A trope Older than You Think, that of a story that informs us the future will not be full of doomsday scenarios or nightmarish dystopias, but in fact the time when all troubles will be behind us. Or, at the very least, the future will hold fewer burdens than that of the past.
It could also be more personalized, where the characters we've been following (or at least some of them) can at least look forward to a better tomorrow.
This is somewhat of a generational/cyclical trope in some ways: Science Fiction in the optimistic post-WWII era in the U.S. featured easy travel to other planets, flying cars, the triumph of democracy and universally-recognized human rights, etc. Around the late '60s and '70s, dystopic scenarios became increasingly common, however usually there was a hero who successfully undermined the dictators or exposed the dark secret that deceived the people, and the dystopia was overcome (Logan's Run, Soylent Green possibly with the hero's publicly-proclaimed end reveal; later, The Running Man). Around the '80s and '90s dystopian Crapsack Worlds would often stay dystopian Crapsack Worlds, with the drama centering more on heroes (or Anti Heroes) dealing with life as best they can and maybe accomplishing some bit of good in the process.
This trope is especially popular in religions. Most of them promise some sort of salvation or enlightenment for their followers if they just keep on believing in the Second Coming or whatever positive future might be coming.
Politicians also love to promise a better future when they get elected. No Real Life examples are needed.
Compare I Want My Jetpack and World Half Full, where someone longs for this to be true and where a person or group of people try to invoke this respectively. Grass Is Greener likewise can deal with characters and their delusion that that place or time that isn't now and here is always going to be better when they get there.
- "Fate" in Magi: Labyrinth Of Magic is a force that moves the world towards a better future for people in general. However, individual people can really get screwed over by Fate and suffer horribly. The main bad guys like to track these people down and give them the ability to fight Fate—to the detriment of everyone around them.
- Practically said word-for-word by Lelouch in the second-to-last episode of Code Geass. Whilst Charles zi Britannia sought the past, and Schneizel el Britannia seeks to preserve the present, Lelouch seeks the future.
- Transmetropolitan's Spider Jerusalem, despite being a violently cynical misanthrope, genuinely believes this. He just wishes that it would happen FASTER.
Spider: The future is an inherently good thing. And we move into it one winter at a time. Things get better one winter at a time. If you're going to celebrate anything then have a drink on this: The world is, generally and on balance, a better place to live this year than it was last year.
- The "Old Woman Laura" arc of All-New Wolverine shows a future where the heroes have won, save for Doctor Doom who remains the last villain holding out in Latveria (taking him out is an important part of the story' s plot).
- Many fairy tales revolve around poor people whose lives turn out better afterwards.
- In The Pendragon Adventure books the original version of Third Earth, which is Earth in the 51st century, is practically perfect. It's an idealistic paradise where the humans are entirely happy, and all of knowledge and history is easily available.
- From the New World: After the Crapsaccharine World's society goes to bust, Saki and Satoru know that their future will be better for their child.
- Discussed in part three of Monday Begins on Saturday: Privalov time travels into the fictional future of mankind, as imagined by his contemporary sci-fi writers, and finds it split by a giant wall in two halves: the "World of Humane Imagination" (falling squarely under this trope) and the Grimdark "World of Fear of the Future".
- You can see this with the last novels of the Discworld, the first books show a planet locked in Medieval Stasis dominated by bloodthirsty warlords, petty tyrants and mad priests with a huge mistrust between most races, nations and rigid social hierarchies, in the last books of the series the Discworld is entering an industrial/modern revolution, wars, plague and famine are going extinct, racism, social and religious bigotry are in decline, freedom of press as well as mass communications are a thing and Ankh-Morpork as well as other major nations are becoming prosperous, cleaner, more efficient, secure and equalitarian societies, Terry Pratchett gives the Discworld one last goddess, Iron Girder, the personification of the Idea of Progress.
- A central premise of the Star Trek franchise is that technology and science makes life better. There's no racism either; humans are finally getting along with each other. Not played entirely straight, however. According to Star Trek, humanity will pass through a horrific World War III and its dystopian aftermath before reaching the utopian age in which the franchise takes place. It does work out in the long run, but there's a hefty dose of Earn Your Happy Ending.
- In season 4 of Fringe, Peter Bishop and Olivia Dunham are always looking forward to their perfect future in which they will raise their daughter and life will be peachy keen.
- Ultraman Max: This is a hope for the majority of the heroes throughout the series and a common Shut Up, Hannibal! to alien invaders. The Distant Finale shows that yes, it will be. Humanity has become a more peaceful, better society, it's subtly implied the Delos (the other civilization living on the planet) have come out of hiding and now live peacefully with mankind, and Kaito and Mizuki are Happily Married with their grandson leaving on an exploration of the galaxy.
- The Outer Limits (1995): In "Sarcophagus", Natalie and Curtis Grainger awaken after 1,000 years in stasis to find that Earth has benefited significantly from its alliance with the race to which the alien in the Neolithic burial chamber belonged. The two species live in harmony on Earth.
- The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Profile in Silver", after admitting that he is a time traveler from 2172, Professor Joseph Fitzgerald tells John F. Kennedy that his greatest dreams have been fulfilled. By the 22nd Century, humanity has eliminated tyranny, war and poverty and has gone to the stars.
- See Pep-Talk Song
- "The Future" by Sparks. In the future fun is fun / In the future lots of sun...
- The "Carousel of Progress" at Disney World has the song "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" (which was also covered by They Might Be Giants for Meet the Robinsons).
- The Donald Fagen song "I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)" was named for the International Geophysical Year, a series of international collaborations of scientists from many disciplines that ran from 1957-58. The song captures the Postwar optimism reflected in those times and the promise of wondrous technological marvels to come:
The future looks brightOn that train all graphite and glitterUndersea by railNinety minutes from New York to ParisWell by seventy-six we'll be A.O.K.What a beautiful world this will beWhat a glorious time to be free
- The song "The White Cliffs Of Dover" by Vera Lynn was written and recorded during the Second World War, when Lynn's assertion that "tomorrow, when the world is free/ just you wait and see" gave many Britons hope that the hardships of the war would be over one day.
- "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" by Frank Zappa from We're Only in It for the Money sings that there will come "a time when everybody who is lonely will be free to sing and dance and love/ there will come a time when every evil that we know will be an evil that we can rise above" and "even take their clothes off when they dance."
- The Miracle" by Queen concludes with the lines: "One day you'll see/ a time will come/ when we will all be friends."
- "One Day I'll Fly Away" by Gillian Welch also lifts the hope that despite all the miseries of today there will come a time when the protagonist will be able to escape from it.
- "We Shall Overcome" by Pete Seeger is perhaps the greatest example of this trope. Originally used for the Afro-American civil rights movement it has now become "the" rallying song to unite activists for a common cause.
- "Tomorrow Is Mine" from the film Cabaret expresses faith that the future will belong to the protagonist.
- Bob Marley also wrote a lot of songs giving hope for a better future, "No Woman, No Cry" from Natty Dread, being the most famous example, where he comforts a woman with the assertion that "everything is going to be alright". On the Live Album Live this moment is even greater because you hear the crowd cheer when he sings that line. "Hallelujah Time", "Get Up Stand Up", "Small Axe" and "Put It On" from Burnin' are songs that fall under this trope too. Positive Vibration on Rastaman Vibration also has a positive message.
- Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin' sings about a society all kinds of inevitable upcoming social changes in society occur, but it's sung in a comforting and enthusiastic manner so that the listener can hardly wait until they happen.
- John Lennon's "Mind Games" from Mind Games shows that despite man's mind games "love is the answer and you got to let it grow."
- Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come welcomes a bright future for Jazz.
- Music/Gorillaz have "Clint Eastwood" from their album Gorillaz
I'm useless, but not for longThe future is coming on
- Klaus Nomi's "Total Eclipse" from Klaus Nomi paints a bleak picture of the world succumbing into nuclear war, but his song "After The End" from Simple Man has a more hopeful message for people on Earth after the nuclear explosion. Well, kind of:
Well, the freak shall inherit the earth nowNo matter how well done or rareBut I'm telling you hold on, hold onTomorrow we'll be thereWe'll build our radioactive castlesOut in the radioactive air
- A common theme in Sun Ra's music. In Space Is The Place he looks for a planet to take the Afro-American race to where they can live in better peace and harmony.
Oh, we sing this song to a great tomorrow
- Tragedy + Time by Rise Against is about healing after being in a dark place in life.
- The end of Uncle Vanya has Sonya delivering a monologue to her Uncle about how though their life sucks now, it will be better in Heaven, and they will finally get to rest.
- "The sun'll come out, tomorrow / Bet your bottom dollar, that tomorrow / There'll be sun / Just thinkin' about, tomorrow / Clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow, till' there's none"
- Final Fantasy XIII-2: In Serah's time of 5AF, humanity lives in tiny communities that eke out a living while fighting off monsters. In every timeline after that, humans are doing better. 400AF is nightmarish but once the timeline is changed, a grand society has been developed where the greatest problem is slight boredom. Noel comes from a Bad Future but he went back in time to invoke this trope.