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Hilarious in Hindsight

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"Everything is funnier in retrospect, funnier and prettier and cooler. You can laugh at anything from far enough away."

"Funny Aneurysm" Moment is when events, either external or within a series, turn a joke into something disturbing, upsetting, or at the very least really uncomfortable. Harsher in Hindsight is when a tragic and serious event is even worse later.

This is the opposite. It's when a later event, such as a current event or something that happened in the series, is funnier than it originally was. This is what your literature teacher would call "Life imitating Art". There's a decent list in this College Humor feature and another one in this feature.note 


Note this is not merely something that seemingly predicts something else. For example, black US presidents in fictions are not this trope. A black US president in fiction who has an Embarrassing Middle Name would be.

Also note that some examples that might not seem funny to one, might seem funny to another. It depends on attitudes towards Black Comedy and Gallows Humor.

Additionally, "hilarious" doesn't just mean "BLAH-HAH-HAH! gut-busting," either. If you go by the word's original definition, it can mean "amusing" or "charming" as well. So any belated lighthearted coincidence would fit under this trope.

Almost all examples of Have a Gay Old Time are an example of this trope. Some examples of Actor Allusion and/or Role Association are.

Compare Fridge Brilliance, Heartwarming in Hindsight. Also compare Narm if this happens immediately.


Contrast "Funny Aneurysm" Moment (when something that was once amusing or awesome is now tinged with tragedy thanks to a Real Life or in-story tragedy), Dude, Not Funny! (when something is considered in bad taste to mock or even mention, no matter what the circumstance), Hilarious in Flashback (where a glimpse of the characters' past contrasts amusingly with their established personalities and situation), Harsher in Hindsight (when something dramatic or depressing is now worse due to a Real Life or in-story tragedy), Unintentional Period Piece (in the cases where a work that was current when made almost only makes jokes that no current reader can understand), Two Decades Behind (when the writer thought it was current but wasn't), "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny (where something that was funny at the time has since become cliche) and If It Was Funny the First Time... (in cases where a Running Gag is overused or a joke is only funny once). A "dated reference" is when a single joke (or only a handful) in a series is no longer funny because nobody alive remembers why it was funny, but is Not a Trope as it is mostly covered by Unintentional Period Piece and Two Decades Behind.


Note: Examples can only be added once the event that makes it hilarious has ended. In particular, anything related to a widespread disease, hoarding of any kind, or something similar to social distancing doesn't inherently mean that there's a connection to the Coronavirus pandemic. Please don't add examples of this nature.

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    Asian Animation 
  • In episode 4 of Happy Heroes, Careless S. gets his weapon working properly for once and jokes that he should call himself "Careful S." from now on. Fast forward to the Season 1 finale, a fifth Superman who actually is named Careful S. joins the team. (Although, Careful S. makes an Early-Bird Cameo in the Season 1 intro, so this could be a case of foreshadowing.)

  • In 1947, Isamu Noguchi created a model for a sculpture called "Sculpture to be seen from Mars", which depicted a giant face staring up at the sky. In 1978, Viking 1 captured an image of a mountain which resembled a face on Mars.

  • There was a Tolkien/Harry Potter joke in Russian from 2005, which said "I already know what will happen in book 6: The Invisibility Cloak will turn out to be the One Cloak". Well... off by one book.
  • The following Soviet joke on the city now called St. Petersburg has aged interestingly...
    Official: Where were you born?
    Old man: St. Petersburg.
    Official: Where did you grow up?
    Old man: Petrograd.
    Official: Where do you live?
    Old man: Leningrad.
    Official: (menacingly) Where would you like to live?
    Old man: St. Petersburg.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Amazons of Classical Mythology. In the myths, they were just about the only civilization at the time where women oppressed men instead of the other way around. What part of the world do you think they lived in? Ukraine and Russia (according to Herodotus, that is).
  • Norse Mythology:
    • Loki is a jotun, or troll. During the age of the Internet, the term "troll" took on a whole new meaning: a person who sows chaos and discord (sometimes For Great Justice, sometimes For the Lulz), which is Loki's raison d'être. But wait, it gets better: trolls are known for "flaming" others, and guess what color Loki's hair is? Here's a hint: one of his kennings is "Flame-Hair." Bow before your god, all ye Internet trolls.
    • One of Thor's kennings is "Troll-Basher." What do administrators use to get rid of pesky trolls? The banhammer, of course!
  • In Mayan Mythology, Quetzalcoatl is portrayed as a "feathered serpent", which is also what his name means in the Nahuatl language. Millennia later, paleontologists discovered that theropod dinosaurs, among the largest reptiles that ever lived, were feathered.
  • "Satan", despite popular belief, was actually a title, meaning many things including "the prosecutor". In 1935, a Disney short titled Pluto's Judgement Day came out, in which Satan himself literally is the prosecutor of a trial in Hell.

  • In the early '90s, Data East produced pinball machines based on two of the biggest names in science fiction, Star Trek and Star Wars. Stern would later make their own tables also based on these two franchises.

  • Discussed in Fat, French and Fabulous: the notably inbred Charles II of Spain's royal monogram looks a hell of a lot like the modern international bio hazard sign.
  • The We Hate Movies podcast:
    • While ripping on The Matrix Revolutions, the guys say that Neo suddenly being able to control robots in the real world is as stupid as if Luke were to suddenly teleport in Return of the Jedi. Two years later, in The Last Jedi, Luke suddenly astral projects to another planet, a move that drew a mixed reaction from audiences.
    • In their The Day After Tomorrow episode, the gang imagines that old sitcoms will be brought back to life in the post-disaster world. One of those shows mentioned to be revived is Series/Roseanne, which was revived in 2018.
  • In Episode 48 of The Scathing Atheist, the hosts talked about an Adventist Pastor named Ryan Bell, who decided to "Try Atheism for a Year", with them being Tongue-in-cheek about his sincerity. About a year and a half later, he is a notable figure in the atheist movement, and is interviewed in the show.
    Heath: It's like a white person trying out being black for a year by dancing better.

  • The poem For Heidi with Blue Hair by Fleur Adcock seems uncomfortable now considering it mentions "twittering", which to today's audiences, has different connotations than it did at the time of publishing...
  • Longfellow's The Jewish Cemetery at Newport which discusses the plight of the Jews, ends with the stanza "But ah! what once has been shall be no more! / The groaning earth in travail and in pain / Brings forth its races, but does not restore, / And the dead nations never rise again." He did not foresee the creation of the modern State of Israel.
  • In the short and little-known Shel Silverstein poem "Description", one character insist that God is black, another that God is female. It becomes this after "I Met God, She's Black became a popular slogan for T-shirts.

    Puppet Shows 

  • An episode of Saturday Night Fry (1988) included a sketch where Stephen Fry went on a night out in London. At one point he goes to the theatre: "I spent a thoroughly enjoyable time watching Simon Gray's The Common Pursuit. Half way through the interval, I realised I was supposed to be performing in it." This was eight years before he abandoned the West End production of Simon Gray's Cell Mates, something he's made jokes about since.
    • In the same radio show, he also said the word "iPhone". That's right. Stephen Fry claimed the iPhone.. in 1998. See here.
  • Early on in this podcast of a 4e D&D game, one of the players goes off on a tangent about a "Rat King", an urban legend about a monster rat that is formed when the population of rats is so dense that they fuse together. Guess what they run into later on in that session...
  • In the early 2000's, BBC Radio DJ's Mark Radcliffe and Marc 'Lard' Riley used to broadcast sketches featuring two naff club singers with the names Skel Nonch and Erk Dre who specialised in 'Cumbrian Tight-throated Singing'. One of the items of clothing the duo sported, a symbol of their terminal out-of-touch naffness, were trilby hats...
  • In August 2001, an episode of Old Harry's Game featured Satan showing Professor the truth behind his image of England. This included a cricket match which turned out to be fixed by the bookies. It was rebroadcast in September 2010, while this scandal about fixed cricket matches was still in the news.
  • In the first series of You'll Have Had Your Tea: The Doings of Hamish and Dougal, in 2002, reference is made to the "Red Hot Chili Pipers. When first broadcast, it was a simple pun on Red Hot Chili Peppers. Repeated later, it sounds like a reference to the actual Red Hot Chilli Pipers, who formed in 2004.
  • The fact that Martin Crieff of Cabin Pressure skipped reading the majority of literature in favor of Principles of Climatology for Pilots is much funnier now that his actor Benedict Cumberbatch is playing Sherlock Holmes.
  • Paul Hayes used to present mid-mornings on 96.6 TFM around mid-2003, and the station slogan was "The Best Variety of Hits". He presented 10am - 1pm weekdays and the occasional weekend show. Now that it's been announced he's joining Radio Aire, this is a lot funnier considering a decade later he'd be presenting on their sister station in Leeds with the exact same slogan. However, it's not the first time he's worked at Radio Aire; he covered Late 'n' Live Sunday - Thursday 10am - 1pm for a few weeks, but that's ignored by radio "geeks" and airbrushed from his CV by them.
  • In Liverpool, Merseyside there is Beacon Lane, Severn Street, Wye Street — which were around well before Beacon Radio was established in 1976, Severn Sound in 1980 and Wyvern FM in 1982. Coincidentally, all three stations could be heard in the same area in the West Midlands — and they were exactly Beacon, Severn and Wyvern (named from Wye and Severn rivers). So it looks like street-planners predicted commercial radio brand names...

  • We Are Our Avatars:
    • Cyber Amy gave out gifts to Dai's characters. Meant to be tunics for the guys, and dresses for the girls. Too bad it was mistyped. What's so funny, though? Daisuke might as well be The Chick of the group, and is the only male member at the time.
    • Osaka told Hilarity that he needed to become a god (you can guess the circumstances). Much, much later, Hilarity is the God of Order.
  • Shiningknight accidentally predicted 3 of the plots Marvel and DC did with the plots he GMed in We Are Our Adventuring Avatars.
    • The Avengers movie which ended similarly to his first ever marvel plot which ended just a bit before that movie came out.
    • The marvel plot with the evil Earth 3 waoaa characters attempted conquering of Earth (with that infamous exploding lupo ending) came just before DC's Forever Evil event where the crime syndicate faced similar hardship
    • Now Marvel's Secret Wars where all the various realities of the marvel universe were mashed together into one battle world which is vaguely similar to what he did to Marvel and DC.
  • The Play-by-Post Massively Multiplayer Crossover Play By Post Game Campus Life had an arc where at the stories climax, the mane cast from Friendship Is Magic used the Elements of Harmony to purify the negative energy in the Chaos Emeralds, and then they, along with several others, use them to go into Super Modes to fight the current Big Bad with. All this takes place before the season finale of season four, which would give the mane cast canon Super Modes to fight the current big bad with.

  • Paleontology:
    • In 1989 palaeontologists chose the name Revueltosaurus for a new species of dinosaur discovered in Revuelto Creek, New Mexico. Years later, it was determined that the partial skeleton used to describe this species was actually a mix of bones from different animals and that the most of them probably belonged to a basal crocodilian, not a dinosaur. It just happens that "revuelto" is Spanish for "messed up".
    • Apatosaurus' name means "deceptive lizard", which turned out to be very fitting, as its fossils have deceived their very discoverer as well as the general public. Paleontologist O. C. Marsh famously named the second Apatosaurus specimen he discovered Brontosaurus, and outfitted it with a fossil skull that in reality belonged to a different dinosaur. It continued to deceive people for near a century, and the two names (or rather three, the third being the little-known Elosaurus) and skulls in fact still do confuse many people who grew up knowing it as Brontosaurus.
    • Allosaurus, whose name can be translated as "other lizard", was the top-dog predatory dinosaur in media before being dethroned by — who else? — Tyrannosaurus rex, leading it to be seen as basically "that other lizard".
    • this blog points out that the first depiction of the Spinosaurus is actually one of its most accurate
    • In the beginning of the 20th century, when paleontologists were firm in their belief that dinosaurs and birds could not possibly be related, they tried to explain bird evolution by coming up with a purely hypothetical, four-winged gliding reptile-bird transition, named "Tetrapteryx" or "Proavis". In 2000, Microraptor is discovered, which was a real four-winged gliding reptile. But unlike what those early scientists expected, it was a dinosaur, which reaffirmed the modern belief that birds descended from dinosaurs.
    • Likewise, cheap plastic figures of Pteranodon (the famous crested pterosaur) often erroneously gave the animal teeth, much to the annoyance of paleontologists. In 2003, a newly discovered crested pterosaur is published, and this one really did have teeth — this trope is even lampshaded in its name: Ludodactylus, meaning roughly "toy finger".
    • Jurassic Park's Chaos Effect toyline featured a mutant hybrid between Velociraptor and Archaeopteryx called "Velociraptoryx", and was essentially a raptor with bird feathers (and the wing finger of a pterosaur, somehow). Raptors with feathers, what a crazy idea! Except that today we know that all raptor dinosaurs were covered head-to-tail in a feathery plumage, and Archaeopteryx has also been reclassified as a raptor in recent years.
  • The asteroid Antiope was discovered in 1866, and named after one of two characters in Classical Mythology with that name (there's some dispute about which one). Fast forward to 2000, when it was discovered that Antiope is in fact a double asteroid (two pretty equally sized bodies orbiting a point between them), and it takes on another dimension.
  • "Wisdom teeth" were originally named because they appeared later in life e.g. when someone is "wiser." Modern science suggests that we have wisdom teeth because over the course of our evolution, our growing brains caused our jaws to shrink. We have wisdom teeth because of our species' growing "wisdom."
  • In a quote condemning Nicholas Copernicus, Martin Luther described heliocentrism as being akin to "somebody moving in a carriage or ship [claiming] that he was sitting still and at rest while the earth and the trees walked and moved". Not only is heliocentrism the dominant astronomical theory today, but a few centuries after the quote was made, Einstein published the Special Theory of Relativity that explained motion as being relative to the observer, meaning, yes, someone in a vehicle can indeed describe themselves as being still while the worlds around them move with justification.
  • Similarly, the 16th century comedy Morosophus by Dutch playwright Wilhelm Gnapheus stars a Know-Nothing Know-It-All Astrologer who is rumoured to have a large book sitting around in his house collecting dust. It was intended on an attack on Gnapheus' contemporary Nicholas Copernicus,note  who indeed had a large book in his house sitting around in his house. Shortly before Copernicus' death, that book was published under the title On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, the first great work on Heliocentrism. Today, Copernicus is remembered as a genius and one of the fathers of modern astronomy because of that work.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Mekton: Operation Rimfire, one of the characters had a girlfriend called Maria who was brainwashed and given an alternate identity. Especially given that it's a mecha game, the similarities to a plotline in a certain anime series are amusing.
  • There is a certain Call of Cthulhu scenario called "Final Flight", in which the characters are on a plane with a disguised serpent person. To make it obvious: There is a motherfucking serpent man on the motherfucking plane.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • The Spelljammer box had Lorebook of the Void advising to remember it's a big Universe and vary creatures as you go on, even if it's just a change in appearance - for example... "Change in color (blue elves)". Which was just a throwaway line until Avatar.
    • In the 4th edition Player's Handbook, a section on why you'd want both melee and ranged weapons says: "When the flying monster makes its getaway, you don't want to be hurling insults at it." The Player's Handbook 2 released the Bard...which can kill enemies by insulting them.
    • One of the 4th edition races is a race of anthropomorphic dragons known as the Dragonborn. No, they do not get a shout attack.
  • An old Dragon Magazine article discussed ways to avert the Aerith and Bob trope in a campaign, advising DMs about how to establish consistent cultural motifs for character and place names. The article's title? "What Do You Mean, 'Jack the Samurai'?"
  • From the Pokémon Trading Card Game we have Double Rainbow Energy.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, there is a pseudo-God Card named "Thor, Lord of the Aesir", who is listed as a Beast-Warrior-Type. Furries will get a kick out of this, due to an infamous parody picture that had floated around years back of Anubis, lamenting his change from God of the Dead to furry sex symbol, with Odin (Thor's father) comforting him by telling him Thor "wasn't spared, either", a reference to near-life sized horse dildo created during the time. To clinch the hilarity, Thor is a Synchro monster, which requires a Tuner monster called "Guldifaxe of the Nordic Beasts" to bring out. Guldifaxe, in case you're wondering, is a horse.
    • Speaking of Yu-Gi-Oh and furry internet memes, one popular meme is that Krystal can't have her sandwich. In the card game, there's a Fusion monster called Sanwitch who, at present, is very hard to get out - its Fusion Materials and most of the alternative ways of bringing it out are either banned or limited to one per deck. So Krystal can't have her Sandwich.
    • 2ch users created a hoax so convincing, it tricked Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! fan sites. The hoax basically stated that Lightsworn were dolls who were slaves of an evil force, which describes the new Shadolls perfectly.
    • Nekroz of Trishula can be seen as a personification of Trishula. Unfortunately for the Pixiv fanartists, Nekroz of Trishula is a guy. Tenpester even mocked it by having the Trishula gijinka's clothes be stolen by Archamage of the Nekroz.
    • Remember the time when players did the Tour Guide From The Underworld + Sangan combo? That's what Burning Abyss players do now.
  • Our page for the player archetype of Munchkin has the quote "Munchkin: one who, when informed the campaign is about politics and intrigue in 17th-century Italy, asks to play as a ninja." Years later, Assassin's Creed II was released... On the Munchkin page the quote was soon potholed to the game's page, up until wiki policy changed to forbid that.
  • The Munchkin Ctulhu standalone game features the Fez of Fazooli, represented by a guy wearing a fez, a jacket and a bowtie (bottom left in this image). Several years later, guess who wore an almost identical outfit?
  • A writing guide written in 1994 would have various decrees that would be heavily violated by future works. Stuff like "No writing about the history of the Jedi", "No writing about the rise of the Empire", "No extra-galactic invasions". Of course, this document was a guideline for freelancers, so if anyone was going to do anything setting-breaking, they'd probably want to do it in-house rather than hand it off to some random person writing an RPG module.

  • This article about an early beta of Vista.
  • At the advent of computers it was declared by Thomas J. Watson that there would never be a market for more than five computers in the entire world.
  • Conversely, Danny Hillis talks about the first computer conference he went to, where he proclaimed that the market for microprocessors would be in the millions. One wag asked, "What, will there be a computer in every doorknob?" Flash forward to Danny Hillis returning to the same hotel, where the room keys had been replaced by keycards. There was a computer in every doorknob.
  • This video of one of Steve Jobs's keynote speeches. Him explaining the "Megahertz Myth" is so much funnier when Apple switched to Intel in 2005. On the subject of the myth, he practically predicted the future when the Pentium 4 decided to completely milk the "clock speeds are everything" concept for all it was worth, until the massive performance and overheating problems killed the worth the Pentium name once had.
    • The Take Thats at Intel in Apple's old "Snail" and "Toasted Bunnies" ads as well.
  • This iPod parody. Two years later...
  • This 1972 photo of a "Super Airbus."
  • This video on all the exciting possibilities offered by The Internet in... 1996. Just try to watch the guy earnestly enthusing about "multimedia files" and "special interest groups" without thinking of The Internet Is for Porn.
  • Apple and Samsung are bitter rivals. However, Sam Sung was once an Apple employee.
  • This April Fools' Day article from 2013 by Infoworld mocks the early failures of Windows 8, by saying that Windows 9 is "too good" and Microsoft is skipping straight to Windows 10. Just a little over a year later, the exact same thing happened in real life. (Well, minus the "too good" part, but still.)
  • Guilty Gear Xrd -sign- was famous for a visual style that many felt was impossible for the Unreal Engine. That was before Unreal Engine 4, famous for it's versatility in both visual aesthetics possibilities and platform useability (showcased by Epic Games releasing a mobile app in the form of a Flappy Bird clone), was released to the public.
  • This student PSA from 1995 accurately predicts all the possibilities that the internet will offer by the time the students are in college.
  • The USAF revealed in January 2010 through Jane's that they are modding Sidewinders for air-to-ground usage. Funny how all those arcadey flight-action titles like Ace Combat, Afterburner etc. had us using ersatz Sidewinders for multirole purposes well before this, eh?

    Theme Parks 
  • From 1989 through 2004, Disney/MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida had an attraction called The Magic of Disney Animation which had a short film at the beginning called Back to Neverland (not to be confused with Disney's direct-to-video Peter Pan sequel Return to Neverland), starring Robin Williams and the late Walter Cronkite. In it, Robin is a huge fan of Peter Pan and actually becomes an animated Lost Boy, and he defeats Captain Hook with a little help from both Tinkerbell and his quick improvisational comedy skills. Doubly hilarious in hindsight in that not only would he later get a chance to really show off his improvisational skills in a full-length Disney filmnote , but first he would also get the chance to actually be Peter Pan himself (courtesy of Steven Spielberg and TriStar Pictures).

  • Around the time the third generation of Popples toys was launched, Spin Master made a wanna-be Popples toyline called Fur Berries. Guess which company acquires the rights to produce Popples toys 7 years later?
  • There is a bootleg Combining Mecha Thomas the Tank Engine toy, which was released in 2009-10. This becomes funnier with Ressha Sentai Tokkyuger being released a few years later, which also features trains as Combining Mecha.
  • LEGO Minifigures:
    • The Series 2 Witch is often regarded as an unoffical minifigure of the Wicked Witch of the West. Fast forward to 2015, when LEGO Dimensions includes the Wizard of Oz film as one of its licenses, and an official Wicked Witch figure is made as part of a Fun Pack.
    • The Series 6 Genie is seen as an unofficial minifigure of the Genie from Aladdin. When the Disney line came along in 2016, The Genie from Aladdin got his own official Lego minifigure.
  • This Chris Benoit action figure, which changes his expression from nice guy to screaming angry bastard, is funny for the wrong reasons.
  • This Rosie O'Donnell doll made by Mattel from the 1990s (around the time of her talk show and massive popularity), which depicts her as Barbie's best friend. In 2002, Rosie would come out as a lesbian, adding a whole new level to their "partnership".
  • The world of Teddy Ruxpin features a race called the Grunges. They're known for being very musical, as shown in a Teddy Ruxpin storybook, released in 1985, titled Grunge Music. A few years later, that book's title would start to refer to a completely different musical genre.

    Real Life 
  • After the revelation that General David Petraeus had an affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell, the title of her biography, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, took on a whole new meaning. Not to mention all the publicity touting how Broadwell was "afforded extensive access by General Petraeus."
  • During The French Revolution, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte was a fervent supporter of Revolutionary ideas, to the point that he supposedly had "Death to the kings !" tattooed on his chest. Guess what he became...
  • There is a banquet hall in Woodbridge, New Jersey called "Ariana's Grand." This becomes really funny thanks to the rise of a certain Nickelodeon pop starlet.
  • Los Angeles Metro Rail has the Pico (Boulevard) station, which is where one exits to get to Anime Expo, located at the Los Angeles Convention Center, which is also on Pico. There is an infamous ero OVA series known as Boku no Pico. This did not go unnoticed.
  • A French museum harbours an 18th century Japanese mask which looks uncannily like former French president Jacques Chirac (or rather like his puppet in Les Guignols de l'Info)... it's actually the mask of a powerful evil demon called Ôbeshimi. For more hilarity, Jacques Chirac is well known for having fondness for Japanese culture and art.
  • A local Ohio news station's coverage of the 2001 CSX 8888 incident described it as "like something you'd see in a Hollywood action movie". Cut to 9 years later, the incident actually did inspire a Hollywood action movie, namely Unstoppable.
  • In the early 2000s, when it became known that the Internet could be used for mass piracy of copyrighted works, entertainment regulation bodies ran anti-piracy messages at the beginnings of home-use videos, with one of the slogans being "You Wouldn't Download A Car". With the advent of 3D printing, people have started distrbuting and downloading 3D automobile designs for use with 3D printers, i.e. downloading cars.

Alternative Title(s): Reverse Funny Aneurysm


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