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 INSPACE 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 

  • Ultimate Marvel imprint is early(ish) Marvel Comics IN THE 2000s! Earlier Marvel Adventures comics (formerly known as Marvel Age) were the same thing, only child-friendly, and they directly adapted older Marvel comics.
  • Rapunzel's Revenge is "Rapunzel" IN A SCHIZOTECH OLD WEST!
  • 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the versions of Cap's awakening in the modern day from the original in Avengers #4-10 (when he was only 20 years out of date), and the Captain America: Man Out of Time miniseries for a perfect example of this trope.)
  • Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds is Far from the Madding Crowd AT A WRITER'S RETREAT!
  • Vertigo Comics' Greek Street is Greek Mythology IN MODERN LONDON!
  • Each Tintin book is set in the year it was first published, despite the title character not ageing 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.
  • Sherwood, Texas places Robin Hood as the leader of an outlaw biker gang in the New Old West.



    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.

  • 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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