This is the social equivalent to Zeerust.
Many works set in the future presume that people in the future will have the same social mores and values as they do in the present, excepting a few superficial changes in order to facilitate the plot, demonstrate the foreignness/"futureness" of the setting, or satisfy Author Appeal. The assumption is that our future will be essentially the same as our present — bigger, smaller, sleeker, faster, or more automated, but still recognizable as our world.
For writers, it's often a Necessary Weasel: it's a lot easier to observe the society you have than to predict which way it's going to go. Consequently the work is likely to be better written and better received than a work which assumes the future will be foreign and puts in the appropriate amount of alien world-building. After all, who in 2420 will be reading this anyway? (Presumably, the same sort of people who read books from 1620 now...) Unfortunately, when authors do get the future wrong, it shows.
Even if the technology is predicted perfectly, modern readers may lose Willing Suspension of Disbelief when reading a work written in The '50s, set in the present day, and assuming the attitudes of the present day will be exactly like those of the Fifties. They may even be severely bothered if a work from the Fifties assumes that attitudes in the far future will be just like those in the Fifties. (Even if the author had no way of knowing about The Beatles, even if it is the far future, it just seems wrong to read that a lover of popular music in the future goes primarily for jazz quartets or big bands, with not an electric guitar or synthesizer to be seen even though the entire house runs on electricity right down to the windows and Muzak.) note Sometimes the author will correctly predict some of the effects of a new technology, but completely miss others; many authors correctly foresaw the effect of automobiles on working habits and city design, but not one person foresaw the effect that access to automobiles would have on teen sexual activity.
The most disturbing instances from our future point of view are those that miss more important social changes. To continue the '50s example, there are plenty of examples that failed to expect the civil rights movement. The schools may be futuristic and electronic, but they're still segregated. note The other two big changes that older works miss are greater gender equality (even on the space colonies, women Stay in the Kitchen) and the end of the Cold War (still wrangling with the Commies in the 22nd Century).
This effect increases with the distance between when the work is written and the present day. The necessary distance to invoke this decreases as time passes, so far anyhow — technology speeds communication up, and communication speeds change. For instance, if a film has been in production for long enough, it may fall under this trope the day it's released.
This will no doubt apply to modern works set 20 Minutes into the Future as well. Unfortunately, we won't know how until the social changes have at least started.
The inverse of this, when the social mores of the present are presumed to apply in the past, is Politically Correct History.
Related to Values Dissonance, Fair for Its Day, Science Marches On, Technology Marches On, Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale, and The Great Politics Mess-Up. Eternal Prohibition, Once Acceptable Targets, and Everybody Smokes are specific cases.
- Area 88, originally a 1979 manga, then a mid 80s OAV, and finally a 2004 TV series, which are all clearly set in the year the original manga was made (or at least, that is when the story begins). The premise has dated and is completely implausible now. The information age, the fall of Communism, the end of the Cold War, and the current political climate in general, have made the idea of a small Middle Eastern country like Asran(Aslan) refusing to export its oil for profit very improbable. There are now more ways than ever for foreign capitalists (or countries) to manipulate a small North African country and get their heads of state to see things a different way. A protracted war would be completely unnecessary. Also, the idea of the Foreign Legion as a place for people to disappear, no questions asked, was dated even when the story was originally written. Today, they are not only more selective and do background checks, but you also have to prove your competency before the contract is even offered. So the idea of tricking a drunk person into signing up for the FL is completely ludicrous. Also, today, it wouldn't take much effort for Ryoko to immediately find out why Shin vanished (also, Shin could easily contact her by e-mail), thus exposing Kanzaki's sinister schemes. Finally, the idea of a mercenary air force being a quicker and less expensive alternative to training and maintaining one's own air force is no longer that relevant since air to air combat is now borderline obsolete. Besides, drone aircraft are even cheaper than merc pilots and a country could train its own operators quite inexpensively. Today, the war would be fought within the country, on the ground, and would look to outsiders as just another grassroots terrorist insurgency movement.
- In Fruits Basket, Ritsu is a Wholesome Crossdresser who has quite a few jokes aimed towards him because of it, with some implications that his crossdressing is getting in the way of him becoming more confident. In the 2019 anime, these jokes are pretty much eliminated from his debut because of the growing acceptance of the transgender community and changing views of gender expression, replaced with an examination of his extreme anxiety as his real problem.
- Camelot 3000, written in the 1980s, had a still-segregated South Africa in the eponymous year, far outdoing 2001. It also has Sir Tristan's angsting about being reincarnated as a woman, even though her reborn lover Isolde seems quite content to contemplate a lesbian relationship, and gender-reassignment surgery is bound to be as routine as a tummy-tuck by that era if Tristan is really not happy.
- The character history for the Post-Crisis Katherine "Kate" Kane, who would become Batwoman, is that of a dedicated student at West Point who was expelled from the academy and forbidden to enter the army because of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The policy itself, which forbade any confirmed homosexuals from serving in the US military, was repealed by an act of Congress in 2011, barely a year after her origin was given in Detective Comics. The story was completely accurate at the time it was written, and will have leeway for several more years because it is a flashback that occurred several years in the past, but it can no longer be brought forward to the "present" when time "progresses". Kate is actually a good example of how the DCU has already reached this in regards to gay people, since her girlfriend Maggie Sawyer was the DCU's first confirmed gay character back in 1987, and her backstory consisted off "Why it sucks to be gay". In comparison, when we get a 4 issue flashback detailing key aspects of Kate's background we don't even get to see the "Fuck, I'm gay!" moment; at the end of one issue she's a child whose mother and sister just got killed, and at the start of the next she's enrolled in West Point sucking lips with her serious girlfriend and about to be subjected to "don't ask, don't tell", since those two aspects of her past have had much bigger impact than the whole "Liking girls"-thing.
- Mark Millar's run on The Authority ended with Apollo and Midnighter getting married. While this was considered a highly subversive act when the comic was published, gay marriage is now legal in several major countries, including the United States.
- Armageddon 2001: In Action Comics Annual #3, President Superman is attempting to negotiate peace in Northern Ireland in 2001 but the parties aren't cooperating with either him or each other. In reality, the Troubles are seen as having ended with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, something which was unforeseeable in 1991.
- Mai-Hime: Future is set in 2028, so the teen protagonists would have been born in the early 2010s, still in the future when the story was started. It predicts that around this time, there would be a widespread trend for Japanese parents to give their children Western names (extending to roughly half the teen characters in the story). We're now past the deadline and this hasn't happened.
- Back to the Future Part II assumed that Japan Takes Over the World, that there would be a Japanese fax machine in every room of every house, and that every corporation would be run from Japan. All of this was from a common belief during the 1980s that Japan's superior electronics were going to allow it to become a global superpower. While Japan is a major economic driving force in The New '10s, nothing like what Part II predicted came to pass. Also, another Asian country is seen as the challenge now. Fax machines aren't doing all that well either.
- This video from 1966, which imagines what life would be like in 1999, manages to predict home computers, email, and what is effectively internet shopping, but still assumes that the average woman will be paying for goods with her husband's money.
- In RoboCop (1987), Richard "Dick" Jones makes a speech where he claims OCP has "gambled in markets usually regarded as nonprofit. Hospitals. Prisons. Space exploration". This is meant to establish OCP's nature as a Mega-Corp but given the heavy amount of privatization that has happened with all three of those sectors since the movie was released, it can come across as somewhat quaint.
- The 2005 version of The War of the Worlds has this in the very first spoken line of dialogue. H.G. Wells's original novel, which was published in 1898, began with the words, "No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own." In 1898, it was likely most people would agree with that statement. In the 2005 film, wanting to tie in the film with the book, the writers had the narrator say the same line, only updated: "No one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century, that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own." Even a rudimentary Google search will show just how many people actually do believe just that. Indeed, humans have been looking for alien intelligences since the 1970s ourselves. Many believe they're already here.
- In-universe example: The professors in A Song Is Born have been so cloistered in their conservatory making their history of music that they've completely missed the modern music that has been evolving outside.
- There was a trend in action films between the 1970s and early 1990s (particularly in the late 80s) in which the rising crime rates of the era would inevitably lead by the end of the century to a near-collapse of civilization... unless a hard-boiled copper or a Vigilante Man could bring some order. The fact that by the late 90s crime rates decreased (to historical lows in some places), and (for added irony) alongside a softer stance on crime in the mid-90s makes modern audiences ponder in hindsight if the writers either mocked or were part of the moral panic of the era.
- In Predator 2, it was predicted that by 1997 Los Angeles would decay into a dystopian Crapsack World with drug gangs in open war with the police and themselves, using military-grade hardware and body counts seemingly in the thousands. The police themselves show elements of being an occupying force in their own city and Harrigan himself refers to his beat as "the war." Based on the high crime rates of L.A. in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this didn't seem too far-fetched circa 1990, but fast forward to the second decade of the 21st Century and we see that Los Angeles, while still not a utopia, has far lower crime rates than it did at the time the film was made. Ironically, it was in the next year that they started to fall.
- See also the opening of Demolition Man, which shows about 10% of the city on fire (including the Hollywood sign), gangs with anti-aircraft weapons and police riding military grade Humvees... in 1996 (just three years after the film's release, making it even more ridiculous than most of them).
- Escape from New York, in 1981, predicted that by 1997 crime rates would have risen to such catastrophic levels that the Manhattan Island would be turned into a penal colony for containing all the convicts. While the high crime rates of the 1970s-80s make it look more plausible then, the fact they started falling just ten years on left it looking silly when the actual 1997 rolled around.
- The Warriors (1979), based on a book from the mid-1960s, is supposed to take place "sometime in the future" (as the opening of Walter Hill's "director's cut" makes clear), but even leaving aside the film's Totally Radical fashions, hairstyles, and slang, there are a number of other elements that now strike us as Zeerusty. Most prominent is Cyrus's claim that a citywide gang could control everything and thwart the NYPD... when, just a few years after this film's release, the LAPD began to employ military technology in their fight against street gangs. There's also the failure of any character to suspect that a woman sitting alone on a park bench very late at night might be a plainclothes police officer.note
- There's a weird example of this in the movie adaptation of Atlas Shrugged, where Hank Rearden is blackmailed into signing away the rights to Rearden Metal because government officials have incriminating evidence of his extra-marital affair with Dagny Taggart, a subplot that comes straight from the novel. Thing is, in 1957 when the book was published, such an affair would've been considered a pretty big deal and might've irreparably damaged both his and Taggart's reputation. But since the movie places the story in 2016, the idea that such a thing would cause anything but a minor scandal—let alone convince Rearden to sign away his life's work, which he swore he would never do—just comes across as bizarre.
- Even more bizarre when you consider author of the book Ayn Rand's long extramarital affair with Nathaniel Branden, which actually started around the same year the book came out (although they kept it secret-from everyone but their respective spouses, ironically).
- Most of the fundamental economic philosophy espoused in the movie has gone from a potentially viable alternative to partially socialized economies to completely discredited empirically in the years since the book was written, too, and it shows. Most jarringly for viewers even slightly familiar with corporate practices is the idea that existing, successful companies would fail due to what amounts to one of the venture capitalists that funded the start-up bowing out. Not only does that not happen, but buying into companies early and cashing out once they've succeeded is how venture capitalists make their money; what happened to Rearden is the standard procedure for people in his position and largely thought to benefit the capitalist more than anyone else.
- The film of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas probably seemed a bit progressive for including a black player on the victorious football team that visits the Chicken Ranch. Nowadays it looks really weird to see a team with only one such player. Further, Madame Stangley never hires girls with tattoos. Even for whores in the 70s, tattoos were considered unsightly on a woman, but that perception fell to the wayside by the 90s. The football team causes several problems. The one black football player hooks up with the one black prostitute, who isn't in the rest of the movie, because interracial sex is apparently worse than prostitution. Plus, the lyrics make it clear that the team expects to "get made", that is, lose their collective virginity. The idea that college-age men on a major university's football team in the 1970s are all virgins is ludicrous; it would be far-fetched if a high school team in the 1950s were all virgins.
- Forbidden Planet:
- The film opens with a monologue describing how by the twenty-first century men and women are reaching out into space, implying a certain degree of equality... and the first thing we cut to is a massive space expedition crew made up of white American men.
- Many of said men also display a very clear 1950s attitude when interacting with Alta, the one female character in the movie. One scene involves her being told to "cover herself" (since up until that point she was wearing skimpy outfits and getting the crew sexually aroused), and has Robby The Robot make her a new dress... since after all just wearing a pair of pants is unthinkable.
- George Pal's 1955 film Conquest of Space made some interesting technological predictions, including a concept for a spaceship with principles vaguely reminiscent of the space shuttle. There is even a bit of Fair for Its Day in that there is some racial equality so far as the one Japanese crew member being treated with respect by the otherwise white cast. What the film got wrong was assuming the U.S. space program would still be run by the military.note Also women Stay in the Kitchen back on Earth while the men are the ones who get to go into space. In other words, according to this film, female astronauts don't exist, which may be especially jarring to a modern viewer in light of a certain more recent critically acclaimed film centered around a female astronaut. In addition, the Captain of the ship comes to think of the mission as sacrilegious, with Mankind's presence in God's perfect heavens being an insult to the almighty. This was actually a real movement that flourished very briefly when the idea of space travel was first mooted as a serious possibility. By the time the movie came out the philosophy was rapidly dying out, and the launch of Sputnik a couple of years later washed the remnants away completely. To modern audiences it just looks like a delusional symptom of the man going insane.
- The infamous b-movie Doomsday Machine, where the female crew members are only added in as a last resort once it becomes clear the Earth is doomed, and the remaining male crew members are absolutely baffled by the idea of women being capable astronauts. Though the bemused misogyny doesn't kick in until later: the initial shock was over half their team getting removed at the last moment and the mission suddenly becoming co-ed.
- Played for laughs in the first Austin Powers film, where the recently-defrosted Dr. Evil's proposed evil schemes (making a hole in the ozone layer and destroying Prince Charles and Lady Diana's marriage) are things that have already happened by the time of the film (1997). Frustrated, he decides to just fall back on the classic "Hijack nuclear weapons and hold the world for hostage" plan.
- Another in-universe example, also played for laughs, comes when Doctor Evil plots with his henchmen for holding the world at ransom, where he will then demand...one million dollars! His henchman Number 2 points out that a million dollars isn't what it used to be, and that their organization's legitimate front company makes almost twenty billion in annual profits alone. Doctor Evil then decides to make it a more exorbitant for the era one hundred billion dollars.
- Inverted in the sequel, wherein Dr Evil, back in The 60's, again demands $100bn, only to be met with derisive laughter, since such a vast sum simply didn't exist in that era.
- Another in-universe example, also played for laughs, comes when Doctor Evil plots with his henchmen for holding the world at ransom, where he will then demand...one million dollars! His henchman Number 2 points out that a million dollars isn't what it used to be, and that their organization's legitimate front company makes almost twenty billion in annual profits alone. Doctor Evil then decides to make it a more exorbitant for the era one hundred billion dollars.
- A source of humor in The Final Girls comes from the differences between the main characters and the 80s campers they find inside the movie. Particularly, the treatment of LGBT people (Chris, who was raised by a gay couple gets easily mad at one of the campers making homophobic comments) and technology (Vicki trying to explain to another camper how smartphones work).
- In Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the squirt gun is consigned to the Island of Misfit Toys because it fires grape jelly rather than water. Today, it'd be consigned to the Island of Dangerous/Illegal Toys, because it's a squirt gun that looks like a real gun, rather than having a brightly-colored tip to ensure nobody with a real weapon mistakes it for a threat.
- The Lord of Opium: In the future, nations between Mexico and the US export drugs to other countries in exchange for patrolling the border between the two nations. One of the nations of the Dope Confederacy exports marijuana in the 22nd century. Seeing that the book came out in 2013, it's odd that a nation would need to make marijuana to export illegally, seeing that many nations at the time of the time of publication and at the time this entry is being written (April 2015) are relaxing marijuana laws or even outright legalizing it. Could be justified that it sells to a few holdout nations, or progress was reversed.
- It's common in a lot of pre-1970s stories dealing with space exploration that the expedition crews are often all male and predominantly if not entirely white and American.
- Arthur C. Clarke's Space Odyssey was pretty hilarious in this regard; along with the Soviet Union lasting well into the 2000s, Apartheid in South Africa continued into the 2030s, when it ended in a revolution that kicked the white ruling class out. Apartheid-related predictions were often a bit off in this way, due mostly to outsiders imagining some sort of centuries-long, deep-seated race war, whereas it was a recent and quickly dated policy which was mostly prolonged because it somehow wound up as a part of Cold War politics. As soon as the policy was put up to a vote, it was rejected by overwhelming numbers.
- Modern readers of Walter Miller's post-apocalyptic classic A Canticle for Leibowitz may find some of the future Catholic dogmas to be a bit...antiquated. This is due to the novel being written just a few years before Vatican II, and thus including none of its changes.
- The Robert A. Heinlein novel Podkayne of Mars, set in the distant space-faring future, features a main character who would like to become the first ever female spaceship captain. The first instance of a woman (Eileen Collins) captaining a spaceship occurred in July 1999. The fact that Podkayne will face discrimination on account of her sex is clearly labelled unfair. Heinlein makes the same point in 'Rolling Stones' in which Hazel Stone is passed over for promotion on account of her sex.
- And yet in Starship Troopers (written just prior to Podkayne of Mars) commanding starships is exclusively a female job (it's claimed in-universe that women are better-suited for the job in terms of reflexes, stamina, and psychological makeup). Heinlein tended to be all over the map on gender equality.
- All of Heinlein's work is prone to this. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, for instance, despite showcasing many cultural differences in the lunar society (not the least of which is ubiquitous polyamory) portrays gender issues much as a 1950s writer would be expected to think of a post-feminist world: touching women without their permission is a major societal taboo... but it is up to the woman's male friends or relatives to protect her, and women are still generally considered unintelligent (or at least irrational or illogical) and unfit for many positions. The main reason the culture's attitudes toward women have changed at all is that women are a substantial minority on Luna. The rival Earth society, where the sexes are still 50/50 in numbers, shows female nurses giggling at having their rears pinched, rather than filing sexual harassment lawsuits.
- The Puppet Masters was published in 1951 and set in 2007. Although the heroine is just as tough and capable as the male lead (sometimes more so), the moment gender roles or romantic relationships come up she turns, hilariously, into June Cleaver.
- Heinlein's short story —All You Zombies— features a sex-segregated future in which astronauts and space pilots are always male, and the spaceship stewardess/prostitutes in skimpy outfits are all female. Written not long after WWII, the story fails to anticipate that the horrifying events of that war would lead to very strict legislation about medical procedures and informed consent. His central character is placed under general anesthesia — and wakes to be informed, after the fact, that they have been subjected without consent to sex reassignment surgery. In our world such a character would not be relegated to a hand-to-mouth living writing confession stories, because they would sue the hospital and doctor into bankruptcy.
- Heinlein often averted this trope as well. He frequently cast non-whites and people of mixed-race as protagonists in his works despite writing before the American Civil Rights era. Races were equal in his world, while the sexes tended to be different but enjoyed de facto legal equality. Readers of his era were not used to seeing a mixed-race or non-white protagonist. In his most famous work, Starship Troopers, the main character is Filipino, with most major characters also being non-American, and usually non-white. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress continues this, with Manny being mixed race, and part of a polygamous mixed race marriage, which gets him thrown into jail when visiting the South. Further, Podkayne of Mars has Podkayne see only her sex as an issue with becoming a captain. The fact she's black doesn't rate a concern.
- Zigzagged in his teen novel Tunnel in the Sky. On the one hand, women make up their own (separate) military units and make up half the survival-course students in the story; on the other, sexual mores are such that a bunch of teenagers, isolated from their parents and all forms of authority, take time to stage their own marriage ceremonies in the middle of a hostile wilderness before daring to fool around. When the protagonist gets home, his parents' attitude is that of people who fully expect him to let them pick his friends for him. Oh, and when his military sister opts to get married, she has to leave the corps.
- In Space Cadet, the Patrol, which the main characters belong to, is exclusively male.
- All of Heinlein's juveniles, despite being set in some indeterminate future, read like The '50s with better technology. One obvious example is the main character in Have Spacesuit Will Travel. On the one hand, his life ambition is to become an aerospace engineer. On the other, he's a recent high school graduate who has a summer job as a soda jerk at the local pharmacy.
- Stranger in a Strange Land: Although far from a free love utopia, open relationships are considerably more acceptable today than they were in Heinlein's time, as well as homosexuality. Women are also generally not secretaries and "girls" who enjoy being patronized.
- Barry Malzberg opined that "Heinlein's problem was that he understood perfectly how American society worked in 1945."
- Isaac Asimov:
- The Caves of Steel: The robot series does a pretty good job of portraying future Earth's culture realistically, but there are some hints that give away its age.
- Elijah's son, Bentley, uses language so stereotypical of The '50s that it may sound closer to parody to modern readers.
- Corporal punishment for reprimanding children is considered a routine occurrence thousands of years in the future. The sequel, The Naked Sun, even has a lengthy discussion on how difficult but necessary it is programming a Three Laws-Compliant robot to understand why spanking a child performs a greater good for their future development than failing to administer any punishment.
- The role of women on Earth is also extremely vague. Because resource-starved Earth cannot afford amenities, most people live in tiny apartments which do not have kitchens, eat in communal cafeterias, and have small families due to Population Control. These factors make the role of a Housewife largely redundant, yet Detective Baley interacts with virtually no women besides his wife, making law enforcement and government as male-dominated as they were in the real-world 1950's. The Robots of Dawn does introduce a female official and mentions policewomen, stating that the novels merely occur at a time women seldom choose these career paths.
- Spacer women manage to discover careers in sciences and politics as easily as the men do, because of their post-scarcity societies and the fact that robot servants handle all domestic tasks, including raising children. Thus, Spacer women would have nothing to do with themselves if they didn't have careers. That said, the social culture of Spacer men and women don't appear integrated because Detective Baley encounters so few. In The Robots of Dawn, Dr. Fastolfe has a wife, she's dismissed during the events of the novel. His daughter is also a roboticist like him, but as with most Spacer scientists, she is a borderline misanthrope.
- The Complete Adventures of Lucky Starr: Despite being set far enough in the future to have Casual Interplanetary Travel, women are barely featured in the series (four of the books have no women at all) and certainly none are in positions of power.
- Foundation: The scope of this series is epic, but The Foundation Trilogy uses gender roles practically identical to 1950s United States. When Dr Asimov revisited the series decades later, he included women more prominently, especially in the form of Mayor Harla Branno, his first female mayor. She is an Iron Lady ruler for Terminus and the Foundation, introduced in Foundation's Edge (1982), and wants to conquer the galaxy centuries earlier than the Seldon Plan expects. However, Dr Asimov is clearly more comfortable writing male characters, despite continuing to add badass females like Dors Venabili and Bliss.
- "Feminine Intuition": The designers of a subtly feminine-looking robot believe that everyone will assume it is mentally inferior to other robots. One character explicitly states that if there's anything the average person believes, it's that women are less intelligent than men. Upon saying this, he nervously glances around (Dr Susan Calvin having recently retired). At the end, after Dr Calvin comes back to save the day, the lesson is that men dismiss women's equal (if not superior) intelligence as mere "intuition".
- "Little Lost Robot": Dr Calvin is questioning the last person to see the titular robot, and they are reluctant to repeat their exact words in front of a lady. Dr Calvin insists on precision, and the witness's superior offers to be the visual target of the Cluster F-Bomb repetition. A Narrative Profanity Filter is provided for the audience, but the superior is incensed at the language. Dr Calvin, to her credit, merely states that she knows what most of those words mean and suspects that the others are equally derogatory. In today's society, cursing out a random woman is much less offensive than cursing out your superior.
- "Runaround": In-Universe, we see the robots from the first Sunside Mercury Mining expedition, who call all humans "Master". In contrast, Donovan and Powell are there fifty years later, and their robot, SPD 13, just calls them "boss".
- "The Ugly Little Boy": The lack of any ethics, or any requirement for ethical approval, is shockingespecially given that ethical treatment of research subjects was a very hot topic (due to the disclosures of Nazi experimentation on concentration camp victims just 13 years before the story was written). It's not certain that a Neanderthal would be considered any more of a person than a chimpanzee is, which was probably Dr Asimov's point. Outside of Ms Fellowes and Dr Hoskins, Timmie is known as "ape-boy" rather than a person.
- The Caves of Steel: The robot series does a pretty good job of portraying future Earth's culture realistically, but there are some hints that give away its age.
- Cocoon, a short story by Keith Laumer, has everyone living in virtual reality tanks a couple hundred years in the future. The husband "goes" to a virtual office and does virtual paperwork, while the wife sits at "home", does virtual housework and watches virtual soap operas all day. When the husband comes "home", he complains because the wife hasn't gotten around to punching the selector buttons for the evening nutripaste meal yet.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has the people in the Golgafrincham B-Ark - the joke being that all the jobs they do are useless, 'pointless' jobs - have at least partially dated. While middle-management types and meddling marketers remain problems, people don't really look down on hairdressers as being 'pointless' any more (in the 1970s it was just beginning to become socially acceptable for a man to go to a hairdresser's instead of a barber's, but it was still seen as very weird - nowadays men go to a hairdresser's as default, and viewing a service mostly of interest to women as pointless is seen as a bit misogynistic). Then there's the 'telephone sanitisers', who have ceased to exist along with the public telephones they service.
- H. P. Lovecraft (a teetotaler) wrote one non-supernatural short story, "Old Bugs", about a young man who yields to temptation and goes to a speakeasy, but is saved from the evils of alcohol by a drunkard who won't stand for the youth making his own mistakes. Written during prohibition, it's set in the 1950s ... and booze is still mentioned to be illegal on the national level.
- Ray Bradbury:
- "The Wilderness": A 1952 Short Story (later incorporated into The Martian Chronicles) that revolves around women sitting around being terrified about relocating (in this case, moving to Mars) just to get married (yet speaking as if they have to go), talking about being "old maids" if they don't go, and complaining about how "the men" make all their decisions for them...in 2003.
- "Way In The Middle Of The Air": A story focused on Samuel Teece, a white Southerner whose racist views of the local "niggers" color the description of the way they pooled their resources and bought rockets in secret to escape the racist American south. In describing the region, Teece notes that the poll tax is gone and "More and more states passin' anti-lynchin' bills." The supposed date is 2003.note
- "The Other Foot": Bradbury assumes segregation in America will continue well into the future, and become so extreme that black people will eventually colonize Mars on their own. The all-black colony ends up in a very good position to retaliate against their former oppressors (and they almost go through with it, too) yet ultimately both sides are able to reconcile their differences and live together in peace. For added irony, the Civil Rights Movement started in the 1950's, just after this was written.
- Also a lot of Bradbury's old "rocket exploration"-type stories (aside from the dated science), tended to have the crew of explorers be men. At the time the idea of female astronauts might have seemed a bit of a stretch.
- "The Rocket Man": The woman has to wait months on end for her husband's return, years after she's come to think of herself as a widow, rather than contemplate (horrors!) simply divorcing the man who abandons her over and over.
- In Edmond Hamilton's The Sargasso Of Space, it is evidently assumed that crewing space ships would be a job primarily reserved for men, much like sailing was when the story was written.
- The book Steampunk Prime has a number of late 19th and early 20th century science fiction stories that contain examples of this. "In the Deep of Time" involves a man who is cryonically revived in an advanced future... where woman STILL are expected to be subordinated to men.
- In Omnivore, most of the melodrama pivots on Aquilon being torn between her feelings for Cal and Veg, her colleagues on a far-future space mission. It seems strange to modern readers that she's too afraid of looking like a slut to become sexually involved with either man. Maybe that's how scifi readers felt about things in 1968, but now it just seems like prudish Wangst.
- The fourth book of The Helmsman Saga has Wilf Brim amazed at a woman from another culture having a completely shaved pubic area, something he states he never encountered earlier. When the book was written in 1991, that might have been unusual. When it was rewritten 20 years later... well, the scene was cut down considerably.
- Men Martians And Machines. According to Sarge all doctors aboard spaceships are black because "for reasons not understood, no Negro had ever suffered space sickness." Although this portrayal is Fair for Its Day in that a black person in a position of authority in a white-dominated society was remarkable in itself, it does make the reader wonder: why aren't spaceship crews entirely black, if that's the case?
- The idea is that they have a multi-racial crew because different races are good at different things. White Terrestrials are good at engines, Black Terrestrials don't suffer space sickness, Martians can work in low pressure environments and concentrate on multiple tasks simultaneously, the android Jay Score can handle extreme conditions. The theme of the book is that by working together, all these diverse races can handle any crisis. Consider that this book was published in 1955 when Humans Are White was the more common trope. Where it still falls into this trope is that the crew is entirely male.
- One of Philip K. Dick's lesser known short stories is a piece called Some Kinds of Life, which is about humanity's constant tendency to find reasons to go to war. The whole thing is told from the point of view of a housewife in a future society as members of her family are drafted into military service for various wars in different parts of the Solar System and end up being killed in action. The story ends with the wife receiving a draft notice of her own and being genuinely shocked by the notion that the army would become desperate enough to start recruiting women (they do this after resorting to recruiting boys under the regulation age). This would probably have made sense when it was written, as it was likely at a point when the army was still very male-exclusive and women were only permitted in very specific fields. However, it may seem a bit jarring to a modern reader living in a world where it is not so unusual for women to serve in the military with just as much combat training as their male comrades.
- Not even The Bible is immune to this trope. Some end-of-the-world prophecies in it run along the lines of: "Two women will be grinding corn together. And one will be taken up to heaven, the other one not."
- This could be explained in part as being the use of imagery which would have been familiar to audiences in that setting, common in prophecy as well as in things like the parables of Jesus. A lot of Biblical allusions and metaphors are like this, which is why they often need explanation to modern audiences. (It is also true that some societies are still of the primitive agrarian type for whom such sayings are current reality. So your mileage may vary on how "current" or likely they are.)
- Some have suggested that "grinding corn" was actually one euphemism for...something else. If true, this is actually progressive, saying a lesbian would get to heaven.
- Published in 1959, Alas, Babylon portrays breastfeeding and home canning as relics which have all but disappeared prior to the nuclear strike depicted in the book, but which must be reluctantly revived in the conditions prevailing afterward. Both practices have made a strong comeback since the 1950's.
Helen: What happens to babies?
Doctor: Evaporated or condensed canned milk... while it lasts. After that, it's mother's milk.
Helen: That will be old-fashioned, won't it?
- A. E. van Vogt's short story The Weapon Shop, published in 1942, is seemingly set in a future where humanity has begun colonizing other planets and one government has almost absolute authority over everything. Said political body is made up of men outside of the ruling Empress. Meanwhile, the "Weapon Shop" itself is a front for a resistance movement protecting people's rights, but when the protagonist is brought to a special meeting place where workers are being helped the story describes him seeing "thousands of men". Though it refers to female secretaries, the writer evidently never considered the possibility of women getting involved with the workforce.
- In the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Joshua Harris recommends that men and women be "friends first" before beginning to date. Back when he wrote that book in the late 90's, most couples met in real life and through platonic situations where it was highly likely that they would be friends first anyway. However, with internet dating sites being so popular nowadays and so many couples meeting through them, being friends first is not always an option.
- The Venus Prime series, published in the early aughts but written in the 80's (and based on older Arthur C. Clarke short stories) have several examples:
- In the first book, one of the suspects in the Star Queen sabotage, Sondra Sylvester, has a big secret that she doesn't want anyone to find out... she's living with another woman. While this might have been scandalous in the 80's, it's not so controversial nowadays.
- The plot of the third book relies heavily on the assumption that the Soviet Union is still around in the 22nd century, and has enough clout that the Council of Worlds (a successor to the UN) granted it and China their own colony on Mars to spread communism. The Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991. The last book, written after the Soviet Union's demise, retroactively places a lampshade on this, claiming that in recent years, there have been Russians pining for a return to communism, and the Mars colony was an attempt to siphon those agitators away from Mother Russia.
- In Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series, the titular planet is a Feudal Future Lost Colony, while the rest of humanity has spread out into what is referred to as "The Terran Empire". While this is thousands of years in the future, the Terran Empire's social values are pretty blatantly those of 1960's - 1980's America. This includes women taking their husband's full names, and being expected to abandon certain careers if they marry. Homosexuals are still mostly closeted. The Darkovans are meant to provide a social contrast, being more regressive with their essentially Medieval treatment of women, while having somewhat greater tolerance for, but not full acceptance of, homosexuality than the Terrans. Neither society looks especially progressive in any respect to readers after the 1990's though.
- The Handmaid's Tale, about a fundamentalist Christian dystopia, was published in The '80s. At this time, when conservative president Ronald Reagan seemed like the new eternal master of American politics, backed by a wide array of Moral Guardians and (seemingly) a huge tyrannical Silent Majority, the novel seemed frighteningly plausible. A few decades down the road it doesn't seem quite so likely — although government agencies do still try to control women's reproductive rights, and many politicians seem woefully ignorant of biology, meaning the story isn't implausible to some.
- Go Set a Watchman features the moral that just because someone has racist beliefs doesn't mean you should have any personal animosity towards them. A decent moral for when the book was written in 1957, where many people were racist simply because they'd never been taught anything else as they were growing up, but not so much when it was finally published in 2015.
- Orson Scott Card has this very blatantly in his Ender series, possibly due to Author Appeal. Written in the 80's, the multi-planetary society of the last three books is extremely religious considering 3,000 years have passed since modern day. Planets are weirdly segregated by nationality, despite those having long lost any real meaning, and they have "licenses" for official religions, even those based on modern secular societies. The protagonists and their companions regularly venture into theology, which is mostly no longer true for a society only 30 years after the books.
- This is particularly bad in Speaker for the Dead and its sequel, Xenocide, where a lot of the plot points are being derived from Card's assumption that Brazilian society (the basis for the location of the book) would remain as conservative and Catholic as it was when he traveled there for his missionary mission.
- Averting this is specifically one of the reasons why A Clockwork Orange uses a new brand of slang created from scratch coupled with an alien, otherworldly future with very different values (to begin with: bars that instead of booze serve milk laced with narcotics) — if Anthony Burgess's rendition of 1962's 20 Minutes into the Future were based on what was actually going on in 1962, the book and its film would have aged pretty poorly.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop aside, The Berenstain Bears story about Sister being bullied, fighting back, and merely getting what amounted to a slap on the wrist looks hilariously outdated in part because Tuffy and Sister got off lightly. Many schools have adopted zero tolerance policies which state that Sister would have been in just as much trouble as Tuffy for fighting back. Additionally, Tuffy is depicted as throwing rocks at a baby bird. This would today easily get Tuffy a one-way trip to the child psychologist, rather than just a probation.
- H. Beam Piper:
- "Omnilingual": Written on the 1950s and set in the 1990s, where a multinational mission to Mars has a gender-equal crew and a female protagonist who makes an important discovery. All these people have a cocktail hour after work finishes for the day.
- In Little Fuzzy and sequels, the cocktail hour is the setting for a great deal of exposition.
- The Teenage Worrier series mentions that protagonist Letty loves football but, when she got to high school, was no longer allowed to play and was made to do netball instead - common practice in British schools when the book was published in the 1990s, but would be seen as hugely sexist and outdated today. A later re-print edition avoided this by changing it to her just being "badly discouraged" from football.
- The Demolished Man: Despite the characters' stated disconnect from the 20th century, the book is pretty emblematic of the time it was written in respect to gender roles, although Ms. Wyg¬e clearly has an active sex life which is only complained about when she distracts undercover cops. On the other hand, there is a scene where a black applicant is accepted into the Esper's Guild on account of his latent talent, which suggests that at least their group is meritocratic. Also, the president of the Guild is Asian.
- Lampshaded at the end of the 1952 novel Limbo by Bernard Wolfe. His novel is set in a fictional post-WWIII 1990s that maintains racial segregation, sexual discrimination, and Cold War rivalries in a world of automated factories, rocket planes and nuclear-powered artificial limbs.
Anybody who "paints a picture" of some coming year is kidding — he's only fancying up something in the present or past, not blueprinting the future. All such writing is essentially satiric (today-centered), not utopic (tomorrow-centered). This book, then, is a rather bilious rib on 1950 — on what 1950 might have been like if it had been allowed to fulfill itself, if it had gone on being 1950, only more and more so, for four more decades. But no year ever fulfills itself: the cowpath of History is littered with the corpses of years, their silly throats slit from ear to ear by the improbable.
- An in-universe example in the short story "Tomorrow Town": the 1970s-1980s protagonist is sent to investigate a murder within a utopian bubble-society. He notices the prevalence of somewhat old-fashioned gender roles, and figures it is due to the society having been founded and sealed off from the rest of the world in the mid-1950s, when such gender roles were more common.
- In Frank Herbert's Dune (published 1965), the fact society has gone back to a kind of space feudalism sort of explains why Leto can't have more than one wife (thus preventing him from marrying the woman he actually loves, Jessica). However, when the powerful, feared, all-female psychic order of the Bene Gesserit exists, it really doesn't explain why teenage Paul the protagonist is brought into Leto's confidences, while Jessica—an adult, a highly skilled very badass Bene Gesserit, someone Leto trusts and loves completely and should have no reason to think can't handle the mess they're about to be in—is sidelined. Paul, mind you, is a prodigy with some pretty hefty superpowers himself (given the chance, he's actually stronger than his mother), so it's not that he shouldn't have been told, but the fact that he and Leto both unquestioningly exclude Jessica at first is very 60s.
- Star Trek: The Original Series tried to avert this. On one hand, they had minorities and women in Starfleet, which was progressive for the '60s, and no one smokingnote . But the women, although never explicitly told to Stay in the Kitchen, were often portrayed as damsels in distress or as only joining the space service to find a husband. In short they did their best to avert the trope but couldn't due to Executive Meddling, especially in the pilot (see below).
- In the episode "The Enemy Within", evil!Kirk tries to rape Yeoman Rand. She later recounts the incident for good!Kirk, Spock and McCoy, displaying a very '60s attitude about it ("I don't want to get you into trouble. I wouldn't even have mentioned it.") while being in tears. And this is while she is unaware that there are two Kirks running around!
- Probably the worst example was in "Turnabout Intruder", the last episode of the original series. Written by Gene Roddenberry himself, it reveals that women aren't allowed to be captains in Starfleet, in the 23rd century. A female character who tries to get around this rule by using alien technology to switch bodies with Kirk is portrayed as being a horribly misguided fanatic.
- The franchise, naturally, retconned this in Star Trek: Enterprise, introducing Erika Hernandez, a no-nonsense woman who had previously served with Archer, as the captain of the second Warp 5 starship (Columbia NX-02). In the 2000s, people were ready for that sort of thing.
- There is the possibility (lampshaded by McCoy) that the woman in question was mentally ill to begin with, and thus may not have interpreted regulations with the right frame of mind.
- Leonard Nimoy hated this episode, and confirmed that Roddenberry really meant for Starfleet to have such a rule: females could not captain a starship.
His goal was to prove, quote, 'That women, although they claim equality, cannot really do things as well, under certain circumstances, as a man' — like the command function, for example... What he set out to prove was that this lady, given command of the ship, would blow it. That's really what the script was about. Just that simple."
- Later biographers blame Creator Breakdown, as Roddenberry was going through his divorce during this time.
- Since the episode aired, the franchise and fans have handwaved the "no female captains" implication by playing Exact Words and suggesting the character's actual line, about the world of Starfleet captains not including women, refers to the fact that captains are "married to their ship" and don't give themselves over to romantic temptation. Certainly, the two prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Discovery, the latter set only about a decade before TOS, support this rationalization as both feature female captains.
- The original pilot of the series included a female first officer. She capably commanded the Enterprise for most of the episode while the (male) captain was held captive by aliens. In fact, she was the one who dispassionately decided that letting the aliens breed humans for slavery would be unacceptable, when Captain Pike seemed willing to let it happen as part of a bargain to save the Enterprise. Number One coldly threatened to blow everyone up — including herself — instead, and this was what finally convinced the aliens to abandon their plot and let everyone go. If only they let Roddenberry keep that character in the show, it would have been an amazing aversion of this trope... but the pilot's test audiences failed to react well, and Roddenberry pissed off the network by casting his girlfriend in the role. The network also didn't like the idea of the Enterprise having a 50-50 gender split. Eliminating Number One and reducing the percentage of women were two compromises Roddenberry made (allegedly in part so that he could keep the character of Spock).
- "Plato's Stepchildren" is credited as having the very first (obvious, anyway) interracial kiss on US television. According to some accounts, it very, very nearly fell prey to those meddlesome executives, and was finally only allowed through when it was demonstrated that neither party involved really wanted to do it, but were being forced by alien mind control. The studio was horribly afraid they were going to be inundated with hate mail, that the country would be in an uproar over such an act and simply couldn't accept it; they got a ton of letters alright, with a distinct majority praising the scene. Nichelle Nichols even recounts reading a letter from a Southern man, who was "totally against the mixing of the races. However, any time a red-blooded American boy like Captain Kirk gets a beautiful dame in his arms that looks like Uhura, he ain't gonna fight it." Now THAT'S progress.
- Plus, William Shatner and Nichols were adamant about keeping the kiss (which if you've read either of their autobiographies seems to be the only thing they ever agreed on), and deliberately screwed up every take of Kirk and Uhura not kissing, so the editors were forced to use a shot where they did.
- The animated series (made only a few years after TOS) had an episode featuring Uhura in command after the male crew members of the Enterprise are incapacitated. A Moment of Awesome for early Star Trek in general and Uhura in particular!
- In "Who Mourns for Adonais?" it appears that Scotty will soon be marrying a female crew member, causing Kirk and McCoy to lament the loss of such a skilled crewman, because she'll be giving up her job once she ties the knot. Oddly enough, this comes a season after "Balance of Terror" featured a marriage between two crew members where this attitude was completely absent.note
- On another note, the franchise's depiction of Earth as a One World Order is becoming less and less likely given both deteriorating/fluctuating international and intranational relations, as well as the renewed focus (for good or ill) on racial and/or ethnic identity in the developed world. Many on both the political left and right today would balk (for very different reasons) at the sheer amount of cultural erasure needed to make such an arrangement even remotely feasible. This was something even the writers themselves could see was problematic as early as TNG, with the Borg being partly written as a grim parody of the Federation's assimilationist values taken to their logical conclusion.
- There was a Twilight Zone episode about two soldiers, one male and one female, from opposite sides being the last survivors of their war. The female soldier's combat uniform included a pleated skirt. And her only line is the Russian for "Pretty", referring to a dress in a store window.
- Unavoidable with a Long Runner like Doctor Who:
- The leader of La Résistance in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" has some very 1960s attitudes towards women, such as Stay in the Kitchen and so on, despite being from 2174.
- The Doctor telling Susan "Remember the Red Indian!" in "An Unearthly Child" - not only is this racist nowadays, it doesn't make any sense for the Doctor to hold these views. While the show had not yet decided for certain that he was an alien, he was at the very least from the distant future. *
- Both "The Tenth Planet" and "The Moonbase" show big multinational teams of scientists from all over the world, meant to show that in the future we don't discriminate. This message probably would have worked better if any of the scientists had been women. In addition, "The Tenth Planet" in particular shows the male scientists being chauvinistic towards Polly and telling her to make the coffee. (Decades later, "Last Christmas" would poke fun at this in one scene.) Though Polly serving coffee is little more than a front; she's actually trying to get Doctor Barcley on their side so it's more of "not trying to arouse suspicion".
- "Twice Upon A Time" pokes fun at this by having the Twelfth Doctor encountering the First Doctor at the time of "The Tenth Planet" and being embarrassed at his sexist attitudes. This, of course, was intended to create an Ironic Echo scenario when the Twelfth Doctor regenerates into a woman in the finale.
- We never see a single Time Lady from their introduction as a race in "The War Games" in 1969 until 1977's "The Invasion of Time" (ignoring Susan, who was a character back when the show followed different rules and the Doctor was still Ambiguously Human). Fans at the time (and some of the actors) even thought Time Lords might have been a One-Gender Race. "The Deadly Assassin" attempted to work with this by turning it into a satire of the white-boys'-club mentality of British politics - a criticism that still has fangs decades later - but still seems short-sighted with Margaret Thatcher being Leader of the Opposition at the time. From the late 70s onwards, an implicit retcon was made that Time Lords were a post-sexist society, and the Doctor even got a Time Lady as a companion (who is sometimes shown to be baffled by human attitudes towards women). Later than that it was established that Time Lords and Time Ladies occasionally swap sex when they regenerate, and both the Capaldi-era Master and the 13th Doctor are women. This also means they have their own type of gender identity issues; a one-off gag has a newly-regenerated Time Lady remark how glad she was to be back to normal after her single male regeneration.
- In Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, someone tests to see if Buck is who he says he is by making a pop culture reference to the 20th Century. Today, O.J. Simpson's image as "The Juice" has fallen out of public consciousness. And when one thinks of O.J, it's about something completely different. In Buck's defense, he was frozen in 1987, years before O.J's Fall From Grace.
Duke: If you're Buck Rogers, then who's "The Juice"?
Buck: The Juice? Hah. O.J. Simpson. I told you all about him.
- Canadian sketch show SCTV had a sketch in its very first episode, aired in 1976, where the titular station's two news anchors get into an argument on-air culminating in one accusing the other of living with a girl he isn't even married to. It's clearly meant to be scandalous. Arguably, the fact that unmarried couples living together isn't a big deal these days makes the joke even funnier.
- Central Park West:
- In the pilot episode (filmed in 1995), a character expresses surprise and elation that he was able to dump his girlfriend... by emailing her and telling her it's over. His friend (a lawyer in the District Attorney's office) chastises him for his decision, and later, the woman he dumped ridicules him in front of his co-workers for daring to be so impersonal and insensitive. The producers would have been shocked if they knew that people not only dump their partners over email in modern culture, but do it via text message as well.
- Similarly, in one Seinfeld episode (also in the '90s), George and Jerry chastise Elaine for dumping her boyfriend via a phone message.
- The creators of Daredevil (2015) ran into quite a snag when adapting the character from the comics: Hell's Kitchen is simply not the Wretched Hive it once was. At the time Matt Murdock was originally created, much of New York City was run down and crime-ridden, with Hell's Kitchen being particularly bad. However, the city has considerably gentrified since then. Not only is the modern-day Hell's Kitchen a safe neighborhood, it's become high-class and something of a Gayborhood. But since the neighborhood is so ingrained in the Daredevil mythos, moving him to, say, Newark was out of the question. It took the massive damage sustained in The Incident to justify turning it back into a gangland; this means Matt and Foggy are getting their office space for Nelson & Murdock at only 1/4th the price it would've been pre-Incident, while Wilson Fisk is building his criminal empire through bid-rigging on reconstruction.
- Iron Fist (2017) faced this at a more meta level; the show received a lot of criticism from the start for the Mighty Whitey premise. The basic criticism was that a white man going to Asia and becoming better at martial arts than the natives was acceptable when the comic was originally written, but now seems at least somewhat offensive.
- Parodied and subverted in Garth Marenghis Darkplace. The writing in the So Bad, It's Good Show Within a Show is astoundingly chauvinistic and racist, making it seem like a prime case of Values Dissonance from the 60's or so. Except the show was made in the late 80's long after such attitudes had been discredited; Garth Marenghi is just that much of a bigot. It's implied that this contributed heavily to Darkplace getting cancelled.
Garth: I portended that by the year 2040, the world would see its first female mechanic. And who knows, she might even do a decent job.
- The Handmaid's Tale:
- The series appears to have done away with the blatant white supremacy in Gilead as described in the novel. Not only did they want babies, the goal was white babies, with black people being "removed to North Dakota" (quite possibly getting killed there). In the novel, Moira was white, while African-American actress Samira Wiley plays her in the series. We see some photos of black Commanders and Wives in the clinic. No one thinks anything is odd when Moira impersonates an Aunt, either. There are some black men among the Guardians and common workers too. There are some Commanders and Wives who do explicitly want white babies (Aunt Lydia mentions a couple who explicitly requested not to have a Handmaid of color) but it's less institutionalized than in the novel.
- The series also so far removes the criticism of radical feminists present in the original book. In the book, Offred's mother was a radical second-wave feminist who believed that all men were sexist and that pornography should be banned. In the feminist community there was fierce debate about that point of view, however nowadays it's more of a fringe belief. Additionally, since the series received a Setting Update to the 21st century, it wouldn't make sense temporally for Offred's mother to be a second-wave feminist (since the second wave started in the 60s, and at this point Offred's mother could've been born in the early 60snote ). When she's finally introduced in season 2, she is a feminist (who takes Offred to feminist rallies as a child), but not an extremist like her book counterpart.
- Serena Joy's pre-Gilead profession is changed from ultra-conservative televangelist to Blonde Republican Sex Kitten political pundit/author (in the vein of Tomi Lahren or Ann Coulter), reflecting the decline in the relevance of televangelism during the 2010s.
- American Gods (2017) shows us how ridiculously quick this can come. One of the Antagonists is The Technical Boy, the Anthropomorphic Personification of the Internet. In the 1999 book he is portrayed as a pimply, overweight teenager in a Matrix-coat who tries to act a lot tougher than he is. In the 2017 series, while still fairly young, he's more of an obnoxious, Mark Zuckerberg-esque hipster douchebag who vapes in his pure white limo, and is far more violent, in representation of the overly hostile GIFT-populace and how they have led to increased real-world violence. As Gaiman put it:
"Technical Boys in 1999 were living in their moms' basements and trying to figure out how to order a pizza through the Internet. (Now) they are abusing people in the back of Ubers or monetizing fake news."
- A 2013 episode of Monday Mornings had a gay man's husband and sister clashing over whether or not to sign a DNR following an accident. The man wanted to let him pass away, knowing he would not want to be kept alive by artificial means, while the sister insisted on keeping him alive. As the marriage was not legally recognized in Oregon (where the show is set), the sister was legally the next of kin and her wishes took precedence. Merely two years later, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, turning the episode into an Unintentional Period Piece.
- Soaps get hit with this a lot. A lot of their social issue storylines that were controversial and/or groundbreaking at the time they aired now seem dated. Case in point, in 1996, The City was the first soap to tackle the transgender issue when a gorgeous model was revealed to have been born male. Unfortunately, it was nixed due to negative fan reaction and the actress's poor performance. Then in 2007, All My Children attempted a story in which the lesbian Bianca attempted a relationship with a trans woman in the process of transitioning, which again was met with negative fan reaction. But in 2015/2016, when The Bold and the Beautiful's Maya was revealed to be transgender, the storyline was almost unanimously praised by viewers and critics alike, indicating the far more liberal attitudes of the viewing public.
- Wonder Woman (1975): In "Time Bomb", Cassandra Loren, despite being from the enlightened year of 2155, bases her entire plan on convincing men to believe her future knowledge by seduction rather than using that knowledge to execute her plan herself.
- Murder, She Wrote: In "Murder, She Spoke", Jessica's work recording audio versions of her novels is slated to be discontinued, because the recordings aren't drawing a profit. Why? Because only the blind were thought to be interested in buying audiobooks at the time, so the market for them is so tiny.
- "Since I Met You" by DC Talk contains the line "My 200 friends couldn't fill the void in my soul". Listening to this in the 90s, this seemed like a ludicrously huge number; but since the advent of Facebook, "200 friends" is, if anything, lower than average if one has social networks in mind, and doesn't sound quite as odd thanks to such things. Though considering the large number was probably meant to reference the obvious impossibility of being close to that many people, perhaps it's a rather good (if unknowing) reference to the empty vanity of adding people merely to increase the number appearing on your profile. But in that case 200 friends still seems a bit low, unless one is using a network which limits the number of people one adds as friends, such as Steam.
- Though still catchy enough that it's seldom noticed, Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" becomes this trope if you listen to the lyrics: nowadays, the accused in a paternity suit is more likely to whine about DNA test results than about how much the baby's photo resembles him.
- The song "Year 3000" by Busted gives us the line "Not much has changed, but they live underwater."
- The Statler Brothers' 1960s hit song, "Flowers on the Wall," had the character sarcastically talk about "Smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo" as proof that he does not have nothing to do. When The Muppets had a viral video of their own cover of the song, obviously with that franchise's popularity with kids that line would not do with the obviously unhealthy implications of the former, and the fact that Bob Keeshan's TV show has been gone for decades. So, now Beaker occupies himself with equally pointless tasks.
- The '80s Chilean band Los Prisioneros criticized the "Chilean way of life" in various of their songs. Sadly to say, these songs are still relevant until today in Chile.
- Space 1889 has an alternate history version: Mankind achieves space travel in 1870, meets other intelligent species and gets access to material that makes flying ships possible — with all other things being the same, including society. The discovery of other intelligent species, for instance, has almost no effect on human society, and European colonists treat the new planets as new places to explore, trade with and colonize, and Martians and lizard men as just a new form of natives. Player characters are supposed to generally embody Victorian society and values; the players disagree with much of these. The in-game society is justifiably old-fashioned since it is actually set in an alternative past.
- The Punisher goes out of its way to address this, with Frank Castle noting that while Hell's Kitchen isn't all that crime-ridden anymore, the old New York is just below the surface, with the criminals now operating out of sight of the general population.
- Jonathan Ingram at one point during Policenauts can comment on a strip club that employs transgender "biovestites", which he's quite dismissive of, labeling them "so-called women" and states that 2037 Los Angeles is "unfortunately" famous for this sort of thing. While one could excuse these attitudes as Deliberate Values Dissonance due to him being a Fish out of Temporal Water, the incident that saw him get cryogenically frozen happened in 2013, and plenty of people from that year would find such opinions horribly transphobic.
- The Pokémon series, starting in The New '10s, gradually phased out its famous "Are you a boy or a girl?" prompt as transgender issues rose to public knowledge and gender became more widely thought of as a spectrum rather than a strict binary. Pokémon GO opts for "choose your style" instead, and Pokémon Sun and Moon and Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! just ask which picture looks the most like you.
- While the vast majority of Red vs. Blue has aged rather well, many jokes/aspects of the earlier seasons definitely wouldn't fly if they had came out today and not in the 2000s and early 2010s. The Blood Gulch Chronicles probably gets this the worst, as the various examples of Innocently Insensitive Unfortunate Implications during its eventsnote would all have gotten a noticeable backlash if they were to have been first released in 2019. Though to Rooster Teeth's credit, the series has actually adapted relatively well to the times by taking these criticisms into account, with it in turn focusing on having more politically correct humor as the series has gone on while either removing the series' more problematic elements or giving them a suitable Revision/Rewritenote .
- The Jetsons:
- Jane Jetson was a typical 1950s housewife who didn't even know how to drivenote ... but they had flying cars! When she gets driving lessons, her instructor panics at the idea of a female student, then changes his "Student Driver" sign to read "Woman Student Driver: BEWARE".
- There was one episode George spent complaining about women drivers, with an unflatteringly portrayed female bus driver getting Played for Laughs.
- On the other hand, lots of jokes based on George complaining about his "button finger" (with the implication that what we are lazy about will just get more crazy in a world where you just push buttons all day) are more of a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment due to increasing awareness of Repetitive Strain Injury.
- Several jokes were made about the standard work week being nine hours long, based on the popular conception of the time that technology would allow people to work far less. Not only has the exact opposite happened, but cell phones and email have allowed bosses to contact employees 24/7, meaning that the separation between work and leisure has become blurred.
- This trope was the whole point of the show, since it was meant to be the future equivalent of The Flintstones. The fact that there were no real cultural differences despite being set a hundred years in the future was a big part of the show's humor.
- Many future-themed classic cartoons, from Looney Tunes to MGM, fit this trope. In many instances, they even assume the dress styles of the era in which they were made will still be relevant in the future.
- The Simpsons:
- In the Season 4 (1993) episode "I Love Lisa"'s "Mediocre Presidents" song it is remarked that they "won't find their pictures on dollars or on cents", with the supposition being that only above average Presidents would ever be given such an honor. Fast forward 20 years, and the Presidential Dollar Coin series put every US President on a dollar coin.note
- In-universe example in "Bart vs. Australia": when discussing the brief Australia craze in the US, a movie theater shows the marquee "Yahoo Serious Festival".
Lisa: I know those words, but that sign doesn't make sense.
- There are several examples in early seasons of either Milhouse or Martin being implied to be gay. As sexual minorities in America grew to be more and more publicly accepted, that running gag was quietly dropped in favour of implying that Milhouse had a hopeless crush on Lisa.
- The episode "Lisa's Date With Density" shows Nelson beating Milhouse to the point of Milhouse being wheeled out to an ambulance, when Nelson thinks a note (from Lisa) was from Milhouse. Even then it was questionable as a gag; nowadays, it's a poster symbol of gay-bashing (Matthew Sheperd's death took place only two years after this episode aired).
- In "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy", Bart complains that Lisas over-the-top liberal activism has forced the family into such indignities as marching in a gay pride parade. These days, participating in Pride would hardly be considered on the extreme end of progressivism. Indeed, episodes in the 2000s show the family (including Bart) happily attending uncontroversial Pride events along with the rest of Springfield.
- The Animaniacs episode "Rest in Pieces" had an important plot point being that no one ever dies in a cartoon. (Except maybe Bonkers.) Slappy Squirrel's statement about death's nonexistence has never been entirely accurate, but it's more blatantly wrong now than it was then; at the time, death was a frequent topic in anime, but anime hadn't really taken off in the west and death was uncommon in western cartoons. The topic has since started to come up more frequently, thanks to changing cultural standards and censors lightening up somewhat, and so that claim now sounds rather strange - at best, it sounds like a reference to older cartoons rather than a statement about all cartoons. Even the Golden Age cartoons Slappy was likely thinking of sometimes contained death, but the ones which did generally either faded into obscurity or were banned.
- Though it aired in the early '90s, some episodes of Doug could bring several questions to youths who saw the show today. "Doug Didn't Do It" would be one example of these:
- First, since schools would often have closed-circuit television, Bone could have just looked into the system to find the suspects he needs to know who took his trophy. Better yet, as many youths of today criticized this (on-campus CCTV) as a form of oppression, Doug could have used this against Bone to clear his name.
- Second, since his trophy was grounds for "probable cause",note Bone could've just searched through lockers, either everyone's or just the "suspects".
- Third, both Doug and Roger would've faced probable expulsion for what happened, even if Principal Buttsavitch overturned the decision on the former.
- Mission Hill features an episode where the main character, Andy, needs to find a job. He spends a day looking for work, stumbling into five jobs, then quitting all of them for no reason other than he didn't like them, and still ended up making $60. To anyone in the job market today, the idea of finding five jobs just walking down the street is a total fantasy.
- Recess has an episode wherein Gus is being bullied and fights back, which causes the bully to back down but not after he gets a beatdown himself, and nobody gets punished for it. In the new tens with zero tolerance policies becoming standard, both Gus and the bully would have been on a one-way trip to Principal Prickley's office to get expelled. To be fair it's established that Gus won't tell a teacher because kids don't believe in snitching, which is still a common attitude among gradeschoolers even today, and there's no teachers or other staff around to witness the incident (even when bullying policies were more lax it still wasn't permitted and there would have been some punishment especially given the rather savage extent of the beating) and so the only adults aware would be Gus's parents, who may believe standing up to bullies is the best solution, which would fit the attitude of a career military man like Mr. Griswold. There's also no way Gus could be expelled, since he didn't hit Gelman back and if he did it would have been ruled self defense since Gelman clearly wasn't going to let him simply walk away. If anything Gus's parents could have a potential lawsuit against the school since it occurred on school property and the playground was unsupervised despite the large amount of kids still on it.
- South Park has been on so long that the earlier seasons have started to get this compared to the more recent ones. To be specific, the early seasons heavily implied that School Bullying Is Harmless, with any characters who complain being considered wusses who deserve their poor treatment. After certain horrific instances of classroom bullying forced society to reevaluate this perception, the show seems to have followed suit, with later episodes cutting back on this significantly (at least by the sympathetic characters) with a couple episodes explicitly saying that bullying's bad, m'kay?
- The episode "Mr Garrison's Fancy New Vagina" mocks transgender identities, comparing it to a human wanting to become a dolphin (though the mockery could be aimed at doctors who prey on insecurities of potential patients for profit.) By "The Cissy", nearly a decade later, trans identities have become far more normalized, and the joke is instead about faking transexuality to scam people too socially (or, in this specific case, legally) conscious to do anything about it.
- Arthur has several earlier episodes that passed into this, which is inevitable given the Long Runner status of the show. An example would be the season 1 episode "Arthur and the Crunch Cereal Contest" in the US and Canada, which had a gag that the protagonist can only participate in the titular contest if he submits a box top of said cereal as a proof of purchase, prompting Arthur to munch on said cereal throughout the episode. New consumer laws introduced around and after the turn of the millennium prohibits making the participant buy a product to enter a contest as it constitutes to a form of advertising. If Crunch Cereal were to try that shtick again in The New '10s, they'd be facing a hefty fine from the FTC, and the contest forcefully cancelled.
- The anti-drug special Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue had Simon Seville refer to marijuana as an unlawful substance. Depending on where you live, marijuana has been legalized or in the process of decriminalization for medical use. Canada in particular, being one of the countries the special aired in, has legalized marijuana nationwide for medical or recreational use in 2018.
- This trope is why original character Mark Beaks exists in the Ducktales 2017 reboot: both the comics and the original cartoon predate the internet and modern technology that created many modern day billionaires, which Beaks is a generalized parody of.