The Golden Girls taught us that being old is about more than just sitting around.

Though everyone knows getting old is about taking more pills, watching Fox News, and going to bed at 6:30 p.m., certain movies and TV showswould like us to convince us otherwise. Take The Golden Girls, which debuted 30 years ago today. In that show, four elderly women live together in Florida—which is where old people live—yet they spend a good amount of time not only eating cheesecake but also getting busy. And while certain recent estimates might be a bit generous in terms of just how frisky the women were, by any reckoning those ladies did pretty well for themselves. You go, Rose Nylund.

Casual sex is just one way the media wants us to use our respective retirements, assuming we ever get them. So here’s a menu of pop-culture-approved activities for your golden years, from avenging your best friend’s death to teaching an inappropriately young man how to love.

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1. Float your home to the Amazon with a ton of balloons (Up)

When retiree Carl Fredrickson is ordered to abandon his house and move to a retirement facility, he takes creative action to save the home where he spent a happy life with his late wife. As the overly cheery retirement workers come to collect him, Carl feigns acceptance, saying he wants to say one last goodbye to the old place. Instead of bidding farewell to his youth, though, Carl unleashes an enormous mass of balloons through the chimney, whisking his home away from the startled retirement home employees and on a journey to the Amazon, which he and his wife always fantasized about visiting. “I’ll send you a postcard from Paradise Falls!” he calls out the window of his rapidly ascending house. The scheme doesn’t go exactly as planned, but it is the start of a whole new adventure for his twilight years. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

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2. Hook up with someone much, much younger (Last Vegas, Something’s Gotta Give, and more)

It’s a trope as old as time: Old men, in an attempt to recapture their vitality, hook up with younger women. Hilarity and sometimes awkwardly parented children ensue, especially in recent movies, when everyone from Michael Douglas to Jack Nicholson has been cruising for some under-30 tail. Other than the inherently sexist and ageist reasons, why not? Despite their wrinkles and proclivity toward Viagra, old guys can still have kids and some, like Douglas’ character in Last Vegas, are even filthy rich. [Marah Eakin]

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3. Curse your way through the cemetery (Nebraska)

Kate Grant (June Squibb)—the cantankerous wife of Woody (Bruce Dern), an addled old man who believes he’s won the lottery in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska—isn’t shy about making her opinions known, nor does she hesitate to speak ill of the dead. When visiting their hometown, Kate, Woody, and their son David (Will Forte) make a stop in the local cemetery, where Kate leads an unofficial tour of family and acquaintances, including details on who she considered whores, lechers, or just generally unattractive. Though the movie never explicitly says whether Kate has always been this forthright, it’s easy to imagine her combination of crankiness and spunkiness becoming less inhibited post-retirement. Kate mentions a former career at a beauty salon, and her casual cemetery takedowns are the logical endpoint of a life steeped in small-town gossip. [Jesse Hassenger]

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4. Avenge your best friend’s death (Harry Brown)

Kids these days. Sometimes all you want to do is spend a peaceful retirement in a semi-shabby London housing estate, only to have your best pal killed by some rabid drug-dealing teens. When this happens to Michael Caine’s Harry Brown in the film of the same name, this turn of events leads him to cash in on his past with the Royal Marines as he attempts to exact bloody vengeance. Emphysema be damned, Brown is determined to clean up his ’hood and see justice served. Through well-placed knife work, the use of an illicit gun, and some reasonably shady police dealings, he does just that, proving himself to be both a badass and a bit of a psychopath. [Marah Eakin]

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5. Devote yourself to fixing all your family’s problems via intense KFC product placement (Around The Bend)

Exhibit A among the many, many proofs that Michael Caine never says no to a role: his thankless part in the witless family drama Around The Bend, which attempts to do for KFC what Mac And Me did for McDonald’s—namely, make people boggle at the brazenness of the product placement. Caine plays a retiree who wants to heal the broken bonds between his ne’er-do-well son (Christopher Walken) and touchy adult grandson (Josh Lucas), on behalf of his wide-eyed great-grandson (Jonah Bobo). So he organizes a family road trip for the three of them, consisting of cross-country journeys from one KFC to another, following instructions Caine’s character stuffed into a series of KFC bags… before dropping dead at a KFC. Moral: Family bonds are the most important thing in the world. More significant moral: If you’re gonna sell out, make sure KFC pays you really well. [Tasha Robinson]

6. Move your dog and your favorite chair into your son’s high-end condo (Frasier)

Unable to live on his own after taking a bullet to the hip, widowed ex-cop Martin Crane (John Mahoney) moves in with his snobby psychiatrist son, bringing his beat-up recliner and his precocious Jack Russell terrier with him. That’s the premise of Frasier’s pilot, though over the show’s long run Martin become less hobbled than he appeared at first (thanks to Daphne Moon’s years of in-home rehab work, no doubt). Matin finds a life outside of his chair as he enjoys an active dating life, takes on freelance P.I. work, moonlights as a security guard, and cracks a major cold case. Frasier’s writers often danced around the fact that this highly capable 60-something probably didn’t require the full-time assistance of a live-in physical therapist, before embracing it in the show’s final season: After 11 years of farcical misunderstandings, Martin remarries and begins a new life outside his son’s condo. [Evan Rytlewski]

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7. Play a children’s game with your friends until you’re all younger versions of yourselves (The Twilight Zone and Twilight Zone: The Movie)

“Time Out” and “Kick The Can” have always been the black-sheep segments of Twilight Zone: The Movie—the first because three people died on set and the second because director Steven Spielberg relied on sentimentality more than horror. That’s not to say the original TV incarnation of “Kick The Can” was outright scary, but its conclusion was downtrodden and rooted in the more depressing qualities of aging. The remake, on the other hand, has an everybody-wins mentality, leaving every character—the seniors who become younger by playing a children’s game as well as the one skeptic among them who refuses to engage—in a happier place at the ending. No matter their outlook, each of Spielberg’s senior citizens is lovable, one-note, and just plain magical—a far cry from the reality of growing old and the general complexity of being a human being. [Dan Caffrey]

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8. Develop a heroin habit (Little Miss Sunshine)

When (and if) you make it to retirement, there’s no more time to screw around. You could pass your final days watching Matlock with an afghan on your lap, or you could seize the opportunity to try the things you couldn’t when you were a productive member of society with a job and responsibilities. Alan Arkin’s Grandpa Edwin from Little Miss Sunshine gets it, and has decided to live his twilight years on the edge. When it’s revealed that Grandpa Edwin was kicked out of his most recent retirement home for snorting heroin, he tells his grandson not to do drugs, because “when you’re you’re young, you’re crazy to do that stuff.” Asked what the difference is, he replies, “I’m old! When you get old, you’re crazy not to do it.” What’s it going to do, kill him? [Katie Rife]

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9. Fight an undead Egyptian demon (Bubba Ho-Tep)

Hail to the King, baby—no, not that king. We’re talking about Elvis, the King Of Rock And Roll. Played by Bruce Campbell, the story in Bubba Ho-Tep goes that he switched places, decades ago, with an Elvis impersonator. After breaking his hip falling off a stage, he’s been reduced to whiling away the hours in a ramshackle retirement home, lonely and bored. That is, until an Egyptian creature begins stealing the lives of his fellow seniors, and the wearer of those blue suede shoes finds renewed purpose. He teams up with Ossie Davis’ Jack (who’s supposedly the real JFK) to lay down some jailhouse rock-style hurt on an ancient evil. The results are proof of both Elvis’ vitality and the need for something more than checkers to while away the golden years. [Alex McCown]

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10. Get involved in an affluent Upper West Side satanic cult (Rosemary’s Baby)

What better way to stay motivated than by joining a psychotic satanic cult bent on rearing Satan’s spawn? Consider the benefits of the occult lifestyle, exhibited by Rosemary’s (Mia Farrow) swinging senior neighbors Minnie (Ruth Gordon) and Roman Castevet (Sidney Blackmer). Their swanky digs are the epicenter of the Upper West Side’s social and economic elite. Whether hosting lavish, black-tie New Year’s Eve parties or intimate dinners, it’s only the finest New York strips and overflowing vodka blushes for the Castevets and their guests. Pharmacist screw up your prescription? Don’t like the looks of those teenagers? Turn those fuckers blind with satanic spells! There’s no need to suffer a waning libido or erectile dysfunction when Minnie can easily fix that with an herbal potency drink. While those other retiree suckers are baking in the Florida heat, these people will relinquish their eternal souls in exchange for a classy orgy with good friends. It’s one hell of a lifestyle. [Drew Fortune]

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11. Ride a lawnmower on a 240-mile trip to mend ties with your estranged brother (The Straight Story)

After four consecutive movies about depraved sex and unspeakable violence—including one about a teenager repeatedly raped by her demonically possessed father—David Lynch made the most surprising film of his career: a gentle, G-rated Disney movie about an old man on a road trip. The Straight Story follows Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth), a legally blind World War II veteran, on his improbable six-week drive through the Midwest atop a John Deere riding mower as he seeks to bury the hatchet with his ailing brother. Along the way he encounters not murderers, rapists, or ghoulish embodiments of evil, but kind, salt-of-the-earth people who respond to his quiet wisdom with warmth and appreciation. [Evan Rytlewski]

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12. Ditch your upcoming fishing trip so you can hunt down a child-murderer (The Pledge)

Jack Nicholson plays a detective on the brink of retiring in Sean Penn’s The Pledge, but anyone expecting a wily whodunit is in for a rude awakening. The film, based on a more meta-fictional Swiss novel of the same name, is less of a procedural than a character study about obsession. When the farewell party for Jerry Black (Nicholson) is interrupted by the discovery of a murdered child, Black’s forthcoming retirement, fishing trip, and pretty much everything else in his life become afterthoughts. That’s the tragedy of The Pledge. Even when presented with people and places that could lead to actual enjoyment of his twilight years—a lakeside property, potential love interest, and a surrogate daughter—Black, however subconsciously, uses them as tools to find a killer who very well may never be found. Retirement never felt so bleak. [Dan Caffrey]

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13. Discover alien pods that grant you a new lease on life (Cocoon)

Retirement is all about opportunity. It’s important to find new reasons to get out of bed in the morning. You might take up a new hobby like painting or gardening or volunteer at your local library. Or, if you’re a character played by Wilford Brimley, Don Ameche, or Hume Cronyn, you can stumble over a swimming pool full of ancient alien cocoons whose life force gives you the energy of a younger man. Sure, it means having to deal with Steve Guttenberg at the peak of his ’80s smarminess, but if you can endure that, not only will you have a little more spring in your step, there’s even a chance the aliens will offer you a free pass to their own version of a “retirement community,” one without suffering, tedium, or even death. [Zack Handlen]

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14. Mentor your replacement (Star Wars, Batman Beyond, Bull Durham, A League Of Their Own, Kingpin, Creed)

After you’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge over a long career, what better way to have a fulfilling retirement than to pass that knowledge along to the next generation? Mentoring a young replacement can do more than bring your career full circle. You can take care of unfinished business, like Bruce Wayne, recruiting young Terry McGinnis to take up the mantle of Batman and continue his war on crime. You could return a long-owed favor, like Rocky Balboa training the grandson of his rival-turned-trainer, Apollo Creed, in an attempt to recapture faded glory (and rejuvenate a long-in-the-tooth franchise). Or you can try to give young upstarts a shot at the glory you missed out on, whether you’re journeyman catcher Crash Davis (Bull Durham), alcoholic baseball manager Jimmy Dugan (A League Of Their Own), or one-handed renegade bowler Roy Munson (Kingpin). Or, on the outside chance that you were forced into retirement after a former protégé murdered nearly all of your former colleagues and ushered in a totalitarian state, you could spend a long retirement as a desert hermit, hoping you can encourage your wayward pupil’s kid to grow up and fix all of your mistakes by becoming a magical space wizard, just like the AARP suggests. [Mike Vago]

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15. Cash out, buy a Winnebago, drive the open roads—avoiding Vegas, preferably (Lost In America)

What to do when your lucrative executive gig fails you? Well, if you’re massively self-involved Albert Brooks (or, you know, Albert Brooks), you convince wife Julie Hagerty to cash out with you, buy an RV and an inviolable “nest egg” of traveler’s checks, and set out to cruise the highways of America in your Easy Rider-inspired quest to live free and “touch Indians.” But you would be wise not to stop off for one last night of hotel sex in Vegas, especially if you catch a glimpse of long-repressed gambling fever in your wife’s eyes. For Brooks’ David Howard, the dream of a cozy, ill-defined early retirement goes about as well as expected. But, even though he ends up right back where he started (at a significantly reduced salary), it’s hard not to admire the guy, especially when his grandiose self-delusion is so hilarious. [Dennis Perkins]

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16. Go to space with your old pilot friends (Space Cowboys)

After a life spent as a test pilot for the U.S. Air Force, it’s easy to see why Clint Eastwood’s Frank Corvin would want something different out of his retirement. When the opportunity arises to get his old crew back together (Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner), the four are offered the chance to go to space, something they were denied in their high-flying days. Getting to spend their golden years together in zero gravity fixing an old Soviet satellite proves to be far better than a weekend fishing trip, even if some rogue missiles end up disturbing their otherwise peaceful plans. [David Anthony]

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17. Deal coke (Atlantic City)

You don’t see a lot of movies about what gangsters do when they retire, since most of them either spend their golden years staring at the inside of a jail cell or, more likely, don’t manage to live long enough to see retirement, but Lou (Burt Lancaster) has managed to reach a point in his life where his worst sin is running numbers in Atlantic City. That all changes as a result of his longstanding crush on a waitress named Sally (Susan Sarandon), whose estranged husband convinces Lou to help him sell some cocaine he’s stolen from some mobsters in Philadelphia. Although Sally’s husband is promptly killed by the mobsters in question, Lou—who’s lived a life filled with rackets, whoring, and guns—barely bats an eye before realizing that he might be able to make time with the newly single Sally if he starts selling the drugs himself. Sadly, things don’t pan out quite like he’d hoped in the romance department, but on the other hand, his new profession works out well, so it’s not a complete loss for Lou. [Will Harris]

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18. Plan one last caper with three other retired mobsters so you can save your apartment (The Crew)

One sub-theme of The Sopranos was how aging gangsters like Junior, Feech La Manna, and, most notably, Paulie Walnuts dealt with the existential dread of growing old, inept, and eventually dead. Those in search of something tonally opposite should check out 2000’s lightweight wiseguy comedy, The Crew. For the mobsters played by Richard Dreyfuss, Burt Reynolds, Dan Hedaya, and Seymour Cassel, getting old means achy joints, jokes about their dwindling libidos, and arguing with other senior citizens about Jell-O. Their hijinks feel relatively harmless, even as they attempt to stage a murder in an effort to score some cash for their recently spiked rent. The movie is rife with defanged gangster clichés, slapstick humor, and plenty of mugging. But actual laughs? Fuhgeddaboudit. [Dan Caffrey]

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19. Teach a young boy how to love life, then give it up (Harold And Maude)

Hal Ashby’s unconventional 1971 version of a rom-com is exactly the kind of movie people are referencing when they say, “They can’t make them like that anymore.” Nothing about it would make it past nervous studio flacks today. First there’s rich, depressed, 19-year-old Harold (Bud Cort), who’s obsessed with death and keeps staging dramatic suicide tableaux. Then there’s his romantic relationship with 79-year-old Maude (Ruth Gordon), who isn’t too old for a fling with a soft-faced boy. The film is undeniably life-affirming and quirky, as the two characters swap roles, with Maude teaching Harold to express himself in less morbid ways while she waits for her own death. Their story is blanketed with bittersweet Cat Stevens songs, and it’s a memorable and moving film, but mostly it suggests that septuagenarians shouldn’t settle for taking up knitting and tending their cats when they could be teaching the younger generation how to sing, play banjo, love life, have fun, and get it on. [Tasha Robinson]

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20. Write complaint letters about depictions of the elderly in the media (The Simpsons)

Abraham Simpson, father of Homer and grandfather to Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, has plenty of retirement activity (and inactivity) to go around: incompetent babysitting, cooking up sex medicine, and cat-burglar-catching, among others. But one of his most valuable undertakings is a retirement classic, easily reproducible for anyone of the correct age: making his cranky views known through ineffective letter-writing. In early episodes of The Simpsons, Abe could often be seen at his typewriter, complaining about the issues of the day, and it’s particularly informative when, in the first-season episode “Bart The General,” Abe writes to inform advertisers of his disgust with depictions of the elderly on television. “We are not all vibrant, fun-loving sex maniacs,” Abe notes. “Many of us are bitter, resentful individuals who remember the good old days when entertainment was bland and inoffensive.” He concludes with a list of words he wants banned from the airwaves: “bra,” “horny,” and “family jewels” all make the cut. Abe’s rant functions as a rebuke to the irresponsible media-fed notion that old people might defy expectations and stereotypes as they continue to age. [Jesse Hassenger]

21. Move in with a bunch of your divorced or widowed pals (The Golden Girls, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and more)

What’s the point of being old if you don’t have anyone to complain about it with? That’s the theory behind everything from The Golden Girls to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movies, all of which basically operate on the premise that, hey, if you’re going to ease toward death, you might as well do it with other similarly aged people. Things can get both fun and sexy, and it’s always a great way to remind people (people watching movies and TV, at least…) that just because you’re old doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. [Marah Eakin]

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22. Play magical Christ figure to another culture while still being a huge racist (Gran Torino)

Clint Eastwood’s strange 2008 drama Gran Torino is practically designed to mess with the heads of people on both sides of the liberal/conservative divide: He directs the film as an elegiac version of his Dirty Harry movies, a grim lullaby for a gun-toting tough guy who’s watched the world pass him by. Not only does he play a growly old man who at one point literally orders some kids to get off his lawn, he also plays an unrepentant racist who refers to his Hmong neighbors as “gooks” and “zipperheads”—when he isn’t defending them from marauding gangs or willingly learning more about their culture. He’s a hate-crime hero. He spits epithets about pretty much every race, ethnicity, and stereotype he can think of, but he also lays his life on the line to protect some of the people he verbally abuses. And he wraps it all up with a piece of crucifixion imagery so blatant that no one can miss how he feels about his character. Clearly Eastwood doesn’t feel the character should spend his retirement trying to broaden his horizons, but at least he can put his gunnery skills to good use while keeping them narrow. [Tasha Robinson]

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23. Apply your lifetime of experience to a new field (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul)

Some people are only happy if they’re working. For these industrious types, retirement is merely a gateway to a second career. That’s what happens to Philadelphia cop Mike Ehrmantraut. After a hasty retirement from the police force, Mike just wants to enjoy his retirement in sunny Albuquerque, enjoying the desert air and quality time with his granddaughter. But not everyone’s cut out for a quiet retirement job validating parking. It’s only a matter of time before Mike’s back in a dangerous line of work, as regular encounters with shady lawyer Saul Goodman mean he’s inevitably drawn into a new career that puts his old skills to use: snooping, threatening, occasionally murdering, and helping the wheels of a drug empire run smoothly. Why let all of those valuable skills to go waste? [Mike Vago]

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24. Rob a bank (Going In Style)

The idea of a work-free existence where you can do whatever you want seems like a pretty sweet deal on the surface. But if you only have just enough money to get by, then you generally end up sitting around doing nothing, which is exactly the sad routine that afflicts Going In Style’s retirees, Joe, Al, and Willie—played by George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg, respectively. Then Joe spontaneously asks his pals, “How would you guys like to go on a stick-up?” Although it seems a ludicrous concept, the mere notion of having something to do for a change inspires the trio to plot out how they’d pull off a heist, and two days later, wearing Groucho glasses and armed with guns surreptitiously borrowed from Al’s nephew, they walk out the local bank $35,000 richer than they started. Unfortunately, the aftermath immediately goes downhill, but there’s no question that the caper at least offers these retirees some needed excitement. [Will Harris]

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25. Get betrayed by your government, blow up everything in sight (RED)

The whole point of RED is that its primary characters—a group of aged-out international spies played by Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, and Morgan Freeman—are “retired, extremely dangerous.” Hence the acronym title. But they’re pretty much ready to settle for “retired, extremely bored” until a hit squad comes to rub out Willis’ character, and the whole crew decides to kill their way toward an answer. Never mind that some of the actors hadn’t actually hit retirement age when the film came out: In Hollywood, anything past 24 is considered elderly enough to be put out to pasture. RED just makes a lot of jokes about the old-timers’ willingness to blow up that pasture—and stick it to the current crop of rowdy spy kids who think youth makes them better able to handle heavy weaponry and high explosives. [Tasha Robinson]

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26. Live off of—and possibly get killed by—the U.S. Government (My Fellow Americans)

As jobs go, being the leader of the free world is certainly no picnic, but once you’ve gotten out of office, you’re pretty much set for life, earning a generous pension along with a variety of other benefits—and that’s not even counting lucrative speaking-engagement cash. Former commanders-in-chief Russell Kramer (Jack Lemmon) and Matt Douglas (James Garner) are shown reaping a variety of these rewards—thank you, American taxpayers!—but they also find themselves framed by President William Haney (Dan Aykroyd), Kramer’s former veep, and accused of bribery. When they figure out who’s responsible for their plight, they end up in the sights of an NSA agent who’s loyal to Haney and unafraid to kill them to keep them quiet. Hey, at least it’s more exciting than shuffleboard. [Will Harris]

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