7 TV Shows That Correctly Predicted The Future
Television is supposed to be entertainment. And it’s pretty deliciously entertaining when TV writers—be it to satirize, mock, or just look forward— try to predict the future. Sometimes they don’t even mean to, but TV shows have called out world events long before they happened. Here are some eerie examples of some silly little TV shows that somehow knew what was going to happen before the rest of us did.
The Chris Rock Show knew OJ did it before OJ did
During the very first sketch in the very first episode of his eponymous HBO show, Chris Rock aired a sketch imagining O.J. Simpson hawking a videotape called I Didn’t Kill My Wife, But If I Did, Here’s How I’d Do It. It brutally mocked Simpson, acquitted for the murder of his ex-wife in 1995 but still widely believed to be guilty. Amazingly, Simpson imitated that tacit admission of guilt in real life, with almost the exact same title, with his 2006 book If I Did It. To promote it, he taped a TV special called If I Did It, Here’s How it Happened. After protests, both projects were cancelled.
Family Guy predicts Bruce Jenner’s gender transition
Ninety-nine percent of the time, the asides and cutaways on Family Guy are throwaway gags and digs at celebrities, and when it first aired in 2009, this one was seemingly no exception. In the bit, baby Stewie Griffin remarks that in actuality Bruce Jenner is “an elegant, beautiful Dutch woman”—years before Jenner announced that she now identifies as a woman and goes by Caitlyn Jenner. (As far as we know, she still isn’t Dutch).
An X-Files spinoff envisions the 9/11 attacks
The Lone Gunmen was a mostly comic spinoff of The X-Files. A notable exception: the time the short-lived show predicted the events of 9/11 months before they happened. The characters known as the Lone Gunmen had appeared occasionally on The X-Files as conspiracy theorists who were often correct. On the first episode of their own show, they uncovered a conspiracy about the U.S. government planning to crash an airplane into the World Trade Center, blame it on foreigners, and then use the resultant outcry to justify raising the defense budget. Real-life conspiracy theories about the government having a role in the events of 9/11 aside, it’s chilling that some TV show in early 2001 suggested the possibility of an airplane flying into the WTC.
An obscure sitcom in 1987 pinpoints when Muammar Gaddafi will die
One of the first-ever shows on the Fox Network was the little-remembered 1987 sitcom Second Chance. It’s about a man named Charles who, in the far-off future year of 2011, dies in a hovercraft accident, goes to Heaven, and is sent back to Earth to be a friend and guide to his younger self. Second Chance is notable for two things: first, future Friends star Matthew Perry played the younger version of Charles. Secondly—and more importantly, for our purposes here—just before Charles meets St. Peter to determine his fate in the afterlife, Libyan dictator and real-life ’80s villain Muammar Gaddafi learns he’s going to Hell. This means on the show, Gaddafi died in 2011—which totally happened in the real 2011. (Still no hoverboards, though.)
A British spy show predicted the 2005 London Underground bombings
On July 7, 2005, a series of bombs planted by terrorists exploded in the London Underground subway system, killing 52 people and injuring more than 500. A few months earlier, the British espionage series Spooks had filmed—but not yet aired—an episode in which terrorists detonate bombs and injure dozens. In both, bombs had been planted at Kings Cross Station. The Spooks episode ultimately did air a few months after the real-life attacks, but with a disclaimer at the top of the show.
Quantum Leap knew the outcome of the 1996 Super Bowl
It seems like he usually jumped into the body of a woman or someone associated with the JFK assassination, but in a 1990 episode of Quantum Leap, Sam (Scott Bakula) quantum leaped into the body of a high school football player. In keeping with the football theme of the episode, Sam’s holographic advisor Al mentions that he’s watching the 1996 Super Bowl, and that “The Steelers are down by 3. You wouldn’t believe…” Sounds like an intense, late-game moment. And it’s one that happened at Super Bowl XXX in 1996 for real—even the team was right. The Pittsburgh Steelers were in the game, and with a few minutes to go, the team was down by 3. (They ultimately lost to the Dallas Cowboys. Oh boy.)
The Simpsons called it: President Trump
The Simpsons have a lot of episodes set in the future, but they’re usually just ways for the writers to make jokes about how the future is just as messed up as the present. For example, in a future-set episode where Lisa is in college, humanoid robots are commonplace…except they catch fire and melt anytime they feel human emotion. In the same episode, phone calls are made via video, just like on FaceTime or Skype. That’s a mixed track record, so you shouldn’t get too excited one way or the other at a 2000 episode’s prediction: newly elected President Lisa Simpson inherits a country left in shambles by the previous commander-in-chief, Donald Trump.