Spock: You are assuming that Nero knows how events are predicted to unfold. The contrary: Nero's very presence has altered the flow of history...thereby creating an entire new chain of incidents that cannot be anticipated by either party.A specific type of Alternate Continuity in which the two continuities diverged off from a previous installment in the franchise. The two continuities are mutually exclusive, but both canon (so in a more meta sense, they're two universes within the same continuity). They share identical backstory, but the outcomes of the story in either continuity may turn out very differently. This is often caused by Time Travel. Unlike plain vanilla Alternate Continuity, these kinds of timelines do not necessarily happen due to Adaptation Decay or Adaptation Distillation in moving from medium to medium, but were often chosen deliberately by creators to take a franchise in a new direction while preserving the original material. This can oftentimes prevent a Dork Age. Didn't like that last installment? It was in an Alternate Timeline and really has no effect on your main franchise. Sometimes, these forked timelines can run simultaneously, each providing a different take on the franchise, its characters, and its events. The Alternate Timeline can also be employed as a kind of "soft" Continuity Reboot, creating a new universe while keeping the original in-canon. Some of these Alternate Timelines may be "What-If?" stories where one event went differently than in the main timeline, or the entire universe may be changed For Want of a Nail. The most obvious difference between an Alternate Timeline and vanilla Alternate Continuity is that Alternate Timelines share backstory, and were formed at a point of divergence. May result in an Alternate Universe. If what it diverged from is Real Life, then it's Alternate History. In that case, the Nazis may inexplicably win the war. If this doesn't happen, particularly in Video Games with Multiple Endings, it's called "Cutting Off the Branches". In some stories involving alternate timelines, you can Flash Sideways or meet your Alternate Self. Compare with What If?, Elseworld and Alternate Continuity.
Uhura: An alternate reality?
Spock: Precisely. Whatever our lives might have been, if the time continuum was disrupted, our destinies have changed.
Uhura: An alternate reality?
Spock: Precisely. Whatever our lives might have been, if the time continuum was disrupted, our destinies have changed.
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Anime and Manga
- The finales of Neon Genesis Evangelion and The End of Evangelion (arguably) diverge at Episode 25. ("Arguably", because in the opinions of some fans, they merely present the same events from different points of views.) Rebuild of Evangelion, meanwhile, diverges quite considerably from The Original Series. It's especially notable in the second movie, but it starts a good deal before.
- Dragon Ball Z has over a dozen of these, with three being discussed in the storyline itself (with fans and official guidebooks speculating on the existence of a fourth variant). The three "main" variants all spring from the Android Saga:
- Timeline 1 is the main DBZ timeline from the manga and anime. Future Trunks arrives and stays and trains to power up and fight against Cell in this timeline.
- Timeline 2 is where the main series' Future Trunks comes from; a world where Goku died of heart disease and the Earth is a playground for Androids #17 and #18. Eventually, Trunks is able to kill them and Cell after powering up in Timeline 1.
- Timeline 3 is apparently the timeline where Cell comes from. According to him, Trunks was going to head back in time to tell the past Z-Fighters that he had defeated the Androids. However, Cell ambushed and killed him, then used his time machine to travel back to Timeline 1. It is assumed the rest of the timeline before this event plays out the same as Timeline 2.
- The speculative Timeline 4 is based off the information gleaned from Timeline 3's Cell. It's believed that Timeline 3 Trunks traveled back to this timeline, and instead of staying and powering up, Trunks obtained and took back technical details on how to disable/shut down the Androids, which is why he was not strong enough to defeat Cell upon returning to his own time.
- In addition, Dragon Ball GT and all of the franchise's Non-Serial Movies are stated by Akira Toriyama himself to take place in alternate timelines.
- Dragon Ball Super makes it even more confusing with the introduction of "time rings", which Gods use to time travel without creating alternate timelines. Goku Black used a time ring to travel from Timeline 1 to Timeline 2 (Future Trunks' timeline) and caused havoc there, leading Future Trunks to go back to the Timeline 1 to ask for help. At the end of that storyline, Timeline 2 is destroyed by Timeline 2's Zen-O and, thanks to a lot of string-pulling by the other gods, Timeline 4 is created where Goku Black and Zamasu, the one who kicked off these events, never ran havoc in the timeline.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! has at least three different timelines. The first one is the Bad Future Chao Lingshen comes from, the second one in which Asuna goes into a sleep for 130 years and the third timeline where Asuna is brought back in time to be with her friends this time around and at which the epilogue takes place. The sequel UQ Holder! takes place in the second timeline, with glimpses at the third one.
- Future Diary:
- The Spin-Off Paradox takes place in one. It actually turns out the be very important to the main timeline in the last chapter, however.
- Near the end of the main series, it's revealed that the timeline the series takes place in is actually one of these. In the original timeline, Yuno was the winner of the game and became the new God of Time and Space, but since she couldn't resurrect her world's Yuki, she instead used her powers to go back in time, creating the actual timeline or "second world", killed this timeline's version of herself and took her place in the game, all in order to be with Yuki once again. In the finale, a third timeline is created when Yuno tries to go back in time once again and here all the characters manage to get a happy ending.
- The Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable game series splits off from the main Lyrical Nanoha continuity at the end of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's. Here, Reinforce Eins does not perform a Heroic Sacrifice, causing Humanoid Abomination Evil Twins of Nanoha, Fate, and Hayate to be born from the remnants of the Darkness of the Book of Darkness.
- Fullmetal Alchemist did this. The first anime took its own storyline when it Overtook the Manga.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica shows that there is at least five (and it is implied that MANY more occurred offscreen) of these as a result of Homura Akemi trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
- A number of Marvel's alternate dimensions - typically the ones featured in the What If? comics - are implied and in some cases outright stated to be offshoots of its main Earth-616 universe. Days of Future Past, Age of Apocalypse, and Marvel Comics 2 universe are examples.
- The Spider-Girl series (and a few other less successful comics) takes place in the MC2 universe, which diverged from the main continuity after the Clone Saga. In this continuity, Spider-Man's daughter survives and becomes Spider-Girl in the future. The point of divergence may be even further back, as later on it's revealed that Simon Williams (a.k.a. Wonder Man) died in issue 9 and was never resurrected.
- Marvel tends to mess in and out of clones and alternate timelines, to the point where several characters have a modus operandi off of it.
- It was an early rule of Marvel Comics that any attempt to change history would just create an alternate timeline, which among other things is how the X-Men have so many bad futures to choose from. Writers have tended to forget this when it's convenient.
- ''Exiles is all about exploring Alternate timelines with a group of original characters (for the most part). One interesting commonality about them is that typically Thor wasn't involved in them.
- One alternate Earth in the DC Multiverse was formed soon after Jason Todd died. Batman, stricken with grief, abandoned his Thou Shalt Not Kill policies and virtually eliminated crime worldwide.
- Flashpoint details an altered DC Universe in which only Barry Allen (The Flash) seems to be aware of significant differences between the regular timeline and the altered one, including Cyborg's place as the world's quintessential hero, Superman's detention by the government, and a Thomas Wayne version of Batman who spends his days "running Wayne Casinos."
- Transformers has done this multiple times.
- The Classics continuity follows on from the end of Marvel's G1 comic, but ignores the events of G2 and some(maybe all) of the UK comics. Don't ask where Earthforce fits in.
- Titan Magazines had a comic based off the 2007 film which diverges from the main timeline when the Decepticons win the Battle of Mission City.
- In Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, Brainstorm's time machine is designed specifically to avoid creating one when he attempts to prevent the Autobot-Decepticon war. It doesn't quite work - while all the time travelling he and the others do follows You Already Changed the Past, Perceptor messes with the machine enough for a second timeline to come into being. In it, Megatron was never born and all the war's collateral damage is averted - at the cost of Cybertron remaining a complete dystopia where your worth is defined by your alt-mode.
- Even Archie Comics has ventured into this, with their controversial Archie Marries Veronica / Archie Marries Betty combined mini-series which became a combined regular series.
- In the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip, the Eighth Doctor comic stories were initially explicitly depicted as taking place in an alternate timeline to most of the Seventh Doctor comic stories (Ace dies in a Heroic Sacrifice at a point that is clearly before her character development in the Seventh Doctor stories, and the Seventh Doctor very quickly regenerates into the Eighth, with his first major story arc being his pursuit of the Threshold - all this was because a new editor strongly disliked the Doctor Who New Adventures which the Seventh Doctor comics had shared a continuity with, and wanted to demonstrate that). However, the post-2005 stories have occasionally made continuity references to stories from both allegedly separate timelines.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (Boom! Studios) features two timelines: a Setting Update of the original show, and another (revealed much later) where Tommy kept working for Rita even after her spell was lifted. The second one is a few years ahead of the first, and has gone full Bad Future. The comic's story arc is a result of evil! Tommy invading the regular timeline for his own reasons.
- Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik as he appeared in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog actually came from an alternate timeline where he roboticized himself to defeat Sonic. After wiping out the Freedom Fighters in his home dimension, this Robotnik became the successor of the original Robotnik, who was killed in the 50th issue. He was eventually turned back into an organic being in issue 118.
- Axis Powers Hetalia fanfic Kanashī, Wütend, Desolato is basically a What If? for Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: instead of supporting Germany's, Italy's, and Japan's relationship, what if most of the countries scorned and tormented them upon finding out? Things do not turn out well.
- There is a Futurama fanfic called Green Storm Rising where the Planet Express Crew randomly shifts through two different alternate timelines.
- The Pony POV Series is established as being an Alternate Timeline to the main series timeline. While originally tied to the 'heart-world', the universe diverged completely and became independent as of 'The Last Roundup'
- In Equal And Opposite Attraction, there is a massive divergence where Negi never stops teaching and Fate goes soul-searching. This kicks off the plot when Negi leaves Mahora to get his life in order.
- An unused idea for a Calvin and Hobbes: The Series Made-for-TV Movie chronicled the eponymous characters visiting one, where Calvin (as an adult) became rich by selling the MTM, only for a war to break out as several nations all try to use it to change history in their favor.
- In Star Wars Light In Dark Time, the series' real plot begins when Doc and Marty inadvertently get Luke and his friends to create an alternate timeline where Anakin never became Darth Vader, but Order-66 still happened. The result is an evil version of Luke, a more competent Empire, and a potentially worse galaxy.
- A defining plot point in Split Second, which diverges at the moment of the first sonic rainboom, in which Twilight became a White Mage and Sparkle became a Black Mage.
- Justified in "Brother on Brother, Daughter on Mother", which takes the approach of explaining the inconsistent behavior of Star Trek Time Travel with the notion that time is like a rope composed of alternate timelines (or more specifically sequences of probabilistically determined events) that are fundamentally similar overall, but which can fray off dramatically different timelines in the event of major temporal incursions. The Time Police and the Temporal Prime Directive exist to prevent such frays from happening, since they damage time itself.
- In Blooming Dreemurr, it's entirely possible to interact with timelines of previous and future resets. As they're the primary if not only means for alternate timelines, timelines are numbered based on the number of resets there have been, from 0 to 721.
- In The Sage's Disciple, this appears to be the case for events of the mundane world, as it appears the presence of the supernatural has affected the timeline. Russia remained an absolute monarchy due to Tsar Alexander III surviving to influence the events leading up to World War I, the Yggdmillennia family prevented the outbreak of the Second Balkan War, the Titanic managed to reach New York City before sinking due to the intervention of an unnamed magus, Operation Valkyrie succeeded in 1944, etc. During the sequel "The Puppeteer's Bodyguard," Crow spends much of his free time researching other such changes and trying to figure out why its so different from the world he knew.
- Star Trek:
- Explained in-story in the 2009 Star Trek reboot. The two main timelines diverge at Kirk's birth. In the Prime timeline, Kirk is born on Earth and the timeline proceeds how you remember it. In the new timeline, Kirk is born in space, his father is killed by Nero, and Vulcan is eventually destroyed — so there is no point asking Spock-Prime what's going to happen next, since now he has no idea either.
- Although his knowledge of things that predated Kirk's birth but became important later or that originated elsewhere wouldn't have necessarily been affected. Things like the Doomsday Machine, Giant Space Amoeba, V'Ger, Khan's sleeper ship (which is realized in Star Trek Into Darkness, where it is discovered several years earlier than the original timeline), the existence of the Borg and the Dominion, subspace damage caused by warp drives, the need for whales, and so on.
- The IDW comic series reveals that Q knows about this timeline and decides to go mess with it to teach Kirk a lesson, despite Picard begging him not to.
- In 2016, shortly before the release of Star Trek Beyond, this timeline got officially dubbed the "Kelvin Timeline", referring to the USS Kelvin attack as the diverging point.
- Done to the extreme in Déjà Vu, which necessitates 4 alternate timelines◊ to explain the events of the movie.
- The Godzilla series has done this several times to the point where each of the movies from Godzilla 2000 and onward (with the exception of the two with Mechagodzilla) are their own continuity branching off from the original.
- In Triangle, Jess gets stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop of her co-passengers getting killed by a masked killer. The first Jess tries to break the chain by meeting the Jess from the next loop. This creates a new timeline where the other passengers died differently by getting killed by a different masked killer. Subverted in that the two timelines play off at the same time and each influence each other. For example the new timeline eventually causes the second Jess to have her own story, which we don't see, where she eventually killed some of the passengers as the second masked killer which eventually made the first Jess turn into the first masked killer
- In Sliding Doors, the movie shows two alternate timelines. The story starts off with the Main Character getting fired, while her boyfriend is cheating on her. The Main Character goes home, and either just catches the tube in time, finding her boyfriend in bed with another woman, or misses the tube, causing some other events to happen which means she arrives home after the other woman has left. The movie then alternates between the two story lines.
- It's almost certain that there are two continuities in the original Planet of the Apes franchise. The first is the continuity that led to the society of the original film, possibly as described by Cornelius to the committee in Escape from the Planet of the Apes. The second is the altered continuity that the birth of their son, Caesar, sparked. It appears that the ape revolution was greatly sped up with his arrival. However, fans are split as to whether the continuities ultimately re-merge when history reaches the point where the original film was set, and humans will again end up mute wild animals and the world destroyed by the Alpha-Omega bomb or whether history was changed for good by the end of Battle for the Planet of the Apes and Caesar forged a new future. The editing of Battle didn't help things, the theatrical release had a hopeful tone, but the unedited version on most DVD releases clearly sets up the beginnings of the mutant society of Beneath the Planet of the Apes. The TV series likely exists in one of these continuities somewhere, while the animated series and the 2001 remake don't, and and Rise may or may not. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a Continuity Reboot, but there have been statements by the creators contradicting that and painting it as a prequel as well.
- The alternate timeline (and preventing it) make up about half of the plot of Back to the Future Part II.
Doc: Obviously, the time continuum has been disrupted creating this new temporal event sequence, resulting in this alternate reality.
Marty: English, Doc.
Doc: Here, here-here. Let me illustrate.
(He moves aside cardboard boxes to set up his chalkboard)
Doc: Imagine that this line represents time. 1985...the future...the past. Prior to this point in time, somewhere in the past, the timeline skewed into this tangent, creating an alternate 1985. Alternate to you, me, and Einstein, but reality for everyone else.
- The X-Men Film Series entered this territory after X-Men: Days of Future Past. All films set after that point take place in an alternate version of Earth in which the existence of mutants became public knowledge in 1973, nearly three decades earlier than in the original timeline, meaning there are quite a few differences.
- In the DC Extended Universe, Batman witnesses a horrific Bad Future in a dream in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, with the forces of Apokolips dominating the Earth and Superman having turned to their side. All of this likely happened because Lois Lane died and the Justice League didn't gather. The Flash travels in time and tries to warn Bruce Wayne, who doesn't fully understand it until Superman's death at the end of the film. By the time of Justice League, Bruce and Diana/Wonder Woman do their best to gather the eponymous Super Team to repel the incoming Alien Invasion by the Apokoliptian war chief Steppenwolf and spare the Earth the aforementioned Bad Future.
- Alterien features a story at a later point in the series in which Oberon and his rival, Theseus, end up in an alternate reality. In this alternate universe, many of the events of Oberon and Theseus' lives occurred similar to the way they did before, but set a century earlier and with new people in place of some of the people they remember.
- The Gary Paulsen book Hatchet ends with Brian being rescued. However, in the third book, Brian's Winter, it takes place in an alternate series of events where Brian has to survive through the winter. Of course, those spoiler tags are almost useless since they spoiled this on the back of the book.
- The Black Trillium novel was co-written by three authors, who each went on to write a sequel (or two), effectively spawning three mostly incompatible timelines from a single root.
- The book, The Wastelands of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series involves alternate timelines created in the previous book, The Drawing of the Three when Roland creates a paradox by saving the life of Jake in his own world, preventing him from travelling to Roland's world, and them ever meeting. The alternate timelines created, one where he travelled with Jake, and one where he was alone, slowly drive both Jake and Roland insane as their minds simultaneously believe both series' of events to be true.
- Dinoverse has a vast number of alternate universes, but it's implied that the peaceful utopian Dinoverse, which has a present-day society of, well, dinosaurs, is the result of characters in the Mesozoic era rescuing an unusually smart Deinonychus from certain doom. There's still the heroes' reality with human civilization, and there are human and dinosaur versions of several characters.
- The Rifter: Kahlil, after a lonely youth training in Rathal’pesha, spent years in Nayeshi waiting to bring the Rifter (John) to Basawar; then his key to the gates fell into John’s hands and John crossed through. He landed at an earlier point in time and met Ravishan the trainee-Kahlil; together the two of them changed history radically. Now the future where Ravishan becomes Kahlil will never happen, but his future self is still over in Nayeshi, not knowing that events he remembers have been wiped out of existence. Kahlil crosses to Bashawar and arrives thirty years after John’s arrival. He doesn’t meet himself because by this time Ravishan is dead. However, he does pick up Ravishan’s memories; the two timelines coexist confusingly in his mind. Among other things, the Payshmura church that Kahlil remembers serving all those years doesn't exist here, it was destroyed soon after John's arrival.
- One of the many things that the main characters in the Sixteenthirty Two series bemoan is that so many great artists and musicians born after the arrival of Grantville in the past will now never be born because the timeline has diverged way too far for probability to allow it. This fact causes several artists and musicians native to the time to investigate what would have been created by those now-erased artists and create it themselves.
- The entire series Relativity apparently takes place in an "alternate timeline." In the short story "Tempest" (which takes place in the distant past, relative to the main narrative), Phanthro alters history, and uses a memory-projector to show a version of history where Matt's son dies in his forties. Since his son dies as a child in the "current" history, the memories Phanthro has must be from an "earlier" version.
- In Orson Scott Card's Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, the historians of the titular organization try to figure out if it's possible to change the past to avert The End of the World as We Know It, only to discover that it has already been done once. It's heavily implied that our timeline is the alternate to what was supposed to have happened originally. In the original timeline, Columbus never sailed West, instead leading a new, disastrous, Crusade to retake the Holy Land. Without European interference, the Aztec Empire fell under the onslaught of Tlaxcala, a rival nation (in our history, they allied with the Spaniards to destroy the Aztecs). Unlike the Aztecs, the Tlaxcalans were not averse to innovation and were even more bloodthirsty. They forged an even greater empire, by the time the Americas are finally visited by Europeans in the 18th century. The captured Portuguese sailors were forced to give up the secrets of gunpowder and shipbuilding, after which the the Tlaxcalans built a massive armada and sailed East. They fell upon a devastated Europe, crushing all enemies and sacrificing thousands to their god of war. However, that original timeline was also doomed to result in the end of human civilization, so scientists from that timeline sent back a holographic message to Columbus, pretending to be God telling him to sail West, resulting in our timeline. Realizing that both versions of history are dead ends, the Pastwatch historians send three people into the past around the time of Columbus's arrival to the New World. One sacrifices himself to trap the Europeans in the Caribbean, another convinces Columbus to work on unifying the island tribes, and the third starts forming a more benevolent empire on the mainland. Many decades later, Columbus returns to Europe at the head of a massive well-armed fleet of trade ships as both an example of Gunboat Diplomacy and an offer for the Old World to trade fairly with the New World with neither culture dominating the other. Supposedly, this results in a much better timeline.
Live Action TV
- The Community episode "Remedial Chaos Theory" explores 6 alternate timelines, each different depending on which number Jeff rolls on the Yahtzee die. We then see the main timeline, which is where Abed catches the die instead of letting it roll.
- The series flashes over to the "Darkest Timeline" every now and then to see how things are going (or at least Abed does in his own mind).
- The episode with the two model U.N.s also used this explanation (at Abed's insistence) to explain the presence of two Earth's each with their own U.N.. Ultimately, it's integral to how the study group wins the competition.
- When Dallas retconned a whole season that had been unpopular with fans as All Just a Dream, the producers of the Spin-Off Knots Landing didn't want to retcon plots that had been influenced by events in that season, causing the show to split off as an Alternate Timeline.
- Doctor Who: "Turn Left" shows what would happen if Donna took a different job offer some time before meeting the Doctor. She never would've gotten involved in the Racnoss plot and not been there to keep the Doctor from going too far and dying under the Thames. Then it goes From Bad to Worse, as the Doctor's absence causes every single crisis he prevented to take place, sometimes even worse (e.g. the Adipose end up killing millions in the US, while the starliner Titanic ends up wiping out London). At the end of the episode, Donna is convinced by Rose to put events back on the right track.
- The events of The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang end up triggering a Total Event Collapse, where all of reality aside from the Earth, Moon, and everyone on it are erased from existence across every point in time. Species that were at the heart of the collapse but not from Earth were preserved as statues; small impressions on the universe. Stars no longer exist, including the sun, but the TARDIS manages to keep the Earth warm by containing its explosion in a "Groundhog Day" Loop across all of time as well. This allows humanity to develop, though they see stars as just a myth. Aside from Richard Dawkins, who runs a "star cult."
- Lampshaded in Eureka, where Henry explains to Sheriff Carter exactly why they can't accurately predict the future after hitting the Reset Button on the past five years to undo Henry meddling to keep his wife from dying in the past, since the differing actions alone will cause a Ripple Effect to make the timelines gradually diverge. And then something different happens.
- It should be noted that Eureka has gotten two Alternate Timeline treatments. The first one (mentioned above) only lasted an episode before being reverted; the second one, however, became the permanent timeline for the show.
- A few later episodes of Farscape see John Crichton exploring a few of these, particularly as interdimensional wormholes and the associated wibblie-wobblies become more important to the plot.
- It's eventually revealed that the entirety of The Flash (2014) takes place in an Alternate Timeline created by the Reverse-Flash going back in time to kill Barry as a child. When Barry saves his past self, the villain kills Barry's mother in a fit of rage. Barry's father is arrested for the murder, and Barry ends up being raised by Detective Joe West. The villain further messes with the timeline after discovering that he is stuck there and does everything possible to try to return to his own time, including re-creating the Flash. By extension, this also means that Arrow also takes place in an alternate timeline.
- Season Three begins right on the heels of Barry going back in time to prevent his mother's murder. The result is the series' answer to Flashpoint: Barry lives a normal life with his parents, with Wally West as the Flash with the Rival serving as his speedster nemesis. However, Barry's old adopted father is now a washed-up drunk, his old tech support are now a children's eye doctor and self-centred billionaire, and the more he uses his speed, the more he forgets his old life. In the end, after getting one of the above mortally wounded, he goes back again to make a Close-Enough Timeline. Now, the only differences are that Cisco resents him for his brother's death, Joe West and Iris haven't talked for the past year, and he's had a co-worker for the past year who hates his guts. He almost goes back to reset this timeline too, before Jay Garrick yanks him out for a lecturing.
- Frasier did an episode that was in fact inspired by the movie Sliding Doors.
- The fourth season of Fringe takes place in an Alternate Timeline, one in which Peter Bishop was never saved by the Observer as a boy. The first four episodes explore all the changes to the continuity, big and small, that resulted from Peter not being around. And then the Peter from the original timeline returns. This is all in a series that spent three years knee-deep in the complexities of an Alternate Universe.
- It's also worth noting that, according to the time-sensitive Observers, the first three seasons already took place in an Alternate Timeline that was thrown off-course from what was supposed to happen by the actions of an Observer. The Alternate Timeline of season 4 is probably a lot closer to how the original timeline was supposed to run.
- The Malcolm in the Middle episode Bowling played with this, the divergence being which parent took the kids bowling instead of staying at home. The conclusion?
Lois / Hal: "Next time, you take 'em."
- Happens several times in Misfits:
- The first instance is when Curtis first discovers his Mental Time Travel powers. When the storm turns the probation worker crazy and he attacks Kelly, the rest of the gang doesn't believe her until he comes in the door and kills her in front of them. Curtis travels back to right before he comes in and warns the gang.
- In another episode, he decides to try to use his power to stop himself and his ex-girlfriend from getting caught with cocaine in the first place. He manages to do so but this event causes the deaths of all of the other Misfits except Nathan ( probably because of his immortality) because he isn't there to see the potential future. He ends up creating a Close-Enough Timeline in which he does end up on community service but his girlfriend doesn't get arrested.
- In a season 3 episode, an old man buys Curtis' power from Seth in order to go back in time and kill Hitler. He fails, but he leaves behind his 2011 cell phone which leads to a future where Nazi Germany was able to use that technology to win the war and take over the UK.
- In the Series Finale, Jess is taken forward a year by some guy she meets in a bar, to a future in which she has a baby with this man.
- The Psych episode "Right Turn or Left for Dead" features an alternate timeline that diverges with Shawn giving Juliet Chief Vick's shawl instead of his jacket, thus preventing their break-up in the previous episode. Shawn ends up working the same case in both timelines, but the differences bring clues to light at different times. Near the end of the episode, the alternate timeline is revealed to be All Just a Dream of Shawn's.
- The Scrubs episode My Butterfly, where the cast explored what different events resulted from a butterfly landing on an attractive woman's chest or alternatively, an unattractive man's chest. Ultimately subverted in that the patient ends up dying in both timelines.
- Star Trek has had many episodes in all five series featuring alternate timelines. For more information, click here.
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles branches off from the movie continuity after T2: Judgment Day - Sarah and John Connor leap through time from 1999 to 2007, skipping Sarah's death from cancer in 2002 and the date at which Judgement Day would have happened if Rise of the Machines were canon. Terminator Salvation, on the other hand, carries on from the Rise of the Machines continuity.
- Well, for a series with that much Time Travel, it's a wonder it didn't develop alternate continuities sooner.
- Two characters who have been sent back to the past at different times find out that their versions of the future don't exactly match, implying that they come from different timelines.
- The show ends on a Cliffhanger and yet another timeline caused by John Connor traveling to the Bad Future, partly caused by him not being there to lead the resistance.
- Naturally, some episodes of Timecop have this happen. In one episode, a criminal messes up Jack's personal history, causing their roles to reverse (i.e. the criminal is now a timecop, while Jack is a known felon). In another, a neo-Nazi travels back in time to World War II and helps them win. He's smart enough to dress a local as himself and set up events to look like he is accidentally killed by the Nazis. Satisfied, Jack returns home only to find a different timeline. It's not explored, since he immediately jumps back to fix it.
- Timeless: A major plot point of the pilot episode, where despite attempts to keep from altering history, the Hindenburg explodes a day later, destroyed by a group of "renegade terrorists" (the main characters), with only two victims. After they get back, Lucy finds her mother, who was comatose before perfectly fine, she's engaged, and her sister never existed.
- Kamen Rider Ryuki: Since the overall plot of the series is that Big Bad Shiro Kanzaki is looping time over and over in an attempt to save the life of his sister Yui, the movie Episode Final and the TV special 13 Riders are the events of different timelines rather than simply being Alternate Continuities like most Kamen Rider Non Serial Movies.
- BIONICLE had at least four different parallel timelines. For instance, in Dark Mirror, Takua was killed by a Toa of Iron, and in The Kingdom universe, as well as the universe briefly seen at the end of Brothers in Arms, he never became a Toa at all. He is a Toa in the main universe.
- Star Trek has been indulging in a "Myriad Universes" series of books and comics which explores countless other realities throughout every Star Trek series, based on various differences in their timelines. Some vary hugely from the original, while others vary in slightly simpler ways. There's also the original Mirror Universe.
- One is the Last Generation comic. Set in a universe ruled by the Klingon empire after a plot change during The Undiscovered Country (i.e. Kirk wasn't fast enough to save the president, and it's all Captain Braxton's fault). In this Dystopian version of the Trekverse, Sulu captains the last remaining Star Fleet vessel as a Mysterious Protector, Tasha lives, Jean-Luc Picard leads a Resistance movement, Wesley took a few levels in badass (well, physical prowess, anyway) and Data is the key to changing history. Either that or he's the key to the most destructive computer weapons system ever created.
- Different portions of the Doctor Who Expanded Universe in different media may or may not take place in different timelines - there are various claims in-universe about this, some of them mutually contradictory. Some people will try to place them in the same continuity. However in the Milestone Celebration of Big Finish Doctor Who for the 40th anniversary "Zagreus", the Doctor claims the events in other continuities happen in other Universes, which is the line TV Tropes has taken.
Role Playing Games
- In Alpha Team: Mission Deep Freeze RPG, Future Frozeen created an alternate timeline by going back and time and changing the past, with the point of divergence being Mission Deep Freeze when he rescued the rest of Alpha Team from the assassin robot that killed them in the original timeline.
- In Dino Attack RPG, the Future Villains created an alternate timeline by going back in time and changing the past, with the point of divergence being the early Dino Attack when they joined forces with their past selves.
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has two different Alternate Timelines, both created by the protagonists' use of Time Travel to attempt to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
- In the first, they inadvertently change Hermione and Ron's relationship so that the two never marry, causing the erasure of Albus's cousins and drastically altering the personalities of both Hermione and Ron.
- In the second, they technically accomplish their goal by preventing Cedric Diggory's death. Instead, Diggory's humiliation leads to him joining the Death Eaters and killing Neville Longbottom, which ensures Voldemort's survival.
- The surprise antagonist of the story then attempts to create yet a third Alternate Timeline while the protagonists are attempting to undo their own changes. The protagonists stop her and eventually wind up with a Close-Enough Timeline.
- The Madness Musical; Our House, has the Lead Character breaking in to a development site, so he can get a view of his Neighbourhood, but then the Police arrive. It then shows two time lines, one where he turns himself in, another where he runs, showing the consequence of both choices, while his father watches and makes commentary on his choices. It then shows a third time line, where he doesn’ break in to the development site, in the first place?
- If/Then follows the main character Elizabeth down two separate timelines, depending on which friend and which activity she chooses to go with at the start of the play. Amusingly, the play is then filled to the brim with more choices, much weightier than the one made at the start, that would seem to be fodder for creating yet more timelines, but these are not explored, despite hints that more such timelines do exist.
- The Legend of Zelda. In trying to figure out the Continuity Snarl of the series chronology, one popular fan theory said that the use of Time Travel in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time caused the series to split into two different timelines. Hyrule Historia later canonized this concept, except that there are now three timelines:
- In one timeline, Link defeats Ganon and stays in the adult era. Then, Ganon rises again, causing Hyrule to be flooded. The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks follow this timeline.
- In another timeline, young Link uses his knowledge from the first timeline to warn the king, preventing Ganon from taking over Hyrule in the first place and causing him to be banished to the Twilight Realm. Majora's Mask, Twilight Princess and Four Swords Adventures take place in this timeline.
- In the third timeline, Link is killed in battle by Ganon, causing the Imprisoning War. A Link to the Past, the Oracle games, Link's Awakening, A Link Between Worlds, the original Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link take place in this timeline.
- There's no official word on which of these timelines Breath of the Wild takes place in, with clues for each one. Some say that it's the result of all three timelines somehow merging back into one. Others say that it takes place so far in the future that it no longer matters which timeline it is, making that game a Soft Reboot of sorts.
- Mortal Kombat. The original timeline shows Raiden and Shao Kahn as the final 2 Kombatants, with Kahn defeating Raiden. Knowing that he is about to be killed, Raiden sent a message of his past self to hopefully change the future. The current timeline, while still near-identical to the original, finally kills Shao Kahn for good. Unfortunately, the new decisions made and results cost the lives of a lot of kombatants, made both Earthrealm and Outworld more vulnerable for attack, and later on placed Raiden to a much darker state after Shinnok's defeat.
- Chrono Cross initially seems to revolve around Dual-World Gameplay where the key difference the Home World and Another World comes down to whether Serge survived his childhood, but as the plot unfolds it turns out that a lot of what is going on is being influenced by the potential timelines created over the course of Chrono Trigger. One faction is from the good future resulting from that game, a high-tech civilization trying to prevent any Temporal Paradoxes that might threaten its future existence, while a rival faction hails from a timeline in which humanity never rose to dominate the planet, and wants to cleanse the world of us filthy usurpers. And then there's a Time Crash where Chrono Trigger's Bad Future is trying to reassert itself, with dire consequences for everyone.
- Dark Cloud and its sequel. The first game created a different timeline entirely by stopping the Dark Genie from ever coming to existence. The second game was mostly about this, you had to restore Origin Points (Event in past which influences future), it even creates new innovations in the future such as Aeroharmonic technology and Paznos' Colossus Mode which never existed before.
- The main premise of the Half-Life mod series "Timeline." Rogue Black Mesa scientists have discovered how to use the dimensional portals to permit time travel, and have been messing with and creating new timelines. Eventually this technology falls into the hands of Those Wacky Nazis...
- The Mega Man (Classic) metaseries has one, expanded on in Mega Man Battle Network. Both Doctors Light and Wily presented their research to the government: network and robotics, respectively. In the world where Light's network research won out, the Battle Network and Mega Man Star Force games take place. However, when Wily's robotics were chosen instead, it led to the other series.
- Ghost Trick has an in-game instance: the first timeline is a Bad Future where everybody dies, Missile is unable to save them due to lacking the needed ghost tricks, and Sissel refuses to help Missile due to only being concerned about his own quest for identity. At the end, Missile uses Yomiel's no-longer-immortal body to travel back in time 10 years to the Tesmik Park incident and wait out those ten years until that night returns. Then starts the second timeline, which is the Bad Future again, but diverging when Sissel awakens and Missile from the first timeline guides him under the guise of Ray, making Sissel think he's a blond-haired man in red instead, so that he'll naturally save Lynne and everyone else that could be a lead in his quest for identity due to said man's interactions with them. The third timeline begins after Sissel, Missile from the second timeline, Yomiel, and Detective Jowd go back 10 years again like the original Missile did and Set Right What Once Went Wrong by saving Yomiel's life and thus preventing his Start of Darkness, undoing the first two timelines and the first Missile's existence in the process.
- The Babylon Project campaign "The Earth-Brakiri War" is set in an alternate 2260 where Babylon 5 had been destroyed and Earth had alienated itself from the other races due to a failure of diplomacy.
- The existence of one of these and the desire of certain odd factions to bring it back fuels the plot of Persona 2: Eternal Punishment.
- You see two of these in Shin Megami Tensei IV: Blasted Tokyo and Infernal Tokyo. Both are horrible Death Worlds; it's just that they embody what would have ultimately happened if certain events in the past had swayed the balance in favor of one faction or the other.
- The spin-off Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is itself set in an alternate timeline to the original game's Neutral route. Specifically, this is the result of Nanashi coming back from the dead with the help of the god Dagda, which, long story short, leads to the unsealing of the Divine Powers and some other drastic things happening to and around Tokyo. It's implied that if Nanashi refuses to be revived (which can actually be done at the start of the game for a Non Standard Game Over), IV's Neutral ending continues on as usual.
- Surprisingly this is present in the Metal Gear series: Metal Gear: Ghost Babel takes place in an alternate timeline where neither the events of the second game nor the events of the Solid series have taken place.
- In Super Robot Wars Reversal, the Original Generation characters come from a Bad Future where the events of Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack and Martian Successor Nadesico: The Prince of Darkness play out. After accidentally traveling back in time, they unintentionally Set Right What Once Went Wrong by keeping the events of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz from going bad, which makes everything better for everyone invovled.
- The Halloween Hack takes place after EarthBound. This time, the Chosen Four didn't return since they were sent to a timeline created when Giygas was killed in the past. Dr. Andonuts went mad with grief and became a Serial Killer because he thought he killed them.
- Dragon Ball Xenoverse takes place in an alternate timeline from the main Dragon Ball series, created as a result of Towa and Mira interfering with time and changing the outcomes of key battles (allowing Raditz to evade an otherwise fatal attack from Piccolo, just to name one example). It is up to the player and an alternate future version of Trunks to Set Right What Once Went Wrong and correct the changes being made in history.
- The plot for World of Warcraft's fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor, is kicked off by Garrosh going back in time 35 years to Draenor (the world the orcs come from) and introducing Azeroth's modern vaguely steampunk technology to the hunter-gatherer orcs. Subverted in that there are already differences before he gets there, like Ner'zhul's wife still being alive when she died in our timeline, and Garrosh himself not existing in this timeline - Grom's wife died before Garrosh was born here. Kairoz (the bronze dragon who helped Garrosh get there) even tells him that it is not his Draenor, just one that is similar enough for their purposes. Garrosh's arrival did still change things more though.
- Implied by the One Game for the Price of Two nature of the Pokémon franchise, with each version having differences in the Pokemon you can catch. Since Gen III, these divergences expanded to include which evil team you fight or the legendary Pokemon that is the focal point of the story. Gen V took it a step further and had the Unova region be more old-fashioned in White and more modern in Black.note References to alternate timelines actually became a part of the story starting in Gen VI's remake of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, where the Playable Epilogue has the character Zinnia establish that AZ's Ultimate Weapon from X and Y was never created in the universe of prior generations, splitting the overarching timeline into Non-Mega and Mega versions. Gen VII's Sun and Moon has the player meet (former) Frontier Brain Anabel and Looker, who both hail from the original non-Mega timeline, as part of the post-game, in addition to giving the player the ability to use wormholes to travel to the parallel timeline of the other version after capturing their game's version legendary. Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is straightforward about all the games in the series being part of an infinite multiverse by having its post-game revolve around Team Rainbow Rocket, a Villain Team-Up of every previous antagonist in the series, with said villains hailing from alternate worlds where The Bad Guy Wins due to their respective player characters not even existing.note
- Tales of Destiny 2: There are three of them. Nanaly hails from a Bad Future, Kyle and Loni hail from the original timeline, Judas was resurrected from a point 18 years in the past and Harold is from the origin point of two of them, 2000 years in the past.
- In Final Fantasy XIII-2 the protagonists have the ability to navigate to various points in the their world's timeline. In some cases their interactions create alternate realities that they can travel between freely. For example, 'Academia 400 AF' and 'Academia 4XX AF' are alternate timeline versions of the same location in the same time period.
- Wolfenstein: The New Order is set in a timeline where at some point in 1942, the Nazis got hold of a cache of hyper-advanced technology and consequently reversed-engineered it and used it to Curb Stomp the Allies into submission and Take Over the World. This becomes extremely ironic considering that the technology was developed by a sect of Jewish scientists who all took a binding vow to God that they would never apply their technology to real life and just use it to help scientists make even more advanced technology with the sole intent to understand the universe better. This means that the Nazis owe their completely ill-begotten victory to a philosophy that they (wrongly) label as inferior.
- The news broadcasts in Devil Summoner establish this series as an alternate timeline from Shin Megami Tensei I and onward. The divergence here is twofold; Gotou is arrested before he can even attempt his military coup d'etat, and Thorman dies of a heart attack, and so is never able to call in the nukes on Tokyo.
- This becomes important in later stories in the Demonbane franchise: all of the first game's endings are canon and did happen in one timeline or another. One of the prequel novels also involves Nyarlathotep erasing a timeline from existence when things in it go catastrophically wrong for everyone (including itself). Finally, at the climax of the second game, Demonbane summons alternate versions of itself from an infinite number of alternate timelines to deal the finishing blow against the Clockwork Phantom... some of these variations are only slightly different, some are radically different.
- The Nasuverse explicitly has alternate timelines, which handily provides an explanation for all the different routes and endings in its various media: all of them happened in some timeline or another, thus all of them are canon. The magus Zelretch possesses the "Second Magic", which allows him to travel between alternate realities, and this sometimes becomes a plot point. Somewhat like the Demonbane example above, in the final battle of the Heaven's Feel route of Fate/stay night Rin is able to defeat Sakura and her infinite army of Shadow Giants by using a copy of Zelretch's Jeweled Sword to call upon the Second Magic, drawing infinite mana from infinite alternate timelines (one of which is noted to have ended in her defeat at Sakura's hands, in fact) to destroy all of the Shadow Giants.
- Expanded universe material introduces the concept of "Quantum Timelocks," events which must happen across all timelines, to allow them to remain uniform. This prevents the idea of "infinite realities from infinite choices" from clogging up the multiverse, by using the "core timeline", the one with the highest chance of survival, as a template for all others. While alternate timelines can be divergent in ways that will not change history on a grand scale (for example, if King Arthur were a woman instead of a man), they cannot be too divergent lest they disobey the Quantum Timelocks (for example, the fall of Camelot cannot be prevented). If a timeline becomes too divergent, then its odds of survival plummet and it will very likely become a dead world; said dead timeline is designated a "Lostbelt," and deleted from the multiverse to conserve energy.
- The premise behind Area X, which deals with Time Travel Romance without actual time travel, as the protagonist is hopping to Alternate Timelines rather than the strict past. They were created when, back in the Middle Ages, Livan tried to rewrite the world to save her life, thus splitting time into multiple streams.
- Steins;Gate is actually mostly about getting out of the so called Alpha timeline(s) and back into the original but so called Beta timeline(s). In the end they will get the possibility of the third timeline "behind the steins-gate.
- In Virtue's Last Reward and its prequel game Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, this is pretty much the basis for how Phi, Junpei and Sigma are able to know information they can't know. The games work on the multiple world theory, in which every single difference in action, human or otherwise, creates another branching universe. All three of them are able to "know" information, and obtain the same memories that their alternative counterparts in different histories obtained at the same time-frame within their respective universes [e.g, at 3PM on the same day]. It's revealed in Virtue's Last Reward that the reason for this is that they subconsciously perform "universe jumps" where their mind alone is transferred into the mind of another version of themselves from another timeline/universe. They then, subconsciously "recall" events and information that they experienced in other timelines. This often results in Sigma and Phi blurting out information that they shouldn't know, of which they don't even know where they got it from. For example, Sigma Sporadically finds himself typeing in correct login to a computer, because in a number of alternative histories he was told what the login was.
- This is pretty much what the entire point of Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition was. To send Sigma and Phi's consciousnesses back through time, to create an alternative history where the world wasn't torn apart by a viral infection.
- This can also apply to the games themselves from the player's viewpoint, since games are all about multiple paths and choices affecting what timeline you go down.
- With a twist when it comes to Two Evil Scientists: Two super villains from alternate timelines are competing to make their timelines a reality, as well as Quint and the Time Skimmer.
- In Homestuck, creating an alternate timeline that contradicts information known in any future time that is also technically the present (effectively, defying a predetermined future event) turns your timeline into a doomed offshoot of the "alpha" timeline, the one that's supposed to happen. Luckily, only the people from the alternate timelines are doomed; the "alpha" characters will be okay.
- At least, until John gains the power to redefine which timeline becomes the Alpha timeline at the cost of all his other selves.
- The Wraith in Charby the Vampirate is Zeno from an alternate timeline. Several of the other cabinmates fates in this alternate timeline have been briefly explained and illustrated on the artist's tumblr.
- In All Night Laundry, there's at least thirteen different timelines. We only see one though.
- Worm takes place on Earth Bet, which diverged from our timeline in 1982 with the appearance of Scion, the first superhero. Other worlds exist with their own divergent timelines — Earth Aleph being one.
- John Titor, a person claiming to be a time traveler from 2036 on several message boards, had many predictions for the future. These included a second American civil war in 2004, followed by a swift World War III in 2015, where a nuclear exchange between Russia, America, the European Union, and China killed 3 billion people. Obviously, none of this happened, but Titor also stated that the many-worlds theory of quantum mechanics had been proven to be true and our world might not go down the exact same path as the one they came from.
- In the South Park Episode "Go God Go!", Cartman uses a phone that can call homes in other time periods, even the commercial for it states that it is only for prank phone calls.
- The end of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has the Gang force history to reset itself in a much more pleasant direction after Scooby kills the Nibiru Entity. Harlan Ellison tells them that this isn't the first time that they've had their timeline rebooted either.
- The Adventure Time episodes "Finn the Human" and "Jake the Dog" deal with this. Finn makes a wish that the Lich never existed. We then see an alternate world where Marceline never became a vampire, Simon stopped the nuke which irradiated the world, and Finn is living with his poverty stricken family and normal-bulldog Jake. Eventually Finn ends up donning the Ice King's crown, causing the nuke to blow up and has a different Lich be born out of Jake.
- In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) episode "Shredderville", the Turtles thought they have somehow stepped into an alternate timeline/world/reality where the Turtles never existed, in which Shredder has taken over the world, Rocksteady and Bebop are still humans, April O'Neil and Irma are their servants, and humans and mutants are mutual enemies because of Krang and his Dimension X allies. Oh, and on top of all this, everything in that world is falling apart. Fortunately, the whole thing turns out to be All Just a Dream.