Illyria: Odd. It doesn't exist until it cracks apart.It's already been well-established that time is like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff. Cause does not lead directly to effect; you can shoot your own grandfather and in all likelihood get away with it, take an active hand in the events that made you who you are, and generally abuse time until it cries uncle. But what about universes where time is not quite so wibbly-wobbly or timey-wimey? What about those realities where time is a rigid, orderly, and above all fragile structure, and some well-meaning fool sets off with a time machine to change history? Then in all likelihood, you'll have a Time Crash on your hands. When you've gone and broken time, all bets are off. More benign Time Crashes may take the form of a "Groundhog Day" Loop waiting for someone to find the key which breaks the cycle. In others, cause and effect itself may be shattered, resulting in a Fate Worse Than Death for all affected, if not the destruction of reality itself. Garden-variety temporal wedgies need not apply in this trope. This is not about your usual temporal inconveniences, the kind that make your best friend vanish from the time line, put Adolf Hitler in the Oval Office or make medieval Japanese the lingua franca of the 21st century — that is, the sort that can be solved by a simple trip back in time to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. A good and proper Time Crash should have some large-scale, reality-breaking effects: holes get punched in the fabric of space-time, the Clock Roaches show up and start eating people, things that should happen one after another happen the other way around instead (or worse, simultaneously), etc. A Time Crash is not a simple thing to solve, either: usually, it involves either some serious Applied Phlebotinum or enough firepower aimed at the right Eldritch Abomination... if it can be fixed at all. A form of Reality-Breaking Paradox. For the Doctor Who mini-episode which could have ended in this trope, see here.
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Anime and Manga
- In Haruhi Suzumiya, the character creates a Time Crash 3 years ago that prevents human time travelers from going back further than that. Presumably, Yuki's faction has no problem as Yuki mentions very casually that the humans' TPDD is an average method of time travelling. Moments later, she leads Kyon and Mikuru into a room and freezes the whole room, stopping time in there. It is maintained, even when Yuki engages in a battle against Ryoko in a data space created by Ryoko.
- 2000 AD:
- In the Strontium Dog "Max Bubba" story, as Bubba alters time, various meteorological and electrical anomalies occur around him, which the Vikings believe is Ragnarok. Then things start falling into Norway from various points in the future.
- In Absalom, an ancient stone carrying the memories of the city of London is used by a British fascist to create cracks in the time periods so that they'll overlap, like turning the wrong corner and ending up in the Great London Fire.
- Zero Hour: Hal Jordan/Parallax deliberately triggers one of these destroying the entire timeline with the purpose of rebooting the universe his way. Fortunately, some heroes are pulled outside of normal time to deal with it. This results in one of the many Cosmic Retcons that The DCU has gone through over the years.
- Happens during Crisis on Infinite Earths when the five remaining Earths (read: Universes) start to converge. As the heroes are trying to halt the process, time gets screwed up mixing people up between universes and different time periods randomly. Then the heroes and the Anti-Monitor race to the beginning of time and battle over Anti-Monitor's desire to become the hand of creation. This results in the remaining Multiverse crashing and being rebooted as a single universe (see Post-Crisis for more details.) Notable in that the heroes don't exactly fix everything so much as try to salvage what remains.
- Happens again in Infinite Crisis, where some of the people directly involved with the first Crisis are dissatisfied with its results, and so they temporarily divide the one stable universe into several unstable ones again, then mix it back together after shuffling the parts around a bit.
- Just before Infinite Crisis, the Justice Society of America had a story arc in which they traveled back in time. During the journey to the present, they hit the Time Crash created by the original Crisis. It affects Power Girl badly, kick-starting her role in Infinite Crisis.
- When the Time Variance Authority arrested She-Hulk after she used time travel to save Hawkeye's life, the whole trial was to determine what will cause a bigger Time Crash, letting her off with a warning or eradication from the universe (as in, a Ret Gone, which they are capable of doing.) The biggest evidence against her was a vision of the future that showed additional carelessness on her part causing the apocalyptic reckoning war. (This was so convincing for Jen, she changed her plea to guilty.)
- Back when The Dandy had adventure comic strips, one of them was about a group of scientists creating a time machine whose vital component was a crystal. They attempted to test it by sending a plant one minute into the future, but this caused the machine to explode and fling fragments of the crystal throughout history. The scientists' children had to travel to different periods to retrieve the fragments; in the meantime, the explosion caused a series of "Timequakes" which resulted in people and things from across history breaking into the wrong time. For example, The Three Musketeers appearing in the Trojan War.
- In Marvel's Secret Wars II, Reed Richards theorizes that a Time Crash could kill even the all-powerful Beyonder.
Reed: Could even you survive the destruction of time itself?Beyonder: I... do not know. Even when measured against eternity, one moment must still precede the next.
- In DC's short-lived Nineties series Chronos, a pretty ugly one happens then an Eldritch Abomination called the Chronovore attacks Hong Kong in the year 11,021. When the time-traveling hero, Walker Gabriel, wants to lay low for a while, he goes to this era. He's shown having a conversation at a bar, and in every panel, the person he's having the conversation with (and his drink) gets replaced with someone else as history is constantly shifting. Walker (who has Ripple Effect-Proof Memory as one of his powers) just rolls with it and keeps the conversation moving.
- A big one is a central plot point of the second volume of Guardians of the Galaxy, called The Error, which is destroying reality after reality, causing a Great Offscreen War. Starhawk of the original Guardians keeps travelling back in time to determine what causes it. It's also playing merry havoc with his timeline, causing him to alter between male, female, old, young or undead at random. At first it seems the cause of the error is the War of Kings, but in the last issue it turns out to be Thanos.
- Astro City has this as part of the Back Story of one of the early stories. A man has been having recurring dreams about a woman he's never met, but apparently knows everything about, and it's slowly driving him insane. One night, he learns what happened; a jilted supervillain built a time machine, and used it to challenge the god of time, and their conflict tore the original timeline to shreds. A number of superheroes patched the timeline together as best they could, and one of the things that vanished in the cracks was the woman, his wife (her grandparents never met because they were forced to put Air Ace's battle with the Barnstormers a day early).
- The Infinite Loops were started up because of one of these. Yggdrasil, the magical tree computer that runs the multiverse, was heavily damaged by something and the admins put everyone in a time loop while they tried to fix things.
- Lesser versions have occurred thanks to actions within the loops. This is usually an excuse to shake more "loopers" into circulation, but the destructive effects are not glossed over. These come in a scale of 1 to 5, with a Category 1 being the same as what damaged Yggdrasil in the first place. At one point a Category 2 is witnessed; The Crash, which outright annihilates an entire universe completely. It also causes knock-on damage to several "nearby" universes, with differing levels of severity, resulting in several new loopers awakening and causing other universes to start looping.
- The My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fanfic Hard Reset 2: Reset Harder, which starts out with the premise of multiple intersecting time loops interfering with each other, ups the ante even further when Luna kills Twilight so hard as to obliterate her from existence. Her time loop resets without a looper, which causes recursive resets that spawn an infinite number of paradox timelines. Fortunately, the Elements of Harmony sacrifice themselves to undo the glitch.
- Ashes of the Past has the Pokémon 4Ever movie, where, thanks to the Iron Mask Marauder ordering Celebi to get rid of Ash by any means necessary at the same time Sammy worked out that he was Professor Oak, caused Ash to (in the words of another Celebi) break time. The numerous inconsistencies to the timeline were rectified by recreating the universe — it also functioned as the Cosmic Retcon promised by the author to include the Fairy-type and Mega Evolutions.
- A Crown of Stars: Invoked. Shinji and Asuka's hosts are able to time travel, but they try to make careful use of it because causing a time paradox and making the fabric of reality collapse is a very real risk.
- The Jackie Chan Adventures/W.I.T.C.H. crossover Guardians, Wizards and Kung-Fu Fighters comes about because of one of these. As a divergence during the climax of the Demon World storyline, a spiteful Shendu decides as he's being banished to destroy the Book of Ages. This causes reality to collapse into a void, with the only saving grace being Jade grabbing the last scrap of the Book and hastily writing in that there's a happy ending, causing the last remnants of the JCA universe to merge with the WITCH universe.
- In the Back to the Future movies, this is a major concern for Doc Brown, although more often than not he'll change the future (or past) for personal reasons. He believes, for instance, that if present Jennifer encounters future Jennifer, one of two things will happen; Best case scenario, the shock of encountering what is obviously herself will result in an acute stress reaction that will cause her to faint. Worst case scenario? Future Jennifer will affect present Jennifer in an irreversible manner, resulting in a chain reaction of effect preceding cause that could destroy the entire universe. She passes out.
- The reasoning is fear of paradox: for example, what if Jennifer seeing her future self faints, falls badly, breaks her neck, and thus doesn't age to the point of being the older self who startles herself? If you're a dabbling mad inventor who doesn't know if paradoxes might do really quite unpleasant things to reality, advocating caution is almost uncharacteristically pragmatic. (How do you do a controlled experiment to see if some event X destroys the universe, anyway?)
- As a Shout-Out, Spock Prime implies to Kirk that this will happen if he ever meets himself in Star Trek. As he tells his younger self by the end, he was just misleading the captain.
- Inverted in the climax of Doctor Strange. Dormammu comes from the Dark Dimension, a place where time doesn't exist, so Strange pays him a visit and brings in the Time Gem, and time, with him. Strange sets up a stable time loop which he and Dormmamu relive over, and over...and over. Despite being a virtual god in his own home field, Dormammu has next to no understanding of time, and thus time travel, leaving him no effective counter. No matter how much more powerful he it and how many times he kills Strange, Dormammu is effectively Strange's prisoner, forcing him to accept Strange's bargain to leave Earth alone.
- The movie Millennium concludes with a massive paradox barreling its destructive way into the future whose time travel efforts caused it.
- The Philadelphia Experiment has this happen as an unanticipated side-effect of experiments in building an Invisibility Cloak. A Navy destroyer from 1943 and an entire Midwestern town from 1984 get sucked into the resulting vortex, which has to be stopped (from within) lest it destroy the entire world.
- 11/22/63 makes use of the idea that if a time traveler changes the past too much, it will eventually destroy time itself (metaphorically, it is described as plucking the strings of an instrument until it vibrates itself to pieces). Jake manages to save JFK from Lee Harvey Oswald only to return to his own time and find out that the Earth is well on its way to breaking apart into an asteroid belt and strange ripping noises are emanating from the sky, implied to be the sound of time collapsing. Jake's solution is to create a brand new timeline where JFK was killed as before, and then never, ever time travel again.
- John M. Ford's "Alternities" stories are set in a multiverse where a major Time Crash (called the Fracture) has occurred, and the survivors of Alteco are trying to pick up the pieces.
- Hal Duncan's The Book of All Hours duology starts with a very Timey-Wimey Ball sort of cosmology that gets utterly trashed by the end of the first book when nanites loaded with the language of magic and haunted by the spirits of dead gods are set loose and pull a magical Grey Goo scenario on the fabric of space and time. The second book picks up with the protagonists wandering between pockets of stability and causality by taking advantage of - and fighting against - stories and cultural narratives to get around.
- Greg Bear's City at the End of Time is all about a time crash and an aeon-spanning Gambit Roulette to ensure something will still exist afterwards.
- This turns into easily the biggest Mind Screw in the history of literature, because the Time Crash is taken to a logical extreme. Trying to preserve the universe during the event allows it to leak back in time, and as a result all alternate timelines collapse one by one, until by the late stage of the book, nearly all of every possible universe (including every timeline the event didn't happen in) is Ret Gone in a truly creepy fashion, and the surviving cast exist in the present, despite having no history; the entire past has been erased. The rest of the book is spent trying to make sure there is still enough of a future to fix it all in.
- As the title indicates, "The Day Time Stopped Moving" by Bradner Buckner is about a Time Crash — specifically, a Time Freeze, for all but the protagonist, deuteragonist (who caused it) and an unknown number of others.
- The History Monks (the Monks of Time, the Men in Saffron, from No Such Monastery) exist to prevent this sort of thing happening. Again. They've managed to piece things back together, but a Time Crash is used to explain why Ankh-Morpork has a Shakespearean theater on the same street as an opera house, and why there have been so many Battles of Koom Valley. Fan attempts to create a complete series timeline seem to always end up with inconsistencies — the author cites that same Crash as the reason.
- In Thief of Time, one of the characters is working on a device that will cause one of these, of the variety that causes time to just stop and freeze everything in its current state. Not exactly intentionally; he's a bit mad, and he's got the Auditors (who would really really like it if things stopped changing all the time) helping him along. Stopping it causes a complete collapse, which only the Anthropomorphic Personification of time is able to fix, and which still causes the events of Night Watch as a side effect.
- The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K Leguin ends with something like this happening due to (ab)use of Reality Warper powers. George Orr changes and overwrites reality many times, but finally reality is warped past a breaking point and the Earth becomes a mashup of all previous "versions" or timelines.
- M. Shayne Bell's short story "Lock Down" is about a team of time travelers trying to repair the continuum after one of these.
- In C. J. Cherryh's Morgaine Cycle, it's claimed that any attempt to use the Gates to change the past will result in a catastrophic Time Crash that will destroy civilization on every world that has a Gate, and there may be millions. The reason Morgaine knows this is that it's happened before.
- Played literally, if bizarrely, in Greg Egan's Orthogonal trilogy. Since spacetime in this universe is a closed loop in all dimensions, clusters of matter that were thrown in all directions in time as well as space by the Big Bang occasionally collide with other clusters, many of which are traveling in different directions or even orthogonally to each other in time as well as space, which means they literally have infinite velocity relative to each other. The plot is driven by one such impending collision, which threatens to annihilate the cluster in which the trilogy's cast originates.
- This is the end goal of the villain BKR in Bruce Coville's Rod Albright Alien Adventures series: to cause time to break down at the moment of his greatest triumph.
- A Tale of Time City is about three children who want to prevent this from happening when their town, Time City, falls apart.
- The Wheel of Time: Excessive use of balefire would cause the world to dissolve like fog as the Pattern unraveled from the Ret Gone effect of balefire.
Live Action TV
- In 12 Monkeys, the Army of the Twelve Monkeys is trying to destroy time itself, believing a world without time would be paradise. Fortunately, time itself is a conscious entity, and is fully capable of fighting back against them through the actions of the protagonists.
- Doctor Who:
- Rose causes a Time Crash in "Father's Day" when she saves her father from dying at a predetermined time. Flying Killer Time Monkeys come out and eat everyone on Earth.
- Parodied in the mini-episode "Time Crash", a short made for Children in Need (which Word of God says is canon). The Doctor accidentally somehow merges his TARDIS with the TARDIS of his fifth incarnation. Hilarity ensues at first as a starstruck Ten (and a real-life admiring David Tennant, who was thrilled to be on the same set with his own childhood favourite Doctor) and a bewildered Five have to stop their inadvertent meeting from ripping a hole in space-time the exact size of Belgium.
- Series 5 could almost be considered a deconstruction — the "total event collapse" at the end destroys all of time, including before the event that caused it (i.e. the TARDIS exploding), cracking but not destroying all of space and time (and having other effects as well). This, on top of giving us the season's Arc Symbol, also alerts the rest of the universe to the disaster and prompts them to form an alliance to stop it, tracing the cracks to the TARDIS and assuming it's the Doctor who will have caused it. When the collapse finally happens, the Doctor doesn't particularly care about why (and it wasn't finally explained until three and a half years later), he just wants to stop it from ever having happened. The results, by the way, are devastating — Earth is one of only two celestial bodies (the other being the moon) that has ever been in the sky, and by 1996 what little is left of the universe is starting to fall apart. In fact, the universe is so mangled that they can't repair it — their only option is to completely reboot it, which involves, among other things, erasing the Doctor from history. He gets better. It's eventually revealed the whole thing was an elaborate and thorough assassination attempt that almost worked.
- Also, in a sort of meta sense, the wibbly-wobbly-ness of any event to do with the collapse is roughly proportional to how closely related the two are (from River's perspective, the next time she met the Doctor was in the Byzantium, in the cracked universe, which was erased from time; directly after the incident, River's diary is blank, despite the fact that her existence hinges on his, so he can't possibly have been erased; Amy wakes up the morning after the reset, 14 years in the future, and this is never explained). The most likely explanation seems to be that the collapse was so total that it broke time travel logic.
- "The Wedding of River Song": The entire timeline of the planet goes pear-shaped when River refuses to kill The Doctor, even though it's meant to be a fixed point in time. Her failure to do so results in all of Earth's history happening at once - people travel by intercontinental steam trains and cars tethered to hot air balloons; pterodactyls are a nuisance in public parks; Charles Dickens is directing the BBC's big Christmas special; Winston Churchill is Caesar of the Holy Roman Empire, which is headquartered in London, has classical Roman trappings, and is fighting the Wars of the Roses, and his barber is a Silurian; JFK and Cleopatra are a known item, and the great pyramid of Giza has an American flag painted on the side and is known as "Area 52".
- A recurring danger in the spinoff Torchwood. The Series 1 finale involves a crash that threatens to collapse all of time together, while one Series 2 episode has 1918 and the present day crashing into each other.
- The Big Finish Doctor Who audio "The Anachronauts" involves the First Doctor's TARDIS being crashed into by some human temporal scientists who had made the first ever time flight, and both groups are then left on a desert island with no time travel. The result at first appears to be this, as the order of cause and effect seems messed up and things that cannot possibly exist (a 'time sprite') begin attacking them. However, this is a subversion, as it turns out that both teams are still inside the TARDIS and it has put the crews in a repair dimension while it attempts to stop time breaking down as a result of the crash.
- In Eureka, the latest meddling with time causes one of these, causing 1947 and 2010 to merge at an exponential rate, which would eventually annihilate time itself.
- In The Outer Limits (1995) episode "Déjà Vu", a time travel experiment goes wrong after an attempt to weaponize it by a corrupt military official, which results in a "Groundhog Day" Loop... with a nasty twist. Each iteration grows shorter, and eventually there will be no hope of preventing the Time Crash from destroying the world. In the end, the disaster is averted, and the man responsible suffers a Karmic Fate Worse Than Death, as the malfunctioning time machine traps him in the moment of his own annihilation.
- One of the more out-there episodes of Seaquest DSV involved the Seaquest time traveling into the future by using their fusion reactors and laser weapon systems. The time they arrive in is a dead world inhabited only by an AI computer and 2 human children who spend all hours battling each other in a VR computer game involving real robots. The Seaquest can't return to the past, because the past doesn't exist because - get this - unless they help the 2 kids stop playing their game and procreate, then the human race has no future. And apparently if the human race has no future then time breaks and the past ceases to exist.
- One episode of Sliders has Quinn meddling in a world where time moves backwards... somehow. He changes the events that lead to his incarceration and the death of a police officer that was the double of someone he loved in his world, and a wormhole akin to Clock Roaches appears. We never know what happened to that world, as the heroes manage to slide out before things get serious, but we know messing with time created that paradox and the professor wonders if "there'll even be a tomorrow in that world".
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- In the episode "Parallels", Worf causes a Time Crash by flying through a Negative Space Wedgie, causing millions of starships Enterprise from different universes to appear in the same place. Fortunately, he manages to fix it before reality is entirely full of Enterprises.
- Another episode, "We'll Always Have Paris", had a Mad Scientist accidentally rip open time with his experiments, causing temporal hiccups. Way to divide by zero there, buddy.
- On Legends of Tomorrow, the team creates one of these in the second season finale by breaking the first rule of time travel — Never the Selves Shall Meet — which has caused various people and things to be randomly displaced throughout time and space. The third season focuses on them tracking down these "anachronisms" and taking them back where they came from.
- In the Looney Labs game Chrononauts, you play a bunch of time travelers meddling with history. If there are ever 13 unresolved Temporal Paradoxes on the board, the space-time continuum collapses in a Puff of Logic and everyone loses... except for Crazy Joe, who wants to destroy the universe to draw in more business to his extradimensional restaurant chain. If he's in the game when a Time Crash happens, he wins.
- In Exalted the Solar Exalted, or... someone with considerable amounts of power, inadvertently broke reality during the First Age, freezing Creation in time for several years, until the Exalted managed to fix things. Roughly two centuries passed for a group of Dragon Blooded in the Wyld before time and reality managed to rectify itself.
- In the Tabletop Game Continuum, the rogue time travelers known as Narcissists are called thus because they're self-centered enough that they're trying to cause these. In fact, the Sahara Desert was created when the Narcissist kingdom of Antedesertium was destroyed in a massive Time Crash called Interregnum. Of course, they think they're trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. (Appropriately enough, another name for them is the Crashers.)
- Ontoclysms in GURPS: Infinite Worlds start with rewriting history and get more devastating from there.
- The premise of the Time Spiral block in Magic: The Gathering is basically this: the planewalks of powerful planeswalkers and other high-energy events like blast of the Golgothian Sylex, the time-travel experiments at Tolaria, the creation of Karona and the firing of the Legacy Weapon were gradually bending time until it broke, resulting in a massive and quickly deteriorating Time Crash, centered on Dominaria and threatening the very existence of the Multiverse.
- In Mage: The Awakening:
- More of a time explosion than a crash, but the collapse of the Celestial Ladder and the fall of Atlantis was such a cosmic wreck that the ruins of Atlantis got knocked out of the timeline. It's why no one's able to accurately place when Atlantis fell, despite certain mages being master-class postcognitives, why they can't even solidly place whether it actually happened in the past or was a future event cast backwards by the sheer weight of the event, and why they can't tell if anything like Atlantis will ever come into being again.
- The Archmaster Xaphan fumbled a Time spell so badly that his past got ripped out of history and dumped into the present, leaving him as a small crowd of alternate selves aged from 5 to 90 years old, while all evidence of his life before the accident ceased to exist.
- A series of three modules for TSR's Marvel Super Heroes, centered on the player characters becoming caught up in a plot of the time-travelling villain Kang the Conqueror. The second module of the series - The Weird, Weird West - saw the heroes, travelling home via time machine from the events of the first module, crashing in the old west ... with biplanes and pterodactyls flying overhead; cavemen, dinosaurs, and strange aliens from the distant future stalking the land; and the armies of Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and Ghengis Khan vying for control of the area. Fortunately, Albert Einstein is on hand to point them to the source of the Time Crash: a "chronovore," devouring time itself.
- The Pokémon Trading Card Game's Broken Time-Space. The rest of the set it's from hints that this is due to Cyrus attempting to capture Dialga and Palkia, controllers of time and space, respectively.
- This might be what's going on with the Hadex Anomaly in Warhammer 40,000, a Swirly Energy Thingy that seems to be regurgitating time from other dimensions into our own, and may even be sentient. The problem is getting close enough to study the thing, since any vessel that approaches to a certain distance gets trapped in temporal stasis, leaving the anomaly ringed by ghost ships.
- Chrono Cross is the Trope Namer, and the circumstances of its Time Crash forms a significant part of the backstory. In the good future resulting from the events of Chrono Trigger, a time experiment sent the Chronopolis research facility back into antiquity, with the side effect of summoning a city from an alternate timeline as a sort of cosmic counterbalance. Chronopolis was able to defeat and subdue the opposing civilization, then used its extensive records of history to hide its presence from the rest of the world, subtly manipulating events to avoid any paradoxes that could threaten its future existence. And then Schala interfered with the lab's plans and rescued Serge from drowning, which screwed all this up and split the timeline in two. In one timeline where everything went according to plan Chronopolis is still able to exist, but in the other is a region where the Bad Future from Chrono Trigger is trying to reassert itself, creating a place where time is effectively broken. A collection of futuristic structures have sort of congealed into the Tower of Geddon, you can walk on the waves of a frozen ocean, and ghostlike temporal "echoes" haunt the ruins... including three familiar faces from Chrono Trigger...
- It's not apparent from the start, but this is the central premise of Shrapnel, an Interactive Fiction by Adam Cadre. The protagonist and an ill-fated time traveler are caught in a particularly vicious and inescapable Time Crash caused when the time traveler's time machine was damaged by a piece of shrapnel. Cause and effect cease to exist, and the protagonist experiences several key events in Anachronic Order and dies multiple violent deaths with no lasting aftereffects before discovering the nightmarish truth.
- Speaking of Interactive Fiction, All Things Devours is all about averting a time crash. The timeline in the universe doesn't take kindly to paradoxes, and will promptly "censor" them with a huge explosion. What's more, the lab housing the time machine is in the middle of Boston, and the military experimenting on it have no idea what they're doing.
- A recurring theme in the Final Fantasy series:
- In the original Final Fantasy, the world is stuck in a two thousand year long time loop which it is your job to break. This means that when you succeed, your adventure never happened in the first place.
- In Final Fantasy III, Xande was so terrified of dying after his master Noah stripped him of his immortality that he planned to freeze time forever.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, Ultimecia's plan is to trigger one of these on purpose so she can rule the resulting time-compressed universe as a goddess. The heroes also try to trigger a time crash of their own, in an effort to stop her. This succeeds, the past and the future (reversibly) merge and create a Dark World that serves as the game's final disc.
- Plays heavily in the plot of Final Fantasy XIII-2, with a Time Crash causing paradoxes and "debris" from the crashing timelines to fall into other timelines and frames of reference. Resolving these paradoxes is the major quest of the game. Yet despite your efforts, you still ultimately fail and all timelines are erased from existence. Trying to fix this in a small wasteland that survived the time crash is the plot of the next game.
- This happens halfway through Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light when the heroes accidentally release a time-breaking flood of darkness all over the world. However, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! can be said non-sarcastically this time, since this ultimately lets them fix the things that made their original timeline a Crapsack World.
- In Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time, one of these is caused in the backstory by the Fongoids abusing time travel to the point where the space/time continuum grew thin enough to breach. The resulting Negative Space Wedgie took out 83 star systems before Orvus and the Zoni sealed it with the Great Clock. History would have repeated itself permanently had Alister Azimuth succeeded in abusing it as a time machine. Which it's not supposed to be used as.
- In Fate/stay night Archer's true identity is Emiya Shiro, the protagonist. Specificaly he's a version of Shiro from the future who's become disillusioned from all his time as a hero especially since as a Counter Guardian, he is summoned only during the worst instances in Earth's history as a last resort to protect it. Being timeless as a Counter Guardian means he will never be able to stop, so he theorizes that killing himself in the past will create a paradox so powerful that it will stop himself from ever becoming a hero (even if it destroys all of time). He admits that this is a long shot, and the multiverse nature of time in the franchise means that, probably, nothing would happen at all even if he did succeed, but he's willing to try anyway.
- The Elder Scrolls: Happen at a few major events in the backstory when the draconic God of Time, known by many names but most prominently as Akatosh, is "tampered with" so to speak. They typically involve mortals attempting to use something of divine substance and cross over with Reality Is Out to Lunch. It happens so often that there's even an in-universe term for it: a "Dragon Break."
- In the 1st Era, the Maruhkati Selectives, an extremist sect of the already extremist anti-elf Alessian Order, carried out a ritual in attempt to purge Akatosh of the elven aspects of the mythological basis that Akatosh was based on, the Aldmeri golden eagle god, Auri-El. This proceeded to break time and reality for a period of a 1008 years, which came to be known as the Middle Dawn. Bizarre and impossible events occurred during this time; people gave birth to their own parents, some sources mention wars and major events which never happened according to other sources, the sun changed color depending on the witness, and the gods either walked among the mortals or they didn't. How could they measure that period of time? They used the phases of Nirn's moons, said to be Lorkhan's decaying "flesh divinity", to measure time as they were not affected by the event. Even the Elder Scrolls themselves cannot rationalize the conflicting events of the Middle Dawn. When the Scrolls are attuned to that time period, their glyphs are said to simply disappear.
- The Numidium, a giant brass golem built by the Dwemer and powered by the Heart of Lorkhan, the "dead" creator god, was essentially their refutation of the gods made material. Because of this, it frequently caused these when activated, such as the temporal toxic waste dump in Elsweyr where Tiber Septim's mages tried to figure it out after the Dunmer Tribunal gave it to him as a tribute, or the Warp In The West, where all the endings in Daggerfall essentially happened at once (though none to the same extent they would have individually).
- Another Dragon Break appears to have happened during the Battle of Red Mountain, where the Chimer (who would become the Dunmer, or Dark Elves) fought the Dwemer in the final battle over the aforementioned Numidium. During the battle, Kagrenac, the Dwemer chief engineer, used his arcane tools on the Heart of Lorkhan in desperation, and that act caused the world to briefly revert to the chaos of the Dawn Era, before Tamriel was fully created by the Aedra... and in the process, he caused all of the Dwemer save a single one who was outside of normal spacetime at that point, to vanish. When things returned to normal, all the Dwemer were gone.
- The Tribunal, a trio of Dunmeri Physical Gods most prominently seen in Morrowind, caused one of these when they tapped into the aforementioned Heart of Lorkhan to obtain divinity. Essentially, they brought together two timelines: one where they were mortals ascending to godhood, and one where they had always been gods. This, of course, created plenty of Mind Screw contradictions.
- The eponymous Elder Scrolls themselves can cause a mild version of this depending on who reads them. Someone who is completely untrained in the history and nature of the Scrolls just sees the page picture for the main Elder Scrolls page (something that looks a bit like a star chart with odd glyphs around it). Someone with slight training is struck blind immediately, and while they may gain some knowledge from it, it will likely be useless. People with great training (e.g. members of the Cult of the Ancestor Moth) gradually go blind as they read more of the scrolls, but can extract enough information to reliably predict future events (or, at least, what might happen). Then we have the Dragonborn in Skyrim. Dragonborn are mortals with the soul of an immortal Aedric dragon, whose souls exist partially outside of time, not unlike the Scrolls themselves. Reading the Scroll you obtain as part of Skyrim's main quest results in being momentarily blinded, then recovering, and then immediately gaining access to precise information related to their current quest (either defeating Alduin or recovering Auri-El's Bow). It is also revealed that the aforementioned Dwemer were able to create a machine which allowed them to read the Elder Scrolls without all of the nasty side effects.
- At a couple of points in the histories, characters actually weaponize the Dragon Break. During the ancient Dragon War, the ancient Tongues of the Nords caused an intentional Dragon Break by using an Elder Scroll to banish Alduin across time, creating a permanent "time wound" at that location. Later on, the Dragonborn in the Fourth Era would use the same Scroll, at the same spot, to travel back in time through the wound to learn the Dragonrend Shout to defeat Alduin in the future.
- The Magna-Ge, aka "Star Orphans", are et'Ada ("original spirits") who fled Mundus (the mortal plane) along with their "father" Magnus (the God of Magic and "architect" of Mundus) during the creation of Mundus. The Magna-Ge are associated with various "untimes" and "untime folk". One of the most famous of the Magna-Ge is Mnemo-Li, aka Mnemoli the Blue Star and the "wayward daughter of Anu", who is visible even in the daytime sky during Dragon Breaks.
- Dragon Breaks even appear in several popular Game Mods. The Forgotten City mod uses a Dragon Break caused by a Stable Time Loop as part of the story, in which the player travels through the time loop to find out who is responsible for the loop and what events they put into motion to cause the disaster. In the VIGILANT mod, the player ends up experiencing a Dragon Break where they witness an alternate history where Molag Bal used a false version of the Abadal-a (Amulet of Kings) stone to corrupt the Alessian Empire so that all the violence associated with their purging of elves would empower Bal himself, as well as the origin of Molag Bal in the form of a bard who fell in love with the woman who would became the first vampire, and was transformed into Bal when he raped her, and Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order, starting his Greymarch on Molag Bal's realm of Coldharbour and ultimately killing him. Since all of this is happening during a Dragon Break, it is entirely possible that all of this did happen at some point and is totally true, up until another Dragon Break rewrote it all due to the player being a walking embodiment of Screw Destiny.
- Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky's pre-credits plot is all about preventing one of these by way of keeping the local god of time from going insane. You even get to see the bad future where the Time Crash happened - a paralyzed planet where the sun never rises and the wind never blows.
- This was the goal of Big Bad Time Master from Freedom Force when he tried to break the Celestial Clock. At the end of the game, Man-Bot makes a Heroic Sacrifice and locks himself inside the clock to allow the rest of the heroes to escape. Wraiths of Chaos begin attacking the clock because of his presence there, locking Man-Bot in an Endless Struggle to keep the Celestial Clock going and prevent another time crash from happening.
- In a particular test chamber in Portal 2, the automatic PA system gives you a warning:
Cave Johnson: Alright, this next test may involve trace amounts of Time Travel. So, word of advice: if you meet yourself on the testing track, don't make eye contact. Lab boys tell me that'll wipe out time. Entirely. Forward and backward. So do both of yourselves a favor and just let that handsome devil go about his business.
- In the original Command & Conquer: Red Alert, using the Chronosphere too much could trigger a mild form of these - a swirling distortion in the map that fried any nearby units or buildings with lightning or tore them apart as it roved around at random. Which naturally led to some players using as many Chrono-based abilities as possible in hopes of triggering one near their opponent's base.
- In Blinx the Time Sweeper the sweeper has to fix the damage caused by a rather large one of these.
- In a nutshell, this is basically what happens in The 3rd Birthday, the third installment of the Parasite Eve series. We're still trying to figure out just how it leads to mutant monsters snatching people through dimensional holes.
- Live A Live's Final Chapter takes place during such an event, with the protagonists warped to a world filled with numerous enemies from previous chapters, all of which take place in various time periods.
- The Time Eater in Sonic Generations deliberately does this as revenge against Sonic, thrusting Sonic into the White Space, a region beyond time, and shattering time from at least as far back as 1991. When Sonic finally faces the Time Eater, it's at the Center of Time, where the Time Eater has taken chunks of places from various moments in the franchise and sent them floating about.
- In the Forbidden Land in Shadow of the Colossus, time has stopped dead at high noon, probably as a result of Dormin's imprisonment. As you draw near the end of the ritual, however, the world starts to move again...in the form of a howling rainstorm in the dark.
- Some of the areas in Hyrule Warriors incorporate this in varying degrees, as the game's plot revolves around a villain pulling the locations from history. Often, bits of the rocky wasteland that the locations were dropped onto can be seen between the "time cracks". Lake Hylia, for example, is half its normal form from the "child" portion of Ocarina of Time and half its frozen form from the "adult" portion, with a line of glowy purple runes dividing it.
- Happens in Ciel nosurge's eighth chapter: Due to Nero causing grave interferences in Ra Ciela's timeline just to get Zill to send her back to her world prior to Ion and forcing Clackett to proceed with the sending, the Seven Axis that form the world get distorted, and two years later, reality itself begins breaking down, leading the entire world to an apocalypse that requires Nay to sing a Song Magic to return time to two years prior and undo everything Nero did.
- In Dragonball Xenoverse, this is what Demon-God Demigra is trying to achieve. 75 million years ago, the Supreme Kai of Time imprisoned him in a Crack in Time. He has spent all that time plotting his escape and now seeks to achieve it by causing enough distortions in history to weaken his prison. The real crash though is his ultimate objective which is to destroy the Time Vault where the Scrolls of Time, the records of all history, are kept. If he were to succeed then the entire universe would be undone.
- Undertale features this as an outcome in one of the game's endings; one of the characters comments on tracking multiple timelines which suddenly stop while he's fighting you to prevent this from happening.
- Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time: Dr. Zomboss says that one of these will happen if Crazy Dave manages to re-eat his taco.
- Quantum Break: The story begins with time being fractured as the result of a flawed time machine experiment, resulting in "stutters" of frozen time that gradually increase in frequency and severity, and will eventually lead to the complete End of Time.
- In Life Is Strange, a girl named Max finds out she spontaneously gained time powers, and uses them to save the life of another girl, who happens to be her former best friend Chloe, kicking off the plot. With that simple act, Time seems to have broke, and things around town start getting weird: it snows despite being 80 degrees; there's an unscheduled solar eclipse; whales and birds start dying inexplicably around town; a desynchronized double moon appears briefly in the sky; and finally the enormous twister that Max keeps having visions of threatens to wipe the town clean off the map. It's implied that altering the fate of Chloe caused time and local reality to go haywire, rather than Max's abuse of her time powers, and everything is trying to right itself.
- Black Mage's flow chart in this 8-Bit Theater comic lists a Time Crash as the only thing that would stop him from trying to kill all life on Earth.
- Chaos, who is trying to destroy all of existence, considers a Time Crash to be an acceptable way to get the job done.
- There was an arc in Irregular Webcomic! in which every plot thread created a time paradox at once and the universe was destroyed as a result.
- Followed by an entire arc of black black panels, and an entire arc of everyone hanging out in the afterlife.
- In And Shine Heaven Now the I-Jin Wells goes back in time to kill one of Integra's ancestors, Prince Hakim. This causing things to rapidly get chaotic until Alucard briefly comes face to face with D at which point time and the universe are completely torn apart and everybody from all possible timelines find themselves in the Whole Sort Of General Mish Mash.
- Parodied in the webcomic Beaver and Steve. The characters go back in time and Steve eats the apple that was supposed to fall on Newton's head; thus, Newton never invents gravity [sic] and in the future everything floats. Then, they travel back in time again and launch an apple at Newton's head but it ends up bludgeoning him to death. Finally, they travel back a third time and end up killing their own past selves. At this point, Beaver remarks, "Well, I'm no expert on temporal physics but my guess is the universe will implode." And then it does.
- In Homestuck, there is a group of characters that have a computer program which lets them speak to another group of characters in the past or future. It's eventually revealed that the groups will lose contact after an event called "the Scratch", which is shown as a timeline graph that is suddenly cut off and replaced with flickering scrawls. Ultimately subverted in that the Scratch is not a Time Crash, but actually a Reset Button, and it results in both groups finally being able to meet each other face-to-face.
- Every Doomed Timeline ends in one of these, though we do not see the mechanism by which this happens, beyond each one also ending in a Total Party Kill.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: Bonds Beyond Time Abridged features one of these when Jaden spoils the end of Yugi's series in front of him (but spoiling who won the duel between Jaden and Yugi, which happens the end of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, was considered okay because it was obvious). And it ends up being the way that Yuma was created.
- "Echoes and Fragments", a short story ran by Facebook's Ask Vector Prime, has "dimensional scoundrel extraordinaire" Sideways and Unwitting Pawn Gong tampering with reality, resulting in a version of The Transformers: The Movie where various Transformer characters are replaced by equivalents from the Gobots before being stopped by Vector Prime.
- Touch the Skyrim has this occur in version one. BONE DOGG'S attempts to ragdoll the Greybeards in slow-motion causes the passage of time to vastly speed up, to the point where a day is passing in a matter of a couple of minutes. Learning ZA WARUDO and obtaining the Master Sword do not help.
- A Futurama What If? episode ends with the space-time continuum being shattered by Fry not going to the future. Because of his previous adventures in time, the universe itself is tied in to his existence.
- In the main Futurama universe: at the end of Bender's Big Score Bender creates so many time paradox duplicates that he makes a tear in the fabric of reality. This becomes a major plot point in the sequel The Beast With A Billion Backs.
- The most apt Futurama example has to be "Time Keeps On Slipping", in which the removal of chronotons causes time to skip randomly. Professor Farnsworth explains the ramifications thusly:
"At this rate, by Tuesday it will be Thursday, by Wednesday it will be August, and by Thursday it will be the end of existence as we know it!"
- Chronos did this in the "Once and Future Thing" episode of Justice League Unlimited. Time started to crack and fall apart, and killed several people before it was stopped.
- In Transformers, this is known as a time storm, and happens whenever someone makes a massive change to history. Cases include the Quintessons bringing Alpha Trion forward in time to cause the original Transformers Rebellion to fail, Megatron killing Cyclonus, and Beast Wars Megatron attempting to destroy Optimus Prime what the latter was in stasis, before the events of Transformers: Generation 1.
- "Dinobot Island" involved the discovery of a time-displaced island of dinosaurs. It turns out that mucking about with the place very much (e.g., the Decepticons harvesting energy from the place) causes random time warps to appear all over the world.
- By Beast Wars, they'd figured out this trope would happen, and despite it being G1 Megatron's intention, Beast Wars Megs declared it a last resort. After all, even if you don't break the universe, you're still screwing with the events that led to your own existence.
- In the "It's About Time" episode of The Penguins of Madagascar, several future versions of Kowalski show up as a result of his experiments with a Time Machine. This ends up creating a vortex that threatens to wipe out reality (according to Kowalski, anyway) and ends only after the machine is destroyed.
- In the Kim Possible movie "A Sitch In Time," it is feared that the destruction of the Time Monkey will result in a Time Crash. It doesn't.
- In X-Men, Apocalypse tried to cause one of these so as to rebuild reality as he saw fit once the dust was cleared.
- In, of all shows, SpongeBob SquarePants, this happens in 'SB-129' when Squidward breaks a time machine in a panic, sending him to a weird dimension where he seems to be stuck in forever, but he gets back when he finds the time machine after breaking through the floor of the dimension.
- In the Chowder episode "Won-Ton Bombs" Chowder and Mung go back in time to make sure Mung doesn't embarrass himself in front of his mentor by replacing the bad dish he made with a good one. Despite Mung's warnings, Chowder takes Mung's past self back to the present, resulting in the universe being destroyed.
- The My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "It's About Time" plays this trope for laughs when Twilight, certain that some horrific disaster is going to occur by next Tuesday thanks to a visit from her future self, spends the week leading up to it trying to find out what the disaster is. As Tuesday draws ever closer with no idea of what catastrophe is coming or how to prevent it, a frantic and sleep-deprived Twilight decides that the only way to avert the disaster is to find a spell to stop time itself so that Tuesday never comes. Fortunately for the universe's sake, she doesn't find any such spell, and the impending disaster was just a misunderstanding resulting in a Stable Time Loop.
- This trope is played very horrifically in the season 5 finale when Starlight Glimmer's revenge plan of altering the past to stop the Sonic Rainboom from happening results in the timeline getting worse with each time, ending with a dead world fittingly known as the Ashland timeline.
- In The Smurfs episode "No Time For Smurfs", Handy, Brainy, Clumsy, and Smurfette tamper with Father Time's Sands Of Time hourglass first by causing time to go backwards, then by causing time to repeat previous events, creating temporal copies of themselves in the process, then they break the hourglass and cause time to stand still. They try to fix it by creating a new hourglass and putting the sands into it in the hopes of restoring time, but instead they create a time crash in which the sun repeatedly rises and sets and random weather patterns appear in the sky, which as Father Time reveals is a result of mixing the Sands Of Time. Fortunately, Mother Nature and Father Time join together to straighten out the whole mess, restoring everything to normal and causing the temporal copies to vanish.
- In the Aaahh!!! Real Monsters episode "Clockwise", Ickis is forced to wear a huge clock around his neck as punishment for being late to class, that he discovers can manipulate time when its hands are set. He spends most of the episode abusing this power, ignoring the warnings from his friends that doing so can cause damage to the space-time continuum. Eventually the clock breaks, resulting in a Time Crash where duplicates of all the characters from different points of time start appearing all at once. Normality is restored when Ickis manages to fix the clock, sending him back to the beginning of the day where he is happy to receive a more mundane punishment.