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Hilarious In Hindsight / Literature

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  • A recurring bit in Angels and Demons is how the election of a new Pope is basically ignored. Only a few news crews are around, there's no talk on it and at one point, a reporter does a story before a green screen image of the Vatican. This is all meant to indicate that the very concept of the Pope is considered outdated by 2000. Five years after the novel was published, the election of Benedict XVI was a global event covered live by every news station on the planet with huge discussion of what it meant to the world.
  • In Charles Stross' The Atrocity Archive, written in 1999, the author was looking for an obscure terrorist who was none the less likely to strike on American soil. In the book this terrorist gets his occult weapon mass destruction from Saddam, and is based in Afghanistan. Originally the terrorist in question was, you guessed right, Osama bin Laden. The book was published in late 2001 and his publisher suggested he change this to some other terrorist who is still obscure, which Stross did.
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  • There is an 18th century childrens book about a "Baron Trump" travelling into hollow earth. Due to the name resemblance to Trumps son Barron and a mentor figure in the book named Don, this became an internet meme.
  • The Bible
  • Early in The Breath of God by Harry Turtledove (part of the Opening of the World trilogy), a man gets an arrow to the knee. Ulric Skakki resolves this in the same scene with a tool specifically designed to remove arrows. This was three years before Skyrim.
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  • In the second Brotherband book (published in 2012), Barat, the man who's running for office, declares his intention to "make [his town] great again," and wins the election handily. How much of his character parallels that of Donald Trump is another matter entirely, but readers, especially those of a certain political bent, will find this hilarious.
  • In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden says that if he ever gets drafted, he'll volunteer to sit on a nuclear bomb as it is dropped. Twelve years later...
  • A children's educational book in The Knowledge series called Crashing Computers, published in 1999, talks about policy discussions on the 10 Downing Street website and makes a joke about paying kids to go to school. A few years later, the Government created the Education Maintenance Allowance, paying some 16-18 year olds to go to school.
    • Some countries (e.g. Finland) had student benefits years before 1999, so it's more of a case of Hilarious When Put Into Multinational Perspective.
  • Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs cited "All By Myself" as a member of the bathetic "you-don't-love-me-so-it's-time-to-jump-into-the-bathtub-with-an-electrical-appliance genre". The movie Me Myself I used the song for that exact dramatic situation.
    • Also, this book was published well before Emo became popular...
  • Discworld:
    • In the first book, the heroes are surprised by a troll that appeared suddenly in their path, having been whisked away from its home in the mountains some thousands of miles away, in order to appear as a random encounter in the Dungeons & Dragons game of the Gods. While it was in reference to random Tabletop RPG encounters, the way it was described — a sound, the world looking "strange" and a monster suddenly popping up — mirror exactly the random battles in most console RPGs. This was in 1983, three years before Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy, although Ultima III was from 1983.
    • In Maskerade, during the final opera performance, we're shown Nobby Nobbs and Detritus as undercover-in-plain-sight cops, pretending to be nobility enjoying a night at the Opera. Nobby introduces them as "Count de Nobbes" and "Count de Tritus", resulting in Nanny Ogg turning away before she bursts into laughter at how badly they suck at being undercover. Then, in the very next book Feet of Clay, Nobby is revealed as the last remaining heir of the Earl of Ankh — where bystanders continually comment that he looks and acts just like real royalty. Nobby sucking at trying to act like fake royalty: funny. Nobby subsequently considered to be acting like true royalty by being his usual gross-out self? Hi-larious...
    • Another Pratchett one in Carpe Jugulum: Having an Ax-Crazy vampire parody Tom Cruise's character in Interview with the Vampire - funny; Reading this parody against Tom Cruise's current reputation? Hilarious.
    • Vlad is accused of only liking Agnes because he can't read her mind. Between that, and the odd amount of sparkling that goes on in Thud!, there is much in the way of unintentional humor if you're at all familiar with Twilight or The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries, for that matter.
    • In Thief of Time there's a gentleman's club with a Rule 34. To be precise, Rule 34b at Fidgett's states that women cannot enter the club except at a certain time and date, which leads to members assuming any women they see inside the club outside of that narrow window of time must be figments of their imagination. The narration then notes that in Susan's case, with her strict schoolteacher outfit and black high heels, this could easily be the case.
    • The anti-war novels Jingo and Monstrous Regiment have echoes in conflicts that have broken out since they were published, but since "war is stupid, and all wars are stupid in much the same ways" is kind of the point, this is not surprising. Likewise with Making Money's jabs at the magical thinking inherent in economics.
    • The only logical conclusion is that Terry Pratchett is either clairvoyant or a time traveler (and he did steal Unseen University from Hogwarts!).
      • Word of God claims that "with amazing prescience, I saw no future in a series based around a college of magic and wanted UU to stabilise a bit to give me headroom for other stories."
    • An early Watch book mentions that mass-circulation newspapers hadn't been invented yet in Ankh-Morpork, "leaving the public to fool themselves". Then Pratchett gets around to writing The Truth...
    • One of The Wee Free Men says he's "bigger on the inside" in a straightforward Doctor Who reference. Then, later on in the book, Tiffany comes across unnatural shadows that move around without any light source...
    • Also in that book is Tiffany rescuing someone from a dream by killing him, and being informed by said individual that they might still be trapped in a dream and be unable to tell the difference. The dream is populated by stuff from the dreamer's memories. Oh, and Tiffany was in said dream because she and the WFM wanted to steal something. Date of publication: 2003.
      • In Making Money a man goes through a crisis of faith; he follows his ancestors large footsteps, strangles a minor character is a rather loud manner, there's a trial, he honks, and stops being homicidal. This book was written about two years before Homestuck and about four before Gamzee's freak out.
    • In Mort, Albert and the eponymous character discuss the afterlife briefly. Albert says that regardless of what the afterlife is, he surely must have a lot of enemies over there. What is Mort's response? That he'll "need friends on the other side".
      • This becomes doubly amusing when you find out Disney considered adapting Mort into a movie.
    • Sybil's first words to Vimes are "I say, do you know anything about mating?" At the time, she was referring to breeding dragons, but Vimes didn't know that and was horrified. In the next book Vimes marries Sybil, and eventually they have a son. Guess he knew something about mating after all. Another one regarding Sam and Sybil's future was 71-Hour Ahmed in Jingo telling Vimes, "May your loins be full of fruit," which is a funny line to begin with, but The Fifth Elephant is the next Vimes book after Jingo and is the one where Sybil announces her pregnancy.
  • In Michael Crichton's 1994 novel Disclosure, discussing a computer help program:
    Don Cherry: "We thought of making it a blue fairy, but didn't want to offend anyone."
  • Vampires becoming sex symbols in modern media makes it kinda hilarious how it's brought up in Dracula (although there blood transfusions is noted in-universe as a metaphor for marriage, not sex), where Van Helsing laughs at how ridiculous it is.
  • Dresden Files:
    • In Ghost Story, Butters commented that he'd accept fight training from Marcone's hired Einherjar five minutes after getting a functional lightsaber. Come Skin Game...
    • In Small Favor Harry put a bogus service-dog cloak on Mouse to get him into public facilities. As of Skin Game Mouse is a legit service-dog helping out Maggie in school.
    • This bit of dialogue from Cold Days after Ebenezar nearly kills Harry in a fit of rage in Peace Talks:
      Harry: What happens if I go back in time to kill my grandfather?
      Vadderung: He beats you senseless, I expect.
  • Encycolpedia Brown: Encyclopedia's rarely mentioned real first name is Leroy. That name is the only apparent thing Encyclopedia has in common with another fictional Leroy Brown, who is the focus of a song that came out about ten years after the first book in the series.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In the fourth Harry Potter book, Mad-Eye Moody (the fake one) repeats "Constant vigilance!" over and over. When this first came out, it seemed outdated. After 9/11, similar lines said by various officials were so pervasive that this line can now be viewed as prophetic dark humor.
    • When Dumbledore and McGonagall left Harry with the Dursleys as a Doorstop Baby in the first book, McGonagall said "This boy will be famous. There won't be a child in our world that won't know his name." Indeed, there probably isn't. She also mentions that "there will be books written about him". No way THAT one wasn't intentional.
    • In the fourth book, Harry at one point thinks of Cedric Diggory as a "useless pretty boy". Considering who plays him in the movie (and said actor's further roles)...
    • For years, various well-meaning parents have demanded that the Harry Potter books be banned because of the books' obvious Satanic undertones. My Immortal makes all of this hilarious.
    • From Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: "... the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban." Remember how this book ended? Fred and George were repeatedly hitting Voldemort in the goddamn face this entire time!
    • At the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Snape flies into a rage and the Minister of Magic says to Dumbledore - "Fellow seems quite unbalanced...I'd watch out for him if I were you, Dumbledore" Possibly the only time Cornelius Fudge displayed sound judgment.
    • Combined with the movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 has a mixed-income wedding where commoner Bill Weasley (handsome but disfigured by a werewolf's claws) marries the (presumably) wealthy Fleur Delacour, who is wearing an Alexander McQueen-inspired dress. There's a featured wedding guest in yellow, meanwhile there's dark doings involving terrorists and secret missions in the background (that ultimately succeeds, and the defeated foe is given a swift, unceremonious burial) that quickly overshadows the happy occasion. Less than a year after the movie's released, Prince William (handsome but prematurely balding) marries wealthy commoner Kate Middleton, who wears an Alexander McQueen dress while the Queen wears a cheerful yellow ensemble (wait, The Queen in yellow?). Meanwhile, there's a secret mission to take out Osama Bin Laden (who is killed and quickly buried at sea) that knocks the royal wedding off the news cycle (at least until the newlyweds visit California).
    • In the second book Ron suggests that Tom Riddle got an award for killing Moaning Myrtle. It turns out he did kill her, and he probably got the award for 'catching' the murderer.
    • In the second book, Malfoy's first reaction to Ginny's retort and Death Glare was to tease Harry with "Look, Potter, you've got yourself a girlfriend!" Of course, Ginny's crush on Harry was rather obvious to everyone... but Malfoy of all people was the first person to accurately predict that the two would be an item - four full years before it actually happened.
    • In the fourth book Ron makes a rather rude joke to Lavender Brown ("can I have a look at Uranus too, Lavender?"). Fast forward to the sixth book where the two date for the first half-or-so of the book.
    • During the Climax of the fifth book(released in 2003), one of the characters blows up a model of Pluto; 3 years later, Pluto was removed from its status as a planet.
    • Turns out there are people with regional variants on the name "Remus Lupin" in real life (e.g. Remo Lobo, Remo Lupo, etc.).
    • In Book 6, Harry comments that the Half-Blood Prince is a much better teacher than Snape. Then he finds out who the Half-Blood Prince is...
    • Book 4 has Harry, impressed by the luxury of the prefect's bathroom, decide that it would be worth becoming a prefect just to use it. A sub-plot of the following book has Harry angsting over not being promoted to prefect (although mostly for other reasons). Ron casually mentions in the sixth book that Harry now can use their bathroom after being made Quidditch captain.
    • The 5th and 7th books feature a minor character named Elphias Doge, an old friend of Dumbledore's. In Rita Skeeter's book, she disparagingly refers to him as "Dogbreath" Doge. This became funnier after the doge meme caught on in 2013.
    • Book 2 has a plot twist where the writer Gilderoy Lockhart, a specialist about monsters, is revealed to be a fraud who wrote books in which he gave himself credit for deeds performed by other people. In 2020, French writer Stéphane Bourgoin (expert about serial killers, the closest Muggle equivalent) was outted as a pathological liar and a fraud who wrote books in which he gave himself credit for deeds performed by other people.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    • In Life, the Universe and Everything, a Someone Else's Problem field is set up to stop people noticing a spaceship parked at Lords' Cricket Ground. A couple of decades later, they built this.
    • Another example: at the beginning of the first book a demolition foreman is described as being a descendant of Genghis Khan to set up an amusing aside where he has visions of his ancestor's life. Later, it was discovered that 0.5% of the world's male population are indeed descended from Genghis Khan.
    • In Mostly Harmless, various forms of identity verification (passwords, PINs, biometrics) were decided to be too much of a hassle, and all ID confirmation is done by carrying around a single card, one of which Ford steals and uses to great advantage. Now, take a look at this. A choice quote:
    "...if someone steals your card or your smart-ring, you’d better report it stolen pretty quickly."
  • The book L.A. Confidential features the death of a down and out prostitute named Kathy Janeway. The creators of Star Trek: Voyager probably didn't have this in mind when naming their show's captain, but the name was removed from The Film of the Book nonetheless.
    • The original name of the character was Elizabeth Janeway. That had to be changed after the producers learned that a rather strident (and litigious) professor shared that name. They then went with Nicole, which went out the door when French-Canadian actress Genevieve Bujold walked off the production. Kathryn was a last-minute choice, picked when Irish-American Katherine Kiernan "Kate" Mulgrew got the part.
  • In the novel Make Room! Make Room! (which the movie Soylent Green is based on), the overpopulated future of 1999 had a sweltering population of 7 billion people. In Real Life, the world population in 1999 was 6 billion, with the 7 billion mark passed somewhere around 2011, and as far as we know, we're not recycling human corpses into food yet (although that didn't happen in the book either).

  • Neuromancer: "The sky above the port was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel". Some years after this was published, new television sets with sophisticated electronics began replacing "snow" on dead channels with a blank, sky-blue, screen.
    • Which is why, in Neil Gaiman's novel Neverwhere, he describes a perfectly clear sky as being the color of "a television tuned to a dead channel," in both a homage to Neuromancer and a nod to the changes in technology.
    • Speaking of Cyberpunk novels, it's hard to wonder if Neal Stephenson is a dead-on prophet when reading the descriptions of the "Metaverse", considering how many MMORPGs it resembles... then again, this may be a "Which came first" kind of situation.
    • The intro can by now be interpreted as at least 4 types of sky. Overcast (the intended), a clear black sky, a rainbow, and a clear blue sky.
      • Another interpretation would be a black sky with enough ambient light from surrounding structures/buildings/etc. to make it appear to be luminescent at the edges, much like a CRT that is on but does not have any input (like at a command prompt).
    • It came out over a decade before the Metal Gear series became popular. Reading it today, the inclusion of a genetically enhanced super ninja named "Hideo" is pretty funny.
  • In The Glass Key, two characters meet in a restaurant named Tom & Jerry's, which is presumably not owned by a cartoon cat and mouse. However, this is likely not a true example, as the names Tom and Jerry (in the form, specifically, of Jerry Hawthorne, Esq. and Corinthian Tom) have been associated with each other since the early 19th century, and most later combinations are either coincidence (neither is an uncommon name) or deliberate callbacks to Life In London.
  • John Putnam Thatcher: In Death Shall Overcome, a grandstanding (in the opinion of the main characters) civil rights activist writes an opera honoring generations of oppressed African-Americans. The title of his work is Roots, a decade before the release of a generational epic about oppressed Africans with the same title.
  • In the 1998 Star Trek: The Next Generation/X-Men crossover novel Planet X (which is not a fanfic but rather an officially published, authorized, but non-canonical novel), Captain Picard meets a holodeck simulation of Professor Charles Xavier and is astounded by how similar he looks to him. Two years later the first X-Men film came out, casting Picard actor Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier. At the time, this one may have been intended more as a nod to fan buzz than anything else: though the casting wasn't official yet, X-Men fans had already been clamoring for Patrick Stewart to be cast as Professor Xavier ever since the live-action movie was first announced.
  • In 1971, Roger Hargreaves started the Mr. Men book series, the third of which was titled "Mr. Happy". The titular character was a very happy little yellow man. 10 years later, guess what Robin Williams decided to nickname his penis (and name a trope in the process)?
  • In The Fountainhead, one of the characters walks past a movie theater advertising a cheapened version of Romeo and Juliet: "Bill Shakespeare's immortal classic! But there's nothing highbrow about it! Just a simple love story. A boy from the Bronx meets a girl from Brooklyn. Just like the folks next door. Just like you and me." Ayn Rand wrote this description long before West Side Story. Shakespeare wasn't highbrow in Shakespeare's day, either.
  • Dave Barry Slept Here uses the word "befriend" in talking about the United States using Gunboat Diplomacy to establish relations with Latin American countries.
  • In the original Shrek picture book, there's a scene where the title character has a nightmare about being beloved by children. Flash forward to the fourth installment of the film series, and...
  • In Good Omens: "She wanted a change. Something with openings. She quite fancied herself as a newspaper journalist." Let's just say that whatever the state of the newspaper industry was in 1990, well, it's worse now.
    • Consider this excerpt. One wonders whether Misters Pratchett or Gaiman had access to a time machine:
    Adam: I wrote a book once. It was a triffic book. It was nearly eight pages long. It was about this pirate who was a famous detective. ... I bet it was a lot more excitin' than any book you've lost. 'Specially the bit in the spaceship where the dinosaur comes out and fights the cowboys. I bet it'd cheer you up, my book. It cheered up Brian no end.
  • In The Space Traveler's Handbook, published in the 70s but set in 2061, the second US space colony is called the Richard Nixon. This is indicated to have been a very popular choice.
  • A book of very serious, scholarly articles published in the New York Times in the 1950s had an interview with a Russian scientist just after Sputnik went up. He detailed a whole plan for how he thought humanity would expand into space, landing on the moon "Perhaps as early as the year 2000."
    • This is more Harsher in Hindsight for many people who deplore the fact that in 2000 we could not have landed a manned vehicle on the moon, and that our "expansion into space" as far as people (as opposed to robotic probes) are concerned in 2014 consists of dusty relics and one functioning space station in low Earth orbit.
  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen books Midnight Tides and Reaper's Gale (the latter published in 2007), one plot thread is Tehol Beddict's plan to destroy the economy of Lether by exploiting everyone's greed. Considering how much of the 2008-2009 economic unpleasantness was caused by unsustainable and shortsighted investment and lending makes it even better.
  • Julie Kenner's 2000 novel The Cat's Fancy is about a cat who becomes human in order to marry her owner. She shows up in her owner's house seemingly with amnesia, and he and others try to find out who she is, in a plot already reminiscent of a movie that would come out a year later... but then we get this line:
    "Maybe the rain had something to do with why you lost your memory," Deena offered. "A torrential rainstorm. A car speeding down Mulholland Drive. There was a crash, the squealing of brakes, and then..."
  • At the beginning of The Hobbit (published in 1937), Thorin describes the mark Gandalf had left on Bilbo's door as indicating a burglar looking for work. "You can say 'expert treasure hunter' instead of 'burglar' if you like. Some of them do." Nearly sixty years later, gamers who played the US release of Final Fantasy VI met one such individual.
  • In the 7th Everworld book, Senna Wales decides to stab a Coo-Hatch alien to death with a knife, for no apparent reason, and then acts coldly unmoved by what she did. When the others question her as to why she had suddenly gone Ax-Crazy, she laughs ruefully, shakes her head to herself and replies, "Had to be! There was no avoiding it ... Not over the long haul." In the eleventh book, Senna suddenly goes psychotic and becomes a evil maniac, presumably for plot purposes.
  • The title of the book The BFG by Roald Dahl has taken a new, wonderful meaning.
  • The Iron Dream is a Norman Spinrad book, essentially taking the racial ravings of Adolf Hitler To Space!, taking them to the logical conclusion by having this Hitler be obsessed with the purity of the human genome rather than the human race. Thirty five years later, we learn that the only "pure" humans on the planet are those whose ancestors stayed in Africa, while all others mated with neanderthals.
  • School's Out -- Forever has a scene where a kid at Disneyland mistakes Ari for Wolverine and asks for his autograph. Disney bought Marvel several years after the book was released.
  • During the climax of Ramona and Her Father, a strange man in a restaurant asks Ramona if she's been good to her mother.
  • During the climax of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, an old woman rambles on about Jim's escape from the Phelps' farm, ending every sentence with 'says I'.
  • The Serpent and the Rainbow is the autobiographical non-fiction account of Harvard ethnobotanist Wade Davis' journey to Haiti to investigate a mysterious drug being used to turn people into the zombies. The book was notable for its respectful treatment of Haitian and voodoo culture and included several passages that condemned the way voodoo is sensationalized by Hollywood. It was adapted by Wes Craven into a horror film that epitomizes everything that Davis condemns in these passages.
  • The Dale Brown novel Edge of Battle has a part where someone is telling a Russian commando to speak No Russian. Complete with said Russian supposed to be pretending to be from elsewhere as part of a False Flag Operation.
  • Edward Gorey's first book, The Unstrung Harp came out in 1953. In one scene, the main character goes driving near a town named Something Awful.
  • Among many other bad translations in the infamous Portuguese-to-English phrasebook "O Novo Guia da Conversação em Portuguez e Inglez" (also known as "English As She Is Spoke") was its translation for "Cômô dizeís ôu díz Vm?": "What you say?"
  • In The Phantom of the Opera, the narrator refers to Christine's first abduction (the one where she disappeared for two weeks) as "not the infamous abduction" which everyone has heard of. In context, this refers to how famous her second abduction became in the news in-universe, but the story is so famous now through Popcultural Osmosis that this clarification seems to be Leaning on the Fourth Wall.
  • Sinclair Lewis' 1947 novel Kingsblood Royal features the Sant Tabac, a racist secret society fronting as a cigar club. Flash forward 50 years to the height of the cigar craze, when such clubs were all the rage.
  • In the novel Hannibal they have an early scene where Mason Verger pumps Paul Krendel on info about Clarice Starling. They come to the point where he mentions that Clarice has a female roommate, and Krendel casually speculates that the pair's relationship is sexual in nature. At the time the book was written it was a quick Establishing Character Moment to show us that Krendel is a creep, but then a certain someone decided to finally come out of the closet, and it reads quite differently.
  • In The Honor of the Queen, one enemy officer is criticized for trying to rely on weight of fire rather than proper timing to overwhelm Honor's defenses, which looks odd in light of the Macross Missile Massacres of later books.
    • In The Short Victorious War, the idea of battle-cruisers trumping ships of the wall, even in a missile fight, is dismissed as impossible. Wait a minute...
    • In Crown of Slaves, Berry Zilwicki claims that the only two things she would be good at are being a housewife or a queen. Guess what...
    • In his non-Honor book The Excalibur Alternative, the end involves an English-based space empire leading an attack on a much larger federation... Which is exactly what's happening in the current Honor books. To make things funnier, the looming enemy in the Honor books is the Solarian League. One of the Space English's allies in Excalibur is the Solarian Union.
  • In Alexandre Dumas's The Vicomte de Bragelonne, we have this paragraph in which a Dutch ambassador tries to apologize to the French king for injuries committed against him; it acquires a whole new meaning now with the Freestate Amsterdam stereotype:
    The ambassador ventured to frame excuses by saying that the vanity of nations was a matter of little consequence; that Holland was proud that, with such limited resources, she had maintained her rank as a great nation, even against powerful monarchs, and that if a little smoke had intoxicated his countrymen, the king would be kindly disposed, and would even excuse this intoxication.
  • In Philip K. Dick's short story Stand-By, in the future setting, the most important TV news presenter is... a clown.
  • Scott McCloud's nonfiction comic, Reinventing Comics, talks largely about the future potential of computers as a medium for webcomics, as well the drawbacks of computer technology. Many of these drawbacks include slow loading, poor graphics, and low storage capacity. The book was written in 2000.
  • Atlas Shrugged has a passage that sounds just like the commonly parodied Master Card commercials: "The roast turkey had cost $30. The champagne had cost $25....[Several more examples]. But it was held to be unspiritual to think of money and what it represented." If it didn't predate the Master Card commercials by many decades, it would seem like the perfect setup for something like "Thanksgiving dinner with family was priceless" Or "Using the power of reason to produce wealth was priceless." Or "For Rearden's family, the opportunity to make him feel a sense of unearned guilt was priceless."
  • The first book of John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata, released in 2000, features Mike O'Neal, initially an NCO, using an experimental suit of Powered Armor with an AI named "Michelle" in it, part of a military unit that exclusively uses said armor. He and said AI are close friends. See also; Halo: Combat Evolved, featuring Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 and his AI best friend Cortana, member of the elite group known as Spartans. And yes, both types of armor have the Sticks to the Back trope
  • One 80's Gamebook featured the player as a mage, leaving the reader to determine what type of magic they used. Each type of magic was assigned a colour. Of which there were five. Even better, they were white, blue, black, red, and green. Of course, red, blue, and green are the primary colors. With the natural addition of white and black, there you go.
  • In the 1990 short horror novel The Langoliers by Stephen King one of the characters is trying to figure out what caused practically all the passengers of a cross country airline flight do disappear and while internally brainstorming considers the idea that someone filled the plane's luggage compartments with poisonous snakes before immediately dismissing it as ludicrous.
  • In The Princess Bride, the old Archdeacon, as part of Buttercup and Humperdinck's marriage ceremony says, "Mawidge is a dweam wiffin a dweam. (He was old and deaf and had a speech impediment.)
  • One part of Romance of the Three Kingdoms involves Guan Yu crossing five passes and slaying six generals, which sounds awfully like a videogame.
    • Similarly, Liu Biao has an advisor named Kuai Liang. That won't be too significant for most readers, but any Mortal Kombat fans are sure to get a chuckle out of it since Mortal Kombat 9 revealed (the younger) Sub-Zero's real name to be just that.
    • The book also features a Red Shirt named "He Man"—while the name is not pronounced anything like He-Man, it's still funny to see him appear, make a Badass Boast, and then cut down without anyone batting an eye.
  • In A Wrinkle in Time, Meg Murry's father's mathematically-based nickname for her has a slightly different meaning to those who read the book after, say, 1984: "Megatron". The term "tesseract" does too.
  • In the Sweet Valley High book Sweet Valley Saga Alice (the twins' mother) was engaged to Hank Patman (Bruce's father). When Sweet Valley Confidential comes out, guess who become a couple at the end of the book? Bruce and Elizabeth, that's who.
  • This couplette is from The Passionate Pilgrim, attributed to Shakespeare:
    Were kisses all the joys in bed,
    One woman would another wed.
  • In Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll's 1872 sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:
    • One line of the famous "Jabberwocky" poem mentions a "rath", which Word of God defined as "a sort of green pig". 137 years later, well ...
    • The Walrus and the Carpenter spend two stanzas whining about sand.
  • Jacob Black has an older sister named Rebecca. Think about that for a second...note 
  • Try reading the Fablehaven books during the 2012 election and NOT laughing at Vanessa Santoro's surname, which is only 2 letters away from that of Pennsylvania ex-Congressman Rick Santorum. The name becomes either funnier or more disturbing when you know that, according to Google, his name basically means "ass juice." Also, the whole series is about two children who visit an older guardian named Stanley and finding out about magical creatures.
  • At least one translation of Beowulf referred to 'great tracts of land'.
  • In the 1932 novel When Worlds Collide, the League of the Last Days picked a location in Michigan to build the space arks because of its geological stability; in another universe, so did a certain shower curtain company.
  • The 2008 Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel Ghosts of India has the Doctor trusting an alien on the grounds the alien is making tea, adding "The Daleks never made me tea".
  • The children's novel The Twenty-One Balloons has the protagonist landing on Krakatoa shortly before the fateful volcanic eruption. He meets a secluded society whose men are named "Mr. (letter)". This naming convention results in two Hilarious In Hindsight moments: 1) the first person the protagonist meets on the island is named Mr. F and 2) a later one named man on the island goes by Mr. T.
  • In Mallory and the Mystery Diary, a relatively early The Baby-Sitters Club book published in 1989, Mallory complains that it feels like she's been 11 for a decade. Cut to 1999, when the books are still being published and poor Mal is still 11...
  • P. G. Wodehouse's early character Mike Jackson, star of several Boarding School stories and later Demoted to Extra as Psmith's sidekick. His full name doesn't come up much (he's usually called either "Mike" or "Jackson"), but you still occasionally get lines like, "I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson."
  • In A Tale of Time City, the founder of the eponymous time-traveling city who resolves the plot by reintegrating himself and banishes the villains to separate and unpleasant bits of time and space is named John Smith.
  • In the first Mary Poppins novel, Michael wishes to be invisible. Jane says they would be, "if we go behind the sofa."
  • From Be My Guest, When Conrad Hilton is preparing to purchase the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, he says "One does not simply walk into and buy the Waldorf."
  • In 1963, Morris West's novel The Shoes of the Fisherman described the election and first part of the reign of a the first Pope hailing from Eastern Europe (more exactly, Ukraine). 15 years later, the first non-Italian Pope was chosen... and he also hailed from Eastern Europe (Poland, in this case). Made even better because said Real Life Eastern European Pope, Karol Wojtyla aka John Paul II, wasn't that different from the fictional one, Kiril Pavlovich Lakota aka Kyril I... So JPII helped to take down the Iron Curtain? Kyril I has to be The Mediator between the governments of Red China and the URSS to avert World War III.
  • The Night of Wishes: Beelzebub Preposteror insisted on calling Maledictus Maggot "Mr. Larva", much to Maggot's dismay. When the cartoon based on the book was translated for Brazilian audiences, his name did become "Maledictus Larva".
  • In Brave New World, the future society's current fashion trend is an overabundance of zippers on everything, demonstrating how needlessly over-engineered everything is. It's evocative of the costume design stylings that Tetsuya Nomura has become notorious for.
  • In Chasing Vermeer, a character refers to someone who annoyed him by never shutting up as "Twitter Man", a nickname which gained another level of appropriateness a few years after the book's publication...
  • Ray Bradbury's short story The Long Rain correctly guesses that Venus is inhospitable for humanity, but depicts it as being a tropical climate with a breathable atmosphere but constant downpour that will drive any human being insane if they're exposed for too long. We now know that Venus is really... well... exactly the opposite.
  • In Paradise Lost, Milton describes a rainbow as having "colours gay." Now, more than three centuries later, the rainbow is a symbol of gay pride.
  • An encyclopedia of manga classics (I can't remember exactly which one) outlined the plot of Fruits Basket, and informed the reader that the series' Official Couple was Tohru and Yuki. (Kyo Sohma- third protagonist, one corner of the focal Love Triangle, and Tohru's eventual husband- is barely mentioned at all.) Unfortunately, the encyclopedia was written before certain plot twists in the manga sunk that ship, and Tohru and Yuki remained Just Friends.
  • In Lawrence Block's The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep, Evan Tanner, who can't resist a lost cause, supports the independence movements of several oppressed regions even as he insists in the narration that he knows that they will never succeed. Following the Soviet collapse, every last one of them is now a nation, causing an unintentional It Will Never Catch On Running Gag.
  • Stoo Hample's The Silly Book tells you that the "Silly Secret" will make you giggle like a "gigglecopter", and then says that it will make you "roll on the floor". 43 years later, the ROFLcopter meme was introduced.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, there are three rings for the elven kings under the sky, seven for the dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, nine for mortal men doomed to die, and one for the dark lord on his dark throne. These four numbers in reverse order comprise the year that author J.R.R. Tolkien died.
  • In Forrest Gump (the book, not the movie), there is a sequence where Forrest becomes a professional wrestler. One of the wrestlers Forrest wrestles is a super-smart wrestler described as wearing a graduation outfit (Mortarboard, Robe, etc). In 1989, the WWF would debut "The Genius" (Lanny Poffo) who had the exact same gimmick.
  • In Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Alexander considers moving to Australia. Come 2014, the film adaptation casts Ed Oxenbould, who is from Australia, as Alexander.
  • C. S. Lewis' 1955 autobiography was entitled Surprised by Joy, in reference to the experience of aesthetic longing that became the first step of his conversion to Christianity, and was edited by his friend, the American poet Joy Davidman. A year later, when Joy was at risk of having to return to the United States, they had a civil marriage so she could stay in England. What started out as a Citizenship Marriage evolved into one of the most profound love affairs of the 20th century after she was diagnosed with cancer; they were later married in the Church and when she died in 1960, Lewis was heartbroken. His friends would remark in his later life that he really had been "surprised by Joy".
  • Speaking of C. S. Lewis, a few examples appear in The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when the ship is trapped in a fog of nightmares, Eustace says: "Do you hear a noise a huge pair of scissors opening and shutting...over there?" Forty-six years later, giant scissors (representing the threat of a Groin Attack) appeared during another Nightmare Sequence in a certain famous movie. After about 2001 or so, it's likely to remind readers of yet another movie with a Nightmare Sequence featuring big scissorsnote  — this time caused by a nightmare-inducing mist to boot!
    • The Silver Chair:
      • Puddleglum's climactic faith-affirming Author Filibuster, directed at an apparent Hollywood Atheist, rings of chain messages about good Christian students trouncing smug secular professors in arguments (though it should be noted that Lewis pulls it off a lot better than the authors of those copypastas do, seeing how he was such a talented wordsmith in general).
      • The deceptively pretty and sweet Green Lady, who bewitches people with her music, is very similar to the media's image of Taylor Swift during The New '10s, especially since Taylor's haters started calling her a snake after her spat with Kanye West in 2016. (It doesn't help that the original illustrator Pauline Baynes drew the Lady as blonde.) Moreover, the notion of a shapeshifting Lizard Folk invader, lurking within an Elaborate Underground Base and subtly acquiring power through governmental infiltration and mind control, is likewise eerily similar to the Reptilian Conspiracy theories propounded by the likes of David Icke.
    • The prequel The Magician's Nephew reveals Jadis the White Witch to be the last surviving member of an ancient, decadent species of Sufficiently Advanced Human Aliens, the rest of whom she wiped from existence to prevent a war from ending unfavorably. Fast-forward about half a century, and a similar revelation was made about another iconic British children's character. This parallel makes the scene in London, where Jadis is unfamiliar with our world and ends up causing a commotion, all the funnier, since that kind of situation happens to the Doctor all the freaking time — usually in London too! And in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the Witch's tactic of charming Edmund with sugary jelly candies becomes funny because it's essentially the Fourth Doctor's modus operandi for making new friends.
  • John Gardner's James Bond novels were never officially acknowledged by the Eon's Bond films, but there has been a few amusing coincidences:
  • In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Big Nurse Ratched's name has taken on a funny quality now that "ratchet" has become teen slang used to describe anything with the quality of the ghetto about it.
  • There was a children's Mickey Mouse mystery novel from 2001 called "Mystery in Mid-Air", which involved private detectives Mickey and Minnie trying to solve the mystery of a passenger plane which has seemingly vanished in mid-flight without any sign of a crash. The number of the plane that goes missing? Flight 815.
  • Night World: Poppy's unflagging conviction that she and James are going to get married someday is already pretty funny ('she said, to distract [her brother] from his stare-out with his future brother-in-law'), but becomes even funnier when it's revealed that one of James' abilities as a vampire is reading minds.
  • Fairy Tales:
    • Cinderella was finally identified when the prince fit the glass slipper on her foot (which is where we get the expression "if the shoe fits"). Several centuries later, the O. J. Simpson trial used a similar method (fitting a glove onto O. J.'s hand) to determine whether or not O. J. was guilty. Even better, the saying "if the shoe fits" sounds amusingly similar to a phrase used by one of O. J.'s lawyers: "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit."
    • Sleeping Beauty tells the story of an ethereal, animal-loving adolescent who spent a century in suspended animation only to be awakened by the child of a local ruler. Then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.
  • In Fifty Shades of Grey, it was always debatable if Christian's tastes are as "singular" as he claims, considering that even before the Internet BDSM was one of the most common kinks around. Now, when the Fifty Shades books have sold millions and millions of copies and have legions of fans eager to try the stuff in the book, Christian might as well have the Dark Secret that he likes watching porn movies.
  • Fans of The Raven Cycle love to point out this little exchange between Gansey, the leader, Ronan, who prides himself on his honesty, and Adam, who is frequently at odds with Ronan.
    Gansey: From now on I need everyone to be straight with each other.
    Ronan: I'm always straight.
    Adam: Oh man, that's the biggest lie you ever told.
    • The exchange is funny in its own right, but becomes even better after we find out that Ronan has a crush on Adam.
  • L. Ron Hubbard's short story "One Was Stubborn" (Written under the pseudonym of Rene La Fayette) features a man who started his own religion, denying the reality of matter. The same man further seeks to expand his religion through the use of media, and uses freedom of religion as a defense against anyone trying to stop him. Ironically, the character in question is a villain...
    • The story also has a funny moment that has nothing to do with Scientology. The villain of the piece is named George Smiley.
  • In Spirit Bound, when Sydney gets in contact with Rose to query her about missing Alchemist records she tells Rose that Adrian is cute for an 'evil creature of the night'. In Bloodlines, she ends up falling in love with (and marrying) him.
  • Fans of The Office (US) may be surprised to find Michael Scott in the eighth circle of Dante's Inferno. (The Michael Scott, or sometimes Scot, in question was actually a famous medieval scholar with a posthumous reputation as a sorcerer, not the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin.)
  • In David Nicholl's (author of One Day) Us, the main character Douglas says that he and the other biologists at his lab called their pet fruit fly 'Bruce' to show that scientists can have a sense of humour, noting that fruit flies are technically neither and both sexes which they parodied by giving it such a name (but it's not actually funny). This event would have taken place in the 1980s, whilst the book was written around 2012. A few years later, Caitlyn Jenner — born Bruce — became the highest profile celebrity to undergo gender reassignment.
  • Isaac Asimov, as a prolific SF author, made many predictions. This one is merely a translation "accident". (The original title is "Buy Jupiter.")
  • In Asimov's"Blind Alley", a man shows what he calls "A Galactic fad of three years ago; which means that it is a hopelessly old-fashioned relic this year". A high-tech disco ball as an example Disco Sucks. In 1945.
  • In the back of each book of the original Witch & Wizard trilogy by James Patterson, there is a list of books, celebrities, etc. banned by the New Order, which are all parodies of real-life books and people. There is one parodying the Warriors series by Erin Hunter: "THE BRAWLERS: The story of a pack of sentient dogs - some stray, some pets - seeking to fulfull a 'prophecy'." Several years later, there actually was an Erin Hunter series about a pack of sentient dogs.
  • Cthulhu Mythos:
    • Lovecraft described Azathoth as a mindless Eldritch Abomination at the center of the universe, often described as "gnawing" and "chaotic". Scientists now believe that the center of our galaxy (and, by extension, other galaxies), is a supermassive black hole. Perhaps Lovecraft was on to something...
    • In the 1931 short story The Lair of the Star Spawn by August Derleth and Mark Schorer, the characters manage to stop the Great Old Ones Lloigor and Zhar with the aid of the Star Warriors from Orion, described as monstrous-size glowing beings that "shot great beams of annihilation and death".
      In 1966, Tsuburaya Productions created Ultra Series, a toku franchise about giant heroic aliens of light with many abilities, including shooting powerful beams from their arms. And by sheer coincidence, their homeworld is located in Nebula M78 in the Orion Constellation. Gets even more hilarious with the 1996 entry Ultraman Tiga, which featured Ghatanothoa as the Big Bad, as well as Rl'yeh and the Lloigor, er...Zoiger.
  • In 1835, Vladimir Odoevsky wrote a novel entitled "The Year 4338: Petersburg Letters", in which he predicted blogging and the internet: "In each home there is a majordomo who is responsible for publishing the journal once a week or even daily. It’s very easy to do. When the masters of the house instruct him, he simply makes a note of everything they say and then takes a picture of it and prints enough copies to send out to everyone. The newspaper has the usual details of the health or illness of the masters and other domestic news, then various ideas and commentaries, small inventions and also invitations. If there is an invitation to dinner, it will include a section called "Le Menu". {That’s French}. There is a magnetic telegraph system connecting the houses of people who know each other which allows for unplanned communications. People who live miles apart can use it to speak to each other."
  • Cyrano de Bergerac predicted the invention of the audio book in 1650. His book "The Other World: Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon" describes a pocket-sized box-shaped device which was a book and a musical instrument at the same time, and allowed the listener to select which chapter he wanted to listen to. It also had 'pendants' which could be put on the ears so that the listener could use it while walking.
  • In “From The 'London Times' in 1904,” written by Mark Twain in 1898, a new and promising device called the Telelectroscope is described thus: "As soon as the Paris contract released the telelectroscope, it was delivered to public use, and was soon connected with the telephonic systems of the whole world. The improved 'limitless-distance' telephone was presently introduced and the daily doings of the globe made visible to everybody, and audibly discussable too, by witnesses separated by any number of leagues." That's right - Mark Twain predicted the internet.
  • In the first book of L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries the character Damon utters the phrase: "Winter is coming." This was a good five years before the saying became the most ubiquitous passage in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and the tagline of the subsequent television adaptation.
  • In the short story "The Arbitrator" by Morley Roberts, first published in 1896, protagonist Gurdon is writing a newspaper piece on seven unlikeable bourgeoisies, who he refers to as the "Seven Asses".
  • In the 1992 novelisations of the CBBC series Kevin's Cousins and Kevin & co., the protagonist, Kevin, is twelve, and his parents joke that some day soon he'll suddenly turn into a teenager. A couple of years later, Harry Enfield created his Kevin the Teenager character, who acquired all his teenage mannerisms at midnight on his thirteenth birthday.
  • Mindy Kaling's 2011 memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) includes a short, hypothetical list of remakes/reboots she's come up with: One is a version of Ghostbusters with women as the main characters, and she even speculates on how it might be a hard sell to the mostly-male fan base of the original film. Another is an Ocean's 11 prequel she dubs Ocean's 5, reasoning that the sequels' trend of adding more to the cast was getting out of hand and they needed to scale back a bit. In 2018, she was announced as being part of the main cast of Ocean's 8, a spinoff of the original franchise (with at least a few less main characters than the original).
  • From Simon Braund's 2013 book The Greatest Movies You'll Never See: The "Not Coming Soon" section mentions that The Beatles turned down an offer to appear in an adaptation of Joe Orton's Up Against It. It's noted that another abandoned idea would have had them starring in an Animated Adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and that Stanley Kubrick thought the book was unfilmable. Peter Jackson, anyone?
  • In the 1993 Leslie Nielsen mock autobiography The Naked Truth, Leslie's faux history includes him at one point being a member of the Rat Pack. This includes being part of the initial cast of a movie called Ocean's 12, which changed its name after he left the group. Leslie probably hadn't predicted the success of the remake Ocean's Eleven within the next decade, let alone that it could have gotten a sequel...
  • Peter Pan:
    • John mentions fantasizing about becoming a pirate and calling himself Red-handed Jack. In Hook, Peter's son Jack does become a pirate, and he dresses up like a miniature Captain Hook. Had he gone the whole nine yards, he would have been Jack with a Red Right Hand.
  • In 1940, Ian Fleming's brother, Peter Fleming, wrote The Flying Visit where he imagined Adolf Hitler flying and parachuting to Britain on a foolhardy peace mission with the United Kingdom and its government found itself in a diplomatic situation so awkward they allowed him to return to Nazi Germany to resolve it. In 1941, Hitler's Deputy Fuehrer, Rudolf Hess, did that exact same stunt without authorization for real, and while the British government would never let him go, he was considered a bother to deal with.
  • Monster of the Month Club: In book 1, Rilla has a series of nightmares in one chapter about future monsters. Most of them aren't accurate, but her dream prediction of the July Selection's gender and diet (a male who eats hot dogs and apple pie, though his beverage choice isn't mentioned) prove to be spot on. Especially hilarious when considering the first book wasn't planned to have sequels, meaning this wasn't planned foreshadowing.
  • The book White Oleander has a passage where the protagonist's racist foster mother calls Oprah a "nig-nag". When Oprah selected the book for her Book Club, she quoted the passage for her audience, then described her call to the author. "Hello, this is the fat nig-nag calling." (Beat.) "'Ohmigod, Oprah!'"
  • One of the Jewel Fairies in Rainbow Magic is Emily, who creates visions from the future using her magic emerald. We don't talk about Emily.
  • When Alas, Babylon was published in 1959, both home canning and breastfeeding were in decline and are portrayed as relics which have all but disappeared, although both have enjoyed a resurgence since then. This leads to dialogue where a character unintentionally sounds sarcastic:
    Helen: What happens to babies?
    Doctor: Evaporated or condensed canned milk... while it lasts. After that, it's mother's milk.
    Helen: That will be old-fashioned, won't it?