We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future
One of the signs that a story is taking place in The Future
(and not just Next Sunday A.D.
) is the elimination of all illnesses and disease
. Whether it's by a eugenics program
, a miracle cure-all
, or lots of mandatory Phys Ed
, people in the future simply won't get sick. This is often lampshaded by a future citizen talking about having a cure for the common cold.
Although almost as often, the common cold is the only thing that hasn't
been cured. A Cure For Cancer
is another hallmark.
A meeting between a super-healthy future person and a disease-ridden ancestor
can play out in several ways. Perhaps the futurist will be puzzled over the concept of illness, or offer their cure-all to the ancestor. A more cynical work might have the smug futurist suddenly get deathly ill, as the ancestor's myriad germs attack the immunity-less future person in an inadvertent case of biological warfare
Subtrope of Ideal Illness Immunity
. Often found in futures with Crystal Spires and Togas
and Perfect Pacifist People
. Also see Perfect Health
, Magic Antidote
, We Will Not Have Appendixes in the Future
, Human Popsicle
, and Transhumanism
. Contrast with Big Fat Future
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- In the original Squadron Supreme limited series:
- When Gadgeteer Genius Tom Thumb fails to find a cure for cancer, he travels to the 40th century to get their "Panacea Potion", which cures all diseases in that era. When he finally returns to the present with it, he discovers that it's just a simple concoction of vitamins and penicillin — because the people of the future are already healthy, that's all they need to stay healthy.
- This trope is also implied by the use of hibernaculums, where the terminally ill are placed in suspended animation with the assumption that a cure for their ailment will be found in the future.
- While there are diseases in the world of Judge Dredd (some very nasty), the common cold has been eliminated to the point that it is almost used as a biological weapon.
- Transmetropolitan also shows that disease catches up with society, but smoking has lost most of its stigma, as people can "install" genetic traits in themselves that make them immune to carcinogens.
- In one EC Comics story, a man and a woman who can't be together decide to use the man's newly invented cryotube to escape into the future. They sleep for five hundred years (but not before the man makes a small deposit in a bank that grows into billions of dollars with interest) and awaken rich and famous in a utopian future, where mankind has had perfect health for several generations. Unfortunately, the woman had a cold, which none of the future population has any resistance to, and within a few months everyone on Earth (except them) is dead.
- One character in the Rogue Trooper Spin-Off, The 86ers implies that the GI project would have had byproducts that could have cured certain diseases. His own progeria has been treated so that his life span extends to his mid-fifties as opposed to fourteen untreated. Naturally, after the Quartz Zone Massacre and the project is cancelled, he is forced to find alternatives.
- Star Trek:
- Played for comedy in Woody Allen's Sleeper, in which a health food store owner wakes up in a futuristic society that has discovered that sweets are actually good for you, making everyone's health perfect.
- Zig-zagged in 2015 in Back to the Future Part II. As Marty finds out, seventy-something Doc Brown was able to get a rejuvination in 2015, adding a good "thirty to forty years" to his life and giving him enough pep and youth to have a thirty-something love interest in the third movie. In addition, bionic implants are also available in 2015, as demonstrated by Griff and his gang. However, Old Biff is a stooped-over old man with a cane, and Old George McFly has thrown out his back and needs to be inverted for treatment.
- Brave New World depicts a society where humanity is healthy and care-free due to eugenic selection and healthcare. Not that it's necessarily a utopia. This is also an unusual variant in that life expectency is actually shorter, but people appear young and healthy up until they drop dead at age 60.
- Uglies gives us the "Pretty Operation" which gives people beauty and resistance to disease... among other things.
- The science-fiction novel Nova has a future where absolutely all disease has been eradicated. A character who has a broad knowledge of history explains some aspects of past hygiene (washing your hands, not eating food off the ground, etc.) and his comrades are flabbergasted at the idea. That bit of dialogue is introduced by a character handing another a piece of food... with his foot.
- The Culture is free of unwanted disease. Solving pan-human Proteomics is, to the Minds, akin to doing a crossword; a recreational challenge. Amusingly, in Use of Weapons, some people decide to give themselves colds for fun.
- In Vernor Vinge's Marooned In Realtime, people living in the far future have the medical technology to eliminate all disease and ageing — but what if you outlive the civilisation holding it all up?
- In The Night Mayor by Kim Newman, the protagonists are writers, and there's a sequence about the difficulties of the hack romantic novelist now that science has eliminated all the diseases that heroines used to romantically die of.
- In Isaac Asimov's Robot series, Earthers have lifespans comparable to 20th century Americans, where the eugenically-perfected Spacers tend not to experience "middle age" until turning 250 or so. They enforce this by carefully controlling the microbes introduced to their worlds from Earthers, and look down on the filthy disgusting shortlived Earthmen. The Spacers' weakened immune systems mean that when an Earthman visits, the visitor has to be thoroughly sterilized and most of the Spacers wear gloves and nose-plugs and keep their distance. It does have its price - there is no alcohol nor tobacco on any Spacer world, and as for the required prosthetics (it is common to have a few artificial joints and fingers by 250), any reference to them is the strictest taboo possible.
- In Succession, all the major factions have absolutely no disease at all. However, they maintain a joint neutral zone called the Plague Axis in which diseases are allowed to flourish among the inhabitants just in case a new plague ever arises and they might be able to find a cure among the diseased. Inhabitant of the Plague Axis are required to wear environmental isolation suits when on envoys to the other factions. The Plaguemen are descendants of the poor who couldn't afford the massive gene-"fixing" everyone else got a thousand years or so before the start of the story. It wasn't until after the genes for autism and unattractiveness were removed that people realized they had benefits.
- In Kir Bulychev's series Alice, Girl from the Future, by the end of 21st century humans have cured every known disease, and even common cold will be cured soon. They also enjoy better health and fitness in general, to such an extent that when Alice travels back to the 70s of the 20th century, she exhibits athletic skills considered superhuman by locals.
- Strugatsky brothers' Noon Universe:
- In Inhabited Island, the protagonist is not only considered ridiculously strong by the Human Alien inhabitants of a Diesel Punk planet he is stranded on, but apparently can run for tens of miles without stopping, hold his breath for ten minutes, and survive several point-blank bullet shots.
- Later novels attribute this potential to an in-vitro embryo treatment which reconfigures various bodily systems and enables use of otherwise dormant microorgans. In the cycle's final novel, The Time Wanderers, the protagonist is investigating numerous bizarre occurences such as refusal of mothers to apply this treatment to their yet unborn children. Turns out that the procedure's drawback is reducing the chance for the child to have the already rare potential to evolve into a Transhuman species (which, while benevolent, lives among humans under The Masquerade because they are afraid of demoralizing those without such evolutionary potential).
- In The Secret Visitors by James White, the advanced science of galactic society has brought preventative medicine and safety technology to such a pitch that people live for centuries without a day's illness or injury. The downside is that the knowledge base of curative medicine has completely atrophied, so that if somebody does somehow get injured, nobody knows what to do. When a character is shot in the leg during a visit to the primitive planet Earth, his crewmates initially assume he's as good as dead, and then regard the doctor who patches him up as a miracle-worker.
- Given a dark spin in Feed, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant- they cured cancer and the common cold, but the two viruses that were engineered to do the curing mutated together, and that virus turns people into zombies.
- Discussed extensively in H. G. Wells' The Time Machine. The time traveller suspects that the people of the future, having conquered all disease, found no reason to develop any further technologically. Because of this, they degenerated into mindless beasts. This seems a valid theory at first, until he realizes with creeping horror that he also doesn't see any broken legs or other inevitable injuries. It's because the underground humans prey on the weak at night.
- A Big plot-point in The War of the Worlds - since the Martians had eradicated all disease long ago, they no longer had any defence against it, causing them to get wiped out by earth pathogens.
- In Wither, scientists used genetic engineering to eliminate all disease so that everyone lives very healthy, extremely long lives. The first generation, that is. Successive generations are also very healthy, but the males all die at the age of twenty-five, and the females at the age of twenty. Whoops.
- In one Star Trek Expanded Universe novel, Tasha Yar is surprised to find someone wearing actual physical glasses instead of using Space-LASIK.
- In the novel Manifold: Origin, by Stephen Baxter, cancer is apparently curable via a regiment of giant cancer-fighting pills (similar to taking a round of antibiotics). It's still treated as a serious illness, however, as one character reacts with anger when they find another character had been hiding their cancer diagnosis from them.
- In Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, Earth humans have roughly the same level of medical science as us (a treatment for Multiple sclerosis is mentioned but is not 100% effective). However, the Mars humans (who have had millions of years over their Earth cousins) have developed a way to transform into what they call the Fourth Life Stage (after childhood, adolescence, and adulthood), allowing them to live for many more decades. In order to avoid a population boom, those who choose to undergo the procedure are forbidden from reproducing. The novel itself starts with the protagonist (an Earth human) undergoing the same procedure while having flashbacks to when it all started as a side-effect of the process.
- Mikhail Akhmanov and Christopher Gilmore's Captain French, or the Quest for Paradise has humans on most settled planets have cures for all ills, including aging. Cell Regeneration (or CR for short) is a one-time treatment that stops the aging process in its tracks. It's completely reversible, although the reverse is only done as punishment for heinous crimes (in lieu of the death penalty). The titular protagonist was actually born on Earth before CR was developed but spent much of his life performing relativistic jumps. He got the treatment much later than most (early 50s), and his graying hair causes looks of puzzlement to most. Even a planet full of religious fanatics not only doesn't ban CR but provides it for free as God's blessing. It's also the only planet that doesn't have the aging punishment, believing it to be blasphemy (i.e. if God wanted humans to die of old age, He wouldn't have given us CR). Other medical breakthroughs include bio-sculpting, which allows anyone (especially women) to change their body to whatever they wish. In the protagonist's opinion, this results in most women looking very similar to one another. In fact, he ends up picking his new wife because her beauty (and green eyes) is natural.
- The Vorkosigan Saga has elements of this. Citizens of Beta Colony, with its advanced technology and gene cleaning, can expect to get 120 years standard. The Cetagandans, with their genetic manipulation (among the haut at least) can also live past the century mark, and possibly longer. In contrast, Barrayar, which is emerging from the Time of Isolation and medieval medicine, is dealing with a number of health problems (one character, at 70, is considered old for Barrayar but only middle-aged galactically), but they are improving health standards.
- In Neal Asher's Cowl, futuristic humans have advanced physically to the degree where they are superhumanly strong, fast, and intelligent compared to the "current" humans when they travel back in time. A "current" human has his body and mind, re-engineered, so that he can even operate when he is brought forwards in time.
- In the Animorphs prequel The Andalite Chronicles, Elfangor notes that human technology is so primitive doctors "can't even treat a simple tumor without cutting large holes in the body."
- partially subverted, though. Andalites still have at least one deadly infectious disease. It merely causes flu like symptoms in other species, but causes an organ in the andalite's brain to rupture, which must be removed at a specific time, or they will die, somewhat like appendicitis.
- Played to different degrees and consistency in the various Star Trek works:
- In the original TV show, Kirk is amazed when they discover a planet where nobody is sick and marvels at the potential to extend human life.
- Now-Admiral McCoy puts in a cameo appearance in the premiere episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, at the age of 137 and looking about 70-80 by modern standards.
- In the first season Next Generation episode "The Battle", Beverly Crusher is amazed that Captain Picard has a headache in this day and age: "In the past people used to just get headaches", implying that in the future we will all either be fit and healthy, or suffering from a serious illness, with nothing in between. However, in "Ensign Ro" an admiral starts the episode with a common cold, which Wesley Crusher referred to in an earlier episode as "a disease my mom says humans used to get."
- Next Generation does, however, present various genetic disorders that there are apparently no cures for, have not been for some time, and not likely to be any time soon. Sarek's appearances on the series show him as suffering from a Vulcan equivalent of Alzheimer's (in various stages), and in the last episode Picard is diagnosed as having the potential for a similar dementia-based human genetic disorder... in the sequences that take place in the series' future, it still hasn't been cured.
- By the time of Star Trek: Voyager, though, medical science seems to have gone backwards. Captain Janeway has several headaches. This is possibly a justified aversion by the fact that Voyager is stuck in the Delta Quadrant years away from Federation space, so perhaps the medicine or technology needed isn't as readily available.
- Although this is also easily explained by Janeway's headaches being stress-induced or psychosomatic rather than an indicator of illness. One of the things she repeatedly notes as giving her a headache is trying to comprehend the logic of time travel.
- Doctor Who:
- In the 1960s story "The Ark", they visited the disease-free far future, and gave the locals their cold.
- In 2006's New Earth, the religious order the Sisters of Plentitude attempt to create a disease-free world for the human race. While their motives are charitable, their methods are less than ethical.
- Cancer is mentioned to have been cured by the 22nd century in Time Trax. Additionally, people are generally much healthier and more fit. See this excerpt from the pilot narration describing the protagonist:
He grew up a normal child of his times: IQ 204, Speed Memorization rate 1.2 pages per second (slightly above average). He was a competent athlete. His best speed for the 100 meters was 8.6 seconds, and for the Mile Run - 3 minutes 38 seconds. He wondered how the Olympic Champion could ever have done it twenty seconds faster. His heartbeat was a normal 35 beats per minute. His life expectancy - 120 years. His lungs were average, capable of air storage up to six minutes. Beta wave training had given his generation mind control capabilities unavailable fifty years before his birth. One of these was the ability to slow down the speed of visual images reaching the brain, popularly called "time stalling". It demanded rigorous training.
- Invoked in Power Rangers Time Force: The Designer Babies of the year 3000 are immune to all known diseases.
- In GURPS with the Bio-Tech supplement, you can pick an advantage called Pan-immunity to make your character disease resistant.
- In Champions, Immune to disease is one of the advantages under Life support.
- Warhammer 40,000: In the grim darkness of the far future, health care for military veterans is so good that just about anything short of having one's brain destroyed is survivable. Spectacular advances in surgery and augmetic enhancements allow just about anyone to live for two hundred years or more, and that's assuming you don't splurge on a mechanical coffin that can preserve you for millennia. However, for the average Imperial on the street who can't afford such luxuries, this trope is comprehensively averted; poor health and disease are commonplace throughout the Imperium, and that's before the god of disease itself starts paying special attention to you.
- Zig-zagged in the backstory to HC SVNT DRACONES, the Vectors that replaced humanity were initially engineered to be immune to all known diseases at the time, which resulted in a health crisis when the pathogens mutated, the healthcorps almost went broke trying to cure all the new diseases but eventually they figured it out and became some of the wealthiest megacorps in the system. Then, 300 years later, a division of the espionage corp Spyglass, known as Progenitus, discovered that the healthcorps had discovered cures for everything and were greatly inflating the prices, they made it public. In the present Progenitus provides universal healthcare to every corptown willing to protect them and support them with a very small tax.
- Deliberately averted in The Dragon Doctors, which takes place two thousand years in the future (and where they have magic). Magic has made medicine faster, but no less complex, and has introduced thousands of magical diseases, hence why the comic is about magical doctors solving bizarre afflictions.
- In the futuristic city of 4-U City, injury, disease, and unhappiness have been wiped out. Aggressively. With nanobots and copious amounts of drugs.
- The future of Times Like This has Ready Remedy vending machines, which dispenses medicine that completely cures over 25,000 ailments.
- Justice League uses this to explain why Static is still up for hero duty in the Batman Beyond era.
- In one episode of Futurama Fry accidentally re-introduces the long extinct common cold. The symptoms aren't much worse than they are for modern people but the government still plastic-wraps New New York and makes plans to toss it into the sun before the Professor recreates the vaccine.
- Even before this episode it is made clear that health care and medication are far better in the 31st century than in the present, resulting in a massive increase in the average life spans for humans. Living past the age of 160 is very common (which is why the Near Death Star was built), and flashbacks about professor Farnsworth's life show that even a man in his eighties can still look like a man in his late thirties - early forties in the world of Futurama. Also, injuries that would be permanently crippling to us (like having your hands bitten off by a T-Rex) are mere annoyances.