Make Wrong What Once Went Right
"With the clock under my control, I'll be able to wrong all the rights in the universe! Every villain who has ever stumbled will get a do-over; every protagonist's triumph will be reversed
! Until finally, a new present is created, in which the heroes always LOSE!
Most time travelers have a motivation. Usually, they're trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong
. But there are many who are out to do the exact opposite: Make Wrong What Once Went Right. They could be anything from a time-traveling Stupid Jetpack Hitler
, a nefarious Conqueror From The Future
, a (not necessarily but usually) Magnificent Bastard
who wants to rearrange history in his favor, or a Jerk Ass
who decides to mess with time for his own entertainment
. Sometimes a traveler with these goals is a protagonist: in this case, they are generally of the third kind. When paired up or teamed with a more ethical time traveler hilarity can ensue
Note that it does not need to be 'setting wrong' from the point of view of the traveler himself, e.g. a time-traveling Neo-Nazi from the year 4242 would have no qualms with making the Nazis win WWII
This sort of activity is often opposed
by the Time Police
, although sometimes they are guilty of it themselves.
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Anime and Manga
- On Flint the Time Detective, the main characters travel back in time to fix the problems caused in the time line when the Time Shifters were scattered. However, the villain, Petrafina, usually planned to use the Shifters' power for her own gain in whatever particular time period she was in.
- The Rave Master world is a case of Set Right What Once Went Wrong, the late-story villains are doing everything in their power to undo that and restore the "True" world, a barren wasteland.
- Yugi, Judai and Yusei view Paradox's goals as this in Yu-Gi-Oh! Tenth Anniversary Movie. Paradox's endgame plan is to go back in time and murder Pegasus, preventing Duel Monsters from existing.
- It's possible to do this in Chrononauts. While some of the changes players can make to history are beneficial, they can lead to some undesired side effects. Most notably, sabotaging the Manhattan Project and Sputnik opens the door for the Cuban Missile Crisis to transform into a full-blown, humanity-annihilating World War 3...which is just fine as far as Squa Tront, the hyperintelligent cockroach from a fallout-mutated future, is concerned.
- In the MMO Game, Urban Rivals, the Vortex Clan are a group of time travelers who have traveled 10,000 years into the past to eliminate all the threats to their plan to take over Clint City.
- Bedlam, the kid-villain who was responsible for Young Justice coming together, uses Impulse's time-traveling clones (a power he had at the time, but which was later ignored) to mess up everyone's origins, creating a universe where, for all intents and purposes, Superboy and Robin don't exist, and the remaining members of the team are a dangerous mix of amoral and incompetent.
- The ultimate objective of The Organization in Paperinik New Adventures is to create a future where they rule uncontested from shadows. Being their best agent, the Raider attempted to do it in his first appearance by assembling a device that would take the timeline off the rails and let him choose the new one (as he knew how difficult was to find the right event to alter to get the 'right' timeline), but was stopped at the last moment. The Organization later succeeds by chance, as when the Griffin (actually the Raider's son in a timeline where the Raider died saving Paperinik and the Organization raised him thinking it had been Pk's fault) destroyed Paperinik's reputation and nearly killed him he accidentally set off a series of events that ended with the Time Police replaced by a front of the Organization, but that timeline was erased when Odin Eidolon took Trip (the Raider's son) just before the Raider went in the mission that killed him and brought him back in time, resulting in the Raider suspending the mission to search for his son (and annulling it after he learned what would happen to Trip if he went through it) and Trip swearing he'd never become like the Griffin.
- In Queen Of All Oni, Drago comes back in time from some unspecified point in the future in order to eliminate Jade and other potential threats to his own rule in the future.
- The Pony POV Series has Nightmare Eclipse/Paradox, whose plan is to have each Dark World time loop end with Twilight going Nightmare and becoming her to perpetuate the "Groundhog Day" Loop. If any other outcome occurs, including Twilight saving the world without doing that, Paradox herself interferes in such a way to force Twilight to, even if the end result would've been a good outcome or actually Set Right What Once Went Wrong and prevent Discord's reign. This is especially notable because her original motivation was to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, but she allowed herself to be consumed by vengeance on Discord, forgetting why she started in the first place..
- In the Shining Armor Arc, it eventually turns out that the Hooviet Empire was supposed to have imploded decades ago, but General-Admiral Makarov — in actuality a reality bending imagination demon called the Shadow of Chernobull — influenced and manipulated events to prevent that, thus having the ripple effect of making the world a much darker place than it would be without Makarov's influence. It thus becomes the goal of Shining Armor and the Anti-Hooviet Rebels to Ret Gone him from existence.
Film - Animated
- The whole plot of Cinderella III: A Twist in Time is the Evil Stepmother gaining control over the Fairy Godmother's wand and using it to travel back in time to erase Cinderella's happy ending.
Film - Live Action
- Star Trek: First Contact. The Borg go back in time to try to prevent the first contact between Vulcan and Earth that led to the formation of the Federation.
- In Back To The Future Part II, Biff goes back in time to make his younger self rich. This might not be a Make Wrong What Once Went Right, at least not from his perspective, but it does turn the city into a hellhole. The only person who benefitted in any way is Biff, who just about owns everything.
- Plus, according to Word of God, even Biff might have lived to regret it: the reason why he's clutching his chest as he gets out of the DeLorean in 2015 is that he was so awful that Lorraine shot him dead sometime in the 90s, so he's no longer alive in that timeline, which is in the process of changing the world around him into a dystopian 2015.
- The Terminator. Evil cyborg gets sent back in time to kill the mother of the leader of the human resistance. See also Terminator Twosome.
- The villain in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, De Nomolos, seeks to prevent the future Crystal Spires and Togas utopia the protagonists paved the way for in the first film.
- The movie Primer has its two main protagonists engaging in a war to determine which of them will be in control of the timeline that their particular brand of time travel has created. Not only are they fighting each other, they're also fighting, drugging and manipulating multiple copies of themselves that were inadvertently (and sometimes purposely) created during the course of their time travel experiments.
- In The Undead Professor Quintis originally goes back in time to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, but out of nowhere he suddenly decides to screw around with the timeline just for the hell of it.
- In the film version of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time , this is the villain's big plan; when he was a boy, he saved the future king (his older brother) from being killed by a lion, so he wants to use the time-warping powers of the Dagger and the Hourglass to turn back time to that moment and let his older brother die, so that he would become king.
- In Men In Black III, the main antagonist travels back in time to save his arm, which was shot off by Agent K. And the reason K did that was to stop the guy's planet-devouring species, the Boglodites, from devouring Earth. In the original timeline, K's actions lead to the near-extinction of said aliens; the antagonist changes this so that, years later, the Boglodites are back and hungry.
- Tomorrow I'll Wake Up and Scald Myself With Tea deals with a group of aging Nazis who attempt to present Hitler with a hydrogen bomb. They bribe a corrupt time machine pilot to send them back in 1944. The machine takes them back to 1941 instead, when the Germans are standing in the gates of Moscow. They end up getting executed by Hitler, but not before showing him the future (the fall of Berlin and the subsequent Nuremberg Trials).
- Dean Koontz's Lightning. Nazis try to change history so they can win World War 2. Although there's a twist: They're not Nazis from the future traveling to the past, as one might expect. They're Nazis from the past (i.e., a Nazi scientist in 1940 or so actually invented the time machine) traveling to the future to figure out how they lost and bring back information and other stuff to help them win.
- That twist feeds into an interesting case of Set Right What Once Went Wrong, where the protagonists tells Winston Churchill about the Cold War, an action that means the Allies keep on pushing east, driving the Soviets of the map in Eastern Europe, preventing that long conflict from ever taking place.
- Fridge Logic Churchill never trusted the Soviets in the first place. How would telling him about the cold war change his politics at all?
- Yes, but there's plenty of room to alter how he deals with that threat.
- Harry Turtledove's The Guns of the South. Time traveling racist Afrikaaners aid the Confederacy so it wins The American Civil War, hoping to create a strong ally that advocates White Power. It starts going Off the Rails when they can't arrive until 1864 (after the first black regiments distinguished themselves), prominent Confederates like Robert E. Lee begin moving to take steps to weaken slavery, and then enters into Nice Job Fixing It, Villain when they try to use blackmail and violence to get what they want, turning the Confederates completely against them.
- Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World. The arch villain "He" tries to change the past to eliminate the Special Corps, the only organization capable of thwarting him.
- One of the changes he seemingly makes is to give Napoleon's army advanced artillery. Since Napoleon was already an artillery genius, this allows him to easily beat all the nations allied against him. Then it turns out "He" created this pocket universe specifically to lure the protagonist and trap him there as the universe collapses.
- This was once a plot point in Animorphs, with a villain getting hold of the Time Matrix and trying to alter human history so Earth would be easier for the Yeerks to conquer. The book in question starts in a version of Earth where he succeeded. He did, however, sometimes suffer a minor inconvenience during his travels when changes he had already made prevented him from being in the right place at the right time - like when he went to kill Einstein, but Einstein had never come to America, or give the Nazi's a victory at D-day, but only to find out that Nazi Germany never even existed.
- In Soon I Will Be Invincible, Lily started out trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Then she succeeded, realized she liked things better the other way, and became a supervillain in the past to try to mess things up again. At least, that's what she tells people.
- Jack Chalker's Downtiming the Nightside is about a temporal war where conditions in the present whipsaw back and forth as victories alternate between the side that wants to Make Wrong What Once Went Right and the side that wants to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
- As one might expect, many of the antagonists in Simon Hawke's Time Wars series have this motivation.
- Most of the books in the Warlock of Gramarye series are a fight between two time-traveling political factions, the ones who want to foster democracy all over the galaxy and the ones who oppose it. Sometimes, as in the case of Rod's oldest son, the bad guys win.
- In the second Incarnations of Immortality book, Bearing An Hourglass, Satan tries to trick Chronos into stopping Zane from attempting sucide, which would erase Thanatos from existence. Then, demons follow Chronos on his trips through time and screw with history.
- In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol stories, the villains often are after this. Once, the heroes have to do, and Manse realizes that they are not protecting the "real" history but the history that leads to them.
- In The Extraordinaires, the last surviving Neanderthals plan to travel back in time and wipe out homo sapiens before humans become numerous and powerful enough to challenge the Neanderthals.
- James P Hogan's The Proteus Operation has this, with malevolent time-travelers from the future giving Hitler nuclear weapons. The book begins in the 1970s, with the US, Canada, and Australia as the only parts of the world still resisting Hitler. They then find out about the whole time travel thing, and build their own machine to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. It turns out that in the original timeline, Hitler never even came to power. The Americans don't stop Hitler from starting World War II, but they do stop him from getting nukes. The end result is our history, where Hitler rose to power, but was defeated.
- In Barbara Hambly's Star Trek novel Ishmael, the Klingons time-travel back to the 1800s to kill a man who prevented an alien empire from taking over the Earth. Due to the intervention of Spock and the Enterprise crew, all they end up doing is alerting the man that aliens exist and thereby creating the event they were trying to stop.
- The Last Dragon Chronicles: Oh, Gwilanna. Why does this always crop up whenever you appear?
Live Action TV
- Star Trek: Enterprise is full of this, what with their Temporal Cold War and all. The entire third season is riddled with malicious time travel.
- Subverted in the Season Four pilot, "Storm Front". At first, it looks like Nazi aliens came back in time and helped Nazi Germany defeat Britain and invade the US. It turns out that these aliens had nothing to do with it - the altered timeline was the result of some other time traveler killing Lenin in 1916, preventing the rise of the Soviet Union. The current crop of aliens, while having their own Nazi-esque ideology, are just using our Nazis as pawns to help them build their own time machine so they can take over history. The Nazis do get some Stukas with plasma cannons out of the deal, but they get into a dogfight with the Enterprise.
- Big Wolf on Campus had a Russian agent go through a time portal to make his country win the Cold War.
- In Quantum Leap there was a story arc with an "Evil Leaper" whose job was to set wrong what once went right. Eventually the first evil Leaper gets redeemed by Sam, leading to a second evil Leaper sent to retrieve her.
- Also, in one episode, The Devil himself manifests and admits this trope to Sam (though it ended up being just a dream).
- In Tru Calling, Jack Harper, Tru Davies' Evil Counterpart has this ability. Tru goes back in time 24 hours to save someone who died in the "original" reality, while Jack tries to make sure reality doesn't change. Which one is "good" and which is "evil" can be argued.
- Unbeknownst to Tru, this ability also belonged to her father, who murdered her mother to prevent her from saving people.
- The Meddling Monk from Doctor Who wanted to mess with history just to see what would happen. He planned to wipe out the Viking fleet with atomic bazookas, thereby leaving King Harold and his troops fresh when they fought the Norman invasion in 1066.
- This is the Trickster's whole shin-dig - change the universe in tiny, little ways, and completely alter history. Notable examples would be making young Sarah Jane Smith die instead of her friend, or making it so Donna never met the Doctor who then died because she wasn't there to shock him out of his Heroic BSOD.
- The Daleks entire motivation, right behind universal genocide.
- The Great Intelligence attempted this as a form of revenge, using the Doctor's grave to simultaneously ruin every effort the Doctor had made to save people.
- Due to the Tenth Doctor having Harriet Jones ousted from office in a fit of pique, this averted the Golden Age of Britain that she was meant to reside over, mentioned by his previous incarnation. This left the seat of Prime Minister wide-open for The Master to waltz into power under the guise of Harold Saxon, as well as being succeeded by Brian Green. Suddenly Harriet doesn't seem so bad, does she?!
- Played for laughs in the Blackadder Back and Forth special. It ends with 21st Century!Blackadder as the King of England, and he was able to sabotage the roundheads to make himself an absolute monarch...because he manipulated history to put himself on the throne, also giving Baldrick the figurehead position as Prime Minister.
- In a Married... with Children Christmas Episode, Al's guardian angel comes to Al and shows his family's life would have turned out if he had never been born with Peg having the same kids even if she married a different man, screw genetics!), parodying the movie It's a Wonderful Life. Peg and the kids turn out to be happier, richer, smarter, and probably kinder. Al however, being upset by the sheer happiness in which his family would live without him, demanded to return out of sheer spite. And they all lived again in their hell tormenting each other ever after.
- On an episode of The Wild Wild West, Ricardo Montalbán plays a Confederate colonel who lost his legs at the Battle of Vicksburg and plans to use his new Time Travel powers to go back and assassinate General Grant, thus changing the course of the battle and, he hopes, the war.
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys has an interesting variation in the two-part episode "Armageddon Now" when villain Callisto is sent back in time by Hope to kill Hercules's mother to prevent his being born. While this is clearly an example of Make Wrong What Once Went Right, Callisto agrees to commit the heinous act in exchange for the chance to prevent her parents from being killed by Xena's army.
- In Eureka, in the season one finale, it's revealed that the reason why history was starting to unravel in 2010 was because Henry used Mental Time Travel to go back to 2006 and save Kim from an accident. Carter is forced to go back and stop him, causing her death and erasing the last four years of his life, including his marriage to Allison.
- In the Doctor Who radio serial "The Architects of History", the TARDIS has been stolen by a Nazi scientist from an alternate timeline where the Axis won World War II. Originally her goal is to restore her own timeline, but instead she ends up creating a new alternate timeline, where she uses time travel to enforce Nazi rule by preventing rebellions before they can happen.
- Pacesetter Games' Timemaster game. The alien Demoreans are trying to change humanity's past to bring their twisted schemes to fruition.
- In GURPS Time Travel, two possible futures (represented by the Timepiece and Stopwatch organizations) try to prevent each from coming into existence by manipulating past events.
- In Twice Charmed, Lady Tremaine's Wicked Fairy Godfather sends her and her daughters back in time to break both of Cinderella's shoes.
- An elementary offensive tactic in Achron. Usually leads to your victim making defensive maneuvers.
- Freedom Force Vs The Third Reich: the supervillain Blitzkrieg uses Timemaster's comatose body to back in time and give Energy X to the Axis forces, causing them to win WWII.
- Kronolog: The Nazi Paradox: Nazi future, atom bomb plans, WWII.
- In Fate/stay night, Archer wants to kill his past self, hopefully causing a Time Paradox that could erase himself from existence. Failing that, at least he'll keep his past self from having to live through what he did, prove to himself (both past and present) that what he did was the wrong thing, and express some of his own self-loathing by beating the crap out of the very epitome of the naivety that caused him to get that way. It should also be noted that from said time-traveler's point of view, this is a perfectly valid, nay, merciful thing to do — the future that waits down that path is that crappy.
- The Command & Conquer Red Alert series is about many attempts to mess with the timeline in order to prevent the other side from getting their secret weapons (such as the atomic bomb and Time Travel itself.)
- Interestingly, when Emperor Yoshiro finds out that his Empire of the Rising Sun was never supposed to exist, he has a Villainous BSOD (or Heroic BSOD, YMMV) about the destiny of the Japanese people. Fortunately for him, his son Tatsu doesn't have such ideals and is willing to continue the fight.
- An interesting (though poorly implemented) variation in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). Silver tries to go back in time and prevent the release of the demon Iblis, but he very foolishly gets his information about the past from Mephiles—a monster who wants Iblis freed, and who lies so that Silver, acting on this advice, causes the very calamity he's trying to prevent. (Or, would have caused, if Silver's target were anyone other than Sonic the Hedgehog.)
- In World of Warcraft, the Infinite Dragonflight pretends to be trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, once to prevent the first orc invasion and another time to stop then-prince Arthas from slaughtering the citizens of Stratholme, his first step to becoming the Lich King. However, as they also try to kill Thrall before he can reform the Horde and help save the world, it becomes clear that they are not as altruistic as they say. Their true goal is actually to cause a series of events that would lead to the end of the world, of time and of everything and everyone. Though according to their leader, this is still better than the alternative. But he's insane, so nobody knows for sure.
Chrono Lord Deja (referring to Medivh opening the Dark Portal): Why do you aid the Magus? Just think of how many lives could be saved if the portal is never opened, if the resulting wars could be erased...
Chrono Lord Epoch: Prince Arthas Menethil, on this day, a powerful darkness has taken hold of your soul. The death you are destined to visit upon others will this day be your own.
- According to Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects, the Infinites have a much more specific goal than the more broad end of the world: Erasing Thrall from the timeline, as he is the one who stops Deathwing. both Deathwing and the Infinite Dragonflight serve the Old Gods and so are loosely allied. Though what the Culling of Stratholme has to do with that isn't exactly clear.
- In Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time, Dr. Nefarious's ultimate goal is to use the Great Clock to go back in time and not only undo his previous defeat at Ratchet and Clank's hands, but make it so that, after sufficient meddling with the time continuum, a universe has been created where heroes have ALWAYS lost and will ALWAYS lose to the villains. He proclaims this with his usual hamminess, of course.
- The premise of the popular Half-Life Timeline mod trilogy. Scientists at Black Mesa discovered time travel as a corollary to the dimensional portal technology they were working on... and gave it to the Nazis, allowing the Nazis to win WWII, build a timeship fleet, establish bases at key points in history and even invade parallel Earths.
- Atropos in God of War 2 goes back to when Kratos and Ares are fighting to attempt to destroy the sword that allows Kratos to win the fight, thus having him die to Ares.
- The player actually does this inadvertently at the start of Singularity due to time travel. Instead of the Big Bad dying in a fire, we save him, which results in the USSR taking over the world... oops. The player then spends the rest of the game trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, but in the end, the game designers give the player the choice to Take a Third Option in addition to the usual Paragon and Renegade choices.
- The Big Bad of Time Hollow does this a lot.
- The Big Bad of Time Quest does this even more often. Just about the whole game is about undoing the tampering he's done (unless you want to leave the plot and use your time machine as a replicator instead).
- Conversely, in Jigsaw, the Big Bad Black is trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Unfortunately, doing so would screw up the timestream, so you are forced to do this trope instead, causing major disasters throughout the twentieth century.
- Specter used a time machine to go back in time and make primates the dominant race in the original Ape Escape.
- City of Heroes has a bit of a Grey and Grey Morality example: A future version of Nemesis, one of the Big Bads of the game, prevents Rularuu, the Biggest bad, from being completely destroyed by the Midnight Squad (the preeminent good guys) in the past, as he believes that keeping Rularuu alive will help against the Battilion (who are apparently even a bigger bad that Rularuu, if that's possible). Whether Future!Nemesis can be trusted in this, only time will tell...
- A lot of the plot of Radiant Historia is caused by someone doing this to try to bring about the end of the world. Most of what Stocke does throughout the story is to counteract the effects of their actions.
- The "Origin Crisis" DLC for DC Universe Online can have you (if you're a bad guy) mess around with the origins of various superheroes.
- In the Kim Possible special A Sitch in Time, the main villains try to use time-travel to prevent Kim from becoming a hero by undermining her self-confidence during her early childhood years.
- Shego accomplishes this by sending Ron's family to Norway, effectively breaking up Team Possible.
- A recurring skit on one episode of Robot Chicken featured a time traveler causing all sorts of chaos across history, aptly titled "Dicks with Time Machines." Until he ends World War II by publicly humiliating Adolf Hitler, whereupon the skit is instead titled "Heroes with Time Machines."
- In Transformers: Beast Wars, Megatron's ultimate goal is revealed to be this trope, as he used Transwarp energy to travel to prehistoric earth to assure that the Predacon's ancestors, the Decepticons, win the war against the Autobots. In the final part of the three-parter The Agenda, it all leads to Megatron unleashing a full-powered blast at Optimus Prime's head.
- Tarantulus also has this reason for following Megatron. He wanted to kill all the Autobots and Deceptacons aboard the Ark. This would wipe out their descendants, the Maximals and the Predacons, but since Tarantulus has a different origin, he'd be fine. He is killed before his plan comes close to fruition though.
- Megatron also tried to exterminate the ancestors of humanity since humans helped the Autobots defeat the Decepticons. He actually tested whether or not he was stuck in a Stable Time Loop by blowing up a mountain. When the image of the mountain on the Golden Disk changed appropriately, Megatron realized that the past wasn't set in stone. Fortunately, Dinobot shattered the Golden Disk to prevent Megatron from freely manipulating Earth's history though a big enough fragment still revealed the location of the Ark.
- In the Challenge of the Super Friends episode Secret Origins of the Superfriends, the Legion of Doom interfere with the origins of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Hal Jordan to erase them from existence.
- This is Bowler Hat Guy's entire motivation for his time-travelling villainy in Meet the Robinsons. He isn't too good at it, but unfortunately his "sidekick" Doris the robotic hat is. The protagonist manages to fix the timestream, though.
- In one episode of Aladdin: The Series, Abis Maul goes back in time to help his own ancestor found Agrabah and in turn become Sultan rather than Jasmine's family.
- The Israeli satire series M.K. 22 featured an episode in which the resident Big Bad, a Bedouin who is secretly a terrorist, goes back in time to try and drive the Jews away from Palestine and prevent the establishment of the State of Israel in several different points in time: he tries to kill Moses with a bazooka, King David (before his coronation, during his fight with Goliath) with a rifle, and King Solomon with a thrown axe, and to convince Theodor Herzl not to found a Jewish state. All of his attempts have the opposite outcome, accidentally causing a Stable Time Loop: the bazooka hits the rock in the desert that produces water for the peoplenote , making Moses, who was planning to flee with his brother, a hero; the bullet hits Goliath instead of David; the axe cuts the baby from the Judgment of Solomon in half, portraying the unattentive King Solomon as a hero; and Herzl had never thought about founding a Jewish state beforehand.
- Chainsaw Suit has the recurring Time Ruiner, whose antics are all fun and games until someone gets hit in the chest.
- In Sluggy Freelance Dr Irving Schlock went back in time just to hide out. Although his presence helped avert a zombie invasion he still made things worse when he reduced all of humanity to a drugged out single city constanty under threat of destruction by mutants in 4UCity. His prime reality counterpart is on the same path.
- One Subnormality strip has two Nazi time travelers traveling back in time to kill President Roosevelt. Unluckily for them, they picked the wrong damn Roosevelt.