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poisonedantidote's avatar

Can you name any old sci-fi movies or shows, set in a future that has already come and gone?

Asked by poisonedantidote (21638points) February 19th, 2013

I was wondering is anyone can name any old science fiction films and/or shows, that when they were first made, talked of a distant future that has now come and gone.

For example, movies made in the 70’s that talked about the year 2010, and talked about all the technology we would have in 2010.

According to some movies, we should have flying cars by now, according to others, it wont be long now until we all have hover-boards, and according to others we would all have camera phones by now.

Some of the past science fiction technology predictions have come true, some have yet to be made a reality, and others may never be possible.

Can you name any science fiction movies from the past, that made interesting predictions? Movies that talked of a future that we would now call the past?

Who knew that the movie robocop would have ended up predicting the fox news channel.

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30 Answers

Mariah's avatar

The main one that comes to mind is 1984.

Not quite come and gone, but Back to the Future predicted hover cars by 2015. Guess we better hurry it up. XD

Kardamom's avatar

I think it’s kind of cool that The Jetsons cartoon foreshadowed Skype.

ragingloli's avatar

Star Trek canon had the Eugenics Wars set between 1992 and 1996, where Khan Noonien Singh emerged.

jaytkay's avatar

Not movies or TV, but Jules Verne freaks me out.

In 1865 he gave a fairly good idea of a moonshot with From the Earth to the Moon. The travelers even launched from Florida, just like Neil Armstrong et al.

In 1870 Verne gave a fairly good idea of nuclear submarine operation with Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Captain Nemo’s sub was not nuclear powered, but it had a similar long-lived fuel source.

poisonedantidote's avatar

@Kardamom Yes, And touch pad computers too if I remember right.

jaytkay's avatar


The Smithsonian blog Paleo Future has an ongoing series on the Jetsons and its predictions. Holy moly, The Jetsons is 50!


Kardamom's avatar

^^ Oy! That makes me old : (

ragingloli's avatar

And of course there is 2001. We still do not have full AI or deep space manned missions or a space station with artificial gravity, or a moon base.

fundevogel's avatar


I’m pretty sure the future depicted in 12 Monkeys is a few years past now, but I can’t remember when it’s supposed to take place. We’re getting dangerously close to hitting the dates of Back to the Future 2 (2015).

Then there’s the 2024 depicted in Highlander 2: The Quickening. Depressingly that one looks less and less sci-fi as time passes. Except the hookers.

woodcutter's avatar

2001: A space Odessy

my god, its full of stars

glacial's avatar

Space: 1999 immediately comes to mind. :)

Remember when TV shows lost so little time to commercials that they could afford to give a preview of the episode up front?

Pachy's avatar

@glacial, you beat me to it with Space:1999. It was really ahead of its time with inventive stories, interesting techology and unusually high production value. Also pretty good acting as I recall—Martin Landau!

glacial's avatar

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room Yeah, I loved that show. I was so disappointed when it was cancelled.

Also: some kind person has uploaded a ton of episodes to YouTube.

Brian1946's avatar

I’m so surprised that nobody has mentioned Frankenstein – 1970 or 2010. ;-o

ucme's avatar

I was going to comply with @glacial , but I see @Pachyderm_In_The_Room beat me to it…I think ;-}
In Terminator 2 the end of the world is predicted for august 29 1997…around tea-time.
Never happened!

JLeslie's avatar

This morning I was reminded of the movie The Postman which takes place in America in 2013 after some sort of apocalyptic event. Considering what is going on politically in America reagrding the Post Office, the plot is sort of timely.

gorillapaws's avatar

The original “Lost in Space” series was set in 1997 (thirty years into the future from when it was made).

Seek's avatar

Here’s a great site that illustrates the Future according to Science Fiction

Some samples:

2012: I Am Legend – Zombies take over the world.
2013: A Scanner Darkly – Totalitarianism, Substance D, Funky-rotoscope-suits; Escape from L.A. – Los Angeles is now an island abandoned by authority and ruled by anarchy
2017 – The Running Man – Convicts fight for their lives in Game Shows (In the book, anyone can play, not just convicts. And the end is better.)

glacial's avatar

Also, Blade Runner is set in 2019. They’d better start pumping the smoke in now.

gasman's avatar

In the 1960 movie The Time Machine, global thermonuclear war was depicted to occur some time in the 1960s.

glacial's avatar

@gasman That had me looking up A Boy and His Dog, but since it was set in 2024, I guess we’re still a ways off.

gasman's avatar

@glacial – Yeah I remember that one.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

SciFi film, Things to Come, 1936, London Film Productions, 91 minutes.

From the 1933 book by H.G.Wells, The Shape of things to Come.

This book was written, and the movie made, while the diplomats of England and France were busy convincing their governments to not take Hitler and the Nazi juggernaut seriously as an invading force (not to them, anyway) and only Winston Churchill alone stood in his seat in the House of Lords and railed his warnings of the Teutonic madman to the east. Because of this Churchill was considered a bit daffy, a laughing stock, and relegated to the back benches for his efforts. Not until the “Phony War” in 1939 and the million-Nazi troop build-up along the French border did the British government begin to take Churchill seriously—and even then they thought they could still make a separate deal with Russia through Molotov, sell British ally Poland down the river, and appease Hitler.

The film, written throughout 1934, is notable for predicting World War II and the Blitzkrieg, being only 16 months off by having it start on Christmas 1940, rather than 1 September 1939. Its graphic depiction of strategic bombing in the scenes in which the fictitious English city of Everytown is flattened by air attack and society collapses into barbarism, echo pre-war concerns about the threat of “the bomber will always get through”. Wells was an air power prophet of sorts, having described aerial warfare in Anticipations (1901) and The War in the Air (1908).

The use of gas bombs is very much part of the film, from the poison gas used early in the war to the sleeping gas used by the airmen of Wings Over the World. In real life, at the start of the Second World War, there was much concern that the Germans would use poison gas, which was used by France, Germany and Great Britain during the Great War. Civilians were required to carry gas masks and were trained in their use. When war did break out, however, the Germans did not use gas for military purposes.

This is an amazingly accurate 100-year prediction by Wells, taking place between1940 and 2040 (but originally written in 1933) covering missle warfare, post-war space travel, travel to the moon, the emergence and danger of technocracies, etc., and a nice old B&W to boot with an all-star cast and crew. It is a Classic produced by the great Alexander Korda.

William Cameron Menzies
H.G. Wells (novel), H.G. Wells (screenplay)

The film stars Raymond Massey, Ralph Richardson, Cedric Hardwicke, Pearl Argyle and Margaretta Scott.



Free film download from the Internet Archive HERE
(The 512Kb MPEG4 download option works best with the standard Windows Media Player, or just watch it right off the site.)

I like these old movies and some really good ones (along with some really, really bad ones!) are available on the Internet Archive. Enjoy.

downtide's avatar

Star Trek has foreshadowed a lot of current technology. Mobile phones, i-pads, they all would have looked familiar to the crew of the Enterprise.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@downtide Do you think Star Trek predicted these things or influence their creation?

Haleth's avatar

There’s a whole Trope about that, with dozens of examples. (Warning: clicking any link to tvtropes will suck you into an internet black hole.)

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Thanks to you, I just watched “Things to Come”. Considering it was made in 1936 he got some things very right – and some very wrong. He predicted a war a few years alter. His tanks in 1940 were futuristic smooth bulbous vehicles. Air warfare. Carpet bombing of civilian targets. Planes dropping poison gas from the sky. the war goes for decades. wearing down society and pushing them back to the middle ages. .In 1970 the tribes fight over oil that is distilled from coal.
On the other side of the Mediterranean there is a society of advanced people with fantastically huge propeller driven airplanes and they drop the gas of peace on people.
In 2036 they have giant flat panel TVs. They make the first attempt to go up to the moon and back. (but not land). The capsule is fired by an electrically powered rail gun.

HG Wells sure was creative.

downtide's avatar

@uberbatman I think Star Trek (and similar other shows/movies/books) influences tech design, to some extent.

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