"[James Cameron's] strategy was a ballsy sleight of hand, setting the film in a 1995 that looked exactly like 1991, which is to say, the most accurate rendering of the future in cinematic history."Welcome To The World Of Tomorrow! Literally. Next Sunday A.D. is almost exactly the same as The Present Day. Same politics, same technology, same brands, same popular culture... the only difference is that when you glance at the calendar, it shows a date about a year or two after the series was released. Writers often set a series in Next Sunday A.D. to avoid people wondering why they didn't hear about the deranged serial killer or alien invasion on the news. From a practical standpoint, of course, it would make more sense to set a work anywhere from a few months to a few years in the past, if only to invoke the Literary Agent Hypothesis. The trope name comes from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Opening Theme, though that series is not an example of this trope. Compare Twenty Minutes into the Future, wherein the difference in time frame is a bit more apparent. (Yes, that should be the other way around. No, it won't be fixed.)
open/close all folders
- "Rewind the Future" anti-obesity PSA provides an unintentional example. At the start, the protagonist is said to be 32 years old, and later in the video we see him listening to an iPod (invented in 2001) before his thirteenth birthday, implying the video takes place no earlier than in 2020.
Anime and Manga
- Death Note: The manga was first released in 2003 and the first few chapters were set in 2004, reaching 2010 by the end. The anime was released in 2006, but when L is spying on Light, the timestamp says 2007. The dub started broadcasting on [adult swim] that year, losing the effect.
- Death Note creators' next series Bakuman。 started in 2008, the year it was written, but time advanced faster in-story than in real time, so by series-end in 2012 it was 2018 in-series. Comments from the author in the collected volumes state these dates are simply for the sake of showing the progression of time with regard to the story; he has no idea how technology or the manga industry will be in the future and the audience should consider every chapter as being set in the time it was written.
- X1999 is set in...the year shown, while its serialization began in 1991. In this case, it ran until 2003 when CLAMP halted its publication.
- The Haruhi Suzumiya anime was released in 2006. The light novel series it was based on started in 2003. The psychic timequake that everyone is investigating occurred in 2007, and the main series takes place in 2010, though this isn't revealed until some time later. Now that it's past 2010 and only a year has passed in the novels, it's become Last Sunday AD.
- Digimon Adventure 02 aired in 2000, but was set in 2002. Justified in that it was a "next generation" sequel and enough years had to pass in-universe to allow the cast of the first series to grow a few years.
- Paradise Kiss. It ran from 2000 to 2004, but since main character Yukari is stated as being born during the Heisei era (that is, 1989 or later) the events have to take place in 2007 or later for the dates and ages of the characters to add up.
- About the only way you'd know Please Teacher! takes place in the future is a couple of lines early in the series.
- Noir, which was released in 2001 and apparently takes place in 2010, falls into this category. Newspaper articles reference the 2000 American presidential election, and technology (cell phones, the Internet, etc) looks exactly the same as it did then.
- MADLAX, released in 2004 the story takes place in 2010.
- El Cazador de la Bruja released in 2007 and set in 2009.
- Eden of the East aired in 2009, but is set in 2010 and 2011.
- Summer Wars, released in 2009, set in 2010.
- Aphorism is a strange one. It's set almost thirty years into the future, not that anyone would be able to tell since everything looks the same as present day. (The fashion trends are a little skewed, but most people would put that down to Author Appeal. )
- An interesting case is Yu-Gi-Oh!, which retroactively became this over the course of the series. The manga began in 1996, but the year the series is set in was never actually stated. However, it is eventually said that the game Duel Monsters was created seven years before the start of the series. In the next arc, Kaiba states that the game was created in the mid-1990s. Assuming the card game was created in 1997 (which was the same year as the Defictionalized version was introduced) then the series is mainly set in 2004. Which is amusing, since 2004 is when the first (Duel Monsters) series ended.
- Air Gear. Anime aired in 2008, a time stamp on an Air Trek ad in the first episode is marked 2010.
- The Tokk˘ manga was released in 2004 and the anime first aired in 2006, while the story takes place in 2011.
- Uchuu Kyoudai (AKA Space Brothers) is set in 2025, but looks pretty much identical to the present. The only things that make it look at all futuristic are a few cars with designs that don't exist yet, but still look like ordinary cars.
- Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is set in 2012 but was aired in 2009. Everything looks identical to 2009, which is rather true in Real Life as well except for the fact no one has a smartphone in the anime.
- Button Man takes place "30 seconds into the future".
- Steve Niles' graphic novel Giant Monster was released in 2008 but set in 2013. The only notable difference is that space travel is slightly more advanced. The politics and culture are all unchanged, though.
- Brian Wood's DMZ plays this trope to the hilt. The only hint that the setting isn't the present day is the little fact that...America is embroiled in a Second Civil War, and New York City is a bombed-out battlefield.
- The framing time period in the Mike Allred comic, Red Rocket 7, is said to take place "The day after tomorrow" according to narration of the very first page. Everything seems to be more or less the same as present day aside from the implication it takes place slightly in the future.
- 2025 in Mutant is basically just like 2013, except for the lab that made magic ponies of course.
- The Fairly OddParents Fan Fic Wishes is set in 2017, but technology hasn't advanced at all in it. The only signs of it being in 2017 are what the characters say, and Dallas' high crime-rate.
- Inverted in Buzz Lightyearof Star Command + Invader Zim + Lilo & Stitch fanfic series Both Syllables, which started posting in 2008 and starts off set in the year 2002 for no real reason (the author doesn't remember a reason, anyway; something to do with the original series' airdates). It has yet to reach the current date.
- Just about every Death Note Fan Fic set after the epilogue. For example: Kira Is Justice.
- The Conversion Bureau: Not Alone is set in 2018 but it was released in 2012. There are almost no differences between the release date and the date in the fic.
- Although it is not explicitly stated, My Little Dashie, released in 2011, takes place from 2011 to 2026, without any changes mentioned.
- The Legend of Total Drama Island was written in 2010-1?, and the frame story is set in the year 2023 with no mention of intervening progress or events.
- The What If? Mockumentary Death Of A President aired in 2006, but was set in 2007.
- Back to the Future:
- The first film was released on July 3, 1985, but used October 25 & 26, 1985 as the present date. So it was set a little less than four months in the future...
- According to the DVD commentary, some people actually showed up at Puente Hills Mall, the location used for Twin/Lone Pine(s) Mall, on October 26, 1985 at 1:18 AM to see if anything would happen.
- And the sequel, made four years later, begins later in the morning of October 26th. The third film (released in 1990) ends the next day, October 27. Given the nature of the plotlines, this hardly matters...
- The first film was released on July 3, 1985, but used October 25 & 26, 1985 as the present date. So it was set a little less than four months in the future...
- The Neo-Noir gangsta rap flick Belly takes place in late 1999, but the movie was made in 1998.
- A newspaper headline in Superman Returns explicitly sets the movie in September 2006, a few months after it hit the box office. That it's set as occuring five years after Superman II, which undeniably was set in 1981, can be attributed to Comic-Book Time or Broad Strokes.
- In Disney's Tower of Terror Made-for-TV Movie, the characters refer to the events from the prologue (set on October 31, 1939) as having occurred sixty years ago. This would set in the film in 1999 or later despite the fact it was released in 1997. Presumably, this was done so that the film would date less quickly.
- Predator 2. Released in 1990, set in 1997
- The movie Knowing was released in March 2009 but the story takes place in October of the same year.
- Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah was released in 1991 but set in 1992. The rest of the 1990s movies followed suit, with each film being set the year after it premiered.
- The Net was made in 1995 but was set between June 11, 1996 and June 10, 1997, and most likely was set in the first three months of 1997. The date of birth for "28-year-old" Ruth Marx was shown as June 11, 1968. Most of the film is set in California, and usually in heavy rain, which occurs mostly in the winter there.
- Multiple scenes in District 9 (released August 2009) are shot on camcorders and CCTV surveillance cams with timestamps in early August 2010. Of course, it's also an Alternate History going back to 1982.
- After the the opening prologue scenes in the first and third X-Men movies, the text "The not too distant future" also appears.
- Cloverfield was released in January 2008 but is set in May 2008. However, no one informed the viral marketing team, whose plotline revolves around the assumption that the movie takes place in January.
- Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend was published in 1954 and set Twenty Minutes into the Future, in 1976-79, but all three film versions use much smaller gaps. The Last Man on Earth was made in 1964 and set in 1968, The Omega Man was made in 1971 but set in 1975-77, and I Am Legend was made in 2007 but set in 2012 with flashbacks to 2009.
- The 2009 film 2012.
- Salt (the 2010 movie) is set in 2011.
- Time After Time, released in August 1979 was set in the "present" of November 1979.
- Iron Sky, released in 2012 was set in 2018.
- Bicentennial Man begins shortly in the future (2005 from a 1999 release date), and ends 200 years later.
- Ice Station Zebra could possibly be an example of this given that the plot revolves around the recovery of a very advanced satellite. Also, there is the presence of an African American officer (played by Jim Brown) in a significantly prominent position of command, an occurrence that was unusual for 1968, especially when the character's race wasn't so much as even referred to in the film. Jim Brown has stated that his character was deliberately written this way, even after he was cast. Completely ignoring racial issues is a trope traditionally associated with the future.
- Wish I Was Here is an interesting case: The film is set during the week of the 2014 San Diego Comic Con and premiered in January 2014. The catch is that the film's wide release was the week of the 2014 San Diego Comic Con.
- Broadway Melody of 1936 was released in September 1935.
- Ex Machina: Director Alex Garland has described the future presented in the film as 'ten minutes from now'. Meaning that 'if somebody like Google or Apple announced tomorrow that they had made Ava, we would all be surprised, but we wouldn't be that surprised'.
- Draft Day centers around the 2014 NFL Draft. It was released in 2014, before the draft. In the real NFL draft, some people actually referred to this movie.
- The loose 1995 remake of Kiss of Death begins in the present day (circa '94 or '95), but at one point, it goes several years into the future (the late '90s). Nothing during this period has changed, which is most obviously shown with car thieves still being interested in nothing newer than early-'90s models.
- On the Beach, published in 1957, is set in 1963.
- Most of Stephen King's books have their time set at least a few months after their publication. (e.g. a March-released book is set for that July).
- The short story "Tl÷n, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius " by Jorge Luis Borges was written in 1941 but has a postscript dated 1947.
- William Le Queux's novels (of the now forgotten "invasion literature" genre, which dealt with the invasion of Britain by another country): The Great War in England in 1897 (1894) and The Invasion of 1910 (1906).
- The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex starts in the year 2011, which when the book was published was 4 years away.
- Night Watch - the first three books were published in 1997/8, but in the second, Anton and Edgar meet in Prague shortly before New Year's Day 2000.
- French Sci-Fi novel Malevil takes place after a nuclear war on Easter Sunday, 1977, just five years after the novel was published.
- Time Scout is implied to be set Twenty Minutes into the Future, but it's functionally no different from 2000 AD.
- The War of the Worlds was published in 1898, but set "early in the twentieth century."
- Cold Comfort Farm (written 1938) is set in an indeterminate future where Clark Gable is dead, there are Video Phones and Flying Cars, and there was a war with Nicaragua back in the 1940s. This is all background stuff that has nothing to do with what the book is actually about, though.
- Rivers Of Gold, written in 2010 but set in New York of 2013. Played with in that one significant event is said to have happened, a race riot even bigger than the Los Angeles one.
- World War Z was published in 2006, but appears to be set in the near future due to references to fictional events and a slightly changed geo-political landscape just prior to the major events of the novel. A specific date is never mentioned in the book to date its events, but references to earlier real-life events and the state of technology could set the novel any time from the late 2000's to the mid- 2010's.
- The Long Earth was published in 2012 and puts the discovery of the "stepping box" and the start of the plot in 2015.
- Strength & Justice is said to have been set in "the distant future", but exactly how distant is not mentioned. What does get mentioned is Bluetooth, iPod and various other branded objects people of the 2000s would be familiar with.
- The Man Who Brought The Dodgers Back To Brooklyn was released in 1981, but takes largely takes place in 1985-88.
- Replay by Ken Grimwood was published in 1986 and is set over a 25-year period from 1963 to 1988.
- A Head Full Of Ghosts : The book is set fifteen years after the events of the reality show, but it's never stated which year either takes place. Hints )"20—") during the blog sections point to some time in The New Millenium , and there are many references to current pop culture, but it's never clear.
- The Gam3: An explicit date is not given, but everything we see of Earth is compatible with the year 2015, when the first chapters were published.
Live Action TV
- Doctor Who:
- The UNIT stories of the Third/Fourth Doctor era seem to take place at some point in the future, but how far is a matter of some debate. This is lampshaded frequently in the rebooted series, as references back to classic UNIT stories often include some variant of "in the '70s...or was it '80s?"
- The Seventh Doctor story "Battlefield" takes place some time in Ace's future (which actually includes the broadcast date, oddly enough), but was most likely meant to take place in the early 1990s. (This was obviously due to the UNIT dating problems). This ends up being an epic fail, though, when England's king is mentioned, which pushes the story farther and farther into the future, where people start dressing as if it were 1988.
- Beginning with "Aliens of London" and ending with either 2008's "Journey's End" or 2009's "Planet of the Dead", has a "present day" of about 12 months after airdate. The fourth series (2008) has has a "present day" of 2009. note Notably, some future episodes seem to have forgotten this, leading to a somewhat inconsistent timeline.
- The Ninth Doctor episode "Dalek", and the Tenth Doctor episode "Fear Her" took place in the year 2012, in the not-so-far future from Rose's perspective (she joins the TARDIS in 2005).
- The episodes "The Hungry Earth" and "Cold Blood" take place in 2020, with the only obvious change being the drilling operation that triggers the plot.
- Beginning in Series 6.5, once the Ponds start spending more time off the TARDIS, the timeline started pushing ahead of "ours" again, with months on in-series time passing between the Doctor's visits to the Ponds, which happen once a week to the rest of us.
- Similarly, Clara's time with the Twelfth Doctor likely takes us at least a couple of years into the future: the Doctor mentions the year 2016 in 2014's "In the Forest of the Night", with time presumably marching on from there through Series 9.
- The Middleman is probably set in 2009 despite its 2008 broadcast date, though it never quite comes out and says so.
- The Time Tunnel premiered in 1966. Its "present" was 1968.
- Most episodes of Millennium were pretty much set the week after they aired. In the first two seasons, Frank Black's computer shows him at login how many days are remaining until the New Year's Day 2000. Do the math.
- 24 is an unintentional version. Between seasons there are sometimes Time Skips of a year or two when a single summer has passed between one finale and the next premiere in reality, so if we assume the first season takes place in the present day, the last season is several years ahead of us. This has never been used to establish the series as taking place in a not-like-your-world setting, though it can explain some Acceptable Breaks from Reality that have been seen - maybe in ten years or so, that Qurac will exist or medical science will make it possible to actually take as much punishment as Jack takes and live.
- Chouriki Sentai Ohranger: Made in 1995, set in 1999 with Bachsfundo and the Baranoia Machine Empire declaring a Robot War on the world.
- Ultra Series:
- In Red Dwarf, "Backwards" was made in 1989 and mostly takes place in 1993, albeit an alternate version where the universe is now running backwards. So by the end of the episode it's perhaps only Next Friday A.D.
- Done once in Criminal Minds, though it was unintentional. The series tends to be done in the present, so "The Big Game" is a bit jarring. The episode was aired right after Super Bowl XLI in 2007, and the events in the episode are depicted as happening right after the game. Fridge Logic reveals that those events had to have happened in the future, since there was no way that all those events could have happened within the running time of the show.
- Season 4 of Lexx (aired in 2001-02) is set in "the very near future." It's basically present-day America with occasional bits of high technology and an amazing amount of moral decay. Also, the Large Hadron Collider was scheduled to turn on later that year, which happened in late 2009 in real life.
- Believe (aired in 2014), though it's not directly stated. When first introduced, Dani was stated to have been 12 when she accidentally killed her brother. In the finale, her age is stated to be 19, and that same episode she visits her brother's grave—where he's shown to have died in 2011, meaning that she was born in either 1998 or 1999 and therefore putting the present day somewhere between 2017 and 2019.*
- The series Servant Of The People has a tagline "The story of the next president" and is set... somewhere within The New Tens. It is pretty much the present day (2015, when the first season was shot) .
- Metal Gear games have always been set a few years after their release dates, at least, the ones in which Solid Snake or Raiden is the main character.
- Persona 3 was first released in 2006, but takes place across 2009-2010.
- Along the same lines, Persona 4 was released in 2008, but takes place in 2011-2012.
- Most likely this is done because of the fact that December 2009 would have two full moons, one of them on the last day of the year, and that 2011 was the only year until 2016 that would allow the cast of 4 to visit Port Island without running into any members of SEES at school.
- Persona 4: Arena managed to catch up at least, having come out at almost the exact date that the game takes place.
- Speaking of Atlus games, the Trauma Center series all take place about a decade after their original release date. For example, Second Opinion takes place in 2018 though it was released in 2006. Despite the fair time gap, much non-medical technology in the series seems to be on-par with the modern world.
- Every game in the Splinter Cell series is set two years after its respective release date.
- The first Resident Evil game was released in 1996, but set in 1998.
- The House of the Dead was released in 1996, and set on December 16, 1998. The House of the Dead 2 was released in 1998 and set on February 26, 2000.
- House of the Dead 3 and 4 abandoned this with 3 being set in an apocalyptic future and 4 being set in the past three years after 2.
- Fahrenheit, released in 2005, was set in 2009.
- The Ace Attorney series takes place mainly from 2016-2019 in Phoenix's games and 2026 in Apollo's game. The date is never explicitly stated, but the climactic case of the first game is set fifteen years to the day after a specific incident which is said to have occured in 2001, the year in which the game was published. Nothing has really changed from the present day other than a ridiculously unbalanced court system and that cell phone technology has regressed to late 1990's level.
- Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth manages to make it even more confusing by having a flashback case that's set early in Edgeworth's career in 2012. Despite taking place years before even the first game where fairly simple cell phones and low-quality VHS footage are the best you'll see, you will encounter a modern HDTV in the defendant's lobby during the investigation.
- Half-Life, released in late 1998, takes place on May 16, 200X.
- Which doesn't stop Black Mesa from utilising technology that was outdated even by '98 standards (such as punchcard computers). Could be justified in being legacy equipment where the costs of upgrading would be greater than the benefits of it.
- Left 4 Dead is set several months in the future, as shown through death notices in the church.
- The 2005 game Battlefield 2 is set in 2007.
- In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007), if Captain Price is to be taken literally about his comments of his wet work mission taking place ten years after the Chernobyl accident, that would place the flashback mission in 1996, putting the date of the rest of the game in 2011. The sequels, Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 3 (2009 and 2011, respectively) are both set in 2016, with the last mission in the third going on to 2017.
- Heavy Rain was released in early 2010. The first Origami murder occurred in fall of 2009. The game takes place in late 2011.
- Alcatraz for Amiga, created in 1992, set in 1996.
- The "present day" setting of Assassin's Creed is late 2012, a full five years after the first game was released. This one was kind of necessary from the start, mind, as they seem to be aiming for the '2012 End of the Mayan Calendar' thing for something monumental to happen at that time.
- Ace Combat games tend to be set a few years after their release (with the difference in time becoming larger with each release - compare one year for 1997's Ace Combat 2 to eight for 2007's Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation, though with most of the series taking place in an alternate Earth named "Strangereal" it's probably a moot point).
- X-COM: UFO Defense was released in 1993, and started in 1999. Pretty much all commercially available technology and base structures are realistic. You can research weapon-grade lasers and automatic medipaks very fast, but then again, you control a UN-funded military organisation in the state of war. The only break in reality is the anti-grav elevators, but those were probably used because normal elevators would have had too many issues with the engine.
- All mentions to the year Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City occur are shadowed, or mentioned as "Today". Made more jarring that you can visit graveyards and other places where there should be at least the last year's number, but they're all covered in mud or broken.
- Hong Kong '97, made in 1995, set about then. Part of the plot states that China is turning the deceased "Tong Shau Ping" (Deng Xiaoping) into the ultimate weapon, the weird part being that Deng actually died in 1997.
- Walker: Romping through several time periods in a giant robot, the contemporary setting appears to be the (first) Gulf War and is set "tonight".
- Five Nights at Freddy's 3 is set thirty years after Freddy Fazbear's Pizza from the original game shuts down. Although the exact year of the first game is ambiguous (aside from being within or beyond 1987), it's thought to take place in 1992 or 1993, meaning 3 happens in 2017 at the earliest and 2023 at the latest.
- The original Rise of the Triad was released in 1994-1995 and, according to its opening, is set "one year in the future".
- Undertale was released in 2015, and near the end of the game it is revealed that it is taking place an unspecified number of years after 201X, the date given in the prologue.
- Bad Machinery is set "three years after the end of Scary Go Round YES THE FUTURE" (SGR was explicitly set in the present at the time of its drawing), but this is just to make a Time Skip that means the characters have developed since then. The cartoonist admits that he "doesn't know what the future will be like, so he draws it exactly like the present day." In webcomic time, the first story is set in autumn 2012.
- They tried to do this in the Whateley Universe. The first term of school is set in fall 2006, while the first stories came out in 2003 or 2004. But they've written so many stories with so many characters that they're still in winter 2006!
- Now they've just barely gotten to 2007, with some 2006 winter break stories still in the pipeline.
- Chaos Fighters II: Historical Chronicles-Beyond The Earth is a National Novel Writing Month 2011 entry set in 2012.
- Discounting flashbacks note Funny Business takes place in the year 2026, however the only difference from modern technology is that quantum computers are apparently in some measure of public use.
- One episode of Ren and Stimpy was set in a futuristic House of Next Tuesday.
- Sealab 2021 is set exactly one year after Sealab 2020.
- Word of God sets Young Justice in "present day"; however, the show began airing in January 2011 and Title In sets it in July presumably of the same year. Although the date stamps are reckoned using a 2010 calendar, and delays have pushed it back so that the season finale, taking place on December 30th 2010, aired in April 2012. The second season introduced a Time Skip, with the remainder of the show set in 2016. Despite this, the fashion and technology doesn't really change much between the two seasons.
- According to Amanda Waller, the entire Cadmus story arc of Justice League Unlimited took place in 2009, a couple of years after that season aired and several years ago right now.
- Contrary to most of the The Simpsons' Flash Forward episodes which are Twenty Minutes into the Future, "Barthood" ages the characters and shows their (hypothetical) future, while essentially portraying the world the same way as it is when the episode was released (2015).