Sci-Fi And Fantasy’s Greatest Time Travellers
The recent Game of Thrones episode “The Door” unearthed the startling potential of Bran Stark’s “greensight” abilities. Although the show previously hinted that the young lordling could alter the past, it wasn’t confirmed outright until he bridged a decades-long mental gap in young Wylis’—soon to be Hodor’s—mind. Time travel stories have long been integral to the world of genre fiction, so we’re going to take a look at some prime, although not always coherent, examples in our favourite sci-fi and fantasy.
One of the more famous time travellers, Skynet’s murderous metal monster has been terrifying and delighting audiences repeatedly for over the last three decades. Sometimes fighting to destroy humanity, other times fighting to save it, the Terminator’s use of time travel through multiple timelines is as confusing as its allegiances. Shouldn’t Skynet immediately realize the Terminator failed to kill Sarah Connor as soon as they send him back in time? Why not send them one after another until they know the job is done?
There are few characters in genre fiction as timeless as Doctor Who‘s The Doctor, who is a literal Time Lord. Having been portrayed officially by twelve different actors over the course of its 26 seasons, the series’ own meta-narrative comes through loud and clear via its main character. This show just throws continuity out the window, because in a story of infinite, endlessly varying universes, who really cares? The TARDIS isn’t the only means of time travel in the series, as other characters and creatures are capable of time-space teleportation, black hole manipulation, and time travel via mirrors.
By the time we get to The Prisoner of Azkaban, we see Harry and Hermione use a “Time-Turner” to save the lives of Buckbeak, Hagrid’s hippogriff, and Sirius Black. The duo had previously been saved from certain demise by a series of overly convenient solutions, which later turned out to be their future selves returning to the past to provide ample warning and distraction. In the world of Harry Potter, time travel follows a similar “single timeline” theory, like we see in Game of Thrones. Everything that’s going to happen will always happen and even events in the past, changed by actions from the future, will just occur as normal.
ABC recently announced it’ll be turning Karl Alexander’s 1979 novel, Time After Time, into a new television series. The story imagines Time Machine author H.G. Wells as an actual time traveller who journeys from the past to the future in pursuit of Jack the Ripper. It’ll be interesting to see if this series can pay true homage to both Alexander’s original work and the grandfather of time travel himself, the legendary H.G. Wells.