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Things That Movies And TV Predicted For 2024

For about as long as humans have been telling stories, they have been using those stories to describe what the future might be like. The sci-fi genre is where predictive fiction really took off, and it is still where future-looking stories happen most often, but it's far from the only type of fiction that looks ahead. Almost any category of movie or television series has examples of creators sharing what they think our future holds to varying degrees of fantasticality, and it's always interesting when we actually reach the year that past stories have looked ahead at.

We previously looked at movies that predicted what 2023 would look like, and now we're doing the same for 2024. In addition, the exercise has been expanded to also look at a few television shows that were set in a then-future 2024. As you'd expect, most of these got next to nothing right about our current year, particularly projects that relied on magical or supernatural elements for their storytelling. However, some of the following films and shows actually got shockingly close to the truth with their predictions for 2024.

The Thirteenth Floor

A lot of sci-fi, particularly in the hidden gem-laden '80s and '90s, heavily features virtual reality and imagines its eventual ubiquity in society. While VR did finally see mass market penetration as an entertainment medium in the mid-2010s with the release of products like the Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR, we're still nowhere near it completely taking over every facet of our lives. Its technology certainly isn't advanced enough yet to fool people into thinking they are living a life they aren't actually living.

That was the basic idea behind the 1999 sci-fi noir "The Thirteenth Floor," based on the 1973 German miniseries "World on a Wire" (which itself was an adaption of a 1964 novel called "Simulacron-3"). The bulk of the movie is set in present day 1999, with people unknowingly inhabiting a virtual reality construct of 1937 Los Angeles. At least, that's what the movie wants the audience to believe.

In a major twist, it's revealed that 1999 Los Angeles is also a simulation, with the whole thing actually taking place in 2024 and the main character having died decades earlier. It's just his consciousness that's alive in the 2024 VR program of 1999 Los Angeles of 1937 Los Angeles. Got all that? Needless to say, VR technology isn't anywhere close to being advanced enough to perpetuate that many layers of false realities — and here's hoping it never is.

Beyond the Time Barrier

The oldest movie in this feature by a considerable margin, "Beyond the Time Barrier" is a 1960 B-movie about a military test pilot who crashes an experimental spacecraft and somehow wakes up in the year 2024. When the film was made, 2024 was over six decades away, so you can imagine how futuristic the film imagined everything to be at this point in humanity's timeline. However, unlike some of the more hopeful sci-fi of the era, "Beyond the Time Barrier" presented an extremely bleak vision of what was in store for Earth in the 21st century.

Initially, all Major Bill Allison (Robert Clarke) finds is a desolate wasteland for miles in all directions. However, he eventually discovers an advanced underground facility, which is where the last remaining humans have been forced to live due to the damage of a "cosmic plague" brought upon by a nuclear weapons mishap. It's also been two decades since the last new human was born. And, unlike "Fallout," there isn't even a façade of things being peaceful and idyllic down there — it's a brutal place run by cruel leaders. 

"Beyond the Time Barrier" has largely been, well, lost to time. You certainly won't see it on any lists of the best sci-fi movies ever made, but it's available to watch on multiple streaming services, so feel free to check it out if you're curious about how the less-optimistic sci-fi writers of the 1960s saw 2024.

Highlander II: The Quickening

The "Highlander" franchise had such promise after the original 1986 film, but it was all downhill after "Highlander II: The Quickening." Actually, that's not fair — everything that's come since "Highlander II" has been leagues better, though that isn't saying much. The second film was one of those sequels that was such an embarrassment to the franchise that the next installment, "Highlander III: The Sorcerer," took place directly after the original film and basically pretended "The Quickening" never happened.

So what did happen in the movie that didn't happen? Like so many films of its era, the 1991 release was all about pollution and the destruction of the ozone layer. Things get so bad that, at the end of the decade, a shield has to be built to replace the depleted ozone layer and prevent further deaths resulting from direct contact with the sun's powerful rays. Fast forward to 2024, and that shield has started to fail. 

This then ties back into the main concept of the "Highlander" franchise and its eternal battle between immortals. In this case, it's Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) and Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez (Sean Connery), the only two major returning characters from the previous film. There's no point in saying much else about the ridiculous and convoluted plot of "The Quickening," except that we obviously don't have immortals battling under a failing radiation shield in the real 2024.

Songbird

The COVID-19 outbreak was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March 2020, changing the film industry forever. That same month, screenwriters Adam Mason and Simon Boyes immediately began brainstorming a movie about the pandemic. By July, "Songbird" was already being shot — fittingly becoming the first movie to film in Los Angeles since the pandemic had shut everything down. It was released in December 2020, a remarkable turnaround for a movie about a pandemic that itself wasn't even a year old yet.

But the film wasn't about the present day state of the pandemic. Instead, "Songbird" imagined a 2024 where the pandemic and its associated lockdowns and quarantines were not only still ongoing, but had gotten much worse. By then, COVID-19 had mutated into the much more dangerous COVID-23. Luckily, that didn't happen in real life — but it would've been tough to blame anyone at the time for assuming the worst about how the next few years were going to unfold. 

The plot revolves around the virtual relationship between an immune motorbike courier (KJ Apa) and an artist (Sofia Carson) who is quarantining with her grandmother. As for the actual quality of "Songbird," well, there's a reason most movies spend multiple years in development. While some critics praised it for daring to take on the pandemic while it was still happening and for managing to get a movie from concept to completion in nine months, reviews were overwhelmingly negative — to the tune of a 9% Rotten Tomatoes score

The Lazarus Project

Forward-looking sci-fi has been just as prevalent on the small screen over the years, and not only in the United States. The British TV series "The Lazarus Project" debuted in July 2022, and, while it was set in the present day, it went on for long enough that we got a look at what the writers thought 2024 might hold for us. It follows a group of people trying to harness the ability to control time loops — and make changes therein. 

By the show's second season, time has progressed to the then-near future of 2024, and all that time looping had come at a cost. A black hole has formed as a result of people messing around too much with the space-time continuum, and it threatens to unravel all of existence if it's not brought under control. Despite critical acclaim and encouraging viewership numbers, "The Lazarus Project" wasn't renewed for a third season, all the more tragic given that Season 2 ended on a cliffhanger. 

It hasn't been that long since the show ended, so here's hoping someone either picks it up to make a full Season 3 or at least a movie that lets fans see the fate of the characters who were left in danger at the end of Season 2 — even though 2024 will be in the past by the time it realistically happens. 

The Last Days of American Crime

A concept that sci-fi writers love to explore is a vision of the future where it has been made nearly impossible to commit crimes — and all the ways that this seemingly fool-proof idea inevitably backfires. Perhaps the most famous example is "Minority Report," first a Philip K. Dick novella, and later, a Steven Spielberg film. One of the most recent takes on the concept is the 2020 Netflix film "The Last Days of American Crime," which imagines a 2024 where the U.S. government has developed an electronic signal that will make it so people literally can't break the law.

The first of many mistakes made in this movie by people who should've known better is that it is officially announced a week in advance that the crime-blocking signal is going to be activated. So, naturally, a group of thieves decide to spend that week doing the proverbial one last heist before it presumably becomes impossible for them to do any more thieving. Naturally, things go wrong — the signal ends up not being all it was promised to be.

It's a decent enough premise, but "The Last Days of American Crime" doesn't come anywhere close to living up to it. Watch "Minority Report" instead — and if you've already seen it, just watch it again instead of this clunker. It's so bad that it has a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

A Boy and His Dog

Writer Harlan Ellison did a lot of pioneering stuff in the area of forward-looking fiction, and his material has been adapted into just about every medium there is. Sometimes, even a single Ellison story would cross multiple mediums — like his 1969 short story "A Boy and His Dog," which would eventually become a novella, a graphic novel, and a live-action movie. The film stars Don Johnson as Vic, an 18-year-old boy with no understanding of morality who scavenges in a post-apocalyptic United States with the help of his telepathic dog Blood.

Released in 1975, the movie focuses primarily on 2024 as its setting, "a future you'll probably live to see," said the tagline. Positioning itself as a dark comedy, some of the film's content has proven to be highly contentious over the years, but it remains a cult favorite to this day. "It is a movie that reflects its times, and yet speaks to current intelligence," Ellison told The Dissolve when "A Boy and His Dog" was released on Blu-ray.

Writer/director L.Q. Jones claims that the movie inspired George Miller in creating the "Mad Max" films, the first of which debuted just four years later, and people who worked on the "Fallout" games have cited it as an influence. "'A Boy and His Dog' inspired 'Fallout' on many levels, from underground communities of survivors to glowing mutants," designer and scripter Jesse Heinig told The Escapist.

The Undeclared War

"The Undeclared War" is another British TV program that took viewers to the year 2024 at a time when 2024 wasn't that far away. Released on the streaming service Peacock in the United States, the miniseries ran in Summer 2022 and looked ahead to the 2024 British election season. More specifically, it focuses on a series of cyber attacks launched with the goal of disrupting democracy. 

Though the exact events of "The Undeclared War" haven't actually come to pass, cyber attacks launched with the purpose of interfering with elections are indeed a modern reality. The conflict of the show is so believable, in fact, that when it marketed itself in the U.K. with radio warnings about an impending cyber attack meant to sound like real broadcasts, people believed it, freaked out, and subsequently complained when they found out they'd been duped.

It's a type of stunt marketing that actually has roots in sci-fi: The 1938 radio drama adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic "The War of the Worlds" famously caused panic when it was broadcast as if it was an actual report of a real alien invasion. Just how much worry it actually caused has been debated in recent years (many now believe the levels of panic were exaggerated by newspapers and narrator Orson Welles).

Narcopolis

When "Blade Runner" was released in 1982, its 2019 setting was far off into the future, so it can't be blamed for inaccurately predicting that our cities would be bathed in neon at this point. The same can't be said for the British film "Narcopolis," which imagined a similar aesthetic for our current era — not nearly as forgivable for being so far off base given that it was made in 2015.

As for the actual story behind "Narcopolis," it doesn't deal with replicant humans living among us. Instead, it imagines a 2024 where all recreational drugs have been legalized in the U.K. and police forces are sent out to try and stop the drug dealers who are still trying to operate with the necessary licenses. Soon, they discover that an incredibly powerful new mystery drug has been created, and they have to figure out where it's coming from and how to stop it before it gets out of control.

There's actually some good stuff here, but "Narcopolis" suffers from a lull about a third of the way through the story. In his review of the film for the Los Angeles Times, critic Michael Rechtshaffen laments that "Narcopolis" is bookended by a strong start and finish but has a weak middle that indulges too much in writer/director Justin Trefgarne's obvious reverence for "Blade Runner" and "The Terminator." He wrote: "By the time that more thought-provoking conclusion finally arrives, viewer attention will likely have drifted off into another dimension."

Illang: The Wolf Brigade

It's 2024, and political tensions have forced North Korea and South Korea to lay out a five-year process which will see the two nations reunified. This makes the United States, China, Japan, and Russia nervous and leads to them hitting both Korean nations with various sanctions, which have severe repercussions on their economies. The now-struggling Korean people are no longer on board with the reunification plans, and civil unrest has broken out. This forces the South Korean government to create a police force of powerful, exoskeleton-wearing officers to get things back under control.

This is the plot of "Illang: The Wolf Brigade," a 2018 South Korean sci-fi film that ultimately didn't find an audience, nor did it win much favor with critics. It's one of a number of live-action remakes of anime movies — in this case, 1999's "Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade" — that have failed to live up to their predecessors. If the concept interests you, you're best off checking out "Jin-Roh," which was written by Mamoru Oshii and is based on the first chapter of his manga "Kerberos Panzer Cop" (though it's worth pointing out that "Jin-Roh" differs greatly in terms of setting and plot, taking place in Japan during an alternate history where Nazi Germany won World War II). 

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Star Trek" has always had a lot of fun with the fact that the distant past is actually our present or near-future, the most famous example being "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," in which Captain Kirk and his crew travel back in time to 1986, the year the movie was released. The characters of other "Star Trek" shows and films have also looked back at a time that was the past for them but is still the future for us.

It's always been neat to listen to characters discussing major historical events that still haven't happened for us. In the "Star Trek" world, a lot of stuff went down in 2024, with several major events taking place. In "The High Ground," an episode from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Season 3, Data speaks of 2024 being the year that Northern Ireland broke away from the United Kingdom and unified with the Republic of Ireland to form a single, autonomous nation. What's interesting is that, due to the impact of Brexit, a united Ireland looks more likely in 2024 than it has for a long time, per Politico.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Star Trek: The Next Generation" isn't the only "Star Trek" show that has discussed major events occurring in 2024. Much of "Star Trek: Picard" Season 2 takes place in an alternate version of 2024, which — at the time of the season's release — was still two years in the future. It predicted that 2024 was the year that Jean-Luc Picard's ancestor, Renée Picard, would make a major breakthrough in the fight against climate change. "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" did those shows one better by having members of its crew actually travel back in time to 2024, and not an alternate version, either.

In the two-part episode "Past Tense," Commander Sisko, Dr. Bashir, and Jadzia Dax end up in 2024 because of a transporter accident. But it isn't just any random day in 2024 that the "DS9" crew stumble into: It's just before the Bell Riots (named after lead protester Gabriel Bell), a civil clash that occurred in San Francisco that serves as a major event within the history of the "Star Trek" universe. This was one of the darker depictions of humanity shown in any "Star Trek" production up to that point, a franchise that was generally known for having a more upbeat and optimistic tone compared to most of its sci-fi peers.