Created By: Bisected8 on February 28, 2012 Last Edited By: Bisected8 on September 9, 2012
Troped

Almighty Tour Guide

Launching in 1 hour as Weirdness Search And Rescue

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Trope
Some heroes have the misfortune of ending up in a strange place: maybe in the past, or in a world where they never existed or (if they're really unlucky) a world where they're a completely different person (and their best friend hates their guts, while the villains have them under their thumb). From the narrative's point of view, what The Hero's predicament is usually important to them. However their own conflict might mean a lot less in the bigger picture. Luckily, people who are thrown back in time or Trapped in Another World will find a member of the Time Police, another traveller (usually one who volunteered) or even a god who'll help them get safely home. This invokes a bit of Fridge Logic, as anyone who can help them has to be extremely powerful (being capable of doing so of their own free will) and is usually implied to have more important things to worry about than one displaced peon (assuming that as much one person out of place isn't considered a serious problem, of course).

When dealing with authority figures it can be justified (after all, the ruler of a country still has some responsibility to all their subjects and the police are supposed to serve the public, why should the ruler of a multiverse or the Time Police be any different?) as well as heroes (a good hero will often take time out from their quest to help the needy, time travellers should be no exception) however when gods or other higher beings involved it can invoke a bit of Fridge Logic (although they might have their reasons). The helper in question might not actually be that more powerful than the protagonist, but have a job dealing with much more important problems.

Places the protagonist could end up with this sort of help in can include;

This can often be a type of Big Good. If Time Travel is involved you can expect them to be a member of the Time Police. This sort of character may overlap with Mr. Exposition.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In Sailor Moon Sailor Pluto is the Soldier of Space-Time and is described as "a goddess, eternally guarding the Portal of Space and Time". Chibi-usa finds her at the gates of time while attemping to go back to the future. Subverted at first, considering she has specific orders NOT to open the gates, but she helps anyway.

Fan Fic

Film
  • The guy in Hot Tub Time Machine who fixes the hot tub and acts like he knows about time travel. However, he doesn't tell them about the time travel.
  • Pleasantville had the TV Repairman, who instigated the Trapped in TV Land plot, and then ineffectually tried to stop the fallout from it.

Literature
  • In Night Watch, Lu-Tze helps Sam Vimes after he's sent back in time (even as much as telling the other Time Monks he just feels like helping him out) even though they're pretty busy fixing the world's Continuity Snarls.
  • In Inferno, the living poet Dante is given a free pass into and out of Hell to report on what he sees there, and is given the soul of Roman poet and satirist Virgil (a man who was in hell because he had the misfortune to live and die before the mission of Christ), as his tour guide.
  • The Three Bald Doctors in Stephen King's Insomnia. Two of them, Clothos and Lachesis, were benevolent; the third, Atropos, was decidedly not.
  • In Warrior Cats, when Jayfeather is trapped in the past with the Ancients, the mysterious cat Rock shows up to take him back to his time period. This happens twice.

Live Action Television
  • In the short "A Matter of Minutes" from the second incarnation of The Twilight Zone, the foreman of a group of people (played by Adolph Caesar) takes time to explain to a couple who ended up 'outside time' how time really worked, even showing them an animated computer graphic prepared for such an event.
  • In Quantum Leap it was implied that some conscious force (possibly even God) was guiding Sam' jumps to ensure that he did the most good. This was a deconstruction since this mysterious guide was never actually seen or had a voice (although they met someone who might have been them). It only made itself known by directing events like an actual deity would and, of course, when it did more or less directly interact with the main character, it was a total Mind Screw.
  • When Lois and Clark started having story arcs involving time travel and alternate universes, none other than H.G. Wells himself arrives to advise the heroes.
    • An episode involving virtual reality has Jimmy Olsen advise Superman on how to catch the bad guys in the virtual world.
  • In Doctor Who this is The Doctor's entire raison d'etre. He travels through time and space in the TARDIS Setting Right What Once Went Wrong and serving as a sort of Time Policeman.
  • In the Eerie Indiana episode "The Lost Hour" the old Milkman saves Marshal from The Garbage Men. He implies that he's an older version of him.

Video Game
  • Rachel Alucard from BlazBlue helps Makoto get back to the "main" timeline (after being trapped in one of the many timelines where Noel never existed) simply because she had "moxie" in Story Mode.
  • When the group in Chrono Trigger first winds up at the End of Time, an old man there actually the guru Gaspar gives a basic explanation of the time travel system and latter keeps track of what you are supposed to do. Conveniently, this is the first time the party has a chance to time travel freely, rather than being pushed into the gates by outside events.
  • A Time Travel focused Carmen Sandiego game had these.
  • Teddie is set up to fill this role in Persona 4 but he's just as clueless as everyone else as to what's going on. Still, he does lead the group to the people inside the TV until Rise takes over the job.

Western Animation
  • Dungeons & Dragons would have Dungeon Master pop in Once an Episode to dispense advice to the characters lost from our world.
  • Rufus gave Bill & Ted the time machine, showed them how to use it, and tended to turn up for advice when the boys found themselves in trouble. He was from the future of prosperity, peace, and excellence that they ushered in, and had a vested interest in helping them because without them his future would not exist.
  • Miss Information from Histeria! would guide people through historic events and describe them, usually getting some details hilariously wrong and needing to be corrected.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) (as well as the comic) there's a character called Lord Simultaneous who holds the time scepter and generally manages time with his incompetent assistant Rene. He's even voiced like a New York tour guide, and has been key to helping our heroes out of time displacement related predicaments more than once (to the point of Deus ex Machina). Read more here.

Community Feedback Replies: 68
  • February 29, 2012
    Bisected8
    No thoughts?
  • February 29, 2012
    Alvin
    All I can think of is this episode of the second incarnation of "The Twilight Zone' where the foreman of a group of people takes time out to explain to a couple who ended up 'outside time' how time really worked, even showing an animated computer graphic prepared for such an event.
  • February 29, 2012
    Ninjat126
    There's a guy in Hot Tub Time Machine that fixes the hot tub and acts like he knows about time travel. However, he doesn't tell them about the time travel.
  • February 29, 2012
    Alvin
    Alvin again- the episode of the second 'Twilight Zone' was (looked for it on imdb) the third part of 'Monsters!/A Small Talent for War/A Matter of Minutes'' which originally aired on Jan. 24, 1986. The foreman was played by Adolph Caesar.
  • February 29, 2012
    deuxhero
    When the group in Chrono Trigger first winds up at the End of Time, an old man there actually the guru Gaspar gives a basic explanation of the time travel system and latter keeps track of what you are supposed to do. Conveniently, this is the first time the party has a chance to time travel freely, rather than being pushed into the gates by outside events..
  • March 1, 2012
    ArtyMorty
    You mean somebody like Clarence from Its A Wonderful Life or Al from Quantum Leap?
  • March 1, 2012
    Bisected8
    Sort of. Basically they're helping the person who got trapped (Al doesn't really count because he's more of an assistant and doesn't know much more than Sam). Clarence is a borderline case, since he's the one who put George in the alternative universe in the first place.
  • March 5, 2012
    fulltimeD
    I wonder if "God" or whatever the mysterious force was that kept jumping Sam around in Quantum Leap could count as a five-season long Deconstruction of this trope?
  • March 5, 2012
    Bisected8
    Hmm, I forgot about that aspect of the series. Where does the deconstruction come in though?
  • March 7, 2012
    fulltimeD
    This mysterious guide was never actually seen or had a voice; the characters had to really work to understand its intentions; it only made itself known by directing events like an actual deity would; and of course, when it did more or less directly interact with the main character, it was a total Mind Screw. Sounds like a deconstruction to me.
  • March 7, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • Rufus from the Bill and Ted movies.
  • March 7, 2012
    Bisected8
    ^^ Point made.

    ^ Could you elaborate, Paradisca Corbasi?
  • March 8, 2012
    surgoshan
    • In Time Scout, time travel is big business, so there's both Time Guides and Time Police. The former are there to make your vacation pleasantly non-fatal, the latter to keep you from profiteering.
  • March 8, 2012
    Bisected8
    ^ Not quite an example. This trope requires that the person being helped is trapped somewhere, not just engaging in Casual Time Travel. It's not limited to Time Travel either.

    I've changed the title to make this clearer.
  • March 9, 2012
    BackwardThgindiM
    I like the name.
  • March 9, 2012
    AgProv
    Classic Literature:- Alighieri Dante was escorted round the seven circles of Hell by Roman poet and satirist Virgil (a man who because he had the misfortune to live and die before the mission of Christ, therefore had to go to Hell on his demise regardless of his personal worth as a human being. Dante saw this problem with Christianity in the 1300's..) In the Inferno, the living poet Dante is given a free pass into and out of Hell to report on what he sees there, and is given the soul of Virgil, a Roman poet over a thousand years dead, as his tour guide.
  • March 10, 2012
    Duncan
    Dungeons And Dragons would have Dungeon Master pop in Once An Episode to dispense advice to the characters lost from our world.
  • March 10, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    Rufus gave Bill and Ted the time machine, showed them how to use it, and tended to turn up for advice when the boys found themselves in trouble. He was from the future of prosperity, peace, and excellence that they ushered in, and had a vested interest in helping them because without them his future would not exist.
  • March 10, 2012
    cygnavamp
    Miss Information from Histeria would guide people through historic events and describe them, usually getting some details hilariously wrong and needing to be corrected. Her catch phrase was "And we're walking, and walking, and still walking...." or, if the situation called for it "And we're running and running and still running...."
  • March 10, 2012
    Perzyn
    How abbout The Rabbi from Lucky Number Slevin?
  • March 10, 2012
    Bisected8
    ^ What does he do, exactly?
  • March 11, 2012
    Duncan
    Pleasantville had the TV Repairman, who instigated the Trapped In TV Land plot, and then ineffectually tried to stop the fallout from it.
  • March 12, 2012
    HaggisMcCrablice
    The Three Bald Doctors in Stephen King's Insomnia. Two of them, Clothos and Lachesis, were benevolent; the third, Atropos, was decidedly not.

    Actually, since they were named after the Three Fates in ancient Greek mythology, this may qualify as an "Older Than" Trope.
  • March 12, 2012
    GuyIncog
    Live Action TV:
    • When Lois And Clark started having story arcs involving time travel and alternate universes, none other than H.G. Wells himself arrives to advise the heroes.
      • An episode involving virtual reality has Jimmy Olsen advise Superman on how to catch the bad guys in the virtual world.
  • March 12, 2012
    Bisected8
    @Haggis Mc Crablice: From what I know of Greek mythology, the Fates don't count as this trope...
  • March 14, 2012
    Bisected8
    I've added the Better Name tag, since I'm not sure about the one I created it with.
  • April 4, 2012
    sigh824
    Anime: Sailor Pluto of, well, you know.
  • April 5, 2012
    Bisected8
    ...my memories of watching Sailor Moon are a bit fuzzy. Could you elaborate?
  • April 5, 2012
    sigh824
    oh, eheh um...Sailor Pluto is the Soldier of Space-Time and is described as "a goddess, eternally guarding the Portal of Space and Time" acoording to The Other Wiki. Chibi-usa finds her at the gates of time, while attemping to go back to the future. Subverted at first, considering she specific orders NOT to open the gates, but she helps anyway.
  • April 5, 2012
    Bisected8
    Thanks.
  • August 4, 2012
    nitrokitty
    May overlap with Mr Exposition.
  • August 4, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    In the Quantum Leap example, Sam and Al did eventually meet someone who quite likely was the Mysterious Backer in question (nitpick).
  • August 4, 2012
    Bisected8
    Added a note on both of the above comments.
  • August 5, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Would Ebony's encounter in the past with Marty Mc Fly in My Immortal count?
  • August 5, 2012
    Bisected8
    Could you elaborate?
  • August 5, 2012
    morenohijazo
    OK, I can't find the exact passage, but if I remember well, Ebony was trapped in the past, Marty appears out of nowhere in his De Lorean, and helps Ebony to go back to her time.
  • August 5, 2012
    Bisected8
    That sounds like this trope (insofar as MI would be an example of any trope). I'll put it in.
  • August 8, 2012
    Duncan
    In Night Watch, Lu-Tze, one of the History Monks, helps Vimes when he goes back in time.
  • August 8, 2012
    Bisected8
    We already have that one, but thanks anyway.
  • August 8, 2012
    Lightflame
    I'll show all the formatting in my example so that you can just copy and paste it to your draft.

    In Warrior Cats, when Jayfeather is trapped in the past with the Ancients, the mysterious cat Rock shows up to take him back to his time period. This happens twice.
  • August 8, 2012
    Bisected8
    There's no need to do that (you can see the source code for a YKTTW comment by clicking on the edit button), but thanks for the example.
  • August 8, 2012
    Lightflame
    Okay, thanks for telling me. (And thanks for giving me an opportunity to get in another example of a work I like.)
  • August 14, 2012
    Bisected8
    Well, this seems to have accumulated 5 hats. Does anyone have anything to add? Problems with the description or title, suggestions for a page quote/image or such?
  • August 17, 2012
    Bisected8
    Launching on Saturday night.
  • August 18, 2012
    Avurai
    I read the title and the description and feel a discrepancy.

    "Tour Guide" gives the impression that you're being led to a place you've never been to before by a knowledgable person, possibly one able to protect you. The title itself gives me the impression of Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus, or The Doctor from Doctor Who.

    Maybe another job description would be more fitting. Or "Almighty Escape-Rope Seller"
  • August 18, 2012
    Bisected8
    Hmm, any suggestions?
  • August 21, 2012
    Bisected8
    Any suggestions for a better name at all?
  • August 25, 2012
    agentjohnbishop
    Some possible names: Time Travel-Agent, Extradimensional Escort, or Dimensional Docent. I will keep thinking because these are not great.

    Also, I have a possible example. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 (and the comic I think) there's a character called Lord Simultaneous who holds the time scepter and generally manages time with his incompetent assistant Rene. Anyhow, he actually is voiced like a new york tour guide, and has been key to helping our heroes out of time predicaments more than once (to the point of Deus Ex Machina). Read more here.
  • August 25, 2012
    Bisected8
    Well they sound OK, the main problem is that they limit it to time travel or other dimensions. Something similar which included all the potential "places" to be stranded would be great (like Weirdness Rescuer but better sounding).
  • August 25, 2012
    agentjohnbishop
    OK, Omnipresent Overseer? That's not perfect either, this is difficult. Cosmic Controller? Ooh, I know I'm too obsessed with Added Alliterative Appeal but I really love Potentiality Proctor.
  • August 27, 2012
    Bisected8
    Well Overseer and Controller imply that they're staying back without intervening directly....
  • August 27, 2012
    Avuai
    Omniscient Taxi Service/Transport System?

    ... Sentient Wormhole Generator?

    Seller of Ruby Slippers?
  • August 27, 2012
    Bisected8
    Hmm, well they aren't always omniscient (as the description says, they can be equally as powerful as the protagonist, just more well informed).

    I like Seller Of Ruby Slippers, but they don't have to sell them. Some varient might work if the reference is well known enough not to fall foul of Trope Namer Syndrome though.
  • August 28, 2012
    Euodiachloris
    Spacial Temporal Mechanic? A spin on the infamous Star Trek Negative Space Wedgie mixed with a breakdown service? Tow-hitch optional. ;)
  • August 29, 2012
    Bisected8
    That makes me think of some sort of engineer who specialises in Applied Phlebotinum and Techno Babble....
  • August 31, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Spacial Temporal Helper.
  • September 1, 2012
    Bisected8
    The problem there is that the "Spacial Temporal" part doesn't really indicate wha the trope means. In fact it doesn't mean any thing (although Spatial Temporal does, but it has absolutely nothing to do with this trope; it describes types of data and is usually used in terms of memory and cognition).
  • September 1, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    How about, rather literally, Doctor Who.

    The Doctor travels through time in a Police telephone box. He did a great job in episode 'Blink', and that's generally half the story-lines.
  • September 1, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    Oh, I mean as an example, not a name. But, the trope sort of relates to Doctor Who in a trope-namer -y kind of way. Perhaps something to do with Doctor who then? Or the TARDIS? Like 'Driver of the TARDIS' or, wait, I like the Almighty Space-time Doctor/Policeman thing. And remember, the Doctor can rewrite time. 'Rewriter of Time'? 'Almighty Tour Guide' is pretty good, though. When this becomes a trope, I'll be sure to add it to the 'Doctor Who' page with explanation of virtually every episode.
  • September 1, 2012
    Bisected8
    I've added Dr Who (how did I forget it?), but it's probably best to avoid Trope Namer Syndrome in the title.
  • September 3, 2012
    BlueGuy
    I think there was at least one tour guide of this type in that time-focused Carmen Sandiego game.
  • September 5, 2012
    Bisected8
  • September 6, 2012
    noona
    I wonder if Teddie from Persona 4 would be considered this.
  • September 7, 2012
    Bisected8
    Could you elaborate?

    Also, since nobody's commented on this, I'll launch this as Weirdness Search And Rescue this weekend, if there aren't any complaints?
  • September 8, 2012
    Bisected8
    Launching tomorrow...
  • September 8, 2012
    nitrokitty
    Teddie might be a subversion, since he's set up to fill this role but he's just as clueless as everyone else as to what's going on. Still, he does lead the group to the people inside the TV until Rise takes over the job.
  • September 9, 2012
    Bisected8
    Sounds about right.

    Launching this afternoon.
  • September 9, 2012
    Bisected8
    One more hour and I'm launching this as Weirdness Search And Rescue.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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