Follow TV Tropes


To the Future, and Beyond

Go To

"In the year 2525, if man is still alive..."
Zager and Evans

Contrary to certain well-regarded opinions, there is always more of the future. Did you visit 2032, taste a ratburger, and even learn how to use the seashells? Why stop there? Why not take a jaunt to the 23rd century, stow away aboard a starship and seek out new life and new civilizations? Or skip ahead a few millennia, enlist in the Imperial Guard and fight for the glory of the God-Emperor of Mankind? Just be careful you don't go too far, or else you might run into malicious little transhumans in flying capsules festooned with all kinds of lethal gadgetry...

Some works treat "the future" as a brick wall: once you get there, you don't get to go any further. Others are well aware that once you introduce anything beyond the mundane present day, the sky's the limit (or, more accurately, the Natural End of Time).


    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City:
    • The Silver Agent was sent to the 43rd century right before his execution, where he inspires and leads thousands of heroes against a digital tyrant. Afterwards, he is sent backwards in time, stopping at key periods along the way to help others in need and establishing himself as a beacon of hope for millenia. This is why he willingly allows himself to be executed, to avoid changing history and erasing the sacrifices of those other heroes.
    • After being harassed by mere mortals in history, Infidel established his first empire in the far future, after humanity had died out and he could study the universe without being interrupted... at least, until Samaritan accidentally erased it.
  • Nathan Never: Double Future, a special issue, features an inversion of sorts where two different futures come visit the "present". Two Cyborg killers arrive in the protagonist's time to turn the tide against humans in the Robot War they are fighting in their time. To do so, they need to kill a mysterious man whose memoirs are the main inspiration for humans in the war: as it turns out, said man comes from an even further future and already knows the end of the war. On top of it all, since Natan Never is a sci-fi comic, the "present" of the protagonist is about two centuries in our own future.
  • Superman:
    • Back during the Silver and Bronze Ages, Superman and his family time-travelled constantly, even becoming members of the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st century. In Action Comics #289, Supergirl talked her cousin into paying a visit to their Legion teammates, but leaving the timestream ten years later than usual to meet the adult Legionnaires.
    • The Immortal Superman: Superman has travelled to the 1,020th century but he's unable to go back to the past because the Time Trapper has blocked the timestream. Superman's only recourse is propelling further and further into the future until he stumbles upon a way back to his era.
    • Justice League 3000: Lampshaded. Supergirl gets trapped in an alternate, awful future where the Justice League is made up for half-assed, jerkass clones of the originals. When she asks if her rocketship can send her further into the future, she's told she's stuck.
    • A Mind-Switch in Time: Inverted. Superman gets trapped into a time-loop. Since he can't break it by time-travelling to the future, he decides to test Einstein's theory that time isn't linear but a full loop: he flings himself into the past and travels the entire timestream backwards until emerging one day after the time-loop.
    • Superman Family: In #200, Supergirl gets ambushed by a Time Beast as travelling across time. Her only way to escape is to fly towards the end of time where the Time Beast can't survive.
    • The Unknown Supergirl: Kara travels several thousands of years into the future, instead of "just" to the 31st century, hoping to find a way to regain her powers.
    • In The Condemned Legionnaires, Kara briefly mentions one prior adventure where she travelled beyond the 30th century.
    • In The Living Legends Of Superman, Kal-El runs into a dangerous cosmic anomaly, and although he manages to dissipate it, he is hurtled far into the future, crashing in the year 5,902. The final story, "The Exile at the Edge of Eternity", is set at least seven million years after Superman's time.
  • Suspense: Issue #14, "Death and Doctor Parker", has a version of this where the titular immortal takes The Slow Path through the future. Beginning in the then-present day of the fifties, he lives first through centuries of cultural evolution and world-reshaping wars, before ending up imprisoned in a zoo by far-future, giant-headed humans who view him like we would a surviving Australopithecus. He remains there until the future humans annihilate themselves in an interplanetary war, which strips the Earth of any animal life besides insects and Parker himself. In the end, he finds himself trapped as the only intelligent being in a distant future of steaming jungles ruled by giant insects.

    Fan Works 
  • Hellsister Trilogy: In the final story arc, Legion of Super-Heroes members Kara and Dev are forcefully pulled to the 30th century, but eighteen years after the age they usually travel to and from.
  • Maybe the Last Archie Story: When hunting down Doctor Doom, who has kidnapped Sabrina, built a time machine and escaped into the time stream, Archie's gang end in the 29th Century.

  • In Millennium (1989), agents from the future (31st Century) are using desperate means to replace the dying human race with people abducted from the 20th century from airplanes just before they crash. Due to the deteriorating time line, however, the 31st Century is rocked by temporal distortions (or timequakes) which force the re-population effort to rely on their backup plan: send everyone into the far, far future. The fate of the main characters (and possibly humanity?) is represented by 1980s abstract visual effects.
  • Happens in both movie versions of The Time Machine.
    • Played with in the 1960 version, where the protagonist leaves 1900 to visit the "future" years of 1917, 1940 and 1966 before stopping in 802,701.
    • In the 2002 movie, the protagonist stops in 2030, 2037 and 802,701, also briefly witnessing a Bad Future... er, in 635,427,810.

  • In The Time Machine, the Time Traveler already went extremely far into the future, but after his adventure he gets the idea to go even farther. He ends up seeing a dying Earth inhabited by only strange creatures like giant crabs and strange blobs. Terrified, the Time Traveler flees back to his own time.
  • In the Poul Anderson novel There Will Be Time, the protagonist travels forward in time, beyond the Maurai Federation's rise and fall to a future in which his own long-term programs have paid off: humans have made contact with extraterrestrial beings and are assimilating into a broader galactic culture with the help of experienced human space travelers and time travelers.
  • The protagonist of The Man Who Folded Himself notes that you run into difficulties when traveling too far into the future (or past), with one of the first problems being the evolution of language making you and the natives mutually incomprehensible. Travel further and they end up not even being recognizably human.
  • In "Blood", a short story by Fredric Brown, two vampires escape lynching with a time machine. They travel to more and more distant futures in order to find an age when vampires have been forgotten, so that nobody can recognize them as a threat. When they finally find it, they are stranded there with no fuel — all radioactive isotopes on Earth have already decayed. And the dominant lifeform is plants.
  • Poul Anderson's Tau Zero is essentially this trope IN SPACE!, although with a single continuous travel instead of a number of discrete ones.
  • In the Italian novel 190 miliardi di anni dopo (190 billion years later), a paleontologist goes Human Popsiclenote  in the hope of being revived by a more advanced civilization. He wakes up in a world of half-dolphins half-humans, but his reviving causes an unpleasant politic stirrup, so he timeskips again... And again as some A.I.s decide he'd look very good in a museum... And again to avoid freezing to death in a glaciation... At a point, he's talking to intelligent photons near the heat death of the universe. And then the real Mind Screw begins.
  • Happens twice to Viktor Sorricaine, the main (human) protagonist of Frederik Pohl's novel The World at the End of Time thanks to suspended animation and relativistic contraction of time.
  • The third novel of the Spin trilogy ends with Isaac, Treya/Allison, and Turk traveling to a faraway human colony at sublight speeds but with Time Dilation, allowing for days to pass for the travelers instead of millennia. Then Treya/Allison and Turk stay with the humans, while Isaac continues on his journey, eventually seeing the stars winking out and even black holes evaporating. Meanwhile, humans and other races have learned to "upload" themselves to the Hypothetical network to survive the end of the universe. Isaac follows suit and finds himself in the Multiverse among other ancient races that have survived the ends of their universes.
  • Inverted in Son of Man by Robert Silverberg: it takes place in a single time (in the far future), but several characters are time travelers from intermediate eras between the present and the novel's setting.
  • In Future Times Three, by René Barjavel, the protagonists visit both the year 2052 — where they witness the collapse of civilization — and the year 100.000, where what's left of mankind has evolved into something unrecognizable. Some reconnaissance trips between the two ages help them understand how this evolution took place.
  • In The Accidental Time Machine, by Joe Haldeman, a malfunctioning piece of equipment keeps "jumping" into the future and carrying anything it touches with it. Also, each jump is twelve times longer than the previous one. Among the ages visited by the protagonist are: a near-future where he is a minor celebrity as the man who vanished fifteen years prior; a twenty-third century where the Second Coming (actually a self-important AI posing as Jesus) has turned the eastern United States into a theocracy; a Post-Scarcity Economy in the fifth millennium where everybody is rich, pampered by AIs and quite vapid and shallow as a result; a series of futures where humans apparently mess up Earth beyond repair and leave it forever.
  • The Shadow Out of Time: When the Yith are inevitably defeated and their civilization destroyed by the flying polyps, they transport their minds into the bodies of arachnids at Earth's final era to escape them.
  • Evolution is a novelization of the evolutionary history of primates, from their origins to the distant future. The last three chapters are set, respectively, in an indeterminate age at least 1000 years ahead, 30 million years in the future, and 500 million years in the future. The book ends with the death of the last descendant of the human race (that evolved into a myriad new forms but lost their intellect in the process).
  • In A World Out of Time by Larry Niven, the protagonist is cryogenically frozen in the hope his cancer can be cured in the future... But when he wakes up two centuries later, the world is a totalitarian state where he has no rights. Assigned a job as a spaceship pilot, he runs away with the ship... And comes back three million years later (courtesy of Time Dilation), to a radically altered Solar System.
  • The Man Who Awoke — published in 1933 in five parts in Wonder Stories, then republished in book form in the 1970s — is about Norman Winters, who invents a technology for suspended animation and visits the years 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 and 25,000 A.D. The last episode starts with the discovery of immortality in the year 25,000, which obviates the need for suspended animation, and covers several million years.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who takes this to extremes not seen anywhere else. By which we mean that the Doctor has been to the end of the Universe on at least three separate occasions, just to start. Lampshaded in "The End of the World", where the Doctor offers to take Rose to "the future", and then keeps saying "Do you want to go further?" until they get to the destruction of Earth.
  • Star Trek already takes place in our future in the first place, but occasionally the crews have to deal with time travelers from even much farther away in the future. Some examples are the Vorgons from The Next Generation episode "Captain's Holiday", Captain Braxton and the time ship USS Relativity from Voyager, or Daniels and his enemies in the Temporal Cold War from Star Trek: Enterprise. In the third season of Star Trek: Discovery, to avert a galactic apocalypse, the titular ship and her crew take a one-way trip 930 years into the future, to the year 3189.


  • In The Tragedy Of Man, first staged in 1861, Lucifer sends Adam travelling through time to show him the horrors of history in order to convince him that humans can never escape their base natures. After a trip to the 19th century London, the play jumps forward to what playwright Imre Madach believed the 20th century would be like... then travels to a distant ice age that is at least four millennia into our future.

    Video Games 
  • Chrono Trigger lets you travel to different stages of both the past and future: back to the medieval era, a forgotten age of advanced science and magic, or prehistory, or forward to the day of the apocalypse, a bleak post-apocalyptic wasteland, or so far into the future that you reach the End of Time itself.
  • Empire Earth is divided in fourteen epochs, including two future ones: Digital Age and Nano Age. Empire Earth: The Art of Conquest adds Space Age too.
  • The Half-Life mod Timeline 3: Heart of Darkness has Gordon Freeman adventuring into the far, far future, featuring levels set in underground tunnels during the sun's Red Giant phase and a hostile frozen-atmosphere world after the sun's inevitable death.
  • The Silent Age: The player quickly gets used to travel some 40 years into the future, but Joe's final destination is more impressive. It's vaguely described as "hundreds, maybe thousands of years in the future", and is apparently as far as the time machine would allow. Worth mentioning, the trope isn't played straight and that's well justified: the farther you go, the more imprecise and unstable everything gets (like, the location of arrival and such). Traveling as far as Joe eventually does, even destroys his time machine.

    Web Original 
  • Played with in Cartoon Fight Club, which is more of "Battle of the Future against the Beyond" in the battle of Batman Beyond (future) fighting against Spider Man 2099 (beyond). Despite coming from an even further future, Miguel is no different from Spider Man aside from adding a few weaknesses and removing Spider Man's greatest asset, his Spidey-Sense. On the other hand, Terry is literally the original Batman but a lot better and has equipments that can counter and exploit Miguel's strengths and weaknesses respectively.

    Western Animation 
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In the TV Movie Ego Trip, Dexter goes farther into the future of his life, from him as a standard worker in a cubicle, to him as a Future Badass and finally, him as an old man.
  • Johnny Test: In the episode "Sonic Johnny," after Johnny inadvertently sets his Super Sonic Scooter that his sisters made him to the Mach 9 setting which not only sends Johnny and Dukey to the future, but makes all the technology in Porkbelly short out. In the future, he is a wanted criminal, and Johnny keeps going further into the future to escape them. Not surprisingly, he is still wanted, and not until the end of the episode do they finally go back home.
  • Futurama, "The Late Phillip J. Fry". Fry, Bender and Prof. Farnsworth are on a time machine that only goes forward. In testing it by going ahead one minute, they accidentally go too far, so they try to find a future where backwards time travel is possible. They end up going to the end of the universe, only to discover the same universe starting again, so they just go forward to the point where they started (and they end up doing it twice because they overshoot the mark again).
  • The Rupert episode "Rupert in Timeland" had Rupert Bear and his friend Podgy Pig end up time-traveling to various futures because of a mishap while trying to help Father Time fix his machine. They first become adolescents and are seen going for a drive with their future girlfriends. After that, we see such things as Podgy getting married and Rupert having an office job, until eventually Rupert and Podgy become elderly men before Father Time returns them home and restores their youth.
  • Oggy and the Cockroaches: In "Oggy Van Winkle", Oggy discovers a gun that can freeze people, which he uses on the cockroaches. When the cockroaches are thawed out by a passing poodle, they find themselves in the future, where Oggy and Jack have become elderly. Later, at the end, they use it on Oggy and Jack, who then wake up even further into the future, where the cockroaches are old too.