DiscardedYKTTW Overdue Future YKTTW Discussion

Overdue Future
A work that took place in the future when it was written that now takes place in the past.
(permanent link) added: 2011-12-02 23:45:46 sponsor: FatCorgi edited by: keplek (last reply: 2011-12-08 22:48:15)

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Needs More Examples, May need a better title. Previously titled "The Distant Future: The Year 2000."

Work in Progress notes: Many examples that can be used for this trope are already used in the examples pages of Zeerust and I Want My Jetpack largely due to the fact that these works can be conclusively verified as featuring one or both.

Cpt. Webb: Log entry: March 16th, 1980...
Crow: Oh, our old future.
-- Mystery Science Theater 3000, "The Phantom Planet"

The future is now… or yesterday… or twenty years ago, at least according to some older works of speculative fiction. Whether or not the work is a futurist prediction of what is to come, or the author just wants to play with future tropes, the fact remains the same; works that were written as taking place in the future at the time of their writing are now placed in the past or the present. Some premises could still be plausible with a few changes if they were set a little further in the future. Others, either from science, technology, or our sense of taste marching on, don’t hold up so well. At any rate, the time that the piece of speculative fiction took place in is no longer up for speculation. The ways in which the story’s speculations contrast with what actually happened may result in hilarity in hindsight.

This trope only applies to works that describe a world that feasibly (but not necessarily that feasibly) could have happened according to the knowledge available to the writer at the time of the writing. For instance, a future where civilization is destroyed by a dragon invasion is not this trope, because it is obviously fantastical in nature. Also excluded are works that we now know are infeasible or ridiculous, but still take place in a time that hasn’t happened yet. Because of this, this trope usually applies to stories that take place Twenty Minutes into the Future or Next Sunday A.D. (though stories that take place in the future-proper are obviously slated to join the ranks of this trope at some point).

Also see Zeerust and I Want My Jetpack, as any work featuring this trope is very likely to have a lot of either or both of these. Compare Zeerust Canon, for when a series or franchise continues to run even after this trope has taken its toll.



  • I, Robot written in the 1930's has people owning robots in 1996 that still do not exist
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? the original version takes place in 1992 and was written in 1968. By 1992 humans are living in a dystopian earth created from nuclear war.
  • 1984 is one of the most famous examples. Guess which year it takes place in.
  • The Shape of Things to Come was H.G. Wells' imagining of the future from the time it was written in 1933 to 2106. It's surprising how accurate some of his 'predictions' were, but almost half of the range of time the story takes place in has passed.

Anime and Manga
  • the manga version of AKIRA starts in 1992 when a nuclear explosion destroys tokyo and starts world war 3. The manga was first published in 1982.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. Though the story takes place in 2015, the events leading up to it begin in 2000.

Video Games
  • Live A Live, made in 1993, had a "Present Day" chapter set on 1994 and and a "Near Future" on 2010, the latter being based on AKIRA. Of course, both are more like "Near Past" and "Present" now.

  • V for Vendetta's comic version (1982) was set in 1997.
    • The movie adaptation (2006) is set in the 2030s to adjust for this.

Live Action TV
  • Star Trek had the Eugenics Wars which spawned the tyrant Khan Noonien Singh - set in the distant future of 1993 to 1996.

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