Monday, April 13, 2020

4 Types of Time Travel

The Cursed Child. The Flash. Doctor Who. Wibbly Wobby Timey Wimey.

Time travel almost seems to be a go-to with series nowadays. Any sort of science fiction or fantasy basically necessitates a time travel plot. The problem becomes when fans don't understand the rules of time travel. That being said, every franchise seems to have different rules. They all boil down (more or less) into one of four categories though.

1. Time is Fixed -- "Whatever happened, happened"
Prime example of this one is LOST. For all of its critiques, LOST stuck tight to its rule about not changing anything in the past when the Flight 815 survivors were stuck in the 1970's. It was actually LOST that sold me on this version of time travel. Basically, if you travel to the past, you cause the past to happen. Same thing happened in Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry saw himself conjuring the patronus charm, because a future version of Harry had already gone back in time. No one un-did Buckbeak's death; he was saved the whole time. Other examples include Once Upon a Time ("Is This Henry Mills?"), and Star Trek Voyage Home.

2. Time is Malleable -- "His head's gone, it's like it's been erased."
One of the more popular kinds of time travel (in my opinion) is demonstrated in Back to the Future. In this version of time travel, it's possible to change the past. By changing the past, you could erase yourself from existence, like Marty McFly almost did. This was also seen in the future when Marty and Doc change Marty Jr's fate. Other examples include Once Upon a Time ("Snow Drifts"/"There's No Place Like Home"), Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's ("Bonds Beyond Time"), Runaways ("Cheat the Gallows"), X-Men Days of Future Past

3. Alternate Timelines -- "If you travel to the past, that past becomes your future. And your former present becomes the past."
The version of time travel seen in Endgame got confusing and it's because people assumed time travel rules version 2 (i.e. Back to the Future) but when Banner called out Doc and Marty's time travel rules, it confused people even more. Essentially, each time they made a change to the past, it created a splinter timeline. So the upcoming series Loki, featuring the Loki from Battle of New York in Endgame after he escapes. It creates a multiverse scenario, with multiple similar timelines. In my opinion, this was better explained in Agents of SHIELD when they changed the future, but Deke still survived in the present day. Instead of being erased from time (like version 2 rules), he just remained in this new timeline, featured in Season 6. Other examples include Once Upon a Time ("Homecoming"/"Leaving Storybrooke"), Star Trek (2009 movie), Star Trek Voyager

4. Fixed Points in Time -- "Everything else is in flux, anything can happen, but those certain moments, they have to stand."
This is the kind of time travel that gets confusing really easily. It basically gives the writer the authority to do whatever they want, depending on the idea. Doctor Who used this idea and it meant that certain things could be changed, but other events had to happen (like Pete Tyler's accident or the "death" of the Doctor, etc.). The Flash also did this with the death of Barry's mother. Changes to these events caused paradoxes to occur, resulting in the Reapers, the collapse of time, and the Flashpoint timeline. Other things, like the trajectories of individuals' lives, the universe just compensates around. Other examples include Legends of Tomorrow (for the most part).

Which version of time travel is your favorite? Which time travel story/series is your favorite?

No comments:

Post a Comment