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Series / Future Man

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It's time to save the future, man.

“Okay so it’s Last Starfighter meets Quantum Leap now?”
Josh Futturman

Future Man is a comedy web series produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg for Hulu released on November 14, 2017 [1]. The show follows loser janitor Josh Futturman (Josh Hutcherson) as he sleepwalks through his life, working a dead-end job at medical research company Kronish Laboratories for crusading scientist Elias Kronish (Keith David), his only escape being the video game ‘’The Biotic Wars’’.

Everything changes the instant Josh finally beats the game and two people exactly resembling its characters appear in his room, Tiger (Eliza Coupe) and Wolf (Derek Wilson), telling him the game is a real depiction of the future. A future he has been chosen to help them stop from happening.

Future Man is not only a nostalgic call-back to various pop-culture phenomena of the 1980s and 1990s, but also a rather serious deconstruction of several pieces of time travel lore. And it features a fair amount of over-the-top violence and gore for good measure.

Tropes That Will Appear (Depending on the state of the timeline):

  • And You Thought It Was a Game: Josh is chosen as the savior of humanity after he beats an unbeatable video game. He even points out that this is the exact same plot as The Last Starfighter, thus having some difficulty believing Wolf and Tiger.
  • Animal Theme Naming: As it turns out, Tiger and Wolf aren’t just loner badasses. All of the members of the resistance are named after animals. With 40 some-odd people on their team alone, the names get a little silly.
    • That said, certain animal-themed members are specialized in areas. Owl, The Smart Guy, seemed to have been the team leader; Otter and Porpoise were the water team, with Cheetah helping too. Though all Cheetah did was splash around.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The Time Travel Device runs on bio-fuel refined from life-forms discovered from deep, deep underwater, also known as Cameronium. Because James Cameron was the one who discovered it.
  • Arc Words: "You can't keep doing the same thing and expecting different results."
  • Bittersweet Ending: The protagonists succeed in stopping Kronish's cure from going public, but Josh takes the fall for blowing up the labs and is now imprisoned in an asylum. However, he finds peace in the fact that he knows that he saved the world as well as the fact that his parents are now doing well in this timeline.
  • Body Horror: When making time jumps with unrefined Cameronium, the jumps get unstable with multiple people, meaning individual parts of you get mixed and matched. Could be your scars, your toes, your dicks.
  • Bottle Episode: "Pandora's Mailbox" which takes place almost entirely in the James Cameron Compound, or the J.C.C.
  • Butt-Monkey: Elias and Stu trade places with this role depending on which Alternate!2017 the team is in.
    • Josh is pretty much always in this role, considering how upside down his life gets and how much crap the others give him.
  • Calling Your Attacks: You would think this was just some design aspect of the game, but no, Tiger and Wolf really do call out all their attacks, like something out of Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: When Tiger and Wolf first jump into 2017 and meet the Savior of Mankind... Josh is masturbating in his room alone and finishes all over Wolf’s leg.
    "Goddammit, it’s all over me!"
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Wolf's chest box containing the explosives from killed Biotics is showcased many times, and the danger of just carrying it around, though Wolf assures Josh it's strictly designed to ensure they do not go off inside the case. In the final attack on the Kronitorium, Wolf unleashes *all* of the stockpiled explosives while he and Tiger hide behind a heavy steel door.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Tiger and Wolf "re-charging", as they see no reason this should be a private activity.
  • Cyanide Pill: The Biotics have small explosives implanted in their skulls which they detonate when the Resistance is close to capturing them alive. However Wolf has become quite good at disabling them before it happens.
  • Cyber Punk: Tiger and Wolf seem to come from a future that is a classic flaming car, steaming tunnel variety of apocalypse, yet still has some surplus of energy weapons and electronic devices.
  • Evil Me Scares Me: JFUTZ is this to Josh (or Joosh).
  • Faceless Goons: Normally when we see the Biotics, they are wearing battle gear, with helmets obscuring their faces. In the game, they have hideous blank faces underneath, heightening the dehumanizing aspects. It's later revealed that those are masks as well and that they all look like regular humans.
  • Free-Love Future: In the future, sex is apparently so casual that it's just for "re-charging" before you go into battle. While Wolf and Tiger both say their sterile, there is a plot point that they aren't immune to STDs. However Tiger says that one of their comrades died from AIDS, perhaps due to all the casual sex. Prior to the last mission, there's an orgy.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Bad!2017 has an opposite Josh (or rather, Joosh) and he is ‘’not’’ a pleasant person, though he is outwardly a highly successful e-sports celebrity.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Very early on, Josh touches the box on Wolf’s chest, and he testily growls, “Don’t touch [that]!” It’s later revealed to house many tiny explosives recovered from killed Biotics.
    • When Wolf is left to hang out with some men who turn out to be dealers in what was thought to be a simple chemistry lab, they introduce him to methamphetamines and the economic concept of the drug trade. Wolf says “nothing has ever made more sense to me in my life.” When stuck in the late-80s/early-90s, he becomes addicted to cocaine.
    • Josh and Jeri, his Love Interest, are reviewing employee personnel files at Kronish labs. Josh knows that Biotics are immune to disease and is reviewing all files for people who have never been sick/have no allergies. He grabs Jeri's file and sees she has never been sick and has no allergies and then moves on to the next one. Guess who turns out to be a Biotic? Hint: Jeri.
    • When Tiger becomes a nanny for baby Kronish, she leaves him a knife, instructing his mother to give it to him on his 5th birthday. In the Bad!2017, Elias is seen using the knife to peel an apple. It seems like he will use it to attack Josh with, but subverted when he does not and plays no role in the plot.
  • Future Slang: Wolf and Tiger have strange euphemisms for everything, like calling a ‘mouth’ a ‘rathole’ (“because where else do you put rats?”) as well as idiomatic expressions like ‘crap-pot!’ instead of ‘jackpot!’
  • Gag Penis: Apparently, Wolf. And later, Josh, thanks to TTD body-splicing.
  • Going Cold Turkey: After getting addicted to cocaine from an extended stay in the late-80s/early-90s, Wolf is Nailed To The Wagon and forced to detox by his teammates. The withdrawal actually leads to a Mushroom Samba sequence. Wolf later lampshades how easy it is to kick the habit.
    ”The downside to cocaine addiction is the single day of withdrawal you lose to giving it up. The upside is it’s fucking awesome.”
  • Heroic Suicide: Dr. Kronish willingly kills himself to prevent his invention being used for evil.
  • Hidden Depths: Wolf, the gruff, grunting, boiling with testosterone war machine- is a born master chef.
    • Tiger has a natural talent for being a motherly figure too.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Subverted. Tiger and Wolf expect that playing and beating The Biotic Wars has made Josh into the ultimate warrior, but in fact he has no real-world combat skills whatsoever.
  • Inspector Javert: Officer/Detective Skarsgaard. No matter where we find him in the various timelines, he’s a policeman of some sort, and he’s still trying to avenge the death of his partner, Santiago. A slight subversion in Skarsgaard's case in that Wolf and Tiger really are responsible for all the mayhem he's been tracking all these years (including the death of his partner), they just deem it all acceptable collateral damage in the Biotic Wars.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the Bad!2017, Josh's father complains of not having access to cable, "even though nobody wants that anymore!" poking fun at how the production is a web series and not broadcast.
  • Mad Scientist: Subverted with Elias Kronish. While the Resistance views him as such, as seen with his in universe video game appearance in "Biotic Wars" as Dr. Death, he is always presented as a morally conscious person who just wants to do good and help. Even in the Bad!Future, where Josh initially thinks Kronish has become evil, Kronish willingly kills himself to prevent the Biotic Wars future from occurring.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: We see both Josh and Joosh entirely nude when they meet. Josh is revealed as very well-endowed, since he switched genitals with Wold during the TTD splice.
  • Mercy Kill: Comically done when Wolf shuts down James Cameron's AI at her request, because she can't stand to serve him.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Elias Kronish, the man who will create the SuperCure that sees the rise of the Biotics and brings about a Eugenics War... is really a polite, genuinely nice guy, who just wants to help people. Too bad his work inevitably screws over the rest of the world. In the Bad!2017, he even created the SuperCure because his lover died from a staph infection.
  • Mundane Object Amazement: Both Wolf and Tiger, being raised in the sewers in an ongoing war against Biotics, seem to be amazed or shocked by things that are no longer available to them. One example being Wolf's instant like for cucumber pickles since he only ate rats and other scavenged foodstuff for entire life.
  • My Greatest Failure: For Tiger, accidentally leading nearly her entire team to their deaths. Averted later on when Dingo and Owl time travel to reveal they were the only survivors of a similar trap. It seems that it is inevitable that most of the Resistance dies somehow. Tiger says this is a relief, since they were doomed to die no matter what.
  • Nintendo Hard: Among gamers, The Biotic Wars is referred to as “impossible to beat” and despite playing it for possibly years, Josh himself was only able to complete the final level when radically altering his approach to the game.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Tiger and Wolf come from a future without movies, so most of Josh's attempts to make references fall on deaf ears. Later averted when Wolf spends time in the period when most of the time-travel films Josh references were released, so he can follow along. (He also actually met a number of the people who starred in them, since he ran a trendy restaurant.)
  • Power Trio:
  • Punny Name: Futturman, Future Man. Get it?
    • Technically also Officer/Detective Skarsgaard. After his encounter with Tiger in 1969 he’s a “Scars Guard.” Then again in the 1990s.
  • Reality Ensues: Despite its comedic nature, the show points out the very real problems or fallout that would occur in such a bizarre scenario.
    • Tiger can operate complex items like the TTD, but has no concept of what a movie is (the video game is repeatedly called a 'combat simulator' and treated as a serious training tool). In Tiger's world, fictional escapism is a luxury no one has the time or resources to dedicate to, although the mental strain this is placing on Resistance members is clearly showing.
    • Wolf and Tiger admit at one point they realize even if they are successful, the world would be completely changed, and if they could return to their time, it wouldn’t be the world they left. People may not even recognize them.
  • Rated M for Manly: Wolf’s frequent stories about the wars are as outlandish as they are brutal.
  • Running Gag:
    • Josh regularly cautions against doing specific things to mess up the timeline, calling it “Time Travel 101.” Eventually this gets a Brick Joke with someone calling another trip-up “Time Travel 102”.
    • Anytime someone vaguely recalls seeing the team decades before causing anarchy, they are hazily remembered as “Latinos.”
  • Sequel Hook: The series ends with Josh lying in his padded cell after saving the world... only for him to be visited by what seems to be more time travelers.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The entire series is all about Josh trying to fix the future in a way that does not involve killing Kronish.
  • Shaped Like Itself: The device capable of time travel is called... the Time Travel Device, or TTD for short.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: Josh manages to beat the final level of "The Biotic Wars" game by unequipping all of his weapons and making a run for it to the end.
  • Shout-Out: Many throughout the entire series. In the first episode alone, Josh compares the plot to The Last Starfighter.
  • Sterility Plague: Thanks to Biotic's usage of nanite mist, the entire human race is incapable of reproduction that resulted in Tiger and Wolf being the youngest members of the resistance. In addition, Tiger freaked out at an infant for the first time. This situation became somewhat moot since The Reveal of Biotics as humans with genetic therapy.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Apparently most members of the Resistance, except those trained to swim (Otter, Porpoise, sort of Cheetah). Josh also is exceptionally skilled in this area, though in his case it is because he had to dive into freezing cold water to retrieve the Cameronium needed for time travel. He does drown but Tiger and Wold are able to resuscitate him.
  • Superior Species: Biotics are humans who are injected with a super-vaccine that makes them physically perfect in every way, being immune to all diseases and poison as well as being naturally good-looking for humans.
  • Surprise Incest: Josh almost has sex with his own mother, having mistook her for someone else. He finds this out just in time before they get that far.
  • Take That!: Bill Cosby and James Cameron both get it. Josh is shocked to learn in 1969 that Cosby had joked about drugging women even back then. When his impression of Cosby makes one black student say he almost stopped liking him, Josh says "Get used to it". Cameron is portrayed as completely egotistical, having programmed his house AI to sing his praises in an over the top manner.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: All the various problems, conflicts and logistics that arise from time travel are openly discussed, in addition to causing issues for the team.
    • Josh states specific actions that need to be avoided in the past, such as dressing anachronistically and drawing attention, or leaving artifacts from the future behindnote .
    • Neither Tiger nor Wolf take into consideration things like “stable time loops”, “alternate timelines” or other problems or hiccups that might occur with the simple “kill the bad guy, save the future” idea, much to Josh’s annoyance.
    • The team regularly has to plan their jumps around where buildings will or won’t be.
    • When the team is split apart, their separate adventures plus time travel mean their individual life experiences are much different.
    Tiger: I said that years ago.
    Josh: You said that, like, twenty minutes ago!
    Wolf: Time travel is fuuuuucked up.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Both Tiger and Wolf are gassed by Biotics in the last episode. Wolf starts dying, but Tiger is unaffected, revealing her to be a Biotic all along.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Officer Skarsgaard has to go and tell Officer Santiago’s wife he’s been killed in the line of duty. His pregnant wife. Whose in-laws are visiting from Mexico. It just gets worse from there.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Averted with the poisoning of the alternate!2017 Kronish Ball party.
  • Wham Shot: When it’s revealed Biotics aren’t hideous, blank-faced mutants, but actually regular people. Really, really attractive people.
    • While Wolf is dying after being gassed by Biotics, Tiger is unaffected by the poison, as are all Biotics.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: They unknowingly started the Loma Linda Wildfire after blowing up their van.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The plot of the series is a combination of The Last Starfighter (which Josh points out) and Terminator.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: In the alternate 2017, Josh's parents named him Joosh after Josh's alias in the 80s. This led to him being bullied and growing up to be a self-centered asshole who surrounds himself with yes-men and toadies while alienating his parents.
  • Would Hurt a Child: All members of the Resistance apparently, especially Tiger. This changes when she goes back to kill baby Kronish. She fully intended to, but after learning about how his father died and how his mother would be devastated, she can't go through with it, and ends up becoming a nanny to him.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Certain things seem destined to come to pass: the majority of Tiger and Wolf’s team will die before the jump to 2017. Elias Kronish will live to 2017 and have done practically all the research needed to invent the SuperCure. Owl will be tortured and “wormed.”
  • Your Head Asplode: All of the Biotics are implanted with a ‘brain bomb’ so if any of them are about to be taken alive, they can self-detonate. It also acts as a beacon to call in reinforcements once armed. Seen in absurdly graphic detail when Jeri's head explodes right in front of Josh, covering him in blood.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: When alone with a Biotic under interrogation, Josh gets a very different view of the future from their side. The Resistance were actively bombing hospitals and medical centers with civilian staff. There’s universal healthcare and a high standard of living. The only people who don’t want a part of it are those living underground and wildly uneducated about the most average social graces. Josh still decides to side with the Resistance given his bond with the team, and since every Biotic we’d seen up to that point had screamed ‘Die, Resistance scum!’ it’s probably a safe bet there was still exaggeration on their part. Even so, they're shown to be pretty brutal. They will kill anybody who gets in their way, unarmed civilians included. One plan they propose repeatedly is killing Kronish as a baby. Ultimately though Tiger can't go through with it. She and Wolf get much nicer over time with Josh as an influence too.