Created By: dogwolfman on May 29, 2012 Last Edited By: frogswim on August 24, 2012

the past begins two decades ago

Stories about how different the past is are set at least two decades before the present

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this is basically how if you want to do say.... a fish out of water time travel story you've got to set it at least over a curtain amount of time in the past which seems to be between 20 and 30 years.

This is presumably because between 20 to 30 years is the minimum amount of time it takes 1)values and lifestyle to move forward enough to be really noticeably different to most people 2)for a time in past to be assigned an amusing stereotypical aesthetic that most people will recognise

Examples

film
Live action TV

Examples (aversions only)

film
  • The Queen which showed how attitudes to royal family where different a mere nine years before it came out

Live action TV


Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • May 29, 2012
    Duncan
    Also probably so that protagonists' close ancestors can be featured as characters.

  • May 29, 2012
    nlpnt
    Overlaps with Present Day Past, when a story does take place in the recent past, but the people in charge of props and backdrops get sloppy and let stuff that's too new get in.
  • May 30, 2012
    Koveras
    • Tribes Vengeance has two interconnected campaigns, "The Past" and "The Present", which stand pretty much exactly 20 years apart. Justified in that the first campaign tells about how the heroine of the second one was born.
  • May 30, 2012
    dogwolfman
    @Duncan The Time Machine isn't an aversion because this covers the minus distance, not the max
  • May 30, 2012
    Duncan
    ^ Yes, you're right.

  • May 30, 2012
    pinkdalek
    @Duncan No, that's still not an aversion (at least not an interesting aversion). This trope states that 20 years is about the minimum distance for fictional time travel into the past and anything less than that is very rare. 2055 to Dinosaurs is not this trope as that is significantly greater than 20 years (~65 million years). If the time travel story started in 2012 and the characters went back to 2004, or if they started in 2012 and went forward in time to 2020, that would be an aversion.

    I think we need an exception. There are really two kinds of time travel stories - the Time Travel As Tourism kind where the past is portrayed as basically a big, mysterious place for the protagonist(s) to explore and have adventures in (where this is a rule), like Doctor Who, Back To The Future, etc., and the Time Travel As Convolution kind where the characters go back in time minute amounts (one hour, one week) to make complicated Time Paradox stories or alter past events (where this isn't a rule), like Primer, the gag in Bill And Teds Excellent Adventure with the keys (the movie is otherwise a Time Travel As Tourism movie), the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode about time travel, etc.

    Curiously the only example I can think of this trope is a parody blog post pointing out how lame an idea it would be:

  • May 30, 2012
    SharleeD
    • The Lake House is a genuine aversion, as it's about communication between two people who are separated in time by only two years.
  • May 30, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Compare and contrast Twenty Minutes Into The Future.
  • May 30, 2012
    nielas
    I like pinkdalek's explanation of the trope. Placing a time travel story in the near-past limits many of the standard tropes prevalent in those stories. Also it means that the time traveler would be likely to interact with his/her past self which can be problematic if you do not explicitly want to write that type of story.

    This might be the type of trope where we want to list aversions as examples.

    Thinking about it, there is a popular group of time travel stories that send the time traveler to the near-near-future like a day, week or month in the past. A Groundhog Loop would be an example of this.
  • May 30, 2012
    dogwolfman
    @pinkdalek I never said this trope only applied to time travel stories or that it applied to most time travel stories

    it applies to any story where the past is shown for the purposes of showing how times have chanced, that can be period pieces of flash back as well

    I think this trope is so common that all the examples should be aversions, of the top of my head I can think of:
    • The Queen which showed how attitudes to royal family where different a mere nine years before it came out
    • about half the flashbacks in Cold Case
  • May 30, 2012
    randomsurfer
  • May 31, 2012
    Koveras
    Two decades is roughly a generation. Related?
  • May 31, 2012
    arromdee
    Kamen Rider Den O is heavily based on time travel to periods that are a few years back, and seldom gets as far as 20 years.
  • May 31, 2012
    Quatic
    Hot Tub Time Machine -- they went from 2010 to a highly stereotypical 1986.
  • May 31, 2012
    judasmartel
    • This is a common trope in Filipino telenovelas, shows which have adopted the Spanish Soap Opera format since the height of its popularity in The Nineties with Rosalinda and Betty La Fea. The past generation is almost always given a Downer Ending and the present generation (the main heroine is almost always between 16-20 years old) a good old Cinderella story, sometimes tying the two generations as Star Crossed Lovers respectively. Nowadays, though, TV writers try to subvert this trope by making the heroine 6-16 years old, minimizing or eliminating the Love Story factor and replacing it with Filipino-friendly Aesops, and/or making the past generation her sibling instead. And yet the effect stays the same.
  • July 5, 2012
    trapraper
    need more examples I think
  • July 6, 2012
    abk0100
    In Quantum Leap, Sam can only travel through within the time period of his own lifetime, with a couple exceptions. It would have been too costly to have different sets and costumes from different eras in history in every episode.
  • July 6, 2012
    Routerie
    This is an interesting observation, but since its example list would cover virtually every story where people go into the past, that's a problem. List only aversions?
  • July 25, 2012
    abk0100
    No, don't listen to Routerie, dogwolfman.

    part of the purpose of the example section is to help people understand the trope. It doesn't make any sense to say "this is a trope. No, we don't have any example - you just have to take our word for it. Here are some examples that are totally unrelated to the trope:"

    Besides, this wouldn't nearly cover every story about people going to the past. That's kind of silly.
  • July 25, 2012
    dragonslip
    i'm dragonslip not dogwolfman now (I forgot the password for the dogwolfman acount)
  • July 25, 2012
    abk0100
    ^I think we have a lost password thread somewhere, if you want to bother.

  • August 19, 2012
    dragonslip
    I FOGOT ABOUT THIS
  • August 19, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • Happy Days was made in the 1970s and takes place in the 1950s. Ditto its Spinoff Laverne And Shirley. Both managed to last until the 1980s/1960s.
    • MASH began in 1972 about the Korean War, 1950-52. (Arguably it was an allegory about The Vietnam War.) Lasted much longer than the actual war.
  • August 19, 2012
    Ghilz
    nvm
  • August 21, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    Title needs to be changed-it implies that we're talking about a situation where Alien Space Bats or other such highly advanced Applied Phlebotinum created the universe 20 years ago, but nobody else knows that because they all have had Fake Memories implanted in their minds.

    Which is precisely what I thought the trope was when I read the title.
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