Top 20 Movie Predictions That Were Wrong

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Top 20 Movie Predictions That Were Wrong

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Movies are great at predicting the future...just not these ones. For this list, we'll be looking at movies that falsely predicted the state of the future. Our countdown includes “The Purge”, "Mad Max", “Demolition Man”, "Timecop", “The Terminator”, and more!
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Top 20 Wrong Movie Predictions About the Future


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Wrong Movie Predictions About the Future.

For this list, we’ll be looking at movies that falsely predicted the state of the future.

Do you wish you lived in any of these futures? Let us know in the comments below!

#20: Complete Societal Breakdown

“Mad Max” (1979)
Writers James McCausland and George Miller wrote “Mad Max” following the 1973 oil crisis. Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing nations proclaimed an embargo on various countries, including the United States and Australia. McCausland and Miller witnessed the animal-like violence that resulted among Australian citizens and were inspired to write “Mad Max” as a warning. In the movie’s future dystopia, an oil crisis has resulted in complete societal collapse and roving bands of violent criminals. Luckily, it seems like we may have avoided this potential future. Gas stations are still going strong, oil-stealing bandits are not terrorizing towns, and electric vehicles are slowly but surely being adopted.

#19: Psychic Experiments

“Akira” (1988)
Back in 1982, the year of 2019 must have seemed so futuristic. While “Akira” was released in 1988, the elements of its setting were ripped directly from the manga, which was published six years earlier. In the movie’s version of 1988, Tokyo is completely destroyed and World War III is launched as a result. And in 2019, the city of Neo-Tokyo has been turned into a dystopia. Gang violence is rampant and martial law is imposed to combat destructive anti-government protests. Furthermore, some people have special psychic abilities and are housed in secret government labs. Now, we can’t speak of secret government labs housing psychics, but as far as we’re aware, Tokyo doesn’t have them. And besides, the city is not a dystopian wasteland.

#18: The Purge

“The Purge” (2013)
There’s a fascinating concept behind “The Purge,” and that is that all crime is legal for one night. In 2014, the United States suffered a devastating economic collapse. As a result, a totalitarian political party was voted into office, and they enacted the Purge to combat rising crime rates. And it seems to work. In exchange for one night of complete lawlessness, the country enjoys both low crime rates and unemployment numbers. The movie takes place in 2022. Well, we’re here, and The Purge is most definitely not a thing. And, as far as we’re aware, no political party is interested in making it a thing. Sorry, wannabe anarchists.

#17: Ultrasound Pistols & Cryonics

“Knight Rider 2000” (1991)
Even in the early ‘90s, the year 2000 seemed like such a foreign concept. It just sounded so futuristic, so full of imaginative possibilities. Based on the popular TV show, “Knight Rider 2000” is a made-for-TV movie that takes place in…well, you can probably guess. And it depicts a future that is still far, far down the line. In the movie’s version of 2000, traditional handguns have been banned and replaced with non-lethal ultrasound weapons. Imprisoned criminals are cryogenically frozen as a means of cutting exorbitant prison costs. These are fun ideas for a science fiction movie, but they are nowhere close to our current reality - let alone the reality of 2000.

#16: Human Cloning

“The Island” (2005)
Starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson, “The Island” is a sci-fi movie that takes place in 2019. In it, people live within a dystopian community that is completely cut off from the outside world. They are told that the world has been contaminated with fatal pathogens, but the reality is much darker. Well, for them, anyway. The inhabitants of the compound are actually clones of wealthy individuals in the outside world, and they are used for things like surrogacy and organ harvesting. It’s true that the world is currently experiencing a major wealth gap, but as far as we’re aware, there is no secret island housing human clones. In fact, many countries have banned the research and practice of human cloning altogether.

#15: Flying Cars & Robots

“Blade Runner” (1982)
There are certainly elements of “Blade Runner” that are factual today, including the likes of video chats and digital billboards. But “Blade Runner” still remains a piece of tantalizing science fiction, even though it takes place in 2019. This world is populated by flying cars and humanoid robots who easily pass as human beings. Flying cars are still a long way off, and the robots we have today could never be mistaken for a real human. Furthermore, we still don’t have off-world space colonies. Bummer, we know. Even the dirty steampunk aesthetic of this 2019 Los Angeles is anything but realistic. Maybe by 2049 we’ll be living in “Blade Runner,” but we’re not putting much stock in that.

#14: Artificial Ozone Layer

“Highlander II: The Quickening” (1991)
In the mid ‘70s, it was discovered that the ozone layer of Earth was quickly depleting, resulting in a worldwide panic and the banning of various chemicals. The crisis also made its way into popular culture, including “Highlander II.” In this movie’s version of the early ‘90s, solar radiation is a major problem on Earth and causes the deaths of millions. A shield is then created to protect the inhabitants of Earth, and by 2024, it is taken over by The Shield Corporation. This greedy business extorts various countries and demands exorbitant fees to keep the shield in place. Luckily, nothing of the sort has happened, and recent studies have shown positive results regarding ozone depletion.

#13: Recording Live Memories

“Strange Days” (1995)
Co-written by James Cameron and directed by his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow, “Strange Days” takes place in the tail end of 1999. Los Angeles is a dystopian wasteland ravaged by violence, and some of its citizens wear illegal devices known as SQUIDs. A SQUID is able to record the memories and physical sensations of its wearer. These recordings are then sold on the black market, allowing buyers to live a stranger’s experiences. Director Kathryn Bigelow was inspired to make the movie following the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Fortunately, that event did not result in a dystopian Los Angeles, and SQUIDs remain a thing of pure science fiction.

#12: Manhattan Prison

“Escape from New York” (1981)
Dystopian science fiction is a very popular genre. Have we always been pessimistic about the future? It certainly seems like it. “Escape from New York” was released in 1981 and begins seven years later, with the United States embroiled in a war against China and the Soviet Union. To combat the exorbitant crime rates, the American government turns the island of Manhattan into a prison. By 1997, Manhattan houses the country’s most dangerous criminals and is protected by the likes of explosive bridges, patrolled rivers, and a 50-foot wall. Virtually nothing about this movie’s 1997 is accurate, and Manhattan is still going strong to this day. Still, it makes for a fun story!

#11: Mass Infertility

“Children of Men” (2006)
The greatest dystopian fiction is always rooted in a semblance of reality. Movie critics have argued that “Children of Men” borrows many elements from real events, including the Holocaust and the Iraq War. Through its futuristic setting, “Children of Men” depicts a story with realistic elements. However, its version of the future has yet to pass. Beginning in 2009, humans mysteriously began to grow infertile. By 2027, humanity is on the brink of complete extinction, and the United Kingdom is one of the few functioning civilizations. It becomes a safe haven for many fleeing their own collapsing countries, but illegal immigrants are summarily hunted down and executed. Thankfully, this has all remained a non-issue thanks to humanity’s continued fertility. Whew.

#10: All Literature Is Banned

“Fahrenheit 451” (1966)
Ray Bradbury’s iconic novel is generally regarded as a masterpiece of dystopian science fiction. Published in 1953 and inspired by the practices of McCarthyism, “Fahrenheit 451” depicts a 2049 that is plagued by rampant book burnings. All books are hunted down and burned by “firemen” to prevent revolutionary thinking. At the same time, certain groups are dedicated to the preservation of literature and act in defiance against the totalitarian government. The novel was adapted for film in 1966, and despite its mixed critical reception, Bradbury was happy with the result. While there have been headlines about groups or places banning certain books over the years, we thankfully haven’t gotten remotely close to the mass book burnings of this cautionary tale.

#9: No Crime

“Demolition Man” (1993)
We’d love to see a society without crime or violence, but alas, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. “Demolition Man” takes place in a seemingly utopian 2032. The cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Barbara have merged into a megalopolis known as San Angeles, and this area does not experience crime. It has also prohibited elements that are deemed immoral or destructive to society, including alcohol, meat, and even sports. Thus, its authority figures are unequipped to deal with violent crime. The movie is a nice bit of satire, but its depiction of the future has not come to light. Crimes are still being committed, San Angeles is not real, and most importantly, we can still drink while watching football.

#8: Space Travel

“Just Imagine” (1930)
At least this movie’s title acknowledges its outlandish imagination. “Just Imagine” was released in 1930 and depicts a version of 1980 that is wildly futuristic even by today’s standards. People have names like LN-18 and J-21. Food and drink have been completely replaced by nutrient pills. But perhaps the most outlandish idea is the concept of space travel. Rocket planes have the capability to carry people to Mars. Not only that, but humans apparently have a friendly relationship with the local Martian royalty, Queen Looloo and King Loko. We love the idea of space travel and being buddy-buddy with Martians, but then again, science fiction is fun. Reality is boring.

#7: Time Travel Police

“Timecop” (1994)
Time travel has long been a popular subject of science fiction, yet it still hasn’t been made a reality. At least, as far as we know. In this movie’s version of 2004, time travel has been invented and is policed by the Time Enforcement Commission. Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as the titular timecop, who polices the unlawful use of time travel. For example, he uncovers an illegal operation to financially benefit from the stock market crash of 1929. It’s a very fun concept, and time travel usually makes for very interesting and thought-provoking stories. Alas, it will forever remain an element of science fiction. Or, is that just what they want us to think?

#6: Hoverboards & Flying Cars

“Back to the Future Part II” (1989)
When it comes to depictions of “the future,” “Back to the Future Part II” is easily one of the best and most realistic. It actually got a lot of things right, like smart home technology and tablet computers. But many elements still remain within the realm of science fiction. In this movie’s version of 2015, flying cars travel through freeways in the sky, running shoes lace themselves, and hoverboards are seemingly commonplace. Not “hoverboards” that run on wheels - real hoverboards. These are all great ideas, and some seem well on their way to becoming a reality. For example, a real hoverboard piloted by Canadian Catalin Alexandru Duru (cawtta-LEEN alexan-drew DOO-roo) traveled over 900 feet in 2015. Start saving your money!

#5: Killer Robots & A Future War

“The Terminator” (1984)
Most of “The Terminator” takes place in the then-present day of 1984, but it concerns a robot who has been sent back in time from the future. “The future” is 2029, and it is an apocalyptic hellscape populated by killer robots. Sentient androids have waged a nuclear war against humanity, and they hunt down the survivors with lasers and giant vehicles. Artificial intelligence is a growing concern in our current technological climate, but it’s far from waging nuclear war against humanity. Furthermore, laser-shooting weapons have still not been adopted, despite their prevalence in science fiction. It’s very possible that humanity will overdo it with technology, but for now, we don’t have to worry about a world-ending robot uprising.

#4: Weather-Altering Satellites

“Geostorm” (2017)
This sci-fi disaster film was released in 2017 and takes place in an alternate reality 2022. In this reality, the world has been decimated by various natural disasters. In a vain attempt to save the world from Mother Nature’s wrath, various climate-controlling satellites are sent into space. These satellites have the capability to prevent typhoons, but they begin malfunctioning and inadvertently cause the titular geostorm. Unfortunately, weather modification is still a very long way from becoming a reality. Various operations have been attempted in years past, including the practice of cloud seeding. But preventing natural disasters with special satellites remains in the realm of science fiction, and it will stay there for quite some time.

#3: Vampire Virus

“I Am Legend” (2007)
This movie’s version of 2012 shows a world ravaged by death, loneliness, and vampire-like beings. In the late 2000s, scientists were attempting to cure cancer by genetically re-engineering the measles virus. However, the attempt proves woefully disastrous and wipes out 99% of Earth’s population. Most people died after contracting the virus, and those who did not die were turned into bloodthirsty vampire creatures. Deadly viruses are certainly a topical theme, and humanity seems to be living on the very brink of destruction. But thankfully, this movie’s prediction about a world-ending, vampire-causing virus has yet to become a reality. Virus, yes. World-ending virus that turns people into vampires, no.

#2: A Totalitarian Superpower

“Nineteen Eighty-Four” (1984)
Like “Fahrenheit 451,” George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is widely regarded as a masterpiece of dystopian fiction. The film accurately translates the worldbuilding of Orwell’s horrifying novel, depicting a London ravaged by the totalitarian powers of Oceania. History is rewritten, political thoughts are censored, citizens are brainwashed, and Big Brother watches over all. Much has been written about the novel’s accuracy, and it was made especially relevant after Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the NSA’s surveillance. Concepts such as “doublethink,” “thought crime,” and “Big Brother” are still referenced today. But luckily, the totalitarian hellhole that is this movie’s 1984 did not become reality. There are certainly shades of truth here, and it’s likely that Orwell was exaggerating in order to make a point.

#1: The World Did Not End

“2012” (2009)
According to some, the world was supposed to end on December 21, 2012. This was the end of the Maya Long Count calendar, and many thought that the Mayans had predicted the apocalypse. Enter the blockbuster movies! Released by Sony in 2009, “2012” depicted the apocalypse that was supposed to be just three short years away. Yellowstone erupts, earthquakes shake the very foundation of the world, and megatsunamis wash away entire cities and civilizations. Of course, nothing of the sort actually happened. December 22 dawned as bright as any other day, and the world carried on as normal. There were no earthquakes, no megatsunamis, and Yellowstone remained idle. That would have made for a pretty boring disaster movie.
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