Created By: TwoGunAngel on May 9, 2012 Last Edited By: TwoGunAngel on May 28, 2012

Quantum Odyssey Plot

A character travels through many worlds with the ultimate goal of getting home.

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Page Type:
Trope
Needs a Better Title, Do We Have This

This plot revolves around one character or group of characters, who, through some form of Applied Phlebotinum, find themselves being transported to different places, be they worlds, Alternate Dimensions, different points in time, or what have you. Most often, the change in worlds occurs once an arc, but sometimes the change occurs Once an Episode, as with Sliders and Quantum Leap. But ultimately, the main goal of the protagonists is to get back to their own world, time or dimension.

A series that uses this plot will often have an Adventure Towns format for most of its major episodes or arcs. After the protagonist or protagonists right the wrong of the particular locale they've found themselves in or find some way to escape, they will use whatever phlebotinum is bringing them to these locales to get out of there, hoping that this time, it will lead back home -- but all too often, the phlebotinum will instead dump them into a new area in order to repeat the process. A series that uses this as its primary Myth Arc plot is very prone to Failure Is the Only Option, because if the protagonist or protagonists ever actually got back home, the series would likely end.

See also The Homeward Journey and Adventure Towns. An Interdimensional Travel Device is often involved.

Examples:

Fanfiction

Literature
  • Robert Sheckley's 1968 novel Dimension of Miracles has New Yorker Tom Carmody, winner of the Galactic Lottery due to a computer error, traveling from alternate Earth to alternate Earth while trying to avoid the predatory entity that spawns upon each Earth he goes into to destroy him.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice. Alex Hergensheimer and his girlfriend Margrethe spend most of the book being sent from one Alternate Reality to another, usually at an inconvenient time. Alex just wants to get back to his home reality and stay there.

Live-Action TV
  • Quantum Leap is the partial Trope Namer. The protagonist is Sam Beckett, a scientist who became "lost in time" after a time travel experiment went awry. He goes from point in time to point in time in different bodies, trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, but ultimately, his goal is to get back home. The show ran for five seasons, but ultimately, Sam never did make it back to his home time.
  • Sliders focuses on a group of travelers who use a wormhole to "slide" between different parallel universes. The piece of phlebotinum that the Sliders use will only allow them to remain in a particular universe for so long, and if they do not slide out of the universe before the timer hits zero, they'll be stranded in that universe for 29.7 years. Much like Quantum Leap, the Sliders' primary goal was to get back home, though as the cast changed later on, characters from alternate earths got added into the mix, which rather complicated things.
  • The Time Tunnel. The protagonists find themselves sent from place to place and time to time in history, and no matter what they do, they cannot change anything. Meanwhile, in the Future... the operators of the Tunnel are trying to get them back home.
  • The Fantastic Journey. A family is stranded on a strange island in the Bermuda Triangle. The island is split up into time zones, each with people from different periods in history and even other planets. The group must travel from one time zone to another through portals to find their way home.

Let's Play
  • Naka Teleeli's Minecraft: Journey Home is shaping up to be one of these plots. Since the defeat of the Enderdragon in the original Minecraft Survival series, Naka has gone through roughly three different Minecraft mods so far, which in the ongoing narrative take the form of different worlds that he goes through in his ongoing quest to get back home. His only guide as to where to go next is the golden compass that he always carries with him.

Video Games
  • Heretic's expansion pack, Shadow of the Serpent Riders, seems to have trapped Corvus in one of these plots, as instead of traveling back to his own dimension upon killing D'Sparil, the portals have seen fit to drop him in more worlds with horrible monsters to slay.
  • Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds has the Avatar escape from the Guardian's trap into another world and make his way back to Britannia by extensive dimension-hopping.

Western Animation
  • The final season of The Smurfs had the main Smurfs sent through time and travelling from one time period to another to find their way home.
  • This happens in an episode of Family Guy: Stewie builds a dimensional device reminiscent of Sliders, and when it goes awry, he and Brian start dimension-hopping, trying to figure out how to get back to their own dimension.
Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • May 9, 2012
    Queequeg
    This is so evocative of The Odyssey that I'm surprised if there isn't a trope for this already. If not, it should be called an Odyssey or something similar, as that is such a standard example of this kind of story.
  • May 9, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    The main trope for Odyssey style stories is The Homeward Journey. This is primarily a subtrope of that.
  • May 9, 2012
    Koveras
    • Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds has the Avatar escape from the Guardian's trap into another world and make his way back to Britannia by extensive dimension-hopping.
  • May 9, 2012
    animeg3282
    This one is that they go home using phebotium. It's a good idea for a trope, but I can't think of any examples. Sadly, you may need to change the name.
  • May 9, 2012
    arromdee
  • May 9, 2012
    randomsurfer
    The Time Tunnel. Protagonists find themselves sent from place to place & time to time in history, and no matter what they do they can't change anything. Meanwhile In The Future the operators of the Tunnel are trying to get them back home.
  • May 9, 2012
    TonyG
    The final season of The Smurfs had the main Smurfs sent through time and travelling from one time period to another to find their way home.
  • May 9, 2012
    Omeganian
    Dimension of Miracles by Robert Sheckley.
  • May 9, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    I'm thinking of calling this one Quantum Odyssey or Quantum Odyssey Plot. Do any of you have any other name suggestions?
  • May 9, 2012
    animeg3282
    The 2nd is the best.
  • May 10, 2012
    Arivne
    Literature
    • Robert Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice. Alex Hergensheimer and his girlfriend Margrethe spend most of the book being sent from one Alternate Reality to another, usually at an inconvenient time. Alex just wants to get back to his home reality and stay there.
  • May 10, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Sliders featured a group of interdimensional travelers trying to get back to "Earth Prime" (or rather, their various "Earth Primes," as the cast changed to include characters who came from alternate Earths.
  • May 10, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    Already got Sliders on there, though the thing about characters from alternate earths got added to the main Sliders example.
  • May 10, 2012
    peccantis
    Why Quantum Odyssey Plot and not just Odyssey Plot?
  • May 10, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    Because we already have The Homeward Journey for the latter, and I wanted to keep some element of the former Trope Namer in this.
  • May 12, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    Bumping this one last time for examples.
  • May 12, 2012
    JonnyB
    Uaually some sort of Interdimensional Travel Device is involved.

    This happens in an episode of Family Guy: Stewie builds a dimensional device reminiscent of Sliders, and when it goes awry, he and Brian start dimension-hopping, trying to figure out how to get back to their own dimension.
  • May 12, 2012
    Kayube
    Kamen Rider Decade has some elements of this. (I haven't watched much of it so I might need more information to say which characters are actually trying to get to a "home" world and which ones have different goals.)
  • May 13, 2012
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
    • The Fantastic Journey. A family is stranded on a strange island in the Bermuda Triangle. The island is split up into time zones, each with people from different periods in history and even other planets. The group must travel from one time zone to another through portals to find their way home.
  • May 13, 2012
    SKJAM
    The Dumarest of Terra book series--in a future where interstellar travel is common but expensive, young Dumarest shipped out from his native Earth to see the universe. When he decides he wants to go back for a visit, no one around him has ever heard of this Terra place, and he must wander from exotic world to dangerous exotic world looking for clues.
  • May 14, 2012
    BrentLaabs
  • May 14, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Do we need the "Quantum" bit in the name?
  • May 14, 2012
    BrentLaabs
    ^ Yes, or it would be the essentially identical to The Homeward Journey.
  • May 28, 2012
    BrentLaabs
    Oh, btw, this belongs on the indexes: Speculative Fiction Tropes and Plots.
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