A character sings the praises of, or announces he has invested in, something he claims is going to revolutionize society or be enormously successful; however, the show is set in the past and the audience knows he is doomed to failure. Often comes right after the character says its competition will never catch on
This trope does not apply to Real Life
because it requires an audience with hindsight; see Magnum Opus Dissonance
instead. If the upcoming failure should
be obvious at the time the claim is made, then that's just the person being dumb.
Compare It Will Never Catch On
, the inverse of this trope (along with a real life example, And You Thought It Would Fail
and Not So Crazy Anymore
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Anime and Manga
- The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service features a commercial from a mid-eighties cryogenics company foreseeing that Betamax would reach a billion sales by 2052.
- To the post-millennials on the site wondering what Betamax is... Exactly.
- At the end of Fun With Dick and Jane, the protagonists have duped the evil CEO into reimbursing all of his employees' stolen pensions, are wealthy again and are happily driving towards the sunset... until a former colleague of Dick's drives next to him and tells him he got a great job at a company called Enron...and the credits roll.
- Near the end of Grease, the principal announces over the intercom that the graduating seniors may go on to greatness. One possible glorious future (this scene being set in the late spring of 1959) she speculates they might look forward to? Being the next Vice-President Nixon.
- In Shanghai Knights, Roy O'Bannon wastes most of his money writing false biographies of himself under a pen name. When Chon Wang finds out, he is disgusted with Roy, but Roy claims he has invested the rest into something that will revolutionize travel - zeppelining. When Chon is still not convinced, Roy claims that it's at least more likely to happen than some crazy invention called an "automobile".
- In SLC Punk!, a punk proudly shows off his hyper-new laser disc player and explains what it is. Laser discs never caught on.
- Carl Hiaasen's Nature Girl has two characters who went through this. One is a woman who was mistress to a man who killed his wife and ended up in a high-profile murder trial, which led to a sensationalised ghost-written book on her story for which she gained half a million dollars and a stockbroker boyfriend who recommended investing it in Enron; two years later, she had lost it all and was working at a bottom-feeding telemarketing company. The other is the mother of another character, whose many disappointments in life include her father cashing in his pension to invest it all in the Delorian Motor Company, leaving nothing to pass to his daughter.
- Done in Cold Case in a brilliant example of Five Second Foreshadowing paved with black comedy. A '70s Disco dancer's reason to break with his conservative Jewish father is that without his strict supervision he "will live forever, like Disco". An hour later, he is dead.
- In an episode of Teen Angel where the eponymous character travels back in time, we learn that shortly prior to his death, he had made a huge investment in "Planet Macarena" stock. After his future self warns him about this mistake, he then announces to "present" Steve that he will sell all his stock...and invest it in Tony Danza T-shirts.
- In an episode of The Big Bang Theory Sheldon has a flashback to going over his roommate contract with Leonard, which includes a clause that Friday nights are permanently reserved for the viewing of Firefly, stating that they "might as well make it official, the show is going to be on forever". It lasted (half of) one season.
- Similarly, Abed and Troy were obsessed with the short-lived show The Cape in a flashback scene from Community. They insist it'll last "six seasons and a movie!"
- One episode's stinger shows a flashback to 1993 where a man is offered a job to be the actor in a VHS game called "Pile of Bullets". His wife persuades him to take the job since according to her VHS games are gonna be at least as big as Star Wars. She even convinces him to give up his job at Apple Computers and the silly stock options they were giving him.
- In an episode of Mad Men, the publicity firm is hired by an enthusiastic Rich Idiot with No Day Job to introduce professional jai alai in the United States, convinced that it is going to be huge. Draper flat out tells the client that he is delusional, but since he insists he instructs his coworkers to shake him down.
- This is Truth in Television; at the time Mad Men is set jai alai was expected to be the next big thing, until various factors like "it's really heavily mob controlled" drove spectators away in hordes.
- In the sixth season numerous ad agencies compete over Chevy's next big thing, and Don in particular seemed very excited for its entirely different design. The car in question? Model number XP-887, later known as the Chevrolet Vega—a car that was initially well-liked, then became infamous for things like poor rust-proofing and engines that never worked to start with, leading to several recalls, one of which included a half million at once.
- In the first season of Boardwalk Empire, set in 1920, a businessman tells Nucky that there is an Italian man in Boston working with mail coupons that can return investments in a couple of weeks with a 45% increase. Nucky says that those numbers are absurd and that there must be something very wrong with that guy, but the other man replies that he has had successful returns a couple of times already and has invested now his whole fortune. A couple of episodes later, we learn that the businessman has lost all his money and that this Italian's name is Charles Ponzi.
- In season four, Nucky is in Florida where he meets a young salesman who is trying to sell him on investing in a local real estate project. Real estate development in Florida was a very popular investment at that time but Nucky is too smart to invest in this pipe dream. The Florida real estate boom of the 1920s ended in a massive bust and it would take decades for the market to recover. Ironically, Nucky later buys land in Florida but for the more sensible goal of using it as a front for his liquor smuggling operation. One major character who falls victim to this 'cannot lose' investment opportunity is gangster Arnold Rothstein and he is very unhappy about it.
- There's a similar joke in Downton Abbey; Lord Grantham, scouting around for ways to make back the money he lost investing in the recently-nationalised Canadian Grand Trunk Railway, notes that "There's a chap in America, what's his name, Charles Ponzi, who offers a huge return after 90 days." This prompts a Facepalm from Matthew, who's just been trying to explain the folly of get-rich-quick schemes.
- Incidentally, in Real Life, Ponzi fell victim himself to the opposite trope. Before he became a con artist, he thought up an idea for a centralized commercial and residential telephone directory, but everyone shot him down. Later, the Yellow Pages were introduced.
- In Happy Days, Both Richie and Howard believe that the United Nations will put an end to all wars.
- In an Alien Loves Predator strip, we learn that while Abe and Preston were in college in 1999, the former had decided to invest all his textbook money in shares of Pets.com, the unofficial poster child of the dot-com crash.