Some heroes have the misfortune of ending up in a strange place: maybe in the past, or in a world where they never existed
or (if they're really unlucky) a world where they're a completely different person (and their best friend hates their guts, while the villains have them under their thumb). From the narrative's point of view, The Hero
's predicament is usually important to them
, but mean a lot less in the bigger picture. Luckily, people who are thrown back in time
or Trapped in Another World
will find a member of the Time Police
, another traveller (with more experience) or even a god
who'll help them get safely home. This invokes a bit of Fridge Logic
, as anyone who can help them has to be extremely powerful (being capable of travelling to and fro) and is usually implied to have more important things to worry about than one displaced peon (assuming that one person out of place isn't
considered a serious problem
, of course).
When dealing with authority figures it can be justified (after all, the ruler of a country still has some responsibility to all their subjects and the police are supposed to serve the public, why should the ruler of a multiverse or the Time Police
be any different?) as well as heroes (a good hero will always help the needy, time travellers should be no exception) however when gods or other higher beings
are involved it can invoke a bit of Fridge Logic
(although they might have their reasons). The helper in question might not actually be that more powerful than the protagonist, but have a job dealing with much more important problems.
Places the protagonist could end up with this sort of help in can include;
As long as the protagonist is stranded and someone with enough know-how to help turns up it's this trope.
This can often be a type of Big Good
. If Time Travel
is involved you can expect them to be a member of the Time Police
. This sort of character may overlap with Mr. Exposition
. Contrast Orphean Rescue
, when the hero fulfils this role for someone else.
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Anime and Manga
- In Sailor Moon Sailor Pluto is the Soldier of Space-Time and is described as "a goddess, eternally guarding the Portal of Space and Time". Chibi-usa finds her at the gates of time while attemping to go back to the future. Subverted at first, considering she has specific orders NOT to open the gates, but she helps anyway.
- The guy in Hot Tub Time Machine who fixes the hot tub and acts like he knows about time travel. However, he doesn't tell them about the time travel.
- Pleasantville had the TV Repairman, who instigated the Trapped in TV Land plot, and then ineffectually tried to stop the fallout from it.
- Rufus gave Bill & Ted the time machine, showed them how to use it, and tended to turn up for advice when the boys found themselves in trouble. He was from the future of prosperity, peace, and excellence that they ushered in, and had a vested interest in helping them because without them his future would not exist.
- The Wizard of Oz
- In Night Watch, Lu-Tze helps Sam Vimes after he's sent back in time (even as much as telling the other Time Monks he just feels like helping him out) even though they're pretty busy fixing the world's Continuity Snarls. It's strongly implied that Vimes was sent back in the fist place because he was over the Library when the Glass Clock broke reality, so Lu-Tze feels somewhat responsible.
- In Inferno, the living poet Dante is given a free pass into and out of Hell to report on what he sees there, and is given the soul of Roman poet and satirist Virgil (a man who was in hell because he had the misfortune to live and die before the mission of Christ), as his tour guide.
- The Three Bald Doctors in Stephen King's Insomnia. Two of them, Clothos and Lachesis, were benevolent; the third, Atropos, was decidedly not.
- In Warrior Cats, when Jayfeather is trapped in the past with the Ancients, the mysterious cat Rock shows up to take him back to his time period. This happens twice.
- In the Time Scout series, getting stuck in the past (downtime) isn't common, because it's an industry and everyone involved is very, very careful. However, it does happen occasionally, and when it does, the best are sent after them. The best being, basically, Indiana Jones, only with a much better ability to blend in. Time scouts and guides are trained to be invisible anywhen they go.
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- The Guild of Temporal Adventurers plays this role in some of Michael Moorcock's stories.
Live Action Television
- In Doctor Who The Doctor does this occasionally. He travels through time and space in the TARDIS dealing with various disasters of all sorts though.
- In the short "A Matter of Minutes" from the second incarnation of The Twilight Zone, the foreman of a group of people (played by Adolph Caesar) takes time to explain to a couple who ended up 'outside time' how time really worked, even showing them an animated computer graphic prepared for such an event.
- In Quantum Leap it was implied that some conscious force (possibly even God) was guiding Sam' jumps to ensure that he did the most good. This was a deconstruction since this mysterious guide was never actually seen or had a voice (although they met someone who might have been them). It only made itself known by directing events like an actual deity would and, of course, when it did more or less directly interact with the main character, it was a total Mind Screw.
- When Lois and Clark started having story arcs involving time travel and alternate universes, none other than H.G. Wells himself arrives to advise the heroes.
- An episode involving virtual reality has Jimmy Olsen advise Superman on how to catch the bad guys in the virtual world.
- In the Eerie Indiana episode "The Lost Hour" an old Milkman saves Marshall from The Garbage Men in an empty, alternate dimension of Eerie. The milkman implies that he's an older version of Marshall.
- Star Trek: Voyager. In "Future's End" Voyager finally gets back to Earth after falling through a space-time rift, but in 1996. At the end of the episode a member of Starfleet from the future appears to send them back to the correct timeline. Subverted when Captain Janeway asks if they can return to the correct time, but stay on Earth. Citing the Temporal Prime Directive he has to refuse, and they're sent back to the Delta Quadrant on the other side of the galaxy.
- Rachel Alucard from BlazBlue helps Makoto get back to the "main" timeline (after being trapped in one of the many timelines where Noel never existed) in Story Mode. Her reason for doing this apparently being that Makoto has "moxie".
- When the group in Chrono Trigger first winds up at the End of Time, an old man there actually the guru Gaspar gives a basic explanation of the time travel system and latter keeps track of what you are supposed to do. Conveniently, this is the first time the party has a chance to time travel freely, rather than being pushed into the gates by outside events.
- A Time Travel focused Carmen Sandiego game had these.
- Teddie is set up to fill this role in Persona 4 but he's just as clueless as everyone else as to what's going on. Still, he does lead the group to the people inside the TV until Rise takes over the job.
- Dungeons & Dragons would have Dungeon Master pop in Once an Episode to dispense advice to the characters lost from our world.
- Miss Information from Histeria! would guide people through historic events and describe them, usually getting some details hilariously wrong and needing to be corrected.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) (as well as the comic) there's a character called Lord Simultaneous who holds the time scepter and generally manages time with his incompetent assistant Renet. He's even voiced like a New York tour guide, and has been key to helping our heroes out of time displacement related predicaments more than once (to the point of Deus ex Machina). Read more here.