Created By: Ekuran on June 5, 2013 Last Edited By: Ekuran on October 10, 2013
Troped

The Future Will Be Better

The future is going to be better than the past or present.

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As brought up in TRS, The Future Will Be Better was made without going through YKTTW and is full of Zero Context Examples. After the description is spruced up and the examples are fleshed out, this trope will be relaunched.

Hi, welcome to the future. San Dimas, California, 2688. And I'm telling you, it's great here! The air is clean, the water's clean, even the dirt... it's clean! Bowling averages are way up, mini-golf scores are way down. And we have more excellent water slides than any other planet we communicate with. I'm telling you, this place is great!

A trope Older than You Think, that of a story that informs us the future will not be full of doomsday scenarios or nightmarish dystopias, but in fact the time when all troubles will be behind us. Or, at the very least, the future will hold less burdens than that of the past.

It could also be more personalized, where the characters we've been following (or at least some of them) can at least look forwards to a better tomorrow.

This is somewhat of a generational/cyclical trope in some ways: Science Fiction in the optimistic post-WWII era in the U.S. featured easy travel to other planets, flying cars, the triumph of democracy and universally-recognized human rights, etc. Around the late 60s and 70s dystopic scenarios became increasingly common, however usually there was a hero who successfully undermined the dictators or exposed the dark secret that deceived the people, and the dystopia was overcome (Logan's Run, Soylent Green possibly with the hero's publicly-proclaimed end reveal; later, The Running Man). Around the 80s and 90s dystopian Crapsack Worlds would often stay dystopian Crapsack Worlds, with the drama centering more on heroes (or Anti Heroes) dealing with life as best they can and maybe accomplishing some bit of good in the process.

This trope is especially popular in religions. Most of them promise some sort of salvation or enlightenment for their followers if they just keep on believing in the Second Coming or whatever positive future might be coming.

Politicians also love to promise a better future when they get elected. No Real Life examples are needed.

Compare I Want My Jetpack and World Half Full, where someone longs for this to be true and where a person or group of people try to invoke this respectively. Grass Is Greener likewise can deal with characters and their delusion that that place or time that isn't now and here is always going to be better when they get there.

Contrast Older Is Better and Nostalgia Filter. Also related to Society Marches On.

Examples:

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     Anime and Manga 
  • "Fate" in Magi: Labyrinth Of Magic is a force that moves the world towards a better future for people in general. However, individual people can really get screwed over by Fate and suffer horribly. The main bad guys like to track these people down and give them the ability to fight Fate—to the detriment of everyone around them.

     Literature 
  • Many fairy tales revolve around poor people whose lives turn out better afterwards.
  • In The Pendragon Adventure books the original version of Third Earth, which is Earth in the 51st century, is practically perfect. It's an idealistic paradise where the humans are entirely happy, and all of knowledge and history is easily available. However, it becomes much worse once the timeline is changed.
  • Andromeda Nebula is the paramount example of this in the Soviet Science Fiction literature, and it also started an enduring trend that many later novels followed, e.g. Noon: 22nd Century. Sadly, the process of Deconstruction began upon this trope almost as soon as it became popular.
  • From the New World: After the Crapsaccharine World's society goes to bust, Saki and Satoru know that their future will be better for their child.
  • Discussed in part three of Monday Begins on Saturday: Privalov time travels into the fictional future of mankind, as imagined by his contemporary sci-fi writers, and finds it split by a giant wall in two halves: the "World of Humane Imagination" (falling squarely under this trope) and the Grim Dark "World of Fear of the Future".

     Live-Action TV 
  • A central premise of the Star Trek franchise is that technology and science makes life better. This is among the reasons Star Trek: Insurrection is a bit of a Base Breaker, as it leans more towards Ludd Was Right.
  • In season 4 of Fringe, Peter Bishop and Olivia Dunham are always looking forward to their perfect future in which they will raise their daughter and life will be peachy keen. Those who have seen season 5 know their future is quite the opposite...

     Music 
  • The "Carousel of Progress" at Disney World has the song "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" (which was also covered by They Might Be Giants for Meet the Robinsons).
  • Timbuk 3's song "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades", although it's more about the singer's personal future and his plans to get ahead in life.
  • The Donald Fagen song "I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)" was named for the International Geophysical Year, a series of international collaborations of scientists from many disciplines that ran from 1957-58. The song captures the Postwar optimism reflected in those times and the promise of wondrous technological marvels to come:
    The future looks bright
    On that train all graphite and glitter
    Undersea by rail
    Ninety minutes from New York to Paris
    Well by seventy-six we'll be A.O.K.

    What a beautiful world this will be
    What a glorious time to be free
  • Jonathan Coulton's The Future Soon features the now-loser main character fantasizing about his future success as a "space engineer in space."
  • The song "The White Cliffs Of Dover" by Vera Lynn.
  • "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" by Frank Zappa.
  • "The Miracle" by Queen.
  • "One Day I'll Fly Away" by Gillian Welch.
  • "We Shall Overcome" by Pete Seeger.
  • "Tomorrow Is Mine" from Cabaret.

     Theater 
  • The end of Uncle Vanya has Sonya delivering a monologue to her Uncle about how though their life sucks now, it will be better in Heaven, and they will finally get to rest.

     Visual Novels 

     Web Originals 
  • The It Gets Better Project is a series of web videos by LGBT and ally adults aimed at LGBT youth to promote the message that life will get better, even if it's really tough now. The project is aimed at cutting the suicide rate for LGBT young people.

Community Feedback Replies: 46
  • June 5, 2013
    MorganWick
    Learned this one from Civilization IV:
    The future will be better tomorrow.
  • June 6, 2013
    Duncan
    • The song "Ooh Child" by The Five Stairsteps.
      Ooh-oo child. Things are gonna get easier. Ooh-oo child. Things'll get brighter.

    • Implied as a fundamental part of Star Trek.

    • The end of Uncle Vanya has Sonya delivering a monologue to her Uncle about how though their life sucks now, it will be better in Heaven, and they will finally get to rest.

    • The "Carousel of Progress" at Disney World has the song "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" (which was also covered by They Might Be Giants for Meet The Robinsons).
  • June 6, 2013
    Duncan
    Oh, and the Cabaret song is "Tomorrow Belongs to Me".
  • June 6, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^Let me fix that ZCE for you.

  • June 6, 2013
    Koveras
  • June 6, 2013
    zarpaulus
    All but the most Romantic people have realized that things get better as technology advances.

    • One of the Transmetropolitan comics had Spider Jerusalem talk about how much better things are now then when he was a kid, for instance ever since they covered Mercury with solar panels and started beaming power back to earth snow hasn't been flammable.
  • June 6, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    This is kind of a generational/cyclical thing in some ways: Science fiction in the optimistic post-WWII era in the U.S. featured easy travel to other planets, flying cars, the triumph of democracy and universally-recognized human rights, etc. Around the late 60s and 70s dystopic scenarios became increasingly common, however usually there was a hero who successfully undermined the dictators or exposed the dark secret that deceived the people, and the dystopia was overcome (Logans Run, Soylent Green possibly with the hero's publicly-proclaimed end reveal; later, The Running Man). Around the 80s and 90s dystopian Crapsack Worlds would often stay dystopian Crapsack Worlds, with the drama centering more on heroes (or AntiHeroes) dealing with life as best they could and maybe accomplishing some bit of good in the process.
  • June 6, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    this seems very.. Enlightened, just curious but is there a romanticist/past counterpart to this trope?
  • June 6, 2013
    Ekuran
  • June 6, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Music

    Timbuk 3's song "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades", although that's more about the singer's personal future and his plans to get ahead in life.
  • June 7, 2013
    StarSword
    Potholed "generational/cyclical trope" to Cyclic Trope.
  • June 7, 2013
    SKJAM
    Referenced in the anime/mangaMagi: The Magical Labyrinth: "Fate" is a force that moves the world towards a better future for people in general. However, individual people can really get screwed over by Fate and suffer horribly. The main bad guys like to track these people down and give them the ability to fight Fate--to the detriment of everyone around them.
  • June 8, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Music

    The Donald Fagen song "I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)" was named for the International Geophysical Year, a series of international collaborations of scientists from many disciplines that ran from 1957-58. The song captures the Postwar optimism reflected in those times and the promise of wondrous technological marvels to come:
    The future looks bright
    On that train all graphite and glitter
    Undersea by rail
    Ninety minutes from New York to Paris
    Well by seventy-six we'll be A.O.K.

    What a beautiful world this will be
    What a glorious time to be free

  • June 8, 2013
    DracMonster
    Here's your page quote:

    Hi, welcome to the future. San Dimas, California, 2688. And I'm telling you, it's great here! The air is clean, the water's clean, even the dirt... it's clean! Bowling averages are way up, mini-golf scores are way down. And we have more excellent water slides than any other planet we communicate with. I'm telling you, this place is great!

  • June 10, 2013
    Frank75
    Averted or inverted in more pessimist works. Do we want examples for those?
  • June 10, 2013
    DracMonster
    ^Those would generally be cases of Crapsaccharine World and Happiness Is Mandatory, so probably not.
  • June 10, 2013
    arromdee
    If we also have tropes for the future being the same and being worse (I'm pretty sure we do though I can't come up with exact names), wouldn't mean that every work dealing with the future has to go in at least one trope?
  • June 10, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^Or plain Crapsack World. Stick those in the contrast section.

    ^Don't think we have a trope for "the world is no better or worse in the future than it is now". It's usually one or the other.
  • June 11, 2013
    Synchronicity
  • June 12, 2013
    tightrope
    A well known and influential way of looking at history (or historiography) is known as the Whig concept of history. It basically sees progress in historical development, particularly with respect to idealistic aspects of politics (such as the abolition of slavery, the rise of liberal democracy etc). This translates into a belief in progress, and so a present day person who takes this view has to believe that the future will be better. So maybe you should cal this something like the "Whig vision of the future"?
  • June 13, 2013
    Frank75
    At least mention the concept.
  • June 13, 2013
    kiukiuclk
    I think there is actually two concepts here. 1) The future is portrayed as better (Star Trek is the easy example) 2) The future is promised to be better (the religious mentions in the description would fit here)

    I think that's fine and this can include both concepts, but the description should be more clear in that regard. Having them mixed together just makes it confusing.

    Also, for the type 1, it should be clear the "future" is relative to writing. (I.e. something that portrays the future as bright and cheerful would count, even if that future has already happened. )

    • 1984 would be an inversion, right? With the future being a horrible dystopia.

  • June 14, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    ^^^ Something like how Martin Luther King Jr said "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice". I.e. an article of hope and faith (and somewhat borne out by history in general, albeit with periods of significant setbacks as well as forward progress) that the future will be more just at least.
  • June 15, 2013
    somerandomdude
    Music example:

    Jonathan Coulton's "The Future Soon" features the now-loser main character fantasizing about his future success as a "space engineer in space."
  • July 2, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    Bump. What is left to do here?
  • July 2, 2013
    DAN004
    Related trope: I Want My Jetpack
  • July 3, 2013
    ilniaj
    Compare World Half Full where someone or a group of people try to invoke this.
  • July 15, 2013
    Koveras
    • Discussed in part three of Monday Begins On Saturday: Privalov time travels into the fictional future of mankind, as imagined by his contemporary sci-fi writers, and finds it split by a giant wall in two halves: the "World of Humane Imagination" (falling squarely under this trope) and the Grim Dark "World of Fear of the Future".
  • July 18, 2013
    grapesandmilk
    Also related to Society Marches On.
  • July 20, 2013
    Clevomon
    There's a Dan Quayle quote, "And the future will be better tomorrow."
  • July 21, 2013
    Morgenthaler
    Concur that no Real Life Examples are needed (which would be inherently speculative anyway) other than maybe predictions, but it might be interesting to note that this trope is known as the progress of history in academic circles.
  • July 28, 2013
    Quargzon
    I think the Grass Is Greener trope is worth mentioning here, as it deals with characters and their delusion that that place or time that isn't now and here is always going to be better when they get there.
  • July 28, 2013
    Quargzon
    In season 4 of J.J. Abrahms' TV series, Fringe, Peter Bishop and Olivia Dunham are always looking forward to their perfect future in which they will raise their daughter and life will be peachy keen. Those who have seen season 5 know their future is quite the opposite...
  • July 29, 2013
    TiggersAreGreat
    • Revolution: Averted Trope. Ever since the worldwide blackout and electrical objects being rendered useless, the future has not become better. If anything, it has become worse. What doesn't help is that the Monroe Republic has been getting its hands on secret weapons and wants to take over the continent. "The Dark Tower" also reveals that the US government still exists by hiding out in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and considering that this group wanted to blow Philadelphia and Atlanta off the face of the earth before they came back....
  • July 30, 2013
    CluLegacy
    Comic books:

    The 2099 Universe passes from a dystopian future in teh very beginning to an utopian one at the end of the story 2099 Manifest Destiny set in the year 3099.
  • August 8, 2013
    hbi2k
    The Jonathan Coulton song is a partial example at best. The future sounds pretty sweet if you happen to be a genius inventor with a space lab in space. Less so if you happen to be the reluctant recipient of his romantic attentions or one of the victims of the Robot War.
  • August 20, 2013
    Dawnwing
    Music:

    • "Tomorrow Will Be Kinder" by The Secret Sisters, from the The Hunger Games soundtrack
  • August 23, 2013
    JustinCognito
    On the Transmetropolitan example, another for the Quotes page:

    The point is this: The future is an inherently good thing, and we move into it one winter at a time. - Spider Jerusalem.
  • September 21, 2013
    KTera
  • October 1, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    I'm not sure where to categorize it, but I think the It Gets Better Project probably qualifies since the point of the project is the message that the future will be better.
  • October 4, 2013
    DAN004
    Launch?
  • October 5, 2013
    MyFinalEdits
    @SV: But the draft asks for no RL examples at all.
  • October 5, 2013
    DAN004
    The draft notes about politicians. No RL examples are about politicians. :P
  • October 5, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^^ And I agree with that. I actually think that the current Real Life examples listed don't belong either but the It Gets Better Project is media - a huge series of web videos - Web Originals, maybe?
  • October 5, 2013
    Ekuran
    Describe the It Gets Better Project in a way that isn't a Zero Content Example.
  • October 6, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    Web Originals
    • The It Gets Better Project: a series of web videos by LGBT and ally adults aimed at LGBT youth to promote the message that life will get better, even if it's really tough now. The project is aimed at cutting the suicide rate for LGBT young people.

    Better?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=8bg0zv9cdrlk78sky51251bu&trope=TheFutureWillBeBetter