You are now traveling through time and space. Ben:
Yeah, well, make sure I back get by teatime Doctor. I've gotta get back to my ship by tonight. The Doctor:
Young man, it's going to be a long time before you see your ship again! Ben:
Why? When are we going to land? The Doctor:
I don't know, and that's the cause of half my trouble through my journeys. I never know. Polly:
Why not? The Doctor:
I have no control over where I land. Neither can I choose the period in which I land in.
A Speculative Fiction Trope
in which our heroes have the means to go just about anywhere they want, with the catch that they have absolutely no control over just where they will end up. Whether it is because their method of transportation is damaged, not properly understood, or just inherently random, the protagonists will have no way of knowing where they're going until they actually arrive.
The end result is that any attempt to use their fantastic mode of travel is a Blind Jump
. This forces the characters to go through a series of random Adventure Towns
until arriving at their intended destination (assuming they ever do).
The characters may work out what rules govern their travel, such as staying within a certain range of their point of origin. If an outside power is controlling their travel, they may also frequently be sent to where they're most needed
, rather than where they desire. A degree of limited control may even be gained over time.
A form of Walking the Earth
. Frequently overlaps with The Homeward Journey
, as the intended destination is almost always just getting back home. Compare Unstuck in Time
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Anime & Manga
- Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi features the characters jumping to various versions of their hometown's marketplace.
- The protagonists of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle travel the multiverse in search of Princess Sakura's scattered memories—however, they rarely know what kind of world they will end up in next, just that there is a "memory feather" in it somewhere.
- Bobby Pendragon of The Pendragon Adventure, like all other Travelers, moves from dimension to dimension wherever the flumes take him. Getting where you want to go isn't usually an issue. When you get there is another story; it appears that while the traveller doesn't have absolute control over this, the flume takes the traveller to when he needs to be there.
- The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy:
- The Infinite Improbability Drive causes the ship to "pass through every conceivable point in every conceivable universe almost simultaneously," meaning that you are "never sure where you'll end up or even what species you'll be when they get there" and "it's therefore important to dress accordingly".
- At one point, the space hitchhikers are stuck in a stunt-ship about to plunge into a sun (or, in the original radio version, a warship owned by an angry Haggunenon shape-shifter), and they discover a half-built teleporter which will allow them to leave but not to control where they go. (It sends Ford and Arthur back to prehistoric Earth.)
- Quantum Leap featured Sam Beckett leaping at various points in history to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. He never knows what time period or into which person he'll Leap into next. A hint of this is almost always The Stinger for a given episode. The leaps generally occurred within the U.S. and stayed within Sam's lifetime. Though special circumstances have seen these rules broken at least once.
- The Time Tunnel has its heroes being randomly transported to various points in the past and, on occasion, the future.
- The show has wormholes the characters can use to go from one alternate Earth to another. The catch is that they have no control over which worlds they go to. Their timer does gain a small upgrade to allow some control, enabling them to visit any world they have previously been to and track other wormhole users.
- Originally, the Sliders' timer worked within a specific radius so that no matter which alternate Earth they visited, they were always in the San Francisco area. One of their antagonists made an adjustment to the timer, increasing this radius to 400 miles; meaning the Sliders could now potentially wind up in San Francisco, Los Angeles, or anyplace in between.
- Doctor Who
- The First and Second Doctors had little to no control over where the TARDIS went in any given serial. Even later, when the Doctor did gain better control, it was often difficult to wind up exactly where he wanted to go. This was particularly troublesome for companions who wanted to go home (Ian & Barbara, Ben & Polly, Tegan).
- It's been stated in "The Doctor's Wife" that the TARDIS itself chooses where to go based on where the Doctor is needed.
- The Fourth Doctor invoked this trope by installing a randomizer into the TARDIS in order to evade the Black Guardian following the Key to Time arc.
- The Tenth Doctor invoked the randomizer for fun in "Planet of the Ood."
- This was the critical downside to a Leviathan's 'Starbrust' in Farscape. For this reason it's most often used as an emergency escape rather than a regular mode of travel.
- In the Star Trek Verse wormholes can be used in principle for very long distance interstellar travel, but in practice aren't because they're unstable and can land you at any random location in the galaxy with no guarantee that they'll open up again to bring you back.
- The wormhole in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is notably stable, taking you from point X in the Alpha Quadrant to point Y in the Gamma Quadrant and back again every time; but that's because it was artificially created by the Prophets/wormhole aliens instead of being a natural phenomenon.
- Battlestar Galactica: as evidenced by the final episode, the jump drives could theoretically take you anywhere but the problem is one of navigation: beyond comparatively short distances the jump equations become "non-linear" and it becomes impossible to calculate an intended destination.
- A regular feature in the magazine based on the show 3-2-1 Contact was "The Time Team" stories, in which modern teenagers Sean and Jenny have a hand-held "tachyon machine" that transports them to various locations in time. However, they can't predict where the machine will take them, and it has to recharge before they can reactivate it to go back home.
- Warhammer 40,000 and Warp travel (a demon-infested alternate dimension that allows FTL travel, sped up or hampered by Warp currents). While ships have a Navigator that allows them to navigate the Warp currents, all too often they end up adrift, and when (if) they do return to realspace, it's only occasionally on target, when not in deep space. And then there's the fact that sometimes you don't even come back at the right time, as one ork Waaaagh found when they ran into their future selves (that one ended in considerable confusion, as the future!warboss killed past!warboss in order to have two sets of his favorite gun).
- Dungeons & Dragons, Basic D&D module DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor. When characters trapped in the Inn Between the Worlds passed through the Gate in the cellar they ended up back in the Inn but at a random different time, either before or after they entered (possibly long before or after).
- The World of Warcraft item "Scroll of Recall" could potentially have this effect. Normally it acts similar to a Hearthstone, sending you back to a previously set home point. If your level is too high for that particular level of scroll, however, the effect becomes more random.
- In BioShock Infinite, Elizabeth and Booker travel to alternate realities during the course of the story due to Elizabeth's ability to open tears. It's implied, however, that she has no control over which reality the pair enters until near the end of the game.
- The old DOS game Laser Chess has one Hypercube piece on each side, plus the center square is also a Hypersquare. Moving one's piece onto the Hypercube or Hypersquare would cause it to reappear on a random empty square on the 9 by 9 board. The Hypercubes could also be moved to achieve the same effect.
- Escape Velocity: Nova has 20note wormhole ends that send ships instantlynote , but randomly, to other ends. By re-entering the wormholes it's possible to randomly cycle through them and end up the where you want.
- In Roguelikes teleportation is random by default. In some games the player can gain an item or ability to control the destination.
- In the Tanks game of Bally/Midway's arcade game TRON, a pink diamond in the middle of the maze is used to teleport the player's tank to a random location.
- In Asteroids, hyperspace is used as an emergency escape, sometimes dropping you right in front of another asteroid.
- In Emergency Exit, the main characters have a portal which transports them to random dimensions. Frequently used to start crossovers by having them transport to that comics dimension.
- In One Piece Grand Line 3 Point 5, Zoro's No Sense of Direction is played in this manner. If Zoro needs to somewhere without a guide to help, his player has to roll a hundred-sided die to determine if he even gets there.
- In ReBoot, when Enzo, AndrAIa, and Frisket travel from system to system for years (to them) because the Games they use to travel go to random places. Their eventual goal is to find a system with ports they can use to go straight back to Mainframe.
- The Avalon World Tour arc of Gargoyles is a result of the magical island Avalon sending Goliath and company not where they want to go, but where they need to be. They visit quite a few places before finally returning to New York.
- The Smurfs had a time travel story arc where they lost the correct configuration for the crystal sculpture thingy and had to do this until they got back home, which unfortunately they never did.