So, you have a dystopian
epic set millions or billions of years in the future. It's safe to assume that there are still humans, and possibly other organic life forms, still reproducing.
One would think that, even if natural selection has ceased to be a factor because of a static environment, mutation and genetic drift would still be factors. Even the proponents of Designer Babies
rarely intend to micromanage everything
. (Genetic drift will happen in the parts that aren't.) And even cloning gets mutations. And if any other species has survived, then they should be affected by evolution, too.
But writers tend to ignore any possible evolution unless it's directly related to the plot. It may be on purpose, to save the trouble of imagining new species; World Building
is a major distraction from writing, after all. And it's commonly believed that humans as we know them are more relatable than barely recognizable humanoid beasts who don't even resemble any other known species. (The ones that do
resemble known species generally have undergone an Anthropomorphic Shift
, which generally did not happen naturally...) A nonhuman human might as well be an alien...
Or maybe the writers didn't do their homework. Even if the fact that there will be genetic changes is possible to research, the nature
of the changes would be a good deal harder.
See also Medieval Stasis
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Anime and Manga
- Now and Then, Here and There is set 5 billion years in the future and humans haven't changed at all. Now, it's possible the human population was brought to the future by the 'bound' system, but that's never implied in the series.
- In the BBC series Jekyll, the antagonists justify their attempts to kidnap Tom Jackman and experiment on his other personality on the basis that humanity is doomed to Evolutionary Stasis without Hyde's unique genetics.
- Doctor Who:
- In "New Earth" and "Gridlock", taking place 5 billion years in the future, pure humans are extinct, but the descendent species look identical.
- In "Utopia", taking place trillions of years in the future, humans still look identical. At some point in between they spent time as clouds and data, but they apparently keep returning to human form.
- Warhammer 40K: The major genetic evolution in humanity has been the emergence of psykers, and even then they're around one in a million. Somewhat enforced, however, in that FTL travel is far from easy: the populations of planets become known for very particular traits (every Catachan looks like Rambo and the Predator squad) and there is little opportunity for interbreeding. The other major modification, which involves taking the cloned genes of a long-dead superhuman warrior and injecting them into a human until they're seven feet tall and bulletproof also makes them sterile.
- This is actually averted with the various "Abhumans" who sometimes show up as Imperial Guard auxiliaries. In contrast to the various mutants created by Chaos energies and genetically altered supersoldiers, Abhumans are new races who have evolved naturally on planets with different environments than Earth, most notably the Squats, who evolved on a high-gravity planet.
- Played straight in Chrono Trigger. Humans haven't changed one iota in 65 million years aside from the development of magic, and there's a number of other species that haven't changed at all either except for color. Justified when you fight the final boss - turns out Lavos has personally controlled humanity's evolution since its crash landing in 65 Million BC. Apparently the original form of man serves it best for its meal.
- Mass Effect: Played straight and justified with the vorcha, as their DNA has been unchanged for millions of years. This is due to their ability to adapt rapidly to any environment as individuals which removes their need to evolve as a species.
- An Exploited Trope in Xeno Blade. The Big Bad Xanza hid the DNA of the Telethia, draconic monsters that serve as macroscopic digestive bacteria for his true body, the Bionis, inside of the High Entia, a sentient, technologically advanced species created specifically for the role. By hiding them inside beings who rely on technology rather than adapting to their environment, the Telethia would be protected from the ravages of natural selection in order to prevent them from changing too much to be usable before Xanza was ready to consume all life en masse. Fortunately this didn't work 100%, as the High Entia royal family somehow learned the truth and set up a Breeding Cult using intermarriages with humans to try and breed out the Telethia genes.