Marty McFly: Wait a minute, Doc. Ah... Are you telling me that you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?Sure, we may have a device that causes us to travel through time as if it were a VHS, or maybe it opens up a wormhole, but that isn't the important part. What really matters is the MacGyver factor, and well, we have that. We aren't cool with just travelling through time in a device that is explicitly meant for time travel, we need to make something that is already cool into a time machine, which makes it better. This page is merely the vehicle. Compare Our Time Travel Is Different, for the different visual effects that can result, and Temporal Mutability, for the differing results of changing the past.
Dr. Emmett Brown: The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?
Dr. Emmett Brown: The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?
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Anime & Manga
- Steins;Gate: Features a time-travelling microwave. Useful for sending texts back in time to your cell-phone or turning bananas (and other organic material) into bright green mush.
- Mortadelo y Filemón: Professor Bacterio's shabby time machine looks mostly like a phone booth. Justified, as it is a prototype he just jury-rigged in his lab.
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin makes a time machine of a cardboard box (the same box that was also a duplicator and transmogrifier).
- Calvin and Hobbes: The Series still has Calvin's box, but it also has Sherman's washing machine.
- In the Treehouse of Horror parody episode of Go Jyu Sentai Gigaranger, Garzooka replicates Homer's time-traveling toaster, only with slight modifications, one of them being an LCD display of the current time period.
Films — Live-Action
- Back to the Future
- The first film's DeLorean, which is the inspiration for this trope. The film's creators justify this by saying that it makes more sense to have a time machine that you can take with you, rather than one that just sits at your destination. Plus the stainless steel construction makes the flux dispersal work that much better.
- The time-traveling steam locomotive at the end of Back to the Future Part III. It can fly!
- The phone booth from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. And it's smaller on the inside! Nyaah!
- The Hot Tub in Hot Tub Time Machine. Seems obvious, right?
- Timecop has a pod that accelerates on rails through a tunnel and jumps right before hitting the wall. Strangely, the time traveler shows up at the destination without the pod. When they come back (using a wrist device), they come back in the same pod.
- The... thing from The Science of Sleep... maybe.
- The time machine in The Time Machine has a good deal of quartz in it and just a touch of alien geometry.
- In Michael Moorcock's Behold the Man the time traveler floats in a spherical, fluid-filled capsule, which rolls to a bumpy stop on arrival. It's apparently a one-way trip.
- The Space/Time Nexus of Bill the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Ten Thousand Bars is a sentient toilet that speaks with a British accent. It is also the earliest known example of a time-travelling toilet, pre-dating Day of the Tentacle by several years.
- The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov has "kettles", which are elevator-like pods, allowing Eternals (people who have been taken outside of Time) to travel "upwhen" and "downwhen" along the timestream. Similar to elevators, the kettles can't travel before and after the existence of Eternity, as massive temporal field created in the 27th century. However, a special one-way kettle is created that can used to send a person to a century prior to that.
- Sergey Lukyanenko's novel Today, Mom! has the Sibling Team protagonists discover a time pod inside an Ancient Egyptian artifact. When they start pressing buttons, they find themselves in the future (supposedly, where the pod originally came from). However, the future humans refuse to let them go back, as they fear time travel. A cat-like alien named Shidla◊ helps the boys travel back in time. However, they jump too far and end up in Ancient Egypt. Eventually, Shidla drops them off at home and jumps into his own time.
- Will of Heaven has the "pheasant god," a moon-powered alien device shaped like a rock. It gets its name from the pheasant-like noises it makes when it distorts time, and also causes meteor-like streaks of light to appear in the sky.
- The titular stairwell in The Impossible Stairwell looks like an ordinary stairwell, but going up- or downstairs takes you forward or backward in time.
- Double The Fist season 2 had the Timesaw, a chainsaw which saws holes in spacetime.
- Doctor Who:
- The Doctor's own TARDIS itself is hardly what one expects a time machine to look like, its exterior camouflage being stuck in the form of an early 1960s British police box for most of the show's history. The Doctor's resistance to fixing the chameleon circuit comes from his fondness for the iconic nature of the exterior, since he knows a TARDIS in the guise of a police box will most probably be his own. (As revealed in a 2013 episode, his "Type 40, Mk 3" TARDIS's default exterior◊ was originally a sleek, silverry, unadorned cylinder of roughly the same size.) The association between the Doctor and his particular TARDIS is so strong, that her characteristic outside appearance has become a symbol of hope to some (usually those in need of saving), and a symbol of dread to others (usually his adversaries). Ironically, though the vast interiors of his ship are filled with all sorts of super-advanced technological wonders that frequently astonish other people, the Doctor himself admits on occassion that his TARDIS would be considered an outdated, almost quaint model of timeship by his fellow Time Lords. He still loves his jalopy of a time machine regardless, and even considers her a friend on par with his companions.
- The series has also used Time Rings to travel through time, and in the revival, also introduced the vortex manipulator, a time-travelling wrist strap. Neither device is a comfortable way to travel (which is something of a verbal running gag for the vortex manipulator, often getting called a "cheap and nasty" way to travel).
- The show Seven Days has the Sphere, a device built by the government based on the Roswell crash that can allow a person to go back seven days in the past, no more no less. In the show, it's used to prevent bad things from happening, which occur almost weekly. It's not entirely clear how the Sphere moves through time. Sometimes, it appears exactly where it was. Other times, it appears in space and falls to Earth (which would actually make more sense, given that Earth wasn't in the same position seven days ago. As explained in the pilot episodes, the chrononaut must compensate for the movement of Earth through manual controls, which Frank rarely manages to do perfectly). The time limitation is caused by the fact that the scientists still don't know much about the technology and only use it out of necessity and the fact that the alien fuel (which is in short supply) takes exactly 7 days to recharge. Several other Spheres are shown throughout the show, including the previous Sphere which was lost in the jungle after a failed "backstep" and a Sphere from a few centuries in the future with an enlarged fuel tank.
- An Ancient named Janus has managed to create a working time machine out of a Puddle Jumper. While his superiors forced him not to create one after Elizabeth Weir travels to the past, he does it anyway, just in another galaxy. Conveniently, both devices are lost in the past.
- The Stargate has been used several times as an impromptu time machine — opening a wormhole during a solar flare results in it folding on itself but in a different time. The film Stargate Continuum has Ba'al create a time machine of sorts using the solar flare method. He has put up monitoring satellites in hundreds (if not thousands) of star systems, looking for solar flares with the instantaneous data being fed into a powerful computer that calculates how far into the past he will go if he gates to the star.
- Played with in The Librarians 2014, where we see a room in the Library that contains dozens of different time machines (including a DeLorean and a blue police box), each of which works on a different principle, which means that, if you use one to go back in time, you can't use another to return.
- Timeless has two spherical time machines, developed by Mason Industries. The original prototype (later nicknamed "Lifeboat") is an industrial-looking cramped pod with enough room for only three travelers (including the pilot). It has two cris-crossing bands of treads that start spinning, presumably warping space/time, until it vanishes in a rush of displaced air and appears about a minute later in another time and space. The second version (nicknamed "Mothership") is a sleek white sphere of a much larger diameter, capable of carrying almost a dozen travelers. The spinning bands look like stripes of black and are much more aesthetically pleasing than the original ones. The computers of both time machines are in sync across space/time, which means each always knows when the other is, although not where. Since time travel here operates on San Dimas Time (as indicated by the mission clock above the control center). Interestingly, only the inside of the pod is ever shown during a time jump (presumably, to save on special effects), so we have no idea how the wormhole itself looks, although one computer diagram uses the standard "tunnel through folded space" visualization. One episode also makes it a plot point that spacial navigation is just as crucial as temporal navigation. As Rufus puts it, Earth is 70% water. Without proper navigation, the Lifeboat could easily end up in water, in a mountain, or 600 feet in the air. As it is, both time machines usually pop in exactly where intended.
- The Loony Machine from Loony Labyrinth, which is a Time Machine incorporated into the maze of the Minotaur.
- In Time Cruise, Eric's Time Travel mechanism consists of seven buildings linked together with a high-speed spherical pod.
- Time Machine (Zaccaria) uses the game's transforming pinball machine.
- Time Machine (Data East) has a morphing car that can also fly through space.
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages uses a lyre.
- Time Shift has Timesuits that transport you through time and space and prevent you from causing paradoxes.
- Day of the Tentacle has the "Chron-O-John", a contraption that includes a car, a huge diamond, traffic lights and three portable toilet cubicles.
- LAst WEEK have a calender-operated time controlling machine, which normally used to regulate the flow of time that is distorted thank to the ritual, but it can used as Time Machine by changing the date on calender into desired date.
- In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the Prince uses a dagger to rewind time.
- Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and The Time Rippers has time pods used by the Sequel Police of Space Quest XII and a hairdryer-looking device used by La Résistance.
- There are two types of time machines in The Journeyman Project games. The first game features the Pegasus device, the original time machine invented by Dr. Sinclair, which is fairly large and static. The time travelers' suits are fitted with recall biochips, which signal the Pegasus to pull them back. The second game has miniaturized versions placed in Powered Armor suits. This allows time travelers to jump to any time period from any time period without the need to constantly return to the "present". In the third game, the miniaturized device is also installed in a chameleon suit, which creates a holographic image of any scanned person in order to be able to interact with people in the past.
- In the "Timegate Traveler" movie series in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, the time machine can be stored in a capsule that fits in the palm of your hand—in other words, a Poke Ball.
- Breakpoint City has given us two cars, a Stargate-esque portal, and a brain swapper, so far.
- As noted by Irregular Webcomic!, time machines appear in all sorts of weird forms... mainly because, while we have some sort of general understanding about how other vehicles' shapes affect how useful they are (aircraft need wings or rotors or envelopes, boats need hulls, etc), no-one has the slightest idea what shape makes a more efficient time machine. (They use the Doctor Who model.)
- Times Like This packs all the time-machine schematics into a small package, made out of a stylish medallion-style pendant and a tiny cell phone.
- In The Annoying Orange episode "The Microwave Effect", apparently putting a burrito wrapped in tinfoil in a microwave results in time travel.
- One Halloween episode of The Simpsons had Homer accidentally create a time-travelling toaster.
- In one episode of the The Fairly Oddparents, the fairy godparents transform themselves into watches that can rewind time.
- In one episode of Futurama, putting metal into a microwave during a super nova resulted in time travel.
- Gravity Falls has the Time Machine Tape Measure. Apparently it's a standard issue for all time travelers.
- Danger Mouse and Penfold travel through time in a grandfather clock in "The Hickory Dickory Dock Dilemma." Contains a rather obvious Doctor Who reference.