So it seems that something really, really bad is going to go down in the future. How do we know? Because the future sent something or someone back into the past telling us it's going to.
Sometimes the message (or item, person, etc.) is intentionally sent, often as a plea for the people in the past to kindly do something to prevent the Bad Future or as a warning to prepare for it. In those cases it's more likely to be acted on and serve as the reason the rest of the story happens.
Other times it's accidentally sent, in which case it's more of a tossup as to whether or not it'll be seen by anyone other than the audience and whether or not anyone in the story will act upon it. If it isn't and/or they don't, it's used a form of creepy Foreshadowing by the writer.
The trope is distinguished from prophecies and precognitive visions of the future in that it's usually clear—or at least intended to be—and is depicted as originating from the future using some form of Time Travel, rather than being glimpsed by someone in the present with mystical or psychic powers.
As with many Time Travel tropes, the classic Grandfather Paradox may be invoked with this one, since if any message or what-have-you is sent back to the past to prevent something from happening, and that something is precisely WHY said message was sent back to the past in the first place, then logically a successful prevention of the future events would mean that the future that the message came from never existed, and thus there was no message sent from the future, which would mean that the future events WOULD take place, so on and so forth.
When the Jacob Marley Warning involves Time Travel, it serves as a subtrope. See also Future Loser and Future Me Scares Me, who can serve as the message in question.
Fling a Light into the Future is the trope for any inversion with the past sending an ominous message into the future. Also see Conqueror from the Future if the "message" is someone from the future coming back to the past to take it over. For the reverse, see Write Back to the Future.
- In Dragon Ball Z, Trunks is Vegeta and Bulma's son from 20 years in the future and goes back in time to warn the Z Fighters that they have three years until a pair of androids built by Dr. Gero-a mad scientist with a grudge against Goku and his friends-are unleashed, and begin their killing spree by murdering all of Goku's friends and family (With the exception of Bulma, Trunks, Gohan, and Goku, the latter of whom was killed by a heart virus that Future Trunks also came with a warning about).
- In one episode of Noein, after things start getting strange, Haruka asks her mother if she's ever encountered anything paranormal, and her mother mentions that her old house phone once rang, even though it was unplugged. At the end of the episode, the same unplugged phone rings again when Haruka's alone, so she picks it up, and realizes the person on the other side is her mother in the past. Haruka's mother is puzzled, while Haruka is very amused by the situation... and then her mother gets disconnected, and Haruka finds herself talking to herself from an alternate future. Her future self sounds so sad, and combined with the advice she offers, our Haruka is left quite shaken up by a vague hint at something terrible.
- In Orange, Naho (and as it later turns out, her other friends) get mysterious letters that were written by their future selves, sent back to them to tell them about Kakeru, a new transfer student. The letters explain things about Kakeru, about what happens on certain days and implore them to change how things went down on that day as their future selves are full of regret, thinking that if they can change those days, Kakeru will not die, like he did in their time.
- This idea forms the key link in Destiny of the Doctor, a series of audio plays released by Big Finish in the run-up to the show's fiftieth anniversary; each audio sees the first ten Doctors (omitting the War Doctor) receiving brief messages from the Eleventh Doctor, asking them to ensure that a particular person or object survives what threat the Doctor is about to deal with, which allows the Eleventh Doctor to set up a complex plan that saves the universe from a race of pan-dimensional insects that sought to destroy history.
- In Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, a message is sent back by an unknown person full of warnings about things the Lost Light should not do or else Bad Things will happen. Unfortunately nobody hears it and the Lost Light crew merrily goes about unwittingly doing more and more of them over the course of the series.
"Don't open the coffin. Don't let them take Skids. Don't go to Delphi. And do not—I repeat, do not—look in the basement. And for the sake of the Cybertronian race itself, please don'tkzzzzzzzk"
- The source of the message is eventually shown to be a subversion, as it is actually being sent from the distant past by a time-travelling group of Lost Lighters, after having done all the things that the message was trying to warn them about.
- Notably, immediately after they send the message, Cyclonus blows up on them that everything they went through had a “net positive outcome”, and that they’d better hope their future/past selves never receive it: if they avoid doing all those bad things, all the good they ended up doing as a result will never happen. If they’d successfully kept hold of Skids, for example, then they wouldn’t have been in place to stop Chief Justice Tyrest’s plan to exterminate half the Cybertronian race.
- Robin (1993): On his sixteenth birthday Tim receives a message claiming to be from the future saying one of his allies is going to turn into a murderer. He becomes skeptical of it right away due to Bruce trying to act like Time Travel is impossible despite being on a team with a time traveler and the whole thing turns out to be a test from Bruce to supposedly check if Tim would do the right thing and not blindly stand by him if he turned villain. Considering Tim did not blindly stand by him when he was previously accused of murder and that he decided to gaslight Tim for a birthday present Tim gets understandably pissed and quits as Robin. They're supposed to be partners and allies, and Bruce isn't acting that way.
- In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Days Of Future Smurfed", Empath receives a message supposedly from his future self (actually his great-grandson disguised as an elderly Empath) that he is going to be the only survivor of his generation of Smurfs by 2005 and that the Smurf Village will be destroyed several centuries from the present time of the series. Realizing that this future may be unalterable, Empath uses a memory crystal to store all the future memories he was given into so that whoever finds the crystal will know the entire history of the Smurfs. As a bit of Recursive Canon, a young boy who turns out to be Peyo is given the crystal and thus creates an entire franchise of The Smurfs out of that history.
- In the Heroes/Buffy the Vampire Slayer crossover series Interventions, the Heroes characters essentially deliver this in the first story, although Peter Petrelli is the only one who explicitly tells Buffy that they are from the future and only does that after the First has been defeated.
- In Return to Hinamizawa, Miaka finds a newspaper dated five days in the future, predicting her own death. She then has to decide whether it's a real example or an elaborate fake — and one problem is that she refuses to believe that Time Travel is real.
- In the Supernatural fic "A Case of Do or Die", Sam uses the spell that Henry used to travel into the future to go back in time to 1987 and ask John Winchester to perform the trials necessary to close the Gates of Hell. With the aid of Dean and Sam's notes of the future, John is able to not only complete the Trials, but makes contact with Tessa and Gabriel for their help at key moments and releases Benny from Purgatory while directing him to Lenore's nest for help abstaining from human blood, culminating in Meg being the demon he cures for the Third Trial.
- "Harry Potter and the Ritual of Love's Memory" opens with most of Harry's friends being killed during the raid on Gringott's and the subsequent battle at Hogwarts, leaving Harry on the run with his few remaining allies of George Weasley, Angelina Johnston and Luna Lovegood. Seeking a way to avert this version of events, they find a ritual that allows someone to send a memory of a key moment with a loved one back to an earlier version of themselves, essentially intended to encourage people to have more time with the one they love. Choosing a memory of his first day as a couple with Ginny as he distinctly recalls thinking about horcruxes at that moment, Harry is able to send the memory back to the day after the first Triwizard task, creating hope that his past self will be able to use that advance knowledge to turn the tables on Voldemort.
- In The Faith Chronicles, the warning sent back in "2010" is even more ominous; where the canon version was just a note, this version has Faith's future self come through the Stargate and get shot from the other side of the gate, dying in front of SG-1 and her own past self, living just long enough to pass on a vague warning about the Aschen. Fortunately, this proves enough to prevent the SGC ever having to face the threat of the Aschen, immediately retreating rather than accept the offer of an alliance.
- In The Greatest of Them All, Peter Parker's memories are sent back to the moment of his birth after the One Below All destroys the multiverse. Once Peter is old enough to plausibly talk, he makes contact with Professor Charles Xavier to ask for his help in preparing to thwart the future destruction, as Xavier has the experience and powers necessary to help him and believe his tale.
- In the Doctor Who fic "Once Upon a Christmas", the Eleventh Doctor is drawn to the Twelfth Doctor's TARDIS, the Twelfth revealing that he's become a twisted, corrupted version of himself and asking his past self to form a closer bond with Clara in the Eleventh's present so that this relationship can save him from his own darker impulses.
- A Shadow of the Titans: After Starfire's trip into a Bad Future (as depicted in the episode "How Long Is Forever?"), Nightwing sends her back with a letter to the present-day Robin, warning of some unspecified incident involving Jade that caused the Titans (already unstable following Starfire's disappearance) to fall apart completely. While the letter doesn't give details, Nightwing does imply that there's a moral quandary involved, and implores Robin to do the right thing. Robin initially believes the message refers to the "Star Chan" situation, in which the Titans were briefly split by the decision to keep a brainwashed-via-Starfire's-chi Zhu Chan a hero, or give her back her original chi and return her to villainy. The situation's later resolved in a fairly awful manner, but just as Robin is preparing to sigh and consider the fiasco over, Cyborg points out that in the history that created Nightwing, Starfire would not have been available to trigger the disaster in the first place, so Nightwing's letter refers to an as of yet unknown scenario.
- In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a time-travelling Barry Allen briefly appears in the Batcave to deliver a dire warning to Bruce Wayne.
Barry: Bruce! Bruce! Listen to me now! It's Lois! It's Lois Lane! She's the key! Am I too soon? I'm too soon! You were right about him! You've always been right about him! Fear him! Find us all! You have to find us!
- In Prince of Darkness (which takes place in 1987), scientists from the year 1999 use a tachyon signal to warn everyone who sleeps in the church of the disaster awaiting them.
- Wolverine serves as this of sorts in X-Men: Days of Future Past, where he makes past Xavier and Magneto aware of the Bad Future, and to prevent Mystique from assassinating Dr. Trask. He also actively helps them in this mission.
- In the BIONICLE books, small animals called Kratana are used to record the past and look into the future by latching onto people's faces. In Time Trap, set a thousand years ago, a future hero called Krakua sends a message to Vakama via a Kratana-induced vision, warning him that six Toa heroes will embark on a perilous quest. In Island of Doom, set in the present, Vakama sends the six Toa Nuva on a mission to save the universe, thinking the message was about them, but refuses to discuss the danger publicly. Growing suspicious about the Nuva team's absence, the one remaining Toa and six Matoran citizens secretly set out to find them, and during their travels these six Matoran become the six Toa mentioned in Vakama's vision.
- Essentially plays a part in the Past Doctor Adventures novel Imperial Moon; the whole plot starts because the Doctor and Turlough receive a diary in the TARDIS's Time Safe, detailing an expedition to the Moon by the British Imperial Space Fleet in 1878, and learn after reading it that they will be involved in the expedition.
- In The Licanius Trilogy, an older Davian sends an apparition of himself back in time to warn Asha that in the near future almost everyone is being watched or controlled by the Big Bad, he will be imprisoned and she will be wanted for capital punishment.
- This happens a total of five times in Thrice Upon a Time by James P. Hogan. Scottish physicist Sir Charles Ross has invented a machine that uses advanced particle physics to send messages backward through time. The first two times messages are sent back, they concern trivial matters, but the rest all involve potential end-of-the-world crises.
- While the main premise of 7 Days (1998) is using Time Travel in order to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, the limited time frame of a week slightly limits this. Also, it's usually Frank, the chrononaut, who ends up saving the day anyway. Usually, though, it's the other characters who get this whenever he contacts them with the code word "Conundrum", which indicates that something really bad will have happened within the next week, necessitating the use of the Sphere. Two episodes involve other time travelers arriving from even farther in the future to warn of an upcoming disaster. The first one tries to prevent a global pandemic, resulting from a mutated cure for cancer. The second warns of a nuclear war resulting from the actions of a charismatic Muslim leader (this turns out to be a case of Make Wrong What Once Went Right, though, and the time traveler may not even be human).
- The Andromeda Strain: In a change from the original story, the Andromeda disease itself turns out to be this, sent back from a dire future in which the source of the only cure has long ago been destroyed by pollution.
- In the Babylon 5 episode "War Without End", the eponymous station receives a distress call from a temporal rift in Sector 14. It turns out to be a version of Ivanova from eight days in the future, sending out a mayday about how the station is under attack by the Shadows. The message ends right as the future station explodes, and the rest of the two-part episode is spent trying to keep that future from happening.
- One episode of Castle has a man who claims to be an agent from the future sent back to stop an assassination, probably a homage to The Terminator. He comments on an upcoming 'energy war', though assures the two leads that the good guys win. He's labeled as delusional, though the ending of the episode leaves it ambiguous.
- Doctor Who: Many seasons of the new series have ArcWords/ArcSymbols that are this, unless the relevant event is in the past/present/other:
- Series 1 has "Bad Wolf", in various forms, following Rose and the Doctor around space and time. They're the name of the corporation running the Game Station in the year 200,100, scattered across the universe by Bad Wolf!Rose.
- Series 3 has something of an inversion (by the show's standards; anywhere else it would be a lot more than something) with the references to "Mr. Saxon" and the "Vote Saxon" messages in various places; the relevant "future" could be considered the year 100,000,000,000,000, where the Master is revealed to be hiding, but the mentions of "Saxon" are actually referring to the Master's new identity after escaping the end of the universe: prime ministerial candidate Harold Saxon, since a year and a half before the events of the season.
- Series 5 has the cracks in time, appearing approximately Once an Episode, across space and time. After discovering that they contain "the end of the universe" and are capable of erasing people from history, the Doctor stipulates that they must have been caused by an incredibly powerful event in the "future". The event in question, the TARDIS explosion, ends up ripping the universe apart.
- Series 7 has a different flavour: Clara Oswin Oswald appears three times throughout the season in different times and places. It's revealed at the end of the season that this is because she dispersed herself throughout the Doctor's timeline to save him from the Great Intelligence, who had done the same. The difference is that the fact that she's there means that the relevant catastrophe has already been averted, meaning it's less an ominous message than a comforting affirmation, but then the Doctor was shown "dying" in the Season Finale, which is a new level of temporal confusion, even for this show.
- Some of the characters in FlashForward didn't like the implications of their glimpses of the future: Mark had fallen off the wagon, Olivia was apparently having an affair, etc.
- Hodor's name turns out to be a corrupted, inadvertent version of this in Game of Thrones.
- This is a plot point in Heroes. In the first season, Future-Hiro travels back in time to warn Peter about the Bad Future in hopes of averting it.
- In Monster Warriors, a mysterious child named Henry from the future keeps trying to contact the Monster Warriors to warn them about a hideous fate that is approaching them.
- In the two part episode of Power Rangers S.P.D. called "Messenger", the heroes pick up a radio transmission from the future that claims that Space Patrol Delta fell on the day the transmission was received. As revealed, it's because they encountered Devastation, their most powerful enemy yet. They would've lost as predicted, but thanks to the timely arrival of the Sixth Ranger, they defeated Devastation and changed the future.
- One of these kickstarts the Story Arc of Quantum Leap. In early 2022, a future version of Ian Wright leaps into a bartender, and warns Ben Song that his fiancee Addison's life is in danger from another leaper, and that the future is at stake. Ben then secretly colludes with Janis Calavicci to develop a new method for leaping, and eventually steps into the quantum leap accelerator.
- In The Revolting World Of Stanley Brown, one of Stanley's future relatives makes sure Stanley keeps on inventing so that he will be born.
- Stargate SG-1: The 2000 episode "2010" is interesting in that the whole episode builds up to sending the note, which is promptly understood and obeyed. It takes place in a seemingly idyllic future where allies the SGC met were able to single-handedly win the war with the Goa'uld, only for SG-1 to learn they secretly have made mankind sterile and plan to subjugate the world, leading SG-1 to sacrifice themselves to send a note to the past warning the SGC against going to the planet where they met the allies. Hammond obeys the note and blacklists the gate address, but a year later, in "2001", the SGC unknowingly makes contact with those same aliens on a neighboring planet. Thankfully, they do notice that it's near the "forbidden" one and decide to investigate a bit.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- "Time Squared" had a different take on this. Enterprise picks up a shuttle and is surprised to find it crewed by a future version of Captain Picard too incoherent to understand, while the shuttle's logs show Enterprise being destroyed. The crew then need to work out what sequence of events caused this, and avert it.
- "Cause and Effect" has another instance. The episode takes place inside a time loop culminating in the Enterprise's repeated destruction. At around the fifth pass, Data realizes this is because they go with his unsuccessful idea to avoid a ship going out of a temporal anomaly, and sends a message into the future. Through the next loop, the number "3" shows up in odd places. In the last minutes of the episode, the ship comes out of the anomaly again. Data looks at Riker's uniform collar, with three pins, and goes with his idea to depressurize the cargo bays, and the Enterprise survives.
- Star Trek: Voyager:
- "Future's End" had Captain Braxton of the time ship Aeon come back from the 29th century with information that the entire solar system has been destroyed in a cataclysmic explosion and that Voyager was somehow involved. Now he's here to destroy them before that can happen. They manage to fight him off and both ships get stuck in the late 20th century. Braxton, who landed 30 years earlier and has been living as a homeless bum all that time, continues to try warn people of the coming disaster, but due to his position in society, and the fact that he's talking about something that won't happen for centuries, people dismiss him as just another crazy bum.
- Another episode, "Timeless", is set 15 years into a future in which Voyager’s attempt to use an experimental quantum slipstream drive resulted in the ship crashing into an icy planet. The entire crew was killed, save for Harry Kim and Chakotay who were aboard the Delta Flyer at the time. They have a plan give a new set of phase corrections to Seven of Nine in the past so the drive works correctly. The corrections don't work, but Harry figures out a new set of corrections which collapse the slipstream instead, saving everyone aboard. Along with the corrections, the future Harry sent a message to his past self explaining what happened, but if he's seeing this all that's changed.
- In the first few episodes of the mini-series, Ultra Fight Orb, the titular Ultra begins constantly having visions of himself in the future, notably how he gained a new, triple-horned form, especially after he saved Ultraman Zero from Juda. It turns out the horned version of Orb is his Emerium Slugger form, which he gained after spending a decade in Zero's Emerium Field at the end of the series - the time distortions end up flowing to the past and affecting Orb before it can actually happen.
- In Wizards of Waverly Place Harper of the future comes back to, first, write books about the wizard adventures she has with Alex because in the future one of them will have told the World about wizards, so the books aren't all that interesting or unique, and, second, make sure that Alex has those adventures with her. In secret.
- Analog: The November 1948 issue published a reader's letter reviewing the stories in the November 1949 issue. Chief Editor John W. Campbell went along with the joke by commissioning the authors mentioned to write stories under the titles given in the letter, thus making the actual November 1949 magazine resemble the imaginary one as closely as possible.
- The entirety of the Nine Inch Nails Year Zero ARG is this, with the earliest quantum computers suddenly receiving a bunch of websites from their future selves, depicting a dystopic future and the end of the world in 2022. Unfortunately, the messages sent back were partially corrupted by the future computers being damaged during the upload, either by government agents or The Presence. Nonetheless, the implication remains that having received the messages has changed the timeline and averted the events of Year Zero.
- Finn from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues has a superpower that allows him to see glimpses of the future. A future version of himself, knowing at what times in the future he would see forward to, set it up so that Future!Ivy would speak a certain message at a certain time that Finn would then hear in one of his flashforwards. The message in question: in order to avert a Bad Future, he would have to kill three of his fellow students before summer ended.
- In Timemaster, Time Corps etiquette demands that if an agent dies during a mission, someone should send a message to the earlier-him to let him know.
- DC Universe Online begins with future Lex Luthor warning Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman about the upcoming Brainiac threat.
- The events of EarthBound (1994) are set in motion by the time traveling insect Buzz Buzz from the future, who warns Ness that Giygas has destroyed the world in the future and that a boy named Ness would defeat him.
- Final Fantasy:
- In Final Fantasy XIII-2, one of the Memory Fragments you can uncover in New Bodhum 700 AF with Paradox Scope on is a message to Serah from Future!Serah, which pretty much tells you that Serah will die in the end. Of course, since you only acquire the Paradox Scope after beating the game, you already know that.
- The story for Final Fantasy XIV's third expansion pack, Shadowbringers, has G'raha Tia coming to the present from a Bad Future where The Empire successfully unleashed their Black Rose chemical weapon, which wiped out most life in Eorzea, including the player character. He goes to the First (a reflection of the main world) and pulls the protagonists there, telling them that in order to prevent the bad future from happening on the Source, they must save the First from a flood of Light. The reason the bad future happened was due to the First being completely destroyed by the light, which, due to how the Source and its reflections like the First are linked to one another, made the aether on the Source incredibly thin and thus made the Black Rose a lot more potent, enough to cause a Calamity.
- In Endwalker, Venat, the heart of Hydaelyn, impresses upon the Warrior of Light the importance of an akasa (emotion) resonant flower called Elpis. When the Final Days start anew on the planet, a quest to figure out the meaning of this flower leads the Warrior back to the past, to the Unsundered times before the original Final Days. Despite warnings not to interfere with history, the Warrior is ultimately unable to keep the secret of their mission and thus they describe not just the future world, but the events that led to that scenario, to the original Venat, Emet-Selch, and Hythlodeaus. To say that they are each unsettled in their own way is an understatement, especially for Emet-Selch, who is doomed to become a genocidal villain by the Warrior's era.
- Final Fantasy Legend III has three children sent from the future into the present in the hopes of stopping the world from being completely flooded.
- In Galactic Civilizations, the Thalans claim to be from the future and say that an apocalyptic event is going to take place soon, and it's the fault of the Terran species. They've come back in time to stop it if they can. Most other civilizations, especially the Terrans, are incredulous as to these claims, as the big threat right now is the Drengin Empire threatening to conquer the whole of the galaxy.
Terran Commander: You claim humanity causes the destruction of the galaxy. How can this be? Earth is surrounded by an alien armada... our allies lie in ruins, their worlds ravaged... I don't see how we could be the great threat in the universe.Thalan Ambassador: There is a crusade coming. A crusade led by humans. And with it... the end of all things.
- In Marvel: Avengers Alliance, this is delivered via a Conqueror from the Future. Kang the Conqueror, the "40th Century Man", has something to say about Hank Pym's 'Project Ultron' in Spec Ops 7.3:
Kang: You think you are on the brink of a great discovery... but I come from a future where you are vilified as the man who began the destruction of the world.Hank Pym: Well, you came to my present, where I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen. Now stand down and do not get in the way of my work.Kang: This Ultron construct is more dangerous than you imagine. You cannot control it and are a fool to try. Destroy it now...or I will.
- In Mortal Kombat 9, Raiden sends a message to himself in the past: "He must win." Since he gives nothing more concrete than that (including who "he" even is), the past Raiden barely has any idea of what he needs to do beyond his assumption that Liu Kang needs to win the tournament (which the audience already knows isn't enough). It isn't until the end of the game, after he accidentally kills Liu Kang and Armageddon is staring him in the face that he realizes the one who has to win is Shao Kahn - because when he does, the The Gods Who Don't Do Anything actually do something to stop him.
- The Defiants in Rift send the hero from the Bad Future back into the past where the odds against Regulos were much more favorable.
- The Serious Sam series is similar, in that the last surviving human is sent back several millennia in time so he can assassinate the galactic Evil Overlord Mental before he can destroy Earth.
- A complex version from Starcraft II: The Overmind has a premonition (or, possibly, predicts based on what it knows of the present — Word of God is unclear on this point) of the known galaxy being obliterated by Amon, the "Dark Voice". Forearmed with this knowledge, it manipulates the entire course of the Great War against the terrans and protoss, including a great deal of what happened after its death. Then Zeratul is sent looking for the Overmind by following the threads of another prophecy of indeterminate origin, and it shares the vision with him. He then shares it with James Raynor and later Kerrigan. Among the apocalypse is one single fact, casually mentioned by the Big Bad, that might avert it: that Kerrigan, the Zerg Queen of Blades, can prevent Amon from using the zerg to carry out his plan.
- In the first Star Trek: Armada the USS Premonition comes back in time to warn the Enterprise of an imminent Borg attack that will eventually lead to the entire Alpha Quadrant being assimilated.
- This happens several times throughout the game. After the first time, Picard fails to stop the Borg from assimilating Earth. However, the Enterprise is able to use the Premonition's technology to go back in time and get the help of Romulans and Klingons. At the end of the game, the Borg send a Sphere to the past to destroy the Enterprise-D years prior. The Premonition follows the Sphere and blows it up before jumping back to its own time.
- One of the empty chest gag messages in The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC reads "I'm so glad you checked this chest! I'm you from the future and I came back to warn you about—"
- In Blood Splattered Socks, Sam receives one of these signed A Darker Future.
- In The Game Overthinker, The Omega Thinker travels back to warn the Overthinker of his death and the coming of the Robo Thinker.
- In one episode of The Big Knights, the two knights receive one of these. "I am from the future. Whatever you do, do not go to Professor Von Proton's laboratory today." Of course, it's this message that gave them the idea to go in the first place.
- One episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic had a Twilight Sparkle from the future appear with torn up clothes, an eyepatch, and scars on her face. She has an urgent message. Unfortunately, she isn't able to give it before being pulled back to her time. Twilight spends the rest of the episode freaking out trying to avert the impending disaster. She was actually trying to tell herself not to get all wound up like that.
- In Phineas and Ferb, a Candace from the future comes back to keep the boys inventing so that Dr. Doofenschmirtz can't take over the tri-state area. Different versions of her are met, but we never see more than three at once, as they're erased with their version of the Bad Future.
- Time Squad, On a mission to help Samuel Morse, the Time Squad gets unwelcome company as their decrepit selfs from 60 years into the future appear to give them an important message. The problem is, they're all senile, and don't remember what said message was and stay to annoy the present squad until finally, Older Tuddrussel remembers to tell his whippersnapper counterpart to return the book he checked out of the library, as 60 years of library fines add up.
- Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy, Galvatron uses time travel to warn Megatron, his past self, about his future, in which he will be turned into a servant of Unicron, a planet-sized godlike Transformer that can devour entire worlds. However, Galvatron's intentions are very much selfish, as he wishes to use the Allspark to kill Unicron and free himself from servitude rather than revitalize the planet Cybertron, essentially dooming millions of its inhabitants to die for his own sake. Even Megatron is horrified by this, and while he initially still works with Galvatron and [[Nemesis Prime]], he ultimately [[betrays them]].
- Wolverine and the X-Men (2009), Professor X from 20 years in the future is able to telepathically communicate through time with the present X-men. He warns them about the future devastated by Sentinels and how the majority of the X-Men were killed.
- From 2000-2001, a man calling himself John Titor posted on various message boards, claiming to be a time traveller from the year 2036 and full of tales of the After the End future which he came from. If he is a real life example of this trope, he managed to change history and avert the civil war that takes place in the United States in 2005. Either way, he served as inspiration for Steins;Gate.
- A variation of the "Vanishing Hitchhiker" urban legend has a young couple pick up a roadside traveler with long dark hair and a beard. After telling them his destination, the man stays silent until the car pulls over—at which point he ominously intones, "Jesus Christ is coming again," and fades away into nothingness.
- The November 1948 issue of Astounding Science Fiction published a reader's letter reviewing the stories in the November 1949 issue. Editor John W. Campbell went along with the joke by commissioning the authors mentioned to write stories under the titles given in the letter, thus making the actual November 1949 magazine resemble the imaginary one as closely as possible.
- Combining literature and music; the narrative behind Starset and their associated novels, The PROX Transmissions and the unreleased A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FUTURE, begins with a set of transmissions sent from 2047 by a man named Thomas Bell. He sent the transmissions hoping to prevent the future of his origin where humanity is under significant oppression thanks to the abuse of technology that, if it wasn't kept in the hands of a few, would have been beneficial to the whole world.
- Further along the narrative, as revealed through Alternate Reality Game related items, the future has indeed changed; Thomas' future becoming an Alternate Timeline due to the diversion. However, this has also lead to the future where the setting of the DIVISIONS and HORIZONS albums (alongside the unreleased novel) takes place. Those in this new setting also sent their own transmissions... Although they vary. There are the Rebels who want to prevent this future and then there is the New West who want to make this future come faster.