Turn of the Millennium

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"Two thousand zero zero party over. Oops out of time."
Prince, "1999"

The Year 2000. Flying cars, androids, faster-than-light space travel... oh wait, we don't have any of that yet. On the plus side, our computers didn't explode, after all.[1] While New Years' 2000 came in with a bang, attitudes from The Nineties pretty much lingered for the first year. For the United States, the decade culturally started on September 11th, 2001 with the terrorist attacks on New York City, which not only launched the United States into two wars, but continues to be a lingering specter in global politics. It is possible this decade may have ended culturally in fall 2008, which saw the start of the worst financial crisis since The Great Depression, followed two months later by the election of Barack Obama as President.

See The War on Terror for the major wars of this decade. Note that, since The War on Terror has defined American and NATO-sphere foreign policy for almost all of this time, this decade has marked the arrival of Middle Eastern civilizations as societies to know about. The Persian Gulf city of Dubai, for example, went through its Boom Town during this decade.

Much of the decade's culture can roughly be described as "The Eighties, Round 2", namely in terms of societal excess. The "McMansion" became the dominant paradigm for new homes, and enormous SUVs, after getting their start in the late '90s, came to rule over the car market. Every genre of music, from Glam Rap to Post-Grunge, idolized lifestyles of excess and debauchery. If you couldn't afford a new flat-screen and surround sound system, then you could just buy it on credit and pay it off later. Reality took over TV, with Survivor and American Idol in the US and Big Brother and Pop Idol/The X Factor in Britain launching literally hundreds of imitators across an ocean of reality TV subgenres, helped along by the explosion of cable and satellite television as a major outlet for original programming. Celebrity came to be defined not by an entertainer's accomplishments as a musician, actor, athlete, etc., but by the number of Paparazzi following his or her every move and the amount of tabloid press that he or she had. It was something that could be achieved for seemingly nebulous reasons, as shown by the inexplicable rise to superstardom of such people as Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, who built media empires on their status as socialites and reality TV stars. The societal implications of this were not lost on the world, with Charlie Brooker in Britain, The Chaser in Australia, and The Soup and The Daily Show in the US leading a wave of shows and blogs that satirized and parodied the decade's culture.

And speaking of blogs, this was also the time in which the internet really became a part of society at large, instead of being limited to computer geeks and Usenet groups. Everyone got connected, with many people owning media storage devices, have access to the internet, etc. If you didn't have a computer with internet access, you were left behind. Technology was always getting better and less expensive via Moore's law, and you can walk into a department store and buy a computer which was at least a million times more powerful than the ones that put man on the moon. Video Games finally started to gain mainstream recognition, especially near the end of the decade, with the release of the Wii. Games became Darker and Edgier, with much more mature storylines and realistic plots, although how mature and realistic they are is subject to debate (some see it as a repeat of The Dark Age of Comic Books). Meanwhile, the sports gaming industry was effectively monopolized by Electronic Arts, to the horror of some.

Gaming's turn towards realism was reflected in speculative fiction. There was a great demand for more "realistic" depictions of what happens if we were to actually meet aliens or fight robots. If we are higher tech, there is a good chance that Humans Are the Real Monsters, and when we have the inferior tech, don't expect to come out of the situation alive or overcoming against bad odds. This shift is perhaps best exemplified by Lost and the remake of Battlestar Galactica Reimagined, two of the defining sci-fi shows of the decade, which were both heavily focused on character-driven drama, philosophy and gritty realism (the latter especially in BSG's case).

A lot of humor consists of Crossing the Line Twice, and things which would have caused the Moral Guardians to have strokes just a few years earlier are now seen as just mildly offensive. As such, obsession with Japan and awareness of East Asian affairs (especially with China's rapid rise as a world power) is becoming popular in the US once more. Movies tended to be more about adventure and self discovery than action and blowing things up. Of course, when you consider what started the decade off, it's kind of understandable why.

In the world of anime and manga, the Light Novel and Visual Novel adaptation saw a massive boost with Yamamoto Yutaka spearheading the efforts of making Haruhi popular and Noizi Itoh a very rich illustrator as she was responsible for the character illustrations, Mediafactory and Degenki were quick to cash in on this craze, leading to a spurt of harem and slice of life manga and anime.

Note that this was only named as such because few can decide on what to call the 2000-2009 period. In Britain and Australia, this decade is often called the Noughties, as the word "nought" has the same meaning as "zero." However, the word "nought" has faded from American English, which means that, to American ears, the term "Noughties" sounds like the more snicker-inducing "Naughties." [2] As a result, the Americans are more likely to use the term "Two-Thousands" to describe this decade. [3] Stay tuned.

See Also: The Forties, The Fifties, The Sixties, The Seventies, The Eighties, The Nineties and The New Tens.

See the "All Subpages" tab for works from the Turn of the Millenium, sorted by medium.

Finally, as a sidenote, the 21st century and 3rd millennium began on January 1, 2001, not 2000, because there was no year 0. But many people just used this as an excuse to celebrate the new millennium twice.


Tropes associated with the time period:



Works that were made in this time period are listed on these subpages:


  1. But only because a lot of people put in a lot of overtime and spent a lot of money to fix things before the deadline.
  2. Ironically enough, this term was coined by some Americans in the late '90s, who did indeed use the "Naughties" spelling, as it symbolized both the aforementioned zeroes and the hope that this decade would be less inhibited than The Nineties.
  3. Also heard occasionally in the US is "The 'Aughts", in reference to the old-time practice of referring to 190x as "nineteen-aught-x".