Introduction to Time Travel in television and Film

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.” – Doctor Who

Time travel has been the basis for more than 400 films and 150 television series. The appeal? Well as Fraser A. Sherman claims in his book “Now and Then We Time Travel: Visiting Pasts and Futures in Film and Television” , the appeal is the sheer flexibility time travel offers to tell a story.

“A time travel story can warn against a dark future, critique the present or mock the past.” (Sherman,2019)

Although some time travel examples in science fiction may focus on the technology or physics involved in the method of time travel, others steer away from the method & process and instead simply use time travel as a story telling tool.

Similarly, in “Time Travel in Popular Media” (2015)  which is a collection of essays on Time Travel film, television, literature and video games edited by Matthew Jones and Joan Ormrod, it is said that just like science fiction, time travel is a “shape shifting genre”, a traveller may travel by machine or by magic, there are no set rules. Some time travellers travel to “change the timeline” while others are “prevented from causing such temporal aberrations by regulators or the laws of physics.” Jones and Ormrod explain that time travel is also a type of narrative which expects much of its audiences. As a result of these multiple, fluid forms that time travel stories can take in both terms of narratives and media formats, they have excited curiosity and prompted debate since at least the 19th century.

I would like to investigate how time travel, as a form of story telling comments on a possible predicted future using some film and television references to help me. To assist me I will be also be turning to the work of Professor Istvan Csicsery-Ronay and his book, The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction. Ronay makes quite the important point “that science fiction does not predict the future but rather it seeks to explain a past future”. What can time-travel film/television explain about our past? The technology predicted and the “problems” caused or solved by time travel say a lot about the time they were made and this blog series will be further examining this.

Thanks for reading my introductory blog, the following two blogs will focus on two main aspects that were mentioned in this blog, the science fiction aspects of time travel, technology predicted and methods of time travel used and then the other side of time travel involving the narrative and storyline it assists.

In my following blogs I will be using film and television examples provided by you! What are your favourite time travel series/movies?

Comment on this blog or on my twitter post ( what films or television series you would like to see me talk about.


  •  Sherman, F.A  (2017), – Now and Then We Time Travel
  •  Jones, M and Ormrod, J (2015), – Time Travel in Popular Media
  • Csicsery-Ronay, Istvan (2008), – The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction

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