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10 Best Time Travel Movies and Shows

Time travel is by far one of the most popular subjects in science fiction and has almost always been found in the genre in books, movies, and TV shows. Below we’ve chosen the ten best movies or shows that used time travel as their basis.

Back to the Future

The Back to the Future trilogy is one of the most popular scifi series ever and for good reason. It combined time travel and science fiction with comedy and produced three of the most entertaining movies ever made. This year the first movie celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Quantum Leap

Watching Quantum Leap you’re struck by how they just don’t make shows like it anymore. Its strong moral tone of Sam leaping through time to fix wrongs hits a depth of science fiction storytelling not seen since the original Twilight Zone or Star Trek in the 60s. It’s a show that ended way to soon and should have ended better than it did.

Frequency

If you’ve ever seen Frequency, you owe yourself to check it out. Part Back to the Future, part Field of Dreams; it’s a unique and really good time travel story where a son is able to talk to his dead father over a radio and change the course of his own history.

Time After Time

One of the best time travel movies ever, and a very strong inspiration for Spielberg and Zemeckis when making Back to the Future. You’ll even see some things that Back to the Future lifted directly from the movie (compare H.G. Wells to Doc Brown when they each try to open their time machine). In the movie H.G. Wells chases Jack the Ripper to modern day San Francisco.

The Time Machine (1960)

Forget the bad remake. The 1960 George Pal Time Machine is the best. You get creepy Morlocks here. No super intelligent talking ones.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Vastly superior to its sequel, the original Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure has become something of a cult classic over the years. Despite Keanu being a big star now, we’d kill to see a third movie more along the lines of the first. SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES!

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

The most fun of all Trek films, by far. It’s a lighthearted romp after the serious life and death stories the previous movies dealt with. The mission to bring George and Gracie back to the 23rd Century is a classic scifi story that appeals to more than just Trek fans. “Hello, computer…”

Primer

You may not have seen Primer, but it’s worth tracking down. It was an extremely low budget time travel movie, with some unique ideas on how time travel could work.

Lost

Despite your feelings on how it ended, Lost was one of the better shows to deal with time travel. Most of the fourth and fifth seasons dealt with that as one of the major elements of the story.

Doctor Who

You can’t talk about time travel in scifi without mentioning the ol’ Time Lord himself.

45 Comments
  • coocoocaaahchoo!
    September 3, 2010
    Reply


    #1

    You forgot a few:

    Somewhere in Time, starring the late Christopher Reeve, 12 Monkeys, with Bruce Willis Brads Pitts, Madeleine Stowe & Christopher Plummer, Freejack, with Emilio(!) Estevez, The Langoliers, with Patricia Wettig & Dean Stockwell, The Philadelphia Experiment, with Michael & Pare Nancy Allen, and The Terminator, who went on to become the Governator,

  • Eldritch
    September 4, 2010
    Reply


    #2

    Ever heard of a guy called Donnie Darko?

    • thatguy
      September 5, 2010
      Reply


      #3

      Donnie Darko had nothing to do with time travel. It was about a tangent universe.

      • eaten by a grue
        September 5, 2010
        Reply


        #4

        A tangent universe made possible by time travel

  • Qedhup
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #5

    Hey, what about, “Frequently Asked Questions about Time Travel”

    • ololoshkin
      September 5, 2010
      Reply


      #6

      +1

    • phil
      September 6, 2010
      Reply


      #7

      Type your message here…Frequently Asked Questions about Time Travel

      Yes. Yes. Yes!!. Oh, YES!

  • FAQ
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #8

    +1 and then some

  • No Fneral
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #9

    ARMY OF DARKNESS with Bruce campbell!!!!!!

  • Tyler
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #10

    There’s a difference between a movie about time travel and a movie with time travel guys.

  • Jim
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #11

    Personal favorite – Time Bandits!

  • eaten by a grue
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #12

    Cronocrimenes

  • Vinterdekk
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #13

    I am so glad you included Bill and Ted and also Dr. Who. Still I find the Disney version of Scrooge (A christmas tale) to be missing.

  • Simon
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #14

    No 12 Monkeys, not a list.

    • Will
      September 5, 2010
      Reply


      #15

      Very much agree. It also makes my list of 1of the 3 most depressing movies ever.

  • AbsolutValu
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #16

    I think the best time-traveling movie I have ever seen is a little foreign movie called “Timecrimes”. If you are fan of time traveling movies, this one is a MUST.

  • Lakeshow
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #17

    Great underappreciated TV Show: Journeyman

  • forrest
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #18

    the time travelers wife is
    pretty good

  • JaySin420
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #19

    Fringe……I think traveling across dimensions is basically time traveling.

    • Will
      September 5, 2010
      Reply


      #20

      There is absolutely no question that is not true. They are different things.

  • neoanakinpotter
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #21

    SOOOOO glad to see Frequency got some love!!!

    • Will
      September 5, 2010
      Reply


      #22

      Happy for you then. More love than it will ever get from me.

  • John Horne
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #23

    +1 for Primer one of my favorite films. Ever.

  • Ant2206
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #24

    Bogus Journey was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than Excellent Adventure!

    Oh, and Primer’s really, really good. Everyone I’ve turned on to that film gets obsessed with it and starts researching time travel theory.

  • David
    September 5, 2010
    Reply


    #25

    TSCC is the best Time Travel show.

  • nick
    September 6, 2010
    Reply


    #26

    Missing ‘The Final Countdown’ – one of the best story lines. Also mentioned: Primer and Timecrimes are 2 of my favorites

  • Jeff W
    September 6, 2010
    Reply


    #27

    You missed two or three interesting but lesser known (which of course makes them not in the top 10). Journeyman (hulu.com) – great show, what does your family do if you start time traveling w/o any control over it and Daybreak (also hulu.com) a one season replacement for Lost – what if you’re framed for murder and you keep repeating the same day over and over unraveling the frame up only to find eveyone you know involved.

  • Jeff Koenig
    September 7, 2010
    Reply


    #28

    Alright, have to back up the suggestions of 12 Monkeys, Army of Darkness, and Time Bandits, and, just to get the web originals represented (even if it’s in honorable mention form), add The Webventures of Justin & Alden! http://www.clicker.com/web/the-webventures-of-justin-and-alden/

  • VancouverMoose
    September 10, 2010
    Reply


    #29

    “Back to the Future trilogy … produced three of the most entertaining movies ever made”

    Have you seen Back to the Future II and III? They sucked.

    Yes, the first movie remains awesome to this day. But they should have stopped after the first movie

  • World Top 10
    September 11, 2010
    Reply


    #30

    I like Los and Primer, Dr Who is also not bad movie.

  • Mr Anonymous
    September 15, 2010
    Reply


    #31

    Voyagers !

  • Sky Captain
    September 20, 2010
    Reply


    #32

    Good list this time.

  • will
    September 21, 2010
    Reply


    #33

    Season 4 of Eureka D:

  • keri
    October 15, 2010
    Reply


    #34

    There was a show way back(80s) yeah what ever that had a guy who traveled. He had a item that showed him when all was good by turning green and red if not. There was a boy that also helped him. Can’t think of name of show on tv. HELP!!!!!

  • keri
    October 15, 2010
    Reply


    #35

    Voyagers!!!!! Found it on you tube. Gotta love that site. Might help some of you find that show your looking for.

  • Paul Yarl
    February 22, 2011
    Reply


    #36

    Let’s not forget “Meet The Robinsons” by Disney

  • Octoscorpion
    March 20, 2011
    Reply


    #37

    Donnie Darko was about divine intervention. the list could have paradoxically included primer only and i’d be completely satisfied.

  • Paul Levinson
    March 22, 2011
    Reply


    #38

    Not worthy of top 10, but maybe honorable mention – The Chronology Protection Case http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrRiFZ9rGtg



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