Bill: We gotta go. This is a history report, not a babe report.Time travel provides all kinds of possibilities for a romance arc: some of them comic, some of them tragic, and some of them bittersweet. As a comedy trope, time travel can result in a culture clash between two otherwise suited people, since different times have different manners and mores. More dramatically, a time travel plot may force a protagonist to make a decision between returning home or staying in a different era. Time travel can also serve as a force which reluctantly separates the couple, if one must return to his or her original time. Time travel can sometimes result in the ultimate Long-Distance Relationship, if the couple tries to make it work despite the time barrier. In some cases, Love Transcends Spacetime, and a couple separated by time are able to be reunited simply through The Power of Love. Alas, this is not always the case with a Time Travel Romance. Sometimes separated lovers are separated forever. In other cases, they have to go through a great deal of effort (using magic or science) to be reunited. Of course, separation isn't the only possible source of romantic drama in a time travel plot. A Time Travel Romance may lead to Time Travel Escape, if the object of affection needs to be rescued from a historically-necessary but unfortunate death. Love across time may also lead to My Own Grandpa, which could be played for either comedy or drama. In many time travel stories, the cross-time romance is a subplot, rather than the main story. If the romance is the main plot of a work which involves time travel merely as a means of uniting, challenging, or separating love interests, then you're likely dealing with a Paranormal Romance. See also Reincarnation Romance and Eternal Love, which describe other methods of extending a romance arc across time. A strangely common subtrope involves one lover attempting to use time-travel in order to save their beloved from some kind of fate, repeating the same series of events for what is often implied to be hundreds or even thousands of times without giving up, all in the name of love.
Ted: But Bill, those are historical babes!
Ted: But Bill, those are historical babes!
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- This 2012 advert for the UK Department Store John Lewis featuring a girl from 1925 the store's founding year, and a guy from 2012 romancing each other across a split screen.
Anime & Manga
- Happens in Golden Days between Kei and Setsu and Jin and Mitsuya.
- InuYasha, with Kagome and Inuyasha. However, Kagome travels back and forth through the Bone Eater's Well located in her family shrine's back yard so often, they might as well live in adjacent towns. At least until the end, where the Bone Eater's Well stops working and they are torn apart for at least three years. When the well starts working again, by the time of Kagome's highschool graduation, she has to choose between the Warring States Era and her own time — she obviously decides to stay in the past and marries Inuyasha.
- El-Hazard: The Magnificent World has Ifurita getting sent back in time thousands of years and taking The Slow Path to get back to the main character Makoto, so he could go meet her for the first time. Eventually Makoto finds out how to Time Travel to her right after that point, and they're reunited.
- In Kamisama Kiss, this is actually what happened between Tomoe and "Yukiji", as the Yukiji Tomoe fell in love with was actually Nanami all along.
- In Anatolia Story, a girl named Yuri Suzuki is thrown into the old Hitite Empire and becomes the concubine of one of the Hitite princes, Kail Mursili. Both are aware of the trope, and in fact Kail points out the HUGE inconveniences. But in the end, Yuri decides to stay in Hattusa and officially marry Kail.
- In the "Dead End Kids" arc of Runaways, the team is sent back in time to 1907, where Victor falls in love with local girl Lillie. It doesn't work out, and it's later revealed that their travelling back in time was a result of the machinations of Lillie's modern-day self, who had hoped that Victor would take her away from the brewing gang war of that era... which turned out to be an unforeseen consequence of the Runaways being sent back in time.
- I Killed Adolf Hitler: the main characters' romance revolves around the botched assassination of Adolf Hitler. Both characters have to walk The Slow Path to end up together, alive, in the present, but as old people.
- In the Belgian comic Yoko Tsuno, when the group time travels to the Bruges of the Renaissance times, Pol falls in love with the Innocent Flower Girl Mieke. The group brings her to the modern times, so she and Pol stay together.
- During the second fight with the Future Brotherhood in All-New X-Men, the time-displaced teenaged Angel begins to take an interest in X-23. They go out on a wild date in issue 31, in which somehow Laura (despite her Healing Factor) gets wasted enough that she blacks out and Warren has to relate the events, and which is also heavily implied to have ended in sex. For most of the subsequent ten issues the nature of their relationship is left up in the air, primarily due to Laura's standoffishness on the matter. They finally have a Relationship Upgrade to Official Couple in issue 40.
- In the Legion of Super-Heroes, Brainiac-5 (Querl Dox) and Supergirl (Kara Zor-El). Brainy always falls hard for Kara as soon as he lays his eyes on her, and she likes him back. But he can't live in the 21st century and she can't stay permanently in the future. Her oftentimes prolonged absences have led Brainy to pull some truly dumb stunts.
- In Memento Vivere, a Final Fantasy X fanfiction, the romance between Auron and Rikku is a main plot point of the story.
- In the Sonic the Hedgehog, pairing up nearly anyone in the franchise with Silver (except for Blaze, who's from another dimension, and Gold, who's in the same time period as Silver) can come across as this. Amy, Tikal, Shade, you name it.
Films — Animation
- In Voices of a Distant Star, due to lack of FTL, lovers are separated by relativistic considerations and light travel time.
- In The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, there's a potential romance between the main character Makoto and one of her closest friends, Chiaki.
- In Your Name, the protagonists are not only living in completely different places (Taki lives in Tokyo while Mitsuha lives in the countryside) but are also three years apart, meaning both characters are time-traveling when they switch bodies.
Films — Live-Action
- In Back to the Future Part III, Doc Brown unexpectedly encounters love in the Wild West with a much younger woman named Clara. They stay together and they travel through time together.
- The movie version of Crusade in Jeans used this. The original book version didn't though.
- Kate & Leopold serves as a good example of a romantic comedy incorporating time travel as a way of creating a culture clash between the protagonists, an Impoverished Patrician from Victorian England and an Office Lady from our time.
- The Lake House: Dr. Kate Forster and Alex Wyler fall in love via a trans-temporal mailbox.
- Somewhere in Time is all about this, with a guy named Richard being so determined to meet the girl who was the model for a beautiful portrait that he basically psyches himself back in time to find her. They're torn apart, and then reunite when he dies.
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home gave us Kirk and Gillian Taylor, although it's very low-key compared to Kirk's usual romances. Apart from an Italian dinner cut short, a bit of flirting, and a hug, nothing happens between them. (This is probably because the part was originally written for Eddie Murphy.)
- The original The Terminator had Sarah Connor falling in love with her rescuer from the future.
- The movie version of The Time Traveler's Wife is all about this trope.
- In Diana Wynne Jones's The Crown of Dalemark, Maewen is transported back in time and falls in love with a boy she meets in the past. At the end of the novel, they're reluctantly parted when she returns to her own time. Then he shows up in her time, and it's revealed that, due to his ancestry, he's The Ageless.
- William M. Lee's short story "A Message From Charity" is about the telepathy-based romance between Peter Wood, a modern-day teenaged boy living one of the small towns surrounding Boston, and Charity Payne, a teenaged girl living in the very same town, but 250 years earlier. They never meet, except in their thoughts.
- Ransom Rigg's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children features Jacob going back in time and falling in love with his grandfather's ex, and having to make the decision of whether or not to stay. He does
- The Dandelion Girl is about a man falling in love with a girl from the future. Bring a tissue.
- Robert A. Heinlein employed this trope throughout his later novels.
- Time Enough for Love features protagonist Lazarus Long traveling back thousands of years to visit his original family in 1917 Kansas City, Missouri. Along the way, he meets, falls in love with, sleeps with, and breaks his Masquerade to his mother. They are parted by World War I and him being MIA in combat, thanks to Love Makes You Dumb.
- The Number of the Beast picks up this story where it left off, as Lazarus needs the help of the Burroughs family and their much more efficient time machine to rescue his mother from her reported death in the 1990s and bring her to his present time. After she is successfully retrieved and undergoes rejuvenation therapy, she joins his Polyamory.
- To Sail Beyond the Sunset has Maureen herself, now an operative in the Time Police, stage the rescue of her own father from World War II Britain, and also for the purpose of sleeping with him. Parental Incest in mainstream Speculative Fiction, thy name is Heinlein.
- Warrior Cats has a variant on this. Jayfeather travels to the past taking the place of Jay's Wing who he is a reincarnation of and meets Half-Moon, who is in love with Jay's Wing. Later, they come to genuinely love each other.
- Rachel Weintraub / Moneta and Kassad in Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos. Like River Song, Moneta travels in a different time stream than Kassad, but she keeps meeting him during important training of his early years training under FORCE (but when they first meet she is in her late twenties, he is younger), which causes him to fall in love with her. She, on the other hand, has been in love with him long before, as Rise of Endymion divulges and even sends him off with a goodbye kiss with the admonition to be on the look out for her as he returns to his own time, after having dying in combat with the Shrike and being taken by Moneta into the Time Tombs. Kassad's paradoxes in the time stream in connexion with Moneta are delineated in more depth on the work's page.
- There is a romance in Dinoverse like this. Time travel in that 'verse entails possessing the bodies of whatever's big at the time, and a girl named Patience ends up in the body of a hulking carnivorous acrocanthosaur, soon befriending and then being attracted to a bright native acro which she nicknames Green Knight or GK. Her host had made overtures to him before, but he hadn't been interested; he wanted Patience. She had angst over how they could never be, since she didn't want to stay a dinosaur. He died trying to make a Heroic Sacrifice to save one of her human friends - he failed - but it was okay, because he and the friend both ended up in the human's body. This meant that Patience and GK could be together after all! ...along with the friend. Strangely, all three parties were okay with this.
- Connie Willis:
- Blackout: Colin Templer searches spacetime for his lost time-traveling love
- To Say Nothing of the Dog: Ned and Verity fall in love during the course of averting the crisis. Somewhat of a special case, though, as in both cases the characters are time-travelers who fall in love with other time-travelers from the same future, in the past.
- This is part of the main premise of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.
- Time and Again by Jack Finney: A New Yorker in 1970 (who thinks Victorian women are hot) travels for a secret government project back to 1882, where he finds a girlfriend.
- Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Bathory in Count and Countess.
- The Michael Crichton novel Timeline has André Marek, a Yale archaeology researcher traveling to 1357 France with his associates. While getting mixed up in one of the many skirmishes of The Hundred Years War, he falls in love with the English noblewoman Lady Claire. When the others return to the present, the Middle Ages loving Marek decides to stay behind. In the epilogue of the novel, the others learn Marek married Lady Claire and sired children. His final words were "I have chosen a good life."
- Tomorrows Ghost by R. Chetwynd-Hayes, based around a romance between a Regency-era woman and a 1980s man.
- Harry Turtledove's Crosstime Traffic series has elements of this, with a bit of Star-Crossed Lovers mixed in.
- Miss Price decides to marry Emelius in Bedknob and Broomstick, returning to the 17th century with him.
- In Edmond Hamilton's The Star Kings, a person from the 20th century swaps bodies with a prince from the far future. While there, he and a princess fall in love with each other (the princess is in love with him, despite being unaware of the Body Swap). At the end, he returns to his own time and, depending on the edition, the princess either follows him by swapping bodies with a permanently comatose woman, or makes telepathic contact to say they are working on a way to bring him to the future physically (setting the ground for the sequel).
- The premise of 11/22/63 is that Jake Epping, a high school teacher from 2011, steps through a portal to 1958 so that he can prevent the Kennedy assassination. However, since he's got about five years before the dreaded date comes around, he has time to get a job teaching again and fall madly in love with the school's Hot Librarian Sadie Dunhill. Sadie ends up getting killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, and Jake finds out that his mucking around in the past has made such a monstrous Timey-Wimey Ball that he needs to undo all of it, making a new timeline where he never meets Sadie and Oswald never shoots her. Back in 2011, Jake finds Sadie, now a stranger over twice his age, and dances with her one last time, their love momentarily transcending the decades and universes now forever holding them apart.
Live Action TV
- Outlander is based on this trope: a woman accidentally travels back in time and has a Perfectly Arranged Marriage with a Scottish Highlander, but it's 1743 and she knows the Battle Of Culloden is not far off.
- Doctor Who:
- In "The Girl In The Fireplace", the Doctor fell in lust with Madame de Pompadour (you know, the French King's mistress) while they're separated by extreme Narnia Time. It verged on The Dulcinea Effect on his part, while she spent the best part of her life in love with him. The Doctor returns to enlist her as a companion in his adventures, only to find she's died of old age waiting for him.
- Then there's River Song, supposedly the Doctor's wife. She is also a time traveller, but moves on her own. Though it was indicated at first that they are meeting in roughly reverse order, later episodes show that it's a little more complicated than that. For example, the Doctor is present at her birth, but though it's the first time she meets him, it's not the last time he meets her. The only point we know for sure is that the last time River meets the Doctor is in "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" in which she dies.
- The two have adapted by keeping diaries of their encounters with one another and comparing notes when they meet, to avoid accidentally revealing any information on events the earlier of the two hasn't experienced yet.
- "The Husbands of River Song" is, from the Doctor's point of view, their last time together. The Doctor spends the next twenty-four (relative) years in seclusion until "The Return of Doctor Mysterio".
- This trope has been zigzagged a lot with regards to the Doctor and Clara Oswald (Word of God, specifically Peter Capaldi, is that their relationship was a romance, just not a standard one). To explain in detail would turn this into a copy of Clara's character page, as well as the recap pages for a good portion of the episodes from Series 9 (2015) so best to just go there. However, one straight example of this to note is the Eleventh Doctor (as played by Matt Smith) encountering one of Clara's many incarnations in Victorian London and falling for her in "The Snowmen" (opening the door for the romance that followed).
- Then there's the Doctor's various romances with women across time, including Queen Elizabeth I, Marilyn Monroe, and (implied) Nefertiti.
- The Flipside of Dominic Hide: Dominick is from the future and Jane is from the 1980s. They have a passionate affair which leaves Jane happier, but pregnant and Dominick more emotionally healthy.
- Lost had the romance between Penny and Desmond, which was largely introduced during time-travel episodes.
- Phil and Keely's romance in Phil of the Future. Eventually played for drama as Phil and his family are sent back to the future.
- Jen and Wes in Power Rangers Time Force.
- Primeval: gives us Lady Emily Merchant, from Victorian England, and Matt Anderson, a man from the future.
- James T. Kirk has another tragic example in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The City On The Edge Of Forever." Kirk is sent back to Great Depression New York City through a Negative Space Wedgie Time Portal. There, he meets and falls in love with Edith Keeler, a kind-hearted, visionary shelter worker. The tragedy is that unless Keeler dies, the Nazis will win World War II and Starfleet will never exist. The punch is all the worse in the end, as Kirk has to personally intercede to prevent Dr. McCoy from saving Keeler's life.
- The Fridge Logic in this one is quite hard, because there were many obvious options to save Keeler without harming history- including simply taking her with them back to the future (Since she was supposed to die, this would not have changed history, except to go from "killed by a car" to just "missing forever" . . . but then Kirk couldn't be The Casanova and kiss an alien every week!)
- Also, the Guardian of Forever basically says that time would only correct itself when the same conditions (in this case, Edith Keeler's death) were achieved. The fact that Kirk fell in love with her makes it a bigger sacrifice. Had she not died, they wouldn't have gone anywhere.
- Shippu Mahou Daisakusen: Kickle & Laycle have this dynamic. In the end, they both go back to the future, to Kickle's time period, and Laycle becomes a part of the family.
- Professor Layton and the Unwound Future: Claire and Layton have this going on. Claire was thought to have died in an accident involving a time travel experiment, but she ended up being sent ten years into the future instead. Unfortunately, as it was still experimental, this results in molecular instability, and they are ultimately forced to go back to their own time... in other words, back to the time machine explosion that would kill her. Even Layton takes off his hat in tears.
Claire (JP): It appears my time is up, at last. It was nice to see you again. It ended so suddenly; my... last time travel.
- Played with in Fire Emblem Awakening, where the Second Generation Characters are all time travelers who fled from a Bad Future where Grima destroyed the world. Now for the most part, they cannot fall in love with the First Generation characters, averting this trope... until you realize they can fall for the Avatar, who is a friend of the First Generation characters and a potential parent of the kids in his/her own right. And to top it all off, such a pairing will give these future children their own Kid from the Future: Morgan (who can also be the future kids' little sibling). In this case though, none of them actually want to go back to their original Bad Future — and even if they did want to return, that's a feat which may be impossible to do anyways since Grima trashed everything. note . The fandom is split on whether this is a good move story/gameplay wise or a really squicky deal, since while the future kids are close to the Avatar's age (in fact, some are implied to be actually older than some of the potential First-Gen spouses), they are marrying someone who was at least two decades their senior in their original timeline, while their "current day" selves haven't even been born yet (with the exception of Lucina, and she's still only an infant).
- Happens every so often in Gardens of Time. , even when in-story these types of romances are not allowed. There are two huge examples of the trope:
- Richard Wakefield found himself in Ancient Egypt, right when Cleopatra VII was about to commit suicide. He felt sympathy for the lonely and desperate Queen, disuaded her from killing herself and entered a romance with her. Bad thing, Cleopatra had a Face–Heel Turn and became a Time Traveler herself, causing LOTS of messes.
- Eleanor Lansing Purlieu meets Sir Geoffrey, supposed to be one of King Arthur's Knights Of The Round Table, and they also become involved. Then Geoffrey dies in an Heroic Sacrifice, Eleanor almost loses it...
- Fate/stay night; Saber and Shirou. Saber is King Arthur, while Shirou is from the modern era. This eventually leads to a rather Bittersweet Ending, until the Realta Nua Updated Re-release first made them Star-Crossed Lovers, then proof that Love Transcends Spacetime upon their (impossible) reunion.
- Considering that it calls itself "A Time Traveling Otome Game", Area X is obviously this, as the heroine can travel to different timelines and romance a different guy in each one, with the Love Interest of her time being the only aversion of this trope. Sort of—further time-traveling shenanigans mean that which romances count as this is a lot more complicated, though Yuras will always count, along with at least one other Love Interest.
- Between Sigma and Diana in Zero Time Dilemma and the backstory of Virtue's Last Reward. When he first meets her, she's already known him for days. When she first meets him, he hasn't seen her alive for decades and built a gynoidnote in her image. Complicating this even further are their 20 year-old daughter and 124 year-old son who both don't even get born in the timelines that either Virtue's Last Reward or the Golden Ending take place in.
- Rosemary and Crow's route in Rose Of Winter. Whether or not it works out depends on which ending you get.
- Ikemen Sengoku: Romances Across Time has its main character get unexpectedly sent back in time to the Sengoku era of Japan where she makes the acquaintance of Nobunaga Oda and other famous Sengoku warlords and has to deal with Culture Clash and developing feelings for one of these warlords in spite of Sasuke cautioning her against letting love cloud her desire to return to her time. She can avert this trope, however, by falling for Sasuke instead who came from the same time as her (once his route comes out, that is).
- In Homestuck, Dirk Strider and Roxy Lalonde exist years into the future relative to Jake English and Jane Crocker, but are still capable of communicating with them with such ease that the latter two aren't even aware of the time difference. Despite this, Dirk has fallen for Jake, who in turn has shown himself not at all entirely opposed to pursing this. It seems likely that the two would be able to meet up within Sburb, however.
- Played with in "Manly Guys Doing Manly Things" in the relationship between The Commander and Jonesy, who simply thinks he is a particularly creative liar or delusional, but is subsequently proved wrong about this.
- Dinosaur Train has an extreme example; The Conductor — a Troodon, one of the last dinosaurs, is in a relationship with Erma — an Eoraptor, one of the first dinosaurs. They live nearly 200 million years apart — the same time difference as it would be if, say, a Stegosaurus started dating a HUMAN — but it's very clear that they love each other.
- In Justice League Unlimited, Supergirl falls in love with Brainiac 5 of the Legion of Super-Heroes when they go into the future, and she stays there to be with him when the rest of the heroes go back.
- One episode of 101 Dalmatians: The Series features the main cast (and Cruella) arriving in a time and space-transcending village cursed by a witch as a response to Cruella's ancestor's harshness. The witch's spell reduces all but Cruella and Spot to become mindlessly happy and never want to leave. During their stay, Lucky meets up with a carriage pup named Rebecca and becomes smitten with her, seemingly because of the spell. When the spell is broken and the main cast are making their escape before the village disappears, Lucky shows legitimate feelings for Rebecca when he asks her to come with them. It's shown to be quite mutual, but Rebecca chooses to remain to keep an eye on Cruella's ancestor. And because it wasn't enough of a Bittersweet Ending, Laser-Guided Amnesia kicks in, leaving Lucky completely unaware of her existence not long afterwards.
- Time travel plays a role in Fry and Leela's Will They or Won't They? relationship in Futurama. Fry is also his own grandfather by having slept with his grandmother in a trip to 1947 Roswell.
- She-Ra: Princess of Power episode "Darksmoke and Fire" had Adora sent over a hundred years into Eternia's past by a plot of Hordac's. While there, she meets Tarvan, who grows to adore her. She has to leave him behind when Granamyr returns her to the future.