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"Present day...Heh! Present time! Ahahahaha!"
The opening of every episode of Serial Experiments Lain

Right now, the moment you begin reading this trope entry, the story in which this trope takes place is occuring.

Earth at approximately the time the series was made. Most things are as they would be in real life.

95% of shows are set in this time. Some series take this further, constantly reminding the viewers that whatever is happening now, is happening now.

Compare Twenty Minutes Into the Future, Next Sunday AD. When a work is set in the recent past, but treats it as if it were Present Day to the point of including anachronisms, it's a Present Day Past. If a work tries a bit too hard to look hip and cool in the present day, it'll likely come across as an Unintentional Period Piece later on.

Examples of Present Day include:

Anime and Manga

  • The anime Serial Experiments Lain (the Trope Namer) opens each episode with a voice saying "Present day. Present time." and then laughing, even though much of the technology suggest the show probably takes place in the future or some alternate world.
    • Many fans speculate that the ending turns this strange "present day" into the present day as we know it through Reality Warping. There's still a detail or two that don't quite fit in, though.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho shows us what happens when this is used and Technology Marches On--who uses VCRs anymore? Its setting is thus relegated to sometime in the mid-nineties, when the series was made. It helps that no actual dates are mentioned.

Comic Books

  • The first issue of Y: The Last Man takes place roughly now.
    • For values of "now" equal to "2002", since that's when it was released, and actual dates are given in-series to confirm this.


Live-Action TV

  • 24: "events occur in real-time". Even when several years or months pass between seasons, the day occurring is always implied to be the present.
  • Community.
  • Although the main story line of How I Met Your Mother takes place in the Present Day, this is actually a Flash Back, as Ted is telling the story to his kids in 2030. Some episodes even have flashbacks (FlashForwards?) to events that take place between the two.
  • Surprising for a show told in Anachronic Order, but Lost began this way, with the plane crash occurring on September 22, 2004, the same date the show premiered. However, it has never been set in the present after, instead being in the near-present: seasons 1-4 covered late 2004 to really early 2005 and the main action of season 5 takes place in 2007 and 1977.
  • FlashForward is making a serious effort at this, with the date of the "blackout" being about when it first aired, and the date of the flashforward the expected date of the season finale.
  • Except for a few specific cases, Doctor Who has a sliding 'present' which lines up with the current real date, this is usually when the companion is from. Interesting enough partially avoided for the 5th series finale: although for much of the season they were counting down to July 26, 2010, the date of the season finale and destruction of the TARDIS, very little of the actual episode took place in that time period, dealing mostly with its time-spanning aftermath
  • Time Trax has criminals from the late 22nd century escaping to the present, or 1993, when the series aired.


  • Orson Welles' radio adaptation of War of the Worlds was infamous for use of this trope. Many listeners actually believed that the up-to-the-minute newscasts of an ongoing alien invasion were real.

Tabletop Games

  • Bliss Stage has the memorable back cover copy, "RIGHT NOW, the moment you begin reading this, Humanity is devastated by an alien attack from the edges of our understanding."

Video Games

  • Grand Theft Auto III has a good example of a "dated" present day: being made in 2001, Liberty City looks like any modern metropolis, but if you pay attention, you see how the 1998-2000 dot-com boom, when the businessmen discovered the Internet, is still in full strength.

Web Original

  • Survival of the Fittest is set more or less in the modern day, with slight variations (George Bush isn't the President, for example, replaced with a fictional President, and Japan uses the Battle Royale act like in the eponymous film and book, which gave Danya the idea), but is technically set a year behind the real world. For example, v3 is the current game, played in 2008, but in the SOTF world it's 2007. With v3 finally nearing its end after about two years of play, the setting is now further behind.

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons is an interesting use of "present day", because the show has been running so long and the characters never age. It becomes increasingly bizarre when characters have flashbacks to their childhoods. This is a case of a floating timeline.
  • Time Warp Trio was made in 2005. The "present" year as it is stated in the show? 2005, of course!
  1. though a food vendor's business permit and police records in GTA IV hint the game taking place in 2007 (the original expected year of release for the game) or later