There are watershed moments for every generation. Touchstones that ground them, that have created or altered their collective personalities or belief system in some way.
If you’re curious what that pop culture moment is for a majority of millennials, these 28 are pretty clear on what that means for them.
28. This girl who dived into an empty pool.
It was supposed to keep us all off drugs, but I think it just gave us all really bad nightmares.
27. Also, that series two-part The Perils of Punky Halloween episode.
The writers on that show made some questionable choices.
26. When Littlefoot’s mom dies in A Land Before Time.
It went wayyyyy harder than Bambi and I am still not okay.
25. That time the cast of Cats put out an anti-smoking PSA.
I would guess that most people my age did not go see the film version. We’re already scarred, thanks.
24. The Red Room Riddle
This was essentially a horror movie presented as a Saturday morning cartoon.
23. That Genesis video for Land of Confusion.
What even were those creepy, knock-off muppets?
22. When Rio was dating Jerrica and Jem but they were the same person so maybe it was okay?
Relationship issues galore!
21. The McTonight commercials.
I have no idea what McDonalds was thinking, but hey, our parents only let us eat there on special occasions, anyway.
20. Carol Channing’s character in Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Sure, Alice in Wonderland movies are always screwy, but watching her change into a shrieking sheep was next level.
19. Mr. Boogedy
Disney made this horror show and put it on television. I’m still not over it.
18. The old lady in the Life Alert commercials.
Look, I don’t know anyone who didn’t watch this and see their grandmother. Scarring.
17. The Sledgehammer music video.
Peter Gabriel just sort of…fell apart. Literally.
16. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Specifically the reveal of Judge Doom, but really, the entire thing.
15. When Michael J. Fox nearly died for a Diet Pepsi.
Perhaps this is why and when we all became Coke lovers.
14. Gmork from The Neverending Story.
Honestly there wasn’t a whole lot from that movie that wasn’t nightmare fuel.
13. The reveal at the end of the Thriller video.
HE HAD YELLOW EYES WHAT WHY.
12. The Thundercats early nudity.
I’m still not over it, to be honest.
11. Large Marge.
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure wasn’t all big fun.
10. Depressed Big Bird.
He turned blue in Follow that Bird and it was extremely disconcerting.
9. Return to Oz.
The closet of heads. The wheelers. The shock therapy. All of it.
8. Herbie Hancock’s Rockit video.
The 80s had a strange relationship with mannequins.
7. The death of Optimus Prime.
Transformers: The Movie was unexpectedly emotional.
6. The alien in Mac & Me.
I maintain it was a demon masquerading as an alien.
5.When Fievel was lost in An American Tail.
I mean, some of us also still don’t quite trust cats (which I say is wise).
4. The anti-Christmas monologue on Gremlins.
Terrifying on so many levels.
3. When Will watches himself get guillotined.
Something Wicked This Way Comes indeed.
2. All of the Drug-Free America commercials.
Particularly this one, where the drug dealer is an actual snake.
1. The McGruff the Crime Dog commercials.
The dog was fine. The scenarios he policed? Horrifying.
None of these really surprise me, but it is really interesting to think back on all of these years later, don’t you think?
If you’re a millennial and have a different idea about what pop culture moment influenced your life, share it with us in the comments!