Rimmer: Look, Casablanca. They've re-made Casablanca.
Lister: Philistines! I mean, Casablanca? The one starring Myra Dinglebat and Peter Beardsley was definitive.
Holly: I saw that one. Knockout. "Of all the space bars on all the worlds, you had to re-materialize in mine."
A work set in the future will often take elements of the present day and refer to them as a way to show that it is our future and not a fictional place. One form this can take is for there to be a reference to a contemporary Long Runner, and show that it is still going strong.
The chosen long runner is usually one that is well known for having several Numbered Sequels, which means all you need do is bump the number up by a few dozen.
Usually a throwaway gag, or incidental background detail for the eagle eyed.
But as nothing dates quite as fast as science fiction, the reference might pass a later audience by altogether.
This trope was popularised in The '80s, and the two most common film franchises joked about in the earliest examples were Rocky and Jaws, the former because it had already produced an unusually large number of Numbered Sequels, and the latter because it was often regarded as a Cash Cow Franchise remaking the same film over and over again, so conceivably they could carry on doing it forever. Nowadays, the most frequent targets seem to be the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars.
- A Studio C skit deals with Disney executives in the year 2132 celebrating the successful release of their 10,000th Star Wars film: Don Solo: The epic story of Han's seventh cousin twice removed. It further suggests that every individual stormtrooper had had a movie made about him even though every stormtroopers backstory is just like every other, yet they somehow missed a left foot in the corner of a frame, so "we must create a SAGA around him, beginning with episode 4, then 5, then 2, then 9, then 6, then 1, 8, 3, and finally 7".
- DC One Million is set in the 853rd Century, on the date that Action Comics #1000000 (their oldest property) would be published. Despite being the source of the title of the series, this fact never comes up in the story line. What makes this case unique is that it actually is sold to the public in real life.
- In a Judge Dredd story, Dredd visits the long-since abandoned New York Times Square. A movie theatre advertises Rocky 37 and Mad Max 25.
- At one point in The Mysterious Case of Neelix's Lungs, some of Voyager's crew are said to be playing Call of Duty 104 on the holodeck.
- ALIEN!!! mentions Star Trek: The Next, Next, Next, Next, Next, Next, Next, Next, Next, Next, Next Generation.
- Back to the Future Part II had a holographic advertisement for Jaws 19, directed by Max Spielberg (Steven's son, who was four years old when BTTF2 came out), with the tagline: "This time it's really, REALLY personal." All Marty has to say is, "The shark still looks fake." When the year the movie takes place in rolled around, Universal (maker of both BTTF and Jaws) did a Jaws 19 trailer. The sequels start with Self-Deprecation ("Jaw$ 5: It's all business"), explore the various ways a Franchise Zombie rolls (Space Shark, CyberShark, Brody's grandchildren, prequel/sequel to the prequel), and even go for specific Shout-Outs ("Ivan Sharkovsky", Jaws in New York, Fifty Scales of Gray).
- Spaceballs features a reference to "Rocky Five... Thousand". This is a subtle Brick Joke; earlier, several Rocky sequels are visible on the shelf at the start of the "You're looking at now, sir" bit.
- In Airplane II: The Sequel, as Sonny Bono buys the bomb in the spaceport gift shop, a poster for Rocky XXXVIII is shown behind him, with an extremely old Rocky.
- In Real Steel, there is a promo for the Xbox 720 As it was probably supposed to be the next Xbox after the Xbox 360, it ended up being an underestimate if anything: the movie is set in 2020 but the Xbox One came out in Fall 2013, with its successor the Xbox Series X being announced in late 2019.
- Robot Wars (1993) had a movie theater marquee showing Puppet Master 54. Also counts as a Shout-Out, since David Allen did special effects work on both movie series.
- In Woody Allen's Sleeper, which takes place two centuries into the future, a McDonald's sign shows the number of hamburgers served as 1 followed by a hundred zeroes (a googol). In real life, the chain ended the count at 100 million in 1994, replacing it with "billions and billions served."
- Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man at one point shows a billboard in the background advertising Die Hardest V, which is a bit of an odd choice as the film came out in 1991 when there had been only two Die Hard films made so far, and it takes place in 1996 which is really overestimating the rate of churning out sequels. Good job at predicting it would turn into a long-running franchise, though!
- Invoked in Deadpool 2 when Cable admits he's from the future and Deadpool asks him which Sharknado they're on.
- 22 Jump Street ends by suggesting this is going to happen to itself, depicting fake trailers and posters for over twenty sequels getting churned out using increasingly labored twists to keep the franchise relevant, such as the characters going to space or Jonah Hill getting Other Darrined with Seth Rogen.
- The Company Novels have an anglophilic character a few centuries in the future who's memorized the names of all three-hundred-and-some actors to play the Doctor.
- In a German novel called 2049, set in that year, the protagonists see an ad for Star Wars — the fourth trilogy. At the time this was a joke since episode III was meant to be the last one, but since Disney started making more...
- Doctor Who
- The spin-off novel Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Glass Prison, published a year before Buffy the Vampire Slayer concluded its seven-season run in 2003, established that the show would be in its 792nd season by the year 2600.
- The 2003 novel The Last Resort, following the release of the fifth numbered Star Wars film, has the Eighth Doctor's companion Fitz watching "all nine" Star Wars films in the 2040s. Then in the 2007 novel Forever Autumn, strongly hints that George Lucas, who was apparently influenced telepathically by Jar Jar Binks, oversaw the completion of all of them, commenting that he was way off the mark "way off the mark" by Episode IX; at that point in real life Lucas had pretty much ruled out doing a third trilogy, then he sold the franchise to Disney. Ultimately, the saga of nine films was concluded in 2019, with a few other films set in the Star Wars universe too.
- The 2007 novel Peacemaker has the Tenth Doctor offer to show Martha Jones Pirates of the Caribbean VI. The novel was published following the release of the third film.
- "Ridiculous" isn't quite the word here given the low number and the actual franchise's reach, but one story of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers mentions an old (mid-21st century) film: Rocky VIII: The Clone Factor!
- Another Star Trek Expanded Universe novel had Worf watching Rambo 4 about fifteen years before the movie actually came out. Despite this, Worf's description of the overall story (The villains are obvious, the hero never speaks, everybody dies) is fairly accurate. In the same book, another film, titled Missing Link III, is also mentioned. So far there is only one of them.
- In The Nelson Touch Kurt complains about his mistress making him sit through all the remakes of "Kung Fu Panda".
- Later in the series, "Star Wars XXII" is mentioned, along with a hugely popular remake of Return of the Jedi that replaced the Ewoks with scantily clad humanoids.
- In Steven Brust's Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grill, the occupants of a time-hopping restaurant find themselves several centuries in the future, in the human colony-world city of New Quebec. One of the local TV series is called "Star Trek: 3100", indicating that the Star Trek franchise has continued popping out spin-offs and reboots.
- Liv in the Future has a movie theatre marquee visible in one of Liv's early Instagram posts that's advertising Star Wars XXXIII.
- Ready Player One mostly averts this being set in virtual recreations of media from the 1980s but it's mentioned that more Indiana Jones movies have been made and apparently weren't very good.
- Ready Player Two refers to Robert Downey Jr. as the first actor to play Iron Man implying more movies or TV shows and there's said to be several movies and TV shows set on Middle-Earth.
- SCTV had Jaws 23, in which the town of Amity has actually become dependent on shark attacks to draw the tourist trade.
- The Red Dwarf episode, Better Than Life has a passing mention of Friday The 13th: Part 1,649 and a Casablanca remake starring Peter Beardsley and Myra Dinglebat.
- This was a common gag in the 20 Minutes into the Future show Alien Nation.
- An episode of Two and a Half Men had a Saw sequel somewhere in the double digits range. In real life, the ninth entry in the series (Spiral) would only be released in 2021.
- Clarissa Explains It All had Ferguson bragging about getting the highest score in Mega Man 12 in one episode. At the time, the series was only up to its fourth entry; the eleventh was only released in 2018.
- A Dead Ringers sketch of a deleted scene from Terminator 2 involves several Arnold Schwarzeneggers appearing from the future to tell Arnold to stop doing Terminator sequels (and Kindergarten Cop). Before Sarah Connor kills Arnold to avoid these sequels they're up to Terminator 23, then another Arnold appears and reveals there are no more Terminator sequels, but there is now a Kindergarten Cop 14.
- A sketch of The Impressionable Jon Culshaw, broadcast in 2004, predicted that the ITV network on which it aired would have its ninth numbered channel broadcasting to the lunar and Martian colonies by 2050, at a time when it only had two numbered channels and a handful of unnumbered affiliates. Later that year, ITV3 was launched, followed by ITV4 the next year, which remains the highest numbered ITV channel to this day while a few unnumbered channels have came and gone over the years.
- On one episode of Mad About You, Paul finds Bruce Willis hiding out after escaping from the set of Die Hard 4: Die Already! And years later, we would end up having a Die Hard 4... well, sorta, 'cause that's not the title it used (its international title is Die Hard 4.0, though).
- At the beginning of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary simulcast, there was a short bit of the Eleventh Doctor showing up to introduce the show. He had just come from the show's 100th Anniversary, which brought together "all 57 Doctors." That means they've either got fifty years to go through another 45 Doctors, or else that Doctors from even farther ahead in the series' future popped back for a visit.
- Played with in the seventh season of Parks and Recreation: because it is set just two years after the time its made, the sequels mentioned are ridiculous, but not because of the high number. Instead, they're sequels to films no one wants even one sequel to (Hitch 2: Son of a Hitch, starring Jaden Smith) or have other bizarre details (a reboot of The Bourne Series starring Kevin James).
- Minority Report (2015) had in its pilot an ad for the 75th season of The Simpsons. Both shows air on Fox.
- Dark Matter has a reference to a movie theater showing Star Wars XXXVIII. It's stated to be a classic film that's been remastered for virtual reality. Given the use of the word "classic", the series may extend well beyond that.
- In the second season of The Good Place, when Michael and the four humans sneak into The Bad Place, the train station has a large poster advertising: "Pirates of the Caribbean 6: The Haunted Crows Nest or Whatever, Who Gives a Crap?" Then at the bottom it says, "Playing in every theatre, everywhere, forever." Series creator Mike Schur explained "the No. 1 reason I like it is that the implication is that that's where those movies are made, and then theyre exported up here. That's where they come from; theyre made in hell."
- Lil B, "Video Game Master" mentions Tekken 8, which can't be too far off. (The arcade version of Tekken 7 was released in March 2015, with the console release set for early 2017.)
- "Weird Al" Yankovic named his parody of "Eye of the Tiger" as "Theme from Rocky XIII".
- His song "Yoda" (parody of "Lola"), while not being specific, still plays off the 80s-era rumors that The Empire Strikes Back would be the first of eight sequels:
I know that I'll
be coming back someday
I'll be playin' this part
'Til I'm old and grey
The long-term contract
I had to sign
Said I'll be making these movies
'Til the end of time....
- And then, nearly twenty years later, Disney bought the Star Wars franchise and started production on a new series of films, which indeed take place after the original trilogy and features the original cast as supporting characters.
- His song "Yoda" (parody of "Lola"), while not being specific, still plays off the 80s-era rumors that The Empire Strikes Back would be the first of eight sequels:
- Barry Mitchell did a novelty song entitled "Stallone Again, Naturally" which specifically called out Superman XI and Rocky XLVII.
- Busted did this to themselves in the song "Year 3000".
I took a trip to the year 3000
This song had gone multi-platinum
Everybody bought our seventh album
It had outsold Michael Jackson
- Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has a rather meta example when in the final trial, Tsumugi reveals that Danganronpa V3 was the fifty-third season of the Danganronpa series, mentioning other humorous titles such as Final Danganronpa 5: Monokuma Returns and Anniversary Danganronpa 10: Birth of Despair.
- Deus Ex: In Versalife, you can find an email from Austin Grossman to William Gibson bragging he finally beat NetHack v54.3.1 with v54.3.3 coming out next week.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution, set in 2027, has a poster for a Final Fantasy XXVII, a nod to Eidos' then-recent acquisition by Square Enix. Though the game was set 16 years in the future and released the same year at Final Fantasy XIV, so the number wasn't really "impossible" back then, just a lot faster than they'd been coming out.
- A PDA message in Doom 3 says "The new Quake-43 game blows my mind."
- In EarthBound Beginnings, the line "Have you played Dragon Quest IV? I'm still having trouble with Dragon Quest III" was changed to reference Super Mario Bros. 7 and Super Mario Bros. 3.
- The Last of Us You can find a newspaper ad for Uncharted 13... with Justin Bieber as Drake.
- Mega Man Legends 2 has the "Game Cartridge" item. According to the item description, it's "Resident Evil 43."
- Pink Panther's Passport to Peril has an in-flight movie in all of the private jets, which is "Sister Act 16." In the sequel, you find a VHS tape of the film in a Siberian village, which is needed for one of the game's puzzles.
- Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers, with its Time Travel theme, labelled its various time periods using sequel numbers. The post-apocalyptic future into which Roger was initially thrown is identified as Space Quest XII; the galactic mall in the Space Quest X period also tosses a reference to King's Quest XXXXVIII: The Quest For More Disk Space (back in the days before CD-ROM drives), which clocks in at a whole 12 gigabytesnote ! It's also stated to be by Roberta Williams III. The Xenon Supercomputer has King's Quest XLIII installed, taking up approximately 842 Petabytes.
- Space Quest VI: Roger Wilco in The Spinal Frontier had a throwaway gag where Roger looks at a broken down (and abandoned) movie theater. The narration explains it's a bummer as he really wanted to watch Tango & Cash 27. You can tell that narrator Gary Owens was Corpsing as he read that line.
- Implied in Starcraft II with an ad for "Level 800 Elite Tauren Chieftain"note .
- In Rise of the Dragon the main character's girlfriend mentions that while he missed their date she watched Rambo 12 on the TV while waiting for him.
- In Neil Manke's Half-Life mod U.S.S. Darkstar, one of the cabins on the eponymous research vessel contains a copy of Quake XXVI, with the earlier games' conceit of adding pointed elements to the logo design with each number extended into a key-like shape.
- The manual story for Zona 0 has Topo Soft sponsoring the titular game in the late 30th century, flush with profits from its hit games Mad Mix XVIII and Viaje al centro de Saturno.
- Thanks to an Ascended Meme, Mass Effect 2 has a movie about Blasto the Hanar Spectre advertised on Illium. Come Mass Effect 3, six months in-universe, and there's been five more films, with number 6 advertised as a radio drama. Furthermore, in the Citadel DLC, you get the opportunity to act alongside Javik in Blasto 7: Blasto Goes To War, with talks about Blasto 8: Blasto Cures The Genophage immediately after filming for number 7 has concluded. Though given the acting, and the fact that it's mainly made by salarians, it says a lot.
- The Gundam Vs Series has an easy-to-miss example: The first few games were based off of a single Gundam series and had a relevant "(faction) vs. (faction)" title, like Federation vs. Zeon and A.E.U.G. vs. Titans. The Crossover game Gundam vs. Gundam's Excuse Plot says that by 2032, there will be a Vs. game for every single Gundam seriesnote , with their titles flashing by quickly in the opening video, such as Londo Bell vs. Neo Zeon and OZ vs. White Fang.
- Mocked to hell and back in Five Nights at Freddy's World, by the creator of the games himself no less; one of the minigames introduced in Update 2 is FNAF 57: Freddy in Space (itself based off an April Fool's joke on Scott's webpage), a side-scrolling shooter when the antagonist is Scott Cawthon's head himself, listing off a number of ridiculous sequels and spin-offs (including FNAF 61: Freddy vs Bonnie, said to be the start of the Freddy Cinematic Universe). Considering FNAF has done spectacularly well for an indie franchise made by one guy note , it is almost certainly Self-Deprecation.
- Trade Wars 2002 featured, among its ASCII movie experience, "Debbie Does Rigel".
- Decline of Video Gaming did this with about everything. Though a real Devil May Cry 4 has come out since the first video was made (along with a fifth DMC about 11 years after that), the same fortunately does not apply to Metal Gear Solid 7: Sons of Daughters of Mothers of Best Friends of Cousins of Dogs of Fathers of Liberty or a Final Fantasy title with an endless jumble of Roman numerals.
- In the Homestar Runner e-mail "videography", there is a VHS tape labeled Problem Child 1-8.
- Yahtzee invokes it in his Peggle review:
Yahtzee: "Once your budget hits seven digits you're supposed to make Gun Battle Slap Fight Thirty-Seven for the PlayStation Twelve...!"
- The spacemen watched Weekend at Bernie's 27 in the pod, while James Bond has been on the decline since Movie 200, and still hasn't cast an alien in the lead role.
- Red vs. Blue Season 11 has an offhand reference to the eleventh remake of the Superman movies: Superman Origins 3: Revelations. All we know about it is that Donut isn't a fan, Doc thinks it's "awesome," and it involves the Phantom Zone somehow.
- A comic of 21st Century Fox mentions Star Wars Episode 11, which was apparently a remake of the Holiday Special. And possibly worth unleashing a nigh-unkillable computer virus to erase.
- A Flash Forward strip in Arthur, King of Time and Space has Contemporary Mordred showing Arthur stills from Star Trek XXIX.
- In Freefall, a conversation about the depiction of non-human intelligences in human fiction includes references to Terminator 57 and Alien 79.
- TV Tropes has a page for Jaws 19, released on October 21, 2015 and directed by Max Spielberg, son of Steven Spielberg.
- One What If? entry (this one) considered the prospect of twenty-six The Land Before Time sequels.
- The Progress Quest forums mention a Progress Quest Silver Edition, Gold Edition, Platinum Edition, Diamond-encrusted Edition, and 3D Edition.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd:
- Episode 96: The Lester the Unlikely sequels Lester the Unlikely 2 (Lester pulls down his pants, sucks his thumb and takes a shit), Lester the Unlikely 3 (Cannot get past the title screen. Push start, and Lester falls down and farts), Lester the Unlikely 4 on the SNES (doesn't work at all, causes the SNES to explode), Lester the Unlikely 5 (Not a game. A bag of shit), and Lester the Unlikely on the PlayStation 4 (Disc made of orangutang diarrhea).
- Episode 139: "They're probably up to Mega Man X 20."
- On The Jetsons Made-for-TV Movie Rockin' with Judy Jetson, George watches a clip from Rocky 912.
- The Simpsons brought us Star Trek XII: So Very Tired a couple years before Star Trek: Generations was released, which was the seventh in the franchise.
- But that movie featured the casts of both the original Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation, signaling that the franchise was moving in a radically different direction. The joke presumes that they were just going to continue releasing Star Trek sequels with the actors from the original 1966 series (it should be noted that they did revert to the original characters by the 11th movie, with one of the original actors in it and the actual twelfth.)
- And another Rocky joke in "Lemon of Troy" (though another Rocky film would come true, but it would just be called Rocky Balboa, and even if it did have a number next to it, it would be the sixth, not the seventh):
Paul: [in a hospital bed] I wish I was dead. Oy!
- Don Hertzfeldt's couch gag from "Clown in the Dumps" posits a radically-altered far-future "Sampsans", whose 164,775.7th "epasode" airs Septembar 36.4 in the year 10,535.
- Also when Jay Sherman makes an appearance previewing aging Charles Bronson in Death Wish IX.
- Family Guy: in Rocky VI (which came out before Rocky Balboa did) Rocky goes to Mars for a fight.
Adrian: Rocky, please don't go to Mars and fight the Martian.
Rocky: I gotta do what I gotta do.
Adrian: But there's no oxygen on Mars.
Rocky: Yeah? That means there's no oxygen for him either. That Martian wants a fight, he'll get a fight.
- In an episode of Godzilla: The Series, the characters find themselves in the future, and come across a cinema that was showing Ghostbusters 10.
- On Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Lilo ends up in the future in her own adult body and is excited that she is finally old enough to go see a movie by herself. Sure enough, the theater's playing Wasp Mummies IX: Return of Another Final Chapter Part 2.
"I guess we missed a few sequels."
- Inverted in Futurama, when the PlanEx crew meet the Beastie Boys. The Boys' later albums are all separated by several years, but this takes it further.
Fry: I love you guys! Back in the 20th century, I had all five of your albums.
Ad-Rock: That was a thousand years ago. Now we got seven.
- A variant shows up in the Muppet Babies episode "It's Only Pretendo" — The titles of all of Gonzo's video games are variations "Son of Super Barrio Bros", including "Second Cousin of Super Barrio Bros".