From the election to the apocalypse: How TV and movies imagined 2020

Jon San
Supervising Producer, Yahoo Entertainment

In terms of politics and the future of our country, 2020 could not be more uncertain. But instead of listening to cable news pundits, maybe instead we should be re-watching the musical-comedy drama show Glee?

A surprising number of TV shows and movies have imagined what 2020 will look like. Some of them are funny, some of them are scary, and one — just one — totally hit the jackpot.

The Funny Predictions

Glee (2009-2015)

In 2015, before Donald Trump was elected President, the Glee series finale jumped ahead to 2020… and made some interesting predictions: Jeb Bush is running for re-election as president with a surprising vice president: series villain and former cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester.

Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) played the fearsome cheerleading coach in Glee. In the series finale, she's revealed to have become the vice president in 2020. (Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Considering that Bush crashed and burned in 2016, it’s highly unlikely he’ll run again in 2020 — against his own party no less.

Also in Glee world, Sylvester announces that she plans on running for president in 2024. One can only imagine that her fictional competition will include real-life 2024 candidate Kanye West.

The Simpsons (1989-Present)

On a similar note, The Simpsons is a show that’s been notorious for predicting the future. One clip in particular had people claiming they were correct about Trump becoming President.

In a 2015 episode called “Barthood” (a spoof on the movie Boyhood) set in 2020, Lisa gets picked up in Apple’s latest gadget: a (presumably) self-driving Apple Car, which resembles an apple. Marge chimes in, “I really think they should have stuck with computers.”

It’s true that the tech company is moving forward in terms of self-driving cars but it’s unlikely we’ll see any in the near future. Instead, we only have the monstrous Tesla Cybertruck to look forward to (in 2021).

The Scary Predictions

As you can expect, a lot of past shows and movies predicted that in 2020, the world’s population would be destroyed by a catastrophe, infected by a killer virus, or replaced by robots — you know, the usual dystopian stuff. Let’s get it over with.

Reign of Fire (2002)

The 2002 movie Reign of Fire saw humanity replaced by dragons. Dragons? In 2020? C’mon, they were so 2019.

Real Steel (2011)

In 2011, the movie Real Steel predicted that in 2020, humans would be replaced by robots. Sorry, human boxers replaced by robots. Everyone else seems pretty much OK. 

The Last Man on Earth (2015-2018)

The recent TV show, The Last Man on Earth, imagined the world in 2020 to be decimated by a deadly virus. But on the other hand, it also gave us Will Forte in this incredible haircut.

A Quiet Place (2018)

And finally, the 2018 movie A Quiet Place gave us blind aliens who really, really hate Jim Halpert. I guess that’s what you get for breaking the fourth wall.

Rest assured in 2020, the world will not be taken over by blind aliens as seen in A Quiet Place. (Courtesy: Everett Collection)

The Right Prediction

Akira (1988)

Making this prediction even more impressive is that it’s coming from 1988. That year, the classic anime film Akira came out.

In a very brief moment during a scene, a sign shows Japanese characters and the five rings of the Olympics. It translates to 147 days until the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Thirty-two years later, Akira was one hundred percent correct: Tokyo is, in fact, hosting the Summer Games next year.

Luckily for the human race, 2020 probably won’t follow in the footsteps of fictional TV shows and dystopian movies. One thing we can hope for, however, is for a very special cameo during the iconic countdown.

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