When an idea is originally presented in a work of fiction, the creators probably thought it was the most insane, off the wall suggestion possible. But due to the influence of Values Dissonance and Technology Marches On over time, the ideas presented, whether they be from a mental patient, a Strawman Political, or just a cultural trend of the future that shows how low we've sunk, seem outright reasonable. In any case, the original author certainly didn't think so.
See also: Accidentally Correct Writing, Hilarious in Hindsight, Harsher in Hindsight, "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny, Science Marches On, Strawman Has a Point, It Will Never Catch On, Values Resonance, and The Cuckoolander Was Right.
- One of the "Why haven't you called GEICO?" ads from 2004 featured a fake reality show called Tiny House. The ad was a good take on typical ads for reality shows of the time and probably fooled many people. The concept presented was two newlyweds who have to live together for one year in the titular tiny house. "The drama will be real... but it won't save you any money on car insurance." However, just look at the related videos on YouTube and you'll see a bunch of listings about actual tiny houses. Since the airing of the ad, an actual "tiny house movement" has gained a lot of traction, as well as actual reality shows about tiny houses such as Tiny House Nation.
- The Area 88 manga treated the use of armed drones in combat as alarming and strange. In the 21st century, drones are now an accepted part of warfare.
- Gasaraki managed to do this three times, first with the U.S. invading a Middle Eastern country similar to Iraq on the basis of them having weapons of mass destruction, which turned out never to have existed, the use of unmanned flying drones becoming popular for use in the Army, and the idea that the U.S. could be nearly crippled by a global economic collapse. The only thing that hasn't happened yet is the Mini-Mecha for use in urban combat and we're not that far from them either: many developed nations have the active research programs about them.
- The Batman story, "The Laughing Fish", where The Joker tries to declare the titular fish his intellectual property, sounded utterly ridiculous when first released and still did even in the 1990s, when it was adapted by the animated series. But today, Joker's demand doesn't seem that unreasonable at all on the face of it, considering that many corporations routinely use genetic mapping to patent animal species as a matter of course.note
- Dick Tracy had a seemingly far-fetched wristwatch video cellphone called the "Two-Way Wrist TV" that looked fantastical at the time, but now...
- In the Tintin graphic novel Destination Moon, Captain Haddock spends a lot of time ranting about how crazy Professor Calculus is for seriously attempting to send people to the moon. To anyone reading the book after 1969, Haddock is the one who sounds like a raving maniac.
- Watchmen is an Alternate Timeline where the existence of costumed heroes and superheroes have a dramatic impact on the 20th century. One of the "Golden Age" heroes, Hollis Mason, a.k.a. Nite Owl, publicly retires and says he's going to run a car repair shop because it's simpler and car engines aren't going to radically change anytime soon. Dr. Manhattan, whose powers include matter manipulation, casually states that he is working on improving battery quality and synthesizing massive quantities of lithium and in the next few years (remember it's the '60s) electric cars make their way on the market. The idea of electric car proliferation was seen as every bit as fantastical as genetic engineering and Dr. Manhattan himself.
- An even more extreme example is a 1920 British newspaper cartoon which considers the impact of mobile phones, which had just been announced as a possibility in the future, and has them going off during weddings, in theaters, etc.
- Garfield: In one cartoon, Jon buys a "battery-powered battery charger", which is presented as a typical example of his gullibility. Nowadays, it's fairly common for people to carry portable battery packs with which to recharge batteries in cell phones and other portable electronics when there's no electrical outlet handy.
- Shock Treatment is a strange 1981 film and sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show dealing with an everyday man being put through televised therapy and his girlfriend going fame mad after appearing on it. While there's something of a game show feel to the whole thing, it is otherwise a freakishly close to home prediction of tabloid TV, especially shows like Dr. Phil.
- The ubiquitous cell phones in Clueless were meant to show how spoiled and wealthy the teenage characters were. Nowadays, people are more likely to be weirded out by the phones' size and outdated design rather than their presence.
- Heathers got made in the first place only because the idea of white, mid- to upper class high-schoolers killing each other was considered patently absurd. Post-Columbine, depending on the viewer's opinion, the movie either turns into Dude, Not Funny!, or is instead all the funnier for its painful accuracy.
- The film Network, which revolves around the exploitation of a mentally unstable newscaster by a TV network for ratings, with events that would have been viewed as far-fetched back in the 1970s. Fast forward to the 21st century, where reality TV shows ridicule and shame their contestants for sensational TV, and 24-hour news networks have commentators ranting about the state of the world and what's wrong with it, and Network comes off as far less outrageous. Even the darkly comedic ending, which has the network executives deciding to kill off the madman because the ratings for his TV show are dropping, and making his killers the stars of one of the network's reality shows in order to boost that show's ratings, seems scarily plausible. Just look up what happened to R. Budd Dwyer.
- Demolition Man presents the absolutely absurd idea that Arnold Schwarzenegger became President of the USA... and when the main character asks how it happened, they say that he became Governor of California first. It's still unconstitutional for an immigrant to be president, though.
- Several works of fiction that featured black presidents in a contemporary setting were often ridiculed for being unrealistic or overly optimistic about attitudes towards race.
- The Siege was about a terrorist attack against New York City, three years before 9/11. However, the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, so the film had a precedent.
- The Disney Channel original movie Pixel Perfect features a Virtual Celebrity who is entirely holographic. But that's just science fiction and could never happen in real life, right? Right?
- Tomorrow Never Dies (1997): Although it doesn't mention the Internet at all, this film paints a surprisingly accurate picture of mass media scaremongering tactics today. Elliot Carver's line "Words are the new weapons; satellites, the new artillery" seemed plain hammy when first released, but the rise of 24-hour news networks, TV political pundits, increasingly polarized news judgments, and electronic warfare make it harder than ever. In addition to that, the major reason why the villain launches his whole scheme is because China refused to allow him access into their markets, similar to how many Western companies are either banned or must submit to heavy Chinese regulation to be able to operate within China today.
- Spaceballs (1987) has the joke about the silly password "12345", which is the code to both Druidia's air supply and President Skroob's luggage, that even some of the villains mock. Today it is one of the most common passwords, to the chagrin of network security experts everywhere.
- Americathon (1979) predicted several things: the rise of China as an economic superpower, the growth of U.S. public debt, high energy prices, the decline of tobacco and the growing acceptability of marijuana, and the collapse of the USSR.
- Back to the Future: In-Universe, Doc Brown ridicules the notion that Ronald Reagan will become President of the United States, which would've been far-fetched in the 1950s but becomes an intentional bit of irony for viewers from the 1980s.
- Fahrenheit 451 falls into Forgotten Trope territory. The TV sets in the movie were, in context of the fifties, ridiculously gigantic, and viewers would just look at them in awe of how unnecessarily large and room-centering they are. Today, TVs of such size are commonplace, and this is not something a modern viewer is likely to catch on to without knowledge of the original context.
- The Mote in God's Eye featured a parody of wine snobs, a "coffee connoisseur". When it was published, in the 1970s, the idea of someone taking coffee that seriously was inherently comical.
- The novel A Tale of Time City features a 42nd-century treat called a "butter-pie."note It is essentially a chilled cake on a stick, with a warm, buttery center. Not long after the book's writing, the "lava cake" became popular — a cake with a solid exterior and molten interior. The only true difference between the two is the stick.
- A Jules Verne example is the posthumously published Paris in the Twentieth Century. Part of the reason the publisher rejected it whilst Verne was alive was that it was too unbelievable. Many modern commentators love to point out, however, just how accurate and resonant it is. (At the same time, others point out the things he missed, as well as the unbelievably pessimistic outlook, part of the reason the book got rejected in the first place!)
- In the third Deathworld book (published in 1968), when Jason talks about how rich the uranium ore on another planet is, Meta says that a certain detail he mentions is obvious nonsense, and Jason admits he exaggerates. The detail is... that the ore can be used in reactors unrefined.
- One of the tales of Hans Christian Andersen was entitled "In a Thousand Years". In it a couple on an aircraft visit the ruins of Europe. Do remember this was a long time before anything like an aircraft existed, and reads so naturally, some editions with drawings include a picture of a couple in a modern airplane seat with this story.
- In the 1946 short story "A Logic Named Joe" by Murray Leinster, the network of "logics" (i.e. computers) suddenly develops greatly enhanced information processing abilities and starts providing information on everything from how to cure hangovers to how to commit an untraceable murder, which threatens to create problems much like those associated with the darker aspects of the modern Internet. On a lighter side, one popular use of "logics" is to rewatch past episodes of TV shows and/or cartoons. Video streaming, anyone?
- A scene Douglas Adams wrote for Life, the Universe and Everything, but which didn't make it into the finished book, was written as Arthur's diary, and had him complaining that the pen Slartibartfast gave him kept writing words on its own based on what it thought he was thinking. Yes, Adams predicted predictive text.
- Come to think of it, the titular Great Big Book of Everything from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series predicted both The Other Wiki and ebook readers. About the only thing it got wrong was the Guide being a single-purpose device rather than software installed on a portable computer, although there have been occasional attempts at making a dedicated "Wikipedia browser" device using obsolete PDA and e-reader parts, and it must be said that even with current technology a handheld device storing a complete offline copy of what's implied to be a truly enormous amount of data wouldn't have the storage space to be useful for much else anyway.note The prop used in the TV series even looks a bit like the early laptop and handheld computers that would become available in the late 80s and early 90s.
- The first scene of Get Smart (the 1965 series) involves the absolutely crazy idea of... a telephone ringing in the audience at a concert.
- How about a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch about furries? Which was a parody of documentaries at the time about homosexuality using a "ridiculous" invented alternative subculture.
- Not the Nine O'Clock News later did the same thing but with fat (or stout) people as an oppressed group, and much the same defictionalization has since happened with the obesity debate.
- Back in the day, The Two Ronnies did a sketch about the absolutely ludicrous idea of people paying money for bottled water, and paying large amounts for "expensive" bottles of water. Who Would Be Stupid Enough?? Bottle water was also popular for centuries during the Enlightenment and Victorian eras. This was mainly because city water supplies were also as bad as dehydration. It was only around the time that water purification was done on a large scale that bottled water fell out of popularity. Or in other words, someone drinking from a public fountain is an example of this.
- In The Dick Van Dyke Show episode "The Plots Thicken", Rob is flabbergasted while talking to a funeral home on the phone. After he gets off, he tells Laura, "How do you like that?! They have a layaway plan. You pay now, and go later." Nowadays, many people prepay for their "final expenses" without a second thought.
- The Doctor Who story "The Chase" begins with Ian bopping to The Beatles on the timescanner. When he jokingly remarks that future girl Vicki has probably never heard of the Beatles she is indignant: "Of course I know about them. I've been to their Memorial Theatre in Liverpool. But I never knew they played classical music!" The idea of a memorial concert hall doesn't seem so silly in the 21st century.
- The 2004 Jonathan Creek episode "Gorgon's Wood" had David Renwick satirise Reality Shows by imagining the most grotesquely unpleasant and gratuitous programme for Adam Klaus to be stuck on. In Animal Farm, Klaus literally has to live like a pig. A mere five years later, BBC Three created My Life as an Animal.
- The KYTV episode "2000 'n' Whither" made as many intentionally ludicrous predictions about the future as it could - one of them being ransomware.
- The Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In news segment featured news items twenty years in the future. In a late 1968, show they reported (for the lols, obviously) that Ronald Reagan would be president and that the Berlin Wall would come down. Twenty years later, give or take a month or so, guess what happened.
- A political sketch on German TV featured a strange auction: prices went down. Punchline was that the unemployed bid on the payment for a job. This was decades before "My Hammer" and the likes. For "standard" jobs, the thought is still a satire, but turbo capitalism marches on...
- Eric Prydz' video for his Cover Version of Pink Floyd's Proper Education showing kids committing vandalism by showing eco-friendly solutions in a tower block was seen as a bit eccentric in 2006, but 13 years later, when Greta Thunberg started to come into the public eye, it proved they were a bit ahead of their time, considering that in 2006, it was still the remnants of the War on Terror era, and that being "green" was seen as uncool.
- When Frank Zappa released We're Only in It for the Money on May 4, 1968, a lot of people thought he had Jumped the Shark due to the number of songs describing police killing hippies. Just over two years later on May 4, 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen shot and killed four students at Kent State University.
- Tom Lehrer wrote a song called "George Murphy" in 1965, including it on his album That Was the Year That Was; it's a satiric mockery of an ex-showtunes star turned (Republican) senator and his statements about importing cheap Mexican labor to displace American farmers. Fifteen years later Ronald Reagan was president and illegal immigration "taking jobs from Americans" had become a hot topic in American politics. In fact the lyrics to "George Murphy" include the opening lines:
Hollywood's often tried to mix
Show business and politics
From Helen Gahagan
To... [laugh] Ronald Reagan?!
- On the other hand, "MLF Lullaby" mistrustfully satirizes the supposedly peaceful intentions of the German military, an attitude which undoubtedly was quite reasonable in the wake of World War II, but feels rather paranoid and out of place to modern listeners who may not even remember a time before the Berlin Wall fell.
- One episode of The Goon Show had Seagoon receive a telephone call on a phone he was carrying in his pocket. Random surrealism in the 1950s; daily life for millions in the 2010s.
- The Shadow regularly included storylines intended to be as shocking and outlandish to the listening audience as possible; storylines such as... a town being afflicted with drug addicts (opium, from which the street drug known as heroin would later be derived), a politician being snagged in a bribery scandal (decades before Abscam), identity theft (with deceased people's passports rather than Social Security numbers) and counterfeit money plaguing a city. There was also a story about a shell-shocked veteran taking to shooting people with a silenced sniper rifle from high buildings, anticipating several all-too-real incidents of crime and terrorism by decades.
- In a 1998 installment of the web humor column The Book of Ratings, the "Mystical Creatures" rating contains a sarcastic quip about vampires going the way of the unicorn: "If it hasn't happened already, in a few months look for airbrushed posters of sad vampires in Wal-Marts everywhere, and in a decade look for female college students saying to each other "Were you into vampires when you were nine? Me too! We were such dorks!" Yeah, about that...
- In January 2000, The Onion ran an article titled "Area Man Consults Internet Whenever Possible". The idea was to satirize people who were obsessed with the Internet and made a point of using it for routine tasks. Some of the things Area Man uses the Internet for in the article are checking on movie times, getting directions, getting recipes, looking up colleges, and looking up word definitions in other words, things that everybody would eventually use the Internet for all the time just a few years later.
- One episode of The Critic, from 1994, includes a quick joke about Ridiculous Future Sequelisation. The film in question? Home Alone 5. Home Alone (which at the time only had one sequel) hit its fifth installment in 2012, and released a sixth film in 2021.
- On Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, Dick Dastardly had essentially the World War I version of the cell phone. The short "Ice See You" implies that it's a video cell phone.
- In an episode of Doug, Doug's grandma, who is presented as a wild and crazy Cool Old Lady with a taste for the exotic, takes Doug to the most unimaginable and unusual place possible for lunch: a sushi restaurant. Fast forward to the 2010s, and sushi has become a mainstay of American cuisine, so much so that it would be more unusual for a kid of Doug's age to not know what sushi was.
- The Simpsons:
- The show unintentionally predicted Disney buying 20th Century Fox in the 1998 episode "When You Dish Upon a Star".
- The Flash Forward episode "Bart to the Future" from 2000 had Lisa Simpson becoming President of the United States, struggling to resolve problems caused by her predecessor, Donald Trump. In 2016, Trump was elected president, defying all expectations. Writer Dan Greaney said in an interview that he'd chosen Trump as president because it "just seemed like the logical last stop before hitting bottom. It was pitched because it was consistent with the vision of America going insane."
- One episode of Doc McStuffins revolves around a toy who doesn't want to be taken to the toy hospital because she's afraid she'll get sick there. The other toys reassure her that she has nothing to worry about, as a hospital is a place to help you get better, not someplace where you'll get sick. However, in the real world there's been a deepening public health crisis involving antibiotic-resistant infections people have picked up while staying in hospitals, and the Center for Disease Control estimates there are as many as 90,000 deaths a year from diseases acquired in hospitals. Given this, adult viewers in the know could easily see this toy's concern as being legitimate, especially given that they're taking her to a hospital she hasn't been able to personally check into to see if it's up to standard.
- In the 1980s, there was a public service announcement-style movie shown in Australian schools about understanding the coercive influence of advertising. In order to illustrate the point, it included an attractive phony advertisement for the craziest product imaginable: bottled water.
- Paleo-artist Luis Rey (whose work is, among many others, featured in Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages) had been blacklisted by the British paleontologist community in the '90s because he gave his dinosaurs feathers and flamboyant colors. But Science Marches On, some dinosaurs are now known to have been very crazy-looking, and today this highly popular and sought-after dino artist actually considers his work to be rather conservative.
- Arthur C. Clarke once said that we'd have a working Space Elevator about 50 years after everyone stopped ridiculing the very notion. Almost everyone has.