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We Will All Be History Buffs in the Future

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The future is a wonderful place, where many things are far improved from their state in our present time: Travel, food production...memory retention.

In the future, people seem to know all the details of their history and are able to spout them off to the local Fish out of Temporal Water without a moment's hesitation, despite the fact that in this day and age, many a college-educated adult couldn't tell you who won the Battle of Trafalgarnote  or who Simon Bolivarnote  was without at least stopping to think about them.


This may be justified in Crystal Spires and Togas cases, where the education system is demonstrated to be miles and miles ahead of what it is currently, or in situations where people of the future possess specialised technology that improves rote learning and memory. Regardless of the justification, this can cause severe Fridge Logic if the future society in question also demonstrates that it screws up details about our current society. One questions whether the history buffs of the future can be believed...



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Many characters in Ghost in the Shell spout off about all sorts of historical occurrences and books. Justified by the fact that cyberbrains allow people direct connection to the Internet, and provide dramatically enhanced memory.
  • For a post-apocalyptic manga set centuries in the future, Battle Angel Alita makes some oddly specific references to historical events and people, up to and including Alan Parsons.

    Comic Books 
  • Averted with Booster Gold of The DCU. He's an ex-jock museum janitor from the future who used stolen super-gadgets to travel into the present and become a superhero. He uses a robot helper with the voice of Fry from Futurama to anticipate crimes, but he doesn't actually know much about the history. This gets him in trouble a lot... This may be a Series Continuity Error as in his original origin story he actually studied history in college, specializing in "the Age of Superheroes". Although, it never said he passed...

    Comic Strips 
  • Averted by Monty, when Professor Xemit, a time-traveller from the year 2525 stranded in the present, when asked who will win the 2008 US presidential election tell Monty that he has no idea, given the early 21st century is (to him) an extremely long time ago.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In David Weber's Apocalypse Troll, the time-traveling fighter jock just happens to be a history buff, able to spout encyclopedic explanations of events leading up to her time of origin. This extends to technical explanations of future machinery that had already become antiquated by her time.
  • In There Will Be Dragons, the section of the world the protagonists live in is kept from sliding into total barbarism after the tech supporting the decadence got turned off. Justified in that the people who know the most are all re-enactors who've been living the life (or an idealized version of it, at least).
  • Everyone who's anyone in Ready Player One is an expert on the 1980s, even though the story takes place in 2044. Justified in that the Easter Egg hunt that forms the plot of the novel was organized by a man who grew up in The '80s and was a big fan of the pop culture from his youth. If you don't have encyclopedic knowledge of that time period, you don't have a shot.
  • Paula Danziger's This Place Has No Atmosphere is set in the year 2057. When it's time to put on a School Play, the young students are all thoroughly familiar with Our Town, which to them would be nearly 120 years old. The protagonist also quotes The Rocky Horror Picture Show, from 1975, as if it were current.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Various Star Trek series are guilty, justified in that most of the characters spouting off these historical facts are just that damn smart.
    • Star Trek: Voyager, oddly, is the most convincing of the various series: rather than The Spock, who knows Earth history better than all the human crewmen, it has Tom Paris, who is interested in 20th-century history and culture. They portray it realistically - he accidentally reveals himself to a 20th-century human by referring to the Soviet Union in the present tense in 1996 (because he was only five years out...). Also, he's more interested in the 1950s than (as you might expect) the 1990s, the decade the show aired.
    • In the episode "The Royale" the away team finds an old astronaut's spacesuit that has the United States flag on it with 52 stars. It is Riker who instantly tells the years when that number of stars was in use, even though Data was also along. Possibly justified by Riker being born and raised in the United States, meaning he probably learned a lot of US history in school.
    • In order to be a Starfleet cadet you already have to be the best and brightest the Federation has to offer. Study of various historical periods seems to be something of a hobby amongst Starfleet officers. Picard and Janeway both loved Earth history and were trained terrestrial and xenoarchaeologists.
    • Each character seems to know a lot about the history and customs of their race/country of origin. Sisko knew a lot about Africa, Picard was well-versed in French history, Chakotay was from a Native American tribe that were keeping many of their traditions and rituals going, etc.
    • Given how easy it is to accidentally time travel in Star Trek, Starfleet Academy goes so far as to make Temporal Mechanics a standard class. One would assume some basic historical knowledge about historical flashpoints is included.
    • Notably, Wide-Eyed Idealist Dr. Bashir of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine wasn't a history buff, finding most of it (the twenty-first century especially) "too depressing". This conveniently allowed Sisko to play Mr. Exposition when they time traveled to 2024.
  • Phil of the Future does this a lot.
  • Red Dwarf, in particular series 1 and 2, makes many humorous references to 20th-century culture that seem dated 2 decades on, never mind three million years. Rimmer and Lister are from the 22nd century but even then it still makes little sense.
  • In Babylon 5, Captain John Sheridan is specifically mentioned to be "a bit of a history buff", although his areas of interest primarily seem to be The American Civil War and World War II. It's somewhat justified for a military commander to be knowledgeable about military history.
    • Captain Sheridan is stated to be a direct male-line descendant of Civil War General Philip Sheridan. Most people would take an interest in a famous ancestor's life and times.
  • The Orville mirrors its source material, Star Trek, in this. The human characters are all very knowledgeable of 20th and 21st Century pop culture to the extent that many of their conversations amount to inside jokes that the alien crew members are understandably befuddled by since the references are not even to Earth culture in their present time.
  • Andromeda takes place around the year 5167, and after three centuries of war and barbarism in which most of intergalactic civilization has regressed to savagery. They still seem to be familiar with every aspect of our culture, from Pac-Man to garage sales to Richard Wagner. Bear in mind, these things would be as old to them as the Trojan War is to us.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Lampshaded in a BattleTech publication of in-universe conspiracies; one tract is about how crazy it is that so many things reference the 20th Century, which was over 1000 years ago…and there are only a few references to say, the 29th Century, only 200 years before.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama is notorious for this, in combination with constant Future Imperfect faux pas. It usually gets a pass for being a comedy.
  • Subverted in, of all places, Beast Wars; the Predacons are all history buffs, but due to some Big Brother cover-up Hand Wave, the Maximals aren't, instead treating their history as (roughly) Arthurian lore. This proves useful in an earlier episode, when the spark of Starscream drops by for a visit, and attempts to bullslag his way into the Predacons' good graces with a false story of his role in The Transformers: The Movie, but falls apart into Fridge Logic when Ravage shows up, reminding us that the Transformer race is Really 700 Years Old, and thus are able to have several living witnesses of events that happened millions of years ago to verify the facts for them.
  • Time Squad: In-universe, time itself has become so unstable, that the people of the far future have to worry about being suddenly without important technology to survive life on Earth. So modern society has come to depend on the Time Squad, a time-traveling government agency and police force that recruits primarily history buffs and educates them on how to enforce the past to protect the future.