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Fish out of Temporal Water

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"Greetings. Do kids still say greetings? I haven't been in this dimension for a really long time."
The Author, Gravity Falls
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A Fish out of Water situation that results from characters being placed in an unfamiliar time period. This may be caused by:

  • Time Travel (and quite possibly a Time Travel Escape)
  • Being Trapped in TV Land (if the show they enter is reasonably old or not set in the present)
  • Being a Refugee from TV Land
  • Being a Human Popsicle
  • Being a Rip Van Winkle
  • Being canned
  • Surviving an apocalypse as a Living Relic
  • Traveling to another world whose culture is somehow similar to that in a different time period of their own.
  • Having just been released from prison after a long sentence.
  • Waking up from a Convenient Coma
  • Going into the future without aging through Time Dilation
  • Being away from Earth for a longer time.
  • Living in a poor rural village in a very poor country, without or wit very limited modern media access.
  • Travelling the wildernesses for many years, with no or little contact with settled civilization.
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  • Being kidnapped and held locked up by the kidnappers for many years.

In addition, the story will most likely follow one of these scenarios:

Someone from The Present Day ends up in The Future: In this case, the "fish" will be awed by an incredibly wonderful future, be horrified by a dystopian future, enjoy the benefits of a mostly positive future or be surprised by a future that's strange in an unexpected way. Whichever version it is, the future depicted will inevitably end up being completely inaccurate when the year given actually rolls around.

If the story is a comedy, the time-traveller is likely to discover that Ridiculous Future Inflation has occurred. There will also probably be humorous references to how the celebrities of The Present Day have ended up by then. An amusingly (or horrifyingly) dated one of these appeared in Back to the Future Part II, which had a newspaper in 2015 make reference to "Queen Diana" (on the amusing side, Elizabeth II was still Queen in 2015...and on the horrifying side, Princess Diana died in 1997, eight years after the film came out).

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If the story is not a comedy (or is a Black Comedy) you get Cold Sleep, Cold Future.

Someone from The Present Day ends up in The Past: This past is usually sometime before the "fish" was born, ranging from about twenty years ago to The Middle Ages. Not that their form of English would be the least bit intelligible to modern-day time-travellers, but hey.

The "fish" will probably make little effort to fit in, awing the locals with A Little Something We Call "Rock and Roll", telling them that This Is My Boomstick and possibly becoming a Blithe Spirit. Apparently it's the sworn duty of all time-travelers to show the people of the past how to be hip in The Present Day. If they get anywhere near a military installation, they'll probably be mistaken for a spy. The "fish" may also describe the future in an ironic way or tell people about things which would have seemed impossible or ridiculous in that era:

Doc: Who's President of the United States in 1985?
Marty: Ronald Reagan.
Doc: Ronald Reagan! The actor? Who's vice president, Jerry Lewis?!

If a Trapped in TV Land situation fits this trope, it will fall into this scenario.

Someone from The Future ends up in The Present Day: In this case, the "fish" will be confused by the simplest things, which are, of course, completely obvious to the audience. They will also likely refer to the newest and most advanced technologies as "quaint". Fortunately, they will have brought back lots of Applied Phlebotinum, just in case there was any doubt that they really were from The Future. They may have a flawed view of The Present Day reality influenced by idealizing revisionism of the historians of The Future, sometimes disenchanted that they lied. The traveler, unless downright awesome at all times, will almost inevitably be dangerously Genre Blind and equally likely to nearly get killed almost as much as the next type.

Someone from The Past ends up in The Present Day: The humor will result from the "fish" attempting to relate to The Present Day with only the knowledge of a previous time. Naturally, they will make mistakes and/or be awed by things which the audience has come to take for granted. The Values Dissonance between the two eras may come up. This is now its own subtrope - The Future Is Shocking

If they're from any time after about the midpoint of the Industrial Revolution (when people first began to take for granted that the future will be different from the present), the "surprised by a future that's strange in an unexpected way" trope will probably apply.

If they're from far enough back, their first encounter with a motor vehicle will involve the words "metal demon", or alternately "horseless carriage". They will also be completely unfamiliar with the word "computer" in spite of this being a common retooled word, which once meant someone who does calculations or 'computes' for a living. Not knowing the word "accountant" would be just as unusual.

A character who isn't literally from the past, but somehow deludes himself that he's still living there anyway, is a Disco Dan. A character who neither literally from the past nor holds no delusions that he's living there, but is just more comfortable with the attitudes, mindsets and styles of the past than the present is Born in the Wrong Century

Someone from The Future ends up in The Past: Fairly common Star Trek plot (and cause of some of the best episodes and a couple of the worst). Essentially combines The Present Day to Past and The Future to The Present Day tropes. Thank you for being unusual, Data. Thank goodness he had amnesia.

Someone from The Past ends up in The Future: Also a common Star Trek plot (although not quite as common, and usually done in a more unusual way than straight out time travel. Usually.) Here's looking at you, Sam Clemens.

Someone from The Future ends up in The Future: Can involve either going forward or backwards (but generally backwards). Does your mind hurt yet? Will be generally played for laughs (like somebody complaining that the technology that would be super-advanced to somebody from The Present Day is an antique) or for Continuity-based Fanservice (Trials and Tribble-ations, anyone?)

Someone from The Past ends up in The Past: There's a LOT of Past. Can usually result in one Historical Figure or archtype meeting; befriending or fighting another. Ninjas, Pirates, Napoleon, Hitler, Genghis Khan; etc. Spam with other types for time travel annoyance.

Compare Technologically Blind Elders.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • One series of credit card commercials feature fur-clad barbarian warriors' attempts to navigate the modern world. They're not actually shown time-traveling, but their apparent ignorance of contemporary life is consistent with this trope. Interestingly, they best fit in at a summer camp. A rowing crew is seen competing on a lake. Then a Viking longboat overtakes it at a staggering speed, with the barbarians rowing to a drumbeat.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Shaorin in Mamotte Shugogetten. She spent 400 years in a ring and on her first night out ended up destroying an oven and a TV. The next day she destroys an entire school. Her destroying the TV actually happens differently in each adaptation. In the anime, she attacks it when it shows a criminal threatening the camera with a gun; in the manga, a dog takes down the criminal and Shao takes the TV apart because she wants to reward him with a treat. Amusingly, when her longtime rival Ruuan joins the cast, she accidentally turns on the TV and Tasuke freaks out in anticipation of a repeat, only for the slightly more on-the-ball Ruuan to instantly figure out what's going on.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: Mikuru Asahina is from a future that has passed The Singularity. While she's not allowed to talk about it, she has absolutely no understanding of modern technology more complicated than a teapot. Not only does she consistently fail to make any type of machine operate, but she doesn't even know how boats work, leading Kyon to assume that the future has moved past buoyancy. Yuki Nagato (an alien) notes at one point that terrestrial humans could make a non-physical computer without too much difficulty, and Mikuru awkwardly says she can neither confirm or deny that. Mikuru's friend Tsuruya eventually reveals that she figured out Mikuru's origin on her own; it's pretty obvious if you're paying attention.
  • High School Inari Tamamo-chan!: Tamamo is a fox spirit from the Fushimi Inari shrine in Tokyo who disguises herself as a high school student to learn more about human society. She's fascinated by all sorts of modern conveniences that her fellow students take for granted, like subway trains and bicycles.
  • C.C. from Code Geass, after she loses her memories and reverts to the mentality of a preteen from the Feudal era. In one scene, she accidentally turns on a TV, then freaks out at what she sees... though in her defense, it was Japanese television she was watching.
  • Sai from Hikaru no Go is a humourous example, being the ghost of a master Go player from feudal Japan who was woken up by the titular Hikaru. His bewilderment at television and telephones is played for humour and he laughs hysterically when Hikaru tells him that humans have been on the moon.
  • Atem (Yami Yugi) from Yu-Gi-Oh! was an Egyptian pharaoh 5000 years before the events of the series (3000 years in the original version), which makes him a rather frightening arbiter of justice until Yugi "tames" him. Also happens in Yu-Gi-Oh!: Bonds Beyond Time, in which Yusei ends up in Judai's time, and then both of them end up in Yugi's time.
  • Human Popsicle Faye Valentine of Cowboy Bebop has a brief scene during her spotlight flashback episode, "My Funny Valentine", when she fails to properly identify several basic appliances just after being unfrozen. The trope is invoked again to a more tragic bent near the end of the series, when she regains the memories of her past life and tries to go back home. After almost a century. Yeah, it doesn't go well.
  • This is part of Maia's secret hidden in her forgotten memories in Daphne in the Brilliant Blue.
  • Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, had Lucario belong hundreds of years in the past until he was trapped in the staff by his master Sir Aaron. He's released at the beginning of the movie and is quite understandably confused (the kingdom he lived in is celebrating a festival, though when he last saw it, it was trapped between two armies; a place he remembers as a bedroom is now a museum, his master is dead, and basically nothing is as he remembers it.)
  • Jin tells the story of a brain surgeon in present-day Tokyo who gets sent back to 19th-century Japan, just as the Tokugawa era was ending and the country was beginning to open to foreign influences. He has to adjust to the social codes, but manages to fast-forward medical progress by several decades with the earlier introduction of germ theory and modern surgical methods.
  • Carol Reed from Ouke no Monshou was the victim of a curse put on her, her mentor and an excavation team that was exploring an ancient Egyptian tomb. As a result, she gets thrown in the past and reaches Ancient Egypt...
  • Similarly, Yuri Suzuki from Anatolia Story is thrown into the Hitite Empire as a consequence of the Big Bad trying to use her as a part of a huge curse she plans to cast. Once she sorta gets used to her environment and begins to fall in love with the Prince that said Big Bad wants to eliminate, however, she decides to start fighting back...
  • Amatsuki is all about modern day city kid Tokidoki being trapped in a computer simulation of the Edo Period.
  • Thermae Romae is about an Ancient Roman architect called Lucius who gets magically transported to modern day Japan via a time traveling spa house. Fortunately he can travel back the same way after spending time messing around with modern technology.
  • Angel Beats!: The Heaven's Door manga implies this is the case with Shiina, a feudal era ninja who ended up in an afterlife modeled on a modern highschool.
  • InuYasha:
    • Kagome goes through this when she first visits the Feudal era, but given how much time she ends up spending there, she soon adapts.
    • InuYasha himself also ends up one whenever he visits the modern era, though it's not as touched upon. One such incident had him amazed at the sight of a TV:
    InuYasha: This is the strangest box I've ever seen!
  • Coo from Summer Days with Coo spends 200 years as a fossil underground before being revived in modern day Tokyo. Of course, the fact that he's a Kappa probably causes more problems for him.
  • Tora is this in Ushio and Tora. He was impaled to one spot for five hundred years, so when Ushio accidentally releases him, he's unfamiliar with modern day Japan. In one instance, he ends up getting hit by a truck because he's never seen vehicles.
  • In the josei manga Oiran Chirashi, Haru Hanamori is an Office Lady trapped in the pre-Meiji Yoshiwara after she gets into a street accident. She reinvents herself as the High-Class Call Girl Ayame to survive there.
    • Ayame later finds out that her secret Love Interest, the brothel's hairstylist Shouhei, is in the same situation: in his case, he arrived to Yoshiwara after he fell off a cliff during a vacation trip, years before she fell there herself. Once she finds out, her almost lost hope to return home reignites and they promise to look for a way to come back together.
  • Amakusa 1637 is about six Kobe teens who somehow find themselves Trapped in the Past.... and in the Shimabara of 1637, right before the horrible massacre of the local Japanese Christian colony. As they gather, they decide to work on averting such a tragedy and more or less succeed.
  • In Strike the Blood, Reina bumps into a glass door because in her time, all doors of this type are automatic. Whenever she runs into the present versions of people she knows, she's always shocked because they look so different.
  • A JMSDF Aegis destroyer and its crew is Trapped in the Past in Zipang, and they have to deal with the Values Dissonance between their pacifist and humanist values and the more war-oriented mentality of the time.
  • Zombie Land Saga: The main cast is composed of zombies resurrected from various points in Japanese history. The majority of them come from the late 90's to early 2010's, but Junko and Yugiri stick out by being from the 80's and the 1880's. This later leads to an argument between Junko and Ai (From the late 2000's) when the two's images of idols from their respective eras clash.
  • Dr. Stone has an interesting case where it's both Past -> Future and Future -> Past. The main character Senku is from modern day Japan, and ends up being turned to stone in an incident that basically ended human civilization. He revives 3000 years later and discovers a small village of people descended from those who managed to escape the apocalypse, but they're still a Stone Age-level society.

    Comic Books 
  • Captain America:
    • Part of the reason why Steve Rogers is able to don his costume without irony and be an idealist in the modern world is because he was a young man in World War II who was so eager to fight that he volunteered for experiments when he wasn't physically fit for duty, and was then locked in suspended animation afterwards until the modern era.
    • The Ultimates version of Cap had almost exactly that experience, except that he ended up more traumatized than anyone else. Obviously he got better but still had a scary tendency to beat the crap out of people for violating his personal morals. As opposed to modern heroes who do the exact same thing but have values deemed more palatable because they're modern.
    • Cap gets hit harder and harder with this trope every year. Most superheroes operate on a sliding timescale, and thus are relatively modern, or have their origins updated slightly (Spider-Man being bitten by a genetically modified spider instead of a radioactive one, for example), but Cap always started out in WWII, he's just been asleep longer. But when Cap was first woken up, it was only about 20 years later, and the world, while very different, would have been more or less recognizable to him, or at least he would have been able to see how the seeds had been sown from his time. Now he is over 70 years out of date, and the modern world is all but incomprehensible to him when first thawed out.
  • Exodus of the X-Men is a very similar case to Cap, being an idealist from an earlier period of history sealed away and revived in the modern day. The main difference is that, while Cap was sealed in suspended animation in the 1940s, Exodus was sealed away over 800 years ago, during the Third Crusade. Like the Ultimates incarnation of Cap, this results in a hardcore champion of antiquated ideals. So hardcore, in fact, that he crosses over into Knight Templar villainy.
  • Dan Slott's She-Hulk, where obscure Golden Age hero the Challenger shows up at the offices of Goodman, Lieber, Kutzberg and Holliway after being flung into the present day to see if there's any way he can, like, get his stuff and his house back. Stu Cicero tries to assist him in figuring this out, saying that thankfully Captain America's predicament provides ample precedent to work with. The same series also features Matthew Hawk being brought into the modern day and discovering that his license to practice law expired over a century ago, and the law has changed so much since then that he has difficulty passing the bar exam.
  • The Twelve, twelve random superheroes put in suspended animation by the Nazis in the last days of World War II and discovered sometime in 2007. Virtually all of them have a difficult time adjusting, with the curious exception of the Black Widow.
    • Black Widow was able to roll with it because she's used to it. She's alot Older Than They Look because of her supernatural origin, being in WWII was already something of an adjustment for her. So with that experience under her belt, what she did was go look for a place where she doesn't stand out too much. In her case it meant hanging around at a local goth club where her air of mystery and novelty of being from WWII made her a figure of respect.
  • Goes both ways in Runaways: the team ends up in 1907 New York for a while and when they return to their present they take Klara with them; at this point in the story she is still adjusting to the change.
    • This happens again in the 2017 relaunch as Gert is pulled two years into the future from the point of her death
  • The DCU:
    • In Many Happy Returns, Pre-Crisis Supergirl -Kara Zor-El- accidentally ends up in the Post-Crisis universe, which is more cynical, Darker and Edgier than her own universe. She -an idealistic, naive and immensely powerful teenager- has trouble fitting.
    • During Infinite Crisis, the Post-Crisis version of Supergirl was accidentally sent to the 31st Century and joined the Legion. She was so confused that she believed for a while all of it was just a dream.
    • Zinda Blake, Lady Blackhawk, got catapulted from the 1940s to the present day during a Crisis Crossover. The problem for her is that, even though she is the one from the past, everybody else seems to be stuck in The '50s! She wants to get on with her life, but people keep complaining her skirt is too short and that she belongs in a quiet job instead of gallivanting about in an airplane (Are we sure the rest of the decade didn't come forward with her?). Eventually she tells the stuffed shirts to get stuffed, steals the plane she technically owns anyway, and joins the Birds of Prey.
    • Captain Atom's DCU origin saw him thrown 20 years forward into the present day. It caused him some culture shock, but what really got to him was discovering what had happened to his wife and kids while he'd been gone.
    • The Flash: Barry Allen, during the brief period between Final Crisis and Flashpoint, where he's been resurrected from his death in the 1980s. Comic-Book Time makes the actual amount of time he was away unclear, but he's disturbed and unnerved by all the changes that took place during the Dark Age of Comic Books. At one point during Blackest Night, it's mentioned he's tried using the internet, but couldn't manage it. Unlike most examples, it's not because of the sheer amount of information. It's too slow for him.
  • Booster Gold traveled back from the 25th century to the present, hoping to make a name for himself as a superhero (and make some money in the process).
  • Princess Oona from Donald Duck is a stone age duck who ended up in the present, much to her disgrace.
  • Samaritan from Astro City is a time-traveler who averted a catastrophe, but rewrote his history so that he has no place in the future. Also Infidel, Samaritan's arch nemesis, is a time-lost villain whose own timeline was inadvertently destroyed by Samaritan's actions. Interestingly, neither of them has much trouble adjusting.
  • Ronin depicts a samurai thrust into the far-flung future.
  • During Greg Rucka's run on Wonder Woman, the Gorgons (in a hilarious aversion of Villains Blend in Better) are totally thrown off of their game by modern civilization. Medusa's initial attempt to kill Wonder Woman failed because she was scared off by traffic. Her sister Stheno spends most of her panel time studying the wonderful invention known as "television". They are forced to rely on Circe who is far more familiar with the modern world (having spent years living in it as Donna Milton) for most of the actual scheming.
  • Judo Girl was a stylin' superheroine in the 60's, but after being frozen in time for 40 years she has a hard time dealing in a world where she's not the hippest trip.
  • In Transmetropolitan, "revivals" - Human Popsicle subjects unfrozen and regenerated - have a very hard time. The world has changed so radically in this future (to the point nobody knows the year) that most revivals suffer severe mental illness as soon as they look out the door of the cryogenics building. Not helping is that the people in charge think giving them a bed, clothes, and a handful of cash (which many revivals can't figure out how they're supposed to spend) is doing enough for them.
  • Dodge, the Big Bad of Locke & Key, has some spots of this (having been dead for twenty years) but manages to blend in well regardless. He's mostly just wowed by things like e-mails and cellphones.
  • Project Superpowers does not dwell TOO much on this, but nevertheless, it is about a bunch of World War II superheroes who have been trapped in Pandora's Urn for decades and are released in an alternate version of present day. Black Terror gets this with some of his ideals. Pyroman, on the other hand, quickly adapts and is just amazed at modern TVs.
  • Happens in Witchblade with former wielder of the Witchblade Katarina Godliffe as a result of her living in the Faerie realm for 900 years, for example when someone mentions Nicki Minaj she thinks Nicki Minaj is the Queen of America and she doesn't know how to work a mobile phone.
  • Jonah Hex becomes this after being tossed through time to present-day Gotham City in the New 52 All Star Western. Amongst the shocks he experiences are that colored folk are allowed to be peace officers, and that you cannot walk through city streets with six-guns strapped to your hips.
  • The 2014 Spider-Man 2099 series is the adventures of Miguel O'Hara stranded in modern day New York thanks to the Superior Spider-Man.
  • In the 2006 iteration of The Eternals, one of the minor characters is Grace Darling, a teenager from the 1820s who was "time-frozen" and ended up in the modern day. She takes it surprisingly well, despite being forced to register under the SHRA.
  • The 2014 relaunch of The Amazing Spider-Man has a minor example with Cindy Moon, a girl who was also bitten by the same spider that bit Peter Parker. To protect her from Morlun, she's placed in a special room by Ezekiel Sims and kept there for ten years when Peter accidentally frees her. It's a minor example in that she's been alive the entire time and hasn't been transported forward or back in time, but Technology Marches On and it takes her off-guard.
  • Seven Soldiers of Victory, being a maxi-series with time-travelling villains, has several examples:
    • Sir Ystin comes from a very distant past and ends up in the modern world after falling out of the Sheeda's time-ship. She becomes horribly depressed at the modern world's apparent lack of justice.
    • Klarion Bleak hails from Limbo-Town, a Hidden Elf Village under Manhattan that still believes that the colonial era never ended, but finds his way into the modern world while fleeing from a monster. He is delighted by the modern world.
    • Frankenstein was created in the 19th century, but spent nearly over a century in stasis after an encounter with Melmoth in 1870. He adjusts relatively quickly, having received stray radio transmissions from the outside world thanks to the bolts in his head.

    Fan Works 
  • In Power Girl fic A Force of Four, Zor-L put his daughter in suspended animation before blasting her off into space. Kara woke up many decades later in a strange, unknown and comparatively primitive alien world.
  • In Supergirl fanfic Hellsister Trilogy, Kara Zor-El's boyfriend and member of the 31st century super-team Legion of Super-Heroes Dev-Em doesn't like to go back in time to visit Kara. As far as he is concerned, 21st century Earth is primitive and he can't manage to fit in.
  • Frozen fanfictions involving either alternate universes or other situations where the characters are taken out of their Word of God 1840's timeframe involve this trope — e.g. Unfrozen (Anna, meet smartphone!)
  • The Back to the Future fanfic Homecoming has Jules, Verne, and Clara fit the "past ends up in the present" version. They find the future intimidating, but adapt well thanks to having a father/husband from the present.
  • This trope is employed to surprisingly good effect in the Unexpected Results series, a Trinity Blood fanfic around the premise of a woman from the present getting yanked over 1000 years into the future and landing in the post-Armageddon, vampire-filled Europe in which the series is set. Apart from a couple of relatively minor, and completely justified freak-outs, she copes surprisingly well.
  • The Transformers Prime fanfic Transformers Prime: Time War has Megatron go back into the past to attempt to Set Right What Once Went Wrong (or Make Wrong What Once Went Right, depending on your point of view). So as to prevent his younger self from infusing his spark with Dark Energon. Though he didn't count on Smokescreen, Wheeljack, Knock Out and a few others following him there.
  • The Mass Effect Self-Insert Fic Mass Vexations has a subversion: Author Avatar Art ends up 170 years into the future on the Citadel with no idea how he got there. However, since he knows the rules of where he is thanks to having played the game, he's able to adjust pretty quickly (though not as painlessly as he would have hoped).
  • Progress is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic about Princess Luna attempting to adjust to spending a millennium imprisoned in the moon. To give you an idea of how well it goes, she blows up a microwave trying to make popcorn in the first chapter.
  • In Kitsune On Campus, a Mahou Sensei Negima!/Naruto crossover, Naruto digs himself out from the World Tree...3,500 years after Konoha fell. Being Naruto, he copes it fairly well.
  • In Soul Chess, a Bleach/Code Geass crossover, Lelouch finds himself going back 136 years BEFORE Britannia invades Japan.
  • In the Halo/Mass Effect crossover The Last Spartan, Master Chief is finally found on the Forward Unto Dawn and is promptly thawed out...131 years after the events of Halo 3. Being The Determinator, he gets over the prospect of never seeing anyone from the 26th century again fairly quickly. Not without his reservations of humanity joining The Citadel or being nominated to become a Spectre though.
  • In Mind-Sifter by Shirley S. Maiewski, Kirk goes back in time to the twentieth century. The mind-sifter, mentioned in the Star Trek episode "Errand of Mercy", has rendered him insane. He is periodically lucid, however, and his occasional mentions of things like a turbo-lift puzzle his nurse.
  • Played for tragedy in Fallout: Equestria. After Princess Celestia abdicates the throne of Equestria after the Littlehorn Massacre, her younger sister Luna (who had spent the last thousand years sealed in the moon before her redemption) ascends to the throne. This produces the same effect as William the Conquerer being placed in control of Cold War era Britain: complete and utter ruin.
  • The ongoing Discworld crossover saga Slipping Between Worlds deals with one of those series of magical accidents in time and space which, with the assistance of several Terry Pratchett characters, abducts a British Army patrol from Northern Ireland in the middle 1980's to the city of Ankh-Morpork. The Toms are in no position to complain about it, as they were seconds away from death in a rather large bomb explosion (everyone at home thinks they are dead). While the end-game is to return to Earth, the displaced squaddies have to adapt to life in a new, strange and potentially lethal place, very, very, quickly.
  • This is fairly common in Merlin fics that are sequels in which Arthur (or other long-dead characters for that matter) returns. This trope won't apply if the story has Arthur somehow aware of how things have changed or if he's reincarnated instead, which sidesteps the issue.
  • In Marionettes;
    • This is the case of Teddy and Ace, the two Generation 2 Marionettes. The Stallions had no further use for them, unlike Trixie, and just put them in their stasis pods and left them in the basement for over a decade. When the heroes finally rescue and reactivate them, they're understandably shocked to discover that there are now multiple Alicorns, Nightmare Moon was not only real but returned, and Dragon Eggs Z added two more levels of 'Super Neighyan' among other things.
    • A downplayed example: Gypsy has been held against her will for nearly a decade as well, but being a Seer, she's not missed as much as Ace and Teddy, but still admits the last game system she played was a 'Super Neightendo' and she's missed a lot in that department.
  • Happens to Rainbow Dash in the MLP fanfic Child of Order. A stunt/experiment gone wrong causes Rainbow to find herself transported 450 years into the future, in what is essentially a hypertechnological version of Equestria. Upon arrival, she crashes, damaging two of her legs (and possibly several internal organs, too), although she does receive prosthetics. Understandably, she's horrified by some of the changes her country has undergone, as well as the fact that everyone thinks she's dead.
  • Shard: Aero and the other inhabitants of Totum are residents of the distant past, who find themselves in the present day of Remnant. They manage to adapt relatively well, all things considered.
  • The Havoc Side of the Force manages to put someone from the present into the past and future a the same time. Harry Potter and a Bellatrix possessed Pansy ends up in a galaxy far, far away due to a combination of a time-time turner being used at the same time and place as a portkey activating and a magic ritual being interrupted. While technology is far more advanced, Harry still eventually learns that the universe is far younger than he's used to it being when Anakin points out that if Harry's years are what he says they are, then his math is way off to think the universe is over 14 billion years old.
  • Played for Laughs in the Sonic the Hedgehog oneshot Shuckster. Because Shadow was created 50 years ago, he speaks in outdated 1950s slang.
  • Played with for Lost In Camelot, although mainly for Kenzi than Bo at first, as Bo finds herself surprisingly fond of Camelot despite the displacement; later explained with the revelation that Bo is actually from Camelot, as she was sent into the future when her mother sent her to safety.
  • Bloom Fully On The Tall Wall revolves around Homura being sent into a parallel universe that is also hundreds of years in the future from her own. This is her Despair Event Horizon that leaves her suicidal. Homura doesn't have issue adapting, however, because the world is still near identical to the early 2010s.
  • Karma In Retrograde has Dabi revert to his sixteen-year-old self as Ryouta Todoroki due to the effects of a deaging Quirk. From his perspective, he was effectively thrust five years into the future, where his youngest brother is now attending U.A., Izuku has taken Ryouta's old dorm room, and All Might is retired, shriveled husk while Endeavor has become the number one hero.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Back to the Future films, with the first and third both being examples of "From The Present going into The Past", the third even moreso. The second however, puts our heroes into an example of being "From The Present going into The Future" for the first half, then going back to The Present only to end up in a different timeline altogether for the second half, only to end up going back into being "From The Present ending up in The Past" for the last half of the film.
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home:
    • Kirk and company go to the mid-1980s. There was some serious breakage of the Temporal Prime Directive there, what with McCoy refusing to leave hospital patients to primitive medicine, and Kirk's attempts to explain why Spock wasn't fitting in....
    Kirk: Back in the '60s he was part of the free-speech movement at Berkeley... and I think he did a little too much LDS.
    • This would have been before (on the TOSers timeline) the Temporal Prime Directive existed. Between them and the TNG crew, they made altering the past a B plot.
    • And of course, the famous scene where Scotty attempts to issue voice commands to a Macintosh, attempts to talk into the mouse, and is then told to use the keyboard, which he calls "quaint". And Gillian Taylor, who goes from the present to the future and stays there, though we never hear from her again.
      Scotty: (in-character as a man from Edinburgh) I've come millions of miles -
      McCoy: (sotto voce) Thousands)
      Scotty: Thousands of miles...
    • And also the famous scene where Chekov (the Russian guy) stops a cop to get directions to the 'nuclear wessels'.
  • The 1984 SF farce Sex Mission has two guys volunteer to get frozen for a short time, in a medical experiment; of course, a world war erupts in the meantime and they wake up many decades later, in a dystopian world inhabited only by... no, not by idiots, but by women.
  • The famously weird science-fiction musical (!) Just Imagine, where someone from the present (1930) awakens in the incredible far-off year of 1980.
  • Pleasantville: Two '90s kids get Trapped in TV Land, in a '50s Dom Com of exaggerated squareness.
  • Blast from the Past has Brendan Fraser's character trying to acclimate to life in the '90s after having been kept in an underground bunker his whole life and raised by parents for whom it's still 1962.
  • Idiocracy: Suspended animation into a distant future full of idiots...
  • In Good Bye, Lenin!, a fake East Germany needs to be staged for the protagonist's mother who was Rip Van Winkle for just a few months... during which the Berlin Wall fell.
  • The French movie Hibernatus is about a man who became a Human Popsicle after a shipwreck in 1905.
  • Just Visiting. The instinctive reaction of a French knight and his servant when confronted with an SUV is to kill it. A lot. Also true in the French original: Les Visiteurs.
  • The Christian film Time Changer, is about a nineteenth-century Bible scholar who travels to the present. He gets used to our technology (he'd better; he came in a solar-powered time machine), but is horrified by our perceived rampant immorality. note 
  • The Spirit of '76. Citizens of a future American dystopia attempt to travel back and rediscover the nature of the titular spirit. Instead of 1776, they end up in 1976. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Much of the humor in the Austin Powers films derives from this trope. Interestingly enough, the movies focus almost entirely on the social changes, with the technology changes barely being mentioned at all. Then again, considering he's a James Bond-style spy, the technology change probably isn't as great for him, but he does try to play a CD on a record player, and there is the scene in Goldmember where Austin introduces the Internet to Foxxy. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Demolition Man sees Sylvester Stallone's usual character end up in the future through suspended animation. He's suitably confused by technological advances (such as the "three seashells" that have replaced toilet paper), and horrified by the fact that the world (or at least the city) has been entirely Disneyfied.
  • In Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession, a Soviet comedy movie, a young, aspiring Mad Scientist Shurik builds a time machine, and a superintendent of the house he was living in, Ivan Bunsha, exchanges places with the tsar Ivan the Terrible (the two Ivans are lookalikes). We get two fish out of temporal water, the superintendent who impersonates the tsar, and the tsar who thinks he is in a world of demons. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The final scene of American Gangster shows Frank Lucas stepping out of prison in 1991, in a New York that has changed dramatically since his reign as drug lord. The first thing he hears is gangsta rap blaring from a car rolling down the street.
  • Much of the humor in The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel comes from putting the stuck-in-the-'70s Brady clan in the grunge-era '90s. This example is a comedy inversion of the trope as the Bradys themselves are perfectly at ease acting as if it were still a 70's era sitcom, leaving others around them stunned and confused.
  • In Kate & Leopold a 19th century duke falls through a time portal into 21st century New York. While he's out of place he does adjust quickly and isn't really all that out of place (he'd be seen as a quirky cosplayer or method actor who never breaks character, at worst).
  • The tagline from Trancers says it all. "Meet Jack Deth. He's a Cop From The Future Trapped in the Present, and he's chasing a 23rd century menace in 1985."
  • Variation: Enchanted. The world of Andalasia exists in modern times, but is seemingly in Medieval Stasis, allowing the characters who cross over into our world to be like this.
  • In Time After Time, idealistic socialist H.G. Wells travels to the 20th century in pursuit of time-machine-thief Jack the Ripper, and finds it's not the Utopia he'd expected.
  • In The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey, some medieval villagers wander through a time-rift and find themselves in the present day. Unusual in that, while they are frightened by much of what they see, they never realize what's actually happening and assume it's just what big cities are like.
  • At the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers wakes up in a recovery room in New York, sees through the ruse of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent trying to convince him it's still 1944 and breaks out of the room and runs out of the building. He then realizes he's woken up almost 70 years later (in 2011) as he runs down the street and stands in Times Square. In The Avengers (2012), we see more of this. Steve doesn't know what Pilates is, and all of Tony's pop-culture jokes go over his head. Then Fury mentions that Loki turned two of his best men into his personal flying monkeys.
    Thor: I do not understand—
    Captain America: I do! (beat) I understood that reference.
    • By the time of Captain America: The Winter Soldier Steve has been catching up on pop culture and technology (he's able to recognize a WarGames reference by Natasha) but is still struggling with the fact that most of the people he knew are either dead or very old and that S.H.I.E.L.D., the supposed "good guys", use tactics that people in the 1940s would consider morally repugnant.
  • A mild version occurs in Escape From the Planet of the Apes, when Zira and Cornelius hop a spaceship and get thrown back in time after Earth is destroyed. They're amazed by how advanced human civilization is and perplexed by human things like prize fights, human clothes, wine (a.k.a. "grape juice plus"), not to mention the fact that apes are wild animals kept in zoos.
  • This is the premise of Tim Burton's Dark Shadows starring (of course) Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter, about a Vampire waking up after a 200-years-long sleep and finding himself in the 1970s. See a trailer here.
    • Love at First Bite played with the same concept decades earlier, although Dracula hadn't been sleeping, just holed up in his isolated castle for generations.
  • The German film Das Wunder von Bern ("The Miracle of Berne") is set in 1954, the year Germany won the FIFA world championship the first time. One of the protagonists, Richard Lubanski, returns home from a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp, one of the last Germans to be repatriated. He finds it hard to adjust to the unfamiliar new West German society which is on its way to give up the strict patriarchal and authoritarian ways he had been accustomed to, and in particular he finds himself unable to deal with his elder son, a young rebel with communist leanings. Richard's situation is aggravated by his own war trauma and the fact that his wife and children have of necessity learned to cope without him during the intervening decade and thus resist his attempts to reimpose the pre-war pattern of him as husband, provider and near-absolute head of the family.
  • In the first act of Flight of the Navigator, set on July 4, 1978, twelve-year-old David Freeman walks across the woods to get a friend, slips into a ravine and returns home... only to find it's July 4, 1986. His younger brother is now older than he is. He is taken to a NASA lab where he it is discovered that he was abducted by aliens and taken to their planet 560 light-years away and back in the equivalent of four hours. At the lab he is taken aback by Sarah Jessica Parker's partially purple hair, five different varieties of Coke, and music videos on TV.
  • In Awakenings, the revived catatonics are pleasantly surprised to learn that Prohibition was long ago repealed. They still feel (and act) young despite their advanced ages.
  • The 1986 film Tough Guys had Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster as the last guys to rob a train, back in the 1950s, coping with the different world they were released from prison into a quarter-century later.
  • Harrison a.k.a. Khan averts this in Star Trek: Into Darkness. Despite waking up a few centuries into the future, he seems to have adjusted pretty well. Being genetically enhanced might have something to do with it, and he had been thawed out for significantly longer than his original timeline counterpart had been in his first appearance.
  • The page image comes from the Disney movie, Unidentified Flying Oddball, where an astronaut winds up in the time of King Arthur.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: En Sabah Nur wakes up in 1980s Egypt after being sealed for thousands of years, and he's understandably confused at first. He initially speaks ancient Egyptian, and none of the Arabic-speaking people he bumps into can understand what he says. He quickly overcomes the problem after meeting Storm: he learns every language in the world and the world's history in a matter of seconds by touching a TV screen.
  • Jamal Walker in Black Knight works at a Medieval-themed park. He is cleaning the moat and sees a necklace. Trying to reach it, he falls into the moat and finds himself in Medieval England. It takes him a while to even figure out that he's not in Kansas anymore. He just assumes that the castle is a rival theme park. Then he witnesses a Public Execution and realizes the truth. At the end, it's revealed to be All Just a Dream, when he is resuscitated by paramedics. Some time later, he trips and falls into the moat again... and ends up in the Roman Colosseum about to be eaten by lions.
  • Sleeper has Woody Allen's character cryogenically frozen when he doesn't recover from routine surgery, then revived 200 years later. He unwillingly becomes a key figure in a revolution as someone who has no identifying records.
  • The British comedy Bernard and the Genie features Lenny Henry as Josephus, a former merchant circa 1st Century A.D. (he claims that he met Jesus and was present at the Wedding at Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine), having been cursed into being a genie by an irate customer and sealed in a lamp for 2000 years. While he misses his family, he is amazed by the music, food and technology of the late 20th century. When he first listens to classical music, he declares, "My ears want to mate with this music and bear its children!". When he first tastes ice cream, his response is to rush out of the ice cream parlor and shout to anyone within earshot, "YOU HAVE GOT TO TRY THIS STUFF! IT IS COMPLETELY COLD AND TASTES WHOLLY OF STRAWBERRIES!"
  • A memory-loss version in the Disney Channel Original Movie The Poof Point. A failed Time Travel experiment causes a pair of scientists (a married couple) to regress mentally to their college days. They don't recognize their kids, and when told of what happened, they spend a few minutes examining the wonderful technology of 2001. The father even expresses his disbelief that "silly Billy Gates", whom he tutored in calculus, is partly responsible for that.
  • In 13 Going on 30, Jenna is a 13 year old girl in 1987 who wishes she was 30 already. Her wish is granted when she suddenly wakes up in 2004 in her thirty year old body. Since she has no memories of what happened in between, she gets confused by her new life as an adult. She gets confused by a cellphone and when someone mentions Eminem, she thinks they're talking about M&Ms.
  • The Terminator series has a few. The title robots have no problem adapting to the past given their memory banks allows for quick knowledge of the past (having No Social Skills is another deal). Kyle Reese, on the other hand, was deemed a lunatic by the LAPD. And then comes Terminator Genisys, where Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor travel to 2017 once they realized something in the future created an Alternate Timeline. And in there they find another time traveler in John Connor... who has become a Terminator. Kyle puts it clear that "Time travel makes my head hurt".
  • In Kong: Skull Island, Hank Marlow is a relic of World War II due to being stranded on Skull Island for 28 years and is shocked to learn that the U.S. is now in conflict with the Soviet Union.
  • In Life (1999), after being locked up for a murder he didn't commit, convict Claude Banks thinks about driving off in the Governor's car while driving him around town. He changes his mind and stays put, when he realizes that the world in the 1970s' is very different from the world of the 1930s'.
  • Iceman is a deconstruction of this trope. It asks, completely seriously, how a Neanderthal man frozen for 40,000 years would be able to function in the modern world. The answer is very simple: he wouldn't.

    Literature 
  • The original Rip Van Winkle story is about a guy who literally sleeps through The American Revolution. He awakens twenty years after having originally fallen asleep and heads back to his town, thinking only one night has passed. Confusion ensues.
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and all of its imitators/remakes.
  • The Cross Time Engineer has a similar premise as Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee, but with a 20th century engineer.
  • Looking Backward: 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy, written in 1888 about a man from 1887 who wakes up in 2000. Which is a socialist utopia.
  • William Morris' News from Nowhere, written 1890 as a direct response to Bellamy's book, follows the same structure but shows a very different vision of a socialist future.
  • One of Spider Robinson's early Callahan's Place stories — and one of the few to involve no overt science-fictional elements — was called The Time Traveler. It was about a man who spent the 1960s in a foreign prison and everything that had changed when he got back. For perspective, he had been jailed before Sputnik was launched and was released around the time of Watergate... This was published in science fiction magazines: the author argued that the character had as much claim to being a time traveler as anyone with a time machine. The whole point of the story was that Tom Hauptman time travelled the hard way. One day at a time.
  • Of similar sensibilities to Robinson's story, Dean Mc Laughlin's story "Hawk Among the Sparrows" uses time travel to move both a late 20th century jet fighter and its pilot to WW1 France (the Analog magazine in which it appears showed a VERY cool cover painting of the aircraft). The story notes the parallel between useless assumptions present in the pilot and the more or less useless nature of the advanced fighter to that earlier time (at least as it might pertain to combat).
  • Stephen King does this in The Dark Tower series, using parallel worlds in which time sometimes passes at different rates. Thus a character from the '60s is as shocked as Doc Brown that Reagan is President in the '80s. (But at the finale, she ends up in a universe where Gary Hart is President instead.)
  • There's Umney's Last Case, where a Raymond Chandler-style PI is dumped out of his vague 30s/40s fictional world by his creator and ends up in the real world of the 90s. It's a serious shock to the system.
  • In The Candlestone by Bryan Davis, several Knights of the Round Table have been trapped in the titular gem for centuries. The stories they hear from others have prepared them to some extent for when they are released, but still make mistakes, like when they thought that a giveaway box actually contained goodwill and got day-glo leisure suits from the seventies.
  • Lily from Soon I Will Be Invincible has this as her "official" origin story. But it turns out it's all just part of her Masquerade.
  • In Clarke's 3001: The Final Odyssey, one of the astronauts from 2001: A Space Odyssey has been rescued and revived after floating frozen in space for a thousand years. Now, in Real Life, the year 2001 is in The Past... But in the Odyssey novels' continuity, in 2001 we've got permanent moon bases and manned missions to Jupiter in giant spaceships, making it feel more like The Future to present-day readers (3001 was written in 1997, but still assumed the events of 2001 will have taken place). Really, though, the trope most closely evoked by the frozen astronaut's experience is someone from The Present ending up in the future. So which variety of this trope is being exemplified here? Past to Future, Present to Future, or Future to Future? Only you can decide.
  • Cyril Kornbluth's The Marching Morons. An amoral 20th century con man awakens in the year 7-B-936, offers his Final Solution to the world's population problem, hilarity does not ensue. For the billions he helped send to their deaths, or for him when he is forced to join them.
  • Floe in I Was A Teenage Popsicle by Bev Katz Rosenbaum. Floe was frozen at the time of her death. When she is defrosted ten years later, she finds that her parents are still frozen and she must live with her sister, who was younger than her but is now older than her.
  • A version in the young adult book Running Out of Time by Margaret Haddix. The protagonist believes it is 1840, but she is actually living in a historical village in 1996. The parents volunteered to live in the village, posing as frontier villagers 24/7, with tourists watching them via hidden cameras, but they kept this knowledge secret from their children for the sake of authenticity. When diptheria starts to kill children in the village, the owner won't give them medicine for it (since it didn't exist in 1840), so the main character has to sneak out of the village to get help, and is overwhelmed by the world of 1996. Yes, the publisher of this book did accuse M. Night Shyamalan of stealing ideas for his movie The Village.
  • In John C. Wright's War of the Dreaming, Warlock Azrael de Gray is one of these: person from the past transported to the present day. While he does eventually figure out the modern world, he never quite gets it.
  • In The Seventh Sword trilogy by Dave Duncan, a chemist named Wally Smith dies and is transported to an unfamiliar world where he inhabits the body of that world's greatest swordsman. Throughout the story, his knowledge of our world and lack of knowledge of his new world both get him into and out of trouble.
  • The Book Of Kells by R. A. MacAvoy. Who knew that tracing the pattern of the Cross of Bridget while listening to traditional Irish music could open a portal to another time?
  • 1632. A whole modern town gets sent back to the titular year (and moved from Appalachia to Central Europe). Not having any way to return to the present (and having an exclusive cache of modern technology and information), they decide to get the American Revolution started a hundred and fifty years early.
  • Andrei Belyanin loves this trope and uses it humorously as a basis for several novels, including the Sword with No Name series (a modern-day man is transported into a medieval kingdom filled with magic and evil sorcerers), the Tsar Gorokh's Detective Agency series (a modern-day policeman ends up in a mix of medieval Russia and fairy tales), The Thief of Baghdad series (the author's friend ends up in Ancient Arabia and forms the legend of the Thief of Baghdad), the Professional Werewolf series (a young female college student is recruited by a time-travelling duo to go to different time periods and fight evil), and The Redheaded Knight (a medieval knight ends up in modern-day Russia). The My Wife Is a Witch series also includes several parallel worlds that are in the past (such as the Aztec Empire during its final days). In most of the novels, there is a good deal of anachronism; however, this is deliberate on the author's part, who notes the absurdity of the situation.
  • Played with by the different characters of In the Keep of Time. When the children go to the past, Ian and especially Elinor do not feel like they belong at all, with Elinor constantly complaining of only wanting to get back to the present as soon as possible. Andrew, however, fits in almost right away thanks to some handy archaic clothing and a mercy mission to save the people of Smailholm, befriending Mae, proving himself to the Laird and his men, learning much of history from Cedric, and even witnessing the Battle of Roxburgh. When they all return to the present, it is Ollie, in the mentality of Mae, who is instead completely out of her depth and has to be instructed and helped to become part of that world. Interestingly, she isn't able to fully accept who she is and where she belongs until after another trip where they're all in the wrong time, in the future.
  • The Dragon Knight series by Gordon R. Dickson features graduate student James Eckert, who is teleported back to the middle ages somewhere near the year 1300 and ends up cohabitating a dragon's body for the first book, so he not only has to learn how to adapt to medieval surroundings but also being a large flying target for overzealous knights.
  • The main theme of Return from the Stars. Hal Bregg, the protagonist, ended up returning from his space mission to an Earth 127 years later due to Time Dilation (along with the other astronauts). The Earth government would want them to spend some time adapting in a special educational facility, but Hal decides to try and integrate himself into the future society on his own (mainly because he distrusts the educational facility's propaganda about how wonderful all future achievements are.) It is difficult, due to huge changes in psychology of humans, for one.
  • In Paths Not Taken, characters from the modern Nightside travel back to Arthurian, Roman, and pre-Roman Britain. While John and Suzie don't have much difficulty elbowing their way through the series' everlasting World of Snark, Tommy Oblivion is horrorstruck by how the squalor and slavery of the 6th century contrast with his romanticised pop-culture impression of the period.
    • More broadly, lots of supporting Nightside characters become this trope when they wander out of Timeslips. Julien Advent is the most prominent example, although he's adapted quite well.
  • Several novels and stories of the Noon Universe by the Strugatsky Brothers include astronauts coming back from relativistic trips a century or two after they left and have to adjust to living in a new world with all of their friends and loved ones dead. This is until the discovery that relativistic travel doesn't have to be of the Year Outside, Hour Inside variety, if one foregoes the Special Theory of Relativity, which flips it into the Year Inside, Hour Outside variety.
  • Sylvia Engdahl's Enchantress from the Stars. The author states specifically that the locale is not set in time or space and it is never ever ever ever ever lots and lots of ever ever ever hinted on the truth of if Earth is involved in any way. The Enchantress in the title is a girl from the future in which people have psychic powers and gets a trip on her dad's starship to a more early world in the equivalent of Middle Ages ("dragon" is a mining thing from rebel imperialistic people from the future group.) and the other protagonists are from Mid Ages.
  • In Warrior Cats, Jayfeather is sent back to the time of the Ancients and must adapt to their traditions, while teaching them traditions he learned from the future version of them.
  • In The Centaurion's Empire, a popsicled Roman Centurion does the usual "horseless carriage" remark, only to add, after the canonical explanation, that ok, so it is only an unsurprising "Greek Device", and then to brag about having seen similar gadgets when he was in Alexandria...
  • Thibault, one of the main characters of the Les Conquérants de l'Impossible French novels for young readers, fell into a natural pool of liquid nitrogen just after it is implied that he's the one who fired the shot that killed King Richard Lionheart. He is found and revived in the early 1990s by the other main characters and spends quite some time learning to adapt to the change.
  • In Time Scout uptimers often make fatal mistakes downtime. Downtimers trapped uptime are the most pitiful refugees ever; many go mad.
  • The narrator/protagonist of Letters Back to Ancient China (not only this, but he also arrived on the wrong continent).
  • In John C. Wright's Count To A Trillion, Menelaus after his cure.
  • in Kim Harrison's The Hollows series, a witch named Pierce who lived in the 1800s appears first as a ghost, later gaining a body. He often comes up against the unfamiliar technology as well as more liberal culture of the 21st century, and speaks in an archaic manner.
  • In Isaac Asimov's Pebble in the Sky, Joseph Schwartz, a tailor from contemporary Chicago, is inadvertently and permanently displaced into the future of the author's Galactic Empire novels due to a scientific experiment gone strangely wrong.
    • Asimov's short story The Immortal Bard is about a physics professor bragging to his colleague, an English professor, about inventing a time machine that can bring people into the present from the past. He claims to have tried it with various famous historical figures, but most of them couldn't handle being in such an alien time and asked to be sent back very soon after arriving, except for William Shakespeare, who was happy to stick around for a while. Until one day he angrily demanded to be sent back, ranting about how he had never felt so insulted in his life. Why? He took the English professor's class on the works of Shakespeare... and failed.
  • Mikhail Akhmanov's novel Pharaoh's Guard has a modern-day Russian man end up in the service of Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt.
  • Kir Bulychev's Alice, Girl from the Future series has a book about the titular from the late 21st century who ends up the 80s USSR. In the meantime, an 80s schoolboy trades places with her and finds himself in the future, trying to stop Space Pirates from obtaining a dangerous mind-reading device.
  • Aleksandr Mazin's Barbarians (AKA Roman Eagle) trilogy:
    • It has two Russian cosmonauts somehow end up in the 3rd century AD during the final years of the Roman Empire. One of them gets captured by the barbarians encroaching on Rome, while the other one joins up with the Roman legions. Naturally, they change their names from Gennady Cherepanov and Aleksey Korshunov to Gennadius Paulus and Alaseia the Heavenly Warrior. Somehow, Alaseia/Aleksey ends up the chieftain of the barbarian tribes, while Gennadius/Gennady becomes the Primus Pilus (senior centurion) of the Roman legions. The author's goal appears to be not to change history but to describe the fall of Rome through the eyes of our contemporaries, one of which is determined to keep the Empire from falling (having already lived through one such experience).
    • Mazin's Varyag series has an ex-commando end up in 10th century Kievan Rus' (the original Russian state).
    • His The Morning of Judgment Day novel involves a trained commando being sent to prehistoric past to discover the cause of Twenty Minutes In The Future catastrophes. Despite the training (mostly involving survival and fighting big cats), he's still ill-prepared to deal with the reality of prehistoric Africa. Imagine trying to ride an undomesticated zebra without a saddle or the time to break the animal in while running away from a tribe of murderous cannibals.
  • In Rene Barjauel's The Ice People, two people are cryonically preserved during a time of technologically advanced civilization thousands of years ago, and reawakened during the twentieth century.
  • Worldwar: Homeward Bound by Harry Turtledove has this briefly. After being sent to an alien planet while on ice, the main characters come back to Earth because humanity developed Faster Than Light travel in the meantime. Some of the changes are a result of humanity's interactions with the alien race (such as women going topless), while others are things they would have encountered anyway (like dealing with modern pop culture). The "women going topless" example wasn't that shocking, though, as it's mentioned to be one of the trends of the younger generation in the Colonization series with teenagers (both male and female) wearing only body paint. However, it was shocking that is was so commonplace that it was perfectly acceptable on network TV even without bodypaint. Additionally, two characters go see a cheesy B-movie at a drive-in only to find that it features a very explicit sex scene with the leads (and Matt Damon as a supporting actor).
  • In Dragonriders of Pern, a good number of the dragon-riding occupants of the five Weyrs brought forwards in time by Lessa are this trope, which is a source of drama in quite a few books. In their own time the Weyrs are used to getting whatever they want from the grateful Holds and Halls that they protected from the deadly Thread. Four hundred years later, after an Interval that was twice as long as normal, they arrive from Between times to find that Hold and Hall no longer respects the Weyr as they once did, and are in fact resistant to returning to their previous unquestioning obedience to dragonfolk.
  • Septimus Heap features first Septimus, then Nicko and Snorri in Queen Etheldredda's Time and afterwards Marcellus Pye in Jenna's Time.
  • In Charles Stross's Glasshouse, a group of tormented war veterans in the 27th century have their worst memories erased, then find themselves participating in an alleged experiment to recreate society in the "Dark Ages" of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, sometimes even with their genders switched. Much Hilarity Ensues from the confusion.
  • In Vernor Vinge's Rainbows End, which is all about the rapidly increasing rate of technology change, Robert Gu has been suffering from Alzheimer's since more-or-less the present day, and wasn't much interested in technology then. Twenty Minutes In The Future, when he's cured and given rejuve treatments, he's so far behind the curve on everyday technology that he needs to start attending classes at the local high-school just to begin to have a hope of getting by in normal society.
  • In Poul Anderson's "Time Lag", Elva, rescued at the end and able to return to her home planet, contemplates how alone she will be. Her rescuers quickly tell her that her son survived, that one of their number is her grandson named for her dead husband, and that he has a son of his own. And they are all ready to welcome her home.
  • In Andre Norton's Dread Companion returning to their own place puts them decades later than they left.
  • The Noob novels have a whole continent in such a situation as part of a Fictional Video Game universe.
  • Set in the Warhammer 40,000 verse, Simon Spurrier's novel Lord of the Night involves the Night Lords first captain Zso Sahaal waking from stasis after his ship had finally escaped from Warpspace. While Sahaal had thought he had been trapped for a century or two at most, he realizes he woke up 10,000 years in the future. The trope here is notably Zig-Zagged, in that Sahaal, coming from the era just after the Horus Heresy, finds that culture and technology in the Imperium has backslid, if anything; but the political situation is almost unrecognizable. The Emperor is now considered a deity, most of the figures of note are forgotten or obscured by legend, and the Night Lords Legion has been broken up and hasn't lived up to their father Konrad Curze's example of cruelty for purpose. And the part of the Legion Sahaal had seen has turned to Chaos, which Kurze had despised for it corrupting influence.
  • Astrid in Daniel Gonzalez's time-travel novel Crononautas, she is a 2nd Century Germanic girl traveling in time with three 21st Century scientist. Although the other characters may also fit the description of this trope do to the fact that they get lost in time and can't control where their time machine travels
  • In The Lost Fleet series, Captain John Geary has spent around 100 years as a Human Popsicle after his first and only battle, a Last Stand during the initial stages of the Alliance-Syndic war. He wakes up to find that the war is still on with both sides being too large and powerful to be completely defeated by the other. The concept of fleet tactics is gone due to the heavy attrition of the war (all experts died during the early stages), and Attack! Attack! Attack! is the default tactic of any ship commander with admirals being more politicians than fleet commanders (captains actually vote on what to do next). Saluting has been forgotten (except by the Space Marines, of course). Interestingly, technology hasn't changed that much in 100 years, although weapons are slightly more powerful and ships can now send brief messages during FTL jumps. Additionally, a new Portal Network speeds up fleet movements, although Geary is forced to avoid it. Basically, being an average commander in his own time, "Black Jack" Geary (as he's now known for his Last Stand) is a tactical genius thanks to nobody else knowing how to control an entire fleet in three dimensions with a time lag.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Sea of Glass, the main character is a modern-day Russian man who ends up in the 22nd century. However, the cultural and technological shock is lessened by the previous two books in the series being about his adventures in a galaxy populated by numerous Human Alien races. He mostly adjusts to life in the 22nd century with his wife (a Human Alien princess from planet Tar) but still feels weird when he sees three young people (one of them barely 13) having sex in the woods. When he confronts an older man with this, the man explains that they are all legally considered adults (even the 13-year-old who has passed his self-sufficiency test) and, thus, are granted all possible rights. The older man points out that freedom must not be limited by any one person's morals or it's not freedom at all. So, if three consenting adults want to have wild sex in the woods, they can do that.
  • In Er Ist Wieder Da" ("He's Back" or "Look Who's Back"), none other than Adolf Hitler experiences 2011.
  • John Schettler's series "Kirov" sent a Russian battlecruiser Kirov from year 2020 back to the flames of WW2. The crew struggle to understand what has happened to them, and then make a choice that could be decisive in the outcome of the war and who’s side are they on.
  • In Dora Wilk Series short story Skeleton In The Closet, vampire Antoni escapes his punishment tomb after eighty years of imprisonment, and is completely lost - the street plan of his city is completely different, a whole new political system came and went, along with new laws, culture and architecture, and even blood, with its higher vitamin and sugar count, is different and makes him nauseous.
  • Most of the characters from Aeon Legion: Labyrinth since the Aeon Legion usually recruits MIAs from various points in history. They tend to experience culture shock when seeing Saturn City for the first time where doors vanish in time rather than open and roads have been replaced by glowing lines that fade travelers to their desired location.
  • The Dutch novel Kruistocht in Spijkerbroek (Crusade in Jeans) is about a 20th century boy who is stranded in the year 1212 and joins the Children's Crusade. He adapts relatively well despite some initial difficulties with language, and his 20th-century knowledge helps keep most of the children alive.
  • Happens briefly in Mindwarp when two teenagers from the 1990s go back to 1945, chasing an obscure clue. While they're not surprised by the technology, Ethan uses CPR to save a man's life, and several small details are off-putting. And before that, when the kids all travel forwards to a post-apocalyptic world.

    Music 

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Alley Oop features a time-traveling cave man. By now, he's been time-hopping for so many years that he tends to get over his culture shock of whatever era he's visiting pretty quickly. When his less-experienced cave man friends occasionally accompany him though, they usually have more trouble.
  • Buck Rogers was of course based on a golden age newspaper comic. It also spawned popular film serials, and in more recent times it inspired two separate Tabletop Games from TSR, a TV show and a recent comic book by Dynamite Entertainment.

    Pinball 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • CHIKARA's Sydney Bakabella, the manager of the Devastation Corporation, is this. His promos are filled with references to promoters and wrestlers of the past, though he claims to be working with them or feuding with them today. At the very earliest, he is stuck in the 1980s, though he has referenced guys as far back as Toots Mondt.
  • In the early 80s, Lou Albano debuted a new protege named Mighty Joe Thunder. Mighty Joe was a big man who'd most recently wrestled in the 60s, and watching him work a 60s style match in the 80s was incredibly bizarre. He only stuck around for a month or two.

    Radio 
  • Lincs FM, a station in Lincolnshire, considered by some radio enthusiasts to be stuck in The '90s.
  • Played for laughs with Ed, the security guard in Jack's money vault on The Jack Benny Program. He's depicted as having been stuck down there since the Revolutionary War and completely innocent of current events, let alone such "modern" contraptions as wheelbarrows. At least one episode had Jack bringing him up to the surface, and his resultant future shock.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Rapata, aka Mr. Shark, from Genius: The Transgression. He's a time-travelling 17th-century Maori navigator. His time machine is a canoe. He's actually adapted fairly well to modern and later times, except when he's really overworked and having a bad day (which is most of the time), in which case he skips planning for the century in question and just stomps down the main street of Seattle in a feather cape, brandishing a taiaha cudgel and screaming the name of whoever's pissed him off this time.
  • Most Shadowkinds in Urban Arcana are a special case. They don't exactly come from the past, just from an alternate dimension (the Dungeons & Dragons world) still operating with medieval technology, and where magic is a common fact of life, into the modern world where most people don't believe in magic.
  • The small-press urban fantasy game UnderWorld features this trope as a character type, the Lost.
  • Roboute Guilliman from Warhammer 40,000 was put on ice after being mortally wounded in a duel against Daemon Primarch Fulgrim. Nine thousand years later, the Eldar and Mechanicus collaborate to resurrect Guilliman so he can lead the Imperium against the tide of Chaos. Guilliman is appalled by the theocratic nightmare that is the Imperium, even musing that it would have been better for Horus to have razed it during the Heresy rather than letting it get this far, but puts on a brave face for the rest of humanity.

    Video Games 
  • Rather the point of Chrono Trigger. The characters of the story tend to take this in stride, with a few exceptions.
    • When Crono, Marle, and Lucca end up in 2300 A.D., they are shocked and horrified by the nature of their future.
      Marle: It's like another world...
    • The results of the Ocean Palace Disaster displaces four characters who have no way back, specifically Melchior, Gaspar and Belthasar, the three sages, in addition to the young Janus, who became Magus. Belthasar was the only one to try to make a way back, but he died of old age by the time he finished his time machine. The other three made new lives for themselves when they ended up.
    • After the party defeats Magus and screws up his summoning of Lavos, the resulting time distortions displace Magus again and he ends up in his own past, where he acts as a prophet (using his knowledge of his own time period) to try for another swing at Lavos.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • The protagonist of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Tommy Vercetti, had been sent to prison in 1971 and released in 1986, shortly before the game started. One of the people he does jobs for is a sleazy porn director who's shooting a pornographic parody of Jaws. Tommy wonders to himself why anybody would go see a movie about fish. Tommy's fondness for Hawaiian shirts also leads to a few jokes that his stint in jail has left his fashion sense Two Decades Behind.
    • Likewise, Grand Theft Auto IV features a darker, less comedic application of this trope. Dwayne Forge, who had just been released from prison after several years, is shocked about how the drug business, which had once been a last-resort career track for those desperate to escape the ghetto, is now being presented by pop culture as something that black youth should aspire to making it big in.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • We have Tidus from Final Fantasy X, getting thrown approximately a thousand years into the future, where his home Zanarkland was destroyed by Sin. Turns out that Tidus was a dream created by the fayth and that everything that he knew wasn't real.
    • Vanille and Fang from Final Fantasy XIII were Taken for Granite for 500 years and revived just before the start of the game.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2 has a moment with Noel Kreiss, who comes from a distant future where there is no Cocoon in the sky and he's the last human left alive. He wonders at the sight of Cocoon when he goes five centuries backwards in time, and marvels at the population of New Bodhum (which apparently had more people than he'd EVER known in his lifetime). Seriously, the guy is even wowed that they're able to grow their own vegetables. Yes, his era sucked that much.
  • In Dark Fall II: Lights Out, Benjamin Parker travels into two different future eras and one period of the past. His confusion at seeing what's become of the lighthouse he'd been checking up on could fit this trope, even if he didn't get the chance to interact with people as a social Fish out of Water. Also applies to Malakai, an AI-controlled space probe from the future, that ended up in the distant past from a deep-space teleportation accident. Having gone a little insane, Malakai had since been attempting to manipulate people into helping him return home, including Parker.
  • This is the basis to the whole story in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, as main hero Samanosuke Akechi is sent 500 years forward into modern Paris, just as Jean-Jacques, based on actor Jean Reno, is sent back into Samanosuke's time in a crazy time-travel plot to resurrect Nobunaga. Both of them act properly befuddled by their surroundings, especially Samanosuke.
  • To allow new players to enter the game without knowing the theme, Otherspace uses this trope to allow players to be from any era in human history, then suddenly be sucked into the game world.
  • King Malinus from AdventureQuest returns to life after being dead for centuries only to find his once beautiful kingdom gone. He goes berserk and tries to find someone to blame for its destruction. He refuses to accept your explanation that no one is to blame; that time takes all things. He even attacks you thinking you are responsible. He calms down after you defeat him and then wonders what he should do now. Fortunately, his Moglin assistant (who survived all this time thanks to his healing magic) comforts him by telling Malinus that he has many descendants still alive and that his vanished kingdom acted as the foundation for the present civilization. You throw in your two cents by suggesting that Malinus could be a hero again since Lore will always need more heroes. Malinus takes your words to heart and offers as a reward a spell to summon him in battle.
  • Silas and Verna in The Trail Of Anguish can't say exactly where they're from, from the museum exhibit suggests they're from a lost era.
  • Would you ever believe BlazBlue has this in an extreme form? Continuum Shift: Extend gives us Makoto's story mode, Slight Hope. The aforementioned Makoto Nanaya winds up falling into a dormant Cauldron in the Ikaruga ruins, and gets thrown out back at the events of Calamity Trigger - during the Wheel of Fortune timeline! Makoto has no role in NOL Intelligence or Sector Seven, her best friend Noel does not exist, and the only folks who have any idea what the hell she's going on about are Hazama, Relius, Kokonoe, and Rachel. In the bad ending Relius finds her first and... the rest is best left unsaid. In the good ending, Rachel helps her back to the active timeline.
  • Axl Low from Guilty Gear has the ability to randomly, and unwillingly, travel through time, which leads to him being sent from our time to the post-apocalyptic world of the game. He takes it extremely well, holding his own against the rest of the fighters and even seeming to enjoy himself, but still devotes his time to returning to his girlfriend, Megumi.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Javik from Mass Effect 3 was frozen in cryostasis for 50,000 years and as a result is the last Prothean still alive. As a result, all his memories regarding the races who now rule the galaxy are from when they were little more than cavemen, which he is constantly pointing out... even when he's praising them. His reaction to the Salarians, one of the most smartest races and major powers in the current Cycle is to first express amazement that they managed to evolve at all, before remarking that they used to eat flies and lick their own eyeballs.
    • Downplayed with Commander Shepard in Mass Effect 2, who died and subsequently spent the next two years (and twelve days) being brought back to life. Since it was only two years, it meant that aside from a few new technological advances, there was very little that actually changed in all that time, so they adapted quite quickly.
  • Eirena the Enchantress in Diablo III, who was placed in a 1,500 year long slumber so that she can help the hero fight the forces of Hell.
  • Jean Bison from Sly 2: Band of Thieves is this way by Human Popsicle, being a frontiersman who continued his work in the present day. In his time, it was considered taming the wilderness. In the present, it's ecological warfare.
  • Star Trek Online:
    • The "The 2800" arc uses this to answer the question of what exactly happened to the 2,800 Dominion warships the Prophets made vanish in DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels". Turns out they got time-shifted 35 years into the future and reappear out of nowhere in the middle of an international summit on the Borg problem. It takes a lot of talking before they even accept that this happened, and getting them to go away still entails a big space battle.
    • The Federation temporal contact is a former Bozeman crewman (see the Live-Action TV entry for Star Trek). He is well-adjusted when met (the game takes place some forty years after Bozeman was broken out of the loop), but notes that his experiences is one reason why he works for the Department of Temporal Investigations.
  • Princess Zelda as she appears in the Super Smash Bros. series. Especially in Brawl's adventure mode, when she just stands on Meta-Knight's ship while getting hit by Fox's cruiser.
  • In Akatsuki Blitzkampf, the titular Akatsuki spends 50 years trapped in the Arctic Pole as a Human Popsicle and the action of the game is kickstarted when he wakes up from such a "sleep". He deals with this trope by restarting the mission he was given before being frozen and kicking the asses of anyone who gets in his way...
  • Downplayed in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Venom Snake and the real Big Boss wakes up after a nine year coma in 1984 and is initally dazed. But thanks to Ocelot filling him in on current events, the nature of Diamond Dogs' operations and the fact that Venom doesn't really go to any major hub of pop culture, he manages to get by.
  • Fallout 4:
    • The protagonist is cryogenically frozen on the day the bombs fell, and then thawed out two hundred years After the End. They end up oscillating between this and Cold Sleep, Cold Future depending on the circumstances.
    • There's also Curie, a medical robot and later Robot Girl who spent the last two hundred years by herself running tests on mole rats until you find her. She doesn't quite grasp that civilization actually ended and has a tendency to ask if you're going to report attacking Super Mutants to the police or wonder where all the students are when you explore the burned-out ruins of MIT.
  • Fire Emblem Heroes: The Player Character is established to have been pulled from the modern day real world into the medieval-esque Fire Emblem universe against their will. Some of the other characters ask the player about their homeworld, and find the concepts of "buildings that scrape the sky" and "metallic non-horse-drawn wagons" to be amusing.
  • Judd the cat from Splatoon is one of only two known mammals in a setting that's otherwise primarily populated by sapient non-mammalian sea creatures. As it turns out, this is because Judd was one of the few land animals (if not the only) to survive the catastrophic flooding that wiped out humanity 12,000 years before the start of the game, thanks to his owner sealing him in cyrostasis for 10,000 years.
  • In Yooka-Laylee, Rextro Sixtyfourus is an N64-era character in a modern game. As this is a game where everyone knows they are in a game, much of the jokes involving him are about the characters being confused by him talking about things such as cheat codes which modern games don't have, as well as him being confused by things modern games do, such as online multiplayer. He ends up taking a class to familiarize himself with modern game design, but unfortunately for everyone else it ended up being mostly about microtransactions.
  • The Soul Series takes place in the late 1500s. Most Guest Fighters fit some variant of the trope; Spawn, Heihachi, and Jin come from the modern era and are Present to Past, KOS-MOS, Yoda, Darth Vader, the Apprentice, and 2B come from futuristic worlds and are Future to Past, and Ezio and Kratos come from the early 1500s and somewhere in the 400-300 BC range respectively and are Past to Past.
  • Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don't Dry: Larry somehow ends up 30 years into the future and must now adapt to both tech and culture.

    Visual Novels 
  • It isn't immediately obvious, but the Pale Bride in Analogue: A Hate Story is one of these, played for an extreme in Deliberate Values Dissonance to make a point about feudal Korea.
  • Deliberately avoided in Fate/stay night: the summoning spell that brings the Heroic Spirits into modern times automatically equips them with modern knowledge. Saber aka King Arthur, for instance, is able to drive cars and motorcycles and suspects that she could fly a plane if she tried, due to her "Riding" skill combined with such knowledge. However, she was unfamiliar with what "going on a date" meant and had to have it explained to her. About the only Hero who ever displays real interest in the modern era is Rider aka Iskander aka Alexander the Great in Fate/Zero, who is shown enthusiastically studying modern maps and atlases in preparation for "conquering the world".
    • The Saber of Fate/strange fake, Richard the Lionheart, is a strange case in that he's an impulsive eccentric that simply doesn't care to blend in and instead acts like a British Don Quixote mostly for the fun of it.
  • Steins;Gate naturally includes this: the Internet celebrity/laughingstock John Titor seems to be unaware that the people of @channel are making fun of him and his proclamations of future events and the nature of time travel. John Titor's real self, Amane Suzuha, very poorly tries to use slang in an attempt to fit in, and occasionally says things that betray her nature as a time traveller from a dystopian future: talking about gathering weeds and bugs for dinner, or unironically referring to herself as an accomplished warrior. The anime did this much less subtly.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Used in Pantheocide to subvert both the idea of "states' rights" (he admits it to have been a crock in his time) and the historical fantasy of General Robert E. Lee's military skill compared to 21st-century warfarenote :
    Lee stepped inside and came to attention. "General Petraeus, Sir, I would like to withdraw my request for a combat command. I would still wish to serve my country and my flag in any other way you might find appropriate."
    Petraeus looked up. "Sit down Robert. What made you come to this conclusion?"
    "Sir, for a week, I have been attempting to understand how your army works. With the aid of a very skilled and patient tutor. Sir, I regret to say I have failed completely. I am not fit to command and I must recognize that as a fact. One day, perhaps, but not now."
    • Tragicomically, he at one point considers resigning his commission and enlisting, reasoning that being a basic rifleman couldn't have changed that much...
      • It all works out in the end; Lee eventually ends up running a psychiatric hospital and halfway house for those afflicted with worse culture shock than him.
  • In We Are Our Avatars, Konoe is dazzled by the modern world and its advances- especially by the fact that everything's so shiny.
  • Lord Valentai and Bianca Holloway from The Gungan Council were both from the ancient past. Dominique England came from the future, however.
  • 80's Dan got pulled from 1989 to modern day when Brad Jones opened a bottle of New Coke.
  • Lampshaded and discussed by Paul Twister, regarding being stranded in a fantasy world:
    I have no illusions of raising this place to a 21st century standard of living, or even a 20th century one. I'm no Connecticut Yankee, just a Seattle Geek who happens to know a few things about the way things work. ... For example, I know that spinning a magnet around inside a coil of copper wire produces an electric current. But how strong of a magnet? How big does it have to be, and how fast does it have to spin, before you get anything useful? Does the size of the coil of wire relative to the magnet matter? Does the number of loops in the coil matter? We're rediscovering all these things from first principles.
  • The online Murdoch Mysteries Spin-Off The Murdoch Effect, has Murdoch suffer a blow to the head and wake up in 21st century Toronto, surrounded by the same people and apparently investigating the same kidnapping, only with cellphones. Since he's always had a fascination with technology, he naturally loves the creations of the modern world, while at the same time noting that it seems to have made the people more impatient. He's also baffled that there's a narcotics squad that stops people using medicines like cocaine and heroin.
  • This piece by The Onion parodies the overused clichés associated with this trope.

    Western Animation 
  • Fry in early Futurama; he adapted surprisingly quickly.
    Michelle: You were a loser in the year 2000 and you're a loser in the year 4000.
    Fry: Yeah, but in the year 3000, I had it all; a couple of friends, a low-paying job, a bed in a robot's closet. I envied no man, but you wrecked everything!
    • Speaking of which, Fry's on-again-off-again girlfriend Michelle is a prime example in "Cryonic Woman". She cringes and/or screams at the sight of every weird thing that wasn't in the 20th century, including all the non-human members of the Planet Express crew, and the Professor (once prompted) and Amy (when she says she's from Mars).
    • The reason Fry adapted quickly was more of a production thing: they were finding it hard to create more storylines about Fry adapting to the future, so they turned him into a straight, somewhat dim-witted (Depending on the Writer) man in an insane future.
    • In one episode Fry walks in on a support group for cryonically frozen people. He doesn't really care about anything but the buffet, unlike the guy who lived in a time when man was ruled by sentient carrots, the executive from the 1980s who missed out on the implosion of "merger fever", and the caveman who found his wife in a museum.
  • Captain Caveman.
    • Cavey seemed either reasonably used to most of the 20th century items he encountered (despite a propensity toward trying to eat half of it), or possessed his own Stone Age equivalents of modern tech. In one episode, Cavey made use of one of his club's functions, a firefly-powered "world's first x-ray" beam. Post-"Teen Angels" appearances of Cavey might Handwave this by showing him as having lived during the Flintstones' 20th century-like Stone Age.
  • South Park lampshaded this in "Prehistoric Ice Man" by having a Human Popsicle who was only frozen for three years... but the town treated it as if this were a big thing.
  • This is the entire premise of Samurai Jack: Jack has been sent to the future and is trying to get back home to feudal Japan. A great deal of the comedy in the series is dependent on Jack's lack of understanding in the future. Most notably, "Jack" was a slang three hipsters called him on the streets and he thought that was what they seriously thought his name was.
  • A significant part of the premise of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward was seeing them adapt to living 100 years in the future. Everyone but Raphael adjusted fairly quickly while Raph found the conveniences of the future to be inconvenient, i.e. being attacked by appliances while trying to read the holographic newspaper. "I hate the future!"
  • Ivan Dobsky was convicted as the Meatsafe Murderer in the early 70s, only he never done it, he only said he done it so they would take his willy out of the light socket, but two nice men named D 'n A said he never done it, and they told everyone. So Ivan is released from prison, but he finds himself unable to cope with the changes that have occurred in society during the 20-odd years of his imprisonment. He laments this fact and says he wants to go back to prison, but people tell him he can only go back to prison if he does something truly horrible. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Kiva from Megas XLR is a soldier from the future fighting an alien war. She intended to send the Megas robot back to a turning point in the losing war, but accidentally sends it back to the 20th century. When she finds it in the early 21st century, she discovers the time controls are broken beyond repair.
  • Mummies Alive! used and abused this trope with gay abandon. The mummies, after awakening over 3,000 years after their deaths, obviously have a lot of adjusting to do, but this adjustment period seemed to take an extremely long time, with jokes about the Mummies encountering modern technology making up at least 80% of every single episode.
  • Teen Titans:
    • This happens to Cyborg, when he gets spontaneously warped to 3000 BC and dumped right in the middle of a war between a tribe of barbarians (led by the surprisingly bad-ass Sarasim) and some vaguely demonic creatures. He helps them fight off the monsters several times, and eventually discovers the one responsible for their appearance — Krall, an unscrupulous warrior from the tribe who asked a witch to give him glory, and instead received monsters he couldn't defeat. He asked her for the strength to beat them, and she brought Cyborg from the present. A transformed Krall and his minions lay siege to the warriors' home, and Krall manages to get the upper hand against Sarasim. Before Cyborg can save her, he's pulled back though a time warp to the present by the other Titans. At first he's distraught, but later Raven shows him a book detailing the history of Sarasim's tribe, which shows that they managed to defeat Krall's army, and Sarasim survived.
    • Another episode has Starfire sent twenty years into a Bad Future, when three of her four compatriots are retired.
  • Gargoyles had this in the first episode with the main protagonists having slept for a thousand years, but they adapt surprisingly quickly, particularly Hudson's love of T.V. and Lexington's genius for learning technology in general. Later on, Griff of the London Clan of gargoyles is pulled forward fifty years.
  • The Alternate History episode of The Boondocks, in which Martin Luther King Jr. didn't die when he was shot, but remained in a coma for 30 years, uses this trope to critique aspects of both contemporary African-American culture and the mainstream news media.
  • The major driving plot of Avatar: The Last Airbender is how Aang cryogenically froze himself for 100 years, waking up to find that a war with the Fire Nation started not long after he was frozen, wiped out his entire civilization, and has gone on since then. Sometimes, the show thematically explores the consequences of how things change with time — in an early episode, he meets his only known surviving friend, who is now much older than he is; and about mid-series, he finds what used to be an oasis in the desert to be completely dried up. This is most notably explored, however, whenever the Air Temples are visited — Aang is shown reminiscing about how things are so different in his old homes, especially since for him it wasn't even a year ago that they were full of life.
  • Transformers Animated's take on Cyclonus only appears for a few minutes in the actual show, but the Allspark Almanac II lets us know that he's from the future and is just biding his time until Megatron becomes Galvatron.
  • Played for laughs in The Simpsons when elderly Jasper freezes himself in the Kwik-E-Mart freezer so that he can be alive to see the future. Apu takes advantage of the situation by changing his store to the 'Freak-E-Mart' with frozen Jasper as an attraction for tourists. This doesn't last very long when the freezer fails and Jasper wakes up and sees the changes in the store, actually thinking he is in the distant future.
    Jasper: Moon pie... what a time to be alive.
  • The Smurfs in both Season 9 of the cartoon show and in the live-action movie.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Princess Luna was sealed in the moon for a thousand years. As such, her dialogue is peppered with Flowery Elizabethan English (often at high volume), she uses the Royal "We", and she is obsessed with archaic long-abandoned court protocol. The word "fun" is less than 1000 years old; as such, she's unfamiliar with it.
  • In the Codename: Kids Next Door episode Operation: C.A.K.E.D.-F.I.V.E., a Kids Next Door operative from the 1800s (aptly titled Numbuh 19th Century) is thawed out after being frozen in an ice cream explosion for over a hundred years. Numbuh 19th Century is understandably confused by the modern world, and his archaic views, especially his male chauvinism, do not make him popular with the operatives of the present... particularly Numbuh 86.
  • Billy of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy dug up Fred Flintstone in his backyard. And took him to show-and-tell, where he snapped from being 30,000 years out of place and went on a rampage.
  • Wanda Pierce from Bojack Horseman is an owl who recently woke up from a 30-year coma in 2015, and has to adjust to the technology of the modern world. She also dresses in 80s-style clothes.
  • An almost literal example in Spongebob Squarepants where one episode has Squidward accidentally get frozen and awaken in the distant future.
  • The Author of the Journals, Ford Pines, from Gravity Falls. He's been trapped in another dimension since 1982, and it shows. He talks about 8-tracks and floppy disks in an Establishing Character Moment.
  • Caleb from Witch gets transferred from a medieval fantasy-like world to early 2000s America. He fits in pretty well but doesn't understand certain aspects of modern culture or modern technology.
  • Futura in Filmation's Ghostbusters, a ghostbuster from the future. Her role seems to be the Audience Surrogate for the ghostbusters to do exposition about thing in the present that she doesn't understand.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): In "The Time Wheel", Orko accidentally pulls King Tamusk, a former ruler of Eternia, to the present. Tamusk is at first unaware that he's time traveled and thinks he was simply teleported away from his kingdom. He's disoriented and frightened when he sees several machines, but thinks that the machines and changes to the surroundings are the result of magic. He then mistakes King Randor for a usurper and attempts to fight him to regain his kingdom. Tamusk is also upset because in his time, everything is decided by battle and war and Eternia has become much more peaceful. He-Man manages to stop him and convince him that he's in the future and to be returned home. It's implied this is a Stable Time Loop, as the history books mention Tamusk used to be cruel and warlike, until he suddenly changed to a fair and just ruler after seeing how Randor and He-Man do things.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: The 2018 reboot special revolves around Rocko and his friends returning to O-Town after 20 years in space and finding their home completely changed. Heffer and Filburt embrace new aspects of modern life like food trucks and smartphones; Rocko, not so much.
    Rocko: The 21st century is a very dangerous century.

    Real Life 
  • A Polish man named Jan Grzebski fell into a coma in 1988 and woke up from it in 2007, by which time Communism had long since collapsed. Of the experience, he said "When I went into a coma there was only tea and vinegar in the shops, meat was rationed and huge petrol queues were everywhere. Now I see people on the streets with cell phones and there are so many goods in the shops it makes my head spin."
  • Charles Robert Jenkins, an American soldier, defected to North Korea in 1965 and remained cut off from the Western world. He made it out in 2004, finding that the U.S. had changed a bit since the 1960s.
  • Just about all of North Korea itself has become this thanks to its isolationism. Apart from a small handful of spots, mostly where a facade was erected to feign modernity and advancement, the country is very firmly entrenched in the 1950s from a cultural and technological perspective. Those who make it out or the rare tourist who makes it in face some serious shock at just how alien life on the inside and outside is.
    • On the flip side, North Koreans who defect to South Korea or even China are essentially travelling forward in time by 50 or 60 years, and are often bewildered by a half-century's worth of new technology and changing customs. South Korea even has a school, Hanawon, where North Korean refugees are taught how to function in South Korean society.
  • Some Japanese soldiers were stranded on some remote Pacific islands during WWII, and unaware of the fact that their side had lost until they were discovered in the '60s and '70s. For example, Lt. Hiroo Onoda continued fighting WWII for 30 years on the island of Lubang. He wrote a book entitled No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War. He was reportedly very disturbed by what he saw in changing traditional values.
  • A man fled to the jungle during the 1969 "Football War" between El Salvador and Honduras. He finally "surrendered" to a group of lumberjacks he mistook for enemy soldiers more than 30 years later, telling them he was tired of running away. The saddest part is that the actual war lasted a total of four days.
  • Prisoners who serve long jail sentences (over 15 years, usually) sometimes find themselves confounded by modern technology and culture when they leave prison. For example, there was an ex-convict who tried to steal a car shortly after getting out, having missed the invention and application of car alarms. Sadly, there are more than a few cases of released prisoners committing new crimes specifically to get caught (or outright killing themselves) as a result of this. They simply cannot cope, and there are no social services to help them adjust. Explored in The Shawshank Redemption (story and film) with Brooks and, to a lesser extent, with Red.
  • Similar to prisoners, expatriates can find themselves out of step with the culture of their home countries when they return if they've been away for a long time. Fortunately, the internet makes it easier to keep up with what's going on back home these days.


Alternative Title(s): Connecticut Yankee Plot

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