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Long-Runner Tech Marches On

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In a Long Runner series set in the Present Day, contemporary technology quickly becomes dated as Technology Marches On, and the writers quietly bring in new gadgets appropriate to the year. This normally works fine until you start watching reruns of early episodes and notice how dated everything is to what was the present when they first came out.

If the storyline is still meant to be set at roughly the same time as the early episodes, then this can trouble the viewer or reader's Willing Suspension of Disbelief.

In Real Life when these episodes were written, tech that we now take for granted was just appearing, and the show would reflect this, showing everything from big desktop computers, CD-ROMs, the Internet, cell phones and what-have-you as the latest thing. Fast forward years later, and in order to keep up with the real world, the characters are now using laptops, iPods, broadband Internet, smartphones, etc.

But wait, that episode that came out 15 years ago was set only a year or two ago in the series' storyline. How is it that the characters were touting tape decks as the next big thing, yet only a short time later older members of the cast are reminiscing about their old Walkmans, and younger members have no idea what a cassette even is, even though they were the ones lugging them around back in the first few seasons?

The trope only counts when the characters of the series don't obviously age, and/or it is shown that the series is set around the same timeframe throughout. Drawn media (such as comic books and animation) and written media are the primary culprits — live-action shows normally let time progress as it does in the real world, e.g. events from four seasons ago are stated to have happened four years ago in-universe.

This is a Sub-Trope of Comic-Book Time, Long Runner, and Technology Marches On. Sister Trope to Not Allowed to Grow Up, Present-Day Past, and Webcomic Time where the passage of time in-universe does not keep up with the span of publication in real life. See also Zeerust, where a "futuristic" design element is outdated by the real-world march of technology, materials science, aesthetics and/or social values, and Cosmetically-Advanced Prequel, where a chronologically-earlier installment in a series looks more modern than its predecessor(s) due to advances in VFX. Compare Unintentional Period Piece.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The animated version of Sazae-san recycles most of its scripts every few years, updating clothing styles and appliances as appropriate.
  • Ah! My Goddess (the manga version). The TV series hangs a lampshade on this when Belldandy comments on Keiichi still keeping his old appliances from the '80s in mint condition.
  • Case Closed:
    • The manga has a particularly hard time of this, due to suffering from an extreme case of Comic-Book Time. The series has run since 1994 for about three decades, but Word of God claims that only about six months have passed in the story. (There's a lot of trouble with that statement, including the number of holidays we've seen, and the changing of the seasons. And that's not even considering the sheer number of important cases that have occurred. Even condensing the series down just to its plot and character relevant episodes and ignoring repeated holidays/seasons renders enough time passage to fill well over a year.) Either way, the widespread use of cellphones and personal computers became adapted into the stories concurrently, which created some interesting problems. An early episode had a lunchbox-sized portable fax-machine qualify as an awesome gadget, while a more recent episode had a writer's lack of familiarity with cellphones used as proof that he hadn't left his attic in years. And canonically, those two incidents were — at most — three months apart.
    • Played for Laughs in Lupin III vs. Detective Conan: The Movie. Inspector Zenigata reveals that at this point, Lupin has started texting him about his intentions to steal certain items, and everyone seems incredibly shocked that Zenigata even owns a cell phone.
    • This became ridiculous when there was a flashback case, ergo, a story that's supposed to have happened prior to the series beginning, that required the use of a phone that had video recording capabilities. Meanwhile we're supposed to believe that chapters containing characters in possession of pagers happened afterwards. Right.
    • Parodied in a comedy spinoff of Case Closed, Detective Conan: The Culprit Hanzawa, starring the shadowy figure that represents the killer. In the first chapter, he attempts to use the train, but the ticket turnstile keeps changing with the times as he is using it, so he cannot figure out where to put his ticket.
  • Applies to Kochikame. Over the years, the manga updates consumer tech from home computers to cell phones. There are some elements of sci-fi tech such as humanoid police robots.
  • Wandering Son began in the early years of The Noughties, which was a fast paced decade for technology, thus this is inevitable for a Slice of Life. For example, early on few characters had cellphones but in later chapters most characters do (and eventally Takatsuki switches from flip-phone to a smart-phone). There's also a case of Technology Marches On where in the manga, in a volume that came out in 2006, two characters record their voice using a tape recorder. Cut to the 2011 anime adaptation and the scene is changed to them using their cellphones instead. The series lasts from elementary to high school, so the slow change in tech is a bit more realistic compared to other examples.
  • People in the world of Pokémon: The Series have surprisingly begun to implement current technology in the later series, despite the series starting in the '90s and the passage of time remaining ambiguous after the Kanto saga (which is approximately one year long). This includes giving James a tablet with the new Rocket logo on the back, and characters using smartphones. The blocky picture phones of the early seasons have also smoothed down with time.
    • Played for Laughs in the 2019 series, where Team Rocket's newest hideout is hidden under a phone booth, which were a common sight in the original series. When Ash's new travel companion, Goh, finds them there he is utterly bewildered by what it is, with a flabbergasted Meowth pointing out that modern kids don't even know what a phone booth is these days.
  • Skip Beat! began continuously running since February 2002, but it's stated that barely a year has passed since the beginning. In earlier chapters, everyone used a flip-phone. More recent chapters have showed characters having upgraded to using smartphones now, though Kyoko still retains using a flip-phone. Justified in her case, as her cellphone was a gift from LME to be able to contact her about jobs, and Kyoko wouldn't dream of asking for a more expensive phone if the flip-phone suffices.
  • Played with in His Coool Seha Girls: Dreamcast can connect to the Internet wherever and whenever she wants, but can use only sluggish dial-up (in an age where Wifi and broadband are the norm). She also prefers to connect only during certain times to avoid running a fee, on account of being from a poor family.
  • Zig-zagged in Hunter × Hunter: Shalnark's weapon of choice, a brick-type cell phone that could mind-control people and instructions given out via texting, was not changed over the years the manga has remained in publication. That being said, hand gestures for texting today remain similar to back then, and the phone itself is unusually flat and rectangular for a brick phone, so when the phone reappeared in a story arc in 2015, the manga depicted as few shots of its front as possible, with most shots of the phone from behind and the user rapidly tapping the front of it. That being said, it's played straight with other people's phones, with smartphones popping up with increasing frequency, though a few other characters still have the phones they originally had. The internet has also become far more accessible and not just the domain of specific characters like Milluki, as it was at the start of the series.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura came out in The '90s, was set during what was then The Present Day, and the technology and such were the type available at that time: Sakura had a CRT television in her room, and she and Tomoyo used cell phones that had buttons and flipped open. When Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card came out, it was The New '10s, but In-Universe, it's only a year or two after the original series ended (so late in The '90s). Yet Sakura now has a flat-screen TV in her bedroom, uses Skype (or something similar), and has a smartphone.
  • Played with in Nagasarete Airantou. When Ikuto was shipwrecked in 2002, he brought with him a Gameboy Advance which had to be powered by AA batteries. His sister later arrived on the island, which in-universe took only around four months, but happened over 10 years into the manga's serialization. When she locates her belongings, she mentions bringing a smartphone and a 3DS, prompting Ikuto to ask what smartphones and 3DSes are.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean is set in 2011 and written from 2000 to 2003. Cell phones rarely appear, and are solely depicted as Nokia style non-flip phones, though admittedly slimmer than other cell phones of the era. Naturally, there are no smartphones whatsoever either, despite the fact that they were becoming fairly ubiquitous by the early 10s. In contrast, JoJolion is also set in 2011 of an Alternate Continuity, but it had started being written in 2011. Cell phones, both flip and smart, are frequently employed, with one character's Stand even using cell phones and the internet.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Original series started out with Battle Boxes, eventually advanced into Duel Arenas, then eventually the Duel Disk. The duel disk technology used in every sequel is based on the technology at the time they're aired in, comparable to how smartphones became sleeker, affordable, more high tech, and much more compact in every generation. Dialled to the absulute extreme in the Darkside of Dimensions movie, as Kaiba Corp have not only invented complete virtual reality arenas with virtual opponents, but Kaiba develops a pod that lets him travel between dimensions to reach the Afterlife. For reference, the movie is set a mere six months after the end of the manga; a manga that lasted maybe a school year long tops and began with Yugi and Jonouchi lending VHS tapes to one another.
  • Conversed in Chapter 61 of Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun. Sequential Artist Nozaki shows Sakura a Long Runner series where the heroine has only moved up one grade in 20 years of run, but during that "year" the technology moved forward from pagers to smartphones.
  • Yotsuba&! takes place over the course of one year, but since it's been running continuously since 2003, it makes use of a floating timeline to keep it up to date with modern society. As a result, the technology seen throughout the series progresses in step with that of the real world. For instance, Yotsuba visits an electronics store full of flip phones in September, and her father buys a smartphone two months later.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: The fashion trends, pop culture, and level of technology in the original manga are implied to be from the late-1990s and the early-2000s, during its original run. Shonan 14 Days, however, feels more at home in the late-2000s and early-2010s (when it was published), which is jarring as it's supposed to be set between major events in the original manga. Likewise, Paradise Lost is set in a decade where social media, smartphones and tablets are the norm, despite being set in the immediate school year after the original.
    • Another noticeable example is Uchiyamada's Toyota appearing as a late-2000s Crown Royal in the opening pages of Shonan 14 Days, only to inexplicably revert to the original Cresta design in following appearances in the manga. Paradise Lost finally officiates the Crown Royal as Uchiyamada's car.
  • Kocchimuite! Miiko The series frequently referencing years passing per volume due being serialized monthly, and it's been running since late eighties. It has the technology, appliances, clothing, pop-culture references and inclusion of societal and current issues updated as appropriate to the year the chapters were written on.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • The comics started out as a Great Depression-era comic. Now, they have the latest iMacs.
    • Clark Kent's job at the Daily Planet deserves special attention. Originally, he worked there so he'd be aware of disasters happening as soon as possible; as Superman's powers increased and he gained super-hearing and super-vision, that didn't hold water any more, so now he worked there because he thought he could do good influencing public opinion as Clark Kent, and it was a job where nobody would question him always being close to dangerous events and frequently disappearing when something big happened. Meanwhile, the Daily Planet itself changed with the times, always reflecting whatever a modern newspaper would be like — most notably, the Planet's online presence has gone from nonexistent to being their primary focus. Finally, the changing role of newspapers themselves as news delivery systems has led Clark to quit his job twice; once to become a TV anchorman and once to become an independent news blogger.
  • Supergirl was created in the late Fifties. In one of her modern adventures a group of super-villains used a mobile app to track her location.
  • Archie Comics. The characters don't age, but the technology is always up-to-date. It's not something that's just quietly slipped in either; a strip in the late 80s saw Veronica replacing her record collection with CD's, and in a later one Archie's parents reminisced about the days of dial-up. The ultimate example (for a while) was Archie's Alleged Car, which for the first four decades of publication was the same beat-up red Ford Model T- literally the very first affordable consumer car ever made, and so old it had a hand crank start. He named it "Betsy." In the 40s it was reasonable he'd be driving one of those if he was driving at all, since at that point the Model T still held the record for most units sold. In 1972, though, it was dethroned by the VW Beetle, and as the years went on it started looking more-and-more out of place among the other characters' contemporary rides. Eventually in 1983 Betsy was put out to pasture and replaced by a mid-60s Mustang, which solved the problem for a while- but lately that car has also become a bit of a historical relic. Poor Archie can't catch a break.
  • The Disney Mouse and Duck Comics. While aesthetically with many bygone elements, the level of technology is always assumed to be contemporary (not counting Gyro Gearloose and other inventors occasionally pushing it well beyond that), so that cell phones or desktop computers may crop up in more recent stories. A notable exception are the stories by Don Rosa (active from 1987 to 2005) which are always either set in the timeframe "late forties to early sixties" (the time in which Carl Barks created his classic stories), or are prequels taking place at very specific dates in history.
  • Batman: At the start of his career, a radio small enough to fit in Batman's belt buckle that could be used to send Morse code was bleeding-edge. Nowadays he has his own satellite network. Modern stories set in Batman's past tend to fuzz technological details by avoiding showing specific tech. Fortunately a punch to the face has always been a punch to the face.
  • The Marvel Universe is actually more prone to this than DC, which Cosmic Retcons its continuity every couple of years nowadays, making it so that whatever 1940s Batman or Superman stories that currently still count might have happened last year. Marvel has it particularly bad with those characters — Peter Parker, Tony Stark, Reed Richards — who work with fantastic technology, the earliest issues of whose comics involved technology which often wasn't so fantastic 10 years ago or so, when the Fantastic Four took their ill-fated space flight to the Moon (to beat the Russians), and contemporary Marvel continuity began. A prime example? Reading the original Iron Man appearance, one might be amused to discover that the secret to his suit's power was "highly miniaturized transistors", and he had a phone built into the suit... with a rotary dial on the chest.
    • In one flashback to the original Avengers team (published in the sixties but, due to Comic-Book Time, will always be "ten years ago" in universe), Captain America refers to Rick Jones using shortwave radio (which he was in the original story), and Iron Man corrects him that it's social media.
  • Cerebro, the mutant-detecting computer from X-Men, first appeared in the '60s using punch-cards and tape drives. It has wildly fluctuated in both appearance and capabilities throughout the years before everyone just went with the device's portrayal in the movies, a hollow ball-shaped room.
  • In Shazam!, Billy Batson's broadcast career went from radio to TV and finally to podcasting (that last also a turn towards realism due to the much lower barrier to entry) and Freddy Freeman's mobility aids have come in for some updates.
  • Jan, Jans en de Kinderen: The comic has run since 1970, and firmly uses tropes like Comic-Book Time and Not Allowed to Grow Up to keep the characters at the same age, but since it's always set in "the present" social and technological changes have been introduced over the years, such as the internet, cellphones, laptop computers etc.
  • When Wonder Woman first started out her invisible robot plane had a very advanced auto-pilot and, despite being a Space Plane, was propeller driven. She and the Amazons also used "mental radios", which functioned like bulky transportable Video Phones. The plane has been jet propelled for decades now and the mental radios were written out even before cell phones became so common that nearly everyone has a sleek Video Phone in their pocket these days.

    Comic Strips 
  • Hi and Lois: Look at the photo on The Other Wiki here, and compare the TV to the modern TV the family has now, not to mention the other conveniences that they have.
  • Blondie (1930): The Bumstead family has been around for decades, and (as noted on the main page) has stayed the same age since the 1940s. However, the family now owns a flat-panel LCD screen and keyboard, presumably attached to a computer of some sort. And a bit of changing values, too: Whereas Blondie was a simple housewife early in the comic, in the '90s she finally got her own job, running a business no less (as a caterer).
  • Dick Tracy justifies it with industrial magnate Diet Smith supplying Tracy's tech with continual upgrades.
  • FoxTrot: The iFruit computer was originally shaped like an apple or pear to parody the iMac, but after a while it started being depicted as a flat-screen monitor like most desktop computers these days.
  • Garfield has been around since the late '70s, and in recent strips, the old, bulky TV has been replaced with a thin flatscreen, and many current gags involve smartphones.
  • Zits began in 1997, when CD players were common and few people (especially teens) had cellphones. Later on, Jeremy said being the only kid at school without a phone made people think he was Amish. And since the 2010s, smartphones and social media have become ubiquitous.

    Films — Animation 
  • Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie takes place a year after Hey Arnold! ended over a decade earlier. Bob's business is on its last legs because pagers have been replaced with cellphones and Rhonda is shown using the internet on her smartphone. Yet, the film still keeps an edge of Retro Universe with the characters still dressing like it's the 1990s and Arnold keeping his walkman.
  • Enter the Florpus, the Big Damn Movie of Invader Zim which aired in 2019 (nearly 20 years after the original series ran and ended), now features smartphones and apps, and a joke about how no one reads newspapers anymore, all of which wouldn't have been possible when the show was first on the air. Similar references and jokes have also been present in the Zim comic series, which began publishing in 2015 and once dedicated a whole issue to Zim and GIR getting obsessed with binge-watching a show.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Done in The Bourne Series. In The Bourne Identity (2002), all the mobile phones are late-90s basic phones and we see PCs with massive CRT monitors. By The Bourne Supremacy (2004), we start seeing early smartphones and PDAs, such as the HP iPaq used to ID Bourne's (faked) fingerprint, and flatscreen monitors. Jason Bourne (2016) features then-recent smartphones and mobile apps, with a subplot involving a social media CEO.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series: The first Mission: Impossible (1996) featured the then-current computer technology of the mid-90s. As the franchise went on, computer technology upgraded with it, such as Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015) prominently featuring tablet PCs and other smart devices. Dead Reckoning takes a step further into Science Fiction territory with a rogue artificial intelligence as Big Bad.
  • Also naturally a part of the longest-running film series of them all, James Bond. James Bond starts the series with the classic "gadgets from Q" - weapons and espionage tools disguised as everyday objects like watches and pens. In Tomorrow Never Dies we get our first phone - mobile phones were fairly rudimentary in 1998 so this one still mostly functions as a "bland everyday object with cool spying features". By Casino Royale Bond is mostly using his phone as a regular phone, as with phones getting more powerful and the world of espionage moving increasingly into virtual spaces, normal phones are by this point just really useful things for spies to be using.

  • The Cat Who... Series: In the early books, Qwill has a clunky manual typewriter that he refuses to replace with an electric one. In the later ones he has a clunky electric typewriter that he refuses to replace with a word processor. It's still claimed to be the machine he used his entire journalistic career.
  • Young Wizards: A computer obtained by one of the characters in the third book (1990) starts out as a typical 80s Macintosh-like device. By the seventh book (2003), it has "evolved" into a modern-day laptop, despite less than five years passing in-universe.
    • The author released "New Millennium Editions" 20 years or so into the series, which, among other improvements, iron out the timeline and update the technology in the earlier books to be more contemporary.
  • In the first Alex Rider book (2000), the protagonist is given a spy gadget disguised as a Game Boy. In the ninth book (2011), he uses an iPhone 3GS, despite it being set only a year later.
  • The fairies in the Artemis Fowl universe are supposed to be high-tech, with technology significantly beyond anything humans have produced. And while most of their tech has remained in Magic from Technology territory, some has quietly become upgraded over the course of the series as real-life human technology has reached new heights, making the fairy tech seem backwards in comparison. While the series has progressed forward in time, it's worth noting that in-series, fairy tech has been high-caliber for a long time and is not generally noted as making significant improvements. This is especially noticeable when the fairies suddenly start talking about "mini-apps" four books in, after the rise of smartphones and app stores in real life.
  • The original Goosebumps series, written in the 90s, uses era-appropriate technological references; for example, Why I'm Afraid of Bees mentions an "electronic bulletin board" while "forum" would be more appropriate today. On the other hand, the Goosebumps SlappyWorld series, which started coming out in The New '10s, sees characters frequently using smartphones, tablets, video games, and social media. In a bizarre twist, the original series was also re-released in the 2010s, with the technological references from those books updated as well.
  • Alan Dean Foster started the Humanx Commonwealth series in 1972; its older novels show Flinx looking up information on microfiche, whereas recent ones have him hacking a global computer network when he's only a few years older. Notable in that one of the novels, Bloodhype, was set chronologically near the end of the series, but written back in the 70s. Foster himself acknowledges that this makes for a jarring plunge in tech-level whenever you read them according to the in-universe timeline.
  • The Helmsman Saga was started in the 80s. In the fifth book, Wilf was stated to have a pager. In book 7, he had a mobile phone. In book eight (written in 2011, after a 15-year hiatus), he sends SMS messages.
  • The novel serialization of the Robotech saga. By the last book (#21), cell phones, internet and email were common enough parlance in the real world that references to them were included, despite never being mentioned anywhere in the previous books.
  • In the first two Fudge books (1971 and 1980), elevator buttons and pocket calculators are presented as new technology. The fourth book (2002) has instant messaging. The characters are only three years older than in the original. The reference to the pocket calculator was changed in revised editions.
  • The young Amelia Bedelia books are a prequel to the original Amelia Bedelia franchise, but don't try to pretend they're set in the time period that would actually fit the Amelia Bedelia seen in the original books. Amelia Bedelia on the Job shows Amelia Bedelia's father working on a laptop, even though personal computers didn't even exist during the 1960s time period in which the books with the adult Amelia Bedelia were first published.
  • Atlas Shrugged ended up doing this in a single book. Ayn Rand started writing the novel in 1943, so for much of the book, radio is the standard mass medium. Just before the Galt speech, Television is suddenly an established technology as it was in 1957, when the novel was finally published. Sure, the story takes place over a few years, but said story involves the greatest geniuses and innovators mysteriously disappearing.
  • Carefully averted in the 1632 series — the people of Grantville have the knowledge and technology available in a small town in 2000, and Eric Flint has noted that it takes ever-increasing amounts of care to avoid including anything that didn't exist then.
  • A subtle example in John Marsden's The Tomorrow Series. Despite its Next Sunday A.D. title, derived from that of first book Tomorrow, When The War Began (1993), there is no evidence the story is set in anything other than the present day — and the plot of the whole series takes place over a matter of only months. The seven books appeared at annual intervals, though, and over the period of publication there was a real-world revolution in electronic communication. Partway through the series a mention of a character using "E-mail" [sic] is casually dropped in, with this formatting of the name however immediately dating it to the mid-Nineties when it was a novelty. In another mention nearer the end of the series (and decade) the concept is quietly updated to "email".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: While the time travel-based premise allows the series to avoid this trope for the most part, it still pops up in the form of the TARDIS itself. The interior of the ship was originally designed based on early '60s conceptions of what futuristic technology would look like, and as 26 years passed, the set would incrementally change in accordance with real-world technological changes and accompanying new predictions. The baubles on the TARDIS console would grow more simplified and less Zeerust-y before being replaced in the '80s with a design rooted heavily in the nascent personal computer market, and the scanner would go from a ceiling-mounted CRT to a giant flatscreen with the display added in via Chroma Key in the mid-'70s. Come the Revival Series, and the TARDIS would switch to a mix of smaller flatscreen monitors and controls based on changes in personal computer technology and aesthetics during the 21st century.
  • LazyTown: In seasons 1 and 2, Sportacus can only be contacted by writing a letter and launching it in a tube to his airship. In seasons 3 and 4, he and Stephanie have digital wrist communicators.
  • Lampshaded in the pilot episode of the 1980s revival of Mission: Impossible, which saw the mission briefings upgraded from tapes to CDs, leading Jim Phelps to say "Time does march on..."
  • The opening sequence of Murder, She Wrote features Jessica Fletcher writing her mystery novels on an old-fashioned typewriter. In Season Ten, she upgrades to a then-state of the art personal computer; in Season Twelve, she upgrades again to a smaller laptop. Those latter season intros still begin with Jessica using the typewriter only to switch the newer tech, which may reflect the old-fashioned nature of the "cozy mystery" genre of the show.
  • The lead character's brief aversion to this was played for laughs in the first episode of the 2018 Post-Script Season of Murphy Brown, which chronologically takes place 20 years after the original series finale. Brown still preferred using a Motorola v60 flip phone (circa 2002) rather than smartphones like everyone else (praising it as being perfect for "making actual calls to people"), and had never used Twitter before. CNC's social media intern Pat insists on upgrading her to an iPhone from the current decade, but not before gazing in awe at Brown's vintage phone (and being disappointed when he realizes it doesn't have Siri).
  • Red Dwarf: In this sci-fi Sitcom long-runner's original heyday during the late '80s/early '90s, Holly the ship's computer was seen as a face on a screen — and was occasionally brought along for the plot on a bulky cathode ray tube TV rig. The aesthetic (eventually) evolved so that by the time of the show's belated revival as a regular series from 2012 the Red Dwarf comes equipped with flat-screen monitors, despite the ship having been 3 million years into deep space since episode 1. The "just go with it" nature of the chronology means that it isn't too distracting.
    • In "Better Than Life", a post-pod that finally catches up to Red Dwarf ("Three million years... about average for second-class post.") and contains two seasons of Zero-G Football and a year of news - on (oddly-shaped) VHS Tapes. Come the Reunion movie, the crew are baffled to encounter DVDs... and Kryten explains that they were too fiddly, and no-one put them back in the right cases, so humanity went back to video cassettes. Both of these examples have now fallen victim to this trope, now that streaming services have become the dominant media format.
  • Stargate Atlantis (set in the present day), where the expedition had a seemingly limitless supply of gadgets, which mysteriously kept updating with rather recognizable new models which hadn't even shipped yet at the show's premiere, in spite of being cut off from Earth until the Dædalus showed up in season 2.
  • Star Trek has two instances in which characters time traveled to the year 2024. The first, a two-parter from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, was filmed in 1994, and the tech had a heavy Zeerust aesthetic. The second, in the second season of Star Trek: Picard, was, logically, nearly indistinguishable from the 2022, the year it was filmed.

    Video Games 
  • Over the course of the Nancy Drew adventure games, Nancy transitions from using land lines to basic cell phones to camera phones to smartphones, and from borrowing suspects' desktops to owning a laptop to downloading through her phone. In The Secret of the Old Clock, set in the 1920s, the game pokes fun at this by having Nancy's friend Bess having the latest tech — a party line.note 
  • The entire Street Fighter series takes place across the course of only a few years. Street Fighter IV takes place immediately after Street Fighter II. The story is still taking place in the 1990s, but that isn't stopping C. Viper, Chun-Li, Juri, and a few other characters from using modern smartphones and ultra-thin laptops. There is some in-universe justification if one looks at Shared Universe Street Fighter is part of. Even discounting the events of Alpha 3 (theorized to take place in the late 80s/early 90s), where — among other things — Karin's family owns a Kill Sat, the decidedly futuristic Captain Commando takes place in 2026; in order, II, IV, and III collectively span from the early 90s to the turn of the 21st century, complete with technology that matches and even surpasses what's currently available in the real world (never mind all of the genetic manipulation experiments going around, which seemed to have started before 1987). Given the overall moveset similarities, the high-tech battle suit Viper wears is commonly speculated to be a possible prototype for Cap's gear.
  • This is somewhat noticeable in the Modern Warfare trilogy, even though the first in the series came out in 2007 and the last one only four years later, as the games try to maintain the feel of bleeding-edge tech. The player character takes out a briefcase computer to guide Predator missiles and helicopter gunnery in 2; these are upgraded to touchscreen tablets in 3, even though it's the exact same conflict set only days or weeks apart.
  • In most Pokémon games, the latest Nintendo console will be featured in the player character's house. The only main exception to this is in the remakes Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, which feature an NES (as opposed to the original games which featured a SNES). This happens despite the remakes taking place at the same time the originals did (for instance, Pokémon Gold and Silver feature the Nintendo 64 but the remakes feature the Wii). In the case of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, it took place chronologically before Gold and Silver, yet had a newer console (the Nintendo GameCube). Pokémon Sun and Moon had a Wii U in the player's bedroom and the follow-up games Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, which were set the same year but in a different timeline, replaced it with a Nintendo Switch.

  • In El Goonish Shive, the teenage main cast has gone from landline phone extensions in bedrooms to flip phones to smartphones, within about a year of in-universe time.
    • Susan works at a video rental store. This was completely reasonable in 2002, when the comic began. By 2023, long after most video rental stores had disappeared in the real world, but again only about a year later in-universe, her boss is finally considering closing down the store due to losing business to streaming services.
  • Word of God on Dumbing of Age is that it'll roll with this, in order to avoid 'slowly becoming a period piece'. Other than an early oopsie of many of the students listing modern movies as their favorites in a gender studies class (Willis laments in a decade that'll seem weird that so many 18-year-olds would be into classic movies), the pop culture references tend to try to stay as generic as possible. The Nintendo DS/3DS may be replaced, but playing a version of Mario Kart on a handheld device will probably be A Thing for the foreseeable future, for instance. Amber's MMORPG is most likely World of Warcraft but never named directly, and Transformers references are kept as generic as possible, IE "Optimus Prime" and "Bumblebee" being safe choices for future generations.
  • Sluggy Freelance. The very first strip opened with Torg talking about the potential of the Internet in 1997. The march of tech is sometimes downplayed and sometimes lampshaded, especially in the 10th and 15th anniversary strips which redo the first strip but with Torg talking about the internet's potential in 2007 and 2012 instead.
  • Being about gamer nerds and including a lot of industry jokes, MegaTokyo fell prey to this really badly; consider that the first strip of the comic sees Piro and Largo trying to get into E3 2000 and a few strips later they were making jokes about Neverwinter Nights being Vapor Ware. Possibly because Fred Gallagher realised this was becoming a problem, references to "current" gaming technology became much less common as the comic went on (particularly after Rodney Caston left the comic and the format shifted away from single-strip gags to an ongoing story).

    Western Animation 
  • Averted via intentional zig-zagging in Archer: The writers of the show are on the record as confirming that the aesthetics and technology of the show are intentionally made anachronistic and asynchronous: a given episode might feature genetic engineering, memory altering devices, androids, and advanced laser weapons, and yet also display seventies decor and a complete lack of mobile phones—only for the following season to feature smart phones. Whether it's technology, architecture, or fashion styles, everything is an inconsistent mishmash of the last few decades with a dose of futurism mixed in.
  • Arthur: Early episodes had Muffy, the rich girl, the only one with a cell phone, and Arthur's family owned a computer that seemed to be command prompt and had a very primitive GUI. Later episodes had everyone else owning a phone, the computers up-to-date with 21st century technology (though Arthur's family's computer still resembles one from the 90s, complete with boxy PC tower and CRT monitor, despite actually showing modern operating system and software GUIs).
  • The Simpsons: The technology in the early episodes definitely reflected that the show took place around the same time they were produced, the start of the 90s. Bart used a typewriter to write a paper in an early episode, and the kids in the series played video games on what appeared to be a SNES/NES mashup. Later episodes reflected the 2000s/2010s period, though it took until the show's 2009 HD conversion for the family to have a flatscreen rather than the dials-and-rabbit-ears cabinet TV they had. It gets even more bizarre in an episode where Homer remembers his teenage times which happened in "That '90s Show"; Homer mentions Sonic the Hedgehog as his idol. The show started two years before the first Sonic the Hedgehog game so the game should be a novelty even for Bart.
  • Likewise, post-uncancellation, Futurama was 'updated' with the latest Eye-Phone and more recent scientific gadgets and theories about Time Travel and Evolution, which didn't exist in 1999 in Real Life. In one episode aired in the early 2000s, Amy's cell phone is shown to be humorously tiny — the real-life trend at the time was to make cell phones as small as possible and this was the logical progression. In the 2010s, however, the focus shifted towards touchscreens, which led to cell phones getting much larger than they were in the 2000s.
  • South Park: In early seasons a DVD-player was a sign of rich status, that only one family in town could afford. Later, various characters can be seen buying DVDs, playing Xbox games, and having a Facebook account. Yet the boys had only advanced one year in the school.
  • Family Guy is a pretty jarring comparison between the first season in 1999 and its later seasons, though numerous episodes address this issue by introducing new technologies to the family (mostly because they were still new technologies in real life, and ripe for parody). Early seasons feature using a VCR to tape Monday Night Football, singing about how owning a cellphone was status of great wealth and importance, and Chris talking about using a Walkman and AOL chat rooms. Later, taking advantage of modern technology for the sake of jokes, everyone has a smartphone, the old tube TV was replaced by a Hi-Def LCD, the VCR was replaced by a Blu-ray player and TiVo, there was a three-part arc focusing on Brian and Twitter, Lois has a Facebook account, etc etc.
  • In the 2011 Beavis and Butt-Head Revival, the technology is more or less up to date with the 2010s. Computers look modern, they mention the Internet and modern video games, one episode features a drone, and their TV has a converter box near to the rabbit ears.
  • In the original Inspector Gadget cartoon, Penny had a computer shaped like a book long before laptops were invented. The 2015 series updates this by replacing the computer book with a device that more closely resembles a tablet. In addition, Chief Quimby's exploding messages are now small devices that play recorded messages instead of pieces of paper that detonate when the last sentence, "This message will self-destruct" is read aloud.
  • The 2016 revival of The Powerpuff Girls turns the titular trio's hotline into a cordless phone and an app on their individual smart phones.
  • Downplayed in SpongeBob SquarePants. The show largely retains the technology it started with (much of which was already outdated long before the series began, i.e. record players). However, a few episodes of the modern seasons (such as "Karate Star" in Season 8 and "Goodbye, Krabby Patty?" in Season 9) have featured smartphones, flatscreen TVs, and some other high-tech stuff.
    • This is a plot point in the episode "Karen 2.0", where Plankton replaces Karen with an upgraded version of her.
  • In early Kaeloo episodes, the characters own flip phones. In later episodes, they are seen using smartphones instead.
  • One of the early installments of the animated series of Caillou showed the titular character learning about the use of a bulky old model desktop computer. Flash-forward to 2020 and he is video-conferencing with his friends with Daddy's help in a book about the COVID Pandemic, but is still just a "kid who's 4."
  • Phineas and Ferb: At the beginning of the series, the characters use flip phones. By the end of the series, the characters use smartphones.
  • The Magic School Bus Rides Again prides itself on having updated science and tech info compared to its predecessor, which aired twenty years earlier. Interestingly, the reboot canonically takes place one year after the original series, and the episode about fossils confirms that it takes place in 2017. This carries the implication that Walkerville went from floppy disks in 2016 to the Internet and social media only a year later.
  • The Fairly OddParents! season 2 episode "Information Stupor Highway", aired in 2003, uses a computer running a parody of Mac OS 9. The season 9 episodes "App Trap" and "Viral Vidiots", aired in 2013, show modern smartphones and laptops. And Timmy is still ten years old.
  • The Flintstones original run had Bamboo Technology versions of the latest 1960s gadgets, such as "Polerock" cameras. The Flintstones Stone Age Smackdown has equivalents of 2015 technology such as "shellphones". Notably, while previous movies had progressed both technology and the age of the younger characters, this is set in the Stone Punk version of The New '10s while still having Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm as babies.