Follow TV Tropes


Exty Years from Publication
aka: Exty Years From Now

Go To

In most series set more than 20 Minutes into the Future, the date will be an exact round number of years after the year the series was made. Something made in 1965 and set in the twenty-first century will be set in 2065. Something made in 1989 and set in the thirtieth century will be set in 2989.

This also applies to Time Travel, either forward or backward; from 1972, you can jump forward to 2072 or back to 1872.

There are two big exceptions to this. One is when they just use a nice round number by itself for the year; thus, all the TV shows and movies set in the year 2000 (or 1999, or 2001). The other is sequels to something that was set in Exty Years; for example, Star Trek: The Original Series came out from 1966 to 1969 and was mostly set from 2266 to 2269note , but Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out in 1979 and was set in 2272, because it needed to be only a few years after the end of the series. Likewise for Star Trek: The Next Generation and its spin-offs, which took place almost a century after the beginning of the original series (2364 in TNG's Season 1) and continued in real-time thereafter, but originally premiered in 1987. Thus, when the titular ship of Star Trek: Voyager ended its, well, voyage in 2378, its last episode aired in 2001.


It should also be noted that characters, like real people, often round numbers off. Just because someone says something happened "1000 years ago", that doesn't mean it couldn't have happened 992 or 1038 years ago.

The trope's name comes from Homestar Runner's pronounciation of an X in "futuristic" dates, such as the setting of Mega Man in 200X (later 20XX) and Metroid in 20X5. The series parodies this directly by setting their mock-anime mock-spin-off series in the year 20X6 (pronounced "Twenty Exty-Six"). That is, however, another trope.

The Human Popsicle, Sealed Evil in a Can, and Sealed Good in a Can have often been that way for Exty Years too. Similarly, it's the almost universal practice for the Class Reunion. Not to be confused with Exactly Exty Years Ago, which is when two important In-Universe points are a round number of years ago (although these two tropes often appear together).



    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • The newspaper comic Rick O'Shay was originally set in the present day, but then a retool moved it back into the 19th century; the shift was exactly 100 years, from 1969 to 1869.
  • The page image comes from Peanuts. In a 1987 strip, Snoopy's brother Spike buried a time capsule that was not to be opened until 5,000 years later, or 6987.

    Film — Animated 
  • Averted with WALL•E; the difference between the year it was released (2008) and the year in which it's set (2805) is the decidedly non-round number of 797.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Austin and Dr. Evil are frozen in 1967 and unfrozen in 1997, the year the movie was released. Similarly, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me was released in 1999, but most of it takes place in 1969, after Austin and Dr. Evil travel back in time. Interestingly, the third movie, Austin Powers in Goldmember, does not use this "30 years" convention, although it does briefly involve time travel from 2002 to 1975 and back.
  • The Back to the Future movies start in 1985, go back thirty years to 1955, jump forward thirty years to 2015, and go all the way back a hundred years to 1885.
    • The original jump was at least justified in that Doc Brown selects 1955 as the date he invented time travel. Going forward to 2015, at the end of the movie, was given as a nice round number, after originally intending to go 25 years instead.
      • Though one could say that Doc Brown only selected these dates because the writers decided it would be Exty Years from Publication.
      • It's implied that the Doc changes his mind to 30 years after the events of the movie, which presumably stick out in his mind since Marty made the 30-year jump. Those events had some pretty profound effects on the Doc's life.
    • And 1885 was a glitch in the already programmed 1985.
  • In Citizen Kane, the present year is 1941, young Kane was taken from his parents in 1871 (70 years ago).
  • The 1996 film Dragonheart is set in the year 996.
  • Event Horizon was made in 1997 and set in 2047.
  • Independence Day takes place in 1996 on and around July 4th (the film was released on July 2nd, 1996). The sequel takes place near July 4th, 2016 and was released on June 24th, 2016. The humans are about to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the invasion, when the aliens return. While some viewers speculate that the timing was intentional to demoralize humanity, the film itself makes it clear that the only reason the second attack comes is because humans shoot down the Sphere, resulting in the alien Queen picking up the signal and coming to collect it.
  • Used in The Matrix, though Morpheus acknowledges that it's only an estimate.
    "You believe it to be the year 1999, but we think it's closer to 2199. I can't tell you exactly what year it is, because we honestly don't know."
    • For the interested, the actual time setting appears to be somewhere in the late 3rd millennium AD, based on the Architect's description of the history of the Matrix.
  • The film Metropolis, completed around 1926, is sometimes said to be set in 2026.
  • Mission to Mars was made in 2000 and set in 2020.
  • The Running Man was released in 1987 and the Opening Scroll informs us that in 2017 the world economy collapsed.
  • Sleeper, released in 1973, has Miles Monroe (Woody Allen) getting thawed out of cryogenic sleep in 2173 — one of the doctors points out he'd been frozen for 200 years.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is set in 2286 according to the official timeline. They travel back in time to 1986, the year the film was made, so they apparently went back exactly three hundred years. You'd think this would've at least been mentioned at some point in the actual film. European posters listed the date as coming back to 1987 (the year the film was released in those regions), averting the trope.
    • Star Trek (2009), which was originally slated to come out in 2008, has most of its action taking place in 2258, a nicely round 250 years later.
  • Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century first aired in 1999 and involves a space station in the year 2049. The sequels also take place 50 years after their release dates.

  • 1984:
    • The book is a sort-of aversion; it's not a round number of years, but Orwell flipped the year he was writing in to get a "distant but chillingly near future" effect. (He originally wanted to title it Nineteen Forty Eight.)
    • The movie version was not only shot in the real 1984, but every scene referencing a date was shot on the right date.
  • The futurist book 2081 was, of course, published in 1981.
  • The Accidental Time Machine was published in 2007 and begins in 2057.
  • The Crystal Maze Adventure Gamebook, published in 1990, was set in a futuristic version of the game show in 2090.
  • The Science Fiction book Frek and The Elixir takes place in 3003 (it was written in 2003).
  • "In the Year 2889", a short story usually attributed to Jules Verne,note  was published in 1889.
  • Weirdly averted in the Lord Darcy mysteries: Set in an Alternate History Europe, each story takes place in the same year when it was published in reality. This makes for some amusing dissonance, as Victorian-level technology and archaic royalist politics appear side by side with dates in the 1950s.
  • In Mistborn, the Well of Ascension that grants godlike power refills every 1024 years, according to Word of God. Multiples of four are significant; sixteen is the Arc Number, and 1024 is four to the fifth power.
  • The Moon Maid by Edgar Rice Burroughs is a near miss; it was originally published in 1923, and the adventure begins in 2024. Perhaps Burroughs was unduly pessimistic about how long it would take to get into print.
  • In Paths Not Taken, when Eamonn Mitchell hires Taylor to protect him from younger and older versions of himself, Taylor keeps straight which is which by estimating their ages, then thinking of them as "Eamonn 20", Eamonn 30", "Eamonn 50", and "Eamonn 60", not to mention "Eamonn 40" (his client).
  • Prelude to Foundation: Published in 1988, this is the first story in the series to feature Hari Sheldon as The Protagonist, and his birth year is 11988 G.E. This is actually an Inverted Trope since his birthdate was chosen by Dr. Asimov when publishing Foundation (1951), and choosing to publish the prequel in 1988 is deliberately evoking the sense of taking place ten thousand years years in the future, despite Galactic Era not technically being compatible with Anno Domini (Year 1 G.E. is still thousands of years in the future).
  • One of the new Star Wars Expanded Universe books introduces a dating system known as C.R.C. in which the events of A New Hope take place in 7977, referencing the film's release in 1977.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 2057, a three-part docudrama from the Discovery Channel about the "future of science," was released in 2007.
  • Ark II: The show takes place in 2476, exactly five hundred years from the year when it was produced and first aired.
  • Doctor Who seems to exist for this trope. The number of times a story has been set exactly a whole number of decades (or centuries) in the past or future are too numerous to count (just to name one of the more blatant examples: "Warriors of the Deep", made in 1984, was set in 2084, complete with a future cold war). However, there are exceptions.
    • The vast majority of these exceptions are when the story in question was a historical piece; for instance, the Crusades, the French Revolution, the fall of Rome, the Battle of Hastings, etc.
    • Some were just when the year was a round number in itself, though these are even fewer and further between. "The Ark" (original airdate: 1965) was set in the year 10 Million AD.
      • One definite subversion was in the serial "The Trial of a Time Lord" (original airdate: 1986) — in the first segment, no exact date was given, while the second segment was explicitly stated as being set in 2379, but the third segment was set in 2986, which plays the trope straight.
      • "The End of the World" does label the date... as "5.5/Apple/26", and puts it 5 billion years into Earth's future. Where they've presumably put inanimate objects into the calendar system.
    • 2009's "The Waters of Mars" was meant to take place fifty years to the day after the airdate. It was out by six days.
    • Russell T Davies seemed fond of round-numbered years, setting two of his stories in AD 200000 and 200100 respectively. He also "clarified" at some point that the year "5.5/Apple/26" was exactly AD 5000000000.
    • The various volumes of Lance Parkin's History of the Universe (AHistory, in later editions) add more examples, by assuming that if the Doctor says "500 years in your future" or whatever, he means exactly that in the absence of any evidence to the contrary. Although if a date's in the millions, he'll go for the round number.
  • Legends of Tomorrow:
    • Vandal Savage's conquest of Earth takes place on the year 2166, exactly 150 years from the first season's present.
    • The Legends pick up Zari in 2042, which is exactly 25 years after the episode aired.
  • Averted in Lexx, where the prologue to the first movie takes place 2,008 years before the rest, and the gap between Seasons 2 and 3 is 4,332 years. The dialogue falls into this trope though, since both those numbers are given in their exact value once, then rounded to the nearest thousand each time it's mentioned later (and they're mentioned a lot).
  • Lost in Space, particularly the original series, was set in 1997.
    • Amusingly, this didn't stop one or two set-on-Earth scenes from featuring horse-drawn carts and the like.
  • Moonbase 3 is set in 2003, 30 years after it was broadcast.
  • Sliders averted this consciously. According to the mythology, if our heroes missed the window to slide out of their current universe, they wouldn't score another opportunity for 29.7 years. Series creator Tracy Tormé was very steadfast on not rounding it off.
  • The singular straight example of this trope among Star Trek television series, Star Trek: Enterprise, took place precisely a century and a half in the future from the present (time-travel shenanigans notwithstanding). In many cases, episodes occur on the exact dates the scripts were written, plus 150 years.
  • Time Trax featured a time machine which only could create a time jump or "arc" of 200 years, so they traveled from 2193 to (then present) 1993. As the time passed, so did the possible destination in the past, and we see the related actions of other future cops, so this is also an example of Meanwhile, in the Future…. The series couldn't decide on whether the machine actually sent people into their own past or into a time-shifted parallel world. The latter was stated frequently, including the fact that changing that past didn't affect their own future, but this didn't stop Darien from posting secret messages into newspapers to be picked up by his superiors in 2193, which would only be possible in the former case.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): Averted in "A Hundred Yards over the Rim", in which Chris Horn, a settler from 1847, is transported to the year 1961, 114 years in the future.

    Tabletop Games 

    Theme Parks 
  • Disneyland's original Tomorrowland was set in 1986, 31 years after the park's opening.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: Revelations: The Animus sections take place in 1511 (well, the first half of them; the last few sequences bleed into 1512), exactly 500 years before the 2011 release date and the 2012 setting of the modern-day gameplay.
  • The 1991 Irem Bomberman arcade game takes place in 2091.
  • Call of Duty:
    • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is set in 2054, which is 40 years from the release date of the game (2014). Later subverted in that the game features several time jumps, which means by the end, the year is 2061.
    • Played straight in Call of Duty: Black Ops III, which is set 50 years from the release date of the game, 2015. Later exaggerated as the final mission "Life" takes place on November 6, 2065, exactly 50 years after the release date of the game (November 6, 2015), down to the day.
  • In Day of the Tentacle, two of the game's three protagonists are projected two centuries into the past and future respectively, while one remains in the present day (of the game's release) — 1993. The setting in the past is 1793, the year the U.S. Constitution was written, while the setting in the future is 2193, where Purple Tentacle's scheme to conquer the world has finally paid off and humans are reduced to the Tentacles' slaves and pets.
  • Season 4 of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is dubbed "Fall Guys 4041", which sets it 2020 years in the future from when the season is released, which was in 2021.
  • G-Police: Released in 1997, set in 2097.
  • The original Mega Man, released in 1987, takes place in the year "200X." The game itself is never more specific than that, but the math can be done to (roughly) place the game between the years 2007 and 2009, depending on the source. note 
  • Robotron 2084 is a subversion; the titular date is 102 years after its 1982 release.
  • The SEER game was released in 2009, but it and the rest of the SEER franchise takes place in 2110 AD, just barely over 100 years afterwards, thus subverting the trope.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei IV, the Tokyo you arrive in is in the year 2038. Not only is this 25 years after the game's release year of 2013, but 2013 itself is when the demon invasion of Tokyo took place!
  • The 1996-released Tobal No. 1 was just five months early to being thirty years out from its setting's date, 2027.
  • WipEout 2097 is set about a hundred years from the time of release, though it actually came out in late 1996.

    Web Original 
  • gen:LOCK opens in the year 2068, almost exactly 50 years after its release in the first month of 2019. The first episode, however, has a Time Skip to the year 2072, where the bulk of the series takes place.
  • Homestar Runner did have a genuine example: In the Strong Bad Email "time capsule", Strong Bad reads an email suggesting that he make a time capsule that would be opened "in at least X0 years." Naturally, this led to an Imagine Spot of Stinkoman finding the time capsule in the year 20X6, although that would have been exty-two years after the cartoon was made.
  • Sonic's plot takes place on January 9th, 4013 — exactly 2000 years after the film was released.

    Western Animation 
  • The Opening Narration of Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers begins: "In 2086, two peaceful aliens journeyed to Earth, seeking our help..." The series premiered in 1986.
  • Inverted in DuckTales (1987) in which an episode takes the cast BACK in time to 1687, exactly 300 years from the show's 1987 airdate.
  • Every season of Futurama is set a thousand years after its original air-time. The exception is that apart from the very first episode "Space Pilot 3000," where Fry awoke on New Year's Eve 2999, most of the first season which was aired in 1999 was set in 3000, rather than 2999.
  • Gargoyles: The titular gargoyles were turned to stone in 994 AD, and reawakened in 1994 (the year the show started).
  • A hilariously inexplicable version is used in Gravity Falls: the show is set in 2012, the year it started airing, and the time traveler Blendin Blandin came from the year "twenty-sñeventy-twelve"—which is written 207̃012.
  • Chuck Jones' classic "One Froggy Evening", made in 1956, ends with the frog getting snuck back into the cornerstone of a building that gets demolished in 2056.
  • The animated series Spiral Zone, which was produced in 1987, was set in the (then) near future of 2007.

    Real Life 
  • Most time capsules are sealed with the intention that they be opened Exty Years from the date when they were closed.

Alternative Title(s): Exty Years From Now