Tales Of Futures Past

The future isn’t unwritten. It’s been written, and filmed, a lot. Just how much the future has been televised suddenly came into sharp focus from a totally unexpected source.

I was reading an article by the righteous dudes over at Coming Soon that talked about… and bear with me here… Knight Rider 2010.

I was completely unfamiliar with this “future” set televisual spectacle, and I love a bit of Knight Rider. Even though it has aged particularly badly, and now also appears highly camp in places, it is a fondly remembered touchstone of my youth.

I have seen Knight Rider, the short-lived 2008 reboot, and Knight Rider 2000. I even remember Team Knight Rider. So this probably got lost in the mix.

It is set in, you guessed it, 2010 which is now a post-apocalyptic world. It is very loosely based on the original series, trading in Michael Knight for Jake McQueen, the ultimate smuggler who is smuggling (checks notes) Mexicans across the border for money to survive.

His adventures in the world of talking cars await.


This got me thinking. Many US cities may well be dystopian hellscapes full of human feces, out-of-control shoplifters, and zombie-like victims of toothless Pharma regulations, but they are nothing like the society described in Knight Rider 2010, and that is 14 years behind us. So what else have movies described about our coming futures that turned out to be wrong, or maybe a little too early? What were they right about? Some are obvious:

Blade Runner

Blade Runner was supposed to happen 5 years ago, in a dystopian “future” Los Angeles of 2019 where it rained all the time due to global warming, mankind had colonized other planets, and synthetic humans known as replicants are bio-engineered by the powerful Tyrell Corporation, needing specialist police units to keep them in check.

Also, we were promised flying cars. None of these things have happened, and super-powerful globo-megacorps are nothing new. It is just that instead of Enron and IBM, we now have Google and Blackrock.

Back To The Future Part II

The far-flung future was 2015 this time. 20 years on from the 1985 setting of the movie universe, and only nine years behind us now. Again we were promised flying cars, more Jaws sequels, and I believe I speak for everyone when I ask – where is our damn hoverboard, you bastards! We did get video calling to the home, 3D movies, smart TVs, microwave meals, corrupt sports betting, and Donald Trump, so this movie actually seems to have got more things right than high-brow Blade Runner did, with all its sci-fi pedigree.

Mad Max

The first movie features a future society on the brink of collapse, something that would have accelerated by the time of the sequel. Released in 1979, and set “a few years from now” back then, it is safe to say we are looking at the 1990s at the latest. Which is weird. The 1990s were awesome. The 1990s gave us The Rock, Trainspotting, Pulp Fiction, and Armageddon. It was the decade of Generation, the dawn of the information age, grunge, great clubs, and the Sony Playstation.

Nobody was running away from Toecutter and his crew. We were too busy having a good time. This is the decade that unapologetically, and unironically, served up Con Air. The kind of semi-collapsed hellscape presented by Mad Max doesn’t really get underway until the 2010s, and then seems particular to Western society. Analysis, Spock?

Logan’s Run

Logan’s Run is a 1967 book, set in 2116. The film was set in 2275. The book contains a lot of detail about what happened, and that is in our past. The seeds of the Little War were planted in a restless summer during the mid-1960s, with sit-ins and student demonstrations as youth tested its strength. By the early 1970s, over 75 percent of the people living on Earth were under twenty-one years of age. The population continued to climb—and, with it, the youth percentage. In the 1980s, the figure was 79.7 percent. In the 1990s, 82.4 percent. In the year 2000—critical mass.

They decided that those over 21 (30 in the film) were no longer useful. This one seems prescient. Foam-brained insanity spreading from college campuses into every facet of life? Opposition is eliminated, if not by death then by cancellation and ostracisation. We need to keep an eye on these bastards, in case this becomes the most accurate one of all. To be fair, though, given the state of most under 30s, an uprising could probably be defeated by misgendering and locking them in in their safe spaces.

Damnation Alley

A 1969 book that was adapted into a 1977 movie, this also tells a story that starts in a post-apocalyptic California. It is like they knew what was coming for California all along. The book and the movie present the fairly standard trope of a nuclear war being responsible but then getting into the territory of contact hurricane force winds, mega-tsunamis, and giant mutated scorpions. It did get right the idea that straying too far from the safe zone in Los Angeles can have terrible consequences, and everyone drives massive 4-wheel drive vehicles.

Somewhere in New York as salvation though? Now you are just being silly.


The future year is 2018 and a cabal of mega-corporations rule, deciding what opinions people can, and cannot, have… editing the past through their supercomputers, controlling knowledge and thought and to preserve their power base. All the while using sports as the equivalent of mass-distracting bread and circuses. Then they try and rig the system against a threat that emerges. Jesus tittyfucking Christ, I know the best sci-fi is supposed to be prescient, but can you just tone it down a little bit, as this shit is spooky!

The timing is almost dead on, too!


So now that I feel all depressed at the dystopia that movies tried to warn us about happening all around us, what are your most accurate movie depictions of the future? And which ones were comically wrong?

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