band for its breakout album “Nevermind,” which will turn 30 in 2021.
‘Doogie Howser, M.D.’
Another icon of the ’80s that turns 30 in 2019 is ABC’s medical hit “Doogie Howser, M.D.” The series had the strange premise of following a 14-year-old doctor who’d graduated from Princeton University at the age of 10 and went on to work in medicine. The series made Neil Patrick Harris a star. “Doogie Howser, M.D.” ran for four seasons after debuting on Sept. 19, 1989. In case you were wondering, Dr. Howser would be about 45 years old now, which is the same age as Harris.
Gamers will probably be shocked to know 2019 marks 30 years since they were first able to build a city of their dreams in “SimCity.” The legendary game — which hit PCs in February 1989 — allowed players to spend countless hours bringing their own city to life, only to have it destroyed by a disaster before having to rebuild. The game was the first in the seemingly endless “Sim” franchise, which has included several direct sequels to “SimCity,” as well as the blockbuster series, “The Sims.”
‘Garth Brooks’ By Garth Brooks
Not only were music fans first introduced to Nirvana 30 years ago, they also met Garth Brooks for the first time. The country superstar’s first album came out on April 12, 1989 and failed to top the Billboard country charts, which would be unthinkable for Brooks in a few years’ time. The album featured a few songs that are still considered some of Brooks’ best, including “The Dance,” “If Tomorrow Never Comes” and “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old).” He was 27 years old when the album came out.
‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’
Another long-running television icon that made its debut 30 years ago was ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” On Nov. 26, 1989, the show debuted as a one-hour special that was meant to only be a one-off show featuring amazing home videos sent in by people from around the country. The special was so popular that ABC turned it into a series, which is still running with 29 seasons in the bag so far. Bob Saget, the original host of the show, hosted it until 1997.
‘Look Who’s Talking’
Another hit comedy from the ’80s will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2019. “Look Who’s Talking” came out on Oct. 13, 1989, and starred John Travolta and Kirstie Alley — plus Bruce Willis as the inner voice of Alley’s newborn son! It sounds ridiculous but “Look Who’s Talking” raked in nearly $300 million worldwide in 1989, becoming the fourth-highest-grossing movie of the year.
‘Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers’
I don’t know about you but this one seriously made me feel old. A favorite show of many ’80s and ’90s kids, “Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers” debuted on March 4, 1989. The animated adventure series was part of the beloved Disney Afternoon lineup, along with other favorites like “Darkwing Duck,” “TaleSpin” and “DuckTales.” “Rescue Rangers” itself ran for just three seasons, ending in 1990. But I bet you can still sing the theme song 30 years later!
‘The Karen Carpenter Story’
Only the true ’80s aficionados will remember this one. “The Karen Carpenter Story,” the heartbreaking and controversial made-for-TV movie about the life of musician Karen Carpenter, aired on CBS 30 years ago. The film, which starred Cynthia Gibb as Carpenter, aired on Jan. 1, 1989 and was a smash hit for the network. The movie was the highest-rated TV movie of the year and if you ask people of a certain age about Carpenter’s life, they’ll probably mention facts they first learned about in this film.