The ultimate '80s quiz

From New Coke to Al Capone's vault to Phoebe Cates, test your knowledge of the '80s

Originally Published: July 7, 2009
By Patrick Hruby | Special to Page 2

Maybe you lived through the 1980s. Or maybe you've just watched a lot of John Hughes movies and VH1. Either way, put your knowledge of the decade that brought us the Ewoks and Teddy Ruxpin to the test with our decade-in-review quiz.

1. Who shot J.R.?

(a) Kristin Shepard
(b) John Hinckley Jr.
(c) Alfalfa
(d) Hey, if J.R. Reid could actually shoot, he might not have ended up playing in Spain

2. A Rubik's Cube can be solved in:

(a) Less than 100 moves
(b) The time it takes to peel and reapply the stickers

3. Which of the following was NOT all just a bad dream?

(a) Bobby Ewing's murder
(b) The series run of "Newhart"
(c) New Coke

4. Who uttered the catchphrase "Where's the Beef?"

(a) Clara Peller in a Wendy's commercial
(b) Walter Mondale to Gary Hart
(c) A and B
(d) Green Bay Packers officials after drafting Tony Mandarich

5. Which of the following owes the most to anabolic steroids?

(a) Jose Canseco's 1988 AL MVP award
(b) The Boz
(c) Ben Johnson winning the 100 meters at the Seoul Olympics
(d) The handshake between Dutch and Dillon in "Predator"
(e) All of the above

6. Match the items in column A with their 1980s rivals in column B:

7. "The Empire Strikes Back" was:

(a) Written by George Lucas
(b) Directed by George Lucas
(c) Widely considered the best "Star Wars" movie
(d) Just c

8. The expression "Just Say No" refers to:

(a) The script for "Shanghai Surprise"
(b) Flock of Seagulls hair
(c) Stonewashed jeans
(d) Ratt
(e) "Rappin' Fats" Piscopo
(f) None of the above

9. Who was the lead singer for Men at Work?

(a) Paul Hogan
(b) Yahoo Serious
(c) I give up

10. Cocaine played a prominent role in which of the following? (Check all that apply.)

(a) Lawrence Taylor's NFL suspension
(b) Villanova's Gary McLain visiting the White House
(c) Roy Tarpley's NBA career
(d) Conception, planning and wardrobe selection for the 1986 Los Angeles Dodgers' "Baseball Boogie" video

11. Why did the United States invade the Caribbean nation of Grenada in 1983?

(a) Put down military coup, rescue American medical students
(b) Island rumored to have new shipment of Cabbage Patch dolls

12. Match the 1980s item in column A with the modern convenience it most could have used in column B:

13. The 1985 Chicago Bears were:

(a) Here to start trouble
(b) None of the above

14. Bud Bowl I ended with:

(a) A drive-killing quarterback sack by The Freezer
(b) A touchdown run by one of the Beechwood Backs
(c) A game-winning 42-yard field goal from Budsky, the seven-ounce nip bottle place-kicker
(d) Vomiting

15. Which of the following individuals was NOT a resident of Smurf Village?

(a) Handy
(b) Brainy
(c) Sleepy
(d) Emmanuel Lewis

16. Which of the following 1980s weddings was fictional?

(a) Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley
(b) Ric Ocasek and Paulina Porizkova
(c) Luke and Laura

17. Which of the following benefited MOST from the Soviet boycott of the 1984 Summer Games?

(a) Mary Lou Retton
(b) The ancient art of Gymkata
(c) Anyone hungry for a free Big Mac
(d) All of the above

18. Match the 1980s misfortune in column A with the cause in column B:

19. Which of the following was cited in a 1985 National Transportation Safety Board study as a leading cause of reducing traffic accidents?

(a) Baby on Board stickers
(b) None of the above

20. In the opening scene of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," Indiana Jones narrowly escapes:

(a) A giant boulder rolling downhill
(b) The eruption of Mount St. Helens
(c) Doing the Safety Dance
(d) An avalanche of unsold copies of "E.T.: The video game"

21. Which of the following was the basis of a hit 1980s television show?

(a) Wisecracking, big-nosed puppet from outer space lives in suburban family's laundry hamper
(b) Brooding doofus teams with talking car to fight crime
(c) Two men dress in drag to live in dirt-cheap, women-only apartment building
(d) All of the above
(e) No, seriously, all of the above

22. A 1988 Miami-Notre Dame football game was:

(a) Dubbed "Catholics vs. Convicts"
(b) Actually relevant

23. The Cobra Kai dojo was notorious for:

(a) Sweeping the leg
(b) Forcing opponents to watch "The Ewok Adventure"

24. Which of the following items could you afford to purchase with the damages awarded the USFL following its antitrust suit against the NFL?

(a) A Chia pet
(b) A single matinee movie ticket, with the senior discount applied
(c) Two dollar-menu fast-food cheeseburgers
(d) None of the above

25. Match the 1980s items in column A with their contemporary equivalents in
column B:

26. The economic recession of 1981-82 was caused by:

(a) Contractionary monetary policy
(b) Massive inflation due to money for nothing, free chicks

27. Which of the following MOST contributed to the dissolution of the Soviet Union?

(a) Knockout of Ivan Drago
(b) U.S. Air Force ability to pour in-flight soft drinks upside down
(c) Wolverines!
(d) All of the above

28. What did Geraldo find in Al Capone's vault?

(a) Cold fusion
(b) Bobby McFerrin's contract with Lucifer
(c) The same thing that came between Brooke Shields and her Calvins

29. A 1980s actor was MOST likely to get slimed on the set of:

(a) Ghostbusters
(b) Double Dare
(c) Wall Street
(d) All of the above

30. Which of the following was reportedly NOT a 1980s CIA program?

(a) Supplying Stinger missiles to Afghan insurgents
(b) Helping place mines in Nicaraguan harbors
(c) Sending arms to Iran in exchange for hostages
(d) Clandestine stakeout of Rockwell

31. Match the 1980s items from column A with their partners in column B:


32. David Caruso : "Jade"

(a) Tom Selleck : "Her Alibi"
(b) Shelley Long : "Troop Beverly Hills"
(c) Don Johnson : "Dead Bang"
(d) All of the above

33. Chicago Bears : New England Patriots

(a) Washington Redskins : Denver Broncos
(b) Mike Tyson : Leon Spinks
(c) Video : the Radio Star
(d) All of the above

34. Phoebe Cates : Swimming pool/red bikini

(a) Timmy Smith : Super Bowl XXII
(b) Kenny Walker : 1989 NBA slam-dunk contest
(c) Joe Charboneau : 1980 MLB season
(d) All of the above


35. Which of the following events are probably just coincidental?

(a) 1970s U.S. economic abandonment of gold standard
(b) 1980s emergence of Mr. T
(c) All of the above

36. Who famously said "we begin bombing in five minutes?"

(a) Ronald Reagan, while joking into a live microphone
(b) Director Michael Cimino, at the premiere of "Heaven's Gate"

37. Which of the following was NOT listed among nation's best-paying jobs in 1983-84?

(a) Doctor
(b) Lawyer
(c) Investment banker
(d) SMU football recruit

38. Which of the following 1980s casting choices is made up?

(a) Orson Welles as Unicron in "Transformers: The Movie"
(b) George Clooney as Jo's boyfriend in "Facts of Life"
(c) George Michael as a ladies' man in the "I Want Your Sex" video
(d) None of the above

39. Which of the following nations had the most profound influence on 1980s American dance?

(a) Egypt

40. Match the 1980s accomplishments in column A with the person who achieved them in column B:

Answer key: 1, a; 2, a-b; 3, c; 4, c; 5, e; 6: 1-d, 2-g, 3-j, 4-a, 5-f, 6-k, 7-b, 8-l, 9-e, 10-i, 11-c, 12-h; 7, c-d; 8, f; 9, c; 10; a-c; 11, a; 12: 1-b, 2-d, 3-f, 4-g, 5-i, 6-j, 7-h, 8-a, 9-e, 10-c; 13, b; 14, c; 15, d; 16, c; 17, d; 18: 1-c, 2-e, 3-h, 4-f, 5-b, 6-j, 7-g, 8-a, 9-d, 10-i; 19, b; 20, a; 21, d-e; 22, a-b; 23, a; 24, d; 25: 1-d, 2-g, 3-b, 4-i, 5-c, 6-j, 7-e, 8-a, 9-h, 10-f; 26, a; 27, d; 28, c; 29, d; 30, d; 31: 1-i, 2-c, 3-e, 4-h, 5-a, 6-g, 7-j, 8-f, 9-b, 10-d; 32-34, d; 35, c; 36, a; 37, d; 38, d; 39, a; 40, only Bo knows