Here’s a different kind of throwback for you. Depending on your age, you either remember these well, or are about to experience a truly WTF moment. Back in the day, public service announcements (PSAs) were on a whole other level, and were trying to scare the crap out of people. Because of that, we have some truly unforgettable Gen X PSAs.

Who is Gen X?

Just a little refresher. Generation X is the demographic of people following baby boomers and preceding millennials. The generation is defined as being people born from 1965 to 1980.  They’re also known as Gen X, the baby bust generation, the MTV Generation, or the “middle child” generation. Gen X has fewer members that the generations before or after it, which is one of the reasons that they’re considered to be the forgotten or overlooked generation.

Generation X Characteristics

Gen Xers are known to be independent, resourceful, adaptable, and have a strong sense of self-reliance. They likely value a work-life balance, are skeptical of authority, and may often see work as just “a job to get done.” Those born in the later years of the range, tend to be tech savvy. They grew up in the beginning of personal computers and technology.

The Origins Gen X PSAs

So how exactly did these Gen X PSAs come about? Well, there were these things called Afterschool Specials. They were shows that started in the early 70’s when ABC executives realized that while they had a lot of content for adults in the daytime and primetime. They also had cartoons for kids on Saturday morning. But there was very little content made especially for teenagers and pre-teens. The shows aired on Wednesdays at 4pm, hence the name Afterschool Specials. And let me tell you, the names of these were hilarious. We had: Me and My Hormones, Me and Dad’s New Wife, and the uber-relatable It Must Be Love Cause I Feel So Dumb. Because of the issues raised in the Afterschool Specials, television also felt the need to warn young people about the dangers of life. The result, Gen X PSAs. Enjoy!





  • Father confronts son about drug use

    Created by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, this 1987 PSA had the tagline, “Parents who use drugs, have children who use drugs.” I mean, will you ever forget the kid yelling, “You, I learned it by watching you!”

  • This is your brain on drugs

    A warning for anyone who does drugs and needed a visual. Any questions?

  • She-Ra and He-Man warning to protect your body

    Don’t remember this one, but definitely an important message. Something still feels weird about it though. Hopefully it helped any child who needed help.

  • Drink, Drive, Die

    This one went straight for the jugular with the simple message that if you drink, you drive, you die. Brought to you by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

  • "Only you can prevent forest fires"

    Going camping? Put out that fire! Smokey the Bear and the Wartime Advertising Council reminded us that “only you can prevent forest fires.” 

  • Stranger Danger

    McGruff the Crime Dog reminded us not to talk to strangers. The message came from the Crime Prevention Coalition and the Ad Council, and reminded us to “take a bite out of crime.”

  • "Cracked Up" from McDonalds and Michael Jordan

    This anti-drug PSA was brought to you by McDonalds. It was released as part of a larger program (The TV movie “Cracked Up”)

  • "Give a hoot, don't pollute!"

    Woodsy Owl warned us of the dangers of pollution. He wanted us to “give a hoot.”

  • Pee Wee warns us that "The thrill can kill"

    Pee Wee Herman gets serious and warned kids about the dangers of crack. And even pulled out a vial of crack. RIP Pee Wee.

  • Respect teachers - The More You Know

    Teachers are having to deal with a lot. 227s Marla Gibbs remind us to respect our teachers.

  • Mr. T says "Just Say No"

    The iconic Mr. T with the anti-drug PSA.

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