Born in the Wrong Century
"Most people think Marv is crazy. He just had the rotten luck of being Born In The Wrong Century. He would've been right at home on some ancient battlefield, swinging an axe into somebody's face. Or in a Roman arena taking a sword to other gladiators like him. They'd have tossed him girls like Nancy back then."—Dwight McCarthy, Sin City, "A Dame to Kill For"
There's a certain type of character who yearns for Ye Goode Olde Days, when things were more exciting, or simpler, or better in some other way. Or maybe they feel they'd fit in better in a time other than their own. Or maybe they're just history buffs and would like to have been around when all that history was happening.
Or maybe the character is an inventor ahead of their time who just can't convince anyone that their crazy ideas could make a benefit for mankind, or a sci-fi buff who only wishes that all those stories about spaceships and flying cars were real, or a subculture waiting for the time when the world will be ready for them.
No matter what the reason, though, this character feels that he or she was born in the wrong century.
Characters of this sort often find themselves involved in Time Travel adventures—maybe they jump at the chance to test out some new time travel technology; maybe they're selected because their knowledge of the era will be useful to their fellow time travelers; maybe they just want to travel through time so badly that the fabric of spacetime folds itself for them for no adequately explained reason. Sometimes, these characters learn that the time they wanted to live in isn't so great after all, but just as often they don't. If so, they may choose to stay.
Note that this trope usually involves characters who live in modern industrialized democracies where they have a great deal of freedom and luxuries, which can make their nostalgia hard to take seriously. Characters from a crapsack country ravaged by plague, famine, or an evil dictator, are probably justified in feeling this way, but are rarely depicted unless they live in a future dystopia.
Meanwhile, outside of science fiction and fantasy, characters like this are just stuck in the present day. Sucks to be them.
- 1 Examples With Time Travel
- 2 Examples Without Time Travel
Examples With Time Travel
- The Marquis de Sade in The Invisibles: Locked up for obscenity in the 18th century, he finds himself embraced with open arms by the fetish club scene of present-day San Francisco.
- Not exactly time travel but close enough. Travis Morgan, The Warlord, was a lot happier in the savage Lost World of Skartaris than he ever had been in the 20th Century.
- Charlene, the cowgirl in the Marvel |Transformers comic, yearns for the Old West.
- Currently working for Oracle in Birds of Prey is Zinda Blake, better known as Lady Blackhawk, a fighter pilot and hero from the 1950's who found herself in the modern day after a time warp sends her forward several decades. Due to her highly liberal and controversial beliefs, such as her determination to become a fighter pilot, she finds herself much more comfortable in the modern day DC Universe than she did back in her own era. The only notable problems she seems to have is that her taste in music is a few decades behind the times, and she can hardly get anybody to honor her senior citizens discount.
- Viz has several characters like this. Victorian Dad seemingly believes he is in the Victorian period and his strict ways cause a lot of embarrassment to his children. Major Misunderstanding is a conservative war veteran who wishes for the good old days - but is evidently senile, frequently mistaking something for something else which he then criticises for being too politically correct. Jack Black And His Dog Silver is similar to 1960s adventure comics, but the time period changes depending on the appearance - the only real constant are the 3 lead characters and their conservative nature.
- In Back to The Future, Doc Brown longed to be back in the days of the Wild West, which he manages to visit in Back to the Future Part III.
- This is the whole premise of Midnight in Paris; the protagonist feels like he would have loved to live in 1920s Paris, only to find a way to visit that era. There, he falls in love with a woman who wants to live in the 1890s, and when the two visit that time they find out the people the people back then wanted to live in the Renaissance.
- The whole premise of The Brady Bunch Movie is that the 70's incarnation of the family is transplanted into 1995 and comically unaware of the world around them being different than it was back then.
- Somewhere in Time has the protagonist falling in love with a long-dead actress from the past.
- The protagonist of Jack Finney's Time and Again wants to live in the 19th century, so he volunteers for a time-travel experiment. And the follow-through: he ultimately decides to stay in 1882.
- For the protagonist of Caroline B. Cooney's Time Quartet, just briefly wishing that she lived a hundred years in the past seems to be enough to send her back in time. She winds up discovering that the Victorian era is not as great as she thought it was. A later book has an ahead-of-her-time Victorian girl travelling to the 1990s, with similar results—the culture shock is just too great for her to feel comfortable staying there.
- The book The Sterkarm Handshake features a tramp on the streets of Edinburgh who is given a chance to travel back to 16th century Scotland, where he fits in a lot better.
- André Marek in Timeline is an interesting case - he is deeply interested in medieval combat, language, and culture, but seems to hold few illusions about the morality that goes with them. When he is exposed to a past full of backstabbing, grime, and cruelty, he elects to stay behind, and marry the Femme Fatale.
- Alfred Bester's short story Hobson's Choice deconstructs the hell out of this trope. The main character lives in the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse. He believes he lives in the worst time ever and dreams of escaping to the past. He discovers time travelers appearing from a small town and finds out that they are being sent there as a form of therapy because they believe that his time period is a Golden Age. The time travel technicians point out to him that in real life it would be nearly impossible for anyone to adapt adequately to live in a past time period. The time travelers are being sent back as a form of therapy to get them to readjust to life in their present, and most soon come back after finding they can't live in that time period. It is also pointed out that there is probably no point in time that someone, somewhere, and somewhen doesn't think is a golden age.
- A tale by Hans Christian Andersen featured a man who always said that life in Medieval Denmark was much better... until he got there himself.
- It isn't actually time travel, but the Darkover novel Two to Conquer gives the same effect with Paul Harrell—quite explicitly described as being in the wrong century—being transported from the Terran Empire to the feudal-era Lost Colony of Darkover.
- In Tim Powers's The Anubis Gates, Professor Brendan Doyle–who studies 19th century poetry–ends up stuck in London in the year 1810 after getting separated from his party of time travelers. (They were just popping in from 1983 in order to sit in on a lecture by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.)
- There are literally dozens if not hundreds of romance novels that use this trope, either by sending the heroine into the past to meet a dashing hero or having a dashing hero brought to the heroine's time to woo her as he plays the Fish Out of Water. When Status Quo is returned and everyone is back in their own time the heroine usually meets the hero's descendant and falls madly in love with him in the last few pages or paragraphs.
- In the Discworld novel The Fifth Elephant, newly appointed Low King Rhys Rhysson describes his primary political opponent as this, claiming he would have made a fine king two hundred years ago. Mind you, as a dwarf, said opponent was probably alive two hundred years ago, but probably not eligible for kingship at the time.
- The original Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" had Edith Keeler, a pacifist activist who was born in the wrong century. Her ideals matched the future Federation's exactly, but had her movement succeeded, Hitler would have won World War II. She herself was not a Time Traveller.
- The Twilight Zone episode "A Stop at Willboughby" is all about this. Also the episode with Buster Keaton, which involves a time traveler going to the late 19th Century and being frustrated by the lack of modern conveniences.
- The episode "No Time Like the Past" has the main character become this after realizing that You Cannot Change the Future. He sees the error of his ways after arriving in the past and realizing that people in the past had some despicable viewpoints.
- Captain Jack Harkness, from Doctor Who and Torchwood, was born in the 51st century, but has a deep fondness for the 1940s, to the point where he impersonates (and/or enlists as) an American volunteer in World War II at least three times.
- The first time was just part of an elaborate con to sell an alien ambulance he was claiming was a warship. It was sitting on the exact spot a bomb was going to hit, and he planned to take off with the money.
- There's also something of an inversion in Torchwood in that he sometimes seems to be living in the wrong century, considering 21st century social and relationship mores as being "quaint little categories". The current day attitude to relationships seems very different from in his time...
- A much darker example, as well as a slight subversion from the same 'Verse is Professor Yana, an elderly genius scientist who just happened to live at the End of the Universe, when all the stars had long since burned out. When the Doctor encounters him and realizes that he built elaborate circuits out of food, he remarks that Yana would've been revered all across the galaxies if he'd been born earlier. But those galaxies, as Yana puts it, "just had to go and collapse on us." Ironically, Yana turns out to be The Master, the Doctor's former-best-friend-slash-archenemy, who had gone as far as to turn himself into a human and erase all of his memories to escape the horrors of the Time War. When he finally regains his memories, he is able to steal the Doctor's time machine and fly to the present day - but as his insanity had returned hand in hand with his memories, he no longer intends to use his genius for the greater good...
- The first time was just part of an elaborate con to sell an alien ambulance he was claiming was a warship. It was sitting on the exact spot a bomb was going to hit, and he planned to take off with the money.
- Amanda Peet from Lost in Austen yearns for the manners of the early 19th century. Luckily, she gets to stay there.
- Elizabeth Bennet, meanwhile, would rather live in Amanda's time.
- Warehouse 13 gives us a female H.G. Wells, who after over a century of being suspended in bronze, shows little surprise at the wonders of the 21st Century, as she had already predicted most of it in her writing. At various points, it could even be argued that given the ingenuity she displays in evading Warehouse agents, as well as her century old gadgets still outclassing them, even the 21st Century may still be a century or two behind her.
- "Tribute To The Past" by Gamma Ray.
Prepared to go where my heart belongs -- back to the past again
- The protagonist of the Tony Banks song "Throwback":
I walk the backstreets
Of every dirty city, searching for the route
That leads me back to where I belong
I don't know how, but I'm trapped in the wrong time
If you know someplace I can go
Then I ask you, lead me to the door!
- It has been said that Nick Drake would have been better off in Elizabethan England rather than the 1960s-1970s. He was known for his love of the poet John Keats.
- Hatsune Rondo of Mayonaka Densha pines for 19th century London as she has become disenchanted with modern day Japan, and also wishes to escape from her unhappy home life. While she does get her wish and meets a dashing hero in typical romance novel fashion and meets her hero Sherlock Holmes when she gets there, living in Victorian London seems to be frequently costing her large chunks of her sanity. Hatsune is constantly exposed to dismembered corpses, attacked, tortured and almost violated by criminals and forced to confront traumas from her life back in the present day. And it turns out her dashing hero is just as lonely and insecure as she is. Yet she still prefers it to her own time.
- Fry of Futurama states at one point that he's much more comfortable in the future (i.e., the show's present) than he had been in the 20th century. This is displayed several times, particularly the episode with his "girlfriend"; indeed, one of the first things he does on realizing he's in the future is realize that everyone he ever knew is dead, and then cheer- and while he later laments this fact, he quickly gets over it.
- Time Squad: The two of the main characters share a fondness for another time; Buck Tuddrussel has a genuine interest for the days of when America was settling the Wild West in the 19th century, and gets teary eyed when able to experience it for himself. Otto is perfectly happy with living a million years into the future, as he had no real chance of a good life of his own in the 21st century. But even though he has a well rounded knowledge on history, he shows a very passionate interest in Colonial/Revolutionary War era America, with some of his heroes being George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.
Examples Without Time Travel
- The motivation of Samurai Champloo's Big Bad, Kariya Kagetoki. Feeling that he was "born into the wrong era", he decided rather than try to live by the strength of his own sword, which he views as a futile though noble effort, he would simply use the corrupt lords to his own ends. While he extends this motivation to Jin as well in a Not So Different moment, Jin gets over it by finding people for whom he is willing to put his life in line. Best demonstrated in the following exchange:
Kariya Kagetoki: Why are you here? Are you trying to throw away the life that you so narrowly managed to keep? As I recall, you once said there aren't any lords worth risking your life for.
Jin: That's right. For my entire life, I have chosen to fight for no one but myself. My dedication...and my study for the sword were for no one but myself...Until now. I swear I always get stuck with it.
- Shishio Makoto and the Juppongatana in Rurouni Kenshin aren't too happy about the upcoming peaceful Meiji era, because it doesn't present them many opportunities for conquering Japan and rebuilding it as the nation where strength is the only thing that matters.
- It is heavily implied that Raoh from Fist of the North Star is very similar to the Marv example below. In fact, the text explicitly states that were Toki and Raoh born separately and in the past, they would have been famous heroes of Hokuto Shinken.
- Misawa of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is a Badass Bookworm who gradually gets treated with less and less respect (by the characters and writers alike) as the series progresses—he's a highly intelligent and analytical duelist who ultimately comes up with a highly analytical and hypothetically effective control deck, but the show and the main characters use impractical combo decks and rely on New Powers as the Plot Demands to give them the cards they need under any circumstance. Contrast the next series Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, where every main character is some sort of genius that relies on careful strategy and setting up plays turns in advance. He'd have fit right in.
- A Serial Killer in Franken Fran was noted as having attributes (intelligence, physical perfection, total lack of conscience) that would have made him a great king in the ancient world: they show a picture of him on top of a mountain of sex.
- Yami from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. They are bored with the peaceful times without war, as they believe their martial arts are rusting from it. So they decide to cause World War Three.
- Sociopathic Hero Marv from Sin City is described as such by Dwight in one story, and provides the Trope Namer.
- The Marvel Universe villain Turner D. Century, who preferred the U.S. of the year 1900.
- Practically all the heroes of Preacher (Comic Book) wish they were living in a wild west film.
- General Zod is disgusted that Krypton stopped being a Proud Warrior Race.
- The characters in the Manga Shakespeare series. The series uses the original dialogue, so we have modern or even future characters speaking in Olde English.
- In Kill Bill, Beatrix Kiddo, O-ren Ishii, Bill and several others are old-school martial arts killers.
- The main character of the independent film Man of the Century talks and acts like a newsman from a 1930s screwball comedy, despite living in a decidedly less-wacky mid-90s New York. Interestingly, he has no hangups about it, and simply lives his life in his own peculiar way, seemingly without even realizing the strangeness of it. (It does mean he sometimes has trouble interacting with people, but he pulls through without complaint, usually.) In fact, he seems to be a happier, more fulfilled person than most of the other characters. The "mother" character seems to date back all the way to the 1850's.
- General George Patton, in the movie Patton is described several times by other characters as having been Born in the Wrong Century. As there really was a General Patton, on whose life the movie was based, this is an example of Truth in Television.
- In the movie version of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Claudia decides she wants an old-fashioned four-poster bed for her birthday, and her older brother mocks her: "You don't want the bed. You want to actually live in the sixteenth century."
- In the film Quigley Down Under the following quote happens. "Some men are born in the wrong century. I think I was born on the wrong continent."
- Both the protagonist and many antagonists from Ghost Dog: The Way of The Samurai lament the relative timidity of their 20th century lives compared to the death-centric past their cultural predecessors lived decades and even centuries before.
- The entire point of The Brady Bunch movie. The family lives like it's the 70's when it's actually the 90's.
- Tim Lockwood in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs has no idea how to us a computer.
- Inverted in Twenty One Jump Street. Jonah Hill's character laments that he'd be considered cool for his geekiness rather than just geeky in High School, if he'd been born ten years later.
- In Bronco Billy, Clint Eastwood's character, Billy, is the star of a traveling wild west show. However, he, and the rest of his group, seem stuck in this mentality that it is still the days of the wild west. Or at least that one can live as if it still was...
- Momoko from the novel (and movie) Kamikaze Girls wishes she'd been born as a European aristocrat in the 18th century Rococo era.
- David Levin in Everworld doesn't get to travel in time, but he does get to go to another world where all the old pagan deities went after people stopped worshipping them. Which is close... sort of.
- Mocked in the poem "Miniver Cheevy", by Edward Arlington Robinson.
- The poem spawned its own parody, "Miniver Cheevy, Jr." whose titular character pines for a different era.
- In S. E. Hinton's Rumble Fish, it is said that the Motorcycle Boy would have been better suited being a knight in the middle ages.
- Many of H.P. Lovecraft's characters (largely because Lovecraft himself seems to have felt that way—see below).
- The protagonist of Robert E. Howard's sword-and-planet tale Almuric is portrayed this way, more at home in a world not unlike the ones that Howard's Barbarian Heroes roamed than the world he was born in:
Many men are born outside their century; Esau Cairn was born outside his epoch. Neither a moron nor a low-class primitive, possessing a mind well above the average, he was, nevertheless, distinctly out of place in the modern age. I never knew a man of intelligence so little fitted for adjustment in a machine-made civilization.
- Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces also yearns for the medieval years, but is far more opinionated about it.
- Mr Prosser, the council employee in charge of demolishing Arthur Dent's house in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is a direct male-line descendant of Genghis Khan. He doesn't know this, but has urges to move to a quiet cottage with axes over the door, and occasionally gets visions of lots of hairy horsemen shouting at him. He also wears a little fur hat.
- Joe Mack, of Louis L'Amour's Last Of The Breed, is a college-educated Native American Air Force Pilot who deep down wants to go back to the days of bows and arrows, and surviving off of the land. Getting dropped in Siberia during the Cold War was a bit of a blessing for him and partway through the book, he realizes that he's never going to be able to enjoy civilization again, and considers staying in Siberia forever.
- Don Quixote wants to live in The Theme Park Version of the past, in the world of Medieval romances, filled with knights errant, loyal squires, good and bad wizards, fierce giants, fabulous monsters, imaginary kingdoms, epic battles, lovesick princesses, funny dwarfs, squires made counts and a lot of outrageous adventures. At one point, Don Quixote, an impoverished Hidalgo like his author Cervantes, deplores the time of the gunpowder and the artillery, two technological advances that means the end of the cavalry and the initiation of new strategies and organizational forms in the armies, as well as a redefinition of the role of nobility in a society where individual courage and skill are useless, and the organization of nameless masses of soldiers (infantry) becomes important. So Cervantes is saying that for him, and for all the nobility (rich or poor), they were born in the wrong century, and they must renovate or die. And then, four centuries later (the first part was published in 1605), we see the nobility reduced to a mere showcase of frivolous magazines.
- A meta-example: Many readers (including CS Lewis) think the heroine of Jane Austen's rather depressing, sombre Mansfield Park (1814) would fit in better in the Darker and Edgier world of the Bronte sisters' novels in the 1840s.
- Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables complains that modern day Avonlea (the 1800's) simply is not romantic enough to suit her. She pines for the medieval days.
- Not quite the wrong century, but Henry Harrison, the title character of The Extra Man, would have fit in much better in the '20s than The Eighties.
- Villainous example in John C. Wright's War of the Dreaming: Wentworth, a Corrupt Government Official hates his superiors, his job, his country, and wants nothing more than to be an (honored, trusted) courtier—and is willing to resurrect the God of Evil to get it.
- Guy Crouchback in Sword of Honour by Evelyn Waugh. Crouchback always tries to be a Knight in Shining Armor—during World War II. Funny thing is, he actually is a rather effective soldier. But he always seems out of place.
- This is how G. K. Chesterton characterised the historical John of Austria, "the last knight of Europe", in his epic poem Lepanto.
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young.
- Asimov's The Caves of Steel features an organization of "medievalists" who detest their living conditions of overpopulated Earth (entire cities made into gigantic Domed Hometowns) and yearn to return to living in outdoor cities and villages. Like all other inhabitants of the giant metropolises, however, they are all instictively agoraphobic.
- A zig-zagged version in The Full Matilda by David Haynes. The titular Matilda basically lives the lifestyle of The Edwardian Era / early 1920's rich women. Even though she was born when that lifestyle would be possible, by the time she was a preteen that life was dying out (due to The Great Depression, people could not afford to have that lifestyle). Also, even if she could afford it, being black there was no way she would get to live that life during the time it was popular.
- In Maskerade, Agnes Nitt is said to have been born too late. While nowadays looks and a lack of good sense matter more in opera than actual talent, 20 years ago actual singing mattered more and all the greats shared her girth (if names like 'Expando' and 'Gigli' are anything to go on).
- The scouts and guides of Time Scout don't necessarily hate the present, but they love the past. Skeeter Jackson, with his special history, counts two different ways as being actually born in the wrong century.
- Rimmer from Red Dwarf longs for the glory of colonial days, seeing himself (incorrectly) as a brilliant tactician who could have put Napoleon to shame, and thus wasted as a vending machine technician.
- Life On Mars had "Man Out of Time", a man who had chivalrous ideals, but ended up believing that the best way to fit would be to be the villain.
- Brisco County Jr is in a Western, but has modern day mannerisms and verbal expressions; his friends and enemies tend to look at him funny.
- Richie from Bottom believes this. However...
Richie: I was born at the wrong time, you see, I should have been Elizabethan. 13th century, Shakespeare, the French Revolution. I'm just too intelligent, that's my problem... s%&$&@!! I didn't expect the kettle to be hot!
- From the Goth Talk sketches on Saturday Night Live: "Azrael Abyss, the Prince of Sorrow" had the plaintive, high pitched cry, "I wish I had been born in the fifteenth century!"
- From Family Ties:
Alex: I would've been more at home in The Fifties.
Stephen: I think you would've been too conservative even for then.
Alex: The Seventeen-Fifties.
Stephen: I think you still would've been too conservative.
- In the Whodunit episode of Lizzie McGuire:
Veruca: I just love these costumes. They're so dramatic! Do you ever wish you were born in a different century?
Tudgeman: I always thought I should have lived in the Third Age in Middle Earth.
- Haley in One Tree Hill expresses to Skills in the season 4 episode "Pictures of You" that she feels that she was born in the wrong time, and she wishes that her son will have a greater feeling of belonging.
- Tom Paris of Star Trek: Voyager is a real 20th century aficionado. Since this is the Star Trek universe, this knowledge proves useful time and time again, whether it's actually time travel or just a holodeck misadventure.
- And Janeway is a big fan of her last century; she says about Kirk and co.:
Janeway: It was a very different time, Mister Kim. Captain Sulu, Captain Kirk, Doctor McCoy. They all belonged to a different breed of Starfleet officers. Imagine the era they lived in: the Alpha quadrant still largely unexplored... Humanity on verge of war with Klingons, Romulans hiding behind every nebula. Even the technology we take for granted was still in its early stages: no plasma weapons, no multi-phasic shields... Their ships were half as fast.
Kim: No replicators. No holodecks. You know, ever since I took Starfleet history at the Academy, I've always wondered what it would be like to live in those days.
Janeway: Space must have seemed a whole lot bigger back then. It's not surprising they had to bend the rules a little. They were a little slower to invoke the Prime Directive, and a little quicker to pull their phasers. Of course, the whole bunch of them would be booted out of Starfleet today. But I have to admit: I would have loved to ride shotgun at least once with a group of officers like that.
- Interestingly, all of these comparisons were bases for complaints from fans.
- NCIS: Gibbs is clearly not at ease with contemporary technology. Cellulars? USB ports? If they fall into his hands, you may never see them again.
- Bones: Max Brennan is described as better suited to be an ancient king or a warlord than a science teacher, especially after he found the guys who destroyed his family and burned them to death. Max himself is quite comfortable in the present; the present, however, is incredibly wary of him.
- Unsurprisingly, given that it's by Ronnie James Dio, the Black Sabbath song "Falling Off the Edge of the World" seems to be about this:
I'm living well out of my time
I feel like I'm losing my mind
I should be at the table round
a servant of the crown
the keeper of the sign
to sparkle and to shine...
- "Born Too Late" by Saint Vitus.
- Sandi Thom's "I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair)". She pretty much wishes she was born a few decades earlier so she could have been a hippie and a punk rocker. Or both.
- While his voice was quite suitable for what he did, Pissy (best known as a member of Intestinal Disgorge) also showed at points that he was quite fit to sing Hair Metal or Disco.
- The Howling Void, said band's frontman, occasionally displays his interest in Elizabethan-era writing. Prior to the release of "Dripping in Quiet Places," he began quoting passages from The 120 Days Of Sodom on the band's Facebook page.
- Jimmy Buffett's "A Pirate Looks At 40"
Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late
The cannons don't thunder, there's nothin' to plunder
I'm an over-forty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too late
- Maakies author (or at least a stand-in for him) Tony Millionaire wishes he'd been born in the past. He perks up at what sounds like a horse-drawn carriage, but it's only a dominatrix taking her be-hooved gimp for a walk.
- Due to his dad's technophobia, Calvin remarked (in the 20th century) that he's "a 21st century kid in a 19th century family".
- Charles, from the game Space Colony, has the mannerisms, vocabulary, style, etc. of an officer in the British Royal Navy circa World War I. Yet he was actually born sometime in the 22nd century and currently lives on an experimental space colony. While he's a consummate gentleman and a skilled worker, his employers and fellow colonists are extremely perplexed by his personality.
- According to the opening cinematic of Brutal Legend, our hero Eddie Riggs apparently feels like this as he sadly watches the "nu-metal" band he's working with performing.
Eddie: Ever feel like you've been born in the wrong time, like you should have been born earlier? When the music was... Real?
Roadie: ...Like, the seventies?
Eddie: Earlier... Like, the early seventies.
- Airforce Delta Strike has an old guy from world war 2, Jamie Jones, who brushes aside the age of jet engines entirely despite the fact they technically were invented then. To the point he takes flight with your unit...using such planes as a P51 Mustang or IL-2 Sturmovik in dogfights! Against modern aircraft, and even futuristic experimental craft! Amazingly enough, the AI Jamie will occasionally score kills since rockets deal the most damage, usually a one-shot kill for low-armoured planes. Probably more than you will in his place since he seems to have a mobility boost.
- Rin Tohsaka from Fate/stay night. Apparently being a magus means that you won't have any contact with tecnology, since she doesn't even know what a VCR is!
- Thanks to Anachronism Stew, Professor Layton can fall prey to this. Layton himself is surrounded by advanced technology, a seemingly modern-day London, rock music, and other combinations of technological shenanigans, but he and his apprentice Luke look like they belong in the early 1900's, especially since Layton wears a top hat. Mask of Miracle only increases the confusion, because it shows us the young Layton—and he has a Funny Afro.
- Patches, the lovable blonde in the webcomic Catena, remains in the dark that the '80s have ended. She happily flounces around in legwarmers and bangle bracelets, singing hits by Cyndi Lauper and the Bangles. The other characters seem to feel it's in everyone's best interest that they not tell her the truth.
- Dinosaur Comics give us a term for this, "protonostalgia." Don't you miss being a pirate?
- In Ghastly's Ghastly Webcomic, Bobby calls Smokey out on stereotyping gay men as effeminate, Broadway-loving drag queens, declaring that "this is the twenty-first century" and they should be past all that. Cue the entrance of his (tentacle monster—it's a long story) boyfriend, swishing and singing show tunes. Embarrassed, Bobby admits that F'ga hasn't realized what century it is yet.
- The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: Lovelace discovers a gaping hole in her life when she attempts to Twitter and realises that her head of state is Queen Victoria, and the item she's carrying is actually a fan.
- Captain Fanzone of Transformers Animated frequently reminds us how much he hates machines and is once shown using a rotary cell phone the size of a 1980s "Brick phone", and the show is set at least a fifty years in the future.
- Considering the sheer amount of shout-outs in the show, this may be inspired by a World War II-era redesign of Soundwave that turned into a rotary-dial cell pone.
- Hank Hill of King of the Hill. He often laments about how everyone has forgotten the values he once believed in, like modesty, decency, and plain old common sense.
- There is a British girl by the name of Molly Harrad who is allergic to almost all modern-day materials and has to live inside a bubble - doctors say she wouldn't have a problem if she was living in last century.
- Interestingly there were a number of notable people in the forties that seemed like that. Some of them did quite well in the century they were in so they weren't too much out of place. But they seem to have the air of making a Last Stand or setting themselves up for a Bittersweet Ending . In some cases, they actually were.
- H.P. Lovecraft was quite fond of the 18th century—partly for the actual culture of the time and partly because he disapproved of the Revolutionary War—and apparently would sometimes date his letters 200 years before the actual time of writing.
- Winston Churchill. Funny thing is, he managed to convince Britain to want to be like him. Sort of goes with being a Magnetic Hero. Quotes from teleplay Churchill and the Generals: "He's always the 4th Hussar, charging the guns at a gallop... I wouldn't put it past him to take over the 8th Army himself, on horseback, waving a sword".
- For a rare future case, FM-2030, transhumanist philosopher. As if his name wasn't a good indicator, he had specifically stated as much: "I am a 21st century person who was accidentally launched in the 20th. I have a deep nostalgia for the future." His goal was to see his hundredth birthday in 2030, a time he believed "was" magical and utopian. One honestly wonders whether he was just seeing The Theme Park Version of things to come...
- The last 200 years have not been kind to Emperors in general. Chinese, Austrian, French, [P]Russian, Brazilian, San Franciscan...
- Inventor Nikola Tesla invented the radio, experimented with wireless electricity, designed a fluorescent lightbulb, had plans for a proto-internet, developed alternating currents, and built a machine that could shoot lightning. He also claimed that electrically-powered airships would transport passengers from New York to London in three hours, traveling eight miles above the ground. He also imagined that airships might draw their power from the very atmosphere, never needing to stop for refueling. Unfortunately, his rival Thomas Edison blocked his progress.
- Leonardo da Vinci was said by many to be at least 500 years ahead of his time. The irony being that if he was, many of the invention we have today inspired from his works probably wouldn't exist.
- Jules Verne.
- Japanese writer Yukio Mishima pined for the days of Imperial Japan, and actually tried to overthrow the government. When he saw that nobody else listened to his rallying speech, he succumbed to despair and committed Seppuku.
- Dutch author Godfried Bomans lived in the 20th century, but his interests and writing style showcased a strong love for the 19th century.
- Anton Pieck, a 20th century Dutch illustrator, was well known for his drawings and paintings of 19th century life. He was very old-fashioned and even didn't possess modern technology. Many people assumed he'd already died decades ago, since his art always portrayed 19th century scenes.
- French composer Erik Satie lived near the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, but actually longed more for life in previous centuries, such as the Middle Ages.
- American comic strip artist Robert Crumb has a strong emotional connection to the 1920s and 1930s and owns a large collection of music records and other memorablia from this time period. He generally feels that society and culture went downhill after the 1940s.
- Children's book author and illustrator Tasha Tudor believed she was supposed to be alive during the 1830's. She owned and used an extensive collection of clothing and artifacts from that time and even went so far as to have her son build her a house from that era (using old-time technology and materials), and said publicly that when she died she was going to reincarnate into the 1830's. She died in 2008 at age 92.
- If Adolf Hitler had been born in ancient Sparta (and assuming he himself was a survivor of their brutal eugenics program) he would've been a model citizen.
- In philosophy, maybe, but not physically. He was a short, weak, pasty little bookworm.