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Film: Time Cop
They killed his wife ten years ago... there's still time to save her.
Turn back the clock, and you're history.
— Tagline

Timecop is a 1994 movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as Max Walker, a (wait for it) Time Cop who has to go back in time to prevent other people from going back in time and messing up history. Mia Sara was cast as his wife Melissa, who dies in the opening act, resulting in Walker's zealotry in his job:

"If I cannot go back to save her... this scumbag is not going back to steal money!"

At no point in the movie are there any legitimate reasons for time travel, implying that the only reason for time travel is to prevent other people from using time travel. This is actually a plot point. Butterfly of Doom means that attempting to Set Right What Once Went Wrong would have disastrous side effects, so about the least dangerous thing you can do with it is either go back and steal things with advanced technology or make investments in the past that you can cash in on in the present. And even this is risking some bizarre accident that could kill billions. So aside from the highly risky (and unprofitable) archaeological possibilities, the technology has no productive use, resulting in the titular Cops. One politician even suggests that they simply re-invest the program's funding into tougher regulations on the technology — but he's really only interested in stopping Walker's interference in his own time travel shenanigans.

The film was a modest box office hit, earning $101,646,581 in the worldwide market. With about 45 million earned it the United States market, it was its 30th most successful film that year. It had a short-lived spin off show, Timecop: The Series, which featured a brand new cast and lasted for one season of nine episodes. There was also a direct-to-DVD sequel Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision (2003), taking place 20 years following the original.


Timecop provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Amnesiac Lover
  • Artistic License - Biology + Artistic License - Nuclear Physics: Apparently you can carbon-date gold bars.
    • Even if you could, carbon dating isn't as precise as it's depicted in the movie. And even if it was, if the gold was brought through time it wouldn't have measurably aged.
      • Both could theoretically be explained (at least somewhat better) by the simple idea that they didn't bring it back with them, just hid it somewhere and then dug it up in the present. Probably much cheaper re: energy expenditure, and also might leave other trace on or around the gold that could be dated.
    • A more valid method of asserting the authenticity of the gold would have been to examine whether the impurities in the metal and the casting marks match the time and place.
  • Artistic License - Biology + Artistic License - Physics: another egregious scientific error has to do with the claim that "the same matter cannot occupy the same space at the same time". Technically, of course, this is true, they physically can't. If you touch yourself in the past, like if you touch any object, the atoms in your body and your other body will actually occupy the space next to each other. And also there's Pauli's exclusion principle which states that two identical fermions (what matter is made up of) cannot occupy the same quantum state simultaneously. But in the film, what this apparently means is "if you touch yourself in the past, your body will melt into a revolting mass". But this can't happen in reality, since the same matter is always going to occupy a different space anyway. And, of course, the body replaces much of the matter that it contains, such that two versions of someone from ten years apart will not have much of the same matter in their body anyway.
  • Automated Automobiles: Voice-activated. In 2004! See Zeerust below.
  • Beard of Evil: McComb has got one.
  • Beard of Sorrow: While '94 Max is clean-shaven, the Max of 2004 who's lost Melissa has notable Perma Stubble.
  • Compound Interest Time Travel Gambit: temporal criminals try to buy Wall Street stock on the day of the crash, and Hollywood land when it's worth only a few cents.
  • Corrupt Politician: McComb.
  • Dartboard of Hate: Senator McComb's picture is stuck to a dartboard and is quickly turned around when he drops by for a visit.
  • Driven to Suicide: Max's ex-partner, Lyle, tries to jump out of a window on the reasoning that if he dies, McComb won't erase him from history.
    Lyle: He'll send back someone to kill my grandparents. It'll be like I never existed! My entire family! My parents, my wife, my kids! Hell, even my fucking cat!
    • It's also one of the few cases in which the subject knows that the Mob Boss will keep his word - If he'd testified, then erasing him would solve the entire problem at a loss, but if he kills himself, the boss will let his history remain intact so as to not erase his contributions to the organization.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Fielding pulls one out before she jumps for the first time.
  • Future Me Scares Me: The villain of the second movie scares his past self. So much that he may change his future.
  • Heel Face Door Slam: After Fielding is betrayed by McComb, she agrees to testify his crimes to Walker, only to be immediately murdered in her hospital bed.
  • Herr Doktor: The inventor of the time machine is a "Doctor Hans Kleindast", a "Nobel Laureate who helped us during the space program."
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: The Mr. Exposition in the Senate hearing explicitly said it would be a bad idea to go back and kill Hitler, much as he'd personally like to.
    • The second movie begins with the villain attempting to kill Hitler.
  • I Hate Past Me: McComb really doesn't like his past self.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Future Walker stops the purse snatcher from doing so like he did in the original timeline.
  • Karmic Death: The criminal buying Wall Street stock makes a joke about a stockbroker who threw himself out the window just before he arrived. After being caught and sentenced to death, he's sent back in time to Wall Street — in mid-air, several hundred feet up.
    • McComb insults Walker with a snide comment about the agent's "fancy kicking". Walker kills him in the climax by kicking 1994 McComb into his older self.
  • Made of Explodium: One small brick of C4 should not make his entire large house explode in such a huge fire ball.
    • It is in a shiny futuristic silver case. Maybe it's tightly compressed making it a much larger amount of C4 than would normally be contained in it.
  • The Mob Boss Is Scarier: Early in the film, Walker's ex-partner who has started working for McComb refuses to testify against McComb. After all, the worst the police can do is execute him. McComb can make him and his whole family Ret Gone... along with all the money he earned for McComb. Suicide by Cop is thus a very rational alternative.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: The rule is that "two instances of the same matter cannot occupy the same space". So if lets say two different time-displaced counterparts of the same person (such as a Past Self and Future Self) do meet (or more specifically, touch), they end up canceling each other out. By that we mean they fuse into a giant gushing fluid mass of body parts that dissolves out of existence in a matter of seconds.
    • Its a blatant violation of the laws of conservation of mass and energy, but hey, it could be worse.
    • In the sequel, however, this does not cause the person in question to melt out of existence, but results in them fusing into straight-up Body Horror.
  • No OSHA Compliance: A large number of clearly marked flammable barrels are ignited, yet no audible smoke or fire alarms go off. When emergency serives arrives, it's the police with guns drawn, not the fire department.
  • Not So Different: McComb attempts to invoke this on Walker in the climax, but Walker points out that unlike McComb, he was trying to set the timeline right.
  • Recycled: The Series
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong
  • Spiritual Successor: The 2012 sci-fi film Looper is basically a remake of this film.
  • Technology Marches On: When he's back in the 1920s, Max's ex-partner — who comes from the early years of the twenty-first century — listens to a portable music player. However, since the movie was made in 1994, it's a CD Walkman. Apparently, he never got around to updating to an iPod.
  • Temporal Paradox: Averted, changing the past makes a new present, but doesn't change you, thus if you went back and time and killed your father, you'd come back to find that you never existed, but you'd be fine.
    • You can still receive new scars from injuries suffered by your younger self, though, as McComb learned when his younger self suffered a nasty cut on his cheek.
  • Terminator Twosome: The Timecop's main job is to form half of one.
  • Time Is Dangerous: The Timecop's method of time travel requires extremely high speed when they pass through the time travel field. There was one failure that just left two red spots on a heavy steel wall, which could have simply been averted by building a runway twice longer with runway brakes on the second half.
    • The sequel uses a different method which can cause the time traveler to disintegrate upon departure, which is increasingly more probable if the same person goes through it repeatedly within a short period of time (from his/her point of view).
  • Time Machine: Timecop Type, a giant sled shoots you back into the past, but you arrive with out said machine, you have a remote control that will get you back to the sled.
  • Time Police
  • Time Travel
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: You can't travel into the future because it hasn't happened yet, but you can return to the present from the past.
    • The sequel plays with time travel much more than the first one. In the end, it is implied that all the preceding events of the movie never happened because the villain accidentally changed his own past.
  • Unscientific Science: The premise that you daren't come into contact with your past self because "the same matter cannot occupy the same space at the same time" is absurd. All the atoms in our bodies are replaced on a regular basis. In other words, not one single atom present in your body today was there five years ago. So what's causing the violation then?
  • You Have Failed Me: Apparently, the reason why Atwood was trying to take advantage of the Stock Market Crash was because McComb threatened to kill his ancestors if he didn't or failed to do so.
  • Zeerust: Remember back in 2004, when we all had those self-driving, voice-activated cars that looked like this spaceships? Good times, good times. We also evidently had some sort of cartridge music player instead of tapes or CDs. Widescreen TVs a few years early, too!


Time ChasersFilms of the 1990sTrading Mom

alternative title(s): Time Cop
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