Travel between different universes can be a tricky thing
. Sometimes, time passes more quickly in your home universe
, so that when you return from a trip to another one, everyone you know is dead. Other times, you can spend weeks, months, or even years in another world
and come back only a short time after you left.
Sometimes, however, the relative movement of time isn't that consistent. You might be able to re-enter your universe at any point you choose, effectively combining dimensional travel with Time Travel
. Other times, the relative flow of time between the two universes is out of your control: you might return at the exact moment you left, hundreds of years in the past or future, or anywhere in between. And the next time you make the same trip, the results might be radically different. These time jumps could be random
, or they might be revealed to serve some higher purpose or destiny.
This is Narnia Time, when the relative flow of time between two or more different universes changes to serve the needs of the plot.
May include or
contrast with Year Inside, Hour Outside and Year Outside, Hour Inside
. Can also cause Time Travel Tense Trouble
. See also Timey-Wimey Ball
. Compare with San Dimas Time
where time passing in the "home" universe is equal to that experienced by the time travelers.
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Anime & Manga
- In Vision of Escaflowne, the relative flow of time between Gaia and Earth seemingly follows no logic whatsoever. At first, time seems to move at roughly the same speed in both worlds, and traveler Hitomi is even able to receive a page on Gaia at the exact same time it was sent on Earth. Then, time seems to be moving faster on Earth when it's revealed that Hitomi's grandmother traveled there as a girl at least thirty years ago Earth time, but only enough time had passed on Gaia for Allen to age from a youth to a young man (perhaps ten years max). Then, when Hitomi returns to Earth, she is transported to a point before she even left, which is about where you stop worrying about it.
- Yuu Watase has gone on record as saying this is how the time difference between the real world, and world of The Universe of the Four Gods works in Fushigi Yuugi works. Basically the relative time difference depends on the text in the book, meaning that time doesn't move at a fixed rate - a few paragraphs could cover minutes, days, or months. So if the sentence "And a year passed." appeared, people inside will have lived a year in less than a second outside.
- The second season of Corrector Yui had the Com-Net marching at 256 times the speed of real time, allowing people to do tasks that would normally last days (or months) into a few hours. This is mentioned in a certain episode when Yui is required to finish up a self-published manga (which, Yui being what she is, forgets to do so).
- In Digimon Adventure, time originally passed very quickly in the Digital World meaning that the gang could spend several decades (or maybe centuries, Izzy calculated it in the last episode) in the Digital World while only a month or two would pass in our world. However, time in the two worlds were synchronized after the final boss was destroyed.
- Catnapped features a world, Banipal Witt, where an entire day there (measured in a series of balls and grains, manually reset, in a complex hourglass) is equivalent to three minutes in the human world. However, the time passing is inconsistent in the movie itself, so there's no real knowing if that correlation is correct.
- Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror establishes at the end that no time whatsoever passed while Haru was on the island.
- In Star Trek: Generations, Picard, Kirk, and Guinan all meet inside the Nexus within hours after arriving, even though Kirk and Guinan entered (and Guinan left) decades before Picard got there. Picard and Kirk also both exit the Nexus shortly before Picard entered in "real" time.
- The animated Peter Pan and its sequel. Time moves slowly in Neverland, hence why Peter never grows old... but then how can a couple of Neverland days last only a few hours in England?
- Likewise in Hook. Peter promises to visit Wendy every spring, but his visits clearly don't occur at regular intervals. This is averted in the book. While Neverland has no seasons, and sunrises and such come and go whenever they feel like it, the relative time for people inside and outside is the same, and the children really are gone for months. While Peter's 'springtime' visits don't come at regular intervals, it's because he doesn't know/care how much time is passing, not because it isn't.
- Inception takes it to extremely complicated levels: in a dream, time flows slower than it does in the real world. Go to a dream within that dream, and it goes even slower. Dream within a dream within a dream? Even slower. It's turned into Nightmare Fuel since you can end up spending years in a dream by doing that, thus losing your perception of reality. It happened to Mal, at any rate. In reality, dream-time is variable because your brain skips over the bits that don't matter much and then tells itself that it didn't.
- The Trope Namer is the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. In most of the books, a number of people (usually children) travel between the "real" world and the fictional land of Narnia. Edmund is able to determine that the rule is: when you're in Narnia, no matter how long you stay there, no time passes in the "real" world; when you're in the "real" world, any amount of time could be passing in Narnia.
- The Professor actually believes Lucy is telling the truth about her first visit to Narnia because her story makes use of this trope (which he has some personal experience with in the prequel) without her realizing it.
- In the first book (the second chronologically in-universe), the Pevensie children age from young children to full adults (kings and queens, in fact) in Narnia and then are returned to Earth where they have been gone for no time at all and are still children.
- The next time they visit Narnia a year later in Earth-time, hundreds of years have passed there, and their previous exploits are the stuff of legend.
- It was shown in The Last Battle that things can work the other way round too; King Tirian sees a (two way) vision of our world, and the various heroes of the series, and minutes later Jill and Eustace appear to save him (he had been tied to a tree by the bad guys). In the "real" world, they had spent a few days formulating a plan to get back to Narnia and save him.
- At one point, Aslan explains that he always sends children from Earth to the point in Narnian history when they're needed most. Basically, time passes however God wants it to pass.
- In Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, characters are at first able to jump between worlds at any point in either world's history, traveling back and forth through time at will. Later, there is revealed to be a Keystone Earth in which time always moves forward and you can never travel any earlier in history there than when you last visited ("no do-overs" is how the characters put it). Even then, it's explained that time generally moves faster in the Keystone Earth than the universe in which the majority of the action takes place, and periodically "lurches" forward in relation to it, forcing the characters to Race Against the Clock to get certain plot-necessary chores done. Most of this is handwaved as either the work of "ka" (destiny) or a glitch in the failing infrastructure of the universes or both.
- In The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland..., no time passes in the Human world for a Human in Fairyland, with occasionally cruel results like growing to adulthood in Fairyland and then being thrust back into an abusive family as a twelve-year-old. Adds a serious element of Fridge Horror to the more famous example of the Pevensies returning to England and becoming young again.
- In The Magicians, travel between Fillory and Earth works the same way, which of course makes sense, since Fillory is just Narnia by a different name.
- In The Pendragon Adventure it's said on multiple occasions that "Travelers arrive where they're needed when they're needed" (or words to that effect); so time spent in one territory doesn't necessarily correspond in any meaningful way with time in another territory. Becomes a little strange when three of the territories are just different time periods in other territories. Not to mention how it's apparently okay to change things in one of those redundant territories, until it actually matters at the end of the series.
- In Eloise McGraw's The Moorchild, "time runs different in the Mound", the Mound being the home of the Folk. A human who's lured in can stay for what feels like a season or at most a year, and then when kicked out discover that a few decades have passed and he has aged accordingly.
- In K.A. Applegate's Everworld, the main characters effectively live double lives, going between the Old World and Everworld whenever they fall asleep. The time between the two worlds/universes seems to vary each time, but usually not by more than a factor of a few days.
- In the Incarnations of Immortality series, if a mortal stays for a day within Purgatory (where the mostly-immortal Incarnations live), a year will have passed for that individual back on Earth, unless a special dispensation is made. Normally this is not an issue, since most characters there are ghosts or the Incarnations themselves. But, in "And Eternity" one mortal uses it to her advantage, after the first time where she finds this out.
- This is how travel to the Nevernever works in The Dresden Files. Time generally runs faster in the Nevernever than on Earth, but it varies from one part of the Nevernever to another and sufficiently powerful faeries can deliberately influence the speed. Most of the time this detail doesn't matter to Harry and the time skip is never enough to add up to months or years. However, when his police officer friend is supposed to be working on a high-profile case, just a few hours in the Nevernever can add up to a length of time that's hard to explain to her superiors.
- The way of the timeflow in Stravaganza. Most of the time, it's a consistent one-to-one day ratio, with the only oddity being that day in Talia is equivalent to night in England. But from the first, readers know that the timeflow is much more unstable.
- Doctor Dethridge, who lived in the Renaissance and was the first Stravagator, regularly gets visits from Stravaganti from modern-day England because time has flown by more quickly in England.
- This is played to its heartbreaking conclusion when Lucien's entrapment in Bellezza for like, two days, translates into a three-week coma in England - coinciding with a resurgence of his brain cancer. His parents, having concluded he's never waking up, decide to cut off his life support.
- In Small Gods, when Brutha dies, and finds Vorbis, who died a century ago, still hasn't crossed the desert:
Brutha: He's been here for a hundred years?
Death: Perhaps not. Time is different here. It is ... more personal.
Brutha: Ah, you mean a hundred years can seem like a few seconds?
Death:A hundred years can pass like infinity.
- The Pet Force series of Garfield books. The flow of time between the two universes (Garfield's regular universe and the Pet Force universe) is proportional (so time will pass in the mainstream universe but considerably more will pass in the alternate universe). This is usually a non-issue as Garfield and his friends return to their correct universe within the span of approximately five seconds but during the epilogue of one book, they are unable to return to their origin universe and Jon notices their absence.
- In Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber series, the characters are not only aware of this effect when traveling through Shadow, but actually take advantage of it to heal up, recruit armies and train them in record time, and so forth. It is inconsistent between Amber and Chaos: Corwin fathers a child, who grows to adulthood in Chaos, in what to Corwin is days. On the other hand, when Corwin visits Chaos for a few minutes, weeks pass back in Amber. Chaos is...chaotic.
- In Japanese folklore, there is a tale about Urashima Taro who, after rescuing a turtle who was a princess in disguise, he is taken by said princess to her castle, where they spend supposedly three years together there. When Urashima asks the princess to let him go back to the surface to see his friends and family again, she gives him a box that must never be opened. When the young fisherman tries to see his family, he is told that they died 400 years ago, which devastates him emotionally. Utterly hopeless, he opens the aforementioned box—which immediately makes him 400 years older—and dies instantly. It happens that the box was retaining his true age at that moment.
- In The Demonata, time passes differently in each Demon Universe so characters from different times can interact and end up similiar ages. Also leads to odd events such as Kernel returning to his parents after being missing for a number of years but he hasnt aged at all.
- According to Journey to the West, a day in the Heavenly Realm (the home of the immortals) equals to a year on earth.
- In Hours, one hour of regular time can equal any amount of time in the Waving World, from tens of minutes up to many days. This is because the perception of time in the Waving World is based on events, not physics. Happenings of great import, such people dying, take up more real time than do mundane tasks.
- The Tower Of Geburah series* :
- Wesley, Kurt, and Lisa accidentally venture to the kingdom of Anthropos in another world, and stay there some weeks helping to free it from the forces of darkness. When they return to the 'real' world, only a few hours have passed.
- After several months have passed in Canada, the portals to Anthropos' world open again. Venturing there in pursuit of their lost cousin, the children find thirty years have passed there.
- In Mikhail Uspensky's Dear Comrade King, the temporal relation between our world and Zamirye works like that. But wait, there's more! Turns out that a local wizard cast a Timey-Wimey Ball spell, so the speed of time flow in various parts of Zamirye also goes out of sync. So two characters from Earth enter Zamirye in the height of the Soviet rule, spend there some months and return after The Great Politics Mess-Up, right in the middle of the First Abkhazian Conflict.
Live Action TV
- SyFy Channel miniseries Alice: Wonderland appears to operate on Narnia Time.
- Alice returns to her world mere hours after she left, but when the Hatter shows up the next day, the way he says "Finally!" implies that he's been waiting much, much longer. On the flip side, Alice's father seems to have aged no more than he would have in their real world, so unless no one ages in Wonderland (or at least people from their real world don't)...
- It seems like a lot of time has passed between her original trip and the current one
- In an episode of The Outer Limits, a scientist creates a virtual prison which uses this to its advantage. Prisoners live out their sentences, having for example, a full 20 year imprisonment within an hour. When the scientist goes in to help someone who was wrongly convicted, he gets stuck within and lives out a full 20 year sentence.
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Girl in the Fireplace", the time portals between the future and 18th century France seem to work like this. Which the Doctor keeps inexplicably forgetting.
- Towards the end of the final season of Heroes, Matt Parkman traps Sylar inside of a mental prison. Peter Petrelli takes Parkman's ability and enters Sylar's mind to find that even though Sylar had only been trapped for a short amount of actual time, he had experienced years of isolation in his mind. Peter and Sylar then spend many years together escaping the nightmare, justifying a complete Heel-Face Turn by Sylar, before they emerge into the real world in which only hours of actual time have elapsed.
- In Supernatural, one month on Earth equals about ten years in Hell.
- A time travel variant occurs in the LOST episode "The Constant". Desmond is going through bursts of Mental Time Travel that makes him go from 1996 to 2004. While things are always in real time in the present day, the past travels at a certain time encompass bigger intervals (Desmond is talking to Daniel, returns to 2004; when he goes back to the past, Daniel reveals Desmond blacked out for more than an hour).
- In the excellent Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Inner Light," Picard is contacted by an alien probe. Said probe makes him live a full life on the world who launched the probe, all within a half-hour.
- In MythQuest, one of the characters travels into their computer and re-enacts a myth while the other watches. Time appears to be completely variable, because some myths last days, while the person watching has only been seeing the myth for a few hours.
Myth and Legend
- This is how time in Arcadia works in Changeling: The Lost Two children might be kidnapped on the same day. One spends 30 years in Arcadia, and returns to find that it's only the next day. Another only spends a week in Arcadia, but comes back after 60 years in the real world. This is one of the major obstacles the Lost face when trying to regain their lives.
- Warhammer 40,000 example: As if The Warp wasn't bad enough, there have been stories of heroes being imprisoned in places the Warp bleeds through into reality, and finding that they'd been missing for hundreds of years when they escape. On the other side of things, ships that come to the aid of distress signals occasionally find themselves under attack and sending the signal they'd followed in the first place. One Ork Warboss managed to ambush and assassinate himself this way. Even on an an uneventful trip through the warp, timekeeping relative to the materium is a pain in the neck.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, only ten minutes pass in the Great Sea while Link and Tetra are stuck for hours, probably days, in the World of the Ocean King.
- In Ultima, time passes faster in Britannia than Earth, though the ratio seems to be random; the general explanation is that the Avatar is called to the time s/he is needed most. The presence of time travel just serves to confuse matters further. This doesn't explain how the Avatar's companions, Lord British, and Blackthorn can live for centuries (OK, Blackthorn spent time on Serpent Isle, but still).
- All over the place in Super Robot Wars Original Generation and Endless Frontier, when travelling between the Shadow-Mirror, OG-verse, and the Frontier itself. Axel was the last to leave the Shadow-Mirror Universe, but ended up in the OG-verse months before the rest of the force. The neverland was one of the first to leave, and landed in the Frontier centuries after an entity that ended up there months after the Neverland's teleport.
- In The Dreamland Chronicles, the Dream Land operates on Narnia Time. When Alex falls asleep he goes to Dreamland, and when he wakes up some time passes in dreamland before he falls asleep again. However the amount of time that passes in that time is explicitly declared as random. Sometimes nearly no time passes like when he is falling with Felicity on his back, wheras sometimes several hours passes. The general amount of time that passes must average out though, because at the beginning of the story when Alex hasn't been to Dreamland in years, a similar number of years have passed for the inhabitants.
- In xkcd at the very bottom left.
- 9th Elsewhere: The first 120 pages take place over at least several days in Carmen's Mental World, but only about 15 minutes in the real world.
- In Danny Phantom, portals between the Ghost Zone and the real world occur naturally, opening and closing at random, and are capable of leading to anywhere or anywhen. The only exceptions are the two artificial portals, which are generated and held open through technological means.