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20 Minutes into the Past

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"The past is another country. 1987's just the Isle of Wight."
Ninth Doctor, Doctor Who, "Father's Day" (2005)

A work that is shot so that it looks like it happened sometime in the years before it was actually filmed, often right around the time that the target audience were kids. It's not a historical or nostalgic piece related to some specific event, person or story written in that time and thus specifically tied down, but it may have a specific date attached just to increase realism or allow for Establishing Shots so you can imagine the mindset of the characters. For instance, the Cold War mindset is used now in works set in that time period even if the story has nothing to do with it; a similar phenomenon has occurred concerning 9/11. It may be tinged with nostalgia, or maybe the props were just easy to pick up at a secondhand store. In recent times, this can be to avoid the parts of modern life that can make the plot unworkable, such as mobile phones and social media like YouTube and Facebook.

In some cases, this can be the result of the work in question being a prequel to a work that was set in the present day, a sequel to a work in which much less time passes between the works in universe compared to real life, an adaptation of a work that was set in the present at the time of its release, or a work with a long production process that was set in the present when work began on it.

Vaguely related to, and is an inverse of, 20 Minutes into the Future, but without the Applied Phlebotinum. Compare and contrast Next Sunday A.D.. If anachronisms end up in unchecked, will end up causing Present-Day Past.

Depending on how much time passes in-universe during the series' run, a show that starts off in the Present Day may become this.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The pre-Crisis Superboy series, via its use of a floating timeline, saw the Boy of Steel's era set in the relative past. As such, an early 1970s story saw Lana Lang interested in hula hoops, while the 1980s run saw Clark meeting President Kennedy.
  • Puerto Rico Strong is a 2018 anthology. Several comics take place in the recent past, such as Family Ends With Me taking place in 1969 and The Dragon of Bayamón taking place in 1973.
  • The Babysitters Club is set in the 1990s according to the technology. It isn't as blatant as in the original books, namely because the fashion is more ambiguous.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animation 
  • Anomalisa is set in 2005, and released in 2015.
  • The Castle of Cagliostro: A newspaper clipping Lupin is seen reading after his escape from the castle sets the year at 1968; curiously, the original manga was already one year into serialization in real life. The film itself was released in 1979.
  • The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a downplayed example, it takes place in 2020, despite being released in early 2021. However production started in 2020 and it was originally meant to be released in 2020, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Only Yesterday: The present-day portions are set in 1982, while the flashbacks to Taeko's childhood take place in 1966; the film itself was released in 1991.
  • Turning Red is a Period Piece set in Toronto during the spring of 2002, but was released in 2022.

    Film — Live Action 
  • 8 Mile, a fictionalization of Eminem's early music career, was released in 2002 and is set in 1995, the year before he released his first album.
  • The Adjustment Bureau was released in 2011, but takes place from 2006 to 2009.
  • All the President's Men: Based upon a book published in 1974 and adapted to film in 1976, spanning the entire time between the Watergate break-in on June 17, 1972 up to Richard Nixon's second inauguration on January 20, 1973, ending with a montage of headlines related to the Watergate scandal, up to Nixon's resignation from the Oval Office on August 9, 1974.
  • Amélie takes place in 1997, shortly after the death of Princess Diana, but was released in 2001.
  • American Graffiti, released in 1973, is set in 1962.
  • American Psycho: Set in the late 1980s, released in 2000. The original novel was published in 1991, but satirized the '80s so specifically (thanks to it being in very recent memory at the time) that the filmmakers decided to make the movie a Period Piece once it was Saved from Development Hell.
  • Animal House, released in 1978, set in 1962.
  • Apocalypse Now, released in 1979, set in an unstated year at the height of the Vietnam War (likely between 1968 and 1970, as Colby's failed mission to assassinate Kurtz is stated to have occurred in late 1967, and US troops started withdrawing in large numbers after 1970).
  • Back to the Future: The framing scenes are in 1985 when the movie was filmed, while the core story takes place in 1955. Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III, filmed in 1989, continue to set the present day in 1985, as the story begins promptly when the first movie ends.
  • Bad Day at Black Rock set in 1945, released in 1955.
  • The Big Lebowski, released in 1998, was set during the first Gulf War in 1991.
  • The Blair Witch Project, released in 1999, is a Found Footage Film about an amateur film crew's disappearance in 1994.
  • Bob Roberts is a 1992 film set in 1990, with the lead-up to The Gulf War as an important backdrop to the story.
  • Bombshell, released in 2019, covers the 2016 sexual harassment scandal surrounding Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.
  • Boogie Nights is set from 1977 to 1984, during the peak of the disco era, but released in 1997.
  • The Bourne Ultimatum: Released in 2007, but takes place in 2004, opening with Bourne on the run from Russian authorities during The Bourne Supremacy and recontextualizing that film's ending scene during the third act.
  • Boyhood was released in 2014, but set from 2002 to 2013.
  • Boy Erased released 2018 on film, takes place in the period when gay conversion camps were under debate in the mid-2000s
  • The California Kid: Aired in 1974, set in 1958.
  • Despite having been filmed and released in 1942, Casablanca is set in 1941, shortly before Pearl Harbor. This is because the plot doesn't work without the U.S. still being neutral in World War II.
  • Cast Away was released in 2000, and takes place between 1995 and 1999.
  • Clue is set in 1954, released in 1985. The plot is set against a backdrop of McCarthyism but doesn't use any specific events. (Except the TV broadcast of the McCarthy inquiry, which is used more as an Establishing Shot.)
  • The College Admissions Scandal was released in 2019, several months after the story first broke and the crimes started taking place in 2011.
  • Cool Runnings: Released in 1993, set during the 1988 Winter Olympics.
  • Damage: John was convicted of manslaughter in February of 2002 and was released four-and-a-half years later, placing the film in mid-2006. The film was released in late 2009 in the UK and early 2010 in the US.
  • Dark Shadows was released in 2012 but set in The '70s. The series it was adapted from ran from 1966 to 1971.
  • Dazed and Confused: Set in 1976, released in 1993.
  • Dead Poets Society: Released in 1989, set in 1959.
  • Definitely, Maybe: Released in 2008, set during Clinton's first presidential run in 1992.
  • The Disaster Artist: Released in 2017, covers Greg Sestero's friendship with Tommy Wiseau from 1998 to 2003, centering particularly on the making of The Room (2003) during the latter part of that period.
  • Donnie Darko, released in 2002, set in 1988.
  • The 2011 Tom Hanks film Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is set during and shortly after 9/11.
  • Elvis: Released in 2022, it has its framing device set in 1997 as the dying Colonel Tom Parker recounts working with Elvis Presley from the 1950s up to Elvis's death in 1977.
  • Final Destination 5: The ending reveals it's this trope, released in 2011 but actually set right before the first movie, thus setting the events around 1999-2000, although sharp-eyed viewers will catch on that the personal electronics are a bit dated before the ending.
  • Flight of the Navigator starts in 1978 then via Time Travel goes to 1986, when the movie was made.
  • Full Metal Jacket: Set during the Vietnam War in 1968, based on the semi-autobiographical book The Short-Timers published in 1979, and released in 1987.
  • The Jim Carrey remake of Fun with Dick and Jane is set in early 2000, and was released in 2005.
  • Glass Onion was filmed in 2021, released at the end of 2022, but is set in May 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • The Godfather Part III is set in 1979, only 11 years prior to its 1990 production.
  • Gone Girl was released in 2014, but is set in 2012, the same year that the novel it adapts was released.
  • GoodFellas was released in 1990 and is set from 1955 to 1980.
  • Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay was released in 2008, but takes place in 2004. (It was filmed four years after the first movie, but takes place immediately after it ends).
  • Hours takes place in 2005 but was released in 2013.
  • The Hunt for Red October was released in 1990, but takes place in 1984.
  • Hustlers begins at the start of the 2007/08 financial crisis and ends in 2015. The film was released in 2019.
  • Into the Wild was released in 2007 and is set from 1990 to 1992.
  • It (2017) was released in 2017, but takes place in 1989. This is to make it possible for the sequel to take place in the present day.
    • The sequel takes place in 2016 (It strikes every 27 years), though was released in 2019.
  • The Killer That Stalked New York: Released in 1950, set in 1947 (it deals with a fictionalized version of the 1947 New York City smallpox outbreak).
  • Lady Bird was released in 2017, and takes place in 2002.
  • Love & Other Drugs, made in 2010, set in 1996.
  • Martyrs: Released in 2008, set in an unspecified time in the 1990s. The biggest giveaway to the period is that nobody has a mobile phone, but this has no bearing on the plot.
  • A few of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies wound up as this to fit timelines to others that are set the same year of release. Thor (2011) is stated to have occurred the same week as the previous year's Iron Man 2. Iron Man 3 (2013) is set in the previous year, ending on Christmas. 2017 had Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 happening a few months after its 2014 predecessor, and Spider-Man: Homecoming (glaringly wrong title card apart) some months after the previous year's Captain America: Civil War. Black Widow (2021) is supposed to happen between Civil War and 2019's Avengers: Infinity War. And in the case of a Period Piece, Captain Marvel (2019) is set in 1995.
  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a 2018 film set in 1993. This is because it's about a teenage girl being forced into gay conversion therapy, which started to become widely scorned a few years after the film's setting.
  • No Country for Old Men: Set in the 1980s, released in 2007.
  • Nomadland is set from 2011 to 2013, during the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008, but was released in 2020.
  • Orphan: First Kill: The movie is set in 2007 despite being released in 2022. Justified due to its prequel status, with the first one also taking place in then-present 2007 albeit at a much later date.note 
  • Primary Colors set during Bill Clinton's election campaign in 1992, released in 1998 which is ironically the year his scandals broke into public view.
  • Red Rocket: Released in 2021, filmed in 2020, and set in 2016 if the Trump and Clinton clips from the presidential election are any clue.
  • Rocky:
    • Rocky was filmed and released in 1976, but the film begins in November 1975 and ends on New Year’s Day.
    • Rocky II, released in 1979, takes place from New Year’s Day to Thanksgiving 1976, due to picking up directly after Rocky.
    • Creed III, released in 2023, takes place in 2020, which also retroactively moves the events of Creed (2015) and Creed II (2018) back a few years from when they were released.
  • Shampoo was released in 1975, but set on and around Election Day in 1968. Part of this is because co-writers Warren Beatty and Robert Towne were unable to get financing at first.
  • Shiri was released in 1999, while its plot spans 1992-1998.
  • Sick was released in January 2023, but set in April 2020, as stay-at-home orders were issued for the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • Silver Linings Playbook was released in 2012, but set in 2008. A subplot concerns the Philadelphia Eagles season that year, as Pat Sr. is a big Eagles fan and frequently bets at their games, with a climactic point being at the playoffs between the Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys, a Foregone Conclusion to anyone with a cursory knowledge of football.
  • Skinamarink was released in 2022 but is set in 1995, to justify the Analog Horror aesthetic.
  • The Social Network: Set in 2003, released in 2010.
  • Space Jam, released in 1996, set during 1993-94, and ending during Michael Jordan's return to the Bulls in 1995.
  • Spotlight, released in 2015, covers the Boston Globe investigation into the Catholic Church's history of sexual abuse. While the Distant Prologue is set in 1976, the main events of the film occur during 2001-2002.
  • The Squid and the Whale was released in 2005, but set in 1986.
  • Stand Clear of the Closing Doors was released in 2013 and takes place during the lead-up to Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.
  • Submarine was released in 2010, and takes place in the 80s, though it doesn't have much of the era other than a lack of modern technology.
  • Super 8, released in 2011, is set in 1979, mostly because that was the beginning of the Steven Spielberg era.
  • Super Dark Times: Set in The '90s, released in 2017.
  • Thank You for Smoking: While the film was released in 2005, it is set in the late 1990s, before the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (1998) which closes the film. The novel on which it was based was released in 1994.
  • Three Kings was released in 1999 and set in the aftermath of the 1991 Iraq War.
  • Uncut Gems was released in 2019, but set in 2010-12.
  • The segment "10/31/98" from the 2012 anthology film VHS is an example. The costumes worn by the young men on their way to a Halloween party are all pop-culture and news references from 1998.
  • Watchmen, set in an alternate 1985, but released in 2009.
  • The Wedding Singer, made in 1998, was set in 1985.
  • Wings: Released in 1927, takes place in 1917-18. Despite this, the female characters are wearing the fashions of the 1920s, not the 1910s.
  • The Wolf of Wall Street: Released in 2013, set in the 1990s.
  • Zero Dark Thirty: Released in 2012, set during the build-up to the Osama bin-Laden's death in 2011.

  • Twenty Minutes Into The Past: Released in 1989, the modern day settings outside of the framing story are set in 1987.
  • Despite being set in the eponymous date and immediately after, later works in the 1632 series have started to use this since the American town of Grantville was transported to that time from the year 2000 - so writers must be careful to give their computers only the capabilities and programs they would have had then, for instance.
  • American Psycho, published in 1991, is set in the late '80s.
  • Are You Seeing Me? was published in 2014 and is set in 2010.
  • Axiom's End, released in 2020, is set in 2007.
  • The novel Blue Valentine was published in 2018 but the events take place in 2009.
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's was published in 1958 and is set in 1943-1944.
  • The Casual Vacancy was written in 2012 but never gives a precise date, though certain pop culture references put it late in the aughts.
  • Capital is set in the 2008 financial crash but was published in 2012.
  • The Case Files of Ibrahim Helsing, while being first published in 2021, take place in the year 2019.
  • Cormoran Strike Novels: 2013's The Cuckoo's Calling's use of Chekhov's News specifically places it during certain landmark events of the 2010 UK general election.
  • Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, from the Dear America series, was published in 2002 and takes place in 1968. Also unusual for the series, in that the most recent year before that is 1941 and the vast majority of the books take place in the 19th century.
  • Don DeLillo's Falling Man was published in 2007 and is set in New York immediately after the September 11 attacks of 2001.
  • Dekada '70, originally written around 1982 and set in, well, The '70s in the Philippines. The Film of the Book came out in 2002 and spans a time period roughly from 1969–1983.
  • Fate/Zero was originally written in 2007, while the main plot, a prequel to Fate/stay night set during the previous Holy Grail War 10 years prior, takes place in the mid-1990s.
  • Ghost of Spirit Bear was released in 2008, but takes place just as Cole and Peter get back to Minneapolis from the island in Touching Spirit Bear, setting the book around 2003.
  • The Girls was published in 2016 but seems to be set sometime in the early years of the 21st century. Evie is described as middle-aged rather than old (she was 14 in her 1969 flashbacks, so 61 in 2016, 45 at the turn of the century), and an off-hand reference to a San Francisco woman getting killed by pit bulls is an apparent allusion to the 2001 death of Diane Whipple.
  • Harry Potter is set between 1991-1998 or so while the books were released 1997-2007 and the films 2001-2011. Both the books and movies mostly avoid exact years, which, combined with the general lack of modern technology in the Wizarding world, means they could easily be set anywhere from around the 80s to the 2000s, although the films definitely look like they are set in the aughts (despite officially taking place in the nineties as well).
  • The Missus: The first book in the series, The Mister, was published and presumably set in 2019. The Missus was published four years later in 2023, but as it begins exactly where The Mister ended (which is set over a few months), this book is set a few years earlier.
  • Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published in 1920, but takes place during World War I. It is made clear by the fact that Hercule Poirot is himself a Belgian war refugee. It is also mentioned in the second chapter that "the 16th of July fell on a Monday." Using this clue, it can be inferred that the story itself takes place in 1917.
  • Modern Villainess was published in 2020, but the main plot is set in the mid-2000s. Some Alternate History is involved, but solely used to justify the continued existence of the Kazoku class.note 
  • No Country for Old Men, published 2005, set in 1980.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower was published in 1999 and takes place in the 1991-92 school year.
  • The first two books of The Platinum Key series were published in 2015 but set around 2007.
  • Sisterland was published in 2013, with most non-flashback chapters set in 2009.
  • Ulysses, the famous novel by James Joyce was published between 1918 and 1920, yet is set on the perfectly ordinary day of June 16, 1904.
  • The Usual Rules, published in 2003, takes place in the months after the 9/11 attacks. The main character's mother worked in the Twin Towers and died in the attacks. Really, when it was written, it was more like 5 minutes into the past.
  • Jules Verne loves this trope, despite everybody assuming his books are meant to be futuristic:
  • The majority of Rosemary Wells' works would sometimes take place at a certain decade such as the 1950s, 1970s, or between the 1980s and 1990s.
    • While the Max and Ruby series is still ongoing since 1979, the setting would sometimes be a mix between the 1940s and late 70s since the characters still use old fashioned radio to listen to music and a radio show. But the characters are never seen owning any televsions. Which is odd since in one of the later books and a couple episodes of the animated series would sometimes show a character owning a handheld video game called the Game Bunny.
    • In the Yoko & Friends, Yoko series and the animated version of Timothy Goes to School appears to be set during the late 90s but the characters are dressed in clothes that are mostly common during the 70s and 60s while they still own 50s and 60s style cars.
  • Little Fires Everywhere, published in 2017, set in 1997-98, with copious references to pop culture at the time, including the Lewinsky scandal, which in this book was overshadowed by a local child custody battle.
  • My Year of Rest and Relaxation: Published in 2018, set between 2000 and 2001.
  • Rogue was published in 2013 but set in 2006, when Congress banned the over-the-counter sale of pseudoephedrine.
  • Harmony (2016) is set mostly in 2012, with flashbacks from the late 2000s and early 2010s.
  • Miracle Creek was published in 2019 and revolves around an explosion in the summer of 2008 and the trial a year later.
  • Shtum, published in 2017, set in the spring and summer of 2011.
  • Love Anthony, published in 2012, set in 2010 and early 2011.
  • There's More Than One Way Home, published in 2017, set in mid-2004.
  • I Think I Love You was published in 2011 and set half in 1974, half in 1998.
  • Language Arts, published in 2015, set in the school year of 2012-2013.
  • If I Fall, If I Die was published in 2015 but seems to be set in The '90s, judging by the lack of internet and the mention of shoulder pads in a flashback to Will's early childhood.
  • The Woman in White is set ten years before its release, having been serialized from 1859-60 and taking place in 1849-50.
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was published in 1995 and is set mostly around 1985-1986.
  • House of Leaves was released in 2000 but is set from 1990-1998.
  • Blue Iguana was published in 2013 and set in 2008, when seven iguanas were killed in an attack.
  • Island's End was published in 2011 and set in 2004, at the time of the tsunami that devastated the Andaman Islands.
  • The Stim books were published in 2013 and 2014 but set in 2010 and 2011, on time for two earthquakes to strike.
  • Post-High School Reality Quest was published in 2017 and is set in 2009 and 2010, during Buffy's freshman year of college.
  • Sanctuary was published in 2022 and is set in the winter and spring of what is revealed late in the book to be 2018.
  • The Black Fox of Beckham was published in 2019 and is set a year or two before fox hunting was banned in England in 2005.
  • The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester, published in 2022, has the protagonists investigating a thirty-year-old murder. That murder occurred in the school year of 1988 and 1989, so the book must take place in 2018 and 2019.
  • Cemetery Bird was published in 2011 and is set between 1983 and 2004.
  • Under Suspicion (Series): The books were published between 2014 and 2020, but the series begins slightly earlier in 2013. The books also take place over a shorter time period of three years (give or take a few months), so the series as a whole qualifies, being published from the early 2010s to the early 2020s, but being set from 2013 to 2015.
    • I've Got You Under My Skin was published in 2014, though it's retroactively established in the sequel, The Cinderella Murder, that it takes place a year earlier in 2013. In The Cinderella Murder it's stated that it's been nearly a year since the episode covering the Graduation Gala murder aired and it's also established that the Cinderella Murder occurred twenty years ago in 1994, firmly placing the second novel in 2014.
    • All Dressed in White was published in 2015, though based on the timeline it's set a year earlier in 2014, a few months after The Cinderella Murder; it's mentioned in both this novel and the preceding one that it's been nearly a year since Under Suspicion aired its first episode and just over five years since Laurie's husband was killed; the latter occurred around the same time Amanda – the missing bride central to All Dressed in White - disappeared.
    • The Sleeping Beauty Killer was published in 2016 and is set in 2014, a month after the epilogue of All Dressed in White (two months after the main events of the novel).
    • Every Breath You Take was published in 2017 and is set two years earlier in 2015, about two months after the events of The Sleeping Beauty Killer (which was set in late 2014).
    • You Don't Own Me was published in 2018 and is set three years earlier in 2015.
  • The Change Room: The book is set in 2011, to judge by the fact the Arab Spring's prominent on the news. It was published in 2017.
  • Sorry, Bro: The book came out in January 2023, but is set c. June 2015.
  • Eric, or Little by Little was published in 1858 but is set in the late 1840s, judging by the date on Russell's tombstone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Better Call Saul is set primarily between 2002 and 2004, and aired between 2015 and 2022. Certain segments are set immediately before and during the events of Breaking Bad (2008–2010), while its "present day" segments are set in late 2010.
  • The five years in which Breaking Bad was airing all take place exactly two years in-universe (2008-2010 in-show for 2008-2013 in reality), making the later seasons this trope.
  • Doctor Who: While the 1968-1989 run of the show was adamant on not setting historical stories too soon to their airdates (for example, 1989's "The Curse of Fenric" had its setting moved from The '70s to World War II), several ones in both the Classic and Revival Series are set anywhere from 20 or so years ago to just six:
  • Seasons one and three of Fargo are set in, respectively, 2006 and 2010, but first aired in 2014 and 2017. Seasons two and four, on the other hand, are straight period pieces, being set in 1979 and 1950.
  • Freaks and Geeks made in 1999-2000 was set in 1980.
  • Fresh Off the Boat, being loosely based on the childhood of chef Eddie Huang (born 1982), takes place in the 1990s.
  • Generation Kill came out in 2008 and is set at the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003.
  • Girlboss aired in 2017 and is set in 2006, the year the Nasty Gal fashion company was founded (the series is a heavily fictionalized retelling of how this happened).
  • The Goldbergs made its debut in 2013, and is set in the 1980s.
  • Happy Days. Set in the 1950s-1960s, ran from 1974 to 1984.
  • How I Met Your Mother is an interesting example, as the main story takes place in the present, but is told from the future's perspective as if it were taking place 20-something years in the past.
  • The Kids Are Alright (2018) was released in 2018 and is set in the 1970s.
  • The 2006 Life on Mars and its 2008 American counterpart, which both take place in 1973.
  • Lost started out as Present Day (namely 2004), but was definitely this by at least the second season. Then it got more complicated.
  • M*A*S*H takes place during the Korean War, but it would have been twenty minutes in the past when it aired in the '70s and '80s. Now, it's more like forty minutes.
  • In season 2 of Mr. Robot this is almost an Exaggerated Trope, as it was released in 2016 and explicitly takes place around early summer 2015 (computers, newspapers, and the like often show the date).
  • Mrs. America, the 2020 miniseries starring Cate Blanchett, is set in the early 1970s.
  • Our Friends in the North aired in 1996 and took place in 1964, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1974, 1979, 1984, 1987 and 1995.
  • Paper Girls: The girls travel to 2019, while the series was released just a little while later in 2022.
  • Sam and Al on Quantum Leap were natives of 20 Minutes into the Future, but Sam always leaped into the recent past.
  • Powerpuff: A sizable chunk of the pilot was set from 1996 to 2013, before the remainder of it resumed in the present day of 2021.
  • Saturday Night Live:
  • Storm of the Century: While the miniseries was released in 1999, it's set in the late 1980s.
  • Stranger Things famously uses this trope to lean heavily on 1980s nostalgia and pop culture. Aimed in large part at people who would have been the same age as the early-teen protagonists at the time, the show was first released in 2016, with the first four seasons spanning the time period Fall 1983-Spring 1986.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has this for part of the pilot, since it starts in 1999 before time jumping them to 2007 (the year the show premiered). It allows for some real world events to surprise them, like 9/11.
  • That '70s Show: Aired from 1998 to 2006 and is set in the 1970s, specifically spanning 1976-1979 (ending at midnight on January 1, 1980).
  • That '80s Show aired in 2002 and is set in the 1980s.
  • That '90s Show: Premiered in 2023 and is set in 1995.
  • Treme Ran from 2010-2013, Set in Recently post-Hurricane Katrina 2005 era New Orleans.
  • True Detective season one aired in 2014 and covers three concurrent storylines set in 1995, 2002, and 2012. Season three, released in 2019, jumps back and forth between 1980, 1993, and 2015.
  • In a Downplayed example, Twin Peaks originally ran from 1990-1991 but was explicitly set in 1989.
    • Similarly, the revival series (Twin Peaks: The Return) was released in 2017, but since it was a plot point that the series took place exactly twenty-five years after the original run, it was presumably set circa 2014.
  • We Are Who We Are: The series was set in 2016, and released fall 2020.
  • The beginning of The X-Files is set in early 1992 though the show started in 1993.

  • The Human League: According to the spoken-word intro on the Fast Product version, "Circus of Death" takes place in 1962; the song itself was first released in 1978 and was re-recorded for Reproduction a year later.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • When They Cry:
    • Higurashi: When They Cry was first released in the early 2000s, but takes place in 1983. It's unlikely the series would work if the characters had modern day conveniences such as internet access or easily accessible cellphones. In fact, at the start of the second season of the Animated Adaptation, we see a now adult Rena in 2006. She is now quite melancholy due to being the Sole Survivor of her entire town after an incident in 1983.
    • Likewise, Umineko, released starting in 2007, is largely split between a series of murders in October 1986 and its aftermath in 1998. Both can be pretty anachronistic when it suits them, mostly when the author wants to make some reference to some mid-2000s moe trope or another.
  • Witch on the Holy Night was released in April 2012 and takes place in December 1988.
  • Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair was released in August 2016, and takes place on the night before Halloween in 2010.
    • The prequel, Genba No Kizuna started production after Shinrai and takes place on September 12, 2010.
  • Katawa Shoujo is a 2012 visual novel set in 2008. This is a result of it being Frozen in Time: the game's development began around 2008.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum, released in 2009 and mostly looking like it, is canonically set in 2001, as it is set eight years after Batman: Arkham Origins, which in turn is set in 93 if the Easter Egg detailing the re-opening of the titular Asylum is anything to go by.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Dave the Barbarian: While the show is set in a Theme Park Version of the Middle Ages, Ned Frischman, a character that comes across a time traveling device thanks to a heap of Deus ex Machina, is from the year 1994 - ten years before when the show started airing.
  • Once every few seasons, The Simpsons does an episode of this.
    • "The Way We Was" (1991), from the turn to The '70s, which featured Homer as a teenager, trying to date Marge. It featured bell-bottom pants and a Volkswagen Mini Bus.
    • "I Married Marge" (also 1991) is set in 1980, showing Homer and Marge seeing The Empire Strikes Back in theaters and Homer inadvertently giving away the film's (then-)big plot twist as they're leaving.
    • "Lisa's First Word" (1992), which features Homer and Marge as a young couple with baby Bart, is set in 1983-84: Marge has a throw-away line about the final episode of M.A.S.H., and later in the episode there are numerous references to the 1984 Olympics.
    • "That 90s Show" (2008) is set in The '90s and was a 30-minute Affectionate Parody of that decade. It had Homer and Marge in college, with Homer in a generic Garage Band and Marge with a '90s Jennifer Aniston haircut.
    • Of course, being a Long Runner operating on Comic-Book Time, The Simpsons features Negative Continuity when it comes to deciding just which era is currently Twenty Minutes In The Past. If one considers a suitable timespan for this trope to be the last two or three decades, say, then a lot of that period by now falls within the period the show has actually been running in Real Life (the latter is lampshaded in "Lisa's Sax" when Homer says that in 1990, "Tracey Ullman was entertaining America with songs, sketches, and crudely drawn filler material").
    • The third act of "The Wettest Stories Ever Told" is a retelling of The Poseidon Adventure set in the not-so-distant past.
    Homer: It was a dark time for mankind, a time when madness and ignorance ruled... the 1970s.
  • Family Guy. In "Meet the Quagmires", Peter and Brian travel back in time so Peter can relive life as an 18-year old.
    • American Dad!'s first Christmas Episode was similar, where Stan travels back in time to the 70s to stop Jane Fonda from (somehow) ruining Christmas. It ends with Stan traveling back in time again, this time to the '80s, where he has to undo all the damage caused by his first trip by shooting Ronald Reagan.
  • Recess: While made in, and set during the 90s, when the 2000s rolled around, the show stuck around in the 90s.
  • Poked fun at in an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, wherein the cast of The Jetsons travel through time to sue the present day - which, at the time Harvey Birdman aired, was now set further forward in time and more futuristic than The Jetsons.
    George Jetson: We're from the future.
    Elroy Jetson: Yeah, the 21st century!
    George Jetson: The magnificent far-off year of 2002!
    Birdman: (glances at desk calendar, dated 2004, the back to George while narrowing his eyes) Really.
    George Jetson: Yes, talking ape-man! We are from a society much advanced over your own! A society driven by sprockets! A technological marvel that gives us items such as... this! (pulls out a cell phone as big as his torso; cue Peanut answering a call on his own, much smaller cell phone)