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Failed Future Forecast

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"Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen."

People have been trying to predict the future for as long as human civilization, but in most cases they have been partially or completely wrong when the year in question rolls around. Sometimes, a writer inadvertently creates an Alternate History, which causes problems when referencing later events. Real life has simply progressed beyond the fictional events, meaning that the work suddenly becomes inaccurate. Adventure thrillers are especially vulnerable to this, as they are often written 20 Minutes into the Future. Sometimes, the writer will refer to later events such as 9/11, In Spite of a Nail. In other cases, what was a series of adventure novels experiences a Genre Shift and becomes some kind of science-fiction or true Alternate History.

Anything that doesn't have The Internet is prone to this, which is everything written before the mid-90s but set after. Anything vaguely similar to the 'net as we know it, tends to be limited to looking up a remote, probably centralized, database. The idea of it being a many-to-many medium doesn't seem to have occurred to many people until it actually happened.note  For examples of fictional not-quite-Internets, see The Alternet.

The science-fiction version is a special case, where dates or rates of technological advance become invalidated by the march of time. Zeerust is an aesthetic version, where "futuristic" designs wind up dated.

This is a particularly Omnipresent Trope in near-future Speculative Fiction, since the readers (and author) are usually still around when the prediction fails. If the creator is still alive they may even offer an official explanation. The fact that the prediction isn't true may be Hilarious in Hindsight or Harsher in Hindsight. See also Time Marches On, which tends more towards reactions of current audiences (e.g. a work becomes unreadable due to Values Dissonance). Contrast Life Imitates Art, which includes successful future forecasts.

Related tropes:

  • Absurdly Huge Population: Many examples exist of people thinking either too small or too big in terms of population numbers.
  • Apocalypse Day Planner: The world continues to exist despite many predictions to the contrary.
    • Mayan Doomsday: As should be fairly obvious by now, the world didn't end on December 21, 2012.
    • Millennium Bug: With some exceptions, our computers did not all crash and burn on January 1, 2000. Though it would be reasonable to assume they didn't all crash because we were warned and companies spent millions rewriting code to prevent it.
  • Future Society, Present Values: A future is shown with similar values to the present, making it seem dated.
  • Future Spandex: Continues to be much less popular than predicted.
  • I Want My Jetpack: Technological or scientific developments did not come to pass by the designated year. Most real-life jetpacks are proof-of-design or prototypes.
  • Japan Takes Over the World: The Lost Decades permanently buried the idea of the country as an economic superpower.
  • No New Fashions in the Future: Fashionable hairstyles, clothing, architecture, and so on fail to change as rapidly as they do in Real Life.
  • Overpopulation Crisis: Despite what doomsayers would tell you, our population growth is slowing down and we produce more food than ever. Humanity faces a lot of challenges, yes*, but none of them are rooted in simply the number of people being large.
  • Science Marches On: Improved understanding of science renders the prediction outdated.
  • Space Clothes: As with Future Spandex, above.
  • Technology Marches On: Advancements in technology render the prediction outdated.
  • Values Dissonance: Changes in a society's attitudes occur in a different way and/or different areas than predicted or else had not been predicted to occur at all. Or maybe society tried the changes the author endorsed, only to reject them later as doing more harm than good.
  • Zeerust: Technology portrayed as futuristic comes off as dated to modern day audiences.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • 009-1 the anime takes place in an alternate world where the Cold War continues... because the original manga was made in the 1960s and used the Cold War.
  • In AKIRA, set in 2030, a Soviet Navy helicopter transports scientists to an American aircraft carrier.
  • Angel Cop takes place under the belief that the Japanese economy would continue to grow; instead, the economic bubble popped in the mid '90s.
  • Ghost in the Shell:
    • The Soviet Union is still going in 2030, though revisions and reprints made after 1992 by Shirow Masamune himself changed this to reflect their downfall. The establishment of the Soviet Union still existing in the future was made in the Appleseed series during the 80s. Ghost in the Shell is a sister series that takes place almost a century before Appleseed, but was written in the early 90s.
    • There were some other mess ups in-universe that were mostly corrected. There was a World War III during the mid-90s, and a Non-Nuclear World War IV in 2019-2020, and the United States was separated into three countries after a civil war that took part during World War IV (of which most of the main characters are veterans).note  And as a side note, Berlin was mostly bombed to pieces in the latter two wars.
  • GoLion started with Earth being destroyed in World War III, when the east and west finally launched their missiles at each other in 1999.
  • GunBuster, made in 1988 but set in 2023, had Jung Freud, one of the Soviet Union's ace pilots. Presumably she was from East Germany.
  • The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. An ad for a cryogenic storage company in the 80s promises that by 1997, Manhattan will be a maximum-security prison, off-world colonies will be established by 2019, and the billionth Betamax will be sold in 2052.
  • Macross: The original Super Dimension Fortress Macross was broadcast in 1982 but featured an alternate history of humanity after 2009 when humans and aliens fight a devastating war over a transforming mecha battleship. It's beyond 2009 now, and we haven't even fought World War III and built mecha like they did in the seriesnote  — we're behind schedule, in other words.
  • Mazinger Z spin-off New Mazinger was written in 1988, but the story happens several centuries after that World War III between America and Soviet Union left the planet devastated in the early 21st century. It is the early 21st century now, and not only nothing of it has happened, but also the Soviet Union collapsed shortly after the story's publishing.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00:
    • Has a brief mention of the IRA declaring a ceasefire in the far future (after 2300). This already happened in real life, in 2005, 2 years before Gundam 00 was even announced, however, the organisation that declared a ceasefire was the "Real IRA", presumably some sort of spiritual successor, although there is an actual "Real IRA".
    • Same with the Sri Lankan Civil War. In the series, Celestial Being did an intervention to stop the war... which basically just ended in 2009. But it's one of those wars that may or may not come back with new force after a few years, depending on whether the Sri Lankan government is magnanimous in victory and helps the Tamils get back on their feet and addresses the grievances that caused the conflict.
  • In Otaku no Video, made in 1991, the Iron Curtain still exists and Gorbachev is still in power in 1997.
  • The Patlabor franchise was created in the late 1980s, debuting in 1988) but originally set in 1998, and failed to predict the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union. 1993's Patlabor 2: The Movie, set in 2002, mentions the In-Universe end of the Cold War, and with the creation of the toku continuation The Next Generation -Patlabor- (launched 2014, set in 2013), it seems the OVA/movie continuity settled on becoming an Alternate History.
    • A Brocken military mech shows up to cause trouble for the Mobile Police in every continuity, and was said to have been commissioned by West Germany's border guards. The Mobile Police Patlabor: The Early Days episode featuring it has it "accidentally" falling into the hands of communist sympathizers as part of some kind of ill-conceived War for Fun and Profit scheme by the manufacturer. Germany reunified only a year after the episode was delivered.
    • A memorable episode of Patlabor: The TV Series (debuted 1989) involved a Soviet defector bringing an experimental mech to a Japanese seaside resort town where everybody was actually a spy of some sort.
  • The story of SPT Layzner features students from both sides of the Iron Curtain traveling to the moon together on the equivalent of a field trip. At least it actually predicts that the conflict between both sides will end, just much slower than it actually did. Also, the potential end of this Cold War is the stated reason that the aliens show up in the first place, to take over the world before the two sides work together well enough to take over their planet, which they have no idea exists in the first place.
  • Transformers: Super-God Masterforce refers to Ginrai traveling in West Germany; Masterforce was made in 1988 but set some time after 2011.

    Comic Books 
  • American Flagg! dances on the verge, but still manages to fall into this pit, though it falls very gracefully. The sight of ultra-capitalist Soviets and "Stalinland" theme parks fifty years in the future (in a mid-to-late 80s comic which ended just as the Berlin Wall fell) seems almost like a foreshadowing.
  • Armageddon 2001: In Superman Annual #3, Superman destroys the nuclear arsenal of several nations in 2001, including the Soviet Union. The USSR was dissolved only months after this crossover event was published in 1991. In Action Comics Annual #3, President Superman is attempting to negotiate peace in Northern Ireland in 2001 but the parties aren't cooperating with either him or each other. In reality, the Troubles are seen as having ended with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, something which was unforeseeable in 1991.
  • This is why Black Widow was Retconned into possessing slowed aging. Marvel wanted to keep her Cold War ties and her back story as a Soviet super spy without having to retroactively make her appear decades older.
  • In the comic Camelot 3000, King Arthur and Merlin are resurrected and their knights reincarnated in the year 3000. Almost nothing has changed politically since the 1970s or early 80s, except that there are now four power blocs. The USA has a Ronald Reagan-esque president who dresses as a cowboy and carries authentic sixguns. The USSR is led by Comrade Yazof, a Brezhnev lookalike; China is led by Chairperson Feng (a lady Mao); and Africa by The Supreme Rakma, an Idi Amin type. Apartheid also still exists, and Gawain is reincarnated as a black South African. And this is after a nuclear war that blasted man back to the medieval period. It also has Sir Tristan's angsting about being reincarnated as a woman, even though her reborn lover Isolde seems quite content to contemplate a lesbian relationship, and sex reassignment surgery is bound to be as routine as a tummy-tuck by that era if Tristan is really not happy.
  • The Defenders: One issue in the 70s predicted that in the 80s, mankind's aerosol usage got so out of hand the Ozone layer was gone, resulting in a mass epidemic of skin cancer, which mankind responded to with bionics, which then let to a mass war between cyborgs and non-cyborgs. Meanwhile, NASA made a one-man flight to Alpha Centauri, farming became entirely hydroponic (because the increase of ultra-violet radiation killing most animals) and nuclear power was widespread, until a nuclear power plant exploded, taking out half of Canada. This did end the whole bionic war, as the nations of Earth got together and formed a One World Government in 1996 (including the still extant Soviet Union). All was cool and groovy... until 2001 when the Martians invaded.
  • Grendel has the USSR still existing in 2120, at which point the simultaneous assassination of both its Premier and the US President at a summit ignites World War III. (After this, the Soviet Union doesn't exist any more, but neither does most of the USA.)
  • In early Judge Dredd comics, the Soviet Union is depicted as surviving into the 22nd century, having been renamed as the 'Sov Blok', and is depicted as the main villain in the Apocalypse War storyline. In later comics, it enters a Glasnost period, before reverting back to its previous militaristic self, although it uses the Judge System instead of being communist. By extension, this occurs in other strips which take place in the shared universe, such as Harlem Heroes.
  • In Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth, the map of the Uplifted Animal-controlled post-apocalyptic Earth shows that Siberia is now the "Communi-Bear Silo State". Human civilization has collapsed entirely, but Russia is still communist.
  • Killraven: In the 90s, TV and cars were phased out, NASA had manned flights to Mars (but only one female astronaut), thermonuclear power is used to warm every home, and cattle farming has died out due to artificial food becoming commonplace. Oh, and the Martians invaded Earth in 2001 and enslaved mankind.
  • Martian Manhunter was originally from a thriving and prosperous Mars. After space probes found Mars to be barren, a Retcon was introduced to explain what had happened to J'onn's people.
  • The Marvel Comics group called the Soviet Super-Soldiers is an unusual example because stories set in the present were affected. This happened because Comic-Book Time slowly pushes forward the date of any present-day stories. Several years after the breakup of the USSR the group not only wasn't Soviet, but none of its previous adventures were either. This resulted in an embarrassing time period when it was carefully left unnamed every time it was used, until Marvel finally settled on "Winter Guard" as the name it always had.
  • Nexus, set in the 25th century, really got hit by this, since the ongoing Cold War between the Sov and the Cohesive Web was a significant plot point of the story. The writers had the good sense, though, to just say that, well, at some point between now and then, the Soviet Union was reestablished and in turn established an interstellar colonial empire to rival America's. The funny part is that the story, including the ones written back in the seventies, repeatedly refers to the Sov as being in decline and on the brink of collapse.
  • While the present day period of Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja is never established, it's suggested to be on or near 1989, when the first issue was published. Reading it in hindsight can feel rather anachronistic, given how much of the story relies on Cold War tensions and the Red Scare (particularly an exchange of warheads between the US and the USSR).
  • Strikeforce: Morituri managed to get things wrong in both directions at once. The story is set in 2072, but the Soviet Union still exists under the "Paideia" One World Order. However, a memorial seen in one panel implies that South African apartheid collapsed in 1989, a few years too optimistic a prediction.
  • A 1986 issue of Swamp Thing took place during the temporal distortion period of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Amidst the dinosaurs and aliens is a 1997-model car, which the artist renders as something out of The Jetsons. In the actual nineties, car designs leaned toward a much more streamlined and conservative direction.
  • In IDW's Transformers: Escalation, much of the plot during the second half or so consist of the Decepticons trying to stir up conflict between the Soviet Union and a breakaway republic called Brasnya. This was written in 2006. They started referring to Russia (and Brasnya as a "former Soviet republic") from issue 5 onward, and Simon Furman admitted the Soviet references in the earlier issues were errors.
  • An early issue of Ultimate X-Men featured the X-Men foiling a plot by the Provisional IRA. At the time, the 1998 Peace Agreement was still young, and many suspected it might not hold. It did, and the Provisional IRA destroyed its last weapons and ceased to exist some time around 2005.

    Fan Works 
  • In the author's notes of Harry Potter Becomes a Communist, it's repeatedly predicted that capitalism will be overthrown by the year 2020.
  • Parodied in Rocketship Voyager, a Star Trek: Voyager fanfic written In the Style of a 1950s sci-fi magazine pulp. Not only is there still a "Sino-Soviet Union", it's racing ahead of the West in the development of electronics, computer technology and the safe production of atomic energy (a riff on the Failed Future Forecast of Mack Reynolds that a centrally-controlled Soviet economy would be more efficient than a Western capitalist one). Some members of the crew come from countries that no longer exist in the year that it's set, including East Germany, South Vietnam, and Yugoslavia, while Seska is an expatriate Soviet Communist and suspected KGB agent.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • There was a trend in action films between the 1970s and early 1990s (particularly in the late 80s) in which the rising crime rates of the era would inevitably lead by the end of the century to a near-collapse of civilization... unless a hard-boiled copper or a Vigilante Man could bring some order. The fact that by the late 90s crime rates decreased (to historical lows in some places), and (for added irony) alongside a softer stance on crime in the mid-90s makes modern audiences ponder in hindsight if the writers either mocked or were part of the moral panic of the era.
    • In Predator 2, it was predicted that by 1997 Los Angeles would decay into a dystopian Crapsack World with drug gangs in open war with each other, as well as the police, using military-grade hardware and body counts seemingly in the thousands. The police themselves show elements of being an occupying force in their own city and Harrigan himself refers to his beat as "the war." Based on the high crime rates of L.A. in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this didn't seem too far-fetched circa 1990, but fast forward to the second decade of the 21st Century and we see that Los Angeles, while still not a utopia, has far lower crime rates than it did at the time the film was made. Ironically, it was in the next year that they started to fall.
    • See also the opening of Demolition Man, which shows about 10% of the city on fire (including the Hollywood sign), gangs with anti-aircraft weapons and police riding military grade Humvees... in 1996 (just three years after the film's release, making it even more ridiculous than most of them). This is mostly to crank up the contrast with the 2032 world, where crime is so low that the police have basically forgotten what it is.
    • Escape from New York, in 1981, predicted that by 1997 crime rates would have risen to such catastrophic levels that Manhattan Island would be turned into a penal colony for containing all the convicts. While the high crime rates of the 1970s-80s made it look more plausible then, the fact they started falling just ten years on left it looking silly when the actual 1997 rolled around.

  • This is what Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three suffered from. Originally a light-hearted comedy with Dirty Commies, it became a massive case of having to be Distanced from Current Events when the Berlin Wall was built (during filming!). Before August 1961, people could cross the border between West and East Berlin quite easily - which millions of East Germans used to move to the golden west. The movie was based on this premise and suffered when the Wall was built.
  • In 2001: A Space Odyssey the Soviet Union was certainly around, evidenced by Dr. Heywood Floyd's meeting with some fellow space scientists from the Soviet side on his way to the Moon. The book also detailed a USA–USSR pact opposing China, which is the opposite of what happened in real life, but was plausible in the 1960s when written due to border clashes between China and the Soviet Union (Hunter S. Thompson was writing about the possibility as late as 1974, although that's partly because of his conviction that Richard Nixon was the Devil).
  • By contrast, the plot of 2010: The Year We Make Contact revolves almost entirely around Cold War tensions between the Soviet astronauts piloting the Alexei Leonov and the Americans who need their help to reach the wreck of the Discovery. Although not the book's, which is why a few lines about peace are tacked on with the message at the end of the film.
  • 2012 intended to predicted The End of the World as We Know It without success... Although one could make the case that it was just Roland Emmerich using the silly "Mayan prophecy" mumbo-jumbo to cram as many natural disasters as he could into one film.
  • Back to the Future Part II's version of 2015:
    • A Cubs-Miami World Series in 2015 became impossible as long as both franchises remained in the National League. The fact these teams had the two worst records in the NL in 2013 would've made a World Series by either squad unlikely, anyway. (Although the Cubs did come closer than anybody thought they would, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals to win the 2015 NLDS, only to lose to the hated Mets. On October 21, 2015.) Good job predicting there'd be a Miami team, though (the Florida Marlins were formed in 1993 and became the Miami Marlins in 2012), even if they got the name and league wrong. The Cubs World Series happened in 2016, with them winning and ending the century-drought that was still very much in effect during the Back to the Future trilogy.
    • In one that crosses with Harsher in Hindsight, "Queen Diana visits Washington." Not only did Princess Diana leave the royal family by divorcing Charles and later died tragically in 1997, but Elizabeth II was alive and well in 2015 and continued reigning all the way until her own death in 2022. Maybe the two swapped fates? On October 21, 2015, the real-life USA Today issued a special edition replicating the front page from the movie, but omitting the Queen Diana headline.
    • As shown above, the newspaper that mentions "Queen Diana" also suggests a female US president. If it's referring to the President of the United States, that hadn't happened by 2015 and, as of 2024, still hasn't.note 
    • One of the more amusing mispredictions: The continued existence of Pontiac. Why they even decided that a Toyota dealership would switch to selling American cars in the first place is a mystery, especially since '80s futurism was heavily inspired by a Japan Takes Over the World mentality (we see this with Marty working for a Mr. Ito T. Fujitsu); which will not likely happen after Japan's bubble economy burst during The '90s.
    • Another amusing misprediction is the existence of Jaws 19. The Jaws franchise ended after the fourth movie (this one may be intentionally mispredicted, seeing as how the Jaws 19 poster with the "This time it's REALLY personal" tag was a Take That! to Jaws: The Revenge after that film was ripped apart by critics and audiences and became an instant Old Shame to Universal Pictures and its crew). In 2015, Universal actually released a tongue in cheek mock trailer for Jaws 19, where they also referenced the other faux Jaws sequels (Jaws 5 through 18).
    • The films predicted some form of sensor technology for video games (as suggested by Elijah Wood's character's comment remarking on the Nintendo Zapper being "like a babies toy" for using his hands). The prediction rang false however, as while such technology does exist (Xbox Kinect), it has a slim following among the industry at large at best and is ridiculed at worst, resulting in people still using their hands.
    • Fashion styles are a whole category of mispredictions, but one of the more obvious is that no one is using two ties, quite the opposite, ties are nowadays falling out of favor in all but the most formal occasions, let alone office environments.
    • Assumed that Japan Takes Over the World, that there would be a Japanese fax machine in every room of every house, and that every corporation would be run from Japan. All of this was from a common belief during the 1980s that Japan's superior electronics were going to allow it to become a global superpower. While Japan is a major economic driving force in The New '10s, nothing like what Part II predicted came to pass. Also, another Asian country is seen as the challenge now. Fax machines aren't doing all that well either.
  • Barb Wire is set in 2017, during The Second American Civil War. 2017 has come and gone without such an event.
  • Blade Runner 2049 does not drop many of the ones from the first film in a deliberate attempt to maintain the aesthetic of the first film. This means Japan Takes Over the World, the USSR still exists, a huge Atari neon in Los Angeles...
  • Death Race 2000 presents the turn of the millennium as a barbaric period where millions of people gather around their televisions to gleefully cheer on racers as they run over and kill innocent pedestrians to earn points. The remake, released in 2008, predicted that by 2012 the economy would have collapsed so severely that prisons would become massively overcrowded, making it profitable for prisoners to compete in lethal races.
  • Demolition Man
    • Released in 1993 (not long after the L.A. riots, which undoubtedly informed a lot of its themes), it predicted that Los Angeles would turn into a criminal-run hellhole by 1996 and that convicts be turned into human popsicles.
    • Among the frozen inmates is Jeffrey Dahmer, the real life cannibalistic Serial Killer. Dahmer was sentenced to over 900 years, so his still being in prison in 2032 actually fits. However, the real Dahmer was killed by a fellow inmate roughly a year after the movie was released.
    • Huxley mentions that the 61st Amendment to the Constitution allowed for Arnold Schwarzenegger to become President of the United States. Incidentally, Schwarzenegger did get elected Governor of California in 2003 following Gray Davis's recall, and in 2013 he actually lobbied for a Constitutional amendment which would make him eligible to run for President.
  • Destroy All Monsters, released in 1968, guessed that by 1999 humanity would have a base established on the moon and the technology needed to keep nearly a dozen kaiju in containment on a small chain of islands. Some films in the Godzilla universe depict technology even more advanced than that already existing in the 1960s, but continuity was never the franchise's strong point.
  • Escape from New York: By 1997 the crime and incarceration rate has risen so high that the United States has become a totalitarian dictatorship, and Manhattan Island is a penal colony.
  • The sequel, Escape from L.A., predicted that in 2000 a massive earthquake would separate a chunk of California from the mainland, creating a new island, which also became a penal colony. This was followed by the president moving the capital to Lynchburg, Virginia, making his term lifelong, and reshaping the US into a puritanical hellhole where things like alcohol, cigarettes, and premarital sex are crimes worthy of the death sentence. The main plot itself takes place in 2013.
  • Averted in A Good Day to Die Hard, which includes a scene where John McClane and a friend talk in an NYPD shooting range with a picture of President Obama in the background. The film was released in 2013 but filmed prior to the 2012 presidential election. Therefore a second version of the scene was shot with a picture of Mitt Romney in the background as insurance in case of a Republican victory.
  • The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, a 1981 Speculative Documentary about Nostradamus, has become an amusing example of this trope. Apparently, we're in the late stages of World War III right now, New York City is a radioactive crater, Ted Kennedy was the Democratic presidential candidate a while back, and the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 happened in '88. This Is the Part Where... we explain that Nostradamus typically made his predictions so vague as to be interpretable six ways from Sunday in a successful bid to stay off the Church Police's radar.
  • The ending of Memories of Murder assumes that by 2003, the Hwaesong serial murderer would still be at large. But in September 2019, the murderer was identified via DNA evidence as Lee Choon-jae, who had already been imprisoned since 1994 (with his original death sentence being commuted to life imprisonment) for murdering his sister-in-law in a similar fashion.
  • The original Planet of the Apes pentalogy eventually fell victim to this. The original film was released in 1968 and focused on a space crew that set out for an interstellar mission in the far-off year of 1972. The third movie, released three years later, had two talking apes arrive from the future one year after the mission from the original, which was two years away at the time. By the time the fourth movie was released, it was the same year interstellar travel was supposed to be possible according to the original, and when the fifth movie was released another year later, there were no talking apes from the future, obviously.
    • Sadly the film franchise did get a prediction almost right (though not to the extent predicted, thankfully): the film predicted that a virus would kill all cats and dogs in the world sometime in the 1970s. In 1978, the canine parvovirus pandemic did kill thousands of dogs worldwide, and a similar virus affected cats in the UK but was much more localized.
  • Planet Terror, the leader of the infected soldiers claims his team had already killed bin Laden, but the circumstances would've embarrassed his superiors, so they kept it quiet. Grindhouse was released in 2007, a few years before Bin Laden's actual death in 2011.
  • RoboCop (1987), set at some unclear future date after 1987, implies that the Cold War is still going on, with references to SDI and the MX missile. The latter, which became the Peacekeeper, has now been scrapped. References are also made to the South African apartheid government which is not only still in power (albeit reduced to a single city-state), but actively threatening to deploy a Neutron Bomb against insurgents, thus promoting them from racist assholes to cartoonish supervillains (although, in Real Life, they did have nukes).
  • The Running Man: Although reality TV was a huge thing when the film took place around 2017-2019 (unlike the book, which is set in 2025), no one is putting condemned criminals on live game shows to fight to survive.
  • This was averted in the 1968 movie The Shoes Of The Fisherman, which predicted that by the time the film was set in the late 1980s a non-Italian from an Eastern European country would be elected Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. When the film had been made there had not been a non-Italian Pontiff in over four hundred years. Ten years after the film was made that prediction became true when the College of Cardinals elected the Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyła Pope, the first non-Italian to hold the office in over 455 years.
  • Soylent Green predicts that by 2022, New York City will have a population of over 40 million people and that overcrowding, global warming, and food shortages will turn the entire planet into a barren, dystopian wasteland where humans are forced to eat the deceased to survive. As of the real 2022, NYC's population still hasn't reached nine million, and obesity from overeating is a common ailment in much of the world, especially the US. Note also that, based on the age and life experience of Charlton Heston's character, the film's dystopia couldn't have come into existence any later than the 1980s, and this is a film that was released in 1973. This is actually consistent with then-current population-bomb projections, which made the mistake of failing to take the Green Revolution into account.
  • Split Second (1992): This dystopian sci-fi action movie predicted that London would become partially flooded by 2008 as a result of Global Warming, giving the monster in the film a place to hide in the mass of abandoned buildings and subway stations. Suffice it to say, this prediction was a bit off.
  • Star Trek:
    • In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, V'ger is revealed to be a twentieth-century NASA probe called Voyager 6. There have only ever been two Voyagers, the two that were launched shortly before the film's release.
    • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home:
      • Humpback whales will go extinct in the 21st century. Granted, there are still several more decades of the 21st century to go, but humpback whales are no longer endangered as they were when the film was made. The whole point of the film was to stop them from becoming extinct, so that prophecy was actually meant to be self-defeating.
      • During a global loss of power, Leningrad's power grid is described to have collapsed. Leningrad reverted in 1991 to its pre-revolutionary name, St. Petersburg. The name of the oblast, on the other hand, is still Leningrad. If the power grid includes the entire area, the statement is technically correct.
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was made as a commentary about the Cold War winding down, though it came out a few weeks before the Soviet Union actually collapsed. Its Star Trek counterpart, the Klingon Empire, does not.

  • In a bit of a meta-entry, several techno-thrillers and what-if war novels from 1978's The Third World War though 1984's Red Storm Rising to 1990's Sword Point, all written prior to the end of the Cold War have World War III end up in a status quo ante peace treaty, where other than a few million dead, the Superpowers continue their struggle against each other as if nothing happened! It was almost as if no author could remember a time before the two super powers, or imagine a time after them. One of the few that averted this was, ironically, the first listed.
    • The Third World War had the Soviet Union abruptly collapse after the nuking of Minsk (in response to the Soviet nuking of Birmingham, England), with the 1982 sequel/expansion detailing how it happened.
    • The war outlined in Red Storm Rising is purely conventional with no nuclear or chemical weapons causing massive civilian casualties, making an immediate postwar return to the status quo more plausible. Lampshaded by the US ground forces commander in Europe during the ceasefire talks; his Soviet counterpart points out that "both sides can still lose" if NATO advances into the USSR itself. Also, the novel ends with the ceasefire; the survival of an oil-starved and war-weakened Soviet Union in the aftermath is open to the reader's interpretation.
  • An early version of "The Great Politics Mess-Up" was the use of "Prussians" as stock foreign characters in scifi stories set in The Future (e.g. the Seetee stories by Jack Williamson) long after Prussia had been split up and absorbed by communist countries that had little interest in maintaining the institutions that created that stereotype in the first place.

  • LeVar Burton wrote his only novel, Aftermath in 1997, predicting the US would be in a state of utter economic and social collapse by the present as a result of a civil war. However, he got one prediction right, that a black president would be elected in 2008 (it's his assassination that triggers said civil war).
  • Louis-Sébastien Mercier's L'an 2440 ("The Year 2440"), published in 1770, is an old example. Predicting what France would be like in 2440, Mercier believes France would still have a hereditary monarchy (albeit a constitutional one), although his future France has, like modern France, seen its nobility abolished.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • The short story "History" was published in 1941, where a character recites the historical "fact" that Adolf Hitler died in Madagascar. This prediction would be disproven four years later when Hitler committed suicide in Germany.
    • Asimov himself cheerfully commented that his story "Everest" predicted that the mountain in question would never be climbed, and was published several months after the first successful attempt to do so. (Though he actually wrote it before the expedition.)
    • "The Evitable Conflict": When Byerley contemplates the Cold War, he characterizes it as a conflict between Karl Marx and Adam Smith, and how it was destined to be made irrelevant by robots inventing Casual Interplanetary Travel. In the setting of this story, the two sides adapted to new supply/demand concerns, making them economically similar.
    • Fantastic Voyage: This novelization of Fantastic Voyage has two superpowers referred to simply as "Us" and "Them". In-Universe, characters mention that the political maps have changed over the years. The maps used to show "Us" (and allies) as a pure pristine white and "Them" (and their allies) as a deep, brooding, bloody red, but now both sides are depicted in pastel shades. It's also implied that the political ideologies have drifted closer together.
    • Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain: This story keeps the muted/thawed cold war aspect from Fantastic Voyage, but dispenses with the "Us" and "Them" in favour of openly referring to the USA and the Soviet Union because the protagonist is American (and not a double agent) who spends most of the novel in the Soviet Union working with Soviet citizens, so sticking to Us/Them would have been very awkward (whose us and them?).
    • "Let's Get Together": There are two superpowers who are usually referred to as "Us" and "Them", who maintain a delicate stalemate. It's supposed to be America against Russia despite being set decades into the future, where Deceptively Human Robots are used as weapons of infiltration designed to explode when they get together. It is, however, mentioned that They are no longer called "Russia" or "the Communists" or even "the East", because none of those are particularly accurate descriptions (as well as using the same "pastel shades" bit as Fantastic Voyage). It also correctly predicts the reunification of Germany.
    • Robots and Empire claims nuclear fission power fell into disuse following the Three Mile Island disaster in 1979. Chernobyl is conspicuously not mentioned, despite having been far worse, since it occurred shortly after the book was published.

  • The Chalet School in Exile (1940) has the Chalet School relocate from Austria to Guernsey to escape the Nazis. Shortly after it was published, the Nazis invaded Guernsey. The Chalet School Goes to It (1941) establishes that they almost immediately re-relocate to Wales.
  • James Blish's Cities in Flight series involves the Western democratic government model becoming ever more intolerant, eventually resembling the Soviet model very closely, and then the Soviets winning the war (and absorbing the West) because they were better at being Soviets.
  • CoDominium:
    • A world government evolved out of cooperation between the US and USSR in the 1990s. When the real 1991 came around, Jerry Pournelle retconned the timeline so the CoDominium was founded in 2000. Not to mention also adding a Soviet coup to reestablish the USSR 20 minutes into the future, which had collapsed in reality.
    • Interestingly, novels set later in that universe—like 1974's The Mote in God's Eye—avoid the problem. In the far future, a post-communist Russia venerates both its Communist and its Imperial past—so there's a Russian (and Eastern Orthodox) world named "Saint Ekaterina" with a battleship named Lenin. Under Putin in recent years, Russia has been doing just that.
  • Clive Cussler often set his books (particularly the Dirk Pitt Adventures) a few years in the future, so he was bound to get some things wrong.
    • Night Probe has the U.S. President being told the Middle East has two years of oil 1989.
    • Cyclops imagines that in 1989, the Soviet Union is still strong, but Fidel Castro breaks Cuba away to become an ally to the U.S.
    • Treasure stated that in 1991, the U.S. finally converted to the metric system. Also, it said that Muammar Gaddafi died of cancer while Ayatollah Khomeni was still alive. By 1990, Khomeni had been dead for a year, while Gaddafi would live until 2011.
    • Valhalla Rising, set in 2003, has the villain's plot involving blowing up a tanker at the base of the World Trade Center.
    • Corsair is centered in Libya where Muammar Gaddafi announces an increased cooperation with NATO in anti-terrorism efforts. The book was written just two years before the Libyan Civil War.

  • The Dark Forest by Liu Cixin, originally published in 2008, has a meeting 20 Minutes into the Future between a former American secretary of defense and an aged Islamic fundamentalist hiding out in Afghanistan who is clearly intended to be — but not named as — Osama bin Laden. The English translation of the book didn't appear until 2015, meaning that the mess-up was baked into it from the start.
  • The long-running Deathlands series of novels started in 1986. They claimed that a nuclear war broke out between the USA and the USSR on January 20, 2001, leading to the post-apocalyptic setting where the action takes place. In real life, not only was there no war between the USA and the Soviet Union in 2001, the latter had ceased to exist ten years prior. Rather than attempt to retcon any of their predictions, the series simply became Alternate History.
  • The Doctor Who New Adventures novel Eternity Weeps, published in 1997 but set in 2003, features Iran and Iraq soldiers competing to acquire an alien artifact. No one could have foreseen that in 2003 Iraq would be occupied by the US-led coalition.
  • In the web-novel Domina, the Soviets are mentioned obliquely a few times even before the reveal that the story takes place in an alternate 2001. The timeline changed in 1970, and apparently one of the effects is that the USSR never fell. The Cold War appears to be long over, though, and the Soviets maintain the space station that serves as the communications hub for the space colonies.
  • Dream Park by Niven and Steven Barnes has California decimated by an earthquake and associated tsunami in 1985. The second sequel bumped this to 1995, after which the authors threw up their hands and let it stand as an alternate-history Verse.

  • The Eclipse Trilogy by John Shirley happens in an early 21st century with a Third World War between NATO and the Warsaw Pact bloc. It was retconned later to a revived Soviet Union.
  • In the 1990 short story "The Emperor's Return" by Harry Turtledove, the Soviet Union invades Turkey in 2003 - and not only that, Greece has gone communist as well and is allied with the USSR. Now, since Turtledove has made most of his career writing Alternate History, Fantasy or any possible combination of bothnote  it's very easy to handwave that.
  • Ender's Game:
    • The story had been published in 1985, with an existing Soviet Union. When re-released in 1991, such references were modified to reflect the decline of the Soviet Union.
    • The sequel Ender's Shadow trilogy did not anticipate South Sudan becoming independent.

  • The short story "Fire Watch" by Connie Willis derives substantial drama from time traveller John Bartholomew's difficulty in resolving the cognitive dissonance caused by observing a 20th century British communist serving on the St. Paul's Cathedral fire watch during WWII while knowing that St. Paul's will be destroyed by the USSR during the 21st century. This point is retconned in later stories, leaving the plot of "Fire Watch" somewhat confusing.
  • Averted in a Mark Twain short story, "From The London Times Of 1904", which predicts the Internet and social media (actually far ahead of their time).
  • Full Disclosure: The novel takes place during the administration of the 41st president of the United States. Israel and the Arabs are allies, China and Japan have become one country, America and the Soviets are allies, and most of the U.S. government cabinet positions have been combined to form consolidated departments (for a total of five secretaries, and the attorney general).

  • The Gates Of Eden by Brian Stableford is set in 2441. The captain of a returned cold-sleep ship is surprised, not to say exasperated, that after 350 years and one ecological collapse there is still a "West" and a "Soviet bloc", "and they're still 'they' and we're 'us'." On the other hand, the deep space arms of both groups care less and less about what Earth thinks.
  • Hector Bywater's The Great Pacific War was actually written as future fiction (it was published in 1925, the war in the book takes lasts from 1931 - 1933), but the naval conflict in the book had so many similarities to the actual Pacific war that happened soon after that it now seems like an alt-history novel.

  • In an attempt to defy this, Charles Stross has put the third book of his Halting State series, The Lambda Functionary, on indefinite hold until Scotland decides whether it's going to stay in the United Kingdom or not.
  • Robert A. Heinlein is often credited with inventing the idea of an author linking his works into a single timeline and coining the term "future history." Nonetheless, he eventually had to declare his Future History to be an alternate universe (and he then introduced inter-universal travel so those characters could visit worlds more like our own).
  • Hover Car Racer has an in-universe example. After Jason's car is destroyed in the Italian Run, a newspaper prepares two versions of the front page but prints the wrong one, leading Jason to discover a story with the headline "The Death of Jason Chaser''.

  • An Island Called Moreau by Brian W. Aldiss has World War III happening in the mid-1980s between the USSR and "its Middle East allies" against NATO, Israel and China.
  • Islands in the Net: The Soviet Union is portrayed as lasting into the 2020s. The "hard Ecu" is a better currency than the US dollar. The European Union definitely has a common currency in the 2020s, but it is called the Euro, and the US dollar continues to be good.

  • Jack Ryan:
    • The Sum of All Fears is a close one-written in early 1991, months before the breakup of the Soviet Union, and revolves around a "hoaxed" Soviet attack on the US in January 1992, by which time the USSR had been formally dissolved for a month. The film adaptation was aware of this, with the main villain changed from an East German to a neo-Nazi.
    • His portrayal of the prominent Afghan viewpoint character, a mujahideen, in Cardinal of the Kremlin also uses the "tragic, noble victims of the invading Soviets" political Historical Hero Upgrade common in those times as he was stated to have been nothing but a peaceful teacher who only became a ruthless killer after the Soviets had ruined his life and killed his family and that he wouldn't have even picked up a gun if it were otherwise. Played with in that the other mujahideen viewpoint character is Ax-Crazy, but it still didn't stop the novel ultimately laying the fault on the Soviet invasion and the American interference in it:
      Not a trick, Ortiz [a CIA agent] noted. He called it a tactic. He wants to go after transports now, he wants to kill a hundred Russians at a time. Jesus, what have I made this man?note 
  • The original James Bond novels were primarily about Bond fighting agents of the Soviet spy organization SMERSH. But Ian Fleming began to worry that the Cold War might end at some point and leave his stories feeling dated. So when writing Thunderball, he decided to come up with SPECTRE, an apolitical, multinational terrorist organization with a tendency to play both sides of the Cold War and other conflicts for their own schemes who could fit into any political context imaginable.
  • Alan Steele's Jericho Iteration, written in 1994 and set in 2013: St. Louis has not been destroyed by a massive earthquake and Cascadia, a nation consisting of Washington and Oregon, has not seceded from the Union.
  • June 29, 1999, a 1992 book by David Wiesnernote  involves giant vegetables falling onto Earth, apparently alien food. 1999 passed and no such thing happened.

  • Kamal and Barnea: Though the series is not explicitly about this, it quickly becomes so. It started as being set in some near future where the Israelis largely pulled out of the West Bank, and Yasser Arafat was President of the Palestinian state. After this was written, Israel eventually did pull out of Gaza, but Arafat died in 2004 and the West Bank remains occupied. Nor unfortunately is peace any closer more than twenty years on, contrary to what these books show.
  • Stephen King
    • In The Stand, written in 1979 and set in 1990, an American general instructs his subordinate to release a virus in each of the Soviet satellite states.
    • The Dead Zone has a relatively minor one: Johnny Smith's vision of a future nuclear apocalypse ushered in by President Greg Stillson. Smith predicts that the war will originate in South Africa which, at the time the book was written, was pursuing a nuclear weapons program under the direction of the apartheid government. However, South Africa dismantled its arsenal in 1989, three years before Smith predicted Stillson would be elected.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space has humanity midway through colonizing the solar system and beginning to get slowboats to nearby habitable systems ready by this point in its history, as well as widespread death penalties to force organ donation. Many of its more fanciful aspects that happened in the late 20th century (legal rights and translators for dolphins, mining and colonies on Mercury and Venus) have changed from prediction into alternate history as the decades since the series started have passed. On the bright side, organ harvesting isn't nearly as bad as it predicted either.

  • Mary Shelley's The Last Man is set between 2073 and 2100 recording The End of the World as We Know It by The Plague, although most of the story is about the family drama of the main character. Despite happening in the late 21st century all European monarchies are still in place, the Ottoman empire still exists, and so on.
  • Lampshaded at the end of the 1952 novel Limbo by Bernard Wolfe. His novel is set in a fictional post-WWIII 1990s that maintains racial segregation, sexual discrimination, and Cold War rivalries in a world of automated factories, rocket planes and nuclear-powered artificial limbs.
    Anybody who "paints a picture" of some coming year is kidding — he's only fancying up something in the present or past, not blueprinting the future. All such writing is essentially satiric (today-centered), not utopic (tomorrow-centered). This book, then, is a rather bilious rib on 1950 — on what 1950 might have been like if it had been allowed to fulfill itself, if it had gone on being 1950, only more and more so, for four more decades. But no year ever fulfills itself: the cowpath of History is littered with the corpses of years, their silly throats slit from ear to ear by the improbable.
  • Looking Backward, published in 1888, predicted that by 2000 the US, Europe, and much of the world overall would be socialist. Not only did this not happen, but most socialist states collapsed in the late 80s/early 90s. However, it did accurately predict skyscrapers, credit cards and radio (the last being around the corner at the time).
  • Lord of the Flies features a nuclear war breaking out sometime in the late 1950s, making it this trope if you block out all the heavy-handed symbolism.

  • Make Room! Make Room! predicts a world population of seven billion in 1999 turning the world into a starving dystopia. It was about a decade off on the population and parts of the world are suffering from epidemic obesity. It also has New York City with a population of thirty five million. Almost twenty years later, it has not even reached nine million.
  • The Man Who Brought the Dodgers Back to Brooklyn was written in 1981, but largely takes place in 1985–88. A few of the changes are necessary for the story to work; for instance, the LA Dodgers' mid-Eighties stats ended up being pretty good in Real Life, but had to be abysmal in the book to help the characters buy out the team.
    • A minor aversion occurs with the 1988 World Series; the Dodgers make it to the Series in the book, just like they made it to the actual '88 Series.
    • Played straight with the book's central premise, though. As of 2024, the Dodgers are still in Los Angeles.
  • Deliberately spoofed in More Information Than You Require, which is apparently set in some kind of Alternate History where, among other things, Dewey Defeats Truman, and in the follow-up volume, That is All, we learn that Hitler drowned while on vacation during the 1930s. Roosevelt was right there and he allowed it to happen.

  • G. K. Chesterton discusses this trope in the introduction to The Napoleon of Notting Hill:
    The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. And one of the games to which it is most attached is called, "Keep to-morrow dark," and which is also named (by the rustics in Shropshire, I have no doubt) "Cheat the Prophet." The players listen very carefully and respectfully to all that the clever men have to say about what is to happen in the next generation. The players then wait until all the clever men are dead, and bury them nicely. They then go and do something else. That is all. For a race of simple tastes, however, it is great fun.
  • Even scholars on the subject were caught off-guard. History Professor Michael Hughes of University College of Wales, in the epilogue to his book Nationalism and Society: Germany 1800-1945, ends with speculation on the subject of German reunification. He quickly dismisses it as impossible, as it would require the dismantling of the Soviet Union and its European Empire. The book was published in 1988. On the other hand, he was completely right that the only way for it to happen is if the Soviet Union entered into a terminal collapse. He didn't predict reunification but the correctly assessed what would be needed for reunification to happen, although the Soviet Union limped on for another year after Germany was reunified.
  • In the prototypical Cyberpunk novel Neuromancer, the Soviet Union is still alive and kicking; in fact, it's the United States that's fallen apart.
    Quoth Gibson: I wrote the book so that it`s impossible to prove from internal evidence that the United States exists as a nation state. It seems to exist as some sort of congerie of city states and, possibly as the result of some semi-abortive not too bad sort of nuclear war... But I left the Soviet Union looming and rusting away, a sort of slag heap. I never imagined that it could dry up and blow up away.
  • George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four: Although there are some concepts in the novel that we'd be wise to heed as milder versions have crept into Real Life ("Orwellian" political euphemisms or doublespeak, control of information and "the memory hole", increased surveillance and "Total Information Awareness", perpetual war and war footing, etc.), the developed world in 1984 wasn't divided into three totalitarian superstates (although the Third World, in terms of Cold War proxy wars, bore some similarity to that geographical southern quadrant constantly fought over by the three big powers as described in the novel), and the West at any rate wasn't living anywhere near the level of oppression as described in the setting of Airstrip One (Britain), Oceania. Orwell himself discussed this as more of a counter-prediction: hoping that such a dystopia wouldn't happen (it seemed possible to him at the time). In that case, he got his wish.
  • The predictions Nostradamus made in The Prophecies were, as previously mentioned, usually pretty darn vague, but he did have a few unambiguous ones. For instance, his very specific prophecy for July 1999 — he could only have dated it more precisely if he'd specified which day of the month — which completely and utterly failed to happen. Paris was not, in fact, smitten by winged terror from the skies. Or if it was, they kept quiet about it.

  • Jules Verne's Paris in the Twentieth Century — written in the 1860s, and set in the 1960s. Its description of the future is surprisingly accurate, all things considered, though it does imagine a world that runs largely on compressed air.
  • The Peace War opens with a prologue set in 1997, featuring a US Air Force recon mission over the still-existing Soviet Union. It's a relatively minor case, though, because then the Peace War breaks out and rewrites all the existing political borders.
  • In Anne McCaffrey's Pegasus in Flight, written in 1990, she predicted that Russia would abandon Communism through a continuation of Gorbachev-era policies rather than national collapse. Accordingly, Russia still had Communist-era labor laws on the books that became a plot point in the construction of Padrugoi Station. Pegasus in Space just rolled with it.
  • The Power: The segment of the story set in Saudi Arabia mentions that women there aren't even allowed to drive. This law was repealed in 2017, a year after the book came out
  • In the novel President's Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth, Cade, the eponymous vampire, assassinated Osama bin Laden as he was fleeing Tora Bora. This could not be revealed to the public without breaking the Masquerade, especially after bin Laden revealed his true form as a Deep One. After bin Laden's real life death, a later book in the series has an offhand mention of the government staging said death for the sake of political capital.

  • Ready Player One was written and released in the middle of the Great Recession. The book takes place in a world where the Recession never ended, stretching into the 2040s. The real Great Recession officially ended in 2009, but most people had felt the last of its effects by 2015. . . only for another Recession to hit in 2020.
  • K. A. Applegate's Remnants series has Earth struck by a planet-killing asteroid in 2011. Though funnily enough a much more minor prediction in the book did come true: that the United States would have a black president in 2011 (though a man, not a woman).
  • Arthur C. Clarke's original novel Rendezvous with Rama, first published in 1973, is set in what is still the pretty distant future (the 2130s) and anything resembling 20th century geopolitics is serenely absent from Clarke's basically very utopian setting. In the sequel Rama II (written with Gentry Lee) the authors have essentially pushed a great big reset button on the original novel's whole utopian-futuristic setting, and various characters are described as "Soviets"...and the book was published in 1989, of all years.
  • In Michael Crichton's Rising Sun, the Japan Takes Over the World narrative is played out on steroids. Crichton envisions a Japanese culture so ruthless and so powerful that they get away with murder. This was 1992, shortly before (or more accurately during) the Japanese economy's downfall, and the myth of the Japanese's business superiority to America was shattered.
  • Norman Spinrad's 1991 novel Russian Spring was overtaken by events within months of its publication. The novel was an extrapolation of the events that actually led to the fall of the Soviet Union, but predicted a more gradual, on-going evolution and opening-up. As the old guard of Soviet leaders continued to age and die, a new generation of young Russians became adept at working around the restraints of what was left of Communism, and started a cultural and artistic renaissance that soon became the envy of the rest of Europe, while America became increasingly insular and stagnant.

  • The Saga of the Exiles by Julian May takes place both in the 21st century and in the Pliocene. The Soviet Union plays a prominent, but peaceful, role in psychic research. The author has had to dodge the Soviet issue in the sequels.
  • Sky Masters: While not a Sci-Fi novel, Sky Masters was published in 1991 and set in 1994. It makes references to the Soviet Union (which would cease to exist at the end of 1991) and features the Strategic Air Command in a prominent role. The SAC would be abolished in 1992.
  • Sometime Never: A Fable for Supermen has a nuclear war where there shouldn't have been, though Roald Dahl is just looking for a convenient time to kill humanity.
  • The Space Odyssey Series:
    • The book 2061 not only has the Soviet Union still around, it has South African apartheid continue until the 2030s, when it is destroyed by a violent revolution that scatters the Afrikaners across the Earth and Solar System. They more or less become the new Jews.
    • The 2001 series had a sort-of double mess-up. In the first book (and movie), though the USSR is still around, it and the US are cooperating and have friendly relations (as shown by Floyd chatting casually with Soviet citizens, who are also clearly friends, on the space station. They even inform each other that they're always welcome to come by to visit whenever they just happen to be in each other's countries). When Clarke wrote 2010 (in 1982), it was obvious the real-world US and USSR were not quite being so friendly, so he decided that there should be conflict between the Soviet and American astronauts because of their respective countries' rivalry (though not as blatant as in the film, where the two countries are at the brink of war). Of course, fast forward to the real year 2001, where Soviet Union is gone, the US is supreme, and where, in fact, Russia and the US are building a joint space station, though not one as big and fancy as the one in the book.
  • The Space Odyssey Series predicted lunar bases and manned missions to Jupiter by the first year of the 21st Century. More egregiously, the movie predicted that we would be flown there by PanAm, which went out of business in 1991.
  • John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar actually handles this pretty well, despite being written in 1968. The USSR isn't gone in 2010, but it's mostly defunct and implied to be Communist only in name, and the real threat is ... China. A lot of other predictions in the book are surprisingly accurate as well.
  • In the 1965 novel- set in the future- The Star Fox by Poul Anderson, there's a reference to the Russian Republic, which is also noted as being 'amiably inept'. (Poul Anderson was a noted anti-communist).
  • Jerry Ahern's epic pulp adventure series The Survivalist begins with the Soviets invading Pakistan to try to stabilize Afghanistan during their occupation of it, which starts a nuclear war. The series continues with post-Apocalyptic schemes between the US and the USSR continuing to dominate the main plotline, including a fleet of Space Shuttles and some serious Soviet Superscience, after which the title character and his family cold sleep into the future and start again there (unfortunately so have the Dirty Communists).

  • Both the book and the movie of H. G. Wells's The Shape of Things to Come predicted that World War II would lead to the collapse of civilization and the rise of a technocratic new world order. Among Wells's howlers was the prediction that the German army would be fought to a standstill by Poland. However, he did accurately predict the second world war coming (admittedly not that hard) along with the fact it would happen by 1940 (the war began four months before).
  • The Third Millennium, a book of future history by David Langford and Brian Stableford, written in 1985, has communism (and capitalism) collapsing in the mid 21st century, but the USSR existing as a political entity right up until 3000.
  • The Third World War: August 1985, a 1978 mock-history book on a World War III, has the USSR collapse in 1985... In a highly violent manner after the nuclear destruction of Minsk, now Belarus, and Birmingham, UK.

  • The early books of the Venus Prime series, being based on old short stories written by Arthur C. Clarke and having been started in the eighties, imply that Russia is still Communist, despite taking place at least a century into the future. The last book, written more recently, clarifies that the Soviet Union is still around (or reformed itself), but the second "S" in USSR stands for something other than "Socialist", and apparently, there are still Russians who want to return their country to socialism; the Soviet colony on Mars featured in the third book was an attempt to pacify them.
    • In the first book, one of the suspects in the Star Queen sabotage, Sondra Sylvester, has a big secret that she doesn't want anyone to find out... she's living with another woman. While this might have been scandalous in the 80's, it's not so controversial nowadays.
    • The plot of the third book relies heavily on the assumption that the Soviet Union is still around in the 22nd century, and has enough clout that the Council of Worlds (a successor to the UN) granted it and China their own colony on Mars to spread communism. The Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991. The last book, written after the Soviet Union's demise, retroactively places a lampshade on this, claiming that in recent years, there have been Russians pining for a return to communism, and the Mars colony was an attempt to siphon those agitators away from Mother Russia.
  • In Voyage From Yesteryear by James P. Hogan, the Soviet Union is stated to have collapsed in 2021.

  • Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka's Warday (1984) depicts a "limited" nuclear war in 1988. In a case of Write Who You Know the authors recount their (fictional) experiences in the war and travel across a devastated and depopulated America to show the consequences of the war. The eastern half of the country has been destroyed by bombings on San Antonio, New York, and Washington, D.C. and the breakdown of order while California is pretty much untouched and has become an undeclared separate country with closed borders.
  • The Way Series: A major plot point of Eon, written in 1985 and set in the early 21st century, is that the USSR still exists and the Third World War breaks out between it and the USA. On the other hand, the plot makes extensive use of the concept of parallel worlds and alternate histories, which handwaves the problem away: the story is not taking place in our timeline.
  • Jack Chalker's original Well World novels from the 1970s featured Com Worlds, generally horrific dystopian planets descended from earth's Communist nations. At the end of that series the whole universe gets rebooted. The next series reveals that human history was altered slightly by the reboot, resulting in the world as we know it and the presumption that Com Worlds will not be a big part of the new future. (Rebooting the universe allows you to Retcon everything, it seems.)
  • Mack Maloney's Wingman series, first published in 1984, had World War III take place in the 80s, and in the 90s, some time after the real-life collapse, the Soviet Union (which somehow still exists despite being bombed into oblivion in the war) uses a traitorous Vice President to let them bomb and take over the United States.
  • In Simon Hawke's The Wizard Of Camelot, a resurrected Merlin is nearly assassinated by a Provisional IRA terrorist in 2182. Even if the Good Friday Accords fail in the future, those splinter groups which still agitate against peace in Northern Ireland now spurn the "Provo" name.
  • A Woman Of The Iron People by Eleanor Arnason (copyright 1991) not only has the Soviet Union survive, it has communism as the dominant political system of Earth at the time of the First Interstellar Expedition (on which the main characters traveled).
  • Joe Haldeman's book Worlds, written in 1981, is set in roughly 2085, with a significant population living on satellite semi-independent "worlds" in space, but makes note that on Earth, most of Asia is now part of the "Supreme Socialist Union."
  • World War Z: The exact date is never openly established but the fact that Fidel Castro is still alive allows you to presume it's intended to be in or near the date it was published (2006). The most obvious failed prediction (thankfully) is the Zombie Apocalypse, however a series of political and geographical changes that happen as consequence of the war include: peace between Israel and Palestine (renamed Unified Palestine), the independence of Tibet from China, Russia turning into the theocratic Holy Russian Empire, Mexico changing its name to Aztlan and the aforementioned Fidel Castro not only alive but leading the democratization of Cuba. Of course some of these events may still happen but none of them would happen before the death of Castro who died in 2016.
  • John Wyndham appears to have been among the first people to believe the Soviet Union was going to collapse at some point, and not in a manner that took human civilization down with it, because any of his books that are set in what in the 1960s would have been Next Sunday A.D. usually include a bit of exposition about the Cold War.

  • Greg Egan's Zendegi, written in 2009 it has the Iranian theocracy overthrown in 2012.
  • The Zone World War III novels by James Rouch (written in the 1980s, though an actual year is never mentioned) are now referred to as Alternate History for this reason.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: Season 1 was written and filmed pre-9/11 but was set in 2004. By the second season, 9/11 had happened, and the Department of Homeland Security suddenly existed when it hadn't before.
  • Airwolf: In one episode, Stringfellow Hawke wakes up in a hospital bed and is told that he has been in a coma for five years. The television on the wall in his private room is permanently tuned to a 24-hour news channel: the dominant story is "The British Royal Divorce" (presumably Chaz & Di). At one point a nurse comes in, crying, saying "I never thought those two would split" (this episode was broadcast in 1987). Before long, Hawke realises that the hospital is a fake, and he is being held by "Dastardly Commies" trying to discover where he has stashed Airwolf.
  • The miniseries Amerika posits a U.S. that was taken over by the Soviet Union in 1987 and was now Soviet-occupied territory. The reason given in the movie as to why this happens is "American apathy." To contrast, there is also a novel entitled USSA: United Soviet States of America, which is a murder mystery set in American-occupied Russia.
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century:
    • "In the year 1987, NASA launched the last of America's deep space probes. ..." Granted, we haven't sent any manned probes past Earth orbit since Apollo 17 in 1972, but we're still sending unmanned ones.
    • The show, which aired from 1979 until 1981, took as its main premise that Captain William "Buck" Rogers would be lost in space during a Negative Space Wedgie that would engulf his deep-space Ranger 3 exploratory craft sometime in the far-off year... of 1987. As of 2018, humanity is still trying to get back to the moon, let alone anywhere further afield, with a manned mission. And, more to the point of 1987, in real life, no space launches of any sort happened in the US that year, due to the Challenger disaster the previous year.
    • In an episode someone tests to see if Buck is who he says he is by making a pop culture reference to the 20th Century. Today, O. J. Simpson's image as "The Juice" has fallen out of public consciousness. And when one thinks of O.J, it's about something completely different. In Buck's defense, he was frozen in 1987, years before O.J's fall from grace.
    Duke: If you're Buck Rogers, then who's "The Juice"?
    Buck: The Juice? Hah. O.J. Simpson. I told you all about him.
  • The introduction to 'Kickpuncher' in Community episode "Romantic Expressionism".
    Kickpuncher Narrator: "It is the year 2006 A.D. and nuclear war has ravaged the planet."
    Abed: "Must have missed that."
  • Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was produced in The '80s, featured in the original run afterwords in each episode that mentioned the Soviet Union. Later the Special Edition of the The '90s acknowledged this trope in more updated afterwords like the one on the final episode "Who Speaks for Earth?", where it mentions that the world has changed: "Walls have come down and Irreconcilable Ideologies have embraced" while showing footage of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the abolition of Apartheid in South Africa and the iconic handshake between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin in front of Bill Clinton.
  • Doctor Who:
    • While not being explicit about it, the story Warriors of the Deep (set circa 2084) involves two superpowers armed with nuclear weapons that highly mistrust each other. The Doctor even comments that nothing has changed: "There are still two power blocs, fingers poised to annihilate each other." To make things vaguer, Ingrid Pitt's character has an Eastern European accent (she was born in Poland). However this is more a case of Does This Remind You of Anything?, as we're never told that they're the same as the USSR and the NATO countries, merely that the same political situation has arisen.
    • The Novelization doesn't even have the half-assed aversion; the blocs are named as East and West, and the sea base residents (the "good guys") are from the West Bloc, while the East Bloc has a policy of "uniformity, obedience and central control". It was not adapted by the original writer, and shoots any subtlety in the original setup stone dead.
    • Several UNIT stories produced in both the 70s and the 80s also mention the "end of the Cold War" but still have a USSR. This combines a failed future forecast with the UNIT dating mess-up, since UNIT stories were notoriously vague and contradictory as to whether they were 20 Minutes into the Future or The Present Day.
    • We did lose a spacecraft with all hands in 1986, but it was a seven-person crew, not a two-person crew. Also, it was an accident rather than a Cyberman invasion, and in January rather than December.
    • "Battlefield" is set in the near future (i.e. the early '90s) and offhandedly mentions a king on the throne in Buckingham Palace. While Charles III did indeed ascend to the throne as Elizabeth II's successor, this didn't happen until 2022, 33 years after the serial's airing (well past the near future).
    • A stranger in a suit and duster did not, in fact, carry the Olympic Torch in the final leg of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Matt Smith did carry the torch for a leg, but it was in Cardiff, not London.
  • During the TV movie Knight Rider 2000, made in 1991, a news clip can be seen of "President Quayle" giving a speech. At the time, Dan Quayle was the Vice President and had things followed a typical political trend, assuming he would be President in the year 2000 wasn't too farfetched. Only for Bush to lose the following year's election and Quayle to retire from politics afterwards.
  • The Last Man on Earth offhandedly depicts Mike Pence as being the 46th president of the United States, aligning with common predictions in the late 2010s that he'd emerge as a potential successor to Donald Trump, under whom he served as vice president. The actual 46th president would end up being Joe Biden, whose election coincidentally occurred during a pandemic similar to the one depicted in the show.
  • Logan's Run: In "Man Out of Time", the Soviet Union seemingly still existed in 2119 as a newspaper headline reads "Eastern Bloc Demands Time Travel Controls."
  • Lost in Space has the interstellar Jupiter 2 vessel sent from Earth to Alpha Centauri in October 16, 1997.
  • In Moonbase 3, the Soviet Union still exists in 2003. It operates Moonbase 2, one of five lunar outposts (the others being operated by the US, Europe, China and Brazil). Furthermore, in the fifth episode "Castor and Pollux", it is revealed that the Soviets are on the verge of sending a manned mission to Mars and that their long-term goal is to launch a manned orbital flight of Jupiter using Mars as a springboard.
  • A poster in Red Dwarf, on board on a ship that left the solar system in either the 21st, 22nd or 23rd century depending on the series, features a rather prominent Soviet flag. There was also an episode in which the characters become convinced they're in Bulgaria, and seem to think it's still part of the Communist bloc.
  • With frightening accuracy, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In averted this. In their "News of the Future" segment they mentioned that in 1988, twenty years from the time the episode was telecast, Ronald Reagan would be the U.S. President and the Berlin Wall would come down. (Okay, the Berlin Wall came down in November of 1989, but still close enough for jazz.) note  note 
  • Saturday Night Live: Zig-zagged during the December 12, 1998 episode hosted by Alec Baldwin, which had Baldwin experiencing Yet Another Christmas Carol during the show's opening monologue, with then-new castmember Jimmy Fallon appearing as the "Ghost of Hosts Future", telling Alec that he was given a prediction that he would become famous and host the show on December 12, 2011. That date was actually a Monday, not a Saturday, although he would indeed host SNL that week on December 17, 2011. The sketch also stated that R.E.M. was the musical guest for the episode Fallon hosted. In reality, REM broke up earlier that year. This is possibly inverted during the Weekend Update segment where a joke is made about a potential presidential run by Donald Trump, basically scoffing at the idea. He would seek the Reform Party's presidential candidacy during the 2000 election before dropping out early, only to actually win in the 2016 election.
  • Space: 1999: It was covered later by stating it had taken place in an Alternate Universe.
    • The first episode has a news report referring to Yugoslavia. Technically, Serbia and Montenegro still called itself Yugoslavia until 2003 (although they had a hard time getting the rest of the world to do the same), but Yugoslavia as it was known in the 70s ceased to exist in 1992.
    • And of course we all remember where we were on September 13, 1999 when a huge nuclear explosion blew the Moon out of Earth orbit.
  • The Spooks spin-off series Spooks: Code 9 started with a nuclear attack during the London 2012 Opening Ceremony - an event that thankfully never happened.
  • Star Cops includes a recurring character who is generally referred to as Russian, but clearly has the Soviet flag on his uniform. The premise seems such that the major Cold War tensions have eased and the two superpowers have learned to get along...more or less. Sort of like the way it is now between the US and Russia.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • Chekov mentioned Leningrad in two separate episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series and, unlike the Trek example above in film, both are clearly references to the city. On the plus side, Chekov always referred to his homeland as "Russia", never uttering the words "Soviet Union" or "USSR". It's unknown whether the writers imagined the Soviet Union will still exist in the future.note 
      • "Space Seed" caused several issues, chief among which, the episode states the Eugenics Wars occurred in the 1990s. There were a couple of attempts to fix this one. Deep Space Nine's "Dr. Bashir, I Presume" claims that it actually happened later sometime. In Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the pilot episode moved the Eugenics Wars from the 1990s to taking place sometime in the first half of the 21st century, leading to World War III by the middle of the century (also mashing it up with a newly invented "Second American Civil War"). It implied that the confusion was due to the war destroying records from that century, but "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow" went one better by stating that so many time travellers had tried to interfere with the events that the war had gotten delayed from the previously established era.
        On another note, we apparently had Sleeper Starships in the 1990s, and moreover, they were supposed to have been obsolete by the year 2018.
      • The non-canon Star Trek Khan comic book just says "screw it, we're going all in" and actually has Khan destroying Washington D.C. and Moscow in 1992, making it straight-out alternate history, which is probably better. Another series of books suggests that they were "secret wars" where the actual historical events were being manipulated from behind the scenes.
      • Zig-Zagged with "Assignment: Earth". The Enterprise is observing Earth on an unspecified date in 1968, and Spock mentions two major historical events happening on the day in question: an important assassination and the launch of an orbital nuclear warhead platform by the United States, the latter of which ends up being disrupted by the events of the episode, causing it to crash. Six days after the episode aired, Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, on the same day NASA also launched a Saturn V rocket which suffered a malfunction and ended up going way off course. (The Saturn V was not actually carrying weapons and the problem was caused by a mechanical failure, but fanon is that the official story about Saturn V was a coverup.) On the other hand, Spock also mentions a coup in Asia on the same day and indicates that the nuclear platform launch was just one of many that occurred, such that "the sky was full of orbiting H-bombs" at some point, but neither of these came to pass. (Spock's prediction of an uprising in Asia is sometimes tied to a coup in Iraq, but that was over three months after the King assassination and the Saturn V launch.)
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • The second episode featured the SS Tsiolkovsky whose dedication plaque reveals that it was built and launched in the USSR in 2363.
      • The beginning of "The Royale" has Picard musing about Fermat's Last Theorem, pointing to humanity's continued failure to solve the problem despite being centuries more technologically advanced than its creator as a lesson in humility. He must have missed that it had actually been solved as early as 1995. This would eventually get referenced in the Deep Space Nine episode "Facets", when Dax says one of her previous hosts had the best approach to proving it since Andrew Wiles, presumably one relying only on techniques made before Fermat stated the theorem.note 
      • In the episode "The High Ground", Data casually mentions that a series of terrorist attacks led to the reunification of Ireland into a single state in 2024. At the point the episode was released (1990), a peace treaty was seen as utterly inconceivable, and many believe the only way for that to happen would be for the United Kingdom to collapse. Of course, reunification in full has still not happened, but time will tell whether this prediction will come true depending on how Brexit goes. Incidentally, the reference to Ireland being reunited due to terrorism led to this episode being banned on British television for years afterward. It was finally shown on the BBC in 2007. It has never been shown on Irish television. With unionist parties winning fewer Northern Irish seats than pro-reunification parties in the 2019 general election, it’s looking like Star Trek may actually have been slightly late in its prediction. It still wouldn’t be right about the terrorism.note 
    • Star Trek: Voyager: In-universe in the episode "Future's End". When Voyager is sent back to 1996, Tom Paris, the ship's expert on the 20th Century, enlists the aid of an astronomer called Rain Robinson, claiming to be a CIA agent investigating a Soviet plot. When she tells him the USSR collapsed five years ago, he pauses for a second and replies "That's what they want you to think!"
  • The PBS game show adaptation of Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego had the misfortune of being launched just as the USSR was on the verge of collapse, meaning that by the second season, anything related to it or Eastern Europe in the first season reruns was already outdated. This, combined with chronic instability in the third world, prompted a disclaimer to be added: "All geographic information was accurate as of the date this program was recorded." It also necessitated constant updating of the maps used on the show, sometimes overnight according to Defunctland.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • The New Breed, a 1986 tag team who claimed to be from 2002, said (among other things) that Dusty Rhodes was President of the US in the future. They also thought that LazorTron (Hector Guererro) was real because in their time there really were robots.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons: In "Lunarville 7" (1967), the Lunar Controller refers to "man's first successful landing on the Moon, back in the 1970's". The writers clearly assumed that NASA's ambition to land a man on the Moon by the end of the decade would not be realized.

  • Journey into Space: The original series was produced from 1953 to 1958 and featured manned missions to The Moon in 1965 and Mars in 1971 and 1972. In Frozen in Time, which was produced in 2008, it is mentioned that the Ares embarked on a mission to explore The Solar System on June 8, 1973 and had reached Neptune by 1977.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Most of the relevant parts of the BattleTech timeline are in the middle parts of the 31st century, so it's a petty detail — but the game's timeline includes a second "Soviet Civil War" in the early 21st century, just before the first manned flight to Mars. Newer materials haven't retconned this; presumably, it's just assumed to be an alternate reality.
    • Actually similar to Shadowrun (only logical since both were created by the same company), it was at one point mentioned that an attempted retcon to the Russian Federation was made, before the creators gave up and as much as declared (Particularly joked on on the BattleTech forums) that BattleTech is not our future but rather the future of the mid 1980s. Which actually explains quite a bit, including the bulk of much of the computer equipment in the game in comparison to modern computers and the like.
  • The default setting for Champions displayed a classic great mix-up turnaround. Red Doom, a 3rd edition supplement, was published in 1988, and depicted a pair of official Soviet superteams — "The Supreme Soviets", who were basically loyal to the state, if only because that suited their ambitious leader, Colonel Vasalov, and who thus tended to operate in the range from Worthy Opponents to Dirty Communists, and their auxiliary team, the "Comintern", who were created as something of a dumping-ground for less reliable or more independent-minded supers, and who could thus be more likely to come across as Chummy Commies. (Both included non-Russian members.) However, by the time the characters were updated for the 4th edition in Classic Enemies (1991), they needed major changes. One group, "Red Doom", had gone rogue, with Colonel Vasalov aiming to depose President Gorbachev and take over Russia, thus falling into the Renegade Russian category (though the team still had several non-Russian members); the other characters had become an independent hero team, the "New Guard", albeit still loyal to their various homelands and so potentially able to operate at cross-purposes to western heroes, making them basically Chummy Commies who weren't especially communist.
  • The second edition of the Cyberpunk game (Cyberpunk 2020) was published in 1990. The fall of the Soviet Union is mentioned in the timeline (as is Germany's reunification), but the Soviet Union did not split up as in OTL. Instead, it reformed into the Federation of Soviet Republics, which is basically what would have happened if perestroika had led to roughly the same type of economic reforms as happened in China under Deng Xiaoping in OTL. Speaking of which, Deng Xiaoping's reforms in China result into a massive civil war between the Dengist government and Maoist rebels dissatisfied with the market reforms, which was thought as a real possibility at the time due the then recent 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
  • GURPS Terradyne has a much-reduced (with only five republics left) USSR in the year 2120. Again, this was written in the period where it was expected that some states would peel off from the Union but not that it would break completely.
  • Steve Jackson Games' Illuminati card game (first published in 1982) assigned groups various alignments that (mostly) came in opposing pairs; one opposing pair was "Government" and "Communist". When they adapted the concept into the Illuminati: New World Order Collectible Card Game (in 1995), "Communist" was demoted from an alignment to a secondary "attribute", and the "Corporate" alignment was introduced as the new opposite to "Government".
  • Paranoia has some kind of world-ending catastrophe in its Backstory, and though the details are vague and obscured by time, secrecy and misinformation, the main culprits that The Computer suspects are Communists, hinting at World War III. Not surprising, since the game first came out in The '80s, but not the first people you'd blame these days. On the other hand, records of the past are so mangled and manipulated that it hasn't affected the setting. In fact, the core drives behind the setting have proven remarkably resilient. As the Kickstarter for the 2015 edition says, "The original Paranoia was a product of, well, Cold War paranoia. Today, we have no need to be paranoid! The NSA and GCHQ work tirelessly to ensure that we are all safe and secure against the pervasive threat of Commie mutant trai.... Uh, I mean, evil, crazed terrorists."
  • Rifts has a weird example. The Sourcebook Warlords of Russia was written well after the fall of the Soviet Union (the game itself came out in 1991), yet one of the power blocs mentioned in the setting is a group called the "Sovietski." The book explains that they are the remnants of a second Soviet Union that was formed in the 21st Century before the Coming of the Rifts.
  • The first edition of Shadowrun had references to the Soviet Union in its future history, while the second swapped these out for the Russian Federation. Later editions said to hell with it and admitted the game's timeline is an Alternate History.
  • This hit the game Twilight: 2000 particularly hard, as the premise of the game was that it was set during or just after World War III, after the Soviets had rolled over the Fulda Gap... in the year 2000. They tried a Retcon that only ended up torking off the Germans (predicating the war on Germany's invading Poland...) before reverting to the original plot, throwing up their hands and declaring it an Alternate Timeline.

  • The musical Chess was originally released as a Concept Album in 1984, at the height of the Reagan-era Cold War tensions. Set in the "current day", the plot relied heavily on those tensions. By the time it reached Broadway in 1988, glasnost was in full swing and the impending fall of the Soviet Union was already visible on the horizon. As a result, vast swathes of the story — and several of the songs — had to be rewritten to accommodate the new political reality. (For instance: in one of the dropped songs, the civil servants of the British embassy complained that so many Russians defecting to the West "makes you wonder what they built the Berlin wall for"; in a newly written song, a CIA agent and a KGB agent agree to cooperate to the point where "the Berlin wall becomes a backyard fence.") Modern revivals of the show seem to be getting round this by more-or-less sticking to the plot of the album, and simply making the whole thing an early-80s period piece.

    Video Games 
  • Aerobiz: The second entry in the series predicted supersonic airliners and 1000+ passenger super-jumbo jets in the 2000s, missing the large scale move from regular airliners to smaller, more fuel-efficient Regional Jets for most small and medium-sized routes. It also failed to portray a large number of very prominent cities that cropped up in the late 1990s & early 2000s, such as Dubai, and the terrible economic impact that the 2000s would have on airlines around the world.
    • On a lesser scale, it also predicted the next Airbus airliner would be the A350 (which didn't even enter design stage until 2004, with the first prototype taking flight in 2010), and that McDonnell-Douglas would produce the early concept "MD-12" (a stretched MD-11) and still be an independent manufacturer.
  • Aleste 2, released in 1989, is set in 2039 and features the skyline of New York in a cutscene that features the World Trade Center's Twin Towers, as no one at the time could've predicted that the Twin Towers would fall victim to a terrorist attack in 2001.
  • The Framing Device of the original Assassin's Creed was set in the not-too-distant future of 2012. As 2012 came and went in real life and the Mayan Doomsday behind the use of this date was thwarted in-universe, the series dropped overt references to modern real-world events and dates.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II predicted that David Petraeus would be Secretary of Defense in 2025. Given the fact that Petraeus was caught up in an extramarital affair in late 2012 and ended up resigning as Director of the CIA just three days before the game came out, that seems really unlikely.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III predicts the collapse of the European Union by 2025. It predicted that Italy, Spain and Greece would leave the EU by 2021. By that year in real life, only the United Kingdom had left the union. All things considered, the EU is in a lot better shape than predicted in many works, including this one.
  • Contradiction has characters say that salvia divinorum is a legal hallucinogenic. About a year after the game's release, the UK (where the game takes place) made it illegal to supply, produce, or import it.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 inherited some of this from its source material.
    Let's Player SkillUp: We're going to meet a Soviet weapons dealer in 2077? [Beat while he reads chat] "The tabletop game was released in the 80s." That is a very good point.
  • Endwar has another World War Three, kicked off by a preceding nuclear war in the Middle East in 2014.
  • This is a common trope in very old sports games (especially in sport simulations like Football Manager) since you can manage teams from pre-Cold War era and control them until beyond the 90s without any changes.
  • Ghost Recon predicted an ultranationalist party gaining power in Russia and launching an invasion of the Republic of Georgia to annex it in 2008, which quickly escalates into essentially World War III as NATO intervenes in their subsequent attempts to do the same to other former Soviet satellites like Lithuania; while Georgia and Russia did get into a war in 2008, it did not escalate into the larger conflict that is the focus of the gamenote . Its expansions likewise predicted the death of Fidel Castro in 2006 and a second Eritrean/Ethiopean War in 2009. While the first has since come to pass (albeit ten years late and without democratic elections as a result) there has still been no new war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
  • Harpoon was released in 1989 and one expansion pack assumed that the Soviet Union would still exist in 1996. After the USSR's collapse, there was a big scramble to create new scenarios that weren't obsolete. Of course, since it was a simulation the existing ones were still developed.
  • Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games - Tokyo 2020 is set in the summer of 2020 when the Olympics are happening, when in real life, months after the game was released, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • One of the first sections of The Mario Paint Player's Guide is "Mario Paint: A History", which is a brief overview of art, animation, and music, with an accompanying timeline of artists and works. The final part of this section is "The 90s", which features the following timeline:
    • 1992—Mario Paint Introduced
    • 1993—Mario Paint Player's Guide
    • 199?—First Mario Paint Exhibit
    • 200?—Mario Paint Institute Opens
  • Metal Gear:
    • The games have made a habit of presenting extremely inaccurate visions of the near-future (though there is also some Alternate History at work, since even in games set in the past the technology is more advanced than it really was in those time periods). Thankfully the year 2014 wasn't dominated by a global war fought by nanomachine-powered soldiers as shown in the games.
    • Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, first released for the MSX2 in 1990, not only predicts that the Soviet Union will still be around in 1999, it also features a character named Natasha Marcova (Gustava Heffner in later versions) who works for the StB (the Czechoslovakian Secret Police), a real-life organization that was dissolved during the very same year the game was released.
  • Modern Warfare predicted a civil war in Russia by 2011 which obviously did not come to pass.
  • A major plot point in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is the Statute of Limitations on an old murder case being almost up. Despite what most players would assume, at the time of the game's original 2001 release (and even the 2005 updated re-release), Japan really did have a 15-year Statute of Limitations on murder. However, it would be abolished in 2010, with the abolition applying to all murders that were still active under the prior Statute. As such, since the game takes place in 2016, the entire idea that those who plotted against Edgeworth were "running out of time to get revenge" no longer makes sense.
  • The background history of the Star Control franchise has the Small War of 2015, in which a small nuclear exchange took place between Middle East countries that year, killing several million people. That fortunately never happened in the real world.
  • The original arcade edition of Street Fighter II was released less than a year before the fall of the Soviet Union and had one of its fighters, namely Zangief, as a Soviet representative. His ending sequence even features Mikhail Gorbachev, who is helicoptered in to congratulate him on his victory, espousing the greatness of the "Soviet spirit". Despite subsequent editions of the game being released after the fall of the Soviet Union, Zangief's nationality and ending remained unchanged, although the SNES and Genesis ports attempted to somewhat fix that by having Zangief address Gorbachev as "Mr. Ex-President". This was justified in the Alpha series, which took place chronologically before Street Fighter II, but other games don't have this excuse. It wasn't until Street Fighter IV that Zangief's nationality was officially changed to the Russian Federation, with the current flag. To make it even less consistent, Hyper Street Fighter II, released in 2004, changed the flag of Hong Kong from its earlier British colonial flag to its current five petal design while keeping Zangief's Soviet nationality. And Hong Kong was under British control for the entire history of the Soviet Union! "Ultra Street Fighter II" for the Nintendo Switch, however, replaced the USSR's flag and voice line with Russia's.
  • The original Strider (Arcade) assumes that the Soviet Union will still be around by the year 2048. In fact, the first stage is set in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, a former Soviet state now known as Kazakhstan. In most of Strider's sequels, the political future of the world is not addressed, but in the 2014 remake the developers simply ran with the original idea and you're still chopping up Cossacks and proletariat dragons all while a a man over a PA system spews vaguely socialist-sounding idioms.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: The Strong Bad Email "2 years" involves Strong Bad making some tongue-in-cheek predictions for the biggest developments in Strong Badia's future, such as the population tripling to "Population: Tire, Bundt Cake Pan, and Coach Z", the Stop Sign and Cinder Block going through a break-up, the construction of "a world-class hole", The Cheat painting an elaborate "FIREWORKS OR DIE!" mural on the Fence, and the Tire winning "the Title". None of these predictions wound up coming true (except possibly Strong Sad becoming "more whiny and annoying", as he has become more sarcastic and less passive over the years).

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: When studying Presidents with Max, Terry has trouble remembering who came after Clinton, which Max describes as "the boring one." Unless something even bigger than The War on Terror occurred between 2001 and the time of Beyond - which, at least as of 2021, it seems to have - boring is not a word to describe George W. Bush's tenure. This is certainly a reference to Al Gore, Clinton's vice president who at the time the episode was made was believed by the writers as likely to succeed Clinton as president and who had a reputation for being perceived as boring. Then again, there was that time Lex Luthor ran for President.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers ran straight into this. The show began airing September 1990, at which time Linka (wind) was from the Soviet Union in the introductory opening. When they finally got around to updating the intro (it took a while), she was from Eastern Europe. note 
  • "Gravity Falls": Lampshaded when Dipper brings a brawler from a Street Fighter-inspired fighting game to life; Rumble Mc Skirmish asks to be taken to the Soviet Union, and Dipper answers that it’s going to be difficult for a number of reasons.
  • The Jetsons: Several jokes were made about the standard work week being nine hours long, based on the popular conception of the time that technology would allow people to work far less. Not only has the exact opposite happened, but cell phones and email have allowed bosses to contact employees 24/7, meaning that the separation between work and leisure has become blurred.
  • The Simpsons:
  • The original last few episodes of South Park's season 20 Story Arc described Hillary Clinton defeating Mr. Garrison in the presidential election, an obvious parallel to her expected win over Donald Trump. When Trump won, the seventh episode had to be entirely rewritten between the time it was announced (1 AM of the day after the election took place) and the premiere of the episode that same day specifically to avert this.
  • The animated series Spiral Zone, produced in 1987 but set in 2007, assumes that the Soviet Union still exists in the early 21st century.
  • The Soviet Union somehow exists in the third season of The Transformers, produced in 1986 and set in 2006.

Alternative Title(s): Dewey Defeats Truman