[[quoteright:350:[[ComicBook/MegaMan http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Year_20XX_127.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:And the previous year was 200X]]

->''"Why is it always X? It's like they couldn't come up with an exact year, so just make it X."''
-->-- '''WebVideo/TheAngryVideoGameNerd'''

Setting is important in story telling, especially when you want to tell what time period that story takes place in. The easiest way to do this is to simply state what year the story takes place in... however, being [[TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture too exact]] may sometimes narrow down flexibility. So in order to pinpoint the time and keep it vague at the same time, writers like to give the century number, but replace the year and decade with X.

For example: 20XX. You know this takes place [[NextSundayAD after the millennium]], but ''when'' after the millennium? 2097? 2030? [[MayanDoomsday December 21, 2012]]? We don't know, and that's the beauty of it.

It also renders the setting somewhat resistant to the flow of RealLife time, since RealLife will take longer to cross that date and make fans start wondering [[IWantMyJetpack why the future doesn't look anything like fiction depicted it]]. Of course, as the list below shows, years like 199X and 200X have been used and passed, and even 20XX will pass eventually. Inevitably, TimeMarchesOn.

Commonly seen in ScienceFiction, but not limited to it.

Not to be confused with ExtyYearsFromNow, which is about future dates or intervals being nice round numbers, often based on the work's own release date.
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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* ''WanganMidnight'' is set in the year 20XX to allow for the introduction of newer cars that at the time of the first publishing (1992) did not exist.
* ''{{Ichigeki Sacchu Hoihoi-san}}'' is set in the year 20XX.
* ''ZeroIn'' is set in 20XX.
* ''Manga/HellstarRemina'': [[spoiler:Earth]] is eaten in "July 20XX".
* ''Anime/DigimonXrosWars'' starts in 20XX.
* {{Mirai Nikki}}'s dates are all shown in the form "29 JULY 20XX"
* ''Manga/NewMazinger'': The action in this ''Anime/MazingerZ'' spin-off begins in 220X.
* ''CrystalTriangle'' is set in the year 198X. The funny thing about this is that the show was made in 1987. They were really hopeful for those next two years.
* ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar'' is set a few years after a nuclear war destroyed the world in "[=199X=]".
* In ''Manga/SangatsuNoLion'', the year is revealed to be 20XX on Nikaidou's New Years postcard.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* ''Film/InvasionOfAstroMonster '' took place in 196X.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/PowerRangersRPM'' was set in 20XX (between late 2040 and 2096).
* The ''Series/DoctorWho'' epsidoe "The End of The World" takes place in "5.5/Apple/26", although this may be another term for [[ExtyYearsFromNow exactly 5 billion years]] after the characters had left.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* John Barth's "Lost in the Funhouse" sets the date as 19--, then lampshades it, then lampshades that a young protagonist would be GenreSavvy enough to point this out. This is {{Postmodernism}} after all.
* In ''Literature/{{Frankenstein}}'', in Robert Walton's letters to his sister, the date is given as "Dec. 11th, 17--. OlderThanTheyThink indeed!
* WordOfGod says that the works in The Jingoverse take place in '201X'.
* ''Literature/TheStrangeCaseOfDrJekyllAndMrHyde'' happens in 19**.
* In ''Literature/LifeTheUniverseAndEverything'', Ford and Arthur time travel from the prehistoric past to the year 198--.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Manhwa ]]

* ''Webcomic/OrangeMarmalade'' starts in "Autumn, 20XX".

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* ''[[NineteenFortyTwo 19XX]]'', part of the ''1942'' ShootEmUp series by Capcom.
* ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiIIINocturne'' is set in Tokyo, 20XX.
* XBox game ''Zombies and Pterodactyls 20XX''
* PS2 game ''Seven Samurai 20XX''
* ''VideoGame/MegaManClassic'' is a strong example of this trope, starting in 200X and later moving into 20XX. The spinoffs are all set relative to this ambiguous date; the ''[[VideoGame/MegaManX X]]'' series takes place in 21XX, and drags on into 22XX, while ''[[VideoGame/MegaManBattleNetwork Battle Network]]'' is in an alternate 200X. The later games in the main timeline starting with ''VideoGame/MegaManZero'' (which was assumed to take place in 22XX before ''VideoGame/MegaManXCommandMission'' came out) have abandoned this & don't specify any dates, possibly because the world has [[AfterTheEnd suffered so many successive apocalypses]] by this point that people don't even remember what year it's supposed to be. According to the [[AllThereInTheManual ''Perfect Memories'' sourcebook]], the ''[[VideoGame/MegaManLegends Legends]]'' series takes place around 6000 years after the end of the ''X'' series (which would put it circa 82XX), but that's about all we know.
* HamumuSoftware's ''RobotWantsSeries'' game ''Robot Wants Puppy'' had an OpeningScroll about rebels in the year 20XX plotting to liberate Zeta Sector from the iron-tentacled rule of the tyrannical Morgox the Unborn.
* ''VideoGame/EarthBound'' is set in 199X. If you borrow a map from the library and then talk to the librarian again, you are told you don't have to return the map until the year 2002, [[ReverseFunnyAneurysm much to the amusement of modern-day fans]].
* The early ''VideoGame/DoubleDragon'' games are set in a post-apocalyptic New York after a Nuclear War occurred in [=19XX=].
* The ''VideoGame/{{WarioWare}}'' games take place in 20XX
* ''VideoGame/{{Half-Life|1}}'' takes place on May 16, 200X.
* ''{{Metroid}}'' is set in 20X5. Like ''Mega Man'', the other games in the series all take place relative to the ambiguous date of 20X5 in the original.
* The ''VideoGame/StreetsOfRage'' games are set in 199X.
* ''VideoGame/BombermanGeneration'' takes place in "[[AlternativeCalendar cosmic year]] 200X".
* ''Falsion'', a 3D ShootEmUp by Creator/{{Konami}} for the FamicomDiskSystem, is set in 21XX.
* ''Godzilla: Monster of Monsters!'' takes place in "2XXX A.D."
* The events of the first ''VideoGame/MetalGear'' was originally placed in the year [=199X=] before the sequels decided to give it a specific year. The manual for ''VideoGame/MetalGear2SolidSnake'' was inconsistent as to whether the original game was set in 1995 or 1996 (with the in-game dialogue placing the events of the sequel three years later), but ultimately ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' went with the 1995 date.
* According to the intro cinematic of ''VideoGame/{{Pikmin}} 3'', the game takes place in "Galactic Date 20XX".

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Animation ]]

* In ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'', the anime counterparts of the main cast hail from the year 20X6. Which they pronounce as [[ExtyYearsFromNow "Twenty exty-six"]].

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original ]]

* The ''SCPFoundation'' often redacts dates, but sometimes the century or decade is left uncensored, leading to a similar effect but with {{Censor Box}}es instead of X's.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* In ''[[RankinBassProductions Rudolph's Shiny New Year]]'', the new year is "19-Wonderful".

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