Created By: SharleeD on May 17, 2012 Last Edited By: SharleeD on July 27, 2012

Prices March On

Prices in works set in the future become ridiculously-low due to real life inflation

Name Space:
Page Type:
Barring drastic economic upheaval or hyperinflation, prices of goods and services tend to rise gradually over time. In works set in the future, their creators don't always take this phenomenon into account; even when they do, they often badly misjudge how much more expensive various commodities will be 20 Minutes into the Future. Over time, Real Life prices increase until they exceed those in the work, eventually making the work's cost-figures seem ridiculously low and outdated.

Contrast Ridiculous Future Inflation, in which prices in the work become higher than in reality. Often a subtrope of Zeerust. Fictional Currency or We Will Spend Credits in the Future may be employed to avert this trope. Could be justified as Translation Convention applied to prices.


  • In the Shadowrun Verse's original timeline, complied in 1989, the earthquake that destroys Manhattan is said to have caused 20 million dollars in damage. 2nd Edition increased this to 200 billion dollars, which still seems far too low in retrospect.

  • In 1989's The Barsoom Project, sequel to Dream Park, Harmony describes how Cowles Industries nearly went bankrupt after a couple of 90 million dollar films bombed and a failed theme park cost it 250 million over ten years. Cowles is that Verse's Expy of The Walt Disney Company, only much bigger, meaning it could easily cover such losses at today's prices. $90 million doesn't seem very high for a film budget now, and a quarter-billion is nowhere near enough for a theme park of the size Harmony implies.

  • Lampshaded in Austin Powers when Dr. Evil, still assuming 1960s prices, ransoms the world for "the sum... OF 1 MILLION DOLLARS", only to be laughed at by the world leaders.

  • Early on in the history of the Legion of Super-Heroes, 30th-century teenager Chuck Taine pays fifty cents for a bottle of soda pop. Ironically, a reader wrote in to ask about the high price, and the editor explained about Ridiculous Future Inflation, never suspecting it was still an under-estimate.

Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • May 17, 2012
    lampshaded in Austin powers where dr evil ransoms the world for "the sum... OF 1 MILLION DOLLARS" to be laughed at by the world leaders
  • May 18, 2012
    This is Ridiculous Future Inflation. You claim this is the "Inversion of Ridiculous Future Inflation".

    If you want to launch this as a separate trope, then you need to re-write Ridiculous Future Inflation in order to split the trope.
  • May 18, 2012
  • May 19, 2012
    ^^ Splitting this off Ridiculous Future Inflation is what I was planning to do, if this one can get off the ground. Note that it's not quite the same thing, as RFI at least implies the author considered how prices might change over time; Ten Dollar Laser Rifles is more like what happens when they don't even take a wild guess, but just plug in prices that their contemporary audience will be familiar with.
  • May 19, 2012
    I don't get the title 'Ten Dollar Laser Rifles'. That title conjures up the idea of future weapons being easily accessible.
  • May 19, 2012
    I considered Economics Marches On, but that seemed too broad. Suggestions for a better name are certainly welcome.
  • May 19, 2012
  • May 19, 2012
    This is kind of a mutant offshoot of Zeerust in a way.

    Inflation For Its Day? Inflation Marches On is good too. Except for both being snowclones of course. Hmm...
  • May 22, 2012
    No other examples? C'mon, people, folks on Lost And Found thought this one was a good idea!
  • May 22, 2012
    From the "Ridiculous Future Inflation" page:
    • Early on in the history of the Legion Of Super Heroes, 30th-century teenager Chuck Taine pays fifty cents for a bottle of soda pop. A reader asked about such a high price in the letter column, and the editor explained about Ridiculous Future Inflation. (Chuck didn't even get to enjoy his insanely expensive soft drink, as he accidentally swallows a Super Serum, that turns him into Bouncing Boy.)
  • May 22, 2012
    Yep, that's an example of how Ridiculous Future Inflation can turn into this trope....
  • July 27, 2012
    Inflation Marches On?