13 Terrible Things That Happened in the 80s That Everyone Forgot About

People tend to look at the past through rose-colored glasses, but often that serves only to cover up anything unpleasant! Recently, people who lived in the 80s met in an online discussion to reveal the bad things that happened in that decade that they blocked from memory.

From famous comedians setting themselves on fire to questionable parenting methods, these are the most terrible things people forget happened in the 80s. 

1. Richard Pryor Set Himself on Fire

Richard Pryor
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

No, you didn't read that incorrectly – the famous comedian once lit himself on fire after dousing himself with rum in 1980. It was a deadly serious moment for him and his fans.

But fortunately, Richard Pryor survived and went on to have one of the most successful careers of any comedian ever.

2. The Pope Was Nearly Assassinated

Attempted Assassination of Pope John Paul II
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Assassination attempts aren't as memorable as successful ones, as many people forget that the Pope was nearly assassinated in 1981! Pope John Paul II was seriously wounded when a gunman attempted to take his life in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. At that moment, the Catholic Church — and the world — stood still. Fortunately for the world, the attacker failed in his mission.

3. Homophobia Was Rampant

Protesting against homophobia
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Regardless of your personal views on the subject, everyone can agree that homophobia was rampant in the 80s, and society is generally more accepting of the LGBTQ community in 2023. At times, the 80s were terrifying for gay men and women.

4. First Hole in the Ozone Layer Discovered

Pollution, Global Warming
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

In the mid-80s, the first hole in the ozone layer was discovered in Antarctica, sending America into a panic. This discovery led to world leaders' first significant discussions of global warming and air pollution. Luckily, over time, the protective layer in our atmosphere repaired itself via the world taking this threat more seriously. 

5. Airport Security Was Nonexistent

Woman at airport with backpack, travel, traveling, vacation, flight, plane
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Long before the events of September 11, 2001, changed the landscape of the aviation industry, airports — and airport security — were a casual affair. Yet, just thinking about the lack of security at airports in the 80s leads countless people to believe that safeguards against terroristic threats should have been instituted long before the 2000s. 

6. Cabbage Patch Kids Hysteria

cabbage patch kid,outside examining the grapes
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Each decade is marked by the general public's obsession with a specific toy, and the 80s were no different. Cabbage Patch Kids were the hottest toy in the United States – and come holiday time, it was common for adults to get into fistfights at toy stores and malls over a store's allocation of the dolls. 

7. Allergies Were Brushed Aside

Refusing food, not hungry, food allergy
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

In 2023, restaurants, airplanes, and even schools cater to common allergies, as no company wants to be held liable if someone gets sick. In the 80s, however, these safeguards were not yet implemented.

So, for example, if you had a peanut allergy, good luck flying on an airplane in 1984 because peanut butter sandwiches were often given out for free for fliers!

8. “New Coke” 

New Coke
Image Credit: The Coca-Cola Company.

Due to Pepsi's ever-increasing popularity in the United States, Coca-Cola re-formulated its popular soda recipe and unleashed “New Coke” to the American public. Spoiler alert: It was terrible. New Coke was so bad that the company sheepishly reverted to its original recipe soon after release. 

9. Companies Frequently Tested on Animals

Lab Mouse, Animal Testing
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Animal rights activists are prevalent in 2023 – but not so much in the 1980s. Then, companies frequently tested countless consumer products on unsuspecting animals before being released. This is a terrible practice that was better left in the past. 

10. The U.S. Boycotted the Olympics

Olympic Rings
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

In 1980, relations between the United States and Russia were so explosive that the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics held in Moscow! Several other nations joined the American effort to shame Moscow after the Kremlin invaded Afghanistan, further adding tension to the Cold War. 

11. Spanking Children Was Accepted

Angry mother scolds child
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

While many parents still use spanking to discipline their children, it's considerably less prevalent in 2023 than in the 1980s. “Not only that physical punishment was the norm at home, but even some schools allowed it,” says one expert. “Today, spanking is a form of abuse, but in the 80s, it was a necessary disciplinary measure.”

12. No One Wore Bicycle Helmets

Couple riding bikes
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Some terrible things that happened in the 1980s are mind-boggling. Who thought allowing children – and adults, for that matter – to ride bicycles without a helmet was a good idea? It's shocking how safety measures have improved over the years, especially when kids are concerned.

13. Seat Belts Weren't Required To Be Worn

Woman putting on seatbelt
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Speaking of safety standards, riding in a car without putting on your seat belt in the 80s was common because no states mandated it. I don't get it – did drivers in the 80s have a death wish? Wearing a seat belt saves lives.  

Source: Reddit.