"Hi, welcome to the future. San Dimas, California, 2688. And I'm telling you, it's great here! The air is clean, the water's clean, even the dirt... it's clean! Bowling averages are way up, mini-golf scores are way down. And we have more excellent water slides than any other planet we communicate with. I'm telling you, this place is great!"
A trope Older than You Think
, that of a story that informs us the future will not be full of doomsday scenarios or nightmarish dystopias, but in fact the time when all troubles will be behind us. Or, at the very least, the future will hold less burdens than that of the past.
It could also be more personalized, where the characters we've been following (or at least some of them) can at least look forwards to a better tomorrow.
This is somewhat of a generational/cyclical trope
in some ways: Science Fiction
in the optimistic post-WWII era in the U.S. featured easy travel to other planets, flying cars, the triumph of democracy and universally-recognized human rights, etc. Around the late '60s and '70s, dystopic scenarios became increasingly common, however usually there was a hero who successfully undermined the dictators or exposed the dark secret that deceived the people, and the dystopia was overcome (Logan's Run
, Soylent Green
possibly with the hero's publicly-proclaimed end reveal; later, The Running Man
). Around the '80s and '90s dystopian Crapsack Worlds
would often stay dystopian Crapsack Worlds
, with the drama centering more on heroes (or Anti Heroes
) dealing with life as best they can and maybe accomplishing some bit of good in the process.
This trope is especially popular in religions. Most of them promise some sort of salvation or enlightenment for their followers if they just keep on believing in the Second Coming
or whatever positive future might be coming.
Politicians also love to promise a better future when they get elected. No Real Life
examples are needed.
Compare I Want My Jetpack
and World Half Full
, where someone longs for this to be true and where a person or group of people try to invoke
this respectively. Grass Is Greener
likewise can deal with characters and their delusion that that place or time that isn't now and here is always going to be better when they get there.
Contrast Older Is Better
and Nostalgia Filter
. Also related to Society Marches On
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Anime and Manga
- "Fate" in Magi: Labyrinth Of Magic is a force that moves the world towards a better future for people in general. However, individual people can really get screwed over by Fate and suffer horribly. The main bad guys like to track these people down and give them the ability to fight Fate—to the detriment of everyone around them.
- Transmetropolitan's Spider Jerusalem, despite being a violently cynical misanthrope, genuinely believes this. He just wishes that it would happen FASTER.
Spider: The future is an inherently good thing. And we move into it one winter at a time. Things get better one winter at a time. If you're going to celebrate anything, then have a drink on this: The world is, generally and on balance, a better place to live this year than it was last year.
- Many fairy tales revolve around poor people whose lives turn out better afterwards.
- In The Pendragon Adventure books the original version of Third Earth, which is Earth in the 51st century, is practically perfect. It's an idealistic paradise where the humans are entirely happy, and all of knowledge and history is easily available. However, it becomes much worse once the timeline is changed.
- Andromeda Nebula is the paramount example of this in the Soviet Science Fiction literature, and it also started an enduring trend that many later novels followed, e.g. Noon: 22nd Century. Sadly, the process of Deconstruction began upon this trope almost as soon as it became popular.
- From the New World: After the Crapsaccharine World's society goes to bust, Saki and Satoru know that their future will be better for their child.
- Discussed in part three of Monday Begins on Saturday: Privalov time travels into the fictional future of mankind, as imagined by his contemporary sci-fi writers, and finds it split by a giant wall in two halves: the "World of Humane Imagination" (falling squarely under this trope) and the Grim Dark "World of Fear of the Future".
- Averted in the third book of The Indian in the Cupboard, when Patrick, a boy from the modern day, tells Ruby Lou, a cowgirl from the Wild West, about the future. He tells her all about the great improvements in medicine, long distance communication, automobiles... but then she asks if there are any drawbacks and he admits the future has its own share of problems: pollution, overpopulation, and nuclear weapons.
- A central premise of the Star Trek franchise is that technology and science makes life better. This is among the reasons Star Trek: Insurrection is a bit of a Base Breaker, as it leans more towards Ludd Was Right.
- Although technically Star Trek is more "the future will get worse before it gets much better", as seen in Star Trek: First Contact.
- In season 4 of Fringe, Peter Bishop and Olivia Dunham are always looking forward to their perfect future in which they will raise their daughter and life will be peachy keen. Those who have seen season 5 know their future is quite the opposite...
- The "Carousel of Progress" at Disney World has the song "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" (which was also covered by They Might Be Giants for Meet the Robinsons).
- Timbuk 3's song "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades", although it's more about the singer's personal future and his plans to get ahead in life.
- The Donald Fagen song "I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)" was named for the International Geophysical Year, a series of international collaborations of scientists from many disciplines that ran from 1957-58. The song captures the Postwar optimism reflected in those times and the promise of wondrous technological marvels to come:
The future looks bright
On that train all graphite and glitter
Undersea by rail
Ninety minutes from New York to Paris
Well by seventy-six we'll be A.O.K.
What a beautiful world this will be
What a glorious time to be free
- The song "The White Cliffs Of Dover" by Vera Lynn was written and recorded during the Second World War, when Lynn's assuration that "tomorrow, when the world is free/ just you wait and see" gave many Britons hope that the hardships of the war would be over one day.
- "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" by Frank Zappa from Were Only In It For The Money sings that there will come "a time when everybody who is lonely will be free to sing and dance and love/ there will come a time when every evil that we know will be an evil that we can rise above" and "even take their clothes off when they dance."
- "The Miracle" by Queen concludes with the lines: "One day you'll see/ a time will come/ when we will all be friends."
- "One Day I'll Fly Away" by Gillian Welch also lifts the hope that despite all the miseries of today there will come a time when the protagonist will be able to escape from it.
- "We Shall Overcome" by Pete Seeger is perhaps the greatest example of this trope. Originally used for the Afro-American civil rights movement it has now become "the" rallying song to unite activists for a common cause.
- "Tomorrow Is Mine" from the film Cabaret expresses faith that the future will belong to the protagonist.
- Bob Marley has several songs in this vain, "No Woman, No Cry", being the most famous example, where he comforts a woman with the assuration that "everything is going to be alright".
- The end of Uncle Vanya has Sonya delivering a monologue to her Uncle about how though their life sucks now, it will be better in Heaven, and they will finally get to rest.
- The It Gets Better Project is a series of web videos by LGBT and "straight but not narrow" adults aimed at LGBT youth to promote the message that life will get better, even if it's really tough now. The project is aimed at cutting the suicide rate for LGBT young people.