A Sci-Fi Timeline

We are now about eleven years past the time of "Lost in Space" (set in 1997). Where's all the spaceships and robots?

It's interesting to look at various science fiction movies and television shows and take note of when they were supposed to take place. Often, like "Lost in Space" they are way off the mark, predicting amazing technologies that probably won't be invented for hundreds of years. However, sometimes they can be quite accurate. Let's look at a few.

Logan's Run is set "sometime in the 23rd century"
Teleportation devices in three hundred years? I guess it's far enough away in time that I can go along with it.

Land of the Giants is set in 1983. This is one of the more blatant errors in calculation. Fancy tourist spaceships are still nowhere in sight, and we're twenty five years past the show's setting.

The TV series U.F.O. (see image below) was actually set in 1980! That's even less believable than Space:1999.

Blade Runner is set in 2019.
Wow, eleven years to go before we have to start worrying about those pesky replicants.

The year is 2084 in Total Recall. Damn. I was kind of hoping that virtual reality thing would come around a bit sooner.

Forbidden Planet is set in the early 2200's.

The original Jetsons was supposed to take place in 2062. Man, my grandchildren will have it made!

The crew in Planet of the Apes left earth in 2006, went into hibernation and crash landed in 3978.

Here's the tag line for Escape from New York: The year is 1997. The Big Apple is the world's largest penitentiary. Breaking out is impossible. Breaking IN is INSANE.

The 1927 film Metropolis is set in 2026.

2001: A Space Odyssey was right on the money for a lot of things, but was off the mark on artificial intelligence and suspended animation.

Alien is set in 2122. Again, filmmakers have a tendency to underestimate the time it will take to develop this suspended animation thing.

The Buck Rogers TV series is set in 2491.

Rollerball is set in 2018. I can believe the technology and the "global corporate state" aspects, but I doubt sporting events will be this lame in ten years.

Back to the Future II is set in 2015. Only seven more years till the hoverboard!

The best method to avoid having your film or TV show woefully outdated may be to set it far beyond the present date like Dune, which is set thousands of years ahead. Or, opt for the Star Wars plan and have it set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....


  1. AnonymousJuly 24, 2008

    Good research on an interesting topic. I am an old guy now and have seen alot of film prophecy unfulfilled. I jsut watched A Clockwork Orange the other night and it was set I think in 1999 or so, and for listening they used mini cassettes and vinyl still.

    I also am interested in how old sci-fi films for the sixties saw the future of the UN, as a true world headquarters. I was watching Destroy All Monsters and the UN there had such great power. People must have projected such hope onto it.

  2. AnonymousJuly 24, 2008

    VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA the TV series often showed calenders that indicated the year was 1972 or 73.

  3. Bill - As usual, thanks for your observations. I've been checking in at your site and it seems to still be in a state of "uploading". Hopefully, you can get things back on track soon. I just got done reading your post on Nancy Sinatra - definately my cup of tea. Enjoyed it, and hope to see new stuff soon.

    Buzz- Wasn't "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea' another Irwin Allen production like "Lost in Space" and "Time Tunnel"? I've never had a chance to watch that one. The date of 1972 is hilarious - that tops any of the ones I put on my post. Excellent!

  4. AnonymousJuly 26, 2008

    Thanks. I am going to get of the horror/cult movie rut and do some TV shows, music and comic book stuff since my interests are there as well. I use your site as some inspiration. I simply would have to have another website if I stuck only to film reviews and now I am getting the feel for being able to keep it all loosely in one big tent.

    And I am finally current!

  5. Awesome! I am a huge fan of horror and cult movies, but I am way too capricious to stick with a topic so narrow. I can't wait to tune in to new "episodes" at your blog.

    I've been working on a post for a couple days now which should be posted tonight sometime. It's taking longer than expected and things to do: my daughter had a sleepover, my son had a soccer game, yada, yada, yada

  6. If you are referring the the original Planet of the Apes, the clock in the ship read 1972, not 2006.