Top Five Time Travel Stories

Top Five is a show where the hosts categorize, rank, compare, and stratify everything… from cars to gadgets to people and movies. From stuff that is hot, and things that are not nearly as interesting – it’s Top Five.

This week, Billy Pilgrim, Peggy Sue, Kris Kristofferson, and Marty McFly have all experienced time travel.  But where do they fall on our top five this week?  Will A Sound of Thunder, Army of Darkness, and Booster Gold make the list?

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26 Comments

  1. September 5, 2011 at 3:24 pm — Reply

    I haven’t heard the podcast yet. Here’s my 5 cents…

    5) Timecrimes (los cronocrimenes)
    4) Age of Apocolypse – alternate time, yes. But Bishop travels between them.
    3) Bill & Ted – NO WAY!
    2) Days of future past
    1) Doctor Who

  2. Michael
    September 5, 2011 at 6:42 pm — Reply

    I’m not sure they’d be ON my list, but unmentioned things I’d have to consider:

    – Frequency
    – Time After Time
    – The Terminator Series (especially 2 and 3, but *NOT* Salvation, which was $#!+ and didn’t involve time travel anyhow)

    • Michael
      September 6, 2011 at 11:38 pm — Reply

      I forgot (and forgot if it’s been mentioned) Source Code.

      • Michael
        September 6, 2011 at 11:39 pm — Reply

        And at least a few episodes of Quantum Leap and the Trials And Tibbleations episode of DS9.

  3. GeorgeDubya
    September 5, 2011 at 7:20 pm — Reply

    I know that “Somewhere in Time” would probably be somewhere on my list.

    What? Don’t look at me like that.

  4. September 6, 2011 at 9:36 am — Reply

    the timetraveller’s wife

    amazing.

  5. September 6, 2011 at 9:48 am — Reply

    Here’s my top five . . .

    5. The Final Countdown
    4. Timeline (the book, haven’t yet seen the movie)
    3. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
    2. Donnie Darko.
    1. The Terminator.

    • September 6, 2011 at 11:28 pm — Reply

      Donnie Darko! Man why didn’t I think about that one. Bedst movie ever.

  6. September 6, 2011 at 11:11 am — Reply

    5.- future imperfect
    4.- captain america vs corvak
    3.- fantastic four 2099
    2.- flash race agaist time
    1.- superman time and time again

  7. Ricco
    September 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm — Reply

    5. Back to the Future 2, I liked it better then the original because of all the scenes where the protagonist has to avoid meeting himself, I loved those.

    4. Futurama’s “Roswell That Ends Well”, the great grandfather or all grandfather paradoxes, literally.

    3. A Sound of Thunder, the short story and the 30 minute episode of Ray Bradbury Presents, love how this one story is pretty much where all time travel stories draw the “do nothing to change the past, anything however small will mess with the time line”.

    2. Groundhog Day, there are a few movies that I will watch when showing on TV at any time of the day this is one of them.

    1. Andromeda’s “The Unconquerable Man”, warning, wall of text.

    This series starts with the XO betraying the captain and dying in the captains arm after loosing a fight to him and saying “Im proud of you, you shouldn’t be” for killing him, since he’s from a warrior race that strongly believe in the survival of the fittest it made sense.
    2 seasons later we learn the true meaning of these words, originally the captain had lost the fight and the XO was the one stuck for 300 years near a black hole and forced to try to rebuild what was lost all those years ago!
    But he was failing at it and the mysterious character that had been guiding the captain trough all 3 season tell the XO that he’s not the man for the job and they use a device that had appeared in a previous episode to have him travel back in time, kill himself and take his younger self place and throw the fight.
    Basically the reality we know and follow in this series is not the “real” one but the “alternate” reality, that was a great moment for the series.

  8. Xian
    September 6, 2011 at 11:09 pm — Reply

    1. The Merchant and The Alchemist’s Gate – 2008 Hugo AND Nebula award winning short story that you can read here: http://web.archive.org/web/20080214145811/http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/fiction/tc01.htm or even better, listen to a dramatic reading of it here: http://www.starshipsofa.com/blog/2008/03/23/aural-delights-no-15-ted-chiang/ It is a time travel story artfully done, faithfully mimicking the Arabian Nights, while technically and scientifically rigid insofar as the rules of its magic allows.

    2. Primer – As in the podcast.

    3. Terminator – Mostly 2 and The Sarah Conner Chronicles. While not terribly consistent or mechanical application of time travel, it provides the essential formula for contemporary based time travel stories (rather than ones taking place the far future or distant past) struggling to fend off fate or rewrite an unwritten history.

    4. Highlander – Mostly the TV series. Immortality provides an experiential one-way form of time travel that always appealed to me because it lacked the holes, paradoxes, and inconsistencies of traditional time travel tales, while still very much sending people into the future and making their every action have time related consequences.

    5. Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – The classic time travel abuse story. Yes, foreknowledge can be used to play stocks, win wars, etc… but ultimately what we want is to use the power to be a wizard!

    Honorable mentions:

    Matrix – Another contemporary story that allows one to travel to two simultaneous futures… a dystopian hell where mankind is enslaved and underground and a shiny high tech future where you can learn anything in an instant, gain super powers, and secret knowledge of how the whole world works.

    Gargoyles – In a later season an artifact allowed for time traveling shenanigans that weren’t entirely consistent but did satisfy that abuse angle in a way that was satisfying and believable (as opposed to the sort of comic-booky failure of villains like Kang, Abra Kadabra, or Professor Zoom who, by all rights, ought to be completely omnipotent compared to their contemporary foes).

    Cable – Early on, he was a mashup of all the time travel tropes with an aggressive abuse angle only the 90s could spawn… ridiculous, sure, but it’s what some part of us wants from time travel… otherwise, why Badass Hiro from NBC’s Heroes and the like? Cable knew what was going to happen, had cybernetic parts, teleportation, a sentient ship, a moonbase, elaborate financial and martial holdings, a great destiny, and so and so forth… not to mention the trump card that made it all possible, the time machine… whether it’s Bill and Ted, Back To the Future, Future Hiro, or Cable… there’s something in us that wants to disappear in our present state (sickly infant, bad air guitarists, lonely scientist, nerdy daydreamer) and reappear wizened, empowered, and suddenly better and badass for all to see.

  9. Xian
    September 6, 2011 at 11:13 pm — Reply

    1. The Merchant and The Alchemist’s Gate – 2008 Hugo AND Nebula award winning short story. It is a time travel story artfully done, faithfully mimicking the Arabian Nights, while technically and scientifically rigid insofar as the rules of its magic allows.

    2. Primer – As in the podcast.

    3. Terminator – Mostly 2 and The Sarah Conner Chronicles. While not terribly consistent or mechanical application of time travel, it provides the essential formula for contemporary based time travel stories (rather than ones taking place the far future or distant past) struggling to fend off fate or rewrite an unwritten history.

    4. Highlander – Mostly the TV series. Immortality provides an experiential one-way form of time travel that always appealed to me because it lacked the holes, paradoxes, and inconsistencies of traditional time travel tales, while still very much sending people into the future and making their every action have time related consequences.

    5. Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – The classic time travel abuse story. Yes, foreknowledge can be used to play stocks, win wars, etc… but ultimately what we want is to use the power to be a wizard!

    Honorable mentions:

    Matrix – Another contemporary story that allows one to travel to two simultaneous futures… a dystopian hell where mankind is enslaved and underground and a shiny high tech future where you can learn anything in an instant, gain super powers, and secret knowledge of how the whole world works.

    Gargoyles – In a later season an artifact allowed for time traveling shenanigans that weren’t entirely consistent but did satisfy that abuse angle in a way that was satisfying and believable (as opposed to the sort of comic-booky failure of villains like Kang, Abra Kadabra, or Professor Zoom who, by all rights, ought to be completely omnipotent compared to their contemporary foes).

    Cable – Early on, he was a mashup of all the time travel tropes with an aggressive abuse angle only the 90s could spawn… ridiculous, sure, but it’s what some part of us wants from time travel… otherwise, why Badass Hiro from NBC’s Heroes and the like? Cable knew what was going to happen, had cybernetic parts, teleportation, a sentient ship, a moonbase, elaborate financial and martial holdings, a great destiny, and so and so forth… not to mention the trump card that made it all possible, the time machine… whether it’s Bill and Ted, Back To the Future, Future Hiro, or Cable… there’s something in us that wants to disappear in our present state (sickly infant, bad air guitarists, lonely scientist, nerdy daydreamer) and reappear wizened, empowered, and suddenly better and badass for all to see.

  10. Damascus
    September 6, 2011 at 11:19 pm — Reply

    My Top 5 Time Travel Stories are:
    5. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009)
    4. Donnie Darko
    3. Army of Darkness
    2. Back to the Future
    1. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

    Everyone knows all about most of those I’m sure, except possibly for my #5 choice, Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel. It’s a hilarious movie with Chris O’Dowd from The IT Crowd, Dean Lennox Kelly who’s doing the voice of John Lennon in the new Yellow Submarine and as a tangent to other Time Travel, he played Shakespeare in the 2007 episode of Doctor Who, and the most recognizable name, Anna Faris. The movie is about three friends that hang out in a pub, one is really into science fiction and time travel, one is also into sci-fi and the third is a big cynic who likes to bust the balls of our protagonist. The main guy runs into Anna Faris in the pub and she tells him she’s a time traveler tasked with fixing time disturbances, his friends don’t believe him. The cynical friend later goes to the bathroom and when he returns, everyone in the bar is dead, including a version of himself. He goes back to the bathroom and steps back out into his own timeline but from there the movie gets better and better with all three guys trying to avoid interacting with their alternate versions of themselves as they keep popping through time and making a bigger mess of things every time they jump.

    Take the time to give it a watch.

    • Damascus
      September 6, 2011 at 11:22 pm — Reply

      Also, quite important, if you watch the movie, wait until after the credits, it’s a great little scene that’s like the cherry on top of the movie.

  11. The Great NateO
    September 7, 2011 at 7:14 pm — Reply

    5. Star Trek IV The Voyage Home – Sorry but I enjoy this, Spock taking out a punk on a bus, Scotty using a keyboard ( Hello Computer ), Sulu flying a chopper Star Trek in the 80’s, it’s a good day.

    4. Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure – Any move that can take historical figures to the future for a report and not mess up the time line, that’s a movie. Makes you think what the world would be like if they never did that and George Carlin is the best. 69 Dude!

    3. Time Bandits – All the reason on the podcast, MUM DAD don’t touch it its EVIL!

    2. Trancers – I pick this up in a video store growing up and it was Awesome, Jack Deth has to go back in time to stop Whistler, his psychic power can ‘trance’ those with weak minds and force them to obey his every desire. Jack has travel back in time to stop him in 1985. Only way is to travel back in time is into one of his ancestor. COOL!

    1. Seven Days – Chrononaut Frank B. Parker travels back in time to save the world and he only has 7 Days to fix it. He stopped everything from attacks on the US to stopping the Devil. Code Word – Conundrum

    • Damascus
      September 8, 2011 at 12:08 am — Reply

      One thing I didn’t know until recently, the 4th and 5th Trancers movies were written by the comic book writer, Peter David. There’s rumors of a new Trancers movie. Also, I guess I just realized as I looked it up that I always assumed that somehow Tim Thomerson was playing the same character in both Dollman and Trancers. But no, although, both are great names. Brick Bardo and Jack Deth. That’s pretty badass.

  12. Iguana
    September 10, 2011 at 7:06 pm — Reply

    Did not listen yet, but I certainly hope Mr Peabody is on there! The Delorean holds nothing on the Way Back Machine!

    • September 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm — Reply

      And remember kids, when you don’t download and listen to the show, someone kills a puppy.

  13. Bob terwilliger
    September 11, 2011 at 10:09 pm — Reply

    Love me some Primer! I found an essay someone had written online that served as an excellent companion to the movie. Also, I’m in total agreement that the Futurama episode “Roswell that ends well” is definitely in my top five as well.

  14. litanyofthieves
    September 16, 2011 at 3:48 am — Reply

    I have to second the Primer recommendation here, though with a caveat: if you don’t like movies that are a puzzle to play with and solve, you’ll hate it. The way the time machine works is also incredibly novel, and the ending is a complete mind-f**k. I have never seen a better indie film made more cheaply.

  15. KevinpBreen
    September 26, 2011 at 5:22 pm — Reply

    1. THE TIME MACHINE HG Wells
    3. SIDEWISE IN TIME Murray Leinster
    4. A SOUND OF THUNDER Ray Bradbury
    5. THE SHADOW OUT OF TIME HP Lovecraft
    6. BY HIS BOOTSTRAPS Robert A Heinlein
    7. ALL YOU ZOMBIES Robert A Heinlein
    8. THE BIG TIME Fritz Leiber
    9. THE END OF ETERNITY Isaac Asimov
    10. THE CITY AT THE EDGE OF FORVER Harlan Ellison
    11. DOCTOR WHO (Had problems naming a series over an individual story; if pressed have to cite “Genesis of the Daleks,” “Silence in the Library/”Forest of the Dead,” “A Christmas Carol” and “A Good Man Goes to War,” not in that order)

    • KevinpBreen
      September 26, 2011 at 5:28 pm — Reply

      Had to go with 10. Top 5 would be #s 1, 4, 6, 7 and 8 above.

  16. KevinpBreen
    September 26, 2011 at 5:26 pm — Reply

    A CONNECTICUTT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT, BACK TO THE FUTURE and QUANTUM LEAP deserve some credit for popularizing some basic of the basic ideas of time travel in the public consciousness. As did a lot of DC comics in the 60s, like the one where Superman went back to save President Lincoln but time conspired correct itself to prevent him.

    • KevinpBreen
      September 26, 2011 at 5:31 pm — Reply

      And some DC comics that really dropped the ball, like when the Legion of Super-Heroes found a history tape that showed Superboy supposedly going rogue and with no further investigation built a kryptonite prison for him on a distant planet – never for a moment taking his history as SuperMAN into account.

  17. Chino
    March 26, 2012 at 11:19 am — Reply

    I don’t need to place my 5 up here, but I will say for pure guilty pleasure factor Hot Tub Time Machine was just entertaining. Very surprised that Terminator didn’t make your various lists, but I will say I agree with all of your choices (Especially Back to the Future)

  18. Ron
    May 6, 2012 at 7:51 pm — Reply

    “…I didn’t go down Ray…”?

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