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"Look, I don't care when the f Harry Potter is in my version it takes place now."

This trope occurs when, while making a story set during the recent past, the contemporary culture of the production seeps in where it wouldn't have existed. It varies whether this becomes more obvious or less in the ensuing years. Many period works are Anachronism Stews anyway, but it's pretty noticeable when a fad shows up in the wrong time period. An extremely noticeable example is The '70s fashions and hairstyles on Happy Days; a very minor one is Dudley Dursley having a PlayStation in a scene set in the summer of 1994, when the PS1 wasn't available until the end of that year.


The Bellisario's Maxim can sometimes be applied with regard to location shoots and incorrect background details. Sometimes there just isn't time or money to get everything right. It's also impossible to control everything when working in a public setting; you may have to put up with pedestrians and other people who aren't part of the film's crew (and therefore aren't in costume) appearing in the background if you don't have the money or clout to get exclusive use of a public area. And even if you do, changing the street signs, billboards, and skyline isn't an option for a film made on location. Still, it's fun to spot them...

Of course, much of this assumes that casual viewers will actually notice the discrepancies. There will always be someone who does, but assuming that every person watching will have an encyclopedic knowledge of every past era is a bit presumptuous. Most people think of only specific aspects of a given era when they think about one, be it technology, entertainment, fashion, businesses, social norms, historical events, or even personal experiences. In fact, this trope exists in part because (at least in visual media) getting every detail right is hellaciously, often prohibitively expensive; a production may simply not have the budget or time to assure the provenance of every single prop or to produce hundreds of meticulously researched, historically accurate costumes, especially when the local rental outfit can provide “good enough” for one-fiftieth the cost.


Similarly, this trope is very common in fanfiction — there's no reason that a hobbyist writer should go over every detail and make sure it is timely if the series is still acceptably "modern-day." Reality Is Unrealistic might result if the trope is invoked unintentionally, simply because something that is presumed to be contemporary has actually been around for quite a while.

A Sub-Trope of Anachronism Stew. Often overlaps with Hollywood Costuming and 20 Minutes into the Past. Next Sunday A.D. sometimes involves inversions of this, depending on how things turn out in the future (for example, it seems pretty safe to have people using YouTube two years from now, but who knows?).

Compare Comic-Book Time and Retro Universe. We All Live in America would be the equivalent trope geographically.

Contrast Popular History, Two Decades Behind and Unintentional Period Piece.



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    Comic Books 
  • Superman: Birthright (2003) was supposed to be the new canonical Super Hero Origin of the Man of Steel, who in the ongoing books has been Superman for "about ten years". It includes instant messaging and the Department of Homeland Security. Of course, Comic-Book Time can smooth these problems over. When John Byrne wrote the previous origin, he had Jonathan Kent talking about Sputnik in 1956. By the time it got retconned this had occurred in 1964, so no problem.
  • The 2000s The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels downplay this. The technology level makes it clear that the books take place in the 1990s (more specifically, the late '90s judging from how characters watch what is most likely the remake of The Parent Trap on DVD). However, the fashion sense has been made more neutral. In contrast with the books' flashy 1980s/1990s clothes, the characters dress in clothes that weren't unreasonable for 12 year olds in the 1990s, yet are more appealing to 2000s children.

    Fan Works 
  • This is taken to incredibly ridiculous levels in Harry Potter fanfiction. Now, moving the action forward a bit so that Harry starts Hogwarts around the same year the writer turned eleven is one thing; even the Warner Bros. films have anachronistic London landmarks, technology, and cars despite the gravestone of Harry's parents making this impossible, and in any case there must be some fanfiction writers whose parents are younger than Harry (born 1980) would be by now, so wanting to Write What You Know as far as pop culture references are concerned isn't going to break Willing Suspension of Disbelief all by itself. But fics set in the Marauders' era (canonically the 1970s) seeming to take place in the Present Day so as to accommodate Author Appeal, on the other hand, is significantly less forgivable. Even ignoring the timeline, you'd think that anyone would realize that a movie which came out last year couldn't possibly have been around when Harry's parents were at school... you'd think...
  • My Immortal, providing the current page quote, has a big case of this. Ebony positively breathes 2005-2006 emo and scene culture, despite the story being loosely based on a series that takes place in the 90s. Tara's response to these claims is simply "shut up."
    • When Ebony travels back in time to when the Marauders were at Hogwarts, its explicitly said to be set in the 80s. An authors note even calls out the anachronism of Hedwig singing "Welcome to the Black Parade".
    "I no dat is not 80s but pretend it is ok!"
  • This can happen sometimes with Glee fanfiction written in 2012 or 2013 that takes place during season 1 (which would be late 2009/early 2010). It's in recent enough memory that most fanfic writers can avoid it fairly easily, but sometimes the fics feature technology, movies, or songs that weren't out at that time, or even artists or actors who hadn't made it big yet.
  • TheInvertedShadow's Lyrish series: Each episode features a Running Gag depicting a television playing anywhere from 3-5 random video clips in a row. The first two episodes take place as far back as three decades before the present day. Why JonTron or the The Cat in the Hat movie would be turning up on TV at that point is never brought up.

    Films — Animation 
  • A fairly minor example, but The Incredibles takes place mostly in the 1960s, but features modern slang, computers, and VHS tapes. Justified in that the film is a deliberate Retro Universe.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alpha Dog, set in 1999, features an Xbox game console (released in 2001), a poster for the game Men of Valor (2004), and the song "Slither" by Tech N9ne (2002).
  • Done deliberately in practically any period piece by Anachronism Stew master Baz Luhrmann, who makes these films set in the past feel hip and contemporary by using music and genres from the present.
  • Behind Enemy Lines (2001) is set at the end of the Bosnian War, which was in late 1995. However early in the film there is a reference to wanting to be with Britney Spears, who rose to prominence in 1999, and a character yells out "WILSON!" when a football flies off an aircraft carrier deck, a reference to Cast Away (2000). The main aircraft used in the movie, the Foxtrot model of the F/A-18 Super Hornetnote  also wasn't yet active as of 1995 either. Its first prototype flight was actually the same year as the movie.
  • The Big Lebowski was made in 1998 but takes place in 1991, mainly so there can be meaningless allusions to the Gulf War like the Dude saying "This aggression will not stand" and having a dream with Saddam Hussein as a bowling alley attendant. There's a possible flaw in this; there's a scene where Jesus Quintana, a registered sex offender, has to identify himself to his neighbors as such. While California did have a sex offender registration at the time, notifying the public of local sex offenders wasn't made a big deal until the passage of various forms of Megan's Law in 1994 onward.
  • Blood Diamond, set in 1999, but features clothes and cars from 2006 or so, while Danny uses a GPS released in 2004 in the climax.
  • Bloodsport is set in 1975. The fashions, decor and technology are clearly of 1988. What's more, the flashback sequence with the young Frank, which takes place in the '60s, also clearly has the fashions, decor and technology of 1988.
  • One Vietnam war protester in Born on the Fourth of July is wearing Reeboks, which wouldn't be introduced to the U.S. market until around the time the Vietnam War ended in 1975.
  • Callas Forever is about the end of Maria Callas' life in 1977. Yet, we get to see a Renault Vel Satis. That car was launched in 2002.
  • Fist of Fury is set some time in the early twentieth century (1908 or the 1930s, depending on who you ask), but makes no effort to disguise background occurrences of 1970s clothes and cars. This may have been because of budget limitations.
  • At the end of Dirty Dancing the characters dance to the movie's big hit single, "(I've Had) The Time of My Life", which sounds very contemporary to 1988 for a movie set in 1963, with obvious synthesizers in its arrangement.
  • The Day of the Jackal, released in 1973, but set in France in 1963, has many location shots of early-70s Paris, and scenes with several French cars that are a few years too early, such as the 1965 Renault 16, restyled 1967 Citroen DS, and 1969 Peugeot 504, as well as an SNCF locomotive that was introduced in 1969.
  • Dumb And Dumberer is a prequel set in 1986, but it features the villain bribing a museum worker with a modern $5 bill.
  • One of the major criticisms about Eddie and the Cruisers is that the story is about the singer and band that were popular in the '60s, but sound an awful lot like 1980s Bruce Springsteen.
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close joins the tradition of 9/11 movies forgetting they're supposed to be period pieces, with several too-new cars (a 2008 Ford Escape is prominent) and cabs displaying the new-in-2007 NYC taxi graphics package noticeable in the trailer. Meanwhile, the protagonist's dad films him on super 8 rather than a then-standard VHS-C camcorder.
  • The 2005 version of Fun with Dick and Jane, set in 2000, includes a convenience store with a sticker on the door stating that those born before "today's date in 1983" cannot buy either alcohol or tobacco. Problem is, in all US states, the legal age for purchasing alcohol is 21, and the legal age for tobacco purchases is 18. In 2000, someone born on that date in 1983 would only be turning 17, too young to buy either product.
  • On the DVD commentary for The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola points out two longhaired hippie-looking men in the background inside the hotel when Michael arrives in Las Vegas in what's supposed to be the early Fifties.
  • Hairspray shows features of Baltimore, such as overhead street signs, that would not exist for decades.
  • Halloween Night, a 2006 film by The Asylum is supposed to be set in 1992, but the characters drive cars and use cell phones and computers which were made in the 2000s.
  • The Hurt Locker was made in 2009, but set in 2004. The movie features, among other things:
    • Gears of War (released in 2006) being played on an Xbox 360 (released in 2005).
    • References to YouTube (which launched late in 2005).
    • Soldiers wearing new digital pattern camouflage uniforms (introduced in 2005, didn't really become standard until 2007).
  • Grease has several of examples of this trope, but very noticeably in fashion - Sandy's iconic outfit and perm are 100% The '70s and have nothing to do with the styles of The '50s.
  • Grease 2 continues in the same vein - Michelle Pfeiffer rocks the kind of big, feathery hair you could only see in The '80s.
  • In America is ostensibly set in the '80s, but in order to create a "timeless feel," the director deliberately left in anachronisms like shots of Jessica Alba's L'oreal billboard in Times Square.
  • Into the Wild is another film that doesn't seem to be aware that the early '90s were any different than the present. It includes what appears to be a digital camera (used by a main character) and a delivery truck labeled "".
  • Bollywood film Jab Tak Hai Jaan has a shot which was filmed in London (a major part of the film's setting) showing the Olympic rings. The problem? The scene is in part of the narrative which is set in 2002, when the Olympics would not arrive in London until 2012 when the film was made. There are also several other anachronisms concerning certain models of cars and an advertisement for an Intel Ultrabook (not launched until 2011) during the 2002 part of the story.
  • Lyme Life is a case where it's clear the director had more of a general period than specific time in mind. The film's mention of the Iranian hostage crisis clearly sets it in 1979, but it contains references to The Empire Strikes Back which wasn't released until 1980, and the Falklands War, which didn't occur until 1982.
  • The movie Megan Is Missing is set in 2007, but features technology more common now: most glaring is that the characters have video chats on their phones. While smartphones with this feature did exist in 2007, it seems unlikely that the characters would have such a phone at 13/14 years old at that time. It was probably done for ease of storytelling, and possibly slightly justified as the characters are mentioned as living in a relatively wealthy area of California.
  • Whit Stillman's Metropolitan is meant to be set circa-1974, but the hairstyles of the characters, clothing, cars, and background music are clearly of an era no earlier than 1989. Stillman said he wanted to do the film as a period piece, but couldn't.
    • In one scene you can see a Cure poster on one character's wall ... the band didn't form until 1978.
  • My Name Is Khan has one of the child character introduced with a PSP. Except that scene is quite far before the 9/11 attacks.
  • No Country for Old Men set in 1980 contains many instances of modern day brand names and logos appearing, such as a of a Carl's Jr. in El Paso (Carl's Jr. had not expanded to El Paso in 1980), many car alarms are heard going off after a car explodes (car alarms of the type were not prevalent until the mid 80s), and there are several firearms used in the film that would not be developed for another few years.
  • The Queen, set in 1997, features a Nokia 6210 mobile phone and lots of cars that postdate the film's setting.
  • The Roaring Twenties (1939) starring James Cagney came out in the late 30s. They didn't even try. Literally, it was a conscious decision not to recreate the actual look of the actual 20s. The two female leads sport some fashion elements of the '20s, but overall still look like they're from the '30s.
  • Sid And Nancy, made in the mid-eighties, but set in the late-seventies (of course), has some rather obvious 'eighties cars, including an '80-82 Cadillac limo in 1975, and an '84-'85 Honda Civic. Strangely the latter does have correctly lettered number plates for the year ('old' P-reg in British car parlance).
  • The Social Network:
    • The movie takes place in late 2003 and 2004, yet many of the visible laptops clearly are from the modern day. Somewhat ironically in a bit of an inversion they mostly appear to be Windows 98, even though XP had been out for several years at that time and would no doubt be more standard among such a tech-savvy crowd.
    • In one scene, students are shown clearly playing Fallout 3, which in 2003 was trapped in Development Hell and was widely believed to have been canceled, and ultimately wasn't released until 2008.
    • Mountain Dew cans are shown with a design introduced in 2005.
  • The Squid and the Whale:
    • The film is set in 1986 but contains a shot of an ambulance with a 9/11 memorial on the back, a poster for WWE wrestler The Hurricane whose gimmick debuted in 2001, and many cars that post-date the setting.
    • The subway trip depicted in the film is also anachronistic. In 1986, the trains would have been covered in graffiti, and the service depicted didn't exist until 2004.
  • The trope name is taken almost literally in 24-Hour Party People, a film set from 1976 to 1992 but where the makers seemingly made no effort to disguise outdoor location shots. The main characters drive around what is obviously Manchester circa-2001 in period costume and cars, past satellite dishes, anachronistic cars, buildings and billboards. Given the irreverent self-referential style, it was probably a deliberate decision not to get too detailed.
  • United 93, set on 9/11, includes a billboard advertising the film Chicken Little, UPS' 2003 logo and a 2004 Embraer Jet.
  • Drew Barrymore's character in The Wedding Singer was one of the few in that movie without stereotypical '80s Hair, makeup, or clothing. This was likely done to be less a target of audience ridicule than the other characters, though ironically her 'Nineties hair' has itself since become sufficiently dated that modern audiences may not notice the discrepancy.
  • Star Wars toys also pop up in movies set before their release in the background, like a 2002 released 12-inch Tauntaun in Fanboys set before the release of The Phantom Menace. Most prominently are the Master Replica lightsabers produced in the mid-2000s that appear nearly everywhere when someone has a lightsaber, but stand out in the German comedy Friendship! that is set directly after The Great Politics Mess-Up and are noticeably different to the cheaper looking toys that were available at the time.
    • Fanboys also had a lot of issues with the dressing of the comic book store, as several post-1999 books are shown on the racks in the distance. One particularly jarring bit is a copy of the final Tag & Bink comic, which satirizes the entire Prequel Trilogy.
  • Wall Street, released in late 1987, has an opening title saying the movie takes place in 1985. This was added in after most of the film had been completed, as a way of setting it before a number of insider-trading scandals that had unfolded over the time the film was made. Since stock regulations were significantly tightened between 1985 and 1987 in response to the scandals, most of Gordon Gecko's actions in the film, while illegal at the time of filming, were not illegal in 1985. And within minutes of the film, a character makes a reference to the Challenger disaster, which happened in early 1986.
  • We Summon the Darkness: The $100 bill on the top of the stack that Bev picks up is the large-portrait design introduced in 1996, though the film is set in 1988. Strangely, the bill on top of the stack she leaves in the tray is period appropriate.
  • Whit Stillman's first two movies, Metropolitan (1990) and Barcelona (1994), take place in the early '70s and 1982 respectively, but the costume, hair, and make up departments make no attempt to conceal their early 90s production date.
  • X-Men: First Class:
    • Charles Xavier uses the word "groovy" when chatting up a girl at a bar early on; a term which wouldn't become popular until the final couple of years of the decade.
    • When frustrated, Havok is heard to mutter, "Whatever..."
    • The Macross Missile Massacre fired at the end of the movie includes Harpoon and Tomahawk missiles, which entered service in 1977 and 1983 respectively.
    • Moira and Raven are often seen in miniskirts, which weren't designed until 1965, i.e. three years in film's future. To name just a few hairstyle and clothing anachronisms.
    • Some of the US sailors are wielding M16s, which were not officially adopted until the following year.
    • At the strip club, Angel takes Erik and Charles into a separate room for a "bed dance" (as evidenced by the fact the two men are shown reclining on a bed). Bed dances (a somewhat rare variant of lap dancing) weren't introduced until at least the 1990s.
    • Pinball geeks will note that Havok and Darwin are playing Gottlieb's Fun Land, which came out six years after the movie's events.
  • C. a k. polní maršálek (Imperial and Royal Field Marshal): This 1930 Czechoslovak comedy is set in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, which ended in 1918. However, the appearance of especially the female characters reflects contemporary fashion still under 1920s influence, (bobbed hair, short skirts, etc.), styles which are very different from the standard look in the days of old Austria. At least the uniforms of the Austro-Hungarian Army are pretty faithfully recreated.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The films clearly reflect their 2000s production years, in spite of the gravestones of Tom Riddle Sr. and Harry's parents dating it to the 1990s, as with the books.
    • The sixth movie features the destruction of London's Millennium Bridge, which shouldn't exist yet it being, you know, before the millennium.
    • The fifth movie, when Harry is taking Dudley home, clearly shows the car numberplate "MA 06 KBH" in the background, and the "06" means it's part of the February 2006 issue ("56" would have meant August 2006). A little later, flying to his trial at the Ministry of Magic, Harry passes a completed Canary Wharf development (in the book's year of 1995), and the London Eye (not erected until autumn 1999). Oyster Cards (2003) also featured briefly. According to which fans you believe, these are either glaring anachronisms which detract from the film, or evidence that the film has been updated to our time.
    • The movies are also filled with noughties fashion since 2004, or what the characters wear when dressed as Muggles — it's not glaring, and hard to describe, but an obvious example would be the wide-horizontal-stripes jumpers that Hermione and Ron kept wearing in the sixth one: hot at the time of filming, not really around in the nineties.
      • Lavender Brown also wears 2000s clothing, seeing how not only the movies but the books as well take place in the '90s.
  • Vice: In the 1970s, Donald Rumsfeld makes a poker analogy about missing his flush draw while everyone else thinks that he's got pocket kings. This is a Texas Hold'em reference, which did not become mainstream until the poker craze of the 2000s. In the 1970s, draw poker variants were still the standard form of poker.
  • SHAZAM! (2019) opens on a flashback to young Thaddeus Sivana in 1974 traveling to the family's cabin in his father's Cadillac, which was a 1980 model at the earliest.
  • Wonder Woman (2017):
    • Cyanide Pills were first used during World War II, not World War I.
    • When the party lands in Belgium, one can see a river boat named "Édith Piaf". The singer was three years old in 1918, and thus not a celebrity at that time.

  • In the Harry Potter books, the internal chronology dates the events of Harry's time at Hogwarts to the 1990s. The only notable anachronism in the books is a mention of Dudley owning a PlayStation in what should be August 1994, when the system was not yet available — and this only because J.K. Rowling can't do math and didn't realize the anachronism until fans pointed it out.
  • Charles Dickens:
    • The Pickwick Papers was set in 1827-28, but was written in 1836-37. Dickens seemed to forget this at times. (At one point Mr. Jingle mentions he has written an epic poem about the July Revolution in France; in the next edition of the novel Dickens added a footnote to the effect that Jingle must be a prophet, since the Revolution happened in 1830.)
    • Likewise The Old Curiosity Shop is set around 1824-26 and was written 1840-41. At one point a lawyer is described as "one of Her Majesty's attornies", but Queen Victoria wasn't crowned until 1837; it should have been "His Majesty", referring to George IV.
  • The novel Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey was published in 1949, and mentions British characters going on holiday to France eight years earlier — which, if the novel is also set in 1949, would be very bad timing. This is part of what inspired Jo Walton to create her Small Change Alternate Universe where World War II went differently.
  • Silvia Avallone in his best-selling (in Italy at least) debut novel Acciaio ("Steel" — about two girls growing up in a decaying industrial town) does this constantly, forgetting that the events take place in 2001, and the book is thick with annoying anachronisms (which could have been averted with some simple internet checks) like the presence of Porsche Cayenne (distributed only since 2003), a famous (real) steel company that was not sold to Russian investors till 2004 and many others.
  • As pointed out by Kim Newman in the afterword to Anno Dracula, Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) is an Epistolary Novel set seven years before Harker's coda ("Seven years ago, we all went through the flames"), and yet uses 1890s terms like "New Woman", and has a somewhat anachronistic phonograph (they existed, but weren't common, and most still used tinfoil cylinders rather than wax).

    Live-Action TV 
  • A fairly common trope in the reconstruction scenes in true crime documentary shows (lower budget admittedly), especially with obviously out-of-place cars. In line with the trope the authenticity of the vehicles, and police cars especially, will usually be related to how far back in time the scene shows, and how many major styling eras it passes.
  • Being Human hit a similar musical snag. The final episode of series 1 (which aired in March 2009) had a flashback that took place "two years earlier" (making it early 2007), but then had the song "Mercy" by Duffy playing on the radio in the diner (released in February 2008). When fans told director Colin Teague about his, he tried to explain it away by saying that it was a local late night radio show which was playing up-and-coming artists.
  • Jimmy's Suzuki Esteem in Better Call Saul is far too beat-up and junky for what would've been a five-year-old car at most in 2002.
  • Cold Case was often criticized for this. They went through a lot of effort to strive for historical accuracy, but occasionally would push it aside for the sake of Rule of Cool or Rule of Drama. The most common complaint was that the songs they used were a year or two off (for example, a story took place in 1984, but they used a song that was released in 1987).
  • The Deal has scenes set between 1983 and 1994. Absolutely no attempt has been made to disguise any outdoor or non-studio-set scenes. Particular jarring are scenes set outside the Houses of Parliament, where the actors are dressed for 1983, but the cars, pedestrians, buildings and street signs are all 2003.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the William Hartnell-era story "The Chase", Ian is shown singing along to the chorus of The Beatles' "Ticket to Ride", showing he already knows the lyrics. His abduction by the Doctor was in November 1963, and "Ticket to Ride" wasn't released until February 1965 (when "The Chase" was made). However, the time travel aspect of the series means the possibility that Ian may have heard the song somewhere down the line cannot be ruled out.
    • The Jon Pertwee era has a lot of notorious present-day future — it's presumably set 20 Minutes into the Future but the fashions, technology, cars, phones, social politics and zeitgeist are just 1971. It's so bad that there's an ongoing Fan Wank about whether this era happens in the '80s or the '70s, that the revival series chucks huge amounts of deliberately contradictory information into, just for laughs.
    • An example of present-day future — in "The Shakespeare Code", the Doctor babbles happily about Harry Potter, telling Martha that she's going to love getting to read the last book (which had not been released at that point and was at the time being heavily hyped). Problem is, Deathly Hallows was released in July 2007 in real life, and Martha's "home" time period is early 2008.note 
    • "The Eleventh Hour": At the beginning, as the out-of-control TARDIS is tumbling over London, the Millennium Dome and London Eye are clearly visible, in what is later revealed to be 1996. It could also be assumed that the TARDIS crashes through the sky in 2005 (the year of the last scene in the previous episode), then time-travels to/crash-lands in 1996.
  • Freaks and Geeks:
    • In the Wild Teen Party episode (set in 1980, filmed in 1999), several of the male extras have obvious '90s bowl haircuts. In the DVD extras, Judd Apatow recalls having told the main character actors; "You got the part- don't cut your hair".
    • Some of the settings, such as the fast food restaurant Sam and Cindy visit in "Girlfriends and Boyfriends" look unusually hip and modern for 1980-1981. Justified, since (to preserve realism) the show generally used real-life locations for filming rather than studio sets.
    • Daniel's rusty, beat-up Firebird is a model that would've been new at the time.
    • In "Kim Kelly Is My Friend", Nick eats Fruit Roll-Ups, which wouldn't be introduced to the market until 1983.
    • When Sam dresses up as Luke Skywalker for the sci-fi convention, he's holding a toy lightsaber with a green blade, despite the fact that the first green-bladed lightsaber wouldn't be seen for another 2-3 years. Also, the toy itself is a more modern design that appeared in the late 1990's.
  • Done on purpose in one episode of Get Smart. The Unseen baddie of the week had used a de-aging ray on some scientists, reverting their brains to when they were children. One scientist talks about watching Captain Kangaroo, but that show wasn't on when the scientist in question was a child, proving that she's not really under the effects of the ray and that she's the bad guy.
  • Happy Days is a borderline case. It never quite forgot that it was set in The '50s, (and had made it into the early Sixties by the end) but they got really lazy about not letting The '70s seep in.
  • Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda, since it covers cases from all through Kenda's career, frequently runs into this in the recreations. All the vehicles are contemporary to when the show was produced (2011 - on), and thus you see may a case set in the late 1980s where police cars not only have modern styling but LED lightbars and a supposedly low-income hotel has a 42" LCD flatscreen TV in the lobby.
    • On the Case With Paula Zahn and several other Investigation Discovery shows featuring 70's, 80's and 90's cases are guilty of this as well. Period series such as A Crime To Remember and 1980s: The Deadliest Decade strive to avert it but small things like hairstyles and vernacular still fall through the cracks.
  • The '50s-set BBC series The Hour has beautifully researched clothing, but the younger women's hairstyles aren't authentically 50s, presumably because 50s-style perms look rather like 80s hair. Mrs Madden's gorgeous New Look outfits are also not quite contemporary with the other women's outfits.
  • Jeeves and Wooster takes place in a Genteel Interbellum Setting as it is, but the episodes where Bertie vacations in New York have a particularly jarring example — the World Trade Center is clearly visible in establishing shots of the city. (Also Harsher in Hindsight.)
  • The video game-themed Kamen Rider Ex-Aid normally averts Pac Man Fever, but there's a noticeable exception that crosses with this trope: a Flash Back to 2010 shows the main character playing Tekken 7: Fated Retribution, a game which didn't come out until 2016note .
  • Happy Days spin-off Laverne & Shirley freely let modern styles seep into its period setting.
    • So did Joanie Loves Chachi.
  • Life on Mars (the UK version, that is) has a glaring error only noticeable to roadgeeks — a WRTL 2600 streetlight like this one was seen in one shot — and it wasn't even around in 1973. More noticeable anachronisms that the production team forgot to cover up in post include cable TV junction boxes at the roadside and modern air conditioning units on the side of buildings.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • The show contained frequent references to popular culture that didn't exist until after The Korean War.
    • Eternal Sexual Freedom, anti-war and post-women's-lib attitudes, which would have been quite out of place in the early 1950s, were portrayed as commonplace. While the male characters may well have been womanizers, the females would have been far more circumspect about it being widely known. This may have been intentional, as the show was a fairly Anvilicious commentary on the Vietnam War
    • A 1969 issue of The Avengers shows up in one episode.
    • Haircuts and styles that were in style in the 1970s and 1980s appear in the show, but these haircuts would not have been acceptable for anyone in the Army at any point in the twentieth century.
    • Plus the constant use of trucks from the 1954 model year.
  • The 1999 TV movie Michael Jordan: An American Hero shows its title character wearing current (for the time) Air Jordans in scenes that were meant to take place a decade earlier.
  • Oliver Beene was nominally set in The '60s, but characters had attitudes and fashions more at place in the 2000s.
  • In Quantum Leap, Sam leaps all around the timeline of his own life.
    • At times, he would end up in New York in a time before the World Trade Center was built, but in any establishing shots of the city, the towers would be there.
    • In the pilot episode, he's supposed to be in the '50s, but a modern vehicle can be seen in the background.
    • "What Price Gloria?" was set in 1961 but filmed in 1989, and it shows. The women do look early-Sixties, but the boss' office and suit are MUCH closer to Wall Street than Mad Men.
    • Zig-zagged in the 1991 episode "Glitter Rock", set in 1974. The fictional rock band King Thunder looks plausibly like a Glam Rock group from 1974, but sounds more like a Whitesnake knockoff from a full decade later.
  • Stephen King's Storm of the Century, set in 1988, nonetheless has a prominent Product Placement scene involving a late '90s Mac laptop.
  • Upstairs Downstairs often uses patterns and colours in the clothing and sets that belong more in the late 60s and early 70s than Edwardian England. Particularly obvious examples appear in some of Lady Marjorie's dresses in the first season.
  • The school bus scenes in The Wonder Years. Look out the bus windows and play "Spot The '80s Car".


  • A hallmark of William Shakespeare's plays as well as the plays of his contemporaries, as they deliberately did not concern themselves with what would now be known as "historical realism". Notable examples include Cleopatra playing a game of billiards, a game not invented until over a thousand years after her death.

    Video Games 
  • The Nameless Mod: The game is set in September of 2004 and was released in 2009. A few things slipped through however.
    • Many characters have Xbox 360s in their rooms, however, that wouldn't be released until November of 2005. The developers probably realized this, and changed the name of the object to "DVD Player", although it still uses the 360 textures.
    • Articles about Half-Life 2 and Hitman: Blood Money despite the game taking place before either was released.
    • A notepad late in the game has a list of some Deus Ex tropes, despite TV Tropes barely existing back then.
    • If you allow ZeroPresence to aid you when you first raid the PDX HQ on a WorldCorp playthrough, he will call out "Boom Headshot!" when killing a guard, although the episode of Pure Pwnage where it was from wouldn't be released until December of that year.
  • Shenmue, set in 1986, lets the character win Hang-On and Space Harrier games that can be used on the character's Sega Saturn, a system which did not exist in 1986. Almost certainly intentional, though; Shenmue comes from Sega, who would know when their own games came out, and since home systems in 1986 couldn't do arcade-perfect ports of them (the arcade versions of both came out in 1985), it would have had to be done anachronistically (though it must be noted that these games' ports were two of the most important titles for the Sega Master System in 1986).
    • Similarly, there is the range of Sega-themed toys available from the gashapon (capsule toy) machines, again most certainly intentional.
    • Ryo and Fukuhara both have Virtua Fighter posters in their rooms, seven years before the first game came out.
    • Ryo's watch is explicitly a Timex Indiglo, not available until 1992 at the earliest. The model of Timex Expedition (Timex T433914E), on which the design of Ryo's watch is based, was not released until 1998.
  • When They Cry:
    • Higurashi: When They Cry is set in 1983, but nothing except the dates of past events really agrees with that. The most blatant example is a reference to the Cardcaptor Sakura anime in the game version of Watanagashi, which didn't premiere until 1998. The American release calls it Card Master Sakura, using a Captain Ersatz which would not be limited by real-life dates. It's unclear whether this is a deliberate Translation Correction, an accidental Translation Correction, or whether the original Japanese version already used the Captain Ersatz. Anime-wise, there's a reference to Maria Watches Over Us. In Watangashi, in most medias, the doll tends to resemble a Rozen Maiden. There is one thing about the series that does match 1983, though: the lack of cell phones and Google, which would be serious Trope Breakers.
    • The spiritual sequel, Umineko: When They Cry is, if anything, worse. Not only do they reference Cardcaptor Sakura again, people cosplay as Touhou characters, and some of the characters have even played Higurashi or watched it on a flatscreen TV in the anime.
  • The Sims:
    • The Sims 3 takes place two generations before The Sims 2, but is still the modern day, even more-so than The Sims 2 was (for example, the game without expansion has the players using Blackberry esque cellphone in contrast of the Nokia esque keypad cellphone, which later in the University Life expansion pack of The Sims 3, replaced with touch screen smartphones). This is especially odd because The Sims, which takes place in between the two games, has a distinct 1970s aesthetic (and still with then-modern technology). The Sims 3 seems to be trying to go for the World War 2 era feel, but everything is distinctly late 2000s. Considering the world is set in a Fantasy Counterpart Culture, we can let it mostly slide.
    • Then The Sims 4 simply ignores any continuity or plot introduced by the previous games and its spinoffs, relegating them into Mythology Gag.
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Snake's mullet won't be a thing for another twenty years. There is no explanation for modern-looking Japanese instant ramen or the modern day biscuit Calorie Mate showing up in the game either.
    • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is set in 1974, but:
      • There is a pop song in the game, sung by one of the characters, which is a modern J-Pop production complete with digital synthesisers and Auto-Tune. This can be handwaved as non-diagetic, especially because an alternate version of the song exists in the story which uses a lush 70s-style soft-pop production with a dense string arrangement.
      • Several of the guns didn't come out for a few years after the setting. A lot of this can be handwaved as being MSF developed tech.
      • The Product Placement items have a modern appearance, even for the consumer products that did exist in the 1970s.
    • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain:
      • Set a year (Ground Zeroes) and ten year (The Phantom Pain) after Peace Walker, has Snake and his operatives equipped with an iDroid, a smartphone-esque device with projection instead of screen, with user interface that more like 2015 instead of 1984. This is jarring because the immediate chronological game, the first Metal Gear, has basically contemporary technology, with Solid Snake simply equipped with a radio transceiver.
      • The soundtrack uses licensed 80s music to give a feel of that time, but most of the songs are a few years into the future after 1984. The most anachronistic one is The Cure's "Friday I'm In Love", which was released in 1992. It's difficult to handwave this, since it's not clear how MSF's advanced tech would have made Robert Smith write the exact same songs when he was eight years younger.
  • Referred to in-universe in Jade Empire, where the Player Character has to play a part in a play. The play is set hundreds of years ago, during the foundation of the Jade Empire, but it's got some satirical digs at the Lotus Assassins, who were only formed two decades ago.
  • The Toy Story segment of Kingdom Hearts III is set around the Turn of the Millennium (as evidenced both by the release date of the movie and by video game boxes like "Amazing Jam 2001"), but Rex is into 2010s-style JRPGs and some enemy toys are pastiches of popular 2010s toylines.
  • YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG is supposed to take place around the Turn of the Millennium, as its name implies, yet it makes reference to Super NES JRPGs like Chrono Trigger and Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals as if they were venerated classics and adult characters wax nostalgic about how important they were to them as kids. In real life, console RPGs were just starting to take off internationally with the release of Final Fantasy VII, and the games mentioned would have been about four years old at most, making it impossible for the characters in question to have played them as children and still be young adults. The creator's previous game, Two Brothers, also gets namedropped in dialogue and plays a major role in resolving the game's plot, despite being almost two entire decades away from conception, let along release. The most glaring example though is the protagonist himself, who dresses like a typical hipster, which have several years to go before existing.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Hotel Dusk: Room 215, Kyle has a digital pager in 1979, back when pagers weren't generally in use outside of hospitals and fire departments due to their short range and bulk.

    Web Videos 
  • Narrowly averted in Marble Hornets: the sole video set in 1991 had to be taken down and re-edited because it featured a kid wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants T-shirt (the show came out in 1999).

    Western Animation 


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