20 Shows and Movies to Get You Lost in Time

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Stories about time travel are compelling because there is so much at stake. Can the time travelers return to their original timeline? Will they change the course of history? Can they prevent the impending apocalypse?
Not to mention, there’s almost as many ways of slipping through time as there are movies or shows about time. There are time machines that go backwards and forwards on a linear timeline, like in Back to the Future. There’s the simple, unexplained anomaly like The Time Traveler’s Wife, or the more lighthearted About Time. Then there’s the pseudo-physics, multi-verse explanation, like in Loki. 
That’s why so many people love watching time travel TV series. Someone on a popular internet forum asked other users for recommendations of “fun, light-hearted time travel shows.” Sci-fi lovers flooded the thread with these favorites. Enjoy!

1. Timeless (2016-2018)

Scene from Timeless
Photo Credit: NBC Universal Media.
When a team made up of a historian, a sergeant, and a computer engineer join forces to hunt down a time-traveling terrorist, they must make sure to be careful about what elements of the past they choose to alter to save the world and the future.
This exciting time travel show brings the quirky cast through many critical historical moments, like Germany in the 1940’s and the Battle of the Alamo in Texas.

2. Quantum Leap (1989-1993)

Scene from Quantum Leap
Photo Credit: Universal Television.
When one of his experiments goes sideways, a scientist finds himself trapped in the past, and his new predicament forces him to jump into different people’s bodies.
Of course, this puts the scientist in several sticky situations that he must use his sharp wits to make it through. At the same time, he alters fate as he makes decisions living as different historical characters. The world will never be the same again, but how different will it be?

3. Doctor Who (2005-)

Scene from Doctor Who
Photo Credit: BBC Studios.
This classic British sci-fi show has made fans smile, gasp, and laugh for the past eighteen years. The show follows The Doctor, an alien who chooses a companion from Earth to accompany him on adventures through space and time in his telephone-booth-shaped TARDIS.
One of the best and most emotional episodes is when the Doctor and his companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), travel back in time to meet Vincent Van Gogh, and encounter the world through his eyes.

4. Future Man (2017-2020)

Scene from Future Man
Photo Credit: Hulu.
A young and unaccomplished man named Josh (Josh Hutchinson) spends most of his time playing video games. A strange phenomenon is unleashed when he beats a game no other person has ever completed.
Can Josh save the world from these nefarious visitors? First, he must gather a team to help him travel through time in the hopes of eventually ridding the world of this new evil force.

5. Russian Doll (2019-)

Scene from Russian Doll
Photo Credit: Netflix.
When Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) dies tragically one night after her best friend’s party, she doesn’t die but instead restarts the night of the party over again.
This cycle continues as Nadia dies and relives the night over and over again, and she soon tries her hardest to uncover what is going on and why she keeps getting sent back to relive the same night.

6. Legends of Tomorrow (2016-2022)

Scene from Legends of Tomorrow
Photo Credit: DC Entertainment.
Superheroes and time travel? Sign us up! This DC show follows a rogue time traveler who realizes the world can only be saved if heroes and villains work together.
Soon, he creates a ragtag team of heroes and villains who go on missions through time to ensure supervillains don’t destroy the fabric of time itself.

7. The Umbrella Academy (2019-)

Scene from Umbrella Academy
Photo Credit: Netflix.
This creative and action-packed show is about superpowers, time travel, and childhood tragedy. When a cold and cruel billionaire adopts seven children with strange powers, their new father forces them to work together to defeat villains in their city.
But when the kids grow up, they must grapple with the implications of their powers. One of the siblings accidentally gets trapped in the future and eventually returns to the past to bring the team back together and prevent the apocalypse. This show is complex and filled with interesting characters, making this a must-watch for any sci-fi lovers.

8. Outlander (2014-)

Scene from Outlander
Photo Credit: Starz Entertainment.
While this show tends to get darker and more serious than the others on the list, there are plenty of light and heartwarming moments. When a young World War II nurse from Britain visits some ruins on a trip to Scotland, she mysteriously travels back to 1743. There, she joins a Scottish family fighting for their freedom against the British. Will her attempts to return to her timeline come to fruition, or will she be stuck in the past forever?

9. Sliders (1995-2000)

Scene from Sliders
Photo Credit: Universal Television.
This exciting show follows a group of people who slide between parallel universes using a futuristic portal device. However, when the device malfunctions, they become trapped in a cycle that they hope will one day lead them home to their home universe.
The group must hop through a portal into a new alternate universe every time the timer runs out, giving them a time limit on how long they can stay. They will be trapped in a strange world for decades if they don’t make it.

10. Life on Mars (2006-2007)

Scene from Life on Mars
Photo Credit: BBC Studios.
When a police officer in 2006 gets hit by a car, he wakes up in 1973 to find that he is still a police officer but in a lower-ranking position.
As the policeman grapples with his newfound reality, viewers wonder whether he truly traveled back in time or if this is all a dream state induced by a coma.

11. About Time (2013)

Photo Credit: Translux.

Imagine if you could time travel and nobody knew? And then imagine if you had to choose between preventing a tragedy in the past, and keeping the people and relationships you currently have? This is the dilemma that Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) faces this this romantic, comedic, and stirring movie, About Time.

12. Back to the Future (1985)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

In some movies and shows about time, it’s important not to touch specific events, or you could mess everything up. In others, the most important thing is actually to change something, so that by changing the past, you can make your present better. In Back to the Future, that’s only a small part of the takeaway; the rest is a fun, exciting trip back to the years Marty McFly’s parents were his age, the struggle of getting back to the future, and making sure his high-school mom doesn’t fall in love with him!

13. Groundhog Day (1993)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

In Groundhog Day, everyone in the town of Punxsutawney gets trapped in a time-loop, reliving the same day over and over. And only one person knows it. Phil Connors (Bill Murray) realizes he’s the only one who knows that no matter what happens to them during the day, he and everyone else will wake up the next day exactly where they did that morning and relive the same day over again. So Phil spirals into making every kind of choice imaginable over the course of the day, and the days that follow.

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14. The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

Welcome to time travel without rhyme or reason. There are only two rules: Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana) can only travel within his own or his wife’s timeline, it’s uncontrollable, and he always leave his clothes behind. While that may sound comedic, and it does lend itself to laughter, the movie is ultimately a tragedy. The movie follows his wife as she grows up, meets her husband, and falls in love. Their timelines are mixed up, but nothing can keep them apart, until time travel suddenly becomes dangerous.

15. Loki (2021-2023)

Photo Credit: Marvel Studio.

The TV show Loki is so anchored on the idea of time that the title sequence has a tick-tock soundtrack. This movie will bend your mind with its ideas of time, and what time is made of, alternate universes, and whether there’s an end of time somewhere. Not to mention it features one of our favorite villains from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. All in all, if you’re looking for a twist-and-turn sequence of ideas of time, this is a show to catch!

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16. The Butterfly Effect (2004)

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

This movie is about coping with loss and trauma as much as it is time travel. In The Butterfly Effect, Evan (Ashton Kutcher) realizes as a young adult that he can travel back in time to period of his childhood when he blacked out. His old childhood journals are the source of his ability to go back in time, and he continually returns to his childhood memories to try to lessen the tragedies that he and his friends experience. But when will it be enough, and when does the meddling only make things worse?

17. Predestination (2014)

Photo Credit: Screen Australia.

One of the questions that time travel films and shows must always answer is this: What happens when you run into your past or future self? In this movie, it’s explored in detail. The movie revolves around Jane, John, Jane’s baby, a bomber who must be stopped, and the Temporal Bureau agent who’s recruited John. All these people are connected, but how? And if what if Jane’s encounters with her past and future selves aren’t really by chance?

18. Somewhere in Time (1980)

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

Somewhere in Time follows Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) as he falls in love with a woman from fifty years ago. She visits him first as an old woman, and then he realizes he wants to go back to the years when she was young and spend their lives together. But all he has are a photograph of her and the pocket watch she gave him as an old woman. Is there any way to travel back to her youth? And if so, what will it take to make her fall in love?

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19. Midnight in Paris (2011)

Photo Credit: Mediapro.

Midnight in Paris begins with Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) in Paris with his bride-to-be and her family; as her and her family explore the luxury that Paris can afford the wealthy, Gil seeks out the haunts of old writers, from the ex-pats who enjoyed Paris in the roaring 20s. He begins to fall in love as he revisits the past every night at midnight, but the woman he falls in love with is herself wishing she’d lived in the past, in the gilded era before the war. Nothing beats time travel except for time travel in Paris, hobnobbing with the famous faces of the past!

20. Looper (2012)

Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures.

Just like PredestinationLooper asks the question of what happens when you encounter your older or younger self during time travel. Only this time, the time travelers are assassins, from a future where hiding victims is nearly impossible. They’re sent back in time to dispose of their victims in the past, when it was easier. But after years of this work, the assassins themselves must be sent back in time to mee their own fate and close the loop. But what if you reach that far and want to live?

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