TV Tropes Monday: Used Future



Tweet of the Day: Character Trait Entry: Maturity


Not all visions of the future are shiny and bright. Some fester with overcrowded cities, reused tech held together with forgotten prayers and spitballs. Everything looks like it is on the verge of collapse. A collection of whatever is available that may have seen better days.

That is Used Future in a nutshell.

Popularized by movies like Star Wars and Alien, ships of the used future seem like a collection of odds parts thrown together, which in the case of Star Wars was not far from the truth, since the model designers basically took hundreds of ship models kits and mashed them together to make space ships. It is a great way to show a “lived in” atmosphere. Real people living under real conditions. Battle damage, extended use, extensive travel, all take their told on equipment and it shows. Used Future can be used to denote socioeconomic boundaries as well. Rough and ready wildcatters, smugglers and cargo haulers versus shiny warships, cruise ships and luxury space yachts. One side shows function over form while the other displays the reverse.

A common version of this trope is to show the once mighty ship, all spit and polish in the beginning grounded down to a flying wreck or have the flying Winnebago fly circles around the much vaunted star cruiser. Expect to see the crew of the former spend more time repairing and less time swapping the decks.  It also serves as a convenient entry point for the rule of drama.  Mr. Murphy loves the used future.

Just ask Hand Solo and Captain Mal.



2 comments on “TV Tropes Monday: Used Future

  1. You know, I’ve never thought of the future in quite this way, but it totally is often depicted as grungy and well-used. Never heard of the term Used Future, but it definitely fits. Boba Fett, anyone?


    • Which is ironic considering that current technology emphasizes shine and brightness, i.e. the “Everything will be an iPod in the Future” trope which in itself is a call back to the 1960s. curves and color palette.

      Thanks for the comment. 😀


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