In the age of the Internet, there aren’t many “little-known facts” left to uncover, and so most of the examples of foreshadowing in sci-fi films has long since been discovered and discussed ad nauseam. Still, there’s something incredibly satisfying about watching old favorites like Star Wars and noticing some of the easy to miss clues in sci-fi movies you thought you knew by heart. It’s a sensation that makes one feel like a seasoned film critic and a masterful detective in one fell swoop.
There are some directors out there that put an intense amount of effort into filling their science fiction movies with foreshadowing, because they know it will make their films all-the-more rewatchable. And, if there’s one thing that all science-fiction fans love, it’s re-experiencing their favorite stories over, and over, and over again. Call it foreshadowing, call it an Easter egg, or call it spoiling your own ending - the fact is that peppering a plot with hints of future events is a time-honored part of creating science-fiction.
The World’s End, the third film in the Cornetto trilogy directed by Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, is primarily a comedy, but it also has some serious sci-fi elements, due to the characters’ entire hometown being replaced by alien robots. Initially, the film’s plot seems to center on some old friends attempting to “crawl” to a dozen different pubs, each with its own memorable name and heraldry. Each of the pub names is actually a hint at a plot event that is going to occur when the characters reach said pub, and so the entire plot of the movie is hinted at right at the very beginning. At “The Cross Hands,” the group engages in their first round of fisticuffs, and at “The Two-Headed Dog,” they encounter a notorious set of twins. Most impressive is “The Hole in the Wall,” a pub that one character unexpectedly drives his car into to rescue the rest of the gang.
The Transformers franchise isn’t exactly a series that is looked to for subtle plot elements like foreshadowing, but Dark of the Moon actually provided an impressively clever hint at the story’s main twist. One of the Autobots, Sentinel Prime, is voiced by Leonard Nimoy, and eventually he goes rogue and joins up with the Deceptacons. This is neatly foreshadowed by a couple of minor characters watching a old Star Trek in the background, which one of them describes as “The one where Spock goes nuts.” Of course, Spock was played by Nimoy, too.
Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) spends the majority of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back on the Planet Dagobah, training under Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz). As part of this training, Luke is asked to enter a gigantic tree cave, inside which he will face his greatest fear, which takes the form of Darth Vader (David Prowse). Luke has a lightsaber battle with the figment of his imagination, and strikes down the Sith Lord, only to discover, much to his horror, that his own face lies hidden under Vader’s mask. Those watching for the first time will see it as symbolism that Luke fears becoming evil, like Vader, but those who know the film’s big twist will see it as obvious foreshadowing that Luke and Vader share a particularly close connection.
The original Total Recall is one of those films that make a point to bamboozle the audience. The central question of the plot is whether or not any of Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger)’s experiences are real, as they could instead be the result of implanted memories via the Rekall Corporation. However, there’s a big hint near the beginning, when a technician in the background says something about a “blue sky on Mars” being a “new one.” At the end of the film, Quaid is standing on the surface of Mars and looking up... at a blue sky.