Setting Update

"The '90s saw a wave of middle-brow adaptations of The Bard's plays, often taking them to new and interesting territory. There was Henry IV with rent boys, a Fascist Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew in High School, Hamlet with lions, Romeo and Juliet with seizures..."
Oancitizen, while reviewing another Shakespeare update, Tromeo and Juliet

Adaptations of old stories will frequently move them closer to the production in time and/or space, even if the original is only a couple of decades old, in a Derivative Works kind of Creator Provincialism.

Distinct from Recycled IN SPACE! in that the purpose is to make the story more familiar and accessible, whereas that trope is often based around transplanting a story into a less familiar setting. Also, by its nature, a Setting Update is typically made long after the original, whereas a Recycled Premise is usually a Me Too made to cash in on hot demand. Sometimes, especially with the more radical changes, it can be a genuinely clever analogy.

A Setting Update can still be described with IN SPACE! style, though, since that usually isn't all that's changed.

Related to Comic-Book Time for long running series. Also related to Retcon.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball is Journey to the West in the present (maybe).
  • Sailor Moon Crystal is Sailor Moon IN 2014! Compared to the manga and original anime's 1992 setting, it features updated tech. Though a cellphone is seen in Act 1, it's much more noticeable in Act 2, where the computers are much more modern than those in the manga and 90s anime (in particular, Usagi has a pink laptop with a bunny decal on it). Crystal does retain the original Game Center Crown, (2003's tokusatsu version updated it to a karaoke bar) but though the industry is contracting, arcades remain relatively popular in Japan, unlike the west. However, the actual Sailor V video game is something of an aversion, looking like an early '90s platformer, which is somewhat odd considering the reason the game was created. Maybe it's supposed to be Retraux in-universe?
  • While Hunter × Hunter isn't set in any discernible time period (since it's a fantasy series), the 2011 remake features updated technology. Flip-phones are changed to smartphones, and VHS tapes are changed to DVDs.
  • This happens whenever a manga from The '70s or The '80s gets new adaptations. For example the Oniisama e... manga is from the early 70s, while the TV series is from the early 90s; the "Oniisama" Takehiko Henmi is seen writing his thesis in a typing machine in the manga, but he uses an early desktop computer (floppy disks included) in the anime.
  • A very subtle one in Death Note where the anime is set three years later than the manga, only really noticeable through the use of dates in the series.
  • The anime adaptation of Parasyte has the characters using modern technology such as laptops and touch-screen phones and wearing modern hair/clothing styles. In short, the original manga was clearly made in 1988, while the anime was clearly made in 2014.
  • Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace is Ranpo Edogawa novels in 2015.
  • Young Black Jack is Black Jack AS A BISHOUNEN IN THE 60s! (Note this one zigzags this trope by going backwards chronologically, but specifically changing the protagonist to make it marketable by the 2015 trend of female Fanservice.)

  • Ultimate Marvel imprint is early(ish) Marvel Comics in the '00s. Earlier Marvel Adventures comics (formerly known as Marvel Age) were the same thing, only child-friendly, and they directly adapted older Marvel comics.
  • In Marvel Comics or DC Comics superhero lines, almost any retelling of a character's origin will fall into this category, especially as regards technology, the status of minorities and who the President is. The only exceptions are characters whose origins are fixed in history, e.g. Captain America. (That said, compare the versions of Cap's awakening in the modern day from the original in Avengers #4-10 (when he was only 20 years out of date), and the Captain America: Man Out of Time miniseries for a perfect example of this trope.)
  • The Boom! Studios Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers comic is a Broad Strokes adaptation of the original TV show, but with the setting changed from the early 90's to 2015.
  • Each Tintin book is set in the year it was first published, despite the title character not aging much, if at all. The result is that Tintin himself looks just about the same from 1931's The Blue Lotus right through to 1976's Tintin and the Picaros. Other recurring characters take it even further - most notably General Alcazar, who resembles a formal-style 1930s military dictator in The Broken Ear, but in Tintin and the Picaros his dress sense resembles that of Fidel Castro or Che Guevara.

  • The War of the Worlds is particularly prone to this in adaptations, with the 1938 radio play, the 1953 film, the 1980s TV series, and two of the three 2005 films moving the setting to the present day from the novel's 1902. Jeff Wayne's Rock Opera adaptation (and the PC game based on it), along with the third of the 2005 releases, are the only ones that keep the original setting.
  • The Film of the Book of Bridge to Terabithia moved from The '70s to the Present Day. Someone forgot to tell the guy in charge of getting a school bus for the movie, though.
  • Casino Royale (2006) (Notably, the 2006 movie had TEXAS HOLD-EM! in place of the 1953 book's baccarat.) In fact, most of the James Bond series qualifies, as each film is set during roughly the time period in which it was made.
  • The film adaptations of The Bourne Series, which was written in the '70s, which also necessitated major changes to the plot since the Ripped from the Headlines villains of the books was no longer relevant in the 2000s (being just a teensy bit in prison for the rest of his life).
  • The Saint and Mike Hammer have so far never appeared in film or TV adaptations in period pieces. The Armand Assante remake presented an updated story with Hammer as a Vietnam veteran instead of a Pacific Theater World War II veteran. Even though the last time Stacy Keach played Hammer aired over fifty years since the first appearance of Mike Hammer, it presented an updated story. Roger Moore's version of The Saint debuted over thirty years after the first appearance of the Saint in print in 1928, but presented an updated story, as did subsequent adaptations with Ian Ogilivy, Andrew Clarke, and Simon Dutton. The Val Kilmer film took place in contemporary times, arriving in theaters in 1997-almost seventy years after the Saint's debut.
  • Superhero films tend to do this, often taking characters and concepts created during the Golden and Silver Ages and transplanting their origins to a contemporary setting. For example, the 2008 Iron Man took place during The War on Terror rather than The Vietnam War, and the Fantastic Four reboot has the characters gaining their powers in 2015 rather than during the Cold War.
  • Scrooged is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in the 1980s. It works, though, because of the cleverness of using a Show Within a Show concept - the Scrooge analogue is producing a live TV adaptation of the original A Christmas Carol, yet clearly misses the point until it happens to him.
  • This used to be commonplace for Sherlock Holmes movies. For instance, only the first two of the Rathbone/Bruce series in the 1930s-1940s took place in the Victorian era. Nowadays the world is different enough that setting them in the present day would drastically affect the concept, which is probably why it's no longer done as often.
  • The Made-for-TV Movie Carrie is the Brian DePalma movie and the Stephen King novel in the early '00s.
  • The 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In particular, Mike Teavee's addiction is changed from gangster movies and westerns to violent video games! There are animatronic puppets that malfunction comically! (Strangely enough, when Teavee is confronted with a video game setting inside the factory, he claims that it is "lame".)
  • Kamen Rider: The First and Kamen Rider: The Next are remakes of Kamen Rider and Kamen Rider V3, but with the setting changed from the 1970s to the Turn of the Millennium.
  • The two Allan Quatermain films with Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone moved Quatermain forward to the World War I era, not the 1880s and earlier setting of the H. Rider Haggard novels.
  • Phantom of the Paradise was The Phantom of the Opera and Faust in the '70s.
  • The Lair of the White Worm was an old Bram Stoker novel updated to modern day for the film adaptation.
  • The A-Team is The A-Team with Iraq veterans.
  • The 1998 film of Great Expectations is set in Florida and New York in the Seventies and Eighties, and Pip's name is changed to Finnegan Bell, among other name changes.
  • Click is The Magic Thread, an old French tale, set in the modern-day United States. The premise of a tv remote control that can control time is taken from an old Buster Comics strip called Vid Kid.
  • Huck and the King of Hearts is Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the 1990s, with a truck instead of a raft.
  • The original sci-fi story Who Goes There? was written in the 1930s. The Thing (1982) gave the year as 1982, the same year it was released.
  • Hedda Gabler's 2004 American film adaptation moves the setting to present-day Wenatchee, WA.
  • You've Got M@il is The Shop Around the Corner in modern-day America. (It's even lampshaded with the name of Meg Ryan's bookstore).
  • PCU is Animal House in The '90s.
  • The Live-Action Adaptation of Dudley Do-Right was updated to The '90s.
  • Weird Science was adapted from a 1950s comic book story and updated for [-THE 1980s home computer age.
  • The 2014 version of Annie is set in The Present Day rather than the 1930s, averting the Politically Correct History of the 1999 version. This produces several other changes, such as Miss Hannigan running a foster home instead of an orphanage.
  • The Universal Horror films Frankenstein (1931) and Dracula (1931) are both based on books written in the 19th century but the films take place in then-present day.
  • The plot of The Book of Life is very similar to "Orpheus and Eurydice", though transplanted to turn-of-the-century Mexico, with an added focus on a cultural holiday - the Day of the Dead.
  • The 2001 Made-for-TV Movie Murder on the Orient Express is Murder on the Orient Express at the turn of the millennium.
  • Matilda is Matilda in 1990s America. Miss Trunchbull, however, remains British.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Shakespea Re-Told [sic] is blatantly this:
  • ITV did a TV production of Othello AS A MODERN DAY COP DRAMA, WITH OTHELLO AS A NEWLY PROMOTED POLICE COMISSIONER AND IAGO AS HIS JEALOUS FORMER PARTNER! Worth checking out for Christopher Eccleston emanating pure malice as Iago Jago, before being cast as Doctor Who.
  • Brazilian soap opera O Cravo e a Rosa (lit. "The Carnation and the Rose", after a local song) is The Taming of the Shrew IN 1920s SÃO PAULO!
  • ITV's 2000 A Christmas Carol is A Christmas Carol WITH ROSS KEMP AS A LONDON GANGSTER SCROOGE!
  • Spoofed in a Channel Four documentary about Hamlet, which reinvented it as AS A GLOSSY AMERICAN SOAP! to make a point. The Ghost was replaced by a Video Will, and the Oedipal undertones rapidly became text.
  • The NBC series Kings is the biblical story of King Saul and David IN SOME SORT OF PARALLEL UNIVERSE CLOSELY RESEMBLING MODERN AMERICA!
  • House is Black Jack WITHOUT THE TEZUKA STAR SYSTEM AND MORE SURGEONS! A lot of people think it's more like "Sherlock Holmes AS A DOCTOR!" (lampshaded slightly when House is shot by Jack Moriarty)
  • The Brothers Garcia is The Wonder Years WITH HISPANICS!
  • Based on the premise, Stargate Universe may be Star Trek: Voyager... IN THE PRESENT!
  • Heroes is X-Men IN THE REAL WORLD!
  • There are two unrelated Russian TV miniseries, Graf Krestovsky (Count Krestovsky) and Favorsky, both of which are The Count of Monte Cristo IN PRESENT-DAY RUSSIA! And now there's a third one, aptly named Montekristo...
  • Cosmo and George is Mork and Mindy IN SINGAPORE! WITH MINDY AS AN INDIAN GUY!
  • There's a BBC Macbeth, made in 1997 and starring James Frain and Ray Winstone, set in A PRESENT DAY SLUM!
  • seaQuest DSV was effectively Star Trek: The Next Generation OUT OF SPACE!, much more pronouncedly so after the end of TNG's run. (In the first seaQuest episode after TNG ended, an alien race arrives in a ship whose design was quite obviously lifted from that of the Borg Cube.)
  • Currently making waves across east Asia, the Korean revenge drama Cruel Temptation is The Count of Monte Cristo IN MODERN TIMES WITH GENDERFLIPS!
  • Choujinki Metalder is Android Kikaider SET IN THE The '80s WITH A World War II BACKDROP!
  • Channel Four schools programmes about Shakespeare often did this: Julius Caesar AS A MODERN DAY POLITICIAN! WITH MARK ANTHONY'S FINAL SPEECH BEING TELEVISED!; Macbeth ON A COUNCIL ESTATE! WITH TEENAGE WITCHES ON ROLLERBLADES!; Twelfth Night WITH THE ROUND SUNG BY SIR TOBY AND FESTE AS A RAP! Since they only did a couple of scenes, they didn't have to maintain the concept for the whole play.
  • Sherlock is Sherlock Holmes IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY! Ditto for Elementary, which one-ups Sherlock by moving the action to New York and making Watson an Asian woman.
  • Daimajin Kanon is a remake of the original film, but with the setting changed to The New Tens.
  • The 1991 prime time revival of Dark Shadows was essentially the same as the classic series with the modern story arcs updated from the mid-to-late 1960s/early 1970s to the early 1990s. The aborted 2004 WB version would have once again updated the modern portions of the series to the then present day.
  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon still takes place in Tokyo, but in 2004 rather than 1992 like in the original manga. As such, the technology and fashion are updated accordingly, with the Senshi using cellphones to transform rather than pens.
  • Law & Order: UK. With its episodes based off of episodes from the original series, not only did the dialogue need to be "translated" into British English, it needed to be updated to reflect modern times—technology, cultural references, etc.
  • Sky/Canal's The Tunnel was an Anglo-French remake of the Danish-Swedish crime drama 'The Bridge'.
  • Smallville is the original Superboy comics with a Hotter and Sexier tone and the setting changed from the 1950s to the Turn of the Millennium (The Present Day when the series was made).
  • In-Universe example in the Red Dwarf episode "Better Than Life":
    Lister: They've remade Casablanca! Philistines! How can you remake Casablanca? The one starring Myra Binglebat and Peter Beardsley was definitive!
    Holly: I saw that. Knockout. "Of all the space-bars in all the worlds, you had to rematerialise in mine."
  • Selfie is My Fair Lady set in a modern-day pharamceutical company. Lowly flower girl Eliza Doolittle is now Eliza Dooley, a self-absorbed Plucky Office Girl obsessed with social media, while Prof. Henry Higgins becomes PR Spin Doctor Henry Higgs, who takes it upon himself to make Eliza into a better person.
  • Only a borderline example as the original is very vague about whjen it's set, but the 1981 BBC adaptation of The Day of the Triffids moves the setting from "Twenty Minutes into the Future from the perspective of The Fifties" to Next Sunday A.D. in The '80s. The 2009 adaptation might also count, although it also diverges so far from the source material that it's probably beyond the remit of this trope.
  • The Father Brown stories were written and set between 1913 and the mid thirties. The 2013 TV series is set in the fifties.

  • Basshunter's "Now You're Gone" is his previous "Boten Anna" IN ENGLISH! Ditto this for "All I Ever Wanted"/"Vi Sitter I Ventrilo Och Spelar Dota".
  • Peter Schickele claims to have updated for contemporary audiences the references in P.D.Q. Bach's "Classical Rap," whose alleged original was about 18th-century Viennese yuppies.


    Tabletop Games 
  • d20 Modern is... well, Dungeons & Dragons IN THE MODERN WORLD! Especially the Urban Arcana setting.
  • Delta Green is Call of Cthulhu WITH SPECIAL FORCES! It doesn't make much difference.
  • In-Universe examples in a Transhuman Space:
    • In Teralogos News a review of a new production of The Tempest says "Over the last few years, Shakespeare's final complete play has suffered the most tragic fate which can overtake a classic text; it has become relevant. I swear, if I see one more InVid staging which transmutes Prospero's island into an L-5 station, with Ariel as an infomorph and Caliban as an experimental bioroid, I'll claw out my implant." Doesn't count as Recycled In Space, because it's the present day from the perspective of the reviewer.
    • Toxic Memes mentions a 2042 remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, in which Smith expresses the opinion that democracy is all a big con, and a 2097 remake of the German silent film Alraune under the title Mandrake, with the Things Man Was Not Meant to Know updated from artificial insemination to computer generated genomes.
  • Take a Knight in Shining Armor defeating a dragon and you have the myth of Saint George. Replace the dragon with an Eldritch Abomination and the knight with humanity's most powerful psyker and you have Warhammer 40K's God Emperor of Mankind beating the C'tan Void Dragon and locking it away on Mars. This may have bitten Mankind in the ass later, as the massive cult responsible for maintaining all humanity's machinery including weapons, vehicles and starships, are now worshipping an entity that has little sympathy for humans...

  • Pan was Peter Pan IN THE MODERN DAY, IN NIGHTCLUBS! And it was performed in an abandoned power station.
  • There are a bunch of examples of Shakespeare in an unconventional setting WITH THE SAME DIALOGUE!
    • Hobson's Choice (a play, later filmed) is King Lear IN A 19TH CENTURY INDUSTRIAL TOWN IN THE NORTH OF ENGLAND!
    • Orson Welles first did Macbeth WITH AN ALL BLACK CAST, IN HAITI!.
    • Patrick Stewart starred in Othello IN AN AFRICAN STATE! WITH THE RACES REVERSED! because he wanted to play the role, but wasn't blacking up.
    • Baz Luhrmann did Romeo and Juliet IN THE MODERN DAY! WITH GUNS!
    • In 2012, Seattle's Intiman Theatre did a production of R & J in a present-day setting, but retaining some Elizabethan elements such as the sword fights.
    • The 2011 Much Ado About Nothing production IN THE EIGHTIES AT A TASTLESS VACATION RESORT
  • Shakespeare pulled one himself; Hamlet is Amleth WITH HAMLET AS A PRINCE INSTEAD OF A GOVERNOR'S SON!
  • Miss Saigon is the Opera Madame Butterfly IN The Vietnam War, WITH A MORE SYMPATHETIC MALE LEAD!
  • RENT is the Opera La Bohème IN THE LATE '80s, WITH AIDS, AND LGBT THEMES! In turn, the off-Broadway revival updates the setting to the "end of the millennium" (early 2000s).
  • Examples from Bertolt Brecht's dramatic oeuvre:
    • The Threepenny Opera is The Beggar's Opera in Victorian or Edwardian times (and Darker and Edgier).
    • Die Heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe takes Schiller's Jungfrau von Orleans and transports her to the 20th century Chicago of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.
    • Schwejk im Zweiten Weltkrieg (The Good Soldier Shvejk in World War 2) transports Jaroslav Hasek's Good Soldier Svejk from World War One to World War II.
    • The Caucasian Chalk Circle takes an Chinese play based on a story of Judge Bao (which had already been translated into European languages, adapted into various plays and operas, and which Brecht himself had also transposed to his native Augsburg at the time of the Thirty Years' War in The Augsburg Chalk Circle) and transforms it into a play within a play performed just after the end of World War 2 in Georgia (the one in the Caucasus, obviously).
  • Brigadoon borrows its plot (without acknowledgment) from the obscure 19th-century German short story "Germelshausen", setting it IN THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS!
  • Oscar Hammerstein II adapted Carmen Jones from the opera Carmen, keeping the Bizet score but resetting the action IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH DURING WORLD WAR II WITH AN ALL-BLACK CAST!
  • When Stephen Sondheim and George Furth musicalized the play Merrily We Roll Along, they reset the action between 1980 (about when the musical was produced) and 1955. (Kaufman and Hart's original play went from 1934, when it was written, to 1916, and was also Back to Front.)
  • Hero, possibly the ballsiest adaptation on this list, is the friggin' story of Jesus Twenty Minutes into the Future!
  • Jesus Christ Superstar is the Crucifixion of Christ IN WHATEVER MODERN SETTING THE DIRECTOR FEELS LIKE. (It tends to involve guns and drugs).
  • Carousel is Liliom DOWNEAST!
  • Inverted with the Sister Act musical, which was set in 1978, with Alan Menkin's disco-style songs.
  • Thanks to censorship at the time, Rigoletto is Victor Hugo's Le Roi s'amuse IN ITALY and Un ball in maschera is the story of the assassination of king Gustav III of Sweden IN COLONIAL MASSACHUSETTS.
  • There was a 1994 Scottish tour of The Odd Couple IN 1990s GLASGOW!
  • Similarly Neil Simon's own Felix & Oscar: A New Look At The Odd Couple is The Odd Couple IN THE 21st CENTURY!
  • The 2013 stage musical version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory updates the story much the way the 2005 film adaptation did with regards to Mike Teavee's technology fixation, and updates Violet's vice of Pride to have her parlaying her non-talent of gum chewing into a lucrative entertainment career (ala socialites and certain reality show stars). That said, while it's set in The Present Day, Purely Aesthetic Era applies, with the songs drawing upon many different styles (and eras) of music — British music hall, jazz, disco, rap, techno, etc.
  • Uncle Varick by Scottish playwright John Byrne (the one who did Tutti Frutti, not X-Men) is Uncle Vanya IN SCOTLAND IN THE 1960s!
  • One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean is the Commedia dell'Arte play Servant of Two Masters IN BRIGHTON IN THE 1960s! WITH GANGSTERS!

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