Coronavirus: Pop culture moments that ‘predicted’ the Covid-19 outbreak, from My Secret Terrius to The Eyes of Darkness

Ellie Harrison

Whether it’s a Disney princess locked away in self-isolation or a book warning of “a severe pneumonia-like illness” that would sweep the earth in 2020, moments in pop culture from throughout the years are enjoying a resurgence for "predicting" the coronavirus pandemic.

Pieces of fiction that feature the word “corona”, the city of Wuhan, the year 2020 or certain symptoms have all been resurfaced, with fans pointing out that these dystopic worlds serve as an eerily accurate reflection of today’s events.

Here are all the films, TV shows and books that have "predicted" the coronavirus outbreak…

The Eyes of Darkness by Dean Koontz​

This 1981 novel revolves around a grieving mother investigating the mysterious circumstances of her son’s death. Buried deep within it is a peculiar reference to a killer virus known as “Wuhan-400”, the name of the city where the coronavirus originated. One character calls the virus “the perfect weapon” for biological warfare.

The Simpsons

Fans of The Simpsons believe that the cartoon predicted the ongoing coronavirus outbreak back in 1993.

The season four episode “Marge in Chains” depicts a global pandemic that originated in Japan called the “Osaka Flu”.

Given coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, more than 2000km away from the Japanese city of Osaka, it would be fair to say this is one of The Simpsons’ less accurate predictions.


Tangled (Disney)

In this 2010 Disney film, Rapunzel spends her days locked away in a tower (in self-isolation, you might say) and staying away from the rest of the world. The strange coincidence is that in this version of the classic tale, the princess lives in the kingdom of Corona.

End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies About the End of the World by Sylvia Browne

This book by a self-proclaimed psychic has seen a surge in sales after claiming a global pandemic akin to coronavirus would occur “around 2020”. Published in 2008, it states: “In around 2020, a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and bronchial tubes and resisting all known treatments."

The Marburg Virus by Stanley Johnson

Boris Johnson’s father Stanley has claimed a novel he wrote 40 years ago “predicted” the pandemic. In a piece for The Telegraph, he wrote how his book The Marburg Virus imagined the outbreak of a deadly contagious virus.

“The basic driver of my plot was the pressure of time, the urgent need to find some antidote or means of immunisation to protect populations before they were overwhelmed by the disease in spite of the measures of ‘containment’ or ‘delay’,” he wrote. Stanley also said he would ignore advice from health officials to avoid non-essential contact, and continue going to the pub. So, he's not exactly the go-to expert when it comes to a pandemic.

My Secret Terrius on Netflix

My Secret Terrius (Netflix)

A TV show on Netflix seemed to accurately predict the coronavirus pandemic back in 2018. The 10th episode of Korean series My Secret Terrius makes mention of the deadly illness, which has been used to refer to several viruses before it became associated with the Covid-19 outbreak. In prescient scenes from the show, a doctor can be heard saying: “The coronavirus attacks the respiratory system," adding: "What’s more serious is that the coronavirus has an incubation period of two to 14 days.”

The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon

In one episode of The Big Bang Theory, a paranoid Sheldon tries to avoid getting infected by a “deadly disease”. He ends up in hospital anyway, under a two-week quarantine. In the prequel series Young Sheldon, he excuses himself from class because he doesn't “want to die” and, later, he is seen watching the news on TV, wearing a mask, while the newsreader discusses a virus that originated in China that is particularly contagious among old people and children.

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