Skip over navigation

Mindhut

I Don't Want Your Future! 6 Characters Who Futzed With Their Timelines

I Don't Want Your Future! 6 Characters Who Futzed With Their Timelines

By Ryan Britt

Marvel Entertainment

Today, the final full trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past debuts, which other than whetting our appetites for this epic mutant mash-up, also reinforces the fact the fact that time-travel in which characters mess with their own timelines are the best. Thought it remains to be seen how much Young Professor X will chill with Bald Professor X, or if Fassbedner Magneto will have any screentime with McKellan Magneto, this kind of time travel is always rad.

Here are six characters from books, TV and film who have—at one point or another—messed around with the natural flow of their own timelines.

“The Bartender”(“ –All You Zombies—” by Robert A. Heinlein)

Perhaps the most whaaat?-inducing short story every written: this classic of paradoxical shenanigans features a Bartender character who ends up revealing to everyone that he’s his own mother, father, daughter, etc. How? Lots of time travel. Lots of operations.

John Baird (The Hemingway Hoax by Joe Haldemen)

An Ernest Hemingway Scholar is approached by a con-man to produce a fake version of a lost Hemingway manuscript. It all sounds great, but as soon as the dusty old typewriters are dusted-off, John Baird starts getting killed by sort of “time-cop” intent on stopping him from writing the fake manuscript. And every time Baird dies, he ends up in a different, slightly alerted timeline.

Everyone on Star Trek, But, Specifically on Voyager (Star Trek: Voyager)

Though there’s actually a shocking amount time-travel in Star Trek, the most paradox-happy time-travel crew is easily Voyager. Whether attempting to change events in 1996 (“Future’s End), rewrite the whole history of the Delta Quadrant (“Year of Hell”), fix past mistakes in not getting Voyager  home  (“Timeless” AND “Endgame”) trying prevent yourself from turning into a jerk (“Fury”) or retconning newer characters into past events (“Relativity”) this particular Trek knew that cause and effect were ideas for suckers. Actually, there is even an episode called “Before and After.”

(Honorable Star Trek mention: Jake Sisko in Deep Space Nine’s “The Visitor”)

Harry Potter and Hermione Granger (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling)

Who taught Harry Potter how to use his patronus? Harry Potter did. To be fair, without Hermonine, Harry Potter wouldn't have been able to time-travel at all, and who knows what stuff Hermoine was up to while using the time-turner to take multiple classes. Actually, does increasing your course-load outside of the bounds of the space-time continuum count as changing your own destiny? Yes?

Marty McFly (Back to the Future Trilogy)

In the first BBTF Marty makes sure his parents meet in 1955, and fall in love and in doing so, causes his own present (1985) timeline to be slightly better. In Back to the Future II, Marty accidentally creates an alternate 1985—one that totally sucks—and has to switch it back by going back to 1955, which in essence is like another 1955. In BBTF III, Marty and Doc are hanging out in 1885, which is alerted by them being there and not being from there, changes events in 1955 and 1885 YET AGAIN, and also changes a few details about the name of a ravine in 1985. Doc was continuing to travel through time at the end of the trilogy, so changes he was making to his own timeline are incalculable. Marty, on the other hand, was finally done.

River Song, Clara Oswald (Doctor Who)

Though the Doctor has been messing with his own timeline a lot from his inception in 1963(well 1963 for us), his more recent companions have been upping the paradox stakes a bit. In “The Wedding of River Song,” River Song’s desire to change established events actually created a split in the universe and resulted in a totally bonkers timeline with dinosaurs and Winston Churchill living in present day. Conversely, in “The Name of the Doctor,” Clara Oswald reveals she has to go back along the Doctor’s entire timeline and save him on multiple occasions from various terrible deeds done unto him by the Great Intelligence. Though the Doctor is a professional time traveler (Time Lord) he’s constantly ranting about “fixed points” or events that have to “stand.” But it’s always more fun when time gets rewritten, right?

What your favorite time-travel, destiny re-writing plots and characters?

Tags: movies, tv, back to the future, doctor who

Write your own comment!

OR

About the Author
Ryan Britt

Ryan Britt's writing has appeared with The New York Times, Omni Reboot, Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Crossed Genres, Story Magazine, The MindHut and elsewhere. He's performed stories on stage with The Moth, The Liar Show, and is the curator of two reading series; Lust for Genre and The HiFi Reading Series. He teaches at The Gotham Writers' Workshop and lives in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @ryancbritt.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.