Setting Update

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Nineties saw a wave of middle-brow adaptations of The Bard's plays, otften taking them to new and interesting territory. There was Henry IV with rent boys, a Fascist Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew in High School, Hamlet with lions, Romeo and Juliet with seizures...
Oancitizen', while reviewing another Shakespeare update, Tromeo and Juliet

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

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

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

Related to Comic Book Time for long running series.

Examples of Setting Update include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Marvel Comics' Ultimate imprint is early(ish) Marvel Comics IN THE 2000s!.
  • Rapunzel's Revenge is "Rapunzel" IN A Schizo-Tech OLD WEST!
  • In Marvel Comics or DC Comics superhero lines, almost any retelling of a character's origin will fall into this category, especially as regards technology, the status of minorities and who the President is. The only exceptions are characters whose origins are fixed in history, e.g. Captain America (comics). (That said, compare the versions of Cap's awakening in the modern day from the original in Avengers #4-10, and the more recent Captain America: Man Out of Time miniseries for a perfect example of this trope.)


Films[edit | hide]

Literature[edit | hide]


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Shakespea Re Told [sic] was blatantly this:
  • ITV did a TV production of Othello AS A MODERN DAY COP DRAMA, WITH OTHELLO AS A NEWLY PROMOTED POLICE COMISSIONER AND IAGO AS HIS JEALOUS FORMER PARTNER! Worth checking out for Christopher Eccleston emanating pure malice as Iago Jago, before being cast as Doctor Who.
  • ITV's 2000 A Christmas Carol is A Christmas Carol WITH ROSS KEMP AS A London Gangster Scrooge!
  • Spoofed in a Channel 4 documentary about Hamlet, which reinvented it as AS A GLOSSY AMERICAN SOAP! to make a point. The Ghost was replaced by a Video Will, and the Oedipal undertones rapidly became text.
  • The new NBC series Kings is basically the biblical story of King Saul and David IN SOME SORT OF PARALLEL UNIVERSE CLOSELY RESEMBLING MODERN AMERICA!
  • House MD is Black Jack WITHOUT THE TEZUKA STAR SYSTEM AND MORE SURGEONS!
    • Actually, a lot of people think it's more like "Sherlock Holmes AS A DOCTOR!" (lampshaded slightly when House is shot by Jack Moriarty)
    • The whole series has dozens of references to Sherlock Holmes.
      • The most obvious being House/Holmes and Wilson/Watson, but also the fact that there's a brilliant but reclusive person and a less-brilliant person who acts as their partner and sole friend.
  • The Brothers Garcia is The Wonder Years WITH HISPANICS!
  • Based on the premise, Stargate Universe may be Star Trek: Voyager... IN THE PRESENT!
  • Heroes is X-Men IN THE REAL WORLD!
  • There are two unrelated Russian TV miniseries, Graf Krestovsky (Count Krestovsky) and Favorsky, both of which are The Count of Monte Cristo IN PRESENT-DAY RUSSIA! And now there's a third one, aptly named Montekristo...
  • The New Odd Couple was The Odd Couple WITH BLACK PEOPLE!
  • Cosmo And George is Mork and Mindy IN SINGAPORE! WITH MINDY AS AN INDIAN GUY!
  • Stylista is The Devil Wears Prada AS A REALITY SHOW!
  • Murder, She Wrote is Ellery Queen AS A WOMAN
  • Castle is Murder, She Wrote WITH A HOT SINGLE FATHER!
  • There's a BBC Macbeth, made in 1997 and starring James Frain and Ray Winstone, set in A PRESENT DAY SLUM!
  • SeaQuest DSV was effectively Star Trek: The Next Generation OUT OF SPACE!, much more pronouncedly so after the end of TNG's run. (In the first seaQuest episode after TNG ended, an alien race arrives in a ship whose design was quite obviously lifted from that of the Borg Cube.)
  • Currently making waves across east Asia, the Korean revenge drama Cruel Temptation is The Count of Monte Cristo IN MODERN TIMES WITH GENDERFLIPS!
  • Choujinki Metalder is Android Kikaider SET IN THE The Eighties WITH A World War II BACKDROP!
  • Channel 4 schools programmes about Shakespeare often did this: Julius Cesear AS A MODERN DAY POLITICIAN! WITH MARK ANTHONY'S FINAL SPEECH BEING TELEVISED!; Macbeth ON A COUNCIL ESTATE! WITH TEENAGE WITCHES ON ROLLERBLADES!; Twelfth Night WITH THE ROUND SUNG BY SIR TOBY AND FESTE AS A RAP! Since they only did a couple of scenes, they didn't have to maintain the concept for the whole play.
  • Channel 4 again, Macbeth IN MODERN DAY SCOTLAND, ONLY IT'S STILL AN INDEPENDENT COUNTRY!
  • Long before Shakepeare Re Told The BBC did a version of Twelfth Night IN THE MID 20TH CENTURY! WITH SEBASTIAN AND VIOLA AS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS!
  • Sherlock is Sherlock Holmes IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY!
  • The 1991 prime time revival of Dark Shadows was essentially the same as the classic series with the modern story arcs updated from the mid-to-late 1960s/early 1970s to the early 1990s.
    • The aborted 2004 WB version would have once again updated the modern portions of the series to the then present day.
  • Vh1’s TV film “A Diva’s Christmas Carol” is A Christmas Carol but with female anti-hero called Ebony, a female ghost called Marli Jacob who was killed in a car crash played by Rozonda Thomas. It also has, Kathy Griffin and John Taylor as the ghost of past and present, with a music special as ghost of the future. To top if off, it’s set in present day New York.
  • Lost in Space is The Swiss Family Robinson in Space

Music[edit | hide]


Radio[edit | hide]


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

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

Theater[edit | hide]

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


Videogames[edit | hide]

Web Originals[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Night Hood is Arsène Lupin IN THE INTERWAR PERIOD
  • Huh-Huh-Humbug is a spoof of A Christmas Carol but with Beavis as a Scrooge-like manager of Burger World, with McVicker as an employee. It comes complete with Tom Anderson, Mr. Van Driessen and Coach Buzzcut as the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future respectfully… all of them interrupting a promo film that Beavis was watching .
  1. Though this may be Justified as Shakepeare's plays were written to be modern; what is now period dress would have been modern at the time, and several shakespeare scholoars have supported this line of thinking.