15 Movies That Predicted the Future


For better and for worse, some movies are better about predicting the future than others. Nobody wants to eat Soylent Green, but we’re OK with most of these elements from other movies coming true.

1. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey predicted video calls and Siri-like artificial intelligence—though Siri hasn’t gone murderous like HAL 9000 (knock on wood). 2001 also predicted space tourism, which isn’t real yet, though tech moguls like Richard Branson and Elon Musk are working on it.



What hasn’t the Star Trek franchise predicted? A big get for Star Trek is the cell phone; inventor Martin Cooper, whose team at Motorola built the first cell, has cited Captain Kirk’s communicator as one of his influences. Wrist-worn communicators are a precursor to the modern smartwatch, the PADD (or Personal Access Data Device) is basically just a tablet, and doesn’t the earpiece Uhura wears look an awful lot like an early Bluetooth headset? In Star Trek: The Next Generation, the replicator—a device that seemingly synthesizes food out of thin air—was introduced; the details aren’t the same, but looked at in a general sense, it’s basically a fancy, futuristic 3D printer.


Airplane II: The Sequel

accurately predicted full-body scanners at airports, of the sort that have come to be used in just the past few years (though Airplane II’s version of those scanners is, er, a bit more NSFW than they are in real life).

4. BLADE RUNNER (1982)


Gigantic digital billboards are a familiar sight to those who live in New York, Tokyo, and other big cities, but in 1982—the year Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner came out—they were still a thing of the future. Blade Runner is also one of a handful of sci-fi movies that had its characters making video calls with technology that did not yet exist in the real world.


Skynet might not have sprung up to kill us all (yet), but there’s one thing from The Terminator franchise that did come true: the existence of military drones. (Military robots were also predicted, albeit in a more benign way, in the 1986 comedy Short Circuit.)


We may not have flying cars or hoverboards quite yet, but Back to the Future Part II did predict wearable tech, à la Google Glass. In the Back to the Future franchise’s version of 2015, Marty McFly’s kids can take calls on futuristic phones that they wear as sunglasses.

7. TOTAL RECALL (1990)

Uber, Tesla, and Google, among other companies, are working on bringing self-driving cars to the road; though we have a ways to go before members of the general public can buy them, the tech does exist and is being further developed. But the Arnold Schwarzenegger action vehicle Total Recall got there first, even if its self-driving cars are equipped with a robot taxi driver named “Johnny Cab.” Tesla probably won’t use that one.


Joe Dante’s Gremlins 2: The New Batch may not have been the most realistic film (remember that Hulk Hogan fourth wall break?), but it still managed to get an accurate prediction in there by accident. With its automatic doors, lights, and, well, automatic everything else, the high-tech skyscraper Clamp Tower, where most of the movie’s action takes place, was a precursor to modern day “smart home” technology. Of course, that tech was played for laughs in The New Batch, where it constantly broke down.

9. HACKERS (1995)

Much of the tech in Hackers looks pretty damned goofy nowadays, but there’s one thing it got right: virtual reality gaming. In one scene, evil hacker Eugene (sorry, evil hacker “The Plague”) can be seen playing a video game on something that looks remarkably like an Oculus Rift.

10. THE NET (1995)

The Net

is one of those movies that, in retrospect, looks “somewhat hokey” (that’s us being polite). Set in 1995, it depicted online identity theft before that was a thing that really happened. More importantly, it predicted a golden age when we’d be able to order pizza without leaving our houses or talking to another human being. Where would we be without that?

11. THE CABLE GUY (1996)

“The future is now. Soon, every American home will integrate their television, phone, and computer! You’ll be able to visit the Louvre on one channel and watch female mud wrestling on another! You can do your shopping at home, or play Mortal Kombat with your friend in Vietnam.” That’s Jim Carrey’s crazy Cable Guy character in Ben Stiller’s movie of the same name. Only he’s not so crazy, is he? Not about using your computer to watch female mud wrestling, at least.

12. FACE/OFF (1997)

Who’d have thought that any part of the uber-campy John Woo action movie Face/Off, in which an FBI agent (John Travolta) and a terrorist (Nicolas Cage) switch faces, would ever come true? And yet, here we are. Facial transplant technology has come a long way over the past few decades, with the most extensive transplant surgery ever having taken place last year.

13. THE TRUMAN SHOW (1998)

Another Jim Carrey movie that predicted the future is The Truman Show, in which Truman Burbank (Carrey) unwittingly stars in a reality TV show that the entire world is obsessed with. It’s a great piece of commentary on the Kardashian era, except The Truman Show came out in 1998. There was some reality TV then, notably MTV’s The Real World, but this was still pre-Survivor; reality TV was nowhere close to the powerhouse that it would eventually become.


Back in 2002, the notion of targeted ads was a small but still vaguely creepy aspect of Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report. Now Facebook has picked up the mantle, and how; search out tips on how to start a garden, and next time you update your Facebook status you’ll get an ad for shovels. Minority Report also predicted gesture-based computing; the Nintendo Wii or Xbox 360 Kinect are decidedly less flashy than the tech Tom Cruise and his future cops work with, but it’s still the same concept.

15. I AM LEGEND (2007)

It’s not in line with cell phones, 3D printing, or drones, but I Am Legend predicted the existence of this year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In a scene where Robert Neville (Will Smith) wanders around a post-apocalyptic Times Square, a poster for a Batman/Superman team-up film can clearly be seen; the logos of the real film and its fictional doppelgänger are quite similar.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

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7 People Killed by Musical Instruments

On occasion, a piano has been a literal instrument of death.
On occasion, a piano has been a literal instrument of death.
Pixabay, Pexels // Public Domain

We’re used to taking it figuratively. One “slays” on guitar, is a “killer” pianist, or wants to “die” listening to a miraculous piece of music. History, though, is surprisingly rich with examples of people actually killed by musical instruments. Some were bludgeoned and some crushed; others were snuffed out by the sheer effort of performing or while an instrument was devilishly played to cover up the crime. Below are seven people who met their end thanks to a musical instrument.

1. Elizabeth Jackson // Struck with a Flute

A German flute.The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments (1889), Metropolitan Museum of Art // Public Domain

David Mills was practicing his flute the night of March 25, 1751, when he got into a heated argument with fellow servant Elizabeth Jackson. A woman “given to passion,” she threw a candlestick at Mills after he said something rude. He retaliated by striking her left temple with his flute before the porter and the footman pulled them apart. Jackson lived for another four hours, able to walk but not make sensible speech. Her fellow servants decided to bleed her, a sadly ineffective treatment for skull fractures. “Her s[k]ull was remarkably thin,” the surgeon testified at Mills’s trial.

2. Louis Vierne // Exhausted by an Organ Recital

Louis Vierne plays the organ of St.-Nicolas du Chardonnet in Paris, France.Source: gallica.bnf.fr, Bibliothèque nationale de France // Public Domain

Reputed to be the king of instruments, the organ requires a performer with an athletic endurance—more than 67-year-old Louis Vierne had to give during a recital at Notre Dame cathedral on June 2, 1937. He collapsed (likely of a heart attack) after playing the last chord of a piece. With a Gallic appreciation for tragedy, one concertgoer noted the piece “bears a title which, given the circumstance, seems like fate and takes on an oddly disturbing meaning: ‘Tombstone for a dead child’!” As Vierne’s lifeless feet fell upon the pedalboard “a low whimper was heard from the admirable instrument, which seemed to weep for its master,” the concertgoer wrote.

3. James “Jimmy the Beard” Ferrozzo // Crushed by a Piano

The exterior of the Condor Club in 1973.Michael Holley, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Getting crushed by a piano is usually the stuff of cartoons, but what happened to James Ferrozzo is somehow even stranger than a cartoon. “A nude, screaming dancer found trapped under a man’s crushed body on a trick piano pinned against a nightclub ceiling was too drunk to remember how she got there,” the AP reported the day after the 1983 incident. The dancer was a new employee at San Francisco’s Condor Club (said to be one of the first, if not the first, topless bar). The man was her boyfriend, the club’s bouncer. And the trick piano was part of topless-dancing pioneer Carol Doda’s act—a white baby grand that lowered her from the second floor. During Ferrozzo’s assignation with the dancer, the piano’s switch was somehow activated, lifting him partway to heaven before deadly contact with the ceiling sent him the rest of the way.

4. Linos // Killed with a Lyre

A student and his music teacher, holding a lyre—potentially Herakles and Linos.Petit Palais, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.5

One of the greatest music teachers of mythic Ancient Greece, Linos took on Herakles as a pupil. According to the historian Diodorus Siculus, the demi-god “was unable to appreciate what was taught him because of his sluggishness of soul,” and so after a harsh reprimand he flew into a rage and beat Linos to death with his lyre. Herakles dubiously used a sort of ancient stand-your-ground law as a defense during trial and was exonerated. Poor Linos: an honest man beaten by a lyre.

5. Sophia Rasch // Suffocated While a Piano Muffled her Screams

Pixabay, Pexels

No one better proves George Bernard Shaw’s quip that “hell is full of musical amateurs” than Susannah Koczula. “I have seen Susannah trying to play the piano several times—she could not play,” 10-year-old Carl Rasch testified at Koczula’s 1894 trial. Susannah, the Rasch’s caregiver, distracted little Carl, sister Clara, and their neighborhood friend Woolf with an impromptu performance while a gruesome scene unfolded upstairs: Koczula’s husband tied and suffocated Carl and Clara’s mother, Sophia Rasch, before making off with her jewelry. “She banged the piano,” explained Woolf. “I heard no halloaing.”

6. Marianne Kirchgessner // A Nervous Disorder Acquired Playing the Glass Armonica

According to one doctor, Ben Franklin's instrument caused "a great degree of nervous weakness."Ji-Elle, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Benjamin Franklin invented the glass harmonica, or armonica, in 1761, unleashing a deadly scourge upon the musical world. “It was forbidden in several countries by the police,” wrote music historian Karl Pohl in 1862, while Karl Leopold Röllig warned in 1787 that “It’s not just the gentle waves of air that fill the ear, but the charming vibrations and constant strain of the bowls upon the already delicate nerves of the fingers that combine to produce diseases which are terrible, maybe even fatal.” In 1808, when Marianne Kirchgessner, Europe’s premiere glass armonica virtuoso, died at the age of 39, many suspected nervousness brought on by playing the instrument.

7. Charles Ratherbee // Lung Disease Possibly Caused by Playing the Trumpet

A valve trumpet made by Elbridge G. Wright, circa 1845.Purchase, Robert Alonzo Lehman Bequest (2002), Metropolitan Museum of Art // Public Domain

One summer day in 1845, Charles Ratherbee, a trumpeter, got into a fight with Joseph Harvey, who rented space in a garden from Ratherbee and was sowing seeds where the trumpeter had planned to plant potatoes. When confronted, Harvey became upset and knocked Ratherbee to the ground with his elbow. Two weeks and five days later, Ratherbee was dead.

Harvey was arrested for Ratherbee’s death, but a doctor pinpointed another killer: An undiagnosed lung disease made worse by his musical career. “The blowing of a trumpet would decidedly increase [the disease],” the surgeon testified at Harvey’s manslaughter trial. When asked if he was “in a fit state to blow a trumpet” the surgeon replied bluntly, “No.” Harvey was acquitted and given a suspended sentence for assault. The trumpet was never charged.