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Top 10 TV Shows That Predicted the Future and Got It Right

by Deana J. Samuels
fact checked by Jamie Frater

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 keyword here is “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’s nuclear factory. The glowing runoff from the plant mutated the little goldfish into a bug-eyed 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 nowhere to be found. Blink thrice if you need a rescue, Blinky![1]

9Person of Interest—Snowden

Person Of Interest (TV) says about PRISM and NSA in 2011, incredible!

In 2012, the writers of rel=”noopener” target=”_blank” hit on a great idea: what if we wrote about a boyishly handsome young CIA agent who discovers that the U.S. government is spying on American citizens illegally and tries to tell the world? In the show, he had to dodge assassins and agents as he met secretly with reporters to spread the word of the government’s dirty dealings.

In real life, it was much the same, as Edward Snowden ran from the government, roaming country to country after exposing the U.S. Government for the illegal mass surveillance of its citizens and citizens of other countries.

Truth is usually stranger than fiction, but sometimes the two collide and sync in the worst possible areas.[2]

8Quantum Leap—Super Bowl 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 oodles of predictions about the future, almost all of them wrong.

Almost all. There was, of course, the Super Bowl XXX prediction.

The episode “All Americans,” which premiered in 1990, opens with Sam watching Super Bowl 30, a game that 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 in the Super Bowl but were trailing by 3 points halfway through.[3]

7Legends of Chamberlain Heights—Kobe Bryant’s Death

Legends of Chamberlain Heights |”End of Days” 11/16/16 Kobe Bryant’s Death in Helicopter crash

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 in 2020 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.[4]

6The Simpsons—President Trump

No discussion of predictions could be complete without noting 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 had become a reality, and I, for one, could not be laughing harder, though I suspect Hillary Clinton skips this episode when she binges the show![5]

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5Scrubs—Osama Bin Laden Location

Scrubs, a comedy-drama about the day-to-day happenings at 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—his wife’s 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 instead of Afghanistan.

Imagine the surprise when he was actually found hiding in Pakistan! Thanks for the tip, Janitor![6]


FRIENDS- Ross is dead and no one cares

A year before Facebook would be unveiled to the world, the 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 become Facebook—the most successful social media site to exist to date, which would grow and amass such a large user base that it is still used by over 2 billion people more than a decade later. It is written as nothing more than a joke, but it is still an incredible prediction of what was to come only a year later.[7]

3Parks and Recreation—Cubs Win

Parks and Rec predicted the cubs ws 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 prediction: the Cubs winning 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 championship title 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.[8]

2Spooks—London Subway Bombings

Spooks (MI5) – Station Bomb

This BBC drama—the title is a colloquialism for spies—followed a team of British secret agents devoted to stopping terrorists before they could strike. If only life was like this, where the good guys always prevail, and terrorist attacks can be stopped before they happened.

In June of 2005, the show filmed an episode about terrorists trying (and failing) to bomb train stations in London. Exactly a month later, actual terrorists attempted the same thing; only they succeeded in killing 52 people and injuring more than 500. Even more chillingly, the fictional terrorists in Spooks tried to detonate a bomb at Kings Cross Station, the same spot the real terrorists chose for one of their deadly attacks. The creators were so disturbed that they briefly considered pulling the episode completely but eventually opted to include a disclaimer at the beginning, assuring viewers that what they were about to see wasn’t based on actual events.[9]

And it seems, other “predictions” have also been seen on episodes of Spooks. Maybe the writers have access to a time machine after all.

1Star Trek—iPad

Star Trek – Picard Has iPad

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 show’s 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.[10]

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fact checked by Jamie Frater
Deana J. Samuels

Deana Samuels is a freelance writer who will write anything for money, enjoys good food and learning interesting facts. She also has far too many plush toys for a grown woman with bills and responsibilities.