Parallel draft: Overpopulation Is Bad ray guns, the jet packs, and the spaceships. But you need a way of making things seem more 'real', more grounded in reality. How? Up the population by a few billion, that's how. The human population is currently at almost seven billion, and it's showing no signs of slowing. Barring a major disaster, it's likely that the human population will continue to grow. The numbers of people will often vary, depending on how far in the future it is. In 20 Minutes into the Future settings, it's often between ten and twenty billion; if it's a few hundred years, expect tens or even hundreds of billions; if thousands, it's often trillions, maybe even quadrillions. How such a large population is sustained is rarely addressed, though there's sometimes an in-show justification (often involving colonising other planets). It's popular in Space Operas with their sprawling Space Filling Empires. This trope can easily collide with Science Marches On, since figures which match this trope in older fiction can these days be not just plausible, but reality. Make Room! Make Room! has seven billion people on Earth (scientists estimate we hit this marker in October 2011), while Isaac Asimov's short story "The Winnowing" has humanity starving at six. See also Overpopulation Is Bad when the enormous population size begins to cause problems.
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Film — Live-Action
- In The Fifth Element, the President of Earth mentions "some 100 billion of my fellow citizens", although these might not all be on Earth.
- Star Wars: Coruscant, the City Planet capital of the Galactic Republic and later the Galactic Empire, has a population topping a trillion all by itself according to a reference book published prior to The Force Awakens' release.
- Soylent Green (and the Harry Harrison novel that inspired it, Make Room! Make Room!) have a 21st-century New York City populated by 35-40 million people. It's suggested that the rest of the planet is no better off.
- One Tag Line for Star Trek: First Contact was "Planet Earth: population 9 Billion. None human". This is based on the Enterprise's view of a Borg takeover of Earth after they travel back in time after losing a conventional Space Battle to Starfleet in the first fifteen minutes.
- The Millennial Project: Colonizing The Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps considers the intellectual consequences of living in a society where there are "5 billion billion people". While there would be many problems, such a society could invest vast intellectual resources solving those problems.
- Isaac Asimov:
- In Foundation, there are 25 million inhabited planets in the galaxy. Quadrillions of people, although there are no exact numbers given. Note From Ed: Questionable. By my math, 10 quadrillion people divided by 25 million planets averages out to 400 million people per planet, which is pretty reasonable.
- "The Last Question" mentions "a trillion, trillion, trillion" people, spread all over the universe.
- The short story "2430 A.D." is about shutting down the last remnants of the last zoo, so that Earth can finally have its perfect, stable society... no animals, no plants except for edible plankton, and as many humans as the planet can support - fifteen trillion.
- Aeon 14: The colony ship GSS Intrepid around which the story revolves has a population/crew of millions all on its own, and individual space stations with populations in the hundreds of billions are described: a 9th millennium 1600-kilometer space station with 150 billion residents is seen as only mildly impressive by protagonist Tanis Richards.
- Robert Silverberg's novel The World Inside is set on Earth in the year 2381, when the population of the planet has reached 75 billion people. Population growth has skyrocketed due to a quasi-religious belief in human reproduction as the highest possible good. Most of the action occurs in a massive three-kilometer high city-tower called Urban Monad (Urbmon) 116. Most of humanity lives in these mammoth thousand-floor skyscrapers arranged in "constellations", where the shadow of one building does not fall upon another. The population is supported by the conversion of all of the Earth's habitable land area not taken up by Urbmons to agriculture.
- Discussed in Stand on Zanzibar (written in 1968, set in 2010). With the world population reaching seven billionnote , society is definitely beginning to feel the stress of overpopulation, but, as pointed out in the comment that gave the book its name, you could still fit them all, standing shoulder to shoulder, on the island of Zanzibar.
- In The Starchild Trilogy by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson, the population of Earth has reached the thirteen billion mark, and the only thing which has prevented chaos and a massive die-off is the dictatorial control of the powerful computer known as "The Plan of Man".
- Warhammer 40,000: Hive cities often reach the tens of billions in population, the vast majority of which are impoverished scavengers feeding on the refuse of the upper atmospheric spires where the nobility lives. Exacerbating this problem is the fact that many hives are the only inhabitable locations on a planet (usually a Death World), and thus have to import gargantuan quantities of food from offworld just to meet the bare minimum requirements of most of its population (and since space travel is about as safe as sailing before the invention of the compass...). Hive cities are among the Imperial Guard's (which numbers in the trillions) and Space Marines' (most Chapters have at least a thousand warriors, not counting support staff) best recruiting grounds, both in terms of quantity and quality, and press-ganging vast amounts of criminal gangs is one of the more efficient ways of population control.
- EV Nova: All the Auroran capital worlds are insanely polluted and overpopulated, with the populations in the high tens of billions (Heraan approaches 90 billion residents) stuck in large Arcologies. The only planet in the Federation that even comes close is Viking.
- Mass Effect: Even after the development of Faster-Than-Light Travel, it's noted In-Universe that in the late 22nd Century, Earth is still vastly overpopulated, with over 11 billion humans and an unknown number of aliens living on the planet, and dealing with problems caused by environmental damage which peaked a century ago. Earth's overpopulation and pollution is mocked by many aliens in the series, as an indication of humanity's inability to get its own "house in order", so to speak. A possible origin for protagonist Commander Shepard is to have grown up in a gang of orphan criminals in a polluted megatropolis on Earth.
- In StarCraft, Earth's population is around 23 billion by 2301.
- In Galactic Civilizations a planet's population is limited only by the number and quality of farms can be built on it. Earth has a potential population of 50 billion. Colony Ships and troop transports transfer population in units of a million, and the basic ships can carry 500 of those units.
- Played with in Orion's Arm. The population of "baseline" (not substantially genetically modified) humans falls from 15 billion to 2 billion between 2400 and 2900 A.D., and are considered an Endangered Species in the very far future (c. 10,000 - 20,000 A.D.). However, in that same far future, our genetically modified descendants number in the hundreds of thousands of billions.
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