The present paper examines the extant literature on the reminiscence bump for public events (the finding that public events are generally remembered best by those in adolescence or early adulthood at the time of their occurrence), with the aim of identifying (i) whether this bump in fact represents a legitimate effect, and (ii) the alternative age distributions that are otherwise seen in recall for public events. I conclude that, though the bump is frequently found, the legitimacy of the effect is contingent upon the strictness of the standard one employs. I also find significant exceptions to the bump, with a number of alternative age distributions seen in the literature. Therefore, I present a taxonomy of these alternative age distributions. Lastly, I discuss the implications of the existing literature regarding the mechanisms underlying the bump and offer suggestions for future research. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.