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Ridiculously Successful Future Self

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And it should be nice to know that everything will work out fine,
and Iím gonna be a national treasure!
But now there's all these expectations that Iíll just...have to realign,
and there's this future self up to which I have to measure!
It's just a lot of pressure...

Cross Distant Finale with Improbable Age, sprinkle a little Future Badass, and leave to simmer.

When a series involving young characters skips ahead to the future it will rarely be more than a few years into the future (unless Time Travel is involved of course), which keeps the characters fairly close to the people we know, and saves on the age makeup. Such is the temptation to show where the character ends up however, that many writers show the character already well established and very successful in their chosen career, even if only a few short years have passed and logic would suggest they should still be somewhere at the bottom, working their way up.

In extreme cases the character, who has barely started out a particular path before the time skip is at the very pinnacle of their profession when we rejoin him four years later. Compare Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome. It can be justified if the future self was using Time Travel for Fun and Profit.

Contrast Future Me Scares Me and Future Loser.


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    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • After the Jungle Series: To name some examples:
    • Helga marries the love of her life, Arnold, and the couple ends up having three children—two sons named Andrew "Andy" Phillip Shortman and Henry Miles Shortman and one daughter (who's the middle child of the three) named Megan Gertrude Shortman. As for what Arnold and Helga do for a living as adults:
      • Arnold's a world-renowned anthropologist (and his primary workplace is Hillwood University), being most well-known for his work and research with the Green-Eyed People of San Lorenzo.
      • Helga's a top-selling, world-renowned poet, novelist and shirt story writer (specializing in romance literature), with her most famous work being Cecile, which ends up turning into a series—in fact, by the time Henry's a year old, Helga's on the 10th book in that series. Helga had also published her first novel (the first book of the Cecile-series) when she was still pregnant with Andy (at around 24 or 25 years oldnote ).
    • Gerald and Phoebe get married and have two daughters named Kiara Satomi Johanssen (same age as Andy) and Akiko "Kiki" Johanssen (same age as Megan).
      • Phoebe's the head scientist at a big corporation based in the Hillwood area.
      • Gerald's a high-ranking executive for an extremely successful company started by his old friend, Fuzzy Slippers.
    • Rhonda becomes a top fashion designer with her own fashion house based in Hillwood. She also ends up marrying Thaddeus Gammelthorpe (aka, "Curly"), who becomes a successful artist/photographer and with whom Rhonda has a daughter named Courtney.
    • Mr. Green (who ran the butcher shop Green Meat) has become the mayor of Hillwood by the time Andy and Kiara are in 4th-grade. Harold (who marries Pattie and has four children with her) takes over the butcher shop after Mr. Green retires and proves to be very successful.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Kind of approached from the other direction in Night Watch. Vimes, a happily married man awaiting the birth of his first child, an alcoholic who has very successfully quit drinking, one of the richest people in Ankh-Morpork, a duke, at the top of his profession and one of the most powerful people in the city, goes back in time thirty years, meets his eighteen-year-old self and realizes what an idiot he was.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Brooke Davis of One Tree Hill has become a millionaire leader in the fashion world by four years after graduating high school. She runs her ultra-successful clothing line, magazine, and tv channel at the ripe old age of twenty-two.
  • Dawson Leary of Dawson's Creek is the creator of a hit television series based on his life by the age of twenty-four or twenty-five.
  • Nathan Petrelli of Heroes will make it from newly elected Congressman to President in less than five years. Even given the example of the previous holder of the office that rapid a rise seems a little bit of a stretch, no matter how many (pot) pies Linderman has his fingers in. But perhaps not so much of a stretch as:
  • In Charmed (episode 2 season 2), the sisters travel 10 years to their future selves for a day, and Prue finds herself the super-rich owner of numerous big successful auction houses over the world. Subverted because they change that future from happening, and later made impossible because of Prue's early death.
  • One episode of Boy Meets World had a Flash Forward to seven years in the future in which Jack has become a "captain of industry" despite the fact that he would only be 27 or 28 at that point. However, this sequence is not canon and is implied to be an extended Imagine Spot in Eric's head.
    • In the sequel series, Jack has succeeded in becoming a captain of industry.
  • Bones is extremely successful without time travel but at her high school reunion, she just can't do her usual thing of casually bringing up the fact that she's very sexually attractive/intelligent/wealthy/famous despite (or perhaps because of) Booth's coaching.
  • The Grand Finale of Desperate Housewives gives this type of ending to each of the main characters (except Susan, whose fate is left unstated): Lynette becomes CEO of a multimillion-dollar company in New York and buys an apartment overlooking Central Park, Bree moves to Kentucky and is elected to the state legislature, and Gabrielle starts her own fashion website and TV show, moves to California with Carlos, and buys a mansion.
  • A season 7 episode of How I Met Your Mother features flash-forwards within several flashbacks. Ted and Marshall formed a pact during their college days that they will watch the original Star Wars trilogy every three years while envisioning how their lives will be in three years. Barney eventually joined the pact a few years before the series starts. Ted imagines himself being a successful architect who has designed multiple skyscrapers and is married to a woman who resembles Robin, has a name starting with R, and is from another country. Marshall imagines himself with a mustache, married to Lily, and a successful lawyer with a family of five children. Barney's is always the same, being with another woman before pushing her out of the apartment. And in each of their imaginations, Ted and Marshall somehow developed a thick British accent.
  • Power Rangers S.P.D.: In "History", Kira Ford, Conner McKnight, and Ethan James from Power Rangers: Dino Thunder are brought to the future and help the S.P.D. Rangers against their enemies. They wish to stay and continue helping, but are persuaded to go back to their time because they become famous as civilians: Kira becomes a great singer who still has fans far in the future, Conner opens a worldwide soccer camp that still trains the youth, and Ethan designs software that is still in use at the S.P.D. base. If they stayed, their accomplishments would be erased and history would drastically change.

    Video Games 
  • Done twice with the player character in Grim Fandango. First, Manny arrives in the port town of Rubacava and takes a job sweeping up in a nightclub, which he owns a year later. Then he leaves and begins washing decks on a ship. After another year, he's the ship's captain. We have no idea how he managed to accomplish both, apart from a missable line near the beginning of the game:
    Manny: I wonder if I would be happier on a ship? Then again, I'm so competitive I wouldn't rest until I became captain.
    • Before either of those, he was once a very successful Reaper (before the game's conspiracy set in). Throughout the game, Manny has proven himself to be quite the Guile Hero. He just took what he learned and applied it well.
  • In Yakuza, Keisuke Baba is the shot-caller for the B-Kings, a small-time street gang in Kamurocho. In Yakuza 4, he became a wealthy and renowned pitcher after he dropped his flags and took up professional baseball.

  • Subverted in Sluggy Freelance when Torg starts acting all smart and educated after some information a Time Traveler left behind indicates he becomes a world-famous professor in the future.
    Riff: Actually he's destined to play "The Professor" in a musical version of Gilligan's Island and the Demon is going to force the world to watch. (shudder) I just didn't have the heart to tell him.
  • Rayne from Least I Could Do witnesses a great future for himself during a hallucination - he takes over the company after Marcy, has a mansion shaped like Minas Tirith, lives with his favorite niece, still has all his friends, and grows a beard worthy of Sean Connery. It's a justifiable exaggeration as it's his fantasy.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben of Ben 10 runs into two versions of his future self, Ben 10,000, from different timelines, one in the original series and one in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Both versions have a beard, are quite buff and good-looking, respected as heroes throughout the universe and can wield their shape-changing devices to their full potential. Justified in that Ben is already working towards achieving such a future even before meeting his future self.
    • One of these future selves also hints that his cousin Gwen became President of Earth, which we see when the 2016 reboot series has that Ben encounter his future self. In this timeline, many of his villains also eventually reformed and began working for her.
  • In one episode of The Chipmunks, Alvin gets a letter stating that he's won a sweepstakes, and has a choice between $500, or a mystery prize that could be anything. Using a time computer invention of Simon's, the Chipmunks and Chipettes look into the future to see what each choice brings. If Alvin chooses the $500, it'll eventually grow into a massive fortune that will allow him and Britney to live in an opulent mansion, while also helping Simon and Jeannette become Noble Prize-winning scholars and Theodore and Elenor open their own luxury restaurant. (By comparison, choosing the mystery prize will to poverty.) It's a moot point, of course, as Alvin turns out to be too young to be awarded either prize.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot: After dumping Sheldon for Sebastian, Pteresa declares to fellow Alpha Bitches Brit and Tiff that ďpopular people always win in the endĒ. The scene then cuts to twenty years later, when Pteresa is a disheveled, disgruntled mother constantly having to bail her husband out of jail, and the Crust Cousins arenít looking too hot, either. They tell Pteresa that she should have married Sheldon, who apparently is a billionaire now.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Lisa Simpson was President of the US at the age of 38 in a glimpse of the future (having succeeded Donald Trump). She is a genius, but that is still five years younger than Kennedy, the youngest person ever elected President, and he was a war hero. Lisa was an unmarried, vegetarian Buddhist. She must have had one heck of a campaign manager. This is then played with as it turns out that though she is extremely competent, her presidency may be seen as a failure because the policies of her predecessor were so disastrous. The episode does end on a hopeful note, as Bart manages to talk the US's creditor nations into delaying payment demands.
    • Bart's future career path in the several flashforward episodes goes from a garage band member to unemployed stoner to demolition man to law school student to (down the road) Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Apparently the Simpsons become the next Kennedy family.
    • Maggie Simpson in "Holidays of Future Past" becomes an ultra-successful rock star, with one poster talking about her as "the voice of her generation".
    • While not quite as extreme as the Simpsons children, Otto Mann goes from barely competent bus driver and stoner to a successful taxi cab business owner.
  • In the American Dad! episode "The Unincludeds", Steve and the boys hold a party for unpopular children. This event somehow causes Steve and Snot's future selves to come and warn them not to become popular in the party or else their friendship will end. Steve accidentally ends up becoming popular, causing their friendship to the expense of Steve's future self becoming so ripped and successful that he has had sex with girls almost nonstop. Snot's, on the other hand, keeps on slipping and slipping to the point he becomes some strange monster fusion gone wrong.
  • In the Danny Phantom episode "The Ultimate Enemy", we learn that—at the age of about 24—Danny is now an evil half-Vlad, half-Danny mutant who has taken over Amity Park and rules it with an iron fist. And by "rules," of course, we mean "punches." Hell, as the movie starts, it's heavily implied that Amity Park is the only place he hasn't taken over. Managing that is merely his Establishing Character Moment.
  • In "A Sitch in Time", Kim Possible villain Shego has taken over the entire world at the ripe young age of about thirty-five or forty (possibly). It helped that she used time travel to amass a fortune and break up Team Possible.
  • Accidentally subverted by Cartman himself in South Park. A successful and healthy man appears, claiming to be the future Cartman, and tells his younger self that he's just started on the path to wealth, success, and happiness as long as he becomes nicer, goes on a diet, works hard, and stays away from drugs. However, because the episode focused on parents trying to scare their kids with actors posing as Future Loser versions of themselves, Cartman doesn't believe a word of it and says he'll start acting even worse and do drugs just to spite him. The instant Cartman walks away, the future Cartman transforms into a poor, fat slovenly mechanic.
    Future!Cartman: Goddamnit
    • Happens AGAIN with Cartman, in the flash-forward future where...he's a successful rabbi who is happily married. would be downplayed, but it's CARTMAN. However, after the heroes Set Right What Once Went Wrong it results in everyone else being largely happier with the exception of Cartman, who is now an alcoholic hobo constantly screaming at everyone.
    • In the Post-COVID special, Kenny goes from living in abject poverty as a 10-year-old to an incredibly wealthy celebrity scientist as a 50-year-old man.
  • In Rocket Power, Reggie flashed ahead about ten years and was a publishing mogul living on top of a skyscraper—at about 22. Which becomes Hilarious in Hindsight as, judging by the original air date, her imagined success coincides with the decline of the magazine industry.
  • One episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius involves the main characters viewing their themselves in the future: Jimmy's won the Nobel Prize in every category, Carl's a professional llama breeder whose llamas can breathe underwater and talk, and Sheen's a fashion model so popular that (according to Jimmy) it's headline news whenever he changes his socks. Then they screw up the future by giving Libby a plant that turns her into an Evil Overlord and them into Future Losers, and spend the rest of the episode trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • The Codename: Kids Next Door Distant Finale (with Flashbacks) revealed that, as an adult, Numbuh 4 (who was Book Dumb to the point of near-illiteracy during the present) becomes a top doctor who had graduated with honors from Harvard while Numbuh 3 (who Numbuh 4 marries) becomes a high-ranking business executive like her mother before her, even becoming the head of the Rainbow Monkey-corporation.
  • In Meet the Robinsons, Heartwarming Orphan and unsuccessful inventor Lewis actually travels to the future, which has become a Utopian place thanks to the inventions of scientific genius Cornelius Robinson. Later we find out that Cornelius is actually Lewis' future self.
  • The title characters of Phineas and Ferb don't actually meet their counterparts when they go 20 years into the future, because Phineas is in Sweden "for the awards ceremony"note  while Ferb is at Camp Davidnote  Given what the pair can accomplish in an afternoon, this is hardly surprising.
    • Also, Stacy is President of Uruguay. Interestingly, Word of God says they came up with an explanation for how this happened when somebody at the studio asked them about it but didn't reveal what.
    • Oddly enough, somewhat averted for both the title characters in "Act Your Age", which takes place ten years after the events of the show proper; they're just ordinary kids with college plans, although, as might be expected, they have a lot of acceptance letters to choose from. (The original plan for the episode played this trope completely straight with Ferb by depicting him on the verge of Zuckerberg-esque success with an Internet company and therefore about to jump straight into business without a degree, but the subplot was axed due to time constraints.) More successful are Candace, a highly promising young lawyer who has managed to blow everyone away with her dissertation on "modern investigative techniques for establishing proof of guilt with or without physical evidence" despite its apparent baselessness, and Baljeet, who, while his peers are heading off to college, is already a college professor.
    • Played for Drama for Doofenshmirtz, because...
  • Milo Murphy's Law...
    •'s revealed that Doofenshmirtz will one day invent time travel, and be regarded as the hero "Professor Time". However, he has no idea how he will do all that, and he feels a lot of pressure from having to measure up to his future self. He vents this in song with...
    • ...Orton Mahlson, who is a case of a Ridiculously Successful Present Self as he's from the past. He was taken from 1965 right as the pilot of his TV Show "The Dr. Zone Files" has started shooting, with no idea that his creation will be far greater than what he has planned, and far more popular than he has expected. Just like Doofenshmirtz, he feels a lot of pressure from having to figure out what he will do, and measuring himself to his future self.
  • The Invader Zim episode "Dib's Wonderful Life of Doom" has Dib, after receiving superpowers from alien shoes, defeat and imprison his Arch-Enemy, expose every single secret supernatural creature, single-handedly repel an alien invasion, and receive the "Greatest Person Ever To Live" award, all within ten years of his childhood. Subverted when it's revealed this is nothing more than an illusion crafted by Zim's Lotus-Eater Machine.
  • The kids' Imagine Spots on Arthur are often Flash Forwards to their adult lives, and they're almost always a professional at whatever their current hobby is (Arthur is a virtuosic piano player, Muffy is a successful fashion designer, etc.). In addition, pretty much every kid in the main cast has had at least one Flash Forward to being the President of the United States, to the point where it could probably be part of a Drinking Game.
    • In the Distant Finale it's shown that they went on to become more modestly successful. Rather than being President Muffy became the town's mayor while Francine became a fashion CEO, and Arthur himself became a successful children's author.
  • Regular Show: Most of the main casts' futures in the Distant Finale are rather modest: Skips and Benson still work at the park decades later, while Muscle Man and Rigby have mundane lives raising families. However, Mordecai goes from a slacker working a dead-end job at a park to fully realizing his dream of being an artist, who gets a solo exhibition pretty early in his career. Meanwhile, Hi-Five Ghost becomes a DJ popular enough to tour Europe. Of course, pretty much anything they could do pales in comparison to all their accomplishments as the Park Crew, which includes having saved the entire universe from destruction.
  • Duckman had an episode similar to the American Dad! episode above known as "The Once and Future Duck" where Duckman meets his future self who is extremely successful. Unfortunately, he also discovers that the slightest change can radically alter his future and keeps finding new versions of himself with each action he takes.
  • In Futurama's "Decision 3012," a Bad Future timeline has Bender becoming ruler of Earth by 3027 after leading a successful robot uprising.
    Bender: Yes! In your face, high school guidance counselor!
  • A Marty McFly impersonator appears on the cruise ship in the Solar Sailors episode of the Back to the Future cartoon, implying that Marty's music career takes off.
  • In the Chowder finale "Chowder Grows Up," Gorgonzola goes from an impoverished candleholder to the CEO of a large candle corporation. However, even though he's successful, he's still unhappy because he wants Chowder to be his rival.
  • Big Mouth: Subverted with Nick, who's future self, Nick Starr, is a rich and successfull media personality, but also completely alienated from his friends and family, and so emotionally stunted he can't even masturbate from fear of any sort of intimacy, even with himself. In season 4, Starr is given A Day in the Limelight episode where his selfish and cowardly behavior apparently leaves him the only survivor of the human race, floating alone in space with only his emotional fears for company. Almost immediately after it's revealed that Starr never existed, he's just a figment of the real Nick's psyche that represents his self-loathing.