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A work set in the future will often take elements of the present day and refer to them as a way to show that it is our future and not a fictional place. One form this can take is for there to be a reference to a contemporary Long Runner, and show that it is still going strong.
The chosen long runner is usually one that is well known for having several Numbered Sequels, which means all you need do is bump the number up by a few dozen.
Usually a throwaway gag, or incidental background detail for the eagle eyed.
But as nothing dates quite as fast as science fiction, the reference might pass a later audience by altogether.
This trope was popularised in The Eighties, and the two most common film franchises joked about in the earliest examples were Rocky and Jaws, the former because it had already produced an unusually large number of Numbered Sequels, and the latter because it was often regarded as a Cash Cow Franchise remaking the same film over and over again, so conceivably they could carry on doing it forever.
- One The Incredible Hulk comic had a marquee in one of the panels announcing that the movie Jaws 37 or something was playing.
- DC One Million is set in the 853 Century on the date that Action Comics #1000000 (their oldest property) will be published. despite being the source of the title of the series this fact never comes up in the story line.
- Back to The Future II had a holographic advertisement for Jaws 19, directed by Max Spielberg, with the tagline: "This time it's really, REALLY personal." All Marty has to say is, "The shark still looks fake."
- Spaceballs features a reference to Rocky 5000.
- In Robot Wars, there was a background gag where a group of people are walkign through an abandoned city, and you can see a theater marquee with something like Puppet Master 57.
- In Airplane! II: The Sequel, as Sonny Bono buys the bomb in the spaceport gift shop, a poster for Rocky XXXVIII is shown behind him.
- In Real Steel there is a promo for the Xbox 720
- In fairness, that would be the natural followup to the Xbox 360.
- The Will Smith I Am Legend had an advertisement for a Batman/Superman crossover movie.
- Robot Jox had a movie theater marquee showing a Puppet Master sequel that was far ahead of the time. (Does anyone remember the exact number it showed?) Also counts as a Shout-Out, since David Allen did special effects work on both movie series.
- The Company Novels have an anglophilic character a few centuries in the future who's memorized the names of all three-hundred-and-some actors to play the Doctor.
- In a German novel called 2049, set in that year, the protagonists see an ad for Star Wars - the fourth trilogy.
- "Ridiculous" isn't quite the word here given the low number and the actual franchise's reach, but one story of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers mentions an old (mid-21st century) film: Rocky VIII: The Clone Factor!
- SCTV had Jaws 23, in which the town of Amity has actually become dependent on shark attacks to draw the tourist trade.
- Red Dwarf has a passing mention of Friday the 13 th: Part 1,649.
- This was a common gag in the Twenty Minutes Into the Future show Alien Nation.
- Weird Al named his parody of "Eye of the Tiger" as "Theme from Rocky XIII".
- Deus Ex Human Revolution, set in 2027, has a poster for a Final Fantasy XXVII, a nod to Eidos' then-recent acquisition by Square Enix. Though given when the game takes place, and the actual rate at which the games have come out (14 as of 2011, with a 15th already being planned), the number isn't really "ridiculous", and if it keeps up the pace it's held, Square Enix might very well be putting out a 27th game around that time.
- Space Quest IV, with its Time Travel theme, labelled its various time periods using sequel numbers. The post-apocalyptic future into which Roger was initially thrown is identified as Space Quest XII; the galactic mall in the Space Quest X period also tosses a reference to King's Quest XXXXVIII: The Quest For More Disk Space (back in the days before CD-ROM drives) stated to be by Roberta Williams III.
- A PDA message in Doom 3 says "The new Quake-43 game blows my mind."
- The Decline of Videogaming did this with about everything.
Yahtzee: Once your budget hits seven digits you're supposed to make Gun Battle Slap Fight Thirty-Seven for the Playstation Twelve...!
- On an episode of The Jetsons George watches a clip from Rocky 912.
- The Simpsons brought us Star Trek XII: So Very Tired a couple years before Star Trek Generations was released, which was the seventh in the franchise.
- But that movie featured the casts of both the original Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation, signaling that the franchise was moving in a radically different direction. The joke presumes that they were just going to continue releasing Star Trek sequels with the original actors (it should be noted that they did revert to the original characters by the 11th movie).
- Family Guy: in Rocky VI (which came out before Rocky Balboa did) Rocky goes to Mars for a fight.
Adrian: Rocky, please don't go to Mars and fight the Martian.