It’s always the big things that we seem to remember. For every home run a major league baseball player hits, there are usually way more strikeouts to balance it out. But who remembers a hitter’s strikeouts? Homers are where the fun is! That same logic can be applied to pretty much everything.
For example, here are 25 things we forgot about pop culture in the 1980s…
1. Sam Malone was a pitcher before he owned a bar
The owner of Cheers wasn’t just a Lothario with an eye for any woman who walked into the bar. Malone, played by Ted Danson, was a relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox from 1972 to 1978, whose career was derailed by constant drinking. Baseball-Reference has a page dedicated to “Mayday,” and figures, based on a Sports Illustrated article, that he pitched 312 2/3 innings, with a 16-30 record, a 4.01 ERA, and a paltry 40 strikeouts. In the same SI piece, which chronicled Malone’s “career,” it was revealed that Mayday used to drink during games (but never on the mound.)
2. Freddy Krueger turned teenagers into pizza toppings and ate them
From 1988′s A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (yeah, it’s in Spanish, but you get the point).
3. TAPPER the arcade game
In 1983, a Bally Midway game popped up in arcades that had you, likely at the age when it was still illegal for you to drink, acting as a bartender serving beers to thirsty patrons, with a huge Budweiser logo on a back wall.
The game was eventually re-imagined as the more arcade-friendly “Root Beer Tapper,” but the adult version lives on, most notably on ebay, where you can get the first literal “drinking game” for a tidy $800.
4. Muppet Family Christmas
Not to be confused with “It’s a Very, Merry Muppet Christmas” or even “A Muppet Christmas Carol,” 1987′s “Muppet Family Christmas” was a made-for-TV special that aired three times and featured pretty much every character in the Muppet universe, from Bert and Ernie all the way down to the Fraggles. Doesn’t sound familiar? That’s because it doesn’t exist on DVD in its original format. Scour the web for copies of the original uncut version (which includes Statler and Waldorf singing “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”) and it might set you back as much as $50.
Or, you know, you could just watch it on YouTube.
5. Optimus Prime Died…
It happened in the underrated cartoon movie from 1986. And it’s hauntingly bittersweet, because playing Stan Bush’s “The Touch” during the fight scene is epic, but the greatest Transformer to ever exist is (SPOILER ALERT!) killed.
6. …Then Came Back to Life
It took less than a year. And if this clip doesn’t fully explain what’s going on (you don’t follow a scene featuring a transforming dinosaur and a robot with several faces and tentacles?), the Transformers wiki clears things up. A little bit.
7. But before any of this happened, Transformers had the most unnecessary “shit” ever uttered in a movie.
It had to be some kind of a dare. For a lot of kids, this was the first time they ever heard a swear word.
8. There was a football player named Buster Rhymes
From 1985 to 1986, he played for the Vikings as a wide receiver and return man. In fact, in 1985, he set the NFL record (at the time) for return yards. He has since been bumped to 69th place on the all-time list. But he still got his own card which, coincidentally, is just about the only picture you can still find of the guy.
9. The Fratellis killed a guy and wrapped him in a garbage bag
For as fun and goofy as the Fratellis are—smashing their testicles on oil-soaked logs, throwing pizza at each other, playing jump-rope with Sloth—fans of The Goonies seem to have skipped over the fact that the Fratellis were hiding a dead guy in a freezer full of ice cream. And then transported him around in the back of their Jeep (when they came upon Chunk on the road signaling for help). He seemed to be shot in the forehead—one of the Fratellis had to have done that, at what we must assume was pretty close range—and the garbage bag wrapping seems a little…grim. Mouth and Data? Good clean fun. The Fratellis? Psychopathic murderers.
10. Marty McFly was named after a guy his mom made out with who then mysteriously disappeared
Forget all the rules of time travel and rewriting history. This one’s just weird. If you married your high school sweetheart and decided to name your son after someone, would it be the dude who “parked” with your wife and then mysteriously disappeared that night? “Oh hey, I know I had to win you away from this guy, Marty, who you kissed minutes before you kissed me, but he told me to ask you out, and I did, so let’s name our third-born kid after him.” Either go first-born or don’t even bother drudging up those old, weird memories of the high schooler who made a bully drive into a manure truck, invented the skateboard, inspired Chuck Berry’s entire career, and then was never heard from again.
11. Leslie Easterbrook’s boobs
We fondly remember Lieutenant Callahan, played by Leslie Easterbrook, being presented as “hot” in the first two Police Academy movies, and by the time Part 3 rolled around, things had moved to full-on boob worship. But it was in 1987′s fourth installment, “Citizens on Patrol,” when the prayers of men everywhere were answered, and the three-movie tease finally gave it up in the form of a wet white t-shirt (a Police Academy one, at that) that revealed everything underneath. Bonus points to Easterbrook, now 60, still looking as good as she did almost 25 years ago.
12. Terry Griffith’s Boobs
Between Leslie Easterbrook and Joyce Hyser, we saw exactly one fully-nude set of breasts throughout five 80s movies. But they may be two of the most noteworthy sets of boobs in the entire decade. While Lieutenant Callahan worked a slow build-up, Hyser’s Terry Griffith kind of made us forget she was actually a she—and a really hot she, at that—until the Great Reveal at the end of Just One of the Guys, when Terry pulled her tuxedo shirt open and gave us the most unexpected flash in film history. The best part? The scene was partially spoiled by the trailer, and we still didn’t see it coming.
13. Bo and Luke Duke were briefly replaced
In the fifth season of “Dukes of Hazzard,” Tom Wopat and John Schneider were wrapped up in a contract dispute with CBS. So the network, without blinking, replaced the duo with Coy and Vance Duke, two previously-unmentioned “cousins” played by Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer, who had very similar looks to the original Dukes. As ratings tanked, the network decided it needed Bo and Luke back. They eventually reached an agreement, and Wopat and Schneider returned for the final four episodes, with Coy and Vance getting a weird, downhearted send-off.
14. Madonna had lots of armpit hair
The pictures were actually taken in 1979, when a broke Madonna posed for Lee Friedlander to make some money, and what’s posted above is literally all we can show you. The pictures appeared in the September 1985 Playboy (better known as the very last stapled issue), and Madonna, by then basking in the glow of her January hit “Material Girl,” opened plenty of eyes with huge…swaths of armpit hair.
If you dare take a peek, just know that you may never look at Madonna the same way again. And it might be good to warn you going in that the hair under her arms pales in comparison to the hair…
15. Sgt. Slaughter was a character on “G.I. Joe”
It’s not exactly a chicken/egg situation—Sgt. Slaughter was a wrestling superstar first, then a G.I. Joe character—but the crossover represented the perfect pairing of 1980s pop culture: WWF and cartoons. What made things a little confusing was that Sgt. Slaughter’s backstory on “G.I. Joe” made no mention of his wrestling career—it was like he was an entirely new character, but still the same. Rumors surrounding his departure from the WWF alleged that Vince McMahon wasn’t happy with his dalliance in the world of cartoons (or maybe he objected to kids being charged 50 cents to call an 800 number?).
16. Loo-Kee in “She-Ra” episodes
You can act all tough and say you didn’t watch “She-Ra” back in the day, or you can just bask in the glory of rediscovering Loo-Kee, a blue-haired, sexually amorphous creeper who viewers were challenged to “find” hiding in every episode.
17. Indiana Jones took place back in the 1930s.
It’s kind of easy to lose sight of the timeline here, just because he’s always running around somewhat backwards foreign lands, while dealing with immortal knights and guys who rip hearts out, but Dr. Jones did most of his swashbuckling in the mid-1930s. Meaning Short Round would be approximately 90-something years old if he were still alive today. And probably still insisting that people refer to him as “doctor.”
18. The Cobra Kai guys were getting high when they jumped Daniel LaRusso
It’s probably lost in the fact that they were such dicks throughout the movie, but at the costume party, when Daniel is dressed in a shower curtain and turns on a hose on the Cobra Kai in the bathroom stall, there was a joint being passed around inside. Was LaRusso an early participant in the War on Drugs? Or was he just trying to get some bullies wet and didn’t realize he ruined their weed?
And just because we can… The Montage:
19. Gremlins is a Christmas movie
It’s easy to just dismiss Gremlins as a horror movie with a little bit of comedy, but you can just as easily file it next to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Gizmo is a Christmas gift. Corey Feldman works in a Christmas tree lot. In the scene where they take over the bar, the gremlins hang from tinsel and throw ornaments. They even go caroling (see above video).
It might not be a classic along the lines of It’s a Wonderful Life, but the 1984 classic can definitely be run in December without seeming wholly out of place.
20. The Goblin King was kind of a pedophile
For as cool a movie as 1986′s Labyrinth is, there is a tinge of creepiness to it, beyond all the weird animals and its overtly goth-ish theme: The Goblin King, played by a then-39 year old David Bowie, is in love with Jennifer Connelly’s Sarah, who is supposed to be 15 years old. Don’t believe it? Early in the film, when Sarah is telling the story of the Goblin King to her crying little step-brother, she says that the Goblin King had fallen in love with “the girl” (Sarah) and had given her special powers. And if that doesn’t do it for you, check out the first line of the film’s “Memorable Quotes” on Labyrinth‘s IMDB page, from Bowie: “I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.” Not normal, dude. Not even if you’re a Goblin King who can levitate little crystal balls.
Still, the songs in the movie were pretty awesome:
21. Scott Howard was a bit of a prick
It’s obvious that we’re supposed to root for Scott Howard as the scrawny underdog, and the story’s plot won’t move along unless he becomes selfish as the wolf and then learns a lesson, but some of his actions are borderline unnecessary, even for a guy who is just realizing his powers. He basically steals Mick’s girlfriend and bangs her (which he didn’t need to do), becomes a huge ball-hog on his basketball team (no problem with that), and then decides to show up late for the final game and play as Scott Howard, screwing up his team’s chemistry in their most important high school moment. Even the minor stuff he does—possibly causing an old man at the beer store to have an off-screen heart attack when he shows off his red eyes to illegally get a keg, dicking around Boof, selling merchandise—is questionable, at best, even for a teenager turning into a wolf.
22. Skeletor was ripped
The dude took a lot of grief for his constantly-foiled plans, but it’s pretty obvious he spent a lot of time in the gym. Even his toys were buff.
We’re not really sure what the significance of this is, but props to the creators for making a guy whose name connotes bones and skinniness look like a roid rager who could kick the asses of 99% of Eternia’s population.
23. The Garbage Pail Kids were turned into a live action major motion picture
The 1987 flick brought the trading cards to life in probably the most disturbing manner possible (and you can watch it right now on Netflix). But with a 0% “Fresh” rating on RottenTomatoes.com, and a box office return of under $2 million, the movie is one of the biggest busts in film history.
And yet, you’ll probably still watch this entire trailer and then consider streaming it live, just because it’s so awesome in its campiness.
24. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure had a ghost story
It was psychedelic, and featured a cross-dressing Pee Wee in search of his beloved bicycle. But buried in the middle of the 1985 flick was a ride in a semi driven by Large Marge. She tells Pee Wee the story of the worst accident she’d ever seen, makes a frightening, FX-aided face, then drops him off at a diner and tells him to announce that Large Marge sent him. When he does, the diner falls silent, and he’s told the story of the worst accident they’d ever seen….in which Large Marge died ten years before.
Of course, her spirit lives on in the world of awesome t-shirts.
25. Disney made two incredibly similar Halloween specials just to confuse you
Remember “Disney’s Halloween Treat”? You actually might not be remembering the right special. The collection of scary-ish Disney clips has been a cult favorite for some time, and was never released on DVD (although pirated burns of the VHS release are available on the web), but there are two separate versions: “Disney’s Halloween Treat,” which is narrated by a pumpkin, and “A Disney Halloween,” which has the mirror on the wall as the host. Why the two versions (Treat was shown in 1982, A Disney Halloween was aired in 1983)? Nobody really knows. The two are similar enough for only the discerning eye to catch a difference. But, as always, a trip down memory lane—and in this case, both memory lanes—is just a few clicks away.
Disney’s Halloween Treat:
A Disney Halloween: