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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."

Harsher in Hindsight is when a tragic event, either in Real Life or in-universe, makes something more disturbing, upsetting, or at the very least more uncomfortable, than it originally was.

This is the opposite. It's when a later event, such as a current event or something that happened in the series, makes something 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 fiction 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 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 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 them 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 COVID-19 Pandemic. Please don't add examples of this nature.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf:
    • In episode 28, Wolffy uses a fake friendship peace negotiation in an attempt to eat the goats. note  However, several years later in real life, the season Mighty Little Defenders started airing, which actually DOES involve a peace negotiation between the goats and wolves as a plot device, just without Wolffy adding any sneaky schemes to it.
    • In Joys of Seasons episode 31, Wolnie gets amnesia after Wolffy feeds her forgetful grass. Near the end of the episode, Paddi's tears are enough to water a remembering flower that Wolffy wants to grow so he can feed it to Wolnie and restore her memory... except when she actually does eat it, she also develops a friendship with Paddi since it was Paddi's tears and not hers. This gets taken even further in the later season Love You Babe, where Wolnie gets amnesia again and spends the entire season thinking Paddi is her child.
    • The eighth film, Dunk for Future, had Happytoon as a production company. They're the company that produces Happy Heroes, Huang Weiming's other long-running series. Later in 2022, it was announced that Happy Heroes would be getting a third movie, The Stones, that has Pleasant Goat production company Creative Power Entertaining as part of its crew, bringing it full-circle.
  • 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.
  • In the 1970's, people said that there would be a black U.S. president when pigs fly. Eventually in November 2008, we got Barack Obama, and sure enough, swine flu.

    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 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.

  • 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.

    Puppet Shows 

  • Way back in the 1940s, there was a children's fantasy radio program named Land Of The Lost (no relation) that featured in one episode a character named "Mac Fleetwood". Even better, this was a series dedicated to Puns and Shout-Outs, making the coincidence extremely fitting.
  • 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.

  • 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".
  • 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • 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.
    • Mirt the Moneylender from Forgotten Realms is a corpulent, elderly, wealthy businessman turned politician known for his displays of Conspicuous Consumption, his sexual relationship with his (adopted) daughter, and being in charge of Waterdeep's Spelljammer command. He would be a picture-perfect Trumplica...if most of this hadn't been established before Trump was in office.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • 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.

    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).

  • Furby: This video released in 2013 parodies many movie scenes using 2012 Furbies. The video ends with a Furby customized as Chewbacca. Two years later, Hasbro would release an official Furbacca.
  • 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?
  • 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.
    • In the late 60s, Nintendo made a line of blocks known as the N&B Blocks, but in 2019 Nintendo licenses a Lego line based on their stellar franchise.
  • 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.
  • Tamagotchi: Akihiro Yokoi, the creator Tamagotchi, initially wanted to scrap Mametchi because he felt it was too "cute" compared to what he thought the Tamagotchis should look like. Decades later, Mametchi would be overshadowed by new Tamagotchis that were even cuter than him.

    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 a press interview for Maleficent, Elle Fanning made a joke that Disney should adapt Dumbo into a live-action film. Later, Disney indeed did that.


Video Example(s):


A Shark Animatronic

MatPat mused that he joked about a shark animatronic way before the twelfth book in the Fazbear Frights series featured one on the cover.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / HilariousInHindsight

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