10 Sci-Fi Movies and Shows That Attempted to Predict the Future

Science fiction is so successful as a genre in large part because viewers often don’t have to suppress their disbelief as much. Many of the genre’s odd locations and technical elements help tell unique and imaginative stories while remaining grounded in reality. For example, these films and shows allow viewers to see what Earth or humanity would look like if they were set in a different universe, in an alternate past, or sometimes in the future.

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While many science fiction stories of the past have accurately predicted the future before it became the present, that is not always the case. For years, writers have done their best to portray what they think will happen. Sometimes these predictions can be a little wrong, and other times they turn out to be completely wrong.


‘2012’ (2009)

As the Earth’s core begins to heat up and its crust becomes unstable, world leaders prepare for the end in just a few years. As 2012 dawns, devastating earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity threaten all of humanity. In the thick of it, a writer and his estranged family do their best to survive.

Of course the movie 2012 didn’t predict anything too far into the future, since it was released in 2009, and apocalyptic movies aren’t exactly new. Of course, the world didn’t end in 2012.

‘Lost in Space’ (1965 – 1968)

Mankind sets out for the stars and the Robinson family is chosen for a five and a half year journey to colonize a planet near Alpha Centauri. When a saboteur sneaks aboard their spaceship, a series of catastrophic events causes them to veer off course at top speed and become hopelessly lost.

Though the years that the 1998 film and 2018 series are set are still a long way off, the original is Lost in space TV show is a different story. The main events of the story take place in 1997, which was about 30 years in the future at the time, and involve lengthy trips into space. In real life, while humanity had undoubtedly achieved quite a number of space-related milestones by 1997, we were nowhere near that level of space colonization.

“Meet the Robinsons” (2007)

Lewis is a brilliant child inventor who, after finding out his brand new invention has been stolen, is approached by a mysterious boy named Wilbur. Lewis discovers that both Wilbur and the invention thief are time travelers and travels to the future, where he meets Wilbur’s eccentric family.

It takes place in the year 2037, so it might be a little early to say Meet the Robinsons couldn’t predict the future. However, it’s safe to say that many of the film’s technological advances aren’t in our near future. This is especially true when you consider that the film’s lead scientist, Cornelius Robinson, would likely have introduced this technology right now.

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“The Island” (2005)

In a society isolated from the rest of the world because of an all-too-familiar global pollutant, people live with almost everything they do surveilled and controlled. The only thing they have to look forward to is being chosen by lottery to go to a pristine paradise called The Island.

Released 2005, The island is set fourteen years later and features cloning technology. While this concept is possible in real life, human cloning so rapidly and on such a large scale is not possible right now, let alone in 2019.

‘Demolition Man’ (1993)

John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) is a police officer with a ruthless reputation that has earned him the nickname “The Demolition Man”. After capturing a dangerous criminal who allegedly caused the deaths of 30 hostages, Spartan and the criminal are sentenced to prison in cryogenic freeze. When they both wake up prematurely, they find a very different world to the one they left behind.

The start year in Demolition Man is 1996, just three years after the film’s release, and is also the year mankind did not develop cryogenic technology. While the future the characters wake up in is yet to come, the specific nature of the utopian society depicted here is a little unrealistic.

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“Time Cop” (1994)

A cop working for the Time Enforcement Commission spends his days catching criminals who dabble in time travel. When he uncovers a conspiracy orchestrated by a corrupt politician, he must stop it before the past is changed forever.

Although maybe not one of the best time travel movies, time cop stays one of Jean-Claude Van Damme‘s more classic films. Unlike many other films that attempt to predict the future, it is initially set in the same year it was released in 1994. However, humanity is nowhere near developing time travel between past and present, and even further from having a police force dedicated solely to that purpose.

Blade Runner (1982)

In a futuristic dystopian society, highly evolved robots called replicants, indistinguishable from humans, have been created. When four replicants go rogue and wreak havoc on the city, a former cop is called in to track them down.

One of the most iconic films from the 1982s, mixing sci-fi and crime thrillers Bladerunner, takes place in the then far distant future of 2019. Many things seen in this film are not realistic as 2019 was. For example, the film features flying cars, robots that look exactly like humans, and a Los Angeles that rains constantly.

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‘West World’ (1973)

In a world where androids are almost indistinguishable from humans, an adult amusement park is being created with these robots as hosts. Here visitors can take an expensive vacation to one of three parks; Romanworld, Medievalworld and Westworld. In these parks, guests find an authentic historical experience until the hosts act on their own.

Although you may be familiar with that western world Series on HBO, the film it is based on came out in 1973. In the original western world, the year is 1983, and many significant technological achievements have been made. In the real world, however, although androids exist, the level of sophistication and human likeness is still far off.

‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (1995)

After finding a mysterious artifact on the moon in the form of a giant black monolith, humanity seeks to learn its origins. A small crew and their spaceship’s artificial intelligence embark on a mission to Jupiter to answer this question.

As mentioned in the title, 2001: A Space Odyssey takes place in 2001 when humanity established a lunar base and achieved long-term interstellar travel. Since the film was shot just over a year before the Apollo 11 moon landing, people were already dreaming of going to the stars. However, we are not there yet.

“Back to the Future Part II” (1989)

Shortly after Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) returns from his journey into the past, Doctor Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) approaches him again to ask for help. Marty travels to the future of 2015 with his girlfriend and Doc Brown to avoid his son’s incarceration.

As one of the better-known cinematic attempts to predict the future, Back to the Future Part II is a bit mixed. The film correctly predicted some concepts, such as Hollywood’s obsession with sequels and 3D. Until 2015 we did not get pine 19, nor have we gotten hoverboards, flying cars, or auto-adjusting/auto-drying jackets. However, Nike has released its power lace-up shoes.

READ MORE: The 10 most influential sci-fi movies of the 20th century ranked by how accurate they were about the future

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Sarah Ridley

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