So it seems that something really, really bad is going to go down in the future
. How do we know? Because the future sent something or someone back into the past telling us it's going to.
Sometimes the message (or item, person, etc.) is intentionally sent, often as a plea for the people in the past to kindly do something to prevent the Bad Future
or as a warning to prepare for it. In those cases it's more likely to be acted on and serve as the reason the rest of the story happens
Other times it's accidentally sent, in which case it's more of a tossup as to whether or not it'll be seen by anyone other than the audience and whether or not anyone in the story will act upon it. If it isn't and/or they don't, it's used a form of creepy Foreshadowing
by the writer.
When the Jacob Marley Warning
involves Time Travel
, it serves as a subtrope
. See also Future Loser
and Future Me Scares Me
, who can serve as the message in question.
See Fling a Light into the Future
for the inversion of the past sending an ominous message into the future. Also see Conqueror From The Future
if the "message" is someone from the future coming back to the past to take it over.
- In Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, a message is sent back by an unknown person full of warnings about things the Lost Light should not do or else Bad Things will happen. Unfortunately nobody hears it and the Lost Light crew merrily goes about unwittingly doing more and more of them over the course of the series.
"Don't open the coffin. Don't let them take Skids. Don't go to Delphi. And do notóI repeat, do notólook in the basement. And for the sake of the Cybertronian race itself, please don'tkzzzzzzzk
- In Prince of Darkness (which takes place in 1987), scientists from the year 1999 use a tachyon signal to warn everyone who sleeps in the church of the disaster awaiting them.
- In the Babylon 5 episode "War Without End", the eponymous station receives a distress call from a temporal rift in Sector 14. It turns out to be a version of Ivanova from eight days in the future, sending out a mayday about how the station is under attack by the Shadows. The message ends right as the future station explodes, and the rest of the two-part episode is spent trying to keep that future from happening.
- The episode "2010" of Stargate SG-1 ended with the gate opening and a blood stained piece of paper coming through from the year 2010 (this was back in 2001) with the message, "UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES GO TO P4C-970," and signed by Col. O'Neill. General Hammond recognizes the handwriting and doesn't even question it, but immediately orders that address locked out of the dialing computer. A later episode deals with the threat mentioned in the note, where it turns out that a seemingly friendly race of aliens originated from the planet they had been expressly warned against visiting.
- Some of the characters in FlashForward didn't like the implications of their glimpses of the future: Mark had fallen off the wagon, Olivia was apparently having an affair, etc.
- In The Revolting World Of Stanley Brown, one of Stanley's future relatives makes sure Stanley keeps on inventing so that he will be born.
- In Wizards of Waverly Place Harper of the future comes back to, first, write books about the wizard adventures she has with Alex because in the future one of them will have told the World about wizards, so the books aren't all that interesting or unique, and, second, make sure that Alex has those adventures with her. In secret.
- The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Future's End" had Captain Braxton of the time ship Aeon come back from the 29th century with information that the entire solar system has been destroyed in a cataclysmic explosion and that Voyager was somehow involved. Now he's here to destroy them before that can happen. They manage to fight him off and both ships get stuck in the late 20th century. Braxton, who arrived 30 years earlier and has been living as a homeless bum all that time, continues to try warn people of the coming disaster, but due to his position in society, and the fact that he's talking about something that won't happen for centuries, people dismiss him as just another crazy bum.
- The events of EarthBound are set in motion by the time traveling insect Buzz Buzz from the future, who warns Ness that Giygas has destroyed the world in the future and that a boy named Ness would defeat him.
- In the first Star Trek: Armada the USS Premonition comes back in time to warn the Enterprise of an imminent Borg attack that will eventually lead to the entire Alpha Quadrant being assimilated.
- The Defiants in Rift send the hero from the Bad Future back into the past where the odds against Regulos were much more favorable.
- The Serious Sam series is similar, in that the last surviving human is sent back several millennia in time so he can assassinate the galactic Evil Overlord Mental before he can destroy Earth.
- SaGa 3 has three children sent from the Future into the Present in hopes of stopping the world from being completely flooded.
- One episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic had a Twilight Sparkle from the future appear with torn up clothes, an eyepatch, and scars on her face. She has an urgent message. Unfortunately, she isn't able to give it before being pulled back to her time. Twilight spends the rest of the episode freaking out trying to avert the impending disaster. She was actually trying to tell herself not to get all wound up like that.
- In Phineas and Ferb, a Candace from the future comes back to keep the boys inventing so that Dr. Doofenschmirtz can't take over the tri-state area. Different versions of her are met, but we never see more than three at once, as they're erased with their version of the Bad Future.
- From 2000-2001, a man calling himself John Titor posted on various message boards, claiming to be a time traveller from the year 2036 and full of tales of the After the End future which he came from. Whether he's actually a Real Life example of this trope or just was perpetrating a hoax or fiction remains to be seen, though he served as inspiration for Steins;Gate.