Kevyn Andreyasn: Hey, when you want something done right, do it yourself.
Captain Kevyn Andreyasn: And if that's not enough, go back in time and tell yourself to try it again.Bob is sent to the future or past to help 'someone important'. When he arrives there, he finds that the person he has to help is him. After all, who else could Bob trust? The type of 'help' given varies. It may be a rescue, it may be assisting in a battle, it may just be going back in time to tell yourself "Do NOT drink the punch!" This often plays out in reverse too, the hero is helped by an Anonymous Benefactor who he or she later realizes was (or will be, or had been-- gah!) themselves all along. When the Past self goes to the future, he may end up realizing he's a jerk in the future, and strive to change that when he returns to the past. If the Future self goes to the past, before leaving, he may impart some wisdom that will come in handy when the time is right, or be disgusted at how weak, evil, or stupid he used to be. Note that saving your own life, or basically doing anything that enables you to travel in the first place, causes an ontological paradox. Contrast Never the Selves Shall Meet. Compare Retroactive Preparation. Depending on whether or not it's a Bad Future, related to Future Me Scares Me. If while helping yourself, you get a little too friendly with yourself you may end up Screwing Yourself. Compare My Own Grampa. In that trope, you help your present self (in that you preserve your existence) by doin' the nasty in the past-y.
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- Coke Zero presents: The Do Over
Anime & Manga
- Doraemon Movie #3 & #34, The Haunts of Evil: Bauwan's prophecy has it that 10 foreigners would come and solve the land's greatest crisis. However, the main protagonists count is only 5. The rest turns out to be their future selves brought by Shizuka, using Doraemon's Loaning Phone gadget by promising that after defeating the Big Bad and going home, they'd go back in time and return to support themselves.
- Geronimo of Kinnikuman was a Badass Normal who admired Choujins because he was saved by one as a child. When Geronimo was eventually given a trial that would allow him to become a Choujin if he succeeded, he was sent to the past... To both save and inspire himself.
- In The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, the boss of the time traveling Mikuru is—somehow—her adult self, who looks back on her time with Haruhi fondly and ends up being responsible for several Stable Time Loops.
- Steins;Gate: "Deceiving the world is not a big deal for a Mad Scientist, Hououin Kyouma!" After his even more future self tells him to deceive his recent-past self into thinking that Kurisu was murdered.
- One Archie comic has Arch reminisce about almost running away from home, except a mysterious man stopped him. He goes to the past on a magical bicycle and guess who the mysterious man was?
- Inverted in Final Crisis : Legion of Three Worlds; the character of Superboy-Prime is currently tearing through the greatest heroes of the thirty-first century, with the distant aid of a future version of himself who has become the recurring foe the Time Trapper. However, when the heroes lure the Time Trapper from his realm outside Time to the era where Superboy-Prime is currently tearing through their allies, Superboy-Prime's arrogance and anger cause him to attack his future self, this attack destroying the Time Trapper while the accompanying temporal rift sends Superboy-Prime back to his own Earth.
- Wally West mentioned a mysterious figure who gave him some wise advice shortly before he gained his powers (he briefly suspects it was Max Mercury, master of speedsters). In the zero issue, he bounces back through his own history, eventually finding himself at that very time and place. For a second he thinks the mysterious figure hasn't shown up, then he realises.
- In another Flash example, during the Crisis of Infinite Earths, Barry Allen runs so fast that he becomes one with the speed force and dies, but not before doing so sends him back in time and he becomes the very lightning strike that knocked the chemicals onto him, giving him his super powers in the first place.
Barry: Electricity always travels in a circuit... and lightning can strike twice in the same place. Oh, boy... can it ever.
- Inverted in Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect, in which the present Hulk is summoned to the future to kill his future self, the Maestro.
- In PS238, Vashi Imperia learned magic as a child when she was kidnapped by an evil witch and managed to nab the witch's spell book when she escaped. Later, as an adult, she is sent back in time to her own childhood. Being savvy enough to realize it, she goes on to intentionally 'kidnap' her past self and letting the child version escape with her backup spell book to make sure the Stable Time Loop is maintained.
- In the first story of the Facing the Future Series, Future Danny and Sam come to the help recapture Dark Danny while at the same time, inspire Sam to become Danny's new partner.
- In It Never Works, Alphonse goes back in time to stop Ed from attempting to get Al's body back (and therefore saving Ed's life). It doesn't work.
- In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kyon's future self sends him helpful texts, but is consistently rude and derogatory toward him. Of course, that's only because his past self is incompetent.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- The Back to the Future trilogy:
- In the original Back to the Future, you can see the "future" Doc Brown (wearing the hat and pushing the bike) departing off screen, just before the 1955 Doc bribes the cop, with his "permit" (a $50 bill).
- Back to the Future Part II:
- Doc Brown pulls Marty from 1985 to help his future son in 2015. He also helps his unsuspecting 1955 counterpart set up the "weather experiment" from the end of Part I.
- A sinister counterpart occurs when Biff Tannen gives a discarded Timeline-Altering MacGuffin to his past self, resulting in a perfect betting win record, and he becomes an Evil Overlord Corrupt Corporate Executive ruler of America in an alternate 1985.
- The plot of Judas Kiss involves a failed filmmaker, Zach, reluctantly returning to his old college to fill in as a student film competition judge. Once there he finds out that one of the competing students is himself, and he's forced to help them both resolve their issues with their abusive dad. This being a time travel film involving gay men, though, that's not all that happens. Then it turns out both were being helped by Zach's future self.
- This is the whole plot of The Kid, where through unexplained means, Bruce Willis' character, Russ, finds his ten-year-old self in his house. Naturally, they don't get along at first, but they both end up helping each other. Then it turns out both were being helped by Russ's future self.
- This is the villain's plan in Men in Black 3: Boris the Animal steals a time machine and goes back to the 1960's to help himself with his mission to prevent a powerful defensive shield from being deployed around the Earth.
- In Zathura, the Astronaut turns out to be the older brother, brought back by the titular board game. He tries to keep his younger self from wishing his brother didn't exist, which got him in that mess in the first place.
- Awake in the Night Land has a variation of it. One of the heroes, Powell, has to team up with several reincarnations of himself, from different ages of the history.
- In the Discworld novel Night Watch, Sam Vimes gets sent into the past and ends up assuming the identity of his mentor, Sergeant John Keel, and in turn gives advice to his younger self. This isn't fulfilling a Stable Time Loop, though, the History Monks explain that it's more a "parallel history" - Vimes really was trained by Keel, except the accident that sent him back in time also sent a serial killer with him who murdered the real Keel, so now Vimes has to make a "good enough" timeline to connect the past he remembers to the future he's trying to return to. When he does, it's hinted that Vetinari knows that Vimes was Keel, because of course he would.
- Tiffany Aching is aided by her older self in I Shall Wear Midnight. Slightly subverted however in that she tells her younger self that each iteration is slightly different.
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, one hundred Dementors circle upon Harry trying to suck out his soul. He tries to summon a Patronus to ward them away but as usual fails. Then a wizard summons one and saves them, and Harry thinks it was his deceased father, going by family resemblance. Later, Harry and Hermione travel back in time, and Harry decides to see who it was who saved them. where Harry realizes it was he that summoned the Patronus and saved himself. He realizes that he mistook himself for his father, and immediately acts, finding that he is able to do so because he knows that he has done it. So, in effect a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation Expanded Universe novel Imzadi, Admiral Riker from the future seeks out his present-day self for help preventing Troi from being murdered.
- In the last book of the Star Trek: Millennium trilogy, the DS9 cast is thrown first into the future, then (after the universe explodes) back to the Day of Withdrawal. Garak hatches a complex plan to save the universe from utter destruction without getting anyone he likes killed in the process. But one Cardassian is a bit too small of a team for such an operation, so he recruits his past self to help out, even arranging for a memory inhibitor to prevent past Garak from remembering the incident, because future Garak doesn't remember it. The novel eventually ends with Garak and the crew of the Defiant arranging things so that history is intact and unchanged up to the moment when they are sent into the future, but enough details have been changed to avert the future timeline they witnessed after that jump.
- The Time Traveler's Wife: The grown-up main character [[teaches his younger self to pick locks and steal wallets, in a classic ontological paradox.
- In Time Twister by Ged Maybury, one of the protagonist's early time-travels lands him in the future, where he meets a man who introduces himself as "Yos" and gives him some hints about what he will be needing to do later. He eventually realises that "Yos" is not a name but an acronym: Your Older Self.
- Robert A. Heinlein loves this trope, though his protagonists sometimes have such a warped definition of "help" that it probably qualifies as an inversion. (See: —All You Zombies—.)
- One Spider Robinson story involves a researcher trying to invent time-travel; when her duplicate shows up, she assumes it's this trope. It's actually her resentful previously-unknown twin, intending to screw up her sister's happy life.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Hell's Bells", Xander is accosted by his future self, who turns out to be not his future self, but in fact a demon trying to disrupt Anya's wedding.
- In several episodes of The Dead Zone, John Smith is "haunted" by a mysterious figure in a cloak and hood, who, it is later revealed, is John Smith himself, in some possible future, disfigured by fire (or radiation burns) and communicating by way of touching the handle of John's cane. The "present" John Smith finally breaks the communication link by throwing away the cane, and apparently walks without the cane from that point forward.
- Doctor Who:
- This is the plot of "The Three Doctors". The Time Lords decide the Doctor is the only one who can save Gallifrey, and they decide to send someone to help him: himself (his second incarnation).
- "The Impossible Astronaut" has the Eleventh Doctor send an anonymous letter to his past self summoning him, along with Amy, Rory, and River, to where he dies a couple scenes before to investigate.
- Inverted in "The Day of the Doctor", where the Moment summons the War Doctor's future incarnations, the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, in order to help him make the decision about whether or not to end the Time War by destroying Gallifrey.
- At the end of "Deep Breath", Clara is still having difficulty accepting the new Twelfth Doctor... Until the Eleventh calls her from the past. He helps her come to terms with losing him, while at the same time helping her understand that she hasn't lost him. He's still right there in front of her, at least as frightened as she is and needing her friendship more than ever.
- In the Den-O Trilogy: Episode Yellow, Kamen Rider Diend travels back in time to correct a theft gone sour. In the process he runs into his past self, and after a brief confrontation they work together to fight off an enemy before past-Diend takes the stolen object and sneaks off with it. Present-Diend remarks to himself "Just what I'd expect from the past me."
- Red Dwarf:
- In the episode "Stasis Leak", the crew attempt to go back in time so that Lister/Rimmer can save Kochanski/Rimmer's younger self from the imminent radiation leak, but Rimmer's past self believes that his future self is just a hallucination caused by the younger Lister feeding him hallucinogenic mushrooms.
- In the episode "The Inquisitor", Lister and Kryten are about to be erased from existence by the deranged Inquisitor when Kryten's future self appears and distracts the Inquisitor, although he is subsequently killed as he is telling Lister and his past self what to do (this sacrifice is undone at the end of the episode).
- Sliders played with this a little. There was an episode where the gang landed on an Earth that rotated at a slightly slower speed than their Earth (the year is 1996, but the events going on in that world are consistent with the year 1984 for them). Quinn meets himself as a boy, shortly after the death of his father. Young Quinn is being bullied at school, and Quinn teaches him how to fight.
- Smallville: In "Homecoming", Clark travels forward several years to the Daily Planet, and meets with his future self (who at this point is already Superman). Future Clark then tells him to go to the roof to save Lois while he prevents a nuclear reactor meltdown across town. The catch here was that Future Clark was already expecting his past self, because he himself had already gone through it.
- O'Brien manages to save his own life a couple of times in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's "Visionary". Then it gets complicated.
- Kids Praise: In the seventh album where they travel through time, the last stop Psalty and the kids make before getting back to the present is in the 1950s when Psalty was himself young. The adult Psalty helps to inspire him, and they share a duet.
- Played with in Betrayal at House on the Hill with a pair of Event cards, where your character recognizes their reflection in a mirror as their past or future self. In one case, you give an item to your past self, while your future self gives you an item.
- Given a deadly twist by the Dungeons & Dragons monster known as the Phane. These misbegotten spawn of gods of time and space have the ability to summon temporal duplicates of their opponents from parallel pasts, which are slightly less-skilled but otherwise identical to them, except totally loyal to the Phane who called them. Killing these temporal doppelgangers won't cause the Phane's opponents to wink out of existence, but it will probably leave them shaken for a few rounds.
- Inverted in Warhammer 40,000's background. When Waaagh! Grizgutz was getting underway, a Warp Storm threw the fleet back to shortly before it left. Despite realizing he would be essentially fighting himself, Warlord Grizgutz decided to kill his past self so he'd have two sets of his favorite gun. In the resulting confusion, his Waaagh! disbanded.
- In Achron sending your units from the future to reinforce themselves in the past is actually a fairly basic and common strategy.
- In Dragon Quest V, you meet an NPC who has an aged up sprite of the Hero during the prologue, who asks to briefly see the McGuffin you just acquired. This relic is later destroyed by The Dragon. Much later in the game, you go back in time with a mundane look alike of said McGuffin and swap it with your younger self, since you need the relic in the future, meaning The Dragon destroyed the fake, without anybody realizing it, yourself included.
- In Escape from Monkey Island, Guybrush travels through the marshes of time, and eventually meets his future self, who gives him a bunch of useful items — which he winds up having to give to his past self before he actually gets to use any of them. And when he does, failure to say the right thing or give the items in the right order naturally causes a Temporal Paradox.
- Final Fantasy XIII-2: People in Valhalla, a world outside of proper history, are able to reach out to people across the timeline in their dreams. Caius Ballad abuses this by communicating with his OWN PAST SELVES from his vantage point in Valhalla. And since Caius has been immortal for a couple thousand years, there's a lot of past selves to contact.
- In Gradius V, one level has you flying alongside another Vic Viper; at the end of the game, you're catapulted back in time, and it turns out you were the other Vic Viper (your past doppelganger will even do exactly what you did the first time!).
- What your future self does in The Journeyman Project 2: Buried In Time, since he was framed by a rogue TSA agent, and the only way out was his past self from 2319. He gives you his Jumpsuit and sends you 9 years forward in time, while he himself goes to jail without protest. Since the Jumpsuit has a cloaking device, nobody else noticed you were there.
- Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance: Xehanort took advantage of his body-less state as a Heartless to slip into the past and recruit his own boyhood self for his latest scheme involving Sora and Riku's journey through dreams. And it doesn't stop there; Young Xehanort was tasked with gathering other Xehanorts from across time; the end result was TWELVE Xehanorts, including the final bosses of the first two proper games, all gathering to fulfill the present Xehanort's desire for "thirteen Seekers of Darkness"... with Sora as the thirteenth and final vessel. Yen Sid's jaw dropped when he realized what Xehanort was capable of pulling off.
- "I am you from the future, there's No Time to Explain, follow me to the- OH CHRIST!!!"
- Ōkami pulls off both the past and future version of this - Amaterasu shows up in the past to fulfill a legend and defeat Orochi in place of your more powerful earlier incarnation, Shiranui, who at the time is off helping you fight Nechku some time later in the game. After defeating Nechku, Shiranui travels back in time to where you are and saves the hero Nagi by throwing herself in front of a falling rock. Amaterasu then returns to the present to fight Nechku with Shiranui. Confused yet?
- Professor Layton and the Lost Future has you setting out to help future Luke Triton defeat future Herschel Layton. But this is Professor Layton of course, so if you weren't expecting some sort of plot twist, then...
- Inverted in Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, where you have to doom your past-self as the Sand Wraith.
- Though played straight, albeit indirectly, at one point: an early encounter with the Sand Wraith has him nearly kill the Prince with a well-thrown axe. Later, the scene is re-done from the Sand Wraith's perspective, and we find out that he actually saved the Prince from a backstab with a very well-thrown axe.
- Every level in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect has a point where you're helped out by your future self, after which you complete the loop by going back and helping your past self. There's even a section where there are four of you working together to open a door, and the player has to keep time traveling to play out all four roles.
- In two quests from the Bronze Dragonflight in World of Warcraft, you Help Yourself. In the first, "Future You" is brought to help defend the Hourglass of Eternity. In the second, you help "Past You" fight off the Infinite, who are after you from the past because you helped the you from the future...
- Also, both "You"s are dicks. Future You makes comments such as "I fought like this? No wonder I turned to drinking..." while Past You one makes fun of your equipment. They're also idiots too stupid to use ranged weapons as Hunters or shift into caster form as Druids.
- Done in 8-Bit Theater, with Sarda and the Onion Kid
Thief: Well, I deserve this.
- And Inverted with Thief who stole his class change from his own future self. While paying so little attention to the situation his future self will be in at the time that not only does he not realize it's a situation where he really needs the powers granted to him by his class change, but his future self doesn't realize he's about to get his class change stolen.
- This created the Stable Time Loop that eventually led to the "Surreptious Machinations" arc of General Protection Fault. Bad Future Empress Trudy first communicates anonymously with her past self to help set up her world conquest, and eventually just drops all pretense, traveling back in time to give her younger self step-by-step instructions on how to become empress.
- In Li'l Mell, Sergio purposely travels back in time to influence his own childhood development. However, since he lives in a universe where changing the timestream leaves his memories intact, he doesn't actually have any memories of the mysterious substitute teacher who took an interest in him as a child.
- Done with Dave and Future Dave in Narbonic. Be sure to fill up the swimming pool!
- In an episode of Ben 10, Ben is sent to the future to help himself (Ben 10,000), although his future self thinks he'll only get in the way. Despite the fact that he should really remember being his younger self on that trip...
- In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Ben accidentally brings his 10 year old self to the future, resulting in the two teaming up.
- Notable in this second one, its explained that the first time it was an alternate dimension version of older Ben, and that's why he didn't remember being the younger self on that trip. The second older Ben explicitly does remember this meeting as his younger self but doesn't remember all the specifics.
- However in Ben 10: Omniverse, it is confirmed that the first Ben 10,000 from the Original Series is still canon to the Main Timeline and he comes to the present toward the end of the episode Ben Again to caution present Ben about the Time War.
- In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Ben accidentally brings his 10 year old self to the future, resulting in the two teaming up.
- The Planeteers of Captain Planet do this one pretty straight in one of their episode.
- The Darkwing Duck episode 'Paraducks' leaves us with the implication that Darkwing was his own inspiration to become a superhero.
- The Dexter's Laboratory special Ego Trip features Dexter traveling to the future and assisting his future selves in battle against Mandark and his future selves.
- Family Guy has Stewie traveling to the future to help his loser, socially inept future self.
- Gargoyles: David Xanatos, Chessmaster and Fiction 500 Corrupt Corporate Executive, comes from a very poor family, but he received a rare and valuable medieval coin from an Anonymous Benefactor on his 18th birthday, which was the seed money for the corporate empire. His father Petros is still the same humble fisherman he was when David was a child, and is contemptuous of David's fortune having come from absolutely nowhere in the form of that coin. At his own wedding, David — and several other characters — are thrown back in time to medieval times, where he obtains a coin... and then uses his Illuminati contacts to ensure that it'll be sent to him anonymously on his 18th birthday. He also wrote a second letter, to be delivered to himself a week before his wedding, explaining just where that coin came from and what he had to do to ensure that it happened again. When David gloats that he is in effect a "Self-Made Man", his father points out that David sent a rather lengthy letter along with that coin — future investment advice - meaning he's even more of a lazy cheat than Petros originally thought he was.
- In the Jackie Chan Adventures episode "J2: Revisited" Jade ends up in the future and runs into her future self, who had just been demoted from an agent to an office job. Through the course of the episode present-day Jade at first helps future Jade get fired from Section 13 before building up her confidence and reminding her of who she once was, which helps to get her old office job back.
- The three-part Kim Possible story "A Sitch in Time" is ultimately driven by Shego using the Tempus Simia to carry out the plan given to her by her future self.
- Sealab 2021: Parodied in "Lost in Time", in which Quinn and Stormy are repeatedly sent back in time by a freak explosion, repeatedly try (and fail) to warn their past selves about the danger, and repeatedly get thrown in the brig. When they finally break the loop, Quinn proposes using his army of genius time duplicates to solve all the world's problems. Captain Murphy vetoes that in favor of his own plan - putting all the time clones through gladiatorial combat.
- In the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "Yesteryear," Spock realizes that his "distant cousin" that helped him in the past was, in fact, himself.
- In a subversion of the trope, however, he fails to accomplish everything he remembers his "distant cousin" doing, leading to a 'present' that's slightly worse than he remembers it. His childhood pet is fatally injured in the attack he saved himself from.
- In an episode of Static Shock, Static "accidentally" travels to the future and is roped into rescuing one of Earth's greatest heroes (it's none other than Static).