To the Future, and Beyond
"In the year 2525, if man is still alive..."
Zager and Evans
Contrary to certain well-regarded opinions
, there is always
more of the future. Been to 2015
to check out the neat flying cars and holographic movies? Why stop there? Why not take a jaunt to the 23rd century
, stow away aboard a starship and seek out new life and new civilizations? Or skip ahead a few millennia, enlist in the Imperial Guard
and fight for the glory of the God-Emperor of Mankind? Just be careful you don't go too far, or else you might run into malicious little transhumans in flying capsules festooned with all kinds of lethal gadgetry...
Some works treat "the future" as a brick wall: once you get there, you don't get to go any further. Others are well aware that once you introduce anything beyond the mundane present day, the sky's the limit (or, more accurately, the heat death of the universe).
- In Millennium, agents from the future (31st Century) are using desperate means to replace the dying human race with people abducted from the 20th century from airplanes just before they crash. Due to the deteriorating time line, however, the 31st Century is rocked by temporal distortions (or timequakes) which force the re-population effort to rely on their backup plan: send everyone into the far, far future. The fate of the main characters (and possibly humanity?) is represented by 1980s abstract visual effects.
- Happens in both movie version of The Time Machine.
- Played with in the 1960 version, where the protagonist leaves 1900 to visit the "future" years of 1917, 1940 and 1966 before stopping in 802,701.
- In the 2002 movie, the protagonist stops in 2030, 2037 and 802,701, also briefly witnessing a Bad Future... er, in 635,427,810.
- In The Time Machine, the Time Traveler already went extremely far into the future, but after his adventure he gets the idea to go even farther. He ends up seeing a dying Earth inhabited by only strange creatures like giant crabs and strange blobs. Terrified, the Time Traveler flees back to his own time.
- In the Poul Anderson novel There Will Be Time, the protagonist travels forward in time, beyond the Maurai Federation's rise and fall to a future in which his own long-term programs have paid off: humans have made contact with extraterrestrial beings and are assimilating into a broader galactic culture with the help of experienced human space travelers and time travelers.
- The protagonist of The Man Who Folded Himself notes that you run into difficulties when traveling too far into the future (or past), with one of the first problems being the evolution of language making you and the natives mutually incomprehensible. Travel further and they end up not even being recognizably human.
- In "Blood", a short story by Fredric Brown, two vampires escape lynching with a time machine. They travel to more and more distant futures in order to find an age when vampires have been forgotten, so that nobody can recognize them as a threat. When they finally find it, they are stranded there with no fuel — all radioactive isotopes on Earth have already decayed. And the dominant lifeform is plants.
- Poul Anderson's Tau Zero is essentially this trope turned Up to Eleven IN SPACE!, although with a single continuous travel instead of a number of discrete ones.
- In the Italian novel 190 miliardi di anni dopo (190 billion years later), a paleontologist goes Human Popsiclenote in the hope of being revived by a more advanced civilization. He wakes up in a world of half-dolphins half-humans, but his reviving causes an unpleasant politic stirrup, so he timeskips again... And again as some AIs decide he'd look very good in a museum... And again to avoid freezing to death in a glaciation... At a point, he's talking to intelligent photons near the heat death of the universe. And then the real Mind Screw begins.
- Happens twice to Viktor Sorricaine, the main (human) protagonist of Frederik Pohl's novel The World at the End of Time thanks to suspended animation and relativistic contraction of time.
- The third novel of the Spin trilogy ends with Isaac, Treya/Allison, and Turk traveling to a faraway human colony at sublight speeds but with Time Dilation, allowing for days to pass for the travelers instead of millennia. Then Treya/Allison and Turk stay with the humans, while Isaac continues on his journey, eventually seeing the stars winking out and even black holes evaporating. Meanwhile, humans and other races have learned to "upload" themselves to the Hypothetical network to survive the end of the universe. Isaac follows suit and finds himself in the Multiverse among other ancient races that have survived the ends of their universes.
- Inverted in Son of Man by Robert Silverberg: it takes place in a single time (in the far future), but several characters are time travelers from intermediate eras between the present and the novel's setting.
- In Future Times Three, by Rene Barjavel, the protagonists visit both the year 2052 — where they witness the collapse of civilization — and the year 100.000, where what's left of mankind has evolved into something unrecognizable. Some reconnaissance trips between the two ages help them understand how this evolution took place.
- Star Trek already takes place in our future in the first place, but occasionally the crews have to deal with time travelers from even much farther away in the future. Some examples are the Vorgons from the The Next Generation episode "Captain's Holiday", Captain Braxton and the time ship USS Relativity from Voyager, or Daniels and his enemies in the Temporal Cold War from Star Trek: Enterprise.
- Doctor Who. Just... the whole thing.
- Empire Earth is divided in fourteen epochs, including two future ones: Digital Age and Nano Age. Empire Earth: The Art of Conquest adds Space Age too.
- Chrono Trigger had you travel from the present to the past, the prehistoric past, the bleak future, and way way to the future down to the End of Time itself.
- Played with in Cartoon Fight Club, which is more of "Battle of the Future against the Beyond" in the battle of Batman Beyond (future) fighting against Spider Man 2099 (beyond). Despite coming from an even further future, Miguel is no different from Spider Man aside from adding a few weaknesses and removing Spider Man's greatest asset, his Spidey-Sense. On the other hand, Terry is literally the original Batman but a lot better and has equipments that can counter and exploit Miguel's strengths and weaknesses respectively.
- Dexter's Laboratory: In Ego Trip, Dexter goes farther into the future of his life, from him as a standard worker in a cubicle, to him as a Future Badass and finally, him as an old man.
- Johnny Test: In the episode "Sonic Johnny," after Johnny inadvertently sets his Super Sonic Scooter that his sisters made him to the Mach 9 setting which not only sends Johnny and Dukey to the future, but makes all the technology in Porkbelly short out. In the future, he is a wanted criminal, and Johnny keeps going further into the future to escape them. Not surprisingly, he is still wanted, and not until the end of the episode do they finally go back home.
- Futurama, "The Late Phillip J. Fry." Fry, Bender and Prof. Farnsworth are on a time machine that only goes forward. In testing it by going ahead one minute, they accidentally go too far, so they try to find a future where backwards time travel is possible. They end up going to the end of the universe, only to discover the same universe starting again, so they just go forward to the point where they started (and they end up doing it twice because they overshoot the mark again).