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


(permanent link) added: 2012-05-09 05:39:52 sponsor: TwoGunAngel (last reply: 2012-05-28 23:33:12)

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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.
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