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Fan of the Past

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This indicates that, in the 24th century, the traditional practice of using 400 year-old comparisons is still in vogue, like when you're stuck in traffic on the freeway, and you say, "Man, this is just like Vasco de Gama trying to go around the Cape of Good Hope!"

Shows set in the future will often have many things we have never imagined, but writers can't resist throwing in contemporary references, or at least references the viewers will understand. How do they accomplish this? Have one of the characters be a self-proclaimed expert of the past, e.g. 20th-century Earth. (Or, for newer shows, 21st-century Earth.)

A common variation (usually played for comedy) is to have the so-called "expert" be completely wrong about some major aspect of his subject-matter. This works particularly well when the subject is contemporary society, something that everybody living today knows about.

Contrast with Disco Dan, except these people know they are not actually in the past. Compare with Born in the Wrong Century, Fantastic Anthropologist. See also The Genie Knows Jack Nicholson.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Galaxy Express 999 episode 28: Tetsuro, a poor kid who's previously shown no signs of knowing any history, meets a man who is trying to grow his beard long and points out that a long time ago, Earth used to have the Guinness Book of World Records.
  • This is the major motivation of the Big Bad of Moldiver. Professor Machinegal is already rich, famous and respected in his civilian identity; his heists aim to steal "antique" technology, and his favorite part of history is the 1980s (when the series was made).
  • Clain from Fractale is obsessed with antiques from before the creation of the Fractale System.
  • In Cowboy Bebop, much of the information about the past has been destroyed from a gate accident. Still, they have one of these in Doohan from "Wild Horses". He likes to maintain older models of starships and also has in his possession the space shuttle Columbia.
  • Lutecia from Lyrical Nanoha seems to have a love for ancient history, considering that her personal library contains books with titles like "Politics and Military of Medieval Mid" and "Culture and History of Ancient Magic".

    Audio Plays 
  • Case 63: Peter claims to be a time traveler from 2062. Dr Knight is a psychiatrist in 2022 who's treating him. Peter makes contemporary pop culture references, and this strikes Dr Knight as anachronistic, feeding her skepticism that he's not actually a time traveler. He says he's just The Movie Buff. He ends up being a true time traveler, but the fact that his evidence for being so is dubious is intentional on the author's part — it means that when she believes him, it's a leap of faith.
    Peter: Doctor, no, there's no machine. Let's leave the DeLorean out of the equation.
    Dr Knight: You don't remember historical events that could convince me, but you do remember a small detail—
    Peter: Of course I— It's a pop culture— Come on. No, no, just because I like going to the movies, just because I saw The Godfather and The Man from Earth, that doesn't change the fact that I'm a time traveler. It just makes me a time traveling movie buff.

    Comic Books 
  • Non-futuristic example: In the 1980s, when Roy Thomas was in charge of all the Earth-2 books for DC Comics (most of which were set in the Golden Age), several of the characters in Infinity, Inc., the book set in present day, were Fans of the Past. This came in handy when Infinity, Inc. crossed over with All-Star Squadron, which was set in the 1940s.
  • Booster Gold majored in the Age of Superheros in College.
  • One subsection of the alien race called the Skrulls in Marvel Comics fell in love with the American style of the 1920s and 30s. Their planet was redecorated to follow this style, and even the Skrulls (shapeshifters that they are) stay in human form most of the time. When the Fantastic Four first encountered them, this was the cause of some truly epic cognitive dissonance.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes:
    • The premise for the third continuity: the entire team is like this. It also pops up in other continuities, in particular for most versions of Cosmic Boy.
    • Earlier continuities had the Legion's financier, R. J. Brande, inspired by 20th century heroes like Superboy (whether or not he actually existed). Of course, in some versions of the story, he actually lived in the 20th century.
    • And the post-Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! comics sometimes cast Cosmic Boy as that team's Fan of the Past (and of Superboy).
  • A dark version of this trope occurred in the Rogue Trooper story "Fort Neuro". Rogue arrived at the titular fort, hoping to find shelter and some time to let the biochips calm down. However, the stress of holding off a Nort siege for years coupled with isolation due to their sanity slipping, causing the four garrisons to degenerate into parodies of Napoleonic France, a 50s British seaside resort, a group of disco freaks, and wannabe supermodels. Rogue and the robots eventually managed to knock some sense into them.
  • Alan Moore's Tomorrow Stories features the First American and U.S.Angel facing off against Dozier D. Daze and his retro-ray. Daze is obsessed with long-gone pop culture and memorabilia to the point that it's all that gets him hot and bothered. That's right, the man is a latent retrosexual. The First American and U.S.Angel grow increasingly uncomfortable with him turning them into denizens of eras past.

    Fan Works 
  • Rocketship Voyager. Much of Earth's history and culture has been destroyed by three world wars, ideologically-motivated Book Burnings, and a general apathy towards the past in a technological future. Over the objections of Spacefleet psychotechs, Captain Janeway tries to preserve some of it by decorating the officer's wardroom with artefacts and books she has salvaged from the ruins of European cities. She's surprised when Chakotay quotes The Divine Comedy to her, which he read in the Arkive of a colony ship he was traveling on. Tom Paris has some of this too, dressing as a Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist while on space station leave.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Titan A.E., one of the main characters and several minor ones either collect relics of the destroyed Earth, or continue Earth traditions, like football (soccer to Americans).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Demolition Man, the most popular form of music is 20th-century advertising jingles. Also, Lenina Huxley had such a large interest in the era that her superior referred to it as an addiction. This does, however, prove useful to her, such as when she shows she can fight, having learned to do so from Jackie Chan films.
  • I, Robot: Del Spooner has a passion for 20th and 21st century topics, such as for "vintage tennis shoes," making for some crashingly unsubtle Product Placement.
  • Non-futuristic example: Doc Brown from Back to the Future was always a fan of the Old West and sometimes felt that he was born in the wrong era; in the third film, he gets to live his fantasy. He nearly gets killed in the process.
  • Mission to Mars had a scene early on where a character drove up in a muscle car and was mocked by his electric-car owning colleagues for his antiquated tastes. He defends the internal combustion engine with the air of a modern-day vinyl fan talking to iPod owners.
  • Star Trek films:
    • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home:
      • Kirk receives a pair of "antique" eyeglasses as a birthday present (the explanation is he's allergic to some drug that 23rd-century people use to treat bad vision — funny in hindsight since before the end of the 20th century, we were using laser microsurgery to fix eye problems).
      • Sulu is suddenly revealed to be a masterful expert on 20th century aircraft to handwave how he could so expertly pilot a 20th century aircraft .
      • Averted when the 20th-century marine biologist correctly points out that there's at least one thing — humpback whales — which no-one in Kirk's time will be an expert on.
    • There's a Running Gag in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country of characters spouting quotes and idioms from various sources, all of which are of course from our own era or earlier. Of note are Chang's constant Shakespeare quotes, and Spock's "Only Nixon could go to China."
    • Star Trek: First Contact: Zefram Cochrane loves early rock-and-roll. Somewhat justified, as his time period is shortly After the End.
    • An early scene in Star Trek shows a young Kirk joyriding in a 20th-century convertible, which his stepfather had apparently refurbished, while listening to The Beastie Boys. According to a deleted scene, the car belonged to his father George before his untimely death.
    • Star Trek Beyond: While Kirk is established as a fan of classic cars and the Beastie Boys, Scotty thinks such music is "a little old-fashioned" (implying there's newer music more to his liking) and McCoy and Spock refer to it as "classical music". Kirk's tastes are further justified in that his stepfather was a collector and dealer in antique cars (and probably other antiques) so he grew up with a firsthand acquaintance of such. It also explains why of the crew, only Kirk could ride the old motorcycle found aboard the Franklin well enough to create the diversion needed for the rescue mission.
  • In Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, Aram Fingal is a big fan of old pop culture, most notably Casablanca. This is what gets him into so much trouble.
  • In the movie version of Michael Crichton's Timeline, most of the main characters are historians of the medieval era. One of them is a lifelong enthusiast who's trained himself in period-era blacksmithing and swordplay. Early on in the film, he describes the life of a knight and concludes with the mildly narmy "The past is where it's at!"

  • Bethany Lindquist of the Antares novels is a historian, and therefore makes frequent references to Earth history. In fact, finding historical parallels to contemporary situations is supposed to be her job.
  • The Honor Harrington novels have entire planets whose entire populations are utterly dedicated to recreating some late-1700s-to-early-1800s Earth society. Talk about The Theme Park Version, these are theme park cultures, without the tourist industry to justify it. This is what happens when a planetary autocrat decides he's the reincarnation of Frederick the Great. Other than the crazy, he was apparently quite a good ruler - he took his role model seriously. Harrington herself is also a big fan of 20th century naval warfare, and the Havenites Kevin Usher and Victor Cachat are fans of 20th century movies.
    • The ancient and honorable art of Grayson swordfighting is ostensibly based on The Seven Samurai - the founder of the colony was a fan. Naturally, they've filled in some of the blanks over the centuries. And baseball is the traditional Grayson team sport (to the point where they refuse to upgrade it to the metric system used everywhere else in the galaxy).
  • In the novel The Shadow Runners, the characters are in Australia, now a prison area in 2176. Rich young scions thrown into Australia are pretty much running the joint, while on loads and loads of drugs. They call themselves "Parliament" and are running around in waistcoats, calling themselves Lord Whatever, and pretending it's Victorian Britain.
  • Isaac Asimov tends to subvert this by having most of Earth's history long lost in the past in most of his novels. Characters have been known to lump unicorns, orcs and tigers into the same fantasy grouping. Nonetheless, there are a few odd examples of fairly accurate history that pops up in unexpected places.
    • In The Robots of Dawn there are a references to some of the robot stories (most notably The Bicentennial Man), although they're tossed aside as myths.
    • In The Caves of Steel, this is called Medievalism, and takes various forms. At one point, protagonist Baley muses that most Earthmen are Medievalists in one form or another. However, some take it much further than others, and Medievalist riots form a major aspect of the plot.
    • In The Naked Sun there is a Solarian "sociologist" who is incredibly backwards, not even recognizing that mathematics can be used in sociology, who nonetheless knows about Greek history, despite the fact that he would never think of reading Earth sociological researches.
    • Foundation and Earth: Pelorat, a historian, wishes to find the mythical origin planet, Earth, and ends up following absurd myths about a radioactive planet with a massive moon, in a solar system with a planet with a massive ring system, and so on. The bizarre part is that, despite continually going on about how much these things get exaggerated and altered over the years, the actual source material they're working from seems more or less correct, even when it shouldn't be, and they still don't believe it.
    • "The Evitable Conflict": Stephen Byerley has a fireplace in his study room, which is called a medieval curiosity, meaning it is unusual for people in this story to have fireplaces. The narration explains how the high-tech fireplace works, to demonstrate how far in the future the story is set.
    • "The Feeling of Power": Technician Aub enjoys looking at how the computers work, and he's figured out how they do math, reinventing a skill humans had long ago lost. When his little hobby is turned into part of the war against Deneb, he decides to kill himself.
    • "The Fun They Had": Tommy certainly seems quite knowledgeable about present-day education, despite treating Margie poorly for her lack of information.
    • "Someday": Paul gets Niccolo excited about learning reading and writing on the basis of having a secret code that other people don't know.
    • The End of Eternity: the main character, Harlan, is fascinated by pre-Eternity (read: modern-ish) history. His collection of 20th-century magazines and his ability to read "ancient" English are plot points.
  • Michael Moorcock's Dancers At The End Of Time: Jherek Carnelian is his society's foremost expert on the 19th century, which depresses a time traveler he encounters. He believes that "19th century" is one language with several dialects, though he does, at least, sort of grasp the concept of trains.
  • The protagonist of I Am Legend, particularly with regards to music. Since the story was set twenty years in the future, it prevents any inaccurate predictions, since the protagonist is the only person left.
  • In The Night Mayor, the protagonists are brought into events because they have extensive knowledge of 1940s films: Susan studied film history in preparation for her career as a VR designer, while Tom just liked the films and then apparently went into VR design as a way of putting it to use. In addition, there are frequent references to songs from Susan's extensive music collection, which doesn't seem to include anything from after the book's year of publication.
  • Acts as a Chekhov's Gun in the Council Wars series. The re-enactors who're so very interested in the medieval era? Rachel's father, whom she mocks for his unusually intense interest (though not to his face)? They keep the world from sliding into complete barbarism, and have the tools - and skills - needed to keep the refugees from starving and succumbing to the elements, and later the skills needed to keep The Dragon from making things even worse. For extra points, Rachel's father? He's actually Charles the Great - a legendary hero who brought peace to Anarchia for ten years and then vanished, using the name of his brother, Edmund, as an alias.
  • The obsession with Earth's past is something of a big deal for the people in the titular world of Tranquilium. It doesn't help that Palladia is basically the Russian Empire On Some Islands!!!, while Merryland, the other big power, is a mix of Victorian Britain and 19th century America.
  • Time Scout: History tourism is a thing. Time guides are basically incredibly competent tour guides who also have Ph.D.s. Time scouts are all Indiana Jones.
  • Professor Bernice Summerfield from the Doctor Who New Adventures and Bernice Summerfield novels is an archaeologist from the future whose specialist historical period is the 20th century. She'll occasionally get things entertainingly wrong, such as the time she things Star Trek: The Next Generation is a documentary.
  • In Ready Player One, pop culture of The '80s comes back into popularity in the 2040s, after a game designer wills his vast fortune to anyone who can solve an intricate puzzle revolving around all the things he was interested in when he was growing up back then. People who try to solve the puzzle wind up becoming fans of the past by necessity.
  • In Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, the invention of the titular Chronoscope allows the still-recovering humanity to see what things were really like in the past without pop culture muddying the waters. Many fashions of the past centuries become popular. The historians who use machine tend to fit the trope, although each in his or her own way. One meteorologist was so obsessed with finding Atlantis that he succeeded (although not in the way most people think).
  • In This Immortal, the Vegans turn out to be fascinated with human history, as they've become bored with themselves. Especially high caste Vegans delight in puzzling over how the great pyramids were built or who actually wrote Shakespeare's plays. Cort Myshtigo claims to be on Earth for this very reason — to write a travel book about Earth's historical sites.
  • Time and Again applies Mental Time Travel using 20th-century explorers with a love for the Victorian era.
  • In The Ship Who... "Dylanizing" or singing in the style of Bob Dylan is considered a powerful persuasive technique that Helva, the titular Ship Who Sang, has studied up on. Shakespeare is also still popular and performed, including to aliens. Another brainship takes an interest in the past but is less contemporary than Helva was at the time of writing - she wrly quotes "Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"
  • Janitors Of The Post Apocalypse takes place After the End, when humans are Technically Living Zombies whose descendents are abducted and uplifted by aliens, who've gone over enough human media to teach "cured humans" a language they just call Human and translate some literature - nothing religious and no overly speculative fiction - into. Mops is a fan of Pride and Prejudice.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Seamus Harper in Andromeda; he often references culture from our time that confuses everyone else, as he is the only main character from Earth. Examples include comic book references, a desire to learn Gaelic, and surfing (although that seems to still be popular all across the galaxy.)
  • Michael Garibaldi of Babylon 5 is a fan of some aspects of the 20th century, such as its 20th century cartoons and motorcycles. He notably has a large portrait of Daffy Duck over his bed. He also occasionally carries a .38 "slugthrower" which was a gift from his Boston cop grandma.
  • Blake's 7:
    • In the episode "Bounty", former President Sarkoff is a student of 'natural history', which has come to mean the study of things that no longer exist. Thus he has 20th Century artefacts mounted on his wall like heirlooms, including gasmasks and cutlery. He proudly shows off his 'typical residence' of that era, actually a 19th century folly.
    • In "Rumours of Death", President Servalan has a reproduction of a stately home of England built as her palace. This is regarded as Conspicuous Consumption as a modern Domed City could be built for half the cost.
  • Half of the jokes in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century were based on misinterpreting items from the 20th Century.
  • The Cleaner (UK): Hosea (the influencer from the titular episode ) is a big fan of the 1980s and has merchandise of it all around his room.
  • Doctor Who can't avoid this.
    • In "The Reign of Terror", we are informed by Susan, the Doctor's granddaughter, that he is a French Revolution enthusiast. It doesn't really come up again, although the very first episode had already suggested that the Doctor and Susan had been there.
    • In "The End of the World", for example, they go 5 billion years into the future to witness the party that is thrown over the destruction of the planet Earth. And despite the fact that pure-strain humans are on the verge of extinction (the rest having cross-bred with any number of aliens over the eons), somehow the artifacts of remembrance from Earth brought by "the last human" tend to have a suspiciously highly recognizability by someone from the 20th and 21st century (the viewers): the last ostrich egg, an animal that only evolved into existence a few million years ago as of today but apparently is also only recently extinct in 5 billion years, and a 20th century jukebox which plays 20th century music that the last human fallaciously refers to as an "IPod". No artifacts or mentions of technology or animals 10 thousand or 10 million or a billion years in our future, just cultural references designed to be funny to the viewers.
    • While the Doctor often expresses fondness for various historical artists and figures, he seems to hold a particular passion for 20th and early 21st century British society. Most of the new series Doctors dress in a style aligning roughly with that time period, and the Twelfth Doctor takes a particular interest in rock music and Ray-Ban-style sunglasses.
  • In Legends of Tomorrow, Rip Hunter is a huge fan of The Wild West, to the point of always wearing a duster and carrying a revolver-shaped blaster. He even names his son Jonas after his best friend from that era — Jonah Hex. The Legends themselves also qualify in some cases, although they're more into the Hollywood versions of those eras. For example, Stein loves the simplicity of The '50s, only for others to point out that it's only a nice time if you're a straight white male and not such a nice time for anyone else. Like Rip, Ray also likes the Old West, but his personal favorite is Medieval England, having grown up on King Arthur's myths.
  • Initially averted in Red Dwarf, where the only references Lister made were originally to futuristic sports (like players for various Zero-G Football teams) and television shows (Mugs Murphy), but eventually just gave up and made jokes referencing pop-culture concepts people actually understood. From the beginning though, Rimmer has been a fan of the Napoleonic Age of War. Although a lot of the jokes already feel rather dated 10-20 years on.
  • Space: Above and Beyond has a Marine who developed an interest in 20th century rock & roll after studying it in school. The lessons apparently didn't stick, however; he tells his squad that "Blitzkrieg Bop" was recorded by Pink Floyd.
  • This trope seems to be standard issue on Star Trek series:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • Marla McGivers from "Space Seed". Completely justified in McGivers' case, because she is a historian by profession. Kirk even remarks sardonically upon the discovery of Khan's ship, the Botany Bay, that this will finally give her something to do.
      • The same episode has Khan make an oblique reference to Paradise Lost, which Kirk understands immediately, and which Scotty is slightly embarrassed not to.
      • During Sam Cogley's closing arguments in "Court Martial", he refers to fundamental declarations of rights made in the Magna Carta, the US Constitution, a Declaration of Rights from the Martian Colonies, and the Statutes of Alpha III. This isn't necessarily unusual for a lawyer — the law is supposed to have a long memory and be able to refer to very old precedents — but Cogley is a fan of past in his personal life too, with a vast book collection that he concedes is redundant in an age when he could call up any of their contents on a computer screen instantly, but he just likes the physical books better.
      • References are periodically made to Colonel Green (a dictator from the 21st century) and World War III, as well as the fact that mankind avoided an all-out nuclear war.
      • One episode of TOS establishes that Sulu collects 20th century fire-arms. He also shows knowledge of fencing, and while hallucinating from a contagious G-Rated Drug called a seeming opponent "Cardinal Richelieu", so clearly The Three Musketeers (or European history, as the fictional Richelieu was based on a real person) was an influence as well.
      • The entire episode "The Conscience of the King" is based on the premise that William Shakespeare's plays will still be performed 300 years in the future (which, considering that they've lasted this long already, seems reasonable).
      • The second pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before" features the newly mentally enhanced Gary Mitchell reading the writings of Spinoza.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • Picard enjoys a 1930s detective holodeck program.
      • Data and LaForge with their Sherlock Holmes programs. The first Holmes episode also reveals that Geordi builds model ships, as in sailboats.
      • When Worf, Alexander, and Troi go into a holodeck program simulating a town in the "Wild West" of the 1800s, Troi says that she's always been a fan of the (American) Ancient West as her father used to tell her stories about it as a little girl. Her resulting genre savviness comes in handy.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • Sisko loves baseball.
      • Odo and O'Brien both enjoy twentieth-century detective novels.
      • Dr. Bashir and Chief O'Brien were re-fighting the Alamo and playing fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain. The station's counselor started to get concerned after a while—other than the battle of Britain, all of their scenarios were unwinnable last stands.
      • Bashir's personal favorite holodeck games revolve around James Bond-style secret agent adventures in the 1960's.
    • Star Trek: Voyager: Tom Paris likes things that are slightly older than modern day (like Captain Proton!, based on Pulp Magazines and serials like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon). And fixing cars. When he time travels to the present day (at the time The '90s), he finds his knowledge of the past doesn't quite make the cut.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise : Trip was an old movie buff, and T'Pol knew way more than made sense about her great-grandmother's trip to Earth in the 20th century.
    • Star Trek: Picard: Cristóbal Rios listens to oldies songs from the mid-20th century, such as when he's reading a book in "The End Is the Beginning" and "Absolute Candor." In "Broken Pieces", a vinyl record of Billie Holiday's "Solitude" is playing in his cabin while he reminisces about his time on the ibn Majid.
    • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds:
      • Captain Pike loves the film. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and has an old-fashioned saddle for his horse.
      • When they crossover from Star Trek: Lower Decks Boimler and Mariner geek out over SNW tech and the presence of their heroes Pike, Uhura, Una and Spock, though they are surprised to find their heroes are just people. Mariner does observe that young Spock is very hot.
  • On The Orville, Ed has a doll of Kermit the Frog on his desk and he watches 20th Century musicals.

  • The TISM song "Garbage" is a Take That! against the tendency of teenagers to be this for music.
    Now I know that we should separate our garbage
    The environment will give us thanks
    It's going too far when teenagers recycle
    Their parents' adolescent angst.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Smoky Mountain Wrestling was more or less based off this trope, basically one last shot at a territory promotion just as all the territories died off. The promotion's slogan was "Wrestling the way it used to be, and the way you like it!"
  • Little Jeanne collects tapes from wrestling's past, and like many an old timey wrestler, dislikes jujitsu (though never mentioned Brazilian specifically)
  • Steve Corino proclaims himself the king of old school, although unlike most he despises classical southern wrestling, which he sees as the roots for the rise of garbage wrestlingnote . The contributions of the old Canadian territories to garbage wrestling are ignored when he goes on these tangents, naturally.
  • Old School Oliver John is a fan of old school wrestling, obviously. Specifically, the methodically drawn out flair seen more often in the territorial days.
  • The Mississippi Queen Christie Ricci, which is probably a result of her mentor Leilani Kai's influence.
  • The New Age Of Old School, Damian Lavaye.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Taken to ridiculous levels in Traveller: The New Era (set in the 57th century, referencing 20th century history and popular culture left, right and centre), but justified in that Word of God has it that what we're reading is a Cultural Translation of the 57th-century stuff that's really being referenced.
  • A BattleTech book of rumors hung out a lampshade on this trope, asking why there were so many references to things 1000 years in the past, and so few from just 200-300 years ago.
  • In Paranoia, the Romantics are an entire secret society of Fans of the Past. Of course, this being Paranoia, their historical records are badly mixed up.
  • Considered to be a niche market by the crosstime tourist company Time Tours, Ltd., in the world of GURPS Infinite Worlds. "The past, for better or worse, is a specialty interest; the market for The Way Things Should Have Been is limitless."
  • Malcador the Sigillite from the backstory of Warhammer 40,000 certainly had it in him — his most prized possessions were Mona Liza and Sunflowers, he sponsored archaeologists and often referred to Shakespeare's works.

    Video Games 
  • In Civilization: Beyond Earth, it is one of the ideological cornerstones of the Purity affinity's philosophy. Followers of this affinity hold the remembrance of the past sacred, especially emphasizing all the sacrifices that had to be endured for the chance of humanity's prosperity after the horrors and losses following the Great Mistake. They believe that their fundamental responsibility is to preserve the classical human physiology and culture of Old Earth, which, together with the collective memory of human history, form an untainted, "pure" image of humankind. The philosophies of other affinities cause righteous indignation among the Purists, largely due to the willingness of the former to abandon the past in the name of false (from Purity's point of view) ideals and to adapt humanity in accordance with them. The hybrid affinity of Purity-Harmony also touches on this topic, but unlike the uncompromising Purity, history is not a core element of their ideology. Rather, they are inspired by some of its images, mainly from Classical Mythology and the Antiquity era, due to their general obsession with perfectionism and idealism.
  • The Fallout series is one big deconstruction of mid-20th century society. In this alternate universe, America refused to move on to the 1970's for over a century, then was kept in 1950's stasis for over 200 years for reasons pertaining to the total collapse of society. What we see of past achievements of science from the atomic wastelands are disturbingly fascist and deluded.
  • Arthur, a strong Artificial Intelligence whose systems are the basis of the futuristic "biochip" computers in The Journeyman Project is described by his creator as having an unfortunate fixation with twentieth century pop culture.
  • Inverted in Metal Gear Solid 3, which takes place in the 1960s, where there are several dialogs with Paramedic in which she comments on the "latest" movies, inventions, and discoveries. Among her claims are that VHS will take off and that scientists have found out that smoking is likely to cause lung cancer. Which Naked Snake seriously doubts.
    Major Zero: 007 is the biggest thing to come out of England since the Mayflower. I wouldn't be surprised if they made 20 more of those movies.
  • Sergeant Johnson in Halo is a big fan of music from the late-20th and early-21st centuries, to the annoyance and chagrin of the soldiers under his command whenever he plays this "old stuff" before missions.
  • In Whispers of a Machine, one of the murder victims, Maja Strand, the curator of the local museum in Nordsund, turns out to have been something of a nerd regarding all things pre-Collapse. She is eventually revealed to have been a fanatical member of the infamous terrorist organisation know as "the Conduit" that wishes to bring back the AIs that cause the Collapse to begin with.

    Web Comics 
  • Memnon Vanderbeam of Starslip has a particular predilection for the early 21st century: some of the exhibits in the Fuseli include a copy of World of Warcraft and the only remaining print of the Catwoman movie.
  • Tigerlilly Jones from Skin Horse is basically walking personification of The '70s, displaying nearly every seventies trope at some point or another, but is disqualified from being a Disco Dan because she was, technically speaking, born in the 1980s. Of course, she is also certified insane.
  • In Stand Still, Stay Silent, Danes are noted for their obsession with Old World lore in a Fictional Document overviewing the nations of the Known World. When the main cast runs into a book written in Chinese, the Danish member is the only one who even has the word "Mandarin" in his vocabulary (well technically, the Norwegian one did too, but she was thinking of the fruit).
  • Half-Man: Dr Hayes likes 20th century cinema, Major Koda doesn't.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Futurama, Philip J. Fry is from the 20th century — so, quite naturally, he'll make a lot of reference to the time period he came from.
    • He also subverts this on occasion: due to being an idiot, he often gets things from his own century wrong (to the point that he fails a 20th century history class). One of the most blatant examples being his total lack of reaction to the idea of traveling in a cruise spaceship called the Titanic.
    • The 20th century is more than once referred to as "the stupid ages" by the cast. In one scene, Fry questions their criticism of the 20th century claiming it gave the world the light bulb and the steam engine amongst other inventions. It is duly pointed out to him that those inventions all came from the 19th century.
    • Subverted further in "I Dated a Robot" when Fry refers to his time as "boring".
      Professor Farnsworth: Boring? Wasn't that the time when they cracked the human genome, and boy bands roamed the Earth?
  • Finn, one of the Dark Hand's Mooks from Jackie Chan Adventures, dresses like it's still the 1970s. At one point he actually travels through time TO the '70s. When it's time to go home he has to be dragged away screaming that he doesn't want to leave.
  • Bouncing Boy in the Legion of Super Heroes cartoon was a fan of 20th-century movies. He even lets the cast watch a parody of Alien.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "Second Contact", when Ensign Barnes tells Ensign Rutherford that she's a fan of a "classical band called The Monkees" (a group that is over 400 years old from their perspective), he responds, "Let's just say I'm a believer." "I'm a Believer" is one of the Monkees' biggest hits.
  • Played with in Time Squad the characters are a million years ahead of us with Larry and Tuddrussel often making references to 20th century pop culture and enjoying soap operas from the 1980's. With Otto it's only natural for him to reference it seeing that he was from the turn of the 21st century. But he's really more interested in the past far from his own, because he's a history wiz.

    Real Life 
  • Lots of people could, if they wanted to, list off enough facts about a past decade or century to fit this trope. Fans of classical music or literature in particular would seem to fit.
  • This is at least part of the reason Steampunk and Alternate History exist.
  • It's a lot less common for a person to give references on a daily basis to popular culture from what's roughly a three decade period several centuries in the past. "You sing like an early Florence Foster Jenkins." In music, this is because the phonograph was invented in 1877, and popular music recordings really only became commercially viable after World War I; no-one living today knows how singers before then sounded.
  • Cinephiles. A lot of hardcore film fans will typically have a favorite decade of films that actually shapes their opinions on what they look for in movies.
  • Retrocomputing. Huge communities of fans keep maintaining and developing new hardware and software for their Apple IIs, Commodores, MSXs, CoCos, TI-99/4As etc etc etc like there's no tomorrow. Or, rather, like there's no today.
  • Retrogamers are a similar breed, except many of them tend to be more open toward current trends and systems. They just happen to be more fond of Atari 2600 or NES, for example, than whoever's fighting the current Console Wars.
  • Historical reenactors, such as Civil War reenactors and the SCA, tend to fall into this category. Some moreso than others.
  • Any architectural of design movement with "revival" or "neo" in the name is probably inspired by this trope.
  • The mid to late 2010s saw a massive spike in the price of some older cars, particularly 90s Japanese sports cars and basically anything with a Porsche badge. All those kids that spent the 90s and 00s playing racing video games and watching The Fast and the Furious movies? Now a lot of them are grown up and can afford the car they had a poster of on their bedroom wall.