Schizo-Tech

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The setting may seem at first to be The Middle Ages, The Colonial Period, or some Fantasy Counterpart Culture thereof, but when you look closer, you find polyester, robots, or other high-tech toys in between the horse-drawn wagons and wattle-and-daub buildings. There's generally no rhyme or reason for which technologies are anachronistically present besides the Rule of Cool. Sometimes these may be leftovers from a lost technological civilization, or perhaps it could be that science developed along a different path than ours, allowing for more advanced technology in one field, while stagnating in others, but most of the time there is no explanation whatsoever for the bizarre mix of medieval and futuristic.

Schizo-Tech is a key component of Punk Punk. It's also the foundation for Fantasy Gun Control. Compare Decade Dissonance for when one side has all the cool toys. When a story nominally set in a real-life historical period has this problem, you've got yourself some tasty Anachronism Stew. It may be because an isolated branch of mankind created an Advanced Ancient Acropolis. After the End is normally a good justification of this, especially when you have a faction with Low Culture, High Tech.

When evaluating a candidate for this trope, try not to confuse anachronisms with non-western-isms. For example, a kimono can be just as modern as a three-piece suit, if not more so. Likewise, do not confuse anachronism for cosmetic purposes with anachronism of technological capability. A judge wearing an eighteenth century robe and wig while judging cybercrime cases is not Schizo-Tech, but simply a Shout-Out to the Good Old Ways. And again, Tropes Are Still Not Bad. It's also worth noting that in the alternate history of a candidate, the culture and style may simply be different, so why their older architecture may seem jar with their higher levels of technology, it may be that that style of architecture may just be "in" at that time.

Beware: Many sci-fi settings that aren't harder than diamond can become this if you think about it too hard.

Compare Adventure-Friendly World, Anachronism Stew, Culture Chop Suey, and Fantasy Kitchen Sink. Technology Levels is what this trope averts. As well as Medieval European Fantasy, of course.

Examples of Schizo-Tech include:

Anime[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Last Exile, antigravity generators are common, yet in other respects the setting is almost entirely Steampunk. This is because the antigravity generators are lent to the two major world powers by the Crystal Spires and Togas Guild. And if you go against the Guild, they have a bad habit of taking the generators back, in-flight. Guess who turns out to be the Big Bad organisation?
  • The Mysterious Cities of Gold takes place in the 16th century during Spain's exploration of the New World. The Spaniards have about the level of technology that they had in real life, while the heroes have technology from an ancient, highly advanced empire, including a solar-powered warship that shoots lasers, a solid gold airplane, and even a fusion reactor.
  • Lampshaded in Galaxy Express 999:

Tetsuro: So that's Mars.
Maetel: They've raised the air pressure here up to the levels on Earth, but it's taken them a century to do so.
Tetsuro: They created it artificially?
Maetel: Exactly. It's a place where humans can live without any difficulty. Yet, the only ones who live here are people with cybernetic bodies.
Tetsuro: So they didn't even have to bother raising the air pressure to Earth levels.
Maetel: Not at all. It was a completely wasted effort.

  • Trigun uses this to good effect, mixing use of native animals and chemically propelled weapons with use of cybernetics and extreme high tech terraforming equipment, for the most part cannibalised for water and energy production.
  • In Dragon Half, magic and dragons and dragon slayers coexist with supersonic passenger jets and radio and cds. This, along with just about everything else in the series, is played for laughs. Also, the Space Shuttle shot down during the Anime.
  • El-Hazard: The Magnificent World is a setting that superficially resembles the Arabian Nights, but is littered with the explicit remains of ultratech civilizations that destroyed themselves in a massive war centuries before.
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, England berates America during World War II for having a laptop model from 42 years in the future. "Are you trying to show off?" He doesn't bother mentioning the flippant use of Google, from even further into the future, which winds up functioning as the joke of the strip. It's as seen here: [1]. Talk about American ingenuity...
    • Also, during the 1700s, Japan is seen listening to his ear bud headphones (presumably from his iPod)
    • And speaking of the above strip, America also makes mention of Spielberg...who wasn't born until 1946. Maybe he got a glimpse of the future?
    • Or he could have googled it with his magical time travel laptop.
  • Vision of Escaflowne mixes a fantasy world with Lost Technology Humongous Mecha... and a technophile Big Bad intent on conquering the world through the power of Mad Science. (Of course, his interest in both magic and science is easily explained by his maybe being Isaac Newton.) In this case the world works, given the nature and power source of the mecha..
  • Aura Battler Dunbine is a classic Schizo-Tech series, in which the inhabitants of a medieval fantasy world have kidnapped a group of robotics engineers and computer manufacturers from Earth to build advanced weapons. (There's an almost surreal shot of a chip-assembly "clean room" in a castle basement.)
  • In Bleach, we see that the 12th Division of the Gotei 13 has some pretty advanced computers...in an afterlife that seems to be based on feudal Japan. Also, IVs.
    • Although, given that Shinigami are fully capable of traveling to, and interacting with, the world of the living, the real question is why more of the Gotei 13, much less the rest of the Soul Society, doesn't have access to this level of tech.
      • The bulk of the Court Guard Squads certainly have access to at least modern technology, as they use cell-phones as Hollow-detectors and their mod souls seem to come out of PEZ dispensers.
  • Grenadier is set in a feudal Japan that somehow still manages to have modern automatic weapons and other high-tech goodies.
    • The original manga is even worse; the Imperial Capital is powered by a tremendous solar device that can be weaponised by someone rather malicious (read: the Iron-Masked Baron, who is himself a Brain In a Jar Cyborg). Justified in that it is implicitly stated that the story takes place in an After the End world.
  • Lost Universe and Outlaw Star both appear to inhabit the opposite end of the Schizo-Tech scale—futuristic worlds with anachronistic magic. That's actually Space Opera, the same thing as Star Wars.
  • The characters of Haré+ Guu live in a hunter-gatherer society, in a village in the middle of a jungle. However, they also have television, video games, modern school buildings, and a typical late-20th-early-21st-century city just a plane trip away.
    • This is actually a Truth in Television since there are hunter-gatherer societies that have remained mostly unchanged for years, but do in fact, have radio, televisions, electricity, and wear modern clothes such as jeans and T-shirts. While going on hunting trips. One British journalist was shocked to see said society watching episodes of Star Trek, despite them not being able to understand the language.
  • Smack-dab in between the two extremes is Paradigm City, the setting of The Big O, which would appear to be a 1940s film noir New York—if it weren't for the giant glass domes, androids, robots and Humongous Mecha all over the place.
    • This can be explained by the entire world that we see (barring a minuscule exception or two) is part of a gigantic set reminiscent of The Truman Show. Why the producers, etc, of the show inside the show, who presumably have all of this technology and more, chose to do this is another story altogether.
  • The universe of Fullmetal Alchemist at first glance seems to be early 20th century Europe. Most long-distance travel is done by steam train, the streets are paved with cobblestones, soldiers dress in uniforms similar to the era and are armed accordingly with period weapons (though the anime messes things up a bit by replacing the WWII-era guns with Vietnam-era ones), things like automobiles and telephones are just coming into existence, and are only being used by those with money or influence and it's mentioned in one episode that delivery of meat in a refrigerated truck is a new technology. Yet at the same time, Ed has prosthetic limbs that while they aren't beyond the capabilities of 21st century medicine to manufacture, are not quite perfected in real life yet, and no one seems to consider this unusual.
    • Its worth noting that regular prosthetics exist in the setting, but only Automail is hooked up directly to the nervous system, and there is an entire town dedicated to it. It's believable that the presence of alchemists might have caused technological research to go down different routes.
    • Interestingly, elements such as the steam trains and the State Alchemists' watches are accurate reproduction of early twentieth-century ones.
  • Parodied in Shaman King, in which the Patch Native American tribe has "traditional hand-made" versions of things like pagers, monitors, and cell phones.
    • Later on, it is shown that they really ARE hand made. The tribe became friends with an alien who taught them how to make all of their tech with what they had at hand.
  • The anime movie, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, which takes place in the 1960's, but includes both anachronistic WWII-era weapons and futuristic powered-armour suits.
    • This applies to the rest of the Kerberos franchise as well, with most technology being from the 50s or so, except for the aforementioned power armour, and the social structure being entrenched in the 1960s and the cold war... aside from the totalitarian dictatorships and massive gang warfare caused by that very same power armour (or rather, those who use it). It's complicated.
    • At least in Jin-Roh there is absolutely no evidence of the Kerberos armor being powered, i.e. self-actuated. It is a heavy but ergonomical set of cotton padding, leather covers and metal armor plates, plus a helmet and an armored gas mask. The IR night-vision device in the mask seems to be based on contemporary active technology; the integrated backpack houses the radio, batteries for it and the IR device, and ammunition.
  • The world of Saiyuki has ancient Chinese architecture, clothing, and farming technology (witness the hoe-wielding mobs of angry cheongsam-clad villagers found in many episodes)...and also such everyday items as butane lighters, a jeep, a revolver, and a gold credit card.
    • Specifically, a deity booted out of heaven- who was reincarnated as a small dragon- who can transform into a Jeep via magic. Nice going, Hakuryuu.
    • Not only do they have a credit card, not a single one of those ancient Chinese villages is ever unable to scan it, no matter how small the town may be. And no one even expresses surprise at seeing it.
    • The villainous lair they're trying to reach is full of computers and ominous-looking lab equipment, guarded by men with swords, alongside a woman who's been turned to stone by a magical curse.
  • The Naruto universe essentially mixes feudal society with modern technology (and clothing). The only exceptions are things like cars and guns. The author once admitted this, and said that he thought of the Leaf village as more of "a place in my head" that existing in an definite geography or time period and that the existence of ninja, and really the whole story, would be pretty pointless if they had those (or maybe just guns, as he stated there might be vehicle).
    • The various shinobi have been seen to utilize laryngophones for short-range communication but long-range communication seems to rely on couriers and messenger beasts.
    • In the Naruto manga (chapter 19 page 8) there is a gun behind the shop counter.
    • One of the Six Paths of Pain is a friggin cyborg armed to the teeth with high explosive homing missiles and a huge-ass laser beam and Nagato himself is confined into what appears to be some sort of mobile throne, both oddly futuristic compared to the rest.
      • The village he's from is also somehow heavily industrialized (even somewhat steampunkish), despite it being frequently desolated from wars held there by other countries.
      • It's also worth noting that this body was apparently constructed either by being hooked up to an Eldritch Abomination or via Superpowerful Genetics, and either way it was a power used by the Sage of the Six Paths, who lived centuries or even millennia ago.
      • Later, there's evidence that the Asura Path's abilities just a bizarre ninja technique and not an actual "cyborging" of the body when a revived Nagato spontaneously grows robot arms from his normal, emaciated body in chapter 551.
    • In chapter 354, apropos of completely freaking nothing we see dozens of buildings of late 20th century build, all of which are abandoned except for one that was used as weapon storehouse by the Uchiha and is inhabited by some old lady, her granddaughter, and their cats.
    • It's fairly indicative that fake spoilers claimed Zetsu and Madara showed up to help Sasuke with a fucking tank and people actually believed them.
    • The civilian sector seems very much like the 20th century, with plastics and various machinery, including occasional small, fat monitors.
    • Perhaps one of the most hilarious demonstrations comes in the Kage Summit arc, when it is made apparent that the Samurai of the Land of Iron, who wear plate armor and use short swords, are using radio communicators under their helmets.
      • Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, and Kakashi use radio earphones to communicate much earlier when hunting for a lost cat.
    • To top all of the above, the latest chapters showed the feudal lords, that rule the Countries the ninja villiges are located in, having a videoconference!
      • Powered with huge acid batteries no less.
    • One Filler episode had a dart gun (which looks like a sniper rifle, but is not an actual gun) with a laser sight.
    • The only fields of technology which are outdated are transportation and military. Since these jobs are done by Shinobi, there is no requirement for advancement in a different direction/a need for there not be advance so shinobi have a reason to exist.
  • Murder Princess appears to be set in a traditional Medieval European Fantasy, right up to the moment when a Little Miss Badass Tyke Bomb Robot Girl punches down a door with her bare hands in the first episode. (The sci-fi technology seen in the opening sequence doesn't hurt, either.)
  • The manga version of Inuyasha is a completely feudal Japan fantasy setting ... until a group of bandits suddenly come into the picture, one of whom appears to be half-tank.
  • Samurai 7 has massive cyborgs and warships, equipped with what seems like anti-gravity systems, Wave Motion Guns...and samurai, armed only with katana and Implausible Fencing Powers. The villagers fire incendiary arrows at power armor. The cities are part cyberpunk, but the villages are traditional Japanese in style. And the "mother of all crossbows" is so very worth the watching...
    • One of the Seven is also a robot. Powered by steam. To borrow a line, I wasn't aware steam could form allegiances.
  • In the Orguss 02 OVA, we have Industrial Age societies digging up Humongous Mecha which have teams of psychics onboard to navigate and act in lieu of radar and other sensors, and machine guns installed to replace any Energy Weapons that aren't still working.
  • Shina Dark has the Vansable Empire with steam-powered war devices. But more notably, when one of the main characters gets injured, she is sent to a hospital which has an oxygen tank with a mask.
  • The rabbit-people in Utawarerumono go to war with Eva-style Humongous Mecha. In a medieval-fantasy setting. Oh how the Hilarity Ensues...
  • Adding to its ever notorious anachrony, Samurai Champloo features semi-automatic handguns, rocket launchers, and elevators all existing in the Japanese Edo Period.
  • Afro Samurai. The opening scene looks like something out of feudal Japan to Wild West Europe... not too long later, cut to a man using night vision goggles. Other technological marvels include rocket launchers, cellphones, androids and cyborgs alongside old-style clothing, architecture and swords.
  • Saber Marionette J has Robot Girls, spaceships and all sorts of technology in what looks like feudal Japan; supposedly, this is the result of a space colony operation gone awry.
  • Mamoru Nagano plays this trope to the hilt in The Five Star Stories, where genetically enhanced Super Soldiers who act like knights in shining armor and pilot Humongous Mecha serve in the same military forces as WWII-style soldiers, but with laser rifles and anti-gravity tanks. Most of these armies serve various feudal empires, though democracies and fascist dictatorships are not unheard of. This is occasionally Lampshaded, with characters lamenting what a ridiculous game war has become, and various justifications are given, the most common being that it's more a matter of tradition than practicality and that the prevailing military theory favours personal combat to weapons of mass destruction because it isn't worth conquering territory if it's just going to get nuked (which doesn't stop the main character from creating a mecha with a gun that can blow up entire continents when fired at full power, but let's not get into that).
  • The only difference that Glass Fleet has from The Cavalier Years is the presence of space-faring vessels. Swords, flintlock pistols, crossbows, spears, horse-drawn carriages, and plate armor are still well in place. This is taken to ridiculous extremes when artists' renditions of mercenaries are used as a stand-in for intelligence/surveillance photographs.
  • The majority of the world of One Piece doesn't appear to be particularly advanced. They have guns and cannons, cameras, but they substitute a lot of communications technology with magic snails.
    • Then we meet Cyborg Franky who, true to his name, is a cyborg. Turned himself into one In a cave junkyard! With a box of scraps!. Has a bottomless magazine in his left arm with doubles as a cannon and an automatic weapon, a sort of Rocket Punch attached to a chain. What have you.
    • A bit further into the story we meet Bartholomew Kuma. Like Franky, he's a cyborg, but of a much higher quality. He's called a Pacifista.
    • Not long after that, more cyborgs show up in the form of what are essentially clones of Kuma, but with lasers.
    • And now we have flat-screen TV monitors and speakers made using snails.
    • Also the Marines and the World Government have better tech than most every other place simple because they do not want other people to be able to challenge them. So they keep all of their inventions out of public hands because they know that pirates will use it against them if they can. Dr. Vegapunk also works for the Marines and he is more than likely the best scientist in the world by far.
  • Kino no Tabi: in the "Land of Wizards" episode, it is pointed out that no one has ever successfully built an airplane. Never mind that various countries have artificial intelligence, humanoid robots, fully-automated economies, incredibly-advanced neurological science, and, of course, hovercrafts. No airplanes, just hovercrafts.
  • In New Getter Robo, the Getter Team find themselves transported back to the Heian era, and are quite surprised to find Samurai fighting the Oni with guns, tanks, and airships. It's suggested by Hayato that their arrival, which deposited each of them at different points in a 2-year period and the robot itself long enough ago to be recorded on scrolls as a fable, somehow screwed up the time line.
  • Black Butler is explicitly set in the Victorian era, complete with Queen Victoria and Arthur Conan Doyle both making appearances. But television and video games are referenced.
  • Ancient Belka of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is depicted in this manner based on flashbacks, showing a medieval-like era with castles standing tall, knights clashing sword against sword in the rain... and a sky littered with starships preparing to go on an interdimensional war.
  • D.Gray-man supposedly takes place in the late 19th century, but the Black Order has everything from computers to giant robots.
  • None of you have Referenced Gintama yet. The Post-Edo Period, with all its kimonos and wooden houses, houses literal aliens and time-space warp gate technology. Justified in that Aliens Took Over The World and it actually works as an alternate universe modern-day setting.
  • Word of God from the Berserkerverse admits that there is some armor and items that do not belong in the medieval setting, but said that he didn't go that far *cough*armcannonthatturnsintoacrossbow*cough*. Miura simply said:
      • Somewhat funny as something like that really existed, though Miura mentioned he didn't realize it till long after he written several chapters.
  • Super Atragon: Modern mach 2 fighters and their missiles could not scratch the enemy's advanced weaponry. A fictional, WWII-style, seaplane armed with nothing but machine-guns could swat down several before being damaged.
  • Most of the car designs in Red Line are bizarre, futuristic, and/or downright aerodynamically impossible but otherwise nothing like you'd see today...except for JP's custom gold plated, pimped out Trans-Am. It's the smallest thing on the track.
  • The borderline-surrealist environment that is the setting of Revolutionary Girl Utena features phonographs, reel-to-reel players and cell phones being used by the characters. In a flashback that may be the most trippy scene in the story up to the point at which it occurs, villagers dressed in modern business attire and wielding pitchforks and swords demand entry to a barn, in which a fax machine continuously prints out the world's further requests for assistance from the barn's beleaguered occupants: Dios and Anthy. Suffice to say that unlike many examples of this trope, in which such anachronisms may be unintentional, these juxtapositions help to set the mood for the show.
  • In The Borrower Arrietty, Haru uses a modern flip-style cell phone that easily fits in her hand. Yet the house where she works at has a rotary-dial landline phone in working order as well! Makes it difficult to determine when exactly does this movie take place.
  • This is a deliberate point in Mushishi. The time period is kept vague, and Ginko uses rather advanced technology for a place where people all dress in kimonos.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Comic books seem to be Egregious examples of this. Batman's nemesis Mr. Freeze has invented a freeze-ray; Lex Luthor currently waltzes around in a battlesuit full of crazy power and can probably fly; Firestorm can synthesize any material in any quantity (I'm looking at you, lithium); Thanagarian N-th metal is apparently capable of bestowing flight; Black Lightning is capable of generating mounds and mounds of electrical current, and... well, you get the idea. And yet, citizens of Earth are still using gasoline-fuelled cars. This is usually either justified with the technology either being created by super geniuses and only working for them, or being in the domain of only aliens, magic-wielders or the very, very rich/military. Or maybe they just don't trust regular people with these wonderful toys - after all, someone probably could mass-produce cars fueled by the Power Cosmic, but suppose someone back-engineers them into weapons?
    • Lampshaded somewhat in the first Superman/Batman comic. Alfred is guarding the sewer entrance to the Batcave with a shotgun. Superman remarks on it, telling Batman "You didn't have an extra freeze ray gun you could've given him?"
    • Lampshaded in Starman, when Jack Knight tells his father that when he invented an unlimited, clean source of power in the 1940s, he should have used it to make cosmic-powered cars instead of flying around fighting crime. Jack's father actually goes on to construct a cosmic power plant big enough to power the entire county, which hasn't been seen since in the DCU.
    • Oracle (the former Batgirl crippled by the Joker and current organizer of the Birds of Prey) plays with this. In theory, she could have the use of her legs back instantly with the tech that the JLA and Batman have available. She refuses to use it, however, until it is available to everyone.
    • Like many things, Watchmen deconstructs this trope a bit: Dr. Manhattan and others actually invent a ton of things that change the world. Cars are now electric, eliminating the need for gasoline powered vehicles, and among other things Rorschach's constantly shifting mask is an invention of Dr. Manhattan's designed originally as just an ornate dress.
  • Pre Crisis Krypton had all manner of advanced tech, with the single, sometimes-lampshaded exception of a space program. Krypton only started developing space flight within a single generation before its destruction, and largely abandoned it after a catastrophe destroyed one of their moons (oops! This is what got Jax-Ur exiled to the Phantom Zone). But the reason for this lack of space tech is simple: In Pre-Crisis days, Krypton was freaking huge, with monstrous gravity that any rocket would have to fight. The breakthrough that finally allowed them to have spaceflight at all was Jor-El's invention of antigravity. All this meant that Jor-El was never able to build the evacuation fleet he wanted, and only had one little home-made rocket for baby Kal-El.
    • This mostly just justifies why the Kryptonians didn't travel the galaxy as Supermen once they escaped the light of their red sun. In theory, if they had gotten far enough away, they could simply continue travelling without the need for spaceships.
  • Marvel Comics is guilty of this as well. Stark Industries have technology that really should have revolutionized the world by now, SHIELD have jetpacks and spaceships (technically, SWORD has the spaceships, but whatever), Charles Xavier has a global surveillance system (mutant only), Henry Pym has his shrinking particles, and of course, Reed Richards Is Useless.
    • This huge waste of world changing technology is noted as one of Pym's "sins" in Paradise X since Pym could have saved many more lives by adapting his technology to industry or health technology rather than using it to beat up criminals.
    • Even before the Marvel Civil War, Tony Stark tried letting the U.S. government use some low-powered suits of Powered Armor a few times. Inevitably, the armor ended up getting used for purposes that were evil or stupid and Tony ended up regretting the decision.
  • Beetle Bailey's been going since The Fifties and the Korean War, so Beetle and his unit wear Korea-era uniforms, drive Jeeps, and use old-fashioned rifles. In more recent strips, there are computers, microphone headsets, modern-style golf, and other modern technology, but the 50s tech has never gone away.
  • Nävis, the protagonist of the French comic series Sillage, lives in a treehouse inside a sort of biosphere spaceship, presumably because she grew up in a jungle and likes her home feeling close to nature.
  • The Trigan Empire has supersonic planes and swords. Guns exist, but haven't made swords and spears obsolete, for some reason.
  • 2000 AD strip Nemesis the Warlock, intergalactic spacecraft, Humongous Mecha and swords and battle axes.
  • Bionicle has this in spades- to the point where villagers use Powered Armor and robotic exoskeletons (and are themselves biomechanical) while living in huts and shacks on a tropical island.
  • Flash Gordon joyously lives on this trope. Mongo has swords and rayguns and riding beasts and rocket ships and anything that would be cool.

Fan Fiction[edit | hide]


Film[edit | hide]

  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is explicitly set in 1891, but casually shows tanks, vinyl records, and automatic pistols-20, 50, and 12 years before they were invented, respectively. None of the characters express any shock upon seeing them. Dr. Watson also at one point attempts CPR, or at least chest compressions, but either way it is an anachronism-the latter was described first in 1904, and the former not invented until the 1960s. It seems they could not decide quite what decade they were in!
  • The film Wild Wild Westhas steam punk technologies such as the steam powered spider mech and non steam punk technologies like the metal collars and saw gun
  • Superman Returns adopts a glamorous style reminiscent of the '40s, while implied to be taking place not long after the events of Superman II(which was set in 1980). It even says as much that it's set five years later. And then someone pulls out a camera phone.
    • Not to mention the involvement of Richard Branson and Virgin Airlines.
      • Which were founded in 1984. Their presence is slightly more plausible, though still hard to justify if the film's meant to be set in '85.
  • The 1996 movie Hamlet with Kenneth Branagh. The external guards in the beginning use polearms, the statue of the old King Hamlet wears platemail, and Norway is allowed to invade Poland without any alliance system protecting Poland, making it at least seem like medieval times. Then there are some old-looking guns inside the palace, making it seem like 17th century at least. Then there are steam trains, one way mirrors, and a globe with a complete map of Africa, making it seem like 19th century. Then there are electric lights, which make it seem like the 20th century.
    • The original Hamlet was pretty anachronistic to begin with. Shakespeare did this a lot, probably because he thought his audience wouldn't be able to identify with the characters or the setting if he didn't include things they were familiar with.
  • In Tim Burton's Batman, photographers rely on flash-bulb cameras, while Batman has a jet plane and a rocket car.
  • Titus. Roman helmets, old-timey microphones, cornrowed glam-rock looking barbarians, oh my!
  • Planet of the Apes. The Ape civilization seems to be on the level of ancient Rome, yet there's an abundance of semi-automatic weapons, plastic pens and high pressure water hoses.
  • Dark City includes elements of this to reflect the fact that the city's builders just kind of yanked technology off of Earth for the city's inhabitants (humans) to play with. The makers of the movie did this simply to enhance the Noir elements of the movie.
    • It also provides hints that the city is somehow displaced in time, which is kind of true.
  • The Emperors New Groove is largely set in an ancient Incan kingdom, although a floor waxer inexplicably appears for a one-shot gag.
  • The animated movie Dragon Hill seems mostly set in a medieval setting, with a character trying to improve technological advance (such as the use of television); in the end, it turns out dragons had developed a super computer.
  • The Wookiees in Star Wars use advanced lasers and holographic systems, and still live in wooden treehouses in the middle of jungles. This is one of the reasons that Return of the Jedi used Ewoks instead - a technologically advanced Wookiee battle would be too expensive to create.
    • A shot of Tatooine featured a hovering cart pulled by a beast of burden. Seriously, what's wrong with the wheels in that galaxy?
    • There's also the Gungans, who use shield generators mounted on elephant-like creatures, defend themselves with handheld forcefield shields and throw their plasma grenades with slingshots.
      • The plasma balls at least are supposedly created naturally.
    • The technology in Star Wars is rather inconsistent, i.e. the shps wield rather primitive lasers and rocket-engines, but also have antigravity technology and hyperdrive technology that seems thousands of years more advanced.
    • The wide variation in technology is somewhat justified in the Extended Universe, by virtue of the fact that all of the worlds were at various stages of technological development when they were contacted by the the Republic, or enslaved by the Empire. Limitations on technology reflect what the various cultures have been able to buy or steal, or what they've been permitted by Imperial occupation forces. After all, it doesn't make sense to give an enslaved people too advanced technology that they might turn around and use on you. Combine that with environments that can make primitive tech more useful or reliable than high tech, especially when it comes to the cost and difficulty of maintaining advanced tech vs. more primitive versions, and the infrastructures needed to do so; as well as belief systems that may limit certain applications of technology. There are numerous real-world parallels to this.
  • Somewhat Justified in Avatar, they are capable of projecting live humans into the bodies of live Avatars, but can't remotely control attack-helicopters or attack-robot suits because all they could afford to send to Pandora was hundred-year old military surplus from the mid-21st century.
    • That and the planets electromagnetic feild being so strong that it interferes with advanced computers
  • In Jesus Christ Superstar Roman soldiers have swords, spears, submachineguns, tanks and jet fighters. Rule of symbolism?
  • In the 1995 version of Richard III most of the military equipment is of WWII vintage—except for a few modern T-70 tanks that appear in the final battle.
  • The Sci-Fi movie The Ice Pirates, a low-budget rip-off of Star Wars, features a Galactic Empire, FTL spacecraft, and warrior robots (and even something like a holodeck in one scene). But when the heroes and villains do battle, it's generally aboard ship or on a planet's surface with simple melee weapons, like swords and axes. There are virtually no ship-to-ship battles: laser cannons do exist, but they appear to be rare and inefficient, almost like single-shot muskets. Somewhat justified as it takes place in a Post-Apocalyptic galaxy, where civilization might have been at a higher level.
    • Of course, the only reason everybody seems to use melee weapons is because the clumsy robots from both sides can lose their limbs in the ensuing chaos.
    • Might also be, to coin a trope, "Rule of Cheap"—lasers cost a lot to animate, but fake swords are cheap.
  • Possibly justified in Sucker Punch because much of it is in the form of fantasy/dream sequences but in the bordello scenes you still get modern music being played on vintage radios and while a vivid imagination might conjure WWI Steampunk zombies where did she come up with the Humongous Mecha piloted by Rocket. Not to mention the modern helicopter and the automatic weapons?
  • By the end of Back to The Future Part III, the Delorean becomes a product of schizo tech thanks to the upgrades and mishaps through time travel: train wheels from 1885, the time circuits rebuilt from 1955 parts, the Delorean body and flux capacitor from 1985, and Mr. Fusion and the remnants of the hover conversion from 2015.


Interactive Fiction[edit | hide]

  • Zork contains mostly World War 2ish-era technology that is augmented by magic, some of which uses devices that strike accord with pre-industrial paradigms.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Hunger Games has fire capes and instant food, but no plasma rifles and bows, spears and swords are still used. Airships and helicopters are used, but not planes. Justified in that the Capitol deliberately suppreses technology in the Districts, especially weapons tech.
  • Charles Stross' Merchant Prince series are a very good example. Some people are able to travel between parallel worlds with varying levels of technology. This leads to things like cavalry using heavy machine guns. Or a knight making trade agreements with megacorporations.
  • Most Steampunk works revel in this trope, though counterexamples do exist: The Difference Engine sees computers developed in the victorian era with considerable effort devoted to making them both plausable and integrated, though even here the rollerskates do seem pure Schizo-Tech (or Rule of Cool).
    • In fact, rollerskates were invented some time before 1743 and were mildly popular in Victorian times (inline ones, at that)...
  • The Planet Cull in Neal Asher's The Brass Man features "knights" riding on giant hogs who use lances to kill local monsters, protecting villagers who construct photovoltaic cells by hand as a trade. This is because they are the descendants of a stranded colony ship, of which their leaders are trying to use a telescope and a laser to re-establish contact with as it's still sitting in orbit and can be used as a relay to phone home back to Earth.
  • Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy has cigarettes, cameras and bathrooms with running water, but no weapons more advanced than crossbows. This is because every member of the society can shield, making them everything proof, not to mention the ability to kill people with a thought.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series features nations with fleets of flying warships and mile-range rifles that shoot explosive rounds, but in which the most valued comabt skill is swordsmanship.
    • It's explained both by the After the End nature of the setting (meaning most tech is reproduced from the ruins of the earlier Barsoomian civilization) and by the Proud Warrior Race nature of most of the planet's inhabitants- yeah, guns are more efficient, but swordsmanship is more honorable and personal, so it's preferred where possible.
  • In Orson Scott Card's Homecoming series, a benevolent mind-controlling computer keeps anyone on the planet Harmony from thinking of anything that might lend itself to large-scale warfare, with the end result that they have advanced computers, but the horse pulled wagon is a new invention in the story.
  • L. Sprague de Camp's novella Divide and Rule was written primarily to have as much fun with this trope as possible. It features trains pulled by elephants, knights with armor made of chrome steel and plexiglass, cavalry battles with radio correspondents, and castles that use canned food to outlast sieges, among many other things. This is justified by the fact that Earth has been conquered by aliens who give humans a fair degree of autonomy, but don't allow them certain technologies, such as explosives and motor vehicles.
    • Not entirely in the fantasy realm because of technology. In Real Life there were urban streetcars and trams pulled by large horses in the late 19th century, cavalry battles with wireless communications in WWI and with radio communications in WWII and canned food in the fortresses of the 19th century...
      • Horses tended to come off really badly though
  • In Western SF, Frank Herbert's Dune is perhaps the preeminent example of this, though the reasons for it are well-rooted in the series Backstory.
    • To be more specific, there are strict religio-political limitations on technology as a reaction to conflicts with sentient computers and cyborgs created by humans; culminating in a major war known in-universe as the Butlerian Jihad. Adherence to the prohibitions vary. Some societies, most notably that of Ix, develop technology that skirts the edge of the prohibitions, if not outright stepping over it; further adding to the Schizo-Tech nature of the setting. This only increases in later books, with humans returning from the Diaspora bringing back even more advanced technology, while the remaining cultures have regressed even farther.
  • Stephen King's The Dark Tower series is a great version of this. It takes place in a mystical Wild West filled with malfunctioning robots. Though it's never explicitly said what happened, the books obviously exist on a planet After the End.

Eddie: "Just what the hell happened here? Nuclear war?"
Blaine: [Laughter] "Something far worse than that, believe me."

  • Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium is defined by a century-long period of Medieval Stasis following the creation of Faster-Than-Light Travel, due to every politician in the named entity being either an Obstructive Bureaucrat, a Strawman Political or a Well-Intentioned Extremist; the only way all these megalomaniacs could agree not to start World War III was to agree not to develop weapons technology any further, which of course meant not developing anything, and even trashing all the libraries so nobody could build better weapons by MacGyvering. They then proceeded to deport millions of people every year to every marginally habitable world they could find, often with little more than the clothes on their backs. The result is a smorgasbord of Schizo Tech. Casual Interstellar Travel, but no lasers. Hand-held anti-satellite weaponry stored next to bolt-action rifles. Spaceports with horse troughs. Pournelle's 'Verse never actually recovered from the whole mess; a thousand years later, every Space Marine thinks PDAs are state-of-the-art.
  • Mortal Engines has quite a few examples of this: heavier-than-air flight doesn't exist (at least at the start of the series), swords are still as popular as guns, and computers are barely a twinkle in anybody's eye, but about half the world lives in cities mounted on treads with powerful engines and mechanical jaws capable of seizing smaller cities and taking them apart for scrap. To be fair, keeping the cities running is portrayed as a massive effort and the primary concern of local governments.
  • Everpresent in A Series of Unfortunate Events, in which telegraphs coexist with fiber-optic cables.
  • The Book of the New Sun 's Schizo-Tech can be summed up by paraphrasing one of its appendices - The future Urth is a world where continents are just as far away to the average person as other star systems. And the peasantry carry crossbows that shoot thermite explosives.
  • One very representative example is a short story in an issue of Analog, in which the most advanced two species in the universe can use black hole as a source of energy and have more Wave Motion Guns than you can imagine, but are surprised and, for one of the two species (both flew around in gigantic spaceships), destroyed by a lucky shot from a device consisting of a long tube, a titanium coated projectile, and an explosive, i.e., a gun. Apparently, only humans are brutish enough to come up with the idea.
  • "The Road Not Taken" short-story by Harry Turtledove. It turns out that antigravity and faster than light travel are absurdly simple, but have no applications other than travel, and don't fit into other scientific theories, and thus provides no other benefits. Humans, who have missed the discovery, are invaded in 2039 by a species that did during their age of sail. It's humans with 21st century tech versus aliens with highly maneuverable aircraft, starships...and black-powder flintlock muskets. The only thing earth fighters were somewhat inferior was maneuverablity; they more than enough made for it with the speed, radar and sheer firepower. It was very short-lived invasion.
    • Once Humanity copies the technology, their invasions are even shorter. A couple of captive aliens even lampshaded it in a hilarious "What Have We Done" moment—exactly in these words, no less.
  • The Worldwar series, also by Harry Turtledove, is considerably harder, the Race, despite having mastered things like cryogenics and half-light speed travel, never thought to stick poison gas in a canister and shoot it at their enemy. Meaning they never invented a proper defense. In addition they have been unified for fifty thousand years and have only fought pre-gunpowder civilizations since then (until the 1940s of course), so they haven't needed any military weapons more advanced than assault rifles and nukes.
    • It is stated multiple times that if the Race had arrived just 40 years earlier they would have conquered more than just the third world countries and that if they had arrived much later they would have been utterly defeated (or would have found a radioactive rock where an inhabitable planet used to be).
      • In fact the Race invasion caused human technology to advance more quickly, by the sixties most cars are powered by hydrogen and the US sent a nuclear powered ship to the asteroid belt, and sent a starship traveling at a third of lightspeed to the Race homeworld by the end of the century.
    • They were expecting a walk-over (the last info they had was from the 12th century), not an industrial enemy. Plus they'd not had any use for the stuff in 50,000 years, so they'd probably just forgotten about it.
      • Despite this, they can still be called Crazy Prepared for bringing nukes to fight what they thought would be Medieval savages, even though they themselves abhor using these weapons due to the long-term damage to the environment. The nukes they use during the first days of the invasion are only for EMP purposes, which utterly fail due to the fact that humans haven't developed integrated circuits yet.
  • The Land of Oz is a Magical Land with wind up robots, cyborgs, and radios. The books actually inspired many Sci-Fi writers, like Isaac Asimov.
  • In Neal Stephenson's Anathem this is a deliberate trait of the Avout, who live extremely simple, monastic lives without even a printing press, but make their robes using femtotechnology, grow trees genetically engineered to have leaves that can be used like paper, and carry around nigh-invulnerable femtotech "Spheres" that can be resized, recoloured and to a limited extent reshaped to serve as anything from stool or lantern to bullet-stopping shield (actually the effectiveness of the sphere as a bullet-proof shield was tested in the book, the verdict: ineffective).
  • In The Planiverse, most Ardean technology is described by the humans as "late nineteenth century", but they also have an experimental computer, rocket planes, and even a space station. Justified because of the limitations of a two-dimensional universe.
  • Doctor Grordbort's Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory is a spoof catalogue of Victorian-era rayguns, robots, and other Cool but Inefficient Steampunk devices. Includes a short illustrated story on a hunting expedition rampant wildlife slaughter on Venus.
  • At the primitive end of the anachronism scale, the fuzzies from the Fuzzy novels are initially mistaken for pre-sentient primates, because they didn't use fire. Their tools, however, were more sophisticated than what a pre-fire culture should've had: they just had lots of thick fur to keep warm, and liked eating their food raw.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation series is full of Schizo-Tech, since the decline and Fall of the Galactic Empire saw science degrade first into mere past-revering authoritarianism, then into a religion of technology where Foundation-indoctrinated priests made machines work by rote and have no idea of the principles behind them. Only the Foundation(s) keep the concepts of science and research alive, plus records of the Lost Technology from brighter days.
  • Eric Flint's 1632 series is practically bursting with this trope. This isn't really surprising to anyone who's read the series, considering that the 1630s of the setting had books covering over three and a half centuries of technological advancement dumped into it, courtesy of the arrival of Grantville from April 2000.
    • It develops another level of Schizo-Tech since the limited industrial capacity of the 1600s makes replicating modern technology unfeasible for the time being, meaning they have to settle for recreating 19th century technology as a stopgap.
  • His Dark Materials has this. Lyra's Earth has Victorian/steampunk tech plus an advanced knowledge of physics, electricity, and nuclear weapons.
  • Discworld is going through an accelerated technological revolution, having in the course of the books starting from extremely low-tech fantasy to having a fully functional continent-spanning semaphore network acting as a proto-Internet. Several other schizo-tech examples were temporary magical errors such as the invention of the movie industry (silver portals for eldritch abominations) and shopping malls (a giant creature-hive that hatches from snow globes that feeds on society)
    • Eventually lampshaded and deconstructed by Thief of Time. Early books had this trope in spades, with one novel introducing a Shakespearian style theater as a bold new invention, while another had a Victorian opera house in the same city that had been there for centuries. Turns out that time is not quite as it should be on the Disc; the history monks are forced to repair the damaged timeline with extra bits from previous eras, and the end result is that history itself is now a mishmash of anachronisms and continuity problems.
  • In Kevin J. Anderson's Terra Incognita series the general tech level is the usual Middle Ages type found in fantasy stories but the Saedrans use navigational equipment better suited to the 18th century that enable them to determine longitude and the Urecari invent crude, balloon based airships.
  • Gor has enforced Medieval Stasis for the most part but they also invented immortaliy formulas. The "justification" for this is that on Earth we spent too much time learning how to make guns.
  • China Mieville's Bas-Lag stories are set in a world that is roughly late-Victorian in technological terms with steam power being the driving force of industry and neon lights and phonographs being recent inventions, but also has robots and a long-defunct weather control machine. Justified in-universe, in that it's implied that the world was more advanced centuries ago, and in fact many "new" inventions are merely rediscovered.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Seekers of the Sky duology, the armies of the nations fight with bronze swords, spears, and bows. Meanwhile, their officers (all nobles) carry firearms of various type (from simple revolvers to heavy machinguns). They also have an air force composed of wooden aircraft that use rocket boosters for acceleration and bombs for ground assault. No forms of dogfighting are mentioned. This is all because iron is extremely difficult to obtain in this world. Time-wise, the setting is contemporary (i.e. start of 21st century), but the lack of iron has seriously hindered progress. Also, iron is treated as gold, despite its tendency to rust. Imagine wearing iron jewelry and considering it the height of luxury.
    • The cause for all this is not anything geological but the use of magic to remove most of iron from Earth during the age of Rome to stop people from fighting. Needless to say, it didn't work. All iron is restored at the end of the second novel.
  • Anne McCaffrey's The Ship Who... Won uses this, most of the colonists are living in a neo-feudal situation while their masters are in control of technology so advanced it looks like magic. Justified in that the technology they're using was created by aliens and is hugely durable.
  • Probably because it was written in the 1920s and 30s, the Lensman series has a lot of Schizo-Tech. Spaceships are no problem, but when characters talk about computers, they're talking about banks of men (or occasionally, multi-armed aliens) with slide rules. At one point the main character uses a stealth space speedster powered, to avoid detection of the light from fusion drives, by a diesel engine. There's a lot more - the original Space Opera looks quite dated, since Science Marches On.
  • Cormac McCarthy's The Crossing is set in New Mexico (with serveral trips to Old Mexico) during the 1930s and 40s. As such, it's basically a Western of the kind that could be set anytime during the preceding hundred years or so, with cowboys riding horses and having shootouts with rustlers, violence on both sides of the border, etc. It's only on the occasions when the protagonists go back to town that we're reminded that the world is quite modern, with telephones and movies, and the advanced level of technology is only really brought home at the end of the novel, when the surviving protagonist drifts close enough to Alamagordo, New Mexico, to witness the first testing of the atomic bomb.
  • George Mann's Ghosts of Manhatten takes place in an Alternate History Steampunk/Dieselpunk New York with coal powered cars and airships but also rocket propelled bi-planes, holographic sculptures and videophones and SAMs were apparently used in WWI. Also the hero, a Captain Ersatz of Batman/The Shadow uses night vision goggles, rocket boots and a flechette gun with exploding bullets.
  • Due to future interference, the Belisarius Series gains this more and more as it progresses. Chariot-mounted rocket launchers. Armoured heavy cavalry (with lances and bows) in the same army as rifle-carrying infantry in communication by radio with headquarters. Pretty much what you'd expect when 1500 years of advanced knowledge gets dumped abruptly on a civilization that still hasn't figured out the stirrup on its own
  • And then we have Percy Jackson and The Olympians. It's the modern world. Cell Phones and surfing the Net attract monsters. But the Demigods fight with Chariots, Swords, Spears, Shields and Bows and Arrows. Oh yes, and a Mossberg 500, as seen in The Lost Hero. So why don't they switch to guns instead? Yeah, I know some of these weapons are magical, but can't you do that with a gun?
    • The only materials that can kill monsters are Celestial Bronze and Imperial Gold. It would be absurdly expensive to keep making bullets made of those metals.
  • The Thursday Next books are set in an alternate version of England in the late 1980s, with fusion generators, genetic resurrection of extinct species, and Gravitubes that tunnel through the Earth's mantle to allow travellers to cross the globe in forty minutes. Their aircraft consist of zeppelins and propellor planes, though, and space travel is pure science fiction.
  • In The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov, the Solarian society has Uterine Replicator but not artificial insemination.
  • The Stainless Steel Rat series are set in a universe where the League attempt to reassemble a fallen empire. Steampunk style robots with imported brains are present, and one character was wearing a homemade leather jacket with plastic boots.
  • In David Weber's Out of the Dark, we meet this trope. It's unusual for a race with nuclear power to still be using fossil fuels, and no other race has reached our tech level without One World Order, so no one has ever applied modern technology to combat within a gravity well. Unfortunately, the Shongairi don't fully appreciate this when they bring troops meant to invade pre-industrial civilizations to a battle with modern military hardware.
  • In the second Dinotopia book, protagonist Arthur Denison invents a flying machine. In the 19th century. And then there's Poseidos.
  • In Mistborn, The Empire closely resembles the early 1800s in terms of fashion, architecture, and technology (complete with canned food and a widespread canal system), but weapons technology is decidedly medieval. Very Justified because the Lord Ruler has been in power for the last thousand years and brutally cracked down on anything that he thinks might threaten his power.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Firefly/Serenity Verse mixes starships and Wild West technology indiscriminately. There's a good in-Verse explanation for this: the Alliance tends to dump colonists on recently-terraformed worlds with the bare minimum needed to survive. As well, high technology is concentrated in Alliance hands, due to the Unification War between the outer planets and the core worlds, which ended in an Alliance victory, and they have no intention of letting the outer planets rise again.
    • In fact, one can actually see real Schizo Tech at work in a few locations in the series. For example, in "Heart of Gold" there's a house that looks like it would be right at home in a Western, with minimal technology, period dresses, an old-style well, and cheap newspaper-based insulation....and they have a futuristic-looking wall terminal complete with interplanetary communications.
      • In that episode, it's also quite likely that the higher than usual level of Schizo Tech is due to a conscious, in-universe decision; one character mentions that the Villain of the Week deliberately keeps the world in a low-technology state so that he can dominate it economically and indulge in an Old West fantasy.
  • Some of the planets visited on the various incarnations of Star Trek exhibit this trope. One Next Gen episode had a relatively primitive, pre-industrial society that had dissolving doors that spontaneously re-formed after use. Yeah. Oh and faster than light communication but were too primitive to contact.
    • They were pre-warp, not pre-industrial. But yeah, the dissolving doors were a bit much.
  • The Wild Wild West series is a sterling example of the trope. The Wild West setting mixed with gadgets worthy of James Bond and plenty of mad scientists with anachronistic inventions.
  • Fringe offers an interesting three-tiered use of this trope. In the show, scientific and technological advances have been taking place for decades under the radar of the public. In addition to typical present-day technology, mega-corporation Massive Dynamic produces space age future tech weapons and gizmos. However, a third tech level exists as the protagonists have some rudimentary prototype gadgets designed by Mad Scientist Walter Bishop. The prototypes were designed 20–30 years in the past, as Walter has spent the 17 years before the first season in a mental institution. His laboratory and devices have a low-tech look but function beyond the scope of conventional science.
    • For an example of the latter, witness Walter's amazing matter transporter machine. It looks like some metal, wires and lenses...no computers or even obvious power source. But it can teleport a person from any point in space and time to any other point in space and time. Shit just got real.
    • There's also a subtle aversion. While tech developed by Massive Dynamics is sleek and efficient, the various reality bending gadgets (old and new) essentially never work as advertised or have bizarre complications involved. The development process is very much apparent.
    • And that's not even getting started on the technology of the Alternate Universe folks, or of the Observers: in the Alternate Universe, mainstream technological development is accelerated in certain areas. In the 1980's, the AU already had dashboard CD players and small lightweight digital cell phones. By the time the series is set, the AU possesses advanced technology like Nanite Regeneration Chambers, Energy Weapons, and computers in thin, flexible paper-like form. The Observers have some really advanced technology similar to the AU, but they tend to disguise it (and themselves) in retro stylings.
      • Though the AU was also still using zeppelins in the '80s; either a Hindenburg-type event caused them to design airships with new technology, or the lack of one allowed them to keep advancing along new and better lines.
  • Earth in Power Rangers. Fully functional interplanetary spacecraft by 1997, space colonies by 1999, and Ridiculously-Human Robots indistinguishable (literally) from the real thing by 2007, and yet everyday technology looks and works exactly the same. One would think that if antigravity technology is advanced enough to show up in earthmade Ranger bikes, it'd show up in at least the very high class cars, but no.
  • Red Dwarf has more than a bit of this too, video tapes and spaceships for example. Lampshaded in the recent Dave special when Kryten explained that the human race abandoned DVDs in favour of videos because mankind could never be bothered to put them back in the cases and videos are too large to lose.
    • Parodied by Holly, a tenth-generation AI Hologrammatic computer whose one true love was unreliable ZX Spectrum.
  • Max Headroom had computers with old-fashioned manual typewriter keyboards. Think "steampunk" but dirtier.
  • Used deliberately in Spellbinder: the protagonist from our world initially thinks he's travelled back in time to a standard mediaeval setting, but then sees a flying machine. It turns out that this is in fact an Alternate Universe in which the titular Spellbinders are a ruling class who keep the people ignorant so they can claim their technology is magic.
    • The ruling class themselves aren't sure how it all works either and can't make more. This is because the settingn is After the End, where the rest of the world is in a new Ice Age and all the Spellbinder tech was scavenged from the remains of the previous civilization.
  • One episode of Sliders had policemen, wearing modern police uniforms, driving a modern police car... and armed with swords.
  • Warehouse 13 is made of this trope. Magic lightning guns from Tesla? Video phones from Farnsworth?
  • Caprica makes an interesting example. It takes place on another planet, and a lot of the technology seems Twenty Minutes in The Future, but a lot of it is far more advanced than others of it would allow, while other aspects are strangely primitive. For instance, the police are still using rather bulky, easily visible bugs instead of remote listening equipment we have available now.
    • Of course Caprican technology has no relation to Earth technology and can take a different course.
    • Battlestar Galactica had it too: The 12 Colonies were very similar to our world in lifestyle. Cities look like they would on Earth. People use cars easily recognisable to us. Until you look at the sky and see the starships whizzing about. And their computers? They are much weaker than ours: A Colonial Laptop shown in one episode looked like it was from the 1980s!
      • The computer example is at least partially justified in that they scaled back after the Cylon uprising. Caprica shows that they had extremely advanced computers.
  • The Jaffa from Stargate SG-1 live and breathe this trope. They are a starfaring race who, after overthrowing their Goa'uld overlords, rule a pretty sizeable interstellar empire. They fly through space in ships that use higher technology than is available on Earth, have teleportation technology, and use energy weapons as personal sidearms. Yet every time we see them on their own planet, we see thatch-roofed huts, homespun clothing, and "technology" that would have looked right at home on Earth during the Fifth or Sixth centuries AD.
    • We can build ships these days that would have dwarfed whole fleets before the start of the 20th century, but we're still building houses out of wood and/or bricks. A group that doesn't have a preset industry for the said product often finds it difficult to build such products.
  • In Doctor Who the main character flies around in a super advanced sentient time machine made by his advanced alien race. The console of said Time Machine is (sometimes) partly composed of typewriters, water faucets and skipping rope. Justified since he is a time-traveler, and the TARDIS is basically an old jallopy held together with whatever the Doctor can find.
    • This explanation made sense until The Eleventh Hour, when it turned out that the TARDIS is perfectly capable of recreating all necessary tech with no help from the Doctor (even the Sonic Screwdriver is grown, not built by the Doctor) and apparently just likes to look that way. Fans of the ever-tinkering Ninth Doctor and the techno-geeky Tenth Doctor were not pleased.
    • The asteroid in the episode "The Doctor's Wife" is also this. It has everything from the remenents of destroyed space ships, to washing machines, to Elizabethen period dress-wear. Also Justified, since its filled with all the flotsom and jetsom of the universe.
    • And then there's the laser-equipped, space-capable spitfires in "Victory of the Daleks".
    • Taken Up to Eleven in "The Wedding of River Song". As The Doctor puts it, all of time is happening at once - steam engines are traveling between modern skyscrapers, commuting is done on cars hanging from hot air balloons, and Charles Dickens is being interviewed on TV about his new "Christmas special".
    • Genesis Of The Daleks lampshades this, as it features a war between two advanced civilizations (possessing nuclear capabilities, energy weapons, and genetic engineering) which nevertheless mostly resembles World War Two (allowing the Daleks to be compared to the Nazis). This is because it is a thousand year long war, and they've quite simply run out of resources. A highly ranked soldier might still have a laser gun, but his subordinates are now reduced to gunpowder based weaponry.

Music[edit | hide]

  • Another mockery in 50,000 Robot Archers [2] from Acid Age:

Archers, as far as the eye can see
Coming to kill me
Arrows tipped with lasers
Robots on a rager

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Warhammer 40,000 ranges from worlds covered entirely in cities and advanced space age factories to planets full of human colonists that have regressed to a medieval or even Stone Age level. This is explained in the setting by the Age of Strife, when the manifestation of a new Chaos God disrupted interstellar travel and cut worlds off from Earth for millennia at a time. In general, the Imperium can range from a low Type 0 on the Kardashev Scale to a borderline Type III. Not infrequently, examples of both will exist and fight side-by-side.
    • There is also a bit of "lost tech" going on in the setting. The Imperium's technology is controlled by a religious cult called the Adeptus Mechanicus that doesn't believe in researching new technology and is not as much trying to understand the technology they currently have as try to recover what was lost and worship whatever old technology they can find from before the Age of Strife.
      • As a more straight example, common servo-skulls - constructs with a bit of animal brain plus computer system for control, small antigravity generator to fly and a human skull as the case. Depending on the attitude, some users put candles on them when they need some extra light.
      • True AI are outlawed in the Imperium after a machine uprising nearly toppled it in the distant past by a group of sentient robots called the Men of Iron. The most common solution is to employ servitors - crude lobotomized (or vat grown, if there aren't enough convicts) cyborgs.
  • The fantasy version of Warhammer Fantasy Battle features this too, particularly in recent editions. The Empire have a steam-powered tank and a "clockwork" horse while the Dwarfs - better yet - have a helicopter armed with a steam cannon (not mentioning an organ gun and a huge cannon-like flamethrower). The Skaven, infamously, feature "fantasy" versions of a sniper rifle, a ratling gun, a flamethrower, a laser cannon, a hamster wheel of death and what what appears to be three seperate types of nuclear bombs-including a Davy Crockett Personal Nuclear Missile Launcher (all of which may fail with destructively hilarious results). This in a world where a powerful human kingdom still think knights and longbows are cutting-edge, and there's at least one major faction that's entirely Stone Age. Fan reactions have been mixed, although some earlier editions featured actual plasma guns and laser pistols, so modern players get off lightly really.
  • Rifts, being set After After the End, has a lot of this. Many wilderness villages may not have running water and only a few electrical generators, but will have laser rifles capable of blowing a sedan in half with one shot. And let's not get into magic.
  • BattleTech is also rife with this sort of thing. The Mecha all have guns and missiles with great range and hideous damage, but due to the rubbished industrial base apparently nobody can build decent fire control or air-conditioning systems, so most fighting takes place at close range (under 1 kilometer!) and most mechwarriors fight in what amounts to underwear.
    • The range issue is actually done only for gameplay purposes. The rule book states that weapon ranges are intentionally made ridiculously short because otherwise map sizes would be enormous.
    • Similarly, while BattleMechs have supposedly made tanks—not necessarily combat vehicles in general, just the old twentieth-century style armored boxes with a turret—essentially obsolete centuries ago in-universe, everybody still uses them anyway. Some handwaving about how they're supposedly cheaper and easier to produce is basically canon, and of course weapons and armor have kept up with the times, but it's still like keeping prop fighters in production and actual military use long after everybody already knows how to make perfectly good jets...
    • Schizo-Tech comes up a lot when dealing with backwater colony worlds. A hunter might use a blackpowder pistol to kill a deer for dinner, then come home and cook it in a microwave.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game world is full of this, possibly because nobody's ever bothered to explain any of it. We are talking about a world where a medieval knight can do battle with a low-orbit ion cannon and win. That same ion cannon also greatly fears duct tape.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has their share. As usual.
    • Gary Gygax played around with this trope a lot in his original Greyhawk home games, although most of them (mostly imported from Earth or found in crashed spaceships) got left out in later releases for that campaign setting.
    • Mystara also has a number of anachronisms, either as Shout Outs (Heldannic Knights' bird-of-prey flying vessels), in-jokes, or remnants of (again) a crashed spaceship.
      • The Hollow World, inside Mystara, proactively averts this trope with the Spell of Preservation, which makes people in various cultures distrust and spurn unfamiliar technologies, no matter how useful.
    • Technology levels in Ravenloft range from Stone Age to late Renaissance, depending on where you are, with even higher tech turning up in the local Mad Scientist Laboratory. This is because new domains are added to the Land of Mists from different worlds with their own indigenous tech-levels, rather than technology evolving in tandem within adjacent countries.
    • The Dragonlance setting has the Tinker Gnomes who power their dormant volcano home with Geothermal power and individual Gnomes have invented things like Powered suits of armor, Invisibility Spray, various Clockwork automaton, and even a nuclear bomb. The Tinker Gnomes are a race of bungling inventors, and so a lot of their technology does tend to be a bit prone to exploding... It should be noted that terrible side effects has made most of the other races distrust anything more complex than a windmill.
  • Spirit of the Century plays with this, as it's set in the 1920s but uses pulp Science! to allow more futuristic technology, and even full on mad science inventions that we still haven't made. The book does a good job of cataloguing what inventions are just around the corner to give you some idea what the state of the art inventions you could get prototypes to, or make, are.
  • Conventional technology in Exalted is mostly around middle-to-late Bronze Age/early Iron Age. But those with the needed skills can create a hyper-precision wristwatch with perpetual calendar, sunrise and sunset calculator, moon phase display, and the functional equivalent of high resolution GPS as a minor tool.
    • Even without the inventors, Creation still has a variable tech level, ranging from cities where a few guards may have firewands and there's a medieval level civic works thing going on, to cities like Chiaroscuro where the rich quarters have elevators and a functional equivalent of electricity, to the relative metropoli of the Blessed Isle.
  • The world of Alexander Athanatos from GURPS: Bio-Tech is mainly in the Iron Age yet capable of producing genetic hybrids thanks to Hippocrates triggering revolution in medical science.
  • Crimson Skies is an Alternate Universe setting where the United States of America broke up and the successor states are plagued by air pirates. It regularly features propeller driven aircraft armed with magnetic rockets in addition to zeppelins armed with remote controlled gun turrets and rocket launchers. The Xbox adaption, High Road To Revenge, features a German Fascist Group called Die Spinne who have Tesla weapons and a weather control device. This series is set in the 1930's.
  • The Space 1889 RPG was all about this trope. Though most of the weapons described in it are either historically-accurate late XIX-century weaponry or very rare Steampunk inventions. Martians use rather primtive weapons but they are, all in all completely different civilization.
  • Naturally, Shadowrun picks up this ball and runs with it. Even disregarding the Cyberpunk-meets-magic setting, there are weapons like katanas and claymores to go with their assault rifles and grenades. Vibro-swords are higher tech, but... still swords.
  • Traveller has it reasonably well justified; there is a lot of space in, well, space and some stuff never gets to some planets. Also there have been a large number of disasters in the Traveller history. And even those from high tech cultures like to go retro on occasions, like using swords when they fight a Duel to the Death.
  • The world of Yrth, setting of GURPS Banestorm, is a vaguely-medieval fantasy world like many others, except that people from Earth occasionally get teleported there and stranded. The Powers That Be suppress gunpowder, but many minor technologies and concepts have become common, including the germ theory of disease, some experiments in vaccination, heliocentric astronomy with elliptical orbits, the modern novel, stagecoaches with suspensions, sloops and brigs, fingerprinting, and the use of perspective in art.
  • New Horizon was colonized by humans with advanced technology... and low resources. Thus, while every town has touches of modern inventions - a few computers, a Promethean or two, the ever present Wafans—the setting as a whole generally features more frontier-level technology, like flintlocks and rifles.
  • In Fading Suns most advanced technology is prohibited or restricted by the Church following the fall of the Second Republic, though it's not always enforced, particularly in weapons tech. For example, a militia man on a backworld may have a laser, while his wife still cleans the shirts on the rocks by the stream. As noted on fan site, there are several good reasons for this:
    1. Feudal Future: the nobles have military mobilized via feudal fealty. A Baron has his own regiment, and beyond levies written in his contract with the liege it's his own business what he got and how outfits it, unification cannot be enforced; even if better equipment is available, a noble may be unable - or unwilling, not everyone got bad neighbours - to spend on it more than absolutely necessary. And if he can afford the shiny toys, he needs qualified personnel, too. Aerospace forces start appearing around the County level because that's what it takes to maintain and defend infrastructure. Conversely, the Muster and the Brother Battle forces are more uniform, because this doesn't apply to them: as widespread centralized groups with their own supply branches, they set for themselves standards they can afford to maintain. Feudal structure also creates mentality and politics of feudal "Proportional Warfare": each conflict has its own scale - barons fight other barons, princes fight princes. And the better forces are used, the more one risks or less wins on morale and reputation as well, which gives more incentive to not waste good stuff on border skirmishes and unimportant operations, even if you could afford this.
    2. Logistics/Economy: it's often possible to fix a diesel engine with common tools and crude spares, but once you got a dead circuit board in some high-tech component, you need to get new high-tech parts from... somewhere else, probably the guilds. And deliver them all the way to your broken tank. And have some sort of a repair shop for non-trivial cases. It's better to field a working diesel tank than keep a dead hovertank in garage. And since the former costs less, the actual choice is whether to have ten diesel tanks you can maintain or one hovertank that can be mission-killed with a single lucky hit and may or may not be fixed after that - which even more favors low-tech solutions. To use high-tech ones efficiently you need to invest into maintenance and repair infrastructure (see above).
    3. Schizotech perpetuates itself: due to costs and risk/benefit ratios, "the odds are on the cheaper man". A column of low-tech infantry reinforced with SMG-toting shielded knights can be bombed by planks-and-tarp planes, but a jet bomber will do a better job, as it strikes faster. However, choosing the cheap easily produced option means the attacker's losses will be much less crippling in case said column happens to include support troops with MANPAD. So if you don't know what you face, a safer strategy is to use expensive assets only when you must, or for tipping the scales at a critical point. Conversely, the great advantage of House Decados was superior spy network - knowing what exactly and where they will face allows to at least not lose in Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors.
  • The technology in The Splinter covers everything from early medieval weapons to impossibly advanced, essentially magical devices. The core rulebook includes repeating crossbows, monofilament razor-wire launchers, steam-punk Gatling guns, automatic shotguns, advanced underwater laser pistols, heavy insanity rays, blade-wands, disintegrator pistols, directional nukes, and about fifty types of old-fashiond medieval slaughtering tools.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Blue Dragon is this Up to Eleven - the ancient civilisation relied on highly advanced technology, until they all died out. And Technology Marches On.
  • In Pocket God, sharks have lasers on their heads and drain plugs have been invented during the Prehistoric Era.
  • The Warcraft series threw in more Schizo-Tech as it went along, thanks to the combined engineering efforts of dwarfs, gnomes, and goblins. The strategy game series featured swords and sorcery, guns and cannons, and flying machines. World of Warcraft added mass transit (in the form of the Deeprun Tram between Ironforge and Stormwind), robots, and teleportation devices.
    • The demons also got a lot of technology out of nowhere, including Humongous Mecha and Anti-Air cannons. They're shooting at people who are riding the highly advanced Giant Bird Thing technology. Nuclear warfare is also only for use on cavemen. Unsuccessfully. Clubs made of bone are much tougher.
      • It was more of a dirty bomb. The troggs just shrugged of the radiation.
    • By World of Warcraft, it becomes clear that technology in Azeroth is roughly equivalent to modern society, but the universe is quite different thanks to magic and the constant warfare between dozens of intelligent species. Well apart from the Steampunk and the fact that Magic Rock Beats Laser.
  • In War Wind, normal soldiers tend to be melee, but then you have the Obblinox, angry pigmen who use modern weaponry like shotguns and machine guns and are generally very Post-Apoc Punk in their technologies (the biker unit eschews guns for Rule of Cool axes), and there's even an in-race example, as the Eaggra are all 'medieval' until you create the sniper, who gets a nifty telescoping monocle, who can then be upgraded to the superunit Grenadier, who trades his crossbow in for a GRENADE LAUNCHER. The Tha'Roon have melee weaponry, choosing to rely on their magic for long-range attacks. Until one of them is fully cybered up, and can then be upgraded into a Jump Trooper, who functions much like the soldiers in the book version of Starship Troopers.
  • Outright lampshaded in Ghost Trick. The majority of areas seem to have near-contemporary levels of technology (besides the dependency on landlines for communication, which is a good thing since Sissel uses the phone lines to travel). However, the blue-skinned people from the unnamed foreign country have gigantic projector screens and grape-feeding robotic arms in their huge submarine, as well as amazingly human-like robots to run them. More than one person comments that they use technology 'oddly', which is apparently a common complaint leveled at their country.
  • Featured prominently in the Wild ARMs series. All of the games features Western-themed elements, but the world is actually riddled with technology way beyond colonial period or even modern capabilities. In fact, the first game starts off distinctly Western/medieval and ends up in a space station for the final battle, while the third uses databases and nanotechnology. See also: Lost Technology.
  • The Legend of Zelda series has elements of this. It's mostly medieval-style, but you'll occasionally run into jukeboxes, neon lights, telephones, and other technology.
    • Especially noticeable in Gaiden Game Majora's Mask. The third dungeon, the Great Bay Temple, is very Steampunk-inspired and is in sharp contrast with the other more typical brick-and-mortar dungeons in the game. A certain poster in one of the shops even mentions plans for space travel.
    • The 2009 game Spirit Tracks features Link riding around on a steam train. While also being the sword-swinging hero we all know and love.
    • And upon being asked in one interview why they insert a Train in a game set in Medieval Stasis, Eiji Aonuma replied that the Hook Shot could be considered Schizo-Tech as well: It's a small device featuring a massive chain, which is at least 20 meters long (Hammerspace ?) and a feather-mechanism that strong enough to move an adult human, even while wearing iron boots.
    • Twilight Princess features an entire building dedicated to this, it seems. Once the player meets the requirements for the opening of Malo Mart, you enter to find...neon lights. If you pay attention, the shopkeeper actually has a speaker rotating on his head, and a microphone. Partway into the music loop, the music volume goes down a bit (implying it is going over the same speaker), and he will excitedly jabber in the only instance of spoken Hylian ever heard in the entire series.
    • Spirit Tracks has an Anouki mentioning his friends at home worrying about their electric bills. Granted, the Anouki basically run on Rule of Funny, and are far enough removed from the rest of the Zelda universe that references like that are par for the course from them.
      • A little girl in Papuchia also claims that she is destined to be a movie star (and is glad that she won't be an extra, which is ironic given that her role in the game is just that—a nameless, optional, one-line character, which is probably what allows them to get away with the joke).
    • Skyward Sword has an in-universe justification for the series via means of Precursors having advanced technology to begin with, having been lost due to the ravages of time. Some characters have stumbled upon this tech and appropriated it to suit their needs, as in the case of Beedle the shopkeeper and Dodoh the Fun Fun Island clown.
  • All of the Ultima games, particularly the earliest ones, which had spaceships and starfighters coexisting with a high medieval civilization, and a cybernetic Big Bad in Ultima III: Exodus.
  • The Final Fantasy games started out as medieval fantasy with a few robots and propeller-driven airships thrown in (typically the province of one isolationist civilization), but by the time of Final Fantasy VII had instead become science fiction with swords and magic thrown in, with the occasional blend of the two.
    • Final Fantasy VI has a late 17th century Europe background, with a steam-powered industrial revolution, except instead of the military revolution being caused by gunpowder, it's being caused by the Magitek of a single nation while everyone else in the world still uses coal and wind power. There are also traditional Steampunk elements, of course, inculding Magitek armor and airships.
      • The FM Vs included in the Playstation version add some additional interesting elements: Narshe guards fire on Terra and her Imperial cohorts with rifles, for instance.
    • We definitely see progress towards Final Fantasy VII in a world with broadcast television, helicopters, internal combustion engines (like in cars or motorcycles,) jets, stage-based rockets, automatic weaponry, cellular phones, and even the more blatantly science fiction sub-plot of the mad scientist doing crazy Magitek/genetic experiments For Science!.
      • The Compilation of FFVII then went above and beyond by adding its own version of the Internet, digital simulation rooms, and mental uplinks.
    • Final Fantasy VIII takes this trope up to an entirely new level. The world of the game is shown to be 21st century, and then there's the city-state of Esthar which is pure Crystal Spires and Togas. All of this advancement and everyone still uses swords, whips, bare hands, etc. Justified in the case of SeeD, who are superhumanly strong and would have an advantage over ordinary humans in melee combat, and don't generally need firearms because of their magic. However, the Galbadian and Estharian militaries appear to use combinations of both firearms and melee weapons, and the Dollet military uses rifles exclusively. Not to mention giant machines and monsters. To be fair, how else are you going to counter a whip user that takes 500 bullets to kill and can still just have someone heal or revive them? In addition, as the page quote notes, they have access to long-range missiles but not radios, at least at the beginning of the game, due to a worldwide signal blackout caused by the interference generated by Sorceress Adel's orbital containment device.
    • Special mention has to go to Final Fantasy XII. Mostly stock Medieval European Fantasy with legendary dragons and magic stones and High Sorcery and legendary weapons of divine origin... except for the airships that look straight out of Star Wars. And the guns. And electricity, the electronic voice changers, the radios, the airports, electric public lighting, grenades, and robots, all of which use "Mist" as a power source but are otherwise mid-to-late 20th-century technology in use and functionality.
      • Somewhat Justified by the fact that most of the technology is actually "Mooglecraft": Moogles are behind most of Ivalice's advanced technology, but are only a minority among Ivalice sentients: appart for what comes from Cid's laboratory, pretty much everything built by non-Moogles is centuries behind Mooglecraft.
        • Interesting to note that Final Fantasy Tactics is set long after the events of FF12. The civilization seems to have reverted to straight middle-ages tech plus magic, except for the rare gun or robot, which is treated as an ancient artifact. An easily-overlooked note says that moogles are now extinct.
  • Mass Effect features this in an in-universe way: due to the huge difference in histories, cultures, geographies, and biologies of the different species, one species' tech development could easily appear this way to another species. The unbelievable speed of human expansion and advancement in the galaxy...while a vast majority of the human population still resides on Earth (a mere forty years after the huge, game-changing technological discovery on Mars), where it's likely you can still easily find communities existing at only slightly futuristic (or less) technology levels.
    • Mass Effect 3 allows the player to customize guns with attachments that change the weapon's appearance for the first time in the series. While the attachments do the usual things like increasing damage or magazine capacity, they look like parts from modern-day firearms. The internal workings of guns in Mass Effect bear absolutely no resemblance to modern-day firearms and their appearance is suitably futuristic to accommodate the fluff, so the modern-day attachments stand out a lot.
  • Phantasy Star III is a medieval fantasy setting with the science fiction elements placed seemingly randomly: the game takes place on a space ark that has been fleeing its doomed homeworld, Palma, of Phantasy Star II for a thousand years, and its residents have long-since forgotten. IV was more of a sci-fi/fantasy western, and all of its sci-fi elements are a product of Lost Technology. The first two games mostly avert this, however; they're more-or-less fully Science Fantasy settings, and while melee weapons such as swords and tiger claws are in use, even they are normally made of advanced materials (such as advanced ceramics or Laconia), or are Laser Blades.
  • The Elder Scrolls has the Steampunk factories and automatons of the Dwemer and Sheogorath, the god of madness, who wears a prominently displayed pocket watch, despite the fact that clockwork has never been invented in Tamriel.
    • The Demi-God Sotha-Sil lives in a clockwork city with a few races of clockwork beings he created himself. The part of the city the player gets to explore has lots of clockwork traps and even a huge clockwork mecha. There is even something that looks like a control panel in his work-shop.
  • Most of the Devil May Cry series fits this in their perpetual search (and usually success) at finding the optimal way to produce the Rule of Cool: swords and guns are both used against demons (although guns do little damage) and the medieval castle on Mallet Island in Devil May Cry has lifts. Temen-ni-Gru tower in Devil May Cry 3 displays the "clockpunk" variant of Steampunk very well, having elevators and monorail trams despite having been built two millenia ago and not touched until its unsealing in the present day; then again, it was built by demons.
  • Likewise, the Might and Magic series of RPGs are apparently set in a fantasy world, but the characters will eventually run into robots, technical maintenance tunnels, and space ships. And wield blasters in place of Infinity Plus One Swords. The in-game explanation is that the fantasy world was created by a high-tech race as an experiment.
    • The first games had vague mentions of a war between the Ancients (said to be the good guys, and the creators of the worlds in question) and the Creators. The retardation of technology seems to be at least somewhat deliberate, and part of the experiment- to keep the would-be colonists from finding out they are on (part of) a ship, for instance. From Might & Magic VI onward? Well, there is a reason for the dating system being 'After the Silence'...
    • Word of God noted that there's nothing that would make the worlds in question follow Earth's technological development directly, especially not with magic around. Which presumably explains how a world without guns, or at least with guns being very, very rare, could also have a prototype fleet-sinking cannon.
  • Drakengard is ostensibly medieval fantasy, yet certain elements stick out as being beyond prevailing technological constraints. For one, the giant Cyclopes that appear during the game's War Sequence. You might say this was the product of some deranged Functional Magic or heretofore unmentioned Magitek, but the game explicitly states that these creatures are the product of The Empire's war factories.
  • A trademark of the Wizardry series of videogames. it featured the standard fantasy swords and magic type world. But also spacefaring races, using 17th century firearms and 80s computers. Or light sabers. And robots as Mecha-Mooks or Angels.
  • In the 1992 game The Lost Vikings, three Vikings battle green monsters and evil computers. When they do get home, they proceed to show off what they learned to their families... which is apparently The Power of Rock.
  • The game Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magick Obscura is set in a fantasy world (with orcs, elves, dwarves, and magic) that is undergoing an industrial revolution. And magic and technology tend not to like each other. As in "A scientist picks up a sword, and the magic in it just drains away; a wizard wants to look at the controls of the running train engine, causing it malfunction disastrously".
  • The world of Zork developed with technology and magic going hand-in-hand. In Zork: Grand Inquisitor, where magic is banned by the Inquisition, the world has a technology level somewhere around World War II. They can harness the power of electricity, and have radio, television, and movies, but don't have the technology for cars, planes, or firearms. Seems possible they either don't the ingredients or never figured out how to refine fossil fuels or invent gunpowder.
  • A mild version of this trope is present in BioShock (series). The game takes place in the year 1959, which is evident by most of the setting (old televisions, tommy guns, even clothes and hairstyles). And yet, there are things like super-advanced geothermal reactors, autonomous flying bots (ok, they do tend to crash all over the place, but still), machines that can create all kinds of ammunition from a few commonly available items, portable guided rockets, and of course a huge city several miles under the Atlantic ocean, which would be an impossible endeavor even with today's technology.
    • "The Thinker", Rapture's Master Computer introduced in Minerva's Den goes all over the place with this: it's apparently the brain behind the aforementioned security bots and it's capable of perfectly mimicking human personalities given enough input, effectively passing the Turing test and yet despite being the size of a building, according to an advertisement it's capable of performing "one million calculations per second", meaning any computer/console capable of running the game itself can out perform it.
  • Star Ocean 1 started in a fantasy world, and then you travel back in time 300 years to the same fantasy world... but two of the main characters are commanding staff on a spaceship from Earth. (Before you get to go back in time, you're required to dump all futuristic weapons... including the swords, for some reason.) They adapt with frightening ease; Captain Ronyx even takes up magic.
    • In fact, all of the Star Ocean games feature this in some way. Even though it takes place in the far future in outer space, the lead character always uses swords to fight, and you'll generally spend most of your time on primitive planets. Typically, the discovery of more modern technology is a major plot point in itself, and hints that space faring races have already visited the "primitive" world.
  • The post-Apocalyptic game Alpha Man has everything from pitchforks and cured hide armor, to swords and toasters, to phasers, durasteel armor, and transmogrifiers.
  • Chrono Trigger initially takes place in the year 1000. That doesn't stop the main character's best friend Lucca from building robots, teleporters, and a time portal key.
    • Chrono Trigger's timeline is not the same as Real Life's; Year 1000 in Chrono Trigger is more akin to modern/recent times than it is to the Middle Ages (which are indeed a separate era in the game). Still, Year 1000 is influenced by this trope if only for the fact that swords are prominent weapons in a world with guns and tanks.
    • And has a Prestige-style teleporter.
    • To say nothing of the prehistoric age where the humans are primitive, living in huts and subsisting on a mostly hunter gatherer basis they are still able to provide equipment better then any other that you come across. This includes firearms, katanas, broadswords, crossbows and advanced cybernetic robotic arms. Made of rocks.
  • In La Pucelle Tactics, the setting appears to be fairly standard medieval fantasy. Until one of the characters whips out a walkie-talkie, that is.
  • The weapons used in Command & Conquer Red Alert are a strange mix of WWII-era tanks and artillery, 1960s-70s fighter jets and futuristic teleportation machines and invulnerability projectors.
    • This is a doozy...First, after Einstein killed Hitler the past changed to what the storyline is the first game. In this timeline the Philadelphia Experiment actually succeeded, giving the Allies the Chronosphere's teleportation technology in addition to time-travel. Einstein then goes on to invent the other technologies like Prism Towers in Red Alert 2. THEN at the start of Red Alert 3, the Soviets go back in time and prevent the Allies from winning either the first game or the second one! Trying to understand this will give you a headache.
    • They apparently got rid of Goddard and Von Braun as well, since the allies seem to use guns for everything.
      • Except for, you know, the guided anti-tank missiles on the Longbow heli, the teleporting tank's missile pods, the missiles on the destroyer, and many more units using missiles. Oh and not forgetting AN ORBITAL SPY SATELLITE.
    • The third game is presumably set sometime in 1960's or 70's, but because of all the time-mucking about the Japanese invented fully functional Humongous Mecha Suits and wave motion cannons, while the soviets created a fully functional set of power armor. None of these are even remotely plausable in today's technology, somewhere around 40 years after the presumed timeline.
  • Fallout is full of schizo tech. The world before the war was a super-advanced fifties-style utopia-quickly-turned-dystopia that managed to create fantatistic technology like Fusion Power, energy weapons, stimpaks, Powered Armor, Vaults, GECKs and Artifical Intelligence. Yet their normal computers were big, bulky mainframes with terminals. After the end, it got even more schizo. The average wastelanders lives in miserable agricultural villages lightened by torches and hunts using crossbows, melee weapons, homemade firearms or a expensive decent gun. Eletric Power is only possible for the bigger towns and city-states. Most people use guns of varying power and conditions (ranging from brand new firearms sold by organizations like the Brotherhood of Steel or the Gunrunners, to ancient guns pillaged from abandoned sites, stitched together multiple times and being held together by duct-tape and faith), with energy weapons being rare weaponry capable of changing the course of a battle. On the other side, the New California Republic is capable of fielding a considerable army of soldiers (enough to match the brotherhood), the Brotherhood of Steel has a small army of elite soldiers decked out in Power Armor and armed with energy weapons, and The Enclave has even BETTER technology than both, a army larger than the Brotherhood, genetic engineering capability AND Osprey-like aircraft called Vertibirds.
    • The Fallout series is based on the 1950's idea of SCIENCE! rather than science.
  • Happens in the Touhou-verse. Although it's established as taking place in the present day, the backstory and in-game scenes also show that the technology base in Gensokyo is approximately medieval, apart from technological objects which are occasionally brought in from the mundane world. Then, in a recent installment, a new character was introduced wielding a fairly modern-looking magical SLR camera, and now we've got characters showing up with thermoptic camo.
    • This seems to be the current trend in Touhou. As of Touhou 11, we have a hell-raven that controls nuclear power, which is part of the Kanako's plan to bring clean technology to Gensokyo. The plan didn't go very well and threaten a nuclear apocalypse, which must be stopped by a shrine maiden, a typical witch, and their fantastic-being allies (which includes the characters above). Schizo-Tech combined with Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot, indeed.
    • In fact, there are actually four different technology levels in Gensokyo. Humans and youkai, who are pretty much at medieval level; items that come from the outside; the kappas, who are awesome engineers; and the Lunarians, who apparently use futuristic technology.
    • One of the stranger uses of this trope is for Akyu's Untouched Score (AKA the PC-98 Touhou soundtracks).[1]
    • At one point in the Touhou series, Reimu even had a nuclear-powered Robot Maid. She only made a brief appearance in one of the PC-98 games, and has not been seen since.
  • Perhaps due to the various mundane uses for Mons, Pokémon games see this pop up often. The ability to store living creatures as data (since you literally download your mons into a computer for storage) is present, but cars don't exist (but bikes do). Guns also don't exist... but when literally hundreds of creatures that live nearby can learn how to breathe fire (among many other things), does anyone really need them? Also, despite the means to do so mechanically, all dirt farming is done by hand.
    • Almost nobody is aware of this, but it is actually an instance of Fantasy Gun Control. People don't use weapons because they essentially have an ancient spiritual contract with Pokemon to never use them, in exchange for being able to master and control Pokemon. It's not in the anime, but Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum explain it all if you read the right library books in the Port Town of Canalave City.
    • One Lost Episode of the anime did feature guns, and Team Rocket used bazookas in more than one episode. Of course, this was very early on. These days, if you see a bazooka in anyone's possession, all it's going to shoot out is a net.
    • The third generation of games shows that cars do exist, since you start the game in the back of a moving truck. The lack of motor vehicles is probably a combination of Law of Conservation of Detail, as well as the fact that you can use Pokemon with certain HM moves for transportation.
      • There has been evidence that cars exist in the Pokemon world since Gen. I: on the S.S. Anne's port there is a parked truck that can only be reached by preventing the ship from sailing before you are able to use Surf.
      • And in Gen V you can see plenty of cars and trucks driving by beneath you whenever you cross over Skyarrow Bridge. The majority are what appear to be cargo trucks, however, so it could be that motorized vehicles are primarily only used to transport large groups of things/people, and considered pointless for anything else.
    • It seems to mostly be that cars are uneeded for most people. A truck makes sense to carry large ammounts of supplies, but who needs a car when you have a flying lizard that breaths fire? They car spills out pollution, takes up space, and is limited by the laws of gravity. Charizard doesn't, fits in a Poke Ball, and can fly. Unless you need to carry a lot of people or items over a very long distance, it's easier just to travel over land, sea, or air via Pokemon.
  • The Monster Rancher series of games has various examples of Schizo-Tech. While the world itself has a charming sort of 1800's look to it, with fancy clothing, old-fashioned ranches, and no vehicles beyond monster-drawn carts, they have technology capable of Harmless Freezing, movies, vast underground machine cities, pop idols, and goodness knows what else.
  • Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath seems to have an eclectic blend of Wild West Steampunk and futuristic technology. The final boss battle takes place between an armored character using a crossbow that uses live insects and rodents as ammo and a guy in a energy-shielded battlemech.
  • Roguelike Elona seems to have fun with this. The apparent medieval fantasy with sword, magic, and these stuff also contains gun range from pistol to laser weapon, computers, food like french fries and popcorn, genetic engineering, and aliens.
    • Not to mention the incomplete (but completable) Roguelike Alphaman, which is similar in most ways to Fallout, techwise, but with a comedy twist.
  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village at first appears to be set sometime in the early 1900's-1930's--the professor himself wears a top hat, for goodness' sake, and the titular village has a sort of quaint charm to it. However, several of the puzzles (which are technically supposed to exist in-universe) feature things such as digital clocks, cell phones, and computers. And if that doesn't strike you as being "pure" enough? Highly advanced robotics also play an important role in the plot, and you even get to assemble a robot dog.
    • Layton's car is a 2cv from the late fifties, but the browns point to The Seventies. Artwork for the third game, however, which involves Time Travel ten years into the future, features a slot machine-like clock flickering between sixty- and seventy-four... but the first number of the date is obscured.
  • Guardian Heroes seems to start in a standard Medieval European Fantasy world... but did we mention the Evil Wizard is building an army of Robots? One of which becomes the last boss of Gunstar Heroes?
  • Mother 3 has a peaceful agrarian village menaced by pig-masked Stormtroopers, flying vehicles and cyborg/chimerised animals. This makes sense in the context, however, since the story is largely about how the lives of the people of Tazmily are changed by the influence of modernization brought to the islands by Porky (who comes straight from Earthbound, which is set in a modern world) and his minions.
  • Castlevania, baby! Dracula's castle, being "a creature of Chaos", is always full of wacky anachronisms. This is partly because, while the games jump around in the timeline from the 11th century to the present day, we like to see elements return from game to game. There's no good excuse for the robots, though.
    • A couple of the recent games are set in the future, allowing us to see this trope inverted—there should be nifty technology and such, but aside from a couple of handguns, Soma Cruz has the same weapons and fights the same monsters as always.
    • The awesomest part of the original Castlevania 64? Right at the beginning. Skeletons on WW 2 motorcycles. Awww yeah.
    • Lords of Shadow is set The Low Middle Ages, yet we encounter Frankenstein's laboratory with lots of electrical devices and a robot with a human brain as a boss encounter. there are other examples like the War Titans which are leftovers from a precursor civilization.
  • The Shapers in the Geneforge series have genetic engineering and some crystalline "power spirals" but are otherwise medieval. The first game attempts to justify this in that the Shapers are the remnants of a society that destroyed itself through genetic engineering, but one wonders why their technology doesn't seem to have improved since.
  • Most of the technology and culture in the original Monster Hunter indicates a roughly Bronze Age/Iron Age tribal society... except that they have firearms. Huge, clumsy firearms, but still firearms. Later games advance the overall tech level... but also advance the firearms, so they continue to be better than what should be available -- (Freedom) 2 has a medieval-looking society (indicated by the Online Town in the console Monster Hunter 2, or the Town area in Freedom 2) with guns that look comparable to late 19th or early 20th century models... and Tri takes place in what looks to be a small fishing village during the 1400 or 1500s, with what are essentially modern firearms cobbled together with materials and production methods they'd actually have access to.
    • Possibly the most ridiculous in the entire series are the Gunlances introduced in 2... It's essentially an RPG launcher—either with mounted bayonet, or integrated into a lance—with a time-fused explosive triggered to detonate at near point-blank range. It also has a short-range flame-thrower alternate fire which ends with what appears to be a small thermobaric detonation. In a game that takes place in a small fishing village (For console) or Northern Mongolian mountain village (for Freedom) in what appears to be roughly the medieval period. They are vaguely similar to the fire lances that actually existed at the time, if you squint really hard and ignore the fact that several of them are nearly indistinguishable from a modern revolving-action RPG launcher except for the mounted bayonet.
    • Also, airships start showing up Frontier, to be joined by Steamships and Sandships in Tri.
  • Wild Guns (no relation to Wild ARMs), a fairly obscure SNES Cabal clone, features a general Wild West theme merged with sci-fi, bringing everything from cyborg rustlers on flying robotic horses to giant enemy crab robots to the table. No revolvers for our heroes, though, straight to grenade launchers and vulcan cannons for some good old-fashioned blowing things up.
    • If you think THAT'S obscure, there's an arcade game by the name of Blood Bros. with the same anachronistic problem.
  • Dungeon Siege has a whole steampunk / Clockpunk dungeon, full of clockwork goblins, flying sentry drones, Tesla guns, flamethrowers, Gatling guns and topped off with a freaking Humongous Mecha Goblin.
  • The Mystical Ninja series has strong elements of this. It appears to be set in feudal Japan, and yet there is the presence of robots, Humongous Mecha, and even a machine to ressurrect the dead.
  • Kingdom of Loathing is a fantasy game. The Magi Mech Tech Mecha Mech, the El Vibrato constructs, the Crimborg, any any things we have today exists as Rule of Funny. (The Vibrato monsters were left by Precursors and the Crimborg are aliens, though.)
    • Lampshaded in the Rumpus Room: 'You pause briefly to wonder what an electrical socket is.'
  • The Jade Empire is an All Myths Are True version of ancient China, so the various ghosts, demons and animated Terracotta soldiers are all to be expected, but despite this the ubiquitous rocket-powered bamboo flying machines are quite incongruous. Sure the player's Global Airship is a product of Kang the amnesiac God of Inventors, but ingame text makes it clear that flyers were around for years before he turned up.
  • The Spyro the Dragon series is littered with this trope:
    • In the first game, players observe such oddities as a giant robot with a Mohawk (named Metalhead, interestingly) in the same general area as where a bunch of swampland dragons reside in huts built on sticks.
    • In Ripto's Rage (Gateway to Glimmer in Europe) and Year of the Dragon, this trope still exists. It's kind of funny to go from regions with bone-people living in bone huts to robotic cities...
  • Due to similar reasons to the Ravenloft setting in literature, Time Stalkers, a little known Dreamcast RPG, suffers from this. Suffers, because your characters really have no damn good reason for eschewing modern tech aside from soda pop and pre-packaged foods yet choose to do so anyway. (as the few enemies with projectile weaponry do just as much damage as melee monsters if not more.) Storywise, the reason for this is a crazy old wizard grabs hunks from various times in the world and smashes them together, and your people come from them, one from each 'piece.' Also, the one person who ought to have Schizotech knowledge, the 'lady of the night' from the modern era setpiece? Prefers to fight by kicking monsters with her heels. She's like an honest Tifa, really.
    • Oddly, she's a reimagining of earlier Climax character Lady, who lived in a decidedly non-modern world and used traditional weapons, being an obvious Captain Ersatz for Alena from Dragon Quest IV... making her handling even more bizarre.
  • Speaking of Dragon Quest, the series is almost entirely medieval, which only makes it more bizarre when you encounter one of the regularly-occurring robot enemies, or one of your party members references express elevators.
  • Outcast has a medieval society except from energy weapons and teleports. This, however, has an in-game reason, it is an alternate dimension, and modern humans have visited it before.
  • Civilization makes you able to both cause and justify this trope. It's not impossible to have Fission without having Gunpowder or to have computers without your Civ having ever ridden a horse. Or cars before you've invented the wheel.

"Your wise men have discovered Space Flight! What should we research next?"
"I think... Mathematics. Adding two numbers together sounds important!"

    • Lampshaded in an ad where two tribesmen are talking about another nearby tribe. One of them mentions that with their pointy sticks (spears), they're at the top of the early tech tree. Then a rival tribesman behind him says: "Not exactly the top", holding a spear with a scope and underslung grenade launcher.
    • Further, your Civ can rush way ahead in tech and field stealth bombers against enemy spearmen.
    • There's a similar effect in Rise of Nations. You can theoretically be researching computerisation during the Enlightenment (Babbage-style Steampunk calculation engines, perhaps?), have England not get around to adopting monotheism until circa the First World War, or even develop nuclear weaponry while your enemies (or even your own troops) are still brandishing muskets.
  • The Monkey Island series takes place in the 1700s, and you can still see neon signs, nacho machines, etc.

Guybrush: Shoddy seventeenth-century electrical wiring.

  • In Mitsumete Knight, a game set in a medieval setting, the country the Asian (aka the player) is fighting for as a mercenary, Dolphan Kingdom, has a very advanced medicine level for a medieval country: blood transfusion is common technique, plastic surgery apparently exists and is effective, and researches on heart diseases are already ongoing.
  • In Sonic Adventure 2, most people use technology almost identical to that in the present day, but the military has super-advanced robots. Space Colony Ark, which is supposed to be like 60 years old, has even more extremely advanced technology and was apparently the site of extensive genetic engineering.
  • Sonic Riders has Extreme Gear, highly advanced hoverboard technology, invented by the Babylonians, a society of anthromorphic birds, thousands of years ago so they wouldn't have to expend as much energy flying around looking for treasure. The settings of the race stages in the spin off series tend to be more technologically advanced than some stages you encounter in the main series.
  • Rune Factory has this. It seems like a typical fantasy based, medieval game franchise, however..They have microwaves, recorders, mixers, light bulbs, among other things.
    • Its sister franchise, Harvest Moon, has this too. It appears to be set in various times, depending on the game. Anywhere from the late 1800s to 21st century. Even in games with typically older feels, your dress code and the way people act is considerable modern; A Wonderful Name seems both early 20th century and late 19th century, made even more confusing by the fact it has a sequel set 100 years later where it's considerably modern (DVD players and all). However the games typically have a steady technology level. It's Handwaved in some games by stating the area is rural, so it's not as advanced looking as other places.
  • Dark Chronicle runs on this. Steam Punk robots, rayguns, knights with magic armbands, airships, steam trains, and guys in spacesuits with hyper-advanced computers are all bumping elbows with each other, though this is primarily due to time travel.
  • Assassin's Creed has both ancestors doing this; Altaïr uses the retracto-blade which was beyond the technology of 1191 without the technical assistance of the Apple of Eden, and Ezio has even more improbable gadgets up his volumous sleeves, such as a miniture high-powered pistol. The Codex suggests Altaïr invented said pistol and most of the rest of Ezio's equipment, meaning it was in use during The Crusades, again due to the use of the knowledge contained in the Apple. Altaïr was even able to invent an ultra-light suit of plate armor that was superior to modern body armor but could be worn while swimming, and in Brotherhood, it turns out that Brutus (yes, that Brutus, who stabbed Caesar) invented it first. Again, that nifty Precursors technology at work.
  • Thief series features among other things: Medieval swords and armor, bow and arrow (prominently), robots, proximity mines and surveillance cameras.
  • Okami seems to be set in a romanticized Feudal Japan, but then you find an elevator.
    • Not to mention two spaceships.
  • Strife has a weird world of medieval castles, cyborgs, crossbows that shoot electric bolts, and robots armed with flamethrowers.
  • A somewhat milder example, but despite being an ultra-modern research facility, dabbling in spectral analysis of antimatter and quantum entanglement, Black Mesa uses late 50's - early 60's era tape reel and punch card servers. Justified, you find them in abandoned or obsolete areas.

"Whoa, whoa, what's this? Are you kidding me? Are we using tape-reel computers? Noooo...Wait, are those slots for punch cards? [...] Jesus Christ, I think that is a punch card slot."

  • Airforce Delta Strike features WWII fighters, modern jets, gigantic armed tires, space-battleships and Humongous Mecha all in the same game.
  • Despite being set during the warring states period of Japan, Sengoku Basara has Honda Tadakatsu, a giant cyborg gundam-samurai combination.
  • Team Fortress 2 sports this to a degree. The game is set somewhere in the 1960's but there are still Teleporters, invisibilty watches, mechanic limbs and automatic gun turrets.
    • Recent updates have introduced laser cannons, high-tech sniper rifles, projectile-destroying zappers and a handful of hats and costume items that far exceed the technology of the time. Many of these items are the result of a crossover promotion with Deus Ex Human Revolution.
  • Dragon Age has elements of this. Most of the world is still in the medieval ages, but the Qunari have got ironclad warships, cannons, and psychosis-inducing gas.
  • The technology of the humans Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds is mostly in line with 1898 England with some acceleration like tanks, but then there's stuff like the tunneling track layer.
  • Kingpin Life of Crime is set in "a past that never happened", where 1990's rap music by Cypress Hill, modern vernacular and urban ghetto architecture clash with firearms and vehicles from the 1920's and 30's. Various props like radios and TVs look like they come straight from the 1940's and 50's.
  • The Sims 3 takes place 50 years prior to The Sims 1 and it does seem to be going for a 50s feel in many respects (some of the clothing for example).. But it's also a Cosmetically Advanced Prequel full of late 2000s technology, clothing, and social views.
  • Most of the setting of Monster Girl Quest is the standard medieval fantasy world, albeit with gunpowder (and hence bombs and cannons). Then there's the various Mad Scientists who have access to genetic engineering, cyborgs and digital computers (including one artificial intelligence).

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • An example is the satirical Bruno the Bandit, which is set in a basic "middle ages" fantasy setting, but still has vacuum cleaners, television (complete with every TV trope in the book) and cellphones.
    • The author Ian Mcdonald has said he originally intended the Schizo-Tech to be the main source of humour in the comic, but soon realised it couldn't carry jokes by itself and it was left as The Artifact. There are still occasional gags such as their version of Youtube being called "Thoutube".
  • Order of the Stick is set in a Medieval European Fantasy setting much like a typical campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons. However, in various strips it has featured coffee machines, indoor plumbing, stethoscopes, bug zappers, cell phones, and even a desktop computer (the last one was admittedly owned by an angel). The Technology Levels appears to be whatever inspires the best jokes.

V: I'm simply saying that the architectural motifs here in Cliffport are inconsistent with the medieval time period.... I grasp the premise that any sufficiently advanced -- and in particular, reliable - magic would be indistinguishable from technology, I merely find the implementation here haphazard, at best.
Durkon: Meh. It could be worse, ye know.... They could have magic trains.

      • In a later strip, Redcloak mentions that magical, lightning-powered trains actually do exist in the OOTS-verse (and complains that he's the one who has to make sure they run on time).
  • Girl Genius has numerous instances of technological disconnects, mainly because mad scientists have specialized talents and are more inclined to fight each other than to build something profitable. And compete more than complement each other - it's a miracle how with all those prima donna geniuses there are any widespread standards at all. They have autonomous robots with advanced AI but no computers. Airships the size of cities cruise the skies, but no fixed or rotary wing aircraft. Probably because lighter-than-air crafts rarely crash on their own. For that matter, instead of parachute they have "lifeglider" - hang-glider looking like a bastard child of blimp and bat. Energy weapons, but no (widespread) radio or telephonic communications.
    • Prototypes are more advanced than mass-produced stuff, though. Gilgamesh Wulfenbach actually does invent a gas powered fixed-wing aircraft early in the comic archive (Hilarity Ensues). The chapter is aptly called "The Infamous Falling Machine!". There's a jetpack jetsuit - Mk II, of course ("dangerous, but amusing"). Castle Heterodyne has holographic map updated in real time, the Master of Paris built city-wide telepresence system and keeps The Autonomous Library based on scribing engine made by Voltaire.
  • Questionable Content is set in Present Day western Massachusetts, but features sentient robots sold at retail, various Transformer-style mecha (Vespa-Bot FTW), and a major character spent her childhood on a space station. This seems to go forgotten for large stretches of time.
  • Megatokyo appears to take place in a normal analog of the modern world. Except when the Tokyo PD breaks out the giant mecha.
  • While the setting of Blade of Toshubi is mainly feudal japanese, there have been instances of higher level technology, such as Reiko's training taking place in a chamber with nuclear waste barrels.
  • In Inhuman, the technology level of the planet Hekshano is that of 1970s Earth - but with spaceships.
  • The Way of the Metagamer is set in the Medieval time period of Dungeons & Dragons. There are skyscrapers in towns. With elevators.
  • DMFA has everyone using swords yet guns also apparently exist. Modern appliances and things like video games exist but the only known transportation is gryphon drawn carts. Also Giant Robots. Granted most of the tech is credited to be invented by the same character and some, like the guns, aren't in the hands of the general public and magical versions seemed to be the standard until recently.
    • Lampshaded by the world description, which states that it's not uncommon for 21st century cities to exist a short walk away from medieval villages in Furrae.
  • Dominic Deegan, set in a medieval-type world of magic, has plenty of modern-day luxuries. Casting a lighting bolt onto a guitar will make it an "electric guitar", a voice-amplifying spell on a crystal turns it into a microphone ... yeah, they had a full-fledged rock concert. They also have newspapers. And comic-book superheroes.
  • The medical terminology in Vigil is a couple centuries more advanced than anything else they have. The flintlocks at least are explained by an international ban on all guns.
  • In Homestuck we see the waring kingdoms, who both have lots of crazy gadgets like flying warships, giant mechas, and high-tech facilities for genetic manipulation. However, right next to a squad of soldiers wielding assault riffles, we see soldiers wielding swords and bows.
    • Doc Scratch uses a typewriter to communicate with the trolls' instant messenger client through a time gap of almost a thousand years.
    • There is also ancient Alternia, which features sailing ships, swords, bows, cybernetics, and interstellar travel.
  • In Twokinds, a character orders a pizza. This seemingly innocuous act soon becomes Fridge Logic when one realizes that the setting doesn't have the communications, rapid non-magical transport, or agricultural tech for food delivery, being just into Iron Age. Could just be a throwaway joke by way of Anachronism.
  • The The Wandering Ones: Clan of the Hawk eschews most forms of technology, preferring to live as part of the land. However, their allies in the Alliance and the Yakama Nation are under no such restrictions, and embrace more advanced technology.
  • Starslip Crisis' Show Within a Show Concrete Jungle (supposedly an accurate portrayal of the early 21st century) has, well, just look at it.
  • In Endstone, Rosie's Beauty Salon and Blacksmith is perhaps the clearest example of how this is a Sword and Sorcery United States of America.
  • The Tieke from Prophecy of the Circle possess a number of hi-tech devices which were granted to them by a being known as Teyka, along with the means of replicating them. In all other aspects, their own technology is early iron age at best.
  • The small mining settlement of Prosperity in Cwynhild's Loom resembles a Wild West town in look and feel, however robots, aircraft, high-speed maglev trains and powered land vehicles are all seen.
  • Cucumber Quest: "Well…the people of Dreamside have television, electric lighting and space travel, but they’re still fighting with swords. I probably decided on this because I’ve always liked cartoons and comics that blend old-timey fantasy stuff with modern technology for the sake of humor or whimsy or whatever."
  • Nerf Now once more pokes fun at Star Wars... this time with prediction.
  • Perry Bible Fellowship presents: Giga-knight!

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Though mostly sticking to its mid 17th-century flavor, Open Blue has the occasional incendiary bullet (WWI), Minie-Ball (19th century), and swords coated with diamond (???) to make cutting easier. This of course, does not count the myriad of weird things left behind by the Precursors.
  • Happens in the Chaos Timeline (at least from our POV). Some of the sciences and technological advances are discovered or perfected more earlier than in our history, e.g. Novorossiya invents the telegraph and electrical devices nearly a century before it happened in our history; cryptography, basic computer science and astronomy are at least twenty to thirty years ahead of our's in the early 20th century, computers of 1990 level are already found in the 1950s etc.
  • In Nocte Yin, the world of Erisire has horses for transportation and swords for weaponry, yet the main characters all have laptops and cell phones.
  • The Mercury Men's story is set in the mid-Seventies. But the lighting - and the monsters - looks like The Outer Limits (The Sixties), Edward's and Grace's outfits look Fifties-ish, and Jack's outfit evokes The Thirties. And it mixes Dieselpunk, Raygun Gothic, Atomic Punk, horror and other genres seamlessly.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In the Diniverse, Batman series tend to have a film noir style, down to the appearance of cars, guns, etc. However, modern technology exists as well. You're sure you're watching something taking place in the days of the earliest Batman comics, with tommy guns and classically shaped 1940's cars, until the characters start casually referencing genetic engineering and cybernetic interfaces. Similarly, video casette and digital recorders exist, but television sets still seem limited to black and white images. This was all done for artistic reasons (giving Batman a somewhat nebulous, noir-themed setting in time) and also to keep network censors from forcing the GCPD and the mooks from using laser guns (by apparently sending it so far in the past that lasers would strain even a kid's disbelief)
    • There was a bit of a Genre Shift between the first few seasons of Batman: The Animated Series and the later Batman episodes (in the Batman/Superman era). In order to make Batman fit in more with the style and tone of the new Superman cartoon, the film-noir visuals were heavily updated: newscasts now in color, Bruce Wayne now in a modern business suit, etc. While the original series carefully avoided any real-life pop-culture references that would date the series, the Batman/Superman episodes are filled with them, such as Batgirl referencing Pinky and The Brain. This is actually lampshaded by Barbara Gordon in Batman Beyond, when she admonishes Bruce for training Terry by saying that his brand of Justice "went out with the tommy gun".
  • Both versions of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe had heavy Schizo-Tech. Flying vehicles, cyborgs and robots in a Sword and Sorcery setting.
    • In fairness, a lot of the "low tech" stuff is magic. Who's to say which works better?
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender is a solidly pre-industrial world with "Element Bending" - and a lot of Mundane Utility. This throws tech development into a tailspin.

Sokka: So let me get this straight. You can build tanks, jet-skies, and a gigantic freaking drill, but the concept of a hot air balloon eludes you.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Unlike the Aztecs, Maya, etc., the Incas didn't even have writing. It didn't slow them down appreciably: imperial administrators communicated by exchanging quipu, bundles of strings with knots tied in them to represent numbers. And it was an efficient system too - able to consistently keep state accounts.
    • Even weirder: They managed to independently develop halberds just like those used in Europe at the time, save for the fact theirs were made of bronze... and despite the complete absence of what made Europeans develop halberdiers: to bring down knights from their horses.
    • None of the Central American civilisations used the wheel, but they could still transport goods several kilometers. They also produced incredible ceramics despite not having the potter's wheel, and built huge structures and roads made from precisely-cut blocks of stone that fit together exactly, without using mortar.
      • In fact, The wheel was well known in Mesoamerica; but lacking draught animals, it didn't come to them to use it for anything that we know of, besides children's toys. Not that it mattered, as humans are much better carrying things on their shoulders than pulling a cart with them, and the Native merchants in particular, both South and Mesoamerican, were able to carry HUGE loads without breaking a sweat. There's a lot of wheel-unfriendly terrain, too.
  • One of the fallacies that people commonly, mistakenly believe is that Primitive Society = Stupid People. Many older, "more primitive" societies have had mixes of a wide range of technologies. A good example would be ancient Greece and the Antikythera mechanism which is now generally accepted to be a clockwork computer for calculating planetary orbits; technology that literally took another thousand years to reappear.
    • Though that device was amazing because it had so intricate mechanics, not because it could make advanced calculations. To the Ancient Greeks it was probably simply an expensive toy replicating a function that could have been done by simply drawing lines in the sand, instead.
    • Among the inventions of Ancient Greece's Hero of Alexandria: a water-powered pipe organ, and a vending machine that gave out cups of holy water.
    • The steam engine was invented in Egypt in the 1st century. But slaves were cheaper.
      • The Aeolipile (that's what it was originally called) may actually have been around in the first century BC, but unfortunately Vitruvius was a bit scant with his descriptions. Regardless, th Greeks/Romans never too the idea 'beyond' the Aeolipile, which was so pathetically inefficient that it was never useful as anything but a demonstrator.
    • Al-Jazari had working humanoid robots in the 12th century, including a musical band.
  • The Amish, especially if you do the research. Name a technology level, any tech level, between Medieval Stasis and "FINALLY released in the US", and there's an Amish or Mennonite sect somewhere in the Midwest that's stuck there.
    • Also note that they do sometimes pull themselves into modernity and fully learn a specific farming-related machine. They have votes on technological inclusions in the same way the French vote on adding words to the language.
    • In general it's more complicated than most people think. there is no Amish Pope or Curia handing down commandments from on high so various communities have different standards of what is appropriate technology. Some sects are allowed to use modern technology such as cell phones, provided they do not own the equipment.
    • In some (maybe most, maybe even all?) sects, it isn't technology itself that's bad, it's reliance on non-Amish outsiders. A horse-drawn carriage can be constructed out of trees by some Amish guys with hand tools (and said tools can be made by an Amish blacksmith). Horses can be bred by just owning two horses of appropriate genders. But a car? Car parts aren't exactly something that an Amish blacksmith can whip up; thus, owning a car makes them more dependent on the outside world than owning a horse-drawn carriage.
      • Carriages can sometimes be seen with modern safety reflectors attached, usually for the aid of faster-moving vehicles that might pass by.
    • It's also a matter of what benefits the community rather than the individual; if a technology is more likely to separate a member of the community from the people around him, it is not permitted for individual ownership. Although, as noted elsewhere, communities may own higher technologies (and their members be skilled in their use), if such technologies are used for the benefit of the community as whole.
      • i.e., the Amish that run the various food stalls and dining establishments within Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. They use phones, cash registers, and any other modern equipment necessary to run their businesses. Some have even willingly appeared on camera for TV interviews. However, they do not work on Sundays so their stalls are all closed then.
    • The Pennsylvania Dutch, at least, occasionally cobble new machines together from components at different tech levels. A horse-drawn cart mounting gas-driven farm equipment is fairly common.
  • Many wars in impoverished nations tend to take on elements of schizo tech.
    • More recently, and more mundanely, the cellular phone industry is booming in Afghanistan. The lack of traditional infrastructure (safe highways and reliable communications lines) in the country actually makes it a better market for mobile phone service, which relies on radio towers to pass signals back and forth. In areas dominated by the Taliban, it's common for cell phone providers to shut off the cell phone towers at night to prevent informants from passing information to the NATO or Government forces.
  • Horses even as military transport held a long time after motor vehicles appeared, and didn't quite go away yet.
    • When invading the Soviet Union during WWII the German army used a bit more than a million horses. Even for towing artillery. France and Soviet Union were already producing artillery tractors proper, but they weren't quite common early in WWII, trucks were in great demand, and Germans also suffered fuel shortages even with all the oil of Romania, that only got worse (hence attempts to compensate with synthetic fuels, despite their industry being both overstrained and bombed).
    • As dragoons naturally develop in "the heaviest weapon you can have while traveling lightly" direction, horse-transported machine guns were used in WWI and even in WWII Soviet troops armed this way were nasty surprise for invading Germans - mow down some foes from an ambush, retreat into the forest, move a bit, repeat.
    • Cavalry was still far from obsolete in World War II and was widely used by the Red Army (despite being far ahead of the others in tank department), as well as by other armies. It could take terrain that motorized transport couldn't and the only fuel it needed was fodder, which could be bought or stolen from any peasant. Heinz Guderian in his Memoirs of a Soldier was constantly complaining about older, conservative high-ranking officer, who considered mechanized infantry and a mobility doctrine a 'fancy ideas with no real military applications' - understandable, given German problems with resources at the time.
      • Similarly, Poland's cavalry units were surprisingly effective against German infantry. No Pole cavalry unit suffered defeat, actually. Polish cavalry units were many things, but one thing they were definitely not: helpless. In practice, they were armed with light horse-drawn AT guns which were very efficient against early German tanks. It helped that the Polish Army was in the process of converting its cavalry units into mechanized infantry at the time the Germans invaded, and thus even though they were on horseback most of the troops had modern weaponry. The idea that they charged the modern German tanks with sabres drawn was Nazi propaganda to insult their opponent. It may have been something of propaganda backfire as it turned out. A lot of people believed it because they admired the Poles and thought it was cool even if it sounded like Honor Before Reason . And in any case gloating about such a thing sounds uncommonly lacking in class. Not something a Cultured Warrior would say about a Worthy Opponent. The same misguided imagery was later used in Polish movie Lotna, supporting the 'sabres against tanks' myth.
        • What actually happened is that at the very first day of the invasion Polish cavalry was doing what cavalry does best: raiding infantry on the march. Then they ran into armored reconnaissance and got mowed down a lot, but the light vehicles wouldn't chase them around the hills and into the forest, while infantry they were attacking was already chopped up and scattered, so mission accomplished and they mostly survived. This charge stopped German advance for a while, giving Polish infantry time to retreat where they won't be easily overrun. Also, caused panic and almost forced a retreat. So they continued doing this.
        • The Poles also used armoured trains (a technology of which most of the rest of the world had given up, but Poles paid attention to what happens East of them), and were so effective with them that the Germans were forced to introduce their own versions.
    • One example would be a video from early in the war which overthrew the Taliban government in Afghanistan, where Coalition/NATO supported tribesmen used horse mounted cavalry wielding AK-47s to charge a Taliban position while F-16s gave air support. I only wish I can make stuff like this up.
  • World War II is full of this Trope. Some technology looks almost sci-fi. At the same time some was stone-age (like some Polynesian La Résistance bands). There were cosmetic curiousities as well; this was likly the last war that was in many places led by the old warrior caste as witness all the sirs and lords in the British armed forces, all the vons in the German, or the old Samurai reappearing in command of advanced naval vessels.
    • Stone-age military technology in the 20th century?... The sling. Rendered obsolete in the Middle Ages. Guess when was it last seen on the battlefield. The Spanish Civil War and the Winter War. Spanish soldiers used their belts as slings, to throw grenades farther than one could do by hand. The Finnish army also used them. With Molotov cocktails.
      • Slings also make a regular appearance in the hands of Palestinians fighting Israeli security forces.
      • In WW 1 it was crossbows that got used to throw grenades, because you could keep them (and you) down below the top of the trenches.
        • Polish insurgents during the Warsaw Uprising were using anything they could get their hands on, from late XIX-century Lebel rifles to brand-new prize Stg 44 assault rifles to hand-made, spring-loaded catapults for lobbing Molotov cocktails over the barricades.
    • One finds the same situation in present-day Papua New Guinea, where wilderness tribes (having pre-industrial level agriculture) fight skirmishes with Kalashnikovs and may use modern simple telecom equipment and put petrol-driven outboards on their canoes, provided that they get hold of ammo, fuel and batteries.
    • India has a thoroughly modern military, with an Aircraft carrier, an indigenously designed Main Battle Tank, a joint produced 4.5th generation jet fighter, nuclear weapons and... British Lee-Enfield rifles, a design that is 114 years old, yet still in active service (though not as a front-line weapon).
      • A similar example is the Colt M1911 pistol. Yes, it's been produced and used both in military and police service for 100 years !
      • The AK-47 and its variants became the standard for USSR and its allies and client states soon after the mass production started. A journalist in Afghanistan saw people using AK-47's that had been made in 1953. This was after 2008, the same rifle had stayed combat worthy for over 50 years. It may be mediocre as a weapon, but it proven to be superior in reliability and logistics. [3]
    • A lot of Cold War era military hardware, including all Soviet, was made with possibility of nuclear war in mind. Which means hideous levels of shielding and EMP resistant designs in general. E.g. a digital anti-air missile may predict evasions better, is less prone to chasing Sun reflections, etc, but EMP would have easier time killing it, and even if hardware survives, logical state would not - MCU will almost certainly glitch and freeze, and by the time auto-reboot circuit could notice it would be irrelevant. While an analog missile ("piloted" by a few operational amplifiers) subjected to a pulse too weak to melt wiring most likely would momentarily waver, and that's it.
    • The Mig-25 uses vacuum tubes since they are more resilent to EMP attacks, are easier to replace, are more tolerant of temperature extremes, and give the Smerch-A radar a 600 kilowatt output.
    • During World War Two the Soviet Air Force had an all female unit that used bi-planes for night bombing.
    • The famous (in certain circles) footage of mid-60s Chinese horse cavalry charging into a combat exercise in a test area just hit with an atomic bomb. For a bonus, there's a chance that it might have been dropped by a Soviet-built copy of an American B-29, itself out of combat service for some years in the US. Triple schizo tech?
      • Cavalry is still used in mountainous areas since horses require less maintenance. After all, everything has to be dragged uphill.
    • When the various European empires were conquering Africa in the late 1800's, they frequently ran into armies armed with medieval armor and spears while they had machine guns. Europe usually won, although Italy managed to get hilariously pwned by Ethiopia after the French and British sold guns to the Ethiopians. Likewise with the Spanish conquering Latin America in the 1500's, where the natives usually had little materials for weaponry besides copper, stone or wood for their blades.
      • Though the Africans often did have access to guns, the Zulus had many Brown Bess muskets during the Anglo-Zulu war and the Ethiopians were had plenty of modern rifles, many given to them by the Italians themselves.
      • Lampshaded in Real Life by this Affably Evil British rhyme:Whatever happens, we have got/The Maxim gun, and they have not
      • Menelik II, the Ethiopian emperor that defeated the Italians by the way, used a goddam electric chair as a portable throne. Apparently the artifact's inventor decided to give him 3 of them as a gift, and only after they arrived did Menelik realize that there was not a single electric line in Ethiopia at the time.
    • China had this during World War II when it was divided into warlord factions. Some factions were underequipped and had to rely on swords and/or cavalry. Their only hope was to divide and outnumber the Japanese troops and steal as many of their weapons as possible.
  • Many people who defect from or visit North Korea have reported that it resembles the Victorian era or the Edwardian era in technology and architecture.
    • It is not always that old. Other tourists report that the areas outside the capital city resemble South Korea of the 1950's and 1960's.
  • The Neo-Victorian and Steampunk groups.
  • Russia had 1,000 steam locomotives ready for re-activation in 1994.
  • Attempts to avert Decade Dissonance lead to this in a lot of cities in developing countries. You'll see old-style villages between shining new skyscrapers, and rickshaws alongside cars. Thanks to recycling of handsets, many parts of Africa and South America have cell phone service, but no electric grid for battery chargers. Missionaries and aid organizations bring (some) modern medicine and literature, but cooking is still done over charcoal fires in handmade clay pots.
    • Developing countries, heck, go to some places in America and you'll find this. People still live in log cabins in some parts of West Virginia. Now it's mostly by choice though, but 40 years ago it wasn't.
  • Archaeology has a term for this. "Out Of Place Artifact." Now, most Oopart (or "O-Part") tend to have eventual explainations or turn out to be hoaxes. But it is a concept that gets its own name.
  • Lost Technology raises it to Reality Is Unrealistic level. There's lots of known "false start" or forgotten inventions, Cool but Inefficient and working alike. Most were closely guarded secrets known only to a few in the eras before concepts like "scientific community" and "public education" were in fashion. So depending on the point of view, either "could be" or real state of affair may be considered Schizo-Tech.
  • The Phillipines is full of this, even the parts that would be considered 'developed' in the first place, though some is necessitated by climate, for example barely anyone in anything lower than a 'suburbia' rating using exclusively cell phones. Even clothing and furniture falls into this, most people over 30 mixing and matching haphazardly, seeking a medium between trendy and comfort. Due to having few telephone lines outside the largest cities, they also skipped straight to satellite-everything in most cases. Some people also greatly dislike the noisy trikes and motorcycles but do not produce enough to justify buying a jeepney or utility vehicle, so still rely on animals, but those types are slowly dying out as vehicles become cheaper and larger companies expand.
  • A more modern example belongs to John Logie Baird. He may have got it wrong the first time, but once he realised electronics was the way to go he shot ahead, demonstrating a 600 line triple-interlaced colour TV in 1944. He even invented the first (albeit not very good) known form of non-film rapid image recording.
  • The entire firearm industry shows signs of this, though often we fail to notice it because as far as we're concerned it's "normal." For example the Girandoni Air Rifle was first invented in 1779 and were in use with the Austrian Army from 1780 to 1815, had a 20 round tubular magazine, and fired a .51 caliber ball at roughly 1,000 ft/s. Pistol variants were also made. The Henry Repeating Rifle, which arrived fifty years later, is considered by many to be far less advanced than the Girandoni and was the next "practical" firearm to match the Girandoni's magazine and rate of fire. Considering it served along side sabers and blunderbusses, I'd say that's impressive.
    • The biggest reason for this is cost and practicality. For example, the Henry Rifle (a repeating rifle with a tubular magazine) existed early enough to see use in the American Civil War - some Union troops bought them with their own funds. The problem is that the Henry Rifles were heavier than standard issue muskets, required special and more expensive ammunition, and the rifles themselves were more complicated (more maintenance, more training) and much more expensive. It also takes time to re-equip and retrain an entire army to a significantly different weapon. The war was costly enough financially for the Union and Confederacy as it was. Sure, you could equip your army with the best weapons available, but you'd go bankrupt just trying, and that's not even talking about the infrastructure or training issues.
    • Some muzzle-loaded and touch-hole-ignited cannons of the 19th century had the touch-hole (ignition vent) made of iridium-platinum alloy, rarest metals and also and most difficult to shape.
    • The breech loading rifle is also rather older than you might think. As surprisingly is Repeating weapon.
    • Arguably due to government control. We could build more sophisticated weapons, (self guided bullets anyone?), but who would we sell them to?
  • Looking at a modern example, the TKB-022PM. Designed 1962 by one German A. Korobov, this wild weapon is fully ambidextrous, has an above barrel forward ejection, and THE shortest "Barrel Length to Total Length" ratio of any weapon in history at "0.79-to-1.00" or 415mm to 525mm. The Styer AUG Carbine comes in at only "0.59-to-1.00" or 407mm to 680mm. It also weighs 1.1 lbs less than Styer AUG Carbine, proved three times as accurate as the then in use AKM, and utilized a wood impregnated polymer body. The weapon was all but forgotten by the 70's. This weapon has one of the highest (if not the highest) BL:TL ratios among assault rifles. The closest would be the FN F2000, designed in the year 1995, weighing 7.4-7.9 lbs, and with a ratio of only 0.58-to-1.00.
    • If the weapon truly was that good, then it would have been adopted or copied, period. Having a ridiculously high barrel/overall length ratio is NOT a good thing; it becomes unwieldy, difficult to reload, and presents other concerns about the functioning of the weapon. The Soviets had concerns about its reliability in storage, combat conditions, and from abuse. Modern bullpup firearms do not place the magazine at the butt of the weapon because it becomes difficult to reload and use from a prone position, among other reasons.
    • For a more clear-cut example, consider the Enfield EM-2 which was actually being introduced in 1951 before being scuppered by the introduction of the 7.62 NATO standard. As bullpup, intermediate-caliber assault rifle with a built in optical sight it sounds, and looks, oddly familiar to something over thirty years younger.
  • The Korean People's Air Force has an inventory of planes from a wide variety of eras. This includes modern-ish fighter jets from the 60's through the 80's, MiG-15s similar to the ones that fought in the Korean War, and even biplanes.
    • you have to give it to them, its like a low tech version of Short take and landing aircraft.
  • The Korean Hwacha: a mobile, cart-mounted anti-personnel rocket artillery platform. Capable of firing up to 200 gunpowder-backed steel-tipped (and sometimes explosive) projectiles up to half a kilometer in a tight, spin-stabilized spread designed to tear apart defensive formations. Not a bad piece of weapons technology for 15th century Korea.
    • What's so schizotech about attaching a rocket to an arrow.
    • During the late Renaissance Europe, the primitive rocket (propelling either an explosive charge or an arrow) was widespread. Cannons were heavy, expensive, needed many horses or oxen to move them, needed cast metal, which was hard to manufacture with 16th century technology. Rockets were cheap contraptions of wood, paper and black gunpowder. As the cannon technology improved throughout the 17th and 18th century with State and royal backing and financing, the accurate cannon become the weapon of choice and the inaccurate rocket a toy for fireworks.
  • Leonardo da Vinci (which I am convinced means Leonardo The Awesome, reality and Italian be damned) designed a hang-glider, but never built it. "So what?" I hear you cry. It was recently recreated for 'Leonardo's Dream Machines'(February 2010). Not only did it work, it neatly beat the Wright brothers by 400 years, clocking a higher altitude, flight time and distance to boot. His blueprints also had designs for a tank, a machine gun, and a sort of rocket-launcher designed for boats.
    • That's a bit unfair comparison, though. Wright's flyer was first powered,piloted, heavier-than-air aircraft that didn't crash on the takeoff. Take out any single word and there would be some aviation pioneer that predated them by decades (or centuries in some cases). And more in the way of this trope example the first flying machine they have built was a copy of a toy helicopter (similar to the "chinese top", but powered by a twisted rubber band) they had... They didn't like too-latinate name helicopter though, and called these toys "bats".
  • The merchant clippers of the 19th century were the most advanced sailships in history, used by Britain and the USA for trading with the most far away colonies or countries in Asia and Oceania... and they only came into existence after the invention of the steamship liner and their owners and crews were all well aware about their days being numbered given the more modern competition. Still, they were pretty succesful until the end of the 19th century. Some late clippers then took the trope to a whole new level, when they were modified to accomodate smaller steam engines for propulsion in case of windless weather.
    • In fact, a common piece of equipment on these clippers were small steam engines known as "Steam Donkeys". You could save quite a bit of manpower with a few of these employed along with rope, pullies, blocks and tackles, etc. to do various heavy lifting and manual labor on the deck. So in the age of steam, you had a sailing ship that was partially automated thanks to the use of steam engines.
    • The SS Great Britain had her steam engine removed in 1882
  • The windjammer. Windjammer was the type of sailing ship which superceded the clippers. The windjammers were truly big merchant sailing ships, used for ultra-long voyages on carrying bulk cargo, such as grain, fertilizers or lumber. They were usually rigged as four-masted barques and could outrun almost any steamship on suitable winds. Their hulls were designed scientifically and rig optimized for small crews. Their heyday was from 1880 to 1939 - when aircraft carrier was already well in use. Many windjammers have survived even today, either as museum ships or as school ships. The last commercial windjammer, German four-masted barque "Pamir", sunk in fertilizer cargo in hurricane in 1957 - at the time atomic ships were already sailing.
  • Successful aircraft can have surprisingly long lifespans, which can lead to this as modern technologies are integrated into older platforms. Case in point: the B-52. Boeing won the contract for its development in 1946, the first planes saw service in 1955, and production ceased in 1961. They are still in service, operating with structural reinforcements developed in the 1970s, firing computer-aided missiles using modern targeting equipment and running on alternative fuels. And if all goes according to plan, they will continue to do so until at least the mid-2040s.
    • Better than that is the C-47/DC-3, produced from 1933-1942, they served during WW 2 and afterwards and some are still in service. They also saw a wealth of modifications, including the famous AC-47 "Spooky"/"Puff The Magic Dragon", the rather modern Basler BT-67. Additionally they saw production in the Soviet Union as the Lisunov Li-2.
    • Other examples are the DHC-2 Beaver (first flown in 1947, the original models are still in wide use, with the new Turbo Beaver still in production), the C-130 Hercules (still in production after 50 years), and commercial airliners such as the Boeing 707 (entered service 1957), 727 (entered service 1963) and 737 (first flown over 40 years ago...and still in production).
  • A lot of real life examples are due to necessity being the mother of invention coupled with if it ain't broke, don't fix it. We still outfit soldiers with knives (mostly for utility, but close quarter combat is a possibility) that would not be out of place centuries ago (aside from the materials), because you really can't come up with a better way to cut things than with a simple wedge.
    • That and just because a civilization is advanced in one area does not mean it'll be advanced in all the other areas. Or that it'll advance at exactly the same rate as other civilizations.
    • And don't forget advances being made to those tools. A 2003 news report discussed a nice little device in the American arsenal: the tomahawk. Not the cruise missile, the axe. Think about all the kinds of things a soldier wandering around in Afghanistan might have to deal with, and how many of them might be solved by having, say, a hatchet on hand. And not all of these are 'angry guy charging you'.
      • Many edged weapons are far more useful as tools than actual weapons, from the Bowie knife to the Kukri and machete, for both military man and outdoorsman. Guess why sailors carried cutlasses and knives far after the last boarding action happened.
  • This is an especially common situation in highly stratified cultures where a wealthy ruling elite—usually a brutal dictatorship—dominates a population deliberately kept in oppressive poverty. There are a large number of such nations in modern Africa and Asia; with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Zimbabwe being the quintessential examples.
  • Here you see a Twitter client for the Commodore 64
  • Many African countries with more than a rudimentary banking infrastructure are ditching paper currency (due to the expense of minting, the fact that paper money deteriorates quickly in warm, humid climates, and the spread of disease) and going straight to debit cards.
    • Even better. In many areas in Africa, people would send their friends/relatives/creditors money in the form of cellphone airtime (since most cellphone plans are either prepaid or have limited minutes). Exchanging cellphone airtime became a legitimate unit of currency because it would not depreciate (as opposed to "real money"), and you don't need to belong to a bank in order to exchange money remotely. In this way, Africans basically invented mobile banking before it was a thing. Cellphone service providers have taken heed, and today a lot of "low-footprint" services (i.e., that don't need a lot of bandwidth) get released in Africa first to see if people would want to use them. This works out because basically everyone in Africa has a cellphone, this being by far the easiest way to keep in touch in the absence of other infrastructure. What would you rather do: wire every single house in your village to a land-line, or build one cellphone tower?
  • Anything onboard a yacht. The yachts may (and usually do) have GPS plotters, VHF radios, radars and navigation computers onboard, as well as sextants, log lines and handlines for depth. Square sail, long considered obsolete, has made a comeback amongst the bluewater cruisers who do transoceanic legs.
  • Three words: "Laser Guided Scissors".
  1. In-Universe, the soundtrack was made by a band... in it's FM synthesized integrality!