Flintstone's "car", with two cylindrical rollers as wheels, with wood and stone making the frame and seat

The most obvious example I could think of, was the Flintstone's "car". Obviously cars didn't exist at the time. (Neither did most of the things in the Flintstone's lives - which I think is the point of the cartoon: "make a 1920's sitcom, but in the stone age".) But the creators wanted cars to be in the story, so the invented a "logical" replacement for one in the setting.

Cartoon with a carrier pigeon saying "This message has no subject. Do you want to send it anyway?"

There are other, less direct, examples of this kind of loosely maintaining the setting: such as using a Carrier Pigeon as a text message. I'm not sure if I've ever seen that done in a kid's cartoon, but it just seems like it would have been done at some point; like medieval teenagers talking through bird-notes, and one of the notes reads "LOL". In this kind of example the creator wouldn't even need to recreate a technology that wouldn't exist in the setting, they merely need to show the viewer, in some way, that they are using an obsolete piece of technology that was used in that period in history as a replacement for a more modern one in their story.

So, to summarize my question. Is there a more descriptive term than "symbol/symbolism" for either the act of using old technology as a representation of new technology, or the item itself that represents the new technology in the story?

  • I don't know if this is what you were looking for, but "humorous anachronism" comes to mind.
    – Mike
    Sep 2, 2022 at 10:56
  • The Flintstones makes a lot more sense if you think of it as set in a post-apocalyptic future. Before the collapse, animals were genetically engineered for intelligence, and dino-like beasts were created. After the collapse, people know that their ancestors had things like cars and phones, but lack the technology to recreate them. So they use the intelligent animals to make something similar. NB - I said it makes more sense, not that it makes total sense.
    – Pete
    Sep 3, 2022 at 13:27

1 Answer 1


They're just anachronisms, though ones that are intentionally created for humorous effect. See e.g. this article:

Intentional Anachronism

Some literature or movies might intentionally create an anachronism for the storyline or to add humor. For example, the Flintstones mixing with dinosaurs. Many times, historical comedies might have anachronisms to add a comedic effect. Think of the Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles. Though it was set in 1874, they broke down a wall to a modern Hollywood studio.

For this specific type of anachronism, you could call it a prochronism, but it's neither a common nor useful term.

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