Quotes: I Want My Jet Pack

The future ain't what it used to be.
— Origin unknown; this trope in a nutshell.


Doctor Thirteen: I'm waiting on that jet-pack they promised us in the sixties.
Architect: As'm I... still.
Doctor Thirteen: Well, you're not going to get it. But you still cling to the promise. We all do.

Hsu: 2001 is OVER. All your hopes and dreams for 2001—dashed!
Chan: No flying cars! No hyper-intelligent robots! No pixie-like girls in shiny silver miniskirts!
Hsu: "Darn," on that last one, by the way.

Hobbes: A new decade is coming up.
Calvin: Yeah, big deal! Hmph. Where are the flying cars? Where are the moon colonies? Where are the personal robots and the zero gravity boots, huh? You call this a new decade?! You call this the future?? HA! Where are the rocket packs? Where are the disintegration rays? Where are the floating cities?
Hobbes: Frankly, I'm not sure people have the brains to manage the technology they've got.
Calvin: I mean, look at this! We still have weather?! Give me a break!

    Fan Works 
"Antigravity? It is 2015 already. Where's my hoverboard, punk? Where is it?!"

    Film — Live-action 

Wait a minute, this is the future... where are all the phaser guns?
Simon Phoenix, Demolition Man

    Live-action TV 

Leo McGarry: My generation never got the future it was promised... Thirty-five years later, cars, air travel is exactly the same. We don't even have the Concorde anymore. Technology stopped.
Josh Lyman: The personal computer...?
Leo McGarry: A more efficient delivery system for gossip and pornography? Where's my jet pack, my colonies on the Moon?

I walked up on to this stage, when we all know I should have FLOWN. Via jetpack! Who's with me?... Are my shoes electric? No. Does my pillow comb my hair at night, while I am sleeping? No, sadly, it does not. So where, I ask you, is the hoverboard technology we all saw in Back to the Future 2 over twenty years ago!
Shawn Spencer, Psych

We've all got gadgets coming out of our ears; ipods, satnavs, an electrical item for every job. To many, it must seem like we're living in the future. But to others, the cry has always been: "Well if this is the future, then where's my jetpack?" Well today, those people will definitely have a smile on their face."

Dear BBC. Well it's now 30 years down the line, and I'm no closer to owning a robotic housemaid. Tomorrow's World? Tomorrow's Horseshit, more like!
Ed Byrne: , Mock the Week, "Unlikely letters to be read out on Points of View"


I thought by now we'd live in space
and eat a pill instead of dinner
and wear a gas mask on our face,
a President of female gender.
Though progress marches on,
our troubles will grow strong
and my expectancies, become my fantasies.
You turn my blood to sand, the earth stands still again.
Daniel Amos, "(It's the Eighties, So Where's Our) Rocket Packs"

Where's my hovercraft?
Where's my jetpack?
Where's the font of acquired wisdom that eludes me now?
They Might Be Giants, "The World Before Later On"


The skies are always dark with airborne filth in this Los Angeles of the future. It usually rains. The infrastructure looks a lot like now, except older and more crowded, and with the addition of vast floating zeppelins, individual flying cars, and towering buildings of unimaginable size. When I first saw the film I was impressed by the giant billboards with moving, speaking faces on them, touting Coca-Cola and other products. Now I walk over to Millennium Park and see giant faces looming above me, smiling, winking, and periodically spitting (but not Coke). As for the flying cars, these have been a staple of sci-fi magazine covers for decades, but remain wildly impractical and dangerous, unless locked into a control grid.
Roger Ebert on Blade Runner


Boy: It's 2011. I want my flying car.
Girl: Dude. You're complaining to me on a phone, on which you buy and read books. And which you were using to play a 3D shooter until I interrupted you with what would be a video call if I was wearing a shirt.
Boy: Can't I have a flying car, too?
Girl: You'd crash it while texting and playing Angry Birds.

It can contact nearly anyone in the world, locate me on aerial maps, and plot directions to any location in the country. It is unquestionably the future, and you would have crashed your stupid flying car anyway.

Mark: This isn't the future! THIS IS THE LOUSY STINKIN' NOW!
John: We still have hope for 2030 or even 2020. I mean, people are working on humanoid robots as we speak!
A filler comic from StongRadd's webcomic-to-be

    Web Original 

Where are my robowhores? Bring me my robowhores!
The Perfesser, "Reynolds' Universal Robots"

This Supreme Court is always a whisper away from outlawing blowjobs and allowing dead white Georgians to vote. They just overturned a portion of the Voting Rights Act, for shit's sake. We are a country that has the ability to build skytrains and have digital porn billboards, and yet, thanks to a divided Supreme Court and political stonewallers on both the left and the right, we're still gonna be arguing about the same, tired bullshit we always have fifty years from now instead of actually living in the future. What a load.
Drew Magary, Make It Stop

I feel sorry for those who think innovation will ever lead humanity to some new era of intelligence and social awareness. Hacktivists and crowdsourcing and cryptocurrencies and WikiLeaks are all proof...we’re not giving the elite much incentive to let us keep these freedoms, although mobile devices and the Internet are proving to be a wonderful at pacifying people too.

O'Malley: How did you know these were rocket pants?
Whiskey: O'Malley, if you woke up in the future and you weren't wearing rocket pants, what's the first thing you'd do?
O'Malley: Kick everything's ass.
Whiskey: That's right. And since you weren't ducking when I woke up, I knew my pants could fly.

The future had never really been built past the change of the millennium, and without that to anchor it there was just a vast, featureless present. Even technological advancement had become oddly fixed and predictable. The future came in regularly scheduled product launches headlined by Steve Jobs, incremental, predictable, and mostly leaked to rumor sites a few weeks in advance. It was not even a hugely pessimistic historical moment. Rather it was one captured by a grim banality. Nothing changes. Humanity sits past the ghost point, all the ideas and storming progress of the twentieth century ground to a point. For a hundred years now we had assumed we were building to something — that there was some sort of stable endpoint that all the churn and upheaval pointed towards. Whether that endpoint was utopia or armageddon was up in the air, but the broad idea that history was going somewhere wasn’t. Instead, however, the wheels simply fell off, and the tow truck never came. We sat, abandoned on history’s roadside, left thinking, “is this all there was?” And, seeing no sign of civilization, we tweeted about it.

The Clinton Administration came in in early 1993. This administration had its focus on the domestic economy...With budget cuts necessary, NASA was an obvious target. Public humiliations like the revelation that the Hubble telescope was near-sighted did not help. The organisation found itself moving further and further away from pioneering space flight and opened the industry up to international or private efforts. The decline of NASA was such a public spectacle that even shows like The X-Files ('Space') and The Simpsons ('Deep Space Homer') touched on it.

The wondrous space-faring future of Star Trek seemed further away than ever. 'Jetrel' seems like a way top address these anxieties, exploring the legacy of splitting the atom. It feels like a reflection on early atomic era optimism, wondering whether the cost had been worth it. It was also perhaps a way of mourning the passage of that optimism and enthusiasm — the idea that the future might find a way to turn destructive scientific advances into the gateway to a better tomorrow.

"You know what's so disappointing about the future?" growled the torrid half-Klingon. "NO FLYING CARS!" She swung back her arm and hurled the speedster as hard and far as she could.
Attack of the 50-Ft Half-Klingon

"Unless you're over 60, you weren't promised flying cars. You were promised an opressive cyberpunk dystopia. Here you go."
Kyle Marquis

"Boy, were we off base. It isn't simply that the predictions were wrong. No one with half a brain really expected that sort of accuracy. And true, though some marvels did not come to pass, others that were and weren't predicted did. We certainly live very different lives from that of our fathers and grandfathers. That is not in dispute. But what did not happen is what many expected, though never talked about much. Assuming that we dodged the 1984, Brave New World bullet, our future was supposed to be a sort of technocratic, atomic-powered, computer-controlled, antiseptic, space-travelling Jerusalem that would at last free us from the curse of Eden and original sin...We expected a sort of bloodless, benign French Revolution with Hugo Gernsback as our Voltaire and Carl Sagan as our Robespierre. And what did we get? The City of Man with Tivo."

I'm going to write a story set after the Singularity, a million years hence, when we are all intergalactically-empowered immortal sentiences in the Beyond, and people will STILL BE COMPLAINING ABOUT NOT HAVING SODDING JETPACKS.

    Web Video 

Wait a minute, those existed in the 50s?! What a rip-off! I want one! I demand one right now!
The Spoony Experiment, during his riffing on Captain Z-Ro

In five years, we're gonna have flying cars and hoverboards and self-lacing shoes... it better happen. Otherwise they should have made it the year 3000. Even if they made it 2100, we'd all be dead! It wouldn't make a difference anyway! Better to be a mystery than to be wrong!

    Western animation 

You can't say everyone's got a water buffalo when everyone does not have a water buffalo! We're going to get nasty letters saying 'Where's my water buffalo?' 'Why don't I have a water buffalo?' and are you prepared to deal with that?! I don't think so! Just stop. Being. So. SILLY!
Archibald Asparagus, Veggie Tales

How can we breathe with no air? Where's Grandpa Max? If this is the future, does everybody have jetpacks? Who won the last five world series? No seriously, ''where are the jetpacks?
10 year old Ben, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien

    Real Life 

Scientific truth was going to make us so happy and comfortable. What actually happened when I was twenty-one was that we dropped scientific truth on Hiroshima.

The irony is that last century’s modernism cannot turn into a thing of the past without losing its identity, because it wanted so desperately to embody the future. Like the glass and steel cubes of modernist buildings, it cannot afford to become old, to become the past, because that is totally undermining its raison d’ętre. When the future becomes the past, the one cancels out the other and the result is emptiness.
John Borstlap, The Classical Revolution: Thoughts on New Music in the 21st Century

Today it is marvelous indeed to watch on television the rings of Saturn close and to speculate on what we may yet find at galaxy's edge. But in the process, we have lost the human element; not to mention the high hope of those quaint days when flight would create 'one world.' Instead of one world, we have 'star wars,' and a future in which dumb, dented human toys will drift aimlessly about the cosmos after our small planet's dead.
Gore Vidal, "On Flying"