Follow TV Tropes


Time Marches On

Go To

You're older than you've ever been, and now you're even older,
and now you're even older, and now you're even older.
You're older than you've ever been, and now you're even older,
and now you're older still.
Time is marching on, and time... is still marching on.
They Might Be Giants, "Older"

Any story must be written over some period of time. It can only be read at a later period (occasionally overlapping, but still later). Usually, this is fine. Some stories remain classics thousands of years after they were written. Others, not so much. The world shifts around them and they become less plausible, less interesting, less relevant, less funny, or even less comprehensible.


Contrast It Will Never Catch On, which is part in-universe example, part Historical In-Joke - though examples of those may, ironically, fit one of these tropes later on down the road.

Tropes that usually fall into this category:

  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The work mentions something from the past that is obscure but really existed, while the audience assumes this was made up for the work.
  • Cosmetically Advanced Prequel: A prequel has a more advanced look to it than the work it is intended to take place before, due to the production team having access to better equipment and techniques.
  • Dated History: New discoveries render previous documentation of an event or time period inaccurate.
  • Fair for Its Day: An older work presents views and ideas that sound backwards to modern audiences, but were progressive by the standards of its own time period.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: A joke becomes less funny because of current events.
    • Hilarious in Hindsight: Something from a work becomes funnier or more relevant because of current events.
    • Harsher in Hindsight: A scene that was already sad or unsettling becomes even worse because of current events.
    • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Current events make a particular moment from the work more endearing and heartwarming than it was originally.
    • Not So Crazy Anymore: A cultural, scientific or technological concept that a work presents as absurd or far-flung, only to become an unremarkable aspect of real life.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: Works about the future that failed to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union, or presumed that the status quo of the Cold War would last forever.
  • Get Thee to a Nunnery: Euphemisms that lose their original connotations over time, due to changing vocabulary and cultural context.
    • Have a Gay Old Time: Terms that used to mean something innocent, but nowadays have much saucier meanings.
  • The New Adventures: A sequel work is titled in a way that advertises how new it is, despite being years old and/or no longer the most recent work in the series.
  • Advertisement:
  • Outdated by Canon: Fan-theories and fanfiction plots are made obsolete by new developments in the official material.
  • Science Marches On: Scientific facts presented as true in a work are later proven incorrect in the real world.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: A work that was innovative at the time nowadays comes off as uninspired and unremarkable.
  • Society Marches On: Beyond superficial trappings, the culture and social norms of the future are portrayed as being mostly unchanged from the author's own time.
    • Eternal Prohibition: Laws and taboos regarding unhealthy substances (drugs, alcohol, etc.) in the future are identical to whatever they were at the time the work was written.
  • Steam Never Dies: Steam locomotives are used as a visual shorthand for trains, regardless of how far locomotive technology has advanced.
  • Technology Marches On: Emphasis is placed on technology considered cutting-edge at the time, which has since become outdated.
    • Long-Runner Tech Marches On: A series that's run for a long time stays up-to-date by replacing old technology with more modern technology.
  • Two Decades Behind: Fictional depictions of pop culture are prone to Anachronism Stew, blending the modern day with an earlier time period that the author is more familiar with.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: A work from the past doesn't age well due to having many references to the exact time period where the work was being made.
    • Fad Super: A character is designed to tap into an ongoing pop-culture phenomenon, only to become a conspicuous period piece after the fad inevitably dies off.
    • We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: A long-running series tries to update its old-fashioned image by making references to current events or current pop-culture, which only serves to date the work a second time.
    • Zeerust: Science-fiction aesthetics that were seen as suitably futuristic at the time the work was written, but now serve only to date the work to that particular era.
      • Zeerust Canon: Modern installments of established zeerust fiction that preserve those outdated aesthetics for the sake of continuity.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: