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John Stewart: The last time I saw you, you were too young to drive. You look good for a man your age.
—Justice League, "The Once and Future Thing"
One of the signs that a story is taking place in The Future (and not just Next Sunday A.D.) is the elimination of all illnesses and disease. Whether it's by a eugenics program, a miracle cure-all, or lots of mandatory Phys Ed, people in the future simply won't get sick. This is often lampshaded by a future citizen talking about having a cure for the common cold.
A meeting between a super-healthy future person and a disease-ridden ancestor can play out in several ways. Perhaps the futurist will be puzzled over the concept of illness, or offer their cure-all to the ancestor. A more cynical work might have the smug futurist suddenly get deathly ill, as the ancestor's myriad germs attack the immunity-less future person in a literal case of biological warfare.
Often found in futures with Crystal Spires and Togas and Perfect Pacifist People. Also see Perfect Health, Magic Antidote, We Will Not Have Appendixes in the Future, Human Popsicle, and Transhumanism. Contrast with Big Fat Future.
- In the original Squadron Supreme limited series, when Gadgeteer Genius Tom Thumb fails to find a cure for cancer, he travels to the 40th century to get their "Panacea Potion," which cures all diseases in that era. When he finally returns to the present with it, he discovers that it's just a simple concoction of vitamins and penicillin—because the people of the future are already healthy, that's all they need to stay healthy.
- This trope is also implied by the use of hibernaculums, where the terminally ill are placed in suspended animation with the assumption that a cure for their ailment will be found in the future.
- While there are diseases in the world of Judge Dredd (some very nasty), the common cold has been eliminated to the point that it is almost used as a biological weapon.
- Transmetropolitan also shows that disease catches up with society, but smoking has lost most of its stigma, as people can "install" genetic traits in themselves that make them immune to carcinogens.
- In one EC Comics story, a man and a woman who can't be together decide to use the man's newly invented cryotube to escape into the future. They sleep for five hundred years (but not before the man makes a small deposit in a bank that grows into billions of dollars with interest) and awaken rich and famous in a utopian future, where mankind has had perfect health for several generations. Unfortunately, the woman had a cold, which none of the future population has any resistance to, and within a few months everyone on Earth (except them) is dead.
- Star Trek:
- In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Dr McCoy, visiting a twentieth century hospital, is horrified that a woman is undergoing kidney dialysis. "Dialysis? What is this, the Dark Ages?" He gives her a pill, and minutes later, doctors are dumbfounded by her miraculous recovery as she grows a new kidney(!).
- Star Trek IV also mentions that Kirk is allergic to a common medicine used to treat presbyopia. People with allergies to one substance are often allergic to related substances also, so maybe the medications are chemically similar.
- In the 2009 Star Trek movie, it is implied that all diseases are under control. McCoy gives Kirk a vaccine for the disease as an excuse to get him on the Enterprise. Hilarity Ensues when Kirk started reacting to both the vaccine and everything designed to treat the symptoms.
"Numb tongue? I can fix that!"
- There's also the offhand reference to Admiral Archer and his prize beagle, suggesting life expectancy has jumped.
- Brave New World depicts a society where humanity is healthy and care-free due to eugenic selection and healthcare. Not that it's necessarily a utopia...
- Uglies gives us the "Pretty Operation" which gives people beauty and resistance to disease... among other things.
- The science-fiction novel Nova has a future where absolutely all disease has been eradicated. A character who has a broad knowledge of history explains some aspects of past hygiene (washing your hands, not eating food off the ground, etc.) and his comrades are flabbergasted at the idea.
- That bit of dialogue is introduced by a character handing another a piece of food... with his foot.
- And the historian, who's seemed kind of fastidious to that point, has no qualms about sucking on a piece of rock candy that another fellow had just taken out of his mouth.
- The Culture is free of unwanted disease. Solving pan-human Proteomics is, to the Minds, akin to doing a crossword; a recreational challenge. Amusingly, in Use of Weapons, some people decide to give themselves colds for fun.
- In Vernor Vinge's Marooned in Realtime, people living in the far future have the medical technology to eliminate all disease and ageing—but what if you outlive the civilisation holding it all up?
- In The Night Mayor by Kim Newman, the protagonists are writers, and there's an extensive and amusing sequence about the difficulties of the hack romantic novelist now that science has eliminated all the diseases that heroines used to romantically die of.
- In Isaac Asimov's Robot series, Earthers have lifespans comparable to 20th century Americans, where the eugenically-perfected Spacers tend not to experience "middle age" until turning 250 or so. They enforce this by carefully control the microbes introduced to their worlds from Earthers, and look down on the filthy disgusting shortlived Earthmen. The Spacers' weakened immune systems mean that when an Earthman visits, the visitor has to be thoroughly sterilized and most of the Spacers wear gloves and nose-plugs and keep their distance.
- The Spacers also have considerable surgery performed upon them - artificial fingers, joints, nerves... And it is Never talked about.
- In Succession, all the major factions have absolutely no disease at all. However, they maintain a joint neutral zone called the Plague Axis in which diseases are allowed to flourish among the inhabitants just in case a new plague ever arises and they might be able to find a cure among the diseased. Inhabitant of the Plague Axis are required to wear environmental isolation suits when on envoys to the other factions.
- Note also that the Plaguemen are descendants of the poor who couldn't afford the massive gene-"fixing" everyone else got a thousand years or so before the start of the story. It wasn't until after the genes for autism and unattractiveness were removed that people realized they had benefits.
- In Kir Bulychev's series Alice, Girl from the Future, by the end of 21st century humans have cured every known disease, and even common cold will be cured soon. They also enjoy better health and fitness in general, to such an extent that when Alice travels back to the 70s of the 20th century, she exhibits athletic skills considered superhuman by locals.
- Strugatsky brothers' Noon Universe has this in spades: in Inhabited Island, the protagonist is not only considered ridiculously strong by the Human Alien inhabitants of a Dieselpunk planet he is stranded on, but apparently can run for tens of miles without stopping, hold his breath for ten minutes, and survive several point-blank bullet shots.
- Later novels attribute this potential to an in-vitro embryo treatment which reconfigures various bodily systems and enables use of otherwise dormant microorgans. In the cycle's final novel, The Time Wanderers, the protagonist is investigating numerous bizarre occurences such as refusal of mothers to apply this treatment to their yet unborn children. Turns out that the procedure's drawback is reducing the chance for the child to have the already rare potential to evolve into a Transhuman species (Which, while benevolent, lives among humans under The Masquerade because they are afraid of demoralizing those without such evolutionary potential)
- In The Secret Visitors by James White, the advanced science of galactic society has brought preventative medicine and safety technology to such a pitch that people live for centuries without a day's illness or injury. The downside is that the knowledge base of curative medicine has completely atrophied, so that if somebody does somehow get injured, nobody knows what to do. When a character is shot in the leg during a visit to the primitive planet Earth, his crewmates initially assume he's as good as dead, and then regard the doctor who patches him up as a miracle-worker.
- Given a dark spin in Feed, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant- they cured cancer and the common cold, but the two viruses that were engineered to do the curing mutated together, and that virus turns people into zombies.
- Discussed extensively in H. G. Wells' The Time Machine. The time traveller suspects that the people of the future, having conquered all disease, found no reason to develop any further technologically. Because of this, they degenerated into mindless beasts. This seems a valid theory at first, until he realizes with creeping horror that he also doesn't see any broken legs or other inevitable injuries. It's because the underground humans prey on the weak at night.
- A Big plot-point in War of the Worlds - since the Martians had eradicated all disease long ago, they no longer had any defence against it, causing them to get wiped out by earth pathogens.
- In Wither, scientists used genetic engineering to eliminate all disease so that everyone lives very healthy, extremely long lives. The first generation, that is. Successive generations are also very healthy, but the males all die at the age of twenty-five, and the females at the age of twenty. Whoops.
- In one Star Trek Expanded Universe novel, Tasha Yar is surprised to find someone wearing actual physical glasses instead of using Space-LASIK.
- In the novel Manifold Origin, by Stephen Baxter, cancer is apparently curable via a regiment of giant cancer-fighting pills (similar to taking a round of antibiotics). It's still treated as a serious illness, however, as one character reacts with anger when they find another character had been hiding their cancer diagnosis from them.
- Played to different degrees and consistency in the various Star Trek works:
- In the original TV show, Kirk is amazed when they discover a planet where nobody is sick and marvels at the potential to extend human life.
- In the first season Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Battle", Beverly Crusher is amazed that Captain Picard has a headache in this day and age: "In the past people used to just get headaches", implying that in the future we will all either be fit and healthy, or suffering from a serious illness, with nothing in between.
- By the time of Star Trek: Voyager, though, medical science seems to have gone backwards. Captain Janeway has several headaches.
- This is possibly a justified aversion by the fact that Voyager is stuck in the Delta Quadrant years away from Federation space, so perhaps the medicine or technology needed isn't as readily available.
- Doctor Who:
- In the 1960s story "The Ark", they visited the disease-free far future, and gave the locals their cold.
- In 2006's New Earth, the religious order the Sisters of Plentitude attempt to create a disease-free world for the human race. While their motives are charitable, their methods are less than ethical.
- Cancer is mentioned to have been cured by the 22nd century in Time Trax. Additionally, people are generally much healthier and more fit. See this excerpt from the pilot narration describing the protagonist:
He grew up a normal child of his times: IQ 204, Speed Memorization rate 1.2 pages per second (slightly above average). He was a competent athlete. His best speed for the 100 meters was 8.6 seconds, and for the Mile Run - 3 minutes 38 seconds. He wondered how the Olympic Champion could ever have done it twenty seconds faster. His heartbeat was a normal 35 beats per minute. His life expectancy - 120 years. His lungs were average, capable of air storage up to six minutes. Beta wave training had given his generation mind control capabilities unavailable fifty years before his birth. One of these was the ability to slow down the speed of visual images reaching the brain, popularly called "time stalling". It demanded rigorous training.
- In GURPS with the Bio-Tech supplement, you can pick an advantage called Pan-immunity to make your character disease resistant.
- In Champions, Immune to disease is one of the advantages under Life support.
- In the grim darkness of the far future, health care for military veterans is so good that just about anything short of having one's brain destroyed is survivable. Spectacular advances in surgery and augmetic enhancements allow just about anyone to live for two hundred years or more, and that's assuming you don't splurge on a mechanical coffin that can preserve you for millennia...
- Of course, for the average Imperial on the street who can't afford such luxuries, this trope is comprehensively averted. Poor health and disease are commonplace throughout the Imperium, and that's before the god of disease itself starts paying special attention to you.
- Deliberately averted in The Dragon Doctors, which takes place two thousand years in the future (and where they have magic). Magic has made medicine faster, but no less complex, and has introduced thousands of magical diseases, hence why the comic is about magical doctors solving bizarre afflictions.
- In the futuristic city of 4-U City, injury, disease, and unhappiness have been wiped out. Aggressively. With nanobots and copious amounts of drugs.
- One of the wonders in Civilization: Call To Power is an immunity chip.
"Sick, what is sick?"
- On a similar vein, in Civ IV, "Future Tech" adds + 1 to Health and Happiness in all cities, making your health concerns no longer an issue.
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots uses nanomachines to fix problems within the body. And even then, it's not always perfect.
- It's still very advanced. There are multiple levels of nanomachines and the most powerful form of nanomachines were capable of instantaneously regenerating wounds ranging from deep piercing stab and slash wounds from a 4 foot sword, and gun shot wounds to the head.
- The plot of the 1213 trilogy is related to this. Some scientific group bred some clones to be resistant/immune to disease, except it backfires horribly.
- In Mass Effect, medical science advancements have extended the Human life expectancy to around 150 years. Some people still get diseases, though - such as your pilot, Joker, who has a rare medical condition that makes his bones really brittle. Though even that technology is advanced, since Joker said if he was born during our time, he would've died as an infant. In addition, in-game material states that most genetic diseases have been eliminated, although it seems like they still haven't eliminated certain types of cancer. Moreover, Autism still exists, as shown by David Archer
- In Halo cancer is so rare that most people have never heard of it and it takes about six hours to remove.
- It is also pointed out in the setting that Sergeant Johnson's smoking of cigars is a harmless hobby because damage to the lungs and even lung cancer can be eliminated very easily.