In the first book, the heroes are surprised by a troll that appeared suddenly in their path, having been whisked away from its home in the mountains some thousands of miles away, in order to appear as a random encounter in the Dungeons & Dragons game of the Gods. While it was in reference to random Tabletop RPG encounters, the way it was described — a sound, the world looking "strange" and a monster suddenly popping up — mirror exactly the random battles in most console RPGs. This was in 1983, three years before Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy, although Ultima III was from 1983.
Vlad is accused of only liking Agnes because he can't read her mind. Between that, and the odd amount of sparkling that goes on in Thud!, there is much in the way of unintentional humor if you're at all familiar with Twilight or The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries, for that matter.
In Thief of Time there's a gentleman's club with a Rule 34. To be precise, Rule 34b at Fidgett's states that women cannot enter the club except at a certain time and date, which leads to members assuming any women they see inside the club outside of that narrow window of time must be figments of their imagination. The narration then notes that in Susan's case, with her strict schoolteacher outfit and black high heels, this could easily be the case.
The anti-war novels Jingo and Monstrous Regiment have echoes in conflicts that have broken out since they were published, but since "war is stupid, and all wars are stupid in much the same ways" is kind of the point, this is not surprising. Likewise with Making Money's jabs at the magical thinking inherent in economics.
Also in that book is Tiffany rescuing someone from a dream by killing him, and being informed by said individual that they might still be trapped in a dream and be unable to tell the difference. The dream is populated by stuff from the dreamer's memories. Oh, and Tiffany was in said dream because she and the WFM wanted to steal something. Date of publication: 2003.
In ''Making Money' a man goes through a crisis of faith he follows his ancestors large footsteps, strangles a minor character is a rather loud manner, there's a trial, he honks, and stops being homicidal. This book was written about two years before Homestuck and about four before Gamzee's freak out.
In Mort, Albert and the eponymous character discuss the afterlife briefly. Albert says that regardless of what the afterlife is, he surely must have a lot of enemies over there. What is Mort's response? That he'll "need friends on the other side".
This becomes doubly amusing when you find out Disney considered adapting Mort into a movie.
Sybil's first words to Vimes are "I say, do you know anything about mating?" At the time, she was referring to breeding dragons, but Vimes didn't know that and was horrified. In the next book Vimes marries Sybil, and eventually they have a son. Guess he knew something about mating after all. Another one regarding Sam and Sybil's future was 71-Hour Ahmed in Jingo telling Vimes, "May your loins be full of fruit," which is a funny line to begin with, but The Fifth Elephant is the next Vimes book after Jingo and is the one where Sybil announces her pregnancy.
Neuromancer: "The sky above the port was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel". Some years after this was published, new television sets with sophisticated electronics began replacing "snow" on dead channels with a blank, sky-blue, screen.
Which is why, in Neil Gaiman's novel Neverwhere, he describes a perfectly clear sky as being the color of "a television tuned to a dead channel," in both a homage to Neuromancer and a nod to the changes in technology.
Speaking of Cyber Punk novels, it's hard to wonder if Neal Stephenson is a dead-on prophet when reading the descriptions of the "Metaverse", considering how many MMORPGs it resembles... then again, this may be a "Which came first" kind of situation.
The intro can by now be interpreted as at least 4 types of sky. Overcast (the intended), a clear black sky, a rainbow, and a clear blue sky.
Another interpretation would be a black sky with enough ambient light from surrounding structures/buildings/etc. to make it appear to be luminescent at the edges, much like a CRT that is on but does not have any input (like at a command prompt).
A children's educational book in The Knowledge series called Crashing Computers, published in 1999, talks about policy discussions on the 10 Downing Street website and makes a joke about paying kids to go to school. A few years later, the Government created the Education Maintenance Allowance, paying some 16-18 year olds to go to school.
Some countries (e.g. Finland) had student benefits years before 1999, so it's more of a case of Hilarious When Put Into Multinational Perspective.
The original name of the character was Elizabeth Janeway. That had to be changed after the producers learned that a rather strident (and litigious) professor shared that name. They then went with Nicole, which went out the door when French-Canadian actress Genevieve Bujold walked off the production. Kathryn was a last-minute choice, picked when Irish-American Katherine Kiernan "Kate" Mulgrew got the part.
In The Glass Key, by Dashiell Hammett, two characters meet in a restaurant named Tom & Jerry's, which is presumably not owned by a cartoon cat and mouse. However, this is likely not a true example, as the names Tom and Jerry (in the form, specifically, of Jerry Hawthorne, Esq. and Corinthian Tom) have been associated with each other since the early 19th century, and most later combinations are either coincidence (neither is an uncommon name) or deliberate callbacks to Life In London.
In the 1998 Star Trek: The Next Generation/X-Men crossover novel Planet X (which is not a fanfic but rather an officially published, authorized, but noncanonical novel) Captain Picard meets a holodeck simulation of Professor Charles Xavier and is astounded by how similar he looks to him. Two years later the first X-Men film came out, casting Picard actor Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier.
At the time, this one may have been intended more as a nod to fan buzz than anything else: though the casting wasn't official yet, X-Men fans had already been clamoring for Patrick Stewart to be cast as Professor Xavier ever since the live-action movie was first announced.
In Charles Stross' The Atrocity Archives, written in 1999, the author was looking for an obscure terrorist who was none the less likely to strike on American soil. In the book this terrorist gets his occult weapon mass destruction from Saddam, and is based in Afghanistan. Originally the terrorist in question was, you guessed right, Osama bin Laden. The book was published in late 2001 and his publisher suggested he change this to some other terrorist who is still obscure, which Stross did.
Archive also stated that the reason volume four of Donald Knuth's The Art of Computer Programmingnote kinda like the Bible of computer science hadn't been published yet was because the Laundry threatened Knuth with death if it ever came out. Volume four, part one finally launched in 2005 after spending almost four decades in Development Hell.
In Life, the Universe and Everything, a Someone Else's Problem field is set up to stop people noticing a spaceship parked at Lords' Cricket Ground. A couple of decades later, they built this◊.
Another example: at the beginning of the first book a demolition foreman is described as being a descendant of Genghis Khan to set up an amusing aside where he has visions of his ancestor's life. Later, it was discovered that 0.5% of the world's male population are indeed descended from Genghis Khan.
In Mostly Harmless, various forms of identity verification (passwords, PI Ns, biometrics) were decided to be too much of a hassle, and all ID confirmation is done by carrying around a single card, one of which Ford steals and uses to great advantage. Now, take a look at this. A choice quote:
"...if someone steals your card or your smart-ring, you’d better report it stolen pretty quickly."
In Michael Crichton's 1994 novel Disclosure, discussing a computer help program:
Hey! Listen! (Press C^!) Some people might not get this one if they don't hover the links.
You could also go for that great Microsoft innovation, the Office Assistant, aka that annoying f-ing paperclip.
In the fourth Harry Potter book, Mad-Eye Moody (the fake one) repeats "Constant vigilance!" over and over. When this first came out, it seemed outdated. After 9/11, similar lines said by various officials were so pervasive that this line can now be viewed as prophetic dark humor.
From Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: "... the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban." Remember how this book ended? Fred and George were repeatedly hitting Voldemort in the goddamn face this entire time!
At the end of Prisoner of Azkaban, Snape flies into a rage and the Minister of Magic says to Dumbledore - "Fellow seems quite unbalanced...I'd watch out for him if I were you, Dumbledore" Possibly the only time Cornelius Fudge displayed sound judgment.
Combined with the movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 has a mixed-income wedding where commoner Bill Weasley (handsome but disfigured by a werewolf's claws) marries the (presumably) wealthy Fleur Delacour, who is wearing an Alexander McQueen-inspired dress. There's a featured wedding guest in yellow, meanwhile there's dark doings involving terrorists and secret missions in the background (that ultimately succeeds, and the defeated foe is given a swift, unceremonious burial) that quickly overshadows the happy occasion. Less than a year after the movie's released, Prince William (handsome but prematurely balding) marries wealthy commoner Kate Middleton, who wears an Alexander McQueen dress while the Queen wears a cheerful yellow ensemble (wait, The Queen in yellow?). Meanwhile, there's a secret mission to take out Osama Bin Laden (who is killed and quickly buried at sea) that knocks the royal wedding off the news cycle (at least until the newlyweds visit California).
In the second book, Malfoy's first reaction to Ginny's retort and Death Glare was to tease Harry with "Look, Potter, you've got yourself a girlfriend!" Of course, Ginny's crush on Harry was rather obvious to everyone... but Malfoy of all people was the first person to accurately predict that the two would be an item - four full years before it actually happened.
In the fourth book Ron makes a rather rude joke to Lavender Brown ("can I have a look at Uranus too, Lavender?"). Fast forward to the sixth book where the two date for the first half-or-so of the book.
During the Climax of the fifth book(released in 2003), one of the characters blows up a model of Pluto; 3 years later, Pluto was removed from its status as a planet.
Turns out there are people with regional variants on the name "Remus Lupin" in real life (e.g. Remo Lobo, Remo Lupo, etc.).
In a case of either this or a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment (depending on how you handle your childhood memories being perverted): In 1971, Roger Hargreaves started the Mr. Men book series, the third of which was titled "Mr. Happy". The titular character was a very happy little yellow man. 10 years later, guess what Robin Williams decided to nickname his penis (and name a trope in the process)?
The book White Oleander has a passage where the protagonist's racist foster mother calls Oprah a "nig-nag". When Oprah selected the book for her Book Club, she quoted the passage for her audience, then described her call to the author. "Hello, this is the fat nig-nag calling." (Beat.) "'Ohmigod, Oprah!'"
In the original Shrek picture book, there's a scene where the title character has a nightmare about being beloved by children. Flash forward to the fourth installment of the film series, and...
In Good Omens: "She wanted a change. Something with openings. She quite fancied herself as a newspaper journalist." Let's just say that whatever the state of the newspaper industry was in 1990, well, it's worse now.
Consider this excerpt. One wonders whether Misters Pratchett or Gaiman had access to a time machine:
Before the invention of Internet memes, there were two points in The Thrawn Trilogy where Admiral Ackbar brings up traps. In the first book, told that smugglers suspect that alliance with the New Republic is a trap, he says "Because of me, no doubt." Later he says "It appears to be a trap."
And in the X-Wing Series, years before Ric Olié's "Coruscant. The whole planet is one big city", newbie Tatooine pilot Gavin Darklighter has a Narm Charm moment.
"It's just a city, the whole thing, one big, huge, really big city. It's all city."
In The Space Traveler's Handbook, published in the 70s but set in 2061, the second US space colony is called the Richard Nixon. This is indicated to have been a very popular choice.
A book of very serious, scholarly articles published in the New York Times in the 1950s had an interview with a Russian scientist just after Sputnik went up. He detailed a whole plan for how he thought humanity would expand into space, landing on the moon "Perhaps as early as the year 2000."
This is more of a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment for many people who deplore the fact that in 2000 we could not have landed a manned vehicle on the moon, and that our "expansion into space" as far as people (as opposed to robotic probes) are concerned in 2014 consists of dusty relics and one functioning space station in low Earth orbit.
In the Malazan Book of the Fallen books Midnight Tides and Reaper's Gale (the latter published in 2007), one plot thread is Tehol Beddict's plan to destroy the economy of Lether by exploiting everyone's greed. Considering how much of the 2008-2009 economic unpleasantness was caused by unsustainable and shortsighted investment and lending makes it even better.
"Maybe the rain had something to do with why you lost your memory," Deena offered. "A torrential rainstorm. A car speeding down Mulholland Drive. There was a crash, the squealing of brakes, and then...”"
At the beginning of The Hobbit (published in 1937), Thorin describes the mark Gandalf had left on Bilbo's door as indicating a burglar looking for work. "You can say 'expert treasure hunter' instead of 'burglar' if you like. Some of them do." Nearly sixty years later, gamers who played the US release of Final Fantasy VI met one such individual.
In the 7th Everworld book, Senna Wales decides to stab a Coo-Hatch alien to death with a knife, for no apparent reason, and then acts coldly unmoved by what she did. When the others question her as to why she had suddenly gone Ax-Crazy, she laughs ruefully, shakes her head to herself and replies, "Had to be! There was no avoiding it ... Not over the long haul." In the eleventh book, Senna suddenly goes psychotic and becomes a evil maniac, presumably for plot purposes.
Made even funnier since Senna can see the future in visions and talks about her "destiny". Given Senna's senseof humor, she had obviously guessed what was going to happen.
The Serpent and the Rainbow is the autobiographical non-fiction account of Harvard ethnobotanist Wade Davis' journey to Haiti to investigate a mysterious drug being used to turn people into the zombies. The book was notable for its respectful treatment of Haitian and voodoo culture and included several passages that condemned the way voodoo is sensationalized by Hollywood. It was adapted by Wes Craven into a horror film that epitomizes everything that Davis condemns in these passages.
The Dale Brown novel Edge of Battle has a part where someone is telling a Russian commando to speak No Russian. Complete with said Russian supposed to be pretending to be from elsewhere as part of a False Flag Operation.
Edward Gorey's first book, The Unstrung Harp came out in 1953. In one scene, the main character goes driving near a town named Something Awful.
Among many other bad translations in the infamous Portuguese-to-English phrasebook "O Novo Guia da Conversação em Portuguez e Inglez" (also known as "English As She Is Spoke") was its translation for "Cômô dizeís ôu díz Vm?": "What you say?"
In The Phantom of the Opera, the narrator refers to Christine's first abduction (the one where she disappeared for two weeks) as "not the infamous abduction" which everyone has heard of. In context, this refers to how famous her second abduction became in the news in-universe, but the story is so famous now through Popcultural Osmosis that this clarification seems to be Leaning on the Fourth Wall.
Sinclair Lewis' 1947 novel Kingsblood Royal features the Sant Tabac, a racist secret society fronting as a cigar club. Flash forward 50 years to the height of the cigar craze, when such clubs were all the rage.
In The Short Victorious War, the idea of battle-cruisers trumping ships of the wall, even in a missile fight, is dismissed as impossible. Wait a minute...
In Crown of Slaves, Berry Zilwicki claims that the only two things she would be good at are being a housewife or a queen. Guess what...
In his non-Honor book The Excalibur Alternative, the end involves an English-based space empire leading an attack on a much larger federation... Which is exactly what's happening in the current Honor books. To make things funnier, the looming enemy in the Honor books is the Solarian League. One of the Space English's allies in Excalibur is the Solarian Union.
In Alexandre Dumas's Louise de la Valliere, one of the sequels to The Three Musketeers, we have this paragraph in which a Dutch ambassador tries to apologize to the French king for injuries committed against him; it acquires a whole new meaning now with the Freestate Amsterdam stereotype:
"The ambassador ventured to frame excuses by saying that the vanity of nations was a matter of little consequence; that Holland was proud that, with such limited resources, she had maintained her rank as a great nation, even against powerful monarchs, and that if a little smoke had intoxicated his countrymen, the king would be kindly disposed, and would even excuse this intoxication."
In Philip K. Dick's short story Stand-By, in the future setting, the most important TV news presenter is... a clown.
Atlas Shrugged has a passage that sounds just like the commonly parodied Master Card commercials: "The roast turkey had cost $30. The champagne had cost $25....[Several more examples]. But it was held to be unspiritual to think of money and what it represented." If it didn't predate the Master Card commercials by many decades, it would seem like the perfect setup for something like "Thanksgiving dinner with family was priceless" Or "Using the power of reason to produce wealth was priceless." Or "For Rearden's family, the opportunity to make him feel a sense of unearned guilt was priceless."
The first book of John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata, released in 2000, features Mike O'Neal, initially an NCO, using an experimental suit of Powered Armor with an AI named "Michelle" in it, part of a military unit that exclusively uses said armor. He and said AI are close friends. See also; Halo: Combat Evolved, featuring Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 and his AI best friend Cortana, member of the elite group known as Spartans. And yes, both types of armor have the Sticks to the Back trope
The book also features a Red Shirt named "He Man"—while the name is not pronounced anything like He-Man, it's still funny to see him appear, make a Badass Boast, and then cut down without anyone batting an eye.
In A Wrinkle in Time, Meg Murry's father's mathematically-based nickname for her has a slightly different meaning to those who read the book after, say, 1984: "Megatron". The term "tesseract" does too.
In the Sweet Valley High book Sweet Valley Saga Alice (the twins' mother) was engaged to Hank Patman (Bruce's father). When Sweet Valley Confidential comes out, guess who become a couple at the end of the book? Bruce and Elizabeth, that's who.
This couplette is from The Passionate Pilgrim, attributed to Shakespeare:
Jacob Black has an older sister named Rebecca. Think about that for a second...note To clarify, Rebecca Black was first mentioned in the original Twilight, which was released in 2005. The singer Rebecca Black never became famous until 2011.
The children's novel The Twenty-One Balloons has the protagonist landing on Krakatoa shortly before the fateful volcanic eruption. He meets a secluded society whose men are named "Mr. (letter)". This naming convention results in two Hilarious In Hindsight moments: 1) the first person the protagonist meets on the island is named Mr. F and 2) a later one named man on the island goes by Mr. T.
In Mallory and the Mystery Diary, a relatively early Baby Sitters Club book published in 1989, Mallory complains that it feels like she's been 11 for a decade. Cut to 1999, when the books are still being published and poor Mal is still 11...
In A Tale of Time City, the founder of the eponymous time-traveling city who resolves the plot by reintegrating himself and banishes the villains to separate and unpleasant bits of time and space is named John Smith.
In 1963, Morris West's novel The Shoes of the Fisherman described the election and first part of the reign of a the first Pope hailing from Eastern Europe (more exactly, Ukraine). 15 years later, the first non-Italian Pope was chosen... and he also hailed from Eastern Europe (Poland, in this case). Made even better because said Real Life Eastern European Pope, Karol Wojtyla aka John Paul II, wasn't that different from the fictional one, Kiril Pavlovich Lakota aka Kyril I... So JPII helped to take down the Iron Curtain? Kyril I has to be The Mediator between the governments of Red China and the URSS to avert World War III.
In BraveNewWorld, the future society's current fashion trend is an overabundance of zippers on everything, demonstrating how needlessly over-engineered everything is. It's evocative of the costume design stylings that Tetsuya Nomura has become notorious for.
In Chasing Vermeer, a character refers to someone who annoyed him by never shutting up as "Twitter Man", a nickname which gained another level of appropriateness a few years after the book's publication...
Ray Bradbury's short story The Long Rain correctly guesses that Venus is inhospitable for humanity, but depicts it as being a tropical climate with a breathable atmosphere but constant downpour that will drive any human being insane if they're exposed for too long. We now know that Venus is really... well... exactly the opposite.
In Paradise Lost, Milton describes a rainbow as having "colours gay." Now, more than three centuries later, the rainbow is a symbol of gay pride.
An encyclopedia of manga classics (I can't remember exactly which one) outlined the plot of Fruits Basket, and informed the reader that the series' Official Couple was Tohru and Yuki. (Kyo Sohma- third protagonist, one corner of the focal Love Triangle, and Tohru's eventual husband- is barely mentioned at all.) Unfortunately, the encyclopedia was written before certain plot twists in the manga sunk that ship, and Tohru and Yuki remained Just Friends.
In Lawrence Block's The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep, Evan Tanner, who can't resist a lost cause, supports the independence movements of several oppressed regions even as he insists in the narration that he knows that they will never succeed. Following The Great Politics Mess-Up, every last one of them is now a nation, causing an unintentional It Will Never Catch OnRunning Gag.
Stoo Hample's The Silly Book tells you that the "Silly Secret" will make you giggle like a "gigglecopter", and then says that it will make you "roll on the floor". 43 years later, the ROFLcopter meme was introduced.
In The Lord of the Rings, there are three rings for the elven kings under the sky, seven for the dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, nine for mortal men doomed to die, and one for the dark lord on his dark throne. These four numbers in reverse order comprise the year that author J.R.R. Tolkein died.
In Forrest Gump (the book, not the movie), there is a sequence where Forrest becomes a professional wrestler. One of the wrestlers Forrest wrestles is a super-smart wrestler described as wearing a graduation outfit (Mortarboard, Robe, etc). In 1989, the WWF would debut "The Genius" (Lanny Poffo) who had the exact same gimmick.
C. S. Lewis entitled his autobiography Surprised by Joy, in reference to the experience of aesthetic longing that became the first step of his conversion to Christianity. A few years after the book was published, he unexpectedly found romance late in life and got married... to a woman named Joy.
John Gardner's James Bond novels were never officially acknowledged by the Eon's Bond films, but there has been a few amusing coincidences:
In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Big Nurse Ratched's name has taken on a funny quality now that "ratchet" has become teen slang used to describe anything with the quality of the ghetto about it.
There was a children's Mickey Mouse mystery novel from 2001 called "Mystery in Mid-Air", which involved private detectives Mickey and Minnie trying to solve the mystery of a passenger plane which has seemingly vanished in mid-flight without any sign of a crash. The number of the plane that goes missing? Flight 815.
Night World: Poppy's unflagging conviction that she and James are going to get married someday is already pretty funny ('she said, to distract [her brother] from his stare-out with his future brother-in-law'), but becomes even funnier when it's revealed that one of James' abilities as a vampire is reading minds.
Cinderella was finally identified when the prince fit the glass slipper on her foot (which is where we get the expression "if the shoe fits"). Several centuries later, the O. J. Simpson trial used a similar method (fitting a glove onto O. J.'s hand) to determine whether or not O. J. was guilty. Even better, the saying "if the shoe fits" sounds amusingly similar to a phrase used by one of O. J.'s lawyers: "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit." This could also be considered a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment depending on how you feel about Black Comedy.
The prequelThe Magician's Nephew reveals Jadis the White Witch to be the last surviving member of an ancient, decadent species of Sufficiently AdvancedHuman Aliens, the rest of whom she wiped from existence to prevent a war from ending unfavorably. Fast-forward about half a century, and a similar revelation was made about another iconic British children's character. This parallel makes the scene in London, where Jadis is unfamiliar with our world and ends up causing a commotion, all the funnier, since that kind of situation happens to the Doctor all the freaking time - and usually in London too! And in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the Witch's tactic of charming Edmund with sugary jelly candies becomes funny because it's essentially the Fourth Doctor's modus operandi for making new friends.
In Fifty Shades of Grey, it was always debatable if Christian's tastes are as "singular" as he claims, considering that even before the Internet BDSM was one of the most common kinks around. Now, when the Fifty Shades books have sold millions and millions of copies and have legions of fans eager to try the stuff in the book, Christian might as well have the Dark Secret that he likes watching porn movies.
Fans of The Raven Cycle love to point out this little exchange between Gansey, the leader, Ronan, who prides himself on his honesty, and Adam, who is frequently at odds with Ronan.
Gansey: From now on I need everyone to be straight with each other.
Ronan: I'm always straight.
Adam: Oh man, that's the biggest lie you ever told.
The exchange is funny in its own right, but becomes even better after we find out that Ronan has a crush on Adam.
L. Ron Hubbard's short story "One Was Stubborn" (Written under the pseudonym of Rene La Fayette) features a man who started his own religion, denying the reality of matter. The same man further seeks to expand his religion through the use of media, and uses freedom of religion as a defense against anyone trying to stop him. Ironically, the character in question is a villain...
The story also has a funny moment that has nothing to do with Scientology. The villain of the piece is named George Smiley.
In Spirit Bound, when Sydney gets in contact with Rose to query her about missing Alchemist records she tells Rose that Adrian is cute for an 'evil creature of the night'. In Bloodlines, she ends up falling in love with him.
Fans of The Office (US) may be surprised to find Michael Scott in the eighth circle of Dante's Inferno. (The Michael Scott, or sometimes Scot, in question was actually a famous medieval scholar with a posthumous reputation as a sorcerer, not the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin.)
In David Nicholl's (author of One Day) Us, the main character Douglas says that he and the other biologists at his lab called their pet fruit fly 'Bruce' to show that scientists can have a sense of humour, noting that fruit flies are technically neither and both sexes which they parodied by giving it such a name (but it's not actually funny). This event would have taken place in the 1980s, whilst the book was written around 2012. A few years later, Caitlyn Jenner — born Bruce — became the highest profile celebrity to undergo gender reassignment.