The future is often thought of as an unknowable, inscrutable web of possibility and promise. To try and know the future is foolish, and to claim to know it is a sign of madness. Yet, repeatedly through the years, people have tried to see what the future holds for us, in everything from politics to sports to tech.
Most of these endeavours fail. The key word here being “most”. Every now and then, a correct prediction is made, usually as a joke that turns into a serious affair. It’s almost enough to make you think the universe must be aware and have a wicked sense of humor. Several incidents on the following list will definitely make you consider the possibility!
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10The Simpsons—3 Eyed Mutant Fish
It’s no surprise that, having been around for over 30 years, The Simpsons has made its fair share of predictions, and most are flat-out wrong. The weirdest by far, however, has to be the prediction they were never trying to make in the first place: 3 eyed mutant fish.
Long time fans of The Simpsons will surely remember Blinky, the 3 eyed nuclear fish that lives in the pond outside Mr. Burns nuclear factory. The glowing runoff from the plant mutated the little goldfish into a bugeyed monster!
In 2011, Blinky came to life in Argentina, as a pair of fishermen caught a 3 eyed wolf fish in a reservoir fed by a nearby nuclear plant. Mr. Burns, however, was no where to be found.
Blink thrice if you need a rescue, Blinky!
9Person of Interest—Snowden
In 2012, the writers of Person of Interest hit on a great idea: what if we wrote about a boyishly handsome young CIA agent who discovers that the US government is spying on American Citizens illegally and tries to tell the world? In the show, he had to dodge assassains and agents as he met secretly with reporters to spread the word of the governments dirty dealings.
In real life, it was much the same, as Edward Snowden ran from the government, roaming country to country after exposing the US Government for illegal mass surveillance not only of US citizens but citizens of other countries as well.
Truth is usually stranger than fiction, but sometimes the two collide and synch in the worst possible areas.
8Quantum Leap—Superbowl XXX
Quantum Leap, as a show, was all about predicting the future. In it, a man named Sam has his mind thrown through time and into the bodies of others, each time with a task to complete to improve the life of the person into whom he has leaped. This made for some quality television, and for oodles of predictions about the future, almost all of them wrong.
Almost all. There was, of course, the Superbowl XXX prediction.
The episode “All Americans”, which premiered in 1990, opens with Sam watching Superbowl 30, a game which wouldn’t be played until 1996. He mentions, casually, that the Steelers are playing and are trailing by 3 points. Simple set dressing, until 1996, when the Steelers not only played the superbowl, but were trailing by 3 points halfways through.
7The Legends of Chamberlain Heights—Kobe Bryant’s Death
Although not a well known show, the cartoon Legends of Chamberlain Heights was a well enjoyed show for the short time that it ran. A Comedy Central product, it had its share of dark and tasteless jokes. One such dark joke featured Kobe Bryant in a helicopter, which then crashed to the ground, killing him (but not before he tried to crawl out from underneath it).
The episode, which aired in 2016, predicted almost perfectly the startling and brutal death of the basketball legend earlier this year in, as portrayed, a helicopter crash, which also took the life of his daughter GiGi.
Out of respect for the dead, Comedy Central has removed the episode, but the scene in question is being circulated around the internet.
6The Simpsons—President Trump
No discussion of predictions could possibly be complete without taking note of one of the most infamous predictions ever made by a television show: the rise of President Trump.
One of the jokes in the episode ‘Bart To The Future’, at the time a humorous impossibility, was that Lisa Simpson had taken over the presidency from Donald Trump. This was, according to the writers, originally a placeholder name, but the idea that billionaire businessman and reality TV star Donald Trump would not only run, but win, was so funny to the writers that they decided to keep it in. The joke drew a chuckle from audiences, and was then promptly forgotten for 16 years.
Then, as we all know, the 2016 election happened and Donald Trump not only ran, but won, which has had the effect of making the Simpsons episode increasingly more hilarious with time. What was once considered an outlandish gag line has become reality, and I for one could not be laughing harder, though I suspect Hillary Clinton skips this episode when she binges the show!
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5Scrubs—Osama Bin Laden Location
Scrubs, a comedy-drama about the day to day of a fictional hospital called Sacred Heart Hospital, was known for a character without a name, known simply as The Janitor. Prone to wild stories and insane theories, The Janitor was a semi-creepy comic relief character and minor antagonist who would make insane claims such as that his wife hand sewed his pants despite only having pinkies and thumbs, or that his parents were also his siblings.
So it was no surprise to anyone that the Janitor would say something as strange and seemingly nonsensical as suggesting that Osama bin Laden could be found in Pakistan, as opposed to Afghanistan.
Imagine the surprise when he was actually found hiding in Pakistan! Thanks for the tip, Janitor!
A year before Facebook would be unveiled to the world, fondly remembered tv show Friends made a prediction about a site like myspace and friendster that would focus on college alumni. The episode focused on themes of connecting with old friends, childish pranks and comments made over social media, and setting up satirical pages for friends.
The episode culminates with a Memorial Page for one of the group, which draws only two former classmates to their staged funeral. While it’s a disappointing turnout, the fictitious site proves to be useful in reconnecting people and allowing them to rekindle (or permanently break) old relationships from across vast distances and gulfs of time.
The site would turn out to be extremely similar, in fact almost identical to what would, the next year, become Facebook, the most successful social media site to exist to date, which would grow and would amass such a large user base, that it is still used by over 2 billion people more than a decade later. Written as nothing more than a joke, it is still an incredible prediction of what was to come only a year later.
3Parks And Recreation—Cubs Win
A more positive future prediction comes to us from Parks and Recreation, a show about the day to day workings of a small government run public spaces department in Indiana. The show came to us with what many of us felt to be a ridiculous but sweet predition: the Cubs winnning the world series for the first time in over a century. Many of us, especially the sports fans, are aware of the various jokes about the Cubs curse, which states that the Cubs will never win the world series. For a time, it seemed the Cubs truly were cursed, as they didn’t have a world series win for 108 years.
Until finally, in 2016, the Cubs beat their curse after it was predicted in 2015 by a Parks and Recreation episode.
The episode, airing in 2015, depicted the Cubs breaking their curse, a victory that actually came about in 2016 but which Chicago was still feeling well into 2017. The show’s co-creator is credited with having made the prediction and has even been featured on Grantland and NBC Sports to talk about it since the win. He said all he did was track the Cubs minor league system.
2Twilight Zone—Rise of AI
The fear of an AI taking over your job is not unheard of, or even a new. The Twilight Zone, an anthology series that showed us terrifying tales from a place very like our world but slightly skewed, to often horrifying results, predicted such an outcome in the ’60s, long before AI was a reality. One particular episode features a factory manager who starts replacing his workers with robots that do not require breaks or days off.
This allows his factory and production to run 24 hours a day and seven days a week, while saving his company $4 million. Men are put out of jobs and eventually, even the manager is replaced. It’s a bleak view of a future we may not be too far away from.
This story has shocking parallels to many factories of modern day. Workers are increasingly being replaced with machines, and many men and women are losing their jobs. Fortunately for us, those machines still require workers to keep them functioning properly…for now.
Arguably one of the most well known and important sci fi shows of all time, Star Trek gave us a view of the future that gave us all hope for a better life among the stars in a few hundred years. Although many of the shows moments are ingrained heavily in American pop culture, few know that Star Trek predicted the invention of the touchscreen computer tablet about 23 years before Apple made the now famous iPad.
The touchscreen device, known in the show as a PADD (Personal Access Display Device), was a small, flat and touch-based device with rounded corners and no keyboard, connected to the Star Trek equivalent to the internet and used by nearly every officer, including medical staff and the Captain.
Of course, the PADD was also the product of a small prop budget, and what better way to save money than to make a flat, rectangular slab with no knobs or blinking lights. The iPad itself is not a direct replica, but it’s still pretty amazing to see that we’ve already come far enough to have a small, rectangular slab of plastic, metal and glass that works on touch and can tell us anything we want to know with just a series of swipes.
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