The 80s was a decade that is not referred to as iconic loosely, as it birthed some of the most iconic trends in music, entertainment and pop culture. It was an era marked by the rise of consumerism and materialism, with the emergence of unforgettable staples such as neon-colored clothing, big hair and flashy accessories. The music scene exploded with diverse genres like pop, rock, hip-hop and new wave, further establishing legendary artists such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince. The entertainment industry experienced a golden age with blockbuster movies like Back to the Future, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and The Breakfast Club, as well as groundbreaking television shows like The Cosby Show and Miami Vice

Meanwhile, global politics were shaped by events such as the end of the Cold War and many challenges arising specifically amongst the Black community. However, many artists and activists were revolutionary for the ways they spoke out about these things. Other game changing facets of the 80s included the rise of MTV and music videos and the advent of personal computers and video games. Overall, the 1980s was a decade of bold fashion, dynamic cultural shifts and technological advancements that left an indelible mark on history. See how much you know about this iconic decade with this 80s trivia. 

Test Your 80s Trivia Knowledge With These Questions About the Decade’s Music

Who sang the hit song Super Freak in 1981?

  • Answer: Rick James

Which British band released the hit song Every Breath You Take in 1983?

  • Answer: The Police

What was Madonna’s first Billboard Hot 100 number one single?

  • Answer: Like a Virgin

Who sang the famous song Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go?

  • Answer: Wham!

Which 1987 Michael Jackson album featured the hit singles Smooth Criminal and The Way You Make Me Feel?

  • Answer: Bad

What is the name of the band known for hits like Sweet Child o’ Mine and Welcome to the Jungle?

  • Answer: Guns N’ Roses

What is the title of the song by Queen that features a powerful vocal performance by Freddie Mercury and is often performed at sporting events?

  • Answer: We Will Rock You

What is the name of the Irish rock band known for their hit song “With or Without You,” released in 1987?

  • Answer: U2

Who was known as the “King of Pop” and released the album Thriller in 1982, becoming the best-selling album of all time?

  • Answer: Michael Jackson

What was the name of the all-female group known for hits like Push It and Shoop in the late 80s and early 90s?

  • Answer: Salt-N-Pepa

Which hip-hop group released their debut album Straight Outta Compton in 1988, pioneering gangsta rap?

  • Answer: N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit Attitudes)

Who was the lead vocalist of the band The Commodores before embarking on a highly successful solo career in the 80s?

  • Answer: Lionel Richie

Which influential rap duo released the album Paid in Full  in 1987, featuring the hit single of the same name?

  • Answer: Eric B. & Rakim

What was the name of the group behind the hit song Rapper’s Delight, often credited as one of the first rap singles to become popular?

  • Answer: The Sugarhill Gang

Who was the female rapper that released the iconic diss-track Roxanne’s Revenge in 1984?

  • Answer: Roxanne Shanté

Which legendary singer-songwriter released the album Purple Rain in 1984, along with a film of the same name?

  • Answer: Prince

Who was the lead vocalist of the band Earth, Wind & Fire, known for his distinct falsetto voice and charismatic stage presence?

  • Answer: Philip Bailey

Which hip-hop duo released the album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back in 1988, known for its politically charged lyrics and dense production?

  • Answer: Public Enemy

Which singer-songwriter released the album Control in 1986, featuring hits like Nasty and What Have You Done for Me Lately?

  • Answer: Janet Jackson

Who was the lead vocalist of the band Parliament-Funkadelic, known for his flamboyant style and theatrical stage presence?

  • Answer: George Clinton

In the TV show The Cosby Show, what was the name of the character played by Bill Cosby, who was an obstetrician and the head of the Huxtable family?

  • Answer: Dr. Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable

Who directed the 1986 comedy film She’s Gotta Have It, which marked his feature film directorial debut and became a breakthrough in independent cinema?

  • Answer: Spike Lee

What was the name of the fictional college attended by the main characters in the TV show A Different World, a spin-off from The Cosby Show?

  • Answer: Hillman College

Which actor starred as Axel Foley, a street-smart Detroit cop, in the 1984 action-comedy film Beverly Hills Cop?

  • Answer: Eddie Murphy

Who was the creator and host of the music program Soul Train, which became one of the longest-running syndicated shows in television history, starting in the 70s and continuing into the 80s?

  • Answer: Don Cornelius

What was the name of the character played by Whoopi Goldberg in the 1985 film The Color Purple, directed by Steven Spielberg?

  • Answer: Celie Johnson

Who starred as Virgil Tibbs, a detective in a small Mississippi town, in the TV series adaptation of In the Heat of the Night, which aired from 1988 to 1995?

  • Answer: Howard Rollins

Which acclaimed director and screenwriter helmed the 1989 film Do the Right Thing, which explored racial tensions in a Brooklyn neighborhood on the hottest day of the summer?

  • Answer: Spike Lee

What was the name of the character played by Sherman Hemsley in the TV sitcom The Jeffersons, which aired from 1975 to 1985 and is one of the longest running sit-coms in history?

  • Answer: George Jefferson

In the TV show Family Matters, what was the name of the nerdy neighbor who frequently visited the Winslow family and became a central character in the series?

  • Answer: Steve Urkel

Which comedian starred in the 1988 film Coming to America, portraying multiple characters including an African prince who travels to Queens, New York, to find a wife?

  • Answer: Eddie Murphy

In the 1985 film Back to the Future, what is the name of the eccentric scientist who invents the time-traveling DeLorean?

  • Answer: Dr. Emmett Brown (Doc Brown)

Who played the iconic character Indiana Jones in the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark and its subsequent sequels?

  • Answer: Harrison Ford

Who directed the 1984 supernatural comedy film Ghostbusters, which follows a group of eccentric parapsychologists in New York City?

  • Answer: Ivan Reitman

In the TV show Miami Vice, what were the names of the two main characters who worked as undercover detectives for the Miami Police Department?

  • Answer: Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs

Which 1986 film directed by John Hughes features a group of high school students who spend a day in detention and discover they have more in common than they thought?

  • Answer: The Breakfast Club

Who played the role of Sarah Connor, a young woman targeted for termination by a cyborg assassin, in the 1984 science fiction film The Terminator?

  • Answer: Linda Hamilton

What was the name of the high school attended by the main characters in the TV show Saved by the Bell, which aired from 1989 to 1993?

  • Answer: Bayside High School

Which 1985 adventure film, directed by Richard Donner, follows a group of misfit kids who discover a treasure map and embark on a wild adventure?

  • Answer: The Goonies

Who directed the 1982 science fiction film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, about a young boy who befriends an alien stranded on Earth?

  • Answer: Steven Spielberg

80s Trivia Questions on Pop Culture and Historical Events of the Decade

Who was the President of the United States during most of the 1980s?

  • Answer: Ronald Reagan

What was the name of the space shuttle that exploded shortly after liftoff in 1986, resulting in the loss of all seven crew members?

  • Answer: Space Shuttle Challenger

Who was the first African American woman to be appointed to the United States Supreme Court, in 1981?

  • Answer: Sandra Day O’Connor

What was the name of the arcade video game released in 1980 that featured a yellow, circular character navigating through a maze, eating dots and avoiding ghosts?

  • Answer: Pac-Man

Who won the Super Bowl in 1985, famously known for their “Super Bowl Shuffle” rap song?

  • Answer: The Chicago Bears

Which British Prime Minister was known for her conservative policies and leadership during the 1980s?

  • Answer: Margaret Thatcher

Which African American athlete won a record-breaking nine gold medals in track and field events at the 1984 Summer Olympics?

  • Answer: Carl Lewis

Which iconic toy, featuring small, colorful plastic figurines with distinctive hairstyles, was a massive hit in the 1980s?

  • Answer: Cabbage Patch Kids

Who was the first African American woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress, for her role in the 1982 film Monster’s Ball?

  • Answer: Halle Berry

In 1981, which music video network launched, revolutionizing the way people discovered and consumed music?

  • Answer: MTV 

What was the name of the catastrophic nuclear accident that occurred in 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine?

  • Answer: The Chernobyl disaster

Which iconic toy line, featuring small, colorful, anthropomorphic creatures, became a cultural phenomenon in the mid-1980s?

  • Answer: The Care Bears

Who was the first American female astronaut to travel into space in 1983?

  • Answer: Sally Ride

What was the name of the virus that caused a global outbreak of illness in the 1980s, primarily affecting the immune system?

  • Answer: HIV/AIDS

Which major sporting event was held in Los Angeles in 1984, marking the first time since 1932 that the city hosted the games?

  • Answer: The 1984 Summer Olympics

In 1984, which African American woman became the first to win the Miss America title?

  • Answer: Vanessa Williams

Who was the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded in 1993 for her novels exploring African American culture?

  • Answer: Toni Morrison

In 1989, which event marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War?

  • Answer: Fall of the Berlin Wall

Which popular arcade game, introduced in 1980, featured a character named Mario jumping over obstacles to save a princess?

  • Answer: Donkey Kong

In 1985, which charity supergroup released the song “We Are the World” to raise funds for famine relief in Africa?

  • Answer: USA for Africa

What was the name of the popular handheld gaming device released by Nintendo in the 1980s, featuring interchangeable cartridges and a revolutionary directional pad?

  • Answer: Nintendo Game Boy

What was the name of the portable music player introduced by Sony in 1979 and became widely popular in the 1980s, allowing users to listen to cassette tapes on the go?

  • Answer: Sony Walkman

Which iconic hairstyle of the 1980s involved cutting the hair short on the sides/top and leaving it long and voluminous in the back, often styled with gel or mousse to achieve height and volume?

  • Answer: The mullet

What was the name of the fitness craze that became popular in the 1980s, characterized by high-energy exercise routines set to upbeat music?

  • Answer: Aerobics

What was the name of the toy line introduced by Hasbro in the 1980s, featuring small, colorful ponies with long, brushable hair and cutie marks on their sides?

  • Answer: My Little Pony

Which iconic fashion trend of the 1980s involved wearing oversized, brightly colored blazers with padded shoulders?

  • Answer: Power suits

What was the name of the colorful plastic jewelry, often in geometric shapes and neon colors, that became a fashion trend in the 1980s?

  • Answer: Jelly bracelets

In the 80s, what type of jeans became major denim trends? 

  • Answer: Acid-washed, high-waisted, tapered leg and/or mom jeans

What iconic toy, introduced in the 1980s, consisted of small, colorful plastic bricks that could be interlocked to build various structures?

  • Answer: LEGO