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The Nineties saw a wave of middle-brow adaptations of The Bard's plays, otften taking them to new and interesting territory. There was Henry IV with rent boys, a Fascist Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew in High School, Hamlet with lions, Romeo and Juliet with seizures...
Oancitizen', while reviewing another Shakespeare update, Tromeo and Juliet

Adaptations of old stories will frequently move them closer to the production in time and/or space, even if the original is only a couple of decades old, in a Derivative Works kind of Creator Provincialism.

Distinct from Recycled in Space in that the purpose is to make the story more familiar and accessible, whereas that trope is often based around transplanting a story into a less familiar setting. Also, by its nature, a Setting Update is typically made long after the original, whereas a Recycled Premise is usually a Me Too made to cash in on hot demand. Sometimes, especially with the more radical changes, it can be a genuinely clever analogy.

A Setting Update can still be described with IN SPACE! style, though, since that usually isn't all that's changed.

Related to Comic Book Time for long running series.

Examples of Setting Update include:

Anime & Manga

  • Generally takes place whenever an old manga is given an Animated Adaptation in more modern times:
    • Captain Tsubasa started in 1982. The newest series (from 2002 and 2018) include the Internet, computers and modern smartphones, among other stuff, and so does the most recent manga arc Rising Sun.
    • The above mentioned Black Jack also includes new technology in the most recent TV series, like the 2004 one. i.e, Pinoko is sometimes seen doing research on the web, and cases featuring letters tend to replace them with emails.
    • Pictured above: Sailor Moon Crystal started airing in 2014 and it uses tech accordingly: it has smartphones instead of pagers, CD's rather than floppy diskettes, modern laptops, etc. The first anime was aired from 1992 to 1997 and had laptops and internet, but mostly from the S season onwards (i.e, at the end of S Mamoru uses the 'Net in his laptop for research on the incident where Professor Tomoe and Hotaru somehow survived the destruction of his laboratory...)
    • The original Oniisama E manga is from The Seventies while the anime is from 1991, and it shows. i.e., Takehiko is using a typewriter for his thesis in the manga, but uses a desktop computer with floppy disks in the anime


  • In Marvel Comics or DC Comics superhero lines, almost any retelling of a character's origin will fall into this category, especially as regards technology, the status of minorities and who the President is. The only exceptions are characters whose origins are fixed in history, e.g. Captain America. (That said, compare the versions of Cap's awakening in the modern day from the original in Avengers #4-10, and the more recent Captain America: Man Out of Time miniseries for a perfect example of this trope.)


    • Only in the movie. The original play has an all African-American cast, but the setting is still the same of the book (and of the 1939 movie).
  • Shakespeare gets this treatment a lot[1]:
    • Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood was Macbeth WITH SAMURAI!
    • Akira Kurosawa's Ran was King Lear WITH SAMURAI!
    • Akira Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well was Hamlet IN MODERN DAY JAPAN!
    • Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres was King Lear ON A FARM IN IOWA! and from Goneril's (Ginny's) perspective.
    • The 2002 movie King Of Texas was King Lear IN TEXAS! Starring Patrick Stewart, no less.
    • Before the 2000 Hamlet, there was the black and white Danish film Hamlet Goes Business which was Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • Tromeo and Juliet is Romeo and Juliet IN MODERN MANHATTAN AS A TROMA FILM! Instead of dying, the title characters run off and get married despite turning out to be brother and sister. It is a Troma film, after all.
    • Kenneth Branagh's Love's Labour's Lost is Loves Labours Lost AS A MUSICAL SET IN THE 1930s!!!
      • Branagh's Hamlet also has an updated setting; not all the way to the 20th century, but still several centuries after the play was written.
      • He also did As You Like It set in 19th century Japan.
    • My Own Private Idaho is Henry VI Part 1 IN PORTLAND OREGON WITH MALE PROSTITUTES, ONE OF WHOM IS NARCOLEPTIC. No really, it is: Scott is Prince Hal, and Bob Pigeon is Falstaff.
    • Julie Taymor's Titus is Titus Andronicus IN AN Anachronism Stew OF ANCIENT ROMAN AND 20TH CENTURY ITALIAN SETTINGS!
    • All Night Long is Othello IN THE WORLD OF JAZZ
    • A 2010 PBS movie of Macbeth is set during the Russian Revolution, with Patrick Stewart in the lead role.
  • There was a movie called G that was The Great Gatsby WITH RAP STARS! "Black" versions of old stuff has become curiously common in recent years.
    • Not really a new thing. Ever hear of The Hot Mikado or Carmen Jones?
  • Clueless was Jane Austen's Emma IN A MODERN DAY HIGH SCHOOL!
  • The War of the Worlds is particularly prone to this in adaptations, with the 1938 radio play, the 1953 film, the 1980s TV series, and two of the three 2005 films moving the setting to the present day from the novel's 1902. Jeff Wayne's Rock Opera adaptation (and the PC game based on it), along with the third of the 2005 releases, are the only ones that keep the original setting.
  • The Film of the Book of Bridge to Terabithia moved from The Seventies to the Present Day.
    • Someone forgot to tell the guy in charge of getting a school bus for the movie, though.
  • Casino Royale (Notably, the 2006 movie had TEXAS HOLD-EM! in place of the 1953 book's baccarat.) In fact, most of the James Bond series qualifies, as each film is set during roughly the time period in which it was made.
  • The film adaptations of The Bourne Series, which was written in the '70s, which also necessitated major changes to the plot since the Ripped from the Headlines villains of the books was no longer relevant in the 2000s (being just a teensy bit in prison for the rest of his life).
  • The Saint and Mike Hammer have so far never appeared in film or TV adaptations in period pieces. The Armand Assante remake presented an updated story with Hammer as a Vietnam veteran instead of a Pacific Theater World War II veteran. Even though the last time Stacy Keach played Hammer aired over fifty years since the first appearance of Mike Hammer, it presented an updated story. Roger Moore's version of The Saint debuted over thirty years after the first appearance of the Saint in print in 1928, but presented an updated story, as did subsequent adaptations with Ian Ogilivy, Andrew Clarke, and Simon Dutton. The Val Kilmer film took place in contemporary times, arriving in theaters in 1997-almost seventy years after the Saint's debut.
  • Usually, adaptations of comic book heroes, no matter how many decades after the character's debut, appear as contemporary stories. For example, the 2008 Iron Man took place in contemporary times, even though it arrived 45 years after Iron Man's debut. (Exceptions, where the World War II roots of a property did appear in a TV or movie adaptation include Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman, which initially took place in World War II, and the Salinger Captain America film, whose early scenes took place during World War II.)
  • Scrooged is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol IN THE 1980s! It works, though, because of the cleverness of using a Show Within a Show concept — the Scrooge analogue is producing a live TV adaptation of the original A Christmas Carol, yet clearly misses the point until it happens to him.
  • The movie Guess Who? was a remake of the classic film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, updated to the modern day, WITH THE RACES REVERSED!
  • The Warriors is Xenophon's Anabasis WITH GANGS IN MODERN NEW YORK! Though this is a borderline case: Only the vague plot and some character names are similar.
  • Shortcut To Happiness is The Devil and Daniel Webster IN LAS VEGAS!
  • Cruel Intentions was Les Liaisons Dangereuses WITH TEENAGERS IN MODERN NEW YORK!
  • Swimfan was Fatal Attraction WITH TEENAGERS!
  • Dagon is The Shadow Over Innsmouth IN A SMALL SPANISH VILLAGE!
  • Apocalypse Now is Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness IN VIETNAM!
  • This used to be commonplace for Sherlock Holmes movies. For instance, only the first two of the Rathbone/Bruce series in the 1930's-1940's took place in the Victorian era. Nowadays the world is different enough that setting them in the present day would drastically affect the concept, which is probably why it's no longer done as often. (That said, guess what Steven Moffat's latest project is...)
  • Roxanne was a Lighter and Softer Cyrano De Bergerac Comically Missing the Point INAMERICA IN THE MID-LATE 1980'S! WITH STEVE MARTIN SWORDFIGHTING WITH A TENNIS RACQUET! AND HE AND CHRISTIAN ARE FIREMEN THAT But it was good.
  • Rear Window (1998) is Rear Window WITH A GENUINELY DISABLED ACTOR!!. While it's a well-made movie with an intense performance by Christopher Reeve, the gimmick factor was an Elephant in the Living Room.
  • The Outrage is Rashomon IN THE OLD WEST! WITH WILLIAM SHATNER!
  • The Faculty is Invasion of the Body Snatchers IN HIGH SCHOOL!
  • Three O'Clock High is High Noon IN HIGH SCHOOL!
  • Angels in the Outfield (1994) is Angels in the Outfield (1951) WITH A TEAM NAMED THE ANGELS! AND A KID! AND CHRISTOPHER LLOYD!
  • Mean Machine is The Longest Yard IN BRITAIN WITH THE OTHER KIND OF FOOTBALL!
  • Bridget Jones's Diary is Pride and Prejudice IN THE MODERN DAY!


Live-Action TV

    • Actually, a lot of people think it's more like "Sherlock Holmes AS A DOCTOR!" (lampshaded slightly when House is shot by Jack Moriarty)
    • The whole series has dozens of references to Sherlock Holmes.
      • The most obvious being House/Holmes and Wilson/Watson, but also the fact that there's a brilliant but reclusive person and a less-brilliant person who acts as their partner and sole friend.
  • The Brothers Garcia is The Wonder Years WITH HISPANICS!
  • Based on the premise, Stargate Universe may be Star Trek: Voyager... IN THE PRESENT!
  • Heroes is X-Men IN THE REAL WORLD!
  • There are two unrelated Russian TV miniseries, Graf Krestovsky (Count Krestovsky) and Favorsky, both of which are The Count of Monte Cristo IN PRESENT-DAY RUSSIA! And now there's a third one, aptly named Montekristo...
  • The New Odd Couple was The Odd Couple WITH BLACK PEOPLE!
  • Cosmo And George is Mork and Mindy IN SINGAPORE! WITH MINDY AS AN INDIAN GUY!
  • Stylista is The Devil Wears Prada AS A REALITY SHOW!
  • Murder, She Wrote is Ellery Queen AS A WOMAN
  • Castle is Murder, She Wrote WITH A HOT SINGLE FATHER!
  • There's a BBC Macbeth, made in 1997 and starring James Frain and Ray Winstone, set in A PRESENT DAY SLUM!
  • SeaQuest DSV was effectively Star Trek: The Next Generation OUT OF SPACE!, much more pronouncedly so after the end of TNG's run. (In the first seaQuest episode after TNG ended, an alien race arrives in a ship whose design was quite obviously lifted from that of the Borg Cube.)
  • Currently making waves across east Asia, the Korean revenge drama Cruel Temptation is The Count of Monte Cristo IN MODERN TIMES WITH GENDERFLIPS!
  • Choujinki Metalder is Android Kikaider SET IN THE The Eighties WITH A World War II BACKDROP!
  • Channel 4 schools programmes about Shakespeare often did this: Julius Cesear AS A MODERN DAY POLITICIAN! WITH MARK ANTHONY'S FINAL SPEECH BEING TELEVISED!; Macbeth ON A COUNCIL ESTATE! WITH TEENAGE WITCHES ON ROLLERBLADES!; Twelfth Night WITH THE ROUND SUNG BY SIR TOBY AND FESTE AS A RAP! Since they only did a couple of scenes, they didn't have to maintain the concept for the whole play.
  • Long before Shakepeare Re Told The BBC did a version of Twelfth Night IN THE MID 20TH CENTURY! WITH SEBASTIAN AND VIOLA AS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS!
  • Sherlock is Sherlock Holmes IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY!
  • The 1991 prime time revival of Dark Shadows was essentially the same as the classic series with the modern story arcs updated from the mid-to-late 1960s/early 1970s to the early 1990s.
    • The aborted 2004 WB version would have once again updated the modern portions of the series to the then present day.



Tabletop Games

  • D20 Modern is... well, Dungeons and Dragons IN THE MODERN WORLD! Especially the Urban Arcana setting.
  • Delta Green is Call of Cthulhu WITH SPECIAL FORCES! It doesn't make much difference.
  • In-Universe example in a Transhuman Space sourcebook, where a review of a new production of The Tempest says "Over the last few years, Shakespeare's final complete play has suffered the most tragic fate which can overtake a classic text; it has become relevant. I swear, if I see one more InVid staging which transmutes Prospero's island into an L-5 station, with Ariel as an infomorph and Caliban as an experimental bioroid, I'll claw out my implant." Doesn't count as Recycled in Space, because it's the present day from the perspective of the reviewer.


  • Pan, a play, was pretty much Peter Pan IN THE MODERN DAY, IN NIGHTCLUBS, ON NUMEROUS ILLEGAL SUBSTANCES! And it was performed in an abandoned power station.
  • There are a bunch of examples of Shakespeare in an unconventional setting WITH THE SAME DIALOGUE!
    • Hobson's Choice (a play, later filmed) is King Lear IN A 19TH CENTURY INDUSTRIAL TOWN IN THE NORTH OF ENGLAND!
    • Orson Welles first did Macbeth WITH AN ALL BLACK CAST, IN HAITI!.
    • Patrick Stewart starred in Othello IN AN AFRICAN STATE! WITH THE RACES REVERSED! because he wanted to play the role, but wasn't blacking up.
    • Baz Luhrmann did Romeo and Juliet IN THE MODERN DAY! WITH GUNS!
  • Shakespeare pulled one himself, Hamlet is basically Amleth WITH HAMLET AS A PRINCE INSTEAD OF A GOVERNOR'S SON!
  • Miss Saigon is the Opera Madame Butterfly IN The Vietnam War, WITH A MORE SYMPATHETIC MALE LEAD!
  • Rent is the Opera La Boheme IN THE LATE '80s, WITH AIDS, AND LGBT THEMES!
  • The Threepenny Opera is The Beggars Opera IN GERMAN AND Darker and Edgier!
  • Brigadoon borrows its plot (without acknowledgment) from the obscure 19th-century German short story "Germelshausen", setting it IN THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS!
  • Oscar Hammerstein II adapted Carmen Jones from the opera Carmen, keeping the Bizet score but resetting the action IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH DURING World War II WITH AN ALL-BLACK CAST!
  • When Stephen Sondheim and George Furth musicalized the play Merrily We Roll Along, they reset the action between 1980 (about when the musical was produced) and 1955. (Kaufman and Hart's original play went from 1934, when it was written, to 1916, and was also Back to Front.)
  • !Hero: the Rock Opera, possibly the ballsiest adaptation on this list, is the friggin' story of Jesus Twenty Minutes Into the Future!
  • Jesus Christ Superstar is the Crucifixion of Christ IN WHATEVER MODERN SETTING THE DIRECTOR FEELS LIKE. (It tends to involve guns and drugs).
  • Carousel is Liliom DOWNEAST!
  • Inverted with the Sister Act musical, which was set in 1978, with Alan Menkin's disco-style songs.


Web Originals

Western Animation

  1. Though this may be Justified as Shakepeare's plays were written to be modern; what is now period dress would have been modern at the time, and several shakespeare scholoars have supported this line of thinking.