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I guess I just like liking things

Twist: his mullet is the source of his time-traveling powers.

Twist: his mullet is the source of his time-traveling powers.

Time travel stories are the best and the worst. It’s great to go back and fiddle with things, or see things through a modern eye, or try to invest in the stock market before Jean-Claude Van Damme comes back and arrests you. But it’s terrible to create time paradoxes that end up swallowing the universe as a whole and ending all life simultaneously. So time traveling in stories is the only way to do it without mucking everything up, so let’s leave it there.

Here are my favorite time travelers from fiction:

10. Richard Collier (Somewhere in Time) – This one earns a spot simply because of the method of time travel used: taking a nap. This would be awesome (go anywhere easily) and terrifying (I’m never going to sleep again!)

9. Agent J (Men in Black 3) – Come on, it’s Will Smith. Who else would you want to “get jiggy with time” with?

8. Prince Dastan (Prince of Persia) – I don’t think he had a name in the games, but the movie version is the one I like anyway. A lot of people griped because the time travel pretty much made the whole movie a pointless waste of time, but I respectfully disagree. Without the time travel he wouldn’t have learned the things he did. In fact, I think it’s one of the neatest uses of time travel put to screen.

7. Ninja Turtles (III) – Sure, it’s a goofy movie, but if you’re a Turtles fan at all their desire to stay in the past where they were respected/feared tugged at your heart at least a little. In the end, though, they had to return because it was the right thing to do, and that’s what the Turtles do*. (*Please ignore all of the murdering in the original comics – those dudes had it coming.)

6. The Enterprise Crew (Star Trek IV) – They also did it in a couple of episodes, but we all know Star Trek IV is the best one. This movie is so much fun that when I got older and found out there were some people who thought it was silly and ridiculous, I lost faith in humanity that has yet to be recovered.

5. Hermione (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) – Leave it to Hermione to use time travel as a means to take more classes. Cracks me up.

4. Bill & Ted (Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey) – Remember when trying to graduate from high school was your biggest concern? I love how easily these two not only accept that there’s time travel but also how they use it – “Make a note to come back and put a bucket over his head!” is exactly who everyone with a time machine ought to use it but never does.

3. Ash (Army of Darkness) – The original ending had Ash use too much potion and oversleeping by hundreds of years, which is genius and would have been awesome. As it is, Ash is another guy who takes to the concept of time travel right away and doesn’t pine for his own time for even a second before he’s chewing gum and kicking butt (and being all out of gum).

2. Marty McFly/Doc Brown (Back to the Future) – Marty spends too much time goggle-eyed at everything, but he comes through eventually. Doc Brown more than makes up for his trepidation, though, while still having the sense to try to time travel by some rules.

1. The Doctor (Doctor Who) – This one’s almost a cheat since there’ve been eleven of them, but The Doctor as a whole is awesome and I’m not even going to try and dignify that by bothering to explain why. Suffice to say, if The Doctor showed up and said, “Hey, come along!” I’d do it.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Phil Connors (Groundhog Day) – Not technically time travel, I don’t think.
  • The Terminator(s) (The Terminator series) – It’s probably best if never make it so killer robots have the chance to come back in time, right?
  • Captain Colter Stevens (Source Code) – Jake Gyllenhaal makes his second appearance (and, no, Donnie Darko never made the short list) for a really neat concept I don’t want want to ruin for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.
  • Henry (The Time Traveler’s Wife, the book, specifically) – He seems like kind of a jerk, but still sympathetic. Pros: easy method of time travel; Cons: no control over it and it seems to end badly.


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