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Next Sunday A.D.

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"[James Cameron's] strategy was a ballsy sleight of hand, setting the film in a 1995 that looked exactly like 1991, which is to say, the most accurate rendering of the future in cinematic history."

Welcome to the World of Tomorrow! Literally.

Next Sunday A.D. is almost exactly the same as The Present Day. Same politics, same technology, same brands, same popular culture... the only difference is that when you glance at the calendar, it shows a date about a year or two after the series was released. Writers often set a series in Next Sunday A.D. to avoid people wondering why they didn't hear about the alien invasion, deranged serial killer or collapse of global government on the news.

From a practical standpoint, of course, it would make more sense to set a work anywhere from a few months to a few years in the past, if only to invoke Direct Line to the Author.

The trope name comes from the original Mystery Science Theater 3000 Opening Theme (used in all episodes where Joel was host and changed frequently once he left), though that series is not an example of this trope.

Compare 20 Minutes into the Future, a more futuristic near-future setting where the difference in time frame is more apparent. (Yes, that should be the other way around. No, it won't be fixed.) Contrast 20 Minutes into the Past, for works that look almost the same as the present, but take place in the past. (Yes, to be consistent it should be Last Sunday A.D. No, it won't be fixed.)


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  • "Rewind the Future" anti-obesity PSA provides an unintentional example. At the start, the protagonist is said to be 32 years old, and later in the video we see him listening to an iPod (invented in 2001) before his thirteenth birthday, implying the video takes place no earlier than in 2020.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Death Note: Originally not an example as the first chapter was released in December 2003, but the official timeline sets the events as beginning in November 2003. The last chapter before the Time Skip takes place in late 2004 but was released in the summer of 2005. The time skip takes the story to 2009-2010, and was completed in 2006. The anime premiered in 2006 and moves all events three years later. Because the anime premiered in October 2006 this does give a slight case of this pre-time skip in the original Japanese airing.
  • Death Note creators' next series Bakuman。 started in 2008, the year it was written, but time advanced faster in-story than in real time, so by series-end in 2012 it was 2018 in-series. Comments from the author in the collected volumes state these dates are simply for the sake of showing the progression of time with regard to the story; he has no idea how technology or the manga industry will be in the future and the audience should consider every chapter as being set in the time it was written.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Parts 4, 5 and 6 all take place in years future to their publication, which was a necessity, as Part 3 took place in then present day 1989 and needed timeskips to the future to continue the next generation timeskips as past parts prior did.
    • Part 4 began publication in 1992 and takes place in the year 1999note .
    • Part 5 began publication on 1995 and takes place in the year 2001.
    • Part 6 began publication in 1999, taking place in the year 2011-2012.
  • X/1999 is set in the year shown, while its serialization began in 1991. In this case, it ran until 2003 when CLAMP halted its publication.
  • The Haruhi Suzumiya anime was released in 2006. The light novel series it was based on started in 2003. The psychic timequake that everyone is investigating occurred in 2007, and the main series takes place in 2010, though this isn't revealed until some time later. Now that it's past 2010 and only a year has passed in the novels, it's become Last Sunday AD.
  • Digimon Adventure 02 aired in 2000, but was set in 2002 (the English dub has it set in 2003). Justified in that it was a "next generation" sequel and enough years had to pass in-universe to allow the cast of the first series to grow a few years.
  • Paradise Kiss. It ran from 2000 to 2004, but since main character Yukari is stated as being born during the Heisei era (that is, 1989 or later) the events have to take place in 2007 or later for the dates and ages of the characters to add up.
  • About the only way you'd know Please Teacher! takes place in the future is a couple of lines early in the series.
  • Noir, which was released in 2001 and apparently takes place in 2010, falls into this category. Newspaper articles reference the 2000 American presidential election, and technology (cell phones, the Internet, etc) looks exactly the same as it did then.
  • MADLAX, released in 2004 the story takes place in 2010.
  • El Cazador de la Bruja released in 2007 and set in 2009.
  • Eden of the East aired in 2009, but is set in 2010 and 2011.
  • Summer Wars, released in 2009, set in 2010.
  • Aphorism is a strange one. It's set almost thirty years into the future, not that anyone would be able to tell since everything looks the same as present day. (The fashion trends are a little skewed, but most people would put that down to Author Appeal. )
  • An interesting case is Yu-Gi-Oh!, which retroactively became this over the course of the series. The manga began in 1996, but the year the series is set in was never actually stated. However, it is eventually said that the game Duel Monsters was created seven years before the start of the series. In the next arc, Kaiba states that the game was created in the mid-1990s. Assuming the card game was created in 1997 (which was the same year as the Defictionalized version was introduced) then the series is mainly set in 2004. Which is amusing, since 2004 is when the first (Duel Monsters) series ended.
  • Air Gear. Anime aired in 2008, a time stamp on an Air Trek ad in the first episode is marked 2010.
  • The Tokkô manga was released in 2004 and the anime first aired in 2006, while the story takes place in 2011.
  • Space Brothers is set in 2025, but looks pretty much identical to the present. The only things that make it look at all futuristic are a few cars with designs that don't exist yet, but still look like ordinary cars.
  • Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is set in 2012 but was aired in 2009. Everything looks identical to 2009, which is rather true in Real Life as well.
  • Your Name: The film premiered in July 2016, had its public Japanese release in August, and mainly takes place in September and October. It is eventually reveals the protagonists' body-swapping travels through time, not just space. Scenes happening in the years 2013, 2016, 2021 and 2022 do not look obviously different from each other.
  • The film Yo-kai Watch: Shadowside - The Return of the Oni King and its series Yo-kai Watch: Shadowside take place 30 years after Yo-Kai Watch. Despite taking place in the 2040s, absolutely nothing has changed in 30 years. The technology and fashion are exactly the same as they were three decades ago.
  • Weathering With You was released in 2019 and takes place in 2021.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor story "Technophobia" plays around with this one. It's Next Saturday for Donna Noble, who's from 2009(ish - see Live Action TV), and the story is set in 2011, showing Donna reacting to things from that time (3-D movies being in vogue, Justin Bieber, Will and Kate) but it's the past for listeners, the story having been released in 2016.

    Comic Books 
  • Button Man takes place "30 seconds into the future".
  • Steve Niles' graphic novel Giant Monster was released in 2008 but set in 2013. The only notable difference is that space travel is slightly more advanced. The politics and culture are all unchanged, though.
  • Brian Wood's DMZ plays this trope to the hilt. The only hint that the setting isn't the present day is the little fact that...America is embroiled in a Second Civil War, and New York City is a bombed-out battlefield.
  • The framing time period in the Mike Allred comic, Red Rocket 7, is said to take place "The day after tomorrow" according to narration of the very first page. Everything seems to be more or less the same as present day aside from the implication it takes place slightly in the future.

    Fan Works 
  • 2025 in Mutant is basically just like 2013, except for the lab that made magic ponies of course.
  • The Fairly OddParents! Fan Fic Wishes was released in 2008 and set in 2017, but technology hasn't advanced at all in it. The only signs of it being in 2017 are what the characters say, and Dallas' high crime-rate.
  • Inverted in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command + Invader Zim + Lilo & Stitch fanfic series Both Syllables, which started posting in 2008 and starts off set in the year 2002 for no real reason (the author doesn't remember a reason, anyway; something to do with the original series' airdates). It has yet to reach the current date.
  • Just about every Death Note Fan Fic set after the epilogue. For example: Kira Is Justice.
  • The Conversion Bureau: Not Alone is set in 2018 but it was released in 2012. There are almost no differences between the release date and the date in the fic.
  • Although it is not explicitly stated, My Little Dashie, released in 2011, takes place from 2011 to 2026, without any changes mentioned.
  • The Legend of Total Drama Island was written in 2010-1?, and the frame story is set in the year 2023 with no mention of intervening progress or events.
  • Chrysalis Visits The Hague was released exactly one year before the first chapter is set, on November 16th, 2014, and there don't seem to be any significant differences between the periods-outside the obvious ones, that is.
  • The Pokémon: The Series oneshot Father's Day was written in 2001 but is set in 2028. It's mentioned that Ash was born in 2012. There's not much futuristic about the Pokémon world aside from video phones and other minor tech upgrades.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Astro (2018) was released in June of 2018, but was set in December of the same year.
  • The What If? Mockumentary Death of a President aired in 2006, but was set in late 2007 and early 2008.
  • Back to the Future:
    • The first film was released on July 3, 1985, but used October 25 & 26, 1985 as the present date. So it was set a little less than four months in the future...
      • According to the DVD commentary, some people actually showed up at Puente Hills Mall, the location used for Twin Pines/Lone Pine Mall, on October 26, 1985 at 1:15 AM to see if anything would happen.
    • And the sequel, made four years later, begins later in the morning of October 26th. The third film (released in 1990) ends the next day, October 27. Given the nature of the plotlines, this hardly matters...
  • Die Hard, released in July 1988, takes place on Christmas Eve of the same year.
  • Terminator:
  • The Neo-Noir gangsta rap flick Belly takes place in late 1999, but the movie was made in 1998.
  • A newspaper headline in Superman Returns explicitly sets the movie in September 2006, a few months after it hit the box office. That it's also occurring five years after Superman II, which undeniably was set in 1981, can be attributed to Comic-Book Time or Broad Strokes.
  • In Disney's Tower of Terror Made-for-TV Movie, released in 1997, the characters refer to the events from the prologue (set on October 31, 1939) as having occurred sixty years ago, which would set the film in 1999. Presumably, this was done so that the film would date less quickly.
  • Predator 2. Released in 1990, set in 1997.
  • The movie Knowing was released in March 2009 but the story takes place in October of the same year.
  • Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah was released in 1991 but set in 1992. The rest of the 1990s movies followed suit, with each film being set the year after it premiered.
  • The Net was made in 1995 but was set between June 11, 1996 and June 10, 1997, and most likely was set in the first three months of 1997. The date of birth for 28-year-old Ruth Marx was shown as June 11, 1968. Most of the film is set in California, and usually in heavy rain, which occurs mostly in the winter there.
  • Multiple scenes in District 9 (released August 2009) are shot on camcorders and CCTV surveillance cams with timestamps in early August 2010. Of course, it's also an Alternate History going back to 1982.
  • After the opening prologue scenes in the first and third X-Men movies, the text "The not too distant future" also appears.
  • Cloverfield was released in January 2008 but is set in May 2008. However, no one informed the viral marketing team, whose plotline revolves around the assumption that the movie takes place in January.
  • Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend was published in 1954 and set 20 Minutes into the Future, in 1976-79, but all three film versions use much smaller gaps. The Last Man on Earth was made in 1964 and set in 1968, The Ωmega Man was made in 1971 but set in 1975-77, and I Am Legend was made in 2007 but set in 2012 with flashbacks to 2009.
  • The 2009 film 2012.
  • Salt (the 2010 movie) is set in 2011.
  • The Shoes Of The Fisherman was released in 1968 but was set in the late 1980s.
  • Time After Time, released in August 1979 was set in the "present" of November 1979.
  • Iron Sky, released in 2012 was set in 2018.
  • Ice Station Zebra could possibly be an example of this given that the plot revolves around the recovery of a very advanced satellite. Also, there is the presence of an African American officer (played by Jim Brown) in a significantly prominent position of command, an occurrence that was unusual for 1968, especially when the character's race wasn't so much as even referred to in the film. Jim Brown has stated that his character was deliberately written this way, even after he was cast. Completely ignoring racial issues is a trope traditionally associated with the future. It still can qualify as this trope instead of only the other related trope since it was merely improbable, but not impossible during the era that the film was actually made.
  • Any Given Sunday was released in 1999 but took place during the latter half of the 2001 AFFA season.
  • Wish I Was Here is an interesting case: The film is set during the week of the 2014 San Diego Comic Con and premiered in January 2014. The catch is that the film's wide release was the week of the 2014 San Diego Comic Con.
  • Broadway Melody of 1936 was released in September 1935.
  • Ex Machina: Director Alex Garland has described the future presented in the film as 'ten minutes from now'. Meaning that 'if somebody like Google or Apple announced tomorrow that they had made Ava, we would all be surprised, but we wouldn't be that surprised'.
  • Draft Day centers around the 2014 NFL Draft. It was released in 2014, before the draft. In the real NFL draft, some people actually referred to this movie.
  • The loose 1995 remake of Kiss of Death begins in the present day (circa '94 or '95), but at one point, it goes several years into the future (the late '90s). Nothing during this period has changed, which is most obviously shown with car thieves still being interested in nothing newer than early-'90s models.
  • The only real evidence that Frankenstein 1970 is supposed to be taking place 12 years in the future is the ease with which Victor is able to purchase a nuclear reactor and have it installed in his castle.
  • Cloud Atlas: "The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish" takes place in 2012; the novel was published in 2004. Ironically, the movie was released in 2012, so the story became a contemporary one, even though it wasn't so in the book.
  • The Equalizer 2: Released in July 2018 and set in September 2018, during North American hurricane season. This comes into play as the film's climax takes place in the middle of a hurricane.
  • Scanners was shot in 1980 and released the following year, but based on statements within the filmnote , it actually takes place in 1983.
  • Rush Hour is an accidental one as it was released in 1998 and its sequel was released in 2001 but takes place immediately after the first film.
  • 2019's Avengers: Endgame takes place mostly in 2023, after a five year Time Skip from Avengers: Infinity War in 2018. This is also the starting point for all MCU movies afterwards. The lack of any huge change is justified as half the universe "skipped" those five years, and everyone who had to take the long way spent the time dealing with the fallout.
  • According to the opening text crawl in the infamously bad film Ax 'Em (which was made in 1992 and released ten years later), the movie takes place in 2003.
  • The final scene in The Godfather Part III is set in 1997, seven years after the film's original release.
  • The Girl From Monday: The setting is a near future US, but aside from VR helmets there's no visible change in what can be seen. Drastic social change has occurred however, but it's not very obvious.
  • Last Ounce of Courage is an unintentional example of this. The beginning flashback sees the main character Bob Revere's son Thomas heading off for war. In the present day, Bob's grandson Christian is fourteen years old. Assuming the beginning flashback takes place in 2003 (since this is when the most recent armed conflict at that time, The War on Terror, was taking place), this would mean the movie takes place in 2017.
  • The James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me was released on July 7, 1977 (7/7/77), but takes place in August 1977, as Bond discovers Fekkesh's daily planner and learns he was planning on meeting Max Kalba on August 3, 1977.
  • Bill & Ted
    • In Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey Ted mentions the princesses are celebrating their fifth year in the 20th century. They arrived in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure which was set in 1988 so Bogus Journey must be set in 1993 when it was released in 1991.
    • In Bill & Ted Face the Music (released and set in 2020), the Great Leader's comment about the concert happening 25 years ago would put Bogus Journey as happening in 1995.
    • Also in Face The Music, the duo travel forward to meet their future selves in various years up to 2067. All of these look the same as modern day.
  • Poltergeist was filmed in 1982 but a poster for the 1988 Superbowl hangs on the childrens' bedroom wall. Notable for being Harsher in Hindsight as the movie's main child actress, Heather O’Rourke got sick and died on the day of the 1988 Superbowl.
  • The Mummy's Tomb is said to be set thirty years after the events of The Mummy's Hand (presumably set in the year it was released, 1940), while the followup to its Immediate Sequel The Mummy's Ghost, The Mummy's Curse is set another twenty-five years after that. This means that The Mummy's Tomb is set in 1970, while The Mummy's Curse is set in 1995. The films make absolutely no attempt to make the setting look any different than the then-present day.
  • Bacurau: Released in 2019. The opening credits say "North East Brazil, a few years from now." There has been some social breakdown, but the technology that we see isn't very far ahead of what we have now.
  • The Fairly OddParents! live action TV movie A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! takes place thirteen years after the series, which apparently takes place in The New '10s nowadays, setting it somewhere in the 2020s. Nothing really seems out of the ordinary for the early 2010s.
  • Fortress (1992): The first film is set in 2017. It was released in 1992. The sequel is from 2000 and set in 2027.
  • Father Karras dies in The Exorcist which was released in 1973 but his gravestone in The Exorcist III lists his death as happening in 1975.
  • Child's Play:
    • 1991's Child's Play 3 picks up eight years after 1990's Child's Play 2 due to them wanting to focus on a teenage Andy going to military school, it does technically make it take place in the year 1998 (thus making the release date of 1998's Bride of Chucky match up seamlessly as it takes place roughly a month after the events of 3).
    • 2004's Seed of Chucky ends with a Time Skip to Glen and Glenda's fifth birthday party in 2009.
  • The 1983 made-for-tv movie The Day After has World War III happen on Saturday, September 16th. The specific year is not mentioned, but can be inferred with a bit of calendar checking.
  • Similarly, to The Day After , the British World War III film Film/Threads, can be dated to 1988 by the title cards, although 1988 is not explicitly mentioned.
  • X-Men: takes place, according to the title card, in "the not too distant future." It looks a lot like 2000, when the film was made.
  • Ghostbusters (1984) was released on June 8, 1984, but takes place in Fall 1984, as evidenced by a USA Today headline in the Good-Times Montage dated October 8, 1984.
  • M3GAN: The film was released in 2023, but an in-universe camera timestamp indicates the film is set in 2025.
  • The first seven Saw movies came out between 2004 and 2010. The actual time scale the movies cover is less than two years, with the next movie sometimes continuing immediately from where the previous ended. Eventually the franchise established that the Jigsaw killings started in the Chinese Year of the Pig, which would have to be 2007, supported by the 2008 recession factoring into the story of Saw VI, which came out in 2009.
  • Cronos: In the newspaper item reporting the death of Jesús Gris, the year of death is listed as 1997, five years after the movie was released.

  • In the Give Yourself Goosebumps book "Tick Tock, You're Dead", an early choice allows you to go to the past or the future. After choosing future, you can end up either in the far future, or simply one day in the future. Since the main character (and presumably the reader) is a child, the main character is disappointed, rather than being able to buy the right stock or stop a catastrophic event from happening.
  • I Am Legend, published in 1954, opens in 1976 and ends in 1979. Despite the large time difference, there's no indication of any technological or social changes taking place between the time of the book's publication and the plague that destroyed civilization.
  • On the Beach, published in 1957, is set in 1963.
  • Most of Stephen King's books have their time set at least a few months after their publication. (e.g. a March-released book is set for that July).
    • Carrie was released in 1974, but set in the late '70s.
    • Under the Dome, released in 2009 is set at some unspecified point in the future, but technology is very nearly the same and Obama is still in office.
  • The short story "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" by Jorge Luis Borges was written in 1941 but has a postscript dated 1947.
  • William Le Queux's novels (of the now forgotten "invasion literature" genre, which dealt with the invasion of Britain by another country): The Great War in England in 1897 (1894) and The Invasion of 1910 (1906).
  • The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex starts in the year 2011, which when the book was published was 4 years away.
  • Night Watch (Series): The first three books were published in 1997/8, but in the second, Anton and Edgar meet in Prague shortly before New Year's Day 2000.
  • French Sci-Fi novel Malevil takes place after a nuclear war on Easter Sunday, 1977, just five years after the novel was published.
  • Time Scout is implied to be set 20 Minutes into the Future, but it's functionally no different from 2000 AD.
  • The War of the Worlds was published in 1898, but set "early in the twentieth century".
  • Cold Comfort Farm (written 1938) is set in an indeterminate future where Clark Gable is dead, there are Video Phones and Flying Cars, and there was a war with Nicaragua back in the 1940s. This is all background stuff that has nothing to do with what the book is actually about, though.
  • Rivers Of Gold, written in 2010 but set in New York of 2013. Played with in that one significant event is said to have happened, a race riot even bigger than the Los Angeles one.
  • World War Z was published in 2006, but appears to be set in the near future due to references to fictional events and a slightly changed geo-political landscape just prior to the major events of the novel. A specific date is never mentioned in the book to date its events, but references to earlier real-life events and the state of technology could set the novel any time from the late 2000s to the mid-2010s.
  • The Long Earth was published in 2012 and puts the discovery of the "stepping box" and the start of the plot in 2015.
  • Strength & Justice is said to have been set in "the distant future", but exactly how distant is not mentioned. What does get mentioned is Bluetooth, iPod, and various other branded objects people of the 2000s would be familiar with.
  • The Man Who Brought the Dodgers Back to Brooklyn was released in 1981, but largely takes place in 1985-88.
  • Replay by Ken Grimwood was published in 1986 and is set over a 25-year period from 1963 to 1988.
  • A Head Full of Ghosts: The book is set fifteen years after the events of the reality show, but it's never stated which year either takes place. Hints ("20—") during the blog sections point to some time in The New Millennium, and there are many references to current pop culture, but it's never clear.
  • The Gam3: An explicit date is not given, but everything we see of Earth is compatible with the year 2015, when the first chapters were published.
  • The controversial French novel Submission by Michel Houellebecq was published in 2015 but deals with the 2022 French presidential election. In their efforts to defeat the far-right National Front, the more liberal parties elect a Muslim candidate, and this results in a peaceful but shockingly quick conversion of the nation to cultural Islam.
  • The comedy novel Techbitch (which was also released as The Knockoff) takes place roughly half a year after its original release date. There are no futuristic elements in the book, which is a perfectly normal chick lit book and is all about contemporary social media like Twitter and Instagram — one possible reason for placing it in the future is that it would quickly place the book in the present for the readers.
  • The epilogue of the last Harry Potter book by J. K. Rowling (published in 2007) would, according to the official timeline, take place in 2017. We don't really get to see what the Muggle world is like by that time, but at the very least they still have cars and driving tests. We've now passed 2017 and, yes, cars and driving tests were just as prevalent as they were in 2007.
  • Isaac Asimov's Pebble in the Sky: The majority of the story takes place in the far-flung future of 827 Galactic Era. Joseph Swartz, a time-traveller from the modern day, is at least fifty thousand years displaced.
  • Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg's The Positronic Man: The book was published in 1993, and cites a Ban on A.I. taking place by 2007. This, however, is merely background information, as the events in the book takes place in the twenty-second century (through to the twenty-fourth century), after the ban has been revoked.
  • Mary Shelley’s The Last Man takes place in the late 21st century, however the world seems to have little advancements in technology, science, politics or society that distinguishes it from the early 19th century.
  • The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennans, the book that was the basis for the musical Damn Yankees, was published in 1954, but set in 1958. The musical, which came out in 1955, "takes place some time in the future" according to the first edition, though the setting is now acknowledged to be The '50s in all non-supernatural aspects.
  • Experimental Film was published in 2015. Most of the book is set in the fall of 2014, but the epilogue takes place at least five years later.
  • The Agent G series takes place in a world identical to our own despite the use of super-technology kept hidden from the public by spies and Megacorp groups. It eventually shifts to a twenty-year time skip where it becomes full-on Cyberpunk.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24 is an unintentional version. Between seasons there are sometimes Time Skips of a year or two while a single summer had passed between one finale and the next premiere in reality, so if we assume the first season took place in the then-present day, the last season is several years ahead of us. This has never been used to establish the series as taking place in a not-like-your-world setting, though it can explain some Acceptable Breaks from Reality that have been seen — maybe in ten years or so, that Qurac will exist or medical science will make it possible to actually take as much punishment as Jack takes and live.
  • Alias debuted in 2001, set in 2001. In the last episode of season 2 the series jumps ahead two years, so although it was airing in 2003 the action took place in 2005. The creators played a little fast and loose with it, eventually re-synching the show and the calendar, only to do another four-month time skip in a later season (to incorporate Jennifer Garner's pregnancy).
  • Believe (aired in 2014), though it's not directly stated. When first introduced, Dani was stated to have been 12 when she accidentally killed her brother. In the finale, her age is stated to be 19, and that same episode she visits her brother's grave — where he's shown to have died in 2011, meaning that she was born in either 1998 or 1999 and therefore putting the present day somewhere between 2017 and 2019.
  • Chouriki Sentai Ohranger: Made in 1995, set in 1999 with Bachsfundo and the Baranoia Machine Empire declaring a Robot War on the world.
  • True of nearly all Time Skip uses. In Desperate Housewives or One Tree Hill the world of five years from now features absolutely no difference in fashion, technology or pop culture.
  • Done once in Criminal Minds, though it was unintentional. The series tends to be done in the present, so "The Big Game" is a bit jarring. The episode was aired right after Super Bowl XLI in 2007, and the events in the episode are depicted as happening right after the game. Fridge Logic reveals that those events had to have happened in the future, since there was no way that all those events could have happened within the running time of the show.
  • The 2017 Netflix original Dark is set in multiple time periods, but the "present" period is set in the year 2019. The second season, similarly, was released in 2019, but the "present time" was set in 2020.
  • The Dawson's Creek finale aired in 2003, and is set in 2008.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The UNIT stories of the Third/Fourth Doctor era seem to take place at some point in the future, but how far is a matter of some considerable debate. This is lampshaded frequently in the revived series, as references back to classic UNIT stories often include some variant of "in the '70s... or was it '80s?"
    • The Seventh Doctor story "Battlefield" takes place some time in his companion Ace's future (which actually includes the broadcast date, oddly enough), but was most likely meant to be the early 1990s. (This was obviously due to the UNIT dating problems.)
    • The Eighth Doctor TV movie is also set in the near-future, having been filmed in 1996, but set on New Year's Eve 1999.
    • Beginning with 2005's "Aliens of London" and ending with either 2008's "Journey's End" or 2009's "Planet of the Dead", the early years of the revived version of the series had a "present day" of about 12 months after airdate. The fourth series (2008) had a "present day" of 2009. note  Notably, some future episodes seem to have forgotten this, leading to a somewhat inconsistent timeline.
      • On the other hand, the Eleventh Doctor's premiere episode, "The Eleventh Hour", has a sizeable chunk that occurs in 2008, two years before the episode aired, and features an Easter Egg acknowledging the timeline in the form of a "Saxon" sticker on the Doctor's "borrowed" fire engine.note 
    • The Ninth Doctor episode "Dalek" and the Tenth Doctor episode "Fear Her" both took place in the year 2012, in the not-so-far future from Rose's perspective (she joins the TARDIS in 2005).
    • "The Hungry Earth"/"Cold Blood" (aired in 2010) take place in 2020, with the only obvious change being the drilling operation that triggers the plot.
    • Beginning in Series 6.5, once Amy and Rory started spending more time off the TARDIS, the timeline started pushing ahead of "ours" again, with months of in-series time passing between the Doctor's visits to them, which happened once a week to the rest of us.
    • Similarly, Clara's time with the Doctor likely took us at least a couple of years into the future: she starts travelling with the Doctor in the broadcast year of 2013, but there's an implied time skip near the end of the Eleventh Doctor's run, and the Twelfth Doctor mentions the year 2016 in 2014's "In the Forest of the Night", with time presumably marching on from there through Series 9. (Similar to the UNIT dates, subsequent material tends to ignore this, as the Doctor never specifically said 2016 was the present day.) The setting synced up with real time again from Series 10.
  • The narrator of How I Met Your Mother never mentions anything dramatically different about the future and portrays it as exactly like the present when he mentions it at all. But then, a father telling his children a bedtime story would not need to remind them about the Zombie Apocalypse that happened last year.
    • In one episode, Ted was at an airport in 2021 where he comments that they live in a time where cell phones can project holograms, but flights are still cancelled due to "drizzle".
    • It's averted in a few one-off gags, actually. Marshall carving a turkey with a lightsaber comes to mind.
  • Season 4 of Lexx (aired in 2001-02) is set in "the very near future". It's basically present-day America with occasional bits of high technology and an amazing amount of moral decay. Also, the Large Hadron Collider was scheduled to turn on later that year, which happened in late 2009 in real life.
  • The Middleman is probably set in 2009 despite its 2008 broadcast date, though it never quite comes out and says so.
  • Most episodes of Millennium (1996) were pretty much set the week after they aired. In the first two seasons, Frank Black's computer shows him at login how many days are remaining until the New Year's Day 2000. Do the math.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): "Falling Star" takes place in 1997 (then one year into the future) but society does not seem to have changed in any noticeable way. The sci-fi elements in the episode come from time travelers from far further in the future.
  • The seventh and final season of Parks and Recreation aired in 2015 but was set in 2017. Since the sixth season was originally meant to be the show's last, this is presumably to give a little time for some events set up in that finale to play out (i.e. Leslie's pregnancy with triplets; the kids are toddlers after the time-skip). This also allows the setting-up of a few dramatic plot-lines (mainly the fact that Leslie and Ron have had a falling out and haven't spoken in two years). The show also takes the opportunity to make a few comedic predictions about 2017, e.g. that holographic tablets will suddenly be both technically possible and cheap enough for everyone to own, or that Game of Thrones goes off the rails and ends with Daenerys marrying Jack Sparrow.
  • In Red Dwarf;
    • Backwards was made in 1989 and mostly takes place in 1993, albeit an alternative version where the universe is now running backwards. So by the end of the episode it's perhaps only Next Friday A.D.
    • Timeslides has the gang travel to a 22nd or 23rd century Earth that looks exactly the same as the modern day.
  • The series Servant of the People has a tagline "The story of the next president" and is set... somewhere within The New '10s. It is pretty much the present day (2015, when the first season was shot).
  • The Time Tunnel premiered in 1966. Its "present" was 1968.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
  • Ultra Series has a few instalments taking place several years way ahead of the real life publication date.
    • Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero, as according to episode 2, is set in the early 2000 AD, particularly about 2003 as of Kemular's appearance.
    • Ultraman Tiga is set in the year 2007-10, despite being filmed in year 1996-97.
    • Being the sequel series to Tiga, Ultraman Dyna was set in the year 2017-20, despite being filmed in year 1997-1998. In fact, despite being taken place 10 years after Tiga from in-universe perspective, none of the original cast shows any sign of aging.
    • Ultraman Gaia is set in 2000-03, but was broadcast from 1998 to 1999.
    • A later entry, Ultraman Nexus takes place in 2008-09. In real life, the series first aired in 2004.
  • The Undeclared War: It is set in 2024, by which time there is a new Prime Minister (Boris Johnson having failed a confidence vote just over a year beforenote ) and a general election is looming.
  • Wild Palms aired in 1993 and was set in 2007.


  • It Could Happen Here: The narration segments start off in 2024, although there are some flash back scenes to shortly after the day the podcast was released. (2019).

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat games tend to be set a few years after their release, with the difference in time becoming larger with each release - compare one year for 1997's Ace Combat 2 to eight for 2007's Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation. They would later slip as the development of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown took so long that it only counts because the story starts in May of 2019, compared to the game's release that January. The big exception in this case is Ace Combat 3, which was launched in 1999 and takes place around 2040.
  • Alcatraz for Amiga, created in 1992, set in 1996.
  • ARMA II was released in mid-2009 and takes place in late 2009. Its expansion pack, Operation Arrowhead, was released in 2010 and set in 2013. The PMC DLC was released in 2010 and takes place in 2013. The first ARMA was an inversion of this trope, being released in late 2006 and set in mid-2006.
  • The "present day" setting of Assassin's Creed is late 2012, a full five years after the first game was released. This one was kind of necessary from the start, mind, as they seem to be aiming for the '2012 End of the Mayan Calendar' thing for something monumental to happen at that time.
    • Assassin's Creed III takes place about the same time it's released, October 30, give maybe a month or two.
    • Similarly, Assassins Creed IV takes place around the time of its release date in late 2013.
  • All mentions to the year Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City occur are shadowed, or mentioned as "Today". Made more jarring that you can visit graveyards and other places where there should be at least the last year's number, but they're all covered in mud or broken.
  • The 2005 game Battlefield 2 is set in 2007.
  • Beyond: Two Souls: The game was released in 2013, but the chronologically last chapters of the game are set in 2014 (starting with Old Friends and ending with Prologue) and 2015 (Epilogue, minus the Sequel Hook).
  • In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007), if Captain Price is to be taken literally about his comments of his wet work mission taking place ten years after the Chernobyl accident, that would place the flashback mission in 1996, putting the date of the rest of the game in 2011. The sequels, Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 3 (2009 and 2011, respectively) are both set in 2016, with the last mission in the third going on to 2017.
    • The two rebooted timeline installments were released in 2019 and 2022 respectively, and their campaigns take place in the same year they were released.
  • Certain dish/restaurant descriptions in Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2 (2017) imply that the series takes place somewhere in the mid to late 21st century (the latest years given for events in said descriptions are in the 2030s). Yet the kitchen equipment and restaurant decor is hardly different than what existed at the time of the game's release.
  • ESP Ra.De., a 1998 game, takes place in 2018, and the only real indication that it could be the future is the presence of the Yaksa war machines. However, as of the M2 ShotTriggers ports, which were released in 2019, it's now 20 Minutes into the Past.
  • Fahrenheit, released in 2005, was set in 2009.
    • An oddity is that although the main character is a young man, but his flashback scenes seem to take place in the 1940s and 1950s, as said flashback scenes take place at a military base and the soldiers are dressed like they're in World War II.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's 3 is set thirty years after Freddy Fazbear's Pizza from the original game shuts down. Although the exact year of the first game is ambiguous (aside from being beyond 1987), it's thought to take place in 1993, meaning 3 happens in 2023.
  • Most entries in the Ghost Recon game series take place a few years after their release. The first Ghost Recon was released in 2001 and is set in 2008, Desert Siege and Island Thunder were released in 2002 and are set in 2009 and 2010, Jungle Storm was released in 2004 and is set in 2010, the first GRAW was released in 2006 and is set in 2013, GRAW 2 was released in 2007 and is set in 2014, and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier was released in 2012 and set in 2024. Ghost Recon Wildlands is the closest thing the series has to an exception, releasing in 2017 and taking place in 2019.
  • Every numbered Grand Theft Auto title (and every title in the HD universe) were set in the same year as their initial release date, usually set before or around them. The Ballad of Gay Tony was the only HD-universe exception which was set in a year before its release.
  • Half-Life, released in late 1998, takes place on May 16, 200X.
    • Which doesn't stop Black Mesa from utilising technology that was outdated even by '98 standards (such as punchcard computers). Could be justified in being legacy equipment where the costs of upgrading would be greater than the benefits of it.
  • Heavy Rain was released in early 2010. The first Origami murder occurred in fall of 2009. The game takes place in late 2011.
  • Hong Kong '97, made in 1995, set about then. Part of the plot states that China is turning the deceased "Tong Shau Ping" (Deng Xiaoping) into the ultimate weapon, the weird part being that Deng actually died in 1997.
  • The House of the Dead was released in 1996, and set on December 16, 1998. The House of the Dead 2 was released in 1998 and set on February 26, 2000.
    • House of the Dead 3 and 4 abandoned this with 3 being set in an apocalyptic future and 4 being set in the past three years after 2.
  • The Zombie Apocalypse in the prologue of The Last of Us happens around September-October of 2013, only 4 months or so after the game's initial release in Real Life. Furthermore, even though the rest of the game takes place 20 years later, it still falls into this trope due to human development and culture having halted since the apocalypse.
  • Left 4 Dead is set "two weeks after first infection", which for a while after release was ever-shifting because they would sneak in updates to the dates on death notices via patches every few months. If the Midnight Riders' blog is taken as canon, it takes place in 2009, the year after the first game's release, making it this trope for that game, but not for Left 4 Dead 2, which came out that year.
  • Left on Read was released on May 2020, but takes place all the way up to August 2020.
  • Metal Gear games have always been set a few years after their release dates, at least, the ones in which Solid Snake or Raiden is the main character.
  • While the plotline of Night in the Woods begins in late October of 2017, the game was released in February 2017. While the game is set in a World of Funny Animals, it's otherwise very similar to our modern day.
  • Persona: The third and fourth games play this straight for varying reasons, while the first, second, and fifth games avert it.
    • Persona 3 was first released in 2006, but takes place across 2009-2010. Since you battle the major bosses of the game during full moons, and the moon itself is a massive plot point, this year was likely chosen because both December 2009 and January 2010 were the closest to the release date to have full moons at the very end of those months. The player gets The Reveal on the Final Boss on New Year's Eve, while the True Final Boss is fought on January 31st.
    • Along the same lines, Persona 4 was first released in 2008, but takes place in 2011-2012. This was likely done because 2011 was the only year until 2016 that would allow the cast of 4 to visit 3's setting of Port Island without running into any members of SEES at Gekkoukan High School. In contrast, Persona 4: Arena was released at almost the exact date that the game itself takes place in, while Persona 4: Dancing All Night inverts this by being released in 2015 while being set during Golden's epilogue (Summer of 2012).
    • Persona (1996) and the Persona 2 duology (1999-2000) avert this; the former is set at an unspecified time in 1996, while the Innocent Sin half of the latter is set during right before the summer of 1999, since the Grand Cross configuration serves as a major plot point. Eternal Punishment is either set later in 1999 or early in 2000, since an NPC at the beginning of the game mentions the Grand Cross already happening at that time.
    • Subverted with Persona 5, originally released in 2016. While the year listed in the in-game calendar is "20XX", the dates all line up with the 2016 calendar. It should be noted that the game was originally slated for a 2014 release, though. As with the Dancing example above, this gets inverted with its storyline sequel Persona 5 Strikers; originally released in 2020, the game's story is said to take place half a year after the events of Persona 5. As such, it can be inferred that it takes place around Summer 2017, almost 3 years prior to its real-world release date.
  • Police Quest: SWAT 2 released in 1998, set in 1999.
  • The first Resident Evil game was released in 1996, but set in July 1998. 2 was released in January 1998, but its story was set 8 months later in the same year.
    • And then averted with 3, Code Veronica, Gun Survivor and the two Outbreak games, which all take place in that same year. Within the same week for all but Gun Survivor and Code: Veronica, even.
    • Every numbered main installment of the franchise (since 4) seems to be set months later in the same year (or next year) from its initial release.
  • The original Rise of the Triad was released in 1994-1995 and, according to its opening, is set "one year in the future".
  • Spider-Man (PS4) begins in October (specifically October 3rd, assuming the calendar in Peter's apartment in the beginning is accurate) 2018, about a month after the game's release. Halloween passes at about the halfway point, and presumably the game ends in November. This would place the "three months later" Playable Epilogue in February 2019.
  • The first four games in the Splinter Cell series are set two years after its respective release date. Later games slipped, with Conviction only taking place one year after its 2010 release, and parts of Blacklist taking place the year before its 2013 release.
  • Terra Invicta's start date is September 30, 2022, just four days after its release on September 26. The game even shows the Russo Ukrainian War ongoing (which started earlier that year, well after development began).
  • Atlus's Trauma Center series all take place about a decade after their original release date. For example, Second Opinion takes place in 2018 though it was released in 2006. Despite the fair time gap, much non-medical technology in the series seems to be on-par with the modern world.
  • Undertale was released in 2015, and near the end of the game it is revealed that it is taking place an unspecified number of years after 201X, the date given in the prologue.
  • Walker: Romping through several time periods in a giant robot, the contemporary setting appears to be the (first) Gulf War and is set "tonight".
  • X-COM: UFO Defense was released in 1993, and started in 1999. Pretty much all commercially available technology and base structures are realistic. You can research weapon-grade lasers and automatic medipaks very fast, but then again, you control a UN-funded military organisation in a state of war. The only break in reality is the anti-grav elevators, but those were probably used because normal elevators would have had too many issues with the engine.
    • The series reboot, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, was released in 2012, and its campaign starts on the first of March, 2015. Aside from the fact that female operatives are available for recruitment from every national military supporting the XCOM Project, including from a number of countries which don't allow women to serve in combat roles in Real Life, 2015 looks a lot like 2012.
  • The Yakuza series usually set their games in the same year they are released in Japan, with the only major exception being Yakuza 0 on account of it being a prequel. Yakuza: Like a Dragon barely just avoids this trope by the skin of its teeth; while the game was released January 2020, its story takes place in-game one year prior in January 2019. Its spinoff series Judgment does this as well, with Lost Judgment being the first to play this trope straight for international audiences thanks to being released worldwide at launch rather than just in Japan.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Ace Attorney series takes place mainly from 2016-2019 in the original trilogy and 2026-2028 in the second trilogy. The date is never explicitly stated, but the climactic case of the first game is set fifteen years to the day after a specific incident which is said to have occurred in 2001 (incidentally, the year in which the game was first published). Nothing has really changed from the present day other than a ridiculously unbalanced court system and that cell phone technology has regressed to late 1990's level. Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth note  manages to make it even more confusing by having a flashback case that's set early in Edgeworth's career in 2012. Despite taking place years before even the first game where fairly simple cell phones and low-quality VHS footage are the best you'll see, you will encounter a modern HDTV in the defendant's lobby during the investigation. The series finally starts to settle into more appropriate technology by the 3DS series, where computers have flat-screen monitors and Ema is seen using a smartphone or small tablet in Spirit of Justice (although these games are set in 2027 and 2028, so by then they'll probably ended up dated all over again).
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc was released in 2010, with Makoto's computer desktop in the opening section displaying chat logs that indicated the in-game year was also 2010. However, towards the end of the game we learn that around two years have passed since our protagonists enrolled at Hope's Peak Academy (although they've somehow been induced to lose all memories of everything that's happened since they first stepped through the doors), meaning that the events of the game actually take place in or around 2012.

  • Bad Machinery is set "three years after the end of Scary Go Round YES THE FUTURE" (SGR was explicitly set in the present at the time of its drawing), but this is just to make a Time Skip that means the characters have developed since then. The cartoonist admits that he "doesn't know what the future will be like, so he draws it exactly like the present day." In webcomic time, the first story is set in autumn 2012.
  • The Just Before the End Distant Prologue of Stand Still, Stay Silent is implied to happen at such a time. The actual date is concealed via Hit So Hard, the Calendar Felt It and the new calendar starting the day Iceland closed its borders to stop the spread of The Plague, making most of the prologue happen in early Year 0. The Plague is otherwise all over the news, which excludes The Present Day. A document from Year 0 using the Old World calendar (the one known to the reader as A.D.) is eventually shown, with the two first numbers of the year being "20" and the two last being unreadable. The technology level fits 2013, the year the pages from the prologue were published.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-4669 is set sometime after the 2020s, being that Elon Musk's death in 2026 is mentioned as having been caused by SCP-4669.
  • Chaos Fighters II: Historical Chronicles-Beyond The Earth is a National Novel Writing Month 2011 entry set in 2012.
  • Deviant takes place in 2025, a scant six years away from when the first chapter was published.
  • Discounting flashbacks note  Funny Business takes place in the year 2026, however the only difference from modern technology is that quantum computers are apparently in some measure of public use.
  • Neopets has an in-universe example in one of its items. A book, "Jump Into the Future", is described as a comedian's take on life in Year 20 (2018). The item was put into circulation in Year 2 (2000)note , and was retired (that is, it no longer restocks in shops and can only be obtained pre-owned from other users) long before the actual Year 20 came.
  • They tried to do this in the Whateley Universe. The first term of school is set in fall 2006, while the first stories came out in 2003 or 2004. But they've written so many stories with so many characters that they're still in winter 2006! Now they've just barely gotten to 2007, with some 2006 winter break stories still in the pipeline.

    Western Animation