"103 years have passed since I have been specially summoned. It would have been wonderful if this happened 3 years earlier, but ...ah, never mind."
In most series set more than Twenty Minutes into the Future
, the date will be an exact round number of years after the year the series was made. Something made in 1965 and set in the twenty-first century will be set in 2065. Something made in 1989 and set in the thirtieth century will be set in 2989.
This also applies to Time Travel
, either forward or backward; from 1972, you can jump forward to 2072 or back to 1872.
There are two big exceptions to this. One is when they just use a nice round number by itself for the year; thus, all the TV shows and movies set in the year 2000 (or 1999, or 2001). The other is sequels to something that was set in Exty Years; for example, Star Trek: The Original Series
came out from 1966 to 1969 and was mostly set from 2266 to 2269, but Star Trek The Motion Picture
came out in 1979 and was set in 2272, because it needed to be only a few years after the end of the series. Likewise for Star Trek: The Next Generation
and its spin-offs, which took place almost a century after the beginning of the original series (2364 in TNG's Season 1) and continued in real-time thereafter, but originally premiered in 1987. Thus, when the titular ship of Star Trek: Voyager
ended its, well, voyage in 2378, its last episode aired in 2001.
It should also be noted that characters, like real people, often round numbers off. Just because someone says something happened "1000 years ago," that doesn't mean it couldn't have happened 992 or 1038 years ago.
The trope's name comes from Homestar Runner
's pronounciation of an X in "futuristic" dates, such as the setting of Mega Man
in 200X and Metroid
in 20X5. The series parodies this directly by setting their mock-anime mock-spinoff series in the year 20X6 (pronounced "Twenty Exty-Six"). That is, however, another trope
The Human Popsicle
, Sealed Evil in a Can
, and Sealed Good in a Can
have often been that way for Exty Years too. Similarly, it's the almost universal practice for the Class Reunion
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Anime and Manga
- The first Mobile Suit Gundam series is set in the year 0079 of the fictional Universal Century. The time it was released? 1979, of course. Several other Gundam series do this as well, for example, Gundam Wing (1995) is set in After Colony 195.
- Sci-Fi anime Red Photon Zillion was aired in 1987. The story begins in -you guessed it- the year 2387.
- Space Pirate Captain Harlock aired in 1977 and begins in the year 2977, yet somehow we'll still be using huge computers and landlines for the next millennium or so.
- The plotline of Tenchi Muyo! has copious amounts of backstory going back for millennia; however, ALL the big important events seem to have happened a round number of years ago. To name just a few: Ryoko was imprisoned for 700 years, Ayeka and Sasami have been in cold sleep for just as long. Washu is 20,000 years old, and Kagato betrayed her 5,000 years ago.
- Lampshaded with the above page quote from Baccano!!.
- Psycho-Pass: aired from Fall 2012 to Spring 2013, set from Fall 2112 to Spring 2113.
- The Legion of Super-Heroes combines this and Comic-Book Time by always being set a thousand years after the current date.
- The Crisis Crossover DC One Million has an interesting variation on this; the future here is the 853rd century, exactly one million months after Action Comics #1, with each participating comic being written as Such-and-so #1,000,000.
- Although not a "round" number, Judge Dredd is always set 122 years ahead of the present. This is a round number from a different direction — the first issue came out in 1977, so 122 years after that was 2099, so as to set it just before the turn of the century.
- The Sandman issue Men of Good Fortune used this across 6 centuries, beginning in 1389 and ending in 1989, the year it was written and published.
- Camelot 3000.
- Oddly averted by the 2099 imprint of Marvel Comics titles. The first titles in the line began in 1992, were set in the year 2099 and after a few years of popularity the line fizzled out of publication, with the last issue of the line published in early 1998. During the run, the series kept the date vague but presumably advanced very slowly.
- But the recent Ultimate Universe-style miniseries/series of one-shots was published in 2009, and made much of the time difference being exactly 90 years.
- Marvel 1602.
- The 1965-66 stories about a future Superman were set in 2965-66 (or, when someone on the reprint staff noticed this totally contradicted the Legion, 2465-66.)
- 1984 is a sort-of aversion; it's not a round number of years, but Orwell flipped the year he was writing in to get a "distant but chillingly near future" effect.
- He wanted to title it Nineteen Forty Eight.
- The movie version was not only shot in the real 1984, but every scene referencing a date was shot on the right date.
- The Science Fiction book Frek and The Elixir takes place in 3003 (it was written in 2003).
- Weirdly averted in the Lord Darcy mysteries: set in an Alternate History Europe, each story takes place in the same year when it was published in reality. This makes for some amusing dissonance, as Victorian-level technology and archaic royalist politics appear side by side with dates in the 1950s.
- The futurist book 2081 was, of course, published in 1981.
- The Crystal Maze Adventure Gamebook, published in 1990, was set in a futuristic version of the game show in 2090.
- In Paths Not Taken, when Eamonn Mitchell hires Taylor to protect him from younger and older versions of himself, Taylor keeps straight which is which by estimating their ages, then thinking of them as "Eamonn 20", Eamonn 30", "Eamonn 50", and "Eamonn 60", not to mention "Eamonn 40" (his client).
Live Action TV
- Time Trax featured a time machine which only could create a time jump or "arc" of 200 years, so they traveled from 2193 to (then present) 1993. As the time passed, so did the possible destination in the past, and we see the related actions of other future cops, so this is also an example of Meanwhile, in the Future.
- Averted in the episode of The Twilight Zone titled "A Hundred Yards Over the Rim", in which a settler from 1847 is transported to the year 1961, 114 years in the future.
- Lost in Space, particularly the original series, was set in 1997.
- Amusingly, this didn't stop one or two set-on-Earth scenes from featuring horse-drawn carts and the like.
- Doctor Who seems to exist for this trope. The number of times a story has been set exactly a whole number of decades (or centuries) in the past or future are too numerous to count. However, there are exceptions.
- The vast majority of these exceptions are when the story in question was a historical piece; for instance, the Crusades, the French Revolution, the fall of Rome, the Battle of Hastings, etc;.
- Some were just when the year was a round number in itself, though these are even fewer and further between. The Ark (original airdate: 1965) was set in the year 10 Million AD.
- One definite subversion was in the serial "Trial of a Timelord" (original airdate: 1986) - in the first segment, no exact date was given; the second segment was explicitly stated as being set in 2379, however the third segment was set in 2986, which plays the trope straight.
- "The End of the World" does label the date...as "5.5/Apple/26]]", and puts it 5 billion years into Earth's future. Where they've presumably put inanimate objects into the numeric system.
- "The Waters of Mars" was meant to take place fifty years to the day after the airdate. It was out by six days.
- Russ Davies seemed fond of round-numbered years, setting two of his stories in AD 200000 and 200100 respectively. He also "clarified" at some point that the year "5.5/Apple/26" was exactly AD 5000000000.
- The various volumes of Lance Parkin's History of the Universe add more examples, by assuming that if the Doctor says "500 years in your future" or whatever, he means exactly that in the absence of any evidence to the contrary. Although if a date's in the millions, he'll go for the round number.
- In Starstuff, Ingrid lives 30 years in Chris's future.
- Averted in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century — the titular astronaut remains frozen for 504 years.
- Averted in Lexx, where the prologue to the first movie takes place 2,008 years before the rest, and the gap between Seasons 2 and 3 is 4,332 years. The dialogue falls into this trope though, since both those numbers are given in their exact value once, then rounded to the nearest thousand each time it's mentioned later (and they're mentioned a lot).
- The various collapses and catastrophes posited on Life After People seem to be colluding with the writers to comply with this trope, timing themselves for exactly 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 or 1000 years after humans vanish.
- Sliders averted this consciously. According to the mythology, if our heroes missed the window to slide out of their current universe, they wouldn't score another opportunity for 29.7 years. Series creator Tracy Tormé was very steadfast on not rounding it off.
- In Day Of The Tentacle, two of the game's three protagonists are projected two centuries into the past and future respectively, while one remains in the present day (Of the game's release) - 1993. The setting in the past is 1793, the year the US Constitution was written, while the setting in the future is 2193, where Purple Tentacle's scheme to conquer the world has finally paid off and humans are reduced to the Tentacles' slaves and pets.
- Although it's not quite the same thing, all the dates of the Entity's memories that can be traveled to in Chrono Trigger just so happen to be nice round numbers, at least for the centuries (600, 1000, and 2300 AD; 12,000 and — wait for it — 65,000,000 BC). The "Apocalypse", though, happens in the year 1999.
- Can be attributed to Battlefield series with Battlefield 1942, later having a sequel set in the future entitled Battlefield 2142.
- Some of the, well, battlefields on which players fight are also fairly obviously linked to real battles of Wolrd War II, and so is the backstory.
- The reigning king of this trope is the Bridge at Remagen map, which is stated in its description to take place exactly two hundred years to the day after American forces crossed the same bridge as part of Operation Lumberjack in WWII.
- Fable III takes place fifty years after Fable II, which in turn takes place 500 or 600 years after the first Fable game.
- Robotron 2084 is a subversion; the titular date is 102 years after its 1982 release.
- In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door you open the Thousand year door, which would have happened anyways, since those thousand years just happen to have passed.
- In Shin Megami Tensei IV, the Tokyo you arrive in is in the year 2038. Not only is this 25 years after the game's release year of 2013, but 2013 itself is when the demon invasion of Tokyo took place!
- Homestar Runner did have a genuine example: Strong Bad read an email suggesting that he make a time capsule that would be opened "in at least X0 years". Naturally, this led to an Imagine Spot of Stinkoman finding the time capsule in the year 20X6, although that would have been exty-two years after the cartoon was made.
- Sonic's plot takes place on January 9th, 4013 — exactly 2000 years after the film was released.
- Most time capsules are sealed with the intention that they be opened Exty Years from the date when they were closed.