Pop Culture References in The Goldbergs – Baio and Switch


ABC's The Goldbergs is a love letter the 1980s and contains a veritable cornucopia of pop culture references and jokes about decade in each and every single episode. While it's next to impossible to list every single 1980s reference on The Goldbergs, we're going to run down some of each episode's geekier and more obscure pop culture moments. Please note that this column tries to cover only the "unique" references that appear in each episode, while passing on the posters, toys and other background pieces that appear in every episode and are irrelevant to the plot.


Hands Across America

Tonight's episode prominently featured the Hands Across America campaign, which took place in 1986 to raise money to fight poverty and homelessness. Participants across America held hands for approximately 10 minutes, with most participants donating $10 (or more) to reserve their spot in the chain. While the chain included many major cities in the United States, several states were entirely left out of the chain, sparking protests in the Pacific Northwest and New England.

As shown in the end teaser, Scott Baio actually participated in Hands Across America in Philadelphia, joining Jerry Lewis as the major celebrities for the event. Of course, Philadelphia had nothing on my hometown of Columbus, OH, whose designated celebrity was Michael J. Fox.

Time Bandits T-Shirt

Adam wears a t-shirt adorned with the familiar Time Bandits movie poster. Time Bandits was a crazy 1981 film written and directed by Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam about a young boy who discovers his bedroom closet leads to a passageway of time and space. As the boy travels to ancient Greece, Napoleonic France and the Titanic, he becomes caught in a struggle between an evil sorcerer (named Evil) and an omnipotent Supreme Being.

The movie was well received and was a moderate box office success, especially in North America. Clearly, Adam's a fan, as he also has a Time Bandits poster hanging in his room.


Scott Baio

Beverly foolishly promises that she's recruited Scott Baio for the local Hands Across America rally, leading to the usual shenanigans and hurt feelings when she fails to make good on her promises. A teen idol of the late 1970s, Scott Baio rose to fame as Chachi Arcola in Happy Days. Baio even earned his own spinoff, Joanie Loves Chachi, which lasted only one season. Baio spent much of the 1980s making "afterschool special" type television movies. He also appeared in the 1982 movie Zapped! as a teen pervert with psychic powers. Baio spent his later career guest-starring on various TV shows like Arrested Development (he played attorney Bob Loblaw) and appearing in various reality TV series.

The Terror Drome

Adam uses a Terror Drome playset while planning out his attempt to bring two girls to the same dance. The Terror Drome was the main headquarters for Cobra, and came with missiles, cannons, a jail (for GI Joe figures, of course) and a mini-jet. In Marvel's original GI Joe comics, the Terror Dromes were prefabricated headquarters sold to various nations for defense purposes. Since only Cobra personnel could operate the Terror Dromes, the evil organization used the buildings to build ties and infiltrate nations around the world.